News, scoops, reviews and more from TV land.
"Dexter's" eighth and final season begins in just a month or so - June 30 - but until then, fans may content themselves with the final season trailer. And here it is!
"American Idol" viewership totals for the finale are in, and they are grim: A considerable drop from last year's final in both total viewers and the bread-and-butter young adult total.
Fox, to its credit, just sent out the figures, and didn't attempt to sugarcoat anything. This is one of those "it is what it is" situations, and no reason to apply a spin no one would believe anyway.
Last night’s finale was down 44 percent from last year's season finale in adults 18-49 and down 33 percent from last year’s season finale in total viewers (14.3 million vs. 21.5 million).
Let's put that 14.3 million in perspective. The fifth season finale (2006) was seen by 36.3 million viewers, and that wasn't even the high water mark. As recently as the 10th season (2011), "Idol" got 29 million for the wrap. Last season, the 11th, 21.5 million.
What's going on? Well, you have as much a clue as I. It's called "viewer disaffection," or in simpler terms, they've moved on to something else. And from here, things get more complicated.
Without question, the entire judging panel will change next season, but you have to ask yourself — Fox should — whether this is technically a "judging" issue. Theme nights will reportedly be dropped; but again, will that turn this around.
And quality? The final three were quite good. Candice Glover, who won, was and is excellent. Is this some sort of signal from the audience that they wanted the cute white guy with guitar back in the winner's circle? Sure. Maybe. There's long been an assumption that most of the people doing the voting are middle-aged folks from the south and Midwest who pick the guy they'd best like their daughter to bring home. Sorry Candice, you do not rate in that contest.
But even that's getting old by now. This could simply be a case of systemic decline and fall — not attributable to any single factor.
Shows that decline this rapidly, even cultural forces like "Idol," can never recapture their past glory and in fact have difficulty simply stanching further declines. This has to be of great concern to Fox and may well indicate a complete housecleaning. But again, you have to ask yourself: Will even that matter?
"The Office" finale? We must in the end take the good with the bad with only merely OK. And in the end, "The Office" finale was all of those things -- maybe that's the benefit, or drawback, of having an hour and 15 minutes to wrap.
It was, as expected, sweet and gentle. Pam's closing line was just about perfect: "There's a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn't that the point?" Steve Carell made a cameo -- after pointed denials by the showrunner that he would not come back because that would take the spotlight off the rest of the cast -- and it was a good one. Or "Gutenprank number 3," as Jim noted.
Michael had a good Michaelly kind of line too: "I feel like all my kids grew up and married each other. Every parent's dream..."
But the closer was, in the end, about closure -- and good feelings, and a sense of accomplishment and life's fundamental fairness, or at least "life" as defined by the confines of "The Office." It also wallowed in the closure, and good feelings and love, which very nearly smothered any impulse to actually be funny, which this finale only intermittently was.
Plus, I think -- may be wrong but still think -- there's a philosophical disconnect here. Wasn't "The Office" really about the fundamental absurdity of human affairs when humans are confined to a small space -- the petty knavery, stupidity, jealousy, avarice and everything else that, at the end of a brilliantly crafted 22-minute long show, makes for great comedy?
It was never about "closure" but "circularity:" it was about how people are defined by their character, and how their character rules their actions, even when those actions are counterproductive.
Ricky Gervais' "Office," which wrapped with a two-part "Christmas" episode, took a bitter view of the matter, finally resolving that humans, like rats, will always behave in familiar ways. But Greg Daniels' "Office" finally succumbed to the sentimentality of American television: That weddings will be had, people will smile, viewers will cry and -- fade out -- life will be affirmed. "The Office" was about love -- that's one of the things I loved about it -- but it was also about futility, which is another one of the things I loved about it. The characters were true to themselves: Growing only older, never wiser.
It's nice, I suppose, to know that Dwight turned into a decent and wise boss who gave Jim and Pam a generous severance. But it also rings profoundly false. It's nice to know that Pam finally agreed to let Jim join Darryl at Athlete in Austin, but it also feels like it was the obvious setup for a finale, which it was.
Daniels and the rest of this wonderful cast and crew almost certainly knew that no matter what they did, the finale is a fraught and perilous enterprise, where someone -- usually an ill-natured critic -- will find something to bitch about. But as the years roll by, I do often look back at the conclusion of "The Sopranos"for the genius that it was. Fade to black: Let viewers draw their own conclusions -- let them fill the void if they so choose. Great television isn't or shouldn't be about putting a nice bow on a package, so everyone can go to bed happy, satisfied, and have their expectations fulfilled. "The Sopranos" and David Chase, to his ultimate credit, refused to give them that, knowing that it would reorder all that had come before, and in some way establish what the entire show had been about all along. Should "The Office" have faded to black -- almost like you had turned off the show that these wonderful characters had starred in for nine years -- with inconclusive ends to Pam and Jim's story, and Dwight still being Dwight, and so on?
It's already been done but it would have also been the better way to finish this journey, recognizing that it was never about "happy endings" in the first place, but, to paraphrase the Greatful Dead, the long strange trip we are all on.
CW's big "The Vampire Diaries" spin-off - "The Originals,"- with Joseph Morgan, Daniel Gillies, Claire Holt et al - will land Tuesdays at 8, the network announced this morning. Also: A historic "period" drama will join the lineup. Historic? Period? On the CW?! Don't worry - historic and highly hormonal teens will be involved.
In other CW news...viewers...Read more »
"Under the Dome," one of the events of our TV summer, arrives June 24 on CBS, but the trailer arrives right now. Check it out. I think this'll be good - who doesn't love anything by Stephen King (this was adapted from the 2009 novel)? - but I simply can't help but think of "The Simpsons Movie" whenever I think of this...
USA has ordered a handful of comedies, to bow in 2014. That's a first for the network which has long ceded the sitcom to rivals like TNT or FX. There are three - or two, and a pilot order. Quickly, they are: "Sirens," from Denis Leary (not starring) and Bob Fisher; about EMS crews in Chicago; "Playing House,' with Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair, about two close pals who rediscover their friendship; and an order for "Love is Dead," a rom-com about a company that breaks up romances... Why comedies and why now? Because "Modern Family" reruns will air on USA starting Sept. 24, and obviously USA is looking for companions...
And so it has come to the end, as it must for all good things. The end: "The Office" wraps nine seasons tonight, and some of us are wistful, some of us could care less, and some of us stopped watching years ago. I fall squarely in the wistful camp, and this morning offer this random collection of "what I'll miss the most" thoughts about the show. For the purposes...Read more »
And here they are...CBS's newcomers. Mostly comedies...
Reason # 749 in the ongoing list of "Why Covering TV can be both Strange And Exhilarating and Vaguely Disturbing, All at the Same Time": Ozzy Osbourne just might do a cameo some day on a CBS crime procedural.
And it's happened! Ozzy Osbourne will do a cameo on tonight's "CSI." Amazing, and we do have a brand new clip. Needless to say, tonight's "CSI" finale is not one to miss . . . Ozzy is in the house.
Quick overview of this cliffhanger: D.B. (Ted Danson) and team must go undercover, and by undercover we mean a Black Sabbath concert.
ABC yesterday revealed to the world its fall lineup and right now TVZone reveals to the world a few clips from said lineup. It's always fun to watch these, if only to get an instant vibe about what will work and what will not.
This is not necessarily a surefire way of determining winners — if memory serves, the "Modern Family" tease underwhelmed years ago — but the indication is...Read more »