The Week in TV: Win Some, Lose Some
Happy Endings: Now you know you want to watch.
This was the week in TV Land:
• Andy Rooney died Friday after complications from surgery, according to his longtime employer, CBS News. He was 92. Rooney was in the news just a few weeks back when he retired from his post as a commentator and complainer-about-town for 60 Minutes, a move that brought waves of predictable jokes about his style and tone. Now that he's gone, there's been a kind of public softening when measuring his legacy, but when the dust settles, he'll probably be remembered somewhere between journalist and curmudgeon. Because the truth is he was both: The man had a storied career and was a public face of major media for much of the 20th century, but by the end of his time at CBS, he was years out of touch with anything resembling the culture against which he so dutifully railed. He was a crusty old guy who probably meant well. In good ways and bad, his impact will be felt for years.
• In renewal news: ABC has given a full-season pickup to Happy Endings, which is one of the quickest and most enjoyable comedies on the air right now. (And considering how many great comedies are in production, that's saying something.) Happy Endings is the little show that could, having premiered to modest buzz and mediocre ratings last spring before hitting its stride this fall. It's a solid part of ABC's Wednesday comedy block, and well worth the space on your DVR.
Also renewed: Last Man Standing, starring Tim Allen as the living personification of hoary gender stereotypes so offensive and dated that you can't watch the show without thinking of the asshole uncle who always ruins Thanksgiving, and Once Upon a Time, which is nominally about fairy tales but also shamelessly riding the fantasy wave thrown up by Game of Thrones. They've also ordered a few more scripts for Pan Am.
Finally, FX's wolfshit insane American Horror Story has been renewed for 13 more episodes, news sure to delight everyone who's a fan of gimp suits, overacting, and the exploitation of the mentally handicapped. Rather than ruminate on the show's stylistic hodgepodge, though, I'll simply leave you with the thought that Connie Britton did amazing work for five years on Friday Night Lights, and this has been her reward.
• Disney-ABC recently announced some nice streaming packages with Netflix and Amazon, in case you had finally caught up on all those back episodes of Cake Boss and were in danger of going outside or engaging with a loved one. Per Deadline, the Netflix deal is an expansion of one currently in place that bulks up the shows on offer and will let Netflix stream certain seasons 30 days after the final episode of the season airs. That deal includes shows like Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Lost, Brothers & Sisters, and Alias. The Amazon deal, though, is new for Disney-ABC and includes about 800 catalog episodes, including Grey's, Lost, Greek, and every episode of Felicity. Now you can relive the days when the worst problem in the world was Keri Russell's haircut.
• Success these days means repackaging stuff that used to work and hoping the audience doesn't mind. ABC's making a go of it with Tim Allen's Last Man Standing, which feels cribbed from Home Improvement spec scripts that Allen wrote in his free time between starring in movies about legally taking over for Santa Claus. Now Fox is getting in on the action with a pair of half-hour In Living Color specials to air in midseason as part of the network's 25th anniversary party/reflection on everything they've canceled. The specials come with a series option, meaning if they do well enough in the ratings, Fox will bring the show back as part of its regular schedule the following year. Keenen Ivory Wayans is even returning as host and executive producer. In Living Color debuted in April 1990. You are old.
• Hoping to build some buzz for its new series, HBO will premiere Luck, its new drama from Michael Mann and David Milch, on Dec. 11, immediately after the Boardwalk Empire season finale. Luck doesn't officially start until January, though (and as this Variety story points out, there's no debut date yet), which means you'll get all excited about it and then maybe forget about it and try to remember it's coming back on but ultimately hope your DVR will catch it.
The network's just trying to cover its bases, though. It needs more cultural and critical hits like Game of Thrones, and fewer hyper-narrow dramas like Treme. Of course, David Simon said recently that he plans to end Treme after four seasons, and that he's told HBO about his intentions, too. The show gets some love from critics and its small but devoted audience, but it was still something of a surprise that it got a third year to tell its slow and not very interesting stories about New Orleans musicians, so HBO's probably trying to play a long game and get people interested in shows that could become the appointment viewing that used to be the network's point of pride before AMC started stealing its thunder.
• SNL was predictably mediocre over the weekend, even with the great Charlie Day in the mix, but Bill Hader's Rick Perry bit was great:
• Dig the latest video from Childish Gambino, the hip-hop persona of Community's Donald Glover. The song is "Bonfire," the album is Camp, and the release date is Nov. 15. Get ready to lock it on repeat:
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