Television's Mid-Fall Report Card

Richard Lawson · 10/15/08 03:12PM

It is already October 15th! How did that happen? I guess you could say that the Earth rotated around the sun a specific number of times and that days winnowed into nights which bled into days and so on and so on in the circle game. I think that's it. So, how have we been spending these ever-marching autumn hours? Watching TV, of course! Lots and lots of TV. Some has been good (Mad Men, The Daily Show), some has been bad (90210), and some has just been puzzling (Two and a Half Men?). So as we approach the ever-important November Sweeps Week—when networks set their ad rates based on inflated, extraordinary episodes that don't actually reflect typical week-in, week-out quality—let's take a second to give a quarter term report card. How has television been faring, you know, quality-wise (because we already know that ratings are in the toilet)? We'll analyze after the jump.

Defamer Predicts the 2008 Emmys: The Dramas

Kyle Buchanan · 09/19/08 01:50PM

We've already run through our predictions for Emmy's comedy categories, but now it's time to sit down for forty-four minutes (excepting commercials) and soberly judge this year's crop of dramas. Again, we'll be blogging the Emmys live from the East Coast starting at 7pm EDT/4pm PDT, so if Mariska Hargitay lets loose with an expletive-laden diatribe or Jeremy Piven has a nip slip on the red carpet, you can be sure we've got it covered. Now, onto the predictions:Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Boston Legal - James Spader Breaking Bad - Bryan Cranston Dexter - Michael C. Hall House - Hugh Laurie In Treatment - Gabriel Byrne Mad Men - Jon Hamm Don't even bother, House fans. Though Hugh Laurie turned in the compelling, two-hour season finale as his submission, Emmy voters love three-time winner James Spader, and his submission (which finds him passionately arguing a case before the Supreme Court) provides Spader with his biggest tour-de-force yet. If he's ever to lose, it won't be this year. Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Brothers & Sisters - Sally Field The Closer - Kyra Sedgwick Damages - Glenn Close Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - Mariska Hargitay Saving Grace - Holly Hunter A toss-up! In a category filled with film refugees deigning to do TV (which Emmy loves), Sally Field won last year and notoriously gave a bleeped speech that will only solidify her as the incumbent in voters' memories. Her biggest threat is the cool, nefarious Close, but we'll side with inertia and predict Field as the winner once more. Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Boston Legal - William Shatner Damages - Ted Danson Damages - Zeljko Ivanek Lost - Michael Emerson Mad Men - John Slattery All but two of the nominees are newcomers to this category, and last year's winner Terry O'Quinn is nowhere to be found. We think voters will reward his co-star, Lost MVP Michael Emerson, whose blockbuster episode submission included horse-riding, piano playing, action scenes, foreign languages, and a juicy scene grieving the death of his daughter. Plus, Emerson is no Emmy novice: he won the award in 2001 for guest-starring on The Practice. Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Boston Legal - Candice Bergen Brothers & Sisters - Rachel Griffiths Grey's Anatomy - Sandra Oh Grey's Anatomy - Chandra Wilson In Treatment - Dianne Wiest If the category seems oddly mild this year, it's because of 2007 winner Katherine Heigl's infamous decision to pull her name out of consideration. As a reward to the co-stars who bit their lips and suffered in silence, we expect either Oh or Wilson to pull through as the winner, with a slight edge to Oh (after all, she once had to deal with Isaiah Washington, too). Outstanding Drama Series Boston Legal Damages Dexter House Lost Mad Men For party crashers Damages and Dexter, it's an honor just to be nominated. Like them, Mad Men is little-seen, but the difference is that it's watched by all the right people (and heavily appeals to older Emmy voters), so we expect a first-season surge to victory. What Would Don Draper Do if he had to go home empty-handed?

The Mock Cover

Nick Denton · 08/28/08 02:52PM

The spoof cover is an increasingly popular way to establish a character. Witness the fake issue of Wired flashed on the screen during a video tribute to Iron Man's arms manufacturer, Robert Downey's character, Tony Stark. HBO rival Showtime has borrowed the technique to advertise the new season of their tentpole show, the serial-killer drama Dexter, sacrificing a little authenticity for branding impact: Dexter's name is rendered in the style of the Wired and Rolling Stone logos, but replaces the magazines' names. (One assumes these fake covers will run on the back pages of the respective magazines.) But our current favorite is the mini-issue at the back of the latest Advertising Age, a 16-page 1960s version of the ad trade mag designed to promote AMC's critically-acclaimed show Mad Men-and Initiative, the agency that organized the innovative campaign. A scan after the jump:

Jaded Stoner Subarbanites Prove To Be Irresistibly Watchable As 'Weeds' Premiere Sets Ratings Record

Molly Friedman · 06/17/08 08:20PM

What wasn’t there to love about last night’s Season Four premiere of Weeds? Albert Brooks as Andy’s disapproving father calling Nancy “Francie”! Silas finally entering dangerously hot boy territory! The absence of Mary Kate Olsen as the trippy hippie “sexy” guest star! And as THR reports today, we’re not alone. With 1.3 million viewers tuning in to find out Nancy’s fate with the high-level hard drug dealers (so realistically frightening for even a comedy as dark as this one), Mary Louise Parker and her merry marijuana-scented series premiere broke Showtime’s record as the most-viewed season premiere in history, topping Dexter’s second-season debut which lured 1 million. For a taste of the action warranting this kind of attention, see this clip from last night involving Parker’s adorable attempts at child rearing, dead grandmothers discovered by prepubescent boys, and our introduction to the Botwins’ omniscient neighbor named, of course, Rad.

SAG The Alexis To AFTRA's Krystle

Seth Abramovitch · 06/05/08 04:22PM

· The 24th day of negotiations brings us no closer to SAG-deal closure, as the actors' union refuses to endorse the AFTRA deal signed last week. (And that despite all the sexy progress AFTRA made in negotiating "online clip consent and jurisdiction over low-budget made-for-Internet productions!") Meanwhile, time is running out for SAG to petition its 120,000 members for strike approval in time for the June 30 deadline. [Variety]
· Ben Silverman shoots, he scores! The Stanley Cup finals score NBC a second-place finish, inspiring the gimmick-happy network head to his greatest idea yet: The Biggest Loser on Ice! [Variety]
· Former House of Blues president Joseph C. Kaczorowski will partner with Grosvenor Park, a film financing company which offers pre-sale, gap, tax financing, and several other services that instantly render us glazed over with boredom. [Variety]
· It's a light-ethnic-stereotyping showdown at the box office this weekend, as Kung Fu Panda and You Don't Mess With the Zohan face off for your mindless-summer-moviegoing dollars. [THR]
· Jimmy Smits will join Season 3 of Showtime's Dexter, playing Miguel Prado, an "ambitious, charismatic assistant DA" who nevertheless suffers from the same stultifying inability as the rest of the cast to tune in to Dexter's highly damning, V.O. narration. [THR]

Is 'Dexter' Too Dirty For Primetime?

Molly Friedman · 02/22/08 06:20PM

Parenthood groups are always trying to ruin the fun. Just after adorable homocidal freak Dexter made his debut on CBS to triumphant ratings, the Parents Television Council is trying to take the show off the air (or at least back to Showtime, where skeeviness and scandal rules). Despite having some of the funniest accusatory headlines we've seen since "Headless Body In Topless Bar" on their site (NBC is guilty of Airing Nudity and Assaulting Families!), Dexter seems to have pushed their buttons more than any entries on their list of Worst Shows On Television:

The Return Of Late-Night?

seth · 12/14/07 03:06PM

· They aren't done administering the defibrillator to the dead-eyed corpse of late-night TV just yet: Some are buzzing that "several hosts" plan on returning to the air by January 7, making life a little less egg-pelty for Ellen DeGeneres and Carson Daly. [Variety]
· After next week, however, every scripted TV series shooting in LA will have officially gone dark, explaining the eerie, silent calm throughout the city, and the longer, sadder lines at the Coffee Bean. [Variety]
· A new ceremony from The Academy of TV Arts & Sciences "will highlight and demonstrate the good things that TV does." The first lifetime achievement award goes to Fox Alternative Programming guru Mike Darnell, for his "tireless efforts in furthering the cause of people being hooked up to a lie detector and forced to answer whether or not they are still attracted to their spouse on national TV." [Variety]

Showtime's Bloody Fountain Just As Innocent Looking As They'd Promised

mark · 09/27/07 07:41PM

We apologize for questioning the sincerity of that marketing executive who insisted that the fountain at Hollywood and Highland was running red with good, clean Showtime color-branding, not the cruor of a relatable serial killer's victims. As you can plainly see in LAist's photo (there are more here) of the tinted water gently cascading behind the network's "promo scene" tape, anyone who came away with the impression that the fountain was filled with blood was obviously bringing his or her own violent baggage to the experience.

Showtime To Make Local Mall Fountain Bubble With Promotional Blood

mark · 09/27/07 02:08PM

Ignoring for a moment that someone in the Gawker Media ad sales department is currently rolling around in the pile of ensanguined Showtime cash they were paid to spatter some blood on Mr. Defamer's face (apparently, he got a little roughed up during Peter Krause's guest stint), we note an even gorier campaign the network is using to raise awareness of Dexter: Over at Hollywood and Highland today, Showtime is dumping a bunch of red dye into the mall's fountain, hoping that tourists don't mistake the innocent promotion of their company's signature color with some kind of disturbing attempt to turn the font into some kind of burbling cauldron in which the lovable serial killer boils his deserving victims down to their bones.