web stats

CSBG Archive

Sunday Brunch: 11/14/10

NARCISSISM DEPT: Today at our sister blog Robot 6, I sit in as the guest on What Are You Reading? I assume they asked me because Jon Hamm was too busy appearing everywhere else. Of course, I’m writing to you from the distant past of Friday, so for all I know Mr. Hamm found a spare half hour in his schedule and I have been pre-empted. Damn you, Hammmm!

BRAVE AND THE BOLD DEPT: “Plague of the Prototypes!” Written by Dean Stephan

So Adam West returns to the show as the voice of Proto, a well-meaning but not-very-bright robot prototype that hangs out with Ace the Bat-Hound in the Batcave, but is called into action when Black Mask turns all the other Batbots bad. If you’ll recall, however, Adam West previously played Thomas Wayne on the show, which means Batman programmed a robot with his father’s voice and hid him away in the basement. In addition to that, Stephan sets us up with the heroic sacrifice of GI Robot in the teaser for another heroic robotic sacrifice in the climax, but it’s just a fake-out. And that’s all I’ve got to say about this one.

AVENGERS: EARTH’S MIGHTIEST DEPT: I forgot to watch this again. Oops.

ARBITRARY PONDERMENT! Terriers is the best show on television. Wednesday nights, 10 o’clock Eastern, FX. Watch it. I demand a second season. Give Donal Logue an Emmy.

SPONTANEOUS MUSING! When JMS says he thinks graphic novels are the future and he’s going to focus on writing those from here on out, he really means “I can’t keep to a monthly schedule and I quit. Deal with it.” C’mon, son.

ITEM! Nate Cosby, now-former-Marvel-editor-but-current-gadabout, is writing a series of weekly comics about the vertiginous descent to madness that is comics editing. (I kid, I kid). The first three installments are up, featuring Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, Agents of Atlas, and World War Hulk:

We NEVER need to see Pete change into Spider-Man. That’s the POINT. It’s the most genius part of the book. If there were any reader left on earth that didn’t know Peter Parker & Spider-Man were the same person, they’d NEVER find out from reading Mary Jane. They didn’t need to. It wasn’t Spider-Man’s story. Spider-Man was Sean’s Trojan horse, sneaking his intentions in under the guise of just another Spidey tale. He was gunning for relatable pain, anguish, hope, misunderstanding. Peter was just a kid that felt a massive amount of guilt over his uncle dying and decided to try and help people without anyone (including MJ) knowing. Seeing Peter change into Spidey meant showing us something that MJ has never seen. If SHE doesn’t know it, then WE shouldn’t either. It’s a subtle thing that speaks volumes to me.

NEW ABHAY DEPT: Always worth reading, Mr. Khosla’s latest begins as a review of the Immonens’ Moving Pictures graphic novel before segueing into a treatise on the depiction of WWII in comics (as compared to other wars) and the dwindling effectiveness of Nazis in fiction:

I’ve killed roughly 5.2 zillion videogame Nazis over the years.  I’ve seen Nazis stabbed with knives and flags, exploded by grenades, rockets, and mortars, shot by pistols, machine guns, and tanks, melted by Arks of the Covenant.  I’ve watched Jim Brown pour gasoline and grenades onto Nazis while Telly Savalas butchered Nazi hookers.  If you include Illinois Nazis, I’ve also seen Nazis get into some pretty damn hilarious car accidents.

How much of my reaction to MOVING PICTURES was tainted by that?  Can I still have a reasonable reaction to a serious drama with Nazis in it?  Can I take those characters as characters, instead of just signifiers of Ultimate Evil?

ITEM! Whether you’re a Geoff Johns fan or not, Colin Smith’s three part critical look at Blackest Night is fascinating reading:

But Mr Johns can also choose to use those page-closing panels in a far less typical way too. He often writes closes pages in a way that causes the reader to pause rather than read onwards. It’s a trick that he tends to use in “Blackest Night” when he wants his audience to pay attention to a key character moment, and in particular, a character moment which emphasizes the major themes of the book. And so, where the traditional final panel on a comic book page encourages the reader to move on, Mr Johns is often demanding quite the opposite. In the first chapter of “Blackest Night”, for example, page 8 closes on Damage’s admission that he “can’t face anyone”, that he’s been traumatized by the loss of his comrades in the Freedom Fighters. But Damage himself isn’t even in that closing panel, and while the scene of mournful statues may foreshadow a grim future, the art doesn’t compel the reader to turn the page at all. Instead, the audience is encouraged to stay where they are and think about what they’ve been shown, to stay in the moment as its been subliminally suggested that they do.

ITEM! Kerry Callen asks, “What if Marvel’s Silver Age was like DC’s Silver Age?” Hilarity ensues:

ITEM! The Comic Twart guys get all minimalist. Here’s a piece each by Mitch Breitweiser, Ron Salas, and Tom Fowler:

ITEM! The Mindless Ones annocommentate Batman & Robin #16 but don’t tell me what they say because I haven’t read it yet but I still know how it ends because that was all over the internet in thirty seconds but you know

ITEM! David Brothers reads all of the Thor comics Marvel’s currently publishing and lets you know which are worth your time (hint: buy The Mighty Avenger).

THE OBLIGATORY CHRIS SIMS plays a weird fanmade X-Men prostitution RPG.

ITEM! Thanks to Mike Sterling, I have now discovered Our Valued Customers, a site in which a comic book store employee draws cartoons of all of his ridiculous encounters with customers. These folks? These are my people:

REMAKE/REMODEL at Whitechapel this week is Jeff Hawke, space diplomat hero from bygone days of comic strips. Here are entries by Art Grafunkel, Craig Payne, and Fred Greiner (click to embiggen):

TANGENTIALLY RELATED TO COMICS DEPT: Leonard Pierce of the AV Club discusses the necessity, or lack thereof, of interactivity in our art and entertainment:

If you are, as I am, an advocate of reader-response theory, you know that the reader has always been part of the creative process. The meaning of a text isn’t delivered by unidirectional pipeline from the writer to the reader; it’s a circuit, begun by the creator’s intent and design, and finished by the reader’s understanding and interpretation. All art, good or bad, is made through a vast process of criticism, collaboration, and creation between the people who make it and the people who take it. All interactive technology does is make that idea more immediate and explicit.

44 Comments

Abhay Khosia is the worst! Stop promoting him!

Abhay Khosla is the best! Keep promoting him!

• I’m pretty sure I already know what you’re reading, but that’ll be an interesting column anyway, as it usually is.

• I fell asleep during the robot-centric ep of The Brave and The Bold. I managed to stay awake through Plas’ lesson in patriotism, though. Yay? Next up: Damian Wayne…!

• Then, I guess Young Justice takes over the time-slot.

Avengers: EMH is getting better all the time. This week had MODOK. Well, MODOC. He’s Designed Only for Conquering to keep it kid-friendly.

• I still need to finish watching the prequel webisodes, which have been pretty damn solid from what I’ve seen so far.

Terriers is fantastic, as all five people who watch it will attest. Maybe DirecTV will pick it up and run it with Damages when FX passes on a second season?

Rubicon probably has a better shot at a second season, but AMC might have set its ratings bar higher now that Walking Dead is a huge success.

• You know who else deserves an Emmy? Ted Danson. His turn on Bored to Death has been nothing short of superb. And, hey, HBO already renewed it for another season. HBO’s good like that.

• One more TV item: Burn Notice returned on Thursday. Was it any good?

• I got excited when I saw that Phil Hester was taking over Wonder Woman, but then I found out he was just going to script JMS’ plots. Never mind, then.

• G. Willow Wilson must be kinda pissed she didn’t get tapped to take over Superman, right?

• The birth of Agents of Atlas was nearly as fascinating as the series (of series) itself.

• Now that McKeever’s back at Marvel and Young Allies has been axed, is a return to Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane in the works? ‘Cause that’d be worthwhile.

• Abhay! Yes!

• Johns! No!

Brightest Day‘s “Aquawar” arc will probably be the highest selling Aquaman story of all time.

• If Johns can work the same magic on Aquaman that he used to turn The Flash and Green Lantern into top-selling properties, he deserves his current seat of power. Somebody’s gotta be able to shake the stigma off Arthur.

• Is Joe Casey getting residuals for the X-Men prostitution RPG? He came up with the X-Ranch years ago.

• Speaking of Casey, those kooky Image teaser images are totally for Butcher Baker, The Righteous Maker, Casey’s upcoming (mini?)series with Mike Huddleston. I couldn’t be more stoked for that.

Terriers is, indeed, quite good.

It mystifies me that it cannot get anyone to watch it. It’s basically aiming at the same exact audience as Justified, but somehow can’t get nearly the numbers of Justified (and Justified didn’t exactly get great ratings, either).

My only hope for Terriers is that FX feels bad for how poorly they promoted the show (barely anyone even knows that they have this great show) and gives them a second season.

But since Rubicon actually got better notices and better ratings and was canceled by AMC, which tends to be less cutthroat than other networks, then I guess I just have to come to terms with “only” getting this one very good season of Terriers.

Blackest Night had themes?

Proto technically first appeared in the B:BatB video game that came out a couple months ago (he shows up in the Batman/Blue Beetle teamup on Science Island section.) I agree that they’re basically doing a Red Tornado story with him and it doesn’t help that Black Mask wasn’t a particularly compelling villain.

I was disappointed that B:BatB couldn’t figure out a way to fit the Red Bee into the Freedom Fighters episode. Apparently he’s too goofy for a show with Batmite. :P

Terriers is pretty good. I thought it was a great callback to the classic P.I. series. And I heard about it by reading John Rogers’ (Leverage, Blue Beetle) blog, where he suggested it was the heir to Rockford Files. That’s all I needed to know to get me to check it out.

I’ll be sad if it goes away, but standards are different for cable. They also look at how many people pull it up “On Demand,” which is how we watch it. NBC gave Chase (another On Demand favorite of ours) a full-season order on that basis.

You think about the way people’s entertainment consumption habits have changed over the last fifteen years and really, when you take a hard look at it we are living in a Jetsons future right now as far as pop culture is concerned. You can get hold of damn near ANYTHING you ever liked. Groovy Diana Prince has been reprinted in full. There’s Essential and Showcase collections of stuff like GODZILLA and ROBIN THE BOY WONDER. A&E offers discount collections of SPACE:1999 and SECRET AGENT. Robert E. Howard and Doc Savage and other similar spinner-rack fodder from my youth are getting reprinted in fancy new editions. Even made-for-TV movies that only about three hundred of us out here ever cared about — like Jack The Ripper with Michael Caine or City Beneath The Sea with Stuart Whitman — are now available from Warner Archive on a print-on-demand basis. It’s just astonishing to me.

I’ll be sad if it goes away, but standards are different for cable. They also look at how many people pull it up “On Demand,” which is how we watch it. NBC gave Chase (another On Demand favorite of ours) a full-season order on that basis.

That’s the hope, but even with everything factored in, their ratings are awwwful.

You have to figure that they know that the show should be doing better, so perhaps they’ll give it a second season and actually promote it correctly.

I liked Rubicon, but I can see that show getting canceled more than Terriers. As good as Rubicon was, it was not nearly as marketable as Terriers is. It is, like you mentioned, a successor to Rockford Files – that’s a great market to be in.

Terriers is, indeed, quite good.

It mystifies me that it cannot get anyone to watch it. It’s basically aiming at the same exact audience as Justified, but somehow can’t get nearly the numbers of Justified (and Justified didn’t exactly get great ratings, either).

My only hope for Terriers is that FX feels bad for how poorly they promoted the show (barely anyone even knows that they have this great show) and gives them a second season.

I think I can use myself as an example of what may have gone wrong with Terriers.

I love Shawn Ryan and shows he’s been involved with like The Shield and The Unit. I’m also a huge fan of critics like Alan Sepinwall, who was gung ho about Terriers as well, and gushed to the high heavens about the show. The gushing from respected critics and the pedigree of creators created in me outrageous expectations, but when I finally watched the show, it was just okay. Not bad at all, but just okay. And the main characters seemed a bit too incompetent to me. I made it two episodes in and nothing really hooked me. It was good enough for me to keep watching but not good enough that I HAD to watch.

According to people I know who kept watching it, it got a lot better as it progressed, especially around the 3rd episode. But in this day of Netflix, On Demand TV and 500+ viewing options, you need to hook people right away with your show or your dead in the water. Today’s ADD viewership just doesn’t have the patience. At least I don’t. So I think maybe my case may have been the case for many viewers. It wasn’t that they didn’t try the show or FX didn’t promote it, it’s that people did try the show and saw the wrong episodes.

Look at the first episodes of many other great cable shows: the hook you as soon as possible. The end of the first episode of the Shield for instance is jaw dropping and immediately tells you this won’t be like any show you’ve seen before. First episode of the Wire lets you know you’re in for something special. Even though Sopranos doesn’t seem as groundbreaking and unique as it did when it first came out because everyone’s ripped them off since, at the time it first aired it’s hard to describe how profoundly different it felt from everything else on the air from it’s very first episode. Even an arguably vapid show like Entourage felt fresh and hooked viewers fast. I think Terriers suffered from a slow burn, too much faith in the patience of viewers.

I thought Terriers was great from the beginning– the pilot is one of the best of recent years. I mean, yes, it’s gotten better and better, but it was pretty damn good to begin with.

I have to agree with T completely. My wife lasted a little longer, but even she gave up on it. Like mentioned before, it was OK, but nothing I had to watch, and there is so much stuff that I DO have to watch, I just don’t miss it, no matter how good everyone says it is.

I am enjoying the hell out of Brave and Bold and Avengers.

Maybe JMS quit because he realized Superman walkabout and gritty Wonder Woman were lame ideas and he got tired of them.

I don’t think I’ve read about “Terriers” anywhere but here. Okay, I’m adding it to my Netflix queue. That should save it!

Once this Sons of Anarchy season is over I’m dropping my cable altogether and signing up for hulu prime. I’m gonna miss just throwing on discorvery or travel channel in the background at times but the cost just doesn’t make sense any longer.

What I’m loving about A:EMH is that they’re not shying away from the personality conflicts between the different characters. Hank Pym is really just ripping into Tony Stark and he kind of deserves it.

I gotta say I haven’t gotten to B&R 16 yet either, but from what I’ve seen spoiled, it’s not really a surprise ending (if I’m understanding correctly).

I’d watch Terriers if I could remember about it other than reading about it here. I dig Donal Logue, I liked John Rogers on Blue Beetle, and I thought there was someone else involved with it that I liked — Tim Minear, right?

My favorite thing on the web this week? Go to http://www.cerebustv.com and look down at the B&W art at the bottom. It’s Cerebus with Lady Gaga. The best part is that the art links to the EBay auction for the art, and in those comments, Dave says he hasn’t listened to Gaga but the outfit she’s wearing is like how Al Williamson inked Darth Vader’s helmet. How fucking cool and nuts is that? But as a Sim/Cerebus fan who has an unnatural affection for Lady Gaga, I’m so wishing I had the money to buy the art.

I really enjoyed that Spider-man cover in DC’s Silver Age style. Would like to see more!

So, Rubicon totally got sacked when I wasn’t looking. Bah.

Brian:

It mystifies me that it cannot get anyone to watch it. It’s basically aiming at the same exact audience as Justified, but somehow can’t get nearly the numbers of Justified (and Justified didn’t exactly get great ratings, either).

Perhaps FX should’ve launched the show immediately after the Justified finale, then. Or the Rescue Me finale. Or, you know, anything. What was the lead-in for Terriers‘ premiere? Some censored Ashton Kutcher flick?

Greg:

Terriers is pretty good. I thought it was a great callback to the classic P.I. series. And I heard about it by reading John Rogers’ (Leverage, Blue Beetle) blog, where he suggested it was the heir to Rockford Files. That’s all I needed to know to get me to check it out.

The words “P.I.” or “Files” really should’ve been in the show’s title, just to sell it a little more obviously.

sackett:

Like mentioned before, it was OK, but nothing I had to watch, and there is so much stuff that I DO have to watch, I just don’t miss it, no matter how good everyone says it is.

I get that entirely, but, for me, Terriers is the show that I DO have to watch, whereas everything else can take a backseat. If I had to narrow down what I watched to five shows a week or less, Terriers would be a number one with a bullet. (And the rest would probably be cartoons — heh!)

jjc:

Once this Sons of Anarchy season is over I’m dropping my cable altogether and signing up for hulu prime. I’m gonna miss just throwing on discorvery or travel channel in the background at times but the cost just doesn’t make sense any longer.

I can’t be the only one who thinks Sons of Anarchy is dragging this season, right? The pace just seems…off. It felt like it took forever to get the gang to Ireland, and now I can’t wait for them to leave.

Apodaca:

What I’m loving about A:EMH is that they’re not shying away from the personality conflicts between the different characters. Hank Pym is really just ripping into Tony Stark and he kind of deserves it.

Yeah, Pym all but called Stark a heartless bastard in the last ep. Which would’ve been great. For a couple of reasons.

Travis Pelkie:

’d watch Terriers if I could remember about it other than reading about it here. I dig Donal Logue, I liked John Rogers on Blue Beetle, and I thought there was someone else involved with it that I liked — Tim Minear, right?

John Rogers is just a fan. He’s too busy working on TNT’s Leverage to be involved with another series. Tim Minear is an executive producer on Terriers, though; he also wrote this week’s episode.

Perhaps FX should’ve launched the show immediately after the Justified finale, then. Or the Rescue Me finale. Or, you know, anything. What was the lead-in for Terriers‘ premiere? Some censored Ashton Kutcher flick?

I don’t think it would have mattered what kind of lead-in they would have gotten for that pilot, because that first episode was so painfully average it would still have ended up hemmorhaging viewers. I theorize that many of the people who stuck around until it got good or convinced themselves the first episode was so great were those who went into it determined to stick it out because they were already aware of the pedigree of the creators and actors involved, or who read so much of the critical hype beforehand. But for Joe Average, I just don’t see that pilot as being the type to cause watercooler buzz or inspire a return to view next week. And this is coming from one of those viewers who went into the show desperately WANTING to love it.

They really needed to lead in with a stronger episode if they wanted a new show to get traction in this competitive market.

” What I’m loving about A:EMH is that they’re not shying away from the personality conflicts between the different characters. Hank Pym is really just ripping into Tony Stark and he kind of deserves it.

Yeah, Pym all but called Stark a heartless bastard in the last ep. Which would’ve been great. For a couple of reasons. ”

More interesting is Pym getting into some reasons why Stark is doing what he’s doing with the team. Extending the his film mythology into the team itself is an interesting concept that I hope they continue to play with it as it could put stress on the team dynamics.

Also like how they are very carefully setting up Wasp for a larger leadership role while laying seeds that she’s the most vulnerable (last two weeks she’s had to be protected while the bad guy got away because she was being protected…I have a feeling that’ll be a plot point somewhere).

Also, what they did with Wonderman was good. I could see him being a villain for a while…

Best part in the episode was Wasp and Thor just making fun of MODOC throughout the entire fight. “It’s like a Frost Giant’s head on an infant’s body.”

I don’t think it would have mattered what kind of lead-in they would have gotten for that pilot, because that first episode was so painfully average it would still have ended up hemmorhaging viewers.

Your world must be so inadequate. I was all set to skip Terriers until I saw an A- review at the AV Club– which actually told me what the show was about– and so I watched it. And it was brilliant. Best dialogue (and delivery thereof) on TV, and a great little twisty plot to the opener.

I can’t wait to buy the DVD set and shelve it next to the rest of Tim Minear’s one season wonders. (And where’s my box set of The Inside, huh Fox?)

Terriers? What’s that? I’m just happy that Fox hasn’t cancelled The Good Guys yet. :)

Thanks for the link to Colin Smith on Geoff Johns. It’s nice to read somebody intelligent taking Johns and “Green Lantern” seriously. Too many people didn’t read “Blackest Night” but dismissed it as typical Johns (which, let me see if I’ve got this right? means fanfic plus gore … plus, in the case of “BN,” zombies).

I haven’t read all three of Colin’s posts that you linked to, just the first, and he’s clearly a fine writer. (Instead of reading all about “BN” tonight, I noodled around to some of his other posts. Now I have a smart new blog to follow — well, new to me.)

Your world must be so inadequate. I was all set to skip Terriers until I saw an A- review at the AV Club– which actually told me what the show was about– and so I watched it. And it was brilliant. Best dialogue (and delivery thereof) on TV, and a great little twisty plot to the opener.

You’re kind of making my point for me here. You had zero interest in it just based on commercials or whatever exposure you did have to it. But you saw a great review at the AV Club, which I’m guessing is a critical source you hold in high esteem. This is similar to what made me watch the show, except my critical source was Alan Sepinwall, another very popular TV critic. I googled the AV Club review of Terriers and just read it. Here’s what jumped out at me:

Terriers was created by Ted Griffin (screenwriter of the Ocean’s Eleven remake) in collaboration with executive producers Shawn Ryan (creator of The Shield) and Tim Minear (one of Joss Whedon’s go-to guys on Buffy, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse). Craig Brewer, director of Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan, directed the pilot, which was written by Griffin. Upcoming episodes were directed by Clark Johnson (former Homicide: Life On The Streets star and one of the best TV directors in the business) Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom, the “Fly” episode of Breaking Bad), John Dahl (Rounders, The Last Seduction, Red Rock West), and other heavyweights. The writing staff includes Ryan, Minear, Griffin, his brother Nicholas (with whom he co-wrote the very good Matchstick Men), and people who’ve worked before on Whedon shows, The Shield, Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars.

The review takes the time to run down the astounding pedigree of the show. Screenwriter of Ocean’s 11, oversight by creator of the Shield, a Joss Whedon protege, directed by the guy who did Hustle and Flow, future involvement from a director from Homicide Life on the Streets, which was created by the creators of the Wire, along with directors and writers from Breaking Bad, The Last Seduction, Rounders, Veronica Mars, all of which have strong critical support and cult fan followings.

This is the point I’ve been making this thread, that most of the people who were able to see the early promise in the show’s first two episodes and stick with the show until it got presumably better were people who read about it in an esteemed critical source (in my case Alan Sepinwall, in your case by your own admission Onion AV Club) and/or were aware of the pedigree (which you apparently were because the Onion AV Club review described said pedigree at length). By your own admission nothing about the show hooked you enough to even become interested enough to tune in UNTIL you became aware of the very two factors I cited as being the main factors responsible for what little ratings the show DOES have, critical acclaim and very good pedigree.

All I’m saying is that even if the show had a huge lead-in and a big audience for its first episode, if most of them weren’t readers of highbrow TV criticism and weren’t previously aware of and excited by the shows pedigree of Shield, Veronica Mars, Buffy, Firefly and Ocean’s 11 creators, their reaction would have been not much different than your initial one: no interest.

Also, I’m not bashing the quality of the overall series. I really believe it may be as great as people say. I don’t doubt it. I’m just talking about the strength of the pilot’s hook amidst a very crowded sea of competitors. Especially for a show dropping in the Fall, where there are a TON of new and returning shows dropping at the same time. Perhaps for a midseason debut people have more patience for a show to grab them with a slow burn, but not in the Fall.

I really like Terriers and the only reason I gave it a shot is because I’m a fan of Donal Logue. The writing is top notch and it really plays into his ability to toss off funny smart-ass lines like it was real dialogue.

Avengers is really the animated show Marvel should have been doing for all these years. It is not quite JLU, but I still enjoy it and love all the different characters they are throwing into the mix.

I really blame the marketing. Yes, it’s called Terriers– which is a fitting title– but filling your promos with shots of dogs instead of telling the audience at home what the show is actually about is going to make them think it’s the Dog Whisperer or something. Instead, some scenes between the two leads, who have electric camaraderie, would have been preferable, to show viewers just who and what it’s about, instead of vague imagery that doesn’t fit the story.

There were promos with scenes of the two leads and their cameraderie before the show first aired. Those were the ads I saw. These ads also mentioned Shawn Ryan’s involvement. The problem was that these ads pretty much captured the pilot episode: a lot of charming banter but nothing we hadn’t seen anywhere else.

The pilot episode, what did it really have? It’s just a noir trope compilation. [SPOILER WARNING]

* Two maverick detectives who don’t follow the rules and rub a lot of authority figures the wrong way? There are tons of movies and shows with that formula, like Tango and Cash
* Working class stiff crime solver fighting an uphill battle against a smug, rich corporate criminal who thinks he’s above the law and is gloating about how untouchable he is? Just saw that this season with Michael Imperioli in Detroit 187
* The wisecracking protagonist with a self-destructive past and an ex-wife who insists on moving on but he’s still madly in love with and who he can’t convince he’s now got his life together? Die hard, Californication, ton of private eye and cop movies
* The murder victim who turns out to not actually be murdered but just in hiding? That twist has been done to death since Otto Preminger’s Laura
* The wisecracking protagonist is always pissing up both the higher up brass in his department as well as the bad guys because he’s such a rulebreaker and is equally flippant and wisecracking to both the good guys and the bad guys? Longstanding noir and action movie trope. Wisecracks not as good as Beverly Hills Cop but they were okay.
* Angry authority figures who want protagonist to steer clear of the case because the target is too rich and powerful to be taken down and there’s not enough proof, badgering him to come clean about what he knows and not “do anything stupid”? Check.
* The only development that caught me off guard as not being a usual noir trope was when they planted the gun on the bad guy, that I can admit.

This review also strikes on similar points about Terriers:

Now the plot itself was pretty ordinary. Logue and his partner are doing menial jobs for menial money then have to track down a missing girl, only it turns out she’s gotten mixed up with a powerful man. It’s classic PI stuff – you can’t get more classic PI stuff than that. But as soon as she turned up, it became apparent that she was about 10 million times more interesting than the main characters, which really put things into focus and made me realise why I was bored and uninvolved with the show: the characters just aren’t interesting and despite its alleged comedy-drama status, it’s also not very funny.

Shabby private detective, former cop, down on his luck, has a rocky relationship with his ex-wife and a drink problem: I have seen this character. You’ve seen this character. This character is everywhere. There is literally nothing more than can be said about this character. He cannot be made interesting. Make it a woman and we might be getting somewhere, but it’s not – it’s a guy failing and eeking out an existence while solving crimes.

Done.

Old partner who’s still on the force and has to chew on something other than a cigarette because he’s giving them up? Seen it.

Ex wife who’s trying to move on, but still friends with the detective? Seen it.

There’s nothing new here. With some more interesting characters, particularly female characters, this could have been a good show, but unfortunately, it just isn’t at the moment. So despite the obvious talent that’s gone into the script, it’s a shame to have to say that Terriers is so subdued, low key and unexciting, that despite the ongoing story arc – which does at least promise things might get better – as well as the decent scripting in the other areas, I’m not recommending this. I’ll still watch it to see if it gets better, but honestly I don’t think it will.

People love to blame the marketing when they’re favorite show, but there were ads showing the two leads and their chemistry, not just ads of barking terriers. I recall seeing them while watching Louie on FX. The big problem was a pilot that was full of “been there, done that” elements. That alone is not bad, but when it’s someone’s first time watching your show, you better execute them very well if you want to make them invest in future episodes. Terriers pilot just did these tropes decently and straightforward, not exceptionally.

Even if the marketing was just okay, if it started out strong out the gate with a great pilot, word of mouth could really have helped it improve in ratings. I’ve read synposes of later episodes, and it seems like the show did get a lot more interesting later on. But I’m sure many people checked out by then.

Abhay Khosia is the worst! Stop promoting him!

Abhay’s the best!

His skewerings of Countdown to Infinite Crisis and the John Rogers Blue Beetle books were great.

Abhay has already earned a lifetime pass for Abhay’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

I saw every episode of Louie and caught quite a few promos, but I didn’t even know Donal Logue was in the show until it started airing. What I like about the series is that it does take your usual genre or dramatic tropes, but it goes in different directions with them, and never takes the easy way out.

FX did start airing promos other than a dog on a beach…about two weeks before the series started.

And, then we got the “we’ll jump down, turn around, pick a bail a cotton if you pay us enough” ad that ran on the regular and maybe a couple others.

The first taste of the show, though? The first tease? The thing meant to garner initial interest? Shots of a dog that doesn’t even appear in the series.

Everyone I’ve spoken to the show about offline has had no idea what the premise of the show is supposed to be. “The dog thing, right?” “Oh, it’s not actually about a dog?” “Then, why’s it called…?” “Then, why were the ads…?”

It was a terrible marketing effort, and a network exec really should’ve pushed to retitle the show.

FX may’ve learned its lesson, though. The promos for the new boxing drama, Lights Out, have featured boxing from the start. Not, say, a light switch being flicked off.

Of course the marketing was the biggest problem with Terriers. FX has admitted that they screwed up with the vague promos and the stupid name, which is why they have been extremely upfront with their new show about the boxer. Note, the ratings for Terriers sucked RIGHT AWAY. They were a third of the ratings of Justified’s premiere. That has nothing to do with what anyone thought of the pilot.

Of course the marketing was the biggest problem with Terriers. FX has admitted that they screwed up with the vague promos and the stupid name, which is why they have been extremely upfront with their new show about the boxer. Note, the ratings for Terriers sucked RIGHT AWAY. They were a third of the ratings of Justified’s premiere. That has nothing to do with what anyone thought of the pilot.

I’m not saying the marketing was great. I’m saying even with great marketing I’m pretty sure it would have hemmorhaged a big initial audience anyway. If you search the blogosphere, and not blogs where viewers are very versed in TV pedigrees but blogs that are read by your average, everyday TV viewer, most agreed the pilot was boring or just average or decent.

Note that all the critics who gave it rave reviews did so because they got screeners that included FIVE EPISODES. But when I read TV blogs written by people who didn’t get five episodes but instead only saw the pilot, the reviews were often lukewarm, like this:
http://www.examiner.com/tv-in-baltimore/tv-review-fx-s-terriers-season-1-pilot

I’m not defending the marketing. Sure it could have been a lot better. But to pretend that the creators didn’t screw up royally by having a boring, cliched pilot isn’t doing anyone any favors either.

I’m not saying the marketing was great. I’m saying even with great marketing I’m pretty sure it would have hemmorhaged a big initial audience anyway.

LESS THAN A THIRD of the premiere of Justified.

There is no point in discussing what people thought of the premiere when the show was screwed from the word go. It actually has the same basic percentage drop from debut to the end of the season (both shows lost about half of their premiere audience) that Justified did, it just started out at a much worse point. That’s on the marketing. Discussing whatever faults you felt the premiere had is like trying to close the barn door after the horse bolted.

The fact that FX screwed up so badly is really the only thing the show has going for it (well, that, and Shawn Ryan), as you figure they must feel a bit badly about how they handled things (and figure that if they handle it better in season 2, the ratings will be better).

LESS THAN A THIRD of the premiere of Justified.

I’m not denying the marketing sucked. I’m just saying that fans of this show are deluding themselves to think the fault lies solely with the marketing.

Go online on blogs, not blogs of highbrow reviewers like Onion AV Club and NY Times TV and Alan Sepinwall or this site, where the reviewers saw 5 episodes and have a strong following among their highbrow readership. I’m talking the TV blogs the Joe Average reads, the type of casual viewer needed to make a show a bona fide hit rather than a niche following. Many of these type of viewers were vocal all over the internet about how boring and cliched the early episodes of Terriers are.

There is no point in discussing what people thought of the premiere when the show was screwed from the word go.

There’s plenty of reason to discuss what people thought about the premiere, because it helps you analyze where to go strategywise to fix it. For example once FX acknowledged their marketing sucked, which to their credit they did admit, they went on damage control to try to fix it. They changed commercials and tried to remedy the problem by rerunning the pilot a few times to get more eyes for it, and other tactics to make up for their bad early promotions. None of it took, because it’s just a boring pilot.

So to me, and viewers like sackett and his wife in this comments section who had similar experiences to what I did, the key is not to keep rerunning the pilot or swearing to people that it’s good, they should instead focus on getting the message out that the show drastically improves from the early episodes.

It actually has the same basic percentage drop from debut to the end of the season (both shows lost about half of their premiere audience) that Justified did, it just started out at a much worse point.

That can be interpreted many ways. To me the similar ratings drop doesn’t mean that Terriers was doing something right contentwise, it just tells me that Justified was doing something wrong contentwise as well. If you lose half of your audience from a premiere within 6 episodes, you’re not hooking people, plain and simple. Which is my point, it’s more than the marketing.

Donal Logue and his costar have recently been touring the country stumping for the survival of the show at college campuses, both building awareness, screening episodes and most importantly getting feedback from people.

Here are some notable things Logue had to say after doing the tour:

http://www.stltoday.com/entertainment/television/gail-pennington/article_7b058c70-fecc-5977-bfc4-3dfe93555d96.html

“We got positive reviews,” he said. “Lots of them were really enthusiastic. But the audience just didn’t show up.”

Asked whether the title might have led people to think it was a show about dogs, Logue said confusion might have played a part.

“Maybe with a different title, ratings would have been marginally better,” he said.

He also wonders whether the fairly light premiere episode, coupled with promotion that suggested “Terriers” would be a goofy buddy comedy, had turned off the FX faithful, who expect and appreciate such gritty fare as “Sons of Anarchy.”

And also:

They’re both justifiably proud of the work they’ve done on ‘Terriers,’ which combines character drama and a twisty, evocative film noir feel in a fresh and compelling way. But the actors are both quick to recognize that the complicated, emotionally nuanced episodes airing now are tonally different than the ‘Terriers’ pilot, which had a breezier vibe and might have given people the wrong impression of of what the show’s about.

http://www.tvsquad.com/2010/10/20/talking-terriers-with-donal-logue-and-michael-raymond-james/

This is straight from the actors themselves, AFTER touring the country screening episodes for Joe Average, college student, and getting feedback from them. Come on, even the actual actors are admitting it’s not just the marketing, and they’re admitting it after actually screening episodes and getting direct feedback from fans in person.

It’s just a noir trope compilation.

You guys are having so much fun with the marketing thing that I hesitate to even bring this up… but you say that like it’s a BAD thing.

See, I think there are quite a few of us that like the idea of “classic, done well.” Hell, the majority of us here are big superhero fans, a genre that’s pretty much built on “the same, only different.” i don’t particularly need it to be innovative. I just need it to be good.

You guys are having so much fun with the marketing thing that I hesitate to even bring this up… but you say that like it’s a BAD thing.

See, I think there are quite a few of us that like the idea of “classic, done well.” Hell, the majority of us here are big superhero fans, a genre that’s pretty much built on “the same, only different.” i don’t particularly need it to be innovative. I just need it to be good.

I’ve address your exact point in my earlier comments actually. Later in the comment you’re quoting, I said:

That alone is not bad, but when it’s someone’s first time watching your show, you better execute them very well if you want to make them invest in future episodes. Terriers pilot just did these tropes decently and straightforward, not exceptionally.

I agree that recycling tropes is not always bad, so long as you do it well. My point is that the pilot episode DIDN’T do it well, it just did it decently. Good enough that I could watch the whole thing, but not good enough that I’d be compelled to return. I only watched the second episode because of the pedigree.

What I’m saying is, I like “classic, done well.” I just think the pilot was “classic, done competently but unremarkably.” I have heard that the later episodes did indeed turn into “classic, done well.”

I’m talking the TV blogs the Joe Average reads

If Joe Average is going to read TV review sites, I would think Sepinwall and the AV Club would be some of the obvious choices.

But what I’m really saying is, T’s crazy. Those early episodes were the business. And the later episodes are more boss than Danza and Springsteen combined.

Hey! This is a comics blog – Talk about pro wrestling!

;-)

Terriers is great. But it was doomed from the start. Hell, let’s start with the name they gave it. It doesn’t pop in any way or sell the show. With all the different crap that makes it to air these days, you’d think it was a reality show about a pet grooming establishment. You need to pick a name that fits better.

And, contrary to current theories above, the On Demand viewing doesn’t factor into FX’s decision making process on this. That’s straight from @shawnryantv on Twitter.

This show might sadly be gone after one season, despite being one of the best hour longs to hit the small screen in the last 5-10 years.

Oh, and I completely agree on marketing being the problem, even beyond the name of the show. The promos were incredibly vague, just as Cronin says. If not for the fact that I was following Shawn Ryan on Twitter already, I might have missed this show completely.

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives