Upfronts 2014: FOX, NBC what are you doing?

Let’s start network-wide. Fox and NBC swapped for me in the past year, NBC going from a favorite, most watched network, to me having one show next season (the mid-season, finale season Parks debacle…). While FOX went from me abandoning several of it’s shows due to reordering episodes and demanding stasis in characters that achieved character development to the network I have the most shows I am interested in this fall. And FOX pulled me in with the commitment and success in diversity. So let’s talk about what they’re doing this fall.

NBC– honey, what are you doing? They’ve cancelled most of their comedies, leaving Parks and Recreation, their current longest running sitcom as a mid-season replacement in it’s finale season. According to the schedule listed in the link on Vulture, there are only 4 comedies on the schedule, split between Tuesday and Thursday 9-10 comedy hours. What? Has NBC given up on reclaiming it’s must-see-tv fame? I suppose it wasn’t working, but it kills me that not one of the four comedies is Parks. What a way to alienate your little comedy fanbase. Why not use Parks and the final season momentum to pull your existing fans over to new shows? You now have to do the work to get non-NBC comedy watchers (those who didn’t watch 30 Rock and Community and Parks in the hey-day of low-rated but cult favorite comedies). I suppose they no longer want those fans. They want new ones entirely. Or they’re trying to sustain the network on the Voice, Dick Wolf, and the Blacklist until they figure out something that works. But, to me, it doesn’t seem like they’ve found the formula yet. I’ll see you mid-season, NBC, when you put Parks and Recreation back on the schedule. (Let’s face it, it’s a cancelled-new-show replacement. As soon as one of the new comedies fail, they’ll stick Parks in the 9pm comedy spot until the rest of the season is done. More on Parks later.

 

 

FOX, homie, you’re doing a lot of things right, but one thing feels very wrong. I will be watching seven FOX shows this fall. That’s more than any other network and more than I’ve ever watched FOX. They’ve been getting some good, diversely cast comedies in these past couple of seasons. New Girl confirmed Damon Wayans Jr as the 6th member of the cast, rounding them out to Friends proportions, The Mindy Project had a strong finale with lots of possibility, and Brooklyn 99 came out of the gate with comedy, diversity, and heart. So why are they sending Brooklyn 99 to the Sunday animation slot?! It seems ridiculous to me. Vulture says,

There’s logic behind this year’s changes: Family Guy is pretty much a multi-camera sitcom that happens to be animatedand Mulaney is multi-cam; Brooklyn is sophisticated single-cam that could mesh with the sensibility of The Simpsons. And once Fox picked up both Brooklyn and The Mindy Project, it was obvious one would either move or wait until midseason: Fox simply doesn’t have the comedy strength to support a two-hour sitcom block on Tuesdays.

But that seems absurd. I definitely think they could sustain it. But even if it can’t, splitting the comedies into the animation block disturbs something that’s been working on FOX for years now. Animation fans won’t necessarily hold up these fresh comedies and when was the last time comedies aired on a Sunday night?! This makes me nervous for both BK99 and Mulaney (which I may watch), because they’re basically hiding it in the schedule. No one looks for comedies on Sunday nights. That’s typically a Feature film, Sports, Drama night. FOX made success with animation as alternative programming to this trend, but this upcoming change might break both the animation block and the comedies they want to succeed. Sigh. There are few shows I want to succeed more than Brooklyn 99. I hope they just suck it up and block the comedies together.

Schedules change, often by November sweeps when networks figure out what’s working and what’s getting cancelled. So we’ll see if this remains the schedule for the fall. But both networks are boggling my mind.

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Brief Response to: What every TV show can learn from Sleepy Hollow – The Week

What every TV show can learn from Sleepy Hollow – The Week.

Thank you Laura (the author of this article) for pointing out all the reasons why I love Sleepy Hollow and for not ignoring all the things all those other articles have been ignoring about the show. It’s diversity in race AND in female characters are both the biggest reasons why it’s doing so well, it’s social media and the storyline are important, but if the leads were both white men, it wouldn’t be doing as well as it is.

Some points from the article that I loved:

First and foremost, the series boasts one of the most diverse casts anywhere on television. Two of its four series regulars are African-American (Nichole Beharie and Orlando Jones), while all three of its most frequently recurring characters — played by John Cho, Lyndie Greenwood, and Nicholas Gonzalez — are people of color.

Even Grey’s Anatomy, probably the other highly diverse show on television (I can’t even think of others besides the one I will point out next), doesn’t have the percentages of PoCs/whites as this show does. PoC’s have the higher percentage on this show, Grey’s (this is definitely not an official count, just a gut opinion) probably runs 50/50? I think the other show that can boast great diversity on Sleepy Hollow’s level is Brooklyn 99, which has 2 white guys and 1 white woman in it’s main cast of 7; the rest are PoCs.

The same study observed that shows with the highest percentage of racial diversity in their casts also performed better in the ratings than shows with less inclusive casts. As the study’s author, Darnell Hunt, pointed out: “It’s clear that people are watching shows that reflect and relate to their own experiences.”

Why does no one in Hollywood want to admit this is a true thing or do anything about it? Hopefully networks will follow FOX’s example (something I am loathe to normally say– I don’t agree with some of their other storytelling traditions)

It’s as if women can maintain relationships without being defined by who they’re dating — a novel concept!

Love this line. While most of the conversations between these women actually do revolve around Ichabod (which is of course going to be the case–not a fault but a necessity), it would totally pass the Bechdel test (if perhaps, the Headless Horseman were a woman). Their conversations aren’t necessarily about their relationships with the men, but about how to save them (or destroy them).

Jones has embraced fan fiction, fan art, gifs, and the art of “shipping” — for bothSleepy Hollow and similarly fan-friendly shows like Supernatural — endearing himself to the show’s growing audience and helping to bring fan activities that were once considered niche or somehow shameful into the mainstream, reducing the stigma that’s still generally attached to demonstrating your appreciation for a piece of pop culture.

I’ve definitely appreciated OJs commitment to the fandom. I’ve been a part of various fandoms in my life, but always in secret (well–some parts in secret. I am an obvious nerd about a lot of things, but I have read fanfiction, for example, but don’t really talk about it because of what the author says: the stigma of fan activities. I definitely downplay some of my fan ways, which may lead people who know me to go “it could get worse?!” ;-)). So, while I haven’t delved that deeply into the Sleepy Hollow fandom, I appreciate that others are allowed to voice their opinions, share their work, and interact with the stars of the show, because pop culture and fandom make people feel less alone in the world. It really brings people together, so it’s nice that the sources of these feelings encourage it.

This article has some other gems, including:

Despite it being their number one new show, the network wisely decided that a less-is-more approach was more prudent, commissioning a second season without insisting on a back-nine episode order — a risk that might have led to a reduction in quality as the writers attempted to stretch a 13-episode story into 22 installments. Far too many network series wear out fans with too many meandering episodes, but Fox has ensured that Sleepy Hollow will leave viewers wanting more instead of overstaying its welcome.

I agree with this sentiment, it is better to let them control 13 episodes of story than to force them to then expand it into 22, which definitely messes many shows up; many writer’s rooms aren’t adept at handling that transition. This will be better for Sleepy Hollow and the fans in the long-run.

I am glad there is finally an article that speaks of all the points that make Sleepy Hollow the show to watch this season.

ConStar Watches Sleepy Hollow “The Midnight Ride”

This week’s Sleepy Hollow was a solid episode with lots of forward movement. We’re just over halfway through the season and they’ve already caught the Horseman. I know there are three more horseman on the way, but it makes me wonder where they can go the rest of the season. I’m anxious with anticipation!

First, check out my recap here: Can Sleepy Hollow Cover Your Favorite Moments of American History?

Favorite Quotes

“You paid? For water. […] the extent to which your generation has defiled this earth is truly mind boggling.”

The entirety of Ichabod’s voicemail, styled as a formal letter.

“I will not leave this earth with him still on it!”

“It was a mere inquiry.”

“The warning all the riders gave, as discretely as possible, was “the regulars are coming” NOT “the British are coming!” See, we too were british at the time, so that would have been most unhelpful.”

“Highly acclaimed dentist. The man was a silversmith. That’s the last person you’d want poking around in your mouth.”

“There’s good news and bad news. Which do you want first?” “Is this a riddle?”

“My cousin Steve forgot to take his medication this morning.”

I loved this line because of the obvious. He’s white and she’s black. And while there was no real time to deal with that simple throw-away line, it doesn’t get a response. They could be cousins. We know they’re not, but they could be. No questions that the two of them are together, in any fashion And the fact that she (and the writer’s) throw it out there with no regards to their difference in races is what I love. Because we don’t get opportunities for black characters and white characters to interact the way these two do. I don’t know. I just really liked that they threw that in there.

When Ichabod was trying to figure out the cypher, he gets really snippy with Abbie. I think this was really interesting because, in the promo for next week, it seems Ichabod is cracking under all the pressure. Introducing it in this episode is a great way to lead up to it organically rather than having us wonder next week where his outbursts come from. He’s been so cool under the “adjustment” (as he put it) so far, but he clearly feels out of place (as per his conversation with Abbie) and all of the craziness is beginning to get to him. I don’t think it helped that that website popped up and Abbie reminded him of his wife. Being without Katrina and knowing that she’s just out of place, trapped in that limbo, must also really frustrate him.

“Hey sexy. Wanna chat?” “I’m flattered but I’m afraid I am currently espoused to another.”

Do you mean Katrina? Or Abbie? lol

“Too bad we can’t summon your wife.” “Yes the thought had crossed my mind, thank you. Though not as a means to defeat our present enemy.”

As I said above, I’m sure this… pop-up… didn’t help with his frustrations… Careful Abbie, touchy subject. Though I wonder. Does Crane have any descendants we don’t know about yet? Could Katrina have gotten pregnant after his suspension in death?

The conversation Crane has with Abbie and Captain Irving are other reasons I appreciate this show and what it’s doing. They recognized that Crane supported abolition in the pilot, but it seems he thought everyone else did too. He must have had a desire to see the best in his comrades. He didn’t know about Jefferson’s infidelity with his slaves or the many descendants he has. (Watch this Key and Peele Acenstry.com sketch RIGHT NOW) Poor Ichabod also had to deal with dropping one of his mentors off a pedestal. I hope there is more of that. So far, we’ve have Ichabod schooling the moderners on how it really was in the Revolutionary Era, but there are things history teaches us that he wouldn’t know about his own people. More scenes like this would be great for the contrast and to disavow him of some of his hero worship.

I really loved the cinematography/direction of the horse-chase. The swivel of the camera when the Horseman stalks Ichabod down the tunnel was fantastic.

What episodes of American History would you like to see featured on Sleepy Hollow? If they could go to any time in our nation’s history, what incidents lend best to this show’s themes? Obviously some National Treasure/Lincoln Assassination stuff would be applicable. Maybe some Columbus era stuff that really reveals his awful character. Actually, they could definitely bring Pestilence back for that one! The two were teamed up! (Maybe I just planned my first Sleepy Hollow spec script?!)

The Diversity of the Sleepy Hollow Cast Makes Me So Happy

The Sleepy Hollow cast is just all I want from television right now. A diverse cast with (maybe not perfect) but interesting story lines, putting people of color in stories they are not often seen in. I also like nerdy history retellings, supernatural/fantasy stories, and Judeo-Christian lore.

But I mean look at this! Only 3/9 (10 if including Jill Marie Jones soon to recur as Orlando Jones’ character’s ex-wife, 2/9 if you don’t include the Sheriff who was only in the pilot, aside from flashbacks.)

This show and Brooklyn 99 are the best shows (especially new shows) in terms of diversity on network television. Grey’s Anatomy has always been good at it, but I think even these two shows beat out Grey’s.

Sleepy Hollow returns tonight! I’m excited to have it back!