The week the lights went out in Jersey

Senior Television Writer
11.01.12 30 Comments


How’s everybody doing? We came through the storm just fine (we were much luckier than many of our neighbors, whose houses were struck by falling trees), but like most everyone in New Jersey, our house has been blacked out for days. I’ve found at least a temporary place to work that has electricity and internet, but it’s been a strange few days, both inside and outside the storm’s path.

The blackout hasn’t exactly been like on “Revolution.” Sandy didn’t rewrite the laws of physics, which means anything gas- or battery-powered still works. But there’s a definite information shortage inside the area, even if you have a charged smartphone, because the cell networks also took a beating. For much of the time, my only access to info was via texting and whatever the one news radio station we could pick up was broadcasting.

And the storm also led to a lot of rescheduling. At the last minute, for instance, CBS replaced its Monday shows with repeats(*), NBC randomly inserted a new “30 Rock” last night in place of what was supposed to be the final “Animal Practice,” and “The Voice” will be running tonight in place of the usual sitcom lineup.(**) NBC is also going to air a telethon tomorrow night at 8 across most of the NBC/Universal/Comcast channels, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see other networks join in on the act like they did after 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, etc.

(*) I wonder how this will affect DVRs when the episodes air this coming Monday. Last season, NBC mistakenly gave the same listing to two different “30 Rock” episodes, and when the second one aired, most DVRs didn’t record it because they interpreted it as a repeat. I’ve asked CBS if they have a specific plan to avoid this.

(**) And, of course, one of the three advance reviews I had time to write before Sandy knocked out our power was for what was supposed to be this week’s “Parks and Recreation.” Oh, well. One less thing to do next week. (And it’s a good episode.)

Among the TV stories I missed while I was out:

* NBC announced a mid-season schedule that finally includes a “Community” premiere date in February (and, despite every attempt to move the show elsewhere, it’ll once again be on Thursdays at 8), the return of “Smash” to Tuesdays (along with the inevitable wave of “Smash: The Smash Williams Story” jokes) and an odd mid-season hiatus for the fall’s biggest new hit, “Revolution.” As Dan noted in the comments to his story on the schedule, both “The Event” and “FlashForward” had these big hiatuses, but those were two shows that had to do some creative retooling and were already starting to slide in the ratings, whereas “Revolution” has been doing just fine in the Nielsens and isn’t undergoing any kind of behind-the-scenes shifts. (I’m a few episodes behind, so I can’t speak to recent creative quality.) This becomes one of those issues the broadcast networks wrestle with with serialized dramas, where it can be more trouble than it’s worth to air in the usual pattern, with repeats mixed in with original episodes. Ultimately, though, the “24” solution (wait until January and air ’em all) seems to be the only one that makes sense. Assuming the show’s ratings aren’t crippled by the long break and it returns for a second season, will NBC try that next year?

* There were several shows not on NBC’s mid-season schedule that will get timeslots later, like Anne Heche’s “Save Me,” and one show that’s not going forward at all: NBC passed on “The Office” spin-off about Dwight. Given that this was a show no one but people who would have been employed by it seemed to be looking forward to – and not just because Mose wouldn’t have been a regular character – this seems a wise course of action.

* ABC gave full-season orders to both “The Neighbors” and “Scandal.”

* FX finally closed the deal for a third season of “Wilfred,” and showrunner David Zuckerman will voluntarily step down from that job (but stay with the show). Given that his successors are being promoted from within, I doubt you’ll see much tonal change to the show, but we’ll see.

* Oh, and this isn’t a TV story – at least not yet – but Disney bought LucasFilm and will start making new “Star Wars” movies. Craziness.

So I’m online for a while now. Goal for this morning is to watch some of last night’s sitcoms for a write-up and go from there. It’s good to be back. For those of you were in the storm’s path, I hope you’re doing okay right now.

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