Sunday, May 07, 2006

Short Takes - May 7, 2006

I keep falling behind on trying to get the West Wing thing done, not to mention my TV On DVD list, which won't be out again this week. Big hearty sigh. I'm going to blame it on the weather around here, which has been hot for early May and the resulting other distractions for my time. I guess it's easier to write when it's 20 below and a serious wind chill, and a foot of snow that needs to be shovelled on the ground. Still, here are a few short takes from the week.

CW dumping Reba? My fellow blogger Ian J. Ball reported this (with the usual amount of glee that he reserves for anything negative related to this show - sorry Ian, but I like it when I get the chance to see it) but the actual source is something called Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily. She(?) reports that despite the fact that the show was renewed by the WB last year for a two year period, and the fact that when the UPN/WB merger was announced Les Moonves stated that he expected that the contract would be honoured by the new CW network, and the fact that Reba is the highest rated sitcom on either UPN or The WB, the CW now wants out of the deal. According to Finke's article "in mid-April, the CW execs told Fox they wanted out of the deal - the reason being that the show doesn't attract "the desired demographic" the new network wants tuning in." Fox refuses to break the contract without a sizable payment as required by the renewal contract. Finke reports that "Officially, the show is not canceled yet. But the cast is devastated, and the crew have been told to grab any other work that's offered. I've also learned from some Reba insiders that the show's season finale, which airs this Friday, was originally scripted and shot as a cliffhanger. But they tell me it's been re-edited to reflect Moonves's kiss-off, so it may be the series' finale." Now here's where I'm flying blind. I didn't see the season finale for Reba which involved Reba being hospitalised so I don't know whether it was a cliffhanger or not.

I'm dropping into the realm of personal opinion here. I'd be much more likely to believe this story if there were more supporting evidence. Like any. There has been nothing on any mainstream media site that I've been able to Google that confirms this, or references to blogs that I trust, like TVSquad or Aint It Cool New, let alone Zap2It I also note that Finke's articles on Les Moonves seem to be as complimentary of him as a "Swift Boat Vets For Truth" ad was of John Kerry. Long story short, I don't expect Reba to be cancelled but as usual, none of us will really know until the network up fronts at the end of the month.

Commander-In-Chief pulled from the line up ... again: I think that with ABC's decision to pull this show for sweeps, the writing is on the wall. This series is done like dinner, and I can't say that it doesn't deserve its fate. This series has been so thoroughly mishandled through its short career that it drives one to tears. Can you think of a show that has had three show runners in one year, not to mention show runners as diverse as Rod Lurie - who created it and had probably the clearest vision of what it should be - Stephen Boccho, and most recently Dee Johnson. I won't mourn this show - in part because it was never really that good and given a choice I would much rather have seen a second season of Jack And Bobby - but I will most assueredly mourn the wasted opportunity. This show had one of the best casts to come along in quite a while and it was squandered on bad writing and idiotic plot lines. It is tempting to wonder what might have been if Commander-In-Chief would have had been written and produced by the people who made the last couple of years of The West Wing. On a good day Commander-In-Chief wasn't half the show that The West Wing was, and it didn't have that many good days.

West Wing Alpha and Omega: NBC has announced that instead of airing the previously announced retrospective of The West Wing, they will be showing the pilot episode of the show before the series finale. It may be for the best if all the retrospective was going to be was poorly put together clips from previous episodes. I'd rather have seen the cast talking about working on the show and their takes on their characters. This is probably the sort of stuff that should be relegated to a DVD boxed set anyway. Interestingly, the West Wing finale, starring Bradley Whitford will be on opposite the Malcolm In The Middle finale starring Jane Kaczmarek - Bradley Whitford's wife. Of course they're also opposite the first hour of the Survivor: Exile Island finale, so it's a question of whether anyone will notice.

CBS introduces Inner Tube: In yet another example of networks trying to put content online, CBS has introduced Innertube. According to the FAQ page on the site Innertube "is's new FREE broadband channel offering new videos five days a week. It also features an archive of all video available on, including all the original innertube shows." The videos are commercially supported and therefore free to users. The major thing is the exclusive online content. According to Daily Variety, "The first shows on the channel were developed expressly for broadband, including "Greek to Chic," in which frat boys learn personal hygiene and dating tips; "BBQ Bill," a scripted sketch comedy series; and "Animate This," in which celebrities narrate events from their lives via animation. The net announced seven other original Web skeins to debut during the summer, as well as companion programming for CBS shows, such as "Beyond Survivor." Existing online programs such as "House Calls: The 'Big Brother' Talk Show" will also get a window on Innertube." Les Moonves told Daily Variety "Let's say we had an idea that was a little bit out there," Moonves told Daily Variety. "We could do five minutes a week (on Innertube) ... and see if it catches on. It's a cheap R&D lab." In an article on the new service the Center for Creative Voices Blog describes the new service as "a cable network - without the cable." So far the project offers videos tied to primetime shows but as far as I can tell no actual content from those shows. I find that the controls don't work very well, at least not on Firefox (haven't tried it on Internet Explorer), but in contrast to AOL's "service" In2TV, a Canadian like me can at least see something other than the site's commercials.

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