Season Three of the irreverent comedy begins on Thursday
Childrens Hospital is a terrible place to get your kid treated, but the satirical series of the same name has become a reliable source of irreverent laughter and a welcome outlet for mockery-starved fans of shows like "Grey's Anatomy" and "House."
Originally developed for TheWB.com and then migrated over to Adult Swim for its second season, "Childrens Hospital" remains slightly under-the-radar, or at least more under-the-radar than you'd expect for a show that stars Rob Corddry, Lake Bell, Erinn Hayes, Rob Huebel, Ken Marino and Megan Mullally, Malin Åkerman and Henry Winkler, with an impressive assortment of guest stars including Jon Hamm, Ernie Hudson and Nick Offerman. Airing on the Internet or late-night cable will do that.
"Childrens Hospital" -- named for Dr. Childrens, hence the editor-thwarting lack of apostrophe -- returns for its third season on Thursday (June 2) night with its usually high quotient of fake blood and genre-tweaking wackiness. If you've ever watched a medical drama before, it won't take you long to catch on.
I got on the phone with series creator and co-star Corddry to chat about what viewers can expect.
Dan and Alan talk 'Teen Wolf,' 'Game of Thrones,' 'The Killing' and make an announcement
Happy Tuesday, Boys and Girls. After taking Memorial Day off, it's time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
On this week's podcast, we've got reviews for TNT's "Franklin & Bash" and MTV's "Teen Wolf." We also check in on "Men of a Certain Age," "The Killing" and "Game of Thrones." We also answered some Listener Mail and, at the very end of the podcast, we reveal the show that's going to be this summer's Firewall & Iceberg podcast re-view. Whee!
Here's the breakdown:
"Teen Wolf" -- 01:50 - 14:15
"Franklin & Bash" -- 14:20 - 21:30
"Men of a Certain Age" -- 21:30 - 28:05
Listener Mail: Network Branding -- 28:20 - 34:45
Listener Mail: Shows with many finales -- 34:50 - 41:00
Listener Mail: Same actors playing multiple roles on shows -- 41:00 - 44:45
"Game of Thrones" -- 45:20 - 55:10
"The Killing" -- 55:20 - 01:05:25
The Grand Summer-Rewatch Announcement -- 01:05:30 - 01:09:00
And here's the podcast...
Breckin Meyer, Mark-Paul Gosselaar series isn't satisfying as comedy or legal drama
As part of the upfront chaos that peaked last month, the Big 5 networks (or Big 4 + The CW, depending on how you keep track) canceled dozens upon dozens of shows to make room for dozens upon dozens of fresh-faced pilots, as part of the reliable The Devil You Don't Know Could Draw Higher Ratings Than The Devil You Do Know ethos that fuels the industry unless you happen to be "Fringe" or "Chuck."
[Check out the Funeral Plans for 2010-2011's Network TV Freshman Casualties gallery Sepinwall and I threw together...]
Many of the departed shows had fans, vocal fans, people willing to spew great gouts of vitriol in the direction of anonymous network suits for having the temerity to cancel a "Chicago Code" or a "V." Although it was among the most empirically popular shows to get the axe -- using Nielsen measurement, because otherwise we're relying purely on anecdote -- "The Defenders" has inspired minimal lamentation.
"The Defenders" wasn't a great show and it didn't re-write the rules of the legal procedural, but it was a surprisingly pleasant dramedy about two likable rogues (Jim Belushi and Jerry O'Connell) who practiced law on the edge. Half ambulance chasers, half bleeding hearts, they took an oddball assortment of cases tied to no particular branch of legal expertise and they reliably won, because they were willing to do whatever was necessary to help their clients. They wouldn't exactly break the law, but they'd definitely push the edge of the legal envelop, turning every case into the sort of circus that probably had real lawyers in the audience cringing. Sometimes the cases were interesting and occasionally the Vegas setting added value (even if they stopped shooting in Sin City after the pilot), but what carried "The Defenders" was the strong chemistry between Belushi and O'Connell, the -- God, I hate this word and its rampant overuse -- "bromance" between the two characters, a mixture of bickering and mutual respect which, in a show with mixed-gender leads, would have spawned endless will-they/won't-they speculation. Like I said, "The Defenders" wasn't the sort of show that I'd ever get worked up enough over to truly mourn its passing (much less write about on a regular basis), but it was in a category with "Castle" and "Hawaii Five-0" of network procedurals I DVR and contentedly watched while doing a couple other things.
Plowing through five episodes of TNT's "Franklin & Bash," including rewatching the pilot and third episodes that I first watched back in December, the thought that most frequently came to my mind was, "Geez. This is making me miss 'The Defenders.'"
All of the things that "The Defenders," and specifically Belushi and O'Connell, did to downplay the annoying and superficially quirky aspects of the main characters and their practice, "Franklin & Bash" eschews. It's "The Defenders" shot through what the writers hope will come across as a youthful filter. It doesn't work.Too many of the characters in "Franklin & Bash" are stuck in obnoxious ruts and the cases-of-the-week aren't fresh enough to compensate. The result is a broad, sloppy series that actually would have played better on TNT's corporate sibling TBS. You know what would have played better on TNT? That's right. "The Defenders."
More on "Franklin & Bash" after the break...
Jewel and Kara DioGuardi don't make beautiful music in this songwriting competition
[This review's gonna be a short one, but otherwise HitFix won't have any coverage of the premiere of "Platinum Hit." And that would be a true tragedy.]
Bravo and I, we have an understanding. Bravo makes shows that work within the various tiers of the Bravo formula and I politely ignore Bravo shows if they don't involve the hasty preparation of food. I skip anything involving housewives from across the country or elaborately contrived docu-drama showcases for people in professions utilized only by the wealthy, but I at least sample the network's various interchangeable competition shows built around the formula that the Magical Elves production team brought to "Top Chef."
Think you have what it takes to spot America's favorite dancer?
HitFix made its first foray into Reality Fantasy Leagues with our "American Idol" showdown and we feel pretty great with how that experiment went.
In all, we had roughly 1000 players in our HitFix Open League for "American Idol," in which the top prize was an 11-inch MacBook Air.
Enthusiastic congratulations to our winner, Amy Weiss.
Our champ writes in, "I'm from Chicago and I'm 23. My friend Danny (who first introduced me to HitFix a couple of years ago and is an absolute uberfan--he finished 6th) set up a league and invited some friends. A few of us probably took it a little too seriously and had some intense instant message discussions on Thursdays while we each debated what to do. Ultimately, every week I would try to synthesize the general sentiments of the Idol blogosphere and trust my own intuition. I was lucky to put myself in a pretty good spot after the top 13 and didn't make many moves unless I was sure they were necessary. I had a lot of fun playing and it ended up being much more successful than my fantasy baseball team!"
Amy's bracket had the eliminated contestant properly positioned for seven of 10 single-elimination weeks and nailed both eliminated contestants in the double-elimination week caused by Casey Abrams and The Judges' Save.
HitFix had a number of Featured Players including past contestants Phil Stacey and Melinda Doolittle, plus several established "Idol" pundits. Not to toot my own horn, but I pretty much dominated the Featured Players category. No, I'm not particularly awesome (I only finished 25th overall) but, I did have Scotty McCreery slotted as my winner from the day the competition opened. That probably helped.
Because Fantasy "American Idol" did so well, HitFix is expanding our fantasy roster with Fantasy "So You Think You Can Dance." The new season began on Thursday night and Liane Bonin Starr will be providing regular recaps for HitFix. We're still a couple weeks away from the announcement of the "SYTYCD" Top 20 and the weekly eliminations, but our fantasy league is now open. I plan to do FAR worse in this league.
What were the season's 10 Most Memorable Performances?
The judges and producers try to make the claim every year, but I think there's a plausible argument to be made that "American Idol" Season 10 had the deepest talent pool in the show's history.
Not only did this season have a Top 13 that was embarrassment-free -- Ashthon Jones and Thia Megia were, at worst, occasionally worthy mediocrities -- but a slightly erratic cut-down from the Top 24 cost us plausible hopefuls like Lauren Turner, Robbie Rosen and Kendra Chantelle, plus early candidates like Jordan Dorsey, Rachel Zevita and Julie Zorrilla, who looked liked contenders during the audition episodes, but chose the wrong week to come out flat.
With a deep Season 10 field, the chances for shocking eliminations were plentiful. Casey Abrams forced an early use of the Judges' Save when he was voted out in the Top 11, a decision so obvious (and, in context, correct) that they barely let him begin his musical plea for mercy. Observers who knew nothing about the way "Idol" works claimed that Pia Toscano was a favorite when she bombed out at the Top 9. She wasn't a favorite, but she still went out three or four weeks earlier than expected. Casey was eliminated again after the Top 6, but that timing felt more appropriate and we were glad to have spent an extra month with El Beardo. And when James Durbin was sent home after the Top 4, he was so amazed by the vote that we professed amazement as well, even if his bombing out at the same stage as Chris Daughtry made for a nice coincidence.
It was a unusual season in many ways. We had our youngest-ever Finalist (Thia Megia). We had a Finalist determined to sing (not always well) in Spanish (Karen Rodriguez). We had a finalist who happily sacrificed valuable singing time to allow for African-inflected dance breakdowns (Naima Adedapo). We had a Finalist who hit admirably high notes even though a bulging vein in his forehead warned that an aneurysm could be around every corner (Stefano Langone). We had a Finalist who looked like an eccentric hobo with unexpected access to whitening strips (Paul McDonald). We got our first taste of Judas Priest and Nirvana covers on the "Idol" stage.
Yup. It was a memorable, diverse and unpredictable season of "American Idol" that will conclude on Tuesday and Wednesday night with the blandest, most predictable finale matchup possible, pitting teenage country wunderkind Scotty McCreery against teenage country wunderkind Lauren Alaina.
[More after the break...]
Dan and Alan talk finales ranging from 'Chuck' to 'Castle' to 'How I Met Your Mother'
Happy Monday, Boys & Girls. Time for yet another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
Seriously, you've heard a lot of us lately. Because we didn't podcast til Tuesday last week, this is our third podcast in under a week. And they've all been long podcasts.
This week? FINALE-MANIA!
Pretty much working our way through a checklist, we discuss the finales of "Survivor," "The Office," "Community," "Parks & Recreation," "Big Bang Theory," "Chuck," "Castle," "How I Met Your Mother," "The Good Wife," "Grey's Anatomy" and "The Simpsons."
So clearly I don't need to add that this podcast contains lots and lots of spoilers? It's all for stuff that's already aired, in some cases weeks ago, but still... Spoilers ahoy!
Here's the breakdown:
The cancelation of "United States of Tara" -- 01:30 - 06:45
"American Idol" finale preview -- 06:50 - 12:10
"Survivor" finale -- 12:15 - 18:20
"The Office"/"Community"/"Parks and Recreation" -- 18:30 - 32:00
"The Big Bang Theory" -- 32:05 - 37:15
Listener Mail regarding cliffhangers -- 37:30 - 44:30
"Chuck" -- 44:30 - 51:00
"Castle" -- 51:00 - 56:30
"How I Met Your Mother" -- 56:30 - 01:03:20
"The Good Wife" -- 01:03:20 - 01:07:14
"Grey's Anatomy" -- 01:07:15 - 01:11:35
"The Simpsons" -- 01:11:35 - 01:17:25
And here's the podcast...
Dan and Alan discuss CBS and The CW's upfront presentations
Happy Friday, Boys & Girls.
As promised -- though perhaps a little on the late side -- it's time for a bonus upfronts week Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
On Tuesday, we covered the NBC, FOX and ABC upfronts. Today, it's CBS and CW. We also answered two pieces of related listener mail and then reviewed HBO's upcoming telefilm "Too Big to Fail."
We'll be back on Monday *or* Tuesday with a finale-driven podcast.
Here's the breakdown:
CBS's Upfront -- 01:00 - 28:20
The CW's Upfront -- 28:25 - 39:30
Listener Mail -- 42:30 - 50:45
"Too Big to Fail" -- 51:00 - 01:00:00
And here's the podcast...
Dan and Alan discuss ABC, FOX and NBC's upfront presentations
Happy Tuesday, Boys & Girls. Time for a one-day-delayed installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
With Alan zipping around Manhattan on Monday for FOX and NBC's upfront presentations, there was no chance to podcast and we wanted to wait until after ABC announced today, hence the late hour.
The result is roughly an hour-and-twenty minutes of upfronts conversation, covering NBC, FOX and ABC giving first impressions of their schedules and the little bits we've seen of their new shows. With any luck, we'll find time to podcast again on Friday so that we can give similar depth to CBS and The CW.
Here's the breakdown:
NBC's Upfront -- 06:00 - 36:40
FOX's Upfront -- 36:45 - 53:30
ABC's Upfront -- 53:35 - 01:20:30
And here's the podcast...
How are Will and Alicia different now than last season?
Fans of CBS' "The Good Wife" are a passionate lot and preview scenes from Tuesday (May 17) night's season finale have already been known to cause palpitations and conniptions.
Will and Alicia? It's on! Or is it?
Even if I knew what happens in the finale, titled "Closing Arguments," I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise, nor would Josh Charles.
I chatted with Charles last week after the season's penultimate episode, just to get a sense where things are going for Will in the finale and beyond. It was hard not to be struck by the "Sports Night" veteran's passion for his current project and the though he's put into his character. This was an interview where maybe I didn't get to ask as many questions as I might have liked, but when somebody is this exited and this articulate about their work, who's going to complain?
Click through for my interview with Josh Charles...