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Channel Surfing: 4.11.06

NBC Robs "Heist" of Its Timeslot

NBC is sending midseason crime caper drama Heist to TV jail.

The series, which starred Dougray Scott (left, looking rather, um, something) as the head of a group of thieves plotting to simultaneously rob three Rodeo Drive jewelers, got off to an extremely rocky start. Originally scheduled in the 10 pm Wednesday timeslot (home to NBC's Law & Order) and bowing to above-average numbers, Heist was quickly shifted the following week to the much more competitive 9 pm Wednesday timeslot, where it had to go up against ratings behemoths American Idol on FOX and Lost on ABC.

According to Variety, the series is not expected to air after showing its fourth episode next week. Looks like those thieves couldn't steal an audience...

ABC.com To Take On iTunes?

The Hollywood Reporter reports that ABC will offer some of its most highly rated shows, including as dramas Desperate Housewives and Lost, for free online as part of a two-month trial. (ABC already sells download-versions of those and other programs on Apple's iTunes site.) The move comes at a time when many networks are exploring online and/or VOD formats for second windows after they have aired on broadcast television... and when viewership numbers for primetime continue to drop.

ABC has selected dramas Commander in Chief and Alias, along with the aforementioned Lost and Desperate Housewives, as part of the trial program. Those programs will become available on the the network's website ABC.com beginning in May and June and appearing online the day after their initial broadcast. Additionally, ABC will offer the entire season of Alias episodes, which are not available via iTunes. Viewers will be able to pause and select individual episode chapters; however, they will not be able to skip embedded ads.

While it's great that ABC is offering the programs for free, at least during this test, I'd personally rather download the episodes on iTunes, without the pesky embedded ads or corporate sponsorship spots. Or, you know, watch the shows on TV in the first place... I think VOD is the next step these networks should be reaching towards, but it should be on the television and not the computer.

Fox "On The Lot" with Spielberg and Burnett

Reality TV guru Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Apprentice, and, um, The Restaurant) is at it again, partnering with filmmaker Steven Spielberg and Fox for On The Lot, a reality show that will pit aspiring directors against one another in a competition to win a DreamWorks development deal.

Like American Idol, Fox will schedule the show over two nights each week. While insiders say that the show will likely be ready to air next season, it's still unknown whether On the Lot will make it to the airwaves in the fall or spring, where it could possibly be paired with reality behemoth American Idol.

The show will select would-be auteurs from around the U.S. and herd them into teams. Each week, the teams will produce a short film from a specific genre and--a la Burnett's Apprentice--one member of the team will take the lead on the project, serving as director. The films will then be screened before a live audience and a select panel of judges. (If the show is anything like American Idol, one of them will be a rather snarky fellow.)

Viewer votes will determine the losing short and that film's director will be sent home, probably with an indelible catchphrase that will hopefully be more memorable than that used by Martha Stewart. On the Lot's eventual winner will win a development deal at DreamWorks, the studio that Spielberg used to partially own. And if the show is anything like Burnett's Apprentice, the winner will never be heard from again, except during the show's next season, where they will be carted out and forced to smile endlessly and pretend that this show was the best thing that ever happened to them.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: NCIS (CBS); Most Outrageous Moments/Scrubs (NBC); Gilmore Girls (WB); It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown/Hope & Faith (ABC); American Idol (FOX); America's Next Top Model (UPN)

9 pm: The Unit (CBS); Scrubs/Teachers (NBC); Pepper Dennis (WB); The 10 Commandments (ABC; 9-11 pm); House (FOX); Veronica Mars (UPN)

10 pm: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS); Conviction (NBC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: Gilmore Girls.

After last week's truly disastrous episode, Gilmore Girls returns this week with a new episode, fortunately written by the talented Daniel Palladino. On tonight's hopefully significantly better episode ("The Real Paul Anka"), Lorelai has a bizarre dream in which her canine companion Paul Anka meets his real-life namesake (and yes, Paul Anka does guest star). Meanwhile, Rory visits former flame Jess--now with an even worse hairstyle, if that were possible--at his new bookstore/publishing house in Philadelphia, where she encounters Luke, chaperoning his recently discovered daughter April's school trip. And where's Rory's current beau Logan? Well, he's off Yale's infamous Life and Death Brigade on another daring stunt, of course!

9 pm: Veronica Mars.

Hmmm, dreams seem to be a recurring motif tonight. In tonight's new episode of Veronica Mars ("I Am God"), Veronica is haunted by nightmares in which the students killed in that still-unsolved bus crash confront her, while Papa Keith Mars is hired by the high school to investigate the validity of a mysterious illness that is allowing teens to postpone their exams. Meanwhile, Logan and Weevil are friends again (or well, frenemies) when they reluctantly team up for a physics project that might net their pal Veronica a crucial scholarship. Hmmm, not sure I'd really want Weevil or Logan doing anything academically-related on my behalf...

I should also make a special announcement for all Los Angeles-area Veronica fans: due to Major League Baseball, UPN is airing tonight's Veronica Mars at 1:00 pm. If you are TiVo-free--and if so, why?--or can't stay up until 2 am watching Veronica, UPN is also airing the episode tomorrow night at 9 pm, opposite Lost, in its old timeslot. Decisions, decisions...

Comments

Thunder Road said…
On the Lot - interesting.

Oh, so THAT'S why VM is on at 1. I thought my tivo just found it there because it conflits with House & Scrubs (though, I am pretty sure VM is higher in my season pass list than either of those two, so now it makes much more sense).
Thunder Road said…
That's me, Ally. Apparently, I have a blogger account. Who knew?
Jace Lacob said…
HA! That's hysterical. Perhaps we all have Blogger accounts that we are unaware of...

Re: Veronica Mars, I too was confused at first why my TiVo was recording it at 1 am, but mystery solved. But now we'll have to wait until tomorrow--already filled with Amazing Race, Lost, Top Chef, and What Not to Wear--to catch the episode... And it looks like quite a doozy from the promos.

As for On the Lot, not sure how I feel about the show yet. It could be interesting, but it seems better suited for a summer airing than during the regular network season. However, I am totally stoked for NBC's Treasure Hunters... I cannot wait!

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