Tag Archives: The Slap

Reviewing My 2014-15 Predictions: NBC

1 Jun

NBC

Well, there’s no point in making predictions if you’re not willing to revisit them later and see just how wrong you were. Now that the final decisions are in, let’s review how I did.

We’ll start with NBC. My fall predictions are here and my spring predictions are here, and in short, every show gets one of three predictions: that it will air 12 episodes or fewer, 13 episodes or more, or be renewed.

The Mysteries of Laura

Prediction: 12-

Reality: Renewed

Sometimes I’m wrong, and sometimes reality is wrong. That’s one of these times. I watched this show and I understand I’m not the arbiter of taste for network television but I still don’t really understand how this became popular. Admittedly, this isn’t quite as shocking as the fact that Undateable will have three seasons under its belt on NBC (which is legitimately incredibly shocking) but I still am surprised this happened.

Bad Judge

Prediction: 12-

Reality: 12-

This prediction game isn’t rocket science. Sometimes it’s hard and sometimes it’s easy. Bad Judge was one of the easier calls of the year.

A to Z

Prediction: Renewal

Reality: 12-

A to Z was an okay show that I still think could have succeeded on the right network in the right timeslot, but it’s getting harder and harder for comedies on networks, particularly on NBC, which will be down to a record low number this fall. There just wasn’t enough support or appeal to make this happen.

Marry Me

Prediction: Renewal

Reality: 13+

A series by the creator of Happy Endings starring one of the stars of Happy Endings and my beloved Ken Marino! I may have been too optimistic, about both the success and quality of the show. NBC gave it a shot, but no go. It’s a bad time to be a network sitcom.

Constantine

Prediction: 12-

Reality: 13+

Everything about this series, including when it was airing, led me to believe it was in for a short run. NBC surprisingly gave it a little more support than I anticipated, and it made it to 13 where the lack of ratings finally did it in.

State of Affairs

Prediction: 13+

Reality: 13+

 

Hey, I got something else right. I didn’t see an early cancellation with the amount of stock NBC put into this series, but I didn’t see it as a success either, and for once, I was right.

Spring:

Allegiance:

Prediction: 12-

Reality: 12-

Another easy one. Midseason shows mostly fail, which makes them generally easier to predict than fall shows, though the few breakouts that happen often come out of nowhere. This was so obviously a poor man’s The Americans rip-off that was destined to fail and did.

The Slap

Prediction: No renewal

Reality: No renewal

This was a limited series, so odds are it was never returning unless it was such a huge hit that it forced NBC’s hand to develop some sort of sequel. Still, The Slap, from just the name alone, was destined to fail, despite an impressive amount of star power in the cast.

One Big Happy

Prediction: 12-

Reality: 12-

This show looked terrible, was pretty bad, and as previously discussed, it’s hard out there being a sitcom these days. Not a difficult call, and now that Elisha Cuthbert’s back out of work, along with Marry Me’s Casey Wilson, we’re two actors closer to the Happy Endings reunion.

A.D.: The Bible Continues

Prediction: Renewal

Reality: 12-

People love the Bible, and people loved The Bible, so I suppose I overestimated that love; what counts as a hit for History Channel registers as something less on NBC. I underestimate religious fervor too often that I overestimated it this time in an attempt to compensate.

American Odyssey:

Prediction: Renewal

Reality: 13+

I have absolutely no justification for predicting this as a renewal, other than I was trying to balance out my spring forecast with another renewal or two, in spite of the fact that’s just not how spring works. While I don’t regret this pick too strongly, this is one I’d be most likely to change if I made these predictions again.

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Spring 2015 Review: The Slap

23 Feb

The Slap

The Slap isn’t really a good show, but it’s not really a bad show either. What it definitely is is one of the stranger high-concept network series I’ve seen in a while. The Slap definitely displays some serious ambition, and though that ambition is misplaced and mishandled, there’s something worth saying for at least the effort. 

Everything about The Slap is both strange and screams of wanting to be important and meaningful. The show begins with a third person omniscient narrator who, over the course of the episode, chimes in occasionally but not very often, making one wonder why the show possibly bothered having a narrator at all. The narrator starts to tell us about Hector’s day. It’s Hector’s 40th birthday, and he’s anticipating a big promotion in his job in city government. He’s extremely disappointed when he’s passed over, but does his best not to show it. Hector is stressed out about his job and his upcoming birthday party and chooses for some reason not to reveal his lack of promotion to his wife, who assumed the promotion was a mere formality.

All this stress highlights Hector’s lingering fantasy of having an affair with his wife’s teenage coworker, who also serves as their babysitter. Although it was hard for me to tell if this was real or fantasy, it seemed like they had kissed once but nothing more; it wasn’t too late to come back from, and Hector knows an affair with a teenager would be a terrible idea, but he can’t help dwelling on it.

The party causes additionally stress when his overbearing Greek parents and his wife fight; his parents bring way too much food and overstep their bounds (ethnic parents, right) and buy the whole family plane tickets to Greece without checking the dates with anyone else. Additionally, some other couples at the party get into some serious political bickering. Ur-capitalist suburban car dealer Harry and liberal creative-type Gary argue and argue, to the annoyance of their wives and just about everyone else. Different couples’ kids are playing in the yard, and Hector who wants to be anywhere but at this party, moves to talk and flirt with the babysitter in the corner and seems on the verge of making mistakes he wouldn’t be able to take back. Meanwhile, one of Gary’s kids is not behaving and is dangerously swinging a bat around.

And then, forty minutes in, right-wing Harry, in the spur of the moment, with no thought, frustrated by his indiscriminate bat-swinging delivers the titular slap to Gary’s child, prompting chaos and anarchy as different guests yell at and over one another, Harry defending the slap, Gary threatening to beat him up, sue him, or both, and everyone else taking sides. Hector is incidentally saved by the slap; as everyone disperses in the wake of Slap-gate, he finally tells his wife about his promotion gone wrong, they make up, and he realizes how lucky he is to have been interrupted before making a huge mistake.

Presumably, every episode will be from a different perspective of someone at the party, and will investigate how the slap changed his or her life. The Slap really is a strange show. There’s narration, as mentioned above, but just a little and serving no real purpose. Is there supposed to be a grand narrative, or merely a series of vaguely related vignettes? The very meaningful themes and subtexts of political bickering, child abuse, and parental rights would lend credence to the former, but choosing to start the series focusing on a character whose mini-arc is only peripherally slap-related seems to be point to the latter.

The Slap is hardly awful by any means but it is puzzling and none of the characters nor the writing are intriguing enough to actually watch further episodes; the most interesting aspect is the odd set up but while it does kind of make me want to know what’s going on it doesn’t really make me care enough to watch more. In another world, everything could have been a little more put together, a little sharper, and this could have been a legitimately interesting show. In this world, though, it’s just one shade off of interesting in about every way.

Will I watch it again? No. The Slap was actually a weird pleasure to watch the pilot of; too many mediocre pilots are just incredibly boring, while The Slap was just strange and all over the place. So it has that going for it. But that doesn’t make it good.

Spring 2015 Previews and Predictions: NBC

21 Jan

NBC

(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall (edit: spring, now) television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (spring, again)(reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

  1. Renewal – show gets renewed
  2. 13+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed
  3. 12- – the show is cancelled before 13

Additional note: Since more and more series on network TV are following cable models with set orders for shorter seasons, and mid-season replacements tend to have shorter seasons in particular, I’ll note any planned limited runs in my prediction section for each show)

Allegiance – 2/5/2015

Allegiance

The first thing I wondered while watching this trailer was whether this show was made due to the success of The Americans, or whether it was made incidentally and someone watched The Americans later, only to realize that The Americans was vastly superior to their show. The protagonist is a super brilliant CIA agent who has some personal problems as a side effect of his brilliance, one of which is that it turns out, unbeknownst to him, that his parents are actually spies for Russia, the very nation who he’s working to dig up intel on day after day at his job. His parents’ superiors want them to turn their son into a Russian spy, while they’re afraid of what their son would do if he ever found out what they are. Uh oh! Family drama mixed with CIA espionage action. There’s no better quick way of describing Allegiance than that it looks like a shitty network version of The Americans that thinks it gets what makes The Americans works, but doesn’t quite. Could I be wrong about Allegiance? Maybe. Is it likely? No.

Prediction: 12- The Americans barely survives on cable television, and it’s great. If this was on CBS, I’d have a more favorable view, because almost any show can survive on CBS, but while this actually seems sensibly placed next to NBC hit The Blacklist, I’ll err on the default guess for all midseason shows, which is failure.

The Slap – 2/12/2015

The Slap

The titular event happens at a family and friends get together consisting primarily of a bunch of hip thirty-something parents. After one incredibly annoying child continues to instigate, an adult, who is not the child’s parent, slaps the child. The singular slap sparks a series of events that turns the previously friendly couples against one another, as everyone reacts differently. Some want to see the slapper punished severely for his actions, while others think his behavior was, if not justified, at least less egregious in the heat of the moment. High drama ensues. The Slap, which is a ridiculous title, and almost makes the show difficult to take seriously by itself, is based on an Australian series of the same name.

Prediction: It’s a limited eight-episode event, which wouldn’t obviously lead itself to a sequel, so it seems likely to be one and done.

One Big Happy – 3/17/2015

One Big Happy

One Big Family, produced by Ellen DeGeneres, is a comedy in the Modern Family mode of unorthodox-yet-functional families. This time, here’s the high concept. Relationship-phobic straight man and lesbian best friend decide to raise a baby together. All of a sudden, he, out of nowhere, meets the perfect woman and gets married on a whim in Vegas. Now, his best friend is pregnant with his child, while he’s now married to someone else. Hijinks ensue, and yet the three, despite constant tricky situations, seem to mostly make the unorthodox arrangement work. I doubt it will be particularly good, and it’s from a writer for 2 Broke Girls, which is definitely not a good sign.

Prediction: 12- Midseason comedies that get picked up are a rare breed indeed. Ellen’s name behind it certainly will help, but it’s just tough to break in in March when no one knows that you’re on.

A.D. – 4/5/15

A.D. A.D.

A.D. is subtitled “The Bible Continues.” That’s right. NBC is quite literally making a sequel to The Bible. To be fair, the bible in question is the History Channel miniseries produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett that produced mega-ratings for the network. A.D. starts with the crucifixion of Jesus, moves through his resurrection, and then on to early church leaders who fight for the survival and eventual triumph of Christianity against the pagan Romans. It’s a religious epic, and I have confidence it will be rapturously received by the Christian masses who watched every episode of the first Bible miniseries. At the same time, I sincerely question its value to just about anyone else. While religion offers plenty of interesting angles for storytelling, everything I know about the original Bible miniseries makes me imagine this will not offer any of those.

Prediction: Another mini-series, so there’s no renewal to be had, though since it has a huge built in audience, I’d imagine it will do well enough to earn another sequel if someone can put together an A.D. II.

Odyssey – 4/5/15

Odyssey

I cannot find a trailer for Odyssey. This may be a testament to my Google skills, or lack thereof, but searching the usual keywords on Google and on YouTube didn’t produce a trailer at the least. Here’s what I gather about the show. A troop of soldiers fighting Islamic extremists in northern Africa stumbles upon some super top secret info that an American company is actually funding the jihadists. Before they can return with this valuable information, all but one of the soldiers is killed by private contractors. There’s a massive conspiracy and it goes pretty far up. The story is, so says NBC.com, told Traffic-like, from many different perspectives, including that of a corporate litigator, a political activist, and a hacker. It sounds rather ambitious, like a cable show, maybe on Showtime, although it’s hard to get a great sense of its scale and production value without a trailer. Maybe less is more, because this sounds far and away like the most promising of the NBC midseason shows.

Prediction: Renewal – honestly, I wouldn’t place money on this, but these midseason shows are so impossible to pick anyway, much more so than fall shows, that I figured I’d have hope that the most interesting-seeming show might be good and succeed, which is probably too much to ask.

A.D.