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Two Tivos To Paradise 1.24.13: American Idol, Parks and Recreation, Marvel, the NFL, More
Posted by Al Norton on 01.24.2014

Hello friends; what's good? This week had the Boston blizzard that wasn't, but school still got cancelled on Wednesday so I was at home with the twins, which is in many ways better than being in the office and in others makes me appreciate the company of fellow adults that much more. Yes, my Patriots lost on Sunday but they did so to a better team, so I was not particularly upset, especially since I got to spend the afternoon with three of my oldest and best friends, chowing on pizza and making fun of each other in the ways that only people who knew you when you had a ponytail can.

This isn't TV but it's far and away the funniest thing I watched this week…

And now we give you teaser for two shows coming this summer. First up is FX's The Strain

And CBS's Extant

Do you want to news a snowman?

Word On The Street, You Got Something To Show Me, Me
NBC used the occasion of its TCA presentations to make a number of announcements regarding current and future programming (mixed in with trailers that the network hopes will lead to avoiding the second half of the season collapse that happened last winter/spring)…

*Parks and Recreation was picked up for 2014-2015, the comedy's seventh season.

*The guests for the final week of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno were revealed;
Mon 2/3 - Jimmy Fallon & Betty White (her 19th appearance with Jay)
Tues 2/4 - Matthew McConaughey, Charles Barkley, & Lyle Lovett.
Wed 2/5 - Sandra Bullock & Blake Shelton
Thu 2/6 - Jay's Finale Episode - Billy Crystal (who was Jay's first guest when he took over The Tonight Show the first time) & Garth Brooks.

*The opening night guests for The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon (Mon, 2/17) will be Will Smith and U2, and one week later Amy Poehler will be first out on Late Night with Seth Myers.

*Peter Pan Live! will be the live musical special this year, following up on the huge ratings success of last year's The Sound of Music Live!.

*Legendary TV producer Dick Wolf announced that the crossovers between Chicago Fire and Chicago PD would continue this year, and that Law & Order: SVU would be included as well, first via a couple of scenes PD's Sophia Bush is flying to New York to film this week and then via a big storyline at the end of the season that involves all three shows. The goal is to blend the worlds in a way that makes someone who watches one want to watch/feel comfortable watching all three.

*The network ordered a pilot for State of Affairs, executive produced by and starring Emmy winner Katherine Heigl as a CIA attaché who works as an adviser to the President, balancing her intense and complicated job with a sometimes equally twisty personal life. Joe Carnahan, who wrote The Grey and is a writer/executive producer on The Blacklist (including penning the excellent two part Anslo Garrick episode), is writing and directing.

*They gave a 10 episode order to Emerald City, a modern version of The Wizard of Oz, with the official logline from the network reading, "A head-strong 20-year-old Dorothy Gale is unwittingly sent on an eye-opening journey that thrusts her into the center of an epic and bloody battle for the control of Oz."

*They ordered a pilot for Old Soul, co-created by Amy Poehler and starring Natasha Lyonne as a mid-30's woman trying to find her way in the world while working as a home aide to a group of elderly people who have no shortage of opinions on what she should be doing with her life.

*Bill Cosby is re-teaming with producer Tom Werner for a new family comedy in development at NBC. The show, which is in the project of hiring writers, would find Cosby playing the patriarch of a multi-generational family, putting him in plenty of situations where he could give voice to his take of parenting, marriage, the way teens behave, and more.

Smooth As Cream, She's A Young Boy's Dream, She's A Hot Rollercoaster On A Video Screen
Reaper creators Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas have come on board ABC's newest Marvel project, a series focused on Peggy Carter (aka Captain America's girlfriend in the first movie). The show is inspired by/a spinoff of Agent Carter, a short film available on the Iron Man 3 DVD, that follows character as she becomes a secret agent (after Captain America is frozen solid). Haley Atwell, who played Carter in the movie and the short, has been confirmed as playing the role in this project as well. Butters & Fazekas currently are working as showrunners on ABC's limited series Resurrection, which premieres in March. Based on network President Paul Lee's words and overall enthusiasm expressed this week, it looks like it's a lock for the fall lineup. The action/period drama is set one year after Captain America: The First Avenger and follows Carter on her road to becoming a top flight secret agent.

It seems clear that Marvel's strategy when it comes to these shows is to set them in the superhero universe without making them superhero shows, which is smart of various levels in that it allows them to tread on the established brand but with series that don't break the budget the way a top quality superhero show would.

Allow me to again go on a rant about all the Agents of SHIELD hate; if you don't like the show because you don't like the acting or the writing, that's fine – no rules about who has to like what – but the majority of criticism I read/hear is about how it's not a superhero show, which is was never meant to be. Oh sure, there will be the occasional crossover, but the show is never going to be The Avengers: The Series, so judging it by those standards is like going out for a burrito and saying it's bad because it's not pizza-y enough. I like the show well enough, with the last two episodes being a huge improvement, and it's a lock for a second season, so folks should either get used to it or stop watching because the whining is getting old.

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…

American Idol handily won the night in totals and demos, but it's not all good news for Fox as the show's demos were a series low for night two, down 32% from last season's second outing...VERY bad night for NBC's comedies, with Community, Parks & Rec, and Sean Saves the World all down roughly 20% and The MJF Show down 40% to a season/series low...The Taste was down 31%...A Shark Tank rerun doubled the demos The Assets put up in the spot last week...Number two on the night in totals and demos behind only Idol? A Big Bang Theory rerun on CBS...

As usual, Shark Tank won the night in the demos, matching last week's season high...Undercover Boss won 8pm in totals and demos, up slightly in the latter from last week...Grimm and Dracula were both up in the demos...Enlisted was down in week two, the lowest demo performer on the big 4 last night...Blue Bloods was the most watched show of the night... 5.1 million watched the premiere Cloud 9 on Disney Friday night. It was the second most watched telecast of any kind of the 2013-2014 season with the 2-11 and 6-11 demos. It was also the most watched cable telecast of the evening.

Lifetime's Flowers in the Attic was watched by 6.1 million viewers on Saturday night, their most watched original movie since 2012...

The final numbers for yesterday's NFL Conference Championship Games are in and they are astounding; CBS' Patriots - Broncos coverage averaged 51.3 million viewers, the highest average the network has had for an AFC Championship Game in 32 years and an improvement of 22% from last year's early game on Championship Sunday. The 49'ers - Seahawks game on Fox averaged 55.9 million viewers, the best non-overtime NFC Championship game on Fox since 1995…The Following enjoyed the NFC Championship game as a lead-in to the tune of series highs in total viewers and demos in its season two premiere, up 38% from the series premiere and 63% from the season final last spring...Betrayal tied a series low with its series finale...Revenge was down 19% to tie a new series low...NBC's airing of Bridesmaids topped CBS' night of reruns in the battle for 3rd place on the night...The season premiere of Sherlock was watched by 4 million viewers, a 25% increase from the season two debut and a series high here in the states. Its Downton Abbey lead-in had 8.4 million viewers…

Discovery's Klondike gave the channel its best Monday primetime numbers ever with total viewers - 3.4 million - and it's best numbers with men 18+ and with all people 25-54 in over a decade...HIMYM won the NIGHT in demos for the second week in a row...The Blacklist was down to a new series low but still easily won 10pm in demos...The Bachelor matched last week's totals and demos...Intelligence was down in totals and demos to again finish a distant third in both at 10pm...Hollywood Game Night was up from its holiday outing but down a good measure from what the American Ninja Warrior special put up in that spot last week...The Sleepy Hollow season finale was up in totals and demos...Mike & Molly and Mom were down double digits in the demos...

Strong night for Fox, with Dads (+ 22% in total viewers, 25% in demos), Brooklyn Nine-Nine (29% in total viewers, 36% in demos), New Girl (16% in total viewers, 13% in demos), and The Mindy Project (20% in total viewers, 36% in demos) all enjoying double digit gains. Brooklyn topped New Girl in the demos for the first time ever, tying The Biggest Loser for best on the night...Without a New SHIELD as a lead-in, The Goldbergs was down double digits and Trophy Wife hit a series low...Supernatural was up 20+% in total viewers to its most watched episode since October of 2010...The Originals was up in totals and demos...Killer Women matched last week's terrible numbers, but not dropping has to be seen as somewhat of a victory for ABC...The Biggest Loser had a modest demo increase while Chicago Fire was even with last week (with Person of Interest a rerun, I would have thought they'd have seen some improvement)...

American Idol won the night in totals and demos, up 15% from last week's premiere (although still down from this night last year), which says something about the power of positive word of mouth...Revolution was up double digits in totals and demos...SVU was up 22% in total viewers and 29% in the demos...Chicago PD was up 15% in viewers and a small increase in demos...The Middle had a great night, up 22% in the demos, with lead-out Suburgatory up over last week's season premiere...Modern Family had the night's best scripted demos...Oddly, CBS was down, with CSI dropping 20% in the demos at 10pm...

All The Young Dudes, Carry The News
Industry News, Notes, and Hot Rumors…The Wall Street Journal is reporting that ABC, CBS, Fox, and Turner have all submitted official bids to the NFL for the 6 - 8 game Thursday night package they are offering up for a one year deal. Currently the 13 game Thursday night schedule is on NFL Network, which will retain 5 - 6 games on their own and will simulcast the other games as well (this is a sticking point for the NFL). NBC President Bob Greenblatt did not comment when asked if they had submitted an offer as well but it's assumed if they had not at that time, they would be doing so shortly. The league is said to prefer going with one of the big four as that will lead to the highest ratings and therefore more cash at this time next year when they offer the games as part of a multi-year deal. NBC's Sunday Night Football averaged 21 million viewers last season and was the # 1 show on TV in total viewers in demos…In major daytime TV news, TTTP Queen Alison Sweeney announced she is leaving Days of Our Lives at the end of 2014, bringing her run as Sami Brady to a close after 21 years. She's been hosting The Biggest Loser for the last 7 years and her second novel comes out this spring, so it's not like she's hurting for opportunities, but this decision is about her family; "I've been on Days of our Lives since I was 16 years old and I have never had more than a two-week vacation in that whole time. I mean, it's so awesome. I love Sami, I love Salem, I love my job, I love daytime, I love the fans, I love everything about it. I've worked so much and my daughter just turned five and my son is nine and I just want to be with them and enjoy my last year"…Jesse L Martin (Law & Order) will co-star in The CW pilot The Flash, playing a cop who is a surrogate Dad for Grant Gustin's Barry Allen (aka The Flash)…Rashida Jones' first post-Parks and Recreation on-camera TV gig (she is writing/producing other projects) will be starring in the TBS comedy pilot Tribeca, written by Steve and Nancy Carrell, with the former directing as well. The series is a spoof of police procedurals, with Jones character a season veteran of the LAPD's RHCU - Really Heinous Crimes Unit - forced to take a partner for the first time…ABC has given a straight to series order (i.e. skipping the pilot stage of the development process) for an untitled drama series from five time Oscar nominated filmmaker David O. Russell (American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook) and Oscar nominated writer Susannah Grant (Erin Brakovich). The show is set at a very upscale country club and focuses on both its members and the people who work there. This is Russell's first TV project, while Grant has worked on A Gifted Man and Party of Five. The 13 episode first season will likely be a part of the network's fall lineup…The winners at last week's SAG Awards included Breaking Bad (Drama Ensemble), Modern Family (Comedy Ensemble), Bryan Cranston (Drama Actress), Maggie Smith (Drama Actress), Ty Burrell (Comedy Actor), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Comedy Actress), Michael Douglas (TV Movie/Mini-Series Actor), and Helen Mirren (TV Movie/Mini-Series Actress)...We told you a couple of weeks ago that Zoe Saldano would star in NBC's four hour Rosemary's Baby mini-series and now comes word that Suits' Patrick J Adams has signed on for the male lead and that Jason Isaacs (Awake) would also be in the cast…Oscar winner Mary Steenburgen has joined the cast of Justified in a recurring role; her first appearance will be in episode 10 of the current season…Amazon is developing a series version of Barbarella, a character best known for Jane Fonda's portrayal of her in a campy 1968 sci-fi movie. The script comes from Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who have teamed up to write a bunch of James Bond movies (Skyfall, Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Die Another Day, The World is Not Enough).,, Ken Burns shows no signs of slowing down; the award winning documentary filmmaker has his latest work - The Address (about a group of students memorizing The Gettysburg Address - trust me, it's way more than those few words) - premiering in April on PBS, with I Can't Stop Loving You, a long form history of country music, looking at a 2018 air date. Other projects in the works include pieces on Jackie Robinson, The Vietnam War, and Ernest Hemingway, the latter tentatively set to run in 2019…HBO is developing Higher, a comedy set in the world of electronic music that has an impressive group of executive producers, including Will Smith, Jay-Z, DJ Calvin Harris, and Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, who wrote the pilot with the help of Harris.

Turns Out Not Where But Who You're With That Really Matters
AKA The Best Thing I've Watched In The Last Seven Days…
We're only three weeks in but Harry Connick, Jr. already looks like a favorite to make the 2014 TTTP TV Entertainers of the Year list; I could go on and on about his work on the first four hours of the new season of American Idol, how seems to already be the best judge in singing competition show history and how his mix of knowledge, charm, humor, and heart are remarkable, but the highest way to praise him is this - for the first time in years, I want to watch Idol again.

While "Harsh/Hatchet Harry" is a big difference this season, he's not the only change; the potential candidates are getting longer to sing, there are much fewer wastes of time who take the stage (some who are bad but very few who come in just to say they were there), and the overall attitude from all three judges seems to be to offer constructive criticism along with giving out the golden tickets.

There's a much warmer overall tone to the show so far the season along with a genuine camaraderie among the judges, both of which Idol has been sorely lacking for several years now. Ratings are still a mixed bag in that they are winning their nights with ease but are down from last year; once word gets out that the show is back to being about finding talented singers and helping them on the path to potential stardom instead of just being about the name/franchise/business of American Idol, viewers will come back. Actually, Wednesday night's numbers were up 15% over the week before, so word is clearly getting out. Hey, I watched the full first four hours for the first time in three years, so it's clearly working!

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 twenty eight days…I know I've complained about it before but I truly do not understand why reality shows insist on recapping what just happened after returning from a commercial break of less than 300 seconds; do they save money by the episodes ending up being a minute or two shorter? Do they really think the audience's attention spans are that short? Can you imagine how weird it would be if scripted series starting doing the same thing, with comedies coming back from commercial by repeating the joke we just saw, or a big dramatic moment from the likes of The Good Wife?...While I suppose I have to give Intelligence credit for going a different route with their pacing, I still feel like the whole show feels rushed, in particular the whole Vaughn's dead-not dead-dead wife, which feels like we had a season's worth of story packed into two hours. I get that the idea is this will be what allows Gabriel to move on with his life but we didn't get enough time to see him not moving on for it to mean anything. Also, the dialogue being so wooden that the show should be sponsored by Cialis isn't helping matters…Loved TTTP fave Robert Knepper's guest spot on Hawaii 5-0 this week; usually he plays villains (Prison Break, Cult, The Blacklist) but he's much better when he plays someone who firmly believes what he's doing is right, regardless of who gets hurt, as he did on Heroes and again last Friday on 5-0. I'd love to see him on Gotham, or better yet the Boston/FBI/Whitey Bulger-inspired drama Ben Affleck is executive producing (and directing the pilot of) for Fox. And he'd be PERFECT as the boss on the Law & Order: Internal Affairs show I pitched last week... Clearly the geographic stereotypes are accurate; everyone, from the judges to the contestants, is REALLY nice on Chopped Canada. It's perhaps the single most laid back reality competition show on TV right now, and I mean that in a nice way…It's not often the spinoff show is better than the original but I have been enjoying Bakery Boss WAY more than Cake Boss this season, the former featuring real people dealing with real struggles, and a much different version of Buddy, one where he really comes across as both an expert and someone who genuinely wants to help. Contrast that with Cake Boss, where so much seems put on for the camera and at this point, so rote…With some new shows I get only the pilot to watch early, so I may really enjoy it and share those feelings with you but then I am always holding my breath for week two, wondering if the quality holds up, which is why I was SO happy with last Friday's Enlisted, another funny and heartwarming half hour. While comparing it to Scrubs sustained quality is of course the very definition of premature, the overall tone is pretty similar. Please give Enlisted a shot - it's worth it!!!... I can't tell if my standards have dropped because of how mediocre the current season has been but Tuesday's New Girl was (finally) pretty solid, with some funny bits and a genuinely heartwarming ending (leaving aside, of course, that there's no way Nick could have pulled off the logistics of that surprise party)… I'm not saying the rest of this week's Brooklyn Nine-Nine wasn't good but I could watch a half hour of nothing but Andy Samberg doing Andre Braugher impressions and chest bumping Terry Crews and would be HIGHLY entertained…My favorite part of Monday's HIMYM may have been the fight between Marshall and Lily, the most honest and true piece of writing of the season. Doesn't make up for how bad the couple has been treated by the writers this season but it's a good step towards them finishing strong…Dear Nashville's Scarlett, you may be the single most annoying character on all of TV right now, or at least on a show that I genuinely like otherwise. Hey sister, if you want to be a star in the music industry it requires a LOT of work, and if you are that unhappy then go back to waiting tables, because there are SO MANY people who would trade places with you in a heartbeat. Sometimes in life, whether you're a singer or a car salesman or a chef, you have to do things that are hard, that may cause some inner emotional turmoil, and you deal with it because frankly, THAT"S LIFE. And never, EVER talk to Rayna that way again. Love, Al…While there are shows I have loved that didn't find a huge audience (say, Community), and shows that were killed by their networks before the world could discover their greatness (Terriers, Lone Star, to name but two), the show that has been on the longest but has yet to get the proper spotlight has to be Archer. It's one of the funniest on TV for 3+ seasons running and yet never gets any publicity or buzz come awards season...

TV Pick Of The Week
Ann (Rashida Jones) and Chris (Rob Lowe) say goodbye to Pawnee, IN this Thursday on Parks and Recreation, a well-time farewell as its gives the just renewed for a 7th season comedy between now and May to establish how the show will go on, whether it's with current characters getting more of the spotlight or new blood being brought in.

Lowe's Chris Traeger is one of the best and most surprisingly entertaining additions to an existing comedy in recent memory – sure, I knew he was a talented actor but it's not like he'd been doing a ton of comedy leading up to this – and I will literally miss him to death, although the show's biggest challenge will be to find someone who works as well with Amy Poehler as Jones did, with their friendship being wonderfully quirky and believable.

Don't miss Parks and Recreation, Thursday at 8:30pm on NBC.

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

*Not sure yet if tonight's Dracula finale is going to be of the season or series variety but the more of you who watch, the more likely it's the former.

*AMC is running The Godfather this Saturday at 5:30pm, followed by The Godfather Part II at 9:30pm. You're welcome.

*SNL Presents: Sports All-Stars (Saturday, 9pm) is a two hour collection of the sketch comedy series favorite sports-themed moments. A half hour after it ends, Jonah Hill hosts a new episode.

*LL Cool J is back as front man for the 56th Annual Grammy Awards this Sunday at 8pm, the highlight of which is likely to be the quartet of Blake Shelton, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Merle Haggard performing together, although if the rumored Paul McCartney – Ringo Starr reunion happens, all bets are off.

*Talk about reality shows being self-sustaining; Hotel Impossible Undercover (Monday, 10pm, Travel) is s a new show where Anthony Melchiorri sneaks back into hotels he tried to make better on Hotel Impossible to see how they are doing. And when he goes back a third time it can be Hotel Impossible Undercover Revisited.

*Reelz is getting its reality on with The Capones, a new show where descendants of legendary mobster Al Capone run an Italian restaurant.

*American Horror Story: Coven (FX) comes to a close Wednesday at 10pm.

*White Collar (USA) wraps up its current season this Thursday at 9pm.

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, Bakery Boss, 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, Destination Truth, Enlisted, 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, 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, New Girl, Next Iron Chef, The Originals, Outside the Lines, Parks & Recreation, Project Runway, Project Runway All-Stars, 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, 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: 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 all the latest in TV news.

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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