LB: Second Thoughts About THE CLOSER

by Larry Brody

Yesterday I complained about one of my no-longer-favorite shows, THE CLOSER. I was pretty steamed, and said the following:

…[A] week ago the series came back after a hiatus with a much altered Brenda. A cruel, abusive bitch who was perfectly willing to sacrifice a rape victim’s sanity to get her man.  The Southern charm which sheathed the character’s iron will for so long is gone.  And the iron will is a barbed, pointy razor. It looks like the show is headed for an ending (it’s going off the air at the end of the season) in which Brenda is fired/humiliated/possibly even jailed. As well she should be.

Last night, in spite of my good (or were they bad?) intentions, I watched the next episode, and…erm…um…it wasn’t so bad.

That is, it was bad, but in a classic TV cop show/procedural kind of way: A comedy episode featuring Flynn and Provenza, TNT’s answer to Laurel and Hardy, that went way over the top, bending real reality,  TV reality, and even THE CLOSER’s specific reality in more ways than Hugh Laurie used to violate the Hippocratic Oath on HOUSE.

Which means…sigh…I loved it.

Who cares about overcooked dialog and overwrought acting from an incredibly hammy guest star? What matters is that the basic feeling, the camaraderie that has been an integral part of the series since Episode 1 was back with a vengeance. And I appreciate vengeance. In fact, some of the most enjoyable moments of my life have occurred while exacting it–

 Oops. TMI. So sorry.

To cut to the chase – which the episode I just watched didn’t have – I’ve decided to forgive and forget. To cut Kyra and her support troops (she’s the Executive Producer, you know, which makes her the best-looking showrunner in town) more than the usual slack and watch the remaining three or four episodes. If I’m lucky, Evil Brenda will fulfill her arc with me understanding/empathizing instead of hating her…and there will be more hilariously out of place moments between Flynn and Provenza, and maybe even Provenza’s wonderfully  real (especially considering the script circumstances) First Ex-Wife.

Another Thought to Tack On: Like any True Fan, I’ve been trying to figure out who the mole in Brenda’s Major Crimes Division is. Until now, I was absolutely certain that we would learn it was none other than Chief Pope, who’s been sabotaging Brenda ever since she entered the race for L.A.P.D. Chief.

I’m no longer so sure, though, because Sgt.Gabriel, usually the primo of her detectives and the one who gets the most lines/face time, has had absolutely nothing to do and almost nothing to say in both recent episodes. Why play him down unless it’s to make it easier – structurally -to do a big and heartbreaking end-of-series reveal? He is, after all, the most idealistic of all the cops here, which makes him the one most likely to react to Brenda’s fascist pig (just a generational reference, kids; you can ignore it) the way I would – which is to say to do everything in his power, no matter how much he likes her, to get her to stop.

We’ll see in a few weeks.

Unless the show drives me nuts again and I go away.

SOLVED: The Mystery of “Galactus is NIGH”

A TVWriter™ Exclusive!

Monday we posted about a Facebook page called “Galactus is NIGH, which had “almost 300 pics” of Comic-Con cosplayers holding up signs about an impending world-eating disaster, ending with the heartwrenching plea, “So if anyone knows anything about this…let us in on it, okay?”

(FTR: As of this writing there are almost 400 such pics on the site.)

Well, today our crack staff of investigative journalists is proud to bring you the answer, direct from the mouth of our new friend, Alfredo, who’s entirely responsible for the weekend panic in San Diego’s normally too-crowded-to-move streets. In his own writ:

The idea of the sign GALACTUS IS NIGH came from the comic book WATCHMEN. In the comic Rorschach carries around a sign that says THE END IS NIGH, and I was thinking what else brings the end, Galactus from the marvel universe. So I combined both ideas and that’s how I came up with the sign.

I was aware of the other protesters with the FEAR GOD signs, but my sign was not created to counter their signs, well not at first. I created my sign because I didn’t have a costume that year. I had my camera with me and I wanted to take pictures of cosplayers, but if I showed my friends the pictures they wouldn’t believe that I took t[them], so as proof I asked the cosplayers if they would hold the sign. And when I got home I wanted to put the pictures on Facebook, but I took so many picture I wanted more than my friends to see them.

So I created the page. And this was all on Thursday, the first day of comic con.

In other words, Alfredo e-mailed us when he heard we were sleuthing, saving TVWriter™ a whole lot of time and expense (and possibly a little fun too, dammit!) while proving he’s a good guy.

Thank you, Alfredo, for allowing the world to breathe a sigh of relief because Galactus isn’t really coming after all, whew, praise de Lawd, and all that good stuff. ‘Cuz we were really worried there for a minute. Especially LB, who, when he was writing-producing primetime cop shows was always getting in trouble because real life idiots copied his characters’ crimes – and was worried that now it was Galactus marching to his TV tune. Or, as LB told us:

“The signals from our old THE SILVER SURFER animated series have been traveling through space for about 15 years now, and I kept thinking, “What if they worm-holed their way to Galactus? What if he was on the way to earth to copycat the episode where he almost ate us How would I ever be able to live with the guilt?”

Um, sorry, Lar, but that guilt thingie was the least you’d have to concern yourself with, know what we mean?

So our lives remain unthreatened and all is well. But, just to be on the safe side, y’all, maybe you shouldn’t forget to “Watch the skies.”

Erm, looks like we can forget the skies and concentrate on something closer to home…

LB: Three Shows I No Longer Watch

by Larry Brody

NETWORK’s Howard Beale, the spokesman character for writer Paddy Chayefsky,  famously said, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore.” I’m not mad, or even angry, but I am frustrated by some recent viewing experiences, so I’m not taking it anymore either.

In particular, three TV series that I thought would serve me well have committed the cardinal sin of irking me to  the point of no return:

  1. THE NEWSROOM
    Yep, this bouncing new baby, which just a few weeks ago I saw as so full of promise, is history to me now. Why? Because I just plain can’t believe in the reality of the characters any longer.Specifically, the three main leads, whose character names I have erased from my mind.An idealistic anchorman willing to go to the wall to prove to his former girlfriend (his producer) that she should’ve stayed his adoring babe? An idealistic “modern woman” news producer whose eyes bug out with jealousy every time said anchorman shows her his latest date? A major cable station News Director who cares more about informing the public than ratings and is clueless about how to manipulate his bosses so he gets what he wants?Every one of those characters is impossible in today’s TV news culture. I appreciate the show’s intentions, but I’m out.
  2. THE CLOSER
    For years this show has featured a protagonist, whose name, Brenda Leigh, I do remember because, hey, shoot me, but I like country music, who fascinated me. She was an idealistic assistant police chief  so dedicated to putting bad guys away that she wheedled and lied not only to her  boss but also to her husband and herself. I could  identify with that kind of self-delusion.  Simple as that. But about a week ago the series came back after a hiatus with a much altered Brenda. A cruel, abusive bitch who was perfectly willing to sacrifice a rape victim’s sanity to get her man.  The Southern charm which sheathed the character’s iron will for so long is gone.  And the iron will is a barbed, pointy razor. It looks like the show is headed for an ending (it’s going off the air at the end of the season) in which Brenda is fired/humiliated/possibly even jailed. As well she should be.If the show intends to show that its lead has crossed the line and become a baddy herself, that’ll be pretty damn cool. But the attitude in the writing suggests that those running it think she’s justified and is getting a raw deal.  So I’m out for now. (But willing to return if they cook her goose to my taste by the finale.)
  3. EUREKA
    This show was a lighthearted science fiction romp every year of its existence – except this one. I watched it for the  “family,” the banter and generally warm relationships between the leads. This season, however, the ties between everyone I cared about have constantly been in  jeopardy, and the unconvincing suspense has  pushed me away from  the series just as the gimmicky dangers have pushed the characters apart.To be sure, the finale tied up everything and brought everyone back together. But it wasn’t merely the end of a season, it was the end of the series, which means the audience isn’t going to get a chance to enjoy the result. As a writer and producer, I’m all for the idea of making things as tough as possible on my heroes – but as a viewer I hated experiencing it. In other words, I’m a wuss.  Shoot me again.

Sheesh, am I am old crank, or what? What about you? Have any of your favorite shows disappointed you lately? How much? Are you still watching them?  I look forward to your comments.

EDITED TO ADD: Speaking of comments, io9 has a very interesting review of the  EUREKA finale. And even though it’s directly the opposite of mine, I found myself nodding in agreement as I read. WTF?

LB: Another Goal I Haven’t Reached

by Larry Brody

Lovely Literary Art Prints That Feature Quotes By Famous Authors
by Rusty Blazenhoff

New York-based illustrator Evan Robertson of Obvious State has created a line of lovely literary art giclée prints that feature quotes from authors like Hunter S. Thompson, Kurt Vonnegut, Ernest Hemingway, and more. They are currently available to purchase at Fab.

Read it all

No, I never aspired to being someone who was quoted on a lovely literary art print. But I did hope that by now I’d be a Famous Author.

Lots more art prints and quotes at the link above. And, to quote the most famous author of all – Anonymous – “Wait till next year.”

And TVWriter™s Most Popular Feature is…

by Larry Brody

So there I was this morning, excited because our TVWriter™ site stats showed that we’re gaining visitors daily, constantly reaching new highs.

“Way to go, Brode,” I said to myself. “The revamp’s a big success. Looks like we’re doing it right.”

Then I took a closer look at the numbers. Here’s what I saw:

The post that had put us over the top was this one, and the “Got ya!” is the post isn’t really what did it. It was people searching for and then clicking on the pic above. One-third of our visitors have been coming here just to look at Brad Pitt’s bod.

Let me say that number again: $#@! one – $#@! third!

We love all our visitors, don’t get me wrong, but this is, you know, a site about television writing in particular and the television biz in general. And I was kind of hoping that our enhanced traffic had, well, something to do with the topic.

Oh, LB, so young, so pure, so delusional…

Don’t worry. I won’t let this get to me. TVWriter™ will continue to present the most information about TV writing and the TV biz we can in the most entertaining way it can. But I’m thinking that now that I have this new insight into what attracts eyeballs there must be some way to make it work even better for us.

Maybe we should insert this pic into every article. What do you think? In a corner, like this:

Look, ma! Brad Pitt! In Fight Club! Half nekkid!

Nah. There’s something about this that’s just not quite right.

Still. Increased traffic = increased potential for actually attracting advertising which means that we could eventually make the site and its classes and contests better than over. Should ethics get in the way of that? Isn’t there some virtue – just a little – to the idea that “the end justifies the means?”

Hmm…

Aha! I’ve got it!

If Brad packs ’em in, what’ll Angelina do?