<p>Josh Lucas of &quot;The Firm&quot;</p>
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Josh Lucas of "The Firm"

Credit: NBC

Press Tour: NBC's 'Firm' team goes on the plot-hole defensive

The answers to your potential Josh Lucas drama quibbles...

 John Grisham's "The Film" and the subsequent Sydney Pollack film were viewed as a beach read and a consummate piece of popcorn entertainment and both were approached with only the most casual eye toward logic or accuracy. 

 
Somehow, though, the team behind NBC's new "10 years later..." series follow-up to "The Firm" arrived at the Television Critics Association press tour on Friday (January 6) morning and faced a slew of logistical and narrative questions that boiled down to variations on the "What the heck sense does...mean?"
 
Fortunately, series developer and executive producer Lukas Reiter was prepared to enter into a discussion on the salient points under contention.
 
Click through for Reiter and his stars' answers to some important questions. They do include some minor spoilers, but not of anything that that hasn't already been spoiled in NBC's teasers for the show. You can either check out the responses now, or perhaps on Sunday night after tuning in to the two-hour pilot.
 
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<p>NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt</p>

NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt

Credit: Showtime

Press Tour '12 Live-Blog: NBC Executive Session with Robert Greenblatt

Expect 'Community,' 'Smash' and 4th Place talk

PASADENA - After two-days of PBS, welcome to the "Let's Live-Blog Everything"  portion of the Television Critics Association January press tour. 

We're kicking things off with NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt, who's sure to get questions about the failure of "Prime Suspect," the benching of "Community" and the network's hopes for "Smash."

Click through for the minute-by-minute fun... 

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<p>Benedict Cumberbatch of &quot;Sherlock&quot;</p>
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Benedict Cumberbatch of "Sherlock"

Credit: PBS

Press Tour Shocker: Benedict Cumberbatch says nothing about 'Star Trek' role

'Sherlock' star says he's 'over the moon' about his casting
PASADENA - When news broke on Wednesday (January 4) afternoon that "Sherlock" star Benedict Cumberbatch had landed a key, but entirely undisclosed, role in J.J. Abrams' upcoming "Star Trek" dozens of TV critics had the same thought: Sweet! We'll get no scoops whatsoever when Benedict Cumberbatch appears at the Television Critics Association press tour via satellite to promote the second season of his Arthur Conan Doyle series.
 
And we were correct!
 
Cumberbatch only received a question-and-a-half about his "Star Trek" casting, but his answers didn't even rise to the level of cryptic or evasive. 
 
So what did the "War Horse" and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" scene stealer actually have to say about his highest profile film to date? 
 
Click through...
 
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<p>PBS President &amp; CEO Paula Kerger</p>
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PBS President & CEO Paula Kerger

Credit: Rahoul Ghose/PBS

Press Tour: PBS chief defends Big Bird against Mitt Romney's commercial plan

Paula Kerger sticks up for public broadcasting against the Republican front-runner
In a public appearance last week, Republican president candidate Mitt Romney expressed support for PBS, but also support for completely overhauling the way that PBS stays afloat.
 
"I like PBS. We subsidize PBS. Look, I'm going to stop that. I'm going to say, ‘PBS is going to have to have advertisements,'" Romney told Iowa voters, according to ABC. "We're not going to kill Big Bird, but Big Bird's going to have to have advertisements, all right?"
 
This, of course, would be a total upheaval of the way that PBS does business.
 
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday (January 4), the first morning of the Television Critics Association press tour, PBS President & CEO Paula Kerger offered her somewhat partisan take on Romney's plan.
 
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<p>Erica Dasher of &quot;Jane by Design&quot;</p>
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Erica Dasher of "Jane by Design"

Credit: ABC Family

TV Review: ABC Family's 'Jane By Design'

HitFix
C+
Readers
A+
Erica Dasher shines a young woman leading two bland lives
I like to praise ABC Family for having one of the clearest brand identities of any network -- broadcast or cable -- particularly when it comes to dramas. 
 
That doesn't mean, though, that all ABC Family dramas are identical. In fact, they fit into a few easily identifiable categories.
 
"Melrose Place" with Training Wheels: Teenage girls (and random adults on my Twitter feed) love a trashy primetime soap, even if ABC Family's sure to put a cap on the depicted violence or sexuality. This category obviously includes "Pretty Little Liars" and "The Lying Game," so basically anything relating to teenage mendacity.
 
Extended After-School Specials: Let's not forget the *family* in ABC Family and let's not forget that it's important to have programming that kids can watch with their parents and maybe learn a lesson. This kind of good-for-you development can yield preachy messes like "The Secret Life of the American Teenager," but it needn't necessarily be a bad thing. If handled right, this category can also include thoughtful, sensitive shows like "Switched at Birth."
 
Convolutedly Aspirational: "Make It or Break It" is ABC Family's surviving offering in this genre, but it's probably also where "The 9 Lives of Chloe King" -- I still want resolution from that finale! -- and "Greek" might have fallen, assuming your aspirations could expand to include becoming a teenage superhero or a law student.
 
ABC Family's newest drama series, "Jane By Design" fits squarely into the Convolutedly Aspirational category, since it's not especially soapy and I don't know that watching it is going to teach people anything.
 
"Jane By Design" is inoffensive and after watching two episodes, I didn't feel the sort of annoyance that I get from two minutes of "American Teenager" or from the full season of "Pretty Little Liars" that I stuck with before quitting. But it falls short of that bar that ABC Family shows clearly strive for, which is "Can we provide enough depth and sustenance to give Dan a reason to watch, even though he couldn't possibly be less in our target demographic?" The answer there is "No." "Jane By Design" is the story of a teenage girl who's living two lives, but since neither of those two lives is especially interesting or original, I think I'll politely check out, albeit without any animosity. 
 
More after the break...
 
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<p>She's a man, baby.&nbsp;</p>
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She's a man, baby. 

Credit: ABC

TV Review: ABC's 'Work It'

HitFix
F
Readers
D+
The year is young, but you can already see 2012's worst new show
When you see a bunch of TV shows premiering at the same time that all seem a lot alike, here's the basic breakdown of how a theme or an idea becomes a trend:
 
Let's say that 24 months ago, thousands of unemployed writers were independently watching CNN and they saw a segment on something a glib economist was calling a "mancession," a set of indicators suggesting that in our down economy, men were losing jobs at the statistical expense of women. Hundreds of those writers responded speciously, "Ha. After all of those years of women complaining that men were getting better jobs and getting paid better, the shoe is finally on the other foot. There's a script in that." A couple dozen actually sat down and wrote their scripts and then 15 months ago, maybe a dozen of them sold to networks. Maybe six or seven of them went to pilot in the spring of 2011. And ABC, eager to pounce all over that possible zeitgeist, picked up three different shows about the plight of the white male, scheduling two -- "Last Man Standing" and "Man Up" for a fall comedy block -- and saving the most thematically explicit, "Work It," for a threatening midseason slot. 
 
"Last Man Standing" began course-correcting almost immediately and it has mostly become an innocuous sitcom about an old-fashioned man with old-fashioned values living in a house surrounded by women. Tim Allen's character occasionally laments the state of contemporary masculinity, but he's just the latest iteration of that beloved sitcom trope: The well-meaning, but in-over-his-head dad. I've kept watching "Last Man Standing" because it makes me chuckle once or twice a week and because my DVR isn't over-taxed on Tuesdays. 
 
"Man Up" never returned to the over-articulated thematics of its pilot and it eventually began to just illustrate the ordinary lives of a few ordinary men and if they happened to be struggling with their masculine identities, that was part of the background of the story. The premise soft-pedaling didn't particularly matter, since "Man Up" never was able to hold onto its lead-in audience and the freshman comedy has ceased to exist on ABC's schedule.
 
Whether it ultimately works or ultimately doesn't work, if what birthed your show is a trend of questionable veracity, it really, really helps to have a premise that allows you room to backpedal.
 
"Work It," which inexplicably sees the light of day on Tuesday (January  3) night, has no room to backpedal. It's the story of two men who dress up as women because women have stolen all of the jobs from men and there really isn't much that the writers are going to be able to do to change that. So "Work It" is stuck with a genuinely stupid, somewhat offensive and entirely factually fantastical premise, which is a bad thing, but not nearly as bad as the execution, which is uninspired and amateurish to an impressive extreme. 
 
Like the mancession itself, I'd expect "Work It" to be a statistical blip, living on only in TV critic punchlines and as somewhat awkward conversation starters with the show's not-untalented cast.
 
Click through for more...
 
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<p>Katie Leclerc and Vanessa Marano of &quot;Switched at Birth&quot;</p>
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Katie Leclerc and Vanessa Marano of "Switched at Birth"

Credit: ABC Family

HitFix Interview: Creator Lizzy Weiss talks 'Switched at Birth'

ABC Family's hit drama resumes its first season on Tuesday
ABC Family's "Switched at Birth" was one of 2011's pleasant surprises.
 
The potentially tawdry tale of two teenage girls who discover they were [the title doesn't lie] switched at birth -- One's an aspiring artist raised by wealthy parents, one's a deaf basketball player raced by a blue collar single mom -- was rendered with enough sensitivity and nuance to earn a place on my Second 10 of 2011 list. 
 
In addition to being unexpectedly good, "Switched at Birth" also proved extremely successful for ABC Family, which gave the drama a back-22, bringing its first season to a whopping 32 episodes.
 
"Switched at Birth" returns on Tuesday (January 3) for the second block of episodes and I chatted with series creator Lizzy Weiss ("Blue Crush") about what's in store for Daphne (Katie Leclerc) and Bay (Vanessa Marano), their newly blended families and, of course, Emmett (Sean Berdy).
 
Click through for the full Q&A...
 
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<p>&nbsp;</p>
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Credit: Showtime

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 110

Dan and Alan review 'Work It,' 'Shameless,' 'Downton Abbey,' 'The Firm' and more

The

The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast leaps into 2012 with a busy show that includes reviews of "Work It," "Downton Abbey," "Shameless," "House of Lies" and "The Firm."
 
As if that's not enough, we fielded a little bit of Listener Mail.
 
And as if that weren't enough, we also spent WAY too long -- especially since this podcast was a Skype nightmare -- talking about the NFL MVP race and then the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. 
 
As a friendly reminder: The sports stuff is 100% backloaded to the end of what was already a regulation-lengthed podcast. It didn't take away from our TV talk time. It was just something we did at the end. We won't be offended if you don't listen.
 
And don't worry, we probably won't do any sports talk the next couple weeks, because we're going to be at Press Tour and there will still be premieres galore. But we'll be in the same place.
 
Anyway, here's the breakdown:
"Work It" (02:35 - 17:15)
"Downton Abbey" (17:20 - 27:20)
"The Firm" (27:25 - 38:20)
"Shameless" (38:30 - 47:55)
"House of Lies" (48:00 - 56:40)
Listener Mail - Reviewing shows projecting forward (57:00 - 01:04:10)
The NFL MVP Race (01:04:35 - 01:10:15)
The Baseball Hall of Fame (01:10:15 - 01:31:30)

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.] 

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 109 - Worst of 2011

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 109 - Worst of 2011

Dan and Alan go through the year's TV lowlights

The

Happy Tuesday, Boys & Girls!
 
In our final Firewall & Iceberg Podcast of 2011, Sepinwall and I celebrate the year's worst TV. While our "Best Of..." podcast had the structure of our respective Top 10s, this "Worst Of..." is just us going back and forth tearing into some of our least favorite shows of the year. 
 
We also reviewed HBO's "Angry Boys," which I liked a bit more than Alan did, but still didn't enjoy all that much.
 
As a warning, there are very few big spoilers in this podcast, *but* there was no way to talk about the "Dexter" finale and its awfulness without getting specific.
 
If you're a "Dexter" viewer, but haven't watched the end of this season, that discussion takes place between 48:00 and 52:50.
 
Here's the broad breakdown:
TV's Worst of 2011 (02:30 - 01:02:00)
"Angry Boys" (01:02:05 - 01:11:10)

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.] 

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<p>Emmy Rossum and Justin Chatwin of &quot;Shameless&quot;</p>
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Emmy Rossum and Justin Chatwin of "Shameless"

Credit: Showtime

The Fien Print's TV Second 10 of 2011

Which shows just missed the cut for our critic's Top 10?
In case you've forgotten, here was my list of TV's Top 10 for 2011.
 
1) "Friday Night Lights"
2) "Breaking Bad"
3) "Downton Abbey"
4) "Parks & Recreation"
5) "Game of Thrones"
6) "Louie"
7) "Justified"
8) "Homeland"
9) "The Vampire Diaries"
10) "The Hour"
 
 
As I said when I posted my Top 10, after the Top 9, there were myriad shows that could have rounded out my list. 
 
Click through for my Second 10. As promised, after keeping my Top 10 to a sacred and unembellished 10, my Second 10 is full of cheats, including one thematic tie, one production block and one limited segment of a year that was otherwise kinda dismal.
 
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