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Showing posts from 2009

The Daily Beast: "23 Shows That Changed Television"

Wondering why I didn't compile a best of the decade list on Televisionary? Head over to The Daily Beast, where you can find my latest feature, "23 Shows That Changed Television," which looks at the cultural impact (both good and ill) of 23 series that launched this decade. Those influential series include American Idol, Lost, Survivor, The Wire, Mad Men, Weeds, Big Love, Arrested Development, The Osbournes, True Blood, Laguna Beach, Family Guy and Battlestar Galactica . And if you're wondering why some of your favorites got left off, it's because each of the series had to have premiered after January 1st, 2000 in order to be included in the list. Which negated the inclusion of such influential series from the late 1990s, such as The Sopranos, Sex and the City, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The West Wing , and South Park , to name a few. Head over to the comments section to share your thoughts on the list and your picks for the most influential series of the d

The Birth of a Superhero: Televisionary Talks to Zachary Levi of NBCs "Chuck"

While the holidays might be over now, there's at least something to look forward to with the return of several television series over the next few weeks. Not to mention the much anticipated arrival of Season Three of NBC's Chuck (my advance review of which can be read here ). I had the opportunity to visit the set of Chuck back in the fall, when the start of Season Three seemed uncertain (remember when we weren't going to get any Chuck until March?), and had the chance to sit down with the cast for a series of video interviews. (You can view my interview with Yvonne Strahovski here .) Given that the holidays have just wrapped, I'm giving Chuck fans a little extra treat this year in the form of a condensed nine-minute video interview I did with Mr. Chuck Bartowski himself, Zachary Levi. Watch as I sit down with Zachary Levi on the series' courtyard set to talk about what's coming up on Season Three of Chuck , the eleventh hour renewal, Chuck's relationshi

The Sainted Physician: The Doctor Faces His Greatest Threat on "Doctor Who: The End of Time (Part One)"

Time itself has caught up with the Doctor. The latest Doctor Who Christmas special, Doctor Who: The End of Time (Part One) , found the Doctor attempting to fight his fated death... or at least the prophesied end of this incarnation of the solitary Time Lord. But it's not just the prophecy of the end of the Doctor's song ("he will knock four times") that provides the focus of this, the penultimate Doctor Who episode starring David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor. It was an installment that featured the return of several familiar faces, including John Simm's The Master (reborn in a matter of speaking), Bernard Cribbins' Wilfred, and Catherine Tate's Donna Noble. Along with the alien Ood, who telepathically tap into a global nightmare pattern involving the Master and alert the Doctor to impending doom in the form of the titular end of time. Written by Russell T. Davies and directed by Euros Lyn, Doctor Who: The End of Time (Part One) finds the Doctor in the mi

Say Goodbye to the Tenth Doctor Starting with Tonight's "Doctor Who: The End of Time (Part One)" on BBC America

The inevitable and the inescapable have arrived. Tonight's Doctor Who Christmas special, Doctor Who: The End of Time (which airs at 9 pm ET/PT), signals the end of the Tenth Doctor's run on the sci-fi series... and that of series lead David Tennant, who will leave the series following next week's concluding installment. I've remained (and intend to remain) spoiler-free leading up to tonight's broadcast of Doctor Who: The End of Time , which aired last night in the United Kingdom. I'm steeling myself to be utterly heartbroken after tonight's installment, which features the return of John Simm's malevolent Master and several familiar faces, including Bernard Cribbins' Wilf and Catherine Tate's Donna Noble. But I can't help but think back to when I first heard that Christopher Eccleston was departing Doctor Who and would be replaced by the relatively-unheard-of David Tennant, whom I recalled slightly from his turn as the titular character in

Top TV Picks of 2009

As 2009 begins to wind down, I figured now was the perfect time as any to look back at the series that that have entertained and inspired me over the past calendar year. And what a year it was for the television industry, which was (and is) still recovering from the writers strike of 2007/08. This past year also saw NBC box up the 10 pm hour for scripted programming, a move that hasn't had quite the effect that the network hoped (I do feel for poor scapegoat Jay Leno), while sending viewers scurrying over to cable, which continued to make huge inroads this year. It was also a year that saw comedy make a huge comeback, from the success of FOX's musical-comedy hybrid Glee to the season's biggest critical hit, ABC's Modern Family and the surprising resilience of NBC's Parks and Recreation (hands down the winner of the Most Improved Series award). And a year that saw much beloved series Chuck teeter dangerously towards cancellation, only to receive an eleventh hour

Love Versus Career: NBC Unveils New "Chuck" Promo

Will it be passion or professionalism? With just a few weeks to go before the Season Three premiere of Chuck , NBC has unveiled a new promo for the action-comedy that plays up the romance between Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) and Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) as well as the push-and-pull between duty and love. Spoiler-phobes might want to look away as there are some rather intriguing reveals contained in the below Chuck promo, released today, that might point to some action for these spies. Will these two finally get together this season? Who can say, though you can read my advance review of the first five episodes of Season Three of Chuck to glean any clues I may have left there about whether this star-crossed couple finally manages to put aside their professional responsibilities for some much deserved romance... Season Three of Chuck launches January 10th at 9 pm ET/PT with a two-hour premiere before moving to its regular timeslot Mondays at 8 pm ET/PT on January 11th.

Channel Surfing: Mia Kirschner Bites into "Vampire Diaries," Starz Renews "Spartacus," Jeff Probst Believes Wrong Person Won "Survivor," and More

Welcome to your Tuesday morning television briefing. Entertainment Weekly' s Michael Ausiello is reporting that Mia Kirschner ( The L Word, 24 ) has been cast in a recurring role on the CW's The Vampire Diaries , where she will play Isobel, described as "the sweet-yet-dangerous wife of Matt Davis’ history teacher, Alaric." Kirschner will first appear in the January 21st episode. ( Entertainment Weekly 's Ausiello Files ) Starz has renewed drama series Spartacus for a second season, more than a month before the first season even premieres. Season Two of the swords-and-sandals drama, entitled Spartacus: Vengeance , will go into production early next year, with executive producers Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi, Joshua Donen, and Steven S. DeKnight all returning for Season Two. [Editor: Look for former Dollhouse staffers Mo Tancharoen and Jed Whedon to also turn up on the writing staff for Season Two of Spartacus .] ( Televisionary ) Over at, Survivor host/producer

Uprising: Starz Renews "Spartacus" for Second Season

In an unusual move, pay cabler Starz has renewed Spartacus for a second season, over a month before the first season, entitled Spartacus: Blood and Sand is set to debut. Starz handed out a thirteen-episode second season order to Spartacus today, which will begin production on Season Two in early 2010 in New Zealand. The plot details for Season Two, expected to be entitled Sparactus: Vengeance, are being kept firmly under wraps. Executive producers Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi, Joshua Donen, and Steven S. DeKnight (who is also the series' head writer) will all return for Season Two. "We couldn’t be happier with the first season. Spartacus delivers on all levels – action, characters, intrigue, romance and excitement," said Stephan Shelanski, Starz Entertainment EVP, Programming, in a statement. " Spartacus is the most ambitious original project we’ve ever undertaken, and speaks to the commitment to our subscribers to provide truly original programming along with our unma

BBC America Announces Launch Date for "Survivors"

BBC America has announced the launch date for post-apocalyptic drama series Survivors . The much-delayed Survivors , which is an adaptation of the cult classic 1970s series (itself based on Terry Nation's novel), will have its US premiere on Saturday, February 13th at 8 pm ET/PT, before shifting to its regular timeslot at 9 pm ET/PT the following week. The series tracks the adventures of a group of people who survive a global viral holocaust that wipes out 99 percent of the human race's population and who struggle to stay alive in the face of unspeakable odds following this global catastrophe. In the official scheduling announcement, BBC America refers to the "twelve-episode season" of Survivors , which is a sign that the digital cabler intend to air the first two UK seasons of Survivors back-to-back. Season One, which aired in the UK in 2008, was comprised of six episodes and the second season of Survivors will launch early next year in the United Kingdom. This ver

Time Lord Victorious: "Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars"

"A Time Lord victorious." You had a chance to read my advance review of the sensational Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars but now that the latest David Tennant-led Doctor Who special has aired, I'm curious to see just what you thought of the special, written by Russell T. Davies and Phil Ford, which found the Doctor grappling with some weighty issues about predetermination, free will, and responsibility. As I said in my review, I thought that Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars was the darkest and most adult of the 2008-09 Doctor Who specials and brought us a Tenth Doctor for whom time was running out, both literally and figuratively. The Tenth Doctor's song is ending (and with it, rather sadly, David Tennant's run on the series) and he's waiting to hear those four knocks that will signal his doom but before then the Doctor made a stunning decision that might seal his fate once and for all. In choosing to intervene in the "fixed time" element of the Bowi

Channel Surfing: USA Renews "White Collar," ABC to Burn Off "Ted" and "Scrubs," "True Blood," and More

Welcome to your Monday morning television briefing. In an early Christmas present to fans, USA gave out a second season order to dramedy White Collar . The news was broken by series creator Jeff Eastin, who announced the renewal via Twitter on Friday. (" White Collar season 2 pickup is official!" wrote Eastin. "Congratulations to the best cast and crew on television.") Hardly a surprising turn of events considering that the Fox Television Studios-produced series posted its strongest numbers--5.6 million viewers overall--for its fall finale. White Collar returns with new episodes on January 19th. ( Variety , Hollywood Reporter 's The Live Feed ) Less good news for fans of ABC's absurdist comedy Better Off Ted or the resurrected Scrubs , however. The Futon Critic is reporting that ABC plans to wrap up the runs of both Better Off Ted and Scrubs in January, burning off both series by double-pumping them in the 8 pm and 9 pm hours throughout the month, alon

What Price Victory: An Advance Review of BBC America's "Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars"

"Water always wins." Those words are uttered by the Doctor (David Tennant) about a certain water-based entity stalking the crew of Bowie Base One, the groundbreaking Mars colony currently inhabited by a group of Earth scientists. Certainly then, the Doctor and the residents of Bowie Base One (and, yes, that's a direct reference to "Life on Mars" singer David Bowie) are at a bit of a disadvantage. How do you fight something that's persistent, deadly, and can wait forever, wearing down everything around it? How do you battle the eternal? In his journeys through time and space, The Doctor has squared off against some pretty tough adversaries but perhaps none quite so dangerous as the one he faces in the latest Doctor Who special, the darkly compelling Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars , written by Russell T. Davies and Phil Ford and directed by Graeme Harper. That's because the enemy he must confront is himself. I had the opportunity to watch Doctor Who: The