Scattered Thoughts: The Blacklist, 911, This Is Us and More

The Blacklist

I was so excited by the direction The Blacklist appeared to take in the season premiere. It looked like we were going to get a season of the dashing, fun Reddington we got in the first few seasons. Instead, we got the odyssey of killing Tom Keane. Great, that was a nice arc. But in like two episodes Reddington had all his money and cars and houses and suits back. WTF? We’e seen the Aida Turturro character what, two times?

Tom’s death was well done, and I enjoyed how the storyline played out. Less so the second half of the season with Liz trying to find his killer. Yawn. So let me offer an alternative arc:

  • The first half of the season is Reddington rebuilding his network. Starting from the hotel in the premiere and ending with him regaining his status at the mid-season finale.
  • The second half of the season is Tom’s death. Maybe Tom did something to help Reddington that led to someone wanting him dead. Maybe Reddington’s re-ascension came at Tom’s expense. Who knows.

I think this would have been a better path than such a quick return to the same The Blacklist that had grown so stale in previous seasons.

What I finally settled on as The Blacklist’s real issue is this: It has two main characters. Is it about Liz or is it about Raymond? Their relationship is the center of the show, but I think it also means the show is quick to bore.


Blindspot gets a little ridiculous sometimes when they’re putting together clues from Jane’s tats. Run these numbers through a random code, combine them with these numbers put in a circle, multiply them by pi—BAM!—found a bad guy. It’s a little much, but still fun. I’m glad they shipped Weller’s kid off to Denver.

I love Patterson. TV is too quick to make its technophiles into absurd caricatures (looking you, NCIS and Criminal Minds). Blindspot didn’t. Patterson is an integral part of the show and the FBI team. The show deserves credit for treating her like a brilliant professional. I loved the style and content of the Patterson-focused episode this past week.

But she should have died. As much as I like the character, I was surprised to find myself wishing she would walk into the elevator. It would have been a wonderful ending to a character that the show has given so much heartbreak.

Blindspot has handled itself very well in its third season. It’s not easy for shows to pivot away from their main storyline. The Ronan character is strong enough to be the main thorn in Jane’s side, and I expect that storyline will get most of the visibility for the rest of the season. It should be a good one.

This Is Us

I strayed a little from my “Don’t analyze this show” mantra after the over-done trilogy ended the first half of the season. It’s been dynamite since it came back. Except for last week. I don’t know what made anyone think we want a whole episode about Deja. But I do agree with the producer that NBC deserves credit for not intervening when the second-to-last episode of the season left out two-thirds of the main cast.

Remember last year when the penultimate episode was soooooo great and the finale was sooooo meh? Hoping for the opposite this year.


When did Sharon enclose the porch on the ranch house? And come to think of it, why is Sharon still living in her ex-husband’s house on her ex-husband/ex-father-in-law’s property?

Goodbye, Chelsea. You were great with Adam but unfortunately the show let you die on the vine until you weren’t much more than someone who smiles at Nick.

Nick, you’re a brat. If they made posters of spoiled rotten rich kids, you’d be in them. You hate your father, but you love his money. Oh no wait you gave away all your money. Now you’re doing low-income housing. Sorry, that’s Randall and Beth Pearson’s gig. And your bar burned down. TWICE. My god you’re pathetic at adulthood.

I root harder for Nick & Sharon than I do for myself.

Ashby kids, you’re annoying. If my DVR had AI capabilities it would learn that I fast-forward through all your scenes.

Noah, sorry you were only good for being bad at having girlfriends. I wish they’d have done more with you, you could be a nice conflict between your father and grandfather.

I don’t care about The Hillary Hour. At all.

Nikki, that was kinda hot when you ran off with Nick’s contractor. You go!


It’s gotta be pretty bad for a show set in L.A. to not get my enduring affection. But 911 achieved it. Wow was this show bad. I quit after the plane crash episode. Not because the plane crash was poorly done (it wasn’t). But because this show has nothing other than emergency porn to keep your interest. The guy with rebar through his head? Come on.

The only thing worth watching about this show was the phone relationship between Connie Britton and the horny firefighter. That was awesome, but not awesome enough to keep watching. Peter Krause is terrible. Angela Bassett is terrible. So bad.


Hey there, Shemar Moore. I’m sure SWAT is a totally unrealistic portrayal of an actual SWAT team. But it’s an entertaining hour nonetheless. The relationship between Shemar and his boss is a little forced, and the show’s attempt at addressing societal controversies is not quite ambitious enough to cram into one episode the way it tries to do.

The best character is probably the hot-headed young kid. It’s fun to watch him mature. I also really like the way they handled the story with him hitting on his co-worker who turned out to be bisexual. A show with no merit (hello, 9-1-1) would have drawn this out and probably given us at least one steamy sex scene. So kudos.


Lee is a titan. If he qualifies for the Tournament of Champions, lookout. The dude was rarely wrong. Rachel also deserves credit for out-slugging him to start her run. She went on to benefit, I think, from some weak competition. This little banker twerp was pretty good, too.


I generally lament TV remakes (SWAT included, in this respect) because they make me afraid this great era of TV is running out of steam. So why am I curiously interested in watching Roseanne?

Africa’s Great Civilizations

This has been airing on the PBS lately. It’s pretty good.

Penn & Teller: Fool Us

More to come on this show. 😉

The Man In The High Castle



Season four due out in April. Bosch isn’t going to win any awards, but it’s a solid and enjoyable show. Doesn’t hurt to have Man in Black, Matthew Abadon and a house with the most gorgeous view imaginable.

House of Cards

The more time goes on, the less interested I am in the upcoming season. What if the show just ends with President Claire declaring that it’s her turn? I think that would be fine, and also somewhat fitting. Kevin Spacey’s character is deposed, out of the power he’s enjoyed for decades. Replaced by the woman he manipulated for so long.

I normally don’t like it when TV pierces the screen to mirror real life events. But that would have been perfect.

A Hollywood star screaming my name in bed is why I love Twitter

Michelle Stafford, who played Phyllis on Y&R before leaving to create The Stafford Project, was doing a Spreecast web chat live from her bed this morning. When host Arthur Kade started reading questions from fans, pretty much the greatest moment of my life happened. You can see the video here, scrub ahead to 13:30.

Here’s a transcript:

Michelle Stafford: “KEVIN! YOU’RE SO! I LOVE KEVIN! I LOVE HIM!”

Me: [faints]

To recap, that’s Hollywood actress Michelle Stafford screaming my name in bed.

I’ll let you pick your jaw up off the floor.

[pauses for effect]


Why is a Hollywood actress screaming my name? Let’s go back to yesterday when I ranted against an article from some lifehacker who wants everyone to stop watching television because, among other silly assertions, he thinks it robs us of social interaction. I rightly obliterated his argument with examples of how watching television actually increases social interactions thru social media. This is an example of one type of interaction I left out.

On her Twitter account, @therealstafford has a running joke about guys who do random things being “bad in the sack.”

So yesterday when she tweeted her misgivings about hairless cats:

I could only respond:

Which got a nice response that will surely boost my Klout score:

LOLs were had, retweets were made, good fun all around. Since this happened only a day ago, presumably she remembered or recognized my avatar in the chat stream today and could only think to exclaim gleefully upon seeing it, as many women tend to do.  Either way it was very cool for me as a viewer that a celebrity from a show I watch would make a note of me. And that’s why I love Twitter.

Thanks to Twitter, stars and fans can interact in a way they never could. While some celebrities have purely promotional accounts, many television stars use theirs exactly the way Twitter is meant to be used: to interact. Stafford is one example, many of her former colleagues on Y&R are, too. As a Y&R fan for almost two decades, I was over the moon the first time Joshua Morrow replied to one of my tweets. Nick Newman the person talked to me!

That was so cool that I decided to embark on a mission to get every Y&R star who is on Twitter to respond to one of my tweets without pathetically begging for a retweet like so many losers do. I hate crap like that. Instead, I decided I would show you can get celebrities to respond to you by simply tweeting good stuff. Instead of treating them like OMG CELEBRITIES! I responded to their tweets the way I would respond to anyone else in my feed.

The results have been a blast. To date, at least 8 Y&R actors have responded to one of my tweets.

Most of the time it’s a simple “Ha!” or “LOL” and there’s nothing wrong with that. The goal is a response. The result is an even stronger bond with the show, or in Stafford’s case, a bond strengthened enough to follow her career to her next project. Had there been no Twitter and Phyllis got shipped to an island medical clinic off the coast of Georgia for coma patients I likely would not have bothered to figure out where the actress went.

When I decided to embark on getting a response from my favorite Y&R stars, I certainly didn’t anticipate it would result in one of them screaming my name in bed. That’s what Twitter can do, that’s what television can do. It is what makes it a great tool for social interaction and a powerful tool for marketers. What happens with TV stars happens countless times every day with brands helping customers solve a problem or right a wrong. It means sales, good will, and word-of-mouth advertising that no television commercial can buy. In politics we motivated candidates and volunteers by telling them the most trusted endorsement of a candidate comes from a voter’s friend, neighbor or relative. Twitter gives brands the opportunity for that endorsement. Delta lost my luggage but their Twitter assist team tracked it down and got it back for me. 

So back to our lifehacker who is busy practicing kung fu or hanging out with his “girlfriend.” Watching television isn’t a bad thing. It’s not a sin. It’s entertainment and there is social interaction.

Keep watching, keep tweeting.

Considering an amendment to the spoiler policy

I’m considering an amendment to the official spoiler policy I established a few weeks ago. It is based on primetime dramas and may be faulty when considering the unique viewing traditions for daytime soap operas.

Time-shifting is so ingrained in soap culture that it seems like there should be a different set of rules. Being a daily show airing during the work day is very different than a drama that airs once a week at night. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to watch it live, so shouldn’t there be a short grace period?

This consideration is prompted by the Y&R Twitter account live-tweeting episodes during the day.


The Duchess

Jeanne Cooper died Wednesday morning in Los Angeles. Her age is irrelevant, for she was timeless.

The IMDB credits her for appearing as Katherine Chancellor in 1006 episodes of The Young and the Restless, a tally that must surely fall short considering that she first appeared in 1973, the same year the show premiered on CBS. A single Daytime Emmy award is an indictment on the Emmys more than a statement of her acting abilities. Her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame sits at 6801 Hollywood Blvd, a location I will surely visit when I am in California later this year.

Cooper was a legend in her own time if there ever was one, the dame of an era of television that the world left behind. America once loved its morning show anchors, evening newscasters and late night hosts who came into our lives on a daily basis. All of those daily institutions went into decline as entertainment options fragmented, including soap operas. Once-standard shows like All My Children and One Life To Live are gone and only four remain.  My grandpa surely went apeshit in his grave at the cancelation of his beloved Asa Buchanan. OLTL recently returned as a 30-minute series on Hulu, but Grandpa Julius ain’t got time for that. Asa belongs on television with the Cubs and Crossfire, dammit.

The Young and The Restless has not been immune from the decline even though its ratings improved after last year’s housecleaning of on- and off-screen talent. It still leads the other four remaining sudsers in all categories. Y&R is making a clear move towards youth in its talent and fresher, more modern sets, indicating that it probably knows it needs to keep and attract younger viewers. As it does, though, they will be coming into the show in a different way than past generations.

Soaps used to be passed down like a family heirloom. My mom’s dad passed Asa on to her, she passed Y&R on to my sister and me. If either of us ever has children, they may take it from us. That connection to their closest relationships is part of why soap fans are so incredibly tied to their shows. As more viewers come to the show without that connection they will be more difficult to retain.

Soap operas will then rely more on another connection unique to the genre. I obviously only knew Cooper in the way that all viewers did, but she and her co-stars have been a part of my life every weekday for half the time I’ve been alive. That might sound a little odd, to say that television stars we never meet can be a part of our lives, but think about it: Five days a week, for years on end. What other parts of your life are that frequent, that consistent? I’ve watched stars like Joshua Morrow and Sharon Case go from their 20s to near their 40s. Christel Khalil began her role as Lily Winters when she was 14 years old. We literally watched her grow up. A viewer cannot help but feel a connection when it devotes 39 minutes to them day after day, year after year. Soaps will need new viewers to stick with the show often enough and long enough for that connection to take root in them the way it has for so many of us for generations.

And through it all, there was Jeanne Cooper. Not young, still restless, forever the dame of daytime television.

Rest in peace, Duchess.