'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...
James Spader drama has been a big Monday hit for NBC
Since FOX technically ordered a second season for "Sleepy Hollow," "The Blacklist" has become the year's first new show to get a full-season order.
NBC announced on Friday (October 4) afternoon that it has given a back-nine order to the freshman hit "The Blacklist," giving it a 22-episode full-season commitment.
'Scandal' repeats will air on Tuesdays at 10
We have our first casualty of the 2013-2014 season and its identity will come as no surprise to those who have been paying attention to early ratings.
ABC announced on Friday (October 4) that effective immediately, "Lucky 7" has been pulled from Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. and replaced with repeats of "Scandal."
The last six episodes will air over six weeks
The CW has formally announced that the final season of "Nikita" will premiere on Friday, November 22 airing at 9 p.m.
The six-episode conclusion will air over six weeks, running after new episodes of "The Carrie Diaries." The six-week run goes counter what "Nikita" star Maggie Q was telling reporters and fans at Comic-Con, but lines up with what CW President Mark Pedowitz told critics two weeks later.
That lines "Nikita" up for a December 27 series finale on The CW.
"Nikita" isn't a show that I've ever written about on a weekly basis, but I've tried to check in once or twice per season, since I continue to really respect both the work that Maggie Q continues to do, but also the relative production values that the show has continued to get on what has to be a relatively shoestring budget.
I thought the first half of the third season set up an interesting reversal-of-premise with Michael, Nikita, Birkhoff and Alex taking over Division and briefly going down the ethical rabbit-hole and channeling their own inner Amandas. Then, however, I felt like "Nikita" dodged all of the quandaries it introduced, particularly with Alex's shifting allegiances
and the mutiny at Division. Then the finale spiraled into a mess of nanotoxins, heart-stopping, President-assassinating and engagement-ring-ditching, leaving Nikita a wanted woman and a lone wolf, abandoning all of her chums and loved ones.
I don't think there was anything in the "Nikita" finale that couldn't be cleaned up within a week or two and The CW's teaser description for the season premiere indicates that Nikita won't be separated from her old team for long, but it also warns us that there's a larger conspiracy afoot, as well as the prospect of a global conspiracy.
Any "Nikita" fans out there? Is there anything you want to see or hope to see in the final season? Me, I figure we need at least one more Percy appearance. I know he's dead, but everybody on "Nikita" is, at most, "dead," since half of the plotlines seem to eventually lead to characters having their hearts stopped for various reasons.
What do you wanna see?