The Week In TV: Oh, How The Mighty [Simpsons] Have Fallen
• Conan O'Brien's exit deal with NBC included a number of stipulations about when he could appear on TV again and when he could resume his late-night hosting duties for another outlet. Well, after a few months away, Coco came back with a vengeance last night on CBS' 60 Minutes, marking the only time people under 50 have ever watched 60 Minutes. The whole video's worth watching, if you've got the time. (CBS, despite their appeal to your grandma, puts clips of its shows online, as if people who watch CSI are really going to stream an ep at lunch or something.) Money quotes for the impatient: Conan says of the recent late-night wars that Jay Leno "went and took that show back," and when asked if he believes Leno acted honorably, replies, "I don't think I can answer that. I can just tell you how maybe I would have handled it. And I would do it differently."
I know that on one level, yes, nobody's crying and everybody got a big payout, but I still think Leno acted like a schmuck through this whole thing and lost what little cred he had left. Plus his ratings for the past three weeks have been exactly on par with Conan's, so it's not like NBC traded up in the numbers. Conan's the one with a new show, new outlook, and a national tour that's been getting great reviews. (I'm seeing him in Austin in a couple weeks.) Here's the interview:
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• In a recent interview with BBC Radio, Steve Carell said that his contract with The Office only runs through next season, the show's seventh, and that that would "probably be [his] last year." Now, it'd probably be great is this were the unvarnished truth: The show's best days are in the past, and it's now mostly a lifeless parody of its old self. But there's a decent chance this is also just Carell fencing with NBC in the press to get more money. The Office is still the best brand name the network has, and it's unlikely they'll let it or Carell go without a fight. What, does he need time to make more movies like Date Night? The series is the best thing that ever happened to him.
• This week's Ricky Gervais news: He's hosting the Golden Globes next year, in January 2011. He was one of the better parts of this year's ceremony, mainly because he clearly didn't care about offending certain people. He's at the point where his comedy and persona are a known and desired quantity, which gives him free reign to mess with stars on TV and still find work. Good for him, you know?
• I know I've talked before about loving Justified, but one of the highlights for me has been the way I watch it as much as the actual show. Thanks to other scheduling conflicts and the kind of general busy-ness that feels important to twentysomethings, I don't always watch the shows I like right away, instead letting the pile up on the DVR, which is what I've been doing with Justified. And I have to tell you, it's been great. The weeks can feel so hectic, as can too many weekends, but every couple weeks, I realize I've got a couple eps of Justified sitting in the queue, so I fire them up and escape for a couple hours with a thoroughly entertaining modern Western. It's the ideal Saturday escape. The show's gotten really good at balancing the ongoing stories with the villains of the week, and the guest roles are always well-cast. (I'm thinking particularly of work by Alan Ruck and Robert Picardo.) So if you're looking to get into the show but don't think you have time, that's the whole point. Save it till you do, then dive into a mini-marathon, then e-mail me your thanks and praise.
• The Paley Center for Media's annual PaleyFest is a great way for the cast and crew of selected TV shows to share their stories, and the panel discussions for shows like The Wire and Lost often wind up as DVD supplements for those series' season sets. But you can also buy some of the DVDs on their own, as is the case with this year's Lost presentation. It's probably only of interest to devoted fans, but still, worth a look. Speaking of Lost: It's back with a new episode this week before finishing forever later in the month. Tune in or forfeit your right to bitch about it at work.
• I'm still, for reasons growing less clear as time passes, trying to slog my way through Glee. I realized today while listening to some of the songs from the first part of the season that it's often difficult to place a song in a given scene, or story line, or episode, which is a major failing as far as musicals go. You hear "Doe, a deer," you see a grinning nun and seven little Germans running through town. Part of a musical's whole being is the way it marries song and story to create a compelling scene. But going through the Glee soundtrack, I can't place all the songs; many of them are bland, interchangeable ballads that pale next to the poppier or more powerful numbers that seem to make a bigger mark. It's not enough to undo the show, but it is enough to make me wonder if the stories will start to repeat themselves and never stop.
• Because no one asked for it, HBO has extended its deal with Doug Ellin, creator of Entourage, through that show's upcoming seventh and eighth seasons. How the hell has this show not died yet? Is anyone watching it besides teenage boys who catch the reruns on Spike after WWE? Abed's right: It's just sloppy.
• And finally, because this is how far The Simpsons has fallen: