Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Wednesday, November 11th, 2020. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by Apple Juice and mini-Snickers bars.
It's a bit of a crazy day here, with lots of virtual interviews as well as the normal TV news.
IF A TV SHOW AIRS AND NO ONE TALKS ABOUT IT, DID IT REALLY AIR AT ALL?
Both NBC and CBS have season premieres tonight for some of their higher-profile dramas and I'm struck by how little buzz I am hearing about them. Yes, this is a very odd pandemic-centric year and that has had a profound impact on promotional efforts. But even given that disclaimer, it just feels as if most of the broadcast network shows are just marginal players at best in the pop culture zeitgeist. Speaking with various network publicists, I just don't get any sense of urgency to change things up or try and market their shows in ways that might reach new eyeballs. It's as if they've decided that since most people are going to be watching the shows on a time-shifted basis, they don't need to be as aggressive trying to obtain pre-air publicity. Which just seems like an odd choice to me.
CAN THESE EXECS SAVE VIACOM/CBS' STORIED CABLE BRANDS?
Variety's Cynthia Littleton has a really great piece on efforts by Chris McCarthy and Nina L. Diaz to turn around Viacom's cable networks.
Some day someone is going to write a great book about the last 20 years of Viacom and how the company has squandered numerous chances to reboot itself into the digital age. You could assemble a couple of decent collections of digital executives from all of the people who have cycled through Viacom on their way to somewhere that could make better use of their talents.
But there is also the open question of whether the Viacom/CBS approach to content is the right one in the long-term. Bob Bakish believes with all of his heart that the future of Viacom/CBS lies in being a content arms dealer: expending as much effort as possible selling Viacom IP off to other outlets. And while those efforts have helped boost the bottom line of the company, there are real questions about whether the net result is that Viacom will hobble its own efforts to turn around its cable outlets as well as its streaming services:
The new approach was evident earlier this year when McCarthy’s group opted to sell Darren Star’s dramedy series “Emily in Paris” to Netflix rather than have it air on ViacomCBS’ Paramount Network as planned. McCarthy recognized that the show would perform much better in a binge-watch streaming environment than it would as a weekly series on linear TV. “Emily in Paris” has ranked as one of Netflix’s most watched series since its Oct. 2 premiere.
For sure, figuring out the right formula for scripted programming for the linear cable networks is one of the big challengers McCarthy has to tackle with his expanded channel portfolio. Paramount Network, which has enjoyed a sleeper hit with Kevin Costner-starrer “Yellowstone,” has set a new course that will emphasize original telepics with a focus on providing opportunities for emerging directors. Comedy Central, meanwhile, is significantly upping its investment in animated series in the hopes of finding a next-generation “South Park."
Moves like the selling off of Emily In Paris are ones that I find perplexing. Yes, it's true that Emily In Paris probably had more of a cultural impact at Netflix than it would have had on Paramount. But if you're trying to build on the success of Yellowstone by building up your scripted roster, wouldn't having Emily In Paris on the schedule be a wise move? Viacom could have still sold the season to Netflix and while they would have generated less revenue, it would have been better for the network in the long run.
And that's the thing I find so perplexing about Viacom/CBS. The company's insistence on prioritizing short-term revenue gains over long-term growth.
WHAT'S ON TODAY:
Here is a rundown of the new television programs premiering today:
1) A Queen Is Born (Netflix)
Gloria Groove and Alexia Twister make drag dreams come true as they help six artists find the confidence to own the stage in this makeover show.
2) Aunty Donna’s Big Ol' House Of Fun Series Premiere (Netflix)
Australian comedy group Aunty Donna invites you into their Big Ol' House of Fun! In their new Netflix original six-part sketch series, Aunty Donna’s Big Ol' House of Fun, Mark Samual Bonanno, Broden Kelly, and Zachary Ruane take viewers along for an absurdist adventure through their everyday lives. Come on inside if you’re prepared to handle satire, parody, clever wordplay, breakout musical numbers, and much more.
3) Eater's Guide To The World Series Premiere (Hulu)
Join narrator Maya Rudolph on a quest to find the most unexpected places to score an epic meal, while drinking and dining with the locals along the way.
4) S.W.A.T. Season Premiere (CBS)
Hondo, his father Daniel Sr. (Obba Babatund), and his teen charge, Darryl (Deshae Frost), confront the history of racial tension in Los Angeles between law enforcement and the Black community through flashbacks to the city in 1992 following the Rodney King verdict. Also, the SWAT team pursues El Diablo's scattered drug cartel hiding in the city and a Jihadist group detonating bombs in coordinated attacks.
5) The Liberator Series Premiere (Netflix)
Based on “Operation Avalanche” in WWII, this film follows the Allied invasion of Italy and the story of the regiment known as the "Thunderbirds."
6) The Real Housewives Of Salt Lake City Series Premiere (Bravo)
The Mormon church is undeniably engrained in the culture of Salt Lake City, but these women represent a spectrum of religious beliefs ranging from Mormon, Islamic, Jewish and Pentecostal. Here perfection is not an aspiration, it’s a mandate. With a deep-rooted history, these women share a special bond, but when circles are this tight it’s only a matter of time before beliefs and personalities collide. Whether hitting the slopes, attending parties at Sundance or hosting the city’s elite, these housewives hold themselves and each other to an extremely high standard and never hold back when things go sideways, but lord knows they are always there for each other when they need it most.
7) What We Wanted (Netflix)
A couple facing fertility issues finds their marriage tested on a vacation to a Sardinian resort — and the family next door only adds to the tension.
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