Tuesday, September 13, 2011


My name is Paul, and I’m a TV addict. There I said it. There are no 12-step programs, meditation gurus or publicly funded initiatives to help me. The only thing that helps is TV. Lots of it. More of it. TV in every room. I watch everything from C-Span to The Real Housewives of Wherever. I recently bought something called a “Smart TV.” I can’t explain myself—I saw it in a store and the edge-to-edge, high definition picture engulfed me until I felt like I was sitting on Oprah’s couch with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. This TV is so advanced that I believe if I stare at I hard enough it might cook dinner for me. And who cares? Who has time for dinner when “Dancing with the Stars” is on, or “Mad Men,” or “The Daily Show?”

So it should come as no surprise that every year at this time I’m downright giddy waiting for the new Fall TV season to begin. This year there are several things happening that could shake things up in the industry. Here are a few shows I’m waiting on the edge of my seat to see:

THE PLAYBOY CLUB (NBC): When in doubt, the major networks seem to revert to 1960s drama. And that might be because there was plenty of it in the 60s. Hugh Hefner’s empire was at full throttle during the post-Kennedy/Camelot era, and nothing has really ever matched its allure since. In this NBC prime time version, Eddie Cibrian is Nick Dalton, a suave Chicago lawyer who, of course, has his own key to The Playboy Club. CNN said Cibrian is doing his best Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”) impression. True, but then Jon Hamm has been doing his best Robert Vaughn (“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”) or Mike Connors (“Mannix”) since “Mad Men debuted in 2007. Whether Cibrian has the dramatic cache to pull this off remains to be seen. The show has already generated controversy; Without even seeing one episode of the show, the Parents Television Council (PTC) already lobbied NBC to cancel it before it even airs, because of “salacious content.” In June, The National Enquirer reported that KLS-TV in Salt Lake City, a Mormon-owned company, has decided not to air the show on its station. So far, it seems KLS is alone in its discontent. The real test of “The Playboy Club” won’t be who bans it, but how authentically the creators are able to paint a real portrait of a singular era. Many series have failed to do so and put forth a canned version of the 1960s that is almost cartoonish in its recreation. The 1960s were “devil may care” years. It was a time when the birth control pill had just hit the mass market, and Frank Sinatra used the term “ring-a-ding-ding” with a straight face and looked cool saying it. We’ll know after the first episode whether this one works. Here’s NBC’s official preview:

Looks pretty juicy to me. But then, I watch everything.

THE ROSIE O’DONNELL SHOW (OWN): When last we saw Rosie O’Donnell on daytime TV, she was the moderator of ABC’s “The View,” and we all know how that ended. Then she helmed a daily radio show that was not half bad, actually. Then our holy St. Oprah of Chicago came calling, offering Rosie a daily talk show, but more amazingly, Oprah gave her the entire HARPO studios facility in Chicago from which to create and broadcast the show. Who could say no to that, right? O’Donnell’s reign as the Queen of Nice (Newsweek” dubbed her that in its July 14, 1996 cover story), ended nine years ago. This time she says her show will be more topical, less celebrity-focused and now, at 49, she’s a different Rosie. She’s not as nice, but she’s not as angry as she was on “The View.” Will it work? Not sure yet. OWN has failed to live up to the hype, and Oprah recently took over as CEO to try to steer her network in a more productive direction.

ANDERSON COOPER: CNN’s snow-capped, engaging news host has decided to pick up where Oprah left off. This past week he debuted his daytime talk show. He’ll still do “Anderson Cooper 360” in the evening, but the daytime show promises to feature his lighter side. Cooper’s edge is that he can probably attract the biggest names in the news. On his debut hour he featured the parents of the late Amy Winehouse, for example. But the next day, Snooki and Kathy Griffin shared the stage. Reportedly, Cooper will begin the second week of his talk show with a full hour interview with his fascinating mother, Amy Vanderbilt, 87. The daytime talk genre is a tough animal. Those who seem like sure bets often fall flat – think Jane Pauley and Roseanne Barr. Broadcasting from the elegant Manhattan event venue Jazz at Lincoln Center, Cooper has some advantages in this genre: First, he’s a man, in a format that has largely been dominated by women; second, the venue is breathtaking and the cameras have done a stellar job in capturing its vistas; and most importantly, he comes to the show with an established audience from his CNN show. The odds seem to be in his favor, but then, I once said the same thing about Megan Mullally, so don’t listen to me.

TWO AND A HALF MEN (CBS): If they had replaced Charlie Sheen with one of the rumored actors like Hugh Grant or John Stamos, we’d probably have said, “Well, Hugh Grant is no Charlie Sheen,” or “John Stamos doesn’t have that bad boy thing that Charlie Sheen has.” But Ashton Kutcher is a different story. He’s younger, he’s hotter and his past television outings have been largely successful. I’m writing this post before the debut episode, but I feel confident it will probably draw its biggest audience in years. The curiosity factor has caused many of us to already set our DVRs. The show was a classic ensemble piece from day one; it wasn’t the Charlie Sheen show. He was a big draw, he mattered and he reportedly worked very hard to keep the show viable in the marketplace, but the rest of the characters were so well formed and developed that the show can likely carry on. The network is clearly feeling confident: Kutcher’s reported per episode salary is $750,000. To give you some frame of reference, Angust T. Jones, who plays young Jake Harper reportedly pockets $250,000 per episode and he has been a cast member since day one. Jon Cryer, according to TV Guide, takes home $550,000 per episode.

There is much more to report about the Fall season – the “Charlie’s Angels” redux, the return of Simon Cowell to evening TV, the Steven Spielberg backed time travel extravaganza on Fox, “Terra Nova,” Ted Danson replacing Laurence Fishburne on “CSI,” ABC’s own 1960s drama, “Pan Am,” to name a few. And whose big idea was it to put “The Good Wife” up against “Desperate Housewives” on Sunday nights? I wish I could give you something to live for for mid-season, but so far the biggest story is TNT’s remake of “Dallas.” Really?

Stay tuned, and look for me in the audience. I'm always there.


Elastigirl said...

Well between motherhood, school and work I don't have time to watch tv; however, after reading this blog it too makes me want to run out and get a "smart tv" and set my dvr! Thanks, this was the perfect way to start my day, next time I hope to read one this amusing on a Monday morning.

Jennifer Stallings

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Igor Kopmar said...

Congrats Paul for your new 'Smart TV'.

Hope u enjoying a lot to see your smart tv.

Igor Kopmar, Air Tickets , Cheap International Flights Advisor