Here’s the thing. I know what Lifetime thinks it’s doing: getting “younger” and “sexier” with the addition of fare like The Client List, but really, it’s only making itself even more eminently mockable. I’m all for a channel devoted to programming content for women, but when that content is reinforcing negative stereotypes and rigidly normative (and heteronormative) attitudes about femininity, well, you’re actually not doing anything good for women. Their new project Clarice, based on the character from Silence of the Lambs, sounds like it could be really great, but picking up Unforgettable would be a truly awful move, and a Marc Cherry show does not inspire confidence. (Desperate Housewives, for how transgressive it claimed to be, was actually disappointingly conventional for most of its run.)
UPDATE 2: Now with CBS schedule details, and details on Monday night, which I apparently just ignored before.
UPDATE: Now with ABC trailers!
The Futon Critic has the new fall TV landscape gridded up for you —now only minus the CW—and it features some tantalizing/paralyzing battles for live viewing or DVR space. Among them:
Revenge will indeed square off against The Good Wife in the Sunday 9 p.m. timeslot. This alone is Sophie’s Choice, but when you consider that there will surely be several prestige cable dramas thrown into the mix, this timeslot turns into a bloodbath. Football overrun tends to screw with The Good Wife's start time in the fall, leading to lower viewing numbers, so putting buzzy Revenge here (after bonafide hit Once Upon A Time and leading into new hopeful 666 Park Avenue) seems like an Emily Thorne move from ABC.
On Monday, CBS counters The Voice performance shows on NBC and Dancing with the Stars' just-announced “all-star” season with a two hour block of comedies old and new. Stalwart veteran How I Met Your Mother leads off at 8 p.m., followed by the David Krumholtz (Numb3rs) and Michael Urie (Ugly Betty)-starring Partners at 8:30 p.m. Then breakout hit 2 Broke Girls starts at 9 p.m., followed by Mike & Molly at 9:30 p.m. FOX is countering at the 9 p.m. hour with new drama The Mob Doctor, starring Jordana Spiro (TBS’ My Boys). NBC gives the prime post-Voice slot to the new J.J. Abrams/Eric Kripke drama, Revolution.
On Tuesday, FOX sacrifices/counterprograms Raising Hope and new hopeful Ben and Kate to the Voice vs. DWTS face-off in the 8 p.m. hour, but the real drama will be in the three-network battle for comedy viewers in the 9 p.m. hour. ABC was smart to pair similarly zippy comedies Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B, but both are fairly low rated, and they’re up against some big firepower: FOX has New Girl returning in this timeslot, leading into The Mindy Project, which seems to have been genetically engineered to be paired with its lead-in. Meanwhile, NBC is trying out two freshman comedies with big names attached: Matthew Perry vehicle Go On starts off the hour, and Ryan Murphy’s The New Normal finishes it off. (There’s probably a piece forthcoming on the latter, because there is a LOT going on in that clip.) Finishing off the night, ABC puts Private Practice against Parenthood on NBC, while CBS launches a new show called either Vegas or Vegas Rising with a legitimately awesome cast (Dennis Quaid, Michael Chiklis, Jason O’Mara, Carrie Ann Moss) in this slot. With a cast like that and a script as good as this one apparently is, CBS could have another hit on its hands. (Poor Parenthood!)
FOX hopes a revamped X Factor (Britney!!! Demi?!) will shore up its Wednesdays this fall (and not bite into American Idol's spring ratings, or suffer from overall viewer fatigue on singing competition reality shows). Meanwhile, ABC hopes to keep a good thing going with The Middle, Suburgatory, and Modern Family in the same timeslots, with alien neighborhood-newcomer The Neighbors slotted in after Modern Family. NBC debuts freshman comedies Animal Practice and Guys With Kids in the 8 p.m. hour as well. Then things get interesting: will viewers go for twangy ABC soap Nashville (starring noted “y’all”-er Connie Britton!) or hunky NBC firehouse drama Chicago Fire (starring ex-Vampire Diaries werewolf and ex-Lady Gaga boyfriend Taylor Kinney)? CBS returns all three shows it had here last fall (Survivor at 8, Criminal Minds at 9, CSI: Original Flavor at 10).
Thursdays, a noted bloodbath already, are looking terrifying. ABC leads off with awesome-in-theory Last Resort, about a nuclear submarine whose crew decides to go rogue (from The Chicago Code's Shawn Ryan) at 8 p.m., squaring off against X Factor results and The Vampire Diaries and my DVR is already crying. FOX moved Glee to the post-X Factor results slot, a move that makes almost too much sense, and should be good counterprogramming against Grey’s Anatomy over on ABC and surprise hit Person of Interest on CBS at 9 p.m.. Meanwhile, NBC continues its quest to have the buzziest-but-lowest-rated Thursday night comedy lineup, putting the final, 13-episode season of proven 8 p.m. underperformer 30 Rock up against the likely (and formidable) challenge of The Big Bang Theory over on CBS. Up All Night finishes out the 8 p.m. hour for NBC, now up against inexplicable ratings juggernaut Two and a Half Men over on CBS in this slot, while The Office and Parks and Recreation will both have full 22-episode seasons of opening and closing the 9 p.m. hour. In the 10 p.m. hour, ABC returns freshman Shonda Rhimes drama Scandal, while CBS debuts its Lucy Liu-Jonny Lee Miller Sherlock Holmes adaptation, Elementary. I’m not sure if NBC is really going to give its Rock Center with Brian Williams newsmagazine a marketing push in this new slot, or if they’re just trying to finally kill it, because it does not in any way fit here. Then again, the problem is that it doesn’t really fit anywhere else in their schedule, either.
All four major networks are making a play for Fridays this coming season. Long considered the night where troubled shows are sent to die, the survival of Fringe (which will have a shortened final season this fall) and Grimm here has apparently convinced the networks to try again. FOX has moved underperforming Touch to the Friday 8 p.m. slot, leading into the aforementioned Fringe. They’re hoping to at least remind people to set their DVRs for Touch at the same time they set their DVRs for Fringe. NBC has moved critically drubbed Whitney and critically beloved Community to the 8 p.m. slot, surely making this the scheduling odd couple of the season. Those comedies are ahead of surprisingly steady Grimm at 9 p.m. ABC, for their part, looks to be laying the groundwork for the return of a family-friendly comedy lineup on Friday nights, a la the TGIF glory days, with Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing moving to 8 p.m. and new Reba McEntire vehicle Malibu Country showing up at 8:30 p.m. this November. CBS has decided to move one of its venerable franchises, CSI: NY, to the 8 p.m. hour, leading into new comedic drama Made in Jersey at 9 p.m. and the respectable Blue Bloods at 10 p.m. CBS’ lineup probably has the strongest chance of succeeding here, since Blue Bloods has long done good business in the 10 p.m. hour here, and while a bit relentlessly dark for the 8 p.m. hour, CSI:NY could offer great counterprogramming for people who want nothing to do with ABC’s comedy block.
compare & contrast: new singles from the former and current "hot girl" judges on 'X Factor UK'
Cheryl Cole, “Call My Name” - from the forthcoming album A Million Lights
Cheryl Cole should have been a name in the U.S. by now, if everything went her way: she was hired as a judge on the U.S. version of ‘X Factor’ after being the real breakout success of her tenure on ‘X Factor UK,’ which endeared her to people as an entity separate from Girls Aloud, the UK’s once and future reigning girlband. But then things fell apart: for reasons still unclear, Cheryl was booted from ‘X Factor US’ after a few days of filming auditions, replaced by Nicole Scherzinger. She tried to return to ‘X Factor UK,’ but it had already hired a brand-new judging panel, including Kelly Rowland and Tulisa (whose new single, her first record as a solo artist following her hiatus from N-Dubz, will be contrasted with Cheryl’s below.) Now, Cheryl’s back and hoping to actually make a name for herself on our shores, this time with music.
Let’s get it out of the way: the Marquis de Sade quote at the beginning of this video, accompanied by the weirdly (but oddly compellingly) remixed opening bars of the song, is a certifiably ridiculous opening. I’m not sure even Cheryl really understands what that quote has to do with the video or the song, but enough about a quote.
This is a competently constructed Calvin Harris song, doing its Calvin Harris thing. Cheryl and her label were smart to hire him in hopes that he’d create for her the next “We Found Love” — a song so massive that Harris can basically coast on its merits for the rest of his career if he wanted to. It’s showing in most of the other Harris-assisted songs on the radio right now, but in this song he comes closer to achieving the full-throttle brilliance of “We Found Love,” and even if he doesn’t quite get there, I hope this will be even a sleeper hit for Cheryl. It’s really a good track, one that gets catchier the more you listen. The trickling bit from the chorus into the verses is beguiling, and the verses go a bit darker than I initially expected, which pairs nicely with Cheryl’s reedy lower register. Even the bridge works well, building with ever-hastening drumbeats into the chorus. But the chorus feels like the emptiest part of the song, and I can’t tell if it’s the fault of Harris’ production or if Cheryl’s voice just isn’t powerful enough to fill all the space above the synths.
I don’t really know where to begin with the video itself, which really seems more like an aerobic workout video than a music video proper thanks to the lengthy bits with Cheryl in a neon sports bra and harem pants dancing with those street racers by the L.A. river. The strongest part of the video is the one we get the briefest glimpse of: Cheryl, hair slicked back and face made up beautifully, staring at us through a mirror, giving us 80s sex kitten realness. The blues and purples make perfect sense for the song as I hear it in my head. I get where she was going with the second-strongest look of the video, the jungle-print blazer with leopard panties and neon heels look in the tunnel, also because it’s strongly 80s, but a very different version of the 80s — the sweat-soaked Miami Vice version. I’m not even going to the pretend the cutout catsuit-sportscar bit makes any more sense than the workout video bit, but she looks good there, too.
Overall, I think this is a smart play for Cheryl Cole and her label. The song is definitely light enough and catchy enough to get summer airplay, and its Calvin Harris pedigree should help get it that airplay. A few spins and people should be engaged. Even if I’m pulling for former Cheryl protege Cher Lloyd to be the sleeper Song of the Summer candidate with “Want U Back,” this song could be a springboard for a solid Cheryl Cole push into the American market.
Now, contrast Cheryl’s single with the first release from Tulisa, who basically replaced her on ‘X Factor UK’: “Young”.
Where to begin?
Let’s start here: this song is so clearly not a Calvin Harris song, but it’s so clearly trying to be a Calvin Harris song that the strain has carried over to Tulisa’s voice as she belts out the inane chorus. That post-chorus breakdown apes “We Found Love” so hard that Rihanna should probably file a restraining order. The rest of the song is fine, and the dancey synths that play while Tulisa’s “young!” echoes softly throughout plays nicely. But everything else is just so overdone. Tulisa’s voice is a good one, but she has a tendency to not know how to use it to its fullest advantage. Translation: she often doesn’t know how to pull it back from the edge of shoutiness. Here, she is blaring every single line of the song, and it comes off as dumb, loud, and desperate, adding to the lyrics a sense that Tulisa is straining to be relevant on the pop charts with this song. It’s not a reading that she should be encouraging, really. I think that she can transcend the silliness of N-Dubz’s usual fare and deliver a competent pop record, but this one, desperately grasping at a zeitgeisty sound it can’t quite match, isn’t it.
Speaking of desperate: count the number of times Tulisa wears something that signifies youth or childishness in the video. Go ahead; I’ll wait around for you. The answer is: a whole hell of a lot! It’s too much. Just like the whole song.
The clear winner of this Cheryl vs. Tulisa comparison is Cheryl, not least because she was able to get the actual Calvin Harris instead of wannabe-Calvin Harris.
All her metanarrative pretensions, no matter how intriguing, were too much weight for one show to carry on its shoulders the whole time. Even if new showrunner Josh Safran, late of Gossip Girl, simplifies the show into something I don’t necessarily care to see (read: a soap opera about theatre people), it will probably be an improvement over what the show did this season under Rebeck.