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Good news, bad news: Chuck renewed for season 4; Heroes axed May 17, 2010

Posted by ce9999 in Chuck, Heroes, Stargate: Universe.
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I admit I was pretty surprised to hear that Heroes is not going to be back for another season.  The previous season ended on such a promising note, it was all too easy to forget that network execs don’t base their decisions on what’s happening in the story.  All that matters is the ratings, and the ratings for Heroes were, apparently, continuing downwards.

There has been some talk of doing a wrap-up miniseries or two-hour special of some kind.  Personally, I’m hoping for something more substantial than a two-hour special.  The cliffhanger at the end of the last season opened up a huge can of worms, now that the public at large has become aware of Claire’s special healing superpower, and I fail to see how that could be resolved in a mere two-hour special (which would really be only 90 minutes, allowing for the 25% of air time wasted on commercials).  Unless, of course, they plan to end it all with total nuclear annihilation, super-volcano, world-spanning locust plague, black-hole annihilation, etc. ;)

Anyway, on to the main point of why I am writing here tonight:  Much to my surprise, and delight, Chuck has been renewed for season four!  Awesome! :)

I write this after watching tonight’s episode.  Near the end of the episode, they did what they have often done in Chuck episodes:  They throw in some cool song to jazz things up.   And, as has happened several times before, I find myself going directly from the end of the episode to the iTunes store to buy a copy of the song.  This week it happens to be “I Am Your Skin” by The Bravery.

This has happened enough times now that I’m beginning to be amused by it.  I find myself feeling sort of like the dog must have, when Pavlov rang the bell: “Oh, here I am, drooling again.  Silly me.  But I can’t seem to help myself when that bell rings!”

I wonder if NBC is smart enough to be making money off of this somehow?  Music as product placement.  The show could undoubtedly benefit from some additional help on the commercial side of things, and the series does lend itself really well to a bit of musical montage (unlike, say, Stargate: Universe, where every montage sequence clashes in nails-on-chalkboard fury with the rest of the show).

To be specific, I’m not talking about selling soundtrack albums, nor am I talking about standard product-placement deals.  I’m talking about treating the song like a banner ad on a website, and then measuring the number of clicks.  The website collects money based on the number of clicks.  In this case, the clicks would be people buying the song on iTunes, Amazon.com, or wherever.  In order for this model to be credible, there would need to be a way to distinguish show-based clicks from ordinary, random clicks.  Probably the way to do that would be to graph the sales of the song over time, and if there’s a spike right after the airing of the show, that would be attributed to the show itself, with consequent payment for those excess sales.

Hmm.  Should someone be paying me for this idea?

I wonder how much money it would be possible to raise this way.  Not nearly enough to pay for an entire episode, obviously (not at the $1 per copy that iTunes usually charges), but like I said:  it would help.

[One more thing:  “I Am Your Skin” gets four stars out of a possible five on the iTunes scale.  It’s a good song, but flawed.  The flaw comes from excess.  Specifically, raising the vocals into a higher register for part of it was a mistake and a particularly inappropriate cliché, which keeps it well out of five-star territory.  The song also doesn’t have an ending, it just cuts itself off.  (This is a real pet peeve of mine.  It’s as if actually knowing how to end a fucking song has become a lost art.)  However, there’s enough else to like that I can give it an initial four-star rating.  Whether it stays there will depend on whether I get bored with it.]

“So long, nerds!” The Network-which-shall-not-be-named flips the bird to science fiction fans May 2, 2010

Posted by ce9999 in Caprica, Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate: Universe, The Sci-Fi Channel, Uncategorized.
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I came across this little item yesterday.  It’s a “must read” for those who enjoy what little quality science fiction programming occurs anymore on the Network-formerly-known-as-the-Sci-Fi-Channel:

So long, nerds!
[The-network-which-shall-not-be-named] doesn’t need you

Particularly worrisome is the news that the best shows on the channel are going to be moved from Friday night to Tuesday night, just so they can put Friday Night Smackdown on Friday night.  Having Caprica and Stargate: Universe on Tuesday is going to suck.

I figure this is the beginning of the end for that network. Or, perhaps more accurately, it’s chapter two or chapter three of the end. Stargate: Universe and Caprica will run their course, probably three seasons each, at which point the powers-that-be at the network will give us a song and dance similar to the cancellation of Stargate: Atlantis, that is, something along the lines of, “we think it would be a great idea to continue this, only as a sequence of individually released DVD movies instead of a weekly series.” Well, have there been any Atlantis movies? No? One is supposedly in the works, but at this point it seems to be entirely vaporware, and it was two years ago already when all of this was announced.

Supposedly they’re having difficulties on the money side of things.  In particular, the unexpected change in relative values of the American and Canadian dollars has made it more expensive to shoot in Canada now than, say, five years ago. Universe, however, is being filmed in Vancouver anyway, as is Caprica, so I am not sure if that argument holds water. [edit: looking back on this, I am no longer sure what my reasoning was for that statement…actually, it sounds as if I may have just been wrong outright…oh well…] Perhaps if they hadn’t made the mistake of canceling Atlantis, it would still be airing just fine and dandy! Ooops!

The thing is, although Atlantis sometimes ventured into the realm of brilliance, on the whole it was a show that never quite lived up to its potential, so I don’t bemoan the loss of it all that much. Mostly I miss David Hewlett’s performances, and I regret that, with its passing, the ratio of quality to crap on the network has gone down once again. Caprica and Universe, on the other hand, are both turning out to be pretty excellent programs.  If, perchance, either one of them was lost just so the network could experiment with new ways to make money, it would be a bitter pill to swallow.  All that would be left of quality science fiction television programming, in that case, would be Doctor Who.

Don’t get me wrong.  The network will still be there.  It will still exist as an entity.  It’ll just be focused on other stuff.   They’ll have to change the name again, too.  Just watch.

Universe casting suggestion! August 27, 2008

Posted by ce9999 in Stargate: Universe.
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At some point, the Powers That Be at Stargate Productions are going to be casting their new Stargate spinoff, Stargate: Universe. It’s been said by Sci Fi channel president Dave Howe that the hope is for the cast to be more “fresh faced.” I assume he means “fresh faced” in comparison to the casts of the previous two shows, which feature all sorts of dull, middle-aged people, several of them bald. I suppose we can’t have that if we’re wanting to appeal to 20-year-olds, can we? (sarcasm alert!)

Actually, accusing the Atlantis cast of not being appealing to a younger audience is kind of ridiculous. Take a look at the leads, and what do you see? A whole mess of very cool people, and with the possible exception of Robert Picardo, not one of them appears to be middle aged. David Hewlett and Joe Flanigan are both slightly over forty, but I never would have guessed that if I hadn’t looked it up. (I’m 40 myself, and I would love to be in as good a shape as Joe Flanigan!!) Jason Momoa, on the other hand, isn’t even thirty yet, and Jewel Staite is even younger than him.

Furthermore, why do media industry types insist on believing that the characters on a show have to be the same age as the audience? Who the hell came up with that, anyway? I know identification with a character is a big appeal, but it’s not necessary for the character to be the same age as the viewer in order for that to happen.

Example: The leading actors of the original Star Trek series were all older than the standard which the Stargate folks seem to be shooting for, and yet the show really took off in popularity in the 1970’s, with an audience that was mostly college students and younger at that time. DeForest Kelly was in his late forties when he first started playing Dr. Leonard McCoy, and I never once had any coolness issues with him. I was only nine years old when I became an avid Star Trek fan—do you suppose that’s youthful enough? Likewise, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy were both closer to 40 than they were to 30, and I practically worshipped both of their characters. James Doohan was actually the same age as DeForrest Kelly. There weren’t any women in the lead roles of that show, but for primary supporting roles, Nichelle Nichols was one year younger than Shatner and Nimoy. All of them were mid-30’s or older when the show began.

To take a more extreme example, in the most recent season of Doctor Who, the coolest supporting character of the whole season is probably Wilfred Mott (played by Bernard Cribbins), more commonly known as Donna’s grandfather. He’s just a fun character, and it’s hard to imagine him not appealing to pretty much any age group. I’m not sure how old he is, but as the grandfather of a woman in her 30’s, that must mean he’s in his 70’s at least, right?

A counter-example: How did people react to Wesley Crusher when Star Trek: The Next Generation started? I remember wishing he would die, frankly. :) That character was sort of a blight on the show, although he did get better in later seasons, thanks to better writing and Wil Wheaton’s acting talent. My reaction to early Wesley was pretty typical, though. I was 18 or 19 when that show was first broadcast.

So, who says you need to have youngish characters to appeal to a youngish audience, and who says that if you do, it’s even going to work?

So here’s my casting suggestion for one of the male leads on the new Stargate: Universe program: Adam Baldwin!

He’d be an excellent choice. For one thing, he’s got a bit of history in the Stargate universe already, having played Col. Dave Dixon, the leader of SG-13 in the double episode “Heros.” He’s in his mid 40’s, which is probably older than what they’re thinking of, but on the other hand, he’s younger than the parents of the target demographic, by roughly a decade, which means he could easily play a mature, leader-type role without conveying an uncool level of parentalness. Casting him would also create an opportunity to set up some inter-team conflict between him and another, younger male lead. Baldwin is also funny. Not just a little funny either—he’s a lot funny. Just watch his previous appearance on SG-1, or his 14-episode stint on Firefly if you don’t believe me.

One slight problem is that he appears to already be cast in another series. Oh well. I still think I’m right about this.