Friday, May 31, 2013

We Have Thoughts: On The 'Smash' Second Season & Series Finale...

I had really high hopes for Smash, and I'm talking even after seeing the full first season. I genuinely enjoyed the entire first season, flaws and all. I went into the second season really hopeful about the changes they were making and looking forward to seeing the show turn itself around to the point where the masses would once again praise it, as they did the pilot. Sadly, that did not happen.

I've written about my most personal major issue with Smash season two, but when NBC decided not to renew the show, thereby making its second season finale an episode that had to act as a series finale, I realized I had much more to say. Thankfully, Marisa Roffman did, too, so we took to a very special edition of "We Have Thoughts" in order to do so.

We talked about everything from the most meta moments, especially the closing number, "Big Finish," to the RENT comparisons, guest stars like Jennifer Hudson, journey for Ivy, and the last minute return of Michael Swift-- come on, you knew I'd sneak that in somewhere, right!? Since we went on for awhile, we split the discussion into self-contained chunks so you can check out which ones interest you most and almost in any order.

Intro to Smash review, "Big Finish" discussion:

Characters' endings:

RENT comparison:

Subplots, Jennifer Hudson, "hope-watching," and Will Chase:

Pilot and wrap-up:

And in case you're wondering, the extended RENT rant I reference in the vodcast can be found here. My musings on the "Hit List" plot as told solely through the songs can be found here

Thursday, May 30, 2013

From LA Examiner: Blair Redford Back on 'Switched at Birth' Photos; NBC Renews 'Hannibal'...

The Lying Game may not be slated to air this summer on ABC Family, but Blair Redford fans will get a special dose of him on Switched at Birth, the show that introduced him to that audience. The guy who grew up with Daphne (Katie Leclerc) but caught Bay's (Vanessa Marano) eye shipped out to war in the storyline so the actor could taking a more leading role in the other ABC Family drama. Enough time has passed, though, that the character has already completed his first tour, and that means he heads home, at least for a little while, in the second season summer premiere episode "Mother and Child Divided"... [MORE]

The NBC upfronts came and went with a lot of hungry Hannibal worried that the lack of mention for their favorite serial killer drama meant the show would end up being a one-season wonder. But today NBC finally announced that they are actually renewing the series for a second season... [MORE]

Monday, May 27, 2013

From LA Examiner: 'Arrested Development' Story Scoop; 'The Killing' & 'The Fosters' Advance Reviews; Holland Roden Talks 'Teen Wolf'...

We already brought you some scoop on what to expect from the format of the new episodes of Arrested Development airing exclusively on Netflix, but what about the story and the characters? After so much time away, the Bluth family may be older, but they’re not necessarily wiser. Michael (Jason Bateman) was always the glue that begrudgingly held the family together, but when we return to him, it is a bit of a case of how the mighty have fallen—maybe was never quite that mighty to begin with. Time away has given us new perspective, and suddenly, he no longer seems all that together—even by comparison. Still, though, it is important to note that although in new situations based on the last seven years of their lives, these characters are still in the suspended state of mental immaturity the title of the show implies... [MORE]

"Summer 2013 TV Preview: AMC's The Killing season three"

The structure of dramatic scripted storytelling is changing. Sure, there are still your typical formulaic procedurals in existence, but increasingly, networks are willing to take chances on more psychologically complex and cinematically stunning stories, no longer willingly confining them to a traditional episode order, either. FX has delivered a successful anthology series franchise in American Horror Story; the miniseries has been a revitalized format all across cable; and this pilot season has seen a number of new series orders for intentional limited (6, 13, 15 episode orders) from major networks. And then there’s AMC’s The Killing, a series that concluded a long arc story at the end of its second season and is starting with a clean slate for season three. You can’t quite put it in any of the above boxes, and yet, you’ll find that you don’t want to. The relentless rain within the series has washed away the audience’s need to label or define; two seasons of slow pacing and painstaking police work has laid the path for what the process will be this time around. The case may be flashier, but the characters hit much closer to home, making the third season premiere the most gripping and tense piece of television you will see this summer... [MORE

"Summer 2013 TV Preview: ABC Family's The Fosters"

ABC Family is truly taking their tagline of “a new kind of family” to heart with its newest hour-long drama, The Fosters. Following a young girl named Callie (Maia Mitchell) released from juvie into the care of foster parents Lena (Sherri Shaum) and Stef (Teri Polo), The Fosters dares to go where no scripted programming has gone before: into the world of foster care and blended families. The subject matter is special enough, but Bradley Bredeweg and Peter Paige, the show’s creators, were careful to build the family with equally unique character to tell original individual stories unlike anything we have seen on television before, too, all while staying true to life. The Fosters is truly forward-thinking television without being preachy or relying on teachable moment text... [MORE]

Lydia (Holland Roden) has been through the wringer on MTV’s Teen Wolf. Spending the earliest part of her high school life in a tumultuous relationship at best before realizing her own personal connection to some supernatural occurrences may just prove to be the tip of the iceberg. When season three starts, Lydia’s first, and perhaps true, love has left, and she is compensating by going just a bit boy-crazy. To Roden, though, that’s not a sign of Lydia moving on too quickly or not proving she’s as shallow as she perhaps once first appeared, but instead grieving and not knowing how to do so in a healthy way... [MORE]

What DanielleTBD Will Be Watching: Fall 2013...

Is it too early to set my own personal television schedule for Fall 2013? I mean, if television networks can do it this far out, having only seen the pilot episodes they ordered into production as finished products (and sometimes not even that much!), I, too, should be able to make snap judgements based on the success of those pilots and how they match up with my personal taste.

Of course, I feel I must point out I reserve the right to change my mind about what I'll stick with, should any show drastically change tones or directions or simply crumble under the weight of churning out high stakes and sharp writing week after week. And the same goes for when more shows return in late fall and then mid-season. But for now, here are my plans. Oh, how things have changed in such a short amount of time!

  • Sundays
8 p.m. - Once Upon A Time (ABC)
              The Amazing Race (CBS)
9 p.m. - Revenge (ABC)
              The Good Wife (CBS)

  • Mondays
8 p.m. - Hart of Dixie (The CW)
10 p.m. - Hostages (CBS)

  • Tuesdays
             The Originals (The CW)
             The Biggest Loser (NBC) 
              Supernatural (The CW)
9:30 p.m. - Trophy Wife (ABC)
                   The Mindy Project (NBC)
10 p.m. - Lucky 7 (ABC)
               Chicago Fire (NBC)

  • Wednesdays
8 p.m. - The Middle (ABC)
             Arrow (The CW)
9 p.m. - Modern Family (ABC)
             The Tomorrow People (The CW)
10 p.m. - Nashville (ABC)

  • Thursdays
8 p.m. - Parks and Recreation (NBC)
10 p.m. - Scandal (ABC)
               Elementary (CBS)
               Parenthood (NBC) 

  • Fridays
8 p.m. - The Carrie Diaries (The CW)
9 p.m. - Hawaii Five-0 (CBS)
10 p.m. - Dracula (NBC)

What will you be watching? And about which shows do you want to join in my discussion (i.e. weekly reviews/recaps)? Let me know in the comments below and stay tuned for my adjusted schedule once the shows have been airing for a bit and new shows premiere in "late fall" and mid-season...

Friday, May 24, 2013

Must See Summer 2013 TV: New, Returning, TV on DVD...

Summer is the perfect time to indulge in and relax with all kinds of entertainment, whether you want to beat the heat and hunker down inside with some A/C, or if you want to take your media mobile and consume it outside, under the sun at the beach or park. There is both a wide variety of brand new, potentially ground-breaking programming as well as many chances to return to old favorites, thanks to the ease of DVD or online streaming. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the sheer selection these days, allow me to make a few suggestions for where to start.


DanielleTBD's Must List for Summer 2013...

I don't know about you, but I cherish my summers. I have ever since I was a kid and found myself with full days to devote to burying my head in a book or seeing triple features at the local movie theater. These days it's a lot easier to stock up on pop culture to devour over the few short months-- whether it's catching up on multiple seasons of shows on DVD or online streaming sites, or loading up your tablet with books and new music for afternoons lying under the sun on the beach. Similarly, though, there's an abundance of media available these days, and that can make choosing and prioritizing tough. I have compiled my "Musts" of Summer 2013, but I encourage you to only use these as jumping off points. There's a lot of good stuff out there!


"Instant Mom" by Nia Vardalos - Part memoir, part helpful guide for prospective and new adoptive parents, this is one celebrity story that actually has something very real to say. There's such an obsession with the cult of celebrity and the glamorous lifestyles everyone assumes those in Hollywood have, and Vardalos certainly fits the bill as a successful writer and actor with lots of famous friends. But she is completely candid and open here, even when discussing sensitive topics like infertility or her new daughter lashing out at her. The book is short, but it is not a light read; any given page will make you laugh and cry, only sentences apart. It's an emotional ride from page one, but it an extremely refreshing and unique story that reaffirms what really matters in one's life.

"Someday, Someday, Maybe" by Lauren Graham - You'll enjoy this book about a struggling actress in New York in the 1990s whether you're reading it to try to figure out which characters are based on author/actress Graham's early industry friends or are identifying with the dreamer spirit of her protagonist, a young woman who doesn't always make the right decisions, go with her gut, or even stay true to herself as the promise of fame and fortune loom just out of reach. It's a novel, so the story is fiction, but the characters are ones we've seen countless times in this business, and therefore every word jumps off the page as if you're seeing it play out on a screen in front of you.

"The Woman Upstairs" by Claire Messud - You won't see another story as unique as this one on the market for a very long time. The protagonist is a self-proclaimed "woman upstairs," a woman doomed to be single and uninteresting, quietly unassuming, but not quite the cat lady of so many's cautionary tales. She had aspirations of being an artist, and this story explores those in a way that go from childhood interest and pure creativity to adult outlet and hobby due to lack of willingness to take many risks. But more importantly, it's a story that dives into a deep admiration that almost borders on an obsessive infatuation with a family she yearns to be a part of but is only kept on the outskirts of. The loneliness in this woman is palpable but never completely melancholy. This book taps into something so special and with such a delicate balance and caring hand that you come to understand this very unique woman without judging her, even relating to her most specific emotions and experiences.


Hollywood Game Night (NBC, starting June 23) - Happy Birthday to me! I love a good game night, and this one is all pop culture, all the time, with categories on television shows, celebrity mash-ups, and song lyrics alike. Hosted by Jane Lynch and featuring a rotating group of players as well as games, you can gather your own friends around the TV with some snacks to yell out the right answers and the appropriate the games for your own use later.  


The Heat (in theaters June 28) - Is it wrong that I just really want this to be like the cap on a Miss Congeniality trilogy? It looks like mindless comedy, and every now and then, I'm okay with that, esepcially when I like the cast, and it only requires two hours of my time. I genuinely love both Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy and am eager to see how their individual styles of comedy compliment each other. This is one "sit back and just allow yourself to be entertained" film I'd happily duck into the air conditioning to check out one hot afternoon.

The Way, Way Back (in theaters July 5) - I'm a sucker for coming-of-age stories, but when Jim Rash is the scribe, you know it's more than personal nostalgia or sentimentality that will make the project special. This one won over audiences at Sundance earlier in the year and also features a couple of the best in the business in key roles: Sam Rockwell and Toni Collette. Centering on a quiet and somewhat awkard teenager stuck on a vacation with his mother and her boyfriend, The Way, Way Back brings the kid out of his shell through an unlikely friendship with two older but barely role model material water park employees. And if you want to talk personal nostalgia, there are shades of Mud and Dennis (from Camp Nowhere) in Liam James and Rockwell's on-screen relationship, which made me smile a lot, too.

The To-Do List (in theaters July 27) - A comedic sexual romp is not really my kind of movie. But when it stars Aubrey Plaza as not-your-typical pre-college student who just wants to check off some life experiences before embarking on the next stage of her life, you know it's going to be clever. The rest of the cast (like Connie Britton, Alia Shawkat, Clark Gregg, and Scott Porter) certainly help, and the 1990s period element is always fun, too.


Falling Skies season three (starting June 9) - Since this show comes from Steven Spielberg, it's always been a little "everything will work out in the end" for me, but this year things are a whole lot darker. Tom making a deal to work alongside one alien race is ripe with trouble on its own, but add to that the fact that one of his kids is being controlled by something alien inside him while another one of his kids has lost his childhood completely and can't even see a life after this war, and the family drama is certainly amped up. There's also a new baby in the Mason household, but it is only half human baby, a hybrid alien species that no one can understand because apparently everyone forgot Tom once had an alien bug in his head, too. Whether or not this kid will be the future undoing of the human race isn't even the kicker. It turns out that one of their own is already working against them, plying the Mechs with information and actually killing those getting too close to finding out his/her identity. That kind of human-on-human crime is something I thought should have happened way earlier; how often do we see people riot and fight in the street after something as simple as an earthquake, let alone an invasion? But I'm glad it's finally happening now because it is adding all kinds of crazy rich, subtextual layers to this otherwise fantastical series.

CBS' adaptation of Under The Dome (starting June 24) - It's no secret I'm obsessed with Stephen King's works, and if you haven't already read this book, you should before tuning into the CBS series. It's over 1000 pages, so it might take you awhile to get through it, but you can even read it concurrently with the series, as enough details and characters have been changed that they live as alternative versions, and you won't have to worry about spoilers. The series was not initially designed to be merely a summer series, so we probably should not expect a resolution with the dome by the end of the season/summer, but what we are guaranteed is a very complex character drama for everyday people in extraordinary circumstances.

The final season of Dexter (Showtime, starting June 30) - The promotional photos for the eighth and final season of everyone's favorite serial killer drama more than imply this is it for Dexter Morgan as a man, in addition to a series. I'm going to cling to a shred of hope that it doesn't have to be that way; I'm sad enough the intense psychological show has to come to an end, but I want to be able to believe the character will go on and thrive without our prying eyes. Still, it proves to be a very twisty season, as Deb spirals, an old "colleague" returns, and a new authority on psychopaths enters Dexter's life, all threatening his ability to keep his secrets hidden.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

On Addiction and 'Nashville's' Character Assassination of Deacon...

Nashville already had the always-struggling, tragic addict character in Juliette's mother Jolene. Her final fall off the wagon may have been to save her daughter the trauma of yet another public scandal and therefore been her first truly selfless act, but it was still an act of giving into her disease. Deacon, on the other hand, was always a pillar of strength, a symbol of hope for anyone feeling like Jolene, that you could pull yourself out of the spiral. He was a symbol of success in a situation not many survive. He was hope, all wrapped up in a pretty package. And the events of the season finale left us with no hope at all.

It is said that things become cliches because they are so widely true, and when it comes to primetime soap opera season finales, the cliches are always pregnancies, possible deaths, and long-suffering characters unable to keep it together. While it felt absolutely real that if something was going to knock Deacon off his sobriety wagon, it was the realization that the love of his life had kept a major secret from him and kept him from being a dad for so many years. But the way events actually played out within the episode, it felt too "TV easy" that he should be triggered so quickly and so permanently. It didn't feel like his emotions drove that story but rather that the writers desperately wanted to explode the plot-- and his character-- and did so, regardless of whether it felt right in the moment or not.

Deacon has had a handle on his sobriety for thirteen years. We all know (because the show told us so) that he was a terrible drunk before, a slave and completely different person once he was under the influence. But he had weathered so many terrible things, including temptation, access, and personal strife, and still stayed clean. And though this terrible secret initially came to him from someone other than Rayna, he was strong and smart enough to go directly to her with it right after learning to find out if it was really true. Deacon was clean and sober when he confronted her in the CMA dressing room; therefore even if he was angry enough not to listen to her reason, he was still clear-headed enough to reason with himself. He wasn't under the influence yet.

All season long, it seemed like Deacon was a role model because of how he got a handle on his issues and could now pay it forward to help those like Jolene. Yes, we saw him struggle with the decision to take the first drink-- briefly-- so it wasn't like he was defrauding us all along. But it just felt too brief; he just seemed too willing to throw it all away. It came out of nowhere. That's unequivocally true of most triggers for most addicts-- it lends itself to just how human and therefore susceptible he really is-- but it left me feeling like the show was betraying the specific character they had created.

I was personally hoping Nashville would keep Deacon clean and pure, I can't deny that. I was hoping, for once, there'd be a positive example of someone who had truly survived addiction on-screen. It may not provide the most salacious drama, but Nashville has a dozen other characters for that. I don't think the drama suffers if you have one character who can struggle but ultimately choose to stay positive, even when everyone else around him is falling. They had something really rare with the Deacon they created, even though they often chose to focus on his external love life than his internal struggle. And honestly, if his internal struggle was still great all these years later, then we should have been let in on it; we should have been allowed to get in his head and understand him; the emotional impact of what happened would have been that much greater. Instead, it just felt like a typical season finale attempt to blow up characters and situations and leave us with a cliffhanger. It didn't feel completely earned.

My response to it might have been different if Deacon and Rayna were in a different place in their relationship when he learned this fact, but they were finally together again, and he was happy. Or so we were supposed to believe. Maybe the real lesson here is a guy like Deacon can never really be happy; that addicts will self-sabotage at any chance they get. But I don't want to believe that because it's an extremely pessimistic way to go through life, not to mention the fact that the show never set that up. Deacon, as we got to know him over the course of the full first season, was flawed, and he would always have his demons, but he had found a way to control them, and he was a positive example for anyone (including Jolene and the audience) who had struggled. 
It is also said that addicts are extremely good liars. They are often able to charm or otherwise con people into thinking they're okay when really they're just functioning alcoholics. We saw a glimpse of this in Deacon when he woke up to find Coleman still looking after him; he told him what he knew Coleman needed to hear to get him off his back, but he said it in a way that even a guy who had been where he was now would believe it. Does it add a richness to Charles Esten's performance to see these new sides and layers to Deacon? Absolutely, but I feel it's at the expense of the strength of Deacon's character, and that just makes me, personally, exponentially sad. We always knew he was an addict, but we had no reason to believe he was weak. 

I wanted to end this post with the words of Tyra Banks, but I realize now that it's not truly appropriate to do so. We weren't rooting for Deacon in the sense that is implied by her aggressive and insanely GIF-able America's Next Top Model outburst because we had been led to believe he was okay. He had come through the other side relatively unscathed; he had put the pieces of his life back together; now we just related to him but didn't necessarily worry about him. Nashville's season finale pulled that rug right out from under us, though. Whether he walks away from that car crash without a scratch (as drunks so often do) or whether it's the wake-up call that works this time doesn't even matter. Ten minutes of weakness undid all of the greatness the previous 21 and a half episodes gave us of this man. The disease won. It took down one of the best, most resolved men to ever fight with it. Maybe that's the most important message this show is putting forth about addiction after all, but it's not one we feel good about sharing with anyone wondering whether or not they can beat this thing.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

From LA Examiner: Critics' Choice & Teen Choice TV Nominees; 'Bonnie & Clyde' Photos; Chris Zylka Heads to 'Twisted'; CBS Orders 'Bad Teacher'...

The Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) today announced nominations for the 3rd annual Critics’ Choice Television Awards, which will be held the evening of Monday, June 10, 2013 at The Beverly Hilton Hotel right here in Los Angeles. For the first time the award show will be webcast live on UStream... [MORE]

A&E, Lifetime, and the History Channel are teaming up to for Bonnie & Clyde, a new two-night original miniseries about the real life criminal couple, simulcasting the production on all three networks later in the year. But today the networks have released the first look images from the series, timed on purpose to coincide with the anniversary of the real life Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow's deaths. Holliday Grainger and Emily Hirsch embody the roles, respectively... [MORE]

"2013 Teen Choice nominees include Arrow, PLL, Supernatural, TVD, more"

The annual Teen Choice awards are back, and the first wave of nominees has just been announced. Once again, the ceremony will break into summer, celebrating the hottest teen icons in all pop culture categories (music, movies, TV, sports, fashion, comedy, and the web), and already fans ages 13-19 can begin the voting process... [MORE

"The Secret Circle's Chris Zylka gets Twisted on ABC Family"

Chris Zylka has booked a guest starring role on the new ABC Family drama Twisted, per series star Maddie Hasson. LA TV Insider Examiner was on the Los Angeles set today for the filming of the seventh episode, in which Zylka's character takes Hasson's character on a date of sorts... [MORE]

"CBS orders Bad Teacher starring Ari Graynor"

CBS has ordered the single-camera comedy Bad Teacher for the 2013-2014 season, the network announced today, a week after unveiling their fall television schedule... [MORE]

The Day Matthew Ashford Talked Me Out of Wanting to Work in Daytime Television...

Once upon a time I wanted to work for Days of our Lives. Not daytime television but specifically that show. I thought about writing for it, but mostly I wanted to direct. There was a theater element to their four-camera set-up that intrigued me, as a kid who really only had access to theater. I student directed what I could in high school, running home as fast as possible to watch that day's VHS-taped episode of DOOL to study the stories and the angles and the inflections. I went to as many fan events as I could to meet the actors, both in the tri-state area and flying out west to go to them, including taking the NBC studio tour to visit the set. And when it came my turn to write and direct original projects in my high school video production class, as well as the Summer Discovery course, I came up with original soap opera scenes. What led me to the show originally was a lineage-- my mother watched the show with her mother when she was recently in the hospital and then came home hooked, asking me to tape it for her while she was at work, so then I'd end up sitting and watching, too, in the evenings. But it was a combination of factors that clicked to make me stick with it.

My senior year at USC was full of electives, and my favorite one, hands down, was a course dedicated to looking at various fandoms. Up until that point, the majority of my personal experience still came from the fandom of Days of our Lives, and I eagerly decided to do a documentary for my thesis project in the class. I was always the kind who would prefer to do something creative to writing a paper (in high school I was happy to write a 100+ page original screenplay for my English thesis, instead of a typical, straightforward 20-page research paper), and we had just screened Trekkies anyway. I was fascinated by how much of what an audience gets out of Trekkies completely depends on what they project onto the people while watching. If they don't understand fandoms or think sci-fi (or anything fictional, really) is a waste of time, they think these people are nuts. If they understand such passion, they look upon them fondly, as peers, even if they aren't Star Trek fans personally. I wanted to explore that, but I also wanted to see it from the other side and talk to the people behind the show about what it meant to have such dedicated fans.

I was in my senior year at USC in 2005, a time when soap operas were on the cusp of changing because new technology was emerging rapidly and the way television was consumed in general was changing. I was kind of oblivious to how all of the changes were affecting production and publicity, though, because I was still a student, only interning, not too worried about having to change my own habits just yet. I consider myself a fan of most new technology but absolutely a late adopter. I want to make sure something will stick around before I jump on a bandwagon (not to mention drop hundreds of dollars to upgrade equipment or transfer titles-- anyone remember the MiniDisc fiasco of the late '90s?). There was something of a beautiful simplicity, at least to me, in the way soap operas operated, drawing on nostalgia and old-fashioned ways. Of course, if you're on the business side of things, the quaint nature of nostalgia is actually death because you can blink and get cast aside as archaic or otherwise unnecessary.

I traveled all over Los Angeles for my documentary on Days of our Lives fan culture, including hitting a local mall for an appearance by of the shows' stars, a park to interview a fan on neutral territory, even a couple of apartments-- of fans and stars alike. But by far the greatest, and most educational, interview came from driving through the NBC studio gates to interview Matthew Ashford, who had recently returned to the show as Jack Deveraux. 

Ashford was in the middle of shooting scenes from "the island" when I arrived, so a helpful PA led me to the kitchen area to wait for the bell to ring, signifying the end of his scene so he could greet me and bring me to his dressing room. It took no time at all, and I was able to watch what they were shooting on the monitors while I set up my camera and looked over my list of interview bullet-points. He came to get me immediately as they wrapped him, his shoulders dusted with white ash and dirt to age his blue button-down and distinguish it as an item that had seen hard times while his character was stranded. He didn't change out of it for the interview, which we both felt added to the texture of the shot, and he graciously answered everything I asked with thoughtful, scholarly commentary. He was clearly a pro at these types of softball interviews, and as I was dismantling the camera, he sat with me to talk a bit more openly and off-the-record (in hindsight, I wish I had still been rolling because that video would be priceless to add to this memory now).

Ashford asked me point-blank why I wanted to be involved in daytime. He was one of the rare actors from the current cast who had been on the show years earlier but had not been on when I obsessively studied the show and attended all of those fan events. We had only met once, a few months earlier, at the final fan event I had attended and at which I obtained a bunch of contact information for people to feature in this documentary. Then he and I had interacted briefly enough so I could take a photo with him, but when I pitched him the interview, I didn't remind him of that brief moment, nor did I expect him to remember me. So our interview was really the first time we had "met" and shared a real interaction.

He listened attentively while I gave him the shortened spiel of how I felt a connection to the style and was inspired by the message of family driven into the stories. The duplicity of so many of the characters fascinated me, I explained, and I wanted to be able to explore flawed people who over time would have situations and relationships dictate their ever-changing behavior, but that even when they were outright villains, there would always be people hoping to see the best in them, to forgive, and to give them another chance. It was a commentary on human nature in a grown-up fairytale kind of way. I talked a bit about how structurally I used Days of our Lives scripts to learn proper formatting when writing my own original screenplays and how the intricacies of reaction shots reminded that a performance can be more powerful without words at times, too.

Ashford seemed satisfied with my answer, but he didn't hesitate in responding when I was done speaking. I had just locked my camera case and steadied it upright against the doorframe. He shifted comfortably in his chair, looked me dead in the eye, and said: "Don't go into daytime." 

To say I was shocked would have been an understatement. Ashford was nothing if not extremely nice throughout our interview, but I was not naive enough to think that he wasn't holding back some of the more outrageous stories he had simply because he didn't want to make anyone look bad. I was a girl with a camera and a microphone and an agenda. Maybe, had I actually kept the camera rolling, he never would have been as candid as he proceeded to be with me. And for that, I'm glad I turned it off and tucked it safely away. Because what he said was something I needed to hear.

"The business is changing..." Ashford pointed out, talking about the ever-increasing pace at which those producing a five-day-a-week show were required to work. 

He noted that there were no breaks, no time to rehearse, more and more pages to produce a day, all with the same beats and notes repeated. It was a business, churning out quantity, and the quality continued to suffer. It was a routine, and a way to exercise a muscle, but it was not a way to get better.

"...and daytime is a dying medium."

He was right, of course. Creativity aside, even the business of daytime was changing as ratings for the number one shows plummeted and networks started canceling even the longest-running programs. Yes, today soaps are getting resurrected online, but it's not the same. He saw the start to the sad trend, and he was warning me, a representative of the new generation, to not devote my time, energy, and most productive years of my life to something that could cast me out, that ultimately came with more risk than reward. 

Or maybe he was testing me, to see if I was really up for the grueling schedule and uphill climb that only looks glamorous if you have no idea how hard you will have to work. I always knew how hard these people worked, and I thought I wanted to be a part of it anyway-- mostly because I was chasing that sense of family that the characters had and that select groups of the actors seemed to have carved out, as well. Maybe I should have taken his words as a challenge to prove that you could infuse new excitement, new energy, new ideas over time. But I didn't. Instead, I took them to heart. Suddenly, standing in his tiny, non-windowed, kind of institutionalized dressing room, things looked differently. I felt like I was chasing the past, and what I really needed to be doing was taking a flying leap into not only my future, but the future of the industry, as well.

Of course, diving into the entertainment business at all meant devoting my time, energy, and most productive years of my life to something that could cast me out, that ultimately came with more risk than reward. But that's a larger version of that same lesson-- and one I had to learn for myself.

Friday, May 17, 2013

DanielleTBD's 2013 TV Round-Up of Survivals, Deaths, and New Shots...

What shows from the 2012-2013 television season have survived to see new episodes in 2013-2014? And what new series will be debuting soon? I have created a hand-dandy round-up, by network, of what to expect. Click on the show titles for more information.

  • ABC
666 Park Avenue - Cancelled
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - New Order
The Bachelor - Renewed
Back in the Game - New Order
Betrayal - New Order 
Body of Proof - Cancelled
Castle - Renewed 
Dancing with the Stars - Renewed 
Don't Trust The B---- in Apartment 23 - Cancelled
Family Tools - Cancelled
The Goldbergs - New Order
Grey's Anatomy - Renewed 
Happy Endings - Cancelled 
How to Live with Your Parents (for the Rest of Your Life) - Cancelled
Killer Women - New Order
Last Man Standing - Renewed
Last Resort - Cancelled 
Lucky 7 - New Order
Malibu Country - Cancelled
The Middle - Renewed
Mind Games - New Order
Mixology - New Order 
Modern Family - Renewed
Nashville - Renewed 
The Neighbors - Renewed
Once Upon A Time - Renewed 
Once Upon A Time in Wonderland - New Order 
Private Practice - Ended
The Quest - New Order
Red Widow - Cancelled (but ten to one they try to make it seem like it was always a miniseries)
Resurrection - New Order 
Revenge - Renewed
Scandal - Renewed 
Shark Tank - Renewed
Suburgatory - Renewed
Super Fun Night - New Order
Trophy Wife - New Order
Zero Hour - Cancelled 

  • CBS
2 Broke Girls - Renewed
The Amazing Race - Renewed
Bad Teacher - New Order
Blue Bloods - Renewed 
The Big Bang Theory - Renewed 
Crazy Ones - New Order
Criminal Minds - Renewed
CSI - Renewed
CSI: NY - Cancelled
Elementary - Renewed  
Friends with Better Lives - New Order
Golden Boy - Cancelled
The Good Wife - Renewed
Hawaii Five-0 - Renewed
Hostages - New Order
How I Met Your Mother - Renewed
Intelligence - New Order
The Job - Cancelled
Made in Jersey - Cancelled
The Mentalist - Renewed
Mike & Molly - Renewed
The Millers - New Order
Mom - New Order
NCIS - Renewed
NCIS: LA - Renewed   
Partners - Cancelled 
Person of Interest - Renewed    
Reckless - New Order
Rules of Engagement - Cancelled
Survivor - Renewed
Two and a Half Men - Renewed
Undercover Boss - Renewed  
Vegas - Cancelled
We Are Men - New Order 

  • The CW
The 100 - New Order 
90210 - Ended 
America's Next Top Model - Renewed
Arrow - Renewed
Cult - Cancelled
Emily Owens, M.D. - Cancelled
Gossip Girl - Ended
Hart of Dixie - Renewed
The Originals - New Order 
Nikita - Renewed
Reign - New Order 
Star-Crossed - New Order 
Supernatural - Renewed
Tomorrow People - New Order
The Vampire Diaries - Renewed 

  • FOX
24 - Renewed for Limited Series order
Almost Human - New Order
American Dad - Renewed
American Idol - Renewed
Ben & Kate - Cancelled
Bob's Burgers - Renewed 
Brooklyn Nine-Nine - New Order
The Cleveland Show - Cancelled 
Dads - New Order 
Enlisted - New Order
Family Guy - Renewed
The Following - Renewed
Fringe - Ended 
Gang Related - New Order
Glee - Renewed
Hell's Kitchen - Renewed
Junior Masterchef - New Order
Masterchef - Renewed
The Mindy Project - Renewed 
The Mob Doctor - Cancelled
Murder Police - New Order 
New Girl - Renewed 
Raising Hope - Renewed  
Rake - New Order
The Simpsons - Renewed 
Sleepy Hollow - New Order 
Surviving Jack - New Order
Touch - Cancelled
Us and Them - New Order
Wayward Pines - New (Limited Series) Order
The X Factor - Renewed 

  • NBC 
30 Rock - Ended
1600 Penn - Cancelled
About a Boy - New Order
Animal Practice - Cancelled 
Believe - New Order 
The Biggest Loser - Renewed
Blacklist - New Order 
The Celebrity Apprentice - Renewed 
Chicago Fire - Renewed
Chicago PD - New Order
Community - Renewed
Crisis - New Order 
Crossbones - New Order
Deception - Cancelled
Do No Harm - Cancelled
Dracula - New Order
The Family Guide - New Order 
Food Fighters - New Order
Go On - Cancelled 
Grimm - Renewed
Guys with Kids - Cancelled 
Hannibal - Renewed
Ironside - New Order
The Michael J. Fox Show - New Order 
The New Normal - Cancelled
Night Shift - New Order  
The Office - Ended
Parenthood - Renewed 
Revolution - Renewed
Rock Center - Cancelled
Sean Saves The World - New Order
Smash - Cancelled
Undateable - New Order
Up All Night - Cancelled 
The Voice - Renewed 
Welcome to the Family - New Order
Whitney - Cancelled