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Arts & Life

A Look Ahead At The Landscape Of TV To Come


Twice a year, the people who make television bring all the people who criticize television to Beverly Hills and spend a couple of weeks showing off. NPR's own TV critic Linda Holmes is in town to preview all the newest TV offerings for the fall. Linda Holmes, welcome to the program.

LINDA HOLMES, BYLINE: Thank you so much.

RATH: It's so nice to have you here.

HOLMES: Yeah, it's nice to be here.

RATH: So tell us about what looks promising so far.

HOLMES: Well, the presentations that I've been seeing are not over yet...


HOLMES: ...So giving a nod to the fact that there are still some people that haven't gone yet. So far, the stuff that I've liked the best - there's a very good miniseries from HBO that comes from David Simon, who did "The Wire" and "Treme." He's making a show called "Show Me A Hero." It's a true story of a decades-old dispute about building low-income housing in Yonkers...


HOLMES: ...Which he acknowledged does not necessarily sound television friendly. But as always, he's interested in the failures of institutions, and so a lot of this is about local government and trying to build housing.

So that would be kind of on your cable prestige-television end. They've also brought some stuff that I have liked on more the entertaining end. From broadcast, we saw presentations of two Fox sitcoms I like, one of which is called "Grandfathered" and stars John Stamos, and one of which is called "The Grinder" and stars Rob Lowe. So it's kind of handsome men of decades past over on Fox, and I liked both of those.

RATH: Something kind of reassuring about that somehow.

HOLMES: There is. And, you know, they're both - they're both still just kind of - they are - they're charming, handsome dudes. And in these shows, they're kind of playing on that a little bit. So they're both enjoyable shows.

RATH: There are a lot more networks presenting shows than there used to be - a lot more even non-networks that are presenting shows. How long is this list now?

HOLMES: It's a very long list. In addition kind of the traditional broadcast networks and the cable networks that are established, like HBO and Showtime - people like that - you now have a lot of shows coming from Netflix, coming from Hulu, coming from Amazon. It's gotten to be a really crowded field. There was some research that came out from the FX network yesterday that showed that they anticipate that by the end of 2015, there will have been 400 - over 400 original scripted series running during the year 2015, which is a lot.

RATH: Oh, my goodness. Isn't that going to make your head explode? How are you going to do your job?

HOLMES: It's really - you really get to the point where you just have to start making choices based on what you feel like watching a little bit. I don't watch a lot of bloody murder shows 'cause it's just not my thing. You got to cull somewhere.

RATH: So does this affect things creatively? Are there more offerings creatively? Or is it just kind of the same stuff repeated?

HOLMES: Well, I think there's some of both, right? Some of this is just shows that could easily have aired - particularly on a place like HBO will show up on a place like AMC or Netflix.

But some of it is different. You know, Tina Fey had a show - produced a show called "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" that was originally supposed to be on NBC but got shuffled around and wound up being distributed on Netflix. And she talked a little bit - a week or so ago - about the fact that you do have some flexibility that actually is specific to the outlet. Netflix doesn't need you to hit that 21-minute and 15-second time exactly, which I think comedy writers, in particular, are driven somewhat crazy by.

Plus when you have people who are seeking out a show, it puts you in a different kind of contract with the viewer and you can experiment more with the content. She talked about people sometimes being really offended by things on "30 Rock" because they would just have their TV on, and they would say oh, I walked into the room and all of a sudden you were talking about X, Y, Z. And that would be the source of, you know, complaints. She said on Netflix people are seeking out the show so they give you a little more room to play around.

RATH: NPR's Linda Holmes - Linda, thank you.

HOLMES: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.