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Hot Off The Press: The Latest TV News and Information - Page 2398

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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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Nielsen Overnights (18-49)
'Sunday Night Football' boots Emmy ratings
NBC's Falcons-Eagles game draws a 15.7 household rating
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - September 19th, 2011

Football booted the Emmy Awards to lower ratings last night as NBC won the night easily.

The "Sunday Night Football" game between the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles averaged a 15.7 household rating, according to Nielsen metered-market data, down from last week's series high but up 3 percent over the same week last year, when the Manning brothers faced each other in a New York Giants-Indianapolis Colts game.

Last night's matchup featured Eagles quarterback Michael Vick returning to face his former team, the Falcons, for the first time since his jail stint for his involvement in dog fighting.

The game peaked with a 17.0 from 9:30 to 10 p.m.

As for the Emmys on Fox, early numbers looked to be down from last year by about 7 percent. But more accurate numbers that account for timeslot and time zone differences won't be out until later in the day. Media Life will post them when they become available.

Last year's Emmys didn't have to face football, which should explain much of the show's decline. NBC carried the Emmys last year and aired them in August, so as not to interfere with "Sunday Night Football" coverage, which starts in September.

NBC led the night with a 7.4 average overnight rating and a 19 share. Fox was second at 3.6/9, CBS third at 2.1/5, ABC fourth at 1.3/3, Univision fifth at 1.2/3 and Telemundo sixth at 0.5/1.

As a reminder, all ratings are based on live-plus-same-day DVR playback. Seven-day DVR data won't be available for several weeks. Forty-one percent of Nielsen households have DVRs.

Also, ratings for NBC's NFL coverage are approximate as fast nationals measure timeslot and not actual program data.

At 7 p.m. CBS was first with a 4.8 for NFL overrun and "60 Minutes," followed by NBC with a 3.4 for "Football Night in America." Fox was third with a 3.2 for "The OT" (3.8) and "Countdown to the Emmys" (2.7), ABC fourth with a 1.2 for a repeat of "America's Funniest Home Videos," Univision fifth with a 0.6 for "Rosa de Guadalupe" and Telemundo sixth with a 0.4 for the movie "El Coyote y la Bronca."

NBC moved to first at 8 p.m. with an 8.1 for pregame and the start of "Sunday Night Football," while Fox moved to second with a 3.9 for the first hour of the Emmys. CBS was third with a 1.6 for the end of "60 Minutes" and start of a repeat of "The Good Wife," ABC and Univision tied for fourth at 1.3, ABC for a repeat of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and Univision for "Mira Quien Baila," and Telemundo was sixth with a 0.5 for its movie.

At 9 p.m. NBC increased its lead with a 9.4 for football, with Fox second with a 3.9 for the Emmys. Univision was third with a 1.7 for more "Baila," ABC fourth with a 1.3 for "Sunday 20/20," CBS fifth with a 1.0 for more "Good Wife" and Telemundo sixth with a 0.5 for the first hour of the movie "El Cuatrero."

NBC led again at 10 p.m. with an 8.8 for more football, followed again by Fox with a 3.1 for the Emmys. ABC was third with a 1.5 for more "Sunday 20/20," Univision fourth with a 1.2 for "Sal y Pimienta," CBS fifth with a 0.9 for the end of "Good Wife" and start of a "CSI: Miami" rerun and Telemundo sixth with a 0.5 for its movie.

Among households, NBC was first for the night with a 10.9 average overnight rating and a 17 share. Fox was second at 6.4/10, CBS third at 5.6/9, ABC fourth at 3.3/5, Univision fifth at 1.6/3 and Telemundo sixth at 0.5/1.

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TV Reviews
'2 Broke Girls,' 'New Girl' & 'Whitney' Put Ladies at the Comedy Forefront
By Maureen Ryan, AOLTV.com - September 19th, 2011

A lot will be written this fall -- and a lot already has been said -- about the bumper crop of new shows that revolve around female characters. Three women-centered comedies premiere this week, and they certainly have their share of interesting gender issues.

But before getting into that topic, it might be worth saying whether these comedies are funny or not, and whether they have the potential to be consistently amusing once they shake off the flop sweat that almost all comedy pilots display.

In order of both laughs and potential, I'd list the shows in the following order: The solid '2 Broke Girls' (9:30PM ET Monday, CBS) is at the head of the class, 'New Girl' (9PM ET Tuesday, Fox) is in the middle of the pack, and 'Whitney' (9:30PM ET Thursday, NBC) is the most problematic of the three.

That's kind of odd, given that both '2 Broke Girls' and 'Whitney' were created by the same woman, Whitney Cummings (who stars in the latter program), and both attempt to fit slightly edgier material into the traditional multi-camera comedy format. '2 Broke Girls,' which co-creator Michael Patrick King is running now that Cummings is devoting the majority of her time to her NBC show, flows much more smoothly, perhaps because it has a sprightly and viable double act at its core. The odd-couple pairing is one of the oldest ones in the TV playbook, and the two mismatched waitresses in '2 Broke' are good company, at least in the show's initial outing.

'Whitney' is pretty much solo vehicle for Cummings, but the whole enterprise feels much more forced and dated. How is it that '2 Broke Girls,' comedy set in the hipster mecca of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is airing on the most traditional network, CBS, and yet it actually works? And the network that won over hipsters everywhere with smart comedy like 'Community' and 'Parks and Recreation' is airing 'Whitney,' which feels as though it's squashing a comedic voice that would have fit right in on NBC, given the right environment in which to flourish. Such developments are mysterious and strange, but the fact is, CBS clearly came out ahead in the Whitney Cummings sweepstakes.

Not only are 'Whitney's jokes a little musty, the multi-camera format seems like the wrong choice for this comedy. Not that the format can't work on NBC ('Friends' did OK, if I recall correctly), but the execution of the vaguely conceived relationship comedy just feels off here. Whitney's friend Roxanne gets a few good lines, but a crass cop character seems to have been imported from a forgotten 1989 sitcom, and if the goal of the pilot is to get us invested in the relationship of Whitney and her boyfriend, they don't have enough chemistry for that to happen organically.

Chemistry isn't a problem on '2 Broke Girls,' one of the strongest pilots for fall. Kat Dennings is terrific as Max, a hard-edged, hard-working Brooklynite who schools formerly rich girl Caroline (Beth Behrs) on how to wait tables and how to function in the real world. Dennings (and the script) allow us to see the kindness that lurks underneath Max's cynical exterior, and Behrs holds her own with Dennings, who has presence to spare. The pairing has a lot of potential, as does the shared endeavor the waitresses decide to embark on at the end of the pilot.

But '2 Broke' has its own share of clunky mistakes: The diner where both girls work has an Asian manager who is a walking stereotype (the cook isn't much better), and if the show's going to employ 'Saturday Night Live' veteran Garrett Morris, it has to let him do more than occasionally dispense eccentric-old-man one-liners. Having said all that, at the end of '2 Broke,' I wanted to see more of Max and Caroline's adventures, which wasn't the case at the end of 'Whitney.'

Maybe it all comes down to likability, and I simply liked Max and Caroline more than the version of Whitney that aired on the NBC show. But I find it somewhat heartening the women in these sitcoms didn't necessarily fill the typical roles that female characters do on so many programs, year after year; they weren't confined the roles of scolds, helpers, bystanders or sex objects. Max and Whitney are a little salty and make no apologies for their impatient or clueless behavior, and Jess, the lead on 'New Girl' is, well, weird.

Of course, she's weird in a generally "adorkable" way, as Fox advertisements have loudly informed us in recent weeks (God forbid Jess be weird in a truly unsettling way, instead of weird in a way that indicates she may be part unicorn). She answers an ad from three guys who are looking for a roommate, and the sly subtext of the show is that the male trio, for all their would-be player ways, are every bit as dopey and uncool as Jess. They're just less prone to singing spontaneously created jingles at awkward moments or using "Hey sailor!" as a pickup line.

The rather sunny ending of 'New Girl' doesn't feel earned, and your enjoyment level may depend on how much you can tolerate Zooey Deschanel's doofy charisma. Personally, I think Deschanel has undeniable appeal as an actress, but the writers have to quickly make Jess a more real, three-dimensional person or she could become intolerable. Deschanel is the cilantro of actresses -- just the right amount is tasty, but too much is a disaster.

Perhaps the most notable thing about these three sitcoms is that they were created (or co-created) by women. This is network television, so all four stars of the new comedies are very attractive in conventional ways. And it's depressing to note that the overall number of women writing for the broadcast networks has declined; that is a serious problem that the television industry needs to address.

But, as is the case with MTV's 'Awkward.,' these women don't necessarily feel alien to my experience as a female person. They come off as flawed in relatively realistic ways, and the comedy that flows from those flaws -- well, quite often the women are in on the joke. Or they wrote it.

Note: The full 'New Girl' pilot is available on Hulu, Fox.com and iTunes Monday (but it'll be removed from those platforms on Tuesday, the day it premieres).

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TV Notes
Lester Holt Named New 'Dateline' Host
By Lucas Shaw, TheWrap.com - September 19th, 2011

With former “Dateline NBC” host Ann Curry now headlining the “Today Show” alongside Matt Lauer, NBC News has anointed Lester Holt the new anchor of its weekly newsmagazine.

Holt, one of the show’s correspondents, will begin his new duties Friday, which also marks the beginning of the show’s 20th season.

“One of the hardest working men on television, we are so pleased that Lester has added ‘Dateline’ to his portfolio,” Steve Capus, NBC News President, said in a statement. “Lester joins an impressive lineage of reporters who have graced the anchor desk over the past 20 years and we’re really excited to watch as he makes his mark on the award-winning newsmagazine as it continues to tell great stories.”

In addition to his duties on “Dateline,” Holt, a California native, is the weekend anchor for the “NBC Nightly News” and co-anchor for the “Today Show” weekend edition.

"Dateline" is also a weekend show for much of the year. It airs on Fridays in the fall and Sundays once football season ends.

One of NBC's longest-running shows, its hallmark is investigative journalism, in particular on the subject crime. However, it is as of yet unclear how the network's forthcoming newsmagazine, anchored by Brian Williams, will compare or compete with its predecessor.

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Originally Posted by URFloorMatt View Post

The Playboy Club airs at 10pm.

No kidding?
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Critic's Notes
The Men of the New Fall Sitcoms Would Hate the Women of the New Fall Sitcoms
By Willa Paskin, New York Magazine's 'Vulture' Blog - September 19th, 2011

One of the biggest, and certainly one of the most attention-getting, trends of the new fall TV season has been the bevy of smart, sexually assured, twentysomething lady sitcoms, with each network bringing a contender to the schedule: CBS has 2 Broke Girls with Kat Dennings (premiering tonight); Fox has New Girl with Zooey Deschanel (premiering tomorrow); NBC has Whitney with Whitney Cummings (premiering Thursday); and there are more on the way for mid-season. A related trend, but one that has been getting less attention for the obvious reasons the shows are not as good, and their stars don't look as good are the bitter-man comedies: Tim Allen's Home Improvement follow-up, Last Man Standing; ABC's Man Up, which could be called How to Be a Father; CBS's How to Be a Gentleman, in which Kevin Dillon advises a polite, spineless fellow on how to be butch; and, come mid-season, ABC's magnificently wretched cross-dressing comedy Work It. These Sad Man Sitcoms are about how confusing, difficult, and often emasculating it is to be a Man (in the capital-M, being-a-Man-is-more-than-just-having-a-penis sense) in the days of the mancession. The guys in the second batch of shows are in crisis because they have found themselves living in a world that belongs to the women in the first batch of shows and they don't like it one bit.

In Last Man Standing (October 11, ABC), Tim Allen plays Mike, the father of three daughters. His career taking photographs for a wilderness catalogue is in jeopardy because young men aren't as interested in crossbows as they used to be. Meanwhile, his wife's career as a business executive is thriving. Mike rants in his vlog, Howard Beale-style, "What happened to men!" as he complains that guys these days can't survive in the wilderness, catch big fish, or change tires. The fellas in Man Up (October 18, ABC) and How to be a Gentleman (September 29, CBS) sure can't do these things. Man Up is, more or less, a show about three Phil Dunphys: well-meaning, often hapless fellas trying to figure out how to project authority in homes and relationships thoroughly dominated by their female partners. In How to Be a Gentleman, an effete magazine writer named Andrew is chastised by Kevin Dillon's muscle-head character Burt, You know everything about being a gentleman, and nothing about being a man, before beginning to inaugurate him into, more or less, the Tim Allen school of manliness. (Dillon and Allen's characters disagree on one thing only: spray tanning. Dillon pro, Allen con.)

These men can find confirmation for their fears about manhood on Whitney, 2 Broke Girls, and New Girl. Whitney is the forceful personality in almost all her relationships, and the sexually forward one with her boyfriend, Alex. He loves her, but is slightly whipped: I have a girlfriend, so I can't engage in any kind of merriment, he tells a flirtatious woman. 2 Broke Girls' Max is similarly brusque (for good reason; that show was also created by Whitney Cummings). It opens with Max giving two hipsters with bad manners the what-for and rolls along from there, everyone a target of Max's caustic wit. And unlike the self-pitying sitcom men, Max works two menial jobs and doesn't mope about it: She may not be rich or privileged, but she's not blaming Zeitgeisty cultural shifts like the end of women for her predicament.

Kevin Dillon upbraids his effete tutee on How to Be a Gentleman for not knowing how to ask a woman out. Imagine how disconcerted Johnny Drama 2.0 would be to discover that even Zooey Deschanel's soft, flighty Jess is showing up at her boyfriend's house to do a naked striptease and later telling a dude at a bar that she's in the market for casual sex. And "adorkable" as she is, Jess is the character everyone else has to make room for: She moves in with three guys, and takes over their couch and their lives. They have to accommodate her, and when they do exactly what Allen or Dillon's characters might suggest yell at her to toughen up and stop crying it doesn't work. The pilot ends with her new roomies turning down guaranteed tail to sing I Had the Time of My Life to her in a restaurant. Last Man Standing's Mike would likely be horrified by this musicality, given his stated position that "The only time a man should dance is when someone is shooting at his feet." (The line that proceeds this nugget of wisdom is about his grandson's hippie nursery school, which Mike doesn't want him to attend: You know how that ends up? With Boyd dancing on a float. More overt even than the Sad Man Sitcoms' misogyny is their homophobia.)

Oddly, if Mike, Whitney, and Max were all stuck in a room together, they might get along: They all hate hipsters, hate fake tans, and think men have become too emo. One of Whitney's single girlfriend's delivers a rant that could have come out of Mike's mouth: It's a war zone out there: Guys have calf implants. They have feelings. I dated a guy who had a screenshot of a baby, and it wasn't even his baby. When Max dresses down those hipsters, she sneers, I wear hats because it's cold, you wear hats because of Coldplay. Whitney's atrocious ad campaign Men are from Mars, Women are from Planet High Maintenance could just as easily have been an ad campaign for any of the Sad Man Sitcoms.

But the difference is still palpable: Last Man Standing, Man Up, and How to Be a Gentleman are all coming from a place of fear and bitterness. They are predicated on the idea that once, no so long ago, there was a code, a way to be a man that everyone understood, and now that code is gone, leaving Y chromosomes isolated and flailing in a tech-savvy world dominated by women. (Of course, each show has a different idea of what that "code" was: They're just sure it existed and made life easier.) They want to believe it's somehow admirable to be a curmudgeon or a brute, struggling to live up to some old-school ideal, while lamenting that women and less principled men are sneakily taking over the world. You can feel their anxiety: They're losing the race they made up in their own minds. The lady-led sitcoms are contending with no such burden: They're looking forward, not back to some golden age of clearly defined gender roles. On their shows there are lots of ways to be a man some good, some lame and there are even more ways to be a woman. Whether it's true or false, both sets of shows seem to agree that it's way more fun to be a woman than a man right now. Certainly, after watching all these sitcoms, you'd think they have a point.

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TV Review
'The Playboy Club' (NBC)
Cigars? Cigarettes? Catty Rivalries?
By Mike Hale, The New York Times - September 19th, 2011

At the end of the first episode of The Playboy Club on NBC Hugh Hefner, in voice-over, delivers a thesis statement: It was the early '60s, and the Bunnies were some of the only women in the world who could be anyone they wanted to be.

Who knew that way back then they wanted to be Gina Gershon and Elizabeth Berkley in Showgirls?

Mad Men, and the jet-set '60s vogue it initiated, have been the reference points so far in discussions of The Playboy Club and the new ABC series Pan Am. Playboy has also taken some pre-emptive hits for being a jiggle show (despite a fig leaf of proto-feminism), and it was sufficiently provocative to be dropped in advance by an NBC station in Utah.

But the actual show, on the evidence of Monday night's pilot, doesn't really go down either of those roads. What we get is an unwieldy and mostly humdrum combination of mob tale and backstage musical: Goodfellas meets the aforementioned Showgirls (with elements of All About Eve and Glee mixed in).

Chad Hodge, the show's creator, clearly has his heart in the backstage part of that equation. The criminal plot, involving a gangster's accidental death by stiletto heel a campy touch indicating Mr. Hodge's affinity for the style of Ryan Murphy, the creator of Glee is sketchy and handled with a surprising lack of urgency for a series trying to make a first impression.

Instead, all of the show's energy is focused on the rivalry between the Bette Davis-Gina Gershon diva and the Anne Baxter-Elizabeth Berkley ingénue. Here they're played by the Broadway star Laura Benanti, as Carol-Lynne, the senior bunny, and Amber Heard of Zombieland, who wields that deadly stiletto as Maureen, the new cigarette girl.

The episode opens with its strength: Ms. Benanti, a Tony winner for Gypsy in 2008, singing Chicago onstage at the spanking-new Playboy Club. (The show builds on a recent trend of setting shows in Chicago that includes The Good Wife, The Chicago Code and Against the Wall.) A few minutes later we get to hear her doing Sh-Boom. Later the actress Karen LeBlanc does a pretty fair Tina Turner imitation on Shake a Tail Feather and I Want to Be Made Over.

The musical numbers provide some pleasure, but the one reason to watch the show is Ms. Benanti, who has the skill to make the soft-boiled tough-guy dialogue work and who often seems to be the only adult on screen. She's paired with Eddie Cibrian as a former mob lawyer who, in a bit of politically correct window dressing, is now both a crusader for civil rights and a leading candidate for state attorney (while apparently spending every night at the Playboy Club). His interestingly thuggish face is a good fit for the period, but he's awfully lightweight for a guy who has to dispose of a body in the first 10 minutes of the pilot.

The strain of political correctness that tends to surface when prime-time television does period drama (see the suffragists and black bootleggers of Boardwalk Empire) also shows up in a surprisingly prominent subplot involving one bunny's dedication to the early gay-rights group known as the Mattachine Society. A voice-over of Mr. Hefner saying I was a rebel in close proximity to a scene of a society meeting seems to imply a largely unknown role: Hef as defender of gay liberties.

Things don't look so good for the bunnies themselves, however. When Carol-Lynne gains power over them by wielding her influence with Mr. Hefner, in a scene that takes place discreetly off screen her first act is to make their costumes more revealing. She also institutes a rule against dating the customers, but we understand that she does it less out of concern for her employees than out of spite for Maureen, who appears to have taken her place in Nick's groovy apartment.

The sex we see doesn't look very enjoyable, for characters or audience: the two instances in the pilot involve an attempted rape and a brief encounter in a club bathroom. In the meantime the woman-scorned stereotypes are accompanied by dialogue that's presumably meant to evoke a less sexually enlightened era but that just comes off as coarse. (Or secondhand, as in You're the only man I know puts his hand up a girl's skirt looking for a dictionary, ripped off from Joan Rivers.)

Between the two throwback series, Pan Am (which begins Sunday) is the better choice, not because it's any more true to the '60s but because it's an entertaining pastiche of the era's cultural and filmmaking styles. An interesting drama could be made about Mr. Hefner's success in fusing sex, privilege and pseudo-cool into a wildly successful commercial empire during a conservative time, but The Playboy Club sets out to do much less, and succeeds.

NBC, Monday nights at 10, Eastern and Pacific times; 9, Central time.

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TV Notes
Next For Emmy Winner Melissa McCarthy: Co-Creating Comedy Series For CBS
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com - September 19th, 2011

EXCLUSIVE: Within the past year, Melissa McCarthy has gotten a hit show in CBS' Mike & Molly and a hit movie in Bridesmaids; landed her first-ever starring role (on Mike & Molly); sold her first feature script; and last night she won her first award, a best actress in a comedy series Emmy for Mike & Molly. Now she's adding another first to her quickly expanding resume: McCarthy has sold her first network pilot script. The actress-writer and her actor-writer husband Ben Falcone, both Groundlings alumni, have a multi-camera comedy project in the works at CBS. Warner Bros TV, the studio behind Mike & Molly, is producing. The untitled multi-camera comedy, which McCarthy and Falcone will co-write and co-executive produce, is about a woman in her mid-40s who has a spectacular midlife crisis, McCarthy told me at the HBO post-Emmy bash last night. The show is about what a midlife crisis means for a woman, which is very different from the way it affects men.

Last night, McCarthy pulled a major upset by landing the comedy actress Emmy over heavy favorites Laura Linney, Edie Falco and Amy Poehler. But she almost didn't get the role on Mike & Molly that earned her the trophy. During the 2010 pilot season, McCarthy was an early choice of Mike & Molly creator Chuck Lorre, with WBTV quickly getting behind her. She tested for the role and was put on hold, but weeks went by as the network wasn't sold on her and continued to see other actresses for the role. McCarthy said she understood the hesitation. I was always supporting, always playing the girlfriend; I'd never had a lead role, the Gilmore Girls and Samantha Who? alumna said. She may have not gotten the part had it not been for Lorre, who kept pushing for her to be cast. When accepting her Emmy last night, McCarthy acknowledged Lorre, who fought for me. As for landing the Emmy, did the enthusiastic response to her scene-stealing role in the summer smash Bridesmaids help her chances? I think everything feeds something else, McCarthy said.

On the feature side, McCarthy recently sold her first feature script a collaboration with her Bridesmaids co-star and writing partner Annie Mumolo to Paramount, with Lorne Michaels producing. It is being written as a starring vehicle for the Mike & Molly actress. This is not the only movie starring vehicle McCarthy has in the works; she is also attached to Jason Bateman's ID Theft at Universal. McCarthy, repped by CAA (which also recently signed Falcone) and the Schiff Co, recently reunited with Judd Apatow with a role in his upcoming movie This is Forty. And on Oct. 1, she will be doing yet another first, making her debut as host of Saturday Night Live.

McCarthy's career trajectory resembles that of fellow comedy actor-writer Steve Carell. Both come from an improv background and had been mostly supporting players when they were tapped to lead TV series, Mike & Molly and The Office, respectively. And both exploded the summer after their series' first seasons with an Apatow raunchy comedy, Bridesmaids and The 40-Year-Old Virgin. However, their career paths diverged last night when McCarthy landed a lead actress award while Carell, the sentimental favorite on the male side, ended his run on The Office without an Emmy.

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Dolores Hope, Wife of Bob Hope, Dies at 102
By Mike Barnes, The Hollywood Reporter - September 19th, 2011

Dolores DeFina Hope, a singer, philanthropist and the wife of the late, legendary comedian Bob Hope, died Monday of natural causes at her Toluca Lake home in Los Angeles. She was 102.

Born in Harlem on May 27, 1909, Dolores was singing at the Vogue Club in Manhattan under the stage name Dolores Reade when she was introduced to Hope, then a rising Broadway star. As he described it, it was love at first song, and they were married for nearly 70 years until his death in July 2003 at age 100.

Though she accompanied her husband on many of his USO trips to entertain the troops -- usually closing the show with a touching rendition of Silent Night -- she put her singing career on hold to be at his side and to raise their children. But at age 83, she recorded several albums and performed with Rosemary Clooney in New York at Rainbow and Stars for several weeks.

Hope made her last visit to the servicemen and servicewomen during Operation Desert Storm, performing White Christmas from the back of a truck in the middle of the Saudi desert. She was 84 at the time.

The Hopes moved to California in the late 1930 so that Bob could pursue his film and radio careers. They built a home in Toluca Lake, where she lived until her death, and were longtime members of the Lakeside Golf Club, where she was runner-up to the women's club champion for several years. In 2008, she was honored by the Ladies Professional Golf Association with its Patty Berg Award for her contributions to women's golf, and she and her husband served as hosts of the PGA's Bob Hope Chrysler Classic golf tournament in the desert for years.

In the late 1960s, the Hopes donated 80 acres of land for the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., which opened in 1971. Dolores was founding president of the hospital and involved in the building and decor of the hospital. From 1968-76, she served as president of its board and since 1977 was its chairman, becoming chairman emeritus in the '90s.

The Hopes adopted four children, and Dolores became an advocate for adoption, serving on the board of Holy Family Adoption Services in Los Angeles. She was a Catholic and a proud member of St. Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood, where she gave much time and financial help over the years to various parish causes including the building of the Lady of Hope chapel and the Holy Family Social Service Center. Throughout her life, she was devoted to Catholic causes, especially those benefiting the poor.

Survivors include her children Linda Hope of Toluca Lake and William Kelly Hope of Oakland, Calif.; her grandchildren Zachary Hope, Miranda Hope and Andrew Hope Lande; and great-grandson Kai Smith. The Hopes' eldest son Anthony died in 2004 at age 63.

Services will be private, with burial next to her husband at the Bob Hope Memorial Garden in the San Fernando Mission in Mission Hills, Calif.

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Tech/Business Notes
Netflix Strategy Prompts Backlash
By Jenna Wortham and Brian Stelter, The New York Times - September 19th, 2011

Netflix, the company that changed the way tens of millions of people watch films and TV shows, is quickly discovering that there’s a downside to having cultivated such a passionate fan base.

All those customers who appreciate low prices, innovative products and rapid customer service? When they feel slighted, they can sign out just as fast as they signed up.

On Monday many Netflix customers derided the company’s plan — announced unexpectedly late on Sunday night — to split into two separate businesses, one for Internet streaming and one for DVDs by mail. They mocked the new name of the DVD company, Qwikster, and predicted its demise. And they wondered why Netflix’s chief executive, Reed Hastings, was apologizing for “arrogance” — but not for disrupting a service that they adore.

“I have a feeling the apologies are just beginning,” said Mike Gordon, the chief executive of Group Gordon, a corporate and crisis public relations firm in New York. “They’re catching customers off-guard by making huge changes and not providing a lot of explanation for them. It’s been handled poorly.”

Brooke Hammerling, the founder of the technology public relations firm Brew Media Relations, said the separation announcement felt as if it had been hastily pulled together. On Monday afternoon, Netflix did not yet have an official Web site for Qwikster, just a holding page that promised it was “launching soon.” Social networking users noticed that the owner of the name Qwikster on Twitter was not a DVD distributor but a man with an Elmo profile picture whose page was filled with foul language and drug use references.

In addition, many of the 14,000 comments that were registered on Netflix’s Web site about the changes echoed a disgruntled reaction.

“I just got your email, and, as a long-time customer, quite frankly found it to be offensive. And perhaps a devastating miscalculation for your business,” wrote a customer from Chicago.

Another, who identified himself as Aaron Tone, wrote: “It seems to me that companies that truly value their customers make the customer experience as helpful, seamless, and easy to understand as possible.” Netflix’s announcement, he wrote, did “exactly the opposite.”

“The embarrassing part is that it’s pretty evident that Mr. Hastings is aware of this,” his comment said. “This Qwikster sleight of hand move is both depressing and insulting.”

The separation announcement was the latest in a series of back-to-back blows for Netflix, which rolled out an unpopular new pricing scheme earlier in the summer, apparently causing about a million of its 25 million customers in the United States to cancel the service. It was as if Netflix had fumbled the process then and could not figure out how to recover.

The company’s stock, which tumbled more than 25 percent last week after revising upward its expected number of subscriber defections, dropped another 4 percent on Monday.

In a letter posted on the Netflix Web site late Sunday night, Mr. Hastings apologized for the way he handled recent changes in pricing and subscription services. “I messed up,” Mr. Hastings said. “I owe everyone an explanation.”

Mr. Gordon commended Mr. Hastings for crafting a personal letter as a way to make amends with Netflix’s subscribers. But he said the letter missed several key notes, including explaining the rationale behind the shift. “There was nothing in his email about how this benefits the customer,” he said. “This really just means more work and confusion for them.”

Mr. Hastings’s letter said that Qwikster would add a video games upgrade, and said the company felt that by splitting the businesses, it would get better at both streaming and DVD by mail.

But Mr. Gordon said that Mr. Hastings failed to make the new streaming service sound as innovative and exciting as the original Netflix did when it was introduced.

“He’s trying to distance himself from AOL or Borders, but the name Qwikster won’t do it,” he said. “It sounds too much like Napster.”

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TV Review
'Unforgettable,' if not very original
CBS drama features all the elements of a procedural viewers expect
By Tom Conroy, Media Life Magazine

Networks sometimes roll out shows with titles that seem to be begging for critics to make the obvious joke and contradict them. For example, “ ‘Victorious’ should have been called ‘Defeated.’ ” Or “We’re better without ‘Better With You.’ ”

Although CBS may seem to be taking that risk with its new crime procedural “Unforgettable,” in fact the show isn’t forgettable. By casting a recognizable procedural veteran as its star, and by going with a proven premise, the creators have ensured that it will be remembered as that show with the girl from that missing-persons series who had a photographic memory or something.

Premiering next Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 10 p.m., “Unforgettable” is blandly generic in both its conception and its execution. It stars Poppy Montgomery, late of CBS’s “Without a Trace,” as Carrie Wells, one of those crime fighters — like the main characters of “The Mentalist” and “Lie to Me” — with an unusual mental power that helps them catch bad guys.

Carrie has something called hyperthymesia, a rare condition that allows her to remember virtually everything she has ever experienced. The one thing she can’t remember is the day in her childhood when her sister was murdered.

Carrie is living in Queens, N.Y., and making money counting cards in casinos while volunteering at an old folks’ home. After she discovers the dead body of a neighbor, the head detective working the case turns out to be her old boyfriend and colleague from the Syracuse, N.Y., police department, Al Burns (Dylan Walsh), who has also moved to Queens. Carrie had left the force and the relationship because she was haunted by her failure to find her sister’s killer.

As often happens on this type of show, Carrie is suddenly working with the cops to solve the case. She revisits the crime scene and has slightly blurry flashbacks that provide Al and his fellow detectives with clues. For example, the mental picture of a shadow on a wall helps her locate where the perp tried to hide the murder weapon.

With no current police credentials, she nonetheless accompanies Al to interrogate various suspects, who pop up and are then cleared with the regularity of ducks in a shooting gallery.

The perfunctory plot allows Al and Carrie to hash over their backstory and realize that they still have unfinished emotional business to attend to. If it weren’t so likely that the show will tease us for weeks if not years with the possibility of their reigniting their relationship, we might care.

Carrie begins to have brief flashbacks of her sister’s murder. Like the main character’s family tragedy on “The Mentalist,” this story could take years to resolve.

The two principals are convincing as a couple with a past, although their chemistry isn’t exactly volatile. The other regulars don’t get a chance in the premiere to make much of an impression.

As a pure procedural, “Unforgettable” is about average for the broadcast networks. That is to say that the mystery piques our interest just enough to keep us tuned in until the denouement, which is disappointing.

At the end, for no good reason, Carrie puts herself in harm’s way, setting up a brief chase and a fight. This typical procedural device is presumably intended to give the target audience enough of an adrenaline rush to get them off the couch to clean their dentures before bed.

That target audience evidently isn’t interested in innovation. The last crime procedural on broadcast TV to shake up the genre was the original “C.S.I.,” which premiered more than a decade ago. The numerous spinoffs of that and other crime shows suggests that fans prefer slow, incremental changes.

“Unforgettable” should please those fans just fine. People who hope for novelty in new shows should just forget about it.


* * * *

TV Review
'2 Broke Girls,' not to mention the script
One of the characters in this CBS sitcom really works

One of the oldest devices is comedy is mismatched partners — for example, a blustery loudmouth who hangs out with a timid dimwit or an out-of-control rule breaker who fights crime with a by-the-book stiff. But whereas the partners should be sufficiently different from each other to cause conflict, they shouldn’t seem to be coming from entirely different universes.

That’s the problem with CBS’s new buddy comedy “2 Broke Girls.” One of the principals is a rounded, believable character living in a recognizable milieu. The other is a conglomeration of stereotypes, many of them mutually exclusive.

As with so many comedies, the creators can’t choose a level of reality and stick with it. We’re jolted from satire to slapstick to sex comedy, often in the same scene. Although one of the leads remains watchable throughout, the show seems unlikely to make us either laugh or care.

Premiering Monday, Sept. 19, at 9:30 p.m., before switching to its regular time slot of 8:30, “2 Broke Girls” has a promising pair of creators: Whitney Cummings, a standup comedian who also created and is starring in a new NBC sitcom, “Whitney”; and Michael Patrick King, a longtime writer on “Sex and the City.”

But their sensibilities don’t meld in the premiere. One might assume that Max Black (Kat Dennings) is based on Cummings’ experience waitressing while trying to start her showbiz career, and indeed the character is the most believable part of the show.

Working in a diner in the gentrifying hipster enclave of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Max, like most waitresses in areas like that, is living with a handsome but feckless wannabe rock star. But she doesn’t identify with the hipsters. She tells two annoying customers, “You got tattoos to piss off your dad. My dad doesn’t know he’s my dad.”

Nonetheless, she flirts sweetly with the restaurant’s elderly cashier, Earl (Garrett Morris).

The tough-gal-with-a-heart-of-gold character is old, but Dennings pops off the screen. Viewers will instantly fill in the blanks of her sketchy backstory and explain to themselves why such a smart woman is waitressing in a diner.

When one of Max’s co-workers is fired for having sex in the walk-in refrigerator, the owner, Han Lee (Matthew Moy), replaces her with a socialite named Caroline Channing (Beth Behrs). That name might suggest that she’s another stand-in for Whitney Cummings, but her biography is pure sitcom hooey. A snooty WASP from the Upper East Side, she’s destitute and friendless because her father has been jailed for running a huge Bernie Madoff-type scheme.

Caroline says she had stratospheric SATs and attended the Wharton School of Business, but she’s a ditzy blonde whenever a joke requires it. She can’t figure out what “marrying the ketchup bottles” might mean in a restaurant, and she squirts herself with a can of whipped cream.

We’re also supposed to believe that she’s the first person ever involved in a modern American scandal who hasn’t been besieged by agents trying to sell her memoirs or book personal appearances. The only option this Wharton grad can find is to try to market Max’s delicious cupcakes, thus setting up the titular partnership.

A very pretty actress, Behr gives one reason to hope that she’ll be able to fill out her character, once the writers decide who she is. But most of her time onscreen feels as if the creators had someone else in mind for the part. Cummings herself probably could have made it work, or at least could have matched Dennings’ charisma.

The writing is surprisingly vulgar, including at least four jokes about bodily fluids and two about rape. When Max finds Caroline asleep on the subway, Caroline wakes up suddenly and Tases her, explaining that she thought she was being raped.

“That’s not what rape feels like,” Max says. Oddly, the line makes us hope that the show is about to address a darker side of Max’s past, which would at least feel real. But the line just hangs in the air like a bad smell.

A scene in which Max goes to baby-sit for a rich Manhattan woman named Peach (Brooke Lyons) could have come from an entirely different sitcom. King must have met quite a few rich Manhattanites when working on “Sex in the City,” but this character is paper thin. Maybe the writers are keeping a “Nanny Diaries”-type premise on the back burner in anticipation of the likely outcome that the cupcake business will turn out not to be funny.

The writers take the easy route with two subordinate characters by making them foreigners who talk funny. Han, who tends to drop articles when he speaks, says that he’s picked a new name, Bryce, from watching “One Tree Hill”; then he corrects himself and calls the show “One Tree on the Hill.”

Oleg (Jonathan Kite), the Russian chef, constantly hits on Max, saying things like “I thought your tight ass wasn’t coming in tonight, and my heart broke in half.”

Unless the creators of “2 Broke Girls” figure out what they’re trying to do with this show, Oleg isn’t the only person who’s going to be disappointed.

post #71922 of 93719
TV Review
Hot on the tail of Mad Men'
Cliched Playboy Club' offers up a moody noir of girls and gangsters
By Matthew Gilbert, Boston Globe - September 19th, 2011

It's up to you to decide whether being a Playboy bunny at the very first Playboy Club in 1963 was an important part of the women's liberation movement. NBC's The Playboy Club,'' with voice-over narration by Hugh Hefner, suggests that the club, in Chicago, enabled women in their effort to get out of the kitchen, to earn money of their own. Pretty women only, of course - the ones who could fit into those snug, silky outfits that invited drunk, horny men to view them as rabbits, animals known for their innocence and fertility.

It was the early '60s,'' Hef tells us, and the bunnies were some of the only women in the world who could be anyone they wanted to be.''

There may well be a juicy idea for a TV series in The Playboy Club,'' an opportunity to render the lives of post-Ozzie and Harriet'' women in a historic decade of social change. Oh wait - there definitely is a juicy idea at play, and Mad Men'' has already realized it by delving fearlessly into the uncomfortable struggles of women in the workplace and at home with callous husbands. But The Playboy Club'' is a dreary failure, a show that squanders all of its potential by sticking to ancient cliches about women, men, and mobsters while straining for a moody, noir atmosphere. Tonight's premiere, at 10 on Channel 7, wants to be hard-boiled, but it's really half-baked.

The darkly lit show, created by Chad Hodge, is one of two new network shows that attempt to borrow some early 1960s Mad Men'' mojo, by slathering on the Brylcreem and lighting up the cigarettes. The other, ABC's Pan Am,'' is more successful at its goal, which is to be a period soap opera against an international backdrop. The Playboy Club'' plods forward with no ballast, hoping that the vibrant early '60s music and the miles of bunny cleavage will compensate for the lack of original plotting and characters. I had very little interest in going back for a second episode, despite the attractive pre-mod stylings and the Sammy Davis Jr. references. I felt as though I could foresee exactly what would happen to each character the moment they were introduced.

The star is Eddie Cibrian, who tries for the debonair mystery of Jon Hamm's Don Draper on Mad Men.'' He plays lawyer Nick Dalton, who is dating fierce queen-bee bunny Carol-Lynne (Laura Benanti), but who appears to be falling for newbie bunny Maureen (Amber Heard). On her first night at work, Maureen has to defend herself from violent advances by a mob boss. All too ready to be her white knight, the deep-dimpled Dalton helps her hide after the attack. Meanwhile, her co-workers keep an eye on her, including Brenda (Naturi Naughton), a black woman who calls herself a chocolate bunny'' and, referring to her breasts, says, You can't discriminate against these babies.''

Only David Krumholtz is somewhat interesting, and that's because, as the cold general manager of the Playboy Club, he is so remarkably different from his character on Numb3rs.'' Cibrian is wooden and unengaging, and so is Heard. She always seems a beat behind her character, as she naively questions bunny rules and dreams of being a star. Like everyone else in The Playboy Club,'' she's a stick figure - albeit one with a giant pompom on her butt.

On: NBC, Channel 7
Time: Tonight, 10-11

post #71923 of 93719
TV Notes
Channel Surfing: The Sing-Off'
By Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times' 'Arts Beat' Blog - September 19th, 2011

The subset of words that cannot be said on network television seems to shrink every year, but there's one that remains way, way off-limits. It's the king of the cuss words. And The Sing-Off, NBC's slick singing-competition show for a cappella groups, encounters (and avoids) it for the second time in two seasons when it returns on Monday night at 8.

The opening number, which features all 16 groups in the competition, is a rendition of a song by Pink that is generally referred to as Perfect, though that unprintable word is also in the title (and the lyrics). The song is a cry for accepting people as they are, imperfections notwithstanding, and a courageous video of it that Pink released last year graphically invokes suicide, cutting and related themes.

In the context of The Sing-Off, though, the lyrics (performed in the clean version, of course) take on a different, less serious tone, suggesting the small margin for error that the excellent groups on this show have. That was nowhere more evident than in last season's Sing-Off, where the battle came down to three engaging, seemingly flawless groups: Committed, the eventual winner, a gospel-tinged all-male outfit; the Backbeats, an energetic group of young singers from California; and Street-Corner Symphony, a Nashville group fronted by Jeremy Lister.

It was Street-Corner Symphony that had the encounter with That Word. In the season's second-best performance (best: the Backbeats' Landslide), the group sang Creep, the mournful Radiohead song, which uses the word at a pivotal point in its chorus. Street-Corner Symphony didn't.

With 16 groups (six more than last season), the two-hour premiere may seem crowded. But Joel Gallen, executive producer of the show, said the variety of music sampled on the show would expand. We're really trying to find all the genres that will lend themselves to a cappella music, which we're finding is pretty much all of them, he said. Among the challenges in future weeks, he said, will be a '60s-themed round and a mashup round, in which the groups must combine several songs into one.

Should be interesting.

post #71924 of 93719
Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

TV-on-DVD/Critic's Notes
DVD: Can the Packaging Get Worse?
By Diane Werts, TVWorthWatching.com - September 18th, 2011

Just got Star Wars on Blu-ray when it came out Friday, and couldn't wait to open it.

Then I opened it.

NOT again.

Yes, again. The packaging for this super-duper much-hyped better-than-ever souped-up high-def edition is indeed worse for disc-keeping than previous editions.

The style of the packaging has been known for months as there even have been youtube vids showing how it looks when opening.

Seems wierd that someone doing an article for tv-on-dvd would just be finding out about the packaging now.
post #71925 of 93719
Originally Posted by dcowboy7 View Post

The style of the packaging has been known for months as there even have been youtube vids showing how it looks when opening.

Seems wierd that someone doing an article for tv-on-dvd would just be finding out about the packaging now.

The author was making a larger point about the general state of DVD/BD packaging regarding special or collector sets; the SW example was just one of many used to illustrate her point.
post #71926 of 93719
Oh like one of those Confucius, Grasshopper stories.
post #71927 of 93719
Business Notes
Charlie Sheen and Warner Bros. near settlement
By Joe Flint, Los Angeles Times - September 19th, 2011

Charlie Sheen and Warner Bros. are putting the finishing touches on a deal to end their legal battle.

Sheen, who had been in a fight with Warner Bros. over the studio's firing him from his starring role on the CBS hit sitcom "Two and a Half Men" last March, will get about $25 million to settle out of his contract, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The figure represents Sheen's participation in profits from the show.

A spokesman for Warner Bros. denied there is a settlement and declined to comment further. A spokesman for Sheen referred calls to the actor's lawyer, who couldn't be reached immediately.

The expected agreement, which is still being ironed out, would bring to an end one of the ugliest fights ever between a star and a studio. It started in January when Warner Bros. shut down production on "Two and a Half Men" so Sheen, who has had a history of substance abuse issues, could seek treatment. It was not the first time the studio had to stop production on the show because of worries about Sheen's well-being.

A few weeks later, Sheen declared himself ready to return to work and when Warner Bros. didn't agree, he went on a public-relations offensive. Appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America" and NBC's "Today," he blasted Warner Bros. and "Two and a Half Men" co-creator Chuck Lorre and boasted about his drug use, womanizing and rock 'n' roll lifestyle.

Warner Bros. decided after those appearances to pull the plug on the rest of the season of the show. After another attack by Sheen, the studio fired the actor because he was "engaged in dangerously self-destructive conduct" and unable to perform at an acceptable level.

Sheen sued Warner Bros. for $100 million for wrongful termination. A California Superior Court judge ruled that any dispute about the terms of Sheen's contract had to go to arbitration.

After he was fired, Sheen went on a national tour he dubbed the "Torpedo of Truth." Sheen used the show to boast of his lifestyle and occasionally mock his old job. During the first show of the tour in Detroit, he burned one of the shirts he had worn on "Two and a Half Men."

When he was fired from "Two and a Half Men," Sheen was the highest-paid actor in television, making $1.2 million per-episode. Besides the eight episodes he did not make last season, he was under contract for 24 episodes for this season meaning that he was set to make $38.4 million plus his participation in rerun money the show generates.

Sheen has spent the last few months trying to repair the damage to his reputation and land new work. He struck a deal with the production company Debmar-Mercury to star in a new television show based on the movie "Anger Management." The show is currently staffing up, but has not found a home on a broadcast or cable channel yet.

Over the past few days while promoting a roast of himself scheduled to air on Monday night on the cable channel Comedy Central, Sheen made a few television appearances seeming contrite and acknowledging he was out of control when he was let go by Warner Bros. He even told Jay Leno, host of NBC's "The Tonight Show" that he would have fired himself too. On Sunday night, he appeared on Fox's telecast of the Emmy Awards wishing the cast and crew of "Two and a Half Men" good luck. "From the bottom of my heart I wish you nothing but the best for this upcoming season."

The new season of "Two and a Half Men," with actor Ashton Kutcher joining the show in a starring role, is set to premiere Monday night. It is expected to generate big ratings as viewers check out to see how the program will carry on without Sheen.

post #71928 of 93719
May the Hopes rest in peace. Great couple and great Americans. RIP!
post #71929 of 93719
My wife said that maybe laughter was the best medicine since both Bob and Dolores Hope's lived to be centenarians.
post #71930 of 93719
Originally Posted by foxeng View Post

My wife said that maybe laughter was the best medicine since both Bob and Dolores Hope's lived to be centenarians.

I believe there is something to that, now if they would just air a sitcom I could get into. Then again, my granddaughter keeps me in stitches.
post #71931 of 93719
TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
TUESDAY Network Primetime/Late Night Options
(All shows are in HD unless noted; start times are EDT. Network late night shows are preceded by late local news)

8PM - Dancing with the Stars: Meet the Cast
9PM - Dancing with the Stars (LIVE)
10:01PM - Body of Proof (Season Premiere)
* * * *
11:30PM - Nightline (LIVE)
Midnight - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Simon Cowell; the latest couple eliminated from "Dancing With the Stars"; Gavin DeGraw performs)

8PM - NCIS (Season Premiere)
9PM - NCIS: Los Angeles (Season Premiere)
10PM - Unforgettable (Series Premiere)
* * * *
11:35PM - Late Show with David Letterman (Jonah Hill; Paula Abdul; Coldplay performs)
12:37AM - Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Harry Connick Jr.; Kathryn Hahn)

8PM - The Biggest Loser (LIVE, 120 min.)
10PM - Parenthood
* * * *
11:35PM - The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (Gerard Butler; Whitney Cummings; Kelly Clarkson performs)
12:37AM - Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (Dana Carvey; singer Demi Lovato; Clap Your Hands Say Yeah performs)
1:36AM - Last Call with Carson Daly* (Music producer David Guetta; The Decemberists perform) SD
(*first new episode since May)

8PM - Glee (Season Premiere)
9PM - New Girl (Series Premiere)
9:30PM - Raising Hope (Season Premiere)

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - History Detectives
9PM - Frontline: The Wounded Platoon
10PM - POV: The Learning (90 min.)

8PM - Teresa
9PM - La Fuerza del Destino
10PM - AquÃ* y Ahora

8PM - 90210
9PM - Ringer

8PM - Mi Corazón Insiste
9PM - Flor Salvaje
10PM - La Casa de Al Lado

11PM - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Author Ron Suskind)
11:31PM - The Colbert Report (Author Jeffrey Kluger)

11PM - Conan (Simon Baker; Bryce Dallas Howard; Matt Nathanson performs)

11PM - Chelsea Lately (Anthony Mackie; comic Moshe Kasher; TV personality Ross Mathews; comic Sarah Colonna)
post #71932 of 93719
TV Notes
Tuesday's Highlights: 'Glee' on Fox
By Los Angeles Times' 'Show Tracker' Blog - September 19th, 2011


ENSEMBLE: "Glee," the musical series set in high school returns for a new season at 8 p.m. on Fox.


An agent lies dead after Tony's (Michael Weatherly) months-long search for his target in the season premiere (8 p.m. CBS).

The Biggest Loser: In the season premiere of the weight loss series the contestants are asked to choose one of three trainers (8 p.m. NBC).

NCIS: Los Angeles: The new season of this procedural drama opens with questions left over from last season (9 p.m. CBS).

New Girl: After a woman (Zooey Deschanel) becomes the roommate of three guys (Jake Johnson, Max Greenfield and Damon Wayans Jr.) in this new sitcom (9 p.m. Fox).

Raising Hope: The second season of the Emmy-nominated sitcom opens (9:30 p.m. Fox).

Unforgettable: Poppy Montgomery stars in this new crime drama (10 p.m. CBS).

Body of Proof: Dana Delany is back as a neurosurgeon-turned-medical examiner for the season premiere (10 p.m. ABC).

POV: In the new film The Learning four Filipino women leave their families and schools to teach in Baltimore (10 p.m. KOCE).

Born to Dance: Laurieann Gibson: In the season finale the three final contestants perform live with Lady Gaga before the winner is chosen (10 p.m. BET).


Kathy Griffin: Pants Off:
The comedian performs at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa (9 p.m. Bravo).


The Angels visit the Toronto Blue Jays (4 p.m. FSN); the San Francisco Giants visit the Dodgers (7 p.m. KCAL).

post #71933 of 93719
Originally Posted by JoeTiVo View Post

Netflix CEO Apologizes - And Changes Service Again

A blog posting by Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO, Netflix -September 18th, 2011

An Explanation and Some Reflections

I messed up. I owe everyone an explanation.

When Netflix is evolving rapidly, however, I need to be extra-communicative. This is the key thing I got wrong.

In hindsight, I slid into arrogance based upon past success. We have done very well for a long time by steadily improving our service, without doing much CEO communication. Inside Netflix I say, Actions speak louder than words, and we should just keep improving our service.

.... It's hard for me to write this after over 10 years of mailing DVDs with pride, but we think it is necessary and best: In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to Qwikster.

We chose the name Qwikster because it refers to quick delivery. We will keep the name Netflix for streaming.


Respectfully yours,

-Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO, Netflix

Wow. That read like an article from The Onion. Halfway through I actually had to go back and verify that it was a real news article and not a parody.

Reed should really get an MRI. The only thing I can think of that would explain this strange behavior is that he's had a stroke and is bleeding in his brain.
post #71934 of 93719
TV Review
'New Girl' could soon be the most popular series on TV
By Robert Bianco, USA Today - September 19th, 2011

There's a new girl in town.

From its infancy, TV has had funny ladies to help power its sitcoms, from Lucille Ball through such diverse talents as Mary Tyler Moore, Bea Arthur and Roseanne, all the way up to Patricia Heaton, Tina Fey and Julie Bowen. If tonight's New Girl debut is a fair indication, that list may add a name: Zooey Deschanel.

Given a role tailored to launch her from respected indie actor to certified TV star, Deschanel soars, combining well-honed skills with a natural charm. Socially awkward geeks are nothing new for TV, but she and show creator Liz Meriwether have shaped Jess into something we haven't quite seen before — a woman who is sweet yet crass, innocent yet sexy, beautiful yet clumsy, and brash yet irresistibly adorable. Not to mention that Jess has a habit of underscoring her life with her own theme song, a trait that simultaneously mocks old sitcoms while bringing Jess into their loving fold.

Almost every choice the show makes tonight is a wise one, starting with Jess' opening recounting of a sexual escapade gone wrong, and ending with a one-word punch line that makes it clear Jess is no naïve pushover. In between, Girl sets up a viable premise and introduces a strong set of supporting characters, which is just what you want from fall's most promising new series.

That premise has Jess searching for a new place to live and ending up sharing an apartment with three bachelors. Nick (Jake Johnson) is a bartender trying to recover from a bad breakup of his own, Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.) is a personal trainer baffled by women, and Schmidt (Max Greenfield) is a would-be hound redeemed by his willingness to pay for his more houndlike moments. They agree to take Jess in because she knows women like Cece (Hannah Simone), a model who tweaks some of TV's stereotypes by being smarter than the boys and supportive of her best friend.

By the end of the pilot, they're a sitcom-friendly family, with the boys teaching Jess about men, and Jess and Cece teaching them about women. The only problem is that Wayans — who, sad to say, is committed to ABC's Happy Endings— is leaving it. He'll be replaced in the next episode by a new character played by Lamorne Morris, who we'll have to hope fits in equally well.

Some people will be resistant to Deschanel's doe-eyed charm; others have a congenital need to insult anyone who most everyone else is praising, particularly if doing so gets them attention. If you fall in either category, steer clear.

For the rest of us, this could be a Girl to cherish.

Fox, Tuesday, 9 ET/PT
Rating: ★★★1/2 (out of four)

post #71935 of 93719
Spoilers about last night's first two episodes of the new season of "How I Met Your Mother" in this article. If you don't want to know what happened, DO NOT READ.

TV Notes
Why I Have Trust Issues With 'How I Met Your Mother'
By Maureen Ryan, AOLTV.com - September 19th, 2011

It's good for the sake of 'How I Met Your Mother' that this is a busy time of year.

The first time I watched 'The Best Man,' the show's season 7 premiere last week, I was extremely irritated. By Monday afternoon, when I found time to watch 'The Best Man' again, I was so worn out from Emmy duty and other tasks that what's below isn't quite an energetic rant.

It's more an elegy of serious disappointment directed toward a show toward which I still have a great deal of residual affection.

It's worth noting that there are two 'HIMYM' episodes airing Monday, but I've only seen the first one. If there's something worth saying after the second episode airs, and I have the energy to say it, I may amend this post. But I seriously doubt as to whether any of the issues I have with 'HIMYM' as a whole will be addressed, let alone resolved, in the second episode of the season. (Note: I've added one addendum below, now that I've seen the second episode.)

Here's one big problem: The whole "who is the mother of Ted's children" concept is played out. It is tired. It was device that had a shelf life that expired some time back. It was once amusing and a little bit fun. It's not any more. We don't know who the mother is, and we're not going to find out for a long time (as the Narrator Ted, who thinks we'll find this funny, keeps telling us. Dear Narrator Ted, Shut. Up. On this subject, you're not amusing).

We keep getting these feints and "clues" and alleged progressions that turn out to be, well, nothing. In 'The Best Man,' we're told that Barney's wedding is instrumental in Ted meeting the mother. Then the show never goes anywhere with that. We're just supposed to wait. Because seven seasons isn't a long enough waiting period, apparently.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: The show needs to either stop referencing the mother or introduce her as a regular part of the gang and be done with it. As a storytelling conceit, it's a distraction. It's a growing annoyance. It's actively detracting from what is good about the show. It's had its day. It's pushing up the daisies. It is, in short, an ex-parrot.

So what does the season 7 premiere do? It doubles down on the whole "mystery bride" concept.

Lord, give me strength.

For seven seasons, Ted Mosby has been ensnared in the "Who is the mother" story line, and I'll fully admit, I did my share of stories about mother clues and "developments" along the way. The mother plot wasn't the reason I loved the show, but it was a fun add-on, if you will, to the kind of cleverness that 'HIMYM' does at its best. But, as I said, I'm extremely tired of it now (in part because the show does single-episode cleverness well. Season-long arcs that are structurally and not emotionally based are much, much harder to pull off and far less satisfying).

But now 'HIMYM' is putting Barney in a similar "mystery bride" story line? Instead of giving us real movement on the mother, 'HIMYM' is doubling down on the show's least pleasing, most distracting aspect?

Why? What purpose does it serve to not know who Barney is marrying? I call shenanigans. Major, irritating, possibly corrosive shenanigans.

I would argue that this move actually hurts the show, in that 'HIMYM' will have to make it plausible that Barney could have realistic, deep romances with two different women (and we've only ever seen him try that once, and that didn't work -- or, I should say, 'HIMYM' awkwardly and randomly decided it didn't work). 'HIMYM' will have to do a ton of heavy lifting to make it seem as though he could be headed to the altar with both Robin and Nora (or, God forbid, some other mystery woman).

I can't think of a good reason to put Barney in a "mystery bride" plot. I really can't. Of course, a story line in which Barney gets into a relationship with Nora while secretly pining for Robin and Robin stands by silently and nurtures rekindled feelings for Barney is perfectly good 'HIMYM' fodder. I've got no problem with any of that that. But why the "mystery" of who he's going to marry? It just seems like another artificial contrivance in a show that is already overburdened with a big one.

It also seems like a desperate maneuver to prop up interest in a show that is going into its seventh season. I can understand the desire to keep the media interested in 'HIMYM.' But I can't understand sacrificing the best parts of the show -- its focus on realistic life problems and the ups and downs of friendship and love -- to do it. As I said, the mother story is already tiresome. Another season-long mystery created just for the sake of having more than one gimmick isn't exactly going to help me re-invest in 'HIMYM.'

Let me break it down for you a different way. People have long compared 'HIMYM' to 'Lost,' in that both shows take a lot of narrative chances with structure and storytelling, and both shows are (at their best) about the importance of things like love, loyalty and hope. Remember how people got really, really sick of the flashbacks in seasons 2 and especially season 3 of 'Lost'?

Well, the show eventually found a way out of that box. 'Lost' changed things up narratively, not in ways that were universally loved, but it gave itself a new bunch of tricks and tools, and the show was better for it. Not just because the structure of episodes changed, but because they changed in ways that were designed (at least in part) to get us more deeply invested in the characters' journeys. I stuck with it all six seasons because, even when a particular story didn't work, the ongoing plots and structures were altered and tinkered with in service to the stories of the characters. For the most part, things weren't the other way around.

But nothing about 'HIMYM's' mother plot has changed in seven seasons. We get "clues" (Here's her roommate! Here's her ankle! Yellow umbrella! She's in Ted's class!) that never really go anywhere. Nothing about those clues or the mother plots have made us care about Ted more. In fact, I'd argue that his quest for true love in New York City has been overshadowed on occasion by the contrivances and the mechanics of the mother story line.

Season 1 Ted was a romantic, and sometimes he still is (or rather, a bruised romantic, which is what he occasionally is now, as in that cigar scene with Robin). But maybe we'd be more invested in that quest of his if he had had actual, real movement on this front. No, dating Zoey and his other relationships don't count, because, let's face it, who can really remember any of them except Stella? Maybe we don't care as much about Ted because his non-mother relationships seems so readily disposable.

(Addendum based on 'The Naked Truth') Case in point is the Victoria situation. At the start of the season 7 premiere, Narrator Ted says, "I never would have met your mother if it weren't for a wedding." Well, Ted didn't see Victoria again at a wedding -- he saw her at the Architect's Ball. And he met her way back in season 1. Now, unless you want to interpret things very broadly and say that because of some new belief or attitude picked up at or after Punchy's wedding, Ted wouldn't have spotted Victoria or wouldn't have been open to seeing her again (all of which is a vast stretch), Victoria is not the wedding-connected woman he speaks of. So Victoria's just another relationship that we can see will go nowhere, or Narrator Ted is just talking nonsense. Neither of these things is an attractive possibility.

As for the show as a whole, well, what if 'Lost' had stuck with the exact same kind of flashbacks all six seasons? You would have wanted to throw things at some point, right? Or, more likely, you would have just checked out. By not recognizing that the mother plot has become an albatross -- and by actually creating another mystery bride story line -- I almost wonder if 'HIMYM' is asking me if I want to check out. And I'm afraid of what the answer might be.

If a show has a narrative device, it should be about something. There should be a greater purpose to it. These mystery bride plots should help me care more about Barney and about Ted. In 'The Best Man,' neither of those things happened. In point of fact, the mother mentions made me fear additional stretches of the kind of frustrating non-progress that Narrator Ted likes to joke about. Ha ha! And I don't need a mystery bride plot to know that Neil Patrick Harris will absolutely nail whatever emotional material the writers throw at him. Why not trust him -- and the audience -- to already have that bond and be willing to go on that journey, without a contrived wedding mystery?

I get that some fans of the show like having these kinds of mysteries embedded in the show, and I didn't mind them for a long time -- as long as they weren't distracting. At this point, they're distracting. I'm guessing the show only has two seasons left (though that's not official at this stage). I don't want it to engage in yet more seasons of tap-dancing and evasion (remember how well that worked out for 'Lost' in the depths of its third season?).

I want to spend that time watching kick-ass episodes about characters I care about. I don't care whether or not the episodes have gimmicks or over-arching plots -- as long as they deliver the kind of humor and emotional moments that made me care about 'HIMYM' in the first place.

Of course, there were things to like in the season premiere, especially Drunk Marshall ("I will do this for the child"), Cobie Smulders in the phone call scene, and the dance between Barney and Robin. But everything was overshadowed by a structural conceit that has had no payoff in the past and does not promise a payoff any time soon.

I don't mean to foreground the mother thing: There are things that 'HIMYM' does much better. But the show keeps foregrounding these mystery brides, and if it's going to do so, it has to take me somewhere with all this. Will it?

I guess I'm sort of like Ted -- I've stopped believing. I won't stop watching, probably. I'm too far in for that. But I've stopped believing that the mystery bride plots will have a purpose and emotional payoffs that make them worth the long, seemingly pointless waits. And if that feeling continues, 'HIMYM' episodes may start stacking up, unwatched, on my DVR.

Maybe you have a different take. Feel free to leave it in comments.

Mondays at 8PM ET/PT on CBS

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How I Met Your Mother wears me out. I stopped watching it regularly a couple of seasons back. Most of Ted's stories have nothing to do with meeting his kids' mother.
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TV Review
'Unforgettable': Carrie Wells plays woman plagued with memory problems in CBS cop drama
By David Hinckley, New York Daily News - September 20th, 2011

Carrie Wells could have a serious downside as a girlfriend, but she makes a good investigator and an intriguing lead in "Unforgettable," the CBS cop drama that kicks off Tuesday night at 9.

Carrie, played by Poppy Montgomery, has a rare condition that enables, or condemns, her to remember everything she sees or hears.

That's great when she remembers a shadow at a murder scene and uses that clue to find the murder weapon.

It's less fun for her old boyfriend, Al Burns (Dylan Walsh), when she can quote a burst of criticism he directed at her at 3 in the morning - nine years ago.

Man, it's bad enough when they only remember you said something harsh. To have the whole thing available to throw back at you for the rest of your life - well, imagine dating a human Pentium chip.

Anyhow, Carrie and Al were working together in the Syracuse Police Department at the time, and soon after that, they broke up.

Carrie quit the force and moved to New York. She seems to make a living at gambling halls, where her memory enables her to count cards and thus beat the house. The problem is that once the house sees this is what she is doing, she is thrown out on her ear.

Now Al has moved to New York himself, to become a detective with the NYPD. And sure enough, one day Carrie turns up as a peripheral witness in a murder case he's working.

It's immediately clear he's never gotten over her, and she's probably never gotten over him, despite that thing he said.

Fortunately, "Unforgettable" has more on its mind than two old flames rekindling the spark.

Carrie, we soon learn, has one hole in her perfect memory. She can't summon several key details from the day she and her sister, Rachel, were playing in the woods and Rachel was murdered.

She can't stop seeing some parts of that day, like the way she kept calling Rachel's name and how she found Rachel's body. But other parts are missing, like solid clues about the perp.

Carrie got into police work to try to find that answer. She left police work when she found it too tormenting.

Some of this correctly suggests parallels between Carrie and Stana Katic's Kate Beckett on "Castle" - their obsession with solving a murder that was personal and the handsome loyal guy who wants to stand by them and can't figure out how.

But while "Unforgettable" gives each character passing moments of dry humor, overall, it's a darker show than "Castle." Carrie carries her sadness more heavily, and this show doesn't seem to have the extended comic riffs of "Castle."

On the other hand, it uses New York better than "Castle," since it's actually shot here - mostly in Queens, where Carrie says "you can still get a one-bedroom for $1,200."

Montgomery's last gig on CBS, "Without a Trace," lasted seven years. "Unforgettable" has a ways to go, but it's got a lot of the right stuff.

Tuesdays at 10PM on WCBS-TV/Ch.2
Rating: ★★★★ (out of five)

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TV Notes
A quiet giant returns: CBS's 'NCIS'
Expect the procedural to reclaim its position as the top scripted show on TV
By Louisa Ada Seltzer, Media Life Magazine - September 20th, 2011

"NCIS" will never get as much buzz as shows like "Mad Men," "Gossip Girl" or "The Office," even though more people watch "NCIS" than those three shows combined.

But to get an idea of just how popular the show is, consider this: It was the only scripted series to rank among the top 10 shows on broadcast last year among total viewers.

The next-most-popular scripted show? That would be "NCIS: Los Angeles," the third-year "NCIS" spinoff.

"NCIS" returns for its ninth season tonight at 8 p.m. It probably will be the second-most-watched scripted show of the week, behind "Two and a Half Men," and next week the drama should reclaim its position as No. 1.

It's got a sizzler of an episode planned, with Tony starting an investigation into the leak of information happening at NCIS.

"NCIS" averaged 17.6 million total viewers last season, according to Nielsen, ranking eighth overall on broadcast behind three football-related shows and two editions apiece of "American Idol" and "Dancing with the Stars."

The No. 2 scripted series, "NCIS: Los Angeles," averaged 14.95 million total viewers and ranked No. 11 overall.

"NCIS's" competition this year is much the same as last, with Fox's "Glee" and NBC's "The Biggest Loser" in the timeslot once again, but those two appeal mainly to younger audiences.

Tonight's "Dancing with the Stars" special on ABC will target the same older audience as "NCIS," but in a few weeks ABC will start airing the new comedies "Last Man Standing" and "Man Up," which media buyers do not have high hopes for.

That lack of strong competition should mean another season with "NCIS" near the top of the Nielsen ratings, remarkable for a show this far into its run.

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Ask Matt: Entourage, Ringer, Closer, Torchwood and More!
By Matt Roush, TVGuide.com - September 19th, 2011

Question: I know you weren't too fond of the final season of Entourage (to put it nicely), but I was curious if you thought Jeremy Piven's work this year was worthy of an Emmy nomination? Joe

Matt Roush: Sure. I wouldn't mind seeing him get one last nomination. He used to own that supporting comedy actor category, winning three in a row before he dropped off the radar (along with the show), part of the backlash after his controversially aborted Broadway gig in the Speed the Plow revival. Piven certainly got the best material and storyline in Entourage's final season, and he made the most of Ari's emotional and physical deterioration after the collapse of his marriage. Even if you didn't buy the grand gesture of him ditching the agency to win back Mrs. Ari although it's pretty clear he'll take up the offer to "play God" as head of an entertainment conglomerate Piven lit up the screen in a way Vince & Gang had long forgotten how to do. It may still be a long shot, though, for Piven to get back in the Emmy race, given that Entourage will have been off the air for so long before next year's nomination process gets underway, and his work (not to mention the show) may not be as vividly remembered.

Question: I was pleasantly surprised by the first episode of Ringer. I was a huge Buffy fan because of the writing of the Whedon crew, so I follow the writers and not the cast. But the show seems to be a good fit for Sarah Michelle Gellar, and it was soapy and suspenseful in a very mainstream way. While the "twist" at the end of the pilot was entirely predictable, there are enough questions to keep me coming back for more. What did you think? I am not one of those people who avoids watching a TV show I think will be canceled (thus encouraging networks to cancel it), but I do hope a show like this is produced in sensible 13-episode arcs. More shows seem to be trying to hedge their bets that way. While I'm not asking for spoilers, do you have any sense of whether or not the show has mini-endgames planned in case the show doesn't go the distance? (Whedon was great at that for most of Buffy's run). Rebecca

Matt Roush: I was more fair to Ringer than many critics. I'm not entirely convinced there's enough material in this set-up to fill an hour every week over the long haul, but I have a soft spot for this kind of glossy mystery melodrama, and I liked her and the cast (especially the two men she's caught between, Ioan Gruffudd and Kristoffer Polaha). So for now, I'm on board. And while a story like this has to stay open-ended by its very nature of building suspense and twists along the way, I agree it would be wise for the writers to cushion the cliffhangers with some sense of resolution at the end of the first 13 and the back nine, should Ringer be so lucky (which it probably will be) so that fans won't be too perturbed if the show doesn't make it to a second year. It's awfully hard to predict the threshold of success and failure on a mini-net like the CW.

Question: Besides waiting for the premiere of Dexter, any feedback on Homeland, also premiering the same night on Showtime? - Mike

Matt Roush: I'm reviewing Homeland in the issue of TV Guide Magazine that will be out this week (also mentioning Dexter and the new season of Luther in a discussion of "TV's Tortured Heroes"), and I'll be posting a review online closer to the Oct. 2 premiere date. I've seen the first three episodes of Homeland and Dexter this season, and while I'm not sold yet on Dexter it's beginning to feel awfully routine, and this season's theme of faith is very heavy-handed I am very high on Homeland, which is hands-down the best new drama on TV this fall. Damian Lewis is electrifying as a Marine returning home from eight years in Al-Qaeda captivity, and Claire Danes is his match as an unstable CIA analyst who suspects he may be a sleeper-agent terrorist in war-hero disguise. He's a wreck, she's a mess, and Homeland is riveting. There's also some good work here from Morena Baccarin as Lewis's conflicted wife and Mandy Patinkin as Danes' understandably concerned mentor. Can't wait for people to see this one.

Question: Reading last week's Ask Matt column, I was shaking my head yes, it would be nice to see Brenda Leigh go out on top. Then I saw the summer finale. Whoa. I was not expecting that last scene. I certainly hadn't put Brenda in the "above the law, outlaw justice" category, but that was an impressive list and of course I can't remember the details of all of them. I am really looking forward to how this plays out. What did you think? Are you disappointed they didn't put this whole issue to bed? Megan

Matt Roush: Not disappointed at all. It was a good twist, raising the stakes for Brenda while giving the show an opportunity to look back at her entire timeline with Major Crimes. This should keep everyone busy through the winter mini-season the show returns November 28 with five new episodes and then we'll see where it goes for the final batch next summer.

Question: Since last week was the final "summer" episode of The Closer, does this mean we will still have a winter series to come? I had believed that this was the end of a wonderful show, but I am not sure. I sincerely hope that I am wrong. I will definitely miss this show. Is there a specific reason that Kyra Sedgwick decided to leave after this year? There are still so many wonderful stories to be explored with her and her team. I have read that there is the possibility that the show may continue with all of the other characters remaining? Is this definite or only a possibility? If so, what will happen to Fritz, Brenda's husband? Mary Ann

Matt Roush: There's still quite a bit of confusion among some fans regarding what's happening with this franchise. Here's the deal: After the five-episode run in November and December, The Closer will be back for a final run of episodes next summer, marking the end of Kyra Sedgwick's participation in the series. This transitions directly into a spin-off, Major Crimes, which will be built around Mary McDonnell's character of Sharon Raydor but includes many of the Closer ensemble. Can't really say what part Jon Tenney/Fritz will play in this, because that depends on how they write Brenda out of the show. And I prefer not to know that for now. The main reason Sedgwick has cited for leaving the show at this point is that she prefers to go out on top and not overstay her welcome, plus a desire to get back to her life on the East Coast with her family. Seven seasons is a pretty good run for any character. And who's to say she won't pop back into the world of Major Crimes from time to time?

Question: What I liked about the Torchwood: Miracle Day finale: There was more Gwen and Jack. Mekhi Phifer's character got shot. This season was put out of its misery. What I didn't like about the Torchwood finale: There needed to be more Gwen and Jack. Mekhi Phifer's character survived. It didn't make a whole hell of a lot of sense. What I HATED about the Torchwood finale: The whole cliffhanger ending with the Families. Russell Davies needs to put this whole plot and the American emphasis to bed. Get Gwen and Jack back to Cardiff. What I REALLY HATED about the Torchwood finale: Jack's immortality was due to the power of the TARDIS being channeled through someone who was never meant to have it and couldn't control it (Rose). Now it turns out Jack could have saved Ianto with a simple blood transfusion? Let's start next season with Mekhi Phifer's death and ret-conning everyone else.

On another note, I loved the finale of Rescue Me. It was true to the series (in both the good and the bad) and didn't over-sentimentalize. I will miss this show, particularly the writing it was always the fastest hour of the week for me because the incredible dialogue made it so much fun to follow. Rick

Matt Roush: Good point about Jack's blood. Given all the loss the Torchwood gang has endured over the seasons, to have the most annoying and poorly written character in the show's history be immortalized is a true jump-the-shark moment (and I'm on record for not liking to point such things out). Also agree with you on Rescue Me. Talk about a show that knows how to memorably kill off a character.

Question: I know you weren't the biggest fan of Torchwood this season and you can't really speak on behalf of network decision-makers, but can you give us your best guess on its chances for renewal on Starz? Did the audience grow from its former home on BBC America? I would like to hope so. The finale wasn't a 180 in terms of quality, but it had its moments. I would have preferred Esther and Rex to have switched places mortality-wise, but I liked the twist at the end. I want to think of this as an opportunity for Mekhi Phifer to grow as an actor and stop playing the same pompous, arrogant jerk capable of a selfless act once in a blue moon that he's been playing most of his career. More John Barrowman and Eve Myles in American TV and film is an exciting prospect. Despite what some people are saying across the Atlantic, it's not America's fault Miracle Day wasn't nearly as good as Children of Earth. I think they just bit off more than they could chew and didn't have the time to tighten the story and add more meat per episode. I have faith that Russell T Davies can pull it off next season if given the chance.

Miracle Day has to be at least a peg or two underneath guilty pleasure True Blood, with its often maddening policy of equal screen time for every single regular cast member. I like the show the best when they get most of the characters in the same place at the same time, but they're lucky if they have two out of five good stories going on simultaneously. Andy's V addiction was the most annoying subplot yet. At least the majority of the heavily proliferated cliffhangers made for a mostly satisfying finale. I'm just wondering how long they can continue to pull this show off in the long run. From what I've gleaned, the show is more or less going through one book per season and the 12th book is set to be released sometime next year. It appears as though HBO is interested in having this show on forever, but what of the actors, contract negotiations and budgetary concerns that tend to swell up over time? Looking at HBO's past, 5-6 seasons is generally the sweet spot for an HBO original scripted drama if it's lucky to get enough public and critical notice. I'm just trying to wrap my head around Stephen Moyer at age 49 in the 12th season of True Blood. My bet is that they're going to skip or amalgamate a few books, or go the Dexter route and splinter off into a drastically different canon (the most logical choice). It wouldn't hurt if they reduced the amount of filler subplots that tend to go on without leading anywhere. Any additional conjecture you'd like to add? Gene

Matt Roush: The future of Torchwood, by all accounts, is in Russell T Davies' hands. (Sort of the way future seasons of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm always hinge on Larry David's own enthusiasm and drive.) If Davies comes up with another grand idea that catches Starz' fancy, there may well be more to the story, but it may not happen on a normal renewal timetable. Maybe a little time and distance would be the best thing for all involved, given how Miracle Day turned out. Regarding True Blood: For better or worse, this is a show about excess, and that includes an overabundance of characters to follow, not all of them earning the attention (Andy and Sam have been the two biggest offenders lately, at least for me). As long as True Blood sustains its popularity, I'm sure HBO will want to keep it around, but I don't see it lasting as long as the book series, in part because these actors and writers will all eventually want and need to move on. But now that they've told the story (from book 4) of Eric's amnesia and love tryst with Sookie a high point for the book and TV franchise I'm betting the series will begin veering even further away from the books than it has already. Given how forgettable some of the more recent novels have been, this can only be a good thing for the HBO cast and crew.

Question: Eureka was my favorite summer program because it was always fun and never taxing. I will miss all of those sweet characters, just as I will miss the creative Fringe series should it get the axe. Doctor Who will remain my quirky buddy. However, I am very disappointed to learn that certain cable channels which are my refuge from reality shows are leaping on board to soak us with more reality slop. What did we TV viewers do to deserve this reality waterboarding? (Maybe I don't want to hear the answer to that.) Val

Matt Roush: I've also enjoyed what I've seen of Eureka over the summer, and am sorry there's only one more season to go. Very fun show, and Fringe and Doctor Who are among my faves as well. But to your point about cable networks like TNT, USA, FX and AMC getting into the reality biz these shows being longtime staples of the Syfy and BBC America schedules, by the way this is an inevitable progression, given the economics of the business and the popularity of unscripted TV across so many platforms. We just have to hope that some of these programmers will be as concerned about quality control when developing these shows as they have been toward their scripted product. Because not all "reality" TV is "slop" I try not to be a snob about such things and a creatively produced unscripted program that doesn't degrade its participants or its viewers is something I don't mind recommending or even watching.

Question: So I have to comment on how amazing this season of Breaking Bad has been. Just when I think the show can't go any farther, it continues to surprise me. I really loved the "Hermanos" episode giving us the insight on Gus's past before he became the Chicken Man. It was interesting to see the parallels between Gus and Max vs. Walt and Jesse, almost uncanny except for the fact that Walt and Jesse escaped their "meeting" with Emilio, et al. We get to see Gus as his former self, displaying actual emotions for what I think is the last time until we see him in the elevator. We are left wondering if the path for Walt and Jesse will be as grim as Max's outcome. Jesse's downward spiral is fascinating to watch. I am so captivated by the previous images of Jesse in front of his TV while the blood red from the video game encircles his emotionless face. For me it echoes a scene in Taxi Driver. Maybe I am reading too much into that scene, but I can't help but think he is attempting the same as Gus, to hide all evidence of emotion, when he is really an emotional wreck. I also like the so-called coupling of Mike and Jesse, for some reason I find them entertaining in that Hurley and Sawyer kind of way.

Meanwhile, Walt has some sort of normalcy as he and Skyler are working on keeping Walt's adventures under wraps by portraying a semi-normal life as far as Hank and Marie are concerned. I like how Skyler is willing to sacrifice her own relationship with her son by having Walt take back the new car he gave him, in order to protect the family image as middle class instead of incredibly rich thanks to meth. She's comfortable being the bitch in this situation because someone has to be. Hank's involvement and determination to uncover the real nature of Gus is perhaps the most nerve-wracking to watch as he is literally sitting on what is likely the biggest drug bust of all time right under his nose. I'd like to know your thoughts on the decision to only have the show go on for five seasons? I am torn by it as I think there is only so much you can tell with this kind of story without viewers getting frustrated. At the same time I am really enthralled by the characters and their actions. It is one of the best character studies I've seen since Lost and I for one will be sorry when it comes to a close. Maya

Matt Roush: Another week, another Breaking Bad rave. Do you get the sense this show is having another outstanding season? I agree with almost all of these observations, and as usual, some of them get turned upside down from week to week especially after a thrillingly pivotal episode like Sunday's "Salud," with Gus exacting grisly revenge on the cartel, forcing Jesse to shoot his way out of that carnage, while Walt and Walt Jr. have their wrenching face-to-face in the wake of Walt's beatdown from Jesse. This show's level of sustained tension, including of the emotional variety, is so compelling I've sometimes found it hard to focus on this year's Emmy field, because it feels so incomplete without this show and these players. I'm at peace, though, with Breaking Bad heading toward a definite endgame. Much like The Shield, this isn't a narrative that can continue indefinitely without overstraining our credulity. Vince Gilligan has taken Walt & Co. down roads I would never have foreseen, but at some point there will have to be a reckoning. And I can't wait to see what that will be. But yes, of course I'll miss it once it's over. Much as I do The Shield, even though it had one of the most satisfying conclusions I've ever seen.

Question: I was devastated to hear that HawthoRNe had not been renewed by TNT. Even though the storyline this season was very depressing, it still had fans hungering for better times and kept them tuning in to see what the writers had done next. Added to this is the fact that there was a great cliffhanger. Could this show be picked up by another network? It has a great fan base. Denise

Matt Roush: Sorry, but no. It's even less likely for a failed cable series to be rescued than it is when a network series gets dumped and picked up somewhere else (and that's a fairly rare occurrence). To be honest, I was surprised this one made it to a third year, but it's a reminder that no matter the show, there are always going to be fans dismayed when something doesn't make it. (I'm just surprised I haven't heard from the Chloe King fans yet. Not that I'm eager to open that door.)

Question: I was just looking over the fall schedule in TV Guide Magazine and noticed that there are NO listings for Saturday. What happened to Saturday? I remember years ago when Saturday night produced some of the best and most successful shows on TV. In addition to the old Mary Tyler Moore Show, there was a whole group of shows that were very popular on that night. Why won't the networks risk putting new shows on Saturday nights? Why aren't the awards shows on a Saturday night? They run so long, you'd think that Saturday would be better than Sunday to show them since people don't have to get up early for work on Sunday. When did the networks decide that they would completely ignore Saturday? I'm sure there has got to be an audience that would stay home and watch TV on that night. What is their reason for making NO attempt at new shows on this weekend night? Larry

Matt Roush: This question tends to come up at least once a season, usually at this time of year, when it's especially obvious that networks continue to sidestep the "Saturday problem." The problem being that long before the networks started ignoring Saturdays, the mass audience began ignoring Saturday TV to the point. I grew up during that classic CBS era of Mary Tyler Moore-Bob Newhart-Carol Burnett, and was covering TV during the Golden Girls era, so I remember when networks could be very profitable on Saturdays. But especially once VCRs began changing home viewing habits, it became harder for any network to launch a successful show on the night, and even CBS, the network with the most traditional viewer base, eventually gave up. This season, CBS is bucking the trend by airing new episodes of longtime utility player Rules of Engagement on Saturdays, but that's more of a burn-off to build up the show's inventory of episodes for syndication. (Although I wouldn't be surprised if it moves back to Thursday eventually, should the horrific How to Be a Gentleman collapses.) Airing major awards shows on Saturday doesn't make sense from a programming point of view because networks want to maximize profits by airing them on nights (like Sundays) with much higher viewing levels. It may be a self-fulfilling prophecy that no one watches network TV on Saturdays because the networks give them no reason to. But in this economic climate, that's hardly going to change.

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TV Reviews
'New Girl,' 'Unforgettable'
Zooey Deschanel's charm along with sharp writing make Fox's "New Girl" something special, while CBS' "Unforgettable" with Poppy Montgomery proves anything but that in the pilot episode
By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times - September 20th, 2011

Tuesday night, two actresses use their considerable talents to freshen up a pair of shows drawn from the "tried-and-true" pile of network programming, one with much more success than the other.

Zooey Deschanel joins sister Emily ("Bones") on the Fox lot, starring in Elizabeth Meriwether's "New Girl," a roommate comedy with a surprisingly satisfying twist.

After an ugly breakup, Jess (Deschanel) decides she's tired of being the dorky duckling in a bevy of swans her roommate Cece (Hannah Simone) is a model, all her friends are models and moves in with a trio of men who take her because, well, her former roommate is a model and all her friends are models. While this might seem counterintuitive if she's tired of feeling odd and unattractive then moving in with men might not be the first thing a girl would consider doing that's just Jess, and it's as good a way as any to set up the Pygmalion meets "Friends" dynamics that Meriwether is going for.

The men are disparate, and desperate, versions of your Modern Comedy Guy Nick (Jake M. Johnson), a heartbroken bartender; Schmidt (Max Greenfield), a suit-wearing self-imagined player; and Coach (Damon Wayans Jr.), a personal trainer with communications issues. (Don't get too fond of Coach, though; he will be replaced by the basketball-playing Winston [Lamorne Morris] in the second episode because Wayans returned to "Happy Endings" when it was unexpectedly renewed.) They don't talk so much as banter, but with a level of self-awareness make an overly testosterone-fueled remark and you must put a dollar in the "douche jar" that shines bright amid the fug of male cluelessness that hangs over so many comedies these days.

But Jess is the keystone of the show and Deschanel, with her impossibly blue eyes peeking out from behind her horn rims and up from under unkempt bangs, fills her with the charming and willful childishness usually reserved for characters played by male comedians Will Ferrell in "Elf," Adam Sandler in, well, just about anything. Deschanel's essential sexiness is impossible to eradicate, but she uses all its elements the eyes, that voice, those curves to fine comedic effect, playing dorky the way Judy Holliday, Carole Lombard or even Lucille Ball played dumb.

Which is to say, with the occasional sensual growl and knowing twinkle in her eye, letting everyone know that Jess is in on the joke. Like the men around her, she has a level of self-awareness that belies her often clumsy actions, which makes their little experiment in gender studies much more intriguing than a simple "male friends help dowdy girl become a Real Woman" plot line.

Viewers will come to see Deschanel but they'll stay for the whole package because smart writing, confident timing and characters that are both familiar yet surprisingly fresh make "New Girl" the most promising comedy, and one of the most promising shows, of the season.

If only the same could be said of the new crime drama "Unforgettable" on CBS. As terrific as it is to see "Without a Trace's" Poppy Montgomery back in action, her timing is not great. Coming in at the tail end of the "detective with something special" that is currently in vogue, Montgomery got gypped.

As former detective Carrie Wells, her special power is her memory she literally cannot forget anything she's seen, heard or experienced. Except, apparently, the murder of her older sister when the two were children. This one forgotten day is what drove her to, and from, the police force. Then, after witnessing a murder, she is drawn back in when her ex-partner (and former lover) Det. Al Burns (Dylan Walsh) arrives on the scene. He knows what Carrie is capable of and soon we are watching as she revisits the scenes of her memory, teasing out clues from the shadows of her own mental downloads.

Based on a J. Robert Lennon story called "The Rememberer," it isn't the worst conceit every imagined. But it isn't the best either, and what with all those con men/novelists/lie experts/anthropologists out there using their specialized skills to solve crimes, "Unforgettable" creators Ed Redlich and John Bellucci will need more than a rare disorder to separate itself from the pack.

The dead little sister is haunting, but Montgomery is not. Carrie is sad to the point of mopey; she takes no joy in her talent nor does it torture her, as one imagines it would. She, like Walsh, is solid, but she needs to be driven, by something, by anything. Even their romantic chemistry is flat; they treat each other more like siblings than old flames.

Unfortunately, if you name a show "Unforgettable" you really need to deliver, and the pilot just doesn't.

Tuesday at 9PM on FOX

Tuesday at 10PM on CBS

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