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The Daily Beast: "Southland: Television’s Most Underrated Drama"

TNT’s gripping police drama Southland is back for a fifth season, but hardly anyone’s tuning in. My take on television’s most criminally overlooked show. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Southland : Television’s Most Underrated Drama," in which I take a look at a superlative yet underrated drama: Southland , which returned last week for a fifth season. Why aren’t more of you watching Southland ? Created by Ann Biderman ( NYPD Blue ) and executive-produced by John Wells ( ER ), TNT’s uncompromising cop drama returned for a fifth season last week to only 1.16 million viewers, down 34 percent from last year. In a television season that has given us dreck like Zero Hour, Mob Doctor , and Do No Harm, Southland should be a hit. That it’s not is a shame, as Southland remains one of the most morally complex and insightful dramas on television today. It deftly juggles multiple crimes and incidents, as well as the private lives of these LAPD office

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

Channel Surfing: Paula Malcomson to Sons of Anarchy, Seth Gabel Lands Fringe, Chris Fedak Talks Chuck, Star Wars, and More

Welcome to your Tuesday morning television briefing. The Chicago Tribune 's Maureen Ryan is reporting that Paula Malcomson ( Caprica ) has been cast in an eight-episode story arc on Season Three of FX's Sons of Anarchy , where she will play a character named Maureen. Sons of Anarchy is expected to return to FX's lineup in September, with production slated to begin in roughly three weeks' time. ( Chicago Tribune 's The Watcher ) SPOILER! Entertainment Weekly 's Michael Ausiello is reporting that Seth Gabel ( Dirty Sexy Money ) has joined the cast of FOX's Fringe . Gabel will play the lead Fringe Division investigator in the alternate universe and is slated to make his first appearance during the season's two-part finale, airing May 13th and 20th, and could, according to Ausiello, also recur next season. ( Entertainment Weekly 's Ausiello Files ) The second half of Maureen Ryan's mammoth interview with Chuck co-creator Chris Fedak is now live

Ridealong: An Advance Review of Season Two of TNT's "Southland"

While NBC tonight presents its latest drama Parenthood (you can read my advance review here ), TNT is set to go head-to-head with the Peacock by launching Season Two of Southland tonight in the same timeslot. Given that NBC axed Southland last year after committing to a second season of the series, it will be very interesting to see how the Ann Biderman-created cop drama does on cable and up against the Peacock's latest series offering... and I am sure that NBC's executives will also be looking at the numbers to see whether they made the right or wrong decision to cut Southland from its schedule. Personally, I think NBC made its decision based on fear and reacting to the fact that Southland struggled after launching with boffo numbers... and the fact that the series, executive produced by John Wells, was a sprawling cop drama where the good guys don't always win and some of them would appear to be just as messed up inside as the criminals they're chasing. I give

Channel Surfing: "Lost" Series Finale Date Revealed, FOX Has Had "Conversations" with Conan, "Doctor Who," and More

Welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing. Lost showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse appeared on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live last night and announced that the series will wrap its run on Sunday, May 23rd. "The reason I think that anybody even cares about Lost is that we announced an end date three years ago," said Cuse. "We are eternally grateful to [Steve McPherson] to end the show on our own terms and I think that made all the difference in terms of Lost being the show that it still is." ( Hulu ) Entertainment Weekly 's Jeff Jensen has an interview with Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse about some of the more specific plot points from last night's season premiere of Lost . As it's not yet aired everywhere yet (UK gets it on Friday), I won't quote anything from the piece but urge you instead to check it out. ( Entertainment Weekly 's PopWatch ) FOX's Rupert Murdoch has acknowledged that it has had "conversations&

Channel Surfing: David Tennant Crowned "Rex" for NBC, Naveen Andrews to Guest on "Law & Order: SVU," Ramsay Brings "Masterchef" to US, and More

Welcome to your Tuesday morning television briefing. Looks like the TARDIS has deposited the Doctor on our shores. Outbound Doctor Who star David Tennant has signed on to topline NBC's legal dramedy pilot Rex Is Not Your Lawyer . Tennant, who departs from Doctor Who at the end of the year, will play the titular character, Rex Alexander, a Chicago lawyer who suffers from crippling panic attacks who begins coaching his clients on how to represent themselves in court. Project, from Universal Media Studios and BermanBraun, is written by Andrew Leeds and David Lampson and will be directed by David Semel, who executive produces with Barry Schindel, Gail Berman, Lloyd Braun, and Gene Stein. ( Hollywood Reporter ) Lost 's Naveen Andrews will guest star on an upcoming episode of NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit . Details on his role are being kept firmly under wraps, though it's known that his episode is slated to air in January. ( TVGuide.com ) FOX has ordered ro

Channel Surfing: Elizabeth Mitchell Talks "Lost" Fate, Itzin to Return to "24," TNT Locks Up "Southland," and More

Welcome to your Monday morning television briefing. Entertainment Weekly 's PopWatch has an interview with Elizabeth Mitchell and Lost executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse about the ultimate fate of Mitchell's Juliet, last seen detonating the hydrogen bomb that may or may not have caused The Incident at the end of Season Five. While Mitchell is set to reprise her role as Juliet Burke on Season Six of Lost , it's been confirmed that Juliet is definitely dead. Still, there are still some mysteries about the good (or not so good?) doctor that still need to be resolved. "There’s still something very significant that we have not yet learned about the character," according to Cuse. ( Entertainment Weekly 's PopWatch ) Gregory Itzin ( The Mentalist ) will return to FOX's 24 in a multiple-episode story arc that finds him reprising his role as villainous former President Charles Logan, who was last seen being stabbed by his wife Martha (Jean Smar

Channel Surfing: TNT Close to Deal for "Southland," Bravo Hungry for "Top Chef: Just Desserts," "24," NBC Picks Up Three Series, and More

Welcome to your Monday morning television briefing. The Hollywood Reporter 's Nellie Andreeva is reporting that TNT is very close to a deal with Warner Bros. Television to acquire cancelled NBC cop drama Southland . The deal, which is now said to appear "likely," would save the series--which produced six new installments for a second season at NBC--from cancellation, after NBC axed the series before launching the series' second season. ( Hollywood Reporter ) Bravo has ordered a spinoff of its culinary competition series Top Chef entitled Top Chef: Just Desserts , which will air next year and focus on a showdown between pastry chefs in a weekly competition. Top Chef producers Magical Elves are on board for the spinoff, which will begin casting this week. No host or judges have been determined yet for the series, which will air in between cycles of Top Chef and Top Chef Masters . ( Variety ) The Wrap's Josef Adalian takes a look at what appear to be the first

Channel Surfing: Future of "Chuck" Hinges on "Trauma," "Southland" May Land at TNT, FOX Committed to Airing All 13 Episodes of "Dollhouse," and More

Welcome to your Tuesday morning television briefing. Following last week's Chuck -related rumor of an October launch , The Wrap's Josef Adalian is reporting that NBC's plans for action-comedy series Chuck will hinge on last night's ratings performance for medical drama Trauma , which has been tanking since its launch and is said to be on cancellation watch. Adalian cites unnamed NBC insiders who say that there's a "very small chance" that Chuck could return as early as the end of the month but goes on to say that there's one scenario in discussion at the Peacock that has Chuck returning to its Monday nights at 8 pm timeslot, with Heroes shifting back to 9 pm, should Trauma need to be pulled from the lineup. "If Trauma goes down, however, it's very likely Chuck will be back before year's end. And if Trauma really tanks, Ausiello's October surprise scenario could well transpire," writes Adalian. "But NBC insiders know

Channel Surfing: Graham Reaches "Parenthood" Deal, Cudlitz Lashes Out at NBC, Pompeo Won't Be Missing from "Grey's," and More

Welcome to your Monday morning television briefing. NBC and Universal Media Studios have reached a deal with former Gilmore Girls star Lauren Graham to come aboard midseason drama series Parenthood . Graham will replace ailing actress Maura Tierney, who was forced to bow out of the project due to health issues, on the Jason Katims-created drama, based on the 1989 feature film. She'll play a harried single mom with two kids who moves her family in with her parents in order to jumpstart her life. ( Variety ) Entertainment Weekly 's Michael Ausiello talks to Southland star Michael Cudlitz about the sudden cancellation of the NBC cop drama. "In retrospect, I saw it coming," Cudlitz told Ausiello. "We were two weeks away from airing and [the cancellation news] has created more press for the show than NBC has put into it on its own. They ran the first [ Southland ] ad — a 30-second spot — last Friday, and that’s the only one that they ran. That’s not a relaunch. Wh

Channel Surfing: NBC Drops Axe on "Southland," CBS Books "Hawaii Five-O," Marc Cherry Developing New ABC Series, and More

Welcome to your Friday morning television briefing. NBC has axed Southland ... before the cop drama even began its second season. The Peacock made the announcement about Southland 's demise yesterday afternoon, informing studio Warner Bros. Television had it was cancelling the series, which had so far shot six episodes for its sophomore season, slated to begin October 23rd. NBC was quick to point to the series' dark storylines and tone, saying that it wasn't appropriate for a 9 pm timeslot. For their part, creator John Wells and Warner Bros. Television will begin to shop the series to other networks. (Editor: TNT is a likely first port of call for the series.) "I'm disappointed that NBC no longer has the time periods available to support the kind of critically acclaimed series that was for so many years a hallmark of their success," said Wells in a statement. "We remain extremely proud of Southland and are actively looking for another home for the serie

Channel Surfing: Whedon Talks "Dollhouse" Season Two, J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot Lands FOX Comedy, Amaury Nolasco Leaves "Southland," and More

Welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing. Los Angeles Times ' Show Tracker has an interview with Dollhouse creator Joss Whedon about Season Two of the FOX drama series, which returns on Friday. Asked about how malleable the future depicted in the unaired thirteen episode "Epitaph One" is, Whedon said, "We talked about whether it was malleable or not, and right now we pretty much take it as gospel. But then we have a lot of different opinions about how it gets there and who does what. We're fascinated by the implications of this future, and a lot of this season has been guided by it without being so beholden to it that people who didn't see it won't understand. We were incited by the idea that the abuse of power is more widespread than just this one house." ( Los Angeles Times ' Show Tracker ) J.J. Abrams' production shingle Bad Robot has landed a pilot presentation order from FOX for a half-hour comedy series that's being

Channel Surfing: NBC Delays "Southland," "Chuck" Co-Creator Josh Schwartz to Pen CBS Comedy Script, "Heathers" Resurrected at FOX, and More

Welcome to your Thursday morning television briefing. NBC has announced that it is delaying the second season launch of Southland by a month. The Warner Bros. Television-produced series, which premiered last spring, was slated to launch its sophomore season on Friday, September 25th but will now instead debut on Friday, October 23rd. The reason behind the late change? According to Variety 's Michael Schneider, "insiders said the Peacock hopes to use the extra month to further promote the show, which they worried was getting lost in the fall marketing shuffle." Southland was meant to launch on the same evening as Medium and Dollhouse . ( Variety ) Chuck co-creator Josh Schwartz and Chuck producer Matt Miller will write an untitled multi-camera comedy pilot script for CBS about a twenty-something couple who have just gotten married and return home after their honeymoon and must learn how to navigate life together. (The premise was inspired by Schwartz and Miller'