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Showing posts from January, 2007

Boredom by Design: "Top Design" is the Bottom of the Barrel

Yawn. Let me begin by saying that I am an ardent fan of Bravo's many reality competition series. I get completely engrossed by Top Chef and I can't get enough of Project Runway . But I (wrongly) figured that Top Design , Bravo's latest iteration in this ever-expanding universe of lifestyle competitions, would be a variation on those polished series, produced by the whimsically named production company Magical Elves. The first thing I thought as Top Design began is that it's extremely obvious that another production company produced this series, as it's far less polished and put together than either Top Chef or Project Runway , which both look beautifully sleek and elegantly intelligent by comparison. Top Design is painfully slow at times (so much so that I wanted to stab out my own eyes), the contestants so far are tedious and lacking in personality, and the show is as exciting as watching paint dry... literally. While shows about fashion or food have a certa

We'll Always Have Comic Con: "Veronica Mars" Gets Up to Some New Tricks

Okay, last night's episode of Veronica Mars was, quite frankly, one of the single best hours of TV these past few weeks. Am I just still reeling from Veronica withdrawal , sure. But whenever Diane Ruggiero writes an episode, I always know we're in for a treat and last night's geek shout-out laden installment ("Poughkeepsie, Tramps and Thieves") was no exception, as Ruggiero managed to turn in a hysterical (and touching) one-off mystery that also managed to advance the overarching Dean O'Dell murder mystery storyline. (And to think the CW is doing away with the multiple-episode mysteries .) So what was up last night? Veronica was hired by Hearst College nerd-in-residence Max (Adam Rose, last seen in the episode "Hi, Infidelity") to track down Chelsea, the love of his life, who claims to be getting married and of whom he knows nothing about save her first name. Seems the two of them shared a night of deep connections and meaningful dialogues about

Casting Couch: Famke Janssen Cops to NBC Role

David Shore and Peter Blake have found their leading lady and it's Phoenix herself: Famke Janssen. The untitled NBC pilot from David Shore, creator and exec producer of House , and House writer Peter Blake is a light drama/police procedural revolving around a female detective and her colleagues in Los Angeles. (Thank god, not another Manhattan-set cop drama.) Famke Janssen ( Nip/Tuck, X-Men ) has been cast in the lead role of Christie Winters, a "beautiful" female cop in her 30s who "dresses well" and who gets paired with a new partner in African-American detective Luis Nelson. Fittingly, Christie meets her new partner at a crime scene on Mulholland Drive. (Again, thanks for the LA setting.) Of course, this being a light, female-driven drama, expect some romantic hijinx as well as homicides, as poor Christie, though a great cop, is hopeless at dating. (Though I find it hard to believe that anyone that looks like Janssen is ever starved for company.) The pil

Touched By an Angel: Eye Focuses on "Twilight"

Ah, pilot season. That time of year when your desk tends to overflow with more scripts than you know what to do with (and you've got the rather unenviable job of having to read and report back on every single one). And when you're reading and sifting through several dozen pilots at the same time, you begin to see some patterns emerging and it's not all that uncommon to experience that odd sensation of deja vu. Case in point: CBS has ordered a pilot of drama Twilight from Ron Koslow ( Beauty and the Beast ), Trevor Munson, and Joel Silver ( Veronica Mars ). The pilot, from studio Warner Bros TV, centers on a vampire who works as a private investigator who just happens to have a thing for a mortal woman. Wait, whah? Wasn't that a little series (and Televisionary addiction) called Angel ? You know, vampire takes over a private investigation firm, falls for living, breathing woman. All that. Meanwhile, FOX has ordered a pilot for drama New Amsterdam , a supernatural/p

Colonial Crack Ups: "Battlestar Galactica" Season 3 Gag Reel

Hungry for more Battlestar Galactica but unwilling to wait two weeks for another new episode? Salvation is here in the form of the Season 3 Gag Reel assembled by those lovely, lovely people at Sci Fi and the BSG crew. The thirteen-minute clip is decidedly NSFW so if you plan to watch at your office with the volume set to high, you do so at your own risk. That caveat aside, sit back and enjoy! Is it just me or is James Callis hysterical? And what in the gods' names is Edward James Olmos eating? Seriously. Lords of Kobol, there is something not all together right there...

Casting Couch: Liu and O'Connell to Pretty Up "Ugly Betty," While Vartan Set for CEO Role

Ugly Betty has added two actors for guest starring roles while Alias ' Michael Vartan returns to television in a new drama pilot. Lucy Liu and Jerry O'Connell (a.k.a. the future Mr. Rebecca Romijn) are set for guest appearances on ABC's hit comedy Ugly Betty . Liu will first pop up in the February 15th episode of Ugly Betty entitled "Derailed." She'll play Grace Chin, formerly known as "The Chin," an ex-classmate of Daniel Meade who was, well, rather frumpy back in high school (no Guadalajara ponchos or anything, but you get the implication). Now Daniel needs her help with a certain family matter and, well, The Chin doesn't seem to want to turn the other cheek. (Ouch, bad pun.) Liu is set to appear in two episodes of Ugly Betty this season. Also turning up in Ugly Betty 's "Derailed" episode is Jerry O'Connell, who happens to be the fiance of new castmate Rebecca Romijn (and was at one time the fat kid from Stand By Me ,

Don't Kill the Messenger: Intrigues Aplenty on "Rome"

I've been woefully lax in discussing the latest season of Rome , which kicked off on HBO a few weeks back and has completely captivated my Sunday nights (along with Battlestar Galactica , Extras , and Gordon Ramsay's F Word ). Deceit. Betrayal. Lust. Murder. Scandal. Welcome to Rome , capital of voracious backstabbing, sometimes quite literally. It's the second season of the beautiful and gripping HBO/BBC period series and also its last. Wait, what? You heard me. In perhaps a wise mood, HBO renewed the vastly expensive series under the condition that it would be the last and would tie up the storylines from Season One, creating a double-digit maxi-series spread over two seasons. While, on the one hand, I'm deeply saddened to know that there's only a few episodes left to tell the story of Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo and that of Rome itself, I do find it heartening that the series' producers (and creator Bruno Heller) had advance notice and could carve out th

"The Office" Wins SAG Award for Best Comedy Ensemble

Get our your Dunder-Mifflin snowglobes and Dwight bobbleheads and prepare to celebrate. Congrats to the cast of The Office , which took home the top prize tonight at the SAG Awards. The gang from Scranton scored Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, beating out the Wisteria Lane ladies of Desperate Housewives , those spoiled Hollywood players on Entourage , the fashionistas at Mode on Ugly Betty , and those suburban potheads on Weeds . It was also especially a good night for Steve Carell, who also managed to snag a win for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture for his work in Little Miss Sunshine , along with Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin, and Toni Collette. Congratulations, Steve. (I hope it makes up a little for getting passed over in favor of 30 Rock 's Alec Baldwin AGAIN.) TV winners included America Ferrera for Ugly Betty (take that, Felicity Huffman), the aforementioned Alec Baldwin for 30 Rock , Chandra Wilson

HBO's "Extras" is Extra Funny, Even If Nobody's Watching

I always get depressed when there's a series that I love watching that no one seems to talk about (or, hell, watch at all). In this case, I'm talking about the second season of Ricky Gervais' follow-up to The Office , the mordantly hilarious comedy Extras , which recently launched on HBO. Quick recap time: Gervais plays Andy Millman, a hapless extra, er, background artist who has been slaving away in obscurity for years and years with little hope of escaping a mindless life of drudgery and anonymity. (Hmmm, sounds like David Brent.) He's got a useless, boorish agent (played to great comic effect by co-creator Stephen Merchant, reunited here with his Office mate), no love life to speak of, and constant companion in his friend, the cute but clueless Maggie (played by Ashley Jensen, who has cleaned up and gone all glam as Christina on Ugly Betty .) The second season has brought Andy a modicum of success in the form of a BBC workplace sitcom called When the Whistle Blow

Shooting Stars Hollow: Is This The End for "Gilmore Girls"?

Hmmm, apparently there's something in the air. Following my post yesterday about why I think Lauren Graham would be perfect for Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino's new comedy pilot, The Return of Jezebel James , trouble seems to be brewing on the Stars Hollow set of Gilmore Girls . According to a report by TV Guide 's Michael Ausiello, the fate of the series lays in Alexis Bledel's pretty little hands and the younger Gilmore girl doesn't want to return for an eighth season on the CW dramedy. However, Ausiello claims that the network has a Plan B. (Now beware, ladies and gentlemen, purported and probable SPOILERS lurk ahead, so be forewarned.) Should Bledel not commit to Season Eight, the CW will reportedly look to refocus the series on "Lorelai, Luke and their new baby, with the occasional sweeps-month guest appearance by Rory." Ouch. That's a truly horrifically bad idea, especially as my fear is that Lorelai and Luke will conceive a f

"It Will Take More Than Paprika to Make Me Cry": Competition Cut to Two on "Top Chef"

What. The. Hell. Seriously. I can't get last night's episode of Top Chef out of my head and that's not a good thing, since I was particularly angry at the results of the first round of the season finale. Not since the wrongful booting of Allison over on Project Runway have I been this irritated by a decision handed down from the judges. And yet there's not much that can be done at this point in time. Suffice it to say, that I never thought that things would play out the way they did last night. So, read no further if you haven't yet watched last night's installment, because I'm about to reveal which two chefs made it through the penultimate elimination. One caveat: I really hate when reality show judges seem to place all of the weight onto a single challenge rather than taking into consideration one's abilities and triumphs over the course of a competition. After all, everyone has an off night, even a Top Chef. But to award Marcel a spot in the fin

Why Lauren Graham's Agent Should Get Her the Lead on "Jezebel James"

I might be sounding like a bit of a broken record at the moment regarding Amy Sherman-Palladino's new comedy pilot The Return of Jezebel James , but I just can't get Lauren Graham out of my head. Mainly because Graham would just be so insanely perfect for the lead role of Sarah Thompkins in ASP's latest project and I'd love to see Graham and Sherman-Palladino reunite on a different project, one that didn't involve a certain formerly beloved mother-daughter relationship going ever so unsubtly off the rails in recent years. Indispensable industry resource TV Tracker today released the first installment of their patented Track Vision (a boon during pilot season for overworked and overwrought buyers like yours truly) and listed Gilmore Girls as an "expected cancellation." Rumors have been swirling for months about the fate of this WB/CW dramedy staple, but after seven seasons and increasingly mounting production costs, it seems like this May will be the

Goodbye, Cruel World; Welcome Back, "Veronica Mars"

Can I just begin by saying how very happy I am to (finally) have the incomparable Veronica Mars back in my life again? It seems as though the space between these "pods" of episodes became nearly interminable. But the wait is officially over, as of last night, as Veronica is back on the CW (until they unceremoniously yank it in a few weeks again for The Pussycat Dolls: Search for the Next Doll , that is). In any event, I will count my blessings that we're even getting to watch the latest goings-on in Neptune since it seems as if Dawn Ostroff and the programming execs have it in for '09ers. But last night's episode ("Show Me the Monkey") was a breath of fresh air after far too many lonely Tuesday nights. While the episode's central mystery (recovering a stolen lab monkey that, well, hadn't really been stolen, per se) wasn't the series' best, what made the episode click was the snappy writing (courtesy of John Enbom and Robbie Hull) and

Casting Couch: Scott Cohen Reunites with Amy Sherman-Palladino on FOX

Because I've gotten so many emails asking me if I knew about this latest bit of pilot casting news, I figure I might as well share it with the rest of you out there. Scott Cohen has signed on to star in Amy Sherman-Palladino's comedy pilot The Return of Jezebel James for FOX. For those of us that follow such events, it's a blessed marriage and the reunion of two TV greats. Scott Cohen, of course, memorably played Lorelai's doomed lover and almost-husband Max Medina on Gilmore Girls . The two met at Rory's private school Chilton where Max was a tweed-wearing teacher and he and Lorelai nearly tied the knot (he proposed with 1000 daffodils in the days when there was an Independence Inn on the show), but she jilted him and instead took a road trip to Harvard with Rory. Ringing a bell? As previously reported, Amy Sherman-Palladino's comedy The Return of Jezebel James has been ordered to pilot ; it's about two estranged sisters who reunite when the elder si

The Knives are Drawn: Marcel from "Top Chef" Attacked

While I'm pleased as punch about the Oscar nominations revealed earlier today, I couldn't let the morning go by without sharing a piece of news from yesterday that I found completely shocking. I'm talking of course about Top Chef 's Marcel. For those of you who don't watch Top Chef (and really you should be watching), Marcel Vigneron has become quite the littlest villain Bravo's culinary competition has ever known. (Yes, he tops even last season's flame-haired Svengali Tiffani.) With the exception of Elia, every remaining competitor (and a few eliminated players) seem to loathe his very existence. Apparently, so do the viewers at home. According to the Las Vegas Weekly (found via Reality Blurred ), Marcel was recently attacked by an unknown woman at a nightclub: "The girl came up to me at a nightclub and asked me if I was Marcel from Top Chef . The next thing I knew, this bottle struck me, and my friends had to rush me to the hospital. I needed 3

Oh Happy Day: "24" Gets Personal for Jack

Looks like things just got a hell of a lot more personal for Jack Bauer... and if last night's episode was any indication things are going to get a lot worse for Jack's day before they get better. After all, this is 24 we're talking about here. If you were expecting a little breather after last week's nail-bitingly tense two-hour episodes, you were dead wrong. And being forced to kill his compatriot Curtis seems to have snapped Jack out of his funk, as it were. Well, that and a suitcase nuke going off in Valencia. But enough about that. What I am most interested in is what this all has to do with Jack's estranged family, which were finally introduced last night. Turns out Jack hasn't spoken to his father Philip (to be played by Farmer Hoggett, James Cromwell, himself) in nine years and the old fox seems to have gotten mixed up in some rather shady dealings involving those aforementioned suitcase nukes. But Philip seems to have vanished and the only person who

More Than Mystique on the Latest "Ugly Betty"

Um, wow. Seriously, just... wow. I don't know about you, but I did not see that coming. In perhaps one of the best plot twists on ABC since the hatch was revealed to contain a hard-living fitness fanatic named Desmond, the audience of Ugly Betty finally learned the identity of the mysterious Masked Woman that's been plotting a rather fashionable coup at Mode magazine. And, yes, while we knew it would end up being Rebecca Romijn all along, it was the reveal of who she really was that really had me gasping for air. Could it be that our mystery woman used to be... a man? Looks like Ms. Romijn has shifted a lot more in this role than as Mystique. Turns out that the Masked Woman is none other than Alex Meade. (Sorry, Alexis Meade now.) You know, Daniel's supposedly dead brother who perished after jumping out of a helicopter during a skiing trip and whose (mistaken) demise led to Daniel taking over as editor-in-chief at Mode in the first place. Whah? 'Tis true, though w

Casting Couch: Amy Acker Takes a "Drive" with FOX

Looks like the Whedon-verse is starting to come together again. Sort of. Actress Amy Acker, best known for her roles as scientist-turned-monster hunter Winifred "Fred" Burkle and monster hunter-turned-ancient goddess Illyria on Angel (and a recurring stint on the final season of Alias ), has joined the cast of FOX's midseason drama Drive . Drive , of course, is the brainchild of Tim Minear, who created Firefly with Joss Whedon. Whedon is himself currently shooting an episode of NBC's The Office to air during February sweeps. (Here's hoping that Pam's ex-fiance Roy, ably played by David Denman, will have a part to play in the episode. After all, he did recur as the demon Skip on Whedon's Angel .) Still with me? Here's the best bit: Acker will play Kathryn, the wife of landscaper Alex Tully, whose kidnapping by a shadowy syndicate forces Alex into the illegal (and very dangerous) underground race that propels the plot of Drive . And Alex is played

CW Proves Everybody Doesn't Hate "Chris"

I guess it pays to be hated. In a surprise move, the CW will announce later today that it will give an early full season pickup for comedy Everybody Hates Chris . The announcement is expected to come at the CW's portion of the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, currently underway in Pasadena. The early full season pick up of Everybody Hates Chris (a full 22 episodes for the 2007-08 season) is the first so far for the CW. Chris recounts the childhood experiences of Chris Rock (who narrates the single-camera comedy) growing up in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn in the 1980s. It was created by Rock and Ali LeRoi and stars Tyler James Williams, Tichina Arnold, Terry Crews, Tequan Richmond, Imani Hakim, and Vincent Martella. The full season pickup for Chris definitely shines a light on the strength of this superlative series, which launched in the fall of 2005 on UPN before moving over to the newly created CW at the start of the season. Meanwhile, I'm