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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Breaking: Jim Cramer on The Daily Show Thursday!

After weeks of back-and-forth and even some intervening from Stephen Colbert, CNBC’s Jim Cramer and Jon Stewart will finally face off when the Mad Money host appears on The Daily Show this Thursday at 11pm/10c. Two men will enter! Only two men will leave!

In case you missed it, here’s Jon Stewart lambasting Cramer on last night’s show.

Want more? Of course you do. Head over to Indecision for The Daily Show and Colbert’s Best Jim Cramer Moments, which will soon be one-clip shy of complete.

Original here

Why 'Heroes' should set an end date

Sylar Ask fans what the biggest problem with NBC’s “Heroes” is, and their top answer is “the writing.” Viewers expect big-ticket dramas to be as well crafted and exciting as top boxoffice movies nowadays, if not better.

The storytelling on “Heroes” has improved recently, and fans hope the return of "Pushing Daisies" creator Bryan Fuller to the show's writing staff will help even more. But overall “Heroes” has fallen short of the standard set by genre competitors like “24” and its own first season. Beyond advice like “better writing” or more specific notes like “less complex,” there’s something else NBC could do to improve the show: set a series end date.

The network has contemplated this option. Here are six reasons why it should pull the trigger:

>> Scarcity increases demand. Viewers like knowing there’s a grand plan, that the main story’s twists and turns are leading someplace finite. Viewers weirdly think of TV as both an entertaining distraction and a burdenlike “investment” of their valuable time. They want to know, like a marriage-minded lover in a relationship, that “this is going somewhere.”

>> Creatively, it helped “Lost,” "Battlestar Galactica” and "The Shield.” Serialized action dramas’ ongoing story lines and life-and-death stakes make long, open-ended runs problematic. Threats to central characters don’t carry much weight. Satisfying answers to long-standing questions are scarce. The writers longer are no longer telling the story; they’re telling the story before the story, and it gets more obvious every year. Once the end was in sight for “Lost,” “Battlestar” and “Shield,” writers confidently drove the story and even reached a pivotal event earlier than fans expected — getting off the island, the fleet finding Earth, Vic Mackey losing his job — then surprised audiences by moving toward a different conclusion than what long had been expected.

>> It probably improves ratings. Heavily serialized dramas tend to peak early, then lose viewers each year. We can’t know for sure that setting an end date helps because nobody knows what “Lost” and the other shows would have rated had they not decided to plan a series finale in advance. But judging by fan reaction and critics’ reviews, parties generally seem more satisfied with the shows once there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

>> “Heroes” is doomed anyway. “The toughest thing in TV is getting fans back to a show they have decided to quit,” one network executive notes. That “Heroes” is still the highest-rated drama on NBC is amazing considering it has dropped about 30% this season. The show is too expensive to keep trending in its current ratings direction. And given how much shows tend to fall during a summer break, next season has a strong chance of being the show’s last no matter what the network does. So why not set the series finale for two years from now — May 2011? It would give the show a better chance of surviving next season.

>> You can always renege. Here’s the part that fans will hate, but, c’mon, if “Heroes’ set an end date and miraculously surged in the ratings, do you really think NBC would let it die on schedule? Even the patron saint of TV dramas, HBO’s “The Sopranos,” couldn’t resist agreeing to another eight “bonus” episodes. You can always use this lame-but-effective justification: “We discovered that we had more story to tell.”

>> Assisted suicide = death with dignity. Admittedly, an end date for “Heroes” might not creatively help the show as much as “Lost,” “BSG” and “Shield” because there’s no overriding central question consistently driving the NBC show that fans instantly will recognize as being resolved by a finale (which arguably is “Heroes’ ” biggest problem). In other words: What does ending “Heroes” mean? You can pick a dozen plot questions and character threads raised during the past few years. But at least having an end date would force writers to choose one, or even decide a whole new one, figure out what the show is about and give “Heroes” a shot to finish on a strong note.

Original here

The CW Is Going Girly, And I Don't Like It


By Steve West

It was pointed out to me recently that ABC is now a chick network. I was asked what shows, aside from Lost, do I seek out each week from the alphabet. I couldn’t think of any offhand. The thing is, ABC may be a chick network but The CW is a chick targeting network now. Since the mingling of WB and UPN three years ago the network has turned to girls to drive the audience. An interesting tactic, but one that has come back to haunt the now fledgling network.

For a moment there it was thought CW could follow in Fox’s footsteps. Launch some original and revolutionary shows that build a core fanatic audience. Reaper, Smallville and Supernatural appeared to be ripe with opportunity. While Reaper is still as funny as always, I can’t help but feel the CW has missed the mark. They’ve created often cookie cutter shows that do nothing but entertain a handful of people each week.

With the stagnant state of the above mentioned shows the network has turned full force to girls. Right now a Gossip Girl spinoff is being worked on, and despite a 20% plus decline in viewers overall from last year for the CW shows like One Tree Hill are staying strong or even growing incrementally.

The issue is that such shows are a product of the times; they are in essence a fad. It’s the US Weekly of television entertainment. Whereas Fox used Married with Children and The Simpsons to build a solid foundation upon where to build a network that could take risks, and sometimes endure the typical bad executive decisions. The CW doesn’t have that. Smallville is a soap opera, and Reaper has so much potential but it would seem the show either won’t be back or will be undermined by the network to become much more about the Sam and Andi dynamic.

The popularity of Gossip Girl points to the genius of what the CW is trying to do. Unfortunately that popularity isn’t as great as any network would hope it to be. The CW is just hanging on, and in three years has yet to post viewership numbers that would indicate they’ll ever compete on the major network level. Unlike FX or USA, the CW is not a cable network. They have to compete on the same field as ABC and CBS. The advantage of riskier stories and subjects isn’t an option. There can be no Damages on the CW.

But there can be a 24, or a Lost. Shows that gain huge numbers while simultaneously building a loyalty to the network. What the major networks, which Fox is clearly now one of, know is that you can’t always play to the fad. Most certainly you can’t target one minor demographic across your entire schedule. That’s for a cable network to do.

If the CW is serious about staying around longer than Supernatural remains on the air then they have to look into broadening their horizons. They have to take the risk of having a subversive show.

Things are not looking good for that prospect. Right now the network in the process of producing yet another girl driven show in The Body Politic, which focuses on a young woman who comes to Washington, D.C. to become an aide in order to learn more about her father. The premise for the hour drama is yet another in a cavalcade of girl focused programming. This may be what CW Entertainment President Dawn Ostroff intends for the network, but it has little growth potential.

A successful 90210 and Melrose Place spinoff may be lucrative for the development studios, but for the CW it’s a potential death knell. Even the cable networks are branching out their content a little bit. FX has not only hard hitting drama like Damages, but a lighter side to the same coin in Rescue Me. USA has its quirky Monk and Psych comedies, but allows Burn Notice to tread lines far closer to the MacGuyver’s and Magnum’s of olden times.

Fans of shows like Gossip Girl need to be worried, because if the CW goes down there’s little chance any of the major networks will take a second look at the series. I don’t care what ABC wants to run the rest of the week to keep themselves a major player, as long as I can still have my Lost fix. If Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy weren’t allowed to flourish then who knows if I’d be able to watch Sawyer parade around as Mr. LaFleur. Variety isn’t just the spice of life, it’s the way to get your network to a place where Dollhouse and American Idol can co-exist. The CW is slowly abandoning that paradigm for something far riskier than subversive programming; a complete irrelevance to the viewing public.

Original here

South Park to Skewer The Jonas Brothers

posted by: matt tobey

The 13th season premiere of South Park is this Wednesday night at 10pm/9c, and this time they’re taking aim at America’s biggest teen heartthrobs.

Kenny and his new girlfriend go to a Jonas Brothers concert in the 13th season premiere of “South Park” titled, “The Ring.” “South Park” returns with seven all-new episodes beginning Wednesday, March 11 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on COMEDY CENTRAL.

Thinking it’s his way into her heart and other body parts, Kenny takes his new girlfriend to a Jonas Brothers concert. His dream of taking their relationship to the next level is crushed when the Jonas Brothers give them purity rings.

Original here