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Showing posts from June, 2006

WB Plans to Sign Off By Looking Back at Long-Gone Hits

Former WB watchers, mark your calendars. It's time to say goodbye. Those of us who can remember a day when the WB was the place to catch vampire slayers, randy teens, and preoccupied college girls with amazing hair will undoubtedly want to tune in to the WB on September 17th for the netlet's send-off. Variety is reporting that, before the WB and UPN morph into a single entity, the WB is taking a trip down memory lane and airing the original episodes of the network's long-gone critical darlings Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the two-hour pilot), Dawson's Creek , Felicity , and Angel in a single block. The event will occur on Sunday, September 17th, the night before the offical launch of the CW, from 5 pm to 10 pm. The WB's sign-off schedule, which will include classic promos from the netlet's 11 year history, is as follows: 5 pm: Felicity ("Pilot") 6 pm: Angel ("City of...") 7 pm: Buffy the Vampire Slayer ("Welcome to the Hellmouth"/

From Across the Pond: "Spaced"

Here in the States, we've only recently embraced (to a certain extent anyway) the zany madcap nature that's found in a plentiful number of British television comedies. Shows like Arrested Development , Scrubs , Andy Richter Controls the Universe , and My Name is Earl come close to approximating that surreal humor of Britcoms like Brittas Empire , Black Books , or my latest favorite find: Spaced , a 1999 comedy that recently started its run on BBC America. The above three shows take simple concepts that could have easily lent themselves to traditional, mundane situation comedy--man runs a leisure center ( Brittas Empire ), man runs a failing bookstore ( Black Books ), couple moves in together ( Spaced )--but instead turns them on their heads, creating a topsy-turvy world for their obliviously, confused, or misanthropic characters to inhabit. The result is often pure comedy gold, the sort of thing that we Stateside are only just now beginning to experiment with, but which has be

Four Is the Perfect Number After All: HBO's "Entourage"

I'm really not sure about Entourage's new character Dom. After all, it's taken me this long to stop getting annoyed every time that Turtle appears on-screen. But Entourage 's producers have seen it fit to introduce a fifth wheel into the Entourage gang (not counting Ari, of course): namely ex-felon Dom (guest star Domenick Lombardozzi of The Wire ), who made his first appearance in Sunday night's episode ("Dominated"). Whether Dom will be staying permanently is anybody's guess, but Vince has already given him the illustrious job of head of security... despite the fact that he's the biggest security risk since that loon Chapman wandered up to the Dakota. I get the fact that Dom is supposed to invite trouble and shake things up for Vince and the boys, but, at the same time, I can only really handle one annoying Entourage player at a time and that role has been filled by Turtle since the very beginning. That said, it was amusing to see Eric, Drama,

FOX Backs Off "The OC" While Circling Dead Pilots

Variety is reporting that FOX has quietly cut its episodic commitment to struggling teen soap The OC from the standard 22 episodes per season to a shorter 16-episode run. According to Variety, a FOX network spokesperson "attributed the cutback to the net's scheduling needs. The OC won't have its season premiere until Nov. 2--about a month after most FOX shows--and therefore, the reasoning goes, net won't need as many episodes in the can." One need not have the mathematic skills of dearly departed Marissa Cooper to figure out that if The OC begins on November 2nd and airs all 16 episodes, the series will end its run at the end of February. It would, however, leave plenty of room for FOX to launch a new series in The OC 's timeslot, although tough competition from timeslot fellows CSI and Grey's Anatomy will make that a rather difficult feat. In other news, FOX has also gave a potential spark of life back to several pilots believed to be dead. Followin

TV (Not) on DVD

My living room bookcases haven't known what's hit them lately, with all of the many television-on-DVD, well, DVDs, that I've been loaded them with. Yet, despite the sheer quantities that I've managed to gather, everything from Gilmore Girls and Buffy the Vampire Slayer to The Vicar of Dibley and Monarch of the Glen (with more than a few Justice League animated DVDs in between), there are still a few series that for whatever reason haven't quite made the jump to the digital. So which series I am most desperate to own on DVD? Below are my top five (okay, six) picks for the most criminally unavailable television series on DVD. Andy Richter Controls the Universe Whenever I ask people which television series they would most like to see on DVD, this is invariably the answer I receive and I couldn't agree more. A critically acclaimed yet short-lived Fox series (is there any other kind?), Andy Richter Controls the Universe was a zany single-camera comedy WAY ahead

Bravo Confirms Televisionary Scoop: Katie Lee Joel HAS Packed Her Knives After All

As I reported last week , news had reached my ears that Top Chef host/automaton Katie Lee Joel would not be returning to Bravo's hit culinary reality series for a second season. It's always vindicating when a story you've broken (and which subsequently was picked up by most entertainment websites) is confirmed to be true. So it tickled me pink when Bravo finally confirmed my story about Katie Lee Joel today, via Bravo's Vice President of Production and Programming Andy Cohen's blog : "I want to address something you may have heard, that Katie Lee Joel wont be joining us next season on Top Chef . It is unfortunately true that Katie has left us to pursue other opportunities. She is a dynamic, beautiful woman who is passionate about food with a real zest for life. Everybody at Top Chef is going to miss her next season but she will always be part of the Bravo family." Quite possibly because Bravo has wisely already constructed a thousand clones of Ms. Joel,

Marvel's Civil War: I'm with Locke

Comic publisher Marvel's company-wide event "Civil War" has gotten a lot of attention in the mainstream press, including in that bastion of old school journalism, The New York Times . The highly political (and socially relevant) storyline involves the implementation of a Superhero Registration Act, forcing masked vigilantes--and all superheroes--to be registered, trained, and placed on governmental payroll... or be arrested. On opposing sides of the issue are longtime Marvel mainstays Captain America and Iron Man, whose disagreement has caused a crisis of conscience in the Marvel U. While I've seen a lot of "Civil War" banners touting "I'm with Iron Man" (pro-registration) or "I'm with Captain America" (anti-registration), I found the below image the ideal one for me, as it combined my love of sweeping comic crossovers with my all-consuming obsession with ABC's Lost . Personally, I think Locke would be in the battle for himsel

Dead Pilots Not Quite So Dead at ABC and FOX?

It seems in Hollywood, dead doesn't always mean dead. The Hollywood Reporter has learned that several passed-over pilots have secretly extended actor option deals, indicating that there may be life left in some of these believed-to-be-deceased shows. These pilots include ABC's Secrets of a Small Town , October Road , and A House Divided, as well as FOX dramas Damages and Beyond . Options on Damages stars Cole Hauser and Sarah Shahi were picked up. However, one of the pilot's others stars has already been cast in another FOX drama pilot. Kristin Lehman ( Killer Instinct ) recently signed on to star in Tim Minear's faux reality series Drive (think a fictionalized version of The Amazing Race ), which is said to be under consideration at the network for early 2007. (Lehman joins an ensemble cast that includes Ivan Sergei, Shawn Hatosy, Alan Ruck, Melanie Lynskey, Taryn Manning, Nicholas Lea, and Brian Bloom, among others.) Does this mean that audiences will get to see

Babysitting the Kids in "Hell's Kitchen"

If you missed the first half of last night's episode of Hell's Kitchen , I think the below video aptly sums up the chaos and confusion. "Restaurant" Hell's Kitchen held its first lunch service and opened its doors to an army of screaming, sugar-jonesing demon children who promptly trashed the place. That pretty much covers it. Well, except for the fact that Rachel confused egg wash with egg whites and begged for ice, Virginia flirted with Gordon Ramsay like a teenage coquette, and Sara acted a thousand times more immature and irritating than any one of the above children as she continued to sabotage her own team... Meanwhile, Heather had her hands full with the "kids" on her new team. The guys didn't seem to do much better than the women, though Heather's presence seemed to rein them in a little at first, but soon the team returned to its typical devices: Tom started a kitchen fire, Garrett sent out food without tasting it for seasoning, and ever

Pilot Inspektor: CBS' "Smith"

I may just have to change my original "What I'll Be Watching This Fall" post, as I sat down and finally watched CBS' new crime drama Smith this weekend. (What? It's taken me a long time to make my way through the stack of pilot DVDs.) While it's on following Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars on Tuesday nights (10 pm ET/PT, to be exact), I'm going to be sure to leave enough room on my TiVo to make sure that I catch this compelling, amoral drama. While one can't help but be impressed by what might just be the most marquee-friendly cast in primetime--Ray Liotta, Virginia Madsen, Jonny Lee Miller, Amy Smart, Simon Baker, and Franky G all star and Shohreh Aghdashloo has a recurring role--the pilot's premise alone earned major points in my book: it's a crime drama from the point of view of the criminals, who engage in high-stakes heists. But don't be alarmed; it's nothing like NBC's short-lived Heist . Instead, think of it as The Italian

"Lucky Louie" Could Use More Humor Than Luck

I had high hopes for Lucky Louie , HBO's answer to the traditional sitcom of yesteryear. After all, HBO had redefined the television drama and sitcom, dazzling us with such forms as the mobster drama, the family drama, the single girl in the city dramedy, and, um, the western cowboy drama. But could HBO pull off a traditional sitcom? I was curious to see how it would hold up, given the pay cabler's typically high standards. After all, as they say, it's not TV, it's HBO. Coming on the heels of a small renaissance of single-camera comedies like Arrested Development , Scrubs , The Office , and My Name is Earl , HBO's Lucky Louie is a throwback to the artificial lighting and three-sided set design of the classic multi-camera sitcom. And yes, it even is filmed before a live studio audience, as we're reminded at the start of each episode. I only wish the audience would stop cackling at every f-bomb dropped by the show's star, stand-up comedian Louis C.K. They rea

Channel Surfing: 6.23.06

Futurama to Live Again... in the Future Comedy Central, which previously bought the rights to air 72 Futurama episodes last fall, have now pacted with studio Twentieth Century Fox Television to air 13 brand new episodes. The episodes, which will feature the voice talents of series stars Billy West, Katey Sagal, and John DiMaggio, will soon begin production and are expected to air on the cable network in 2008. Really? 2008? Wow. I knew that animation took a long time to produce, but that's a long time to wait for some new Fry and Bender material. Huff is Snuffed Showtime has decided not to renew the critically acclaimed dramedy Huff , which stars Hank Azaria as a disturbed psychologist. Oliver Platt and Blythe Danner also starred. The news comes as Huff concludes its second season on Sunday night and is surprising in light of the seven Emmy nominations that the show received for its freshman season. FOX Gets (Typical) Jump on Fall As anticipated, Fox will launch their fall schedul

On the Road with "Dane Cook's Tourgasm"

Summertime is officially here as of yesterday and with it comes picnics, fireworks, and drunken night swimming. Oh, and that most American of pastimes: the road trip. What's that, you say, a road trip ? True, with gas prices at the pumps soaring away, it seems like many red-blooded Americans are staying closer to home this summer. So if you're not planning on driving cross-country (or even across state lines) this summer, then why not take a road trip from the comfort of your living room couch? Besides, what better road trip companion could there be than Mr. Comedy himself, Dane Cook? I'm talking about HBO's new documentary series Dane Cook's Tourgasm , directed and executive produced by Dane Cook. If you're over the age of forty, I'll excuse you for not knowing who Dane Cook is, but college kids across the U.S. have embraced the kinetic comedian. His sophomore comedy album, "Retaliation," debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 and quickly ma

The Scandalous 1980s Musical Past of Ricky Gervais Caught on Tape

It's pretty rare that I am actually speechless. I don't know what to say after watching this clip of The Office 's Ricky Gervais' appearance on UK talk show Room 101. Let me put it this way: our very own David Brent (that would be Gervais, natch) was in a band called Seona Dancing and filmed this 1984 music video for their song "Bitter Heart." Watch it and you'll catch a seriously baby-faced Gervais and a rare glimpse of genius. Or at least of 1980s- inspired madness. It's no "Free Love on the Freelove Highway" but just... wow. Seriously, wow. (Special thanks to Televisionary reader Whitney for bringing this rare gem to my attention.)

"Lovespring" Springs into Action

Given the popularity and success of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm (and on the feature side, the films of Christopher Guest), network execs continue to look for series that feature improvisational comedy. After all, they're usually inexpensive to produce and, well, networks don't actually have to pay any writers per se. Making it a very attractive model, which might explain why every now and then series like ABC's Sons & Daughters or Lifetime's Lovespring International try to grab that crown from Curb 's Larry David. While Lovespring is far from perfect, it is a fun, frothy treat perfect for summertime ingestion. Rather like a beachside pina colada, in fact. Created by Guy Shalem and Brad Isaacs, Lovespring follows the travails of the professionals at Lovespring International, Beverly Hills' premiere dating service... which just happens to be based in the Los Angeles suburb of Tarzana. That the professional matchmakers are just as clueless as their clie

Katie Lee Packs Her Knives: Breaking News from Bravo's "Top Chef"

The android has left the building. Or the test kitchen, anyway. Top Chef 's robotic host Katie Lee Joel, the veritable "Uptown Girl" herself (pictured at left), will NOT be sticking around for a second course of Bravo's hit culinary competition. According to a well-placed insider, Joel will "not be returning" to the show. No reason for her departure was cited. Unfortunately, the perfect replacement for Joel, Top Chef judge and professional chef Tom Colicchio, will not be taking over as the reality series' host (damn!). Instead, the show's producers are currently scouring to find a replacement for Joel. Top Chef 's second season was announced by Bravo last month, but no return date has been set for the series' ten-episode sophomore season. Stay tuned as this story develops. UPDATE (6/27): Bravo has now confirmed the above story .

Hold The Ballots: An Emmy Award Wish List

Summertime in Hollywood brings us many things: repeats, reality shows, and full-page Emmy campaign ads in the trades. But with the deadline to turn in Emmy nominating ballots rapidly approaching (um, it's at the end of today, in fact), I thought I'd take this opportunity to come up with a few awards of my own that unfortunately didn't quite make it onto this year's Emmy ballot. And since the results of my little poll numbered only one (myself), I didn't think I needed to call in the services of accounting firm Ernst & Young to tabulate the results. Sorry, guys. Unlike the actual Emmy Awards telecast, I've pared down the show to just the actual awards handout (no monologues, musical performances, or montages here, folks), so without further ado, the winners are... Best TV Non-Couple Couple: The Office 's John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer While The Office is easily one of the most hysterical shows on television, the ongoing will-they-or-won't-they rom

James Cameron's "Aquaman" Reels In Record Opening

James Cameron has another mega-sized hit on his hands, landing the "biggest box office splash in history!" HBO, the network behind Hollywood insider comedy Entourage, has taken out a two-page splash in today's Variety "announcing" the $116,844,114 weekend box office for the series' fictional feature film Aquaman , which stars Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) as the underwater superhero . While it's hard to believe that the three-day box office managed to top that of fellow superhero Spiderman 's mammoth bow (despite, um, rolling blackouts in the Valley and the Westside), it's good to know the Titanic director isn't above boasting about a HUGE opening weekend, even if it is for a fictional film. You've got to love meta-theatrical twists. Especially when they find their way into cleverly disguised trade publication advertising.

Reality Check: No "Treasure" at the End of This Race

Those of you looking for a summer replacement for The Amazing Race would do better than turn to Treasure Hunters , NBC's ambitious yet deeply flawed reality series which premiered last night. I had high expectations for the show as previews made the series seem like a global scavenger hunt tinged with cast-off motifs from production company Imagine's The Da Vinci Code . While the actual treasure at the end of the race isn't clearly defined, fortunately, it won't be Tom Hanks' hairstyle. My concern was immediately triggered right at the start of the show. My first clue? Treasure Hunters ' product placement elements are so overt and obvious that there's no point in even referring to them in ad-speak as "integration." The three items that each team are given at the start of the race are a Motorola RAZR phone (more on that in a sec), a laptop computer that seems to link directly to web search portal, and a Visa card. So, no maps, compasses, o

No Los Angeles "Reservations" for Anthony Bourdain

I was feeling a bit glum when I noticed (via my TiVo's To Do List) that tonight's episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations would be the last original episode for a while. Bourdain's show is, after all, the highlight of my Monday evening television . So I was quite excited to run into Tony himself yesterday morning at the Hollywood Farmers Market (the one on Ivar), signing copies of his latest book, "The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones." Anyone who watches No Reservations (or has read "Kitchen Confidential") knows that Tony is not the most, um, people-friendly person around. So it was quite a sight to see the man that once ate a cobra's still-beating heart looking a little out of his element: too-wide smile plastered on his face, posing for the cameras, greeting fans, and signing copies of his latest book. You could tell just by looking at him that he was simply dying inside for a cigarette. Or a large drink.

Comics "Authority" Warren Ellis to Pen Original Series for AMC Network

I was initially surprised when AMC announced late last year that they intended to enter into the original programming route, particularly scripted series. But my jaw dropped last night when I learned who was developing a show with the network: British writer Warren Ellis, better known to many as a god among comic writers. (Full disclosure: Yes, I am a comic geek.) For those of you not familiar with Warren Ellis or his outstanding body of work, he's an extremely prolific comics writer whose work touches upon sociopolitical commentary. Some of his best known works include "Planetary" (penciled by Joss Whedon 's "Astonishing X-Men" collaborator John Cassaday), "The Authority," "Global Frequency" (which had been developed by John Rogers of Kung Fu Monkey fame as a pilot for the WB two seasons ago), "Excalibur" (starring my favorite X-Man--along with Joss Whedon's--Kitty Pryde), and "Transmetropolitan." And if you, my