Munchman’s Latest TV Musings

Munchman’s TV Musings #4

  1. Marti Noxon, an incredibly overrated writer for the even more incredibly overrated series Buffy the Vampire Slayer is turning Dietland, a novel by Sarai Walker, into a series for AMC because the world definitely needs more “coming-of-age” “revenge fantasy” storylines that mock fashion, fat, and, yeppers, skinniness too. Yer Fantastic Flying Munchman knows what this book’s all about, munchacolytes because he’s actually read the damn thing. And near broke me Kindle in the agonizing process.
  2. OTOH, there is a God after all, and the fact that Jennifer Lopez is going to star in a live version of Bye Bye Birdie on NBC in the deliriously welcome year of 2017 (cuz it absolutely has to be better than 2016, yeah?). What’s that? You never heard of Bye Bye Birdie? Well, it was a ’60s Broadway (and beyond, just like the bath store) musical based on how stupid small towns, teenagers, their parents, and Elvis Presley the Thin at That Time all were. It ain’t much of a show, truth be told, but holy crappoly! it has fucking Jennifer fucking Lopez playing Rosie, who captured a thousand and one ’60s geeks hearts by being mature, sexy as all hell and having only one wonderful goal in life – “to be an English teacher’s wife.” Yeah, baby!
  3. Moving back to derivative dark-sidedness, Netflix is unleashing a series called 3% on us even as munchola types this. This vileness masquerading as social satire is a reboot of a 2011 web series that itself was remarkably similar to a certain film franchise starring Jennifer Lawrence as a combination of a blond Raquel Welch (or maybe Jennifer Lopez) and Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood. I absolutely guarantee that the show’s going to be a mess. Instead of being “in like Flynn” (a historical reference definitely worth checking out), 3% is more out like, oh, how about gout (a medical reference you can ask your grandfather about)?
  4. Then there’s the semi-annual Knight Rider reboot, brought to us this time around by Justin Lin and NBC/Universal Brand Development. The name of the production entity pretty much tells us how the creators visualize it – as another vehicle (get it?) for merchandising more crap to “a new generation of fans.” Oh well, it’s bound to be better than the Team Knight Rider sequel series, right? What? Ya never heard of that one? Proves my point!
  5. Have you heard the joke about fan fave Bryan Fuller “stepping down” as showrunner of the upcoming Star Trek Beyond? The funny thing about this situation is that CBS is merrily reassuring all and sundry that Fuller’s departure won’t diminish the new series in anyway while simultaneously announcing that his duties will be picked up by Alex Kurtzman, whose perspective, taste, and talent totally eviscerated the ST film franchise. Wham! Bam! “No deep thoughts or ideas, please, we’re too busy keeping things moving, moving, moving.” In the words of Mel Brooks, who would be a better showrunner than Kurtzman or just about anybody else, “Oy vay!”

That’s it for this week. I’ve got a terrible, tasteless, but shockingly popular web series to get back to work on, but I promise – I’ll seeya next time with more TV joy!

Indie TV: “Mute” Episodes are Little Slices of Brilliance

Andy Lambert, the genius behind Mute, a series of 12 very short films that perfectly capture the kinds of moments too many major filmmakers have forgotten exist in our lives, can’t be praised highly enough. These “episodes” are true, funny, poignant, meaningful.

We love ’em!

And urge ye to make thy way to the Mute website so you can love ’em too!

Time to Enter the WGAW’s Writer Access Project

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Attention WGAW members!

LB recently got the following message from that self same organization, AKA The Writers Guild of America West, with valuable info y’all ought to be knowing…and, more important, acting upon. So, with no further ado:

Dear WGAW Member:

If you are a member in Current or Post-Current status and fall into one of the following categories – Minority, Women, LGBT, Writers 55+ and Writers with Disabilities – you are invited to submit your original television pilot or spec script to the 2016/2017 TV Writer Access Project. The deadline for submissions is Friday, November 18, 2016, at 6:00 p.m.

Now in its eighth year, the TV Writer Access Project seeks to assist diverse mid-level television writers, including TV movie writers, in gaining access to employment. A significant number of writers selected as honorees have been staffed at various levels – which is extremely encouraging. Each year, the Diversity Department along with the TV Writer Access Project Advisory Group fine tunes the program to assist the selected honorees in gaining accessibility to showrunners, executives and agents during staffing season. If you have submitted in the past we encourage you to do so again.

Honorees will be offered a five-week seminar series with showrunners to prepare for staffing season.

You can access the guidelines, application and release form at:
http://www.wga.org/tvwap

Please call or e-mail the Diversity Department if you have any questions about the application process at: 323-782-4589 or diversity@wga.org.

Tery Lopez
Director of Diversity

MORE INFO HERE

‘Designated Survivor’ a hit for ABC

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by Doug Snauffer

ABC’s new political thriller Designated Survivor looked like one of the more intriguing new shows coming to TV this season.  The network promised a compelling series that would tap into our fears regarding terrorism and examine what we as a country look for and need in a leader.

Personally I’m also a fan of Kiefer Sutherland and was happy to see him back on TV.  The concept behind Designated Survivor plays out like the type of scenario that counter-terrorism agent Jack Bauer worked to foil each season on 24.  It’s as if we’re getting a look at what might have occurred if Jack hadn’t been so good at his job.

Of course, Jack Bauer would have made a much better president than Sutherland’s character in Designated Survivor.  Here he plays Tom Kirkland, a low-level politician who inherits the office of President after a bomb explodes during the State of the Union Address, effectively wiping out the nation’s political hierarchy.

Tom had been appointed the ‘designated survivor’ and was sequestered away by the Secret Service, watching on TV as the horrific events played out.  He was then whisked away to the White House and unceremoniously sworn in as the new President of the United States, the most powerful man on the planet.

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‘Designated Survivor’ Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) is sworn in as president of the United States after a bomb wipes out the entire political hierarchy.

Now, I’m not sure how a designated survivor is actually chosen, but if this TV series is any indication, it’s not done very logically.  Tom doesn’t come across as being forceful or overly capable.  He was a bespectacled paper-pusher whom the Secret Service had designated “Glasses.”  And evidently he wasn’t very good at that, seeing that the President was about to fire him.

Perhaps someone owed Tom a favor.  It does present the show with the opportunity to follow an underdog as he rises to a challenge.  In this case, Tom Kirkman has to hold the country together and track down those responsible for the bombing, while continuing to project a strong image both at home and abroad.

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Acting U.S.President Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) cleaned up and dressed for success.

Tom’s wife Alex (Natascha McElhone) is an attorney, a strong woman who seems to have more faith in her husband than he has in himself.  It’s still to be seen how she’ll perform in the role of First Lady.  I see her as a combination of Jackie Kennedy and Hillary Clinton.

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Alex Kirkman (Natascha McElhone) watches as her husband Tom (Kiefer Sutherland) is sworn in as Acting U.S. President.

The show failed, however, with the character of Leo Kirkman (Tanner Buchanan), Tom and Alex’s rebellious 16-year-old son.  After the bombing, the Secret Service began sesrching for Leo and found him selling drugs in a local nightclub.  (I don’t understand the need for network dramas to continually go the dysfunctional family route.)  Then there’s younger daughter Penny (Mckenna Grace), who appears more stable.  Of course she still hasn’t realized the seriousness of all that’s happened.

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The First Children, Leo (Tanner Buchanan) and Penny Kirkman (McKenna Grace).

Tom is frequently challenged by General Harris Cochrane (Kevin McNally), who has no confidence in his new commander in chief.  The General’s apprehension at answering to Tom is perfectly understandable, so it wasn’t necessary to write the character as a loud, war-crazed, one-dimensional stereotype.

The rest of the staff is often just as cliched:  Seth Wright (Kal Penn) is the new presidential speechwriter, initially a skeptic, but now one of Tom’s closest confidants; Chief of Staff Aaron Shore (Adan Canto) is working behind Tom’s back to have him ousted from office; and FBI agent Hannah Wells (Maggie Q) is leading the investigation into the bombing.   

In the second episode, it turned out the Republicans had chosen a designated survivor of their own, Congresswoman Kimble Hookstraten (Virginia Madsen).  She’s certainly knowledgeable, but has no legal claim to the office.  At their first sit-down, Kimble seemed to fully support Tom’s presidency, but in time, and with the backing of those opposed to President Kirkman, she may very likely become a powerful rival.

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The ‘Designated Survivors,’ Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) and Kimble Hookstraten (Virginia Madsen).

Designated Survivor has a lot going for it – a timely premise, a talented and appealing cast, and a network that truly believes in it.  ABC was so high on creator David Guggenheim’s pilot script that they ordered Designated Survivor straight to series last January.  After the first two episodes aired to impressive ratings this fall (Wednesdays, 10:00 p.m.), ABC quickly increased their episode order from 13 to a full-season of 22.

With the events of 9/11 still so vivid in the minds of most Americans, Designated Survivor has the ability to touch viewers on a very personal level.  The images of Capitol Hill in ruins instantly brings back images of the decimated Twin Towers.

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President Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) inspects Ground Zero.

Designated Survivor holds too much promise to wind up being saddled with storylines from daytime TV.  If it were airing on HBO, Showtime, or even A&E, the bar would be much higher.  We’ve come to expect much edgier fare from those providers while the broadcast networks remain unwilling to break free of their cookie-cutter approach to series TV.

Designated Survivor has tough competition in its timeslot against CBS’ Code Black and NBC’s Chicago, P.D.  But thus far, it’s holding its own.  After four weeks, its averaging 7 million viewers.  So perhaps Tom Kirkman will give Jack Bauer a run for his money in the hero department yet.

Although… (Possible Spoiler)….

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Just look at those shifty eyes.

I’ve got a suspicion that Tom Kirkman is behind the whole thing.  A man with obvious ambitions – no matter how unlikely – of being a leader who never made it past being a lower-level cabinet member.  Then he learns the President is planning to dismiss him, to steal away even that small segment of his dream.  Yeah, it has to be Kirkman.  Just has to be.

Are You a Powerpuff Girls Fan?

Here’s why you should be:

I don’t know how to say this without putting a severe crimp into any claim I have ever, or will ever, make to have serious TV writing or analyzing cred, but when I was a pre-pimply adolescent girl The Powerpuff Girls was my favorite series.

Mostly, I believe, because it was the first show I ever watched that I got but my parents didn’t. That’s changed, of course. Nowadays, every time anybody in my parents’ generation sits in front of her or his monster screen TV and allows her or his face to set into a bewildered yet angry scowl at this or that new comedy the fact that nobody over 40 understands one thing about millennial tastes demonstrates itself yet again.

But I digress. This TVWriter™ minion’s point is that Cartoon Network is rebooting my one time favorite show, and if you look at the video above and are under 30 you’ll immediately feel the joy!

Um, unless you’re a, you know, boy.