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31 January 2007 @ 03:00 pm
New TV!  
I've spent most of today scrambling to put at least a few sentences together for the new TV over the last week that's worth commenting on.  All of which was done while trying to accomplish at least a modicum of work here... at work. And while my thoughts still drift back to the weekend... ::sigh::

Anyway... I managed to add a few blurbs at W-I, so new linkage under the cuts:

Smallville: 6.12 - "Labyrinth"

Supernatural: 2.12 - "Nightshifter"

Battlestar Galactica: 3.13 - "Taking A Break from All Your Worries"

Heroes: 1.13 - "The Fix"

and my treasured, my adored,

Veronica Mars: 3.11 - "Poughkeepsie, Tramps and Thieves"

Tonight brings new Friday Night Lights and Bones - two of my favorites, so that's mucho goodness right there.

And just for shits and giggles, I've decided for an indefinite period to end each update with the statement, "Kristen Bell is awesome."  Just because I wanna.  And she SO is. 

Kristen Bell is awesome.
houses: Weevil Love You Long Timehouses7177 on January 31st, 2007 08:52 pm (UTC)
Kristen Bell is totally awesome! I had your con commentary running along in my brain the whole time I watched it and it made it that much more amusing.

I'm with you on SPN. I totally didn't catch that with the IDs, but their choice of aliases is totally adorable. Hee! Han!

As for Veronica, I enjoyed the episode, but not as much as I hoped I would. I find myself wanting to shake Veronica, even as I'm wanting to give her a hug. It can be a frustrating give and take, but I agree that it's written well. I just don't particularly *like* the Veronica we've seen this season. In the first two seasons, she was a likeable person, as a character, someone that's relatable, as well as intriguing. I think the show is losing people because Veronica's actions have become, for lack of a better word, unlikable. At least they are to me.

I really missed Dick. I missed Mac. I was thrilled to see Weevil, but wished it had been longer. I saw mention that the absence of these people is due to budget constraints--how so? I guess I don't understand how that works.
Jeff: kristen 1j_mac179 on January 31st, 2007 09:23 pm (UTC)
I can understand the frustration for some with Veronica as a character - she has been particularly harsh a few times this season, and anyone just jumping in without all the backstory or prior knowledge could find her very unlikable.

I guess since I've caught the show since the beginning (well, bootlegged the first 10 eps or so to catch up, then watched the rest as they aired), I've had time to let her development sink in (rather than a straight DVD-marathon), so perhaps my perception is different. I still empathize with her sometimes more than I probably should, which sometimes conflicts with Logan being my overall favorite character on the show - so it's a little discombobulating at times.

And just to inform since you seem unaware - the overall budget for the show has been a struggle for Rob Thomas since day one. Warner Bros. Television and Silver Pictures (which create/produce the show) get a certain allotment from the network (first UPN, now The CW - but essentially still the same moneybags) to shoot each episode. This includes funds for actor and crew salaries (and guest stars), wardrobes, set builds, post productions costs, catering, transportation, etc. - I even read in Rob's interview with TWoP that the costs for promos and weekly interstitial commercials are taken out of the weekly budget - the network won't even foot a separate bill for those. That's why they usually suck and seem rushed together, because they are made on the cheap.

With all of these considerations, the "regular" credited stars may get reduced to recurring roles from one episode to the next, depending on their relevance to the story of the week. In season one, I believe only Kristen and Enrico were contractually obligated to appear in every episode, and in seasons two and three, Jason's contract was upped to this, too, after the huge fan response to Logan in S1. Percy Daggs, Tina Majorino, Ryan Hansen, Julie Gonzalo, Chris Lowell, Michael Muhney and Francis Capra - while always in the credits - may not appear in every episode (as we have obviously seen). Francis also had some other health-related issues that have kept his episode counts limited (the treatment/medication has also been why he's looked so bad sometimes). Tina also recurs on Big Love, so they accomodate her for that, too.

Basically, there are many different reasons as to why some characters are around one episode and not for another. The episode budget is a big part of that. And the major issue lies with getting enough ratings to justify the hour's worth to advertisers - so they will spend enough airtime $$$ to pay those production costs back to the network, in order to merit the renewal for another season or additional episodes. It's a vicious money game, as is all business, and I firmly believe - and have for a long time - that the A.C. Nielsen rating system is deeply flawed, and not indicative of true actual viewership numbers. Thus, I call it the bane of quality scripted television.

Hope this clears things up a bit.
houses: Weevil Love You Long Timehouses7177 on January 31st, 2007 09:29 pm (UTC)
Fascinating, and it definitely explains a lot. I have to say, it seems like a dumb way to make a quality show. Do all networks run things this way? I guess shows like SPN have it easier, with only two real stars to worry about paying.

Do you know what illness Capra is suffering from? In case you weren't aware, Weevil is my favorite character, the cutie.
Jeff: VM - take thatj_mac179 on February 1st, 2007 03:18 pm (UTC)
It definitely isn't conducive to things going smoothly for the long haul, for sure. As cast members become bigger celebrities, increased salaries become a factor and whatnot. Remember when all the Friends cast members were getting more than $1 million each per episode? I think Veronica Mars' entire episodic budget is around $1.5-1.75 million per, maybe a little more. But hugely popular shows with justified "ratings" (I HATE the system) can garner millions of ad-dollar revenue per hour or half-hour they air, to offset those costs and still make a profit for the network and production companies.

And just to ramble a bit - I honestly think the monetary rights to Buffy the Vampire Slayer that UPN paid 20th Century Fox Television in order to lure it away from The WB was part of the cause for both networks' eventual collapse, merging into one under their parent companies. When season five had ended, I think The WB was paying a little more than $1.5 million per ep - season-by-season gradual increases from less than a million per ep in season one. When UPN started bidding to grab the show after the five-year deal was up, WB upped their offer to about $1.85 million, I think - but UPN went balls-to-the-wall and offered $2.3 million per ep. Which was far and away more than any other WB or UPN show at the time, and even comparable to a few shows on the big four networks.

UPN paid a lot to get a pop-culture phenomenon, even though it probably realistically knew advertisers' dollars would never offset the cost to the network. Same thing happened with Star Trek Enterprise - it cost a lot to make, and never brought in a whole lot of revenue, but it's a sci-fi institution that raised the profile of the almost-always-#6 network.

Additionally, our beloved Firefly was an admittedly expensive hour to produce for 20th Century Fox Television - I think between $2.5 and $3 million per ep. So when it's total audience supposedly never averaged more than 4 or 5 million viewers, the end was unfortunately inevitable - and it was broadcast on FOX Television, which shares the same parent comany as the production staff - the desirable combination, so all end-profits go back to the same pockets.

And to take the example further, Lost's recent slip in the ratings toward the end of last season and the start of this one (down from around 18-19 million average in S1, to 15-16 million this season) has been hyped a bit because of these costs and profit margins. It is produced by Touchstone/Buena Vista TV, so the money still goes back to the Mouse, which owns ABC - but Lost is one of the costliest hours to produce on TV - if not THE most expensive. I think the double-length pilot cost around $8-9 million, and each episode averages over $4 million to make. Since it is shot mostly on location thousands of miles from the post-production offices in L.A., the editing and finalizing costs are very high. The cast is large - and getting more famous, so their pay is a big factor. A myriad of writers and directors that work on the show are busy all over the place on television, so they probably aren't cheap, either. The show still makes a killing from ad dollars, as it's still the most talked-about watercooler show on, and DVD sales are a huge boost in revenue. But all the talk over it's slight audience-loss - which may continue to dwindle as the story unfolds, and less newbies are willing to jump in - shows that even uniquely original, genius shows, that do get a lot of media attention and a big starting point with an audience can be subject to the numbers game, too

(cont'd next reply)
Jeff: VM - marshmallowj_mac179 on February 1st, 2007 03:21 pm (UTC)
(cont'd) - damn, this is too frakkin' long... but lastly..

When you look at crap like American Idol or Dancing with the Stars, that are unscripted, are made on the cheap - with no cast salaries or writers to pay - and bring in between 25-30 million (or more) viewers in an hour (translating to the highest premium for advertising $$$), the networks' desire for more reality TV becomes a no-brainer. Dollar signs are what rules all, regardless of the overall decline of quality network TV in the process.

Okay... enough with the network ranting. I was aware that Weevil was your fave ;) I really don't know for sure what the nature of Francis' illness was/is. I'd heard rumors from the end of season 2 that he had severe asthma or some other respiratory problems, and a type of steroid for its treatment caused him to put on weight and worsened his complexion. But that could be totally false. Not sure. *shrug*
Beth: Veronica---a long time agoorangesky33 on February 1st, 2007 12:38 am (UTC)
I quite liked "Nightshifter" (though I still enjoy "Skin" more of the two shapeshifter-isodes, since JA was great as Not!Dean and I was more compelled by the shapeshifter's motivations), but I don't really have that much to say about it, save for JUANDOLL.

So VM, VM, VM *rubs hands all excited-like*...

It's SO obvious that Veronica is now a BSG watcher herself.

Agreed. That smile when he was talking about it was a knowing smile, defenitely. You KNOW she's a Lee/Kara shipper.

Also, "then you frakked." Hee. Still.
I also really liked when, at one point, Max used the initaling of "BSG". Way to represent. Hee.

Plus, yay to your shout out of sorts. :)

If the problems of a formerly random dude (Max) and his not-quite-relationship with a newly introduced random hooker (Wendy) can make me care about where they end up, then the writing has done its job.

ITA. The show had me liking Max from his intro in this episode (whereas, obviously, I'd never thought of him before). I think creating fun and interesting stock characters has long been a strong point of the show (I pretty much enjoy everyone, no lie). However, Max and Wendy really dragged me in. I felt so bad for both of them at various points of the episode.

I also loved how twisty the mystery was.

Sorry if some viewers feel the relationship gets too much emphasis, but they literally carry the emotion of the show, so it seems fair. But maybe that's just me.

Yeah, I mean, even before they existed as a pairing, I think they both brought home the emotion of the show. Lilly's dying effected all, and that was the beauty of it. But, Logan's was surely the most noteable and broken of all those hurt, well aside from Veronica herself. Their emotion has always been co-existing in someways. Therefore, even though it is Veronica's show, I agree they share the emotion and this is why they work so well (well, that and the repartee, obviously).

I agree with your above comment,that even though I'm still a firm liker, I have critcized Veronica's harshness to strangers (though understandable) sometimes this season (and even last), espeically given the newbies. However, I think KB really played in the empathy last night wonderfully for the first time in a while predominantly, so it was great to see that, really both this week and the last (AW, MONKEYS).


I believe my closing statement will be:

Endurance I love Kristen Bell almost as much as Jason does. SQUEE.