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Critic's Notebook
Please save NBC's finest

By Doug Elfman Chicago Sun-Times Television Critic April 22, 2007


You travel to another country and feel disoriented. But then you see something you recognize. A McDonald's. A Burger King. Suddenly, you get your bearings again.


"Law and Order" is like that on TV. It's comfort food, but 1,000 times better than a Big Mac.


It's rare when TV surprises me. Yet I'm taken aback by reports that NBC might cancel "Law & Order," especially now that it is solely responsible for launching the potential presidential campaign of Republican actor Fred Dalton Thompson.


I doubt I'd vote for Thompson -- too closed-minded, big frowns, plus he's an actor -- but how many shows have the power to make a thespian a possible future president? He's polling better than John McCain.


Every year, we TV critics write about "bubble shows" -- shows that are struggling in the ratings and may or may not be canceled in the next few weeks. "Law & Order" is the most accomplished series on the bubble.


Other critics are rallying around younger shows that appeal to younger audiences, like NBC's teen-footballers-in-Texas "Friday Night Lights" and one of my very favorites, the CW's "Veronica Mars." At influential E!, Kristin Veitch took an online vote among readers, who want to save the CW's "Gilmore Girls."


Those are fine choices for "save our show" campaigns. Few other shows deserve another chance. Do we really need another season of "The Nine"? No.


Above all else, I want "Law & Order" saved because it's still one of the best dramas on TV, and I don't know how I'd travel the channels without having the original "Law & Order" to rest on.


"The mothership is a real discussion," NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly told Variety last week. "Nothing goes on forever."


Industry insiders use the term "mothership" when distinguishing "L&O" from the other "L&O" shows, but it's more than that. It's the detective show that prepped TV viewers to get sucked into all other existing detective shows.


Creator Dick Wolf agrees there's a glut of copycats. "Between the 'Law & Orders' and the 'CSIs,' that's six hours right there, not to mention 'Without a Trace' and 'Cold Case,' " he once said. "There [are] a lot of procedurals. But the good ones are still here."


The best one is "Law & Order." It and "Veronica Mars" are the only shows that nail gritty elements of neo-noir: the murky conversations between detectives and cons; the moral grayness of good guys; the attempt to do good despite a cynical viewpoint on life.


Ratings are down for "L&O," but that's partly due to NBC shoving it onto must-miss Friday nights, and partly because the drama lost an anchor when Jerry Orbach left the show and died. Usually, "L&O" has changed one cop and one prosecutor slowly. It's been too much of a revolving door for a few years, commercially speaking (creatively, the cast has been solid).


But each half-hour remains steadied by Jesse L. Martin as Detective Ed Green, S. Epatha Merkerson as Lt. Anita Van Buren, and Sam Waterston as prosecutor Jack McCoy. Martin is one of the most underrated actors on TV. Merkerson and Waterston earn icon status.


Yes, the show has aired for 17 years. But it isn't running out of steam. It's just been eclipsed in pop-culture chatter by rising stars.


NBC's problem is it's got the best lineup of quality shows this season, but it's getting whipped in the ratings. NBC has become a counter-programmed network, having to figure out what to run against "American Idol," "Lost," "Grey's Anatomy," etc.


And what's it gonna do, run "Law & Order" after sci-fi youth show "Heroes" on Mondays? Against "Lost" on Wednesdays? You could look all over for a perfect time slot and find no perfect counter-programming opening for "Law & Order."


But that's true of most things on NBC, and that won't change until the pendulum swings back and viewers take to comedies again (NBC will be sitting pretty then with "30 Rock") and again prefer tightly written detective shows to cheesy but good-looking "CSI" shows.


Network executives must think only a new fall drama has the chance of becoming a lightning-strike hit against rival shows. But if "Law and Order" goes away, what comfort-food show will keep devoted, longtime NBC fans tuning in? "ER"? I don't think so.

WORTH SAVING

"Law & Order" (NBC): Old but great.

"The Loop" (Fox): The best comedy you don't watch. It gets one last chance with new episodes in June.

"Veronica Mars" (CW): The third season wasn't its best, but it's still a fun mystery.

DEFINITELY OR PROBABLY DONE

"20 Good Years" (NBC)

"Andy Barker, P.I." (NBC)

"Armed & Famous" (CBS)

"Big Day" (ABC)

"The Black Donnellys" (NBC)

"Deadwood" (HBO; two finale episodes planned)

"Extras" (HBO, finale special planned)

"Help Me Help You" (NBC)

"In Case of Emergency" (ABC)

"The King of Queens" (CBS; finale on May 14)

"The Knights of Prosperity" (ABC)

"The Loop" (Fox)

"The O.C." (Fox) »

"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" (Bravo; ends this summer)

"Rome" (HBO)

"7th Heaven" (CW; finale on May 13)

"Six Degrees" (ABC)

"Sleeper Cell" (Showtime)

"The Sopranos" (HBO; finale on June 10)

"Standoff" (Fox)

"Stargate: SG-1" (Sci-Fi; finale planned for June)

"The Wedding Bells" (Fox)

"The War at Home" (Fox)

RENEWED OR PRESUMED SAFE


"30 Rock" (NBC)

"60 Minutes" (CBS)

"Amazing Race" (CBS)

"American Dad" (Fox)

"American Idol" (Fox)

"America's Funniest Home Videos" (ABC)

"America's Most Wanted" (Fox)

"America's Next Top Model" (CW)

"The Apprentice" (NBC)

"Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" (Fox)

"The Bachelor" (ABC)

"Battlestar Galactica" (Sci-Fi)

"The Biggest Loser" (NBC)

"Big Brother" (CBS)

"Big Love" (HBO)

"Bones" (Fox)

"Boston Legal" (ABC)

"Brothers and Sisters" (ABC)

"The Closer" (TNT)

"Cold Case" (CBS)

"Cops" (Fox)

"Criminal Minds" (CBS)

"CS." (CBS)

"CSI: Miami" (CBS)

"CSI: NY" (CBS)

"Dancing With the Stars" (ABC)

"Desperate Housewives" (ABC)

"Dexter" (Showtime)

"Entourage" (HBO)

"ER" (NBC)

"Everybody Hates Chris" (CW)

"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (ABC)

"Family Guy" (Fox)

"Grey's Anatomy" (ABC)

"Heroes" (NBC)

"The Hills" (MTV)

"House" (Fox)

"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" (FX)

"King of the Hill" (Fox)

"The L Word" (Showtime)

"Las Vegas" (NBC)

"Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC)

"Lost" (ABC)

"Men in Trees" (ABC)

"My Name is Earl" (NBC)

"NCIS" (CBS)

"Nip/Tuck" (FX)

"Numb3rs" (CBS)

"October Road" (ABC)

"The Office" (NBC)

"Prison Break" (Fox)

"Project Runway" (Bravo)

"Rescue Me" (FX)

"The Sarah Silverman Program" (Comedy Central)

"Shark" (CBS)

"The Shield" (FX)

"The Simpsons" (Fox)

"So You Think You Can Dance" (Fox)

"South Park" (Comedy Central)

"Supernanny" (ABC)

"Ugly Betty" (ABC)

"Survivor" (CBS)

"Weeds" (Showtime)

"Wife Swap" (ABC)

"Without a Trace" (CBS)

"The Wire" (HBO)

"WWE Smackdown" (CW)

BUBBLE' SHOWS

Because of their lackluster (but not deadly) ratings, it wasn't certain at press time whether these series would be canceled or if they'd return for another season next fall. They're "on the bubble."


"1 vs. 100" (NBC)

"20/20" (ABC)

"According to Jim" (ABC)

"All of Us" (CW)

"Beauty and the Geek" (CW)

"The Class" (CBS)

"Close to Home" (CBS)

"Crossing Jordan" (NBC)

"Dirt" (FX)

"Friday Night Lights" (NBC)

"The Game" (CW)

"The George Lopez Show" (ABC)

"Ghost Whisperer" (CBS)

"Gilmore Girls" (CW)

"Girlfriends" (CW)

"Identity" (NBC)

"Jericho" (CBS) »

"Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County" (MTV)

"Law & Order" (NBC)

"Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (NBC)

"Medium" (NBC)

"Nanny 911" (Fox)

"Nashville Star" (USA)

"The New Adventures of Old Christine" (CBS)

"The Nine" (ABC)

"Notes from the Underbelly" (ABC)

"One Tree Hill" (CW)

"Raines" (NBC)

"The Riches" (FX)

"Rock Star" (CBS)

"Rules of Engagement" (CBS)

"Scrubs" (NBC)

"Smallville" (CW)

"Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" (NBC)

"Supernatural" (CW)

"Thank God You're Here" (NBC)

" 'Til Death" (CBS)

"The Unit" (CBS)

"Veronica Mars" (CW)

"What About Brian" (ABC)

"The Winner" (Fox)

WHERE TO WRITE


If you want to make sure your favorite show isn't canceled, now's the time to make your opinion known. Write to network programmers at these addresses:


Stephen McPherson, ABC, 2300 Riverside Dr., Burbank, CA, 91521


Nina Tassler, CBS, 7800 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 90036


Peter Liguori, Fox, Box 900, Beverly Hills, CA, 90213


Kevin Reilly, NBC, 3000 W. Alameda Ave., Burbank, CA, 91523


Dawn Ostroff, CW, 11800 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 90025

http://www.suntimes.com/entertainmen...2.articleprint
 

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TV Notebook
Veronica Mars still lives
Don't count show out yet, says Toronto actor who plays sleuth's dad

By Rob Salem Toronto Star TV Critic


Contrary to the currently prevailing public opinion, there may indeed be life on Mars.


Veronica Mars, that is, the oddly endearing and enduring young detective show, which survived the rocky merger of the former UPN and WB, and a shotgun marriage to an increasingly creatively compromised Gilmore Girls, with its middling, if remarkably consistent audience more or less intact.


It doesn't hurt that one of those diehard fans is Dawn Ostroff, entertainment president of the show's freshly minted new hybrid home, The CW.


Then again, it doesn't necessarily help. A misguided effort to broaden its audience with shorter, more self-contained story arcs and a more socially successful Veronica did nothing to improve its numbers. And alienated even its dedicated fans.


Even once back on track, it remained irrevocably "on the bubble" - in imminent danger of abrupt cancellation.


According to USA Today this week, that bubble is about to burst.


But reports of Veronica Mars' premature death are greatly exaggerated, insists Enrico Colantoni, the Toronto-born actor who plays Veronica's detective dad.


Back home this month shooting a Céline Dion TV biopic - he plays husband/manager René Angelil - Colantoni says the fate of the much-loved series is still very much undecided.


"No one knows anything," the actor insists over double espresso at his old haunt, Café Diplomatico. "But I love how people think they know ...


"We were outside the bubble for the longest time.... And then they put us on after the Gilmore Girls. But people weren't sticking around after Gilmore Girls, because it's really a whole different audience.


"The thing is, anyone who actually sees Veronica Mars is going to love Veronica Mars. I mean, I have yet to meet anyone who's like, `Eh ...'"


That being said, and despite the failure of the experimental retooling, a new initiative came down from even farther out of left field to take the show in a whole new direction.


"Rob (creator/producer Thomas) and a couple of the other executives said, `Let's make a little showcase pilot of what Veronica could be like in four years.' They thought Dawn might latch on to the idea of Veronica as an FBI agent in a kind of sexy workplace environment, á la Grey's Anatomy, that kind of thing.


"We shot 10 pages and they saw it and the reaction was, `That's not our show.' Then they saw the last episode of this season, and it was so on the money ... it was like the first two years. And I think the network was very excited about that.


"You know how it works. They've got six new pilots. And if some of those tank, or if Gilmore Girls doesn't come back, then of course they're going to want us back."

http://www.thestar.com/printArticle/205239
 

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And counterpoint:
TV Notebook
TV Guide Exclusive:
Veronica Mars' FBI Pitch Not Dead!

By Michael Ausiello TV Guide


Veronica Mars' dream of becoming an FBI agent is still very much alive, according to Mars chief Rob Thomas.


Responding to Enrico Colantoni's recent declaration in the Toronto Star that the CW has essentially rejected a proposal that would've placed Veronica in the FBI next season, Thomas tells me that network head Dawn Ostroff "hasn't seen the presentation," adding, "I have no earthly idea what Enrico is talking about. The network doesn't see it or hear our pitches for VM College or VM FBI until May 2."


Colantoni did get one thing right in the Toronto Star piece, per Thomas. CW execs "did see and love our finale," he says, "and I told Enrico that. But the rest of it is out of left field."


A CW spokesperson, meanwhile, backs up Thomas' story. "Rob is right," says the rep.


So, the only question now is, what the heck was Enrico smoking when he gave those quotes? Any guesses?

http://community.tvguide.com/blog-en...Mars/800013346
 

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A moment of silence for the original Lost thread ( http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=449662 ) which was locked yesterday by the Administrators after going off-rails. You know, like the show itself!


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(crickets)

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All hail Fredfa's "Hot of the Press" thread, now officially...

THE LONGEST-RUNNING STILL ACTIVE THREAD WITH THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF POSTS/VIEWS IN AVS FORUM HISTORY.

 

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I'll make an oath right now, publicly, in front of everybody: if "Veronica Mars" gets renewed for another season I'll buy all three seasons on DVD (the first two out right now and the inevitable S3 Box Set). I've never seen a single "VM" episode but any show with ratings these ****** but a dedicated fan base so loyal (however small) cannot be a complete waste of my viewing time. BTW, anyone heard any news of "VM" coming out in a high-definition format like HD-DVD or Blu-ray?
 

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Discussion Starter #25,468

Quote:
Originally Posted by dad1153 /forum/post/0


A moment of silence for the original Lost thread ( http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=449662 ) which was locked yesterday by the Administrators after going off-rails. You know, like the show itself!


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(crickets)

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All hail Fredfa's "Hot of the Press" thread, now officially...

THE LONGEST-RUNNING STILL ACTIVE THREAD WITH THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF POSTS/VIEWS IN AVS FORUM HISTORY.



Thanks, dad, but this orginal "Hot Off The Press" thread is about to suffer the same fate.


Both just got too big for the server to handle. So "Lost" was archived, and "HOTP" will follow -- soon.


But a new HOTP-2 will follow in its place, with all the info in the first few posts saved and carried over.


I'll just miss seeing the total # of posts over the one million mark
 

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Discussion Starter #25,469

Quote:
Originally Posted by rebkell /forum/post/0


I'm loving all the VM talk, could it be back? I hope so, that would be sweet.

I know there are a number of "Veronica Mars" viewers here, rebkell, so we can all keep our fingers crossed for you.


There will be increasing reports on the survival -- or not -- of many shows during the next three weeks before the upfronts.


(And I'll try to post every one that I can.)


Then, of course, "Hot Off The Press" will have massive coverage during the upfronts themselves, which start on Monday, May 14 with NBC unveiling its 2007-2008 prime time schedule
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by dad1153 /forum/post/0


Fred, any news on how the new Friday night block on the Sci-Fi Channel ("Stargate SG-1," "Stargate Atlantis" and "Painkiller Jane") did on its debut week two Fridays ago?

I can't find specific numbers on those shows, dad. I'll look a little deeper, though.


None of them managed to crash the top 40 shows in prime time, however.


I'll post the cable net ratings for the week of April 9-15 in a few minutes.
 

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1. Fredfa, I have also been having various problems with registering to vote, but I'll keep trying, I am another who checks this post several times a day, and a few time over the weekend as well, so I want to vote.


2. Dissappointed to hear about the emminent restart of the thread, but I'm sure the post/view count will be the only difference.


3. I haven't gotten around to watching last weeks Lost yet, so I've avoided the Lost thread, so this is the first I've heard of it getting shut down. Actually, I saw in my local HDTV thread that my ABC affiliate played the last 20 minutes in SD, so at this point I'll probably just wait for the Wed. encore.


4. dad, I'd recommend the VM boxes even if it doesn't get renewed. I love the show (even if it's hard to keep up with some of minor characters who come and go). I actually kind of like the FBI idea, if nothing else, the fact that they have two direction for the network to choose from could help its chances for survival.
 

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Thanks RockyF.


I have VM on DVD season one ready to go (I plan to catch it this summer) but keep reading that season two was a disappointment and this year is up and down. Your thoughts?
 

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Cable Nielsen Notebook
Weekly Cable Prime time network ratings
Week of April 9-15, 2007 (Live Plus Same Day data)

RANK NET Viewers 2+ (in millions)

1----USA 2.91

2----DSNY 2.20

3----TNT 2.01

4----FOXNC 1.64

5----DISC 1.58

6----LIF 1.49

7----AEN 1.41

8----NAN(1) 1.32

9----FX 1.32

10---TOON(1) 1.28

11---TBSC 1.26

12---SCIFI 1.20

13---HALL 1.14

14---COURT 1.11

15---VH1 1.10

16---CMDY 1.09

17---HIST 1.05

18---ESPN 1.03

19---FAM 1.03

20---HGTV 1.01

Source: Nielsen Media Research data
 

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Discussion Starter #25,474
Cable Nielsen Notebook
Weekly Cable All-day network ratings
Week of April 9-15, 2007 (Live Plus Same Day data)

RANK-NET---Viewers 2+ (in millions)

1----NICK 2.38

2----DSNY 1.39

3----NAN 1.33

4----USA 1.31

5----TNT 1.24

6----ADSM 1.14

7----TOON 1.09

8----LIF 0.90

9----FOXNC 0.89

10---AEN 0.81

11---DISC 0.81

12---TBSC 0.77

13---HALL 0.71

14---FAM 0.69

15---FX 0.68

16---COURT 0.66

17---MTV 0.61

18---HIST 0.60

19---HGTV 0.59

20---ESPN 0.59

Source: Nielsen Media Research data
 

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Fredfa, I guess I would more or less agree with that assessment of Veronica Mars, the first season was great, the second may not have been quite as good, but it's still better than a lot of stuff on TV. On the third season, you can see the attempt to gain a larger audience by going to shorter storyarcs instead of a full season mystery (of course, this season also had the usual teen show problem of the high-school to college transition. This is one of the reasons I'm actually digging the FBI idea, they can just skip over the college years.) I guess one of the problems with the third season was just too many new college friends at the expense of some of the older characters. Overall though, it's still a fun show, with a lot of twists.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by RockyF /forum/post/0


Fredfa, I guess I would more or less agree with that assessment of Veronica Mars, the first season was great, the second may not have been quite as good, but it's still better than a lot of stuff on TV. On the third season, you can see the attempt to gain a larger audience by going to shorter storyarcs instead of a full season mystery (of course, this season also had the usual teen show problem of the high-school to college transition. This is one of the reasons I'm actually digging the FBI idea, they can just skip over the college years.) I guess one of the problems with the third season was just too many new college friends at the expense of some of the older characters. Overall though, it's still a fun show, with a lot of twists.

I'm an extreme Veronica Mars fan myself but I see it struggling a bit. What is it with the transition to college thing? Why don't college shows do well? I remember Buffy was the same way.


- Tom
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by fredfa /forum/post/0

WORTH SAVING

"Law & Order" (NBC): Old but great.

"The Loop" (Fox): The best comedy you don't watch. It gets one last chance with new episodes in June.

"Veronica Mars" (CW): The third season wasn't its best, but it's still a fun mystery.

Can't argue with Doug on those, but I'm waiting to see what changes they made to "The Loop". I'm hoping they didn't get rid of the two girls.
 

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Both of the girls on The Loop are done according to IMDb and, apparently, the listings on the Fox.com website for The Loop. While I never particularly found much comedy in his "friends" life compared to his "work" life, the eye candy in his friends life was the extra nudge I needed to keep watching. Shame.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrMars /forum/post/0


I tried to vote too, I never got the confirmation letter, I e-mailed that address to email if you do not get it. Never heard back, Tried to log on says I need to confirm my email. Tried another e-mail, same thing.

It's an actual person that responds...she likely had the weekend off. You might hear back on Monday lol
 
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