Thursday, November 08, 2007

Which Blair Project

Almost lost in Helen Mirren's Oscar performance in "The Queen" last year was the remarkable performance by actor Michael Sheen as then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Not only bearing a striking resemblance to Blair, but Sheen also captured his voice, his mannerisms, everything.

If you liked "The Queen," then you should be in for a treat as the made-for-cable movie "The Deal" (HBO, 9 p.m.) debuts tonight.

Made in 2003 by "Queen" writer Peter Morgan and director Stephen Frears, "The Deal" is kind of an unofficial prequel to "The Queen," detailing the early political career of Blair, who has seemed to draw more attention in the U.S. than any Prime Minister since Winston Churchill, perhaps because he brings a Bill Clinton-like familiarity.

"The Deal" details the relationship between Blair and and now-current P.M. Gordon Brown (David Morrissey), who was Blair's mentor and the head of the Labour Party before Blair was elected.

And if you loved "The Queen" and like "The Deal," there is some extra good news. Morgan is supposed to write a third film for Sheen, detailing Blair's final years and his relationships with Clinton and George W. Bush.

FOX FLIPS THINGS AROUND: The writers haven't even been on strike for a week, and the Fox programming chiefs have been driven a bit crazy, changing the winter schedule around entirely.

The big news is that "24," one of Fox's top-rated dramas, has been yanked from the schedule until the strike is over, because the chiefs want to show the entire season without interruptions (as they have done every year). It's a sound strategy, since the rabid "24" fans will pretty much tune in whenever it gets shown. But it's already been a difficult year on that sound stage, given production problems centered around the California fires and Kiefer Sutherland's DUI arrest.

This leaves a big hole in the Monday schedule, and it's had a domino effect for the rest of the week.

"The Sarah Conner Chronicles" will still debut in January, like it was supposed to, but will be joined by "Prison Break" instead. "PB" was going to show a fall finale and then get yanked until April, but now will run January and February before being replaced by a reality show called "When Women Rule The World."

Fox's saviour, "American Idol," kicks off Tuesdays in mid-January, where it will be joined by "House" before "House" is replaced April 1 by "Hell's Kitchen."

More "AI" on Wednesday, followed by a new game show, "Moment of Truth," a show in which people are hooked to lie detectors that's so bad it was yanked in some South American country after it was revealed a contestant tried to bump off her mother-in-law.

Thursdays will be all reality, including "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" and "Don't Forget The Lyrics."

"Bones" and "House" will kick off an evolving Fridays, which will eventually include "New Amsterdam" and "The Return of Jezebel James." "New Amsterdam" will then give way to the Julianna Margulies vehicle, "Canterbury's Law."

Sundays, which are animated shows and therefore unaffected by the strike, will remain the same, with the exception of "American Dad," which will give way to "Unhitched" for a few weeks.

Stay tuned here for more scheduling changes.

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: Ah, the crossover, that time-honored TV tradition in which characters on one show appear on another show, and vice versa. I remember growing up when "Magnum, PI" had crossovers with "Simon & Simon" and "Murder, She Wrote." Or when various "Star Trek" characters appeared on each other's series. Or the great Richard Belzer, who has portrayed Det. John Munch on "Homicide," all of the "Law & Orders" and "The X-Files."

The tradition continues tonight as the plots of "CSI" (CBS, 9 p.m.) and "Without A Trace" (CBS, 10 p.m.) are intertwined into one big mystery for both shows.

"Ugly Betty" (ABC, 8 p.m.) gets away from the Betty-Henry stuff for a bit, which is good because it has become annoying, in favor of Wilhelmina's (Vanessa Williams) wedding to Bradford (Alan Dale), which will include maid of honor Victoria Beckham. It's followed by a new "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, 9 p.m.) that is scheduled to run long, so program your VCRs and DVRs accordingly. The good thing about that is that it means less of "Big Shots."

Lana gets Clark's power on "Smallville" (CW, 8 p.m.) Great, just what we want to see, more Lana. It's followed by a new "Supernatural," one of the very few shows on TV right now that started off very good and has never had a dip in quality.

NBC continues its green theme this week with an all-new lineup, highlighted by a "30 Rock" (NBC, 8:30 p.m.) that includes guest stars David Schwimmer and Al Gore. It's preceded by a new "Earl" and followed by "The Office," "Scrubs" and "ER." Incidentally, I should mention that the fallout of the strike will include a shortened season of "Scrubs," including possibly not having a proper series finale.


zodin2008 said...

When we all really thought they killed off Lana, they should have REALLY killed her off. Turning Lana into a semi evil bad ass isn't believable at all.

I mean, I get this show is 'Sci Fi' but Lana used to be grounded in reality more. Plus, the more time they give Lana on "Smallville", the less time for the adorable Erica Durance as Lois.

I can't say I have minded the extra screen time on "Betty" for the Henry/Betty romance. I like them together though I really wish they would let them be happy for a while - I also have never ever liked that they saddled Henry with a bad ex girlfriend and kid out in Phoenix. That's the biggest detraction from that story arc.

But you are 100% right when you say the best show of the night IS in fact "Supernatural".

Phillip Ramati said...

My issue with Ugly Betty isn't the romance itself, it's that they've already had them break up and get back together like eight times this season, including about 4 times last week. They need to pick a pattern and stick with it for a while.

Erica Durance can never have too much screen time.

Jonathan said...

I agree, Zod, more Erica Durrance, less Kristin Kreuk. That girl is just, well, Extremely Hot!!!

"Supernatural" is probably the best show on Thursday nights followed closely by "30 Rock" and "The Office." I'm also the only fan of "CSI" on this site, at least that comments, it seems, but its last couple of episodes have been pretty typical, so I'll give the nod to "Supernatural" as well.

I watched the first season of "Betty" on DVD, and I liked it fine, but I haven't been watching the 2nd season. Thursdays is one of my poker nights, and so I have to cut a few shows, or I'll kill myself and my DVR trying to get all this stuff recorded. Probably be checking that out next summer on DVD, but my wife still watches it, and seems to think it's as good as last year.

zodin2008 said...

Sadly, Jonathan, we have 3 DVR's in my house - yikes!

Though with the writer's strike, if it's prolongued, we may just cut one.

I agree with you again Jonathan...of the Thursday shows, it's now 1. Supernatural 2. 30 Rock 3. The Office 4. Scrubs 5. Smallville and 6. Ugly Betty

But I do really like "Betty" so I just like all 6 shows.

I am gravely concerned about this prolongued writer's strike now meaning "The Office" has no new episodes after next week (holy crap) and that "Scrubs" is now less than likely to get a proper final season sendoff.

Again, I simply cannot drum up a ton of sympathy for the writers considering what it's costing fans of these shows and more importantly, the low paid technicians and key grip guys who make like 30K a year, far less than the Tina Fey's and Steve Carrell's do.