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Showing posts from October, 2008

Noblesse Oblige and Strawberry Mouths: More Thoughts on the Season Premiere of "30 Rock"

I am really hoping that all of you watched last night's hysterical third season opener to 30 Rock ("Do Over"), which was available to screen online a week before the linear broadcast. (My original advance review of "Do Over" and the Oprah-centric second episode "Believe in the Stars" can be found here .) Naturally, being the obsessive 30 Rock devotee that I am, I rewatched the season premiere again last night (I think for the third or fourth time now) and once again fell under its warped spell. Considering the state of the economy, anxieties over the presidential election, and life in general right now, a dose of 30 Rock 's absurdist humor is exactly the panacea we all need right now. Among the moments I absolutely loved: Tracy shouting "Noblesse oblige" and then giving Frank gold nunchuks and Pete a chinchilla coat (promising a lot of "nice nice" while wearing it) for their work on Tracy's porn video game... and Jenna a

Breakups and (Creative) Breakdowns on "The Office"

This week's episode of The Office was a masterclass to me on how not to plot a television series. The latest installment of the creatively flagging NBC comedy ("Employee Transfer"), written by new writer Anthony Farrell, undid all of the creative spark the series had rediscovered by adding Amy Ryan to the cast for a brief time. And while I didn't imagine that Ryan would stick around longer than her six-episode commitment, I thought that the writers would be able to competently plot out her arc much better than they actually did. Why have her and Michael get together as a romantic couple at all, just to have them split up a scant two episodes later when they're confronted (off-screen, I might add) by Dunder Mifflin corporate about their inappropriate relationship? Ryan has proven to be a wellspring of creative energy and her presence on the series has imbued it with a fresh energy and a new direction for Michael's character. And yet the way in which she was

Channel Surfing: "Pushing Daisies" In Danger of Wilting Away, Mad Man Hamm Heads to "30 Rock," and More

Happy Halloween and welcome to your Friday morning television briefing. I'm still catching up on television from this week, thanks to a busy social calendar and some LA-based preemptions of CW's Wednesday night series, so look for me to spend much time this weekend catching up. I got many a worried email from readers last night about Kristin Dos Santos' report about the possibility that ABC had not extended Pushing Daisies beyond its initial 13-episode order. While ABC has yet to make a decision about the fate of the series, producers were told to change their original plan for the second season's thirteenth episode (intended as the first of a two-parter) and make said episode a stand-alone installment to "cover all bases," whether the episode be just the thirteenth episode... or Pushing Daisies ' series finale. (And be sure to read this item about what you can do to help the Daisies cause.) ( E! Online's Watch with Kristin ) Don Draper has found

Who Should Play the Doctor: Vote on Possible Replacements for David Tennant on "Doctor Who"

Who will pilot the TARDIS? While it's still possibly too early to guess who will take over as our favorite Time Lord on Doctor Who after yesterday's announcement that David Tennant would be leaving the series after the four specials slated to air in 2009 , I figure that I should push myself towards the acceptance point of the grieving process by looking at some likely contenders to take over as the Eleventh Doctor. Below are a few guesses, speculations, and (pipe) dreams about who could be in contention for the role of the Doctor once Tennant hangs up his pin-striped suits and specs at the end of 2009. But I am curious to see (A) if you agree with these selections, (B) if you have your own candidates in mind, and (C) which of these men (and one woman) you feel is best equipped to take over as the Doctor. Vote now! James Callis ( Battlestar Galactica ) He's enticed our imaginations and gone to some very weird places after four seasons as Battlestar Galactica 's

Channel Surfing: Cox Moves to "Cougar Town," Schneider Earns "Money," and More

Welcome to your Thursday morning television briefing. I'm still gutted by David Tennant's decision to leave Doctor Who after next year but my sadness was quelled somewhat by a gorgeous episode of Pushing Daisies . (Now, if only others were actually tuning in to watch!) Courteney Cox ( Dirt ) and Bill Lawrence ( Scrubs ) are developing a half-hour comedy at ABC entitled Cougar Town , which will star Cox as a newly divorced single mom, possibly on the prowl for a new man. Lawrence and Kevin Biegel ( Scrubs ) will write the pilot. ( Variety ) John Schneider ( The Secret Life of the American Teenager ) will guest star in a three-episode arc of ABC's Dirty Sexy Money , where he'll play a Congressman who puts Simon Elder in his place at the request (and, um, payment) of Tripp Darling. ( Entertainment Weekly 's Ausiello Files ) Ice Cube will write and executive produce an untitled one-hour buddy cop comedy for NBC and Universal Media Studios. It's possible that Cu

Paging a (New) Doctor: David Tennant to Leave "Doctor Who"

If I could travel back in time in the TARDIS and convince David Tennant not to do it, I would. Sadly that's not the case. David Tennant has announced that he will step down as the Doctor following the four Doctor Who specials planned for 2009 and that he will not be returning for the fifth season of the BBC series planned for 2010. The news comes as showrunner/executive producer Russell T. Davies and producer Julie Gardner are making to depart the series following the four feature-length specials planned for 2009. (Davies will be replaced by Steven Moffat as the series' head writer/showrunner.) "When Doctor Who returns in 2010 it won't be with me," said Tennant, upon accepting theoutstanding drama performance prize at the National Television Awards. "Now don't make me cry... I love this part, and I love this show so much that if I don't take a deep breath and move on now I never will, and you'll be wheeling me out of the Tardis in my bath cha

Fictional Constructs and New Romantics: Burning Questions from "Ashes to Ashes"

What with ABC's adaptation of Life on Mars entering its fourth week ( though, as I said earlier, the ratings are not good for the imported format ), I thought it was time once again to tackle my thoughts about BBC One's spin-off of Life on Mars , entitled Ashes to Ashes , which began production on its second season earlier this month. I had reviewed the premiere episode of Ashes to Ashes when it first aired on BBC One in February , but since then I've had the opportunity to watch all eight episodes of Ashes ' first season and fall under its 1980's New Romantics-influenced spell. What is Ashes to Ashes about? Like its parent series, Ashes to Ashes follows a modern-day detective seemingly sent back in time after experiencing a life-threatening trauma. In this case, the detective is DI Alex Drake (Keeley Hawes), a forensic psychologist who interviewed Sam Tyler before his suicide. When Alex is shot in the head by a stringy-haired perp singing David Bowie's &q

Channel Surfing: "Melrose Place" Could Happen at CW; Lionsgate Looks for New Showrunner on "Mad Men," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" Delayed, and More

Welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing. I did end up watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown last night, along with an absolutely hysterical episode of Gavin and Stacey ... and a snooze of an episode of 90210 , which literally put me to sleep last night. (A storyline involving wisdom teeth? Really?) CW and CBS Paramount Network TV are going ahead with the development of an updated version of Beverly Hills 90210 spin-off Melrose Place . The studio has not attached any writers or executive producers and original series creator Darren Star will not be involved with this adaptation. Personally, I like my Melrose Place where it belongs: in the past. (And is it just me or is it odd that Rob Estes starred on the original Melrose Place as a different character than he one he currently plays on 90210 ?) What do you think though: is Melrose Place 2.0 a fantastic idea or a foolhardy one? ( Variety ) Lionsgate is said to be exploring the possibility of finding a ne

King of Kong: Video Games Can Save Your Life on "Chuck"

So it's true: video games can save your life, after all. Just ask Chuck Bartowski, who proved my point on last night's episode of Chuck ("Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer") by reaching the kill screen of classic arcade game Missile Command in order to avert nuclear disaster (or sizable civilian casualties). While it wasn't quite as strong as last week's superlative episode, this week's installment of Chuck --written by Phil Klemmer ( Veronica Mars )--had more than a lot going for it, including focusing on secondary (or in his case, tertiary) character Jeff (Scott Krinsky) and fleshing out his King of Kong -inspired backstory (which involved being an early '80s video game legend... at least in the Valley) and forcing Chuck to interact with the Buy More gang for a change. This week's episode also memorably introduced efficiency expert Emmett Milbarge (played with aplomb by Arrested Development 's Tony Hale), who will be sticking around as the store&#

TV on DVD: "The 4400: The Complete Series"

There are a few series over the years who have gotten an unfair shakedown by their respective networks, canceled prematurely while still having a significant story potential in their bones. One such series is USA's The 4400 , beloved by its small coterie of fans yet largely ignored by the general populace. CBS Paramount Home Entertainment today releases The 4400: The Complete Series , which wrapped its run last summer on USA, in a handsome box set with a host of extras. I'm hoping that its sheer weight and heft (it's about the size of the last Harry Potter book) will entice some people who missed this smart and sophisticated series when it was on the air. Conceived by Scott Peters and René Echevarria, The 4400 told the story of a group of people pulled from the timestream at various points in the 20th century who were then returned to the present day in a great ball of light that seemed to fall from the sky. Returned to 2003, these people (4400 in number) began to disp

Channel Surfing: CBS Breaks Up with "Ex List," New "Daisies" for ABC This Week, Katee Sackhoff, "90210," and More

Welcome to your Tuesday morning television briefing. Hope you weren't too attached to CBS' The Ex List . The Eye has pulled the low-performing drama off of its schedule, effective immediately, and will fill the Friday night timeslot with repeats of NCIS for now. Decision comes on the heels of yet another batch of low ratings for the drama (5.3 million viewers and 1.5/5) and the departure of showrunner Diane Ruggiero. No word on whether production will continue (series is currently shooting its eleventh episode) or whether CBS will air the produced episodes later down the line. My thought is that they won't be going to prom any time soon. ( Variety ) Barack Obama's presidential campaign has decided not to enlist a full broadcast regime on Wednesday night, opting not to purchase the 8 pm air time on ABC, which will instead air an original episode of Pushing Daisies instead. I'm hoping that the fact that Daisies is one of the few series that will air original epis

Meditations in an Emergency: Truth and Consequences on the "Mad Men" Season Finale

I am still in awe over last night's superlative and heartbreaking season finale of Mad Men ("Meditations in an Emergency'). In fact my only complaint is that it was too short; even after 50 minutes, I wanted more and especially didn't want the season to be over, especially given that we'll have to wait until next summer to find out what happened to our beloved characters. Set against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis and its attendant paranoia and fear, "Meditations in an Emergency"--written and gorgeously directed by series creator Matthew Weiner--brought to fruition two seasons worth of storylines as we saw Betty attempt to gain the upper hand over her philandering husband Don, watched (mouth agape) as Peggy told Pete about her baby, and watched Don finally take a stand rather than keep his mouth shut upon being told that Duck would be the new president of Sterling Cooper following the merger. And no scene has been as powerfully moving or as pr

Channel Surfing: Alexis Denisof Heads to "Private Practice," Jessica Walter, Starz Plots "Spartacus," and More

Welcome to your Monday morning television briefing. It's currently freezing here in LA (well, relatively speaking anyway) but I am still shaking after last night's season finale of Mad Men , not to mention another shocking installment of Skins . (Poor Sid.) Former Angel star Alexis Denisof will guest star in the November 19th episode of ABC's Private Practice , where he'll play a father-to-be with two very expectant wives in need of Addison's specialty. In real life, Denisof and wife Alyson Hannigan announced last week that they are expecting their first child. ( TV Guide ) CBS is once again developing some rather, er, unique properties that aren't crime procedurals (did they not learn their lesson from Moonlight or Cane ?). Among the projects currently said to be in development at the Eye: Hex Wives , a one-hour drama from Neil Meron and Craig Zadan about four women with magical powers; 1960s period drama Magic City about an iconic Miami Beach hotel from ex

Link Tank: TV Blog Coalition Roundup for Oct. 24-26

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, I once again fell under the spell of Pushing Daisies and its goose down goodness , but wished that more people were actually tuning in to watch this winsome series before it gets prematurely culled by ABC. I also genuinely enjoyed this past week's episode of The Office (sadly, a more and more rare feat), took a look at the promo for Season Five of Lost , reviewed the upcoming DVD release for Doctor Who: The Infinite Quest , and offered my thoughts on the penultimate episode of Mad Men (for this season, anyway) and the latest kick-ass installment of Chuck . Elsewhere in the sophisticated TV-obsessed section of the blogosphere, members of the TV Blog Coalition were discussing the following items... How better to gear up for the US presidential election than with a West Wing quiz? ( BuzzSugar ) T

Auctions and Ultimatums: Crime Aid on "The Office"

I have to say that I really quite enjoyed last night's episode of The Office ("Crime Aid"), written by new writer Charlie Grandy ( Saturday Night Live ) and directed by first-time director Jennifer Celotta (who also serves as an executive producer and writer on the series), who turned out a gorgeously filmed episode and has proven that she's just as talented behind the camera as she is writing dialogue for the employees of Dunder Mifflin. (Well done, Jen!) While the Jim and Pam fluff bored to me to tears (is anyone quite as sick of these two as I am?) and the cold open was a whole lot of nothing, the rest of the episode was filled to the brim with the stuff I love best about The Office : genuine emotion (as opposed to forced or trite sentimentality), hysterical moments, and character growth. How fantastic was it that Holly tricked Michael into returning to the office so she could make out with him without the cameras filming them? (I also loved the fact that they d

Channel Surfing: Macaulay Culkin Heads to "Kings," Bravo Gets Stylish with "Fashion House," "Persons Unknown," and More

Welcome to your Friday morning television briefing. Just a few quick headlines this morning as I've been called to perform my civic duty today and have to drive downtown for jury duty. Macaulay Culkin will appear in a multiple-episode arc on NBC's midseason drama Kings , where he will play the nephew of King Silas Benjamin (Ian McShane) who has been exiled from the kingdom of Shiloh for mysterious reasons. Also slated to appear in the series: Miguel Ferrer ( Crossing Jordan ), Leslie Bibb ( Popular ), Michael Stahl-David ( The Black Donnellys ), and the previously reported Brian Cox . ( Entertainment Weekly 's Ausiello Files ) (Aside: I saw the pilot for Kings about two months back and while it was gorgeously directed, I thought that the pacing (it's currently scheduled to air as a two-hour) was glacially slow and could use significant tightening; I think it would be a hell of a lot more compelling at 60 or even 90 minutes.) Could Bravo be readying a Project Runway