Why You Shouldn't Watch The Best New Show On TV

Andrew Wallenstein, a TV editor for Variety, has seen pilots for all of the new TV shows starting this fall. His favorite is Last Resort, although he doesn't think it will stay on TV for long.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block. It's that time again when the big broadcast TV networks role out their new fall shows. Brave soul Andrew Wallenstein has seen every one of these so-called pilots and his favorite debuts this Thursday.

ANDREW WALLENSTEIN, BYLINE: There may be no better single hour among the new shows than the ABC series, "Last Resort." It's a gripping tale of a nuclear sub gone rogue.

(SOUNDBITE OF TELEVISION SHOW, "LAST RESORT")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Lower seven minutes. I'm closing.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: All crew accounted for except two, which are Brannan and Cortez.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Find them. Prepare to dive.

ANDRE BRAUGHER: (As Captain Marcus Chaplin) Belay that. We're not leaving crew behind.

WALLENSTEIN: And here's my advice: don't watch "Last Resort." And while you're at it, don't watch another pilot I enjoyed, NBC's "Revolution." This show has a juicy mystery in its premise: what would happen if society lost all electricity?

(SOUNDBITE OF TELEVISION SHOW, "REVOLUTION")

TIM GUINEE: (As Ben) It's going to turn off and it will never, ever turn back on.

BILLY BURKE: (As Miles) What's going to turn off?

GUINEE: (As Ben) Everything. Everything is going to turn off.

WALLENSTEIN: The problem with these shows is they fit the same mold of a string of shows going back years that suck you in only to end up getting cancelled prematurely. You've no doubt seen this type of show - ordinary citizens have their world turned upside down by cataclysmic, sometimes supernatural events. Mystery unfolds wrapped in layer upon layer of mesmerizing mythology.

(SOUNDBITE OF TELEVISION SHOW, "REVOLUTION")

ELIZABETH MITCHELL: (As Rachel) It's happening, isn't it?

WALLENSTEIN: "Last Resort" follows in that tradition as does "Revolution." And don't be fooled by the healthy ratings that show's gotten so far because these kind of programs nearly always start strong, but then the audience dwindles every passing week. And therein lies the problem with serialized storylines that aren't wrapped up at the end of every episode. If a viewer wasn't there from the beginning of the show, he can't just jump in midseason and understand what's going on. So why do the networks even bother with shows like "Revolution" or "Last Resort"? I've got one word for you - "Lost."

(SOUNDBITE OF TELEVISION SHOW, "LOST")

ALAN DALE: (As Charles Widmore) You might find this difficult to understand, Benjamin. Every decision I've made has been about protecting this island.

MICHAEL EMERSON: (As Ben Linus) Is killing this baby what Jacob wants?

WALLENSTEIN: When "Lost" was created, they must have broken the proverbial mold, because no one has successfully been able to copy it. Just ask "The Event," or "Flash Forward," or "Threshold," "Daybreak," "Jericho," "V." So why do the networks even bother trying these shows given the failure rate? Well, that's because in success, a show like "Lost" is a beautiful thing because it drives not just ratings, but also a coveted industry buzzword - engagement. Fans don't just watch these shows, they obsess over them.

(SOUNDBITE OF TELEVISION SHOW, "LOST")

NAVEEN ANDREWS: (As Sayid Jarrah) Look, I don't even know what these papers mean.

WALLENSTEIN: ABC is willing to take a risk on a show like "Last Resort" because advertisers are willing to pay a premium to reach hyperactive super-fans. And as much as I'd like to be one of those for "Last Resort," I've been burned too many times before. Sorry, but I can't fall in love if you're just going to end up leaving me.

BLOCK: Andrew Wallenstein is TV editor for Variety.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: