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Renewed

Tika-SumpterBecause TV watching now entails at least two glowing screens at all times, here are some stories from around the interwebz:

  • Caleb moves back to Rosewood after spinoff flops. “Pretty Little Liars: Tyler Blackburn to Return as Series Regular” (via The Hollywood Reporter).
  • FOX renewal news: Mindy Kaling is getting another go at it whether you like it or not, along with Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Following, and New Girl (via TV by the Numbers).
  • Lastly, record-setting ratings for OWN with The Haves and the Have Nots finale and an undeniably valid reason for a Tika Sumpter pic. Yay! (via Variety)
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Because the weather in the northeast has become unpredictably hot like Canadian actress Emily VanCamp. (Like really? Who saw that coming?) Because Madeleine Stowe once decided to leave Hollywood to become a farmer but luckily returned to be one of the sexiest fifty-somethings on television. Because as the 2011-2012 television season comes to a close, we reflect on how difficult it was for ABC to find a new series that didn’t embarrass a famously defunct airline, Aaron Spelling’s ghost, Tim Allen’s tool belt, or the network itself. Because Wednesdays seem so hollow and humdrum without Revenge gracing our tubes with its weekly dose of crimson and guile. Because top arbitrary amount of things lists are an easy way to fill up a blog post for the uncreative. Whatever the cause of its conception, here lies the top five reasons to rewatch (if you haven’t already hopped on the bandwagon by now, I weep for you) the alphabet network’s clinic on compellingly satisfying TV Revenge:

5. Connor Paolo fans (I know you’re out there, Paolo-itos!) get promptly reintroduced to classic Eric van der Woodsen steez, as if to provide refuge to the hordes of Gossip Girl expats who clamor for a return to UES prep school attire. The character of Declan Porter on Revenge seems to be an appropriate remix of both Eric and Dan — if middle class Long Island towny isn’t the Brooklyn bred not-so-starving artist of 2012, I don’t know what is. And somehow, this amalgam works pretty well in the Hamptons. Declan has the relatively rough backstory to give his usually opaque whimpers (and complexion) some color. Speaking of…

4. The color red. It’s everywhere. It foreshadows, underscores, and highlights. It somehow legitimizes an almost too simple premise and title card. The scarlet color palette is just part of the richly provocative aesthetic of Revenge. The sartorial direction must be noted as well.1 The pilot episode sets a precedent by introducing a majority of the players in snazzy red formal attire under the auspices of both an engagement party and a murder. Revenge appears most palpable when red, and the series is most stirring when it explores relationship and/or displays violence. The color red connotes bloodshed and lust simultaneously, and the series persistently teeters between the two to the benefit of its viewers.

3. The show’s sheer consistency in performance has to be praised. Those that follow TV show advanced metrics (is that a real thing yet?), may appreciate the stats where Revenge excels: ranking first in dramatic reveals per televised hour, leading the pack in voiceover efficiency quotient, and off the charts scores in flashback utilization rate. There’s’ simply something impressive about the exposition of story in the series. Creator Mike Kelley, of One Tree Hill and The O.C. fame, exploits familiar tropes — from combat training and wisdom gaining from older Asian men to young love struggling to traverse disparate upbringings — to bring essentially The Count of Monte Cristo: Suffolk County Edition to the small screen from a female perspective.

2. And that female perspective is terrific. Emily VanCamp’s performance makes the television you overpaid for because some kid at Best Buy made fun of you for not going bigger when you really just wanted him to explain why your antenna stopped working worth every cent. She effectively manages a host of storylines, identities, romances, red outfits, fight scenes, scowls, fake smiles, real smiles, and lies. Emily as Emily Thorne or Amanda Clarke, as a brunette or a blonde, delicate or ass-kicking, is simply a joy to watch. She’s a sympathetic female protagonist who operates with a level of agency and competence regrettably uncommon among TV’s leading ladies. No lady from Liz Lemon to the Girls girls is as capable as Amanda Clarke/Emily Thorne. In fact, she’s more comparable to Don Draper. Yeah, I said it. Revenge should be called Mad WoMen. (I know. Sorry.)

1. That brings me to the final reason you should rewatch the addictive first season of Revenge this summer, and prepare for its Fall return: Emily VanCamp’s ascension from girl next door cute to femme fatale hot, alongside Madeleine Stowe’s reassertion of her own unwavering good looks as summer ice queen of the Hampton’s, Victoria Grayson.2 The two of them playing off one another is captivating, if only for the high level of pretty that each brings to the table. Fundamentally, that is what the show offers — a casual dalliance into the world of the beautifully coiffed 1%. There’s certainly something superficial about the appeal of the series, but when superficial is done well enough, what’s genuine is how much you enjoy where you’ve found yourself, how interested you are in the pretty faces. In that, the most important reason to rewatch Revenge is truly Emily VanCamp’s interestingly (unconventionally?) pretty face and everything that it may represent for a viewer.

There’s certainly something significant to be said about the ability of this young woman to lead a successful network series as a fully dressed, strong, and able woman. But I’d rather close with the latest gossip that Emily VanCamp was spotted making out with her costar, Josh Bowman (Daniel Grayson).3

1And the lovely Ashley Madekwe must be mentioned here. Aside from being an unabashed fashionista on and off the screen, I spent at least four episodes deciphering her racial makeup. I settled on her being part Black, Western African, because of her English accent but she was definitely Puerto Rican or Bengali for a scene or two. She’s like a chameleon, always just the right color, always just the right outfit.

2In 1994 she was one of People‘s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World.” In 1995, she was one of Empire‘s “100 Sexiest Stars in film history.”

3Greatest disappointment from Revenge‘s first season: Daniel not being dead. And now, he’s smooching my boo.

As the warm season approaches, networks often have difficult (and not-so) decisions to make regarding their schedules and roster of programming. Surely the ratings have a lot to do with the decision making processes, but, as fans, we like to believe other factors come into play to some extent — whether it’s product placement monetization, #hashtag trend prominence, or executives possibly playing favorites hopefully with our favorites. We choose to believe in these less quantifiable and more unconventional series success variables so to justify our hope in the future of a favorable TV landscape, a future of fully packed DVRs and neglected loved ones. The hope fuels the ubiquitous social media campaigns, the zealous written pleas mailed to the network in bulk (do people still do that?), and manic financial support for commercial sponsors. Whatever the cause for each decision, cancel or renew, either a fandom finds corroboration in an x number of episodes commitment or viewers curse the callousness of network suits and their unwavering reverence to whims of Nielsen homes.

And all of that is simply to say this — listed at times with brazen bias:

  • Community has been renewed by NBC for a fourth season of 13 episodes. Not a surprise necessarily but surely a relief to many. This season has been filled with ups and downs for Community fans — consistently low ratings followed by a long impromptu mid-season hiatus, then a solid return with quality episodes that appeared to showcase creator Dan Harmon’s pointed response to the show’s received criticisms and uncertain future. To top it all off, it’s funny as fuck. The recent episode “Curriculum Unavailable” provided a ceremonious goodbye to the paintball episode tradition and, in essence, the Community of old. Times are a-changin’. And Community still has time (a new time actually, on Fridays come Fall), even if, rumor has it, Dan Harmon doesn’t.
  • FOX is giving Fringe a fifth and final season of 13 episodes, 13 more opportunities for Peter-Olivia shippers to be simultaneously placated to and kept in a persistent state of unease. That Fringe.
  • NBC has also given 30 Rock the go ahead to produce 13 more episodes for what is being labeled the final season. The guarantee is more that Tina Fey and the gang will be returning, not necessarily that the amount of episodes is set in stone or in this being the true last season, last inevitable live episode, last batch of Donaghy-isms, etc.
  • TBS has successfully acquired Cougar Town from ABC, saving the comedy from certain cancellation. Another opportunity for comedic relativism (“You just don’t get it. It’s funny.”) to gain some traction for those that stand by Courtney Cox’s ability to deliver on humor.
  • A bunch of no brainers were renewed including: ABC’s Happy Endings and Shonda Rhimes stuffs; an assortment of CSINCIS’s on CBS; Parenthood, Smash and Law & Order:SVU on the peacock network; and Bones and New Girl on FOX.
  • New shows The Secret Circle, Ringer, both on the CW Network; GCG on ABC; The Finder and Breaking In on FOX; NBC’s Awake, Best Friends Forever, and Are You There Chelsea? have all been canceled, Awake due to its overly advanced brand of storytelling, the rest because they sucked. But to be fair, there’s no guarantee Breaking In will stay canceled — that sly Christian Slater.
  • Have you ever watched NYC 22? Good. And now you won’t have to.
  • TV by the Numbers has a handy list of all other cancelations and renewals for the whole season.
  • Finally, Community and Fringe have been renewed! (Still great news the second time around.)