In the merry month of May, giddiness abounds in the TV racket.
The U.S. network upfronts unfold next week. Ad-agency types are wined and dined as the networks unveil their new fall lineups. New shows. Returning shows in a new time slot. Of course, in a matter of days, with little to go on, somebody will snarl, “That show sucks!” Others will begin taking bets on the first show to be cancelled. It’s rather like going to a splashy wedding and speculating on how soon the divorce will happen.
Still, the general mood is sunny optimism. C’est la TV vie. Who knows? That new comedy from Chuck Lorre, the one called Mom, might run for years, making loads of money for everybody. Lorre already has three hits on the schedule: Two And A Half Men, The Big Bang Theory and Mike & Molly.
NBC, kinda desperate, ordered up 32 pilots. Some will make it to air, and many that shouldn’t will probably get a chance to entertain you. Maybe Undateable, about “two very different guys who are bonded by their common inability to attract women,” will be the next Seinfeld. Maybe not.
Canadian commercial broadcasters will let the U.S. networks make their decisions and then take their chequebooks to Los Angeles to buy the shows made and scheduled by their betters.
But the apex of optimism is preceded by that period of season and series finales, which is now. There’s tension and emotion involved and not just in the cliffhanger endings. Are there some people who hate to see their favourite weekly shows disappear, even if it’s for the summer months? Four shows end their seasons Thursday night. And one wonders: Who, if anyone, will genuinely miss these shows?
Community (NBC, CITY-TV, 8 p.m.) began life as a sprightly sitcom about misfits at a community college. Good casting meant deft characters and there was dry wit. Then Community morphed into something very different – a show about pop culture, involved in dense satire and occasional homages to TV shows, movies and all sorts of cult showbiz. The show itself became a cult favourite, admired for its weirdness. Almost cancelled, revived and currently a candidate for either cancellation or renewal, it has a small, loud fan base. What’s to miss? Alison Brie, perhaps, as the quietly demented Annie. But Brie’s best work is on Mad Men as Peter’s angry wife, Trudy Campbell.
Two and a Half Men (CBS, CTV, 8:30 p.m.) will return next season because you can’t really kill a show simultaneously so moronic and popular. In what is meant to be an exciting season finale, called Cows, Prepare to Be Tipped, certain events unfold: “Walden dates an attractive 22-year-old (Hilary Duff), but ends up being more interested in her grandmother (Marilu Henner); Jake and Alan go on a trip.” Hey, that sounds like hilarity ensues – guy thinks older woman is hotter than Hilary Duff! What to miss? Sexist jokes, penis jokes and puzzlement about who on earth could enjoy this grotesquerie.
Person of Interest (CBS, CITY-TV, 9 p.m.) arrived in 2011 as a so-so paranoid thriller, a high-tech procedural crime drama, with a near-silent hero (Jim Caviezel) who stopped crime before it happened, thanks to technology and a billionaire who made his money after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, by developing a software program for the U.S. government to identify terrorists. Since then, it has remained paranoid, but become comic-book ridiculous with vastly complicated plots. There’s talk of an online-only animated version. Little wonder. What’s to miss? Being troubled by how much U.S. citizens are monitored.
Glee (Fox, Global, 9 p.m.) provided some of the most poignant, joyful and provocative moments on network TV in the past few years. Then it stopped doing that. Talk about a pale, ghostly version of its old self. Where once there was creativity there are now manipulative tricks. Having two shows inside one – set at McKinley High and in New York among McKinley graduates – didn’t work. On Thursday night, Rachel gets a second callback for a Broadway revival of Funny Girl. Sing, woman, sing. What’s to miss? Amazement at its fast decline.
In the merry month of May, let’s say goodbye without regrets in these instances.
All times ET. Check local listings.