Two Tivos To Paradise 06.08.12: Mad Men, Suits, Game of Thrones, Burn Notice, Louie, and more!
Posted by Al Norton on 06.08.2012
News and thoughts on the Mad Men season finale, the reboot of Dallas, the return of Suits on USA, the CW's new summer scheduling tactic, the season premieres of Masterchef and Hell's Kitchen and more!
Hello friends. A bit premature in my Red Sox celebration in last week's cold opening as they are back at .500 as of this writing. I will be attending Sunday's game against the Washington Nationals at Fenway Park and hope to get my personal record for the year back up over .500.
We had a run of six interviews in six days that started with Danny Masterson (Thursday) and led to The Client List's Alicia Lagano (Friday), Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition's Chris Powell (Saturday), Katee Sackhoff (Sunday), MasterChef's Chef Graham Elliot (Monday), and The Glee Project's Robert Ulrich (Tuesday). All that transcribing left my fingers numb so I may need a break soon! Use the links at the bottom of the column to pull up any that you missed.
TV lost two much loved performers this week with the passing of Richard Dawson and Emmy winner Kathryn Joosten. Dawson's best known acting work was on Hogan's Heroes but he will forever be associated with game shows, both for his wonderful appearances on Match Game and later for his hosting gig on Family Feud, when the show was a pop culture phenomenon. Joosten won two Emmys for her work on Desperate Housewives (she is a favorite to win a third for this past season, the show's last) and gained a large following for her portrayal of President Bartlett's secretary Mrs. Landingham on The West Wing.
There's a ton of trailers in the column below so I thought I'd give you a little something different this week, an amazing new video from PBS that they say is the first in a series that remixes Public Television icons…
I am the furthest thing from web savvy but I know there are a ton of YouTube channels that have launched recently, with YOMYOMF being of particular interest to me because it counts Justin Lin as one of its founders (the channel's name is taken from You Offend Me You Offend My Family, the highly entertaining Asian-American pop culture blog he founded in 2009). Lin is a successful big screen director (Fast and Furious) but he's beloved on these pages for being behind the camera for Community'sModern Warfare episode. One of the more interesting things the channel is doing is a new series called Internet Icon…
Every now and then I get a little bit tired of listening to the sound of my news.
Went To School And I Was Very Nervous, No One Knew Me, No One Knew Me Mad Men brings its fifth season to a close Sunday at 10pm following the hour in which the world gets one step closer to finding out who killed Rosie Larson. Mad Men has won the Best Drama Emmy for each of the four seasons it has aired and will look to become the first show ever to win five in a row come September (Hill Street Blue and The West Wing are the only other two shows to win four and coincidently also won theirs consecutively).
I am not sure a season of TV has ever dealt with expectations as high as they were for season five of Mad Men, in part because of the incredibly high quality level of the first four and in part because of the very long delay between new episodes, caused by lengthy contract negotiations or the network wanting to give Breaking Bad a bigger spotlight, depending on who you believe. I am on record that people's expectations for season premieres in general are always too high because they forget the last memory they have of a show is the previous season's finale, an episode that had somewhere between 13 and 22 episodes of build up to suck you in. In any event, while some were disappointed with the two hour Mad Men opener, I thoroughly enjoyed it, as I did the entire season, with the last three episodes being at a quality level that most shows don't even come close to. At this point I think the show has locked up at least five Norty nominations with an outside chance at six.
I've never had any idea what was going to happen in any of the Mad Men season finales and that's one of the things I love so much about the show; creator Matthew Weiner has a real artistic vision and doesn't feel the need to conform to any traditional TV series models in his storytelling, so they could have a major plot twist, or a feel good ending, or jump ahead another five years. All I know is that based on everything that has come before it I have no reason to think I will be thinking anything other than, "damn, how long do I have to wait for season six?!?!?"
Gold Watch, Diamond Ring, I Ain't Missin' Not A Single Thing
The second season of USA's Suits highlights a week of season/series premieres that also includes the return of Burn Notice and the 2+ hour debut of TNT's updated version of the classic nighttime soap Dallas, which features multiple original cast members reprising their roles.
Suits was perhaps the single biggest surprise of 2011, a show that I had very low expectations for that turned out to be a highly entertaining hour of TV each week. While Mike Adams was nominated for a SAG for his role as the faux lawyer it was Gabriel Macht's Harvey that was the real draw to me, with a unique presence that never made you feel like he was acting while never doubting the intensity and integrity of the character. Suits has interesting legal cases without the specifics being outlandish (a rarity on the current TV landscape), is very well cast down to the smallest supporting roles, and is also laugh out loud funny at times. I am very excited for Thursday at 10pm!
Here's a quick rundown of the rest of June's premieres, with an * for series premieres…
*Bunheads* (Monday, 9pm, ABC Family)
*Dallas* (Tuesday, 9pm, TNT)
*Burn Notice (Thursday, 9pm, USA)
*Suits (Thursday, 10pm, USA)
*Falling Skies (Sunday 6/17, 9pm)
*Glass House* (Monday 6/18, 10pm, ABC)
*Baby Daddy* (Wednesday 6/20, 8:30pm, ABC Family)
*The Soul Man* (Wednesday 6/20, 10pm, TVLand)
*Snooki & JWoww* (Thursday 6/21, 10pm, MTV)
*The Newsroom* (Sunday 6/24, 10pm, HBO)
*Anger Management* (Thursday 6/28, 9pm, FX)
*Louie (Thursday 6/29, 10pm, FX)
*Wilfred (Thursday 6/29, 10:30pm, FX)
Summer, It Turns Me Upside Down, Summer, Summer, Summer, Summer, It's Like A Merry Go Round
The CW is trying a new scheduling strategy this summer, with three new series running original episodes in June and July and then starting two more in the days following the Olympics in August. New reality shows The Catalina and Breaking Pointe are already airing and season two of The LA Complex debuts on July 17th. Oh Sit, a new game show based on musical chairs (yes, really) premieres on August 14th followed the next night by The Next: Fame Is At Your Door, a new singing competition show that has Nelly, John Rich, Gloria Estefan, and Joe Jonas as the judges/mentors. The new cycle of America's Next Top Model, this round featuring contestants currently in college as well as several new judges/advisors, premieres on Friday, August 24th.
The CW makes a lot of interesting decisions but most these make sense to me, at least other than the truly ridiculous title of their singing competition show; August is traditionally a dead time for TV so by having three new reality shows they are guaranteed to get more eyes than usual, and they can use those commercials to hype the hell out of their fall season, which they are starting in October to get away from the traditional September premieres that the big four have scheduled. That means they will have more publicity than usual for both August and October since the outlets that cover TV won't have other new shows to write about at that point. Sure it's a risk because viewers may have made the viewing choices already before they get the chance to sample The CW's wares but I think they should push it even further, going with the TNT/FX/USA model and do shorter seasons and launch whenever they feel like it. I mean, it's not like what they are doing now is working in any huge way so why not try something different.
Sunny Day, Sweepin' The Clouds Away, On My Way To Where The Air Is Sweet
The Sesame Street video of the week…
But You Were Up To Your Old Tricks In Chapters Four Five And Six
All you need to know about the Nielsen's for the past 7 days…
The season finale of Touch was down 23% from its last outing, which had American Idol as a lead-in…Duets was down 12% in total viewers in week two but did win 9pm in the demos…Rookie Blue matched its premiere numbers, always a positive sign…A Big Bang Theory rerun won the night in total viewers and demos…Game two of the NBA's Western Conference Final was the second most watched WCF game two on TNT ever, up 5% from last season…
Game four of the Celtics-Heat Eastern Conference Finals matchup on ESPN was the most watched post-season NBA game in cable TV history…The 4.1 million who watched Longmire made it 2012's most watched basic cable scripted series premiere and the most watched original series debut in A&E history…The Game of Thrones season finale was watched by 4.2 million, making it the most watched episode in series history. That strong lead-in helped VEEP post its second best numbers ever and Girls hit a series high…
MONDAY Teen Wolf's first Monday episode of the year was up17% in total viewers from that same episode last season and with a 31% increase in the show's target 12 – 34 demo…America's Got Talent was the most watched show of the night with a little over 12 million viewers and also won the evening in demos…The season premiere of MasterChef was up 28% from last year and won 9pm in demos…The Bachelorette was up 11% from last week but still finished third in demos in both the 8 and 9 o'clock hours…American Ninja Warrior was up 5%, finishing a solid second at 9pm and looking more and more like a new regular part of NBC's summer programming…
5.6 million watched the season premiere of Rizzoli & Isles on TNT, down 12% from last year but up 86% from what Memphis Beat did in that same slot last year. It was up 64% in the demos from Beat's performance last year as well…Franklin & Bash opened season two up 10% from season one and up 19% from what Hawthorne did in that slot last summer…Love in the Wild opened down 27% in the demos from last season, losing more than 50% of the demo lead-in provided by America's Got Talent…
WEDNESDAY So You Think You Can Dance was down 11% from last week but still easily won the night in demos…Dogs in the City was down 31% from last week's just ok premiere…
All The Young Dudes, Carry The News
Industry News, Notes, and Hot Rumors…Starz has (surprisingly) announced that the 10 episode third season of Spartacus (Spartacus: War of the Damned) set to air in January of 2013 will be the highly rated series last...Rumors abound that Jerry Seinfeld will play himself on an episode of Louie this summer…Andy Samberg confirmed that he will not return to SNL in the fall…SVU alum Diane Neal will guest on Suits this summer…CBS is continuing to try to stop ABC from airing their new reality series Glass House on the grounds that it's a blatant steal of their long running series Big Brother (19 former BB producers and staff work on House) but a judge ruled that the case would not be super-fast tracked, giving mid June dates for motions and materials to be filed. The show is scheduled to premiere on June 18th, with contestants already announced and ABC planning on giving fans a peak at the house this weekend on-line...The good news about Wil Calhoun, the new showrunner on Whitney, is that he has Friends on his resume. The bad news is he worked on last year's I Hate Me Teenage Daughter…Former Pittsburg Steeler Hines Ward signed with NBC Sports Group to provide college and pro football analysis, including a regular role on the top rated Football Night in America…NY Med premieres on ABC on July 10th at 10pm, a new documentary series from the team that previously brought Hopkins Med and Boston Med to the network…The Emmys have condensed the lead and supporting acting in a TV Movie or Mini-series categories into one starting this year…Despite earlier reports that the game was being shelved, The NFL Pro Bowl will air on NBC on Sunday, January 27 2013…The Weather Channel has ordered 9 additional episodes of Iron Men and are making it its own series, taking it out from under the Braving the Elements umbrella…Robert Patrick, who guest starred in the ABC pilot Last Resort, has been signed as a series regular…Magic Johnson and Larry Bird will narrate ABC's commercials to hype the NBA finals, which begin on June 12th…Every spring there's rumors of pilots not picked up by one network jumping to another but it hardly ever happens, which makes the reports that ABC is in talks to order a first season of Super Fun Night, a comedy starring Rebel Wilson that CBS passed on, that much more noteworthy. Wilson, best known for her work in Bridesmaids, wrote the pilot as well, about three kind of dorky girls who make a pact to have every Friday night be, well, a Super Fun Night. Conan O'Brien is an executive producer…CBS TV Distribution is thisclose to signing Bobby Flay and Giada de Lourentiis to host a syndicated daytime talk show in the fall of 2013…Lost Girl, which has been a very strong performer for Syfy so far, had its third season picked up by the network. The show, which airs in Canada first, is in the middle of its 22 episode second season here in the states and the 13 episode third season will run in January. The show regularly wins its time slot in the demos among basic cable competitors…Jerry O'Connell has been cast as Herman Munster in NBC's upcoming Mockingbird Lane, a re-imagining of the classic comedy The Munsters as what the network calls a "visually spectacular one hour drama." O'Connell joins Eddie Izzard (Grandpa Munster) and Mason Cook (Eddie) in the show, which is likely to premiere in the first half of 2013. Pushing Daisies' creator Bryan Fuller is executive producing along with Bryan Singer…On a somewhat related note, Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, who just won Best Actor at Cannes and was also cast as the villain in Thor 2, will play the title character in NBC's upcoming Hannibal. The character of Hannibal Lector has previously been played by Sir Anthony Hopkins and Brian Cox, both up on the big screen. Hugh Dancy stars as FBI Agent Will Graham in the series, written and executive produced by Bryan Fuller and expected on the network in early 2013…Disney has picked up a third season of Shake it Up. Not a real surprise considering it was the number one show of 2011 with kids 9 -14 and so far in 2012 is number one with kids 2 - 11 and 6 - 11…Spike TV has ordered a six episode first season of Last Family on Earth, where families go head-to-head for a spot in a fully stocked & fortified underground bunker. The families will compete in various disaster/end of the world scenarios, with the final winning clan taking their spot in the bunker shortly before December 21st (aka the day the Mayan calendar says the world will end). There will be three survival expert judges and viewers will have a say in who goes home each week…
Turns Out Not Where But Who You're With That Really Matters
(The Best of What's Around aka The Best Thing I've Watched In The Last 7 Days…)
I am not the world's biggest reality TV guy – there are way more shows I have no interest in than there are shows I have season passed – so it was somewhat surprising when there were three different non-fiction series that got my tear ducts flowing this week.
I can't get over how much I love The Glee Project in that I am as emotionally invested in the series as I ever have been in a reality competition show because these contestants have, for lack of a better phrase, a purity of desire; yes, they all want to succeed in the entertainment industry but more than that, they want to win so they can appear on a show that means so much to them.
By taking all the cynicism and backlash away – a foreign concept here on the internet, I know – The Glee Project reminds me exactly why it is Glee is so important to so many people in that it's a series that not only tells young people that it's ok to be different but that those differences are to be celebrated. Yes, there's singing and dancing but at its huge, beautiful heart Glee is about the road to believing in yourself, about people finding the confidence to pursue their dreams, and there's not enough haters in the world to bring that down. Watching The Glee Project and the very diverse (by all meanings of the word) group of people who have been impacted by Glee is to be reminded just how universal and at the same time revolutionary a concept that is. There is an energy that comes from watching The Glee Project that I love and it reminds of the wonderful power of the medium.
The opening two hours of MasterChef of the season may not have been as uplifting as The Glee Project but they explored similar themes, people having the guts to pursue their dreams in front of millions of people. I must admit to being a bit teary watching both the Monday and Tuesday outing of the show as several of the contestants had very inspiration stories.
Finally, the season premiere of Extreme Makeover: Weight Lost Edition was enough to put anyone who is letting fear hold them back to serious shame as Tony overcame the kind of roadblocks that some people don't ever recover from and lost 150+ pounds, a literal life changing amount of weight. Yes, the show is edited in a manipulative manner but there is no doubting the power of these stories. I challenge anyone to watch and not come away thinking there are things in their life they could be putting more effort into.
All of the above reality shows demonstrate that the genre can be so much more than Housewives, Bad Girls, and GTL and that we really do live in a country filled with interesting people who have compelling stories.
People Say I'm Crazy Doing What I'm Doing. Well, They Give Me All Kinds Of Warnings To Save Me From Ruin
What's flashed before my eyes the last seven days…
I do so love The Daily Show…I'm just going to come out and say it; I don't watch Game of Thrones on a regular basis. There, I feel better now. I watched a good chunk of the first season and while I thought it was extremely well made (strong writing & acting, and incredible production values), it simply didn't grab me on an emotional level. Doesn't mean it's not a good, or even great show, just that it's simply not a show for me. My opinion shouldn't impact your enjoyment of the show and I'd love for you to use the comments section below to tell me your thoughts on the season finale…I very much enjoyed the Royal Pains season premiere because it made clear they were not going to wrap up last season's cliffhanger in a neat little one hour bow. The battle between Hank and Evan is clearly going to continue throughout the season, providing the show some much needed tension. Even better is the addition of TTTP fave Ben Shenkman to the cast…I finally watched the fantastic two hour Johnny Carson episode of American Masters. I would readily watch hours and hours of comedians talking about their Tonight Show appearances; Drew Carey almost had me crying along with him. I know there are Tonight Show DVD's available but they should do one with just first time appearances of comedians along with current day interviews with them talking about it…I know I've mentioned it before but the opening segment of Fact or Faked is always entertaining, with the panel labeling several videos as obvious fakes while picking a couple to investigate. It adds some level of legitimacy to the show that they openly shoot down some of them as fake…Hollywood Treasure is one of my favorite reality shows not only because the find some really cool stuff but you also see what goes in to selling (or not selling) the items. I am 100% sure that everything that we see would be going on if the cameras weren't there, and that's about as high praise as you can give a non-fiction series…Three episodes in and I am still more than happy with the time invested in watching Men at Work, which isn't breaking any new comedic ground but makes me laugh nonetheless…As much as I am enjoying the start of MasterChef (mentioned above), I game up on Hell's Kitchen after the first hour. My biggest issue with this show is the talent or lack thereof of the competitors; you could find better chefs with an ad on Craig's List. The issue is that anyone with an ounce of self respect would not subject themselves to the ridicule and abuse that Gordon Ramsay dishes out, so they are left with a group of folks whose previous aspirations were to work the line at Applebees. Seriously, I think anyone I've ever seen on Chopped would dominate on Hell's Kitchen, which this year has the prize of being the head chef at Ramsay's steak restaurant in Los Vegas. You know, maybe the blame lies with the casting folks as they might want to get lower level talent because they know their mistakes will set Ramsay off, making for what they consider to be good TV…
TV Pick Of The Week
It seems like just yesterday that some were saying HBO has lost a step in its original programming but here we are, coming off of a Game of Thrones season finale that hit a series high in the ratings as the capper to a season that had fans and critics singing its praises, with two new high profile comedies in Girls and Veep that are keeping people talking, and before the much anticipated Aaron Sorkin drama The Newsroom debuts in a couple of weeks they're giving us season five of their hit vampire drama True Blood.
While I don't think the show is winning over any new fans five years in, casting Christopher Meloni in his first post-SVU role has certainly given the show even more mainstream coverage.
Don't miss the season premiere of True Blood, Sunday at 9pm on HBO.
Hope You Need My Love, Babe, Just Like I Need You
Other noteworthy viewing options from the next seven days…
*Comedy Bang! Bang is (Tonight, 10pm, IFC) another podcast come to TV, albeit one with some serious comedy talent coming along. It's not for everyone but it's pretty entertaining.
*truTV will air the four episodes of HBO's documentary series 24/7 Pacquiano/Bradley on Saturday at 4pm, which will serve as a lead-in to the 12 round fight for the Welterweight Championship of the World, available on HBO Pay-Per-View.
*The Steve Austin hosted Redneck Island premieres Saturday at 10pm on CMT.
*Even if you're not much of a theater fan, The 66th Annual Tony Awards (Sunday, 8pm, CBS) will be worth checking out simply because Neil Patrick Harris is perhaps the best awards show host in the business right now.
*Mob Wives is such a hit for VH-1 that they've Real Houswives'd it, giving us Mob Wives Chicago starting this Sunday at 8pm.
*The new season of WE's Bridezillas premieres Sunday at 10pm with a one hour Where Are They Now special as its lead-in.
*Hollywood Heights is a new type of programming venture for Nickelodeon, an 80 episode series that will air new hour long episodes weeknights throughout the summer. It premieres Monday at 9pm and is likely to either be a much buzzed about hit or a colossal failure…
*Thorne is a crime drama airing on Encore Tuesday and Wednesday night at 9pm with each night being a movie-length individual mystery. Can't find a good trailer to post what I've seen I've liked and the reviews are quite strong.
*Looking for another show about people trying to turn junk into fortune? A&E's Barter Kings debuts Tuesday at 9pm.
*A new season of Teen Mom hits the airwaves Tuesday at 10pm. For anyone who only knows the show from tabloid coverage, it actually in no way glamorizes teen pregnancy and, if anything, would make anyone with even a small portion of a brain think three or four times before doing anything that could result in pregnancy. Not saying the show is good but it's not causing kids to run around and get pregnant to be on TV, either. At least not kids that weren't just going to do something else stupid otherwise.
*First Lady Michelle Obama makes an appearance on a episode of Food Network's Restaurant Impossible (Wednesday, 10pm) that finds Robert Irvine trying to help makeover the kitchen of a non-profit that makes meals for after school programs in Washington DC.
Two Tivos To Paradise 24 Hour Restaurant Battle, 30 Rock, After the Catch, American Idol, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Antiques Roadshow, Archer, Around the World in 80 Plate, Auction Hunters, Awake, The Big C, Boardwalk Empire, Being Human, Bent, Betty White's Off Their Rockers, Bones, Breaking Bad, Burn Notice, Cake Boss, Cake Boss: Next Great Baker, Chopped, The Closer, Comic Book Men, Community, Cougar Town, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Deadliest Catch, Desperate Housewives, Destination Truth, Don't Trust the B- in Apt 23, Eureka, Fact or Faked, Falling Skies, Fairly Legal, Family Guy, The Finder, Flipping Out, Food Feuds, Food Network Challenge, Food Network Star, Ghost Hunters, Ghost Hunters Academy, Ghost Hunters International, Ghost Lab, Glee, Gossip Girl, Great Food Truck Race, Grey's Anatomy, Happy Endings, Haunted Treasure, Hawaii 5-0, Hell on Wheels, Hollywood Treasure, House, House of Lies, How I Met Your Mother, Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis, Iron Chef America, Justified, Key & Peele, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Law And Order: Special Victims Unit, Lost Girl, Louie, Mad Men, The Middle, Mike and Molly, Modern Family, Monster Man, Necessary Roughness, New Girl, Next Iron Chef, The Office, Outside the Lines, Parks & Recreation, Private Practice, Project Accessory, Project Runway, Psych, Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook Off, Raising Hope, Real Time With Bill Maher, Restaurant Impossible, Revenge, Royal Pains, Rules Of Engagement, Sanctuary, Saturday Night Live, Shear Genius, So You Think You Can Dance?, Sons of Anarchy, The Soup, Suits, Suburgatory, Supernatural, Texas Multi Mammas, Top Chef, Top Chef Just Desserts, Top Chef: Masters, Top Design, Tosh.0, True Blood, Up All Night, The Vampire Diaries, The Voice, The Walking Dead, Warehouse 13, Web Soup, Wilfred, Worst Cooks In America,
People Love You When They Know You're Leaving Soon
Here ends another Two Tivos To Paradise.
We'll be back next week with our last pre-vacation news column plus a Q & A with Captain John from Spike's new reality show Diamond Diggers. Don't forget to find us on Facebook!!!
Sources for this week's column include Daily Variety, Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide, and Hollywood Reporter (plus the web sites for those publications) as well as Aintit.cool.com, TVline.com & Deadline.com.