Mr. Coogans TV Q & A 06.16.04

I do need to apologize for the lengthy delay in debuting this new spin-off column. I went ahead and did it, didn’t think I’d get a lot of feedback and questions, and had to put it on the backburner for several weeks when I was out of town and then doing other assorted “Groove Tube” related stuff.

I have enough in my Inbox for another column, so if you don’t see your question being answered here, I promise I will get to it. However, if you want to keep sending me TV related questions, PLEASE DON’T LET ME STOP YOU. I’ll be happy to answer all questions I can in the columns and if I can answer it quickly, I’ll return emails you send as soon as possible. Please remember the ground rules though.

I’m still interested in doing some sort of tape trade program where people from Canada, the U.K., and Australia send me some of their shows. If there’s anything here you want your hands on here from the U.S., we can work something out. If you’re interested, link my email address at the end.

Finally, before I start I gotta pimp two shows. Bravo’s “Celebrity Poker Showdown.” I questioned the premise initially but it really is a lot of fun to watch celebrities from film and television playing poker with each other. If you’re looking to learn some strategy, accomplished poker player, Phil Gordon is right there along for the ride offering his expertise as well. I’ll be honest though; I’d rather watch pretty celebrities play Poker than dopes like “Chris Moneymaker” on the Travel Channel.

Also, if you love stand-up comedy, NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” is outstanding. There was some controversy about the finalists coming from celebrity judges, Drew Carey and Brett Butler, who felt their input wasn’t considered. Despite that, the show is great as it allows the audience to be treated to many different types of acts from many different types of people. The show is fun and good study of stand-up comedy. Check it out.

Onto the questions, but here’s an important one I just got first:

Hey,

Quick question on Fox’s schedule in your preview. I read in another 411 comedy that “Family Guy” is also on its way back. Something about 35 new episodes ordered. Is that going to be on Fox or is it going straight to Cartoon Network?

–Jonathan Tand

YES SIR!! 20th Century Fox officially announced back in March that 35 more new “Family Guy” episodes were going to be produced. However, at that time, it was not definite if the show would appear on Fox or move exclusively to the Cartoon Network, which airs repeats from the first three seasons now.

I didn’t discuss this in my upfronts analysis because it’s a little too far ahead and it doesn’t have a schedule assignment yet, but Fox Entertainment Chief Gail Berman did announce last month that the show will be back in June 2005 helping anchor the network’s summer schedule. Berman also stated that the episodes will air first on Fox and then they will be repeated again on the Cartoon Network “a few days later.”

So, everyone mark their calendars for June, 2005! We’re heading to Quahog, RI again baby!

I have what maybe a really silly question, but I’m not too sure. I hear different things, but my question is. Is “The O.C” finished? If not, do you know if it will run in the summer, or next season?

Thanks.

— Lady Dragoness

Oh no “The O.C.” is definitely not done forever. In fact, Fox has so much confidence in the show and its staying power that scheduling executives have decided to move the show out of its cushy Wednesday at 9:00 position and fight fire with fire as it moves to Thursday nights at 8:00. This means the show will go up against CBS’ “Survivor” and the iron clad, NBC lineup that will feature “Friends” spin off, “Joey” and returning hit “Will & Grace.”

However, because of Fox’s wacky new, aggressive 12-month schedule with all new shows and the Major League Baseball playoffs that hog the prime time schedule for the month of October, that means the show won’t be back until November, just in time for sweeps. If there’s a good thing about that, it is the show will run until May and have significantly fewer dead periods of three or four weeks like what happened on several occasions last season. It’s a long wait, but it will be worth it kind of like with “Alias.”

I received another more in depth question about “The O.C.” Since I’m on the subject .

My question is about “The O.C.” I have been hooked since it started last year. I have read/heard that the end of season ratings for the show have been really bad compared to the ratings of the first half of the season. I also heard that because of these poor ratings, “The O.C.’s” go-ahead for another two seasons has been shortened to one? Is this true?

— Armando Ferrari

Well I appreciate the effort Armando, but I’d have to say you’re incorrect on both counts. Despite the massive buzz that surrounded “The O.C.,” the first two episodes actually only secured (approximately) 7.3 and 7.8 million people respectively. Going back and looking at the numbers, I was surprised to see that too. However, that appears to be the case according to Nielsen numbers reported in The Hollywood Reporter. At the time it debuted, I think it generated so much buzz because it is a prime-time soap opera with intriguing characters of several different generations. It also painted the picture of one of the first successful prime time soap opera dramas since “Beverly Hills: 90210” and “Melrose Place.” The situation wasn’t believable, but the characters were VERY intriguing and worth tuning into every week and it created a lot of interest.

Anyway, as the show went on, it actually attracted MORE viewers as the season progressed securing a personal best of close to 13 million viewers after returning from a hiatus and scheduled right after “American Idol.” Overall for the season, the show averaged about 9.8 million viewers per week. That’s not exactly “American Idol”/”The Apprentice” type success, but it is better than the original numbers. The network is very happy with the performance and it’s probably one of the “flagship” shows of the networks.

As for the second part of the question about getting picked up for two more seasons, that’s not correct either. If I were to compare the television industry to sports, it would be very smart like the NFL unlike Major League Baseball and the NBA. The reason: nothing’s guaranteed. NFL players don’t sign guaranteed contracts. That’s why their signing bonuses are so important even if players sign six, seven, or eight year contracts. In the case of the television industry, no one signs any contracts for outlandish periods of time, but they also don’t order shows for two, three, or four years in advance either (except for “Family Guy” which will be useful in one way or another). What you will see is if the network likes the show enough, it will alert the studio that it intends to pick up ONE more full (or half) season of a particular show, usually lasting 22 episodes. Even if it’s a perennial success, like “Friends” or “Will & Grace,” the issue is always addressed at the end of each season. Considering the fickleness of the television viewer (and the high probability that a show will lose its appeal for other reasons over time), it would be an insanely foolish business move to order two or three more seasons worth of episodes. After all, a series that used to perform well could end up tanking in the ratings. ABC’s “Home Improvement” and NBC’s “Frasier” were food examples of formerly popular shows that lost significant audience share as time went on. If the networks had ordered five seasons worth of those shows, they would have stayed on too long and definitely worn out their welcome with the viewers

I hope that helps Armando .Either way, “The O.C.” is fine. Don’t worry about it

Alright, I haven’t seen this in any news sources, so I’d figure I’d toss you a question. I’ve been a fan of the NBC series “Las Vegas” since it began airing. The season finale aired earlier tonight (Monday) and featured the character Danny McCoy (the actor’s name slips my mind) being recalled to the Marines. Any word on if this is Danny’s curtain call or just a cliff hanger going into the next season?

Any info you have would be appreciated! Thanks!

— Brian Dunkel

See, this is one of those things that can suck about the television industry. If you follow the news too closely, then it often ruins the fun of following along with the story. For those that didn’t see the season finale of “Las Vegas” and don’t know what Brian is talking about, here’s the episode summary from NBC.com:

SHOW ME THE MONEY — When a large number of counterfeit $100 bills shows up at the Montecito, Danny (Josh Duhamel) and newly recruited security and surveillance specialist Mike (James Lesure) search for the source of the phony money. Meanwhile, Danny receives an urgent letter from his “Uncle Sam” as he is called back into active service and readies to ship out in 24 hours, and Mary (Nikki Cox) gets a surprise visit from her father creating a very unhappy family reunion. Vanessa Marcil, Molly Sims and Marsha Thomason also star.

Now, Brian’s question relates to Josh Duhamel’s character, Danny, who is one of the top dogs in security at the Vegas casino where this thing takes place, appears to get a letter saying he’s been called to active duty or something. The problem with storylines like this is it’s very easy to get the scoop of what’s happening to a character either by checking out one of the hundreds of Internet sites devoted to entertainment news or even just looking at the NBC website to see that Josh Duhamel’s picture and bio are still plastered all over the place. So, when there’s no news about the topic of a cast member leaving (and it would have been out there ) and his image is still used on the company website, it means whatever “cliffhanger” the writers and producers set up is relatively pointless if people know the actor is going to return again next season.

Same thing with “The O.C.” Seth (Adam Brody) sailed away with the intent to go to Tahiti (I guess ) and Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie) left with his ex-girlfriend to go back to Chino to take care of the baby he supposedly left her with. Is there any real doubt both characters will be back next season? They do talk about it extensively in interviews about how they are looking forward to a break and then eventually getting back to work. They certainly aren’t talking about joining the circus

Bottom line Brian: Danny/Josh Duhamel is coming back next season to “Las Vegas.”

Good spin-off column,

Does Fox hate its viewers? I mean they cancelled great sitcoms like Greg the Bunny and Andy Richter Controls the Universe. Why? Can’t these shows be shipped to cable or something? They were too good to be cancelled, damnit. Any plans for DVDs of these series? Or the animated Tick? Oh and what of the coolest newspaper reporter ever Kolchak: the Nightstalker, I would buy that in a second.

Keep up the good work,

— George

Whoa whoa whoa

Let’s try to take these one at a time:

Does Fox hate its viewers?

It’s kind of funny that you asked that question and I happened to be reading this article from the San Francisco Examiner‘s Sonia Mansfield who stated in a June 8th article:

I HAVE A LOVE/HATE relationship with Fox.

On one hand, Fox’s development slate is unmatched in originality and boldness. While most networks are cranking out “CSI” ripoffs and three-kids-and-a-couch sitcoms, Fox has created terrific shows like “Arrested Development,” “24” and “Bernie Mac.” Even the mediocre “Tru Calling” tries to be different.

On the other hand, Fox launches terrific shows, gets me addicted and then dumps them, leaving me to recover cold turkey. Remember “Wonderfalls”? “Andy Richter Controls the Universe”? Undeclared”? “The Tick”? “Firefly”? Need I go on?

Not to mention, Fox creates some of the most god-awful reality shows that often leave me questioning the state of humanity. How can I hate the network that gives us “The Swan” when it’s given “The Simpsons” a home for so many years? You see my dilemma.

And here’s yet another reason to love Fox: It has figured out what other networks haven’t, which is viewers don’t shut off their TVs in the summer.

So, that’s an interesting question to ask. Fox is probably the only broadcast network that bothers to take any risks with its programming and that’s evident in shows like “Arrested Development” and any show Seth MacFarlane (“Family Guy”) is responsible for. So, that implies they LIKE their viewers.

However, when they introduced some shows that a small, but devoted, audience were interested in (“Wonderfalls,” “Andy Richter “, “Family Guy” the first time around), they bounce around the schedule, never really finding a home or an audience and then are canceled abruptly. This says they DON’T LIKE their viewers.

Then again, the network is working very hard to provide new, interesting programming all year round to its viewers, probably harder than the other networks. To take a look at what Fox has coming up this summer, check out my analysis here, if you haven’t already read it This tells me they LIKE their viewers.

Unfortunately, Fox is responsible for some of the worst reality television in existence (“The Littlest Groom??”). So, maybe they DON’T LIKE their viewers.

I don’t know it’s a tough call. I’m inclined to say THEY LIKE their viewers because: A) the network and the studio worked with the cast of “The Simpsons” to sign them to new, lucrative contracts. This will keep the show on at least another year, if not more. This is a good thing. B) I really do like the idea of this intense summer schedule that the network is trying to put together. It’s different and interesting. I’m into it.

I don’t think it’s that they HATE their viewers They just don’t quite understand them at all

As for “Greg the Bunny” and “Andy Richter Controls the Universe,” I think these shows were a classic example of the network NOT UNDERSTANDING the viewers and not really hating them. Take “Andy Richter ” first. Fox first aired the show in the Spring of 2002 and then pulled it after six episodes. The network then decided to bring it back again at probably the worst possible time to debut a show: December. That’s right after the November sweeps and during the holiday season crunch. By the time, the show developed any sort of meaningful audience, it was already pulled and canceled. Thanks Fox!

As for “Greg the Bunny,” it debuted to pretty good ratings and largely great reviews at the end of March in 2002. However, six weeks later when the 2002-03 upfronts came around, the network had already given up on the show as it wasn’t renewed for the next season. The last weekend in March isn’t exactly a great time to debut a show, so that probably hurt it. Then, despite the cult following, Fox didn’t understand that people enjoyed it and it ended up falling by the waste side as well pissing off a lot of faithful fans.

Unfortunately, when a show gets canceled, it comes down to economics much of the time. If a show doesn’t secure good ratings, it’s not going to secure a lot of money from corporations that wish to advertise on the network in that timeslot. Instead of sticking with a show that does have a cult following, it’s easier to cancel it and either try something else or air repeats of shows that do perform well constantly. In Fox’s case, that’s “The Simpsons” and “That 70s Show.” In the WB’s case, “Angel” was a terrific show with a devoted lot of fans, but original episodes didn’t draw that well and repeats fared much worse. So, the network decided to bid “Adieu” to the show instead.

To answer the questions about DVD releases, this is what I’ve come up with:

** “Greg the Bunny” Not happening any time soon.

** “Andy Richter Controls the Universe” Not happening anytime soon.

** “The Tick” The entire shortlived live action series starring Patrick Warburton (“Seinfeld” was released last fall and is available from Amazon.

The Saturday morning animated version of “The Tick” has not been released on DVD and it doesn’t seem to be in the cards anytime soon. However, if you’re interested in some bootleg copies of all the episodes aired, eBay has some auctions up selling all the episodes.

DISCLAIMER: I use eBay to get a lot of used DVDs cheap and have had largely good luck doing so. Remember though, use eBay at your own risk. Many sellers are willing to work with you if you’re not happy with a product, but many aren’t and you could get screwed if you go that route .Good luck

** “Kolchak: the Night Stalker” This was an interesting one to research. The show George is referring to is “Kolchak: the Night Stalker” and was a short lived series running for 20 episodes between 1974 and 1975. The show starred Darren McGavin (Adam Sandler’s tycoon father in Billy Madison and the father in A Christmas Story) as a newspaper reporter with 1940s sensibilities who is living in a 1970s world. While there, he investigated various paranormal activities in a campy, self-mocking sort of way. The series that ran in 1974-75 actually developed from two TV movies that in January, 1972 (“The Night Stalker”) and January 1973 (“The Night Strangler”).

The series is not being released on DVD, but the two original made-for-TV movies, “The Night Stalker” and “The Night Strangler” are being released as a DVD double feature this coming August 24th.

So, sorry I couldn’t help you more with the DVD release stuff George But imagine this, if “Kolchak: the Night Stalker” is coming out on DVD this year, “Greg the Bunny” and “Andy Richter Controls the Universe” can’t be too far behind, right?

Hi. I was reading the column and decided you were the person to answer this. I’ve been wondering for a while how do programs like “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” work when it comes to money. You always see them buying clothes from designer shops etc. but how is this funded? Do the people being made over pay or does the network pick up the tab?

— Alex Francois

That’s certainly a unique question The network always picks up the tab for shows like “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” That’s actually a great thing for the people on that show because they generally get their apartment redecorated with all new furniture, several new, different outfits, and other assorted perks along the way. That’s especially true considering the designer stuff these people get. They end up making out like bandits.

Two points about this though:

** If anyone ever wonders how these television networks put on shows like this where they give away prizes, cash, or pay to have apartments/house redesigned and still make money, believe me, it isn’t an issue If the show is popular enough, the advertisers will flock to it and make whatever money they put into the show and then some. If they didn’t, the show would be gone as fast you could say “Cosmopolitan.”

** While it appears the participants in these types of shows get a lot of shit for free and not really doing anything, it’s also important to realize the participants are really putting themselves out there and telling the story of how they need life improvement to the millions of people watching at home. They may get a lot of stuff out of it and it can be a positive experience, but it also takes a lot to say “Hey I could use some help in my life here ”

Just something to consider

Here is a question for the “spin-off” column.

Bravo’s “Keen Eddie” was one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve seen in quite some time. Sort of a tamed-for-TV Guy Richie film.

I know Fox dumped it last summer and Bravo picked up the 13 episodes. Any word on whether Bravo will order more episodes? I have no idea what its ratings are but it seems like it could do well in the 26-40 demographic if marketed properly.

Also,

How many episodes are planned/ordered for Touching Evil on USA? I noticed that USA finally moved it from the death slot of 10pm Friday nights to a more respectable 10pm Monday. This show is well acted and produced and never has a happy ending-certainly required viewing for the cynics among us.

Thanks for your time and good luck with the column.

— Benjamin J. Rickert

“Keen Eddie”

“Keen Eddie” was a fun crime show that followed a New York City cop, played by Mark Valley, who goes to work for Scotland Yard in London after screwing up a drug bust back in the U.S. The series was shot entirely in London. Fox originally planned to air it in the 2003 mid-season, but it got pushed back to the summer, ran for seven weeks securing ratings under three and was subsequently pulled off the air and canceled despite six episodes never airing.

Bravo acquired the rights to air all 13 episodes in the Fall of 2003 and planned on airing the episodes in 2004.

Unfortunately, Benjamin, the deal Bravo made with Paramount was only for the 13 episodes and did not include any new, original installments being produced. Actually, “Keen Eddie” Creator J.H. Wyman and Lead Actor, Mark Valley both moved on to another show titled “Harry Green and Eugene”. However, that IMDB listing hasn’t been updated since last November, so I don’t really know what ever happened with the show.

Either way, it’s safe to say “Keen Eddie” is gone forever. However, if there’s any consolation, the full 13 episode season will be out on DVD September 7th.

That’s better than nothing, right?

“Touching Evil”

Before I answer this, here’s a fun piece of trivia. Jeffrey Donovan, who plays FBI Detective, David Creegan is from Amesbury, MA and I’m from right next door in Newburyport, MA. The two high schools in these small coast cities have played each other in football on Thanksgiving Day for over 100 years. Well it’s interesting to me anyway

“Touching Evil” is another knock off of a British series and is about a detective (Creegan) who is radically changed by a near-death experience. After his accident, the main character, by no fault of his own, has a difficult time abiding my normal common sense and following the laws he has set out to uphold while working for a special FBI unit. USA has ordered 13 episodes of the show, so it should be wrapping up its season right around now. Get ready for “Monk” all the time now as the new season starts this Friday, 6/18.

According to an April article in Variety by John Dempsey, the results for the show have been mixed at best though. Consider these statistics:

NEW YORK — “Touching Evil” is off to a shaky start in the primetime ratings, indicating the USA Network may have stumbled in its attempt to create another original drama to complement “Monk” and “The Dead Zone.”

After getting off to a solid, although slightly disappointing, start in its two-hour premiere March 12 with 3.37 million total viewers, “Touching Evil” has fallen off in each of its three subsequent original episodes. USA schedules it Friday at 10. In those three airings, it averaged nearly 2.3 million viewers.

Pointing to the positives, USA’s researchers said the average household rating for the first four weeks of originals is 122% higher than the show in the time period during the same period last year. But that show was reruns of “Monk,” whose Nielsens fall off dramatically from their original plays.

(the network) is hoping the show can build on the demographic spike it delivered from the third to the fourth week. Among adults 18-49, the show went up from 776,000 to 1.21 million. In adults 25-54, it picked up from 1.078 million to 1.311 million.

So, unfortunately, the show isn’t necessarily a lock to return for a second season. USA has not announced anything one way or another at this time, but it’s a disappointment fans of the show might have to be ready for. Sorry Benjamin

A TV question column, interesting.

Well, I thought I’d feed the beast, so here is my TV related question:

Do you think cartoon children should grow up in cartoons? I’m saying this because “The Simpsons” have been on forever, and besides fixing the rough sketches at the beginning, everyone is still the same. Meanwhile, “King of the Hill” has had and accepted two of Bobby’s birthdays as meaning he’s older (12 & 13). It isn’t much, but at least they are trying to advance characters in age. I wish they did, as they could have tackled even more issues on the show. I mean, you can only write things for Bart at 10, Lisa at 8, and Maggie the baby for so long. Your thought?

Keep it on, keep it on,

— Cody Webster

This is a pretty fun question Thanks Cody. Although, I have to disagree with your sentiment about animated characters and that they should advance in age. I don’t think that’s necessary at all. In fact, I’d go as far to say I DON’T WANT to see these characters age at all.

It’s obvious that characters in “The Simpsons,” “King of the Hill,” and “Family Guy” are much different than Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Mickey Mouse Tom the Cat, and Jerry the Mouse. However, I think they have one important characteristic in common: I wouldn’t want to see any of them age at all I mean, if Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse ahd gone through natural aging, they’d either be in a nursing home wearing Depends or even worse .dead .I’m perfectly happy with these characters remaining timeless and continue with their hijinks as long as people still want to draw them.

Same thing with “The Simpsons.” I really don’t want to see Bart and Lisa experiencing their awkward teenage years, Marge go through menopause, Maggie go through the “terrible two’s” or Homer retire from the nuclear power plant and lose the remaining hair he has on his head. As much as the show is about the characters, it’s really more about the wacky stories that are told within the show and the various pop culture/current events jokes that crop up in the script. Besides, I think as much as people love Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie, people would actually be more upset if they started aging. That IS the reason why they like these characters.

I do have to admit though, “King of the Hill” is a bit of a different situation. When that show tells stories, about Bobby and his friends specifically, they have chosen to focus, at least in part, about the young boy and his friends growing up discovering their manhood, girls, and all the trials and tribulations of growing up. Even that show handles the aging at its own pace though. It’s not necessarily vital to the show’s storytelling.

I also think the animators are thankful they don’t have to deal with kids on their shows growing up. Anyone remember Tina Yothers from “Family Ties?” She was a cute pre-teen when the show started, but she went through her teen years more awkwardly than most and ended up with big hair, a big nose, a big gut. The only thing that got smaller was the amount of screen time she received on the show. I am sure “The Simpsons” producers are appreciative they don’t have to deal with that on a regular basis.

* * * * * *

Thanks for reading I’ve pumped out several columns over the last week and I think I may be taking a hiatus since I’m going out of town again for a week or two. If you see me back here next week, great. If not, have a great week or two

I’ll be back with the “Groove Tube” and the “Q & A” as soon as I can

— Coogan