The Week in TV: The Networks Do Some Housecleaning
And lo, heads did roll. This was the week in TV Land:
• Spring brings pilot season, summer brings the upfronts, fall brings the premieres and now we get the cancellations and pickups. The TV industry's calendar is nothing if not reliable. ABC's Charlie's Angels has been canceled after its ratings dropped like a rock from week to week; sadly, we'll never know what was going to happen with that one girl, who had that problem and was just about to confront it. Also dead: CBS's How to Be a Gentleman, which didn't even pretend to be anything other than a very badly executed sketch about what would happen if Johnny Drama and David Hyde Pierce had to hang out and be best friends for reasons no one can explain. TNT has also cancelled sophomore drama-comedy-thing Memphis Beat, which starred Jason Lee as a cop and Elvis impersonator.
But quite a few shows will be sticking around a while. ABC has handed out full-season orders to Revenge and Suburgatory and ordered six more scripts for the witty and underappreciated Happy Endings. Revenge is soapy and shlocky to the extreme and feels like the kind of show that would run for a decade on The CW, and its success is honestly a little surprising. (BTW, if you're not reading Jeff Stolarcyk's weekly live-tweets of the show, you're missing out.) Suburgatory and Happy Endings are much sharper, though, and it's nice to see them hanging in there even though they're not about poison and murder and boats or whatever the hell happens on Revenge.
Also renewed: The CW's Hart of Dixie, The Secret Circle and The Ringer. All three of these shows have terrible ratings, and they wouldn't last a week on network air, but The CW is going to take whatever it can get in its attempts to claw its way into the hearts and minds of tweens with low standards.
Finally: HBO has renewed Boardwalk Empire for a third season, which is good news for people who like their dramas brainy and violent (sign me up). That's a slower renewal than last year, when HBO picked up the show for a second season right after the pilot aired, but it's still a good sign that the cable channel is willing to give its current series a chance to really find their legs and tell their own kinds of stories.
• Fred Durst does it all for the nookie, if by nookie you mean "reliable paycheck." The former Limp Bizkit front man is probably best known for wearing his hat backwards, inciting riots and recording the kinds of songs women hear in dank frat-house basements just before they pass out. But I'm starting to think he doesn't believe in any of that stuff; he just used it to cash in. He's been directing music videos since the early days of Limp Bizkit, and his forays into feature work as a helmer for hire included The Education of Charlie Banks, a drama that premiered at Tribeca, and The Longshots, a family sports flick about the first girl to play Pop Warner football. In other words, he's not a rocker gone soft; he's a chameleon who likes money. Hence, his latest project: a CBS sitcom about a middle-aged rock star trying to balance his family and professional lives. Durst will produce and star in the show as well. Now, there's no way of knowing if it will be any good, but that almost doesn't matter. Durst is crazy like a fox and apparently much smarter than anyone gave him credit for being. The sitcom is even (tentatively) titled Douchebag, as if Durst wants to get people laughing at him right away so they won't notice he's making out like a bandit.
• HBO and Fox announced potential series last week that are based on nothing more than vague ideas and personalities. To wit: HBO is making an hourlong drama out of The Kids Are All Right, Lisa Cholodenko's 2010 drama about a middle-aged lesbian couple, their kids and the children's biological father, who acts like a wrecking ball on their domestic scene. The film was great, but it's not like it left viewers clamoring for a sequel. The story was pretty well tied up at the end. Cholodenko, who's writing the pilot, will have to come up with another awkward reason for the dad character to interact with and emotionally cripple his kids.
Meanwhile, Fox has bought a sitcom from Jonah Hill and stand-up Hannibal Buress that's nothing more than "Hannibal Buress will say funny things." There's no title, no plot, no cast. They don't even know if the show will be single- or multi-camera. Basically, Jonah Hill likes Hannibal Buress (who has written for 30 Rock and SNL), and Fox wants to be in the Jonah Hill business.
• Heads up, Gen X-ers: MTV wants you back. In a throwback to the fuzzy, weird days of the early 1990s, MTV has released a large portion of its Liquid Television content online, meaning you can finally watch Aeon Flux on your lunch break without resorting to low-res YouTube clips. Between this and "The '90s Are All That," Viacom is making a major play for former viewers now in their 30s and 40s with disposable income. Who can blame them?
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