What Exactly Constitutes a “Comeback”?

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don't call it a comeback. no, really. don't.

Only caught a little bit of the Grammys last night in between getting the kids to bed and Walking Dead, but I did catch Justin Timberlake’s performance. It was good, but why are we getting all hot and bothered over the “JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE COMEBACK!“? And yes, the exclamation point, all-caps and bold are all necessary since no one in the last 24 hours has said it’s the “Justin Timberlake comeback,” in a low, mumbling tone. They say, “JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE COMEBACK!” and scream it so that you know exactly who we’re all talking about. Anyway, I think we’re not taking the word “comeback” literally enough. You have to have been gone for some period of time for it to be a comeback. JT never left. He left music, yeah, but when did he leave your TV? What talk show did he not appear on (none, he was on all of the, like twice a day, for the last five years)? How many movies was he in (12 since 2006, when Sexy Back was out)? So what’s he coming back from? Making movies in Hollywood? That must have been a tough transition! And it’s only been seven years! You can’t listen to KRZ for a day without hearing Sexy Back at least twice, like it was still on the charts or something. We didn’t even have time to miss him. It’s just not a comeback. It’s a new album. The song is just OK, the performance was actually pretty cool, but geez, let’s all take a step back here, guys. It’s not like Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr got on stage to jam for a while and then announced a new album.

I jumped off Up All Night long, long ago, and never looked back. I sporadically caught some episodes because my wife kept up on it, but who in their right mind would think it’s a good idea to go from a single-camera, no-laugh-track format to a traditional multi-camera format? At this point, when you’ve already bled viewers and are on the brink of cancellation anyway, do you think you can actually change people’s minds about the show? This reeks of one of the worst decisions I can ever remember in TV — inserting a canned laugh track into Sports Night “so that people knew where to laugh.” The result was the most awkward TV show ever filmed, at least until Parental Control hit the airwaves on MTV. One person who didn’t believe the format change was a good idea — Christina Applegate. The star of the show decided to walk last week, presumably leaving a steaming pile of poop in her dressing room with a note next to it saying, “This is what I think of your idea.” Now Will Arnett is forced to soldier on by himself with a replacement actress, since, you know, that’s always worked so well. Has that ever worked, where a new actor came on to replace the old actor in the same part? Three off the top of my head:

1. Darrin on Bewitched, which was awkward, but no one really cared because he was just there to be called Derwood or whatever.

2. Vivian on Fresh Prince, which was REALLY awkward because she wasn’t as hot, funny or talented as the first lady who played the part.

i always forget this actually happened

3. Becky on Roseanne, which I don’t even remember because I had long checked out of Roseanne by the time Sarah Chalke came in to play the role after the first girl had done the first four years, then I think she quit so she could go to college or something.

So let’s just say this move is likely to backfire.

That wasn’t the news NBC wanted to hear after it suffered through just a horrible, horrible week. Smash debuted its second season (without The Voice to bolster ratings) and was down an incredible 70 percent from its debut last year. That’s unheard of. Deception might be the dumbest show I’ve tried to watch this season and its ratings fall further each week. But the gut punch is Do No Harm. The alternate personality show (which I reviewed very unfavorably a couple weeks ago before it aired) first hit as the lowest-rated debut for a scripted TV series on any of the Big Four networks, then somehow lost even more viewers in the second episode. NBC rightfully canceled it and decided to just go with a blank screen for an hour on Thursdays from 10 to 11, correctly assuming that would draw more viewers, be more interesting and be much cheaper to produce. Shockingly, NBC had high hopes for this show, even though it was an unadulterated mess of plot holes and bad acting. Is anyone watching these shows before they go on the air? Like, really watching them? Someone that can ask questions like, “Isn’t a ridiculous conflict of interest for an FBI agent to go undercover into a home where she was best friends with the daughter, lovers with the son and thought of as a quasi-daughter? Wouldn’t a second grader know that anything she finds would be thrown out in court?” The answer is yes — I’m still regretting the 45 minutes I spent watching Deception. Hopefully NBC is regretting the decision to put it on the air. I’ve been saying for a while now that it’s perfectly believable that NBC could just up and go off the air. That’s how bad it is there, and now other people are starting to talk about that too.

this probably won't be happening as much on the new show. because, you know, we're all like grown up and stuff.

The G4 network was at a crossroads before it decided to become the Esquire Network. It has been around for about 10 years, so the gamers and nerds that had loved it when they were 20 now were 30 and hadn’t picked up an xBox controlled in five years. This is what happened with MTV in the early 90s, its core group of fans that grew up with it in the 80s were finally burning their parachute pants, which proved remarkably easy, all they had to do was a light a match within 10 feet of those things and they went up like kindling. Anyway, instead of growing up with its core audience, MTV decided to thumb its nose at anyone over 40, and just keeping finding what the kids wants. MTV had the luxury to do that, they were universally known as the “cool” channel and everybody wanted to be there. G4? They don’t have that kind of cache. It has an audience to cater to, one that will dwindle if they keep sticking with its rep as the video game channel, even though it hasn’t functioned that way for years. A complete rebranding while not really changing much of who you cater to is probably the way to go.

Olivia Munn in the Princess Leia slave bikini is a perfect transition into the news that, to the shock of exactly no one, Disney had much, much more aggressive/lucrative plans for the Star Wars franchise. Disney is not just making the next three movies in the series, but is going ahead with stand-alone movies based on famous Star Wars characters — like Han Solo and Boba Fett. I said it back at the time, but you don’t spend $4 billion on something just to make three movies. They can easily turn this into releasing a Star Wars movie every year, or even twice a year — much like how the Avengers franchise has been handled since Iron Man in 2008. I’m on board 100 percent with Han, but don’t envy the person who plays him. Every agent in town is going to have their clients running screaming from that part. I’ll never, ever understand the obsession some fans have with Boba Fett. He’s got about five minutes of screen time between two movies, carelessly gets eaten by the Sarlacc, doesn’t really do much except flutter into space in a pile of garbage … what gives? I know there’s a lot of fan fiction based in his universe, but then I’d have to do reading and stuff.

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