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BEVERLY HILLS -- "Downton Abbey," which returns for a fifth season Jan. 4, promises big changes -- or perhaps, the better phrase in lieu of "big" here would be "emotionally resonant and complex." So let's go with that insstead: "Downton" promises emotionally resonant and complex changes in the 5th season as one of TV's great hits continues to figure out how to keep that word "hit" firmly affixed to any discussion of "Abbey." Of course, it's always hard to tell six months in advance just how resonant any "Abbey" adjustments will be, and the series has rarely been in the habit of revealing too much going forward. (What's the fun in that anyway?)
But aside from a prominent new cast member -- Richard E. Grant ("Gosford Park") will join as one Simon Bricker, a guest of the Granthams -- stars and showrunners here Tuesday did promise an evolution that will especially impact one of "Downton's" signature characters, Lady Mary.
Gareth Neame, exective producer of "Downton," did indicate that at least one major story will develop next year -- Lady Mary Crawley's eventual move out of the shadows into a new emotional life. Which is to say: She's finally thinking of playing the field again.
She said as much at the end of season four; the question for her and "Downton" fans is an obvious one, however: Said Neame, "We’ve, all of us, have played these characters now for several years. We’ve all lived in this “Downton” world. And the more we’re immersed in the world, the more we feel that we get to understand these characters, the more that the stakes of the stories are higher. I think what Michelle [Dockery] was just saying about the relationships and what she’s going to do and the idea that Mary has now decided by the end of Season 4 she said, “I know I will marry again. I’m not now” “I’m turning to life, and I’m going to be married.” But I think that whole challenge of how do you make a new relationship when your partner has died, how do you make a second marriage as an older, more mature person is way more complicated than the first relationship decision you make. So I think for all of these characters, everything is just ratcheted up. Everything is much more complicated. He’s still the guy stuck in no man’s land between these two worlds, but as you saw with the scene with Hugh Bonneville, the stakes are just higher and higher every time."
Dockery had this to say about Lady Crawley: "She’s very she’s very complex. I think that she she’s impulsive. So she makes these decisions, and then, you know, once she goes through with it, she looks back and actually realizes it wasn’t quite the right decision. And I think this series, she is quite impulsive, and she’s embracing her new life really. I think she’s through the grief now. And I kind of see Series 5 for Mary as the new Mary, I guess, in a way. And so with that, she’s got a bit of her bite back that we had in Series 1, which I’ve enjoyed playing, you know. It was lovely to do Series 4 with playing all of that emotion and everything, but this series is a lot more fun. So I’m enjoying it."
The 70th anniversary of D-Day today will be marked by at least two major programs -- on NBC ("Brian Williams Reporting: Journey to Normandy" at 8) and the History Channel. Meanwhile, if you are near a set, live coverage of D-Day ceremonies are being covered on CNN and MSNBC.
This is, of course, an enormously important anniversary, for how many veterans of that historical day will be around...Read more »
Say, what are we all to make of cousin Orson Lannister, lord of the beetles, distant relative to Tyrion Lannister, dispatched by a mule? "Game of Thrones" fans know of whom I speak: He was subject of a three-minute long monologue in Sunday night's eighth episode, "The Mountain and the Viper," and millions of viewers have been puzzling over him ever since.
Or at least one viewer has.
"What...Read more »
Jimmy Kimmel predicted a little while ago at the "ABC Upfront" that all of the network's new shows "will be canceled." But, of course, he was kidding.
Some of these will certainly survive, maybe even prevail, but which ones?
Meanwhile, there are a handful of midseason series just in case. And check out "Galavant" at the end of this string -- plus, a "first look" at "How to Get Away with Murder," which appears to be a keeper.
The fall newbies.
Fox needs a hit, and not just one with the numbers "24" in the title. It also needs to think about an "Idol-less" future or one where a once-reliable tent poll is no more reliable or even a tent poll. It needs a hit.
But who or what? "Utopia," the unscripted series, will air twice a week -- one of outings on Friday at 10, which is a recognition on the part of Fox that there is nothing to gained...Read more »
The fall network upfronts arrive next week and with them, plenty of new shows. But what looks interesting? In the interest of time — yours — I've put together a list of the 20 most intriguing new series. Each one of these has been ordered, and will arrive on a network near you sometime next year or early 2015. And in no particular order, let's take it away!
Think: Ellie Kemper, escapes doomsday cult...starts life over in NYC
Reason to get excited: Ellie, plus Robert Carlock and Tina Fey produce..
Reason not to: No reason except NBC has been all-thumbs when it comes to comedies. Could it actually thumb up this one too?
"The Slap," NBC
Think: Family drama based on Aussie drama./..about a man who slaps some other family's kid and...from there it starts...
Reason to get excited: Jon Robin Baitz is writing, producing.
Reason not to: Nothing comes to mind except maybe the fact that the cast still seems undetermined.
Think: LA cop on the trail of the Manson murders...
Reason to get excited: Two, great title and...David Duchovny stars.
Reason not to: Period drama overkill, and the demise of "Mob City" still fresh...
"Emerald City," NBC
Think: "Land of Oz. Really. The whole thing. With Dorothy too.
Reason to get excited: Oz.
Reason not to: It's a modern-day "reimagining," whatever that could possibly be, and believed to be for 10 episodes only — part of the new trend in TV not to over-commit when you are not over-certain. Plus, sounds violent.
"Mr. Robinson," NBC
Think: Craig Robinson, single-camera, as musician turned music teacher
. Reason to get excited: Robinson, and Greg Daniels, re-teaming...
Reason not to: Pilot has apparently had a muddied, confused past — Daniels is reportedly no longer even attached. So who knows.
"State of Affairs," NBC
Think: Kat Heigl, CIA attache, counsels prez.
Reason to get excited: The return of Kat.
Reason not to: The return of Kat. Plus that cliched title which indicates cliched dialogue, and cliched situations. But let's not judge a book by a tiny corner of its cover, OK people?
Think: Rainn Wilson as cranky detective in Portland...
Reason to get excited: Wilson. Plus Hart Hanson of "Bones," who produces.
Reason not to: Nothing immediately obvious — unless Fox has a hard time adapting the Leif G.W. Persson books (though Hanson has experience in this realm...) But Wilson in crime drama? Could take some getting used to.
Think: Hip-hop family empire...
Reason to get excited: Well, Terence Howard stars, Lee Daniels exec produces and so does Danny Strong (who does not star.) Pedigree!
Reason not to: It almost sounds more like a movie than a series. But a lot of networks apparently wanted this, so...
Think: Remake of "Broadchurch."
Reason to get excited: Good cast, headed by David Tennant and Anna Gunn
. Reason not to: Fraught tradition of American remakes of famous British series.
Think: "Origin" story of "Batman"
Reason to get excited: Anything "Batman" related has to be good, right?
Reason not to: This really is more the origin story of James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) which is interesting and important certainly, but...
Think: Ancient scroll stolen; master thief sprung from prison to find.
Reason to get excited: Don't think we've had an Egyptian — as in ancient — TV series in recent decades.
Reason not to: Fairly high concept. Will it be serious or ...camp...or just plain silly?
"Last Man on Earth," Fox
Think: Will Forte, must save human race. A comedy...
Reason to get excited: Forte, who was awfully good in "Nebraska," wasn't he?
Reason not to: It's midseason which means a bit of a wait.
Think: John Mulaney gets his own sitcom.
Reason to get excited: Martin Short also stars, as does another (like Mulaney) "SNL'er:" Nasim Pedrad.
Reason not to: Do comedies based on the single name of star ever work? (Oh, right, "Seinfeld." Never mind...)
Think: Zombie. Based on Chris Roberson/ Michael Allred comic book series, about med-student-turned zombie who eats brains,and then gains memories of brains, and then solves crimes....
Reason to get excited: I (heart) zombies. Plus Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero of "Veronica Mars" are writing.
Reason not to: Nothing comes immediately to my brain...Except of course possibly this: Eeeewwwwww
"The Whispers," ABC
Think: Alien force intent on destroying human race. Do NOT think classic '60s group of the same name...or recently canceled "The Neighbors."
Reason to get excited: Alien forces are always exciting,no? And Lily Rabe stars...
Reason not to: The aliens are (apparently) unseen — where's the fun in that?
"How to get Away with Murder," ABC
Think: Law prof and students, get entangled in a murder...
Reason to get excited: From Shondaland, who knows how to put the bubbles in soap; but biggest reason is star Viola Davis. And pretty good title too, no?
Reason not to: How many tricks does Shonda Rhymes have up her sleeve, anyway?
Think: Black family sitcom
Reason to get excited: Good cast (Anthony Anderson is headliner) and the concept seems to have promise (maybe because it's been done before), about cultural identity and assimilation.
Reason not to: Nothing comes to mind — ABC has done a good job of building new comedies (unlike NBC).
"Agent Carter," ABC
Think: Marvel, and "Captain America." This is about Peggy Carter — Hayley Atwell — set in '46.
Reason to get excited: Marvel has certainly kept things interesting at ABC, but Atwell makes this a probable keeper. She knows Peggy Carter better than anybody, after all.
Reason not to: "Agents of "SHEILD" also got a new season pickup this morning, but doesn't ABC — and Marvel — already have their hands full with this? After all, the first season was not the gang-buster they promised.
"American Crime," ABC
Think: Racially charged crime In California's Central Valley, with Felicity Huffman, Timothy Hutton
Reason to get excited: Sounds compelling, and not cheap crime procedural knock-off.
Reason not to: Also sounds like a monumental downer.
"Battle Creek," CBS
Think: Josh Duhamel, Dean Winters as cops in Battle Creek, Mi.
Reason to get excited: Vince Gilligan AND David Shore ("House") are producing this. Oh, and Mark Johnson.
Reason not to: Battle Creek? Wonderful city, of course. But a cop series? Set here? (Hey, why not.) Another question that occurred to me: The three showrunners are guys with their own visions and talents - Gilligan and Johnson have worked together (famously on a famous series) but Shore is pretty much been his own solo muse. How will they work together...and on what appears to be (superficial impression - we've seen nothing yet) on another procedural? At the very least, these questions will have interesting answers.
As fans of "Live With Kelly and Michael" are aware, the show announced its finalists for the worthy contest, "Top Teacher Week." But let's just cut to the chase: A teacher from Uniondale, and also from Great Neck, made the cut, and are among the top twelve to be selected. (And to vote for either, go here: livekellyandmichael.com). They are...
Lynnette Carr-Hicks, choir master, Uniondale...Read more »
CBS, as per recent early spring custom, has picked up most of its schedule for next fall. But conspicuously off the renewal list: "The Crazy Ones" and "The Mentalist.' No word on either, but that may mean nothing -- just that renewals will come later, or CBS is waiting to see how they run out the rest of the season before making a decision. Neither has been a particularly stellar performer this season, so who knows. "The Big Bang Theory" got a three-year pickup yesterday.
In total eighteen series will be back next season, and you can go ahead and name them, but I'll save you the trouble. From the press release:
The 18 series renewed today comprise 15.5 hours of CBS’s weekly prime-time schedule and include nine dramas, five comedies, two reality series and two news programs. The nine dramas picked up are: NCIS, television’s No.-1 drama/scripted program for the fifth consecutive year; NCIS: LOS ANGELES, the No.-2 drama for the fourth straight year; time-period winners PERSON OF INTEREST, CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION, HAWAII FIVE-0 and BLUE BLOODS; as well as CRIMINAL MINDS, ELEMENTARY and the acclaimed drama THE GOOD WIFE. The renewed comedies are 2 BROKE GIRLS, THE MILLERS, which is the No.-1 freshman comedy of the 2013-2014 season, MIKE & MOLLY, MOM and the long-running hit TWO AND A HALF MEN. In alternative programming, the Network announced pick-ups for its Emmy Award-winning reality series THE AMAZING RACE and UNDERCOVER BOSS.
Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele comprise one of the funniest teams working in television today, and so this makes perfect sense: They'll be featured on David Steinberg's "Inside Comedy" on Showtime this Monday at 11 p.m. More Key & Peele news: Comedy Central just added more episodes to this season's run, and handed them a deal to produce an animated series. They'll also be on FX's "Fargo." (Seriously, they will be... .)
Garry Marshall will also be on Monday's edition (11 p.m.). I don't have a clip of Marshall, but here's one of Key and Peele.
The major house-cleaning at "Dancing with the Stars" continues: Brooke Burke-Charvet is out as co-host and Erin Andrews is in. Here's the official line:
Erin Andrews joins “Dancing with the Stars” as host alongside Emmy-Award Winner Tom Bergeron for its 18th season premiering March 17. No stranger to the ballroom, Andrews competed on the 10th season of “Dancing with the Stars” making it all...Read more »