A wedding, several key deaths and a Jeffster! performance? All on a Very Special 'Chuck' Finale.
True to Chris Fedak's promise to me, Monday (April 27) night's "Chuck" season finale was, indeed, a game-changer. Whether viewers will be able to see how, exactly, "Chuck versus The Ring" changed the game is now entirely in the hands of NBC's programming wizards.
If "Chuck versus The Ring" is the last we see of "Chuck," at least the finale was exciting, hilarious and touching enough to bring tears to more than a few eyes (not that I have "more than a few eyes").
Was it on quite the same level of Awesome as "Chuck versus The Colonel"? Perhaps not. Still, "Chuck versus The Ring" was mostly a splendid example of how to do a season finale. You resolve some things. You pay off things introduced in earlier episodes. And you say, "Hey, this is what the show will be next season... GET PUMPED."
[My reactions to the finale and my thoughts on the show's future after the break, complete with spoilers...]
Series co-creator discusses renewal hopes, Chuck-n-Sarah and Morgan's Benihana dream
"Chuck" is coming off a penultimate episode -- "Chuck Versus the Colonel" -- that may have been the finest hour yet for the NBC action-comedy. The show is just days away from a Monday (April 27) night finale that truly is, to use Fedak's word, "cataclysmic." The show is wrapping up a second season of wacky antics, shocking twists, memorable guest stars and, alas, less-than-stellar ratings.
That's why, as Fedak and I talked on Wednesday, various corners of the Internet have been mobilizing to attempt just about anything to let NBC know that a third season of "Chuck" would go a long way toward quieting the discontent caused by those looming, endless hours of Jay Leno.
Nerds? Subway viewing parties? Petitions? Riots in the streets?
In our lengthy interview, Fedak discusses last week's killer episode, the show's hopes for renewal and whether or not the finale will actually make people set their living rooms on fire.
[Interview after the break... As a warning, "Chuck Versus the Colonel" is discussed in detail. There are very few tangible spoilers about the finale, but our definitions of "spoiler" may differ...]
Various publications have pronounced 'Reaper' dead, but does it at least deserve consideration for another season?
With network upfront presentations only a month away, tis the season for publications to begin prognosticating on which shows will return next season, which shows are on the bubble and which shows are as good as dead.
That's how I know that The CW's "Reaper" is dead. "Reaper" is as dead as "Knight Rider" and "The Ex-List" and "Do Not Disturb." USA Today told me so and The Hollywood Reporter agrees and since they have "sources," I can only assume they're right.
The problem is that I look at the ratings every Wednesday morning and what I see doesn't look nearly so clear-cut. While I'm not going to try telling you that "Reaper" has earned its place on The CW's schedule for next year, it certainly has earned as much of a second look as "Privileged," which both esteemed publications agree is, at the very least On the Bubble.
My argument after the break...
Relive some of the finer moments of 'Chuck Versus the Colonel'
Monday (April 20) night's episode of "Chuck" was the penultimate hour of the season. Woe betide NBC if "Chuck Versus the Colonel" was also the series' penultimate episode, because it also happened to be one of the show's very finest installments.
The hour was so full of Moments of Awesome that I started jotting down quotes or throwaways that made me happy. And, wouldn't you know it, I ended up with exactly 50. I was so struck with the evenness of that number, and my ready availability of a blogging platform, that I thought I'd share those Moments of Awesome, rather than just doing a straight-forward recap.
With the season finale only a week away, expect to hear plenty more pleas for the future of "Chuck," both on this site and throughout the Internet.
For now, though, click through to relieve "Chuck Versus the Colonel" and it's 50 Moments of Awesome.... [Spoilers, of course...]
Watching Mitch Hurtwiz, Jason Bateman and Will Arnett sitting around vamping would be funnier than their new FOX animated show
There's an Orson Welles quote that I like to whip out in reviews maybe two or three times per year, both because I'm lazy and because it's always true.
"The enemy of art," Welles said, and I keep repeating, "is the absence of limitations."
Paraphrased, the easier something is to do, the less likely it is that you're going to bother to do it well.
This week's case-in-point, alas, is the new FOX animated comedy "Sit Down, Shut Up," which premieres on Sunday (April 19) at 8:30 p.m. ET.
[I explain and review after the break...]
The movie strains to bring meaning where none is needed, but Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange are outstanding
Chances are that either you've never heard of Albert and David Maysles' documentary "Grey Gardens" or else you cherish it as an oddball favorite. Its status as a cult classic outweighs its enduring import as art.
I'm not sure I would advocate very strongly for the documentary, but having seen it absolutely added to my appreciation of HBO's new telefilm "Grey Gardens."
There will be some uninitiated viewers who complain that Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange are hammy and overstated as the reclusive and eccentric Little Edie and Big Edie Bouvier Beale, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The real Little Edie and Big Edie were oversized characters themselves and the performances by Barrymore and Lange are so uncanny that they verge on remarkable.
As a movie, "Grey Gardens" suffers from some narrative clunkiness, but the triumph for the two leading ladies -- and for the costuming and makeup department that play no small part in the illusion -- is beyond question.
[Review after the break...]
Yeah, 'Citizen Kane' and 'Star Wars' and 'Snow White' are influential, but how about these alternatives...
When somebody puts together it good list, it seems like the least I can do is attempt to engage in a little debate. I'm Pavlovian like that.
Yesterday, Turner Classic Movies announced its list of the 15 Most Influential Films. It's a pretty decent list, really. It contains three silent movies and five foreign films, for example, bucking the sort of myopia that normally limits lists like this to the same familiar titles from 1935 to 1975.
That doesn't mean I agree with everything TCM selected.
I offer a few alternative influential movies after the break... You can feel free to agree or disagree.
Thoughts on the finales of three critically adored, low-rated shows from last week
This is Passover and Easter week, if those observances happen to be faith-appropriate. Even if you don't have a spiritual festival of Spring that lines up with your creed, though, if you happen to pray only to the 500 Channel Television God, this was a week of renewal and rebirth.
ABC premiered "Surviving Suburbia" and "The Unusuals," NBC welcomed "Southland" and "Parks & Recreation," while CBS began the slaughter on "Harper's Island." That meant a lot of time writing reviews of new shows. [The only one I didn't get to, due to Seder-based time restraints, was "Parks & Recreation." In a nutshell, I thought it was a show that should have been funnier than it was, but I'm such a fan of the people involved that I'll give it an episode or two to find a distinct voice, rather than just coming across as a gefilte fish version of "The Office."]
If we're welcoming in the new, though, that sometimes means we need to say farewell to the old. A week that saw five major network premieres, also saw three major network season finales" class="autolink">finales, with the wrap-up episodes of NBC's "Life" and "Friday Night Lights," plus FOX's "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles."
All three shows completed their production in distinct renewal limbo, leaving their creative teams with the challenge of figure out how to settle things with fans and with the networks. "Friday Night Lights" has, of course, been picked up for an additional two seasons, but smart money suggests that "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" and "Life" may also have aired their series finales.
[Full thoughts on those three finales after the break... Obviously I'll be spoiling the finales, though I'll be doing it in order of "Friday Night Lights," "Life" "Terminator," if you want to skim...]
Did FOX really decide not to air the show's season finale? Or is Twitter misinformed?
It's the blessing or curse of social networking and information sites that a simple piece of information can be posted, swirl through the conversational meat grinder and come out meaning a totally different thing within mere minutes.
Take, for example, the alleged cancellation of FOX's "Dollhouse," which occurred today when "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" star Felicia Day tweeted, "Man, day getting worse and worse. Found out my Dollhouse ep, #13 isn't gonna air. Only on DVD. Such a great part too. Thx Fox. :("
That was the frowny-face that shook the Twitterverse this afternoon, as a 140 character comment became a poorly sourced confirmation that "Dollhouse" was dead at FOX.
I have a little bit more information on the situation, facts that may not necessarily set Joss Whedon's devoted (and quick-to-panic) fans at ease, but which might at least explain the situation such as it is.
[Information after the break...]
Day's tweet actually came roughly 24 hours after FOX announced its plans for May Sweeps, plans with included the scheduled airing of "Omega" on May 8 as the "Dollhouse" *season* finale. But there's a catch: Sites like Wikipedia and EpGuides list "Omega" as Episode 12, which is technically accurate as it will, in fact, be the show's 12th episode to air. Said sites also, however, list an Episode 13, titled "Epitaph One." It's not a hypothetical or imaginary episode, mind you. It's not a figment of the Internet's imagination. It exists. It was shot. And it does, indeed, feature Felicia Day.
So the online panic goes like this: FOX isn't airing the season finale of "Dollhouse"! Therefore, the show must be cancelled and the last episode is obviously being withheld as an inducement for goosing DVD sales.
Here's the different explanation that I got from a network source: FOX ordered 13 episodes of "Dollhouse." This has been well-reported and is true. That number, though, included the original pilot episode, which was shot and then reconceived and never aired.
The "Omega" episode is the 13th episode of that original order. It is the second part of a heavily-arced two-part closure to the season and it was written, produced and directed as the season finale. It brings the slow-developing Alpha storyline to a climax and answers a number of questions about the Dollhouse and its inhabitants. It also raises possible questions setting up a possible Season Two, but it isn't a shocking cliffhanger.
More importantly, the questions raised at the end of "Omega" aren't questions answered quickly in "Epitaph One." I'm told that "Epitaph One" was ordered by 20th Century Fox TV, the show's production company, but not by the network and the network had no commitment to air that episode. It's Hour 14 for the season.
It's not like FOX had "Epitaph One" scheduled for May 15 and pulled it. The series finale of "Prison Break" will air that night, a two-hour episode that will, if we're all being perfectly honest, almost certainly draw a bigger audience than a hypothetical "Dollhouse" episode would have. That's an important point, because May 15 is the last Friday of May Sweeps and of the official Nielsen-slated TV season.
The source tells me "Dollhouse" has not been cancelled. Granted, what else would they tell me, but still... The long and short is that the network isn't airing an episode they never said they were going to air, although some people are reporting that FOX did say it was going to air that episode, even though you'd be hard press to find any official record of that.
[Given the literal meanings of "Omega" and "Epitaph," maybe fans shouldn't be surprised that one is airing as the finale and maybe they shouldn't be so broken up that the other is not airing.]
Will "Dollhouse" eventually be cancelled? I can't tell you that today. I can tell you to look at the show's ratings. If you just look at overnight and Fast National figures, that will probably tell you that hopes are bleak for a second "Dollhouse" season. If you look at DVR and iTunes and other ancillary numbers, it might offer hope. Either way, though, a decision has not been made. Or a decision has not been made officially. Or nothing that happened yesterday or today constitutes a formal pronouncement of any kind. It constitutes a twitter from a guest star and a piece of scheduling that wasn't really supposed to be noteworthy.
What I'm saying is that "Dollhouse" hasn't been cancelled until it has, but it currently hasn't been. So feel free to express your enthusiasm for FOX to renew the show, but don't jump to outrage just yet.
There's a difference between being a slasher film and an Agatha Christie-style mystery, but this show doesn't get it
On the grounds that CBS should occasionally be encouraged to do shows that aren't close-ended procedurals, I'm inclined to root for "Harper's Island," the network's new murder mystery serial, which premieres on Thursday, April 9 in the time slot previously occupied by the desultory gloom of "Eleventh Hour."
Any enthusiasm, though, must be tempered by the frustrating reality that "Harper's Island" is a show in the midst of a full-blown identity crisis.
[Full review after the break and after I decide how much I'm allowed to spoil about the show. Don't worry. It won't spoil much.]