Inside TV+Movies with Daniel Fienberg

TV Ratings: Dipping 'American Idol' leads FOX to Wednesday wins, while 'The 100' gets a bump

'Survivor: Cagayan' is Wednesday's top show in most measures

Fast National ratings for Wednesday, April 16, 2014.

With "Criminal Minds" and "CSI" both in repeats, "American Idol" was able to post week-to-week declines and lose the 8 p.m. hour to "Survivor: Cagayan," but still win Wednesday primetime in all measures.

Because the 8 p.m. hour remained competitive, a new "Arrow" posted no real gains for The CW, but against mostly repeats in the 9 p.m. hour, "The 100" was up over last week's "Arrow"-free airing and also returned to 2 million viewers for the first time since its second episode.

On to Wednesday's numbers...

Recap: 'Survivor: Cagayan' - 'Bag of Tricks'

Even in a position, one castaway has to resist paranoia

<p>Tony and Woo chat on &quot;Survivor: Cagayan&quot;</p>

Tony and Woo chat on "Survivor: Cagayan"

Credit: CBS

Pre-credit sequence. After voting Morgan out, Solarrion is down to nine. As they return to camp, Tony knocks over all of the torches. He doesn't pick them up. In fact, he wants to cause a little more bedlam. He explains to Spencer that his alliance has been targeting people who don't deserve to be in the game anymore and he wants to know why he's been targeted twice (kinda, since no votes went against him the previous week). Tony says Woo's more athletic and LJ's more athletic and he wants to know why he's been targeted. Tony enjoys being a force of chaos for absolutely NO reason, so he starts demanding explanations for why the minority alliance didn't just come kneel before him and agree to vote Morgan out. Yeah, Tony. That's just how "Survivor" works. "But anyway, I appreciate the compliment," he tells them. He has a 6-3 advantage, but he knows that getting rid of sitting ducks is never that easy. He knows he could be gone tomorrow and he sounds prepared to split up his alliance if necessary. Foreshadowing, baby!

Recap: 'American Idol' Season 13 - Top 7 Performances - Competitor's Pick

The 'Idol' finalists sing songs selected by their rivals

<p>The &quot;American Idol&quot; Season 13 Top 7</p>

The "American Idol" Season 13 Top 7

Credit: FOX

I'm intrigued by Wednesday (April 16) night's "American Idol" theme, but I'm also expecting to be disappointed. 

As FOX put it last week, the theme is Competitor's Pick (we'll see if the word choice or punctuation change any) and the gimmick seems to be that each singer received a list of six potential songs selected by their rivals and they got to do one of those songs.

Unfortunately, the "Idol" Finalists keep pretending they're all lovey-dovey besties, which decreases the chances of straight-up sabotage or subversion.

But we can still dream, eh?

TV Ratings: 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' and 'Voice' rise on Tuesday as CBS procedurals hit lows

'Originals' and 'Supernatural' draw small audiences for The CW

<p>Bill Paxton on Tuesday&#39;s &quot;Marvel&#39;s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.&quot;</p>

Bill Paxton on Tuesday's "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."

Credit: ABC

Fast National ratings for Tuesday, April 15, 2014.

Rising episodes of "The Voice" and "About a Boy" helped NBC win Tuesday night among young viewers, while CBS' "NCIS"-led procedurals dominated overall despite hovering around series lows in the key demo.

In a special 9 p.m. airing, ABC's "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." got a solid demo bump and a tiny overall uptick, but couldn't do much to help the launch of "Celebrity Wife Swap."

Among other sluggish Tuesday offerings, FOX's "Glee" lost a few viewers from last week, while "New Girl" and "The Mindy Project" were on the low side. Both "The Originals" and "Supernatural" came in week for The CW as well.

On to the numbers...

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 226

Dan and Alan talk 'Fargo,' 'Orphan Black,' 'Mad Men,' 'Game of Thrones' and more

The

Happy Tuesday, Boys & Girls!

I'm away from Los Angeles getting my Passover on, so it wasn't possible to do a video show this week. Dry your weeping eyes! Instead, you get a 90-minute installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, just like in the old days. 

And there's a ton of stuff to discuss in this week's podcast, starting with the Tuesday premiere of FX's "Fargo," the return of "Orphan Black" and WGN's new drama "Salem." We talk a bit about Stephen Colbert's big move and what Comedy Central could do with the post-"Daily Show" slot. We do our first in-season "Mad Men" review. And because some stuff went down on Sunday's "Game of Thrones," we discuss that a bit as well. 

Full show!

Today's breakdown:
"Fargo" (00:01:00 - 00:16:45)
"Orphan Black" (00:16:45 - 00:26:30)
"Salem" (00:26:30 - 00:35:45)
Listener Mail: Colbert and Comedy Central (00:36:10 - 00:43:25)
"Mad Men" (00:43:40 - 01:11:00)
"Game of Thrones" (00:1:11:00 - 01:31:45)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed or subscribe on IHeartRadio.] 

 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

 

TV Ratings: 'Dancing,' 'Voice' lead Monday, while viewers pass over CBS' 'Friends'

'Bones' dips a little on first Passover night

<p>Sometimes stinks on Monday&#39;s &quot;Friends with Better Lives&quot;</p>

Sometimes stinks on Monday's "Friends with Better Lives"

Credit: CBS

Fast National ratings for Monday, April 14, 2014.

Why was this Monday different from all other Mondays?

Actually, it wasn't. 

"Dancing with the Stars" kept ABC in its regular position as Monday's most watched network, while "The Voice" helped NBC maintain its supremacy among young viewers, as The Seder Effect [Not a real thing] had no particular impact on primetime ratings.

The first night of Passover saw "Dancing with the Stars" rise slightly and "The Voice" remain relatively flat, which was more a product of last week's NCAA Tournament Final competition than anything else. If you like, though, you can try to interpret the week-to-week drop for "Bones" as related to the Pesach observance. [Note: This probably is not the case.]

Monday's big notable was the premiere of CBS' slightly shuffled comedy lineup, which was predictably less impressive without "How I Met Your Mother," though "Friends With Better Lives" certainly wasn't an out-of-the-box failure, even though it was CBS' lowest-rated and least-watched comedy.

Meanwhile, over on The CW, "Star-Crossed" continued its recent erratic performance, falling behind "The Tomorrow People" for the night and, perhaps, in the race for a pity renewal.

On to the numbers...

Interview: 'Fargo' star Billy Bob Thornton discusses going dark for FX

Has the 'Slingblade' Oscar winner considered writing and directing for TV?

<p>Billy Bob Thornton of &quot;Fargo&quot;</p>

Billy Bob Thornton of "Fargo"

Credit: FX

On the Calgary set of FX's "Fargo" last month, most of the cast was there either shooting or dropping by on an off-day to chat with a group reporters. Billy Bob Thornton couldn't make it, but sent his regrets and expressed the desire to talk to all of the assembled scribes pre-premiere. That's the sort of thing you hear a lot in-the-moment, but doesn't normally come to pass. Things slip through the cracks and nobody's really to blame. People get busy.

Billy Bob Thornton followed through. 

After a series of crossed wires and adjusted schedules, the Oscar-winning "Slingblade" scribe checked in last Sunday morning, delayed only because he got caught-up watching early baseball, which immediately gives us something in common.

"You can imagine what I think about your team," Thornton drawls. He's famously a Cardinals fan. I'm not-especially-famously a Red Sox fan.

"You guys just creamed us twice," Thornton admits, referring to a pair of Boston World Series wins. "But I respect the Red Sox organization. Really good organization."

Thornton could talk baseball all day. The game he's been watching doesn't even feature the Cardinals. It's a low-scoring early-season game between the Tigers and Orioles and even though Thornton knows former Tigers skipper Jim Leyland, that's his only rooting interest. He just enjoys the game.

Thornton also just likes FX's "Fargo." His enthusiasm was evident at the Television Critics Association press tour in January and three months later his love affair with the small screen continues. Thornton has been very frank about the current state of the film industry, especially when it comes to the understated, personal projects he's attracted to as a writer and director. The "Fargo" experience, his first prolonged TV work since "Hearts Afire" back-in-the-day, has opened his eyes to the potential of both cable work and the currently trendy "limited series" model. 

He also has one of his juiciest parts in years playing Lorne Malvo, a mysterious and sadistic stranger whose arrival in Bemidji, Minnesota sets in motion a 10-episode whirlwind of murder and chaos that are thematically and tonally inspired by the Coen Brothers' "Fargo," if only sometimes linked to the movie. Malvo is equal parts terrifying and hilarious and Thornton is having a ball playing that balance.

Once we stopped talking baseball, Thornton told me about playing Malvo as a force-of-nature, the pleasures of working in TV and whether he's now inspired to target the medium for future projects.

Click through for the full Q&A in advance of Tuesday's (April 2) "Fargo" premiere...

Interview: Noah Hawley and Warren Littlefield bring 'Fargo' to the small screen

Coen Brothers-inspired FX drama premieres on Tuesday

Interview: Noah Hawley and Warren Littlefield bring 'Fargo' to the small screen
Credit: FX

CALGARY - As pages go, Warren Littlefield is slightly overqualified.

The Brandon Tartikoff protege spent 20 years as an executive at NBC, cultivating in a '90s run as NBC Entertainment President a gig that was, at times, rather wildly successful.

On this March day in Calgary, though, Littlefield is serving as a tour-guide for a group of reporters visiting the set of his FX limited series "Fargo." Just a 10 minute drive from downtown Calgary, we've left the urban center behind and we're at a facility that is doubling for the Bemidji Police Department, as well as several other rural Minnesota hubs.  Depending on which way you wander, there are interrogation rooms, a main squad area, portions of a local hospital and a middle school cafeteria, in which we're conducting most of our interviews next to a fine piece of juvenile art that has nothing to do with "Fargo," but I'm including it anyway. 

TV Ratings: Masters overrun, '60 Minutes' lead CBS Sunday while 'Once' and 'Cosmos' dip

'Crisis' gets a tiny bump, while 'Resurrection' slows its decline

<p>Bubba Watson gets his Masters green jacket</p>

Bubba Watson gets his Masters green jacket

Credit: AP

Fast National ratings for Sunday, April 13, 2014.

With 11 minutes of Masters coverage overrun and a Pope Francis-centric installment of "60 Minutes," CBS' Sunday primetime got off to a strong start and then the network cruised to an easy overall win and a tight victory in the key demographic. 

A down week for "Once Upon a Time" pushed ABC to second in the key demo, leaving the network to take some solace in the smallest "Resurrection" drops to date. 

Speaking of declines, FOX's full lineup from "Bob's Burgers" through to "Cosmos" was down. 

NBC had slightly better news with week-to-week bumps for both "American Dream Builders" and "Crisis" and stability for "Believe," not that any of those numbers were actually especially good.

[As usual, ratings for cable offerings including the MTV Movie Awards and the "Mad Men" premiere will be available later in the day.]

On to Sunday's ratings...

Recap: 'The Amazing Race: All-Stars' - 'The Gladiators are Here!'

The teams head to Roman and face gladiatorial combat and stair-counting

<p>Nobody was very excited about this Detour</p>

Nobody was very excited about this Detour

Credit: CBS

Every once in a while, I like for somebody on "The Amazing Race" to really impress me. And I'm easily impressed. When the Hockey Brothers were throwing casks over their shoulders and running up hills? That impressed me. Heck, when Mark put together that car with the instructions in a language he couldn't understand? That impressed me. 

Sunday (April 13) night's confusing episode of "The Amazing Race" offered a low bar for achievement: I wanted somebody to know Roman Numerals. For what it's worth, *I* don't know Roman Numerals. Well, I know some Roman Numerals, but usually I know them if I can work backwards to some degree. Like if I'm looking at a motion picture copyright date, I usually have a vague sense of when the movie was released and I can figure out the actual date from that. So when it comes to Roman Numerals, I don't impress myself, but I would have liked to have been impressed by somebody else.

I was not.

It was a weird "Amazing Race" episode in which the majority of the teams picked what was clearly the wrong Detour, nobody succeeded in just doing the Roadblock on their own and the results of the Leg were determined partially by a couple cab errors I don't understand, partially decided by inexplicably altruistic teamwork and partially determined by a bizarre physical miscalculation.

So... Huh?

I guess I'm going to recap Sunday's episode after the break, as best I can, but I'm not sure I understood a lot of it. It's like it was ALL in Roman Numerals.

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