Brimming with Glee

Fox Broadcasting Company

Fox Broadcasting Company

 

Sunday night Australian time, Channel Ten will air the pilot episode of the FOX network USA’s promising new musical-dramedy Glee; an infectious and charming affair set amidst the everyday dramas of high school, and the fledgling efforts of the once glorious but now misunderstood Glee Club. A decidedly American tradition, a Glee Club is somewhere between a choir and a dance troop, an all-singing, all-dancing mini-Broadway musical in every performance. After learning that the previous Glee Club supervisor has been fired (for somewhat scandalous reasons), Spanish teacher Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison), one of those rare teachers who teaches purely for the love of it, and with the hope and faith that he can make a difference, decides that a rebirth of the Glee Club might be the very thing he has been looking for to help inspire the all-too-jaded teens, and perhaps infuse some joy in them along the way.

Rachel Berry, the Glee Club’s leading lady, is a dramatic over-achiever who is all too aware of her talent and wants nothing more but to perform. Thanks to her gay fathers, Rachel has been instilled with a love of musicals from a very young age, and posts a new MySpace video every day performing a favourite Broadway classic. Lea Michele is an inspiring and exciting casting choice in the role of Rachel, having originated the female lead in the critically acclaimed rock musical Spring Awakening—(Michele won the role when she was 14, developing it through several workshops and off-Broadway performances until finally, at age 20, the show made its Broadway debut)—the belting tunes are left in more-than-capable hands. Finn (Cory Monteith) is Rachel’s male lead, the jock that is conned in to joining the Glee Club by Mr. Schuester—by some not-so-savoury means. Finn represents the every-guy, the guy who’s just trying to fit in, but who in a moment of passion, realises that singing is what he loves, regardless of whether his football team-mates think it’s cool or not. Other notable characters include: Sue Sylvester, the aggressive and driven high school cheer squad coach played to perfection by Jane Lynch, most recently notable for her hilarious turn as a cater-waiter in Party Down; Emma Pillsbury, the school guidance councillor with a phobia for germs, played by Jayma Mays most recognisable for stand out guest starring roles in Ugly Betty, Heroes, and Pushing Daisies; and Kurt Hummel, the obviously gay musical-theatre nerd who is resigned to the fact that the jocks will beat him up, just allow him time to remove his Mark Jacobs jacket, played by relative newcomer Chris Colfer.

Glee represents a marked change for executive producer Ryan Murphy, (who co-created Glee along with Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan), his most famous credit being creator and executive producer of the daring, controversial, and highly sexualised Nip/Tuck. Glee may appear to be worlds away from the happenings of Nip/Tuck’s plastic surgeons with their physical perfection and highly dysfunctional personas; yet, Glee too shows signs of the quirky originality and edgy self-awareness that initially made Nip/Tuck stand out. These qualities, coupled with the infectious enthusiasm of the Glee Club members, and the myriad of guest stars already lined up to take turns in Glee including Kristin Chenoweth, Victor Garber, Eve, and Josh Groban, all point to Glee being an exciting, intelligent, entertaining, and delightful edition to Channel Ten’s line-up. The first season of Glee debuts in the U.S on September 16th, and will air here in Australia shortly after. Don’t miss Sunday night’s preview episode, 9:30pm on Channel Ten.

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For the love of Big Love

TVGuide.com, courtesy Lacey Terrell/HBO

TVGuide.com, courtesy Lacey Terrell/HBO

The third season of HBO’s acclaimed Big Love drew to a close recently, a season that easily contained some of the hour drama’s best work. From its beginning, Big Love has masterfully represented an uneasy duality in its polarised representations of polygamy; juxtaposing the disturbing eeriness of the Juniper Creek compound alongside the best intentions of the Henrickson’s, trying to live their Mormon faith in the suburbs. Increasingly, these worlds are encroaching on each other, and the line between fundamentalist and mere follower becomes progressively blurred as good people do bad things.

Big Love takes the backdrop of Mormonism or adherence to the faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), and explores the intricacies and conflicts that arise in the Henrickson family from trying to practice their faith through a long abandoned (and illegal) former principle of LDS: polygamous marriage. Bill (Bill Paxton) and Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorne) have two other wives or sister-wives, Nicki (Chloë Sevigny) and Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin), and a whole tribe of children living in three houses side by side in the suburbs of Salt Lake City. Big Love deals with issues not only of faith, but of love, family, and of morality through the lives of the Henrickson’s and their extended families, allowing a true insight in to the workings of Mormonism, LDS, the outlawed practice of Polygamy, and indeed, of human interaction itself.

The importance of casting in television can be the difference between a good show and a great show; if you’re looking for an example of exquisite casting, Big Love is like a master-class. Performances are consistently exceptional, even from supporting players, and the leads are continually inspiring. Bill Paxton, whom I normally have no love for, seems perfectly placed as the patriarchal glue of the Henrickson clan, providing for, guiding their faith and ensuring their smooth passing in to the Celestial Kingdom.

During season three, we witness the trial of Roman Grant (Harry Dean Stanton) for the atrocities he propagated during his rein as prophet of Juniper Creek, most notably the rape of young girls whom he ‘sealed’ (married) to older men. During the trial, Nicki is torn between the love and sense of belonging she feels for her new family, and the sense of duty and obligation she feels for her father, Roman, whom she still believes to be the true prophet. Using a fake name she takes a job in the district attorney’s office, and from the inside she knowingly betrays her new family, delivering information to her mother and father on the developments of the prosecution and on the witnesses that would be called. During Nicki’s time at the DA’s office, she begins to realise the depth of devastation her father caused so many young women. Whilst looking through the Joy Books—pages of photographs of young women including stats on their height, weight and other physical features, which would be used by the men of the compound to select their next wife—Nicki comes face to face with her young self. At the trial her disdain becomes evident, and she shows it by pushing her father down a flight of stairs. She doesn’t, however, reveal her true identity and testify against her father; instead allowing him to walk free. In the final episodes of the season we learn that Nicki was sealed to an older man at age 13, and gave birth to the man’s child at age 15. In the season finale, this child, Cara Lynn (Cassi Thomson), comes to live with the Henricksons. Chloë Sevigny shows unparalleled depth and range through this arc of inner turmoil and divided alliances.

Episode 6, ‘Come, Ye Saints’, is the most inspired episode of the season. The entire clan takes a road trip across country to historical sites in LDS history, culminating in attendance of the Hill Cumorah Pageant depicting the birth and history of Mormonism. During the road trip, several important story points are revealed and dealt with; namely, Nicki’s use of birth control pills, Bill’s use of Viagra, Ben’s (Douglas Smith) crush on Margene, and most importantly, Sarah’s (Amanda Seyfried) pregnancy. Sarah’s character development has always been important to the show; her perpetual struggle with her parent’s decision to begin a polygamous life—which began only when Barb was battling with cancer and feared she would die and leave her children without a mother—serves almost as a refuge for audience members who may at times struggle with the unfamiliar and controversial religion they are asked to immerse themselves in. Sarah has actively betrayed her parents faith, a faith she is not sure she supports or believes. During season two, she began attending support group meetings for ex-Mormons, where she met Scott, the future father of her child. Sarah hides her pregnancy from her parents (and Scott), and struggles with the decision of whether to abort, adopt, or keep her child. Although she may not support her parents’ interpretation of Mormonism, she has still been raised with the teachings of LDS and is certain abortion is not an option falling within her own moral compass. But the thought of giving away her child is also unbearable. She decides to keep her baby, yet during the ill-fated road trip, she suffers a miscarriage, and it is Nicki who consoles and supports her. Nicki convinces her that she needs to tell her family, and of course, although disappointed in her actions and betrayal of her faith, they nurture Sarah in her loss. Amanda Seyfried as Sarah shows great maturity and strength; her expression of grief and sorrow is profound.

Bill also suffers a crisis of faith during the road trip, expressed through several instances along the way. During a disagreement with an LDS member in Carthage Jail (the site of the death of LDS founder Joseph Smith), Bill fails to defend the practice of polygamy, a notion he clearly believes in. Later, he similarly fails to defend the beliefs of his religion when confronted by a Baptist Minister who questions the validity of the teachings of LDS, and finally, on his knees at Hill Cumorah, he pleads with the Lord for guidance. He feels ‘lost’ and ‘foresaken’ by the Lord, and has ‘never been so worried for his family’ in this time during the trial, the uncertainty of his Casino business venture, and in light of Nicki’s use of birth control, an action representative of ultimate defiance of their faith’s beliefs.

Season three also saw the excommunication of Barb from the LDS church when she is outed as a polygamist, the devastating death of Kathy (Mireille Enos) at the hands of Roman, and the equally shattering actions of Joey (Shawn Doyle), who ensured that Roman got what he deserved. Big Love’s third season, through its impeccable writing and execution, served as a remarkable representation of what truly great television can be; thought provoking, challenging, daring, heart breaking, enlightening and inspiring, all in one season. It may be a drama about religion, but at its heart it is really a drama about family, and the sacrifices we make to ensure our family’s happiness. Big Love season three is available for pre-order from Amazon.com.

Practice Isn’t Perfect…..But It’s Doing OK.

TVGuide.com, courtesy Justin Stephens/ABC  

TVGuide.com, courtesy Justin Stephens/ABC

 

Grey’s Anatomy’s maligned little sibling Private Practice has been troubled since day one. Practice was originally introduced to audiences in a 2 episode cross-over within the world of Grey’s. Addison (Kate Walsh), disillusioned with her life in Seattle, visits some old friends in Los Angeles and whilst there, is offered a job at their practice, a holistic family wellness centre. Now, just the mere mention of the term ‘wellness centre’ was enough to send critics sniggering to their keyboards, and admittedly, it does sound pretty new-aged-wanky. Then, after a complete lack of chemistry between Addison and her supposed best friend Naomi Bennett, the role of Naomi was re-cast with the superb Broadway veteran Audra McDonald replacing the talented and likable Merrin Dungey of Alias fame. Personally, I think the blame for this lack of chemistry can’t fall solely to the actors, but also lays somewhat with the writers, who managed to craft a truly woeful set-up, complete with a talking elevator, and a storyline that saw Naomi wary and unconvinced of Addison’s actions and desires. Furthermore, this set-up saw the two best buddies on frosty terms with Addison unaware that Naomi and her husband Sam (Taye Diggs) were now divorced, Addison having ignored her calls and messages for over a year whilst too caught up in her own self pity. These circumstances were certainly not conducive to chummy best friend antics. Moreover, Practice was also hurt by the writers strike, being a first season show having to break for the strike after only nine episodes left the show vulnerable to losing its still building audience, much like other strike casualty Pushing Daisies.

Much has also been made of the cast of Private Practice, with some big names taking up residence in the wellness centre. As mentioned, Audra McDonald is a sensational Broadway actress, having won 4 Tony awards; whilst she has done television before, Practice represents her first substantial regular television role. Television favourite Amy Brenneman also stars as the resident emotionally rattled psychologist, along with television veteran Tim Daly (brother of Tyne Daly, Brenneman’s mother in Judging Amy), the alternative medicine practitioner. Then of course there’s Paul Adelstein, who I personally didn’t know much of before seeing him first on Prison Break as the creepy guy chasing down Sarah and Michael, but apparently he was a cast member on Rob Thomas’ former brainchild (and soon to be re-booted) Cupid. Here, he plays sensitive man-whore paediatrician Cooper, best friend to Brenneman’s Violet. Other notables include the already mentioned Taye Diggs, who it seems can now finally live down his completely unfortunate and unfair ‘show-killer’ status; fellow former Rob Thomas employee Chris Lowell, from the brilliant-but-cancelled Veronica Mars, and of course Kate Walsh herself.

Although critics continue to not take this show seriously, and it is easy to do with some of the kooky plot-lines, I believe the remarkable cast is what makes this show consistently watchable. In the hands of lesser actors, it would have already been relegated to a ghost of series-television’s past. A few weeks ago in the US, Private Practice enjoyed a crossover experience with its sibling Grey’s Anatomy, a medical emergency with Addison’s brother (Grant Show) requiring the expertise of the best neurologist around, whom is of course, Addison’s ex-husband; awkward. This little promotional stunt only highlighted for me the strength of Practice and cemented in my mind that Grey’s is officially struggling. The little school-yard squabbles and childish antics can only take a show so far, and for Grey’s I think their number is nearly up. Private Practice and Grey’s Anatomy are currently airing here in Australia on Channel Seven, back-to-back Thursday nights from 8:30pm.

Will Dollhouse Deliver?

TVGuide.com, courtesy Kurt Iswarienko/Fox

TVGuide.com, courtesy Kurt Iswarienko/Fox

 

Friday night U.S time marks the premiere of one of the most highly anticipated and hyped shows in television history, Joss Whedon’s new Sci-Fi series, Dollhouse. The one-hour drama series from the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel marks the auteur’s return to television, after the short-lived run of his previous Sci-Fi series, Firefly. Starring Eliza Dushku as Echo, an ‘active’ living and working within a secret organization wherein, ‘actives’ can be hired and their personalities implanted with a series of characteristics necessary for their current mission. After their role is complete, these characteristics are removed from consciousness, leaving the active in a state of blissful ignorance, of almost childlike unknowing.

The series’ development so far has been marred by very public re-writes, re-shoots, work stoppages, a killer timeslot (and I don’t mean that in the post-modern ironic sense), and questions about the lead thespian’s capabilities. All of which the mainstream entertainment media have taken as a sign of disunity, maybe speaking towards a larger problem between Whedon and the Fox network. Whedon himself however, has assured fans that the situation with Dollhouse is very different to the struggles of Firefly, and asserted that these teething problems were all at his request, in the greater interest of creating a more captivating and compelling pilot and a unifying start to the season. See Ausiello’s interview here, and Eliza Dushku’s response to the situation here.

All this attention ensures that Dollhouse will have a healthy pilot ratings share, despite its Friday night timeslot, however the scrutiny will also mean that the show has a tough mountain to climb to live up to the hype. In this regard, perhaps Friday night is not a bad slot to begin in, enormous ratings will not be expected by the network and within the context of new media formats, the show will still be found by its faithful prospective audience through DVR and TiVo playback, and online viewing. With less pressure placed on ratings, the show may be allowed time to build a larger audience before being shelved prematurely due to under performing, which is more likely to occur on a Monday or a Thursday night when the networks pay their bills. Fox’s move to program the most hyped show of the millennium on a Friday may seem like a death sentence, but ultimately, it could end up working in Whedon’s favour; especially considering that early reviews of the pilot (the re-shot, second pilot) are not fantastic, which points to the show needing time to establish itself.

I for one am looking forward to seeing what the show has to offer, and I certainly hope that, given time, Dollhouse can live up to its predecessors. I am also interested to see what in fact Dichen Lachman can bring to the table, as whatever it may be eluded me during her days on Neighbours. Whedon, however, is somewhat known for discovering talent in unknowns, and I hope that Lachman is the same, for the show’s sake as much as for her own.

One aspect of early reviews that disappoints and concerns me is the observation that Dollhouse lacks the comedic wit that Whedon is famous for. The humour in Whedon’s previous works is a huge part of their charm, and to see it not utilized would be a great shame, and may in fact serve as Dollhouse‘s undoing. I hope, that humour will begin to be woven in to the text as the show progresses, but I can’t help but consider that lack of humour is a conscious decision made by Whedon to heighten the isolation and desperation of the actives’ circumstance within the dollhouse. I guess only time will tell.

Here in Australia, we will be unable to watch Dollhouse on free-to-air TV, as Channel Ten, who originally bought the rights to the show, has now sold them to FOXTEL’s Fox8. This is frustrating, especially since Dollhouse would have been a pretty good fit with Channel Ten. However, perhaps Whedon fans can take comfort in knowing that at least Dollhouse will air in Australia, which is more than could be said for Firefly. Furthermore, I still hold out hope that Hulu could pull off its international deal soon, allowing us to watch online for free. Otherwise, there’ll be a long wait ahead for A DVD release. Dollhouse premieres in the U.S on Friday the 13th of February at 9pm. Fox8 has not yet set an Australian air date.

Deftly Dissecting Dexter

TVGuide.com, courtesy Christian Weber, Showtime

TVGuide.com, courtesy Christian Weber/Showtime

When Channel Ten started to air season one of U.S Showtime’s acclaimed hit Dexter, I was both excited at Ten’s bold move, and intrigued by the show itself. Everything I had read claimed that although the protagonist is in fact a serial killer, this alone should not put one off giving this little series a try. I wasn’t convinced that it would be for me. Although I am partial to horror movies, the presentation of Dexter as a normal person, living a somewhat normal life with his girlfriend, her children and his stable, respectable job, made the whole idea a little eerie and unsettling. But, knowing the calibre of Showtime’s programming, and the talent of Michael C. Hall from his days on Six Feet Under, I wanted to give it a go. So I watched. I’ll admit, the first episode was strange and somewhat challenging to watch; it was creepy, daring, violent, and messed with many of the moral-absolutes that one might believe should guide humanity. However, by the end of the episode I was hooked, thanks in no small part to the astoundingly measured performance by Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan himself. Hall manages to imbue Dexter with polarized personalities, the one he shows the world within the text, and the deeply private and personal one that is only seen by his victims, and by the audience. On the outside he is the responsible, lovable and dedicated forensic blood-spatter analyst. Yet underneath this persona he shows the world is something else, a darkness, a bubbling rage just beneath the surface that he knows could blow at any time. It is this understanding of what he is, of what is inside him that has led Dexter to become a serial killer. He knows he needs to kill, and has channelled that need into killing those that slip through the normal parameters of the justice system, usually through legal loopholes. Dexter kills murderers, people that have killed, gotten away with it, and shown no remorse. This is of course, the great irony of the show and the audience is forced to face the realisation that no matter how noble he is, no matter how much we may grow to love him, Dexter may be no different than his victims.

After unravelling the mysteries of The Ice-Truck Killer in season one, I was compelled to jump right in to season two with the DVDs already released in Australia (season two will air on channel ten later this year; Caution, spoilers ahead!) Season two again raises more moral questions when Dexter’s clandestine activities are in danger of being discovered after his underwater graveyard is found. His victims come back to haunt him, and his greatest fear comes to light: execution by electric chair. We learn more about the relationship between Dexter and his adoptive father Harry (James Remar), and how influential Harry was in moulding Dexter into the person he is today, including teaching him the code he kills by. Dexter begins to deal with some of the emotions associated with having killed his brother (The Ice-Truck Killer), and starts to deal more and more with the emotional weight of his “dark self” when Rita (Julie Benz) surmises that he must have a drug addiction after discovering he assaulted Paul (her ex-husband), coupled with the strange hours he keeps. Dexter confirms to her that he does have “an addiction” and she vows to stand by him as long as he submits to a 12-step program. It is here during a Narcotics Anonymous meeting that he meets Lila (Jaime Murray). A former junkie, Lila convinces Dexter that she knows more about him than anyone could, she knows the darkness and she understands the daily struggle to keep it at bay. She draws Dexter into her web of dependence until he begins to think she may be a better match for him than Rita. Although their addictions are clearly very different, she may be able to begin to understand the pull of the darkness inside him. However, Lila is a destructive and dangerous force in Dexter’s life, doing anything she can to try and keep Dexter as her own, including framing Detective Batista (David Zayas) for rape, and placing the lives of Rita’s children in jeopardy.

Meanwhile Sergeant Doakes (Eric King) is convinced that there is more to Dexter than what he shows the world, especially after the way Dexter managed to save his sister Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) from The Ice-Truck Killer. Doakes has taken to trailing Dexter at night, eventually discovering his secret in the final episodes, that he is the Bay Harbour Butcher (the moniker adopted by the media for the elusive killer of Dexter’s found victims). While Dexter holds Doakes hostage in a cabin in remote swampland, the investigation into the Bay Harbour Butcher breaks, with a lead pointing Debra and Batista to an unknown member within their own Miami Metro department. Dexter decides that this is his only chance to get rid of Doakes, the man he fears will bring him down, and protect his identity at the same time. He frames Doakes, drugging him and placing his fingerprints on a set of butchers knives, the very ones Dexter has used for so long, and throwing them into the ocean at the end of a pier, a pier he knows is used for dive training every week. When Doakes’ car is found at an airstrip with blood slides of all the Bay Harbour Butcher’s victims inside – the prized trophies Doakes had stolen from Dexter’s apartment – along with the found knives, the case closes in on Doakes, although he can’t be found.

During Dexter’s imprisonment of Doakes, we begin to see a new vulnerability within our stoic protagonist. Dexter seriously contemplates the idea of turning himself in to authorities, of accepting his fate and facing the punishment for his crimes. We see him struggle with his emotions, with the same emotions that the audience may be feeling. Is what he is doing – killing murderers – in some way just and therefore morally acceptable? Or is he simply the brutal killer he is portrayed as in the press?This polarized sense of self is only heightened by the debates taking place between the Miami Metro staff, and the everyday people of Miami on the very subject, when it is discovered that every single victim was a criminal who slipped through the system. As Dexter contemplates the inevitability that there is less and less time before he is found out, he begins to have his affairs put in order, making Debra sign his Will and spending some last quality time with Rita and the kids.

No matter how deranged and destructive a force Lila may have been, upon discovering his true secret, she did prove to Dexter that he is capable of receiving love; that someone could still love him knowing what he does. She is also ultimately, the person that sets Dexter free from his exceedingly confined situation. Lila’s obsession leads her to steal Dexter’s GPS device from his car; following the last route taken, she discovers Doakes, and exactly who Dexter really is. Taking things into her own hands, Lila, with a history of arson and with a deep desire to protect Dexter’s big secret, sets the cabin on fire killing Doakes and eliminating any chance he may have to expose Dexter and clear his own name. In a last ditch effort to win Dexter’s heart, she then kidnaps Rita’s children and almost commits them, and Dexter himself, to the same fate as Doakes. Now convinced of her volatile, unpredictable nature, Dexter is certain she can’t be trusted, and pays Lila back for his freedom, and for her endangerment of Rita’s children, by sending her to a watery grave.

Dexter leaves season two by declaring he is done contemplating the question of whether he is good or evil. He doesn’t have the answers, and questions whether anyone does. I myself would posit the same question. This certainly isn’t a show for everyone; some will not be able to see past the violence, and among those that can, some will struggle to entertain the concept itself. However Dexter serves as a fascinating, insightful look into the mind of a serial-killer, positing the unsettling notion that maybe one of them could be simply like you or I. Dexter works on many moral levels, and it can’t be ignored that at its heart lies the simple understanding that, sometimes good people do bad things, a notion that is all too familiar in this world.

Dexter is available for purchase from all major retailers, or from DVD Orchard.

Channel Nine: One step forward, Two steps back

TVGuide.Com, courtesy Andrew Eccles/The CW

TVGuide.Com, courtesy Andrew Eccles/The CW

 

Hey upper-east siders, Gossip Girl here, your one and only source into the scandalous lives of Manhattan’s elite world of television in Australia.

So, this was going to be a post about how happy I was that channel Nine in Australia had started to air Gossip Girl, albeit at 10:30pm on a Wednesday during summer non-ratings period, but instead, it’s just going to be an angry rant. Channel Nine originally bought the rights to Gossip Girl back in mid-2007, but on-sold them to FOXTEL’s Fox8 because it didn’t feel the show fit its demographic. Clearly channel Nine is committed to its whole crime procedural/reality vibe, because I honestly couldn’t tell you anything else that they screen. Listen up Nine, you’re not ‘the one’ anymore, it isn’t working, move on. You need to take a chance on some original programming that doesn’t involve a blue light and evidence bags. Gossip Girl was your chance to begin to attract a younger audience. OK, let’s not kid ourselves, this show isn’t going to win any Emmys, but it’s deliciously fun, and bitingly funny, and never fails to entertain. However, it was probably never going to work out, because you wouldn’t have invested anything in promoting it (anyone remember Nine airing three episodes of The O.C before giving up on it? Probably not, because it was barely promoted; Channel Ten bought the rights from Nine, promoted the hell out of it and it became a ratings staple for the underdog.) 

Anyway, I will try and get back to the original point of this article, before I digress again at the end. Gossip Girl has been airing on pay-TV network FOXTEL, with the second season premier set to air tonight. But of course, not everyone can afford, or even wants FOXTEL. Channel Nine, after the show’s now proven success, has picked up the second-run rights (or perhaps these were part of the original sale agreement) to air the first season. Although all the cool kids have already seen it, this is a step forward for free-to-air television and the Australian television industry. Pay-TV has not been the success story here in Australia that it is the U.S. People are not willing to part with their hard earned money for a boatload of garden design and cooking shows speckled with biographies of washed up stars. However, increasingly, FOXTEL is gaining the rights to more and more first run original programming from the U.S, and is producing more quality Australian shows such as Love My Way. This is making it harder for the average Australian to get access to these original and quality shows. The fact that Nine has finally decided to screen Gossip Girl, despite its ridiculous time-slot, means that more people can have access to this exceedingly addictive show. It is a trend that has been occurring increasingly, most notably with Channel Ten’s brilliant pick up of Showtime’s Dexter, which brought quality, original programming to Ten’s Sunday night line-up. Season 2 of Dexter will screen on Channel Ten early 2009, while Showtime will be screening season 3 on its Showcase channel at the same time. I hope Ten continues to acquire such quality programming – even if it is second-run, still, the majority of the country has not seen it – and I can only hope that Nine and Seven follow suit.

Now, on to the continuation of my rant. In my post about Pushing Daisies a few weeks ago, I mentioned that channel Nine would most likely air the brilliant but cancelled series over summer beginning in December, well, while doing some research for this post, I have discovered that this is no longer the case. Channel Nine has sold the rights to its swag of Warner Bros. shows which includes Pushing Daisies, as well as the successful and delightfully funny NBC spy comedy Chuck (incidentally also from Josh Schwartz, the creator of Gossip Girl and The O.C), and the action thrill ride and highly-acclaimed Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. FOXTEL really is becoming a force in the quality TV stakes, and if Nine keeps selling its original content to them, it’s only going to get harder for people to access quality television programs in this country. In this regard, Nine really has taken one step forward, and two steps back in terms of providing Australian’s access to great, entertaining, and well written television programming. I really hope they see the error of their ways, stat, and stop bulking up their schedule with more crime and legal shows. 

Much Loved but Seldom Seen: ABC passes on ratings challenged trio

TVGuide.com, courtesy Andrew MacPherson/ABC

TVGuide.com, courtesy Andrew MacPherson/ABC

 

Sadly, my prediction about the fate of Pushing Daisies in my recent post was apparently prophetic. Whilst checking out The Ausiello Files on Friday I read the sad news that ABC has cancelled not only Pushing Daisies, but also other cult favourites Eli Stone and Dirty Sexy Money. ‘Quality television’, as Ausiello puts it, has suffered a serious blow. Although I hadn’t been keeping up with Eli Stone, from all I have heard it was a delightful and original concept, garnering much critical attention and attracting big name guest stars such as Katie Holmes, who performed a musical dream sequence in the second episode of season two. Created by Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim (of Brothers & Sisters fame) and with the entire first season written by the pair, it was certainly a show on my list for future viewing, perhaps over summer. Dirty Sexy Money (also executive produced by Berlanti) was a guilty pleasure of mine, but I am not really surprised it has not been renewed. Despite its stellar cast, I just haven’t felt the ‘appointment television’ vibe from it this season, and I feel it is another show that’s momentum was damaged by the WGA strike. I will however, miss the oh-so-wrong sexual chemistry between Darling twin Jeremy (Seth Gable) and the older woman, wife of Jeremy’s lawyer, Lisa George (Zoe McLellan).

The only light at the end of this story is that apparently all three shows will finish production on their ordered episodes, but as Ausiello points out, them being finished and them actually airing are two different things. Let’s hope ABC grants us this small virtue and lets the final episodes of these three terrific shows go to air. If, however, this is too much to ask, we thankfully live in an age of DVD box sets!