FOX Broadcasting Co.
On paper, Sleepy Hollow sounds like a hot mess. The show reimagines the old legend with a sexy Ichabod Crane, a headless horseman charged with ushering in the apocalypse. Toss in John Cho from Harold and Kumar as a zombie, and a liberal sprinkling of clues found in the Bible of George Washington. Yes, that George Washington. But in practice, the show has become one of the biggest hits of the season. With the finale notching nearly 7 million viewers, Sleepy Hollow was certainly one of the most unique, entertaining, and audacious offerings of the season.
At the Television Critics Association press tour, Fox chairman Kevin Reilly declared the death of Fox’s traditional pilot season. Pilot season is when most networks choose their shows for the new season. Some of the pilots ordered will go to series and some will not, but the process is harrowing for creatives. Reilly pointed out this process isn’t conducive to the kind of interesting, ground-breaking, and watercooler chat-worthy programming Fox wants to develop. Instead, the station is going to adopt a cable approach to programming.
What does this have to do with Sleepy Hollow? As one of the most original offerings of the new season (and one of the best), Sleepy Hollow rose above the fray of new shows because it was truly audacious.
While Fox is throwing away their pilot season, they should also be taking notes on what makes great shows like Sleepy Hollow into critically beloved smashes. Here are four important lessons from Ichabod and Abbie:
1. Don’t be afraid to get weird.Sleepy Hollow has far and away one of the weirdest premises of any show on television. Most networks shy away from anything too crazy. They instead look for TV comfort food, something audiences are familiar with. The problem? Competition from an expanding cable universe, and now even streaming sites, mean audiences are becoming less interested in comfortable. Don’t be afraid to embrace concepts way, way left of center.
2. Do something no one else is doing.There are a million shows on television about cops, lawyers, serial killers, and doctors. There’s no way to stand out from the pack in this format. Those professions are interesting, sure, but those stories have been told a million times and a million different ways. One of the reasons Sleepy Hollow stood out this fall season is because it looked like nothing else on television.
3. Promote diversity.Diversity on the small screen is important, yet television is still overwhelmingly white. Sleepy Hollow is an incredibly diverse show, with actors of all different colors playing major roles in the narrative. The small screen needs more figures like Abbie Mills. The characters of color on Sleepy Hollow aren’t just sidekicks, like you might find on most other programs, they’re three-dimensional people. As mentioned, audiences are tired of seeing the same thing every week on screen. Representation is important, and diversity opens up new avenues for storytelling.
4. Have fun.During Sleepy Hollow’s first season, Ichabod Crane wore skinny jeans, bonded with an On Star agent, and was downright horrified to learn what Thomas Jefferson was up to in his free time. The show might have been non-stop action and adventure, but it wasn’t afraid to have fun. Some television shows take themselves much too seriously and drown in their own dour glominess. Sleepy Hollow reveled in its camp appeal, while always staying true to its story. If Fox is looking for another audacious hit, fun should be part of the equation.
What do you think? What are some lessons Fox can learn from Sleepy Hollow? Share in the comments!
Angry squirrels, happy camels, and sports superstars: what do they all have in common? They’re key ingredients in some of the funniest commercials from 2013. You might have missed some of these gems while you were fast forwarding past them on your DVR, but there were some very funny ads in the year just past.
Tonight (January 5), TruTV's Funniest Commercials of the Year! will count down the top 20 funniest ads. We were lucky enough to speak to host John Henson about the highly scientific process for determining the year’s funniest spots and whether animals or babies make for funnier ads.
What's the process for finding the year's funniest commercials?The producers look at commercials from everywhere. Not just from the United States, but from all over the world. They're looking for the most irreverent, creative and hilarious spots of the year. You're talking about 1000s of commercials ... so spots need to be pretty inventive to stand out from the crowd.
Obviously you can't reveal the number one commercial, but what was one of your favorite funny commercials of the year? I'm always fascinated by commercials from other countries. Different cultures have different sensibilities and different standards, so European commercials tend to be much racier than commercials here in the US. And in Asia, they have can get pretty crazy. If you've ever seen Japanese TV, you know they love absurd humor. It's pretty amazing.
Important question: what makes for a funnier commercial, animals or babies? Good question! There's an old saying in the entertainment business ... never work with animals or babies. They both steal focus. So by that logic, baby animals would be the funniest of all, right?
What's your favorite part of hosting Funniest Commercials of the Year? This is my second year doing this special and I LOVE it. Doing a clip show like this reminds me of my days on Talk Soup. And the producers and the execs at TruTV are really generous with allowing me to try new jokes and improvise, etc. So the tapings are a lot of fun for me. Hopefully, they end up being half as much fun to watch so they'll let me do more!
TruTV’s Funniest Commercials of the Year! air January 5 at 9pm EST.
What were your favorite funny commercials from 2013? Share in the comments!
Look on the television: it’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s just another superero TV show. While the track record of superhero TV is spotty (for every one Smallville there are twoBirds of Prey), networks keep piling on to make new shows about earth’s mightest heroes.
The box office success of superhero films might have a thing or two to do with this small screen revolution. Still, if superheroes are your thing you’ll soon have plenty of viewing options during the week. (Unless your thing is female superheroes, and then you’re still screwed.)
The Current Shows:
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Coming on the heels of the box office-busting The Avengers, this drama by Joss and Jed Whedon has already resulted in huge ratings for ABC. Coulson lives!
ArrowThis CW drama about the Green Arrow filled the Smallville-sized hole in the network’s superhero programming. It was also one of the best dramas of last season and introduced us all to Stephen Amell.
The Upcoming Shows:
Gotham: The TV ShowBefore Batman came on the scene the only one fighting crime in Gotham city was police commissioner Gordon. This upcoming show on FOX will take a look at Gordon’s early years, pre-Bat, and introduce some of the most famous villains in Batman mythology.
The Flash: The ShowSince Arrow is doing so well, it only makes sense that the CW network would want to capture a little more of that lighting in a bottle. Enter (speedily) The Flash. Based on the superhero with more than Olympic speed, the show will be helmed by the same showrunners who already found superhero success with Arrow.
ConstantinePerhaps a less-known property, John Constantine is still a long-running DC universe character. Now NBC is looking to develop a show around the Hellblazer character with Dark Knight scribe David Goyer at the helm. Will Constantine have enough name reconigition to give NBC the hit they so deperately need?
What do you think? Which show are you looking forward to the most? Share in the comments!
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HBO might have sentenced vampire drama True Blood to the true death after next season, the show’s seventh, but we’ll always have the memories. True Blood helped redefine supernatural shows, making it acceptable to mix standard drama elements with high camp.
John P Johnson
So let’s see the fangers out in style by remembering some of the show’s greatest and weirdest moments:
Sookie and Bill Kiss For The First TimeThis is where it all started, when telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse met southern gentleman vampire Bill Compton. Their chemistry was hard to deny, even for actors Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin, who ended up a real-life couple.
Eric Goes Up In FlamesEric may be hot but he’s never been this hot before. As last season of True Blood drew to a close we saw a very, very naked Eric sunbathing. But we could only enjoy the view for a moment, as suddenly our favorite Viking vampire caught flame.
Godric Meets The SunEric’s vampire maker Godric was a centuries old vampire ready to die. The scene where he decided to meet the sun, with Sookie standing by watching, was one of the show’s most emotional and spectacular.
Franklin Can Text Really FastSookie’s best friend Tara has had some of the worst luck on the show, and that’s really saying something for a cast of characters this disaster-prone. When unhinged vampire Franklin falls for Tara, he takes her hostage and tries to impress her by showing off his superior texting skills.
Russell Edgington Makes NewsOne of the greatest True Blood characters was definitely drama queen vampire Russell Edgington, played with great flare by Denis O’Hare. After Eric kills his lover Talbot, Russell makes a splashy entrance on live TV by eviscerating a news anchor. “Now time for the weather. Tiffany!”
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