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Showing posts from September, 2007

Rabies is Real: A Rundown on the "The Office" Season Opener

I'm not entirely sure how I felt about last night's season opener of The Office ("Fun Run"). I really did like the first half-hour but felt that the hour-long format really does not suit this series, which definitely dragged in the second half despite a promising start. I do think that the episode--written and directed by showrunner Greg Daniels--would have been a hell of a lot funnier had it been a standard 30 minute episode (well 20 mins after commercials) rather than a woefully padded hour. So what was last night's episode about in a nutshell? Michael inadvertently runs down Meredith in the Dunder-Mifflin parking lot, putting her in the hospital for a cracked pelvis; unable to accept that she won't forgive him, Michael later learns that because of her stay, the doctors found that Meredith had rabies. Michael then launches a charity 5K fun run in order to raise awareness for this "silent killer" and forces the employees to participate. Pam catche

Aspen Showdown: Final Four Chefs Face off on the Season Finale of "Top Chef"

I was pretty anxious to see last night's season finale of Top Chef (well, the first half of it, anyway), if only to see which one of these impressive chefs would end up getting cut right before the final showdown. To be honest, I really didn't know which way it would play out as each one of these chefs had wowed me at various points during the competition. What I did know was that I definitely wanted Casey to make it to the final round... So it was interesting that with last night's episode ("Finale, Part One"), the judges decided to mix things up a bit and not have the final cook-off go down between two chefs; instead they'd have three of our finalists face off in one final challenge in Aspen. For me, half the fun of last night's episode had to do with the gorgeous Aspen setting. I love that little town (only been in the winter) and think the Hotel Jerome is just beautiful. I also love game--give me elk, venison, or boar to eat and I am a happy, happy bo

An Advance Look at the "Ugly Betty" Season Premiere

I'll admit that, while I fell under the pratfall-laden charms of Ugly Betty last season, I had grown a little tired of the series' forced sentimentality by the time the season finale had rolled around last May. Or, to be more precise, of the sullen mawkishness Ugly Betty seemed to employ more often then not in lieu of the over-the-top comedy the series claims to be. So, it was with a certain curiosity that I sat down recently to watch an advance screener of Betty 's season premiere ("How Betty Got Her Grieve Back"), which kicks off tonight on ABC. Would the maudlin tone of last season's finale continue over into this season? Or would it actually be a bright, shiny new start for Betty Suarez and Co? Let's find out. What did I like? The telenovela-influenced dream sequence that opens tonight's season premiere, complete with attempted murder, jilted lovers, and one hell of an outfit was the perfect way to begin the new season, tongue-in-cheek and campy

Talk Back: NBC's "Bionic Woman" and ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money" and "Private Practice"

Several of new fall series launched last night, including dramas Bionic Woman , Dirty Sexy Money , and Private Practice . Now that you've seen the pilot episodes of all three series, what were your reactions to these new series? I'll admit that Dirty Sexy Money 's pilot was a full head and shoulders above the original network cut I saw in early May and lived up to the promise of the original script. As for my full feelings about the campy series, you'll have to wait until next week when I discuss the pilot episode and the series' third installment. But one note to producers: no more transsexual hooker storylines; it's been done to death already. As for Private Practice , I'm not a Grey's Anatomy fan, so this isn't normally my cup of medicine-laced tea. That said, I thought that Kate Walsh was as adorable as ever and Tim Daly very charismatic; still, I'm hoping that Addison and Taye Diggs' Sam Bennett hook up (not that I'll be watching).

Peacock Resurrects "Knight Rider" from KITT's Watery Grave

OMG. Could NBC really be bringing Knight Rider back to the small screen... with a K.I.T.T. that transforms? Yes, true believers. It's true. NBC has hired Doug Liman ( The Bourne Identity ) to produce an update of Knight Rider , the 1980s action/adventure drama about a secret agent and his sentient car, voiced by that old guy from Boy Meets World . According to Variety , the project is said to be " Transformers -inspired" and NBC has already ordered a two-hour backdoor pilot for the series, which it plans to air at some point later this season. If the pilot takes, a series could be on the schedule by next fall. Limon is open to directing (can't wait to see the budget overruns on that front), should his feature schedule allow him to take the gig. Dave Andron, who wrote Raines for NBC, has been hired to update the series and will serve as supervising producer on the project. One caveat: that Transformers tag. Ben Silverman was apparently so taken with the recent Mich

Casting Couch: FX Snags Three for Ryan Murphy's New Series

Ryan Murphy's latest FX drama--about a man who discovers that he's a transsexual--has locked three A-list actors as its leads. The untitled project (formerly known as 4 oz. ) from executive producers Ryan Murphy, Brad Pitt, and Dede Gardner and co-writer Brad Falchuk, has cast Joseph Fiennes, Blythe Danner, and Robert Wagner. The cabler has ordered a pilot and three additional scripts for the drama. Joseph Fiennes ("Running with Scissors") will play a married man with two children who decides to begin the arduous process of transforming himself into a woman. Blythe Danner ("Huff") will play Bob's mother Bunny, while Robert Wagner ("Hustle") will play Bob's father Scotch, a doctor who shares a gynecology practice with Bob. Production on the pilot, from studio 20th Century Fox Television, will start at the end of October. What's On Tonight 8 pm: Survivor: China (CBS); My Name is Earl (NBC); Smallville (CW); Ugly Betty (ABC); Are You Sm

"Do You Regret What We Did?": Patty and Ellen Conspire on "Damages"

Wow. I, um, certainly didn't expect that to happen. (Patty sobbing, I mean.) What more is there to say after last night's episode? I was absolutely glued to the television last night, positively riveted, during last night's installment of Damages ("Do You Regret What We Did?"), which pushed the plot into completely new and unexpected directions. I'm still reeling from a few developments including the possible (but highly probable) death of Gregory Malina (Peter Facinelli), the fact that maybe Tom isn't such an asshat after all, and the revelation of Arlington. Frobisher. So it looks like Arthur Frobisher is even more of a villain than I had realized. When he's not seducing the deposition expert Fiske brought in (on his desk, natch), he's covering up even more crimes. I never imagined that there was a Chappaquiddick-esque incident in his past; according to George Moore (formerly known as Baby Carriage Man), Frobisher was involved in a car accident

Huzzah: Sci Fi Renews "Eureka" for Third Season

Fans of Sci Fi's quirky drama Eureka , you are in luck. I've got some excellent news for you. Multiple sources have informed me that the NBC Universal-produced series has been given a third season order by cabler Sci Fi. New episodes of Eureka --most likely thirteen in number--are slated to return next summer. Eureka , which stars Colin Ferguson, Ed Quinn, Joe Morton, Jordan Hinson, and Salli Richardson-Whitfield, wraps its second season next Tuesday night at 9 pm, with the second part of a two-part installment entitled "A Night in Global Dynamics."

Deathwatch: FOX's "Nashville"

Could the fall season already have claimed its first victim? Sure appears that way over at FOX. FOX has announced that it has benched reality series Nashville, effective immediately, and will instead air repeats of new drama K-Ville in its Fridays at 9 pm timeslot for the next two weeks. After that, the broadcaster will fill the slot with Major League Baseball on October 12th and the launch of reality series The Next Great American Band on October 19th. According to The Futon Critic , FOX did not confirm that the series bad been canceled and would instead "be rescheduled at a later date." Which, come on, has become shorthand for don't hold your breath. But given the low numbers for viewership which Nashville has engendered in its few outings, I don't think anyone will be missing this botched series.

This Bites: A Look at CBS' "Moonlight"

I haven't exactly been shy with my opinions about CBS' new fall drama, Moonlight (formerly known as Twilight ), which I unfavorably compared to Angel and Forever Knight when I first saw the pilot presentation the network had assembled back in May. Since then, there's been no shortage of changes to the project, from casting (goodbye Shannon Lucio, Amber Valetta, and, well, nearly everyone else; hello Sophia Myles , Jason Dohring , and Shannyn Sossamon) to the guys steering this series ( David Greenwalt joins , then leaves the project, and is replaced by Chip Johannsen ). Not exactly good signs but sometimes a network does have to make drastic changes in order to make a series work. After all, NBC wisely replaced Rachel Dratch with Jane Krakowski on 30 Rock last season. Sometimes, it's good to jettison what isn't working and focus on how to fix what you've got. In the case of Moonlight , that meant recasting everyone save series lead Alex O'Loughlin, who p

Talk Back: NBC's "Chuck" and "Journeyman"

NBC launched several of its new fall series last night, including dramas Chuck and Journeyman . Now that you've seen the pilot episodes of both series, what were your reactions to both series? And how did my original advance reviews of the pilots (found here for Chuck and here for Journeyman respectively) live up to the hype? Which series has joined your TiVo Season Pass list and which, well, has fallen right off of it? Discuss in brutal and/or glowing terms right here.

Anthologies All the Rage at NBC

I'm not quite sure what makes anthology series particularly zeitgeist-y right now. After all, TNT already aired their Stephen King anthology series Nightmares and Dreamscapes and ABC, well, dumped their sci fi series Masters of Science Fiction on Saturday nights during the summer, so why has NBC announced not one but two anthology series in the last 24 hours? Beats me. The Peacock has ordered 13 episodes of a horror anthology entitled Fear Itself , which is essentially a version of Showtime's Masters of Horror that has been reworked for network television. The series, from Masters of Horror producers Lionsgate and Industry Entertainment, will air next summer. As for NBC, it seems that they are looking to less expensive business models in order to justify ordering scripted programming for the warmer months: "It's less expensive than the traditional license fees we pay," said Ben Silverman. "That's allowing us to open up original programming to work ac

Casting Couch: "Sarah Connor Chronicles" To Get New Villain?

Hmmm, could heroine Sarah Connor be getting a new villain already? That's the way it appears, anyway, thanks to a new casting notice that's gone out today concerning the midseason drama The Sarah Connor Chronicles . The FOX actioner, a weekly TV spin-off of the Terminator franchise, has secured the talents of Garret Dillahunt ( Deadwood ) as a character named Cromartie, a substitute teacher at the high school where John Connor attends. And, oh yeah, SPOILER ALERT time: the "mysterious" Cromartie is a Terminator unit send back in time to kill Sarah (Lena Headey) and John Connor (Thomas Dekker). Dillahunt is no stranger to playing a time-displaced villain; after all, he played the Machiavellian Matthew Ross on The 4400 for 11 episodes. What's the problem? Well, in the pilot that had been shot for Sarah Connor Chronicles , Cromartie was played by The Nine 's Owain Yeoman and I actually thought he did an admirable job, considering the pilot itself was rather dic

Go Behind-the-Scenes on Showtime's "Californication"

Looking for more Californication ? (The Showtime series, I mean, not... You get the idea.) Two of the half-hour drama's hard-working assistants have launched a behind-the-scenes blog about their work on the series located here . While there's no horror stories of series star David Duchovny throwing scalding coffee in their faces (he does seem to be a genuinely nice guy), you will find a Q&A with series creator Tom Kapinos, notable quotes from the series, and an insightful look at what goes on behind closed doors on a weekly television series (i.e., rating the relative hotness of the guest cast). So take a look and let's hope that Mike Metz and Co. continue to share their experiences as Californication moves into its second season on Showtime. Scalding hot coffee not included.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: "Heroes: Origins" Secures Feature-Level Writers

Heroes: Origins just got some A-list writing talent for its six-episode run next year. Following the news earlier this year that Kevin Smith, late of CW's Reaper , would write and direct an installment of six-episode Heroes spin-off, Heroes: Origins , NBC has announced that they have secured two feature film writers for the series offshoot. Michael Dougherty, co-writer on X2 and Superman Returns , will write an episode of Heroes: Origins , as will Hostel writer/director Eli Roth. Additionally, Roth will direct his installment of the series spin-off, which introduces new characters as they discover their abilities. An interactive element will allow viewers to vote for their favorite new addition, who may join the cast of the original series in the third season. The second season of Heroes begins tonight at 9 pm on NBC. What's On Tonight 8 pm: How I Met Your Mother /The Big Bang Theory (CBS); Chuck (NBC); Everybody Hates Chris/Everybody Hates Chris (CW); Dancing with the

Checking Out "Beauty and the Geek"

I'm a sucker for the loopy charms of CW's Beauty and the Geek , so I was curious to see how this season's well-publicized "twist" would play out and how it would throw the social experiment into upheaval. For those of you not in the know, that "twist" is the inclusion for the first time ever (or as the host emphatically put it, "in the history of Beauty and the Geek ") that a female geek and a male beauty have been introduced into the game. Sure, it's not the biggest spanner in the works ever to hit a reality series, but it does cut through to the heart of the series' overaching premise: the tug of war between brains and beauties. I think it's about time that a female geek--in dire need of a makeover from the look of the socks n' shoes combo she was sporting in the season premiere--received the benefits of some social adjustments. As for the himbo they brought in as the first male beauty (who just screams stripper), it will be i

Looking for Jaw-Droppingly Bad TV? Try CBS' "Kid Nation"

Sometimes I do feel as though I am a glutton for punishment. Case in point: the fact that I actually sat down to watch CBS' horrific reality series/child labor law violation Kid Nation in an effort to bring you, my readers, a complete picture of just what's going on in television. (I will, however, admit that I didn't waste my time watching it at night but caught it the following day.) Say what you want about the egregious violations of child labor laws and about the fact that these children's parents willingly signed away their rights during this production, but the truth is that Kid Nation is just mind-bogglingly bad television. I do wish I could understand the mindset of both the producers who thought up this exercise in craptacularness as well as the CBS programming and development executives who believed that adults would tune in to see a bunch of kids trying to win $20,000 gold stars and cleaning out latrines in a desert town. (I also don't understand why th

Final Five Face Off at French Culinary Institute on "Top Chef"

Ah, the final five. The knives always do come out at this point, but I was happy to see on last night's episode of Top Chef ("Manhattan Project") that the cheftestants' knife skills were used in pursuit of the top prize rather than, you know, stabbing each other in the back. Quickfire Challenge: After tooling around Manhattan for a bit and sampling some street food, the chefs were invited to have lunch at Le Cirque with legendary owner Sirio Maccione, a dapper Italian gentleman whose restaurant has become synonymous with high-end New York cuisine for several decades. They were treated to taste an exquisite off-the-menu lunch: russet potato-wrapped sea bass with creamed leeks which has been a specialty at Le Cirque for twenty years. Which sort of made my culinary spider sense tingle. Sure enough, just as the chefs settled into their chairs, Padma dropped a bombshell: their challenge would be to recreate the dish they had just eaten, in terms of taste and presentation,

Casting Couch: FOX Snags Brits for "Oaks" Cast

In an interesting twist, FOX has decided to cast relatively unknowns in its new drama series, The Oaks , the first project from newly installed network president Kevin Reilly. (For my review of the pilot script, click here .) The Oaks , written by Tell Me You Love Me 's David Schulner and directed by Dexter 's Michael Cuesta, has secured the talents of two British actresses for its diverse cast of characters. The project revolves around three couples--in 1968, 1988, and 2008--who all live in the same house and are connected through the decades by a restless spirit and a mystery which haunts their home. Gina McKee, best known for her feature roles in MirrorMask, Notting Hill , and Croupier , will play Molly, a frazzled mother of two children in 1988 whose marriage to gruff Frank has fallen into a passionless state. She will next be seen in Atonement , opposite Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, Brenda Blethyn, and Vanessa Redgrave. Sienna Guillory ( Eragon ) will play Jessica, the

More with the Nerd Herd: Q&A with Josh Schwartz and Zachary Levi of NBC's "Chuck"

What, you might ask yourself, happened to the rest of the interview I did last week with Chuck 's star Zachary Levi and co-creator Josh Schwartz? I'm glad you asked. While I parcelled out some of the juiciest scoops for you in the Chuck interview roundup last week (including news of Rachel Bilson joining the cast), below is my Q&A with Levi and Schwartz, the perfect peanut butter-and-chocolate combo of geek (sorry, nerd ) power since J.J. met up with Damon Lindelof to talk about a little show called Lost . What TV series most influenced Levi and Schwartz? (Ahem, other than The OC , that is.) Their thoughts on self-contained episodes vs. serialized storylines? Will we see the return of Matthew Bomer's rogue spy Bryce? And will the stunts in subsequent episodes be as cool as they were in the pilot? Read and learn, grasshopper, and watch as Levi and Schwartz turn the tables on me to interview themselves for a bit. Q: I just want to say Chuck is already one of my favori

Laffy Taffy: Molly Shannon Heads to "Pushing Daisies"

Pushing Daisies has been on a roll these past few months. Besides for being the most eagerly anticipated new series this fall, the drama has had two of the highest-profile guest star casting announcements so far. In addition to the previously announced Paul Reubens (who'll play homeopathic anti-depressant salesman Alfredo Aldarisio), TV Guide 's Michael Ausiello has revealed that Pushing Daisies has secured former SNL cast member Molly Shannon for a multiple-episode arc this fall. Shannon, who guest starred on 30 Rock last season and starred in NBC's pilot for The Mastersons of Manhattan , will play Dilly Balsam, the proprietor of a saltwater taffy shop across the street from our hero Ned's Pie Hole. (The restaurant, I mean, not his, er, actual pie hole.) Shannon's first appearance is scheduled for November sweeps and she'll appear in an as-yet-undetermined amount of episodes of Pushing Daisies ' first season. Teehee. I'm laughing out loud already. P

Always Blame the Victim: Ellen Slips Over to the Dark Side on "Damages"

Desperation makes men do some dangerous things. Just take a look at Arthur Frobisher, desperate to prove his good name, who's willing to stoop to new lows of malfeasance in order to do so. Or poor, poor Larry, willing to do to the same in order to secure financial security for his family. Or even Ellen's father, so desperate to tell the truth in his deposition that he's put their entire future at risk. Of course, desperation isn't necessarily a bad thing, either, depending on your point of view. Just ask Patty Hewes that. So desperate is she to win this case at any cost, that she's chipping away pieces of her soul to do so. Is her pathological need to win this case altruistic or is it just that she needs to win every hand, every time? Last night's episode of Damages ("Blame the Victim") upped the ante on several levels as the bigger picture came into focus really for the first time. I've been pondering on Gregory Malina's word for the last few