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post #98581 of 98595 Unread Yesterday, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by tubetwister View Post
Sure there is business case for that OTOH with viewership declining at most networks (other than sports ) one could make a business case for better programing also . ☺It seems like IPTV and some cable channel original programming shows are showing the way but the network types may be asleep at the wheel !
TV viewership might be declining, but much of that is simply because there are a myriad of ways to view things now, most of which are not part of the ratings metric, and there are so many more outlets for our attention. Quality of even the best content can always be improved, but that's no guarantee that viewership would increase and who's to say what needs to be improved or how. Some of the best shows have been cancelled before the first year was up, so it still boils down to one's definition of "good" vs someone else's. I look at the popularity ratings on Netflix and wonder who the heck is watching this stuff. What it proves to me is that someone will watch almost anything, like Syfy Saturday night movies. And cable channels don't need near the viewership numbers to make something profitable and they don't have the same constraints, but take a poll of everyone's Top 10 and I think you'd be surprised at just how many shows make someone's list. Heck, I would be surprised if some MeTV and RetroTV shows didn't make someone's list. Then too, when networks pay some bozo millions to read a teleprompter and call it news or pay someone to talk about nothing of substance for hours on end and call it entertainment, it's understandable why their dramas and sitcoms are popular in spite of quality, or lack of.

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post #98582 of 98595 Unread Yesterday, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by DoubleDAZTV
viewership might be declining, but much of that is simply because there are a myriad of ways to view things now,
One can view the networks on any number of devices now even more network iptv streaming is opening up every day so that may not hold water for long maybe the network execs use that excuse for a crutch to explain their decline and lack of innovation when being interviewed or talking to investors? OTOH the exigent pressure for short term profits by their investors and parent co's may not leave room for risk and innovation so they just work in circles it seems .

Most traditional broadcast network shows are available on the web the next day folks can watch them on just about anything now although they might not monetize as well there so that could be a legitimate problem for them.

Quality of even the best content can always be improved, but that's no guarantee that viewership would increase and who's to say what needs to be improved or how.
Be that as it may they aren't in most cases attempting to make just good content so best isn't an adjective I would attribute to the broadcast networks. Nielsen ratings ,polls and measurement systems by their own admission (Nielsen's) are flawed and antiquated so the ratings networks base programming decisions may be somewhat invalid. ofc good programming should be effectively scheduled also some good shows probably got cancelled early due to
poor scheduling decisions .

take a poll of everyone's Top 10 and I think you'd be surprised at just how many shows make someone's list.
No argument there I'm surprised at some of the drivel some folks watch but if that's all they know that's what they will watch if they watch .
Most TV programming is circling the drain but you are right people watch it so it may be around for a while .

Then too, when networks pay some bozo millions to read a teleprompter and call it news or pay someone to talk about nothing of substance for hours on end and call it entertainment, it's understandable why their dramas and sitcoms are popular in spite of quality, or lack of.
Some of the TV and entertainment personalities and executive compensation is way out of line to what they contribute much like *some of the executive compensation in business now and then and *some TV and Hollywood stars maybe more of that money should go to better programming or the balance sheets or the rank and file.

It can work both ways the good talking heads can often be more interesting than some of the silly dramas they make now save for a few and almost all of the sitcoms ofc the 'other talking heads' (the one's I don't like) ☺☺ aren't good for much of anything !☺☺

And cable channels don't need near the viewership numbers to make something profitable and they don't have the same constraints
It could be the traditional business model is broken and something innovative like iptv (or like iTunes did with music ) will eventually flush it out in the marketplace anyway .

Ofc these are just some of my opinions and speculations so they might not be true on some points or valid for everyone .

Hires Music formats ..............."Why does it sound like a CD ?" ............. can we make it louder "?
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- David Sarnoff's associates at RCA the 1920's -

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TV Notes
Goodbye, Nation. Goodbye, Blowhard Self.
Stephen Colbert Prepares Final 'Colbert Report'
By Bill Carter, The New York Times - Dec. 17, 2013

For nine years, Stephen Colbert has relentlessly maintained his pompous, deeply ridiculous but consistently appealing conservative blowhard character on his late-night show, “The Colbert Report” — so much so that when he puts the character to rest for good on Thursday night, he may have to resort to comicide. The Grim Reaper is his last guest.

Devoted fans of “The Colbert Report” (the final T is silent) have dreaded this day since April 10, when their favorite late-night star announced that he was leaving to become the successor to David Letterman on CBS.

Mr. Colbert has steered clear of commenting on his plans for the last show, other than on-air comments that the end is near. But whatever comic exercise Mr. Colbert devises to end his multi-award-winning run on Comedy Central, including perhaps some symbolic hara-kiri for the character he brought into American homes four nights a week, he has left an indelible mark on late-night television comedy.

And he did it in a way almost no one thought was possible, or sustainable: as a fake host, a fictional character using Mr. Colbert’s own name who was an elaborate parody of a bloviating political talk show host.

Jimmy Kimmel, the host of ABC’s late-night show, with whom Mr. Colbert shares a manager (James Dixon), said he had been concerned when Mr. Colbert announced his intention to create the parody show in 2005.

“I remember pleading with Dixon to tell Stephen it was a terrible mistake to do a character the whole time,” Mr. Kimmel said. “That it wasn’t going to last, and also not to name the show ‘The Report’ as a joke. It was just going to confuse everybody. And he did, anyway, and of course, it was a smashing success in every way.”

Mr. Colbert appeared in character not simply on his show, but in appearances elsewhere, including a memorable knockout performance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2006. (He stirred Bush administration outrage with comments like: “I believe the government that governs best is the government that governs least, and by these standards, we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq.”) He even remained at his blowhard best when he testified before Congress in 2010. (Before a Congressional subcommittee on immigration issues and farm labor, Mr. Colbert’s character said things like, “Maybe the easier answer is just to have scientists develop vegetables that pick themselves.”)

Mr. Colbert has worked with many of his late-night colleagues, including Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon, appearing in character, of course. (He showed up on Mr. Fallon’s debut “Tonight” show on NBC, pouring a bucket of pennies down the host’s collar, then welcoming him with a colorful phrase.)

Like other competitors, Mr. Fallon professed unabashed awe that Mr. Colbert could sustain this performance at such a high level for so long. “Before he won the Emmy, I had been preaching that people had to recognize what he was doing: He’s faking a person,” Mr. Fallon said. “I was one of those who said, ‘He’ll do it for six months and then he’ll move on.’ Imagine if you were still trying to do the Coneheads on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ It’s gets old. But not this. He’s a genius.”

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
But for all the effort and talent Mr. Colbert has invested in keeping the character going, he appears resolute in his intention to allow him to pass into comic history. This decision, Mr. O’Brien said, reflects tremendous confidence. “There is something really cool about Stephen saying, ‘This needs to stop at some point, so let’s stop now,’ ” he said.

In some cases, a classic comic creation defines a performer for life. Jack Benny was long associated with being a cheapskate, butchering his violin playing and lying about his age. Classic comic characters are often too fully realized to abandon.

Mr. O’Brien said that hanging on to a persona was an American convention, while British performers seem willing to walk away from their signature creations. He cited John Cleese’s Basil Fawlty and Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge (a narcissistic media personality), though Mr. Coogan has resurrected Partridge a few times.

Ricky Gervais has also recently revived David Brent, the bumbling manager he portrayed on the British version of “The Office,” in live concert performances. “I did consider not bringing him back to life,” Mr. Gervais said. But in a new context — Brent as would-be rock star — the character could be seen as realistically having moved on.

“What’s interesting about what Colbert is doing,” Mr. Gervais said in an interview, “what’s brave and possibly confusing about it, is that he’s always used his own name.” He added: “It can be a dangerous game to play. He presented himself as the character, and now he’s not going to be it. And people are going to miss the character. It’s a joy to watch someone do a really great parody with a character saying the opposite of what you know is right.”

That is the essence of what is upsetting so many of Mr. Colbert’s fans. While moving up to a bigger stage is in the tradition of late-night stars pushing their careers forward — as Mr. Letterman, Mr. O’Brien and Mr. Kimmel have all done — none of those moves have required a singular comic character’s disappearing forever.

Some who have worked on “The Colbert Report” have said that Mr. Colbert was tiring of the demands of constantly staying in character, and that he had subtly been doing pieces that did not depend on it. (His recent skewering of sweep month excesses by “Good Morning, America” was a comedic tour de force with little connection to his character.)

Mr. O’Brien commended Mr. Colbert for breaking what he called the American tradition. “Our system is, if there’s another nickel to be found in it, you keep playing that character,” he said, “just beat it to death — and then do it another 10 years.”

He added: “You always have performers saying, ‘I think I’ll go out on top, while it’s still great.’ And then it’s a sitcom, ‘Who’s the Boss?,’ and it’s the 18th season, and you’re like: ‘Tony, I like you, but ... .’ This is one of the few times when a performer is saying, ‘I want to get out while it’s still great,’ and it’s actually true.”

But going out on a slab — if that’s Mr. Colbert’s plan? “I think that’s a really funny idea,” Mr. Kimmel said. “And it would make it clear to people that he’s not that character anymore.”

Mr. Gervais agreed: “As surreal as that would be, it does make people get it. ‘I was that character, and that character is dead now. Do you get it? This is me now.’ ”

And then, presumably, Stephen Colbert can turn up next September on CBS as Mr. Letterman’s successor and be quickly accepted as a real talk show host.

“I think he’ll be great and funny, and people are going to still enjoy him plenty on that level,” Mr. O’Brien said. “And then, every now and then, there’ll be a cooking segment.”
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TV Notes
BET veteran Stephen Hill promoted to president of programming
By Greg Braxton, Los Angeles Times - Dec. 17, 2014

BET Networks have named BET veteran Stephen Hill as its president of programming, signifying an apparent change in leadership strategy for the cable network that targets African Americans.

Hill, who has been at BET for more than 15 years and most recently was president of music programming and specials, will succeed Loretha Jones, who departed in September following a six-year stint as head of original programming, news and development.

In the newly created position, Hill will oversee original programming, music programming, specials and BET news divisions. He will report to Debra L. Lee, chairman and CEO of BET Networks, and will continue to be based in New York.

Hill has been credited with developing one of BET's most popular shows, "Real Husbands of Hollywood," a mock-reality series starring Kevin Hart.

His appointment may indicate a change in direction for the network, which had brought in two Hollywood insiders to help BET become more prominent in the crowded network arena.

Jones, who was a former movie exec and producer, was instrumental in developing BET's first scripted drama, "Being Mary Jane," which is preparing to return for a second season.

Her predecessor, Reginald Hudlin, who was a director and writer when he was brought in to BET as president of entertainment in 2005, was fired in 2008 despite an aggressive programming agenda.

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TV Notes
FXX Launches Late-Night Animation Block With Series From ADHD Studios
By Nellie Andreeva, - Dec. 17, 2014

Fox‘s Animation Domination High-Def block is returning to linear TV on sibling FXX. The cable network said it will launch a late-night animation block on January 22nd that will feature fare originally developed and produced by ADHD Studios for Fox. The FXX block, which will get a sneak peak on January 1 at 12 AM, immediately following a special marathon of The Simpsons, will air at midnight on Thursdays. It will launch with eight new episodes of Lucas Bros. Moving Co. and Stone Quackers, which will be joined by encore showings of High School USA!, Axe Cop and other ADHD animated shorts. Lucas Bros. Moving Co. and Stone Quackers are acquisitions, as the first-run episodes had already been produced but, if successful, FXX plans to order additional new episodes of those or other ADHD series. For the time being, the block is slated to stay on at least until the summer, with repeats succeeding the Lucas Bros. Moving Co. and Stone Quackers originals.

“Based on the successful launch of The Simpsons on FXX, this is the perfect time to expand our animation offerings and make FXX the after hours destination for animated shorts and series,” said FX Networks’ Chuck Saftler.

The Simpsons repeats run until midnight on most nights. Additionally, FXX is preparing to become the off-network home of FX animated series Archer starting in March. Saftler said he and his colleagues felt that the edgy ADHD toons “tonally and stylistically are a great fit” for The Simpsons and Archer, with the network able to use their repeats as a platform to launch shows.

The decision for the new animated block was made after FXX quietly did a successful test on Saturday night before Halloween with a two-hour block of ADHD reruns at midnight, following the network’s marathon of Simpsons’ Treehouse Of Horror episodes.

FXX has not made a move in late-night since canceling 11 PM talk show Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell in November 2013. (FX also is without a late-night franchise after the end of the Russell Brand talker.)

ADHD had a one-year run as a late-night Saturday night block on Fox until it stopped airing originals in June. However, the network kept alive the initiative, which at the time of the decision to end, the Fox block employed 100 people working on six series in production. Fox said back then that the unit, ran by ADHD Studios president Nick Weidenfeld, would be geared exclusively towards younger-skewing digital platforms like Hulu and focus on incubating shows for primetime. “We are insanely excited to partner with FXX and help them create a new block of programming for the network,” Weidenfeld said today.

Even after the official end of the ADHD block on June 28, Fox has continued airing a mix of encores of ADHD shows and the network’s primetime animated series in the Saturday late-night time period. FXX’s rights to Lucas Bros. Moving Co. and Stone Quackers (or any other ADHD series) are not exclusive, so repeats of the new episodes that debut on FXX could pop up on Fox.

Going forward, FXX and Fox are expected to continue to share content from ADHD Studios, which is housed at Fox.

In addition to the sneak preview on January 1 after The Simpsons marathon, new episodes of Lucas Bros. Moving Co. and Stone Quackers also will be showcased behind the Season 6 premiere of Archer on Jan. 8 on FX.

Here are descriptions of Lucas Bros. Moving Co. and Stone Quackers:

Brooklyn-based comedians and identical twins Keith and Kenny Lucas get animated in the Lucas Bros. Moving Co. After inheriting their uncles van, the Brothers begin to run a moving company in their neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, populated by everyone from their best friend Jerrod (Jerrod Carmichael) to Jake the Snake Roberts, and their mom (Hannibal Buress). The brothers work only to pay their rent and drink beer at Jerrod’s bar, but nothing is easy for the Lucas Brothers. Even the simplest job of installing an air conditioner leads to an epic trek through a frozen tundra in the basement of their apartment building. Guest stars include Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer from Broad City; Adam Devine, Anders Holm, Blake Anderson and Jillian Bell from Workaholics, Jimmy Tatro (22 Jump Street), Michael Che (Saturday Night Live), Eric Andre (The Eric Andre Show), and musical artists Action Bronson, ?uestlove, Danny Brown, YG and Tyler the Creator.

Stone Quackers will shock, it will disturb, it will provoke. Executive produced by the acclaimed actor John C. Reilly and renowned artist/creator Ben Jones, the duck denizens of Cheeseburger Island endure hardships ranging from hurricanes, severed heads to dangerous hot dogs and the shame of being alive. The show is based on the upbringing of Whitmer Thomas and Clay Tatum (from the lauded live show PowerViolence) and their experience living in the remote and strange city of Gulf Shores, Alabama. Thomas and Tatum, also co-executive produce, write and voice characters on the show. Actress/writer, Heather Lawless (The Heart, She Holler) also stars as John C. Reilly’s angelic yet deviant paramour. Guest stars include Pam Adlon (Louie, Californication), Rory Scovel (Ground Floor) and Budd Anthony Diaz (PowerViolence) with music from The Zombies, Lightning Bolt, and The Doobie Brothers. Thomas is repped by CAA and 3 Arts.
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Technology/Business Notes
Dish Becomes First Major Pay-TV Provider to Integrate Netflix Into Boxes
By Tony Maglio, - Dec. 17, 2014

Dish Network is the new service where you can watch the hit Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black.” Dish on Wednesday became the first major pay-TV provider in the United States to integrate the streaming services app into its set-top box.

Netflix is currently rolling out across the company’s second-generation Hopper. In the coming months, Dish expects the app to rollout to its Joey, Super Joey and Wireless Joey clients.

Additionally, in the future, Netflix titles could be integrated into the search functionality across live, recorded and video-on-demand programs for both the Hopper as well as Dish’s upcoming over-the-top service.

“Pairing Netflix with Hopper represents the consolidation of two incredible video experiences,” said Vivek Khemka, Dish senior vice president of product management. “This app integration eliminates the need to switch television inputs to access content on varying devices. It gives our customers easy access to their favorite shows and movies, on both DISH and Netflix, without ever having to leave their Hopper.”

“As the first major pay-TV provider in the U.S. to add the Netflix app to its set-top box, Dish strengthens an already robust video entertainment experience for its customers,” said Bill Holmes, global head of business development at Netflix. “Many households subscribe to both Netflix and a traditional pay-TV service. Our vast library of TV shows and movies, combined with DISH’s lineup of live television content, gives customers easy access to a wide variety of complementary programming.”
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TV Notes
'Mom' gets serious in quest for deeper laughs
By Bill Keveney, USA Today - Dec. 17, 2014

Domestic violence is no laughing matter, but it's central to Thursday's episode of the CBS comedy Mom (8:30 p.m. ET/PT).

It's just the latest hardly hilarious real-world topic that fleshes out the story of a struggling but loving family centered on a single mother, Christy (Anna Faris), and her mom, Bonnie (Allison Janney).

Mom took a harder edge than most broadcast TV comedies from the get-go, focusing on recovering alcoholics Christy and Bonnie, but it has since taken on vexing social and health issues, including substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, adoption, breast cancer, gambling addiction, financial collapse and (briefly) homelessness.

The warts-and-all approach was important, professionally and personally, to executive producer Chuck Lorre, who oversees a sitcom empire that includes Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory and Mike & Molly.

"I thought it would be challenging. It's very fertile storytelling and it's very relatable," Lorre says. "It's certainly real to me on a personal level and I thought there's no reason comedy couldn't be mined from real-life situations."

Nevertheless, Mom, up 38% in its second season with the help of its new Big Bang lead-in, remains a comedy.

Lorre, who created the series with Eddie Gorodetsky and Gemma Baker, says the goal is "not to be teachy or pedantic. There's times we're talking about life-and-death issues. It's serious. To not take them seriously would be glib and irresponsible. But at the same time, there's laughter in the darkness. In the bleakest moments, we have the ability to find something to laugh at."

During a group visit to a therapist in Thursday's episode, Christy's teenage daughter, Violet (Sadie Calvano), still struggling with giving up her baby for adoption, complains that her life would have been better if she had spent time with her absent father.

Bonnie erupts, enraging Christy by telling Violet that her father beat Christy and twice sent her to the emergency room. The punchlines steer around the abuse, focusing on Christy's anger at her mother for revealing the secret and her convoluted effort to deceive Violet, with expert liar Bonnie's blessing, about her father's whereabouts.

The therapist scene was filmed in advance, away from a studio audience primed for raucous laughter. "When (Chuck) gives us the more emotional material, he's been nice to give it to us in a pre-shoot situation, so we have the quiet and concentration we need to have those moments come out of us," Emmy winner Janney says.

She was drawn to Mom because it dealt with addiction, but she didn't know it would delve into so many other topics so quickly.

There was a teenage "pregnancy and then they threw in Marjorie's (Mimi Kennedy) cancer. Cancer is not funny and will never be funny, but people are living with it and (there's) people's behavior around those who have it. There is humor to be had there. (But) we're certainly not making fun of any of these issues," says Janney, who adds that a few topics, such as abortion, may still be too hot to handle.

Faris, known for The House Bunny and Scary Movie franchise, says fans respond differently to Mom.

"The support I get on the street, at the grocery store, is unlike anything I've experienced before. People seem really connected, really moved. Believe it or not, people did not respond that way to Scary Movie 3," she says, laughing. "People will be very personal with me and share their struggles with addiction."

The episode received a thumbs-up from some anti-domestic violence group members that had a chance to watch it.

"The part about domestic violence wasn't funny. I thought it was well handled and yet (the overall episode) was still funny," says Kim Gandy, CEO and president of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. "It's a hard issue to talk about, so it's especially important that people are getting messages about this in a way they can absorb them."

Progress is being made in the fight against domestic abuse, she says, but more can be done. "We are overdue for shows that talk about people's real lives in a way that we can relate to it."

Most broadcast comedies steer clear of tough social issues, and few TV families face the economic hardship that many viewers do. (The Hecks of ABC's The Middle is another example). Faris was surprised Mom got rid of its house set, an expensive proposition, to illustrate the family's financial peril.

"Thematically, that felt right because of (Christy's) gambling issues, but from a practical and creative standpoint it felt like new ground," Faris says.

In the early 1970s, All in the Family opened the door to exploring taboo social issues, becoming a huge hit. More than two decades ago, Roseanne, which Lorre worked on, stood out for its depiction of a working-class family.

"All in the Family was so groundbreaking," he says. "It turned the whole idea of TV comedy upside down: We can tell the truth and it's engaging and you care."
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Critic's Notes
Award Shows Try to Balance Art and Commerce
By Brian Lowry, - Dec. 17, 2014

Award shows have always wrestled with balancing art and commerce — weighing the noble ability to recognize deserving fare that might not be widely viewed against lauding projects with which more of the audience is familiar, which is generally beneficial ratings-wise.

Yet as original TV series move into the “It’s not even just on TV anymore” phase, those considerations have become even more complicated — and, occasionally, unknowable.

The broadcast networks that share TV rights to the Emmys have long chafed at the bounties harvested by premium cable, particularly HBO, which has at times turned the industry’s annual bash into an extended commercial for pay TV. (The networks enjoyed a mini-resurgence at the most recent Emmys, thanks to such series as “Modern Family” and “The Good Wife.”)

The appetite for original programming, however, has expanded the balloting beyond even HBO’s and Showtime’s niche audiences to the “We’re not even sure how many people are watching” metrics of Netflix and Amazon. And with streaming services and lesser cable channels mounting more quality competitors — as much to enhance their brands and generate subscriptions as garner ratings — award voters sometimes don’t even possess viewing data to inform their decisionmaking.

Clearly, the Writers Guild of America was platform-agnostic in nominating comedy series that bypassed not only the broadcast networks but most of basic cable, choosing entries from Netflix and Amazon (“Orange Is the New Black” and “Transparent,” respectively), FX’s widely admired if little-seen “Louie” and two HBO series, “Veep” and “Silicon Valley.”

What many alternative programs do have going for them, however, is star quality, which in light of the evolving nature of award shows can compensate for puny audiences. “Who are you wearing?” can trump discussion of the actual work on red carpets. Having seen the show becomes less important than knowing who’s in it.

Historically that emphasis on celebrity has always been an advantage at, say, the Golden Globes, where the nominating body tends to be adept at casting a TV special that consistently put high-profile actors front and center.

The process becomes self-perpetuating, because the ego strokes that come from awards help attract talent to relatively narrow services, reinforcing the sense they are earning admiration from their peers, if not necessarily people they’re apt to encounter beyond valet lines.

At the same time, newer players are also taking casting chances their elder brethren usually wouldn’t, such as elevating Jeffrey Tambor — about as accomplished a second banana as there is, as “The Larry Sanders Show” directly and symbolically cast him — to a breakthrough leading-man turn in “Transparent,” at the not-exactly “key demo” friendly age of 70.

TV awards will never achieve total purity — there’s too much politics, and too many apples-and-oranges matchups, for that — but there does seem to be a push toward honoring the medium’s finest without much regard to origins, humble or otherwise.

By that measure, the award circuit is increasingly mirroring the personal way TV is consumed and experienced — where all that really matters to the viewer, ultimately, is an audience of one.
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Critic's Notes
Best TV Show: 'Fargo'
By Brian Lowry, - Dec. 17, 2014

In July FX CEO John Landgraf, an astute television executive in a business not always brimming with wise men or women, told a gathering of TV critics, "I think we would probably all agree that since the day television was invented, there have been too many bad TV programs. We would probably also agree there have never been, and probably never will be, enough truly great programs on television. But today may be the first time in history where we could all honestly agree there are simply too many good programs, at least too many for any one viewer to watch or any one critic to cover."

This is most certainly true.

Options for TV viewers have exploded in the past decade, offering more lowbrow TV (think: reality shows) and more highbrow (scripted series). Mr. Ladgraf is correct that there's a lot of good TV. Sometimes viewers are annoyed when their popular favorites get overlooked at awards time, but with such abundance comes hard choices about programs that are good but maybe not great.

So feel free to take issue with any omissions here because this is an entirely subjective list. Heck, I may not even agree with it a few months from now if any of these programs takes a bad turn.

1. "Fargo" (FX): So often TV spinoffs of movies disappoint, but this limited series offered the same feel of the movie with its mix of crime drama and dark humor without repeating the plot or characters. Special kudos go to newcomer Allison Tolman for her role as down-to-earth police officer Molly Solverson and to FX for allowing "Fargo" to have a beginning, a middle and a satisfying ending. Season two will tell a completely new story featuring a few younger versions of the characters from season one.

2. "The Good Wife" (CBS): Usually TV dramas in their fifth season fail to surprise, but "Good Wife" writers Robert and Michelle King used the show's basis in reality for a true shock when they killed off Will Gardner, an event made all the more powerful exactly because it's the type of pulpy twist "Good Wife" usually avoids.

3. "Orange Is the New Black" (Netflix): The prison drama with comedic elements proved it wasn't a flash in the pan with an even stronger second season that gave greater depth to its inmate characters with flashbacks that revealed their emotional scars through surprising and heartbreaking events.

4. "Episodes" (Showtime): Not a series that gets a lot of attention, but "Episodes" deserves praise for its funny, spot-on skewering of the TV business. Matt LeBlanc ("Friends"), playing a fictional version of himself, sends up his own image with aplomb while writers Sean (Stephen Mangan) and Beverly (Tamsin Greig), surrogates for viewers at home, watch in open-eyed horror as Hollywood lunacy unfurls around them.

5. "Silicon Valley" (HBO): So many of HBO's recent comedy efforts have been dark and dreary (think: "Hung," "Bored to Death"), but this one offered a brighter, funnier take as it followed underdog nerds as they faced off against a Google-like corporation.

6. "Transparent" (Amazon Instant Video): While the behavior of the Pfefferman children is generally awful and too reminiscent of the bad-choice-prone characters on "Six Feet Under," the plight of their transgender father, Maura (Jeffrey Tambor), is handled with sensitivity that is touching without being sappy.

7. "Survivor's Remorse" (Starz): Sort of an "Entourage" set in the basketball world, this addictive soapy comedy proved itself a welcome surprise as it follows baller Cam Calloway (Jessie Usher) as he navigates fame, fortune and family when he gets his first multimillion-dollar contract with a professional basketball team.

8. "Game of Thrones" (HBO): How to one-up the bloody Red Wedding? Why, with a poisoning assassination at yet another wedding, of course! "Game of Thrones" continued to shock and delight viewers as it introduced and then killed off new characters while putting some of the show's longtime heroes in even more perilous situations (think: that attack on Castle Black).

9. "Sherlock" (PBS): After an almost two-year wait, three new episodes of this "Masterpiece Mystery!" hit found the series in its best form ever, relying more on its characters and their relationships to drive stories than guest stars. This season the episodes felt more connected, more serialized, and the plots were strong enough to warrant the episodes' 90-minute running time, which hasn't always been the case.

10. "How to Get Away With Murder" (ABC): Yes, it's another crazy soap in the "Scandal" vein, but it's a really good crazy soap thanks to series creator Pete Nowalk's use of multiple plot devices, including flashbacks, flashforwards and divvying up of characters to draw interest. While Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) wasn't that interesting at the start -- the students who work for her had more fun -- nine episodes into its ratings-winning first season, "Murder" has given Annalise greater depth while still ensuring that she's full of mystery. And Ms. Davis offers a brave, unglamorous, makeup-free, wig-removing performance that dares viewers to look away.

Honorable mentions (in alphabetical order): "The Affair" (Showtime), "The Americans" (FX), "The Flash" (The CW), "Garfunkel & Oates" (IFC), "Getting On" (HBO), "Hannibal" (NBC), "Homeland" (Showtime), "The Honorable Woman" (Sundance), "House of Cards" (Netflix), "Jane the Virgin" (The CW), "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver " (HBO), "The Leftovers" (HBO), "Looking" (HBO), "Mad Men" (AMC), "Manhattan" (WGN America), "Portlandia" (IFC), "The 100" (The CW).
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TV/Nielsen Notes
HBO Becomes Latest Network to Turn Its Back on Same-Day Ratings
By Michael O'Connell, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Live Feed' Blog - Dec. 17, 2014

Let's face it: HBO hasn't had much of a reason to share ratings on Monday morning for some time.

The pay cable network has no advertisers and has seen its slate of original Sunday night series draw more and more of their audiences from time-shifting. So it should come as little surprise that the network won't be distributing or confirming its own live-plus-same day ratings any longer.

In a Wednesday note to press, the cable network announced that it's the latest to jump on the growing trend of waiting for DVR and multiplatform stats before touting viewership. FX Networks had a similar move earlier in 2014 — and even broadcast networks are now leaning on time-shifting projections to soften the emphasis on live viewership.

"A single airing is no longer representative of an HBO show’s true audience size," read a network statement. HBO also sees boosts from heavy encores on both the main network and its sisters. Now ratings will come roughly two weeks after a premiere telecast and will include Nielsen's live-plus-seven, HBO Go and HBO On Demand. (The data won't exactly be a secret, as Nielsen will continue to release live-same-day performances for HBO.)

HBO's most-watched show in network history currently doubles its audience with just a week's worth of viewership. Game of Thrones, averaging a live-plus-same day audience just north of 7 million in its fourth season, pulled 18.4 million viewers per episode all told.

The news comes as HBO also readies a standalone streaming service, likely much akin to HBO Go, that will launch in 2015.
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TV Review
‘All Hail King Julien,’ just for the kiddies
This Netflix take on 'Madagascar' is like the movie, a real eyeful
By Tom Conroy, Media Life Magazine - Dec. 17, 2013

In a highly visual medium like computer animation, it’s easy to forget the importance of dialogue. But a show has to make some effort.

Netflix’s new animated series “All Hail King Julien,” starring the lemur characters from the “Madagascar” movies, has the visuals down — the lemurs are cute or funny or both — but the verbal humor is perfunctory. Unlike the movies, the show fails to engage adults. The silly action, however, should keep kids happy.

Premiering with five episodes available for streaming this Friday, Dec. 19, “All Hail King Julien” is technically a prequel to the movies.

In the first episode, Julien (voiced by Danny Jacobs, imitating Sacha Baron Cohen’s characterization from the movies), becomes king of his lemur tribe for a day when his uncle Julien (Henry Winkler) is warned by his chameleon soothsayer, Masikura (Debra Wilson), that the “one who wears the crown” will be eaten by the foosa. (“Foosa” is the show’s misspelling of “fossa,” the name of a catlike predator native to Madagascar.)

Spoiler alert! Young Julien survives and remains king for at least the three episodes provided for review. Whereas Uncle King Julien forbade his subjects from having any fun for fear it would attract the foosa, the new king is a party animal. (“I Like to Move It,” also known as “that song from Madagascar,” is heard only once in the three episodes.)

The stories are clever enough, although they could be told in less than the 22 minutes they’re allotted. In the premiere, the foosa attack during Julien’s first party, carrying off the entire tribe except Julien and his second-in-command, Maurice (Kevin Michael Richardson).

Masikura tells Julien that he can save his subjects if he picks the right weapon.

Meanwhile, Mort (Andy Richter), the tiny lemur with an unnatural attraction to Julien’s feet, distracts the foosa by dipping himself in barbecue sauce and doing a striptease with lettuce leaves.

Both of Masikura’s predictions come true, sort of, but (spoiler alert!) young Julien remains king. In the second episode, he’s worried that he has only a 99 percent approval rating. His no-nonsense head of security, Clover (India de Beaufort), fearing an uprising, tries to locate the one dissenter.

In the third previewable episode, Uncle King Julien tells young Julien that he can achieve immortality by staving off a foosa attack. Julien and Maurice sneak into the carnivores’ territory wearing an obviously fake foosa outfit, but one of beasts falls in love with them.

The slapstick comedy should get younger kids giggling. Mort is constantly being launched into the air. When Julien and Maurice are in the foosa suit, Maurice’s face is trapped behind Julien’s behind.

But the dialogue needs more wit. The writers seem to think that any pop-culture reference can serve as a punch line.

Although YouTube has made younger viewers more savvy about pop-culture history, it’s unlikely they’ll pick up on the allusions to “Freaks,” “Braveheart” and Sally Field’s second Oscar speech.

The animation is workable but not up to the movies’ standard. It will probably look better on a laptop than on the big living-room TV.

Most of us turn to Netflix when channel surfing runs dry, the DVR is empty and on demand is played out. The kids for whom “All Hail King Julien” will work best have plenty of animated alternatives on cable, including another “Madagascar” spinoff, “The Penguins of Madagascar.”

This fragile island ecosystem may be over-exploited.
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TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
THURSDAY Network Primetime/Late Night Options
(All shows are in HD unless noted; start times are ET. Network late night shows are preceded by late local news)

8PM - The Taste (120 min.)
10PM - How To Get Away With Murder
(R - Oct. 23)
* * * *
11:35AM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Mel Brooks; Christine Baranski; Jenny Lewis performs)
12:37AM - Nightline

8PM - The Big Bang Theory
(R - Sep. 29)
8:31PM - Mom
9:01PM - Two and a Half Men
9:30PM - The McCarthys
10PM - Elementary
* * *
11:35PM - Late Show with David Letterman (Rosie O'Donnell; comic Jeff Altman)
12:37AM - Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Jim Parsons)

8PM - The Biggest Loser
9PM - People Magazine Awards (120 min., LIVE)
* * * *
11:34AM - The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (Amy Adams; Nick Offerman; Foo Fighters perform)
12:36AM - Late Night with Seth Myers (Christoph Waltz; Uzo Aduba; comic Greg Warren)
1:37AM - Last Call with Carson Daly (Jack O'Connell; Coves perform; comic Andrew Orvedahl)

8PM - Bones (120 min.)
(R - Jan. 17)

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - The 'This Old House' Hour (R - Nov. 13)
9PM - Downton Abbey Rediscovered
(R - Nov. 30)
9:30PM - Downton Abbey Rediscovered
(R - Nov. 30)
10PM - Antiques Roadshow: Junk in the Trunk 4
(R - Dec. 15)

8PM - Mi Corazón Es Tuyo
9PM - Hasta el Final del Mundo
10PM - La Malquerida

8PM - The iHeartradio Jingle Ball 2014 (90 min.)
9:30PM - Whose Line Is It Anyway?
(R - Oct. 3)

8PM - Los Miserables
9PM - Tierra de Reyes
10PM - Señora Acero

11PM - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Chris Rock.)
11:31PM - The Colbert Report (Series Finale; Grimmy, Stephen's colleague and lifelong friend)
12:01AM - At Midnight (Margaret Cho; Drew Carey; Blaine Capatch)

11PM - Conan (Orlando Bloom; John C. McGinley; comic Sebastian Maniscalco)
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Technology/Business Notes
Amazon Not as Unstoppable as It Might Appear
By Farhad Manjoo, The New York Times' 'Personal Tech' Column - Dec. 18, 2014

Thanks to its ugly spat with book publishers, Amazon has lately been cast as the abominable boogeyman of American commerce.

As hundreds of authors took up arms against the giant, The New Republic declared in a cover article this fall that “Amazon Must Be Stopped,” insisting that the company’s unbounded retail ambitions would end up “cannibalizing the economy.”

But there’s another theory about Amazon’s future, one for which evidence began to mount this year: Despite fears of Amazon’s growing invincibility, the company’s eventual hegemony over American shopping is not assured. It might not even be likely.

That’s not just because investors began to question the company’s aggressive spending this year, or because its big new thing, the Fire Phone, turned out to be about as unwelcome as the flu.

Amazon may face a deeper problem. Like many of the local and big-box retailers it has displaced over the last decade and a half, Amazon could itself become increasingly vulnerable to the threat of technological upheaval.

The key to its vulnerability is the smartphone, a device whose scope and significance Jeff Bezos, the chief executive, has not yet managed to corral.

Phones have already radically altered both the way Americans shop and how retail goods move about the economy, but the transformation is just beginning — and it is far from guaranteed that Amazon will emerge victorious from the transition.

Phones are at the heart of the service offered by Postmates, one of several start-ups that are working with retailers and helping to change shopping experiences. “Everything that we’re doing is anti-Amazon,” said Bastian Lehmann, the co-founder of Postmates.

Postmates runs a network of couriers who, like Uber drivers, are dispatched by phones to deliver food, apparel, toothpaste and other goods from local stores in 18 American cities. The company recently announced a plan for retailers to build Postmates’ technology into their own technology systems, a way to give small stores the kind of logistical efficiencies that were previously available only to giants like Amazon.

As local retailers adopt such mobile innovations, customers will be able to search stores’ inventories, purchase goods for same-day delivery, and navigate and search for help and reviews inside a crowded store. None of these technologies pose an existential threat to Amazon, but by giving physical stores some of the conveniences that Amazon has long had, they may limit its potential reach.

“We want to use the city as our warehouse instead of building a warehouse outside the city,” Mr. Lehmann said. “We want to be part of a city versus saying, ‘Here’s a way that you can save $2 on an item, but nobody in your city earns a dime, but now you have a cheap DVD player — congratulations!’ ”

The Bay Area has become a hotbed for some of the most innovative retailing start-ups.

With Instacart, you can get groceries delivered instantly from big and small supermarkets. With Google’s Express delivery service, you can get household goods from big-box stores delivered on the same day you order. The app Curbside lets users order items from Target, and have them ready when they drive up to a store. And with Postmates, it is possible to order takeout, and pretty much anything else, and have it delivered directly very quickly.

These services all have in common speed and convenience: Because they route purchases from stores, they can often shuttle goods to buyers faster than they are available from Amazon. The prices are even competitive with Amazon, which delivers most of its products, even groceries, from warehouses that are a few hours away.

And speed changes everything.

I used to buy just about everything from Amazon; in 2012, my household recorded 141 purchases from the retailer, not including digital items like Kindle books. Many of these were for staples like paper towels and baby diapers. But when you run out of diapers, you can’t really wait a day or two to get them.

Now, with Instacart and Google Express, I can search for these staples at nearby stores, and get them within just a few hours of my purchase. The more I used these faster services, the less I used Amazon.

In 2013, my Amazon orders slipped to 115, about 20 percent down from the previous year. This year, my Amazon purchases will be down again — I’m at 90 for the year, down by about a third from my 2012 peak.

Am I an outlier? Almost certainly, given that Amazon’s overall sales have continued to grow at a fast clip over the last two years.

And none of the start-ups that are challenging Amazon expect to meaningfully slow its growth in its core categories. But they do see opportunities in new areas, like food, medicine, apparel and other categories where Amazon is not yet indomitable. So far, these new ideas have seen rapid growth.

Instacart is poised to generate more than $100 million in revenue in 2014, 10 times what it did in 2013, according to the company.

It has reportedly been valued by investors at $2 billion, and it is looking to expand into other categories beyond groceries, said its founder and chief executive, Apoorva Mehta.

“We believe we started with the hardest vertical, and we’ll expand from there,” said Mr. Mehta, who used to work at Amazon as a logistics expert. “Once you know how to pick avocados, picking towels is a lot easier.”

To Mr. Mehta, the biggest advantage of Instacart’s model is that it co-opts local retailers rather than turning them into enemies. Stores that use Instacart have seen sales go up by 10 percent annually, he said; that’s huge in the grocery business, where sales increases are often measured in the single digits. “We’re the retailer’s best friend,” Mr. Mehta said.

Maybe so. “We’ve found that about half of the people who are buying with us via Instacart said they would not have shopped with us if they did not have this option,” said Jackie Donovan, the vice president for marketing at Fairway Market, the New York-based specialty grocery store. “It’s been extraordinarily successful for us.”

Amazon did not respond to queries for this column, but it will certainly respond to any potential threat posed by mobile start-ups. It has been investing vast sums in speeding up its delivery service, and it has been experimenting with ideas that mimic some of the start-ups, including using taxi-hailing apps to deliver goods.

But the challenge for Amazon is that it may not be able to do all that it wants to do to take over the nation’s retail landscape.

“I’m seeing the first big cracks in Amazon at this point, and it will be interesting to see how they handle it,” said Venky Harinarayan, a tech investor and entrepreneur who worked closely with Mr. Bezos in the early 2000s, after selling a company he helped start,, to Amazon.

More than a decade later, Mr. Harinarayan and his partner sold another company, Kosmix, to Walmart Stores, where he then worked to improve that company’s digital efforts. Having seen both retail giants from the inside, Mr. Harinarayan pointed out one big difference between the two: Walmart’s investors have long expected it to show profits; Amazon’s have not.

“Wall Street has given them a lot of leeway in prioritizing growth over profitability, and they’ve taken full advantage of that,” he said. “But it’s going to get harder and harder to get that license, and when that happens, we’ll see how their business starts to look, and how they respond to challenges.”
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Originally Posted by DoubleDAZ View Post
It seems to me that as long as viewers watch, nothing will change, not that it necessarily should. We all seem to think that our definition of "good" is the right one and that only the shows we like should get produced/broadcast. If it were up to me, there'd only be one sitcom on and only 2 sporting events (poker and NHRA). I'm quite sure not many here would be happy with that.
Sorry, but poker is simple game, not a sport.
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Originally Posted by dcowboy7 View Post
Yet they constantly make mistakes like last night Gruden said the nfc south division winner record could be bad enough to still get a top 10 pick in the 2015 draft....thats wrong !!

The non playoff teams pick 1-20 then the playoff teams 21-32 even if a playoff team has a worse record than a non playoff team.

Even my little sister knows that....ok maybe not but still how does "one of the premier analysts in all of sports" not ?
If you accept the fact that alot of tv suits are just morons its easier to stomach....i guess.
Yeah he might make some mistakes but I like him, it's obvious he has a passion for what he's doing and he works well with Tirico. I think his analysis is usually valid, like when I was watching ATL-GB and he mentioned that ATL could've won if they had a pass rush which was spot on. He's also willing to call a spade a spade, like mentioning that he would bench a player that repeatedly does false starts (CHI-NO). He's an entertaining guy in my book.

They're a damn sight better pairing than when they had Kornheiser and Jaws in there.

Opinions about analysts and play-by-play men are well, you know, like the place where your food processing ends every day.

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