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Thursday, May 7, 2009
GM's new "Total Confidence" ad campaign doesn't inspire much confidence in this viewer.

Like most people in Corporate America, back in my suit-guy days I attended my share of ‘change management’ seminars (corpo-speak for a half-day’s brainwashing on how getting schtupped by the boss is good for you). Invariably the session leader would make a statement about how the railroad companies lost out to the private automobile in the early 1900s because they couldn’t think outside box: they thought they were in the train business and didn’t realize that they were in transportation business, the refrain typically went.


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Monday, May 4, 2009

There are plenty of reasons why Chuck is currently on the verge of cancellation. Its location on Monday nights leading into Heroes was supposed to be a great idea, but as Chuck began its first season, Heroes embarked on what would go on to be a universally derided sophomore slump of a season and unfortunately, Chuck seemed to be one of its casualties. In addition, the series has had to contend with the Dancing With the Stars juggernaut, the very established House, and CBS’s run of successful half-hour comedies. 


What should be just as obvious as all the obstacles facing Chuck in the ratings war is that this is a series that has managed to meld comedy, drama, romance, intrigue, and action with just the right balance to keep the story fresh and the audience it does have invested. This season’s final two episodes showcased brilliantly just how deftly it’s kept all these elements alive while creating a story with just as much over-the-top silliness as subtle emotional depth to keep fans rooting for its return. Oh, and there’s also that cliffhanger it ended on.


Tagged as: chuck, nbc
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Friday, May 1, 2009
Every Spring there are a handful of quality shows on the brink of cancellation by the major networks. Here is this year's crop of worthy programs that may not live to see another Fall.

Yes, it’s that time of year again. The network television season is wrapping up, and season finales begin to fly at us almost daily throughout the month of May. Along with the end of the tv season comes the network “upfronts”, when the five broadcast networks reveal their schedules for next Fall and set rates for their advertisers. It’s become tradition in the couple of weeks before the upfronts for tv critics and fans across the U.S. to mount campaigns to save shows that are “on the bubble”. There are always low-to-middlingly-rated shows that are of high quality, and many of these shows develop small but passionate followings. The tv junkies here at PopMatters are no exception. So here are five good shows on the edge of cancellation that could really use the help, but be forewarned, there are some mild spoilers contained within:


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Thursday, Apr 30, 2009

Here we are at the end of a rocky three years for Heroes. I was a big fan of the show in the first season. It was never a great show, but it had moments of greatness, was consistently entertaining, and had a cast of engaging characters. Sure, there were some troubling signs even then. Creator Tim Kring had never handled a genre project before, cutting his teeth as a writer on Chicago Hope and creating Crossing Jordan. But he filled the show with intriguing characters and gradually revealed their abilities as well as the plans of the shadowy organization behind the scenes. Despite Kring’s claims that he never really read comic books, somebody in the writers’ room certainly had. Plotlines throughout all three seasons have borrowed liberally from stories that would be familiar to any comic book geek, but at least the first season handled the stories with style.


Kring and his team started season 3 out with a lot of candid admissions about the problems of season 2 and a lot of promises saying that this season would be better. And while season 3 didn’t replicate the problems of season 2 (terrible pacing, characters literally off in their own worlds), it had a set of problems all its own. I was ready to give up on the show after Volume 3, “Villains,” ended in December, but since the season was divided into two different arcs, I decided to stick with it through the season finale and see where the show stood at that point. Well, here we are at the end of Volume 4, “Fugitives,” and I really am done with Heroes now.


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Monday, Apr 27, 2009

Bea Arthur’s death this past Saturday marks the passing of one of television’s distinctive voices. Her portrayal of Edith Bunker’s outspoken cousin on All In the Family led to a spin-off of her own with Maude and her Dorothy Zbornak on The Golden Girls stands out even among the three other wonderful characters on the series.


Beginning her career on the stage, she starred in Broadway productions of Fiddler on the Roof and most famously in Mame, a role she reprised for the 1974 film version with Lucille Ball. Her place in television history was assured during her guest starring episodes on All in the Family. Maude was a liberal and a feminist and the perfect counterpart to blustery Archie Bunker. Her apearance on the series was so striking that upon first seeing her on All in the Family, the network realized that Arthur had created a character with a life of her own and one who warranted her own series.


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