Film and TV

The Week in TV: Charlie Sheen Still Regrettably in the News

Well, since nothing at all happened in the world of politics or international news, let's get to the week in TV Land:

• Here's the thing: It's now impossible to even pretend to care about Charlie Sheen news. Even if that news is about the degree to which Sheen has indeed set his career on fire, confirming everything we've been talking about since one minute after he went publicly bonkers, it's tough to get worked up. Yes, CBS is probably trying to figure out how to get some more milk from their cash cow, and Chuck Lorre would probably be happy to continue Two and a Half Men in some altered form for a little bit of only to see if it's possible. But, well, look: it's time we all moved on. His national tour is mostly weird and sad, and every good point he's making (Hollywood is full of phonies, most celebrity interviews are puffery, etc.) gets drowned out by his delivery, ranting about warlock blood and the rest. So yeah, this week Lorre's thinking about a possibility of the show's future even as Sheen simultaneously taunts him and tries to weasel his job back, but really, it's just more of the same. I'm loathe to make any blanket statements about coverage here -- this is a round-up of TV news, and who knows, maybe something marginally interesting will develop in the story's future -- but I honestly can't see the use in future chronicles of Sheen's hijinks. You know who is winning on Twitter, though? Unironically? Emilio.

• Not a week goes by that people don't ask me: "When will the compelling literary works of John Grisham finally get their due as TV dramas?" Well, friends, ask no longer. NBC is in talks to pick up a series based on The Firm, which is being produced by a number of companies and has already earned a 22-episode order from the producers based on the strength of international distribution. (Overseas markets being apparently totally strapped for entertainment and/or stories about wide-eyed lawyers.) The series will be set 10 years after the events depicted in the film (which came out 18 years ago), with Mitch McDeere coming out of the Witness Protection Program and once again dealing with mob hitmen, manipulative litigators, and the unstoppable force that is Wilford Brimley.

• TBS announced last week that they're adding another Tyler Perry series to its lineup with For Better or Worse, based on the Why Did I Get Married? movies. (Every one of these actually has Perry's name in the title, e.g., Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse, but for the sake of readability and to try and deflate the man's head a little, let's stick with the core phrases.) House of Payne is wrapping production this summer after 222 episodes -- by way of comparison, M*A*S*H aired 251 -- and For Better or Worse will enjoy a similar initial set-up to Payne in that, if the initial 10 episodes meet a certain ratings threshold, the network will order 90 more. In other words, Tyler Perry runs the world, and is standing right behind you.

• I haven't been keeping up with Game of Thrones the way our own Pete Vonder Haar has -- there's just a lot to watch right now, frankly -- so I'm not able to do much with this story but just pass it along. In Florida, a 23-year-old man got into a fight with his cousin while debating which of the show's characters was going to "win." I'd always assumed that "game of thrones" was more a metaphorical representation of the characters' jockeying for power in an ancient land and not, you know, an actual, spin-the-wheel-and-get-a-prize game, so it's not clear how someone would "win," or what their prize would be. Still, the issue was enough for the guy to throw his cousin through a window. Maybe all dramas will lead to altercations inspired by their on-screen antics. Breaking Bad fans can shoot each other; Treme viewers can see who can act the smuggest; etc. The possibilities are limitless.

• Well, The Paul Reiser Show is no more. It certainly wasn't the funniest series NBC ever aired, but it wasn't markedly worse than, say, Outsourced. The network is citing the horrible ratings, and though they were really, really low, it's worth nothing that audiences are bought with promotional material, and The Paul Reiser Show replaced Perfect Couples with almost no warning and practically zilch in the way of media. Did it deserve a long life? Probably not. But it makes for an interesting study of the way networks push series with ads and choose their battles.

• Katie Couric is stepping down from her anchor position at CBS Evening News five years after taking the job, and she'll likely be replaced by 60 Minutes reporter Scott Pelley. There was understandable hype surrounding her move to the network -- she was, after all, the first solo female anchor in the history of U.S. evening network news -- but her ratings went south and stayed there, in large part because the ritual of sitting down to watch a half-hour newscast at the end of the day is a dying habit. This seems to be because today's viewers and consumers want their news packaged with a certain amount of context and opinion (from Fox News to Comedy Central) that's missing from the staid coverage of the big three.

• Did anybody else see Seth Meyers crush it at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner? I saw it happen live because I was at home Saturday night watching C-SPAN, because you cannot contain me when it's time to party. His remarks were pretty solid, particularly his bit about Donald Trump, who for reasons no one can fathom was actually in attendance as a guest of The Washington Post. The reaction shots were mostly predictable, with Trump refusing to laugh or even crack a bitter smile, but they got downright amazing when the cameras pulled back to show a sea of laughing faces and one bitter old man with very peculiar hair refusing to move. President Obama got in a few shots himself, probably since he was mentally juiced knowing he had a pretty major announcement coming Sunday night. Maybe this finally spells the end for Trump's farcical run for office.

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Daniel Carlson
Contact: Daniel Carlson