Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 200

Dan and Alan talk 'Sons of Anarchy,' 'Derek' and the pilot for 'The Wire'

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls! It's time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
Depending on how you keep count, this is either Episode 200 for the podcast, or the 199th podcast that Sepinwall and I have done together. It all depends on whether or not you believe in Podcast No. 34.
 
In any case, if this was a milestone, it goes unremarked upon within the podcast. Instead, we talk about "Sons of Anarchy," Netflix's "Derek," Sunday's "Breaking Bad" -- Sepinwall loved it, I do not, disagreements ensue and y'all will take Alan's side -- and we conclude our Summer Pilot Rewatch with a long segment on "The Wire."
 
And next week? All Hell breaks loose, fall season-wise.
 
Here's today's breakdown:
"Sons of Anarchy" (00:00:40 - 00:19:00)
"Derek" (00:19:00 - 00:29:40)
"Breaking Bad" (00:30:00 - 01:03:00)
Summer Pilot Rewatch - "The Wire" (01:03:40 - 01:33:40)

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.

 

 

<p>The CW's &quot;Star-Crossed&quot;</p>

The CW's "Star-Crossed"

Credit: The CW

Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Star-Crossed'

It's The CW like you've frequently seen The CW before!

[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:"Star-Crossed" (The CW)
Airs:Midseason
The Pitch: "It's like Roswell, only with aliens! Oh. Wait. It's like 'Beauty and the Beast' if the only thing beastly about the Beast was a couple marks on his face! Oh. Wait. It's like 'Vampire Diaries' if she were a human and he were the one with impressive powers! Oh. Wait. It's like every CW show ever made. It's The Uber-CW Show!"
Quick Response: On Thursdays at 9 p.m. this fall, The CW is airing the strange, risky, possibly off-brand period drama "Reign," which isn't such a terrific match with "Vampire Diaries" or anything else on the network. Part of what's allowing The CW to take that chance is that the network has possibly the most on-brand piece of programming imaginable on its bench ready to go in. It's hard to believe that Matt Lanter's only been on one CW show. It's hard to believe that Aimee Teegarden's only CW experience is a couple episodes of "90210" and the first pilot for "The Selection." Put them together and it's a match made in brooding-but-affectless and wide-eyed-but-plucky heaven. Or does that sound too positive? Or negative? I really can't say. There are aspects of Meredith Averill's script that come across as a bit more layered than necessary -- Teegarden's character is an outsider because of health problems, while the crash landed aliens have a parallel Earth society that borrows more than a little from "District 9," only with the ETs looking wicked hot instead of like prawns. It's near-future speculative fiction and "Star-Crossed" has a few ideas regarding how people and society would react to this sort of close encounter and some of those reactions are slightly fresh and not so wildly outlandish (others are wildly outlandish and fairly stale), so I guess I appreciated that degree (some degree) of differentiation from "Roswell" and whatnot? Mostly, though, this is straight-forward, generic CW love-triangle stuff, made even more generic by the presence of Grey Damon, who seems to specialize in being in the middle of semi-supernatural love triangles on either The CW or ABC Family. [And no, I don't remember if Hastings Ruckle and Julie Taylor ever shared quality time together, so "Star-Crossed" doesn't get to benefit from additional "FNL" flashback glow in the way it might have if they'd cast Zach Gilford here. Teegarden is, incidentally, nearly unrecognizable here from her Dillon Days.] There's a commentary on American immigration policy vis a vis aliens that there's a 3% chance "Star-Crossed" might become. There's a 97% chance that "Star-Crossed" will just become another CW show about the pretty girl torn between the man her loins crave and the man she knows is better for her psyche. And there's a 60% chance that I'll watch every episode of "Star-Crossed" no matter which show it becomes. Sigh. I'm weak and I feel like shows like "Star-Crossed" are mass-produced to take advantage of my weakness and the weakness of women aged 18-34. Damn you, CW.
Desire To Watch Again: Desire? Meh. Inevitability? Probably. I end up watching a lot of The CW. You know this about me. I watched the entire initial run of "Cult," for heaven's sake (before it got pulled and held to the summer, when I quit). It takes something as unbearable as "Beauty and the Beast" to scare me away. This is much, much better than "Beauty and the Beast," though it's much, much worse than "Vampire Diaries." But is it worse than "Vampire Diaries" when it first premiered? Probably not. It's just blander.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Intelligence' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Crisis' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Rake'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Mom' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Lucky 7'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Dads' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Super Fun Night'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Welcome to the Family' 
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

 

 

<p>Josh Holloway of &quot;Intelligence&quot;</p>

Josh Holloway of "Intelligence"

Credit: CBS

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

It's like 'Chuck' only for CBS, so much less fun and more likely to be popular

[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:"Intelligence" (CBS)
Airs:Mondays at 10 p.m. at Midseason
The Pitch: "He's like Chuck, only without that pesky nerdiness. And likability."
Quick Response: Josh Holloway's character in "Intelligence" is like Chuck Bartowski except that his Intersect is more of an in-brain dial-up modem giving him access to all of the world's networked data, but when it comes to the physical side of things, he has an advanced military record already. That means that the character has no charming awkwardness, because he was already a cocky Alpha before he got his enhancements, leading to a guy who would be really unappealingly smug except that he's played by Holloway and may be unappealingly smug despite being played by Holloway. This could just be a personal preference thing. As a kid, I loved "Greatest American Hero" and was less interested in "Six Million Dollar Man" -- I like the humility of a person who gets improvements he may not necessarily be prepared to handle, as opposed to a efficient killing machine who just gets new powers. And those new powers are already well-established when the series begins. It's a mistake of point-of-entry perspective, since we don't get to see Holloway's character adapt and the only character coming into this high-tech world for the first time is Meghan Ory's secret service agent, who doesn't seem especially shocked by anything she's discovering. If nobody on-screen is impressed, it's harder for people in the audience to be impressed. [You'll recall that "S.H.I.E.L.D." has three point-of-entry characters, which I said was maybe too many, but at least the pilot doesn't lack for people being in awe.] But I guess this is the way CBS likes it. This is cold and impersonal stuff, paying lip-service to the idea of an ongoing mythology, but delivering a pilot that's mostly perfunctory exposition -- "We gave a human the kind of power that had previously only been found in a machine. We created a man who was the first of his kind, an advanced intelligence agent." -- and belabored procedure, which I think will play just fine for a CBS audience. I suspect that that's not the audience that reads my blog and that the audience that likes the kind of TV I like will wonder why, other than Holloway's gruff sarcasm, the pilot is so devoid of incredulity-defusing humor and why the chemistry-free chatter -- it's not even up to the level of "banter" -- between Holloway and Ory is expected to be enough to instigate the Will-They/Won't-They investment that the show needs to thrive (even if all suggestions are that it won't be an immediate thing). Nothing in the "Intelligence" pilot was straight-up bad, but the visualization of the main character's skill-set is lackluster, the action sequences are weakly choreographed and the long-term plot is tough to care about. So it comes down to: Do you like Holloway, Ory and Marg Helgenberger? Are you willing enough to watch a show with them to see if "Intelligence" ultimately has higher aspirations than what the pilot sets out? Shrug.
Desire To Watch Again: "Intelligence" comes across as a less-interesting version of "Person of Interest," which even in its dreadful pilot seemed to have bigger things on its mind. I stuck around with "Person of Interest" and there were five or six episodes last season in which I felt that patience was rewarded. I'll at least give "Intelligence" one or two more episodes. Honestly, I think I liked the pilot more before watching it a second time at Comic-Con. Lots of pilots -- including "S.H.I.E.L.D." -- really aren't designed for rewatching, they're clunky engines meant to blast you into regular viewing. This wasn't much of a blast.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Crisis' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Rake'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Mom' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Lucky 7'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Dads' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Super Fun Night'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Welcome to the Family' 
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

 

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 199

Dan and Alan talk 'Boardwalk Empire,' 'Luther,' 'Breaking Bad' and more

The

Happy Tuesday, Boys & Girls! It's time for a busy installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast. 
 
We've had a couple slow weeks with nothing to review and no real news to discuss, but this week's podcast is back to being busy.
 
We've got reviews of the new seasons of "Luther," "Boardwalk Empire" and the premieres of FXX's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and "The League," as well as our normal discussion of "Breaking Bad." We also talked a bit about the new "American Idol" judging panel, just because.
 
And we revealed our last Summer Pilot ReWatch option, which will tie that particular project up in a nice bow.
 
Today's breakdown:
New "Idol" Judges (00:01:05 - 00:10:30)
"Luther" (00:10:30 - 00:22:00)
FXX's Launch (00:22:05 - 00:41:00)
"Boardwalk Empire" (00:41:00 - 01:02:20)
"Breaking Bad" (01:02:45 - 01:28:00)
The last Summer Pilot ReWatch (01:28:00 - 01:30:40)

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.

 

 

<p>&quot;Crisis&quot;</p>

"Crisis"

Credit: NBC

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

Dermot Mulroney's hostage drama tops Dylan McDermott's 'Hostages'

[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:"Crisis" (NBC)
Airs:Midseason
The Pitch: "It's 'Hostages' only with Dermot Mulroney!"
Quick Response: In the Dylan McDermott/Dermot Mulroney battle of conspiracy-fueled, DC-based hostage dramas with bland one-word titles, the winner is Mulroney's "Crisis," at least for me. Yes, "Crisis" has several easy-to-predict twists and a frustrating in medias res opening and some character motivations that are totally transparent. And as with "Hostages," it feels more like the set-up for a movie or brief miniseries than anything with real legs. And a lot of Rand Ravich's dialogue -- "You're my problem and now I'm yours!" -- sounds like it was lifted from a Michael Bay or Roland Emmerich summer blockbuster. And I can't talk about half of the characters and half of the performances without saying things that would probably give other things away. So that's a lot of negatives. But negatives aside, Ravich's script also has a lot of unexpected and interesting beats and taking a group of well-reared school children as hostages rather than a boring-as-hell family gives Ravich an astounding number of potential directions to take things, at least in the short-term. And while I ended "Hostages" thinking, "I don't quite know where things go from here and I don't care," I ended the "Crisis" pilot thinking, "I don't quite know where things go from here, but there are a handful of paths that might be interesting." A frequently reliable (and sometimes hacky) feature thriller director, Phillip Noyce orchestrates a pilot in which a ton happens in a very condensed time-frame and a lot of it is at least initially entertaining. Unlike "Hostages," which was all about the prolongation of a simple situation, the "Crisis" pilot has a very high narrative burn-rate for a 43-minute network drama. I'd say the pilot has two or three climaxes which, with different arrangement of plotpoints, could have been held to end the second and third episodes, but get plowed through immediately. The immediate concern is whether Ravich threw the kitchen sink into the pilot to make sure it would test well, leaving the cupboard bare, or if he knew he had so much story to tell that he had move at breakneck speed. Ravich has some really poor feature credits, but due to his work on "Life," he's got short-term benefit-of-the-doubt from me. I don't wanna say too much but with Gillian Anderson, Rachael Taylor, Michael Beach and whatever your feelings happen to be towards Mulroney, there's a good cast of familiar stars and the kids, who aren't overburdened in the pilot, seem pretty and not-initially-inept (that's all I can ask). "Crisis" definitely isn't bad, especially if you watch it soon after "Hostages."
Desire To Watch Again: A lot of my desire to watch "Crisis" long-term will depend on where NBC puts it at midseason, but that midseason berth also means that before it premieres critics probably will get three or four episodes as screeners. I'll be happy to watch a couple more and that will give me a better sense of whether Ravich had a full bag of tricks or just enough for a pilot.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Rake'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Mom' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Lucky 7'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Dads' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Super Fun Night'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Welcome to the Family' 
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

 


<p>Greg Kinnear of &quot;Rake&quot;</p>

Greg Kinnear of "Rake"

Credit: FOX

Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Rake'

Greg Kinnear's midseason legal dramedy has real potential

[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:"Rake" (FOX)
Airs:Thursdays at 9 p.m. at Midseason
The Pitch: "House, JD"
Quick Response: It's hard to figure the exact percentage of the early appeal of "House" that rested on Hugh Laurie, but I think that "Rake" requires at least as much of star Greg Kinnear, who is playing a lawyer wacky enough for a David E. Kelley dramedy, but also screwed up enough for something much darker. We're introduced to Kinnear's character asking a hooker to perform oral surgery on him (not in a sexy way) and the show dives deep into the muck to introduces us to his world of seedy clients -- Denis O'Hare is a hoot in a role that I'd wager will become the "Rake" equivalent of Dylan Baker's constantly-in-trouble character on "The Good Wife" -- cross-dressing pimps, amiable henchmen, probably racially problematic associates and potentially dangerous adversaries. After only one viewing, I'd say that Sam Raimi's directing efforts on the pilot are surprisingly anonymous on an aesthetic level -- This isn't like the terrifically distinctive work Bryan Singer did on the "House" pilot -- but in the place of pyrotechnics, Raimi does something more important for the long-term future of "Rake": He sets the tone of the universe and the tone feels like a good piece of comedy-infused hard-boiled fiction, not quite on the level of an Elmore Leonard or a George Pelecanos or a Dennis Lehane (when those guys are trying to be funny), but in that aspirational range. So I'm relatively able to ignore that Kinnear's character only sometimes seems as charming or as brilliant as people keep suggesting he is. I'm relatively able to overlook that there are a lot of "types" among the supporting characters, but no fully developed characters. And I'm not appreciably worried that the legal shenanigans in the pilot are wicked silly and unbelievable. Liking Kinnear helps a lot in ignoring those failings and he does what is asked, starting by over-accentuating the goofy side of his character, but then showcasing the self-destructive side that makes this guy suited for an hour-long drama-type-thing rather than a comedy. This could almost be an FX show, which I mean in a good way. By the end, I was actually surprised by how the story had pulled me in and how involved I became. But boy oh boy they're gonna have to make better use of Miranda Otto and John Ortiz and the rest of the supporting cast as the show progresses. The pilot is close to a one-man show, with other objects just ricocheting off of Greg Kinnear. And it's not like Greg Kinnear is universally loved.
Desire To Watch Again: It's not there yet, but of all of the network pilots I watched this year, "Rake" is perhaps the one with the greatest upside, because I really can see how it could become another "House" or how it could come to feel like a West Coast spin-off from "The Good Wife." Other than "S.H.I.E.L.D." (and, I guess, "The Originals," which doesn't count) "Rake" is the drama that I can most easily imagine myself watching every week. "American Idol" has no drawing power anymore, but I still like that FOX is *trying* to give "Rake" a launching pad, because I might want this one to stick around.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Mom' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Lucky 7'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Dads' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Super Fun Night'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Welcome to the Family' 
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

 

 

 

 

<p>&quot;Mom&quot;</p>

"Mom"

Credit: CBS

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

Anna Faris and Allison Janney could star in a great comedy, but the pilot isn't there

[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:"Mom" (CBS)
Airs:Mondays at 9:30 p.m.
The Pitch: "1 Broke Girl & Her Mum"
Quick Response: "Mom" is the last of the fall premieres to get a Take Me To The Pilots entry. [EDIT: I forgot about "Dracula." I keep forgetting about "Dracula," which NBC made easier by not doing anything with "Dracula" at either Comic-Con or TCA press tour. One of these days I'll watch it. But I'm transitioning into midseason pilots for a while after this.] That's because "Mom" is exactly what you think it is, for better and (somewhat more) for worse. Suggesting that this Chuck Lorre-produced multi-cam comedy is too broad for its own good and that its coarseness is frequently cringeworthy -- i.e. a joke about a teenager's sex-stained sheets -- would have all of the shock or value of saying a David Milch pilot was wordy and somewhat cryptic or that the characters on an Amy Sherman-Palladino show kept talking faster than real people actually talk. There are whole characters and subplots -- the slutty teenage daughter, French Stewart's one-liner-spouting snobby chef ("Beat those egg whites gently, as if they were a small, annoying child," is the pinnacle of his comedic contribution) -- that I could excise entirely, though at least I get the generational purpose of the horny daughter stuff. I would, in general, say that "Mom" is not a very good pilot. But there are kernels here that I'm curious about, things that work exactly as well as you might hope. Anna Faris has always been an admirably committed comedienne, an actress never afraid of playing ugly or pushing her performances "big" if the situation requires. And here, she hits every sitcom-y punchline with authority and when she's asked to cry ridiculously, she does it with an agility that calls to mind some TV greats (I'm resisting naming names because hyperbole will do me no favors). Faris also nails the dramatic scenes. Her character is a recovering addict and the AA scene at the show's center is actually its most interesting element, just as the Overeaters Anonymous scene gave the "Mike & Molly" pilot a weirdly grounded core that was immediately drowned out in a sea of fat jokes, causing me to stop watching after five or six episodes. [No clue if it got better. Some people still seem to like that show.] A version of "Mom" that I would watch would continue to keep the recovery thread as close to the surface as possible, because that melancholy shading would benefit Faris and also benefit Allison Janney, who is fine here, but isn't asked to do nearly enough. I'm still a strong advocate of Janney's work in "Mr. Sunshine" (Yay) and I appreciate the amount of "damaged" she's capable of bringing to comedic characters. My ideal "Mom" is a bit like NBC's "Go On" in tone. And you know who doesn't care about that ideal? Chuck Lorre! Oh and viewers, because audiences didn't like "Go On." I think that French Stewart and the glibly treated teenage daughter and the pot-dealing ex (even if he's played by the always-welcome Matt Jones) are the Lorre-est elements of this pilot and probably the elements the subsequent episodes are more likely to accentuate. There's a good show featuring Faris and Janney and roughly this premise. The pilot has maybe five minutes of that show and 17 minutes of something else.
Desire To Watch Again: After a podcast a few weeks ago, I was forced to go back to my "2 Broke Girls" Take Me To The Pilot to see that I was far more generous towards the show than I would feel only a week or two later. My feeling was that there was a potentially great show starring Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs and then there was everything around them and I hoped it became the good version of itself and, instead, it continued to be the bad version. I think "Mom" is a lot like "2 Broke Girls," where there's a version that could well become a big hit for CBS and then there's the version I'd like, which would probably have to be on NBC or FOX and would probably tank. The networks have conspired to make Mondays at 9 into one of the weakest hours for me all season. Just as this time period will give me a chance to let "Sleepy Hollow" settle into itself, I'll probably also give "Mom" a chance to become the show I don't want it to be. And yes, I'll probably keep watching "2 Broke Girls," which is an all-too-fitting lead-in.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Lucky 7'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Dads' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Super Fun Night'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Welcome to the Family' 
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

 

 

 

<p>Kyle Chandler</p>

Kyle Chandler

Credit: Dan Steinberg/AP

Interview: Kyle Chandler explains why 'Spectacular Now' scared him and 'The Vatican' attracted him

And a 'Friday Night Lights' movie? No comment.
It probably isn't accurate to call Kyle Chandler a "revelation" in the Sundance hit "The Spectacular Now." After all, he won an Emmy for "Friday Night Lights" in an iconic role that constantly challenged his range, but never found any limitations. 
 
But maybe it would be accurate to say that the version of Kyle Chandler we see in "The Spectacular Now" is the revelation. In James Ponsoldt's film, which has been performing well in increasingly wide release, Chandler plays  the long-absent father to Miles Teller's live-in-the-moment Sutter, a character discussed off-screen until his on-screen arrival marks one of the film's turning points.
 
It spoils none of the film's pleasure to say that from his stubble to his accent to his posture, this is a very different version of Kyle Chandler. In my review from Sundance, I wrote that "Kyle Chandler is at his least Coach Taylor-y in  a key role," which I meant as a high compliment.
 
With "The Spectacular Now" expanding its theater count, I talked with Chandler this week about why he accepted this image-shifting role, why the part scared him and what he learned from the experience. We also discussed his Ridley Scott-directed Showtime pilot "The Vatican," but when I brought up a possible "Friday Night Lights" movie at the very end of the conversation... Well, you'll see.
 
Click through for the full interview. 
 
Read Full Post
<p>&quot;Lucky 7&quot;</p>

"Lucky 7"

Credit: ABC

Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Lucky 7'

Director Paul McGuigan gives this lottery winner drama some life

[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:"Lucky 7" (ABC)
Airs: Tuesdays at 10 p.m.
The Pitch: Remember "Windfall" on NBC? That's right. Nobody else does either. This is totally fresh and new, then! Lottery winners! Sometimes it's not so easy for them!
Quick Response: Watch "Lucky 7" after watching most of the season's other new network dramas. That's my best recommendation. I certainly don't think that "Lucky 7" is great drama, but relative to most of the season's pilots, it's populated with semi-likable characters played by actors who aren't predictable Central Casting retreads and, most importantly, the pilot moves like lightning. For the latter attribute, I give an awful lot of credit to pilot director Paul McGuigan, who did the BBC "Sherlock," as well as the pilots for "Scandal" and "Devious Maids." I don't think McGuigan always directs "well" and he's prone to over-directing, but in overcompensating he gives momentum to situations that sometimes could use a shot of adrenaline. And this is absolutely one of those instances. David Zabel's script is a VAST improvement over his work on "Betrayal" -- this is an example of in medias res time shifting that at least somewhat rewards the viewer -- but it's also pretty generic stuff. [That Zabel also has the worst paced pilot I've ever watched premiering this fall makes me even more inclined to hold McGuigan responsible for what works here.] He's crafted broadly amiable characters, but I'd guess that 90 percent of what I like about those characters comes from the well-assembled cast. There are really solid and immediately inhabited performances from Anastasia Phillips, Louis Antonio Ramos, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Summer Bishil and, particularly, Lorraine Bruce. Kudos to Bruce, who played the same role in the British original "The Syndicate," but I never would have even considered that she originally hails from Manchester. Matt Long is positioned as the reassuringly Caucasian and bland leading man and he acquits himself reasonably. Thanks to McGuigan, "Lucky 7" zips along stylishly and, in 43 minutes, introduces its characters, introduces basic needs and desires for each of the characters and weaves around through time smoothly enough to impose a dash of mystery and a dash of ethical unrest. That's something!
Desire To Watch Again: I would say that that's enough to make "Lucky 7" one of my three or four favorite new network dramas of the fall, but that's such a low bar. Watched amidst a slew of total duds and misfires, this was a pleasant surprise. That doesn't mean I have any anxiousness to see additional episodes, even in a time slot where it's going up against a pair of shows -- "Person of Interest" and "Chicago Fire" -- that I watch regularly, but only occasionally genuinely enjoy. It's possible that I like "Lucky 7" just enough that I'll be willing to defend it when other people criticize it with needless harshness, but not enough that I'm going to be driven to watch it every week. But we'll see. I'll watch a second episode and adapt. This is the capper to ABC's all-new Tuesday and, really, it makes almost no sense. It isn't compatible with the other Tuesday shows on ABC and it's really "soft" for a 10 p.m. show. Dunno.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Dads' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Super Fun Night'  
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Welcome to the Family' 
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

 

 

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 198

Dan and Alan talk 'Breaking Bad' and 'Miami Vice'

The

Happy Wednesday, Boys & Girls!
 
This week has been slightly chaotic in terms of scheduling, plus it has also been light on content, but we still managed to make time for a truncated installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
It's pretty clean and simple: We talked about Sunday's episode of "Breaking Bad," titled "Confessions," and then we also discussed this week's Summer Pilot ReWatch, "Miami Vice."
 
Next week'll be busy with premieres of "Boardwalk Empire," "Luther" and FXX, plus a new "Breaking Bad," but we'll wrap up the Summer Pilot ReWatch the following week. We haven't chosen a pilot to watch yet for that final installment, so suggestions are welcome!
 
Apologies if I'm even more discombobulated than usual. We had to record before my caffeine had fully kicked in.
 
Anyway, here's today's breakdown:
"Breaking Bad" (00:01:20 - 00:30:45)
"Miami Vice" (00:30:50 - 00:53:00)

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.