Posts Tagged ‘NBC’

Monday Medley

What we read while scoring on Hope Solo…

Saying Goodbye to Friday Night Lights

Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can't Lose!

Well, Friday Night Lights has officially ended, and for good this time. FNL has had more shots at an ending than any show not named One Tree Hill. The show’s first and third season finales were both written as potential series finales before late renewals extended its life. And for those who watched the fifth season when it initially aired on DirecTV, the series ended back in February. Even the DVDs were released in April, but the show’s final run on NBC finished up last night. So, sadly, Friday Night Lights, one of the best series of the last decade, is over.

And for all the controversial endings to classic shows over the last few years—The Sopranos, The Wire, Lost, Battlestar Galactica—I’ve never been as upset watching a finale as I was watching the finale to Friday Night Lights.

The final image of the series was Eric and Tami Taylor walking off the football field. This was the perfect ending for the series… except that the football field was in Philadelphia, not Texas. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while changing our opinions on the morality of condoms…

  • Speaking of law, the New York Times ran a fascinating article that empirically establishes that Sandra Day O’Connor relied on her clerks to write opinions more than any other contemporary justice.

The War for Late Night: Smiling Politely Towards Disaster

Anyone who picks up Bill Carter’s new book about last January’s late night TV debacle—The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy—looking for a villain is destined to be disappointed. This is not for lack of effort. The book is impressively comprehensive about NBC’s decision to move Jay Leno from The Tonight Show to primetime and back again and the disaster that followed. Carter gives detailed histories of and various perspectives on all the major players involved—Leno, Conan, Jeff Zucker, David Letterman, Jeff Gaspin, etc.—but in the end nobody comes off as an evil monster responsible for the train wreck. Instead, we get a fascinating example of how a bunch of people all acting with the best intentions can lead to the worst possible outcome.

“If they’d come in and shot everybody—I mean, it would have been people murdered. But at least it would have been a two-day story. I mean, yes, NBC could not have handled it worse, from 2004 onward.” —Jay Leno Continue reading

The Return of Conan


If you haven’t been paying attention to this blog for the last 11 months, then you may not have realized that I was looking forward to last night’s premiere of Conan on TBS. I haven’t even minded all the commercials and the endless promotion during the baseball playoffs.

The main reason for the excitement wasn’t just that a great comedian was returning to television, but that the return represented a chance to finally move on. Conan O’Brien has been active since he lost The Tonight Show to Jay Leno in January: He got a new job, he went on a live tour, he grew a beard, he appeared on 60 Minutes, and he even got on Twitter. What has been frustrating, though, is that the most common subject in his comedy during this interregnum has been Conan himself—namely his departure from NBC and his new job on TBS.

Back in January, when The Tonight Show essentially became about its own future, it was refreshing to see an unleashed Conan mercilessly go after his own bosses at NBC. Unlike Jay Leno, who played dumb during the whole process, Conan wasn’t afraid to be honest and hilariously vicious. Unlike Jimmy Kimmel, who had nothing to lose by being vicious, and David Letterman, who played the role of elder statesman throughout, Conan’s attacks were also endearingly honest and personal, since he was going through the ordeal himself and had something to lose by attacking his employer. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while deciding not to publish our own story about not having sex with Christine O’Donnell…

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  • Speaking of statistical analysis, the Mets hired sabermetrics-advocate Sandy Alderson as their new General Manager this week. Here is an extensive (and excellent) interview of Alderson back when he was CEO of the Padres. Rumor has it that he’s going to bring along Paul DePodesta to the front office, who was prominent in Moneyball (a book we’ve invoked a few times so far), and has his own blog.

Can Steve Carell’s Departure Reinvigorate The Office?

On Monday Steve Carell restated his intent to leave The Office when his contract ends after next season. This could, of course, be a negotiating ploy, but Carell is, by pretty much all accounts, a class act—it seems more likely that he’s just being honest when he says it’s time for his run to end. He also seemed very confident that the show could go on without him: “The show is great, and the ensemble is so strong, and the writers are great, so it’s just one part of that ensemble drifting off. They’ve incorporated so many new characters and so many new, great storylines that I have no doubt it’ll continue as strong if not stronger than ever.”

Now, it’s hard to think of any examples of this actually working; that is, of a star leaving a show, only to see that show improve. Most of the obvious examples of cast replacement (Jon Lovitz for Phil Hartman on NewsRadio, Megan Mullally for Jane Lynch on Party Down, the two Darrens on Bewitched, the Tori Era on Saved by the Bell) were done with secondary characters, and even the best of these were only moderate successes. Continue reading