Tonight, BBC America will telecast "Weird Science," a 1985 comedy about two gangly high school nerds equally obsessed with technology and girls. I would never refer to HBO's delightful new series "Silicon Valley" as a companion piece to "Weird Science," but following on the subject of geeks inheriting the earth, this latest comedy from the uncommonly insightful Mike Judge has been the happiest surprise so far of this still-young year.
Countless critics have already filled their columns with praise for "Waterloo," the midseason finale of AMC's "Mad Men" and an episode so rich with plot, character advancement and remarkable dialogue that I find myself thinking it must be contemplated and discussed for days or even weeks in order to fully appreciate all that it offered. The experience of watching it and then thinking about it is not unlike that of appreciating a great movie -- one that with reflection, continues to take shape, challenge and satisfy over time.
Yesterday's TV Blog was all about the nominations for this year's Television Critics Association Awards. Today's column is about the nominations for this year's Critics' Choice Television Awards, which will also be presented in a ceremony at the Beverly Hilton. The similarities end there. The Critics' Choice Television Awards will be telecast live on The CW on June 19. The networks with the most Critics' Choice nominations are FX, HBO, CBS and Fox. The full list of Critics' Choice nominees follows.
Television has a separate and distinct awards season to call its own, beginning in June with the Critics Choice Television Awards and continuing in July with the Emmy Award nominations and the presentation of the annual Television Critics Association Awards, and generally concludes in September with the Emmys themselves. The Critics Choice Awards are up first, but the nominations for the 2014 TCA Awards today were the first out of the gate. As usual, they are an interesting if somewhat predictable mix.
Will these tiresome tweets ever go away? I'm all for tweeting while watching television if that is what someone is moved to do. (Indeed, Twitter has made watching awards shows tolerable again.) But I think that tweets belong on Twitter rather than on TV. The ongoing annoyance here is that the tweets seem utterly pointless from every perspective.
It is almost impossible not to offer a few snap responses to certain of the shows announced last week. I haven't been able to disguise my immediate disdain for the seemingly insipid new rom-coms set to run on ABC and NBC. Another limited trend can be summed up thusly: It is going to be a bad season for kids. And then there is the most interesting TV trend of all: Series in which characters become caught up in local, federal or international conspiracies of different kinds.
The most interesting story about the fall season to come is the incredible amount of superhero, fantasy and genre shows on the broadcast networks. Of even greater interest is the reason behind the sudden surge in genre shows -- something I would call the Comic-Con Effect. We all know that many shows and movies that have had the full support of the Con crowd have flopped when exposed to the public at large. Anyway, I have to believe that this is why genre shows look to be the dominant trend of 2014-15 -- that and their Future Viewing Potential.
For more than a decade, the final days of the "traditional" broadcast television season -- as well as the final few days of the all-important May sweeps -- have been dominated by two reality series: Fox's "American Idol" and ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." More recently, NBC's "The Voice" has joined them.
When it comes to television dramas, nothing ignites an aging franchise better than a thoughtful, well-crafted cliffhanger. Conversely, a cliffhanger that feels forced or tacked on just for the sake of being there can actually have a negative effect, perhaps leading viewers to feel as if they are being manipulated (more so than usual). That can prompt them to decide they have had enough of a show and to look elsewhere among the new offerings of the fall season for something different to engage them.
At first look it may appear that the fall schedule CBS announced this week looks remarkably stable, with familiar franchises every night of the week. But the network will actually make changes on six of its seven nights, and five nights will include a new series. Does this schedule reflect a network with serious performance concerns that it feels it must address all at once? Or is this the work of smart schedulers making minor alterations across the board to protect and then grow potentially valuable new programs? CBS is currently a rock-solid broadcaster, so the latter seems more likely.