There was one universally acknowledged “sure thing”: The X Factor was going to be the season’s biggest hit. Not only had the format already proved enormously successful in Britain, but Simon Cowell, the bloody Pied Piper of singing contests, was at the helm besides.
Now, the only time the show gets attention is when Cowell hires or fires yet another judge. Which is about twice a week.
Retro was red hot, with The Playboy Club on NBC and Pan Am on ABC set in the swingin’ ’60s. Both shows were DOA. Undeterred, CBS is evoking the same era in next season’s Vegas with Dennis Quaid. (Trivia toss-up: The top three shows in 1960? Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, and Have Gun Will Travel.)
NBC had high hopes for Whitney, giving the sitcom the plum post-Office spot Thursday. Then it was moved to Wednesday. When it returns next fall, it will be on Friday, the witness-protection program of prime time.
The best pilot was generally agreed to be A Gifted Man, which featured a powerhouse performance by Patrick Wilson. Missed it? CBS scheduled it on Friday.
There was a great deal of buzz about the return of Sarah Michelle Gellar, TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in a dual role on the CW’s Ringer. I kinda liked the show, but apparently I was alone. Seriously, you have to be insanely audience-deficient to get canceled by the CW.
And Fox’s Alcatraz was put in the can’t-miss category because it was produced by J.J. Abrams. Then again, Steven Spielberg produced both Smash and Terra Nova, the season’s two biggest flops.
What? Smash got renewed? It’s coming back in the fall? You see? Hope really does spring eternal on TV.
An animated Alex
If you tuned in this week to Jeopardy!’s Power Players challenge, which pitted TV journalists like NBC’s Chuck Todd, the BBC’s Katty Kay, Fox’s Chris Wallace, and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews against one another, you saw a very different Alex Trebek.
He was animated, engaged, voluble, entertaining. He did voices, tunes, puns — all presumably to impress his more-famous guests. It was a far cry from the usual dour, condescending tone Trebek assumes with us civilians.
What is “Phoning it in, Alex?”
On Person of Interest, Finch (Michael Emerson) is a wealthy and mysterious recluse with almost unlimited riches and resources. He operates his super-high-tech operation out of large building in Manhattan devoted exclusively to his cause.
But every time he and Reese (Jim Caviezel) get another case, why does Finch always put up the picture of the subject on a Plexiglas sheet with a big, jagged, snowy crack running through it?
You’ve got $6 million in computer equipment in the room. You can’t get a $25 push board from Staples?
The American Idol judges have truly lost their minds this year. For my money, the most outrageous comment emerged from Randy Jackson this week, after Phillip Phillips sang in the semifinals.
Jackson called him a “New Age Boss, the new Springsteen.” Wow! Can’t wait for that first Phillip Phillips’ CD, Born to Nap.
Contact David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552 or email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_tv. Read his blog, “Dave on Demand,” at www.philly.com/dod.