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Channel Surfing: Critical Darling "Parks and Recreation," NBC to Give Away Restaurant Chain, Brooke Shields Heads to "The Middle," and More

Welcome to your Thursday morning television briefing. Los Angeles Times ' Denise Martin explores just how the executive producers of NBC's Parks and Recreation were able to turn their struggling comedy around in its second season to become a critical darling, as she speaks with creators Greg Daniels and Mike Schur and series lead Amy Poehler. "Her struggle throughout the series is trying not to become jaded," said Poehler of Leslie Knope. "Can she fight feeling like she'll never be able to change anything? Will she get caught up in political gain in a way that will make her lose track of why she started in the first place? Ultimately, we do want her to succeed -- and I love that! -- but in really small ways and with very little power. I love that too. I'm a sucker for pathos." ( Los Angeles Times ) NBC is giving away a restaurant chain. Yes, you read that correctly: the Peacock has ordered a reality competition series, with the tentative title of

Alpha and Omega: Writer Bill Gallagher Discusses the End of AMC's "The Prisoner"

Wondering just what screenwriter Bill Gallagher intended with the ending of AMC's six-hour miniseries The Prisoner , which wrapped its run last night? You've come to the right place. I caught up with Gallagher a few weeks back when I interviewed him for a piece about The Prisoner and asked him some particular questions about the ending to the series (which I won't reveal here lest you haven't watched it yet). What did Gallagher reveal about the ending of the reimagined Prisoner ? Just what was The Village? Read on... Televisionary: The episode titles seem to sharply recall some of the titles from the original series. What attracted you to the episodes you reference? (The western-themed "Living in Harmony" or the Doppelganger-oriented "The Schizoid Man" for instance?) Bill Gallagher: Well, to be honest about that, that wasn’t my idea and that came really late in the process. It came when we were cutting the episodes and someone said, wouldn’t it

Twitter Discussion: TV Teens

Over on Twitter this morning, one of the main topics of TV-focused conversation is the dearth of well-crafted and three-dimensional teenage characters on television. The Chicago Tribune 's Maureen Ryan raised an interesting question about why teen characters are often so unlikable, to which I replied that television writers are often too quick to paint them as brash and unpredictable rather than develop them as full-blown characters with strengths and weaknesses. The initial conversation stemmed from a dislike on the part of many of V 's Tyler Evans (Logan Huffman), who seems in the series purely to advance a subplot and not because his character's participation in the overall story (yet anyway) has made an indelible mark. It's especially noticeable given the strength of the series' female characters, particularly those played by Elizabeth Mitchell and Morena Baccarin. But the real question is: why are teens given short shrift when it comes to characterization?

Los Angeles Times: "V: Ignorance is bliss"

What did you think of last night's episode of ABC's V , the series' third? Head over to the Los Angeles Times /Show Tracker site to read my take on last night's episode ("A Bright New Day") , written by Diego Gutierrez and Christine Roum, and discuss just what you thought of this week's installment. Personally, I thought it was a huge step up in terms of quality over last week's slightly lackluster installment and ramped up the tension and drama while also giving us some very intriguing plot twists... which I won't reveal here. Would be curious to know what people thought, especially if you were at all on the fence about V after last week. So talk back either here or at the LA Times ! Next week on the fall finale of V ("It's Only the Beginning"), Erica works with the Fifth Column to uncover a biological threat they suspect the Visitors have been plotting; Anna meets with a special guest while overseeing the investigation into t

Channel Surfing: Jason Lee Mired in "Delta Blues," Fred Willard Drops By "Modern Family," Gretchen Mol Strolls on HBO's "Boardwalk," and More

Welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing. Jason Lee ( My Name is Earl ) has been cast as the lead in TNT drama pilot Delta Blues , where he will play Dwight Hendricks, a Memphis cop who moonlights as an Elvis impersonator and lives with his mother. Pilot, from Warner Horizon and Smokehouse Pictures, is written by Liz M. Garcia and Joshua Harto and will be directed by Clark Johnson, who will executive produce with George Clooney and Grant Heslov. ( Hollywood Reporter ) Proving that the series' casting directors have inherited the comedy casting mantle from Arrested Development and 30 Rock , Fred Willard ( Back to You ) has signed on to guest star on an upcoming episode of ABC's Modern Family , where he will play the father to Ty Burrell's Phil. [Editor: look for Willard to turn up, oh, before the end of the calendar year.] ( Fancast ) Gretchen Mol ( Life on Mars ) has joined the cast of HBO's upcoming period drama Boardwalk Empire in the recurring role

Not an Illusion: Will Arnett Heads to "Parks and Recreation"

Good news: Will Arnett is coming to Pawnee. E! Online's Kristin Dos Santos has confirmed with NBC that Amy Poehler's real-life husband Will Arnett will guest star on an upcoming episode of Parks and Recreation , where he will play an MRI technician at the local hospital. Dos Santos asks which character ends up in the hospital but my answer is that it needn't be that any of the characters is in need of an MRI in the first place. After all, Rashida Jones' Ann works in said hospital and would therefore be a colleague of Arnett's character. What do you think? Will, er, Will Arnett find himself right at home in Pawnee? Wish he'd bring a cassette of the "Final Countdown" along? UPDATE: Looks like Arnett's Parks and Recreation episode will air in January, most likely on January 14th.

ABC's "V": What Do You Predict Will Happen Before the Hiatus?

We're halfway through V 's current run on ABC (the back nine episodes are slated to air after the Olympics), so with two episodes remaining--including tonight's at 8 pm ET/PT, I am wondering just what you think will go down over the next two weeks. Unlike the first two episodes, I haven't yet seen tonight's installment of V , so I am as much in the dark about what will happen just as much as you are. But I am curious to know just what viewers of the alien invasion drama WANT to see happen tonight and next week and what you think WILL actually happen. Among the questions up for debate: Just what is Anna's plan and will we find out what the Vs want from Earth's inhabitants? Will Chad fall under her spell? Will Ryan be able to keep Valerie safe? Will Dale come gunning for Erica? Is the old priest a Visitor in disguise? Will Tyler brush his hair? Discuss... and, as always, no spoilers, just pure conjecture. On tonight's episode of V ("A Bright New