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TV Wasteland: More NBC Bashing!
The network is in serious trouble.
By Rob Vaux
February 25, 2013
March is traditionally a fairly slow point on the schedule, so I’m just going to make fun of NBC for a bit. February sweeps placed the flailing network fifth behind the Spanish-language Telemundo… an unprecedented dip brought on in part by the hiatus of The Voice and Revolution. Its Jekyll and Hyde reboot Do No Harm was cancelled after only two episodes, while its former hit Smash looks increasingly likely to be cancelled by the end of the season.
These speak to far more problems than a few hit shows can correct. Is it possible that NBC, as a brand, has become permanently damaged? If so – if the feathers are off the peacock for good – what does it say about network television in general? Numbers continue to decline, even for comparatively healthy networks, and with TV no longer bound by their formula, the drop-off may continue into the foreseeable future. NBC leans heavily on its sporting programs, as well as America’s Got Talent, but that show doesn’t come back until the summer, when competition (at least network competition) is much more lax. Football’s over until the fall and they don’t get another round of the Olympics until 2014. Bleak days indeed for the former ratings king… and, I suspect, there will be more of the same to come.
The Following (Fox, 9:00 PM EST)
A new follower tips off the group as to what Joe Carroll actually plans to do. Nothing good, I’m sure.
Continuum (Syfy, 8:00 PM EST)
Carlos may or may not have killed a key journalist in the midst of a very important election. We’ll doubtless get to the bottom of it before the hour is up.
Being Human (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
Josh spends time with his younger sister, while Aidan finds his blood supply endangered by a vampiric femme fatale.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (TCM, 8:00 PM EST)
Twenty-five years later, Robert Zemeckis’s innovative blend of live-action and animation has lost none of its charm. On top of its countless assets, it also became a fitting swan song for Warners’ legendary vocal talent Mel Blanc.
Signs (AMC, 8:00 PM EST)
I look at this film as the last time Shyamalan’s formula actually worked. Others feel that it was slipping even before then. Either way, you have to put up with a lot of Mel Gibson.
Demolition Man (AMC, 10:30 PM EST)
Sylvester Stallone squares off against Wesley Snipes in a gloriously goofy mid-90s actioner.
Child’s Play (Cinemax, 8:00 PM EST)
Chucky the doll makes a surprisingly auspicious debut in a horror movie that reminds us how creepy the little bastard can be.
Dragon Eyes (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EST)
It’s bedlam in an inner city neighborhood as a kung-fu master pledges to clean up the drug dealers and corrupt cops. Jean-Claude Van Damme is involved in some way.
Batman (IFC, 8:00 PM EST)
Tim Burton’s vision of the Caped Crusader has a lot to recommend it, but it suffers from a weak plot and undue emphasis on characters not named “Bruce Wayne.”
Batman & Robin (IFC, 10:45 PM EST)
Burton’s film has its share of flaws, but putting it next to this one makes it look like Fellini.
Van Helsing (Starz, 6::45 PM EST)
Hugh Jackman has done worse than this. Scary but true.
Face Off (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
Alien werewolves: two great tastes tha taste great together!
Robot Combat League (Syfy, 10:00 PM EST)
I confess a certain weakness for robots fighting, though this new Real Steel knockoff sticks to anthropomorphic “boxing” robots instead of the cooler death machines from earlier shows.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (AMC, 8:00 PM EST)
And we wonder why Alan Moore is so cranky all the time.
Constantine (AMC, 10:30 PM EST)
After suffering through The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Keanu Reeves’s decent re-interpretation of comic-dom’s supernatural detective makes for a marvelous tonic.
Machete (FX, 7:00 PM EST)
Just thinking about it gives me a headache.
Batman Forever (IFC, 8:00 PM EST)
We were warned about what Jeol Schumacher had in store… Lord knows we were warned.
Batman Returns (IFC, 10:45 PM EST)
Curious pairing of Batman movies, like last night’s entry. I suppose they could entice us with Burton’s flawed-but-interesting entries before hitting us with Schumacher.
RED (Showtime, 8:00 PM EST)
I love the title, which stands for “Retired: Extremely Dangerous.” I just don’t think that the movie can keep up.
Arthur Christmas (Starz, 7:20 PM EST)
Aardman hits another one out of the park with a marvelous Christmas tale that should become a holiday classic if there’s any justice in the world.
Arrow (The CW, 8:00 PM EST)
Deadshot has his sights set on Malcolm, with Oliver and Diggle in hot pursuit. I’m betting they won’t kill him this time either.
Supernatural (The CW, 9:00 PM EST)
Artemis shows up to make the Winchesters’ lives miserable. The real Artemis, as in the pissed-off goddess who turns people into stags. Good luck boys.
Dreamworks Dragons: The Riders of Berk (Cartoon, 8:00 PM EST)
Hiccup loses a gift in a haunt bog, prompting the gang to pay a visit… shitty CG dragons presumably in tow.
Ghost Hunters (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
A haunted amusement park serves as this week’s focus. I’d bet real money on Scooby-Doo making a cameo here.
Stranded (Syfy, 10:00 PM EST)
Syfy’s increasingly desperate stabs at reality TV give us this little turd about people trapped in a supposedly haunted locale who then talk about their experiences.
Journey to the Center of the Earth (ABC Family, 6:30 PM EST)
I want to like Brendan Fraser’s work. I really, really do.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (ABC Family, 8:30 PM EST)
Amazing how quickly some films drop out of our consciousness. It repeats on Thursday at 6:00 PM EST
Hulk (AMC, 8:00 PM EST)
There’s a reason Ang Lee has an Oscar, as this film’s ambition aptly demonstrates. Results, less so, but ambition? Yeah it’s there.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (BBC America, 8:00 PM EST)
Arnold Schwarzenegger celebrates his temporary hiatus from movie-making by undermining one of the franchises that made him a star.
AVP: Alien vs. Predator (Cinemax, 9:00 PM EST)
If you need a Predator fix tonight, you can do a lot better.
I, Robot (Cinemax, 10:45 PM EST)
Isaac Asimov has left the building, but as point-and-click sci-fi blockbusters go, this one has some things going for it.
Predators (FMC, 7:00 PM EST and 9:00 PM EST)
Part Three? Part Five? Who cares, it’s the best you’ll see after the original.
The Expendables (Spike, 8:00 PM EST)
Oh Sly, how can we stay mad at you?
The Punisher (Spike, 10:25 PM EST)
Thomas Jane’s a good sort, but he’s just too nice to sell us on Frank Castle.
XXX: State of the Union (Starz, 9:00 PM EST)
Remember when Ice Cube used to scare the tits off of everyone? Me neither. Repeats on Saturday at 7:15 PM EST.
The Third Man (TCM, 10:00 PM EST)
I can’t let this screening of one of the greatest movies of all time pass by: the story of a charming monster and his well-meaning friend in post-war Vienna. They actually filmed in the city itself, still sweeping up after the war. Not to be missed under any circumstances.
Zero Hour (ABC, 8:00 PM EST)
The gang gets help from the FBI in hunting down the next clock, even while Lalia leaves clues behind for Hank to track down.
King of the Nerds (TBS, 10:00 PM EST)
It’s engineering time as the surviving nerds must demonstrate their aptitude for physics.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (ABC Family, 8:30 PM EST)
Disney misfired with this would-be summer blockbuster about a young man pulled into a war between modern-day wizards. Worth a look, but nothing special. It repeats on Friday at 6:30 PM EST.
The Road (FMC, 8:00 PM EST and 10:30 PM EST)
You can watch the brilliantly bleak adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel, then stare at your open fridge for hours, filled with nothing but gratitude.
The Adjustment Bureau (HBO, 7:00 PM EST)
How on Earth did they make this strange mash-up of political thriller, Twilight Zone sci-fi and goofball romance work so well?
Transporter 3 (IFC, 8:00 PM EST)
Jason Statham tests our patience with an unnecessary and ultimately wasted third entry in the franchise.
Punisher: War Zone (IFC, 10:15 PM EST)
Say what you will about it: at least I believe in this Punisher.
Kill Bill: Vols. 1 and 2 (Starz, 6:45 PM EST and 8:40 PM EST)
Back-to-back and uncut… just as God intended.
The Ninth Gate (Syfy, 6:00 PM EST)
Roman Polanski’s return to the satanic horror film starts out so well, then falls apart by the time the set burns down for the second time.
Stake Land (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
The best vampire movie no one’s seen arrives with a flourish on Syfy. Something well worth a DVR setting.
The Big Bang Theory, Elementary, The Vampire Diaries and Beauty and the Beast are all reruns this week.
Touch (Fox, 9:00 PM EST)
Guillermo makes a shocking confession while Jake and Amelia find themselves cut off from help on the way to an important rendezvous. Ah, the Byzantine twists of an overly plotted TV show.
Nikita (The CW, 8:00 PM EST)
Ari warns Nikita about an imminent terrorist attack, then demands money in exchange for the key details. What a dick.
Spartacus: War of the Damned (Starz, 9:00 PM EST)
Spartacus faces betrayal from within, even as he plots to strike back against Crassus’ army.
Hannibal (AMC, 7:00 PM EST)
Once again, the franchise gets pushed at least two movies too far.
Resident Evil (BBC America, 9:00 PM EST)
Mila Jovovich makes a strong case for the best zombie killer of all time, easily outpacing that one guy from the George A. Romero film.
From Dusk Till Dawn (Cinemax, 8:10 PM EST)
Robert Rodriguez reminds us that not all strip bars are places of sweetness and light.
Taken (FX, 8:00 PM EST)
Liam Neeson exterminates swarthy bad guys with extreme prejudice in the film that may well define his post-Schindler career.
The Last Legion (IFC, 6:00 PM EST)
Why do they keep showing this? It’s not like anyone is watching…
Rambo 4 (IFC, 8:15 PM EST)
You’ll never see a better display of CGI blood in your life.
Batman Begins (Spike, 8:00 PM EST)
After all that Batman nonsense early in the week, it’s nice to see Christopher Nolan set things straight.
National Treasure (TNT, 8:00 PM EST)
Nicolas Cage squares off against U.S. history in a goofy but mostly harmless romp.
Drive Angry (Showtime, 9:00 PM EST)
You won’t hear me say it often: this is better in 3D.
The Amazing Spider-Man (Starz, 9:00 PM EST)
The way Starz has been pushing this, you’d think it was the missing cut of The Magnificent Ambersons. As it stands, it’s an unnecessary but otherwise well-done reboot of the long-standing superhero franchise. It repeats on Sunday at 6:40 PM EST.
Real Steel (Showtime, 7:50 PM EST)
The terrific dynamic between father and son sells us here far more than the giant robot fighting.
The Mist (Syfy, 6:30 PM EST)
Stephen King adaptations don’t get much bleaker than this tale about a supermarket full of shoppers who come under assault from a terrifying alien mist.
Contact (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
Jodie Foster headlines an intelligent but stodgy version of Carl Sagan’s classic novel.
Gnomeo and Juliet (ABC Family, 7:30 PM EST)
Oh what the hell, it’s cute enough.
Despicable Me (ABC Family, 9:30 PM EST)
Steve Carrell scores a mild victory as a maniacal supervillain taught the error of his ways by a trio of orphans. A sequel, however, is definitely pushing our good will. It repeats on Sunday at 7:30 PM EST.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (AMC, 8:00 PM EST)
I’m really not sure you should run the middle entry without the brackets, but what are you gonna do?
Elf (Comedy, 8:00 PM EST)
They know it’s well past Christmas, don’t they?
Bolt (Disney, 8:00 PM EST)
Disney surprises us with a well-done family film about a canine TV star who isn’t the invincible superhero he thinks he is.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (FX, 8:00 PM EST)
Megan Fox and Michael Bay have apparently kissed and made up. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (HBO, 8:00 PM EST)
Sorry HBO, your disappointing sequel has been trumped by the superior original over on basic cable. Repeats Sunday at 6:45 PM EST.
Sherlock Holmes (TNT, 8:00 PM EST)
See? Repeats Sunday at 6:15 PM EST.
Inception (TNT, 10:30 PM EST)
The Double Feature of the Week goes to TNT in a landslide.
The Fast and the Furious (USA, 6:30 PM EST)
Remember when there was only one of these things?
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (USA, 8:30 PM EST)
Expect to see this one all over the schedule like a bad rash in the next few weeks.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (HBO, 10:15 PM EST)
It’s Harry vs. Voldemort for all the marbles… and leave it to J.K. Rowling to mine a few real surprises from the showdown.
Open Water 2: Adrift (IFC, 10:45 PM EST)
An unnecessary artifact from an era when filmmakers took “torture the audience” as a mission statement rather than a cautionary tale.
The Walking Dead (AMC, 9:00 PM EST)
They’re keeping this one tight under wraps… presumably because of some earth-shattering bombshell. Hold tight everyone.
Once Upon a Time (ABC, 8:00 PM EST)
Mary Margaret races against time to find Rumplestiltskin’s dagger before Regina does.
Enchanted (ABC Family, 9:30 PM EST)
Amy Adams puts a fresh spin on Disney princesses in a film whose satirical intent doesn’t quite go far enough.
Starship Troopers (BBC America, 8:00 PM EST)
I’m just grateful it kept Neil Patrick Harris afloat until Harold and Kumar.
Edward Scissorhands (Cinemax, 8:15 PM EST)
Johnny Depp went from flash in the pan to indie darling with one fell snip of his fingers here. Superstardom had to wait another decade.
Tangled (Disney, 8:00 PM EST)
Disney’s apparent farewell to the princess genre marries its classic tropes with a screwball comedy. Well played guys.
The A-Team (FX, 8:00 PM EST)
You got any fools that need pitying? FX has your hook-up.
The Faculty (IFC, 6:15 PM EST)
Robert Rodriguez’s delightful take on alien invasion films confirms what we always suspected about high school teachers.
The Omen (IFC, 8:30 PM EST)
Big budget remakes are never “independent,” especially when they’re as forgettable as this.
Underworld: Awakening (Starz, 10:00 PM EST)
And that’s all for Underworld. Thanks for playing.