If we're being honest, this week's Firewall & Iceberg is a bit of a technical nightmare, particularly in the segment with our Very Special Guest, which was supposed to be longer, but ended up being truncated because Skype kept crashing and at a certain point, we decided it was better to reach a closing point, rather than wasting his time any further.
Apologies for the technical problems and for what may be a slightly shorter podcast than we wanted. We've got lots more "Breaking Bad" questions from you and maybe we'll sprinkle them into future ordinary podcasts, randomly.
"Breaking Bad" (00:00:00 - 00:54:00)
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Fast National ratings for Tuesday, November 26, 2013.
While some people suggested that pre-Thanksgiving was too early for "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," viewers disagreed and made CBS' special the night's top show among young viewers. ABC, meanwhile, won Tuesday night overall with "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." and the "Dancing with the Stars" finale.
I'm still waiting on a clear explanation for why "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." was up by 35 percent week-to-week in total viewers, but it was provisionally the drama's biggest audience since its premiere. It's hard to believe that the preemption of "NCIS" freed up that many viewers, but who knows?
The absence of "NCIS" hurt "NCIS: Los Angeles" and "Person of Interest" a little overall, but the CBS dramas held up well among young viewers.
Meanwhile, FOX's "New Girl" and "The Mindy Project" were up week-to-week among young viewers and, other than "Dads," FOX's comedies were all up overall.
Finally, over on The CW, "Supernatural" moved back ahead of "The Originals" overall, while "The Originals" maintained a slim advantage among young viewers.
Crazy Eyes was introduced on "Orange Is The New Black" as the somewhat scary, seemingly unhinged inmate who takes a fancy to Taylor Schilling's Piper when she first arrives at the Litchfield Prison. Soon, though, we heard her poems and her "Swirl" song and Crazy Eyes became a source of comedy, as well as fear.
As with so many of the characters on the acclaimed Netflix original, Crazy Eyes didn't stay just one thing for very long. By the middle of the first season, as we learned to call her "Suzanne" and as we began getting hints at her internal struggles, the character took a permanent place as an audience favorite, delivering one priceless and revelatory moment after another: Meeting her surprising parents. Witnessing her unexpected Christmas Pageant talent. Watching her uncomfortably raunchy dance routine with Big Boo. Exposing her vulnerabilities to Piper. And, best of all, mining a deep cut from "Coriolanus" as a way of intimidating kids in a Scared Straight program.
Now, everybody loves Crazy Eyes.
I got on the phone last week with star Uzo Aduba, who has gotten caught up in the snowballing appreciation for a series that Netflix is calling a drama for the purposes of awards. [SAG Awards voters should seriously examine their sanity if they pretend they can find five drama ensembles better than the one on "OITNB."] The stage actress, a veteran of "Godspell" on Broadway, discusses the Suzanne/Crazy Eyes dichotomy, hints at more great moments in Season 2 and picks her own favorites from amongst the Litchfield inmates.
Fast National ratings for Monday, November 25, 2013.
As usual, it was "Dancing with the Stars" helping ABC cruise to an overall Monday lead, while the stable "Blacklist" combined with "The Voice" (dropping in the demo, but rising overall) to give NBC the night among young viewers.
In its second week, FOX's "Almost Human" took a notable-but-not-extreme drop -- last week's airing wasn't against "The Voice," after all -- but the more concerning note would be a corresponding drop for "Sleepy Hollow," week-to-week.
And, over on CBS, the Monday comedies were a mixed bag as "How I Met Your Mother" dropped, but "Mike & Molly" and "Mom" were both up.
Finally, "Hart of Dixie" failed to get a Hanukkah-bump, which may just mean that I haven't watched the dreidl-centric episode on my DVR.
[CBS had the Monday Night Football game, but only in San Francisco, where the game would only have preempted the 8 p.m. hour.]
There are many takeaways from Stuart Richardson's more-than-feature-length documentary "No Half Measures: Creating the Final Season of Breaking Bad," which is featured in the "Breaking Bad" complete series DVD set. But perhaps the dominant takeaway is that after roughly 135 minutes of exhaustively chronicled behind-the-scenes footage from the last eight episodes of "Breaking Bad," you know exactly how Vince Gilligan hugs.
And Vince Gilligan is a patter.
As the emotional season progresses in the documentary, one person after another has their final on-set wrap and one person after another gets patted on the back like they're infants and Vince Gilligan is a parent hoping for a satisfying belch.
That's why the documentary's most glorious moment [for me, anyway] comes half-way through production on "Felina," the series finale, when the hilarious Betsy Brandt -- it's mighty logical that she transitioned from this to a sitcom -- shoots Marie's last scene, gets her hug, pulls back and demands a real hug, sans patting, from Gilligan.
I kid. Actually, "No Half Measures" is full of great moments. With a running time that is, let's be frank, just a wee bit taxing on the ol' tailbone, "No Half Measures" manages to be simultaneously over-long, but basically indispensable for passionate "Breaking Bad" fans.
Sony Pictures TV screened the documentary for a packed and passionate theater of radio contest winners on Monday (November 25) night, ahead of the series DVD release and I was glad to see it as both a fan of the show and as a fan of the show who's still probably planning on doing an All "Breaking Bad" podcast later this week. Knock wood.
The screening was followed by a brief Q&A with Gilligan, Bryan Cranston, Dean Norris, R.J. Mitte, Bob Odenkirk and Lavell "Huell" Crawford.
Click through for a few more thoughts on the documentary and a couple highlights from the Q&A, including Gilligan's three "Breaking Bad" regrets, Odenkirk's nebulous excitement about "Better Call Saul" and Cranston's salute to fans and Crawford's tribute to Cranston's humility.
Fast National ratings for Sunday, November 24, 2013.
While the New England Patriots didn't complete their epic comeback over the Denver Broncos until well outside of primetime on the East Coast, the frigid thriller still delivered a second straight week of huge numbers to NBC, even if it came in below the Broncos/Chiefs tilt from the previous week.
Perhaps some of those viewers were siphoned off by the American Music Awards, which did strong numbers on ABC, pushing that network into a tie for second among young viewers with football-boosted FOX. It was the biggest AMAs audience since 2009, up 36 percent in total viewers and 32 percent in the key demo over last year.
Meanwhile, the climactic episode in the Red John arc delivered a view bump to CBS' "The Mentalist," even if the procedural finished last for its hour. It was the biggest "Mentalist" audience January.
That was an exciting, drama-filled episode of "The Amazing Race," but it was also an episode so full of variably noxious self-righteousness and smugness that I ended up strongly disliking a team that had been a favorite previously and cringing through entirely too much of the hour.
I'm putting the balance of the episode too far towards "annoyance" for me to call the episode a success and I'm afraid that there's nothing Travis & Nicole will be able to do to work their way back into my rooting graces.
I guess I'll recap the episode after the break, though I'm pretty wrung out from the end of that Patriots game.
It took a lot to get Nicky Getz and Kim DeJesus out of "The Amazing Race."
They finished last in two Legs, but it happened that those Legs were a "Keep on racing..." Leg and a Non-Elimination Leg. Then, in this past Sunday's Leg, it took a burnt-out clutch on an early task, a U-Turn and a Speed Bump to finally push them so far behind the rest of the pack that they couldn't catch up.
Still, when Nicky & Kim reached Phil Keoghan, they were all smiles, echoing their upbeat approach to nearly everything this season, or everything other than Kim's regular freakouts at height-based challenges.
The wives of major league baseball players Chris Getz and David DeJesus, Nicky & Kim made for a likable pairing and no matter what Marie thinks, we saw no evidence at all that they did anything wrong in getting on the standby list first in Brazil.
In this week's "Amazing Race" exit interview, Kim & Nicky talk about Marie's confusing grudge, Kim's acrophobia and some funny moments we never got to see on TV.
Fast National ratings for Friday, November 22, 2013.
With "Blue Bloods" nearing its season high in all measures, CBS dominated Friday night overall, though with "Undercover Boss" airing a clip show of busted bosses in the 8 p.m. hour, ABC was able to tie for the nightly lead among young viewers.
The night offered encouraging numbers for FOX, which saw "Bones" get a decent bump in its second Friday, helping to give a boost "Raising Hope" above last week's premiere numbers as well.
The results weren't as encouraging for the return of "Nikita" for its final six episodes on The CW. The action drama outdrew "The Carrie Diaries," but lost to "Carrie" in most of The CW's preferred demos.
At the end of July at the Television Critics Association press tour, I sat down with Howard Overman and Johnny Capps to discuss their new BBC America drama Atlantis. At the time, the show was still early in production and all I'd seen was a three-minute clip reel.
The drama, a blending of traditional Greek mythology, history, time travel and fantasy archetypes starring Jack Donnelly, Mark Addy and Jemima Rooper, premiered in September on The UK's BBC One and in October on Canada's Space, but it doesn't launch until this Saturday (November 23) in the States.
"Atlantis" was a success and has been ordered for a second season, but I still haven't seen an episode of "Atlantis." That isn't the way I normally conduct interviews, so my conversation with the creators is full of random and speculative intellectual queries mixed with obvious plot-based stuff that I'm pretty sure would have been self-evident if I'd watched for a couple hours. Apologies. I think it's still an interesting chat with the creators, but I don't have a clue if these were the questions I'd ask today.
And speaking of that odd time warp, there's an even stranger thing in the second half of the interview, in which I talked with Overman about the American adaptation of his British smash "Misfits," which he had been working on with "The O.C." mastermind Josh Schwartz. In late July, that project hadn't been mentioned for a long while, but Overman insisted it was still alive, albeit in a bit of limbo because Schwartz had recently moved his Fake Empire banner from Warner Brothers TV to ABC Studios.
We talked a lot about the approach that he had taken to the American version of the edgy superhero dramedy, but there's one problem: Since late July, Schwartz and Fake Empire have ceased to be involved with "Misfits," so all of the specifics have become largely moot.
However, I liked that part of the conversation, because it gave insight into an interesting process, so I've left that portion of the Q&A, but I've added a few words from Schwartz on the parting of ways.
Anyway, click through for the full conversation with Capps and Overman, with the "Atlantis" stuff on the first page and the "Misfits" stuff and Schwartz comment on the second page.