Inside TV+Movies with Daniel Fienberg
New TBS comedy improves on the Ice Cube movie, which isn't high praise
I don't care if it's damning the show with the faintest of praise, but I still want to give TBS' "Are We There Yet?" a little credit. It's many times better than the ineptly made Ice Cube family comedy of the same name that serves as its vague basis. That mirthless hit was, itself, many times better than the 2007 sequel "Are We Done Yet?," which did to "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" what BP is doing to the Gulf Coast.
I'm not going to go so far as to say that TBS' "Are We There Yet?" is especially good (or even slightly memorable), but at least it will provide a dark horse answer in those frequently rehashed "List TV shows that improved upon the movie that spawned them" debates.
[Click through for a full review of "Are We There Yet?," which seems destined for a long cable run.]
Michael Sheen shines, while Dennis Quaid works to escape Bill Clinton's Shadow
Although director Richard Loncraine didn't instantly warm to the idea when I interviewed
him, his semi-disapproval isn't going to stop me from viewing HBO's new telepic "The Special Relationship" as an ill-fated platonic love story, or as a political bromance.
Writer Peter Morgan's third project built around different chapters in Tony Blair's political career -- you've seen "The Queen," but you may have missed "The Deal" -- focuses on the British Prime Minister's bond with U.S. President Bill Clinton.
The title "The Special Relationship" refers to ties between the United States and the U.K., but it's just as much about the special relationship that developed between Blair (Michael Sheen in his third expert tour-of-duty) and Clinton (Dennis Quaid), two men who initially didn't seem to have that much in common, but would forge ties that would be both beneficial and harmful.
I focused on "The Special Relationship" as almost a "The Way We Were With Dudes" because the bromantic aspects are fresh and intriguing, while the political aspects rely too heavily on rehashing and reenacting the scandals and crises of the day.
More thoughts on "The Special Relationship" after the break...
HBO telefilm features Michael Sheen and Dennis Quaid as Tony Blair and Bill Clinton
Looking at director Richard Loncraine's resume, he's a difficult man to put a finger one.
He won an Emmy as part of the directing team on HBO's "Band of Brothers" and picked up Emmy nods for the HBO telefilms "My House in Umbria" and "The Gathering Storm."
With Ian McKellen's "Richard III," he helmed one of the most acclaimed Shakespeare films of recent years, following that up with a tennis romance ("Wimbledon"), a Harrison Ford thriller ("Firewall") and a Renee Zellweger period piece.
Loncraine's new film is HBO's "The Special Relationship," the third film in writer Peter Morgan's trilogy about Tony Blair. In addition to featuring Michael Sheen returning as Blair, "The Special Relationship" co-stars Dennis Quaid and Hope Davis as Bill and Hillary Clinton. Like its predecessors "The Deal" and "The Queen," it's a revealing portrait of the people behind politics and power.
HitFix caught up with Loncraine for a revealing interview about Blair, Clinton and the director's process and his place in the industry.
Daniel Fienberg and Alan Sepinwall discuss 'Lost,' 'American Idol,' 'Chuck' and the future
It's a busy, lengthy, finale-filled installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
We begin with a solid 26 minutes of discussion of "Lost," followed by talk about "American Idol," "Chuck" and then a half-dozen random finales in one segment.
Then, we address the big issue: With so many of our favorite talking points done either for the summer or forever, what will we talk about all summer? Well, it's not as dire as that. It's more "What will we talk about until 'Mad Men' returns at the end of July and we can then transition into Comic-Con, Press Tour and the Fall Season again?" We have a couple answers.
Anyway, here's today's discussion order:
"Lost" -- 02:00 - 28:10
"American Idol" -- 28:10 - 38:55
"Chuck" -- 40:00 - 47:00
Random other finales - 47:00 - 54:10
What's next for Firewall & Iceberg - 54:15 - 59:40
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 this week's podcast...
Julianna Margulies's Alicia once again must choose between Peter and Will
I don't write very often about CBS' "The Good Wife."
That doesn't mean I don't watch every episode.
In fact, I often find that episodes of "The Good Wife" get watched and cleared off of my DVR far quicker than shows I feel more passionately about. I have to be in a mood to watch "Treme" or even "Justified," but "The Good Wife" requires no specific temperament and no specific attention to detail or mythology. Its core is just procedural enough to keep me only liminally engaged, but just character-driven and serialized enough that I feel inclined to keep watching.
"The Good Wife" is *good*. "The Good Wife" is solid. "The Good Wife" is proficient. "The Good Wife" is CBS.
And there is absolutely nothing damning about that.
"The Good Wife" completed its good and solid and proficient first season on Tuesday (May 25) night with an episode that tied the 23 episodes together nicely. We began with a press conference and ended with a press conference, but that doesn't mean that we're right back where we started from.
[More thoughts on the "Good Wife" finale after the break...]
'HIMYM' wraps a season that was more fitfully funny than consistent
In one of our earliest podcasts, Sepinwall raised the idea, suggested by somebody on his blog, that it might be a good idea for "How I Met Your Mother" to set an end date, a la "Lost."
That way, the writers would be able to plan out their final seasons leading up to exactly the perfect ending of their choosing and that would yield an unimpeachable finale, a la "Lost." [Heh. Heh.]
I mocked the idea at the time.
After watching Monday's (May 24) "How I Met Your Mother" season finale, I'm rethinking that position. That "How I Met Your Mother" has lost the thread of what the show was originally about isn't a problem for me.
Shows need the ability to evolve and change and I never thought it was fair to make "How I Met Your Mother" stick to some timetable of when Josh Radnor's Ted was going to meet the woman who'd eventually bear his children.
What I want, speaking only for myself here and your results may vary, is that the show find and solidify some core around which the wackiness can spin. "How I Met Your Mother" just completed a season in which the thread of Ted's search for his future baby mama was removed almost entirely and without that stitching, the show unraveled.
Now "HIMYM" is Craig Thomas and Carter Bays' sweater to knit however they want, but this year's version of the sweater was the sort of present that I probably wouldn't wear out in public (not that I'd ever miss an episode).
More thoughts on the "How I Met Your Mother" finale, promising not to mention the stupid threat/stitching/sweater metaphor ever again, after the break...
One of the most innovative shows in TV history isn't leaving at its peak
Millions of DVRs across the nation will wake up on Tuesday morning feeling an odd weight lifted from their shoulders. [Disclaimer: The Fien Print is aware that DVRs don't sleep, nor do they feel the pressure of their central and irreplaceable role in many of our lives.]
I'm not going to get all nostalgic on you and try to write some sort of "It's the End of an Era" manifesto, but I'm also not immune to the general significance of "Lost," "24" and the "Law & Order" Mothership all ending within 24 hours. [Plus, if you want to extend another 72 hours, we'll get the series finale of "FlashForward," not that anybody cares.]
Using the same cop-out I invoked yesterday with "Lost," I'm not really going to do an elaborate "24" tribute. If I didn't cover my respect and admiration for the show in my Best of the Decade posting for "24,"
it probably wasn't worth saying. And certainly nothing in the show's current eighth season has done anything to enhance my appreciation. If you want to honor "24," check out that post. This post here is a realistic assessment of where "24" is as it wraps up its eighth season on Monday (May 24) night.
That doesn't mean "24" is going out with a total whimper, but those expecting a bang aren't correctly understand the way "24" works.
Some thoughts on the departure of FOX's "24," with general spoilers but not specific spoilers, after the break... Feel free to come back after the episode ends...
The Fien Print already wrote a long tribute to 'Lost,' but also this silly parody script
Stop me if you've heard this already...
Sunday (May 23) night is the finale of "Lost."
It's a confusing night for ABC. On one hand, the network and the "Lost" creators made the right creative choice in setting an end date, which certainly helped Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse with the storytelling, but also probably halted the viewer erosion that was taking place at the time. But on the other hand, it did such a fine job halting said viewer erosion that "Lost" is leaving the air as one of ABC's highest rated dramas, particularly in the 18-49 demo. It's been a while since a series had its finale while retaining this high a level of popularity.
That's *part* of why Sunday is more of a phenomenon, particularly on my Twitter feed, than when something like "E.R." or "The West Wing" (or even "The Wire" or "The Sopranos") went off the air.
I'm not going to wax rhapsodic about "Lost" now. I did that in my Best of the Decade post
(I've rearranged half of the list in my mind since then) in December.
For tonight's episode, I'm gonna be watching over at AOL headquarters before recording my reactions for the Instant Dharma videocast (I'd have guested sooner, but "American Idol" commitments tie me down most Wednesday nights). Meanwhile, Sepinwall will be prepping HitFix's first finale recap for posting late, late tonight, while Drew McWeeny will be watching and prepping for HitFix's second finale recap posting early tomorrow morning. And if I have enough to say, maybe I'll do my own recap tomorrow, which is unlikely since I also have to say similarly little about the series finale of "24." And rest assured that Sepinwall and I will probably dedicate plenty of time to "Lost" in this week's Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
In lieu of a "Lost" tribute, I'm just gonna link again to "Uncharted," a little tribute/parody/script-y thing I wrote one Sunday afternoon after the third season finale. It's not a masterpiece, but I still think it's cute.
Click through for the embedded version of the script or, if that doesn't work, check out the "Uncharted" direct link
The first two-time 'Survivor' winner talks strategy, Russell and more
Over 20 seasons, more than 300 contestants have played "Survivor." By our mathematically imprecise calculations, only 19 of them have won the million dollar top prize.
And only one of those contestants has won twice.
It's no wonder that Sandra Diaz-Twine dubbed herself Queen of "Survivor" on Sunday (May 16) night after the "Heroes vs. Villains" jury picked her over Parvati Shallow as the show's latest Sole Survivor. Coupled with her "Pearl Islands" win, Sandra is an unlikely, but difficult-to-dispute candidate for the title of the game's greatest player.
HitFix caught up with Sandra to discuss why she expected Parvati to win, how losing her alliance helped her play better and which two players she'd want to play "Survivor" against in the future.
'Fans vs. Favorites' winner talks about her record-breaking 'Survivor' tenure
Although Parvati Shallow finished sixth in "Survivor: Cook Islands," many fans dismissed her as a one-trick flirting pony. Those fans were surprised when Parvati was invited back for the "Fans vs. Favorites" season and even more surprised when she orchestrated a series of blindsides and power moves leading to a well-deserved million dollar win.
This season's "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains" featured four former winners. Draw your own conclusions, but the two male ex-champs -- J.T. and Tom -- were categorized as Heroes, while the two female ex-champs -- Parvati and Sandra -- were categorized as Villains. And, draw your own conclusions again, the two male Heroes were eliminated relatively early, while Sandra and Parvati both faced the jury with a chance to become the first repeat winner in "Survivor" history.
Despite a season in which she dominated Immunity challenges, was the power-behind-the-throne to Russell and created one of the season's most memorable moments when she shattered the Heroes tribe with the skillful dissemination of two Immunity Idols, Parvati came up short in the voting in Sunday's (May 16) finale.
HitFix caught up with Parvati to finishing second, her record 114 days in "Survivor" and her relationship with "pet dragon" Russell...
Full interview after the break...