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SpoilerTV's Weekly Round Table: 1st Edition

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Hello and welcome to a new weekly article the SpoilerTV team prepped for our community. In this new type of article, we will discuss TV related news and topics that came up during the week behind us. This week Milo (MJ), Samantha (SB), Dahne (DH), Sean (CS), prpleight (JH), Jaime (JC), Bradley (BA), Babar (BS), Darthlocke (DL) and Deangirl (DG) took a seat at the Round Table and shared their thoughts on what was hot this week in the world of TV. So sit back, enjoy the read and join the discussion in the comment section down below.

1.Julia Roberts to star in book adaptation Today Will Be Different on HBO. The whole season is supposed to take place over just one day. What do you think of the concept and the fact that more and more "aging" Hollywood stars are seeking out TV as a refuge?

MJ: I'm all for actors moving to television shows. We've already seen True Detective with mixed success in Seasons 1 and 2 respectively, and Nicole Kidman is going to star in Season 2 of Top of the Lake. They don't necessarily have to be aging too, Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy have both been in Peaky Blinders. At the end of the day, it depends on the actor and the show in question, as normally shows with the big name movie actors tend to be pretty good. Big Little Lies is another example of a great show with lots of A-List talent.

SB: I think it's good because it introduces a whole new audience to their work, who might not have been inclined to watch movies they starred in because it's not their thing. For example, I haven't really watched movies that Nicole Kidman has starred in, but I was blown away by her in Big Little Lies. I do however find it amusing that not to long ago, there was a type of gulf between TV stars & movie stars with some movie stars thinking they were too good for TV, and some TV stars making it as a movie star & then deciding they were too big to go back to TV until of course, the right role came along.

DH: TV is a smart move for many actors, especially since there is no longer as much stigma attached to TV acting. It used to be that movies were considered more prestigious but with the rise of "Emmy-bait" TV, an actor can get the same amount of attention with a more steady paycheck and still reasonable shooting time. These things are rarely 22 episodes long. It also is very beneficial to TV because it creates its own marketing and has a better chance of getting initial viewers, although it is certainly no guarantee of success. Most of these projects fail because they are "Emmy-bait" shows.

JH: I don’t see a problem with any actor pursuing any opportunity to take jobs they enjoy. Unfortunately, “Aging actors” seems to really mean female actors over 40 seeking refuge in television because once they hit that age “Hollywood” barely offers jobs to these women unless they are willing to play someone’s mother or grandmother. In television, they get to play characters that offer a challenge commiserate with their skill.

JC: I'm totally fine with big movie stars making their way towards TV, but I do worry that it'll lead to certain shows only being popular or getting renewed because that specific actor is in it. It wouldn't be fair towards other shows with better storytelling but lesser known actors. Then again, I could totally be jumping the gun here. For now, let's see where this goes.

BA: It says a lot about how well TV has developed in the last two decades, no? That line between TV and film is blurring somewhat - yes, a film will continue to have bigger budgets and, for the most part, bigger set pieces etc., but TV allows such an in-depth exploration of stories and characters that it's easy to see why Hollywood stars are coming to the small screen. And there are actors going the other way, too.

DL: I don't think there is anything wrong with it, in fact if Cable TV is where actresses can fight against Ageism, I think that's a great thing. As for the concept I think it can work, but you either need a lot of characters or a lot of nuance. I haven't read the novel though, so I don't feel I can offer any insight onto how they might be able to achieve it.

DG: It's not "aging" Hollywood stars anymore. It's often actors who want a more stable work environment, especially those with kids. Given the quality of many cable and streaming originals, there is often more scope for creativity in these projects than movies. Given shorter seasons, television isn't even limiting creatively for many stars as they are able to juggle a series, a movie, and often even another series! I'm thinking about Tom Hardy for one...

2. 24 Legacy got canceled but the exec are already mentioning a new show in the franchise. When will Fox realize that the time run out?

MJ: I only checked out the first episode of 24: Legacy but I wish Fox would stop trying to bring back their old shows like this and The X-Files because it shows that not only are they running out of original ideas, but they're also relying on nostalgia which can only be successful up to a point. Whilst I'd prefer it if returning shows were retired, for the most part, I wouldn't mind future seasons of returning shows if the quality is good. But the quality has to be good, or else there's no point in doing it.

SB: I feel like Fox is so bereft of ideas that they have to rely on tried & tested formula's to feel hours in the schedule. Prison Break was greeted with mixed feeling yet they still refuse to rule more out, The X-Files should've been over a long time ago because there's just not that much story left to tell and yet Fox keeps milking away,

DH: Who says the time has really run out? Like every show, it depends on the writing and the acting. I didn't watch 24: Legacy but given a couple of years, another 24 might not be a bad thing. I do think that it is one that would benefit from a cast with more name recognition though. The mistake I see is that networks are jumping on old shows too quickly and not giving any breathing time. I do not blame networks though for the rash of reboots and remakes. They are losing ratings at a steep rate and something needs to be done to make a pilot stick out from the billions of other shows on now. Using a name that people are familiar with is a shortcut. The problem is that like most new shows, a lot of them just aren't entertaining TV. That doesn't have anything to do with a reboot and a whole more to do with the people in charge of the show.

CS: 24: Legacy and other such reboots of big-to-mild hits from the last twenty years are merely the last desperate gasp of air from the broadcast networks. Each of them has refused to change with the times, and have stuck to an increasingly old-fashioned business model. At least CBS and the CW have some brand recognition: the former is synonymous with easily digestible procedurals and multi-cam sitcoms, the latter synonymous with soapy genre shows. Fox, ABC, and NBC are left grasping at anything to survive, even sometimes venturing into "prestige" TV before failing miserably. All five of these networks, at least in their current incarnation, are not long for this world, and there's nothing they can do about it.

JH: Oh dear goodness, when a show is canceled let it go. Move on. In general, these revisits don’t improve upon the reasons the show was canceled in the first place. I’m a long time science fiction lover. So very many of the shows that I loved were canceled. So I do know the pain of losing a favorite show (sometimes with hanging cliffhangers.) But that doesn’t mean that 3, 4, or 10 years after any one of these shows was canceled that it would be a good deal to try and recapture the magic that has passed. Make room for some new stories. Please.

Just looked ahead to question 3 and its mention of “Sense8” another very very painful cancellation. I’m hoping the show can be saved or moved to a different format. But the mention of that show does make me want to amend my thoughts a little bit. There are some stories that could work in a new incarnation because their continued stories would be universe based (e.g. Heroes and 24) and would allow for completely fresh stories in the same universe. While shows like Prison Break make a mistake in trying to explain away the circumstances in place at cancellation time and attempt to plausibly re-introduce original characters and set them up in a new (yet familiar) story.

BA: Legacy was very fleetingly a middling show. However, much of its season was incredibly poor, with plot twists that lacked any excitement - a great many were essentially the same as longtime 24 fans had seen before, but most were incompetent enough that I find it hard to accept even brand new fans really getting on board with them - a narrative that was largely dull and weak, and antagonists that were laughably bad. Many of the fans have said, even from the get go of Legacy's announcement, that 24 wouldn't work without Kiefer Sutherland, but it goes deeper than that because Corey Hawkins was more than capable of leading Legacy. The problem is not the lead character or actor, but the fact that 24 has exhausted all of its storylines to the point of tedium. I really love 24, but under no circumstances should there be more. FOX, just let it lie.

BS: I only watched the pilot of 24: Legacy and never watched the original 24 so I can say about the quality are how the offshoot compared with the original, but Legacy had middling ratings which make it clear that people are not here for a "24" without Jack Bauer", so the new installment has Bauer in it, I don't see the point.

DL: Well as a fan of 24, I enjoyed 24 Legacy for what it was. I really liked some of this cast and allusions to previous seasons, but I think one problem might be that 24 has never been a "serious" show and today it's in a market where there is a lot of great more serious dramatic TV and the tone in America has changed. Also I think is that the idea of bringing Tony back ended up being more of gimmick, because we didn't really learn how he got here--I think this incarnation might have worked better, if there were stronger ties to 24 by the season's end. With that being said I'm not apposed to keeping the door open for 24 anthologies--I think it would be great if we could a series that was about finding Jack Bauer by bringing certain characters like Chloe or Kate Morgan, or Kim back to do so, but I think they should save stuff like this for summer or winter break.

3. Netflix revives CW pilot, Insatiable as a Netflix Original series while canceling their high profile shows like Sense8. Is this what we should expect from Netflix in the future? Recycling and cheaper projects?

MJ: I never got around to watching Sense8 but one shows that I'll miss that Netflix put out is Marco Polo which suffered a similar fate. It really improved in the second season and it's such a shame that Netflix seems to be moving towards the more traditional network model now, although you can't blame the as both Marco Polo and Sense8 were big budget shows with a relatively low audience figure. Seeing as Netflix has the creative freedom to do so, I'd wish that if they were going to move for cheaper projects, I wish they'd focus on quality not quantity and would love to see them not only allow their series to get proper endings - maybe one last feature-length film to tie up loose ends especially if that show ended in a cliffhanger would really help, especially as I know there were a lot of people who were annoyed at Sense8's cancellation.

SB: I know that people are upset Sense8 was canceled, and whilst Netflix isn't like a traditional network the same rules do unfortunately apply; if a show costs a lot and doesn't have a significant audience it has to go. Pilot season produces a lot of good projects that unfortunately don't make it to air which is annoying, but also understandable because there are so many. It, of course, depends on whether the project is actually good, but if Netflix wants to take some of them on I say good luck.

DH: TV is a business, even on a streaming site. Since we can't see their numbers on a regular business, it does sometimes feel like these shows are canceled out of the blue. While I do not like shows that end on a cliffhanger, if a show is costing a lot and not generating enough revenue, then it should go to make way for something that might be the better business. As for picking up a pilot from another network, good for it. I would rather they do that than pick up a canceled show only to watch it die on Netflix.

CS: Up until now, Netflix's tactic when it comes to TV development is to throw money at every show that comes across their desk. This tactic, in my opinion, hasn't been entirely successful, with much of Netflix's TV output (especially on the drama side) being little more than decent. The recent cancellations of Sense8, Marco Polo, and Bloodline, suggest that there's been a change in outlook behind the scenes of the media giant. These three shows were deeply flawed (and I say this as a fan of Sense8) and failed to create much buzz or critical acclaim, which hardly justified the ridiculous amount of money spent on them. This is a rare sign of vulnerability for Netflix, and I hope their newfound caution and frugality results in higher quality output in the future.

JH: I suspected that money was the primary reason for the cancellation of Sense8. The quote from CEO Reed Hastings that “Our hit ratio is way too high right now. … I’m always pushing the content team: We have to take more risk; you have to try more crazy things. Because we should have a higher cancellation rate overall.” disturbs me. I get and like the idea that he wants the content people to take chances on new innovative shows (which Sense8 was, I can’t help but mention) But the idea that they should be canceling more shows…implies that he doesn’t actually care about the quality of the product he’s selling.

JC: I'm still extremely bitter about the cancellation of Sense8. The second season hadn't even been out a month before they canceled it, how on earth were they expecting it to have high ratings when they don't give people the time to actually watch (also a promotion for that show was a joke compared to that of other Netflix Originals). As for Insatiable. It didn't interest me before and I don't plan on checking it out.

BA: I think what people often don't actively remember is that Netflix is a network now, and so that often means making financial decisions that upset fans but are potentially more profitable. It's hard to judge without any tangible metrics since Netflix don't release any viewing numbers, but it's tough to begrudge them making whatever decision they feel is best. They can't run every one of their originals indefinitely.

DL: I totally understand why Netflix can't afford shows like Sense 8 or The Get Down without having greater numbers, but I do think those shows do deserve something like a Christmas special to be able to try and wrap-up story--otherwise, despite the price tags, Netflix saving other tv shows from cancellation, becomes kind of meaningless, because even picking up something like Sense 8 or The Get Down was about a willingness to bring high-budget and creative shows to the network, while saving others, suggested Netflix wanted to be a kind of well-rounded "heroic" network--and that could have consequences, if people feel like Netflix execs don't care about the meaning of their brand(s)

DG: Netflix will continue to push the boundaries. The current television landscape owes a lot to Netflix not following the traditional model. They will continue to grow in unexpected ways, but they will definitely remain responsive to what their customers actually want. Sense8 was ridiculously expensive to produce, but I doubt that they will shy away from spending that kind of money again in the future if they think it will be profitable.

4. Fox passes on The Beast, while The Passage is filled with a strong cast. Should more broadcast networks seek out off-cycle pilots?

MJ: Just noticed that Fox's planned Luther remake was pushed off-cycle, so I really hope that doesn't get picked up if networks start looking at picking up off-cycle pilots as inevitably remakes of British shows tend to suffer from a couple of exceptions. I guess it's another one that depends on the show in question, if it's interesting enough I'd love to see something picked up off-cycle - The Passage for example as mentioned is something that certainly right up my street.

JH: As more networks turn to shorter seasons (8, 10, or 12) episode seasons, I think non-traditional approaches to the TV Season could be beneficial for the audience. It’d be nice if the broadcast networks could fully embrace the change in the television landscape. This combination could mean more good TV for the audience.

JC: I'm a fan of the shorter seasons (makes it easier to catch up on when I inevitably fall behind). I do find that I have too many shows in the regular TV season so I hope networks start spreading things out a bit.

BA: TV is year round now, so why not? Why not take advantage of an actor's availability in September to do something for a network when they may not be able to in the traditional pilot season? Aside from it creating more and more and more for us to all be behind on, there's no downside to this.

BS: I think off-cycle pilots are a really good idea. It gives the creative team a chance to work at their own pace and not fight for actors against dozens of other pilots. They producers can have their own pick of actors. This is Us was also shot off-cycle and we all saw what a success it was, critically and ratings-wise.

That is it from us guys it is your turn now. Scroll a bit more down and join the discussion in our comment section. Share your thoughts on either the topics we discussed or our opinions directly. Till next week.

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