by Julian Spivey
10. Lily Tomlin (Grace & Frankie)
Lily Tomlin has been nominated four times now for her lovably kooky Frankie in Netflix’s underrated “Grace & Frankie,” but hasn’t been able to crack the winning streak that has been Julia Louis-Dreyfus for “Veep.” Well, Julia Louis-Dreyfus isn’t eligible for an Emmy this year so maybe it’ll be Tomlin’s best opportunity so far. I just wish that her terrific castmate Jane Fonda had been nominated alongside her again this year.
9. Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live)
Kenan Thompson is the longest-serving cast member in the illustrious history of “Saturday Night Live” with 15 seasons and counting and with his first ever Emmy nomination this year for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series he might be the consensus favorite nominee this year. Thompson is one of those ‘SNL’ players that will frequently make you laugh with just a look or the certain connotation he puts on a word, even when a sketch just absolutely is not working. He’s that good.
8. Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish)
Over the last few years Tracee Ellis Ross’s performance as Rainbow Johnson on ABC’s “Black-ish” has been the second best performance on television by a comedic actress behind Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ turn on HBO’s “Veep.” With Julia Louis-Dreyfus not in the running this year maybe it’s time Ross gets the Emmy she deserves to go next to the Golden Globe she won in 2017.
7. Ted Danson (The Good Place)
Ted Danson is a television legend and a previous Emmy-winner for his iconic Sam Malone on “Cheers,” but maybe his greatest work on television is being done right now on NBC’s “The Good Place” as Michael, a demon turned good who’s helping people he believes shouldn’t be in “the bad place” find their way in the afterlife. It’s a performance played with wide-eyed glee by Danson, who received his 16th Emmy nomination.
6. Milo Ventimiglia & Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)
Milo Ventimiglia and Sterling K. Brown are giving two of the most honest and realistic performances on television, especially network TV on NBC’s terrific “This Is Us.” Brown won Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series last year, so maybe his castmate Ventimiglia will take the honor home this year?
5. Donald Glover & Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta)
Donald Glover, who is the defending winner for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series, and Brian Tyree Henry are quite the dynamic one-two punch on FX’s stellar “Atlanta.” I’m particularly thrilled to see Henry receive his first nomination in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy category as Paper Boi, an up-and-coming rapper struggling with budding fame. The performances in season two from Glover and Henry were top notch and I believe both should be considered front-runners in their respective categories.
4. Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert got off to a bit of a slow start as host of the ‘Late Show’ after taking over for David Letterman in the fall of 2015, but he’s really gotten into his stride in the time of Trump bringing a fiercely humorous political mind to the show that allows him to be himself and not a character like he portrayed in the Emmy-winning “Colbert Report” for Comedy Central.
3. Late Night with Seth Meyers writing staff
I’ve been salty for a few years now that NBC’s fantastic “Late Night with Seth Meyers” hasn’t been able to garner a nomination in the Outstanding Variety Series – Talk category, as I believe it’s been the best late night talk show on television over the last few years. But, where ‘Late Night’ really excels is in its writing of jokes, particularly political jokes with Meyers’ “A Closer Look” segment, and it’s nice to see that writing staff recognized for Outstanding Writing in a Variety Series.
2. This Is Us
“This Is Us” is the finest show on network television and I’m glad to see it gets its due against maybe more prestigious fare like “The Handmaid’s Tale” or “Game of Thrones” on streaming and premium networks. I don’t think it has much of a chance at becoming the first network drama to win Outstanding Drama Series since “24” in 2006, but I sure hope it does.
FX’s “Atlanta” is the best show I’ve seen on television this year and is frequently the weirdest and most unique show on TV, as well. The show simply does whatever it wants and whatever odd things pop into creator Donald Glover’s mind and it works perfectly. It’s a comedy, but with great dramatic moments and as the second season proved could even do horror better than most. I think “Atlanta” is definitely the front-runner to win Outstanding Comedy Series with “Veep,” the reigning three-time winner, not eligible this year.
by Julian Spivey
10. Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta)
I know I shouldn’t be greedy when it comes to FX’s “Atlanta” being snubbed for anything as it was nominated for nine major Emmy awards, including four in acting categories, but how could Lakeith Stanfield not be nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his fantastic performance in the episode “Teddy Perkins,” which is likely the show’s best episode thus far? I’m thrilled Brian Tyree Henry was nominated in that category as his performance as been the show’s best through its first two seasons, but give some love to Stanfield too.
9. Gael Garcia Bernal (Mozart in the Jungle)
I didn’t expect Gael Garcia Bernal to be nominated for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series for his wonderfully gleeful performance as orchestra maestro Rodrigo De Souza on Amazon’s underrated “Mozart in the Jungle,” which was unfortunately canceled after its fourth season, but I truly believe he should’ve been nominated at least once during the show’s run for his infectious performance. Bernal did win a Golden Globe for the show’s first season.
8. Fred Armisen (The Last Man on Earth)
Fred Armisen’s guest appearance as serial killer cannibal Karl Cowperthwaite on the fourth season of Fox’s “The Last Man on Earth” is one of the funniest guest performances and characters I’ve ever seen from a comedy series. Armisen is pretty much single-handedly featured in the fourth season’s ninth episode “Karl” and knocks it out of the park. He would’ve been much worthier of a nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series than Donald Glover for hosting “Saturday Night Live” or Katt Williams for what essentially was a cameo in “Atlanta.”
7. Heidi Gardner (Saturday Night Live)
Almost half of the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series category was taken up this year by “Saturday Night Live” cast members with two-time reigning winner Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Aidy Bryant all receiving noms. I realize Heidi Gardner was a first-year cast member this year with lesser screen time than those three, who’ve all become ‘SNL’ legends as far as I’m concerned, but I really felt she was the standout performer on the show this past season with truly funny and original characters like Bailey Gismert, a teenage YouTube movie reviewer, and Angel – the girlfriend from every boxing movie. Gardner was at least more deserving than Bryant, in my opinion.
6. Andy Samberg & Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine Nine)
“Brooklyn Nine Nine” was the funniest show on television over the last year and that’s owed a lot to its two stars Andy Samberg, who’s never been nominated for his performance as Detective Jake Peralta, and Andre Braugher, who’s previously been nominated three times as Capt. Raymond Holt without winning. I’m a huge fan of Anthony Anderson’s work on ABC’s “Black-ish,” but Samberg could’ve easily taken that spot this year. As for Braugher, he should’ve had the spot given to Alec Baldwin – who’s performance as President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live” (though deserving of his Emmy win last year) quickly became tired and stale.
5. Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Black)
It was somewhat stunning that Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black” was shut out of major category nominations for its excellent fifth season, that I believe was its best yet as it took a minute-by-minute look at a prison riot and brought race relations and abuse of power to television in a manner not seen often. The most hurtful snub though was that of Danielle Brooks, who played Taystee Jefferson, who was truly the heart of the season in the show’s best acting performance thus far.
4. Brooklyn Nine Nine
Fox’s (though moving to NBC next season) excellent workplace sitcom “Brooklyn Nine Nine” has never gotten love from the Emmys, outside of three nominations for Andre Braugher (who should’ve won at least once), and that’s a damn shame because during its fifth season it was the funniest show on television. It’s hard for even comedies on a network to receive Emmy noms these days, but “Brooklyn Nine Nine” had a better season than ABC’s “Black-ish” and should’ve taken its lone network comedy nomination.
3. Mandy Moore (This Is Us)
I was absolutely flabbergasted that Mandy Moore wasn’t nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series for her second season turn as Rebecca Pearson, the matriarch on NBC’s massive hit “This Is Us.” Moore’s performance in the second season may have been the best of the entire cast – and damn it’s a great cast. Not bad for a once teenage pop star. Her onscreen husband Milo Ventimiglia and onscreen son Sterling K. Brown (a winner last year) were both nominated.
2. “Teddy Perkins” (Atlanta)
“Atlanta,” which is probably the favorite to win the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series this year, had two episodes nominated in the Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series category with show creator Donald Glover being nominated for “Alligator Man” and Stefani Robinson for “Barbershop,” two terrific episodes, but Glover not being nominated for the writing of “Teddy Perkins,” the show’s best effort yet, is crazy. I must wonder if maybe this episode wasn’t even submitted?
1. Late Night with Seth Meyers
Late Night with Seth Meyers on NBC has been possibly the best all-around talk show on television over the last few years and has brought politics to late night network shows like no other one before it taking cues from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to provide an extremely insightful, as well as entertaining show. However, it has never been nominated once for Outstanding Variety Series – Talk. That’s just absurd. The writing staff has, however, been nominated for the second consecutive year for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series.
Best Drama - This Is Us (NBC)
Best Comedy - Brooklyn Nine Nine (Fox)
Best Variety Series - Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS)
Best New Drama - Rise (NBC)
Best New Comedy - Splitting Up Together (ABC)
Best Actor in a Drama: Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us)
Best Actress in a Drama - Mandy Moore (This Is Us)
Best Actor in a Comedy - Andy Samberg (Brooklyn Nine Nine)
Best Actress in a Comedy -Briga Heelan (Great News)
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama: Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama - Katie Lowes (Scandal)
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy - Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine Nine)
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy - Amber Ruffin (Late Night with Seth Meyers)
Best Guest Actor in a Drama - Cameron Monaghan (Gotham)
Best Guest Actress in a Drama - Lyric Ross (This Is Us)
Best Guest Actor in a Comedy - Fred Armisen (The Last Man on Earth)
Best Guest Actress in a Comedy - Kristen Wiig (The Last Man on Earth)
Best Drama Episode - "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat" (The X Files)
Best Comedy Episode - "Jake & Amy" (Brooklyn Nine Nine)
Hall of Fame Show & Legend:
Show: The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson
Legend: Johnny Carson
by Julian Spivey
The recent downfalls of television legends Bill Cosby and Roseanne Barr has led me to wonder what should we do with their legacies – their television shows?
I’ve been thinking about writing about this topic since the Television Hall of Fame (yes, it exists) removed Bill Cosby from its honorees earlier this month.
Now I hate that I must come out and say this, but I don’t want to be confused as someone who’s sticking up for rapists and bigots (you can’t be too careful these days), but Cosby and Roseanne are obviously bad people.
Bad people shouldn’t be supported in the now. ABC made the right decision to cancel “Roseanne,” though it’s a major disappointment for anyone else involved with the show whether on the cast or crew. Many good people lost jobs yesterday because the lead of the show is an offensive asshat.
But, should the past – “The Cosby Show” and “Roseanne” – be completely stripped away because of controversial figures in the title roles?
The most disturbing part of the Roseanne controversy to me was the fact that Hulu, Paramount Network and others decided to immediately pull re-runs of the original run of “Roseanne” from 1988-1997. This move echoes the decision that networks made a few years ago when Cosby’s victims were coming out against him. Some have since returned “The Cosby Show” re-runs to programming, but most have not.
And, sure you can make the argument that horrible people don’t need to make money off re-runs airings, but you must remember it’s not just Cosby and Roseanne making profits off these airings. Can you imagine how much this might hurt someone like Michael Fishman, who’s not a professional actor anymore?
Removing these shows, especially from a streaming service like Hulu, also hurts fans of the series – many of whom don’t give a damn about the real-life Cosby or Roseanne and merely love the shows and fictional characters, even if they have some basis in the real lives of those portraying them. Many people can separate the shows from the controversial figures behind them.
The most important aspect of this all is just what Cosby and Roseanne mean to the history of television – both iconic figures in the history of the medium. When Cosby was a lead on “I Spy” in the ‘60s he was the first African-American to star in a television series. “The Cosby Show” was also highly important in the ‘80s, as it showed affluent African-Americans after many hits of the ‘70s like “Sanford & Son” showed another side of African-American life. The criteria for being inducted into the Television Hall of Fame (founded by the Academy of Television Arts & Science) is: “persons who have made outstanding contributions in the arts, sciences or management of television, based upon either cumulative contributions and achievements or a singular contribution or achievement.” Cosby fits that criteria and removing him from the hall of fame is a disservice to the history of television. Again, he’s a bad person, but essentially the TV Hall of Fame is editing history by trying to act like he didn’t exist.
“Roseanne” was one of the most important shows in television because it was the first to really show a middle class, if not lower class, family struggling to survive. Trying to act like it didn’t exist would be a bad thing for television history, not to mention keeping viewers from terrific performances by actors like John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf, who have nothing to do with Roseanne’s bigotry.
It’s truly a disappointment that this conversation must be had, but I believe we can separate the shows from the actors who’s name they share. Let’s exile the bad guys, but let each person make up their own mind what to do about the art that they made.
by Julian Spivey
The 43rd season of “Saturday Night Live” was pretty rough. It was the worst season in a few years and really it can be chalked up to a poor writing staff. The cast of the show is mostly terrific and the hosts this year mostly stellar choices, so the fact that laughs were few and far between must fall on the writing. I enjoy the duo of Colin Jost and Michael Che on Weekend Update, but maybe their addition as head writers wasn’t such a good choice. ‘SNL’ relied far too much on Alec Baldwin’s President Donald Trump impression this season, appearing in more than half of the episodes of season 43, which led to the performance, which was terrific in season 42 and worthy of Baldwin’s Emmy win, becoming stagnant. It would likely do ‘SNL’ some good to forget the President in sketches and just poke fun at him via Weekend Update.
Despite the season being disappointing overall there are always going to be highlights of the show. This season’s highlights include some legendary cast members returning as hosts, some great stand-up comedians providing hilarious monologues, a moment of coming together and strong after tragedy and a new cast member stealing the show.
10. Jason Aldean Won’t Back Down
One of the most memorable non-comedy moments in the history of ‘SNL’ came in 2001 in the show’s first episode after the 9/11 terrorist attacks when Paul Simon performed “The Boxer.” Another horrific American tragedy involving mass violence took place just after the start of the ‘SNL’ season when a gunman in Las Vegas perpetrated the worst mass shooting in American history at a country music festival during headliner Jason Aldean’s set. It wasn’t surprising that ‘SNL’ would take time out of the show to pay respect to those lost, but it did come as somewhat of a surprise to see Aldean himself for the first time after the tragedy less than a week before to give a stirring statement of perseverance: “When America is at its best our bond and our spirit, it’s unbreakable.” Aldean then performed Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” which also served as a tribute to the musician who had died of cardiac arrest earlier in then week and had also served as ‘SNL’ musical guest more than any in the show’s long history.
9. Kumail Nanjiani, Tiffany Haddish, Kevin Hart, John Mulaney & Amy Schumer Monologues
‘SNL’ monologues can often be tedious and among the least interesting aspects of the show when you have a host who isn’t used to being funny in front of camera, let alone a live audience, but they are an important part of the show’s history and should remain despite this. But, when an actual stand-up comedian is tabbed to host the show the monologue suddenly becomes one of the most anticipated moments on the show and often one of the highlights of that week. This season featured some of the best stand-ups in the game with Kumail Nanjiani, Tiffany Haddish, Kevin Hart and Amy Schumer all showing off their different, yet fantastic comedy chops.
8. Black Jeopardy
“Black Jeopardy” has been one of the best, if not the best, recurring ‘SNL’ sketches over the last few seasons, but it’s one the show doesn’t feature much anymore with Jay Pharoah and Sasheer Zamata no longer on the show. The show broke the sketch out just once this season and changed the format up a bit – it still worked as one of the funniest sketches of the year. Typically, the sketch features two black contestants and one – out of touch with black culture – white person. The funniest aspect of the sketch this year came when Chadwick Boseman, fresh off his career-changing “Black Panther” performance, played his T’Challa against the other two contestants portrayed by Leslie Jones and Chris Redd.
7. Jurassic Park Auditions
I’ve always been a sucker for great impressions and one of the greatest impressionists in the history of ‘SNL’ was Bill Hader, who returned this season to host the show for his second time. When he was a cast member the show would often feature faux movie auditions for some of the biggest movie hits of the last few decades to show off Hader and the rest of the cast’s best impressions. This time the auditions were for “Jurassic Park” and featured Hader’s terrific Al Pacino, Clint Eastwood and, my personal favorite, Alan Alda (it’s just so ridiculously specific, I mean, who does an Alan Alda impression). The sketch also features funny impressions of Hugh Grant from Alex Moffat, Adam Sandler from Pete Davidson and Ellen DeGeneres and Jodie Foster, both by Kate McKinnon.
6. Lavar Ball
Bombastic and braggadocios basketball father Lavar Ball was right for the poking fun of by ‘SNL’ and served as an obvious opportunity for Kenan Thompson, the longest running cast member in show history, to add to his great Weekend Update recurring character repertoire. The first appearance as Ball came during the show’s special Weekend Update stand alone episodes in the late summer of 2017 before the official start of the 43rd season and the appearances continued into the season. My favorite part of Thompson’s exquisite Ball impression is the mispronunciation of certain words like rhinoceros as “rhinosaucerous”
5. Donald Jr. & Eric Trump
While Alec Baldwin’s performance as President Donald Trump has become stagnant through overuse (he’s appeared over 30 times in just two seasons), the use of Mikey Day as Donald Trump Jr. and Alex Moffat as Eric Trump as recurring characters on Weekend Update over the last two seasons has proven to be hilarious every time. The highlight of these two is clearly Moffat’s take on Eric as a toddler of an adult, which must truly be rage-inducing to the actual Eric Trump if he’s witnessed the performance. It’s Moffat’s tour de force performance on the show and really the only noteworthy thing he’s done in his two seasons, but damn is it perfection.
4. Stefon Returns
It was great to see some of my favorite ‘SNL’ legends return to host the show this year and Bill Hader’s return to the program may have been the best episode of season 43 overall. With Hader’s return came the return of Stefon, one of the greatest and most beloved recurring characters in the show’s legendary history. Stefon returned to Weekend Update to give some helpful tips on what tourists can do in New York City for St. Patrick’s Day, including clubs that feature Roman J. Israel, Esq., leprechauns that look like Farrah Fawcett, sexy asbestos and seizure-inducing Malaysian music. This Stefon appearance was particularly fun for featuring comedian and former ‘SNL’ writer John Mulaney as Stefon’s attorney (who’s also a conceptual piss artist) named Shy. Mulaney is the co-creator of Stefon with Hader and the one who inserts last second one-liners into the bit to frequently cause Hader to break character. Despite the great return of Stefon, I must say, it just isn’t the same without Seth Meyers there for Hader to play off.
3. Return of George W. Bush
Watching the overuse of Alec Baldwin’s President Donald Trump this year was a reminder of how terrific Will Ferrell’s impression of President George W. Bush in the early ‘00s era of ‘SNL’ was. Ferrell’s Bush really wasn’t as much of an impression as it was an embellished character that almost made President Bush lovable, which has been harped on a little bit over the years. When Ferrell returned to host ‘SNL’ for the fourth time he portrayed Bush once again in the season’s best cold opening. Bush returns to remind the public, who’s opinion of him has seemingly softened due to Trump’s presidency, that he was a bad president and they shouldn’t be wishing for his days in office. Ferrell’s return as Bush comes with great Bush-isms like “I’m no economer” and “I’m not a Trump synthesizer or anything.”
2. Tina Fey after Charlottesville
Late last summer when ‘SNL’ returned for its special Weekend Update editions before the 43rd season began it got into some controversy for the way it handled the Charlottesville situation when Tina Fey, a University of Virginia graduate, discussed protesting and not wanting any good people to be hurt. She urged people to protest in other ways like finding a Jewish run or African American run bakery and eating the hell out of a cake. It was a funny bit after a horrible situation that was trying to make the best of it and some people took the comedy way too seriously, as is something people do too frequently these days. Recently Fey did admit to regretting parts of the bit, but I think she’s being too hard on herself after the controversy. Watching Tina Fey angrily shovel cake into her mouth is funny. Relax and enjoy it.
1. Heidi Gardner
Rarely has a newcomer come into ‘SNL’ with the out of the gate hilarity of Heidi Gardner this season. The Groundlings alumna didn’t get the chance to appear as the lead in many sketches, as freshman cast members rarely do, but she showed off multiple great recurring Weekend Update characters that had me in stitches every time. There’s no doubt in my mind that Gardner’s Bailey Gismert, a teenage YouTube film critic, and Angel – Every Boxer’s Girlfriend from Every Movie About Boxing Ever – will become classic Update characters over time. Gardner has these characters down pat and you can tell they are ones she’s put great work and detail into to make this memorable. Of the three new cast members to join the show this season she was really the only one that stood out and boy did she ever. I hope to see more great characters from her on the show in the future and believe she will have a great run on ‘SNL.’
What was your favorite moment from the 43rd season of "Saturday Night Live"?
by Julian Spivey
“NCIS” is nearing the end of its 15th season and I’ve been a fan of the show the whole way, in fact I remember the backdoor pilot episode of “JAG” that led to the series which has now been on television for half of my life. The show has seen cast members come and go, as any show that’s been on this long naturally has and does, but I’ve never been irritated by anything. Until now.
I haven’t seen the final episode of Abby Sciuto’s (played by Pauley Perrette) 15-year run on the show, one of only three original characters remaining on the show, yet, as I’m a few episodes behind, but I already know that I’m irritated by it.
I follow Perrette on Twitter and noticed she posted some cryptic and vague tweets about leaving the series a couple of days ago and found it strange, so I had to look more into the story. The only thing I could find was a rumor-type article from a website that isn’t exactly one of the big ones in the entertainment industry stating that Perrette and “NCIS” lead Mark Harmon had gotten into a feud over Harmon bringing his pitbull to set, it biting a crew member and then him continuing to bring the dog to work with him despite some, including Perrette, speaking out that they didn’t feel safe with the dog around. Supposedly this incident led to some bad blood between the two and they haven’t appeared in scenes together since, including in the final Abby episode that aired last week. The rumor-type story featured an unnamed source (I hate when unnamed sources appear in articles) that seemed to place the blame on Perrette. Her tweets, while cryptic (I also hate her vagueness about the whole thing), would seem to suggest the situation was Harmon’s fault and the others in charge of the show.
I don’t really like writing about a topic that nobody seems to know the entire story of and there’s a great chance that nobody ever will with Perrette opting to remain vague and Harmon seeming like a private individual. Because of this I’m not even going to attempt to place blame on one person or the other. So, I’m frankly pissed off at both instead.
The greatest relationship on “NCIS” has been the almost father/daughter-like bond between Harmon’s Leroy Jethro Gibbs and Perrette’s Abby and because of a dumb (at least as far as we know) on set feud it became non-existent in Abby’s final season and that’s a detriment to every fan who’s spent hours with these characters and made the series the most popular on television for much of its run. I felt like there had been fewer Gibbs and Abby moments this season but didn’t really know the extent until reading about the feud. The fact that these two veteran actors couldn’t be professional enough to come together for even one damn scene in Perrette’s final episode is infuriating for someone who’s seen more episode of “NCIS” than any other television show in their life. I imagine there are numerous other fans out there who feel this same way. Instead it seems we get (again I haven’t yet seen this episode) a cobbled together final scene between the two through the magic of television in much the same way that Julianna Margulies and Archie Panjabi, another infamous CBS drama feud, had on Panjabi’s final episode of “The Good Wife.”
Again, I don’t know the extent of what happened between Harmon and Perrette, but I do know they should be ashamed of themselves for not coming together one last time for their fans.
by Julian Spivey
On Thursday, May 10 Fox canceled three of my favorite comedies on network television: “Brooklyn Nine Nine,” “The Last Man on Earth” and “The Mick” and even though I knew it was a possibility that all the series could be coming to an end due to poor Nielsen ratings it was something of a shock that all three were canceled in one fell swoop.
What really hurts the most is “Brooklyn Nine Nine,” which wraps its fifth season on Sunday, May 20, and ‘Last Man on Earth,’ which ended last Sunday on a cliffhanger, which I’ve watched for five and four seasons respectively and are far and away two of the funniest and, especially in the case of ‘Last Man on Earth,’ most creative comedies on television. I hope that “Brooklyn Nine Nine” saw the writing on the wall and doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, but the series frequently does. I wish ‘Last Man on Earth’ had seen this coming and chosen to edit the last 30 seconds or so from it’s finale, which would’ve given it somewhat more closure.
It’s on a day like today when three of your favorite shows, and best comedies on TV, are all canceled simultaneously that you realize television is the most heartbreaking form of entertainment, because unlike with movies, books and music you don’t always get finality with something that’s important to you, and as dumb as it sounds to say, for a lot of us our favorite shows are kind of like family members.
I understand that television is a business, but how does network TV’s system even make sense anymore? In an era when nearly everybody watches television either through DVR-viewing or streaming, networks shouldn’t rely as much on live watching, especially when Nielsen families (how ratings for shows are tabulated) make up such a small percentage of TV viewers. Have you ever known a single person who was in a Nielsen family?
I know that networks rely on advertisement to thrive and advertisers need to see people watching programs to want to sell ads to a network, but wouldn’t it be great for the shows that are good (and all three of these canceled Fox shows were anywhere from critically-liked to critically-adored) could survive?
Is it a taste issue, as much as an antiquated system issue? Maybe, but I think it’s only part of the problem. For “Brooklyn Nine Nine” especially fans caused an uproar on Twitter with their anger at Fox for cancelling the show, showing that there’s a large audience for the program, after all. But, these fans don’t show up in the show’s ratings – ‘B99’ was the least watched non-animated sitcom on Fox this year. They exist in the streaming world, with Hulu having exclusive rights, and through syndication with re-runs of the series being popular on TBS. This leaves many with the hope that TBS or Hulu will pick the show up, but that’s not typical for TBS and Hulu, which thankfully saved the once canceled Fox comedy “The Mindy Project,” hasn’t “saved” a show in three years.
A couple of interesting things that could be harming comedies like “Brooklyn Nine Nine” and ‘Last Man on Earth’ is the nostalgia boom for TV shows, particularly comedies, and networks seeing the success of “Roseanne” among conservative viewers and wanting to go in that direction. After all, older people are the ones who tend to watch live television still and older people skew conservative.
I’m a fan of “Roseanne” and have been mostly happy with its revival, but it could turn out to be bad for the future of televised comedy. For instance, Fox is in negotiations to bring “Last Man Standing,” the Tim Allen sitcom that was canceled by ABC last spring and caused an uproar among fans who erroneously thought the cancellation had to do with Allen’s pro-Donald Trump politics, instead of lacking ratings, to its network in the fall. I highly doubt the network would be doing such a thing had it not seen the booming ratings for “Roseanne.” “Last Man Standing” certainly won’t have the ratings that “Roseanne” has had because with only one year away from TV it won’t have the nostalgia factor, but it could likely outperform “Brooklyn Nine Nine” and ‘Last Man on Earth’ in ratings, though the quality is not at the same level (I do enjoy “Last Man Standing” though).
The nostalgia thing might be an even bigger killer of original programming. Not only has “Roseanne” big huge for ABC, but the return of “Will & Grace” was successful for NBC and CBS is getting into the action by bringing back ‘90s hit “Murphy Brown.” Again, the networks are winning by bringing back classic comedies that now older people enjoyed watching 20-25 years ago.
There are many reasons why original television series, particularly comedies, aren’t working on network TV anymore and unfortunately, I don’t really have any ways to fix the problem. Maybe these original shows will have to keep seeking out cable or premium channels to survive and let network TV become a wasteland?
by Julian Spivey
We got a lot of great finality in the “Scandal” series finale “Over a Cliff.” We got one last shocking death, one last epic Rowan (Joe Morton) speech that ultimately saved our main cast from a “Seinfeld” ending where everybody ends up in prison, one last Olitz love scene, and one last Stevie Wonder track. I don’t know that I’d go so far as to say the “Scandal” finale was perfect – it likely wasn’t the season’s best episode either – but, as far as wrapping things up in a bow it was nice and neat.
At the beginning of the finale it appears that all our “heroes” – which I’ve put in quotations because you could argue this show has no heroes, except for maybe Attorney General David Rosen (Joshua Malina) – are seemingly all off to prison for testifying on the nefarious B613 and all their criminal activity along the way.
The only way for “bad guys” Cyrus Beene (Jeff Perry) and Jake Ballard (Scott Foley) to escape surefire arrest is to kill Rosen. Ballard has threatened Rosen’s life many times, but always spared him. It seemed Rosen’s luck would finally run out in the finale. I’ve probably thought once or twice a season over the last few years that Rosen would eventually be killed off. But, Rosen doesn’t kowtow to Ballard like he has all the times before. He stands up to him. And, it works. Ballard lets him live.
Cyrus, never one to do the dirty work himself, is the one to do the dirty deed with a poisoned drink (the way a man of Cyrus’ stature would knock off a foe), which is the most shocking part of the death.
“Scandal” and its creator/finale scribe Shonda Rhimes has always had a bleak streak. There has always been talk of “wearing the white hat” and “being Gladiators” by Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and her gang and frankly I got sick of hearing about it because as previously mentioned the show has rid itself of all heroes one character at a time. But, never Rosen. And that’s precisely why he had to die. In the world of “Scandal” you must have at least some villain in you to thrive and survive. It’s a quality to the show I’ve often grappled with over its hit-or-miss run but has made for certain interesting moments in its characters. It’s almost as if Rhimes thought to herself, “what if I made a show where everyone eventually becomes an anti-hero.”
Our cast seems screwed when Rosen is killed – the official cause of death listed as heart attack – with the assistant AG being in Cyrus’ pocket. But, then Rowan comes and saves the day with another one of his epic speeches (which truly have become the highlights of the show and have given Morton ample time to show off his award-winning acting abilities). This speech saves the day, when his arrogance and far-fetched “I’ve run the world” probably should have come off as an unbelievable act of a father attempting to spare his daughter. Oh well. It’s just fictional television.
In the end its Ballard and Cyrus that fall with Ballard being arrested as leader of B613 and Cyrus being forced to resign as Vice President of the United States.
Quinn (Katie Lowes) exclaims that the “good guys win,” to which Abby, who was in love with Rosen, responded, “the good guy’s dead.” It was the most striking line of the episode for me as it truly captured the entire feel of what the series became. Good doesn’t do much winning in the world of politics.
The series is left with a bit of an open-ending with Olivia eschewing the world of politics and claiming she’s going to do whatever she wants. As she triumphantly walks away from all the monuments of D.C. she’s approached by black, official looking vehicles with Fitz stepping out and the two possibly living happily ever after.
Olivia Pope leaves television as one of its most important characters (it’s easy to forget that when the show began just seven years ago it was the first lead African-American female role on a network TV drama in decades) but ultimately a conflicted one – it didn’t always sit well with me that she turned into an anti-hero as the show went along. But, the same could be said for the series as a whole.
by Julian Spivey
Based on the success of the “Will & Grace” revival NBC announced today that it plans to revive its smash ‘90s sitcom “Friends” just as soon as it can locate Emmy-nominated actor Matthew Perry.
The show has already procured Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc and David Schwimmer for the high-profile comedy revival – some came into NBC’s New York City headquarters at 30 Rock willingly and some against their will. Reportedly Schwimmer had to be tranquilized. But, the network has been unable to find Perry, who reportedly went into hiding sometime in 2017 after CBS canceled his most recent television series “The Odd Couple.”
An anonymous source at 30 Rock – which is totally newsman Brian Williams (who just hangs out in the hallways) – has said that “Friends” will go into production on an eleventh season early this summer whether or not the network and producers can locate Perry’s whereabouts for a proposed premiere in the fall on Thursday nights directly after the second-season premiere of the “Will & Grace” revival. The source has said that the series has contacted “Beverly Hills, 90210” star Luke Perry (no relation) about portraying the character of Chandler Bing if the actor cannot be found in time. The network believes that fans will hardly notice.
“Friends” is one of the most popular sitcoms in television history, airing on NBC from 1994 until 2004, with its series finale drawing a whopping 52.5 million viewers, the fourth most-watched series finale of all-time. A television series drawing 52.5 million viewers for a single episode isn’t even possible in 2018 as fewer than 52 million Americans own televisions in the age of cord cutting.
Matthew Perry if you happen to be reading this you have been requested to meet NBC executives at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York, as soon as possible. They have given their word that Jimmy Fallon will not tousle your hair.
by Julian Spivey
You know that famous Roseanne laugh that you hear at the end of the opening credits of her show that shares her name?
I’m sure it’s the same laugh she has right now at all of those up in arms about the success of the show’s return. Hell, it’s probably the same laugh had by ABC executives after 25 million (18 million in real time) watched the show’s premiere last Tuesday.
It’s pretty much a fact that the real Roseanne is a loon. She’s batshit crazy. Anybody who’s ever viewed her Twitter profile for 10 seconds could tell you that. She’s offensive. And, unfortunately, she’s likely mentally ill. But, she’s the lead of an all-time great television sitcom in an era when networks are banking on the returns of classic television sitcoms to help bring eyeballs to television.
Roseanne has called out Parkland survivors on social media, dressed up like Adolf Hitler to sell cookies (at least I think that’s what she was doing), believes in crazy pro-Donald Trump conspiracy theories, has equated Islam with Nazism, and you could go on and on. Simply put, Roseanne as a person is not a very good one.
“Roseanne” as a television show is hilarious. It’s very popular. And, it’s not going anywhere. In fact, ABC took all of three days to renew the revival for an expanded second season. ABC is a business and cares about ratings and money. “Roseanne” is providing those in a BIG way. I’m sure Roseanne’s politics and offensive antics are going to cause executives at the network a major headache and they’re going to have to do everything they can to try to reign her in, something that may not be possible for her. They deserve these headaches too. But, if those viewers are rolling in every week they won’t mind it all that much. If those viewers stop rolling in you can bet they’ll cancel the show in a heartbeat.
The backlash against Roseanne the person is deserved, but what’s bothersome is those online who are essentially trying to bully ABC into canceling it because of it’s stars idiocy. I’m certainly struggling with this. I’ve loved the show “Roseanne” since I was a kid watching re-runs of it on Nick at Nite or wherever else you could find it on cable. I didn’t know at the time it’s star was a loon. Like many people in this country her looney-ness seems to have been building over the last decade or so. And, so I must try to separate “Roseanne” the television show from Roseanne the actress/comedian/personality. I believe you can separate art from the person. It might be hard. Luckily, it’s not something I believe I’ve ever had to experience until now, but it can be done.
Many of those 25 million who tuned into watch “Roseanne” last week just wanted to see a funny TV show that they’ve loved for many years. I’m sure many, if not most of them don’t even know a thing about Roseanne’s politics and offensiveness. They just want to laugh at punchlines between the Conners. That doesn’t make them bad people. It doesn’t make them enablers. TVLine’s Michael Ausiello wrote a great piece this week on continuing to watch “Roseanne” even though it makes him a hypocrite (his word and I believe he’s being a little harsh) in: “Roseanne Revival: I’m a Hypocrite Who Hates Himself for Loving It.” He does a good job pointing out that even though the star of the show is a Trump supporter the show itself is quite inclusive: DJ is in an interracial relationship and Darlene’s son is gender fluid. Also, Darlene actress Sara Gilbert (gay and working with Roseanne just fine despite their differences), and executive producer on the revival, said that after the show’s premiere last week there won’t be a single mention of Trump on the rest of its season.
How about we as Americans stop trying to kill off stuff that offends us? Yes, there are some things we should try to end – bigotry is tops on this list. But, the show “Roseanne” isn’t a medium for Roseanne the person’s beliefs. It’s an ensemble work that includes a cast of vast differences and beliefs. Just because we don’t agree with Roseanne’s beliefs in real life doesn’t mean we should call or tweet ABC and demand them end her show. I despise Ted Nugent, but I’ve never once called, tweeted or emailed my local classic rock radio station demanding they quit playing “Cat Scratch Fever.” I don’t do that because it’s frankly asinine. What do I do when I hear Nugent come on? I turn the dial. You can too. You don’t have to watch “Roseanne” if you don’t want to for any reason. That should be enough for you.
And, don’t give me this stuff about how ABC is suddenly becoming pro-Trump. This is the same network, after all, that features the terrific sitcom “Black-ish” (maybe the best sitcom on network television), which has had some of its best material being anti-Trump. It’s also the same network that less than a year ago canceled the Tim Allen-led “Last Man Standing,” which was way more conservative and political than the revival of “Roseanne” will be. We can have television shows that skew both ways on our screens. For what it’s worth, I bet the political lines for “Roseanne” viewers are split right down the middle.