The Week in TV: Friday Night Lights Wins in Overtime (and Other Sports Metaphors)
Go get 'em, Coach.
The Emmys brought their cheeseball swagger to the airwaves, for better or worse. This was the week in TV Land:
• The Emmys happened! As I've said before, awards like these need to be taken with boulders of salt. Yes, it's always nice when great work is rewarded (and sad when it isn't). But winning an award doesn't automatically make a show great, you follow? Parks and Recreation had a perfect season last year and lost last night to Modern Family. Does that mean Parks isn't as good anymore? Hell no. Quality's quality. Awards are just the icing.
There were some pleasant wins and nice surprises, though. Margo Martindale won supporting actress in a drama for her outstanding work on Justified, which remains the great little show that could. (I can't look at her without humming this song.) Friday Night Lights also captured a pair of awards, one for the writing on the series finale, and the other for Kyle Chandler as best actor in a drama. Chandler had been nominated before, but he went home empty-handed. Last night's win was a nice acknowledgment of the great work he did on the show in its final year and the previous four, and the award was such a long shot that Chandler was adorably stunned in his speech. Way to go, Coach.
• Also, apparently you can't say "penis" on TV. When Akon appeared with the Lonely Island to sing a snippet of "I Just Had Sex," he used the altered line, "A woman let me put myself inside her." Pro tip: That's much more disturbing to sing. The entire joke gets lost when you edit the line. The point was that he's singing a hip-hop ballad and being anatomically specific. Come on, Emmys! Get with it. It's like Patton Oswalt said: G-rated filth is always the creepiest.
• Fox is considering doing something unprecedented (right?) in the TV world: They're kicking the tires on devoting a spinoff network to 24 hours a day of one show, in this case, The Simpsons. Perhaps as a tacit acknowledgment that it was the success of The Simpsons that enabled them to stick around long enough to broadcast American Idol (so thanks for that, I guess), News Corp. COO Chase Carey hinted at a recent conference that there have been a "number of meetings" about how best to monetize a series that's approaching 500 episodes in the can, with one of those options being a digital network that's all Simpsons, all the time. The show's not exactly the bleeding-edge comedy it used to be, but still, a network like that would be almost like pure comfort food for anyone under 40. Thoughts?
• CBS is looking at making a TV version of the film Source Code, which starred Jake Gyllenhaal as a government operative hooked up to a machine that allowed him to relive the last eight minutes of someone else's life over and over again. The series would be a brave foray for CBS into the procedural realm, considering they've been stubbornly airing gritty dramas and witty comedies for years while refusing to distribute the cookie-cutter cop shows beloved by so many aging baby boomers. The TV show would follow a trio of federal agents in the not-quite-time-traveling program as they used the source code to repeatedly relive the recent past in hopes of catching killers, stopping terrorists, or just walking around and beating people up in a simulated release of the worst parts of their id. So keep an eye out for that show in the future, or just watch this instead:
• The CW, in a move born of desperation and sheer chutzpah, is gambling on winning the hearts of fickle teenage girls with a remake of the 1980s TV series Beauty and the Beast. The original starred Linda Hamilton as a district attorney in New York who solved cases with the help of the sewer-dwelling Vincent, the cat-like "Beast" played by Ron Perlman, and it was basically a romance novel come to life, with all the cheeseball emoting and disturbing fan community you'd expect. The new series will apparently play up the procedural angle even more, though there's no word on what they'll do with the heavy-handed metaphor of the "world above" and "world below." Either way, I am pretty sure my mom will tune in. Again.
• Gaumont, a French film studio, is opening up an international TV production arm in the United States with the goal of making content for U.S. and foreign markets. But the really interesting news is that one of their first announced series is Hannibal, an hourlong drama series about Hannibal Lecter that's written by Bryan Fuller. Fuller is best known for shows that are, to put it mildly, not even close to psychological horror-thrillers. He created Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies. He's the guy you go to when you want a sweet, whimsical love story. He's not who you think of when you want to craft a procedural about a guy who eats people's faces. Maybe Hannibal becomes a cannibal when he can't get a date.
• ABC loves them some emotionally tormented scientists. They've just bought a drama titled Jekyll & Hyde, which they're developing along with Hyde. Both (obviously) are based on Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which was itself based on the ancient Babylonian tale Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde. Jekyll & Hyde appears to be a more straightforward retelling of the story as a dark sci-fi drama with elements of romance, while Hyde is about a doctor whose alter ego takes over when he goes to sleep, which makes it sound like a less interesting (12-year-old spoiler alert!) Fight Club. Obviously, ABC does not plan to produce and air these shows at the same time. (Imagine "Thursday night is HYDE NIGHT on ABC!" ads on park benches.) Rather, they're just trying to corner the market. Maybe one show won't even make it past the pilot stage. Maybe one will get picked up and quickly canceled, making room for a retitled version of the other. Either way, they're covering their bases.
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