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Channel Surfing: "True Blood" Lacks Bite in Ratings, "Fringe," "Sarah Jane Adventures," and More

Good morning and welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing. I hope that most of you decided to stay in last night and watch the premiere of FOX's new J.J. Abrams project Fringe; I watched the second episode of 90210 and was decidedly less-than-impressed again. Sigh.

If you did miss Fringe, fret not: FOX will be reairing last night's series premiere on Sunday evening at 8 pm... along with a sneak peek at the first four minutes of Episode Two, as well as an extended scene from feature The Day the Earth Stood Still (the Keanu Reeves version, natch) and a preview of the two-hour 24 movie 24: Redemption. (Variety)

Regardless of how Fringe did in the ratings last night, it will have done significantly better than the launch for HBO's vampire drama True Blood from Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball. The pay cabler only drew 1.44 million viewers to the series premiere of True Blood, significantly less than the axed John from Cincinnati did in its initial outing (3.4 million) in June 2007, following the series finale of The Sopranos, and without the marketing and publicity support that HBO has given True Blood, which scored numbers lower than the last new installment of Big Love, which brought 2.88 million viewers to the pay cabler. (It originally launched with 4.56 million viewers; Deadwood attracted 5.79 million.) Ouch. HBO will be watching the cumulative numbers from the rest of the week very carefully. (The Los Angeles Times)

Attention Lost fans: ABC has cast the other half of its upcoming deadly duo of new characters for Season Five of the drama. Saïd Taghmaoui (Traitor) will play Caesar, a mystery man with "an innate intelligence, intensity, and danger we really responded to,” according to Damon Lindelof. Look for the character to play “an important part of the setup for the final act of the show in season 6," according to Carlton Cuse. Hmmm. (Entertainment Weekly's Hollywood Insider)

NBC Universal has returned to iTunes after a year-long war with Apple over pricing. The resolution to their feud was announced yesterday by Steve Jobs; iTunes will begin selling standard-definition episodes of NBC Universal's series for $1.99 but will also offer HD versions of The Office, 30 Rock, and Heroes for $2.99 a pop. (Variety)

BBC One is kicking off Season Two of Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures on September 29th. The Beeb has commissioned twelve half-hour episodes of the series, which will feature the return of Elisabeth Sladen as former Doctor's companion Sarah Jane Smith after her recent adventure with the Children of Time over in Doctor Who. Also on board for Season Two: Thomas Knight as Sarah Jane's adopted son Luke and Daniel Anthony as Clyde. Sorry, Maria fans: Yasmin Paige won't be back. (BBC)

In other Doctor Who news, David Tennant is reportedly very keen to play the Doctor in a big-screen version of the cult British series, according to The Sun, who claims that Tennant wants to sign a new deal that would cover a fifth season of the drama and a spin-off feature film. Tennant has yet to commit to the role beyond the four "specials" that are slated to air in 2009. (Digital Spy)

Cabler Style Network has signed a partnership with Marie Claire magazine; they'll launch the unscripted series Running in Heels, following the lives of the editors, writers, and interns of Marie Claire, in March 2009. (Variety)

MTV is doing a series based on Rock Star 2 with Mark Burnett. (Craigslist)

Rod Lurie has sued Touchstone Television, claiming that the studio owes him at least $1 million for his ABC series Commander in Chief and that it stopped paying him under his conctract for the series by using the WGA strike as an excuse. (Hollywood Reporter)

FX has announced that Nick Grad will remain as EVP of original programming at the cabler--he developed Damages, Sons of Anarchy, and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia--and has promoted Eric Schrier to EVP of FX Productions/SVP of series development, replacing Matt Cherniss who left FX for FOX, and Danielle Woodrow to SVP of original programming; she has overseen Damages, Dirt, and The Riches in the past. (Variety)

Stay tuned.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Greatest American Dog (CBS); America's Got Talent (NBC; 8-10 pm); America's Next Top Model (CW); Wife Swap (ABC); Bones (FOX)

9 pm:
Criminal Minds (CBS); 90210 (CW); Supernanny (ABC); 'Til Death/Do Not Disturb (FOX)

10 pm: CSI: New York (CBS); Law & Order: Criminal Intent (NBC); 20/20 (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: America's Next Top Model.

On tonight's episode ("The Ladder of Model Success"), Benny Ninja drops in to give the models some tips on posing and the girls are tasked with swinging on a rope ladder during a photo shoot.

9 pm: Project Runway on Bravo.

Season Five (the final season on Bravo) of Project Runway continues tonight. On tonight's episode ("What's Your Sign?"), the designers are put into pairs and tasked with creating a garment inspired by their partner's astrological sign and some stargazing.


karigee said…
So glad NBC finally wised up re: iTunes. Hulu has some great features, but the availability of episodes wasn't one of them, and not being able to download & go was a killer. I don't mind watching ads, nor do I mind paying for the content, but they have to make it possible for me to do so.
Anonymous said…
Very happy to hear that the NBC/Apple feud is over. NBC was greedy and thought they could have it all with Hulu. Not quite.
Anonymous said…
I would love to see a Doctor Who movie with Tennant!
Harleypeyton said…
The True Blood numbers aren't really a surprise. Ball had to choose between Vamp Verses -- the played-out Rice Goth approach, or the moderately less overused Buffy method.

He made the wrong choice.
Samantha Hunter said…
It wouldn't surprise me if the TB numbers go down. A lot of folks were pretty put off by the graphic nature of the show (although maybe that will attract other people who are curious now, who knows?).

I don't know what I expected. . .something more in line with the tone of the books, I guess. I was momentarily confused while watching if I was at the Ba-Da-Bing or Merlottes. I'll watch to see if it gets better, but this week's epi did not impress.

I think it was just too graphic for the average Charlaine Harris reader, who, let's face it, probably makes up the larger part of the show's audience.

I'll stick it out for a few more epis, but I also think AB came at this from the wrong direction.


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