Monday, December 31, 2007

Diablo Made Me Do It

That's me with "Juno" director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody, who has become something of a sensation since her screenplay made it to the big screen.

I finally got to see "Juno" over the weekend, and let me tell you, it was worth the wait.

Juno (Ellen Page) is a rather precocious 16-year-old high school girl who discovers she has become pregnant by her sweet, sometimes-boyfriend (Michael Cera). After deciding not to have an abortion, she wants to give the child up for adoption, and meets the seemingly perfect couple (Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner).

Cody's sharp dialogue has helped make the movie such a hit among both viewers and critics.

It's been a double Diablo Cody week for me, since I finished her book "Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper" last week. The book, which details Cody's life from a girl who grew up in a "normal" middle class environment to spend a year working as stripper/phone sex operator, is both hilarious and insightful, and it's obvious that Cody has a knack for communicating.

Anyway, it took seemingly forever for "Juno" to make it to Atlanta (and it probably won't make it to Macon), but I have to say, it was worth the wait and worth the trip if you decide to go. You'll find few comedies with so much heart to go with it.

WGA UPDATE: What could be a major break in the stalemate between the writers' union and the studios took place over the weekend when David Letterman's company, Worldwide Pants, struck a separate deal with the WGA.

The deal allows for writers to return to work immediately for "The Late Show With David Letterman" and "The Late, Late Show With Craig Ferguson," both of which are produced by Worldwide Pants.

Should these shows start scoring better ratings than the other late-night talk shows, which still don't have their writers back, it could force the networks to separately deal with the WGA and make their own deals, which would take the legs out of the studios trying to break the union. It may also lead other production companies to make their own deals.

Either way, it's a small step in the right direction of hopefully ending the labor dispute.

MONDAY & TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: I'm going to be taking a day or two off for the holiday, but fortunately, there is very little to miss.

I always ring in the New Year with Dick Clark, so check out his annual special tonight beginning at beginning at 10 p.m.

Area football fans can catch Georgia Tech vs. Fresno State in The Humanitarian Bowl (ESPN2, 2 p.m.), while the true national championship, The Sugar Bowl, takes place Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. on Fox when Georgia faces Hawaii.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Baker's Dozen Of The Year's Favorite Shows

So, here it is, the list of all lists.

Packed so thoroughly, I had to extend it to a baker's dozen of choices, and still there are shows that could easily be on the list and I'm leaving them off. I'm also sticking with dramatic programs, despite the great number of documentaries that aired this year.

Here's a quick Top 10 of the shows that DIDN'T make the cut. Had this been my final list of shows, few could have argued the picks:

1. The Sopranos
2. House
3. The Office
4. Rome
5. Curb Your Enthusiasm
6. Heroes
7. Burn Notice
8. Chuck
9. Rescue Me
10. Ugly Betty

Yep, those are shows that I lavished a lot of praise upon for the past year (and more) and aren't on my list of favorites. Nor are such critically praised/well-rated shows like "Grey's Anatomy," "CSI" or "30 Rock," none of which make my regular viewing habits.

It's not as if the above shows did anything wrong. It's just that for whatever reason, my ultimate favorite viewing goes to the list below. They aren't the right choices or the wrong choices, just my favorites. I expect that the regular readers of this blog will have their own selections, which I'd love to hear.

Anyway, in alphabetical order, so as not to play favorites among the favorites:

1. Battlestar Galactica (Sci-Fi): Honestly, in our post-9/11 world, there isn't a show that provides a better commentary on the human condition than BSG. Well acted with great production values, it also gave fans one of the best cliffhangers of the season.

2. The Bronx Is Burning (ESPN): You know what, this mini-series on ESPN was a heck of a lot of fun. John Turturro really nailed Billy Martin, and the rest of the cast was great as well. I found the Yankees/Son of Sam interweaving to be a bit disjointed, but from a dramatic perspective, this is the best thing ESPN has ever done.

3. Dexter (Showtime): The reason I subscribe to Showtime. Michael C. Hall is wicked cool in the title role, and each week provides a roller-coaster of emotions. Since the viewer is rooting for a serial killer, the series really turns everything upside down.

4. Doctor Who/Torchwood (Sci Fi/BBC): I'm cheating a bit here by lumping the two together, though there was some crossover between "Doctor Who" and its spinoff at the end. Not many shows can lose its insanely popular female lead and not skip a beat, but "Doctor Who" did. Meanwhile, "Torchwood" managed to carve a niche among mainstream, non science fiction reviewers and watchers.

5. Extras (HBO): Worth watching, if for nothing else but the wild cameos from such guest stars as Daniel Radcliffe, David Bowie and Orlando Bloom all playing warped versions of themselves, this show was also a high point for regulars Ricky Gervais, Ashley Jensen and Stephen Merchant. The finale was a bit too heavy-handed, but also had its sweet moments.

6. Friday Night Lights (NBC): This almost didn't make the list because of the times it drifted into melodrama, but the fact remains that this is one of the best-acted shows on TV, and even when the writers made a mis-step, such as the Landry-Tyra murder subplot, some great scenes came out of it. This show is too ignored by the general viewing population and the people who vote for awards.

7. How I Met Your Mother (CBS): The most consistently funny sitcom on the air. It's not quite as high a concept as "The Office," but I find it slightly more enjoyable. How this is more lower-rated than "The Big Bang Theory" is beyond me.

8. Life On Mars (BBC America): Not many shows are as clever in both their premise and their execution, but "Life On Mars" is also a tremendous amount of fun, providing both a neat perspective and a certain bit of nostalgia for those '70s-era cop shows.

9. Lost (ABC): Despite ABC managing to undermine what was once its signature show with a ridiculous hiatus for the likes of "Day Break," those final dozen or so episodes proved to be worth the wait with one of the best season finales ever produced by network TV.

10. Mad Men (AMC): An amazing ensemble cast that captures its era of the pre-Vietnam 1960s perfectly. With several star-making performances and brilliant writing, this was the best thing to come out of the summer of 2007.

11. Pushing Daisies (ABC): The fall's best new show, there isn't anything on the air that comes close to "Pushing Daisies" in terms of imagination and whimsy. With its glorious colors and well-executed dialogue, this is TV's most distinctive show.

12. The Shield (FX): I'll say this with the caveat that I've never seen "The Wire" (I plan on catching up during the WGA strike), but "The Shield" is the most gritty, realistic and consistently good cop show TV has ever done, IMHO. (And you won't find a bigger "Homicide: Life On The Street" fan than me.) Every year, the cast gives a clinic in acting, and the writing has been remarkably consistent since the show began. It's killing me that it's about to start its final season.

13. Supernatural (CW): I may leave myself open to a lot of criticism picking this over some of the shows I left off, but few shows have started as good as "Supernatural" and gotten even better each season. "Supernatural" is funny, smart, very scary and a lot of fun. It's the true successor to two TV classics, "The X-Files" and "Buffy, The Vampire Slayer."

So, hopefully I've justified myself in all my lists this week (sorry, "John In Cincinnati" fans) and given you guys something to think about. One thing worth mentioning is that despite people decrying the state of television, 2007 was an excellent year, and we can only hope 2008 gives us as many fun-filled hours.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: As you have probably heard by now, the NFL got wise at the last minute and decided to air the New England Patriots-New York Giants game on network TV. Originally, the game was only going to be shown on the NFL Network, but the NFL decided that the historic possibility of the Patriots completing a perfect season might be of interest to more than the 11 people who subscribe to the NFL Network. So the game will also be seen concurrently on both NBC and CBS.

"The Amazing Race" (CBS, 8 p.m.) is all-new Sunday night, one of the few new things on before the new year.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Favorite Moments, Favorite Casts

As an aspiring writer, I particularly enjoy it when all of the elements of a scene come together - acting, writing and directing.

Even during a year that has produced a lot of remarkable and memorable TV, certain moments stick out.

Here are 10 of my favorites, one of which is sure to be controversial:

1. Friday Night Lights (NBC): The single best scene of the year, IMHO, was when Mrs. Taylor (Connie Britton) confronted her daughter Julie about teen sex. So terrific the acting and the writing, this scene ought to be required viewing in all high schools around the country as an argument to deter the issue of teen sex.

2. Lost (ABC): In a series with so many compelling scenes, my favorite was Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) deliberately sealing himself in the chamber to ensure his own death, taking the leap of faith that it would mean Desmond's vision would come true and Claire and Aaron would be rescued from the island. In a series in which a lot of characters get killed, that was certainly the most memorable and most beautiful.

3. Rome (HBO): Atia (Polly Walker) figuratively shoves her daughter-in-law aside and takes her place beside her son Octavian as Rome's new emperor. It was the culmination of a series' worth of scheming and plotting, and Polly Walker was brilliant in conveying all of that.

4. Doctor Who (BBC/Sci-Fi): After hiding out as a human for most of the two-part episode, the Doctor (David Tennant) finally confronts alien hunters in the episode "Family of Blood." Told by the point of view of the leader of the clan, it's downright chilling as the Doctor delivers a fate worse than death on each of his pursuers as the clan realizes too late that the Doctor was hiding not because of cowardice, but because of his power. Just as good was the finale, in which the Doctor is confronted by the woman he fell in love with, and the fate of the boy who found the Doctor's watch and learned his secret. I get chills just typing this.

5. Battlestar Galactica (Sci-Fi): In the episode following Starbuck's death, Adama (Edward James Olmos) is puttering around his cabin, heartbroken at the death of someone who was a daughter to him. He finds an old birthday card and opens it and through his tears he finds a ridiculous picture of Starbuck with a handlebar mustache drawn on her face. Through his tears, Adama lets out a laugh at the same time as viewers probably did.

6. The Shield (FX): Vic (Michael Chiklis) has left his hearing and finally gets the evidence he needs to give him leverage against his corrupt superiors who would see him fired. As he starts ordering his former boss and city councilman Aceveda around at the end and drives off with the evidence, we know that the most dangerous guy around has just been handed the ultimate weapon. That's a season finale for you.

7. Dexter (Showtime): A lot of great moments, but my favorite is Dexter (Michael C. Hall) doing his thing to the drug dealer while Sgt. Doakes is helpless while caged up. After the deed is done, all a sickened Doakes can mutter is "Don't talk to me."

8. Pushing Daisies (ABC): One of the few scenes you can watch over and over on YouTube, Kristin Chenowith and Digby the dog perform the "Grease" classic song, "Hopelessly Devoted To You." Wonderfully comic and sad at the same time, it serves as a reminder as to just how talented a performer Chenowith is.

9. The Office (NBC): Another series with a lot of great moments, but my favorite this year was when Roy learns that Jim made a pass at Pam and bursts into the office to beat him up. At the last moment, Dwight heroically maces him, a complete left turn that you didn't see coming but was perfectly within what the character would do.

10. The Sopranos (HBO): Here it is, far and away the most controversial moment of the season, the final scene of "The Sopranos." Tony is waiting to order with his family, Meadow can't parallel park to save her life, Journey is cranked up on the radio, the tension builds, then ... nothing. Say what you will about it, and I can't say it was my favorite ending by a long shot, but it sure as heck made an impression.

In singling out favorite performers like I've done earlier this week, sometimes you get casts in which you have excellent individuals, but the sum is definitely greater than parts.

I might have included "Heroes" on the list, but they shouldn't have added the Wonderless Twins this season:

1. Lost: Even when "Lost" added the totally useless Nikki and Paolo, the producers found one of the most inventive ways to get rid of two characters ever. It's rare for a series to have so many subplots and the viewer to care for them all, but "Lost" pulls it off.

2. The Shield: It says something about Michael Chiklis the producer when he lets so many of the rest of the cast share the spotlight with Michael Chiklis the actor. Each year, this cast has produced a huge list of people deserving Emmys - Glenn Close, Anthony Anderson, Forest Whitaker, CCH Pounder, Walton Goggins - yet the Academy ignores them.

3. Mad Men: While I've pointed out some standouts from this series - Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Christina Hendricks - the rest of the cast wasn't exactly chopped liver, especially January Jones as Hamm's bored trophy wife.

4. Friday Night Lights: It says something when two actors like Jesse Plemons and Adrienne Palicki can take an overly melodramatic storyline such as Landry killing the rapist and give it feeling. There are a lot of subplots here, some better than others, but everybody does a good job. From Zach Gilford as the good kid who suddenly finds himself in the limelight to Gaius Charles' egomaniac star tailback to comical booster Buddy Garrity (Brad Leland), they all take what could be two-dimensional roles in the hands of lesser talents and give them depth. And everyone from the rest of the cast and crew to my parents love Liz Mikel as Smash's no-nonsense mom.

5. Battlestar Galactica: A reader pointed out to me on Christmas that I'm a bit too sci-fi oriented in this blog, and she may have a point. But few "mainstream" TV viewers could argue that the BSG cast is amazing. You expect greatness from the likes of Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell, but the supporting actors like Katee Sackoff, Jamie Bamber, Grace Park, Tricia Helfer et. al. are equally up to the task, not to mention recurring actors like Callum Keith Rennie and Lucy Lawless. And James Callis, as the series' reluctant villain who is more of a coward than truly evil, is probably the most realistic character on TV right now in the sense that when the chips are down, we'd all be more like Baltar than we would Adama than we would like to admit.

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: Reruns, reruns, reruns.

The only "new" thing is the Family Television Awards (CW, 9 p.m.), which I'm fairly sure is run by one of those groups that tell you the five family-oriented shows on TV and want to yank the rest of the schedule for being too racy. I'm all for promoting family-oriented shows - it's one of the reasons I like "Friday Night Lights" so much, though I'm fairly sure it doesn't make the list for these parents groups - but I'm not in favor of any sort of censorship when it comes to watching TV. If you don't think your kids should be watching "Grey's Anatomy" or something like it, then take better care of the remote control. Don't punish the rest of the TV viewing world because a show might have sexual content.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

More Lists: A Baker's Dozen Of Favorite Performers (Times 2)

Trying to put together a list of favorite actors and actresses leaves me with a frustrating problem.

There's just so gosh-darn many people I like to watch on TV.

How to illustrate this? Here some of the names I'm NOT putting on the lists below: James Gandolfini, Steve Carell, Zach Braff. (I know, right!)

So I came up with a reasonable baker's dozen each of actors and actresses who keep me glued to my TV set.

In no particular order, then, except how they popped out of my head:


1. Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies): Pace is absolutely note perfect as the piemaker with the gift and curse of bringing the dead back to life. His staccato, deadpan delivery and longing eyes toward his longtime love, Chuck, help make "Pushing Daisies" TV's best new show.

2. Jon Hamm (Mad Men): Without a doubt, TV's breakout star of the year. As the broken ad genius, Hamm made "Mad Men" the most interesting new show of the summer.

3. Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights): As someone who has covered a couple hundred high school football games over the years, Chandler captures the feel of a small-town high school football coach perfectly.

4. Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica): When I first heard that Olmos and Mary McDonnell, actors with serious chops, were going to be part of the then-new remake of BSG, I knew this series was going to be something different and far better than the original. Olmos has proven me right every season.

5. Kevin McKidd (Rome, Journeyman): Neither of McKidd's series had an especially long life, but McKidd's star is definitely on the rise with roles as both a time-traveling journalist and an ancient Roman captain. I look forward to any future projects from this Scottish actor.

6. Hugh Laurie (House): Few actors can have an entire series built around their character and pull it off, but "House" is definitely the exception that proves the rule. That Laurie has yet to even be nominated for an Emmy shows how ridiculous the awards show is.

7. Michael C. Hall (Dexter): When I first heard Hall was cast as the crime techie/serial killer, I didn't think he could pull off the menacing nature required, based on his "Six Feet Under" character. Boy, was I wrong! Anyone who doesn't vote Hall for an Emmy deserves to be strapped to Dexter's lab table.

8. Alec Baldwin (30 Rock): Should I be entertained or extremely bothered by the fact that most network execs are more like Baldwin's Jack Donaghy than anyone would like to admit?

9. Damian Lewis (Life): Another of the Brit imports dominating US TV right now, Lewis has created a wonderfully unique detective with some of the cleverest dialogue around to go with him.

10. Zachary Levi (Chuck): The one criticism I've heard of women fans and critics about this series is that Levi is too good-looking to be considered a geek, but I think Levi is the perfect blend of geekiness for his role as a reluctant spy.

11. Michael Chiklis (The Shield): Chiklis and "The Shield" got Emmy consideration after its first season, but it's been largely forgotten ever since. That's a shame, because it's one of those rare shows that started great and got even better.

12. John Simm (Life On Mars): As a detective who doesn't know if he is a time traveler, in a coma or simply mad, Simm expertly evokes the character's desperation with his dilemma.

13. Steve Carell (The Office): Nobody does befuddled like Carell does, and his cringe-inducing Michael Scott is a character for the ages.


1. Edie Falco (The Sopranos): I think I'm going to miss Carmela most of all. She stood up to Tony like no one else did, and she was never afraid to be hypocritical in enjoying the wealth of Tony's ill-gotten gains while decrying the mob lifestyle.

2. Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica): If the world had leaders like Laura Roslin, it'd be a better place. That McDonnell has never gotten an Emmy nomination for this role is a worse crime against humanity than anything the Cylons perpetrated.

3. Glenn Close (Damages): When I heard Glenn Close was returning to TV a couple of years after her electrifying run on "The Shield," I was stoked, and Close didn't disappoint. While "Damages" never quite worked for me, Close was sensational as the lawyer from Hell.

4. Jenna Fischer (The Office): Fischer's Pam is technically more of a supporting character, but Fischer is one of the rising stars in the industry, one of those rare beautiful women with perfect comic timing. Anyone who hasn't yet needs to go see "Walk Hard."

5. Anna Friel (Pushing Daisies): The stunning and quirky Friel is absolutely perfectly cast as the ultimate girl-next-door. Oh to be Ned, and have both Chuck and Olive pining for you.

6. Polly Walker (Rome): As Atia, she was seductive, scheming and just a helluva lotta fun to watch. When Walker took her place by her son's side in the "Rome" finale, it was the perfect end note to two seasons of putting her kids through hell.

7. Jamie Pressley (My Name Is Earl): Like Fischer, technically more a supporting actress, but definitely a scene stealer. Her Emmy this year was well-deserved.

8. America Ferrera (Ugly Betty): As the title character of one of TV's best new shows last season, Ferrera pretty much won every award imaginable, with the exception of the American League Cy Young, I think. And she deserved them all.

9. Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who): It must have been pretty intimidating to take over the lead female role for one of the most popular actresses in Britain, but Agyeman was up to the task as her Martha Jones proved to be the right replacement for Billie Piper's Rose Tyler. Agyeman's unrequited love for The Doctor was both comic and heartbreaking.

10. Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights): As "Mrs. Coach," I've already sung the praises for Britton many times on this blog. And I hope to continue for a long, long time.

11. Tina Fey (30 Rock): Much like Ricky Gervais (high praise, indeed) Fey is equally gifted as both a performer and a writer. And I love those American Express commercials she does.

12. Kristin Bell (Veronica Mars): I knew Bell wouldn't be out of work for long after "VM" got axed, and she's already proven to be a key performer on both "Heroes" and "Gossip Girl." The sky is the limit for Bell in the coming years.

13. Helen Mirren (Prime Suspect): Last, but definitely not least, is Mirren, for whom you could make the argument that she is the best actress in the world at this moment. Her sweep of the Oscar for "The Queen" and the Emmy for her final bow as Jane Tennison in the last "Prime Suspect" series proves that Planet Earth is Mirren's stage.

So, which performers did you want mentioned, and who should I have left off the list?

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: Slim pickings with all of the reruns airing right now. "American Masters" (PBS, 9 p.m.) is doing a special on the great Bob Newhart.

And, sports-wise, the thrilling Motor City Bowl between Purdue and Central Michigan (ESPN, 7:30 p.m.) shows sports fans just how important third-tier bowls can be. Go Chippewas!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A X-Mas Lump Of Coal (Or 2)

Humbug! Humbug, I say!

TV delivered a huge sack of coal in 2007, and the following were among the lowlights:

10. Tell Me You Love Me (HBO): Way to make graphic sense completely dull and unsexy, Cynthia Mort.

9. John From Cincinnati (HBO): I really don't know how bad this show was. I only made it through the first 15 minutes of the first episode.

8. The Riches (FX): This deserves a caveat, because I think Eddie Izzard turned in an Emmy-nomination worthy performance as the patriarch of a clan of con men. But everything else, especially Minnie Driver, was just awful. It wasn't the worst thing on FX, though, because...

7. Dirt (FX): ... FX also gave us this piece of, well, dirt. As bad as the main storyline, the whole psycho-photographer thing just made it unwatchable.

6. Big Bang Theory (CBS): How this show is one of the best new series of the season ratings-wise is beyond me. I've known my share of geeks through the years (and counted myself among them) and no one was ever this obtuse. This is as unfunny as sitcoms get.

5. Caveman/Carpoolers (ABC): I stand corrected. This is as unfunny as sitcoms get. These shows deserved to be lumped together, considering how awful they are. ABC was really hit-or-miss with its new stuff this season.

4. The View (ABC): Can't live with Rosie, can't live without her. Obviously, any time you get rid of the shrill Rosie O'Donnell and her blithering nonsense, it's a step in the right direction. But boy, the show sure is boring without her.

3. The Apprentice (NBC): It was bad enough Trump got rid of George and Caroline in favor of his sycophantic kids, but making the losing team sleep outside in tents? Keeping the same project managers week in and week out? Desperation moves that backfired, big-time. And with the so-called celebrity version that is about to be foisted upon us in a couple of weeks, the handwriting is on the wall for this franchise.

2. Viva Laughlin (CBS): Why is this not the worst show of the year? Because CBS deserves at least a bit of credit for trying to do something that was original. The fact that it was so poorly executed that it lasted only two episodes probably means that CBS will never make that mistake again. "CSI: Peoria," anyone?

1. Big Shots (ABC): Last and certainly least. If it came down to watching this again and a night's worth of diarrhea, well at least they make Pepto Bismal. How the same network that gave us stuff like "Lost" and "Pushing Daisies" could give us this drivel is beyond me. That ABC won't even aired the three new episodes it has on the shelf during a writers' strike tells you how bad this is.

And, five shows that I liked that got ended prematurely:

1. Journeyman (NBC): Yes, this show was complicated to follow, but that was the point. It was building a nice little mythology, but we'll never really know how it was supposed to play out.

2. Veronica Mars (CW): The CW yanks VM but keeps "One Tree Hill," which will use the same plot device of advancing the series four years into the future. Go figure. At least, Miss Kristen Bell landed on "Heroes."

3. Andy Barker, PI (NBC): One day, Andy Richter will find the perfect comedy vehicle that people will actually watch. Unfortunately, this little gem of a show wasn't it.

4. The Dresden Files (Sci-Fi): I really was starting to get into this quirky little series, but apparently, no one else was.

5. The Nine (ABC): ABC didn't do this show any favors by yanking it before the major plot twist - that the bank manager (Chi McBride) was apparently supposed to be in on the robbery. The show was a bit meandering and probably too ambitious, but it was decent TV.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: My Christmas present comes courtesy of BBC America, which gives us an all-new "Life On Mars" tonight at 9 p.m. Everything else is a rerun.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Year End List, I: Thanks For Your Support

As promised, I'm running lists of my favorite and least favorite aspects of TV in 2007.

Notice how I said "favorite" and not "best" or "worst." These lists are what I, the TV Guy, enjoyed the most and least over the past year. Of course, there are many shows I didn't get to watch (after all, this isn't a full-time job for me as it is for most other TV critics), so some of the popular things on the air, such as "Grey's Anatomy" or "CSI" won't be making my lists while some more obscure stuff will.

Today I'm focusing on my favorite supporting actors and actresses. Though they don't often get the limelight of bigger-name stars, I'd argue that these people make their shows more compelling with their presence.

So, in no particular order except how I think of them:


1. Michael Emerson (Lost): TV's best villain (or warped hero, depending on your point of view), Emerson's quiet demeanor actually makes him scarier than your run-of-the-mill psychopath.

2. John Slattery (Mad Men): Slattery is one of those actors who you see a lot and always delivers a reliable performance, but as Jon Hamm's slimy boss on "Mad Men," he has reached new heights professionally. The oysters/stairwell revenge moment on Slattery remains one of the show's high points of the season.

3. Ray Wise (Reaper): "Reaper" hasn't lived up to the promise of its excellent pilot, but in no way is that the fault of Wise, who is phenomenal with his seemingly nice-guy take on the Devil. With his smile, immaculate suits and the twinkle in his eye, Wise has done the near-impossible -- he makes you root for Satan.

4. Chi McBride (Pushing Daisies): Who knew McBride had such a knack for comedy? After playing a variety of serious characters, McBride steals many scenes in a series full of scene-stealing.

5. Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother): Every guy should have a Barney in their life to act as their wingman. With his "Suit up!" call to action, Harris' Barney is LEGEND-(wait for it)-ARY.

6. Walton Goggins (The Shield): Goggins was always very good as Michael Chiklis' right-hand man, but with Shane Vendrell becoming the main villain and killing one of his teammates, Goggins has taken his game to a whole new level. How he didn't win the Emmy is proof the system needs another overhaul.

7. Philip Glenister (Life On Mars): The perfect foil for John Simm's straight-laced Sam Tyler, DCI Gene Hunt is as old-school as it gets. And while we find his un-P.C. approach to life amusing, one wonders if the streets would be safer today if we had a few more Gene Hunts out there.

8. Masi Oka/Jack Coleman (Heroes): Say what you will about "Heroes," but Coleman and Oka have been top-notch from the get-go. Oka brings a wonderful sense of whimsy as the time-traveling Hiro, while Coleman brings both warmth and coldness to his assassin/family man HRG.

9. Ted Danson (Damages): Though "Damages" proved to be a little slow-paced for me ultimately, Danson was terrific as a Ken Lay-style CEO, who managed to elicit both sympathy and revulsion. This was definitely one of the breakthrough performances of the year.

10. (AND LEADING INTO SUPPORTING ACTRESSES) 1. Michael Urie/Becki Newton (Ugly Betty): You can't have one without the other. Urie's Mark and Newton's Amanda are delicious as the scene-stealing, scheming assistants at Mode Magazine, yet both also offer their share of poignant moments as well.

2. Christina Hendricks (Mad Men): As the "it" girl among the secretaries, Hendricks was a total bombshell both literally and figuratively. Knowing how to control men yet stuck perpetually as a secretary, Hendricks created a memorable conundrum of a character that might have been two-dimensional in the hands of a lesser actress and lesser writers.

3. Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost): OK, so everyone knows I love Elizabeth Mitchell. That doesn't make the addition of her to TV's best cast any less signficant, as Juliet gives us a wonderfully complex character. We still don't know whose side she's on.

4. Kristin Chenowith (Pushing Daisies): Chenowith has never really had a TV role that matched up to her wide range of talents - until now. Her duet with Digby the dog on "Hopelessly Devoted To You" remains the highlight of the TV season for me.

5. Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica/Bionic Woman): Sackhoff scores the rare double here. As Starbuck on "BSG," she's always delivered, but as Sarah Corvis, the original Bionic Woman, she absolutely steals the show. Most "Bionic" fans would rather follow Sarah's story than that of Jamie Sommers, more proof that it's always good to play a great villain.

6. Amy Pietz (Aliens In America): Pietz has created one of the more memorable TV moms in recent memory, and while I wouldn't recommend her parenting techniques, she's a riot to watch.

7. Anne Dudek (House): Dudek made Cutthroat Bitch the most memorable of House's candidates to study under his fellowship. Her willingness to lie, backstab and not whine about it unless it was to her advantage was fun to watch, and made it all the more shocking when she didn't make the final cut, when she seemed a shoo-in that the producers would want to keep this character around. Fear not, "House" fans: Dudek is back at least once more after the show returns (whenever that is).

8. CCH Pounder (The Shield): Year in and year out, Pounder delivers one of the most consistent performances on the air as Lt. Wyms, one of the few honest cops at the station who is slowly compromising her own values by realizing just how essential Vic Mackey is to keeping the streets relatively safe.

9. Angela Kinsey (The Office): Why Kinsey and not Jenna Fischer? Well, I consider Fischer to be the female lead on the show. Kinsey is a supporting actress in the truest sense of the word, not essential to the series from a storytelling point of view, but essential in providing some of the series' best comedy moments. With her quiet nature, Kinsey does more with facial expressions than most actresses do with dialogue.

10. Andrea Roth (Rescue Me): As a fan of "Rescue Me," I was a little disappointed overall with the way the show unfolded this year, but considering the high standard I hold it to, I'm probably asking a lot. But one thing that has never wavered has been Roth's performance as Tommy Gavin's (Denis Leary) equally screwed-up wife and mother. Say what you will about the Gavins, but they pretty much deserve each other.

So, who were your favorite supporting actors and actresses in 2007?

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: Nothing new on, but plenty of Christmas options here. The classics "It's a Wonderful Life" (NBC, 8 p.m.) and "A Christmas Story" (TBS, 8 p.m. and continuing for the next 24 hours) are the best bets, while "Bad Santa" (Comedy Central, 9 p.m.) might be the pick for adults. Me, I'll probably watch "GoodFellas" (A&E, 8 p.m.) if I don't crank up the DVD player.

Friday, December 21, 2007

An Early Happy Festivus

Just wanted to wish you loyal dozens (and judging by the number of replies that I've been getting lately, that number seems to be growing) a happy Festivus. As you (should) know, the holiday is upon us Sunday, so take out those aluminum poles and gear up for the feats of strengths. (I've long had my list of grievances ready to air).

It really says something about the staying power of a TV show like "Seinfeld" that over a decade after the Festivus episode aired, people still actually celebrate this holiday.

Some news and notes before the holiday season begins:

WILL JAMIE LYNN'S PREGNANCY BE A SPECIAL?: As you've no doubt heard by now, Britney Spears' 16-year-old sister has announced she's pregnant. Jamie Lynn Spears, star of Nickelodeon's "Zoey 101," made the announcement in a celebrity rag earlier this week.

In the wake of the Spears family becoming more of a punchline, some good may actually come of this (besides the miracle of childbirth, of course). Nickelodeon is in talks with journalist Linda Ellerbee to do a special on teen pregnancy. Considering Nick's audience, and considering some of the other terrific specials aimed at kids that Ellerbee has done in the past (the one on AIDS, with Magic Johnson, springs to mind), this could end up being a great forum to deliver a message to thousands of teens and pre-teens.

Meanwhile, the network said it wouldn't yank "Zoey 101," which has wrapped up its final season of filming.

USA BIDS ADIEU: Fans of "The 4400" and "The Dead Zone" got a lump of coal for their stockings this week, as USA cancelled the two low-rated cult favorites. The network dragged its heels forever on making a decision, bu it seems like a mini-run of six episodes for each or even a TV movie to wrap up the storylines might have been a nice parting gift to loyal fans.

"DEXTER" KILLS: The sensational season finale of "Dexter" drew 1.4 million viewers in its initial airing, setting an all-time mark for Showtime. (The network only has between 15 and 18 million subscribers.) It was great to see star Michael C. Hall get deserved nominations this week from both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild for Best Actor, and Season 3 can't come soon enough.

Meanwhile, CBS is toying with the idea of airing heavily edited versions of "Dexter" during the WGA strike. Though I like the idea of introducing "Dexter" to a wider audience, the cuts the network would have to make in regards to the violence, sex and language would detract from the storytelling, IMHO, and I don't think a watered-down "Dexter" would make the same impact.

LIFETIME CONTEST: From a press release: Lifetime Networks’, the ultimate digital destination for women’s entertainment and escape, is searching for America’s most inspiring and creative New Year’s resolutions to be featured in an original Web series.’s “Clean Start Challenge” invites users to share their New Year’s resolutions online for a chance to host their own Webisode series and win cash prizes. The grand prize winner will receive $10,000 and a trip to Disney World. Nine runner-ups will each receive $2,000.

Users “audition” by submitting photos or videos describing their New Year’s resolution on, now through January 9, 2008. A panel of expert judges will narrow down the entries to ten contestants, who will be given webcams to track their progress on keeping their resolutions from January 21st to March 31st.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: Well, we've pretty much hit the end of new dramatic programming for the year, and even the college football bowl games aren't going to provide much relief. Tonight we get the mighty New Orleans Bowl, featuring the sexy matchup of Memphis vs. Florida Atlantic (ESPN2, 8 p.m.)

Other matchups over the weekend include the Papa John's Bowl (ESPN, Sat., 1 p.m.); the New Mexico Bowl (ESPN, Sat., 4:30 p.m.); The Las Vegas Bowl (ESPN, Sat., 8 p.m.); and the Hawaii Bowl (ESPN, Sun., 8 p.m.) as East Carolina looks for a Festivus miracle against Boise State.

"Duel" (ABC, 8 p.m.) continues tonight before ending Sunday night with its final four battling for more than $1 million.

"The Amazing Race" (CBS, Sun., 8 p.m.) returns for a new episode. It's followed by the documentary, "In God's Name" at 9 p.m., in which a dozen major religious leaders from all faiths around the world talk about modern issues.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Making My Lists, And Checking Them Twice

One of my poker buddies, local deejay Jason Hawk, is obsessive about lists.

Bring up a topic - any topic - and invariably he will already have (or come up with) a list ready on the spot.

He might cut in with "Top five free safeties in the NFL right now who played at Big 10 schools" or "Best eight albums from 1974" or some such other bit of obscure list.

So, next week, it's going to be all lists, all week (unless the WGA strike ends). So feel free to critique my lists and come up with your own Best and Worst of 2007 in TV.

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: If you aren't into game shows and reality shows, this might be a night to hit the town. NBC wraps up "Clash of the Choirs" (NBC, 8 p.m.) by expanding the finale into two hours. It goes head-to-head against "Duel" (ABC, 8 p.m.) and "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" (Fox, 8 p.m.) and "Don't Forget The Lyrics" (Fox, 9 p.m.) Is this a sneak preview for TV in 2008? God, I hope not.

The college bowl season kicks off tonight when Utah battles Navy (ESPN, 9 p.m.)

Finally, as reruns go, you could do worse than checking out "Supernatural" (CW, 9 p.m.), in which Sam and Dean find their dad's not-so-lucky rabbit's foot.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

And The Golden Globe Goes To...

...(sounds of crickets chirping)...

One of the latest casualties of the strike is that the WGA hasn't granted exemptions to both the Golden Globes and the Oscars, meaning that no writers will be cleared to work on those show.

In addition, all of the writers, plus most of the actors and directors, have said they will honor the picket lines and not attend the awards shows if the strike is still going on when they are supposed to air. That means there will be no one to present the awards and no one to receive them if the producers decide to go ahead and air them anyway. The Golden Globes, set to air in early January, are the first awards show coming up to be affected by the strike.

Though I always have a lot of fun trying to predict who will win what, I can't say I watched any of these shows with any sort of frequency. And this year's Golden Globes nominations were especially annoying with who got picked and who didn't, both on the movie side and the TV side. (I can't think of a movie more overrated by critics for some time than "No Country For Old Men," but that's a discussion for another time.)

Meanwhile, an interesting twist to the strike that may help bring about some sort of resolution has been the willingness of writers to seek out funding for projects other than the studios. With the availability of hedge funds out there as well as new media platforms like YouTube and Google - which have tons of money - some writers are looking to cut out the studios as middlemen and go directly to the Web with their projects.

It's a bit ironic, since the major sticking point between the studios and WGA are residuals for writers from new media broadcasts of their projects. By not giving any ground on this issue, the studios are running the risk of making themselves obsolete.

You can read more about this new idea for making movies at the L.A. Times Web site here:,1,299083.story?ctrack=3&cset=true.

And, Jimmy Kimmel has announced his late-night talk show on ABC would return to production at the beginning of January, joining both "The Tonight Show" and "Late Night" on NBC.

"SCRUBS" FIX: My brother sent me a link to a very funny Web site, which is good for people wanting their "Scrubs" fix. To learn more about the staff at Sacred Heart Hospital, visit here:

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: First off, my apologies. CBS listed a new episode for "NCIS" last night, but re-ran the season premiere.

So, be forewarned that tonight's episodes of "Criminal Minds" (CBS, 9 p.m.) and "CSI: NY" (CBS, 10 p.m.) are also supposed to be new. We'll see.

The finale of "Journeyman" (NBC, 10 p.m.), a complex and clever series that never found an audience, airs tonight. The producers have promised to wrap up at least most of the questions surrounding Dan Vasser's (Kevin McKidd) time travel. That's something, at least, though I would have liked to have seen more of this show. It follows "Clash of the Choirs" at 8 p.m.

I won't get into "Duel" (ABC, 8 p.m.) too much except to say I was really glad that woman who hates men got booted last night. Her "Oh, I think a woman should win it all, and if it was up to me, it would only be women in those chairs" comments made my sense of schadenfreude work overtime when she proved to be less smart than a lunch lady. Buh-bye.

Finally, the CW is all-new with "Crowned" and "Gossip Girl."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Late Night Shows To Return

NBC is already rolling out the ads promoting the return of "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno and "Late Night" with Conan O'Brien, scheduled (right now) for Jan. 2.

Both shows had been pulled for the WGA strike, but both are set to return -- without writers. What's another name for a late-night comedy show without comedy writers? Usually, it's train wreck.

This is actually a good thing for the writers, since late-night shows without jokes for the hosts are going to wear thin real quick for viewers, and ratings are likely going to drop fast, putting more pressure on the studios to return to the bargaining table.

Meanwhile, "The Late Show With David Letterman" is negotiating individually its own deal with the WGA through Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants. Once a deal is struck, "The Late Show" would return with a full writing staff. Again, with individual deals being struck, it would again force the studios as a whole to return to the negotiations, something they have refused to do for nearly two weeks now in a gamble to try to break the union.

And once Letterman does return, he's one of the most vocal pro-union guys anyway, so it would give the writers a great forum on the air to plead their side of the strike.

AROUND THE DIAL: Some people have been asking, when will the lone filmed-but-unaired episode of "Desperate Housewives" actually return? According to, Jan. 6. This is the follow-up to the cliffhanger about the tornado that hit Wisteria Lane. If you don't want to find out who lives and dies before the episode, then DON'T go to TVGuide's Web site, because spoilers are posted. ...

Not a TV item, but the new, frakkin' awesome trailer for "The Dark Knight" is posted here: I can't believe I've got to wait another seven months for this movie! ...

MONDAY RECAP: So, I checked out "Duel" last night on ABC. Not bad, not great. Mike Greenberg was solid as a host, but enough with the freaking commercials already. It's as bad as "Deal or No Deal," where they try to make every big moment a cliffhanger by inserting another commercial. Even the contestants last night were exasperated, which was actually pretty amusing. Meanwhile, the contestants themselves seemed to be an annoying group of wankers, with the exception of the girl who is leading right now. She seems OK. The questions themselves haven't proven too difficult, either. You can check it out again tonight at 8 p.m.

Meanwhile, "Journeyman" continues to show great flashes of brilliance, which makes it a shame that Wednesday's episode is the series finale. However, producers have said they anticipated this might be the end, so expect several questions about Dan's (Kevin McKidd) time-traveling to be wrapped up.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: The networks continue to horde new episodes like squirrels with chestnuts, offering them slowly and reluctantly. But CBS is all-new tonight, with "NCIS" leading things off, followed by "The Unit" and "Cane."

"Duel" is followed by new installments of "According to Jim" (ABC, 9:30 p.m.) and "Boston Legal" (ABC, 10 p.m.)

NBC is all-reality tonight, continuing with "Clash of the Choirs" at 8 p.m. and followed by "The Biggest Loser" season finale at 9 p.m. Fear not, "Loser" fans; NBC is returning with "The Biggest Loser: Couples Edition" in January.

Finally, cable puts out some interesting offerings, with a new episode of "Nip/Tuck" (FX, 10 p.m.) But the pick of the night is the insanely clever "Life On Mars" (BBC America, 9 p.m.)

Monday, December 17, 2007

'Clash' vs. "Duel'

With the writers' strike going on, it's hard to tell if some of the programming choices made by the networks would have been made if there had been made if there had been no strike.

Witness tonight, which sees the debut of two new reality game shows that will be airing all week. ABC kicks off "Duel" at 8 p.m., in which sportscaster Mike Greenberg of ESPN's "Mike & Mike" fame serves as host as a group of trivia contestants face off against each other in an NCAA-style bracket for a $1.5 million prize.

NBC counters with "Clash of the Choirs" (NBC, 8 p.m.), in which five choirs, under the tutelage of professional singers, compete in an "American Idol" type format. (Though, would you want to be the judge that disses a choir? I'm sure there's a circle of Hell for people like that!)

Of the two, "Duel" sounds a bit more promising, especially for a trivia nut like me. The problem with a lot of primetime game shows is that the trivia is often not very challenging and the networks overuse the shows. ABC itself did this with "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" a few years ago, showing it so often that people burned out with it.

For me, I'm hoping we have scripted television back soon enough.

WGA UPDATE: Speaking of the writers, the WGA has announced that it will start negotiating with individual studios and production companies, since the conglomerate of studios walked away from the bargaining table over a week ago and refuses to come back. Though there are several hundred production companies to deal with, at least one, David Letterman's "Worldwide Pants" has announced it will eagerly begin negotiating. Hopefully, this tactic will help jumpstart negotiations in general.

'LOST' RETURNS: ABC will give me a slightly belated birthday present (because, yes, it's all about me) when "Lost" returns to the schedule Jan. 31, switching to Thursday nights in February and airing in the "Grey's Anatomy" slot of 9 p.m. Since ABC has obviously been successful in this time slot, it's a good deal for "Lost" fans, especially since it likely won't be going against any new episodes of CBS' "CSI."

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: Pick a new game show, because most of the rest of the offerings tonight are reruns.

Two notable exceptions are "K-Ville," (Fox, 9 p.m.) and "Journeyman" (NBC, 10 p.m.), both of which are likely gone for good whenever the writers do return. "Journeyman" fans will at least get a bonus episode this Wednesday at 10 p.m. Also new is "Notes From The Underbelly" (ABC, 9:30 p.m.), followed by a new "October Road" at 10 p.m. Also new is "CSI:Miami" (CBS, 10 p.m.)

Also of some interest might be "Antiques Roadshow" (PBS, 8 p.m.) which airs three episodes in a row from Savannah.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Cable Dilemma

Curse you, quality pay TV!

As evidenced by the love the Golden Globes showed networks like HBO and Showtime (a little too much love, in some cases) when the list of nominations were released Thursday, there's some really good stuff on those channels right now.

Which brings us to Sunday night.

Do I want to watch the season finale of "Dexter," (Showtime, 9 p.m.) which looks to conclude its fantastic Bay Harbor Butcher arc?

Or, do I want to watch the series finale of one of the most underrated comedies on TV, "Extras?" (HBO, 9 p.m.)

"Dexter" has been riveting this season, as the titular anti-hero (Michael C. Hall) feels the noose of the FBI tightening around his neck as he must comes to terms with what his life as a serial killer of bad people will mean to everyone else in his life. All the while, he must deal with his prisoner, Sgt. Doakes, who knows his secret, and his crazy ex-girlfriend Lila (Jaime Murray of "Hustle"). One of the best things about "Dexter" is that you definitely don't see the various plot twists when they pop up.

Meanwhile, series creators Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant have created a finale to "Extras" after two short seasons of the show, much the same way they did for the original version of "The Office" when it ran in the UK.

Andy (Gervais), a career background artist, must come to terms with the success of his TV sitcom which has been bastardized by the network, altering his vision of the show. While the regulars on the show - Gervais, his best friend Maggie (Ashley Jensen of "Ugly Betty") and his awful agent (Merchant) - have been terrific, what makes "Extras" truly brilliant are the cameos of real-life major stars and how they parody themselves, whether it's Ben Stiller quoting his own box office numbers or an overly self-involved Orlando Bloom, who can't figure out why Maggie is the one woman in the world who doesn't find him attractive.

The series finale includes appearances by Clive Owen, Gordon Ramsay, David Tennant and George Michael as themselves.

Since I can't tape one while I watch the other, I'll have to see which show airs its rerun first. But what a choice.

CASTING NEWS: A couple of interesting casting bits came over the wires, if the TV industry ever resumes.

Nana Visitor (Star Trek: Deep Space 9) will appear on the fourth season of "Battlestar Galactica" as a character with ties to Pres. Laura Roslin (Mary McDonell).

And the new voice of KITT in the upcoming "Knight Rider" TV movie? None other than Will Arnett of "Arrested Development," taking over for William Daniels from the original series. I have to say that if they let Arnett be his truly sarcastic self, "Knight Rider" may actually be worth watching. Also confirmed for the movie is original series star David Hasselhoff, reprising his role as Michael Knight.

STRIKE UPDATE: In a good news/bad news type of update, the WGA has filed a grievance with the National Labor Relations Board over the studios' walking away from the negotiating table.

It's bad news in that it shows the writers and studios are no closer to an agreement, but it might be good news in that hopefully the NLRB may force the studios back to the table. The studios offered a take-it-or-leave-it proposal to the union last week, then walked away from the table before the WGA even had a chance to make a counter-offer. The original offer? $200 residuals per year per episode of any TV show put online, which amounts to a slap in the face. Stay tuned.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: Ah, the last few gasps of newness before 2008 comes.

One of my many complaints about "Moonlight" (CBS, 9 p.m.) is the almost-criminal underuse of Jason Dohring as Josef, Mick's (Alex O'Loughlin) vampire mentor. But tonight's episode is pretty Josef-centric, so that could be a good thing. It follows a new "Ghost Whisperer" (hey, guys, lay off Jennifer Love-Hewitt) and precedes a new "Numb3rs."

Meanwhile, "Men In Trees" (ABC, 8 p.m.) is also new.

On the sports side, if you don't want to drive all the way to Waycross (and I can't see why you wouldn't), you can catch the GHSA Class AAAA finals of Northside vs. Ware County tonight (GPTV, 7:30 p.m.)

On Sunday, "The Simpsons" (Fox, 8 p.m.) parodies one of my all-time favorite movies, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."

For reasons passing understanding, CBS has decided to make the "Survivor" finale a three-hour affair. Me? I'll be watching pay cable, thank you very much.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Golden Globes List

Nominees for the 65th Golden Globes were announced this morning. Since I'm sure our Reel Fanatic will do something on the movie picks, here are the TV ones:

Series, Drama: ‘‘Big Love,’’ HBO; ‘‘Damages,’’ FX Networks; ‘‘Grey’s Anatomy,’’ ABC; ‘‘House,’’ Fox; ‘‘Mad Men,’’ AMC; ‘‘The Tudors,’’ Showtime.

Actress, Drama: Patricia Arquette, ‘‘Medium’’; Glenn Close, ‘‘Damages’’; Minnie Driver, ‘‘The Riches’’; Edie Falco, ‘‘The Sopranos’’; Sally Field, ‘‘Brothers & Sisters’’; Holly Hunter, ‘‘Saving Grace’’; Kyra Sedgwick, ‘‘The Closer.’’

Actor, Drama: Michael C. Hall, ‘‘Dexter’’; Jon Hamm, ‘‘Mad Men’’; Hugh Laurie, ‘‘House’’; Jonathan Rhys Meyers, ‘‘The Tudors’’; Bill Paxton, ‘‘Big Love.’’

Series, Musical or Comedy: ‘‘30 Rock,’’ NBC; ‘‘Californication,’’ Showtime; ‘‘Entourage,’’ HBO; ‘‘Extras,’’ HBO; ‘‘Pushing Daisies,’’ ABC.

Actress, Musical or Comedy: Christina Applegate, ‘‘Samantha Who?’’; America Ferrera, ‘‘Ugly Betty’’; Tina Fey, ‘‘30 Rock’’; Anna Friel, ‘‘Pushing Daisies’’; Mary-Louise Parker, ‘‘Weeds.’’

Actor, Musical or Comedy: Alec Baldwin, ‘‘30 Rock’’; Steve Carell, ‘‘The Office’’; David Duchovny, ‘‘Californication’’; Ricky Gervais, ‘‘Extras’’; Lee Pace, ‘‘Pushing Daisies.’’

Miniseries or Movie: ‘‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,’’ HBO; ‘‘The Company,’’ TNT; ‘‘Five Days,’’ HBO; ‘‘Longford,’’ HBO; ‘‘The State Within,’’ BBC America.

Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Bryce Dallas Howard, ‘‘As You Like It’’; Debra Messing, ‘‘The Starter Wife’’; Queen Latifah, ‘‘Life Support’’; Sissy Spacek, ‘‘Pictures of Hollis Woods’’; Ruth Wilson, ‘‘Jane Eyre (Masterpiece Theatre).’’

Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Adam Beach, ‘‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee’’; Ernest Borgnine, ‘‘A Grandpa for Christmas’’; Jim Broadbent, ‘‘Longford’’; Jason Isaacs, ‘‘The State Within’’; James Nesbitt, ‘‘Jekyll.’’

Supporting Actress, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Rose Byrne, ‘‘Damages’’; Rachel Griffiths, ‘‘Brothers & Sisters’’; Katherine Heigl, ‘‘Grey’s Anatomy’’; Samantha Morton, ‘‘Longford’’; Anna Paquin, ‘‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee’’; Jaime Pressly, ‘‘My Name Is Earl.’’

Supporting Actor, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Ted Danson, ‘‘Damages’’; Kevin Dillon, ‘‘Entourage’’; Jeremy Piven, ‘‘Entourage’’; Andy Serkis, ‘‘Longford’’; William Shatner, ‘‘Boston Legal’’; Donald Sutherland, ‘‘Dirty Sexy Money.’’

One thing that has always bothered me about the Golden Globes has been the way they lump together actors from TV movies/miniseries with those of regular TV series in the supporting categories. How can you compare Anna Paquin's work in "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" for example with that of Jaime Pressly in "My Name Is Earl?" Talk about your apples and oranges.

Yet the Golden Globes are also the awards that get it right when it comes to movies, separating dramas and comedies into separate categories. There's really no rhyme or reason to it.

Anyway, looking at the list, here are few names that struck me:

--It was good to see the love for "Pushing Daisies," getting noms for Best Comedy Series, Best Actor (Lee Pace) and Best Actress (Anna Friel). I would have loved for Chi McBride and Kristin Chenowith to have gotten nods as well, but three nominations for a series still in its first year is pretty good. (Any series that can work in the phrase, "homeopathic drug mule," into the narrative deserves a nomination). And I have no doubt Digby the dog would have been a clear cut winner were animals eligible.

--Also rewarded for excellence was the fantastic "Mad Men," up for Best Drama and Best Actor (Jon Hamm, with the year's breakthrough performance).

--"Dexter" didn't get a nom for Best Series, losing out to other cable fare such as "The Tudors" and "Big Love," but at least Michael C. Hall got a deserved nomination. (Are you paying attention, Emmys?)

--Sometimes, the Golden Globes try to be a bit too hip, giving a nomination to David Duchovny for "Californication." Duchovny is a fine actor, but "Californication" is an absolute joke. There were plenty of others more deserving. "Curb Your Enthusiasm," for example.

Still, the GGs do a better job than the Emmys in spreading around the nominations and at least taking a look at series not on regular networks and which are fairly new. That said, the GGs did nominate Patricia Arquette in Best Actress for "Medium," yet not a single entry in any category for "Battlestar Galactica."

(Of course, if I picked all the awards, they'd be perfect and I'd never get to complain, and where would the fun be then?)

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: One show that is remarkably consistent in its quality but will never get nominated for anything is "Supernatural" (CW, 9 p.m.) In tonight's all-new episode, Dean prepares for what might be his last Christmas by tracking an evil St. Nick who yanks his victims up the chimneys. It follows an all-new "Smallville" (CW, 8 p.m.)

"Survivor" (CBS, 8 p.m.) leads up to its big, three-hour finale on Sunday with a new episode tonight. Didn't CBS learn already that no one wants three-hour finales to reality shows? It's followed by new episodes of "CSI" at 9 p.m. and "Without A Trace" at 10 p.m.

Finally, "30 Rock" (NBC, 9 p.m.) is also new with a Christmas-themed episode.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Yet More Quick Hits

I'm off today, but still updating...

It looks as if "Journeyman" is pretty much toast after NBC failed to pick up its option on the show. The network will burn off the remaining couple of episodes, so hopefully, we may get a bit of resolution.

It's probably too late to do any good, but you can go to to see the online effort to save the show. ...

"High School Musical 2" broke so many records when it aired over the summer that Disney has decided to make "High School Musical 3" for the theatres. Fear not, I'm sure the network will also show it on the small screen as well...

Despite the writers' strike and all, ABC has decided that "Big Shots" is so bad that it has yanked the series despite having three new episodes on the shelves. If only ABC could have figured that out over the summer. ...

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: The only really good thing to watch tonight is "Pushing Daisies" (ABC, 8 p.m.) It's followed by the pilot episodes of "Private Practice" and "Dirty Sexy Money," so now is your chance to catch up.

CBS is all-new with "Kids Nation," "Criminal Minds" and "CSI:NY."

Finally, I suppose I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the debut of "Crowned: The Mother of All Pageants" (CW, 9 p.m.), in which moms and daughters compete in a reality-show beauty contest. Writers, please return soon!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Time Travel, Part 2: Returning To 'Mars'

When it first debuted on this side of the pond over the summer, I hailed "Life On Mars" as TV's coolest new show.

Little has been said or done for me to change my opinion.

The series returns tonight for its second and final season on BBC America beginning with two episodes at 8 and 9 p.m.

Manchester cop Sam Tyler (John Simm) is a modern cop in 2006, using the latest in state-of-the-art technology and methods to catch bad guys. But a car accident has left Sam as a cop in 1973, where crime-solving is usually accomplished by one's fists.

Sam now finds himself the junior partner alongside Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister), about as old school as you can get. Sam must adjust to life in 1973, full of its sexist and politically incorrect ideals, while trying to introduce a modern sensibility as he clashes with Hunt.

But the larger question is, has Sam actually traveled in time, and if so, how can he get back? Or is Sam in a coma, and everything is just a dream? Or, maybe, Sam has gone crazy.

"Life On Mars" boasts great humor in the chemistry between Sam and Hunt, in addition to the nostalgia of cop shows of a bygone era. (It also has one of the coolest soundtracks of any show on TV).

"Life On Mars" has already ended in the UK, which tends to end its shows while there is still plenty of life in them, unlike US shows, which tend to drag on. But worry not: A spinoff of sorts called "Ashes To Ashes," featuring a slightly older Gene Hunt partnered with a woman (Keeley Hawes of "MI-5") in 1980s Margaret Thatcher England, is already in production.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: The remaining few new episodes of dramatic programs continue to sputter out.

"Cane" (CBS, 9 p.m.) moves along with back-to-back episodes tonight. It will battle the mighty ABC lineup of "According to Jim" (ABC, 9 p.m.) and "Boston Legal" at 10 p.m.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Time Travel, Part 1: A 'Journey' Worth Taking

I'm writing about "Journeyman" (NBC, 10 p.m.) one more time, imploring TV viewers to give one of the most imaginative hours of the week another chance.

When I first reviewed the pilot earlier this year, I thought "Journeyman" to be a solid, if confusing, effort, kind of a mix of "Quantum Leap" and "Tru Calling," among others. But I also said much of the confusion was a deliberate effort of the producers, who wanted to show the disorientation of the lead character, Dan Vassar (Kevin McKidd).

But "Journeyman" has come into its own over recent weeks, carving out its own mythology by establishing a season-long arc as Dan continues to bounce around other people's lives, only to have his trips to the past affect his own life in the present in unforseen ways. And, unlike other shows about time travel, people within Dan's circle such as his wife and son, and now, his brother, are in on the secret, creating some strong subplots as they must deal with Dan's sudden disappearances.

Unfortunately, "Journeyman" is among the weakest ratings-wise of NBC's new shows, and even a network like NBC, which is usually pretty good about giving shows a shot at establishing themselves, may not stick with "Journeyman" too much longer. There are new episodes tonight and next week, but after that, the future is cloudy, especially with the writers' strike.

NBC gave "Life" a shot at the post-"Heroes" timeslot last Monday, and with the disappointment both creatively and in the ratings for "Bionic Woman," I'm wondering if NBC isn't re-thinking its strategy on Wednesday nights, with both "Bionic" and "Journeyman" not making the cut. ("Life" and fellow freshman "Chuck," both excellent series themselves, are safe, having received full-season orders.)

I'm curious to see which direction the writers will take "Journeyman" (once they get back to work), but I'm worried I won't get the chance. You can watch episodes of "Journeyman" online to catch up with the series, and now is a perfect time as most of the network offerings are in rerun mode.

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: I've got to say, with a writers' strike and this late into December, there are a surprising amount of new, dramatic offerings still going on this week.

After ABC airs another "Peanuts" special (which have been doing nicely in the ratings) with "I Want A Dog For Christmas, Charlie Brown," (ABC, 8 p.m.), the network airs new episodes of "Samantha Who?" "Notes From The Underbelly" and "October Road."

A new "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS, 8 p.m.) is the perfect Hanukkah gift for me. After reruns of the other CBS comedies, "CSI: Miami" (CBS, 10 p.m.) is also new.

Another Hanukkah gift: A new "Aliens In America" (CW, 8:30 p.m.), one of the best freshman shows this season, anchoring an all-new CW night that includes new installments of "Everybody Hates Chris," "Girlfriends" and "The Game."

Finally, one of the bigger disappointments, both creatively and in the ratings, "K-Ville" (Fox, 9 p.m.) is all-new, following a "House" rerun.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Holiday Specials

One of the good things about cable programming is that new episodes of various series seem to pop up all the time when you least expect it.

Of course, from a ratings standpoint, it may not be the best thing for networks to suddenly unleash a Christmas episode when the show in question has been off for a few months and isn't scheduled to return for a few months hence.

So consider yourselves alerted to two all-new, Christmas-themed episodes of "Monk" (USA, 9 p.m.) and "Psych" (USA, 10 p.m.) And coming next week are a holiday-themed special from "The Closer" and four new episodes of the summer hit "Saving Grace," both on TNT.

On "Monk," a department store Santa is murdered. (By the way, that must be the worst job in the world considering how many TV series have Christmas-themed episodes about investigating the murder of a department store Santa), while on "Psych," a visit to Gus' (Dule Hill) parents leads to his dad (Ernie Hudson) being the prime suspect in a murder.

Meanwhile, TV viewers starved for new episodes may be getting some good news as recent talks between the Writers Guild and the studios have led to some progress. If a settlement is reached soon, most production schedules wouldn't be too terribly affected, so we could see new episodes of returning series by mid- to late-January. (That's assuming a contract does get signed. Positive talks and a signed deal are two very different things).

The networks themselves are in decent shape for new dramatic stuff, ironically because networks these days are so impatient with new shows finding footing that they keep a lot of shows on the shelf on standby when they yank the new show. So, CBS has things like "New Adventures of Old Christine" and NBC has "Medium" and so forth all ready to go. In addition, the networks have also delayed a lot of new series for winter launches anyway, so a lot of series will make their debuts over the next month or so, regardless of the strike.

And the strike is good news for quality shows that are still trying to find an audience, like NBC's "Life" and "Chuck," for example, both of which were renewed for full season orders despite middling ratings. Not only will those shows stick around for this year, but have a good chance for renewal because production orders for new pilots have been delayed by the strike. So it's easier for the networks to renew a show that already has a cast, crew and sets in place.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: Landry confesses his crime to the cops on "Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 9 p.m.) Frankly, I'm not sure how the writers will keep Landry out of jail, which is a shame, because I like Jesse Plemons' character and would rather seem him in high school than in prison. It's followed by a new "Las Vegas" at 10 p.m.

"Men In Trees" (ABC, 8 p.m.) and "Women's Murder Club" (ABC, 9 p.m.) are also new.

The negative aspect to the strike is the addition of more reality shows to the schedule, including TV specials like tonight's "Movies Rock," (CBS, 9 p.m.), where top musicians perform famous movie songs. God, I hope this came about as filler material because of the strike and wasn't meant as an original special, because that would mean the networks really are running out of good ideas.

If you missed "Torchwood" the first time around, you can catch the rerunning of the series on Saturday at 8 p.m on BBC America.

If you missed the miniseries "Tin Man" the first time around, Sci-Fi is running all three parts in a marathon beginning Sunday at 9 p.m.

Also new on Sunday is CBS' lineup of "The Amazing Race," "Cold Case" and "Shark."

Oprah Winfrey and Mitch Albom present a TV-movie version of Albom's book, "One More Day" (ABC, Sun., 9 p.m.), about a suicidal ex-ballplayer (Michael Imperioli) who looks back at his life with the ghost of his late mother (Ellen Burstyn).

Finally, "Dexter" (Showtime, Sun., 9 p.m.) airs its penultimate second-season episode.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Still More Quick Hits

Busy day, so just some quick stuff:

--"24" star Kiefer Sutherland entered jail in Los Angeles County Wednesday, beginning a 48-day sentence for DUI. Sutherland will get his own cell while there. (Hey, would you want to be a criminal incarcerated with Jack Bauer?) Thi shouldn't affect "24's" production schedule, since no one in Hollywood is shooting anything right now.

--Billy Connolly, Xzibit and the lovely and talented Amanda Peet have been added to the cast of the new "X-Files" film, showing a diversity in casting, if nothing else. No word on what their roles will be.

--Academy Award-winning director William Friedkin ("The French Connection," "The Exorcist") directs tonight's new installment of "CSI" (CBS, 9 p.m.)

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: Most of the fall shows are pretty much wrapping up this week if they haven't already, so enjoy the new episodes while you can.

"Ugly Betty" (ABC, 8 p.m.) returns Freddy Rodriguez as a possible boyfriend for Betty, while "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, 9 p.m.) wraps up a two-parter. They are followed by a new Barbara Walters Special, "The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2007." (I'll save you some time, the TVGuy didn't make the list.)

A new "Survivor" precedes "CSI," while "Without A Trace" (CBS, 10 p.m.) follows it.

With the exception of "The Office," all of NBC's lineup is new, with "My Name Is Earl," "30 Rock" and "Scrubs" leading up to the 300th episode of "ER" (NBC, 10 p.m.) Wow, it seemed scant years ago when this series just turned 200. Well done, County General.

Finally, while I rarely promote reruns, tonight's second-run "Supernatural" (CW, 9 p.m.) is one of the best of the entire series, as Dean meets a kid who may or may not be his son. It follows a rerun of "Smallville" at 8 p.m.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Julia Roberts Tribute Hour

In these days of awards specials and what-not, AMC is running a "Julia Roberts Tribute" tonight at 8 p.m. It's basically an hour of Roberts' former co-stars showering her with praise, followed by a trophy of some sort, I bet.

I've never really understood the appeal of these type of shows, but then, I've never really understood the appeal of Julia Roberts, either.

Is she a good actress? Sure. But Hollywood makes her out to be the second coming of Katharine Hepburn or something.

I find many of Roberts' films to be formulaic: Out-of-place, but sassy Julia enters a scene where she shouldn't fit in, but through sheer charm and smiling, following an impassioned speech or two, wins over those who won't accept her.

But obviously I'm in the minority, since Roberts is the highest-paid actress in Hollywood and gets her own tribute show on AMC. So enjoy.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: The second-part of a two-part "Life" (NBC, 10 p.m.) airs in its normal timeslot. If you missed Part 1 on Monday, you should still be able to follow what's going on as Charlie learns the identity of the man who committed the crime he was framed for.

"Private Practice" (ABC, 9 p.m.) and "Dirty Sexy Money" (ABC, 10 p.m.) are also new, as is "Gossip Girl" (CW, 9 p.m.)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Damn You, Tim Kring!

Some major spoilers here if you didn't watch last night's "Heroes."

Still here? Good.


OK, I enjoyed how Kring & Co. managed to wrap things up pretty neatly considering all the divergent storylines. The early battle with Hiro vs. Peter played out very well, with Hiro finally mixing his powers with his swordplay (you might argue that the Season 1 finale battle would have been much better if they had Hiro doing that against Sylar.)

I could see Nathan's fate coming a mile away (even if Nathan couldn't), but explain to me how an assassin gets multiple shots off with two telepaths in the same room with him. Hopefully, we haven't seen the last of him or Nikki, though explaining how the two manage to survive without a Claire blood transfusion will be pretty tricky.

But no, where Kring & Co. drove me crazy was when Sylar shot and killed Maya. I actually cheered as they bumped off one of the most annoying and useless characters on TV. But then what happens? All is right with the world when suddenly Mohinder brings her back to life with Claire's blood. Are you frakkin' kidding?

How can you tease us like this, Kring? Maya was dead, expired, finished, kaput! Now we're going to be stuck with her whining and plague carrying for the last half of the season, whenever it airs.

I did enjoy seeing he re-powered Sylar at the end, and I always like how Kring always starts the newest chapter at the tail end of the old one, giving us the briefest hint of what's to come.

But there are a lot of questions still to be answered. How can HRG possibly work with The Company again, when there is no trust left between them? Whose side is Elle on these days? What happened to Peter's Irish girlfriend - did he leave her in the future? Will Copycat Girl download a bunch of Criss Angel Mindfreak videos next time around, so she isn't tied up the next time she bungles a job? Have we seen the last of Adam?

After a slow start, "Heroes" rebounded with a strong second half, and I'm eager to find out what's next.

But the next time you kill off Maya, Kring, make sure she stays dead. Please.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: I have to think the "Victoria's Secret Fashion Show" (CBS, 10 p.m.) is a fairly easy programming choice, especially during these strike-filled days. Beautiful women in lingerie. It kind of sells itself, don't you think? Anyway, the fashion show has been around in previous incarnations, so this bit of programming wasn't due to the strike. But something tells me if the strike continues to last, we may see future incarnations sooner than you think.

Not a whole lot else going on. "The Biggest Loser" (NBC, 8 p.m.) sends the remaining contestants to work in a pizzaria, continuing with what I consider to be cruel plotlines in a show that touted itself in being helpful to the overweight. But I guess that kind of show makes for dull reality TV. It's followed by a new "Law & Order: SVU" at 10 p.m.

"Reaper" (CW, 9 p.m.) is coming off a strong episode last week which included Melinda Clarke as the Devil's girlfriend; now, her daughter may be Sam's new squeeze. But is she the Devil's daughter as well?

Part 3 of "Tin Man" (Sci-Fi, 9 p.m.) wraps up the miniseries tonight. If you missed it, don't worry: Sci-Fi is running a marathon of all three parts this Saturday.

Finally, "Boston Legal" (ABC, 10 p.m.) is also new.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sugar Ain't So Sweet

It used to be that a trip to the Sugar Bowl meant that Georgia had a successful year.

And while a 10-2 record, a BCS ranking and a trip to New Orleans this January are nothing to sneeze at, going to the Sugar Bowl this year serves as a reminder as to just how flawed this BCS system is.

Of course, as a UGA grad, I'm biased toward Georgia and I'm disappointed that the Dogs didn't move up in the BCS poll after two teams ahead of them, West Virginia and Missouri, both lost over the weekend. By simple logic, Georgia should have advanced up two places from No. 4 to No. 2, just as Ohio State did to move into the No. 1 spot.

But in this impure and idiotic system, LSU moved to the No. 2 spot instead, and Georgia fell to No. 5 despite having not played over the weekend.

This isn't meant as a slight to LSU, which deserves a shot at the title as SEC champion. My complaint is why have the BCS rankings in the first place if they are just going to be arbitrarily changed.

It's time for college football to wake up and join the rest of the NCAA team sports in a playoff system. Ohio State, Georgia, LSU, USC, Hawaii, Oklahoma and others all have legitimate claims to being in the title game, and an eight-team playoff system makes perfect sense.

The BCS games don't kick off for another month. An eight-team playoff system would not only fit in nicely over the next few weekends in December, considering there's nothing else going on during the month, would actually be a ratings winner a' la the NCAA basketball tournament. Instead of meaningless games being televised like the Humanitarian Bowl - pretty much of interest only to the two teams playing in it - fans would be able to watch games with meaning and significance.

That doesn't mean kill off the small bowls. You can keep those games around for all those 7-4 schools that don't qualify for the BCS playoffs.

But what it would mean is that a playoff system would allow one school to say it is the legitimate No. 1 team in the country. By keeping this flawed system, whichever team wins the matchup between LSU and Ohio State may claim to be the champion, but it will be a tainted and disputed title.

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: Enjoy the first-run episodes while you can. They are pretty much drying up after this week. This isn't really related to the writers' strike: after all, with the holiday season upon us, the networks would pretty much be heading into reruns right now anyway. What the WGA strike means is that come January, the new episodes we are waiting for won't be ready.

Already, the herd of new episodes has been culled, as most of the stuff tonight are reruns, with the notable exception of NBC.

The ever-improving "Chuck" (NBC, 8 p.m.) leads things off, followed by the half-season finale of "Heroes" at 9 p.m. "Life" is getting a Monday tryout at 10 p.m., possibly because of "Journeyman's" low ratings. "Life" is Part 1 of a two-parter that concludes in the show's normal Wednesday timeslot. "Journeyman" returns with a new episode in its normal timeslot next week.

"K-Ville" (Fox, 9 p.m.) winds down, while "Samantha Who?" (ABC, 9 p.m.) and "Notes From The Underbelly" (ABC, 9:30 p.m.) are also new and are followed by a new "October Road."

If you missed Part 1 of "Tin Man," a modern twist to "The Wizard of Oz," fear not. Sci-Fi is rerunning Part 1 tonight at 7 p.m., followed by the debut of Part 2 at 9 p.m.