“Holy Gucamole, Batman!” The Boob Tube Becomes The ‘Boom Tube’ (or is that the other way around?) As Comics Invade Your TV! !
OK, first the usual apologies and groveling for having been away so long.
Yes, I promised to preview Season Three of Sherlock (and it was amazing!), but truthfully, I have been sick as a dog for much of the new year and when I wasn’t sick I was either weak from being sick or over-worked or both and just didn’t give a damn. I’m sure you know the feeling. I’m back now, so let’s move on…
While the Marvel U has been erupting all over our movie screens in a myriad of wonderful and fantastic ways, thanks to Disney, Sony and FOX, Warner Brothers has been largely underwhelming us with their big screen comic book fare, unless it features a certain Caped Crusader. Man of Steel made a butt-load of money, but its fan-reception was iffy and Warner’s headlong rush to get a Justice League movie in cinemas, beginning with MoS II, guest-starring a new Batman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor and Zeus knows who else is looking so top-heavy and cobbled-together that no one really knows what to expect. I’ll be penning a new installment of “Dear Warner Brothers” sometime soon in the hopes of encouraging the House that Bugs Built to move in a more positive direction, but today, I want to talk about the opposite side of the movie coin. Marvel may be ruling the big screen, but DC is in command of the small one.
Let’s face it, DC has been adapting its product for television almost since TV was invented, beginning with the original Adventures of Superman starring George Reeves in the 1950’s. That incarnation of the Man of Steel flew across our TV screens for an amazing seven seasons, and Supes has returned to TV time and again with Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in the 80’s, Smallville in the 90’s and even a really cheesy Salkind-produced Adventures of Superboy.
In addition to Superman, Batman made his way to the small screen in the 60’s in the cheesiest, campiest version of the character to date (that in all fairness, was not all that unlike the incarnation of the character then appearing in the comics), before taking the Dark Knight to the Big Screen in the 80’s for some of the best and worst (yes, Joel Schumacher, we’re talking about you) super-hero films ever made. In addition, Warner’s has brought its heroes to Saturday mornings in a plethora of Super- related shows, from The Super Friends version of The Justice League (with Casey Kasem as Robin!!), The Batman/Aquaman Hour and so many incarnations of Superman and Batman that it’s difficult to keep count of them all. In fact, I daresay DC still has a one-up on Marvel in the animation department; the animated, movie-length versions of some of their biggest stories that come out at least four times a year, not to mention the excellent Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, JLA Unlimited and Young Justice, and others, most, if not all from EP Bruce Timm are (to me, at least) far superior to similar product from Marvel Animation.
What is this all leading to you ask? (Come on, you know you were asking) Well, it leads us to the fact that while Marvel is currently holding dominion over the Cineplex and while Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD is getting all the ink, DC is slowly but surely rolling out the most impressive comics-inspired slate of TV shows ever to grace the small screen, especially when you consider that they may all be on during the same season(s). Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look:
ARROW (CW-WEDNESDAYS): Despite the fact that Superman has done pretty well in its various TV incarnations, Warner Brothers has strict rules regarding the use of Batman and the Batman family of characters on the telly. The rule, to put it succinctly, is “Don’t.”
Currently, you are not allowed to put the Batman family on television in any form (though that’s about the change, but we’ll talk about that in a minute). This includes not only Batman, but Robin, Nightwing, Catwoman, Red Robin, Batgirl…none of them. But just because the Dark Knight is off the TV table, that doesn’t mean you can’t use another DC character as a Batman substitute, as the folks at the CW have done with Green Arrow/Oliver Queen in Arrow. Arrow is a show that I was certain was going to fail. First, the CW had already used the character for the better part of ten years on Smallville. Then came the concern that its producers, Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim had done such an awful job adapting DC’s other Emerald Hero, Green Lantern, for the big screen. Starring newcomer Stephen Amell as Green Arrow and his playboy disguise Oliver Queen, the show was such an obvious Dark Knight substitute that it was difficult to take it seriously. Until it debuted, that is. Until we realized how gosh-darn good it was.
Arrow is a show that started off strong and has continued to get better the longer it’s gone on. Now, in its second season, we have not only seen real undeniable character growth and change on the part of our hero, but we have also seen real growth in his stable of supporting characters, including Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) and Roy Harper (Colton Hayes). Arrow has given us gritty, realistic new versions of classic villains like Deathstroke and the League of Shadows, along with a new member of the Ras Al Ghul family – Talia’s sister Nyssa – kick-ass side-kicks in the form of Black Canary and Speedy/Arsenal/Red Arrow or whatever-the-hell-we’re-gonna-call-him and a whole host of bad guys, re-conceptualized in new and gritty ways. With Black Canary already in play and the Huntress returning shortly, I’m thinking it’s only a matter of time before Oliver’s gal Friday Felicity (Emily Brett Richards, my new crush) steps up to take on the Oracle mantle and an Arrow-centric Birds of Prey will be born. Against the odds, Arrow has just gotten better and better and has become the benchmark for what a quality comic book to TV show adaptation is supposed to look like.
And as for my “failure” prediction… The CW just announced (unsurprisingly) that it is renewing Arrow for a third season. Yay!
THE FLASH (CW-TBA): A spin-off of Arrow, and the only other mainstream DC hero series currently in the pipeline, The Flash is a DC hero who’s had a TV try-out before. Back in the 90’s, CBS spent a season trying to get the Scarlet Speedster running, with John Wesley Shipp as the titular hero and Star Wars’ Mark Hamill as The Trickster, but to no avail (if the story is to be believed, the then-prez of CBS told Shipp that cancelling the show was the biggest mistake he ever made while in charge). Basically all we’ve been told so far is the cast, but as with Arrow, it’s a large and impressive one. As he did on his two stints on Arrow, Grant Gustin plays Barry Allen. Allen is a police scientist whose life is forever changed when a combination of a lighting strike and an exploding particle collider soak him with chemicals that charge his body with the power of the Speed Force (I assuming they’ll use the Speed Force in the show; I could be wrong), which allows him to travel as supersonic speeds. This Barry’s life follows the one in the comics, more or less; his mother was killed when he was young, and his father was convicted of the crime. For all intents and purposes an orphan, Barry is raised by the family of Detective West, played by Jesse L. Martin from Law & Order. His daughter Iris, who the studio describes as Barry’s “best friend,” not his love interest as in the comics, is played by actress Candice Patton. The fact that Iris and her family are African-American brings a nice contemporary slant to the tale, making it seem relevant without significantly changing the story in any other way. But the “best friend” thing is a mystery, unless the CW is just hedging their bets on the audience wanting Barry and Iris to hook up, as opposed to the Arrow model where Laurel was introduced as Oliver’s endgame, only to discover that most fans would rather he get together with Felicity.
Just because the drama is a spin-off of an extremely dark show doesn’t mean that The Flash will be all gloom and doom himself. According to EP/creator Greg Burlanti, “Barry is different from Oliver [on Arrow]. He’s a man of science and has more of a sci-fi bent, whereas Arrow has a bit more of a crime bent…We often talk about how Oliver comes off like a pessimist, but deep down he’s an optimist and has hope. Barry lost his mother at a very young age, his father was sent to prison for murdering his mom, he went through a lot of stuff — on the surface he’s bubbly and upbeat and seems like an optimist, but deep down maybe there’s no hope left….So they’re a really nice contrast to each other and the show functions in that way, I think. Certainly in the pilot script Barry has an effervescence and a lightness, but there’s still a dark well beneath that.”
Sounds like an interesting premise to start with. Also starring in The Flash are: Tom Cavanagh (Ed) as Harrison Wells, who is described as “a rock star in the world of physics, the mind and money behind Central City’s S.T.A.R. Labs Particle Accelerator.” He becomes a pariah after the lab’s explosion, but he charts his path to redemption when he discovers that his failed experiment had the unintended consequence of creating the world’s fastest man.
Carlos Valdes will play “mechanical engineering genius” Cisco Ramon. In the comics, Ramon is the alter ego of the superhero Vibe. Of course, The Flash is following in the footsteps of Arrow, so who knows what spin there might be on that character.
Two new actors added to the cast: Danielle Panabaker will play Caitlin Snow, a bio-engineering expert whose fiancé died when the particle accelerator at S.T.A.R. Labs was turned on. And Rick Cosnett will play Detective Eddie Thawne, a new officer with the Central City PD with the standard “mysterious past. Could this Thawne be related to the comics villain Professor Eobard Thawne/Professor Zoom? And in the best Flash-related news of all, the aforementioned John Wesley Shipp, who played Barry Allen/The Flash in the 90’s has been cast in a recurring “mystery role,” that we’ll find out more about later.
As far as villains go, aside from Professor Zoom’s possible great-great-something grandfather, nobody’s saying much, but an audition side floating around town does include several mentions of The Trickster. I wonder if Mark Hamill is busy?
GOTHAM (FOX-TBA): In all seriousness, this has got to be one of the best ideas for a comics-based TV show I’ve ever heard; a look at a young Jim Gordon, new to the Gotham City Police Department and patrolling the mean streets and navigating the corrupt hallways of power in a cold and unforgiving city. What an awesome premise! Unfortunately, subsequent reports that we’ll be meeting younger versions of Bruce Wayne and his rogue’s gallery makes me terribly afraid that this show is going to be much more like “Gotham City 90210” or the hilarious Gotham City High on Youtube than it is the Dark Knight we’ve come to know and love. Fox chairman Kevin Reilly crushed the dreams of many a Bat-fan at Fox’s panel during the network’s Television Critics Association press tour recently. “This is all of the classic Batman characters,” Reilly continued. “It follows the arc of how they all became what they were. I’ve read the script it’s really good. It’s going to be this operatic soap that has a slightly larger-than-life quality.”
Apparently, the plan is exactly like Smallville, in that the show will show how each character, good and bad, becomes the hero or villain we all know today, and Reilly says the show will end when Batman puts on the cape for the first time. How is this possible? Are they going to follow Bruce on his trip to the Far East and his quest for spiritual and physical perfection? One whole episode dedicated to meditation or yoga? Truthfully, the show Reilly describes above doesn’t have to have Jim Gordon in it at all and makes me wonder if the suit really had a firm grip on the concept when he talked about it. In other press statements, the emphasis does seem to be on Gordon and the GCPD but there doesn’t seem to be much being said on the execution of the show. Here’s what we’ve got:
Gotham is produced by the top-tier team of Bruno Heller (The Mentalist) and Danny Cannon (CSI). It will star Ben McKenzie (Southland), who voiced Batman/Bruce Wayne in the animated Batman: Year One as Jim Gordon and the amazing Donal Logue (Sons of Anarchy), originally rumored to be up for the role of Gordon, as the reprehensible Harvey Bullock.
“I’m super excited about Gotham,” Logue told E! News. “It was weird, I’ve never been on a ride like that. I met them and talked to them and there was some weird internet rumor that I was playing Commissioner Gordon—and I’m like, ‘I’m way too old, man!’ It was weird to be part of this kind of ongoing discussion that I was not in the mix of. It’s an exciting thing; it’s going to be here in New York. It’s one of those funny things where they’re super secretive, so you have to go to a secret place to read a script and give away your phone.”
“The cast is lining up. I’m really excited to work Ben—I was huge fan of Southland—and Danny Cannon, the director, who I’ve worked with before and is a buddy of mine is on the same soccer team as me.”
Also inhabiting Gotham are Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers, and the son of the Third Doctor) as Wayne butler Alfred Pennyworth, taking the Michael Caine model of the character one step further as a tough-as-nails ex-marine from East London, (who) has loyally served the Wayne family. Now, in the wake of their tragic deaths, he’s fiercely protective of the young Bruce Wayne, Zabryna Guevarra (Guilt Trip) as Gordon’s boss Captain Essen who balances the two worlds of police and politics with a Machiavellian skill that’s as much corporate litigator as cop. It’s interesting to note that, in the comic Batman: Year One, there was a Sarah Essen (who wasn’t Gordon’s boss) with whom Gordon had an affair. Speaking of affairs, Erin Richards (Open Grave) is also on hand as Gordon’s fiancé, Barbara Kean, a sophisticated emergency doctor, Kean stands by her (man) amid the corrupt world of Gotham.
And in the villain role? Gotham movers and shakers promise early versions of most of Batman’s rogue’s gallery, but the only one announced thus far is Robin Lord Taylor (Another Earth) as Oswald Cobblepot, the man better known as DC Comics villain the Penguin. With the brains of a chess grandmaster and the morals of a jackal, Cobblepot is a low-level psychopath for gangster Fish Mooney [an original character to be played by Jada Pinkett-Smith] and hides his sadistic lust for power behind an exquisitely polite demeanor.
Now, while I don’t have a problem with a pre-Penguin Cobblepot (and actually think it’s a pretty inspired idea), I definitely don’t want to start seeing bad guys fully-formed in their super villain regalia before there’s even a Batman on the scene. Selina Kyle as a former prostitute and fledgling cat burglar; yes. The Joker trying to jump-start his comedy career while running around town as the Red Hood (as per The Killing Joke graphic novel); yes. But the Riddler running around pell mell and fully formed before there’s even a Batman to torment? Hell, no. In short, Heller and company had best tread lightly. Done right, this could be the Homicide: Life on the Streets of comic book shows. Done wrong, it could be another Cop Rock. Keep the emphasis on Jim Gordon and the GCPD and let the young Bruce Wayne boil in interminable teen angst quietly in the background. In other words, more like Law & Order, less like Smallville. Please.
FOX has already given Gotham a series commitment, so we’ll be seeing on the screen in some form come fall. Let’s hope Kevin Reilly is just talking out of his hat and we get the gritty super-powered crime drama we deserve.
CONSTANTINE (NBC-TBA): Stepping a little further afield from the mainstream antics of Arrow, The Flash and Gotham, NBC has ordered a pilot for Constantine, which, like the Keanu Reeves-starring film before it is based on Vertigo’s (owned by DC) dark supernatural comic Hellblazer. The pilot, being written by Daniel Cerrone (The Mentalist) and David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight Trilogy and Man of Steel) is being developed as a companion to Grimm on NBC’s Friday night line-up.
Cautiously, I’m excited about this. Cerrone and Goyer certainly have a great track record with this kind of tale, and Sleepy Hollow has certainly made the market ripe for it, but despite Grimm’s success, NBC’s track record with the supernatural is spotty. And according to io9.com, there’s some question as to the Peacock’s excitement about the project over-all. If NBC will fully get on board and engage, and if casting choice Matt Ryan blondes up well, and all involved embraces the subject matter in a grown-up way, this show could be amazing. If not…anybody remember that old FOX show Brimstone?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
PREACHER (AMC-TBA): Looking to fill the gap left by the departure of Breaking Bad, AMC - the network which also brings us our weekly dose of The Walking Dead - has ordered a pilot for an adaptation of this extremely Hard R 90’s comic by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. The project, apparently, has been a long time coming. “This is amazing!” Executive producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg said. “We’ve tried for seven years to work on ‘Preacher’ and we’re so psyched AMC is finally letting us. It is our favorite comic of all time, and we’re going to do everything we can to do it right.”
Excitement aside, there are several potential problems challenges with a Preacher TV show. One, that the subject is so violent and, well, let’s just say it out loud-perverse-with its tales of addiction, bestiality, incest and what have you, that AMC may insist on watering the material down too much to make it recognizable for what it is. Two, that the show’s basic conceit, of the Reverend Jesse Custer, possessed of an ancient spirit that is searching for God, who he feels has been too much of an absentee landlord, will prove to be a bit to “out there” for Middle America to handle. And maybe most itchy is issue three, that the shows’ EP’s Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (This is the End) and showrunner Sam Caitlin (Breaking Bad) will insist on injecting too much comedy into the proceedings and ruin it. Once again, we’re going to be cautiously optimistic. Rogen and Goldberg are fans of the comic and are certainly smart enough to understand what made it popular, AMC is certainly used to a small amount of push-back from an ultra-violent show (provided it pulls the ratings) and Middle America? I think it’s high time we gave Middle America credit for being smarter (along with the South) than we think we are. We shall see.
Based on a Vertigo comic by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred, this is what I can only assume is a comedy about a med-student-turned-zombie forced to work in the city coroner’s office. The show is produced by former Veronica Mars producers Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero, along with Danielle Stokdyk and Dan Etheridge from Warner Brothers TV. I know nothing about this show other than the above, and since it’s only a pilot we might never learn anything else, but it is more proof that the DC guys are out there in the market place, doing a heck of a lot more than flogging it to the tights and flights crowd.
And there you have it, one established series that is really on top of its game and five potential new series, each poised to push the envelope chart new territory for comics-related properties. Of course, beyond the third season renewal of Arrow and the straight to series order for Gotham, the other three are all pilots, and we have no idea what will and what won’t be on our TV’s next fall. Could all five of these shows, along with Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and Peggy Carter, Agent of SHIELD as well as the Marvel’s Defenders series of mini’s on Netflix, all vie for our love and attention at the same time? Probably not, but wouldn’t it be so cool it they did? Of the DC shows, I’m betting we’ll see (in addition to Arrow and Gotham which are a lock),The Flash on the CW and Preacher on AMC. As for Constantine and iZombie? I’d love to see it happen, but I just don’t think NBC is going to take the chance on a show like this. And, as for iZombie, DC already fills up a huge chunk of the CW sched with Arrow and the almost sure-bet of The Flash. I’m not sure they’re ready to give up that much prime-time real estate to its four-color cousin for such an unproven property. Do you realize that that’s potentially thirteen comics-related series? Fourteen if you include The Walking Dead?
THE AXEMAN COMETH…Well, it’s beginning to be that time of year and the nets are cutting their losses on some shows that didn’t work so well and granting reprieves to other shows that did. Final decisions about the entirety of the TV landscape won’t be known till May, but here’s what we know now:
Renewed: Sleepy Hollow and The Blacklist got really early renewals. Following in their successful wake are,
Survivor (CBS). Like that rash on my butt, it just won’t go away.
Under the Dome (CBS) The summer series will be back in June for season two.
The Vampire Diaries (CW) No real surprises here.
Supernatural (CW) This show is pretty much staggering across the starting line to begin Season Ten. Maybe we should be thinking about putting this one out to stud.
Arrow (CW) Um, were you reading this article up to now? No surprise for one of The CW’s biggest hits. Ever.
The Originals (CW) The renewal isn’t a surprise, but the fact that the show is so good and addictive all on its own is.
Reign (CW) Mary Queen of Scots 90210 will be back. Huzzah!
Bones (FOX) Another show that’s beginning to show its age gets a tenth season.
Glee (FOX) renewed for Seasons Five and Six and then DONE. Thank god.
So You Think You Can Dance (FOX) What fresh hell is this? It will be back.
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) Not a renewal per se, but stars Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey just signed new two year contracts, so what does that tell you?
Mistresses (ABC) Hardly news at this point, but the Alphabet has renewed this Alyssa Milano summer soaper for a second go…this summer.
Teen Wolf (MTV) That most guilty of guilty pleasures will be back for a twelve episode fourth season in late 2014.
The Newsroom (HBO) Creator and Head Writer (usually sole writer) Aaron Sorkin is really in demand as a screenwriter right now, but HBO has managed to get him to commit to a third and FINAL season of this great show. No word on when the new season will debut, much less start production, but I’ll let you know as soon as I know it.
Homeland (SHO) Renewed for Season Four even though Brody’s dead. That’s cold.
Shameless (SHO) Renewed for fifth season of William H Macy goodness for the whole dysfunctional family.
House of Lies (SHO) Don Cheadle and his Shillbillies return for a fourth season of hucksterism.
House of Cards (Netflix) In case you haven’t heard while you’re binge-watching Season Two (which debuted Valentine’s weekend), Netflix has renewed the Underwoods for a third term in power. Yes!
Orange is the New Black (Netflix) Like HoC, Orange got the green light for a second season before the first even aired. The first teaser trailer just debuted online, announcing that season two escapes on June 6, 2014.
Sherlock (BBC/PBS) EP Stephen Moffat has confirmed that the show will be back for not one, but TWO more seasons, but given the schedules of stars Benedict Cumberbatch & Morgan Freeman,plus the vagaries of British TV scheduling, it could be be two more years before the we see them. Bloody hell!
Justified (FX) As we mentioned last time, Raylan and Boyd have been renewed for a FINAL sixth season.
Sons of Anarchy (FX) Also on track for its FINAL season of bloodshed, to begin in September.
Mad Men (AMC) Renewed for a FINAL two-part, sixteen episode seventh season.
The Walking Dead (AMC) Just picked up for a fifth season.
Boardwalk Empire (HBO) Renewed for its fifth and FINAL season.
Girls (HBO) Season Four OK’d before Season Three hit the air. Somebody up there likes Lena Dunham.
Getting On (HBO) Never heard of this show? Well, someone has, cause this hospital comedy just got OK’d for season two.
Dancing With the Stars (ABC) Be still my heart…(that’s sarcasm, in case you weren’t sure).
Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family) Renewed for both a fourth and fifth season. Booya. But as for their spin-off….. see below.
The Fosters (ABC Family) This one’s coming back. Are you sure it’s not about a family of Australian brewers?
Witches of East End (Lifetime) Really? This is coming back? How about that?
Killer Women (ABC) Bye, Tricia Helfer! I like watching you and all, but this Sophia Vegara-EP’d mess never made sense.
Sean Saves the World (NBC) The surprise is not that it got axed, the surprise is that it took so long.
The Michael J Fox Show (NBC) Ah, Michael, alas we hardly knew ye! Expect Fox to land on his feet (sorry), as he heads over the The Good Wife for a multi-episode arc.
Psych (USA) Producers have announced that the current eighth season which premiered in January will be the show’s last.
X Factor (FOX) This is a complete non-event for me, but you may mourn if you wish.
Ravenswood (ABC Family) Alas, this Pretty Little Liars spin-off is…Nevermore. See what I did there?
This is all we know for sure. Everything is more or less On the Bubble. Of course, for some, it’s a bigger bubble than for others…
A FEW THINGS COMING BACK IN THE SPRING THAT WE DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT. Turns out that SYFY has got a couple of returning series and some newbies on the way this spring. For example:
Continuum (Returns Friday, April 4th) I have to admit I found this Canadian import extremely slow-going late last season and stopped watching, but Season Three is on the way, and I’m prepared to be drawn back in as Kira continues to try to preserve the future by changing the past or whatever she’s doing.
Warehouse 13 (Returns Monday April 14) Honestly, I thought this one was already gone, so imagine my joy at a final six outings with Pete and Myka and the Warehouse 13 team.
Metal Hurlan Chronicles (Premieres Monday, April 14) Based on the popular comics anthology Metal Hurlan, each of the 12-episodes (comprising Seasons 1 & 2) take place on a different planet with a different cast, linked together by the presence of an asteroid, which plays a vital role in their lives – and the future of their civilization. The international cast includes James Marsters, Rutger Hauer, Michael Jai White and Stargate Atlantis’ Joe Flanigan.
HALLIE BERRY HAS HER OWN GRAVITY. CBS has announced that the Steven Spielberg-produced summer series, Extant, starring X-Men’s Hallie Berry will premiere on July 2. The show follows Berry’s character, an astronaut, as she tries to reacclimatize to life on Earth after a year-long space mission. Her efforts are hampered by the knowledge that she is somehow got pregnant while in space. Word is, if the show has a good first season, Spielberg and Berry are willing to return for a second.
LAST CALL AT McLAREN’S WILL BE LEGEND-WAIT FOR IT-ARY. CBS has announced that the series finale for the long-running sitcom How I Met Your Mother will beMarch 31. In related news, it has also been announced that Greta Gerwig has been cast in the HIMYM spin-off, How I Met Your Dad as Sally, a young woman on the verge of breaking up with her new husband.
REALITY. WHAT A CONCEPT. Survivor: Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty will return with a two-hour premiere on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 8 p.m., while The Amazing Race will kick off its All-Star edition, with 11 returning fan favorite teams, on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 8 p.m.
GODS AMONG US. In keeping with their recent plan of folding Agents of SHIELD more into the larger Marvel Universe, ABC has announced that Jaime Alexander, who played Lady Sif in both the Thor movies will soon guest-star in episode fourteen of the Tuesday night spy show. This follows the recent cameo by Marvel Comics guru Stan Lee and the announcement that veteran actor Bill Paxton will soon co-star in another comics-based role. According to the press release, Sif comes to SHIELD in pursuit of Lorelei, and Asgardian villain whose power involves making men fall in love with her.
THERE’S ALWAYS ROOM FOR COSBY. Once the king of NBC’s Thursday night Must See TV, NBC (now truly desperate with the failure of The Michael J Fox Show) has announced the return to the airwaves of Bill Cosby as the patriarch of a multigenerational family. No title or writer has been attached to the project at this point, but the show will be EP’d by former Cosby Show producer Tom Werner. Cosby starred for eight seasons on The Cosby Show on NBC and Cosby on CBS for four. Both series co-starred Phylicia Rashad as his TV wife. No word on the sweater situation yet, but we’ll keep you posted.
REDSHIRTS REVENGE! Deadline is reporting that John Scalzi’s wonderful Star Trek-skewering novel Redshirts is being developed as a series for FX. The book, described as a meta-fictional adventure of what happens when the crew of the USS Intrepid discover that they exist only as cannon fodder to draw fire away from the ship’s senior officers on Away missions, was a runaway hit, winning numerous awards and much acclaim. No word yet on the cast or production team but the novel fits into FX’s wheelhouse perfectly and I can’t wait to see what they come up with.
TV UNDER GLASS. CBS has announced that last summer’s big hit Under the Dome, based on the novel by Stephen King will return for season two on Monday, June 30. And, oh yeah, according to EP Brian K. Vaughan, there will be two major deaths in the premiere. Yowzers.
IT’S GOOD TO BE KING. Speaking of Stephen King, Universal TV is adapting King’s short story Ayana into a TV drama, according to Variety. Set in the world of miracles,Ayana features complex and powerful characters who are touched with just a hint of unexplained magic that triggers profound change in their lives. Chris Sparling is on board to write the pilot for Ayana. Jordan Kerner will serve as exec producer on Ayana, with Ben Haber producing.
THE GIRL FROM D.I.V.A. After a fizzled movie career and after Grey’s Anatomy refused to let her back in, Katherine Heigl is back on TV in a new NBC series called State of Affairs. In the show, Heigl steps back into our TV’s as a CIA agent who is tapped to become the President’s new daily briefer. I have a feeling this has nothing to do with actual briefs of the underwear variety and will try to tap into the Scandal gene more than a little.
CAN WE CALL IT NCIS: ENTERPRISE? After the less than enthusiastic response to the last NCIS pilot, NCIS: Red, CBS has announced a pilot order for NCIS: New Orleans, which will star Enterprise/Quantum Leap star Scott Bakula as team leader and Shield/Sons of Anarchy bad ass CCH Pounder as the resident Medical Examiner. NCIS starMark Harmon and NCIS EP Gary Glasberg are EPing for the network.
NOW THAT’S SOMETHING TO CROW ABOUT! After the ratings (if not critical) success of last fall’s live theatre production of The Sound of Music, starring country star Carrie Underwood, NBC will be back again next year with another classic family-friendly musical, Peter Pan. No word on who will star, but NBC president Robert Greenblatt did take a moment to strike terror into the hearts of reporters when he joked, “I want Miley Cyrus!” Returning to produce once again are the SoM team, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.
And that’s a wrap for this one, kids. I’ll try to be back soon (rather than later) with another missive from the terrors of Tube Town. Until then, keep your pixie dust dry and your eyes onthe second star on the right and straight on till morning. After all, tomorrow’s a school day.
Receiving the first “popGeezer Totally Annoying Seven Iron To The Head Awarded” since 2009…
Beefy Shia, a total moron. Here’s Deadline.com’s coverage….
You know all that great TV you love – where some of it’s sci-fi and some of it has a superhero in it and some of it has a troubled dude in it and some weeks it’s all about the main story or sometimes it just goes off on some unrelated tangent?? Hmm, do you? Do you?!?
Well, you mostly have two dudes to thank for that kind of TV. Joss Whedon’s Buffyverse had a lot to do with it, but another guy pretty much invented it. His name is Chris Carter, and his little TV show was a giant blueprint called The X-Files. Nine seasons and two movies did it emit, like a black oil from the frozen tundra.
After its premier on FOX in 1993, and over that long run of 201 episodes, Carter’s sci-fi/supernatural, “mythology-based” series became a TV icon. And everything good that came after – Buffy, Smallville, Arrow, the rebooted Doctor Who, Revolution, Torchwood and – most importantly - Lost and The Walking Dead all owe Carter some residual checks.
After The X-Files closed up shop in 2002, with the exception of 2008’s second (and fully dreadful) X-Files movie I Want To Believe, Carter has been pretty absent from the big media world. Until earlier today – 2/6/2014. Though, Amazon should have waited until March 7th to release this. (I’ll explain later.)
Carter has written and directed The After, a pilot for Amazon Originals, which premiered today on the Prime streaming service. This is one of ten new pilots which Amazon streams, solicits viewer feedback, and then decides which of the test shows will go to series. Up to now, only Alpha House, a DC-based sit-com starring John Goodman, has gone through the process – during the previous year’s inaugural “Pilot Season” – and arrived on Amazon as a web series.
But Chris Carter’s The After arrives today, with all the key elements you expect from him.
First, what the hell is going on? And who are these eight disparate characters thrown together by fate? Were they thrown together by fate? Is larger force in play? Where did that missing day go? And, as we came to expect from Carter, once he reached the end of The X Files run, does even HE know the answer to any of these questions?!?
What is going on appears to be the end of the world, or at least Los Angeles, as the city loses all electrical power, communication, and – based on the aimless wandering of lots of extras – sense of direction. Eight people, or, more precisely, eight cardboard cutouts of characters, seem to be randomly thrown together in the middle of all this generic chaos. Led by wrongly-imprisoned prison escapee “D“, played by Leverage’s Aldus Hodge, these folk cleverly get out of downtown L.A., only to end up in a more dangerous series of events on a large Beverly Hills estate.
The other main character is Gigi, played by the lovely French actress Louise Monot (OSS 117: Lost in Rio and the upcoming Girl On A Bicycle). While the idea of a French lead actress on an American TV series is far from stereotypical, her actions as an actress and Mom stuck in L.A. while her family is in New York are full of by-the-book moxie.
The rest of the gang is rounded out by Adrian Pasdar (Heroes) as an amoral L.A. lawyer, Arielle Kebbel (90210) as Pasdar’s boot-knockin’ honey of an employee with a working knowledge of the book of the Revelation and a fondness for badly timed skinny-dippin’, Andrew Howard as a drunk Irishman with anger issues, Jaina Lee Ortiz as a good Latina cop, Jamie Kennedy as a gay birthday clown (really), and Sharon Lawrence (NYPD Blue) as the little old diabetic lady from Beverly Hills. I swear to you, it’s like the crew of the Minnow just landed dead square onto the Apocalypse.
But, in all honesty, The After is fairly entertaining. The big problem is that Chris Carter is still running on a 1993 TV motherboard. And even though he invented that operating system, hundreds of capable writers have made cooler mods to it for twenty years. However, the silly twists are fun, and so is Carter’s complete joy at being free from normal TV restrictions. His overuse of the f*** bomb is happily juvenile. The importance of the aforementioned March 7th had me giggling out loud, as did the entire performance of ninth series regular Sam Littlefield (pictured).
The After ain’t The Walking Dead or Lost or even True Blood. But it is Chris Carter doing what he does best, including the dopey parts. Go peek at this Amazon Original and see for yourself.
Welcome back and Happy New Year, my little TV Tubers and Tubettes! Now that we‘ve all had a chance to shake our merry-makers and party like its 2099, let’s get back to business! If you recall, in our last episode, our hero, Cadillac Jack had debuted the winter premiere dates for January and made the world safer for couch potatoes everywhere. In this episode, he does the same for February Sweeps(!), March and April. The goodness just never ends!
FEBRUARY . IT’S SWEEPS MONTH! GET OUT YOUR BROOMS SO THAT YOU CAN CLEAN UP THE PIECES OF YOUR BLOWN MINDS!
AND REMEMBER, ALL TIMES ARE EASTERN!!
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY SECOND.
Its Super Bowl Sunday, a night you watch for kitten bowls, funny commercials, special episodes of critically-lauded but unwatched shows and, oh yeah, some football game.
10pm (after the game). NEW GIRL: FOX. This show is actually a pretty nice hit for FOX, so I’m not sure I understand why it needs to be in the cat-bird’s seat, but here it is!
10:30pm. BROOKLYN NINE-NINE: FOX. Ah, here’s why we have New Girl in Slot A, because this struggling Andy Samberg/Andre Braugher vehicle is in Slot B. Have fun kids!
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY NINTH:
9pm. THE WALKING DEAD: AMC (Season Four winter premiere). The cable powerhouse returns with the group divided and little Judith missing. Meryl Streep arrives in episode one as a mysterious woman who keeps saying (in an Australian accent), “A dingo zombie ate my baby!”
10pm. THE TALKING DEAD: AMC (Season Three winter premiere). Chris Hardwick and his panel of guests talk about the episode and explain why that Meryl Streep comment was just a joke.
11pm. COMIC BOOK MEN: AMC (Season Three winter premiere). Kevin Smith brings us more of what he gave up film-making for! Until Clerks 3, anyway.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY ELEVENTH:
9pm. TWISTED: ABC FAMILY (Season One winter premiere).
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY FOURTEENTH:
12am. HOUSE OF CARDS: NETFLIX (Season Two premiere). Netflix debuts the entire second season of the Kevin Spacey/Robin Wright political potboiler all on the same day. Happy Valentine’s Day!
MONDAY, FEBRUARY SEVENTEENTH:
8pm. STAR-CROSSED: CW (Series premiere). It’s the invasion of the pretty people! The half-net debuts this half-baked drama featuring an ET-inspired spin on Romeo and Juliet. Oh, the humanity!
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY EIGHTEENTH:
10pm. TOSH 2.0: COMEDY CENTRAL (Season six premiere). He surfs the internet so you don’t have to! Daniel Tosh returns with web-goodies that make your porn collection seem like Masterpiece Theatre!
MONDAY, FEBRUARY TWENTY-FOURTH:
8pm. THE VOICE: NBC (Season six premiere). This is the one where the pop star and the country dude and the rocker share an apartment, right? Sorta’ like, Being Human: The Hollywood Edition.
9pm. DALLAS-THE RETURN: TNT (Season three premiere). Is there really any point to this show without Larry Hagman as JR? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
10pm. PRIVATE LIVES OF NASHVILLE WIVES: TNT (Series premiere). I don’t know what the hell this is, but I’m not going near it without holy water and a stake.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY TWENTY-FIFTH:
8pm. GLEE: FOX (Season five winter premiere). America’s favorite forty-something year old teenagers return to see if they can build on the sympathy ratings they got for the untimely death of star Cory Monteith.
9pm. RIZZOLI & ISLES: TNT (Season four winter premiere). Angie Harmon and Sascha Alexander return for another season of lesbian jokes.
10pm. PERCEPTION: TNT (Season two winter premiere). Will and Grace’s Eric McCormick returns in a show that most people forget is on.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY TWENTY-SIXTH:
9:30pm. MIXOLOGY: ABC (Series premiere). No idea, but I’m afraid. Very afraid.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY TWENTY-SEVENTH:
9pm. GREY’S ANATOMY: ABC (Season ten winter premiere). From what I hear, Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo are both ready to leave Seattle Grace (or whatever the hell they’re calling it now) when their contracts are up at the end of the season. Sounds like a fat lady singin’ to me…
10pm. SCANDAL: ABC (Season three winter premiere). And here’s the reason ABC won’t be too sad to see Grey’s go.
VIKINGS: HISTORY (Season two premiere). All the fun of Thor without the hammer. Enjoy!
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY TWENTY-EIGHTH:
10pm. HANNIBAL: NBC (Season two premiere). The most twisted show on TV is back, served with with fava beans and a nice chianti (not to mention Mads Mikkelson, Hugh Dancy and Lawrence Fishburne). Bon Appetit’!
MARCH. IN LIKE A LION, OUT LIKE A CRYING LITTLE GIRL, ONCE THE CANCELLATIONS HIT.
SUNDAY, MARCH SECOND:
8:30pm. THE 86TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS: ABC (One night special event). The gilt, the glamour! The awards given to movies you’ve never heard of! Ellen Degeneres returns as host.
THURSDAY, MARCH SIXTH:
8pm. ONCE UPON A TIME IN WONDERLAND: ABC (Season one winter premiere). The farther Alice goes down the rabbit hole, the closer this show gets to cancellation.
9pm. SUITS: USA (Season three premiere). Gabriel Macht and Patrick J. Adams return in a show that’s all about lawyers, but has very little to do with the law.
10pm. SIRENS: USA (Series premiere). This is either about mythological Greek demigoddesses who snare men’s hearts with their song or guys who drive ambulances. Unfortunately, I’m thinking it’s the ambulances.
SUNDAY, MARCH NINTH:
8pm. ONCE UPON A TIME: ABC (Season three winter premiere). TV’s biggest and most confusing show gets bigger and more confusing in 2014 as Storybrooke disappears and Emma and Henry find themselves living on their own in New York with no memory of their fairy tale roots. Talk about a fantasy!
9pm. RESURRECTION: ABC (Series premiere). Based on the novel The Returned by Jason Mott. Dead people are returning from the grave in Acadia, Missouri! Zombies? Vampires? Something completely different? Right now, something entertaining would be different enough for me!
10pm. REVENGE: ABC (Season three winter premiere). Plots! Betrayals! Backstabbing! Who’d have thought they’d ever make a TV show about Christmas dinner at my parents’ house?
TUESDAY, MARCH ELEVENTH:
10pm. CHRISLEY KNOWS BEST: USA (Series premiere). I saw the promo for this for the first time last night (as of this writing) during White Collar and have no real idea of what to expect. It looks like a reality show parody, which, considering most reality shows, just seems redundant.
MIND GAMES: ABC (Series premiere).
WEDNESDAY, MARCH NINETEENTH:
9pm. THE 100: CW (Series premiere). OK, so Earth is ruined and the remnants of humanity are living in orbit on a satellite, where they are running out of room and resources. To ascertain whether Earth has become habitable again, they send one hundred juvenile delinquents, criminals and other undesirables to check it out. Because…that makes sense.
FRIDAY, MARCH TWENTY-FIRST:
8pm. WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY?: CW (Season ten premiere). Everyone’s favorite improv show comes back on a new network! Wayne Brady is back, bitches!
9pm. HART OF DIXIE: CW (Season three winter premiere). Think of this as a modern day Gone With the Wind. It’s not, but it might help if you think of it that way.
SUNDAY, MARCH THIRTIETH:
8pm. CALL THE MIDWIFE: PBS (Season three premiere).
9pm. MR. SELFRIDGE: PBS (Season two premiere).
MONDAY, MARCH THIRTY-FIRST:
9pm. FRIENDS WITH BETTER LIVES: CBS (Series premiere-Special time before moving to 8:30pm on April 7).
APRIL. SPRING HAS SPRUNG, FALL HAS FELL, GAME OF THRONES RETURNS AND ORPHAN BLACK AS WELL.
TUESDAY, APRIL FIRST:
9pm. THE MINDY PROJECT: FOX (Season two spring premiere). Mindy Kalling returns with more romantically-inspired hi-jinks. A second new episode follows at 9:30 in its regular timeslot.
10:30pm. INSIDE AMY SCHUMER: COMEDY CENTRAL (Season two premiere).
SUNDAY, APRIL SIXTH:
8pm. THE 49TH ANNUAL ACADEMY OF COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS: CBS (One night special event).
9pm. GAME OF THRONES: HBO (Season four premiere). More blood, sex and madness as the biggest cast on television returns to finish out the third book, A Storm of Swords.
SUNDAY, APRIL THIRTEENTH:
9pm. 2014 MTV Movie Awards: MTV (One night special event). If the Oscars are for the Industry, the SAG Awards are for the performers and the People’s Choice Awards are for the fans, these awards are for the folks with too much time on their hands.
SATURDAY, APRIL NINETEENTH:
9pm. ORPHAN BLACK: BBCA (Season two premiere). The Clone Club returns with more clones and hopefully, more of my favorite couple, Felix and Allison! Hey, what happens when Critics’ Choice winner (and Golden Globe nominated) star Tatiana Maslany wants a separate paycheck for each character she plays?
And that’s about all the premieres I could find, kiddies! At least, all the premieres I could find that I cared about, anyway. And now, in case my massive Christmas Eve info dump wasn’t enough, here’s some last minute TV news from Tinsel Town:
AND THAT’S ONE. The first of the new midseason series has fallen. According to a story in Variety, ABC has announced that its new winter limited series, The Assets, has been pulled after only two episodes. The program, which stars Paul Rhys, centers on 1980s CIA Cold War culture, and is produced by Morgan Hertzan, Rudy Bednar and Andrew Chapman. “Assets” is based on the book “Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed” by vet CIA officers Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille. ABC has said that it will air re-runs of Shark Tank in the 10pm slot for the foreseeable future. [Ed. Note: The ranger show starring Cylon 6 is toast(ered) too.]
THE BEGINNING OF THE END. According to AMC in an announcement made this week at the Winter TCA gathering, Mad Men is set to kick off its seventh and final season on Sunday, April 13 at 10 p.m., Of course, there should be an asterisk next to that whole final season thing as, following Breaking Bad’s lead, Mad Men’s swan song will be expanded and divided into two parts, with the first half kicking off in April with a seven episode run, before returning for the final seven episodes in spring 2015.
In other big news from the AMC panel: the tentative premiere date of Better Call Saul, the highly anticipated and buzzed about Breaking Bad spinoff.
The prequel, which stars Bob Odenkirk as the morally questionable fan favorite attorney Saul Goodman and will be executive produced by Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and writer/producer Peter Gould, is eyeing a November premiere.
And lastly, in other AMC news, Talking Dead, The Walking Dead’s popular after-show hosted by Chris Hardwick, was renewed for a fifth season, which will follow the zombie hit when it returns for its fifth season in October. (Season four is set to return on Sunday, Feb. 9.) And the network’s new Revolutionary War drama Turn will debut on Sunday, April 6 at 9 p.m., while Hell on Wheels will return for its fourth season in the summer.
AND JUST LIKE BUFFALO CHIPS, THEY’LL HIT THE TRAIL. In the wake of the untimely death of novelist Elmore Leonard (the creator of books the show is based on) in 2013, FX has announced plans to bring the hit series Justified to an end at the end of, not the current fifth season, but next year’s sixth. “We like having shows that rate really well, and there’s an instinct that you want it to go on forever. But it doesn’t,” FX programming president Nick Grad explained at the Justified premiere party. “Another metric that’s important to us [beyond ratings] is, ‘What shows are going to be talked about in the next 20 years?’ If you’re making a great, 80-hour movie, it has to have a beginning, middle and end.” I can agree with you in spirit, Nick, but I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to Timothy Oliphant’s laconic portrayal of US Marshall Raylan Givens. Maybe in a year, now that you’ve warned me; but maybe not.
BECAUSE CHILDBIRTH JUST ISN’T FRIGHTENING ENOUGH! We may be losing Timothy Olyphant on our TV’s but we’re gaining Zoe Saldana! Which may not be an even trade, but it’s a good one. The Star Trek/Avatar actress has just signed on to the small screen remake of Rosemary’s Baby. The four hour NBC mini-series, based on Roman Polanski’s 1968 film, which was in turn based on Ira Levin’s 1967 novel, will star Saldana as the titular Rosemary, the role originally played by Mia Farrow in a star-making turn. Plans for the remake were announce by the Peacock back in July at the Television Critics’ Association meeting. Also up for a remake, Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers, an ambitious book that was turned into a lackluster mini-series back in the eighties with Jimmy Smits and Marg Helgenberg. Also in the works is a sequel to The Bible (now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d utter), last year’s hit Mark Burnett mini, called AD: Beyond the Bible, that will bring the story up to including the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock. Happy Thanksgiving??
EVERY ONE KNOWS ITS WENDY! In the wake of the on-screen deaths of Maggie Siff’s Tara and Ron Perlman’s Clay, Drea de Matteo, who plays Wendy Case, the ex-wife of Samcro prez Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam), has been upped to series regular for the show’s seventh and final season. The Emmy Award-winning actress (The Sopranos) will step in to try to fill the void left behind with the loss of Jax’s wife Tara, who was murdered by his mother, Gemma (Katey Sagal) in the season finale. “I wanted to remove [Jax's] ‘True North,’ because I feel like there needs to be this major psychic and emotional shift that has to happen. What direction it will push him in we will see next season,” creator Kurt Sutter said. “But what happens to a guy like that now that he’s lost both of the people he loves the most, who were able to be his moral compass, with Opie and now Tara. It really is Jax completely untethered and on his own in the final season.” De Matteo’s promotion was first reported by TV Line.
LIVE FROM NEW YORK…In a story that sounds more like the set-up to an SNL skit that it does an actual behind the scenes story of the show, Saturday Night Live executive producer Lorne Michaels this week announced the addition of Sasheer Zamata to the cast, making the actress the first African-American woman added to the cast since the departure of Maya Rudolph in 2007. Michaels, who has been under fire for the show’s lack of diversity since hiring six new cast members (all white) at the beginning of the current season says that it’s “100 per cent good for the show to have an African-American woman as part of the cast.” Zamata is a veteran of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in drama. Zamata’s other credits include the Cooking Channel webseries Fodder, Cooking Channel’s Back in Time for Thanksgiving special, Inside Amy Schumer on Comedy Central and Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.
In a further effort to climb back on the diversity train, SNL has also announced the hiring of two female African-American writers for the show, LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Tookes and Jones were discovered during SNL’s recent auditions and will join the writers on Monday. SNL held auditions in Los Angeles and New York for new talent in December.
Jones has had roles on Sullivan and Son and The League, and appeared on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam. Tookes is a former newscaster. All three ladies make their debuts on the show in the episode airing Saturday, January 18.
HBO TO GO “UNDER” THE BOARDWALK. The end of the Boardwalk Empire is approaching. HBO announced at its TCA session in Pasadena recently that Boardwalk Empire, starring Steve Buscemi will come to a close at the end of its fifth season, which is slated to debut this fall.
“It has been an incredibly honor to bring this powerful and groundbreaking series to our subscribers,” said HBO programming prez Michael Lombardo. “Terry Winter has created one for the ages.”
Speaking of Boardwalk creator (and Sopranos alum) Winter, “We’re thrilled to get the go-ahead for a fifth season of Boardwalk Empire,” he said. “After much discussion with my creative team and HBO, we’ve decided to wrap up the series after such a great run and look forward to bringing it to a powerful and exciting conclusion.”
IT’S A GIRLS’ LIFE. Speaking of HBO, the premium net has announced that it has ordered a fourth season of the Lena Dunham comedy, Girls, which will begin filming in 2015.
The third season of Girls premieres January 12, which is the same night that the show and Dunham are respectively up for Golden Globes for television comedy and actress in a comedy, categories they won last year.
DOCTOR WHO SEASON EIGHT STAYS WHOLE-NO REGENERATION REQUIRED. According to Doctor Who Magazine, quoting a story first reported on the Digital Spy website, Doctor Who executive producer and showrunner Steven Moffat has confirmed there will be no season-eight split for the upcoming series.
“We’re not going to do splits [in series eight], and the same format will repeat exactly the following year like that—so it will be the traditional form,” Moffat said. The BBC has yet to confirm the announcement, but why would the Moff say it if it weren’t true? This means that both seasons eight and nine will run without interruption, which should be good news to the legion of fans for the show, which just celebrated its fiftieth anniversary and just ushered in a new Doctor, Peter Capaldi.
Doctor Who is currently in production in Cardiff through August 2014.
THE GAME’S AFOOT! In other awesome Moffat/British TV news, the writer and cocreator of Sherlock said he and cocreator Mark Gatiss have plotted out seasons four and five of the Benedict Cumberbatch-Martin Freeman series, which means a statement of Cumberbatch’s reported earlier this year about having signed on through season five, must have been accurate after all. This means that after the current season (which is scheduled to begin airing in the US on PBS Sunday, January 19th), we’ll have at least two more seasons of Sherlock to look forward to. Cheerio!
STAN LEE JOINS S.H.I.E.L.D-WORLD OFFICIALLY DECLARED SAVED. According to The Hollywood Reporter, after months of speculation and anticipation, comic book writer, editor, publisher and action-hero enthusiast Stan Lee will be making a very special television appearance on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Currently, Lee’s appearance on the hit ABC action drama is scheduled for some time in February. Although the details are being kept tightly under wraps, Marvel Comic’s former chairman says it will be a “big role.” Lee is certainly no stranger to the Marvel film universe, having had cameos in many of its big screen incarnations, from X-Men to Spider-Man to The Avengers, as well as an appearance in Kevin Smith’s Mallrats. [Ed. Note: At Friday's (1/17) Winter TCA, ABC also announced that Lady Sif - the often magnificently inappropriately attired Jamie Alexander (pictured) - is also coming to TV's S.H.I.E.L.D.!!]
And that should wrap it up for this installment, TV addicts! With any luck, I’ll be back with a preview of Sherlock’s season three right before its stateside debut on January 19th. Take care!
As someone in a Dickens’ novel once said, “God bless us, everyone!”
Happy New Year 2014!!
The Holidays Are Almost Over, & It’s Time for All Your Favorite TV Shows to Return! And Really, Isn’t That The Greatest Gift of All?!
HAPPY NEW YEAR, PART ONE!!
Merry Christmakwanzaachanukasolstice, everyone! And Happy New Year, too. Now that we’ve all had a chance to roll about in wild abandon beneath the tree (or menorah, or whatever) and celebrate and/or bemoan the arrival of gifts, fruit cakes or thoughts that don’t count nearly as much as you thought they would, the expert technicians at popGeezer Laboratories have been busy putting together our own list for the holiday season and whether you’ve been naughty or nice (or just been treated nice for being oh, so naughty, Mrs. Robinson), we’ve got the list of returning TV shows, midseason premieres and a few special events to make 2014 come in like a lion. This list doesn’t include everything; it excludes all sporting events, Very Special Episodes (well, most of them) and many, many shows on many, many cable nets I just don’t care about, but we’ll try to have something for everyone, OK? Here we go:
Oh, by the way, all times listed are EASTERN and the bulk of this info comes from Futon Critic, aided and abetted and sometimes contradicted by E! News, TV Line, TV Guide and others.
JANUARY: The biggest month of returns and premieres and oh-so-gooey TV goodness!
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY FIRST:
8pm. DANCE MOMS: (Two Hour Special.) Lifetime. Yes, I’m starting with Lifetime! You wanna give me grief about it? I can’t tell if this is a new episode or a special one (yes, the kind I said I wasn’t going to mention), but if you’re jonesin’ for a look at out-of-control stage parents who ought to be boiled in their own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through their hearts, this is the show for you!
SHARK TANK. CNBC (off-net cable premiere). I don’t know if off-net premiere means that they’re re-running old ABC eps (probably) or if these are shows produced exclusively for CNBC, but here you are.
9pm. DANCE MOMS: Lifetime (Season Four premiere). More psychotic parenting from the net who first coined the phrase, Women in Jeopardy!
10pm. KIM OF QUEENS: Lifetime (Series Premiere). I have no idea. I’m just trying to be fair, you know?
10:30pm KIRSTIE: TV Land (Winter return). Kirstie Alley’s back on TV! And she’s eating it! Yay!!
THURSDAY, JANUARY SECOND:
COMMUNITY: NBC (Season Five Premiere). Joel McHale and the Little Show That Could returns! With original EP Dan Harmon! Mmmmm, education never tasted this good.
THE TASTE: ABC (Two Hour Season Two Premiere). Hmm, a show called The Taste, for people who have none. Go figure.
8:30pm COMMUNITY: NBC (Second bonus ep). As much as I love me some Community, it’s not a good sign when the net starts clumping eps this early. Is it?
THE MILLERS: CBS: (Season One Winter Premiere). C’mon CBS! You can do so much better than this!
9pm SEAN SAVES THE WORLD: NBC (Season One Winter Premiere). I love me some Megan Hilty and I know she just got married and all, but this show is awful!
THE CRAZY ONES: CBS (Season One Winter Premiere). I like this show. I watch this show (and considering how I feel about sitcoms, you know what an endorsement that is), but sometimes it’s really hard watching the rest of the cast, especially poor Sarah Michelle Gellar, trying to keep up with Robin Williams, the most agile comedy mind TV has seen since Jonathan Winters.
9:30pm THE MICHAEL J FOX SHOW: NBC (Season One Winter Premiere). I had such high hopes for this show! Unfortunately, none of them panned out. Sorry, MJ.
TWO AND A HALF MEN: CBS (Season Eleven Winter Premiere). I can’t say I disagree with CBS about dumping Charlie Sheen when they did, especially since it looks like he’s about to meltdown again, but Ashton Kutcher? Charlie’s heretofore unknown lesbian daughter as the “half man?” Jon Cryer’s just in it for the paycheck now, isn’t he?
10pm THE ASSETS: ABC (Series Premiere). I have no idea what this is or what it’s about, but hey, it’s on ABC!
PARENTHOOD: NBC (Season Five Winter Premiere). The critical darling returns for its fifth brush with cancellation.
STEVEN SEGAL LAWMAN: REELZ (Season Three Premiere). Hey, Segal’s got bills to pay too, you know! I’m sure none of them are for acting lessons, but still…
RIDICULOUSNESS: MTV (Season Four Premiere). I include this one for my Drama students. They love this show.
FRIDAY, JANUARY THIRD:
9pm GRIMM: NBC (Season Three Winter Premiere). Don’t worry if you missed anything in the fall; I’m sure whatever was happening to Nick in episode one is still happening to him now! These guys have a problem with closure.
10pm DRACULA: NBC (Season One Winter Premiere). The most insane show on broadcast TV returns!
SATURDAY, JANUARY FOURTH:
11:30pm THE FOLLOWING: FOX (Season One recap). Get caught up so you can keep up as FOX makes fools out of Kevin Bacon and the FBI for another season of fun!
SUNDAY, JANUARY FIFTH:
7pm AMERICA’S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS: ABC (Season TWENTY-FOUR Winter Premiere). For almost a quarter of a century, scientific proof that $#!+ always floats to the top. At least on Sundays.
8pm THE BACHELOR: COUNTDOWN TO JUAN PABLO: NBC (One hour special). A totally unnecessary build-up to the totally unnecessary premiere of a totally unnecessary show!
THE SIMPSONS: FOX (Season TWENTY-FIVE Winter Premiere). Because being one year older than AFHV has to mean something!
8:30pm BOB’S BURGERS: FOX (Season Four Winter Premiere).
FAMILY GUY: FOX (Season Twelve Winter Premiere). Seth MacFarlane shakes up those eight jokes he knows one more time and figures out a way to tell them yet again.
THE GOOD WIFE: CBS (Season Five Winter Premiere). Julianna Marguiles returns for more legal fun in a show I just don’t get.
REVENGE: ABC (Season Three Winter Premiere).
9:30pm AMERICAN DAD: FOX (Season Ninth Winter Premiere). Seth MacFarlane hauls out the same eight jokes with a (slightly) different family.
10pm THE MENTALIST: CBS (Season Six Winter Premiere). Red John is dead, half the cast has gone and in the wings, the Fat Lady is preparing to sing.
BETRAYAL: ABC (Season One Winter Premiere). Oh, come on! This show is still on??
MONDAY, JANUARY SIXTH:
8pm ALMOST HUMAN: FOX (Season One Winter Premiere). I’m loving this show, but it’s time for FOX to start airing the eps in order and for Abrams, Wyman and company to kick in the mythology!
THE BACHELOR: ABC (Season Eighteen Premiere). The moment you’ve been waiting for has arrived, America!! Somebody wake me when it’s over.
9pm HOSTAGES: CBS (Season One Winter Premiere). Tell me again, why is this show still on? Does Dylan McDermott have pictures of CBS prez Leslie Moonves in a compromising position or something?
10pm CASTLE: ABC (Season Six Winter Premiere). It’s struggling to stay fresh, but I still love this show, primarily because of the chemistry between Captain Tight Pants himself, Nathan Fillion and the luminous Stana Katic. Turn it up!
TEEN WOLF: MTV (Season Three Winter Premiere). Considering the movie it’s based on, this show should be a joke. But the real joke is on anybody who isn’t watching. This is without a doubt the best thing on MTV since early Madonna videos.
11pm WOLF WATCH: MTV (Season Three Winter Premiere). Because now that we’ve watched Teen Wolf, we have to talk about it, right? Not as engaging as The Talking Dead, but still worth a minute or two of your time for the occasional spoiler.
TUESDAY, JANUARY SEVENTH:
8pm DADS: FOX (Season One Winter Premiere). A talented cast continues to trash their careers in this awful, awful show.
NCIS: CBS (Season Eleven Winter Premiere). The number one scripted show on television returns to make it look easy once again.
BROOKLYN NINE-NINE: FOX (Season One Winter Premiere). Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher are back! Because, hey…where else would they go?
PRETTY LITTLE LIARS: ABC FAMILY (Season Four Winter Premiere). Lies! Murder! Cover-ups! How is this show on a “family” channel again?
9pm INTELLIGENCE: CBS (Series Premiere-special night and time). Josh Holloway and Marg Helgenberg star in a show I’m still excited about, even though so many critics aren’t. We’ll see.
THE GOLDBERGS: ABC (Season One Winter Premiere). The surprise hit returns! I bet George Segal is glad he gave the Dads script as pass now, isn’t he?
NEW GIRL: FOX (Season Three Winter Premiere). Zoey Deschanel returns as the quirkiest gal on TV since Marlo Thomas in That Girl.
RAVENSWOOD: ABC FAMILY (Season One Winter Premiere). A supernatural spin-off of PLL, it begs the same question: how is this a “family” show again?
9:30pm TROPHY WIFE: ABC (Season One Winter Premiere). The other surprise hit returns! A hit show and you get to make out with Malin Akerman! Good on you, Bradley Whitford. Good on you.
THE MINDY PROJECT: FOX (Season Two Winter Premiere). This is the show that E! News calls the best sitcom on TV! So…I guess, watch it?
10pm CHICAGO FIRE: NBC (Season Two Winter Premiere). Ripped from the pages of your favorite calendar, the sexy firemen of the Windy City return!
PERSON OF INTEREST: CBS (Season Three Winter Premiere). The best show on broadcast TV returns and I’m still not over the death of Detective Carter. All hail the Machine!
JUSTIFIED: FX (Season Five Premiere). We may have lost author Elmore Leonard earlier this year, but thank god we haven’t lost this great show, featuring one of his most iconic characters. Timothy Olyphant returns as quick-shootin’ US Marshall Raylan Givens and the phenomenal Walton Groggins is back as everyone’s favorite backwoods psychopath Boyd Crowder in a show that’s as sweet as Kentucky moonshine!
COUGAR TOWN: TBS (Season Five Premiere). Courtney Cox and her cul de sac full of crazies open their second season on a new net, proving that maybe it was all ABC’s fault, after all.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY EIGHTH.
8pm THE MIDDLE: ABC (Season Five Winter Premiere). I don’t watch this show. It’s the wife from Everybody Loves Raymond and the guy who played the Janitor on Scrubs, right? Huh. Who’d’a figured that would work?
8:30pm SUPER FUN NIGHT: ABC (Season One Winter Premiere). Really? ABC hasn’t decided to drop-kick this one yet? What in the world are they waiting for? (Another new ep runs at 9:30pm in the show’s regular timeslot)
9pm THE 40TH ANNUAL PEOPLES’ CHOICE AWARDS: CBS (One night two hour special event). This is the awards show that gets voted on by fans, so expect to see a lot more celebrities and a lot fewer actually talented people hit the stage.
LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT: NBC (Season Fifteen Winter Premiere). Benson goes head to head with her rapist from the fall and Stabler still doesn’t come back to make this show good again.
MODERN FAMILY: ABC (Season Five Winter Premiere). TV’s craziest blended family returns with more hijinks. Ed O’Neil’s character is still inexplicably married to Sofia Vergara, South America’s answer to spontaneous combustion and Julie Bowen is still one of the cutest and funniest women on the tube.
PSYCH: USA (Season Eight Premiere). Isn’t this show running on CBS and called The Mentalist? Or is it the other way around? Either way, Richard Roday and Dule’ Hill are much more fun to watch than Red John.
THE REAL WORLD: MTV (Season Twenty-nine Premiere). One of TV’s original reality shows returns. Again. Just like my Uncle Henry, it doesn’t know how to go away after the holidays either.
10pm CHICAGO PD: NBC (Series Premiere). The guys who brought you sexy Chicago firemen, now bring you sexy Chicago cops. Just what we needed. Another cop show.
THURSDAY, JANUARY NINTH:
8:30pm PARKS AND RECREATION: NBC (Season Six Winter Premiere). And we kick things off with the 100th episode! Which are exactly one hundred episodes more of this show than I’ve actually seen. Go figure.
9pm WHITE COLLAR: USA (Season Five Winter Premiere). I keep waiting for this show to run out of gas, but it just doesn’t happen. A great cast and great writing make this show so much more fun that it ought to be. I still miss Hilarie Burton’s Sara, but Bridget Regan’s Rebecca is slowly taking the pain away.
FRIDAY, JANUARY TENTH:
8pm BONES: FOX (Season Nine Winter Premiere). I have been a big supporter of this show, but it is seriously losing steam. I won’t blame them if they want to do a tenth season to lock in a solid decade, but I will blame them if the writing doesn’t get better than it has been.
LAST MAN STANDING: ABC (Season Three Winter Premiere). Tim Allen returns in a distaff version of Home Improvement that has to be the least talked-about show on television.
UNDERCOVER BOSS: CBS (Season Five Winter Premiere).
8:30pm NEIGHBORS: ABC (Season Two Winter Premiere). All I can figure is that this show is kept on the air as part of our non-aggression treaty with the planet Rigel Seven.
9pm HAWAII FIVE-OH: CBS (Season Four Winter Premiere). The only reason to watch this show is Scott Caan as Dano. The. Only. Reason. The rest of it is just more of the kind of safe, white-bread, flag-waving, red, white and blue programming that CBS has gotten so comfortable with lately. And bring back Grace Park!!
RAISING HOPE: FOX (Season Four Winter Premiere).
SHARK TANK: ABC (Season Five Winter Premiere). Does this mean that these eps will end up on CNBC too?
9:30pm ENLISTED: FOX (Series Premiere). The worst new show of the season finally debuts to prove it!
10pm BANSHEE: CINEMAX (Season Two Premiere). If you missed the first season of this new crime show from True Blood’s Alan Ball, then you missed out on a wild ride! I’m still not sure about Anthony Starr as anti-hero Lucas Hood, but there’s a whole mess of really beautiful women taking their clothes off on a regular basis on this show (i.e. Lili Simmons, pictured) and where else are you going to go to see Amish gangsters?
BLUE BLOODS: CBS (Season Four Winter Premiere). I used to say I’d watch Tom Selleck read the phone book, but I’m no longer sure that’s true. This is a great show, but I lost my fire for it back at the end of season two and not even Bridget Moynahan and get it back for me. Sigh.
HELIX: SYFY (Series Premiere). Ronald D. Moore of BSG-fame returns to SYFY for this The Thing-esque show about a CDC team investigating an outbreak at the North Pole. Billy Campbell and the excellent Hiroyuki Sanada (The Wolverine, 47 Ronin) star.
11pm LUCAS BROS. MOVING COMPANY: FOX (Series Premiere). You got me. I have no idea.
11:15pm GOLAN THE INSATIABLE: FOX (Series Premiere). This one either. [Ed note: FOX just ran both this past Sunday, following a rerun of Family Guy. Lucas Bros. is a bit too "Adult Swim" after midnight for my tastes, but Golan - about a demi-god from another dimension stuck in suburbia - has real twisted potential.]
SUNDAY, JANUARY TWELFTH:
8pm THE 71ST ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS: NBC (One night three hour special event). It’s the night the HFPA tries to both predict the Oscars and show just how unique and original they are! Can you do both? Signs point to “not well.”
9pm SHAMELESS: SHOWTIME (Season Four Premiere). William H. Macy returns to lead a Master Class in Acting and prove why he is one of the most under-rated talents in Hollywood today. [Ed. Note: Emmy Rossum. Case closed.]
TRUE DETECTIVE: HBO (Series Premiere). Matthew McConaughey in his first series ever and Woody Harrelson in his first since Cheers star as two Louisiana cops in this much-anticipated limited series.
10pm GIRLS: HBO (Season Three Premiere). Lena Dunham and her gal pals return in this polarizing show about becoming a woman in the 21st Century. Or something like that. All is know is that there’s a lot of swear words and marijuana and boobies.
HOUSE OF LIES: SHOWTIME (Season Three Premiere). Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell return with more sharp-tongued tomfoolery about working for a big-time PR firm.
SHERLOCK: UNLOCKING SHERLOCK: PBS (One hour preview special). A last chance who’s who and what’s what before the best show on television returns next week.
10:30pm EPISODES: SHOWTIME (Season Three Premiere). Matt LeBlanc plays a twisted version of himself in the third season of a sitcom about being in a sitcom.
MONDAY, JANUARY THIRTEENTH:
8pm AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR: NBC (Two hour special). It’s the USA vs. Japan! Winner gets Godzilla and all the sushi they can eat!
HART OF DIXIE: CW (Season Three Winter Premiere). Rachel Bilson is back! And while I would rather it be on a different show on a different network, how can that be a bad thing?
LOST GIRL: SYFY (Season Four Premiere). Well, as much as anything can be a premiere when it’s already run in another country.
SWITCHED AT BIRTH: ABC FAMILY (Season Three Premiere).
8:30pm TWO BROKE GIRLS: CBS (Season Three Winter Premiere). Whitney Cummings’ one decent show continues to tie Kat Denning down and keep her from pursuing a movie career beyond the Thor franchise.
9pm BEAUTY & THE BEAST: CW (Season Two Winter Premiere). Enjoy this show while you still can kids! It’s got about as much chance of getting a season three as I do winning a Pulitzer.
BEING HUMAN: SYFY (Season Four Premiere). Now that it’s the only Being Human (the original UK version ended last year), maybe we can lose the feeling of Déjà vu we had before and really veer off into some undiscovered territory for our supernatural roomies.
THE FOSTERS: ABC FAMILY (Season One Winter Premiere). What is this show about? I have no idea. The best I can come up with is that it’s about an Australian family who owns a brewery, and while I’d watch the heck out of a show like that, it can’t be right.
MIKE & MOLLY: CBS (Season Four Winter Premiere). If you’re a big fan of Melissa McCarthy’s movies, you’re not gonna find a lot of that edgy comedy here. Watch my friend Katy Mixon (pictured) as Molly’s wacky sister…otherwise, I got nothin’.
SLEEPY HOLLOW: FOX (Season One Winter Premiere). It’s baaack! Next to NBC’s Dracula, this one wins the prize as the most jumped-up and insane show on television. Unlike Dracula, people actually watch this one. In droves. Fans of the original short story will be woefully disappointed, but the real reason to stay is the crazy chemistry between Ichabod (Tom Mison) and Abbie (Nicole Beharie).
9:30pm MOM: CBS (Season One Winter Premiere). Gobs of talent on display here as Allison Janney and Ana Faris put the “fun” back in dysfunctional.
10pm ARCHER: FX (Season Five Premiere). It’s not for everybody, but if you can get into it, this decidedly adult toon is sharp as a tack and wickedly funny. Sterling Archer may not be James Bond, but he is The Duchess.
BITTEN: SYFY (Series Premiere). Remember how for a while, zombies were the new vampires? Well, thanks to Teen Wolf and others, Werewolves are the new zombies! The lovely Laura Vandervoort of Smallville and V returns to genre telly with a werewolf series based on Kelly Armstrong’s Women of Otherworld books.
THE BLACKLIST: NBC (Season One Winter Premiere). TV’s wildest ride returns with James Spader and Megan Boone as they chase the bad guys and try to figure out who’s pulling their strings. Is Spader’s Raymond Reddington really Lizzie’s dad? His mouth says no, but is his heart saying yes? I can’t wait to find out!
INTELLIGENCE: CBS (Regular time slot premiere). Well, if there was ever an argument to break down and invest in The Hopper for my DVR, this is it! Four shows I really want to watch, all in the same hour on the same night! Argh!
TUESDAY, JANUARY FOURTEENTH:
8pm THE ORIGINALS: CW (Season One Winter Premiere). The surprisingly good TVD spin-off returns as the New Orleans supernatural community discovers that Klaus is a far less benevolent king than Marcel ever was!
9pm NCIS: LOS ANGELES: CBS (Season FIve Winter Premiere). Like its predecessor, this show lives and dies, not on the stories, but on the personalities of its cast. Get ready, because rumor has it that NCIS: New Orleans is on deck (I wonder if they’ll be fighting Klaus’ vampires?).
SUPERNATURAL: CW (Season Nine Winter Premiere). Here’s another show that needs to shuffle off into that good night. I’m with you if you want to go out on a season ten, but it’s gotta be a damn sight better than this one has been!
FACE OFF: SYFY (Season Six Premiere). More fun with make-up and special effects.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY FIFTEENTH:
8pm AMERICAN IDOL: FOX (Season Thirteen Premiere). Can we call it Lucky 13 and say it’s the last one?
ARROW: CW (Season Two Winter Premiere). This show has improved by leaps and bounds this year and I can’t wait to see what happens when Oliver realizes Deathstroke has come to town. And may I confess my serious TV crush on Emily Brett Richards who plays Felicity? If Ollie doesn’t want her, I do!
MELISSA & JOEY: ABC FAMILY (Season Three Winter Premiere). Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence (Yo!), how can that not be a recipe for comedy gold??
8:30pm SUBURGATORY: ABC (Season Three Premiere). More fun in those beautiful ‘burbs!
9pm CRIMINAL MINDS: CBS (Season Nine Winter Premiere). Another show that’s hemorrhaging cast members as the net tries to control the ever-increasing budget. It’s still a hit, but for how long?
TOMORROW PEOPLE: CW (Season One Winter Premiere). After a strong start, this show’s glaring inconsistencies in terms of story and mythology are costing it huge numbers from week to week. If something doesn’t happen fast, there will be no tomorrow, people (did you see what I did there? God, I’m funny!).
10pm CSI: CBS (Season Fourteen Winter Premiere). Just like a great song is always open to a number of interpretations, a great TV is more than any one actor or character. Now into its third lead (Ted Danson, following Laurence Fishburn and William Petersen), the original CSI just keeps on going.
NASHVILLE: ABC (Season Two Winter Premiere). I enjoyed this show at first, but it progressively got so soapy that even the great music and all the views of the beautiful Nashville skyline weren’t enough to keep my attention. Is it OK to say I’ll wait for the album?
DUCK DYNASTY: A&E (Season Five Premiere). What a difference a month makes, huh? Already the most successful show on cable, the Ducks go into a tail spin when patriarch Phil Robertson makes racist and homophobic remarks in a GQ article. The net suspends him indefinitely, but when the public outcry becomes too negative, they recant and the Robertson clan comes out of the whole debacle looking stronger and more invincible than ever. This season was already shot before the brown fecal matter hit the large spinning air-circulation device, but I’m told that for sweeps in season six, the Robertsons will give the A&E execs their balls back.
MEN AT WORK: TBS (Season Three Premiere).
THURSDAY, JANUARY SIXTEENTH:
8pm AMERICAN IDOL: FOX (Second night time-slot premiere).
THE 19TH ANNUAL CRITICS’ CHOICE MOVIE AWARDS: CW (One night, two hour special). Critics’ choices on the CW? Isn’t that kind of like Republicans at a Gay Pride parade? Not something you see every day, is what I’m saying…
FRIDAY, JANUARY SEVENTEENTH:
8pm COLD JUSTICE: TNT (Season Two Premiere).
10pm REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER: HBO (Season Twelve Premiere). America’s favorite feistiest liberal is back!
SUNDAY, JANUARY NINETEENTH:
10pm SHERLOCK: PBS (Season Three Premiere). Three two-hour episodes, that’s all you get. And it’s still the most amazing, most well-written, most brilliantly-acted, most satisfying show on television, on either side of the Atlantic! We know Holmes survived his death last season, but how?
THE FOLLOWING: FOX (Season Two Premiere-special night and time). Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy return in one of the most addicting games of cat and mouse to be found anywhere!
10:30pm LOOKING: HBO (Series Premiere).
TUESDAY, JANUARY TWENTY-FIRST:
10pm OPPOSITE WORLDS: SYFY (Series Premiere). SYFY’s reality game show about teams competing for dominance in a variety of other-worldly locales. Reminds me of Christmas dinner at my folks’ house, actually.
TEEN MOM 2: MTV (Season Ten Premiere).
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY TWENTY-SECOND:
9pm GHOST HUNTERS: SYFY (Season Ten Premiere). Ten years and no actual evidence of a ghost. Anywhere! Kinda’ makes you think that either there are no ghosts or that these guys are pretty crappy at their jobs!
THURSDAY, JANUARY TWENTY-THIRD:
8pm THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: CW (Season Five Winter Premiere). Damon and Elena are broken up! Katherine is dying! Bonnie’s back from the dead and Caroline is having boy trouble. It’s just another Thursday in Mystic Falls!
9pm RAKE: FOX (Series Premiere). Greg Kinnear stars in one of the most interesting-sounding premises to come down the pike in quite a while.
REIGN: CW (Season One Winter Premiere). It’s Gossip Girl Meets The Tudors with a little touch of Downton Abbey. Mary Queen of Scots is back, y’all!
10pm KING OF THE NERDS: TBS (Season Two Premiere).
SATURDAY, JANUARY TWENTY-FIFTH:
9pm BLACK SAILS: STARZ (Series Premiere). I’m totally guessing here, but…Pirates?
SUNDAY, JANUARY TWENTY-SIXTH:
MONDAY, JANUARY TWENTY-SEVENTH:
9pm THE FOLLOWING: FOX (Regular time period premiere).
TUESDAY, JANUARY TWENTY-EIGHTH:
10pm THE CAPONES: REELZ (Series Premiere). A realistic look at Al and his penchant for boot-legging and murder, or a dime store knock-off of Boardwalk Empire? Anybody wanna take a guess?
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY TWENTY-NINTH:
10pm FLEMING-THE MAN WHO WOULD BE BOND: BBCA (Series Premiere). This Dramaville presentation looks at author Ian Fleming’s life as a real-life spy and how it inspired his iconic literary creation.
Whew! And that’s just January! Coming up soon I’ll have a look at the February, March and April premieres and what to expect from the Nets in the Spring with renewals and cancellations (I’m betting ABC’s Betrayal is the next to get the axe. With CBS’s Hostages right behind it. Or maybe Fox’s Enlisted will avoid the rush and just get cancelled the same night it premieres). In the meantime, enjoy your New Year celebrations, don’t forget to take a Designated Driver and remember, friends don’t let friends watch bad TV! Ciao!
Well, here’s Phil Robinson (pictured, far right), founder of Duck Commander, in the newest issue of GQ – in context:
Out here in these woods, without any cameras around, Phil is free to say what he wants. Maybe a little too free. He’s got lots of thoughts on modern immorality, and there’s no stopping them from rushing out. Like this one:
“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
Here’s the next salient section of the article:
“We’re Bible-thumpers who just happened to end up on television,” he tells me. “You put in your article that the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around.”
What does repentance entail? Well, in Robertson’s worldview, America was a country founded upon Christian values (Thou shalt not kill, etc.), and he believes that the gradual removal of Christian symbolism from public spaces has diluted those founding principles. (He and Si take turns going on about why the Ten Commandments ought to be displayed outside courthouses.) He sees the popularity of Duck Dynasty as a small corrective to all that we have lost.
“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong,” he says. “Sin becomes fine.”
What, in your mind, is sinful?
“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
A&E Networks, in response, released the following, as per Bill Carter in The New York Times:
The A&E network announced Wednesday night that it had suspended Phil Robertson, patriarch of the “Duck Dynasty” clan, in the wake of antigay statements he made in GQ magazine.
A&E said that Mr. Robertson had been put on indefinite hiatus from the show, which is by far the biggest hit on the network.
In a statement, the network said, “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series ‘Duck Dynasty.’ His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the L.G.B.T. community.”
Mr. Robertson, who travels the country preaching, graphically denounced gay sex in the magazine and called it a sin.
The announcement has no immediate effect on the series because it is not currently in production. Mr. Robertson already filmed episodes for the next season of “Duck Dynasty” and a network spokesman said he would appear in many of those.
Here are the two key things to keep in mind. Free speech doesn’t mean one’s speech is free from consequence. And, thanks to the United States Supreme Court, a corporation – such as A&E Networks – has an equal right to free speech and can be considered an individual entity. Hence, Phil can say what he wants about homosexuals, or any kind of sinner, and A&E can say – as they do employ him – “You’re fired”.
Tit for tat. Zero sum gain.
So at no point in this idiotic sequence of events has anyone’s “rights” been abridged.
I’m not going to go into some treatise about my views on Phil’s subject matter. As a no-nonsense, hyper-conservative Christian fundamentalist, he is stating what he believes. In the larger context of the entire article, the only thing that springs to my mind, “How/Why the Hell did Phil decide to hold forth on this subject?” Most fascinating to me is what this does about my perception that the entire Duck Dynasty phenomenon was an entire construct, and that these people were about as authentically redneck as the Clampetts. (They were fictional, remember?) As a result of this, I believe I have to offer A&E my apology.
So, I’m here neither to bury or to praise Phil Robertson. Or A&E, even though they put this crap on TV in the first place. (OK, maybe I’m burying A&E just a little….)
CADILLAC’S GOT A BRAND NEW BAG! Just What You Always Wanted! A Massive Info Dump Of TV Goodness, Just In Time For Christmas! [Spoiler Alert]
Well, we should all be used to it by now, shouldn’t we? Every fall the new season begins, but I get so caught up so much in my mundane nine-to-five job, getting the school year started and the education process into high gear, that despite the fact that I’m watching loads of TV, I don’t have time to write about any of it. As a result, I wind up collecting, along with my thoughts and opinions about all the new shows and returning old shows, all sorts of news about TV Town and how your favorite shows and actors are doing. This fall, in fact, I got so backed-up (and in my defense, I was also working on a new three hour holiday radio special for popGeezer Radio), that all I have room for today is the news; the stuff I would normally included below the fold in the “this and that” section of my column. There’s lots of stuff to talk about; some of it quite new and some of it sort of’ dated, but we’ll start with the new stuff and work our way back as best we can. Who knows? Maybe you’ll learn something.
There are definitely SPOILERS to come.
BEST SEASON FINALE EVER? If you’re a fan of FX’s epic biker saga, Sons of Anarchy, then you know that the show just ended its penultimate sixth season with the most shocking and jaw-dropping finale since Kristen Shepherd shot J. R. Ewing on Dallas. At the end of a long, meandering story-line (that I confess I wasn’t always a fan of), that saw long-suffering “ol’ lady” Tara Knowles (Maggie Siff) lay the groundwork for a deal with the Devil (or in this case an ambitious D.A. played by the incomparable CCH Pounder), in which she betrayed husband Jax (Charlie Hunnam) and the club by offering to turn state’s evidence in exchange for a dismissal of the charges against her and a witness protection deal, we see Jax track Tara down, not to kill her (as Tara and so many viewers believed), but to reconcile with her and to offer himself up to the D.A. in her place. After hearing that Jax was going to be arrested (but not hearing the reasons for it), his mother Gemma (the phenomenal Katey Sagal), already in a drug and alcohol-fueled rage over her break-up with an increasingly compromised Nero (Jimmy Smits), storms over to Jax and Tara’s house where she surprises a now-happy Tara and (after failing to drown her in the kitchen sink), kills her by stabbing her repeatedly in the head with a large kitchen fork. Attracted by the noise, Juice (Theo Rossi) and Sheriff Eli (Rockmond Dunbar) burst in and see what’s happened and to keep Gemma from being arrested, Juice shoots Eli twice in the back and gets her the hell outta there. Damn. Later, Jax gets home and discovers the bodies and collapses with Tara in his arms, just as the D.A. gets there to take him in on the earlier-agreed on charges. Oops. Even though there are numerous obvious ways to prove Jax didn’t kill anybody, you can bet he’ll spend the first ep or two next season beating a double murder charge. All this comes at the end of a season that has already seen the deaths of Otto (series creator Kurt Sutter) and Clay (the national treasure that is Ron Perlman) and a score of other Irish Kings, Niners, Mayans, Chinese Mafia and other scofflaws and ne’er do wells. Sons of Anarchy returns for its final season in September of 2014.
SPEAKING OF SAMCRO. I swear this whole column is not about Sons of Anarchy (though it certainly could be), but on the heels of this latest bloodbath, show creator Kurt Sutter (pictured) has announced that while the seventh season of Sons will be its last, it won’t definitely be the end of the MC. According to stories in both People and E!Online, Sutter is in talks to create a prequel to SoA, that one assumes would chronicle the early days of the club and the romantic triangle between Gemma, Clay and Jax’s father John as well as how the club got into the gun trade and just how exactly John got killed. “I’ve had discussions with the network about it,” Sutter told People at the Sons of Sandy Relief charity event in Asbury, New Jersey. “I think there’s something really interesting about the origins of the club. And to do a period piece set in the 60’s post-Vietnam could be kind of cool. I don’t think we would dovetail and start in on it right after the series ended, but it’s something I’m potentially excited about.” Work on the new show wouldn’t begin until after the current series ends “in a pool of blood,” but given the admittedly Shakespearean origins of SoA and the John/Gemma/Clay/Jax relationship, I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.
LORD OF THE GAMES OF THE THRONE OF THE RING. We didn’t even know they were looking, but it appears that MTV has found their Game of Thrones. Word has been announced via Deadline that Iron Man director Jon Favreau (pictured) is putting together an ambitious epic fantasy series for the cable net based on Terry Brooks’ massive opus, The Sword of Shannara. Now, I know what you’re thinking; the Shannara books have come under fire over the last ten to fifteen years or so as being too lightweight, too much a copy of things that have gone before it to really be taken seriously as a fantasy series. Well, hold on to your wish stones, campers, because I beg to disagree.
I discovered Tolkien in the early seventies, having been turned onto The Fellowship of the Ring by a truly obnoxious girl in my high school Journalism class (in the same class was also future novelist Mark Childress, which has nothing to do with the story, I’m just name-dropping) and once I finished them (devoured them is more like it), I found the Narnia books and read them as well. After that, in a world before internet, before malls and big chain book stores that carry everything and for-god-sake living in Mississippi, there was not much left in the epic fantasy department to read. So I re-read Tolkien and Lewis with a side order of Madeline L’Engle and waited. And waited, until low and behold, my freshman year of college, I discovered Terry Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara, resplendent in its Hildebrant-painted dust jacket and equally beautiful fold-out poster (I still have my tattered first edition copy with the jacket and poster to this day), just sitting there, waiting me to pick it up and become transported. Was I disappointed that Shea and Flick were just bargain-basement copies of Frodo and Sam? That Allanon was a dime store Gandalf in black instead of gray and that and that Sauron could have kicked the Warlock Lord’s @$$ with both a ring wraith and a Skull Bearer tied behind his back? Of course I was, but not much, because regardless of the similarities (and admittedly there are a million of them), it was still new fantasy and I was hooked.
Besides, once the first book was done and Brooks (pictured) got it all out of his system, the Shannara books became quite original all on their own and now, having revealed that world to be the future of this one after a horrifying nuclear war in which the world of science collapsed and the world of magic replaced it, they are really no more like LoTR than any other fantasy series. Do I think Shannara has the weight of Tolkien or Martin’s work? No, but I think it fits quite nicely next to Narnia and I also think, if done right (much more like Hercules/Xena and much less like The Legend of the Seeker), it could be a wonderful series. I’m not altogether sure it’s a fit for MTV, but I’m old enough to remember when MTV stood for Music Television and they played videos, so maybe I don’t quite know what their mission statement is these days. As I said, the show will be produced by Favreau and written by Smallville creators Al Gough and Miles Millar and I think they can pull it off. If you’d like a suggestion guys, push the first book aside with all its Tolkien-esque tomfoolery and start with Book Two in the series, The Elfstones of Shannara and Wil Ohmsford as your hero. That way the LotR comparisons can be largely dismissed and you can get right to the truly original parts of The Four Lands and the story Brooks has been telling for over thirty years. I’m looking forward to it.
I’LL BE BACK! AGAIN. From our “does the world really need another one of these” file, we have the announcement that two of the writers of the much-loved but barely-watched FOX series, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, are working on a plan to bring Skynet back to the small screen. The question is, given the fact that TSCC didn’t really go the distance in terms of longevity and that the big screen incarnation of The Terminator franchise is being re-booted and reconfigured yet again after the lackluster performance of Terminator: Salvation, why?
The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Zack Stentz and Ashley Miller (Thor, X-Men First Class) of TSCC, are working on bringing the Terminator franchise back to the television. The writers have been tasked with writing and executive producing the new series that is being labeled as a “companion piece to the rebooted trilogy.” According to The Reporter, here’s the scoop: ”The TV series will follow a critical moment from the first Terminator film (1984), and where the film’s story goes one way, the upcoming series will take the same moment in a completely different direction. As the rebooted film trilogy and the new TV series progress, the two narratives will intersect with each other in surprising and dramatic ways.”
What this means is that the new show has to stick a lot more to canon than TSCC ever did, hewing more faithfully to the roles Sarah and baby-daddy Kyle Reese play in the classic story as opposed to the variations put forth by TSCC, up to and including the introduction of a new Terminator protector such as the one played by Summer Glau on the tube. No idea yet what this critical moment from the original film might be or where they’re going to go with it, but it does, however, seem to indicate a greater connection between the film and TV show than we had previously and that could definitely be a good thing. We already know that casting is underway with original Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger set to return and [THIS JUST IN!] Game of Throne’s Emilia Clarke (pictured) just announced as the new Sarah Connor, so does that mean that the movie actors would be contractually required to appear in the show? Or does that rule out any Sarah Connor action in the TV version at all? It’s anybody’s guess until this series finds a home and a network.
Speaking of the new Terminator flick, directed by Thor 2’s Alan Taylor, it has also been announced that Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty) has been cast as savior-of-humanity John Connor. FOX has announced a release date of July 1st, 2015. We’ll see what happens between now and then.
NBC IS THE NEW BLACK…LIST. Along with Sleepy Hollow who picked up an early season two renewal from FOX a month or so ago, NBC has renewed the James Spader-led drama The Blacklist for a second season, making the two freshmen shows the only graduates of the new season to be renewed beyond the current 2013-14 season thus far. “The success of The Blacklist demonstrates that inspired storytelling is alive and well in broadcast television, and I’m impressed on a daily basis by this creative team’s imagination and the extent to which they will go to capture this grand vision on film,” NBC Chairman Rob Greenblatt said in a statement as reported on E!Online. “With gratitude to both our partners at Sony Pictures Television and our NBC development executives who took a great script and shepherded it into a great series, I hope that Red Reddington never runs out of names to bring down on his list!”
The Blacklist, which had already received an early 22-episode pickup for this season, has been a huge hit for the peacock network. It is the No. 1 drama for total viewers in the coveted 18-49 demo, and averages a 4.9 rating. The show was created by Jon Bokenkamp (writer, Taking Lives) and is executive produced by John Eisendrath, John Davis, John Fox and Michael Watkins. The freshman hit stars movie-star James Spader as the Public Enemy Number One turned mysterious informant Raymond “Red” Reddington and Megan Boone (pictured) as newbie FBI profiler (and possibly Red’s daughter?) Elizabeth Keene. Film director Joe Carnahan directed the pilot. I have apologized repeatedly about being so wrong about this show, and I’m not doing it again.
The Blacklist returns to NBC after the winter break on Monday, Jan. 13.
ALSO ON NBC, SNL GETS SCHOOLED…BY THE INTERNET. It looks like Saturday Night Live is going to add a black female cast member in the new year. The announcement comes from Saturday Night Live executive producer Lorne Michaels to The New York Times, reporting that the show will add its first black female cast member since Maya Rudolph left the show in 2007.
“All told we’ve seen about 25 people,” Michaels said. “A lot of the people we saw are really good. Hopefully we’ll come out of the process well.”
News of SNL’s search for a new cast member broke when Simone Shepherd took to Instagram to share a photo of her and fellow comedians at an audition for SNL (see picture).
Michaels said the show could add as many as two African-American performers in an effort to put out the fires that were ignited when SNL added six new cast members this fall-Beck Bennett, John Milhiser, Kyle Mooney, Mike O’Brien, Noël Wells and Brooks Wheelan-all of them white. The show addressed the well-deserved criticism during its fifth episode of the season when Scandal star Kerry Washington hosted. The Times reports SNL saw about a dozen potential cast members in Los Angeles and Michaels saw another dozen in New York. Michaels acknowledged it was “100 percent good for the show to have an African-American woman” as part of the cast.
ABC SHUFFLES THE DECK. It’s time for a little mid-season house cleaning at the Alphabet network. After picking up Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for a full season and canceling Lucky 7 (most ironic title ever), ABC has made a decision regarding four of its other freshman series.
The network has ordered full seasons of breakout comedies The Goldbergs and Trophy Wife and while it didn’t receive a back-nine pick up, the net did order four more scripts of Rebel Wilson’s Super Fun Night (more title irony), possibly because some exec still had a table leg that need propping up.
But with good news comes bad news as ABC has canceled James Caan’s sitcom Back in the Game. Which would be a shame if anyone had even realized it was on. But we didn’t and now it’s not, so you know, right?
It is important to note that none of these shows, not even the gradually improving Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, has yet be renewed for a second season.
OH! I THOUGHT YOU MEANT LUCY VAN PELT! MY BAD. Sorry, Mentalist fans, Red John is not the only one who’s gone. Amanda Righetti (pictured), who plays special agent Grace Van Pelt on the CBS drama, has confirmed her exit from the show.
“I feel like the time is probably right,” Righetti tells TVLine in an actors’ code that actually means this was the network’s idea and I had nothing to do with it. She went on to say, still in code, “It’s the end of one thing [a steady paycheck] but the beginning of something new [unemployment].”
The actress, who has been with the procedural since the pilot episode, will be exiting alongside onscreen love interest Owain Yeoman (Wayne Rigsby). Their departure is set for the end of this season, but as for how or why those two will be written off, Righetti doesn’t have a clue.
“It keeps changing,” she tells the site, probably still speaking in code. “It’s been a little bit of a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants season. I think it was sort of an unexpected turn for the writers too, to have the show kind of be reworked this season. So everybody’s kind of trying to figure it out. And [they're] probably keeping it close to the vest so it comes as a surprise to everyone that is watching.” In code speak, what she means is that the network is crazy, the producers don’t have a clue what they’re doing and they’ll rue the day they ever let me go! Bwa-ha-ha! Or something like that.
THE CW GETS IT RIGHT (WELL, RIGHT FOR THE CW, ANYWAY): Proudly batting a thousand for the first time in, like, ever, the CW has proudly given full season pick-ups to its new freshmen dramas, The Originals, The Tomorrow People and Reign.
“We’re excited about the creative momentum the producers have established for all three of our new series, and now our fans will have the chance to see the full stories unfold for them this season,” the CW’s president Mark Pedowitz said in a statement. “With the additional episodes ordered, plus two new dramas and new reality for midseason, we’ll be able to continue our commitment to adding more original programming all year long.”
Enjoy it while it lasts, CW. You’ve got Star-Crossed and The 100 due at mid-season and I have a feeling that at least one of those shows (Star-Crossed) is gonna be a stinker.
I LEFT MY HEART IN THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE. Let’s go ahead and call it. The 2013-14 TV season is The Year They Ripped My Heart Out, cruelly removing not one, but two beloved characters from two of my favorite shows, characters who both provided sorely needed moral compasses for the rest of the characters on that show. First Taraji P. Henderson who, as Detective Joss Carter, provided the only real undamaged human perspective on the phenomenal CBS series Person of Interest, was gunned down by the evil Officer Simmons of HR and then the incomparable Scott Wilson who brought such a lovely gravitas to the role of Herschel on The Walking Dead fell at the hands of the Governor in the midseason finale. Both deaths, according to showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Scott Gimple, respectively, were necessary for the shows to move forward in the most dramatic direction, but it still hurts. Add to this the death of Tara on Sons of Anarchy and I’ll be wearing black for the rest of the TV season. Rest in Peace. [Ed. Note - As The popGeezers watched PoI , which got progressively better as it built steam to the end of the "HR" storyline, we caught our breath for one moment. As John kissed Joss (interesting name, huh?) in the depth of their standoff, I turned to Mrs. pG and said, "Well, she's a dead woman."]
HOW MANY LIVES HAS THIS FREAKING SHOW GOT?? The Killing is back from the dead…again. Netflix has announced that it is set to resurrect the AMC drama, which was canceled (twice!), for a final six episode run sometime next year. Though a premiere date has yet to be announced, Netflix will make all six episodes of the drama’s fourth and final season available at once to subscribers.
“The rich, serialized storytelling in The Killing thrives on Netflix, and we believe that it is only fitting to give Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) a proper send off,” Cindy Holland, vice president of original content for Netflix, said in a statement to E!Online. “We are looking forward to offering fans—both existing and new—a series that we know is perfectly suited for on-demand viewing.”
The Killing, which wrapped its third season in August, has avoided the hangman’s noose before; AMC canceled the series after its second season, but then decided to bring the Veena Sud series back. The third season debuted to 1.8 million viewers, while the finale brought in 1.5 million viewers. According to a press release dated this week, the new severely shortened season will center on an all-boys military academy based just outside of Seattle, where a murder has occurred. Linden will go head-to-head with the school’s headmistress, who is described as a dishonorably discharged military veteran who is a stickler for discipline. The school is her life and a family legacy, and she’ll do anything to defend it and her charges. The character’s name so far, is Margaret O’Neal, and has not been cast.
Honestly, I don’t mind that a show keeps coming back, I just wish it wasn’t one I had already given up on. Why couldn’t something like this have happened to Firefly? I’m just asking…
NETFLIX GETS INTO BED WITH MARVEL…AND NO ONE BUYS DINNER FIRST! In another of several big moves announced recently, Netflix is partnering with Marvel in a deal that will result in four live-action superhero series that will debut in 2015. All of the series will lead up to one big miniseries event titled The Defenders, after a Marvel super-hero team made up of primarily second-tier characters such as (in the original comics version) Nighthawk and Valkyrie, along with the soon-to-get-his-own-movie-franchise Dr. Strange. The four heroes to be used in the individual thirteen episode mini-series that will make up The Defenders are Daredevil, the hero so ill-used in FOX’s 2003 movie adaptation starring Ben (soon to be Batman) Affleck and his wife Jennifer Garner, Iron Fist, Marvel’s Master of Martial Arts, Luke Cage Hero-for-Hire, one of comics’ first African-American super heroes and Jessica Jones, admittedly a third or fourth tier character, created by comics wunderkind Brian Michael Bendis, who almost got her own solo show on ABC a couple of years ago. As of this writing, Joss Whedon protégé Drew Goddard (Cabin in the Woods) is slated to develop and run Daredevil and Melisa Rosenberg, who wrote the Twilight film based on the Stephanie Meyers book, is on-board to write and run Jessica Jones. Most folks seem to see that in a good news (Goddard)/bad news (Rosenberg) sorta’ way, but we’ll see.
WELL, I GUESS IT’S BETTER THAN A HOUSE OF STRAW. While we’re on the subject of Netflix, did we mention that the baby net has released a trailer and a start date for the second season of its award-winning series House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey? Well, they have. You can expect new intrigue and back-stabbing beginning on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2014 and, as with all Netflix series, all the season two eps will be available on the same day. “The road to power is paved with hypocrisy,” the voice-over for the season two trailer teases, before ominously adding, “and casualties.” BRRR! Got chills yet?
The Netflix breakout hit was just nominated for a Golden Globe (for Best Drama Series), and series stars Spacey, Robin Wright and Corey Stoll were all recognized for their stellar work on the show, each receiving acting noms from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
In the network-standard super-vague description of season two, Netflix teases that Francis (Kevin Spacey) and Claire (Robin Wright) will “continue their ruthless rise to power as threats mount on all fronts.” Some of those threats are said to include up-and-coming reporter Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara), who is close to uncovering Francis’ numerous crimes and indiscretions, and billionaire Raymond Tusk (Gerald McRaney), who is demanding Francis reciprocate political favors or face retribution, while Claire will continue to grapple with being in the spotlight. “The Underwoods must overcome these dangers—past and present—to avoid losing everything, regardless of collateral damage they leave in their wake.”
I guess it’s true…Valentine’s is for lovers. TV lovers, anyway.
WOULD IT HELP ANY IF WE PASSED THE PLATE? This is strictly a rumor that has not been confirmed or denied by the network in any way, but Badass Digest is reporting a story that says AMC is considering filling the oh-so prominent gap left by the departure of mega-hit Breaking Bad with a TV adaptation of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s foul-mouthed supernatural road comic Preacher. BD is reporting that AMC has ordered a pilot, which is of course, no guarantee that the show will ever see the light of day, but we can hope. For those unfamiliar, Preacher centers on Reverend Jesse Custer, who becomes possessed by a divine entity that grants him incredible power and a serious hard-on to meet God face-to-face. He is accompanied on his journey by his girlfriend Tulip as well as Cassidy, a vampire with a weakness for drugs and booze (is there any other kind?). Preacher (the comic) features the kind of blood and guts that AMC likes so the idea seems a good fit, but the comic also goes way out on a limb in its Hard R depictions of incest, cannibalism, disfigurement and bestiality (amongst other sins) and it is possible that no net is going to be willing to follow without some serious trimming. Who knows? More and more these days cable nets like AMC and premium channels like HBO and Showtime seem the only ones brave enough to tilt the windmills of this taboo-laden wasteland and it remains to be seen whether or not AMC (or anyone else) sees Preacher as a worthwhile gamble. We’ll keep you posted. [Ed. Note - Yes,let's pray that Reverend Custer gets to unleash "the Voice" on cable TV!]
THE BRITISH ARE LEAVING…AND GOING TO HBO! British comedian John Oliver, who has been a member of The Daily Show cast for eight years, and who subbed for regular host Jon Stewart this past summer when he took an extended leave to direct a film, is set to exit the Comedy Central program after landing his own weekly comedy series at HBO. “I’m incredibly excited to be joining HBO, especially as I presume this means I get free HBO now. I want to thank Comedy Central, and everyone at The Daily Show for the best seven and a half years of my life,” Oliver said in a statement. “But most of all, I’d like to thank Jon Stewart. He taught me everything I know. In fact, if I fail in the future, it’s entirely his fault.”
Oliver’s new show will be a topical weekly comedy series that will debut on Sunday nights in 2014. According to a story on E!Online, HBO president Michael Lombardo said, “We weren’t otherwise searching for another weekly talk show, but when we saw John Oliver handling host duties on The Daily Show, we knew that his singular perspective and distinct voice belonged on HBO.”
I’ll say his voice is distinctive. It drove me nuts until I figured out that it was his voice I was hearing on that BBC America ad at the beginning of all the BBC shows coming out on DVD. Bloody hell!
SEND IN THE CLONES. In other happy news, BBC America has announced the return date for the fabulous Tatiana Maslany and Orphan Black, last season’s biggest sleeper hit, built solely on Maslany’s flawless performance as not one, not two, not three (sorry Nina Dobrev), but seven different characters, all of whom are clones of one another. This season we’re told the action will be structured around Sarah’s search for her stolen child, a quest which will bring the Clone Club firmly into the cross-hairs of newest clone Rachel and the Neolutionists. Can’t wait? I feel your pain, but you’ve got to, at least until April 19, 2014, when the show returns to BBCA.
SPEAKING OF THE BRITS…If you’re a fan of button-downed, repressive family drama, then you’ll be happy about the latest from across the pond about Downton Abbey (you should also really consider spending the holidays at my house, but that’s a conversation for another day). Downton Abbey’s season four may not hit small screens until January, but they’ve already locked season five in anyway.
According to ITV and co-producer Carnival Films, the hit PBS period drama was renewed for a fifth season, meaning fans will get to see much more of the elite Crawley family drama over the next couple of years.
According to ITV, more than 24 million viewers tuned in for the third season of the show, making it the most-watched drama in PBS history. Somewhere, 20 million Doctor Who fans are crying.
CAN’T SOMEONE GIVE POOR JLH A HAND? According to E! News, which pays attention to such things, apparently, Lifetime has crossed the Jennifer Love Hewitt drama The Client List off their list. The soaper, starring Hewitt as a single mother turned prostitute, has been canceled after just two seasons after reports of some backstage drama involving Hewitt expecting a baby with costar and real-life fiancé Brian Hallisay. According to Deadline, Hewitt, who also serves as an executive producer, wanted her pregnancy written into the show and for Hallisay to play Riley’s baby-daddy, giving him a bigger story arc in season three. That reportedly put her at odds with the showrunner and creator Suzanne Martin, who favored the other male lead, Colin Egglesfield, as the one to be the father of the baby onscreen. The storyline stalemate is what led to a delayed renewal announcement, and perhaps is what ultimately led to Lifetime giving The Client List the boot.
Hewitt’s camp of course, denies any trouble betwixt herself and Martin, choosing instead to focus on her relationship and the forthcoming bun in the oven. “This is a wonderful time and we are looking forward to starting our family together,” Hewitt and Hallisay said in a statement together back in June.
For those of you more factually inclined, The Client List finale brought in only 2 million viewers, down from the season one finale which had 2.7 million people tuning in. For those of your curious as to just what we’re missing out on, check out the picture (no drooling, please!)
In the good news department over at Lifetime, Drop Dead Diva has been granted a sixth season and newbie supernatural drama The Witches of East End as been renewed for a thirteen ep second season. Nothing but rainbows here, people. And moonbeams. Rainbows and moonbeams.
FX ANNOUNCES YET ANOTHER VAMPIRE SERIES! SERIOUSLY? If you’re sick and tired of all the vampire shows and movies of the last ten years or so (I blame Anne Rice), close your ears and try not to listen, because the FX network has just announced thirteen episodes of a new blood-sucker show based on the best-selling book The Strain by movie god Guillermo del Toro (pictured) and writer par excellence’ Chuck Hogan.
The Strain is the first of three books in the series which features a world over-run by a truly horrifying breed of vamp (so at least that’s something) who live in the sewers and defecate on themselves when they feed (now that’s a VFX dream job, ain’t it?).
Corey Stoll (Netflix’s House of Cards) has been cast as the main character Dr. Ephraim Goodweather along with Mia Maestro (Alias) and Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee from LotR!), who plays Jim Kent.
The Strain is set to premiere in July on FX.
NO EXPECTATIONS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS PROGRAM. Battlestar Galactica reimaginer Ronald D. Moore (pictured) has announced his return to SYFY in one of two new scripted series set to debut in early 2014. The show is called Helix and while reminiscent of John Carpenter’s The Thing (not to mention the excellent Howard Hawks movie that came before it), Moore says it will go off in plenty of interesting directions. According to the official synopsis:
Helix is an intense thriller about a team of scientists from the Centers for Disease Control who travel to the high-tech research facility, Arctic BioSystems, to investigate a possible disease outbreak, only to find themselves pulled into a terrifying life-and-death struggle that may hold the key to mankind’s salvation or total annihilation. However, the lethal threat is just the tip of the iceberg, and as the virus evolves, the chilling truth begins to unravel.
Billy Campbell (Killing Lincoln, The Killing) stars as Dr. Alan Farragut, leader of the Centers for Disease Control outbreak field team called upon to investigate and control a potential outbreak. Hiroyuki Sanada (The Wolverine, 47 Ronin) also stars as Dr. Hiroshi Hatake, director of Arctic BioSystems and its mysterious viral research program.
Helix is set to premiere on SYFY Friday, Jan. 10.
In the second of SYFY’s new original series, Bitten is a sexy Canadian import about werewolves based on the Women of Otherworld novels by Kelley Armstrong and starring Laura Vandervoort (V, Smallville), which generated a fair bit of buzz in the land up north, much the way Lost Girl did a few years ago. Once again, let’s go to the official synopsis:
Bitten is an emotionally charged supernatural thriller starring Laura Vandervoort as Elena Michaels, the lone female werewolf in existence.
Desperate to escape both a world she never wanted to be part of and the man who turned her into a werewolf, Elena (Vandervoort) has abandoned her Pack and taken refuge in a new city. There, she works as a photographer and hides her werewolf existence from her new boyfriend. When bodies start turning up in her Pack’s backyard, Elena finds herself back at Stonehaven, the werewolves’ ancestral domain. Torn between two worlds and two loves, she quickly realizes that – when push comes to shove – she’ll stop at nothing to defend her Pack.
Bitten also stars Greg Bryk (A History of Violence) as werewolf Pack “Alpha” Jeremy Danvers, Greyston Holt (Alcatraz) as Elena’s werewolf ex-boyfriend Clayton Danvers, and Paul Greene (The Client List) as Elena’s current beau, Philip McAdams.
Bitten premieres its thirteen episode season on Monday, Jan. 13.
And in reality show news, SYFY will premiere Opposite Worlds, which will pits groups against one another in future and past settings beginning Tuesday, January 21. Whoopee.
Monday, January 13 (along with Bitten):
Lost Girl: Fourth season premiere. 8pm/7pm central
Being Human (US): Fourth season premiere. 9pm/8pm central
Tuesday, January 14:
Face Off: Sixth season premiere. 9pm/8pm central
Wednesday, January 22:
Ghost Hunters. New episodes. 9pm/8pm central
And that’s about it, TV fans (Thank god! My typing fingers are cramping something fierce!). I do have the fall network return dates for all your favorite shows for ABC and FOX and as soon as I can get my hands on the same for CBS, NBC and CW, I’ll trot them right out. In the meantime, have a cool yule, y’all and a wonderful holiday with the people you care about, on whatever planet you come from. Merry Christmas!