Two more soaps got the ax last week. In other news, there are still soaps. This was the week in TV Land:
• Taking square aim at our nation's stay-at-home parents, sick school children, and shut-ins with low standards, ABC announced last week that it's canceling All My Children and One Life to Live. It's a financial decision tied to the series' falling ratings; at a certain point, it becomes much more attractive to the network to run unscripted talk shows than cover the costs of a show like All My Children. It's the latest in a string of soap cancellations -- in the past couple years, CBS has axed Guiding Light and As the World Turns -- that leaves the genre, which used to be a staple of daytime programming, down to just a handful of entries. There are actually only four left: General Hospital on ABC, Days of Our Lives on NBC, and The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful on CBS. There's also a way to understand the dwindling soaps as an offshoot of the networks' growing reliance on new media. Soaps don't get DVD releases, and there's usually a limited window in which they're available online. Factor in a ratings drop, and it's easy to see why the network would rather roll the dice on reality TV.
• AMC announced last week that they're entering the reality TV fray -- sorry, "docu-stories" -- with a pair of unscripted series.Inside the DHS, set to premiere this fall, will go behind the scenes of the Department of Homeland Security, while The Pitch, set to debut next year, will follow associates at an ad agency as they have meetings that will be decidedly less sexy than anything that happens on Mad Men. AMC's desire to air reality programming is understandable -- the stuff is loads cheaper to produce -- but this feels like a slight misstep for a network that's been redefining itself in major ways with scripted stuff. Their latest, The Killing (based on the Danish series), is fantastic: it revolves around a murdered teen and traces the stories of the police investigating the crime, the family left behind, and the city caught up in the story. It's a perfect addition to their line-up. If AMC wants to bring in reality, it needs to be good. .
• Charlie Sheen might actually be more sane than we thought. Last week, likely realizing that his 15 minutes of infamy ended hours ago, Sheen told anyone who would listen that he'd had "discussions" with CBS and Warner Bros. Television about his returning to Two and a Half Men. The media duly published these claims, not because they believed them but because they wanted to make sure the folks at CBS knew that Sheen was headed their way. A few days later, Warner Bros. TV issued a statement saying "there have been no discussions, there are no discussions and there will be no discussions, regarding his returning to or having any involvement with the series." Damn. Sheen's usually so trustworthy about this kind of stuff, too.
• Discovery Communications has finally realized how much it sucks to be an affluent man in today's America, what with the limit of entertainment options for those earning in the six-figure range or higher. That's why they've stepped up to fill the void with Velocity, an "upscale men's lifestyle network" that will be aimed at men who make $150,000 per year. The news release cites data by the Census Bureau that 4 million of the country's 118 million men age 15 and older earn more than $150k a year, making them a brutally oppressed 3.8 percent of the country who will finally have a channel to call their own. You have to hand it to Discovery for cutting out the guesswork, though: rather than program shows and hope that affluent men watch, they're making a network just for that demo and selling it as such to advertisers. Kudos, fellas.
• Last Thursday saw the premiere of NBC's The Paul Reiser Show, a cute but often flat take on Curb Your Enthusiasm. The show's got potential, that's certain, but the suddenness of its appearance on NBC's scheduled and an almost total lack of promotion on the network's part led to some pretty dismal ratings for the first episode. The premiere drew a 1.1 rating and 3.3 million viewers, meaning it lost out to a rerun of Rules of Engagement; it even lost to The Vampire Diaries in the 18-49 demo. It's impossible to say how the show will play out in terms of quality, but it's a welcome break from the bottom-of-the-barrel clichés that Perfect Couples was handing out. Here's hoping it gets a chance to find its feet.
• This Friday (the 22nd), HBO is airing Talking Funny, a roundtable conversation about comedy featuring Jerry Seinfeld, Louis C.K., Chris Rock, and Ricky Gervais talking about their material. In other words, it's bound to be worth watching. Here's a clip:
• I'll leave you this morning with this, which made the rounds last week and is worth watching again. Anderson Cooper unleashes his vengeance on Snooki, at several points getting so annoyed that he can't speak properly: