Welcome to your latest summery edition of THUD, Television Happenings Under Development, CHUD.com’s very own column about the wild and wacky world of television.
It’s almost August, which means that we’re in the tail end of the summer programming season. It’s weird to realize that we’ve come so far in regards to summer television: when I was a kid there was jack shit on TV during the warm months. It was repeats, repeats, repeats. Now the networks have figured out that people like to sit on their fat asses all year round, and there’s more new programming than ever to keep you away from the park and the beach.
And as we get into August, more and more info about the new season will begin to leak. There are some choice Lost tidbits this column, and surely there’s more info on that show to come.
Also be sure to check out our latest THUD contest, for the show Weird US, which I’m really excited about. The bizarre and the Fortean have always been huge interests for me, and this show looks to be just the sort of examination of the odd and unknown that I love. Click here to see the contest.
And now on to the latest episode of THUD!
SAWYER TO GET RAPED?
The new season of Lost starts September 21st, and ABC is starting to tease us. The best news we’ve gotten so far is a promise that what lies inside the hatch – which was opened in the season finale, only to reveal a fucking ladder – will be discovered very early in the season. One of the biggest complaints about season one of Lost is that the show was too decompressed in its storytelling, moving the main plot points ahead at such a leisurely pace as to be infuriating to regular viewers. I think that’s a pretty legitimate gripe, which is saying a lot as I defended the hell out of the show for the first three quarters of the season. By the end of the season, though, it became clear that stuff was getting stretched out because there was no clear plan as to where to go next. Plenty of padding meant that the writers and creators could keep withholding until they came up with something new.
If the contents of the hatch are in fact revealed, and if they aren’t just yet another mystery (and don’t get me wrong – the hatch should open up new avenues of thought and new mysteries, but it should also present some answers to us), season two could be redeeming many of the problems of the first year. Of course there’s some early evidence that maybe we shouldn’t expect too much out of year two either – new characters are being added to the show, and that could very well mean new flashbacks.
We’ll almost certainly be getting flashbacks for the character played by Michelle Rodriguez, but will we be getting flashbacks for the character played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje – aka Oz’s Adibisi! He’ll be “Emeka, a mysterious man whose presence on the island – and intentions – will be revealed in one of the early episodes in the upcoming second season.” I tell you, if they let him keep that little mystically attached hat he wore in Oz, I will forgive Lost all possible transgressions.
VOULEZ VOUZ SOLVE CRIMES AVEC MOI, C’EST SOIR?
I’ll admit that I didn’t do well in French when a high school student. I can swear up a small storm in, though, which was of no use to me on exams it turns out. Merde!
Anyway, the Law & Order meme, which we thought stymied when Trial By Jury (which was so damn good!) was the first show from the franchise cancelled, has leapt over the ocean and infected France. Law & Order: Criminal Intent (aka Devin’s least favorite) will be made into a French show – using the same scripts that aired in America! The stories and settings will of course be modified for Francais settings and the frog legal system, but otherwise these will be almost direct ports of the wacky adventures of Goofy Goren and friends.
Dick Wolf will be overseeing the project. The show will air on French TV in 2006, and I imagine a lot of people will get episodes via torrent until they realize it isn’t that funny to watch, just to think about.
THE SIMPSONS: TRAPPED IN A RECURSIVE LOOP OF CRAP
Fox has announced some, if not all, of the guest voices for the 39th season of The Simpsons, the next disaster to occur on September 11th. The show, which has been run so far into the ground it’s sticking out of fucking Beijing, will continue to tell the same stories again and again, and will continue to shoehorn celebrities into episodes. Here’s the press release from Fox with the relevant names – please note the plot of the first episode, the one with Alec Baldwin. Can you believe they are doing ANOTHER “Marge leaves Homer and finds a great guy but learns how much she loves her husband” episode? At this point it seems like they have fourteen or fifteen episode templates and they just stick shitty jokes into them. Truly, this show has turned into the greatest tragedy on television not featuring Lisa Kudrow.
Alec Baldwin, Kelsey Grammer, William H. Macy, Ricky Gervais, Terry Bradshaw, Lily Tomlin, Frances McDormand, former basketball great Dennis Rodman and Yankee pitcher Randy Johnson are among the upcoming guest voices on THE SIMPSONS airing Sundays (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX.
Homer gets some stiff competition from guest star Baldwin in the season premiere episode "Bonfire of the Manatees," Sunday, Sept. 11 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT). Marge, outraged after discovering Homer allowed Fat Tony (Mantegna, reprising his role as Springfield’s infamous mob boss) to shoot an a "gentlemen’s" film in their living room in compensation for his football gambling debt, flees, leaving Homer with the kids. While on her journey of self-discovery, Marge befriends Caleb Thorn (guest-voice Baldwin), an attractive marine biologist on a quest to save not only the endangered manatee, but Marge from a husband who doesn’t seem to appreciate her.
Former athletes Terry Bradshaw and Dennis Rodman, playing themselves, stir up tricks and treats in the annual "ghoultide" Halloween trilogy, "The Simpsons’ Tree House of Horror XVI," Sunday, Nov. 6.
Other upcoming guest voices include Ricky Gervais, Lily Tomlin, William H. Macy, Michael York, boxer Joe Frazier, Kelsey Grammer returning as Sideshow Bob and – to the delight of Patty and Selma – Richard Dean Anderson. Later in the season, McDormand, Rob Reiner and famed Yankee pitcher Randy Johnson turn up to throw a curve ball on THE SIMPSONS.
TV ON THE RADIO
Fox Broadcasting is once again ripping off CHUD.com, this time by getting into podcasting. The network will offer synopses of episodes you may have missed, allowing you to catch up with your favorite programs if you’re far too fucking cheap to shell out a hundred bucks for a goddamned TiVo.
I have listened to one of their “Foxcasts,” and it clocks in at about 5 minutes, including a commercial for their new series Prison Break. The guy who reads the synopsis seems to have a speech impediment or something, but I was listening to the Arrested Development Foxcast, so maybe that’s the joke. Anyway, they don’t play clips of the show, so if you ever wondered how a program as pants-shittingly funny as Arrested Development could be neutered of all humor, listen to this dry retelling of the Bluth family hijinks.
Check out the Foxcasts at www.fox.com.
THE GORE CHANNEL
Al Gore’s new TV network, Current, debuts tomorrow. Hey, maybe he’ll claim he invented cable TV!
I would like to take a second out of this piece to scream invectives at those of you who believe and continue to claim that Al Gore ever said that he invented the Internet. Frankly, he didn’t, and you’re probably stunningly stupid if you think he said so. While appearing on Larry King Live on March 9, 1999, he said: “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country’s economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.”
It’s obvious when you read that in context he never claimed to have invented the Internet, but rather to have helped – in his role as a legislator who could spend money and whatnot – develop the infrastructure that made what we now know as the Internet possible. He’s not claiming he was crunching code at DARPAnet or some such shit, you wrong wing pod people.
Speaking of pods, that’s how content on the Current network will be delivered, perfect for our battered and bruised attention spans. The AP ‘splains: “Most of its programming will be in "pods," roughly two to seven minutes long, covering topics like jobs, technology, spirituality and current events. An Internet-like on-screen progress bar will show the pod’s length.
Its short films include a profile of a hang glider and a piece on working in a fish market. One contributor talked about what it was like to have his phone number on a hacked Internet list of Paris Hilton’s cell phone contacts, saying that dealing with curiosity seekers was like ‘hosting your own radio call-in show.’
Every half-hour, Current promises a news update using data from Google on news stories most frequently searched for on the Web.”
Current also hopes to have viewers become content providers, by using the easily available technology around them to create their own stories about their own worlds. It sounds neat in concept, but I wonder how much of that stuff I could actually stand to watch. And I wonder why I need a countdown clock to tell me when the latest piece is going to end.
We’re still a ways away from getting TV and the Internet fully integrated, but it looks like this is a step in that direction. Whether that’s a good direction is up to you.
THE NIGHTMARE SCENARIO
Next season sees a ton of sci-fi/fantasy stuff hitting TV, mostly thanks to Lost, I assume. There are three alien invasion series: Surface, Invasion (not based on the DC Comics miniseries, sadly) and Threshold; a show I swear to you is called The Ghost Whisperer and just wholesale rips off NBC’s Medium; and of course The Night Stalker, which I will complain about later in the column. But easily the most bizarre and fantastical show of the new season is Commander in Chief, ABC’s show that examines what would happen if a nation’s worst fears were realized and a woman became president.
Geena Davis will be playing the first woman president, who totally gets in through a loophole, and new castmembers have been added to the program. Peter Coyote will be playing the Vice Presidential nominee, while Natasha Henstridge will be a recurring character, probably the Secretary of Exfoliating or something.
SPEAKING OF THE WHITE HOUSE
Aint It Cool News is doing some rumor based reporting, taking info off the message boards at Television Without Pity as if such things have meaning. But hey, I like what this rumor is, so I am going to also irresponsibly run it. By the way, in the years I have been doing this CHUD.com business, I have seen more than one news story start because people assume everything they read is true, even if “Darth Dumbledore” is posting it on the CHUD boards.
Anyway, the rumor is that Aaron Sorkin will be returning to The West Wing for the show’s final episodes. I didn’t know that this season was really the programs’ last, and I was under the impression that the show had seen some upswing in quality and in viewership at the end of last year. In fact, I was really under the impression that John Wells and co were trying to create a way to bring the show into a new era, with a new president, and not just end it when Jed Bartlett leaves office.
Still, I don’t mind the show ending, as I don’t think it’s ever returned to the glory of the first few seasons – although if Sorkin is returning, and if he is bringing Tommy “I Have the Best Name in Showbiz” Schlamme and Rob Lowe with him, as has been further rumored, we could have a good thing on our hands.
KOLCHAK STALKS NEW NIGHT STALKER
The updated version of Night Stalker, the 70s TV show that inspired The X-Files, will feature a cameo from the original star, Darren McGaven, new producer Frank Spotnitz told SciFi Wire. Of course McGavin is slightly older than Methuselah, so the cameo had top be all new media: a shot of McGavin from the original show was digitally inserted into the new Night Stalker pilot.
"I was intent on doing it," Spotnitz. "It was not cheap to do, but it was very important to me to do that because I loved him. And I got to meet him doing The X-Files, because I cast him in that. And I loved the show so much, I just felt like you needed that respect to him in the pilot. So we went and we looked at every shot at him in the original Night Stalker movie. And we looked for shots that were lit and could be framed properly to insert into the newsroom, and got the negative out of a vault and digitized it and put it in there."
Of course Spotnitz can never explain why you would replace Darren McGavin in a TV show with Stuart “Thank Christ he wasn’t Aragorn” Townsend in the first place. I mean, compare the two – look at McGavin, grizzled, and Townsend, looking like a pretty boy. Who do you believe more as a reporter investigating supernatural occurrences? Fuck this show (man, I’m salty today).
I am psyched for season two of Desperate Housewives. The show did what Lost couldn’t – it wrapped up the first season satisfyingly, so that you don’t have to come back to have your questions answered. But it also introduced new and tantalizing elements, like a new – gasp!, black! – family and a murder to make you want to tune in for the new episodes. And a lot of people do want to tune in. So many that the Emmys are thinking of moving to Tuesday from Sunday this year.
But this is about the second season of the show, and Dark Horizons has some great rumors about what we may be expecting. Some of this stuff sounds like BS, but some of it I buy:
* Someone will be murdered during the season premiere. It will NOT be Mike Delfino (James Denton). The reigning theory is that this might mean a new narrator instead of Mary Alice Young (Brenda Strong).
* Gabrielle’s boy toy John Rowland (Jesse Metcalfe) might be marked for death at some point during the season.
* The son of Edie Britt (Nicollette Sheridan) that was briefly mentioned in the pilot episode will make an appearance. He will be six years old.
* Maisy Gibbons (Sharon Lawrence) will be getting paroled after doing time for her prostitution racket
I had heard about a new narrator elsewhere (and it would make sense), but I was really hoping it was going to be Rex, played by Steven (Thirteen Days) Culp, who got knocked off in the season 1 finale. I definitely hope John dies – that kid’s story is old already, and it can add some spice to Gabrielle’s uncertain pregnancy storyline. I can’t wait for this show to be back!
SURVIVOR: INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION
Ron Howard is looking to get in on the reality TV thing with a version of Space Camp that will see two teams of contestants living for 30 days in environments simulating outer space. The show, called X Quest, is being co-produced with the guy who created Halo, who will be bringing his nerditry to create the illusion of space.
The contestants won’t be in space, but except for gravity (they can’t afford to do 0 G, mostly because of how God set up the universe. That jerk), everything will be completely realistic. The TVnauts will never experience the outside world, and the show won’t break the fourth wall to let us in on the behind the scenes aspects.
The TVnauts will be put through all the sorts of problems astronauts do, from extreme temperatures to extreme claustrophobia to being eliminated from the space craft weekly. They will have tasks to perform, some of which will bring them to visit comets and planets. Honestly, this whole thing sounds so stupid that I’m already programming my TiVo to make sure I don’t miss a minute.
MAKING YOU OUT OF A MONKEY
Thank you, History Channel, for airing a program called Ape to Man. I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s a discussion of evolution, one of the main battlegrounds in our current Culture Wars. While less destructive than the horrific Cola Wars, the Culture Wars have been notable in that the forces of religious conservatism have done stuff like fly planes into buildings and attack scientific knowledge on the level of local school boards. Now, I honestly couldn’t care what people in Kansas learn in school – I haven’t yet been convinced such a place exists outside of L Frank Baum’s fevered imagination – but the fact is that it’s important that people with actual knowledge on subjects like science should be deciding what gets taught in schools.
Maybe some of the people whose main attacks on evolution come from a tragic misunderstanding of what the term "theory" means in this context will watch this show and learn a thing or two. In the meantime, they (and you, my right thinking reader) can test their knowledge of the dreaded theory of evolution and its particulars at a very diverting quiz – click here to check it out.
And be sure to check out Ape to Man on the History Channel on August 7th.
THAT CONCLUDES OUR BROADCAST DAY
Thanks for reading the latest transmission from CHUD.com’s Television Happenings Under Development, the only TV column that will attempt to seduce you the night your boyfriend dumps you.
Be sure to check back at some unspecified time in the future when I get off my ass and spend the few hours it takes to write one of these up. If anything I said in this column upset you, too fucking bad. Or, email me at email@example.com and tell me what you think. I am always looking for good missives for my equally irregular Shout at the Devil column, and that means emails that are something more than “You suck” or “You rool.”