<p>&nbsp;The judges on FOX's &quot;The X Factor&quot;</p>
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 The judges on FOX's "The X Factor"

Credit: FOX

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 94

Dan and Alan review 'Revenge,' 'Person of Interest,' the Emmys and more

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls.
 
It seems like only two or three days ago that we last podcasted, but Firewall & Iceberg is back with an installment that includes a post-mortem on Sunday night's Emmy telecast and the usual chatter about Sunday's "Breaking Bad," but then delves into a slew of reviews for new shows, focuses on Wednesday/Thursday offerings like "The X Factor," "Revenge," "Charlie's Angels," "Person of Interest," "Whitney" and "Prime Suspect."
 
We got a bit rushed toward the end, but such is life...
 
Here's the breakdown:
Emmy post-mortem -- 00:01:00 - 24:20
"The X Factor" -- 24:25 - 29:10
"Revenge" -- 29:10 - 36:20
"Charlie's Angels" -- 36:20 - 42:45
"Person of Interest" -- 42:50 - 51:20
"Whitney" -- 51:25 - 57:40
"Prime Suspect" -- 57:45 - 01:05:00
"Breaking Bad" -- 01:05:15 - 01:17:12

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...
<p>Nathan Fillion of &quot;Castle&quot;</p>
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Nathan Fillion of "Castle"

Credit: ABC

HitFix Interview: Nathan Fillion talks 'Castle' Season 4

Monday's premiere features a darker side of Richard Castle
"Castle" begins its fourth season on ABC on Monday (September 19) night, but the normally breezy crime dramedy picks up in a dark place in the aftermath of last spring's fairly shocking finale. 
 
Ruben Santiago-Hudson's Captain Montgomery? Dead.
 
Stana Katic's Beckett? Shot and seemingly barely clinging to life (not that anybody anywhere thinks Katic is done on the show).
 
This upheaval results in a brooding and introspective Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion), a side of the normally witty and charming write-turned-police-groupie that viewers normally haven't experienced.
 
The busy Fillion carved out a few minutes to chat with HitFix about the temporarily somber Castle, the big answer he's hoping to learn this season and even a little bit about that new movie that sounds a lot like a FOX series he did a few years ago...
 
Click through...
 
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<p>Emmys host Jane Lynch</p>
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Emmys host Jane Lynch

Credit: Matt Sayles/AP

The 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards Live-Blog

All the winners, losers and fun, presented with ample snark

Happy Emmy Night, Boys & Girls. 

For 364 days out of the year, TV cowers in the shadow of feature films even though we all know that TV is better. But on one night, Emmy night, the biggest stars in television get to get together and honor the year's best... movie stars who deigned to do TV.

I kid.

But let's all sit down and count the minutes till Kate Winslet moves herself one step closer to EGOT.

Full Emmys live-blog after the break...

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<p>Amber Heard of &quot;The Playboy Club&quot;</p>
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Amber Heard of "The Playboy Club"

Credit: NBC

HitFix Interview: Amber Heard talks 'The Playboy Club'

NBC's new Bunny isn't shy about discussing her new show's message
It probably shouldn't have been surprising that last month's Television Critics Association press tour panel for NBC's "The Playboy Club" became an ongoing debate as to whether the period drama was empowering or exploitative.
 
While all of the show's stars and producers were closely on-message about the idea that employment at the Playboy Club in the early '60s was a progressive choice, leading lady Amber Heard was particularly passionate on the subject. [Read more from that panel.]
 
At the NBC party that evening, I caught up with Heard ("Hidden Palms," "All The Boys Love Mandy Lane"), who plays Maureen, the newest Bunny at Chicago's Playboy Club, for a few follow-up questions regarding her take on the show's message.
 
[Click through for the brief interview...]
 
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<p>Zooey Deschanel of &quot;New Girl&quot;</p>
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Zooey Deschanel of "New Girl"

Credit: FOX

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 93

Dan and Alan talk Emmys and review new shows like 'New Girl' and 'Playboy Club'

The

Happy Friday, Boys & Girls.
 
Here's a little Firewall & Iceberg Podcast action for your end-of-week commute. Assuming you have a looooong commute. If not? Apologies, because this isn't a short podcast.
 
In this week's installment, we cover Sunday's Emmys (a bit like the blog posts we did over the past 10 days, but hopefully with SOME new material), review the new shows premiering next Monday and Tuesday -- that would be "2 Broke Girls," "The Playboy Club," "New Girl" and "Unforgettable -- and also chatter about Sunday's episode of "Breaking Bad."
 
That's a lot of chatter. [Oh and the glitchiness in Alan's audio around the 41:30-ish mark? It gets better. Apologies. Blame Skype.]
 
And guess what? Time permitting, will be back on Monday for MORE!
 
Here's today's breakdown:
Emmys -- 00:40 - 41:45
"2 Broke Girls" -- 42:15 - 48:30
"The Playboy Club" -- 48:35 - 56:25
"New Girl" -- 56:30 - 01:04:05
"Unforgettable" -- 01:04:10 - 01:10:25
"Breaking Bad" -- 01:10:30 - 01:23:40 

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 the podcast...
<p>&nbsp;The cast of &quot;The Secret Circle&quot;</p>
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 The cast of "The Secret Circle"

Credit: The CE

TV Review: The CW's 'The Secret Circle'

HitFix
B-
Readers
A-
Witchy teen drama makes a solid companion with 'The Vampire Diaries'
Robert Browning, who observed "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?" would not have lasted very long running a broadcast television network.
 
Sure, it's easy to point to the huge risks that pay off hugely and change the fate of TV networks. A singing competition in which a British guy nobody has heard of insults the talentless? Airing in the summer? Crazy. A drama about plane crash survivors on an island with weird things in the woods? In the same season as you're airing a comedic soap opera narrated by a dead woman? Crazy.
 
But in most seasons and on most networks, "dice-rolling" usually takes a backseat to "managed risk." And this is even the case in circumstances where you'd think wild gambling might be the order of the day.
 
The CW did a little gambling with "Ringer" and the results weren't overwhelmingly successful, unless you think that an audience of 2.7 million viewers against zero scripted competition is likely going to hold up in Week 2, especially given reviews that I'll generously call "mixed."
 
And I guess The CW is even gambling a tiny bit on "Hart of Dixie," banking on another Old WB-style dramedy after similar offerings like "Privileged" and "Life Unexpected" had only brief runs.
 
But nobody anywhere is going to classify the Thursday drama "The Secret Circle" as a gamble.
 
Thursday 9 p.m. is one of TV's most crowded time slots, but on The CW, it's also the time slot after the network's biggest hit, "The Vampire Diaries." After giving "The Vampire Diaries" variably compatible lead-outs in "Supernatural" and then "Nikita" the past two seasons, The CW's approach this fall has been to put fish in a barrel and load up a rifle.
 
"The Secret Circle" comes from "Vampire Diaries" author LJ Smith and it has been adapted by "Vampire Diaries" producer Kevin Williamson. And although the star-making promotional legwork didn't necessarily pay off for Britt Robertson on "Life Unexpected," The CW is hoping that it at least laid the groundwork for a full-scale breakout with "Secret Circle."
 
There are many ways to design a show and "The Secret Circle" feels like it was developed with compatibility as a higher priority than creativity. But there are worse things than being compatible with what is The CW's most popular and also best series. "The Secret Circle" may be over-calculated and under-inspired, but that doesn't necessarily mean "The Secret Circle" is bad. There's something to be said for setting reasonable goals and largely succeeding, especially when there are plenty of shows that aspire to a good deal less and still fail.
 
More on "The Secret Circle" after the break...
 
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<p>John &quot;Cochran&quot; Cochran of &quot;Survivor: South Pacific&quot;</p>
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John "Cochran" Cochran of "Survivor: South Pacific"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: South Pacific' Premiere - 'I Need Redemption'

Ozzy and Coach return to the game, getting different responses
["Survivor" recaps have typically been in the Monkeys as Critics blog, but they'll be migrating over to my blog starting this season. That way, my recaps and exit interviews and whatnot will at least be in the same place, which ought to be more convenient. Click through for the recap of Wednesday's (Sept. 14) "Survivor: South Pacific" premiere.]
 
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<p>&quot;Free Agents&quot;</p>
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"Free Agents"

Credit: NBC

TV Review: NBC's 'Free Agents'

HitFix
D
Readers
C
Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn and John Enbom and Todd Holland can do better
There's a moment in the pilot for NBC's "Free Agents" in which a reference is made to the "Celebrate Ricky Sargulesh" episode of "Party Down," one of the finest episodes in the first season of that short-lived Starz favorite. It's a reference that's only there for the miniscule overlapping audience that will realize that John Enbom wrote that "Party Down" episode and also is responsible for translating the British "Free Agents" property for NBC.
 
In several conversations, Sepinwall used the line as proof that something -- even if it was only one piece of tossed off dialogue --  in "Free Agents" was actually funny.
 
I wasn't amused. 
 
At all.
 
In fact, I was annoyed.
 
If the only plausibly funny thing in your entirely unfunny pilot is a reference to something you were previously involved with that actually was/is funny, that's just rubbing salt in the wound that comes from suffering through the current unfunny project in the first place. 
 
Or, to put it in a different way, if the only indication that your pilot comes from somebody with the talent to have been involved with "Party Down" is that it directly references "Party Down," you're probably in trouble.
 
Then again, being the least funny comedy on a network that also has "Whitney" is about a good a sign of trouble as I can possibly imagine.
 
And "Free Agents" is in trouble. The sympathetic part of me would like to believe that the roster of talent associated with "Free Agents," from Enbom on down, is so good that subsequent episodes are almost guaranteed to get back. The cynical part of me figures that if a roster of talent this good was capable of making a pilot this bad, all bets are off.
 
More after the break, but only a bit more. [I've got a "Survivor" premiere to recap in a bit and then I have to write a "Secret Circle" review. These are busy days and eventually there'll be a new fall show I won't review, but it's much too early for me to drop the ball for the first time.]
 
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<p>Will Arnett of &quot;Up All Night&quot;</p>
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Will Arnett of "Up All Night"

Credit: NBC

TV Review: NBC's 'Up All Night'

HitFix
B-
Readers
B-
Likable comedy could be really good if the workplace material gets up to speed
As hard as it is to believe, I'm not an inexhaustibly gouting fountain of hatred, much to the disappointment/relief of Mario Lopez. I spent a lot of time last night and early this morning ranting and raving about the new CW reality show "H8r." I felt like I got that out of my system, but at least in the immediate present, my bile supplies are a little low.
 
That means I can't tackle NBC's new comedy "Free Agents," which has a special premiere tonight and is oh-so-very-bad. I'll try to get to it this afternoon, perhaps in shortened form, if I've recharged.
 
Fortunately, NBC is giving a special premiere to a second comedy tonight after the finale of "America's Got Talent" -- because using that slot for "Outlaw" last season worked oh-so-very-well -- and it's a comedy I kinda like.
 
"Up All Night" is a loose, well-acted single camera comedy that has potential to grow into something far funnier, even if early indications on its capacity for evolution have been largely negative.
 
A full (far shorter than "H8r") review of "Up All Night" after the break...
 
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<p>Mario Lopez of &quot;H8r&quot;</p>

Mario Lopez of "H8r"

Credit: The CW

TV Review: The CW's 'H8r'

HitFix
F
Readers
D+
Mario Lopez plays Anti-Robin Hood taking dignity from the weak and restoring it to the strong
Dramatically satisfying humiliation rolls only one way and that's uphill.
 
CBS can get a hit reality show out of sending CEOs into the workforce and letting blue collar workers laugh at their inability to pick up trash or handle an assembly line.
 
CBS could not get a hit reality show out of sending a high school dropout, hand-to-mouth single father of four, into a corporate boardroom unprepared, let the guy make a couple dumb suggestions and then watch the suits mock his ignorance before sending him home empty-handed. [Ignore, for a second, how frequently that's exactly what happens on "The Apprentice."]
 
There are exceptions in the case of a show like "Same Name," in which an Ordinary Joe had to live the life of a Famous Joe and invariably learned that being famous isn't nearly as easy as he might have imagined. But in the case of "Same Name," not only was there an equal level of humiliation, with the Famous Joe recognizing that he probably wouldn't do so well living the life of an Ordinary Joe, but beyond simple reciprocity, "Same Name" episodes ended with the Famous Joe doing just a little bit to improve the life of the Ordinary Joe, through a well-considered gift. The need for the episode-ending present was a tacit acknowledgement that even if you conclude with a less powerful person recognizing the difficulties of a more powerful person's life and *even* vice versa, equality isn't sufficient for dramatic satisfaction. The viewer realizes that whatever lesson the powerful person learned isn't sufficient payback, because they're still returning to their position of power (usually with a welcome dose of humility), while the normal person learns a lesson and returns to their second mortgage, their failing business and their more relatable struggles. On an intellectual level, viewers know that nothing the famous person could possibly do would even that playing field (and it's all a bit condescending), but viewers appreciate the token, at least on an emotional level.
 
When the weak mock the powerful it's counter-hegemonic, it's iconoclastic, it's revolutionary.
 
When the powerful mock the weak, it's bullying.
 
Even if we weren't in a period of economic unrest, it would require a profound disconnect to think it a good idea to do a humiliation-based reality series in which the humiliation rolls downhill, a show in which the powerful make the essentially disenfranchised look like fools and then lecture them on their failings.
 
Enter Mario Lopez and The CW.
 
The "Saved by the Bell" star and the "TBL: The Beautiful Life" network have joined forces on "H8r," an astoundingly stupid and offensive reality series in which Mario Lopez's D-list friends confront people who dislike them and make it clear that it's unacceptable for anybody to have an opinion or express it on the Internet, or at least a negative opinion. 
 
So when The CW encourages you to tweet or Facebook during its programming, I have some advice: BE CAREFUL. Feel free to praise Blake Lively's fashion sense or celebrate the "Supernatural" stars and their cheekbones. But don't think that it's OK to suggest that a budding thespian on "One Tree Hill" is an inadequate actor or that one of the "90210" kids is much too old to be playing a high school student. Because if you do... Mario Lopez is coming for you, and when it comes to people who aren't tolerant of his friends, Mario Lopez is not a very tolerant guy. And Mario Lopez doesn't care how little money you make or what you do or even if anybody out there on the Internet cares about whatever mean thing you might say, because he's got a point to make, one that he believes in strongly: Even the lowest-level celebrity -- ESPECIALLY the lowest-level celebrity -- should be exempt from criticism. But feel free to love them and write about that.
 
It's pretty insecure stuff, but I guess if Mario Lopez wants to be the Anti-Robin Hood, stealing dignity from the less fortunate and restoring it to Snooki from "Jersey Shore" and The CW wants to enable him, that's their mutual prerogative. 
 
More after the break. I'm hoping that if I type for long enough, Mario Lopez will come bursting through my door, because I'm sure that if there's anything less acceptable than h8ing on Kim Kardashian, it's h8ing on "H8r."
 
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