The Weekly Pulse: Mr. Coogan's Groove Tube Update

Bryan from Ohio pointed out a factual error of sorts in Monday’s column about “Entourage.” I guess I should have known better”¦

Good column about Entourage. I’ve not seen the show because I don’t have
HBO, but I hope to catch the inevitable DVD box set. I’ve always enjoyed your
columns ever since you wrote for a different site.

The only reason I write is because of your comment about “Will & Grace.”
While I agree it could be set damn near anywhere…. definitely not Toledo. This
place is a dump and a half, heh.

Keep up the good work!

-Bryan

Thanks for the kind words Bryan”¦And I’ll be sure not to plan my next vacation to Toledo”¦Maybe Hawaii or the Caribbean instead”¦

THE OPENING CREDITS: What are my colleagues doing?

** Again, if you haven’t read what I had to say about HBO’s “Entourage,” then please do so and email me IMMEDIATELY AFTER.

** Chris from “The Amazing Race” is either pissed off at the world or just about everything that’s on television. One hell of a debut though! I just wouldn’t want to be a reality TV producer and looking at that. Youch.

** “Survivo’s” Vecepia is here to share her thoughts on the new season of “Survivor”.

** Another solid commentary about “The Apprentice” from first season contestant Nick Warnock. And he’s right”¦Bradford was too cocky for his own good. You know you’re great”¦fine”¦Just keep your mouth shut pal! I have to say though, the people that said a woman would win this time around seems dead wrong. There are no less than three women who I’d kick off right now if I could.

** “Survivo’s” Jessie talks briefly about the show’s new season and what she thought of the De La Hoya/Hopkins fight. Thanks!

** Cheri gives us her play-by-play of her watching the Emmy’s and tells us her “Crush of the Week.” (I’m hoping I qualify some day”¦)

** The very quotable Sarah Quigley ladies and gentlemen”¦Here’s another one:

Give me Chinese water torture. Starve me. Make me sleep on a damp, filthy concrete floor. Dress me in orange. Bar me from entering all shoe stores. But don’t make me go into Donald Trump’s boardroom. I think the Donald may be well on his way to achieving another stroke of entrepreneurial genius: redefining the term living hell.

You can hire her for birthday parties and weddings!

In fact”¦here’s some more”¦for free!

** Didey isn’t very impressed with the “CSI” franchise. I have to admit it, I like the extra nasty “Autopsy” series on HBO better myself”¦

** For that matter, neither is the immortal Scott Keith. He just talked about the season premiere of “CSI: Miami.”

** Murtz is cool because he got to go to the “Canadian Idol” final press conference and I’m stuck here in Syracuse providing a link to his coverage”¦

** Bob Reiss writes a lot. He wrote about an assortment of topics here and about “The Amazing Race” here.

TV NEWS

Some comments about the Emmys

The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences presented its 56th Emmy Awards on Sept. 19 in a ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, CA. The event was aired on ABC and unfortunately, garnered the lowest ratings since 1990. Fourteen million tuned in, about four million less than last year. In fact, despite competition that was not all that stiff, CBS still managed to secure the best ratings for the evening.

Why is this? There were lots of pretty people there wearing pretty clothes there. The glamour was as glamorous as usual and the red carpet was just as red as normal. So what gives?

TV reports I have read didn’t really pinpoint exactly why the telecast didn’t catch on with viewers, but they suggested that many of the shows up for nominations aren’t watched by a large portion of the television audience. I’ll take that one step further and talk about my theory:

The expansion of cable and reality television has caused less of a connection between the viewers and the broadcast network scripted series.

Looking at the expansion of cable television first, I think it’s pretty safe to say that in 2004 some of the best scripted television programs aren’t on the major broadcast networks, but they are on cable. Whether it’s HBO, FX, or USA cable is producing some of the best television out there. If there’s a problem with that it’s the fact that people either: 1) still haven’t picked up on what cable can offer by tuning into some of these great shows or 2) still don’t have cable, especially of the digital/premium variety which what it takes to get HBO and, in some cases, FX. If the television viewing audience still doesn’t have the opportunity to watch these great shows, it’s more than likely that they won’t care when these shows are nominated for awards.

In addition, while cable hasn’t picked up completely with those that watch television, it’s picked up enough where it’s cut into the broadcast television network’s ratings. So, the audience is watching less and less broadcast television and that affects the number of shows that really develop a large audience that people would care about if nominated for any awards. If you look at the winners of the major awards, I’d argue that these trends are there. Between the Outstanding shows and actor categories, only Allison Janney’s win came from a show that secured more than 12-15 million viewers on a regular basis. The others either came from HBO (“Sex and the City” and “The Sopranos”), from shows on their last legs and not securing the ratings they used to (“Frasier” and “The Practice”), and Fox’s “Arrested Development,” which no one is watching.

Looking at the rise of reality television, the bottom line is pretty simple. There are more reality shows that people are taking to and fewer scripted programs that generate a significant buzz. Television media is more than willing to report on who gets eliminated on “American Idol,” “Survivor,” “The Apprentice,” and “The Amazing Race,” but none of them will dissect the storyline development of some of the more popular scripted shows like “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “ER.” The buzz exists for reality television and it hurts any buzz the scripted shows get. So, when the scripted shows are up for awards, people just don’t care quite as much because they have more of a connection with the reality shows.

Those are a couple of theories anyway. What do you think?

What do I think about the Emmy Awards?

You can check out PK’s list of the major winners from the Emmy Awards here or, even better, check out his live coverage which broke the event down real nice”¦

Either way, he compiled a good list of award winners to draw from as I bitch, complain, or possibly even praise some of the award recipients from the event.

** I really liked”¦ that “Arrested Development” won the award for Outstanding Comedy. Sunday night after the awards, my friend Julie sent me and instant message telling me how FURIOUS she was that the show won over “Will & Grace” and “Sex and the City.” Sorry Jules, but I’m not on your side here. I thought “Curb Your Enthusiasm” might pull out the victory, but this was a pleasant surprise as well. I cite those two comedies and not “Sex and the City” or “Will & Grace” because, let’s be frank”¦the two shows really weren’t that “funny” this past year. Sure, there were some great moments the two experienced but “Arrested Development” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” constantly made me laugh out loud and didn’t rely on overly melodramatic storylines or comedic interactions on crack to entertain. Hey”¦I like both shows. They just weren’t the best of the past year”¦

**I really DIDN’T like”¦ that Allison Janney won the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama award. To be honest, I think all of the four other nominees deserved the award more than her. And that’s saying a lot for the category. One woman (Hargitay) had to overcome being stuck in a formulaic drama with very little actual character development; one woman had to deal with the fact she was only on television for 13 episodes, a lot less than the normal network show; one woman had to deal with the fact that no one watches her show despite it being real popular; and one woman isn’t old enough to drink and talks to God every week”¦The bottom line is anyone EXCEPT Allison Janney would have been a good candidate to win the award.

** I really liked”¦ that James Spader won the award Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama. I’ve written about him several times so I won’t sing his praises too much again except to say that I think he single handedly brought “The Practice” back to respectability, he will make the new “Boston Legal” watchable and (probably) very entertaining, and that Alan Shore is one of the Top 5 television characters of the last 25 years.

** I really DIDN’T like”¦ that both Kelsey Grammer AND David Hyde Pierce won their respective awards. I’ve always liked Frasier and Niles Crane but I think both Grammer and Pierce have done much better work in the past before the number of viewers tuning into the show was sliced in half. I admit it was nice to see different sides of both characters in its last year. Seeing Niles as a new father and Frasier as someone willing to leave Seattle and try something completely different certainly helped matters. However, I still think Tony Shalhoub or Larry David should have won over Kelsey Grammer and Brad Garrett or Jeffrey Tambor would have been better choices than David Hyde Pierce.

** I really liked”¦ that “The Daily Show with John Stewart” won Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series instead of “The Late Show with David Letterman.” “The Daily Show” always remains fresh and extremely relevant. This is in contrast with Letterman’s show in that as funny as he is, I always feel like he shows up at the Ed Sullivan Theatre at 4:15 p.m. for a 5:00 p.m. taping. For that matter, I think most of the writers are in that same category. It’s too bad “Chappelle’s Show” couldn’t be a “co-winner” with Jon Stewart together. Imagine those two accepting an award together?

** I really DIDN’T like”¦ that Sarah Jessica Parker won the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy award. Sure, she made me laugh at times, but I found Cynthis Nixon and Kim Cattrall’s performances to be much stronger. Parker just whined a lot and ended up picking the guy that screwed her over a number of times before”¦Great. Speaking of “Sex and the City” though”¦

** I really liked”¦ that Cynthia Nixon won the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy award. Her and Cattrall both were given even more responsibilities with their characters and both performed brilliantly. Either one of those two would have been better choices to win. However, as I said in the predictions column, I really liked Nixon’s performance as it was very interesting to see Miranda Hobbs evolve the way she did through that last year. She really did leave the audience wanting more.

** I really DIDN’T like”¦ that “The Sopranos” won Outstanding Drama Series because it certainly was a weak season overall and this wasn’t the year it deserved this award. David Chase and co. introduced a lot of storylines that were never addressed more than once or twice and the Adrianna’s eventual fate (a huge storyline that was addressed) could be spotted from a mile away. Hopefully, the award will be well deserved after its final season”¦in 2006. But in 2004? I found “24” to keep more of a consistent dramatic tone.

** I really liked”¦ that “The Sopranos” won Outstanding Drama Series simply because that meant “The West Wing” didn’t. Here’s hoping THAT show gets better this season too”¦

Some news”¦but in 500 words or less”¦

** Ratings — After last week’s organizational fiasco, I’m going to hold off on re-printing Nielsen’s ratings until I figure out how to do it in a neat and orderly fashion. However, one interesting development came right from this past Wednesday night when the series premiere of “CSI: New York” took on the season premiere of “Law & Order.”

And the winner is”¦

“CSI: New York” with a 12.1 rating over “Law & Orde’s” 10.7 according to Zap2it.com. Will that trend last though? Many viewers tune into shows out of sheer curiosity before losing interest later on. “CSI” won the battle but could end up losing the war.

** Mark Burnett might as well be a publicist”¦ — He practically revamped Donald Trump’s image, helped make the book “Lord of the Rings” be cool again to some degree and now his next challenge is to make Martha Stewart a marketable television commodity again.

It was announced that the reality show guru Mark Burnett (“The Apprentice” and “Survivor”) was hired as a consultant for the domestic goddess’s media company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. He will work on future projects the company puts out, including developing a prime time show for Stewart”¦Of course, this won’t be until next year when she’s released from her five-month prison sentence.

** ABC and Emilio Estevez are friends now”¦ — According to Zap2it.com, ABC has ordered a pilot for the Emilio Estevez led “Long Island Sound.” The half-hour comedy will feature Estevez as a Long Island family man who is fired from a big engineering job after 9/11 and has to reevaluate his life as he becomes a successful small-business entrepreneur. He will live with his wife, two kids, “a socially active aunt and her Alzheime’s inflicted father.”

Is it too late to re-develop it as a drama? This sounds MUCH more interesting that way than people making jokes about Alzheime’s Disease and, let’s hope I’m wrong about this one, Sept. 11. Stay tuned”¦.Since the pilot has been ordered, there’s a good chance this show could sniff a slot in the prime-time schedule”¦

** Fox makes some changes —The network has pulled the kinda sorta urban comedy “Method and Red” starring Method Man and Redman. During seven summer episodes in its Wednesday timeslot, the show only averaged 6.2 million viewers. That was enough to let it ride into September, but subsequent viewings have only secured 3.9 million. No one said the word “canceled” but it’s off the schedule anyway. It will be replaced by another episode of “The Bernie Mac Show.”

The network also removed Friday encores of “The Next Great Champ,” the reality show looking for the next boxing champion. It has been performing terribly on its original night (Tuesday) and Friday repeats barely registered a pulse at all (under 1.6 million). It will be replaced by”¦what else? repeats of “That 70s Show” and “The Simpsons.”

THE CLOSING CREDITS: Wednesday night TV

Is Wednesday night television becoming almost as “Must See TV” as Thursday night is? It could be argued that the answer to that question is a resounding: HELL YEAH!

We won’t even talk about Denis Leary’s terrific FX show “Rescue Me” which is closer to the end of its season than the beginning. But the choices are getting considerably tougher on this night thanks to some great debuts to go with some existing favorites. Consider the candidates for your time (and the use of your Digital Video Recorder device):

** “Smallville” (8:00 p.m. EST, the WB) — The show is a cult favorite among people in love with the comic book adaptation of Superman and those that like seeing hot, young people involved in some intriguing super natural drama. And the new season debuts with the old Lois Lane, Margot Kidder, doing a guest spot.

** “The Mountain (9:00, the WB) — The reviews haven’t been good, but viewers have bypassed reviews plenty of times before. The word is that “The Mountain” is “The O.C.” on a mountain in Colorado. The WB is generally more patient with their shows, so viewers may have a chance to get swept away in the in the beautiful faces and petty dramatic storylines.

** “Lost” (8:00, ABC) — I think every TV critic on the planet has given this particular show three stars, four stars, A’s, B’s, whatever it is that denotes a “really good show.” The premise is that after a plane crash, 48 passengers are stuck on a deserted island forced to deal with their own mortality and some sort of extra terrestrial type force that may or may not be real”¦It’s kind of “X-Files”-esque I’d say. Either way, it’s compelling television.

** “The Bachelor” (9:00, ABC) — Hmmm”¦what nice thing can I say about this show? I’ll get back to you”¦

** “Wife Swap” (10:00, ABC) — It’s better than the generic Fox version anyway. Word is, for a reality show, the producers appear to do a good job of letting “the reality” of two women switching families and house rules happen without too much visual manipulation. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can always tune in and bitch about the fact that the show reinforces the female ideal of someone that stays home and cooks, cleans, and takes care of the kids. This has a pile of academic studies written all over it”¦

** “America’s Next Top Model” (8:00, UPN) — I don’t know why people are fascinated by a bunch of skinny women trying to become a model. It must be the ridiculous, trivial bickering the women involve themselves with.

** “Veronica Mars” (9:00, UPN) — This is another show that appears to be getting good reviews across the board and it could be the first non-WWE/Tyra Banks show to generate some decent buzz for the clearly inferior sixth place network. The show follows Kristin Bell’s (“Deadwood”) Veronica Mars character as she gives up her life as the popular girl in high school to help investigate crimes with her detective father after a series of personal tragedies guide her that way. She’ll learn more about herself and a whole bunch of other people she never thought she would.

** “That ‘70s Show” (8:00, Fox) — Donna (Laura Prepon) is now a blonde; Eric (Topher Grace) wants to rekindle his romance with her after ditching their wedding, especially now that she’s a blonde; Kelso (Ashton Kutcher) is going to be a father; and Red (Kurtwood Smith) is going to go into business for himself. This appears to be the last season for the show and it’s shaping up to be a doozy.

** “The Bernie Mac Show” (9:00, Fox) — We’ll just call this show “reliably funny” and leave it at that.

** “The Bachelor” (9:00, ABC) — I couldn’t come up with anything. Sorry about that. They need a celebrity, and preferably not the third string Quarterback from the New York Giants…

** “Law & Order” (10:00, NBC) — Back for its 43rd season (or it feels that way anyway”¦), the show loses Jerry Orbach but gains Dennis Farina. I think it’s losing Elisabeth Rohm too, so that in itself could gain several rating points”¦That’s especially important because”¦

** “CSI: New York” (10:00, CBS) — It’s the spin-off of a spin-off, which is a bit weird. Nonetheless, it picks off where their colleagues in Las Vegas and Miami leave off and does so effectively. The star power in Oscar nominee Gary Sinise and former “Providence” star Melinda Kanakaredes also makes for great ratings. And whether or not it will outdraw “Law & Order” in that timeslot is about as intriguing and exciting as the rivalry we have with”¦.well, I won’t go there. Let’s just say Yankees/Red Sox and move on to the end”¦

Have a great weekend. I’ll be in lovely Washington, D.C. so I know I will!

— Coogan