The TV Equals Mailbag #7: The Blacklist, HIMYM, & Some Current Events

The Blacklist Episode 14 Madeline Pratt (1)

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly and his idea to stamp out the pilot process for good. Though I got some push back from a few people on Fox’s current place in the television industry, most people politely nodded and said “makes sense”. For my own part, I was just pleased that someone decided to do something different with the television machine. The pilot process has brought us some of the greatest shows of all-time, but it has become brutally inefficient and downright nonsensical. Still, people had every right to be skeptical of the idea. It wasn’t that long ago when Jeff Zucker said he was doing the same for NBC before he turned the network into a dumpster fire you could see from space.

After this week, I’m considerably more confident in Mr. Reilly’s chances. Reilly appeared on Andy Greenwald’s podcast at Grantland. On the podcast, Reilly presented himself as he often comes across during these upfront presentations. He’s incredibly thoughtful and forward thinking. It’s clear he has a real passion for television and the business of making it. He could crash and burn (he definitely mentioned it as a possibility), but my point from the article still stands. Reilly and other network executives should be encouraged to take risks. Most strive to merely keep their jobs while searching for the elusive “hit”. Reilly obviously wants hits on his air, but it’s clear he’s taking a broader and more interesting view of how the business operates and its future. Regardless of how it plays out, I’m rooting for the man to succeed. Outside of the box thinking should always be encouraged.

And that’s where we start with this week’s TV Equals Mailbag. There are problems in the world that require outside the box thinking. Let’s start with some current events…

-Scott, Atlanta, GA

If you’re not paying attention to this news story, you’re missing a case that sounds like an episode of Fringe. Allow me to use a recent television event to explain how bat-dung crazy this whole thing is. At Paleyfest last week, several members of the cast of Lost reunited for a retrospective on the show and to genuinely just have a good time. However, they WERE NOT ALLOWED to talk about Malaysia flight 370. We should be using these people! They’re the only ones with experience in this situation! Somebody get Maggie Grace on the phone! If six of them reappear in a few years, remember this conversation we had.

In all seriousness, we’re all sending our good vibes to anyone touched by this crazy situation. I hope for the best possible resolution for all involved.

Let’s move to lighter (and TV related matters)

Q: The other day I caught an NCIS: LA/Hawai’i 5-0 crossover episode (they saved the world from a smallpox outbreak). Crossovers like that are always fun. Which two shows would you like to see crossover/share a universe? They can be current or past.
-Matt, Atlanta, GA

I miss crossovers. They’re an amusing way to slap a couple of franchises together. Of course, they have absolutely zero impact on the all-important Nielsen numbers. Thus, we’re missing out on gloriously fun crossovers because crossovers no longer move the needle. However, that’s not going to stop me from creating fictional situations that will never happen. For an added degree of difficulty, I’m going to use realistic options and stick with shows that share the same airwaves.

With that in mind, can’t we just call in The Blacklist/Hannibal crossover already? It’s Spader vs. Mikkelsen in a creep-off! Hugh Dancy visited by Megan Boone for advice on finding a missing Blacklister, but they can’t find him because Hannibal ate him! Cut to the end of the episode where Red and Hannibal both realize what each other are capable of, and they engage in one of those “non-threatening, but actually very threatening” conversations. I’d watch the crap out of that, and then I’d go lift my fridge with all my extra adrenaline.

Speaking of The Blacklist

Q: Write the letter that you’d like to receive persuading you to stop talking junk about The Blacklist.
-Abby, Athens, GA

I’ve envisioned this letter coming in the mail several times. I imagine it goes something like this:

Dear Mr. Newland

To begin, we really appreciate your interest and coverage of NBC’s The Blacklist. Your “Keen” insight must be engaging for readers and informative for creative types. However, I feel like it’s important to mention that we’re not even trying. Honestly, we come in around 10 AM, take a three hour lunch starting around 11:30, and everyone is out the door by five. As soon as they told us we had Spader, we all looked at each other and said “Well this thing pretty much writes itself now” and that’s been our modus operandi ever since.

So please, save yourself the trouble. You put more time into thinking about the show than we do. Just watch, enjoy, and just go to bed without thinking about any of the 24 ridiculous things we did on television. Of course they make no sense. We’re not even trying.


The Executive Producers

Q: Hi. My name is Scott (pause while everyone says “Hi Scott”). And I watch The Following (knowing and sympathetic head nods).
-Scott, Atlanta, GA

A lot of smart people I know and respect watch this show. At this point, the only plausible explanation is the Train Wreck Theory: You’re horrified by its awfulness, but you can’t turn away. Sadly, my Google search for “I Watch The Following Support Groups” yielded no feasible results. For now, just stay strong for each other and think about your families.

Q: I saw Hoon Lee (Job on Banshee) on a recent episode of The Blacklist. Where did this guy come from?
-Duane, Savannah, GA

Lee has cultivated somewhat of a cult following among those fans who enjoy the pulpy good fun of Banshee. As with his recent appearance on The Blacklist, he’s always the one off character actor on a procedural. Banshee was never going to make him, but hopefully it gets him some more run, because he is quite good.

Q: Why is How I Met Your Mother ending in two weeks?
-Jennifer, Savannah, GA

Jennifer’s question about the ending of HIMYM leads to larger ideas about how shows that begin with a central question go about answering that question. People realize that television is far better at asking questions than answering them. Now, HIMYM has answered its central question after a few years of screwing around with everyone about it (some would argue they’re still screwing around with everyone). It’s time to go.

Thanks again to everyone who wrote in. Remember, if you want to be involved with the Mailbag (and we really, really want you to get involved), you have several options: You can tweet your questions to me (@TVCzar). If you need more than 140 characters, you can email me your question here. If you don’t feel like doing either one of those things, you can post your question in the comment thread below. I look forward to hearing from you soon.