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Showing posts from November, 2007

Cougars and Bad News Bears on "30 Rock"

I think it's safe to say that, until 30 Rock came along, a comedy hasn't managed to perfectly capture my absurd sense of humor, love for Tivo-friendly sight gags, and tendency to fall madly in love with non-sequiturs since Arrested Development . And to think that the Emmy winner for Best Comedy was nearly canceled during its freshman season after just a handful of episodes. Where would we be today without the comedic genius that is 30 Rock ? Thursday nights can become a bit of a drag when it's populated by nothing but repeats. Fortunately, 30 Rock was there to lift my spirits last night with a hysterical brand new episode ("Cougars") by co-executive producer John Riggi that ranks up there with some of the series' very best and had me rolling on the floor with laughter. This week's installment juggled several storylines flawlessly, including Liz's doomed affair with much-younger-man Jamie, Tracy's war with Jack over an underdog little league tea

Family Secrets and Lies: The Darlings Reveal Both on "Dirty Sexy Money"

There's a certain vindication in being right that just can't be beat. I'm talking, among other things, about this week's episode of Dirty Sexy Money ("The Watch"), which I devoured last night. It was another brilliant installment of this fast, slick, soapy drama and, this week, presented an equal amount of over-the-top fun (Jeremy faking being a struggling artist in order to keep Sofia) along with a complex emotional story that painted in some of the backstory between Letitia and Dutch, along with the reveal about which Darling scion wasn't Tripp's biological child. Sure enough, my hypotheses so far this season about Brian being Dutch's child--which, yes, would make him Nick's brother--proved to be right on the money. It's only ironic that the hateful, spiteful Brian, who lived his entire life trying to drag Nick into misery and despair and who painted Dutch as a beggar at the feast, would in the end not even be a Darling. It's only

StrikeWatch: Day 26

Welcome to the 26th day of the WGA strike here in Hollywood. I had hoped better news would spill out of the talks held this week between the WGA and the AMPTP but, now that the media blackout has been lifted and the AMPTP's "groundbreaking" proposal has seen the light of day, it's not at all what anyone supporting the writers had hoped for. The AMPTP offered the following official statement: "The AMPTP today unveiled a New Economic Partnership to the WGA, which includes groundbreaking moves in several areas of new media, including streaming, content made for new media and programming delivered over digital broadcast channels. The entire value of the New Economic Partnership will deliver more than $130 million in additional compensation above and beyond the more than $1.3 billion writers already receive each year. In response, the WGA has asked for time to study the proposals. While we strongly preferred to continue discussions, we respect and understand the WGA

Dragons and Lions, Oh My: Heather Kicked Off of "Top Model"

A day later and I am still bummed that Heather was booted from America's Next Top Model . I was really hoping that Asperger's Syndrome-sufferer Heather would at least make it to the final two. I mean who else gets voted the Cover Girl Model of the Week every single week she's been on the reality competition series? I do think that Heather takes some of the very best photos we've seen this season on Top Model ... when she doesn't second guess herself. The dragon photo shoot this week presented its own complications, what with having to stand out amid the color and chaos going on around, but Heather managed to do just that even as she kept slipping out of masterful poses. Despite her inability to hold her own glorious poses this week, she has this amazing ability to be captured by the camera as though she is living in the moment. No overly forced "model" poses, no slutty movements. Instead, each of her photos offers an intense gaze, a slickly high fashion

"Truth Isn't Like Puppies": A Bittersweet "Pushing Daisies"

Is it just me or does ABC's deliriously deliciously drama Pushing Daisies have the best guest stars this side of 30 Rock ? Last night's episode of Pushing Daisies ("Bitter Sweets") was no exception, giving us a boffo appearance by Molly Shannon as taffy emporium proprietor Dilly Balsam and Mike White as brother Billy Balsam. If that's not outrageous stunt casting along the lines of Paul Reubens playing a scent-obsessed utilities worker, I don't know what is. Shannon was pitch-perfect as Dilly, a conniving, mercenary of a business owner who proved that she's willing to break any rule in pursuit of running the competition out of business, whether that's pretending to have a stutter, that she's legally blind, or calling in the health inspector to the Pie Hole. (Hell, she even messed with their neon sign to read The Pie Ho. Classic.) Still, I am not sure how Ned explained to Olive the entire room filled to the ceiling with rotten fruit. What possib

Well-Suited: The Designers Try Their Hands at Menswear on "Project Runway"

After four seasons, it's hard to get the designers on Bravo's addictively compelling design challenge Project Runway all flustered during a challenge. This group, especially seems completely jaded and underwhelmed by everything they encounter. And yet, last night's challenge--a first for Project Runway --had each of the designers floundering as they were forced to adapt while designing an ensemble for a TV personality. Just what was so unexpected and difficult about the challenge? For something that really threw the designers and forced them to think outside their own experiences and comfort zone, they were tasked with creating an outfit for Tiki Barber to wear on Today . Yes, ladies and gents, it was menswear and it was not going to be pretty. Still, I do have to say that I was rather impressed with some of the results though I immediately predicted that Carmen and crybaby Ricky would end up in the bottom two this week. (Is there anything that doesn't send Ricky in

Vote for Dave and Jasmine on "Beauty & the Geek"

There, I said it. I've made it known where my allegiances are: squarely with Dave and Jasmine. Last night's final elimination room on Beauty and the Geek proved not to be that at all, instead for the first time "in the history of Beauty and the Geek " booting the final two teams back to their hometowns for a change, allowing them the opportunity to see their teammates in their natural habitat. It was a nice twist in a reality competition that seems hellbent on redefining its own rules and twists, what with cash on the table to walk away (which no one actually ever picked up), a male beauty and a female geek this season, and the final twist: that "America" would decide who would walk away with the $250,000 prize. (Half of me just wanted the adorably clueless Jasmine to ask if Ugly Betty herself really had that much sway over their final fate.) It's pretty remarkable to me to see just how far Dave and Jasmine have come over the course of the season,

Holiday Gift Help: Own A Piece of "Buffy" History

Confession time: in my living room, above my entertainment center is a framed Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Once More with Feeling poster. It is, even after the years since this brutally smart cult series wrapped, one of my prized possessions. A Televisionary reader send in this link to a current eBay auction for another hard-to-find piece of Buffy history : a matted and framed original limited edition piece of artwork created for the final wrap party on Buffy . It features the regular cast at the time, including Sarah Michelle Gellar, James Marsters, Nicholas Brendon, Emma Caulfield, Alyson Hannigan, Michelle Trachtenberg, and Anthony Stewart Head in a sort of hand-drawn pre-Jo Chen piece that any fan would love to have. Auction ends December 3rd at 10 pm PT and the Buy It Now function is available at a cool $750. And with the holiday season swifty approaching, the perfect gift for any Buffy fan looking to add to their collection. What's On Tonight 8 pm: Kid Nation (CBS); Ch

"We'll Always Have Omaha": Bryce Larkin Returns on "Chuck"

Come on, you didn't really think they'd kill off the resurrected Bryce Larkin, did you? Last night brought us another great episode of Chuck , a series which has managed to get consistently better each week while slowly building a mythology of its own. It's a good thing then that NBC decided to order a full season of Chuck for the remainder of the 2007-08 season , huh? In last night's installment of Chuck ("Chuck Versus the Nemesis"), written by series co-creator Chris Fedak, we finally got to see what we've all been waiting for: the return to the land of the living of Chuck's former nemesis, Bryce Larkin (Matthew Bomer), the man who destroyed his life, got him kicked out of Stanford, and, you know, got to bed the woman Chuck is currently cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs about. To me, Chuck works most effectively when it seamlessly blends the spy action of Chuck's secret life with the over-the-top intrigues at the Buy More. This came together beautiful

One Foot in the Graves: "Journeyman" Director Hired for "Fringe"

FOX has found its director for drama pilot Fringe , from executive producers J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci, in the form of Journeyman helmer Alex Graves . Graves will direct the two-hour pilot and come aboard the project as an executive producer. He wraps his work on Journeyman next month. While I was secretly hoping Abrams would have time post- Star Trek to direct the two-hour pilot for Fringe (you can read my advance review of the pilot script here ), I do have to say that Graves is a good choice. Journeyman (and before that, The Nine ) had a distinct style to its pilot episode that could meld nicely with the intrigues, explosions, and bruised character interactions of Fringe , which charts the investigation of various paranormal phenomena by a female FBI agent, a mentally unstable scientist, and his estranged son. Production is set to begin in February on Fringe 's $10 million pilot. The project--from Warner Bros. Television and Bad Robot--has already rec

Buh-Bye, Twiggy; Hello Paulina

With only a few episodes remaining of this "cycle" of America's Next Top Model , prepare to say goodbye to one familiar face: living legend and fashion icon Twiggy will not be returning for Cycle 10. What's the hubbub? Apparently, Twiggy won't be back due to " scheduling conflicts ," which may be due in part to the reality competition's recent relocation to New York City. Replacing Twiggy Lawson on the judging panel is supermodel/author Paulina Porizkova , who will join Tyra Banks, Jay Alexander, and Nigel Barker as the regular judges for Top Model 's tenth installment. Porizkova, formerly the face of cosmetics giant Estee Lauder, recently appeared on ABC's Dancing with the Stars and released the novel "A Model Summer." "The show and participants will benefit a great deal from [Porizkova's] vast modeling knowledge and expertise," said Top Model 's executive producer Ken Mok. "Having an icon like Twiggy len

From Darkest Cardiff: Season Two of "Torchwood" Kicks Off in January

Addicted to the stylishly sleek sci fi drama Torchwood but worried about when Season Two of the Doctor Who spin-off will ever make it this side of the pond? Fret no more. BBC America has announced that the second season of Torchwood , its highest rated series to date, will launch not six months from now, but earlier than expected: January, in fact. The digital cabler unveiled plans today to return the hauntingly savage series to its primetime schedule on January 26th at 9 pm ET/PT. Season Two brings back familiar faces in Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles), Owen Harper (Burn Gorman), Toshiko Sato (Naoko Mori), and Ianto Jones (Gareth David Lloyd), along with guest stars including James Marsters ( Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville ), Alan Dale ( Ugly Betty, Lost, The OC ) and Doctor Who ’s Freema Agyeman. In a nifty bit of cross-country cooperation, Torchwood will now air close to its UK premiere. “Torchwood has legions of loyal fans in the U.S.,"

Good Luck, "Chuck": NBC Grants Back Nine Order for Spy Dramedy

Just like Bryce Larkin, you can't keep a good spy dead for long. I am currently jumping up and down with abandon and glee (much like a pigtailed six-year-old girl) at the news that NBC has granted freshman series Chuck a full season order. Yes, you read that correctly: spy dramedy Chuck , from creators Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak, has received the ever-elusive back nine order, despite the current writers strike, though the Peacock was quick to preface that statement by offering the alternative language of "the balance of the 2007-08 season." The announcement of Chuck 's full season order--and that of fellow freshman series Life --was made by Ben Silverman. " Chuck and Life stand out in a crowded TV landscape because they are smart, well-produced series with incredibly talented casts," said Silverman in a press release. "Both shows are hitting their stride creatively, have developed loyal audiences and offer unlimited potential to grow througho

U-Turns, Chickens, and First-Place Envy on "The Amazing Race"

I'm never typically a fan of so-called "twists" in reality series, though they can shake things up from time to time. After all, The Amazing Race is a great example of a reality competition in which the rules of the game normally stay the same from season to season (except the dreaded Family Edition) and that's absolutely A-OK with me. That said, I absolutely loved the inclusion of the U-Turn in last night's episode of Amazing Race ("Let's Name Our Chicken Phil"), a new game-defining strategy that not only lands one team in serious jeopardy but will reveal which teams need to resort to trickery in order to get ahead. In this case, when thrown into play, the U-Turn forces a chosen team to go back and complete the other half of a Detour. In the game's series of Detours, Road Blocks, and Fast Forwards (and, yes, even Intersections), it's an interesting twist that doesn't detract from the rest of the game. I had no doubt that if any team

End of the Road for "Journeyman"?

It goes without saying that NBC's time-traveling drama Journeyman has taken quite a hit in the ratings since it launched earlier this season. With only its initial order completed before the WGA strike began, it's always been suspected that Journeyman would wrap its freshman season earlier. In an interview with Premium Hollywood , Journeyman creator Kevin Falls ( The West Wing ) admitted that it was possible the series would end with its twelfth episode, given the series' low ratings. "Episode 12 is the end of our order," said Falls. "And let's not kid ourselves. It's a longshot that we would get a back nine, given the strike and our questionable numbers." Falls went on to say that the episode in question was written in a way that would tie up some dangling plot lines as well as leave the door open for the series to continue, should the Peacock look kindly upon the struggling drama, which Falls says is in a "much better place" cr

StrikeWatch: Day 22

It's Monday morning and Day 22 of the WGA Strike with no sign of a resolution anywhere in sight. As the writers strike enters its fourth week, the WGA and the AMPTP will sit down today for the first time since the writers went on strike three weeks ago. The session, scheduled to begin at 10 am today, will happen at an "undisclosed neutral site at a hotel without CEOs in attendance." Said talks will also occur under a news blackout. So far, there has been no indication about whether talks are set for Tuesday in addition to today's silence-breaking return to the negotiation table. The writers, meanwhile, resumed picketing at major studios today, after the Thanksgiving holiday. Shifts have been set for three-hours, with Warner Bros. getting the first shift as early as 5 am . Missed 30 Rock 's live show in New York to benefit the production crew affected by the strike? Read Entertainment Weekly 's report here and The Huffington Post 's recap here . And

Love (and the Smell of Cured Meats) is in the Air on "Chuck"

I'm back from Napa now, appropriately rested, well-fed, and wine-soaked after my recent trip to check on preparations for my wedding next summer. After a few days of fantastic food and superb wines, I was definitely feeling the sweaty shakes of withdrawal, having not turned on a television in several days. It was only to be expected then that I quickly rushed home with the future Mrs. Televisionary and we plopped ourselves down on the couch to watch this week's episode of Chuck ("Chuck Versus the Imported Hard Salami"), another fantastic installment in what has become a little mini-run of near perfection. This week's episode revolved around Chuck's new relationship with deli owner Lou (guest star Rachel Bilson), who may not have been quite as innocent as she originally appeared. I got a lot of flak from Televisionary readers for "spoiling" the fact that Lou was involved in a smuggling ring but, as I promised in the comments section last week, the

"Office" Baby Shower: Angela Kinsey Announces Pregnancy

Break out the saxophone-playing baby posters. At last, some good news for the cast and crew of NBC's The Office , which saw production shut down on the second day of the WGA strike during the filming of their final script. Angela Kinsey, who plays dour accountant Angela Martin, has announced that she is pregnant with her first child, according to a report in US Weekly . “She and her husband are very excited,” the Kinsey's rep told the magazine. Kinsey's husband is TV writer Warren Lieberstein, who has written for such series as Carpoolers and All of Us . He also happens to be the brother of writer/actor Paul Lieberstein, who plays Toby on The Office . No word yet if the series' producers will write Kinsey's pregnancy into the fourth season's storyline, though how hilarious would it be if the prim and proper Angela--currently embroiled in a love triangle with Dwight and Andy--had a bit of a paternity issue? What's On Tonight 8 pm: How I Met Your M

Switching Off: Televisionary is on Vacation

You read that right. I'm off, amid the WGA strike , for a much-deserved break and some down time. The future Mrs. Televisionary and I are off to Napa for some nuptial-related planning (June 2008 for those of you updating your calendars) and there isn't even a television in our hotel room. For those of you who understand that a television-free existence (even for just a few days) is akin to a form of Geneva Convention-forbidden torture for yours truly, rest assured that I'll return in three days' time, relaxed, wine-soaked, and ready to talk about The Amazing Race, Chuck, Pushing Daisies , Dirty Sexy Money ( picked up for a full season !), and Project Runway . Until then, stay tuned.

My So-Called "Quarterlife" Crisis at NBC

Perhaps looking to bolster its scripted slate for midseason (especially since its only scripted midseason offering, The IT Crowd was, you know, shelved ), NBC has signed a deal with Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick ( My So-Called Life ) to air six hourlong episodes of Internet drama Quarterlife . Second window of the series, culled from the 36 eight-minute installments streaming online on MySpace and quarterlife.com , will air sometime in 2008 after Quarterlife finishes its first season run online. NBC will also have the right to stream the episodes at NBC.com and help with DVD and foreign sales. It's been a long strange road for Quarterlife , which was originally developed as a TV pilot at ABC three years ago. Disney's Touchstone Television ultimately gave creators Herskovitz and Zwick the rights back and they ended up developing it for MySpace, producing the episodes with WGA and SAG talent. Ben Silverman expressed interest in the series in March, prior to becoming

StrikeWatch: AMPTP Agrees to Resume Talks with WGA

One piece of promising strike-related news: the two sides seem headed back to the negotiation table, at least for now. The studios and networks have agreed to restart talks with the striking writers on November 26th, though said writers will remain on strike during the talks, after the studios dropped their demand that the strike had to cease before talks could begin anew. It's rumored that CAA agent Bryan Lourd helped broker the agreement to return to the table. A joint statement released by the WGA and the AMPTP said the following: ""Leaders from the AMPTP and the WGA have mutually agreed to resume formal negotiations on November 26. No other details or press statements will be issued." (Both sides had agreed to a press blackout.) An email from WGA West President Patric Verrone, obtained by Variety , offered this statement: "This announcement is a direct result of your efforts. For 12 days I have repeated that a powerful strike means a short strike. [...

Trustafarians Rejoice: ABC Picks Up "Dirty Sexy Money" For Full Season

Forget what your parents may have told you: Vice does have its rewards. In a bit of a surprise move (albeit one that makes this jaded writer ecstatic), ABC will not kill critical, er, darling Dirty Sexy Money and has instead handed out a full season order to the freshman drama . The back nine order for the series, created by Craig Wright, comes amid the ongoing writers' strike here in Hollywood and is the first order of its kind since the strike began nearly two weeks ago. (Apparently, my constant prayers that the series would be picked up were heard by Steve McPherson.) Dirty Sexy Money joins fellow Alphabet network rookies Private Practice, Pushing Daisies , and Samantha Who? in the pickup line. ABC's confidence in Dirty Sexy Money , while well-intentioned, is perceived as a bit odd as there is no guarantee that the series will even finish shooting its initial 13 episode order, given the strike situation. However, a spokesperson for the network said that ABC is confident

Link Tank: TV Blog Coalition Roundup for November 16-18

Televisionary is proud to be a member of the TV Blog Coalition. At the end of each week, we'll feature a roundup of content from our sister sites for your delectation. This week here at Televisionary, I've been pre-occupied with the WGA strike (we even abstained from posting on Tuesday in solidarity) but my spirit was buoyed by the fantastic news that FX's Damages was picked up for two more seasons , the return of Bravo's sartorial showdown Project Runway (always a Televisionary obsession), the most hysterical episode of The Amazing Race to date, and a kick-ass episode of Chuck that featured Rachel Bilson . My mood was a little melancholy, however, at the prospects of a sub-par episode of The Office (the last original episode until the strike is resolved) and a less-than-perfect installment of Pushing Daisies . All this plus a quite possibly untrue rumor about Lily Allen joining the cast of Doctor Who . Elsewhere in the sophisticated TV-obsessed section of the

Capulets and Romulans: Last Night's Episodes of "The Office" and "30 Rock"

I am feeling really melancholy this morning after watching last night's episodes of The Office and 30 Rock , especially given that The Office 's lukewarm offering was the last episode of the NBC comedy that we'll see... until after the WGA strike is resolved. Last night's installment of The Office ("The Deposition"), written by supervising producer Lester Lewis, was shockingly low-key in comparison to recent episodes, which had Michael driving a car into a lake, kidnapping a pizza delivery boy , and attempting to flee Scranton on a cargo train . But it wasn't the restrained tone that bothered me (in fact, we don't need the histronics of Season Four's one-hour episodes in order to find the funny), but it was so far understated that the entire episode seemed strangely static. I've been calling for a return to more office-based humor and less field trips (unless they're organic like "Booze Cruise" or, hell, even "Branch Wars