September 23, 2009

The Good Wife (CBS) Tuesdays at 10:00 p.m. ET

We've seen it happen again and again, the wife standing by their man despite their past mistakes. Even more specifically, many question those women whose husbands play with their political power, why do they stay and how do they get through the scandals that haunt their family? The Good Wife follows Alicia Florrick, played masterfully by Julianna Margulies (seen in E.R and The Sopranos), as she becomes more pragmatic in life.

As the wife of a politician, her and her children's lives are turned upside down when her husband, the Attorney General Peter Florrick, is accused in a public sex and corruption scandal. So how does she deal with this? In moves the mother-in-law, and out goes the husband, as she turns her back and returns to her career in law, after 13 years.

She is having to start all over again, while juggling two teenage children and her estranged husband who is currently in jail but hoping to get out soon and let 'everything return to normal'. During a powerful scene while she visits her husband to get his signature for sale documents over their home, he thanks her for taking the reigns, for being the breadwinner while he is incarcerated but it won't be for long. Although literally she walks away from his, the consequences of his betrayal are far bigger than he thinks. It wasn't even the use of public money that effected her, it was his affairs.

But The Good Wife tackles the subject of these women head-on. At one point, Alicia’s new co-worker, Kalinda (Archie Punjabi), tells her, “You know what I don’t get? Why you stuck by him.” She finally asks the question which most people around Alicia were thinking.

The use of the word 'Good' in the title is ironic, as she is meant to represent the wife who never leaves the side of her husband, as seen in the first scene of the show. But when she is reminded of him sleeping with other women, she leaves his side and the audience is left wondering whether this is a show of forgiveness or whether the marriage is over.

Her first case when returning to work is on a pro bono murder accusation, while collecting together the facts and being through head first into the proceedings, Alicia finds that returning to work isn't going to be as easy as she thought. With a great performance from David Paymer, who plays no nonsense Judge Questa, he plays with Alicia throughout the case to get her to better herself every time. And then we return to that scene where she visits Peter, played by Chris Noth, he tells her about evidence being hidden, something he learnt about while in office. She uses this piece of advice and although it's not legal, it does shine questions over their relationship and the ethics of Alicia in both her business and home life.

What I have found with The Good Wife is that it doesn't become too self obsessed with itself. It gets past the whole wife going to work scenario and does what CBS does best, become slightly procedural from the lawyers point of view while contrasting the home life story seeping into her work life.

“I love how complicated she is,” Margulies said. “This is a woman who thought her life was going one way for many, many years. She trusted that life and that world she lived in. And then everything crumbles."

What we have learnt about Alicia though, what has been cemented is the many different sides to her, mother, breadwinner, lawyer and woman. This may not just be another legal show; it may be an exploration of relationships and a portrait of a woman making sure she doesn't go over the edge.

What is imaginative about this show is that although it is fictional, the ideas which come from it and the characters which have started to become established are very much real. It seems to represent a microcosm and deal with issues which aren't spoken about on television. The idea of Alicia having her own opinion, her own job, leaving the side of her husband is something that I am sure many women are going to appreciate watching.

I look forward to the next episode and think CBS have done well in establishing the show with it's pilot.

September 13, 2009

The CW: TV To Talk About

It's officially here, the 2009-10 Fall Season has begun and thanks to The CW, it's started in style. As someone who over the past few years has slowly realised that The CW is a network which although aimed at a quite specific demograph, they unusually, managed to capture the minds of many, many more.
They may be the only network with original programming which is
constant, which may not get the highest ratings but also delivers with the biggest buzz and gossip. Maybe thanks to the many years of hard work put into it, pre- CW, it finds itself in a pretty good position.
The network features a lineup of shows that, according to its President of Entertainment, Dawn Ostroff, "appeal to women 18 to 34-years-old." It has styled it's viewer, which may
not come as a surprise to many since the majority of its show are about exactly that: style. Money, sex, glamour, scandal; these are just some of the keywords that come to mind when describing some of the best rated shows on the network. Shows like One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl and 90210, have revived the teenage drama (not since the days of Beverly Hills 90210, Dawson's Creek and The OC) have such shows managed to capture the minds of so many and yet, according to Nielsen, so few!
It therefore doesn't surprise many that their shows do so well thanks to modern day technology, if their demographic is as they say it is, it's those people who use computers,
mobiles and mp3 players in the day to day life. They have never had to live without them, they stream, they download, they email, they recommend, they instant
chat, they record, they do pretty much everything but sit down on the sofa in prime time and watch. Their lives are too fast paced for schedules, they need options, watching on the go. Knowing they can travel to school, to work or to the shops with a copy of the latest episode on their iPods to be watched at their leisure. In the time of PVR's where television can be
recorded without a videotape, it is up to the viewer when they watch the show and therefore despite Nielsen Ratings being quite low for primetime, they don't take into account the fact that Gossip Girl is now the most downloaded programme in the world. They don't take into account that thanks to the internet, people all over the world stream before it's even hit their television screens, people don't want to wait, they want it now and if they can, they want it free.
That is why The CW have it so right. As I said before, they have consistency, ABC, FOX, NBC, CBS, HBO and Showtime, they all may have brilliant shows that we all watch, they may in fact have award winning, ratings winners but they don't quite create the media buzz that The CW shows do. That's because people, all people, pick and choose, there isn't a strict demographic per network, rather per show, some may watch three or four shows from ABC, two from FOX... you get the picture. Many people who watch The CW, watch the majority of it's original output.
Now, I just want to look at it's demograph, first they say they are aiming towards females... where does that leave the guys? Watching Desperate Housewives on ABC? American Idol on FOX? Perhaps I'm being biased, probably, the networks do present shows with a strictly male demographic as well, but well, how can any studio executive exclusively say they want a certain gender watching? I watch Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, Brothers & Sisters (shows which many may feel are slightly girly) but on the same hand I watch 24, House, LOST, Dollhouse (shows which many would see as more action, bulky, maybe aimed more at men)
and therefore perhaps networks are forgetting the middlemen, the people who are actually the cross section of television watchers, the TV fiends maybe (I would classify myself as
one!). I'll take a hint of Bree, mixed with Jack and top off with a bit of Serena anyday.
Perhaps, any given network needs to look at itself and understand a little more about the people that watch rather than the statistics?
Look at the new Fall schedules, FOX for example, what is the connection between The Simpsons, House, Glee and So You Think You Can Dance... apart from Glee and Dance having the music aspect, I don't see very much. Look any most other networks, there doesn't seem to be any keywords to describe what the network is presenting, but look at The CW and the story changes.

The CW8:00 p.m.8:30 p.m.9:00 p.m.9:30 p.m.
MondayOne Tree HillGossip Girl
Tuesday90210Melrose Place
WednesdayAmerica's Next Top ModelThe Beautiful Life: TBL
ThursdayThe Vampire DiariesSupernatural
FridaySmallvilleAmerica's Next Top Model (E)
Once the season is in full swing, I will be watching at least seven of these shows, quite a record I think. Can you see the connection between them? One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl, 90210, Melrose Place: dramatic, sexy, scandalous. The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, Smallville: sexy, supernatural, magical, powers... I am running out of descriptive words, but I am sure you get my point. There is consistency, there is a certain sort of individual who would enjoy everything that all these shows stand for, because at the end of the day, they are all the same. Now, maybe some would argue that this is boring, they want something different everynight, they want to be surprised, they are actually the minority. The CW cater for those in need of a guilty pleasure fix, they provide what the shows stand for. Teenagers and adults a like who for an hour or so everynight want to get away from their mundane lives and see what the rich live like, how vampires live, how models live: the beautiful people. Many of the stars throughout The CW shows are pin ups, they scream sex appeal, the women and men a like. Perhaps with their newest offering, they only back up that point.
Next time you are watching a CW show remember you are watching a show which is starting to represent your peers. Teenagers with their raging hormones may not go out partying and having sex all the time in real life, it's just not practical, but within the boundaries set by the network, its just normal life. They are fun, dramatic, erotic, imaginary but best of all stylised towards the viewer, not just the females but also men throughout the world enjoy watching shows like Gossip Girl, maybe they get something different out of the show to girls,
maybe they want to be cool like Nate or they just want to watch because Blair is so sexy, but at the end of the day, people are watching. Fans are growing for these shows, there is no use hiding
from it.

90210: The second season of the recently updated show returns to Beverly Hills with a bang. After the amazing season finale earlier this year, Anne is trying to deal with her hit and run, internalising everything. While the rest of the characters finish summer school, thanks to Annie phoning the police on Naomi's post prom party and try to enjoy what is left of their summer. To the beach club, where all the characters apart from Annie are hanging out because money doesn't matter, we can afford
it, darling. Swimming, lying on the beach, sex in a cabana, it's all in a days work and at the end of the day, it's scandal as they return to high school and Naomi has two things on her mind, Liam (last seen being dragged off to Army School) and bringing down Annie (who Naomi thought slept with Annie). This season promises to be as juicy as the previous with new characters including Teddy (who has already caused a stir and looks to be part of the bigger story about the hit and run).

Melrose Place: Another revamp from the 90210 world, this time, set around the apartment block which always promised scandal and suspense. For those who are just starting this world from the 2009 series, may not get the references to older characters from the original series,
but they are cleaned up rather quickly with the death of a major character from the original series, which is becoming the major story line for the first half of this season.
We meet the residents of the Place and see their everyday lives. With a soap style noir seeming to be going on, Melrose looks to be just as big as 90210, with a murder storyline as well as all the secrets that all the characters have.

The Vampire Diaries:
One of this seasons newest shows, based on the books by L.J. Smith, it centres around Elena Gilbert and two vampire brothers, Stefan and Damon, good and evil, fighting for her heart and her soul. Some say this is Twilight for TV but after watching the Pilot, I think this has potential for being darker, more violent and more erotic. It's nice to see Ian Somerhalder back (many will recognise him from LOST where he played Boone) as the dark Damon. This show seems to have an idea of how it wants to treat vampires, not quite as deep as Buffy did, exploring the vampire history, but perhaps giving the vampires back their myths which Stephanie Meyer took away for her series. I look forward to seeing what happens.

The Beautiful Life: I am looking forward to this one starring Mischa Barton (in her first television role since the death of Marissa in The OC). The life of a high-fashion model appears glamorous and sexy, but behind the beautiful fa├žade is a world of insecurity and cut-throat competition. Two teenage models, Raina Marinelli (Sara Paxton, “Last House on the Left”), a stunning beauty with a secret past, and Chris Andrews (Benjamin Hollingsworth, “The Line”), a strikingly handsome Iowa farm boy, living together in a “models” residence in New York, are about to discover this world for themselves. (From The CW press release). Also starring Corbin Bleu looking much more grown up since High School Musical and executively produced by Ashton Kutcher, this looks like a show which has a great idea, let's just see how they execute it.

Gossip Girl: The show gets more and more explosive every year. After the brilliant Season Two finale where the characters thought they would finally be getting away from Gossip Girl (narrated by the amazing Kristen Bell), she tells them that due to Serena's meddling in all affairs Gossipy, they would have the scandal commentator follow them through college (probably the only way to carry the show on as the characters had to leave High School at some point). What did Serena do over the Summer? (From the looks of the trailer, Carter Baizen), is Chuck remaining faithful to Blair?, what is Georgina (the character everybody loves to hate) doing back and staying?, what about Nate and his new girl (played by Joanna Garcia)? and why is Georgina kissing Dan? WTF, watch this fall to find out!

UPDATE: The debut of The CW's THE VAMPIRE DIARIES bared its fangs last night, and scored the network's largest audience EVER (4.84mil) for a series premiere, topping last year's 90210, according to preliminary live plus same day Nielsen ratings for Thursday, Sept. 10, 2009. (from