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Showing posts from October, 2010

Death Goes Walking: An Advance Review of AMC's The Walking Dead

Zombies represent a real nexus of fear for me, something approaching an all-out phobia. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that zombies--unlike, say, other horror-based characters like vampires or werewolves--are brought about by something uncontrollable like a virus. They become a faceless mob, hell-bent on feasting on human flesh, transmitting the virus as it takes over the world. Unlike vampires (whose hunger is based upon something entirely different and inimical), zombies have no intellect. Rather they represent something alien, chaotic, and unstoppable, a walking virus in rags and bones that doesn't realize that it has shed its last vestiges of humanity. One of the most eagerly anticipated new series this fall is AMC's The Walking Dead , a horror drama based on the ongoing comic book series by Robert Kirkman that's executive produced by Frank Darabont and Gale Anne Hurd. The six-episode first season launches on Sunday, bringing a horror series to basic cable fittingly

The Daily Beast: "AMC: Television's Hottest Network"

Mad Men. Breaking Bad. Rubicon. Those titles are intimately familiar to any television devotee and cabler AMC, the home to those groundbreaking series, is about to launch their fourth original series this weekend with The Walking Dead . Over at The Daily Beast, I examine AMC's success, speaking to the channel's top executives--president/general manager Charlie Collier and SVP of original programming Joel Stillerman--as they dive headfirst into the horror genre with Sunday's The Walking Dead . The piece, entitled "AMC: Television's Hottest Network," contains a discussion with Collier and Stillerman covering AMC's brand, their programming decisions, and the future and challenges for the basic cable network as well as topics such as the fate of Rubicon , next year's crime drama The Killing , and much more.

Zombies (and Dancing Queen): Community's Awe-Inspiring Halloween Spectacular

As I said last night on Twitter, I didn't think I could love Community more than I already did and yet last night's episode ("Epidemiology"), written by Karey Dornetto (who previously scripted the "Contemporary American Poultry" episode) and directed by Anthony Hemingway ( True Blood ), proved me wrong entirely. In the hands of the immensely talented cast and crew of Community , this Halloween episode transcended all boundaries, injecting horror tropes into its comedic trappings without sacrificing the ephemeral spirit of what makes this show unique in the first place. Rather than offer up a dream or a similar faux reality, Dan Harmon and Co. found a way to have an actual zombies attack on Greendale Community College... and still keep the emotional integrity of the series. While people succumb to an illness related to a highly classified experimental military compound purchased as "taco meat" by a cheap Dean Pelton and the gang attempts to stay al

AOL Television's Skype Second Opinion: Community's "Epidemiology"

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 ("Epidemiology"), which included zombies, ABBA, Aliens, Halloween costumes, and experimental military compounds. You can watch the video in full over here at AOL Television or right below. Community airs Thursday evenings at 8 pm ET/PT on NBC.

HBO Sets Date for Fifth and Final Season of Big Love, New Project in the Works for Olsen/Scheffer

It's official: it's the end of the road for the Henrickson clan. HBO today announced that the fifth and final season of Big Love will kick off on January 16th. Yes, you read that correctly: the final season. “It has been an honor and pleasure to work with series creators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer on this unique and provocative series, and I’m happy that they will be able to bring the story to its close the way they always envisioned,” said HBO Programming president Michael Lombardo in a statement. “We look forward with great anticipation to collaborating with Mark and Will on their next venture.” However, don't get angry at HBO. At least according to comments made by Olsen and Scheffer in the official press release, it seems as though the series is reaching a natural ending, as it were... and the duo aren't going anywhere. It appears that a new HBO project for the writing team will be announced shortly. “When we created Big Love in 2002, we had a strong concept

Choosing Sides: An Advance Review of Chuck's "Chuck Versus the First Fight"

Sometimes the hardest advance reviews to write are the ones where the episode in question hinges ever so much on the plot. The innate twists and turns of next week's episode of Chuck ("Chuck Versus the First Fight") make the episode delicious fun, but also make it super-difficult to write about as I don't want to spoil any of the plot mechanics, as there are quite a few surprises and unexpected treats in this installment. It's no spoiler to say that the episode deals head-on with resolving some of the issues left dangling from the cliffhanger at the end of "Chuck Versus the Aisle of Terror." The title should be a good indication of just where Sarah and Casey's actions have left her relationship with Chuck and their romance has definitely hit a rough patch for all of the reasons that I outlined in my post-air review of "Aisle of Terror." Trust is a funny thing and once broken--regardless of the reasons behind it--it's often difficult to

ABC's Charlie's Angels Pilot Gets Greenlight; We've Got the Casting Breakdown

Looks like Charlie's Angels is heading back to the small screen, courtesy of Sony Pictures Television and Smallville creators Miles Millar and Al Gough, who will executive produce alongside Drew Barrymore, Nancy Juvonen, and Leonard Goldberg. Deadline's Nellie Andreeva is reporting that ABC has given the pilot the official greenlight , with production slated to begin roughly in mid-January. The project has been in development for a year, with Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles ' Josh Friedman originally set to oversee the project. Which brings us to the Angels themselves. Producers seem to be particularly keen to make this a multi-ethnic version of Charlie's Angels , with the casting breakdown indicating that the three leads will be African-American, Latina, and white. So just who are this latest batch of Angels? Let's find out, thanks to a look at the hot-off-the-press casting breakdown, courtesy of a tipster who wishes to remain anonymous, that I just got m

Of Lions and Lambs: Thoughts on the Season Premiere of Friday Night Lights

"I'm going to miss this." - Eric Taylor Those words, spoken by Kyle Chandler's Eric Taylor in the season premiere of Friday Night Lights ("Expectations"), written by David Hudgins and directed by Michael Waxman, are said as he looks over at the minor squabble developing between wife Tami (Connie Britton) and daughter Julie (Aimee Teegarden). But that simple sentence, offered in a sweet and rather sad tone, might as well encapsulate the overall feeling of the audience: we're going to miss this too. Even though the "this" in question might be yet flare-up of adolescence angst from Julie Taylor. But it's the fact that the Taylors are together, engaged in the regular rigors of daily life, that the entire declarative statement takes on bigger meaning. Change is coming for the Taylors, with Julie heading off the school. Their family is once again being split up and those breakfasts, those arguments, those stolen moments are soon to be a thing of

Syfy's Caprica is Toast; Better News for Bored to Death and Eastbound and Down

Bad news for Caprica fans. Syfy has axed the Battlestar Galactica prequel spinoff and will be pulling the remaining episodes from the schedule, effective immediately. Which doesn't mean that you won't get to see how the season ended. Syfy also announced that it would air the remaining five episodes sometime next year, according to the press release: "The remaining first run episodes of Caprica -- airing Tuesdays at 10/9c -- will be removed from the schedule as of next Tuesday, November 2. These final five episodes of the season will be re-scheduled to air at a to-be-announced time in the first quarter of 2011, and will conclude the run of the series." News comes on the heels that the cabler has ordered a pilot for another Battlestar Galactica prequel series, entitled Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome , which will return the series' setting to war-torn battles and Viper maneuvers. (I had wondered just what Syfy would do with Caprica last week when that

The Daily Beast: "NBC's Disastrous Season"

Poor Peacock. NBC continues to flail in last place, with new shows like Outlaw and Undercovers bombing and veterans like The Office eroding. Over at The Daily Beast, I take a look at the current state of NBC in my latest feature, "NBC's Disastrous Season," in which I offer six possible ways to save the Peacock. What do you think of NBC's current crop of programming, from highs like Chuck, Community , and Parks and Recreation to lows like Chase, Undercovers, and The Event? Do you agree with my assessment and my suggestions? Head to the comments section to discuss.

The Last Waltz: An Advance Review of Season Five of Friday Night Lights

Well, this is it: the beginning of the end. After four seasons of emotionally resonant drama, a nuanced exploration of life in small town Texas, and one of the most realistic portrayals of marriage ever, television masterpiece Friday Night Lights is heading towards the its final days, beginning with this week's thrilling and evocative season premiere ("Expectations"), written by David Hudgins and directed by Michael Waxman. It's not surprising that "Expectations" had me getting choked up no less than four times over the course of 40-odd minutes, as characters made their farewells and prepared to leave Dillon behind. While their goodbyes might be temporary, it was a canny way of signaling to the audience that the final parting is still to come, that with just a dozen or so episodes left, there would be no going back to Dillon. The first two episodes of the fifth and final season--"Expectations" and next week's installment ("On the Outside

Blind Spot: Mommy Issues and Protection Rackets on Chuck

Yes, Mama Bartowski is as slippery as an eel. Mary Elizabeth Bartowski has proven so adept at her spy training--possibly with some extra courses on emotional manipulation thrown in--that it's impossible to get a bead on just what her true allegiances are. Double-crosses, triple-crosses, and some quick excuses all add up to a vastly complicated picture of who Mary really is and this week's episode of Chuck ("Chuck Versus the Aisle of Terror") gave us some very different snapshots of Chuck's estranged mother. Is she a villain? A hero, as she maintains? Just how convenient is her cover story? And why would she go to such lengths to convince her son of her innocence... only to have everything blow up in her face? You read my advance review of this week's episode , but now that it's aired, here are my slightly more spoilery thoughts about "Chuck Versus the Aisle of Terror." As I mentioned in my initial review, his week's episode was all about tru

Talk Back: Sherlock's "A Study in Pink"

Now that Sherlock has premiered Stateside on Masterpiece Mystery , I'm curious to know what you thought of the modern-day version of Sherlock Holmes, from creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. I reviewed the first three episodes of Sherlock here , and spoke with Moffat, Gatiss, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Martin Freeman in a feature over here at The Daily Beast . But now that the series premiere--"A Study in Pink" (so clearly an allusion to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "A Study in Scarlet")--has aired last night, I want to hear what you thought of the mystery series. What did you think of the partnership of Cumberbatch's Holmes and Freeman's John Watson? Did you like the way that Mssrs Moffat and Gatiss updated elements of both characters and included such technological advances such as iPhones, text messaging, and blogging? Did you love the way that director Paul McGuigan visually translated these elements to the screen with thought bubbles and the li

The Daily Beast: "Sherlock Comes to the U.S."

Sherlock Holmes has an iPhone, Watson blogs: The 21st-century version of Sherlock , a BBC phenomenon, begins Sunday on Masterpiece Mystery . Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Sherlock Comes to the U.S.," in which I talk to Sherlock creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss and stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman about Sherlock and Watson, the similarities and differences between Holmes and Doctor Who 's The Doctor, The Hobbit , and more. Meanwhile, you can read my glowing advance review of the three Sherlock installments here . Sherlock begins tonight at 9 pm ET/PT on PBS' Masterpiece Mystery . Check your local listings for details.

Talk Back Redux: Which New Fall Series Are You Still Watching?

About two weeks ago, I asked readers to discuss which of the crop of new fall series they were still watching after sampling. I posted the question on the heels of the cancellation of FOX's Lone Star and ABC's My Generation , both of which were yanked from the airwaves after just two broadcasts. A few weeks later, CBS yesterday picked up all five (yes, five!) of its new fall offerings, giving $#*! My Dad Says, Hawaii Five-0, Mike & Molly, The Defenders , and Blue Bloods full seasons. It's rare for a network to go five-for-five when it comes to their freshman shows, but it also points to just what a middling season of television this has turned out to be thus far. A season where even NBC is giving a vote of confidence to mediocre series like The Event, Chase , and Outsourced ... and ordering more scripts for Undercovers . So now that the dust has settled a bit more, I'm wondering once again: what are you still watching a few weeks on from the initial question? Wha

Syfy Plots Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome Pilot: Where Does that Leave Caprica?

AOL's Maureen Ryan broke the news this morning that cabler Syfy will air its upcoming web series Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome as a two-hour backdoor pilot for a potential spin-off series that will focus on a young William Adama during the First Cylon War. The project, written by Michael Taylor, shouldn't be confused with Syfy's current BSG spinoff Caprica , which ALSO features a young William Adama, here a pre-teen whose character is vastly different from the Admiral Adama played by Edward James Olmos that we came to know on Battlestar Galactica . Production on the pilot is expected to begin in early 2011 in Vancouver, according to Ryan, though it won't make it on air until at least fourth quarter 2011, if not later. "When we read Michael's script, it was so clearly a full-blown pilot for a series," Syfy's executive vice president of original programming Mark Stern told Ryan. "The scope is fantastic and bigger, I think, than anticipa

You Humble Me: Christ Figures and Meta Films on Community

I've been upfront about my love for NBC's Community , one of the rare gems on the Peacock's lineup at the moment. In a season of such middling programming, it's rewarding to see such an experimental series such as this one continue to mine its format for such riches. This week's episode of Community ("Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples") dealt head-on with a hot-button issue: religion. Naturally, it was handled in true Greendale fashion, with the central issue emanating from an Anthropology lesson and some YouTube videos, including what appeared to be a send-up of "Bed Intruder" and a shout-out to creator Dan Harmon's Channel 101 web series Laser Fart about a superhero who could, well, you can figure out the rest. While the series hasn't shied away from shining a spotlight on some sensitive issues and with the characters' belief systems, this week's installment pitted the faith of single mom Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) agains

When You Have Eliminated the Impossible: An Advance Review of Sherlock on Masterpiece

Mention Sherlock Holmes and there are a great many things that immediately come to mind for most: that dearstalker hat (which the great detective never actually wore) and a magnifying glass, 221B Baker Street, "Elementary, my dear Watson" (a conflation of two separate quotes, actually), and that damned hound running around on the moors. Of the seemingly infinite literary characters ever created, the human imagination has latched onto Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in a way that very few other creations have. Scores of adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's consulting detective have been launched in the years since Holmes was first created. We've see young Sherlock, Nazi-fighting Sherlock, and bare-knuckle brawler Sherlock, courtesy of Guy Ritchie. We also now have a truly modern-day Sherlock Holmes (and I'm not counting House 's Gregory House here, though the comparison is apt and the homage intentional) in Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss' sophisticated an

The Mother of All Fears: An Advance Review of Next Week's Episode of Chuck

Halloween is nearly upon us and that means a slew of scary-themed programming heading to the airwaves over the next week and a half or so, along with several zombie-related storylines and series. There aren't any zombies turning up on next week's episode of Chuck ("Chuck Versus the Aisle of Terror"), but the Halloween-centric installment does play up a number of fears swirling around several of the characters and deals perhaps with the most frightening thing of all: family. The concept of family has been at the heart of the series since Chuck began, examining the way that groups bond together in the name of collective goals, whether that's a workplace environment or centered around hearth and home. Throughout the four seasons thus far, Chuck has explored the way that Team Bartowski has formed a makeshift family of its own, spilling out from siblings and lovers to include even curmudgeonly John Casey in the mix. Picking up where the previous episode left off, th

Shattered Glass: What is Going on with The Good Wife's Kalinda?

Just what is going on with Kalinda (Emmy Award winner Archie Panjabi) on The Good Wife ? The tensions between Kalinda and the firm's new investigator, Blake (Scott Porter), came to a head on last night's episode ("Cleaning House"), amid a storm of shattered glass, taut sexual tension, and lipstick marks on the rearview mirror as Blake threatened to reveal the truth about Kalinda's past. His inquiries have gotten a little too uncomfortably close for Kalinda's liking, so she took a bat to Blake's car and then waited around for him to show up so she could, uh, toy with him further. While Blake is playing his cards close to the vest when it comes to revealing all that he knows about Leela--I mean, Kalinda--I'm curious to know what you think Kalinda is covering up. Let the theorizing begin. (No spoilers please!) Head to the comments section to share your theories on what skeletons are in lurking in Kalinda's closet, beside her kick-ass wardrobe... Next

NBC Picks Up Chuck for 24-Episode Full Season (And, yes, Picks Up Chase Too)

No couch-lock here: NBC has picked up action-comedy Chuck for a full season. Yes, it's official: the Peacock has indicated that Chuck 's current fourth season will get its back nine episodes plus an additional two, bringing this season's total to 24 installments. The series had initially been renewed this season for just 13 episodes. The news comes significantly earlier than last season, when the show's writers had completed a 13-episode arc (it launched in January rather than September) before receiving word of a back-nine pickup, leading to a mini-season in which Chuck and Sarah became a full-blown couple. “ Chase has introduced an appealing new star to television audiences in Kelli Giddish and we think it has potential to grow,” said Angela Bromstad, President, Primetime Entertainment, NBC and Universal Media Studios, in a statement. “We also are glad that Chuck will be with us for a full season delivering its loyal, passionate audience.” [Editor: Bromstad seems t