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Channel Surfing: "Dollhouse" Shut Down, "90210" Casting, "Doctor Who," "Fringe" Ratings, and More

Good morning and welcome to your Thursday morning television briefing. I ended up making it a fashion-fueled night last night with new episodes of Top Model and Project Runway and threw on the ABC pilot Single with Parents (starring Alyssa Milano) just for good measure.

What's up first today? Dollhouse, natch. Everyone is talking about the production shutdown on the set of the new Joss Whedon action drama, slated to kick off in January 2009. 20th Century Fox Television has shut down shooting on Dollhouse beginning tomorrow through September 25th so that Whedon can oversee a rewrite of the fourth script and get ahead on the next few scripts. News comes after FOX rejiggered the running order in July: Dollhouse's originally filmed pilot will now bow second, after a newly constructed pilot episode (which I hope to see soon). Does this bode ill for the series? No one can say but it does at least point to the reassuring fact that Whedon does seem to be involved with the decisions and agreed with the studio that the script "needed work." (Variety)

Catherine Zeta-Jones, Doctor's companion? Doctor Who executive producer/head writer Russell T. Davies, who is overseeing the four feature-length specials that will air in 2009 before handing over the reins to inbound head writer Steven Moffat, has indicated that he wants Zeta-Jones to play one of the Doctor's companions in a spin-off feature film version of the franchise. "Being from Wales myself," said Davies, "I would love to have Catherine Zeta-Jones as a companion for The Doctor." And it appears that the rumors of David Tennant signing on for such a feature may have merit. "To have anyone else [playing the Doctor] would be inconceivable," said Davies. (Digital Spy)

90210 fans, get your Brenda fix while you still can. While producers have signed Jennie Garth for another five episodes (in addition to the six episodes she was initially contracted to do), Shannen Doherty's run on 90210 will--at least for the time being, anyway--be reserved to the four episodes she had originally shot. "They asked me to do a lot more," said Doherty. "I'm in the middle of pitching a show, [so] I couldn't commit to more than [I did]." The CW drama, meanwhile, lost roughly 1.4 million viewers between the premiere and this week's episode. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

In other ratings news, FOX's launch for J.J. Abrams drama series Fringe garnered the top spot in the key adults 18-49 demo but underwhelmed with 9 million total viewers, finishing behind America's Got Talent (11.6 million). (New York Times)

Speaking of Fringe, The Los Angeles Times' Patrick Kevin Day offers up five tips to the makers of Fringe, including: (1) Give us a great villain; (2) Avoid the kissing stuff; (3) Develop the side characters; (4) Get gross; and (5) Have a plan. Do you agree with his assessment? (Los Angeles Times)

VH1 has ordered an untitled unscripted series from Ish Entertainment that will follow Antonio Sabato Jr. as he looks for the perfect woman. Series will be shot "like a soap opera" and will follow Sabato as he puts the female contestants through their paces with challenges "such as recreating a steamy love scene or skydiving in a gown." (Variety)

Lost's Tania Raymonde--you know her best as Ben's murdered adopted daughter Alex on the hit ABC series--has signed on to join the cast of Cold Case as Frankie Rafferty, a funky lab tech and potential love interest for the significantly older Danny Pino's Valens. Raymonde's first episode will air in November. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

Production is gearing up in Mexico City on Fox TV Studio's Persons Unknown--from creator/executive producer Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects)--about seven strangers who are taken from their everyday lives and wake up in a deserted town, where they are watched by security cameras and quickly realize that there is no escape. The cast so far includes Alan Ruck, Chadwick Boseman, Gerald Kyd, and Kate Lang Johnson and the series will be executive produced by McQuarrie, Heather McQuarrie, and Remi Aubuchon (Caprica).

TBS has ordered a third season of comedy The Bill Engvall Show, with ten episodes to bow next summer. (Variety)

Bravo is developing an untitled docusoap based around "hip and stylish" 18-25 year-olds in Orange County. The cabler hopes to start shooting this fall. (Hollywood Reporter)

Stay tuned.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Big Brother 10 (CBS); My Name is Earl/America's Got Talent (NBC); Smallville (CW); Ugly Betty (ABC); Hole in the Wall (FOX)

9 pm: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS); The Office/The Office (NBC); Grey's Anatomy (ABC); Kitchen Nightmares (FOX)

10 pm: Flashpoint (CBS); 30 Rock/The Office (NBC); Private Practice (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching:

9 pm: Kitchen Nightmares.

Missing the softer side of Gordon Ramsay? Tune in to the US version of his reality series in which he pull back struggling restaurants from the brink of closure. On tonight's episode ("Handlebar"), Ramsay visits the Handlebar Restaurant & Lounge in Mount Sinai, New York, where the owners don't seem to have realized that the 1980s came and went a long time ago.

10 pm: Tabatha's Salon Takeover on Bravo.

Yes, it's a complete and utter retread of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares with salons subbing in for restaurants, but there's absolutely nothing else on tonight to watch, so here goes. On this week's episode ("Images Salon: Oyster Bay, NY"), Tabatha Coffey tries to save another struggling hair salon, this time a Long Island strip mall hair salon, where styling skills and customer service aren't the watchwords of this business.


Anonymous said…
Very worried about Dollhouse but at least they seem to be taking the time to correct things rather than just powering through. I hope that all of the kinks will be ironed out by 2009!
I have nothing against Catherine Zeta-Jones but the Doctor's companion? Really? I just can't picture her rattling around in the Tardis with David Tennant.
Anonymous said…
Dollhouse news makes me nervous.

Too bad, re: Shannen - she's probably the main reason I am watching. :)
Anonymous said…
For me, on DOLLHOUSE, the question is why is Whedon directing the second episode? That's probably a big part of why they're so far behind.

Also, a "docu-soap featuring "hip and stylish" 18- to 25-year-olds based in Orange County?" You mean, like Laguna Beach?

C'mon, if you're gonna copy at least choose a different part of the country.

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