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Two Tivos To Paradise 5.23.14: Game of Thrones, South Park, More
Posted by Al Norton on 05.23.2014

Hello friends; what's good? This was a great week despite the Red Sox losing streak, but then again any week I have an exclusive interview with Ben Affleck is likely to be a great week. If you haven't seen it yet, use the links below to pull up all my 411Mania writing or go the Movies/TV main page and look under "Columns."

Disney is doing a great job at getting folks excited for Girl Meets World, with their latest offering being the show's opening credit sequence…

Here's a look at Syfy's upcoming series Dominion

I've got one less problem without news.

You Run, Run, Runaway, It's Your Heart That You Betray
Matt Iseman is a MD turned very successful standup comedian who's also served as host of Sports Soup (for which he was named co-TTTP TV Entertainer of the Year) and Clean House. This Monday he returns to the gig that has brought him the biggest spotlight, co-host of NBC's American Ninja Warrior. We caught up with the Official Friend of TTTP for an email chat earlier this week…

TTTP: Have you recovered from the SuperBowl yet?

MI: No, never. That's like asking if I'm over Macho Grande (always like to throw in an Airplane reference to mask my crushing disappointment over the Broncos' crushing loss).

TTTP: Congratulations on your new Fox Sports One gig!! For folks who haven't seen, what do you do in your segments?

MI: I find the best moments in sports every week. And by best I mean worst. Basically, I'm doing what many of us already do at home, point out some of the absurdities in sports and laugh. But I get to do it at the Fox Sports Studios, which are so choice. I'm really enjoying my time there.

TTTP: I ask you this every year; not that the formula isn't a good one but what changes does the new season of American Ninja Warrior have in store for us?

MI: The show just keeps growing… this year, we had more than double the number of submissions we had last season so we actually added another qualifying city. More athletes are coming out and they keep getting better and stronger so, to keep up with them, the courses are getting harder. Every city has different obstacles, many of which are brand new to the show, so each city really seemed to have a distinctly different feel. But, the biggest tease I can give is that, so far, the performances we've seen have not just been mind-blowingly awesome, they've been historic.

TTTP: Not that you don't always keep yourself in good shape but has working on ANW made your more health/body conscious than you were before?

MI: I like to think I keep myself in peak physical shape. But, then again, I consume copious amounts of Diet Mountain Dew and believe having ice cream every day keeps the doctor away. These athletes continue to astound me with not just their fitness, but, the fact that so many of them train daily while having families and jobs and real lives. It makes me realize that there is no excuse NOT to be in fantastic shape. Having said that, I haven't been to the gym in 5 days and I am writing this while lying completely horizontal on my couch. So…it's a balancing act.

TTTP: Do you have an all-time favorite competitor?

MI: They feel like my children, I really can't choose one over the other. I love them all equally. But a few who've really impressed me include Sam Sann, a man in his late 40s who escaped Communist Cambodia as a child and was separated from part of his family. He just refuses to quit on the course and in life. I always get a kick out of David Campbell because of the single-mindedness with which he has pursued American Ninja Warrior for the better part of a decade. And, I have a new favorite from this year, Rob Moravsky, cousin of "the Weatherman" Joe Moravsky. I don't want to spoil Rob's performance this year, but, if you loved William Zabka in the Karate Kid, you will love Rob. No mercy.

TTTP: You're a big TV fan; what are you watching these days?

MI: TV feels like it's better than ever, this really is a golden era. Suits has been my number one show over the past few years, I am consistently blown away by the writing and the acting. I think it's the best ensemble on TV and I think Rick Hoffman deserves an Emmy for what he's doing as Louis Litt. Loving the Blacklist and can't wait for the return of Sleepy Hollow. Absolutely on board with Jack Bauer and 24: Live Another Day. Jonny Lee Miller of Elementary has become my favorite Sherlock ever, no mean feat. But the show that completely surprised me is the Goldbergs. Now, I fully acknowledge my bias as I grew up in and love the 80s and, when I watch the show, I feel like I'm watching my childhood, but, every episode makes me laugh and usually manages to make me cry. Wendy McClendon-Covey crushes it every week. And, of course, I'm also gearing up for my summer obsession, Big Brother. If you don't like the show, you may want to avoid my Twitter feed.

TTTP: Tell me a little more about the upcoming season of ANW and maybe throw in something about why someone who hasn't watched yet should give it shot.

MI: On Memorial Day, we've got a countdown show just before the season premiere that's going to give newcomers an awesome introduction to the show. Basically, you get to watch ordinary people who've transformed themselves into exceptional athletes tackle the world's single most difficult athletic challenge. I think we do an awesome job of introducing you to each competitor and giving you a reason to cheer for them. It's a show that's entertaining and inspiring and, best of all, the hosting is INCREDIBLE.

Don't miss a full night of American Ninja Warrior this Monday on NBC!

And I'll Be Gone Gone Tonight, The Ground Beneath My Feed Is Open Wide
The stories this week that didn't deserve a full solo item but were too big to get stuck in the notes section...

*ABC won May sweeps for the first time in 14 years but for the 2013-2014 season as a whole, NBC was the overall winner, finishing first in the demos for the first time in a decade. NBC was up 17% from last year, the biggest % jump by any network in 9 years. Fox finished second, CBS third, and ABC last. And you NBC bashers can't say this is just about the Olympics because the network would have won the season in the demos even without those numbers! As usual, CBS was far and away the most watched network, although NBC made great strides there as well, up 33% to finish second.

*Former Walking Dead showrunner Glen Mazzara is working on a new series, a sequel to the classic 1976 horror movie The Omen for Lifetime. Titled Damien, it finds the lead character grown up and coming to grips with his past as well as his true identity - the Antichrist. Mazzara, whose resume includes The Shield, Crash, and Nash Bridges, is writing the script and executive producing.

*Showtime is developing a drama series about doctors who provide performance enhancing drugs to athletes. The show is being written and produced by David Hollander (Ray Donovan) and Michael Costigan (Prometheus), with two newspaper reporters who have played large roles in breaking recent stories involving PDA's in Major League Baseball - Tim Elfrink, managing editor of the Miami New Times and Gus Garcia-Roberts of New York Newsday - on board as consultants

*Less than 48 hours after announcing the project OWN has changed their plans and is postponing their Michael Sam reality show, releasing a statement saying, "After careful consideration and discussion with the St. Louis Rams, The Untitled Michael Sam Project has been postponed, allowing Michael the best opportunity to achieve his dream of making the team. We will continue to support him in his journey to earn a spot playing for the Rams."

*Bill Hader (SNL) has signed an exclusive development deal with HBO to create and star in a new comedy series.

*The Nerdist is reporting that Zero Dark Thirty star Jessica Chastain has been offered the lead role in season two of HBO's True Detective. This story comes a week after the story in the Daily Star Uk that Brad Pitt might be involved in the show's sophomore season as well, although most think that is just a rumor at best. Chastain is a two time Oscar nominee, recognized for her work in Zero Dark Thirty as well as The Help, the former role winning her a Golden Globe.

*TNT is using an episode of the upcoming season of Major Crimes as a planted pilot for a spinoff series focused on Jon Tenney's Special Agent Fritz Howard character. The character originated on The Closer - which Major Crimes is a spinoff of - and there's no word on how they would address the absence of Howard's wife, Brenda Leigh Johnson (played on The Closer by Kyra Sedgwick). The proposed series would find Howard leading an FBI team, possibly including Malcolm Jamal Warner's character who appeared on Major Crimes last season.

You Gotta Pick Yourself Up By The Bootstraps, No One's Gonna Help You Out When You Fall
It's a long holiday weekend, which means the cable channels have lots of marathon programming options for your viewing pleasure…

South Park (Comedy Central), 8pm, 17 episodes

Law & Order: SVU (USA), 10am, 13 episodes
Million Dollar Listing New York (Bravo), 10am, 8 episodes
Will and Grace (WE), 10am, 20 episodes
South Park (Comedy Central), 2:50pm, 18 episodes
Criminal Minds (A&E), 4pm, 12 episodes
Deadliest Catch (Discovery), 6pm, 9 episodes
BBQ Pitmasters (Destination America), 7pm, 10 episodes
Pawn Stars (History), 7pm, 18 episodes

Law & Order (TNT), 5am, 9 episodes
NCIS (USA), 9am, 14 episodes
Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta (TLC), 9am, 20 episodes
Buying Alaska (Destination America), 10am, 40 episodes
Bar Rescue (Spike), 11am, 9 episodes
Property Brothers (HGTV), 11am, 9 episodes
Turn (AMC), 1:30pm, Season one to-date
Married to the Medicine (Bravo), 2pm, 9 episodes
South Park (Comedy Central), 2:50pm, 25 episodes
Pawn Stars (History), 3pm, 16 episodes
CSI: Miami (A&E), 4pm, 13 episodes
Storage Wars (A&E), 4pm, 24 episodes
Impractical Jokers (truTV), 6pm, 8 episodes

19 Kids and Counting (TLC), 6am, 12 episodes
NCIS: LA (USA), 6am, 14 episodes
Malcolm in the Middle (IFC), 6:15am, 25 episodes
BBQ Pitmasters (Destination America), 7am, 14 episodes
I Dream of Nene: The Wedding (Bravo), 7am, full season
Defiance (Syfy), 8am, full season one
Criminal Minds (A&E), 9am, 19 episodes
River Monsters (Animal Planet), 9am, 9 episodes
Walker, Texas Ranger (TVLand), 9am, 8 episodes
Falling Skies (TNT), 10am, full season three
Pawn Stars (History), 10am, 22 episodes
Tosh.0 (Comedy Central), 11:13am, 23 episodes
Bizarre Foods America (Travel), 2pm, 8 episodes
Lizard Lick Towing (truTV), 7pm, 18 episodes

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 had its most watched season finale ever, with 16.3 million viewers and demos that also won the night...The Millers was up 26% in the demos...Grey's Anatomy won 9pm in totals and demos...American Idol was up 19% in total viewers and 25% in the demos...The Vampire Diaries matched last week but was down 27% from last season's sign off...Reign was even with last week...Elementary was down 30% from last season's final hour...Rosemary's Baby was down from Sunday's dreadful numbers (Hey NBC, why wouldn't you run that NEXT week, so it wasn't going up against all the season finales?!?!?)...

ABC's two hour Barbara Walters special was far and away the most watched show of the night and tied Shark Tank for the demo win as well...Shark Tank was down from last week, to be expected due to airing in the earlier time slot, but the good news was it gave ABC it's best Friday at 8pm numbers since November 2012...Whose Line is it Anyway? was up 20%, with the season finale of Hart of Dixie up 33% from last week (but down 19% from last season's final hour)...Kitchen Nightmares was up 13% from its last new episode but down 24% from last season's finale...Grimm matched last week (comparing it to last year's finale makes no sense since that hour aired after an episode of The Voice, the best lead-in on TV)...Hannibal was up 29% from last week...

For the fourth time this season HBO's Game of Thrones has set a new series high in viewers; 7.2 million people watched last night's episode live, with the number for the night rising to 8.5 million…Sunday's game one of the Pacers - Heat Eastern Conference Finals was up 49% from last year (when ABC had the Western Conference Finals) and was the third highest conference finals game one that has aired on ABC/ESPN ever…The Billboard Music Awards had a strong night, winning in total viewers - a 13 year high - and the demos - tying last year's 11 year high...The Good Wife and The Amazing Race tied last week but were down 25% from last season's finale...The Mentalist was up double digits in totals and demos...While Fox's animation lineup was for the most part even with their previous new episodes, the drop from last season's finale was large - Bob's Burgers was down 43%, American Dad! down 36%, The Simpsons down 26%, and Family Guy dropped 20%...American Dream Builders hit a series low...NBC's one hour Coldplay special was a huge dud...

The Maya Rudolph Show won 10pm in totals and demos...The Voice won the night in the demos, up in that measure and in total viewers from last week...The Bones season finale was down slightly from last week and down roughly 20% in totals and demos from last year's final hour...24 was down double digits in total viewers and demos...DWTS was up a bit in totals and demos, winning the night in the former with 15 million viewers...The Bachelorette was up in total viewers from last year's debut... Game 1 of the Thunder - Spurs Western Conference finals was up 31% in viewers from last year's Western Conference opener. Overall TNT's coverage of the NBA post-season is up 6% from last season…

The Voice won the night in the demos, albeit with a series low for a finale...DWTS was the most watched show of the night with 14.9 million viewers...American Idol's finale performance/voting night finished third on the night in the demos, down 43% from last May...I Wanna Marry Harry bombed, losing almost 60% of its Idol demo lead-in and finishing last on the night among new programming...Supernatural was up from last week...

The season finale of American Idol was up 24% from last week but down 28% from last season's signoff...Survivor finished a close second in the battle of the finales in both measures, down only 9% in the demos from last spring...Modern Family won the night in totals and demos, up 12% in the latter from last week and coming very close to last season's signoff...The Middle matched last season...Motive was up from last season's finale but down big from last year's premiere...Chicago PD was up a smidge in the demos...SVU was down only slightly from last year's finale...

All The Young Dudes, Carry The News
Industry News, Notes, and Hot Rumors… Gillian Jacobs first post-Community TV job has been lined up; she's signed on for a recurring role on the upcoming season of HBO's Girls…The 10 episode first season of the new Cinemax original series The Knick premieres on August 8th, a drama about an NYC hospital in 1900 that stars Golden Globe winner (and Oscar & Emmy nominee) Clive Owen and is executive produced and directed by Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh…16 year old Leo Howard, who stars in the Disney XD hit series Kickin' It, become the youngest person in history to direct an episode of a TV series when the episode of his series that he helmed airs on June 30th…Bob's Burgers: The Comic Book launches via Dynamite this August, written and drawn by folks who work on the Fox animated series. Fans can pre-order the book starting next month…Two of my favorite character actors have signed on for roles on season two of Masters of Sex; Courtney B Vance will have a recurring role as the head of an African American Hospital trying to integrate his patients and Rene Auberjonois will guest on at least one episode as well. Other new additions that had previously signed on include Betsy Brandt, Sarah Silverman, and Keke Palmer…Spike TV's 2014 Guy's Choice Awards - taping June 7th and airing June 11th - includes TV-centric winners Matthew McConaughey (Guy of the Year), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Hot and Funny), Key & Peele (Couple of the Year), Norman Reedus (Biggest Ass-Kicker), and Chris Hardwick (Smartacus)… Lauren Ambrose (Torchwood, Six Feet Under) has joined Jason Isaacs and David Costabile in the cast of USA's six episode event-series Dig, which involves archaeology, a centuries old plot to take over the world, and of course, murder. The project comes from Tim Kring (Heroes) and Gideon Raff (Homeland)… truTV will premiere Motor City Masters on June 24th, a new reality competition show looking for America's next great car designer. Produced in collaboration Chevrolet and hosted by Brooke Burns, the celebrity judges lined up for the season include Melissa Joan Hart, Pete Wentz, David Justice, Jesse Metcalf, Robby Gordon, and more… Kristen Bell will host the CMT Music Awards, airing live on June 4th; she's co-hosted the last two years (with Toby Keith in 2012 and Jason Aldean in 2013) but this year she'll be flying solo… Nurse Jackie co-creator Liz Brixius has been hired as showrunner for the NBC comedy Bad Judge, which stars Kate Walsh as a hard partying judge who becomes legal guardian of young boy whose parents she sent to jail… Disney has ordered a 5th season of Jessie, which will begin airing in January of 2015. The comedy is the # 1 live action show in the 2 - 11 demo on all of TV (and # 4 in the 9 - 14 demo).

Turns Out Not Where But Who You're With That Really Matters
The best of what's around aka The Best Thing I Watched Over The Last Seven Days…
A fantastic episode of Mad Men this past Sunday - while the title of the episode was The Strategy, it might as well have been The Gang's All Here - that gave us yet another classic Peggy & Don moment; over the years the show's best moments have involved the two, including the second half of The Suitcase as well as when Peggy left for a new job, and this week continued that level of excellence. The two characters are never more honest about themselves then when they are together and we the audience reap the rewards.

It may be more hip to bash the show, to say it's lost its fastball, but when Mad Men is on the top of its game like last week, there's no show on TV demonstrably better.

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…

The above Late Night with Seth Myers bit was one of those that started somewhat funny and just kept getting better until I was laughing out loud...Even someone who isn't a huge Game of Thrones fan (like, say, me) would be foolish to deny that Peter Dinklage is indeed THE MAN…After four episodes I am fully on board with MTV's Faking It, a very funny comedy that works as social satire as well as exploration of modern day teen angst. Good stuff and worth your time!...In terms of overall quality sustained over an extended period of time as well as commitment to portraying actual real life, Deadliest Catch is the single best reality series in the history of television... Kudos to the folks at Bones for giving us one hell of a season finale, one that left me looking forward to their season premiere more than I have in years. High praise for David' work behind the camera for the hour; the tension was palpable and the shootout was fantastically executed (pun intended, I suppose)… The double episodes of Louie on Monday night is tearing me up; as a huge fan I love the hour of new content I get each week but as a huge fan I also wish they'd done one episode a week and made the season last longer… Yvonne Strahovski has been busy since Chuck ended - a stint on Dexter, a guest spot on Louie two weeks ago, and she's currently starring/kicking ass on 24: Live Another Day - but I can't help but feel she should be busier; why hasn't a network built a show around a beautiful and talented actress who can do comedy, action, and all kinds of dark drama?!?!?... Dear ABC - The Goldbergs did not get off to a great start in mind, way too much yelling and frankly too much hype focused on the yelling, but over the course of its first season it found its footing as a sweet little family comedy. If you were smart, you'd re-air the first season after Modern Family all summer (even Modern Family reruns do well) to expose the show to a wider audience heading in to season two. TV history has plenty of examples of shows that did just ok during their first seasons but really caught on in reruns that summer - MASH, All in the Family, Cheers - and while I am not saying The Goldbergs is anywhere near that level quality, I do think it could be a breakout hit if given the right showcase. Love, Al… Syfy may be the best network when it comes to having its series go out a) before they wear out their welcome and b) with great final runs; recent examples include Eureka and Being Human, and Monday brought Warehouse 13 to a close with a highly entertaining hour of TV that encapsulated everything that made the show so much fun and so endearing without ever trying too hard…

TV Pick Of The Week
Ron Funches makes my life better. Seriously. I had no idea who he was before seeing him n @Midnight but now he makes me laugh and smile in his TV appearances like just about no one else, and he's a series regular in NBC's new comedy Undateable.

I know that, as a rule, shows that networks pick up in April and then keep on the shelf for over a year are quite bad, but there's a lot of funny people involved in this and frankly my standards are lower post-May sweeps anyway, so my guess is I will be laughing a lot.

Don't miss the series premiere of Undateable, Thursday at 9pm on NBC.

Two Tivos To Paradise
@Midnight, About A Boy, After the Catch, American Idol, America's Best Cook, Antiques Roadshow, Beat Bobby Flay, Archer, Arrow, Auction Hunters, Baby Daddy, Bakery Boss, Bitten, The Blacklist, Boardwalk Empire, Bones, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Cake Boss, Cake Boss: Next Great Baker, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Chopped, Comic Book Men, Community, Cougar Town, Counting Cars, The Crazy Ones, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Cutthroat Kitchen, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Dancing with the Stars, The Deadliest Catch, Face Off, Falling Skies, Family Guy, Flipping Out, Food Court Wars, Food Network Challenge, Food Network Star, The Fosters, Ghost Hunters, Ghost Mine, Glee, Graceland, Great Food Truck Race, Grey's Anatomy, Growing Up Fisher, Haunted Collector, Haunted Highway, Haunted Treasure, Hawaii Five-0, House of Lies, Inside Comedy with David Steinberg, Inside Amy Schumer, Iron Chef America, Justified, Key & Peele, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Late Night with Seth Myers, Law And Order: Special Victims Unit, The League, Longmire, Lost Girl, Louie, Mad Men, Major Crimes, MasterChef, MasterChef: Junior, Masters of Sex, Men at Work, The Middle, Mike and Molly, The Mindy Project, Modern Family, Monster Man, Nashville, New Girl, Next Iron Chef, The Originals, Outside the Lines, Parenthood, Parks & Recreation, Project Runway, Project Runway All-Stars, Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook Off, Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook Off, Ray Donovan, Real Time With Bill Maher, Rectify, Restaurant Impossible, Revenge, Royal Pains, Saturday Night Live, Shark Wranglers, So You Think You Can Dance?, Sons of Anarchy, The Soup, Suits, Supernatural, The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, Top Chef, Top Chef: Masters, Tosh.0, True Detective, Under the Gunn, The Vampire Diaries, The Voice, The Walking Dead, 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 in 7 days with all the latest TV news. Enjoy the long weekend!

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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