Starz: ‘Boss’ Canceled, But May Not Be Completely Dead

Starz has decided not to renew its low-rated, albeit critically acclaimed political series, Boss, starring Kelsey Grammar as the terminally-ill, corrupt and ruthless mayor of modern-day Chicago, Tom Kane.  That being said, the word is that there are discussions currently taking place to wrap up the series with a two-hour (presumably television and NOT big-screen) movie.

From Starz:

“After much deliberation, we have made the difficult decision to not proceed with (a third season of) Boss. We remain proud of this award-winning show, its exceptional cast and writers, and are grateful to Kelsey Grammer, Farhad Safinia and our partners at Lionsgate TV.”

NETFLIX ALERT! Original Series ‘ House Of Cards’ Premiere Date Announced, More Details

If you’ve been following news about Netflix you know about House of Cards, the first original series that Netflix announced that they would be producing as a Netflix original program.  From Director David Fincher and starring A-listers Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, to call this American reboot of the 1990 BBC miniseries highly-anticipated would be an understatement.  Well, the wait is almost over as Netflix has announced that the series would hit their streaming service on February 1, 2013 and as was done with Lilyhammer, the entire first season (all 13 episodes) would be available immediately to watch.  See the press release below for more details.

Via Press Release:

The Netflix original series, from Media Rights Capital, “House of Cards,” starring Academy Award ® winner Kevin Spacey (“Horrible Bosses,” “American Beauty”), Golden Globe ® nominee Robin Wright (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Forrest Gump”) and Kate Mara (“American Horror Story”) will be available for members to watch instantly beginning February 1, 2013 .

All 13-episodes of the drama series’s first season will be available to Netflix members in territories where Netflix is available – North America, the UK, Ireland, Latin America and Scandinavia.

“‘House of Cards’ combines the best of filmmaking with the best of television. Beau Willimon’s compelling narrative, David Fincher’s unparalleled craftsmanship, indelible performances by Kevin Spacey and the rest of the cast unite to create a gripping story and new kind of viewing experience for Netflix members,” said Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer, Netflix. “In offering the entire season at once, Netflix is giving viewers complete control over how and when they watch the show.”

From director David Fincher (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Social Network”), award-winning playwright and Academy Award® nominated screenwriter Beau Willimon (“Farragut North,” “The Ides of March”) and Academy Award® winner Eric Roth (“Forrest Gump,” “Munich”), “House of Cards” is based on the BBC miniseries of the same name. This wicked political drama slithers beneath the curtain and through the back halls of greed, sex, love and corruption in modern Washington D.C.

An uncompromising exploration of power, ambition and the American way, the series orbits Francis Underwood (Spacey), the House Majority Whip. Underwood is the politician’s politician – masterful, beguiling, charismatic and ruthless. He and his equally ambitious wife Claire (Wright) stop at nothing to ensure their ascendancy. In addition to Spacey, Wright and Mara, the series also stars Corey Stoll (“Midnight in Paris”), Kristen Connolly (“The Cabin in the Woods”), Michael Kelly (“The Adjustment Bureau”) and Sakina Jaffrey (“Definitely Maybe”).

Fincher directed the first two episodes of the series, which were written by Willimon. James Foley (“Glengarry Glen Ross”), Joel Schumacher (“Falling Down”), Charles McDougall (“The Good Wife”), Carl Franklin (“Devil in a Blue Dress”) and Alan Coulter (“The Sopranos”) also serve as directors on “House of Cards.”

The drama’s second season is due to begin production in spring 2013.

House of Cards is executive produced by Fincher, Willimon, Joshua Donen, Eric Roth, Kevin Spacey, Dana Brunetti, Andrew Davies, Michael Dobbs and John Melfi. The one-hour drama is produced by Donen/Fincher/Roth and Trigger Street Productions, Inc. in association with Media Rights Capital for Netflix.

About Netflix:

With more than 27 million streaming members in the United States, Canada, Latin America, the United Kingdom and Ireland, Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) is the world’s leading internet subscription service for enjoying movies and TV programs. For one low monthly price, Netflix members can instantly watch movies and TV programs streamed over the internet to PCs, Macs and TVs. Among the large and expanding base of devices streaming from Netflix are the Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and Sony PS3 consoles; an array of Blu-ray disc players, internet-connected TVs, home theatre systems, digital video recorders and internet video players; Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, as well as Apple TV and Google TV. In all, more than 800 devices that stream from Netflix are available. For additional information, visit Netflix’s upcoming original series include the political drama “House of Cards,” which stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright; the fourth season of the critically acclaimed comedy “Arrested Development;” “Hemlock Grove,” Eli Roth’s murder mystery series based on Brian McGreevy’s gripping novel of the same name; Jenji Kohan’s series “Orange is the New Black,” which stars Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon and Jason Biggs; and the second season of “Lilyhammer,” which stars Steven Van Zandt. Follow Netflix on Facebook and Twitter.

REVIEW: Game Change (Film – HBO Films)

Game Change is a 2012 American HBO political drama film based on events of the 2008 United States presidential election campaign, starring Julianne Moore, Ed Harris and Woody Harrelson. Written by Danny Strong and directed by Jay Roach, the film was adapted from the 2010 book of the same name documenting the campaign, written by the political journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. The film focuses on the chapters about the selection and performance of Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin (Moore) as running mate to Senator John McCain (Harris) in the Republican presidential campaign. The plot features a 2010 interview of the campaign’s senior strategist Steve Schmidt (Harrelson), using flashbacks to portray McCain and Palin during their ultimately unsuccessful campaign. – Wikipedia

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR:  I’ve made no bones in the past about my personal political views when posting on this blog but I’ve always strived to be objective with my reviews, judging television and film from an entertainment standpoint and not a political standpoint.  As I’ve mentioned several times, I have no tolerance for political soapboxes being used in dramatic scripted television, regardless of the political persuasion, because it always serves to alienate at least 50% of an audience who turn on their normal prime time fare as an escape and not to be lectured to.  Being apolitical is a rather difficult task to accomplish with Game Change because the film by its very nature is a biographical political piece, from a specific perspective.  This isn’t a David E. Kelley show with a fictional attorney grandstanding in court about a contemporary social issue, it’s a docudrama involving characters who are real people and actual historical events.

Therefore, while at the same time I recognize that the subject matter of the film gives it a free pass for its political nature that I normally wouldn’t give to other television fare, at the same time it’s only fair that I honestly assess all aspects of the film including the details that are clearly fantasy that detract from the entertainment value. So, this time, I will say that this review represents my opinion exclusively and is not necessarily the opinion of staff at TV-Tastic.  That being said, I have encouraged my staff to submit their own reviews of this film which I will gladly publish to allow our readers to make their own judgments based on different perspectives.

70 out of 100

I have to say, as an objective conservative who closely monitors the political landscape and is well-versed in current events and history, I went into Game Change with a sense of enthusiasm and trepidation for a number of reasons.  My enthusiasm came from the fact that HBO Films has always maintained a high standard with their productions so I knew that I could expect a well-produced film if nothing else.  The casting of Ed Harris, Woody Harrelson and Julianne Moore also gave the film credibility like no other HBO film has ever had.

My trepidation came from the fact that the book of the same title that the film is based on, written by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, has been roundly criticized by both sides for not citing sources for its assertions and furthermore, the filmmakers, instead of choosing to adapt the book as it was written, which was in three parts covering both political primary races and then the general election, chose to cover only the third part of the book and more specifically only the McCain campaign as it pertains to Sarah Palin.  So, you have to know where this is going and the fact that the top stars and producers of the film have donated $200,000 to Democrat/Liberal causes and ZERO to Republican/Conservative causes is also a tad bit disconcerting if you’re expecting objectivity.

And objective this film certainly isn’t, however there is just enough of a positive portrayal of Ms. Palin to present the illusion that the filmmakers were not only fair in their representation of her, but that the unattributed and unconfirmed rumors that are rampant in this film (as well as the portrayal of Republicans at McCain events) are actually factual. And that is where the film falls off the rails and fails because it paints a very disjointed picture that lacks rational cohesion.

I’m sorry, but as a rational adult,  I simply cannot buy that Ms. Palin was as stupid in regards to foreign policy/history as she is portrayed in this film. Are they seriously trying to make us believe that she didn’t understand why there are two Koreas? She really had to have it explained to her who the belligerents were in the two World Wars? She really thought that we were in Iraq because Saddam Hussein attacked us on 9/11? Now, the issue with the Fed and Behr/Stearns, I get because I’m still trying to figure that mess out four years later but the rest of this is just as silly now as it was when the book was published.  Again, the main criticism of the book is that it cited no sources for these claims and if the filmmakers could see beyond their own political ideology and actually maintain a level of professional objectivity and integrity, they would never have included these outlandish and unproven claims.  This approach turned what was an excellent insight into the behind the scenes events of an historical presidential campaign into a tawdry, tabloidish hit-piece.  Seriously, how could she have been elected dog catcher nevertheless governor of Alaska if these assertions were true?  Unless, of course, the producers just think that the people of the State of Alaska are just as stupid, which they probably do.

The other problem that the inclusion of these, to put it politely, “questionable” claims has is that they serve to make the Palin character very inconsistent and honestly, the inconsistency gives you pause as to the believability of the material.  Julianne Moore’s portrayal is excellent, albeit at times a little over-the-top, but the way in which they had to include all of these claims makes it as if there are multiple Sarah Pailins in this film. There’s the bright, confident and strong renaissance woman and then there’s the complete f*cking idiot. In the next scene she’s portrayed as an excellent public speaker who has a unique ability to connect to the people and then she’s portrayed as an uncompromising lunatic who won’t listen to the advice that the smart people are giving her. No one can have a personality that divergent and have no one notice it that long while attaining the success that she already had achieved at that point. It’s just not possible.

I think the only truly honest moments in her portrayal were when she was shown at her most vulnerable, when she was stressed and depressed about the process, wasn’t eating well and probably more importantly than anything, missed her family.  Hell, I don’t like being away for my kids for more than a couple of hours so I can relate to that.  When the film focused on that aspect of her emotional state, the film exceled because those genuine scenes served to highlight Ms. Palin’s biggest issue of all which was that she was in way over her head and not ready to be a candidate for national office, and perhaps never will be.  But the problem is that they had to cheapen these moments by suggesting that her anxiety level was a sign that she was mentally unstable.  That’s not only offensive to Ms. Palin, but it’s offensive to the tens of millions of people who have suffered with anxiety issues and of course her anxiety was perfectly understandable considering the stress she was under.

Now, generally speaking I have no doubt that the many behind the scenes events that are portrayed in the film actually happened (and this has been confirmed by Steve Schmidt, the Republican strategist who was instrumental in Palin’s selection and portrayed by Woody Harrelson in the film) because a lot of these events, without the details, were public knowledge at the time.  Quite often, Ms. Palin was her own worst enemy when it came to her image and that is accurately represented in the film, however, the film intentionally dismisses the personal beatings that she took by the media against her and her family under the guise of, “well she was warned that this would happen before she accepted the nomination.”  That’s a really lazy and intellectually dishonest position to take especially considering the vile things that were said and continue to be said about her to this day.

Remember the blogger who suggested that her newborn son Trig, was not her own and was actually the child of her 17 year-old daughter, Bristol, and how some members of the media ran with it?  Well, they do address that, but they gloss over it and don’t treat it with nearly the amount of outrage that they do over the random attendee at a McCain rally  who would spout vile things.  Again, the film has a huge credibility gap because of the blatant bias that turns what could have been a great film into only a good film.  But hey, why shoot for excellence when you can get good enough and placate the folks who think like you?

At the end of the day, though, overall, Game Change is still very enjoyable, but if you have any sense of objectivity and intellectual honesty then you have to filter out the blatant nonsense and bias that just oozes from the film.

Also, there may be unintended consequences of the film that the filmmakers probably didn’t take into consideration when they made it because they assumed that everyone who would watch it thinks the way they do.  Y’see, the main themes in the film are the dangers of not vetting a candidate and how disastrous a lack of experience can be as well as  how style is no substitute for substance.  Interposing those themes with excerpts of Obama  populist speeches may actually have the effect of making your audience think twice about voting for a candidate who has all of those same qualities again this November.

EDITORIAL: Glenn Beck Calls Glee a Horror Show, Faux Professional TV Writer Tim Kenneally Pounces! Note From The ‘Tastic: Both of You, Shut Up And Leave TV Discussions To The Amateurs

Tim Kenneally: Who is this guy?

I’d like to apologize right up-front for the very political nature of this post, however due to the issue being our baby, that is, television, and two boners with big audiences commenting on it, I felt it necessary to bitch-slap both of the offenders and send them back to their corners with bloody noses to expose them both for the frauds they are, pretending to be experts on a subject they really don’t know anything about: television network programming. The two offenders of course are FOX News’ Glenn Beck and The’s Tim Kenneally, who I probably would never have heard of had not MSN posted his piece on their site.

Glenn Beck: Because You Can Never Pitch Too Much Bullsh*t.

If you haven’t heard already, on Thursday, April 28th, Glenn Beck and his Carnival of Doom and Gloom decided to pick another inconsequential target as one of the causes for the imminent destruction of America. No, it wasn’t Van Jones or a former candidate for Cincinnati dog catcher, or the 12 year-old kids across the street from my house who leave their empty water bottles all over the place while playing basketball.  It was the FOX hit TV Show, Glee (which Beck referred to as a “horror show” and “a nightmare”), due to its teenage characters’ (mostly suggested) sexual behavior and the use of propaganda in the lyrics of the musical numbers in order to indoctrinate America’s children into supporting a progressive agenda.  The example he referred to was the song Sing by My Chemical Romance and as evidence for this claim he refers to these lyrics:

Cleaned up, corporation progress
Dying in the process
Children that can talk about it, live it on
The weird race
People moving sideways
Sell it till your last days
Buy yourself a motivation, generation
Nothing, nothing but a dead scene
But a type of white dream
I am not the singer that you wanted
But a dancer

Please watch the whole clip as my summation above doesn’t tell the whole story.

This of course prompted an Internet backlash and likewise, yet another professional television writer who doesn’t know anything about television, the aforementioned Tim Kenneally, had to chime in on this and inject his own personal politics into this “story.” Here’s his piece from April 29th:

Looks like Glenn Beck has hopped on the right-wing hate bandwagon that’s been roliling all over “Glee”lately.

Beck trained his laser-like focus on the musical series on his show this week, deeming it “a horror show” and “a nightmare” because “everyone is sleeping with everyone else, it’s all about self-gratification.”

Just wait until Beck finds out that his boss (for now, anyway), Fox honcho Rupert Murdoch, is responsible for putting such trash on the air. He’s gonna need a bigger blackboard to explain the complexities of that one…

Watch Beck attempt to save the world from the dangers of self-gratification in the video below.

For the record, that’s the article as written (see the link above).  I intentionally did not correct the obvious grammatical errors, typos and complete lack of editing just to get the point across regarding this joker’s professionalism.

Before we go any further, it’s full-disclosure time:  I’m a conservative myself and I don’t make any bones about it.  I’m also intellectually honest and if you’ve read any of our pieces you’ll notice that they are all objective, apolitical and written from the perspective of TV fans and not any partisan persuasion (except we’re very partisan against bad TV). We have zero tolerance for political agendas in any scripted programming, regardless of the political agenda being advanced. That doesn’t mean that we’re bothered by the occasional swipe being taken at a party, policy or special interest group but it does mean that we have an utter distaste for scripted dramas whose entire purpose seems to be to alienate half of the viewing audience by using their entire hour as a soapbox (yes, David E. Kelley, I’m looking at you).

Kickin' it Old School with the fear-mongering...

I also was a regular listener of Beck’s radio program for several years and I was a regular viewer of his shows on CNN Headline News and then subsequently on FOX News. I officially gave up on Beck over a year ago because I realized what most of his flock hasn’t: he’s completely full of crap nine times out of ten and he uses his programs to promote conspiratorial theories using out of context evidence that he selectively strings together while ignoring evidence to the contrary that dispute his claims.  How he gets people is that first, his audience is predisposed to believe him because of their own political beliefs and he uses that against them by actually presenting compelling (partial) evidence and then by challenging his audience to verify the evidence on their own, and of course they never do because, well, he has all of this evidence and if it wasn’t true, he wouldn’t tell us to look it up, would he?  Heck, he’s on our side!

And, yes, people actually follow this guy's financial advice.

Folks, I’m here to tell you the truth: Glenn Beck is a snake-oil salesman and a dishonest evangelist selling a bill of goods about “the end of America as we know it” (it’s coming!) for one reason and one reason only: Glenn Beck’s bank account.  Now, I certainly have no doubt that Beck is concerned about the consequences of the progressive agenda in America, but what he’s realized is that by creating an extreme caricature of himself and his principles (and the principles of his audience), he can sell a lot more books, concert tickets, premium memberships on his website, increase his radio and television audiences and of course increase Survival Seed Bank and  Goldline sales that are 90% over melt value to begin with.  This all means one thing: more bank for Beck. What I find hilarious, though, is that on the right hand you have the people who hang on his every word without verifying anything and on the left hand you have the crowd that actually thinks he’s dangerous to the country as if he’s going to start an armed revolution with his followers because of his fear-mongering. I’ve got news for both camps: Beck is pretty insignificant on the political landscape.  Don’t hitch your wagon to him and don’t worry about him.

As far as Tim Kenneally is concerned, if he would care to reply and engage The ‘Tastic in a discussion about this, I’d be more than happy to oblige.  We’re not holding our breath, though.

Artie, we couldn't have said it better oursleves.

As for Glee, I just don’t like it and it has nothing to do with the appropriateness of the content for children.  I thoroughly enjoyed the first season and actually proclaimed in the Fall Preview that everyone should be watching it.  Then I made it through three episodes of the second season and I had to stop watching because, whether or not the fans (and there are certainly a lot of them) have realized it, the show has jumped the shark.  It’s just absolutely absurd and bears no resemblance to anything remotely believable.

So, on with the show:

Seriously, is this so flippin' hard to figure out?

First, it is my solemn belief that it is ultimately a parent’s responsibility to monitor their children’s viewing habits and determine what’s appropriate for them and what is not.  And for those folks who don’t have the time, interest or inclination to actually be a proactive parent, since 1999 every television set sold in the United States has come with parental controls.

Also, all cable boxes, DVR’s, DVD players, Blu-Ray Players, video game consoles, Netflix streaming, computers, media players and digital-to-analog converter boxes feature this technology as well.  Not only can you control the rating level and specifically what types of content you want your children to be exposed to, but you can also choose to block channels altogether. If parents don’t monitor their children, it’s no one’s problem but their own.

Parents: It's been 14 years, already. Maybe it's about time you learned how to read this.

Now, onto Beck’s comments and the article by the twit at The Wrap; they’re both wrong.  First, although Beck is correct that Glee does certainly have some suggestive material regarding teen sexual behavior, and it’s certainly understandable that parents may find it objectionable (I wouldn’t let my kids watch this show if they were under 14), it is not nearly as bad as Beck would lead you to believe.  It’s no Skins by any measure. More importantly, though, it’s a TV-14 rated show with D, L and S subcategory ratings so again, we come full-circle to the parental responsibility factor.  The television ratings standard has been in existence since 1997.  If you don’t understand it by now, that’s your own damned fault and of course, you have those pesky parental controls on your television and other devices that you can use that I just told you about.

...And this is Jack Bauer's brother! Imagine what he does to people who aren't family. But of course, Glenn Beck apparently thinks this is perfectly acceptable for my four year-old to see.

As a side note, though, I find it rather curious that Beck has such a problem with the implied sexual content of Glee yet has absolutely no problem with uber-graphically violent television shows such as 24, a program that he would regularly praise.  Never once have I heard him criticize 24 (or its producer, Joel Surnow, who he had interviewed on his show more than once) for the graphic scenes of torture and general graphic violence that the show exposed children to for EIGHT FLIPPIN’ YEARS.  Don’t get my wrong, I was a huge fan of 24 (didn’t miss an episode in eight years) and as noted I’m not a fan of Glee but this is just another example of what a complete hypocrite and huckster Beck has become.

Also, Beck is trying to push his opinion that this show’s target audience is children.  I’ve got news for you, Glenn: no shows in prime-time are targeting or marketed towards children unless they are on Nickelodeon, Disney, the Cartoon Network or another children’s network.  Advertisers pay for the 18 – 49 crowd… that’s it.  That’s the standard and that is the only audience that any of the production studios and networks are making their shows for.  But, of course, Glenn knows this because he’s doing the same thing with his media outlets.  His shows aren’t about his agenda or positions, they are about getting as much money from advertisers as possible.

My Chemical Romance: "Don't f*cking call us Emo."

As for the “indoctrinating,” on Glee via pop-rock musical numbers, this is the typical caricature routine for Beck,  and of course as usual, he’s taking the evidence (in this case, the lyrics) out of context to try to stir up a controversy that really doesn’t exist.  I’m not a fan of My Chemical Romance, as they are little too “pop” for my tastes but they aren’t awful. I can tell you this, though: there is absolutely nothing political about their music.  They are just a straight-up pop-rock band and if you read the entire lyrics for the song, Sing, you’d realize that despite Beck’s attempts at riling up the villagers to go hunt down Frankenstein with pitchforks and torches, it is nothing more than a rather vanilla rock-anthem replete with a bunch disjointed metaphors, with ZERO political messages.  The line about “corporation progress” is rather amusing because you don’t get much more corporate and commercial than MCR.

Here are the full Lyrics for Sing for you to judge for yourself.  And here’s the rather kick-ass little video.

But the Tinfoil Hat Award for Best Lyrics of a Song Taken Out of Context is right here:

Buy yourself a motivation, generation

Nothing, nothing but a dead scene

But a type of white dream

...And it probably makes more sense than Glenn Beck's.

Now, considering that MCR is pretty apolitical (aside from the typical teen-angst crap), and as I just explained, this song is merely a collection of disjointed metaphors, if you actually read the entire lyrics, there’s nothing to indicate any kind of racial reference from the phrase “white dream” (because that’s of course, what Beck wants you to focus on… which would be kind of strange anyways, considering MCR is a bunch of white guys from Jersey).  Also, I would think that if you were pushing something as divisive as an anti-Caucasian agenda in one of your hit songs, you’d want to have that particular lyric discernible for your audience and if you bother to listen to the original song, it’s not.

Based on the fact that I really didn’t understand most of the ramblings of this song and the fact that I know the Beck game, I decided to look up the phrase “white dream” just to see what MCR possibly could have been talking about and lo and behold this is what I came up with from Dream Moods. com:

White represents purity, perfection, peace, innocence, dignity, cleanliness, awareness, and new beginnings. You may be experiencing a reawakening or have a fresh outlook on life. Alternatively, white refers to a clean, blank slate. Or it may refer to a cover-up. In Eastern cultures, white is associated with death and mourning.

Not for nothing, but considering all of the information I’ve provided you about MCR, the song in question, the music video and in particular the two lyrics preceding the “white dream” lyric, isn’t it far more likely that they are talking about an actual white dream as noted in the example I just cited than it is likely that the lyric is anti-Caucasian propaganda?  Again, all you have to do is what Beck doesn’t like to do and that’s present all of the evidence in context.

Now, as for Mr. Kenneally, the problem I have with him over this simple-minded piece that he wrote is two-fold; first, he doesn’t even pretend to be objective by attempting to hide his disdain for Beck (“the right-wing hate bandwagon…” really? That’s some fantastic journalistic integrity on display there, Tim.) and he completely dismisses Beck’s concerns about the sexual content on the show which, albeit, exaggerated by Beck, is certainly a legitimate concern for parents and they should know what’s on their televisions at 8:00 p.m.  Worse, though he intentionally completely neglects to point out that in the video, Beck legitimately praises the show as well.

My biggest problem with Mr. Kenneally, however,  is because of the fact that he allegedly writes about television professionally yet he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  I have an amateur television blog and I know more about television than he does:

Just wait until Beck finds out that his boss (for now, anyway), Fox honcho Rupert Murdoch, is responsible for putting such trash on the air. He’s gonna need a bigger blackboard to explain the complexities of that one…

Rupert Murdoch: Pirate? Yes. Human Resources Manager? No.

Well, maybe that’s because there are no complexities to explain, you big dope.  Note to Tim Kenneally:  Rupert Murdoch has ZERO input on the programming and scheduling decisions at FOX Broadcasting nor does he have any input on hiring and firing decisions.  Kevin Reilly, head of scheduling at FOX, is primarily responsible for Glee being on the air to begin with having actually helped to develop and launch the show and as far as Murdoch being Beck’s boss… I’m curious, Tim: do you think that the CEO of Newscorp is also the H.R. Manager for all of the subsidiaries as well?  Do you think he’s sending out memos reminding people to not forget to submit their time cards?  Do you think he’s briefing new employees on the 401K plan or making flyers on the copier about the upcoming company picnic and with a sign-up sheet for who’s going to bring the potato salad?  This is the equivalent to the kid at the Apple store referring to Steve Jobs as his boss.

The piece was unprofessional enough to begin with but when I read that last snide comment, I was embarrassed for him and everyone who had to read it.  It literally looks as though it was written by a 14 year-old.

The Chicago Code (FOX – Monday, 9:00 p.m)

THE CHICAGO CODE, the compelling new police drama from critically acclaimed creator Shawn Ryan (“The Shield”), follows the Windy City’s most powerful and respected cops as they navigate the city’s underbelly to fight crime and expose corruption within Chicago’s notorious political machine.

Set and shot on location in Chicago, THE CHICAGO CODE is a fast-paced series centered on JAREK WYSOCKI (Jason Clarke), a local legend and a larger-than-life veteran of the Chicago Police Department who wields considerable power thanks to his relationship with TERESA COLVIN (Jennifer Beals), his ex-partner and the city’s first female superintendent, now in charge of a 10,000-member police force. While Teresa diplomatically governs amidst the complicated landscape of Chicago politics, Jarek works the streets on a crusade to clean up corruption and crime and avenge his brother’s murder. Along the way, they will stop at nothing to bring down their powerful adversaries, including ALDERMAN RONIN GIBBONS (Delroy Lindo), a building-magnate-turned-politician who has ruled his ward with a velvet glove for over two decades.

Joining Jarek on the street is CALEB EVERS (Matt Lauria), an eager young detective trying desperately to prove himself. Also in Jarek’s charge is his niece, VONDA WYSOCKI (Devin Kelley), a rookie beat cop whose father – Jarek’s brother – was killed in the line of duty when she was young. Jarek keeps close tabs on her and is less than thrilled with the risk-taking ways of her cocky hotshot partner, ISAAC JOINER (Todd Williams). Also in the mix is low-life LIAM HENNESSEY (Billy Lush), an Irish thug who blends in with the gritty world of local crime. – FOX

8 out of 10

So here we are asking ourselves again, why, oh why, do the best scripted dramas always wind up on FOX?  They are only going to canceled when FOX inevitably pisses their pants after a couple of episodes.  The Chicago Code is eerily similar to Lone Star in that it’s a serialized, well-written, well-casted and well-acted dramatic series… that probably won’t last a single season because FOX has no patience for shows like this.  For the sake of this review, though, let’s pretend that FOX won’t cancel it before the end of the first season.

The Chicago Code is everything it claims to be and perhaps a bit more.  Jason Clarke (Brotherhood) is brilliantly cast as the down-to-earth, old-school detective who is used to thinking unconventionally and using unorthodox methods in order to effectively do his job.  Beals, is his former partner and newly appointed Police Superintendant who has recruited him to help her to clean up the corruption in Chicago.  If you think you’ve seen this before, you have.  This is almost the exact same scenario as in Brian De Palma’s 1987 classic The Untouchables when Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) recruits Jim Malone (Sean Connery) to help him take down the corrupt politicians, corrupt police department and Al Capone.

Watch this scene to understand The Chicago Code:

… and THAT’S The Chicago Code.  There is no sugar-coating it.  This is a modern-day telling of a classic story of crime and corruption and Shawn Ryan (The Shield, The Unit) is not even being subtle with his homage to The Untouchables.  Good for him because he’s a brilliant writer and he’s smart enough to know that if you are going to use someone else’s source material for inspiration, use only the good stuff.  What made HBO’s Deadwood so good was the fact that it was Shakespeare set in the Old West.  It’s no different with any good drama and The Chicago Code excels in exploiting its predecessor.

Ryan’s no slouch, either, when it comes to stories about corruption having been the creator of F/X’s hit The Shield which lasted for six seasons which revolved around a group of corrupt detectives in the L.A.P.D.  And like The Shield, The Chicago Code does something that we absolutely love and we praised it before in our review of A & E’s The Glades; it uses the city itself as not just a backdrop, but as a living, breathing character.  One gets the feeling that they know Chicago as well as the residents do by watching The Chicago Code and that is a key factor that makes the show compelling and worth investing in for audiences.  It’s also beautifully shot and is a visual pleasure to enjoy in high-definition. Unfortunately, though, as previously noted, we don’t think the show has much of a chance at survival.

To be fair to FOX, and as much as we rip on them, there is a big problem with The Chicago Code that has nothing to do with bad management at FOX: it’s a serial.  Serialized television has no place in major network schedules any more.  It just doesn’t play with this generation of viewers who are inundated with 300 plus channels of cable television, the Internet, and reality television.  This generation of television viewers expects everything to be immediate with their entertainment and they simply have no patience for a story that doesn’t effectively conclude itself at the end of the hour.  This isn’t a criticism, this is just a fact and if you’re wondering when the end of serialized drama on network television officially occurred, it was May 24, 2010, which is the day of the series finale of 24 and the day after the series finale of Lost.  It’s getting more and more difficult to put any effort in writing reviews for serialized drama on network television because we are kind of at the “what’s the point?” stage as we expect every serialized drama on network television to be canceled no later than the end of its first season.

Now, that being said, we believe that FOX has made the same mistake with this show that they did with Lone Star and that is airing it on FOX instead of F/X.  F/X has been consistently able to support to serialized dramas and The Chicago Code would be a perfect fit there.

Of course, we certainly hope that we are dead-wrong about the lifespan of The Chicago Code on FOX but the numbers were only OK for the premiere (2.4 rating for 18-49) and the tendency for serialized shows is to lose audience after the premiere, not pick them up.  So we’ll keep our fingers crossed but we aren’t very optimistic about any long-term success for this show.

Watch full episodes of The Chicago Code, here.

Harry’s Law (NBC – Monday, 10:00 p.m.)

Emmy Award-winning writer/producer David E. Kelley (“Boston Legal,” “The Practice,” “Ally McBeal”) weaves his rich storytelling into a new legal dramedy starring Academy Award winner Kathy Bates in the title role – about how people can embrace the unexpected and other curveballs that life can throw at them.

Harriet “Harry” Korn (Kathy Bates, “Misery,” “About Schmidt”) doesn’t believe things happen for a reason, but she discovers that they sometimes do. A curmudgeonly ex-patent lawyer, Harry is abruptly fired from her blue chip law firm, forcing her to search for a fresh start. She finds it when her world unexpectedly collides, literally, with Malcolm Davies (Aml Ameen, “Kidulthood”), a kind-hearted college student who desperately needs Harry’s help with his pending court case, and he subsequently goes to work for her.

Harry soon finds her balance as well as new offices in an abandoned shoe store just as legal hotshot Adam Branch (Nate Corddry, “The United States of Tara,” “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”) accidentally hits her while driving. Inspired by Harry’s no-nonsense understanding of the law, Adam decides to take leave of his shiny corporate firm to go and work with her. Harry, Adam and Malcolm – unlikely but kindred spirits – along with the help of Harry’s shoe-savant assistant, Jenna (Brittany Snow, “Hairspray,” “American Dreams”), are now ready for whatever walks in through the doors of their unique establishment – Harriet’s Law and Fine Shoes. – NBC

4 out of 10

Now, you would figure with the cleverly proposed premise and Kathy Bates and David E. Kelley on the marquis, Harry’s Law should be one of the most refreshing new shows of the spring.  I mean, how could they screw this up, right?  The answer is simple and really should have been expected: David E. Kelley.

We really, really wanted to like Harry’s Law and it almost sucked us in… until it morphed into Boston Legal 30 minutes into it.   Please don’t mistake this, it’s not kind-of like Boston Legal because it’s a David E. Kelley show, it’s the exact same frakking show except that this time Kelley figured that it was probably not a good idea to use a TV show as a pulpit for left-wing proselytizing and right-wing bashing when the evangelists are a bunch of uber-wealthy, Boston elitists.

Instead, we now have Harriet Korn (Bates) a well-respected Cincinnati patent attorney who decides that she’s bored of patent-law and goes on a mission of self-discovery that eventually puts her into a crime infested neighborhood that seems awfully clean and in fact it seems a lot like a Universal back lot.  Here she will now practice criminal law (which she has absolutely no experience in) and fight for the poor, downtrodden, misunderstood and those generally abused by the system.

Like Boston Legal before it, you have to suspend your disbelief with the speed of the legal process and the absurdity of the courtroom antics and you also have to suspend your disbelief that a 20 year-plus veteran patent attorney can now be taken seriously as a criminal defense attorney.

No, what kills this show and why it went from a “7” in our book to a “4” from the first half hour to the second is that it suffers from the exact same problems that Boston Legal did when it ended.  Kelley seems obsessed with preaching to the audience his brand of politics, not understanding that by doing so, he’s alienating at least half of his audience.  Conservatives sure as hell don’t want to hear it and Independents don’t want to hear it either and it’s why Boston Legal only got five seasons whereas its predecessor, The Practice got eight seasons.  We left it halfway through season four and there’s only been one other show that we’ve ever committed to that we left before its series run was over (Heroes).

The Practice, although it definitely had its share of issue-oriented shows, was never preachy.  It didn’t need to be.  The drama was compelling and thought-provoking in and of itself on a weekly basis without the need for anyone to tell the audience how to think politically. What we can’t figure out is what happened with Kelley.  Is it just an issue of hating the Bush Administration so much that he decided that all of his projects would now be propaganda outlets?  We could care less either way what anyone’s personal politics are but when it comes to scripted drama on television, no one wants to be lectured to.  Kelley should know this by now and NBC should have figured it out after the Jimmy Smits legal disaster-of-a-show Outlaw.

The only reason we’re not giving this show lower than a “4” is because there is hope for it and the only thing it needs to be enjoyable is to get rid of the political crap.  The performances are solid and the characters are generally likable.  Will they drop the political crap?  It’s doubtful that they will because Kelley has become an absolute egomaniac with his projects and even if they did dump the politics, it will be too late because we expect audiences to abandon it long before that. We believe Kelley is about to learn a valuable lesson about what you can experiment with and what you can’t when a show hasn’t built an established audience and we expect Harry’s Law to not be renewed for a second season in May for Fall 2011.

Watch full episodes of Harry’s Law, here.