Along with its triumphs, the world of TV had its share of setbacks in 2014. Here’s a sample:
▪ “How I Met Your Mother” Concludes: This long-running CBS sitcom met few viewers’ expectations for a slam-bang finish. Its big reveal – naming the titular “your mother” after nine years of teasing – yielded a finale only slightly less tangled than the ending of “Lost.” And even “Lost” resisted the temptation to include a blue French horn in its wrap-up.
▪ David Gregory Exits “Meet the Press”: After months of speculation that Gregory was being ousted from the program he had hosted since 2008, NBC News announced in August he was toast. That was 18 months after the network signed him to a new contract it described as “a long-term commitment.” And four months after NBC News’ president defended him in a memo to “Meet the Press” staff expressing support “for David, now and into the future.” His future was short-lived. He was out in a jiffy, with Chuck Todd his replacement.
▪ Ray Rice’s Elevator Assault: Over and over, viewers were force-fed the chilling video of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice striking his then-fiancee and knocking her out. After it was released on a Monday in September, the video of Janay Palmer crumpling to the elevator floor was aired repeatedly by multiple networks. In one particular hour, the clip aired 37 times on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC. But by Thursday, many of those networks vowed to give it a rest. But Rice isn’t necessarily off the air. Having lately appealed his indefinite suspension by the NFL, and won, he’s eligible to play again in the NFL – and log more TV face time.
▪ “Utopia” Unrealized: Arriving with much fanfare, this Fox reality show stranded a group of strangers at a remote site where, during the year to follow, they were meant to build a more perfect society. But it turned out they couldn’t even build a show that viewers would watch. Puny ratings forced its cancellation after just two months. For Fox (and the human race) “Utopia” swiftly proved to be a dream unfulfilled.
▪ “Peter Pan Live!” It proposed a bold counter-theory for the space-time continuum. It argued for eternal youth in a realm only accessible by fairy dust-assisted human flight. Unfortunately, NBC’s live production of this time-honored musical never managed to take off. Viewers had the feeling they had grown up and grown old by the end of its three hours struggling to get off the ground.