[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.]
Guess what? AMC has given a pilot order to its currently untitled "Walking Dead" companion series.
What? You'd assumed the "Walking Dead" companion series had already just been given a series order? Well, not exactly.
Fast National ratings for Thursday, September 4, 2014.
The Thursday night premiere of NBC's Sunday Night Football -- program listings are silly -- pitting the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks against the perennially contending Green Bay Packers helped NBC dominate primetime in all measures.
While the Thursday kickoff was down a bit from last year's Ravens-Broncos opener, NBC is still calling this the third highest rated Thursday NFL Kickoff game ever in metered markets. And, of course, it goes without saying that these are preliminary ratings and will likely understate the numbers for the game itself.
Despite the football, the night only other piece of major original programming, CBS' "Big Brother," was actually up week-to-week, while ABC's "The Quest" was flat.
On to the numbers...
Interview: 'The Strain' co-star Richard Sammel on Nazis, vampires and how he's like Jean-Claude Van Damme
For the past two months, viewers have been disturbed and unsettled by Richard Sammel's performance as Eichorst, the Nazi concentration camp guard turned vampire apocalypse facilitator, on FX's "The Strain."
Playing both the human (but inhuman) Nazi version of Eichorst and his steely, arrogant contemporary incarnation, Sammel has given very different monstrous shadings to his role.
That's why it's a bit funny to Skype up with the smiley, voluble Sammel and have him immediately cackle in pleasure at being able to identify my mogwai avatar from "Gremlins," before he very politely asks me to switch on my webcam so that we can see each other as we chat.
Sammel is in a good mood because it's the first sunny day in Paris for a while. Or maybe he just genuinely enjoys talking about his part in the FX vampire drama, which was recently renewed for a second season.
"I think basically bad guys in TV or movies, mostly blockbuster movies, they often are very much reduced to their dramatic function, doing bad things so that the hero can shine. But a bad guy becomes interesting when you can follow his motivations," Sammel says.
When it comes to motivations, Sammel suggests that he has done nearly 100 movies and he's only worked in a Nazi context in 22 of them, a fact he accepts as "generational guilt."
Sammel, who speaks more languages than you do better than you do (or more languages than I do better than I do), talks in long, articulate bursts, giving answers that sometimes range over 1000 words. Fortunately, they're thoughtful and often funny words and in our 30 minute conversation, I found that he was anticipating my follow-up questions with some frequency.
Honestly, I could have talked about the "generational guilt" idea and how it relates to a show about vampires for the full interview, but I also wanted to talk with Sammel about Eichorst's complicated makeup routine and getting to do stunt work in recent episodes.
Sunday (September 7) night's episode of "The Strain" is a big one for Sammel. Check out the full Q&A below. And be sure to read it in your head using Sammel/Eichorst's German accent...
Liam Neeson may have told reporters last week that he would gladly reprise his role as Ra's Al Ghul for The CW's "Arrow," but to the surprise of literally nobody a different actor has been set for the part.
On Thursday (September 4) morning, "Arrow" star Stephen Amell coyly tweeted "Please welcome Matt Nable to Arrow. You know who he's playing." And in case you didn't know who he's playing, Amell included a picture of DC Comics' supervillain and League of Assassins frontman Ra's Al Ghul, most famously played by Neeson in "Batman Begins."
Fast National ratings for Wednesday, September 3, 2014.
FOX's "So You Think You Can Dance" got a solid bump for its latest season finale, but it was "Big Brother" leading CBS to a Wednesday win among young viewers and "America's Got Talent" pacing NBC's overall win.
"Big Brother" was down a hair from last week, while "America's Got Talent" was up a similarly tiny amount.
Meanwhile, Wednesday night saw bumps for NBC's "Taxi Brooklyn" and for The CW's "Penn & Teller: Fool Us."
It was, in fact, a series high for "Penn & Teller: Fool Us," which soared 30 percent week-to-week in total viewers.
On to the numbers...
Happy Wednesday, Boys & Girls! Time for another installment of the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
There's lots to discuss in this week's podcast, including Starz' "The Chair," the new season of "Boardwalk Empire" and all five new Amazon pilots.
This podcast was a technical nightmare -- Screw You, Skype -- and in the process of trying to just get the darned thing finished and run, you might notice we didn't get to something important, namely this week's two "Friday Night Lights" Season 2 episodes. Profuse apologies. We'll do this week's two episodes next week -- See, you've already done your homework! -- and finish the season the following week.
Fortunately, even without "Friday Night Lights" and even with the near-constant Skype glitches, it was a long podcast.
And for those of you who are curious, there may be some spoilers in the Amazon segment, but nothing huge or meaningful, I don't think.
"The Chair" (00:00:40 - 00:16:35)
"Boardwalk Empire" (00:16:38 - 00:25:45)
Amazon Pilots (00:25:50 - 01:05:00)
Listener Mail - FXX's "Simpsons" Marathon (01:05:00 - 01:21:45)
Listener Mail - Comedy Central (01:21:55 - 01:28:15)
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 or subscribe on IHeartRadio.]
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
Fast National ratings for Tuesday, September 2, 2014.
ABC's hour-long commercial for Disney's "Frozen" couldn't keep up with an "NCIS" repeat as CBS led Tuesday night overall and "America's Got Talent" carried NBC to victory among young viewers.
The "Frozen" special couldn't top CBS' recycled "NCIS" in anything other than the youngest female demos, nor could it compete with last week's special "Bachelor in Paradise" episode, though it did outdraw some of the summer's 8 p.m. airings of "Extreme Weight Loss."
Meanwhile, NBC's "America's Got Talent" was down week-to-week, but "Food Fighters" was basically flat.
On to the numbers...
Fast National ratings for Monday, September 1, 2014.
Labor Day Monday took a small bite out of primetime numbers, though "Under the Dome," "MasterChef" and "American Ninja Warrior" helped CBS, FOX and NBC claim shares of the primetime crown.
Since last week's numbers were slightly impacted by NBC's Emmy Awards telecast, there were only small week-to-week drops for most shows, with some adding viewers even if they dropped in the key demo. The biggest week-to-week dropper was CBS' "Under the Dome," but even that was only off by 0.2 in the key demo, while NBC's "Running Wild with Bear Grylls" took a big episode-to-episode drop.
On to the numbers...
Nearly six weeks ahead of its Season 5 premiere, "The Walking Dead" has its first official poster and a catchy tagline.
"Hunt or Be Hunted," reads the "Walking Dead" Season 5 key art released on Tuesday (September 2) morning. It features Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes looking stressed out and holding a gun, which is to say "business as usual."