Friday, February 29, 2008

Oprah's Big Give

The latest in reality fare hits the small tube Sunday with "Oprah's Big Give" (ABC, 8 p.m.) The queen of all media gives a group of people money to do good works. At the end of the run, the one who does the most good wins a prize of his or her own.

Anything with Oprah's name attached is a sure-fire ratings grabber, so expect this one to be a mainstay for a while.

SCRUBS UPDATE: OK, maybe not so much an update.'s Michael Ausiello is reporting that ABC is in serious talks to air an 18-episode season next year when NBC gives up the rights to the show. It's a rumor already denied by NBC, which has five episodes left in the can and has been negotiating with show creator Bill Lawrence about a four-episode deal to wrap up the series.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: Absolutely nothing tonight that isn't reality or a rerun, so enjoy your Friday night out on the town.

Saturday brings a new episode of "Torchwood" (BBC America, 9 p.m.)

On Sunday, my favorite new sitcom this season, "Aliens In America" (CW, 8:30 p.m.) returns, following a new episode of "Everybody Hates Chris."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

News & Notes

Well, I wasn't the only person who flat out hated NBC's "Quarterlife."

In addition to most of the major TV critics in the country also giving it a negative review, the viewers apparently listened to us. "Quarterlife" had the lowest ratings in that timeslot for NBC in nearly two decades, capturing about a third of "Law & Order's" audience.

"Quarterlife finished with a 1.3 rating - about 3.1 million viewers - in the 18-49 demographic.

NBC is sticking with the show at least one more week, and possibly more when it moves to its regular Sunday timeslot. If anybody cares.

AROUND THE DIAL: In a good news/bad news type of deal, "Dexter" showrunner Daniel Cerone is leaving the Showtime hit. But at least he is joining ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money." ... Gary Cole will join the cast of "Desperate Housewives" as Dana Delany's ex-husband. ...

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: So, what did happen to the helicopter that carried Sayid and Desmond to the boat on "Lost?" (ABC, 9 p.m.) Tonight, we find out in this very Desmond-centric episode. For years, "Lost" fans have speculated about time travel being a part of the island's mystery, and there may be an element of that with the helicopter. It's followed by a new episode of the charming "Eli Stone" at 10 p.m.

"American Idol" (Fox, 8 p.m.) votes off another contestant, while on "Celebrity Apprentice" (NBC, 9 p.m.), Donald Trump merely fires them. That show is followed by a new "Lipstick Jungle" at 10 p.m.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

DVD Pick: Justice League - New Frontier

One of the best graphic novels of the past decade was writer/illustrator Darwyn Cooke's "Justice League: New Frontier," which re-imagined the classic superheroes during the 1950s-60s era - the beginning of the Silver Age of comics.

Notable for its distinctive, retro-style artwork, the miniseries introduced several familiar characters - Green Lantern, Flash, Martian Manhunter - through their diverse backgrounds, gradually bringing them together as they encountered an ancient, supernatural entity called The Center.

As great as the novel was, I didn't think it would be possible to recapture it onscreen when I heard Warner Brothers was doing a straight-to-DVD project. But I was wrong - sort of.

I was a big fan of the WB's "Justice League" cartoons, created by the same people who did "Batman: The Animated Series," "Superman," "Batman Beyond," etc. All of them, plus Cooke, are involved with "New Frontier."

The DVD truncates Cooke's graphic novel, streamlining it to a huge degree. On the one hand, it makes the movie more manageable, particularly if you don't have 60-plus years of DC Comics characters committed to memory. On the other hand, some of the flavor of the novel is lost a little bit.

The DVD focuses mainly on two characters: Hal Jordan (David Boreanaz), who eventually becomes Green Lantern, and the Martian Manhunter (Miguel Ferrer), an alien accidently brought to a McCarthy-era Earth where masked heroes like Batman (Jeremy Sisto) and the Flash (Neil Patrick Harris) are not trusted, while unmasked heroes such as Superman (Kyle MacLachlan) and Wonder Woman (Lucy Lawless) work for the government.

Gradually, each of the heroes becomes aware of the threat of the Center (Keith David), which threatens the entire world. The heroes must unite as one force to save the day.

This is not a kids-oriented film, to be sure. People get killed in New Frontier. Some of the language is not what you'd expect in a cartoon.

But the story, as voiced by an exceptional cast, is extremely fast-paced. Maybe a little too fast-paced, since I would have liked to have seen some more character development. And non-comic book fans may get lost.

If you do rent "New Frontier," watch the extra that gives a history of the Justice League first. It will give you some good background on a lot of the characters that will help when watching the movie.

With a live-action "Justice League" movie headed to the big screen in 2009, these are characters that will be in the public eye for a long time to come. "New Frontier" is a good way to introduce (or re-introduce) them.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: The Anne Heche dramedy, "Men In Trees" (ABC, 10 p.m.) returns to the air tonight, one of the few new things that aren't reality. It will go opposite a new "Law & Order" (NBC, 10 p.m.)

Of the reality fare, "American Idol" (Fox, 8 p.m.) turns it over to the ladies, once again, while "Project Runway" (Bravo, 10 p.m.) begins Part 1 of its two-part finale.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Quarterlife? Not Even A Quarter Good

There are some people out there who think a series like "Quarterlife" (NBC, 10 p.m.) is the wave of the future. Created by TV icons Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick ("Thirtysomething," "My So-Called Life," "Once & Again") exclusively for the internet, NBC bought the series as filler for the strike.

I was curious to see how this new fad my translate to the small screen.

Boy, did I hate this series. I mean, I hated it quite a lot. Because it was Herskovitz/Zwick, I watched both episodes I was sent to give the show a chance. That's an extra hour of my non-quarter life I won't be getting back.

The show centers on the lives of six extremely good-looking 20-somethings, but this is no "Friends" to be sure, even if it is the same network.

No, these are the six whiniest, self-involved people on TV. Through in trite dialogue that's supposed to be introspective with a little pop psychology and hip music, and you have a show that presents itself as full of substance when in fact it has none.

In tonight's pilot, we follow Dylan (Bitsie Tulloch), a wanna-be writer who starts a video blog called Quarterlife. Within two postings, she manages to absolutely mortify two of her friends, Lisa (Maite Schwartz) and Jed (Scott Michael Foster), yet the writers treat her as if she's done them a favor. But when it comes time to open up about her own inner-most secret, she chickens out.

Other plotlines: Jed is trying to make a commercial for a car dealership with his friends Eric (Mike Faiola) and Danny (David Walton). Eric can't make a commitment to his girlfriend Debra (Michelle Lombardo), whom Jed secretly pines for all while Dylan pines for him. Follow all that? Neither did I, really.

The writers have filled these characters with so much angst to the point where it's very off-putting. You want to scream at the TV, "For God's sake, stop whining already!!!"

Whether you loved or hated "Friends," you got why these people stayed close with each other all those years. They had light moments, serious moments and so on, but the writing and the cast meshed well together. You generally rooted for at least some of the characters.

No such luck with "Quarterlife," which admittedly isn't trying to be "Friends," but is cut from a similar cloth. It takes itself way too seriously when it isn't being downright mean to some of the characters.

By all means, give "Quarterlife" a try if you like, but it may be the most depressing hour on TV right now.

WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS: If you are upset about the announcement that NBC is cancelling "Las Vegas" after its cliffhanger ending, you may be interested in TVGuide's interview with the show's producer here:

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: Unfortunately, there's precious little else new on from a dramatic sense. "Jericho" (CBS, 10 p.m.) is new, though it hasn't come back with a bang ratings-wise, considering the effort to keep it on the air.

"American Idol" (Fox, 8 p.m.) delivers another round of performances by the guys, followed by a new episode of the mediocre comedy "Back To You" at 9:30 p.m.

Finally, a new "One Tree Hill" (CW, 9 p.m.) rounds out the new stuff, pretty much guaranteeing I won't be watching TV tonight.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Post-Oscars Reaction

As movie years go, 2007's crop of hopefuls aren't going to remembered with some of Oscar's best over the years.

I watched last night's broadcast, rushed because of the strike, with some trepidation, especially knowing it was going to be a big night for the awful "No Country For Old Men," and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

Jon Stewart did a very capable job with short prep time, and the pace of the show was fairly brisk, though I found the segments celebrating 80 years of Oscars with past clips to be redundant after a while. At least Michael Moore didn't win, so we were spared a controversial acceptance speech.

A few highlights:

NICEST MOMENT: (Tie) The troops in Iraq presenting an award (Best Short? I'm drawing a blank) and host Jon Stewart bringing back best song winner Marketa Irglova to say a few words after the orchestra cut her off when her partner, Glen Hansard, ran a few seconds long.

MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE: Tilda Swinton. I figured the Academy would go with Ruby Dee in Best Supporting Actress as a sort of lifetime achievement award even though Dee only appeared for about 10 minutes in "American Gangster." The always-terrific Swinton was phenomenal in "Michael Clayton," and it was nice to see her recognized.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Speaking of lifetime achievement awards, I find it remarkable that Hal Holbrook only got his first-ever nomination for "Into The Wild," and having just turned 83, he might not get too many more chances to win. He was much more the supporting actor than Javier Bardem, who was basically the lead in "No Country For Old Men."

BEST PRESENTERS: Jonah Hill and Seth Rogan, and their "I'm Halle Berry" bit. Fortunately, neither of them gave any of the award winners an Adrien Brody-type kiss.

WORST DECISION: The Academy's choice to honor "No Country For Old Men" with four Oscars, including Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay and Supporting Actor. This is one of the most overrated movies in recent memory, and pretty forgettable I thought. It had no ending and the inciting incident to get the ball rolling was one of the most insipid in movie history. I admit I've never read the Cormac McCarthy novella, so I don't know how true it was to the source material, but as a movie, it just plained sucked.

BEST DECISION: Diablo Cody's win for Original Screenplay with "Juno." My gal Diablo (OK, I met her for 30 seconds, but still) has become a rock star among screenwriters.

What were some of your notable Oscar moments?

After the broadcast, I caught some of Jimmy Kimmel. Normally, I'm not a huge Kimmel fan, but this running "feud" with Matt Damon has been hilarious. First, Kimmel's girlfriend Sarah Silverman said they were "breaking up" because she was now with Damon. You can catch the brilliant music video on YouTube. So Kimmel retaliated last night by announcing he was now with Ben Affleck, complete with a "We Are The World" type video with the likes of Harrison Ford, Don Cheadle, Josh Groban, Robin Williams and others. It was insanely funny.

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: The Lorraine Hansberry classic play "A Raisin In the Sun" (ABC, 8 p.m.) has drawn about as much critical praise as anything I've seen this year. The TV movie version reunites the Tony Award-winning cast, including Phylicia Rashad and Audra McDonald, while Sean "Puffy" Combs has met with a lot of success in a role originated by the great Sidney Poitier. The play deals with a struggling black family in the 1950s that suddenly comes into some money from a life insurance policy, then debates how to spend it to improve their lives.

On "Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles," (Fox, 9 p.m.), the good cyborg (Summer Glau) takes a ballet class. I'd like to see Arnold Schwarzeneggar do that. Seriously, I would.

CBS has new episodes of "Welcome To The Captain" at 8:30 p.m. and the terrific "Old Christine" at 9:30 p.m. On NBC, "Medium" is new at 10 p.m.

On cable, both "Kyle XY" and "Wildfire" are new on ABC Family.

Finally, the coolest program of the night may be the season premiere of "Top Gear" (BBC America, 8 p.m.), which has Oscar winner Helen Mirren as its guest driver.

Friday, February 22, 2008

MAGA, Ma-Con, Et. al.

This is one of those uncommon weekends here in Macon, Ga. where there is actually quite a bit to do around town, so with mostly reruns still on, you might want to get out of the house for your entertainment options.

The Macon Film & Video Festival (MAGA) continues tonight through Sunday at the Cox Capitol Theatre. Highlights include "Talladega Nights" tonight, the independent films "Little Chicago" and "Blood Car" on Saturday, and the documentary "Please Call Home: The Big House Documentary" on Sunday. I've been looking forward to "Blood Car" ever since hearing about it at the Austin Film Festival, and it has won a bunch of awards. It's a parody of horror films in which a person begins using blood as fuel in the wake of high gas prices.

That's in addition to hours of independent submissions from filmmakers all over the country. You can also catch the work of Bibb County school students Saturday morning. For a complete listing of events, check out

If that weren't enough, the Museum of Arts & Sciences is hosting "Ma-Con" this Saturday. In conjuction with its exhibit featuring the work of Tony Harris, Ray Snyder and Craig Hamilton - all local artists who work on some of the top comic book titles in the industry - other award winning artists and writers will be in town. There will also be a series of seminars on Saturday:

11 a.m. – Comic Writing
12 p.m. – Comic Penciling
2 p.m. – Comic Inking
3 p.m. – Comic Coloring
4 p.m. – The Art of Ex Machina
5 p.m. – The Art of Southern Comics
10:30 a.m., 1:30, & 5:30 p.m. – Curator Tours of The Art of Macon Comics exhibition

If you haven't caught the exhibit yet, now is a perfect opportunity.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: Of course, if you are on this blog, you probably want to know what there is to watch on TV, especially if you don't live in Macon. Fair enough.

"Monk" (USA, 9 p.m.) wraps up its two-part season finale with Monk (Tony Shalhoub) a fugitive from justice. Don't worry, folks - the show has been renewed for next season.

The new game show "Amnesia" (NBC, 9 p.m.), hosted by Dennis Miller, pits contestants against their own memories as they try to remember the intricate details of their past.

"Torchwood" (BBC America, Sat., 9 p.m.) is all-new as an alien infiltrates the group's HQ. Also, "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, Sat., 11:30 p.m.) returns after the strike with host Tina Fey and musical guest Carrie Underwood.

On Sunday, there's a little thing called the Academy Awards (ABC, Sun., 7 p.m.) Hopefully, you've caught the predictions that the Reel Fanatic, Keith Demko, and I did last week. If not, scroll down for the video.

I'm told I'd be remiss in not mentioning "Masterpiece," which continues its Jane Austen run (PBS, 9 p.m.), while one of the best new shows of 2008, "Breaking Bad" (AMC, 10 p.m.) is also new. You can also continue to catch on "Dexter" (CBS, 10 p.m.) if you don't subscribe to Showtime.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Quick Tidbits

It appears that NBC's high asking price to other networks may be a sticking point to bringing back "Friday Night Lights" for next season.

Variety is reporting that the network has been talking with The CW, E!, G4 and TNT about sharing "FNL," airing it first on one of those networks, then re-airing them on NBC (similar to the arrangement NBC has with its sister network USA for "Law & Order: Criminal Intent.")

Leave it to NBC to try and milk a show for all its nickels even when it is considering cancelling said show. The irony is, despite its small ratings, "FNL" does extremely well with the groups advertisors most covet.

Whatever happens with "FNL," "Bionic Woman" won't be joining it. Though it's not official, insiders say the disappointing NBC action series is kaput.

Meanwhile, "Law & Order" will be back on NBC next season, but Jesse L. Martin won't be. After nine years, he's stepping away from his role as one of the long line of NYC detectives featured. One rumor Variety is floating is that Anthony Anderson is being considered as a replacement, even though Anderson's "K-Ville" has yet to receive an official cancellation from Fox (though it's very likely).

Over at ABC, the network has announced the remainder of its lineup for this season. Both "Ugly Betty" and "Grey's Anatomy" will return for five new episodes apiece, beginning April 24, the same night "Lost" switches to 10 p.m.

"Desperate Housewives" will run five new episodes, plus a two-hour finale, beginning April 13. On April 20, it will be joined on Sundays by the first of four new "Brothers & Sisters." "Samantha Who?" returns April 7 and "Boston Legal" April 8, each for six new episodes. "Pushing Daisies," "Private Practice" and "Dirty Sexy Money" will all be back next season.

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: As if watching "Lost" (ABC, 9 p.m.) isn't reason enough, in of itself, tonight's episode is Kate-centric, reportedly featuring both flashbacks and flash-forwards. Will we learn identity of who Kate is living with in the future? It's followed by a new "Eli Stone" at 10 p.m.

"Supernatural" (CW, 9 p.m.), which paid a brilliant tribute to "Groundhog Day" last week, looks to tackle "Assault On Precinct 13" this week as the boys are trapped in jail as a town has zombies attacking it.

On the so-called reality front, "American Idol" (Fox, 8 p.m.) announces the winners and losers from the first round of voting, Piers Morgan and Lennox Lewis mix it up on "Celebrity Apprentice" (NBC, 9 p.m.) and fans battle favorites on "Survivor" (CBS, 8 p.m.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Grab Your Duct Tape

I was never a fan of "MacGyver" growing up. I don't think I've ever seen one complete episode of the Richard Dean Anderson opus.

The series was about an agent who would foil the bad guys by using whatever was handy - duct tape, string, etc. - to build some ingenious device that would save the day.

One of the best Super Bowl commercials in recent years was Visa's, in which Anderson buys a bunch of knick-knacks with his Visa card, and puts them together to escape the bad guys. The commercial was "priceless."

I bring all this up because I want to catch "Mythbusters" (Disc, 9 p.m.) tonight. The show devotes its whole hour to recreating MacGyver's most ingenious devices and seeing how real they are - if he could have actually used what he supposedly built in real life.

I'm a big fan of documentary style shows that build neat things, and I think the premise of this episode is especially clever. It's not the first time "Mythbusters" has influenced the outlook of a TV series, either. "CSI" took a premise from a previous "Mythbusters" episode about a person being decapitated by a broken truck tire.

RETURNING SHOWS UPDATE: is reporting that word on the street says "Scrubs" might get its final few episodes to wrap up the series in a proper way.

But bad news out of "Friday Night Lights" camp. Taylor Kitsch (Tim Riggins) has been confirmed as Gambit in the new "Wolverine" movie, and the filming looks to coincide to when "FNL" would be shooting its new season, meaning its likely that cast and crew are getting permission to do other projects because the show isn't coming back.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: Last night, you voted for the men. Tonight, it's the 12 women finalists for "American Idol." (Fox, 8 p.m.)

"Cashmere Mafia" (ABC, 10 p.m.) airs a new episode opposite a new "Law & Order" on NBC.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Every Vote Matters

As this country gears up to vote for the next President, it's important to note that most Americans will spend more time over the next few months worrying about their vote for "American Idol" (Fox, 8 p.m.) than the group of Republicans and Democrats left in the political field.

It's not really a criticism of "AI" that so many people are involved in voting as I'm criticizing the average American's lack of interest in the political process. I bring this all up because tonight, people can start voting for their favorite "AI" singers. The 12 male finalists go tonight, followed by the dozen female vocalists on Wednesday.

It will be interesting to see if the voting process comes under the same scrutiny as last year, when Internet bloggers and people with too much free time on their hands deliberately tried to rig the process so that the awful Sanjaya would advance while other, more worthy contenders would get knocked out.

I don't know if there is a Sanjaya in this year's group, but it does beg the question of whether the best singer will win. (I still can't believe as a nation you "AI" voters picked Taylor Hicks over Katharine McPhee. Seriously.)

On the other hand, it's still hard to come up with a better way to do the process. I made the same argument when Fox ran "On The Lot." The most popular singers in this country are the ones that sell the most albums and merchandise, so people throwing their support behind one singer is a fairly apt comparison. After all, most artists measure their success in the number of gold records they have.

So, go out and rock the vote. Just remember to show a little interest when it comes time for, I don't know, the Presidential election.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: Once "AI" begins, other programming seems to go by the wayside. Fortunately, most of the good shows haven't started from their post-strike delays.

NBC will trot out its own stab at so-called reality with "The Biggest Loser" (NBC, 8 p.m.), while ABC burns off "According to Jim," "Carpoolers" and "Boston Legal" beginning at 9 p.m.

The absolute worst reality show of them all, "Big Brother" (CBS, 9 p.m.) is brand-new, followed by a new installment of "Jericho" (CBS, 10 p.m.)

Finally, on cable, "Nip/Tuck" (FX, 10 p.m.) is airing its season finale.

Monday, February 18, 2008

No, Really, My Dad's The Best!

One of the casualties of the WGA strike is the viewer, who has to put up with the likes of "My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad," in which various dads battle it out in an "American Gladiators"-meets-"Fear Factor" type format.

I'm not really sure if the winner will be the best dad in America so much as the one who can withstand the slime and complete all the physical tasks required of him.

It follows a "Deal Or No Deal" in which 13 of the 26 cases are now filled with $1 million. Given that the odds are now 50-50, how can someone not win $1 million?

All I can say is, the return of regular programming can't come soon enough.

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: "Prison Break" (Fox, 8 p.m.) wraps up its third season tonight as the gang tries yet another escape, followed by a new "Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles" at 9 p.m.

"October Road" (ABC, 10 p.m.) is all-new, following a two-hour "Dance War." CBS has new episodes of the awful "Welcome To The Captain," at 8:30 p.m. and the always-entertaining "Old Christine" at 9:30 p.m.

Allison goes deaf on "Medium" (NBC, 10 p.m.) Once again, if she's that good a psychic, wouldn't she see this coming?

On cable, "Kyle XY" and "Wildfire" are both new on ABC Family, beginning at 8 p.m., while Lewis Black hosts a special, "The Greatest Joke Ever Told," (History Channel, 9 p.m.) Hopefully, this isn't the Monty Python joke where everyone dies after hearing it.

Finally, my favorite frontiersman, Kit Carson, is the subject of "American Experience" (PBS, 9 p.m.)

Friday, February 15, 2008

'Dexter' On CBS

You can make a strong argument that Showtime has surpassed HBO in producing quality TV among pay-cable networks, especially with "The Sopranos" no longer on the air.

If you make that argument, "Dexter" would be at the top of the list.

Based upon a series of novels, "Dexter" stars Michael C. Hall as a police lab tech who moonlights as a serial killer. His victims? People in Miami who have committed crimes but somehow skirted the law. Dexter is a one-man judge, jury and executioner, trained by his late adoptive father to channel his latent homicidal instincts into a force for good.

Thanks to the strike, you can catch "Dexter" on network TV, when CBS begins airing the first season of the series Sunday night at 10 p.m.

There's been a little controversy over this, since obviously being on a network, the producers will have to cut out the strong language and nudity, as well as some of the gore that is one of the hallmarks of the series.

Can I recommend a watered-down "Dexter"? Yes. Though I think the series is best-presented in its Showtime format, there is enough great about the series that watching it on CBS won't affect the average viewer.

Hall is fantastic as Dexter, a total opposite to his character on "Six Feet Under." He is Emmy-worthy in his performance. His supporting is solid as well, although many fans of the series wish the whole thing was about Dexter and wouldn't go off into the various subplots.

"Dexter" isn't for the faint of heart, but it's a great mix of storytelling, acting and even humor.



OK, still here? Good.

Man, oh man, assuming the "Lost" producers have every subplot figured out, the ending of this series in a couple of years will be a humdinger, given all the little clues and twists they are leaving for us with the flash forwards.

Sayid (Naveen Andrews) becoming Ben's (Michael Emerson) personal hitman? Didn't see that one coming. And, of course, it begs the question about who the Germans were that Sayid was dispatched to infiltrate.

I can't wait to find out who the final two "Oceanic Six" survivors are.

Meanwhile, the one bad thing about "Lost" is that it's opposite "Supernatural," which might have aired its best episode ever. What could have been a simple ripoff of "Groundhog Day" as Dean (Jensen Ackles) is killed over and over while Sam (Jared Padelecki) is trapped in the same day turned out to be a brilliant mix of humor and pathos. This continues to be TV's most underrated show.

Finally, "Celebrity Apprentice" continues to be bizarrely entertaining, though enough is enough with Omorosa. She was beyond ridiculous last night and should have been booted off the show because of her behavior, no matter which team won.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: NBC, which sends me DVDs for nearly everything it does, did not send me the DVD for the "Knight Rider" TV movie airing Sunday at 9 p.m. So I can't tell you if it's any good or not, but my expectations aren't high. In fact, the one reason why I really wanted to see it - "Arrested Development's" Will Arnett voicing KITT - is gone as Arnett was replaced by Val Kilmer. Justin Bruening takes over the role as the son of Michael Knight, who fights crime in a Mustang supercar. And yes, David Hasselhoff does make an appearance in the movie, which may serve as a pilot if it's successful. It follows the finale of "American Gladiators."

"Monk" (USA, 9 p.m.) begins its two-part season finale as Adrian (Tony Shalhoub) is arrested for the murder of his wife's killer and becomes a fugitive. It's followed by the season finale of "Psych" at 10 p.m.

On Saturday, "Torchwood" (BBC America, 9 p.m.)

And I was remiss last week in forgetting to mention that one of TV's best new shows, "Breaking Bad" (AMC, 10 p.m.) is all-new Sunday.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Oscar Picks

Keith Demko of's Reel Fanatic blog and I have teamed up for our Oscar predictions this year. Last year, we did a podcast, but this year, it's full video.

You can check it out here:

The Oscars will air Feb. 24 on ABC, complete with writers and actors now that the strike is over. Though I rarely watch a full Oscars telecast, I prefer it to the option of three hours of clips from previous shows, which was the plan had the strike continued.

Speaking of the strike, now that it's over, here's an amusing tale. As regular readers of this blog know, I am trying to break into the world of professional screenwriting. My latest work, completed in November, is an animation tale. Since animation wasn't part of the contract that was being disputed between the studios and the writers, I could sell a script (in theory) without being a scab, since I don't qualify as a member of the WGA.

Anyway, as I called around in November after the strike had started, a number of companies said they wouldn't discuss my script until after the strike was over, even though it was technically legal to do so.

Finally, I called the WGA and asked about the status of animated scripts. They acknowledged that it was true, animated scripts weren't covered.

WGA LADY: Let me ask you, are you a member of the guild?
ME: No, ma'am.

WGA LADY: Do you ever want to be?
ME: Of course.

WGA LADY: Then maybe you don't want to try to be selling a script during the strike.

I stopped trying after that, since I didn't want to cross picket lines even though I wasn't a member of the union. Wednesday was the first official day I could start calling production companies about my script once more. Of course, me and the 20,000 members of the WGA, all of whom have TV and movie credits and agents, so the strike ending now really helps me very little. But if I ever do sell anything, then hopefully the concessions the union won will be of great benefit in the future.

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: TVGuide. com is reporting that "Lost" (ABC, 9 p.m.) has proven so successful on Wednesday's that the ABC suits are considering airing the show in the 10 p.m. slot behind "Grey's Anatomy" when new episodes start airing in April. An "Ugly Betty"-"Grey's"-"Lost" trifecta would be powerful indeed. The Web site is also reporting that "Lost's" eighth episode, which actor Michael Emerson told me ends with a gigantic cliffhanger and shocking twist, may be pushed back to April to air with the five episodes left to be filmed. I guess we'll see. It's followed by "Eli Stone" at 10 p.m. tonight.

"Celebrity Apprentice" (NBC, 9 p.m.) finds Omorosa and Piers on the same team for once, leading to all sorts of wackiness. It's followed by "Lipstick Jungle," which should make at least one reader of this blog happy.

Kara is back (albeit with amnesia) on "Smallville" (CW, 8 p.m.), followed by the always-entertaining "Supernatural" at 9 p.m.

Finally, Fox is airing the NAACP Image Awards, hosted by Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It's Official! The Strike Is Over

The WGA voted overwhelmingly to end the strike Tuesday, meaning that writers can officially start banging out scripts on their laptops once more. Huzzah!

It's going to be a short posting today, since I want to savor Roger Clemens getting grilled by Congress.

A second "Save 'Friday Night Lights' " site has popped up here:

Finally,'s Michael Ausiello has a Q-and-A with "Lost" producer Carlton Cuse. Cuse reports that there will be only five more episodes after the initial eight this season, but he hasn't given up hope of getting those three episodes back at some point over the final two seasons. Also, there will be a four-week gap between the eight in the can and the five left to shoot. You can check it out at

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: "American Idol" (Fox, 8 p.m.) begins the cut to get to 12 men and 12 women semifinalists.

"Cashmere Mafia" (ABC, 10 p.m.) is new; hopefully Can't-Wait-For-Lipstick-Jungle, who posted here last week, will give this show a chance as well. It's opposite a new "Law & Order" on NBC.

Finally, PBS continues to celebrate Black History Month with "African American Lives" at 9 p.m.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

'Jericho' Returns

On occasion, I'll get DVD advance screeners for series I really don't follow. When that happens, I like to give the DVDs to someone else I know who watches the show and can write a more-informed review of it than I can.

I didn't get into "Jericho" (CBS, 10 p.m.) when it first aired last year, because I'm not a huge fan of post-nuclear bomb scenarios. But the series, about a group of Midwest survivors after a nuclear attack and their struggle to survive, drew one of the most successful fan campaigns in recent memory when it appeared "Jericho" would be cancelled.

Thousands of fans sent packets of nuts to CBS, a reference to star Skeet Ulrich's line in the series when the enemy wanted the town of Jericho to surrender.

So I sent the first three episodes to my brother, Alex, to review, and this is what he said:

"In the season premiere, we pick up where last season left off, in the middle of a war between Jericho and the neighboring town of New Bern. An angry Jake Green ("Scream" star, Skeet Ulrich) leads the fight for Jericho after the death of his father, Johnston Green (Gerald McRaney, "Major Dad"), against New Bern and it's twisted leader, Phil Constantino ("Psych" co-star Timothy Odmunson, in a far more serious performance).

The two are brought in face to face and the fighting ceases, when an Army Colonel from the new Western Government now set in Cheyenne, Colonel Hoffman ("NYPD Blue's" Esai Morales), leads an army faction to calm things and the incursions.

In this seven-episode season, several changes are evident from the first, 22-episode season from last year. The cast has clearly been streamlined and a lot of the extraneous character development of both major and supporting players has been reduced to almost nothing. It's a major negative and makes this show feel more like a miniseries rather than a complete television show.

Major characters like Johnston are gone, as well as Johnston's widow and Jake's mom, Gail Green ("Kindergarten Cop's" Pamela Reed); other characters like Dale Turner (Erik Knudsen) have been reduced to guest stars.

Other changes see several romances like Jake's, with former girlfriend, Emily Sullivan (Ashley Scott) or Jake's older brother Eric (Kenneth Mitchell) with sexy barkeep Mary Bailey (Clare Carey), reduced to side items, while the one romance the show is focusing on is local good guy and farm owner Stanley Richmond (Brad Beyer) and his growing relationship with former IRS auditor Mimi (Alicia Coppola).

Besides the show focusing on the Stanley-Mimi coupling (which was the show's sweetest in its first season), the show focuses mostly on Jake and his partnership with the character of Robert Hawkins (Lennie James), a former CIA spook who had tried to stop the nukes, but after being unsuccessful, hid in Jericho with his wife and two kids. The shocker we learned at the end of season one is that Hawkins is hiding another Nuke in his basement.

It appears from tonight's season premiere that Jake and Hawkins will be now working hard to fight the shady Cheyenne Government, which has quickly seized power over states west of the Mississippi and even changed the American flag to now reflect the new Government. The two allies will not only be trying to stop this Government and their 'Blackwater' style private army they're bringing to town, but they will also be working to convince Col. Hoffman (Morales) to switch sides and work with them and examine what is really going on with the new government.

Though I can't say I will get as much out of this shortened, seven-episode mini season of a scaled down "Jericho", it's better to have even half a show than none at all. The characters still have a lot of heart and you really buy their struggle and pull for these people. I am personally pulling for good ratings, so that CBS will open the door for a third season this fall."

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: "American Idol" (Fox, 8 p.m.) gets into the business of picking a new winner by bringing the 24 hopefuls to Hollywood. My early money is on that biker chick from the Atlanta audition, whom Paula Abdul compared to being a female Chris Daughtry.

Over on ABC, there are new episodes of "According to Jim," "Carpoolers" and "Boston Legal" beginning at 9 p.m.

The new season of "Big Brother" (CBS, 9 p.m.) kicks off, making us appreciate the end of the writers' strike a whole lot more. "One Tree Hill" (CW, 9 p.m.) is also new.

Finally, "NOVA" (PBS, 8 p.m.) explores Astrospies, about spy satellites in space during the Cold War.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Writers Return To Work!

Though the new contract has yet to be voted on by membership, the deal between the studios and the Writers Guild of America was approved by the head honchos of both the East and West branches, making Tuesday's official vote to end the strike a mere formality. Showrunners on pretty much all TV series have already returned to work to begin writing and rehiring crews.

So, after nearly four months of labor strife, was it all worth it? The industry suffered over $1 billion in losses during the strike. Not only the writers went unpaid, but so did the below-the-line talent (the grips, the cameramen, the technicians, the costume designers, etc.) Companies that depend on Hollywood's business - car rental companies, restaurants and so forth - also lost a tremendous amount.

Without hearing details of the contract, it's hard to tell how successful the strike was. Several writers interviewed after the big WGA meetings over the weekend said the guild got most, but not all, of what it was seeking, but did have to make several concessions. The WGA had to give up its demands it was seeking on animation deals and writers for reality shows, for example.

So, who won? Well, no one, really. Any side claiming victory can only claim, at best, a pyrrhic victoy. While the writers got most of what they wanted, they lost a lot of money in the process and many writer/producers lost their studio deals when the producers declared a force majeure to cancel their contracts.

The studios lost viewership. And the viewers lost chunks out of their TV series, as nearly all of the shows on the air will have to reduce the number of episodes they were originally supposed to air. Instead, we've been subjected to so-called reality TV.

And that might be the single biggest negative impact of the strike, long-term damage the WGA really couldn't account for. Networks were able to flood the airwaves with shows like "American Gladiators" or ramp up the number of "Deal or No Deal" episodes they would show in a week and found that viewership didn't change all that much.

For a quality, but ratings challenged show like "Friday Night Lights," that's not good news at all. The network suits are discovering they'd rather save the money and order more "American Gladiators" than commit to something like "FNL" because it makes more sense financially. Most networks have already cut the money to develop pilots for next season.

The strike may be over, but the impact will be felt for years to come.

"FNL" UPDATE: Speaking of "FNL," though the season is likely over, the series may not be. Word has been spreading that it may be shopped to another network if NBC decides not to pick it up. Or, NBC may pick it up and run it on one of its cable networks, like USA, such as it does with "Law & Order: CI."

I don't carry high hopes with either scenario. NBC head Ben Silverman has shown little love for the series, and very rarely do shows jump networks successfully. The last one I can think of that did so successfully was "JAG," which switched from NBC to CBS over a decade ago and had a long run on the latter network.

Fans' best bet is to let NBC know that you want "FNL" back. Here's a good way to do so:

Fan campaigns have had varying success over the years. "Jericho" returns to CBS this week thanks in large part to fans sending in packets of nuts to the network. But a campaign a couple of years ago in which thousands of "Angel" fans organized blood drives (still one of the cleverest ideas I can think of) fell upon deaf ears at the WB. But it never hurts to try.

R.I.P. ROY SCHEIDER: The actor, who died from an undisclosed illness, was 75. Scheider was an actor I always enjoyed and who always did great work. The "bigger boat" line from "Jaws" is still one of the greatest movie quotes of all time.

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: The gang goes over the wall (or rather, under it) during its breakout on "Prison Break" (Fox, 8 p.m.), while Brian Austin Green guest stars on "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" at 9 p.m. It's so hard to stop myself making a "90210" joke right now.

What better way to pump up ratings than linking yourself to "High School Musical?" That's what they are doing on "Dance War" (ABC, 8 p.m.) as the cast of "HSM" performs. It's followed by "Notes From the Underbelly" and "October Road."

CBS has new episodes of "Welcome to the Captain" and "Old Christine" at 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., but please do yourself a favor and only watch the latter.

On cable, "Kyle XY" (ABC Family, 8 p.m.) is new, followed by a new "Wildfire" at 9 p.m.

Finally, if you missed "Jericho" last season and want to catch up a bit, Sci Fi is showing four episodes, beginning with the pilot, tonight beginning at 7 p.m.

Friday, February 08, 2008

'Lights' Out?

As much as it pains me to type this out, tonight's broadcast of "Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 9 p.m.) may be the last original episode — ever.

Even if the writers' strike ends tomorrow (and it very might, literally), NBC has no plans to produce any more episodes this season beyond the 15 it has already made, and recent comments by NBC president Ben Silverman indicate that the show won't be back next year. (When someone asked Silverman about "FNL" at a recent party, all Silverman would answer was to say watch "30 Rock.")

It's a shame, because "FNL" is one of the few quality shows out there built for the whole family. Though some people thought it was a show about football, in reality, the sport was the one thread that tied the town together, and often served as a metaphor for what the players and fans of the Dillon Panthers were going through.

Rarely does a show tackle such subjects as teen sex, alcoholism, divorce and racism with such dignity without devolving into preachiness, but "FNL" managed to walk that fine line more often than now.

And while I have praised the performances of lead actors Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton multiple times on this blog (they were the two biggest snubs by the Emmys, IMHO), it's the wonderful supporting cast that really makes this show special. And it's not just the high school kids the show revolves around; it's the older actors like Brad Leland (Buddy Garrity) and Liz Mikel (Corinna Williams, Smash's mom) that often steal the scenes they are in. All of the actors have created characters we care about.

I'm the first to admit that "FNL" has been a bit uneven this season, with things like the rapist storyline and turning Julie Taylor from the girl next door into a total whiny brat. But all of the top shows on the air - "Lost," "Grey's Anatomy," "Heroes," etc. - have had plotlines and characters in their runs that fans didn't like. "FNL" is no different. Like those other shows, the good on "FNL" far outweighs the bad.

I had the pleasure of meeting some of the cast and crew of "FNL" at the Austin Film Festival, and they're a genuine bunch of good people who really seem to care about the product they are making.

I carry a small measure of hope that the massive critical appeal of the show combined with decent ratings in the coveted 18-30 age group might keep the possibility of hope for another season alive - the recurring theme of Panthers football. Certainly, e-mailing NBC and letting them know your feelings can't hurt.

STRIKE WATCH: Multiple reports out of Hollywood indicate that the WGA may end its strike this weekend and people could be returning to work on Monday as a deal between the guild and the producers is finalized.

If you want to know the fate of your favorite show and whether it will be back this season,'s Michael Ausiello has a strike chart on his blog here:

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: So, based on yesterday's posting, did anyone watch "Lipstick Jungle" last night, and if so, what did people think?

Following "FNL" tonight is a new episode of "Las Vegas" (NBC, 10 p.m.)

Speaking of shows wrapping up, "Flash Gordon" (Sci-Fi, 9 p.m.) finishes its first season tonight. I'm not sure if it will be back next year, but it looks as if producers are wrapping things up anyway.

"Monk" is taking a week off, but "Psych" (USA, 10 p.m.) is all-new.

On Saturday, HBO is airing the TV movie "Bernard and Doris" (HBO, Sat., 8 p.m.), with Oscar winner Susan Sarandon as famed heiress Doris Duke and Ralph Fiennes as her butler, Bernard Lafferty.

"Torchwood" (BBC America, Sat., 9 p.m.) finds the gang encountering people from World War I as two time zones get mixed together. Speaking of "Torchwood," Sci Fi announced this week that it would begin airing Season 4 of "Doctor Who" in April along with the first season of the series' other spinoff, "The Sarah Jane Adventures," in April.

On Sunday, the 50th edition of the Grammys air (CBS, Sun., 8 p.m.) while "Masterpiece" reruns the 1995 classic "Pride and Prejudice" (PBS, 9 p.m.).

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Stay Out Of This 'Jungle'

One of the purposes of this blog is that I watch bad TV so you don't have to. No need to thank me; just send in your cash donations.

I did it earlier this week when I had to sit through the awful pilot of "Welcome To The Captain" and I did again for tonight's debut of "Lipstick Jungle," (NBC, 10 p.m.), the network's answer to ABC's "Cashmere Mafia" and HBO's "Sex & The City."

Since NBC sent me about a dozen copies of the pilot, I spread them around the office. The most positive review I got was from Belle Magazine editor Stephanie Hartley, who said "Jungle" isn't as bad as "Mafia." Since ABC didn't even bother to send me "Mafia" and has done little to promote the series, I'm guessing that's probably a pretty good assessment.

But boy, is "Jungle" not good. I mean, I wasn't just bored by the content; I actually found it insulting to my intelligence.

"Jungle" follows the adventures of three women in New York: A powerful publisher (Kim Raver), who feels trapped in her dull marriage; a movie executive (Brooke Shields), trying to balance career and family; and a fashion designer (Lindsay Price), coming off a disastrous show.

Written by "Sex & The City" author Candace Bushnell, it's supposed to show these women in a light where we are supposed to feel some empathy for them, but wow, I hated them all quite a lot.

The Raver subplot, about a woman hitting the glass ceiling at work, feels like it would have been dated material a decade ago, particularly with the dialogue from the men. Shields' husband (Paul Blackthorne) is nothing but whiner with an inferiority complex about his wife's success, and the subplot in which Shields saves a movie deal for her company is beyond ridiculous. And Price's character is made to look vapid, though the subplot where she is romanced by a billionaire (Andrew McCarthy) manages a few moments of charm.

NBC sent me two more episodes of "Jungle," but there's no way you could make me sit through them. And since there is quite a lot of good stuff on Thursday nights, you the viewer have much better options. If you find yourself missing "Sex & the City," buy the DVDs.

"SCRUBS" UPDATE: TVGuide's Michael Ausiello has an interview with "Scrubs" creator Bill Lawrence, who says he thinks he can get five more episodes done assuming the strike ends this month. Whether or not he's allowed to is up to NBC head honcho Ben Silverman. Ausiello is asking fans of the show to post comments on his blog to support the show. You can do so here:

I also suggest going to and posting comments there. I'd love for this show to end on the right foot.

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: As I said, viewers tonight have much better options than "Lipstick Jungle."

To wit, Episode 2 of "Lost" (ABC, 9 p.m.), in which we meet the new cast members, AKA the boat people - Jeff Fahey, Jeremy Davies, Rebecca Mader and Ken Leung. "Lost" has been a bit hit-or-miss with its cast editions; for every Mr. Eko or Ben Linus or Juliette, we've gotten an Ana Lucia or a Nikki & Paolo. (Of course, when they kill off even the bad characters, it has made for great TV.) Personally, I'm excited about the changes. If you missed last week's season premiere, it's being repeated at 8 p.m.

It's followed by a new episode of the promising "Eli Stone" (ABC, 10 p.m.)

Equally exciting tonight is "Smallville" (CW, 8 p.m.), which features the return of Green Arrow (Justin Hartley). And what would Green Arrow be without Black Canary (Alaina Huffman)? I'm hoping for the fishnets...

It's followed by arguably TV's most underrated series, "Supernatural" (CW, 9 p.m.)

Preceding "Lipstick Jungle" is "Celebrity Apprentice" (NBC, 9 p.m.) which has bordered on the bizarre this season, no more so than last week's showdown between Piers Morgan and Vincent Pastore. What the hell was that about?

Finally, speaking of so-called reality, "Survivor" kicks off its newest season by sticking 10 fan favorites against 10 superfans in Micronesia.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ratings, Strike Updates

In case you missed it, Sunday's Super Bowl telecast was the second-highest rated TV event ever, behind only the 1983 telecast of the final episode of "M*A*S*H."

The Super Bowl drew in 97.4 million viewers, thanks in part to the Patriots' attempted run at perfection, and the post-Super Bowl episode of "House" drew 29 million viewers, its highest-rating ever. (In case you were wondering, "M*A*S*H" drew 106 million viewers and a record 77 share — meaning more than three-quarters of any TV set turned on that night was tuned to CBS.) Fox is rerunning that episode of "House," guest starring Mira Sorvino, on Feb. 15.

Of course, the TV landscape is different now than it was in 1983. There was no internet to contend with, and cable options were much more limited. Also, many fewer households had VCRs, so TV shows had to be watched live.

The strike has had a major impact on the networks, as ratings are down all over the place while we are in the middle of sweeps week (when networks use their ratings to set ad rates).

Meanwhile,'s Michael Ausiello has updates about the prospects of several shows returning this season or next, assuming a deal between the writers and the studios is hammered out in the next couple of weeks. (What will likely happen is that if the union approves the tentative deal this Saturday, the writers will return to work while the lawyers hammer out the final details.)

Some shows on the bubble: It looks as if we may get the final four episodes of "Scrubs," but Friday's installment of "Friday Night Lights" may be the last first-run episode — ever. That one you can blame on NBC president Ben Silverman, not the WGA strike.

For more about the fates of other shows, click here:

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: As part of Black History Month, PBS is airing the documentary "African American Lives" at 9 p.m.

There's a new episode of "Cashmere Mafia" (ABC, 10 p.m.) opposite a new "CSI: NY" (ABC, 10 p.m.)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Wall-to-wall Coverage

One way to get past the writers' strike - saturate the night with election coverage.

That's ABC's plan at least, as the network kicks off Super Tuesday coverage at 8 p.m. and goes the rest of the night with it.

I've never been a huge fan of election coverage in general. After all, how much can you really debate over a set of numbers? Things don't really get interesting until the candidates make their speeches, and with this being Super Tuesday, you may get a couple of concession speeches tonight.

The bad thing, though, is that when the networks predict a victory so early for a candidate in the East Coast states, it may influence votes on the West Coast. Some voters out in California may not bother to vote if a candidate has a strong run in the east.

Anyway, do you civic duty and go out and vote.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: If you aren't into heavy media coverage of the election, Fox is giving you a couple of options. "American Idol" (Fox, 8 p.m.) is having its auditions tonight in Atlanta, so local viewers may catch someone they know seeking their 15 minutes of fame. It's followed by the last first-run episode of "House," featuring the return of Cutthroat Bitch.

I believe "One Tree Hill" (CW, 9 p.m.) is also new, making election coverage look more attractive.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Recapping The Super Bowl, The Strike And The Captain

Well, the best news of the weekend came out of Hollywood, where there looks like there might be some settlement to the writers' strike. Word on the street is that something could be hammered out by as early as this week, which means many shows may be back in production by the end of the month.

What that means in terms of how many episodes of each series we'll get and which shows will return is still up in the air. You can be sure the networks will try to get as many episodes of the big hits like "Grey's Anatomy" and "CSI" as possible, but other shows may not fare as well. For example, "Pushing Daisies" has likely wrapped up its brilliant first season already.

Meanwhile, no real complaints about the Super Bowl last night, except that we will be subjected to the '72 Dolphins for a while longer now that the Patriots lost.

And who the hell was operating the clock last night? Was that the Fox graphics department screwing up all night, or was that the stadium scoreboard which was screwing up? Either way, the constant misfiring on the clock was a distraction all night, and set up that last-second weirdness of everyone having to trot back on the field after the game was over.

Of course, as a friend of mine told me, she was eager to watch the series of Super Bowl commercials which were constantly being broken up by spurts of football. As for the commercials, Pepsi/Diet Pepsi came out strong, as did Bridgestone. Budweiser always does a good job, and I liked the "Godfather" parody. But boy, were there ever commercials that came off as more racist than those done by

The "House" episode afterward was great, especially the guest turn by Mira Sorvino, and I love the way the producers have brought back Cutthroat Bitch.

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: So, I watched the pilot for "The Captain," (CBS, 8:30 p.m.) and I realized The Telegraph doesn't pay me enough for this job. Watching it in unison with the return of the always-entertaining "Old Christine" (CBS, 9:30 p.m.) makes me wonder who makes the programming decisions at the network. The former is completely devoid of humor and is drowned out by this incessant rock music track; the latter features an Emmy-worthy performance by the brilliant Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

"The Captain" is about a burnt out writer who moves into his friend's apartment building, where he meets the requisite cast of weird characters. It's utterly predictable and seriously devoid of funny. Save yourselves a half-hour of wasted time. (CBS said this was the revised pilot; I can't imagine how the original pilot could have possibly been less funny.)

"Prison Break" (Fox, 8 p.m.), coming off a brilliant promotional spot during the Super Bowl, is back as the gang tries to escape yet another prison. It's followed by a new "Terminator: Sarah Conner Chronicles" at 9 p.m.

"Dance War" (ABC, 8 p.m.) is back, as is extended versions of "American Gladiators" (NBC, 8 p.m.) and "Deal Or No Deal" (NBC, 9:30 p.m.) On cable, "Kyle XY" (ABC Family, 8 p.m.) is new.

Friday, February 01, 2008

'Lost' Recap

You may want to skip this if you haven't seen last night's season premiere.


Still here? Good.

So, I've been reeling since last season's finale about eight months ago, and the wait has seemed interminable. But last night proved to be well worth it.

The episode was Hurley-centric, with a flash forward to what happens to the big guy after he gets off the island.

The episode opens with Hurley leading police on a car chase through L.A. We learn he was spooked by something while at a convenience store, and Hurley is grateful when the cop (Ana Lucia's former partner) sends him to the nuthouse.

Turns out Hurley is being haunted by the ghost of Charlie, who keeps telling him that Hurley has unfinished business on the island.

On the island, after helping to rescue Jin, Bernard and Sayid, the gang met up with Desmond, who passed along the news of Charlie's death and his warning about the boat people. Worried that the boat people would listen in on a radio warning to Jack, Hurley chucks the radio into the ocean.

On the march back to Jack and the rest of the Losties, Hurley gets separated from the group and stumbles upon Jacob's cabin. After seeing Jacob - who shall we say has some sort of connection to Christian Shepherd, Jack's dad - a terrified Hurley is found by Locke, who leads him back to his traveling party.

Meanwhile, Jack has made contact with the boat people. It turns out Naomi, of the boat, isn't dead, only wounded, and she's dragged herself off into the forest. Eventually, Kate finds her and Naomi convinces the boat people to come to the island for a rescue.

When the two groups of survivors finally meet up at the end, Jack beats up Locke and tries to make good on his promise kill Locke - only Locke's gun is empty. Locke convinces a portion of the Losties - including Hurley, Sawyer and Claire - that the boat people are up to no good and the two groups separate.

Meanwhile, in the present (or the future) Hurley tells a visiting Jack (pre-Grizzly Adams beard and pill problem) that he has kept a secret about the rescue so far and that he made a mistake picking Locke over Jack. He tries to convince Jack that they have unfinished business on the island, but Jack makes it clear he won't go back there.

What we learn:
--Hurley is one of six survivors from the crash to return to the real world. The only other ones we know of are Jack and Kate.
--Jacob may or may not be Christian Shepherd.
--Something pretty bad happened to the rest of the group, it would seem, something so bad that the "Oceanic Six" feel compelled to keep it from the rest of the world.

Some questions:
--How did Locke know about Charlie's message? He wasn't on the beach when Hurley found out.
--How or why was Christian Shepherd in the cabin?
--Why do only crazy people see Charlie's ghost, and was it a ghost or just a hallucination?
--If only six people made it back, what happened to everyone else?

The biggest question of all, though, is how am I going to deal with the fact there are only seven episodes left?

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: Well, it's Super Bowl weekend, but there are a few other things of note on besides the big game.

"Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 9 p.m.) and "Las Vegas" (NBC, 10 p.m.) are both new tonight, as are "Monk" and "Psych" on USA.

On Saturday, "Torchwood" (BBC America, 9 p.m.) is also new.

After the Super Bowl, Fox is airing a new "House," with the time to be determined. Meanwhile, one of TV's best new series, "Breaking Bad" (AMC, 10 p.m.) is also new.