Inside TV+Movies with Daniel Fienberg
The busy 'Veronica Mars' veteran proves there's more than one way to play unsavory
The first thing you have to know about Ryan Hansen is that he isn't actually a douche. He just plays one on the Internet and on cable TV and on network TV and periodically in movies.
He may, in fact, be the industry's most prolific depicter of the species.
Best known as the lovably hatable, rarely redeemable Dick Casablancas on "Veronica Mars," Hansen is having a season to remember.
The 27-year-old actor began his spring with a turn in "Friday the 13th." Not to spoil anything, but characters like the sort Hansen specializes in rarely last long in slasher movies.
Hansen has a lower mortality rate on the small screen, where he actually seems to be multiplying. He can currently be seen on TheWB.com's Josh Schwartz-created "Rockville CA" playing Chambers, a musician and spoiled gadfly so unseemly his actual name has been replaced with the sobriquet The Douche. Simultaneously, he's co-staring as aspiring actor, relentless networker and occasional douche Kyle on Starz' "Party Down," one of the year's best new comedies.
Friday (May 8) is the season's third-to-last episode of "Party Down," while "Rockville CA" completes its first season next Tuesday. As if that isn't enough, Hansen appears on Monday's "Gossip Girl," which serves as a backdoor pilot for a possible spinoff series. We know very little about his character, but you get know points for guessing that the guy may possibly have douche-y tendencies.
With all of that on his plate, Hansen and I had plenty to talk about...
[Extended Q&A, covering "Rockville CA," "Party Down," "Gossip Girl" and various gradations of douchiness after the break...]
ABC's medical comedy shouldn't become the Brett Favre of TV
Sports legends don't all get to go out like John Elway or Jerome Bettis, walking off the field after a Super Bowl win, or like Ted Williams, homering in his final at-bat to cap off a season in which he hit .316. More go out like Steve Carlton, released by the Twins with an ERA over 16, or Willie Mays, hitting .211 for the Mets.
Or you could be like Brett Favre, retiring and threatening to retire so many times that the only way your long-time team knows how to handle you is to send you packing. And you go from the Packers to the Jets and you have some great moments, especially since we assume it's just a one-season hurrah anyway. And then you retire and everybody writes the latest in an ever-evolving series of career obituaries only for rumors to circulate that you're thinking of coming back again, this time on the Minnesota Vikings...
There's a limit to the number of times even the most passionate Favre defender can welcome him back and rave about his childlike enthusiasm for the game. Isn't there?
Is "Scrubs" becoming the Brett Favre of the TV world?
[Thoughts on Wednesday (May 6) night's "Scrubs" finale and the show's future after the break...]
One of TV's best comedies had its finale on Tuesday. Did anybody notice?
If you're a TV showrunner, in an ideal world, you see your season (or series) finale coming from far enough away that you can can plot out some fun stuff to make viewers early await your return. You plan a wedding or a pregnancy. You can leave your main character trapped in a car at the bottom of a freezing lake or trapped in a penthouse at the top of a burning building. You can bring in Jeffster to perform "Mr. Roboto."
Other times, alas, you see your episode order tightened abruptly and you're left with a finale that's just another episode and your network runs an ad campaign that comes dangerously close to saying, "Have you watched this critically adored series? Well, this could be pretty much your last chance."
It's sadly appropriately that "Better Off Ted," a razor-sharp comedy about retaining individuality in an uncaring corporate environment, ended up in the second boat, wrapping up its first season on Tuesday (May 5), not that most viewers probably noticed.
[Some quick thoughts on the finale and the show's future after the break...]
Will 'Terminator,' 'Fringe,' 'Privileged' or 'Dollhouse' be back? We offer our guesses...
It's a pretty exciting time to be a pop culture enthusiast. "Wolverine" marks the semi-official start of the Summer Movie Season and just because it stinks doesn't mean that it isn't a harbinger of high-budget popcorn flicks to come. It's May Sweeps and TV shows are pumping out finales and stunt episodes galore. It's also NBA and NHL playoff season, if you happen to agree with me that sports and pop culture are intermingled in this media culture.
But if you're a true television fan, you know that the most important event running through May is Upfront Season, decision time for network television hopefuls, including both the shows currently on the bubble, but also countless pilots that have been stimulating Los Angeles' economy for weeks now.
[More after the break...]
Nine years after the first 'X-Men' movie, how can Wolverine's metallic claws look so bad?
"X-Men Origins: Wolverine," which hits theaters on Friday (May 1), is the sort of movie that's likely to prompt heated debates. Unfortunately, they aren't the sort of debates 20th Century Fox is really hoping for.
When it comes to squandering the good faith left by Bryan Singer's first two "X-Men" movies, is "Wolverine" better or worse than Brett Ratner's mindless-and-souless "X-Men: The Last Stand"?
When it comes to unnecessary spinoffs of characters from comic book movies, is "Wolverine" better or worse than, say, "Elektra" or "Catwoman"?
When these are the questions you're scratching in your notebook, there's a tendency to willingly damn with faint praise.
[Review after the break...]
A wedding, several key deaths and a Jeffster! performance? All on a Very Special 'Chuck' Finale.
True to Chris Fedak's promise to me, Monday (April 27) night's "Chuck" season finale was, indeed, a game-changer. Whether viewers will be able to see how, exactly, "Chuck versus The Ring" changed the game is now entirely in the hands of NBC's programming wizards.
If "Chuck versus The Ring" is the last we see of "Chuck," at least the finale was exciting, hilarious and touching enough to bring tears to more than a few eyes (not that I have "more than a few eyes").
Was it on quite the same level of Awesome as "Chuck versus The Colonel"? Perhaps not. Still, "Chuck versus The Ring" was mostly a splendid example of how to do a season finale. You resolve some things. You pay off things introduced in earlier episodes. And you say, "Hey, this is what the show will be next season... GET PUMPED."
[My reactions to the finale and my thoughts on the show's future after the break, complete with spoilers...]
Series co-creator discusses renewal hopes, Chuck-n-Sarah and Morgan's Benihana dream
Even if "Chuck" weren't in the midst of of an ever-burgeoning cyber-fight for its renewal, there would be ample reasons to talk to series co-creator Chris Fedak this week.
"Chuck" is coming off a penultimate episode -- "Chuck Versus the Colonel" -- that may have been the finest hour yet for the NBC action-comedy. The show is just days away from a Monday (April 27) night finale that truly is, to use Fedak's word, "cataclysmic." The show is wrapping up a second season of wacky antics, shocking twists, memorable guest stars and, alas, less-than-stellar ratings.
That's why, as Fedak and I talked on Wednesday, various corners of the Internet have been mobilizing to attempt just about anything to let NBC know that a third season of "Chuck" would go a long way toward quieting the discontent caused by those looming, endless hours of Jay Leno.
Nerds? Subway viewing parties? Petitions? Riots in the streets?
In our lengthy interview, Fedak discusses last week's killer episode, the show's hopes for renewal and whether or not the finale will actually make people set their living rooms on fire.
[Interview after the break... As a warning, "Chuck Versus the Colonel" is discussed in detail. There are very few tangible spoilers about the finale, but our definitions of "spoiler" may differ...]
Various publications have pronounced 'Reaper' dead, but does it at least deserve consideration for another season?
With network upfront presentations only a month away, tis the season for publications to begin prognosticating on which shows will return next season, which shows are on the bubble and which shows are as good as dead.
That's how I know that The CW's "Reaper" is dead. "Reaper" is as dead as "Knight Rider" and "The Ex-List" and "Do Not Disturb." USA Today told me so and The Hollywood Reporter agrees and since they have "sources," I can only assume they're right.
The problem is that I look at the ratings every Wednesday morning and what I see doesn't look nearly so clear-cut. While I'm not going to try telling you that "Reaper" has earned its place on The CW's schedule for next year, it certainly has earned as much of a second look as "Privileged," which both esteemed publications agree is, at the very least On the Bubble.
My argument after the break...
Relive some of the finer moments of 'Chuck Versus the Colonel'
Monday (April 20) night's episode of "Chuck" was the penultimate hour of the season. Woe betide NBC if "Chuck Versus the Colonel" was also the series' penultimate episode, because it also happened to be one of the show's very finest installments.
The hour was so full of Moments of Awesome that I started jotting down quotes or throwaways that made me happy. And, wouldn't you know it, I ended up with exactly 50. I was so struck with the evenness of that number, and my ready availability of a blogging platform, that I thought I'd share those Moments of Awesome, rather than just doing a straight-forward recap.
With the season finale only a week away, expect to hear plenty more pleas for the future of "Chuck," both on this site and throughout the Internet.
For now, though, click through to relieve "Chuck Versus the Colonel" and it's 50 Moments of Awesome.... [Spoilers, of course...]
Watching Mitch Hurtwiz, Jason Bateman and Will Arnett sitting around vamping would be funnier than their new FOX animated show
There's an Orson Welles quote that I like to whip out in reviews maybe two or three times per year, both because I'm lazy and because it's always true.
"The enemy of art," Welles said, and I keep repeating, "is the absence of limitations."
Paraphrased, the easier something is to do, the less likely it is that you're going to bother to do it well.
This week's case-in-point, alas, is the new FOX animated comedy "Sit Down, Shut Up," which premieres on Sunday (April 19) at 8:30 p.m. ET.
[I explain and review after the break...]