The New York Times today has a great write-up on the current state of play in the US in regards to TV viewership. It notes:
- Broadcast audiences continue to fall as viewers shift their consumption to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Under 50 viewers have fallen 10% this season alone.
- Reboots aren’t a sure thing. NYT cites Murphy Brown, currently ranking 43rd among entertainment programs, drawing roughly the same number of viewers as new Fox comedy The Cool Kids, a Friday night comedy on Fox about retirees. I note that this is a good comparison as each are approximately at the same level of unwatchable.
- Magnum PI is also performing at a similar level to Murphy Brown, while Will & Grace has lost close to half the audience it saw upon its return.
- Jimmy Fallon has lost 28% of his audience since he tousled Trump’s hair.
- Dick Wolf is making out like a bandit in the current TV market. His Chicago series of shows continue to perform well, along with Law & Order: SVU. The success of The FBI (6th most viewed drama on the air) may quickly lead to its own spin-off.
- Reality TV is sinking. Dancing With The Stars is down 31%, Shark Tank is down 33%.
- Medical dramas are quietly among the best performing dramas on the air right now, meaning you can expect more of them in the next season. Really, how long is it until there’s an ER reboot?
Yesterday saw the news break that Ricky Jay had died at age 72. I’m a big fan of David Mamet’s movies, which always had a role in there for Ricky Jay, though I first noticed him properly in PT Anderson’s Boogie Nights and Magnolia. His screen career wasn’t just limited to the big screen, with Jay appearing as a regular on Deadwood (I believe he’s also a credited writer for the show), The X-Files, The Unit, and countless other shows. The part of his career that I am far less familiar with was as a magician. He was considered among the very best. A 1996 show, Ricky Jay and His 52 Magicians aired as a HBO special and is available to watch via YouTube.
25% to 45% of users report some form of motion sickness while using VR. It is a huge road block to stopping the mainstream adoption of virtual reality. Could this device solve the problem?
We’re all friends here, right? I’m going to be absolutely honest - I have never understood the appeal of Mystery Science 3000. I like the idea of puppets talking about bad movies, but the show has never clicked for me.
If MST3K has ever had an overarching theme, it’s this: Everything is artificial. If you look closely enough at any monster costume, literal or figurative, you can always spot the zipper.
It’s hard to overstate what a revelation this was back when the show became a basic cable staple, in the mid-Nineties. Critics point to the post-Sopranos 2000s as the medium’s second “golden age,” but the decade prior was in many ways more fun for couch potatoes. New channels were popping up seemingly every month, filled with “sure, what the hell” programming, seemingly pitched to audiences of hundreds. It was a rare pleasure to trudge across that wild west TV frontier and land on Mystery Science Theater: a warm-hearted, fiendishly smart two hours of arcane pop culture references and vintage drive-in cheese, designed to get viewers to appreciate the sublime ludicrousness of life and art.
Fans of Doctor Who watching it weekly via Amazon got a surprise this week. Instead of airing the episode ‘Kerblam’, Amazon Prime Video apparently skipped ahead to “The Witchfinders,” an episode set to air this past Sunday.
I’m yet to see the season (series?) finale of The Romanoffs, but Todd VanDerWerff has some thoughts on the overall intent of the series:
Weiner is so clearly trying to use The Romanoffs to say something — about modern decadence, about inequality, about what it means to cling desperately to an identity you might not have any claim to, and maybe even about whiteness. It's certainly compelling enough that, watching the first season, I couldn’t help but try to figure it out — even as I realized that the show is, on most levels, a little undercooked.