Television
4:26 pm
Tue September 25, 2012

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

Originally published on Tue September 25, 2012 7:39 pm

Transcript

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. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.