Wait, is American Idol Leaving Too?

I can’t believe how much news I let pile up. But let’s try to blow through it, there might not be a ton of commentary for every item.

One note: There is a very spoiler-heavy review of the crazy Vampire Diaries season finale at the bottom of this, so if you haven’t seen it yet and plan on watching it, or if you don’t watch it at all, it’s easy to avoid. The only thing I’ll say is — THAT is how you kick off Finale Season. To avoid giving away spoilers, that’s probably how I’ll review all of the season finales, throwing it down at the bottom of the blog post so as not to give anything away to unsuspecting DVR fans. I’m not counting the first of the two-part finales to Fringe and 30 Rock last night just yet.

On to the links:

the line for the "lost and 24 are gone" support groups is starting to form

the line for the "lost and 24 are gone" support groups is starting to form

It’s not hyperbole in any way to call Lost and 24 two of the top 50 TV shows of all time when you pull their entire repertoires together — ratings, rabid fan support, critical acclaim, show quality, legendary characters, all that good stuff. So it’s natural we’d want them both to end on the biggest, best high note possible, right? If they don’t, the fact that they’re ending on consecutive nights in a little more than a week (May 23 for Lost and May 24 for 24) won’t just be sad — it can send people who are fans of both shows into catatonic shock. I was devastated in 1998 when the shows formerly known as NewsRadio and Homicide: Life on the Street both ended with a couple weeks of each in May 1999, and those shows were on their last legs. Lost and 24 are still churning out high-quality material — yes, even 24 the last couple weeks — so if you’re a fan of both shows, you’re initially on a crazy high with the finales, but come May 25, you’ll start dealing with losing Jack and Locke forever. If fans don’t get proper sendoffs, it won’t be pretty. Remember the two-week fallout from Sopranos, a show watched by an average of about 4 million people each week? Combine the viewers of 24 and Lost and you’re talking about 25 million people weekly, and about 50 million that will tune in the for the finales. That could be 50 million people complaining about another black-screen trick. Maybe I’ll run an online chat on May 25 to try and keep people from hopping off the Interboro Bridge.

Actually, let’s book that — 11 a.m. May 25, online chat right here talking about all the season/series finales, a recap of the upfront presentations, summer movies and anything else on your pop culture minds. Don’t worry, this for sure won’t be the last time you hear about it, not by a longshot. There have been whispers of doing a weekly PopRox chat but I’ve resisted because for the most part, online chats at the Record are not always well-attended. I should know, I’ve run most of them. But if we get a good turnout and participation, maybe we will do it once a week, or at least once a month. So start getting those questions in your head now.

i'd have trouble naming three people on the show anymore

i'd have trouble naming three people on the show anymore

Two big TV losses for fans isn’t even counting the possible departure of Law and Order since I’m under 60 and haven’t watched it since Chris Noth left (the first time, back in like ’94). But if NBC does decide to cancel the show, we’re talking about three major TV institutions of the last 20 years that will be ending in the next couple weeks. I can’t remember that ever happening before. If NBC does cancel L&O — we’ll find out Monday at NBC’s upfront presentation — it will be the clear signal that the network is completely blowing up its schedule and reinventing itself. It also wouldn’t be surprising since NBC is picking up show after show after show, leaving little real estate for holdovers, although Chuck looks like it will be back next year. An L&O cancellation could also be a sign that Comcast has some pull in the decision. L&O reruns have always been a big money-maker for Comcast programming competitor Turner, so why bother giving them anything new to make money off? That’s the conspiracy theorist in me. Just sayin’.

Heroes is completely lost in the shuffle, but if NBC axes the show that submarined at record speed, at least it’s been gone for a couple months and fans have had time to let it sink it that the show probably won’t be back. And at least they’re talking about a TV movie to wrap up loose ends. I’ve said it before — when NBC gets its next hit, there will be 100-page manuals hand-delivered to everyone in the company about how to avoid turning it into the next Heroes.

I never thought The Sarah Silverman Show was that funny. I’ve never even thought she was very funny. So the show getting canceled isn’t that big a deal, it’s just for information sake to the two or three people who watched it. I don’t know, is this funny? I don’t really think so. Holly-weird? Really?

I’d suspect even less people care about Happy Town being pulled from ABC’s schedule until the summer. Tough to believe it ever had a shot in the first place as anything other than a summer burn-off. 

UPDATE 11:28 PM: Looks like today’s line at the chopping block just got a little longer. ABC seems to have dumped Scrubs, Better Off Ted, Romantically Challenged and Flash Forward. If you’re surprised about any of those, you just haven’t been paying attention. No one watched Scrubs or Ted, episodes of RC have been shuffled/pulled and three different people have run the laughable FlashForward. Sucks for Scrubs, but this season just didn’t work. At all. Not the way it should have gone out. At all.

NOT a disappointment by any stretch

NOT a disappointment by any stretch

The thin line between things like hype, performance and expectations crashed together over the weekend with the Iron Man 2 release. The expectations that it possibly could surpass The Dark Knight for the biggest opening weekend were out there, be they realistic or not. So when the final numbers came in as a $128 million opening weekend— a very big $5 million less than had been anticipated, about $30 million less than Dark Knight — the same places that foolishly predicted it could top Dark Knight jumped on the bandwagon of disappointment. No one expected Dark Knight to go that berserk when it came out. The $158 million it made during its debut weekend was a 110-percent shock to everyone. In fact, here’s the quote from the Warner Bros. big wig: “It just took on a life of its own,” said Dan Fellman, Warner’s president for theatrical distribution. “You never expect anything like this.” That’s how these things happen — by surprise, not expectation. So for anyone to say that because an ancillary Marvel character didn’t produce the biggest opening weekend ever that the movie’s performance is a disappointment is more of a douche than Charles Logan. At the same time, let’s not start thinking it’s going to be in the top spot forever. If Robin Hood doesn’t beat it this weekend — I don’t think it will — Shrek Forever After will the next weekend.

Whoops, wrong title, and for some reason, I can’t find one news story on the fact that the title of the fourth Shrek movie coming out has changed from Shrek Forever After to Shrek the Final Chapter. Weird. But there you have it. Not a good sign when a movie changes its title a week before its release.

The train wreck theory of life is tried and true — people want to see others make complete @sses of themselves. We don’t know why — it’s how we’re programmed. But they only want to see that if they’re in on the joke. If people can’t even tell if there is a joke to be had, we get confused, befuddled, and we tune out before you can say “Celebrity Boxing.” Such is the problem with whatever is going on with Joaquin Phoenix. After a festival screening of Casey Affleck’s documentary about his brother-in-law, Phoenix was so over the top that people watching thought it was an act and found it not funny in any way, but completely sad. Who wants to see that? I sat through Precious once, I don’t think I’ll be sitting through anything like that again for quite some time, especially when (if?) it’s real.

OK, here’s the Vampire Diaries finale recap with the required …

ok, you got me. i

ok, you got me. i'll be back next year

MAJOR VAMPIRE DIARIES SPOILER WARNING, I’M ABOUT TO GIVE AWAY THE TWIST ENDING, GO AWAY IF IT’S SITTING ON YOUR DVR: I consider myself a twist breaker. I’m one of the people who predicts the major twist of any plotline a minute or two before it happens to the annoyance of anyone watching the show/movie with me. I can’t help it. It’s what I do.

So here’s how the last 30 seconds of Vampire Diaries went for me last night: HOLY S—! Jaw on the floor for about 20 seconds while the real Elena walks in the house which turns into … I’M SO EFFING STUPID FOR NOT SEEING THIS COMING!!!

What sucks is that I did see it coming. Weeks ago, I knew they wouldn’t be able to end this season without introducing Katherine in some way. But I got so wrapped up in the show last night, it completely slipped my mind while I was watching her chop off John Gilbert’s fingers then slice her way through his stomach, thankfully ensuring he won’t be back next year with that stupid immortality ring or whatever it is.

I spent the next couple seconds flashing back to all the signs the show’s writers included that basically begged the viewer to know this was Katherine. The Damon kiss that didn’t make a lick of sense. Damon’s subtle “Umm, that was a little too familiar” reaction to said kiss. Katherine’s different hair style. Her leather shirt. HER LEATHER SHIRT! They jacked one of my favorite devices from Angel — always putting him in leather pants when he turned into evil vampire Angelus — and I still didn’t realize it. I’ve been kicking myself since last night and dammit, I’m still not over it.

But that’s the sign of a good twist. When I’ve been thinking for weeks that something like this would happen, it happens, and I’m still shocked. Well done, Vampire Diaries. Well done.

In the process, the show catapulted itself into the mix of shows like Lost and 24 where you can’t get too attached to the characters because they could be dead by the end of the week. Three deaths last night — THREE! — of characters who were at least moderately important. Anna, the mayor, John Gilbert — and that doesn’t even count the possibility that either Jeremy and/or Caroline might not be making it through the night. Add on the semi-quick deaths earlier this season of Vicki, Pearl and Grams (or whatever Whitley’s real name was) and that’s at least six quasi-important characters who bit it in the first season of the show. At this rate, there won’t be anyone left for a third season.

All that said, the show is still stealing straight from Buffy and Angel — the fireworks scene was a little too close to Buffy’s graduation scenefor my comfort — to the point where Joss Whedon is going to be calling his lawyers within the next hour or so. Still, it was one of the coolest shows of year in a season where there will only be about three or four freshman network shows to get a second year. FINALE GRADE: A-. SEASON GRADE: B+.

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