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Channel Surfing: Echo Forgets in "Dollhouse" Clip, "Gavin & Stacey" Cast Talk, "Prison Break", and More

Welcome to your Monday morning television briefing. This being the week of Christmas, look for the television programming news to be light but we do have a few headlines to discuss. I spent the weekend catching up on some screener-viewing (episode 203 of Damages, for example) and preparing for the hols this week.

Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello has a sneak peak clip of Joss Whedon's latest drama, Dollhouse, which launches Friday, February 13th on FOX. In the two-minute clip, Echo (Eliza Dushku) has her imprinted memories wiped by Fran Kranz's Topher, who then engages in a philosophical discussion about the nature of his work with Echo's handler Boyd (Harry Lennix). Does it make you rethink your position on the series? Are you more or less excited to see it now? (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

The Guardian has a brand-new interview with the oh-so-talented cast of British import comedy Gavin & Stacey, including James Corden and Ruth Jones (who also wrote and created the series), Matthew Horne, and Joanna Page, in which the gang talks about Christmas wishes, the Queen's speech, and the uber-memorable The Office Christmas Special. Fair play. (The Guardian)

Elsewhere, James Corden has said that he doesn't know whether there will be a third season of Gavin & Stacey. "We really don't know," said Corden. "Ruth and I are executive producing an American version of the show for ABC and we're looking at some writers. It's so strange getting these CVs from people who've written some of my favourite TV shows: Arrested Development, Seinfeld, Will & Grace." [Editor's note: Ruth Jones claims NBC, who had optioned the format, is out and ABC is in.] (The Times)

Kristin Dos Santos has a sneak peek clip of tonight's episode of Prison Break (the winter finale), in which Michael learns something pretty shocking about his mom, the Company, and some news that he might want to provide to the DMV. (E! Online's Watch with Kristin)

BBC has commissioned a second season of apocalyptic drama Survivors, a remake of the cult 1970s series created by Terry Nation, which stars Julie Graham, Max Beesley, and Paterson Joseph. The final episode of the current season is slated to air on Tuesday evening on BBC1. (The Guardian)

HBO has signed a deal with Maria Bello (ER) to develop and star in an untitled series at the pay cabler to be written by Gary Lennon (The Shield). Bello would star as a woman forced into a life of crime in order to support her three teen sons, whom she employs as criminal henchmen, after her husband is killed. Project will be executive produced by Bello, Lennon, Gavin Polone, and John Carrabino. (Variety)

FOX handed out a script order (plus penalty commitment) for werewolf dramedy Bitches, about four female friends in Manhattan... who happen to be werewolves. Project, from writer/executive producer Michael Dougherty, executive producers Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts (Pushing Daisies), and Warner Bros. Television, has been garnering much buzz in the last few months and, given its subject matter (and snarky title), I had it pegged for months as a pickup. (Hollywood Reporter)

In a sign of the times, ITV has pulled the plug on its two-part adaptation of E.M. Forster's A Passage to India, which was to star Matthew Macfadyen (Spooks) and Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky). Production on the expensive period drama was slated to begin in January in India and the two-part mini was slated to air in Fall 2009. “We are working hard to make sure that we extract maximum value from the schedule and spend money carefully and, as a result, we will not be taking forward the commission of A Passage to India,” said an ITV spokesman. “We remain committed to high-quality drama on ITV1 and in 2009 have Demons, Law and Order: UK, Wuthering Heights, Whitechapel and the return of Primeval coming to screen.” (Variety)

In other UK drama news, former Office star Martin Freeman will star as Doctor John Watson and Benedict Cumberbatch (Starter for Ten) will star as the titular sleuth in Sherlock, a contemporary remake of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes novels. Also secured for the one-hour pilot, from creators Steven Moffat (Doctor Who) and Mark Gatiss (Doctor Who): Rupert Graves, who will play Inspector Lestrade. Coky Giedroyc will direct the pilot episode, slated to begin shooting next month. I had the chance to read Moffat's script a few months back and it had some interesting moments, even as I had a difficult time believing the contemporary trappings around this modern-day Sherlock and Holmes duo. Still, good casting such as this will definitely elevate the material. (BBC)

Billy Zane (Charmed, Titanic) will replace Timothy Olyphant on ABC's Samantha Who?. Olyphant, who played Samantha's ex-boyfriend/boss Funk last season, is unavailable due to his commitments to FX's Damages, where he plays Wes. Zane will assume the role of Funk in this season's fifteenth episode, when Funk and Sam reunite for the first time after she turned down his marriage proposal. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

MTV has announced that it has no less than 16 new reality series on tap for 2009, including offerings from Matt Stone & Trey Parker (South Park), Donald Trump, Nick Lachey, and Sean Combs. The cabler, which has been suffering declining ratings, will launch all of the new series over the next 4 1/2 months; the launches represent a shift more towards the "meta-scripted reality of MTV's The Hills." (Variety)

NBC won't be developing a US version of BBC's long-running series Top Gear. BBC Worldwide and the Peacock have parted ways from the project and the Beeb issued a statement about their decision to take the format elsewhere. "BBC Worldwide and NBC have decided to part ways on the Top Gear format and we are in the process of finding a home more suited to the show. With Top Gear UK version now playing on BBCA it has become clear the series attracts a strong, highly valuable, young male audience in the U.S. and we are already in discussions with several interested networks." (Top Gear Blog)

And it does appear as though NBC has canceled reality revival series American Gladiators. (Hollywood Reporter)

In case you didn't know, politics turned out to be very, very good for late-night satirical series like Saturday Night Live, The Colbert Report, and The Daily Show. (The New York Times)

Elsewhere at the Times, Alessandra Stanley has picked her selections for Best TV of
2008, which includes series such as Mad Men, Fringe, The Wire, Gossip Girl, NCIS, and In Treatment, HBO telepic Recount, and the incomparable Tina Fey. (The New York Times)

Stay tuned.


Anonymous said…
Oh, I am excited for DOLLHOUSE. I think that little clip has been great. I'm still not sure about Eliza's acting, but the writing in that little scene and the atmosphere surely made me wanna watch it right away.
Anonymous said…
Eliza's acting?? That guy playing Topher is awful
Anonymous said…
Dollhouse definitely warrants a look. The clip has not changed my mind one way or the other.
Argh! Must they do an Americanized (ahem, bastardized) version of Gavin and Stacey? Yes, of course they must. And I'm already dreading it. Can't they just focus on doing a season three of the original, lovely, quirky little show instead? Please?

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