Spring 'Mini-Season' Means More TV Options Springtime means renewal — and these days, new TV shows sprout when the daffodils do. Monkey See blogger Linda Holmes joins host Linda Wertheimer for a chat about the good, the bad and the ugly among the season's new shows.
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Spring 'Mini-Season' Means More TV Options

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Spring 'Mini-Season' Means More TV Options

Spring 'Mini-Season' Means More TV Options

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

In TV land, springtime brings sweeps week, that week in May when networks offer up their cliffhanging episodes of popular shows or much ballyhooed TV specials. However, spring is now also the beginning of a second season when everybody launches new shows. Joining us in the studio for some TV talk is Linda Holmes. She writes for NPR's entertainment blog, Monkey See. Welcome.

LINDA HOLMES: Thank you.

WERTHEIMER: Now, back in the olden days, we had new TV schedules in the fall and nothing but reruns and baseball in the summertime.

HOLMES: That's right.

WERTHEIMER: Now, that seems to have changed. What is the biggest thing that is driving the change, do you think?

HOLMES: I think the first big change to that system actually came in 2001, "Survivor" premiered in the summer.

WERTHEIMER: Right.

HOLMES: It was one of the first times they tried a new show that had not been on before. So I think from then on that year-round schedule became a little bit more common. And then you had a bunch of runs of cable shows. HBO shows became popular, the "Sopranos" and so forth. They always ran on much shorter seasons. So networks started to be willing to run shows in shorter seasons.

And when you combine that with things like "Dancing with the Stars" or "American Idol," that by design don't run all the time, the networks wind up having to sort of fill in holes and accommodate a little bit because some of those shows take up enough real estate that you really have to adjust throughout the year.

WERTHEIMER: So what do you think? I mean, where should we look?

HOLMES: I think trying out the premium shows is always smart, 'cause they do tend to be well thought out. And there's a Showtime half hour show that's going to come in the summer called "Nurse Jackie."

(Soundbite of TV show, "Nurse Jackie")

Unidentified Man #1: (As character) Got some John getting off cutting up hookers in the back of a limo. She got the blade away from him. Cut his whole ear off.

Unidentified Woman: (As character) Good girl.

HOLMES: And it has Edie Falco.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HOLMES: Who was, of course, Carmela Soprano.

WERTHEIMER: Right.

HOLMES: There are a couple of shows on Fox that I'm sort of enthusiastic about. One is called "Sit Down Shut Up."

(Soundbite of TV show, "Sit Down Shut Up")

Unidentified Man #2: (As character) I'm a cyclist. That's how I keep my body hard as a nut. I've also been known to eat a few nuts, which I don't mean in any other way than I like nuts.

HOLMES: Which is from Mitch Hurwitz, who made "Arrested Development."

WERTHEIMER: Mm-hmm.

HOLMES: And a bunch of the "Arrested Development" cast is involved. And there's also a show called "Glee," which is actually from the creator of "Nip/Tuck," which is a very dark show on F/X. But this is a musical comedy about a high school Glee club.

Unidentified Man #3: (As character) I'd like to take over glee club. I think I can make it great again.

Unidentified Man #4: (As character) You want to captain the Titanic, too?

WERTHEIMER: Now, here's something about TV that I've been very curious about. I've noticed that a number of newspapers, in the process of cutting pages and staff, have cut out their little TV books.

HOLMES: Mm-hmm.

WERTHEIMER: So that you don't see the weekly schedules in booklet form. What is that going to mean for our lives as TV watchers?

HOLMES: For a lot of people who have cable and especially people who use their digital recorders a lot, you don't have as much call to look at a newspaper guide, because for a lot of folks you can look it up on your cable guide on screen on your TV, if that happens to be the kind of cable box that you have. It still is a loss to a lot of people who still watch TV the way they always have, and in many cases are really regretful when those resources go away.

WERTHEIMER: Linda Holmes writes for NPR's entertainment blog, Monkey See. Thanks so much.

HOLMES: Thank you.

WERTHEIMER: Linda Holmes has whipped up a list of new TV shows for the spring and summer and ranked them, according to their odds of hitting it big. You can check out her list at the Monkey See blog at npr.org.

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