How To Make It In America and Bored To Death Cancelled. Why??

Bored To Death and How To Make It In America were two great shows that HBO completely ditched for no good reason. 2.5 million viewers an episode is not bad by cable standards at all, and that is what How To Make It In America was averaging. consider the fact that the CW houses Nikita at 1.5 million an episode on Friday nights, a horrible timeslot on a network tv channel, and the same goes for Fringe on Fox. all HBO had to do was move these shows to another night or time on Sunday and give it a go, but to completely cancel either of these shows is very inappropriate by cable rating standards because cable ratings are typically much lower than network tv ratings.

the big loss, however, is putting the hipster scene on TV. both shows showcased this lifestyle, How To Make It In America more overtly and Bored To Death more subtlely. on one level it’s a win for the underground scene so that How To Make It In America’s basterdized Vice Magazine font and iphone photo style isn’t procreated anymore on national television, leaving it as an in-the-know-only aspect of the NYC party scene, but on another level that is exactly what How To Make It In America was about: two guys from the new york hipster party scene who were sick of being broke and trying to make something of themselves in America’s center of fashion. this is what made the show one of a kind and a perfectly valid, even important contribution to popular culture. sure, there is America’s Next Top Model and other horrid reality shows that feature New York fashion, but none that grasp hipsters so well — from architects to designers to fine artists, it’s a side of New York that hasn’t ever been showcased is such a way on television. maybe that was a turn off to people who in reality embody the subject matter themselves, or maybe those people were just too busy partying and being cool to watch the show. but just as Entourage caught the essence of making it as a Hollywood star in Los Angeles, How To Make It In America was truly capturing NYC fashion dreams circa 2011.

as for Bored To Death, it was a ridiculous show with a ridiculous plot and three ridiculous lead characters that never ceased to incite a long continuous stream of laughter from me and anyone else I know who watched the show. this show was rife with brooklyn scenery and carried three random concepts that when thrown together make a rather creative and thought-provoking television show: noir, anti-ageism, and comic book penises. the sleuth-driven storytelling in the new york setting has surprisingly not been done in quite a while, at least not in the throwback sense. mixing it with comedy carried Who Framed Roger Rabbit nostalgia without the cartoons, although Super Ray more than makes up for that even if it’s only just a few shots of comic book frames now and then — the concept behind it is integrated well enough into the series that Super Ray is hard to forget. the best part about the show, however, was the unprejudiced interaction between younger people and older people. it showed how age doesn’t need to stand in the way of good friendships or even sexual relationships. this concept even extended to different classes since the main character was a popular and successful writer who often mingled with criminals through his work, while Ted Danson’s character ran a respected magazine during the day and smoked pot with a private investigator and a comic book artist at night. of course, the best part of the show was Zach Galifinakis as a supporting character whose charisma and comedic talent are not yet getting tired. to be fair, Bored To Death had a three-season run, which is only a little more than consequential to say the least. but taking it off the air entirely is definitely depriving America of a truly creative and original show, one that I would feel sideswiped if topped by any new shows in 2012.

Movie Review: Head Above Water (1996)

Looking for a Billy Zane noir movie that I couldn’t remember the name of, I stumbled upon this lost mid 1990s b-movie. I’d be lying if I said I’ve ever even heard of the title. There are a lot of great things that stand out in this movie, from the screenplay to the direction to the performances by all the actors to the cinematography and even to the soundtrack at some times. Cameron Diaz and Billy Zane have clear a chemistry and being so young and vibrant, they are a treat to watch interact on the screen. What’s great about the screenplay is that it moves quickly without feeling rushed and as a viewer I feel entertained and enthralled even before anything big happens 18 minutes into the film. And then it turns into a whole new film altogether.

Substance is lost when it comes to the aftermath of the discovery of Billy Zane’s character Kent by Harvey Keitel’s character George. The story doesn’t move as fast as I would like at this point and is a little redundant albeit entertaining for a good 30 minutes or so while the characters struggle with making the choice to either be honest but ostracized by the media or being dishonest and safe in the privacy of their lives while committing a serious crime. If the movie had explored this idea more thoroughly, philosophically and darkly, it would have continued into what it started out to be. But it soon moves away from the creepiness and thrill of the desperation that overcomes one of the characters and brings out a cold-blooded side with a stark intent on covering everything up and into a campy dark comedy starring Cameron Diaz (at least this was before she got big), and I have to say her performance turns to utter crap by the end of the movie.

While this movie is charming and entertaining overall, what bothers me about it is probably the same issue that most critics would have: there are times when it is very serious and times when it’s extremely campy. The musical score is probably mostly to blame for this, but it could really just be that the producers were looking to make something accessible by too many markets instead of just sticking to one. I can imagine the script originally being a thriller and being amalgamated into what it became. Some examples of this are the beginning being a very serious and drama-oriented mood which prepares the viewer for a murder mystery, then turns into a would-be black comedy with no real jokes for the rest of the movie, studded with moments of a classic horror film format. Again, it’s difficult to fit this movie into a specific genre and that makes it difficult to swallow as a viewer. The best movies, the ones that have won the awards for best picture usually, are the movies that don’t fail on this account. Even if you were to make a movie that is cross-genre and/or unique in terms of genre-fitting, it should still carry through from beginning to end in some cohesive format. Without it, as a viewer, I feel cheated or tricked into watching something that I wasn’t truly interested in watching from the beginning.