<p>Morena Baccarin of 'V'</p>

Morena Baccarin of 'V'

Credit: ABC

An intro to HitFix's 2010 TV Shows on the Bubble

Upfronts season is only weeks away. Which shows are still in limbo and why?
The TV networks have taken a lot of the fun out of the annual TV Show BubbleWatch this year with some surprising and surprisingly early renewals.
 
NBC renewed "Parks and Recreation," "Community" and "Parenthood."
 
FOX renewed "Fringe."
 
The CW renewed nearly everything in its lineup, including potential bubble bait like "Smallville" and "90210."
 
ABC renewed "Cougar Town" while it was still in the "Fall Comedy Hit" stage and before it slipped into the "Lead-In Inflated Struggler" stage.
 
That doesn't mean, though, that there aren't mysteries aplenty, fortunately.
 
Fortunately (or unfortunately), the jury is still out on "Chuck," which logic (or passionate fandom) dictates ought to be a part of NBC's lineup at least until the network figures out a way to stop filling weekly time slots with stuff like "SVU" repeats and "Mercy."
 
Fortunately (or unfortunately), ABC still has to decide on the fates of "V" and "FlashForward," which seemed like they were going to be no-brainers after their premieres and have gradually become potential high profile genre albatrosses around the network's neck.
 
Despite being TV's most watched network, CBS has an amazing number of marginal offerings, including a trio of middling comedies and some long-running hit dramas finally showing their age.
 
And what's up with The CW not giving "Life Unexpected" a second season already?
 
I was able to find 24 shows in variable stages of limbo as network upfronts season approaches next month. I'm not going to claim nebulous "unnamed sources" whispering to me about "buzz" and "scuttlebutt." The gallery is compiled based on ratings information, network circumstances and a mixture of common sense and stubborn opinion. 
 
I put the gallery in alphabetical order by network and then by show title, because that's what makes sense to me, but if you want to skip to individual networks:
 
 
I don't think I included any shows that have already been renewed, but if I did, just let me know and I'll fix the gallery.
 
Also, if I left out any bubble shows that you're genuinely curious about, let me know and I'll add a page.
 
Otherwise...
 

Check Out HitFix's TV Shows on the Bubble 2010 Gallery 

<p>J.T. of 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'</p>

J.T. of 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'

Credit: CBS

HitFix Interview: James 'J.T.' Thomas talks 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'

J.T. explains his big risk and why he couldn't find a new Stephen this season
If you're truly going to make your mark on "Survivor," it helps either to do something memorably awesome or to do something memorably awful. 
 
Alabama native James Thomas has played the game twice and he's made his mark in both ways. 
 
In "Survivor: Tocantins," J.T. aligned with Stephen Fishbach, seemingly his polar opposite, on Day One and the two men carried each other for the duration of the season. It was maybe the strongest and most enduring alliance in "Survivor" history and left J.T. a million dollars richer after he won a unanimous jury vote. 
 
On "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains," though, J.T. orchestrated one of the game's epic blunders, misreading the power dynamic on the Villains tribe and giving away an Immunity Idol to the nefarious Russell. That gaffe set into motion Thursday (April 22) night's classic Tribal Council, in which Parvati was able to give Idols to two of her teammates, sparing Jerri and sending J.T. packing, a victim of his own bold move. 
 
HitFix caught up with J.T. on Friday morning to discuss giving away the Idol, misreading Russell, the untrustworthy women and his failure to find a Stephen this time around.
 
Click through for the full interview...
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<p>Al Pacino plays Jack Kevorkian in 'You Don't Know Jack'</p>

Al Pacino plays Jack Kevorkian in 'You Don't Know Jack'

Credit: HBO

TV Review: HBO's 'You Don't Know Jack'

HBO's Jack Kevorkian telepic is dominated by Al Pacino's larger-than-life performance

You think you know Jack Kevorkian. 

Dr. Death. The dark, deeply set eyes and distinct facial features and physical posture.
 
You maybe know, in broad strokes, about his court cases, about his time in prison. You probably have a sense of his stubbornness, of his defiance. 
 
If you have any advanced knowledge, perhaps you've seen his paintings, his creepy, evocative art.
 
Yup. You think you know Jack Kevorkian, or at least as much as you care to know about him.
 
Along comes HBO's new Jack Kevorkian telefilm with a title, "You Don't Know Jack," which makes a bold statement in implying a fresh perspective on the Father of Physician Assisted Suicide. 
 
Does "You Don't Know Jack" deliver on its promise? The answer is a qualified, "Yes." 
 
Anchored by a loony-yet-committed performance by Al Pacino, "You Don't Know Jack" delivers a nuanced and pragmatic portrait of Kevorkian, simultaneously deifying his ideology, while acknowledging his all-too-human foibles. 
 
If "You Don't Know Jack" succeeds as a character study, though, it often stumbles as a piece of drama, suffering from bland supporting characters and poor narrative focus.
 
Full review of "You Don't Know Jack" after the break...
 
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<p>Krysten Ritter and Ivan Sergei of 'Gravity'</p>

Krysten Ritter and Ivan Sergei of 'Gravity'

Credit: Starz

TV Review: Starz' 'Gravity'

It's possible to do a comedy about suicidal losers, but this isn't how it's done
Because Starz is premiering two shows on Friday (April 23) night, there's an initial instinct to review the second season of "Party Down" and the debut of "Gravity" in the same post.
 
I briefly considered that space-saving plan and decided to put the time into separate reviews for a pair of reasons:
 
Firstly, he qualitative discrepancy between the two shows is too great. "Party Down" is one of cable's comedy treasures, a little ratings-starved show that deserves as much exposure as I can possibly provide for it, since its future hinges largely on how fast it comes out of the gate this spring. "Gravity" is just about as unpleasant an unlikable a show as you're likely to see this year and if dedicating a little extra space to tearing it to shreds gives it extra publicity as well, hopefully I'll also be able to steer away a few people who are on the fence.
 
Secondly, it's bad enough that Starz is pairing the two shows in the same one-hour block, no critic should do the same. I get that Starz doesn't exactly have myriad choices when it comes to combining original programming, but "Party Down" and "Gravity" are are almost tonal opposites. One's Los Angeles, one's New York. One's funny, the other's a heap of affectations and poorly arced neurosis. One's likable and human, featuring an ensemble of characters with different personalities and voices, while the other is the series creator and a half-dozen characters who all sound exactly like the series creator. "Party Down" isn't a hit, but the people who watch it, love it. "Gravity" only looks more leaden in comparison.
 
So I already posted my "Party Down" review. Even without Jane Lynch, it's still one of TV's funniest shows.
 
And as for "Gravity"? Full review after the break...
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<p>Adam Scott, Ryan Hansen and Lizzy Caplan of 'Party Down'</p>

Adam Scott, Ryan Hansen and Lizzy Caplan of 'Party Down'

Credit: Starz

TV Review: Season Two of 'Party Down' on Starz

Adam Scott, Ken Marino, Lizzy Caplan and company return for more cater-waiter hilarity
A strange thing is happening with "Party Down."
 
The second season of the beloved Starz comedy hasn't even premiered, but fans have already moved past the 10 unaired episodes and begun to lament the show's future. That's not a totally inappropriate reaction. "Party Down" has already lost Jane Lynch to "Glee" and while Adam Scott is still in the second season, he's departed for "Parks and Recreation." Depending on how the vagaries of the pilot process go, Lizzy Caplan and Ryan Hansen could possibly be gone as well.
 
I'm not worried. Well, I'm plenty worried. "Party Down" wasn't a hit in its first season and it's the product of a previous creative administration at Starz, so renewal was never going to be a sure thing. I happen to think, though, that as fantastic as the "Party Down" cast is, the show's renewable star is the simple premise created and orchestrated by John Enbom, Rob Thomas, Dan Etheridge and the rest of the creative team. As long as Los Angeles has dreamers stuck in dead-end jobs and as long as Los Angeles has filthy rich nutjobs willing to pay them for services rendered, "Party Down" will always have a creative kernel in place.
 
And putting aside the future of "Party Down" for just a second (or, perhaps, for a full review), it's a relief to say that the present of "Party Down" is on solid footing. Part of the upper echelon of TV comedies last spring, "Party Down" returns to Starz on Friday (April 23) with its quality mostly intact, no easy feat when you lose a co-star as talented as Lynch.
 
Full review of the start of the "Party Down" second season after the break...
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<p>Adam Scott of 'Party Down'</p>

Adam Scott of 'Party Down'

Credit: Starz

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 13

Daniel Fienberg and Alan Sepinwall discuss 'Lost,' 'American Idol,' 'Party Down' and 'Gravity'

The

 

 Happy Wednesday and time for another Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.

 
In this week's installment, I suffer 34 minutes of brain-freeze and apparently decided to let Alan Sepinwall carry me through a conversation that includes Starz' "Party Down" and "Gravity," HBO's "You Don't Know Jack" and last night's "Lost." Oh well. It happens sometimes.
 
Here's the minute-by-minute breakdown:
 
"Idol"/"Glee" -- 01:00 - 6:30
"Party Down"/"Gravity" - 6:35 - 15:20
"You Don't Know Jack" - 15:25 - 21:00
Reader Mail --  21:10 - 24:40
A minute on "Chuck" -- 24:45 - 26:00
"Lost" -- 26:00 - 34:00 
 
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...
<p>&nbsp;Courtney of 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'</p>

 Courtney of 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'

Credit: CBS

HitFix Interview: Courtney Yates talks 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'

The sarcastic Villain talks alliances, strong women and not taking herself too seriously
Courtney Yates does not suffer fools gladly. 
 
Fans of "Survivor: China," where she finished as runner-up, know that. Fans of "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains," where she was eliminated on Thursday (April 15) night, know that.
 
And this interviewer knows that, having been the fool at several points during my conversation with Courtney on the morning following her "Survivor" eviction. With Courtney, what you see was always what you got. She made no apologies for being snarky, judgmental and sometimes physically weak, because those things did nothing to keep her from outplaying, outwitting and outlasting 20+ castaways over her two seasons. 
 
And when I asked questions that Courtney thought didn't make any sense, she didn't shy away from letting me know. 
 
The result is a prickly, candid and funny interview in which I sometimes apparently sounded like a fool.
 
Click through...
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<p>&nbsp;Matt Smith of &quot;Doctor Who&quot;</p>

 Matt Smith of "Doctor Who"

Credit: BBC America

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 12

Daniel Fienberg and Alan Sepinwall discuss 'Lost,' 'American Idol,' Doctor Who and Conan

The

 
It looked as if a Wednesday had passed without a Firewall & Iceberg Podcast. But looks can often be deceiving.
 
Just when things were at their most bleak, Alan Sepinwall came through with a window of time that he used to podcast, rather than sleeping. For that, we all salute Alan.
 
In this week's podcast, we covered a lot of topics, including the usuals -- "Lost" and "American Idol" -- and a few new things including Matt Smith's Doctor Who, Conan O'Brien's big move to TBS and the return of "Glee."
 
Here's the full breakdown:
 
00:00-09:30 -- "Lost"
9:35-17:30 -- Conan O'Brien to TBS
17:35-24:15 -- "Doctor Who"
24:20-29:15 -- "Glee"
29:20-37:30 -- "American Idol"
37:40-38:25 -- The Census
 
 
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...
<p>'Glee'</p>

'Glee'

Credit: FOX

Can there ever be too much 'Glee'?

FOX has made sure we're oozing 'Glee' from our pores. Is that a good thing?
"Glee" returns to FOX on Tuesday (April 13) night.
 
I'm guessing that if you're a "Glee" fan, you already knew that. 
 
It's information that's been hard to miss. FOX has found a way to insert a "Glee" ad into nearly every commercial break for a month. The "American Idol" judges have just coincidentally referenced "Glee" on four or five occasions this season. FOX has made sure that reporters have had an upcoming tour and an ongoing MySpace talent search to document. The cast of "Glee" sang at the White House and they performed for Oprah. They're currently on the cover of half of the magazines on my local newsstand, though only FOX's marketing team knows what strings they had to pull to score that Cat Fancy cover and HBO has to be ticked off that World War II Enthusiast went with Lea Michelle over any of the guys from "The Pacific."
 
If your Twitter feed is like my Twitter feed, the only things being Tweeted about more frequently than "Glee" over the past couple weeks are sexual desire for an iPad and frustration at Justin Bieber's eternal trending status. 
 
So "Glee" returns to FOX on Tuesday night and I've seen the first three episodes back, but I'm not sure that I can do a review. Or at least I fear I probably ought to recuse myself from a formal review. The problem is a forest-for-the-trees kinda thing where I'm having difficulties seeing the "Glee" for the Gleeks. Or not the Gleeks. I don't want to blame the Gleeks.
 
There's just too much "Glee" out there. And I did nothing to ameliorate the circumstances by watching "Hell-O," "The Power of Madonna" and "Home" in a three-hour block on Saturday afternoon.
 
[Additional thoughts, but not exactly a review, surrounding the return of "Glee" after the break, only with minor spoilers...]
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<p>Rob Brown of HBO's 'Treme'</p>

Rob Brown of HBO's 'Treme'

Credit: HBO

TV Review: HBO's 'Treme'

David Simon and Eric Overmyer capture the spirit of post-Katrina New Orleans
Although some of its characters earned temporary happy endings at the completion of five seasons, HBO's "The Wire" was the Great American Urban Tragedy of the 21st Century. It was a chronicle of rickety institutions, thwarted altruistic intentions and rewarded corruption. Using Baltimore as a backdrop, "The Wire" looked at the police, the media, the school system and saw hope that things might be getting better, but faced reality that they were getting worse.
 
[It was also thrilling, hilarious, full of heart and home to dozens of the richest characters ever crafted in fiction. I never want to make "The Wire" sound too depressing or too much like homework. It's addictive and enjoyable as well.]
 
HBO's "Treme," from "The Wire" creator David Simon and Eric Overmyer, is a different beast, although comparing the two shows is practically a contractual imperative for TV critics, one that I'm living up to without hesitation.
 
In "Treme," Simon and Overmyer depict a city heading in a different direction. Or maybe Simon and Overmyer have just found a city where things couldn't possibly get any worse. Picking up in New Orleans three months after Hurricane Katrina, "Treme" has its nadir in the rearview, at least insofar as the nadir can be measured sheerly by water level. The Big Easy depicted in "Treme" is still veritable ghost town, where Bourbon Street has been rebuilt, but people are still missing, businesses and schools are still closed, bodies are still turning up and the military is still prowling the streets like an occupying force. New Orleans is coming back, but nothing is happening quickly or easily. 
 
If you compare "Treme" to "The Wire" in terms of quality, you won't accomplish anything. One is perhaps the greatest show in the history of the medium and the other is a new show that I've seen three episodes of. 
 
Taken for those three episodes, though, "Treme" definitely has the potential to evolve as something special. It's humane, layered and it takes less than an hour for it to display a firmer grasp of place and local color than anything on television. It's not gripping like "The Wire" was, but it's also not coming out of an established genre tradition the way "The Wire" was. "Treme" is making its own path and I look forward to seeing how the first season progresses.
 
[More on "Treme" and more unavoidable comparisons to "The Wire," after the break...]
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