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Showing posts from January, 2009

Golden Ticket: An Advance Review of "Chuck Versus The Third Dimension"

If you're at all like me, you've been intent on finding 3D glasses not so you can watch Super Bowl commercials but so that you can check out the special 3D episode of NBC's Chuck , airing on Monday night. Thanks to the good folks at NBC, I had the good fortune of screening Chuck 's 3D episode ("Chuck Versus the Third Dimension"), written by series co-creator Chris Fedak, last night and it really is quite a lot of fun to see our favorite spies in box-busting 3D form. I'll preface my thoughts on the episode's plot by saying that the three-dimensional effects (knives thrown through the air, doughnuts about to be chomped by Big Mike, a lingerie-clad Sarah, etc.) are enjoyable, but don't fret if you're not able to get to one of the many participating retailers to pick up 3D glasses. The glasses are not necessary to enjoy the episode itself, which can be viewed in plain old 2D just as easily. (And I'll admit that fumbling with the glasses at time

Channel Surfing: ABC Tells Lauren Graham to "Let It Go," CBS Picks Up Three Pilots, Layoffs Announced at Disney-ABC, and More

Welcome to your Friday morning television briefing. I'm currently drowning in pilot scripts and hoping to use this weekend to get through a bunch of must-read scripts. Fingers crossed. ABC handed out a pilot order to comedy Let It Go , starring Lauren Graham ( Gilmore Girls ), about a self-help guru whose teaching mantra to women is to let it go, but she can't quite follow her own advice when her seemingly perfect boyfriend dumps her. Project, written by Alex Herschlag ( Will & Grace ) and executive produced by Hersclag, Mitch Hurwitz, Eric Tannenbaum, and Kim Tannenbaum, will be produced by Sony Pictures Television and Tantamount. Also on order at the Alphabet: an untitled multi-camera comedy from writer/executive producer Tad Quiller ( Scrubs ) about two forty-something friends who face different challenges when one has a baby and the other deals with a suddenly empty nest. ( Hollywood Reporter ) CBS finally announced some pilot orders, handing out pilot pickups to three

Golden Compass: Theories, Revelations, and Reveals on "Lost"

Oh. My. God. Three episodes into its fifth season, Lost is proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that it will not be treading water until its series finale at the end of Season Six but will be pulling out some neck-snapping plot twists on a regular basis. This week's episode of Lost ("Jughead"), which I had watched during the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour a few weeks back, contained not one but several gasp-inducing revelations likely to rouse Lost's rabid fanbase into discussion mode. Those of you who read my advance review of "Jughead," know that I was absolutely blown away by this installment, which focused on Desmond and the time-tossed castaways rather than the Oceanic Six, and that I've been teasing you by withholding a theory I had after viewing this episode. Rest assured, you can read my bound-to-be-controversial theory below. A brief disclaimer before we begin: With the third episode of the season now having aired, I'm now

"Because I'll Destroy You": Conspiracies and Double Crosses on "Damages"

Once again, FX's Damages managed to surprise the hell out of me. No mean feat, that. This week's episode ("Hey, Mr. Pibb!"), written by Aaron Zelman, found Ellen and Tom traveling down to West Virginia (and listening to some bluegrass) in order to locate journalist Josh Reston (Matthew Davis) as Patty attempted to use her resources to track down Christine's ruby ring in order to free Daniel Purcell from prison. Straightforward, no? The truth is that the episode was anything but, offering several reveals that made me question my knowledge of characters' motivations and histories as well as shattering one alliance that seemed to underpin the entire season. You've already read my advance review of "Hey, Mr. Pibb!" but now that the episode has aired, we can discuss everything together. The Visitor. I'm now referring to Ellen's mystery guest in the chair as The Visitor until we're more fully aware of this person's true identity. This

Channel Surfing: Gordon Ramsay to Cook Live for FOX, Michael Shannon in "Boardwalk Empire," Olivia Wilde, SAG Negotiations to Restart, and More

Welcome to your Thursday morning television briefing. I hope everyone is recovering from some truly fantastic installments of ABC's Lost and FX's Damages last night. FOX has announced that it will air at least one live special with enfant terrible chef Gordon Ramsay, in which he teaches viewers at home how to make a three-course meal alongside him. Network will likely air the special, based on Ramsay's UK series Cook Along and part of Ramsay's overall deal with the network, in late spring or early fall. "My frustration is that most cooking shows don't really cook," said Ramsay. "Their ingredients are prepped earlier, that's not cooking... it's nice to show the journey from live ingredient to (finished meal)." ( Hollywood Reporter ) Michael Shannon ( Revolutionary Road ) has been cast as the lead in Terrence Winter and Martin Scorsese's HBO pilot Boardwalk Empire , where he will play Van Alden, a senior Treasury agent tasked with st

Soda Water: An Early Look at Tonight's Episode of "Damages" ("Hey! Mr. Pibb")

I received an unexpected treat yesterday afternoon in the form of tonight's outstanding episode of FX's Damages ("Hey! Mr Pibb"), a fantastic hour of serpentine plot twists paints a convincing picture of a larger conspiracy at work as it pushes the characters to some dark places so far unseen this season. Plus, don't be surprised if one of the episode's many reveals leaves you wondering just what you truly believe after all. Want a few hints about what to expect for tonight's episode? Let's dive in. For those of us who are spoiler-averse, I won't divulge full-on spoilers here but will merely hint at some developments in this week's episode. So what can you expect? That water sample that journalist Josh Reston (Matthew Davis) managed to steal from one of Ultima National Resources' coal plants in West Virginia? It becomes increasingly valuable to everyone involved in the case... and proves the lengths that some interested parties will go to

No-Brainer: Astrid Still Needs Character Development on "Fringe"

Is it just me or is Fringe 's Astrid Farnsworth the latest victim of Mary-Sue Syndrome? After many episodes of limited character growth, Fringe 's writers are now shoving Astrid's amazing skills down our throats with greater frequency... instead of investing time to flesh out her painfully one-dimensional character. She speaks Latin! She majored in linguistics! And in last night's episode of Fringe ("The No-Brainer"), we learned that she minored in computer science and can take apart computers and fix crashed hard drives with ease. It now seems that when the writers need an esoteric skill that none of the other characters possess, they magically give Astrid the ability to perform miracles. I've been bemoaning the lack of character development for Astrid for some time now . After all, we're now more than 13 episodes into the season and other than the facts that Astrid has told us, we've yet to see her grow as a character or be fleshed out into anyt

Talk Back: Season Two Premiere of BBC America's "Last Restaurant Standing"

Just wanted to share a few quick thoughts about the first two episodes of BBC America's addictive culinary competition series Last Restaurant Standing , which kicked off its second season last night. As always, it's early days on the series, so much of the action focused on the couples preparing their signature dishes for Raymond and his inspectors, Sarah Willingham and David Moore, and setting up their new restaurant spaces... just in time for Opening Night. Well, for nearly all of the teams, that is. You read my advance review of the first three episodes of Last Restaurant Standing , but now that Season Two has launched, let's talk specifics. First off, I'm really quite surprised and disappointed by the performance of mother-and-daughter team Annette and Kashelle. Kashelle seems like such a natural in the kitchen and we see her in pre-shot segments preparing some truly gorgeous Caribbean food, so why on earth would she opt to prepare a mango whiz, a dish that required

Channel Surfing: Nets Order Slew of Pilots, Kristen Johnson Could Be "AbFab," "Chuck" to End Season in April, and More

Welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing. ABC ordered three drama pilots yesterday: Inside the Box , about a female news producer in a Washington network news bureau from writer Richard E. Robbins and executive producers Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers (Grey's Anatomy); I, Claudia , about a young prosecuting attorney who is unaware that in the future she will be a contender to be the first female president of the US, from writer/executive producer John Scott Shepherd ( The Days ); and an untitled US adaptation of Argentinian series Brothers & Detectives , about a detective who discovers that he has a brilliant 11-year-old brother after the death of his estranged father, from Daniel Cerone ( Dexter ). ( Hollywood Reporter ) NBC has ordered a pilot for futuristic drama Day One from writer/executive producer Jesse A. Alexander ( Heroes ) about "the aftermath of a global event that devastates the world's infrastructures when a small band of survivors strive to

If You Can't Stand the Heat, Get Out of the Restaurant (Business): An Advance Review of Season Two of "Last Restaurant Standing"

Longtime readers of this site know of my near-obsession with BBC America's addictive culinary competition series Last Restaurant Standing , which returns for a second season of kitchen catastrophes tonight. As in Season One of Last Restaurant Standing (which airs in the UK as The Restaurant ), famed chef and two-Michelin-starred restaurateur Raymond Blanc (of the fantastic Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons) gives nine couples the dream of a lifetime: the opportunity to open their very own restaurant with him. But before they get to that point, they'll be culled one by one as they are given the keys to individual restaurants and tasked with running them, including everything from devising the menu and preparing food, to training staff and designing the decor. Assisting Raymond in keeping tabs on the would-be restaurateurs are Raymond's diligent and attentive inspectors, including Season One's Sarah Willingham and newcomer David Moore, the owner of the two-Michelin-starred

Channel Surfing: ABC Orders "V" Remake, "House" May Resurrect Amber, Martha Jones Back to "Who," and More

Welcome to your Tuesday morning television briefing. ABC has ordered a pilot for a modern day remake of seminal 1980s mini-series V , to be written/executive produced by Scott Peters ( The 4400 ). Updated V , from Warner Bros. Television, will focus on a female Homeland Security agent. Elsewhere, NBC has removed the contingency from period comedy pilot Lost in the '80s , from Sony Pictures Television and Tantamount, which will be directed by P.J. Hogan ( Shopaholic ). ( Hollywood Reporter ) Former Doctor Who co-star Freema Agyeman will reportedly reprise her role as Martha Jones in one of the four Doctor Who specials planned for 2009, despite some rumors of bad blood between her and outbound head writer/executive producer Russell T. Davies, said to originate when she accepted a role on ITV's Law & Order: London rather than star in a new season of Torchwood . “Freema’s on board," said an unnamd source. "It’s early days so it’s unclear what exactly Martha will be

Schemers and Dreamers: Lucky Charms, Cancer Scares, and Brood Mares on "Big Love"

Is it just me or is this season of HBO's Big Love shaping up to be the very best one the series has done to date? Taut, suspenseful, and emotionally resonant, Season Three has ramped up the drama and tension that have been slowly building over the last two seasons; every episode is a paragon of subtle narrative storytelling and serialized sizzle. While you've already read my advance review of Season Three's first three episodes of Big Love , you've now seen the third season's second episode ("Empire") last night so we can get discuss specifics. Last night's superlative episode of Big Love , written by series creators Will Scheffer and Mark V. Olsen, featured a mix of both good and bad news for the Henricksons as Bill made his case for the Indian casino, the family started dating Ana as a group, Roman blackmailed Bill, Barb received news about her health, and Sarah made a shocking discovery. So, just another day for everyone's favorite polygamist c

Fear and Loathing Stalk the Crew of "Battlestar Galactica"

It's hard to let an episode of Battlestar Galactica go by without saying anything, especially as the series only has a handful of episodes before it sails off among the stars (sadly, with no resurrection ship anywhere in sight). While I wasn't going to write about this past week's episode of Battlestar Galactica ("A Disquiet Follows My Soul"), which found the ragtag Colonial Fleet dealing with a number of internal fractures, from Laura Roslin deciding to stop treatment for her cancer, Gaeta stirring dissent among the shell-shocked crew of the Galactica, and Tom Zarek making a power grab with Roslin indisposed. While this episode--written and directed by Ronald D. Moore--lacked, say, the narrative heft of the previous week's installment ("Sometimes a Great Notion"), it perhaps will later be viewed as an installment which figuratively drew a line in the sand for the series's characters. After learning that Earth was no more than a barren wastelan

BBC America Brings "Torchwood" to New York Comic-Con

Torchwood fans have something to look forward to next month at New York Comic-Con. Digital cabler BBC America has announced that it will bring its highly rated sci-fi series Torchwood to New York Comic-Con 2009, presenting a sneak peek of the series' third season, Torchwood: Children of Earth , and a panel session with series lead Eve Myles and director Euros Lyn. The Torchwood panel will be presented on Saturday, February 7th at 4:15 pm and marks Myles and Lyn's first U.S. panel appearance. Myles, of course, plays Torchwood mainstay Gwen Cooper, while Lyn directed the entire five-episode third season of Torchwood . (Of note: Lyn will also direct David Tennant’s final two episodes as the Tenth Doctor on Doctor Who .) Torchwood: Children of Earth will air later this year on BBC America as a five-part television event that finds the Torchwood team battling for the future of the human race against the fiercest force they have encountered to date. “Torchwood face their toughest

Truth (and Lies) in Advertising: An Advance Review of TNT's "Trust Me"

It's rather easy at first glance to draw comparisons between TNT's new drama series Trust Me , which launches tonight, and AMC's award-winning period drama Mad Men . Though Trust Me is set in the present day, both series are set in advertising agencies and seek to capture a photograph of the society in which they inhabit. After all, advertising needs to speak to its buyers and what better way than by reflecting people's dreams, fears, hopes, and excesses? Unlike Mad Men , Trust Me , created by The Closer 's Hunt Baldwin and John Covent, attempts to take a more humorous approach and seeks to mine its agency setting to maximum comic effect. While it's essentially an ensemble piece about the employees of Chicago's Rothman, Greene & Moore agency, the real heart of the series is the relationship between a pair of best friends and partners, mature and level-headed Mason McGuire (Eric McCormack) and creative manboy Conner (Tom Cavanagh) as they pitch, whine, f

Channel Surfing: FOX to Get "AbFab," Jane Espenson Will Be Showrunner on "Caprica," Lauren Graham, Pilot News, and More

Welcome to your Monday morning television briefing. FOX has handed out a pilot order to a US remake of BBC comedy series Absolutely Fabulous , which follows the boozy exploits of PR magnate Edina Monsoon, her magazine editrix best friend Patsy, and Edina's uptight daughter Saffy. US version will be set in LA and the script written by Christine Zander ( Less Than Perfect ), who will executive produce with Jennifer Saunders, Ian Moffit, Mitch Hurwitz, Eric Tannenbaum, and Kim Tannenbaum. Project will be produced by Sony Pictures Television, Tantamount, and BBC Worldwide Americas. ( Variety ) Battlestar Galactica 's Jane Espenson will serve as an executive producer on BSG prequel series Caprica and will eventually become the showrunner on the series, slated to air on Sci Fi in 2010. Espenson, whom many fans will know from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gilmore Girls , will take over the reins of Caprica 's writers' room from co-creator Ron Moore later this year. Productio