Two Tivos To Paradise 09.14.12: Sons of Anarchy, The Office, Community, Boardwalk Empire, The Voice, Arrow, and more!
Posted by Al Norton on 09.14.2012
News and thoughts on the record breaking season premiere of Sons of Anarchy, the week in premieres including the final season of The Office, the plan for American Idol changing again, and more!
Hello friends. Hope you had a wonderful week and that your fantasy football team started the year with a win (as mine did; thank you very much, Arian Foster). This is a big weekend for me as Mrs. Tivo and I will be attending the wedding of my oldest friend. I may have met Brian Mazmanian earlier but we became friends in Miss Hart's 5th grade class at the Lawrence School in Brookline and have been close for the 30+ years since, bonded by our love of The Greatest American Hero, 50's & 60's music, the Red Sox, and bad Dudley Moore movies, and then later in life by our work at City Year. More recently we've had the losses of our Mothers in common and this past week discussed how Gen and Joanie would be watching the ceremony this weekend from on high. Congratulations Brian and Jill!
Another week, another giveaway, this one the full 13 episode series of Terra Nova on DVD, including deleted scenes, multiple behind the scenes featurettes, commentary on certain episodes, plus the all important gag reel. Go to the Al Norton's Two Tivos To Paradise Facebook page, click "Like" if you have not already, and then post "TTTP Nova" on our wall and you're entered to win. Standard rules apply – one entry per person, one win every six months, must have a US or Canadian mailing address – and we'll choose a winner at random on Monday afternoon.
A new trailer for The CW's Arrow, premiering in October…
And TBS has given Cougar Town a January 8th premiere date…
Look at what's happened to news, I can't believe it myself.
I'm Coming Down, Coming Down Like A Monkey, But It's Alright
Two weeks ago the story broke that Jay Leno had taken a dramatic pay reduction in order to save the jobs of Tonight Show staffers as part of a massive layoff at the show by NBC's parent company Comcast. The Wall Street Journal then reported that the salary reduction by Leno was 50% - going from $30 million to $15 million for 2012 – and that the show's budget had been cut by 20%, costing roughly two dozen people their jobs. NBC confirmed that report this week and also made official that part of the deal with Leno was extending his contract for an additional two years, tying him to the Tonight Show through 2014. The network says the cuts were made in order to scale back the increases to the budget made in 2009 when the show became The Jay Leno Show in primetime.
There are two ways to look at this story, I suppose. There's the rose colored glasses view, where you come away thinking that Leno is a very nice guy to give up $15 million in salary to save the jobs of people who work for him, a staggering amount of money and a major loss of revenue no matter who you are. Then there's the other side, which I'll call the Howard Stern view, which says that Jay is the one who leaked these reports to make himself look good and he only took the lower salary because he got the two year extension out of it and that saved him a huge public embarrassment; with his deal up at the end of the year he was facing a huge pay cut and negotiations that could easily have gone public so by doing it this way the story isn't that his salary is now half of what it was, the story is he gave up half his pay to save jobs.
And don't for a second think that sort of thought process is beyond Leno; anyone who has read The Late Shift knows all about what he is capable of, including hiding in closets to listen to NBC executives meeting to discuss late night programming. FYI, if you have any interest in how the TV industry works and you haven't read Bill Carter's Late Shift, you should do so quickly as it's a classic.
The real question to come out of this is this; is the countdown to a new host of The Tonight Show now running? With Leno's contract up at the end of 2014, it strikes me as unlikely that NBC would extend him out for any great length of time from there, so will we be seeing a lot of stories about Jimmy Fallon taking over at the end of next year? If Community gets cancelled will Joel McHale take over on Late Night if Fallon moves up to 11:35? And don't forget that David Letterman and Craig Ferguson's contracts with CBS are up at the end of 2014 as well, so there could be a whole new batch of late night wars brewing up in the not-so-distant future.
Come to think of it, that may be the biggest story here, the potential for the late night talk scene to completely change come 2015, as three of the five hosts have expiring contracts, two of them likely to seriously contemplate retirement. Will the networks look to shake things up a bit, going with new, younger blood? Will we ever see a woman fronting a major network late night show? Come 2015, Jimmy Kimmel may be the elder statesman.
If You Notice Things Aren't What They Seem, I Drink To Give You Less Meaning
Bravo is developing multiple new scripted series, most notably an update of the 1980's cult classic Heathers which would find Veronica returning to her home town with her teenage daughter, who would have to deal with the Ashleys, the daughters of the surviving Heathers who are the next generation of mean girls. The project, written by The Big C creator Jenny Bicks, was in development at Fox several years ago but they ended up passing.
Other series Bravo is working on in include…
*22 Birthdays; from Suits' Doug Liman, following wealthy families in their personal lives via the frequently lavish birthday parties of their children.
*The Apartment; from Gossip Girl writer Jessica Queller, sisters inherit an apartment from their Mom who they find out was using it for an almost two decades long affair and then start to uncover more secrets about her life.
*The Darlings; from Light Out writer Stu Zicherman, about a rich NY family dealing with the fallout from a Ponzi-scheme scandal.
*All American Girls; about three generations of women working at a popular magazine for young women, based on a woman's real life experience writing for 17 Magazine.
*Rita; an adaptation of a Danish series from Grey's Anatomy writer Krista Vernoff, where a sharp tongued private school teacher raises three daughters while dealing with the faculty as well as the over protective parents at the school she works at.
It's interesting that Bravo has had such dramatic success with their reality programming (see what I did there?) yet hasn't launched even a single scripted series. To me the biggest obstacle the network faces is that pretty much all of their non-competition reality series featured such over-the-top characters and such a heightened level of reality that a scripted series would seem very tame by comparison.
I think the network made a mistake when they eliminated any and all scripted reruns from their lineup as it means the audience just won't think of them as a place for scripted series, making it harder for a new show to get any traction. Of course I am biased because the one show they did air for a long time was The West Wing, one of my all time favorites. It doesn't really fit with The Real Housewives of… but that was kind of the point, maybe someone came to the network for the reruns and while watching caught an ad for a new series they were interested in.
The Heathers reboot sounds interesting except it's 2012 and tough to playing bullying for laughs. Dark comedy, when done well, can be brilliant, but sustaining that tone over the course of a series is very difficult. Suburgatory does it a bit when it comes to the high school girls and it's quite funny but also nowhere near as strong as what was in Heathers. There's been no word on casting but I see no reason to think of why Wynonna Ryder wouldn't be available to reprise her starring role.
I Wish I Could Fly From This Building, From This Wall
The 2012-2013 TV season is upon us!!! For the next few weeks this will be a regular feature in the column, let you know which new series are premiering and which favorites are returning over the next seven days…
FRIDAY Shark Tank (ABC), 8pm
My favorite major network reality show is back with a whole host of new folks looking for cash to take their products wide. Adding Mark Cuban to the mix last year was a major success and I can't wait to see who tries to swim with the sharks this season. Am I the only one who still can't get, "I want to draw a cat for you" out of his head?!?!
Here's a Best of Kevin O'Leary video to whet your appetite…
MONDAY Bones (Fox), 8pm
Is Bones a cult show? I mean, I know it's got a good sized audience but it never seems to have fully broken through to go from being a hit show to a HIT show the way, say, Castle did two seasons ago. I like it enough but stopped being an every week viewer a few seasons back when it just stopped being particularly compelling to me, although Mrs. Tivo continues to be a HUGE fan.
The Mob Doctor* (Fox), 9pm
Easily one of the worst new shows of the season, The Mob Doctor is not only hopelessly generic but it also uses the one interesting bullet in its gun during the pilot (I don't want to give anything away but there is a major moral quandary the lead character finds herself in that should have been saved for later on down the road). The hospital drama parts of the show are truly awful, where as the mob/personal life portions are merely ludicrous. My pick for quickest drama pulled.
Revolution* (NBC), 10pm
I was pretty sold on Revolution by the end of the pilot, if only because ANY show with Giancarlo Esposito deserves to be watched AND it finally gives Billy Burke a series lead. There's good action sequences plus a nice balance of the small scale human drama along with the bigger, good versus evil, who turned the lights out story.
WEDNESDAY Survivor: Philippines (CBS), 8pm
I've got to admit I've simply never been a Survivor guy – the TV show, I mean. The band I love – but I tip my hat to them for having had such success over such an extended period of time. I also think their blending in of "celebrities" with regular contestants is genius as it doesn't turn off regular viewers but still gets the added attention that comes with such names. Blair from Facts of Life? Brilliant!
THURSDAY Up All Night (NBC), 8:30pm
I am so torn about Up All Night; the show I love is the one that exists in roughly 40 – 50% of the series, the show about a married couple raising a baby and adjusting to all the changes to their lives. The show I am not so crazy about is the workplace comedy with an over-the-top boss who is crazy but has a good heart. A little Ava goes a long way and Up All Night has WAY too much Ava for my liking.
The Office (NBC), 9pm
Good Lord, was last season of The Office terrible. Sure, there were moments here and there that worked but overall it was easily the weakest season in series history, so by that standard this new season, the show's final, has nowhere to go but up.
Parks and Recreation (NBC), 9:30pm
If you go back and watch the first season of Parks and Recreation you'll see a pretty funny show but nothing that gave you any indication that the level of greatness it has sustained the last two seasons was possible. It's a wonderfully warm show that works as satire, farce, romantic comedy, and even slapstick at times, thanks to a great cast and a sharp set of writers. I know the clip below is a couple of seasons old but it's still one of my favorites…
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 21 days…
The total audience for the MTV VMA's was down more than 50% from last year…America's Got Talent dropped to a demo SERIES low…The Rookie Blue season finale was up 33% from last week's series low and 20% from last year's finale…Big Brother was up 16% to win the night in the demos…NBC won the DNC coverage battle among the big three…
The Steelers – Broncos match up was the highest rated and second most watched game in NBC's Sunday Night Football history, with over 27.5 million total viewers, up 7% in the measure from last year…
MONDAY The Voice's season premiere easily dominated the night in totals and demos but was also the lowest rated/least watched season premiere in series history…Bachelor Pad was down 30% from last year's finale…Hell's Kitchen and MasterChef were down a smidge from last summer's finales…Katie was the most watched daytime talk show premiere in 10 years, with The Jeff Probst Show and The Ricki Lake Show putting up less-than-impressive debuts…The season premiere of Ellen was up 50% from last year…
The season premiere of Sons of Anarchy had an audience of 5.37 million people, making it the most watched episode in series history. Not only did it also set a series high in demos it was the most watched program with men 18 - 34 and men 18 - 49 on all of TV last night and won just about every key demo for the 10pm time slot on all of TV as well. The 90 minute season 5 kick off was the most watched telecast in men 18 - 34 and men 18 - 49 in FX history…The Voice was down from Monday night but still easily won the night in totals and demos…Go On did well at 9pm, up 42% from what NBC averaged in that spot last season. The network was also happy with The New Normal's performance at 9:30pm…Parenthood was down sizably in total viewers from last season's premiere but matched it's demos, and the total viewer number was up from the spring's season finale…So You Think You Can Dance matched last week's numbers…
WEDNESDAY The Voice topped The X-Factor in both totals and demos for the hour they went head-to-head, the former measure by more 40% and the latter by more than 20%. Overall they tied in the demos, which makes it likely that a chunk of The Voice audience switched over to The X-Factor after the former wrapped up at 9pm…America's Got Talent's finale performance episode was down 24% from last season, although, to be fair, last year wasn't going up against the season premiere of a popular reality competition series…
All The Young Dudes, Carry The News
Industry News, Notes, and Hot Rumors… NBC is developing a new autobiographical comedy from Community star Donald Glover that he would star in and has landed Matt Hubbard as the executive producer. Hubbard was in high demand for next season as he is coming off of 30 Rock's final run. This show would be in "second position" to Community, meaning it would only go forward if Community got cancelled…There was a last second change of plan at Fox and now Randy Jackson will return as a judge on American Idol, joining newbies Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, and Keith Urban when audition tapings begin at the end of the month. It has previously been reported that Enrique Iglesias would fill the final spot and Jackson would appear on the show as a mentor…CBS has made the decision to push back their primetime programming by 30 minutes on the Sundays where they air NFL doubleheaders. This is great news for folks using DVR's as it makes it much less likely that they will only end up with half a show because of a game running late. You'd still be smart to add 30 minutes to your recordings on those nights if you are watching 60 Minutes, Big Brother/The Amazing Race, The Good Wife, and/or The Mentalist…Good Morning America has beaten The Today Show in 8 of the summer's 10 weeks, with the only exceptions being during the Summer Olympics. GMA's margin of victory for the week that began with 8/27 was the show's largest since 1994 in both total viewers and the 25-54 demo…Adam Goldberg (Breaking In) has moved How the F--- am I Normal? - his coming-of-age comedy set in the 80's – from Fox to ABC. The project has been called "Wonder Years in the 80's"…NBC is developing the legal drama Vanishing Point, which Academy Award nominee Angela Bassett would star in and executive produce…TNT has ordered three drama pilots; Legends (executive produced by Howard Gordon and Alex Cary, who teamed up for Homeland as well, show follows a special agent who specializes in deep cover and who may not be who he thinks he is), Trooper (from Jerry Bruckheimer, about a single Mom who works as a NJ state trooper; previously this project was a pilot starring Mira Sorvino that CBS passed on two years ago), and King and Maxwell (NCIS showrunner Shane Brennan teaming with author David Baldacci to adapt Baldacci's novels about former secret service agents who team as private eyes) will all have pilots made this year in the hopes of getting on the network's 2013 schedule…The aforementioned Gordon and Cary also have teamed up to adapt the Icelandic legal drama Ritter, which has been described as "Jerry McGuire at a law firm"…The great Alfre Woodard has been cast as Sam's (Taye Diggs') Mom on Private Practice…John Shea is the latest crackerjack actor to sign on for a recurring role on The Good Wife...Rob Riggle will guest on New Girl as Schmidt's cousin who also goes by Schmidt…TTTP fave Mitch Pileggi has been bumped from guest star to series regular on the upcoming second season of Dallas…Wilmer Valdaramma will return to Suburgatory this fall…Debra Mooney (Everwood) will play a Supreme Court justice on multiple episodes of Scandal…Matt Long has signed for a recurring role on Private Practice…Craig Zadon and Neil Maron, who team together as executive producers on Smash, Drop Dead Diva, and NBC's upcoming live Sound of Music special, are developing White House Confidential, a drama set at the President's office/residence focused on the Commander In-Chief's new personal physician….MTV picked up a 20 episode third season of Ridiculousness…Jason Katims (Parenthood, Friday Night Lights) will write and executive produce the Fox pilot Anonymous, an action dramedy set at the CIA. Simon Kinberg, who wrote Sherlock Holmes, X-Men: The Last Stand, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, will also executive produce…CBS has committed to make a pilot for The Advocates, a legal drama about a lawyer and an ex-con who team up to help those in need from Bruno Heller, the creator of The Mentalist…Looks like USA will not be renewing Common Law for a second season; they let their options on the cast expire and the showrunner has moved on to an executive producer role on CBS' Elementary…Jason Biggs has joined the cast of Netflix' upcoming dramedy Orange is the New Black, based on the autobiography of a woman in her late 20's/early 30's who, because of relationship in college with a drug dealer, ends up sentenced to a multi-year stint in federal prison. Taylor Schilling (Mercy) plays the lead, with Weeds creator Jeni Kohan writing and executive producing…A&E picked up a 4th season of The Glades…The CW is developing Copeland High, a drama set at a top level prep school where the student body is turning into monsters. The high profile team behind the show includes executive producers Josh Schwartz (The OC, Chuck, Gossip Girl) and Stephanie Savage (Gossip Girl), writer Bret Easton Ellis, and Twilight director Katherine Hardwicke…Doug Ellin has finished his screenplay for an Entourage movie, which would be set six months after the series finale. The next step is for HBO executives to read it…
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…)
The best new thing I watched this week was a fan-made video featuring clips of Breaking Bad that show the true transformation of Walter White (and put into greater clarity the TV Hall of Fame worthy work by Bryan Cranston…
The actual best thing I watched this week was this Outside the Lines piece from last year, one of the best things the long running ESPN series has ever done and an amazing example of the power of the medium of TV to share important stories about real people that the audience would likely not know about otherwise…
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…Finally watched the Burn Notice mid-season finale and was happy they finally gave John C McGinley something good to do; his scenes with Sharon Gless were fantastic, more than worth the price of admission. What came at the very end of the episode was more of the same from the show - catch the bad guy only to have the reveal that this person is just a cog in the conspiracy machine and the real bad guy is someone higher up who betrayed Michael - but at least this time around Michael mentioned getting out of the business, which could be the new fire Burn Notice needs to extend its run…I know I've sung his praises before but I'm really enjoying Ben Shenkman's work on Royal Pains this season; he's already a "TTTP Favorite" but he's giving some real life to what could have a been a caricature. The scene where Evan asks Jeremiah about his feelings was endearing, funny, and a little painful all at once. This is what USA does so well, find just the right actors for supporting roles, which frequently is the difference between a series being average and getting a season pass…So very happy with the winner of MasterChef, although to be fair the challenger was so good I really couldn't have been upset if they went the other way. I am a huge fan of the reality competition show staple where contestants are reunited with their families after weeks away. Usually it's done in the semi final or final round and it's guaranteed to back an emotional punch…The Voice is just as entertaining as ever, producing lots of smiles and genuinely emotional moments on its first two nights while never wasting the audience's time with contestants who have no right to be on the stage/screen. The chemistry between the judges is as good as it gets in the genre, and Christina is showing no signs of rust, coming out of the gate in mid-season form when it comes to near wardrobe malfunction moments. Daniel Rosa's return was phenomenal; the judges were so genuinely happy to see him, which clearly blew him away, and Cee Lo remembering that he asked how to get better along with Adam's hug shows just how seriously the coaches take their jobs…I enjoyed The New Normal pilot but liked week two MUCH more, maybe because they didn't have to force some much plot down our throats and instead were able to let the characters breathe. The Grey Gardens thing may have gone over a lot of the audience's head but I thought it was inspired…Jeffrey Ross visiting a porn set on The Burn this week should have gotten more airtime; hell, it could have been the whole episode. There's no word yet on renewal but I am really hoping Comedy Central gives it a second season; it's incredibly funny and how expensive could it be to produce?!?!...I've written about it the last two weeks but now having had time to watch all of (and re-watch most of) The Daily Show's coverage of both political conventions over the last two weeks I am more sure than ever of the answer to the question, "what's your favorite show?"…The 90 minute Sons of Anarchy season premiere was harrowing at times, with Kip Coates deserve every bit of praise possible for making an impossible and horrific scenario seem real with his performance. We got a look at what will likely be the major players for the season and an inkling of the story, although Kurt Sutter is so good at what he does that the threads will likely come together in ways I would have never guessed. Jimmy Smits Nero got a wonderful introduction and it seems like this very talented actor has his best character in years…Loved Ray Romano on the Parenthood season premiere, an episode that was a little too overstuffed with plot as the show tried to make sure all the stories from last year got touched upon. I laughed and even cried a bit (the goodbye at the end was tough, especially for a parent who will have to deal with that sort of thing someday, even if very far off)…
TV Pick Of The Week
I admire any show that has the courage of its storyline convictions, in the case of Boardwalk Empire killing off a main character because that was really what the story called for. HBO's True Blood, The Newsroom, and Game of Thrones have more buzz but Boardwalk Empire is my favorite of their original dramas for its wonderful attention to detail and for its brilliant casting, including the addition of Bobby Cannavale for the new season.
Don't miss the season premiere of Boardwalk Empire, 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…
*Cable reality series Ghost Adventures (Travel) and The Ultimate Fighter (FX) return for new seasons tonight at 9pm. I tell you this because it's likely the only time those two shows will ever be mentioned in the same sentence.
*The series finale of Dog Whisperer airs Saturday at 8pm on Animal Planet.
*Notre Dame looks to go 3-0 when they take on Michigan State on Saturday at 8pm on ABC. Other college football action on the tube on Saturday include California at Ohio State (noon, ABC), TCU at Kansas (noon, FX), Navy at Penn State (3:30, ABC), Florida at Tennessee (8pm, ESPN), USC at Stanford (7:30pm, Fox), Texas at Mississippi (9:15pm, ESPN), and BYU at Utah (10pm, ESPN).
*The current season of Leverage (TNT) comes to a close on Sunday night with back-to-back episodes starting at 9pm.
*Starting Monday Are We There Yet? is on five nights a week in syndication. Ok, it may not have been award winning but it's a cute little family comedy, the kind the major broadcast networks seem to have forgotten how to make…(this trailer is from when the show premiered in its original run on TBS)…
*Peyton Manning makes it two national TV games in two weeks when the Broncos visit the Falcons on Monday Night Football (8:30pm, ESPN).
*Last week's season premiere of Parenthood (10pm, NBC) was good but it's nothing compared to this week's hour; have the handkerchiefs ready!
Two Tivos To Paradise 3 Days to Open with Bobby Flay, 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, Baby Daddy, The Big C, Boardwalk Empire, Being Human, Bent, Betty White's Off Their Rockers, Bones, Breaking Bad, Bunheads, Burn Notice, Cake Boss, Cake Boss: Next Great Baker, Chopped, Comic Book Men, Community, Cougar Town, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Deadliest Catch, Destination Truth, Don't Trust the B- in Apt 23, Fact or Faked, Falling Skies, Fairly Legal, Family Guy, Fast Food Mania, Flipping Out, Food Feuds, Food Network Challenge, Food Network Star, The Franchise, Ghost Hunters, Ghost Hunters Academy, Ghost Hunters International, Ghost Lab, Glee, Go On, Gossip Girl, Great Food Truck Race, Grey's Anatomy, Happy Endings, Haunted Highways, Haunted Treasure, Hawaii 5-0, Hell on Wheels, Hollywood Treasure, 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, Longmire, Lost Girl, Louie, Mad Men, Major Crimes, Men at Work, The Middle, Mike and Molly, Modern Family, Monster Man, Necessary Roughness, New Girl, The New Normal, 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, Saturday Night Live, Shark Wranglers, 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, 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 a big Emmy preview, a guide to a HUGE week in season/series premieres plus all the headlines from the last seven days!
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.