Hulu: The Saviour of Television Series

Online television streaming platforms have given us amazing original new shows. And who’ll say no to MORE television? But, the thing people aren’t talking about as often is how they’ve become saviours who sit at the gates of the graveyard of dead or dying shows. The latest of which I am super excited about – Hulu saving the Mindy Project.

This last minute save got me thinking…Imagine if Hulu was around, circa 2002 when Firefly was suddenly and unceremoniously cancelled by Fox.

Firefly was cancelled by Fox in 2002 after just 14 episodes.

After just 14 episodes, this sci fi Epic was taken off the air due to low ratings. Poor programming & scheduling are heavily responsible for the low viewing scores (the network aired the episodes out of order and they scheduled it on Friday nights, commonly known as the “death slot”). In addition, it was an expensive show to make at the time and it wasn’t paying off.

Can you imagine if Hulu, Netflix, Amazon or Yahoo had been around then to save Firefly?

With all of these platforms trying to create original content, perhaps the easier (and cheaper) option, is for them solely rely on purchasing and revitalizing floundering existing shows.

We’ve seen Netflix save Arrested Development, The Killing, and it recently gave Tina Fey’s The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt life. In addition to Netflix’s success with its original programming, it’s fundamentally good PR for the digital service to appease fans who bitterly turn away from other broadcast channels to watch their favourite shows return online.

The Mindy Project (one of my favourite new comedies when it first aired on Fox) has been dropped by Fox but has been saved by Hulu. Thank God. Hulu, while I’m not necessarily overwhelmed by your original programming, but your streaming of older British series and revitalization of cancelled US shows is why I will keep signing up for Hulu Plus.

Whereas Community’s Season 6 revamp on Yahoo felt too little, too late (there’s only so much support the show’s once loyal fans can muster after a lacklustre season 4 and 5, particularly after losing three key characters), the Mindy Project’s story arc potential is poised to fill and sustain a 26-order season. And I’m excited.

Mindy Kaling, your show has just been given new life on a platform perfect for the creation of new gifs and memes. Don’t let us down.

#SixSeasonsAndAMovie

Orange is the New Black

I thought Netflix had nailed it with House of Cards. But then came Orange is the New Black, targeting a whole new demographic, hitting social media and celebrity mentions left, right and centre and taking both on and offline viewers by storm.

The show is addictive viewing.

The acting is great, the storyline is fun and the script is easy and entertaining.

Taylor Schilling finds the perfect balance between weak, innocent yupi and raging, dare devil lesbian, which makes her actions throughout the series believable (those of you who have seen the season finale will understand); she’s come a long way since The Lucky One. But this is a show where you cannot forget the supporting cast. In fact, they make the series. Each woman in this show has clearly taken the time to understand their character and their back story. Every conversation, every look has depth. Even Mendez has his moments of character complexity.

The Cast of Orange is the New Black

And finally, a strong female lead on television. It really doesn’t happen very often, and when it’s done well it’s incredibly refreshing. Again, the great thing about this show is that it has multiple strong female characters. And while they’re somewhat cliched, the tone of the show with equal parts drama and humour, makes this okay.

Apart from Piper Chapman, the stand out for me was Red, played by Kate Mulgrew (best known for Star Trek: Voyager). She evokes strength and determination and tragedy, even without seeing her flashbacks.

Then we have Jenji Kohan. A great show for her following Weeds. I watched Weeds the whole way through, and while it was most definitely time for that show to come to an end, you could tell Jenji had plenty more ideas up her sleeve.

While I don’t give weight to the Breaking Bad comparisons and don’t necessarily think that Piper Chapman is the new Walter White, I love the complexity of the character and am fascinated to see where her flaws will take her.

The West Wing: The Walk and Talk

After ripping into The Newsroom (see previous post), i felt that it was time that i pay proper homage to Aaron Sorkin, so i’ve decided to talk about what i consider as his best work (and will ardently argue against anyone to tries to argue otherwise. Please. Who would anyway?): The West Wing.

The West Wing gave us the walk-and-talk.

The show’s brilliance in script writing, acting, direction and production is exemplified in these scenes. It incorporates actors in the forefront walking together along a corridor (or other setting) past or through different sets, delivering dialogue while the background continues to develop and change.

The following walk-and-talk from episode 4 of season 1 is the longest of the series, and cinematographer Thomas Del Ruth should be congratulated for his work, because in every way, this scene is pure genius.


We’ve seen other walk-and-talks in other tv shows and films (the Before Sunrise trilogy walk-and-talks are magical), but no one has quite nailed the walk with the difficulty of the fast-paced, nuanced dialogue as Aaron Sorkin has.

And just for good measure, lets see Sorkin in his very own walk-and-talk:

The Best Pilots and Finales

Best Pilots

  1. The Walking Dead (One and a half hours of pure television entertainment. That final scene absolutely hooked me…and here i am, four seasons later.)
  2. The West Wing (The opening “walk and talk” scene –  an almost 5-minute continuous shot that exemplified the brilliance of the writing and acting the show had over 7 seasons.)
  3. Lost (At the time, it was the most expensive pilot ever made, and rightfully so. JJ Abrams created a movie-calibre pilot that drew you in from the opening seconds.)
  4. 24 (Such a unique approach to television season: “The following takes place between midnight and 1.00 a.m. on the day of the California Presidential Primary”. Awesome.)
  5. Stargate: Atlantis (I must have seen “The Rising” at least 20 times. A great segue from SG1 to Atlantis.)
Lost

JJ Abrams and Matthew Fox filming the Lost pilot

Best Finales

  1. Friends (She got off the plane!!)
  2. Dawson’s Creek (Skipping a few years into the future gave the show an honest and more “realistic” ending. Michelle Williams gave us a heart wrenching performance and a great sneak peek into how she would become an Oscar nominee… And finally the Joey/Dawson/Pacey love triangle was put to rest. Joey and Pacey 4lyfe!)
  3. Sex and the City (New York AND Paris? Its a no brainer.)
  4. Buffy (The slayers are all awoken and the Hellmouth collapses. Just another day in Sunnydale.)
  5. The Sopranos (That final scene…)
After 10 seasons, the Friends cast in the finale

After 10 seasons, the Friends cast in the finale

Veronica Mars

With all the excitement and hype around the Veronica Mars movie, I felt that it was my time to pay homage to the show. So first things first…

The sudden cancellation of Veronica Mars was a travesty.

For a teen drama (made more impressive being on the WB), the show drew you in week after week, not just to see who would end up with who, but also to lure us further down the proverbial whodunit road.

Kristen Bell as Veronica Mars, the "post-modern Nancy Drew"

Kristen Bell as Veronica Mars, the “post-modern Nancy Drew”

Rob Thomas created a show for all of us- one that didn’t pander to the lowest common denominator. The show was clever, witty and addictive in every aspect. The characters had depth, the dialogue and storyline was fast paced and premise –a teen detective dealing with daily high school life as well as uncovering the mystery behind the death of her best friend- was new and compelling.

Sadly, this is probably the reason that it wasn’t renewed for a fourth season (but sure, lets allow a remake of 90210 to make it to 5 seasons…a travesty).

Kristen Bell shone as the sharp, clever “post-modern Nancy Drew” and she was surrounded by a cast who were endearing and exuded chemistry (Logan and Veronica were not initially planned to get together, but the chemistry between Bell and Dohring influenced this story line. And lets face it, they had scores of it).

The cast of Veronica Mars

The cast of Veronica Mars

Even season 3, which was not as strong as its predecessors, maintained and developed the quirky characters that we loved. The beloved Dick Casablancas progressed from his status as an extra with one line (“Logan”) in season 1 to a douche-bag with emotional layers, earning his place in the title sequence. It also gave us Piz (you can’t help but fall for Chris Lowell’s dimples).

The most tragic part about the cancellation is that there were so many places the show could have gone in its fourth season. We had just been introduced to “the Castle”, a secret society that saw the return of Mr. Kane to Neptune, that had the inklings of some great plot arcs ahead (you say ‘cult’, I say ‘that makes for an exciting season’).

One of the final scenes provided foresight into the doomed relationship between Veronica and Piz, and the perennial tension of the Logan and Veronica will they/won’t they dilemma, sending “LoVe” shippers’ wild imaginations into a fan-fiction frenzy. And, arguably the best part of the next season would have been to see Vinnie Van Lowe attempt to be Mayor.

In lieu of what could have been an amazing season 4, I guess a full-feature film will have to do to give me the closure I’ve been craving for six years.

I am so excited for this movie.