The 2016 Emmy nominations were announced at 1:30am local time yesterday, and I decided that I’d sleep through it. I’m perfectly happy with that decision. I don’t really have much to say about the Emmy nominations that haven’t already been said, but as usual there are some things that are great, and some not so great. You can find the full list of nominations here (okay, it’s not the full list, it excludes the Creative Arts categories, which I’ll peruse later).
There’s a lot of new content on Australian streaming services this week, and if you ever wanted to check out a free trial of Presto, now’s the perfect time to do it. In addition to the first season of Empire, the show that was the rare hit and kept building its audience after its premiere, seasons four and five of The Good Wife are dropping on Presto this Sunday (coincidentally my birthday). Seasons four and five of The Good Wife include the best stretch of episodes in the series’ run, from “Red Team, Blue Team” well into season five. Also dropping on Presto this Sunday: 48 films. Yes, I counted them. Stan has an Amy Schumer stand-up special and Lawrence Leung’s Choose Your Own Adventure, while Netflix has two original productions in Ricky Gervais’ Special Correspondents and true crime documentary Team Foxcatcher dropping later today. The Netflix production I’m most excited about is Marseille, the first original French language show on the streaming service, all of which drops on Thursday. There’s a lot of good content this week.
The Golden Globes is the first big awards ceremony to kick off the awards season when it comes to film. The problem here is that approximately 1% of the films that have been nominated have been released in Australia. Last year I used a randomiser to predict the film winners, but this year I’m going to leave my film predictions for the Oscars. There are still distribution issues with television in Australia, but it’s slowly getting better, and I think I’ve seen most of the nominated shows that I actually want to watch. It’s been a good year in television, and I like the complete unpredictability of the Hollywood Foreign Press, so every prediction I make will be worth a grain of salt.
Wednesday to Friday is my busiest time of the weeks, so I was completely unaware of the Golden Globe nominations until I got home today, which was about 6pm. I haven’t even read a full list yet, but I generally use the film nomination categories as a guide for what to see when they’re eventually released in Australia. The Golden Globes don’t have the best reputation when it comes to what HFPA chooses to award, but I like that they’re the only awards body to have recognised Amy Poehler’s work on Parks and Recreation. Anyway, I’m too tired to watch Please Like Me tonight, so I’m just going to give my impressions of some of the television categories. You can find the full list of nominees over at Vox.
This morning I read an article on the website iZombie Obsessed about fear that Rob Thomas’ newest show could be cancelled after a second season because ratings are declining, and what fans can do to prevent that. It appears that this information has come from The Cancellation Bear, a character that’s part of the TV by the Numbers website. Yes, ratings are the primary measurement for whether or not a show is renewed or cancelled, but they have to be analysed in context, and the changing way we watch television informs how those decisions are made. I’m not guaranteeing that iZombie won’t be cancelled at the end
Here’s some context in regards to the CW’s schedule: iZombie is paired with The Flash, which is the CW’s highest rated show. Yes, the viewership drops in the second hour, but the fact that the CW is willing to put those shows on the same night is a sign that they think that The Flash‘s audience will also enjoy iZombie. That they ordered five additional scripts for the show before the second season premiere is another sign that the network values the show. Also: just because there’s a decline in audience numbers, it doesn’t mean that those numbers are bad. Despite a fantastic slate of original programming (Mo Ryan’s article about Mark Pedowitz and The CW is a must-read), the CW is still a tiny network, the baby sister of CBS. When people talk about the broadcast networks and where they place, the CW is automatically excluded. None of the shows on the CW are NCIS or Empire, so we shouldn’t be expecting iZombie to be getting those kinds of numbers. Remember NBC’s Thursday Night comedy block? Community and Parks and Recreation never had great ratings, but Community got five seasons at NBC (and one at Yahoo), and Parks and Recreation got six. At their peak both were great shows, but the ratings were so poor that there was always fear of cancellation. However, NBC was performing so poorly at the time that it was a better bet to keep airing comedies with a guaranteed small audience than replace it with an unknown.
I could probably pay more attention to ratings than I do, but as an overseas viewer of American content, there’s not really anything I can do to keep the show on the air. Hannibal lasted for three years because of broadcast licensing outside the US, and given that iZombie is being fast-tracked in Australia on Stan, I’m sure that CBS and Warner Brothers are making money off the show that way as well. DVR numbers also need to be taken into account with Live+7 ratings. Furthermore, as we reach the era of Peak TV, there are more shows and content providers, which means that viewership isn’t going to be as large as it used to be, except in the case of Empire. In his latest ‘Ask Alan‘ video, Alan Sepinwall answered a question about why none of the new fall shows have been cancelled yet. He made the point that if a show performs poorly in a certain timeslot, there’s no guarantee that NCIS reruns are going to perform any better because there are so many other shows on. Some shows, like Fox’s Minority Report, have had their episode orders cut, which is a sign that they won’t be back next season. As I said earlier however, iZombie had its episode order increased from 13 to 18 before the season premiered, which is the opposite of what’s happening to shows that will definitely be cancelled.
Finally, there’s the Cancel Bear himself. As I said earlier, I don’t pay much attention to ratings, and TV by the Numbers is a good guide, but it’s not infallible. Furthermore, Myles McNutt wrote about the Cancel Bear two years ago, and provides the rules within which ‘he’ operates:
The Cancellation Bear is built around a fairly innocuous metaphor and a logical read on how the television industry works. It’s a metaphor that frames series on the same broadcast network against one another, being chased by a bear: in order to survive, a show doesn’t need to outrun the bear, but simply needs to outrun the other shows the bear will stop to devour first. It’s built around the relativity of television ratings, which TV By The Numbers argues is best considered within—rather than between—individual broadcast networks.
Based on this, I can understand why iZombie fans would be worried – The Bear is comparing their favourite show to the CW’s most popular, which is its lead in. Once again, you don’t give your show the best possible lead-in if you think it’s dead in the water, the CW has confidence in this show. What’s more telling is this section of McNutt’s post:
[TV by the Numbers] uses the Cancellation Bear as a front behind which it can insult “desperate fans” who would choose to look on the bright side.
iZombie is a cult show with less than stellar ratings. From Myles’ perspective, getting fans to worry about their favourite show being cancelled is part of The Bear’s appeal. Go and read the whole post, it’s even more true today than it was when it was written. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t love a show because you’ll be devastated when it’s cancelled. I’m still upset about Bunheads. I’m just saying that there are more factors that need to be taken into consideration than there were even five years ago, and combined with what I see as The CW’s confidence in iZombie makes me optimistic we’ll see a third season.
- I love this show, but I’m starting to think that things generally shouldn’t go beyond five or six seasons as a general rule.
“Without a Country” explores the consequences of the failed hostile takeover in the season premiere. Empire is a show that realises that just because you’re rich/famous/insert other adjective here, you’re not immune to consequences. This is one of the many problems I have with Scream Queens. Anyway, what happens has varying consequences for Andre, Hakeem and Cookie. Annika/Boo Boo Kitty is also around, and Cookie still hates her. We’ll get to that later. Over in prison, Lucious is suffering the consequences of messing with the DA. The music this week however, was not great. And Michael’s back for some reason, but that’s just how Empire rolls – there’s always a lot going on.
I saw an ad for The Blacklist today, which claimed it was America’s or the world’s biggest drama. No way, not when Empire is around. The fact that it’s been relegated to a secondary channel seems bizarre to me, but given that Network Ten has had very little success with scripted programming over the past few years (I really liked Party Tricks, but they won’t bring that back), it makes sense that they’re sticking to reality competition shows on their primary channel and moving imported dramas to Eleven. I don’t necessarily like it, but at least we’re getting Empire and Scream Queens within a week of their US broadcast. The season two premiere of Empire is all over the place tonally, and aside from the pilot, it’s the only episode I’ve watched outside of a binge.
This first season review of Empire is coming to you less than two hours before the second season premieres in Australia. Television has become a strange beast, and Empire is the story of 2015. It was the biggest broadcast hit in a decade during an era in which the television audience has become increasingly fragmented. Meanwhile, there has been almost zero promotion of this show in Australia. It’s the most popular show in the world (sorry NCIS), and tonight the second season debuts on Eleven, one of Network Ten’s secondary channels. I also found it really difficult to find Empire’s first season when it debuted in Australia, so I waited until it came out on DVD. It was worth the wait. Spoilers for this show and also the third season of Person of Interest, which got really good in its second season. If you want to watch it start from the first season finale.