Why British and American TV Are Worlds Apart… Part 1!
As a British TV Producer living and working in America for the last 5 years I’m often asked by people how British TV differs from it’s American cousin. Are they really so dissimilar? Which is better? And do I prefer working in the former of the latter?
Now this is a question with a very long answer – and a topic I’ll be coming back to again and again in the future (this is Part 1 remember!) Trust me, defining the differences between British drama, reality and comedy – to name just a few topics – is a very big discussion!
Today I’m going to kick off with what I see as one of the biggest differences. But before I offer my thoughts I’ll admit to a bit of bias going in…
There are a lot of things I love about British TV, but I have to be honest I have had and probably always will have a bit of a love affair with American TV. I grew up watching Dynasty in the 80’s, was hooked on 90210 and Melrose Place through my college years and in the noughties fell for the likes of 24, The West More >
Is Glenn’s Case Closed?
Uh oh Damages fans, it looks like our favorite legal drama is coming to an end, according to a report in Daily Variety. (See Daily Variety for full article)
To be honest it’s not altogether surprising news. Damages attracts one of the most upscale audiences on TV, receives a lot of DVR playback and has strong international sales. But at the end of the day the ratings for premiere episodes just aren’t strong enough to justify a costly drama (I know the show is shot super cheap but we’re still not talking makeover show budgets). This season Damages is barely clearing a million viewers an episode and a pitiful 0.2 in the 18-49 demo. That’s less than most VH1 reality shows.
I for one will miss the show a lot. You all know my general feelings on legal dramas (see my Career Crisis piece) but Damages was an entirely different beast. Over three seasons we’ve barely seen the inside of a courtroom and we haven’t had to sit through any interminable closing arguments or weepy cross-examinations. Damages was smart enough to avoid all the traditional conventions.
Why Networks Need To Stop Pointless Padding
Yesterday I settled down to watch this week’s edition of Celebrity Apprentice, DVR’ed from the weekend. Yes, I know it’s basically a commercial for whatever product placement deal Mark Burnett has negotiated that week – but I’m a sucker for a bit of Cyndi and Sharon (who sod’s law, were both largely absent from this week’s show!).
But as I sat down to watch the show and one of the dullest challenges of the season was unveiled, my finger got itchy on the remote. Do I really want to spend the next 2 hours of my precious time watching minor celebrities preparing yet another product presentation?
So I fast-forwarded through the show – and voila – I was done in less than half an hour. And the thing is – I don’t think I really missed a moment of good stuff. Because when it comes to padding Celebrity Apprentice is one of the most over-stuffed shows in TV. The ‘firings’ go on forever – it’s almost like bad improvisation at a comedy club – as Trump and his kids belabor the same key points over and over again. You can feel the Trumps desperately trying to provoke More >
Why Everyone Has An Idea For A TV Show… Unfortunately!
Recently I was in line at a local store when myself and my partner Roger began talking to the guy behind the counter. Eventually the conversation turned to TV and we revealed that we work in the industry and regularly pitch to networks. Moments later the guy revealed that he had an amazing idea for a show. ‘So what’s the idea’ we asked out of politeness. ‘Oh I can’t tell you, you’ll steal the idea and make a fortune…’ Hmm…
I’ve heard this line so many times now over the years, especially since I moved to the States, and it never fails to infuriate me on so many levels. Everyone out there seems to have an idea for a show, the most amazing idea in the world that’s just going to make absolutely million of dollars and become the biggest thing since Idol (or bigger!). And they’ve just got to protect themselves because unscrupulous TV producers like myself are just desperate to rip them off…
Sounds like some people need a bit of a wake up call to how TV actually works… so if anyone out there is about to pitch their producer friend their More >
Why Life On Wisteria Lane Has Become A True Soap Opera
It’s the showbiz catfight everyone is talking about – did Desperate Housewives’ creator Marc Cherry really slap his former star, Nicolette Sheridan, across the face during her time on the show?
Sheridan is taking Cherry and ABC to court in a $20 million lawsuit and suddenly everyone is caught in the crossfire, most notably Nicolette’s Wisteria Lane co-stars who clearly don’t want to criticize their boss, but also doubtless feel loyalty to their former colleague. Today’s Daily Beast has an article looking at the truth behind the claims – albeit mostly from anonymous staffers . Doubtless this story is just getting started and will play out in even more detail over the coming weeks. Maybe it’ll even lift the show’s ratings – which could definitely do with a boost this season (although personally I think the show has done a remarkable job of keeping up the quality over the years).
Who Calls The Comedy Shots?
Earlier today I added Curb My Enthusiasm to my Netflix queue. Now over the years I’ve watched numerous clips and scenes from the show but I realized I’ve never actually watched a full episode – so decided it was time I gave it a proper shot.
But then I got to thinking why I haven’t watched the show before – I mean it’s always received fantastic reviews, the clips I saw made me laugh, it’s HBO… but I think deep down the real reason is that I have a bit of a knee jerk reaction to anything that receives too much praise. Especially when it comes to comedy I’m even more wary because I think more than any other genre there’s a real prejudice and agenda about what is – and more crucially isn’t – funny. And it kind of irks me!
10 Celebrities Ready For Their Reality TV Moment…
Last week We announced their line up of new shows for the summer and fall seasons. Among the offerings – a docu-soap following cosmetically enhanced comedienne Joan Rivers and her daughter Melissa. Meanwhile Dancing With The Stars is basking in the glow of record ratings due to a sensationally cast season – Kate Gosselin, Pamela Anderson, Shannon Doherty – a trio made in tabloid heaven. While over on Celebrity Apprentice the delightfully daffy Cyndi Lauper is proving to be TV gold as she infuriates and alienates her team-mates with long winded stories, chronic ADD and bizarre off kilter ideas.
As someone who’s worked on numerous reality series over the years I think Cyndi is dream casting. She’s exactly who you want on a reality show – a celebrity who hasn’t been overexposed on similar series (hello Brigitte Nielsen) and so has an aura of mystery around them. We all think we know Cyndi Lauper – but now we’re realizing we don’t really know her at all.
Which led me to thinking – who else would be a dream reality show casting?
Here’s 10 celebrities I’d love to see signing up in the near future…More >
Is There Hope For TV’s Dead Zone?
Being a British TV producer who emigrated to America 5 years ago, I often get involved in conversations comparing the state of UK and US TV. I’m afraid I’m not an especially loyal Brit and as far as I’m concerned American TV outweighs its Brit equivalent at virtually every step of the way (there’s a whole posting on this subject to come!). But one thing that I do find interesting is how Friday and Saturday nights in America are absolute no go zones for network and cable.
The reason this fascinates me is that in England, Friday and Saturday nights are THE nights for TV viewing. Years ago I produced on a TV talent show, Fame Academy (a cross between Big Brother and American Idol – later remade, not very well, as The One for ABC) and for us there was no question that we had to air on either a Friday or a Saturday. In the UK Friday nights are Big Brother live eviction nights, while Saturday is where The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing face off (AKA the clumsily named UK version of Dancing With The Stars). Both nights can deliver big ratings. The X Factor was watched by almost More >
Why Can’t Networks Find A New Job Market?
Last week ABC stalwart Grey’s Anatomy received it’s lowest ever rating for an original episode – just 9.75 million viewers. For a show that used to regularly rate in the 20 million range this is some serious erosion. But it’s not alone.
NBC has its hands full this season with a pair of misguided medical flops – Trauma and Mercy. Both are struggling through full seasons but their continued existence is more reflective of NBC’s rating woes than any actual audience appetite. Meanwhile CBS recently launched its own ER drama, Miami Medical – quietly dumped into a Friday night slot.
Over at ABC, legal drama The Deep End came and went in just 6 weeks with its final episode gaining less than 4 million viewers. And as for cop shows – well Southland was relegated to TNT, the Law and Order franchise is relying on stunt casting to stay in the headlines (look Kathy Griffin as a lesbian!), Cold Case speaks for itself, and The Forgotten makes Christian Slater 2 for 2 on the flop front.