Saturday, April 01, 2006

Short Takes - April 1, 2006

I've decided to start referring to the times that shows air on the US and Canadian broadcast networks as being in the "first", "second" or "third" hours of prime time. It's easier than saying (or typing) 8 Eastern and Pacific, 7 Central and Mountain. As we saw with the Without A Trace situation the "third hour" varies from region to region and in the United States at least it does matter. Complicating things even more for me is that Saskatchewan does not join the rest of North America in the switch to Daylight Savings Time this weekend. The world shifts around us which means that times for everything but networks served by local stations. In other words to "8 Eastern and Pacific, 7 Central and Mountain" you can add "and 6 in Saskatchewan.

- Prison Break to change name for Season 2: Well duh. I mean you can't keep calling it Prison Break after they break out of prison unless of course they escape from one prison right into another. No word on a new name but I suppose they'll have to include something that will remind viewers that this is the show with plot holes you can drive an Abrams tank through but people loved in its first season anyway.

- CBS moving The Amazing Race to Wednesday's first hour: About bloody time if you ask me. The Amazing Race was ticking along quite happily in its Tuesday second hour time slot even with the execrable Family Edition. Then CBS panicked over American Idol - not without reason since they probably remember when Idol killed The West Wing in the ratings and did such significant damage to Amazing Race 2 that the network didn't trust it and put a revived version of Star Search in the slot and delayed the third edition of The Amazing Race until late spring. That nearly killed the show right there and for two season it became a summer replacement. This time around CBS has also had a "promising" new show called The Unit. They put that up against American Idol - and not coincidentally right after the military themed NCIS - and moved The Amazing Race to the third hour where it's only up against Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Boston Legal, and oh yes loses a lot of viewers who watch the show with their kids because seeing other parts of the world is educational. The new time will put it up against Deal Or No Deal, Bones, George Lopez and Freddie. If nothing else should tell us whether America wants mindless (Deal Or No Deal and the ABC comedies) or intelligent (The Amazing Race and Bones) shows. The problem at CBS is that their bench is way too deep and shows like Courting Alex and Out Of Practice (both of which had been drawing good ratings on Mondays) get put on hiatus and then shifted to Wednesday to replace two shows which had been doing adequately but weren't loved by CBS executives and were cancelled. Other network execs wish they had the problems CBS does.

- Commander-in-Chief moves to Thursday's third hour: I don't think it'll save the show, but it's an interesting move on ABC's part to try to compete against ER and Without A Trace with a drama rather than their tried and true newsmagazine Primetime. I expect Commander-in-Chief to wither on the vine in the new time slot but the big question should be whether this is the end of ABC's "other" newsmagazine or just a break.

- Dick Wolf must be happy: It looks like In Justice is toast. First Jason O'Mara, who plays investigator Charles Conti signed to do a pilot for ABC called Drift about an insomniac detective, and now word comes that Kyle MacLachlan who played lawyer David Swain will be a recurring character for a while on Desperate Housewives playing yet another poor deluded fool man who falls for Susan Meyer. I'll miss the show - even though I had a tendency to miss the show - if only as an antidote to contemporary TV's seeming addiction to the idea that cops and prosecutors are perfect beings who never make a mistake while defense attorneys are worse slime than the people they defend. This is a view championed by Nancy Grace in real life and by Dick Wolf in fiction and one that I'm not at all comfortable with. I can't help wondering if ABC is making a mistake by apparently dumping In Justice and burning off Commander-in-Chief on Thursday nights. Why not burn off Commander-in-Chief on Fridays and try In Justice in the third hour of Thursday?

- Is this some kind of a joke?: Fans of the original CSI may have noticed that William Petersen wasn't in last Thursday's episode. Rumour has it that Petersen has shot his last show. According to reports Petersen will be joining the cast of the next Star Trek film which will be a prequel to the original series set aboard the original Starship Enterprise under her first Captain. Indeed Petersen will be playing the lead role as Captain Robert April. Fools think that the first Captain of the Enterprise was Christopher Pike who was played in the series pilot by Jeffrey Hunter. However they forget the animated series which included an episode featuring April. Fools - including many officials at Paramount - doubt whether the animated series fit into the "official" Star Trek canon, but in the day no less an authority than Gene Roddenberry stated that it was.

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