Bye Bye Leno: Is the “Late Night at 10” Science Experiment Finally Over?

The Wrap, along with CBS News and Fox Business, have picked up on a report from a site called FTLive.com that NBC is going to cancel the Jay Leno experiment. On Monday of this week, NBC decided to order up to 18 pilots for the upcoming season, prompting BNET to speculate that this huge order is an attempt to fill Leno’s timeslots, which certainly looks suspicious to me.

NBC, in an attempt to deny the rumor, has dropped this statement:

Jay Leno is one of the most compelling entertainers in the world today. As we have said all along, Jay’s show has performed exactly as we anticipated on the network. It has, however, presented some issues for our affiliates. Both Jay and the show are committed to working closely with them to find ways to improve the performance.

Err, yeah, so they’re kind of denying the rumor, but honestly, I wouldn’t consider that a very encouraging statement.  Remember the Boston affiliate that tried to pass on Leno’s show back in April, until NBC beat them into submission by threatening to strip their affiliation? Yeah, I do. Back then, NBC could scare their affiliates quiet, but after less than a year of this ill-begotten venture, it seems like their persuasive powers have faded a bit. In all likelihood, the affiliates have seen their ad revenues drop because of the show’s sad ratings, and they’re calling for blood. NBC will have to listen this time, though I don’t know what they could do to “improve performance” other than dropping the show off the schedule.

I consider this to be a welcome bit of schadenfreude, and it seems like the Twitterverse does as well. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Jay Leno; I’ve never really watched ANY late night shows (they’re just not my thing) but he does seem like a nice guy. Instead, my joy comes from watching NBC continue to self-destruct. In the last few years, they’ve pushed mostly derivative dreck down our throats, and the few bold and challenging shows they premiered (hey Kings and Southland) were underpromoted after their first episodes, unceremoniously yanked off the air a few weeks before premiering a second season, or consigned to a saturday night death slot. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that NBC thought their viewing audience would buy what they were trying to sell. Even from the very beginning, moving Leno to 10 PM came across as a transparently cynical, lame-ass, cheap, penny-pinching ploy. They appeared less interested in keeping him around than they were in saving a couple of bucks. It was a dumb idea, born from either cheapness or desperation, and now, as everyone seemed to predict, it’s about to blow up in their faces.

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Jay Leno premieres tonight–and I’m not watching.

That’s right. The new PRIMETIME interview show starts tonight: Jay Leno’s new show on NBC. What is it called, anyway? The Jay Leno Show?

Anyway, in case you missed the headline, I’ll not be watching. I just have a lot of better things to do: wash my hair, windex the mirrors, cut the grass with scissors, stare at a wall, etc.

And yes, Leno clearly lucked out by booking Kanye West long before he screwed over poor Taylor Swift. Yes, that’s right. Kanye will be on the show tonight. Who knows what he will say (an entire writers’ room is probably filled with pencil scratching to decide what Leno will ask and what jokes he’ll say), but despite my curiosity, I’m not watching.

Ignoring the joke above, I really have no interest in seeing Jay Leno. I mean, I thought he was leaving The Tonight Show for a reason, but the NBC seemed to have backtracked and decided to give him another show. And it’s every night at 10:00.

There’s so much better programming than Leno on at 10:00 during the week! Why not just give him Saturday and call it a day! We could have Kings, for goodness sake.

I just feel like this is a big mistake on NBC’s part. I mean, this is taking five hours of TV away from them. They’ve basically structured their schedule so they’re like FOX or The CW, except that those stations usually have the news right after their programming.

And it’s actually disappointing. I realize the NBC is kinda poor right now (Ooh, I have an idea for that! Kill of half the cast of Heroes! It’ll help the show and the network!), but it’s actually been pretty impressive this summer. I’ve been quite pleased with Merlin, and even though it’s not an NBC original, it’s quality programming that I wanted to check out week to week. NBC can do it; they just…won’t?

But how long can they really keep a primetime interview show going? I mean, Leno was moving on from The Tonight Show. How long would he want this? And how long do we? Honestly, I don’t think it’ll go past the year–and I only think it will go that far because he’s probably got a contract with a big pricetag.

And they’re clearly trying to make it successful. They’ve got some big guests this week (you can see them here), so maybe it will grab some attention.

But for me, it just isn’t my style. I want primetime to be real shows. (I’m still annoyed that reality TV still gets in the way.) I mean, he might make for some good background noise, but as for tonight, I think I’ll watch the premiere of One Tree Hill…and then take down all my curtains and hand wash them with a toothbrush.

Rant: Things I Hate

JC here with a short post about a few TV related things that I really HATE.

  • Crossovers: So the Disney channel was on in the background the other day (I wasn’t watching, I swear) and they were advertising a Wizards of Waverly Place/Suite Life crossover. Wizards on Deck or something like that. Now, I hate both of those shows, so putting them together is like a double-dose of crap to me, but beyond that… Are crossovers EVER good? I can’t think of a single one that wasn’t a trainwreck. When I hear crossover, I think: last ditch attempt to revive a fading series. Though, sadly, I feel like this might not apply to the two series listed above (damn).
  • The Secret Life of the American Teenager: I’ve only watched it once, but I hate this show and it’s self-righteous attitude about sexuality. I hate the cliched dialogue. I hate the completely unrealistic depictions of teenage relationships. I hate the fact that none of these kids have ever heard of safe sex or contraceptives. I hate that people actually like this steaming pile of dog crap. And by the way, I’m not sure there’s much of a secret left in this teenager’s life anymore. Change the name!
  • Reruns in the Middle of a New Season: A couple of years ago, the only new TV I watched, other than live sports, were HBO original series. HBO generally runs a new episode of a series each week until the season is over, so I got used to this schedule. Now that I’m back to watching new cable and network TV, I’m finding myself constantly annoyed by the breaks networks throw in between new episodes. A one to two week break is annoying, though I suppose I could understand it since the networks want to milk more time out of a series. Anymore than two weeks, though, is unacceptable. With that long in between episodes, I start forgetting what happened, and stop caring about the show.
  • American Idol: I know it’s not on right now, but I hate this show, and I hate how it seems to eat up 5 hours of primetime each week. Please stop.
  • Getting Excited: I hate getting excited about a show that I know is going to get axed. It happened with Kings, it’s going to happen to Dollhouse next season (why do you think they slashed the budget so much for season 2?) and it’s going to happen with HBO’s next original series project, which will be based on George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series of fantasy novels. I love HBO, and I love this series, but for some reason, I’m almost sure it’s not going to work. While a pilot has been ordered, I’m sure one of three things will eventually happpen: 1) either the pilot won’t be picked up,  2) it will be, but the show will suck because it’s live action (and would have been so much better if it were animated!), and 3) it’ll be great and subsequently cancelled because it’s too expensive and too niche, even for HBO. I hope I’m wrong about these three possible outcomes, but I don’t think I am. That being said, result #3 would be the most satisfying and heartbreaking at the same time. I’m not sure I could handle it.

Don’t forget your favorite ABC rejects

So it’s summer. Nice, right? Well, in your maddening sea of reruns, I hope you remember to pull ashore in time to watch the end of your favorite ABC shows. You know, your ABC favorites like Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone, and Dirty Sexy Money. And, of course, The Unusuals.

I’m more upset over Eli Stone‘s cancellation than I am about The Unusuals, but it’s a pretty slim margin. I loved The Unusuals. You could probably tell by my unusual attachment to Leo Banks and the fact that I adore any show with Amber Tamblyn. And the writing didn’t suck, too.

Honestly, I think the only cancellation this year I’m happy about is Cupid, just because if you were going to cancel it ten years ago, why bring it back with a sloppier cast? Anyway…

The Unusuals returns tonight at 10/9c to show their final eps. Why should you watch? Well, obviously, because it’s a good show. Also, because Noah Hawley (creator) twittered about a possibility of continuing the show elsewher, and if you support it now, maybe that will happen, no matter how fleeting it is. Honestly, I don’t know where and I don’t know how, but if it were to continue, I’d be a happy girl. A very happy girl. After all, we need to make sure Leo makes it to 43, right?

So watch tonight, and while you’re at it, write an email to ABC about how mad you are. Not sure what it might do, but show your support in some way. I’m hoping there might be a soft, faint glimmer of hope in what Noah twittered (should this be tweeted?), and I think the show deserves it.

Beyond that, don’t forget the rest of your ABC shows.

Pushing Daisies returns May 30 at 10/9c for three episodes (yeah, that’s this Saturday)

Eli Stone returns June 20 at 10/9c for four episodes

Dirty Sexy Money returns July 18 at 10/9c for four episodes

And while you’re at it, catch Kings on NBC, which returns sometime in June. Man, even though there’s good stuff on, this summer’s gonna be heartbreaking.

NBC: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Well, NBC has announced it’s upcoming new shows, as well as some shows that will be picked up. And to be honest, I can’t say I’m over the moon about any of them. Well, maybe one.

What’s original here? NBC seemed to be one of the networks we’re more curious about, what with ER‘s  good-bye and their newest pitch to have Leno have a 10:00 daily talk show. And yes, that Leno plan is still happening.

And while I have mixed feelins about Leno’s show (I think it’s a terrible idea, though at least it will be a backup to reruns at 10:00 on other networks), that now limits NBC to two hours of programming. So what do we have?

Well, in place of ER, we’ve now got two new hospital dramas, one of which has Michelle Trachtenberg as a nurse–something I doubt very heavily. Sorry, Michelle fans, but somehow that just seems odd to me. Can she play an adult? I mean, I saw her relatively try in The Dive from Clausen’s Pier, and it was painful.

We’ve also got Day One, which apparently has someone from Heroes involved (let’s hope season 1) and involves people reacting after a global disaster. Didn’t we do this a few years ago and call it Jericho? The frontrunner of that show is Julia Gonzalo, the most annoying cast member of the lost Eli Stone.

And then what? Parenthood? Oh dear, Maura Tierney, is there no hope left? At least Monica Potter’s finding work after Trust Me was canceled.

But where, oh, where are the original premises? I’m most looking forward to Community, mainly because it stars Joel McHale of The Soup, but from what I’ve read on other blogs, people are less enthused because it’s “just another multi-camera comedy.” I’ll take that any day over another Parks and Recreation, which, by the way, has been renewed.

Speaking of renewals, what about the ones we’re really wondering about? No news on Chuck, and contrary to various reports this weekend, it looks like Medium hasn’t yet been decided on yet, either. From what I can tell, you’ll have to wait until May 19, when they announce the fall schedule.

These are two very popular series. I’m still surprised they’re being debated.

Meanwhile, we can expect the return of Heroes, The Office, 30 Rock, reality TV, and at least one Law & Order series.

What else is missing? My Name Is Earl. Again, very surprised.

I should mention that all of these might not be fall shows–some may be winter or “event”–but I think there are some surprises and disappointments here. With such original series as Chuck and, of course, Kings, we’re stuck with the old and the done.

So here’s what I suggest. If you don’t like what you see, and you’re waiting for your favorite NBC show to appear, you better get moving. Write to NBC, post blogs, do what you must. You’re running out of time, and we’re running out of quality.

The ‘Kings’ have left the castle

If you’re a fan of Kings, you’re out of luck. According thefutoncritic.com, NBC has officially taken Kings off its schedule. It’s unclear as to whether all of the remaining seven episodes will air, though NBC’s Kings site does say new episodes will return in June.

I’m not pleased. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that’s an understatement. It’s true, I never really reviewed Kings. JC did a guest post pleading for NBC to keep the show going, but beyond that, there’s been little on this site.

What irritates me about this is that they gave Kings the Saturday death slot (worse than the Friday night death slot, if you recall), and then gave it one week to make numbers. That’s right. They gave it one Saturday. They skipped a week in airing the show and then expected viewers to naturally move into Saturday night without any question or confusion.

And why would there be confusion? Well, I don’t quite recall NBC really advertising the move. Where did I find out? First, blogs. Second, Twitter. If it weren’t for KingsonNBC’s constant updates about the when and wheres of Kings, I probably would have missed the change. In fact, when I questioned them about the skipped week, they were very quick to clarify exactly when it would be returning. They were quite helpful.

I really hope now they’re not out of a job.

How many of you missed some of your favorite shows recently because they were on a “special night,” like Monday’s Bones? Or maybe you didn’t know about the special episode of The Unusuals on tonight? And those were advertised? How are we supposed to know about a show’s change in night if there’s no advertisement in the medium people watch the most–TV?

My only guess is that NBC assumed that most of the viewers were Twitterers or bloggers. I’m assuming they found this out because most of the info online about the show is on blogs and Twitter. Well, how else are people supposed to spread the word? But that ignores a large group of people that aren’t constantly online but are interested in the show!

Does stopping it based on this Saturday’s numbers even take into account DVR numbers? I don’t know.

Anyway, I’m peeved. This feels like Drive all over again, this time by NBC. Honestly, I felt the show was probably a bit too smart for TV today and would have been better served as a mini-series, but if you’re going to dedicate yourself to a show, then dedicate yourself, NBC! Treat it right!

So at least the plan is to show more new episodes this summer, I guess like ABC is doing for Pushing Daisies and Eli Stone. But whether they’ll give the show time to show all remaining seven, I don’t know. So if you want that, I’d suggest you head on over and contact NBC pronto.

And if anything, hey, at least there’s a DVD.

UPDATE: According to Live Feed, “Kings will return to its Saturday 8 p.m. slot June 13 and will finish its run through July 25.” That’s seven episodes, right? Think NBC will keep its promise?

Friday night death slot? I think not.

[UPDATE: Felicia Day just tweeted that her episode (episode 13) of Dollhouse is not being aired. The season will end with episode 12. What this means for the series is still unknown. I found this out after writing this post, but please read on anyway, as my ultimate point is still valid.]

Ok, so I’m sure you all assume that by the name of this post, I’m going to be talking about Dollhouse because it’s in the “Friday night death slot,” but I’m not. Sure, Dollhouse is in a bit of trouble and it’s still uncertain whether it will be picked up for another season, but hey, at least it’s not as bad as Sarah Connor (sorry, fans).

But I’m here to argue that Friday night is not necessarily the slot of death. Instead, let’s turn our attention to Saturdays.

What’s on Saturdays? WWF and reruns? Well, last time I checked, that’s what was on. But then again, that was probably about four years ago. But reruns no more. It’s now the newest home to new shows…

…that are dying. If you haven’t heard, Kings was most recently moved to Saturday nights at 8:00. Apparently unable to kill in the ratings, NBC has decided to move it to another night. Now, reasonably, this could be all for the purpose of seeing how it’s doing on another night and possibly giving it time to grow and prosper. But it’s Saturday. Do you watch TV on Saturday?

Please comment below: Do you watch TV on Saturday, and if you do, what do you watch? I think I watched House Hunters once while I cooked dinner.

Anyway, for those of us with less optimistic minds, you probably see the move more like this: They moved Kings so that they could let it live out the rest of its season and then die a horrible, unfinished, untold death.

I’m a fan of Kings. I think that despite the move, people should still watch. So please do. I’m really disappointed about the move, but there’s not really anything I can do about it (except write the network and beg that they not cancel the show–and, yes, I’ve done that).

But NBC’s not the only home for Saturday deaths. ABC has taken the opportunity to breathe new life into our cancelled favorites–only to rip the oxygen away at the first chance. Here’s an excerpt from the report:

And finally, ABC rises Wednesday nights from the dead. Though this is at the very bottom of ABC’s press release it will likely lead most news stories covering the announcement. Daisies returns to the schedule as of Saturday, May 30, through Saturday, June 13, at 10:00 p.m.; Stone on Saturday, June 20, through Saturday, July 11, at 10:00 p.m.; and Money on Saturday, July 18, through Aug. 8 at 10:00 p.m.

Because it’s not enough just to cancel quality programming. We have to choose a night when no one’s watching so it won’t compete with the sucky program ABC chose to keep.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled they’re airing final episodes for Pushing Daisies, Dirty Sexy Money, and of course Eli Stone. But Saturday night at 10:00? Good God!

So if you’re ever wondering what TV can do to shows that’s worse than Friday, take a look at Saturday. The best quality you never see.