Monday July 22, 2019

Not having CBS on DirecTV is quite an inconvenience.

Amazon has already picked up a 2nd season of The Boys.

truTV has picked up a 9th season of Impractical Jokers.

Hulu has picked up The Orville from Fox.

AMC has ordered a 2nd season of NOS4A2.

Doom Patrol has been renewed for a 2nd season and will air on HBO Max and DC Universe.

If you have a chance to watch the Chris Herren special on ESPN, do yourself a favor and run, don’t walk to watch it. It’s called The First Day and it’s extremely powerful.

Season 4 of Amazon’s All of Nothing was on par with seasons 1-3. If you are an NFL fan, you will love this show.

If nothing else, check out the Eddie Murphy episode of this season of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.

I watched the first 2 episodes of the new season of Last Chance U. It started to drag midway through episode 2 so I’ll have to return to that one when I’m in the right mindset.

I was pretty dissatisfied with the season (and possibly series) finale of Big Little Lies. More below.

The Ringer looks at where season 2 of Big Little Lies went awry. “Big Little Lies remains the leading example of Movie Star TV, and one reading of Season 2 positions it as a cautionary tale of stars run amok, chewing through scenery until there’s no set left to act against. But Renata’s epic freakouts didn’t just break through on the awesome power of Dern’s index finger. They were also rooted in aspects of her character that were previously unknown to the audience, but fit with the woman we saw before us, clinging to her hard-won independence. Meanwhile, the courtroom scene flattened Mary Louise into a wicked witch and Celeste into a hard-charging warrior—a turn that’s superficially satisfying, but a much less complicated note to hit than last season’s vaunted therapy scenes. The season’s acting didn’t come at the expense of its story; ultimately, the reverse may be true. Without new plot to feed into television’s ever-hungry wood chipper, a more introspective second season was never going to work as a soap opera. But Big Little Lies proved unwilling to modify its approach, an on-camera issue that also played out behind the scenes. Two weeks ago, IndieWire reported that director Andrea Arnold had creative control seized from her by Kelley and Season 1 director Jean-Marc Vallée, who set about ‘removing Arnold’s signature contributions’ in postproduction, including ‘character exploration and ‘ephemeral stuff.’ We’ll likely never know whether Arnold’s version of the season included more of the quiet psychological work the material seemed to call for. But Kelley and Vallée’s involvement seems symptomatic of a broader reluctance to modify Lies approach. And in the absence of more compelling action in the show, the popcorn drama of a directors’ tug-of-war inevitably overshadowed, and provided some of the erstwhile thrills of, the work itself. Big Little Lies second season had its moments. The difference from the original is that the season was unable to string these moments together into a cohesive story, or even a compelling set of themes. The takeaway from the first iteration of Big Little Lies was that women separated by social station or petty rivalries could find themselves bound together by more primal instincts. The takeaway from the second is that Laura Dern can really swing a baseball bat. The rest of the season may fade into the rearview mirror of Peak TV, but we’ll always have the GIFs.”

Anyone who continues to claim that Euphoria is one of the best shows of the year is kidding themselves in my opinion. Its shock value is wearing off and underneath there’s little other than a trite show about high school kids doing drugs, drinking and having sex. The whole set up of this kid Tyler to take the fall is a laughable plot line at best.

Project Runway may have run its course, Page Six has learned. The Bravo reality show — which aims to find the next big thing in fashion — failed to get an Emmy nod for the first time in its 15-year run as ratings have plunged by half year on year. And now time may be up for the show that made celebrity favorite Christian Siriano a star. Following the departure of the ever-popular Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, supermodel Karlie Klosstook over as host. But she has just one year left on her contract, and a show source told us: ‘Karlie signed a two-year deal, so you’ll see her on the next season, but it’s doubtful that she’ll return.’ Producers love Kloss, we’re told, and another source said: ‘Karlie is a delight, but without Heidi and Tim, it just changed the dynamic of everything.’ The insider added: ‘And let’s face it, Karlie always has an enormous amount of work.’”

How cooking-travel shows are changing TV.

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From Rolling Stone: “A review of I Want To Know, the Big Little Lies Season Two finale, coming up just as soon as I have connections for my sugar cereals…

“Midway through I Want To Know, Ed calms Madeline‘s fears about their marriage by offering to renew their vows. But, he tells her, ‘This is not some, like, ‘Put a tidy ribbon on it, bygones be bygones’ ending, OK? This is a shot at a new beginning.’

“Which of those options was this finale meant to be? A tidy ribbon to the story of Big Little Lies, since the stars are all very busy and unlikely to converge again anytime soon, if ever? A shot at a new beginning, where a hypothetical third season would give the Monterey Five their day in court, even as most of the series’ other subplots and character arcs were resolved? Both? Neither?

“With the future of this project cloudy at best — and whatever happened between director Andrea Arnold and the rest of the creative team only making it cloudier — it’s hard to tell exactly what David E. Kelley’s intentions were with this finale. But it’s also hard to feel enthused about the idea of the story continuing, in part because Season Two so often struggled to justify its own existence, all the way through this oddball finale.

“The original miniseries incarnation of Big Little Lies told a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end in terms of plot, theme, and character. There were stray threads dangling — Would Ed find out about Madeline’s affair? Would anyone ever find out what really happened to Perry? — but not enough to merit continuing the show just to tie them off. Instead, the main argument for making this into an ongoing show was the chance to keep watching Kidman, Witherspoon, Dern, et al. working together — and, this time out, to enjoy the event that was Meryl Streep’s first TV series on top of that.

“As an acting delivery system, BLL is still extraordinary. Even as this season’s story meandered and looped back in on itself and made strange left turns, the ensemble was giving it their very impressive all. The courtroom scenes of these last two episodes were often a mess, and yet there was Streep gasping for air as Celeste accused Mary Louise of killing her other son Raymond through rageful driving. The Ed/Madeline rift mostly went in circles — even the vow renewal doesn’t seem to really solve the problem of his ability to trust her going forward — but there was Adam Scott at his most vulnerably optimistic as Ed offered to give things another go. And I’ve run out of superlatives for the way Laura Dern has played Renata‘s many justified explosions, here resulting in Gordon‘s toys (and Gordon’s midsection) taking a deserved beating during her Godzilla-like, baseball-bat-wielding rampage. (Gordon brings it on himself by quipping that, with the nanny no longer around to have sex with, ‘I need something to play with, huh?’)

“But my goodness, did it become frustrating watching these world-class performers give their all to such sketchy material. Too often, Season Two felt like a very long and expensive collection of deleted scenes from Season One — only displayed because they existed and the acting was wonderful, not because it was necessary, or at times even good, storytelling. Episodes tended to clock in around 45 minutes, on the extremely short side for pay cable, yet the amount of time devoted to characters staring at the ocean made them feel padded even at that length.

Last week’s episode seemed to be Kelley steering the show into his area of expertise by spending so much time in family court. But even though Kelley’s a former attorney with 11 previous Emmys, most of them for writing legal dramas, most of the courtroom scenes in the penultimate episode and this one felt extremely half-baked. Celeste emotionally broke Mary Louise, but the revelations about Perry’s brother felt almost anticlimactic. And then there was the sequence where Judge Cipriani allowed first Mary Louise, then Celeste, to interrupt her verdict with impromptu speeches that just rehashed points each had made before, only for Cipriani to resume delivering the verdict she’d already clearly decided on. Little of it made sense, other than the decision itself to let Celeste retain full custody of Max and Josh. And if the hope is to eventually make a third season, it would almost certainly involve even more legal maneuvering — to protect Bonnie, if not all five of them — which plays against the strengths of the show and, somehow at the moment, its showrunner and sole writer.

“There were some nice grace notes elsewhere in the finale, like Corey assuring Jane that he doesn’t need perfection to be happy with her, or Nathan‘s response to hearing that Bonnie has never loved him. (The women in the cast rightly get the bulk of the accolades, but James Tupper, like Adam Scott, Jeffrey Nordling, and the other men, has also done fine work, even if their roles can also be underfed.) The courtroom scenes largely derailed whatever else was working over the back half of this season, but the finale brought most of the individual character arcs to resting places that felt like good enough endings for the major players.

“And if I believed with certainty that this would be the end of the series, the image of the other four women joining Bonnie on her late-night trip to confess to the cops would be a good closing note. It wouldn’t retroactively excuse some of the various missteps of this year — or, really, this year’s existence at all, since so many of the problems came from trying to elongate a story that wasn’t intended to continue. (That everyone — including Madeline herself — admitted that it was dumb of Madeline to make everyone lie didn’t make the lie seem any less dumb as we had to watch its aftermath play out.) But because nothing in television is ever allowed to end anymore, we have to look at that as a possible new beginning, where Big Little Lies becomes a legal procedural even more than before.

“Most of us went into this season with the sentiment that, yes, it was unnecessary, but it was also bringing Meryl effing Streep to our televisions to do battle with the women in this sterling returning cast. (Well, most of them; there wasn’t a whole lot between Mary Louise and Bonnie.) Is there a caliber of performer to rival Streep — both in terms of talent and the unlikelihood of them committing to a season of television — that could be brought in for a potential third season? It’s hard to imagine. Is there another kind of stunt that might bring comparable ‘I know this is a bad idea, but…’ rationalizing from skeptical viewers? Never put it past Witherspoon the producer, though her attention is about to be split among the 57 or so other TV projects she has in development.

“If this is the actual overdue ending of Big Little Lies, then we can feel grateful for getting to see this much acting talent concentrated in one place. But these great performances were in service to a story whose merits washed away in the Monterey surf a long time ago.”

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “The end of The Good Place is rapidly approaching … at least for the creative team.

“‘The finale script is complete,’ creator and executive producer Michael Schur revealed during the show’s Comic-Con panel. ‘We read it on Monday.’

“Originally, the writers intended to deliver the script to the actors the night before the convention, but Schur realized reading the series finale might be emotional — and ‘Ted [Danson] would spend the entire panel telling everyone what happens in it.’ (The NBC series is on a different production schedule than most network shows and has filmed much of its season already.)

“The cast — who gave a standing ovation to the crowd upon entering and did the same for Schur at the end of the panel — admitted they had mixed reactions to the series coming to an end. Kristen Bell, who got the news that the show is ending from Schur via a call (with spotty reception), shared before he was able to tell her why he called, she figured out what was coming and made him promise to write her something in the future. (He agreed.)

“‘It feels like a breakup when you’re still in love with the person, but you know it’s not going to last,’ said D’Arcy Carden.

“Though everyone is mourning, Schur joked with Danson about the Emmy-nominated actor already landing another gig on NBC's upcoming Tina Fey-Robert Carlock comedy. ‘That’s how I handle breakups,’ Danson cracked. ‘You can’t divorce me, I quit.’ (Danson won’t start his new series until after The Good Place concludes.)

“But the final season did allow for a big milestone for Bell, who directed her first episode of television. 

“‘The biggest lesson I learned from Mike Schur … [aside from him being] super ethical and an amazing comedy writer, is he knows how to empower people around him,’ Bell said. ‘I will take that forever to my grave. It’s astounding how much you can look around at people around you and say, ‘I see so much potential in you, how can I lift you up?’

“‘Having a director who was decisive was my favorite thing … I had so much fun directing all of you,” she continued. “I already feel like I’m bossy around you guys … but I had fun wearing the actual hat, where instead of ignoring me, you had to listen.’

“While the creative team is notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to spoilers, the presentation did open up with a scene from the season premiere, as Eleanor (Bell) and Michael (Danson) are baffled by the newest resident, the oddly apathetic Linda. And Schur did reveal one tidbit about the last batch of episodes: ‘You may meet a new Janet this year.’”

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From EW’s conversation with Big Brother EP Allison Grodner:

Ovi, David, and Kemi are all out of the game after losing the Camp Comeback challenge. Which player are you saddest to lose and why?
Honestly, all of them. I think they are all great. Ovi is a sweetheart and it would have been fun to see him back in the game and using his well-earned secret power. David played a very smart social game during Camp Comeback while making very astute observations about the power dynamics in the house. I think the work he put in over the past two weeks would have seen him happily welcomed back into the game and he could have gone far.

Kemi really understands and appreciates the Big Brother game. She knew everything going on in the house and was ready to make big moves. It would have been awesome to see her stay, keep putting her water bottles in the fridge, and take down Jack.

There were a lot of accusations by the players about bullying this week, and viewers of the live feeds have been complaining about the behavior of several members of Gr8ful. Do you think there has been bullying in the house this season, and if so, who have been the worst offenders in terms of their behavior?
The house dynamics in this social experiment are unpredictable and different every year as people align and realign. The bigger the group, the bigger the chance for some sort of “mob mentality.” It seems to be that “mob mentality” that occurred this past week against Nicole. As a large group, they whipped each other up into a frenzy and it became a major story both in and out of the house.

The Gr8ful alliance votes against the HOH’s wishes and secretly votes out Cliff instead of Nicole. What do you think the aftershocks of this betrayal will be in terms of Nick and Bella’s position in the game?
Nick and Bella were shocked, upset, and betrayed. My prediction is that this blindside splits the house in two. We are now looking at a group of six and then the rest of the house. If one of the six does not get HOH, I would be surprised if they aren’t targeted this week.

The players have been in the house for almost a month now. Who do you think has played the best overall game so far?
I think there are a couple of people who will be sitting comfortably for a while. Tommy has played a great social game and no one seems to want him to go. Cliff is smart and clearly good at competitions. I think he could end up being one of the biggest surprises of this season.”

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From The Hollywood Reporter: “Discovery Inc. is making good on HGTV’s $3.5 million investment in the Brady Bunch house. Ahead of September's launch of A Very Brady Renovation, sister networks Food Network and Discovery will air programming tied to the series and featuring appearances by Brady Bunch castmembers.

“HGTV made headlines last summer when it was revealed to be the winning bidder on the Studio City home that provided the iconic facade in the 1970s sitcom. Though there wasn’t initially a clear idea of what the network would do with the building, programmers quickly attracted the six surviving stars of The Brady Bunch to participate in a renovation series to replicate the set’s midcentury aesthetic inside the house.

“All six Brady castmembers — Barry Williams (Greg), Maureen McCormick (Marcia), Christopher Knight (Peter), Eve Plumb (Jan), Mike Lookinland (Bobby), Susan Olsen (Cindy) — will now appear in a variety of Discovery portfolio series, with Brady-inspired episodes of Fast N’ Loud, Chopped, Worst Cooks in America, The Kitchen andThe Pioneer Woman.

“‘They became the biggest fans of the project. They were totally hands-on with the renovation and a lot of the design decisions were led by them,’ says Kathleen Finch, chief lifestyle brand officer, Discovery Inc. ‘They’ve been the best partners we could hope for and they are game for anything.’

“The series itself enlists plenty of HGTV personalities in the full-scale overhaul of the Brady Bunch house. Property Brothers' Jonathan and Drew Scott, as well as Mina Starsiak and Karen E Laine (Good Bones), Leanne and Steve Ford (Restored by the Fords), Jasmine Roth (Hidden Potential) and Lara Spencer (Flea Market Flip) all appear in episodes of the forthcoming event series.

A Very Brady Renovation is a rare foray into event programming for the lifestyles network, but HGTV execs have been quick to capitalize on the seemingly evergreen press the network has managed to squeeze out of the house since the purchase.

“‘The minute news broke that HGTV had won the bid to buy the Brady house, fan reaction was unbelievable,’ says Finch, who led HGTV before inheriting Discovery’s entire lifestyles network portfolio in 2018 — and quickly decided the project could be one of the first cross-network initiatives since Discovery acquired Scripps. ‘That’s the advantage of having all these great networks and talent under one roof. We can take an exciting idea and turbocharge it across multiple networks and multiple nights.’

“Though the series itself is a short order, other Brady-related initiatives are already planned in anticipation of the premiere and a HGTV-Food partnership on a Christmas special is planned for the end of 2019.

“Discovery has yet to decide what it will do with the house now that filming has completed on the renovation, but HGTV has already launched a contest for fans to try to win a stay in the building. The Brady-inspired episodes of Fast N’ Loud, Chopped, Worst Cooks in America, The Kitchen and The Pioneer Woman are expected to air throughout August.”