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!

The Vampire Diaries: Where did it all go right?

For the past six months, ‘The Vampire Diaries’ has been my drug of choice, with a weekly fix barely being enough to keep me going.

With the finale episode, ‘As I Lay Dying’, airing in the State yesterday, I have to wonder: what is it that makes TVD such a compelling program?

Well let’s start with the basics: characters. Each one remains true to who they are, there are no massively unexpected changes which make you question the skill of the writers. We know Damon has a softer side, just as we know Stefan has been struggling not to be a ruthless killer. Likewise, despite all the insanity, it’s remembered that Elena, Bonnie and Caroline are actually still young girls struggling to find their way in the world, let alone finding it with the added pressures of the supernatural.

Moving on: plot. There has never been a slow moment, and it’s clear that the writers aren’t just hashing this together as they go along. One event leads into another, some events have clearly been set for a shock ending miles in advance (fake curse, anyone?), whilst others are clearly the offspring of all the other shocking moments hearts have been racing to. There’s not been a stilted moment. Releasing Katherine led to discovering the curse, the curse naturally led to Elijah and the big bad Klaus, which has ultimately led to Klaus’ plans for species domination. It’s all been flawlessly sewn together, everything has clearly had a known destination from the start. 

Speaking of Klaus, he’s a testament to the casting. Joseph Morgan is a brilliant kiss-him-or-kill-him character, fitting in perfectly with Daniel Gillies’ Elijah to blend their stories. Likewise, the original cast are brilliant at representing their characters. Elena struggles without becoming whiney or repetitive, Damon’s a jerk without making you want to switch off, Stefan’s a perfect mixture of good trying to overcome evil…The supporting cast have never let them down either, with my personal favourite being Candice Accola, a.k.a. Caroline, who epitomises the abnormality of the events in Mystic Falls. She’s been like a gauge to measure events by: moving from innocent human to confused victim of Katherine struggling to cope with her new life, she’s demonstrated the place of humans and human emotions within this supernatural drama. Talking of Katherine, Nina Dobrev cannot go unpraised for her doppleganger double-act. She switches between the two without compromising our belief that she’s Elena and Katherine, instead of being Elena as Katherine or vice versa. It was a massive risk having one person in two roles, but Nina Dobrev pulled it off to a fabulous effect.

I’m going to have to stop, because I could literally rave about this show for hours. It’s stunning, it’s effects and plotlines are meticulously thought-out to ensure viewers aren’t cheated or thrown in a direction that didn’t suit the story, and the acting is breathtaking. All that’s left to say is, farewell season two and all your troubles…now, roll on series three.