TV Today – Change Can Be a Good Thing

One thing’s for sure in life—with time, everything changes.

Even television.

For instance, years ago, May sweeps meant that the television industry saved the best for last.  The networks broadcast non-stop, action packed, cliff-hanging storylines every night of the week, hoping to pull in the largest ratings of the year before announcing which shows would receive pink slips.

And while this still rings true for some series, times have changed (for the most part).  Today’s May sweeps ultimately means knowing which shows will return and which shows will be swept away before the season finales have all aired.

Last year’s May Sweeps swept Poppy Montgomery’s Unforgettable into the trash… prematurely. Now she and her insane memory are back on CBS this summer.

Another example would have to be the season/s in which new TV shows air.  Back in the day, and similar to May sweeps, most television series aired from September to May.  The summer months were left to reruns and made-for-TV specials, leaving parents and children tons of time to enjoy the warmer weather and outdoor activities.  But today, viewers have to pay close attention to when their favorite shows will play new episodes—it could be the traditional September through May, or it could be August through November, January through April, June through August, etc.

With these new and scattered TV schedules, one would have to assume that taping for these shows is also sporadic and all over the place.  Right?  I think so.  And I see this as a good thing.  Why?  Because it’s providing more opportunities for a few of the familiar faces we see in non-starring roles.

One of the most popular recurring characters on TV that I can remember… Seinfeld‘s Newman.

When I was a young girl, very rarely did I see an actor or an actress, regardless of how small or large their recurring role in a particular TV show, act in any other program on television.  Occasionally we’d see them in a Hollywood film or TV special they were able to tape during their “off-season,” but never did they land a second recurring role on another popular series.

The same is not true today.

Because of alternating filming schedules and series airing at multiple times throughout the year, actors and actresses have the opportunity to take on multiple roles.  Over the last year alone, I’ve seen four different actors/actresses land recurring parts in multiple TV shows… that I can think of off the top of my head. Granted, these stars are only members of larger ensemble casts in their primary programs and not the leading man or woman, but their characters are crucial to the story and their names appear in the main credits versus the “also starring” or “guest starring” tape that airs after the first commercial break.

Roger Cross… I loved Curtis on 24. I’m so glad to see him on three different shows this year!

The actor who prompted this post played one of my favorite characters on Fox’s 24 for multiple seasons—Roger Cross.  For years he played Curtis Manning next to Kiefer’s Jack Bauer, and that was the only role, at the time, that I recall seeing him play.  But today, as in the 2012-2103 TV season, he landed three recurring roles on three hit TV series (in their own right, anyway): Sergeant Bloom on ABC’s Motive; Detective Hilton on the CW’s Arrow; and Travis, a member of the Liber8 escapees, on SyFy’s Continuum.

But Mr. Cross is not alone.

David Ramsay – while I like both characters and shows, Diggle wins if I had to choose. Love Mr. Ramsay as Diggle.

David Ramsay, recognizable for his previous roles on Dexter, Outlaw, and Ghost Whisperer, currently plays two different characters on two completely different shows—Diggle on the CW’s Arrow and Mayor Pool on CBS’s Blue Bloods.

Corbin Bernsen – He’s perfect as Shawn’s dad… and I’m liking him so far as Jim’s dad too. Mr. Bernsen plays dad to two of TV’s most unconventional detectives.

Corbin Bernsen, most notably from L.A. Law and the Hollywood hit, Major League (but does he really need an introduction at this point in his career?), plays dad to two of my favorite TV detectives—to Shawn Spencer on USA’s Psych and to Jim Longworth on A&E’s The Glades.

Gina Torres – I missed out on the Firefly craze, but I do love Ms. Torres as Jessica. And it’s nice to see her play opposite her real-life hubby on Hannibal.

And last, but not least, we have Gina Torres (from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Alias, Firefly, the second and third Matrix movies, and a show I enjoyed that was given the axe way too soon, Fox’s Standoff).   Currently we all know Ms. Torres as Jessica, Harvey’s and Mike’s boss, on USA’s Suits, but she can also be found playing her real-life husband’s (Laurence Fishburne) wife on NBC’s Hannibal.

I find the mechanics behind how TV shows work today very interesting.  And personally, I think these changes are great for the industry.  I mean, if you’re not the lead, why not explore your options and add to the resume as much as possible?

What do you think?  Do you like seeing actors and actresses appear in multiple roles at the same time?  Can you add to my list of four?   I’d love to hear from you!

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – USA’s Spies and Suits

This week, Amber West and I switch gears and bring a double review of the hit shows on USA. 

Why? Because USA’s summer programming is so hot, we’ve decided the only way to do the network justice is by making this edition of Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday too hot to handle. 

Our double feature includes spies, suits, and sports – a triple threat.  Wait; since we’re both writing about two series, it’s technically a quadruple!  Right?

 Burn Notice

Why is Burn Notice white-hot? Sexy stars, massive explosions, and intricate plots combined with explorations of relationships between family members, best friends, and lovers make for some of the best programming on television today.

Burned by the U.S. government, former spy Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) wakes up bruised and sore in a run-down Miami motel with no memory of how he got there.   A burned spy has nothing – no job and no money.  It’s as if the last few years of Michael’s life didn’t even happen.  He takes on odd jobs as a private investigator to make some cash, and builds a team of former acquaintances, ex-girlfriends, and family to help him unravel the truth behind why the CIA black-listed him, and discover who was the mastermind behind his burn notice. 

Michael’s team consists of Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell), a former Navy SEAL and friend who was forced to inform on Michael to the FBI; Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar), Michael’s ex-lover, and a former IRA agent who doubles as an arms dealer and bounty hunter; Madeline Westen (Sharon Gless), Michael’s chain-smoking mother; and, the recent addition, Jesse Porter (Coby Bell), a former counterintelligence agent that Michael accidentally burned while uncovering truths behind his own burn notice.  

Burn Notice is one of the best, and definitely the sexiest shows on television; therefore, I have no other choice than to award the show with the highest #WatchWed review to date: GTV (Gourmet Television – Everything we want, and more!).  

To add fuel to the already smoking hot Burn Notice, Jeffrey Donovan might just be the sexiest man on TV.  Does anyone else make eating yogurt look so yummy?  When he throws on those sunglasses and flashes that crooked smile while wearing his designer suits, he has women melting in their living rooms across the U.S.  

 

Suits 

Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), a recently appointed senior partner at a Manhattan law firm, is instructed to hire another brilliant Harvard Law graduate to add to the associate pool, hopefully someone as bright as he is.  

Meanwhile, across town, Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) fastens his tie, grabs the briefcase filled with marijuana that his BFF has left for him, and heads to a hotel to make a drug deal yielding enough cash ($25,000) to keep his grandmother in her around-the-clock care nursing facility.  

What Mike doesn’t know, is that his low-life best friend is sending him to an undercover cop with his briefcase full of drugs.  Using his better judgment and brilliant observation skills, Mike picks up on the sting and ducks into Harvey’s interview room trying to avoid the cops chasing him.   

Intrigued by the young man with a briefcase full of pot, Harvey indulges and interviews Mike, learning that this young, brilliant man sitting across from him has an eidetic memory (perfect recall) when Mike recites blurbs of the Bar review materials with only the slightest provocation.  Despite the fact that Mike never graduated college, let alone law school, Harvey hires Mike on the spot. 

These two unconventional minds work together balancing the law and lying to everyone – now that’s conflict, right?  How long before the shunned junior associate (Louis Litt, played by Rick Hoffman), or the boss recently frustrated with Harvey’s refusal to follow her instructions (Jessica Pearson, played by Gina Torres) discover the truth? 

While it’s still early in the series, I give Suits a MacTV rating (MacNCheese TV: Guilty pleasure – Not perfect, but it satisfies) because I am looking forward to future episodes.  I can’t wait to see how long before anyone discovers the truth behind Harvey’s new star associate, and how the writers continue to develop this very unique story. 

Be sure and catch Burn Notice and Suits Thursday night on USA!

What do you think? Do you agree with my top rating for Burn Notice? Should Michael rejoin the CIA? What about Suits? Have you fallen victim to USA’s latest summer hit?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now – remember to visit Amber’s review of Covert Affairs, starring Piper Perabo as CIA Operative Annie Walker, and Necessary Roughness, starring Callie Thorne as therapist to the stars, Dr. Dani Santino. 

Come back next week when Amber and I switch over to the world of fantasy and review TNT’s Falling Skies and SyFy’s Alphas

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.  Amber and I would love to chat with you!

 A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more

MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies

JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds

SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out

NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer

LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

 

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