Wednesday, March 26, 2008

This, that and that other thing

Blogging activity's been pretty minimal of late, I know. The end of "The Wire" took a lot out of me (and also robbed me of the most-commented topic each week), and I'm hoping to start the season one rewind soon. (I'll provide plenty of advance warning before I do, so people can dust off their DVD sets.) I also got wrapped up in a long story for this Sunday's paper that started off as a review of "Battlestar Galactica" season four and turned more into a think piece on remakes.

So with no column in the paper today or tomorrow, and no "Lost" tomorrow night, I figured I'd browse TV Tattle and provide some belated thoughts on items in the news or on my desk. Bullet points to follow after the jump:
  • Most optimistically-titled DVD set to arrive in the mail in months: "Bionic Woman: Volume One," as if there's even the slimmest chance of there being a "Volume Two." On the plus side, I just got my review copy of "Friday Night Lights: The Second Season," which is out on April 22.
  • We should know the fate of "FNL" itself well before the DVDs come out, as NBC is holding its upfront more than a month early than usual, a week from today. Given how the strike messed up development season, my guess is they're mainly going to be pushing pre-existing series (get ready for a "Knight Rider" pick-up!), and that they'll take the Fox route of presenting five different schedules for different parts of the year, all of which will be torn up within a few months (if not by the time the other networks do their upfronts in mid-May).
  • Carolyn Strauss is out as HBO entertainment president as the channel tries to define itself post-"Sopranos" and "Sex and the City." I like Carolyn and like some of the channel's recent output (you know I've been obsessed with "In Treatment," and she was always one of David Simon's biggest champions), but I also understand the desire for change after so long. I do wonder whether HBO brass are kidding themselves about replicating the success of the turn of the millennium. "Sopranos" and "Sex" were both lightning in a bottle shows -- highbrow enough to draw in the "Oh, I don't watch television" crowd, but with subject matter lowbrow enough to draw a mass audience as well -- and that's going to be hard to pull off again.
  • The first post-Strauss change came quick, as HBO dumped Linda Bloodworth Thomason's "12 Miles of Bad Road." Thomason and husband Harry quickly mobilized to send copies of the show around to TV critics in hopes of drumming up support for another network to pick it up. (I got my DVDs last week but haven't had a chance to watch yet; admittedly, I've never been a huge Thomason fan, even with "Designing Women.") This isn't the first time someone's tried this tactic; when TNT realized it made better financial sense to turn "Breaking News" into a tax write-off than to promote and air it, its producer started slipping copies to critics, and eventually Bravo picked it up and aired the completed season (though no new episodes were made.)
  • Rob Thomas is living a charmed life; in addition to the previously-discussed "Cupid" and "90210" remakes, he has a third pilot in the works, a remake of the New Zealand dramedy "Outrageous Fortune," for ABC. Watch: somehow, none of the three will get picked up.
  • Continuing last week's Paley Festival discussion, Futon Critic recaps of the panels for "Friday Night Lights," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Gossip Girl," "Dirty Sexy Money" and "Damages."
  • As if Hulu wasn't a bad enough procrastination tool, Trey and Matt have now put every "South Park" episode ever made (including last week's extremely disturbing Britney episode) online at SouthParkStudios.com. Better bad day pick-me-up: Gob Bluth doing the chicken dance, or a Mr. Hanky song?
  • Fox canceled "Jezebel James" after three episodes, moved "Canterbury's Law" to Fridays after two episodes and renewed "Prison Break." I know Fox had been talking about a women's prison-based spin-off for "Prison Break," but as the original show is now going to need a storyline for season four, why not combine the two and have Michael get in drag for a while? My wife is convinced that if you slapped a wig on Wentworth Miller, he'd be a dead ringer for Jennifer Aniston. (Or vice versa, if you shaved her head.)

Feel free to opine on any other TV-related happenings not discussed her. Anything's fair game, except for Kristy Lee Cook or the works of Lee Greenwood.

33 comments:

Undercover Asian Man said...

Alan:

Any insider news on a second season of "Breaking Bad"? When is the latest such an announcement can be made (and still be fair to the stars / writers / crew in terms of pilot season)?

BigTed said...

I'm proud to be an American, where at least "South Park" is free....

Amasea said...

Three things:
1) I think I'll cheer for anything Rob Thomas does, based on my love for Veronica Mars. So much as I didn't like 90210, I'll tune in at least at first if he does the remake.
2) Why are we still having panels about Buffy, five years after its end? I mean, I love the show, I have all the dvds, but really?
3) Jennifer Aniston and Wentworth Miller are both beautiful people, but similar in facial appearance? I disagree. The lower half of Aniston's face is much different from Miller's.

Matthew L said...

As a New Zealander, I feel like I should be able to make some contribution to the news about Rob Thomas's remake of Outrageous Fortune. Unfortunately, the show's never really been of much interest to me, so I've never really watched it. I do know it's easily the most successful local show we've had for a few years (at least, if we ignore the locally-made nightly soap opera), and it is supposed to be pretty good. And the guy that plays the Freighter Captain on Lost was one of the show's stars - I do know that.

But I apologise for my lack of ability to offer any actual insight into this matter.

kwig said...

The NZ series "Outrageous Fortune" is pretty crappy. If he can repurpose it to include a crime-solving blonde teenager...

KcM said...

John Adams didn't seem to make the coverage cut around here (Alan's initial review notwithstanding) but...

...did anyone else notice Neal Huff (The Wire's Steintorf) as the captain of Adams' passage to France in Episode 3? I kept expecting him to offer Adams a judgeship.

This is in keeping with HBO's tendency to stick with their usual casting stable. See also Justin Theroux (Six Feet Under) as John Hancock and Guy Henry (Rome, Extras) as Jonathan Sewell.

Nicole said...

If Knight Rider can include a Hasselhoff cameo in every episode, I might watch. Who doesn't love the Hoff?

I've been keeping up with John Adams and it's not bad, but then I'm a sucker for most historical dramas. At least the acting is decent in this one.

SoCal said...

Alan- since yoju linked to the Paleyy Festival recaps, what did you think of Dirty Sexy Money when it first preerired? It was the only new show of the season i watched, and it was getting better before the strike. Top notch cast in Krause Sunderland and Underwood. Perhaps i'm just a sucker for high society? Either way, was wondering your opinion.

John said...

I have a difficult time feeling sorry for anyone at HBO after they passed (through inaction) on MAD MEN. I can only imagine the level of regret there now. If ever there was a show more perfect for HBO, with its affluent and introspective demographic (hey, there's even therapy sessions!), I can't think of it.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Is this the first time a non-spoiler, non-profane topic that is actually RELATED to the aired episode has been shut down by Alan? Can we get a list of episode-related and relevant topics with which Alan disagrees and which he plans to censor so we don't go down that road?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Any insider news on a second season of "Breaking Bad"?

Not yet. Pilot season is out of whack this year, but shows are still getting cast, so there's definitely a risk of Cranston or somebody else losing out on another job (though they could do a pilot and still leave Breaking Bad in first position in the event of renewal). I don't know when the contract options lapse.

Alan Sepinwall said...

2) Why are we still having panels about Buffy, five years after its end? I mean, I love the show, I have all the dvds, but really?

And yet it was, by all accounts, the most-mobbed event of the whole festival, and also the first time in years that nearly the whole cast was together again. Never underestimate the passion of the Whedonites.

Alan Sepinwall said...

3) Jennifer Aniston and Wentworth Miller are both beautiful people, but similar in facial appearance? I disagree. The lower half of Aniston's face is much different from Miller's.

There was some magazine cover a year or two ago that had both their pictures on it as part of a collage, and in those particular shots, Miller and Aniston's noses, mouths and chins looked identical. I've never noticed the resemblance any other time, but the visual came to me when the Women in Prison Break idea was first proposed.

Alan Sepinwall said...

what did you think of Dirty Sexy Money when it first preerired?

I liked it, in the way that I like most Greg Berlanti shows (except Eli Stone). If it's on, and I have something else to do at the same time (laundry, exercise, returning e-mails), I'll watch them and enjoy them. But I don't go out of my way to seek them out, and I doubt I'd enjoy them if I had to give them my full attention.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Can we get a list of episode-related and relevant topics with which Alan disagrees and which he plans to censor so we don't go down that road?

Sure thing, Anonymous. Other subjects that will not be tolerated under any circumstances:

-The books of Jonathan Kellerman (but not Faye Kellerman);

-Pregnant female-to-male transsexuals;

-Inuit throat singing;

-Australian rules football;

-Low-carb diets

-and Hugh Jackman.

Toby said...

I keep thinking there has to be a sketch somewhere in the idea of HBO wanting 'John Adams' to be more like 'The Sopranos'.

Like having Adams approach Dickinson with a fish and then pulling a pistol out of it to gun him down; or putting a pillow over the face of his own mother because she sold him out to the Hessians....

Nicole said...

Can't we make an exception to the Hugh Jackman rule when he hosts the Tonys?

Alan Sepinwall said...

I'll have to check with Dr. Cox about that.

gameon said...

Is it wrong that I'm anxiously anticipating any word on Battlestar Galactica?

special k said...

Speaking of Hugh Jackman, what is the Scrubs/Hugh Jackman connection? Dr. Cox always puts him down and I figured someone here would know why... I am too lazy to Google right now.

As far as Buffy, I kind of love that a cast reunion can cause such a commotion. It was an amazing show unlike any other. Even though seasons 6 and 7 mostly sucked.

The Dude said...

Any idea when the season season of Mad Men will be starting? I missed the first season the first time so I have been catching up on the reruns -- Excellent show.

How about the third season of Dexter? I need to know when to get my subscription back for Showtime.

Anonymous said...

Alan, I am anxiously awaiting The Wire rewind posts. Cannot seem to find appropriate replacement for The Wire. J u n k i e :)
Does anybody know when Generation Kill is supposed to start?

Anonymous said...

The last promo I saw for "Generation Kill" said it was going to air in July.

Similar to the questions above, at what point do HBO and Showtime release their schedules for the year? I know the strike changed everything, but I think the majority of shows I watch now are on one of those two and they already run their shows on their own timeframe.

Anonymous said...

It looks like HBO has made a mistake with the replacement of Albrecht. Those 2 guys seem to be really screwing up. Besides Tell Me You Love Me Hbo has done well post Sopranos. John Adams is amazing and the Alan Ball project looks good. Plus the newly announced David Milch series Last of the Ninth has a lot of promise.

HBO has earned my monthly payment cause of all the great shows they have brought me. However, passing on Mad Men and saying everything has to fit some HBO standard is bullshit. Just put on some interesting shows and give the talented writers a chance to create something and stop trying to be so cute.

drake leLane said...

Speaking of South Park, last night's episode ("Major Boobage") totally nailed my faulty memory of 1981's Heavy Metal (boobs everywhere).

Like their Worlds of Warcraft episode from season 10 ("Make Love, Not Warcraft,") Parker and Stone could have themselves another Emmy. Or maybe it's just a desire to hear someone way: "And the Emmy goes to... South Park, with "Major Boobage!"

That First Andrew said...

HBO has not done well post-Soprano. While it has shows that are critically lauded, like Big Love or Flight of the Conchords, it no longer has any tent pole shows like the Sopranos or Sex in the City that will make people subscribe to the network. Yes, some people will, but not in the numbers that were attracted by the Sopranos.

And there really are no signature shows on HBO anymore. The love for Entourage has greatly dwindled, and Curb Your Enthusiasm's future is questionable. Those two and Big Love are the only shows on the network that have gone two seasons or more.

Add in the spate of shows they have debuted that haven't caught on (John from Cincinatti) or have been downright awful (Tell Me You Love Me) and they have clearly lost their mojo. And you can't forget this new debacle with 12 MIles of Bad Road. They buy a show, sink 25 million dollars into it, and then decide it is too bad to air. This is the network that aired an entire season of "The Comeback."

As for passing on Mad Men, I don't see that as a mistake. Mad Men is a phenomenal show, no doubt, but it is a hard sell, even with the pedigree of a Sopranos writer. And I suspect that HBO, to some extent, wanted to reinvent itself after the Sopranos and find an identity with out David Chase, Tony and the kids.

That's just me though. I'm bat shit crazy.

nevada smith said...

With basically nothing on HBO anymore and really nothing on the horizon-is now the time to drop this channel?

anon said...

Alan,

Has Aliens in America been cancelled? I don't assume it is coming back, but I wasn't sure whether it was technically in limbo or officially out the door.

Anon

dez said...

^I have the same question about "Everybody Hates Chris." It's lost some steam since the first season, but it still makes me smile. I quite like "Aliens in America," too.

Anthony Foglia said...

drake leLane said...

"Speaking of South Park, last night's episode ("Major Boobage") totally nailed my faulty memory of 1981's Heavy Metal (boobs everywhere).

"Like their Worlds of Warcraft episode from season 10 ("Make Love, Not Warcraft,") Parker and Stone could have themselves another Emmy."

I don't know. Like most "South Parks" it was a good idea, but the execution was a little weak. Not better than usual, but not a classic or Emmy-worthy.

We did learn that you can show plenty of nude breasts, provided they aren't on a woman.

Eires32 said...

Just got back from the Paley Fest for Mad Men.
Really enjoyable, totally different vibe from the FNL night. I'm sure the Futon Critic will have a blow by blow that is much better than my musings.
The best little tidbit of the night was that Elizabeth Moss (Peggy) was told about the pregnancy arc when they started shooting the second episode - and she couldn't discuss with anyone except wardrobe and some of the producers. They also shot the eps out of order (mostly due to John Slattery's work on another series), so they had five or six different versions of the make up and fat suit, putting them all together like a science.
John Slattery was highly amusing - esp. relating how he saw "episode two Peggy" and then didn't see her again until "episode six Peggy". Rough quote.."I looked up from my newspaper as Elizabeth was walking by..and just went (double take)...I had to say to someone.."Is it just me or...???""

Anonymous said...

Alan, your cheering for The Wire has resulted in my husband and I borrowing the first season from our local library. We were hooked in one or two episodes. We're still on season two, so it's tough trying to find background on the show without getting spoilers for later seasons.
The re-wind of the first season on your blog will be great for those of us who came late to the party.

Anonymous said...

Well, subscriber wise HBO is up since the cancellation of The Sopranos. But yeah, its lost a lot of its puff. While I love John Adams, as well as In Treatment and Tell Me You Love Me, the latter two are definitely niche shows. Hell, even John from Cincinnati would have been an improvement, ratings wise, on what they have now.