Tagged: TV

Batman is dead! Adam West was 88.

TV news: new shows overshadowed by Tim Allen’s big cancellation


Last week was the annual “upfronts” previewing the new fall lineups for the major US television networks, and you can see the stories about what went down here, and here

I guess the biggest TV news of the past while is that ABC intends to bring back American Idol in 2018, which ruffles the feathers of the folks at FOX who thought they had sent this show off into the sunset already. 

Honestly, folks — why is this piece of junk coming back? Everyone is sick of American Idol; it produced a few stars during its first incarnations but descended immediately into total “who-cares-TV” after Simon Cowell left. Besides, there is a glut of other music and reality-show competitions on TV. This show ought to rest in peace.

Anyway, the big news is not the shows that are coming on the air, but the ones that are being cancelled. Of those, there are a few surprises. I notice ABC is in particular hot water for its decision to axe the still well-watched Last Man Standing starring Tim Allen. There are petitions going around protesting the cancellation, with accusations that this show is being booted off the air simply because Allen is a conservative. 

For his part, Allen says he is “stunned and blindsided“. People on the right are really taking this hard. Anyway, it looks as if 20th Century Fox is going to try and find a new home for it. 

Of the other cancelled shows, the one I found particularly notable was 2 Broke Girls, which had been on the air for years. I didn’t think it was in any sort of danger, but I suppose whenever a sitcom hits the six-year mark, it’s usually time to go. 

For those keeping track, here is the list of which network shows are dead or alive.

It’s official: Jay and Dan returning to TSN!


Why am I not surprised? I just knew TSN would do some cheap stunt like this. Today, during their annual NHL TradeCentre trade deadline coverage (which in recent years has been notorious for nothing happening), they take the opportunity to announce that Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole are returning to TSN.

This, I think, is the very definition of “fake news”.

More proof we are getting old; Judge Wapner from The People’s Court, dead at 97.


Yes, the news is that Judge Joseph Wapner, the TV judge who presided over the original “judge-TV” show The People’s Court, and who paved the way for Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown and the rest of these other famous TV judges, has died

I know, I know: you thought he was already dead. Still, it is sad news for TV fans who remember watching this show in afternoon syndication.

Watching NBC’s 90th Anniversary special is making me feel 90 years old!

I am currently watching The Paley Center Salutes NBC 90th Anniversary special (in between UFC Fight Night fights), and for me the nostalgia has been at a premium in this production tonight. This review sums it up — it sure seems like there’s hardly any footage pre-1975. There’s been a few, I guess, but it seems like most of the clips are for the last 20 or so years, including even these SNL clips they were showing earlier.

But you know what? The young generation probably thinks Friends, Cheers, Seinfeld and the rest of these Nineties shows are already ancient stuff! By their standards, Hill Street Blues and L.A. Law are old as the hills! And I can’t blame them. I remember when I was a kid watching some of these network TV retrospective shows that aired at the time, and back then “20 years” seemed like a long, long time ago. 

For me, the true “classic” NBC shows include Star TrekGet Smart, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and I Dream of Jeannie. We’re talking “fifty years” for those episodes! Heck, there were even variety shows starring the likes of Bob Hope or Dean Martin that I remember, too. 

I am really showing my age mentioning this. The fact that I can even remember these shows that aired so long ago is depressing — or perhaps this is good, because I haven’t lost my memory yet.

Now they are showing some clips from old cop shows now like Dragnet and The Rockford Files. Man, do I feel old watching this.

Update: they just showed clips from The Facts of Life and Miami Vice. I really feel old.

They’ve torn down the iconic Corner Gas set today in Rouleau!!

It’s not just The Muppets cancelled; it’s lots of shows! CSI: Cyber, Castle, Agent Carter, etc.


If you are a television watcher, it’s a bad time of year because lots of familiar TV series are being booted from the air. 

Yesterday, of course, there was word that ABC had cancelled The Muppets. But it’s actually a lot more than that because all the networks have been casting shows overboard in the last couple of days. Among the big-name shows not returning are Castle (which was going to lose co-star Stana Katic anyway), Nashville, Agent Carter (!), CSI: Cyber, Grandfathered starring John Stamos, and The Grinder starring Rob Lowe, among others.

I guess the other big news is that Supergirl is moving from CBS over to the CW, which is almost the same thing as being cancelled because, let’s face it, nobody watches the CW. 

These moves are all in advance of the upfronts and rollout of a new batch of new series to replace all of them. But the cancellation slaughter seemed quite marked this year, and I suspect it is because less people are interested in watching network TV anymore. More and more, people are getting their entertainment elsewhere – from cable TV, from Netflix, from mobile devices, and so on. That is where all the action is these days. 

It makes me yearn for the old days of the 70s and 80s when network TV really was exciting and worth watching every week. Now that I think of it, wasn’t The Muppet Show on way back in the Seventies and early Eighties, during the network glory days? I suppose that is another issue for network TV in 2016: stale ideas.

Daytime Emmy nominations have been announced!

Must-see TV. American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson debuts Tuesday

Another reminder to myself — on Tuesday night, the miniseries American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson airs on FX. The ten-part series airs at 10pm Eastern and Pacific on FX, but where I live here in freezing cold Saskatchewan, the debut is scheduled for 9pm Tuesday on Citytv. 

I will definitely be glued to the TV set to watch, and I imagine it will get big ratings, especially with all the recent interest by viewers in true-crime entertainment and criminal subject matter in general (Steven Avery, Robert Durst, etc.). 

In fact, it is hard for me to believe it is over 20 years ago now since the Simpson trial. This case certainly held my attention during 1994 and 1995, and the cast of characters was colorful to say the least. Johnnie Cochran! Marcia Clark! Robert Shapiro! Christopher Darden! Judge Lance Ito! Kato Kaelin! To top it off, there was even a Kardashian involved. 

Good stuff. Really, somebody had to make a miniseries about all this, the story is just too good. 

Late night wars update: Jimmy Fallon is crushing it

  

I noticed a piece this week by famed late-night TV chronicler Bill Carter about the current new era of late night TV. It’s basically about how Jimmy Fallon has crushed Stephen Colbert and everyone else in late night, and it makes a few good points. 

I have ragged before, in agreement with a NY Post article on the subject, that a big problem for Colbert is that his show is full of politics, especially liberal politics. And that is turning people off. 

But there is no doubt another reason he is sinking in the ratings is simply because the competition is too strong. Fallon is just killing it with his energetic style of show. Moreover, you don’t get the sense that Fallon is going to shove politics down your throat to the same degree. It’s mainly about the entertainment and about getting laughs.

And that approach is a good thing, because it is increasingly obvious the people of the USA are seeking relief from the continual media-driven obsession with American politics there. 

Do you know there is yet another Presidential debate tonight, for the Democrats? Yes, that’s right, another one. 

Another thing that happened while I was in Cuba: a bloodbath at CHCH Hamilton

  

I am still catching up on the news I missed out on while I was vacationing in Cuba. It turns out there was a big bloodbath Friday at local independent station CHCH in Hamilton

129 full-time and 38 part-time people were let go (though I understand a smaller amount were immediately hired back), and they cut their news output from 80 hours a week down to 17.5. A lot of big names in Hamilton TV lost their jobs. Sports guy Ken Welch, weather guy Matt Hayes, Donna Skelly, Lauren Sabourin, Liz West, Mark Hebscher, a number of them. These were people who, for the most part, were at the station back when I was still living in Ontario and watching their newscasts.

This follows on the heels of the huge bloodbath that hit CTV across the country. Compared to Bell Media and their profits, though, it sounds as if CHCH was in really dire financial straits and had actually filed for bankruptcy. This isn’t the first time CHCH has had problems, either; I remember the station almost closed down completely a number of years ago before Channel Zero took over. 

This is another bit of news that doesn’t give me much confidence about the news business in Canada — in particular, the TV news business. And a fine time of year for this to happen, too. Merry Christmas, ho ho ho.

Update: I notice the CBC has up a piece with some of the goodbyes from the on-air people who departed CHCH. I noticed Mark Hebscher held nothing back in telling it like it is about the shabby way people were treated by the station. 

All said, it’s sad and troubling times for CHCH and the entire news business in Canada, really.

Happy 50th anniversary to A Charlie Brown Christmas!

Worst part of baseball playoffs: putting up with ignorant US TV commentators!!

  
Ever since the baseball postseason started there has been mounds of complaints from people in Canada about how the regular TV crew for the Toronto Blue Jays has been bumped to make room for these network feeds from the ‘States. Instead of getting Sportsnet announcers Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler, we’re getting the American broadcasts instead. 

Truth is, folks, that all the American teams are in the exact same boat as we are. Everyone’s local broadcasts and announcers are bumped, as the postseason games are on Fox, FS1, TBS, MLB Network or ESPN. 

All of North America is stuck with the national crews, not just Blue Jays fans. So quit feeling sorry for yourselves, as fans south of the border are just as disgusted.

The difference in the US, though, is those fans don’t have to deal with ignorant comments from the likes of Harold Reynolds, who infamously opened his mouth last night during the Jays-Rangers game three on FS1:

“We’re talking about foul balls in the stands up in Toronto and because there’s not a lot of people who grew up playing baseball in Canada, they’re not used to catching a lot of balls hit into the stands.”

Um, Harold, Canadians play baseball, too. We even beat your country this year at the Pan Am Games.

This reminds me of that time in Atlanta during the World Series when they flew the Canadian flag upside-down. Well, at least the Blue Jays won it all that year. 

The Toronto Blue Jays are crushing opponents on the field and in the TV ratings! 

  
Pennant fever is gripping all of Canada. The Toronto Blue Jays are in first place and last weekend wrapped up a big weekend series on the road against the rival New York Yankees, and what’s more, Canadian sports fans have been tuning in. 

Chris Zelkovich over at Yahoo! had the numbers for the weekend and they were crushing. The Saturday doubleheader on Sportsnet got between 1.7-1.8 million viewers between them, and the Friday game was very close behind. 

These numbers rival what Hockey Night in Canada gets for their early Saturday night games during the season. Of course, Rogers holds those TV rights as well, so they have to be pretty happy. They are killing TSN.

The baseball contests were up against CFL football games over on TSN and the Blue Jays simply crushed them in the ratings. In fact, the Toronto Argonauts’ game against Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday was head-to-head against the Blue Jays, and the birds totally killed them with 1.7 million viewers to the CFL’s 418,000.

Now, this latest ratings report has produced handwringing from folks here on the prairies, where CFL interest still reigns supreme over all other sports. In fact, I was at Boston Pizza last Friday in Saskatoon and most of the TVs in there were actually tuned to the Argos-Ticats, if you can believe it.

Our die-hard CFL fans here just cannot wrap their heads around the Blue Jays’ good fortune. They worry about what it means for the future of their beloved CFL. In fact I notice a lot of local fans are resentful of the Blue Jays’ and their success. They are venting anger at the team and at Rogers for stealing fan interest away from the CFL. 

They are also quite livid that the Argos are being kicked out of Rogers Centre when the baseball playoffs start. They consider this an insult to the CFL. It’s funny – fans here are more outraged about this situation than they are in Toronto.

Personally, as a Jays fan and a former Toronto resident myself, I find this local reaction funny. I cannot blame fans across Canada for being more interested in the Blue Jays. It’s been a while since they have been in contention this late in the season, and it’s about bleeping time. On top of that, they are offering the superior product to the CFL’s on-field incompetent play and micromanaging refereeing. 

With the Jays, you have Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson and everyone else belting home runs and pitchers like David Price getting Ks. And they were facing the best the Yankees had last weekend. The Jays deserve all the fan excitement they are getting right now. 

Still, the ratings debacle for the CFL last Friday could have been avoided. I wonder why the CFL schedule-makers would put a Toronto-Hamilton rivalry game up against a rivalry Blue Jays-Yankees game on a Friday night to begin with. The CFL brass could have scheduled this game for any other point in the season, such as the summer, or early November. 

Then again, how were the people at CFL office to know that the Blue Jays would still be in the race? When they set the schedule they probably figured those games with the Yankees wouldn’t be important, given the past history. They gambled, and they lost. 

And CFL football on TSN is probably going to keep on having a tough time in the ratings as long as the Blue Jays last, which could be a while.

I agree with Grantland: this is the worst fall TV lineup ever!!

  

It’s “the Fall”, which in past years usually meant an excited trip by myself to the convenience store to buy the TV Guide Fall Preview edition. 

But I am long since past that. This has got to be the least interesting start to a new network TV season in years. This current lineup of shows is a mess, and it isn’t even worth buying TV Guide to preview this tedium. 

As this Grantland article points out, the four major nets are clearly not even trying anymore. (Actually, there are five nets, but the CW hasn’t been trying, either.) Writer Andy Greenwald is calling this fall’s TV lineup the “sorriest collection of recycled ideas, neutered groupthink, and depressing mediocrity I have ever seen.”

What is there to say about a lineup that includes (a) Supergirl, and (b) The Muppets?! And worse yet, these two retread ideas are really about the only two shows I care about in this whole schedule! That says it all.

Can’t believe the news that Maria Stephanos has left Fox 25 Boston


The only reason I am posting today about a Boston TV anchorwoman is because we get all the Boston local TV stations on our local cable in most of Saskatchewan (although Shaw customers still get their stations from Detroit). 

So in addition to their nonstop obsessive coverage of the Patriots (which outdoes our local coverage of the Roughriders), we get all their local news shows featuring all their highly-paid big-name local news gals — Kim Khazei, Lisa Hughes, you name it. Real major-league anchorwomen.

Anyway, Maria Stephanos has just left Fox 25 News and that is shocking because she practically was the station. I mean, you saw her and her newscasts all the time on that channel. She was there 18 years. The reasons she left are a mystery, but the theory is it might have something to do with the new ownership there. At least, that is the speculation, but nobody’s talking or confirming what the exact reason is. Anyway, here’s the story here.

This is the final weekend for Teletoon Retro. All together: “Aaaargh!”

  

  
Another well-known Canadian cable TV channel is leaving us. Teletoon Retro will be signing off for good during the early hours of Sept. 1. Which means this, unfortunately, is their final weekend on the air.

My own cable carrier will be moving Cartoon Network to the same channel, but I am still not happy. Teletoon Retro was the home of all the classic cartoon shows I grew up watching, like the Looney Tunes, the Flintstones, the Jetsons, Scooby-Doo and so on. 

In fact, one of the prime reasons why I subscribed to my current cable system was the fact they offered Teletoon Retro on the basic tier. So to be honest with you, I’m really quite annoyed.

My buddy Brian Zinchuk was similarly aghast when he heard this news; his Facebook reaction was “Nooooooooooooo!” 

I will say, though, Teletoon Retro was allowed to go downhill the past couple of years. Instead of showing more Warner Bros. and Hanna-Barbera stuff, they’ve been running a lot of Eighties and Nineties junk that I’m not the least bit interested in (ie. the Care Bears). No wonder this channel is being shut down.

This news has me seriously thinking again about whether to “cut the cord.” The end of Teletoon Retro is one less reason to keep cable. Not impressed, but I guess I’m too old to be watching cartoons anyway. 

Raising a glass of Coke in honor of the final Mad Men

Well, that is it and that is all. Mad Men is history after last night’s final episode on AMC, an episode dominated from start to finish by Coke.

Heck, it even had a scene with Joan doing cocaine. Ha ha ha.

And of course, it was a very Coca-Cola ending, which anyone who paid attention to all the Coke references in this and other episodes surely would have seen coming.

I dunno, though. This episode carried the weight of high expectations, and a lot of people seem let down by it. I get the feeling people wanted a far more exciting finish, with a lot more blood and guts. I think people were falling for all these conspiracy theories about how the show would end with Don Draper supposedly falling out of a window to his death or something like that.

Well, he did take the “drop”, all right, as in “drop out.” In a truly weird turn of events, Draper ended up joining this hippie commune where he meditates on the side of a hill — where, so it is implied, he comes up with the idea for one of the most iconic commercials in history:

So this is how Mad Men ends — with the hard-smoking, hard drinking grey-flannel suit era giving way to peace, love and Coca-Cola. The Sixties really are over, man.

Gonna miss this show.

I am wasting my day watching the Mad Men marathon on AMC

  

Tonight is the final Mad Men, and in anticipation of that I am doing something I haven’t done all season long — I’m tuning in to the whole season on AMC right now with its Mad Men marathon.

In fact I haven’t done enough watching of this show during the entire time it has been on, even though I am totally fascinated by the advertising business. In fact, there’s a lot of talk about whether the advertising industry itself is like its portrayal on Mad Men, and some think it is

That, my friends, explains in a nutshell why I never really thought of advertising as a viable career option for myself. Too much liquor.

Anyway, we shall finally see what finally happens to miserable Don Draper later tonight. So far, it seems like everyone’s lives on the show are going to heck, like what happened last week when Betty Draper found out she was dying of cancer from all that smoking.

I expect to see some finality tonight — hopefully. But my big fear is we could see an ending like The Sopranos, which ended so abruptly that it seemed like a rodent had eaten the cable line or something.

Anyway, here are some links to stories about the end of the show here, here and here

During this year’s Upfronts Week there’s been too many reminders of a TV era ending

  

It has been a more eventful Upfronts Week than most, previewing the slate of shows hitting the nets this fall, but the stories of the week really have less to do with the new shows and more to do with the old ones, some of which go back to the 1990s or early 2000s. That’s a long time both in TV years and in dog years, too. 

For instance, The Late Show with David Letterman. Ending next Wednesday. Spending its last days this past week with all-star guests such as Howard Stern, and Bill Clinton.

The final Mad Men. Ending on Sunday.

American Idol. Cancelled. Thank God, finally, this lousy piece of crap is over after next season. Honestly, last season should have been the last, but I’m not complaining. 

CSI. Cancelled. Big finale episode planned for this fall.

And then there is the big news from The Simpsons. The show has been renewed, all right, but Harry Shearer is leaving the voice cast. He’s the voice of such characters as Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, and others. And how long has Shearer been involved with The Simpsons? It must go back to the late Eighties at least. Anyway, he’s left in a contract dispute and the fans are really taking this news hard. They’re treating this as if it is the end of the show. And in a lot of ways, it is.

All this news has me nostalgic about television and thinking about the general state of things in TV land. A lot of familiar shows and familiar faces that have been on the air for years are leaving for good. 

As for their replacements, somehow I don’t see the offerings this fall as being especially original.

Supergirl? The Muppets? Wow, is this ever a blast from the past. A bunch of old shows are going to be replaced by characters that are even older.

Hey, Nova Scotia Film and TV industry, sorry about the tax credit, but you’ll like life out West

This week the government of Nova Scotia brought down its budget and decimated its film and TV tax credit. This is exactly what the industry there had been fearing for days. Earlier, the Trailer Park Boys, whose show benefited from the tax credit and is the biggest hit to come out of Nova Scotia, put up a public service message to beg for the incentive to continue.

No dice. The tax credit took a 75 percent chop in the budget. What intrigues me the most about this is that it wasn’t some right-wing government that did this — it was a Liberal government!

The way I look at it is that whether you like or hate these tax credits is beside the point. You can hate incentives all you want, but if you don’t have them in film and TV, it’s death. Nothing will get made, except maybe cheap public service announcements.

The issue is really a more fundamental one: “do you want your province to be in the film and TV business?” And the answer ought to be yes, because having a film industry creates jobs and means good publicity for your province. All these actors and actresses who shot films in your jurisdiction will be able to go on David Letterman or Jimmy Fallon, or Jimmy Kimmel, and tell everyone watching about the place where they shot their movie or their TV show! It’s great for tourism and for the general reputation of your place, but obvious Nova Scotia cares not one bit about that.

Of course, Saskatchewan also went through the same chop. The big difference between Nova Scotia and what happened in Saskatchewan is that the big excuse here was that there were all these other jobs for people to go to.

But Nova Scotia has no jobs! They desperately need to create work to keep their people there! This simply proves to me the Liberals aren’t serious about creating jobs in Nova Scotia. Doesn’t surprise me. Nova Scotia is a have-not province, and it’s government policies that are keeping it that way.

Anyway, it looks like film people in Nova Scotia are going to have to do what everyone else from there has to do anyway, and that’s move. Fortunately, there’s plenty of film work in the rest of Canada. Right now the BC film industry is booming, due in part to a dropping loonie and a big visual effects industry out there. And, oh yeah, because of their film and TV tax credit.

It’s too bad these film and TV productions are going to leave Nova Scotia, but I’m sure my brother in the film industry in BC won’t mind, he could use the work. That’s my rant on that.

Good news from Hollywood: the original Law and Order could be coming back!

IMG_0792I was rummaging around the Web looking for articles about Amy Pascal leaving Sony Pictures following that hacking fiasco, when I found this story at Deadline Hollywood about the possible return of the original Law and Order series to TV

It would only be a limited run, but would apparently feature former cast members coming back including Sam Waterston and Chris Noth.

This would allow this legendary series to maybe (a) get a decent TV sendoff and (b) break Gunsmoke’s record — neither of which happened when it was yanked off the air by NBC back in 2010 after 20 seasons.

Of course, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit has kept on going and going. But I have no idea why, because the original show was better, in my opinion, and featured less depressing subject matter.

Golden Globes winners have been announced tonight!

Momentous week in TV as Stephen Colbert, Craig Ferguson move on

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This week marked the end of The Colbert Report and also The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Jay Leno was on hand last night to send Ferguson off. And Jon Stewart was among those who helped send off Colbert.

So, so long Stephen Colbert. So long Craig Ferguson. We will miss both of — oh, that’s right, they’ve got new gigs.

Never mind, then.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is on CBS tonight at 8 PM, 7 Central time

IMG_0494.JPGCan you believe the Rudolph specials have been running now for 50 years on TV?

I wrote a whole column this month on Rudolph and the other Christmas TV specials and you can find it here.

P.S.: You adults in the audience will want to know that CBS also is airing the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show starring your favorite supermodels, and that is at 10pm/9 Central.

First show cancelled is Manhattan Love Story on ABC and nooooobody cares!

It took a while for TV to see its first show cancelled for the new 2014-15 season, but now it is confirmed that the show getting that dubious dishonour is Manhattan Love Story on ABC. The story here.

Just a few days ago, Entertainment Weekly had a piece on why there were no shows cancelled yet. It sure did take a while for the trigger to get pulled, but it had to happen sooner or later.

In other news from TV, Tornado Hunters debuts tonight here in frozen Canada on CMT. Lucky that I remembered.

New era of Hockey Night in Canada begins tonight

Yes indeed, the new era with Rogers in charge of the new-look, new-host Hockey Night in Canada begins tonight with NHL games tonight not just on CBC but on multiple channels all over the dial:

Tonight on CBC, it’s Pittsburgh at Toronto, followed by Edmonton at Vancouver.
On City, it is Montreal at Philadelphia.
On SN1, it is Ottawa at Tampa Bay.
On SN360, it is Calgary at St. Louis, followed by Winnipeg at San Jose.
And on FX Canada, of all places, it is Washington at Boston.
For more about the games, check this Sportsnet preview here.

Conspicuous by their absence from this lineup, though, is the main Sportsnet feed covering all the regions of Canada. “What the heck, why don’t they have on hockey?!” you are asking.

Here’s why: they are showing a baseball game. Not just any game, too, but it’s San Francisco Giants at St. Louis Cardinals. That’s right, the playoffs. Which, by the way, is probably a bigger deal to St. Louis folks than the game between the Blues and the Flames tonight.

The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter whether you prefer to watch baseball or hockey. Either way, Rogers wins.

(Oh, and for those looking for “alternative programming”, TSN has the NASCAR race from Charlotte on one feed and a CFL game between Ottawa and BC on the other. This means while TSN will surely be crushed in the ratings across Canada tonight, they stand a chance of winning my household, at least.)

More on the MuchMusic situation — the decline and fall of a once-great channel

People are still mad about the latest layoffs that hit Bell’s media properties including MuchMusic.

Here is a post at Blogto lamenting the situation, talking about how the channel went “from crucial TV to bust”. People say the reason Much is in trouble is because people are turning to YouTube and Vevo for music videos, but as the post at BlogTO correctly points out, MuchMusic was always about more than the videos — it was also about attitude.

And that was why people tuned in — it was not just about the videos for the audience.

But then came the new ownership, and the programming changes that turned Much into just another rerun channel on TV like the rest of them.

Personally, I’m with Master T and the other people who say Bell ought to give the channel back to Moses (Znaimer). But I think that scenario is about as likely to happen as the return of the Montreal Expos.

Lesson in all of this: enjoy your favorite things in life now while you have the chance, because the day will come soon enough when it will have all gone to heck.

MuchMusic, MTV cuts begs the question: why am I paying for cable TV?!

I was reading today about the layoffs at Bell’s TV properties. It turns out MuchMusic and MTV took the brunt of the cuts.  Almost 100 employees are out of jobs, including such names as Leah Miller, Lauren Toyota, and Scott Willats.

The Financial Post dubs it the “death of the music-video era.” Getting the blame, say the expert-type people, is competition from YouTube who are cyphoning away all the young music fans.

I think the blame rests more with the people in charge who have turned MuchMusic and MTV into shells of what they used to be. Those channels used to have original programming and compelling VJs like Erica Ehm, Terry David Mulligan, J.D. Roberts, Monika Deol and folks like that.  I mean, I remember these people, and I was never all that big a MuchMusic viewer. But I can’t even tell you what’s on there now, because Much has turned into just another channel on the dial.

Look at tonight’s prime time lineup for Much as a prime example — it’s one rerun after another, shows like the Simpsons, Conan, Community, and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, whose reruns we have all seen a million times on the other channels and online. That is what is driving away all the young people to YouTube — the unoriginal product! This channel is boring! Moreover, this isn’t even music! 

Much and MTV aren’t the only ones guilty of this — most of these other so-called “music” channels and other “specialty” channels in Canada have been turned over to “reality” shows, reruns and other junk. This is happening on both sides of the border, including in the USA with channels such as A&E. They used to run good biographies, and true-life documentaries from the likes of Bill Kurtis back in the day, but I now find that channel unwatchable with their Duck Dynasty show and other crap.

That begs the question for me — why do I bother with cable TV? It sure seems like so many of these channels are mailing it in, yet I keep on mailing in the money to the cable provider every month! Let me say, things have got to start changing for the better.

Laying people off and throwing on the usual reruns on these channels ain’t gonna keep this cable customer happy, that is for sure.

Now the TV upfront report for 2014 — final season coming for Two and a Half Men, and other news

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Welcome to the roundup of news of this week’s network TV upfronts, with the networks announcing their prime time shows for the coming season.

I suppose it was CBS, the first-place network, that made most of the news, not so much because of their upfronts presentation as much as because of the shows that are ending (The Crazy Ones, Bad Teacher, Intelligence, etc.). It was announced that Two and a Half Men will have its final season, and I know you have the same question I have — why is this piece of junk still on? They should have shut it down when Charlie Sheen left. Anyway, 12 seasons for any sitcom is an incredibly long time. It was a great run, but this show really should have quit while it was ahead long ago.

Another show that needed to quit while it was ahead: How I Met your Mother, whose now-infamous finale prompted a flood of negativity on Twitter when they found out the mother, ahem, died. Anyway, a spinoff of that show had been planned called How I Met Your Dad, but it is not going ahead. CBS passed on it this week. No doubt, the negative reaction to Mom’s finale, and for that matter its last couple of seasons or so, hurt a lot. Anyway, this was probably for the better anyway. This idea reminded me too much of That 80s Show and other lame spinoff ideas that never should have been tried.

I guess the other big story in TV this week is the decline of the music talent-show genre — with American Idol in free fall and The X Factor already gone from US TV. It appears the executives have finally figured out there is too much of this talent show crap on TV. Now, when they also finally realize we’ve got too much reality show crap, too, we’ll all be getting somewhere.

Anyway, that is really all I have to say for now on this topic. For the full TV pilot scorecard check out Variety here. For all of what happened, also look at the Hollywood Reporter and The Wrap.

Also, this was the final week for the retiring Barbara Walters at ABC so here is something on that.

RIP Hollywood voiceover artist Hal Douglas, 89

Found out this week that Hal Douglas, who lent his voice to countless Hollywood trailers, has died this week at age 89. You voice-over fans may remember him not just for his endless movie trailer work, but also for being the voice of the promos you heard on A&E network and also the WB.

It turns out there is a demo reel up on YouTube of some of his voice work and I think it serves as a fitting tribute. You may not recognize the face, but the voice sure sounds familiar. RIP Hal Douglas.

‘WE ARE MEN’ GETS THE AXE

TV SHOW DEATH WATCH IS ON: ALREADY “LUCKY 7” IS FIRST CANCELLATION BY ABC

tv-network-logosWe are now just a couple of weeks into the new TV season and already the losing shows are dropping like flies.

Cancelled today by ABC is a show called Lucky 7, and after just two episodes, too. When you’re pulled that quick, it takes a lot of doing.

Also, I notice that series was filmed in Toronto, so some Toronto people are now out of work. Anyway, it is the first official axing of the TV season.

This item at Ain’t It Cool News runs down how the other shows are doing. It looks like a lot of shows are in trouble, including Betrayal,  Malin Akerman’s new Trophy Wife, Seth MacFarlane’s new effort Dads, and a few others. One of the early winners appears to be Agents of SHIELD, although I notice some Marvel fans are complaining about it.

Well, you can’t please everyone. Anyway, catch your favorite new shows while you can — they may not be on for very much longer.

ON THE ‘BREAKING BAD’ FINALE

2013 TV UPFRONTS NEWS – SETH MEYERS REPLACES FALLON, JIMMY KIMMEL TRASHES HIS OWN NETWORK AGAIN

tv-network-logos

This is UPFRONTS week down in the USA, with the various TV networks rolling out their show pickups for the coming season. Variety has the complete rundown of what is happening.

The news that interests me the most this week is NBC”s announcement that Seth Meyers of SNL fame will be replacing Jimmy Fallon when Fallon heads earlier to take over from Jay Leno. Meanwhile, I notice his late-night rival Jimmy Kimmel did his usual routine, ridiculing ABC’s programming again.

“The reason we’re here is because you are about to invest billions of dollars in a network that rolled a 400-lb. comedian off a diving board last week,” Kimmel said, referring to Splash. He also called The Bachelor “a show based on the theory that one in 25 hairstylists is your soulmate.”

Here’s the full transcript of Kimmel’s hilarious presentation — though looking at it closer he seems to go after EVERYONE, and in particular NBC. “NBC is on a roll – oh wait, not a roll. What do you call it? A spiral.” Ha ha.

That was on May 14 . NBC’s upfront was Monday, and here’s what happened with CBS, and FOX. The CW announces their lineup tomorrow.

To be honest with you, I could care less about any of these proposed efforts. It seems increasingly obvious to me that the best shows on TV are the ones on cable. At least, that’s where the shows I am most interested in are being shown.

The major networks still have too many junk reality/talent shows, though I notice the fans are increasingly fed up with them. On FOX, their ex-biggest show American Idol is in chaos, with Randy Jackson now officially gone and the whole rest of the judges also rumored to be on their way out with him. Idol stopped being good the moment Simon Cowell left. They should just cancel that show already.

Speaking of which: here’s a list of all the shows that got the axe.

FIRST SHOW CANCELLED OF 2012-13 TV SEASON IS MADE IN JERSEY

I never did get around to doing my annual predictions for what show I thought would be the first one cancelled. I figured I’d have at least another week, or at least, one more day to make a prediction before a show got yanked. But CBS proved especially too trigger-happy this season.

I’m not surprised, though, that the first show cancelled of this TV season is Made in Jersey. Surely though, I thought it would last longer than this: CBS pulled the plug earlier today  after just two episodes!! 

Not two years, not two months — two shows!! That’s it! Talk about a swift dismissal.

It never looked exciting to me. My reaction was : just what the world needs! Another lawyer show! America has too many lawyers and too many lawyer shows. And apparently America agrees with me, because they didn’t watch.

People were just not interested in seeing any positive portrayals of New Jersey on TV. Instead, they just want Snooki, JWoww and The Situation — although their monumentally state-embarrassing Jersey Shore show will be over soon, too.

Still, it takes a lot of doing to pull a new show after two episodes. When a show gets the hook this fast, it means it REALLY bombed in the ratings. For the cast and crew involved, it’s really shocking to be cancelled so swiftly, but that is life in TV land.

AND NOW, MY THOUGHTS ON THE WHOLE ANN CURRY SITUATION AT THE TODAY SHOW

As someone who has some first-hand knowledge of the television business, I thought I would talk about the usual nonsense that is going on with that industry, such as this latest Ann Curry nonsense at NBC.

As you know, not too long ago Curry replaced Meredith Vieira as co-host of the Today Show. Since then the ratings for the show have tanked as ABC’s Good Morning America has shot right past them in the ratings. Who is getting the blame? Why, who else — the newbie. So rumors are flying and reputable establishments are reporting that Ann Curry is going to be shipped right out of there, probably to be replaced by either Hoda Kotb or Savannah Guthrie. Besides, they just re-signed Matt Lauer so they can’t airlift him.

This is yet another instance of how brutal the TV news business is and how trigger-happy they are at the top. This sort of reminds me of what went on with that whole Jay Leno-Conan O’Brien business not long ago, when Conan got the shaft. But this is TV news, and this sort of thing seems to happen all the time.

It seems like it is commonplace in the TV business. Times are tough, but instead of blaming the people who ran the economy into the ground to being with, or blaming Steve Jobs for inventing the technology TV has to compete with these days, they are instead blaming the talent. So the talent always ends up under fire, and it seems like it’s always the female co-anchor that takes the fall. The guys look like they get off scott-free.

It’s not just the Today Show. A few weeks back the FOX station in LA made big changes at their morning show Good Day LA and ashcanned Dorothy Lucey, the co-host. Meanwhile, the NBC station in New York gave the boot to its coanchor Sue Simmons.

Seriously, this is getting ridiculous — the amount of firings going on of top TV talent.

(Oh, and there is some other news from the world of TV sports, but I will get to that later this weekend.)

MAD THAT ‘MAD MEN’ SEASON 5 IS ENDING

Well I am ticked off that the latest Mad Men season is wrapping up tonight — mad, because I missed all the highlights of most of this season because I don’t have an AMC subscription and am too cheap to pay to download any episodes.

Instead, I am watching the usual junk-food network TV. I guess I’m getting what I’m paying for. Nothing.

In honor of the conclusion of Season 5 I thought I would, as promised, go into the vault and run some good commercials from the Mad Men Era of television — back when both television, and commercials, were good.

First, here’s a classic Braniff ad that featured Salvador Dali and Whitey Ford that really captured, in my view, the cutting-edge kind of feel of the era.

I suppose Braniff was trying to establish itself as the coolest airline ever — for all the good it did them, because the airline eventually went belly-up.

Next, here’s a Hertz commercial. This was back in the days when Hertz and Avis were duking it out and Avis was telling everyone “We Try Harder.” Obviously, they didn’t try hard enough.

Later this commercial got spoofed in the movie Good Neighbor Sam in a hilarious sequence in which they show them shooting the ad for TV and they end up botching it up several times.

Last but not least, we end with a car ad, and for who else? Of course: Volkswagen. Here is their famous “Snow Plow” ad.

That is all for now.