Monday, January 05, 2009

While you were out...

Since a lot of you were gone for some or all of the stretch from Christmas Eve until now, I thought I'd do a quick run-down of all the posts from the last week and a half:
  • I announced my list of the best shows and best episodes of 2008;
  • I expressed surprise that USA was letting the unsold pilot for "To Love & Die" see the light of day (I only got to watch 20 minutes of it, but the consensus seemed to be that it deserved to fail);
  • I linked to pure evil;
  • I then became pure evil in vaguely discussing the first two episodes of "Lost" season five;
  • I memorialized some of the notable TV people who died in 2008 (and the commenters chimed in with some names I didn't have room for);
  • I plugged Travel Channel's gluttonous and good "Man v. Food";
  • I warned people about the potential Viacom/Time-Warner apocalypse (as with many of these things, it didn't come to pass);
  • I expressed my optimism about the state of television in 2009 versus what happened in 2008 (the commenters were split in their own take on the future);
  • I discussed the latest episode of "Leverage";
  • I resumed my pure evilness in briefly discussing the "Battlestar Galactica" premiere, and only then remembered that I should publish the transcript of the interview I did with Ron Moore back in July;
  • I expressed my ignorance about Steven Moffat's choice of 26-year-old Matt Smith as the new lead on "Doctor Who."
  • I reviewed the new ABC incarnation of "Scrubs."
Only two days until the January press tour. Lots to do.

UPDATE: There have been a few requests in the comments for me to start a weekly open thread for people to ask questions or discuss things that don't have a place in more specific posts. We're going to give it a try here today and see how it goes.

45 comments:

Rev/Views said...

"I expressed my ignorance about Steven Moffat's choice of 26-year-old Matt Smith as the new lead on "Doctor Who."

I think we pretty much all did, the most damning moment for me was when I checked his imdb entry and thought "I've watched three of the things he was in and I have no recollection of him at all."

But I'll hold judgement on the lad until those few post regeneration moments.

Dan said...

Sorry for being off topic, but I thought with this being a neutral post, I could possibly get a question answered.

I am currently watching The West Wing for the first time and am about done with season 2. I've noticed that Timothy Busfield's character, Danny Concannon, has pretty much disappeared after being a fixture for all of season 1 and the first half of season 2. Does anyone know why his character suddenly stopped appearing in episodes? I checked IMDB.com and see that he'll be back for about 8 episodes or so....but he takes about a 2 year+ hiatus.

Anyways, thanks! I couldn't be happier with my 'The West Wing' "box set"!

Michael said...

Alan, how about a weekly open-topic post so we can discuss something without hijacking another thread? I had a HIMYMathon over the holiday but figured nobody would want to discuss it on a Dr. Who post.

Word verification: "ently", which describes how trees move.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan, how about a weekly open-topic post so we can discuss something without hijacking another thread?

Not a bad idea. Consider this that for the week.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I checked his imdb entry and thought "I've watched three of the things he was in and I have no recollection of him at all."

Thanks to the wonders of On Demand, I was able to rewatch his Secret Diary of a Call Girl appearance this morning. So at least now I've seen him act, albeit in a small, undemanding role.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Does anyone know why his character suddenly stopped appearing in episodes?

Tim Busfield was busy producing and directing "Ed," which was filming in New Jersey, from 2001-2003.

Anonymous said...

Alan, did you watch the last 2 episodes of Brotherhood. They were fire.

And why did the SCi-Fi Cahnnel make it so difficult to watch Battlestar Galactica on dvd. I watched the mini-series first and then the first season and then it gets very complicated with lots os split seasons.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan, did you watch the last 2 episodes of Brotherhood.

Nope. I put in nearly two years of waiting for that show to become something more than a collection of good performances in search of a story. If it got better in season three, that's great, but I don't have the time or interest to backtrack on the episodes I missed in order to get to the alleged good stuff.

max_h said...

hi Alan, you mentioned in your replies to one of the comments in the Ron Moore interview thread that very few shows are mapped out from the beginning to the end, and cited "The Wire" and "Babylon 5" as some of the more notable examples. We know how much you love the former, but I was just wondering how you feel about "Babylon 5"? Is that a show you look forward to each week when it was on?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Watched very little B5, actually. A lot of it aired when I was in college and not watching much TV, and when I've had an opportunity to try to play catch-up on DVD, I've been turned off by the acting and some of the pacing. I'm told those two things eventually got better, but I frankly don't have the time and don't like JMS' writing in other mediums enough to slog through the early growing pains. And this is a show where you have to watch it all, obviously.

dark tyler said...

His Top Cow stuff was ace, actually, but other than that I'm right there with you.

Anonymous said...

I have a question. I just found out next week is the Golden Globes. But it looks like all the networks are running original episodes (including the premiere of 24.) Don't they usually pre-empt stuff when there's a big awards show? Do you think the networks are expecting cable to clean up at the awards and that's why they don't care if people don't watch them?

Anonymous said...

I know you don't watch Brothers & Sisters, but on last night's episode Calista Flockhart's character said she had interviews with The Times, The Tribune, and The Star-Ledger. I thought that was a nice Jersey shout-out.

Anonymous said...

Alan,
Any idea if and or when Curb Your Enthusiasm is coming back? I have heard rumors about it's return, but nothing substantiated.
Thanks

Anonymous said...

Curb is coming back sometime this year, probably in the September area. They've already started filming the new season.

Ed said...

Alan, Thanks for pointing out Mav v. Food. I loved it and I want a Primanti sandwich right now!

LA said...

I know you don't watch Brothers & Sisters, but on last night's episode Calista Flockhart's character said she had interviews with The Times, The Tribune, and The Star-Ledger. I thought that was a nice Jersey shout-out.

I caught that, too. She's from Medford, I believe.

Alan, have you heard anything about Matthew Weiner's contract negotiations, and if not, I respectfully submit that perhaps that's a topic you can probe on the press tour?

BF said...

a friendly tip for Dan: as soon as you get to "Crime ... boy I don't know...", go ahead and shut it down (or at least downgrade your expectations). Everything that happens after (save for the last few moments of "Commencement") pales in comparison to those first few brilliant seasons.

Anonymous said...

how awesome is it that NPH is hosting SNL on 1/10?

pgillan said...

Hah! "Crime... Boy, I don't know..." was awesome. I was going to suggest that you were short-changing that season, but then I looked and saw that that was actually the last episode of Season 3. The alternate high point I was going to suggest was "...sewing soccer balls with their teeth", but the episodes between them weren't spectacular, so I think you may have hit it just right, despite the brilliance of the debate itself.

Altogether, though, I think the show redeemed itself fairly well in the last season, especially in light of the election we just had.

Anna said...

Last night I caught the pilots for both St. Elsewhere and LA Law. I had watched LA Law religiously but St. Elsewhere was slightly before my time. I'm going to get the DVDs.

Alan, are there any shows that you wished you had watched?

Pamela Jaye said...

Where did you gt to see the pilots? I have season 1 of St.E. alas, it's the only one released.

Alan, thanks for the recap and the open thread. I still haven't read the comments on the last Chuck and HIMYM!
(i was "out" a week before everyone lse.

Safe travels to LA. Bring back goodies! ;-)

SCRUBS again - ABC's website/forums has a 45 page thread (so far) of Q&A with Bill Lawrence - ongoing since November. I just found out last night. Did yoy know?

There is also an Ask Scrubs to submit a question, but Bill is On The Boards! (take *that* Shonda!)

Haven't read all comments but we just got TWW set too. I missed Danny a lot. I think he was producing, directing or something. Someone has likely already answered.

Ask Bill is here
Apologies it this was already pointed out.

Tosy And Cosh said...

Like Tony Soprano, Flockhart also went to Rutgers, Go RU!

Anna said...

St Elsewhere and LA Law (and Hill Street Blues) play on the American Life channel. I think you can get season one of St Elsewhere on Hulu.

Anonymous said...

Ed,

I did not see man v. food, but if the Primanti sandwich is what I think it is you need to stop thinking about it right now. Its cole slaw and french fries on a sandwich and it may be intriguing but actually tastes worse than it sounds. Its just a crummy diner (actually several crummy diners, or as they say in the rest of the world- a chain). And one of the things about food shows on TV is that you can't actually taste the food. And no one ever tells you its not very good.

Anonymous said...

Alan, when are you going to mention that Richard Belzer interview with David Chase!? I am shocked since you're known as the King of all things Sopranos. Here is the relevant excerpt:

Belzer: I was working with Steve Schirripa recently, we were judging 'Last Coming Standing' for NBC and we were talking about a lot of things and he was saying he heard all of these theories for the show that had nothing to do with your intention and wasn’t anything the actors thought, like little hints along the way, like a word, like when Tony and Steve are on the boat at the lake and they say “‘you never know its gonna happen” or “you never know its gonna hit you”…

Chase: That was part of the ending.

Belzer: Oh, it was? see, what do I know? Were there other things in previous episodes that were hints towards it?

Chase: There was that and there was a shooting which Silvio was a witness, well he wasn’t a witness, he was eating dinner with a couple of hookers and with some other guy and there was some visual stuff that went on there which sort of amplified Tony’s remarks to Baccala about you know “you don’t know its happened” or “you won’t know it happened when it hits you”. That’s about it.

Find the interview here:
http://premium.airamerica.com/BelzerandDavidChase

Happy new year!

Steve Ely said...

Anonymous at 7:40 may hate the sandwiches at Primanti Bros., but a great many of us feel otherwise. I hadn't eaten one until I moved to Pgh in 2006 (for about a year), and I discovered they're actually better than they sound. I would never eat the cole slaw I saw when I was growing up, but the stuff they put on the sandwiches is significantly different, and it works. Fries and tomatoes (also standard) work well on it, too. (Menu here.) Being in some ways thrifty, I usually opted for the double egg & cheese.

Of course, everything has someone who dislikes it, but don't rely on Anon's condemnation of Primanti Bros. If you have the opportunity, I definitely recommend trying one of their sandwiches. (Also, they've got some good beers in the locations I'd frequent.)

Ridiculous to count their multiple locations around Pittsburgh against them, too, as the 7:40 commenter seems to. [Oh my God, they're a....chain! Nooo!!] They started in the Strip District, and if they didn't expand, I'd never have been able to enjoy them in Oakland or downtown at Market Square.

pgillan said...

...if [Primanti Bros.] didn't expand, I'd never have been able to enjoy them in Oakland or downtown at Market Square.

Dammit, Steve, you got me all excited for a second when you said "Oakland." I'm in the SF Bay Area, and I rarely have the opportunity to try any of the weird, subcultural foods I hear about in the rest of the country. I would have driven an hour to try a cole-slaw/french fry sandwich.

Kensington said...

Re St. Elsewhere, American Life TV is currently airing the second half of the fourth season. The show was still very much first rate at that point. In fact, the only place it ever bogs down a bit is in season 5. Also there have been rumors that there will be a St. Elsewhere full-series DVD set sometime this year. The first season didn't sell very well, so they decided not to release anymore individual seasons, but apparently think there might be some profit in doing the whole shebang. I'll buy it (if I ever get another job again, that is).

Re Babylon 5. For what it's worth Alan. The growing pains of the show's beginning do not last long. I'd say that it gets pretty compelling by the midpoint of season 1. Seasons 2 and 3, further, are marvelous stuff. That's all I've seen so far.

Finally, thanks to Anonymous for that stuff about David Chase and Richard Belzer. I was happy to read that!

Alan Sepinwall said...

lso there have been rumors that there will be a St. Elsewhere full-series DVD set sometime this year. The first season didn't sell very well,

Of course it didn't sell well. It stinks -- by St. Elsewhere standards, at least. That was the year when David Birney was allegedly the star, when the writers hadn't yet figured out that the show worked best when it focused on either the residents or the senior docs, when they would turn large chunks of episodes over the guest stars (notably the one that won Emmys for both Doris Roberts and James Coco), etc.

I'm a hard-core St. Elsewhere fan, and even I wouldn't want to own most of those episodes.

RSR said...

So with the new open thread option I figured this would be a good place to ask whether or not you are still watching "Bones." I know you did a few reviews of it last season and at the beginning of this season but nothing since then. I just got into the show when I received the first few seasons for the holidays and was wondering if you were still watching or not?

Hope you had a great holiday and new year!

Alan Sepinwall said...

Lost interest in "Bones" as time conflicts (both in the timeslot and on the DVR) piled up. Probably the kind of show I'll pick up again in the summer when a lot of what I like is in reruns or on hiatus.

Kate said...

Alan,

Did you drop Prison Break entirely? This season is the best since the first

Kensington said...

"Of course it didn't sell well. It stinks -- by St. Elsewhere standards, at least."

Oh, no, that's far too strong a condemnation, Alan. No, the first season isn't as good as the rest of the series, but it hardly stinks. The first season had, for example, emmy-nominated (emmy winning?) guest performances by James Coco and Doris Roberts and an outstanding two parter about a Legionnaire's outbreak at the hospital.

Even David Birney was better than usual, and the focus left him very quickly regardless because the other actors and characters were so interesting. Plus, even if one hates David Birney, the focus left him very quickly, pretty early on. By season's end, it was quite clear he wasn't the main character.

In further evidence of its quality, NBC kept it going in spite of lousy ratings because even in the first season it was critically acclaimed, and for good reason.

Not trying to pick a fight, but I'd hate to see someone turned away from buying the DVD based on the uncontested notion that it stinks. It's really quite good, heads above most of what else was going on.

Kensington said...

I realize that you, too, brought up Coco and Roberts, but I think you're mistaken if you think that St. Elsewhere ever abandoned giving large chunks to occasional guest stars. From Blythe Danner to Edward Hermann, guest stars were regularly getting juicy storylines throughout the run.

Randy said...

Hey Alan,

In the spirit of the open thread question, I *finally* watched Jekyll and while I was blown away by the first half, I was bothered by some elements of the second (the marginalization of Michele Ryan's character) and completely let down by the shocker ending, which seemed to raise a ton of important, never-to-be-answered questions about why the organization needed Hyde in the first place.

Sorry for the vagueness, trying to avoid spoilers. But at any rate, two questions: 1) Was there going to be a second series that might have explored this further, explaining the non-ending 2) Did you see any interesting discussion of the completed Jekyll anywhere you can point me to? I followed all the comments on your write-ups, of course, but the discussion disappeared pretty quickly, and the link to your interview with Moffat, sadly, doesn't work anymore.

Whew. I promise not to be that long-winded here again for quite a while.

HautieTx said...

In the spirit of this being an open thread...

I am curious if there has been any word yet from ABC, if they will be airing the final 3 episode's of Pushing Daisies this month.

Michael said...

I hope you keep the weekly open thread, it seems to be popular today.

So anyway, due to seeing you discuss "How I Met Your Mother" here, I borrowed a co-workers set of DVDs from all three seasons, and watched the entire show to date over the break.

It was legen - and I hope you're not lactose intolerant because the next part is - dary.

Over the course of 7 days, I watched 3-1/2 seasons: 75 episodes, plus the 19 episodes that had audio commentary (so I watched them twice, once without, then once with), all of the deleted scenes, 2 music videos, 3 blooper reels, 3 "behind the scenes" features, and various clips that had been seen on the internet. Then I had to download the 11 episodes from this season to date since they're not on cbs.com.

Then, after each episode, I came back here to read the commentary.

Note to CBS: I'm sorry, but how am I supposed to watch the episodes (with your ads) if you don't put them online? You're forcing me to find them via other means.

The "mythology" holds up very well when watching so many back to back, there are plenty of callbacks that I'm sure I would have missed otherwise.

The worst part of doing this over the Christmas break is that we're only halfway into the season and I have to wait like normal people for the rest.

Dan said...

@Randy. Jekyll was intended to be a one-off mini-series, although Moffat did inform the BBC he has an idea for a follow-up. Sadly, given the fact he's now Doctor Who's new showrunner, I doubt he'll have the time to commit to writing a sequel series.

It's been awhile since I saw it, but was there a "non-ending"? Foreshadowing of his kid's role in a sequel and silly shock-end are all I remember. The rest was pretty much tied-up, wasn't it?

Alan Sepinwall said...

I realize that you, too, brought up Coco and Roberts, but I think you're mistaken if you think that St. Elsewhere ever abandoned giving large chunks to occasional guest stars. From Blythe Danner to Edward Hermann, guest stars were regularly getting juicy storylines throughout the run.

True, guest stars got great roles later on, but it was rarely at the expense of the regular cast to the extent that it was with "Cora and Arnie," or another early season one episode that followed home that couple who found out their unborn baby was likely to have Down syndrome.

I'm friendly with several people who worked on the show for most of its run, and even they'll admit that they didn't really figure out what they were doing until very late in that first season, and not really until the following year.

Growing up, I think I started watching around the fourth season. When a local station started rerunning the series from the beginning a few years later, it was shocking how different that first year was from the rest, not just in its focus on characters who wouldn't last (Samuels, Beale, Cavanero) but its overall narrative style.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Okay, and that's it for Q&A this week. (I have to limit it to one day or I'd never get anything done.) Anybody who wants to express an opinion, feel free, but save up any other questions for me until next week (though I'll be at press tour and my time will be more limited).

Anonymous said...

It's been awhile since I saw it, but was there a "non-ending"? Foreshadowing of his kid's role in a sequel and silly shock-end are all I remember. The rest was pretty much tied-up, wasn't it?

It was, but I thought those two things were left dangling in a particularly unpleasant manner.

The thing with the kids was hinted at early on, dropped midway through and then showed up again at the end, and what exactly it meant was left unclear. Again, if there were a sequel at some point, I think it's perfectly reasonable to leave it where it was, but if this is the end, it seems like a little more clarity (to the audience, if not the parents) as to what exactly the deal was would have been nice.

But my main problem was definitely the silly shock ending. Again, dancing around spoilers, but if they had her the whole time, why couldn't they get whatever they wanted from her instead of Hyde? And if she wanted to keep her secret, couldn't she have tracked down and captured Hyde in a much easier fashion than by inventing this massive organization? It just seemed to raise a lot more questions than was worth the last "gotcha" moment, and it almost wrecked the whole show for me.

Randy said...

Sorry, my mouse clicked and left that last post as "anonymous." It's me responding to Dan.

Anthony Foglia said...

Re Babylon 5, Alan, you can definitely skip a lot of the first season. I didn't start watching it until about halfway through the second season, maybe even later. I was in college and had friends who were big enough fans to learn some by osmosis, but if you want, you can just stick to the "Wham!" episodes (See the Lurker's Guide list) or honestly, you probably just need to see either the pilot movie or the first episode, "Signs and Portents" and the season finale from the first season, then the Wham! episodes from the second season with the guide handy to fill in any questions you have, and you'll be fine.

Steve Ely said...

Ha. If pgillan's still reading, you're precisely the reason I put in that link to the Wiki page about the Pgh neighborhood. I'm so glad I did.

Your life'll be improved by a visit to Pittsburgh, anyway. Just make sure you put Primantis' on the list of things to do while there.