TV Tidbits (updated) - Macleans.ca
 

TV Tidbits (updated)


 

A few quick hits as I wonder if Stephen Colbert brought out the “Atone Phone” for this Rosh Hashanah:

CTV is now going to be fully owned by Bell, which spent $1.3 billion to acquire its lineup of U.S. simulcasts. David Olive of the Toronto Star argues that there’s “less to this deal than meets the eye,” and specifically that it won’t help Bell expand its service as much as it hopes — particularly in Quebec, where “CTV’s predominantly English-language content will be of minimal use.”

The Peabody Awards have added four new members to its selection committee, including Mo Ryan, formerly TV critic of the Chicago Tribune and now covering TV for AOL.com.

A look at how The Office might go about replacing Steve Carell. One of the things they’re considering is getting somebody famous to replace him as the “star” but not as the boss. Another possibility is promoting someone from within to be the dominant character on the show. But given that much of the show’s ratings success has been dependent on Carell’s fame, I assume they’re at least trying to find someone with a comparable degree of fame outside the world of TV. Because, really, if The 40 Year-Old Virgin hadn’t come out when it did, the show would not have survived. The movie, and Carell’s new popularity, didn’t just drive people to the show, but it created a whole Steve Carell comic persona that the writers could write for, leading to Michael becoming a more sympathetic and clearly-defined character than he was in the truncated first season. The advantage of adding a well-known star to the cast would not just be the publicity value, though that helps, but that they’d instantly know how to write for that person, making it (theoretically, anyway) easier to integrate the new lead into the large cast.

– I doubt that’s why Tim Allen is talking to Greg Daniels about a possible TV comeback, though in the unlikely event that they could get him, he’d certainly be a decent Carell replacement. If, as seems more likely, Allen is conferring with TV producers about a new star vehicle, I hope he doesn’t make the usual mistake and do an “edgy” single-camera show like the upcoming The Paul Reiser Show and a number of other ’90s star comeback vehicles. (Curb Your Enthusiasm doesn’t count because David wasn’t the on-camera star of the ’90s show.) If Wilson were alive, he’d tell Allen to find a new project that lets him do what he knows how to do.

This piece on Hollywood’s Top 50 Showrunners is good, but seems to include almost every show in America. The few showrunners who didn’t get asked anything (oddly enough, there seems to be a bias against TNT shows like Men of a Certain Age) must feel very left out.

– Finally, you may have already seen Fred Fox Jr.’s oddly defensive piece where he tries to argue that the “Fonzie Jumps the Shark” episode (which he was assigned to write, though he can’t remember whose idea the story was) wasn’t really that bad. It’s not very convincing at all, since he uses the typical gambit of mistaking popularity for quality: the fact that the show continued to be popular does not prove it didn’t start to suck. Besides, the biggest problem was not that Fonzie jumped a shark but that he a) was a champion-level water skiier for no reason and b) skiied with his leather jacket on. By the way, you can see Fox — who made my Canadian childhood happier by creating My Secret Identity — in anothe shark-jump-y episode, the one where Fonzie does a dance based on himself called “Do the Fonzie.” Fox plays the rock star who dares to call Fonzie a “punk.” Which is exactly the sort of thing you wind up doing after the show has, well, Jumped the Shark.


 
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TV Tidbits (updated)

  1. Did the Fonz jump the shark before he met Mork episode? If Mork came first then that's when Happy Days really jumped the shark.

  2. "If Wilson were alive, he'd tell Allen to find a new project that lets him do what he knows how to do."

    Tim Allen did very good work in movies, like Galaxy Quest and Redbelt, and those were all single-camera. Plus, didn't you yourself admit that veterans of classic style sitcoms, like Ed O'Neil (who was also in Redbelt for two seconds) could do awkward pauses and other single camera style acting tricks just as well as their single-camera native brethren?

    If anything, doing single camera is more of a fit for where Tim Allen is in his career now, and what he's been doing lately.

    • Oh, I don't think Allen would be bad at that kind of comedy, hence my saying he'd be a good fit if he wound up on The Office (which he won't). And you're right to point out the contradiction. On the other hand, while Allen has become a good actor for a stand-up comic, he's still a stand-up comic and I'd rather see him either do an all-out comedy again or pull a Ray Romano and try something more dramatic. (Movies are different because there's more time, in filming and testing, to make sure the timing works.)

      You're right to point out that I'm sort of contradicting myself, but while I still see the logic of old-style sitcom stars trying to do something different, I'm also a little tired of seeing people like Courteney Cox, Debra Messing and Matthew Perry use a format that doesn't fit their delivery and timing. Of course it all depends on whether they can get a decent vehicle in that single-camera format, like Patricia Heaton did.

  3. I also loved My Secret Identity. That was the only redeeming point to come out of that embarrassing Fred Fox column.