At this point, if you enjoy the 'AHS' craziness, you'll enjoy this too
A couple years ago, either in a fit of nutritional pique or as an impulse buy at Target, I purchased a Magic Bullet, or perhaps its generic hand-blending equivalent.
For a solid month, I was obsessed with smoothies, with the idea that by tossing a banana, some ice cubes and a little bit of juice in the blender, I could create a sweet, semi-healthy paste that could also be a delivery mechanism for other fruits and vegetables. A handful of carrots vanished into the paste, barely changing the flavor but making the goo orange and higher in Vitamin A or something. A couple leaves of spinach delivered iron and a lurid green tone. An apple or a pear? The consistency might change and maybe the wellness benefits, but the flavor stayed the same. I marveled at all of the different things I could do with my Magic Bullet, the number of things I could blend up, and have the end result be interchangeable.
Like most impulse buys, the pleasure of the Magic Bullet wore off. I wasn't enjoying my smoothies all that much and dispensing with chewing eventually ceased to be a sufficient advantage over just taking a carrot or an apple out of the fridge and devouring that. The interchangeable smoothies maintained amusement, but more as culinary experiments that nourishing meals. I haven't used that Magic Bullet for a long time.
That, fans of clunky, extended and imperfect analogies, brings me to the third season of "American Horror Story," premiering on FX on Wednesday (October 9) night. Sorry. The third "miniseries" of "American Horror Story."
In the past, I've made the argument that FX was taking advantage of Emmy loopholes in calling "American Horror Story" a miniseries because in addition to maintaining the same basic creative team and the same core cast, I suspect that everybody involved with the show is working with a standard series contract. But that's just semantic quibbling.
People protest, "But 'American Horror Story' has a totally different narrative and characters each season" and that also makes me chortle.
Watching the premiere of "American Horror Story: Coven," I was stuck by two key things: First, I strongly dislike "American Horror Story" as a week-by-week narrative, but I find it utterly fascinating as a cumulative work now in its third season. And second, it hardly matters what stories or genres Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk want to work through in any given season, because once everything has gone through their narrative Magic Bullet, it all looks and feels exactly the same, so of course the show isn't three [and counting] separate miniseries projects under the same banner, it's just a slightly varying recipe for American Horror Smoothies.
With "American Horror Story," after three seasons the audience has become self-selected. If you dig the freakiness that Murphy and Falchuk are laying down, "Coven" will probably hit you with similar success, while if you find "American Horror Story" unpleasant to watch or merely masturbatory, you shouldn't be fooled into thinking you're going to like "Coven" just because the cast has now reached an almost absurd level of awesomeness. And if you're like me and you manage to find exactly enough that's engrossing to compensate for the monotony of what's just gross, that will probably continue as well.
To paraphrase former Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green, "American Horror Story" is what you thought it was and what hasn't changed is a good deal less important than what has changed.
More after the break...
'The Voice' recap episode, 'NCIS' are Tuesday's top shows
Fast National ratings for Tuesday, October 8, 2013.
NBC's pre-Battles clip show for "The Voice" performed well below the competition's normal numbers, but despite that decline, the network still topped Wednesday among young viewers, as CBS' procedurals dominated overall, even with a big drop for "NCIS."
Although "The Voice" and "NCIS" lost over 4 million viewers and a 1.7 key demo between them in the 8 p.m. hour, there was minimal capitalizing from the rival networks.
ABC's "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." posted a less steep drop than last week -- down by a 0.3 key demo and 700,000+ viewers -- but was still off in its third frame, which led to "Goldbergs" also posting a second week of declines. Interesting, "Trophy Wife" was steady week-to-week among young viewers and posted a very small audience gain. With huge DVR bumps for each of its first two weeks, "S.H.I.E.L.D." is still doing fine and this probably counts as leveling at this point.
FOX's comedies also didn't capitalize much, with "New Girl" rising somewhat" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" also adding a whopping 0.1 in the key demo.
Certainly some of that extra audience went to The CW's "The Originals" and "Supernatural," which did solid numbers in their premieres. It was, in fact, the best "Supernatural" premiere since 2010, not bad for a drama in its ninth season.
On to the numbers...
'The Voice' leads as 'Mom,' 'We Are Men' also drop
Fast National ratings for Monday, October 7, 2013.
As has become the Monday norm, "The Voice" and "The Blacklist" dominated their respective time slots among young viewers and also won overall, carrying NBC to Monday wins in most measures.
Good news was, in general, in short supply on Monday night.
All of CBS' comedies went down by a matching 0.2 rating in the key demo and "Hostages" was down by more than that, as the freshman drama continues to hover in the cancellation danger zone.
And even though they're still undisputed early season hits, both "The Blacklist" and "Sleepy Hollow" were down on Monday as well, but with robust Live+3 DVR numbers, neither NBC or FOX has cause for concern.
Meanwhile, The CW's strange Monday pairing of "Hart of Dixie" and "Beauty and the Beast" premiered with CW-sized numbers, though both dramas were above most of what the network was airing on Mondays last year. [The CW was preempted in New York for the J-E-T-S, so those numbers are probably going down, while ABC also had football preemptions.]
On to the numbers...
'Frontline' documentary targets the NFL's handling of its concussion problem
On Sunday, like more than a few Americans, I spent a lot of my morning and afternoon watching football.
I yelled at my TV as Tom Brady's wide receivers dropped one catchable pass after another. And when the Patriots were done losing in a rainy morass, I concentrated my attentions on my fantasy team and yelled at my TV as that squad went down in flames as well.
The fantasy thing already made me feel guilty anyway. Because of matchups, I was starting Michael Vick at quarterback, which ended up being a bad idea on several levels, but briefly left me rooting for Michael Vick.
Then I watched a screener for Frontline's "League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis" and felt even worse.
No matter how anybody tries portraying it, the antagonist in "League of Denial" isn't the sport of football, though it's hard to imagine any parent watching the two-hour special and not coming away with at least minor concerns regarding the long-term damaged caused by the inherent nature of the sport, regardless of what level it's played on.
Football is portrayed as dangerous. Sure.
The NFL is portrayed as criminal, as either negligent or nefariously conspiratorial, and there's little doubt that people who watch "League of Denial" will have a hard time looking at Roger Goodell and Paul Tagliabue's empire in the same way, much less cheer on a punishingly hard hit with the same bloodthirsty vigor.
But "League of Denial" isn't just an anti-NFL smear job. No, by refusing even cursory participation in "League of Denial," the NFL has pretty well smeared itself and the assumed causality of ESPN's decision to largely bail on the report has left its own bruises.
Like any good David & Goliath story, "League of Denial" correctly assumes that the hype machine has long worked in favor of the Goliath and it focuses on the myriad Davids in the attempts to learn more about connections between long-term brain injuries and football. That's why even though "League of Denial" will stir up anger and frustration and sadness, my dominant takeaway was compassion for the wounded athletes and their loved ones and admiration for the crusaders who, for the most part, don't want to bring the NFL down. No, the heroes of "League of Denial" are simply people who want to learn more, people who want the NFL to use its resources to gain knowledge, rather than concentrate its might on obfuscating. So "League of Denial" is disheartening, but it's also inspiring.
[Bit more after the break…]
Sunday Night Football lets NBC win among young viewers
Fast National ratings for Sunday, October 6, 2013.
The end of a high-scoring thriller between the Broncos and Cowboys spread 44 minutes into primetime and helped boost CBS to a comfortable overall win on Sunday, while coverage of the Houston-San Francisco Sunday Night Football game put NBC in first among young viewers.
Without any football overrun, FOX still got a solid performance for the annual Treehouse of Horrors episode of "The Simpsons," as well as a new "Family Guy," though it's hard to compare this week's performances to last week's football-boosted premieres.
Similarly, comparing this week's non-football CBS numbers to last week's premieres probably isn't helpful, especially since CBS also aired the NFL Network's late game in San Diego.
It's easier to compare ABC's Sunday to premiere levels, where we can see that "Once Upon a Time" posted only a small drop among young viewers -- total retention among adults 18-34, ABC boasts -- while the declines for "Revenge" and particularly "Betrayal" were steeper.
On to the numbers...
Things get salty for the teams in Chile
My Non-Elimination Radar is probably only 75 percent accurate, though it gets much, much better as the season progresses and an NEL becomes a statistical inevitability.
I had a radar misfire last night, but I was extremely relieved that it was a mechanical error and not an accurate reading, because if Sunday's (October 6) installment of "The Amazing Race" had been a Non-Elimination Leg, you'd have gotten an angry, frustrated recap tonight.
Instead? I'll say that for an episode that began with an Equalizer and included a Detour in which neither task ended up being especially difficult, this was a pretty fun "Amazing Race" installment, albeit mostly if you happen to be a fan of boneheaded gameplay. Because if you like people doing inexplicably stupid things, ballsy-but-stupid things and just confusingly stupid things this could be your favorite group of "Amazing Race" contestants since whichever season featured the lovable Cowboys constantly going the wrong direction.
More after the break...
The season's first eliminated pair discusses their lone Leg
As they briefly indicated during their lone Leg, father-daughter Hoskote and Naina Venkatesh went on "The Amazing Race" in large part because Naina wanted to prove herself to her traditional, India-born father.
When I met with Naina and Hoskote before they departed, she proudly told me that he had agreed that in any point-of-contention on the Race, she would get to be the final arbiter, a prospect that she found unique and exciting for their relationship.
She was skeptical, of course, that he would be able to set aside his usual role as patriarch to be flexible, but she was also hopeful.
Unfortunately, Naina and Hoskote were eliminated after only one Leg and without getting to make any crucial decisions at all. They got on a later flight to Chile that put their pack of four teams behind the lead group of seven and then a problematic cab ride put them behind the other three teams and that was that.
In their exit interview, Naina and Hoskote lament having an elimination so out of their control and try to emphasize that what looked like a clue-reading gaffe in the episode's second Roadblock wasn't a gaffe at all. Naina also expresses her disappointment at not getting to prove herself to her father.
The full Q&A is after the break...
Plus thoughts on NBC and CBS comedies, 'Glee,' 'Ironside' and more
Ratings analysis catch-up: 'Super Fun Night,' 'Vampire Diaries' and more
I meant to do ratings analysis on Thursday afternoon, but things got busy. Then I meant to do ratings analysis on Friday afternoon, but news kept breaking left and right.
However, since I got started on analysis for both days, I might as well flesh things out and do a three-day look at the Final numbers.
In this jumbled installment, I compare "Super Fun Night" to its post-"Modern Family" predecessors, I reflect on Thursday comedy challenges for NBC and CBS, plus I speculate on what "Glee" could draw for next week's Cory Monteith tribute.
Click through for all the bulletpoints...
'Shark Tank' tops the key demo for the night
Fast National ratings for Friday, October 4, 2013.
The Friday ratings race is back to where it was for most of the spring: "Shark Tank" was the night's top show in the key demographic and led ABC to a slim victory among young viewers, while "Blue Bloods" was easily the night's top show in total viewers and led CBS to a dominant victory overall.
Overall, CBS was mostly consistent, with "Hawaii Five-0" posting small gains and the other two dramas dropping a little. Both "Undercover Boss" and, particularly, "Blue Bloods" also dropped among young viewers, though "Hawaii Five-0" was steady.
For ABC, although "Shark Tank" was down week-to-week, "Last Man Standing" posted small gains both overall and the demo, but didn't help the still-sluggish "Neighbors."
Also joining the "small declines" group was FOX's "MasterChef Junior."
On to the numbers...
Tyson's loved one discusses her quick departure from the game
In this "Survivor: Blood Vs. Water" season in which half of the contestants are returning castaways and half are their newbie loved ones, Rachel Foulger was the first newbie sent home.
With the return of Redemption Island, that meant that Rachel spent very little time actually with her tribe and got very little camera time, especially on a male-dominated group.
Still, because we know Rachel's wisecracking boyfriend Tyson from two previous "Survivor" stints, it was easy to like Rachel because of how emotional her departure made Tyson. After Rachel lost a domino-driven Redemption Island Duel on Wednesday's (October 2) episode, the worked up Tyson only had one question as he hugged her good-bye. "Did you have fun while you were here?" She insisted she did.
In our exit interview, the graphic designer/cocktail waitress discusses the decision not to ask Tyson to switch places with her for the Duel, the impact of Colton Cumbie quitting the game seconds before the Duel and Brad's dominance over her Tadhana tribe.
Click through for the full conversation...