TV Ratings: NBC on Top
For years the network that coined the phrase “must see TV” has been anything but. NBC has consistently been at or near the bottom of the ratings race that’s the constant source of angst for TV execs and fodder for TV journalists. But this season is different. Thanks to two genres of entertainment ‘the peacock’ is crowing—or doing whatever peacocks do. Between the singing competition “The Voice,” and Sunday Night Football the network has been able to claim ratings bragging rights this year.
In 2010, under the leadership of Jeff Zucker, NBC experimented with putting Jay Leno on TV every night at 10 p.m. That failed spectacularly, not only because of the great public outcry over the Conan side of things, but also because NBC stopped developing dramas to air in the 10 p.m. hour. And ever since then the network has been scrambling to regain its footing.
Now with Bob Greenblatt at the helm, NBC has issued another experiment; but this one seems to be working. They upped “The Voice” to twice a season. The first run ends next week and the next starts in March with pop stars Shakira and Usher replacing Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green. It remains to be seen if NBC can maintain its ratings dominance in the months between the two airings, but for now, the network has been able to put two new scripted shows on the map drafting (like in cycling) off “The Voice’s” audience: the drama “Revolution” and the comedy “Go On.”
But will people keep watching once The Voice and the NFL end their runs? We shall see.
Netflix and Disney
Last week, Netflix made a huge deal with The Walt Disney Company to have exclusive rights to that studio’s movies over a three-year period starting in the year 2016. Netflix has agreed to pay nearly $300 million a year: a huge price that could have an equally huge pay-off as companies are trying to find their place in the increasingly complicated world of at-home viewing.
Until this deal, Netflix streaming has been the place where you catch up on favorite TV shows, sample new ones, and sometimes binge watch. IFC’s “Portlandia,” AMC’s “Breaking Bad” and “Walking Dead” have all boasted help from Netflix viewing during their off-seasons.
But as far as movies go, Netflix’ streaming library has been meager. Sure you can get great documentaries there, but for big studio releases, you usually have to add the film to your DVD cue. With the Disney deal, Netflix will get not just Disney films but also those by Pixar and Marvel, two huge properties that Netflix hopes will entice new subscribers.
We live in an era when some movies don’t last long in theaters and others go straight to video-on-demand. And there’s so much TV out there, who has enough hours in the week to sample it all? Year-end lists can be a valuable tool to help navigate your viewing options and provide a guide of what to watch over your holiday vacation.
In recent days, film critics associations in New York, Los Angeles, and Boston have given their awards for the best films and performances of 2012. These lists are the glitter along the yellow brick road to the Globes, Spirit Awards, and Oscars, but they’re also a fascinating look at regional differences among film critics.
For instance, the L.A. Film critics gave Best Picture to Michael Haneke’s “Amour” – the French-language film about aging, love and dementia – and “The Master,” virtually snubbed by others, also got some recognition. L.A. critics also gave Paul Thomas Anderson the nod for Best Director, Joaquin Phoenix for Best Actor, and Amy Adams for Best Supporting Actress.
Meanwhile three New York based organizations – the NY Film Critics Circle, The NY Film Critics Online and the National Board of Review – plus the Boston Society for Film Critics deemed “Zero Dark Thirty” 2012′s Best Feature and its director Kathryn Bigelow Best Director. That film, which opens in limited release late this month and goes wider in January, tracks the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.
Then there are the Best-of lists: no winners, runners-up or losers, just a list of films and TV shows that a particular organization loved this year. Today the American Film Institute (AFI) posted their best-of list of 2012. Interestingly of the 10 TV shows they liked, only one was a broadcast show (“Modern Family”), the rest hail from HBO, Showtime, FX, and AMC. And of the best films you see the usual domestic narrative suspects, but no documentaries or foreign films.
For more Best-of lists head over to this aggregator site where you can search best movies, tv, music, and more from a variety of outlets.
UPDATED: Tuesday 12/12/12
The D.C. Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) also announced their picks for the best in film for 2012. Once again “Zero Dark Thirty” takes best feature and that film’s director, Kathryn Bigelow, wins big. But unlike other critics’ groups around the country those in and around our nation’s capital recognized some overlooked performances and films: Philip Seymour Hoffman got Best Supporting Actor for “The Master,” “Paranorman” took the Best Animated Feature. “Bully” got the Best Documentary. Plus, they gave Best Original Screenplay (not a distinction that all critics groups make) to Rian Johnson for “Looper.”
And for an entirely different take on the year in film watch this utterly compelling thrill-ride of a movie trailer mash-up:
After you watch, go to Sleepy Skunk’s– the editor’s– Tumblr to see the full list of film clips used in the mash-up. See which ones you guessed right!
And don’t forget to check out KCRW’s The Business to get more in-depth coverage of Hollywood.