In less than two months, Fox’s fall has turned downright cataclysmic, as four of its five new series have already tanked. As I wrote at Adweek,
So the network is turning to an unlikely source to salvage its terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad fall season: a bunch of kid chefs.
That would be tonight’s premiere of MasterChef Junior, which has suddenly become Fox’s Hail Mary play for sweeps. I also spoke with one of the show’s judges, Joe Bastianich, who told me why the show is up for the challenge.
On Friday, Oct. 24, ABC finally put Manhattan Love Story out of its misery, making it fall’s first canceled new series. It’s the longest we’ve gone into the fall season without a cancellation since 2003, when Fox waited until Oct. 28 to pull the plug on Luis, after five episodes.
At Adweek, I explain why the networks were so patient this fall:
“The growing truth is that picking winners today isn’t as simple as looking at the overnight ratings,” CBS Entertainment chairman Nina Tassler said this summer. And unlike last year, when the networks paid that idea lip service but still quickly moved to cancel several low-rated shows, they’ve actually been practicing what they preach.
Tying in to that Adweek story, I also compiled the first shows to be canceled each fall since 2000 — along with what day they were canceled, and how many episodes had aired — which I was surprised to find that no one else had done previously. (Especially for the earlier shows, that information was tougher to dig up than I had anticipated.) Relive the members of TV’s least prestigious club, from Tucker to Do Not Disturb to (sniff) Lone Star to Lucky 7.
I’m very excited to begin contributing to Adweek, as they look to expand their TV coverage online. My first story for them is something that I’ve wanted to write for more than a year: a look at the worst TV time slots on television, the ones that have been radioactive for years on end, and manage to bring about the end of almost every show that is aired there.
Greg Berlanti and I have been Twitter friends since back in 2012, when I fell for his USA summer miniseries Political Animals. But we’d never actually met until we sat down together at TCA summer tour to do this Daily Beast profile.
One of TV’s most prolific producers — he’s co-showrunner on Arrow and The Flash, a producer on The Mysteries of Laura, has three series (and counting) in development for next season, and is also producing the bigscreen Peter Pan reboot Pan — Berlanti talked about what’s in store for The Flash, his obsession with comics, how he’s succeeded with TV comic adaptations where Marvel has failed and the disadvantage to having so many projects on his plate:
The only slight disadvantage to doing more and more things is you really have to be where the problems are. So you don’t get to be as much where things are going well. And so, if there’s two things that I’m working on that are going well, I’m not in that story room or on that set. I’m wherever we’re having some challenges. Then, by the time we take care of those, I go back to the other ones. So the disadvantage of having multiple things is on a day where everything is going badly on all things. You want to shoot yourself! The advantage is that’s usually not the case. Usually one or two things are going all right, and it buoys your spirits a little bit.
His take on The Flash is broadcast’s best pilot this fall. While almost all new shows take much of the first season to find their way, Flash arrives impressively fully-formed and self-assured. And, oh yeah, it’s a helluva lot of fun.
What if How I Met Your Mother had actually been about, you know, how Ted met the Mother? The result would have been something like A to Z, the new NBC romantic comedy starring, yes, Cristin Milioti, who played the Mother in that show’s final season last year. At The Daily Beast, I spoke to the charming actress — who, it turns out, went to the same high school as I did (a full decade either before or after me; I’ll never tell) — about the controversial HIMYM finale, dropping out of college, what she learned from Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese on The Wolf of Wall Street and (spoiler alert) how she discovered the Mother’s fate:
Milioti first discovered Tracy’s fate late last year, at the show’s Christmas party. “I was sitting with Craig and we were like three cocktails in,” she says. “He’s very happy and giddy when he gets a little tipsy, and he said, ‘Do you want to know how the series ends?’ I was also tipsy and I was like, ‘What, do I die?’—as a joke. Then he got real serious and was like, ‘Wait, do you know?’ He told me how it happens, and I sat there bawling. I just didn’t see it coming.”
I did this interview with her at TCA summer tour; it was nice to be able to do this one in person and swap South Jersey memories.
I was very excited to make my debut on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry, which is executive produced by one of my best friends, Eric Salzman. I joined Clarence Page and Alicia Quarles to talk with Melissa about fall TV, and the debuts of How to Get Away With Murder, Black-ish and the phenomenal Transparent.
We then spoke about Scandal’s season premiere, and its powerful message about sexual assault.
It was a great appearance and I look forward to returning soon!
Back in May, I wrote about how Marvel’s Agents of SHIELDhad finally found its way. As the show prepares to kick off Season 2, I spoke with its two showrunners, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen for this Daily Beast interview about balancing secrecy and spoilers, what they learned from Season 1’s rocky start and which Marvel Universe characters will (and won’t) be making appearances this season. After having her hands tied for much of last season, being forced to keep quiet about, and then react to, the big reveal from Captain America: The Winter Solider, Tancharoen talks about the freedom of Season 2:
Well, we have a very clear big bad. We have Hydra. It’s very nice and liberating to say “Hydra” and have it out in the open! Last season was definitely challenging, because we were not allowed to mention them or allude to a mole of any kind. So now, coming into Season 2, we exist in a new paradigm. S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra are viewed as one and the same. So we’re putting our characters through a different sort of journey, where they still want to be out there and helping the world and the people through this world, but they have to do it from the shadows.
They also discuss the possible return of Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, Joss Whedon’s level in involvement in the show and — something of particular interest to me — if they will can finally take the periods out of SHIELD (which is something that I’ve already done on this site).
After a bit of a hiatus, I returned to Parade to put together a Fall TV Preview, which was one of my first stories for them last year. My take on this shows are how they managed to be both fresh and familiar — and have a lot in common with some of your favorite shows.
When I filed, I didn’t know that this would be my very last Parade story. But sadly, the magazine was sold last week and the entire editorial staff, including all my favorite editors, was laid off as editorial operations move from New York to Nashville
During the next month, 20 new shows will debut, and half of them will be lucky to make it to a second season. As I wrote at Quartz, CBS is trying its best to beat the odds:
Its new shows are almost carbon copies of a beloved long-running series in time slots immediately before them (known as a show’s lead-in) or after them (its lead-out), in an effort to capture as much of the returning show’s audience as possible.
At TCA summer press tour, I spoke with CBS Entertainment Chairman Nina Tassler about her strategy that paired Criminal Minds with Stalker, Madam Secretary with The Good Wife and (duh!) NCIS with NCIS: New Orleans:
“It may not be where people end up consistently watching a show, but when you’re in this ‘discovery’ phase—when audiences are trying and sampling—that’s when I think lead-in matters more than anything,” Tassler told Quartz.