Thursday, November 30, 2006

Noah's Ark

I once had this idea for a movie script. It was about this archaelogist who was hired to find the lost treasure of the Knights Templar. The twist was that my protagonist was the anti-Indiana Jones. Indy was brave and cool and could get out of any scrap you put him in, no matter how many Nazis came at him. My guy was bumbling and not the sort you wanted to be with when danger lurked around the corner.

I also had this other idea, a fictionalized version of Hitler's quest for the Spear of Destiny, a weapon of mythic and mystical power that the Nazis really did search for during World War II.

Anyway, I didn't pursue either one, because I really couldn't get any of the elements to work. (Instead, I wrote a script about this loony 17th century Frenchwoman that was bloody awful and a waste of a year, so there you go.)

Someone, somewhere figured out how to make a movie of both the nerdy adventurer and the Spear of Destiny, and got Noah Wyle to star in it. The movie, called "The Librarian," came out a couple of years ago.

Sunday marks the return of Wyle's Flynn Carsen in "The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines" (TNT, 8 p.m.), along with original cast members Bob Newhart and Jane Curtain. (You haven't lived until you see Bob Newhart battling bad guys with kung fu).

The movie is a fairly enjoyable, if predictable, romp in which Flynn and another archaelogist (Gabrielle Anwar) must search for the hidden treasure of Solomon, including a book of immense power. Of course, assassins tail them every step of the way.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: For those of you who missed Chris Eccleston's run on "Doctor Who" when it was on Sci-Fi, you can catch up with that series on BBC America on Saturday at 9 p.m. Of course, the current David Tennant run is still going, and resumes tonight (Sci-Fi, 8 p.m.)

For sports fans, you can check out several key college football conference title games, including the SEC and ACC. Sunday night, Fox is running the BCS selection show at 8 p.m.

The Return of NBC's Comedy Block

After getting constantly beaten by CBS and ABC on the night NBC used to own, the Peacock is going back to its comedy roots tonight with about as good a lineup as its had since "Friends," "Seinfeld" and "Frasier" appeared on the same night in the 90s.

"My Name Is Earl" keeps the 8 p.m. timeslot, followed by the Emmy-winning "The Office" (8:30 p.m.) What makes tonight's office so special is that Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, creators of the originals series in England, have written this one which involves Michael finding out that one of his workers has a prison record.

And at 9 p.m., my favorite sitcom, "Scrubs" returns to the air earlier than expected because of the failure of a lot of other NBC shows. "Scrubs" is never going to be a gigantic ratings winner, but is critically acclaimed and has a dedicated following. It may also have the guest star of the year when Masi Oka of "Heroes" fame returns as a recurring character to the show, but complete with his time/space powers from "Heroes." Only "Scrubs" could pull that off. NBC rounds out the night with "30 Rock," a show that hasn't really lived up to the hype, but critics seem to love in part because of the Emmy-worthy performance of Alec Baldwin as a network executive.

Hopefully, this lineup can return NBC to its former glory, especially since "ER" has gotten a ratings revival this season. However, it's going to be a tough fight with ABC's juggernaut "Grey's Anatomy" (9 p.m.) anchoring a strong lineup that has kept up with CBS' top show, "CSI" (9 p.m.)

NBC will have more changes in the near future. Beginning Jan. 3, the much-loved but ratings-challenged "Friday Night Lights" shifts to Wednesdays at 8 p.m., followed by "Deal or No Deal" and "Medium." Replacing "Lights" will be "Dateline," which begins its Tuesday run on Dec. 26.

Once the NFL season ends on NBC in January, the network brings in the reality series "Grease: You're the One that I Want" beginning Jan. 7, followed by the season debut of "The Apprentice." The procedural "Crossing Jordan" returns at 10 p.m. beginning Jan. 21.

HOT FOR PREACHER: HBO announced this week it will film a TV series version of the DC/Vertigo comic book "Preacher." Creators Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon will serve as co-executive producers of the series, and Mark Steven Johnson ("Daredevil," "Ghost Rider") will write the pilot.

"Preacher" follows a disillusioned priest who merges with the supernatural being Genesis on a mission to find God.

HBO has produced some of the best drama on TV, and is a good outlet for the more adult nature of "Preacher." "Preacher" is one of those comic book projects that has seemed to languish around for years, much like "Watchmen." But the success of shows like "Heroes" and the CW's "Smallville" has helped make these projects more viable.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

ABC's Folly

Tonight marks a special edition of "20/20" (ABC, 10 p.m.), made necessary because ABC managed to screw itself but good on Wednesday nights.

Once owning the night with "Lost," the network continues to shoot itself in the foot with the airing of "Day Break" (9 p.m.). The ratings for that show have been so bad, it took a chunk out of the already-struggling "The Nine," one of the network's most highly anticipated dramas heading into this season. ABC promises "The Nine" will air its remaining episodes at some point, but don't bet the farm on it. ABC has been notorious in the past for making that claim for shows it has pulled, then forgetting about them.

Meanwhile, CBS continues to make huge waves on Wednesdays. Tonight marks the fall finale of the new series "Jericho" (CBS, 8 p.m.), followed by "Criminal Minds," which has surpassed "Lost" in the ratings when the two went head-to-head.

WGA STRIKE?: Variety is reporting that the Writer's Guild of America may be planning for a strike when its current contract ends in Oct. 2007. One of the points of contention between the union and the studios is residual payments on new TV platforms, such as episodes that are downloaded off iTunes, for example.

A strike would prove much more devastating to the TV industry than to films. In fact, for those of us who write screenplays on the side, a strike is a good thing, because Hollywood goes into a buying frenzy by stocking up on scripts in case of a strike.

In TV, however, the writers are also a show's producers, so every series is forced to halt production once a strike hits. Given the timing of next year's possible strike, most series would only have four or five episodes in the can when it hit.

Stay tuned for this one.

MY BOYS: I watched five episodes from my press kit last night of TBS' new sitcom "My Boys," starring Jordana Spiro as a Chicago sportswriter in a "Sex & The City"-type setting, only with a bunch of guys as her friends.

The series isn't bad, though the supporting cast is underused (especially the always-reliable Jim Gaffigan). Also, Spiro's PJ has more free time than any sportswriter that I've ever met, and for a Cubs beat writer, does very little traveling.

Still, the series has appeal to both men and women, and Spiro does a good job with her tomboyish role.

CHANNEL SURFING: "30 Rock" star Tracy Morgan was arrested this week for drunk driving; he was already on probation for a previous drunk driving charge, so it remains to be seen if that will affect his time on the show. ... Fans of "Ugly Betty" get an added treat this week. is running six mini-episodes of the fictional soap "Vidas de Fuego" ("Lives of Fire"), which Betty's dad Ignacio constantly watches.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BET: Besides the season finale of "Jericho and new offerings from "Bones," "Criminal Minds" and "CSI: NY," it's a fairly quiet night.

Fans of NBC's smash hit "Heroes," and those who have heard about it and want to catch up, can watch the entire first half of the season with a marathon on Sci-Fi, beginning at 6 p.m. with the pilot. In other "Heroes" news, it was announced this week that former "Doctor Who" star Christopher Eccleston will be appearing in several episodes, joining "Star Trek's" George Takei, who will play Hiro's (Masi Oka) father.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Guy's Dream Girl?

I was never a fan of "Sex & The City." The few times I bothered to watch it over the years seemed to be nothing but bashing men, and most of the 2-dimensional men who appeared on the show seemed to be bash-worthy.

Admittedly, my sample size of "SATC" is pretty minute, so feel free to disagree with me entirely.

I bring this up only because tonight marks the debut of "My Boys" (TBS, 10 p.m.), a sitcom centered around a female sports writer (Jordana Spiro) and her guy friends. Spiro, who plays P.J., would rather watch sports, drink beer and play poker than do the traditional "girl" things, and navigates the ins and outs of relationships with her guy friends.

"My Boys" has gotten a lot of positive buzz as a sort of inverted "SATC," but I'm going to give it a shot anyway, if for no other reason than to see how why none of P.J.'s guy friends aren't hitting on a good-looking blond who likes sports and cards. Well, that and how the noble profession of sports writing is depicted (we're the profession of Grantland Rice and Ring Lardner Sr., for those who would snicker).

"My Boys" is the first original comedy produced by TBS, and in an age where the sitcom seems to be a dying art form, it will be interesting to see how it fares. It doesn't bother me that it appears on TBS, formerly the home to reruns and Atlanta Braves games, since TBS' sister network, TNT, has had a decent track record in producing original drama with the critically acclaimed and highly rated "The Closer."

HEROES REVISITED: OK, so my cool idea on who Sylar really is was way off. It was still a cool idea.

(For those that didn't bother to e-mail me, I thought Sylar might be a future version of Peter, who met up with Niki while she was in Jessica mode. In the future, Peter might be able to retain the power of the others after he had met them, and evil Peter would use Hiro's space-time power to travel back.)

I might have been helped if I knew about Jessica and we had seen Sylar's face before, but regardless, last night's "Heroes" was one of the cooler hours of TV this season, expertly interweaving the flashbacks with the current storylines.

Once again, a reminder to those who want to catch up, Sci-Fi is re-running the first 10 episodes of the series on Wednesday, a good way to get in on the action before Monday's final first-run episode before the Christmas break.

WEEDS RENEWED: Showtime has picked up the critically acclaimed "Weeds" for a third season. The network will air 15 episodes in the spring of 2007.

TUESDAY'S BEST BET: In addition to "My Boys," Tuesday also marks the debut of the sitcom "Big Day" (ABC, 9 p.m.) "Big Day" borrows the structure of "24," in which all of the episodes take place within a single day, during which an engaged couple begins the final preparations for their wedding.

One wonders how the show will be in Season 4 should it survive so long; will it still be the wedding day, or will the couple have moved on to marriage?

"Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 8 p.m.) returns after a week's hiatus. Tonight's episode is fairly key, as Jason confronts Tim and Smash seeks a way to pay for steroids.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving Day Leftovers

Actually, it was a fairly mild holiday weekend, in terms of TV watching. For a change, the networks decided to broadcast new episodes of some of their key series ("Ugly Betty," "CSI," "Shark") rather than run repeats, so that was nice.

The big news comes from ABC, which is shelving "The Nine" on Wednesdays in favor of "Prime Time Live" news programs. I was a big fan of the concept of "The Nine" and thought the pilot was terrific, but the writers showed too little of events inside the bank in subsequent weeks, and the characters' lives after the standoff were too soap opera-y to be interesting.

ABC promises it will air the remaining episodes at some point, but this being ABC and all, who knows?

"The Amazing Race," once TV's best reality show, continues to annoy. Please explain to me how it would have been OK for the Alabama moms to yield the beauty queens -- cause them a 30-minute time delay at a certain point in the race -- but then moan and complain incessantly when the beauty queens yielded them instead. I've pretty much hated the moms from the beginning, with their snide comments about handicapped contestant Sarah, so if they actually end up winning the $1 million, it will make the show unwatchable for me.

Well, that or the All-Star edition of "The Amazing Race" that began filming last week. CBS has yet to announce the teams officially, but reports say reality icons Rob and Amber extend their 15 minutes of fame, as well as former champs Uchenna and Joyce and Team Kentucky from the current version. I loathe the All-Star versions of these CBS reality shows, so this may be the first version of the race I don't tune into.

MONDAY'S BEST BET: Loads of good TV tonight, as "Prison Break" (Fox, 8 p.m.) ends its fall run with most of the characters facing various sorts of crises. The good news is that "PB" returns at the end of January, two months earlier than expected.

Fans of "The Bachelor" (ABC, 9 p.m.) get a chance to see who the prince chooses in the season finale. Why anyone cares is beyond me.

Wayne Brady guest stars on "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS, 8 p.m.)

In what could be the key episode of the season, "Heroes" (NBC, 9 p.m.) jumps back in time six months as we see how everyone gets their powers. In addition, Hiro is in a key position to save the waitress he's grown so fond of. Judging by last week's previews, we may also learn the identity of the villain Sylar, and see how close my theory came. This might be a good time for anyone who has heard about the show but missed it to jump in, since Sci-Fi is running a mini-marathon of "Heroes" on Wednesday.

"Comic Relief" returns to the airwaves for the first time in a long time (HBO, 8 p.m.) as original hosts Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal return.

For fans of last year's much-loved, but little-seen "Threshold," two unaired episodes are running tonight (Sci-Fi, 11 p.m.) after a couple of reruns.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Hello, Columbus

Just a quick note during the holiday festivities to welcome readers from Columbus to the blog.

Columbus readers can now click on the link at the Ledger-Enquirer Web site to get The TV Guy and Reel Fanatic blogs from Macon. Click on as often as you like and tell your friends.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The True American Idol

The most perfect woman I have ever met was a grad assistant at UGA back when I was in grad school. Brains, beauty, a real sense of panache, she had it all.

She was a big Tony Bennett fan. Back in the early 90s, Bennett was being introduced to the MTV generation thanks to a series of concerts and collaberations with modern music stars. In fact, MTV aired a live TV special with Bennett and others.

Me being me, I dutifully taped the special and gave it to the woman unbidden in hopes she might like me more.

Nothing ever developed between she and I, but I did expand my musical tastes from 1960s and 70s British rock bands to include Tony Bennett, thanks to her.

I bring this up because tonight is "Tony Bennett: An American Classic" (NBC, 8 p.m.) in which the icon performs both solos and duets with some of the music industry's biggest stars, including Barbra Streisand, k.d. lang, and Diana Krall, among others.

This is the sort of reality TV I can get behind, and it's a perfect holiday gift for anyone who appreciates good music.

NEW 'BREAK': Fox has seen the folly of ABC and "Lost" and will bring its own hit, "Prison Break," back earlier than expected. "PB" returns Jan. 22 with a one-hour special that recaps the first 13 episodes of this season. The back nine debuts a week later, Jan. 29. Last year, "PB" fans had to wait until March to watch the remaining episodes, and it looked to be the case this season.

BSG ON THE MOVE: Speaking of shows in January, Sci-Fi will switch "Battlestar Galactica" from Fridays to Sundays when 2007 begins. On the one hand, I'm used to it having its own slot on Fridays, but hopefully, this move will help - not hurt - the ratings for TV's best-written show.

'KIDNAPPED' PLOT UNCOVERED: Thanks to one reader of the blog, viewers who want to catch the webisodes of "Kidnapped" on the impossible-to-navigate may be able to do so.

Sharp-eyed Savannah Dorman e-mailed me these links to the episodes online.


I haven't had a chance to try them out yet, but hopefully other fans and I will be able to catch up and get some closure on the series.

RIP ROBERT ALTMAN: I'm not the biggest Altman fan, but the director did produce greatness with "M*A*S*H" and "The Player," maybe the best film ever made about the inside workings of Hollywood.

TONIGHT'S BEST BET: One of the odder guest-star roles of the season occurs tonight when Patty Hearst appears on "Veronica Mars" (CW, 9 p.m.) as a member of the family that founded Veronica's fictional Hearst College. "VM" has had some interesting guest stars over the years, from the superbly-cast Charisma Carpenter to the what-were-they-thinking Paris Hilton, so it kind of remains to be seen how tonight's episode turns out.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS: I'll probably be pretty spotty the rest of the week updating the blog. Enjoy your turkey, enjoy football and go out and get some fresh air.

For all those that e-mailed me about my Sylar theory on "Heroes," I suppose we will find out a lot more this coming Monday.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Patience, People

Sometimes, I really don't get the rest of the TV watching public.

I mean, I've already accepted that most of them don't have as good taste as myself, but what irks me is when they watch shows to change simply because they don't conform to some pre-conceived notion they had of the show in the first place.

To wit, most of the criticisms I've heard about "Heroes" (NBC, 9 p.m.) is that they aren't tying the main characters together quickly enough. Folks, it's only Episode Nine tonight, for crying out loud! Let the producers do their job. If you are a fan of the show, and most people are, then you are already appreciating what they are doing onscreen.

So why not let the show unfold at its own pace? For all the complainers, know that tonight's episode brings several key characters together, and you learn a great deal about HRG and Eden. The best thing about "Heroes" has been the twists it incorporates into each episode that compel the viewer to check in week after week, and tonight's installment is more the same.

"Heroes" isn't the only new show drawing that criticism. This week's TV Guide talks about new shows like "Studio 60" (NBC, 10 p.m.) and "The Class" (CBS, 8:30 p.m.) and how to "fix" them. Why not give them enough time to get broken first?

No one said when "Prison Break" (Fox, 8 p.m.) debuted last year that the gang should break out of prison by Episode 3. People waited for the show to unfold as the writers intended. And it works, at least ratings-wise. (Drama-wise with plot holes and the suspension of disbelief is another story.)

So sit back and have a little faith.

CONGRATS: Macon actor Jack McBrayer, ably profiled by The Telegraph's own Maggie Large a few weeks ago, was listed in TV Guide's "Cheers & Jeers" section for his ability to steal scenes in NBC's "30 Rock." McBrayer's been one of the best elements of the show this season.

NO O.J.: Fox announced it was cancelling both the O.J. Simpson book and TV special. I'd say kudos to the network for finally doing the right thing, but really, it shouldn't have been involved with Simpson in the first place.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Poetic Justice

I got a press release from Fox today informing me that "Vanished" had been pulled from tonight's schedule and the final four episodes will be aired on the network's Web site.

Fox is following the playbook of NBC, which pulled the similarly-themed-but-way-superior "Kidnapped" from the broadcast network and having it finish online instead.

I have to admit a little schadenfreude at Fox's decision. "Vanished" was a pretty awful show that killed the audience for "Kidnapped" by debuting first. It's a common strategy over at Fox, which has ripped off other shows over the years and then rushed them to the air first, hoping to undermine the other network's show.

NBC has so exasperated me by not even putting up all of the episodes of "Kidnapped" online (and making the ones they do have up next-to-impossible to find) that I am unlikely to finish out the series, even though I enjoyed what had aired so far.

"Vanished" was a show that took place in Georgia written by people who had evidently never stepped foot here. The upside of Fox's decision is that "Justice," which just got yanked off Monday's schedule, will get a final shot on Friday's beginning Dec. 1.

I don't have a lot of high hopes that the Victor Garber series will survive much longer, but it's good that Fox is at least giving those who are watching the series the chance to see the final episodes on network TV rather than the Internet.

In other Fox news, the network has ordered six additional episodes each for "Standoff" and "Til Death," an encouraging sign for fans of those shows since both were on life support ratings-wise.

As for the other networks, the CW will begin airing new episodes of the comedy "Reba," (Sunday, 7 p.m.) formerly of the late WB network. However, the CW has yet to announce it will pick up the back nine for dramas "Veronica Mars" and "One Tree Hill," something it was contractually supposed to do this week. With the season-long arcs "VM" creator Rob Thomas uses for his show, it's getting into crunch time because if the back nine isn't ordered, the current arc would have to be re-written for a 13-episode run, making it very difficult to tie up a lot of plot lines.

*****EDIT****: My brother sent me a link to a blog that says "VM" will receive a back order, but only seven instead of nine. Since this hasn't been posted anywhere officially, it still remains to be seen, but if it's true, then it's pretty good news, though I would have preferred the full nine episodes.

FANS GETTING A BREAK?: TV Guide reports that "Prison Break" may return in January instead of March, citing the show's strong ratings and a lack of other quality shows on Fox. Are you paying attention, ABC?

FRIDAY'S BEST BETS: "Monk" fans who are in withdrawal until the new season begins in January get a holiday treat tonight, with a special new episode (USA, 10 p.m.). Monk (Tony Shalhoub) finally gets together with his long-lost dad (guest star Dan Hedaya), who is in need of the defective detective's help.

Sci-Fi fans have plenty of options tonight as well. TV Land is airing the "Star Trek" episode "Space Seed," which introduced Ricardo Montalban as Khan at 9 p.m., followed by the movie "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" at 10 p.m.

"Doctor Who" (Sci-Fi, 8 p.m.) begins the first part of a two-parter called "The Impossible Planet," in which the Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose (Billie Piper) land near a black hole. That's followed by "Battlestar Galactica" (Sci-Fi, 9 p.m.), an Adama (Edward James Olmos)-centric episode featuring key flashbacks.

"Numb3rs" (CBS, 10 p.m.) features guest stars Kathy Najimy and Josh Malina.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: Michigan and Ohio State square off (ABC, Sat., 3:30 p.m.) in a game the BCS will ultimately render meaningless if it puts them in a re-match in January.

Helen Mirren takes her final bow as Jane Tennison in "Prime Suspect 7" (PBS, Sun., 9 p.m.). The TV landscape will be the poorer for it once the series ends.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Day After

Well, ABC rolled the dice on "Daybreak," and it's looking like they crapped out.

Based on the overnight ratings, the debut for the show that replaced "Lost" on Wednesdays performed badly.

ABC had a huge night in the 8 p.m. hour with the "Dancing with the Stars" finale that landed a 17.5 rating and 27 share, easily the most-watched show of the night. But despite that lead-in, "Daybreak's" audience dropped by more than half, mustering just an 8 rating and a 12 share.

That "Daybreak" did badly is bad enough for ABC, but the fact that "Lost" has been in a ratings battle with "Criminal Minds" may damage ABC in the time slot when "Lost" returns in February. "Minds" pulled in a solid 10.4/16 last night.

I know networks are loathe to put on repeats these days, but pulling one of your three top-rated shows after just six episodes to introduce a new so-so show is just mind-boggling to say the least.

One might point out that this was the game plan Fox used with "Prison Break" last season, going with a long hiatus between fall and spring. The difference is, A) Fox aired half a season of "Prison Break," not six episodes, and B) Fox was pairing "PB" with the similarly paced and themed "24" when the shows came back for the winter.

No doubt, ABC was hoping for similar success from this same experiment they pulled two years ago, when a decently rated show in "Boston Legal" was pulled in favor of "Grey's Anatomy," which became a phenomenal success for the network. No such luck here.

If "Day Break" doesn't pick up the slack (and considering the confusing, serialized nature of the show, it probably won't), here's hoping ABC gets its act together and brings back "Lost" earlier than announced.

HIRO WORSHIP: "Heroes" breakout star Masi Oka will return to "Scrubs" for a guest appearance some time this year. Oka got one of his key acting breaks as a semi-recurring character on the NBC sitcom.

The twist, and only "Scrubs" could pull this off, is that even though Oka is reprising his "Scrubs" role, he will have Hiro's time-altering powers. God, I've missed "Scrubs."

Speaking of "Heroes," I've come up with a wild theory on who Syler is. I don't check other fan sites, so I don't know if anyone else has come up with this, but I think it's cool and plausible. I don't want to post it if it turns out to be a spoiler, but if you want it, feel free to e-mail me at

THURSDAY'S BEST BET: If you read the book "Desperate Networks" like I told you last week, you'll learn how NBC came up with the supersize strategy as a band-aid to combat the popularity of "Survivor" rather than developing quality new shows.

The network returns to the strategy tonight for one week with supersized "My Name is Earl" (8 p.m.), followed by "The Office" and "30 Rock." I've only seen "The Office" so far, but it's a good episode with the two branches of Dunder-Mifflin merging.

Steve Carell's Michael Scott continues to be painfully funny tonight as the Stamford employees meet their new boss.

Also, for comic book fans, there's a rumor that the Martian Manhunter, aka J'onn J'onzz, makes a guest appearance on "Smallville" (CW, 8 p.m.) tonight.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Lucky Break?

Tonight marks the debut of the new thriller "Daybreak" (ABC, 9 p.m.) with its two-hour pilot running in the timeslot normally reserved for "Lost."

The show's opening ratings will probably be pretty good, since ABC has given it such a good slot and promoted the heck out of it, but the key will be whether the new show can sustain it.

Already, ABC has been giving up ground at 9 p.m., since "Criminal Minds" (CBS, 9 p.m.) has actually been outperforming "Lost" in the ratings the past couple of weeks. So holding "Lost" until February for an unproven show has to be one of the biggest risks for any network in recent memory.

"Daybreak" focuses on a cop (Taye Diggs) who is framed for the murder of a district attorney. A' la "Groundhog Day" he relives the same events over and over again, but with variations each time he changes things.

"Groundhog Day" worked because there was a definite end to it. Since "Daybreak" is a TV series which presumably wants to have a long run, how much can keep going over the same day again and again? How sustainable is the concept? So far, the reviews of "Daybreak" have been lukewarm, at best. Star Taye Diggs' lone network series, the much touted "Kevin Hill" on UPN, died after a half-season.

One might compare "Daybreak" to the BBC's superior "Life on Mars," in which the hero believes he has been transported back from current times to 1973. But "Life on Mars" explores the vastly different world of cops in two different eras, and the hero doesn't know if he has gone back in time, is in a coma or is simply going mad. The viewer can enjoy the roller coaster ride alongside him.

"Daybreak" is the same ride over and over. No one wants to keep riding Space Mountain again and again.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: ABC is maximizing its bet for Wednesday's by airing the season finale of the very popular "Dancing With Stars" as a lead-in.

Meanwhile, "Medium" (NBC, 9 p.m.) returns to the air earlier than expected with a two-hour season premiere. "Medium" is one of those shows that seems to get decent enough ratings, but you never meet anyone who is actually a fan of the show. When the Emmys gave the best actress award to star Patricia Arquette over the vastly superior Glenn Close for her turn in "The Shield" two years ago, it showed how bogus those awards had become.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


People talk about the lack of originality in Hollywood all the time, and when you see some of the offerings on movie and TV, they are not wrong. When Hollywood producers hear of an idea that has worked elsewhere, they immediately try to see how they can rip it off.

CBS must really love "House" (Fox, 9 p.m.), and considering it's one of the best shows with one of the best actors on TV, it's not hard to blame them.

But really, tonight the network airs its second attempt to rip off the "House" formula with the debut of "3 LBs" (CBS, 10 p.m.), about a cranky but brilliant doctor (the always excellent Stanley Tucci) who specializes in brain surgery. (The title refers to the weight of the average human brain).

The first attempt to copy the "House" formula is the network's new hit "Shark," a legal drama starring James Woods that moves the setting from a hospital to a court room, but really, that's about the only difference. That, and the writers gave Woods a daughter to deal with for his home life. But otherwise, it's pretty much the same show: A brilliant, but snarky, guy who butts heads with a female boss and who has an entourage of proteges.

I've yet to see the pilot for "3 LBs" but most reviewers have indicated that it's basically "House"-lite. Tucci butts heads with his younger, caring protege (Mark Feuerstein) about various ailments affecting the brain. I'm not sure the producers are doing the show a favor by limiting Tucci's medicine to one particular area, but of course, if they made him a general physician, then the show really would be "House."

CBS is hoping for the added bonus of having "House" air in the timeslot before "3 LBs" to give the show a lead-in even with a different network. NBC has a similar effect, with "ER" drawing an audience from ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" on Thursdays. It's not a bad strategy, But there is the worry that the show doing the ripping off will hurt the original.

It's not so bad in the Grey's/ER case, since the latter preceded the former by a decade, but I'd hate to see "House's" ratings suffer. They likely won't, since the newer show always has a tougher time of proving itself worthy of keeping the audience of the original.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: I'm trying to keep the Best Bets section limited to either new shows airing, or certain big episodes with key guest stars, lest I continue to write about the same shows each week. That's why there was no Best Bets for Monday.

I am throwing a shout out to "Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 8 p.m.) just because the network announced that it would be picked up for a full season, again showing why being near last place is not always a bad thing.

As for new shows, you may want to check out "Show Me the Money" (ABC, 9:30 p.m.), which follows the penultimate "Dancing with the Stars." I know nothing about "Money," a new game show except that it stars William Shatner at his most Shatner-ness, which is always a delight. Check out the Comedy Central Roast from September if you don't believe me.

Also of note is the documentary "Thin" (HBO, 9 p.m.) about four women who suffer from eating disorders.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Web Rewind Blues

Episodes of TV found at the network's Web sites could have been the greatest idea since sliced bread, if these things worked half the time.

But have the wrong Internet platform, the wrong type of computer, etc. and trying to download these episodes are more trouble than its worth.

This weekend I tried downloading from ABC, NBC and Fox, each with varying degrees of success.

Only with ABC was I able to use my office Mac with its high speed connection. NBC and Fox won't even work. However, with either the Mac or Windows platform, my viewing of last week's installment of "Ugly Betty" was choppy most of the time, with long gaps where the download would just freeze. It really made watching it unenjoyable.

With NBC, their "two-minute recap" of various episodes works fine with the Mac platform. But try downloading the full episode and nothing seems to work. Eventually, I was able to watch last week's "Friday Night Lights" on my PC. But my brother tried to find previous installments of "Kidnapped" on NBC's site, and could only find the most recent. So for the rest of us who missed a couple of installments while NBC yanked it off Saturday nights, we're pretty much screwed in trying to catch up.

Thanks again, NBC. There's no excuse not to put all of the previous episodes online.

Fox refused to download at all on my Mac when I tried to catch up with last week's "Bones." Eventually, after jumping through a lot of hoops downloading various extras, I was able to get it to run on my PC. It actually ran the most smoothly of the three networks.

At some point I'll try CBS and CW down the line to see what they offer. But if networks are trying to increase their Web traffic by making previously run episodes online, they need to make sure the episodes download correctly on all platforms, and keep all of the episodes on the Web.

FAREWELL TO "JUSTICE?": Fox's "Justice" is listed in your print editions of The Telegraph, but a quick check online with TV Guide shows that it's being pulled for a "House" rerun (Fox, 9 p.m.) from last season. The "House" rerun is arguably the cleverest one from last season, in which House tries to diagnose a case while playing in a poker tournament.

"Justice" is a decent show, though it has spent most of the year long on procedural and short on character development. It hasn't found an audience on two different timeslots, a shame because the rest of Fox's development slate for this year has been pretty awful thus far among the new shows.

WHAT ABOUT GOOD SHOWS?: "What About Brian" (ABC, 10 p.m.) has been given a full-season pickup despite so-so ratings. I'll admit, I've yet to watch a single minute of this show, but it's a little frustrating to see since ABC likely won't be picking up "The Nine."

Friday, November 10, 2006

Prime Viewing

There's only one adjective that springs to mind when talking about actress Helen Mirren.


When "Prime Suspect" first hit the airwaves in the early 90s, it was groundbreaking TV. It wasn't that we hadn't seen good cop dramas before, or even cop dramas that had female leads. But Mirren's character of Jane Tennison took it to the next level. The various "Prime Suspects" that hit the air over the years tackled such subjects of sexism, racism, child abuse et. al. with a complexity not really seen before.

Sure, there are other British cop dramas that hold a special place for me - "Cracker," "Second Sight," the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series, to name a few - but "Prime Suspect" will always have a place near the top of the list.

Mirren takes her last bow as Tennison Sunday night in "Prime Suspect: The Final Act" (PBS, 9 p.m.), a two-parter that concludes next Sunday. Tennison has to confront such things as alcoholism, imminent retirement and her dying father (Frank Finlay) while trying to solve one final case, the death of a little girl.

As I posted earlier this week, American TV keeps mining British series for new ideas, and there have been a few attempts to clone "Prime Suspect." The most notable has been "The Closer" with Kyra Sedgwick, an OK series that doesn't come close to "Prime Suspect's" heights.

Tennison is smart but fallible. She doesn't always make the right call as she battles bureacracy and office politics as well as general prejudices.

Mirren is a remarkable actress who will likely end up with both an Emmy nomination of "Prime Suspect" and an Oscar bid for "The Queen." No one could be more deserving.

STUDIO 60 NEWS: Despite falling ratings, NBC gave the go-ahead for a full order of "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" on Thursday.

No show came into the fall with more anticipation because of both creators Aaron Sorkin and Tom Schlamme and a stellar cast.

The show has declined ratings-wise over the last few weeks for a couple of reasons. One, because it takes place on a fictional comedy series, people thought it was a comedy itself, so there is disappointment that the show is "not funny." Two, the show and the dialogue are a lot smarter than anything else on TV.

The silver lining to the black cloud that is NBC's Nielsen reality is that the network can afford to give struggling quality shows such as "Studio 60" and "Friday Night Lights" a bit longer than normal to find their audience because NBC doesn't have a whole lot of options. That might be NBC's loss, but it's our gain.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


As TV and the Internet synergize more and more, network executives are finding all new sorts of ways to cross-promote the two platforms.

Tonight is a perfect example. NBC will show a brand-new episode of "The Office" at 8:30 p.m., and then put a "producers' cut" version of the episode online immediately after, full of bits that were cut for time or other reasons of the regular broadcast.

Frankly, though I understand the reason for doing this -- every industry seems to be obsessed more about the Web than its regular products -- frankly, it seems like too much work. TV should be about flipping on a channel, or at worst a recording device, and watching and enjoying the episode.

Viewers shouldn't have to hunt after hidden scenes or producer's cut or anything of that ilk to enjoy that week's offering.

And if NBC is going to offer any Web content, it needs to make its site more user-friendly. Still trying to find those "Kidnapped" episodes, guys.

Of course, if there is one series worth hunting down, it's TV's best comedy, "The Office," which faces a major plot landmark tonight with the Scranton branch of Dunder-Mifflin closing. How the plotlines should unfold the rest of the season based on this should make for interesting viewing.

Speaking of "The Office," I read a story yesterday about a host of British shows that are coming across the pond to be adapted into American shows.

I think in general that's a horrible concept that fails ("Coupling" "Cracker") both dramatically and ratings-wise more often than not ("The Office" being the exception that proves the rule.)

I already knew that David E. Kelley was going to destroy my beloved "Life on Mars" for ABC. (Anyone who watches the U.S. version of this instead of the BBC America version is no longer allowed to log onto this site.)

Now I see versions of "Footballers Wives," "Little Britain" and "Viva Blackpool" are also in pre-poduction, despite their quintessential Britishness. I mean, c'mon, "Little Britain?" Seriously?

Of course, these days, TV execs are looking for ideas anywhere. After all, "Ugly Betty" (ABC, 9 p.m.) is based on a telenovela and has been re-imagined in other countries around the world.

SPEAKING OF WEBS: Tonight marks the debut of a two-minute trailer for "Spider-Man 3," which will air between the end of "CSI" (CBS, 9 p.m.) and "Shark" (CBS, 10 p.m.) It also appears on other CBS/Viacom properties around the dial, such as MTV.

ANOTHER SPLIT: Last night's "Lost" isn't the only show about to take a long break. Newcomer "Jericho" will end its fall run on Nov. 29 and not return until Feb. 14, 2007. (Nothing celebrates Valentine's Day like shows about the aftermath of a nuclear war.)

Honestly, I don't know what programming genius came up with the idea of shelving hit shows for more than three months, but they belong in the same circle of Hell with the guy that invented automated telemarketers.

Fox started this to moderate success with "Prison Break" last year, delaying the second half of its season to coincide with a similarly paced show, "24," which runs without a break in the winter. Fox was able to get away with it because "PB" proved compelling enough for viewers to stick with it, despite its absurd plots (making it a perfect companion of "24").

"Lost" is at a critical juncture, losing viewers while its main competitor, "Criminal Minds" has made big gains. Once again, I say ABC had better have hit the size of, well, "Lost," in its new show "Daybreak" or this is going to go down as the dumbest idea in TV history.

I'm not a fan of "Jericho," but CBS seems to have a solid freshman hit on its hands. So, why kill the momentum?

EDIT ADD-ON: By the way, I should have mentioned already at this point how good the "Lost" fall finale was, which makes it even more frustrating that we have to wait three months.




Eko's death a week earlier makes a bit more sense dramatically now, for a simple reason.

One of the problems with TV shows in any genre is that the characters seem immortal. We know Capt. Kirk will survive for next week's show, which is why the guys in the red shirts always got killed.

When a character is being killed off, it's usually well-known. It's announced on the Web or in the press that an actor is leaving a show, which means the possibility of his or her character being killed a possibility. The viewer has time to steel himself.

When Eko was killed last week, it came out of the blue and therefore was a jolt to "Lost" viewers. Also, since he was among the show's most popular characters, it meant that anyone could die on the island at any time.

So there was very real dramatic tension Wednesday night when Sawyer faced imminent death. There was a decent possibility that the guy could pull the trigger, because "Lost" has established no one is safe. A decade earlier, a viewer watching "Lost" would say to himself, "Oh, they aren't going to kill Sawyer!" and be correct. Bravo, "Lost!"


THURSDAY'S BEST BET: "Ugly Betty" (ABC, 8 p.m.) has shown more consistency than any other new series, and while it has advanced its storylines at a reasonable pace, it's still not too late for new viewers to jump in tonight and catch up.

Green Arrow continues to get a big spotlight on "Smallville" (CW, 8 p.m.) while its companion show, "Supernatural" (CW, 9 p.m.) is having one of the best sophomore seasons on TV right now. As much as I was upset to see the Winchester boys' dad (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) get killed off, I'm enjoying newcomers Ellen (Samantha Ferris) and Jo (Alona Tal). Horror queen Linda Blair guest stars in tonight's episode as a cop.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Dead TV Characters

My brother called me Tuesday to complain about Mr. Eko's death on "Lost" last week. He believes that too many characters get killed off these days on the tube, and especially on that show.

He's both right and wrong. It does seem more than the usual number of TV characters are being killed off, but it isn't necessarily a bad thing.

There are a lot of reasons why producers will kill off a character on TV: Differences with the actor, the storyline runs its course, the need for a dramatic shakeup, actors wanting to leave the show, and so forth.

I really haven't read a definitive reason why Eko was killed off, though it sure was controversial. Like many others have written in the blogosphere, Eko was one of my favorite characters on the show, and I believe there were still many Eko stories to be told.

On the other hand, Eko's death had much more dramatic resonance than the death of someone else, such as Charlie or Claire.

A lot of shows, such as "Prison Break" or "24" kill off main characters all the time, for similar reasons - mostly the writers have run out of story for that individual. It's not a new concept in TV, and with serialized storytelling growing as a dramatic form, one that isn't going away.

Sometimes, killing off a character is just a convenient way for a writer to re-work a story. "Vanished" killed off its male lead when the writing and actor weren't working well together. "Desperate Housewives" killed off two people this past week in order to dump two annoying characters whose stories had run their course.

People are throwing out various reasons why "Lost" has dropped some ratings points this year. I think the producers are in a no-win situation. You can't drag out a mystery forever, yet when you give people answers, they almost seem disappointed with the solutions.

People kept clamoring to know what the monster was on the island. They wanted to know if the island was a real place. Now that they have a better idea about these things, some viewers don't seem to like what the producers had to say. What's a writer to do?

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BET: Tonight is the fall season finale for "Lost" (ABC, 9 p.m.) before it goes off the airwaves until February for the new show "Daybreak."

I'll withhold my thoughts on "Daybreak" until I watch the pilot next week, since ABC doesn't deem me fit to receive its screeners.

In a completely unrelated note, however, I think pulling "Lost" off the air for so long when its at a critical ratings juncture in a battle against "Criminal Minds" (CBS, 9 p.m.) in favor of a new show is one of the dumbest network decisions in a long, long time.

Fans of Fox's "The O.C." can check out a new episode tonight as well as a new one Thursday in its normal timeslot.

I should also point out that two weeks' worth of celebrities on "Jeopardy!" begins Wednesday (WMAZ, 7:30 p.m.) beginning with Macon's own Nancy Grace.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Good Writing

One thing that makes TV superior to movies (at least to work in) is that in TV, the writer has all the power. The writer plots the course of the show, tells the director what to do, and so forth. Movies would be so much better if they followed this format.

I bring this up because my colleague at our sister paper in Minneapolis, Neal Justin, listed his Top 10 TV writers of all time. His list omitted Joss Whedon ("Buffy," "Angel," "Firefly") among his 10 best, so needless to say, our lists diverged quite a bit. Here's his list at A fair list to be sure, especially since he made a point of leaving David E. Kelley off.

Here's mine:

1. Rod Serling
2. Aaron Sorkin
3. Joss Whedon
4. Larry Gelbart
5. Jimmy McGovern
6. Steven Bochco/David Milch (I saw Milch at the Austin Film Festival, he's hilarious to listen to)
7. Ron Moore
8. Larry David
9. David Chase
10. Shawn Ryan

Of course, it's all very subjective, but all of the above both created series and wrote great episodes of those and other series. Other than Serling at No. 1, I could rotate the order of the rest of the list, but you get the gist of it. Of course, most writers labor out of the spotlight, making this debate relatively moot.

ELECTION NIGHT RETURNS: I'm guessing I'm not the only one sick to bloody death of the current election and the blanket advertising from the candidates, each more negative than the next.

This is why people don't vote. The last few days, I've come home to phone messages from the President himself, urging me to vote for Mac Collins, along with about two hundred pieces of junk mail. Muchos gracias, Senor Mac.

Anyway, for those of you who love all this political stuff, you may want to catch the hour-long special on Comedy Central at 11 p.m., featuring Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Dan Rather. (Seriously, Dan Rather). As for me, I just hope they don't break through too many of my Tuesday favorites with early election results which tell you nothing. Seriously, don't pre-empt segments of "Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 8 p.m.) to tell me about a judge's race with 1 percent of the ballots counted.

For those who want a take on the local races, check out The Telegraph's own Charles Richardson from 9-11 p.m. Cox Cable's Channel 15.

IDOLATRY: Fox announced "American Idol" will debut Jan. 16, replacing the need to develop quality TV programs.

IF YOU LIKE BORAT...: CBS will broadcast "The Papdits" from "Da Ali G" co-creator Ant Hines online at the network's Innertube site. "The Papdits" was a pilot that was never picked up, but CBS is hoping to make a quick profit now that "Borat" has done so well in theatres. I didn't see "Borat," so I likely won't be logging on. You can check it out at

TUESDAY'S PICKS: David Morse continues his guest turn on "House" (Fox, 9 p.m.) as a cop whose lack of charm rivals that of House. Meanwhile, the doctors tackle the case (hopefully not literally) of a 600-pound patient.

I don't watch "Gilmore Girls" (CW, 8 p.m.) but I couldn't help but note tonight's bittersweet episode title, "Go, Bulldogs!" Oy. Not a good year to be a Georgia fan, though I'm guessing this episode has little if anything to do with UGA's gridiron follies.

I haven't written a tremendous amount about "Veronica Mars" (CW, 9 p.m.) this season, but it's rebounded from what I thought was a weak season a year ago. If you begin watching now, there's still time to catch up on the season's storylines.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Desperate Networks

You really can't ask for a better insight into the mess that is network TV than Bill Carter's book, "Desperate Networks."

I just finished it over the weekend and I highly recommend it to anyone who questions how certain things get on the air and how some great TV almost doesn't.

Carter, a veteran New York Times TV writer, looks at the big four of CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox and how they have developed their strategies over the past half-decade (mainly by blind luck, it seems). He gives details about the incredible struggles to get shows like "Lost," "Desperate Housewives," "American Idol," "Survivor" and others on the air, and gives you insight on the people running the asylums.

It's interesting to think about the domino effects that various decisions at the networks had on the face of TV. Imagine if "Lost" had gone to NBC, for example. Imagine if ABC had gone with its original choice to put "Desperate Housewives" on the graveyard of Friday nights. Not only does it lose that hit, it likely never would have been able to launch its top show, "Grey's Anatomy," which debuted after "DH" on Sundays. (The network executives who believed in "DH," such as Susan Lyne, believed it would fill the void among women viewers left by the departure of "Sex and the City" in the same timeslot on HBO three years ago; they were proven right).

I think the saddest part of the book is the fall of NBC, once the top network and now in fourth place. So mis-managed by former "Today Show" boss Jeff Zucker, NBC is still struggling despite launching some of the best new shows - quality-wise - of the season. NBC President Kevin Reilly is taking a lot of the blame unfairly; after all, he developed "My Name is Earl" and kept "The Office" from cancellation. Zucker was the one in charge when "Friends" was coming to an end and did little to fix the schedule with anything more than band-aids.

Carter gives you insight into all four networks and does so fairly. He doesn't intentionally paint anyone as a hero or villain, but gives you the facts to let you decide on your own.

YO, NBC.COM: One thing that NBC has done which hasn't endeared itself to me is the treatment of "Kidnapped."

Fine, it bombed in the ratings, in large part to viewers being turned off in large part to Fox's clearly inferior "Vanished," which aired first. But why not let it play out on Saturdays? Worse, I tried for an hour on Sunday to find the new online episodes which would wrap up the storyline and found nothing but these two-minute recaps. Don't advertise running the full show if you aren't putting it there, and don't make it so difficult to access.

DRIVING HOME A WINNER?: Fox has ordered the new series, "Drive" from producer Tim Minear ("Firefly," "Angel," "Wonderfalls"). The show revolves around a group of Americans driving for their lives in a cross-country race, sort of like "Cannonball Run" meets "Death Race 2000."

Anything by Minear is usually interesting, so I will tune in, but Fox's treatment of his shows has been less than stellar, so I won't be getting too attached.

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: So how cool was it last week when Bellick drilled T-Bag with the sign on "Prison Break?" (Fox, 8 p.m.) I mean, who do you pull for in that fight?

Tonight sees the continuation of that, the apparent recapture of Lincoln, Michael and Sarah re-uniting and the FBI closing in.

On much-maligned NBC, TV's best new show, "Heroes" (NBC, 9 p.m.) picks up with Hiro questioning his courage and Niki recovering from her fight with her ex. Claire also learns about the homemade DVD of her suicide attempts and who has it. Last week's big reveal of Eden working for Claire's dad was the first twist the writers introduced that didn't knock my socks off, since most people expected it. Still, no show this season has been more interesting to watch. In three weeks, the show will rewind six months before the pilot as we see the characters first learn about their powers, and we meet Mohinder's dad.

"Studio 60" (NBC, 10 p.m.) follows with the first part of a two-parter in which Tom (Nate Corddry) is arrested by John Goodman and must get sprung from jail in time for the show. "Studio 60's" future was not helped last week when a new episode of "Friday Night Lights" ran in this timeslot on a trial run and did significantly better. Good news for "Lights," bad for "Studio 60."

Thanks, CBS, for finally adding me to the DVD screener list. They addressed me as "TV Critic." I prefer "all-knowing TV viewer," but the gesture is appreciated.

Anyway, tonight's new installment of "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (CBS, 9:30 p.m.) is another solid effort in a pretty solid show. Christine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) continues to flirt with her son's teacher (Blair Underwood). "Christine" doesn't re-invent the comedy wheel; in a lot of ways, it's fairly conventional. What makes this show a winner is the continued brilliance of Louis-Dreyfus, arguably the best comedic talent on TV. She lifts what could be mundane material in another actress' hands and raises it to a new level.

"Christine" follows all-new episodes of "How I Met Your Mother," "The Class" and "Two and a Half Men."

Friday, November 03, 2006

DVD Picks: The Sublime and the Not-So-Sublime

Coming up Tuesday, DVD buyers will get some rather eclectic choices for their collections.

Top of the list is "M*A*S*H: The Martinis and Medicine Collection" which covers all 11 seasons on 36 discs. Some of the bonuses include cast interviews and a trivia game.

I'm not sure why, but in the sports writers fraternity, "M*A*S*H" is among the top favorites of classic TV series. Run into a sports writer, and at some point you can always bring up the series with him. I've seen every episode about 10,000 times already, but I still recommend one TV's greatest comedies as a good holiday investment.

Speaking of great comedies, "Police Squad," the Leslie Nielsen show that eventually led to the "Naked Gun" movies, is releasing the complete series. "Police Squad" is a classic that still holds up today; it was a series that was ahead of its time, and thus didn't last long on the network. It's definitely worth the price of the set.

Now, the not-so-good. DVD buyers with money to burn can shell out for "Baywatch: Seasons 1 & 2" AND get the first season of "Beverly Hills 90210." If only someone could tell those young Peach Pit gang kids what the future held in store for them...




OK, R.I.P. Mr. Eko. One of TV's best characters didn't survive his encounter with the fog-like beast of the island, and the TV Guy is truly in mourning, mainly because I think there were more Eko stories to tell. Eko wasn't like Boone or Shannon or even Ana Lucia, who had outlived their usefulness.

It makes "Lost's" hiatus after next week's fall finale even more frustrating, since we won't have long to be able to deal with the aftermath of Eko's death. And who was the dude with the eyepatch? Plus, will Jack operate on Ben?

Seriously, ABC, this is the most screwed-up battleplan since the French went with the Maginot Line defense. Freakin' February? That's when we have to wait?

"Daybreak" had better be worth it.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, Sat., 11:30 p.m.) presents the Best of Darrell Hammond. Hammond's political impressions are the best around, bar none, and usually are when the series shows its best writing.

"The Simpsons" (Fox, Sun., 8 p.m.) present their annual Treehouse of Horror special as the animation block returns with all-new episodes with baseball finished.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Reality TV: It's Good For The Kiddies!

The Parents Television Council, one of the watchdog groups of people with way too much time on their hands, singled out reality TV as some of the best family programming on the air.

Singled out as "appropriate" viewing were shows like "Dancing with the Stars," "American Idol" and "Deal or No Deal." I'm guessing that no with with the Parents Television Council has caught an episode of "The Bachelor" or "Wife Swap" yet.

My problems with these parents' groups is how narrow-minded they are, and I don't just mean in their selection of television. Pretty much any show on the air can be twisted positive or negative depending on what lens its viewed through.

Take "Survivor," for example, which also made the list. What is the show good for? Teaching kids how to stab teammates in the back in order to win a prize? Or "Deal or No Deal?" Unabashed greed?

I'm not saying the above examples are bad shows. Or good shows, for that matter. All I am saying is that you can take good or bad out of any show if you look hard enough.

Since most of these parents' groups try to get what they consider to be bad shows yanked, here's my message: Why not try raising your own kids yourself instead of letting TV do it? Why not stop telling other people what you think are the proper shows to watch and let people choose for themselves?

Now that we live in the age of the V-Chip, parents policing their children's TV habits has never been easier, and therefore, made these so-called watchdog groups superfluous at best.

End of rant.

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: I haven't seen "Hacking Democracy," (HBO, 9 p.m.) but it is drawing raves from critics everywhere. Considering how much we are being bombarded by political ads and with the election in a few days, it should be worth checking out.

The lovely and talented Salma Hayek makes an appearance in front of the camera on "Ugly Betty" (ABC, 8 p.m.) after spending most of the season behind the scenes as the show's producer. Hayek will be a recurring character.

Co-star Mindy Kaling wrote tonight's installment of "The Office" (NBC, 8:30 p.m.) Co-star B.J. Novak wrote the week before's episode. I honestly think it's one of the reasons why this is the best sitcom on TV, since many of the cast, including Steve Carell, have contributed to the show on so many levels. In addition to the cast members who serve as writers, Jenna Fischer and Rainn Wilson also contribute to the blogosphere.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Lost Opportunities

Sometimes, you really wonder about who they stick in charge of networks.

Tonight is the fifth episode of "Lost" (ABC, 9 p.m.) Better enjoy it now, because there is only one more after this week's installment before ABC turns the timeslot over to the new Taye Diggs series, "Daybreak," beginning Nov. 15.

One of the things that so pissed off viewers last year was lots of reruns placed between new episodes of "Lost." Yet what ABC is doing is even worse, since the airwaves will be "Lost"-free until mid-February.

ABC is banking an awful lot on an untested series while shelving one of its top three shows ratings-wise (along with "Grey's Anatomy" and "Desperate Housewives"). And with "Grey's" suffering from off-the-set rumors and controversy, and "DH" suffering from a creative void the past two years, ABC really seems to be a house of cards these days, especially with just one real breakout new hit for the season in "Ugly Betty."

I understand why you want to give "Daybreak" a good shot at making it; nothing wrong with that. But don't do it at the expense of your best show. Give "Daybreak" until the end of December in the timeslot, the bring "Lost" back in January.

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS: The good news over at NBC is not only is "Heroes" continuing to improve on a weekly basis, it also gave "Friday Night Lights" a bump of about 2 million viewers when "Nights" moved into the Monday at 10 p.m. timeslot.

The bad news is that "Nights" outperformed "Studio 60" in the same timeslot. NBC said it is supposedly sticking with "Studio 60," but this is one more bad break for what has been a struggling show since its debut.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BET: Like the rest of Fox's shows, "Bones" (Fox, 8 p.m.) is returning with new episodes now that the World Series is over. I've found "Bones" to be pretty uneven this season; the writers don't seem to know how to balance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Booth (David Boreanaz) with new cast member Tamara Taylor as Brennan's new boss. I noted this in an earlier blog posting, but little has seemed to change since the season debut. Maybe they've worked out the kinks in the break.