Monday, December 31, 2012

Chris Colley's TV Blog*'s 10 Lumps of Scripted TV Coal I Received And Watched In 2012 (Euphemism For 10 Worst, Because Worst Is Too Strong)

I gave you my 11 favorite shows, now it's time for me to tell you about 10 shows I was extremely disappointed in during 2012.  A lot of these shows were canceled, or are going to be canceled.  One show will end up on this list, just because it aggravates me.  Being ranked number 1 on this list means I thought you were the worst of the worst.  Being ranked on this list doesn't mean I didn't watch every episode (or even that it was overtly terrible), it's just that I thought the shows could have been done a lot better.  However, some of these shows were overtly terrible, and yet I still couldn't avert my eyes.  Again, Happy New Year, and thanks for reading!

 1.  Last Resort (ABC)

Last Resort had a good Pilot.  The U.S. Government tried to sink a rogue sub.  Even though they missed, the sub still sank all on its own.  Even though this might not be the worst show on the list, it surely was the most disappointing.  That's why it deserves to be number 1 on this list.

2. The New Normal (NBC)

I tried the show, and just couldn't get into it, at all.  It was a sitcom that wasn't in the least bit funny, to me.  It's clearly appealing to some people, as it looks like it's a sure pick up for a second season.  I'll stick to my favorite Ryan Murphy show, American Horror Story: Asylum, which barely missed out on my favorite shows of 2012 list.  The dude clearly has some issues...lol.

3. Animal Practice (NBC)

I watched every unfunny minute of this TV show.  Slapstick played straight just comes across as dumb.  A tonal adjustment in this show could have paid big dividends, but they locked themselves in a dark room they could never escape from.  There were two enjoyable characters on the show (Dr. Yamamoto and Angela), but everything else was just completely forgettable.

4. House of Lies (Showtime)

I wrote about this show last season in the post, HOUSE OF LIES: When Sex Sells A Bad Product.  I heard it got better after I quit watching it, but that's kind of like saying you never felt better right after being diagnosed with cancer.  You still know it's probably going to have a bad outcome in some way, shape, or form.  I won't be re-visiting it in the second season, despite Don Cheadle being one of my favorite actors ever.

5. Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23 (ABC)

This show had a really nicely absurd first season, but it fully believed its own hype for season 2.  This show became exactly as terrible as I thought it would be based on the original trailer I saw for the show.  This show is dead as a doornail, and my main note to the network is to CUT OUT JAMES VAN DER BEEK.  As a very rarely used gimmick casting, he could have been really interesting.  Instead, he might have ruined the ability to watch him seriously in anything again ever.  The makers of this show are guilty as charged, with overuse of a gimmick actor.  The DWTS storyline was about the worst I have ever seen.  It would have worked if he had actually been on DWTS, but he wasn't, so it came across as way dumb and overused.  This show could have been something, based on the absurdity of season 1, but it didn't, because it believed its own hype.  Oops.

6. Ben and Kate (FOX)

If you are one of the few people on the planet that enjoy this show, I applaud you.  I thought the show was creepy in premise, and I had to stop after the episode where they had to go see the Principal.  It was so creepy, and the lead characters seem like their development stopped somewhere around 11 or 12 years old.  It just didn't work at all, for me, and, yep, it's going to pay for that by being canceled. 

7. The Newsroom (HBO)

If you remove all of the relationship b.s. from The Newsroom, it's easily one of the best shows on television.  If you take out all of the good stuff from The Newsroom, it's a flaming pile of terrible relationship bulls***.  The way the show plays, the relationship b.s. is there close to 50 percent of the time.  That stuff is truly unbearable to watch, and keeps this show far away from being a top tier show.

8. The Big C (Showtime)

At the end of season 2, a major character died, evidently in an attempt to tug at our heart strings.  At the beginning of season 3, that character was alive.  I thought, for a minute, that he was an apparition.  It turned out he wasn't, he was still alive.  I never tuned in for episode 2 of the third season.  It's a shame this show, which had a great first season, managed to become so bad, in such a short amount of time, that I stopped watching it.

9. Vegas (CBS)

I have several episodes of this turd like imitation of some show resembling some form of Las Vegas that never existed, or something piled up on my DVR.  As of today, I've decided to just delete them.  The show's getting canceled, anyway, so it shouldn't matter.  A word of advice is if you're trying to do a historical drama, pay pretty close attention to the details.  The massive amount of errors in this show was extremely offputting.  The story was never good enough to overcome the errors, for me, so it seems like it's just best to say goodbye to the show.  This is easily the most disappointing show of the year, because it could have been so much better than it ultimately was.  I almost feel bad that I ever defended the Pilot.

10. Homeland (Showtime)

For all of the negative stuff I said in my favorite shows list, that's why Homeland is here.  It deserves to be on the best and worst list.  The only other candidate that can be in a similar situation next season is The Newsroom.  This will be the last time I care enough to put Homeland on both lists.

Chris Colley's TV Blog*'s Ten Favorite Shows of 2012

Everyone loves doing best of lists at the end of the year.  In the case of this list, it's not a best of, it's just my 10 favorite shows of 2012.  It might include canceled shows, because, like the writers of Homeland, I'll just be making this up as I go along.  I hope you all have a prosperous and safe 2013!  Happy New Year, and thanks for reading!

1. Person of Interest (CBS)

There's been absolutely no drop off from season 1 to season 2, so I'm looking forward to this show taking the top spot for me for many years to come.

2. Parks and Recreation (NBC)

Doesn't it seem appropriate that the great folks over at Parks and Recreation would be proudly shouting, "WE'RE NUMBER 2!"?  After an all over the map season 4, season 5 has really gotten back on track, and reminds me very much of all the best we have come to expect from our favorite mockumentary about local government.  If not for Person of Interest, this show would easily be my number 1 show of the year.  So, Parks and Recreation cast and crew you should be proudly shouting, "WE'RE NUMBER 2!".

3. Veep (HBO)

It's been a long time since I've had so many comedies I've liked, but 2012 was a great year for them, minus the ones that ended up on the other year end list I'm creating.  Parks and Recreation has the best comedy ensemble cast on network TV, in my opinion, and Veep's cast goes toe for toe with it on the channels that you can cuss on.  I consider it to be an adult version of Parks and Recreation, and I can't wait for season 2.  It's sharp, funny, has great cast chemistry, and it's must see if you haven't seen it.

4. Psych (USA)

For a show that's been on as long as this one (and that I still haven't caught up on completely), it's still not getting old.  The Hangover parody, from last season, was hysterical, and I greatly look forward to the upcoming season.  No show handles gimmick casting better than this one...period.

5. Common Law (USA)

There always seems to be at least one show that we have to lament its cancellation on this list, and this year it is Common Law.  This was a genuinely funny buddy cop show, with good enough ratings to get renewed, yet it didn't.  Hopefully it's out there somewhere you can see, because you should see it.  I loved this show, and truly miss that it will not ever be back.  At least we got good closure on the incident that caused all the drama between Travis and Wes.  I'm so sad this one is gone.  It was way too soon.

6. The Mindy Project (FOX)

I could have sworn this show would be terrible, but I think it's fantastic.  Mindy Kaling is a great writer, and this "parody" of romantic comedies is really great.  I love how each week she basically says what we all wish we could say.  This is a silly, funny show, and if you liked her character at all on The Office, you will LOVE this.  Trust me. 

7. Burn Notice (USA)

Burn Notice took a pretty big fall last season, but it still definitely deserves to be on the list.  It's clear that it's heading into the sunset, but I'll still enjoy every single minute it's still on the air. 

8. Franklin & Bash (TNT)

If you asked people which show they like best, between Franklin & Bash and Suits (USA), most people would likely choose Suits.  The difference between the two shows, to me, is ego and spirit.  I love both Franklin & Bash and Suits, but each show's second season is what determined which one got put on the list.  Franklin & Bash is the kind of show that gets full of itself after a carefree first season that was outstanding.  The thing is, it didn't!  For that accomplishment, alone, Franklin & Bash deserves to remain on the list.  Suits fully believed its own hype, and that's why I can't put it on the list, despite it ultimately having an excellent second season, for the most part.

9. Grimm (NBC)

This is a really awesome police procedural with a twist.  The first 12 episodes were pretty much a relatively standard police procedural in a supernatural setting.  There were little bits and pieces of an advancing serialization, but it easily could have stood alone up to that point.  From episode 13 onward, the show has been piling more plot than you can imagine into every episode.  The show even had a fantastic Halloween episode, which is nearly impossible to do.  When it comes to hybrid serialization on network TV, this and Person of Interest is how it's done. 

10. Homeland (Showtime)

Quite possibly the most overrated show in TV history, I can't avoid putting it on the list.  It has a hacky storyline, with absurd plots, and terrible attention to detail.  However, it has extremely high production value featuring usually top notch acting, outside of Claire Danes' "Most Acting" performances, endless face mugging, and ugly cry facing.  No longer a show to be taken seriously (since midway through the first season), it's still a relatively entertaining ride, as long as you're willing to leave your head a few miles outside the door.

11. Arrow (The CW)

And just because it's my blog, dammit, I'm adding a bonus pick.  Arrow is an extremely fun show, and is one you should be watching if you like Person of Interest, Revenge, the Nolan Batmans, cats, rats, fleas, and anything else.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

FLASHBACK POST (December 21, 2011): HOMELAND Episode 1: This Is What Happens When You F With The Man

I'm going to start off with a tangent about season 2, but then I'll get to the flashback post.  So, bear with me.  Tonight, I finally watched the season 2 finale of Homeland, and...yawn.  I think the show is really good if you just look at it as an insane hyperdrama (see definition here).  However, as any kind of show that deserves to be taken seriously, in any way, shape, or form, I just can't do it.  Suspension of disbelief isn't something that's really hard to get past (Person of Interest is my favorite show, and is pretty inherently unbelievable, but isn't a problem like this show).  The good news is I stopped trusting the writers after season 1.  I feel like they're making it up as they go along, and I'm not going to reward such a flawed show by mimicking the ridiculous amount of praise I think the show has received. 

Part of what was "appealing" about season 1, to me, was that it was grounded in a somewhat believable universe, while being a completely implausible show.  With the beginning of season 2, believability was completely thrown out the window, and the show plays closer to a comedic farce than it does a serious drama.  When you look at my definition of hyperdrama, you will easily understand how much Homeland fits into that category.  As I've said elsewhere, this show has a lot more in common with HawthoRNe and Scandal (which actually might be heavily borrowing on the storytelling techniques of Homeland).  To me, the show is basically a top notch soap opera with good shooting, good sound, and mostly good to great actors, set against an "exciting" backdrop.  Its production value is what makes everyone think the show is better than it is.  A lot of the dialog is stilted, performances are occasionally very awkward (see most of the Brody/Carrie scenes in the season 2 finale), the plots are absurd, and there are numerous plot holes.  In the largest broad strokes, the show does a good job, but everywhere else, it's almost an unmitigated disaster story wise, especially when it comes to small details.  If suspension of disbelief becomes a huge problem (which it clearly is), it needs to be fixed (think of season 3 as an opportunity!).  I watch James Bond movies and enjoy them immensely, so Homeland has no excuse to not do better.  High production value, excellent acting, a "fast" plot pacing, and a good cliffhanger are not enough to overcome my issues with the show.  

With that said, I'll still be watching season 3.  After all, I watched every episode of the last season of HawthoRNe, because one thing that show did right, besides casting the very attractive Jada Pinkett Smith, was that it had cliffhangers that made it impossible to not watch the following week's episode.  All I'm trying to say is if season 2 wins any EMMYs for writing, series, or acting, it means that the Academy is definitely NOT watching the show.  I could see Michael Cuesta getting a nomination for directing the season 2 finale, and some technical awards nominations (and possibly wins), but it should definitely NOT win for any of the major categories.

****SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH IF YOU DO NOT WANT SEASON 2 FINALE SPOILERS****

I do, however, have to say I was much more satisfied with season 2's finale than I was with season 1's finale, which almost made me quit the show.  Of course, it wouldn't have taken much to make me more satisfied with season 2's finale more than season 1's.  They needed to blow everything up after what I felt was the disaster of most of season 2, and they did! (pun intended).  My biggest problem with the show is the downstream cliches.  We got the ending that was sort of what should have happened at the end of season 1, at the end of season 2.

****NO MORE SPOILERS FOR SEASON 2 BELOW HERE****

And here's the flashback piece.  I hope it's enjoyable.  Thanks for reading this, that, and the other thing.

 HOMELAND Episode 1: This Is What Happens When You F With The Man

Do you remember that great scene with the Corvette outside the house in The Big Lebowski?  Well, if you do, and even if you don't, that scene is my inspiration for what I'm going to do in this post about Homeland.  I had originally planned to do scene by scene dissections of the series, but after Sunday's season 1 finale, I was so disappointed that I just don't have the willpower to do them.  The good news for you (or not) is that this riled me up so bad that I'm going to go through and point out every suspicious activity, character motivation, and plot hole I can think of as it relates to what happened at the end of the season.

With that said, I think it's pretty obvious that I'm going to be giving away massive spoilers here.  If you have a problem with that, go somewhere else, some place where people love what they did with the finale.  You won't find love here for how the season ended.  To me, it was one giant cop out, and if these 12 posts go well, you will clearly see why.  Hopefully there will be a lot of humor, and a lot of knowledge dropped.  One thing's for sure, spoilers will be dropped.  Just like what I said about Falling Skies, you were warned.

Here's how this is going to work.  For each episode I'm going to compile a list of what I feel are the most significant parts of the series, so far.  I haven't decided what all that will be, but it will probably be a lot.  This will be numbered, and relatively short (in Chris Colley terms).  Each episode will have a post written in similar fashion.  It will probably take a couple of weeks to do, but I should have the first two episodes up fairly quickly, since I can just go through my two episode dissections for the information.  I hope you will enjoy them, even though I am writing these more out of rage than love.  Spoilers?  Don't like them?  Leave now...

Episode 1-The Goods

1.  CHARACTER:  CIA Case Officer Carrie Mathison disobeys a direct order from David Estes, her boss, while in Iraq.  Carrie, throughout the season, will do whatever it takes to get what she wants.  She's a loose cannon, and has no respect for authority.

2.  PLOT:  An imprisoned terrorist whispers something in Carrie's ear after she promises to protect his family if he gives up information.  What he whispered was that an American POW had been turned.  The cat and mouse game "begins" when we first find out that Sgt. Nicholas Brody, a missing POW, gets rescued.  We later find out that Tom Walker, who had appeared to be killed by Brody, is also out there and is a turned terrorist.  The informant didn't lie, an American POW was turned, it was just two of them.

3.  CHARACTER:  In Carrie's home office, we see a large timeline of events, on her wall.  These documents are classified.  She is reckless with classified and sensitive information over and over in this season.  We also see that she has been out all night, as she does rudimentary hygiene techniques.  She is probably a low grade substance abuser, and is definitely into one night stands, as she will almost have one at the end of this episode, and has one with the terrorist Brody in the back of a car.

4.  PLOT:  Sgt. Nicholas Brody was found and rescued by a Delta Force mission.  He had been MIA and presumed dead since 2003.  He is treated as a hero, but that darn Brody is a terrorist, even though he doesn't really think he is.

5.  CHARACTER:  Carrie is always late, and ain't worth the wait.  However, she knows everything she's supposed to, because that's how she rolls.

6.  CHARACTER/PLOT:  Carrie meets with Saul Berenson, who is her babysitter in the CIA, because of her causing an international incident in Iraq, when she bribed a guard to talk to a terrorist that was not being held by the USA.  Saul is also her mentor, and she will routinely confide in him.  Throughout the season, lots of clues were sent out to the audience that Saul might be some kind of double agent.  None of this was paid off.  Saul will also alternate between thinking Carrie is crazy, being angry with her, being disgusted by her, wanting to put her in prison, and he ultimately mostly believes what she says.  He hates her methods, but she does get the job done, in his opinion.  He does sell her out pretty bad in the season finale, when she calls to tell him that Brody is going to blow up the bunker.  Saul thinks she is crazy, tells her he'll take care of it, and then asks that she is contained.  Saul is a troubled man, who spends way too much time on the job.  It is his flaw.  Carrie is also his flaw.  As for the plot aspect, Carrie tells Saul that an American POW has been turned.  He finds this pretty unbelievable, but she is right.  In fact, two POWs have been turned, Brody and Corporal Tom Walker.  Carrie has no interest in telling her boss, Estes, about this, (Saul certainly doesn't have any interest in this either) and this is my first major problem with the series.  She wouldn't have to tell Estes that she suspects Brody, but she should have told him what she was told about an American POW being turned.  He could then draw his own conclusions (and ignore them, as he ignores nearly every important piece of information he is given).  Still, he's a smart man.

7.  PLOT:  Carrie asks Saul to authorize surveillance on the terrorist Brody.  We know this is a good idea, because Brody is a terrorist, but Saul says that will never happen, that Estes would never approve it.  So, Carrie gets angry and decides to fund an illegal surveillance operation, that breaks approximately 12 Federal Laws, herself.  Again, she does not take no for answer.  She does what she does.

8.  PLOT:  Brody, the terrorist, is going to be the government's poster boy for the War On Terror.  Ha ha ha, get it?  They thought he would help get out the word that the terrorists are still out there.  He would have, if he hadn't been such a chicken loving his daughter and stuff.  After all, his plan was to do his thang, with something he wore on his chest, with the VP and a whole bunch of important Defense Department people.  Yeah, it didn't happen.  So, for now, Brody will be the "positive" face for the War On Terror, as opposed to the terror they are warring on, which is what he really is.

9.  PLOT:  Captain Mike Faber (the terrorist Brody's best friend) is sleeping (this is a euphemism for boinking) with Brody's wife, Jessica, when Brody calls to tell her he is alive.  Awkward.  Love triangle ensues, and things do not go well.

10.  CHARACTER:  Jessica goes home to tell the Brody kids (daughter and son) the news.  One is a bit younger than the other.  The older one, Dana, is a problem child, and is smoking a bong when Jessica arrives home.  The son, Chris, tells his mom that he tried to get Dana to stop, but we all know he is really more interested in video games and ka-ra-te than anything else.  Oh yeah, Jessica hasn't told the kids about "Uncle Mike" being in a relationship with her.  Dana's smarter than that, and knows what's up.  Chris, well he seems kind of dumb and into video games a little too much.  Jessica has about as good a poker face as Madeleine Stowe on Revenge.

11.  PLOT:  On the flight home from Germany, Brody learns his life is about to be turned into a media circus.

12.  PLOT:  While everyone is out to meet Brody, Carrie's team ($1000 a day is bare bones), sets up the illegal surveillance package inside Brody's house.  We also learn that Carrie isn't good at dealing with the people she has taking enormous risks to help her out.  Carrie hates the people above her, and hates the people below her.  The good news is she loves her some her.

13.  SUSPICIOUS:  Major General Trujillo is on the phone with Estes, and calls him by his first name, denoting familiarity.  Estes uses the words "like a hero", not "hero".  You could make the case that he knows Brody is a terrorist, but doesn't really care, since the VP is all about some Brody.  The VP is very lucky he didn't end up all over Brody, if you get what I'm sayin'...ha ha ha.

14.  CHARACTER:  As Jessica prepares to re-introduce herself to Brody, we find her "acting" in a mirror.  She has no idea how to talk to her own husband, so she has to practice.  Acting is a pretty big theme with her early on in Brody's return.  Dana is really the mama in the household, as she has to get everyone in line.  She's a mama with a drug problem, but she's still the "mama", because Jessica's always busy getting busy with "Uncle Mike".

15.  SUSPICIOUS:  The family gets to see Brody for a minute, in an awkward interaction.  Then the terrorist hating, Brody loving VP (wait, what?) shows up to tell the terrorist Brody what an honor it is to meet him (since I guess he had always wanted to meet a hero terrorist).  Brody has a hard time making eye contact with him, because he thinks the VP is the devil for killing a young boy (among many other kids with a drone strike) that Brody had bonded with in Abu Nazir's (the big terrorist) compound.  The VP, among others, is Brody's ultimate target in the season finale.  He came strapped, but he couldn't pull the trigger, he couldn't pull the trigger.

16.  ISSUES:  Brody has some PTSD stuff going on.  Bright lights bug him, and they comfort him.  What is the deal, man?  Make up your mind.  I guess they tortured him with bright lights, but then he was converted by the bright sunlight to Islam.  We see this PTSD motif as Brody is walking to a podium at his welcome ceremony.

17.  CHARACTER:  Brody seems pretty comfortable in these type of situations, and appears to know how to work a crowd.  We also get to see that both "Uncle Mike" and Jessica are unhappy with Brody's return, and show a lot of shame.  By the end of the season, the love triangle is a real let down.  We were forced to watch it stew over and over for around 6 episodes, and then it just disappears into thin air, because Brody gave a beat down to "Uncle Mike", and Jessica wants to have a real life with the terrorist Brody, who doesn't have much planned in life, but dying, and soon.  If only he had pulled the trigger...if...

18.  ISSUES:  We find out that Carrie is taking some kind of mysterious blue pill that is hidden in her aspirin bottle.  There's no mystery anymore, it's Clozapine, an anti-psychotic drug used as a last resort for schizophrenic and bipolar patients, due to its tremendously bad side effects.  Claire Danes has said she is playing it bipolar, because she probably didn't want to play it schizophrenic.  At any rate, we now know that Carrie has mental illness, and she's lying about it to the CIA.  This will play an important part, as everyone thinks she is crazy, when she tries to tell them Brody is a terrorist.  She's what I will call the insane truth teller.

19.  SUSPICIOUS:  Captain Mike Faber is in Military Intelligence.  Brody seems surprised that Faber stayed in the military.  When telling Brody he is in Military Intelligence, he says "me of all people".  That intimates that he wasn't down with Military Intelligence, when Brody knew him, but has somehow become a part of it.  This was never mentioned again, although Faber is considered Brody's commanding officer.  Faber tells Brody the meeting is for business, as the CIA wants to do a follow up de-brief with him.

20.  PLOT:  While Carrie watches Brody's return home on TV, while waiting for the surveillance to be put online, she calls Saul and tells him to get her into Brody's de-brief.  They argue about it, and Saul asks if she will behave herself.  While this is going on, there is audible feedback on Carrie's end from the surveillance system going online.  Saul makes Carrie promise to behave herself in the de-brief.  We all know this won't happen, and I'm pretty sure Saul knows it won't happen either.  It's probably his half-hearted way of telling her to shake things up.  Saul apparently does notice the feedback, and knows that Carrie is up to something.  He will shortly discover her surveillance.

21.  WEIRD:  Carrie becomes engrossed in mundane surveillance.  Eventually the Brodys want to have sex, and Carrie decides to watch.  This is highly inappropriate, and you will learn, by the end of the season, that Carrie somehow has managed to fall in love with the terrorist Brody (in the immortal words of Mos Def, "Wowwwww").  I guess she likes the way he basically rapes his wife or something.  Brody is not adjusted, and cannot show intimacy with his wife.  Prior to this scene, while Brody was in the shower, we saw Jessica practicing what she would do.  That's the second time we've seen that.

22.  SUSPICIOUS:  Jessica wants Brody to have some wine.  Brody is having a hard time accepting it.  Devout Muslims don't drink alcohol, so we can get the idea that Brody is now a Muslim.  He is, he is!

23.  BORING:  Love triangle is obviously part of the problem here.

24.  SUSPICIOUS:  During Carrie's surveillance the phone rings twice.  Both times Jessica answers.  Both times the caller hangs up.  They milk this, but I'm fresh out of cows.  It was Brody's sniper partner, Tom Walker's (other terrorist), wife.  She claimed to be uncomfortable talking to Jessica, because Jessica made her feel bad about moving on from Walker, and marrying someone else.  Vot ah heepocreet she ees, ay?

25.  PLOT:  Carrie oversleeps and is late for the de-brief.  She re-iterates how important it is to make sure they're there for first contact.  Virgil (surveillance guy) assures her that they will be there.  We see Carrie take another blue pill, and head off to work.

26.  SUSPICIOUS:  Carrie does not play nice with Brody in the de-brief.  When Brody mentions a particular name (Zayyadi sp?), both Carrie and Estes seem surprised.  Carrie proceeds to show him a picture of Abu Nazir, asking if that is the man, and Brody says it is not.  She asks if Brody has met Nazir.  He tells her no, because he is a liar.  He has met Nazir, and is involved in an active terror plot with him.  We also find out that a prisoner of war loses value after 72 hours, and Carrie wants to know why Brody retained value.  We will soon find out that Brody retained value because he turned, and "killed" the unkillable Tom Walker (who he killed again at the end of season 1).  All this appears to have happened pretty early in Brody's captivity.

27.  PLOT HOLE:  Why did Brody and Walker turn so quickly?  They could have spent the whole season letting us know what built them into the terrorists they became, to give us the payoff we received in the finale.  Brody thinks he killed Walker very early in his captivity, but it hasn't even been hinted at why he was willing to do this, and especially so early in his captivity.  Instead, we are led to believe that Brody's whole reason for becoming a terrorist is because of the bonding he had with Nazir's son, and the subsequent U.S. cover up of the attack that killed him.  There would be a whole lot more to it than this, kids.  It also wouldn't even begin to scratch the surface of why Tom Walker did what he did.

28.  CHARACTER:  Brody is a pathological, and convincing, liar.  I won't ruin all of his moments, as we will see them soon enough in this post.  At any rate, you almost can't believe a single word he says, and probably should look at every important thing he says as if it is a lie.  When Dana talks him down from blowing up the bunker, his preference was to not answer at all, as opposed to lying.  When he doesn't want to tell a lie, he typically will evade the question, or change the subject.

29.  CHARACTER:  Jessica and Dana have another fight about Dana's attendance at a barbecue.  Jessica tells her that they need to make it work between them, because things are different now.  Again, Jessica is acting, as opposed to living.

30.  CHARACTER:  Brody lies, and tells Jessica that he is still at Langley, when he is in a limousine.  This is his second overt lie.  He is going to a meeting with Walker's wife, even though the tension built in the scene is that he's going to meet a potential terrorism contact.

31.  CHARACTER BACKSTORY:  In a Saul and Estes walk and talk, we learn that Estes has a real problem with Carrie's temperament, and steamroller approach to doing her job.  He says that he knows she can do the job, but he hates her methods (she is on probation after nearly being kicked out of the CIA).  Saul feels the same way, but enables her.  Estes is the non-enabling version of Saul.  We also learn that Saul has a blind spot for Carrie, and we learn that Estes used to have one for her, as well, one that resulted in his divorce.  We are also told that this will end badly for both Carrie and Saul.  So far, it's ended badly for Carrie (even though she unknowingly prevented Brody's attack), but it hasn't ended badly for Saul.  I guess his dark days are still coming.

32.  PLOT:  During the conversation with Saul, Estes wants to know if Carrie's up to something.  Saul tells him that he's not aware of anything.  Yes, Carrie's up to something, doing illegal surveillance on Brody.  Estes is a wise man, who never follows through on his wisdom if we are to believe what happened in season 1.

33.  PLOT:  Brody meets with Helen Walker, Tom Walker's wife, in the meeting Carrie wanted to be at, hoping it was Brody's contact.  She asks what happened to Walker, and Brody, after trying to deflect her away from an answer, tells her that he was beaten to death.  She asks if he was there when Walker was killed.  Brody tells her no, even though we will later find out that Brody "killed" Walker.  This is again, a lie.  Brody is on a roll, three lies in three scenes is a big deal.

34.  PLOT:  Virgil confronts Carrie about the blue pill (Clozapine), and wants to know if he's risking everything for a crazy person.  She is theoretically insane, but she's also a truth teller, as she was right about Brody all along, even after second guessing herself, eventually.  Realizing that Virgil might want out, Carrie basically blackmails him saying that he can't stop now, because he's in it up to his neck.  She's telling him that if she goes down, he goes down too.  So, Virgil continues surveillance with her.

35.  PLOT:  Carrie returns home to find Saul sitting in front of her surveillance.  After some harsh words, and sarcasm, we find out that Carrie just doesn't want us to get hit again, that she can't let that happen.  Saul asks her if she has anything suggesting Brody is what she thinks he is.  She tells him she doesn't, and Saul tells her to make sure she brings her lawyer down in the morning, because she's going to need one.  Saul also tells her he understands why she did it, but that he doesn't think a Grand Jury will.  At this point, Carrie tries to seduce Saul in hopes of getting him to back off to let her continue.  Saul says, "What the f*** are you doing?", with a shocked look on his face, Carrie backs away, ashamed, and Saul leaves.  The implication is that Saul is one big softie toward Carrie.  If he really wanted her to back off, he would have taken her in right then and there.  Instead, he manages to give her one more night full of time.  Good thing for her, she will find something that convinces him to let her continue.

36.  CHARACTER:  The scene above demonstrates more of Carrie's use them up and spit them out mentality.  The only person who can be "trusted" with what she says no longer can stomach the idea of being around her.  She lied to him about what she was doing, and then she tried to bribe him to keep it quiet.  Losing Saul as a confidant would put Carrie completely on an island inside the CIA.  The good news for her is that Saul really likes her, and may be keeping her close to learn what she knows.

37.  PLOT:  Carrie does not take what's going to happen well.  We see her take another Clozapine pill, the first time we have seen her take two in one day (against recommendation?  I don't feel like doing any research).  She goes to a bowl on her dresser, and takes out a "wedding" ring and puts it on.  We saw her deposit this ring into the bowl in her character introduction.  She then tries on a bunch of different party clothes, and leaves.  If she's going to jail tomorrow, she's gonna have fun tonight.  This behavior is likely not out of the ordinary for her, like it's some kind of compulsion, I'm willing to guess.  She likes drankin' and she likes casual sex, even though her life is filled with paranoia about terrorism.  She won't even take slight risks in regards to whether someone could be a terrorist, but she takes life threatening risks with her own body.

38.  BORING:  The barbecue love triangle with Brody, Jessica, and "Uncle Mike" pops up.  That dumb Chris basically tells his father that "Uncle Mike" has been around a lot.  Brody isn't stupid, and sort of puts two and two together.  This is probably the third or fourth time he has been a little suspicious that Mike is having a relationship with his wife, and is the second time dumb Chris has said something that makes Brody suspicious (when Brody first arrives home, noticing the paint job changed, Chris happily reveals that "Uncle Mike's" brother painted it for them).  I know he's just a kid, but he really should be smarter than this.

39.  CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT:  Carrie goes to a jazz bar, and we see what she does at night.  She's flirting with some random guy, and sees Brody on a TV screen, in a news recap of the welcome ceremony.

40.  SUBTLE PLOT DROP:  The guy Carrie is talking to says that someone out there is probably looking at Brody thinking he would have political prospects.  Yes, this is true.  Elizabeth Gaines, a power broker, who was assassinated by Tom Walker in the finale does see gold in Brody.  The VP also sees this gold, and helps convince Brody to run for Representative (another Representative is disgraced in a sex scandal, and they want Brody to replace him) later in the series.  The people in Brody's district can't get a break, I'd hate to be represented by either of those guys.  Is this what they will put as his identifier, on TV programs if he is elected?:

Sgt. Nicholas Brody (D-Terrorist, Virginia)

41.  PLOT:  After being asked if she wants to get a table by her suitor, Carrie starts watching the jazz band play.  She notices the fingers of all the players.  Then, she magically looks back at the TV, and notices that Brody is rhythmically moving his fingers, in what she thinks might be a code.  Later, after Carrie and Brody's sex and alcohol fueled weekend (wait, what?), Brody tells her that he was moving his fingers counting his prayer beads.  Is this true?  It's plausible, but Brody is a pathological liar, so I wouldn't believe anything he says, or at least not take it at face value.  This finger code is the evidence she wants to present to Saul that Brody is up to something.

42.  CHARACTER:  Remember what I said about Carrie's reckless behavior.  She drinks and drives over to Saul's house.  This will not be the only time she does this in season 1.

43.  PLOT:  Carrie goes and wakes Saul up, in the middle of the night.  Saul is very unhappy to see her, and is basically just indulging her, to get her to go away.  After finally convincing Saul that there may be something here, she asks him if she's still going to jail.  He tells her "not just yet".  She still hasn't gone to jail at the end of the first season (well, not for more than a few hours).  Good ol' Carrie never really gets legally punished (even though everyone in the series beats her down, mentally, causing her to want to go for Electroconvulsive Therapy at the end of the season finale) for her many illegal and bad actions.  The tapes were sent to a Crypto team, and they couldn't find anything in the hand movements.  There is no code, it's most likely that Brody was doing prayer bead behavior.

44.  PLOT:  At the end of the episode, we find Brody out on a hard jog in the morning.  We get to see his lies revealed, and find out that he was the one beating Walker, with Abu Nazir encouraging him to hit Walker harder.  After the beating is over, Brody collapses into Nazir's arms, crying.  We then see Brody stop jogging, and he turns and faces the Capitol Building.  This is his target, in more ways than one.  Brody is a terrorist, even though, all season, they will try to make you second guess what is really obvious, even from the first episode.

SCORECARD:

Brody lies:  3
Jessica acting:  3
Carrie takes Clozapine:  3
Carrie disobeys direct orders:  3
Carrie engaging in reckless behaviors:  at least 3
Open plot holes:  1
Potentially suspicious behaviors by characters that can be taken at more than face value:  4

I'll end this piece with a screwed up version of a famous quote from the TV series, House.  Thanks for reading.

EVERY BRODY LIES

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Chris Colley's TV Blog*'s Early Pointless Scripted TV Renewal/Cancellation Predictions For The Fall 2012 TV Season (Big 4 Networks Only)

Well, I've been wanting to unveil this for awhile, but I've been sitting on it, for various reasons.  While I was waiting to do so, some shows got canceled, that really weren't any major surprise.  I have been receiving ratings numbers, this season, of a few flavors, and am doing my own predictions based on a slightly different model than the current way it's typically done.  That's part of why I've been waiting so long to unveil this, as I wanted as much data as possible before making predictions.

It's been an odd TV season, where shows that shouldn't still be on the air, based on previous history, stayed on much longer than usual.  Whether that's due to a lack of programming to back those shows up, or whether different ratings factors are in play won't be able to be fully debated until the 2012-2013 TV season wraps up.  My feeling is that with DVR saturation growing, we could be looking at a new era for renewals/cancellations.  I have no true data to back this up, but people are watching a lot of TV in the first 2 days after the original Live+Same Day airing (what we all have made predictions based on in the past).  A show like Revolution (NBC) is routinely picking up 1/3 of its first 3 day 18-49 viewers in days 2 and 3.  These ratings are called L+3, and I'm using them as a factor in my "decisions" for this blog post.  The networks do not receive these often, but that's okay, because I think they're fairly easy to predict based on L+7 ratings.  I'm not saying there's huge stock that should be placed in these ratings, but I think they could play somewhere around a minimum of a 10 percent factor in a network's decision to renew a bubble show.  If you have a sizable bump in the L+3 ratings, yet are what I consider to be a bubble show in the L+SD ratings, I think there's a very good shot you will be renewed.  If there's not much bump, I'm putting you on the cancel side.

For this list, I'll first start out with what I consider the bubbles to be for each network, for all of the different brands of programming (rightly or wrongly), and then list what I think would happen, if the decision were made today.  I could have made these same predictions weeks ago, and been ahead of the curve, but I wanted to see more data.  I had originally predicted the cancellations of Partners (CBS), Last Resort (ABC), and 666 Park Avenue (ABC), so even though they were canceled before I made this list, I will give myself credit for predicting their demises accurately.  There could be a lot of places where I get this wrong, based on my not quite secret sauce criteria for renewal/cancellation, but it's the best I think I can do right now.  I think I will only have one wild card, where I won't make a prediction, and that will be described below (I don't really have enough data to back up my predictions for Happy Endings and Whitney, but I'm comfortable enough to make predictions on them).

Chris Colley's TV Blog* Estimated Bubbles (this is a ratings threshold NOT an average):

ABC:

Drama (Monday-Thursday)-2.0 in the 18-49 Demo
Drama (Sunday)-1.8 in the 18-49 Demo
Comedy (Monday-Thursday)-1.6 in the 18-49 Demo
Comedy (Friday)-1.4 in the 18-49 Demo

CBS:

Drama (Monday-Thursday)-2.2 in the 18-49 Demo
Comedy (Monday-Thursday)-2.2 in the 18-49 Demo
Drama (Friday-Sunday)-1.6 in the 18-49 Demo

FOX:

Drama (Monday-Thursday)-2.0 in the 18-49 Demo
Comedy (Monday-Thursday)-1.6 in the 18-49 Demo
Drama (Friday)-1.4 in the 18-49 Demo

NBC:

Drama (Monday-Thursday)-1.8 in the 18-49 Demo
Comedy (Monday-Thursday)-1.6 in the 18-49 Demo
Drama (Friday)-1.4 in the 18-49 Demo

Correct guesses in blue
Incorrect guesses in red
Guess that couldn't be made in green

What I Predict Would Happen If A Decision Were Made Today (animation not factored in):

Sunday (Renew It):

Once Upon a Time (ABC)
Revenge (ABC)
The Good Wife (CBS)
The Mentalist (CBS) 

Sunday (Cancel It):

666 Park Avenue (ABC)
Red Widow (ABC)

Monday (Renew It):

Castle (ABC)
How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
2 Broke Girls (CBS)
Mike & Molly (CBS)
Hawaii Five-O (CBS)
Bones (FOX)
Revolution (NBC)
The Following (FOX)

Monday (Cancel It):

Partners (CBS)
The Mob Doctor (FOX)
Deception (NBC)
Rules of Engagement (CBS)***FATE CHANGED MAY 6, 2013, DUE TO MULTIPLE ACTORS HAVING PILOTS, LEADING ME TO BELIEVE IT'S DONE***

Tuesday (Renew It):

NCIS (CBS)
NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)
Raising Hope (FOX)
New Girl (FOX)
The Mindy Project (FOX) 
Parenthood (NBC)
Body of Proof (ABC)

Tuesday (Cancel It):

Happy Endings (ABC)
Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23 (ABC)
Private Practice (ABC, final season)
Vegas (CBS)
Ben and Kate (FOX)
Go On (NBC)***FATE CHANGED FEBRUARY 20, 2013***
The New Normal (NBC)***FATE CHANGED FEBRUARY 20, 2013***
Smash (NBC)
Golden Boy (CBS)

Wednesday (Renew It):

The Middle (ABC)
The Neighbors (ABC)
Modern Family (ABC)
Suburgatory (ABC)
Nashville (ABC)
Criminal Minds (CBS)
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS)
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC)
Chicago Fire (NBC)
How to Live with Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life (ABC)

Wednesday (Cancel It):

Animal Practice (NBC)
Whitney (NBC)
Guys with Kids (NBC)***FATE CHANGED FEBRUARY 21, 2013***
Family Tools (ABC)

Thursday (Renew It):

Grey's Anatomy (ABC)
Scandal (ABC)
The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Two and a Half Men (CBS)
Person of Interest (CBS)
Elementary (CBS)
Glee (FOX)
Parks and Recreation (NBC)
Community (NBC)
Hannibal (NBC)

Thursday (Cancel It):

Last Resort (ABC)
30 Rock (NBC, final season announced last season)
The Office (NBC, final season announced prior to season start)
Do No Harm (NBC)
Zero Hour (ABC)
1600 Penn (NBC) 
Up All Night (NBC)

Friday (Renew It):

Last Man Standing (ABC)
Malibu Country (ABC)
Blue Bloods (CBS)
Grimm (NBC)

Friday (Cancel It):

CSI: NY (CBS)
Made in Jersey (CBS)
Fringe (FOX, final season announced last season)
Touch (FOX)

We'll find out in the coming months whether this was a good prediction chart, or just another batch of b.s. out in the internet wasteland.  I don't think I have many divergences from conventional wisdom, so far, but there are probably a few.  We'll do the real one of these next Spring, toward the middle of the TV season.  Commence cheering or weeping and gnashing of teeth now.  Thanks for reading.
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