News Column

NBC's 'Revolution' did well in 2012-13; so did geek shows

May 26, 2013


May 26--And so another TV season has come to an end. See you in the afterlife, "Whitney."

As we prepare for summer reruns, reality shows and maybe -- just maybe -- venturing out into the sunlight, it's time to look back at the 2012-13 TV season.

You say you want a revolution? NBC's big hit, both creatively and in the ratings, was "Revolution," an occasionally silly but consistently entertaining look at a near future where humans had to live without electricity -- something that everyone prior to the 20th century somehow managed to do without whining.

Sadly, word is that the show is moving from Wilmington to Austin, Texas, next year, in part because the potential sets in the Wilmington area have been depleted. Sad news about the departure, but perhaps it's good that Wilmington doesn't have an endless supply of abandoned factories and buildings.

But North Carolina will still have TV representation. Wilmington is the home of "Under the Dome," a new drama based on a Stephen King novel that will be shown on CBS starting June 24. Cable dramas "Homeland" and "Banshee" are filmed in the Charlotte area. The pilot for Fox's fall show "Sleepy Hollow" was shot in the Salisbury area, and the series may be as well. And "Eastbound & Down," starring Danny McBride, a UNC School of the Arts alumnus, will reportedly return for a fourth season. Previous seasons were shot in Wilmington and Myrtle Beach.

Geeking out: It's been a good time for geeks lately, with sci-fi and fantasy shows such as "Doctor Who," "Game of Thrones," "The Walking Dead," "Once Upon a Time" and "Revolution" getting big ratings and attention. Heck, BBC America has even devoted an hour-long program to geeky topics, turning "The Nerdist" podcasts into a weekly talk show.

And next season promises even more. "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." on ABC will bring the Marvel super-spies to weekly TV, and ABC is also adding a "Once Upon a Time" spinoff and a midseason drama about a girl with psychic powers, "Believe." Fox has "Sleepy Hollow" and the robot-cop-drama "Almost Human." NBC has "Dracula." And CW's lineup for the 2013-14 season is virtually all SF/Fantasy, with vampires, aliens, older vampires and even more aliens. Oh, and a historical soap opera about Mary, Queen of Scots, which will probably be devoid of vampires or aliens ... unless the ratings slip.

Fond farewells: Two of NBC's Thursday night staples, "30 Rock" and "The Office," went out on high notes, wrapping up their storylines in satisfying, entertaining ways -- an especially surprising feat for "The Office" considering it has flailed in recent years. A third Thursday night NBC comedy, "Community," also ended on a satisfying note -- only to get a surprise renewal for a fifth season. How long are these characters planning to stay in community college?

Other shows I was sorry to see go included "Happy Endings," "Vegas" and the underappreciated "Don't Trust the B-- in Apartment 23."

Good riddance: "Smash" went off the rails in its second season. "Whitney" and "Animal Practice" never got on the rails. And "Up All Night" disintegrated before a misbegotten retooling when one of its stars, Christina Applegate, realized what a mistake everyone was about to make and bolted.

Two other shows, "666 Park Avenue" and "Last Resort," had intriguing ideas but were only fit for limited-run stories, not a continuing weekly series. Perhaps the networks learned that lesson, since several shows next season are being billed as "event series" -- in other words, shows that are designed for a short run rather than getting canceled and leaving loyal viewers without a satisfying resolution.

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