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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 Year In Review - Television

2016 in the world of television was very much hit and miss.  You had some moments in television that were absolutely incredible, and then you had some moments which probably should have been deleted from the DVR.

But one thing you can't deny.  There certainly is a lot to talk about regarding television in 2016.  So, let's get right to it.

As I recall, I started the 2015 entry with television shows that were pulled off the air.  And this year, I thought that I would do the same this time around.  In 2016, we said goodbye to the following television shows...

Austin & Ally (January 10)
Unforgettable (January 22)
Undateable (January 29)
Galavant (January 31)
Gravity Falls (February 15)
Telenovela (February 22)
The Muppets (March 1)
Agent Carter (March 1)
The Mysteries of Laura (March 2)
MythBusters (March 6)
CSI: Cyber (March 13)
American Idol (April 7)
Togetherness (April 10)
Childrens Hospital (April 15)
Vinyl (April 17)
Limitless (April 26)
The Good Wife (May 8)
Grandfathered (May 10)
The Grinder (May 10)
Castle (May 16)
Mike & Molly (May 16)
The Meredith Vieira Show (May 20)
Game of Silence (June 5)
Penny Dreadful (June 19)
Person of Interest (June 21)
Cooper Barrett's Guide to Surviving Life (June 26)
Houdini & Doyle (July 4)
Royal Pains (July 6)
Angel from Hell (July 23)
Hell on Wheels (July 23)
Devious Maids (August 6)
The Jim Gaffigan Show (August 21)
Murder in the First (September 4)
Rizzoli & Isles (September 5)
Mistresses (September 6)
American Gothic (September 7)
BrainDead (September 11)
Beauty & The Beast (September 15)
Nancy Grace (October 13)
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (November 6)
Masters of Sex (November 13)

Wow...quite a list of shows, huh?

Now in some cases, these shows were limited run summer filler shows.  Case in point, the murder mystery "American Gothic" and the political satire show "BrainDead", both airing on CBS.  But there are a lot of one-season wonders on this list - many of them from NBC - a network that hasn't quite recovered from the loss of "ER" and "Friends".

The cancellation of "CSI: Cyber" effectively puts the final nail in the coffin of the once lucrative CSI franchise, and it's amazing how many shows ended after a significant run on television.  "The Good Wife", "Mike & Molly", "MythBusters", and "Rizzoli & Isles" all ran for at least five seasons!

I'm sure that Jim Gaffigan's show could have run a little longer than two seasons, but it was his choice to walk away so that he could spend more time with his kids.  I respect him for that.

And "American Idol" ended its run by crowning its final American Idol in Trent Harmon.  But don't cry for host Ryan Seacrest.  He still has at least twelve other jobs he can fall back on.

Okay, so we've mourned some of the shows that have been cancelled.  Now let's celebrate the shows that made their debut in 2016!

At first people were worried that when Michael Weatherly left NCIS, the show would tank.  But Wilmer Valderaama and Jennifer Esposito have breathed new life into the fourteen year old show, and I'm sure that as long as Mark Harmon stays alive (seriously 2016, stop killing off the rich and the famous), the show will continue to entertain.  Besides, Weatherly's new show "Bull" is also a hit on CBS, and has already been renewed for a second season. 

"Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" debuted on TBS in February 2016, and has recently been renewed for a second year.  The former Daily Show correspondent has certainly made her show her own, and I wish her the best of luck.  Chelsea Handler, meanwhile, has taken to Netflix for the newest chapter of her career.  Her talk show entitled "Chelsea" debuted on May 11.

Kevin James and Matt LeBlanc have also proven that sitcom luck can strike twice with their respective new comedies, "Kevin Can Wait" and "Man With a Plan".  I can't say that I'm all that fond of Kevin's new show, but Matt LeBlanc's new project is fairly good.  The jury is still out on Joel McHale's "The Great Outdoors", but I do appreciate the idea of a sitcom poking fun at the millennial generation.

Speaking of which, Survivor's latest season put a tribe of Millennials against a tribe of Gen X'ers to see if stereotypes rang true.  Sadly in most cases, they did.  But highlights of the season include David Wright going from weak writer to strong contender, Michaela Bradshaw being a physical powerhouse, a bonding moment between Zeke Smith and Bret LaBelle, and eventual winner Adam Klein won with all jurors voting for him as the sole survivor.

I think most everyone who enjoys "The Walking Dead" were thinking two things.  One, how brutally Glenn died...and two, how much they despise Negan.  But one thing you can't deny about Jeffrey Dean Morgan who plays Negan - he looks like he's having a lot of fun playing him!

Everything old became new again on ABC - well, at least when it came down to game shows.  ABC revived "The $100,000 Pyramid", "To Tell The Truth", and "Match Game" during the summer months, and they seemed to do very well.  Personally speaking, I thought the Match Game revival with Alec Baldwin was the best of the lot, and I certainly hope it comes back next year.

And ABC wasn't the only network that brought back old shows.  Netflix saw a surge in popularity when they brought on the shows "Fuller House" and "Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life".  Both shows were continuations of the shows that originally aired on network television, and both did extremely well.  In the case of "Fuller House", two seasons debuted (one in February, the other in December), and it was recently announced that a third season was going into production!  Oh, Mylanta!

Sadly, Netflix's success spelled doom for the Canadian streaming network Shomi.  Shomi pulled the plug on their two year company in November 2016.  But Crave TV still remains popular with Canadians, largely due to its original programming such as "Letterkenny", as well as having a library of titles that no other streaming service has.

In the world of daytime soap operas, "The Young and the Restless" had a unique milestone take place in September 2016.  They aired their 11,000th episode of the show.  And it was quite a memorable one as the show killed off the complex character of Adam Newman played by Justin Hartley.  

But Justin Hartley has found success after Y&R.  He joined the cast of the new NBC show "This Is Us", which is getting rave reviews.  Perhaps this show could be the new cornerstone of rebuilding the damaged network.  Time will tell.

And since I bring up Y&R, I should also congratulate CBS daytime as a whole.  This year marks the network's 30th consecutive year at #1 during the daytime hours.  To celebrate the milestone, the ladies of "The Talk" brought on cast members from "The Young and the Restless", "The Bold and the Beautiful", "Guiding Light", and "As The World Turns".  Though part of me wonders how awkward it was for the "As The World Turns" cast, given that "The Talk" took over their old time slot in 2010...

"Criminal Minds" suffered a couple of shake-ups to its original cast this year.  Shemar Moore departed from the series in March 2016 - which was his own choice.  Thomas Gibson left the show at the beginning of Season 12 - but unlike Moore, his departure was not his choice.  I guess assaulting a writer on the set would leave the network with no choice but to fire him.  The good news is that Aisha Tyler and Adam Rodriguez have joined the show and are suitable replacements...but no telling on whether that's enough to keep the show on for a thirteenth year.

And speaking of shake-ups, would you believe that people were left wondering if someone could tell them how to find "Sesame Street"?  The long-running PBS mainstay headed over to HBO after forty-seven years on the air (though original episodes are re-aired on PBS).  Not only that, but we saw the departure of Maria, and almost saw Luis, Bob, and Gordon follow suit as a result of the show's move from PBS to HBO.  As of now, there's really no word on whether those plans went through...but come on!  Bob alone is as much a mainstay on Sesame Street as Big Bird!  At least wait until the series turns fifty and then pull the plug.  It's basically been known as Elmo Street since the 1990s anyway.

Billy Bush did NOT have a good 2016.  After a video surfaced of himself and now president-elect Donald Trump making sexual comments towards soap star Arianna Zucker, he was fired from the Today Show.  My question is...why didn't Trump suffer any punishment?  He was just as vulgar as Bush as far as I am concerned.  As much as I'm probably going to anger some Trump supporters here, why the double standard here?  I just don't get it.

Speaking of high-profile departures, the morning show circuit saw some major changes.  The chemistry between Michael Strahan and Kelly Ripa fizzled after Strahan jumped ship from "Live With Kelly and Michael" to join the panel of "Good Morning America", and all indications point towards tension between Ripa and Strahan.  We'll never know the full story, but either way, both have seemingly moved on.

And you almost needed a scorecard to keep up with the changes on "The View".  Michelle Collins was fired, Candace Cameron Bure and Raven-Symone quit, and Jedediah Bila, Sunny Hostin, and Sara Haines joined the panel.  Though the show format still remains the same - a bunch of angry women complaining about everything and inevitably getting into a fight with either Joy Behar or Whoopi Goldberg.  Even Barbara Walters was sickened at how horrible the show had become - and she created the damn thing!

"The Simpsons" just won't die.  Since their December 17, 1989 debut as a stand-alone series, it continues to be FOX's main draw.  The 600th episode aired in October 2016, and is just a few episodes away from surpassing "Gunsmoke" as the longest running scripted primetime television series.  Here's hoping in 2017, I will be able to make that announcement as truth instead of speculation.

We also got a chance to revisit the O.J. Simpson murder trial with the FX anthology series "The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story", starring Cuba Gooding Jr., David Schwimmer, and John Travolta amongst others.  The show was a surprise success, and many of its actors are nominated for Emmy Awards!

MTV proved that music videos weren't dead yet.  On August 1, 2016 - the 35th anniversary of the original channel's debut, VH1 Classic became MTV Classic, which brought back 1990s and 2000s MTV programming as well as the music videos which haven't aired on the original MTV in what seems like a decade!

And finally, actress Leah Remini spoke out against Scientology and is telling her story about how she got out in a new series on A&E.  Seriously, check it out.  Not just because she's extremely brave, but because she's essentially proven things about Scientology that many of us on the outside already knew.

Man...2016 was a crazy year in TV...and I have a feeling that 2017 will be much of the same.

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