<p>&quot;American Idol&quot;</p>

"American Idol"

Credit: FOX

What if FOX didn't take a chance on 'American Idol'?

Rupert Murdoch's daughter changed the course of TV history
This week HitFix is revisiting some of the key turning points in recent entertainment history and considering what would have happened if history had turned a bit differently. What if...?
 
In 2001, Simon Cowell and Simon Fuller came to the United States and attempted to pitch a format based on the British hit "Pop Idol," a singing competition show that was making Cowell into a sensation Across the Pond. American networks, however, were not interested. Yes, "Survivor" had opened the door for primetime competition reality programming on network TV, but "Pop Idol" was seen as being less like "Survivor" and more like "Popstars," which aired with minimal success on The WB. But then, the story goes, Rupert Murdoch's daughter Elisabeth, a fan of "Pop Idol," made a passionate pitch for FOX to take an interest in a little show that became...  "American Idol." The rest, as we say, is history. "American Idol" became a summer hit in 2002 and, starting in 2003, it became the irreplaceable centerpiece of FOX's spring lineup, anchoring an unprecedented streak of 18-49 demo crowns for the network and launching countless singing, acting and hosting careers. But... 
 
What if Rupert Murdoch's daughter hadn't been a fan of "Pop Idol"?
 
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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 197

Dan and Alan talk 'Breaking Bad,' 'Alias,' 'Felicity' and answer lots of mail

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls! Live from a spectacularly echo-y corridor of the new HitFix offices in Beverly Hills (and the normally echo-y conference room of Alan's office), it's time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast!
 
With nothing to review this week, we answered mail for a half-hour. Thanks for the mail! We also had a ton to say about this week's "Breaking Bad" episode and then we dedicated a half-hour to our Summer Pilot Rewatch J.J. Abrams double-bill of "Felicity" and "Alias." So it's a long podcast, even if we had nothing to talk about.
 
Our next Pilot Rewatch? "Miami Vice." [The link is to S.1 and you should watch the two-part opener.]
 
Here's today's breakdown:
Listener Mail: Hamm/Cranston Swap (00:01:45 - 00:07:50)
Listener Mail: Gilligan/Weiner Follow-ups (00:08:00 - 00:15:05)
Listener Mail: OnDemand (00:15:10 - 00:20:40)
Listener Mail: ABC Segmenting (00:20:45 - 00:27:45)
Listener Mail: Podcast Show Selection (00:27:55 - 00:34:00)
"Breaking Bad" (00:34:00 - 01:07:15)
Summer Pilot ReWatch: "Felicity"/"Alias" (01:07:30 - 01:38:20)

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.] 

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

 

 

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<p>Jay Leno</p>

Jay Leno

Credit: NBC

What if NBC hadn't given the 10 p.m. hour to Jay Leno?

What would have happened to Conan O'Brien? Or Damian Lewis?
This week HitFix is revisiting some of the key turning points in recent entertainment history and considering what would have happened if history had turned a bit differently. What if...?
 
In 2004, NBC announced a plan for the orderly transition of "Tonight Show" power between Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien for 2009. Everybody seemed happy. But there were two catches: The first? Jay Leno didn't actually want to leave and Jay Leno was still ruling his time period and making NBC lots of money. So Jeff Zucker came up with a brilliant idea: Five nights a week of "The Jay Leno Show" airing at 10 p.m. Leaving out the irrelevance of Saturdays, NBC has 18 hours of primetime and they decided to give five of 'em to Jay Leno. The theory was that original episodes of "The Jay Leno Show" might not beat originals on ABC or CBS, but they would do OK and then perform even better against inevitable repeats. It did not work out that way. After nearly 18 million people tuned in for the premiere, the numbers dwindled rapidly and, by winter, the audience was under 5 million. With Conan O'Brien struggling on "The Tonight Show," NBC had to pull the plug on "The Jay Leno Show," send Jay back to 11:35 and, refusing a demotion to 12:05, Conan O'Brien left the network. Rarely has a network worked so hard to bottom out. But...
 
 
What if NBC hadn't given the 10 p.m. hour to Jay Leno?
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<p>&quot;Welcome to the Family&quot;</p>

"Welcome to the Family"

Credit: NBC

Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Welcome to the Family'

It's the Most Progressive TV Comedy of 1970!

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"Welcome to the Family" (NBC)
Airs: Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.
The Pitch: "She's a blonde ditz! He's a Latino intellectual! How will their families POSSIBLY get along? Welcome to the most progressive network sitcom of 1970!"
Quick Response: Somewhere between the release of "Guess Whose Coming To Dinner?" in 1967 and the premiere of "All in the Family" in 1971, you could have programmed a show identical to "Welcome to the Family" and been celebrated for your paradigm-shifting view of race relations and blended families in America. Your humor would have been so darned edgy that half of the critics in America probably would have hated you and you'd definitely have been discussed by President Nixon as a subversive countercultural force. Of course, it's not 1970 and you're going to have to be pretty sheltered to look at "Welcome to the Family" as especially progressive or edgy. Probably that's OK, though, because I don't sense that creator Mike Sikowitz has "All in the Family" aspirations and where there actually might have been room for interesting cultural exploration, he's satisfied with warm and fuzzy blandness. And in that warm and fuzzy blandness, you can't be offended by "Welcome to the Family," either for the social statements it makes -- "When did this become about me having issues with Latinos? I have an issue with THAT Latino," a character says, making the show's clear proclamation of ideological indifference -- or for the social statements it chooses not to make. The characters are all blurry and non-specific, tip-toing right to the edge of caricature and then scurrying away without becoming especially defined. That shifts the responsibility for characterization away from the writers and onto stars Mike O'Malley, Mary McCormack, Ricardo Chavira and Justina Machado, who by sheer force of ingrained personality manage to make "Welcome to the Family" more amiable than it has any right to be. That's an elevation from "not at all" to "very slightly," but it's a start. O'Malley and McCormack have an entirely relaxed and natural chemistry that steers a few soft punchlines into laughs. Chavira and Machado have the side of the narrative that strays in the direction of stereotype, so you can see them working hard to make a little bit more of what they've been given, which sometimes veers into loudness. The Romeo & Juliet-style -- minute the tragedy, we assume -- leads are Joseph Haro and Ella Rae Peck and... let's just say they're not the focus of the pilot, so there's little opportunity for any real rapport to develop. "Welcome to the Family" is definitely slightly better than "Sean Saves the World" in the generic-and-voiceless filling of the network's Thursday Comedy Sandwich between the terrific "Parks and Rec" and the intriguing "Michael J. Fox Show."
Desire To Watch Again: Whatever desire I have to watch this one again comes mostly from my sense that Mike O'Malley is a smart, talented and funny guy who deserves a certain amount of support and my generalized respect for some of the remainder of the cast. I just don't see much upside here, because I don't see much aspiration. Even "Sean Saves the World" has more upside, albeit an upside that will only be realized if it becomes "Thomas Lennon & Echo Kellum Save the World." Because "Welcome to the Family" was painless and because it has a great lead-in, I'll give it one or two more episodes.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Millers'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'The Goldbergs' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Ironside'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'We Are Men' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Almost Human' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Back in the Game' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Sean Saves the World' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Reign' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Crazy Ones' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Enlisted' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Betrayal' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Blacklist' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'The Tomorrow People' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Hostages' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Sleepy Hollow' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Trophy Wife' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Michael J. Fox Show' 
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries

 


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<p>&quot;The Millers&quot;</p>

"The Millers"

Credit: CBS

Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Millers'

Will Greg Garcia's lure-them-with-farting strategy pay off?

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"The Millers" (CBS)
Airs:Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.
The Pitch: "Farting! So much farting! And family, too!"
Quick Response: I contemplated doing this blurb w/out mentioning farting, specifically the farts emanating from Emmy-winning thespian Margo Martindale. But the farts are a call-back joke within the pilot and they've played a noxious role in CBS' promotion of the show. So just because Greg Garcia may not think of "The Millers" as a farting show, it's not a non-farting pilot and since pilots are when you throw down the gauntlet for what you believe is the funny essence of your sitcom, it'd be hard to think that the essence of "The Millers" isn't at least somewhat malodorous. And it's a small pity, because in addition to being a dramatic powerhouse, Margo Martindale is also comedic commando, an actress fearless enough to dive into anything you give her and, in the case of "The Millers," that's jokes about farting, watching Beau Bridges masturbate and, somewhat more admirably, some physical business inspired by "Dirty Dancing." It happens that I like Greg Garcia. "My Name Is Earl" started strong. "Raising Hope" has evolved into a source of regular amusement and occasionally brilliant inspiration. But old people freak Greg Garcia out. The frequency with which Emmy winner Cloris Leachman is used for lazy "Wacky Old People Are Wacky" punchlines on "Raising Hope" is somewhere close to 85% (and that's the figure for the most recent season, which was EASILY Leachman's best). So it's worrisome that so much of what Martindale and Bridges do in the "Millers" pilot is only ostensibly "funny" because it's being done by characters so old that not even CBS is targeting them. The "Millers" pilot is a lengthy run of "It's gross when old people do things that young people do" jokes that just happen to be executed by an amazing cast. Martindale is gung-ho for anything and Bridges matches her, though "matching" in this case too often means watching two expert actors yell at each other. [This has become a hallmark of James Burrows' pilot work in recent years. It didn't used to be. Sigh.] Will Arnett, in contrast, continues his "Up All Night" trend of underplaying, which is probably the best possible thing he could do, though he's getting dangerously close to "straight man" territory here, which would be a waste of Will Arnett. Because original pilot co-stars Mary Elizabeth Ellis and Michael Rapaport have been replaced by Jayma Mays and Nelson Franklin, it's hard to evaluate the rest of "The Millers." Since even Garcia has admitted that the problem with Ellis and Rapaport in the pilot was a lack of writing... Well, we'll see!
Desire To Watch Again: Moderate. I had problems with the "Raising Hope" pilot, but I liked enough of it to stick with it. I'm glad I did. I chuckled a couple times at the pilot for "The Millers" and cringed in embarrassment a few times. But the couple chuckles, the cast and good faith for Greg Garcia will bring me back. Maybe Garcia just wanted to use the agesploitation as a way of introducing the series premise and, having established it, he'll be able to play to other strengths in future episodes? After all, he's already promised a string of fart-free episodes. In any case, since "The Big Bang Theory" has a set spot on my DVR -- CBS and WBTV make it difficult to catch up in other ways -- "The Millers" will get a few episodes at least.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'The Goldbergs' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Ironside'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'We Are Men' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Almost Human' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Back in the Game' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Sean Saves the World' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Reign' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Crazy Ones' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Enlisted' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Betrayal' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Blacklist' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'The Tomorrow People' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Hostages' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Sleepy Hollow' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Trophy Wife' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Michael J. Fox Show' 
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries

 

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 196

Dan and Alan talk 'Breaking Bad,' 'Orange Is The New Black,' 'The Killing' and more

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls.
 
Last week? Lots of new shows to review.
 
This week? No new shows to review.
 
So we caught up on the end of the "Killing" season, which we skipped last week. And I finished "Orange Is The New Black," so we discussed the full season of that. 
 
And, finally, we did the first "Breaking Bad" discussion of the season, followed by our Summer Pilot Rewatch, the marvelous "The Wonder Years."
 
Next week? It could be a thin week, so send questions!
 
And we're doing a Pilot Rewatch Double from J.J. Abrams: "Felicity" and "Alias."
 
Today's breakdown:
Listener Mail - TV recruiting Twitter writers (00:01:20 - 00:12:05)
Listener Mail - "The Good Wife" flaws (00:12:10 - 00:22:35)
"The Killing" (00:23:25 - 00:40:25)
"Orange Is The New Black" (00:40:30 - 00:58:00)
"Breaking Bad" (00:58:05 - 01:24:10)
Summer Pilot Rewatch - "The Wonder Years" (01:24:30 - 01:39:00)

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.] 

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

 

 

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<p>&quot;Brooklyn Nine-Nine&quot;</p>

"Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

Credit: FOX

Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine'

A strong ensemble and likable workplace make up for the lack of laughs

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"Brooklyn Nine-Nine" (FOX)
Airs:Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m.
The Pitch: I don't need to make up a sarcastic pitch for this one. You take two writers from "Parks and Recreation," add the directors of 21 Jump Street" (the movie) and throw in a cast led by Andy Samberg and the pitch is pretty straight-forward.
Quick Response: With that pitch and that pedigree comes certain expectations and if you come into the "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" pilot expecting a fully baked, perfectly balanced comedic concoction, you may find yourself a bit disappointed. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" is one of this fall's better comedy pilots, but it also fits into the "I liked spending 22 minutes in this world and I think I like the characters, but I didn't really laugh" category, which has a handful of entries. Everything in the pilot is nicely understated, starting with Andy Samberg, who I always find appealing disarming when he dispenses with the archness that infects (for better and for worse) so many of his "Saturday Night Live" personae. Instead of gunning for laughs, Samberg just establishes nice chemistry with Melissa Fumero and also with Andre Braugher, who has immediate fun tweaking the "Terse minority authority figure" convention. Also welcomingly near-natural are Joe LoTruglio and Chelsea Peretti, who could have played their roles as "wacky sidekicks," but don't. After being frustratingly wasted on "Arrested Development," Terry Crews is back in form as well and he winkingly slots "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" into the Vocational Irony Narrative genre with my favorite line from the pilot. What "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" instantly succeeds with is establishing the rhythms and rapport of the precinct room, swiftly introducing characters who could believably occupy the same space and showing the early connections between them. That's one of Dan Goor and Michael Schur's great achievements on "Parks and Rec" and the pieces are in place for more of the same here. [The undiscussed cast diversity is also a minor miracle -- This looks vaguely like I'd imagine a Brooklyn station would look, albeit with slightly prettier, funnier people.] I wish the pilot had a bit more comedic energy. The pilot uses a murder as the case-of-the-week and I sense that the show wants its procedural aspects to have at least some zip, but instead there's a lag every time anybody does any police work. That the couple action-for-laughs scenes fall a bit flat is also a letdown if you happen to have been a fan of "21 Jump Street," which really nailed the mix of adrenaline and laughs. For the show to work, the writers will need to hone the consistency of its comedic flow. There's value to the wacky cameos (FOX is promoting Fred Armisen's five seconds heavily), the goofy flashback cutaways, to the reference humor and to the near-parody elements and I have little doubt that the show can successfully integrate all of them in the future, but for a pilot it all left the comedic voice a little thinned.
Desire To Watch Again: The pieces are all here and they just need to gel a tiny bit more for "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" to become a winner. FOX is doing "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" no favors in pairing it with the toxic "Dads" as a lead-in. As likable male-driven comedies go, "Enlisted" would have been much more compatible and it wouldn't surprise me to eventually seem these two together. Then again, it also wouldn't surprise me to see "Raising Hope" migrate back to 8 p.m. if "Dads" fails fast and hard and while that wouldn't help the demographic flow FOX is pretending it's going for, it would at least have one funny show leading into another potentially funny show leading into the "New Girl"/"Mindy" hour.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'The Goldbergs' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Ironside'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'We Are Men' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Almost Human' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Back in the Game' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Sean Saves the World' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Reign' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Crazy Ones' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Enlisted' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Betrayal' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Blacklist' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'The Tomorrow People' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Hostages' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Sleepy Hollow' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Trophy Wife' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Michael J. Fox Show' 
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries

 

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<p>&quot;The Goldbergs&quot;</p>

"The Goldbergs"

Credit: ABC

Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'The Goldbergs'

If you like watching Jeff Garlin yell, ABC has a comedy for you

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"The Goldbergs" (ABC)
Airs:Tuesdays at 9 p.m.
The Pitch: It's "The Wonder Years" for Generation Y, if the point of "The Wonder Years" was that 1968 was an incredibly important year for humanity as seen through a prism of a young boy's coming of age, while the point of "The Goldbergs" is that 1985 was a completely irrelevant year other than pop culture references.
Quick Response: My favorite part of "The Goldbergs" was the closing credits. That sounds mean. It's not intended to be. Creator Adam Goldberg puts home-video footage of his actual family over the closing credits perhaps to fend off concerns that the characters comes across as too cartoonish. Nope. Turns out Adam Goldberg came from a somewhat cartoonish family. Again, that's not intended as an insult. Generationally, "The Goldbergs" is somewhere in my wheelhouse, so I'm perfectly happy to chuckle at a good GoBots, Alf or Brooke Shields joke. I just wish this pilot weren't predominantly a carousel rotating between pop culture references, Jeff Garlin bellowing, George Segal mugging, Jeff Garlin bellowing, Wendi McLendon-Covey being broadly brassy and Jeff Garlin bellowing again. There's a lot of Jeff Garlin working at a very high volume in this pilot and, ultimately, what it really needs is some sort of grounding, which could come from almost anywhere, but is initially lacking. Juvenile leading man Sean Giambrone is inoffensively sitcom-y, but sitcom-y none-the-less. Hayley Orranti is under-utilized. And Troy Gentile is hitting his punchlines way harder than the single-cam format would seem to demand. There's just a limit to how much wackiness can ensue without compensating moments of flawlessly effective heart. I'd point to "Malcolm in the Middle" and its pilot for an example of how you can sell a full slate of larger-than-life characters if the genuine emotion lands as well. Ultimately, it's the difference between the rather expert work of "Malcolm" pilot director Todd Holland, a frequent master of pilot tone, and the disjointed work of "Goldbergs" director Seth Gordon, who just cranks up the volume and hopes that the viewers will understand when things are supposed to be cartoonish and when they're supposed to be real. With this, "Meet the Fishers" and "Surviving Jack," it's a big year for "Wonder Years"-style inside glimpses at childhood and it's possible that because I just rewatched the "Wonder Years" pilot, I'm holding all of them to a higher standard, a standard none of them even come within hailing distance of. It's also possible that because I watched all of the ABC comedies in a short window, I was able to catch all of the recurring jokes that seem to be trickling from their development pipeline and they're too familiar to me. Or maybe this is just an all-too-familiar comedy with a couple interesting aesthetic tics. [I'll leave the big question -- "Is it good for the Jews?" -- for an eventual review or podcast, because it's a bit of a concern.]
Desire To Watch Again: I'll be watching "S.H.I.E.L.D." and "Trophy Wife" is one of my favorite fall comedy pilots, so wedged in between then, I'll be somewhat patient to see if "The Goldbergs," and particularly the near-deafening performances in "The Goldbergs," settle in a bit. It'll be all about smoothing things out with this one. The pilot is rough, but I don't hate it.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Ironside'
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'We Are Men' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Almost Human' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Back in the Game' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Sean Saves the World' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Reign' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Crazy Ones' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Enlisted' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Betrayal' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Blacklist' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'The Tomorrow People' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Hostages' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Sleepy Hollow' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Trophy Wife' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Michael J. Fox Show' 
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries

 

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<p>Blair Underwood of &quot;Ironside&quot;</p>

Blair Underwood of "Ironside"

Credit: NBC

Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Ironside'

Blair Underwood shines, but is that enough?

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"Ironside" (NBC)
Airs:Wednesdays at 10 p.m.
The Pitch: You know that show "Ironside"? Do we think the brand has ANY equity for today's audience? Excellent. Now how about if it stars Blair Underwood? He's a TV star, right? I mean, even if he hasn't anchored a hit show in... decades.
Quick Response: I don't want to say that Blair Underwood has been complacent in recent years, but I wouldn't say that "Dirty Sexy Money," "The Event" and "New Adventures of Old Christine" asked much of him other than being handsome, suave and determined. In contrast, "Ironside" actually asks a lot of Underwood and he delivers a performance that is fierce, physically challenging and intellectually interesting, without ever ceasing to be handsome, suave and determined. There's an anger and frustration to Underwood's Ironside that makes the character seem nuanced and sometimes dangerous, and turns the character into more than just a wheelchair-bound, crime-solving version of House. This is Underwood's best work in years and, at the very least, that gives "Ironside" a key central piece to work with. And with Brent Sexton, Pablo Schreiber and "Greek" veteran Spencer Grammer, there are the elements here for what could be a reasonably good ensemble around Underwood. Unfortunately, the procedural aspects of "Ironside" are utterly generic and the integration of flashbacks, so that Underwood isn't wheelchair-bound 100 percent of the time, add more to the amelioration of Underwood's work schedule (and to the answering of "Why didn't you hire a differently able actor to play this role?" questions) than to the narrative. The pilot underuses Schreiber and Grammer, barely gives Neal Bledsoe a character, leaves Kenneth Choi with uninteresting authority figure blather and poorly integrates Sexton. So what should be an ensemble is Underwood carrying the whole whole load and as good as he is, he can't make you ignore the fact that you're ignoring whatever the case-of-the-week happens to be. I think there's a version of "Ironside" that evolves down its own path and capitalizes heavily on its New York City location shooting that probably takes after NBC's underrated "Prime Suspect," another remake that had too many issues and ties to the original that it had to work out in its pilot and had lost nearly all of its audience by the time it became really good. With a background on "The Sopranos" and "Rescue Me," creator Michael Caleo has some potential, but any and all enthusiasm stemming from the pilot is generated by Underwood's searing performance and not by the show around him.
Desire To Watch Again: Even a perfect version of "Ironside" is an entry in a genre that I only have tepid interest in, though I'm likely to give this an episode or two because it's in a slot in which my DVR isn't overtaxed -- "Nashville" and likely some cable stuff. What I need is for the ensemble to get a swift blending, without sacrificing the uncompromising nature of Underwood's performance. Adding even a tiny bit of inspiration to the procedural aspects wouldn't hurt.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'We Are Men' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Almost Human' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Back in the Game' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Sean Saves the World' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Reign' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Crazy Ones' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Enlisted' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Betrayal' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Blacklist' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'The Tomorrow People' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Hostages' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Sleepy Hollow' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Trophy Wife' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Michael J. Fox Show' 
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries

 

 

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<p>&quot;Downton Abbey&quot;</p>

"Downton Abbey"

Credit: PBS

Press Tour: PBS chief repeats the party line on 'Downton Abbey,' 'Sherlock' premieres

'Downton' will continue to air late in the States
It's been nearly eight months since PBS President Paula Kerger last met with reporters to discuss why the blazes "Downton Abbey" and other PBS programs don't air domestically at the same time as they do Across the Pond.
 
On Tuesday (August 6), Kerger had her latest Television Critics Association press tour panel with reporters and was, predictably, asked the same familiar questions about spoilers and online piracy and whether or not those threats might lead to a premiere shift for PBS' ratings standard-bearers. 
 
The short answer? Nope! It'll be delays-as-usual for "Downton Abbey," which hits PBS on January 5, and probably for "Sherlock," which has a yet-to-be-determined spring return.
 
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