Michael Griffin
  • Is ABC in Danger of Running 'Shark Tank' into the Ground?
    By: Michael Griffin May 22, 2014
    ABC Television Network Shark Tank is riding a wave of popularity that is really kicking up the quality of life for its millionaires and billionaires. The denizens of the tanks are regulars on the talk show circuit and have journalists filing story after story after story in all types of media. They need to be careful though — their parent network, ABC, could be pushing this show off the rails of the gravy train even faster than they would like. Another ABC show can provide a cautionary tale that Barbara Corcoran, Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John, and Kevin O'Leary should heed: Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. Over a decade ago, it was the toast of the television world. Regis Philbin, with his assortment of ties, had all of America repeating his trademark phrase, "Is that your final answer?" It was must-watch TV and the first time that someone actually answered the million dollar question was national news. Then ABC got greedy. It started airing new episodes multiple times a week. People got bored of the program and it eventually fell out of prime-time grace. The very same thing can happen with Shark Tank if the programming honchos aren't more careful. The show has served as a stalwart stand-in for series that have already ended their seasons or have already been canceled. While there is educational value in a repeat viewing of a Shark Tank episode, there's no small chance that people might start tuning these lessons out. The show's format has served it well, especially with the bringing in of Cuban and Greiner to further humanize the show; still, there's always a need to shake up thing after a while, since even the most successful formula and get stale after a while. One suggestion might be for the five sharks to make some road trips and visit the entrepreneurs in their element. That way, they could spend an episode in one place and go really in-depth, much like Marcus Lemonis does on The Profit. Imagine Cuban snarking on the work area of an entrepreneur. Even if this shakes up what we loved about the show to begin with, fresh material like this could be what saves the series from going stale. Just remember... a shark has to keep moving forward, otherwise it will die. The same could be said of this show if ABC keeps this up. Follow @Hollywood_com // Follow @literateartist //
  • What to Expect in Season 3 of 'Elementary'
    By: Michael Griffin May 20, 2014
    Jeff Neumann/CBS Broadcasting Season 2 of Elementary has come to a close and we're faced with several things all at once: Sherlock Holmes throwing his lot in in with MI6, Joan Watson moving out on her own and Mycroft Holmes vanishing in order to escape the potential wrath of the French terrorist group Le Mileu. It's going to be quite interesting to see how this all shakes out. The first character whose future we must consider is Sherlock, specifically in regards to his decision to consult for British Intelligence. That plainly means that the esteemed detective will be setting up shop in London. What this means for Captain Thomas Gregson and detective Marcus Bell is anybody's guess. Apart from an arc that featured Bell getting shot due to something Sherlock did and Gregson trying to save his marriage at one point, the two were largely reduced to having Gregson yell at Sherlock for breaking protocol and Bell to sitting and scowling next to Sherlock during police interrogations. The writers really need to do something with those two, since Aidan Quinn and Jon Michael Hill are both too talented to just be bit players again during Season 3. A good solution would be for Holmes to realize that New York is too much in his blood and have him return there after an episode or two so they can re-integrate Gregson and Bell as Sherlock realizes his mistake. What to do about Mycroft? Although Elementary isn't in any way strictly adherent to the canon of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's material, Rhys Ifans didn't feel like the right fit as Sherlock's brother, especially compared to the Mycroft of the BBC's Sherlock. This isn't a knock against Ifans' acting ability, but the show might want to make him undergo plastic surgery and have him coming back looking like an entirely different person. There just didn't seem to be any genuine chemistry between Ifans and Lucy Liu either — the Mycroft/Watson plot just seemed cobbled together to make Sherlock act like an even bigger ass than he normally does. Speaking of Watson, she is a bigger issue. There still doesn't seem to be an avenue for Sherlock to have any romantic feelings for her, since he is still far too vested in his work, since that is probably one of the only things keeping him from slipping back into an abyss of drug use (though the audience is still going to be very interested to find what he did with that baggie of heroin that he stashed in his jacket pocket towards the end of Season 2. There were some who speculated that he might have intended to slip back into drug use to force Watson's hand into becoming his "sober companion," the pairing that made them fall into each other's orbits in the first place. That scenario was seemingly dashed when he decided to accept the MI6 offer, but that baggie will keep lurking like Chekhov's Gun during the summer hiatus, leaving us wondering what place it had. Will it force a reconciliation of sorts between the two or will it be forgotten? The show is on a good path, and this upcoming season is going to be an important one in terms of it staying on stable footing. Jonny Lee Miller is a fantastic actor, and he's made Sherlock a must-watch character full of nuance beyond being an arrogant socially inept buffoon, but it's going to be up to the writers to make it must-watch TV. They have ths summer to really hammer that down or they will have even more time the following season to spend on the beach. Follow @Hollywood_com // Follow @literateartist //
  • Do Cameos Help or Hurt a Movie?
    By: Michael Griffin May 15, 2014
    Lionsgate A cameo can play as a nice little Easter Egg that tucks itself into a movie. All of a sudden, a film treats you to a surprise appearance by one of your favorite actors. But then there's another person. Well, two eggs is still a pretty reasonable dish. But if the movie keeps piling them on, if can feel like you've eaten a whole basket full of them and boy does your stomach ache. There are some movies that get the recipe right and some who just overstuff themselves and spoil the entire meal. Possibly in the "Ruined It" camp we have the trailer for They Came Together. There's a cavalcade of familiar faces that come in to support the Paul Rudd/Amy Poehler vehicle. We see people from Saturday Night Live and many Fox and NBC comedies, as well as Chris Meloni and Cobie Smulders. It got to the point that trying to guess who would be showing up next took precedent over following what the movie was about. That can be seen as a big detraction, and it remains to be seen how it might help or hurt the movie when it hits theaters. Others in the "Ruined It" category: Saving Private Ryan. This really gritty movie opened with a scene visceral enough to make WWII vets leave theaters due to flashbacks. It was a realistic, immersive movie that opted for genuine emotion over hokey war movie stereotypes. Well, until a character portrayed by Ted Danson showed up and started shooting Nazis. "Wait... is that Sam Malone? What's next, Carla Tortelli smacking a Nazi with her serving tray?" A very poor casting choice in an otherwise stellar film. When it comes to successes, though, we can look at movies like those in The Expendables franchise. People sit through the movies wondering what great '80s or '90s action hero is going to make an appearance. It's icing on the cake of the over-the-top feel of the films (which are riddled with scenes and people punching each other bloody). There's an almost satisfied sigh when a Chuck Norris shows up. Additionally, a well-placed cameo can lift up the entire mood of the film: Sean Connery appearing at the end of Robin Hood, and all those superstars at the end of The Player (which was supposed to be about making a movie with a lot of no names). Too many cameos and a movie risks actually turning people off. Without at least one recognizable person on the screen, you might never hook 'em in the first place. Like many things that come out of Hollywood, it's a guessing game as to what will or will not be successful. Just see how full one's Easter Basket is at the end of the movie. Follow @Hollywood_com // Follow @literateartist //
  • His Name Was Roger Sterling: What We'd Like to See as 'Mad Men' Ends
    By: Michael Griffin May 09, 2014
    AMC Warning to all those not caught up on Mad Men: spoilers to follow!  While this final season of Mad Men, which will be split into two parts like AMC's other hugely successful show Breaking Bad, is going to be focusing on the fall (and possible redemption) of Jon Hamm's Don Draper, there's another person whose fate we await: John Slattery's Roger Sterling. The silver-haired smooth-talking ad man, who is looking more and more like an anachronism in his three-piece suits amid the hippie beads of his co-workers, has been through as much of a personal grind as Draper. Let's begin with the fact that Sterling now has to deal with two children: Draper, whom he has to practically babysit after he talked the other partners at the agency into bringing him back after his meltdown with Hershey, and his own daughter Margaret, who has abandoned her son and husband to go live on a free-thinking commune. Sterling's getting stretched thin, and this is a man whose biggest decision for much of his life has been what kind of alcohol he wants to drink at work or after it. What would be ideal is to see Sterling have some kind of redemption arc himself. Right now, that lasting image of him picking himself up out of the mud and slinking off back to New York while his daughter remained with the commune is him at his absolute lowest. Forget his heart attack, hitting on Betty Draper, and his LSD trip: this is the nadir for the erstwhile smooth operator. He realized that he massively screwed up while spending all those years chasing after nearly every female with a pulse that was not his wife. We want to see Roger pick himself up from that moment and maybe move on into the 1970s with a sense that he's actually grown as a person, that it's never too late for someone to improve themselves. It took a big man to be able to take Draper back at his job. That in of itself was a nice sign, though having one of his group of hippies who were staying in his hotel room enter shortly thereafter dimmed that shining moment just a tad. Slattery is an excellent actor, especially in that scene with Margaret at the commune when he realized that he had helped create this unholy mess. The show should give him more scenes of inward reflection to work with. This doesn't just have to be about the redemption of one man... or one woman, since Elisabeth Moss' Peggy Olson has just become really irritating this season, given her moping and anger at work. Vincent Kartheiser's Peter Campbell is on the other side of the country now, in California, and while the now-divorced ad man has a bit of an arc, centering more on Sterling would be a better idea. Let's just hope that Sterling's not the falling man in the opening credits... Follow @Hollywood_com // Follow @literateartist //
  • 'Nightmare on Elm Street' Would Have Been a Better TV Show Than 'Friday the 13th'
    By: Michael Griffin May 06, 2014
    Everett Collection It was recently announced that Jason Vorhees, the hockey-mask-wearing killer would be rising out of the waters of Crystal Lake again — this time for a Friday the 13th television show that would be a re-imagining of his story. And while horror on TV is back, what with the success of  the American Horror Story series, we're not quite sure that Jason is the right choice for a series. In fact, his big screen rival Freddy Krueger, of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, would have been a far better choice to reboot. Krueger would be an infinitely more interesting character to watch on TV. He's got moxie, wit, and (if you look past his molten skin) charm. He's very expressive, wry, and cunning. Vorhees, on the other hand, is dull and plodding. The only reason he seems to catch people is because they all inscrutably develop two left feet when they are running away from him. His only form of expression seems to be ripping people's limbs off... though we guess his method of execution can be... creative. What it really boils down to is that the surrounding cast would have to carry the show, performance-wise, with Friday the 13th. There's only so much audience attention that someone who walks around wearing a hockey mask and doesn't speak can garner. On the other hand, Krueger would have been riveting to watch. He could have narrated, done asides to the viewers, and of course speak a lot of witty dialogue to the people he is about to kill. There is the possibility that this new vision of Jason might be completely different than what has been shown before, but that also wouldn't feel like the movies that drew the audience that would be interested in watching this at all. This may turn out to be a nightmare of a decision for the producers of this show. Follow @Hollywood_com // Follow @literateartist //
  • Will Marvel's Killing Off Wolverine Hurt the Movies and Comics?
    By: Michael Griffin May 05, 2014
    20th Century Fox Film Ever since he burst onto the scene, Wolverine has been one of the most popular and enduring characters in Marvel Comics history. He's become so popular that the people running the show over at Stan Lee's home base have welcomed the character into many different titles. His prevlance has reached the point where readers joke that the only way for him to be in so many places at the same time is for him to be an alien. It looks like that run is over, though. The powers that be are publishing a four-part series called "The Death of Wolverine," and it sounds like it's going to be pretty darn final. Then again, Marvel seems to treat death like a a minor malady. They use talk of killings to drive comic sales, only to bring characters back to life within a year. Remember when they killed Wolverine's X-Men teammate Colossus? Captain America? Chances are good here that some fingers were crossed behind backs when this title was announced. Why has Wolverine been so popular? Well, in short, he's a killing machine who has a mutant healing power and is also armed with a wisecracking sense of humor. He's basically a guy that very few people want to mess with. His character is a cathartic outlet for the rage and frustrations of many a reader. There's a reason that he and the Hulk are two of the most beloved characters in the Marvel Universe. So now, especially with an X-Men movie coming out, is it wise to have him killed? There's also talk of another actor stepping in for Hugh Jackman to play Wolverine in the movies soon, since he is supposedly tired of the role. Sure, it's been a long run for Wolverine in the comics, what with him living for centuries and surviving some truly ridiculous things (like the Hulk ripping him in half), but all things do come to an end. Still, when people identify with a character, it's hard for them to see anything happen, even if it's in a universe where characters die more often than Kenny on South Park. The hardcore Wolverine fans are the ones Marvel should be worried about losing. Others? They may just merely shrug and continue seeing the movies and reading the comics, hoping that Wolverine will be back among the land of the living sooner than later, stogie wedged firmly in mouth. Others still may see it as a shock event designed to drive comic sales and stop reading or attending those movies for a while. The hardcore fans though? That's a big risk and subsection of the fandom to possibly lose. When it comes to creative endeavors, there's never going to be a way to please everyone. This, however, may be way too big a risk to take. We shall see what the end result is, though. Stay tuned. Follow @Hollywood_com // Follow @literateartist //
  • Was 6 Episodes Enough for This Season of 'Suits'?
    By: Michael Griffin Apr 17, 2014
    USA This past season of Suits seems to have joined in on cable TV's trend of catering to the dwindling attention spans of viewers. At only six episodes long, it was one of the shortest TV seasons out there (though certainly not the shortest — the BBC runs three-episode seasons of Sherlock). But even though this method is becoming common practice, is it effective? The hope is that short sesasons will provide tighter, more cohesive storylines — an absence of meandering fluff (something prevalent in network TV, thanks to seasons of 20 episodes or more). It's what's keeping the audience riveted, and it's also what's making binge-watching on services like Netflix, Amazon Streaming, or Hulu even more appetizing. Late to a series? You can burn through a season a day or two. The question is, though, was six episodes too short, or did it hit the Goldilocks measurement of just right? To this viewer, this past season of Suits seemed more rushed, like they took conflict that could have been stretched out over the course of several episodes and crammed it all into an hour. Rick Hoffman' Louis Litt had a heart attack, proposed to his girlfriend and lost her all in the span of one single hour. Patrick J. Adams' Mike Ross waffled back and forth about leaving the firm for what seemed like too short a time. This season wasn't given space to breathe — a six-episode cap warranted longer individual broadcasts, in earnest. FX adds time to its episodes all the time (for example, Sons of Anarchy) and it has proven a more effective way to tell stories. The cost? Missing out on a rerun of Law & Order: SVU once a week. Not too big a price to pay, Another big trend is the splitting of seasons into two parts. Breaking Bad's two eight-episode semi-seasons made the final run of the show feel stifled. The time between the setup for Walter White to put all his chess pieces in place and his vindication felt too rushed — an extra episode or two in the home stretch might have helped. As a result of the format, the series finale seemed to fly by to quickly, with the last 15 minutes cramming in what needed another hour at least. Obviously, there's no one-size-fit-all for a season's length. Some want to have entire real seasons (winter, spring, summer) go by as they watch their shows while others may want to have the show wrapped up as quickly as possible so they can move onto the next thing. I tend to find that the sweet spot is at least 12 to 13 episodes. Just long enough to really be able to have some meat in the plot but not so long that they have a ton of fillers that move the main plot along at a glacier's pace (Supernatural, I'm looking at you). I just think that this season of Suits felt as though its jacket sleeves ended at the elbows its pant legs ended at the knees. Do a better job of tailoring next time. Follow @Hollywood_com // Follow @literateartist //
  • Is ABC Axing Its Shows Too Quickly?
    By: Michael Griffin Apr 16, 2014
    ABC Now that The Neighbors has finished its second season run, fans are all a bit nervous about its propensity to return to ABC in the fall. The problem is that the show is on a network that is not known for being patient in terms of letting shows, particularly sitcoms, get past its growing pains. The list of ABC comedies cut down before their due runs pretty long: Better Off Ted, Don't Trust the B in Apt. 23, Man Up!, Mr. Sunshine, and Happy Endings. While there are dramas that met the early axe, it seems like sitcoms have a much harder time sticking on the network. The main reason that ABC gives for getting rid of these shows is low ratings. That may be true, but they also seem to never take into account the fact that the landscape has shifted since the original three-network format. As such, other programs that proved to be formidable hits in their day might not even get the chance to blossom under this new regime. Would ABC have even let Family Matters reach the Steve Urkel stage with its present mentality? To be fair, the other networks have been sometimes hasty on the trigger as well. Poor Matthew Perry was on an NBC show that didn't fare well either. CBS pulled a Cop Rock move on How to Be a Gentleman, sending it to the showers after only two episodes. But it just seems that the suits at ABC are the most impatient out of all of them. The final answer to the question about why these sitcoms seem to be so short-lived: as someone once said, "Dying's easy. Comedy's hard!" It's such a broad spectrum and people have a wide range of senses of humor. What might send one person into fits of near-paralytic bouts of laughter might only elicit a chuckle from another. It's hard to cater to everyone, and it may explain why smartly-written shows like The Neighbors are living on borrowed time whereas Two Broke Girls keeps getting renewed. So, soon we will find out what happens with The Neighbors. Hopefully this will not be its swan song and that ABC can let it flourish and grow more while showing itself to be a more patient entity. Otherwise, it may find itself continuing a bad trend of cultivating fans who are afraid to follow a show lest it get prematurely canceled. That's no fun for anyone. Follow @Hollywood_com // Follow @literateartist //
  • The Final Season of 'Justified' Must Get Back to the 'Core 3'
    By: Michael Griffin Apr 14, 2014
    FX The final scene of the fifth season of Justified ended as it began: at night, with a Crowder on the Harlan County bridge that has played home to so many illicit activities. This time, it was Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter), and she was there for an task that surely ate at her soul — being a CI for Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant). It was Givens who was able to pull her out of her predicament at the penitentiary and he wanted her to show her gratitude by gathering information to help the Marshal's Office put away Boyd for at least the next 50 years. With that sequence of events, the show left us no room for error for what will transpire in the final season. Boyd, who has already had a number of bad guys out gunning for him, is going to be feeling the squeeze of the law. And that group will be led by Givens, who used to work in the mines with Boyd a lifetime ago, before the two went on very, very divergent paths. This would likely put an end to the occasional alliance that exists between the two and will probably have Boyd reconsidering his decision in the second season to save Raylan from being whacked open like a pinata by Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies). If they are smart (and Graham Yost and his crew have proven themselves to be near Mensa-level geniuses at crafting some of the most compelling television out there), the showrunners will spend the final season of Justified back in the hands of the Core 3: Givens, Ava and Boyd — the meat of the show from its early days. There have overarching villains in nearly every season of Justified but the first. The only villain needed for this final go-'round is Boyd. That way, the focus can be on those central characters, relegating some other favorites to satellite roles (like Rachel Brooks and Tim Gutterson), the likes of Wynn Duffy and Katherine Hale to occasional components of the story, and the newly retired Art Mullen to a cameo appearance or two.  We might even go so far as to predict (or hope) that the final scene of the show somehow emulates the last moments of the pilot, with Raylan shooting Boyd, but this time, with no reprieve. (For those who don't know, Boyd was supposed to die in that pilot, like he did in the short story "Fire In The Hole." However, Walton Goggins blew everyone away with his performance and was granted a starring part.) However the series ends, it needs to come right down to the relationship that made the program so compelling in the first place. This is a show about Raylan and his toxic roots, and nobody better exemplifies those roots than Boyd. Follow @Hollywood_com // Follow @literateartist //
  • Dear Fox, Please Don't Cancel 'Almost Human'
    By: Michael Griffin Apr 09, 2014
    FOX At the end of Almost Human, the characters on the show met in front of a review board to face the decision of whether or not android Dorian (Michael Ealy) could continue to work as a cop. It was a sidewise smirk at the fact that the Fox series was facing possible cancelation. The show remains on the bubble; the more time that passes, the more bleak the outcome looks. Fox does not have a terribly good record in terms of letting science fiction themed shows breathe and grow for long. Firefly and Terra Nova, anyone? The thing that will be really aggravating is that if they cancel this in the face of renewing the nihilistic garbage that is The Following. Almost Human is a show that has a heart. Karl Urban and Ealy have an easy cameraderie and there are a lot of unanswered questions that I would love to learn the answers to: What does the other side of The Wall look like? What does John Larroquette's mad scientist have up his sleeve? Will Urban's John Kennex actually make a move at some point with Minka Kelly's Valerie Stahl? Will Michael Irby's Richard Paul ever be a good human being? I know that part of the decision may be financial. In this day and age, it's cheaper to film shows about psychopaths who stab people over and over and over rather than having to have to build futuristic sets. That doesn't make the possibility of the show not coming back any easier to stomach. The only consolation that I may have is that the network let it run its episodes and not axing it in the middle or even earlier, like some other networks. There may come a time when science fiction becomes a staple: the CW is trying with The 100 right now, but people seem to prefer the fantastical, like Supernatural, or comic books, like Arrow. Until then, I'll keep hoping and waiting. And also praying that Urban and Ealy don't wind up with roles on The Following in Season 3. Follow @Hollywood_com // Follow @literateartist //