Monday, April 30, 2007

Cyber Bullies

Matt Roush's Q&A column online at raised an interesting point about something that has bugged me for a while.

Namely, this whole Internet thing may not be good for the creative vision of TV producers.

To wit, many TV producers on many hit shows, such as "Lost" and "Grey's Anatomy," are reading the fan boards at various Web sites all over the place and letting the comments of fans influence how storylines develop.

On the one hand, there's nothing wrong in listening to your viewers. In pre-Internet days, people often wrote TV show producers with comments about their favorite shows. No doubt it was the fan backlash against characters like Ana Lucia last season and Nikki and Paulo this season that got them killed off "Lost." (Though in Ana Lucia's case, a great deal also was likely due to actress Michelle Rodriguez's off-the-set behavior.) If a storyline or character isn't working, producers know to change it.

On the other hand, whatever happened to the writer having a creative vision and sticking with it? Shows like "Studio 60" damaged themselves creatively because it seemed as if creator Aaron Sorkin was constantly changing the tone and structure of the show to answer critics. Characters on "Grey's Anatomy" seem to hook up or break up based on fan reaction to the various relationships (though a tremendous outpouring from the fans couldn't save ill-fated character Denny).

The Internet is becoming a far-too-influential, in my opinion (or is that IMHO), in the creative vision of TV shows. One of the reasons why a show gets picked up by a network in the first place is that a writer had a specific vision that he or she pitched and sold to the network. So why not stick with it?

I like to delude myself into thinking this blog reaches the entertainment types in Hollywood, but I wouldn't want them basing their decisions about how they go about their shows based on this and other fan Web sites. Part of the beauty of TV over movies is that the writer is in charge and has the final word. Let's hope these showrunners remember that.

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: "Heroes" (NBC, 9 p.m.) is the pick tonight, as the series goes five years into the future in which Pres. Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar) and Linderman's (Malcolm McDowell) deal with the events that stemmed from the destruction of New York City. I really dig alternate future/time travel episodes in various fantasy series, so I'm eager to watch this tonight. It's followed by the "Real Wedding Crashers," which you couldn't pay me to watch.

CBS is all-new, with "How I Met Your Mother," "New Adventures of Old Christine," "2 1/2 Men" and "King of Queens," followed by a new "CSI: Miami" at 10 p.m.

If you are tuning into Fox tonight for "Drive," you are out of luck, since the series has been canceled, and Fox is unlikely to air even the two remaining episodes; a "House" rerun airs instead at 8 p.m., followed by a new "24" at 9 p.m.


zodin2008 said...

"Heroes" was excellent last night, and maybe moreso then any show, scratches my 'sci fi itch' that I have been missing with no Trek and no Joss Whedon shows around.

I love "Battlestar" of course, but it's darker and clearly doesn't have the budget of a "Heroes". "Battlestar" is the stronger written show as a whole, but "Heroes" is still wildly entertaining and you get the kind of time travel, alternative timelines and special effects that those of us (like you and me) who love science fiction, get a fix of.

Though nothing can replace "Heroes" or "Battlestar" once "Heroes" goes off the air in 3-4 weeks, but it's good to know that there is some entertaining sci fi to keep us entertained this Summer: the returns of "Kyle XY" (a Surprisingly good show that debuted last Summer), "The Dead Zone" (likely its final season), and "The 4400".

I only point these out because while none are as good as the 2 previously mentioned shows, there is thankfully some entertaining science fiction between June and August. Other then those shows, I am most looking forward to the return (this Summer) of "Rescue Me" and HBO's "Big Love".

For now, I would just be happy if The CW would finally give me the final five "Veronica Mars" episodes before it likely fades to black.

zofin2008 said...

Re: Cyber Bullies

I completely forgot to comment on the main issue at hand.

I also read the Matt Roush Q&A (a regular on my favorites every Monday and Friday), and I agree that its both a blessing & a curse. Not too much to say other then that Phillip, you are right on both fronts.

Cyber bullies have helped in cases of losing weak characters on "Lost" and before that, it happened famously on "24". Season 4 to be exact. "24" introduced the horrible character of Erin Driscoll who had a suicidal daughter. Just watching the actress who played Erin and watching the whole storyline was enough to want the audience to kill itself.

Thanksfully, the "24" folks read the online vitriol aimed at the vomit inducing Driscoll family, and buh bye Driscolls, hello Bill Buchanan, one of the BEST additions to the annals of the show's history. Outside of Jack Bauer, Buchanan is one of the only characters I really enjoy week to week in what is currently 24's worst season to date.

It was a relief having Bill around especially after "24" made the huge mistake of killing off two of their best characters ever, Tony and Michelle, in season 5.

Back to "Lost", I would also concur with something Phillip has said previously, that the episode a few weeks back where they focused on Nikki and Paolo and then buried them alive at the end, was easily one of my favorite "Lost" episodes of the year. Rather ironic but that was absolutely brilliant work by the "Lost" writers.

Phillip Ramati said...

The Nikki-Paolo episode of Lost was a great example of making lemonade from lemons. But I wonder about the shows, especially with the soap opera aspect of "Grey's Anatomy," "Desperate Housewives" and others that continue to allow themselves to be influenced by instant fan reaction. I think the various Lost changes would have always been made because the producers are smart enough to have figured out those characters weren't working.

For more on Heroes, check out today's posting.