Happy Monday, Boys & Girls! It's our second straight week of prompt-and-timely podcasting!
In this week's Firewall & Iceberg installment, we reviewed HBO's "Seduced and Abandoned" and Sundance's airing of the French drama "The Returned." We also checked in on buzzy dramas "Scandal" and, particularly, "The Good Wife."
Next week may be slow, so send mail!
Here's today's breakdown:
"Seduced and Abandoned" (00:00:45 - 00:12:35)
"The Returned" (00:12:35 - 00:28:30)
Listener Mail: Screeners with unfinished FX (00:29:05 - 00:38:15)
"Scandal" (00:38:40 - 00:54:50)
"The Good Wife" (00:54:50 - 01:21:20)
As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.]
Fast National ratings for Sunday, October 27, 2013.
While NBC's Sunday Night Football coverage topped FOX's World Series baseball among young viewers, FOX also had NFL overrun on Sunday night, helping the network to ratings wins in most measures.
Due to the nature of live sporting events, of course, FOX and NBC's ratings are preliminary and subject to change, as are the numbers for CBS, which had some minor NFL delays in a handful of major markets.
The only network that probably won't have any major changes was ABC and despite all the competition, the network saw small gains for "Once Upon a Time" and "Betrayal."
I'm a little distracted by Game 4 of the World Series, so I may need to make this recap really simple.
Sunday (October 27) night's episode of "The Amazing Race" was a clean and solid hour of TV, without delivering anything truly spectacular. The Detour options each had advantages and disadvantages. The Roadblock offered the potential to be exhausting, even if it was built entirely on luck. The Double U-Turn came into play the way the producers wanted it to (even if I remain frustrated by the logistics of its implementation) and helped add drama to the episode. And a team I mostly like went home, which was disappointing, but at least they were gracious about it and they have nobody in particular to blame other than themselves.
So yeah. A decent "Amazing Race" episode is a decent thing to have, even if it isn't nearly as decent as if the Red Sox could figure out where they left the best offense in the American League.
No, I didn't love the pilot in either of the versions I saw.
And no, I haven't watched the second episode yet.
But I'm really loving the week-to-week numbers comparisons with "The Vampire Diaries." It's not that I want to criticize The CW for attempting to expand its audience reach, to do things that don't feel like our conventional idea of what counts as a CW show, but it's still sad/funny to look at the core audience's rejection of that attempt to try new things.
"Reign" drew a semi-respectable 1.83 million viewers for its second airing, so I hope The CW will stick with it, so that I can keep looking at the numbers each week.
In addition to eyeballing "Reign," this installment of ratings analysis also takes an early look at the results for NBC's "Dracula" and "Grimm," as well as the premiere of The CW's "The Carrie Diaries." The Friday analysis is based on Fast National figures, rather than Nationals, because Friday Nationals tend not to show up in my in-box til Monday, so take them with a grain of salt.
Fast National ratings for Friday, October 25, 2013.
NBC's lavish take on "Dracula" held onto the young viewers from a solid "Grimm" premiere, allowing the network to win Friday night in the key demographic.
Overall, of course, "Dracula" and "Grimm" were no match for "Hawaii Five-0" and "Blue Bloods," as both dramas added viewers week-to-week to lead CBS. And even though "Dracula" and "Grimm" were sturdy in the key demo, neither drama could top ABC's "Shark Tank."
Friday's other relative notable was the premiere of The CW's "The Carrie Diaries," which came in predictably low, given where the "Sex and the City" prequel was last spring.
I only mention this because twice in the past two weeks, I've done exit interviews with reality contestants who wanted to make it clear that nothing that happened in front of CBS' cameras was anywhere near as difficult as what they experience on the gridiron.
This week, it was Brad Culpepper from "Survivor: Blood vs. Water."
By most standards of measurement, Brad was the dominant presence for the first third of the of the "Survivor" season. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneer controlled the all-male alliance in the largely dreadful Tadhana tribe, a ringleader position that led to heated shouting matches and accusations of sexism during the regular weekly Redemption Island Duels. And when Brad was voted out, it was the season's most dramatic Tribal Council, a spur-of-the-moment frontside blindside courtesy of Caleb.
In an exit interview that got a tiny bit heated at times, Brad takes exception to the way he was characterized throughout the season and hints at even worse insults we didn't see. He discusses his approach to the game and how it put wife Monica at the center. And he explains which bad move he was referring to when Jeff Probst snuffed his torch at Tribal Council.
FOX announced its Spring 2014 premiere dates on Friday (October 25) afternoon, a slate including confirmed returns for "American Idol" and "The Following," plus a scheduled boost for the comedy "Surviving Jack" and the Greg Kinnear drama "Rake."
Fast National ratings for Thursday, October 24, 2013.
"Big Bang Theory" was still Thursday's most watched show in most measures, but Game 2 of the World Series took a big bite out of the hit comedy overall and helped FOX cruise to nightly wins.
The competitive game between the Red Sox and Cardinals also took audience from ABC's "Scandal" and from CBS' "The Millers" and "Crazy Ones," but it wasn't all bad news. Both "Two and a Half Men" and "Elementary" were up after last week's dismal performances, while NBC's "Sean Saves the World," "The Michael J. Fox Show" and "Parenthood" all at least stayed flat. And, for the first time, "Sean Saves the World" outdrew "Michael J. Fox," becoming the first NBC comedy in several weeks to top 4 million viewers.
And, predictably, The CW's "Reign" took a drop in its second week, but with "Vampire Diaries" also slipping, it's doubtful The CW will be hugely concerned.
[This review is way the heck too long, but I'm writing it on the behalf of Young Daniel, who dressed up as Dracula every Halloween for around 10 years.]
NBC doesn't really know how to explain what "Dracula" is, which explains why they're doing it so poorly.
"The legend takes new life," reads the primary tagline that you might have seen on billboards, buses and on-air promos for the drama, which premieres on Friday (October 25) night.
The tagline across the show's official website takes a different approach and goes with "Jonathan Rhys Myers is America's Original Vampire."
It's much easier to quantify why the latter approach is frustratingly off-base. First of all, NBC should probably know the star of its show spells his last name "Meyers." And that he's Irish. And that he's playing Carpathian in "Dracula." And "Dracula" is based on a book by an author who also happens to be Irish. And "Dracula" was published in 1897, when we all know that Abraham Lincoln was slaying American vampires more than 50 years earlier. And there are four or five other shows on TV featuring vampires who are a good deal more American. Heck, it's even a stretch to call NBC's "Dracula" an American series, given that it's an international co-production filmed far away on The Continent. So yeah, there's really no aspect of that tag line that is accurate. It's a bit astounding. I don't even know what about that banner sentence could possibly be a valuable lure for audiences.
"Jonathan Rhys Myers is America's Original Vampire" is only in that one place, though. [UPDATE: And NBC has corrected the "Myers" typo. This is the largest amount of tangible change I've ever enacted in my time as a critic.]
"The legend takes new life," however, is everywhere.
And I hate to harp on this, but "Dracula" isn't a legend.
There are legends that exist surrounding Vlad III of Wallachia and the Order of the Dragon and whatnot, but those legends mostly require that you care an awful lot about power struggles within the Ottoman Empire and a certain amount of military viciousness, but would probably bore you to tears if you yearn for even rumors of resurrection or post-mortem bloodsucking.
Vlad the Impaler was perhaps a horrifying monster of a certain sort, but the concept of Count Dracula and vampirism and all that good stuff? That's not a legend. That's a piece of fiction that Bram Stoker created. Bram Stoker also created Jonathan Harker, Mina Harker and the idea of Mina as a timeless love for Count Dracula. He created Lucy and Renfield and he created Abraham Van Helsing as well. There is no "legendary" basis for any of that. It's all from a work of credited literature that happens to have moved into the public domain worldwide in 1962 (it was apparently always in the public domain in the United States, if you like irrelevant footnotes). That's why F.W. Murnau's 1922 "Nosferatu," which has many characters and plotpoints in common with "Dracula," but failed to acquire acquire rights to the novel, couldn't actually use the "Dracula" name or any of the names from the book, but why NBC's "Dracula," which shares almost no meaningful connection to Stoker's novel at all, is able to take character names from the novel without taking anything else.