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Showing posts from April, 2010

The Glass Heart: Dancing with Brown Betty on Fringe

"Death seems to follow you around." - Philip Broyles This week's episode of Fringe ("Brown Betty"), written by Jeff Pinkner, J.H. Wyman, and Akiva Goldsman and directed by Seith Mann, offered a look into the mind of Walter Bishop, via the noir-tinged fairy tale he told Olivia's young niece Ella. It's a mind that's been increasingly affected by major feelings of guilt and regret about what he had done to a young Peter Bishop, the man that he raised as his son but whom he stole from his alternate universe counterpart. It was a bit of a break from the increasingly mythology-heavy episodes of late, which have adding in some newly swirling mysteries (who is the Secretary?) to Fringe 's already complex and emotional plot. Rather than see the team battle shapeshifters or freaky fringe scientists, this episode turned the focus inwards, forcing the team to examine their own fears and dreams. While Olivia continued to search for the missing Peter, W

Channel Surfing: Allison Janney Heads to Lost, Damon Lindelof Speaks, Chuck Fans Plan Flash Mob, Veronica Mars Update, and More

Welcome to your Friday morning television briefing. SPOILER! "Presence," huh? TV Guide Magazine 's Will Keck attempts to get to the bottom of just who Allison Janney ( The West Wing ) will be playing on the May 11th episode of Lost by going right to the source: Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, who are being rather cagey about Janney's mystery role. "We were so happy that she was able to do this," said Cuse. "It was really hard for her because she was getting ready to shoot a pilot, but she squeezed us in. Then once we saw her in this part we were like, 'How could anyone else have done this but Allison Janney?'" Lindelof wasn't giving Keck anything either: "We’ve been talking about this character for awhile and how nervous we were that we wouldn’t find the right actress," he said. "When we first started talking about this character in the writers room we called her 'Allison Janney' under the assumption that we w

Family Affair: Master Chefs and Modern Family on Top Chef Masters

If you've ever been on a working television or film set, you know the mad rush that the lunch call is as the cast and crew head towards a makeshift dining room--usually set amid film equipment and discarded set pieces--to grab a brief respite before heading back into the madness. Caterers specialize in delivering fast, fresh, and tasty grub that's all ready to go when the crew is meant to go on break and it's a brutal business. So that rhythm and pacing would be the perfect challenge for the five new master chefs entering the Top Chef kitchen this week: Rick Tramonto, Maria Hines, Debbie Gold, Joey Adams, and Susur Lee, the latter of whom was named one of Food & Wine 's Ten Chefs of the Millennium. (No small matter, that.) On this week's episode of Top Chef Masters ("Cast and Crew Meal"), the master chefs were tasked with creating a perfectly styled fruit plate and preparing a cast and crew meal for the actors and staffers on ABC's comedy s

Lost Without Lost: Jimmy Fallon Is Late

Missing Lost as much as I am this week? You're not alone. While there was no new episode of Lost this week (though, rest assured, it returns next Tuesday evening with "The Candidate"), Late Night with Jimmy Fallon sought to help us make it through our withdrawal with another installment of their Lost parody series, Late . On the latest episode of Late ("Carlton"), the survivors try to build an elevator to get off the floor, Jimmy is forced to confront his past, Higgins reunites with his father, and we learn the meaning of the mint, the goldfish, and the bathroom attendant. Missed the four previous episodes of Late ? No worry as you can watch them all below, beginning with the first. Just get your super-secret father-son handshake in order. Episode One: "Where Are We?" Episode Two: "Not Alone" Episode Three: "Who Are You?" Episode Four: "My Hairiest Adventure" Lost returns next week.

Talk Back: ABC's Series Premiere of Happy Town

Did you tune in to last night's series premiere of ABC's new mystery-horror-supernatural-drama Happy Town ? If so, I'm curious to see just what you thought of the first episode, which was written by Scott Rosenbaum, Andre Nemec, and Josh Applebaum, and which introduced the sleepy and seemingly idyllic town of Haplin. You can read my advance review from last May of the original 90-minute pilot here , but now that the first episode has aired, I'd love to hear what you thought of the series opener. Were you intrigued by the series' eerie vibe? Or put off by the convoluted plot and the kitchen sink narrative, which piled high every single supernatural trope previously used on Twin Peaks or in the works of Stephen King? Were you charmed by the characters or irritated by them? Like the nickname "Root Beer" or put off by it? Did you think that Amy Acker was criminally undervalued? And, most importantly, will you tune in again next week? Talk back here.

Channel Surfing: Tamsin Greig Lands Episodes, Steve Carell Looks to Leave The Office, History Casts The Kennedys, and More

Welcome to your Thursday morning television briefing. Cast changes are afoot at Showtime's upcoming Matt LeBlanc-led comedy Episodes , with Thomas Haden Church pulling out of the project due to a scheduling conflict with a film and Claire Forlani being recast after the recent table read earlier this week. But with Forlani out, Showtime has had the luck of landing British actress Tamsin Greig ( Black Books, Green Wing, Love Soup ) to replace her. [Editor: I think Greig is a much better fit and is a comedy genius. Showtime is beyond lucky to have nabbed her. Grieg's Black Books character, Fran Katzenjammer, remains a perennial favorite.] Greig will step into Forlani's role, as the female half of a husband-and-wife writing team whose British series is adapted for American television... and ruined in the process. Showtime has ordered seven episodes of the series, which is created by David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik, who executive produce alongside Jimmy Mulville. ( Variety ) S

Island Dreams: Surviving a Lost-Less Tuesday

Well, I made it through the wilderness: I survived a Tuesday night without a new episode of Lost with only a modicum of shaking and withdrawal pains. Sure, I should be looking at this as a set-run for what will likely be the rest of my life without Lost , but it didn't remove any of the sting or pain of not having a new episode to think about (and write about) today. (That said, I probably slept better last night than I have in weeks, without Lost keeping me awake for fitful sleep of island-related dreams, bizarre theories, and an appearance or three of the Smoke Monster himself.) It wasn't easy. My Tuesday evenings have a strict schedule that's usually built around watching Lost at 9 pm: dinner is eaten way in advance, dishes washed, tea made, and the phones shut off altogether. I like my Lost silent and I watch it live so that I can discuss the previous act with my wife during the commercial breaks. Last night threw off that routine, so I took the opportunity to c

ABC Heads to Happy Town, I Stay Home

I originally wrote about the pilot episode of ABC's new supernatural mystery drama series Happy Town last May (the review for which you can read here ). While some of the actors have changed--Steven Weber stepped in to replace Dean Winters and Ben Schnetzer replaced John Patrick Amedori and the first episode is now a regular-length installment (the original pilot has been split into the first two episodes)--the overall tone and feel of series itself hasn't changed a bit since I first viewed that early cut of the pilot. While I intended to revisit Happy Town and write a new one, there weren't any discernible improvements to Happy Town --which comes from Scott Rosenbaum, Andre Nemec, and Josh Applebaum--to warrant writing a brand-new review, so last year's pilot review stands. You've been warned... (Meanwhile, I'd also advise you to check out Maureen Ryan's hilarious faux-ABC memo regarding Happy Town over at The Chicago Tribune .) Happy Town launche

Los Angeles Times: "V: Unleashing the Soldier of War"

Looking to discuss last night's episode of ABC's V ? Head over to the Los Angeles Times/Show Tracker site, where you can read my take on last night's episode ("We Can't Win"), entitled " V : Unleashing the Soldier of War." I'm curious to know what you thought of the episode. Head to the comments section to discuss. Next week on V ("Hearts and Minds"), Erica, Ryan, Father Jack, and Hobbes learn Anna's sent a V shuttle filled with a deadly V tracker team to find them, and must figure out how to stop the shuttle from landing; Anna gives Tyler his invitation to the Live Aboard Program; Chad confronts Father Jack on what he knows about The Fifth Column.

Channel Surfing: Two More Years for Housewives, Glee Promotes Morris and Rivera, Conan to Appear on Sunday's 60 Minutes, and More

Welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing. Deadline.com's Nellie Andreeva is reporting that ABC is said to be considering renewing nighttime soap Desperate Housewives for two more seasons, which would then wrap up the series' run on the network. "There have been indications that ABC may go for a straight two-year pickup, including making deals with key writers on the show. Creator/executive producer Marc Cherry already has a deal in place with producing studio ABC Studios for three more years," writes Andreeva. "If Desperate Housewives indeed ends its run after eight seasons, he is expected to focus on development in the final year of his deal." She also reports that Patrick Dempsey may not want to continue on Grey's Anatomy after next season... ( Deadline.com ) Good news for Brittany and Santana. Entertainment Weekly 's Michael Ausiello is reporting that Glee 's Heather Morris and Naya Rivera, who play Cheerios/New Directions do

Brown Betty: FOX Releases Noir-Tinged Fringe Trailer

"Death seems to follow you around..." On this week's episode of Fringe ("Brown Betty"), take a descent into the noir and the musical, thanks to a self-medicating Walter Bishop, who takes the opportunity to tell a story to Olivia's niece Ella while attempting to unburden his own guilt-stricken mind. FOX has released a trailer for this week's "Brown Betty" episode, which can be viewed in full below and which plays up the deliciously vintage film noir style of such 1940s classics as The Big Sleep and recasts our Fringe Division crusaders in some new roles. Fringe airs Thursday night at 9 pm ET/PT on FOX.

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler: HBO Unveils Season Three Poster for True Blood

Ah, HBO, you are generous. Not only does today mark the launch of the first "Drop of True Blood " minisode featuring Eric and Pam auditioning a new dancer for Fangtasia (which can be viewed in full here ), but the pay cabler has also unveiled the official Season Three poster for True Blood , which returns to the schedule next month. The seductive swamp-set scene depicts Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard, Kristin Bauer, Nelsan Ellis, Deborah Ann Woll, Rutina Wesley, Sam Trammell, and Ryan Kwanten assembling at twilight as a wolf and a sickeningly long snake look on, perhaps ready to sink their teeth into this pretty cast. (There are also several smaller snakes and some skulls lurking about, if you enlarge the photo.) A larger version of the image can be found by clicking on the image below. "Do Bad Things," indeed. Satisfied? Or hungry for more? Season Three of True Blood launches Sunday, June 13th at 9 pm ET/PT on HBO.

No New Lost Tonight Makes Jace Unhappy

Just a reminder: Lost is a repeat tonight. (It's a repeat of the Richard Alpert-centric "Ab Aeterno" from a few weeks back, to be specific.) Don't shoot the messenger, though. As I said on Twitter earlier this morning , with no new episode of Lost on tonight, I feel like my whole week is off-kilter. It's making me crabby and slightly anxious. Not in a nutty, constructing-a-squirrel-baby-out-of-bones-and-fur sort of way but it's an odd sensation when we're this close to the series finale. Tuesday evenings have become a must-see night of television, between Lost, V, Glee, Justified, The Good Wife, Survivors and a slew of others and the highlight for me is definitely Lost , particularly with so few installments remaining before the drama series sails off into the sunset... or explodes with the heat of 1000 suns. But no new Lost tonight makes Tuesday seem a little less special in my heart. Sure, we'll soon have to deal with a television landscape

It's a New Life: The Honeymoon is Far From Over on Chuck

"It's a new dawn/It's a new day/It's a new life/For me/And I'm feeling good..." Chuck returned last night with the first of six all new episodes ("Chuck Versus the Honeymoon"), written by Lauren LeFranc and Rafe Judkins (with a story by Ali Adler) and directed by Robert Duncan McNeill, that altered the landscape of Chuck's world, thanks to the start of a full-blown relationship between Chuck and Sarah. With the haunting refrain of Nina Simone's "Feeling Good" (which astute readers will note I hinted about several times in my advance review of this episode ) threaded throughout Chuck and Sarah's dilemma throughout the episode (and not just in the final, climactic, and utterly romantic scene between the two), the newly formed and "exclusive" couple had to decide whether to run away from the spy life, return to Burbank and split up, or choose neither option. Yes, the either/or conflict between Sarah and Chuck--one th

Channel Surfing: TNT Renews Southland, Legend of the Seeker Axed, FX Heads to Outlaw Country, Royal Pains, and More

Welcome to your Tuesday morning television briefing. In a surprise move, cabler TNT has ordered a third season of hyper-realistic cop drama Southland , commissioning ten episodes that will launch in January 2011. " Southland is a challenging, visceral show that engages viewers with its immersive style, provocative storylines and complex characters," said Michael Wright, EVP/head of programming, for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies, in a statement. "These qualities have made Southland a favorite among critics and appointment viewing for an extremely loyal audience." It's a sign of support from the cabler, which picked up the drama series after it was cancelled by NBC before it had even aired a single episode of its second season. TNT aired the six-episode sophomore season run earlier this year. [It's noted in this Variety article that the median viewer age of Southland --47--is younger than any other series on the channel.] (via press release) Entertai

NBC Press Day: Parks and Recreation

"Leslie's gone from big ideas to triage really fast," said Amy Poehler about the upcoming storyline on Parks and Recreation that finds Adam Scott and Rob Lowe arriving in Pawnee beginning May 13th. Adam Scott and Rob Lowe will play state auditors from Indianapolis who arrive in Pawnee to attempt to solve the budget crisis in Pawnee. "Adam and Rob's characters have a good cop/bad cop dynamic," said co-creator/executive producer Mike Schur. (Lowe wasn't in attendance at the NBC press day panel, due to filming on Brothers & Sisters .) The upcoming storyline on Parks and Recreation is ripped from the headlines, with stories appearing of municipalities going bankrupt, which manifests itself when "Pawnee finds itself in real financial trouble," according to Amy Poehler. "It deals with the impact of real people losing their jobs and the comedy of deciding which programs should stay and which should go." Scott's character, Ben,

NBC Press Day: Syfy's Haven

NBC Universal kicked off their summer press day with a panel for Syfy's upcoming series Haven , which launches in July and is based on Stephen King's novella "The Colorado Kid." "It felt like a good companion to Eureka ... but from a different perspective," said Syfy's Mark Stern of the upcoming series, which is executive produced by Scott Shepherd, Lloyd Segan, and Shawn Piller. " Haven is like the Stephen King alternative to [ Eureka ], not the dark, grim Steven King version of that but the 'Green Mile' version of that with people beginning to experience strange supernatural abilities but not being aware of it." Emily Rose plays FBI Agent Audrey Parker who finds herself investigating a series of unusual phenomena in the small town of Haven, Maine. "They've created this small, interesting town that like a magnet has drawn Audrey to it," said Rose. "This character that has a lot of things that she's trying to

Tune-In Reminder: Chuck Returns Tonight!

Just a friendly--and impassioned--reminder that NBC's Chuck returns tonight with the first of six brand-new episodes. You can read my extremely glowing advance review of tonight's absolutely fantastic installment, "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners," here and offer your thoughts regarding my hints about what's to come for Chuck and Sarah after the events of the season-finale-that-wasn't. But really, this is an attempt to remind you to get everyone you know--your significant other, your parents, your friends, your co-workers, that frozen yogurt server at Pinkberry--to tune into Chuck in order to not only keep the numbers up but potentially to increase them and show NBC in no certain terms that there's an insatiable appetite for all things Chuck . Or, to put it differently, prove to them just why they should renew Chuck for a fourth season . On tonight's episode of Chuck ("Chuck Versus the Honeymooners"), Sarah and Chuck realize they are

The Last of Its Kind: Impossible Choices and the Beast Below on Doctor Who

"You took it upon yourself to save me from that. That was wrong. You don't ever decide what I need to know." - The Doctor Despite his kindness and benevolence, The Doctor has always been a figure of immense pride that borders on hubris. As a 900-year-old Time Lord, he might risk life and limb to save Earth time and time again but it's his belief that he knows better than the planet's inhabitants, that he's better equipped to make the monumental decisions than the mere mortals whose continued existence is in his hands. The Doctor, to put it bluntly, has a bit of a God complex. This week's episode of Doctor Who ("The Beast Below"), written by Steven Moffat and directed by Andrew Gunn, found the Doctor and Amy together on their first adventure in the TARDIS and encountering the numerous secrets of Starship UK, the future of Great Britain, now a fused-together spaceship looking for a new home among the stars. As a first outing for the Doctor an