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.

 

 

<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

 

<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

 

<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

 

 

<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.
 
Read Full Post

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 195

Dan and Alan talk TCA Press Tour, 'Broadchurch,' 'Breaking Bad' and 'The O.C.'

The

Happy Late Monday, Boys & Girls! It's time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
We were originally gonna do a podcast, plus a little little video thing, but there were hiccups. 
 
Instead, it's a full podcast without our faces. In this installment, we talk for a long while about the second half of TCA press tour, review "Broadchurch" and "Low Winter Sun" and we enthusiastically endorse the new season of "Breaking Bad," even if we can't say much.
 
And then, even though we said this week's Summer Pilot Rewatch was going to be "The Wonder Years," we decided instead to talk about the pilot for "The O.C.," which celebrated its 10th anniversary today. 
 
Here's today's breakdown:
TCA Press Tour (00:02:20 - 00:38:50)
"Broadchurch" (00:39:30 - 00:51:15)
"Breaking Bad" (00:51:15 - 00:54:50)
"Low Winter Sun" (00:54:50 - 01:06:00)
The 10th Anniversary of "The O.C." (01:06:00 - 01:24:30)

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>Paul Lee at the January 2013 TCA press tour</p>

Paul Lee at the January 2013 TCA press tour

Credit: ABC

Press Tour Live-Blog: ABC's Paul Lee

Expect talk about 'S.H.I.E.L.D.,' 'Wonderland' and more

Paul Lee is just moments away from taking the stage to justify another season of mixed ABC ratings, but most of the buzz in the ballroom is about the new Doctor.

We're easily distracted.

Let's see if Paul Lee can get our attentions back with his usual talk of ABC's brand and the scrumptiousness of the network's programming!

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<p>John Landgraf at January's Television Critics Association press tour</p>

John Landgraf at January's Television Critics Association press tour

Credit: FX

Press Tour Live-Blog: John Landgraf on the State of FX Networks

Critical favorite will discuss the FX/FXX split and probably mock Netflix

It's Friday (August 2) morning at the utterly endless Television Critics Association press tour.

Today is FX's day, featuring panels for "Sons of Anarchy," "American Horror Story: Coven" and "The Bridge," among many others.

But first? FX CEO John Landgraf.

Click through for updates on all things FX...

Read Full Post
<p>FOX Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly at January's TCA panel</p>

FOX Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly at January's TCA panel

Credit: FOX

Press Tour Live-Blog: FOX's Kevin Reilly

Expect talk about 'Idol,' Cory Monteith and more from FOX's chief

It was a mixed-to-negative season for FOX Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly.

Yes, he developed and launched "The Following," which was one of the year's biggest drama hits.

However, he also watched as "The X Factor" continued to struggle, "American Idol" became increasing mortal and both reality shows continued to hemorrhage judges. He was forced to continue to renew struggling comedies and pretend they were successes. And after giving a surprising two-season renewal to "Glee" last spring, Reilly and FOX now face the challenge of promoting a show coping with a very real tragedy.

Click through to follow Reilly's Thursday (August 1) morning executive session at the Television Critics Association press tour.

Read Full Post

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 194

Dan and Alan talk TCA Press Tour, 'Clear History' and 'My So-Called Life'

The

Happy Wednesday, Boys & Girls!
 
It's a double-dose of Firewall & Iceberg this week!
 
On Monday, we did a videocast, discussing the first couple days of TCA Press Tour.
 
And today? It's a full-on Firewall & Iceberg podcast, complete with lengthy chatter about the past few press tour days, as well as the slightly delayed Summer Pilot Rewatch of "My So-Called Life." 
 
Because next week's podcast (posting at a time TBD) is potentially jam-packed, we also moved our review of Larry David's HBO telefilm "Clear History" up to today.
 
Oh and our next Summer Pilot Rewatch? We're sticking in the coming-of-age vein, but we're transitioning to comedy with "The Wonder Years."
 
Here's today's breakdown:
TCA Press Tour (00:02:00 - 00:45:30)
"Clear History" (00:45:30 - 54:30)
Summer Pilot Rewatch: "My So-Called Life" (00:54:30 - 01:11:30)

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.