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Showing posts from March, 2009

Broken Hearts and Coronets: Chuck Gets a New Handler on "Chuck"

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Tricia Helfer? The Battlestar beauty turned up on last night's episode of Chuck ("Chuck Versus the Broken Heart"), written by Allison Adler, where she played the deadly Agent Alex Forrest, a ruthless NSA agent assigned to conduct a 49B appraisal of whether Chuck and Sarah's feelings for one another had impacted their ability to successfully perform their jobs. Whereas Chuck and Sarah often take a more, uh, thoughtful approach to their work, Alex is all blazing guns, tranquilizer darts (hell, she even takes out an elderly nurse at the hospital), and stripper moves. She would argue she gets the job done and is proactive rather than reactive (and she makes a quick admirer in Casey); she's stealthy, effective, and, well, rather heartless. Which makes things far worse when General Beckman removes Sarah Walker from her assignment as Chuck's handler and replaces her rather quickly with Alex herself. She won't be holdin

Heavenly Heart Attack: An Advance Review of ABC's "Cupid"

A lot of what goes right with love can be attributed to Cupid (a lot of what goes wrong can be too). After all, as the myth tells us, it's his arrows that strike the hearts of true lovers and unites them. He's a cosmic matchmaker with a penchant for archery, really. It's no surprise then that so many writers have taken inspiration from the Cupid/Eros mythology and sought to use the deity as the springboard for all sorts of romantic-related mischief. Rob Thomas is one such writer. He had a short-lived series entitled Cupid on ABC in 1998 which starred Jeremy Piven as Trevor Hale, a man claiming to be the ancient deity stranded on Earth until he can complete his penance, bringing 100 couples together, and Paula Marshall as Claire Allen, a psychologist who is assigned to keep an eye on Trevor. The series was canceled after just one season. And, for all accounts and purposes, that seemed to be the end of Thomas' Cupid . Until now. ABC is once again launching Cupid with

Channel Surfing: "Friday Night Lights" Renewed for Two Seasons, Lucy Lawless Dons Sandals for "Spartacus," Dustin Milligan to Leave "90210," and More

Welcome to your Tuesday morning television briefing. NBC and DirecTV have reached a deal to renew drama series Friday Night Lights for two more seasons of 13 episodes each. Following the same model as the air structure this season, DirecTV will get the first window of the fourth and fifth seasons of Friday Night Lights before NBC airs them. Look for current cast members Taylor Kitsch, Matt Gilford, and Adrianne Palicki, who all play seniors, to potentially leave the series but the trio may reprise their roles on a recurring basis in order to wrap up their characters' storylines. ( Entertainment Weekly 's Ausiello Files , E! Online ) Lucy Lawless will star in Starz' upcoming gladiator series Spactacus: Blood and Sand , from executive producers Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi, and Josh Donen. She'll play gladiator camp owner Lucretia, opposite Aussie series lead Andy Whitfield ( The Strip ). Project, which start shooting next month, is expected to air in January 2010. ( Variety

Gorillas, Screamers, and Pint-Sized Powerhouses: Addicted Again to "The Amazing Race"

Is anyone else as suddenly addicted to The Amazing Race again as I am? Or is it just me? My enthusiasm had waned considerably with the series' most recent cycles but I have to say that the current season seemed reinvigorated and both the casting and the challenges had grabbed my attention once again. Last night's episode of The Amazing Race ("Gorilla? Gorilla?? Gorilla???") found the teams racing for their lives in Phuket , Thailand, found one team quite literally sabotage everyone else during a Detour, and saw one team member collapse on the elimination mat. Which might very well be the first time that that's happened on the Race . I'm really loving Margie and Luke and was totally stunned to see her collapse from exhaustion and dehydration upon reaching the Pit Stop. Not that I blame her. She proved that she truly was the "Bionic Woman" dragging her deaf son Luke on a rickshaw through the sweltering streets of Phuket . Which would have been t

Talk Back: HBO's "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency"

"Dumela, Mma." You've read my advance review of the first few episodes of HBO's joyous and addictive new mystery series, No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency , based on the best-selling novels of Alexander McCall Smith, and heard what series star Jill Scott and executive producer/co-writer Richard Curtis had to say about the production . But, now that the two-hour pilot has aired, I'm curious to see what you thought of the HBO/BBC co-production. Did you fall in love with Scott's intrepid investigator Precious Ramotswe as much as I did? Did you fall under the beautiful charms of the Bostwana setting and want to set out on a safari as soon as possible? Did you dig the unusual uplifting energy that the series projects? Were you absolutely terrified by Idris Elba's turn as Charlie Kgotso? And captivated by the work relationship between Precious and Grace Makutsi (Anika Noni Rose)? And, most importantly, will you be watching again next week? Talk back here.

Channel Surfing: ABC Cuts Back "In the Motherhood" to Seven Eps, Alicia Witt Scores "The Mentalist," NBC Cancels "Lipstick Jungle," and More

Welcome to your Monday morning television briefing. After airing just one episode, ABC has cut its episodic commitment for midseason comedy In the Motherhood from thirteen episodes to seven, just slightly more than half of its original order. The network had ordered the comedy, based on a web series, during the writers strike. ( Los Angeles Times ' Show Tracker ) Alicia Witt ( Law & Order: Criminal Intent ) will guest star in the season finale of CBS' The Mentalist , where she will play pianist Rosalind Harker, a woman who used to date serial killer Red John, the enigmatic serial killer who killed Jane's family. ( Entertainment Weekly 's Ausiello Files ) E! Online has confirmed that NBC has canceled drama series Lipstick Jungle, after all. "It was going to stay and we just were officially told it's finally not coming back," series star Brooke Shield told E! Online's Cristina Gibson. "It's very sad. I think a lot of people were really s

Link Tank: TV Blog Coalition Roundup for March 27-29

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 took an early look at the two-hour pilot of Sci Fi's new drama series Caprica , the prequel to Battlestar Galactica , which will be available as a DVD or digital download next month. I also took an early look at the first few episodes of HBO's new drama series No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency , spoke to Sci Fi Channel president Dave Howe about the channel's planned rebranding as Syfy , shared the fact that I was quoted in The New York Times , and reviewed the five-part Masterpiece Classic adaptation of Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit . And I discussed the latest episodes of ABC's Lost , FX's Damages , BBC America's Last Restaurant Standing , NBC's Chuck , and the season finale of HBO's Big Love . Elsewhere in the sophisticated TV-obsessed section of the blogosph

Honey Traps and Bush Tea: An Advance Review of HBO's "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency"

HBO has become synonymous with high-end dramas that are typically pretty dark, rather bleak, and usually pretty darn violent. Series like The Sopranos, Rome, Carnivale, True Blood, Big Love , and In Treatment all offer gripping if often disheartening looks into the darker elements of the human soul. So what should audiences make of the fact that HBO is launching the far sunnier No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency this weekend? Set in Botswana, No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency , based on the series of novels by Alexander McCall Smith, follows the adventures of Precious Ramotswe (the incandescent Jill Scott), a woman who has left her abusive jazz musician husband Note (Colin Salmon) and, after the passing of her beloved father, uses his cattle to raise cash to start a detective agency in the capital city of Gaborone. I had the opportunity to watch the first four episodes of No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency , including the gorgeously produced two-hour pilot episode written by Anth

Sci Fi President Dave Howe Talks "Syfy" Rebranding, Responds to Criticism

Many viewers have been either skeptical or outwardly critical of Sci Fi Channel's recent announcement that it would rebrand itself as Syfy, with a new logo and tagline, beginning in July . I had the opportunity to speak with Sci Fi President Dave Howe, who took the opportunity earlier this week to talk to journalists about the rationale behind the name change, what he hopes to accomplish under the new rebrand as Syfy, what the future holds for the channel, and an alternative rebrand name that they looked into. Howe responded to the comments made by Syfy Portal's Michael Hinman , who sold the rights to the Syfy trademark last year to NBC Universal and rebranded his site as Airlock Alpha, stating that the company wasn't being totally honest about the origins of the Syfy name. "I don’t think [...] we’re not acknowledging it," said Howe. "We’ve been actively working on this brand evolution for the last two years. And we’ve explored a lot of name options. And I

Channel Surfing: NBC Cuts "Chopping Block" from Schedule, Wesley Sinks Teeth into "Vampire Diaries," Katic to Return to "Big Love," and More

Welcome to your Friday morning television briefing. I had a fantastic evening last night at a WGA event for the writers of ABC's Lost , which included Team Darlton, Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, and Elizabeth Sarnoff. After just three episodes, NBC has cut culinary competition series The Chopping Block from its schedule, effective immediately. In lieu of the Marco Pierre White-fronted reality competition series, which landed a 0.9/2 share among adults 18-49 and 2.6 million viewers overall, NBC will air repeats of Law & Order: Criminal Intent and NBC said that Chopping Block could return at a later date. (But don't hold your breath.) ( Variety ) Paul Wesley ( 24 ) will star opposite Nina Dobrev ( Degrassi ) and Ian Somerhalder ( Lost ) in the CW supernatural drama pilot Vampire Diaries , from writer/executive producer Kevin Williamson. Wesley will play Stefan, a "gloriously, amazingly, epically beautiful young man" who is a 200-year-0ld vampire locked in a bat

It's In My Nature: Sayid Discovers the Truth of the Scorpion and the Frog on "Lost"

The past has a nasty way of catching up to us and no series has dwelt on that notion more regularly (or spectacularly) than Lost , which continues to use its character's past mistakes as a rubric to understanding why they make the choices they do in the present. (Or, er, time-tossed distant past, as the case may be.) Last night's episode of Lost ("He's Our You"), written by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and directed by Greg Yaitanes, centered squarely on the character of Sayid Jarrah as the audience is given a glimpse into his childhood and the events leading up to his return to the island. (Along with a simply jaw-dropping kick to the head from Zuleikha Robinson's Ilana, but more on that in a bit.) While we've seen Sayid struggle with his nature in the past, most notably his time as the castaways' resident torturer, it's never been handled in quite such a complex fashion as it is here, folding itself inwards on the shared experiences of Sayid

Universal Remote: The Nine Circles of Hell on "Damages"

Murder will out. It always does in the end and secrets, long buried, have a nasty way of being unearthed when you least expect it. This week's penultimate episode of Damages ("Look What I Dug Up This Time") ratcheted up the tension as we finally learned the truth about what happened to Christine Purcell the night of the gala, Ellen made her move against Patty and dragged Tom Shayles into the FBI's orbit, and Patty confronted Phil about the damage he had done to her and engineered a face-to-face with Walter Kendrick himself. I wondered just when things would start to come together and last night's installment did just that as the Purcell's dog literally dug up the past, a charred universal remote that unleashed a domino effect that threatens to topple UNR's entire case and send at least one man to prison. We now know what's been withheld from us for so long: just what happened that night between Christine and Daniel after the gala. He told Christin

Channel Surfing: Ian Somerhalder Sinks Teeth into "Vampire Diaries," Sutherland Finds Home with "Eastmans," Jeri Ryan Briefs "SVU," and More

Welcome to your Thursday morning television briefing. Ian Somerhalder ( Lost ) has joined the cast of CW's supernatural drama pilot Vampire Diaries , from writer/executive producer Kevin Williamson. Somerhalder will play Damon, a "smug vampire who can go from playful to evil in a split second." Also cast: Zach Roerig ( Friday Night Lights ), who will play jock Matt, and Kayla Ewell ( Entourage ), who will play Matt's sister. The trio joins the previously announced Michael Trevino, Katerina Graham, Nina Bobrev, Steven R. McQueen, Sarah Carey, and Candice Accola in the Warner Bros. Television-produced pilot, based on a series of Ally Entertainment novels. ( Variety ) Dirty Sexy Money 's Donald Sutherland will star in CBS drama pilot The Eastmans , about a clan of physicians. He'll play the family's wealthy patriarch, a rogueish cardiologist. Project, from Warner Bros. Television, stars Jesse Bradford, Jacqueline Bisset, Saffron Burrows, David Wilson Barnes

Man Before the Fall: An Advance Review of Sci Fi's "Caprica"

“While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand; / When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall; / And when Rome falls - the World.” - Lord Byron While the mourning period for the end of Sci Fi's Battlestar Galactica has just begun, following the recent two-hour finale, there are more than a few Battlestar-related things to look forward to on the horizon, one being the Jane Espenson-scripted, Edward James Olmos-directed two-hour telepic "The Plan" (set to air this fall on Sci Fi) and the other being the Battlestar Galactic a prequel series Caprica , which is set roughly fifty years before the start of the Battlestar Galactica mini-series. Sci Fi plans to release Caprica 's two-hour pilot, shot last year and written by Ronald D. Moore and Remi Aubuchon, as a DVD and a digital download next month . I had the opportunity to see a rough cut of the pilot episode for Caprica a few weeks back and was captivated by the pilot's tantalizing glimpse into a civilization sliding