As much as I've loved ESPN's "30 For 30" series, they haven't necessarily made it easy for viewers to keep up. The series premiered in the fall and ran a pile of installments in a rush and then vanished for several months. It returned with "Winning Time," one of the franchise's best installments to date and then took another couple weeks off.
Here's what Zachary Levi, Chris Fedak and Josh Schwartz said about the pivotal episode
If you haven't watched Monday (April 5) night's "Chuck," titled "Chuck vs. the Other Guy," you may want to stop reading now.
In theory you could just read my recap, but that wouldn't be nearly as entertaining as watching the episode. After the episode, you can certainly come back and read my recap before reading this story. I'm just sayin' that if you're a "Chuck" fan, you ought to be warned that spoilers are coming.
After screening Monday's episode, the 'Chuck' team basked in Con love
On Sunday (April 4) afternoon, "Chuck" packed a WonderCon ballroom for a spirited panel that kicked off with an airing of Monday night's episode, a fairly major episode that was meant as the season finale when it looked like "Chuck" was only airing 13 episodes this season. It was subsequently extended to 19, but that doesn't mean that "Chuck vs. the Other Guy" isn't still formative.
Due to spoiler discussion and then a six-hour drive back down to Los Angeles in a downpour and limited computer batteries, my recap of the panel got delayed.
Note that I've done this in a live-blog format, but I've trimmed the segment relating to Monday's episode and I'll do a separate story on that later tonight. So the live-blog contains zero spoilers about Monday's episode, but it does contain a few teases an spoilers about upcoming guest stars and a couple very minor hints at things that will happen in the last six episodes...
Jackie Earle Haley, Thomas Dekker, Rooney Mara and the 'Nightmare on Elm Street' team hit WonderCon
So that's what the new Freddy Krueger looks like.
Fans at Saturday (April 3) afternoon's WonderCon panel for "A Nightmare on Elm Street" got the most extended look to date at Jackie Earle Haley's version of the beloved nocturnal Boogieman.
The panel wasn't accompanied by a wealth of new clips and "Nightmare" director Samuel Bayer was unexpectedly detained, but at least the audience got to watch one full-length scene and witness one of Freddy's attempted kills.
[What did we see and how did it look? And what did stars like Haley and Thomas Dekker have to say about their remake? Click through... But I'll warn you that there's at least one spoiler...]
Christopher Nolan makes a surprise appearance for his 'Dark Knight' follow-up
The early trailers have offered very narrative few hints, but a big crowd at San Francisco's WonderCon now knows exactly what Christopher Nolan's "Inception" is about.
Oh, I kid. The extended clip package introduced by Nolan himself on Saturday (April 3) afternoon certainly provided more intellectual meat for viewers to gnaw on, but if you asked me to explain the plot of "Inception" to you, I wouldn't even begin to know where to start.
[But I'll try to give a flavor for the clips after the break, plus a little background courtesy of Nolan's Q&A after the clips. Not that during the Q&A, Nolan didn't get a single question about possible franchise pics involving "Batman" or "Superman."]
Boston Rob discusses Coach, Russell, his fainting spells and why he loves 'Survivor'
For a large swath of "Survivor"-dom, Friday (April 2) morning brought little joy. Facing the rest of the season of "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains" without Rob "Boston Rob" Mariano, more than a few fans are somewhere between inconsolable (possibly an extreme reaction) and severely disappointed (totally appropriate).
Still hindered by Tyson's inexplicable flip-flop elimination last week, Boston Rob was forced to turn to Jerri -- a vanquished nemesis from "Survivor: All-Stars" -- and Coach -- a slightly unstable player with delusions of nobility -- to keep his alliance together. Instead, Jerri jumped ship to Russell's alliance, while Coach cast a totally symbolic vote against Courtney, sealing Boston Rob's fate.
The game will certainly be the poorer without Boston Rob's thick Massachusetts accent, his genius with puzzles and a scheming brilliance that didn't get him the win on "Survivor: All-Stars" but laid the foundation for his girlfriend-now-wife Amber to take home the million.
HitFix caught up with Boston Rob on Friday to talk about his disappointingly truncated run and the challenges of playing pretend with Coach.
Full interview after the break...
As always, things with the 'Clerks' director got a little lewd, so proceed with caution
Having covered five or six patented Kevin Smith Q&As between WonderCon and ComicCon, there are things I know about the "Clerks" director that I don't know about my closest friends or intimates.
Spend enough time listening to Kevin Smith interact with his fans -- in these Q&As, on Twitter, through his Smodcasts -- and you're going to come away with possibly unwanted knowledge about his bathroom habits, his sex life and more. It's also hard not to come away from one of these Q&A's with a big smile, because even if you've heard the stories before -- and Smith isn't immune to recycling his material -- this is probably the man's natural habitat, his ideal milieu.
As he put it on Friday (April 2) evening, "You can't come to a Kevin Smith show and be like, 'Too much information.' It's like going to Disneyland and saying 'Too many pederasts.' It comes with the territory."
That was a tame quote. As Smith pointed out to the WonderCon faithful, the paper name placards waiting for talent on the dais typically include a warning on the back telling them that some members of the audience will be under 18 and to keep the commentary room-appropriate. Smith turned his name placard around and showed the crowd that the warning had been covered with a white sticker before he even arrived. Con organizers know that attempting to muzzle or mute or blunt Kevin Smith is as futile as attempting to make edible Kosher-for-Passover pasta.
[In that spirit, I've got some highlights from Kevin Smith's WonderCon Q&A after the break, but things get mighty blue and you probably don't want to click through if you're a sensitive sort...]
Warner Brothers TV filled a big WonderCon room on Friday
Due to low cloud cover in San Francisco -- or some similar weather excuse relating to the City by the Bay -- my arrival for the start of WonderCon was delayed by several hours. That left me a bit concerned about catching the start of Warner Brothers TV's dedicated afternoon of screenings.
Of course, even sitting in LAX or riding a Virgin America flight, the TV work never really stops. I transcribed this week's "Survivor" exit interview (posting later). I watched the next "30 For 30" sports documentary from ESPN and wrote a review. And I eavesdropped on Virgin America air hostesses making fun of The CW's "Fly Girls."
My concern at the late landing in San Francisco was missing a screening of next week's "V." However, although that new episode was on original Wonder-Con schedules, it was quietly pulled earlier this week, meaning that I rushed to the Moscone Center and ended up watching last week's episode for a second time. [It wasn't improved. This slightly revamped "V" no longer has the subtext to reward repeat viewings.]
Fortunately, WBTV had a new "Fringe," a rough cut of the "Human Target" finale and the first screening of "Ghostfacers" to present to an increasingly full (Kevin Smith was up next) WonderCon Hall.
There will be more coverage from WonderCon tonight, tomorrow and Sunday, but I thought I'd kick things off with a few words on the new episodes screened for the Con faithful.
Click through... I'm gonna keep the spoilers to an absolute minimum... Promise...
The latest film in ESPN's sports doc series isn't premiering on ESPN and it's no 'Winning Time'
The next "30 For 30 Film" isn't premiering in primetime and it isn't even premiering on ESPN. It's airing at on Saturday (April 3) afternoon on ABC as an appetizer before Final Four coverage begins on CBS. It's been programmed to coincide with the NCAA Tournament, which makes sense since its major focus is on the unlike tournament run of the Loyola Marymount Lions back in 1990. But even here, its timing is off, since ESPN already paid tribute to that team on the 20th anniversary of Hank Gathers' death, using much of the same footage and, I believe, some of the same interviews. So ESPN already scooped its own documentary last month.
Confusing timing aside, "Guru of Go" isn't one of the best of the "30 For 30" films. Directed by Emmy and Oscar winner Bill Couturie, it's a straight-forward and by-the-numbers documentary, suffering from the same topical and stylistic familiarity that made the USFL and Jimmy the Greek films also feel not-quite-worthy of the more specific, more personal, more cinematic entries in the "30 For 30" franchise.
But even the bad "30 For 30" films have their moments and "Guru of Go" is emotional and heartbreaking , if not necessarily illuminating.
[Some more thoughts on "Guru of Go" after the break...]
Jeremy Northam didn't pick a very engaging American network TV debut
Over the years, super-producer Jerry Bruckheimer has brought CBS a stacked lineup of hits (all aging) and delivered dull, slightly off-brand shows to other networks, duds like "The Forgotten" and "Justice" and "E-Ring" and "Dark Blue."
Bruckheimer's latest, "Miami Medical," feels like the kind of show Bruckheimer might have stuck ABC or NBC with. Coupled with Bruckheimer's last CBS disappointment, the leaden "Eleventh Hour," it's hard not to come away feeling like the pendulum might have shifted away from what the super-producer has always done so well. If there were lessons to be learned from the evolution of "NCIS" from steady hit to breakout smash, they seem to have been lost here.
If you took "E.R." and blended it with "Burn Notice," but then stripped out the tension and artistic innovation from the former and the wit and charm from the latter, the result would still be more distinctive and engaging than CBS' "Miami Medical."
Calling "Miami Medical" bad would probably be an overstatement. Its only real crime is being gratingly dull and familiar.
[My relatively brief review after the break... There isn't a lot to say about this one.]
Daniel Fienberg and Alan Sepinwall discuss 'Treme,' 'Fringe,' 'Bones,' 'Lost' and more...
It's time for another Wednesday installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
With our next two weeks a little bit up in the air due to Alan Sepinwall's schedule, we skipped ahead a little bit and talked about HBO's excellent "Treme."
We also covered Thursday's returns of "Bones" and "Fringe," Friday's premiere of "Miami Medical" and, as always, "American Idol" and "Lost" as our bookends.
The "V" Countdown Bug - 00:00 - 04:00
"American Idol" - 04:00 - 10:00
"Treme" and David Mills - 10:00 - 20:10
"Miami Medical" - 20:15 - 25:00
"Fringe" and "Bones" - 25:40 - 33:00
Reader Mail - 33:00 - 36:45
"Lost" - 36:50 - 43:22
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...