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Televisionary

Back in 2006, I founded a television blog called Televisionary (the very one you're reading now).  At the time, it was a little side-project that I stared while working in television development: something to do during the off-hours or (my infrequent) down-time or at my desk during my lunch breaks.  Over the next few years, Televisionary morphed into a full-time job as I watched almost everything on television and cataloged my thoughts, penning reviews, conducting interviews with talent, breaking news, and aggregating the day’s entertainment news headlines and major listings every morning. It got noticed by Entertainment Weekly and The New York Times , The Chicago Tribune and CNN, Deadline and Variety . Televisionary took on a life of its own. It became discussed in Hollywood and I was always surprised to discover that actors or producers or executives who read my TV blog. It was a secret at first, one that I eventually shared with a few friends before spreading outwards, thanks

Yep, It's True: I'm Heading to BuzzFeed

A change is coming and I'm going to get personal right now. I haven't posted anything personal on this blog in quite some time, probably ever since I was promoted to West Coast Deputy Bureau Chief at The Daily Beast back in October 2012 and stepped way back from the blog. When I founded Televisionary in the blogging hinterlands of February 2006, I did feel like a bit of an outsider, a television blogger who approached the medium and the work as though I were doing it full-time. It was a lark, something I did while I was also working in television development (and later in acquisitions/programming for a British television network), a chance to exercise my writing muscle while slaving away in the industry. Later, I would pour my heart and soul into this site, after I was pink-slipped, seeing it as less of a diversion and more of a means to an end. More than seven years later, it's astonishing to me to see where those first steps have led me. First, to freelancing gigs wit

Televisionary Turns Five Years Old!

Happy birthday! Televisionary is five years old today. I want to thank all of you loyal readers who have made this site the success that it is today. For those of you who haven't been around as long as Televisionary itself, the site has gone through several iterations over the past five years, but has always been an outlet for me to specifically write about television. When I first started Televisionary back in February of 2006, I was working in the television industry and started the site as a way to discuss television outside of the office in more critical terms and sidestep some of the conventions of the development (and later acquisitions) discussions that these conversations tended to fall into during the day. This was before the pink-slip that changed everything (I'm looking at you, Autumn 2008) but changes in job situations, marital status, and the economy had yet to occur when I first sat down to write Televisionary's first post (which, if I remember correctly

In Defense of Downton Abbey (Or, Don't Believe Everything You Read)

The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating. Which means, if I can get on my soapbox for a minute, that in order to judge something, one ought to experience it first hand. One can't know how the pudding has turned out until one actually tastes it. I was asked last week--while I was on vacation with my wife--for an interview by a journalist from The Daily Mail, who got in touch to talk to me about PBS' upcoming launch of ITV's period drama Downton Abbey , which stars Hugh Bonneville, Dame Maggie Smith, Dan Stevens, Elizabeth McGovern, and a host of others. (It launches on Sunday evening as part of PBS' Masterpiece Classic ; my advance review of the first season can be read here , while my interview with Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes and stars Dan Stevens and Hugh Bonneville can be read here .) Normally, I would have refused, just based on the fact that I was traveling and wasn't working, but I love Downton Abbey and am so enchanted with the p

Poll: What Are You Most Looking Forward to Watching This Winter?

Happy New Year, everyone! I'm back after a much needed vacation. I hope your holidays were as lovely as mine, which included playing host to some visiting family, a luxurious trip to Napa with my wife, and more screeners than you can shake a TiVo remote at. Yes, we watched a host of DVDs for new and returning television series, including Shameless, Big Love, Lights Out, Episodes, Justified, V, The Chicago Code, Breaking In, Harry's Law, The Cape , and much more. With the Television Critics Association's Winter Press Tour just a few days away, there's still a lot more to get through before the beginning of the twice-yearly critics' gathering. But I'm curious to know what you were all up to and what upcoming television you're most looking forward to over the next few weeks? Can't wait for the return of those scaly aliens on V ? Looking to head down the pub with the Gallaghers on Showtime's Shameless ? Tip your hat at Timothy Olyphant's Raylan Gi

Test Pattern: What's Your Indispensable TV Network?

We all have the networks--whether broadcast or cable, legacy or newbie--that we gravitate to, but I was wondering this morning about so-called indispensable networks. Given that I write about television, nearly all networks could be said to be indispensable in one way or another, but what I was pondering was that one specific television channel that you can't turn away from, that you automatically switch to when you turn on the television, or which you have on as background while you're doing other things in our multi-tasking obsessed society. Many years ago, that channel was--perhaps not surprisingly for those of you who know me--Food Network, but it was replaced by BBC America around 2000 and for many years that was my go-to network, the one spot on the metaphorical dial that I could always depend on for diverting fare, soothing background noise, or a sense of the familiar and comforting. For whatever the reason, sadly, that's not the case anymore and--shock, horror--

Yes, It's True (And What It Means for Televisionary)

If you follow me on Twitter , then you likely saw my news on Friday afternoon : my new role is that of TV Columnist for The Daily Beast. Longtime visitors to this site know that I've been writing features for The Daily Beast for well over a year now , but my relationship with Tina Brown's site has been on a freelance basis. Roughly a month ago, I entered into a new relationship with the news and entertainment site that solidifies my position there and shifts things into a far less transient arrangement. And while the paperwork has taken quite some time to finish, I can now officially announce my new gig. So what does that mean for Televisionary? In terms of the big picture, absolutely nothing at the moment. I've been juggling this and my freelance pieces for well over a year now. In terms of the small picture, it might mean some changes in terms of content and what I choose to write about here. Why am I telling you this? Because I don't want you think that I won'

AOL Television's Skype Second Opinion: Community's "Basic Rocket Science"

What did you think of last night's episode of Community ? This week marked another go on AOL Television's Skype Second Opinions, where I connected via Skype to ramble on for a few minutes about this week's episode of Community ("Basic Rocket Science"), which included an Apollo 13 homage, the KFC Eleven Herbs and Space Experience, butt flags, heroes' welcomes, SANDERS, and more. (You can read my advance review of this episode here .) You can watch the video in full over here at AOL Television or right below. Next week on Community ("Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples"), Shirley consults Abed when she decides to make a religious film, but the two end up clashing after Abed reveals his plans to make one, too; Pierce is recruited by a group of students his own age.

An Open Letter to FX: Please Keep Terriers Around

Dear FX, This fall television network has been pretty lousy at the broadcast networks. Massively hyped series have fizzled and viewers seem largely turned off by the prospects for new offerings, with several series already cancelled. It's likely that the axe will fall on a bunch more before winter comes. Which is why your new series, Terriers , is such a breath of fresh air amid a what's largely a creatively stagnant landscape this fall. For some reason, viewers haven't flocked to this remarkable series. Perhaps it was the odd choice of title (it's not about dogs or dog breeders, despite the scrappiness of our protagonists) or the advertising campaign that played up images of snarling, biting, and scrappy dogs rather than focus on the beachy private investigator angle or series leads Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James. Or perhaps this would have performed better in the summer rather than competing against a crush of new series, all premiering at the same time an

AOL Television's Skype Second Opinion: The Season Opener of NBC's Community

What did you think of last night's episode of Community ? While I've been raving about the second season opener for weeks now , I also was asked to host AOL Television's Skype Second Opinions, where I connected via Skype and rambled on for a full three minutes about Community 's "Anthropology 101" episode, my thoughts on the fantastic opening sequence (set to Vampire Weekend's "Campus"), the most un-erotic kiss ever on television, urine-swigging June Bauer (Betty White), that sucker-punch to the gut, and Ken Jeong's terrifyingly twisted Ben Chang. You can watch the video in full over here at AOL Television or right below. Next week on Community ("The Psychology of Letting Go"), the study group comforts Pierce after the death of his mother; Professor Duncan tries to take over the anthropology class.

Lost Time: The ABC Drama Turns Six Years Old Today

As I said over on Twitter early this morning, "Six years ago today, Oceanic Flight 815 left Sydney for Los Angeles...and took our hearts with it. Happy birthday, Lost ." It's hard to believe that it's been six years since the passengers of the doomed Oceanic Flight crashed on that mythical, magical island and launched not only a television saga for the ages, but also a series of copycat programs that the original far outlived and an enduring legacy. While my feelings about the series finale are no secret (you can read my behemoth 4000-plus word post about the finale here and my shorter late-night take at The Daily Beast ), I still have a deep love for this series, which challenged the conventions of network drama series and introduced an overarching mythology whose spell many of us fell under in the years to come. My relationship with the series dates back more than six years to when I first viewed the feature-length pilot episode in a tiny office in May of 2004.

The Daily Beast Exclusive: "Top Chef's Surprise Finish"

Still scratching your head over last night's season finale of Top Chef ? Head over to The Daily Beast, where you can read my latest feature, " Top Chef 's Surprise Finish," an exclusive interview with the culinary competition series' executive producers Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz--yes, the brains behind the ubiquitous Magical Elves--as we discuss the winner, what went wrong this season, culinary tourism, the language of reality television, and Justin Bieber. (Yes, you read that last bit correctly.) Head to the comments section to share your thoughts about the now-wrapped Washington D.C.-set season of Top Chef and whether you enjoyed the season or thought that it lacked the sophisticated palate of previous seasons... and what you'd do to correct any of the show's current issues, should you have any.

The Daily Beast: "Nine Shows to Watch, Six Shows to Shun"

My fall TV preview--or at least part of it, anyway--is finally up. Head over to The Daily Beast, where you can read my latest feature, "Nine Shows to Watch, Six Shows to Shun," where I offer up nine new series to watch this fall and six shows to avoid like the plague. Just which ended up on which list? Hint, The Event ended up on my worst-of list, while things like Boardwalk Empire, Terriers, Nikita, Sherlock, Luther, Undercovers and others ended up on my watch list. (While The Walking Dead is on there, I still--like every other critic--have not seen a full episode, so there's that to consider.) But while this is my list, I'm also extremely curious to find out what you're looking forward to this autumn. What are you most excited about watching this fall? Head to the comments section to discuss, debate, and tear into my list.

Televisionary: En Vacances

Just a heads up that I'm officially on vacation and heading out of town, so thoughts on Sunday night's episodes of Mad Men and True Blood --along with Emmy reactions--will be delayed until I return. In a weird twist of fate, my birthday weekend just happens to coincide with Emmys weekend this year (normally the latter is in September, whereas my birthday, um, stays the same each year), so I'm skipping everything Emmy-related. No after-parties, no flashy suit, no overindulging at HBO's Pacific Design Center shindig or the the after-after-party at the Chateau for me this year. What I will be doing is taking a respite from work--and, scarily, from television--for a few days to recharge my mental batteries and soak up some much-needed relaxation. See you on the other side. Or as soon as I post a link to my last Emmy-related story for this year from over at The Daily Beast, that is.

The Daily Beast: "Scott Pilgrim Gets a Life"

Okay, it's not quite television-focused but given that it does deal with one of my favorite all-time television series ( Spaced ), I figured that I had to plug it here. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, entitled " Scott Pilgrim Gets a Life," where I talk to Michael Cera, Edgar Wright, and Bryan Lee O'Malley about their feature film, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World , which hits theatres on Friday. Based on the graphic novel series by Bryan Lee O'Malley, the film stars Cera as the titular hero and features a huge cast that includes Brandon Routh, Chris Evans, Jason Schwartzman, Aubrey Plaza, Mae Whitman, Alison Pill, Kieran Culkin, and more. Plus, Edgar Wright and I talked about Spaced and the similarities between the British comedy series Spaced (which Wright co-created with Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes) and Scott Pilgrim itself, part of an amazing half-hour interview at San Diego Comic-Con (which was itself interrupted by the appearance o

CONFIRMED: Jane Badler to Play Alien Queen on ABC's V

It's a homecoming of sorts. Televisionary has confirmed reports that Jane Badler, who starred in NBC's 1983 miniseries V (and the subsequent V: The Final Battle and the short-lived 1984-1985 series) and is currently recurring on Aussie soap Neighbours , has been cast in ABC's revival series, which returns for a second season in November. V showrunner/executive producer Scott Rosenbaum teased crowds at the V panel at San Diego Comic-Con (moderated by yours truly) when he let slip that we would soon be meeting the mother of Visitor high commander Anna (Morena Baccarin) and that Mommy Dearest's name was, um, Diana. (I then asked Rosenbaum point-blank if Badler would be cast and he declined to answer.) Rosenbaum today confirmed a TV Guide Magazine report that indicated that Badler had been cast in the role. "I'm very excited," Rosenbaum said to me via email earlier today. "As I said [at] Comic Con, the role would go to the best actor. Jane's

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts: I Am Now Officially a Friday Night Lights Convert

Confession time: I'm a recent convert to Friday Night Lights . In the world of television, it's often necessary to make a judgment based on a pilot episode of a series. In fact, one job I held in Hollywood made it absolutely necessary to do just that: determine what would be a worthwhile series based on the pilot script and then the shot pilot. With financial investments on the line, it was imperative that one make a snap judgment based on a single episode of a series. In a lot of cases, that initial judgment proves to be the correct one. But sometimes, the pilot doesn't quite match the full potential of the subsequent series. When I originally watched the pilot for NBC's Friday Night Lights , it didn't click with me. I found it preachy, saccharine, riddled with some awkward dialogue, and placing far too much emphasis on the football aspect. I wrote off the series for a bit and then, when I heard about the creative struggles of Season Two, I opted not to go back

The Daily Beast: "Steve Carell to Leave The Office: End the Show"

Steve Carell made headlines earlier this week when he restated his intentions to leave The Office after the end of next season . Over at The Daily Beast, I discuss why NBC should cancel The Office after Carell leaves rather than attempt to rejigger the ensemble cast or bring in a new manager for the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin. You can read my latest piece, "Steve Carell to Leave The Office : End the Show" here. Be sure to head to the comments section to discuss your own feelings about whether the creative spark has gone out at the once superb workplace comedy and what the network should do with the series post-Carell.

Requiem for a Dream: Saying Goodbye to Lost

"To everything there is a season..." As hard as it is to fathom, the end is upon us. Lost will end six seasons of mysteries, mythology, and smoke monsters with a two-and-a-half hour series finale tonight as ABC devotes what seems like seven hours to ending one of the greatest and most ambitious serialized storylines ever devised. My relationship to Lost dates back to May 2004, when I was still working in television development. On that particular day in late May, a box of pilots arrived at the studio where I worked, as they did every spring like clockwork after the network upfronts. Among the offerings, many of which have now been forgotten to the dustbin of time, was the two-hour pilot for Lost , which was co-written and directed by J.J. Abrams, then coming off of a successful run on ABC's Alias . We had been waiting for this day for quite some time. I remember that our boss was out of the office that week, so several of us furtively entered his office and sat

Televisionary Heads Back to AOL's Instant Dharma

It's time for some more Instant Dharma. Last night, I had the extreme pleasure of being invited back to AOL's weekly Lost -centric show Instant Dharma , where I joined host Maggie Furlong and Kate Aurthur, my editor at The Daily Beast, to discuss this week's episode of Lost ("The Candidate"), where we talked about--SPOILERS!--this week's tragic deaths, another failed getaway attempt, why the castaways are now family, and much more. You can catch my appearance on this week's episode of Instant Dharma below and read my further take on "The Candidate" here . The final season of Lost airs Tuesdays at 9 pm ET/PT on ABC.