<p>Blair Underwood of &quot;Ironside&quot;</p>

Blair Underwood of "Ironside"

Credit: NBC

Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Ironside'

Blair Underwood shines, but is that enough?

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"Ironside" (NBC)
Airs:Wednesdays at 10 p.m.
The Pitch: You know that show "Ironside"? Do we think the brand has ANY equity for today's audience? Excellent. Now how about if it stars Blair Underwood? He's a TV star, right? I mean, even if he hasn't anchored a hit show in... decades.
Quick Response: I don't want to say that Blair Underwood has been complacent in recent years, but I wouldn't say that "Dirty Sexy Money," "The Event" and "New Adventures of Old Christine" asked much of him other than being handsome, suave and determined. In contrast, "Ironside" actually asks a lot of Underwood and he delivers a performance that is fierce, physically challenging and intellectually interesting, without ever ceasing to be handsome, suave and determined. There's an anger and frustration to Underwood's Ironside that makes the character seem nuanced and sometimes dangerous, and turns the character into more than just a wheelchair-bound, crime-solving version of House. This is Underwood's best work in years and, at the very least, that gives "Ironside" a key central piece to work with. And with Brent Sexton, Pablo Schreiber and "Greek" veteran Spencer Grammer, there are the elements here for what could be a reasonably good ensemble around Underwood. Unfortunately, the procedural aspects of "Ironside" are utterly generic and the integration of flashbacks, so that Underwood isn't wheelchair-bound 100 percent of the time, add more to the amelioration of Underwood's work schedule (and to the answering of "Why didn't you hire a differently able actor to play this role?" questions) than to the narrative. The pilot underuses Schreiber and Grammer, barely gives Neal Bledsoe a character, leaves Kenneth Choi with uninteresting authority figure blather and poorly integrates Sexton. So what should be an ensemble is Underwood carrying the whole whole load and as good as he is, he can't make you ignore the fact that you're ignoring whatever the case-of-the-week happens to be. I think there's a version of "Ironside" that evolves down its own path and capitalizes heavily on its New York City location shooting that probably takes after NBC's underrated "Prime Suspect," another remake that had too many issues and ties to the original that it had to work out in its pilot and had lost nearly all of its audience by the time it became really good. With a background on "The Sopranos" and "Rescue Me," creator Michael Caleo has some potential, but any and all enthusiasm stemming from the pilot is generated by Underwood's searing performance and not by the show around him.
Desire To Watch Again: Even a perfect version of "Ironside" is an entry in a genre that I only have tepid interest in, though I'm likely to give this an episode or two because it's in a slot in which my DVR isn't overtaxed -- "Nashville" and likely some cable stuff. What I need is for the ensemble to get a swift blending, without sacrificing the uncompromising nature of Underwood's performance. Adding even a tiny bit of inspiration to the procedural aspects wouldn't hurt.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'We Are Men' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Almost Human' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Back in the Game' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'Sean Saves the World' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'Reign' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'The Crazy Ones' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Enlisted' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Betrayal' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Blacklist' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: The CW's 'The Tomorrow People' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: CBS' 'Hostages' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: FOX's 'Sleepy Hollow' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: ABC's 'Trophy Wife' 
Take Me To The Pilots '13: NBC's 'The Michael J. Fox Show' 
All of my 2012 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2011 Take Me To The Pilots Entries
All of my 2010 Take Me To The Pilots Entries

 

 

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<p>&quot;Downton Abbey&quot;</p>

"Downton Abbey"

Credit: PBS

Press Tour: PBS chief repeats the party line on 'Downton Abbey,' 'Sherlock' premieres

'Downton' will continue to air late in the States
It's been nearly eight months since PBS President Paula Kerger last met with reporters to discuss why the blazes "Downton Abbey" and other PBS programs don't air domestically at the same time as they do Across the Pond.
 
On Tuesday (August 6), Kerger had her latest Television Critics Association press tour panel with reporters and was, predictably, asked the same familiar questions about spoilers and online piracy and whether or not those threats might lead to a premiere shift for PBS' ratings standard-bearers. 
 
The short answer? Nope! It'll be delays-as-usual for "Downton Abbey," which hits PBS on January 5, and probably for "Sherlock," which has a yet-to-be-determined spring return.
 
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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 195
Credit: AMC

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 195

Dan and Alan talk TCA Press Tour, 'Broadchurch,' 'Breaking Bad' and 'The O.C.'

The

Happy Late Monday, Boys & Girls! It's time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
We were originally gonna do a podcast, plus a little little video thing, but there were hiccups. 
 
Instead, it's a full podcast without our faces. In this installment, we talk for a long while about the second half of TCA press tour, review "Broadchurch" and "Low Winter Sun" and we enthusiastically endorse the new season of "Breaking Bad," even if we can't say much.
 
And then, even though we said this week's Summer Pilot Rewatch was going to be "The Wonder Years," we decided instead to talk about the pilot for "The O.C.," which celebrated its 10th anniversary today. 
 
Here's today's breakdown:
TCA Press Tour (00:02:20 - 00:38:50)
"Broadchurch" (00:39:30 - 00:51:15)
"Breaking Bad" (00:51:15 - 00:54:50)
"Low Winter Sun" (00:54:50 - 01:06:00)
The 10th Anniversary of "The O.C." (01:06:00 - 01:24:30)

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 as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

 

 

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<p>Paul Lee at the January 2013 TCA press tour</p>

Paul Lee at the January 2013 TCA press tour

Credit: ABC

Press Tour Live-Blog: ABC's Paul Lee

Expect talk about 'S.H.I.E.L.D.,' 'Wonderland' and more

Paul Lee is just moments away from taking the stage to justify another season of mixed ABC ratings, but most of the buzz in the ballroom is about the new Doctor.

We're easily distracted.

Let's see if Paul Lee can get our attentions back with his usual talk of ABC's brand and the scrumptiousness of the network's programming!

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<p>John Landgraf at January's Television Critics Association press tour</p>

John Landgraf at January's Television Critics Association press tour

Credit: FX

Press Tour Live-Blog: John Landgraf on the State of FX Networks

Critical favorite will discuss the FX/FXX split and probably mock Netflix

It's Friday (August 2) morning at the utterly endless Television Critics Association press tour.

Today is FX's day, featuring panels for "Sons of Anarchy," "American Horror Story: Coven" and "The Bridge," among many others.

But first? FX CEO John Landgraf.

Click through for updates on all things FX...

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<p>FOX Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly at January's TCA panel</p>

FOX Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly at January's TCA panel

Credit: FOX

Press Tour Live-Blog: FOX's Kevin Reilly

Expect talk about 'Idol,' Cory Monteith and more from FOX's chief

It was a mixed-to-negative season for FOX Entertainment Chairman Kevin Reilly.

Yes, he developed and launched "The Following," which was one of the year's biggest drama hits.

However, he also watched as "The X Factor" continued to struggle, "American Idol" became increasing mortal and both reality shows continued to hemorrhage judges. He was forced to continue to renew struggling comedies and pretend they were successes. And after giving a surprising two-season renewal to "Glee" last spring, Reilly and FOX now face the challenge of promoting a show coping with a very real tragedy.

Click through to follow Reilly's Thursday (August 1) morning executive session at the Television Critics Association press tour.

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 194

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 194

Dan and Alan talk TCA Press Tour, 'Clear History' and 'My So-Called Life'

The

Happy Wednesday, Boys & Girls!
 
It's a double-dose of Firewall & Iceberg this week!
 
On Monday, we did a videocast, discussing the first couple days of TCA Press Tour.
 
And today? It's a full-on Firewall & Iceberg podcast, complete with lengthy chatter about the past few press tour days, as well as the slightly delayed Summer Pilot Rewatch of "My So-Called Life." 
 
Because next week's podcast (posting at a time TBD) is potentially jam-packed, we also moved our review of Larry David's HBO telefilm "Clear History" up to today.
 
Oh and our next Summer Pilot Rewatch? We're sticking in the coming-of-age vein, but we're transitioning to comedy with "The Wonder Years."
 
Here's today's breakdown:
TCA Press Tour (00:02:00 - 00:45:30)
"Clear History" (00:45:30 - 54:30)
Summer Pilot Rewatch: "My So-Called Life" (00:54:30 - 01:11:30)

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 as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

 

 

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<p>David Nevins</p>

David Nevins

Credit: Showtime

Press Tour Live-Blog: David Nevins on the State of Showtime

Will the Save the 'Borgias' airplanes be mentioned?

An airplane flew back and forth and back and forth over the Television Critics Association press tour lunch on Tuesday (July 30). The plane dragged a banner urging Showtime Entertainment President David Nevins to reconsider the cancellation of "The Borgias."

Will he reconsider? Probably not! 

Will he be asked about "The Borgias" at his executive session? Probably!

Click through for the full live-blog.

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<p>Mark Pedowitz</p>

Mark Pedowitz

Credit: The CW

Press Tour Live-Blog: Mark Pedowitz on the State of The CW

Network president explains how The C-Dub stays in business

Mark Pedowitz has been The CW's president for a couple years now. He's done multiple Television Critics Association press tour panels, so we're pretty accustomed to his relatively brief answers and to the ongoing proof that he's watching all of his network's shows.

He's also got a new drama hit in "Arrow" and a surprising new comedy hit in "Whose Line Is It Anyway?"

Click through for The State of the CW courtesy of Mark Pedowitz's TCA press tour executive session...

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<p>Cote de Pablo of &quot;NCIS&quot;</p>

Cote de Pablo of "NCIS"

Credit: CBS

Press Tour: Les Moonves insists CBS offered Cote de Pablo 'a lot of money'

CEO says leaving 'NCIS' was her decision
In the days leading up to CBS' Monday (July 29) presentation at the Television Critics Association press tour, a number of emails began to circulate to a wide array of reporters.
 
Fans of "NCIS" wanted to make it clear both that they were able to dig up the email addresses for dozens of TCA members, but also that they were concerned about a recent departure from the show's cast.
 
Claiming to represent Operation Bring Back Cote, the emails requested that we ask CBS about the recent announcement that Cote de Pablo would be leaving "NCIS" and that her character, Ziva David, would get only a one-episode send-off at the start of the upcoming season. 
 
The campaign emails suggested the Cote de Pablo's exit was money-based and that it continued a trend of CBS procedurals undervaluing female talent. [While the former may or may not be true, negotiations with female cast members on "Criminal Minds" certainly give credence to the latter.]
 
It's unclear if the emails had any impact on the reporting body of the TCA -- "NCIS" is still TV's most watched drama and a show of that stature losing a prominent star is the kind of thing we'd normally inquire about --  but CBS Corp CEO Les Moonves was, indeed, asked about Cote de Pablo on Monday morning.
 
He was prepared.
 
"I really want to clarify," Moonves began. "We offered Cote de Pablo a lot of money, and then we offered her even more money because we really didn’t want to lose her. We love her. We think she was she was terrific. And we, obviously, were in discussions. And the rest of the cast and the producers were aware what’s going on. And ultimately she decided she didn’t want to do the show. It was purely her decision. We’re, obviously, getting a lot of emails. There’s a lot of Twitter buzz about her, and rightly so. She’s a wonderful lady." 
 
He concluded, "Look, 'NCIS,' the highest rated show on television last year. We don’t like losing anybody. But we did everything humanly possible. We feel like we exhausted every opportunity, and she just decided she didn’t want to do the show."
 
More details as they emerge. Or not.
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