TV Worth Blogging
by David Thiel, Program Director for WILL-TV
An insider's view of public television programming and the issues that help determine what and how you watch
Producer Alan J.W. Bell hopes that you haven't seen the last of the British comedy classic.
Could Last of the Summer Wine make a comeback? This British comedy favorite (which airs weeknights at 10:00 pm on WILL-TV) ran for a record-breaking 37 years before its 2010 cancellation. And if producer Alan J.W. Bell can convince fans around the world to chip in, there may be more misadventures to come.
Moone Boy comes to WILL-TV in November.
While our annual Great Britcom Vote gives WILL-TV viewers the chance to select a favorite British comedy for our schedule, it also allows me to test-drive some new shows. The winner of our last Vote was old standard The Vicar of Dibley (returning this January), but I was charmed by a relative newcomer, the coming-of-age misadventures of Moone Boy.
Here's some of what's coming to PBS in the fall and beyond.
Earlier this month I attended the PBS Annual Meeting in San Francisco. In previous years, I’ve come back with all manner of news about upcoming series, but due to inclement weather at O’Hare Airport, I wound up missing much of the first day of the conference.
Happily, I can share with you some updates about new dramas, some surprising performances, a very odd kids’ show, and—just possibly—the return of Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis! Read on!
Sharing memories on the occasion of my silver anniversary at WILL.
It was 25 years ago today (April 21) that I joined the WILL team. So much has changed since then...for me, for WILL, for the broadcast industry. It's my anniversary, and since there's unlikely to be cake, please indulge me in a look back!
Inaccurate attribution creates false perceptions about public TV.
Previously I wrote about how people misuse “PBS” and “public television” as interchangeable terms. Most of the time it’s a form of shorthand, or perhaps a misunderstanding of the crazy quilt of stations, producers and distributors that make up the U.S. public television industry. Sometimes, I suspect, it’s done on purpose by those with an agenda to pursue.
FOX enters a Cosmos we explored...34 years ago.
Last night, the FOX network aired the first installment of its much-ballyhooed remake of Cosmos, the PBS science miniseries co-written and presented by astrophysicist Carl Sagan. It received decent audience numbers, averaging 5.79 million viewers according to Nielsen’s overnight measurements and coming in third among the broadcast networks. It was simulcast across nine other Fox-owned channels, so the final viewership should be higher, especially once DVR watching is factored in. (Updated: Hollywood Reporter wrote that the overnight ratings across all 10 channels came to 8.5 million, which they term "a modest haul, given the scope of the launch." Still, that should increase further over the week given repeat airings and DVR usage.)
So, good for science. Good for FOX. My question for the latter is this: what will you do next?
What we often call "PBS" is actually a variety of programming sources.
Among my (many) pet peeves: journalists who can’t tell the difference between “PBS” and “public television.” Every once in a while, I read a news article that cites “PBS officials” when talking about people who in no way work for the Public Broadcasting Service. I get that the U.S. public broadcast industry is complex, and that PBS is its most well-known brand, but it’s the job of reporters to clarify, not to further confuse. So, allow me to give it a whirl.
Unlike Disney, Comcast or Fox, the U.S. public television system isn’t a megalithic media conglomerate. It’s not even a network. It’s a loose collective of noncommercial, educational licensees operating more than 350 stations. And while the familiar “P-head” PBS logo is for many the face of that system, PBS is only part of the picture.
New PBS shows include comedy, kids and Ken Burns.
There truly has been a lot of excitement surrounding PBS programs these past few weeks. Not only was the January 5 season premiere of Downton Abbey the highest-rated drama premiere in PBS’ history, the the 10.2 million viewers initially reported swelled to 15.5 million once DVR watching was factored in!
That buzz carried over to this month’s PBS Winter Press Tour, at which President Paula Kerger introduced both returning favorites and new shows. Read on for news about Last Tango in Halifax and more!
Why did we put this Britcom classic on hiatus?
It's difficult to correctly anticipate the reaction I'll receive to a change in our regular program lineup. Sometimes a single night's pre-emption is enough to spur an audience member to call and demand the return of their favorite show. Sometimes weeks--or, in extreme cases, months--go by before I hear from anyone.
In the case of the British comedy Keeping Up Appearances, three Saturdays off the air was what it took. I've received perhaps a dozen calls and e-mails about it.
So, why did we send Hyacinth Bucket off on holiday?
A spoiler-lite review of the season premiere of Sherlock.
Good detectives won’t stay dead. That’s what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle learned when he killed off his most famous literary creation, Sherlock Holmes, in his short story "The Final Problem." Fans demanded Holmes’ resurrection from the waters of Reichenbach Falls, but it was ten years before Doyle provided him an escape hatch in “The Adventure of the Empty House.”
Happily, fans of the modern Sherlock TV series haven’t had to wait nearly as long. Despite series star Benedict Cumberbatch being contractually obliged to appear in every movie released in 2013, it took only two years for new adventures of our favorite bromantic investigators, Holmes and Watson.
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