New US drama on the horizon

Man, there’s not much I like more than pilot season. A whole slew of new US television shows; some incredibly promising, many more terrible beyond words. I always enjoy reading the press releases from the various networks outlining their upcoming schedule, not least because some of the new show overviews are some of the most hilarious things you’re likely to read. I can’t help but feel that the executives at Fox, NBC et al will commission pretty much anything. Like this:

Jim Snatch has it all: a trophy wife, two adorable kids and an enviable job as VP of Ring Binding at Sacromento’s biggest lamp manufacturer. But one fateful day his world comes crumbling down around him. A routine operation to remove an ingrown toenail takes a turn for the bizarre as a mysterious figure forces the surgeon to instead insert a second shin into each of Jim’s legs at gunpoint. Now standing at over eight feet tall and unable to stand comfortably at work, Jim is fired for low productivity and when he gets home he finds there’s no shoulder to cry on; a note on the dining room table reveals that his wife has left him to be with a man with traditionally-proportioned limbs. This double blow leaves Jim to juggle the tasks of looking for new employment, taking care of his children and unraveling the consipracy behind his bodged operation — all while coming to terms with his massive legs. Every week we follow Jim as he interviews for a job where his new-found height may prove to be an advantage but his dedication to his kids ultimately gets in the way of being able to do the job properly:

Pilot episode – Basketball player
Episode 2 – Apple picker
Episode 3 – Taxi driver

Animated mid-season spin-off show “JIM’S LIMBS” will flesh out Jim Snatch’s backstory with vital clues to the identity of the shadowy cabal behind his leg lengthening ordeal.

Ah, what the hell. I’ll watch the pilot.


Save Our Bluths

While we’re on the subject of excellent TV, the long-term future of Arrested Development is even less clear following the news that Fox will be airing the final four episodes of the cut-down third season after all. They’ll be going out in a two-hour finale on February 10, which means they’ll be competing with the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Way to go Fox. Previous rumours had indicated that the show would be cancelled by Fox and swiftly picked up by either Showtime or ABC. Either could still happen, of course, but it’s unclear quite what Fox are playing at. Still, at least we’ll get to see the episodes. Here’s hoping there’s a future for the Bluths one way or another.

Why the best show on TV is dead to me

NB: This post will discuss plot strands from the seventh season of The West Wing, currently airing in the US. So, if you’re a fan of the show but haven’t seen the episodes not yet aired in the UK, please don’t read any further.

The West Wing, eh? Effortlessly the finest TV show of the past 10 years or so. OK, so the last couple of seasons have been a but up and down in the quality stakes, but the Aaron Sorkin years produced some of the finest moments trendthrift has ever been lucky enough to sit through. Many people I’ve recommended the show to in the past have been reluctant to give it a go because: a) It doesn’t feature any spooky desert islands; b) There’s very little in the way of dog/shotgun interaction (which, of course, is a fair point); and c) It’s all about politics. And politics is boooooooooooring.

Except, of course, The West Wing had much more going for it than a simple ‘White House staffers do dull work’ premise. It had the finest TV writer of our times, for a start. And as starts go, that’s not a bad one. Add a large, genuinely stunning cast, and you’re well on the way to something special. These guys nailed the dramatic storylines with aplomb, but the show, at that time, was also the funniest thing on TV. Heavy-hitting scenes were expertly interspersed with beautifully delivered comic relief. Again, it was all a testament to the genius of the show’s main writer.

Four seasons in, Sorkin left the show, along with long-time collaborator Thomas Schlamme. While it’s never been the same since, The West Wing has still managed to continue to be an enjoyable show with some memorable episodes — mainly thanks to the continued brilliance of the cast, even when working with inferior scripts. Now, though, I’ve had enough. And this is why:

Rocker Jon Bon Jovi is set to appear in the US television series The West Wing as a Democratic Party supporter.

Bon Jovi will reportedly play himself in the hit show and come out to show his support for Matt Santos, played by Jimmy Smits, a Democratic presidential candidate. He will go on to sing one of his new tunes – Welcome to Wherever You Are – in the episode airing in the US on March 26.

Jesus. The straw that broke the camel’s back, if you will. Jon Bon Jovi plugging his new single? On The West Wing? Well, suck me off sideways if that’s not a step too far.

This comes after the best character in the show, Toby Ziegler, was written out of proceedings in an insulting, unconvincing way. Fans of the show will also have heard by now that John Spencer, who played the White House Chief of Staff, died of a heart attack in December. He’ll be sadly missed by all, and The West Wing will miss the warmth and gravitas he brought to the role of Leo McGarry. That’s two of the most important characters gone in the space of a few weeks. And when the top notch cast are the only thing holding the show together in the absence of Sorkin’s sparkling dialogue, this is where is starts to fall apart.

Hell, even if those guys were still around: Jon Bon Jovi, ‘going on to sing one of his new tunes’? No thanks.

It it ain’t broke, don’t blog it

Get your beady arses over to BrokenTV, sharpish. I stumbled across this a while back and promptly forgot to bookmark it. Luckily for me (and you, fair reader), I’ve found it again. Site author Mark X has a way with words that makes trendthrift come over all giddy. In a good way. Not only that, but his opinions are 100% correct, 98.7% of the time. It’s been proven.

Truly a great read.

Sport coverage: the future’s not Bright

How on earth is Mark Bright holding down a regular gig at the BBC? He’s been working for the sport team for a long time now, and after a less-than-impressive start it seems he’s just not going to get any better. For those of you that aren’t au fait with early to mid-90s English football, Bright was a well-respected top-flight striker. Nowadays he can be seen on TV as BBC London‘s main sport presenter, seemingly off the back of that reputation in lieu of any actual journalistic ability. He obviously knows his football, but you’d have been forgiven for thinking otherwise during yesterday’s dreary third round FA Cup tie between Hull and Aston Villa. Now, admittedly, if I was unfortunate enough to engage in conversation with Jonathan Pearce then I might try and talk over him at every opportunity, but not if I was broadcasting live to the nation in the capacity of co-commentator. ‘Brighty’, however, thinks nothing of it. All through the match. He doesn’t even bring his insider knowledge to the forefront, which is exactly what the co-commentator, typcially an ex-pro, is there to do. A case in point:

Pearce: He’s played all over the pitch in different games this season Mark, but is that his best position — centre-half?

Bright: Hmmm. He’s versatile.

 Just answer the question. It’s what you’re there for.

As for his regular slot as main sport reporter on the local BBC London news, it’s really quite embarrassing at times. It’s painfully clear that Bright doesn’t generally possess the knowledge of other sports that he obviously has of football, and to this end he tends to ask the kind of question that any sport fan tuning in especially for the coverage will cringe at. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against the guy; indeed, he comes across as a genuinely likeable man. I just can’t help but feel that he’s there on his ex-pro status alone, likely keeping a fully-trained journalist out of an important job.

There is room for ex-professionals in the UK’s sport coverage, there’s no doubt about that. Gary Lineker has shown that those that know the game inside out, having done it all at both domestic and international level, can take that knowledge and turn it into a successful broadcast career. He too looked ropey when he first started presenting Match of the Day, but he quickly knuckled down and worked at it. He’s now a complete natural. Unfortunately, I fear Mr. Bright will never earn that particular tag.