<p>Joseph Morgan of &quot;The Originals&quot;</p>

Joseph Morgan of "The Originals"

Credit: The CW

9 Thoughts on The CW's 'The Originals' Season 2 Premiere

Thoughts on Esther's plan, Phoebe Tonkin's accent, Rebekah and more

In retrospect, it wasn't all that shocking that it took less than a season for "The Originals" to usurp "The Vampire Diaries."

"The Originals" wasn't just a spinoff that took one character away from "The Vampire Diaries." For the better part of two season, Joseph Morgan was a menacing force on "TVD," while Daniel Gillies and Claire Holt supplied both charm and threat. [I'm not going to try pretending that Phoebe Tonkin's Hayley was any particular key cog in the "Vampire Diaries" machine, but y'all know I like Phoebe Tonkin.]

Stripped of Morgan, Gillies, Holt and Tonkin, "Vampire Diaries" was left with a fundamental adversarial weakness in its fifth season and the show compensated by doubling and tripling down on doppelgängers and by trying to make viewers care about Travelers, who were scary enough to make you clutch your passport if they sat next to you on a Eurail journey, but nothing more. In only a season, "Vampire Diaries" went from a show that constantly made fans say "Whoa" to a show that mostly left me saying, "Huh?"

In contrast, "The Originals" went through the sort of early series growing pains that every new show goes through -- Denizens of Mystic Falls were compelled to forget Stefan's time as a football stud -- in short order. There was a clarity of purpose that was admirable and understandable. See, vampires and werewolves and witches all wanted a piece of New Orleans' French Quarter. And who could blame them? Oysters! Po Boys! Gumbo! Jazz! Even if I couldn't always understand the in-fighting within the factions, I knew that vampires, werewolves and witches don't get along under normal circumstances and as those factions battled and a seemingly human faction interceded as well, that made for a clear narrative thrust. 

Did I still have problems with "The Originals"? Certainly. 

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<p>Jennifer Lopez</p>

Jennifer Lopez

Credit: Jordan Strauss/AP

Jennifer Lopez's NBC drama 'Shades of Blue' still exists, will be directed by Barry Levinson

'Homicide' vet has an Oscar and four Emmys

NBC announced the Jennifer Lopez drama "Shades of Blue" back in February, revealing that the police procedural had received a 13-episode direct-to-series order for the 2015-16 season. That was an impressive piece of longterm planning from the network, which was months from ending the 2013-14 season and only in the early phases of plotting its schedule for the 2014-15 season.

Given the foresight of the announcement, it's not surprising that nobody has really said much about "Shades of Blue" for the past eight months, which made it a pleasant surprise to get Monday's (October 6) release saying that not only does NBC remember that "Shades of Blue" exists, but a director has been hired, an Oscar and Emmy winner at that.

Per NBC, Barry Levinson will direct the "Shades of Blue" pilot and will serve as executive producer. Levinson will also "be hands-on and participate in the development process," which is a good thing is you're working on a police drama and you secure the attentions of one of the men behind "Homicide: Life on the Street."

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<p>Katia Winter of &quot;Sleepy Hollow&quot;</p>

Katia Winter of "Sleepy Hollow"

Credit: FOX

Interview: 'Sleepy Hollow' co-star Katia Winter on getting to know Katrina in Season 2

FOX star also discusses the challenges of Deep South production

WILMINGTON, NC. It's nearly half-way through production on the second season of FOX's "Sleepy Hollow" and Katia Winter is getting to scratch an itch.

Let's pretend that I'm being metaphorical and talking about the expanded opportunities for Winter's Katrina, who spent the first "Sleepy Hollow" as more of a recurring plot device than a recurring character. She'd show up in expositional flashbacks or she'd pop up to help cut a narrative corner through witchcraft, but it was hard to get a feeling for Katrina as a person, much less for Katrina and Ichabod as a couple.

Perhaps that's why a large segment of the "Sleepy Hollow" fandom was able to ignore that when they shipped IchAbbie, one of the principals was a man who was, at least ostensibly, happily married. 

Through the two episodes that have aired, we've already gotten more of Katrina as a human character than we got all of last season and the contemporary scene with Katrina and Ichabod last week was new for the show.

So let's say I'm being metaphorical.

I'm not. 

No, it's a steamy day in late August in North Carolina and the itch that Winter is scratching is very literal. She was out shooting in the woods the night before and, as seems to happen simply as a matter of course in such circumstances, she was eaten alive by unidentified insects. So as we sit talking about Katrina's expanded Season 2 role, Winter is going through a cycle of scratching and apologizing.

As you might guess, skin irritations aside, Winter is happy to find herself with a regular TV role this season, as well as a character she can sink her teeth into, like a chigger sinking its teeth into a Swedish actress in the forest. In our conversation, she discusses the tensions between Katrina and Ichabod, as well as Katrina's feelings for her Moloch-affiliated son.

And we talked about the bugs and humidity. It was hard not to...

Click through for the full Q&A... And catch a new "Sleepy Hollow" tonight at 9 p.m. on FOX.

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<p>Patriots QB Tom Brady</p>

Patriots QB Tom Brady

Credit: AP

TV Ratings: Bengals-Patriots game leads Sunday, 'Mulaney' tanks, 'CSI' dwindles

ABC's 'Once Upon a Time' is steady while 'Revenge' and 'Resurrection' struggle

Fast National ratings for Sunday, October 5, 2014.

NBC's Sunday Night Football matchup between the Bengals and Patriots dominated primetime in all measures, though it was down from last week's tilt between the Saints and Cowboys.

While down from last week, NBC wants you to know this was the best-ever Sunday Night Football telecast for a game featuring the Bengals.

Sunday's big debuts were a disastrous premiere for FOX's "Mulaney" and a "Bob's Burgers" premiere that wouldn't look good except that we can compare it to the launch for "Mulaney."

A number of shows dipped dramatically in their second weeks, with ABC's "Resurrection" failing to maintain the momentum for the new season of "Once Upon a Time" and CBS' "CSI" mothership looking very much like a drama on its last legs.

Note that CBS had some limited NFL delays in addition to its regularly scheduled half-hour delay on programming for the right side of the country.

On to the numbers...

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<p>Val of &quot;Survivor: San Juan Del Sur&quot;</p>

Val of "Survivor: San Juan Del Sur"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Val Collins talks 'Survivor: San Juan del Sur'

Latest castaway explains why Coyoga is so bad at everything

I've been too generous to Coyopa. That's been the takeaway from my first two "Survivor: San Juan Del Sur" exit interview of the season.

I've been paying too much attention to a couple very close performances in challenges and not nearly enough attention to the sheer number of challenge losses accrued by a tribe that is only a few weeks from the sort of Pagonging that could throw this season's Blood vs. Water twist out of whack.

Val Collins, the season's second booted castaway, doesn't suffer fools and, in the case of this interview, I got to be the fool in asking why things have been so tough for Coyopa when it didn't seem like it should be that bad a tribe.

"What? You don't think it looked like a bad tribe? Are you kidding me?" Val asked me, incredulous. "This couldn’t have been the worst tribe."

She makes a convincing argument and I guess I won't be surprised if Coyopa continues its losing streak.

Val, whose competitiveness will surely be missed, also makes a somewhat compelling argument for her double-Idol bluff and for why she was never able to recover from an initial stint on Exile Island.

In addition, in two seasons of Blood vs. Water exit interviews, no contestant has been as quick to say that, given the right opportunity, she would have cast a vote against her loved on, husband Jeremy.

For that reason alone, this season will miss Val.

Check out her feisty exit interview...

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<p>Linda of &quot;Bob&#39;s Burgers&quot;</p>

Linda of "Bob's Burgers"

Credit: FOX

'Bob's Burgers' star John Roberts on the Emmy win and finding Linda's voice

Ahead of tonight's premiere catch up with the man behind Linda

John Roberts and I will always have our first "Bob's Burgers" interview as a memorable shared experience.

Before the show premiered, I sat down with Roberts, Eugene Mirman and Kristen Schaal about their yet-to-premiered FOX animated comedy "Bob's Burgers." I'd only seen a cut-down of the pilot, but that was OK. I asked a couple questions, but mostly I was superfluous. The three stars just went off on a series of monologues that presaged the deranged brilliance of the show itself and also include a new musical theme song for HitFix.

That's probably why when John Roberts sat down with me a couple weeks ago, he looked at the HitFix microphone, looked at me and immediately acknowledged our shared history.

Of course, the Roberts/Mirman/Schaal grouping was a unique alchemy and left to his own devices, Roberts isn't nearly as manic, which is OK. He's got the show to speak for him.

And "Bob's Burgers" is coming off its first animated series Emmy win, which very few people expected, including the people associated with "Bob's Burgers."

Roberts and I discussed that Emmy win, as well as FOX's support what what is a well-loved, but low-rated series.

"We're a quality show, which is good for FOX," Roberts deadpans.

We also talked about Roberts' favorite  "Bob's Burgers" guests, the ease of snapping into Linda's voice after all these seasons and more. 

As Sepinwall and I mentioned in our latest podcast, the "Bob's Burgers" premiere is just terrific. It airs Sunday night on FOX.

Check out the interview above.

<p>Andre Braugher of &quot;Brooklyn Nine-Nine&quot;</p>

Andre Braugher of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

Credit: FOX

Interview: 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' star Andre Braugher still isn't sure he's funny

'Homicide' vet discusses the process of transitioning from hard drama

Andre Braugher has a pair of Emmy wins for drama and one could easily argue that it's a minor travesty he only won one Emmy for "Homicide: Life on the Street." He's mastered a wide range of portrayals of heroes who are stern, capable and flawed, giving them authentic, raw life.

And at least for the foreseeable future, it's going to be hard to interview Andre Braugher without suddenly finding humor in his thoughtful and entirely earnest answers. 

Captain Ray Holt on "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" isn't Braugher's first role to feature humor. As he correctly notes, "Men of a Certain Age" offered him the chance to get humane, ego-free laugher and earned him two Emmy nominations, though they were technically for drama. Braugher's "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" nomination was his first for comedy and was a recognition of how swiftly Braugher has eased into the rhythm of the single-cam and how instantly proficient he has become at the fine art of the deadpan.

When Braugher discusses his initiation into the world of comedy, he's humble and introspective, but it's hard not to hear hints of Holt's deadpan, even if they're not at all intentional. When Braugher discusses how he needs distance from acting projects in order to evaluate his work, for example, I ask if, in five years, he'll finally be able to know if he's been funny on "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." 

"I will," Braugher responds. "In retrospect I'll be able to. Yes. History will finally confirm that that was a funny episode for me."

Braugher isn't going for laugher, but if you imagine Captain Holt saying it? Well, it becomes a bit hilarious. The same is true when Braugher initially forgets the name of the Candy Crush knockoff that was a key plotpoint in one "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" episode last season, followed by his pleasure at repeating the name when I remind him.

In our conversation, Braugher discusses what it's like to find himself at the funny people's table, to suddenly be a guy asked to deliver punchlines during the Emmy telecast. He talks about the way this role challenges his process and the co-stars who challenge him most.

It's a great conversation, but if you read the transcript with Captain Holt in your mind, you may laugh a little.

"Brooklyn Nine-Nine" airs on FOX on Sundays at 8:30.

Check out the full Q&A...

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From Stand-ups to Sitcom Stars - Some of our Favorites

From Stand-ups to Sitcom Stars - Some of our Favorites

From Jerry Seinfeld to Roseanne to Bill Cosby, here are some comics who did sitcoms right

Stand-up comedy predates the TV sitcom, but since network executives realized that you could take a person who was funny on-stage and build a series around them and capitalize on their established voice, they've been doing it. From Danny Thomas to Jack Benny to George Burns, many of the early TV comedy greats came nightclubs, vaudeville and any venue with a stage open to laughter.

And sometimes they've been failing hilariously. Back in the '90s, it seemed like every other network sitcom was plucking a comedian from the circuit hoping to find the next Tim Allen or Brett Butler or Roseanne. Most of them were not.

On Sunday, John Mulaney goes from "SNL" writer and stand-up favorite to FOX star. Here's Sepinwall's review.

Next Friday, Cristela Alonzo tries to parlay her stage audience to ABC success. 

Maybe "Mulaney" and "Cristela" will grow into sitcom classics. Maybe? Hmmm...

Here are a few of our favorite standup-to-sitcom transitions. Not all of the greats have been included. We wanted to leave you room to sound off with your favorites...

Check out ours:

<p>Friday&#39;s &quot;Amazing Race&quot;</p>

Friday's "Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' - 'When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go'

Teams hit to Jolly Old England and mictation plays a small role in the drama

[This recap of Friday (October 3) night's "The Amazing Race" may be a bit rushed. I've got some Yom Kippur atoning to do. But I still want to do some honor to a decent enough Leg.]

As you may have heard from a unshaven, drunk, pot-belled WWII era manager, there is no crying in baseball.

Nobody has ever made the same claim about "The Amazing Race."

In actuality, there's a lot of crying on "The Amazing Race." 

And I'm not entirely without understanding.

Let's say you're an "Amazing Race" superfan and you've actually taken the time to study Race strategy and accumulate some of the skills that normally pay dividends and then you find yourself actually on "The Amazing Race" and in only your second Leg, you find yourself falling victim to a semi-unavoidable combination of current and lack of upper-body strength? 

I guess I can allow for some sniffling, especially if your commitment to remaining in the hunt goes so far as to let you put self-consciousness aside and urinate in a river while tittering Brits point and shame you.

On that note, though, if people are falling into the river left and right, why would you not just feign a topple into the drink, whiz away and then climb back up? On the scale of embarrassment goes, surely clumsiness is superior to public micturition. 

The problem with not doing "Amazing Race" exit interviews this season is that I'll never get to ask Nici about that decision.

[More after the break... With spoilers]

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<p>Nick Offerman on &quot;The Simpsons&quot;</p>

Nick Offerman on "The Simpsons"

Credit: FOX

Interview: Nick Offerman on his 'Simpsons' voice and TV life after 'Parks and Recreation'

Will Offerman be jumping into pilot season this spring?

I talked with Nick Offerman earlier this week and got the answer to the question I'm sure you're all wondering:

A ukelele. 

What? You weren't clamoring for details on the latest carpentry projects from Hollywood's endlessly busy Renaissance Man? 

Personally, I'm always interested in Offerman's woodworking, because I know the value he puts in maintaining that pursuit and skill -- it's not just a hobby -- while following a schedule that would exhaust a lesser man. On Offerman's recent/current slate: He's completing work on the final season of "Parks and Recreation." He's touring the country with his one-man humor/lifestyle spectacle "Full Bush." He directed the marvelous and star-studded video for Tweedy's "Low Key." He's apparently co-producing a documentary about writer Wendell Berry. He appeared in the summer blockbuster "22 Jump Street" and probably has another half-dozen movies coming out soon.

And this Sunday night (October 5), Offerman can be heard as a guest voice on "The Simpsons."

While Offerman is no stranger to FOX animation voices -- he produced and starred in "Axe Cop" and also was heard on "The Cleveland Show" and "Bob's Burgers" -- he describes the chance to guest on "The Simpsons" as "a pinnacle." 

In the episode, Offerman voices Captain Bowditch operator of The RelationShip, a vessel that gives fathers and sons the chance to learn to sail and to repair their relationships. And if you're surprised that Offerman is, himself, a passionate devotee of all things nautical, you haven't been paying enough attention.

Beyond talking about "The Simpsons" and carpentry, my interview with Offerman also covered the on-set emotions for the "Parks and Recreation" team, as well as his thoughts about this spring's pilot season and a return to TV.

It was a great chat, because Offerman is always great to chat with.

He can be heard on "The Simpsons" this Sunday. 

Check out the full Q&A...

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