And the Dullest New Series for 2012 is…

Never fearing to go where both angels and wiseguys wise men fear to tread, here’s our pick of the series most likely to be dumped earliest when the Fall, 2012 TV season begins:

Yes! It’s NBC’s GUYS WITH KIDS because:

  1. It’s NBC
  2. It’s guys with kids
  3. It exists only to satisfy that colossal talent Jimmy Fallon, who seems to own the damn thing
  4. Look at the picture

We rest our case.

CBS’s Sherlock Holmes Looks Pretty Good

…at least according to TVLine.Com. And you know they have no reason to go along with the CBS party line. Well, no more reason than any site that wants access to things in, hip, and trendy on our dearly beloved toob.

Fall TV First Impression: CBS’ Elementary Finds a Holmes in New York City
by Matt Webb Mitovich

THE SHOW | CBS’ Elementary (Thursdays, 10/9c)

THE COMPETITION | Scandal (ABC), It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia/The League (FX), Rock Center With Brian Williams (NBC)

THE CAST | Jonny Lee Miller (Eli Stone), Lucy Liu (Southland) and Aidan Quinn (Prime Suspect)

THE SET-UP | Miller, here getting to keep his British accent, is Sherlock Holmes, a onetime homicide detective for Scotland Yard and recovering addict now serving as a consultant for the NYPD. Liu plays Joan Watson, a surgeon-turned-sober companion hired by Holmes’ father to keep him away from his smack of choice, while Quinn is Sherlock’s police liaison, Capt. Tobias “Toby” Gregson.

THE FIRST IMPRESSION | With Sherlock currently wowing the crowds on BBC One (and Stateside via PBS), the challenge for CBS was to cook up its own take on the iconic sleuth, ergo the NYC trappings and the gender switch for his No. 1. And while Miller’s Sherlock is every bit as cocksure and brusque as the one played by Benedict Cumberbatch across the pond (or Robert Downey Jr.’s big-screen incarnation), that doesn’t make his performance any less entertaining. (That said, while plenty colorful — and plentifully tattooed — he comes off as perhaps 20 percent less “alien” than Sherlock‘s Holmes.)

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Here’s how we look at it:

  1. While the world may not, in fact, need yet another version of the World’s Greatest Detective (sorry, Batman), we’re always happy to get us some more Lucy Lie
  2. If TVWriter™ was a kinder, gentler site would we be invited to inside screenings or get sent screeners so we could lord it over mere mortals?
  3. If TVWriter™ was a kinder, gentler site getting special treatment, would we in fact be able to live with ourselves?
  4. Yes, we could endure the special treatment. But nope, being kinder and gentler would be fatal to our narcissistic self-esteem. (Just as it would be to, you know, Ben’s, Bobby’s, and probably Johnny’s Holmes.)

Hart of Dixie Pilot – Recap and Review

By Anthony Medina

**This episode originally aired in September 2011. If you are unfamiliar with the series, be aware this review contains spoilers.**

“Could you get me a venti soy latte so I don’t fatigue?” – Dr. Zoe Hart

Ever find yourself wishing the OC would come back on the air?

Didn’t think so. But like it or not, Summer Roberts has made her triumphant return as a big city doctor in a small town practice. Her name may be Zoe now, but we all know it’s really Summer under that stethoscope. Can I get an Amen?

No? Well, alright then.

We open on a bus headed towards Blue Bell Alabama. The voice over introduces us to Dr. Zoe Hart (Rachel Bilson), a wannabe cardiothoracic surgeon, who has left her old life behind and is moving to the Heart of Dixie (get it?!) to work in a private practice. We’re given a flashback to her graduation ceremony, where she proudly delivers the commencement address. Afterwards, a kindly and somewhat creepy old man approaches and offers her a job as a general practitioner in Blue Bell. She politely turns it down and explains she already has her plans figured out. She has an amazing boyfriend and is well on her way to becoming a kickass heart surgeon. But just as everything is coming together, everything falls apart. Her longtime boyfriend breaks up with her and she’s denied her fellowship because she views patients as puzzles and not people. With her plans in ruin, she decides to take up the kindly (or was it creepy?) old man’s offer and moves to Alabama.

When she reaches Blue Bell, we’re introduced to a slew of colorful characters. From a good looking lawyer, to a former football star turned mayor. There’s even a high strung Southern Bell that clashes almost immediately with our fancy New York girl. Some stuff happens, then other stuff happens. Everyone hates her so she decides to leave. Then, she finds out the creepy (or was it kindly?) old man was really her long lost father, so she stays. And then it’s over.

Now, I’m sure many of you out there think you know what this show is all about before even watching a single scene. Some cutsie little dramedy without one ounce of originality or depth. Well, to you cynical TV watchers out there, I have only one thing to say! Obviously, you’re absolutely right. But, that doesn’t mean this an automatic “skip”.

I’m not so naive as to pretend this show is some little gem you’ll all love. From a purely objective point of view, this show is below average in just about every category. The acting is mediocre, the fish out of water angle is trite and uninteresting, the dialogue is embarrassingly corny and every joke is basically “HEY, I’M NOT FROM HERE!” But, with that being said, Rachel Bilson is too damn cute to hate. Subjective and superficial praise to be sure, but I calls em like I see em.

If you’re able to give yourself into this show, it will basically cradle you in its arms, pat your head, and tell you everything is going to be alright. It’s a fluffy white cloud with no real substance. But what can I say, it has a certain charm I just can’t ignore.

This show is everything I was worried it would be, but I didn’t come away hating it. It’s sweet and utterly predictable. There are worse things you could do with an hour.

 

Bill Cosby & Other Famous Monsters of TV Land

by Larry Brody

My hero who doesn’t know I’m alive strikes again:

Bill Cosby: mentor?
by Ken Levine

I’ve always been a big fan of Bill Cosby. Loved his comedy albums as a kid, took my wife to Las Vegas to see his stand-up act…and admired THE COSBY SHOW (at least when it started). He was a true original and his comedy came out of reality. You laughed because you related. He was also a damn good spokesman for Jello. So I respect his work. We’re clear on that, right?

Recently, WRITTEN BY, the WGA’s monthly magazine did an article where they referred to Bill Cosby as a writer’s mentor. I think they were being a little overly generous. I wouldn’t call him a mentor.

I’d call him an egotist who worked his writers as if they were pack mules.

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In this blog post based on the Written By article he cites, Ken Levine translates the facts, which the magazine presents in the same light Doris Day used to be photographed in once upon a time, into hard truth. Bill Cosby’s work habits make him into a classic example of a boss who had absolutely no respect for the writers he worked with. None. Zero. Zilch.

But I think it’s important to know that Cos isn’t standing alone in his Vile Boss costume. Nor is this kind of behavior limited to powerful actors. Although throughout my career I’ve had many mentors, none of them were the guys who ran the shows. The showrunners – who in those days were called simply Executive Producers or, in one case, Studio Heads – were for the most part monsters, pure and simple.

David Gerber, who ran Columbia Pictures Television back in the day, was a bully who not only yelled but physically threatened writers. I had to hit the gym and build up my body just so I could withstand the cross body blocks he threw at me in the halls everyday.

Roy Huggins, whose characters (remember Maverick, anyone?) were known for their relaxed, easy charm, was a martinet who would summon in a writer and then go quickly (so quickly it was impossible to follow what he was saying) word by word through a script he’d covered with scribbled notes and throw each page on the floor when he finished it. Well, not just on the floor, all over the floor. And at the end of the meeting he would order the writer to scramble around on hands and knees and pick up the pages and take them home so he or she didn’t miss any of the criticisms.

Jay Bernstein, known more for his explosive temper and expertise as a P.R. man and personal manager than for his writer-producer skills, couldn’t read. When he ran MIKE HAMMER, he would have various actors and actresses act out the writers’ drafts for him in his office, promising them parts in the episode as payment. And then making the writers write in new characters and scenes for his helpers to perform in. Characters and scenes that later were cut out.

Even My Favorite Boss Who Shall Be Anonymous Because I’ve Always Had A Great  (and perverse) Affection For Him, did his best to humble the writers we worked with. A favorite trick was to read only the first and last 5 pages of a writer’s script and use everything he could find there to demonstrate how utterly inadequate the whole draft was. At the end of that meeting, he’d come up with an entirely different story – I mean so different you couldn’t even use the same characters – and demand a new, fully completed draft the first thing the next morning, although he wouldn’t be in the office until later in the day.

I’ve always envied the writers I knew who missed most of the egotists and tyrants who kept me fit and trim, and wished I had their luck in the draw. But whenever I start feeling sorry for myself, I let the memories flood me, and instead of drowning I inevitably start to laugh. Mentors are wonderful. We need all the help we can get. But for great mind-bending, hair-raising stories, you can’t beat a good monster. They’ll make you the life of the party every time.

More Writerly Advice

Not the writer of this article

A Month of Revision
by Matthew Salesses

I am amazed that the good and wise Steve Himmer has let me have the run of the place for a month. I am going to mess this house up and only talk about how to clean it. For July, I have decided to play History. I have decided to launch a war on first drafts and erect the memorial to edits. Revision is where we do our most important work as writers, or at least where we can. And yet, for as much as we love and hate it, for as much as we talk about it, we don’t really talk about it. (See: What We Talk About When We Talk About Revision, which I’ve revised right out of this introduction.) I want that to change. I want us to teach revision up front when we teach writing, to demystify it, to make it the first thought rather than all reaction. One downside of workshops—which I love, don’t get me wrong—is that we only address the issues that come up. I think we can offer tips and strategies and experience and frustration from the beginning. I think we can say, this is where we’re going, and this is how we can make sure we get there.

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According to his website, “Matthew Salesses is the author of a novella, The Last Repatriate (Nouvella Books), as well as two chapbooks, Our Island of Epidemics (PANK) and We Will Take What We Can Get (Publishing Genius)…He received his MFA from Emerson College…and now serves as Fiction Editor and a columnist for the Good Men Project.” So he must know his shit.

Actually, he does. Everything he writes here is absolutely true. Even if you’ve read it in other forms before.

Also not the writer of this article