business news in context, analysis with attitude

We spend a lot of time in this space referencing some of the disruptive sources of entertainment product, making the point and drawing metaphors from the fact that entities such as Netflix and Amazon are not just developing new business models, but also injecting new vigor and creativity into the movie and television businesses. That’s important … but sometimes, it is nice to see a well-executed example of old-fashioned mass entertainment.

Some background … my daughter Allison and I always have had a TV show or two that is “ours” - programs that we’ve committed to watching only together, even if her class schedule or my business travel meant that we fell weeks behind. One great example of that was “Castle” - we loved the lighthearted Nathan Fillion-Stana Katic mystery series. Or “Criminal Minds,” the considerably less lighthearted series about serial killers.

Alas, “Castle” is gone and “Criminal Minds” is facing its 15th and final season … and so we’ve adopted a new series - “The Rookie,” which also stars the charismatic and dependable Nathan Fillion as John Nolan, who joins the LAPD as a street cop at the relatively advanced age of 40.

“The Rookie” is built to attract a big audience - it is an ensemble show with lots of gender, ethnic and racial diversity, telling solid stories in an entertaining manner. It looks great, features clever writing, and has an old-fashioned TV star at its core; Fillion is to modern TV what guys like David Janssen and James Garner were to earlier generations - solid, dependable, relatable, someone you want to hang out with each week.

This isn’t easy - it is hard to make 22 episodes a year of a mainstream one-hour series. Without commercials, these episodes are about 40 minutes each - but that’s about 880 minutes a season, which works out to about seven full-length movies. (That’s why it is so impressive when series like “NCIS” last 16 seasons, and don’t seem close to running out of steam.)

There may be a solid retail business metaphor here - not every store has to be a Bristol Farms or Dorothy Lane Market or Stew Leonard’s in order to survive (though it certainly helps to have that kind of differentiated approach). A store designed to have broad appeal can succeed if it solid and relatable and has some sort of core value/premise that makes you want to spend time there.

I’m happy to recommend “The Rookie” … it is worth watching from the beginning, and following as it goes along. I know Allison and I will, and suspect we’ll be able to do so for many seasons to come.

“Star Trek: Discovery” returned last night with the second episode of its second season, entitled “New Eden,” and it ended up being a fast paced adventure bringing the crew of the Discovery to a faraway planet where it ends up having to deal with issues of religious diversity and the Prime Directive (which requires that members of the Federation do nothing to interfere with the natural development of any civilization encountered in space), and what happens when these two concerns conflict with each other. Season two continues to be less grim than the first season, and this one felt particularly familiar in tone and pace … perhaps because it was directed by “Trek” icon Jonathan Frakes. Good stuff.

One follow up from yesterday’s mention of the passing, at age 63, of Jeanne von Zastrow, who worked for the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) for two decades, mostly focusing on the association’s western region and issues such as sustainability.

It hadn’t yet been posted when I wrote about it yesterday, but now her official obituary is up and you can read it here. There’s a lovely line in there, about how much she loved her some of Southern Utah, and often said that “sandstone and red rocks flowed through her veins.”

A wine to recommend this week: the 2014 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Blanc, which I served the other night with a nice piece of salmon served on a bed of spinach sautéed lightly with garlic and olive oil. Yum.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.

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