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Showing posts from May, 2007

Switching Off: Televisionary is on Vacation

You read that right. I'm off, post Upfronts and LA Screenings, for a much-deserved break and some down time. Confession time: we're off to Napa and there isn't even a television in our hotel room. (Quelle horreur!) For those of you who understand that a television-free existence (even for just a week) is akin to a form of Geneva Convention-forbidden torture, rest assured that I'll return in a week's time, rested and ready to talk about all things Pirate Master (which launches Thursday night at 8 pm on CBS). In the meantime, be sure to visit Televisionary's brand spanking new MySpace profile page and check out what I'll be watching this summer , as well as some of my recent advance pilot reviews, including Pushing Daisies , Chuck , and The Return of Jezebel James . I promise to get to Dirty Sexy Money , Sam I Am , Bionic Woman , Sarah Connor Chronicles , and several others (I've now seen ALL of the pilots for the new fall season) when I return next wee

Summer of (TV) Love: What I'm Watching This Summer

Remember when summer television was an oxymoron? Now, instead of warmed-over reruns and stale burn-offs, broadcast and cable networks are increasingly giving us fresh fare during the warmer months. Will CBS' Pirate Master be the latest reality juggernaut to launch during the summer, following in the footsteps of Survivor , American Idol , and The Amazing Race ? (Fingers crossed that it's a bona fide hit.) Will we get sucked into the topsy-turvy world of high stakes litigator Patty Hughes (Glenn Close) on FX's Damages ? Turn up the A/C, grab an ice cold caipirinha, sit back, and relax... Here are the series that I'll be watching this summer. MA Y Hidden Palms (CW) After a disastrous viral ad campaign , the CW has unceremoniously dumped its latest teen drama in a summer slot with barely any promotion or advertising (sorry but those Three Stooges-inspired 8-second "commercials" don't count); but don't count this Desperate Housewives meets The OC out

Suntans, Swimming Pools, and Murder on CW's New Series, "Hidden Palms"

I'll admit it. I was rather sucked in by the CW's eight-episode teen drama, Hidden Palms , the latest offering from Kevin Williamson ( Dawson's Creek , Scream ). For those of you who missed my original review of the pilot last May, below is an updated version of that review, now that I've seen the actual series. While Williamson's last few series have failed to click with viewers ( Wasteland , Glory Days ), he's returned with this series to the blend of thriller/mysteries and teen angst that he's best known for. The result is something along the lines of Desperate Housewives crossed with The OC . (Though I am seriously baffled by critics' recent usage of Twin Peaks as a reference.) Back in Seattle, Johnny Miller ( The OC 's Taylor Handley) was the perfect son: studious, well behaved, and clean-cut. But that was before his drunk father (guest star Tim DeKay of HBO's Carnivale ) shot himself right in front of Johnny's eyes. Two years and a s

Re-Casting Couch?

The networks may have only just announced their fall schedules last week but that doesn't mean that there won't be a slew of recasting as series make their way into production in the next few weeks. In fact, several roles are already being cast and a few of those series that didn't make the cut onto the fall schedule (like FOX's Saving Sam , formerly known as Deeply Irresponsible , and CW's Eight Days a Week ) aren't exactly dead yet. Look for some retooling and recasting on a couple of those programs "missing" from the network lineups. Over at CBS, the Angel / Forever Knight ripoff Moonlight (which previously went under the moniker Twilight ), about a vampiric private investigator torn between his conflicting desires of redemption and bloodlust (sound familiar?), is looking to recast its female lead. The pilot presentation 's nosy reporter role was played by The O.C.' s Shannon Lucio but the network is now reporting that Lucio is out and th

Mary-Kate Sparks Up for Season Three of "Weeds"

In one of the, er, oddest bits of casting recently, Showtime announced that Mary-Kate Olsen will join the cast of drama Weeds , which returns for its third season of pot-scented shenanigans August 13th. Mary-Kate Olsen (remind me, is that the blonde one?) will play Tara, a Christian who moves into a new planned community sponsored by a local evangelical church, located next to the Botwin's Agrestic. Tara will quickly become a new love interest for Nancy's son Silas (Hunter Parrish) and Olsen is already contracted to appear in 10 of the 15 episodes ordered for Season Three. " Weeds isn't your eight-o'-clock family fare," says creator Jenji Kohan. "It's an adult show with adult subject matter and we're confident Mary-Kate is right for the role. She came in and read with Hunter and was absolutely charming and real and seemed like a great fit. Audiences have seen only one side of Mary-Kate but here, we'll see her in a whole new light." (I co

Good Vibrations: Through the Looking Glass on the Season Finale of "Lost"

Oh. My. God. I am still completely gobsmacked after watching last night's season finale of Lost ("Through the Looking Glass"), which--as promised--totally altered the series in a game-changing episode that will have all of us scratching our heads until the show returns next February. As soon as a grizzly bearded Jack appeared on screen at the beginning of the episode, I instantly knew that we were seeing a Lost first: a flash forward in time that would change the direction of the series forever. It's an ambitious gambit to change everything about a series in the fourth season, but if anyone can pull it off it's the awe-inspiring duo of Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof (whose voices, FYI, appeared in last night's episodes); the fate of the series balances on a knife's edge but I have faith that this turn in direction is a positive thing. Many of us thought that last night's episode would contain some explanation for Jack's strange behavior of late,

"Rob Thomas is a Whore" and Other Things I'll Miss About "Veronica Mars"

I really can't believe it's over. While last night's episode of Veronica Mars was touted by the CW as a "season finale," it's clear that the series has come to the end of the road and I, for one, am completely gutted. It's one thing when a show peters out over several seasons and by Season Seven or so you become indifferent to one of your favorite series, but Veronica Mars still had a hell of a lot of potential--despite the awkward, sometimes off-putting single episode mysteries--and managed to restart itself in the two-hour finale. One of the funniest moments in last night's Veronica Mars finale ("Weevils Wobble But They Don't Fall Over"/"The Bitch is Back") was a hilariously tongue-firmly-in-cheek scathing indictment of CW-style product placement as the gang name drop Venus razors ("Veronica Mars uses a Venus razor?"), People magazine, Saturn hybrid cars, and Matchbox 20, allowing Piz to take a swipe at Veronica M

AMC Ready to Take On Meth with "Breaking Bad"

Showtime has Weeds and now AMC has its very own suburban drug drama. The cabler is said to be close to greenlighting original drama Breaking Bad , starring Bryan Cranston ( Malcolm in the Middle ) as a terminally ill high school science teacher who becomes a crystal meth dealer (and manufacturer) in order to provide for his family after he dies. Breaking Bad --written by, directed, and executive produced by Vince Gilligan ( The X-Files )-- was shot earlier this year but AMC had debated whether or not to grant the project a series order. The series order for the project comes at a time when the cabler is attempting to make a major push into scripted series; AMC is launching period drama Mad Men --about 1950s advertising execs--this summer and currently airs the fourth season of crime drama Hustle , a co-production with the BBC. It's worth noting that the network also recently announced development of an updated version of British cult classic The Prisoner , but should we be nervou

Pilot Inspektor: NBC's "Chuck"

While Pushing Daisies is undoubtedly my favorite new series for this fall , I can now say that I've definitely found my runner-up: action dramedy Chuck , which launches this fall on NBC. Chuck is a perfect blend of kick-ass action, hilarious comedy, romantic intrigue and nerd humor. It also, like fellow Warner Bros. Television series Pushing Daisies , has one of the most instantly likeable, charismatic casts on television. For those of you not in the know, Chuck revolves around lovelorn twenty-something Chuck (Zachary Levi), the head of a Nerd Herd (think Geek Squad, only without the product placement) at a Buy More store; he's still after years hung up on a college girlfriend who left him for his far cooler roommate Bryce Larkin ( Traveler 's Matthew Bomer). Said roommate, a gymnast and engineer, has since moved onto bigger things. Like being a rogue CIA spy who breaks into a highly secure government facility to steal an image-based intelligence software program that enc

NBC Keeps Eye on "Watch"

Following the network upfront announcements last week, NBC has very quietly lifted the director contingency from one-hour drama pilot The Watch this week. The Watch , from Sony Pictures Television, revolves around a group of neighborhood watch volunteers willing to do anything--including murder--to keep their tree-lined suburban paradise safe. Project, from writers Ed Decter and John J. Strauss ( There's Something About Mary ), was originally ordered to pilot back in January but was put on hold until a suitable director could be found. Charles McDougall, who directed the pilots of next season's Big Shots , as well as The Tudors and Desperate Housewives , as been hired to helm The Watch , lifting the project's contingency. Personally, The Watch was one of my least favorite drama pilot scripts this season, so I'm slightly baffled as to why NBC wouldn't wait until August to reevaluate it alongside several other scripts in contention for pilot orders. Stay tuned.

Pilot Inspektor: FOX's "The Return of Jezebel James"

I can't tell you how heartbroken I am. It's always a sad day when something fails to meet your expectations and, while there were several pilots I was anxious to see, The Return of Jezebel James was definitely towards the top of my list. Let me begin by saying that I've been talking endlessly about Jezebel James for the past few months. As a huge Amy Sherman-Palladino fan, I've reported every single casting decision on the pilot and have been more than a little in love with the script since I read it back in December. Which made my recent viewing of the pilot all the more, well, upsetting. Quick 411 on the pilot: it's written and directed by Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino (she of the whip-smart dialogue and penchant for wacky hatwear) and follows the complicated relationship between two very different estranged sisters: older sis Sarah (Parker Posey) is a children's book editor for a major publisher (one of her series of novels revolves around th

"The Simpsons" Reaches 400th Episode Milestone

I'll admit that I've kind of tuned out The Simpsons in recent years, as its once witty humor has turned predictable and tired. What was once the most well crafted, intelligent series on television has buckled under the weight of 400 episodes, each with zany plotlines and characters that steadfastly refuse to change or age. So imagine my surprise when I tuned in to catch the series' 399th and 400th episodes and discovered that The Simpsons , while nowhere near the standard it set for itself years before, can still manage to tickle my funny bone. The 399th episode, "24 Minutes" brought the audience a parody of fellow FOX series 24 , in which Lisa and Bart work for CTU, the Counter Truancy Unit, and must work together to defuse a terrorist situation involving a bully-made stink bomb and a school bake sale. (It's all the more funny for the fact that it's more amusing and engaging than the current season of 24 (which wraps its sixth season tonight) has consis

"Ugly Betty" Finishes Its Season with a Less Than Pretty Finale

One of my main complaints about Ugly Betty is its tendency to become mawkish rather than revel in its fun, soapy atmosphere. Amanda and Christina getting trapped inside Fay's love dungeon? Classic. Marc getting traded to rival designer Fabia so that Wilhelmina could score her chosen wedding day at Saint Patrick's Cathedral? Hilarious. Santos getting gunned down in a store robbery and Hilda having a mental breakdown outside the auditorium where Justin performs (and dies onstage) in West Side Story? Not so much. Remember, please, that this is the series that won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy series, beating out NBC's The Office . Yes, that's best COMEDY series. What we've been seeing lately with storylines involving Ignacio's immigration problem, Daniel's sex addiction, and--yes--Santos' wrong place, wrong time murder just doesn't jibe with a show that can, at times (usually involving Marc, Amanda, Wilhelmina, or Justin) be laugh-out loud hilari

Jobs, Schrute Bucks, and Confessions on the Season Finale of "The Office"

Was that not the best ending ever? I predicted last week that Jim and Pam would get together and it feels good to know that I'm still in tune with what The Office 's writers are thinking. What a satisfying and creatively fulfilling way to end the season, not with the grand gesture of a stolen kiss (like in last year's finale) but with a seemingly simplistic request for a date. Ah, young love. Last night's one-hour season finale of The Office ("The Job") proved that the show can work as a one-hour, a VERY good thing considering that earlier this week NBC ordered 30 episodes of the series for next season , including five one-hour installments. If they're as well coordinated and executed as "The Job," Season Four just might be a treasure rather than a botched experiment waiting to happen. Fingers crossed it's the former. In any event, last night's installment crystallized exactly what makes us love The Office : those completely real, awkwar

Network Scorecard: FOX

Sadly, this is it. The end of Upfronts week. Traditionally FOX has the last announcements of the season and they've made a pledge to keep their presentations this year to a shorter-than-short one-hour, a welcome respite from this week's low points which included a song-and-dance from the cast of Ugly Betty , a gruesomely dull (and yet unintentionally hilarious) interactive Bingo Night preview, and Les Moonves using the word "dude." Will FOX do something zany like shift their popular Sunday night animation block to the middle of the week? Or push Bones to Friday? Let's find out. "This is the most stable and most vibrant schedule ever presented by FOX one that is sure to help us secure our fourth consecutive season as the No. 1 network in key demos," said FOX Entertainment President Peter Liguori. "We'll have a balanced schedule across the week, and we expect a significantly stronger fourth quarter. And in early 2008, 24 and American Idol , alo