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Showing posts from May, 2006

Pilot Inspektor: ABC's "The Nine"

It's a fantastic set up: a group of strangers, thrown together by fate, form unlikely bonds and are forced to come together when they're taken hostage during a bank robbery, a heist which might not be all that it seems. Meanwhile, outside the bank, police forces and hostage negotiators struggle to get the human shields released and take down the bad guys, who are themselves not all they seem. I wish I could say that I was talking about ABC's new drama The Nine , but I'm not. Rather the above description, eerily similar to that of The Nine 's pilot episode, belong's to Spike Lee's taut thriller from a few months back, Inside Man . During the screening of Inside Man that I attended several months ago, I was on the edge of my seat, my heart racing as I waited to discover the truth behind the bank heist plot, the fate of the hostages, and the motive of the mastermind behind the heist. No such tension here in The Nine (formerly known as Nine Lives ), a paint-

Pilot Inspektor: NBC's "30 Rock"

This year's crop of comedy pilots definitely leaves a lot to be desired. There's not an Office or Earl or Arrested Development among the bunch. Poring over the pilots that have come into the Televisionary offices thus far, my hands were sweaty with anticipation when I finally received my copy of NBC's newest comedy offering, 30 Rock . I've been writing about Tina Fey's pilot (back when it was untitled even) for quite a while now and I wanted to see if the show lived up to the hype that I assigned it. I can report that it honestly does. I've watched the pilot for 30 Rock twice now and each time I've been sucked in by the absurdist humor and witty writing of this hilarious, single-camera ensemble piece. For those of you not up to speed, 30 Rock is one of two new NBC shows centering around the backstage shenanigans at an SNL -style sketch show (the other is Aaron Sorkin's recently relocated Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip ). Oh and that rather odd titl

Televisionary: The Recap Episode

Ah, Memorial Day Weekend. That time of year which signals the end of the television season and the beginning of summer and, well, summer television. As there have been a lot of new visitors popping up here at Televisionary lately, I thought this would be a good time to take a look back at some recent posts that may have caught your eye, sparked your imagination, or--at the very least--given you a reason to take a break (or sneak one) from work. Without further ado, I give you the first Televisionary clip show. Pilot Inspektor: NBC's Kidnapped NBC's Heroes ABC's Brothers & Sisters Showtime's Dexter Hot Topics: "May We Have an Awesome Blossom": When Does TV Product Placement Go Too Far? "Gilmore" Guy: Who Is New Showrunner David Rosenthal? Fall 2006 Network Upfronts/Schedule Coverage: Musical Chairs: NBC Reshuffles Nearly Its Entire Schedule What I'll Be Watching This Fall Upfronts Scorecard: The CW Upfronts Scorecard: NBC Upfro

"My Back Just Walked into Your Knife": The Winner of "Top Chef" Is a Cut Above

In life, there are quite a few culinary metaphors that could seem to apply to the season finale of Bravo's first installment of Top Chef . That's the way the cookie crumbles, you can't cry over spilt milk, etc. And then there's my personal favorite: if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. While Top Chef 's Tiffani didn't exactly succumb to the heat or pressure of the competition's kitchen, she was done in by her own abrasive personality and an overly ambitious menu that failed to coalesce into a singular vision. Tiffani and Harold's brief was to come up with a five-course meal for eight diners; each course would have to be paired with a specific wine from guest judge Lorraine Bracco's label. But they wouldn't be cooking alone. Producers brought back Lee Anne, Dave, Miguel, and Steven to assist in the kitchens of Craftsteak and Nob Hill at the MGM Grand Resort in Las Vegas. Despite the fact that all four returning chefs wanted t

From Across the Pond: "The Thick of It"

I think I'm in love. Okay, I'm not in love. But I am totally infatuated--besotted, if you will--with The Thick of It , the brilliant and wickedly funny British comedy that just started airing recently on BBC America. And after two episodes, I am completely smitten. It's best described as The Office on speed or The West Wing viewed through a psychedelic haze if President Bartlett were a lazy, incompetent puppet on strings who's just as baffled as everyone else as to how he managed to land in this office. It's shot in the same faux documentary style as The Office and the result is a rather painfully hilarious political satire. The Thick of It takes the audience on a funhouse ride through the corridors of power (wow, that's a mixed metaphor), seen through the eyes of Minister of Social Affairs Hugh Abbot (Chris Langham), a sap who's completely dependent upon his often incompetent staffers. Hugh is brought in to fill the MP slot after the prime minister

Musical Chairs: NBC Reshuffles Nearly Its Entire Schedule

As expected, NBC has reshuffled its fall schedule, only a week after unveiling the new lineup to advertisers in New York. While rumors were flying last week that NBC would move Aaron Sorkin's new drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip away from competition (from relocated Grey's Anatomy ), the Peacock moved more than just that, rearranging Kidnapped, Deal or No Deal, Law & Order, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent , in addition to Studio 60. NBC will also be bringing Crossing Jordan back in the fall, rather than mid-season, and will bench the Patricia Arquette supernatural drama Medium until later in the season. President of NBC Entertainment Kevin Reilly announced the schedule shuffle and issued the following statement: "We've enjoyed an extremely successful development season and are going to do what it takes to give each new series the strongest launch we can. Now that we've assessed the competitive landscape, we've scheduled our new shows in time p

Messages in a Bottle: LOST Thoughts #11

OH. MY. GOD. That's really all I could formulate after seeing last night's second season finale of Lost . Over two of the most stressful, tense hours of television (take that, American Idol!), we saw the return of Desmond (and a few other familiar faces), learned what really caused the crash of Oceanic Flight 815, and left half of our beloved characters in some serious peril. First things first: the sailboat. The beautiful little sailboat (named Elizabeth, from Newport Beach) that appeared in the castaway's ocean backyard last week did in fact end up belonging to poor Desmond, who's been attempting to sail away to Fiji for the last few weeks, only to end up right back at the island. And apparently he's been drunk the entire time. Down in the hatch, Locke and Eko fight over the continued pushing of the button. Eko believes that it is the most important work in the world, but Locke thinks that it's all a joke. With the counter at four minutes, Locke won't l

Casting Couch: Pilots to Recast Several Series Regulars

For those of you who are looking forward to this fall's Brothers & Sisters , my advice is: don't get too attached to Jonathan LaPaglia... or Betty Buckley for that matter, as both actors are being recast. It's a process that happens every year. As networks pick up pilots and make the move from ordering shows to actual production on them, there are bound to be some tweaks, including a few nips and tucks in the casting department. As to the whys, that's anybody's guess. But it's a fact of life in the TV biz that not everyone in the pilot will make it to the series intact. Today's issue of The Hollywood Reporter details some of these changes, including the recasting the two actors above, who played Kevin Walker and matriarch Iva Walker respectively on ABC's new fall drama Brothers & Sisters (reviewed here ). Additionally, THR is reporting that the role of Kimberly in the ABC drama Traveler will be recast as well. In the pilot, Kimberly was p

Daily to Get "Desperate" After All

It's moments like these when you just have to gloat and say things like, You read it here first at Televisionary ! (No, I mustn't gloat, it's not attractive.) I had reported several weeks ago about Desperate Housewives showrunner Tom Spezialy walking off the set of the ABC drama and the rumors coming to me about nearly all of the show's writing staff receiving their walking papers. I had also reported on a rumored replacement for Spezialy: former Out of Practice and Frasier producer Bob Daily . In a rather juicy turn (fitting given the soapy series in question), I can now say that the above rumors have been confirmed as fact. Variety is today reporting that Daily has signed a deal to join Desperate Housewives full-time as a co-executive producer, replacing Spezialy. Additionally, Joe Keenan, Daily's colleague on Out of Practice (he was the co-creator of the now-cancelled sitcom), and former Will & Grace showrunner Jeff Greenstein are in discussions t

From Across the Pond: "Waking the Dead"

Let me begin by saying that I'm not usually a fan of forensic procedurals, those CSI -type shows that seem to have multiplied like bunnies and now fill up the majority of CBS's schedule. For the most part, they're standalone, tidily resolved formulaic mysteries that bare little resemblance to the character-centric nature of drama that I love so much. The same can't be said, thankfully, for British import Waking the Dead , which is currently re-airing its fifth season on BBC America. I could say things like, "If you like Cold Case , you'll LOVE Waking the Dead ," but I won't sink to that level, though the BBC's Waking the Dead , which preceded the arrival of the CBS forensic drama by a few years, is a far superior show. Both concern the cold case squad of a police authority and both solve crimes long left unsolved by their colleagues, but look at that title: Waking the Dead . Could any title be more evocative and compelling? In this case, the title

4 8 15 16 23 42...and 6 Inches?: An Island of "Lost" Toys

It seems like the island is getting a little smaller... Just a day after Touchstone Television, the studio behind ABC's hit drama Lost , announced that they had signed a deal with French videogame maker Ubisoft to release a Lost videogame in December 2007, Variety is today reporting that the studio has partnered with toy manufacturer McFarlane Toys to create an action figure line based on characters on Lost . First to be released will be six-inch articulated versions of Jack (Matthew Fox), Kate (Evangeline Lilly), Hurley (Jorge Garcia), Locke (Terry O'Quinn), Charlie (Dominic Monaghan), and (huh?) Shannon (Maggie Grace); their release will be tied in to Lost 's third season premiere this fall. (Future offerings will include Sawyer, Eko, and Jin.) Each action figure will include a full-scale prop that is connected to their character: Kate's will include the model airplane, while Hurley will have a lottery ticket with those mysterious numbers. (Um, they do know that

Pilot Inspektor: ABC's "Brothers & Sisters"

In his film Trust , writer/director Hal Hartley once said, "A family is like a gun; you point it in the wrong direction and you could kill someone." I think Hartley's statement applies nicely to ABC's new family drama Brothers & Sisters , which follows a wealthy Los Angeles clan as they do what families do best: eat together, bicker, love one another, fight, and then fight some more. This being a television series, there's naturally more lurking beneath the seemingly idyllic surface of the Walker family than initially meets the eye. Told through the voice of outspoken daughter Kitty (Calista Flockhart), the series explores the many secrets and lies that exist in every family. Think of it as My So-Called Thirtysomething Relativity Once and Again . Or something to that effect. What got me initially intrigued was the truly amazing cast that the show's producers had managed to assemble here, a trend which seems to be keeping in touch with this season's m

Pilot Inspektor: NBC's "Heroes"

Of the current batch of fall pilots in my possession, the one I was really looking forward to watching was NBC's Heroes , which many have touted as NBC's answer to drama juggernaut Lost . I can safely say that the cast and crew of the J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof-created drama doesn't need to lose any sleep at night. Lost this is not. For those of you in the dark, here's the basic pitch: seemingly overnight, ordinary people suddenly develop extraordinary powers and represent the next step in humanity's evolution, but there's something else afoot here as forces beyond their control seem to be drawing them closer together (a theme that seems to be so extremely common this season that it's the basis for no less than three pilots). The genetic mutation line is straight out of X-Men (one character even references the long-running comic book series, using Uncanny X-Men #143, in which Kitty Pryde travels to a dystopian future, as an argument for time travel);