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Showing posts from February, 2006

Channel Surfing: 2.28.06

"Arrested" But Not Forgotten Via Screenhead , witness this soulful eulogy for quite-possibly-dead-but-never-forgotten show Arrested Development , entitled "A long time ago, in a Sudden Valley far, far away." Moving past the Star Wars homage, I especially love the little details: the seal that bit off Buster's hand, the little Monopoly piece in the form of a house (one of the show's motifs), George-Michael and Maeby in the Bluth's frozen banana stand, and of course, standing in for Star Wars ' sexually ambiguous C-3PO, our very own sexually-ambiguous mandroid, Tobias, in his omni-present cut-offs. "Arrest" the Presses Okay, awful pun there. But stop the presses, cancel the headstone, silence the fat lady. The New York Post is reporting today that Showtime has not only picked up Arrested Development but has actually ordered a full 26 episodes! (Which would be more than they produced in either Season Two or Season Three.) No official c

Reality Check: "Apprentice" Cast Should Keep Their Day Jobs

As Donald Trump might say, first impressions are extremely important... you rarely get the chance to make up for a bad one and a good one can last a long time. Platitudes aside, I can say that, after watching the premiere of the new cycle of The Apprentice , the 18 "top notch" candidates they've assembled for the chance to vie for the title of Donald's umpteenth apprentice/slave fail to make a very good (or lasting) first impression. Choosing the teams, as usual, is an awkward affair, this time complicated by having the candidates greet Trump a la arriving royalty on the airport tarmac as his private jet descends in New York. Saying a few words aboard the luxe aircraft, Trump then forces the candidates to disembark and try to withstand what appeared to be gale force winds as he randomly chooses two people to act as project managers (a Mensa member and a Harvard Business school grad). What follows is a typical high school gym class scenario and ultimately the oddball

Channel Surfing: 2.27.06

TiVo to Give Away Boxes For Free... But Not Really Best-invention-ever manufacturer TiVo might soon start an initative to give away boxes in order to lure consumers to the service. Under this plan, TiVo may waive the price of the TiVo set-top box but will instead possibly raise the monthly service charge rates and implement longer term plans. The measure may go into effect "fairly soon," according to Tom Rogers, TiVo's chief executive. Currently, TiVo charges subscribers $12.95/month for the service, with multi-room discounts for additional units. I would love a new TiVo box (mine is rather filled to the brim with episodes of Arrested Development , Nigella Bites , and State of Play, the Brit mini-series that criminally has yet to be released on DVD) and certainly wouldn't object to TiVo sending me one (You know where to reach me, TiVo: televisionaryblog[at]gmail.com!), I wonder if this will apply to the current Series 2 set-top box or the revolutionary Series 3 t

Tuning Out: Why I Stopped Watching "The OC"

Networks sometimes use the summer to launch new shows. Oftentimes these shows are complete and utter dreck--leftover episodes of now cancelled shows "burned off" in the primetime wasteland of the summer months--or new reality programs that soon spawn huge franchises( Survivor , Amazing Race , Beauty and the Geek , etc.). But every now and then, a network will throw a drama on during the summer in the hopes that, with little else on, an audience will find the show and nurture it and give it the strength to make it through the regular, primetime season. One such show was The OC . Created by twenty-something wunderkind Josh Schwartz and launched in the summer of 2003, The OC seemed like it would merely be a retread of Beverly Hills 90210 , just set slightly further down the California coastline. When it premiered, however, even I was surprised by how much I liked the show, despite wanting to dislike it. Instead of embracing those familiar teen drama tropes, the show toyed wi

From Across the Pond: "Black Books"

One thing that everyone knows about me is my innate love of everything English. I spent a good deal of time during my childhood in the UK and attended Oxford. In between (and since), I've devoured everything quintessentially British: from novels to films to television over the years--first on good old PBS and then anglophile digital cable fix BBC America . So I am not quite sure how the delightfully surreal comedy Black Books managed to escape my notice for so long. I caught the first series on DVD (it was just recently released in the States last month) and am enthralled by the bizarro second series, currently airing on BBC America. Rarely have I ever seen a more bleak portrait of the working world or a more hateful and cruel character than Dylan Moran 's grumbling Bernard Black, the owner of the titular London bookstore. Bernard is an anti-social, chain-smoking, drunk misanthrope who owns and "runs" a small, musty book shop. The fact that he has engaged in this p

Channel Surfing: 2.22.06

Tracking the Fallout: The CW... vs. MY? Apparently, networks are a lot like twenty-something female friends: as soon as one reproduces, they all want a baby too. FOX announced today via press release the creation of yet another brand-new network, called MY Network TV, which it will unveil this fall in an attempt to battle the merger of the WB and UPN into a single new entity called the CW, which will also be unveiled this fall. (Coincidence?) Fox Television Stations and Twentieth Television will operate the new venture. My Network TV is schedued to launch on September 5th and will feature original network-quality primetime programming from 8:00 to 10:00pm six days a week (Monday through Saturday). Genres are expected to encompass reality, drama, comedy, game show, news, movies and talk formats. The new hour-long scripted dramas “Desire” and “Secrets” (from Twentieth Television) will inaugurate My Network TV. The telenovela-style shows are structured in a 65-episode story arcs that

"Office" Romance

Sometimes you do receive good news in the mail. Kudos to my weekly entertainment fix Entertainment Weekly (that is, when I receive the mag on time) for putting Michael Scott (a.k.a. Steve Carell) and The Office on its cover this week (check your newsstands now). Since moving to its new berth on Thursdays at 9:30 pm last month, The Office has increased its viewership to an average of 9.1 million a week. (It also sits consistently at the top of iTunes' list of most downloaded shows.) Among the gems in EW's cover story (a fantastic behind-the-scenes feature on the goings-on at Wernham-Hogg), I discovered that supporting cast members Paul Lieberstein (who plays human resources sad sap Toby) and Mindy Kaling --a.k.a. compulsively chatty customer service rep Kelly--also serve as writers on the show (as does B.J. Novak, who plays Ryan, office temp and the object of Michael's ongoing man-crush, but that I've known since the show's inception). Kaling also was responsib

Channel Surfing: 2.19.06

"Fly" Guy Shoots Down Serenity Rumors It seems E!'s Kristin isn't always so on the money. Joss Whedon, creator of Firefly (among other shows), shot down rumors (which I reported here ) that the new CW network was making overtures to the cast and crew of Firefly (and big-budget sibling, Serenity ) to resurrect the show this fall. Or as Joss himself put in his own inimitable style: "Since everyone's all abuzz with the CW rumor, I have to get all official and say: WE'VE STARTED FILMING NEW EPISODES! Of Dateline. I'm such a troll. No, there haven't been any overtures from the CW as regards a SereniFly spin-off. I haven't even heard the orchestra tuning up." Well, damn. That sound you hear is my dream of a Firefly revival being crushed. "Lost" Boy (and Girls) In other TV news, fan-favorite Drew Goddard, currently a writer on ABC's ongoing drama Alias , will be joining the writing team on Lost next season. Goddard, a for

Why Everybody Can't Hate "Chris"

Out of this current season's pilots, one of the shows I was most impressed with was Everybody Hates Chris , which nailed the tone and feel of the show in its first five minutes. Set in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn in the early 1980s, it tells the story of 13-year-old Chris, an intelligent but unlucky kid who finds himself the only African-American in an Italian-American high school, and is narrated by Chris Rock, on whose life this is (loosely) based. Reminiscent of the early episodes of FOX single-camera sitcom Malcolm in the Middle , the show has a smart-alecky humor and tough-love heart that are missing from most laugh-track "traditional" sitcoms. While each episode's title begins with "Everyone Hates..." it's hard not to love a show that features a red-haired Italian teenage bully, non-verbal (and subtitled) confrontations between the parents who can communicate whole paragraphs with a single look, and thieves who live on the block and stea

Messages in a Bottle: LOST Thoughts #2

While last week's episode focused on Sawyer's long con of the castaways and his cunning theft of the guns, last night's episode ("One of Them") ratcheted up the suspense to Season One levels. While there's been no further electric black smoke-sightings, this week brought us slightly closer to solving some of the island's mysteries (while creating a few new ones). This week, several things jumped out at me: Jack nearly prevents Locke from entering the numbers in time to stop the timer from reaching zero. Unfortunately (or fortunately for the viewers), Locke doesn't make it in time and the counter then begins to flip, displaying a series of red and black figures or glyphs that suggest the following shapes: a man, a boat, a plane, a bird, and finally a squiggle that could symbolize a snake or a rope or a hook. But just before the final figure appears, Locke manages to press the execute button. Hmmm, does this mean that nothing happens when the counter r

I Heart "Veronica Mars"

I woke up this morning to discover something truly shocking and upsetting: due to the dismal performance of the dreadful drama South Beach , UPN is pulling the new episodes of Veronica Mars until the next cycle of America's Next Top Model starts up again in March, providing the show with a stronger lead-in. The news upsets me for two reasons: (1) now I have nothing to watch after Lost tonight and (2) those of us wise enough to realize that Veronica Mars is the best damn drama on television won't get any new episodes for nearly a month... Far too long to find out what is going on in Neptune. I will admit that I was, er, skeptical when I first heard about the show two years ago. A teenage P.I.? On UPN of all places? But I sat down to watch a copy of the pilot with very low expectations and instead found myself sucked in immediately to Veronica's world. I was instantly hooked. And instantly smitten. And two years later, the plots continue to come fast and furious, the my

Channel Surfing: 2.14.06

"Girl" Talk : CNN's Entertainment section dissects the fallout from the Lorelai/Rory split on Gilmore Girls (as discussed here ) and interviews Lauren Graham about her reservations about the storyline ("I struggled with the idea that this character, being the parent, would go so far as to stop speaking to her daughter and not make more of an effort.") while showrunners Amy Sherman Palladino and Daniel Palladino defend the approach they took: "To really rock Rory's world, we had to go to what the core of the show was and to really have them have a rift and explore what the show would be," Sherman-Palladino said. "I know there are two camps. Personally, for me, I've loved the psychological implications of this year more than any other year because we've really gotten to do some real mother-daughter stories." Think deeply about the characters, and the silence rings true, she said. Lorelai has spent her life trying to do everythin

Ten Reasons Why the "Arrested" Finale Rocked

Devotees of FOX's scandalously underrated comedy Arrested Development gathered around the box Friday night to watch the show's final four episodes, which effectively wrapped up some dangling plot threads from the last three seasons... while still leaving open the door for the show to possibly return (come on, Mitch and Showtime!). For me, the experience was definitely bittersweet. After waiting so long for any new episodes of Arrested , I devoured the two hours but couldn't quite fathom why FOX would unceremoniously dump the finale during the opening, er, ceremonies of the Olympics. (Haven't we Arrested fans been through enough already, FOX?) Meanwhile, I laughed, I cried, and I had to rewatch some parts over again several times because I was laughing and crying so hard. If you've never watched the show, more's the pity as the following will probably make no sense whatsoever, but to those Arrested -addicts among us, these are ten reasons why the finale rocked

Can't Get "Arrested" in This Town

The (possibly) final four episodes of the supremely brilliant comedy Arrested Development are airing tonight, heaped together into a two-hour block. FOX has yanked viewers of this amazing show around for the last three seasons, changing timeslots, pulling it off the air for months at a time, airing the episodes out of order, etc. In other words: typical FOX modus operandi. Hopefully tonight isn't the last outing of the Bluth family, a family so crazy and self-absorbed that it makes me value my own family that much more. According to USA Today , it's still possible that the show could find another home on ABC (less likely) or Showtime (more likely), as a companion piece to Weeds, but it's not looking good. Until our prayers are answered (and there are many of us willing to follow the Bluth clan to cable), tonight’s final episodes, which introduce Justine Bateman as Nellie Bluth—a new, secret Bluth daughter—may be the last we see of their topsy-turvy world for a while. On

About Jace

Jace Lacob is the TV Columnist for The Daily Beast/Newsweek . He is the founder of Televisionary , an award-winning television website that focuses on US and UK television programming, news, reviews, and interviews that began in February 2006. Jace holds a Bachelor's degree in English Literature from Cornell University College of Arts and Sciences and a Master's degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from New York University. He also studied Literature at Oxford University (Wadham College, to be precise). He is a member of the Television Critics Association. Jace previously worked in the television industry for more than seven years, both on the domestic and international sides, in development, co-productions, and acquisitions. For publicists: Jace welcomes all coverage inquiries but please note that he writes exclusively about television (and to a smaller extent TV-on-DVD), so please don't send press releases or inquires on other topics. A list of popular top

Messages in a Bottle: LOST Thoughts

While last night's episode ("The Long Con") focused more on Sawyer's plan to con the castaways and gain control of the guns (and therefore the tribe), there wasn't much to speculate or theorize on, compared to other recent episodes (mysterious black electricity-laden smoke, weird Virgin Mary fantasies, cursed numbers, and ominous computers). However, a few things did manage to pop out at me: The book that Locke is handling (upside-down no less) in the hatch as Sawyer comes in is An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge , by Ambrose Bierce, which recounts the story of a man condemned to death by hanging at Owl Creek Bridge, only to escape when the rope breaks. However, the story's twist ending reveals that the entire story is imagined in the moments between being pushed off the bridge and his neck breaking. Does this mean that our castaways are in purgatory? Or that the events we are watching are merely imagined (by whom?) during the plane crash? The waitress in the

Tuning Out: Why I Stopped Watching "Desperate Housewives"

Every now and then I find myself wondering why I continue to watch a particular show, given the lack of satisfaction I get from watching it. Think of it as: When Good Shows Go Bad. For a number of reasons, I find my willing suspension of disbelief nearly impossible and I begin to take fault with tinny dialogue or the believability of characters' actions, and entire storylines begin to become incomprehensible to me. Such is the case with Desperate Housewives , a show I once tuned in to watch with relish every Sunday evening. Picture it: Autumn 2004, a time filled with the promise of new and exciting shows like Lost , Veronica Mars , and Desperate Housewives , two of which had energized the stagnant ABC and got people talking around watercoolers or coffee pots or wherever people gather nowadays in offices. At first, Desperate Housewives was a delicious hodgepotch of elements: soapy female-driven domestic drama on one hand, but also a given to pratfalls, arson, same-sex shenanigans

"Gilmore Girls": What a Difference a Week Makes

We were thisclose to recapturing the wit, energy, and spark of Gilmore Girls with the last few episodes, penned by the ever-wonderful show's creator, Amy Sherman Palladino. The first half of the season--which saw a lack of any episodes written by Amy or her writer-producer husband Daniel Palladino--devolved into a soppy mess wherein Rory and Lorelai went their separate ways after a fanastic and brilliant season finale. While the concept behind the jaw-dropping split made sense (with Rory dropping out of Yale, moving out of Lorelai's house, and moving in with grandparents-from-hell Richard and Emily), the execution was extremely flawed to say the least... especially without Amy and Daniel at the helm. So imagine my excitement when we had two back-to-back brand new episodes written by Amy herself! We got back the Gilmore Girls of yesteryear--snappy repartee, the best ever Friday night dinner with Emily and Richard, the Gilmore girls reuniting, Rory moving in with Paris and re

Channel Surfing: 2.7.06

Tracking the Fallout: The CW: Everyone here in LA--at least those of us in the TV biz--went crazy over the news a few weeks back that network smallfry, the WB and UPN, were merging into a new, super-sized single netlet called--of all things--the CW, a rather tepid combination of CBS and Warner Bros.' first intials. Rumors flew about which shows would be saved (please for the love of god, keep Veronica Mars , Gilmore Girls , and Everybody Hates Chris on the air!) and which would be cancelled ( One Tree Hill , I am looking at you), giving those of us with not much to do the opportunity to create new combined network fantasy schedules while pretending to look busy at work. Today's Los Angeles Times Calendar section has an article about the fallout among the networks' program creator/producers--specifically those who have midseason replacement shows about to air--as they battle it out among themselves for those precious pennies of network advertising and promotion money t

"Bleak House" is far from, er, bleak

Okay. I will admit it: I am a sucker for TV costume dramas... especially when they are well-made, produced by the BBC, and adapted into multiple hours. I've stared mesmerized for hours at the fantastic 6-hour Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle opus Pride and Prejudice , the twisty and addictive Our Mutual Friend , and the thrilling adaptation of Dickens confidante Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White , among others. And with the latest addition to the oeuvre, the BBC's brilliant adaptation of Charles Dickens ' multi-layered novel, Bleak House , the BBC has outdone itself in every aspect. Adapted with skill by screenwriter Andrew Davies, Bleak House aired in the UK last year to critical and commercial acclaim. Structured as a nighttime soap (sort of like EastEnders with street urchins and Chancery suits), the BBC aired the series as 15 half-hour installments twice a week, keeping the serialized aspect of Dickens' original novel. Fortunately, when Bleak House arrived across

My Name is... Tenacity

Speaking of hit NBC comedies like The Office , I was reading the Sunday New York Times Arts Section today when I came across this article about My Name is Earl creator Greg Garcia and the battle he fought to get his show on the air. Simply put: dude would not give up. There's something to be said for determination in this crazy business of show... There's also something to be said for a last-place network, desperate for a hit, and a newly appointed network prez willing to take a chance on a show that everyone has passed on. Those two things go together like chocolate and peanut butter. And thank god, because otherwise, we wouldn't have the boffo brilliance of My Name is Earl to watch each week. Karma. I'd have to agree with Earl and paraphrase a bit: Fight hard enough for something you believe in and maybe, just maybe, you'll find someone who's willing to fight for it alongside you too.

Wernham-Hogg, meet Dunder-Mifflin

The Office . I was one of those people who saw NBC's attempt to create an American version of The Office as sacrilige. I had watched (and worshipped) the original British version for years. I owned the DVDs, the scripts, and downloaded Ricky Gervais' hilarious podcast weekly. Hell, I had tearsheets of David Brent postering my workspace (along with Arrested Development, but that's a story for another time). And when I heard last year that NBC was going to remake the show for an American audience, I bitched and moaned to anyone that would listen. After the train wreck that was Coupling , I doubted that they could pull it out of the bag. When I got an advance copy of the show's pilot, which stuck to the same exact script as the British version's pilot (with diastrous results), my fears were realized. Nearly every line of dialogue and every pained reaction shot was copied from the original so that the end result felt rather akin to seeing a beloved play performed by

Televisionary

Little bit of an understatement coming: I've always loved television. And I mean LOVE television. (Not all television, mind, but that's what this blog is about--the good and the bad and the really hideous.) There's something so unique and rewarding about a medium that allows us to tell ongoing stories in a serialized format--a medium so diverse and filled with zillions of channels that it can bring us dramas like Lost and Gilmore Girls, reality shows like The Amazing Race, soap operas, sports, sitcoms and, yes, even dreck like Skating with Celebrities all in one box that sits, ever patiently waiting for some one to turn in on, in our living rooms and bedrooms. Even when I was a little kid (a naughty one at that who wouldn't let my poor parents ever sleep), I was entranced by what the television could offer. Night after night, I would cry and fuss and the only time I would quiet down would be when they let me watch television with them. It was before my little brothe

Contact Me

Got a news tip? A question? Or just want to get in touch? Please note that, while your email will be read, a reply may not be prompt, due to the volume of email that I receive on a regular basis. You can send me an email by using this link: Send an email to Jace . If you would like to connect with me through social networking services instead, here are the links to my various profile pages: Twitter Facebook Thanks and keep reading!