Since the writers' strike ended, it's been a long wait for existing series to resume their runs. They've been trickling back to exclaims of, "Oh yeah, that show." It's not that we didn't miss them; it's just that we found something else to do, someplace else to find our TV fix.
Don't get me wrong – I'm happy to see new episodes of The Office, 30 Rock, and others. But since the TV industry, loath to change how it does business, operates for the most part on a standard seasonal schedule, it's hard to get excited about something that has a short shelf life (only four, maybe five episodes left before summer hiatus). I'm already ready to fall under the thrall of the next new thing. Here are a few of the highlights that have us (okay, me) looking past the present and into the future:
In production: U.S. versions of Kath & Kim (originally from Australia) and The Thick of It (from Great Britain). It should be interesting to see how these series translate. Kath & Kim is a screamingly funny comedy about a mother and daughter who live together; the mom is a partying divorcée, while the daughter is bitter and jealous of her mother's carefree life. With Molly Shannon attached, I have high hopes. The original The Thick of It followed a career politician who spent more time trying to spin his gaffes and missteps than actually doing government business (see "TV Eye," May 19, 2006). The U.S. version has John Michael Higgins, Alex Borstein, Oliver Platt, and Michael McKean attached. Other remakes of UK shows for U.S. TV include Father Ted and Life on Mars. The former is about three priests and their housekeeper who live in a remote (i.e., quirky) community. The latter is about a detective who travels back in time to the 1970s following a car accident. This series is very popular, though for the life of me, I don't know why. Maybe I'll like the U.S. version better, but for me, blending a cop drama, sci-fi, and the 1970s together makes for a mighty unappealing mix.
Trends: More series developed in foreign markets, namely Canada and Great Britain. In order to save production costs, networks are eyeing series and bringing them wholesale to U.S. television with little or no niggling (as in shunting the location of the series far into the background). Industry insiders think U.S. audiences will embrace the series. I think it depends on the series. Two of the higher profile series include CTV productions Flashpoint (coming to CBS) and The Listener (headed to NBC). American audiences will recognize Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars, Just Shoot Me) in the former; he plays a police detective who is part of an elite team of negotiators who use their wits and power of persuasion to defuse tense hostage situations. The Listener is about a paramedic who discovers he's telepathic.
Business: A new venture set for a fall 2009 launch promises to make TV "available for consumers any way they want it." The unnamed venture is a team effort by Viacom, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Lions Gate to create content and make it available on demand on TV and on the Internet, according to an April 21 article posted on Variety.com. Look for a lot of new ventures to come and go as everyone tries to figure out how to tap into the TV viewing audience that doesn't want to be tied down to their TV.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. As always, stay tuned.
Clay Nichols from local site DadLabs.com dropped me a note to share that the Web series he produces with Troy Lanier and Brad Powell got some love from the 12th annual Webby Awards. Considered the "Oscars of the Internet," the Webby Awards recognize excellence on the Internet in all forms (websites, interactive advertising, film and video, mobile websites). DadLabs got an official "honoree distinction" nod following attention from the 2008 Yahoo! Video Awards as Best New Uploader of 2008, according to Nichols.
It's easy to see why DadLabs has garnered attention. Bright, funny, and definitely dad-friendly, the series offers tips to new fathers on the care and feeding of that cute little bundle of joy without all the gooey fawning usually found elsewhere. More about them in a future "TV Eye." In the meantime, check them out at www.dadlabs.com.