Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Ask Brett - Surprising 'Saturday Night Live' Exits, Poor Olympic Coverage, Lack of Conversation Around 'Power' & More!

In this week's edition of Ask Brett, chief TV critic Brett Hense of TV-Recaps-Reviews discusses Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah's Saturday Night Live exits, the lack of conversation around Starz's Power, the poor state of affairs with NBC's broadcast of the Rio Olympics and much more!

Q: Why is no one talking about Power [on Starz]? This season has been awesome so far!!! - Missy

It does seem odd that the conversation around Power - now in its third season - is fairly low despite being the highest rated cable show on Sunday nights for the last few weeks. It's indicative of an even bigger problem at Starz where they struggle to get people to actually talk about their shows and take them seriously during awards season. That was part of the reasoning behind the programming move to Sunday nights. It's clear that people are watching. But Starz still carries the redemption of being the premium cable network of movies and not acclaimed original series. It has grown magnificently as a provider of original content over the past few years. Power didn't captivate me in the early going so I didn't stick with it. But it does seem odd that the majority of the critical community doesn't talk about it more. Instead, the conversation this summer is on HBO's The Night Of, Netflix's Stranger Things, Lifetime's UnREAL and USA's Mr. Robot. Conversation doesn't always equate ratings. Just look at Mr. Robot's failure to grow an audience this season despite six Emmy nominations. Power has the ratings. They're strong enough to get a two-season renewal. But a deeper and more meaningful conversation about the series just seems to be eluding the zeitgeist. And that's such a weird pattern for Starz.

Q: I expected things to be pretty disastrous with the Rio Olympics because of all the problems plaguing the city but NBC's coverage of the events has been so strange, weird and off-putting. No surprise the numbers are down so much from London. - Jeff

NBC's Olympic coverage has always been very problematic. Frankly, I'm surprised that people forget and then became outraged all over again every few years. It's not a problem that will be going away anytime soon either. NBC has the broadcast rights for the next decade if I remember correctly. But it's still so frustrating to see the broadcaster try to explain why they show tape delays or why they air so many commercials or why they pad the time with needlessly manipulative backstories for the American athletes. I'm not a sports person. All of this outrage comes from secondhand conversation about people actually watching. But the conversation has been predominately focused on what NBC is doing wrong. It's not on the thrilling sports and the international competitiveness. It just feels like NBC only wants to show U.S. athletes. That just seems boring. Plenty of great moments can happen from anyone at the games. That's what can make them so exciting. But it's been difficult to find a whole lot of excitement this year. The ratings have been going up gradually over the first few days. But they are still down sharply from London. And yet, the games are still doing much better numbers than anything else on TV right now.

Q: Is this going to be the final season of Pretty Little Liars [on Freeform]? There has been so much teasing from the cast and writers but no one seems to be confirming those rumors. It's so frustrating! It's not a show that can run forever but I fear it might because of the dire state of affairs at Freeform. - Julianna

Freeform certainly has a conundrum on its hands with its original programming. Pretty Little Liars is the biggest hit they have right now and it's not doing anywhere close to the numbers it was doing just a year ago. And yet, it's still a hit. None of Freeform's new shows have taken off. So, the network could keep the soap around for as long as it makes financial sense. Of course, all series have end dates. Nothing should last forever. It's just not sustainable. I quit the show many seasons ago because it didn't feel like it was going anywhere nor was the journey all that exciting. I can't imagine what it feels like now after seven seasons. I also feel sorry for the fans. Both the show and the network are jerking them around this season. Just confirm whether or not this is the end. Put an end to the mystery so the conversation can go back to what the show is actually doing. 

Q: I'm shocked to hear that both Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah are leaving Saturday Night Live! Any chance they'll return in the fall to get a proper sendoff? - Mitch

First off, Jon Rudnitsky is leaving the show as well ahead of the fall premiere in case anyone cares about him. But yes, it is a big and surprising deal that both Killam and Pharoah aren't returning. The show will be absolutely fine without them. The cast is still stacked with so many talented individuals. Frankly, all it really needs is Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones to be awesome. But Killam and Pharoah were such crucial elements in defining the last few seasons of the show. Sure, it's problematic that the series never found a strong or funny way to tackle President Obama. But that wasn't Pharoah's best impression either. Plus, Killam provided so many memorable moments as well. Both of them will do fine without the show. As I've just learned, Killam is actually directing a movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. More importantly, I expect both of them to be high on casting lists come pilot season. So even though they'll be gone from the show, they'll continue to be seen in both TV and film - perhaps with even bigger roles. Seeing what they do next is going to be very exciting.

Brett Hense is the chief TV critic and founder of TV-Recaps-Reviews. He has been writing about television professionally for five years now. To be featured in a future edition of "Ask Brett," make sure to email your inquiries to Make sure to put "Ask Brett" in the subject line. Or you can leave a comment on this page or the site's official Twitter and Facebook pages.