The Week In TV: Imploding Idol
Remakes abound, reality TV refuses to die, and the summer sun is slowly burning everything alive. This was the week in TV Land:
• In American Idol news, the show's gradual implosion continued apace last week as Jennifer Lopez was booted from her spot as judge before the deal was even official. One source said that her demands were "out of hand," presumably referring to her request that Marc Anthony be allowed to sing seven times per episode and that all contestants must in some way relate their personal stories to the plot of Money Train. Lopez's almost-hiring was the latest in a string of increasingly desperate and less feasible ideas from producers hoping to keep the aging juggernaut alive. It'd make artistic sense to cancel the show now that Simon Cowell is gone -- as much as you can reasonably use the word "artistic" in regard to the series -- but it seems likely the show will instead be run into the ground before our eyes. So, if you're into train wrecks, be sure to tune in next January.
• Last week I recommended Spooks, aka MI-5, as a great series to watch online. In a weird coincidence, news came down last week that ABC has opted to remake the series -- to which one can only say: Why? If you want to make a show about British spies, you won't outdo the original, and if you want to overhaul the show and tell it from the standpoint of American espionage, you might as well come up with an original idea. There's no way out of this that doesn't involve admitting the remake's a bad idea.
• Good news for Mad Men fans who are affluent but also tired of giving money to charity without a tangible reward: You can bid online to win a walk-on role on the AMC drama. As of this writing -- Sunday afternoonish -- the bidding for the role is at $15,600, but you can also cast your lot for chairs, tables, and other props from the show. Some of the proceeds will go to California's City of Hope Hospital to fund lung-cancer treatment. (The fact that this money is coming from a show that glamorizes smoking is probably too confusing to think about for very long, so just buy a chair and don't worry about it.)
• Speaking of AMC and remakes: The network has picked up The Killing. The crime drama is based on a Danish miniseries and will revolve around the murder investigation of a young girl from the perspectives of the suspects, the cops, and the girl's grieving family. The cast will include Michelle Forbes, Billy Campbell, and Justified's Brent Sexton. The series is set to debut next year, and I hope it'll be good. I'm always down for a sprawling crime story.
• Fox's Glee -- a scripted version of Kidz Bop with more gay jokes -- has announced its latest gimmick episode in which plot and character will be jettisoned to make room for endless odes to a pop star. This time out, Britney Spears will be the episode's anchor, with hit tunes from the not-a-girl, not-yet-an-awkward-memory littered throughout the hour. What's more, Spears will also guest star in the episode, with her appearances attributed to hallucinations the kids have after being gassed by a dentist played by John Stamos. (That sentence hurt my head to type.) Creator Ryan Murphy also confirmed that Spears would be handled with "kid gloves," which sounds much more entertaining than having her be funny and self-effacing, since why treat her like a person with foibles when you can simply worship her for gyrating to bubblegum pop a decade ago? Glee, you started out so good, and you are breaking my heart.
• Here's something cool: Alan Sepinwall, who's been going through The Wire over at Hitfix, has a nice, brief interview with writer George Pelecanos about the series and specifically about how Pelecanos was the one behind each season's penultimate episode. It's a great read for fans of the show.
• Levi Johnston is filming a reality show about his run for office in Wasilla, Alaska. I have nothing more to add.
• What could you do when you were 10? You could not do this:
• This week's free TV fix comes courtesy of Hulu and the team of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. Before Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, there was BBC's Spaced, a fantastic sitcom fueled by a love of pop culture. The entire series only runs 14 episodes over two seasons, so carve out some time and give it a look:
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