TV Commentary

Photo Courtesy Of USA Network

Photo Courtesy Of USA Network

WARNING: SPOILER ALERTS

We’ve all got people in our lives that takes great pride and pleasure in informing the rest of us that they don’t watch television. For those of you who keep the set off, please allow me to inform you that you’re doing yourself a great disservice. We’re living in a Platinum-Age of the medium with series emanating from a variety of sources, that’s helping to redefine television. One of those series at the top of the freshman class was the USA Network Original Drama “Mr. Robot,” that concluded its first season on Wednesday night, leaving viewers chomping at the bit for the show to return next summer.

Series Creator and Show-Runner Sam Esmail created a universe eerily like our own, complete with a stock-market reeling from vast fluctuations and the Ashley Madison scandal. (When the site that existed only to aid people in committing adultery got mentioned, I wondered if the scene between Gloria Reuben and Armand Shultz had recently been re-shot.) We left Esmail’s universe in complete chaos, mainly due to the efforts of a brilliant but deeply damaged computer programmer named Elliot Alderson. Elliot and his rag-tag band of fellow hackers, along with the assistance of a Chinese group known as the Dark Army, destroyed the global-economic-system. The moves of “f_society,” erased all debt and grounded commerce to a halt. The world became a cash-only system, as credit-cards were rendered useless.

That’s the big-picture view, but this is a story that examined the seemingly innocuous, unimportant, people that sent the planet on a downward spiral. Although Elliot Alderson’s our central character and anti-hero, he was just one of the incredible characters we met along this journey. We met lots of bad folks over the course of ten-weeks, some who hailed from the streets to those at the top of the economic and power structures of our world. However, we never met one person that could qualify as being truly good, even with the most sympathetic characters, we saw the darkness inside them and the demons they battle daily.

We’ve got to remember that we’ve viewed this universe mainly through the eyes of Elliot, so any conclusions we come to at the end of season one, could be refuted early next season. Even with that being stated, I think we can safely assume that the scenes revolving around Angela, the Wellicks and E-Corp were indeed real, including that mind-blowing segment after the credits rolled in the season finale. That reveal’s pretty mind-blowing, as we watch White Rose dressed in male-attire talking with E-Corp Chairman Phillip Price, we realize that everything’s indeed connected. That the person who pats you on the back with one hand, could easily be sticking a shiv into your belly with the other seconds later.

Photo Courtesy Of USA Network

Photo Courtesy Of USA Network

BD Wong the actor that portrayed the transgender character White Rose, only appeared on the screen for a precious few minutes during the ten episode run, but perhaps no other character in the series could make our collective draws drop during that conversation with Price in the final scene of the season. White Rose talks of Nero playing a lyre while Rome burned, then compares that anecdote to the harpist playing “Nearer My God To Thee,” for the One Percent in the room they’re in, the same song that played as the Titanic went down. We saw White Rose speaking for the Dark Army for three-minutes in episode seven wearing women’s clothes as she spoke with Elliot about his planned hack of E-Corp’s servers, telling Alderson that while he hacked people, White Rose hacks time. The connection became complete, when White Rose’s watch alarm sounded in the middle of her conversation with Price, letting us know that White Rose works both sides of the street in her business dealings.

Photo Courtesy Of USA Network

Photo Courtesy Of USA Network

Many of us figured out early on that Mr. Robot was actually an extension of Elliot, personified in the form of his late father Edward who died in 1995. He took on the role that Elliot couldn’t handle, being the Alpha-Male Leader and devising a plan to destroy the company that killed his father, while saving the world. What we didn’t realize until the series progressed, was just how mentally unbalance Elliot actually is, forgetting that Darlene’s his sister and realizing he’s blacked out the memories of the previous three days in the season finale. He’s got no memory of putting the hack into motion and perhaps more unnervingly, he’s clueless about the whereabouts and welfare of Tyrell Wellick. The former E-Corp executive paid Alderson a surprise visit and forced him to reveal his plans in the previous episode. Did Elliot shoot Wellick with the pistol stored in the popcorn machine?

Photo Courtesy Of USA Network

Photo Courtesy Of USA Network

Alderson did speak with Wellick’s wife Joanna about Tyrell and she said she hadn’t seen him in the last three days. She asked Elliot his identity and relationship with her husband. He responded that he worked with her husband as a consultant and told her his name’s Ollie, stealing the moniker of his friend Angela’s former boyfriend. During their conversation she suddenly spoke in what sounded like her native Dutch, but neither we or Elliot understood what she was saying. Does she secretly hope that Tyrell’s dead as he’s unable to fix the mistakes he made?

Elliot decides that the only way he can fill in the gaps in his memory, is to summon back Mr. Robot. After screaming for him to appear, Elliot forces the issue by dialing 911 and saying he wanted to make a confession. Suddenly we see Mr. Robot hanging up the land line, although he fails to offer any answers to his son. We finally get to view what it looks like to an outsider watching Elliot interacting with Mr. Robot. Although I imagined the scenario many times in my head over the past ten weeks, it looked even more chilling on the screen.

Photo Courtesy Of USA Network

Photo Courtesy Of USA Network

The one character that seemed to stick to her principles in order to gain justice Angela Moss, finally succumbed to the dark side in the season finale. Angela sacrificed her reputation and career in the tech industry to make a deal with Terry Colby so that he’d testify that E-Corp held responsibility for her mother and Elliot’s father’s death among others. However Colby convinced her to take a job in the public relations department of E-Corp, leading her to being present at a horrific event as E-Corp executive James Plouffe took a pistol from his suitcase and shot himself in the mouth during a nationally televised interview. Most times in those situations, we’ll see the character put a pistol in their mouth and the camera pans to a wall, that wasn’t the case with Plouffe as we saw the results of his actions.

Photo Courtesy Of USA Network

Photo Courtesy Of USA Network

A while later, we see Angela approached by Phillip Price who tells her she can feel free to go home after witnessing Plouffe’s suicide, but then he realizes who she is. She says they’re holding a press conference later that day and suggests she attend. Flustered by his seemingly callous suggestion, she says she thinks not, he proceeds to pull a bankroll out of his pocket and slams some bills down on the table in front of them. He says that she needs new shoes, as the ones she’s wearing are stained by Plouffe’s blood.

Courtesy Of USA Network

Courtesy Of USA Network

Instead of heading home Angela heads to a shoe store, where the shoe salesman figures out she just came from the room Plouffe shot himself in and asks her what she’s doing there and then asks how can she work for E-Corp. She starts to explain herself, but stops and then tells the salesman she’ll try on the Prada’s next. She’s become Terry Colby, getting drunk and eating shrimp-cocktail, while talking about sentencing Angela’s mother and others to death.

She returns to E-Corp for the press conference and Price’s glad to see her and lets her see the man behind the curtain. She tells Moss that in reality, he’s glad Plouffe killed himself and he thinks the world’s a better place now that he’s left it. He then excuses himself to take the podium and asks those in attendance to bow their heads in a moment of silence for their lost friend and colleague.

While the rest of  “f_society,” hosts a party in their headquarters so they can obscure their fingerprints in an investigation, Elliot heads down to Times Square and witnesses a sea of humanity standing together all wearing Mr. Robot masks. He suddenly realizes he’s got some uninvited company as well, not only his father but his mother and the eight-year-old version of his self. Little Elliot tells his adult counterpart that the three of them will stay with Elliot from here on out.

Photo Courtesy Of USA Network

Photo Courtesy Of USA Network

Elliot tries to block out all the sights and sounds so he can think, he holds his hands to his ears and suddenly he’s the only person in Times Square and it’s totally silent. That’s until he sees his family up on the Jumbotron that dominates Times Square. His father tells him to get on the subway, go home and sit behind his laptops and revel in the chaos he caused. Which he does until a knock at the door interrupts him, we’ll find out next summer whose knocking.

Elliot Alderson Is Tyler Durden-Fight Club Font

Images Courtesy of USA Network and 20th Century FOX

Let’s clear up a couple of things before I even get started. This theory has not been confirmed by anyone associated with Mr. Robot or USA Network. This is just a theory that has been floated by viewers after the conclusion of episode 2. For the uninitiated, Tyler Durden is the brilliant character portrayed by Brad Pitt in the movie, “Fight Club”. If you have not seen Fight Club and have it on your to-do list, I strongly suggest you heed the SPOILER ALERT warning here.

Warning: Spoiler Alert

On the surface, an argument can be made between Mr. Robot and Fight Club being similar as they both deal with the notion of taking down the national financial system. As a way of liberating the American people from the shackles of debt. The idea that we are slaves to our own need for material things and the control those institutions have over us. Mr. Robot takes that notion a step further by introducing the dependency we have on social media and technology in general. The large bottom line being that we really don’t NEED either one. But both serve as a means to control us.

Tyler Durden has a very real anger toward this dependency society has forced. As if he’s the only sane person walking amongst a world of lemmings. Droves of people living a miserable existence that comes with the pursuit of possessions. Such an anger towards it that it propels him to take things way beyond the typical level of his own anger. Instead, he mounts a movement to do something about it. Disregarding the consequences or even those who may be hurt in the process. This is a war worth winning at almost any cost.

Tyler Durden: I see all this potential, and I see squandering. An entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

The ballad of Elliot Alderson is not all that different. From the very beginning, Elliot loathes ‘society’. The small difference is that Elliot does not discern the difference between possessions and society. Elliot sees all of it as the devil on your shoulder. From the jobs we work, to make the money, that affords us the ability to buy the things we don’t need. If that was where it ended, it would be a much clearer parallel. Elliot takes it a few steps further. Including social media, the celebrities we view as heroes despite evidence to the contrary, the time and energy we spend on our technical devices cluttering each other with benign information that doesn’t improve our lives, and so on.

Elliot Alderson: Is it that we collectively thought Steve Jobs was a great man, even when we knew he made billions off the backs of children? Or maybe it’s that it feels like all our heroes are counterfeit. the world itself is just a big hoax. Spamming with our running commentary of bullshit masquerading as insight, our social media faking as intimacy. Or is it that we voted for this? Not with our rigged elections, but with our things, our property, our money. I’m not saying anything new. We all know why we do this, not because Hunger Games books make us happy but because we wanna be sedated. Because it’s painful not to pretend, because we’re cowards. F society.

Now one small difference is how Elliot perceives himself as a relative Robin Hood. In some small measure taking down people electronically who deserve to be taken down for the betterment of those they influence. Whereas Durden, almost from the beginning has his focus set on a massive overthrowing of the system. In some way, Elliot sees himself as just a guy trying to do what he can to make things better. That is until the end of the pilot episode when we hear him think:

Elliot: Sometimes I dream about saving the world. Saving everyone from the invisible hand.

Another striking difference between the two characters is the sympathetic nature (or not) of those two characters. From the very first moment, Elliot Alderson is very much a sympathetic character. You the viewer, may not suffer from social disorders. Don’t have an addiction to a substance used to take the edge off of depression. Maybe you don’t work for a company that embodies that thing you hate most in the world. But everyone can relate on some level to his pain, his frustration, and his desire to make things better, especially for those who you care about.

Conversely, Tyler Durden is not a sympathetic character. He is a cool character, but not a sympathetic one. Almost everything he does is abrasive. While the reason makes sense to most, the means do not. Most of us wouldn’t insert pornographic frames into a kids movie for the fun of it. We would bomb buildings or infiltrate a fundraiser to make a point. There is almost nothing about Durden’s actions that embody anything the average viewer would ever consider doing. And that, is the point. That’s what makes his character what it is. He is willing to step over lines that we are not. Again, Tyler Durden is a cool character. Enjoyable to watch. But he is not a sympathetic character.

Now in order to tie those two together we have to make some assumptions about Elliot and his character development that we may not see for a few episodes. The elephant in the room is obvious. From what you know of Elliot to this point, vs. what Mr. Robot wants to do, how far is Elliot willing to go? He’s already stated that he won’t kill anyone. If push comes to shove, would he stand firm on that conviction or would he eventually transition into believing in the sense of the greater good? We’ll get back to that shortly.

So far, this entire theory is built on conceptual parallels. For anyone who saw this parallel before reading this article, its clear we need to observe the visual evidence. Fight Club is able to show Tyler Durden interacting with the protagonist in the real world. Or so we thought. The beauty of Fight Club comes at the end. The conclusion to the movie illustrates very clearly that despite what you thought for the previous two hours, Tyler Durden is not real. Tyler Durden was never in any of the scenes we thought he was. Tyler Durden is a figment of the protagonist’s imagination. The alter ego that lies dormant in the Narrator’s mind. The person he wishes he could be.

Here’s where Mr. Robot comes into the equation. In Fight Club we have the Narrator and Tyler Durden. In USA Network’s “Mr. Robot” we have three participants. Mr. Robot (Christian Slater), Elliot Alderson, and what I have dubbed “Inner” Elliot Alderson. Mr. Robot the character seems just as real as Tyler Durden did. We see Mr. Robot talking to Elliot on the train. At the abandoned store in Coney Island. On the Ferris Wheel. Sitting on the pier. We even see him in the promo for episode three at the All Safe offices. But ask yourself this very simple question. Has anyone other than Elliot acknowledged Mr. Robot’s existence? Every time they speak, no one else is in the shot. And if they are in the shot, they don’t acknowledge Mr. Robot. Believe me, I went back and re-watched specifically for this. At no point does anyone ask Mr. Robot a direct question, move out of his way, call him by any name at all. In this sense Mr. Robot is the Tyler Durden of this analogy.

Now to further complicate the analogy. Before we even really get to know Mr. Robot, we are firmly introduced to “Inner” Elliot. Elliot talks to him repeatedly. This isn’t an inner monologue. This is Elliot talking to himself as if Inner Elliot is going to respond. Things like, “Are you seeing this?” and “You’re in this too, time to start doing your part.” There is a sense by the end of the second episode that Inner Elliot is the take action part of Elliot’s personality that the real him wishes he were. Inner Elliot is what decided that Ron of Ron’s Coffee, Michael Hanson, and Fernando Vega had to be taken down. So in this case, Inner Elliot is the Tyler Durden of the analogy.

With these lines drawn between characters and show vs. movie, that leaves us with the final and most telling question. And if you are following this logic, you have already answered the question. Is Elliot Alderson actually Mr. Robot? Elliot and Inner Elliot can be halves of the same whole. But then where does that leave Mr. Robot? If he doesn’t actually exist in reality he has to exist somewhere. Insert the late nights and drug cocktail that real Elliot uses to keep his balance of sanity. In the opening scene Elliot admits that he is a tech for a cyber security firm by day and a hacker vigilante by night. It is plausible that Elliot is the tech and Inner Elliot is the hacker vigilante. Two halves of the same whole. Leading us to conclude that Inner Elliot has not only conjured Mr. Robot out of Elliot’s subconscious, but also did all of the leg work to make it real.

Inner Elliot would have the where with all to find the old abandoned store front. Find the hackers. Test the hackers. Create a plan for taking down Evil Corp. And keep all of it secretive enough that the real Elliot would not find any mention of it anywhere. It is possible that with the drug use and the social disorders, that Inner Elliot could have been doing all of this under Elliot’s nose. So to speak. Then there is the relative possibility that unbeknownst to Elliot, he actually suffers from split personality disorder as well. As portrayed in the film, Primal Fear (also an Edward Norton performance), when the secondary personality takes over, the primary personality is completely unaware.

The conclusion here being, if Tyler Durden is a manifestation of what Edward Norton’s character wishes he were, then Inner Elliot is a manifestation of the hacker Elliot wants to be and to facilitate the process, Inner Elliot created the manifestation of Mr. Robot. Mr. Robot essentially becomes Charon (or Kharon). In Greek mythology, Charon is the ferryman for Hades. Thus, Mr. Robot was created to ferry the real Elliot away from his feeble and unimportant existence over to the one embodied by the Inner Elliot.

Elliot Alderson, Inner Elliot, Mr. Robot are all the same person. Thus, Elliot Alderson is Tyler Durden.

 

Photo Courtesy Of WBTV

Photo Courtesy Of WBTV

“A good Network apologizes for the mistakes of the past, but a great Network corrects them.”

We likely have all made decisions that we wish we could take back, unfortunately life rarely gives the chance to go back and change things. The ABC Network finds itself in that rare position, where they can rectify a bad decision and solve a scheduling program in the process. According to “Variety,”  the network has pulled their robes and sandals drama Of Prophets And Kings, from its prime-time schedule next fall. The periodical also reports that the network will move another new series Quantico, from its previous slot and now air the show Sunday night’s at 10:00 pm.

Moving the series that revolves around a group of rookie FBI Agents to Sunday nights, now leaves a hole in the network’s schedule on Tuesday night’s at 10:00pm EST. Is it perhaps more than coincidence, that the gap in the schedule is the same slot that “Forever,” occupied this past season? Would the ABC Network consider bringing back a show, that many fans are still discovering, and whose long-time fans have worked day and night to find the show a new home?

Rather than to rush a series to the air to fill that time-slot, the network with a call to Warner Bros. TV, the network can fix a programming snafu, while becoming heroes to a fan base that refuses to let the show die. Perhaps the best thing is, that ABC can promote the show all summer, giving it the exposure and the marketing it deserved its first time around the track. They can also use the summer to promote it heavily on the network’s website, streaming all 22-episodes, all summer long.

Long after the viewers of other cancelled shows have accepted their collective fate, the rabid fan-base has tightened their belts and doubled their efforts. Petitions to find the show a new home, have gone viral on the net, “Twitter” is jam-packed with tweets about the show and each day Facebook pages devoted to show, gain members at an astounding clip.

With the reports that the network needs a show to fill their old slot, series creator and show-runner Matt Miller, called on the fans to start tweeting ABC about bringing back the series. Donnie Keshawarz, who portrays NYPD Detective and former lead singer of the Craniacs Mike Hanson, took to Twitter Tuesday night with this message “Calling all @Foreverists! Given the recent issues over at ABC, there’s no better time to launch a tweet assault on them to bring us back!!”

ABC has a great opportunity to bring back a show that’s far more popular now, than when they decided not to renew it. Forever will air a Season Two, the only question that remains is if ABC is smart enough to take that second chance.

Photo Courtesy Of ABC

Photo Courtesy Of ABC

Warning: Spoiler Alerts

It Ain’t Over Till The Fat Lady Sings.”

With apologies to the Bard: I come to praise “Forever,” not to bury it. Although the ABC network declined to renew the Warner Bros. TV series for a second season, the show’s rabid fan-base have yet to give up the fight for this magical show. Some folks just don’t know when to quit and thankfully the incredibly loyal fans of Forever, fall into that category.

Rather than accept the fate handed down by ABC, they have circled their wagons and banded together, to send a message to the studio, that the show must go on. They have taken to Twitter, Facebook and other social-media sites, to spread the word and to recruit others for their fight.

Television viewers get disappointed constantly, by shows that look great on paper but fail to live up to expectations. However, when a series hits the airwaves, firing on all eight-cylinders and leaving viewers with a smile on their faces as the episodes concludes, it needs to be recognized as something special and given time to find an audience. ABC had such a show in Forever, but they lacked the foresight or the patience to allow the show to blossom and fulfill its destiny, to join the ranks of the best shows in the history of the medium.

There’s a laundry list of reasons that Forever never acquired a huge audience, but those problems lie at the feet of the network. ABC scheduled the show in a time-slot they’d gotten walloped in, during the previous three seasons. Rather than concentrate on the fact that the series brought far more viewers to the network than any of its predecessors in the three previous campaigns, they expected a freshman series to defeat a Top-Twenty show, like Person Of Interest?

The network also failed to market the show properly. After trotting the series out on the internet a few weeks before it aired and promoting the series strongly, ABC nearly abandoned the show after weak numbers in its third outing. They packed up the circus and moved it down the road, even taking Forever off the network’s website’s landing page. Although the show brought in some big-name actors, among them Billy Baldwin, Jane Alexander and Academy Award winning actor Cuba Gooding, ABC failed to promote the show.

In this cookie-cutter age of Television, ABC had a unique series that they didn’t know how to market.  Is it a procedural, a love story, a sci-fi/fantasy story, yes it’s all those but doesn’t really fit into any pre-designated slot. Series creator Matt Miller gave life to a universe centered around Dr. Henry Morgan, a NYCPD Medical Examiner with a bit of a secret. He’s lived for over 235-years and regenerates every time he’s killed. Brilliantly portrayed by Ioan Gruffudd, we witnessed life through Morgan’s eyes for 22-episodes, taking us on a trip through time as well as exploring the life he’s built, in the present.

The secret for entertaining television, is quite simple in concept, yet so hard to achieve in reality: Great writing and acting. They assembled a cast of very talented actors, who had incredible chemistry together. Anchored by veteran actor Judd Hirsch, playing Morgan’s adopted son Abraham and Alana De La Garza, as Henry’s partner Detective Jo Martinez, the supporting cast’s consists of flesh and blood, three-dimensional characters. They refused to settle for stereotypical characters, on most shows, Detective Mike Hanson, (Donnie Keshawarz) would constantly be busting Morgan’s assistant Lucas Wahl’s (Joel David Moore) chops, as a comic-relief device. However the characters developed a mutual respect and affection for each other.

During Forever’s first season we followed Morgan back through history starting in the early 19th Century, when Henry got shot in the heart, trying to save the life of a slave. When his body got thrown off the ship he was killed on, he miraculously returned to life, a situation he’s since gone through countless times over the past 200-years.

We watched Morgan get betrayed by his first wife Nora, whose fear caused her to get him committed to an asylum, then we saw Henry give his heart to another woman in 1945. She would turn into the love of his life, Henry’s English Rose, Abigail. Stationed in Germany as World War II concluded, they found a healthy infant boy in Auschwitz and raised him as their own. Seventy years later that boy, now resembles Henry’s father, more than Morgan’s son.

The show resolved what happened to Abigail, who left Morgan in 1985 and at least temporarily have subdued Henry’s fellow immortal Adam. Although we perceive Adam as a psychopath, he explains himself as the results of a decent guy living for two thousand years. Unlike Morgan, Adam looks at his prolonged stay on Earth as a curse and he has no regard for the value of human life. In the season-finale, Morgan injected Adam with some chemical concoction, that made the immortal a prisoner in his own body. He has no control of his body, yet he’s fully aware of all that goes on about him.

Morgan’s partner Jo Martinez, called Morgan out in the closing moments of the finale, asking him to explain his recent behavior as well as a photo from the forties, as he stands next to Abigail, whose got Abraham in her arms. Season one concludes with Henry saying to Jo “It’s a long story…”

Matt Miller and his writing team, did a nice job of wrapping things up in the series final couple of episodes. If a season two for Forever is not on the horizon, then the crew has a wonderful season that can be preserved in amber, with each fan creating their own version of the upcoming conversation between Jo and Henry.

However fans of this wonderful series, including this fan, are not ready to give up the fight for Forever quite yet. Three Facebook/Twitter pages, dedicated to the series have banded together, trying to find a new home for the series. They have set up a petition that you can sign, asking Warner Bros. TV to keep Forever alive. You can also visit and join all three pages on Facebook: Forever Fan Page, Foreverists Group for Forever Fans and The Official Ioan Gruffudd Group.

Show runner Matt Miller is aware of and supports these efforts. They are concentrating on talks with Netflix, Hulu and TNT, among others at present. Forever deserves a better fate than for it to get discovered as a “Lost Classic,” in ten or twenty years. The cast and crew of Forever, have just skimmed the surface in this first season, hopefully Warner Bros. TV will keep Forever alive.

Courtesy of NBC

Courtesy of NBC

We here at NotJustAnotherTVSite.com judge all major decisions on one primary criteria. Does it measure up to our expectation of quality? It seems simple enough. If it’s a show that we’ve decided to preview, promote, and cover episode to episode, you can rest assured the particular show in question maintains a certain level of quality. For the record, there have been shows that we have been over-the-moon excited for and ultimately decided that it’s time to walk away. Why? Because those shows failed to meet our quality expectation. NBC’s Constantine, is absolutely NOT one of those.

NBC’s choice to produce Constantine, and more importantly, this vision of Constantine was brave. NBC should be celebrated for that by the way. Like so many comic book adaptations pre-Marvel Cinematic Universe, were ‘adequate’. They were entertaining, but they were also made with the understanding that they had to be workable for most audiences, not just the comic book underworld. Spawn, Daredevil (2003), etc as comic book adapted movies were nice, but compared to today’s expectations would have fallen flat on their face. The comic book television landscape was even worse.

The point is that today’s audience does not need their show dumbed down or made palatable for all time zones. Constantine has done that. Constantine is born from the same genesis as Marvel’s MCU and recent successes as Netflix’s Daredevil. Do yourself a favor. Google Netflix Daredevil and read just some of the feedback. You’d think it was the highest rated show of the calendar year. The showrunners at NBC working on Constantine kept one very important detail constant. Tell the story from an adapted version of the comic books, Hellblazer. The 2003 Keanu Reeves feature was the product of Hollywood changing all of the incredible details in order to make a production that appeals to as many people and demographics as possible.

Appealing to mass demographics is good. High ratings are good. They help sell ad revenue. When I was in the radio industry, one thing was always made clear. All of it is window dressing if the end product doesn’t bring in ad revenue. Ad revenue was literally what kept the lights on. Not to sound too idealistic, but NBC can make its money from their heavy hitters. I began this article by citing quality. Now anyone who knows anything about TV knows there is a direct and inverse relationship between numbers and quality more often than not. NBC is still going to make a killing from shows like Law and Order and Celebrity Apprentice. Every now and then the two powers of ‘quality’ and ‘are they watching’ converge perfectly. The Blacklist is a great example of that. The Blacklist is an incredible show and people are watching it. In the case of Constantine, it was playing against stacked odds from the beginning.

Courtesy of Vertigo/DC Comics

Courtesy of Vertigo/DC Comics

Let’s address the elephant in the room. Placing a comic book adaptation show that the vast majority of viewers are not familiar with late on a Friday night was borderline criminal. Comic book adaptations draw, period. Maybe this is a ‘strike while the iron’s hot’ situation, but it is true and really not up for debate. Next to no one watches television on a Friday night, and they definitely don’t do it live. Putting them on Friday nights, then graciously moving them up in the time slot but keeping them on Friday nights, put Constantine behind the eight ball and NBC knows that. This is 30 Rock vs Studio 60 all over again. Anyone with an objective eye could look at the first few episodes of Studio 60 and the first few episodes of 30 Rock and know without question, Studio 60 was the better show. Without a good time slot and promotion, better shows are going to continue to fall.

Promotion is another factor that had Constantine playing catch up. Before NBC rolled out The Blacklist, every American knew this show was going to be big. All because of promotion. There were promos and trailer for The Blacklist everywhere. On sports broadcasts, on shows that had no relation or connection at all. Spader was out there. The Blacklist was going to be successful because it had the full weight and support of the network. Constantine was never given that opportunity. You cannot produce a show based on a comic book very few people have any real familiarity with and just let people stumble upon it and hope it takes off. It doesn’t work that way.

The last detail I’ll get into before talking specifics about the show, is audience. Not everyone is going to “Get It”. If the aim is to maximize viewership by making something that will appeal to everyone in the same way, make nothing but what some call “Lowest Common Denominator” television. Keep cranking out Law and Order, Chicago Fire, Parks and Recreation. There is a large and growing audience that wants no part of L.C.D. programming. To some of us, procedural is a four letter word. And in this “DVR Era” we, the viewer, can afford to be more choosy of what we watch and we get to dictate when we watch it. Now I have no idea if the ratings system has accounted for the current television era where the DVR has completely changed the way we watch television. Side note to television networks. I watch and obscene amount of television. Yet, I have not watched a non-sporting event (or game broadcast) live in almost 7 years. I sincerely hope you are taking that into account. Especially when you put a great show on Friday nights.

At the end of the day, you have the audience that will watch Bones, Big Bang Theory, CSI: Whatever, Survivor, Glee, etc and you are going to have the audience that has no interest in predictable, safe television. Serialized, big story arcs, sympathetic characters facing unbelievable trials is just more compelling to some than others. That my friends, is the difference. Ratings can no longer be a race to first. These networks need to start evaluating success and failure by two different groups at the same time. Take a look around the television landscape. It is getting very competitive. We really are experiencing a television and cinematic renaissance. You just have to navigate through the mountains of garbage to find it. If networks like NBC are going to continue to grade shows like Constantine under the same criteria as The Voice or Bad Judge, then another elite show is going to fall by the wayside. It’s not the same type of television and they cannot continue to paint all of these shows with the same brush.

Constantine is great. End of discussion. For anyone who has not yet seen it, take my word for it, Constantine is one of the better shows of the calendar year, regardless of network or time slot. That said, it did not start out that way. A large component in that again goes back to promotion by NBC, or lack thereof. If NBC had titled the show “Hellblazer” or ran far more promotion illustrating that this show was not going to be the story released in 2003 starring Keanu Reeves, then expectation and therefore results might have been different. They made very few attempts to convey that. So, most people went in with a certain expectation, which was not met.

The pilot episode on its own merits is alright and had the show continued on that trajectory, I would not be writing this piece now. By my expectations, the pilot episode was bad. Bad as in significantly underwhelming. So much so (again just my opinion) that I actually called up a colleague at the website to inform him I would not be posting a recap, but a ‘here’s what’s wrong with it’ piece. Thankfully, the consensus was to do just that, but leave room just in case they right the ship. The second episode is 100% better. By the time we are introduced to Papa Midnite, we’re off to the races and the show is exactly what it was supposed to be. Dark, intriguing, compelling, ever-changing, straddling the line between angels and demons lore and the plot plausibility. This is the problem.

The pilot episode feels like it had NBC’s Standards and Practices grubby little hands all over it. The pilot was bright and warm by comparison to the later episodes. When doing a comic book adaptation, visual texture is key. There is a reason The Dark Knight and Arrow were so wildly successful. You cannot produce a show like Constantine with that bright, bubbly sort of way. Thankfully the showrunners for Constantine were able to come back to their base and it begins with texture. Visual interpretation. Again, never more clear than the first introduction to Papa Midnite. By episode four, Constantine was must see TV. However, not many were watching it because the show stumbled out of the gate. If they were to run the show we came to build a strong affection for and aired it on Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday in primetime the results would have absolutely been different.

Courtesy of NBC

Courtesy of NBC

Constantine may be a show or story about angels, demons, magic and one man in the middle of all of it, but it is very much character driven. Characters are the vehicle to success. Every single significant character is sympathetic and compelling. From there, all they have to do is tell the story. The story from the perspective of the comic book adaptation, not a major networks softer, lighter version of that story.

As it stands now, Constantine ended on a MASSIVE cliffhanger. Probably the biggest season finale reveal I’ve seen in a few years. I remember it clearly. Watching as the clock ticked down, I was certain I knew what would happen next and how the episode and season would conclude. When people say, “I had to pick my jaw up off the floor” it’s always blanketed in hyperbole. Now my jaw may not have been on the floor, but I easily could have caught a family of insects with how wide and long my mouth was open at the final moments of the season finale.

There are still very important details yet to be dealt with. Big, incredible, trajectory altering details. To drop this show now, simply put, would be irresponsible. Look, I understand that NBC is still a business that has to deem a certain show profitable. I don’t think anyone is naive to that concept, but there are three hugely important concepts that I fear NBC is not even considering. 1. They put Constantine in a position to fail before it even began-not the show’s fault, 2. The audience they are trying to reach is not the Law and Order crowd, and 3. Sometimes a show is just flat-out better than others that create more revenue. You could not pay me to watch Celebrity Apprentice or The Slap. Sometimes the better, higher quality show should just win the day. On the merits of quality. Not because it makes more money, but because it is just a better product.

Here’s the kicker. It is my opinion that Constantine has not developed a consistent form of high ratings…YET. Move the show to a more appealing time slot and let people figure it out. One of my favorite quotes in all of television history (ironically from a show cancelled way too soon) is:

“I believe the people who watch television shows are not dumber that the people who make television shows. I believe that quality is not an anathema to profit.” -Jordan McDeere (Studio 60 Live On The Sunset Strip)

American television viewers are not dumb. They have the wherewithal to handle and in fact embrace a wide range of concepts and delivery methods. Despite popular belief, this country is not filled with Honey Boo Boo and Kardashian enthusiasts. We the viewers long for shows that push the envelope. That breach concepts and topics we haven’t embraced before. We want to empathize and build affection for characters. We want to feel like we have ‘experienced’ something from our TV watching time. We are in a different era of modern television. It’s about time NBC and other major networks got on board with this idea. Constantine does not need to be their bread-winner. It only needs to continue being what it is. One of the top 10 best shows on television. I don’t care what the ratings indicate. Give it a better time slot and let the showrunners, cast and crew do their jobs. The numbers will come. You just have to get out-of-the-way and let it happen.

If you’re a fan of Constantine, help spread the word. It is my understanding that showrunner, Mr. Daniel Cerone is set to pitch season 2 to NBC at the end of this month (April) beginning of next (May). And it seems NBC is willing to listen to fan outcry. So let’s do just that. We live in a new world. Utilize it. Access your Twitter account, your Facebook account, email NBC directly. Do whatever you must to explicitly and without any confusion articulate to NBC that they CANNOT let this one go. They cannot walk away from this show. And that it is not in their best interests to let Constantine die. The best shows available still only make up less than 10% of what’s out there. We cannot lose this one. Whether your efforts are here with us at NJATVS, social media or directly on NBC’s lap, take the time to support this effort. Use the established #saveconstantine or the more direct #renewconstantine and show those in charge that this show has a following, it’s larger than they think, and we will continue to support this series.

If you have not yet seen Constantine season 1, or feel you somehow missed out and need to give it another shot, NBC starting today Friday April 24th, will make the entirety of season 1 available to stream on their website for a limited time. Go to NBC.com (or the NBC app) and discover it for the first time or revisit it again. I don’t know if streaming numbers for this limited run is a test balloon or not. What I do know is that it’s worth watching, even if all that does is send NBC a message.

I can count on one hand the number of current shows that I would bang my fist against the table for. Constantine is one of them. The show did not get a fair shake and was judge by unbalanced criteria. Do your part to help the people who put this show together. Save Constantine. Make sure NBC knows they NEED to Renew Constantine.

#saveconstantine #renewconstantine

#saveconstantine #renewconstantine

Collage Designed And Created By Jason Jones

Collage Designed And Created By Jason Jones

Although the landscape of Television’s changed dramatically, since it first became embraced by Americans in 1947, in many ways TV hasn’t changed at all. Most viewers have no idea, why the Prime-Time schedule, kicks off in September, (the answer’s revealed below) or that the tradition’s a carry-over from radio. The question in 2015, however is if a system that originated in the early 1930’s in another medium, still works for Television today? The most frequent complaint I receive about Television’s, why do shows go on either extended, or frequent hiatuses, during the TV season. The answer’s due to maintaining the same structure that TV used during its first 20-years, of popularity, does that formula still work today?

Television first started becoming commercially viable in the United States, nearly 70-years ago and though many of that era’s shows, now seem crude and rudimentary, others developed formats still in use today. Many of the first Television stars, made the transfer over from radio, which entertained Americans, for nearly the two previous decades. Others, were former vaudevillians like Milton Berle who got dubbed “Mr. Television,” in the late forties and dominated homes on Tuesday nights. New York City reported that the water pressure would change radically, during commercials, due to the mass exodus to the bathroom.

Why does the Prime-Time schedule begin in September? Because that’s when American car manufacturers, a major advertiser on Radio and TV, introduced their new model’s for the following year. For the first few episodes of every season, the programs were loaded with automobile manufacturers, touting all the new models of their cars. Pretty much a case of the tail wagging the dog, but Radio and Television lived exclusively on advertising dollars. This was decades, before cable and satellite radio, where subscriptions, pay the bills.

The format started by radio, then carried over to TV, called for a show to run new episodes 39-weeks a year, then a Summer Series, would fill the void for the remaining 13-weeks. Audio-tape, didn’t exist during radio’s heyday, or videotape for many years in the world of television, so repeats were difficult to air. You’ve likely seen old TV shows on kinescope, a process where someone would actually use a movie camera aimed at Television screen, to send to the Western States, as we lacked the coast to coast coaxial cable setup we acquired in the sixties.

In the late sixties, the medium cut back new episodes to 26, to fill those 39-weeks, thus the repeat came into being. If you watched the show weekly, you got disappointed when repeats aired, however in the days before DVRs and VCRs, it gave viewers a chance to catch shows they missed the first time around. It also encouraged viewers to watch other shows, some of which became massive hits, after getting low-numbers earlier in the campaign.

Shows such as All In The Family, Hill Street Blues and Cheers, eventually all reached the number one spot in the Nielsen ratings, after looking like they’d get cancelled before its completion, started airing repeats. Of course the major networks, showed more patience with a show back then, especially if the series met the parameters of a quality show.

The networks altered the dynamics again, in the nineties, when they reduced their orders on episodes to just 22 per-season. Summer replacement series were no longer the norm, so more than half of the viewing year became repeat broadcasts. Cable networks, starting with HBO and Showtime, started producing Original Series, that began siphoning off a good percentage of the networks viewers. Before long, other networks, such as USA, AMC, TNT and A & E, followed suit. AMC of course produced two groundbreaking series in Breaking Bad and Mad Men and now have two new series, Halt And Catch Fire, which debuted last summer and Better Call Saul, which is currently airing.

TNT has become a prominent source of quality programming, introducing, Murder In The First, The Last Ship and Legends, last summer, all of which will return in a few months, for their second series. Our cousins from “Across The Pond,” have established BBCA, which includes the legendary series Doctor Who and one of my favorite series, The Musketeers, now in its second season.

To counter the competition, the networks introduced these “hiatus-periods,” for many of their series, sometimes replaced by limited run series, or a series of specials. We now commonly hear references to the fall season, or the winter season, in network promotions, terms that suddenly appeared out of nowhere a few years ago.

So now we’ve come full circle and face the question at the beginning of this article, does the system still work in 2015 and if not, then what can be done to improve things? With all the competition, from cable networks and new sources such as Netflix, Hulu-Plus and Amazon, is the system that the networks still hold into, now outmoded?

Many of the reasons behind the system still in use, are no longer relevant. During the days of radio shows and the first couple of decades of Television, Sponsors could host a TV show, leading to titles such as the Texaco Star Theater, Starring Milton Berle and the Kraft Music Hall. That changed due to a ruling in the late sixties and led to the variety of commercials we currently see. Secondly, there’s no longer the big kickoff to the model year for cars, so there really isn’t any reason, why the TV Campaign kicks off in September. With MLB playoffs and the World Series, the start of the NFL season and election coverage, once every four years, is September still the best time to start the season?

If we divide our 52-week year by four, we come up with the number 13. Would having four 13-week seasons of series, be preferable over the system now in place? After all how many series, can truly come up with 22 superior episodes, especially after the show’s been around the block for a while? For a series in its first couple of campaigns, the creative people are bursting at the seams with creativity, but as season ten of Supernatural attests to, it’s really rough creating 22 great episodes ten-years into a series. What if Supernatural only had 13-episodes this season and got supplemented by a spinoff series, concentrating on reoccurring character Charlie Bradbury, called The Adventures Of Charlie? Could something like that work for networks and viewers alike?

An idea that I’ve advocated for years, borrowing another concept from the British, limited run series, designed to tell an entire story in a ten-episode cycle, so the whole story’s completed in the show runner’s heads’ before they even hire a cast member. It’s actually recycling a concept from American TV in the seventies, when networks got hooked on miniseries. Some of those shows are now looked upon as some of the finest products in the history of the medium, unfortunately like most concepts in TV, it got overused and some very mediocre series, sullied the waters.

Perhaps by cutting back on older shows to 13-episode seasons, and making limited run series a part of their annual scheduling, the networks then could up the orders to new series, such as Forever, Gotham, Scorpion and other new series to a 26-week schedule to help eliminate those annoying breaks in the schedule.

Courtesy of Netflix and Marvel

Courtesy of Netflix and Marvel

Today marks the one month countdown until Netflix drops another gem on us. As is their brilliant way, on April 10th 2015 we will be privileged to have all episodes for Season One of the new Netflix original series, Daredevil. Naturally, this may not appeal to all viewers across the board, but it should.

On the surface, the story of Daredevil is a considerably unrealistic one. A blind son of a fighter learns to maneuver amidst the darkness and channels that into seeking justice, whether it be in the court room or on the dark streets of Hell’s Kitchen. However, that could be true about everything Marvel does. Here’s the kicker, nothing Marvel has done since 2008 has been anything short of amazing. Even the Marvel movies that aren’t favorites among those who watch, have still be comparatively remarkable. In a vacuum each Marvel production, whether they big blockbuster movies or new television series’ have all been wildly successful. As hyperbolic as it may seem, at this point we are all waiting for Marvel to do something that is not amazing. If I were a betting man, I’d put good money up on the notion that Netflix’s Daredevil will absolutely not be the one that falters.

If the Marvel’s reputation over the last action packed 7 years is not enough, consider Netflix’s track record. House of Cards and Orange is the New Black is enough to lean on reputation for Netflix. But consider the following. Hemlock Grove, Marco Polo, Lilyhammer, and Derek have been incredibly successful and well received by their respective fandoms. And that’s not even considering the many series’ where Netflix has taken the baton after conventional networks dropped the ball on previously established shows. Arrested Development and The Killing have opened the door for correcting mistakes. I personally am holding my breath for Netflix to bring back Studio 60 Live on the Sunset Strip (with or without Aaron Sorkin). If Netflix is involved, it wasn’t thrown together haphazardly.

Let’s not leave out the need to distance itself from its predecessor. The 2003 theatrical release of Daredevil starring Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Colin Ferrell, and Michael Clark Duncan was never seen in any circles to be on par with the Marvel projects of the last 7 years. I for one, don’t hate that version of Daredevil. However, the fan in me sees a wealthy of problems with that movie. This newest version in no way should be compared to that one. In the Netflix version (from what we can see) the focus has been taken away from a fancy and comic book wise accurate suit. Star power is not a term one would use to describe it. There is a grit and texture to the darkness and despair of Matt Murdock’s surroundings that make it more real. The actions of the protagonist seem to be grounded in realism. I seriously doubt we will see a blind Daredevil leap from a bar into a series of backflips until he lands securely on a single blade of a ceiling fan. Take whatever you know of the 2003 theatrical release, and throw it out the window.

The next big thing would be the cast. In all fairness to Marvel, Robert Downey Jr was the only certifiable star cast in the last 7 years. An argument can be made for Samuel L. Jackson, but Sam Jackson does everything. Seriously, google it or check out IMDb. Sam Jackson is the busiest actor alive. In this version of Daredevil we have a group of actors and actresses that will be familiar to you, but none of them are considered stars. Matt Murdock is played by Charlie Cox (who I remember from Stardust), Vincent D’Onofrio as The Kingpin (Law and Order Criminal Intent and The Thirteenth Floor), Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson (Idle Hands and Mighty Ducks), Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple (Sin City, Rent, and Kids), Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Paige (who played the recently good girl ‘turned’ vampire in the HBO series True Blood), Bob Gunton (The Shawshank Redemption and Argo), so needless to say the quality of acting on a number of fronts is already spoken for.

I would be chomping at the bit to see, correction, binge watch this new Netflix series on the merits that it’s about the Daredevil comic alone. One of those great stories that I discovered as an adult. It has the potential to pull us in and keep our attention. You add the successful track record of both Marvel and Netflix recently and the significant while not star-studded cast, and you have what seems to me to be a can’t miss situation.

Luckily for our NJATVS viewers, we are not only on board with this series being one that we will without a shadow of a doubt be covering, but one we will be covering like any other Netflix viewer. With the majority of our content, we are restricted to the timetable given by the various television networks. We give you the recaps as promptly as possible. With Daredevil we have the unique and exciting prospect of giving you recaps and analysis as quickly as we can. Starting on the evening of April 10th, we at NJATVS will be doing a Daredevil recap a night until enough nights have passed that we have concluded season 1. We love every show that we bring to you, however, I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that there is a little extra ‘gusto’ on this particular series. One that we strongly recommend you do not miss. But even if you do, its Netflix, you can view it at your leisure. And when you do, whether that’s April 10th or six months later, make sure to check in at www.notjustanothertvsite.com for all of the Daredevil recaps and analysis.

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Unless you’ve been under a rock over the last week or so, you’re probably aware that the anchor for the “NBC Nightly News” Brian Williams, has been the subject of controversy, after it got revealed that Williams lied about being shot down in an NBC News helicopter in Iraq, back in 2003. The news anchor, first told the tale as a guest of David Letterman on his nightly talk-show. He repeated the story at a New York Rangers game, when the NHL team honored a retiring veteran who served in Iraq.

Speculation’s grown over the ensuing days that NBC would have to cut ties with the popular newsman, as his credibility took a severe hit within the news industry and for much of the viewing audience. However Tuesday night, “The New York Times,” reported that the network made the curious decision, to suspend Williams without pay for six-months, then return him to the anchor chair.

Williams presided over the highest rated network newscast, swamping his competition as he averaged 9.3 million viewers, five nights a week. He’s also developed a public persona away from the anchor-desk, with frequent appearances on Letterman’s show, the NBC staple “Saturday Night Live” and showed up on the networks former series “30 Rock,” from time to time.

Before we get into the damage that Williams seemingly did to his career, lets discuss the decision that NBC made. Before the network announced how they planned to resolve things, the choices seemed pretty clear, for NBC. The move that would have earned them respect from their peers and viewers alike, was to terminate Williams. A network news anchor’s reputation and credibility have to be beyond reproach, they are the “Gate-Keepers,” the people we invite into our homes, to provide us accurate information on the stories of the day. It’s doubtful that Williams has enough of the public-trust right now, to do that job well.

The other decision the network could have chosen was to stand behind Williams, saying that his record at NBC News far outweighs the foolish decision he made to falsify a personal anecdote. The network could have leveled with the public; Look folks, Brian did something really stupid, that he truly regrets. However, we believe that Williams has proven himself enough since taking the anchor-chair to withstand this crisis and we support him fully. It would have at least been a gutsy move, for NBC.

Instead the President of NBC News Deborah Turness stated in a memo “This was wrong and completely inappropriate for someone in Brian’s position.” The Chief Executive of NBC/Universal Stephen P. Burke wrote “By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News. His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate.”

Burke went on to say that Williams expressed great remorse in a private conversation and that the networks “rooting,” for him. So does NBC truly believe that after serving a six-month suspension, Brian Williams can take back the anchor desk with his credibility restored?

During the sixties, seventies and into the eighties, the networks nightly newscasts, were a staple in American homes. Long before the days of the Infotainment Networks that cable’s brought into our homes, news came on only in designated time slots. The local newscast would start at 6:00 pm and depending on what market you lived in, the network newscasts aired at either 6:30 pm, or 7:00 pm. That was our main source of information, until the newspaper came out the next morning. And the news anchors were like demigods for many families.

Former CBS news anchor, the late great Walter Cronkite, was voted the most trusted man in America in the sixties and his peers on the other casts, such as Huntley and Brinkley, along with John Chancellor on NBC, Howard K. Smith, Frank Reynolds and Peter Jennings were also highly regarded. Through all the turmoil of assassinations, protest-marches, the Vietnam war and civil unrest, we turned to these men to try to make sense of what was going on around us. We knew these men would give us accurate, timely and unbiased information, sounds almost quaint now, doesn’t it?

It’s a different playing-field in 2015, than it was even 30-years-ago, with many Millennials getting most of their news from the “Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” (although not for long, as Stewart announced this week, he’ll leave the show this year.) We have competing Infotainment Networks, FOX News for the Far-Right and MSNBC for the Center-Left, who give us plenty of commentary, but don’t provide a whole lot of information. One can also get the bulk of your news from the Internet, a path I’ve found myself taking more and more often.

The network nightly newscasts, don’t have the cache they had in an earlier era, however they still retain importance and we count on them to give us the unfiltered information with as little bias as possible. Many of our citizens still use those nightly newscasts as their primary source of information. That’s why it’s still important to have people in those anchor chairs whose credibility can’t be questioned, Williams has fallen out of that category.

If Williams had a substance-abuse problem, getting suspended without pay, could have been a severe enough punishment to get the viewers back on his side, upon his return. This is a totally different animal though, sitting on the sidelines without getting a paycheck, isn’t going to earn Williams’ viewer’s trust back. How can he report on a story about a Congressman lying, without viewers automatically thinking about his incident? I don’t believe it can work.

We’ve watched powerful people commit actions over the last few years, as if they were invulnerable, even though scores of others ruined their reputations doing the same things, these folks think they’re smarter than everybody else. We’ve seen it here in New York State, as our former Governor Elliot Spitzer, ruined a possible White House run, by stepping out on his wife with call-girls.

The biggest question that remains for me, is how Williams expected that his concocted tale would never catch up with him. There were far too many people that witnessed the incident, for him not to eventually get caught, was that what he wanted? Could this have possibly been some sort of cry for help? He wouldn’t be the first person who seemingly had it all, except for satisfaction.

Image Courtesy Of ABC

Image Courtesy Of ABC

Warning: Spoiler Alerts

Since “Not Just Another TV Site,” started publishing, we’ve had the pleasure of recapping some tremendous shows and incredible events. We recapped, the final season of what I believe will be celebrated in the future as one the finest examples of “short-form Television,” when the HBO Original Series “The Newsroom,” completed it’s run. We recapped the bounce-back season for the Showtime series “Homeland,” as the show recovered from sticking with the Brody story-arc, a season too long. We witnessed our readers get caught up in the murder of a 12-year-old boy, in a Northern California, fishing village in “Gracepoint.”

What may come to a surprise to many of you, is the recap that’s received more hits than any other, by a very wide margin. It’s acquired 40% more readers than the runner-up, yet according to the Nielsen Ratings, the show has no business being our most widely read recap. We entitled the recap, “Forever: Sax Player’s Song Costs Son His Life,” however the title it aired under, was 6AM. The Forever episode about Jazz sax player Pepper Evans and the song stolen from him, still receives double-digit hits daily, more than two-months after it aired.

I’ve made no attempts to hide the fact that I’m an unabashed fan and proponent of the freshman ABC series “Forever,” since seeing the show’s pilot online, before the start of the 2014-2015 TV season started. There have been many new shows, that I’ve turned off after ten-minutes, never regretting the decision. Every so often, a show crosses my path, that shows me it’s got long-term potential, some fulfill their potential, while others fall short of the mark.

There have been very few times in my almost six-decades on this rock, that I’ve walked away from a pilot episode, thinking I love this show, Forever slipped quite comfortably into that category. It’s the first show that I’ve felt that way about since the debut of the now departed “The Newsroom.” I walked away from my laptop, telling anybody and everybody about this new gem of a series on ABC and after thirteen episodes, my affection for the show’s only grown stronger.

What’s the premise of the show you ask? Well let’s hear from the protagonist of the series, Dr. Henry Morgan: “My name is Henry Morgan. My story is a long one. It might sound a bit implausible. In fact you probably won’t believe me. But I’ll tell you anyway, because beyond all else, I have lots and lots of time.”

We soon find out that Morgan, born in the final quarter of the 18th Century, got shot to death, trying to defend a slave on the ship he was the doctor of. However after his corpse, got dumped into the sea by the crew, Henry regenerated, coming back as healthy as before he got shot, but unfortunately stark naked, which causes problems from time-to time. Morgan’s gotten killed scores of times since the incident on the ship and every time, he bounces right back.

The show’s based in the present, as Morgan’s now a Medical Examiner for the NYPD, a brilliant man who keeps to himself. His assistant Lucas Wahl, idolizes him but he can’t even get his boss to compliment him, wanting Henry as a friend far exceeds his wildest dreams. Morgan’s become a Medical Examiner for many reasons, one being the study of death, in hopes that he can find a way to end his life.

The other reason’s more compelling for the viewers, Morgan’s become a Medical Examiner, to minimize his contact with living people. The man’s lived over 200-years and surely lost many near and dear to him over the years and he doesn’t want the pain again. However we find out that Morgan lives with a companion, a man in his seventies named Abe, portrayed by Judd Hirsch, in his finest performance since starring in “Taxi.” In fact Hirsch  and the premise of the show, were what drew me into watching initially.

The only performance of the series lead Ioan Gruffudd’s, I’d witnessed, was as Reed Richard in Fantastic Four, a movie and a role that was underwhelming, to say the least. (Though he had a great American accent, I had no idea he was from the UK.) That barrier melted about ninety seconds into the pilot, as Henry Morgan’s a man of many complexities.

Henry meets two NYPD detectives in the pilot, that he’s destined to spend a lot of time with as Detective Jo Martinez and her partner Detective Mike Hanson check with Morgan about the autopsy of the subway operator, that allegedly died at the controls causing a major crash. If he had a heart-attack, it’s ruled an accidental death, if influenced by alcohol or drugs, it’s murder. Henry tells Martinez that the operator died of poisoning.

Photo Courtesy Of ABC/Bob D'Amico

Photo Courtesy Of ABC/Bob D’Amico

If you’d like to read the entire recap, you can find it elsewhere on our site, however we do learn that Henry had a great love in the fifties, as we meet his young and beautiful wife Abigail and the feelings between them are palpable. However we’ve no idea of the fate of Abigail in the current time period, or what became of their great love.

Morgan helps Martinez capture the man who poisoned the subway operator and Jo asks him to accompany her on her next case as Medical Examiner and a friendship starts to flourish. However there was a scene that aired shortly before Martinez arrived at the shop, that elevated this show from good to great for me.

We get one final flashback; the year’s 1945 and Henry’s in Germany in a Red Cross jeep, as the war’s ending in Deutschland. A beautiful young blonde English woman asks Henry if he’s a doctor and we realize that this is the first time Morgan and Abigail met. He replies that he’s a doctor, and she presents him with an infant boy, imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, but except for the number tattooed on the baby’s arm, he’s in perfect health. We return to the present as Abe’s sitting in his shop and we see the same number tattooed on the old man’s arm, meaning Henry and Abigail raised him as their son. Henry kisses the old man on the top of his head and I was hooked-line-and-sinker.

Much of my day’s spent surfing the web, checking out fan sites on the shows we recap, to gauge the feelings of the fans. I also frequent the Facebook pages of the shows we recap and I’ve found, that I far prefer the fan-run pages, over those that the networks create. A fan who starts a Facebook page about a favorite show or personality, pursues a labor of love. Perhaps their efforts will get rewarded by a message from one of the show-runners or an actor, but they put the work into these pages, because it gives them a forum to gather and discuss aspects of a show they enjoy.

I had the good fortune to discover and get accepted to a Facebook forum, called the “Forever (ABC) Fan Page,” about a week ago and the page and it’s members are fantastic. The Page has about five Administrators, ranging across the United States and one from Scotland. Each member who joins the page, gets welcomed by the page and at least a few of the other members. The tone of the page’s inclusive and friendly, I’ve yet to see any negative feedback, or sniping between members, something that’s usually a given in these forums. These folks do such a great job, they recently got Forever creator Matt Miller to join their ranks. (Which speaks well for Miller also, as he’s interested in what the fans have to say about the show he created and birthed.)

Sometime last week, one of the page’s Administrators Tonya Lindsey, approached me to write an article about the letter campaign, started by two other huge fans of the show, who also host Facebook pages for Forever, Lin Blank and Deb Servey, with hopes that they can convince ABC to renew Forever for a second season, a move that should have happened already in this writer’s opinion. I decided to ask for input from the Page members, about why the show should receive a second season and the results were overwhelming. People from across the country, explaining why this show has become an important part of their week.

Certain topics seem mainstays of most of the comments, the quality, of the acting, writing, directing and production are almost universally praised, as are the characters themselves who’ve become people that the fans want to spend time with, every week. The contrast between what’s occurring in Morgan’s present, against the backdrop of what he’s experienced being on earth for over 200-years. They love the relationship between Henry and Abraham and the burgeoning friendship between the Medical Examiner and Detective Martinez. There’s also huge interest in finding out more of Morgan’s stalker, the man who identified himself as Adam and claims to have walked the earth for two-thousand-years who’ll return in the next episode, airing February 3.

Forever’s able to combine so many facets into 54 minutes each week; An Epic Tale of a man whose experienced over 200-years of evolution, tales of great love between men and women plus parents and children. Henry wasn’t born with the Holmes-like powers of observation he has, however he’s bright enough to realize by being observant, the same clues can help him down the line. Incorporating the flashbacks, is one of the aspects of the show I enjoy the most, whether it’s young Abraham leaning how to “Jazz-Up Chopin” or Henry getting water-boarded (Hydro-Therapy) in 1815. My initial fear was that show would rely too much on Henry getting killed and regenerating, but so far they’ve used it in a limited basis, which keeps the concept fresh when they utilize it.

The bond between Henry and Abe, which has somewhat reversed over 60-years, with the father becoming the son and vice-versa. And Morgan opening himself up to having friends in the present, with Lucas, Jo, Mike and Lt. Reece. If that’s not enough, we have a “BIG BAD” whose lived ten times longer than Henry. No wonder he’s jaded and bored, the thrill of feeling special when he impresses others that Morgan still receives, must have left him centuries ago. The show-runners have announced we’re going to see “Adam’s flashbacks” and he’s going to attempt to endear himself to Henry and become a mentor of sorts!

Photo Courtesy ABC/K.C. Bailey

Photo Courtesy ABC/K.C. Bailey

There are more than enough shows that cater to the Lowest Common Denominator, the Prime-Time schedule works out to 21-hours each week, on the three original broadcast networks and what few outstanding shows on the small-screen, usually end up competing against each other. Forever’s a perfect example as it takes on Person Of Interest on CBS, another one of the mediums finest shows and a perennial top-20-show. I happen to count both shows among my favorites.

ABC doesn’t have a strong record supporting “High-Concept Shows,” with “Flash Forward,” “No Ordinary Family” and the reboot of the series “V,” leaving the shows fans with major unresolved conflicts. The networks have to possess the intelligence, that situations like those, will make viewers more reluctant to try new shows, afraid of being left in the lurch once again.

My Friends Della and Troy, who host a weekly podcast called Forever Fan Podcast, sent me some documents last week, from Thomas Richard who runs a site named Television Town, stating that while Forever’s scoring higher ratings, than previous shows that filled that time-slot for the network, the numbers haven’t convinced ABC, that the show deserves to get renewed. However, he does believe a strong outcry from the show’s fans, could get Forever a second season.

So, how can you help? Well there are a couple of things you can do; first of all you can write a letter to the network. You can reach them at ABC Entertainment C/O Forever 500 S. Buena Vista St Burbank, CA 91521-4551.

Secondly, you can sign the petition, started by Forever Page Member Abigail Bricker. In the comments section make sure you write #RENEWFOREVER.

Lastly, support the show and tell your friends, they’re missing one of the best examples of “Quality Television,” in this era.

The Story Continues Tuesday, February 3, at 10:00 pm on ABC.

Twitter.com

Twitter.com

 

Tonight as part of Marvel’s Agent Carter 2-hour premiere, NJATVS will be live-tweeting the show.  While you’re watching tonight’s event, keep your phone, tablet or computer out, pull up the NJATVS twitter feed and hit refresh…frequently.  Just another way to bring the NJATVS audience into the fold.  And it goes without saying, feel free to chime in as we go along.  Audience participation is not required, but would add to the experience.

-NJATVS Staff