News, scoops, reviews and more from TV land.
Beverly Hills -- CW's "The Flash" - easily one of the more enjoyable new pilots (and hopefully series) of the 2014 fall season - will add Wentworth Miller to the cast, as Leonard Snart, or perhaps better known to fans as "Captain Cold." Announced Friday by the showrunners, who already had strewn a handful of other Easter eggs throughout this newcomer, for fans of both the long-running DC Comics...Read more »
For those obsessed "Mad Men" fans who wondered whether Don Draper, Peggy Olson, Joan Holloway, Roger Sterling and Company would ever fade from the scene, to become part of our cherished TV memories, the moment has arrived. "Mad Men" has slipped into history.
The show held its wrap party during the weekend in Los Angeles, and -- old show biz maxim -- that which has been wrapped cannot be unwrapped, except for the TV movie or perhaps special limited-run series. (Another old show business maxim: Money always talks.)
But "Mad Men" is over and it is inconceivable that it could ever again continue in any fashion, even though "Breaking Bad" has reinterred part of its soul for "Better Call Saul." Now consider this: All those stars and producers who congregated Saturday at The Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles know something you and I don't know -- how it all ends.
What a perfect place for a burial. The old Roosevelt is one of those grand, beautiful, dowdy, heavily rouged LA landmarks -- the Norma Desmond of hotels. (Some might also imagine it evokes the "Barton Fink" Hotel Earle, but that was shot in the lobby of a classic silent era theater on Western Boulevard, so no relation.)
The Roosevelt is also haunted or reputed to be, and of course Don saw a ghost in the closing seconds of the midseason finale. (Actually, not exactly a "ghost," but we've already discussed this at length.)
Also: This was the Roosevelt hotel where the first Academy Awards were held. Maybe "MM" held the wrap here to confer good karma onto Jon Hamm, who will most certainly be honored with another Emmy nomination for best actor next week and most certainly deserves to finally win.
Or maybe this is just practical: A large part of the seventh season after all has been West Coast-based, and maybe the West Coast is where it will all end up.
The Manhattan-based Roosevelt, or just The Roosevelt, like its West Coast counterpart, is of the same vintage. Both were built in the middle of the Jazz Age, honoring a president who at that moment must have seemed the epitome of American ambition and energy. It also happens to figure prominently in "Mad Men" history, as this was the place Don repaired after Betty kicked him out of the house in one of the early seasons.
The Roosevelt of the 1960s -- and like the LA one, has since been refurbished -- was a perfect place for a disgraced ad man looking to hang his hat for a night or two -- a seen-better-times dinosaur that did in fact look like the Hotel Earle, and a quick overnight stop if one missed the last train out of Grand Central, or one's wife had just kicked one out of the house.
The wrap party in LA was sponsored by Johnnie Walker. Why booze? Why need you ask with regards to "Mad Men?" Plus, Christina Hendricks was JW's prominent spokeswoman star not too long ago.
(Brooks Brothers was also a sponsor, and as fans know, BB -- just across Madison Avenue from The Roosevelt -- supplied Don's classic suits over the years, and even began a "Mad Men" line. )
I'm going on at length here only for reasons of sentimentality. It's over. Maybe you too feel the slightest sense of loss.
The last half of the seventh season arrives sometime next year. I'll hold my own private wrap party then, maybe at The Roosevelt.
So Sunday night's "Game of Thrones" ("The Watchers on the Wall") was about love: Love of honor, of duty, love of tradition, love of the very wall itself. And most of all love of love: Sam of Gilly, Jon of Ygritte.
Love? In "Game of Thrones"? Yes, love, and that's what made Neil Marshall's direction of this penultimate episode so satisfying and so powerful. The table -- so to speak -- was set...Read more »
We're not going to have a discussion (are we?) about whether Don Draper saw a ghost on the seventh midseason finale of "Mad Men." A ghost of Bert Cooper, or a moment of overwrought imagination ... or a dream?
Too late for the semi-obligatory "spoiler alert" by this point -- it has been two days after all -- but Bert Cooper (Robert Morse) has died, and not just died, but returned for one last...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.
OK, so how to make Roger Sterling lovable (or at least respected) again? I guess we learned "how" in Sunday night's "Field Trip," the third episode of the seventh season before which Roger had morphed into a hapless hippy wannabe with uncertain judgment, terrible fathering skills, and irredeemably irreversibly awful talents for friendship and loyalty. (Roger just being Roger.)
Except: Maybe...Read more »
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 »
John Oliver's new HBO topical/comedy/interview show begins Sunday (HBO, 11) and first guest: Gen. Keith Alexander, retired as director of the National Security Agency and head of U.S. Cyber Command.
So, maybe not so funny, but topical.
"Last Week Tonight" features a host who finds himself at the head of a long conga line of talent that has left "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"...Read more »
What it's about: As per custom, "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner asked that no plot details of the seventh and final season opener are offered here, so, instead, some broad strokes.
The end of last season fell around Thanksgiving, 1968, and Don (Jon Hamm) was essentially fired from his own agency after suffering a breakdown in a client meeting with Hershey.
However, he had already told...Read more »
Joan Rivers returned to "The Tonight Show" last night after a 28-year absence marked by recriminations, ill feelings, and insidery show biz back-biting.
And of course she was late to the set.
In fact, Rivers had a very brief cameo on Jimmy Fallon's very first show last month, but let's call last night the first real return.
But no matter. History of sorts was made and even if the return of the former late night queen was a bit blue, a little bit muddled -- and utterly devoid of truth -- so be it. Joan returned to the set that made her famous.
The best part: A nice gracious nod to Johnny -- no last name needed, right? -- which I suppose means no hard feelings anymore.
The interview pointed up the weakest aspect of the new host who otherwise -- as my few readers well know -- I have praised to the Studio 6B rafters. He is in fact doing a bang-up job, except his interviews tend to be exercises in non-information, as last night revealed in abundance.
Why did you not get invited back, he asked her?
He knows why, of course. Everybody knows why. But I also suspected the question was basically just a set-up for one of her oldest jokes.
The reason (if you actually don't know, by the way) is the second to last clip here. While Rivers was chief stand-in at Carson's "Tonight" -- one of TV's greatest gigs because Johnny did take quite a few days off in the latter years as you'll recall -- she took a job at Fox to host a late night show and direct competitor to Carson. She never told Johnny; he saw her move as a betrayal (and it was certainly that) and he never spoke to her again. Rivers has made all sorts of excuses over the years -- oh, Edgar made her do it! (Edgar Rosenberg, her husband and agent, now deceased.) She couldn't tell Johnny because that would scuttle the deal. And so on.
But the fact remains. Joan betrayed Johnny.
Jay Leno, out of respect to Carson, kept her off his show. Jimmy, who's had her on "Late Night," certainly felt no compunction to do the same. In fact, he's right -- there is no reason. It's all ancient history. (Her "Late Show" essentially launched Fox back in October of '86, and the network fired her the following May.)
Another odd sidebar: David Letterman, who revered Johnny, buried the hatchet with her about four years ago.
Clips. The second one is from her "Tonight" days, and is fascinating because Johnny holds up the photo from Joan's first date on "Tonight," 21 years earlier. Jimmy did the same last night.
Meanwhile, I've put up the Letterman interview, too. Dave lays it all out very well. Infinitely better than last night's somewhat sad return.
She was often funny during her long association at "Tonight," and could've -- just possibly, maybe, who knows! -- even been the next "Tonight" host. But alas.