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Two Tivos To Paradise 12.20.13: WWE, The Walking Dead, Homeland, and more!
Posted by Al Norton on 12.20.2013

Hello friends; what's good? Welcome to the last full news edition of TTTP of 2013; that's right, we've got our picks for the Best of 2013 next week followed by our annual TTTP TV Entertainers of Year column on January 3rd, so this is it for TV headlines until January 10th. Not only did I lose my shoveling virginity for the season this past weekend, I even went back for sloppy seconds when we got another storm on Tuesday. I appreciate the workout but would prefer the sessions be more spread out as I need more recovery time now that I am older.

I know I plug the TTTP Facebook page quite a bit but one of the reasons I love it so much is all the interaction with my readers in a respectful forum. As an example, I took part in a half dozen or so FB conversations about Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson on Thursday and the one on the TTTP page was by far the most thoughtful and civil; yes, there were many different points of view, but there also seemed to be some listening going on, which is rare on the internet (or, for that matter, the planet). If you're reading this and you have a FB account, there's really no good reason why you shouldn't go to Al Norton's Two Tivos To Paradise and click "like."

How much did The Walking Dead dominate cable TV in 2013? 9 of the top 10 performances in the 18-49 and 25-54 demos were episodes of the AMC drama, and TEN of the TEN top performances in the 18-34 demo were Walking Dead hours. It also had five of the top ten most watched cable telecasts of the year, with the other four being sporting events and the Duck Dynasty season premiere. That tidbit gives me an excuse to run this best of Darryl video (more on The Walking Dead in a few paragraphs)…

Here's a clip from IFC's upcoming mini-series spoof of mini-series The Spoils of Babylon, which sports an all-star cast…

And here's a full length look at NBC's upcoming Chicago P.D.

Well you only miss the news when it's burning low.

Have You Ever Seen A One Trick Pony In The Field So Happy And Free?
Variety had a story saying WWE will shop all of its TV programming (Monday Night Raw, Smackdown, Main Event, Total Divas, Saturday Morning Slam) at the same time early next year in an effort to dramatically increase their current annual $139.5 million licensing fees. Up until this point the deals were all on separate timelines but they've spent the last two years lining everything up.

The story says WWE is comparing themselves to NASCAR, which airs 154 races a year with a predominantly white and over 50 audience, while the WWE airs 156 episodes of programming a year with an audience that is both larger and significantly more diverse. Since NASCAR just signed a 10 year deal with NBC and FS1 for a combined $820 million a year, WWE feels they are in line for a huge payday.

Because live shows do better with advertisers (they are much less likely to be DVR'd than taped/filmed series), WWE is letting suitors now they are open to Smackdown joining Raw as a live show every week.

The one hitch to a feeding frenzy is that NBCU still has the ability to retain Raw, Smackdown, & Total Divas if they accept WWE's offer (terms unknown but in order to forgo the open market, it's thought they are asking for an astronomical amount) by February 15th. If they pass, February 28th is the date final bids are due on the rights to the various shows (networks could bid for one, multiple, or all of the programs). A decision would be announced by March 4th.

The story also mentioned that the plans for a WWE channel are still on track, with these new deals important to its successful launch because the better platform/ratings for their programming, the larger the audience to push their new network. In order to further guarantee the channel gets off to a good start, the apparent plan is to air this year's WrestleMania and Summer Slam events on it, with subscribers watching for free (as in, for no additional charge other than the regular monthly fee).

Lately I Been, I Been Losing Sleep, Dreaming About The Things That We Could Be
The CW announced their winter plans, changing things up a bit on 3/5ths of their nights...

Mon, 1/17
8pm Star Crossed (series premiere)

9pm Beauty & The Beast (mid-season premiere)

Monday, 3/17
9pm The Tomorrow People (new night)

Wednesday, 3/19
9pm The 100 (series premiere)

Friday, 3/21
8pm Whose Line Is It Anyway (season premiere)

9pm Hart of Dixie (mid-season premiere, new night/time)

Clearly The CW feels like they know what their audience wants, namely teenage angst mixed in with heavy doses of science fiction. Of their new dramas, The 100 is the one that has the most potential, where Star Crossed just seems to be a pot of soup made of aspects of different shows, with Aimee Teagarden (Friday Night Lights) being the only reason to watch a second episode.

Old Man Wrigley Lived In That White House, Down The Street Where I Grew Up
Another shakeup on NBC's upcoming series Believe; the drama comes from the high profile team of Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity) and J.J. Abrams and is now on its third showrunner, the first left the show in July and his replacement is now gone, too, with the show's production on its holiday break a week early to give the writer's time to work on the scripts. Jonah Pate, whose resume includes Deception, Caprica, Bionic Woman, and Surface, is now in charge of the show, which is about a young girl who may be the key in the fight against evil in the world and the convict sprung from prison to protect her.

Usually these types of behind the scenes issues are a bad sign, and they might be here, too, but it also may be that NBC is really trying to get this project right since by the time it premieres this spring Cuaron will most certainly have another Oscar nomination to his name, and perhaps even a win, and Abrams is kind of a big deal, too. While The Blacklist is far and away the biggest new show of the year (and it's the top drama on all of network TV by the demo measure), they haven't had a lot of other luck with new shows, so this window is an important one.

I enjoyed the pilot, which was easily Mrs. Tivo's favorite this past summer, and while I didn't think it was there yet, the potential was clear.

A Little Bit Of Me And A Whole Lot Of You, Add A Dash Of Starlight And A Dozen Roses, Too
This week had a number of stories that didn't warrant their own full news item yet at the same time were a bit too important for the notes section…

*Frank Darabont and CAA (his agency) filed suit against AMC today over profits from The Walking Dead. Darabont, who helped develop the show, claims he has not seen one penny in the profits his contract entitled him and that the network is engaging in shady accounting and self-licensing deals to avoid showing positive revenue. The suit also says Darabont was fired from the show without cause and is seeking damages for that as well, claiming that because there was no cause, he should continue to get an executive producer credit on the show (and the financial compensation that goes with it) as well as on the spinoff/companion series in development.

*Matthew Perry is developing a new version of The Odd Couple for CBS that he will co-write, executive produce, and star in (as Oscar), with veteran TV writer Danny Jacobson (Mad About You, Two Guys A Girl & A Pizza Place, Rosanne, Soap) tackling the script with him

*We told you a while back that NBC was partnering up with Mark Burnett and Roma Downey for A.D., a mini-series sequel to their record breaking The Bible, and now comes the announcement that the network has given a 12 hour order to the project, which will likely air in the first half of 2015. No word yet on if it will be two hours a night over six nights (and/or if those six nights would be spread out over one week, two weeks, or even six weeks).

It's Time To Play The Music, It's Time To Light The Lights
The Muppets video of the week…

But You Were Up To Your Old Tricks In Chapters Four Five And Six
Ratings Notes From The Last Seven Days…

The Big Bang Theory was up double digits in totals and demos to win the night in both measures, with lead-out The Millers up 20+% in both...Grey's Anatomy was up 20% in total viewers and 17% in the demos, winning 9pm in the latter...Scandal was up all around, winning 10pm in the demos...The Sing-Off was down 20% from Wednesday (which was down 25% from Monday) but still topped The X Factor at 8pm...Elementary was up 14% in viewers and even in the demos...Parenthood and The Michael J Fox Show both matched last week, as did The Vampire Diaries...

Shark Tank won the night in demos while Blue Bloods was the most watched show of the night...Undercover Boss won 8pm in totals and demos...Lots of shows down this week; Hawaii 5-0 & Blue Bloods each dropped 20% in the demos, Grimm's two hours were down 24% & 25% from its last new episode, and The Carrie Diaries (-13%) and Nikita (-26%) had sizable total audience drops...

The Homeland season finale hit a series high in total viewers with 2.4 million for the 9pm showing and 2.9 million for the evening (the latter also a new one night total viewer high)... Sunday Night Football won the night in totals and demos, albeit down from last week...All four of Fox's animated programs were up double digits in the demos, with Family Guy enjoying the best non-sports demos of the night...The Survivor finale matched last spring and was the night's most watched non-football program...OUAT tied a demo low...Revenge was down a smidge...Betrayal enjoyed modest gains in totals and demos...

The Voice won the night in totals and demos (but down from the last two season's final performance nights)...HIMYM dropped to a season low while 2 Broke Girls was down 15%...The Sing Off was down a bit from last Monday but up in a big way from its other two outings last week, easily winning 10pm in the demos...Almost Human was down 11%...The Christmas Light Fight was down 15% in week two...Hostages enjoyed modest gains in total viewers and demos at 10pm...

The Voice was down 12% in totals and demos from cycle but still easily won the night in the latter…The Biggest Loser was up double digits in viewers...NCIS won the night in total viewers with 19.4 million but tied a season demo low...NCIS: LA (aka the biggest hit show no one ever talks about) matched last week...Person of Interest was down a smidge in the demos (to be expected going up against The Voice finale)...

In the latest example of why The X Factor is quite likely on its way out, the final performance night (usually a ratings winner on a reality competition show) lost to The Sing-Off and was down 40% in total viewers and a whopping 52% in the demos from that night last year...Barbara Walter's Most Fascinating People special matched last year's demos while hitting a three year high in total viewers...Michael Buble's holiday special topped Celine Dion's (they weren't head to head but still), the former single digits from last year and the latter dropping 25% from last December...

All The Young Dudes, Carry The News
Industry News, Notes, and Hot Rumors…Prince fan site DrFunkenberry.com was the first to report that the musical legend/icon would guest as himself on the episode of New Girl set to air after the Super Bowl this February, with Adam Sandler playing himself on the episode of Brooklyn Nine Nine that airs following New Girl. Apparently Prince is a big fan of the show and reached out to producers a while back asking about doing an appearance, his first ever on a scripted TV series…Linda Cardellini, fresh off her Emmy nominated guest run on Mad Men, has signed on for a recurring role on New Girl as Jess' wild sister Abby. The Freaks & Geeks and ER alum will make her first appearance during February sweeps… NBC will launch the first ever The Sing-Off Live Tour! in February, with the winners plus fellow season four contestants bringing their vocal stylings to 32 dates across the country. Each show include individual sets by each group along with group numbers and sing off's. Visit singofftour.com for more info…The 13 episode run of season eight of Hardcore Pawn didn't start until Tuesday night but on Monday truTV doubled its order, bringing the season eight total to 26. Season 7 averaged 2.3 million viewers per episode earlier in 2013…Norty Award winner Cheryl Hines (Suburgatory) will guest on The Crazy Ones… Portia de Rossi booked a three episode stint on Sean Saves the World… Rob Cordrry (Childrens Hospital) will co-star with Dwayne Johnson in the HBO pilot Ballers, a comedy about current & former pro athletes in Miami (Johnson is a former pro-football player and Corddry his new boss. The project is executive produced by Mark Wahlberg and Steve Levinson, with Peter Berg directing the pilot and Evan Reilly (The Walking Dead, Rescue Me) serving as showrunner if it gets picked up… Discovery has given a first season order to The West, a scripted series executive produced by Robert Redford that the press release says will "provide unprecedented access into the wilderness, frontier lawlessness and bloodshed of the 40 years between the end of the American Civil War and after the turn of the 20th century, when the west was won." The show will featured original characters interacting with legends of the west like Wyatt Earp, Jesse James, Crazy Horse, and Buffalo Bill. Look for it in late 2014…GSN has picked up a first season of It Takes a Church, a new reality competition show where members of different congregations try to fix up a single member of their church, with the one who finds success winning a donation to their house of worship. This is not the network's first religion based series; The American Bible Challenge is their highest rated original series ever, with season three bowing next month…NBC has ordered a pilot for a sketch comedy/variety show from David Koechner (Anchorman, The Office), which he would star in and executive produce as well. This is the second such project the network is working on, ordering a pilot for a variety show from Maya Rudolph last month... When Michael Rappaport got replaced on The Millers this summer (while the show was between pilot and series premiere) he might not have realized what a blessing it would be; since then he's landed a big role on the upcoming season of Justified and now he's been cast as one of the leads in Ed Burn's 70's cop drama Public Morals on TNT…

Turns Out Not Where But Who You're With That Really Matters
AKA The Best Thing I've Watched In The Last Seven Days…
While I wasn't sure exactly how it would happen, the major plot point in the Homeland season finale seemed to me an obvious conclusion. Don't keep reading if you haven't watched yet…

Ok, here we go…Brody HAD to die. There was really no way the show could continue with him as a character and resemble anything close to logic (I know, I know). His was a tragic character, and those usually don't find happy endings. In this case he did find peace, and that was really the best he – and we as the audience – could have hoped for.

Much of the last 15 minutes seemed like it could have been lifted from a series finale and in many ways it was; with Brody gone, the next season of Homeland will be a very different show and the way the ended it will make for a cleaner/stronger fresh start next fall.

This season was a good one overall, with some episodes extremely good and some just ok, but there is no doubt that Homeland is still among the best dramas on all of television. What happens next year will determine whether or not the show can continue this hall-of-fame pace or will begin its descent into the world of show's that achieved a period of greatness and then lived off of that for a few more years.

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 was not a big fan of this past week's SNL but the above sketch did make me laugh…Sometimes when watching TV I'll grab a notepad to write down the name of someone whose work is so strong I want to make sure to remember it come Norty Award time, and that was the case when watching James Saito's performance in last Monday's Hawaii 5-0, easily the best hour of the season from the CBS procedural and just as easily one of the standout guest spots of 2013… It's in no way a coincidence that almost all of HIMYM's most enjoyable episodes of this final season have included The Mother; some of it is because now that we've met her, the episodes without her feel like filler but most of it is because of how Cristin Milioti's performance makes us realize just how perfect the character is for Ted and that our time invested over the years hasn't been wasted. Also of note were the Ted - Barney scenes, in particular when Barney realizes why it is Ted is moving…Thrilled with the outcome - with the entire first season - of Restaurant Express. As I mentioned before, I hope Food Network has cameras following the winner as I think that restaurant coming together would be worth watching, even if just as a one hour special to lead into season two of Restaurant Express (hasn't been renewed yet but come on, that's a great idea in that it establishes the true stakes of the show!!). Robert Irvine has become one of my real favorites, with his passion never crossing over into anger, and his goal of truly helping chefs/restaurants get better never being in doubt… I complained last week about how Grey's Anatomy viewing had become about routine as opposed to genuine interest/excitement in the show and then they go and do a killer mid-season finale (no new episodes until February) that pulled me right back in; emotionally compelling cases-of-the-week, surgeries gone oh-so-wrong, passionate kisses, lifelong commitments, fighting, making up, and a declaration of love at the end that paid beautiful tribute to a character who passed away. Oh, and a great (and straight, as in totally un-ironic) cover of Total Eclipse of the Heart. I need to find out what happens next, STAT!!!... Lost in all the talk/shock about the end of the Sons of Anarchy season finale was the deserved praise for yet another brilliant performance by Jimmy Smits; Nero is one of my favorite characters on all of TV right now because of the passion Smits brings to the role and the way he conveys his inner conflict/torment… At this point it seems highly unlikely The Crazy Ones won't find a place on my upcoming list of The Best Comedies of 2013; this ensemble cast is clicking on all cylinders and I am laughing out loud every episode at both the big jokes and the little ones. This is a great adult comedy, mining things like sexuality and addiction for humor without being offensive (and also without being too silly/dirty)…

TV Pick Of The Week
College football bowl season is finally here; here's a rundown of the games over the next seven days…

SATURDAY: New Mexico Bowl (2pm, ESPN), New Mexico State – Colorado State; Las Vegas Bowl (3:30pm, ABC), Fresno State – USC; Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (5:30 pm, ESPN), Buffalo – San Diego State; New Orleans Bowl (9pm, ESPN), Tulane – Louisiana Lafayette

MONDAY: St Petersburg Bowl (2pm, ESPN) East Carolina – Ohio University

TUESDAY: Hawaii Bowl (8pm, ESPN), Boise State – Oregon State

THURSDAY: Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl (6pm, ESPN), Pittsburgh – Bowling Green; Poinsettia Bowl (9:30pm, ESPN), Utah State – Northern Illinois

Don't miss the start of college football bowl season, kicking off on Saturday!

Hope You Need My Love, Babe, Just Like I Need You
Other noteworthy programming from the coming week…

*CBS has taken a lost episode of I Love Lucy, colorized it, and is airing it tonight at 8pm as a holiday special.

*NBC airs the holiday classic It's A Wonderful Life this Saturday at 8pm (and then again Wednesday night)…

*Something tells me ABC's airing of the classic musical The Sound of Music this Sunday at 7pm will get higher ratings than usual…

*The Sing Off (NBC) crowns a winner with a two hour finale this Monday at 8pm, followed by a special holiday edition of Hollywood Game Night.

*24 hours of The Christmas Story on TBS starts Tuesday night at 8pm.

*Modern Family fans looking for something watch on Christmas Eve will want to check out USA's nine episode marathon, which beings at 9pm.

*BBC America celebrates Christmas with its annual Doctor Who special, which this year is also Matt Smith's last episode…

Two Tivos To Paradise
@Midnight, After the Catch, American Idol, Antiques Roadshow, Archer, Arrow, Around the World in 80 Plates, Auction Hunters, Baby Daddy, Back in the Game, Boardwalk Empire, Being Human, Bones, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Burger Land, Cake Boss, Cake Boss: Next Great Baker, Chicago Fire, Chopped, Comic Book Men, Community, Cougar Town, Counting Cars, The Crazy Ones, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Dancing with the Stars, The Deadliest Catch, Deon Cole's Black Box, Destination Truth, Falling Skies, Family Guy, Feed the Beast, Flipping Out, Food Network Challenge, Food Network Star, The Fosters, Ghost Hunters, Ghost Lab, Ghost Mine, Glee, Graceland, Great Food Truck Race, Grey's Anatomy, Haunted Collector. Haunted Highway, Haunted Treasure, Hawaii 5-0, Hostages, House of Lies, How I Met Your Mother, Inside Comedy with David Steinberg, Inside Amy Schumer, Iron Chef America, Justified, Key & Peele, Killer Contact, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Law And Order: Special Victims Unit, The League, Longmire, Lost Girl, Louie, Mad Men, Major Crimes, Masters of Sex, Men at Work, The Michael J Fox Show, The Middle, Mike and Molly, The Mindy Project, Modern Family, Monster Man, Nashville, Necessary Roughness, New Girl, The New Normal, Next Iron Chef, The Originals, Outside the Lines, Parks & Recreation, Project Runway, Psych, Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook Off, Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook Off, Raising Hope, Ray Donovan, Real Time With Bill Maher, Rectify, Restaurant Impossible, Revenge, Revolution, Royal Pains, Saturday Night Live, Shark Wranglers, So You Think You Can Dance?, Sons of Anarchy, The Soup, Suits, Suburgatory, Supernatural, Top Chef, Top Chef Just Desserts, Top Chef: Masters, Tosh.0, Trophy Wife, The Vampire Diaries, The Voice, The Walking Dead, Warehouse 13, 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 picks for the Best Shows of 2013. I hope everyone who celebrates has a wonderful Christmas!

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.


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