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'Sharknado 2' ratings were fine, just not spectacular

Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) battles a shark on

(Credit: AP / Syfy)

"Sharknado 2: The Second One" was seen by ... drum roll ... another drum roll ... oh, why not? Let's go and roll the drums one more time, shall we?

.... 3.9 million viewers.

Perspective: Good, very good, and in fact easily double the number of last summer's fluke hit, "Sharknado."  And while not spectacular, almost certainly good enough for SyFy -- for which this set a record --...

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Allison Williams cast as Peter Pan in 'Peter Pan Live'

Allison Williams, in an undated photo, will be

(Credit: Pascal Le Segretain)

NBC has its Peter Pan and her name is Marnie -- or that's who you probably know her as. Allison Williams is the one.

Just announced, and here are the canned quotes: Check out Williams' first ... amusing: 

“I have wanted to play Peter Pan since I was about three years old, so this is a dream come true,” Williams said. "It’s such an honor to be a part of this adventure, and I’m very excited to get to work with this extraordinarily talented team. And besides,” added Williams, "what could go wrong in a live televised production with simultaneous flying, sword fighting and singing?"

INTERACT: New fall TV series | Greatest TV characters

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“We couldn’t be happier that Allison Williams is our Peter Pan,” said Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment. “She’s a lovely rising star on the award-winning show ‘Girls’ -- where she occasionally shows off her incredible vocal talent -- and we think she will bring the perfect blend of ‘boyish’ vulnerability and bravado to save the day against Christopher Walken’s powerful Captain Hook.”

"Allison Williams is a major find," said executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. "She will reinvent the iconic role of Peter Pan with her wit, her warmth, her dynamic flying and her wonderful musical abilities. The score will be sung beautifully and introduced to a whole new generation of families."

The show arrives early December. Do you have to be told that Allison is the daughter of Brian -- but the obviously much more talented of the two?

'The Simpsons'-'Family Guy' crossover: First look

At the 2014 Comic-Con, "Family Guy" reps debuted

One of the great things about Comic-Con, just concluding, is that everyone there is insanely passionate and has a cellphone -- which means an insanely massive amount of "content" dumped right onto the Web: most notably, the first look at a few minutes of the Sept. 28 "The Simpsons"-"Family Guy" crossover episode. This impending event has sparked a minor furor among some fans of both series, notably...

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'Sharknado 2: The Second One' is not as good as the first one (sorry)

Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) battles a shark on

(Credit: AP / Syfy)

"Sharknado 2: The Second One" arrives in home theaters everywhere Wednesday night and a backlash -- har har -- seems inevitable. ("Har har" because, can there be such a thing as a backlash against "Sharknado?")  The reason is that Syfy couldn't possibly replicate the success of the first or at least replicate the conditions that lead to that success: Quiet summer night, five hundred channels, nothing on; Damon Lindelof had a Twitter account (and used it ...).

It was as if a million people on Twitter, casually trolling for a diversion, suddenly discovered the Disaster Epic -- or some monstrous bastardization of it -- in one blazing instant, all of them then turning to Syfy to prove their agility at clever one-off tweets that made fun of sharks and the tornadoes that spawned them.

"Sharknado" was essentially a flash mob event. You simply can't repeat those sorts of things, and when you try, failure is a given.

MORE: 'Sharknado 2' review | New summer shows

WATCH: The trailer

"The Second One" tries, by proceeding down what is probably the only possible avenue -- the spoof. The problem with spoofs, however, is that Syfy is essentially taking the original joke -- which wasn't meant to be a joke, which made it an even better joke -- and turning it into a series of more elaborate jokes, with more head-fakes, punchlines, sight gags and riffs.

Everything is meant to be conspicuously funny, or at least hold out the promise of being conspicuously funny, but that which is not funny then tends to occupy a special and unwelcome place in the film as dead space: Long, languorous chatty sequences without sharks, action or any reason for being, other than to fill time between commercials. Spoofs are fine, of course, and there are some great ones out there -- "The Second One" a in direct homage to "Airplane!," which itself was a send-up of that glorious '70s cultural excrescence, the disaster epic, as exemplified by films like "Jaws" and "Airport." 

The original "Sharknado" didn't consciously set out to make fun of disaster epics, but was instead a mock-serious execution of the disaster epic, based on the simplest of ideas: Sharks sucked up into tornadoes (and the resulting hell that would rain down on the good and unsuspecting people of Los Angeles). It worked because it was so outrageous and because it trod along that fine line that separates complete idiocy from complete hilarity.

 In other words, "Sharknado" took itself seriously. "The Second One" doesn't -- at all.

Don't worry, "'Nado" fans: There are a few good lines, a decent opening sequence, some amusing and appropriately gross sight gags. (Check back with me on your thoughts concerning Fin's touching ring ceremony.)

Best of all, it even makes fun of a pivotal scene in Damon Lindelof's "Prometheus." I'm not sure I should tell you exactly what it is, but it involves a giant rolling head, which directly and amusingly invokes the giant rolling spaceship in "Prometheus," which millions of fans gave poor Damon such a hard time over.

So "The Second One," in one key sense, is in homage to Lindelof, who got the "Sharknado" phenom going in the first place. Damon, by the way, is no longer even on Twitter. 

Could 'Seinfeld' come to Netflix?

Michael Richards Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jason

(Credit: NBC)

All nine seasons of "Seinfeld" on Netflix? Could this possibility promise a greater wealth of bingeing catnip than anything else on the streaming service? Anything?

The prospect arose Thursday morning on one of those Reddit "Ask Me Anything" features that major celebrities like to do occasionally. Jerry Seinfeld was asked about the possibility of a Netflix stream, to which he responded: "Those...

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Stephen Colbert keeping 'Late Show' in New York: Critic's analysis

Stephen Colbert, right, who will be staying in

(Credit: Comedy Central)

That Stephen Colbert would choose to keep "Late Show" in New York after succeeding David Letterman as host next year was perhaps not a foregone conclusion -- crazier things have happened, after all -- but it was as close to "foregone" as the word could possibly imply.

Colbert did not agree to undertake the enormous challenge of replacing a legend by uprooting staff and friends and relocating them 3,000 miles from family, hearth and home. A move to CBS' Television City -- which of course has a world-class facility for a late night talk show and has expanded the space for "The Late Late Show" too -- would have almost certainly meant losing key personnel -- possibly even the very people who have made "The Colbert Report" such a huge success.

No: He was going to stay in New York, and he was going to stay at the Sullivan, which is possibly the single most beautiful talk show studio on all of television. (Even better: It's haunted. Did you know that? Another post, another day.)  

Nevertheless, as foregone conclusions go, this is a very happy one. Not only will Colbert extend a tradition -- honestly the only late night tradition CBS has ever really had -- but it extends the tradition in the very city where late night TV was born, and where "The Tonight Show" is already proving, along with its host, that this really is the best place on the planet to mount a late night talk show. 

Los Angeles is fine -- I love L.A. (me AND Randy Newman). But it's just ... different, and it's not the sort of "different" that works well with a personality and style such as Colbert's: arch, intellectual and high velocity. His style was honed here, and here it must stay.   

Certainly this is a nice score for the city: Two hundred jobs will be saved, and while CBS did not specify how many of Dave's "Late Show" veterans will migrate over to Steven's "Late Show," the fervent hope is that many will. Dave's crew is excellent and understands the exigencies of mounting a late night show, night after night after night. Many are indispensable.   

And this is good for the New York production community overall. While average New Yorkers may have conflicted feelings about TV or movie production in New York every time they have to jump out of the way of a dolly or are nearly cold-cocked by a boom mic -- or are just sick and tired of having traffic backed up every time some chase scene for some cop procedural just has to shut down Madison Avenue between 23rd and 24th ... it's still all good. More jobs, more people in work, more everything.

Check out these very stats from the CBS news release announcing the deal with Gov. Andrew Cuomo: During calendar year 2013, applications for 181 film productions were submitted and included 124 films, 31 television programs, 25 pilots and one “relocated” television show. The impact of these projects includes: Generating a direct spend of $2.09 billion in NYS; Collecting a projected $466 million in credits; Hiring an estimated 126,301 actors and crew for the 181 projects submitted.

Looking at it all this way, "Late Show" -- which began here more than 20 years ago -- is the gift that just keeps on giving.

TV Critics Tour: 'Downton Abbey,' Lady Mary, look ahead to the 5th season

Michelle Dockery portrays Lady Mary in a scene

(Credit: AP)

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."

'Indian Summers': Could it be the next 'Downton Abbey'?

Beverly Hills -- There will never be another "Downton Abbey" -- except, there has to be. Viewers demand it, public TV demands it, financial backers demand it... The problem with success, and "Downton" is the single most successful scripted series in PBS history, is that more success must follow. It is the way of the commercial TV world, and now that PBS has gotten a tase of an almighty hit, it stands...

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TV Critics Tour: The next 'Fargo' will forgo big stars (maybe)

Beverly Hills -- "Fargo" will return for a second season — no surprise — and will be written (along with assists by a number of top writers) by Noah Hawley — also no surprise — and will eventually be a huge magnet of commentary, bloviation and gaseous analysis by critics (like me.)

Again, no surprise. But here is the surprise: FX chief John Landgraf said Monday that fans should not expect...

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TV Critics Tour: Can 'Sons of Anarchy' be redeemed?

From left, ?Sons of Anarchy? creator Kurt Sutter,

(Credit: AP)

BEVERLY HILLS — As longtime fans know, "Sons of Anarchy" is one of TV's smarter series. It's an endlessly inventive plot pretzel that showcases writing, acting and direction at a very high level and has done so more or less consistently for six seasons.

But "SOA" also has a deeply twisted soul. It doesn't celebrate violence, but it doesn't condemn violence either. Last season ended with the...

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