2016 Q1 Pilot Season

It’s the beginning of the year and CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX are busy ordering, reshooting and test-audiencing their pilots for the 2016-2017 season. What are we going to watch after we get bored by (the already cancelled, just doesn’t know it yet, dead show walking) Second Chance, (style over substance) Quantico, (paint by numbers) Blindspot and (sprawling) Limitless? They’re holding the cards. Let’s take a peek at their hands.

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24: Legacy
A year ago, FOX was in the preliminary stages of creating an Expendables-like action series. Legendary television action heroes would team up and kick, strangle, shoot and blow up bad guys. I suppose, given the stubborn nature of these characters (Magnum, Jack Bauer, Michael Knight, Sydney Bristow), they couldn’t make a deal with them to share the limelight, so there hasn’t been news about this idea for a while. They did come up with a reboot of sorts – yes, another one – to continue the 24 franchise. No matter the ratings, no matter the critical acclaim, 24: Live Another Day was very disappointing. A clean slate was promised, and we got more of the same. Luckily, it only lasted half a day. FOX seems to have come to its senses, because they’re serious about starting from scratch, with 24: Legacy. No Jack. No Chloe. No Bill. No Audrey. They’re all out of the picture – i.e. let Jack rot in a Russian prison. New players, new CTU, new leading man: Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton, The Walking Dead). Also starring is Miranda Otto, who’s switching from one Howard Gordon show (Homeland) to the next. That’s all good news, on paper. However, it is once again about a ‘potential largest-scale terrorist attack on American soil’. When are they going to realize it’s not the scale of the threat that once made this series so great?

MacGyver
While FOX is reworking its past successes, CBS thought it’d be a good idea to bring back MacGyver. The guy who could melt steel with a matchstick, blow up tanks with a popsicle, make a trampoline out of toothpaste. Even in the eighties, this show was already too goofy. The only way it would work is, if they come up with not just realistic, but real physics tricks. My guess is the 2016 audience doesn’t like to be fooled as much as the one of 30 years ago, so they’d better bring in the Mythbusters.

Re-Imaginations
These aren’t the only re-imaginations. NBC thinks it can strike gold in B-movie territory. Apparently, there’s a good enough reason to continue the story started in Cruel Intentions (1999). For Taken – Liam Neeson’s I’m going to hunt you down trilogy – they’ve created a prequel series. It’s about how ‘a young Brian Mills develops his particular skill set’. So, basically another MacGyver show. If you change the name of Mills into ‘Dr. Phil’, then you get the logline of CBS’ Bull. A procedural to inflate Phil McGraw’s ego a little more, turning his younger self into the incredibly smart man that he (thinks he) is, who’s helping people prepare for trial. That sounds a lot like the 2006 series Justice. With The Following obliterated, FOX gets its creep on once again, with The Exorcist. Set 15 years after the 2001 movie ended, CBS’ Training Day will pick up the story that got Denzel Washinton his Oscar. Ethan Hawke’s character will not only be older, but also morally more ambiguous.

Supernatural Beings and Lawyers
What’s a pilot season without vampires, werewolves and angels? Written by Monica Owusu-Breen (Alias, Fringe, Revolution, Brothers & Sisters, Charmed and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Midnight Texas brings all of your supernatural suspects to life. Also on NBC: Suits First Class AKA Miranda’s Rights and Timecop Sliders AKA Time, written by Shawn Ryan (Mad Dogs, The Shield). The green apples in ABC’s basket: Cold Case 2.0 AKA Conviction, created by Liz Friedman (Elementary, House MD). ‘Macbeth with a Cuban twist’, The Death of Eva Sofia Valdez, created by Charise Castro Smith (Devious Maids). The People vs Somebody Else AKA The Jury, written by VJ Boyd (Justified), directed by Neil Burger (Billions) and produced by Carol Mendelsohn (the one who founded the CSI factory).

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ABC
There’s no telling when the superhero hype’s going to slow down, but we’re getting closer. ABC puts another series out there, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff Marvel’s Most Wanted, to completely clog the trend. Nobody cares about models, but that’s no reason to pass on Model Woman, a sort of Models Inc In The Seventies, written by Helen Childress, who’s got one other writing credit to her name (Reality Bites). If we didn’t have enough legal business already: Notorious focuses on a criminal defense attorney and a cable news producer. Stephanie Sigman (Narcos, Spectre) stars in Presence as a private investigator, created by John Ridley (12 Years a Slave, American Crime). Also on ABC: Bizarro Revolution AKA Spark, created by Michael Cooney (Identity). Romeo & Juliet The Sequel AKA Still Star-Crossed, created by Heather Mitchell (Scandal, The Chicago Code). And another Time Machine Series AKA Time After Time, created by Kevin Williamson (The Vampire Diaries, Stalker, The Following).

The Ghost of Dave Eggers
Over on CBS: Dave Eggers’ The Circle Meets Dr. House AKA Bunker Hill, written by Jason Katims (Parenthood, About a Boy). Katherine Heigl’s 68th Chance To Show Her Acting Skills AKA Doubt, and Sherlock Is A Woman AKA Drew, written by Joan Rater (Grey’s Anatomy). Although CBS’ Zoo was a (and this is the appropriate term) turd of a show, FOX just made Zoo 2: More Sick Animals under the name of Zoobiquity, written by Stephen Nathan (Bones, Joan of Arcadia). Also on FOX: Dave Eggers’ The Circle Meets Hill Street Blues AKA A.P.B., directed by Len Wiseman, who’s done the pilots for Hawaii Five-O, Sleepy Hollow and most recently Lucifer. Quantico Homeland Mashup AKA Recon, written by Caroline Dries (The Vampire Diaries). The Way Of The Ball Or What Was That Clint Eastwood Movie Called Or Was It That Kevin Costner One? AKA Pitch, starring Kylie Bunbury (Under the Dome) and written by Dan Fogelman (Galavant, Danny Collins).

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A Title So Bad
Two more FOX shows are Shots Fired, about ‘racially charged shootings in a small town’ and (working title) Star, starring Queen Latifah and Benjamin Bratt, a kind of Nashville, this time in Atlanta. The last show on our list, makes us come full circle: ABC’s Designated Survivor. A title so bad, the leading man takes you by surprise: Kiefer Sutherland. It’d be wrong to assume he’s going to play another Bauer-ish character, especially given the logline: ‘A lower-level U.S. Cabinet member suddenly is appointed President after a catastrophic attack during the State of the Union kills everyone above him in the line of succession.’ That sounds interesting. The show, which has been ordered straight to series, is written by David Guggenheim (Safe House) and produced by Simon Kinberg (X-Men Apocalypse, The Martian). Now, is Sutherland going to play this Cabinet member and what’s he going to do as acting President? Who knows. This is by far the most promising pilot of all, but please, ABC, change the name. Mr. Sutherland Goes To Washington would even be a better title than Designated Survivor.

Why The Oscar Nominees Keep Being White

White, caucasian, however you want to call them, the Oscar nominees this year are once again pretty light skinned. Is it a Hollywood conspiracy of 60-something white men in tuxedos? Is it because there aren’t enough talented black actors? Is there something else going on?

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Big White Persian Cat
Let’s start at the beginning. Hollywood is not a place of creativity, but of business. Movie studios are in it for the money. The best way to force their hands, make them allow you to try something truly original, is to become a critically acclaimed director. Quentin Tarantino. Christopher Nolan. Alejandro G. Iñárritu. Steven Spielberg. Terry Gilliam. Terrence Malick. J.J. Abrams. Darren Aronofsky. Danny Boyle. Cameron. Kubrick. Woody. Lynch. Coen. They’re making movies (and most importantly, a profit) that people will go and see, no matter who’s in them. But they’re exceptions to the rule, and the way businesses operate is simple. There’s an old guy in a suit, in an office on the top floor, stroking his big white Persian cat on his lap. He’s president of the company, and because he’s a white middle-aged man, it’s easy to predict what his employees look like. And the employees being hired by his employees, and so forth.

Attraction
Is that racism? That’s not the question you want to ask. People are attracted to other people who look like they do. There’ve been lots of studies that show and explain this, like this one. Attraction, familiarity, trust and being able to quickly assess somebody you’ve just met, are very important elements in establishing friendships, falling in love and also job interviews. The quicker you can read certain people, the bigger chance they’ll have of getting hired by you. So it’s not really a surprise that The Academy is full of people who look like each other and are of about the same age.

Professional Expertise
If those Academy members vote, it’s also no surprise they’re more inclined to vote for actors (and actresses) who look similar to them. Because, if their skin color, type of hair and even eye color, matches to theirs, it’s easier to identify with the person on screen. It doesn’t mean a white man can’t identify with a black actor, it just means the identification process moves slower and they should be aware of that, so it doesn’t play a role anymore. I think we can all agree that this shouldn’t even be an issue, since members of the Academy shouldn’t vote with their first impulse, but with their professional expertise. It’s about who’s done the better job, although comparing acting performances remains very apples & oranges.

Idris Elba Would’ve Survived Too
The professionalism of The Academy can certainly be disputed. Most members don’t even watch all of the movies on the longlist, and really, do more than a handful of them even know how to judge ‘sound mixing’? Or ‘original song’? You can leave that box empty, I suppose. Anyway, let’s come full circle here. The question is not why actors with a slightly darker skin tone aren’t nominated. It is why weren’t they chosen to star in the movies that were. I’m sure Denzel Washington would’ve done a terrific job, exchanging prisoners during the Cold War, in Bridge of Spies. I’m sure we could’ve left Idris Elba on Mars and he would’ve survived, too, in The Martian. I’m sure Don Cheadle could’ve worn a horse for a coat in The Revenant. I’m sure Ving Rhames could’ve bet against the economy in The Big Short. So why didn’t they? Well, money. Whether it’s true or not, Hollywood is convinced a black leading man doesn’t bring in as much money as a white one.

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Compton, Creed, Concussion
So because the studios are hiring people who look similar, and because they prefer white actors for financial reasons, there are two options to bring black actors and directors to the forefront (and into the list of nominees). First: make a damn good movie, and second: get lucky. Straight Outta Compton didn’t. Michael B. Jordan (Creed) didn’t and neither did Will Smith (Concussion). Did Jordan and Smith deserve to be nominated? And whose places would they take? Cranston, Damon, DiCaprio, Fassbender or Redmayne’s? Personally, if I may call upon my own (un)professional expertise, I’d say the Academy nominated the right ones. When it comes to Straight Outta Compton, I don’t get it. There are two spots left open in the Best Picture category, and F. Gary Gray (together with Quentin Tarantino) should’ve been recognized in the Directing category. If I had to guess, the reason why Compton was overlooked (or snubbed), is because most members of the Academy just never saw the film.

Subconscious Illiteracy
Academy president Cheryl Boone has issued a statement this week, saying they’ll shake up the ‘membership recruitment’, to get ‘much-needed diversity’. That sounds like Boone expects new, black members to vote for black actors and directors, doesn’t it? It sounds like voting on impulse, when it should be voting on professionalism (and actually watching the movies, people). The lack of diversity at the Academy and movie studios is a problem, not because of the absence of black Oscar nominees, but because people are attracted to their mirror images and aren’t aware of it. People – especially the ones in positions where they cast and hire people – should be made aware how they’re influenced by their subconscious. It’s only then, when you realize what your decision is based on, that you can change it. Ethnic profiling – which is basically what Boone is planning for the way new members will be recruited in the future – is not the solution. Not including enough diversity isn’t due to racism, it’s due to subconscious illiteracy.

Late Night Talkshows Post-Holiday Comparison

On January 4, the late night talkshow hosts returned from the woodwork, rested, energized, rejuvenated, their funny bones reloaded (and writing teams reassembled). Fallon, Colbert, O’Brien, Kimmel, Meyers and Corden (Jimmy, Stephen, Conan, Jimmy, Seth and James) all reported for duty on Monday, making their first shows of the new year. There’s no fairer moment to compare these six nocturnals.

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4 Categories
They all took a couple of weeks off for the holidays, but they’re back now. Late Night with Stephen Colbert, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Conan, Late Night with Seth Meyers and The Late Late Show with James Corden. Let’s see who got their batteries recharged the best, and who’d be better off spending a few more weeks digesting turkeys, chocolate and champagne. Because all of the late night talkshows have the same late night formula, it’s easy to judge them one category at a time (that’s why The Daily Show isn’t included, which has a different kind of format). The monologue, the comedy segments, the guests, and the music, standup or variety performance. The winner of each category gets 2 points, the runner-up 1 point. The talkshow with the most points, wins. It’s as simple as that.

Category 1: The Monologue
The individual monologues are either personal or political. Colbert shows a little video he made during new year’s eve, in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic. Fireworks going off everywhere around him, or as Colbert describes it, people were ‘firing explosives at each other’s faces’.
Kimmel’s personal story is about someone being sort of complimented for looking like Kathy Bates, a 30-year old woman who didn’t look anything like Kathy Bates. I couldn’t find any funniness in it. Kimmel’s better at interviewing people, like last year’s Bachelor, via video wall. It’s a nice conversation, but honestly, who cares about The Bachelor?
Meyers saves his holiday reminiscing for a later moment in the show. He starts off with a couple of good political jokes and a great reconstruction about what happened in the writers room when they tried to come up with an aloha/aloha joke (‘aloha’ meaning both hello and goodbye). A perfect example of how explaining a joke can actually be quite funny as well.
Conan O’Brien and James Corden kind of stick to their guns. The latter just needs one headline about new year’s resolutions to start off the show, O’Brien’s monologue is the most varied of all. He and Andy Richter get visited by the ‘Freedom Doers’, a band of shotgun packing lumberjacks, standing up for themselves around Richter’s podium.
Jimmy Fallon pulls someone from his seat in the audience, for seemingly no reason at all. But I must say, his (political) jokes are good – especially the one involving Hillary Clinton – and his monologue – albeit quite short – is very tight.
I kind of expected a lot of overlap, but there wasn’t, except for the video of Mike Tyson falling off his hoverboard in his living room, which both Kimmel and Corden showed.
I give 2 points to Fallon, because being funny really is the most important thing. Meyers ended his monologue with too very old puns. One about Florida, the other about marihuana. I’ll have to give 1 point to Colbert. His jokes were fine, and I liked his home video.

Category 2: The Comedy Segments
Corden and Reggie Watts play ‘Two Lies One Truth’. A cheesy game, but because Corden doesn’t just pick one story and starts to question his band leader, it becomes very enjoyable.
O’Brien has a short segment about his assistant Sona, who’s let (not really, of course) the fame gone to her head.
Meyers takes the time to tell not one, but two stories. The first one is about a horse. A dead horse. A story about the carcass of a horse being eaten by dogs. In the street. A horse that never even had a name, apparently. Meyers had also gone to the movies with his family, to the new Star Wars. Unfortunately, it was a movie theatre in New Hampshire. Definitely not the place to go if you want to the see the whole of the Death Star – or Star Killer Base. He also has a political segment called ‘A Closer Look’, and the way too simple guessing game ‘Venn Diagrams’. He did however start the show with ‘Making a Talkshow Host’, inspired by the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer, which has been trending for days now.
Colbert is at it again, with ‘Jeb!’ and the fact the phrase/burp is no longer trademarked. Then, he shows us how to bridge cultural differences, by being taught how to cook a traditional Indian meal (titled: ‘Naan of your Business’), but the clip is dragging a bit too much.
Fallon brings out ‘Screen Grabs’. Semi-funny screenshots, sent in by viewers. The last one’s a picture of a play, and one of the actors looks like Fallon. Jimmy doesn’t see it. To be sure, he dresses up exactly like the guy, which was a very cool thing to do.
Kimmel aims his arrows at the baby picture of Saint West, the Kardashian/Kanye hybrid. It’s a photograph of just the hand, though. Sidekick Guillermo was asked to draw the rest of the child. Who thought that’d be funny? Then, there’s a clip where people on the street are asked about their new year’s resolutions. It felt very pre-produced. There may have been a few real ‘street people’, but most seemed to have been asked to just read the text next to the camera.
I guess, because most segments didn’t go anywhere, I’ll have to give 2 points to Colbert and 1 point to Fallon.

Category 3: The Guests
Colbert has Samuel L. Jackson, which was a nice interview, but why does Jackson always have to look into the camera and say catchphrases? Why does he always have to do outgoing voice mail messages? Also on the show: the beautiful and incredibly smart 17-year old Olivia Hallisey. As Colbert says: ‘I don’t know whether to be inspired or intimidated by you’. Be both.
O’Brien has two of the fastest talkers on his couch. Martin Short and hurricane in human form Lauren Ash. Hanging on her lips is non-negotiable. She’s a brutal force of beauty, energy and Too Much Information.
Kimmel has Jennifer ‘sparkly as ever’ Lopez on the show. J-Lo has a lot to plug, and her anecdotes about buying gifts and slot machines don’t really interest me that much. Second guest: Ben Higgins, the new Bachelor. It’d be fun if Kimmel brought up the show UnReal, but of course that’s never going to happen.
Fallon has Sylvester Stallone, who’s looking sharp. ‘I had it painted on, this afternoon’, he says, when the host compliments him on his suit. It’s a nice interview, with a lot of inside information about Stallone’s life pre-Rocky, his dog, Dolph Lundgren and Michael B. Jordan (Creed), who we see getting punched in the face, on a behind the scenes video. Next guest is John Stamos and there’s a lot of sticking thumbs into mouths, which doesn’t make any sense, not even for comedy’s sake. Stamos keeps his actor’s face on at all times, which only makes things worse.
On Meyers, Jennifer Hudson’s talking a lot about Broadway – a bit too much, for my taste. Then Jennifer Jason Leigh is up, who looks… gotten-a-lot-of-work-done-ish. Her face is closer to Renée Zellweger’s than her own now.
Corden has got the ridiculously beautiful Sarah Silverman on. And she’s funny, too. And a great storyteller. Who else would be able to make a simple tale of getting a drumset for Christmas so entertaining and even heartfelt? On the couch as well: Alicia Vikander and Taylor Kinney, who both can’t compete with Silverman’s glow.
I’d never heard of Lauren Ash before, so that was a very nice surprise. Conan gets 2 points, just for having her on. I can’t choose between Corden and Fallon. Both get 1 point.

Category 4: The Music, Standup or Variety Performance
Colbert doesn’t have a performance. Not even a back and forth with Jean Baptiste (which usually is a weak link in the show’s structure anyway).
Corden’s the only one with a standup act, but Jamie Lee just tells jokes. Isn’t that the whole point? Well, I’d like my comedians to bring their personalities onto the stage. After Lee’s performance, I have no idea who she is.
Meyers has Zella Day, a pretty average, quasi-mystical, but casually clothed blonde girl with a band of coffee house hipsters behind her.
On Fallon, Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello perform. A high school duo who’re acting a little bit too grownup for their ages. The song’s alright, though.
Tori Kelly sings on Kimmel with just an acoustic guitar. It looks good, but she sings about meaningless life lessons. A song about everything and therefor nothing.
Clearly pre-recorded, 5 Seconds of Summer performs on Conan. They’re okay.
I don’t really feel like giving points for this category.

Conclusion
Honestly, I expected a bit more from late night. Especially the comedy segments were big letdowns. The interviews stood and fell by the guests, which is saying something about the hosts. Fallon gets silly when the conversation needs depth. Corden’s still juggling his guests, trying to give them all an equal amount of attention. He often cuts them off, for no other reason than to go to the next bullet point on his cue card. Meyers is too gentle. He finds it hard to interrupt his guests, so stories go on for too long. Kimmel, O’Brien and Colbert are much better at conducting interviews, although they all are bound to asking what they already know. It rarely turns into a genuine conversation; the tragic fate of a talkshow host.
Anyway. Even though his silliness gets annoying sometimes, Jimmy Fallon (4 points) has won, followed by Stephen Colbert (3), Conan O’Brien (2) and James Corden (1).

2016 Q1 Watchlist

It’s the first day of the rest of your lives – happy new year, everyone – and it’s only a matter of time before the media starts calling it Official (Inter)National Hangover Day. Sit back and relax, get yourself a clean water drip, some spicy tomatoes and fried eggs (in that exact order; trust me, that’ll help). You don’t have to do anything today, except get excited about the new TV season. We’ve taken a look at the schedule and there’s some good stuff on it. Potentially, of course. In chronological order, you don’t want to miss the following shows.

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January
It’s probably due to the massive workload on the desks of Martin Freeman (Fargo, The Hobbit, The Office UK) and Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game, Doctor Strange, The Hobbit), that Sherlock has been taking its sweet time. At least we’re getting one episode this year – airing tonight, in fact – called ‘The Abominable Bride’. If you prefer lighter work, I’d suggest the start of the second season of Galavant, on January 3. It’s such a fish out of water, being a medieval musical comedy series, which never should’ve made it to episode 2, let alone season 2, but maybe that’s exactly its strength; going against the grain and beating the odds. The more conventional (and currently best) comedy series return two days later: The Grinder and Brooklyn Nine Nine.

Idol XV
It’s been a given, for the past 174 years: American Idol. But we’ll have to say goodbye to the singing competition. J-Lo, K.U., Harry ‘Nae Nae’ Jay Jay and Cresto will be desk-judging one last time. After weeks and weeks, pick a superstar. And then push that same superstar into anonymity again before the night is through. It’s been a music biz tradition, and now it ends. It took 14 seasons to realize you can’t manufacture an idol. Its 15th starts on January 6.

Shades of Blue
Jennifer Lopez has had more success being a judge than playing somebody else. I’m not sure exactly where she turned right where she should’ve gone straight ahead (Gigli? The Cell? The Wedding Planner?), but her acting days seemed to be dead and buried. On January 7, on NBC (right after Idol on FOX, I suppose), and produced by a company called ‘Ryan Seacrest Productions’, she stars in new police drama Shades of Blue, together with Ray Liotta and Drea de Matteo.

How to Out-Netflix Netflix
On January 10, we take a breath with Ricky Gervais and the Golden Globes. On January 13, FOX rolls out Second Chance (which once has gone by the names of The Frankenstein Code and Lookinglass). The next day, it’s Colony time on USA. Gordon Ramsay returns on January 15 with a new bunch of hopefuls (and two or three contestants who can actually cook) on Hell’s Kitchen. After burning down the house, it’s time to get political. Real time, with Bill Maher over on HBO. That same weekend, the complete first season of Angie Tribeca, created by Steve and Nancy Carrell, will be released by TBS. The next week, its second season already starts, on a weekly basis, so you’d better catch up fast. Man, they’re sure trying to out-Netflix Netflix on this one.

Ninja Warrior Duo-Play Edition
I know it will bring a smile on your face when I tell you that Damian Lewis is back on Showtime (January 17). Not as an ambivalent veteran this time, though. He and Paul Giamatti star in Billions. Expect shady business in the corporate world. Everybody else is doing it, so why can’t we, is what PBS must’ve thought. Mercy Street is their first drama in over a decade. On January 19, it’s a whole other ballgame, when the American Ninja Warrior spin-off Team Ninja Warrior comes out of the cage.

High Anticipation
Amazon finally releases its first season of Shawn Ryan’s Mad Dogs, on January 22. The pilot was amazing and we’ve been losing our patience ever since. Two days after that, another highly anticipated premiere: the 10th season of The X-Files. Stubbled Mulder and Scully gone blonde go ‘out there’ again, for a mere 6 episodes. On January 25, FOX unleashes the super-antihero Lucifer, starring Tom Ellis. The following day, Outsiders premieres on WGN. A series about a mountain community, deliberately cut off from the rest of the world, starring David Morse. January 27 is a work day, at least at Pearson Specter Litt, when Suits returns.

Travolta vs. The Muppets
It’s no secret the reinvention of The Muppets hasn’t been a critical success. Or success, period. They’ve been busy retooling the show, so on February 2, we might get pleasantly surprised. I say: more Pepe! The furry animals have steep competition, though, because American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson premieres on the same night. John Travolta is in it; need I say more?

11/22/63
February 3, there’s an interesting mini-series, called Madoff, starring Richard Dreyfuss, Erin Cummings and Lewis Black. While everything’s up and running, we take a short break, until HBO brings out Vinyl on February 14. The trailers didn’t exactly grab me, but you never know; maybe it’s one of those typical HBO slow suck-in shows. Hulu starts to step onto the plate more and more, and you want to look out for 11.22.63 on February 15. Time travel, J.J. Abrams’ production company Bad Robot and Stephen King; what more do you want? I tell you what I don’t want: James Franco. But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

Tuxedos
February 15 is also the date of the continuation of Jimmy McGill’s transformation into Saul Goodman. On February 26, Netflix not only launches the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but also – one of the biggest bets they’ve ever placed, in my opinion – the Full House revival show Fuller House. I mean, really, who’s going to watch that? February 28, it’s the night of tuxedos and commercials: The Academy Awards.

The Re-Election, Maybe, of Frank Underwood
Blindspot returns on leap day February 29, but the real event of that week is, of course, the 4th season of House of Cards, on March 4. Quantico’s back on March 6, and ABC has re-written, re-shot, re-directed and re-cast their Thrones wannabe Of Kings and Prophets, which will premiere on March 8. Speaking of Game of Thrones, the 6th season is set to begin on April 24, but that’s yet to be officially confirmed.

Perry Passion
March 9, it’s WGN again, with Underground, which reads as a mashup of 12 Years a Slave and The Great Escape. On March 24, Peter Krause, Sonya Walger and Mireille Enos star in The Catch on ABC. Hulu brings The Path on March 30, starring Aaron ‘bitch’ Paul and Rockmond Dunbar, and last but not least, FOX will air a live broadcast of The Passion on March 20. Tyler Perry will narrate the last hours of Jesus Christ, while a huge white cross will be carried through the streets of New Orleans.

The Golden Globes 2016 Nominees

Sunday January 10, 2016. The day the Earth stands still again. Why? Because that’s the date Ricky Gervais will once again land on holy ground. And unholy the hell out of it, I’m sure. O, and there’s an award ceremony happening at the same time, too. The Golden Globes. Those are like the Modern Oscars, since they include acting on smaller screens as well. We’ll only take a look at the TV and streaming dramas, comedies and limited-series, but best picture should be Mad Max: Fury Road. As Larry King would say: my two cents. It’s so much the ultimate favorite to win that it’s actually become the underdog. Don’t ask me how. Anyway, here are the nominees and who we think should win.

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Best TV Series
I don’t know why, but the Golden Globe committee always divides this category into separate ones. That’s three balls for the price of one. There’s an award for best drama, comedy and TV Movie or limited-series. Best drama being the most important one. That committee, by the way, is called the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. It consists of a little over 90 members, from all parts of the world – obviously. That’s how small that group is, especially compared to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which has close to 6000 voting members.

Best Drama
Best drama could go to Empire (FOX), Narcos (Netflix), Outlander (Starz), Mr. Robot (USA) or Game of Thrones (HBO). It’s nice that USA is finally recognized (Suits has been snubbed so many times I lost count), but unfortunately the mental health of Elliot (or Mr. Robot, for that matter) never grabbed me. It wouldn’t have made a difference anyway, because there’s only one drama that’s upped every ante in the drama division this year, and that is, of course, Game of Thrones.
Honorable mention: Hand of God (Amazon). It looks like its subject matter flew over the heads of the foreign press, as well as American newspaper critics, but it was an incredibly strong first season, starring Ron Perlman, Dana Delany, Garret Dillahunt and many, many more. All award worthy performances. It’s a shame those 90 people didn’t bother to see it.

Best Comedy
Best comedy could go to Casual (Hulu), Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon), Silicon Valley (HBO), Transparent (Amazon), Orange is the New Black (Netflix) and Veep (HBO). The first three of these don’t stand a chance, with Transparent crushing everything in its path, and OITNB and especially Veep being very popular amongst critics. For that reason alone, it’d be nice to see Casual win.

Best TV Movie or Limited-series
This category has got snooze written all over it (American Crime, American Horror Story: Hotel, Wolf Hall), with two exceptions: Fargo and Flesh and Bone. The latter being a nice surprise this year, the former being absolutely destined to win. Some critics admitted to never gotten into Fargo, which makes them totally unqualified for the job, in my opinion. On rare occasions, brilliance supersedes taste; this is one of those moments.

The Rules
It’s a Golden Globe tradition to debate the particular categories certain shows are in. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether something’s more like a drama or comedy. They’re non-exclusive, of course, but where do you draw the line? The ‘Hollywood Foreign Press Association Golden Globe Award Consideration Rules’ don’t offer much help. About what’s considered a ‘television series’, they say: ‘A recurring series with a total running time of at least 150 program minutes aired during the qualifying year.’
That’s clear. But what about being a drama, comedy or musical? Well: ‘The majority of the running time of at least 150 program minutes aired during the qualifying year must be primarily musical, comedic or dramatic.’
This means, that at least 51% of a show needs to be funny to qualify as a comedy. How do you calculate such a thing? Do you measure the smile on your face while you’re watching it, or just count the jokes? Awkward situations? Funny looks on characters’ faces?

Best Actress in a Drama
Moving on. Best actress in a drama: Caitriona Balfe (Outlander), Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder), Eva Green (Penny Dreadful), Taraji P. Henson (Empire) and Robin Wright (House of Cards).
Davis will probably get it, Green deserves it – being tucked away in the darkest corner of the week on Showtime – but Wright might deserve it a little more. I don’t know why House of Cards isn’t nominated for best drama (Outlander, foreign press? Really?), even though it’s not been its best season, there was still a lot of good stuff in there. Not to mention having its finger perfectly placed on the pulse of the times we live in.

Best Actress in a Comedy
Best actress in a comedy: Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep), Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) and Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie). I’d say Lily or Gina.

Best Actress in a limited-series or TV movie
Best actress in a limited-series or TV movie: Kirsten Dunst (Fargo), Lady Gaga (American Horror Story: Hotel), Sarah Hay (Flesh and Bone), Felicity Huffman (American Crime) and Queen Latifah (Bessie).
I have a feeling, if Hay doesn’t get it now, she won’t get it at all. And I would like her to win. However, Dunst has completely won me over this year, with whipped cream and sugar on top, as Peggy Blumquist.

Best Supporting Actress in a series, limited-series or TV Movie
Best supporting actress in a series, limited-series or TV movie: Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black), Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey), Regina King (American Crime), Judith Light (Transparent) and Maura Tierney (The Affair).
I’d pick Tierney, but I just hope John Travolta is going to present this award; there are a few names in this category that could easily go wrong.

Best Actor in a Drama
Best actor in a drama: Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Rami Malek (Mr. Robot), Wagner Maura (Narcos), Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) and Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan).
The more time passes since the series finale of Mad Men, the more ridiculous it becomes. That doesn’t take anything away from Hamm’s performance, but maybe it does a little bit. I would’ve much rather have seen Gabriel Macht here as well, and Peter Dinklage. Ron Perlman. Kevin Spacey. Timothy Olyphant. Titus Welliver. But if I had to choose, I’d go with – even though Narcos was a bit too mellow, and was totally overusing the voiceover – Wagner Maura.

Best Actor in a Comedy
Best actor in a comedy: Aziz Ansari (Master of None), Gael García Bernal (Mozart in the Jungle), Rob Lowe (The Grinder), Patrick Stewart (Blunt Talk) and Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent).
Good to see Lowe on the list. Ansari’s sauntering a bit too much, Stewart’s brought overacting to a whole new level (but is that a good thing?) and Tambor, well, I think his name’s already being engraved. I have my doubts about how long The Grinder can continue – how long before the show The Grinder turns into the fake show The Grinder? – but Lowe is absolutely hilarious.

Best Actor in a series, limited-series or TV Movie
Best actor in a series, limited-series or TV movie: Idris Elba (Luther), Oscar Isaac (Show Me a Hero), David Oyelowo (Nightingale), Mark Rylance (Wolf Hall) and Patrick Wilson (Fargo).
This category could easily have been Fargo across the board. Wilson was great, but greater than Jesse Plemons? Or better yet: Jeffrey Donovan?

Best Supporting Actor in a Limited-Series or TV Movie
Best supporting actor in a limited-series or TV movie: Alan Cumming (The Good Wife), Damian Lewis (Wolf Hall), Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline), Tobias Menzes (Outlander) and Christian Slater (Mr. Robot).
Of all the supporting actors, they came up with this list? I think that says enough.

The Best Reality Show of All

Whether ordinary people play games, buy stuff, sell stuff, shop, fish, sing, stay indoors, travel or go in for a 16-week job interview, television has made a successful reality show out of it. This is the age of reality. Augmented and scripted reality, of course, but still. It seems like it’s hard to come up with something new. Every celebrity, family, subculture, profession’s already got a magnifying glass hoovering over them, the size of the alien space ships in Independence Day. I’m not saying I have the answer how to rocket the television genre into a new age. But I do have an answer. And that answer’s called combinationalism. Yes, I just made up a new word.

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Combinationalism
The CW’s The Flash, Arrow and the infantile title Legends of Tomorrow, the Avengers movies and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Netflix series Daredevil and Jessica Jones, Batman and Superman teaming up (sort of), Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D., FOX’s plans to make an Expendables TV show, you name it, in the world of fiction everybody’s doing everybody. Shows and movies merge, intersect, bump into each other, like everything takes place in the same universe. Now, reality shows do actually take place in the same universe. Earth. This planet. So I think it’s only fair, and about time, really, to create The Ultimate Crossover. A reality show that includes every reality show ever made (well, at least we can try, right?). For lack of a better word, let’s call it combinationalism.

Teams
First of all, we need teams. A nice mix of celebrities, talented unknown amateurs and people without anything that could be mistaken for talent. They come in and immediately have to do a blind audition. Sing. In front of a blindfolded jury, that includes only British people, obviously. Simon Cowell, Gordon Ramsay and a young girl with too much makeup that no one’s ever heard of. Apparently, a producer used her vocals on one of his dance tracks and that made her famous. Okay, fine. The contestants have to stay seated while singing and if the jury doesn’t like what they’re hearing, they push a button that catapults the singer into a shark tank.

Round 2
The contestants not eaten by sharks, move on to Round 2. A deserted island. Bear Grylls shows them how to make fire from rubbing a rare type of salamander on his thighs and off he goes. After three weeks of eating coconuts and raw snails, they’re picked up by a boat. They’re all being weighed inside of a dirty hangar by Chris Powell. The one who lost the most weight, wins. He or she gets one minute of alone time with Donald Trump (which will come in handy later on).

Build a House
After shopping for new clothes and participating in a Hotdog All You Can Eat Competition, the teams go to Round 3. Building a house together. They have two days. Their budgets allow them to hire someone from the ‘professionals pool’, but look out. One of these so-called professionals is a mole. After two days, potential buyers come by to take a look at it. These are all families with 8 kids or more.

The Board Room
At this stage of the game, one or more teams have definitely split up. Friendships broken, relationships over. They’re in luck, because Round 4 locks up everybody in a mansion, where 100 naked single men and women are coming over to visit. After an exhausting three weeks, the teams are summoned to the board room. Donald Trump, David Hasselhoff and Ryan Seacrest decide who are the three most loyal contestants.

The Final
Round 5 flies the three finalists to Alaska. There, they have to make a 110-minute comedy starring Ariel Tweto, which will air on an unspecified date at midnight on HBO. The one with the highest IMDb rating, wins. That means, the contestant still has one more round to go. He or she has to run from the East Coast to the West Coast, Forrest Gump style. After reaching the finish line, he or she receives… well, nothing; it’s reality.

The Only Proper Way to Reboot Knight Rider

It’s been tried so many times that by now I’ve lost count, but if the world does indeed crave a watchable reboot of the classic eighties show Knight Rider, this would be the way to do it.

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Another Chance
I say this with total humbleness, because there are more roads leading to Rome – if not all -, so this is merely one way for Knight Rider to join The X-Files, The A-Team, The Six Million Dollar Man, Prison Break, Heroes and maybe even Deadwood, Miami Vice and Models, Inc. Just kidding about that last one. Reboots are all the rage, so why not give Michael Knight and his shiny black friend another chance? There are rules, though. They can be found in the Reboot Manifest, which doesn’t exist yet, but at the very least writers and studios should have a sense of what should be in it.

In 2000 Years
They’ve tried to bring back ‘Man with talking car’ a few times. Most recently in 2008, with an updated version. Younger man, modernized car, and David ‘The Hoff’ Hasselhoff giving his blessing. What came out, lacked any creativity, style and humor. If Back to the Future ever gets remade – which could happen 2000 years after Robert Zemeckis has died, apparently, according to his will -, would you leave out the DeLorean? No, of course not. You need the car, flux capacitor, the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance, and give or take one or two pine trees.

Artificial Intelligence Gizmo
You should keep the things you loved about the original, and go from there. That means Michael Long turning into Michael Knight with a little help from a plastic surgeon. It means he’s the top secret agent employed by the Foundation for Law and Government, led by Devon Miles. And it certainly means a black Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, with a red light snaking across its nose, including the voice of William Daniels. That’s the framework you want. Otherwise, it could be just another show starring an action figure with an artificial intelligence gizmo at his disposal (like Person of Interest, Intelligence and Almost Human).

Serialized Procedural
Because a lot of television is serialized nowadays, and even the procedurals now have a tiny ongoing storyline they usually attend to in the last 5 minutes of every episode, the new Knight Rider should also find a strong antagonist, for at least one season – like Justified used to do. Each week, Michael and KITT are sent on a new mission by FLAG. That’s the procedural part. Meanwhile, they have to deal with the threat of somebody wanting to take down the Foundation. That could either be a politician (season 2), who wants to shut them down by any means necessary, a terrorist organisation (season 3), a competitor (season 4) like a private military company – which also paves the way for KITT-clone KARR to make its appearance, but for the first season, I’d suggest a more personal vendetta.

Trial and Error
I’m sure FLAG and Devon had been doing tryouts for a long time, before enlisting Michael. There were George, Jack, Jesse, Hank, Case and Jerald. And Caitlin. They all got plastic surgery, training, a KITT prototype, a watch to talk into; the whole Knight Package. But it’s always trial and error with these kind of things. Some got their faces screwed up, some got killed, some were left behind enemy lines, sacrificed. One of these men surely must have an axe to grind. Presumed dead, Hank (or George) could be the ‘shadowy flight’ that goes after FLAG for a number of episodes.

A Different Home
Although Knight Rider used to air on NBC, it’s not unthinkable the reboot would find a different home. NBC has seriously been stacking up its action series catalogue, so they might not be too eager with yet another one. I can’t imagine Rider to start its engines on cable, though. Netflix could be an option; they don’t shy away from a little warmed up nostalgia.