Monday, January 26, 2009

Jack, you're a grown man. You have control over your own words.

So, the open thread idea worked pretty well the last time I tried it, and then press tour got in the way of doing another one. So for the next 24 hours or so, fire away with questions or comments on stuff that doesn't seem germane to other posts, and I'll do my best to respond as often as I can. Since it's more of a free-for-all, please try to be respectful of others when it comes to spoilers for whatever you're discussing.

UPDATE:100+ comments later, we're going to wrap this one up and try again in a week or two.

124 comments:

Michael said...

Is Brotherhood officially canceled or is a fourth season possible?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Haven't heard anything about a cancellation.

max_h said...

hi Alan, just curious as to what you think of the Oscar nominations announced last week? Any movie that you really liked and you're rooting for to win?

Anonymous said...

Is Lance Reddick returning to Lost at all?

Zachary said...

Why is Michael Angeli loathed by the BSG fanbase? I've watched all the episodes except for the first 2 of the new season and no episode stood out as bad to me.

Alan Sepinwall said...

hi Alan, just curious as to what you think of the Oscar nominations announced last week? Any movie that you really liked and you're rooting for to win?

I liked Slumdog, but like so many people, I'm annoyed that neither Dark Knight nor Wall*E got Best Picture nods (or Best Director). I can't speak to the quality of some of the nominees that I haven't seen, but it's like the Oscars are going out of their way to keep people from watching. When you have two movies that were both huge hits and were largely praised to the heavens, it seems like a no-brainer to me to try to nominate them, even if they don't win.

Over the last 10 or 15 years, it seems that the Oscars have become less about honoring the best movies of the year than about honoring the best November and December releases of the studio's boutique film divisions. And there's lots of great mainstream work that goes ignored.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Is Lance Reddick returning to Lost at all?

JJ Abrams said that if Lindelof and Cuse asked for Reddick, they could use him. No idea if they've asked, as they tend to be secretive about stuff like that. But having the two shows share a production company helps, even if JJ hasn't really been involved with Lost for a long time.

Pale Writer said...

I finally got around to watching The Middleman. Is is officially dead? Or is there some slim hope that I will be faux-cursing with them again?

Anonymous said...

Zachary,

I'm not Alan, but go to each and every Angeli episode. Then see what he has the women do. Also, see whether the character behavior is consistent with the characterization/behavior from other episodes (e.g. Helo, The Woman King).

When you have Tory Foster literally crying while having sex with Baltar, after having been ordered to do so, and then you have Baltar lecturing Tory on religion while she's crying, while they're having sex, you know something is a bit off.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I finally got around to watching The Middleman. Is is officially dead? Or is there some slim hope that I will be faux-cursing with them again?

It's not officially dead, but I wouldn't hold my breath. The last I heard on the subject, Javier Grillo-Marxuach was putting all his focus on trying to get out a kick-butt DVD set.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Re: Angeli, I would also say that it bugs me how every one of his episodes has to feature characters delivering monologues explaining what makes them tick, why they do what they do, etc.

bettyd said...

glad to see SAG share the love for Mad Men and 30 Rock. Don't go to the movies, but the TV picks seemed reasonable. I had to laugh at Hugh Laurie's speech when he said he lost $100 b/c he though Spader would win, so it was a bad night for him.

Comments?

Kensington said...

Alan, what do you make of ABC lowering it's Cupid order to only eight episodes. Certainly it's not a good sign, but is it a bad sign?

Presumably ABC saw a pilot before they made their initial order. Do you know if this order reduction happened after ABC saw more episodes?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan, what do you make of ABC lowering it's Cupid order to only eight episodes. Certainly it's not a good sign, but is it a bad sign?

I'd say it has more to do with the economy than with ABC's faith (or lack thereof) in the show's quality. If it does well airing after "Dancing with the Stars," all will be fine for a second season.

Brandon said...

Re: the Oscars - I think this is one of the worst Best Picture lineups of the decade, and I would have preferred WALL-E or The Dark Knight to some of the nominees.

That said, the Oscar voters are not a leviathan--in theory, everyone votes for what they believe to be the year's best movies. The ratings for the telecast don't directly affect the average Oscar voter, and I'd be surprised if they factored that in at all.

Also, this year's Best Picture nominees all came out at the end of the year, but in recent years they've been trending away from that. Crash, The Departed, Babel, Little Miss Sunshine, etc. Two of those even won the biggie.

I agree that the Academy is not about honoring the best films of the year--were they ever?--but because of middling tastes (and a group vote) rather than overlooking the summer hits.

Jennifer said...

Especially recently, the Academy Awards are much more about "who" should win, rather than who has earned the statue. Merit and artistic achievement are second fiddle to Hollywood politics and making sure the power players go home happy.

I'll always keep watching, but I don't think it's outrageous to think, based on ratings, there will come a day when the Oscars are not televised on network TV.

Rachel said...

I was bummed as well that Wall-E (and to a slightly lesser extent, The Dark Knight) did not receive nominations for Best Picture. If amazing films like those cannot overcome the stigma of being animated/comic book movies, then will such films *ever* be able to break through?

The ratings for the telecast don't directly affect the average Oscar voter, and I'd be surprised if they factored that in at all.

Completely agree -- what does an average Oscar voter care if the telecast gets good ratings? (You could argue for an indirect affect: greater exposure for films = greater profits for films = trickle down to the voters.) It seems quite clear that the Academy will continue to nominate whomever the heck they want (or whomever puts on the best Oscar campaign).

Anonymous said...

With CUPID beginning March 24th, there are only 8 weeks for it to run before the end of the season.(The last week is 2 hour DWTS finale). With the economy, ABC probably figured, we don't need 13 since we couldn't air all of them this year. If it's a hit it will for sure come back, but otherwise we don't have any leftovers. If they didn't belive in it or want it to succeed they wouldn't have given it a good timeslot.

Anonymous said...

When Grissom got his CSI sendoff a vouple weeks ago, they kept off Jorja Fox's credit until after the episode. Why can't shows like Lost do this?

Eric said...

Is Chuck in trouble? And has anyone seen a display with the 3-D glasses for the Superbowl and Chuck?

MB said...

Alan, how are things at the Star Ledger in regards to buyouts, layoffs, etc.? Any fear for your position?

Any plans on what you would do if the Star Ledger decided it no longer was interested in the television-critic business?

Anonymous said...

MB, in dark economic times like these, it might behoove you to be a little less...blunt when inquiring about the future of people's livelihoods.

Dan Coyle said...

In the meantime anyone hungry for some non-MiddleMan Javier Grillo Maruxach should check out Annihilation Book 2 and Annihilation: Conquest Book 2 which contain his contributions to the cosmic Marvel sagas. A serious 180 from the comedy of the Middle Man and some cracking good stuff.

Rick said...

I'm curious as to what all you watch, Alan. You've often made random comments and posts along the lines of, "I usually watch [show] without posting, but this week..." or, "I can't find the [energy/interest/desire] to write a weekly post about [show], though I'll probably keep watching..."

What shows do you keep up with, regardless of whether you end up writing about them?

Along the same lines, with a job like yours, do you still find television relaxing? When you have down time, do you ever find yourself zoning out to VH1 or TLC?

aimee said...

Hi Alan,
A few people have brought up Cupid already...I was just wondering if you've seen the pilot yet, or if you could just share some initial thoughts on the remake after the press tour?

LA said...

Just wanted to say how pleased I was to see that the actors who play Sally and Bobby Draper were along for the ride last night at the SAGs. Those two actually add to the drama of the show (versus most child actors who are used for window dressing), so I thought it was fitting that they shared in the award.

Anonymous said...

Hey Alan, I just re-watched "Reaper" Season 1 and I was psyched about the new season. When is the premiere, and have you heard any news about what's going to happen in the upcoming season?

Alan Sepinwall said...

When Grissom got his CSI sendoff a vouple weeks ago, they kept off Jorja Fox's credit until after the episode. Why can't shows like Lost do this?

It's a contractual headache to do so and can only be pulled off on special occasions. Lost has surprise appearances so often that they just couldn't do it every time.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Is Chuck in trouble? And has anyone seen a display with the 3-D glasses for the Superbowl and Chuck?

I want to be hopeful about Chuck's future, but who the hell knows about what's going on at NBC these days? The Jay Leno thing doesn't help, nor does the fact that they recently promoted the head of the NBC/Universal studio to be the network's entertainment president (Chuck is a Warner Bros.-produced show, and therefore she doesn't have any kind of sentimental attachment to it), nor does increased competition from House. But it's a good show, and a known quantity from a business standpoint. We'll see.

Shambala said...

do u think season 3 of the wire is better once u know who marlo is?? wat i mean is watchin season 3 the second time is more rewarding then the first time because marlo and his crew are characters instead of some opposition soley in place for conflct with avon

Shambala said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alan Sepinwall said...

What shows do you keep up with, regardless of whether you end up writing about them?

I watch (and/or listen to the podcast of) Pardon the Interruption every day and I watch The Daily Show most days. I check in on NCIS and Private Practice from time to time but never feel compelled to blog on them. The Simpsons I almost never blog on but watch every week (I have last night's episode on Hulu as I type this). I'm sure there's other stuff, but one of the downsides to watching so much TV is that you start blanking on what it all is.

Alan Sepinwall said...

A few people have brought up Cupid already...I was just wondering if you've seen the pilot yet, or if you could just share some initial thoughts on the remake after the press tour?

The new pilot's good. Cannavale brings a very different energy from Piven while still seeming appropriate, and he and Paulson are good together. My only concern is that the pilot spends a lot of time with the Couple of the Week, which means they have to tell a lot of the Trevor/Claire stuff in shorthand.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Hey Alan, I just re-watched "Reaper" Season 1 and I was psyched about the new season. When is the premiere, and have you heard any news about what's going to happen in the upcoming season?

It's back on March 17. I have a couple of the early episodes but haven't had a chance to watch them yet.

Adam said...

Ned Schneebly is competing in the next season of The Amazing Race. Alan, will this finally convince you to watch (and blog about) the show, and what for that matter will decide whether to watch this season of Survivor?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Adam, I think I've seen all of Survivor and Amazing Race that I ever need to see, and I didn't feel any real sense of absence when I didn't watch the fall editions of either one. If Survivor hadn't done the Fans Vs. Favorites season -- which I didn't like in the end, but which did bring back a bunch of people I had a sentimental attachment to -- I might have been done with that one even sooner.

Jon Delfin said...

SAG Awards: Tina Fey's remarks, brilliant. Evan Rachel Wood pronouncing "ingenuity" as if it referred to ingenues, just kinda weird.

"Lie to Me": Are they CGI-enhancing the lying indicators, or are the actors really providing all of those cues?

Alan Sepinwall said...

"Lie to Me": Are they CGI-enhancing the lying indicators, or are the actors really providing all of those cues?

The actors are doing it, and the producers have to spend a lot of time with the guest stars making sure they don't show the wrong cue at the wrong moment. I imagine that'll become a bigger and bigger problem as the viewers get used to the cues and as the show introduces even more of them.

Shambala said...

did u not answer my questoin cause of spoilers??? lol srry if so

Mike F said...

Alan, I just got around to watching all three seasons of Deadwood having meant to do so for a long time. What a great show. I liked it so much that it only took me 10-12 days to get through it all.

I wanted to go back and read through all your recaps and thoughts about each episode. And while I found some, I don't think I found them all. Even if you didn't review all of them, it would have been much easier if you had an active link with all your Deadwood posts.

My next big show to tack may be The Shield, which I managed to avoid all these years.

So for people that are late-comers to some of these shows, do you think you can provide the kinds of links that you have available for the Wire and a few other shows? Seems like your link index could be much more complete.

beerbaron said...

Any news on what ABC plans to do with the remaining Pushing Daisies episodes, or if the writers had enough notice to produce a proper series finale?

Anonymous said...

Hey Alan,
Any possibility of Friday Night Lights NOT returning for a fourth season? I know the ratings for the second episode were less than the premiere.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I wanted to go back and read through all your recaps and thoughts about each episode. And while I found some, I don't think I found them all. Even if you didn't review all of them, it would have been much easier if you had an active link with all your Deadwood posts.

The blog didn't exist until after the second season. You can find all of my season three reviews here.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Any news on what ABC plans to do with the remaining Pushing Daisies episodes, or if the writers had enough notice to produce a proper series finale?

I talked about that in one of my final press tour dispatches.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Any possibility of Friday Night Lights NOT returning for a fourth season?

I'd say right now that's not only possible, it's probable. I'm assuming it's not coming back, and will be pleasantly surprised if the planets align otherwise.

Hatfield said...

I've waxed romantic about "Deadwood" before, so I'll just say that I would be unbelievably happy if you ever chose to revisit seasons 1 & 2 the way you did "The Wire" season 1. And I know how much my happiness means to you.

On a related note, sorta, have you seen "Kings" yet? When does it premiere?

Alan Sepinwall said...

On a related note, sorta, have you seen "Kings" yet? When does it premiere?

No, and March 15.

Dan said...

Shambala:

While I'm certainly not Alan, I wanted to comment and say that I agree with your post. I don't know that it makes season 3 BETTER - but watching it a second time after already seeing seasons 4 and 5 definitely sheds a different light on the season; knowing who Marlo and crew become.

Then again, I think every episode of the entire series is better the more times you watch it. I have no problem calling it the best drama series ever.

Chris the TV Sage said...

Any word on when the 2-per-week schedule of "Scrubs" ends? I note it moves to Wednesdays on 3/17 (to be paired with "Better Off Ted" in the 8 pm hour), but if things don't change on Tuesday they'll be out of new eps by then.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Any word on when the 2-per-week schedule of "Scrubs" ends? I note it moves to Wednesdays on 3/17 (to be paired with "Better Off Ted" in the 8 pm hour), but if things don't change on Tuesday they'll be out of new eps by then.

I already fired a query over to ABC on this, and was waiting for an answer before I did a full blog post on it.

Pamela Jaye said...

I got most of the HIMYM season 1 and 2 posts too (thanks for re-tagging them by season) but I think there were a couple that I had to go looking for (so then I searched by month)
I think I have one more Extra to watch and then I can get to season 3.

Also, I noted on the late night talk shows page (google some combination or that and "interbridge" if you need to find it) the Alyson Hannigan is going to be on - I think it was Bonnie Hunt - no, maybe that was Donny & Marie...

Ellen DeGeneres: Alyson Hannigan - Friday

wonder what he will be wearing.
I think I noticed her pregnancy before it was annouced because I started really like her clothes - and I've been a sucker for smocked tops to the point that my mother used to say "just wait till you get pregnant: you'll get over it!"
Actually I found a few at Target this fall (so I bought every color they had - Current fashion and my taste intersect only cyclically)

Re: talk shows. I onl watch when there's a guest I'm interested in. For those who don't know there's a listing, it's here:
http://www.interbridge.com/lineupsdate.html

and you can also get it by RSS, live bookmark, possibly email, TV Barn might still be includig them as well.

So, I *should* watch the SAG awards, huh?

Anonymous said...

It seems insane to me (more than the usual insanity) to have two funny shows about geeky (but lovable) guys compete head to head, with Big Bang going against Chuck. Now with House on at the same time, too, I can't watch/tape all 3 at once and I'm all the angrier.

Anyway, given Chuck's ratings problems, has there been any questions asked or talk about moving Chuck to another time slot?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Anyway, given Chuck's ratings problems, has there been any questions asked or talk about moving Chuck to another time slot?

Fans talk about it, but there doesn't seem to be a better place for it. Tuesdays and Wednesdays would put it in the path of Idol, NBC is entrenched with half-hour comedies on Thursdays (though I would argue that a Chuck/Office/30 Rock night would be awesome and have great flow), and you don't want Chuck to air Fridays or Saturdays.

One of the things it has going for it is that NBC thinks it's a very compatible partner for "Heroes," which will definitely be back next year, even though an official renewal hasn't come yet.

Matt Hunter said...

You mention being a comic book geek quite a bit (excellent use of Guardian recently) so I'm wondering if you still read. If so, what are you reading? If not, what did you read before you quit?

Pamela Jaye said...

*she*
Alyson is a she
sigh

If any Grey's fan missed it in one one, probably the HIMYM threads, Chyler Leigh is also pregnant.

Alan Sepinwall said...

You mention being a comic book geek quite a bit (excellent use of Guardian recently) so I'm wondering if you still read. If so, what are you reading? If not, what did you read before you quit?

I've mostly kicked the habit due to the expense, but I still follow a handful of series in trade paperback form: Fables, Astro City, Ultimate Spider-Man, Powers, the Brubaker version of Captain America, Scott Pilgrim and a couple of others. (Y the Last Man was on that list until it ended.)

Favorites on the Sepinwall bookshelf include many of the usual suspects: Preacher, Hitman, Watchmen, Dark Knight (original, not Strikes Back), Queen & Country, Suicide Squad (not that it's collected, but it's a favorite of the longbox stuff), Roger Stern and/or Kurt Busiek on Avengers, et al.

Favorite character (not that you asked): Wonder Man.

Mads said...

An upside to the Cupid episode order being cut back: Rob Thomas has time to work on the script for the Veronica Mars movie. Story here.

Flosh said...

Hi Alan,

Do you know if David Milch's new HBO cop show is still moving forward? Most recent news about it I can find is from last August, when Ray Winstone was cast for the pilot.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Flosh, David Mills said a while back that HBO pulled the plug.

Anonymous said...

I think of this question periodically and then forget it again. Your comment about Janine Turner reminded me of it again. Why do we not see Northern Exposure in syndication? I thought there were at least 100 episodes.
Thanks...

Alan Sepinwall said...

Why do we not see Northern Exposure in syndication? I thought there were at least 100 episodes.

It pops up on my Universal HD channel, but it's also pretty old. You don't see lots of reruns of other shows from that era by now, other than the ageless Law & Order (and even there, the repeats I stumble across tend to be of 21st century episodes).

flosh said...

thanks. that's too bad.

HMM2 said...

I don't recall ever seeing a comment by you about "The Unit." Do you not like the show?

Alan Sepinwall said...

The Unit's another one that I watch a lot but rarely have anything to blog about. You can read my handful of entries on it here.

I should add at this point that, in addition to the handy links on the righthand rail, you can search for other shows in the box on the top left of the page. It's not ideal, and Blogger reformatted itself a few years ago so that a search page, or a tags page, can only list so many entries and doesn't take you on to the next page (hence my having to tag the most popular shows by season), but I found those entries by just doing a search for "The Unit"

Ebeth said...

I just saw an ad for In Treatment on HBO yesterday. Do you think you'll follow it this season and do the weekly post like last time? Or are you going to skip it?

Chris said...

I've always wondered whey televisions shows don't have to list the songs they use to underscore the show or even feature prominently (like HIMYM) in the end credits like movies do.

Mo Ryan said...

Oh please, hope Alan blogs In Treatment. I'm guessing.... yes?

Anonymous said...

This may be WAY off topic for this space, but I thought this might be the perfect audience to finally answer a question of mine.

Does anyone know where to find raw Nielson ratings numbers? The only numbers I can ever find are listed by the AP and such, some websites have some network or overnight data. What I'm more interested in is an historical catalog of ratings for shows (kind of like looking up stock quotes for companies). I'd like to be able to track shows (such as Chuck, FNL) on my own and compare it to other shows and to itself over time to try and figure out which shows may/may not make it.

I've done some searching on the net but haven't stumbled across anything. Was wondering if it's because no one has bothered to set up a sight to keep track of the data, or if this info is not made available to the public regularly.

Thanks.

tut said...

Your thoughts on the Venture Bros.?

Joseph Aeneas Ciccarello said...

Anything on Martin Scorcese's supposed Atlantic City gangster show for HBO, Boardwalk Empire?

Zach Haldeman said...

Do you know if David Simon's New Orleans series is still in development?

Andrew said...

You don't see lots of reruns of other shows from that era by now, other than the ageless Law & Order (and even there, the repeats I stumble across tend to be of 21st century episodes).

That annoys the hell out of me by the way. Even thought TNT owns the rights to the whole series, they pretty much never air a Michael Moriarty episode except between 1 and 5 in the morning. How big of a difference can there be in the viewership of the older episodes versus the new ones?

Anything on Martin Scorcese's supposed Atlantic City gangster show for HBO, Boardwalk Empire?

Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, and Kelly MacDonald have been cast in the pilot. As far as I know, it hasn't yet been ordered to series, but I can't imagine that they won't based on name recognition alone. Then again they passed on Milch's show, so who's to say.

Do you know if David Simon's New Orleans series is still in development?

Last time I checked, the pilot is supposed to film in the next month (with Wendell Pierce, Clarke Peters, and Khandi Alexander in the cast), so it's definitely still in development.

Chris the TV Sage said...

I already fired a query over to ABC on this, and was waiting for an answer before I did a full blog post on it.

As always, you are the wind beneath my wings, Alan.

Steve said...

Bruce's European tour starts May 30. Conan's Tonight Show starts June 1. What do you think Max will do?

Anonymous said...

Mike F, The Shield was probably going to be my next big show to tackle. Word of advice: Don't read Mo Ryan's Battlestar Galactica thread - there's a spoiler there for the ending of The Shield.

Joseph Aeneas Ciccarello said...

Steve, there's a section of the Bruce cover story in the new rolling stone about that very question

Kenrick said...

Hi Alan - probably premature, but has there been any information on the Fables TV series being developed by ABC other than that one is in the works?

Donald said...

I just wanted to say that I love reading your blog, Alan. It's always really insightful.

Raychel said...

Since you're such a big fan of PTI (as am I), what is your favorite segment on the show? Also, do you find yourself saying "your boy" alot, or doing a version of the Penguin Dance?

Thanks for the Freaks and Geeks recaps :)

Steven Timberman said...

I just started watching The West Wing in all it's wonderful splendor. Is there any way I could find what you wrote about it while it was on the air? I tried hunting around for your top ten episodes list but found the Star Ledger's archive system to be a real nightmare to use.

Stef said...

Hey Alan, I had the surprisingly fun experience of hearing YOU on my commute to work this morning! I get the NPR Pop Culture podcast for my train ride, and there you were talking about FNL. Nice to put a voice to your, um, blog voice. :-)

Andrea said...

What a great read at the end of the day! Alan, did I miss your joy of the official end of Life According to Jim?
I too adore Chuck. But I have become anti disturbed by his sister. Why is it everytime she has a problem she works her way through a wine bottle? It seems like an easy choice to explain her hysteria.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Oh please, hope Alan blogs In Treatment. I'm guessing.... yes?

I'm gonna blog it in some form. I just don't know what form that'll be. It's a hard show to cover the way I normally write about series, for a few reasons:

1)Five episodes a week. Even though they'll be more clumped together, it's still a whole lotta stuff per week.

2)As a show about therapy and nothing but therapy, it more or less analyzes itself. I can weigh in from time to time on a particularly great performance (Glynn Turman, for instance), or on a character who isn't working for me (Laura), but giving it the full Mad Men treatment's sort of besides the point.

3)Knowing the way HBO sends stuff out, and how obsessed my wife and I were with the show last year, I imagine I'm going to wind up way, way ahead of the average viewer before the season even starts. And with a show that's about the subtle advancement of the therapy, that puts me at an unfair advantage in terms of leading the discussion.

Last year, I pretty much did nightly -- and then weekly -- open threads, and I would stop in to offer a stray comment here or there, and then did a post-mortem at the end. Unless someone has a better suggestion, that may be what I wind up doing here.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Your thoughts on the Venture Bros.?

Haven't watched it since the pilot, which I didn't love. The Adult Swim cartoons generally don't do much for me, and so I write them off pretty quickly. I keep hearing high praise of this one in particular, so maybe I should revisit it at some point.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Hi Alan - probably premature, but has there been any information on the Fables TV series being developed by ABC other than that one is in the works?

Not that I know of. I'm dubious about whether it can work. The material in the comics is a little too out there for ABC to be comfortable with (Goldilocks' relationship with the littlest bear, for instance), and once they get past the initial murder mystery, most of the remaining stories have key elements that would be too expensive and/or impractical to pull off on a TV series budget.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Since you're such a big fan of PTI (as am I), what is your favorite segment on the show? Also, do you find yourself saying "your boy" alot, or doing a version of the Penguin Dance?

Over/Under is fun because of how Tony likes to needle Wilbon for pushing so often. I ordinarily hate the Sportswriters Yelling at Each Other genre, but their obvious affection for one another makes it funny.

But my two absolute favorite PTI things don't involve Tony or Mike at all. One is whenever we hear Reali yelling something off-camera (either his "YOW!" catcall when Tony says something raunchy, or him loudly complaining about something), and the other is whenever Lebatard shows up and says "Bam!"

Simple pleasures, I know.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I just started watching The West Wing in all it's wonderful splendor. Is there any way I could find what you wrote about it while it was on the air? I tried hunting around for your top ten episodes list but found the Star Ledger's archive system to be a real nightmare to use.

Until I started the official Ledger version of my blog a couple of years ago, all my stories for the paper disappeared from the site after 14 days, so a special search is futile. To read my other West Wing stuff, I'd have to dig it out of our internal archives, reformat it, repost it, etc., and much as I was fond of that show (especially in the first two or three years), there are other columns that I'd rather spend the time unearthing than anything I wrote about TWW.

Shambala said...

wats ur fav season of the sopranos?

Matthew L said...

Knowing the way HBO sends stuff out, and how obsessed my wife and I were with the show last year, I imagine I'm going to wind up way, way ahead of the average viewer before the season even starts.

One thing I've always wondered, with shows that you watch well in advance, is why you don't write your blog posts as you watch them, and then just save them until they air. Although I can understand you not doing that (I imagine it's a huge amount of effort just keeping up with shows as they air without trying to bank posts for weeks later), it might be a solution to the problem about not revealing too much in your posts.

But then there are still the other problems that you raise.

Bobman said...

But my two absolute favorite PTI things don't involve Tony or Mike at all. One is whenever we hear Reali yelling something off-camera (either his "YOW!" catcall when Tony says something raunchy, or him loudly complaining about something), and the other is whenever Lebatard shows up and says "Bam!"

Simple pleasures, I know.


Really Alan? LeBetard? Gah.

I do love the off-camera things though. Especially when Tony or Mike says something really out there and you can hear the backstage guys (probably Reali) laugh out loud.

Oddsmakers has always been my favorite regular part of that show though, mostly because of all the group interaction with Tony, Wilbon and Reali. Though I do have to say they overdid the whole 'squadoosh' business so it got a tad old.

Adam said...

Hate LeBatard, love "your boy," love Trampoline Bear tremendously.

dez said...

I keep hearing high praise of this one in particular, so maybe I should revisit it at some point.


You definitely should. The Venture Bros. is wonderful and funny as hell, too.

Andrew said...

I quite like LeBatard on PTI. I've always loved the way that he gleefully embraces his "hateable" persona and tries to derail the various games on the show. Plus, so far as Tv sports pundits go, he strikes me as one of the smarter ones.

I also enjoy Oddsmakers because it seems designed to be intentionally stupid. For starters, they're not even giving odds. And secondly, they don't even attempt to give numbers that are even slightly reflective of the situation.

Antid Oto said...

Venture Brothers is brilliant, particularly if you watched cartoons during the late 70s/early 80s. Awesome sendups of one cartoon franchise after another.

Frisky Dingo was also pretty great, especially the second season, when Killface runs for President. Sadly it's gone forever now.

Craig Ranapia said...

Re: the Oscars - I think this is one of the worst Best Picture lineups of the decade, and I would have preferred WALL-E or The Dark Knight to some of the nominees.

Yeah, but couldn't you say that about every cetergory in every award show or prize going?

And personally, I'm wondering if The Dark Knight got hit with a backlash of its own creation. Especially with some fans who treated a best picture nomination as some kind of inevitibility, and anyone who thought otherwise was effectively pissing on a fresh grave.

Not that I know of. I'm dubious about whether it can work. The material in the comics is a little too out there for ABC to be comfortable with (Goldilocks' relationship with the littlest bear, for instance), and once they get past the initial murder mystery, most of the remaining stories have key elements that would be too expensive and/or impractical to pull off on a TV series budget.

Alan: Sadly, I probably agree with you re; Fables. I'd also suggest it's also a rather brutal, violent and morally ambiguous piece of work. Much more Brothers Very-Fraking-Grimm than Wonderful World of Disney. Like the glorious Pan's Labyrinth, it's a fairy tale definitely unsitable for children.

Anonymous said...

This summer, your series to recap should be Arrested Development. When I get bored and blow through the series in a week, it would be nice to read your episode by episode thoughts as I do.

Gish said...

Most Adult Swim originals are stoner cartoons. Venture Brothers is the exception, although I agree the pilot was week. Check out Season 2, Episode 11 "Viva Los Muertes" It is written by Ben Edlund, absolutely brilliant.

My question is: Are you familiar with the version of the Midnight Run theme with lyrics called Try To Believe? Are you a fan?

Norgard said...

(Y the Last Man was on that list until it ended.)

No love for Ex Machina? I think it's not quite as good as Y the Last Man -- like Lost the mystery drags its feet, and there's too much traditional comic book silliness in the middle section -- but overall I'd say it's still a decent series, particularly when they focus on the political aspects.

A more general question: why do American shows almost never show the episode title on-screen? A lot of science fiction does it (the Star Treks, Stargates, Farscape) and John Wells productions do, but they're definitely in the minority. It just seems like a waste considering the work that must go into creating clever titles.

That annoys the hell out of me by the way. Even thought TNT owns the rights to the whole series, they pretty much never air a Michael Moriarty episode except between 1 and 5 in the morning. How big of a difference can there be in the viewership of the older episodes versus the new ones?

The Moriarty episodes are a lot more low key than the 21st century stuff. Often it's just some dude who killed some other dude over some stuff, with nary a sex scandal or last minute super-duper surprise twist in sight. For my money, the Moriarty episodes (and maybe the first one or two Waterston seasons) are far superior to the later stuff, so I wouldn't be surprised if fans of the current generation feel the same way about the older episodes.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Really Alan? LeBetard? Gah.

I briefly explained my fondness for LeBatard here.

Frankly, there are weeks where I prefer LeBatard/Tony or LeBatard/Mike to Tony/Mike. He definitely knows more about sports than either one of them do (though Tony's ignorance is part of the joke, I know) and his willingness to be contrary while still clearly getting along with both of them keeps the show funny.

Alan Sepinwall said...

wats ur fav season of the sopranos?

1, then 7 (or 6b, if you prefer), then 5, then 6 (or 6a).

Alan Sepinwall said...


One thing I've always wondered, with shows that you watch well in advance, is why you don't write your blog posts as you watch them, and then just save them until they air. Although I can understand you not doing that (I imagine it's a huge amount of effort just keeping up with shows as they air without trying to bank posts for weeks later), it might be a solution to the problem about not revealing too much in your posts.


You've answered your own question. It's simply not practical, especially since I try to watch as much as is available of shows in order to inform my initial column, and I often have a limited window in which to do that. If I stopped to write blog entries after every episode (or even after every five), I'd never get anything else done, nor would I get through them all in time to give it a proper write-up in the paper.

Alan Sepinwall said...

it's a fairy tale definitely unsitable for children.

Yeah, my daughter's going through the inevitable Disney princess phase right now, and I keep having to move my Fables collection to a higher shelf, because God help me if she comes across some of this stuff.

Alan Sepinwall said...

This summer, your series to recap should be Arrested Development. When I get bored and blow through the series in a week, it would be nice to read your episode by episode thoughts as I do.

Arrested, much as I love it, doesn't lend itself that well to the summer rewind format. They'd all wind up like some of my thinner "30 Rock" reviews, where I just list stuff that was funny.

Plus, I still owe people those "Sports Night" reviews I've been promising forever, and I need to do season two of "The Wire," and those two should more than keep me occupied.

Alan Sepinwall said...

No love for Ex Machina? I think it's not quite as good as Y the Last Man -- like Lost the mystery drags its feet, and there's too much traditional comic book silliness in the middle section -- but overall I'd say it's still a decent series, particularly when they focus on the political aspects.

I followed it for a while, but it's one of several that I realized I didn't miss when I didn't immediately get around to buying the latest collection. Given both the economy and my free time (or lack thereof), a title's gotta be really special in some way for me to stick with it.

Anonymous said...

From Jan:

Alan, as a “Brotherhood” fan, I’d be interested to know when you find out anything about the show. The last show of this season was brilliant.

And I’m hoping a “Middleman” DVD set comes out soon. I missed one of the episodes, and it was never repeated again. That was such a fun show.

I wish you had posted more about “Skins” along the way. I, too, had some episodes I hadn’t seen on my DVR, but the way BBC America listed the content, I thought I had seen some that I hadn’t. So I missed two crucial episodes. Now I’ve got it on series recording, and I’m hoping to pick them up at some point, but it would have been better to see them in order. I often wondered because the summary listed on my TV didn’t seem to fit what I saw in the episodes themselves. Did you find that to be the case? Anyway, at least the DVD of Season 1 is out, and Season 2 comes out in April (already pre-ordered).

Re the Oscar nominations: I hope “Slumdog Millionaire” wins it. I just love that movie. And seeing Dev Patel from “Skins” in a completely different type of role was great. I haven’t seen all of the contenders, so I can’t speak for some of them, but while I thought Heath Ledger’s performance in “Dark Knight” was great, I found Batman’s growly, weird voice very off-putting. I wouldn’t consider the movie as a whole a best picture contender.

As far as the SAG awards went, I really didn’t think Hugh Laurie should have won this year. I’ve sort of given up on the show. He’s a good actor, but the story lines are pretty much always the same—and I don’t care for Chase and Cameron OR the newbies. I thought Jon Hamm would have been a better choice or Michael C. Hall. Unfortunately, my DVR is not working properly, so somehow I managed to miss an entire hour of the awards.

Guess I don’t really have a question right this minute (I wish I could think of the ones I’ve thought of in the past!), but I did have some thoughts about old posts—“Brotherhood,” “Middleman,” and “Skins,” so I’m glad you’re doing these open posts from time to time. I never miss your postings, and the people who write comments seem unusually thoughtful and intelligent, so your blog is a pleasure to read. Thanks.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I often wondered because the summary listed on my TV didn’t seem to fit what I saw in the episodes themselves. Did you find that to be the case?

Yeah, there was a lot of confusion among the listings services between various episodes with the same title. So the description for the first "Jal" would instead deal with events from the second "Jal," that sort of thing.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Oh, and I interviewed the "Skins" co-creator, Jamie Brittain, when I was at press tour, and will have a write-up of that close to when the new series debuts.

Anonymous said...

From Jan:

Thanks for the info Alan. I'll look forward to the posting on the new "Skins."

Anonymous said...

Why do you think Kings was moved to Sunday and Southland put in the Thursday 10 PM slot?
Was there a Southland preview during the TCA?

Peter said...

So Pettitte is back and the rotation is finally complete. With all the players the Yankees have brought in how do you see them doing this season?

SC said...

Hey Alan,
One of the shows I wish you could have blogged about "back in the day" is Twin Peaks....I know you have your summer series set for this year, but was wondering if you were a Peaks fan and what you thought about all the symbolism in there? It was a hard one to figure out most times.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Why do you think Kings was moved to Sunday and Southland put in the Thursday 10 PM slot?
Was there a Southland preview during the TCA?


They did a session for it and showed clips, but I haven't seen anything like a full pilot.

As for the Kings/Southland switch, it had something to do with a complicated deal with John Wells, who produces Southland and who agreed to (or asked for) three more episodes of ER.

Again, it's best not to try to understand the logic of most NBC moves these days. I'm sure it makes sense to someone internally, but there aren't enough clues for us in the real world to play along.

Alan Sepinwall said...

So Pettitte is back and the rotation is finally complete. With all the players the Yankees have brought in how do you see them doing this season?

Beats the hell out of me. Can Posada still catch? If not, do we have anyone better than Jose Molina to throw out there every day? Who's the center fielder? Can Cano rebound, or have pitchers figured him out?

Lotta question marks, even with the huge payroll. But the Tex signing made me very happy.

Kaiser said...

Alan, do you have any updates on the George R.R. Martin book series, A Song of Ice and Fire being converted to seasonal shows on HBO? Last I heard we were supposed to see something in 2009. Wondering if it's still in the works. I read the first book, A Game of Thrones and it felt like the the Sopranos in Middle Earth.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Kaiser, never read GRRM, so no opinion. Friends of mine are big fans, though. I read very little pure sci-fi and/or fantasy books.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Okay, we're almost at the 24 hour mark, so I'll take a couple more before shutting it down for another week or two.

dez said...

Frisky Dingo was also pretty great, especially the second season, when Killface runs for President. Sadly it's gone forever now.

Aw, crud!

Alan, hate to tell you, but the Disney princess phase of childhood lasts for years. Many years. Way longer than the Barney phase, even. Hope you enjoy it :-)

Anonymous said...

From what little you saw of Southland, what is your impression? Is there a positive "buzz" for it, or just wishful thinking on the part of NBC?

Alan Sepinwall said...

In the interest of full disclosure, I was out of the room doing an interview when they showed the "Southland" clip reel, so I have no impression of it.

And that wraps up this round of Q&A. We'll try this again either next week, or maybe in two weeks to let the questions build up again.

Anonymous said...

ALL TV: Christmas in the West Wing
ALAN SEPINWALL
Star-Ledger Staff
December 15, 1999

WEST WING " creator Aaron Sorkin is the best kind of puppet master. He lets you see your heartstrings as he tugs at them, but it still works. He's Capra-esque in his shamelessness; "The West Wing " can be just as corny and transparent as "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," and just as entertaining.

Tonight's Christmas episode (9 p.m., Channel 4) doesn't fail to pull out all the stops, including a passel of smiling elementary schoolers, a slow-witted homeless man, a horrifying story about a gay-bashed teenager and a tear-jerking story about twin brothers who died in Vietnam, all culminating in a military funeral set to a choral version of "The Little Drummer Boy."

On a weekly basis, "The West Wing" takes cheap ideas like those and elevates them to something special, thanks to a perfectly drawn cast of characters and some very specific writing.

Martin Sheen has rightly gotten acclaim as the president, whom he often plays as a scholarly uncle who finally has the power to make everyone listen to his lectures on national parks and Greek mythology. (The success of the show, which casually references deep thinkers like scientific author Stephen Jay Gould, gives new hope to the idea of erudition in prime time.) But this is truly an ensemble, and one of the best in recent memory.

Richard Schiff gives the clich of the idealistic speechwriter new life by playing him with the sad eyes of a man whose ideals have been betrayed yet who keeps on fighting for them. Rob Lowe and Bradley Whitford give morally questionable layers to their handsome heroes, and the divine Allison Janney has been a revelation as the press secretary who has defined herself through her work and can't figure out whether she should date nice-guy reporter Timothy Busfield.

The only cast member who doesn't seem to be fitting in is Moira Kelly as a political consultant; either she or the producers need to decide whether her character's supposed to be a pragmatist or simply self-involved.

Sorkin doesn't shy away from issues, and while the show has a decided liberal bent - it's about a Democratic administration, after all - he always gives weight to the other side of the spectrum. When one character tonight insists the administration needs to pass legislation against hate crimes, another convincingly argues that if we start policing people based on thoughts, we open up a very uncomfortable legal can of worms.

There have been more thoughtful dramas in recent memory, as well as more emotionally satisfying ones, but few have combined the two as brilliantly as "The West Wing." It's easily the best new show of the season, and until "The Sopranos" returns next month, it may be the best show on television. - A.S.

Pamela Jaye said...

My question in the free for all is - when is Dancing with the Stars usually on (months)? and when do they announce who the stars will be?

I ask because Donny Osmond (oh, stop laughing) said he's "seriously considering it" and I would have thought by now it would have been a yes or no.

I really don't watch DWTS but would for Donny, Scott or, I'll admit, Josh Groban (he's cute, even if he's what? 27?)

Brendan McCarthy said...

Re: Lance Reddick.

Was he not in the premiere of lost? Wasn't that him as a "detective" at Hurley's house?

Anonymous said...

@ Brendan: No.

Pamela Jaye said...

(hence my having to tag the most popular shows by season)

and let me just say thanks again for that.

I'm headed for season 3 of HIMYM any day now. (and someday, Grey's, Chuck, and I've already done this with season 4 of House and possibly season 1 of Mad Men - I can't remember. i can't imagine i took that much time - considering the number of comments, but i think i did)