News, scoops, reviews and more from TV land.
So, which series are officially over? The networks have now completed their fall lineups, and with those have come decisions about the "bubbles" -- series that had just enough pulse to merit some guesswork. But the guesswork is now over, too. Deadline.com this morning posted what appears to be a complete list and I've reposted here in full. Nothing here is exactly a surprise and many of these ends...Read more »
"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.
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.
"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).
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...
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.
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 »
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.
"Saturday Night Live" writer Leslie Jones continued to be kicked around the Internet Tuesday morning in the wake of her performance on "Weekend Update" -- the "in-house image expert" who (umm) explained how "the way we view black beauty" has changed since slavery.
If the current standard for success on TV is defined by Twitter "conversations," retweets, online musings (aka blogs), and the resulting TV commentary, then Jones absolutely is the standout success of the 39th season to date.
Everyone has an opinion about her sketch, ranging from virulently-against to the positively-for, while the very sketch itself has even prompted a broad discussion on the Nature of Comedy, and What is Funny, and even the Too Soon question -- as in, is it too soon to joke about slavery, or will there ever be a time when it won't be too soon? (Jones herself has taken to Twitter to defend herself.)
In fact, a little bit lost in the whole debate seems to be that it's been done before -- comedy about slavery which sought the same sort of reaction that Jones' performance was clearly meant to elicit: Discomfort, anger, maybe even fury. Comedy, after all, isn't always about making people laugh.
Here's briefly the history -- both ancient and modern. Richard Pryor had a comedy series on NBC in 1977 that sprang from a hugely successful one-time special. The series didn't last, but thanks to the Internet, Pryor's famous opening "slave ship" sketch did.
Next, and much more recently, Key and Peele performed a slave skit; also posted below, and which has been cited as funnier take (by some) on the subject than the Jones skit..
Dave Chappelle, meanwhile, worked this material for years. ("Time-haters" is an example -- posted here, and which contains some language that many will find also offensive; but it was on his show and it also has had a long life on the Internet.)
There are a few ways certainly to think about this material, including Jones' skit, and one of them might be this way: Comedy is and almost certainly should be at times about prodding the complacent among us. It can do that by taking something that has been so completely anesthetized and compartmentalized -- in the case of slavery, by history books, and the sheer passage of time, and the sense among people that this towering evil happened long ago and far away and could never happen again -- and then turning it into a visceral gut-punch. Maybe that's not funny, or maybe it is, but it does get people talking and thinking. On that point alone, Jones wins by default.
One of the many reasons Letterman will be missed is this: He's late night TV's best interviewer (yes, Kimmel can be good too, but Dave's the one). He asks questions that can be difficult, or uncomfortable and still make them work, in part because he turns the inquisition either on himself, or finds a source of humor even when there is none. (Or sometimes not: The Robin Roberts interview was a full-bore exploration of medical facts and information.)
Case in point: Last night's encounter with Peyton Manning. How to ask about not just one of the worst Super Bowl's ever, but one of the most inexplicable -- because as anyone who knows anything about football, Peyton Manning, or the Denver Broncos fully realize, there have been fewer teams in the history of this sport more supremely qualified for the big game.
It was a baffling loss, and remains so. Dave, it seems to me, reflects that puzzlement exactly right.