Wednesday, May 16, 2007
'Idol' chatter: Ain't that a kick in the head
The last time I called in sick for work was February 1989. I wasn't even really that sick that day. Today, I'm gonna have a hard time getting in. My girl, Melinda Doolittle, is going home and it makes me very sad.

I still can't believe there weren't enough people who saw the brilliance in her I do. She really may have as good a voice as any "Idol" contestant, ever, except perhaps Kelly Clarkson. (Watch Steve and Rodney get over the shock)

I know her personality did her in, but I was hoping the voters would see her new-found confidence and reward her. Even on her worst night, she was almost always better than almost anyone else on "Idol."

But the voters have spoken. So, good luck to Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks. Nothing against our young songstress from the desert, but I'm going to be cheering for Blake. Jordin should win -- she fits the big-voiced "Idol" type -- but I think Blake might just pull it off.

Who do you think will win -- and who do you think should win?
CBS = edgy? Fox = quality?
It's interesting to watch the reaction people have to networks' fall schedules -- how some broadcast networks inspire more emotion than others.

NBC has apparently blown most of the goodwill it gathered in the '90s and earlier this decade, when the network was riding high with "Seinfeld," "Friends," "Frasier" and the Anthony Edwards-led "ER." The comments to this blog indicate that viewers aren't just disappointed in NBC -- they're positively irate, as if a once favored child has become a useless layabout.

Fortunes can change quickly in television, but even if NBC's ratings go up, it'll be some time before viewers get comfortable again -- and in today's multichannel marketplace, there's no guarantee that will happen. The brand has been damaged.

As for ABC, viewers seem more willing to trust the Alphabet Network, which is almost recovered from the overscheduling (and killing) of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" several years ago. The network now has a handful of hits and may slowly be getting back in viewers' good graces -- the "Lost" hiatus/confusion and "What About Brian" cancellation notwithstanding.

Now it's CBS' and Fox's turns. CBS, working from a position of strength, has only five new shows this fall. But the network's image is a little dull, so it's going for "edgy" (the Associated Press' word) this time around. Is this the right thing to do?

And Fox remains the broadcast networks' wild child, never quite shaking the taint of its hit-and-run reality shows despite the quality of "House" (or "The Simpsons," for that matter). One of its new shows, "Back to You," features Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton -- veterans of two of the all-time greats, "Frasier" and "Everybody Loves Raymond," respectively. Perhaps they're trying to acquire that old NBC aura?

Given the decline in viewership, are any of the broadcast networks moving in the right direction?
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
'Idol' chatter: B-B-B-Blake
Man, you folks are gonna accuse me of flip-flopping more than a political candidate. (I guess I'm just preparing for the 2016 elections.) But I'm gonna endorse Blake Lewis for three really good performances last night on "American Idol's" penultimate performance show.

Which means I think one of the two favorites should go. And in that case, it should be Jordin Sparks.

Now my colleague, Rodney Ho of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has said Jordin will win what has been an uninspiring season 6. I can see why he likes Jordin, but for me the difference between her and Melinda Doolittle last night came down to Ms. Sparks' bland version of "She Works Hard for the Money." It was easily the worst performance of the night. (Watch Steve and Rodney go at it on " 'Idol' Chatter")

I thought it was interesting that for the artist's choice songs, Melinda and Jordin took the safe route with repeats, but Blake went with a new tune, "When I Get You Alone," by Robin Thicke. Really good version, much better than the original. Put that together with a really good "Roxanne" and a nice version of the Maroon 5 song "This Love," and Blake was my favorite last night.

The other thing I like a lot about Blake is his fearlessness in adeptly tackling songs that are risky because they are current or iconic. He gives them a nice twist, too. I haven't liked the finished product every time, but at least he has tried to be more than just a singer. And oh yeah, he's a better singer than most people think.

I also enjoyed the Bo Bice-like mic stand power moves.

So, who goes? Before the show I said Melinda because people seemed weary of her consistently really, really good -- but not showstopping -- performances and the fact that she hadn't measureably improved.

But I think Jordin and Blake are just as in danger, if not more vulnerable.

Dawg, this is a hard one. I'll say Jordin. No, Blake. No, Jordin. OK, Blake.

Sorry, dude. I liked you last night, but on the whole I don't think you'll make it. But hey, you can be my running mate in that presidential election.
ABC goes with another shade of 'Grey's'
ABC announced its schedule Tuesday. The worst-kept secret was that "Private Practice," the spinoff of "Grey's Anatomy," would receive a spot -- in "Private's" case, Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET. If "Private" can get close to the audience "Grey's" attracts, ABC will be very happy.

But overall, the network appears to be wiping the slate clean. No more "George Lopez," which dated back to 2002; no more "Knights of Prosperity," which barely scraped (more or less) through its opening season. (Even "According to Jim," many critics' favorite punching bag, is on the chopping block ... to mix metaphors.)

In their places, viewers will find 11 new series, including "Cashmere Mafia" (I wonder if it will end up going against NBC's "Lipstick Jungle"), "Miss/Guided" (no relation to the 2003 Alicia Silverstone show "Miss Match") and "Big Shots," about four CEO buddies.

Is ABC doing the right thing by programming so many new shows? Or did they pull the trigger too quickly on some of their current programs?
Monday, May 14, 2007
Goodbye, 'Studio 60'; hello, 'Journeyman'?
NBC is out with its fall schedule, and there are few surprises. Gone are "Studio 60" and "Crossing Jordan"; staying are the Thursday night comedies and "Friday Night Lights." (And "Law & Order," but that was never really in doubt, right?)

As anyone who regularly subjects him or herself to the annoyance of this blog knows, I had very mixed feelings about "Studio 60." I found it incredibly disappointing and called for its cancellation, but didn't think it was completely unsalvageable (and there were countless people with better ideas than I had). But NBC decided to throw in the towel. In "Studio 60's" place will be "Journeyman," a perhaps unfortunate name for a show about a time-traveling journalist. (It's obviously a better segue out of "Heroes," given the subject matter.)

Elsewhere on the fall schedule is a remake of "The Bionic Woman" and Brooke Shields starring in "Lipstick Jungle."

Given the obvious disgust many blog respondents have for the broadcast networks -- and knowing that it's almost impossible to know a show from a capsule description -- did NBC do well? Will you sample the new shows? Or will you be spending more time watching cable, renting movies or reading books?
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