Monday, December 04, 2006

Short Takes - December 3, 2006

I'm doing this from my brother's computer as he's away for about ten days and someone has to look after his house and dog - not necessarily in that order. One thing this will allow me to do is watch some Monday night TV without the problems inherent in taping stuff - you wouldn't believe the backlog of Heroes episodes that I have. On the other hand his keyboard is extremely stiff.

NBC shuffles its schedule: Probably not as much as I would have but they have made some adjustments. They've moved Friday Night Lights to the first hour of Wednesday from the first hour of Tuesday and are following it with Deal Or No Deal. Dateline NBC moves to the first hour of Tuesday, as well as appearing in the first hour of Sunday (opposite 60 Minutes) and airing reruns on Saturday night in the first hour. In addition to Dateline NBC, Sunday nights will feature a new reality show called Grease: You're the One That I Want, which will be auditioning people for a new Broadway revival of the musical Grease. This will be followed by the latest revival of The Apprentice, this time coming out of Trump's Southern California holdings. Finally (and I do mean finally since it will be debuting on January 21 after two weeks of Grease: You're the One That I Want and The Apprentice running for an hour and a half each) will be the much awaited - by me at least - return of Crossing Jordan.

I really would have liked to have seen a much more sweeping change in the NBC lineup given the trouble that a number of shows have been having. Since Heroes isn't really helping Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip in building an audience, why not move a much more compatible series - Medium - into that time slot. Why not move Law & Order: Criminal Intent to the third hour of Wednesday opposite CSI: New York and put Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip into the Tuesday time slot.

Perhaps an idea that should catch on: The CW has announced that they will be airing two highlights shows of the series Britain's Next Top Model in the Wednesday time slot currently occupied by America's Next Top Model. The episodes will air on December 13 and December 20, the two weeks following the finale of America's Next Top Model. The two episodes will summarize the two cycles of Britain's Next Top Model in single one hour episodes. This might be a way to beat those mid winter (and full summer) TV blahs. There are any number of British or Australian versions of American shows - particularly reality shows - that the Americans have either "adopted" or (more rarely) had taken from them. Instead of whatever CBS is intending on showing on Sundays this summer, what would they lose by showing the Amazing Race Asia which is done in English with an Asian American host (most of the cast speak English better than some of the teams on the US race), or maybe a summary from the British or Australian versions of Big Brother. ABC could serve up Britain's Strictly Come Dancing or the Australian Dancing With The Stars.

Another more than likely stupid idea: I like reruns. They give me a chance to watch shows that either I haven't seen before or really, really liked the first time I saw them. Networks it seems, do not like reruns. They used to but now they complain about shows "not rerunning well." It's not all shows - the CSI series works so well in reruns they're like a great utility baseball player. But of course most shows that are rerun are rerun in their usual time slots, which means that they're being rerun to an audience base that they already have. And so, as we enter the period that we fans of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel knew all too well as "Rerun Hell", I offer this probably stupid idea: when a show goes into reruns, put it in a different time slot for the duration of the rerun period. I mean I'm sure there is a very good reason why the networks don't do this but I don't know what it is. What strikes me is that you have good shows, like Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip and Friday Night Lightsthat aren't finding an audience in their current time slot and might benefit from moving to a different day and time to see how well they do there. Why not try rerunning Studio 60 in the second hour of Tuesdays and putting the reruns of Law & Order: Criminal Intent in the third hour of Mondays? And if both shows prosper then make the change permanent. But I'm sure that smarter people than I have thought about this idea and come up with reasons why it won't work.

Who does the PTC hate thisWeek?: Apparently our friends at the PTC are in some kind of mourning for the Republican Congress because for the fourth straight week in a row their Worst Show of the Week is that same damned episode of Boston Legal. And they still hate Clorox and Microsoft. (yawn)

With that in mind and feeling rather bored, I've decided to take a look at what the PTC thinks of some of the new shows that debuted this year (and are still with us). As some of you might know, the PTC rates shows using a traffic light motif: Green for "Family Friendly", Yellow for shows containing adult themes and dialogue, and Red for shows that "may include gratuitous sex, explicit dialogue, violent content, or obscene language" and are unsuitable for children. They rate shows for Language, Sex and Violence and produce an overall evaluation. Of course, like a lot of things on the PTC website, what they've evaluated is not exactly up to date.
  • The Class gets an overall "Yellow" rating. "The Class is a show about adults, so the content is for more mature audiences. Language on the show includes uses of the words “crap,” “suck,” “hell,” “ass,” and “bitch.” Sexual content is frequent but not overly offensive. Two characters, Nicole and Duncan, are having an affair behind her husband’s back and there was a penis joke in the first episode. Which sounds like the PTC is loosening up their standards. Compare this with the evaluation they gave of the other CBS comedy in the first hour, How I Met Your Mother: "This sitcom may have a reference to parenthood in the title, but it is about adults and contains a lot of adult content and humor. Language used includes “damn,” “hell,” “bitch,” “bastard,” “crap,” “suck,” and “ass” with moderate frequency. Sexual humor is relied upon heavily in this series as well. Men on this series have visited strip clubs more than once: episodes have included Barney getting Ted a date and Ted thinking she was a prostitute, Ted dating a porn actress, Lily and Marshall urinating in front of each other, and other racy themes. Barney doesn’t believe in committed relationships, so there are also frequent references to his promiscuity and using women for sex and then dumping them." How I Met Your Mother gets a Red rating.

  • Heroes gets a Red Rating, except for language where it gets a yellow despite including such words as “hell,” “damn,” and “bitch” frequently. Where it really falls down is on violence (as you might expect) and on sex: "While one might think, based on the name of the show or its premise, that Heroes is a show for everyone, these heroes are not your All-Americans like Superman or Spiderman. For instance, one “hero,” Niki Sanders, is a single mother living in Las Vegas who provides for her son by stripping on her internet porn site. Her alter ego randomly takes over her mind and body and is capable of committing unspeakable acts of violence and sexual deviance." In fact Niki seems to be the major cause for concern for the PTC as far as sex goes, since they reference her Internet business later in the review.

  • Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip gets one of the stranger evaluations. It gets a Green light for violence (there's none that I've seen on the show) but Reds for Language and Sex and Overall. Language is the principal concern: "'Hell,' 'damn,' and 'ass' are used frequently as well as harsher words like 'bitch,' 'slut,' 'screw,' and 'son of a bitch.'” But it is Sex where the weird evaluation comes: "Sex has not been an issue at this point in the series, but as relationships progress, sex scenes can be expected." And because of that they gave it a Red Light for sex. There's no sex in the show but it still gets condemned for having too much sex! (Okay, admittedly there's been a bit more of what they would consider sexual content recently - Harriet seen apparently naked except for her panties in a seem where Tom and Simon enter her dressing room without knocking; Harriet seen changing for a scene, showing her bra; Jeannie getting a B12 shot just below her panty line; Jordan revealing her "out of wedlock" pregnancy - but they wrote this review before any of that was seen.)

  • Jericho gets Yellow lights across the board. The PTC doesn't consider language an issue with the show although "the words used include 'hell,' 'damn,' and 'ass.'" As for Sex, in a show where Deputy Mayor Eric Green is having an extra marital affair, "Sexual content isn’t very frequent either, but the character of Eric Green is shown kissing a woman that isn’t his wife and later sleeps with her." But it's violence where they seem particularly lax, particularly in view of what happened in episodes after the PTC did their evaluation: "Violence is mostly implied death and injury with scenes of crashed vehicles, airplanes, and the distant mushroom clouds on the horizon. There were two gun-play confrontations as well, when some escaped prisoners killed a policeman and then in the following episode were killed by a local cop and a civilian." Setting aside for the moment the fact that it was Jake Green who shot one of the convicts and he wasn't a cop, this totally ignores subsequent events like the visit to the Rogue River hospital, the battle at the bridge with the mercenaries and the murder of Gracie Leigh. But the PTC apparently doesn't revise these assessments, so Jericho is rated as more suitable for younger viewers than either Bones or America's Next Top Model, and the same as Biggest Loser (although Loser's only Yellow light was for language it got a Yellow overall).

  • The Nine got a Red Light for Sex and Yellow lights for Language and Violence even though they state that their major concern is " that the violence seen in these flashbacks may be too intense for children. The violence has been primarily limited to these flashbacks throughout episodes, but involves the thieves threatening hostages with handguns and the implied murder of two major characters." Language included "hell" and "damn". As for Sex, "Sexual content has involved post-coital couples kissing in bed and also a few other scenes where characters kiss." Now remember, they gave this series a Red light for Sex and a Yellow light for Violence, but at the end of their review they say, "Due to intense violence, The Nine is not appropriate for children under the age of 14."

  • Ugly Betty - a show which recently received the Best New Series award from the Family Friendly Programming Forum for helping to "promote the development of and airing of family-oriented television programs during prime-time hours" and which received funding from the Forum's Script Development Fund - got a Red Light from the PTC. According to them, "Sexual content is the main concern with this show. With the exception of Betty herself, it seems that every character engages freely in casual sexual relationships, but most of the sexual content stems from Daniel. In the premiere episode there is a scene in which it is implied that he is receiving oral sex from a woman hidden under his desk and he has often been seen in post-coital situations. In one scene Betty offers to sell diet pills to resident homosexual Marc and he replies, 'Unless it’s Taye Diggs covered in baby oil I’m not interested.'" Language is apparently also an issue: "Foul language includes words such as “damn”, “ass,” and “bitch,” are used frequently on the show." Violence is not listed as a concern, but the web page for the show gives it a Yellow light for Sex, a Green light and a Red light for Violence.

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