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September 2, 2008

First Impressions: '90210' Gets Passing Grade

The early reviews from the east coast are pouring in—and so far, critics seem to be OK with the CW's new "90210."

90210

Network executives opted not to send out a screener of the show's first two hours, arguing they wanted to build suspense. Skeptical critics wondered if the show was a dog.

But a few early takes from some of the TV beat's more cynical voices suggest that reviewers might not be too harsh on the most-hyped show of the season.

Alan Sepinwall of the Newark Star-Ledger almost can't believe that he doesn't hate the new Zip. Writes Sepinwall: "Huh. Neither trainwreck nor masterpiece, the new "90210" was exactly what nobody expected it would be: remarkably faithful in tone and spirit to the original adventures of Brandon, Brenda, Scott Scanlon and company."

Continue reading "First Impressions: '90210' Gets Passing Grade" »

August 26, 2008

'Gossip Girl' Chucks DVD Screener

If you’ve been holding your breath all summer for season two of “Gossip Girl,” it’s almost here. The new season premieres next Monday, but The Daily Blink got a sneak peek of the first three episodes from the much-hyped show’s return.

Gossip GirlWhile there were definite OMG moments, the biggest delight came when The Daily Blink saw the cover of the DVD screener, which features a perfectly leering Chuck.

Don’t even get the Daily Blink started on all the twisted sexual connotations of that image. Wholesome as cherry pie? Not so much, as you probably already know from the sex-filled promos and scandalous billboards.

Despite (because of?) the Parents Television Council's protests, we’re betting that the kids are going to take Chuck’s cherry pie bait right out of his palm. The Daily Blink sure did, popping in the DVD the second it got home and watching all three episodes in one sitting. At the end, the Blink slipped the disc back into the package and looked at the question on the DVD cover.

“ready4more?” (Capitalizing and writing out words is far too exhausting.)

Yes, please.

Check out the first five minutes of season 2 behind the cut to find out what had the Daily Blink salivating for cherry pie.

Continue reading "'Gossip Girl' Chucks DVD Screener" »

February 28, 2008

‘Light’ of Realism Shines on Long-Running Soap Opera

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Soap operas have long cited this motto as they continued to use shooting techniques developed during the genre’s infancy more than 50 years ago. Starting Friday, CBS’ “Guiding Light” is bucking about 56 years of tradition by switching to handheld cameras, using more exterior shots and installing four-wall sets in order to give the show a more cinematic feel.

Ellen Wheeler, executive producer of “Guiding Light,” said the overhaul was spurred by the fans, according to an audience survey paid for by “Light’s” Procter & Gamble Productions. “[The audience] didn’t love the things that seemed fake to them,” she said.

The fans give soap operas major leeway, knowing they have to produce nearly 260 episodes a year, she said. But, “‘You’re not cutting the mustard’ is basically what they told us.’ We were not hip enough.”

Ms. Wheeler said she wasn’t aware of any rumors that “Light” might be canceled, but CBS had rumbled that “Light” and fellow soap “As the World Turns” were on the bubble and urged producers to evolve their look.

The new look, according to Ms. Wheeler, is inspired by a philanthropic outing the show made in 2006. After Hurricane Katrina, “Light” took a weeklong hiatus to help rebuild houses in Louisiana. The show’s crew filmed the actors, out of character, with handheld cameras and edited the footage together for a week of shows. This was striking to Wheeler, who said she loved being right there with the actors. “I wish I could portray the show with that same level of intimacy,” she thought.

The advantage to the new production style also involves on-site editing of scenes (for faster turnaround) and seamless transitions between interior and exterior shots.

“Light” is using Peapack, N.J., to depict the show’s main city, Springfield, in exterior shots. It also has built 40 permanent sets (with real working light switches and running faucets) in its New York City studio, as opposed to the eight temporary sets used previously on the show.

“Every set that we have has been redesigned to look like a real space,” she said.

Ms. Wheeler also said production offices also have been worked into sets. She said her set had become a chapel during production.

“[The show] is completely different, but it’s completely familiar,” Ms. Wheeler said.

Andrew Krukowski

February 20, 2008

UPDATE: Two Things Certain for ‘Dexter’ on CBS: Death and Ad Breaks

Showtime’s “Dexter” made its broadcast debut in a cleaned-up form Sunday on CBS. But how do you make a show about a vengeful serial killer network TV-ready? Read our observations of the first two CBS episodes here.

After initially being excited about making the jump from pay cable to broadcast, Sara Colleton, executive producer of “Dexter,” had a lingering thought.

“My second thought was, ‘Oh dear, are we going to slash and burn the show?’” she said.

Out of everything on “Dexter,” there were three main things to consider: violence, profanity and ad breaks.

Violence, she said, wasn’t the trickiest issue.

“It’s much less violent than you think,” she said. “You realize the most audacious thing about ‘Dexter’ is the idea.”

And the profanity involved some substitutions in the dialogue. Ms. Colleton knows the audience is smart enough to figure out what is being said behind the “dangs” and “foolings,” but Standards & Practices leaves her hands tied.

However, the ad breaks were the biggest thing to be considered. Most broadcast shows button scenes in order to accommodate ads.

“You can anticipate when to run to the loo because you know what’s coming up,” Ms. Colleton said.

“Dexter” wasn’t filmed with commercials in mind, making it tricky to insert ads without the breaks seeming arbitrary.

“What we have found is natural, rhythmic story breaks to go to a commercial,” she said.

And thankfully, Ms. Colleton confirmed that the Emmy Award-winning opening titles, while cut from the second episode, will reappear for the third.

She said the reason the titles got the ax from the second episode (the opening title didn’t appear in the first episode, even on Showtime) was in order to give viewers more time to get introduced to the characters.

“Dexter” on Showtime is readying its third season, where it’s scheduled to begin airing in early October.

Andrew Krukowski

February 14, 2008

‘Dexter’ Gets Clean for CBS

Everyone’s favorite serial killer, Dexter Morgan, is making the jump to broadcast on Sunday, repurposed from Showtime to CBS. But, in one of those square-peg, round-hole deals, the 55-minute cut of “Dexter” that runs on Showtime isn’t going to fit into the 48-minute window on CBS.

And let’s not forget the Parents Television Council, which channeled its inner Helen Lovejoy to ask, “Won’t somebody please think of the children!” We got our hands on one of the CBS episodes of “Dexter,” so let see what’s in and what’s out:

What’s in
- Violence.
- Dexter acting creepy.

What’s out
- Lingering violence. The CBS version, for the most part, uses briefer cuts of any blood/stabbing/death than the Showtime version.
- Swearing. All of the four-letter goodness our premium cable channels provide have been replaced with foul, freakin’, foolin’ and hell. This leads to some awkward dubbing, especially when you can still hear the hard “F” noise abruptly replaced with a “hell.”
- Certain subplot seeds, such as Batista’s relationship with his family and further examples of Dexter’s inability to relate with people, have been whittled down.
- Cuts for time have been made, including scenes from the recap at the beginning of the episode.
- And perhaps worst of all, the Emmy-nominated main theme has gotten the ax, replaced with a five-second title card.

Will you, a die-hard “Dexter” fan with a working knowledge of the paralyzing drug cocktail used frequently in the show, care about the cuts? Freakin’ yes. Will your “CSI”-loving mom, who just knows Showtime as that one channel with the show about the lesbians, care? Not in the least.

Still, that is one catchy tune.

Show executive producers Sara Colleton and John Goldwyn and Showtime’s Bob Greenblatt, president of entertainment, who oversaw the CBS edits, weren’t immediately available for comment. But we should be able to get in touch with them next week.

Check back for updates.

Wed., Feb. 20- Guess what? The opening titles are only out for the first two episodes, which is still a difference from the Showtime cut, but not as bad as we thought. The Daily Blink talked to "Dexter" executive producer Sara Colleton about how to get a serial killer onto CBS. Read about it here.

Andrew Krukowski