Question: Hey Matt, why is Unanimous different from any other reality show? The people on the show had no idea why they were going to be there. If you were given the chance to win $1.5 million, what would you do? Survivor is a show about backstabbing for dollars. Big Brother, same thing. What about The Real World? At least on Unanimous they are going for money. Deal or No Deal? Great show. However, way to promote total gamblers. The best is, they do it with their children sitting right there! You just jumped on the Unanimous hate bandwagon. Instead of watching the first 10 minutes, you should have kept watching. I gave it a chance and it got really entertaining.
Answer: You're really asking me to defend my contempt for this utter piece of trash? (If it doesn't end up as the No. 1 worst show on Television Week's semiannual Critics Poll, I will be flabbergasted.) Look, anyone is entitled to a guilty pleasure, but Unanimous takes what was heretofore my least favorite reality concept, the
Question: Please tell me it's not true that Heist has been canceled. This is the only decent show NBC has except Deal or No Deal. There has got to be some place they can fit it in their schedule to make people watch. Maybe they can put it on in the summer. Also, I've seen reruns on the USA network. Could USA possibly pick up the show?
Answer: Well, we couldn't live on two more different planets. I hated Heist and am counting the days until this insipid fad of Deal or No Deal fades. But it's true: Heist is dead, at least where NBC is concerned. I suppose there is a chance that one of NBC's corporate cable cousins (A&E, Bravo, CNBC), which occasionally repurpose NBC programming, could present some of the unaired Heist episodes. But I'm not aware of that happening right now. I know it's particularly annoying when a serialized show is cut off midstream. But Heist struck me as an iffy idea done in by unbearably smug and inept execution ...
Question: Well, Matt, it looks like the honchos at CBS have heard your call and are moving Amazing Race to Wednesdays at 7 pm/MT (let the other time zones eat it for once). This puts it mainly up against Bones in my viewing habits, but do you think having it against America's Next Top Model and Deal or No Deal will hurt its ratings? Well, any more than having it at 9 pm/MT on Tuesday?
Answer: It's a little early to crunch the numbers definitively, but it looks like moving The Amazing Race to an earlier time period paid off with an uptick in viewership, which at the very least was an improvement on the comedies that previously aired there. But going up against two reality contenders, a brand-new phenom like Deal or No Deal and a demographic hit like Model, did seem to depress Race's numbers more than I'd like to see. I think you'd have to say that CBS' programmers, who are usually among the sharpest in the biz, bungled Race this time around. The show's much better now than the "family" ...
Question: Wasn't there a game show back in the '50s or '60s called Treasure Hunt? Was it similar to Deal or No Deal?
Answer: That it was, Gail. Treasure Hunt, which debuted on ABC in September 1956 before jumping to NBC the following year and leaving the air in 1958, was hosted by Jan Murray and posed a series of questions to players who selected each other's categories. They earned 50 bucks for each correct answer, and whoever had the most money at the end of the question segment got to choose from among 30 treasure chests, hoping to avoid the worthless items and win themselves a chunk of money. To drive players nuts, of course, they were given the opportunity to sell their selected chest back before it was opened.
Two other things worth noting: Among the guest hosts for the original ve
Question: Love your column! My question is, now that NBC has shelved Four Kings (which I actually liked), what do you think about moving Scrubs to the 8:30 pm/ET time slot that Kings occupied? Maybe they could gain the audience they deserve if they were sandwiched between Will & Grace and My Name Is Earl.
Answer: I think it's a great idea — just about everyone except the NBC programmers seem to agree — but I don't see it happening, not this late in the season. NBC just threw another ball of crap at Scrubs last week, pairing it with the miserably unwatchable Teachers, and I would imagine for much of the rest of what's left of the season, NBC will continue to either double-run Earl episodes on Thursdays (way to burn out a hot new show) or replay classic Will & Grace episodes as part of the countdown to the end. Or maybe they'll find a way to sneak even more editions of Deal or No Deal across the lineup. Who knows with this network? If Scrubs survives this season, it will be no thanks t ...
(Warning: Do not read if you haven't watched the Shield finale and intend to do so.)
Easily the most shattering episode of this TV week came from a show that has delivered the goods for the last 11 hours of what has been arguably The Shield's best season yet.
I'm talking about the cliff-hanger finale of The Shield's split season (10 more episodes are scheduled to air early next year), which really seems to me more like a season finale. The producers have yet to declare the back half of this fifth season The Shield's series finale, but given the enormity of what transpired in this latest episode, my gut tells me that the best creative decision would be for them to wrap the show in these next 10 episodes and go out on a dramatic high.
The dramatic stakes have rarely been more intense as poor Lem (the excellent Kenneth Johnson
Fox's Prison Break was back with a decent bang Monday night, averaging 10.3 million total viewers — a dip from the Nov. 28 "fall finale" but an 11 percent bump from the series' average and enough to put it on par with CBS' Queens-Mother combo. (Of course, the 8 o'clock hour's champ was NBC's Deal or No Deal, still a big deal for 16.6 million viewers.) At 9 pm, Two and a Half Men and The New Adventures of Old Christine proved an unbeatable tag team (with 16.9 and 15.3 mil viewers, respectively), while Fox's 24 placed with 13.6 million. Come 10 pm, yawn, CSI: Miami dominated with an audience of 19.5 mil.
Question: Looking at this TV season, I realized that the only new shows I watched even semiregularly were Bones (which isn't a smash hit) and Prison Break (which was my substitute for 24 and has been gone for so long that my excitement has waned). Last year Desperate Housewives, Lost and Grey's Anatomy premiered. Does it seem to you like this year was missing any breakout hits, and if you agree with me that most of this season's new shows thus far were a letdown, is there anything that you think will make a late splash, like Grey's did last year?
Answer: A year like the one that launched Housewives, Lost and eventually Grey's is exceptionally rare. Megahits are few and far between nowadays. (Before the 2004-2005 season began, I used the template of the 1994 season a decade earlier, in which Friends and ER were launched, to wonder if we'd ever see hits of that caliber again. Turns out the answer was yes.) This season we've had at least a few critical hits with solid followings (My Name
NBC has picked up eight more installments of Deal or No Deal, which now will air Monday and Friday nights. Per Variety, the game show's additional airing relocates Most Outrageous Moments to Tuesdays at 9, effectively returning Joey to the shelf for at least the next few weeks, if not forever.
Question: I'm not normally a big fan of procedurals. I've quit all the CSIs and all the Law & Orders (though I used to love the original L&O, back in the day). I find I'm more drawn to dramas with longer story arcs and character development (Gilmore Girls, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, etc.). There are a few procedurals I really have gotten into. I love Without a Trace and Numbers. Here's the thing: I know it's not a critical favorite, but I've really gotten into E-Ring. There's something about the international intrigue and the action elements that I find fun. But it seems to have disappeared from the schedule! What's more, I feel like it could have longer arcs and it could have more character development if it could get comfortable. But it seems like NBC moves it around, replaces it with Deal or No Deal (ugh), and gives it no respect. Do you know what they plan to do with this show? On a similar topic, I've heard rumblings about a show called The Unit, which sounds very similar. Do you ...