Cancellations and Renewals: The Verdict

One less doctor in the House.

The USA television schedules have been announced: cuts, renewals and cast cullings have been announced, and as usual there are tragedies, travesties, and a few correct choices.

One of the main issues facing shows at the moment is that renewals are usually announced after the series have finished filming. So when cancelled, some shows are left on juicy and irritatingly unanswered cliffhangers. And then there are things like ‘House’: eighth series granted, the worry of Robert Sean Leonard (Wilson) not returning out of the way, and what happens? Lisa Edlestein, the wonderful Dr Cuddy and one half of Huddy, announces she won’t be returning. Personally, I think there’s more to her decision to leave than meets the eye, but what it means is that, like ‘CSI:NY’ and Stella last year, Cuddy won’t be given an on-screen exit. Instead, of the fundamental elements of ‘House’ is likely to just be writing out without much of a fuss, instead focusing on the future instead of giving Cuddy the send-off she deserves. Hopefully, the creators of the hit show will realise that, perhaps for the best, series eight should be the last.

And speaking of shows being flogged to death, the US certainly has a different philosophy to ending shows than the UK. Series

Flogging a dead Lane?

like ‘Life on Mars’ and ‘Robin Hood’ have all come to timely ends, whereas shows such as ‘Desperate Housewives’ keep coming back, despite falling viewing figures, stilted storylines, and actors that look like they’ve had enough. True, the return of Paul Young in series seven has done the show wonders by adding that little bit was missing: the dirty laundry that existed in the street before the Applewhites and the Bolan’s were transplanted in to kickstart the shows popularity. And don’t get me wrong, I love my weekly dose of ‘Housewives’, but I don’t think these women can have many more issues without the whole of Wysteria Lane being sectioned. Characters like Lynette and Tom have moved from the epitome of modern marriage to whingy and whiny in their endless squabbles. Argument, potential affair, and another baby: repeat until you’ve reached five kids. Gets a bit obvious. Wysteria Lane, if continuing much longer, will move from hysteria to downright irritating.

But then there are the renewals you pray for. Personally, I was bouncing off the walls when ‘The Vampire Diaries’ was renewed: it’s a show that’s just getting off the ground, with so much energy and passion behind it that it can’t fail to continue in its success for at least another series. It’s wonderful when you see actors enjoying their jobs; again, a major issue with the ‘House’ cast, which practically churns out an interview per week from an actor who hates being far away from home and can’t wait for the series to finish so they can’t scat, stat! Equally, CW’s renewed drama ‘90210’ doesn’t pretend to be anything but superficial, but

Where is the love?

sometimes when you see how the cast are treated (considering in this the abrupt departure’s of Harry, Deb and Ryan) it makes you doubt the passion behind the cameras. The ‘CSI’ franchise, despite ‘NY’ being renewed, have also had their public knocks: constantly downgraded despite brilliant productions, their renewal feels like it’s flying in the face of those people constantly heckling ‘cancelled!’.

Then there’s the staples, the TV you cannot do without: ‘The Simpsons’, ‘Family Guy’, ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and ‘Glee’…all have been renewed, and all provide fabulous background or chill-out TV. But then comes the next issue: ‘Glee’ may have been renewed rather early on in its life, but UK viewers are going to have to prepare for a massive shift: from freeview-accessible E4 to selective and charged-by-the-month Sky. Going the way of ‘House’ and ‘Lost’, ‘Glee’ shifting channels is almost a certain nail in it’s British-viewer coffin. I’ve no doubt the popularity of ‘Glee’ in the US will continue its musical reign of TV, but perhaps it won’t be singing as loudly this side of the pond.

However, this year’s cancellations and renewals haven’t disappointed this viewer, and most cancellations have been pretty expected, particularly shows with short shelf lives such as ‘The Event’ (wannabe ‘Lost’, actual failure) and ‘V’. Here’s looking forward to another year of fabulous TV!

Renewed and Proud!

Review: ‘Glee’, Series One

The phenomenon that is ‘Glee’ has finally come to an end in the UK, and what a spectacular end it was after a slightly mediocre second half of the first series.

Having already been commissioned for both a second and third series, ‘Glee’s’ unique formula has certainly proved to be immensely popular, with its combination of pop music and soap opera-esque antics moving in new directions (sorry, had to) that other shows had only ever tried and never pulled off especially successfully. The use of familiarity in the musical numbers to express situations that (most of the time) we could actually have experienced in our own lives allowed the shows creators to balance the unrealistic showmanship (like the piano guy who seemed to spend his days wandering after the Glee club in the hope they’d need his services) with heartfelt stories that struck the right note with the audience.

On the other hand, the post-sectionals half of the series seemed to lack the sparkle it once exuded, instead randomly inserting equally random songs into the show instead of tying it with the ‘theme of the day’. This was particularly highlighted when the show actually linked the songs to the themes again, particularly in the case of ‘Dream On’ and the Journey medley at regionals. The Lady Gaga episode was a specific disappointment for me, particularly in light of the magnificent costumes the cast wore (except Finn’s shower curtain number, it would probably best if that was burned), as they failed to live up to Gaga’s own exuberance and popstar presence and seemed entirely disjointed (I mean, who can explain why ‘Poker Face’ was a fitting farewell song for Rachel and Shelby?), unlike in the earlier Madonna episode which effectively encapsulated everything the Queen of Pop stands for.

The characterisation, however, was superb throughout: none of the characters seemed to lose themselves or head in directions that were unexplained or simply badly written. I thought the exploration of Kurt’s struggle to place himself within a man’s world was one of the stronger roles to explore, especially with his dad’s role as the protective yet slightly distant parent grappling with his identity and its clash with his son’s personality. I feel Rachel was let down slightly towards the end, as she simply became a vocal commodity instead of a character, and more screen-time for her failed relationship with her mother, Shelby (played by the wonderful Idina Menzel) would have helped expose her vulnerabilities more; instead, the finale saw her humbled without a real exploration of her mother’s motives or even her home-life with her adoptive dads.

Sue Sylvester, of course, was the superstar of the series, and again I feel like this was another character left trailing behind in the second part, ignored for the issues when, actually, her comical interjections would have both lightened the mood and shown that life really does go on. Jane Lynch’s timing and gentle changes in intonation ensure Sue’s character was maintained despite her irrationality in the face of Glee. And just when you were wondering how on earth she became an educator, she stands up to Olivia Newton-John and co. to tell them that, despite the level of competition, the various Glee clubs are still just kids that are trying their hardest. It was incredibly apt that she chose not to tell Will she voted for him, allowing the rivalry to be maintained instead of compromised.

So I will be tuning in for my ‘Glee’ fix when it returns with its anticipated second series, but hopefully the length won’t compromise the talent next time by dragging both the character and the songs further than they were meant to go.