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Moscow Mules and Mama Bears: Killer Frost on the Season Premiere of Chuck

And that's how you kick off a brand new season. Last night brought the fourth season premiere of NBC's action-comedy Chuck ("Chuck Versus the Anniversary") and I hope that the episode delivered all of the espionage-tinged goodness that I promised in my advance review of the season opener last week. I had also teased readers via Twitter about the premiere (" Chuck premiere: sexting, skydiving, Seinfeld references, (Harry Dean) Stanton? Sensational. Very fun opener.") and the episode held up extremely well under a second viewing in the time between now and then. For me, anyway, "Chuck Versus the Anniversary" was perhaps the perfect way to begin a new chapter in the life of Chuck Bartowski, a character who has slowly evolved over the course of three seasons from reluctant hero to tragic hero to, well, just plain hero. His decision to take hold of his own destiny, to set out with Morgan on a personal quest to track down his mother may have not

The Daily Beast: "Fall TV Preview: Grey's Anatomy, Dexter, 30 Rock and More"

With so many new fall series premiering over the next two weeks, it's possible to forget that some of our favorites are heading back to the airwaves as well. Can’t remember how Grey’s Anatomy or 30 Rock ended? Head over to the Daily Beast to read my latest feature, "Here Comes the TV Season!" , in which I round-up 13 cliffhangers for returning shows—and offer previews of what’s to come. (It goes without saying: minor SPOILERS aheads.) The series in question? Oh, the usual suspects, including Dexter, The Good Wife, Fringe, Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Chuck, Private Practice, Brothers and Sisters, Friday Night Lights, Bones, Community, Castle , and 30 Rock , presented in order of premiere dates. (Which means Chuck is up first.) Plus, you can watch video previews for all 22 new network series , to boot. Which returning series are you most excited about watching this fall? Head to the comments section to discuss.

Channel Surfing: J.J. Abrams Shops Emerson/O'Quinn Show, Linda Hamilton Talks Chuck, Spartacus, Community, True Lies, and More

Welcome to your Monday morning television briefing. Could Lost 's Terry O'Quinn and Michael Emerson be headed back your televisions? If J.J. Abrams gets his way, they'll be reuniting for a drama project--tentatively entitled Odd Jobs --that Abrams, along with Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec, are pitching to the networks. Vulture's Josef Adalain is reporting that the drama, which will also contain a large amount of humor, revolves around "former black-ops agents." It's unknown whether the project is based on any part on the idea that Emerson and O'Quinn had floated a while back in which they'd play suburban hit men. But the fact that Abrams' Bad Robot--and possibly by association Warner Bros. Television--is behind Odd Jobs (or whatever it might eventually be called), is a good sign that the project will at least be picked up to pilot. ( Vulture ) AOL Television's Maureen Ryan talks to Linda Hamilton about her role as Mary Elizabeth Bartows

First Frost: An Advance Review of the Chuck Season Four Premiere

When we last left Zachary Levi's Chuck Bartowski, he had received a revelation--or two--that shocked his world to its core. Having buried his father, slain in the line of duty, Chuck learned that his father had maintained a secret underground headquarters beneath the family's Encino home and that his mother, Mary Elizabeth Bartowski, had her own secrets as well... and that his father had devoted his life to finding Chuck and Ellie's errant mother. I can tell you that we see the elusive Mary (played by Terminator 's Linda Hamilton) within the very first seconds of Season Four of NBC's Chuck , which begins on Monday with a fantastic and funny installment ("Chuck Versus the Anniversary") that sets up the overarching plotline for the fourth season while creating a new status quo for our favorite spy. I had the chance last night to watch "Chuck Versus the Anniversary," written by Chris Fedak and directed by Robert Duncan McNeill, and was struck by h

Channel Surfing: Dark Tower Comes to TV (And Cinemas), Chuck Lands Freddie Krueger, TNT Mines Dallas, The Event, and More

Welcome to your Thursday morning television briefing. Deadline's Mike Fleming broke the news yesterday that Universal has landed the rights to Stephen King's massive multiple-novel series "The Dark Tower," and is developing an adaptation that will comprise both a feature film franchise as well as a television series element, an unprecedented use of the two platforms. Ron Howard will direct the first film as well as the first season of the television series that would follow on its heels; likewise both elements will be written by Akiva Goldsman, with Universal Media Studios attached as the studio. The first season of the series would use the same actors and focus on gunslinger Deschain after the events of the film, while the second season would revolve around Deschain's past. “What Peter [Jackson] did [with Lord of the Rings ] was a feat, cinematic history,” Howard told Fleming. “The approach we’re taking also stands on its own, but it’s driven by the material. I

Channel Surfing: NBC Dumps Parks and Rec Repeats, Smallville Return, Creative Arts Emmy Winners, Grey's Closure and More

Welcome to your Monday morning television briefing. Good news for Community ; bad news for Parks and Recreation . The Futon Critic is reporting that NBC has opted to forgo repeats of Season Two of Parks and Recreation for the remainder of the summer, instead using the Thursday 9:30 pm timeslot for a second round of Community repeats. [Editor: While I applaud NBC for recognizing the potential of Dan Harmon's Community , I wish it weren't at the expense of Parks and Rec , which won't even return for its third season until "midseason."] Planned repeats for August 26th and September 2nd will instead be filled by Community episodes... which means that the airwaves will be Pawnee-free until the series returns at a to-be-determined point later in the season. ( Futon Critic ) SPOILER! Entertainment Weekly 's Michael Ausiello is reporting that John Glover will return to the CW's Smallville to reprise his role as Lionel Luthor in a multiple-episode story arc

Channel Surfing: Zach Gilford Goes Off the Map, Entourage to End Next Year, Fringe's Sebastian Roche to Supernatural, and More

Welcome to your Monday morning television briefing. Former Friday Night Lights star Zach Gilford has joined the cast of ABC's midseason medical drama Off the Map , from executive producers Shonda Rhimes and Jenna Bans. TVGuide.com's Natalie Abrams reports that Gilford will play Tommy, a physician who travels to a remote medical clinic in South America along with fellow doctors Lily (Caroline Dhavernas) and Mina (Mamie Gummer). (The series' other stars include Martin Henderson, Jason George, and Valerie Cruz.) Gilford's casting comes on the heels of the hiring of Rachelle Lefevre as a regular and the departure of Enrique Murciano, though ABC was quick to point out that Gilford won't be playing the same role that Murciano did, a spoiled and uptight plastic surgeon. [Editor: I'm chuffed to see Gilford--who we all know best as Saracen--head back to primetime.] ( TVGuide.com ) Not a moment too soon: HBO's long-running comedy Entourage will end next year, acco

Channel Surfing: Breaking Bad Won't Return Until July 2011, Nigel Lythgoe Closes Idol Deal, Zombies Vs. Vampires at NBC, and More

Welcome to your Thursday morning television briefing. Could it be almost a year before Breaking Bad heads back to AMC? According to a Deadline interview with series lead Bryan Cranston, Season Four of Breaking Bad may not launch until July 2011, over a year after the end of last season. "I think what AMC is thinking here is there will be less competition for us -- particularly from the broadcast networks -- if we launch our season during the summer than if we come back again like we did this time in March," said Cranston. However, AMC and Sony Pictures Television will produce 3-4 minute mini-episodes of Breaking Bad that will run on AMC's website during the break. "The idea is to keep people aware and interested in the show during the long time away,” Cranston told Deadline. “But I, for one, am eager to make these little interstitials important. I don’t want them to be simply filler or recap, but something that actually moves the storyline forward. If we’re going

Channel Surfing: Fringe Fest, Diablo Cody Targets FOX, Carol Burnett to Be Sue's Mom on Glee, Ferrigno to Torment Chuck, and More

Welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing. Entertainment Weekly 's Michael Ausiello caught up with Fringe star Jasika Nicole to get some information about Season Three of Fringe , kicking off this fall, and a "groundbreaking and mind-blowing" twist. "She is indeed," said Nicole when asked if Astrid would get more to do in Season Three. "And that's due to the fact that there are now two of her that I get to play, which is awesome. [For the first half] of the season, we're alternating episodes, so we've got one in the alternate universe and one in the present universe, so if you were to only [watch] every other episode, you would only see the story happening in one universe." Nicole told Ausiello that the two storylines will converge into a single stream where "everyone's world will be turned upside down." Wowsers. ( Entertainment Weekly 's Ausiello Files ) Diablo Cody is heading to FOX. The network signed a p

Bad Romance: Chuck Takes Comic-Con By Storm

One of the most indelible--and therefore indescribable--moments of this weekend's San Diego Comic-Con was the Chuck panel, which debuted a brand-new music video from the international smash hit Jeffster! Performing a hysterical rendition of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance," the music video (entitled "Jeffster Dance Video Take 73") served not only as a truly memorable introduction to the panel itself but also segued into the appearance of the cast en masse to the tune as Vik Sahay and Scott Krinsky led the cast in a bit of impromptu dancing as they made their way onto the massive stage of Ballroom 20 on Saturday. (A clip of the Chuck crew dancing their way to massive cheers--seriously, turn down your volume if you watch--can be found below.) The big news of course coming out of the Chuck panel was that Linda Hamilton--yes, she of the rippling physique from T2: Judgment Day has been cast as the mysterious and missing Mary Bartowski, mother to Chuck and Elli

Channel Surfing: Linda Hamilton Ups Chuck, Alfred Molina to Law & Order: LA, Felicia Day Gets Eureka, Burn Notice, and More

Welcome to your Monday morning television briefing. It's the brief calm between the dual storms of Comic-Con and the TCA Summer Press Tour and there oh so much to do. Let's hit the headlines. Chuck 's executive producers Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak stunned audiences at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend by announcing that Linda Hamilton ( Terminator 2: Judgment Day ) would be playing Chuck's mama Mary Bartowski, the oft-mentioned missing mother of the Bartowski siblings who was briefly glimpsed in the season finale. Hamilton will recur throughout Season Four of Chuck , though producers are being cagey about saying just what Mary has been up to since she walked out on her family, though they do admit that espionage runs in the family. "Hamilton will appear throughout the season, leading Chuck to discover that her life was shrouded in secrets," said Warner Bros. Television in an official press release about the casting. "She was a spy, a CIA agent ... and

The Daily Beast: "Angelina Jolie & Other Nerd Bait at Comic-Con"

San Diego Comic-Con is upon us. Over at The Daily Beast, you can check out my latest feature, entitled "Angelina Jolie & Other Nerd Bait at Comic-Con," which rounds-up the 14 most anticipated--and thus buzzy--panels from both film and television. Among the standouts that are sure to be action-packed this year: Salt, True Blood, Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, Green Lantern, The Expendables, Being Human, Red, The Walking Dead, Tron: Legacy, Thor, Let Me In, Paul , all of WBTV's many shows, and the J.J. Abrams/Joss Whedon Visionaries panel, presented by Entertainment Weekly , among others. What are you most looking forward to and what panels do you think will live up to the hype? Head to the comments section to discuss.

Channel Surfing: Olivia Munn Tackles Chuck, Scott Porter Investigates The Good Wife, Chris Isaak Could Replace Simon, and More

Welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing. A few things to get through before I hit the road for San Diego and Comic-Con. Entertainment Weekly 's Michael Ausiello is reporting that Olivia Munn (the newly minted Daily Show correspondent) will guest star on NBC's Chuck this fall when the series returns for its fourth season on September 20th. Munn, who is a series regular on NBC's midseason comedy Perfect Couples , will play "an impossibly cool, smart, and pretty CIA agent who intimidates and schools Chuck and Morgan" in the same installment that features Dolph Lundgren. ( Entertainment Weekly 's Ausiello Files ) In other scoop, Ausiello writes that former Friday Night Lights star Scott Porter will be joining the cast of CBS' The Good Wife this fall. Porter, whose CW pilot Nomads was not ordered to series, will play Blake, described as "Kalinda’s private-eye counterpart at the D.C. firm that’s merging with Lockhart & Gardner"

Channel Surfing: James Tupper Heads to Grey's Anatomy, Game of Thrones, Tammy Blanchard Gets The Good Wife, Michael Emerson, and More

Welcome to your Friday morning television briefing. Entertainment Weekly 's Michael Ausiello is reporting that James Tupper ( Mercy ) has joined the cast of ABC's Grey's Anatomy , where he is set to recur as trauma counselor Andrew Perkins, who is "brought in to help Seattle Grace recover from that nightmarish season-ending bloodbath" and who will appear in at least two episodes next season. ( Entertainment Weekly 's Ausiello Files ) The Chicago Tribune 's Maureen Ryan has some dish on the casting--and recasting--going on at HBO's upcoming fantasy drama Game of Thrones . "Varys, the calculating spymaster for the king of Westeros, will be played by UK actor Conleth Hill," writes Ryan. "The role of Waymar Royce has been recast due to a scheduling issue. Jamie Campbell-Bower had played the role in the pilot but when the producers decided to do reshoots of his scenes, Campbell-Bower was unavailable. The role of Royce will now be played by