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post #92881 of 95699 Old 03-09-2014, 09:18 PM
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TV Notes/Critics' Notes
The 25 best TV opening credit sequences of all-time
The end of 'True Detective' prompts a look back at this unsung art form
By Alan Sepinwall, HitFix.com

Among the many delights of "True Detective," which concludes its first season on Sunday night, has been the show's creepy, evocative opening credits sequence, which juxtaposes mundane imagery with the sort of dark symbols of sex and violence that Rust Cohle and Marty Hart deal with every day.

That title sequence continues a long tradition at HBO going all the way back to "Oz" (which had the show's creator Tom Fontana getting tattooed with the show's logo, interspersed with jarring prison imagery), "Sex and the City" (Carrie Bradshaw's fairy princess moment is ruined by a passing bus), "The Sopranos" (Tony takes the long, geographically illogical drive from Manhattan to his suburban Jersey home) and "Six Feet Under" (haunting images of our fragile mortality). Not every HBO show has been great, but you can usually count on them to have a notable opening; "How to Make It In America" was about as bland and forgettable as a cable comedy can be, yet the combination of Aloe Blacc's infectious song "(I Need A) Dollar" and images of scrappy, hustling New Yorkers was a sight to behold (and always suggested the promise of a much better show than what followed).

Title sequences are one of the many reasons I'm glad that HBO and other cable channels started making their own series, because "The Sopranos" et al began to rise just as the broadcast networks were starting to phase out long theme songs and credit montages. There had been an effort once before in the early '90s, after research suggested viewers changed the channel the second a theme song began; then came "Friends" and its catchy marriage of "I'll Be There For You" and images of Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow cavorting in a fountain, and title sequences got a reprieve. But as the hourly commercial load has risen, TV producers have had to choose between dumping long credits or dumping story time.

For understandable reasons, they've dumped the credits — or, in the case of a show like "New Girl," built a long-ish sequence that can be shrunk down to a few seconds as needed — which has left more time for plot and/or jokes, but in the process, they've lost one of the most powerful weapons for building a bond between show and viewer. When title sequences are done well, they vastly enhance the experience and serve as an effective lure to keep watching out of reflexive loyalty. The most dangerous time for me to channel surf is on the half-hour, because if I come across an opening credits sequence I like, it doesn't matter how terrible the attached show may be — say, "T.J. Hooker" — because I will be watching a large chunk of it, if not the whole thing.

While some credits sequences are simply a theme song slapped together with footage of the cast, there are three basic types of credits sequence:

1. Opening Credits as Expository Device. These are your "Gilligan's Island" credits, your "Beverly Hillbillies" credits, even your "Streethawk" credits. Whether through song, narration, or a sequence of images, they make sure the audience understands the high-concept premise in a hurry so that nobody wonders what Mr. Drummond is talking about when he plays father to Arnold and Willis, or wonders which side of the Law/Order divide Lennie Briscoe and Claire Kincaid work on.

2. Opening Credits as Explicator of Theme. These often function as little short films that use images and music to tell you what the show is about. The credits on "Dexter," for instance, are a story of how everyday life is filled with unnoticed acts of violence. The "Star Trek" credits (which also have some exposition courtesy of Captain Kirk's "these are the voyages" monologue) sell you on a vision of wide-open space adventure. The "Cheers" credits suggest the long history and deep value of places where everybody knows your name.

3. Opening Credits As Setter of Mood. There's some overlap here with number 2, but these are more about trying to recreate the feeling the creators want you to have when watching a show than one that represents what the show is actually about. The Miller-Boyett T.G.I.F. shows like "Perfect Strangers" and "Full House," for instance, featured soaring ballads and celebratory images that didn't really capture the content of those shows, but gave you the warm fuzzies they expected you to feel for Cousin Larry or Uncle Jesse.

Across the history of television, there have been so many great title sequences — some attached to shows worthy of them, many not — that when Team HitFix got together to vote on our favorites, the recurring complaint was that no one could possibly vote for just 10, and even when we expanded the field to 25, it was damn hard. In the final results, embedded below, you'll note that there's no "Six Feet Under" (even though it's my favorite of all the HBO title sequences) and no "Dick Van Dyke Show" (whether the trip over the ottoman or the graceful side-step), but then when you look at what is there, well... there have been a lot of great opening credits sequences.

Good luck clicking through without stopping to play many, many of the embedded YouTube videos. [CLICK LINK AT BOTTOM OF ARTICLE] I'll just say that my week was much less productive as a result of this project — and also much happier.

25. 'The Odd Couple'
What happened on November 13? Felix Unger was asked to leave his place of residence. f you had never seen the TV show before or were unaware of Neil Simon’s play, upon which the series was based, you were completely caught up by watching the opening sequence: The split screen perfectly portrayed their lives and instantly let us know that Oscar was a slob and Felix was a neatness-obsessed metrosexual (before the term was invented). It had everything but Felix’s trademark nasal honk. - Melinda Newman

24. 'The Prisoner'
A crack of thunder. The most '60s of theme songs. Patrick McGoohan driving around London in the world's coolest car. That's just the beginning to the short-lived cult show's extended intro which is essentially just the first episode in short form, and quickly introduces viewers to the show's basic plot of an ex-secret agent being held prisoner in a strange, surreal English village. - Dave Lewis

23. 'The X-Files'
Quick, make sure you turn on the lights lest the whistling tones call forth shadowy eldritch horrors to haunt your dreams and drag you screaming into the abyss. To this day 'The Truth Is Out There' rings more like a threat than declaration of hope. From the alien cloud to the ghostly apparition to the outline of a man falling through the darkness, the simplicity of the unknown was — and for this writer still is — enough to send the hindbrain into fight or flight panic. - Donna Dickens

22. 'The Rockford Files'
On music along, this would deserve a high spot on any list, as the Mike Post-written blend of synthesizer, harmonica and blues guitar remains perhaps the greatest original composition ever used as a TV theme song. But when you add in the answering machine gag — which, like the chalkboard and couch gags on "The Simpsons," would change every week to give viewers a reason to pay attention — and the way the slideshow images demonstrated the mundanity of Jim Rockford's work life (working the pay phone, sitting in the Firebird for long surveillance work) and personal life (hitting the frozen food section of the supermarket) to convey the show's wry, humorous tone, you've got a work of televisual art. - Alan Sepinwall

21. 'Wonder Woman'
Has any opening credits sequence done more to keep a mediocre '70s TV show alive for almost forty years than this one? Granted, there are at least two generations who can't imagine anyone but Lynda Carter as the Amazon warrior, the enduring appeal of Diana Prince's chic wardrobe and, of course, the amazing costume change twirl/explosion. The real key to the love of the show is the film's signature intro featuring a knockout disco-ish theme song and those beautifully animated exploding stars (really). Of course, the intro went through some different iterations over the show's three seasons, but to this day they are all still utterly fabulous. - Gregory Ellwood

20. 'American Horror Story'
Even when the show itself has been laughably bad (which has been often), the opening credits for each season have been mesmerizing viewing that I'd gladly watch over and over again long after the show is over. Using music that sounds like Muzak for the evil dead, each intro is an evocative, David Fincher-esque montage of images both terrifying and oddly beautiful -- broken dolls, pickled fetuses, bloody surgeries (I will never be able to shake the image of a gloved hand dangling a glob of human... something), mysterious hooded people, a voodoo doll being jabbed and jabbed some more. Some images wash over us, others come at us too fast and leave too quickly to register -- at least, register the first time. These three intros are the "Nine Inch Nails" videos we never knew we needed. - Liane Bonin Starr

19. 'M*A*S*H'
Yes, "Suicide Is Painless" was borrowed from the movie version of M*A*S*H, but I'm pretty sure a sadder song has never before or since been used to introduce a network sitcom. Even without the words, the music set the tone for a TV show that bucked tradition (Larry Gelbart fought hard to send the laugh track packing, but had to settle for a "chuckle track") and dug deep into the dark humor of wartime. Characters died, soldiers bore the emotional and physical scars of battle, and the series finale dealt with PTSD in a storyline that felt like a sucker punch but also seemed remarkably true. There's a reason why the series finale brought in 125 million viewers -- a sitcom that wasn't afraid to be poignant or even tragic, smiling through the tears, was one that many have since tried (not always successfully) to duplicate. - Liane Bonin Starr

18. 'Dexter'
Designed by Eric Anderson for Digital Kitchen and set to Rolfe Kent's main title score, the opening to "Dexter" is a symphony on the violent banality of morning ritual, or perhaps the banal violence? The mere act of waking up in the morning is a vicious and bloody affair for Dexter Morgan, whether it's the suffocating act of putting on a t-shirt or the precision slicing of a close shave or the brutal sawing of an orange or the taut piano-wire garroting of flossing. The entire sequence is masterfully color-timed to match the show's Miami flair, while the juxtaposition of jaunty music and imagery reenforces and sets the stage for the show's humor. And, in the midst of it, is Michael C. Hall's hyper-intense visage. This is what it takes to get Dexter Morgan out the door each day. And wait til you see what he does next. It's great stuff. - Daniel Fienberg

17. 'Gilligan's Island'
Similar to the “Brady Bunch” opening, the theme here was created by Sherwood Schwartz who also created both series. As for this one in particular, in the annals of television theme songs, “Gilligan’s Island” might go down as the single most memorable one of all time. Everybody knows the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song, all you have to do is say “a three hour tour” and everyone knows what you’re talking about. Fifty years later, the song remains a cultural touchstone for multiple generations. The visuals are, perhaps, not quite as unique (though we love the spinning wheel followed by the whole screen spinning), but the song is without equal, especially once they altered it for season two and made it “The Professor and Mary Anne” instead of “and the rest.” - Josh Lasser

16. 'The Sopranos'
Sometimes opening credits are great for purely aesthetic reasons. Other times they're great for how they incorporate the show's themes and offer an introduction to the world the characters inhabit. The "Sopranos" opening credits fall into the latter category, as Tony's journey through the Lincoln Tunnel towards his suburban New Jersey home in a cloud of cigar smoke highlight how, despite his best efforts, the mafioso's criminal enterprises inevitably follow him home. And okay, that song (a remix of "Woke Up This Morning" by Alabama 3) is pretty great too. - Chris Eggertsen

15. 'The Wire'
Some opening credit sequences remain the same season after season, no matter how much the show and/or its actors have changed. Few shows, though, changed as radically from season to season as "The Wire," and the opening credits reflected that change, with season 1's housing project imagery largely nudged aside for shots of the port of Baltimore, season 3 adding in political photo ops to reflect the mayoral campaign storyline, season 4 adding schoolkids, and season 5 images of the press. Certain unifying images remained, like Bodie throwing a rock at a surveillance camera, and there was always a version of Tom Waits' "Way Down in the Hole" to tie all the pieces together, but the evolution of the credits reflected the evolution and expansion of the series as a whole. "The Wire" packed a staggering amount of information into each episode and season, and the credits did the same, with a kaleidoscope of images conveying the flow of information, drugs, money, knowledge and political influence, for good or (mostly) for ill. It's hard to pick a favorite version — I'm partial to the Blind Boys of Alabama version of the theme song, even if I prefer some of the other montages — which is why we've embedded all five seasons in a row. - Alan Sepinwall

14. 'Downton Abbey'
As much as fans of "Downton" claim they're hooked on the show because of the storylines or the characters, the intro suggests that "Masterpiece Theater" knows better. People love this show because of the stuff. Shots linger lovingly on ornate table settings, boiling kettles, jingling service bells and all of the upstairs/downstairs business of running an English estate early in the 20th century. Faces aren't necessary, because, hey, it's about the stuff. - Liane Bonin Starr

13. 'Doctor Who'
Though the opening credits have gotten many, many makeovers through the years -- a floating Tardis here, a psychedelic planetary explosion there, a winking Doctor staring directly at the camera for a few years -- even today's 21st century reboot of the series has never changed all that much from the 1963 original. That version is far slower and longer, and the theme lacks the current one's propulsive quality (and, thankfully, the "Star Wars"-esque musical sting that popped up in 1996), but some elements remain the same. There will always be that spooky ooo-WEEE-ooh that the BBC long ago thought might be too scary for kids and the undulating smears of light that once looked like someone at the controls was just playing with a low-tech special effect but now suggest we're flying through space. While Doctors may come and go, and companions will cycle in and out, we'll always know it's time for "Doctor Who" when we hear the most memorable theme in TV history, and that's just fine. - Liane Bonin Starr

12. 'Cheers'
Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo's "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" is one of the most beloved TV theme songs ever written, a wistful anthem to the way that a neighborhood bar — or a long-running sitcom about one — can be a welcome haven after the frustrations and humiliations of everyday life. The olde timey images of bar workers and patrons throughout the decades are not only marvelously matched to the characters — the loudmouth barfly doesn't look much like Cliff Clavin, but you'd know he was the Cliff of his day even without John Ratzenberger's name to help you out — but convey the long history of this kind of place and the kinds of people who treat the bar as their second home (or, in Norm's case, their first). - Alan Sepinwall

11. 'The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air'
You know every word by heart. There's just something about colorful graffiti, blinding bright mismatched clothes, and a young Will Smith rapping about life that completely encompasses an entire decade for those who came of age in the halcyon pre-recession days of the 90s. Nowadays, the opening theme has become so pervasive to our pop culture it is sung by 90s kids — now parents — to their toddlers as a modern day nursery rhyme. - Donna Dickens

10. 'Mission: Impossible'
Chances are you probably already know the theme from "Mission: Impossible" from watching one of the four Tom Cruise movie adaptations or the countless times it's been used in pop culture since its debut in 1966. What you may not immediately recall is the original TV show's signature opening that went along with that catchy tune. Each week, a single animated fuse burned from left to right on the screen as clips from that week's episode would appear teasing what difficult case our heroes would have to solve. It immediately became an iconic part of the show and elements have been copied by other programs, movies and web series ever since. - Gregory Ellwood

9. 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'
Set to Sonny Curtis' "Love Is All Around," the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" is the show in micro, a feminist anthem about a woman leaving her life behind and making it in the big city (or at least in Minneapolis). The rainbow of Peignot-fonted "Mary Tyler Moores" that opens the sequence is immediately iconic, as are the very '70s-style jump cuts and zooms. But really, it's the last shot that cements this opening as one of the greatest in TV history. The whole spirit of the show, its sense of freedom and release, is captured in that closing freeze-frame of Mary smiling and throwing her tam in the air. - Daniel Fienberg

8. 'The Twilight Zone'
"There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man..." Rod Serling's sonorous voice could have been piped in over a black screen and still America would have stopped everything to listen. While black and white might have been a limitation for some back in the '60s, it was perfect for the more noirish episodes of "The Twilight Zone" and the opening is no exception. Serling's explanation of what the "twilight zone" is isn't necessary to understand the show (this is the dimension of imagination, done), but it sets a tone, telling us to expect the unexpected -- but not necessarily a happy ending. - Liane Bonin Starr

7. 'Star Trek'
"Space...the final frontier" may be the single most well-known phrase in popular culture, recognized even by those who wouldn't sit through an episode of "Star Trek" if you paid them a million quatloos. With Captain Kirk's bold, expositional words and that far out theme song accompanying the Enterprise's race through space, "Star Trek" instantly set itself apart from other TV sci-fi shows in both its serious tone and endless imagination. The first ten seconds or so of the show's opening are still synonymous with the term "science fiction" for many fans. - Dave Lewis

6. 'Game of Thrones'
A TV show's opening credits should, in theory, set the tone for a series. It should tell audiences what to expect for the next 30 or 60 minutes. With the 2011 Emmy Award winner for Outstanding Title Design, "Thrones" delivers a classic introduction into the television adaptation of George R.R. Martin's literary series and the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. It immediately conveys the scope, danger and beauty of the Middle Ages-inspired world. As the camera pans above a three-dimensional map of this "world" (with the sun blazing high above it) it zooms from one location to another giving a viewer a tease at where the action in this week's particular episode will occur. The intro is so beloved that the show's fans look forward to seeing how each new city or locale will be depicted for the first time. And that score? How composer Ramin Djawadi got passed over for Emmy and Grammy nominations - let alone a win - is jaw-dropping. - Gregory Ellwood

5. 'The Brady Bunch'
As stated with “Gilligan’s Island,” these two could really be paired. Both are television series produced by Sherwood Schwartz and he composed the theme for both. The genius here not present in “Gilligan’s Island” is that “The Brady Bunch” opening doesn’t just offer up every bit of information you need to know in order to enjoy the series if you’ve never seen it before (it’s the story of a lovely lady…), but those nine boxes into which the characters are put remain brilliant. As the boxes appear, you get to see the family relationships established and learn how they became the Brady bunch. Then, as you continue from the first season to the last, you get to see them get older (the theme is altered slightly as well). No matter the season though, the characters looking at each other is done so well that if you’re the right age it causes a bewildering “how did they do that” moment (in fact, I just had a discussion with my daughter last week about it). - Josh Lasser

4. 'The Muppet Show'
If a show is going to be the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, and muppetational of all time, the credits better show that, and the opening to “The Muppet Show” does. We all know Kermit and Piggy and Gonzo and Fozzie, but the number of Muppets that exist out there in the universe is tremendous, and these credits make that abundantly clear. Did it always bother us that they could somehow fit that number of muppets onto a multi-tiered platform all at once (we’re going with the archway opening and not the far smaller number of Muppets that appeared in the first version)? Of course it did – have you watched how the Muppets work? Would you want to stand on such a thing? But, let’s move past that as these credits do so much more. They show exactly the sort of good time you’ll have watching the series. There is great music, a mention of the guest star, and loads of humor. We can’t imagine it was easy coming up with a new gag for Gonzo and his trumpet (or drum), but they did it anyway and it was always funny. - Josh Lasser

3. 'Twin Peaks'
Angelo Badalamenti's melancholy theme (initiated by that classic reverb-drenched guitar), coupled with David Lynch and Mark Frost's deceptively picturesque images of small town Americana, formed the perfect opening for the surreal soap opera. The short credits welcome viewers to Twin Peaks (Population: 51,201), while also providing an uneasy undercurrent that reflects the town's dark underbelly. For discerning viewers, primetime would never be the same. - Dave Lewis

2. 'The Addams Family'
It’s creepy and it’s kooky and all together wonderful. From the irresistible finger snaps to Morticia’s deadpan stare, Gomez’s lecherous leer, and Lurch’s organ playing. Plus with the irony of the “neat, sweet, petite” voice over, the opening told you everything you needed to know about entering the spooky manse on 0001 Cemetery Lane. And you were going to knock on that door anyway. - Melinda Newman

1. 'The Simpsons'
Set to Danny Elfman's iconic score, the "Simpsons" opening would be one of TV's best even if it were the same thing every time, if it were just Home leaving work with plutonium, Bart leaving Detention, Lisa leaving band practice, Marge and Lisa completing shopping, the entire family navigating through Springfield and past many or most of the show's beloved recurring characters and then converging on a battered couch for an evening of TV. If that were all that went down, "The Simpsons" would be a Top 10 credit sequence. What puts it over-the-top is its evolution and variations over the year. Bart's chalk board punishment has regularly changed to include political commentary, pop culture references, direct interaction with the show's critics and, when required, touching tributes. The varying couch gag has become one of the show's most enduring element, with punchlines as simple as the family converging and discovering themselves already seated to the extended conceptual trip from single-celled organisms through evolution. Even if the credit sequence had never moved to HD, it would still be a Top 3 sequence. But since the shift to HD, the credit sequence has evolved even further. New recurring jokes including a varying billboard have been added. And the credit sequence has become a playpen for some of the most gifted artists and storytellers working. Banksy, John Kricfalusi, Bill Plympton and Guillermo del Toro have all done credit sequences that came purely from their own voices. Even if you're one of those people who think "The Simpsons" has run out of creative juice -- You're wrong -- you can't deny that somehow, the opening sequence just gets better and better. - Daniel Fienberg

http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/the-25-best-tv-opening-credit-sequences-of-all-time
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post #92882 of 95699 Old 03-09-2014, 09:27 PM
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Critic's Notes
Barely Keeping Up in TV’s New Golden Age
By David Carr, The New York Times - Mar. 10, 2014

Not long ago, a friend at work told me I absolutely, positively must watch “Broad City” on Comedy Central, saying it was a slacker-infused hilarity.

My reaction? Oh no, not another one.

The vast wasteland of television has been replaced by an excess of excellence that is fundamentally altering my media diet and threatening to consume my waking life in the process. I am not alone. Even as alternatives proliferate and people cut the cord, they are continuing to spend ever more time in front of the TV without a trace of embarrassment.

I was never one of those snobby people who would claim to not own a television when the subject came up, but I was generally more a reader than a watcher. That was before the explosion in quality television tipped me over into a viewing frenzy.

Something tangible, and technical, is at work. The addition of ancillary devices onto what had been a dumb box has made us the programming masters of our own universes. Including the cable box — with its video on demand and digital video recorder — and Apple TV, Chromecast, PlayStation, Roku, Wii and Xbox, that universe is constantly expanding. Time-shifting allows not just greater flexibility, but increased consumption. According to Nielsen, Americans watched almost 15 hours of time-shifted television a month in 2013, two more hours a month than the year before.

And what a feast. Right now, I am on the second episode of Season 2 of “House of Cards” (Netflix), have caught up on “Girls” (HBO) and am reveling in every episode of “Justified” (FX). I may be a little behind on “The Walking Dead” (AMC) and “Nashville” (ABC) and have just started “The Americans” (FX), but I am pretty much in step with comedies like “Modern Family” (ABC) and “Archer” (FX) and like everyone one else I know, dying to see how “True Detective” (HBO) ends. Oh, and the fourth season of “Game of Thrones” (HBO) starts next month.

Whew. Never mind being able to hold all these serials simultaneously in my head, how can there possibly be room for anything else? So far, the biggest losers in this fight for mind share are not my employer or loved ones, but other forms of media.

My once beloved magazines sit in a forlorn pile, patiently waiting for their turn in front of my eyes. Television now meets many of the needs that pile previously satisfied. I have yet to read the big heave on Amazon in The New Yorker, or the feature on the pathology of contemporary fraternities in the March issue of The Atlantic, and while I have an unhealthy love of street food, I haven’t cracked the spine on Lucky Peach’s survey of the same. Ditto for what looks like an amazing first-person account in Mother Jones from the young Americans who were kidnapped in Iran in 2009. I am a huge fan of the resurgent trade magazines like Adweek and The Hollywood Reporter, but watching the products they describe usually wins out over reading about them.

Magazines in general had a tough year, with newsstand sales down over 11 percent, John Harrington, an industry analyst who tracks circulation, said.

And then there are books. I have a hierarchy: books I’d like to read, books I should read, books I should read by friends of mine and books I should read by friends of mine whom I am likely to bump into. They all remain on standby. That tablets now contain all manner of brilliant stories that happen to be told in video, not print, may be partly why e-book sales leveled out last year. After a day of online reading that has me bathed in the information stream, when I have a little me-time, I mostly want to hit a few buttons on one of my three remotes — cable, Apple, Roku — and watch the splendors unfurl.

It used to be that I could at least use travel time to catch up on reading, but now airplanes have become mediated, wired spaces as well. And even when I get to a hotel or a vacation spot, my media library comes with me. This summer, I used a skinny little DSL connection at my cabin in the woods to watch “The Newsroom” on HBO Go.

In the past, great shows, entire seasons of them, used to go whooshing past me. Now they are always there, waiting for me to hit play. Like my dog, they are friendly and tend to follow me around seeking my attention.

It means people like me end up going to fewer movies. Sitting at home with a big, throbbing stack of quality entertainment and a big old screen on which to view it, am I really going to spend $12 to sit by a stranger, watch more commercials than I do at home — you cannot skip them in the movie theater — and hope that what I see on screen was worth getting in a cold car and competing for parking and seating?

All the new windows for content have created an in-migration of creative interest. David Fincher, one of Hollywood’s most coveted directors, followed up producing “House of Cards” by signing on to make a series for HBO called “Utopia.” Guillermo del Toro, a big-deal director, has created a series called “The Strain” for FX. Oliver Stone spent a great deal of time making a history program on Showtime and now word comes that Robert Redford is doing documentaries for CNN.

Even at the Oscars, Hollywood’s biggest night, TV seemed like the cool hipster at the party. Ellen DeGeneres’s just-folks delivery treated incandescent celebrities as if they were regular people who like eating pizza and being on television. The winner of the award for best actor, Matthew McConaughey, has also been making a big splash on TV with “True Detective.”

At a panel about television over the weekend at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Tex., that I moderated, Kathleen McCaffrey of HBO said that television entered people’s lives by letting go of procedurals about doctors and lawyers and telling stories about authentic, frequently flawed people.

“So much of the conversation comes from strong serialized dramas about people’s lives and how they live them,” she said.

The growing intellectual currency of television has altered the cultural conversation in fundamental ways. Water cooler chatter is now a high-minded pursuit, not just a way to pass the time at work. The three-camera sitcom with a laugh track has been replaced by television shows that are much more like books — intricate narratives full of text, subtext and clues.

On the sidelines of the children’s soccer game, or at dinner with friends, you can set your watch on how long it takes before everyone finds a show in common. In the short span of five years, table talk has shifted, at least among the people I socialize with, from books and movies to television. The idiot box gained heft and intellectual credibility to the point where you seem dumb if you are not watching it.

All these riches induce pleasure, but no small amount of guilt as well. Am I a bad person because I missed “Top of the Lake” on the Sundance channel?

Television’s golden age is also a gilded cage, an always-on ecosystem of immense riches that leaves me feeling less like the master of my own universe, and more as if I am surrounded.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/10/business/media/fenced-in-by-televisions-excess-of-excellence.html?ref=television
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Critic's Notes
OMG! PLL! The Twitter-ific success of 'Pretty Little Liars'
By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times

Four seasons ago a quartet of young women began receiving threatening, and very well informed texts, from the mysterious "A," who they assumed was their former queen bee Alison, presumed dead. So you can imagine their shock. Now, of course, they know Alison is alive and well, as is "Pretty Little Liars." It quickly became ABC Family's break-out hit and the most tweeted about series in television, setting a template now followed by every other show, including, most recently, the Oscars.

So if Alison's not "A," who is? For years, the Liars and their fans have tried to figure it out, and while theories turned and turned again (if it's not Ezra could it be Alison's mother after all?), it seems unlikely the answer will be revealed in the March 17 season finale. And since solving the mystery could end the show, we really don't want to know.

Who do you think A is? And why do you think "Pretty Little Liars" has kept us guessing all these years? Join TV reporter Yvonne Villarreal, TV critic Mary McNamara and business reporter Dawn Chmielewski at noon on Monday to discuss how "Pretty Little Liars" is able to do what it does so well. Tweet comments to #askLATimes.

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/showtracker/la-et-st-0307-talking-tv-the-success-of-pretty-little-liars-20140307,0,2814988.story#axzz2vWyaCwv2
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TV Notes/Critics' Notes
The 25 best TV opening credit sequences of all-time
The end of 'True Detective' prompts a look back at this unsung art form
By Alan Sepinwall, HitFix.com
http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/the-25-best-tv-opening-credit-sequences-of-all-time
I would submit that the author forgot a couple opening credit sequences that should have been on the list in place of some of the others:

"The Fall Guy" and "Carnivale".

The Fall Guy not only sets the mood for the show (and is a concept that would still play now that digital effects are doing their part to eliminate stunt players), but is an awesome song with great stunt visuals. Carnivale, with it's fly-ins on tarot cards is a masterpiece of mood setting and and of time and place.

Some candidates for honorable mention would include "Knight Rider", "NYPD Blue", "Miami Vice", the original "Hawaii Five-O" 'Millennium", "South Park" and "Forever Knight". All of those perfectly provide the mood and setting of each show. Heck, to this day, I can't think of the Miami Vice theme without remembering that shot of the woman in the bikini with the bongos playing in time to her...movements...
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post #92885 of 95699 Old 03-10-2014, 12:27 AM
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I would submit that the author forgot a couple opening credit sequences that should have been on the list in place of some of the others:

"The Fall Guy" and "Carnivale".

The Fall Guy not only sets the mood for the show (and is a concept that would still play now that digital effects are doing their part to eliminate stunt players), but is an awesome song with great stunt visuals. Carnivale, with it's fly-ins on tarot cards is a masterpiece of mood setting and and of time and place.

Some candidates for honorable mention would include "Knight Rider", "NYPD Blue", "Miami Vice", the original "Hawaii Five-O" 'Millennium", "South Park" and "Forever Knight". All of those perfectly provide the mood and setting of each show. Heck, to this day, I can't think of the Miami Vice theme without remembering that shot of the woman in the bikini with the bongos playing in time to her...movements...
I posted the below earlier today in the True Detective thread,
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An excellent read about the production of the title sequence from production studio Elastic. Elastic also did Game of Thrones.

Carnivale is an Elastic production as well.
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TV/Business Notes
Sony Agrees To Sell Movies And TV Shows Via Comcast
By David Lieberman, Deadline.com - Mar. 10, 2014

Comcast is fast becoming a powerful challenger to Apple and Amazon when it comes to selling downloaded movies and TV shows — the long-awaited replacement for DVDs and Blu-ray discs known in the industry as electronic sell through (or EST). And today’s deal with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will help, bringing movies including American Hustle and Captain Phillips and TV Comcast new logoseries Breaking Bad and House Of Cards to the cable company’s offerings.

Comcast already has carriage deals with Fox, Lionsgate, NBCUniversal (which the cable company owns), and Warner Bros — but not Disney, Paramount, DreamWorks Animation, or MGM. Comcast doesn’t yet support UltraViolet, so consumers who buy movies or shows from it can’t access them from the entertainment industry’s cloud-based storage lockers. Comcast has its own infrastructure that makes it possible for buyers to access the content they buy, even if they move or stop subscribing to the cable video service.

Last month, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said that since Comcast began offering EST in November it “has captured 15% of the EST market and expanded the business.” He said that other cable operators likely will soon follow because “it’s been too successful for Comcast.” Consumers spent $424.8M on EST in Q4, up 44% from the period in 2012, according to Digital Entertainment Group data.

http://www.deadline.com/2014/03/sony-agrees-to-sell-movies-and-tv-shows-via-comcast/
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TV Notes
True Detective Finale Viewers Crash HBO Go
By Halle Kiefer, Vulture.com (New York Magazine) - Mar. 10, 2014

Well, we did it this time. Our collective thirst for the True Detective finale caused HBO Go to crash and TD fans to lose their minds on Twitter, fortunately both temporarily. "Due to overwhelmingly popular demand for #TrueDetective, we've been made aware of an issue affecting some users.

Please try again soon," HBO GO tweeted. In what we imagine will be a learning experience for HBO regarding the streaming demands of their subscribers (and their subscribers' children's roommates), some viewers were unable to access the site for close to two hours. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who had to wait until the site starting working again. As for everyone else: pretty great, right?

http://www.vulture.com/2014/03/true-detective-finale-viewers-crash-hbo-go.html
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SUNDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insight's Blog
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post #92889 of 95699 Old 03-10-2014, 11:54 AM
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Nielsen Overnights (18-49)
Strong premiere for ABC’s ‘Resurrection’
Posts a 3.6 in 18-49s, best midseason drama in two years
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Mar. 10, 2014

ABC’s new drama “Resurrection” gave new life to its long-fading Sunday lineup last night.

The spooky show about people who rise from the dead posted the best premiere for any new midseason drama on broadcast since 2012.

“Resurrection” averaged a 3.6 adults 18-49 rating, according to Nielsen overnights, marking ABC’s best number in the timeslot in three years. Its rating increased slightly from its first half hour to its second, from a 3.6 to a 3.7, always a promising sign.

It was easily the highest-rated show on broadcast for the night and also drew 13.3 million total viewers, becoming the second-most-watched new drama bow this season, behind CBS’s “Intelligence.”

ABC gave the show a big promotional push, including ads in last weekend’s Oscars ceremony.

“Resurrection” helped pep up the network’s Sunday lineup. At 8 p.m. “Once Upon a Time” posted a 2.3 for its first original episode since December, up 21 percent over its most recent original and its best rating since November.

The 10 p.m. drama “Revenge” also surged, up 46 percent from its most recent episode in January, to a 1.9. That marked its highest-rated episode since early October.

“Resurrection” also lifted ABC to its best Sunday with regularly scheduled programming this season, averaging a first-place 2.2 rating and 7 share.

Elsewhere last night, the premiere of the new non-fiction space series “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” posted a solid 2.1 on Fox at 9 p.m.

The debut ran simultaneously across a number of Fox cable channels as well, though, so that rating does not reflect the show’s full audience. Those numbers will be released later today.

On CBS, “The Amazing Race” jumped to a season high in its third week, growing 20 percent over last week from a 1.5 to a 1.8 at 8 p.m.

ABC led the night among 18-49s with a 2.2 average overnight rating and a 7 share. Fox was second at 1.7/5, CBS third at 1.6/5, NBC fourth at 1.1/3, Univision fifth at 0.8/2 and Telemundo sixth at 0.3/1.

As a reminder, all ratings are based on live-plus-same-day DVR playback, which includes shows replayed before 3 a.m. the night before. Seven-day DVR data won’t be available for several weeks. Forty-nine percent of Nielsen households have DVRs.

CBS started the night in the lead with a 1.5 at 7 p.m. for “60 Minutes,” followed by ABC with a 1.2 for a “Once Upon a Time” special. Fox was third with a 1.0 for “Bob’s Burgers” (0.9) and “The Simpsons” (1.2), NBC fourth with a 0.9 for “Dateline,” Univision fifth with a 0.6 for “Aqui y Ahora” and Telemundo sixth with a 0.3 for the end of the movie “Colombiana.”

ABC moved to first at 8 p.m. with a 2.3 for “Once,” while Fox moved to second with a 1.9 for another “Simpsons” (1.6) and “Family Guy” (2.2). CBS was third with a 1.8 for “Race,” NBC fourth with a 1.3 for more “Dateline,” Univision fifth with a 0.7 for “Nuestra Belleza Latina” and Telemundo sixth with a 0.4 for “Top Chef Estrellas.”

At 9 p.m. ABC was first with a 3.6 for “Resurrection,” followed again by Fox with a 2.1 for “Cosmos.” CBS was third with a 1.3 for “The Good Wife.” NBC and Univision tied for fourth at 1.0, NBC for the first hour of a repeat of “The Voice” and Univision for more “Latina,” and Telemundo was sixth with a 0.3 for “Suelta la Sopa Extra.”

ABC led again at 10 p.m. with a 1.9 for “Revenge,” with CBS second with a 1.6 for “The Mentalist.” NBC was third with a 1.1 for more “Voice,” Univision fourth with a 0.9 for “Sal y Pimienta” and Telemundo fifth with a 0.2 for more “Suelta.”

Among households, CBS was first for the night with a 6.0 average overnight rating and a 10 share. ABC was second at 4.8/8, NBC third at 3.1/5, Fox fourth at 2.4/4, Univision fifth at 1.2/2 and Telemundo sixth at 0.4/1.

http://www.medialifemagazine.com/strong-premiere-for-abcs-resurrection/

* * * *

TV/Nielsen Notes
For ‘Beauty,’ a not so pretty situation
Struggling CW drama is going on hiatus without a return date
By Louisa Ada Seltzer, Media Life Magazine - Mar. 10, 2014

The CW’s “Beauty and the Beast” airs what the network is calling its spring finale tonight at 9 p.m.

But the network hasn’t scheduled a return date for the second-year drama’s final six episodes yet. And that likely means the bubble show will not get a third-season pickup.

If the program is canceled, the network could decide to hold the episodes until summer, or even air them next fall as a brief sendoff, much the way it brought “Nikita” back for a very limited final season last year.

It’s hard to imagine “Beauty” being renewed. It was a surprise pickup last year after posting mediocre ratings behind Thursday night hit “The Vampire Diaries.”

After moved to a new night, Mondays, last fall, “Beauty’s” viewership plunged. The show has averaged 800,000 total viewers, according to Nielsen, half of last season’s audience.

Among the network’s target adults 18-34 demo, last week’s episode of “Beast” averaged just a 0.3 rating, ranking eighth in its timeslot among broadcast shows, behind even ION.

The CW has already renewed a slew of shows for fall, including “Vampire,” “Arrow” and the new drama “Reign.” Though “Beauty” may not find out its fate for a couple more months, being left off the list of early renewals is rarely a good sign.

http://www.medialifemagazine.com/for-beauty-a-not-so-pretty-situation/
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Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Mar. 10, 2014

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
CBS, 8:00 p.m.

In tonight’s episode, Chris Elliott makes a return appearance as Lily’s father. But where, on the wedding day of Barney and Robin’s wedding, is Lily (Alyson Hannigan) herself? And why is she AWOL? One question for which I have an answer: Who’s showing up playing Robin’s mother? Tracey Ullman.

BATES MOTEL
A&E, 9:00 p.m. ET

Does mother know best? On this series, mother is Norma Bates, played by Vera Farmiga, and tonight she thinks she knows the best thing for her still-grieving son Norman – and that’s to get him to stop obsessing about his late teacher, Mrs. Watson. And how does she plan to distract her son? Mother has her ways…

THOSE WHO KILL
A&E, 10:00 p.m. ET

In this second episode, we learn more about the murderer Chloe Sevigny’s Pittsburgh homicide detective is pursuing – and also learn a lot about the detective herself. Hard to say, as the respective stories unfold, which one is darker or more disturbing.

BELIEVE
NBC, 10:01 p.m. ET
SERIES PREMIERE:
This isn’t a recommendation, just a notation, because of the talent of the people behind this new series. Two of the executive producers are J.J. Abrams and Alfonso Cuaron – but with Abrams shepherding both the Star Trek and Star Wars movie franchises, and Cuaron just walking away with a Best Picture Oscar for Gravity, the level of their time and commitment to this new NBC series is a very valid question. The opening hour, about a youngster with special powers who is protected by some and hunted by others, isn’t exactly ground-breaking. But if you’re a big fan of Abrams and Cuaron, you might want to peek in and see what they’re up to. Johnny Sequoyah stars as Bo, the girl with Heroes-type developing superpowers. Jake McLaughlin plays her eventual traveling companion and fellow fugitive, and Delroy Lindo plays someone pivotal to them both.

INSIDE COMEDY
Showtime, 11:00 p.m. ET

On tonight’s show, David Steinberg criss-crosses between conversations with comic actors from two different generations, each the veteran of an iconic TV sitcom: Dick Van Dyke, star of The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, co-star of Seinfeld.


http://www.tvworthwatching.com/
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post #92891 of 95699 Old 03-10-2014, 07:42 PM
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I would submit that the author forgot a couple opening credit sequences that should have been on the list in place of some of the others:

"The Fall Guy" and "Carnivale".

The Fall Guy not only sets the mood for the show (and is a concept that would still play now that digital effects are doing their part to eliminate stunt players), but is an awesome song with great stunt visuals. Carnivale, with it's fly-ins on tarot cards is a masterpiece of mood setting and and of time and place.

Some candidates for honorable mention would include "Knight Rider", "NYPD Blue", "Miami Vice", the original "Hawaii Five-O" 'Millennium", "South Park" and "Forever Knight". All of those perfectly provide the mood and setting of each show. Heck, to this day, I can't think of the Miami Vice theme without remembering that shot of the woman in the bikini with the bongos playing in time to her...movements...
I agree. Along with, in no particular order, "Hill Street Blues", "CHiPs", "Barney Miller", "Police Woman", "SWAT", "The Streets of San Francisco" and many more I can't think of right now. smile.gif

My favorite is "Mission: Impossible".
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TV/Business Notes
Prospect Park Networks Declares Bankruptcy
By Alex Ben Block, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Hollywood, Esq.' Blog - Mar. 10, 2014

Prospect Park Network, which relaunched the TV soap operas One Life to Live and All My Children online in 2013, filed for bankruptcy Monday in Delaware.

Prospect Park’s talent and management company, which represents clients including Ice Cube and the band Korn, and has an active TV production arm that has made such shows as Royal Pains, is not part of the bankruptcy and continues to operate normally.

The bankruptcy also does not impact Prospect Park Network’s lawsuit against the ABC network that was filed in L.A. Superior Court last April.

In the suit, PPN seeks at least $25 million from ABC for allegedly sabotaging the relaunch of the series online. ABC had originally licensed the soaps, which previously had been on the network, to the company after they were canceled.

At the time, a spokesperson for Prospect Park founders Rich Frank and Jeff Kwatinetz had said they would not attempt to resume production on the soap operas until after the legal case with ABC was settled. That case continues through the legal process.

In an announcement about the filing, Prospect Park Network said the bankruptcy filing also will “allow PPN the timing flexibility to collect on a tax credit from the Connecticut Office of Film, Television & Digital Media.”

There was one season of each of the soap operas produced at a studio in Connecticut, where it was located in part to take advantage of the state’s incentives to attract movie and TV productions.

In announcing the bankruptcy, PPN said it remains “optimistic that this filing will make it possible to continue to maximize the value of its assets and settlement of past liabilities. The company is optimistic about the prospects for a smooth transition into bankruptcy.”

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/prospect-park-networks-declares-bankruptcy-687346
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post #92893 of 95699 Old 03-10-2014, 11:40 PM
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TV/Business Notes
Sean Combs Said to Bid $200 Million for Fuse TV Network
By Andy Fixmer and Alex Sherman, Bloomberg.com - Mar. 11, 2014

Sean Combs, the hip-hop mogul now known as Diddy, has bid about $200 million for the Fuse cable-TV channel, said three people with knowledge of the situation.

Combs, 43, rose to fame as rapper Puff Daddy and has since founded fashion, liquor and media businesses, including the cable-music channel Revolt TV. He would convert Fuse, owned by New York-based Madison Square Garden Co., into Revolt TV, which has backing from Comcast Corp., said the people, who requested anonymity because the talks are private. Combs is one of several Fuse bidders, one of the people said.

With the purchase, Revolt TV would gain wider distribution and higher subscriber fees, one person said. Fuse is available in about 74 million homes through pay-TV systems including DirecTV, Dish Network Corp. and Cablevision Systems Corp., compared with Revolt TV, which reaches about 22.8 million homes and is carried by Comcast and Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC), according to researcher SNL Kagan.

“As we have stated, we are exploring strategic alternatives for Fuse, and will have no further comment during what is still an ongoing process,” Kimberly Kerns, a spokeswoman for MSG, said yesterday in an e-mail.

Low Offer?

Michael Senno, an analyst at Credit Suisse, estimated in a Sept. 12 report that Fuse would receive bids between $200 million and $250 million.

“An offer of $200 million seems low for almost 75 million households,” said Paul Sweeney, an analyst with Bloomberg Industries.

The Dolan family, which spun Madison Square Garden off from Cablevision four years ago, has been asking for about $400 million for Fuse, according to one of the people. Al Jazeera acquired Current TV for about $500 million last year. Current reached about 60 million U.S. homes. Fuse’s distribution on Comcast and Time Warner Cable would be less valuable to Diddy because they already carry Revolt TV.

Revolt made its debut on Comcast last year and airs music videos, live performances, news and interviews.

Big Freedia

Fuse airs original programming including “Billy on the Street,” which stars comedian Billy Eichner accosting New Yorkers on public sidewalks with celebrity trivia questions, and “Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce,” a reality series featuring New Orleans musician Big Freedia.

MSG hired JPMorgan Chase & Co. to explore a sale of Fuse, Bloomberg News reported in September. That decision was made after various parties expressed strategic interest in the TV network, Hank Ratner, the former chief executive officer, said on a Nov. 1, 2013, earnings conference call. Tad Smith replaced Ratner as president and CEO last month.

MSG was little changed at $57.55 yesterday in New York. The shares are little changed this year.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-10/sean-combs-said-to-bid-200-million-for-fuse-tv-network.html
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Nielsen Notes (Cable)
Lindsay Lohan’s OWN Reality Series Launch Attracts 693,000 Viewers
By Lisa De Moraes, Deadline.com - Mar. 10, 2014

Lindsay Lohan’s rehab reality series Lindsay on OWN opened in a highly crowded Sunday 10 PM time slot with about 200,000 fewer viewers than caught Lohan’s highly touted sit-down with Oprah Winfrey on OWN last August. That, in turn, had been a substantially smaller audience than some other Oprah-exclusive sit-downs on her cable network. This, just a few days after Lohan’s visit to Jimmy Fallon on NBC’s Tonight show to plug the launch of the OWN series logged a preliminary 3.2/9 household rating, which will likely translate to about 4 million-ish viewers when Nielsen gets them crunched.

Even so, OWN president Erik Logan calls the launch a success, noting Lohan’s opener achieved his network’s highest rating in the Sunday hour in 27 weeks with women 25-54 and that the series launch posted triple-digit gains in key demos versus the time slot’s prior six-week average (+178% in total viewers; +300% in women 25-54; +478% women 18-49), and double-digit gains versus the time slot one year ago (+57% in total viewers; +37% women 25-54; +73% women 18-49).

“We had set out to try to attract a different type of viewer and audience to the network and we felt like we did that — especially young women demo which is up by triple digits,” he said, calling the demo “people who normally don’t come here.” “We thought this was a great opportunity for us — we feel great about the young end of the numbers, and the premiere in a time slot we never programmed before on a most competitive night of television.” He said the numbers for Lohan’s post-rehab sit-down with Oprah are “a little apples and oranges” because that interview occurred in a franchise that was two-years established — Oprah’s Next Chapter. “This is programming a brand new time period and not an easy place to go,” he said. The premiere episode of Lindsay will re-air on OWN tonight at 10 PM ET/PT.

Last August, Oprah Winfrey‘s post-rehab interview with troubled star Lohan drew far smaller audience than some other of Oprah’s exclusive sit-downs. The Lohan interview on Oprah’s Next Chapter on Sunday, August 18, averaged 892,000 total viewers at 9 PM, only slightly above the show’s Sunday average (+7%). For comparison, Oprah’s interview with Whitney Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina drew 3.5 million viewers and her chat with disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong clocked 3.2 million. For the night, including the 10 PM rebroadcast, the Lohan sit-down averaged 1.8 million viewers.

Last Thursday, La Lohan was a guest on Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to plug the debut of her OWN reality series, though she explained it away as doing all the reality -TV stunts, like making the most chaos of her move to New York, though she said Oprah herself has helped her a lot and that she sometimes does not pick up calls from Oprah just so she’ll have Oprah’s voice recorded on her voicemale. During a Water War with Fallon, when he’d gotten thoroughly drenched and railed “Why is this happening?!” she responded: “Because I have the power of OWN!”

http://www.deadline.com/2014/03/lindsay-lohans-own-reality-series-opens-with-693000-viewers/
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post #92895 of 95699 Old 03-10-2014, 11:50 PM
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TV Notes
Fox cancels 'Raising Hope'
By Lynette Rice, EW.com's 'Inside TV' Blog - Mar. 10, 2014

Raising Hope is saying goodbye. Fox announced Monday that it will air two back-to-back new episodes to end the comedy’s four-season run on April 4.

The series finale will begin with “How I Met Your Mullet” which will guest star Lesley Nicol (Downton Abbey), followed by “The Father Daughter Dance” featuring Jeffrey Tambor. It will also include a musical performance by Kenny Loggins.

Raising Hope has averaged 2.7 million viewers this season and a 1.0 rating in 18-49.

“On behalf of myself, Greg Garcia and Raising Hope‘s amazing cast and crew, I would like to thank our audience for tuning in and supporting us over the last four seasons,” said executive producer Mike Mariano in a statement. “We planned our Season 4 finale with this possibility in mind, and hope our loyal fans enjoy the way we’ve chosen to say goodbye to the Chances and to Natesville. Thanks again, and we’ll see you in syndication.”

“Getting to know and love the Chance family on Raising Hope has been a sweet, hilarious ride,” added Fox chief Kevin Reilly in a statement. “Thanks to the incredibly talented cast – along with Greg, Mike and the entire crew – for making us laugh for four fantastic seasons.”

Raising Hope, which was created by Garcia, bowed in the fall of 2010 and stars Martha Plimpton, Cloris Leachman, Garret Dillahunt, Lucas Neff, Shannon Woodward and Gregg Binkley. New episodes begin airing this Friday at 9:30 p.m. on Fox.

http://insidetv.ew.com/2014/03/10/fox-cancels-raising-hope/
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TV Notes
Dan Harmon and Mitch Hurwitz Are Working on a Super-Secret Project
By Jethro Nededog, TheWrap.com - Mar. 10, 2014

“Community” creator Dan Harmon just revealed that he and “Arrested Development” creator Mitch Hurwitz are doing a show (or other project) together. But, Harmon was cagey about sharing details on the project.

“I don't want to talk about it,” he told Rolling Stone while promoting the SXSW premiere of “Harmontown,” Neil Berkeley's documentary about the writer-producer's live podcast show of the same name and the period between his firing and later re-hiring at the NBC Comedy.

He did say that it “would embrace the emerging mediascape, and use us both in a way that we weren't compromising each other, but are still collaborating, and giving the audience a lot to digest. That's all I'll say.”

Hurwitz guest-starred on last week's episode of “Community,” which was apparently part of Harmon's grand plan to insert himself into the fellow showrunner's life.

“I invited him to come down on the show and then I parlayed that into what I really want from him,” he said, “which is friendship, hanging out, talking about how dumb people are when they tell you what to do!”

He would later ensnare Hurwitz into a master plan to co-write something: “He and I have talked about doing a project together, so that every time I see him, I'm like, ‘We weren't just drunk, we're really gonna do that?’ And he's like, ‘Yeah.'”

It remains to be seen what comes of the partnership. In the meantime, Harmon has both “Community” and Adult Swim's “Rick & Morty” keeping him from hiding in Hurwitz's bushes.

http://www.thewrap.com/dan-harmon-mitch-hurwitz-tv-show
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post #92897 of 95699 Old 03-10-2014, 11:59 PM
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Nielsen Notes (Cable)
HBO’s ‘True Detective’ Wraps Season With Its Largest Audience
By Rick Kissell, Variety.com - Mar. 10, 2014

HBO’s “True Detective” is shaping up to be the network’s most-watched rookie series since “Six Feet Under” as the first-season finale of the anthology series averaged a series-best 3.5 million viewers for its initial telecast.

“Detective” added more than 1 million viewers from last week, when it went up against the Oscars and drew 2.33 million. Across the night’s three telecasts, the series also hit a high with 4.9 million viewers.

According to HBO, with an average gross audience of 11 million viewers, “True Detective” is the network’s most popular first-year series since “Six Feet Under,” which was drawing about 11.4 million viewers per episode in its 2001 premiere season.

Sunday’s tally is impressive considering the tough live drama competition “True Detective” faced at 9 p.m. from AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and ABC’s “Resurrection,” which opened very well.

“True Detective” bowed on Jan. 12 with 2.3 million viewers for its 9 p.m. telecast, making it the premium cabler’s most-watched debut since “Boardwalk Empire” drew 4.8 million in 2010. Among the shows that “True Detective” outperformed in its premiere are dramas “Game of Thrones” (2.22 million) and “The Newsroom” (2.14 million) and comedies “Veep” (1.38 million) and “Girls” (870,000).

HBO has already renewed “True Detective” for a second season.

http://variety.com/2014/tv/news/hbos-true-detective-wraps-season-with-its-largest-audience-1201128626/
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post #92898 of 95699 Old 03-11-2014, 12:08 AM
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TV Notes
Adult Swim greenlights live-action 'Black Jesus'
By Patrick Kevin Day, Los Angeles Times' 'Show Tracker' Blog - Mar. 10, 2014

Adult Swim appears to be inviting controversy with its latest live-action offering, the just-greenlit half-hour series "Black Jesus."

The series, from "The Boondocks" creator Aaron McGruder, is based on the premise that Jesus is back on Earth in the modern era and living in Compton, a crime-ridden suburb of Los Angeles. There, he carries out his mission of preaching love and understanding with the help of his small group of disciples. Although that's all the information Adult Swim provided about the series, one suspects it'll have considerably more edge than the standard Trinity Broadcasting Network fare.

Newcomer Gerald "Slink" Johnson will play Black Jesus. And if his voice sounds familiar, it's because he was one of the voice actors in "Grand Theft Auto V," uttering some very un-Jesus-like language.

Other performers in the series will include Charlie Murphy, Corey Holcomb and John Witherspoon. The series is shooting in Los Angeles and set to premiere during the Adult Swim block of programming on Cartoon Network this year.

McGruder will serve as executive producer on the series alongside writer-director Mike Clattenberg, Norman Aladjem and John Bravakis.

The fourth season of McGruder's animated "Boondocks" series will premiere on Adult Swim in April.

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/showtracker/la-et-st-adult-swim-live-action-black-jesus-20140310,0,6291843.story#axzz2vdRzjPGR
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post #92899 of 95699 Old 03-11-2014, 12:23 AM
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TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
TUESDAY Network Primetime/Late Night Options
(All shows are in HD unless noted; start times are ET. Network late night shows are preceded by late local news)

ABC:
8PM - Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
9:01PM - The Goldbergs
9:31PM - Trophy Wife
10PM - Mind Games
* * * *
11:35AM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Rosario Dawson; Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas); Aloe Blacc performs; Jimmie Vaughan sits in with Cleto and the Cletones)
12:37AM - Nightline

CBS:
8PM - NCIS
(R - Oct. 15)
9PM - NCIS: Los Angeles
(R - Nov. 5)
10:01PM - Person of Interest
(R - Oct. 8)
* * * *
11:35PM - Late Show with David Letterman (Jason Bateman; Miles Teller; Gary Allan performs)
12:37AM - The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson (Jeff Goldblum; Lauren Cohan)

NBC:
8PM - The Voice
9:01PM - About A Boy
9:31PM - Growing Up Fisher
10PM - Chicago Fire
* * * *
11:34PM - The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (Director Tyler Perry; comic Billy Eichner; Juanes performs with The Roots)
12:36AM - Late Night with Seth Myers (Rachel Maddow; Ike Barinholtz)
1:37AM - Last Call With Carson Daly (Screenwriter Ronald D. Moore; Vanish Valley performs; actor Hasan Minhaj)

FOX:
8PM - Glee
9PM - New Girl
9:30PM - Brooklyn Nine-Nine

PBS:
(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - A Program About Unusual Buildings & Other Roadside Stuff
(R - Jul. 11, 2004)
9PM - Civilization: The West and the Rest With Niall Ferguson (120 min.)
(R - May 29, 2012)

UNIVISION:
8PM - Por Siempre Mi Amor
9PM - Lo Que La Vida Me Robó
10PM - Qué Pobres Tan Ricos

THE CW:
8PM - The Originals
9PM - Supernatural
(R - Feb. 4)

TELEMUNDO:
8PM - La Impostora
9PM - En Otra Piel
10PM - Camelia La Texana

COMEDY CENTRAL:
11PM - The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (Judge Andrew Napolitano)
11:31PM - The Colbert Report (Journalist Ronan Farrow)
12:01AM - @ Midnight (Dominic Monaghan; Kulap Vilaysack; Howard Kremer)

TBS:
11PM - Conan (Ricky Gervais; Goo Goo Dolls performs)
Midnight - The Pete Holmes Show (Chris D'Elia; Olympic Silver Medal winner Devin Logan.)

E!:
11PM - Chelsea Lately (Emily Mortimer; comic Michael Yo; comic Jamie Lee; comic Julian McCullough)

SYNDICATION:
Check Local Listings - Arsenio (Kathy Griffin; Lance Gross; George Wallace)
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TV Sports
The Somewhat Inside Story Of the U.S. Team
By Richard Sandomir, The New York Times - Mar. 18, 2014

Jonathan Hock does not want anyone to confuse his coming ESPN series about the United States men’s soccer team with “Hard Knocks” on HBO.

Yes, his five-episode series will follow the national team as it trains for the World Cup in Brazil, much as “Hard Knocks” eavesdrops on one N.F.L. team preparing for a new season.

But that, said Hock, a co-producer of “Inside: US Soccer’s March to Brazil,” is where the similarity will end.

“I love ‘Hard Knocks,’ but ‘Hard Knocks’ is about the dying of the dream, about the ones who don’t make it,” Hock said. “The real drama in a pro football training camp is who’s going to get cut. Otherwise, it’s tedium. We have the opposite situation. We have 100 days with elite athletes on the verge of the single biggest tournament and the energy these 23 guys, ultimately, plus the coaching staff, have to come up with in order to succeed.”

Translation: Coach Jurgen Klinsmann cuts each player in a private conversation, not with a camera recording the interaction.

Hock and Roger Bennett, also a co-producer, said their small camera crew would chronicle as much as possible but try not to be intrusive. They promised Klinsmann no surprises.

“That was a critical thing for Jurgen, that he doesn’t have to worry about turning a corner in the hotel and find a camera there that he wasn’t expecting,” Hock said. “We know intuitively where the lines are and when not to violate personal space. But we can still get the human story without crossing that line. We can recede into the background. We won’t be thrusting boom mikes out at them all the time.”

Hock and Bennett said they had no lengthy negotiations to persuade Klinsmann to open up. But he has played and coached in soccer cultures that gave the news media little or no access.

“He’s from that background, but quite different from it,” Sunil Gulati, the president of the United States Soccer Federation, said of Klinsmann. “He understands what has to be done. His persona when he coached the German team was exuberance. We have more open training sessions because he’s instituted them. He’s usually the last one to leave because he’s signing autographs.”

Bennett and Klinsmann are expected to announce the series Sunday at theSouth by Southwest music festival and media conference in Austin, Tex. The series will start May 13 with a one-hour episode, followed by three half-hour shows in the ensuing weeks and a one-hour finale on June 10. It is an obvious part of the marketing that will precede broadcasts of the World Cup on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC.

All-access series have become a sports television staple on networks like HBO, ESPN and Showtime. They succeed best when the access is the greatest, when players forget that the cameras are following them, and when strong or eccentric personalities command attention, like the reliably outlandish Floyd Mayweather Jr. on HBO’s “24/7.”

Who will be the United States team’s breakout personalities? Klinsmann? Jozy Altidore? Clint Dempsey? Michael Bradley?

Hock said finding the dominant personalities should not be difficult. He has produced three documentaries for ESPN’s “30 for 30” anniversary series, two “30 for 30” short films and an all-access series about the Kentucky men’s basketball team. He has won eight Emmy Awards.

After three months and thousands of hours of video, he said, the action and story lines will appear. He abides by the advice of the documentarian Albert Maysles.

“He told me: ‘Jonathan, it’s all empathy. The rest is an optical illusion,’ ” Hock said, adding: “The greatest tool is not a camera or a wireless microphone. It’s empathy. Let people be themselves.”

Bennett said that a primary goal of the series was to portray the players’ fight for respect in the United States.

“One of them said, ‘Go make a film that we can show our grandchildren,’ ” said Bennett, a columnist for ESPNFC.com and a co-host of the “Men in Blazers” podcast on Grantland. “Every World Cup for this team feels like a referendum on whether soccer belongs.”

That feeling might not change when the series ends and the United States opens the World Cup with games against Ghana, Portugal and Germany.

“It’s not just a murderers’ row of opponents,” Bennett said, “but almost a Greek drama.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/09/sports/soccer/watching-the-us-team-closely-yet-respectfully.html?
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TV Notes
Dan Harmon and Mitch Hurwitz Are Working on a Super-Secret Project
By Jethro Nededog, TheWrap.com - Mar. 10, 2014

“Community” creator Dan Harmon just revealed that he and “Arrested Development” creator Mitch Hurwitz are doing a show (or other project) together. But, Harmon was cagey about sharing details on the project.

“I don't want to talk about it,” he told Rolling Stone while promoting the SXSW premiere of “Harmontown,” Neil Berkeley's documentary about the writer-producer's live podcast show of the same name and the period between his firing and later re-hiring at the NBC Comedy.

http://www.thewrap.com/dan-harmon-mitch-hurwitz-tv-show

"I don't want to talk about it".....

Right...he just wants everyone else to.

It sounds like he's putting out feelers for reaction to the idea of a show, rather than actually having anything planned.
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Tonight 8:30pm HBO has a season 3 Game of Thrones recap show.

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Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Mar. 11, 2014

MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
ABC, 8:00 p.m.

In hopes of juicing this show’s momentum at midseason, ABC tonight imports a character from Marvel’s movie universe. No, not Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man. It’s Lady Sif, the Asgardian warrior woman played in the Thor movies by Jaimie Alexander. So if you guessed the wrong crossover character, I guess that makes you a Thor loser.

CARSON ON TCM
TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

There’s another salvo of short interview segments from Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show era, presented tonight on TCM, introduced by former Tonight host Conan O’Brien. Beginning at 8 p.m. ET, and running about 15 minutes each, this new batch of old clips features Bob Hope from 1978, Truman Capote from 1972, Lauren Bacall from 1980, Tony Randall from 1974 and Bing Crosby from 1976. Collect them all. Trade with friends. Then, at 9:15 p.m. ET, stay tuned for a night of Bacall movies, starting with 1957’s Designing Woman, co-starring Gregory Peck, and, at 11:15 p.m. ET, 1964’s Sex and the Single Girl, starring Natalie Wood.

ABOUT A BOY
NBC, 9:00 p.m. ET

In this week’s new episode, Andy (Al Madrigal) asks Will (David Walton) to be the godfather to their son, Johah. And even though Will has made great role-model strides bonding with young neighbor Marcus (Benjamin Stockham), that doesn’t mean, in this instance, that where there’s a Will, there’s a way.

FROM DUSK TILL DAWN: THE SERIES
El Rey, 9:00 p.m. ET
SERIES PREMIERE:
If I’m not mistaken, this is the first time in TV history that the founder and chairman of a network has created and directed a television series for his own network. The new network is the El Ray Network, an English-language cable and satellite network with a Latino flavor and themes. And the new show, a 10-part weekly series beginning tonight, is From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, an expansion and retelling of the raucous 1996 vampire film directed by Rodriguez, written by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Kurtzman, and starring Tarantino, George Clooney, Harvey Keitel and Salma Hayek. The story is the same here, but with more back-story and depth to fill the additional hours. The first hour is intriguing, and enjoyable, with some of the visual flair for which Rodriguez is famous. But it’s only a tempting appetizer for the mayhem and merriment to come. Zane Holtz and D.J. Cotrona inherit the roles of the Gecko brothers, and Eiza Gonzalez is the first image we see, in a flashback showing the snaky origins of the role played by Hayek in the movie: vampire temptress Santanico Pandemonium.

JUSTIFIED
FX, 10:00 p.m. ET

This week, Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) goes on “vacation” – but, as always when he leaves town, he’s got at least one hidden agenda. In this new episode, that agenda has him visiting a gun range to confront a powerful character, played by an actor whose drawl, smirk and swagger fit right in: Eric Roberts.


http://www.tvworthwatching.com/
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post #92904 of 95699 Old 03-11-2014, 10:44 AM
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TV Notes
Tom Bergeron to Depart 'America's Funniest Home Videos'
By Michael O'Connell, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Live Feed' Blog - Mar. 11, 2014

ABC's busiest host is scaling back. Tom Bergeron announced that he'll end his run as host of America's Funniest Home Videos at the end of next season -- the clip show's 25th.

Eclipsing original host Bob Saget a few years back, Bergeron is the longest running emcee for the franchise. He started the job back in 2001, four years before he ultimately took the much higher-profile job as Dancing With the Stars co-host.

"I'm embracing change this month," said Bergeron in a statement. "DWTS will sure have plenty of it. And I've decided that, after 15 wonderful seasons as host of AFV, next year, the show's 25th anniversary(!!), will be my last. As Doctor Who fans know, every so often a regeneration is a good thing."

Bergeron, who won an Emmy in 2012 for hosting Dancing With the Stars, was the fourth host to take the America's Funniest Home Videos stage. He followed Saget and co-hosts John Fugelsang and Daisy Fuentes.

The host tweeted on Tuesday that he might not be done with the show altogether, noting that he's pitching a live spin-off to ABC.

America's Funniest Home Videos is not yet renewed for next season, but the relatively inexpensive show has proven a reliable 7 p.m. ratings performer on Sunday nights. Its renewals are largely a considered a given.

Bergeron is repped by IMG.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/tom-bergeron-depart-americas-funniest-687214
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post #92905 of 95699 Old 03-11-2014, 10:46 AM
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MONDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insight's Blog
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Nielsen Overnights (18-49)
‘Bachelor’ finale lifts ABC to rare Monday win
Averages a 3.4 in 18-49s, just ahead of usual winner NBC
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Mar. 11, 2014

The season finale of ABC’s “The Bachelor” pulled off a rare feat: Boosting a network other than NBC to No. 1 on Monday night.

ABC averaged a 3.4 adults 18-49 rating and 10 share in primetime last night, according to Nielsen overnights, slightly ahead of NBC’s 3.3/10, as “The Bachelor: After the Final Rose” finished as the No. 1 program of the night with a 3.8.

That was just ahead of NBC’s “The Voice,” which posted a 3.7 earlier in the night.

“Bachelor” averaged a season-high 3.2 from 8 to 10 p.m., which was off 9 percent from last season’s finale. Last season’s finale did not air against “Voice,” though; it aired opposite “The Biggest Loser” on NBC.

It was a strong night overall for broadcast, as NBC’s new drama “Believe” posted a 2.7 at 10 p.m. for a sneak preview. It will air regularly on Sundays.

“Believe” equaled last week’s rating for “The Blacklist” in the same slot despite facing tougher competition against “Final Rose.”

CBS’s two original comedies took a hit against the stronger competition. “How I Met Your Mother” tied a season low with a 2.7 at 8 p.m., while “Mike & Molly” posted a 1.8, off 18 percent from last week and also a season low.

At 10 p.m., new drama “Intelligence” did rise a tenth from last week to a 1.3.

On Fox, “Bones” returned to the 8 p.m. timeslot with a 1.7, up a tenth from its most recent original, which aired on a Friday. But “The Following,” which was recently renewed for a third season, matched a series low with a 1.5 at 9 p.m.

ABC finished first for the night among 18-49s with a 3.4 average overnight rating and a 10 share. NBC was second at 3.3/10, CBS and Fox tied for third at 1.6/5, Univision was fifth at 1.0/3, Telemundo sixth at 0.4/1 and CW seventh at 0.2/1.

As a reminder, all ratings are based on live-plus-same-day DVR playback, which includes shows replayed before 3 a.m. the night before. Seven-day DVR data won’t be available for several weeks. Forty-nine percent of Nielsen households have DVRs.

NBC started the night in the lead with a 3.3 at 8 p.m. for “Voice,” followed by ABC with a 2.9 for “Bachelor.” CBS was third with a 2.0 for “Mother” (2.7) and a repeat of “2 Broke Girls” (1.4), Fox fourth with a 1.7 for “Bones,” Univision fifth with a 0.8 for “Por Siempre Mi Amor,” Telemundo sixth with a 0.4 for “La Impostora” and CW seventh with a 0.3 for “Star-Crossed.”

At 9 p.m. NBC led again with a 4.0 for more “Voice,” followed again by ABC with a 3.4 for more “Bachelor.” CBS and Fox tied for third at 1.5, CBS for “Molly” (1.8) and a repeat of “Mom” (1.3) and Fox for “Following,” with Univision fifth with a 1.3 for “Lo Que La Vida Me Robo,” Telemundo sixth with a 0.4 for “En Otra Piel” and CW seventh with a 0.2 for “Beauty and the Beast.”

ABC took the lead at 10 p.m. with a 3.8 for “Rose,” with NBC second with a 2.7 for “Believe.” CBS was third with a 1.3 for “Intelligence,” Univision fourth with a 1.0 for “Que Pobres Tan Ricos” and Telemundo fifth with a 0.5 for “Camelia, La Texana.”

Among households, NBC led the night with a 7.7 average overnight rating and a 12 share. ABC was second at 6.5/10, CBS third at 4.4/7, Fox fourth at 3.5/5, Univision fifth at 1.4/2, Telemundo sixth at 0.7/1 and CW seventh at 0.6/1.

http://www.medialifemagazine.com/bachelor-finale-lifts-abc-rare-monday-win/

* * * *

TV Notes
‘Real Housewives,’ so much drama!
After a year away, the New York ladies are in a lather
By Louisa Ada Seltzer, Media Life Magazine - Mar. 11, 2014

There’s drama in every single episode of Bravo’s “Real Housewives” franchise, but there seems to be more than usual in the season premiere of “Real Housewives of New York” tonight at 9 p.m.

Perhaps it’s because the show, which was on hiatus for more than a year while the cast held out for higher salaries, has more material to pack into one season.

The ladies are hamming it up from the start of the episode, when Sonja declares “Sometimes Sonja has to go commando. What can I say?”

One of the big topics this season will be Ramona’s divorce, which has been making tabloid headlines for weeks.

And while no “Real Housewives” episode can go more than half an hour without some sort of catfight, this one features a real humdinger.

Previews suggest that Aviva, who has a fake leg, uses her appendage as a weapon during an altercation with another woman.

That wouldn’t be the first time ladies of the “Real Housewives” came to blows, and it surely won’t be the last. The franchise is built on crazy, and while it’s doubtful very much of it is actually real, viewers are still tuning in eight years after the first in the franchise debuted.

“RHONY” ranks in the middle of the “Housewives” franchises in ratings, far behind top program “Real Housewives of Atlanta.”

Viewership has declined the past few seasons after Bethenny Frankel, the most popular NY housewife, left the series. But it’s still one of Bravo’s top shows, averaging 1.83 million total viewers for the season five finale.

http://www.medialifemagazine.com/real-housewives-so-much-drama/
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TV Review
'Dusk 'Till Dawn' on El Rey
By Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Mar. 10, 2014

Not many viewers will get a chance to see "From Dusk 'Till Dawn: The Series" (9 p.m. Tuesday) on newbie cable network El Rey, which is only available locally on DirecTV (Channel 341). And that's a shame.

El Rey, created by film director Robert Rodriguez and Univision, gets off to a strong start with a 10-episode scripted, original series on its air just a few months after launch. I can't recall another cable network that was so ambitious. A second scripted series is in the works for later this year.

I am by no means a Rodriguez afficianado. I never saw the 1996 film version of "From Dusk 'Til Dawn" that this series is based on; I think my only exposure to his work was the first "Spy Kids" film. But I really liked the first episode of "From Dusk 'Till Dawn: The Series" that was made available for review.

The premiere begins with Indians chasing a woman through what appears to be a rainforest until she falls into a pit of snakes and one snake enters her mouth. What this has to do with what follows is unclear, so best to just ignore it for now.

So the story really begins when veteran Texas Ranger Earl (Don Johnson) and his young partner Freddie (Jesse Garcia) stumble into a bad scene at a roadside liquor store. Through flashbacks, viewers see how these two characters began their day, which then takes an ugly turn.

While the flashbacks deepen the characters, some elements are smack-you-in-the-head obvious. (When a character starts talking about time and how long until he retires, it's not a big leap to guess he won't live much longer.)

Still, the stylization of the story is impressive as is the way Rodriguez, who wrote and directed the premiere, introduces the robber characters, the more level-headed Seth Gecko (D.J. Cotrona) and his possibly crazy/possibly prescient brother, Richie (Zane Holtz, "The Perks of Being a Wallflower"), who sees their two young, female hostages as terrorizing demons.

"From Dusk 'Till Dawn" is violent and it's not initially clear if viewers should be rooting for the Rangers or the robbers, who previously shot up a bank and killed several Rangers. But the characters are engaging, the humor winning in its darkness. There was enough to appreciate in the first episode that it made me eager to see more.

http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/arts-entertainment-living/tuned-in/item/37788-tv-review-dusk-til-dawn-on-el-rey
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WARNING: SPOILERS for the current season of "The Walking Dead" in this article.

Critic's Notes
‘The Walking Dead’s’ ‘Lost’ Season
By Brian Lowry, Variety.com - Mar. 11, 2014

Since the prison haven went kablooey – not to be confused with the overrun farm – “The Walking Dead” has entered what might be called its “Lost” season.

In practical terms, that’s meant shifting from everyone banded together in a communal (if usually fractious) home environment – seeking strength and safety in numbers – to what amounts to breaking up into condominiums.

Granted, AMC’s zombie hit and ABC’s island-bound drama have some key differences. Both deal with forging societies under harrowing circumstances, but the first is essentially a battle for survival without end, while the latter, imbued with some of those qualities, pivoted on a central mystery that both initially propelled the show and, eventually, consumed it.

Still, with “Dead” characters scattered in every direction – and the producers using this season to delve into individual back stories – the show has taken on a “Lost”-like feel, which has become possible thanks to the inordinate loyalty of its audience and size of its cast.

There are, obviously, logistical advantages to being able to focus on specific actors from week to week – letting some performers have light episodes or completely sit them out.

From a narrative standpoint, it also enhances the audience’s understanding of what motivates them – letting writers drill down into a character like Carl (Chandler Riggs) or Daryl (Norman Reedus) – the key being that the audience feel invested enough so they – that having no Rick (Andrew Lincoln) or Michonne (Danai Gurira) is offset by getting to spend extra time with Daryl or Glenn (Steve Yuen).

For “Walking Dead,” that has mostly worked, thanks to an infusion of strong new actors – including “The Wire” alums Chad L. Coleman and Larry Gilliard Jr. – as well as the fact the series doesn’t scrimp on zombie-gutting action even in these character-driven episodes. (It took zombies, it turns out, to trick vast numbers of men into watching a soap opera.)

That said, the handful of episodes since the midseason break (and beware some spoilers if you’re not caught up) has felt uneven – from the high of Rick trying to escape a house filled with ruthless marauders, a genuine little masterpiece of tension; down to last week’s less successful interlude spent with Daryl and Beth (Emily Kinney). And those followed the pre-prison detour spent with the Governor (David Morrissey), catching up on what had been happening with him.

Admittedly, “Walking Dead” has been building toward something, from the arrival of Michael Cudlitz’s character to the question of what resides at the end of those mysterious train tracks.

Yet after this rather gutsy bit of idling, it’s time to start revving the engines. Because while the show has amassed enough goodwill to take its time in, one would hope things have begun to coalesce around a new direction, at the very least, by the end of this season’s remaining episodes.

Ratings clearly haven’t suffered despite a murderer’s row of competing events, from the Olympics to the Oscars. In this day and age, however, such success merely means having every nuance analyzed to death – and then clubbing the analysis some more, just to ensure it doesn’t rise again.

The compartmentalized experiment has certainly been interesting, and let’s give the producers credit for taking chances – especially with a new showrunner, Scott Gimple, tasked with keeping AMC’s gravy train running. Having played out this thread, though, it would be nice to see “Walking Dead” start getting back on track, as it were – demonstrating that whatever the similarities, all is not “Lost.”

http://variety.com/2014/tv/columns/the-walking-deads-lost-season-1201128286/
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TV Notes
CBS Sets Summer Premiere Dates For ‘Big Brother’, ‘Unforgettable’ & ‘Reckless’, Pushes ‘Extant’ Debut By Week
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - Mar. 11, 2014

CBS is mounting its most aggressive summer schedule with four original scripted dramas and three nights of Big Brother. As the network announced in January, last summer’s breakout Under The Dome will return for a second season on June 30, airing in its old Monday 10 PM slot. The new sci-fi drama series from Under The Dome executive producer Steven Spielberg, Extant, was originally slated to debut two days, on July 2. That has now been pushed back a week to July 9 so the new series starring Halle Berry can get a longer promo push of its own, after Under The Dome has already premiered, including ads in three more Big Brother originals. CBS’ summer reality staple is back in its old Wednesday-Thursday-Sunday airing pattern beginning June 25. For years, Big Brother had launched after July 4. CBS was happy with the results from last summer’s move of the premiere date two weeks earlier and is sticking with the same early rollout this year.

The reality veteran will be used to launch two new drama series, Extant on Wednesday and Reckless on Sundays. The soapy legal drama, originally picked up for midseason, has been pushed to summer, premiering on June 29. CBS’ only midseason drama slot available was the undesirable Friday 8 PM, so the network opted for a summer run instead. Unforgettable, which aired in the post-Big Brother Sunday slot last year, will shift an hour to 10 PM this summer. It’s probably too early to read much into the CBS summer repeat schedule (Friends With Better Lives has not even premiered yet) but still, encouraging news for the network’s Monday comedy block as of next month, with 2 Broke Girls, Friends With Better Lives, Mike & Molly and Mom all listed, along with the certain-to-be-renewed Big Bang Theory and The Millers on Thursday.

Here’s the network’s summer schedule:

WEDNESDAY
(Effective June 25)
8-9 PM – Big Brother (Wednesday Premiere)
9-10 PM – Criminal Minds
10-11 PM – CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

(Effective July 9)
8-9 PM – Big Brother
9-10 PM – Extant (Series Premiere)*
10-11 PM – Criminal Minds

THURSDAY
(Effective June 26)
8-8:30 PM – The Big Bang Theory
8:30-9 PM – The Millers
9-10 PM – Big Brother (Thursday Premiere)
10-11 PM – Elementary

SUNDAY
(Effective June 29)
7-8 PM – 60 Minutes
8-9 PM – Big Brother (Sunday Premiere)
9-10 PM – Reckless (Series Premiere)
10-11 PM – Unforgettable (Season 3 Premiere)

MONDAY
(Effective June 30)
8-8:30 PM – 2 Broke Girls
8:30-9 PM – Friends With Better Lives
9-9:30 PM – Mike & Molly
9:30-10 PM – Mom
10-11 PM – Under The Dome (Season 2 Premiere)


*New premiere date

http://www.deadline.com/2014/03/cbs-summer-schedule-2014-list/
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TV/Business Notes
Anne Sweeney Exiting Disney-ABC to Become TV Director
By Jethro Nededog, TheWrap.com - Mar. 11, 2014

Anne Sweeney, the co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney/ABC Television Group, is exiting the company in January 2015 to pursue a career in television directing.

Calling the past 18 years at Disney the highlight of her executive career, Sweeney said “there has always been a nagging voice in the back of my head” to leave that comfort zone and move more directly into the creative realm. Sweeney acknowledged that the move might seem surprising, “but to me, it's a long realized dream,” tipping her hat to Disney chair and CEO Bob Iger for his support.

“I've been a part of an amazing evolution in our business and our industry, and have achieved far more than I ever thought possible,” Sweeney said in a statement accompanying Disney's announcement of her departure. “But as wonderful as the experience has been, there has always been a nagging voice in the back of my head pushing me to step out of the comfort zone of the executive ranks and more directly into the creative arena that enticed me to TV in the first place.

“I finally listened to that voice and thought, ‘If not now, when?’ I know my decision to step back from all of this to learn the art of directing may seem surprising, but to me it's a long realized dream.

“I am so thankful to Bob Iger for his leadership, guidance and his friendship over the years, and am grateful not only for his offer to remain with the company for many years to come, but his understanding and support of my decision to make this change,” she continued. “I'm excited to spend the remainder of this year positioning the TV Group for even greater success.”

Iger praised his outgoing exec, who joined the company in 1996 after 12 years at Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, for her work growing Disney Channel, ABC Family and ABC.

“Since joining Disney, Anne has been a very successful executive in our senior ranks,” Iger said in a statement. “Over the years, she grew our Disney Channel business into a global powerhouse and the main brand driver of our Company around the world; built ABC Family into a top cable network here in the U.S.; made ABC a strong, successful content creation engine; and has been a great partner in leading our industry into the digital age.

“Anne's collaborative spirit, genuine curiosity and unwavering support have been a constant, but it is her friendship that I most value,” he continued. “I applaud Anne for knowing what she wants out of life and for having the courage to follow her dream. We're thrilled she'll be with us through the end of the year, and look forward to having her direct one of our shows in the future.”

Sweeney's oversight has been far-reaching. She oversees the Walt Disney Co.'s global entertainment and news television properties, which include ABC Studios, the ABC Owned Television Stations Group and the ABC Television Network. That represents more more than 200 affiliated U.S. stations and tens-of-millions of viewers.

Add to that youth-focused ABC Family and the Disney Channels Worldwide, the family of networks including Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, Disney Cinemagic, Hungama, and Radio Disney.

She's also responsible for the company's equity interest in A+E Networks, Fusion, and Hulu.

Sweeney is credited with much of Disney-ABC's early adoption of digital platforms. It was one of the earliest of the media companies to put television content on new platforms, leveraging iTunes, an ad-supported full episode player online and on iPad.

She joined the company in 1996 as president of Disney Channel and executive vice president of Disney/ABC Cable Networks. Under her watch, Sweeney ushered Disney Channel to a 400% increase in subscribers; launched Toon Disney, which would later become Disney XD; and transitioned SOAPnet to Disney Junior this year.

Previously, Sweeney spent 12 years at Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite in various executive positions, most recently as senior vice president of Program Enterprises. Among many accomplishments, she oversaw Nickelodeon's international expansion, including launching the channel in the United Kingdom, resulting in a joint venture with British Sky Broadcasting.

Sweeney has served as a board member of A&E Television Networks, the Paley Center for Media, the American Film Institute and the Special Olympics.

She earned a BA from The College of New Rochelle and an Ed. M. degree from Harvard University.

http://www.thewrap.com/anne-sweeney-exiting-disney-tv-director
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