It was a great year for television. Or at least certain types of it.
It was a great year for television. Or at least certain types of it.
Earlier this year, The Simpsons kicked off its latest season. Its thirty-first, to be precise.
Though I’ve been watching the show since childhood, I’m continually amazed when each new season begins: “It’s been on how long?” In 2009, the show broke the record as America’s longest-running scripted series (previously held by Gunsmoke), and last year, it broke the record for most episodes ever produced for a scripted series (previously held by… Gunsmoke). And in 2021, The Simpsons will become the longest-running sitcom in the world.
But with each mention of the show’s immortality, someone invariably brings up the caveat. “The Simpsons isn’t funny anymore. It hasn’t been funny since the ‘90s.”
Millenia after our civilization reduces itself to a pile of ash and nuclear waste, alien archaeologists will ponder many questions – chief among them being “Who were these creatures, and why were they so obsessed with ‘streaming services’?” As they sift through the rubble with meticulous tentacles (or maybe hands – sorry for the stereotype, aliens!), they will attempt to piece together how this unorthodox form of televisual consumption came to be, how it grew in popularity – and the moment it went too far.
And if my prediction is accurate (again, it’ll be a few thousand years till we’re sure), they will conclude that moment to be somewhere in November 2019.
In retrospect, I can’t fault the producers of the 71st Annual Emmy Awards for choosing to go without a host. Certainly, someone looked at the year’s earlier Oscar ceremony, which proved competent and watchable even with the unfilled vacancy left by the ousting of Kevin Hart. And certainly that person also theorized that it probably wasn’t worth the time and effort to track down a celebrity host for the Emmys and then learn from the world’s most valiant anonymous trolls that said celebrity had written a couple of off-color tweets in 2008. Add in the fact that this year’s show was broadcast on FOX, a network which doesn’t have any late-night hosts to fall back on (their last Emmys was hosted by Andy Samberg, star of Brooklyn Nine-Nine – a show the network no longer even owns) and you could be forgiven for allowing the production to air without an emcee.
But having sat through last night’s extremely boring and extraordinarily unfunny ceremony, I will take anyone to the mat if they suggest that the Emmys should continue this trend into next year.
Okay, full disclosure: I originally wrote a long introduction to this piece about whether or not we should care about the Emmys this much (we shouldn’t) and what they say about the state of TV at large (very little). But then my dinosaur-age computer blew a fuse and said intro was lost to history. So I’m just going to skip the intro and dive straight into what it says on the tin: Who will win this year’s Emmy awards?
(Also, obligatory reminder that roughly 50% of the money you make from these predictions rightfully belongs to me.)
On Thursday, Netflix cancelled One Day at a Time, its delightful revival of Normal Lear’s 1970s family sitcom of the same name. In an apologetic Twitter statement, the streaming service stated that, despite their love for the show, “simply not enough people watched to justify another season.”
In the introduction to last year’s installment of my annual “Best TV Shows” series, I lamented the fact that television had grown so voluminous in its content, and so fragmented in its appeal, that great shows no longer stood out the way they once did. Competitive-minded producers, sensing the need to stand out in an increasingly crowded field, have birthed countless shows designed to appeal to smaller and smaller demographics. And while some of these little-watched shows have been quite good, most of them… uh, no longer need to be.
It’s that time of year again. The time when all the uppity and pretentious critics all hunch over their desks and type out their picks for the best films/shows/books/albums/games/celebrity pratfalls of the last 12 months. As a somewhat uppity and pretentious critic myself (albeit one who doesn’t hunch, for posture purposes), I’m all too eager to join the fray. I’ll be posting my “Best Films of 2018” piece next week, with a “Best TV Shows of 2018” article following shortly after.
Begun, the streaming wars have.
When it comes to the Emmy Awards, I’ve long held two mindsets. The Jekyll in me wants to root for the nominees I love, and cheer whenever a lesser-known gem takes home the gold. But the Hyde in me is urged to snark my way through the ceremony, mocking the self-important Hollywood types who’ve devoted a dry and often artless night to congratulating themselves.
May 14, 1998, marked the end of two pop-cultural touchstones. One was Frank Sinatra, who died in Los Angeles at the age of 82. The other was the TV series Seinfeld, which aired its final episode on NBC that evening.
It may seem trivial to lump a man’s life with a TV show, but while Sinatra was mourned by many, the end of Seinfeld garnered even greater recognition. NBC devoted its entire Thursday night comedy block to the show – an hourlong retrospective clip show, followed by the hourlong finale. The episode attracted over 76 million viewers, making it one of the most-watched TV finales of all time. (No other series finale since then has come close to that number, with only one – the Friends finale – even getting halfway there.)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has just been broken.
Has it really been ten years since the premiere of Breaking Bad?
2017 may have at last been the year in which quantity overtook quality.
With over 500 shows airing this year, across more networks and streaming platforms than ever before, the world of television is bursting at the seams. And the effects were clear: This year saw multiple networks (WGN, A&E, Cinemax) get pushed out of the scripted-TV business by sheer force of competition. There was a narrowly-averted writers’ strike, attributed largely to the evolving nature of the business. And some of the best shows on television slipped between the cracks unnoticed, with viewership numbers that scored in the mere six-digits.
I wasn’t sure if I’d have the strength to finish this guide. Studio 60 takes a lot out of a guy, particularly when he reviews 11 episodes in one go. But I’ve been watching a lot of Saturday Night Live lately, and it’s reminded me that – even after all these decades, and even in a largely uneven season – sketch comedy can still bring joy to the world. It can bring laughter to us when we most need it.
After weeks of swirling rumors, the news has finally been confirmed: Disney is buying 20th Century Fox.
The mouse-eared media giant announced its plans yesterday to buy out one of its chief cinematic rivals, acquiring the rights to the X-Men, Avatar, The Simpsons,, and a slew of other TV and film properties in the process. The cost for this maneuver? A little over $52 billion.
Fifteen years ago, Firefly premiered.
And slightly under fifteen years ago, it ended.
It’s that time of year again. The time when rich people gather into a big ballroom and repeatedly pat themselves on the back. The time when awards are handed out to people based on quality and also how much money they spent on campaigning. The time when a host makes some modestly humorous jokes and then disappears after the first twenty minutes. (Okay, I don’t expect much “modesty” from Stephen Colbert these days. But hey, twenty minutes.)
In June 1998, Time Magazine published an issue with a most unusual cover. The image displayed the pictured heads of four women: Susan B. Anthony, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and… Ally McBeal. The first three heads were printed in black-and-white, the fourth in full color. Beneath the picture of McBeal were printed three boldened words: “Is Feminism Dead?”
As a kid, I was afraid of everything.
That might sound like an exaggeration, but only because you didn’t know me as a kid. So let me clarify: As a kid, I was afraid of everything.
By the time she was first approached to run the all-new CW Network, Dawn Ostroff had thirty years of media experience behind her – twenty in radio news (where she had started work as a teenager), and another ten in television. In 1996, she had joined Lifetime, a network with programming aimed at women, and presided over successful shows like Any Day Now and The Division. In 2002, she left her post to become President of UPN. And when the struggling UPN was merged with the WB into a shiny new network, CBS President Les Moonves chose her to lead the way.
When he was first introduced back in 1986, the Tick was designed as a superhero parody – a deconstruction of the familiar tropes and clichés typically associated with the comic book brand. It was a tone that continued in the popular 1990s animated series, and in the early 2000s with the short-lived live-action series (which I wrote about earlier this week). Now, Ben Edlund and Amazon have brought us a new Tick – only this time (dramatic pause) it’s different.
“Gravity. It’s a harsh mistress.” – The Tick (after falling down an elevator shaft)
Superheroes are everywhere these days, aren’t they? The summer movie season is flooded with capes-and-tights blockbusters. A heroic new TV series seems to debut every few weeks. They appear on all sorts of merchandise, ranging from backpacks and T-shirts to pencils and toothbrushes. And hey, sometimes they even appear in comic books.
“Y’know,” a friend once told me, “there really aren’t that many days of summer vacation.”
You like good TV, don’t you? I mean, you obviously do, or else you wouldn’t be on this site. We at Critically Touched write a lot about good TV, and great TV, and all the TV in between. Rarely, however, do we take the time to write about bad TV.
I make fun of the Emmy Awards a lot, and with good reason. They constantly pick the same shows over and over. They fail to recognize many of television’s greatest and most laudable shows. They constantly change their own voting rules, to the point that it all currently amounts to little more than a popularity contest. And when all is said and done, they’re just another awards ceremony in which Hollywood congratulates Hollywood for being Hollywood.
Continue reading “The 2017 Emmy Nominees Are Surprising… But Not Shocking”
People sometimes ask me: “How do you know so much about television?” (Well, technically, they ask “Why do you know so much about television?”) Truth be told, I was not born with a silver remote in my mouth. I accumulated this knowledge through reading. Lots of reading.
Continue reading “8 Books for the TV Addict”
“I used to be passionate, inspired, alive. Now, I’m mostly just hungry. And… a zombie. So there’s that.” – Liv
Full disclosure: I’ve never been a fan of zombie fiction. The horror genre has delivered a seemingly never-ending string of vampires, mummies, and werewolves, and while plenty of ghoul-centric books, films, and TV shows have been spookily entertaining, zombie-centric stories, with their moaning, groaning, brain-chewing antagonists, have always struck me as repulsive. Continue reading “Get Onboard: iZombie”
Pop quiz: When was the last time you watched an episode of I Love Lucy?
How about an episode of Perry Mason? Or Maude? Or Magnum, P.I.?
Continue reading “Classic TV is Dying Out. Can It Be Saved?”