The Week in TV: Jimmy Fallon Returns to SNL
• It's easy to forget that Extreme Makeover: Home Edition -- the cataclysmically sad reality show in which lower-income families receive new houses -- was a spinoff of Extreme Makeover, as odious a show as Home Edition is kind. Sure, it wasn't as bad as The Swan, but still, it was essentially a plastic surgery assembly line tailor-made for the reality TV glut of the mid-2000s. But after nine seasons and countless tragic stories, Home Edition is coming to an end this January with a two-part episode in which the home-building crew will build seven homes in a week for Joplin, Missouri, residents who lost their homes in the tornado. The show was a solid ratings winner for ABC for years, especially in the seasons following its December 2003, premiere, but it's taken a tumble recently. Those people who were hoping that Home Edition could help them get a new house will have to content themselves with Once Upon a Time. Sorry about that.
• Last year's Animal Kingdom was a gripping Australian crime thriller that, for all its violence, was really a tense character study about family greed and self-destruction. It also ended (spoiler alert, kinda) in an all-out bloodbath that left precious people standing. Not one to let plot get in the way of ad revenue and subscriber fees, Showtime is moving forward on a series adaptation to be executive produced by John Wells. Wells was an e.p. on ER and the showrunner for the first six seasons; he also served as an executive producer on The West Wing, taking over the show after Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme left. In other words, he knows how to sell a TV show, so maybe he can make hay out of a film story that didn't leave any room for continuation. Of course, there's no mention in the Deadline story about setting, so it's probably safe to assume that the action will be moved from Australia to the United States and follow a whole new crime family. In other words, the show's likely just going to trade on the film's name while doing its own thing.
• Howard Stern is joining America's Got Talent, replacing Piers Morgan, who has moved on to something you probably won't watch and really shouldn't even bother Googling. Stern will keep his Sirius XM radio show while serving as a judge for the talent show, though he will likely be disappointed that the NBC contest leans more toward coordinated singing and dancing and less toward sybian contests and bodily discharge punch lines. Good luck, Howard.
• Because even a broken clock is right twice a day, the FCC has actually stepped up and done something helpful for the American TV viewer. They recently adopted regulations stemming from a congressional mandate known as the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (a.k.a. the CALM Act, which means the men and women of Congress must just live for coming up with cutesy acronyms for these things), which stipulates that commercials must have the same average volume as the programming you actually tuned in to watch. It's going to take a year for the rules to take effect, but it's nice to know they're on the way. Ads are obnoxiously loud, and transitioning from programs to commercials is always a jarring and unpleasant experience that makes most people reach for the mute button. (It's also a major reason most people DVR shows or at least build up a buffer that lets them skip the ads.) For those keeping score, this is the latest real-world development to mirror the technological changes described/predicted in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. You are free to ponder the ramifications of that while watching on-demand programming to your heart's content.
• The Florida Family Association doesn't like families. Or at any rate, it doesn't like non-white, non-Christian ones. The conservative hate-group unleashed a volley of protests recently against TLC's All-American Muslim for daring to portray a variety of Muslim families as average and somewhat boring Americans instead of the jihad-planning, Jesus-hating freedom-destroyers we all secretly know them to be. The protests got so loud and annoying -- rare for a Christian family organization, I know --that home improvement chain Lowe's pulled its ads from the show. Eventually realizing that this made them look like they were willing to appease a bigoted group of sad old people, Lowe's tried to offer a non-apology via their Facebook page, saying that they'd stepped "into a hotly contested debate," omitting the fact that there's not really a debate and that the Bill of Rights says people here can pick their own deity or not pick one at all, and that wingnuts who don't like what's on the magic picture box should just change the channel or go back to snake-handling. Anyway, it's been a PR clusterfuck for everyone involved, except for TLC's show, which has gotten dynamite press and sympathy from right-thinking people everywhere. So good on them.
• Jimmy Fallon hosted SNL over the weekend for one of the most fun episodes in quite a while. Often, the show doesn't quite know what to do with its guest stars, relegating them to supporter status and plugging them into precut holes in recurring sketches. But Fallon's history on the show means he's got a groove he can slip back into, and that the show knows how to use him. Add in some other guests like Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch, and it was a solid outing.
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