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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

'Reno 911' star Niecy Nash Gets 'Arrested'

Arrested Development writer Abraham Higginbotham will be teaming up with Niecy Nash of Reno 911! to develop a multi-camera comedy pilot focusing on "the less-than-glamorous staffers at a glamorous New York hotel."

Although it'll be a shame to see Higginbotham go from such a brilliant single-camera like Arrested to a multi-camera that'll likely be limited by Fox's new mandate for formulaic sitcoms, given the comedic charm of Niecy Nash and Higginbotham's talent with a pen, the project shouldn't be written off just yet.

Keywords: Reno 911!, Arrested Development, Niecy Nash, Abraham Higginbotham, Comedy, Fox, Project

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Amp Up Your 'Enthusiasm'

Larry David has risen. After an uneven season five that saw the show stray from its roots, season six has provided the very best Curb Your Enthusiasm has to offer. Those rumblings? That Curb had lost its ability to maintain the delicate balance required of a comedy that relies on such awkward brand of humor? They've been put to rest. The HBO classic is back to form.

Interestingly enough, the season's gimmick, Larry and Cheryl 'adopting' a black family displaced by a hurricane, has had little to do with the resurgence. Vivica A. Fox and Nick Nervies (the elder Blacks) are both wonderful additions, with Nervais proving himself to be a scene stealer, but the show's redemption comes in all the same places that endeared audiences to Curb in the first place.

'The Rat Dog', an episode that sees Larry callously point out the resemblance between a deaf friend's dog and a rat, only to have an exterminator he's befriended inadvertently kill the dog at a school play (he thought it was a rat), ranks up there as one of the best episodes of the series (Although no episode will ever match up to 'Krazee-Eyez-Killa').

Throw in 'The Freak Book', in which Larry and Cheryl's driver turns out to be an alcoholic, resulting in a series of events that ends with Larry and John McEnroe thrown out of the Staples Center, in a screaming match reminiscent of McEnroe's playing days and 'The Ida Funkhouser Roadside Memorial' where, pressed for time and hankering for sex, Larry steals flowers from a road side memorial and there are already more laughs than all of last season.

Keywords: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Season 6, Season Six, Review

Monday, October 15, 2007

The 'On Demand' Effect

Nielsen Ratings are generally useless in determining the viewing habits of television viewers, nevermore so when dealing with premium cable nets like HBO and Showtime. With every borderline cancellation, fans debate the rationale ad nauseum, but have difficulty pinpointing the criteria that determines a series fate.

For example, based on the numbers made available by Nielsen, HBO's recently renewed series Tell Me You Love Me was surprising pickup given its weekly ratings were reported at a meager 900,000.

But to take the number at face value is to not only discount the way in which HBO/Showtime do business, but the way that viewers watch television. While DVR's are now in approximately 20% of households and starting to be taken into account when gaging a show's viewership, On Demand, a feature available for Digital Cable Subscribers without any additional fee or equipment has been slow to catch on with media analysis.

While the library of On Demand content is bountiful, HBO and Showtime are substantially ahead of the pack. Whether it's the serialized nature of shows like The Wire, Weeds or Dexter, shows that inspire marathon-viewing or the simple desire for flexibility, in no other facet of television is the ratio of first-run to overall viewers so askew.

James Poniewozik of Time got a hold of the numbers for HBO and they tell a very interesting tale. While the first-run ratings for Love Me is dismal, the fact that they only account for 30% of the total viewership sheds light on HBO's decision to pick it up.

  • Big Love: 5.8 million (40% First Run / 60% Repeat Viewings)
  • Entourage: 5.6 million (55/45)
  • The Wire: 4.4 million (40/60)
  • John from Cincinnati: 3.8 million (40/60)
  • TMYLM: 3.2 million (30/70)
  • Curb Your Enthusiam: 3.0 million (35/65)
  • Flight of the Conchords: 2.7 million (40/60)
Even still, those numbers don't tell the entire story. Per the pay-cable model, a subscriber pays the same fee regardless of how many series they watch. During the HBO golden era, it was not only that Sex and the City, The Sopranos and Six Feet Under were all so popular, but that they all drew different audiences. SATC was a big hit with women, The Sopranos with men/younger audience and Six Feet Under appealing to a more affluent/intellectual crowd.

Because all three were such great shows, it's likely that most subscribers watched all three. But just in case, HBO had all their bases covered. But with those shows gone, HBO's decision making in relation to demographics had to be far more calculated.

Using Carnivale as an example, when HBO made the decision not to renew it after its second season, they knew that almost 75% of Carnivale's viewers had allegiance to another HBO original series. While its cancellation was met by a very vocal internet backlash, the threat of any major wave of cancellations was limited.

In contrast, The Wire, a show that struggled in the ratings and was facing cancellation after season three, survived despite numbers no more impressive than Carnivale (although it had a much lower budget). Because while most fans of The Wire do watch other programming on HBO, their devotion to the show is such that had it been canceled, HBO's ability to retain its fanbase would have been much tougher.

Thus, given the popularity of Love Me among women, the news of its pickup becomes much less surprising, the reasoning far less mysterious.

Keywords: Tell Me You Love, The Wire, Carnivale, Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, Sex and the City, On Demand, Nielsen Ratings, DVR, HBO, Showtime, Premium Cable

A 'Bionic' Blunder

Coming into the season, I was head over heels for the pilot of Bionic Woman. Two episodes later, I can't see through all the yolk splattered on my face. The show's gone from a promising thriller to a painful experience that resembles a bad soap opera.

With the wild incompetence of all the major players, any semblance of an epic battle has been thrown out the window. The secret agency that figured out how to create bionic beings is one of the most woefully inept organizations in television history. Meanwhile, Jaime Summers is such a lousy Bionic Woman that she can't even dispense of four Serbian Gangsters on her own.

And other than stopping evil one step at a time, there isn't any master plan. For a devious scheme developed over a number of years, no one seems to have thought out the next step. The result is writing so undisciplined that the overall plot is almost impossible to discern.

The problems don't end there. Michelle Ryan may be the worst suited actress in America to play a superhero. Katee Sackhoff, the only redeemable cast member is being wasted by the lousy dialogue and melodramatic vulnerability of her character.

As if that wasn't enough, rather than a subtle allegory for free will and genetic modification, the story treats the viewer as though they have the mental capacity of a slow learning two-year old.

For those of you that stuck around through week three, please accept my apologies, delete this monstrosity from your DVR and hope that The Sarah Connor Chronicles can do better.

Keywords: Bionic Woman, Review, Battlestar Galactica, NBC

Friday, October 12, 2007

Daily Bullets

Keywords: Daily Bullets, Friday

'Church of Reggie' in 'Development'

Arrested Development fans haven't had a lot to celebrate since the best comedy in television history was prematurely canceled. There may be reason to smile as Emmy nominated Chuck Tatham, who worked as an executive producer on Arrested Development, has a new project in the works.

The Fox pilot, Church of Reggie, will also see Arrested alums in the form Ron Howard and Brian Grazer of Imagine Entertainment. The series revolves around Reggie, a man who essentially invents his own religion and watches it develop support among the masses.

While the show is still far from a certainty and a long ways away, given the people involved and the appealing premise it's certainly one of the most promising pilot orders of the season. Here's hoping.

Keywords: Arrested Development, Church of Reggie, Chuck Tatham, Pilot, Project, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Daily Bullets

  • The Heroes can thwart most forces of evil but that dastardly Nielsen got away.
  • Cane and Ugly Betty aren't the most popular shows among Hispanics. But Grey's Anatomy? That's just strange.
Keywords: Daily Bullets, Thursday

'Deadwood' Not Dead, Says HBO

"There are no plans to make the the movies," but they're not dead, according to HBO.

Some time back, Ian McShane said in an interview that the sets were being torn down, finalizing what was already known. The Deadwood movies are never going to happen.

For reasons beyond comprehension, HBO just confirmed McShane's assertion, but said this didn't eliminate the possibility of the movies. They claim the movies were planned to take place after fires and floods destroyed the town of Deadwood (which is historically accurate), therefore rendering the sets useless.

The problem with their explanation is that David Milch has often spoke of his plans for a post-Hearst Deadwood, describing a scene in vivid detail where, after losing the election for Sheriff (because Hearst bought the votes) Bullock refuses to give up his badge and Swearengen has to persuade him to do so.

While blame for the cancellation itself lies with David Milch, almost every decision HBO's made after the fact has been an affront to the fans. The abrupt cancellation was bad, but these things happen. It's the mixed messages and outright lying that slay me.

If it was too expensive, fine. If David Milch wanted to move on, fine. Given the loyalty and devotion of the fanbase, we deserved the truth.

What we didn't deserve was being told that we'd get two two-hour films only to learn that was nothing more than lip service. And what we certainly don't deserve for HBO to continue to play politician with us, treating us like some hoopleheads in the muck of the thoroughfare.

Keywords: Deadwood, Ian McShane, Al Swearengen, Cancel, Canceled, Cancellation, Movie, Film, Movies, HBO, Return, David Milch

Survival of the Fittest? Maybe Not

Despite a disappointing performance for the fall's freshman series, NBC has ordered additional scripts for its entire stable of newcomers. Meanwhile CBS has asked for more of the new Jimmy Smits drama Cane and The CW (owned by CBS) wants more Aliens in America.

Networks putting in script orders before deciding a show's fate is nothing new. Unless a series is performing so dismally that it has no chance of making it through the season, additional scripts are just the networks hedging their bets against the possibility of a full 22-episode pickup.

In the face of a looming writers' strike, however, the script orders carry more weight than usual. If networks can get the additional scripts in before the strike, they could try to circumvent the writers for a time and continue shooting with the scripts they have on the burner.

The results of the stockpiling strategy should heavily increase the chances of back-nine pickups for this year's new shows. If the writers do go on strike, the networks' ability to produce mid-season replacements is all but crippled. Absent any potential replacements, the pressure on a series to perform in the ratings is significantly lightened.

So even while the season's new offerings have been a bit rotten, both in quality and performance, with no relief in site, viewers should nestle in and find a favorite. We could be stuck with them for a while.

Keywords: The Strike, WGA, Cane, Aliens in America, NBC, CBS, Pick Up, Back Nine, Back-Nine

Prosecutors Love '24'

Seems as though The Los Angeles City Attorney's Office are fans of Jack Bauer's heroic efforts on 24. As was reported yesterday, Kiefer Sutherland will serve 48 days in jail per the proposed plea agreement stemming from his September 25th arrest for driving under the influence.

Thanks to television taking precedent over law and order, fans of 24 need not worry that the sentence will interfere with the production of season seven. Rather than a serve his 48 days consecutively, the agreement calls for Sutherland to serve the 18 days for his probation violation starting December 21st to coincide with the Christmas Break and his 30 days for the DUI to be completed by July 1st, well after production is finished.

Upon hearing the news, terrorist cells all over the world expressed outrage over what they perceived to be preferential treatment. The Los Angeles City Attorney's Office did not comment, claiming it's not their policy to respond to the concerns of fictitious characters.'

But in all seriousness, while people will cry of preferential treatment, the difference between Sutherland and us regular folk is the amount of people whose livelihood rely on him. Jailing Jack doesn't just hurt him, it shuts down the entire production and the people who work there.

In addition, that Sutherland took a longer bid to jail around the production schedule despite the possibility of the writers strike shutting production down entirely may be a hint that Jack Bauer isn't the only person with gargantuan testicles.

Keywords: 24, Jack Bauer, Kiefer Sutherland, Jail, Sentence, Prison, DUI, Production, Schedule, Delay

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

'Heroic' Foibles

It's amazing how quickly a show can fall from grace. Just four episodes ago, Heroes was the best drama on network television. Since that time, we've seen a decline of epic proportions. Four episodes. That's all it took. It's hard to wrap your mind around.

The first season was a masterful piece of serialized storytelling. The writing was tight, the pacing perfect, the balance of the ensemble cast nearly flawless. By the time the season's 20th episode, 'Five Years Gone,' rolled around, the show couldn't have been going better.

But it all fell apart, starting with the season finale. And through the first three episodes of season three, it appears the curtain has closed.

Ironically it was the bomb the Heroes worked so hard to stop that sealed the fate of the show. Only the bomb never exploded. New York was spared, the series destroyed beyond repair.

That bomb and the danger that came with it is what carried the mysteries and intertwining story arcs throughout the season. In its absence, the show began to manufacture drama, resulting in meandering and undisciplined storytelling.

'Five Years Gone' showed viewers the devastating aftermath of the explosion. Hiro, Peter and Niki had aligned and fought a war to no avail. The cost of their failure and the toll it took on them was such a beautiful portrait of each character, the thought we'll never see exactly what happened should induce nothing less than anger.

Instead, Hiro is currently in Japan helping an oddly placed British man become a hero, all the while lusting after his girlfriend. A virus is plaguing some of the Heroes (Niki included), Molly is having nightmares and Peter has lost his memory.

Worst of all? HRG and Claire are in hiding. But instead of going up against the company, trying to stay one step ahead, we're being forced to suffer Claire's personal voyage of self and one of the most painful romantic storylines on TV today.

Oh to be Five Episodes Gone...

Keywords: Heroes, Review, Season 2, Season Two, Five Years Gone

2 DUI's, '24' = 48 Day Lockup

He can save the world in 24 hours, but can Jack Bauer jail for 48 days? Kiefer Sutherland, who was on probation for a 2004 DUI at the time of his September 25th arrest for driving under the influence has reached a plea agreement with the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office. Per the agreement Sutherland will serve 30 days for his DUI and 18 days for his probation violation.

I spoke to Lawrence Taylor, one of the nation's most prominent DUI attorneys and author of today and he informed me the sentence was right on target with what was expected. He did, however, bring to my attention an added wrinkle that makes the case more interesting than your standard celebrity DUI.

The original judge, Michael T. Sauer, who presided over the Paris Hilton trial and ordered her back to jail after her early release resulted in a public outcry, is currently on vacation. Employing a clever legal strategy, Sutherland's attorney's quickly plead no contest, hoping to be sentenced prior to Sauer's return.

As a result, the plea agreement will be subject to Sauer's interim replacement, Stuart M. Rice's approval, avoiding any of the complications that could arise from the second high profile DUI case under Sauer. The only obstacle could be if Rice decides he wants to avoid the case and continues it to a date after Sauer's return, ridding himself of a surefire media storm.

Sentencing is set for December 21st in Los Angeles Superior Court. If the agreement is rejected, Sutherland could face up to one year in jail.

Keywords: Kiefer Sutherland, 24, Jack Bauer, DUI, Sentencing, Jail, Prison, Time, Sentence

From HBO to FX: Bikers Reign

Here's hoping the world of biker gangs is as interesting as network executives seem to think. Not a week after news that HBO picked up Michael Tolkin's new biker show 1%, FX has signed on for Forever Sam Crow, a new series from Kurt Sutter, writer/producer of The Shield. Sam Crow will also take place in the world of bikers, focusing on a member of a motorcycle club who struggles to balance his responsibilities as a family man and his love of biking.

I didn't like the premise when HBO announced 1% and I don't like the premise for Sam Crow. Not having a clue or interest in the motorcycle scene, I'm obviously prejudiced, but after talking to a number of HBO subscribers and FX loyalists, I'm not in the minority.

Keywords: HBO, FX, 1%, Forever Sam Crow, Michael Tolkin, Kurt Sutter, Bikers, Motorcycle

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Daily Bullets

  • Firefly Update! Alan Tudyk (Wash) will be playing the lead in a new NBC legal drama.

Decapitated Contract? Sara Tencredi's 'Break'

For some Prison Break fans, last night's death (via decapitation) of Michael's main squeeze Sara Tencredi may have come as a bit of a shocker. But given that Sarah Wayne Callies' contract hadn't been picked up, the question for those following the story was only a matter of how and when.

In an exclusive interview with TV Guide, Prison Break executive producer Matt Olmstead finally shed some light on what exactly happened with Callies. Contrary to rumors, it had nothing to do with personality clashes or behind the scenes drama. The writers simply made a creative decision to kill Sara's character, believing her death to be the only way to move the story forward.

Rather than pick her up for a full 22-episodes, Fox let her contract expire and attempted to renegotiate. Collins, who was pregnant at the time, opted not to go that route, thus making any scenes prior to her death impossible.

That it was Sara's death that caused the contract dispute, not the contract dispute that led to Sara's death is extremely reassuring for the show's fans. In a business where writers are scared to kill off characters in fear of angering their fanbase, it's refreshing to see a story take precedent over popularity.

Through two and a half seasons, Michael Scofield and company's motivation has been survival. With Sara's death, we'll soon learn that turnabout is fair play. We've seen bad-ass Michael, but we've never seen a Michael hell bent on revenge at any cost. It should be interesting.

Keywords: Prison Break, Sara Tencredi, Sarah Wayne Callies, Death, Departure

He Who Laughs Last

God bless Judd Apatow. The creator of television classics Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared, both of which were canceled after only a season, has made many a suit feel foolish with his recent success.

The hottest writer in comedy, Superbad, 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up have all been huge critical hits and moneymakers, proving what many already knew -- Judd Apatow is a creative genius.

Turns out one suit in particular has more egg on his face than others. Last Sunday at the New Yorker Festival, Apatow took the time to put the particular network exec on blast (though not by name). Apatow said that it was the same suit who canceled both shows after changing networks (from NBC to Fox). Apatow, knowing the axe was going to fall on Undeclared, wrote him a preemptive note:

"I don't understand how you can [f---] me in the [a--] when your [d---] is still in me from last time."

Seeing as he drove away one of the brightest minds in the industry, we can only hope that executive is long gone the world of television.

Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000)

Undeclared (2001-2002)

Keywords: Judd Apatow, Seth Rogan, Undeclared, Freaks and Geeks, Superbad, Knocked Up, 40 Year Old Virgin

Return to 'The Docks'

Aha! A damn liar! I ain't never met a nigga smart enough to use a personal computer. Not even a Macintosh!" -Uncle Ruckus
It's been a long, agonizing wait, but the return of Cartoon Network's animated masterpiece, The Boondocks is finally upon us. Created by one of the most important black minds in contemporary America, the transition of Aaron McGruder's nationally syndicated comic strip to the small screen has been nothing short of delightful. With a top-notch soundtrack, unique animation and witty, intellectually-relevant storytelling, the series hit the ground running and never looked back.

After a two year hiatus, the season two premiere, 'Or Die Trying' (a play on 50 Cent's, 'Get Rich or Die Tryin') employed a different tone from season one, scaling back the magnitude of the social commentary and providing a lighter, breezier form of comedy.

Since McGruder's stated that the Cartoon Network didn't censor or limit him in anyway, given his history, concerns that the season premiere lacked the edge are premature. Fact of the matter is, regardless of underlying themes, the show is damn funny.

Given the characters, even a trip to the movies can't escape the lash of McGruder's wit. Uncle Ruckus is back in all his self-loathing glory. Robert Freeman (Granddad) and Riley are just as wildly un-PC as when we left them. Huey suffering continues, the lone voice of reason amongst a sea of lunatics.

My only complaint over the episode was Jasmine's crying. It was painful. Already the weakest link in a strong chain, last night was Jasmine at her absolute worst, nothing more than a weight dragging everyone down.

Regardless, the episode works beautifully a refreshing reminder as to why we've missed the show so much. Now all that's left is to get ready for what's sure to be 15 of the best episodes you can find on television -- animated or otherwise.

Keywords: The Boondocks, Season Two, Season 2, Review

Nielsen Ratings (Fast Tracked)

Overnight for Monday, October 8th, 2007.

Dancing with the Stars won the 8:00 p.m. hour with a 12.3/19 rating with CBS' comedy duo coming in second with a 5.2/8 for How I Met Your Mother and a 5.3/8 for Big Bang Theory.

Prison Break remained on average for the season with a 4.4/7 drawing more viewers despite losing in households to Chuck, which pulled a 4.5/7.

Dancing kept it rolling at 9 p.m. with a 10.9/16 at 9 p.m. easily outgaining CBS' second place comedy tandem of Two and a Half Men at 8.1/12 and Rules of Engagement at 6.8/10.

Heroes continued its fall from grace coming in third in the hour with a 6.4/9. K-Ville came in fourth place (numbers not available as of publishing).

At 10 p.m. CBS took the lead from ABC with CSI: Miami grabbing a 9.5/15 while The Bachelor came in with 6.1/10. NBC's new drama Journeyman didn't fare so well with a 4.5/7 and should be considered on 'cancellation watch.'

Keywords: Nielsen Ratings, Overnight

Monday, October 8, 2007

Daily Bullets

  • Syndication or no syndication? The deal is done. Oh, and Howie will host that version, too.

Over the 'Hill' and Far Away

I've got more work than I can handle, and my shall we say 'lack of competence' creates a lot of repeat business! -Dale
When FOX announced King of the Hill would return for a 12th season, I was thrilled. As much as I love Futurama (and used to love The Simpsons), it's Hank Hill who has headlined the greatest animated comedy of our time.

While South Park and Family Guy beat viewers over the head with idiotic jokes that may as well have been written for ten year olds (that South Park calls them "political" is laughable), Hill and Futurama delivered socially relevant satire with elegant subtlety.

But after the first three episodes, my initial happiness has subsided. ‘Lucky’s Wedding Suit,’ the episode intended to be the Hills’ last hurrah still resonates and I'm dismayed it will never be more than a season finale.

In an industry where very few series go out on their own terms, great series finales are rare. Arrested Development managed to pull it off despite a tragically early demise (as did Freaks and Geeks to a lesser extent).

King of the Hill deserved no less of a send off after its remarkable 200-plus episode run. ‘Lucky’s Wedding Suit’ was just that.

Luanne's wedding allowed us to revisit all the series' minor characters. The closing montage began with the series' regulars standing on Rainey Street, sending off the bride to be and closed with one last visit to the alley.

The final seconds saw Boomhauer reflect on the "enormity of it all" and Hank finally admitting that he's got "well, I'd guess you call it... well, emotions."

It was beautifully done. And as much as I'm enjoy the new season, I've got to wonder if ten years down the road, these extra episodes will have been worth compromising such a magical end to one of the greatest series of our time.

'Futurama' Film Footage

As the wait for Futurama film Bender's Big Score winds down, the excitement is reaching critical levels. Fans haven't had their Futurama fix since the series was canceled in 2003 and it's been too long.

As a holdover until the November 27th release date, check out this hilarious preview. The beginning of this was available after Comic-Con, but there's tons of new footage, each frame better than the last.

Danny Bonaduce Doesn't Mess Around

There are a lot of great viral videos out there, but the Danny Bonaduce/Jonny Fairplay vid is going down in history. In a culture where celebrity snafus have a minuscule shelf life, this is one that won't be soon forgotten. It's the perfect storm, with two of the most hilarious people in all of entertainment.

You have Jonny Fairplay who, in addition to being one of the most despised Reality TV figures since Puck, also moonlights as a wrestler. His two year stint with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) resulted in this gem of a video where he gets tossed out of the ring by Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Enter crazy-ass Danny Bonaduce, whose claim to fame is The Partridge Family.

Since his days as Danny Partridge, he's fallen to drink (he's in recovery) and paved the way for insane child-stars everywhere. He's beaten up a transvestite prostitute after a misunderstanding over gender and payment for 'services rendered.' He's suggested that Rosie O'Donnell be strung up for treason (so long as the rope was thick enough). He's suggested Jane Fonda be shot for treason (he really doesn't like treason). And now, he's dumped poor Jonny on his head.

Honestly, is there a better duo in America? Could two crazier people meet in a crazier setting under a crazier set of circumstances?

Jonny Fairplay is completely lit, visibly hurt that he's getting booed at the Fox Reality TV Awards (where they employ the tried-and-true strategy of getting people black-out drunk and seeing what happens). Next thing you know, Danny Bonaduce taps Fairplay on the shoulder and calmly informs him the crowd is booing him is because "they hate [him]." Now everyone reacts to public humiliation differently. But Fairplay inexplicably decides that rather than make fun of Bonaduce for beating up a transvestite over $40 -- or simply walking off the stage, the best course of action is to jump on Bonaduce and start humping him.

At this point, anyone with a love of pop-culture and a healthy sense of humor would already be adding the clip to their 'YouTube' favorites. But it only gets better. Rather than discard Fairplay through traditional methods (pushing, shoving, punching, etc.), Bonaduce has the mental wherewithal to lift Fairplay over his head and throw him over his back -- without ever dropping his jacket. Watch the video. Bonaduce has a black jacket in his left hand during the entire thing. It's uncanny.

Fairplay takes a ridiculous spill (knocking out his teeth), drops his mic and runs back stage. Amazingly, absolutely no one shows up to do anything. No security, no police, no medics, no producers, no agents, no managers. Nothing.

To ensure his spot in the 'viral video' hall of fame, Bonaduce spends about 20 seconds playing to the crowd, completely unfazed by anything that just happened. The man could have just as easily been accepting an award as taking credit for hurting a reviled celebrity.

Or celebrating his entry into the hearts and minds of internet users everywhere.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Daily Bullets

  • Growing Pains actress Tracey Gold is about to have her fourth child. Meanwhile, I lose my keys at least three times a week.

'Friday Night' Fall

"Answer me this, Timmy. What happened to Texas forever, huh? What happened to livin' large, what happened to that eternal bond that you used to love to throw around when I was still healthy and headed towards the NFL, huh?" -Jason Street
The critically acclaimed Friday Night Lights returns for its second season tonight on NBC. For those unfamiliar with the H.G. Bissinger masterpiece from whence the series came (and 2004 film), FNL tells the tale of a small Texas town economically devastated by the oil bust.

Marginalized to the fringes of society, the town developed a pathological obsession with high school football. In an attempt to compensate for what wasn't there, 'State' became the 'Holy Grail,' its pursuit the singular preoccupation of town.

The story is very much an indictment of the way the culture immortalizes kids, only to discard them when they've outlived their usefulness (i.e. can't help win football games); sending them into the real world with a warped sense of reality that leaves them completely unprepared.

More than any new drama last season, NBC's remake came out of the gate in a league of its own, perfectly capturing the essence of Bissinger's story. But towards the middle of last season, a monumental shift in the thematic content occurred. Network executives imposed their will upon the ratings-challenged show, morphing it from a relevant drama ripe with social commentary to a bland teenage drama using high school football as its gimmick.

It's been heartbreaking to watch the the storylines shift from the assistant coach expressing a racial bias very prevalent in America (blacks can't play quarterback) to a budding romance between Tyra and Landry bred from an attempted rape.

As much as the writers may deny, don't buy into it. Network executives starting calling the plays a long time ago.

Keywords: Friday Night Lights, FNL, TV, Television, Series, Season Two, Season 2, Review, Commentary

It's Showtime for Tim Robbins

It's been a long time coming, but this bit of news marks the day that Showtime became the top dog in the world of television.

Tim Robbins has signed onto write and direct an hour-long drama titled Possible Side Effects. The show centers on a family running a pharmaceutical company. Compare this to yesterday's news about HBO signing Michael Tolkin to do a show about biker gangs and Wire or not, I can't ignore the shift in power.

Keywords: Showtime, Tim Robbins, Possible Side Effects

J.J. Abrams and Peter Ligouri on the 'Fringe'

If there are two busier men in America than J.J. Abrams and Peter Liguori, I'd like to meet them.

Marking yet another pick-up for Liguori and Kevin Reilly, today Fox announced that they'd made a series commitment to the J.J. Abrams sci-fi, Fringe. The series is "part X-Files, part Altered States, part Scanners with a slight Twilight Zone vibe," and will shoot a two-hour long pilot with a budget upward of $10 million.

Just yesterday we reported that Abrams had signed onto do an hour long comedy with Six Feet Under writer Jill Soloway titled Boundaries.

Meanwhile, less than 10 days ago, Liguori announced a new Ryan Murphy project titled Queen B.

Keywords: J.J. Abrams, Kevin Reilly, Fringe, X-Files, Altered States, Scanners, Twilight Zone, Six Feet Under, Peter Liguori, Ryan Murphy, Queen B

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Daily Bullets

  • J.J. Abrams (Lost, Alias) and Jill Soloway (Six Feet Under) have signed on with ABC to do a comedy pilot called Boundaries. The show's premise, "a failing cable access psychologist who rediscovers her true purpose when she is forced to take a job as a mobile notary," is certainly unique.
  • The production company that owns "When You Wish Upon A Star" is suing Family Guy for using the song in the episode "When You Wish Upon A Weinstein." The complaint hasn't been made public, but it'll be interesting to see how they plan to get around the fact that satire doesn't constitute copyright infringement.

Lets Get 'Nuts'

Good news to report as James Hibberd of TV Week has a time-table for Jericho's return.

Jericho has already wrapped up the seven-episode second season, putting it on deck to replace the first canceled CBS series. Between the floundering Kid Nation, Cane's second week ratings drop and the paranormally bad Moonlight, the prospects of a quick return seem promising.

If CBS is smart, they won't wait to pull the plug on a floundering series and get Jericho in there. Given the performance of serialized shows after long hiatuses there's a serious risk the show could lose some of its audience if they're forced to wait that long. Given that Jericho's already been canceled once, I don't know that it can afford to lose anymore viewers.

Another issue, given the series' cult audience there's another potential danger. A fan base with a strong enough internet presence to coordinate a campaign that sent tens of thousands of pounds of nuts to CBS are obviously devoted and resourceful.

So I wonder, how long can CBS sit on seven finished episodes before they end up on the internet? My guess? Not very long at all.

Keywords: Jericho, Return, Date, Season 2, Two

HBO Needs 'Love'

HBO has renewed the freshman series Tell Me You Love Me for a second season. The show, which deals with three different couples in different stages of their relationship, has been underwhelming in the ratings but garnered a good amount of attention over its sexually explicit scenes.

In addition to Love Me, HBO has picked up two pilots, titled 1% and Patient 2344. 1% is scripted by Oscar winner Michael Tolkin and deals with the world of biker gangs. Patient 2344 is set in a futuristic medical institute. Patient will be produced by another Oscar winner, Robert Zemeckis.

Though both projects have the Oscar muscle behind them, their uninspiring premises lead one to wonder how long HBO can ride its past accomplishments before it's forced to prove out.

Contrast to the days of Chris Albrecht when The Sopranos was in its prime, running alongside series like The Wire, Deadwood, Da Ali G Show, Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm and it's amazing to think Tell Me You Love Me would even air, yet alone get two seasons.

Second to The Comeback it's the worst scripted series ever to air on HBO. The characters and their dysfunctional relationships are so loathsome and annoying I found myself wishing the Bubonic Plague upon them. Add that to the mind numbingly repetitive and uninspiring storylines and you've got yourself a show not even the most graphic of sexual content can save.

Keywords: Tell Me You Love, Season 2, Season Two, Renewed, Renew, Renewal, HBO, The Wire, Deadwood, Da Ali G Show, Entourage, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Sopranos

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Daily Bullets

  • "I don't see myself becoming a series regular but there's some talk about spinning me off into my own show once Bionic Woman becomes a huge hit." At least Isaiah Washington hasn't let the Grey's Anatomy mess shake his confidence.
  • Thankfully, the story of the Duke Lax scandal will be handled by HBO. Can you imagine this thing as a Lifetime special?
  • NBC Universal President Jeff Zucker is up in arms over the "losing" battle against piracy. Some of his demands? To "move IP enforcement up the agenda of the federal government, increase spending for border patrol, step up coordination with foreign governments and a new white house post titled 'chief intellectual property enforcement officer.'"

    I love the Entertainment industry, but someone might want to inform Zucker that people are dying in Iraq and a disproportionately large amount of Americans can't put food on their table or afford health care.

  • Ratings are down. I'm sure it's nothing the 'chief intellectual property enforcement officer' couldn't fix though.

The Mailbox

Wondering if you caught the Oceanic 815 Lost reference on Chuck.
-- Jamie

I missed it but there were about 15 emails in my box to remind me. What I want to know is whether our favorite Geek Squad employee can finally tell us why there are polar bears on the island.

“Save the geek, save the world.” What are the chances of Chuck showing up on Heroes anytime soon?
-- Dizzyboy

Now that’s a reference I did catch. I don’t know that he’d be suited for the shenanigans going on in the Heroes universe. He can barely handle his own business and he’s being protected by NSA and CIA agents.

What’s with the hour-long episodes of The Office? It felt to me like the later seasons of Seinfeld. Like they are stretching and becoming more unrealistic to fill up time.
-- Jack Mountney

Seems like a lot of people are concerned about The Office spreading itself too thin. All you need to do is watch the extras on the season three DVD set to realize just how great additional content of show can be.

How can you champion a show for almost a year and then say nothing about it? It’s been almost a week since Dexter premiered and you haven’t said boo.
-- Mad in Michigan

Don’t worry, it’s coming. Because of the serialized nature of pay-cable shows like Dexter, I don’t think I do anyone a service until we’ve had at least a few episodes to digest. But yeah, go watch Dexter people. And Brotherhood too while you’re at it.

Any news on the Battlestar Galactica movie?
-- Thomas

Battlestar Galactica – Razor is due to air on the Sci-Fi channel on November 24th and come to DVD on December 4th. For those that have Sci-Fi Hi-Def, make sure you catch it when it airs. For those of you that don’t, do yourself a favor and wait for the DVD release.

On the scale of unintentional comedy, who wins Gossip Girl or The O.C.?
-- Amy Cohen

It’s too early to tell, but Gossip Girl not only has the potential to blow The O.C. out of the water, but shatter the record books.

How can someone that recognizes the awesomeness of Deadwood and The Wire think Bionic Woman is good? It’s predictable, cheesy and painful to watch. Do you have family that works for the show or something?
-- Timmy O

Timmy seems to echo the sentiments of a lot of readers bashing my Bionic love. We’ve only seen the pilot, but as an allegory for societies and an examination of free will I think it’s hit all the right notes thus far. So long as it doesn’t get too over the top, I’m standing by my Woman.

Keywords: Bionic Woman, Deadwood, The Wire, Dexter, Gossip Girl, The O.C., Chuck, Heroes, Lost, BSG, Battlestar Galactica, Movie, Film, Razor, The Office, Seinfeld

Tracy Tops 'Em All

"You know how pissed off I was when US Weekly said that I was on crack? That's racist! I'm not on crack. I'm straight-up mentally ill!" -Tracy Jordan
I went back and rewatched the first season of 30 Rock last night (yes in one sitting) and with all love to Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy, feet to the fire, there's no question Tracy Jordan is the funniest character on the show.

However little pub Tracy Morgan might get for the role, it's his presence that maintains the balance of the show. Beyond the humor that his insane antics provide on an episodic basis, it's his ability to bring out the best in his cast mates that's invaluable. Going through season one, most of the characters' best lines come in scenes shared with Tracy. His character is just so out there he makes it impossible not to be funny.

And even though I'm right, if you do disagree, just think -- could you really live without a little Dot Com and Grizz in your life?

Keywords: 30 Rock, Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Alec Baldwin, Jack Donaghy, Liz Lemon, Tracy Jordan, Griz, Dot Com, NBC, Season 1, Season 2, Season One, Season Two

DVD of the Month - September

September was one hell of a month for TV on DVD. Honestly, in any other month a few of September's releases would have worn the crown themselves. Unfortunately, when you're up against the three best comedies on television, things just tend to play hard.

#1 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Seasons 1 & 2

As far as continuity and consecutive viewing, Sunny isn't a show that adds anything via the DVD platform. You'll watch it over and over, probably all in one sitting, but unlike The Office and 30 Rock, doing so doesn't make the experience any more rewarding.

But who are we kidding? The Office and 30 Rock are two of the best three comedies on television. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is the best comedy on television. And when it's been an excruciatingly long two years since the show first aired, all that matters is the episodes are finally available on DVD.

#2 - The Office: Season 3
In terms of watching episodes consecutively The Office lends itself to the DVD-format slightly better than It's Always Sunny and a bit below 30 Rock. But it's the extras that make this DVD set. Honestly, they may be the best compilation of features I've seen for a non 'Complete Series' or 'Special Edition' release. Watching the series is amazing as always, but I actually spent almost as much time with the additional material. And let me just say, you haven't lived until you've seen Dwight's music video.

#3 - 30 Rock: Season 1
Almost any other month of the year, 30 Rock would be a lock for DVD of the month. It holds up to repeated views magnificently. It's fantastic for marathon viewing -- the exact type of series that'll have you burning through an entire season in a weekend. But in the end, up against Always Sunny and The Office, the lack of extras made it easy to bump down to #3.

#4 - My Name is Earl: Complete 2nd Season
While it doesn't get the buzz of its NBC single-camera counterparts, My Name is Earl is one of the most consistent comedies on television. It deftly walks the line of 'smart stupidity' and the cast is all fantastic. For those that don't like shelling out for comedies, given the fact it's already in pseudo-syndication, viewers might be able to pass on buying the DVD. But for any serious TV on DVD collector or comedy fan, adding Earl is a no brainer.

#5 - Prison Break: Season 2
Unquestionably one the best guilty pleasure on TV, I don't know that Prison Break works better on DVD than on a week-to-week basis. Granted, not having to wait for every cliffhanger is a coup, but at the same time, absent the benefit of time off between episodes, a lot of the plot holes and silly dialogue tougher become tougher to overlook.

Honorable Mention

  • The Black Donnellys: The Complete Series
  • Nip/Tuck: The Complete Fourth Season
  • Grounded for Life: Season 5
  • Married with Children: The Complete 7th Season
Keywords: TV on DVD, DVD of the Month, September Release, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Season 1 & 2, The Office, Season 3, 30 Rock, Season 1, My Name is Earl, Complete 2nd Season, Prison Break, Season 2, The Black Donnellys, The Complete Series, Nip/Tuck, Complete Fourth Season, Grounded for Life, Season 5, Married with Children, The Complete 7th Season

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Daily Bullets

  • With $419,000 you could buy yourself a nice house or a nice car. Maybe a new plasma. Why not go for a 30 second advertising spot on Grey's Anatomy instead?
  • translates an interview with a French magazine in which Sarah Wayne Callies contends Fox forced her departure from Prison Break. does note they can't confirm its credibility. Still though, who knew they could translate French?
  • The New York Times examines the role of sex in HBO's Tell Me You Love Me. I still don't understand how something with all that nudity the show could be so mind-numbingly boring.
Keywords: Nick Kroll, Sherri Sheperd, The View, Cavemen, Bionic Woman, Knight Rider, American Gladiators, Robinson Crusoe, NBC, Hulk Hogan, Tell me You Love Me, HBO, Sex, Sarah Wayne Callies, Prison Break, Grey's Anatomy, Bill Clinton, DUI, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy

Apple to NBC: Bite Me

Add House to the list of shows that won't be appearing on iTunes this fall. Though it airs on Fox, the show is produced by NBC Universal, which has pulled all its programming after stalled negotiations with Apple. With their contract expiring in December, the battle has grown increasingly fierce after iTunes hosted two new NBC shows (Chuck and Journeyman), bypassing the network and going to the production studios themselves (Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox).

The dispute stems from the current cost of TV shows on iTunes. Apple is dead set on keeping the price at $1.99, while NBC wants to increase the rate per episode (estimations put NBC's asking price is $3.99).

Among other issues raised by NBC during negotiations was a desire for stricter copyright protection. Much of the internet community has scoffed at this notion, citing the fact that users are already paying for the episodes. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a longtime member of the pirating community, who has never paid for a show from iTunes and "never watches episodes when they air," dismissed NBC's concerns over copyright matters as disingenuous.

"Why would NBC be worried about copyrighting when the customers are paying for the episodes?" Torrent sites like "The Pirate Bay [have] episodes up, commercial free, three hours" after they air. Apple is "selling these shows to a non-tech savvy crowd that would rather pay the 2 [dollars] than go through the hassle of pirating. By pulling their programming from iTunes, all they're going to do is push people away."

But with networks ramping up efforts to independently stream their shows online, the question becomes whether the networks need Apple or Apple needs the networks.

Michael Nyerges, a long time iTunes user, was surprised and disappointing to learn of the fallout. "A lot of the reason I download stuff on iTunes is so that I can watch when I'm not home. It's cool that I can watch the episodes free on NBC's website and I'd do that if I was at home, but I use iPod for flexibility. They don't have the internet on trains or airplanes."

While making the issue about portability is an oversimplification, in the end it might be the deciding factor. The severing of ties between NBC and Apple should bring a lot more clarity to the question of why viewers have flocked to the internet en masse for their TV content.

Would they rather pay $1.99 for the ability to watch on the go and skip commercials or do they simply want to watch TV without the burden of primetime scheduling? No one knows, but here's betting we'll find out soon.

Keywords: Apple, iTunes, Networks, NBC, ABC, CBS, CW, Fox, TV, Television, Shows, Series, Online, Video, iPod, iPhone

'Deadwood' Officially Dead

And I'm okay with it (kind of).

The Deadwood films are dead. HBO hasn't said it and they never will. But it's official. In an interview with Cinematic, Ian McShane confirmed the set was being packed up and his future film commitments would preclude his ability to shoot the movie.

In retrospect, one's left to wonder if the abrupt end can tarnish the legacy of one of the greatest television shows of all time. The answer, in a word, is no. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the series finale of Deadwood provides more closure than that of The Sopranos.

The final scene of Deadwood, with Swearengen scrubbing the floor, cleaning the blood of an innocent prostitute murdered to placate Hearst (capitalism in its most brutal form), uttering the series' final sentence, "Wants me to tell him something pretty," is beautifully symbolic.

There was no happy ending. There was no final battle. The town paid dearly to survive the onslaught of Hearst. Elsworth was murdered, Swearengen lost a finger, Alma was forced to sell her claim and Bullock was unmanned. But Deadwood survived. With annexation and elections, it became a civilized town. And with one blood stain, George Hearst showed the social order of capitalism to be no less bloody than a town without law.

Keywords: Deadwood, Ian McShane, Al Swearengen, Cancel, Canceled, Cancellation, Movie, Film, Movies, HBO, Return

Become a 'Gossip Girl'

For the parents of teens enamored with the pretty faces and stylish outfits of the new drama Gossip Girl, the holiday season might come with a hefty price tag. In an inventive (albeit not new) brand of marketing, fans can actually go to the CW website and purchase the clothes adorned by their favorite characters.

Much like the wildly wealthy characters on the show, don't expect the outfits to come on the cheap. The most expensive item as of publication is a $768 Coach Legacy Leather Satchel worn by Serena (Blake Lively).

Just make sure you get there before I do.

Keywords: Gossip Girl, People are Crazy, Expensive, Gifts, Blake Lively, Serena, CW

Monday, October 1, 2007

Heigl Gets Higher

Hot off the heels of her Emmy win for Outstanding Supporting Actress, Grey's Anatomy star Katherine Heigl has netted herself a pay raise. After long and tumultuous negotiations with ABC over the summer, the sides came to terms. No details on the final figures were disclosed.

Calls to Heigl's publicist in an attempt to blackmail, extort and borrow money were not returned.

Keywords: Katherine Heigl, Grey's Anatomy, Emmy, Raise, Pay, Private Practice, ABC


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