Too Much TV? 2015 Had Record 409 Scripted Shows

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Executive: ‘This statistic is staggering and almost unimaginable’

James Gibbered writes: If you feel like there’s an overwhelming number of TV series options, there’s a very good reason for that.

“The unprecedented increase in the number of scripted series has reached a new milestone in 2015 with a record 409, nearly doubling the total in just the past six years.”

FX has calculated that in 2015 networks and streaming services had a record 409 dramas, comedies and limited series — and that’s not even including unscripted shows or TV movies. Digging into the data, the number of scripted series this year was up 9 percent over 2014, and has doubled since 2009 — while network ratings have, on average, declined.

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“This was the third consecutive year that scripted series count has grown across each distribution platform – broadcast, basic and pay cable, streaming — led by significant gains in basic cable and digital services.”

“The unprecedented increase in the number of scripted series has reached a new milestone in 2015 with a record 409, nearly doubling the total in just the past six years,” said Julie Piepenkotter, executive vice president of research for FX Networks.

This statistic is staggering and almost unimaginable from where they were a decade ago.”

“This was the third consecutive year that scripted series count has grown across each distribution platform – broadcast, basic and pay cable, streaming — led by significant gains in basic cable and digital services. This statistic is staggering and almost unimaginable from where they were a decade ago.”

[Read the full story here, at EW.com]

If you assume each show is 13 hours (which is really conservative given that many hour-long broadcast dramas have 22-episode seasons), that would mean there were 5,317 hours of potential scripted TV to watch this year. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] 快乐光棍节“节 Kevin Spacey Wishes China a Happy Singles’ Day

“Good evening to the great people of China. I am the 45th president of the United States, Frank J. Underwood. And tonight, I wanted to take a moment to say hello to all of you out there to wish you a happy Singles’ Day.”

Felicia Sonmez and Gillian Wong report: Is Frank Underwood a fan of online shopping in China? We couldn’t possibly comment.

On Tuesday, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba rang in China’s Singles’ Day online shopping holiday with a star-studded gala at Beijing’s Water Cube. The event included a video appearance by actor Kevin Spacey, who plays the scheming politician Frank Underwood in the hit U.S. TV series “House of Cards.” The show airs online in China and is a favorite of China’s anticorruption czar – and perhaps even its top leader.

“Good evening to the great people of China. I am the 45th president of the United States, Frank J. Underwood. And tonight, I wanted to take a moment to say hello to all of you out there to wish you a happy Singles’ Day,” Mr. Spacey says in character in the video, which shows him seated at a presidential desk….(read more)

Source: China Real Time Report – WSJ


How Meddlesome Government is Making your Barbecue More Expensive and Less Tasty

The Houston Rodeo Barbecue Grand Champion Kerry Fellows with the pit he used from Pitts by JJ on the Eastex Freeway Saturday March 09, 2013.(Dave Rossman/ For the Chronicle)

The Houston Rodeo Barbecue Grand Champion Kerry Fellows with the pit he used from Pitts by JJ on the Eastex Freeway Saturday March 09, 2013.(Dave Rossman/ For the Chronicle)

Why Freddy’s Barbecue Couldn’t Really Exist

 writes: Between taking bites out of his political opponents, Frank Underwood, in the first two seasons of Netflix’s “House of Cards,” liked to visit a hole-in-the-wall barbecue joint called Freddy’s. Freddy’s BBQ is fictional and the 100-best-bbqshow used a shack in Baltimore for the set.

[Check out Johnny Fugitt’s book “The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America” at Amazon.com]

DC tourists may be disappointed to learn they cannot sample Frank’s favorite ribs, but the most disappointing fact is not that Freddy’s is fictional. The sad truth is that Freddy’s could simply not exist in DC or in most major cities today.

While researching barbecue restaurants for my recently released book, The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America I visited 365 barbecue restaurants across 48 states. Many owners shared with me that their businesses are hampered by local environmental, safety, and health regulations

Nathaniel E. Bell/Netflix, via Associated Press Kevin Spacey as the ruthless American politician Francis Underwood with Robin Wright as his wife, Claire. Nathaniel E. Bell/Netflix, via Associated Press

No Tasty Barbecue For You

In Houston, for example, Pizzitola’s Barbecue hangs its hat on being the only remaining Houston barbecue restaurant to cook with a traditional open pit. Pizzitola’s has been smoking barbecue this way for 50 years and was grandfathered into the local safety law banning their traditional method of smoking meat.

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“The White Swan came under federal regulations and were required to use electric cookers rather than continuing to smoke as they had for generations.”

As newer barbecue restaurants popped up just outside city limits, Houston lost tax revenue and residents had to leave the city for great barbecue—everyone lost.

[Read the full story here, at TheFederalist.com]freddysbbq

Houston lost tax revenue and residents had to leave the city for great barbecue—everyone lost.

“Today, cities require restaurants to invest tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars in safety hoods and equipment.”

It might seem unfair for Pizzitola’s to have such an exemption and, thus, an advantage over their competition, but it’s actually a blessing and a curse. If Pizzitola’s were to make any major changes to the restaurant—like adding a patio or dining-room space—they would lose their grandfathered-in status.

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Pizzitola’s cannot adapt to compete with other restaurants because this risks losing the way they have been preparing barbecue for 50 years. Eventually this handicap will catch up to them.

No More Opportunities For the Little Guys

Although local regulations have done the most damage, federal regulations are also to blame. From the 1940s until 2009, The White Swan smoked traditional North Carolina pork over smoldering oak.

“It was a shame to see a historic, small town, family-run barbecue joint forced to serve cooked pork rather than traditional smoked barbecue simply to comply with federal food regulations.”

When they franchised in 2009 (and created a number of new jobs), The White Swan came under federal regulations and were required to use electric cookers rather than continuing to smoke as they had for generations.  It was a shame to see a historic, small town, family-run barbecue joint forced to serve cooked pork rather than traditional smoked barbecue simply to comply with federal food regulations. Read the rest of this entry »


That’s It, House of Cards. You Lost Me

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Nick Gillespienick writes: A show that was once darkly great has descended into prosaic moralism. God save us from fictional pols who are serious about jobs programs.

Is anybody else kinda-sorta done with House of Cards? Not literally but figuratively. Season three is a real letdown, but not because the Netflix series is, in the words of one reviewer, too “bleak” or negative or dark.

“House of Cards is going softer than President Frank Underwood’s gut. The first two seasons were a palate-cleansing, tit-for-tat inversion of Aaron Sorkin’s cloyingly earnest West Wing, where even the bad guys tended to be good-hearted, if ideologically misguided.”

It’s the exact opposite: House of Cards is going softer than President Frank Underwood’s gut. The first two seasons were a palate-cleansing, tit-for-tat inversion of Aaron Sorkin’s cloyingly earnest West Wing, where even the bad guys tended to be good-hearted, if ideologically misguided.

[Read the full text of Nick Gillespie‘s savage complaint here, at The Daily Beast]

But in just three seasons of House of Cards we’ve gone from Underwood (Kevin Spacey) not thinking twice about shoving under a train the unethical journalist he was fucking to a world where he actually takes seriously the idea of a federally funded jobs program that will—finally! seriously! emphatically!—end unemployment as we know it. He actually seems to earnestly want to do something for people and not simply because it will give him more power. Hell, at one point, he echoes FDR talking about how the “country needs bold, persistent experimentation” to turn the economy around and approaches his “America Works” program as something other than the shovel-ready malarkey the old Frank would have gleefully exulted.

Do we really want the characters in House of Cards to start developing consciences and to grow into moral actors? Please, the whole kick of the show is precisely that its universe is inhabited only by ethical gargoyles. 

Even more disappointing is the devolution of First Lady Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) from a ruthless operator who puts Agrippina the Younger to shame into a latter-day Lady Macbeth filled with doubts about her and her husband’s patently unredeemable actions. “We’re murderers, Francis,” she says at one point in the new season—as if that’s a bad thing.

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What’s going on here might be called the “Archie Bunker Effect,” and it’s no prettier than when All in the Family’s protagonist would belch loudly after chugging a beer while sitting in his favorite living room chair. When All in the Family started in the early 1970s, its protagonist was supposed to hold up a mirror to America and depict the petty and base racism, sexism, you-name-it-ism of the working class. Bless their hearts, Hollywood big shots such as creator Norman Lear just wanted to ennoble the little people.

“He actually seems to earnestly want to do something for people and not simply because it will give him more power. Hell, at one point, he echoes FDR talking about how the ‘country needs bold, persistent experimentation’ to turn the economy around and approaches his ‘America Works’ program as something other than the shovel-ready malarkey the old Frank would have gleefully exulted.”

“By giving bigotry a human face, Lear believed, his show could help liberate American TV viewers. He hoped that audiences would embrace Archie but reject his beliefs,” wrote The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum in an essay inspired by Saul Austerlitz’s 2014 book Sitcom. But as Nussbaum puts it, “‘A funny thing happened on the way to TV immortality: audiences liked Archie,’ Austerlitz writes. ‘Not in an ironic way, not in a so-racist-he’s-funny way; Archie was TV royalty because fans saw him as one of their own.’” Probably even worse for Norman Lear, in many ways the ultimate limousine liberal, was that the show’s resident liberal mouthpiece, Mike “Meathead” Stivic (brilliantly portrayed by Rob Reiner), was the show’s true laughingstock.

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“We’re murderers, Francis,” Claire Underwood says at one point in the new season—as if that’s a bad thing.

[Read the full text here, at The Daily Beast]

But if there’s something more frustrating than fans misunderstanding a character and a show’s dynamics, it’s when producers do. All in the Family quickly became increasingly less funny and more preachy until it finally transmogrified into the godawful Archie Bunker’s Place. That last, comedy-free permutation was set at a bar Archie owned and operated. He still mangled the language (gynecologist became “groinacologist,” for instance) but Archie was now a standup guy who literally took in and cared for orphans.

“For all that, we are reminded time and again—and without irony—that leaders and policymakers are constantly balancing an impossible array of interests and tradeoffs.” 

Similarly, the third season of House of Cards spends a hell of a lot of time humanizing the Underwoods and other characters. To be sure—spoiler alerts!—recovering alcoholic and chief of staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) is still capable of going on booze-and-sex benders and killing innocent people, but even he thinks twice before finally dispatching the prostitute Rachel, a loose thread whose existence threatens the president’s reelection. Read the rest of this entry »


TELEVISION: Catching Up On 2 Seasons Of ‘House Of Cards’ Depressingly Manageable

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SOMERVILLE, MA—Noting that he only needs to watch 26 full episodes of the political drama, local man Ben Atwell revealed Thursday that catching up on the previous two seasons of the Netflix show House Of Cards should be depressingly manageable. “I shouldn’t have any trouble getting through both seasons in the next few days,” said Atwell, who told reporters that he currently does not have any obligations in his life that might prevent him from maintaining a comfortable, extremely sad pace of watching six or seven of the hour-long episodes each day. Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese Netizens Love the New Season of ‘House of Cards’ — Even Though it Makes Their Country Look Terrible

Fair use/Sina Weibo

Fair use/Sina Weibo

David Wertime and Han Chen  report:  “Everyone in China who works on this level pays who they need to pay.” Mild spoiler alert: These are the words of the fictitious Xander Feng, an influential Chinese billionaire on the Netflix series House of Cards, a show that follows the machinations of U.S. Representative (and later Vice President) Frank Underwood to agglomerate power and crush whoever stands in his way. The phrase is also now viral on the Chinese Internet, which has proven surprisingly hospitable to the show’s second season, which debuted on Feb. 14. Despite having its arguably Sinophobic moments — in addition to Feng-as-villain, the show depicts a Stateside Chinese businessman hiring both male and female sex workers, and a U.S. casino laundering Chinese money to fund a Congressional SuperPAC — the show has Chinese social media users applauding what they believe is a largely accurate depiction of Chinese palace politics.

The attraction of House of Cards’ second season — which has already received over 9 million views in the first weekend compared to over 24 million for the first season, released March 2013 in China — appears two-fold. First and foremost, the show engages Communist Party corruption, elite infighting, and the often-outsized influence of the moneyed class with a directness that few domestic shows dare hazard. The colorul Feng, for example, alludes to scheming with members of the Chinese government to force a more liberal financial policy, not to mention bribing high officials outright. The result is a portrait of Chinese elite skullduggery convincing enough that one user wondered aloud in jest whether the show’s screenwriters had planted an undercover agent in party ranks.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] House of Cards Season 2 Trailer [HD]

Get ready for another lost weekend, another bout of binge-viewing, here it comes…

Netflix [HD] – YouTube

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