Thursday, 14 July 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #764: Stupid & Cold

I'm going to start off by telling you all that I am not a "Gleek."

Never really watched a complete episode of the show. In fact, I haven't watched any series with a high school setting since Buffy The Vampire Slayer. But I will acknowledge that the show is popular, and that it inspires a schizophrenic mix of adoration and repulsion from its fans. It is also a business phenomenon, making oodles of dollars, and showing some hard truths about the business of television.

The latest story involves the show's Svengali, executive producer Ryan Murphy. He recently announced that several major cast members will be "graduating" in Season 3 and will not be returning for Season 4.

That's not surprising, at least to me. One of the problems with shows set in high schools is that cast people age, and if they're already in their 20s when the show begins, they start to look kind of creepy.

The show has two choices to avoid that fate. They could do what was done with
Buffy and 90210, and have the show follow the kids after graduation, or have the kids graduate go away, and move in new kids to take their place.

If they follow the kids, they lose the school, the teachers, and their plot-lines, while trying to contrive excuses for them to keep on singing together. So it's easier to just have new kids come in.

That's the understandable part.

The part that is not understandable is how Ryan Murphy decided to tell his stars about this situation. He told the media that the actors were getting shit-canned before telling the popular Glee actor Cory Monteith.

Dude, that's cold.

Not only cold, but kind of stupid.

As I said before
Glee's fans have a very schizoid relationship with the show. Watching the twitter feeds of Glee viewers during the airing of a new episode is like riding a roller coaster designed and operated by a clique of bi-polar engineers. One second they're raving about a how wonderful their latest cover song performance is, the next second they're raging about an unfinished plot-line, or hackneyed story twist.

It's a thin line between love and hate, and treating popular actors like so much past-due lunch meat, might give viewers the excuse they need to cross that line.

It also breeds resentment among those being canned, as well as suspicion and mistrust among those who come in to replace them. That does not help you create the sort of happy workplace you need to create a consistently successful television show. If everyone is expecting to be back-stabbed the way their predecessors were, they're are going to subconsciously start acting out their own preemptive treachery.

And let's not forget the upcoming Season 3.

Does Murphy honestly think he's going to get those he's just unceremoniously canned to give him their "A Game." No, they're going to be too preoccupied with lining up their next gig, at the expense of the show that they're on, because they have absolutely no debt of loyalty to it now.

Murphy should have been up front about it from Day 1. He should have said that while they may be starring on the show, the school's glee club itself is the real star. Three seasons, then they graduate with a real whopper show. Coach them right from the beginning to inspire them to go out with a show-stopping bang, instead of a sullen resentful whimper.

It's the mix of diplomacy and planning that you need to do if you're going make a show last.

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