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Two Tivos To Paradise 7.04.08: Celebrating Our Nation's Birthday With TV News That's Read, White, and Blue!
Posted by Al Norton on 07.04.2008

Hello Friends. Hope everyone is enjoying the start of the long weekend, celebrating the holiday and at the same time taking a moment to think of all who have given their lives in defending the freedoms that were established on this day so many years ago. Mrs. Tivo and I will be playing it cool, which is essentially what you do when you are 6+ months pregnant with twins in the middle of the summer. I foresee an ac'd movie theater and some Hancock in our future…Easy fella, that's my wife you're talking about!

From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans white with news.

Strike Update
No clever headline here since the prospect of another work stoppage is too depressing for me to find an appropriate song lyric. And yes, all of the song quotes I use as headlines in some way correspond to the stories. Anyway, SAG, working without a contract since Tuesday, has asked the AMPTP for more time to review the "final offer" the producers put forth this week. Talks will break for the holiday weekend, so it will be at least next week before a resolution, or non-resolution, is reached. A strike of any length would throw the network's fall lineups into immediate jeopardy. Let's move on to better things.

Spread Your Wings For New Orleans, Kentucky Bluebird Fly Away
NBC announced that Amy Ryan will reprise her role as Holly, Dunder Mifflin's new HR rep, on at least five episode of The Office this fall. Ryan appeared in the finale as Toby's replaced as well as the immediate object of Michael's affection, some of which she seemed to be returning by episode's end.

This is fantastic for several reasons, including Oscar nominee Ryan clearly showing a knack for comedy, and the possibility of more "slow Kevin" scenes has me ready for the premiere now, but the best part of this is that several new storytelling doors are opened by Holly seeming to be the first normal person to actually like Michael for Michael. Jan liked Michael because she hates herself, and him going back to her at the end of the season finale despite her being pregnant from visits to a sperm bank while they were dating demonstrates just how low his self esteem is. Having a smart, funny, attractive women be interested in him for him allows the writers to advance the character a bit, albeit in ways that should be quite funny. It's smart moves like this that keep The Office at the top of the list of television comedies.

I hope at least one Dionne Warwick fan appreciates my headline on this story.

Take A Look At The Lawman, Beating Up The Wrong Guy, Oh Man
ABC's upcoming remake of the BBC series Life on Mars got a major cast addition when Emmy winner Michael Imperioli joined the cast this week. Developed by David E Kelly for the network, the show has recently been rumored to be in chaos, leading to the location shift from LA to NY (the show will be produced on location) as well as this latest cast change. Imperioli will play Ray Caring, a cop with some violent, sexist, and racist tendencies. This is Imperioli's first regular TV gig since The Sopranos went off the air last year. He was nominated for five Emmys (winning once) for his portrayal of Tony's nephew Christopher.

Regular readers know how much I have been looking for to this show and the news of Imperioli's casting starts to make up for the hire of the crew from October Road to be showrunners. Series lead Jason O'Mara is a pretty strong actor in his own right but giving him someone as talented as Imperioli to play off of is a very smart idea. Life on Mars may be the fall series I am most looking forward to.

Lying In The Summer Grass, You Told Me Not To Talk So Fast
CBS unveiled their fall premiere dates this week, including some fan favorites pushed back until October. The network has sited two Presidential debates as the reason why some shows are returning later than usual. A * indicates a new series.

Thursday, 9/18

Monday, 9/22
Big Bang Theory
How I Met Your Mother
Two and a Half Men
Worst Week*
CSI Miami

Tuesday, 9/23
The Mentalist*
Without A Trace

Wednesday, 9/24
New Adventures of Old Christine
Project Gary*
Criminal Minds

Sunday, 9/28
60 Minutes
Amazing Race
Cold Case
The Unit

Friday, 10/3
Ghost Whisperer
The Ex List*

Thursday, 10/9
Eleventh Hour*

I have seen full episodes of four of the networks new shows and can proclaim them a mixed bag. Project Gary is a standard CBS comedy, although an even lighter than usual version, featuring an oddly bulked up Jay Mohr as a recently divorced Dad getting used to his new life. It was funny enough but not worth going out of your way for, which is pretty much how I feel about Two and a Half Men. Worst Week was funny as hell, although I am worried about the long term prognosis of the series, which features a rather hapless fellow dealing with everything that can go wrong going wrong. The problem was that by the end of the pilot I was exhausted and wondering how they could possible come up with more dark clouds in the second episode, let alone for a whole season. The brilliance of Curb Your Enthusiasm is the pacing – the way they let things build and come to a slow boil – and the WW pilot seemed like the writers throwing everything they could into the pot. I'll be watching in the fall with my fingers crossed.

The Ex List proves that Elizabeth Reaser, last seen on Grey's Anatomy, can front a series. The hook here is she plays a single woman who is told by a psychic that if she is ever to marry it will be in one year, to a man she has already dated, which sends her going through her past to find the one. There is a lot of racy dialog in the pilot, some of which comes off like writers trying too hard, but this show will be a hit. Or rather it would be if CBS hadn't put it on Fridays at 9. Let's see, a show aimed at women in there 30's, in particular those who are all too familiar with the frustrations of dating…I know, I'll air it on the night they are most likely to be out of the house. Smart move, CBS. It doesn't help that the network has no real companion piece to this light comedy; this is the downside to having EVERY other drama series be about the committing, solving, and/or prosecuting of criminals.

Speaking of those types of shows, The Mentalist is an incredibly forgettable show about a guy who solves crimes with his powers of observation (to quote myself, think PSYCH without the laughs), made barely watchable by the always underrated Simon Baker. If you like Criminal Minds and the various CSI's, you'll probably find this to be entertaining, and truth be told, the opening five minutes are fantastic, but I don't need another show about a team of law enforcement officials who catch killers each week.

The preview disc CBS sent out included only a trailer for Eleventh Hour and to be honest, it actually looked pretty cool, a rare CBS drama I'd be interested in checking out.

Rhymes That Keep Their Secrets Will Unfold Behind The Clouds
The ABC adventure series Captain Cook's Extraordinary Atlas is gaining major momentum as it puts together a cast and crew of all stars. The story follows a young girl who discovers an atlas for a secret world that exists beneath our own and the pilot is going to be directed by 9 time Emmy winner Thomas Schlamme. Nicole Yorkin and Dawn Prestich, the team behind The Riches, have signed on as showrunners, and the cast includes Emmy and Saturn award nominee Jodelle Ferland as the girl in question and Janel Maloney (The West Wing, Brotherhood) and Patrick Breen as her parents.

This is certainly an interesting project as there is not anything like it – a special effects heavy action series - on network TV currently. Considering what the budget for a show like this projects to be, ABC will be very careful before picking it up for series, although Schlamme's track record for directing pilots is legendary; The West Wing, Sportsnight, Spin City, Studio 60, Invasion, Jack and Bobby, and Boston Public all had Schlamme calling the shots for their debut episodes.

Yorkin and Prestich's involvement is bitter sweet for me as it seems to indicate that The Riches will not get a third season on FX, and that just makes me sad; the upcoming Norty Awards will show the high esteem I held the show, and it's almost criminal that the brilliant plot layering that went on in the strike shortened second season will never get to reach it's climax.

The Hollywood Reporter called the new series "a mix of Harry Potter and Pan's Labyrinth", which is setting the bar pretty high, but if a show could actually mix the layered storytelling from the Hogwarts crew mixed with the stunning visuals of Pan's, we would be looking at a huge success.

I'm On The Run, I Kill To Eat
AMC's upcoming remake of the 1960's cult favorite series The Prisoner got two big cast confirmations this week when Jim Caviezel and Oscar, Emmy, and Golden Globe nominee Ian McKellen were announced as co-stars. The show, which will be presented as a six part mini-series early next year, will be updated to deal with the current security/surveillance technology while retaining the overall paranoia that helped give the original it's devoted following.

Do I lose any of my TV cred by admitting I have never seen the original? I know it's considered a classic but I don't think it was on in reruns while I was growing up – at least not that I knew of – and I've never checked to see if it was available on DVD. I do know that enough very smart people have talked about how influential it is that this remake will get a far amount of buzz, both from the mainstream press as well as the dark corners of many an internet chat room.

You're The Emblem Of The Land I Love, Home Of The Free And The Brave
If you find yourself at home with nothing to do today than flip on your television as many networks are celebrating the holiday with marathon programming. Below is as comprehensive a list as I could come up with.

Beach Patrol (Tru TV, 22 episodes, 11 am)
Comedy Central Presents: Stand Up Showcase (Comedy Central, 24 episodes, 8 am)
Chowder (Cartoon Network, 24 episodes, 8 am)
Denise Richards: It's Complicated (E!, 4 episodes, 1 pm)
Dirty Jobs (Discovery, 17 episodes, 8 am)
I Love Lucy (TV-Land, 10 episodes, 2 pm)
I Love New York (VH-1, 9 episodes, Noon)
Jaws (AMC, all 4 movies, 10:30 am)
King of the Hill (FX, 18 episodes, 9 am)
Law And Order (TNT, 15 episodes, 8 am)
NCIS (USA, 8 episodes, 3 pm)
Next Food Network Star (Food Network, 5 episodes, 3 pm)
Paradise Hotel (Fox Reality, 14 episodes, 9:45 am)
Real World Hollywood (MTV, 6 episodes, 11 am)
That 70's Show (Family Channel, 17 episodes, 11 am)
Twilight Zone (SciFi, 42 episodes, 8 am)

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 last week…The Late Show with David Letterman tied a series low for the 18-49 demos the second week of June…NBC was quite happy with the premiere of The Baby Borrowers, which finished a very close second to So You Think You Can Dance? last Wednesday with 7.8 million viewers, including an increase of 11% during the second half of the episode…The new medical reality series Hopkins debuted strongly last Thursday, finishing neck and neck with Swingtown and building 77% on its lead-in…The Secret Life of An American Teenager became the most watched premiere in ABC Family history on Tuesday night with 2.8 million viewers…NBC Nightly News topped ABC's World News Tonight in the second quarter of 2008 in both demos and total audience. As usual, CBS Evening News with Katie Couric was a distant third in both categories…While Wipeout remained strong on Tuesday, Celebrity Family Feud and I Survived A Japanese Game Show dropped 17% from their premieres…Moment of Truth hit a series low on Tuesday night…America's Got Talent was Tuesday's most watched show and is looking at it's third season in a row of being the top show of the summer…

All The Young Dudes Carry The News
Industry News, Notes, and Hot Rumors…E!Online was the first to report that Shannon Doherty is in and Tori Spelling is out for the CW's upcoming 90210 reboot. Doherty will reprise her Brenda Walsh character from the original, although it's unclear for how many episodes or how large a part it will be. Spelling dropped out of the project for "personal reasons"… Continuing their momentum for developing new original series, Showtime signed Oscar winner Rod Lurie to be showrunner for Hilary Jones, a new drama about a women who works as a Vice cop in LA during the week and as a prostitute at a legal brothel in Nevada on weekends…Neal McDonough, last seen on Sci-Fi's Tin Man, will join the cast of Desperate Housewives this fall, rumored to be the love interest of Nicolette Sheridan's character…TV Land has renewed it's 35+ beauty pageant She's Got The Look for a second season…Tim Roth will star in the drama Lie To Me, given a 13 episode order by Fox this week. Oscar nominee Roth plays a scientist who can tell when people are telling the truth, which is great at work but wreaks havoc in his personal life…Starting this weekend, HBO will run the first 24 episodes of Big Love (in order) on Saturdays at 8 pm on their HBO2 channel…Look for Green Arrow in at least 12 episodes of Smallville next season, including another outing featuring the Justice League in the fall…Jason Schwartzman will star in HBO's Bored To Death, a comedy about an alcoholic who lives out his Raymond Chandler fantasies by posing as a private eye…Clea Duvall (Heroes) is the latest to join the cast of Fox's Virtuality…HBO has optioned Manic: A Memoir and plans on turning the book, about a bi-polar female attorney, into a drama series…

Turns Out Not Where But Who You're With That Really Matters
The top thing I watched since the last column went to press AKA The Best Of What's Around…I don't throw around phrases like "best show on TV" lightly, and even though I will add in the caveat of it being the "best reality show", it doesn't in any way temper the passion with which I love 30 Days. The last two weeks have been great examples of the brilliance – and the simplicity – of the show's concept; take an avid hunter and put him in a family of vegan, animal rights activists. Take a woman who feels gay people should not be allowed to adopt children and have her live with a gay couple with four adopted children. Set cameras up and record for one month.

To me the biggest problem in our country is the lack of a real dialog between people on opposite sides of any/all issues. Sure, some folks talk, but they use the time they are not speaking as a chance to prepare their rebuttal as opposed to actually listening to what the other person is saying. 30 Days is all about walking in the other person's shoes, and while the participants rarely come out as all new people, there is no doubt that the hunter had his eyes opened to the brutality that can exist in the food industry. The woman spending a month with the gay couple with children was a little less successful but no less compelling. Personally, I can't imagine how even the most staunch anti-gay rights person would see a family like they had on that episode and think a child would be better off growing up in the foster care system than with two loving parents, but the woman on the show was not going to waiver in her beliefs, no matter how much evidence to the contrary she was coming face to face with. The conversation between the three adults at the end of the episode was heartbreaking because of it's honesty, and despite my sadness at her not coming around, I was thankful for the show presenting people and their feelings in such real, non-manipulative terms.

Do I think 30 Days is going to change the world? No, but I think if more people took the open minded, judge people as individuals, let's see what the other side is all about attitude the show presents, we'd have a lot less anger, a lot less fear, and a lot more true understanding.

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 James Roday-Maggie Lawson starring Fear Itself was by far the best of the series run so far, with John Landis' steady hand making it the best looking episode as well. As others have pointed out, it would be nice if the endings weren't all so bleak…Legally Blonde continues to be a highly entertaining guilty pleasure, although it won't be anywhere near as fun now that Cassie S is gone; every show needs a heavy, and her blissfully unaware attitude was a riot…While I continue to wish that In Plain Sight established a recurring witness relocation character or two – so far they are all one episode only visits – the show is definitely a keeper. While Mary McCormick is the star, Fred Weller has a style that really grows on you…Now that Dan Nutterman is out (again) of the running to be the Last Comic Standing, I am left hoping that the bald British guy with the upright base makes it to the next round. I find God's Pottery amusing but do they really belong in this competition? I already get the joke, and how do you judge them doing a couple of songs Vs 10 minutes of stand up material?..."Are you bite me, Jeff?" is the TV catchphrase of the summer…How amazing was that Frank Sinatra impersonator on America's Got Talent this week? Seriously, one of the best impressions of anyone I have ever heard…I feel terrible for neglecting to rave about The Middleman yet; ABC Family's new series is series summer fun and I am greatly enjoying the wordplay. I know some may think they do it too much but for me it's the universe the show exists in, so it makes perfect (and hysterical) sense. I wish the network were doing more to push it; I'd love to see what USA's hype machine could have done with this quality a product…The second of FX's Rescue Me "minisodes" was laugh out loud funny, and Tommy's dream was pretty hot there for a while. While I have enjoyed them so far, it does remind me I have to wait until 2009 for new full length episodes, which is more than a tad bit depressing…

TV Pick Of The Week
I was not planning on going with the same show two weeks in a row but the folks at USA sent me over the first two episodes of the new season of Burn Notice and the quality was high enough where I felt it was worth it to keep the best action show on TV in the spotlight a little longer. What I was reminded of during the opening two hours of season two was how Jeffrey Donovan is probably never going to get the credit he deserves for what is truly an incredible performance; aside from gliding from action to drama to comedy to romantic tension with the ease of a dancer, he also not only plays Michael Westen each week but also the various personas Michael puts on as covers.

For those of you who are interested in such things, Gabrielle Anwar is clearly shopping at the same stores she did for her first season wardrobe, and Bruce Campbell is as sharp as ever. The second episode features perhaps the best scene between Donovan and Sharon Gless, one that really gives some insight into their relationship. Did I mention that # 6 is here?!?!?

Don't miss the season premiere of Burn Notice this Thursday at 10 pm on USA.

Two Tivos To Paradise, Weekly Update
30 Days, 30 Rock, The Academy, American Idol, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Antique Roadshow, The Apprentice, Battlestar Galactica, Best Week Ever, Big Love, Bones, Boston Legal, Breaking Bad, Brothers And Sisters, Burn Notice, Chuck, The Closer, Criss Angel Mindfreak, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Deadliest Catch, Desperate Housewives, Destination Truth, Dirty Sexy Money, Entourage, Eureka, Everybody Hates Chris, Flipping Out, Ghost Hunters, Gossip Girl, Grey's Anatomy, Heroes, The Hills, House, How I Met Your Mother, Last Comic Standing, Last Restaurant Standing, Law And Order, Law And Order: Criminal Intent, Law And Order: Special Victims Unit, Legally Blonde: The Search For The Next Elle Woods; Lost, Mad Men, Make Me A Supermodel, Medium, The Middleman, My Name Is Earl, The New Adventures Of Old Christine, Next Food Network Star, Nip/Tuck, The Office, The Paper, One Tree Hill, Private Practice, Project Runway, Pushing Daisies, Psych, Real Time With Bill Maher, The Real Hustle, Reaper, Rescue Me, The Riches, Rules Of Engagement, Run's House, Samantha Who?, The Sarah Jane Chronicles, Saturday Night Live, Scrubs, Shear Genius, So You Think You Can Dance?, The Soup, Step It Up and Dance, Supernatural, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Top Chef, Top Design, Torchwood, Ugly Betty

People Love You When They Know You're Leaving Soon
Here ends another edition of Two Tivos To Paradise. Coming up next week, the second annual Norty Awards, my personal Emmy ballot the week before the Academy reveals their nominations. Check back to see if you agree with my picks as well as for the week's worth of tube news!

Have a great week, see you next Friday!

Feedback is encouraged at twotivostoparadise@yahoo.com as well via the comments section below.

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.


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