Smash and The Geminis: two critics weigh in

A couple of smart guys are all over two things I’d been thinking about lately but am too busy/lazy to get to myself. So follow these links to enlightenment:

The Globe and Mail’s John Doyle is bang on as usual with this take on recent changes over at the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. Specifically: efforts to rescue The Gemini Awards from ridicule and oblivion. 
Doyle and yours truly were invited to a couple of meetings over the past few months with Helga Stephenson, the Interum Chief Executive Officer of the Academy. Have to say I was impressed with the way the former TIFF boss seemed bent on making the Gemini Awards less of a laughing stock. A huge step forward is news that the number of categories has already been reduced from eleventy million-billion to 92 in time for the 27th Annual Gemini Awards. Don’t stop there, cut another 20-40 categories if you want these awards to ever mean something to viewers, I say. Also addressed is the apples-and-oranges thing where international co-pros like The Tudors or The Borgias are competing with domestic efforts such as Republic of Doyle or Arctic Air for Best Canadian Drama prize.
Here I’m of two minds and probably well in the minority. This is a grey area, for where does Flashpoint, in its CBS heyday, fit in? Or The Firm, shot in Mississauga but headlined by Americans and sold throughout the Sony universe as a co-pro with NBC? While they employ more Canadians, don’t these shows also have an unfair budget advantage? I feel the best in Canada should stand with shows we’re involved in that are shot on foreign soil. All big budget TV seems to be heading in that direction, and breaking the stuff shot here into a cozy All Canuck category risks a “we’re not good enough to take on the world” taint. 
But I see the other side too, so good on the Academy for trying this out. Let’s see how it plays.
I also really like Doyle’s suggestion to merge the Canadian TV and film awards into one big open-bar banquet. I’ll drink to that.
Smash’s two Marilyns: Some like it not so hot

Another model might be the 2012 Independent Spirit Awards, hosted by Canadian-born Seth Rogen last week. Check out Rogen’s shtick on YouTube. Held in a tent, low key and irreverent, it looked like a fun time, which is well within the Gemini reach.

The other guy to read is Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker, who expresses here exactly what I’ve been thinking about Smash. I tried to watch Monday’s episode, and as I sat there stumped at how a Jonas brother wandered onto this thing (“Bieber wanted too much money, but research says this guy was just as big in 2009”), I found myself asking what the hell went wrong so fast with this series as I drifted away from the soapy storyline. This was the pilot everybody loved last May and June. 
Smash is like that playoff team that gets a bye into the next round, sits too long and then by the time it gets there has nothing in the tank. The energy and style that wowed in the preview seems to have escaped, leaving just cornball plotting and really obvious and seen-it-before characters. In three weeks, ratings tumbled south of 750,000 viewers on CTV, where this series got the full Super Bowl push. Another weekly plunge and hello, CTV Two. 
Even if Smash can return to form, some TCA critics were already voicing doubts in January about a Broadway-based drama doing breakthrough numbers in Middle America. Bill Carter at the New York Times kept asking, “Have you seen ratings for The Tony Awards lately?”

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