<p>Piers Morgan</p>

Piers Morgan

Credit: CNN

Piers Morgan lines up Oprah Winfrey, cockiness for CNN debut

Larry King replacement promises in-depth interviews starting Jan. 17
As I sat tweeting about Piers Morgan's Television Critics Association press tour panel on Thursday (Jan. 6) morning, I received at least a half-dozen messages from Across-the-Pond tweeps. Their sentiments can be boiled down thusly: "He's your problem now. Good luck."
 
Piers Morgan is a polarizing figure. 
 
[More after the break...]
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<p>&nbsp;Betty White</p>

 Betty White

Credit: Paul Drinkwater/NBC

The Unsinkable Betty White kicks off the TCA press tour

The 'Hot in Cleveland' star knows that you may have overdosed on her
Little known fact: The Television Critics Association was 100% responsible for Betty White's recent career renaissance. 
 
OK. Fine. That may not be true, but we did give Ms. White a Lifetime Achievement Award two summers ago. That was before she got a Career Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild and before the whole "Saturday Night Live" Facebook campaign and "Hot in Cleveland" and her current general level of ubiquity. So even if the TCA wasn't even slightly responsible for Betty White's recent career renaissance, we were ahead of the curve.
 
The Unsinkable Betty White, a two-time SAG Awards nominee this spring for "Hot in Cleveland," hit the TCA press tour stage early Wednesday (Jan. 5) morning and she left little doubt that The Cult of Betty White may also be leaving her weary.
 
[Highlights after the break...]
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<p>Nicolas Cage and Claire Foy</p>

Nicolas Cage and Claire Foy

Watch: Nicolas Cage and Claire Foy talk 'Season of the Witch'

Supernatural fright-fest or historical action film? The stars discuss...
LONDON -- In "Season of the Witch," Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman play a pair of soldiers who return home from the Crusades disillusioned by the violence they've committed in the name of God. 
 
Discovering their home city overrun by the Plague, the warriors are entrusted with delivering an alleged witch (Claire Foy) to a far-off monastery to rid the land of its curse. Along the treacherous journey -- curses and chasms and wolves, oh my! -- their faith is tested and, wouldn't you know it, they come to wonder if their witch is truly a witch at all.
 
Although Cage is no stranger to certain kinds of period films -- think "Birdie" or "Windtalkers" or "Peggy Sue Got Married" -- "Season of the Witch" offered a major historical departure, plus his first opportunity to act on a horse.
 
The hook for "Season of the Witch" is the swordplay and the supernatural intrigue, but underneath that surface is a film that's every bit as much about the power of religion to do great good, but also great evil.
 
I sat down with Cage -- fresh off a plane from the set of his upcoming "Ghost Rider" sequel -- and Foy on a snowy late-November morning in London to discuss both sides of their film, which opens in theaters on Friday (Jan. 7). 
 
Check out the interview and pay no attention to my description of the film as "sword-and-sandals" in my first question. Sword-and-sorcery, though? Perhaps!
 
And stay tuned for my interview with Perlman and co-star Robert Sheehan later this week.
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<p>Logan Huffman and Elizabeth Mitchell of 'V'</p>

Logan Huffman and Elizabeth Mitchell of 'V'

Credit: ABC

TV Review: ABC's 'V' returns for Season 2

Alien drama offers plenty of distractions from its narrative wormhole
This is not a spoiler, but in the season's third episode of "V," our intrepid human characters think they're uncovering part of what's motivating our new alien visitors. They have a long conversation involving DNA that goes beyond any sort of even rudimentary scientific logic. One character looks at the information at hand and asks how the ridiculousness could be possible.
 
Enter the helpful evolutionary biologist played by Bret Harrison and introduced in Tuesday's (Jan. 4) premiere.
 
"Of course it's not possible," he rants. "Neither are giant spaceships."
 
That tells you almost everything you need to know about the second season of "V."
 
[More after the break... with moderate spoilers...]
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<p>The cast of ABC Family's 'Greek'</p>

The cast of ABC Family's 'Greek'

Credit: ABC Family

HitFix Interview: 'Greek' creator Sean Smith talks Season 4

What's in store for Casey, Cappie and the rest of the CRU kids?

"Greek" kicked off its fourth season on ABC Family on Monday (Jan. 3) night, paired with the network's summer favorite "Pretty Little Liars."

 
The college-set dramedy's fourth season is one of realignment, with several major characters graduating in the premiere's opening minutes, leaving undergraduate life behind for law school and uncertain professional futures.
 
I caught up with series creator Sean Smith to talk about what's in store for Casey, Cappie, Rebecca, Evan, Ashleigh and the rest of the CRU gang. 
 
The starting point for the interview was the events of the premiere, including the important decision made by one key character at the end of the episode.
 
After you've watched Monday's episode, click through for the full interview with Smith...
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<p>Emmy Rossum and Justin Chatwin of 'Shameless'</p>

Emmy Rossum and Justin Chatwin of 'Shameless'

Credit: Showtime

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 53

Dan and Alan discuss 'V,' 'The Cape,' 'Episodes,' 'Shameless' and more

The

 

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls.
 
We may not have hover-cars or Feelies in the wild future of 2011, but at least we still have lengthy installments of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
In our first installment of the new year, Alan and I discuss the returns of "V" and "Southland," as well as the series premieres of "Bob's Burgers," "The Cape," "Episodes" and "Shameless."
 
Starting later this week, we'll both be covering the Television Critics Association press tour from Pasadena, so we should have a couple podcasts from the same location. It's sure to be wacky. 
 
For now, here's this week's breakdown:
 
The return of "V" -- 00:02:05 - 00:11:10
The return of "Southland" -- 00:11:10 - 00:18:40
Reader Mail relating to TV with an agenda -- 00:19:00 - 00:28:20
"Bob's Burgers" -- 00:28:45 - 00:33:40
"The Cape" -- 00:33:45 - 00:41:00
"Episodes" -- 00:41:15 - 00:50:50
"Shameless" -- 00:50:55 - 01:00:30

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.]

 
And here's the podcast...

 

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<p>The 'Pretty Little Liars' cast</p>

The 'Pretty Little Liars' cast

Credit: ABC Family

TV Reviews: 'Greek' and 'Pretty Little Liars' return to ABC Family

More Greek system hijinks and dull murder mysteries
Monday (Jan. 3) marks the premiere of a programming block that I already like to think of as "The United States of ABC Family." No, ABC Family isn't premiering a patriotic new lineup. The network is actually showcasing its multiple personality disorder for the world to see, bringing "Pretty Little Liars" back for the second half of its first season and launching a fourth season of "Greek."
 
When "Greek" premiered in 2007, the college-set dramedy felt like an odd deviation for ABC Family. There were one-night-stands, underaged drinking and intimations of very lightweight recreational drug use. Despite those elements, hardly trumpeted in the promotion, I stayed away from "Greek" because of what I thought the ABC Family brand meant.
 
I didn't get that "Greek" was a turning point in that brand, opening the door for hits like "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" and "Make It or Break It," as well as appealing short-timers like "10 Things I Hate About You."
 
ABC Family made a full-on commitment to becoming CW-lite this past summer with the premiere of "Pretty Little Liars," a commitment to teen-appropriate edginess that left "Greek" looking almost quaint and wholesome again in comparison. 
 
"Pretty Little Liars" and "Greek," those two layers of ABC Family's evolution, have now been paired and the network has decided to additionally expose its dueling identities by putting "Pretty Little Liars" in the 8 p.m. slot and "Greek" at 9 p.m. The scheduling is obviously to the benefit of "Greek," which finds itself in future-limbo and should get a small boost from "PLL," but it also puts the show with murder, incest and teen sexual exploration in the family hour and leaves the softer, cuddlier show airing in the later hour. Yup. Somebody's gotta take the Parents Television Council side in this nonsense and it might as well be me. [That last sentence was a joke. I'm not actually bothered that ABC Family has its two dramas in the wrong time slots in terms of content. In fact, if catching onto the strange affection for "PLL" in certain corners of the media gets "Greek" additional episodes? I'm on-board.]
 
If you're a regular, or even an occasional, reader, you know that I'm a fan of "Greek," while I didn't much like "Pretty Little Liars" when it first launched.
 
Where do I find myself landing on the two shows as they return? Click through for a few thoughts on each. After all, it's not like Sepinwall's gonna be reviewing them...
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<p>Yvonne Strahovski and Zachary Levi of 'Chuck'</p>

Yvonne Strahovski and Zachary Levi of 'Chuck'

Credit: NBC

TV's Second 10 of 2010 from The Fien Print

From 'Chuck' to 'Lost' to 'Treme,' which shows didn't make the Top 10?
I posted my TV Top 10 for 2010 in video form yesterday, one day after the list made its actual debut as part of the Monday podcast.
 
As promised, here's my Second 10-ish, a list of 12 shows that would have filled the next 10 slots had I been doing a Top 20 for the year.
 
It's here that I observe that much as I loved the No. 1 and No. 2 shows on my countdown, my top TV viewing experience of 2010 was actually the four months it took me to run through the complete series of FX's "The Shield," which the entire universe took me to task for excluding from my Best of the '00s Top 31 series last December. If I had my Top 31 to do all over again, "The Shield" would be in my Top 5, I suspect (for the decade, that is). 
 
Now on to my Second 10-ish, after the break. That's 12 shows for the 10 slots between 11 and 20. And they're IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER...
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<p>Jon Hamm of 'Mad Men'</p>

Jon Hamm of 'Mad Men'

TV's Top 10 of 2010 from The Fien Print

Vampires, lions, mobsters and terriers... Oh my!
If you're reading this post and watching this video, chances are that you love television. Or, at the very least, I'd say that chances are that you *like* television.
 
And if that's the case, if you're the kind of person who likes television enough to take it seriously and to enjoy discussing it, you've probably gotten into one of those conversations where somebody tries telling you that they hate TV or where they try telling you that there's nothing to watch on TV, or where they try proving they're "aware" of the TV landscape by suggesting that their dislike for TV stems not from the medium itself, but from the proliferation of reality TV which has, if you trust certain people, led directly to the demise of all things quality and scripted on the small screen. 
 
While you might be prone to obscenities when speaking with such people, you could also just walk away with a simple, "You're a ridiculous fool" (or "troll," if the conversation is taking place online). 
 
I'm not going to try convincing you that we're in the middle of the same so-called TV Golden Age that we were in in the mid-00s when "The Sopranos" and "The Wire" and "Deadwood" and "Arrested Development" and "Lost" and "The Shield" were delivering dozens of hours of new TV every year.
 
But I'll say, without hesitation, that all 10 of the shows in my Top 10 are shows that I love, shows that I feel a passionate need to support and defend. My loosely sketched Top 10 Movies of 2010 list doesn't include more than four or five films I feel that level of devotion to. 
 
I didn't cheat on my Top 10. There are exactly 10 shows for 10 positions. But I cheated a little on the Second 10, a list that'll post tomorrow or the next day. That list will contain a couple more than 10 slots because it turns out that there are more than 20 shows on TV that I adore. And even after cheating a tiny bit, my list excluded recent Emmy favorites, TCA Award winners and shows with rabid fanbases that are sure to be unhappy with me (especially when a couple of those shows pop up in my 10 Worst gallery later this week).
 
Including this video and my Second 10, my Best of 2010 package (slightly less inclusive than Sepinwall's) includes exactly one season of one reality show, plus one nonfiction program. That means at least 20-ish scripted programs made my list. Again, don't let anybody tell you that reality has made it impossible to find quality scripted programming on TV. I don't care if you don't love all 20 of the scripted shows on my list. To each their own. But if you *hate* all 20, that's a problem and it isn't my problem.
 
Don't let anybody tell you there are no good comedies on TV. I've got two in my Top 10 and four or five more that'll make my next grouping. 
 
In fact, don't let anybody tell you that TV is lacking in good examples of almost *any* genre. In my Top 20-ish, I've got thrillers, period pieces, action shows, a sports drama, a sports documentary series, a couple stellar entries from the miniseries/made-for-TV field, a PI mystery, a teenage soap about vampires and werewolves, plus a complicated social drama that brings together music, food and a portrait of one of America's great cities. You want it? You can find it on the small screen.
 
Everything good is on cable and there's nothing good on network TV? Well, I'll grant that only four of my Top 10 will have aired on a broadcast network this year, but that number expands significantly when I stretch into my Top 20-ish. 
 
Anyway, enough of me being defensive. It's just that I'm generally a rather huge snob. You know this about me, dear readers. And if I can find more than 20 shows I love on TV, there probably ought to be one or two shows out there for everybody. 
 
I feel pretty solid about this list. The gap between the bottom five shows on this Top 10 and some of the shows in my Second 10 is fairly small. The gap between the top two shows and everything else on the list is fairly wide.
 
Enjoy my Top 10 (Much credit to HitFix's Alex Dorn for the editing!)... Stay tuned for the Second 10 in the days to come.
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<p>Jon Hamm of 'Mad Men'</p>

Jon Hamm of 'Mad Men'

Credit: AMC

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 52 - TV's Best of 2010

Dan and Alan go through the Best TV of 2010

The

 

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls. It's time for the last Firewall & Iceberg Podcast of 2010.
 
Two weeks ago, we did our list of Best TV Episodes of 2010. Last week, we did our Worst of 2010.
 
What does that leave for this week? The Best of 2010, duh.
 
Now, of course, if you've watched Alan's Best of 2010 video and read any of his subsequent blog posts, you already know his Top 10. And my Best of 2010 video should be up in the fairly near future.
 
But just because you know the list doesn't mean you've heard us discussing our lists!
 
There's no breakdown for this podcast, because it's 100% Best of 2010, all 47 minutes.

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.]

 
And here's the podcast...

 

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