Wednesday, May 13, 2009

In the news: Chuck, Party Down and Lie to Me

I'm on lunch break from an all-day training session for our new computer system, so just pointers to a few recent TV developments:

• Jon Stewart made a Save "Chuck" reference at the end of this segment on last night's "Daily Show." (Insert obligatory reminder about the No Politics rule.) In terms of the actual status of "Chuck," which will be made official one way or the other on May 19, the trades are all suggesting that renewal chances look good, so I'm hopeful.

• Starz announced the renewal of "Party Down," which is great. I'm working on a column for Friday's paper that will incorporate parts of the interviews I've done with Rob Thomas and John Enbom about the show. One thing to note: the press release says five of the six castmembers will be back, but doesn't list Jane Lynch. That's because in the interim, she signed on to be a regular castmember on Fox's "Glee," and Fox now has contractual first position on her. There's still a chance they might make her available to do "Party Down," but that's an unknown at this point. (Lynch also doesn't appear in the final two "Party Down"s of the season, as they were filmed at the same time as the "Glee" pilot.)

• Fox, whose upfront will be on Monday, has started making a few pick-ups, including Mark Valley's "Human Target" and the comedy "Sons of Tuscon," plus a renewal of "Lie to Me" with "The Shield" creator Shawn Ryan as the new showrunner. I stopped watching "Lie to Me" after a couple of episodes because, while I liked Tim Roth, I felt like I had already seen every episode the series was ever going to do. Hopefully, Ryan can shake things up a bit.

43 comments:

Eric said...

The notable thing about the Sons of Tuscon pick up is that since it stars Tyler Labine it probable means Reaper is extremely dead. The premise also sounds like what Fox probably wanted "Arrested Development" to be:

"Tucson" then is a single-camera comedy about a charming but misguided hustler (Tyler Labine) hired by three brothers (Davis Cleveland, Frank Dolce and Troy Gentile) to act as their rich "father" while their real one serves time for a white-collar crime. Greg Bratman and Tommy Dewey co-created the half-hour, which is set up at 20th Century Fox Television. Natalie Martinez also stars while Todd Holland directed the pilot. Harvey Myman, Jason Felts and Justin Berfield of J2TV are the executive producers with Bratman and Dewey serving as supervising producers.

Sean said...

I worry that the similarities between Human Target and Dollhouse do not bode well for Dollhouse's renewal. ... Or maybe Fox sees a natural evening's line-up by running them back-to-back.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't help but notice that article also said that a ninth season of Scrubs was looking more and more likely, including possible guest appearances by Zack Braff.

As for Tyler Labine on "Sons of Tucson," I was under the impression that his contract for that show was secondary to a Reaper pick-up, no?

Mo Ryan said...

Wow, Shawn Ryan working on Lie to Me? That'll make the show worth checking out again next season.

I should be posting a Jane Lynch interview Friday. She said she really wants to do both Glee and Party Down, but those negotiations are just starting between Fox and Starz. But she called Party Down "the most fun [she's] ever had" on a job and she really wants to come back.

So Cal said...

I have really enjoyed Lie to Me as the season has gone on. Roth is so good in the role, and while teh side characters could be a bit more fleshed out, it is still very good.

With Ryan running the show next year, i'm expecting big things!

Ariadne said...

My fingers are still crossed for "Chuck".

"Lie To Me" is one of the few shows that has a realistic scientific basis (none of the medical shows do since ER ended) so I enjoy watching it for that aspect but recently they've started to go down the shipping path (especially in terms of Lightman/Foster) so I hope the new showrunner will put a quick end to that.

I think the Fox show that most needs a new showrunner to get it back on track in House. Losing 25% of their audience this season means they can no longer continue to count on it saving the night.

Karen said...

Heh--I saw that bit on the Daily Show and thought of you immediately, Alan. It was nice. It even seemed sincere.

Andrew said...

So if Glee is in first position with Lynch right now, then wouldn't have Party Down have been in first position with her when it was still actually filming? And if so, why would they even let her go film another pilot if there's a good chance it would lead to her being unavailable for a next season? It seems kind of odd.

dark tyler said...

Shawn Ryan on 'Lie to Me'?! It's going to be good but.. what a waste of talent.

ChuckNut said...

Chuck fans are still at it -- not only to get the show renewed, but to increase viewers in the hoped-for third season and to prove to advertisers that they are a receptive, interactive and heavily engaged group that is product loyal. The latest effort is the Have a Heart -- Renew Chuck AHA Campaign, where fans are donating to Subway's partner charity. In just one week fans have raised over $13,000! More information is at http://weheartchuck.blogspot.com/

Alan Sepinwall said...

So if Glee is in first position with Lynch right now, then wouldn't have Party Down have been in first position with her when it was still actually filming? And if so, why would they even let her go film another pilot if there's a good chance it would lead to her being unavailable for a next season? It seems kind of odd.

All the Party Down actors were signed to one-year contracts, which helped them get this cast but also left the show vulnerable to something like this happening. Lynch wasn't under contract when she signed to be a Glee cast regular.

Anonymous said...

Treme has been picked up.

http://www.deadlinehollywooddaily.com/hbo-picks-up-pilot-from-the-wire-writers/

Andrew said...

All the Party Down actors were signed to one-year contracts, which helped them get this cast but also left the show vulnerable to something like this happening. Lynch wasn't under contract when she signed to be a Glee cast regular.Oh, I know about the one-year contracts. What I was curious about was you saying that she was allowed to miss two episodes to film the Glee pilot. That seems like something that even a one-year contract could prevent. I mean if you're signed for the season, then you're signed for the season, right?

Anonymous said...

I am sure Glee, being a network show, pays her more and gives her more exposure. While the Party Down folks could probably be dicks about it, I think there is an understanding that she needs to do what is best for her. As long as she is on friendly terms with the shworunners and producers, I think they will want to help her succeed however they can.

Besides, if they are dicks about it, she won't come back for another season.

Anonymous said...

Alan,

As this is a hodge-podge column, I noticed on your twitter site you mentioned looking back at Prison Break posts. Any chance of a send-off column with the series finale on Friday?

Alan Sepinwall said...

I was revisiting "Prison Break" to write just such a column, which will be running tomorrow.

Mike F said...

Seems to me they can easily replace the Lynch character...she's pretty one-note and I think they've already done most of what they can do with her...

Glad its her and not any of the others...its a really good show...

Stephanie said...

Thanks so much for the update about Chuck. It's nice to know that the campaign is making a positive impact. Hopefully it is enough to get the show renewed. It feels like the 19th is never going to get here!

Matt said...

Finke has a claimed schedule for NBC "that may be the final one, but is one that NBC is definitely considering."

MONDAY -- TRAUMA, Heroes, Leno
TUESDAY -- Biggest Loser, Law & Order: SVU, Leno
WEDNESDAY -- Biggest Loser, PARENTHOOD, Leno
THURSDAY -- 30 Rock, P&R, Office, COMMUNITY, Leno
FRIDAY -- Chuck, Southland, Leno
SATURDAY -- Re-runs
SUNDAY -- Football
SUNDAY (January) -- Dateline, Apprentice, MERCY

Aside from the two hours of Biggest Loser, pretty much what was expected.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Nikki's intro to that schedule is so full of CYA language -- "I've confirmed this is a 2009/2010 schedule that may be the final one, but is one that NBC is definitely considering." -- that I'm reluctant to put any stock in it.

Still, I'm feeling reasonably good about "Chuck"s chances at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Does the "No Politics" rule apply to Goats?

ChuckNut said...

no!!! friday would sound the death knell to chuck, especially as a lead in to the rapidly fading southland...

Alan Sepinwall said...

Where else is it going to air, though? We've established that Monday is a death slot. NBC, no matter how much I suggested it, was never going to air it on Thursdays. Biggest Loser and SVU are two of NBC's few genuinely successful shows, so that locks up Tuesday (and, due to Leno, half of Wednesday), and both Tuesday and Wednesday would feature Idol if Chuck were still around by mid-season.

Friday's not a night where the show will likely experience a lot of ratings growth, but at the same time, expectations are much, much lower, as is the level of competition.

At this point, I'm just glad it looks like we'll get a third season at all, regardless of the night.

ChuckNut said...

why not wednesday? it has half a season to shine and grow before idol comes on the scene. if it could hold relatively steady on mondays, as it did this season, it should do even better on wednesdays.

Matt said...

Wednesday is a night where I suspect they want to try and give a new show a foothold before Idol comes in. The only things stable on Wednesday in the fall are CBS's pair of procedurals--Criminal Minds and CSI: NY. ABC will have an all-new Wednesday, FOX has to have something to fill the gap, and I assume CW will do ANTM/New Show--probably their models show or Melrose Place.

Given that "Parenthood" is, by all accounts, their strongest pilot, putting it on Wednesday makes a lot more sense than the Monday or Friday slots that are otherwise available.

ChuckNut said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ChuckNut said...

what you write makes sense, matt. so chuck fans are now left to hope that one of the new shows does so miserably that it's pulled early and chuck is moved to its slot? i've never been one to hope for a show's failure, but i guess there's a first time for everything...

Alan Sepinwall said...

ChuckNut, what you're left to hope for is that "Chuck" does well enough on Friday nights that NBC is happy to keep it on the air. Everything else is irrelevant. If it's struggling on Friday, NBC won't necessarily be inclined to move it to replace a show struggling on another night. And if it's doing well enough to survive on Friday, then it's on the air, and what do you care how large the overall audience is? It's on; you get to watch it.

Matt said...

Indeed--despite what, to be charitable, are mediocre ratings, "FNL" picked up two more seasons on Fridays and CBS has a solid lineup on Fridays (though admittedly, an old-skewing one). Yes, Fox's Sci-Friday's effort failed, but a number of shows have found success and decent audience on Fridays, including X-Files and CSI (which debuted on Fridays before moving to Thursdays in season 2).

Related--the first network to have the guts to program something real on Saturday could well do very well for itself. Recall that in the late 80s-early 90s, Saturday was as big a "must see comedy" night as Friday for NBC, anchored by "Golden Girls."

ChuckNut said...

yes alan, of course you are right that we fans are lucky to be able to watch chuck at all, regardless of the night. nevertheless, we're not looking for the show to just "survive" one more season. we'd like to see it thrive so that it can stay for as many seasons as the writers -- not the ratings -- dictate.

Anonymous said...

I find the Shawn Ryan news kind of disappointing actually. How come he isn't developing his own new show?

Nicole said...

I was happy to see the "Save Chuck" reference on the Daily Show and wondered if any of the writers read Alan's blog.

Let's hope that a reference on TDS convinces the NBC execs that this show has pop culture cachet and is worth saving.

Eldritch said...

I've continued watching "Lie to Me," and I feel it's improved since the second episode. It's become more than just experts staring closely into faces and announcing truth or falsehood.

Sometimes lies can be about something other than what you suspect. Or they may conflict with other emotions. The crew of experts are spending more of their time investigating and detecting. So it's becoming more of a detective agency show.

Also, interpersonal conflict is developing among the characters.

Not that it's up to the level of "Chuck" yet, but on the whole, the show's getting more interesting.

MCB said...

Thinking optimistically, Fridays might actually prove to be Chuck-friendly. I think the show's loyal core audience will tune in no matter when it's on, and "The X-Files" proved that a good show can survive and build an audience on Fridays. A goofy charmer like "Chuck" could be just the thing for viewers tired from a long week. Plus, the expectations for ratings won't be quite so high that night. Count me as hopeful, I don't care if they air it at midnight on Saturdays as long as it's still around!

Jesse said...

ChuckNut: The thing about Friday airings is that, if it keeps it's Monday night-sized audience, it would be considered reasonably successful (IMO). That would be the easiest path to more seasons.

ChuckNut said...

thanks for the hopeful words, mcb and jesse. here's hoping you're right!

Linda said...

I think at some point, it's important to stop thinking about renewal and enjoy the show you're watching. Nothing stays on forever; there are shows where a four- or five-season run are just right for the amount of story they have. For me, with Chuck, if it's renewed, it's like..."Good, there will be more." And then when those are up, you hope there are more. Networks have to program SOMETHING on Friday -- ABC ran those dumb TGIF comedies for a million years. Airing on Friday wouldn't mean death, I don't think. It would mean, as Alan said, lower expectations. If you're going to keep a show on because it's passionately loved by a modest number of people, Friday is probably your day of choice.

Whiskey said...

was thrilled at Stewrat's shoutout to Chuck last night, I actually squealed with glee when I heard him say it. And I'm so happy that it seems like the odds for renewal are improving.

Also delighted about Party Down, tho I'd prefer the show with Jane Lynch in it. I disagree that her character has become one-note. The Dingleberries thing last week was priceless!

Pamela Jaye said...

CYA - that's the phrase I was looking for earlier!
thanks.
If Chuck does get picked up (I don't trust Nikki either) and put on *Friday* - is this a good thing?

We campaigned for Enterprise for two years and we did get a season 4, but it was moved to Friday (in addition to being on UPN)

do we benefit from lowered expectations, or would we just get canned in 5 weeks anyway?
We really are going out and making new viewers but we don't know Nielsen Families and I'm getting conflicting stories as to whether Tivo/DVR/iTunes, Streaming, and/or DVD sales matter or count in any way to NBC.
If they don't, I can't see any other way to count besides calling NBC while watching and holding the phone up to the TV.

Seriously, though, what "counts"? I know a lot of people have glommed on to streaming cause they have to know how many people are doing *that* and we are sick od not counting.

Pamela Jaye said...

Okay, so you can tell, I didn't read all the comments. Still, my questions hold - at least about the viewing options and their "weight."

Pamela Jaye said...

ChuckNut: The thing about Friday airings is that, if it keeps it's Monday night-sized audience, it would be considered reasonably successful (IMO). That would be the easiest path to more seasons. ..

Okay. I just remember CBS's dictum to Jericho viewers to go out and get more eyeballs. I kind of expect that Chuck fans will be expected to do the same. (and I don't have a problem with that, I'm just hoping no one believes we can work miracles on a Friday night)

olucy said...

Agree with Whiskey -- I'll be holding a candlelight vigil in hopes that Jane Lynch returns to Party Down. I absolutely love what she adds to the mix.

Mark B said...

Schedules released before the official presentation almost never match the final schedules. Whatever is presented next week will most certainly be different from what Nikki Finke published.


I have to wonder why networks allow the leaks. Are they trying to play hardball over renewals for some other series (perhaps the licensing fee for "My Name is Earl")? Is this a trial balloon, and they want to see reactions?