For ABC, "Life On Mars" shouldn't be a challenge, right? I mean, it's a straight remake of a British show, without the lovely Northern accents. But it's also frightfully expensive, AND it's period, and there seems to be some strife behind the scenes. ABC is also still shooting pilots, so expect more dramas from them later in the season.
Over at CBS, they've picked up procedurals, a romantic drama, and they're trying scary shit again. "The Mentalist" is probably the most straightforward show they have. But having been on an undefined procedural, I think they're gonna have trouble figuring out how to dramatize the main character's specific talent. As someone said, it's "Psych," but not funny. The show feels creaky and old, but then that's what CBS viewers seem to prefer. I didn't think anyone would watch "Criminal Minds," either. I think (I'm not entirely sure because I didn't pay attention to staffing this year) that the showrunner is not the creator, which I think is always cause for alarm. Not always in a creative sense, but in the way the network and studio deal with you.
Then there are the two remakes -- "The Ex-List" and "Eleventh Hour." "The Ex-List" doesn't sound one bit sustainable or interesting. I'll watch a few episodes, though, because I just have to see if the show has a chance of working. Maybe Diane Ruggiero is a genius. I don't know. "Eleventh Hour" is an expensive misfire, and I'm basing that on a couple of things. One, it's a remake of a British show that didn't work at all. Two, they are simply re-doing that pilot story, which was the only episode that even half-worked. Three, they hired an expensive feature writer to write the pilot, so the showrunner isn't the creator. If they'd hired some TV vet who was able to crack the premise, I'd feel more positive about it, but that's not what they did. So I think the writers are going to be spending a lot of time figuring out what the show is. They've also got the studio to deal with, which means a lot of fights about money. In my view, this show should have more of an "X-Files" feel, but it'll be a straight procedural. Maybe people will watch it. It IS CBS, after all.
Then they have a midseason show, "Harper's Island," which is being run by a great showrunner who is, unfortunately, not the creator. As this is a mystery show, that's a little worrying. It's CBS trying to go outside the box, and for this network to try and ape "Lost" is a huge mistake. Another misfire.
Fox picked up two genre shows -- "Fringe" and "Dollhouse." Obviously, "Dollhouse" is the most intriguing of the two because of the Joss Whedon connection. It sounds weird and zany, but Joss isn't really the type to come up with something he can't sustain. May have something to do with the fact that he's a TV veteran, hmm? I think midseason is a good spot for this show. After all, "Buffy" premiered midseason. I haven't read this one yet, but I'm gonna trust Joss a bit. "Fringe" is also created by TV veterans, three of them in fact, but they are all off to their feature careers, so "Fringe" will be run by someone else. They chose from within their camp, which is good, but does ANYONE know what this show is? What are the rules? What are the episodes? I have no idea. This is a very, very expensive show (the studio also has "Eleventh Hour," so look out) and it was all about JJ Abrams fulfilling his WB deal. So was his heart really in this one? I know it's an attempt to reboot "X-Files," but I don't think people who want to reboot that show watched it at all. Seriously, does NOBODY understand what made "X-Files" work? Of the two, "Dollhouse" should far outstrip "Fringe."
NBC picked up some totally weird shit. I don't know what they're doing. Speaking of brands, what is NBC's brand? Anyone?? I guess they'll just hope the Olympics brings them a ton of cash because their schedule is WEIRD. I'm intrigued by the Christian Slater show. I haven't read it yet, but that sucker's right up my alley. Actually, we pitched the exact same show a few years ago, but gender-flipped. "Kings" sounds like a bad idea. Will anyone watch that? Or "Merlin?" On NB-freaking-C? I will, however, check out "Crusoe" because of the beyond-awesome cast. "The Philanthropist" is another example of a show created by the person who isn't going to run it, so I know they're already struggling with what the show is. David Eick is running it, and my understanding is that he's going dark with it. That seems like a mistake to me. Shouldn't a show about a rich dude helping out the less fortunate be FUN? And then there's the reboot of "Knight Rider." Since the "Bionic Woman" remake worked so well for the same network, insanity seems to be coming into play here. Because if you do the same thing, but expect a different result... you know what they say.
The CW ordered some stuff, but so what? I would love to see them really stick the landing and make a decision about what they are. It's not like they lack smart, savvy execs over there.
So out of the entire schedule, here's what I'm intrigued by: Dollhouse, My Own Worst Enemy, Crusoe, erm... that's it, gentle readers. And really, I'm only actually looking forward to "Dollhouse." As far as returning shows go, "Sarah Connor" will definitely be on my watch list. I'm still watching "Lost," but I think that's midseason again. Um... hmmm... I'll probably catch up on "Reaper." And... um... there are going to be five episodes of "Torchwood" at some point...
I think that's it.
But enough about the legends of the fall. What about summer TeeVee? The cable networks are turning summer from a wasteland into a real television season. I mean, all I really have to say is "Mad Men," right? Summer's all about Sterling Cooper, baby! And a plug for a friend's show, "The Middleman" starts Monday on ABC Family. You can download the pilot for free from iTunes as we speak.
I've been told before that original movies are hardly being made because there is a shortage of GOOD original creative material being written. I think it was Unk who told me that, but I could be mistaken.
Yeah. Blame it on the writers. That's why when a writer makes it, suddenly all their other scripts have interest. The problem is, there's a difference between what's good and what sells. It's a marketing issue. And everyone who tries the spec market knows that. They always clamor for an original voice but when you give it to them, they can't recognize it. It takes a lot of luck to get your script into exactly the right hands. I know people loved "Little Miss Sunshine" for some obtuse reason, but that's a perfect example of material making it to the right people. Same with "Juno." But do you really think that all unsold scripts are unmitigated crap? Really? Of course not.
I may take you up on that when it's done!
Thanks for mentioning Kimba the White Lion. Man, I loved that show!
On the branding topic, I have a fairly common name overall, and a really common first name.
Is it worth my while using a variation of my real name (based on middle names or initials) to differentiate myself? Or can it pay off to have the exact same name as a bunch of other writers? (One of whom in particular is quite famous.)
Obviously it's worked for Diablo Cody, but I'm not a former stripper.
Erm, yeah. I think her stripper backstory meant a little more than her porn name! Honestly, unless you really want to package and market yourself, don't worry about it. And who knows? Maybe someone will read you just because your name is a famous writer's name. Worse things have happened, and any way you can get in the door is a good way.
If you don't care about the Belmont, look away. I be ranting.
Although luck is a factor in horse racing, you don't luck into a classic win. Even if you have the best horse on paper, the race isn't run on paper. It's never a foregone conclusion. I think the Preakness spoiled a lot of people because so many horses had trouble in the Derby. The ease with which Big Brown won the Preakness made him look unbeatable. But really, there aren't that many horses that are unbeatable. Seattle Slew, the only unbeaten Triple Crown winner, was thrashed in his next race after the Belmont. Incidentally, the rider didn't pull the horse up when he was hopelessly beaten. Seattle Slew only ran three times at two, but was named champion two-year-old. At three, he had THREE preps for the Derby. So when he went into the Derby, he had already run six times. The Belmont was his ninth race. The Belmont was Big Brown's sixth race, and he only had one race at two. Like Slew he had not been tested, but he also didn't have the foundation Slew had going into the Belmont. And then Dutrow changed up the colt's training. When Secretariat went into the Belmont, he'd had three works between the Preakness and Belmont -- I think two were six furlong breezes and one was a half-mile blow-out. Big Brown had one very slow five furlong work, in THREE FUCKING WEEKS. And then Dutrow didn't blow him out on Belmont morning, which he had done for the Derby and the Preakness.
I'd love for someone who knows a lot about this sport and conditioning racehorses how resting a horse gets him fit and battle-ready for the longest race an American three-year-old will attempt. These horses are being babied and pampered, and if you think that doesn't have a lot to do with what's happening here, you're crazy.
Beyond the fitness issue, my fury is directed at the ride by Kent Desormeaux. Kent's now lost two Triple Crowns. Everyone, Kent included, knows he moved too early ten years ago, which led to the close loss by Real Quiet. But this... this was just appalling on so many levels. People are saying Big Brown finished last, but he didn't. He didn't finish at all. He was pulled up. Not eased, not allowed to finish under his own power, not under wraps. PULLED FUCKING UP. You want to terrify 94,000 people? DO THAT. When Big Brown went by, though, what you saw was a horse saying, "HEY, you fucker, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? LET ME GO. ASSHOLE!" The horse was pissed, and apparently he continued being pissed for the rest of the day.
See, one thing a jockey is supposed to do with an inexperienced horse -- and let's face it, Big Brown IS inexperienced -- is teach him. Teach him how to break, how to relax, how to respond to commands, how to focus, how to move, how to run down inside horses, how to finish. YOU DON'T TEACH A PERFECTLY HEALTHY HORSE TO PULL UP. Shit, even the HORSE knew that! And then Desormeaux gets a pat on the back from Gary Stevens (who incidentally WORKS for the owners) for protecting the horse.
Bullshit. Kent Desormeaux fucked up. He choked. To blame the horse for that is unforgivable. As someone said, his humans let him down. Although he's a classless idiot, Rick Dutrow was right to call Desormeaux out on this one. But he was also wrong for not taking half the blame himself, and for not keeping that within the circle of the trainer, the jockey and the owners. Dutrow said he'd talk to Desormeaux about it, which meant they hadn't discussed it, which means that Dutrow was a jackass for talking shit about the rider to the press FIRST.
There's a reason Triple Crown veteran Nick Zito won the fucking race, people. Because he KNOWS how to win it. Hell, I'd rather see this horse with Zito, Baffert or Lukas. It's not the breed that isn't tough enough. It's the Goddam people.
Seattle Slew, incidentally, is the only Belmont winner to sire a Belmont winner. Or he was, until his son AP Indy sired last year's winner, Rags To Riches. Slew had heart and grit and class, and he passed that along. If Big Brown retires now, what will he pass along? Why isn't he getting the opportunity to show what he has? Why aren't his people letting him be tested? How can Kent Desormeaux whine about how the horse isn't resilient enough, when it's all about Desormeaux throwing a fit because things didn't go perfectly? You know what? Most of the time, things don't go your way. Hey Kent, do you teach your kids to give up?
Speaking of heart and class, this year's winner, Da'Tara, is by Cal-bred Tiznow, certainly one of California's greatest racehorses, and the only horse to win two Breeder's Cup Classics. He won both by a nose, defeating the best Europe had to offer, on two different tracks that were not his home tracks. Obviously, Tiznow, who has two of the top three-year-olds of 2008 (Da'Tara and Colonel John), is passing along that toughness to his runners.
Okay, so that was rantier and longer than I wanted it to be. Sue me.
Dead last for Big Brown--guess steroids have their place after all. I had a tough time rooting for a slimbag like Rick Dutrow Jr, but that horse is a beautiful animal. Too bad he had the wrong trainer...Now the inevitable will be asked: how bad was the hoof and how much did the steroids aid in Big Brown's talent?
My understanding is that Dutrow's had Big Brown off the Winstrol since April. So if the steroids were going to factor in, they would have factored in for the Derby. I think it's bizarre that he suddenly decided to take the horse off the Winstrol and believe it has something to do with the stupid interview he gave where he admitted he used it but didn't know what it did. Moronic.
The hoof had, I believe, nothing to do with how he actually ran. You know, horses have bad days. And Big Brown, thanks to the fuck-up by Desormeaux, probably did learn a lot in the Belmont. Look, when you have a Derby-Preakness winner getting rank because he's down inside horses, that's a problem, man. And you as the rider and you as the trainer, are responsible for that. Desormeaux was thinking about how Real Quiet got to the lead too soon in '98, so he strangled this horse, then the horse got mad and Desormeaux had to abruptly move out. I don't think the horse knew where he was in the race, which is something you see in the Derby all the time. Horses with tactical speed get buried ten lengths off the lead and they can't relax because it's an unfamiliar position. Same deal here.
I am spending far too much time on Facebook. Stupid social networking nonsense.
np - Coldplay, "Viva La Vida." Maybe I'm nuts, but Eno's a good fit for them.