I really wanted to do the second part of the State of the TV post today, but I’ve accumulated so much news over the last couple days — news you may have missed — that I just can’t avoid going straight links today.
Did you know Due Date starts this weekend? No, really, it does! And that the director of The Hangover directed it? He did! The holiday movie season — of which I gave a decent preview for in last Sunday’s Record — gets started this weekend with what probably is one of the most intense TV marketing campaigns I’ve ever seen. It’s probably because my TV viewing skews very masculine and that’s the target audience of Due Date. I’m not sure how many times the teaser commercial was shown on Grey’s Anatomy last night, but I know on Sons of Anarchy the last couple weeks it’s been featured in just about every commercial break, even cranking out a full two-minute trailer a couple times. Even with that marketing campaign, it’s probably not going to beat out Megamind, and the only place I can remember seeing Megamind press was Will Ferrell on ESPN College Gameday last Saturday. Due Date should — should — beat For Colored Girls, but even that’s not a given because of the Tyler Perry drawing power.
The fifth freshman casualty of the TV season got sent to the electric chair Thursday afternoon when NBC canceled Undercovers, which clearly should have been called “Underperforming.” That would have made things a lot easier and a lot funnier. Plus, whenever I think of a “freshman” show getting the cancellation beatdown I think of the incoming freshman in Dazed and Confused getting their posteriors paddled with Ben Affleck laughing maniacally in the background and No More Mr. Nice Guy blaring. Then it gets really funny …
… The show — which I admittedly never got a chance to see — was a semi-casualty of the botched Jay Leno 10 p.m. experiment. While no one was watching NBC last year, the other networks established beachheads on just about every night that would now take bulldozers to get out of the way. Undercovers got swallowed whole by the rest of the entrenched Wednesday schedule — ABC’s comedy block, CBS’s move of Survivor and Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen. You can say NBC wasted its freshman show with the best pedigree against a schedule like that, but where else were they going to put it? Friday? Saturday? It’s the seventh show created/produced by JJ Abrams, and only the second one that didn’t get a second season (the nearly unwatchable Six Degrees was the first). Abrams shows aren’t supposed to get bad ratings. If they do, it ain’t his fault. The Jay Leno debacle has set NBC back five years.
And it doesn’t look like it’s getting any better for NBC with these three on the schedule for pilot season next year. As usual, the situation is explained best by AVClub, a website you’d think I had stock in the way I plug it so much. But obviously, the site is not a fan of Chelsea Handler. I liked her better when she was a little less known, but that doesn’t mean she’s not funny. Although it is funny that within a year of breaking up with the head of E! she’s already making deals with other networks.
Hey, did someone mention Jay Leno? Then it’s time to start Operation “Get Leno Off the Air,” officially beginning Monday when Conan starts his TBS late night show Monday. As funny as Conan’s version of The Tonight Show was — and it was funny — it stil wasn’t as good as his freewheeling Late Night show. Hopefully the TBS version is more like the Late Night Show instead of The Tonight Show. Even in his best times on The Tonight Show, Conan always seemed like he had a harness with reigns on his back that he thought could be pulled at any time. It will be nice to see him without the saddle this time. And of course, it will be nice to see Triumph.
I don’t know why, but I find this Don Draper “What” video hysterical. At one point last season I thought that he was saying “What” more often than the usual person, and apparently I was right. It gets a smidge boring, but the best one is the last one so you need to stick around.
This is probably the best list of “Indie Movies You Need to See in 2010” about a month before actual top 10 lists and award nominations start coming out. There are about 15 on here, but there’s only one problem — you can’t catch up on hardly any of them right now. Of the movies most prominently mentioned, only Winter’s Bone is out on DVD right now, though The Kids Are Alright comes out on Tuesday. Just about everything else won’t even come to theaters for at least a couple weeks. Hopefully Pocono Community Theater or maybe Casino Theatre will be getting some of these movies in, like Black Swan, Rabbit Hole, Blue Valentine and Somewhere. PCT already played Winters Bone, Please Give, Kids Are Alright and a couple others mentioned in the story. That’s a hint, people. If you wanna keep tabs on your indie movie list, you can do it at PCT.
On the topic of movie theaters, for those of you on the mountain that were looking for an extra 3-D option or just another theater choice and you don’t mind driving a half-hour or so, there’s a new theater-- the first IMAX theater in Northeast Pennsylvania -- in the Viewmont Crossings in Dickson City just outside Scranton. Your first option should always be to patronize the local theaters — but the first regional IMAX theater might be pretty tough to resist for some of us. Especially those of us that haven’t seen an IMAX movie yet (me).
As long as we’re on the topic of Indie movies, I’m convinced Danny Boyle will never get the credit he deserves because he’s stuck between two movie worlds. He doesn’t get indie cred because even though his movies are mostly made independently, they end up hitting a nerve and going mainstream. Trainspotting, Slumdog — those are decidedly indie-type movies that were so good they were seen by way more people than anyone thought they would be, so strictly indie directors don’t accept him into their fraternity. At the same time, he’s also got this Ed Burns thing going where even some of his indie movies — I’m thinking specifically of Millions — don’t seem like indies because they don’t have people climbing out of toilets in effed up dream sequences. But if you can tell me that Trainspotting resembles anything close to a mainstream movie, I’ll tell you you’re crazy. So he’s kind of stuck in this Gus Van Sant place where he is a decidedly indie director, but every now and then one of them will bust out Good Will Hunting or Slumdog Millionaire, indie movies that can be accepted by a mainstream audience. All I know is I’m interested to see 127 Hours and will continue to patronize Danny Boyle movies as long as he keeps putting them out there. He’s earned it.
If you’re running too cheap a production to get Hollywood heavyweights in the major roles of a major movie like Spider-Man, then why not just get them to play supporting roles? Maybe that’s the thought behind latching on to Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben Parker and Sally Field as Aunt May. They’ve both already famously done the Wise Old Sage thing, Sheen in Wall Street and Field in Forrest Gump, so it’s not a stretch by any means. Although I don’t think Peter will be told about how his curse of Spider-Man is like a box of chocolates, and I don’t think Sheen will tell Peter his girlfriend is a whore. I’m already getting to the Spider-Man saturation point and it won’t be in theaters for another 20 months. 20 MONTHS!!!
More two-years-away news. MGM, fresh of rejecting yet another takeover bid, says it plans to have another James Bond movie in theaters by 2012. The next Bond movie originally had been slated for this holiday season, got pushed back to next year because of the MGM issues, and now may be coming out in 2012. I’m assuming holidays 2012 because that’s where the last however many Bond movies have been released. Then, the company says it will release another Bond movie every two years. Why should we believe them? Daniel Craig apparently saw exactly where this was headed a long time ago and signed up for a bunch of potential franchises -- Golden Compass, Cowboys and Aliens, Adventures of Tintin and the American version of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo -- in some kind of desperate, passive aggressive plea to be saved from the Bond franchise. “Ooooooo, sorry guys, I can’t do 2012, I’m all booked. How ’bout 2025, does that work? Oh, no, you have to find someone else? That’s too bad (wipes away fake tear). I really, really wanted to do this!“ All strapping British actors might want to get their Bond resumes ready.
One more bit of AVClub humor on the latest quest to save a TV show from cancellation that will fall very short. Fans of Caprica — all 25 of them — will be sending apples to the Syfy offices in some kind of effort to keep the doctor away or something. I know I only watched the first four or five episodes before checking out, but I don’t remember apples ever being a part of the show. Maybe they should have sent cigarettes since the only person on TV who smoked more than the people on Caprica is Maddie Weston on Burn Notice (which comes back Thursday).
Perhaps no one has noticed that Kiefer Sutherland is only like 5-foot-6. No seriously, he is. He’s listed at 5-foot-9, but from all accounts it’s more like 5-foot-6. 24 producers were able to use fancy camera tricks for eight years to make Jack Bauer actually look menacing despite pygmy-type height, but there’s no shooting from the sky on Broadway. You are as tall as you are. Being the good Scranton boy I am, I’ve seen That Championship Season a couple times in a couple different formats, and I don’t remember any jokes about the point guard who hasn’t grown since his sophomore year in high school. Or any Muggsy Bogues or Spud Webb jokes. Maybe Sutherland is a new character, the Ollie-type manager who never got to play. It’s pretty cool though that Jason Patric (ewwwwwwwwww) is in the show, since he’s Jason Miller’s son.