November 8, 2014

Social Media | Constantine 1.3 Live-Tweet

Constantine hit the moron bar last week by having John Constantine say “there’s nothing blacker than gypsy magic”. That’s lamentable, not so much for the Romani slur as for gypsy magic being a writer’s crutch. For instance, a ‘fortune teller’s’ curse is the justification for spinning off Frog Thor into his own character (yes, Marvel; work with me here), as opposed to a temporarily transformed Thunder God. Keep in mind, that’s canon introduced by Walter Simonson in 1986, and expanded on by Chris Eliopoulos in 2009. No one’s retconned the gypsy as being a Norse god in disguise, which is simple enough to do.

My big worry for Constantine is that it has a more fun tone than The Flash (2014) right now. How does that even work? I realize The Flash is in his share of more ‘dramatic’ stories, but when The Flash (2014) is more weighty (and angsty – it’s not a Berlanti series if it lacks suitable soul-scraping) than a television show based on Hellblazer, that’s just odd. It’s like Shazam wanting to grow up as quickly as possible, and Dr. Sivana becoming a muscular gu…wait. DC likes to screw with its properties sometimes.

In my opinion, the current DC live-action television universe has its share of problems. The chief culprit is the shows blending into a well-made, if largely surprise-free, whole. I still prefer this scenario to the early 1990s, when shows based on DC Comics characters went for an episodic low-budget feel (aside from, weirdly enough, the 1990-91 version of The Flash), while the comics ran the gamut from typical 1990s fare to well-written Vertigo series. Right now, Constantine needs to differentiate itself from Supernatural, Grimm and Doctor Who; I’m not sure if it will accomplish that feat right now, given how American network television works. Constantine could be cancelled before it really cooks.


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October 31, 2014

Social Media | Constantine 1.2 Live-Tweet

To be honest, I enjoyed the first episode of Constantine. Its Metacritic score is lower than Gotham and The Flash, but that’s to be expected. It’s a horror show aired in the ass end of Friday night. The ironic thing about Constantine is that it’s the most direct adaptation of a DC Comics title (specifically, The Saga of the Swamp Thing and early Hellblazer) currently on prime time, live-action television.

Constantine is the only current DC Entertainment live-action television adaptation with the main character not created in the Golden Age (John Constantine first appeared in the June 1984 issue of The Saga of the Swamp Thing), so ironically, he’s less old-hat than a man based on Robin Hood, a man who runs really fast, and a young version of the character that defined Detective Comics. Just saying.


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October 27, 2014

Social Media | Constantine 1.1 Live-Tweet

Apologies in advance for the way this post looks. Keep in mind, this is still an experiment for Gloryosky – that, and I realized I can embed a Storify story. I’m just that stupid. In any case, look for Gotham and Strange Empire live-tweet results later in the night, as I continue following Canadian dramas and DC live-action shows until everything coalesces into a Gotham by Gaslight storyline.

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August 20, 2014

TV News | Working the Engels cancelled by NBC and Shaw Media

As first mentioned by The Hollywood Reporter’s Etan Vlessing, Shaw Media confirmed the cancellation of Global/NBC sitcom Working the Engels on August 20, 2014. As mentioned in an earlier Gloryosky article, American ratings were soft for the Andrea Martin/Kacey Rohl sitcom since its July 10, 2014 NBC debut. The show was co-developed by Shaw Media and NBCUniversal, and produced by Halfire Entertainment.

Working the Engels’ Nielsen viewership on NBC first dipped below two million on July 31, 2014; the viewing figures are consistent with Working the Engels’ Canadian performance on Global, as the show suffered through similarly weak ratings above the 49th parallel. NBC cancels Working the Engels after five episodes; the show was preempted August 14, 2014 by the eighth-season finale of Last Comic Standing.

As Working the Engels’ future hinged on its NBC performance after the weak Global run, this is about as cut-and-dried a cancellation as one gets in Canadian television. Regardless of Working the Engels’ perceived quality, relatively few viewers watched the show in the two countries where its performance most mattered. This doesn’t end Shaw Media and NBCUniversal’s co-development partnership – Variety’s Shelli Weinstein mentions Halfire Entertainment police procedural Rope, with Rookie Blue and Flashpoint executive producer Tassie Cameron attached to the project.

As a result of Working the Engels’ NBC cancellation, Welcome to Sweden airs two episodes on NBC August 21, 2014, assuming Working the Engels’ Thursday timeslot for the time being.

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August 5, 2014

TV News/Article | Summer 2014 American network ratings for Canadian shows

On August 1, 2014, The Wrap listed then-current Nielsen viewing averages for the sixty-two American network shows airing new episodes during the summer 2014 season. Granted, multiple nights of CBS stalwart Big Brother and NBC stalwart America’s Got Talent count as separate shows, as do shows with multiple spinoffs (hi, multiple flavours of Dateline NBC and 20/20), and shows with multiple airings (NBC’s Undateable, CBS’ Bad Teacher).

Five Canadian shows compete for viewers in this summer silly season. The viewing averages for the five Canadian shows – if you want to be pedantic, four Canadian shows, and a co-production led by CBS Television Studios – are as follows:

12. Rookie Blue, ABC (6,665,000; original airing on Global)
49. Working the Engels, NBC (2,389,000; original airing on Global)
59. Beauty and the Beast, The CW (1,280,000; Canadian airing on Showcase)
61. Seed, The CW (497,000; original airing on City)
62. Backpackers, The CW (471,000; repackaged form of CTV Extend online series)

Rookie Blue is a durable workhorse for both Global and ABC. It’s the sixth-highest-rated scripted show on American network television this summer, and ABC’s highest-rated summer scripted show. There’s no news on Rookie Blue’s future beyond its current 22-episode order, as the order is split into two separate seasons.

With sixty-three episodes in the can, and eleven more to air in 2015, Rookie Blue can afford to go into reruns. ABC Entertainment president Paul Lee mentioned that ABC might want to wind Rookie Blue up. If ABC wants to end its association with Rookie Blue, it will be a financial and/or aesthetic decision; the ratings for the fifth season were great in Canada, and the most consistently high since Rookie Blue’s first season on Global. Airing episodes a month ahead of ABC worked in Global’s favour. Rookie Blue knows its audience, and retains that audience.

Working the Engels is in direct competition with Rookie Blue, Fox’s Gang Related, and Big Brother in America. As the worst-performing new show on NBC’s summer 2014 schedule, coupled with its anemic Global performance earlier this year, Working the Engels’ future is based on whether NBC and/or Shaw Media want to bite the financial bullet for a second season. Its lead-in, Welcome to Sweden, was recently renewed by NBC for a second season, so Working the Engels has a chance.

Beauty and the Beast has already been renewed by The CW for a third season; this is just a burnoff of new episodes after The CW pulled Beauty and the Beast off its schedule in March 2014. Given BatB’s soft ratings in its second season on The CW, it’s lucky to get a third. BatB is only listed here due to Take 5 Productions and Whizbang Films’ involvement with the show; with this and Reign, Take 5 and Whizbang have a respectable presence on The CW.

Seed and Backpackers were both mercy-killed by The CW after two low-rated episodes. Even though The CW is not an American program service on par with the Big Four (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox), Seed and Backpackers’ numbers would be mediocre performances on Canada’s Big Four (CBC, CTV, Global, City). Even CBC’s 18 to Life was given three weeks on The CW, and The CW aired two episodes of that sitcom per week.

Backpackers is a “digital series” (read: broadcast-ready webseries) that hasn’t aired on Canadian television in a half-hour form. It got to play on an American broadcast program service; that’s something “traditional” sitcoms like Mr. D and Spun Out can’t currently say. At the same time, Seed and Backpackers shat the bed ratings-wise. Even for acquisitions, Backpackers shedding 240,000 viewers in a week means Backpackers won’t get to the six shows meant for broadcast first-run.

Rogers Media’s involvement with Mr. D, coupled with the announcement of Bruce McCulloch’s Young Drunk Punk, means Seed might not make it to a third season. It’s up to Rogers Media to renew Seed for a third season, but after its disastrous run on The CW, I don’t think it will happen.

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January 15, 2010

News: XIII: The Conspiracy to DVD and Blu-ray February 2010

XIII: The Conspiracy, the France-Canada co-production which aired on NBC in February 2009, will be coming to DVD and Blu-ray February 9, 2010.  The miniseries stars Val Kilmer, Stephen Dorff, Jessalyn Gilsig and Stephen McHattie.  XIII: The Conspiracy will be released by Phase 4 Films for North American consumption.

XIII: The Conspiracy is based on the Franco-Belgian comic book series about an amnesiac searching for his past.  The miniseries centres around a conspiracy theory tied to the assassination of the President of the United States, Sally Sheridan (Mimi Kuzyk.)  XIII refers to a tattoo, the only thing identifying Dorff’s character.

XIII: The Conspiracy first aired on France’s Canal+ in October 2008.  In Canada, XIII: The Conspiracy aired on Showcase and Mystery TV.  I’m not even sure if Canwest aired XIII: The Conspiracy on Global.  XIII: The Conspiracy was announced for Global, but that was in the days when E! existed and Canwest wasn’t yet a crumbling media entity.

Considering Jay Firestone’s Prodigy Pictures helped produce the series, this is CanCon, albeit of the co-pro variety.  XIII: The Conspiracy isn’t bad, but it felt at the time like NBC’s belated attempt to cash in on the success of Fox’s 24.

A XIII: The Conspiracy regular series has been announced, although there’s not much information about the series beyond that.  If anyone knows more about XIII: The Conspiracy, please comment on this blog entry.  I won’t be convinced the series exists until XIII: The Conspiracy has a cable channel or network behind it.

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June 2, 2009

TV Review | The Listener 1.1, 1.2 – “I’m An Adult Now,” “Emotional Rescue”

The Listener (CTV/SPACE/NBC: premieres June 3, 10:00 PM ET on CTV, 7:00 PM ET on SPACE; in regular timeslot starting June 4, 10:00 PM ET on CTV, 7:00 PM ET on SPACE; two-hour premiere June 4, 9:00 PM ET/8:00 CT on NBC) is the type of filler CTV used to air quite a bit of in the 1990s.  It fits right in with FX: The Series, La Femme Nikita and John Woo’s Once a Thief – watchable enough that it should acquire a fan following, but lightweight.

What amazes me is that NBC bought the show for its summer schedule.  I’m not saying Canadian television is superior to American television – for every Slings and Arrows there are five to ten Gutter Ball Alleys.  The Listener was bought by NBC due both to the WGA writer’s strike and its abandonment of the traditional development process.

The Canadian shows floated on American networks aren’t the best, either – Flashpoint is workmanlike and entertaining, but it’s a cop procedural in a sea of cop procedurals.  The Listener seems more suited for a SciFi (I’m sorry, SyFy) airing than a summer slot on NBC.  Of course, NBC’s prime-time ratings are almost the lowest they’ve ever been, so any edge, I guess.

Toby Logan (Craig Olejnik) is the central protagonist of the series.  The first episode sets up Logan’s world – his coming to terms with his mind-reading, his relationship with mentor Dr. Ray Mercer (Colm Feore), his personal life and day job as a paramedic.  The Listener establishes its premise, gives the viewer a few characters to love/hate and fucks around for an hour.

It’s standard dramatic sci-fi television, Early Edition with mindreading taking the place of a magic newspaper.  I also get a Millennium vibe from Logan’s mind-pictures.  The Listener could have easily debuted in 1996, so well-worn is its premise.

The second episode, which NBC decided to pair with the first on the same night, strengthens Logan’s relationship with Detective Charlene “Charlie” Marks (Lisa Marcos), a tough cop who can’t discern how someone like Logan is able to anticipate events better than she can.  Small spoiler: someone falls from a large height in both episodes.  The Listener is the very definition of cookie cutter.

Aside from Dr. Mercer and fellow paramedic Osman Bey (Ennis Esmer), The Listener‘s characters aren’t very interesting.  Feore and Esmer do what they can with their material, as they are the only two convincing actors on the show.  Olejnik isn’t horrible as the lead character, but he’s too slight to focus on week after week.  He’s only there as The Listener‘s main himbo.

NBC is placing a lot of faith in The Listener since it recently gave the show a two-hour block to debut in.  Despite this, I wonder about The Listener‘s success.  Either NBC’s hoping for The Listener to become a summer hit or it’s burning the show off like flash paper.

CTV has joined in the rescheduling madness, so I’m leaning towards the former scenario.  Hell, I’m hoping The Listener hits big.  I just wish The Listener was a less generic, more interesting show, but that’s the American prime-time bran tub for you.

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January 10, 2009

TV Reviews | Howie Do It 1.1 vs. Marketplace 36.1

Howie Do It (NBC/Global: Friday, 8:00 PM ET/PT) and Marketplace (CBC: Friday, 8:30 PM ET/PT) are similar in certain ways.  Both Marketplace and Howie Do It use hidden cameras and feature people who don’t necessarily want to be caught on television.  Marketplace directly competes against Howie Do It in Canada on a weak television night.

The age-old question: is a half-hour consumer affairs show funnier than an hour of television pranks?  We’ll find out – right now!


CBC News: Marketplace
Hosts: Wendy Mesley and Erica Johnson
Season: thirty-sixth

Mike Holmes appears on Marketplace, as he does these days whenever Marketplace talks about housing.  The show travels to Hamilton, Ontario, where an estimated one out of six houses are built in violation of building permit regulations.

The story focuses on Hamilton builder Brett Wright and his Londonderry Residential Group.  Eighteen houses on a single street were built by his company before permits were issued.

Needless to say, the houses are badly built.  Hamilton housing officials look like boobs for not enforcing their building codes.  Even Tarion, Ontario’s new home warranty program, comes off badly.

This is a typical Marketplace story, and quite a strong one to start off the season.  House-based episodes generally make for good television and this episode is no exception.

Erica Johnson’s short item is somewhat pointless.  Someone can buy a ticket from Ticketmaster and resell it at TicketsNow, which was bought by Ticketmaster in 2008.  Ticketmaster profits from surcharges and TicketsNow collects a fifteen percent commission.

The piece is two solid minutes of “well, duh.”  Ticketmaster knows there’s money to be made from online scalping.  It’s a no-brainer in the free market.  That doesn’t make Ticketmaster’s double-dipping right, but since when do businesses have to be ethical?

Marketplace bigs itself up a bit too much this episode, but I’m glad the show’s in a timeslot where CBC affiliates can’t preempt it.  Marketplace is a fairly strong show at this point in its history – good hosts, solid reporting, keeps itself current.  Scheduling Marketplace after The Rick Mercer Report is stupid, but at least this show is in better shape than the fifth estate.


Howie Do It
Host: Howie Mandel
Season: first

Wow, I am amazed at the show’s set.  It literally looks like a set from the late 1980s.  The entire show feels like it came from the 1980s.  Wait, that’s not true – the theme song is from the mid-1990s.  There is not one thing on this show that’s new aside from a drummer, and he’s completely unnecessary to Howie Do It.

I honestly wasn’t expecting much from Howie Do It, but I didn’t know it was going to be as bad as it is.  Mandel wears glasses and a David Duchovny wig and that’s supposed to make him a whole different person, but doesn’t bother disguising his voice after the first prank.  Mandel even uses a leaf blower and garden hose in tandem at one point.  Howie Wowie, what a gasser.

I know Howie Do It is short-run programming while NBC “fixes” (ha!) Deal or No Deal, but is NBC this bereft of ideas?  Wait, NBC doesn’t order pilots anymore and ceded weeknights at 10:00-11:00 PM to Jay Leno, so yes.

I’ll be amazed if Howie Do It lasts the full six weeks it’s been slotted for on NBC.  Say hello to reruns of Most Outrageous Moments in a few weeks.  Howie Get Cancelled.


Funnier Show: Marketplace!

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