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Showing posts from March, 2007

Testosterone and Tantrums: Showtime's "The Tudors" Fails to Impress

I was really looking forward to Showtime's The Tudors . After all, it's got all of the things that I do love in a fantastic costume drama: a stellar cast, sword fights and sex, and a tumultuous period of history to draw from. So why does the series leave me so cold? I've given The Tudors several shots now to entertain and captivate me (I've seen various versions of the pilot over the last few months), but even after sitting through the series' second episode, I still can't wrap my head around what's missing from what's arguably one of the most expensive series ever created (10 episodes at roughly $38 million dollars, or so I've heard). I think it all comes back down to HBO's Rome , which wrapped its series on Sunday. Now that series managed to find the right balance between salaciousness and serious drama. Both series occur at critical moments in history, with corrupt politicians, immature leaders, and lawlessness the bon mots of the day. Yet

FOX Slows "Drive" to Six-Episode Initial Run

FOX continued to tweak its late spring/early summer schedule today, with a number of scheduling-related announcements that would seem to confuse even the most seasoned TV viewer. But the most, er, intriguing development has to be that the network has opted to split the 13-episode run of upcoming drama Drive , starring a slew of familiar faces including Nathan Fillion and Amy Acker, into two sections. Drive kicks off on April 15th but, due to the series' "tight production schedule," FOX will only air the first six episodes of Drive for now, wrapping its five week run on May 7th. Subsequent episodes will then air at a to-be-determined date later in the season. (Read: summer burnoff.) Due to the fact that On the Lot , Steven Spielberg's reality series ode to student filmmakers, is set to inherit the series' Mondays at 8 pm timeslot on May 28th (following a repeat of House on May 14 and the second half of 24's 2-hr finale on May 21st), some sort of arrangem

"We All Know What Happens to the Guest Star:" Nikki and Paolo Exposed on "Lost"

Oh. My. God. I've been begging for Nikki and Paolo to meet their maker but even I didn't see THAT coming. Last night's episode of Lost ("Exposé") presented yet another contrary view of their first 84 or so days on the island, this time from the perspective of cannon fodder Nikki and Paolo, who have--as promised by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse--become iconic figures on the island, even in, er, repose. I was thrilled to see yet another fantastic episode in a row (three and counting), especially once that hearkened back to the tone of Season One while also presenting us with something unique and challenging: the island's first murder mystery, presented in a style that reminded me of The Twilight Zone or (dare I say it?) Edgar Allen Poe. We also got some swift answers on what the hell has been going on with Nikki and Paolo (finally!) which finally made sense of their role on the island. Here's the precis: Yes, they were on Oceanic Flight 815. No, the

Promicin Time: "The 4400" Returns This June

Is it just me or does it seem like forever since we checked in with the returnees over on The 4400 ? (Was it only just last summer? Seems like a lifetime ago.) Fortunately, USA Network today announced a return date for the time travel series, set to enter its fourth season. Mark your calendars for June 17th at 9 pm, when Season Four of The 4400 kicks off on Sunday nights (making the separation from Battlestar Galactica a wee bit easier). As previously announced, Billy Campbell will return to the series on a full-time basis as the enigmatic Jordan Collier, joining fellow stars Joel Gretsch, Jacqueline McKenzie, Patrick Flueger, Conchita Campbell, Megalyn Echikunwoke, and Chad Faust. When last we saw the returnees , Jordan had stolen the stockpile of promicin and planned to distribute it to anyone who wanted to become a 4400. One such person was Tom Baldwin's son son Kyle (Faust) and Diana's sister (Natasha Gregson Wagner), both of whom seem poised to inject themselves with

Counter Torpor Unit: Can "24" Be Saved?

Is it just me or is this season of 24 a monumental disappointment? I'm sorry but I find myself wishing Day 6 were over already. Sure, Jack just managed to get out of a Chinese prison but that's no reason we should find ourselves trapped as well. Yes, we're in that vale of death known as pre-sweeps but still I was hoping for a lot more excitement than what we've been getting lately. So how can the show's producers get 24 back on track? Here are some pointers. 1. No more moles. You heard me correctly. Enough with the moles. Did anyone really think that Nadia was the leak at CTU? Um, nope. Instead, we had to slog through two episodes that had poor Nadia being alternately interrogated and ignored until some faceless guy we've never seen before (but who worked with Mike Doyle in Denver) finds the magic bullet and proves Nadia innocent. Bravo guys. You cleared the least likely suspect in the leak and managed to learn something about racial profiling in the proces

FOX Holds "Standoff" Until Summer

Apologies to the two or three remaining fans of FOX's beleaguered freshman drama Standoff . Looks like you won't be seeing the professional and romantic antics of your beloved hostage negotiators next Friday night after all. In a random scheduling change, Standoff will not be returning to the airwaves next Friday as reported and written about in numerous publications. Instead, FOX will be pushing the return engagement of Standoff until well after May sweeps, landing the show a June 8th return date and will use its intended Friday night timeslot to air repeats of House . (Though at press time, FOX had still not changed the date listed on its Standoff mini-site .) Before you start worrying about Ron Livinston and Rosemary DeWitt finding work with pilot season already in full swing, FOX has been very careful to avoid speculation that the series has been cancelled. Instead, a network spokesperson was careful to indicate that a decision has not been made on the future of Stando

Iron and Ashes: "Rome" Ends its Run on a High Note

With all the hubbub the other night with the season finale of Battlestar Galactica and a particularly fractious episode of The Amazing Race , I didn't want you to think that I'd forgotten about the series finale (sniffle) of Rome . If you haven't ever watched Rome , I'm sure the episode in question wouldn't have even caught your notice but for those of us who have obsessively followed the slow burn of Rome, with its intrigues, vendettas, and fractured brotherhoods, the series finale, which aired Sunday (to be repeated a zillion times this week and available on HBO On Demand), was the perfect ending to a near-perfect series, which rarely had a misstep in its two-season history. While I'm sad that this beloved series was drawn to a close sooner rather than later, I do have to admire HBO and BBC for acknowledging that it's far better to go out on a high note than draw out the inevitable with lackluster writing, subpar stories, and off-the-mark characterizati

Casting Couch: Behr is a "Company Man," See Locklear "Run"

Ah, the best laid plans. During pilot season, you sometimes have to jettison your original plans and do something different, sometimes extremely different, at the drop of a hat. Case in point: FOX's drama pilot Company Man (previously known as NSA Innocent ), which had locked up its lead in Stephen Moyer ( NY-LON ) as a family man who is unwittingly drawn into the world of espionage when he is forced to spy for the National Security Agency on his own company, a defense contractor. The pilot was slated to start production two weeks ago but after a table read proved, well, most likely disastrous, studio 20th Century Fox Television pushed the start date in order to rewrite the script and recast the lead. So Moyer out and... Roswell 's Jason Behr in? Apparently, the lead role and that of his wife have both been rethought (Behr will play Moyer's character and General Hospital 's Annie Wersching will play his wife), meaning that in this case both characters have been ma

All Along the Watchtower: "Battlestar Galactica" Reaches Yet Another Crossroads

Okay, so I had already seen the season finale of Battlestar Galactica ("Crossroads, Part Two") so it wasn't like there were any NEW surprises watching it again last night, but boy was I unable to get to sleep last night after watching that (not to mention the fact that it was coupled with an episode of The Amazing Race and the series finale of Rome on HBO). BSG has never shied away from the controversial, whether it be a daring twist in storytelling or a cutting reveal that you may never have seen coming. And last night's season finale was no exception, giving us not what we necessarily wanted, but what we needed. I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about the BIG reveal (well two big reveals) at the very end of the episode (remember: I did warn you not to miss the last five minutes), set to the haunting strains of "All Along the Watchtower," a fitting musical accompaniment for what was unfolding aboard Galactica. Yes, I'm talking about the fact

"We Bought Fruit": Cha Cha Cha Thisclose to Beating Charla and Mirna on "Amazing Race"

It's official: Charla and Mirna have completely worn out their welcome in reality TV. Last night's episode of The Amazing Race reinforced those feelings for me as, through a fluke of luck most likely unforeseen by the producers and travel specialists of TAR , Charla and Mirna not only managed to keep their first place lead over the other teams but seemed for a little while to be nearly a full day ahead of their competition. As it were, thanks to some weather problems, Charla and Mirna (sorry, but I refuse to call them "Too Hot to Handle") were unable to board their traditional African dhow to Zanzibar until the following morning (wahoo!), leaving time for Danny and Oswald to catch up to them. I'm still not entirely sure what the hell happened last night regarding the ongoing travel snafus as teams attempted to leave Maputo. Sure, there have been times in the past when securing airline tickets has been problematic at best, but last night took that to a whole ne

Watching the Watchtower: Yes, I've Seen the "Battlestar Galactica" Season Finale

Since I've already gotten dozens of emails today asking if I've seen the third season finale of Battlestar Galactica , I'll answer an emphatic yes here for all to see. That said, no, I can't tell you what happens and, no, I am contractually obligated not to reveal any spoilers, but all I will say is this: do not, under any circumstances (save maybe an invasion into your home by the Cylon fleet), miss the final five minutes of Sunday night's BSG episode ("Crossroads, Part Two"). The episode's final moments will blow your mind and forever alter the series, even more so than last season's wrap-up in which the show jumped a year into the future and showed our favorite Colonial Fleeters living on New Caprica. Uh-uh. That doesn't compare with the complete and utter mindmelt that's in store for Battlestar Galactica fans on Sunday. You've been warned. Miss it at your own peril.

BBC Announces Fourth Season of "Doctor Who," Trailers Online for Season Three

While those of us in the States still don't know when we'll get to see the third season of Doctor Who (paging Sci Fi !), the good news is that whenever the cabler gets their act together, we're eventually guaranteed a fourth season of the time traveling series, which currently stars David Tennant as the Doctor (more on that in a bit). BBC has announced that Doctor Who will return for a fourth season of alien mischief sometime in 2008. Writer/executive producer Russell T. Davies acknowledged the additional season order by saying, "Series four is officially existing. I'm very excited, but we have known for ages." What is under debate, however, is who will be playing the Doctor. Tennant has already filmed Season Three as the Doctor, his second time around in the role (he replaced Christopher Eccleston , who left after the first season and who has turned up as Claude the invisible man on Heroes ). Tennant himself has not answered reporters' questions

Locke Box: John Comes Face to Face with the Man from Tallahassee on "Lost"

I don't know about you but my jaw is still on the floor after last night's episode of Lost ("The Man from Tallahassee"), which finally answered some questions that have been plaguing me from the start of the series and raised more than a few new ones. I'd be remiss if we didn't talk about the reveal of just how John Locke got into that wheelchair years ago. While the obvious answer seemed like a car accident or similar, I am glad that Damon and Carlton twisted our anticipation of this and instead brought us an answer that was wholly unexpected. (Okay, I expected it as soon as I saw Locke walk into the room with large, floor-to-ceiling windows.) I am sure that no one out there imagined that Locke's putative father Anthony Cooper pushed him out of an 8th floor window when threatened by exposure. I never had Cooper, a notorious con man, pegged for a murderer, but he casually threw his son out the window and may have had a hand in the death of Peter Talbot,

Sci Fi Announces Autumn "Battlestar Galactica" Movie; ABC Locks Up its Lineup

Want more Battlestar Galactica ? Your wish is my command. Following its upfront presentation yesterday in New York, Sci Fi announced that it would significantly augment the episodic count for the previous announced fourth season of the show, increasing the installments from 13 to 22 episodes. Season Four of Battlestar Galactica is currently slated to launch on the cabler in January. If that wasn't enough good news, Sci Fi also announced (I'm sure in an attempt to sate fans' appetites for BSG until 2008) that it would be airing a two-hour Battlestar Galactica movie sometime this fall, bridging the gap between the series' third season (wrapping up on Sunday with an incredible twist) and the fourth season. However, Mark Stern, EVP of original programming at Sci Fi, said that, while the two-hour BSG flick (which will be released on DVD, separate from the box sets) features the entire Battlestar cast (read: Starbuck) it will won't necessarily relate to the curre

Casting Couch: Starbuck To Tackle "Bionic Woman" for NBC

Looks like there could be life for Starbuck after all. Or actress Katee Sackhoff, at least. Sackhoff, best known for her role as the (possibly?) dead Viper pilot Kara "Starbuck" Thrace on Sci Fi's Battlestar Galactica , has signed on to another remake of an old 1970s TV series, The Bionic Woman . The Bionic Woman 's pilot, co-written and executive produced by BSG 's David Eick, stars Michelle Ryan ( EastEnders ) as Jaime Sommers, a young woman whose body is reconstructed following a horrific accident. Like her predecessor, Sommers is equipped by bionic body parts by a shadowy government organization and gains superhuman strength and senses. While many pegged Sackhoff a natural for the potential series' lead (sorry, Starbuck fans, that's Ryan), she will instead be guest starring in The Bionic Woman as the top secret program's prototype bionic chick, one with more than a few mental health issues to deal with. According to reports, it's possible t

Try Some True Reality TV: Showtime Gets it Right with "This American Life"

It's funny how far we've gotten away from actual reality in our TV shows. In a day and age where we're inundated by so-called "reality television," in the form of shows where people fight for a million dollars on a deserted island or battle to become a top model (or top chef or designer...), watching Showtime's new series This American Life is a wake up call of sorts. After all, this is true reality television, in the very best sense of the word. Based on the much beloved National Public Radio series hosted by the soft spoken and erudite Ira Glass , This American Life is a collection of everyday people's stories, group together each week into a singular theme. It's a true vox populi, a confessional of sorts and it brings together a disparate group of people you would never have the opportunity to meet. On This American Life , Ira Glass and his team spend six months traveling the country in search of touching, heartbreaking, and/or humorous storie

FOX Orders Third Season of "Prison Break," Promises Actual Prison This Time

Michael and Lincoln might still be on the run, but FOX has opted to keep the escaped prisoners around for a while longer, ordering a third season of drama Prison Break . While the network is being coy with potential storylines for Season Three, The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that it's likely that Michael (Wentworth Miller) and Lincoln (Dominic Purcell) would return to life behind bars (i.e. prison) next season, along with several of their fellow fugitives. The series will feature the return of several familiar faces from the first two seasons, along with a bunch of new characters, many of whom will not be American. Those comments lead many to indicate that the brothers will be imprisoned in Panama. Prison Break 's creator/executive producer Paul Scheuring said that Season Three "essentially will be a new chapter. It's going to return to the fundamental conceit, to the roots of what the show was about." He also hinted that, while both Wentworth Miller and

Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves: FX's "The Riches" Explores Suburbia's Oddest Family

Teehee. I may have found my new Monday night TV fixation, a night which I've found to be sorely lacking lately with any dramatic tension (don't even get me started on last night's lackluster episode of 24 ). Looking for something different and a little dark? FX has got that in spades with its new drama, The Riches . The second episode of the series, which aired last night, put to right some of the problems of tone that the pilot episode had; instead of being darkly humorous or painfully bleak, it was all over the place. But that, boys and girls, is what happens when you smush two different pilots (from two different directors) into one single episode. Quick recap: the Malloy family are Travellers, gypsies and con artists extraordinaire. When Dahlia Molloy is released from prison (the sight of Minnie Driver in cornrows is hilarious), the family takes off with some stolen cash from the Travellers and is forced to hide out in suburbia after they inadvertently kill a married

"Is He Having a Laugh?": Ricky Gervais to End "Extras"

It had to happen sooner or later. Despite the fact that I've enjoyed every single second of Extras , Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's follow up to The Office , I've always known that like its predecessor, this would not be a long running show. The Office lasted 12 episodes and was wrapped up with a two-part special that tied up all of its loose ends, particularly the romance between Tim and Dawn. So I was curious to see what would happen if Gervais and Merchant actually created a third season of a show. But at the same time I knew the likelihood of Extras coming back for a third season (and outliving, as it were, The Office ) was slim to none. Sadly, we'll never know what a long-running Gervais and Merchant comedy would look like. The writing/producing/starring twosome have opted not to continue Extras , after all. Like The Office , the series will end with a special. That special, unfortunately, doesn't have a date or casting in place. A spokesperson for

Rats! Charla and Mirna Manage to Finish First on "The Amazing Race"

I don't know about you, but I am still bummed about Rob and Amber not being in the race anymore. Considering I was rooting against them the first few episodes, that's certainly saying a lot. But for the other teams, most of them weren't competing against one another but against Romber, the end-all and be-all competitors on The Amazing Race . And with them gone, I can't help but feel as though some of the teams had the wind taken out of their sails a little bit. I'm still hoping Danny and Oswald will win this thing, even if their calm exteriors belied a little bit of friction last night when they were doing the avalanche beacon task... and somehow finished last. But you have to give these guys some credit: they never let adversity get the better of them in the long run, and they quickly bounced back from the squabbling to their normal, buoyant selves. They genuinely seem to have fun 99 percent of the time and, despite all the craziness of the race, still find time

Is There Room for Yet Another Newsroom Comedy?

Is it just me or is nearly every other comedy pilot this season about the hijinx at a local newsroom? There's the 13-episode order for Action News , starring Kelsey Grammer, Patricia Heaton, Paul Campbell, Aimee Garcia, and Fred Williard, about the friction between two local news co-anchors in Buffalo when one returns after a sojourn in the "big city." It will be airing this fall on FOX and has been generating a lot of buzz here in Hollywood. (It doesn't hurt that the script it pretty damn hilarious and the characters are engagingly witty.) Then there's the Rick Swartzlander comedy pilot The News , about the goings-on at, you guessed it, a local news station, this time set in Phoenix, Arizona. That project, up for contention for a fall slot at ABC, stars Amy Yasback, Jay Harrington, Rachel Boston, Tim Conlon and Veronica Mars ' Julie Gonzalo. So I was a little surprised when I woke up this morning to discover that FOX had ordered yet another newsroom-set co