The Week in TV: The Killing Tests Your Will to Live
The Killing ended last night in a manner we critics like to call "shitting the bed." This was the week in TV Land:
• AMC has picked up The Killing for a second season, but good luck getting me to watch it. This season has been an exercise in patience and frustration: Every episode ended with the same music and a montage that unveiled a twist that was then subsequently negated at the beginning of the following episode. That's not writing; that's gimmickry. Showrunner Veena Sud defended her choices to Alan Sepinwall -- along the way comparing a recent halfway-decent episode of her show to Breaking Bad, which is ballsy and very, very wrong -- but it's clear she has no idea how to run a show or plot a story. A plot twist is when a piece of information is introduced that clarifies everything that's come before, but The Killing just keeps changing things for the hell of it. It's like falling into a pit and never hitting bottom. There is no ground here, no truth, no reality in which to base our expectations or experience (spoilers ahead, but you really should have figured that out by now). Linden and Holder took forever to develop a kind of chemistry, and it was awful to have him turn out to be just a puppet who framed Richmond on behalf of a shadowy figure who might or might not be Keyzer Soze. It would have been great and interesting if the show had had the guts to follow through on Richmond being a creep but not the killer, and if we'd actually gotten some resolution. But no: Sud is interested only in playing around, building sandcastles that are forever washed away and never worth remembering. I have no idea how the show will survive the fallout from such a weak season, or who will bother tuning in next year. But count me out.
• "I was getting network notes on the bulge of my sack! I wore my pants so freaking tight and it was like, after a while, we got a problem there." Jaleel White, everybody.
• NBC is pinning no small amount of its hopes on this fall's The Playboy Club, which aims to be Mad Men for broadcast networks, minus the subtlety and with 600 percent more cleavage. The show's already hitting a kind of wall with some viewers, though: Salt Lake City's NBC affiliate, KSL, has said it won't air the show because the station has a policy to screen and withhold material "which significant portions of our audience may find objectionable." KSL is actually owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and KSL programming director Michelle Torsak said that their intent "is not to tell people what they can and cannot watch, but rather to share programming with our audience in accordance with our mission." She was talking about the station's ostensible mission to promote family-friendly viewing. Leaving aside the fact that blocking a show from air is telling people what they can't watch, the station's managers come off as wild hypocrites here. They haven't blocked any other NBC programs that might not be suitable for young viewers, yet they're up in arms about this one. The Playboy Club is scheduled to air Mondays at 10 p.m. ET; that's the same time slot that Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has on Wednesdays, but the KSL crew hasn't made much of a stink about a show in which, for example, a girl who was sexually abused and then hacked up and stuffed in a suitcase. (That was last season's "Totem," which aired on March 30 and drew about 8.5 million viewers, some of whom probably live in Utah.) The issue here isn't that KSL actually has a beef with the show; it's that they're pissy and hypocritical, and way more scared of a crime drama showing PG-13 levels of cleavage than our collective obsession with violence. Really, who's the sick one?
• You almost feel bad for Chris Hardwick given the low profile of Web Soup. (Then again, his Nerdist podcast is one of the most popular around, and he's turning that into a pilot for the BBC, plus he's got a book coming out soon, so maybe we shouldn't shed too many tears.) The G4 green-screen show debuted on June 7, 2009, with the goal of riffing on Web culture and viral videos; three days earlier, Comedy Central premiered Tosh.0, which has virtually identical aims and the benefit of a much more popular network. While Web Soup still struggles gamely on, Tosh.0 has become a breakout hit and one of Comedy Central's most successful series, averaging more than 4 million viewers. Word came down last week that Comedy Central has renewed Tosh.0 for another season, its fourth, cementing its status as one of the network's premiere titles. Not bad for a show that's basically a highly polished version of what you and your friends do via chat and email when you should be working.
• Rob McElhenny, who plays Mac on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, has gained 50 pounds for the upcoming seventh season. His reason? He just wanted to see what the character would look like as a fat guy. (This is where you do some free association about how this kind of thing wouldn't remotely fly for a female comedian.) The cast of the FX show has also said that the new season kicks off with what might be the "darkest thing we have ever done," so go ahead and brace yourself for whatever that might be. Tune in with the kids! Actually, don't. At all.
• Troy Duffy, the egotistical blowhard behind The Boondock Saints and its sequel, The Boondock Saints II: Pig in the City, said in an interview with We Got This Covered that he's been "approached" to turn his watered-down Tarantino-rip-off into a TV series. He did not specify what network had approached him; rather, when the interviewer asked if the network in question was one like AMC or HBO, Duffy merely replied in the affirmative. For the sake of all that is good, I hope such a show never comes to pass. The Boondock Saints is a hilariously bad vigilante tale cooked up by a man with serious issues concerning the world and women, and it deserves to die a slow death on the shelf of that weird guy who lived down the dorm hall from you and kept using "gay" to mean "stupid." Then again, given Duffy's track record of delusions -- the documentary Overnight is a fascinating look at his descent into angry mediocrity -- this doesn't look likely to happen. Still, good to be prepared.
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