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'Community' to end at five seasons, 'Revolution' also over

"Community," one of the most precocious comedies in TV history, will end its five-season run this May. The cancellation came suddenly, stealthily, and on the proverbial close-of-business Friday late afternoon. But not without warning. Cancellation -- or the potential thereof -- seems to have shadowed "Community" since the first season. This has to be disappointing for fans -- but especially for returning showrunner Dan Harmon who had expected a sixth. 

Meanwhile, NBC has renewed "Hannibal."

There was a list of other NBC casualties, by the way ("Believe" and "Crisis"). Both of those had real promise, "Crisis" in particular, but they never caught fire.

But "Revolution" had once seemed like a charmed show, if not quite a hit its first season, and definitely not during the sophomore season, when numbers and buzz tailed off. 

Twenty of network TV's most intriguing new shows of the 2014 season

Hayley Atwell - AKA Peggy Carter - ,s

(Credit: Sundance Channel)

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!

"Tooken," NBC

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.

"Aquarius," NBC

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?

"Backstrom," Fox

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.

"Empire," Fox

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...

"Gracepoint," Fox

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.

"Gotham," Fox

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...

"Hieroglyph," Fox

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.

"Mulaney," Fox

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...)

"iZombie," CW

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?

"Black-ish," ABC

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.  

'I Wanna Marry Harry' reality show casts two Long Islanders

The cast of Fox's new reality competition series

(Credit: Fox via YouTube)

"I Wanna Marry Harry" -- a forthcoming cheesefest on Fox that promises to stir up old memories of awful reality series of yore, like "Joe Millionaire" -- has two Long Island women on the cast.

Quickly, the set-up: Twelve women travel to England where they are told they will meet Prince Harry, for a chance at romance, or at least a chance for a nice dinner...

In fact... oh come on... you know what happens: He's really not Harry, but a lookalike (Matthew Hicks, though you be the judge as to whether his looks are indeed alike). He sends one woman home each week. Presumably none of them catch on... Presumably... Arrives May 27 on channel 5. Be afraid, be very afraid.

The LIers are: Kimberly Birch (Malverne) and Jacqueline Conroy (Rockville Centre). 

'Homeland's' Damian Lewis joins 'Masterpiece Theatre's' 'Wolf Hall'

It's goodbye Nicholas Brody, hello Henry VIII for

(Credit: AP)

Damian Lewis -- who did a remarkable job on "Homeland" and has a best actor/drama Emmy to prove it -- has joined the cast of "Wolf Hall," based on the Hilary Mantel novel series and which should make a very big splash for PBS when it arrives via "Masterpiece Theatre" next year.  Mark Rylance is already aboard, as is Jonathan Pryce, Joanne Whalley, Claire Foy and Mark Gatiss. 

It's all based on the story of Thomas Cromwell (Rylance) who was chief minister to Henry VIII (Lewis) -- and who ushered in the Reformation (in essence, by abetting VIII's predilection for serial marriages...) 

Filming has begun in England; this multi-parter arrives next year.

Lewis has kept busy since his run on "Homeland": He'll be in the miniseries "To Appomattox" -- not sure yet of the network berth as this is a "kickstarter" project -- and which has a heck of a cast; he'll play Sherman. 

There are also a couple of interesting theatricals -- including a thriller with Gatiss (and Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris...) and: yet another big budget film on Lawrence of Arabia with Nicole Kidman, Robert Pattinson and James Franco... 

Ken Burns' 'The Roosevelts' to launch fall season

Theodore Roosevelt, Rough Rider, 26th U.S. President, explorer

(Credit: Charles Duprez)

A little bit of Long Island and a huge part of American history will launch PBS' fall season -- Ken Burns' "The Roosevelts: An Intimate History," which will of course begin with the story of Teddy... This is not some little exploration of the man, men, women and legends -- but rather a 14-hour, seven-night extravaganza. It all starts Sept. 14.

 And we have a clip...

 

 

'Law & Order: SVU' will return

Mariska Hargitay attends the premiere of "Stand Up

(Credit: Getty Images / Fernando Leon)

Rest easy, 'SVU' fans: Your show is coming back.  

"Law & Order: SVU" -- improbably a bubble series as it ends the 15th season -- will in fact get a 16th. NBC Wednesday confirmed the pickup to trades. A surprise this is not, given the durability of the franchise and its ongoing popularity. But as series grow older, their audience tends to age with them, while the fixed expenses in producing a hit like this tend not to be fixed at all, but rise. (Mariska Hargitay is one of TV's top stars, and is paid accordingly.) The aging audience therefore makes them even more expensive, artificially speaking, given the industry fixation on youth-at-all-costs.

ESPN star producer named 'Today' chief

This Feb. 24, 2014 photo released by NBC

(Credit: AP / Peter Kramer)

In a move almost certain to set off renewed speculation about where the "Today" show is going (and who's going there with it), the network just named Jamie Horowtiz senior vice president and general manager of the franchise. Horowitz is -- or was -- a very big deal at ESPN, probably the most successful TV brand in the world, where he launched many shows, and was a lion-tamer as well: He brought back Keith Olbermann, who presumably has been happy with the boss, now making the big move from Bristol, Connecticut to Manhattan.

The speculation? Oh, the usual stuff: Who will replace Matt Lauer, likely to leave at the end of his current contract? ("Likely" - but one never knows until one knows, and the ratings do appear to have stabilized, and with them, Matt...) Josh Elliott of course began his career at ESPN, and the advent of the Horowitz era is certain to set off some thinking that he might be here to bridge some sort of gap between sports - where Elliott is based now - and "Today." Of course, that may be "baseless" thinking... Elliott continues to dash any idea that he is destined for "Today."

 But there's really one and only one job here -- to get "Today" back on top, and push "GMA" back to the place from whence it came (second). Horowitz certainly arrives on an interesting day, when NBCUniversal announced a $7-billion-plus multi-decade deal to air the Olympics; "Today" has long had a happy and symbiotic relationship with this enormous franchise...

 Here's the top of the release: 

Horowitz will lead the TODAY brand and drive greater integration and growth among all parts of the brand,...also explore new formats, such as extensions in digital, e-commerce, events and other opportunities to serve the audience beyond the day-to-day execution of the existing broadcast and digital platforms... "I am honored to join Deborah [Turness,NBC News president]'s team and help guide TODAY into the future," said Horowitz. "This is an exciting and invigorating opportunity, and I am humbled to work with one of the most indelible brands in television. I am also grateful to John Skipper and ESPN for the opportunities and support they have given me over the past eight years."

Terry Crews is new host of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire'

Actor and former NFL player Terry Crews has

(Credit: Invision / Dan Hallman)

Didn't see this coming but... Terry Crews has been named host of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire."

Crews -- a man with more careers than cats have lives -- as host? of "Millionaire"? (He replaces Cedric the Entertainer, who replaced Meredith Vieira, who is launching her own talk show in September...)

Why not! He was a gifted defensive end in the NFL (the Eagles, Rams and a couple of other...

Read more »

'Grey's Anatomy's' farewell to Cristina Yang

Sandra Oh, right, in a scene from "Grey's

(Credit: AP)

We haven't spent a whole lot of time in this space in recent years with "Grey's Anatomy, but that is about to be remedied: Sandra Oh is leaving. She's one of the originals, an honorary member of the Core Four (or is it the Fab Five?) She has been on this ride from the beginning, through the highs and through the lows . . . and Oh, who is a fine actress, has made it all memorable. She's going next week.

Some of the particulars you are maybe aware of: Her character, Cristina Yang, did not get her due recognition in the form of a major award at Seattle Grace, and thus interpreting that as a professional slap-down, is taking her future elsewhere -- possibly to that Star-Trek-Enterprise-of-a-hospital that Dr. Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington) has asked her to run.

Or possibly not. Remember Rule One in Shondaland: Never assume anything. 

But as mentioned, Oh made this show better, more interesting, more intelligent -- which has not always been easy given some of the many tangents that "GA” has traveled. Oh's Yang always had that -- what's the phrase? -- sense that the world is mad and the world of Seattle Grace is maddest of all. She gave the show a certain perspective, if you will, when needed, which made her many romantic travails all the better because in those moments, she knew that she, too, had become part of the madhouse.

But I'm speaking of long-held impressions here. I simply haven't paid a whole lot of attention to this show this season -- for all I know she's gone completely bonkers, too.

Doubtful.

Now, the reason for this post: ABC released a nice, full, wistful, sentimental look back at Cristina and Meredith (Ellen Pompeo -- who else!) yesterday. The tears are about to flow again in Shondaland. And the clip below this one offers a little backstory to the Burke pitch. I think that episode aired last week, which was quite the reunion (no?) .  

 

'24: Live Another Day' opens big

19. Jack Bauer: He had eight of the

(Credit: Fox)

Nice, big, plumpy start for "24: Live Another Day" last night.

If Fox was concerned that Baueristas would return in force to check out their hero, fears were allayed Tuesday morning -- 8 million total viewers, and a projected 15 million over the next few days. Plus solid wins in males demos across two hours.

We could go on (and will) Fox indicated the "live plus three" viewership rating could go all the way to 20 million. "24" is a hit yet again.

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