Tag Archives: NBC

Recap: The 2014-2015 Network Upfronts

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by Kendra James

There was one clear winner at the network Upfronts this year: DC Comics.

Yes, DC Comics a company that hasn’t managed to do much this year except piss off their fans, came from behind, hurdled over the teen barrier that is the CW network, and dominated the fall 2014 pilot season. Thanks to pickups on NBC, FOX, and the CW, DC (in part with Marvel’s presence on ABC) has managed to leave CBS as the only network without a show centered around superheroes.

Of course, with a demographic needle pointed exclusively at the 45 and older column and two more NCIS and CSI spinoffs headed our way, it’s possible CBS just doesn’t care. Not that CBS was the only network with a line of uninspired pickups for the fall season– there’s plenty more of that (and the full details of DC’s television takeover) under the cut.

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The Heroes We’d Like To See Most In Heroes: Reborn

By Arturo R. García

Just as we’re getting used to having a show about zombies around again, NBC went one step further and dug up a show that is a zombie.

Yes, Heroes is apparently returning from the grave, with original showrunner Tim Kring in tow, sometime next year. As sensible longtime readers might have bleached out of their brain, the series’ first iteration ended, mercifully, with a pre-Nashville Claire-Bear outing the metahuman population to the world after Team Benetrelli saved the world from a group of angry carnival workers. Which gives just a little more heft to this bit of spin from NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke:

Until we get closer to air in 2015, the show will be appropriately shrouded in secrecy, but we won’t rule out the possibility of some of the show’s original cast members popping back in.

Sure, on one level that can be interpreted as a polite way for Salke to say, “PLEEEEEEEASE HAYDEN COME BACK,” but if the show really is a continuation and not just a “reimagining,” it puts Heroes in a very interesting position.

The genre television renaissance it helped define is mostly floundering; sure, Arrow gets its fair share of good reviews, but Agents of SHIELD has struggled to gain its footing and the British cult favorite Misfits has concluded. With Smallville long gone, Supernatural nearing the end of its run, Doctor Who surviving on a spread-out schedule and the CW’s Gotham and Flash projects looking unsteady, Heroes can reasonably expect to attract fans hoping for a return to its Series One risk-taking prime.

But for Reborn to truly thrive will take not just new blood, but picking the right (affordable) old faces to bring back. And more than anything, it is going to require Kring to learn from some of his costliest mistakes in the first go-round.
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Quoted: Jeff Yang on SNL and Yellowface

In early January, you took a step — a big step — to address your lack of diversity by bringing aboard new castmember Sasheer Zamata, the first African American woman player for nearly six seasons, and two African American female writers, too:  LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones. But last Saturday was a reminder that this big step is only the first one.

That’s because, in a show being hosted by the awesome Melissa McCarthy, you turned her opening monologue into a skit about her feud with castmember Bobby Moynihan — a feud that erupted into a high-flying, wire-swinging martial arts duel between the duo. Now, let’s set aside the fact that the humorous context of their fisticuffs seems to have been anchored in the comic sight of a pair of lovably large people pirouetting through the air; they were game and graceful, and I tip my hat to the midair somersault McCarthy managed to pull off.

But it was almost as if you knew there weren’t enough yuks in just having McCarthy and Moynihan punching it out, Shaw Brothers style (and you were right). So to underscore the joke, you put a little yellow icing on the cake, bringing in a squinting, eyebrow-quirking Taran Killam in a Nehru jacket to play the fight’s narrator, complete with stilted accent and gong. (Taran Killam — Cobie Smulders’s husband. You know, the actress on CBS’s “How I Met Your Mother” who was just slammed for doing yellowface two weeks ago?)

Whoa, SNL. That wasn’t cool, and it wasn’t particularly funny, either. It looked like a desperate move to save a skit that was going nowhere. It was embarrassing. And even Killam himself seemed to look vaguely uncomfortable, as if he was saying in his head, “I’m only doing this because I’m the closest thing this show has to an actual Asian dude.”

– From The Wall Street Journal

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Pilot Season 2013-2014

By Kendra James

Last year, around this time, I was nursing far too high expectations for a little pilot season pickup called Deception. This year I’m just really glad it’s been cancelled so that the actors involved can escape with some dignity intact. One can’t say the same about Community.

Yeah, it’s that time again. Most networks are at least 80% set with their 2013-2014 Fall/Winter lineups. For better worse you will be sitting through another season of potentially Harmon-less Community. As Abed might say, some stations just like to watch the world burn.

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The Racialicious TV Roundup: 2.26-3.3

By Arturo R. García and Kendra James

Kevin Hart greets the crowd before his opening monologue on “Saturday Night Live.”

Kevin Hart hosts SNL: Not only did Kevin Hart get to host a funnier than usual Saturday Night Live this week, he got NBC to play an ad for his BET parody show, Real Husbands of Hollywood, during the broadcast. Miracles really do happen.

The gems of the evening included Hart’s opening monologue (these are always better when the show’s writers have nothing to do with them), “The Z Shirt” (90s nostalgia rarely fails), and Really? With Seth and Kevin (commentary on the Voting Rights Act debate stuck between some less funny “Weekend Update” material).
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The Least Happy Jamaican: On Volkswagen’s Super Bowl Commercial

By Guest Contributor Suzanne Persard

Am I the last Jamaican to miss the happiness train?

After millions of hits on YouTube and a whirl of international attention, arguably the most popular commercial Volkswagen has ever aired, has been approved by “100 Jamaicans,” hailed as humorous by hundreds of other Jamaicans, and endorsed by the Jamaican Minister of Tourism.

The ad features a white man from Minnesota speaking exaggeratedly in patois, urging his unhappy coworkers to become happier with phrases like, “Yuh know what dis room needs? A smile!”  Clearly, this is Volkswagen’s way of telling you, Jamaicans are happy! You should be happy, too! Buy a 2013 Volkswagen Beetle and get happy!
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Quoted: Think Progress On Hollywood “Colorblindness”

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And it’s that space in between utter colorblindness and cancerous racism that Hollywood—not to mention other sectors of society—seems to have so much trouble with. Most of us aren’t saints who are wholly untainted by racism or Klan members. Instead, we grow up with ingrained and historically determined conceptions about race that influence our behavior, we learn that those ideas are social constructions rather than immutable truths, and we grapple with those realizations. Many people of color in this country are fortunate enough not to be subject to violent hate crimes but not fortunate enough to be free of more subtle and pernicious racism. And if you’re white, as I am, your life is affected by your race, too, but in ways that have been treated as if they’re natural and unremarkable. All of this seems rather unsurprising to me and very definitely interesting. But so often in Hollywood, it is dangerous territory.

It’s a good thing that white writers have become conscious of the idea that it’s bad to speak on behalf of people of color in a way such that people of color’s perspectives are treated as unnecessary. But to become afraid to speak about race at all is to minimize the importance of race’s substantive influence on our lives. If “Deception’s” creators think being nuanced about race would crowd out other issues they said they want to explore like family, they haven’t thought hard enough about the ways that differing attitudes about race can divide white families even today. And if they don’t want to consider how growing up as a black woman in the family of her mother’s white employer affected Joanna, they are missing out on opportunities to give her specific insight and strengths. Addressing racial difference, in other words, can be a way to unearth narratively interesting pain. But being willing to see racial difference can also mean coming into contact with new ideas, perspectives, and cultural and historical traditions that make a show and a character–or a life–fuller and more unique.

–Alyssa Rosenberg, “NBC’s ‘Deception,’ And Why Colorblindness Is Not Progressive”