Look, I was surprised as anyone when UnREAL came on the scene last year, premiering on Lifetime of all places, and somehow made a show about the behind the scenes inner workings of a Bachelor-esque reality show compelling and addictive television. The dialogue was sharp and shockingly funny at times, the performances were raw and human and fully committed to the more ridiculous aspects of the material (huge congrats to Constance Zimmer for her much-deserved Emmy nomination) and there is no question that this show exceeded everything from its concept to its network home by countless miles. It was a surprise that pretty much nobody saw coming and I joined in with the chorus of voices singing its praises and encouraging others to check in with this unexpected gem.
But I never lost sight of what this show was. I feel like maybe some others did.
The return of the Untempered Television podcast in all its glory. We’re excited to set aside some time to talk some TV this summer. We’ll see where it goes beyond that. If you like what you hear, please rate and review the show on iTunes, please pass the link along and spread the word. Here’s this week’s rundown:
3:00-10:30 Silicon Valley
19:15-61:15 Game of Thrones
61:15-70:15 Dead of Summer
70:15-85:00 Dream Emmy Ballots
NOTE: At present time, it doesn’t look like the podcast is embedding correctly, so if it appears as a link below for you rather than the player itself, just click the link and it will bring you to a new tab where you can stream/download the podcast.
This year’s Emmy nominations are set to be announced on July 14th and it will surely be a day of snubs, oversights and standard internet outrage, but until then….why not live in a dreamland? So if I had ultimately power over the nominees, these are the folks I would choose to recognize. Although, admittedly, even in a dreamland some really difficult decisions must be made.
I haven’t watched every single thing that’s aired this year but I’m fairly confident I’ve watched most everything I feel would have an impact on my decisions here, save for Horace and Pete which I desperately need to make time for soon. I also made my choices based on what categories the shows/actor submitted themselves in and didn’t consider them if they did not submit.
I contemplated weighing in on the limited/mini-series categories because I certainly have things to say about some of the possible nominees, but I felt that, even though I’m pretty confident that The People Vs. O.J. Simpson deserves to win everything (with some nomination love spread to Fargo and American Crime), there are still far too many eligible things in that category that I haven’t seen for me to give a truly informed opinion. So I’ll just stick with the big ones as usual. Whether you agree or disagree with my picks, I want to hear from you so make sure to comment and share!
While at the ATX Television Festival last week, I got the chance to screen a few upcoming pilots, one of which premieres very soon and two more that will make their debut this fall. I don’t know how fair it is to write a full-on review based solely on the pilots, but I still thought it was worthwhile to share my first impressions. As someone who loves the festival, I appreciate networks and creators putting their work out there early for TV diehards to check out, so while not everything I have to say is positive, I felt I should at least express gratefulness for that. Have I mentioned how much I love ATX? Okay, without further adieu, some thoughts on these upcoming pilots:
Two years ago, the job that I thought was my dream job completely fell apart and I was hurled into freak-out mode, facing a barrage of daunting questions about my future. It was a reality I wasn’t quite ready to face, but there it was, every day, haunting me.
I know that sounds dramatic but I can tell you that the way in which this particular misfortune came about was painful, shocking, faith-shaking stuff.
In the midst of this, I was aware that ATX Television Festival was about to head into its third year with Roswell and Everwood reunions among the festivities. Stuck in Virginia, there was definitely a part of me that would see every announcement about that year’s festival pop up online and wish I had the power to teleport there, away from questions that I didn’t have answers to and problems I didn’t have the will to face some days.
That’s when I heard from Tina.
Tina is a long-time friend who has the reputation among my group of friend as being the only person as obsessed with TV as I am. She actually started as a friend of a friend and didn’t even live in the same state as I did growing up (Florida, if you care), but every year, she’d come down for a couple weeks around New Year’s and we’d all hang out and our friend, Jerry, would torture us by throwing out names for Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon because he knew that our compulsion to answer was too great to resist and it amused him to no end.
Tina texted me around the time of this life meltdown telling me she had an extra badge for the festival, already had a place to stay and if I could find a way down there, it’s mine to enjoy. She even ended up letting me use some of her points to take care of some of the flight costs. I know that thinking back to that time when my life felt like it was unraveling, I’ll forever be grateful for her generosity and for the fact that when I went to my wife and said, “Hey….I know our life’s blowing up right now but do you mind if I run off to Austin to hang out with Tina and attend a TV festival?” she enthusiastically encouraged me to take our friend up on her offer.
I would say, by and large, these days television is better than the movies. Great movies still exist and are being made every year, but the momentum is on the side of TV. I’ve always been partial to the long-form storytelling television provides to begin with, but with every new niche channel or streaming outlet, there’s more and more room allowed to be different and ambitious and it’s really a lot of fun on just about every different level depending on what product of Peak TV you happen to be indulging in at the moment.
One thing that both TV and film have in common is superheroes. We’re living in a superhero commercial boom and if the Marvel/DC movie release schedules are any indication, that ain’t gonna change anytime in the next decade. But while TV in general is outperforming movies creatively, I would say the work making it to the big screen in regards to the superhero genre most certainly outdoes what’s being produced for the small screen.
Now, to be fair, you’ve got exceptions. Batman V. Superman exists. Not to mention the second season of Arrow and the first season of The Flash were really freakin fantastic. But this year, these four offerings (I’m ignoring some–I bailed on Supergirl early, for example) have been middling to say the least. Were they able to turn things around in the end? Well…..
It’s been a really busy couple of weeks in TV between upfronts and finale season and it would take a long time to write extensive pieces about every big TV moment of the past month, but I did want to weigh in on how a few (very different) shows chose to wrap up their respective seasons. So here it goes….
Every day this week, the internet has been filled with ripples of buzz for shows that won’t premiere for at least four more months–that’s the fun of network upfronts!
Look, with TV having changed so drastically in the past few years, a lot of people have all but written of network TV. Some days, I feel like one of them. But in an age of streaming and DVR, TV has lost that special experience of joint enjoyment that is most readily facilitated through network television. So, in a sense, I’m still rooting for them because I’m a fan of that type of shared experience.
22 episode seasons seem crazy long in this new TV frontier but there is something still appealing about them. Sure, when they’re bad, 22 episodes can seem awfully arduous, but all those extra hours give shows the chance to craft actual episodes. To take risks here and there. I’m not the first person to make this observation, I’ll admit, but I agree with the chorus of other critics who still see the value of network television, even in a vastly transformed landscape.
I’m going to try my best to keep this review in check and make it about the finale without going off on tangents about the series in its entirety (Warning: I will fail). There have been plenty of pieces written about the legacy of the show, its high and lows points and so on and so forth, so I’ll spare you another retread .However, if you haven’t read my work before, I should at least say this: I’m a huge fan of The Good Wife. For its first five seasons, it was easily one of the top five shows on television in my book, with seasons two and five in particular being two of my favorites seasons of anything ever.
Yes, like many of you, I loved The Good Wife for the way it combined the legal procedural format with engrossing serialized stories full of sex, lies, politics and all of the other best kinds of melodrama. I love that it was, in many ways, a high-brow show produced for the CBS masses. It used its “case-of-the-week” format to thoughtfully probe topics ranging from technology to national security, guns, gender politics, activism and innumerable other notable subjects.
Even when the show was off its game, it was still full of impossibly watchable characters and whip-smart dialogue that intrigued and humored me enough to forgive its many narrative missteps in its later seasons. I think pushing Alicia into politics was an all around terrible decisions for the show (with ramifications that echoed through to the end) but “Oppo Research” (and many others from season six) is fantastic television.
But I’m getting dangerously close to a tangent. Let’s get to it: what did I think of the finale?
The most successful comedy of my lifetime (and one of the most successful of all time) was about “nothing.” And even the several comedies that have come since have made sure the “something” they were about mostly amounted to nothing. To be sure, they had nothing to do with race, politics, religion or any of the other uncomfortable topics you can imagine.
It’s not hard to understand why most shows would stay away from these topics; not only are they divisive, they’re incredibly hard to squeeze humor out of in a sitcom format. Many have tried and most have failed. So most don’t try anymore.
One of the rare exceptions to that is ABC’s blackish which, like The Carmichael Show, follows the life of a modern day African American family that frequently gets into discussions about a whole host of timely political and social issues. Blackish certainly has its defenders, but I’ve watched most of its hot button episodes dealing with everything from the “n-word” to spanking, church and “the nod” (although admittedly I never got around to watching the much-heralded episode about a racially motivated police shooting) and was pretty underwhelmed with the results. I feel like it gets a lot of credit just for “going there” when so many others won’t but they seem to only be interested in dealing with these topics on a kindergarten level. Which is fine, but between that approach and the fact that I find both Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross’s characters consistently irritating, the show just isn’t for me.
But The Carmichael Show definitely is.