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Showing posts from September, 2006

Televisionary Rant: "MI:5" (a.k.a. "Spooks") Vanishes Right Off A&E Schedule

I was all excited to watch MI-5 tonight. While it's on at 11 pm and, though preceded by two and a half hours of Doctor Who tonight, I couldn't wait to catch up on those daring Brit spies and whatever dastardly plot they're foiling this week. Hell, I even wrote about the espionage drama this morning. And then A&E had to go and mess up all of my carefully laid TiVo plans. The cabler, better known for reality fare like Dog the Bounty Hunter and Criss Angel, Mindfreak than top-notch quality programming from across the pond, has decided in its infinite wisdom to pull tonight's episode of MI-5 --and all subsequent episodes--and burn off the fourth series on Saturday, October 21st, airing the remaining episodes (um, that would be all of them other than the two-part premiere) in a single eight-hour block during the day. Um, wow. Really, thanks, A&E, for depriving the American audience of a quality drama like MI-5 and relegating it to burn-off status on a weekend a

From Across the Pond: "MI-5" (a.k.a. "Spooks")

No one ever said that the spy trade was a particularly easy or, um, long-lived profession to go into. The pay isn't great, the hours are long (particularly if you're Jack Bauer, there isn't even time for a bathroom break), the conditions are downright dangerous, and the survival rate is pretty bleak. Especially, that is, for the operatives on the smart and sleek British import MI-5 (or as it's know on the other side of the pond, Spooks ). Their life expectancy is somewhere around 1 or 2 seasons of the show, if they're lucky. Their lives are nasty, brutish (and British), and short and it goes without saying that on a show like MI-5 , no one is safe. Part of the excitement of the show is the danger that accompanies it. Any one of the characters can be killed off at any time, without warning and without sentiment from the series' producers. I realized this quite early on in the series' second episode when a female spy (Lisa Faulkner) whom I believed to be a se

Making Over "Veronica Mars": Our Fave Sleuth Gets New Opening Credits

I couldn't help but sneak a break at work today to take a little peek at the third season premiere of perennial Televisionary fave, Veronica Mars , courtesy of MSN and Veronica 's new home on the CW. While I'll wait to discuss the actual episode until after its broadcast on Tuesday night, you can preview the episode ("Welcome Wagon") in its entirety here . (But don't forget that we want to keep Veronica Mars ' broadcast numbers up, especially in the first week, so if you do watch it online, be sure to tune in to the actual broadcast as well.) But as we're not talking about the episode itself, can I just share with you how completely fixated on the series' new opening credit sequence I am? How very out with the old and in with the new. It's only fitting that our girl, now off to university, should get a makeover as dynamic and funky as she is. Because, let's be honest, the old sequence's notebook paper motif wouldn't work as well out

Observing the Others: The "Lost" Season Three Premiere Trailer

Was it just me or did the preview for next week's third season premiere of Lost ("A Tale of Two Cities") give you goosebumps? I wasn't going to watch the umpteenth recap special for Lost last night ("A Tale of Survival"), I really wasn't. TiVo knew to record it and I had a feeling it would sit there, taunting me from the hard drive, for the next week. But I ended up coming home from work after a way too long (and far too stressful) day, popped on America's Next Top Model for some mindless comfort, and the next thing I knew I had been sucked into yet another recap episode. First, can I just say that Michael Emerson--whether or not he appears on screen is immaterial--scares the bejesus out of me? His narration last night was haunting and melodic and completely in fitting with the series. But was anyone else surprised that Boone and Shannon (hell, and Libby) failed to make the cut and appear in the linear-style retelling of the past two seasons of Lo

Final Four Designers Play Peek-a-Boo on "Project Runway"

After two weeks, we finally got our final four showdown on last night's Project Runwa y . Or did we? In a rather (un)expected twist, the final four contestants--that would be Michael, Uli, Laura, and Jeffrey for those of you asleep by 10 pm--went head to head in a challenge that tested their creativity and sense of self, only to discover that none of them would be auf wiedersehen 'd by Heidi and they would all present collections at New York's Fashion Week in Bryant Park. And thank god it turned out that way because I was more than concerned that Michael was going to be the one booted after he seemed to spend the majority of Day One still sketching and trying to figure out what he was doing. Big mistake on his part to select a gown for presenting to the judges (especially when the prize was an actual page in Elle magazine with the winning design photographed by a top fashion photog). Everyone--especially Michael Kors--knows that Michael's strength is in his sportswe

The Long Morrow: Has "Gilmore Girls" Returned to Form?

It was with some trepidation that I sat down last night to watch the season premiere of Gilmore Girls . After all, creator Amy Sherman Palladino and hubby Daniel Palladino are gone now and their departure cast a rather large pall over this once mighty series and I hadn't exactly had a lot of confidence in their replacement, David Rosenthal, whose two episodes to date had left me cold. Could this be a fresh start for the Gilmore Girls that I knew and loved? Perhaps. I'll admit that I was a little concerned during beginning of the Girls ' seventh season premiere ("The Long Morrow") last night. The opening scenes seemed weak, ineffectual, and clunky and, even worse, they seemed vaguely similar to the frustrating, hot mess that was Season Six. (Look, it's Amy and Daniel... and they're running out the door and taking any narrative sense with them!) We've seen Lorelai sleep with the wrong guy and then sulk and pout before, we've seen Sookie babble on en

Ryan Murphy and Brad Pitt to Wrangle "4 oz." for FX

Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy and producer Brad Pitt have sold a new drama, 4 oz. , to cabler FX that will chart the ongoing metamorphosis of a married sportswriter and father of teenage sons who decides that he wants to live his life as a woman. According to Murphy, the series will have a natural five-season arc for the series that will also focus on the married transsexual's teenage sons. Says Murphy: "The first season deals with the revelation of his secret. In the second season, he begins dressing like a woman. The third covers the surgery, and his inherent doubts about going through with it, and by the fourth season, he's living as a woman and attempting to find love." And in case you couldn't figure out that wacky title, the measurement refers to the average weight of a penis, according to Murphy. Hmmm, given the surgical subject matter, think there's any possibility for a crossover with the gang at McNamara/Troy?

Second Take: NBC's "Heroes"

Deja Tube. It's that feeling that you've already experienced a show on television before. Back in May, I reviewed the original pilot of NBC's new superhero drama Heroes ... and I was rather lambasted as a result of my negative review. While everyone I know who saw the pilot in Hollywood absolutely loathed it, fans of the show (how can a show have virulent fans before it's even premiered?) lashed out and members of the production staff assured me that what I saw was drastically different than what was scheduled to air in September. So I thought: I've got an hour. I'll take another look at the series and tune in for the "new" version of the pilot episode ("Genesis"). I went in with an open mind, cleared out an hour of my schedule (and my TiVo) and sat down, fully prepared not to let my earlier feelings cloud my judgment. Guess what: the version NBC aired last night was only minutely different than the version I saw. (Still no sign of Leonard Ro

Casting Couch: Rena Sofer Takes on Wifely Duties on "24" and "Heroes"

For a long time, the only thing I thought of whenever Rena Sofer's name came up was the ludicrous sight of her with smudged lipstick, clad in a cheerleader uniform on Melrose Place . But, ah, how times have changed. According to The Hollywood Reporter , Sofer ( Coupling ) has landed high-profile recurring roles on two series this fall. On the upcoming sixth season of 24 , Sofer will play the wife of a "shady power broker" named Graham (Paul McCrane). Sofer will also pop up on freshman drama Heroes where she'll play (you guessed it!) the wife of aspiring Congressman Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar). Which would make her the sister-in-law to Milo Ventimiglia's character. Let the 'shipping begin.

"We Gotta Do This Conspicuously": Mongolian Leg of "Amazing Race" Finds Teams Acting, Well, Conspicuously

I really don't want to make fun of the Beauty Queens. After all, it is a bit like shooting fish in a furry Mongolian barrel. But I just can't help it. Especially, when they issue proclamations like, "We gotta do this conspicuously," when talking about a furtive info-gathering mission at the station. Sorry, girls, but you're gonna have to be a little less conspicuous about fulfilling some stereotypes about blondes on the Race . That said, Dustin and Kandice almost walked away with the lead in the second leg of The Amazing Race last night... if they could have gotten a handle on where all of their Mongolian gear was at all times. Why exactly was that helmet so hard to keep track of? (I'd ask Erwin and Godwin the same question.) First place ended up going to uber-competitors Sarah and Peter, despite switching their detour task not once, but twice. I have some serious reservations about this team. I absolutely adore Sarah and think that she is simply amazing for

FOX Benches Frosh Series Before Baseball

The sly fox is beginning to look a little, well, shifty. FOX has put freshman comedy Happy Hour on hiatus until after it restarts its schedule following baseball during the month of October. New episodes of the comedy series (named "First to Fall" by Cynopsis) that no one has heard of, much less is watching, will return to the schedule on November 2nd. Filling in for the frosh laugher are repeats of fellow newbie comedy series 'Til Death on September 28th and October 1st. Also benched: dramas Justice (whose October 4th slot will be filled with a repeat of House ) and Standoff , whose slot next week will be filled with... something else. As for me, I go on watching television without noticing that any of the above had ever happened.

Branching Out: Jim and Pam Go Their Separate Ways on "The Office"

Sorry, Jim and Pam 'shippers, looks like you're gonna have to wait a lot longer to see those two get together. After last season's cliffhanger ending in "Casino Night," The Office returned last night with its third season premiere ("Gay Witch Hunt"). While many viewers thought that the show would find a way to get out of dealing with that unresolved kiss between office mates and would-be lovers Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer), the show's producers instead dealt with their lip-locking but didn't make it the focal point of the episode. That made me happy. I don't want The Office to become a distaff workplace version of Friends with Jim and Pam subbing in for Ross and Rachel. While I love the two of them together and am rooting for them with all of my heart, I don't want the will-they-or-won't-they suspense to overwhelm the rest of this brilliant and hysterical series. But maybe that's just me. I'll admit that the

Back Talk: ABC's "Six Degrees"

While I reviewed the original pilot of ABC's new drama Six Degrees here , what did you think of last night's premiere? Have we seen too many of those random strangers bound by a web of chance or fate series? Do you prefer Campbell Scott with silver hair? What in the name of J.J. Abrams is in Mae's box? (Please don't let it be a pocket-sized Scotsman with a numbers-fixation.) Share your back talk in this thread and tell me what you *really* think. (Come on, don't be shy.)

Recycled: Repeat Adventures in the Rag Trade on "Project Runway"

I hate repeats. So imagine my frustration when I realized that my beloved TiVo was correct after all (as were several of you Televisionary readers): last night's Project Runway was not an original episode, despite no warning the week before from Bravo. Le sigh. I've been looking forward all week to the final four, but alas. We'll have to wait yet another week for the first Kayne-free installment of Runway . I already miss the guy. Since it was a repeat this week, I thought I'd take the opportunity to take a look forward, if you will, at our final four contestants, whom it seems will be presenting their individual shows at Fashion Week at Bryant Park in New York City. A certain reality series producer associate of mine tells me that the current theory is that this year's final four will indeed be a final four and that there won't be the red herring of the past few seasons with the three finalists and the auf'd fourth giving shows. Heidi herself seems to b

Back Talk: NBC's "Kidnapped"

While I reviewed the original pilot of NBC's new drama Kidnapped here , what did you think of last night's premiere? Given the series' shared themes and overall conceit with FOX's similar (if less successful) drama Vanished , which do you think will emerge the clear winner in audience's minds? Or is there room in the American marketplace for two kidnapped rich people dramas? Share your back talk in this thread and tell me what you *really* think. (Come on, don't be shy.)

HBO's "Entourage" to Keep Irritating Me (But Not Enough To Get Me To Stop Watching) For Another 12 Episodes

It looks like Adrian Grenier will still be stopped by tourists thinking that Vincent Chase is a real person... at least for another year. In case you still cared about the Hollywood exploits of Vincent Chase and his entourage of hangers on and sneaker fetishists, HBO has renewed the half-hour dramedy for a fourth season of tantrums, threesomes, and Y-chromosome preening. The pay cabler has ordered twelve episodes of Entourage which are expected to air on HBO sometime early next year. Despite a rather lackluster third season, I'll still be tuning in. I just wish that the series hadn't become the very thing it set out to satirize...

From Across the Pond: "Saxondale"

Knowing me, knowing you. A-ha. It's very easy to think that Steve Coogan is Alan Partridge, the character he created and played on several comedy series including Knowing Me, Knowing You and I'm Alan Partridge . But if Coogan isn't Alan Partridge, neither is the boozy, bawdy Tommy Saxondale, the character he now portrays (and co-created with Neil MacLennan) in the new BBC comedy series, Saxondale , set to make its U.S. debut next month . Unlike the pretentious and preening Alan Partridge, Tommy Saxondale is a man of the people. Well, he's a man of a nation of one, anyway. A former rock group roadie, Tommy has become a pest control specialist living with Welsh girlfriend Magz ( Nighty Night 's Ruth Jones) who runs Smash the System, a t-shirt shop selling anarchist clothing, including a dubious line of t's featuring unexpected people (i.e., the Mona Lisa) smoking pot. Magz manages to ground the easily enraged Tommy a bit and keep him from veering off into a tira

Will Ferrell to Take "P.E." Class with HBO

Looks like Will Ferrell's production company, Gary Sanchez Productions, is getting into the television business. According to The Hollywood Reporter , Ferrell and business partner Adam McKay ( Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy ) have sold single-camera comedy project P.E. to HBO. The project revolves around a former major league baseball pitcher who returns to his Southern hometown to teach P.E. at his old middle school, where he is forced to repair the bridges he burned with his former neighbors. P.E. was the subject of a bidding war among several broadcast and cable networks before setting in at the pay cabler in what is said to be one of HBO's "richest development deals." The pilot will be written by troika Jody Hill, Ben Best, and Danny McBride, who previously wrote and starred in The Foot Fist Way , an indie kung fu comedy film that screened this past year at the Sundance Film Festival and which Ferrell and McKa

Back From Blighty

Whew. After a particularly whirlwind trip to London involving a few days worth of television-related meetings, parties in private clubs , luxe dinners in the nation's capital, and more than a few nights of champagne-fueled debauchery , I'm back in the States again and recovering from some sleep deprivation. I'm blaming it on a week of excess living. (Thanks, guys!) Special thanks first of all to Televisionary guest star "Christine Fortune" for pitching in whilst I was away and writing two superlative pieces on the latest edition of Bravo's Project Runway and the premiere of CBS' latest installment of The Amazing Race . If you haven't swung by to check them out and leave a comment or two, please do so now and make the lady feel welcome. So what did I learn from this particular crazed visit to my favorite city on the planet? Putting aside all of the work-related information I gathered, I just couldn't travel all the way to England and not catch som

"The Amazing Race" Still... Amazing

And they’re off! The 10th season of The Amazing Race started out with a bang last night as twelve teams raced from drizzly Seattle to bustling Beijing. Starting out strong were Peter and Sarah, a recently dating couple from California. Peter seemed a little tightly wound, barking orders at his partner during a brick-laying challenge. But Sarah, a triathlete with a prosthetic leg, was truly an impressive competitor. The team stayed at the front of the pack for most of the race until reaching the Great Wall of China where they took a wrong turn and unnecessarily climbed up hundreds of steps. Realizing their mistake, Sarah and Peter had to go back down again and then scale a wall to the first pit stop – a task that was particularly difficult for Sarah as her prosthetic leg made it almost impossible to use the rope loops for support. Not as impressive were Rob and Kimberly who took the early lead for “Most Annoying Couple” this season. Their constant squabbling is already wearing thin. A

Bidding Adieu to the Dubba-Dubba-WB

Sayonara, Michigan J. Frog. It's with a heavy heart that I'll sit down on Sunday night and watch the WB sign off. It seems like only yesterday (eleven years ago, in fact) that the little netlet-that-could launched and brought an (in)attentive audience shows like Muscle and Unhappily Ever After . For me, the WB truly launched back in 1997 when it started airing seminal series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dawson's Creek , two programs that more than any others put the fledgling network on the map for audiences and critics alike. But, alas, all good things, as they say... On Sunday night, the WB will take its final bow before rising like a phoenix from the ashes of What I Like About You to become the CW, another unfortunately monikered netlet comprised of the old CW and UPN, who are coming together to battle the evil forces of more dominant networks together. It's either a canny mix or a big old mess. Throw in some vegetables from craft services, as Carl Weathers mi