<p>Alison Brie of 'Community'</p>

Alison Brie of 'Community'

Credit: NBC

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 15

Daniel Fienberg and Alan Sepinwall discuss 'Lost,' 'Community' and 'The Shield'

The

 
It's Wednesday and it's time for the first Firewall & Iceberg Podcast with me and Alan Sepinwall under the same professional roof.
 
Unfortunately, we aren't under the same literal roof, so there were a couple Skype-based problems this week, but nothing catastrophic.
 
In addition to the usual time on "American Idol" (less and less each week) and "Lost," we also spent a lot of time on "Community," the return of "Friday Night Lights" and, because I just finished my marathon series viewing, "The Shield."
 

Here's the breakdown...
 
"American Idol" -- 02:15 - 05:20
"Community" -- 05:20 - 13:20
Reader Mail/Return of "Friday Night Lights" -- 13:50 - 25:00
"Lost" -- 25:10 - 35:15
"The Shield" -- 35:45 - 47:22
 
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...
<p>Huey of 'The Boondocks'</p>

Huey of 'The Boondocks'

Credit: Adult Swim

TV Review: 'The Boondocks' returns to Adult Swim

Aaron McGruder has his bark, but a lack of timeliness takes away some of his bite
On an intellectual level, I understand that Aaron McGruder doesn't owe me anything.
 
On an emotional level, though, it's hard not to feel like McGruder is the deadbeat dad of political cartooning. Since McGruder abruptly concluded the funny pages run of "The Boondocks" in 2006, scarcely a week has gone by when something didn't hit the news that caused me to say, "Damn. 'Boodocks' would have had some righteous fun with this s***." 
 
Tiger Woods.
 
Teabaggers.
 
Michael Steele.
 
Arizona immigration reform. 
 
Dez Bryant being asked if his mom was a prostitute. 
 
And then I flip to the comics and I've only got "Marmaduke" staring back and me and lemme assure you that Marmaduke doesn't have anything to say about anything. 
 
I keep hoping that one day "The Boondocks" will return to the comics and it'll be just like McGruder really *did* only step out to buy a pack of cigarettes, rather than abandoning us entirely. 
 
But, like I said, that's an emotional reaction and not an intellectual one.
 
I don't have the same visceral need for the TV animated incarnation of "The Boondocks," but it too has been long absent. After more than two years away, the "Boondocks" series returns to Cartoon Network on Sunday (May 2) night with an episode that seems to attack my neediness head-on.
 
[More on "The Boondocks" after the break...]
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<p>Amanda Kimmel of 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'</p>

Amanda Kimmel of 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'

Credit: CBS

HitFix Interview: Amanda Kimmel talks 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains'

'Survivor' favorite discusses her catfight, her jury time and why she won't do the show again
I've never made any secrets that when it comes to "Survivor," I play favorites. And I've never made any secret that on my list of "Survivor" favorites, Amanda Kimmel would rank near the top.
 
Twice -- in China and Micronesia -- Amanda made it to the Top Three and addressed the jury with victory and a million bucks in her grasp and twice she let it slip away. Often underestimated as just another pretty face (and the "Survivor" cameramen have obviously always agreed), no less a notorious schemer than Russell Hantz paid her the ultimate compliment by calling her "Boston Rob in a girl's body."
 
Of course, Russell called her that seconds before voting Amanda out on Thursday's (April 29) "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains."
 
This was a tough season for Amanda. She was targeted from the very beginning by an alliance within her own tribe. She lost her closest ally when James was injured and had to be voted out. And while she was the only castaway to tell the camera how stupid it was for JT to hand an Idol to Russell, she wasn't able to prevent the impending disaster.
 
On the bright side, she was able to go out with one of the show's most memorable catfights, scratching and clawing to try to keep an Immunity Idol clue out of Danielle's villainous hands. In Robert Louis Stevenson's old bedroom! 
 
HitFix caught up with Amanda on Friday to talk about that catfight, whether she actually tried to prevent her elimination and why she's never planning to play "Survivor" again.
 
Click through...
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<p>The Cousins of 'Breaking Bad'</p>

The Cousins of 'Breaking Bad'

Credit: AMC

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 14

Daniel Fienberg and Alan Sepinwall discuss 'Breaking Bad,' 'Happy Town' and more

The

 
It's time for another Wednesday installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast. 
 
It's Alan Sepinwall and my 13th consecutive week of on-time podcasts, but our last week podcasting from different online venues because, as you've already read, I hope, Sepinwall is coming to HitFix.
 
In a lean-and-mean 30:20 podcast ("Lost" was a repeat and "American Idol" was too dull to be worth the time), we mostly discussed ABC's new drama "Happy Town" and gave a midseason report on "Breaking Bad."
 
Here's the breakdown:
 
Sepinwall's coming to HitFix -- 00:00 - 02:15
"American Idol" -- 02:35 - 04:20
"Happy Town" -- 4:25 - 11:40
Reader Questions ("Lost"-ish and "Survivor") -- 11:50 - 21:30
"Breaking Bad" -- 22:00 - 29:00
 
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>Sam Neill of 'Happy Town'</p>

Sam Neill of 'Happy Town'

Credit: ABC

TV Review: ABC's 'Happy Town'

Comparisons to 'Twin Peaks' and Stephen King do this self-consciously quirky drama no favors
Stephen King has taught me many things over the years. He taught me that if I'm suffering from serious obesity, the best diet plan is provoking an old gypsy woman. He warned me that no teenage girl likes having her prom interrupted with a pig-blood shower. He contributed the healthy reminder that the clown who lives in the sewer probably isn't friendly and I don't want to take his balloons, whether they float or not.
 
But if there's any lesson that Stephen King felt the desire to teach over and over again, and a lesson that I've taken to heart, it's this one: If a cultured, European man moves into your small town and opens a shop specializing in the sort of top-end merchandise nobody in your town would ever normally purchase, he's most likely either a vampire or Satan. And in either case, you may want to start investigating property values in a neighboring town.
 
I can't tell if Merritt Grieves, the character played by Sam Neill in ABC's new dramedy "Happy Town," will turn out to be more like Richard Straker from "Salem's Lot" or Leland Gaunt from "Needful Things," but I know that his arrival means that bad things are coming to the small town of Haplin, Minnesota.
 
But you *know* bad things are coming to Haplin because, not content with premiering a show with an ironic title, ABC has been advertising "Happy Town" with the 100 percent redundant tag line "Don't let the name fool you." 
 
I'd say that you also don't want to let ABC's advertising fool you. Just because teasers make "Happy Town" look like another "Twin Peaks," it's not. It's just another show that looks like "Twin Peaks." I'm not even sure it's another "Push, Nevada" (somewhere, a shiver just went down Ben Affleck's spine).
 
Full review of "Happy Town" after the break...
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<p>Geoff Stults</p>

Geoff Stults

HitFix Interview: Geoff Stults talks 'Happy Town'

'October Road' veteran discusses his mysterious new ABC series
Wednesday (April 28) night's premiere of ABC's "Happy Town" is a big deal for Geoff Stults.
 
The 32-year-old actor has been steadily acting for a decade on the big and small screen, playing supporting roles in shows like "7th Heaven" and "October Road" and in features including "Wedding Crashers," "The Express" and, most recently, "She's Out of My League."
 
"Happy Town," though, finds Stults in leading man mode as Tommy Conroy, a police deputy content to live in his father's shadow and enjoy the tranquility of a small town without any crime. When a bizarre set of circumstances unfold, Tommy finds himself having to investigate a series of crimes that may involve The Magic Man, the mysterious figure behind a rash of abductions years earlier.
 
Stults isn't just the lead in "Happy Town," though. The series comes from the team of Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec and Scott Rosenberg, who wrote the pilot specifically for their friend and former "October Road" star.
 
HitFix caught up with Stults to his quirky new series, the responsibility of stepping up as a star and how much closure viewers will be able to expect by the end of the first "Happy Town" season.
 
Click through...
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<p>&nbsp;This isn't Alan Sepinwall. It's Omar Little. All in the game, though. All in the game.</p>

 This isn't Alan Sepinwall. It's Omar Little. All in the game, though. All in the game.

Credit: HBO

HitFix welcomes Alan Sepinwall

What's Alan Watching blog will be relocating to HitFix. Huzzah!
I've been following Alan Sepinwall for the past 15 years. Literally.
 
When I arrived at the University of Pennsylvania, he was the managing editor at 34th Street Magazine, the arts & entertainment rag at the college newspaper. He graduated, but continued to encourage me and I eventually became 34th Street managing editor myself.
 
For my first summer internship, I was a nearly inept fact-checker at the now-defunct P.O.V. Magazine, the first college intern they'd had since Alan Sepinwall.
 
Alan didn't get me my job at Zap2it, but he certainly made sure that the editor there scooped my resume and clips out of the garbage after I ignored a couple basic application requirements. Because of that gig, I was able tag along behind Alan into the Television Critics Association.
 
Perhaps all of that following is why I'm so pleased, excited and, darnit, honored to welcome Alan Sepinwall to the HitFix family. Since Sepinwall is so prone to mocking my anglophilia, I should probably say that I'm right chuffed.
 
[More puffery after the break...]
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<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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