<p>&nbsp;Jessica Lucas of 'Melrose Place'</p>

 Jessica Lucas of 'Melrose Place'

Credit: The CW

HitFix Interview: 'Melrose Place' star Jessica Lucas

CW star discusses modeling, Heather Locklear, ratings and the next 'Melrose Place' murder
On a show that's all about bad girls, Jessica Lucas' Riley Richmond has spent six episodes being the good girl.
 
Of course, being a good girl on The CW's "Melrose Place" doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as it does in a different zip code. Yes, Riley is a humble elementary school teacher, engaged to aspiring filmmaker Jonah (Michael Rady). But that doesn't mean she's above getting drunk and making out with neighbor Auggie (Colin Egglesfield). 
 
And while Riley isn't willing to go quite as far as doctor-turned-hooker Lauren (Stephanie Jacobsen) to fix her financial woes, this Tuesday's (Oct. 20) "Melrose Place" finds her leaving her students behind to pick up a gaudy paycheck as a fashion model. And, in the episode, her photographer is none other than Daphne Zuniga's Jo Reynolds, the latest original "Melrose Place" veteran to appear on the reboot. 
 
HitFix caught up with with the "Cloverfield" star and "90210" reboot guest to discuss modeling, playing the good girl and working with the old "Melrose Place" standbys. 
 
We also discussed another upcoming "Melrose Place" murder, Riley's flirtations with Auggie and whether Heather Locklear is going to be able to work ratings magic again.
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<p>&nbsp;Esai Morales and Eric Stoltz in the 'Caprica' pilot</p>

 Esai Morales and Eric Stoltz in the 'Caprica' pilot

Credit: Syfy

Set Visit: Syfy's 'Caprica'

Reporters visit the set of the 'Battlestar Galactica,' chat with the stars and meet a Cylon
There are certain words you never want to hear if you're in the "Battlestar Galactica" universe. 
 
Among those words are, "We don't know where the robot is."
 
Fortunately, the assembled group of bloggers and journalists were visiting the set of "Battlestar Galactica" prequel "Caprica" last week, reducing the chances that any one of us could be a Cylon in disguise. No, the robot in question wasn't a stealthy, flesh-coated cyborg with growing sentience and insidious motives so much as a giant, 6'7" metallic behemoth incapable of moving on its own, much less plotting humanity's destruction. For now, at least.
 
Set more than 50 years before the events of "Battlestar Galactica," "Caprica" premiered in April with a two-hour telefilm and will return to Syfy in January 2010 as a series that follows two grief-stricken families, the Adamas and the Graystones, on an arc that viewers already know will lead to the near-anihilation of civilization. "Battlestar Galactica" fans know how the story looks when it ends, but "Caprica" is about the very beginning of the end.
 
On this sunny October morning, though, the aforementioned online scribes were wandering through a Vancouver set bearing no resemblance to the cramped, grimy interiors that usually typified "Battlestar." The "Caprica" sets are triumphs of simple, character-driven production design, sometimes warm, intimate and lived-in, other times sterile and expansive and modern (by our standards). 
 
While the pilot was shot largely on locations in the Vancouver area, everything has been recreated by production designer Richard Hudolin and his team. That allowed those of us on the set visit to walk out of Joseph Adama's (Esai Morales) traditional Tauron home, go around a tight corner and find ourselves in the lake-side manse owned by Daniel and Amanda Graystone (Eric Stoltz and Paula Malcomson).
 
TV magic, y'all. TV magic.
 
More on the sets for "Caprica," plus the panel with the show's stars, after the break...
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<p>&nbsp;Tracy Morgan of '30 Rock'</p>

 Tracy Morgan of '30 Rock'

Credit: NBC

TV Review: NBC's '30 Rock' Season Four

Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan and company return for more inside-entertainment hijinks
The Emmys are boring and Emmy voters absolutely keep giving awards to the same darned things every year. But the reason why I didn't write one of those "When are Emmy Voters Going To Freshen Things Up?" articles this year is simple: Wanna know my favorite drama currently on TV? That'd be "Mad Men." Wanna know my favorite comedy currently on TV? Well, that's probably "30 Rock." So who am I to complain?
 
There's more competition in that second category, though, depending on how much I'm enjoying "The Office" or whether "How I Met Your Mother" or "The Big Bang Theory" are having good weeks, or even if "Chuck" is having a funny episode rather than a dramatic save-the-world episode. And I've said it before, the "Racial Sensitivity" episode of "Better Off Ted" was perhaps the best single comedy episode of the year.
 
But I return to "30 Rock," which gets its fourth season off to a belated start on Thursday (Oct. 15). Yes, the writers often forget to tell stories and just concentrate on a string of barbs and punchlines that can leave you numb. Yes, the over-reliance on guest stars often stifles the comedy and doesn't appear to help with ratings at all. And sure, few shows have been so comfortable with going completely inside-baseball and leaving average viewers in the dust. But if you're asking the comedy that makes me laugh most frequently? There isn't much doubt.
 
NBC sent out the season's first two "30 Rock" episodes. So how do they stack up? Review after the break...
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<p>&nbsp;Jamie Bamber and Eliza Dushku in the 'Dollhouse' premiere</p>

 Jamie Bamber and Eliza Dushku in the 'Dollhouse' premiere

Credit: FOX

DVR numbers boost 'Dollhouse,' 'Grey's Anatomy'

Low rated shows with younger viewers and tech-savvy audiences benefit from DVR numbers. Well duh.
For the past two weeks, after I've reported on the Friday overnight ratings, I've gotten a similar question from folks on Twitter and in the real world: How long can FOX keep "Dollhouse" airing on Friday nights with those ratings?
 
My answer has been the same for a while now: FOX wasn't going to do anything cruel and untoward to "Dollhouse" before the premiere DVR figures came in. "Dollhouse" is a show that was at least partially saved by the strength of its non-live (as opposed to not-alive, which would mean zombies, I guess) viewership and I figured FOX would want a day or two of positive press coming off of an inevitable DVR boost.
 
Well, those DVR numbers for premiere week were revealed on Monday (Oct 12) and... GUESS WHAT!
 
[Basic overview of the DVR results, specifically the key 18-49 demographic and specifically "Dollhouse" after the break...]
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<p>&nbsp;The stars of Syfy's 'Sanctuary'</p>

 The stars of Syfy's 'Sanctuary'

Credit: Syfy

Set Visit: Syfy's 'Sanctuary'

We were in Vancouver and heard Amanda Tapping and company discuss Season Two of Sanctuary
The headline of this story is obviously a bit of a misnomer. 
 
Syfy's "Sanctuary," which returns for its second season on Friday (Oct. 9), defines "set" more loosely than most shows. "Sanctuary" travelled the world  and journeyed through time in its first season, going from the deepest ocean depths to the Himalayas to Baton Rouge to Victorian England.
 
Most of that journey, though, was done in front of gigantic green screens on a mammoth stage in Vancouver, with most of the heavy lifting coming courtesy of Lee Wilson and his team at Anthem Visual Effects. The effects artists created locations, whole environments, props and characters, making "Sanctuary" a trailblazer in its field, but also making it difficult to drop by the lower levels of the Sanctuary itself, checking in on the mermaids and growling beasts. Most of that is on computers somewhere and most of it is a work-in-progress, since "Sanctuary" has completed a season of principal photography.
 
So on Tuesday (Oct. 6), a group of online journalists visited the set of "Sanctuary," but there wasn't much to see, a couple building exteriors shoved to a corner, a single trampoline-shaped green screen and acres of empty space. Some sets are fully immersive experiences -- the "Chuck" Buy More, the Dollhouse, the Destiny from "Stargate Universe" -- but with "Sanctuary," we had to use our imagination, adding extra appreciation for the work of the FX team and Wilson.
 
"Without him, we would have a much smaller looking show," says series creator Damian Kindler.
 
"And it would be a lot greener," cracks series director and executive producer Martin Wood.
 
In lieu of an actual set to take reporters around, the "Sanctuary" stars -- Amanda Tapping, Robin Dunne, Christopher Heyerdahl and Ryan Robbins -- and the creative team sat and chatted with the assembled reporters about the upcoming second season and what's in store for the intrepid Abnormal hunters. 
 
[More after the break... Including some spoilers]
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<p>Wayne Gretzky</p>

Wayne Gretzky

Credit: ESPN

TV Review: ESPN's '30 For 30' - 'Kings Ransom' and more

ESPN's superb new documentary series features films by Peter Berg, Barry Levinson and Albert Maysles

Although ESPN continues expertly the chronicle the day's current sporting highlights and although "Outside the Lines" continues to be the "60 Minutes" of in-depth sports reporting and although the network has diversified its portfolio with scripted movies and miniseries programming, I've always considered the SportsCentury program to be the network's pinnacle.

In 1999, ESPN dedicated more programming hours than I would dare count to listing the 20th Century's 50 Greatest Athletes, doing a different biography every week, while also looking at the century's great games, coaches. I don't remember any one special individually, but I remember the breadth and depth of the initiative, as well as the debate it spawned. Is Secretariat and athlete and how can Secretariat possibly be a better athlete than Mickey Mantle? Does O.J. Simpson's off-field behavior make his on-field achievements less significant? How do you compare a Jim Thorpe to today's athletes? And who's #1? 

With SportsCentury, ESPN set itself an ambitious plan and followed through admirably.

It may be too early to know for sure, but if the initial installments are any indication, ESPN may have topped itself in scope and artistry. With ESPN celebrating its 30th anniversary, the cable network contacted 30 acclaimed filmmakers (and a few interesting non-filmmakers) and said, "If you could tell one sports story from these 30 years, what story would you tell?"

The results are astounding. The complete list of films is up on the "30 For 30" website and my immediate reaction was, "There's not a single one of these 30 films that doesn't interest me on some level." Even the stories I don't care about have a hook that draws me in. Do I really need to watch a story about the Steinbrenner family? No. But if it's directed by "Harlan County USA" Oscar winner Barbara Kopple? Sure. Another documentary about Michael Jordan? No thanks. A documentary about MJ's minor league baseball season from "Bull Durham" director Ron Shelton? Why yes, please.

[More thoughts on the first four "30 For 30" hours after the break...]

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<p>Alex O'Loughlin of 'Three Rivers'</p>

Alex O'Loughlin of 'Three Rivers'

Credit: CBS

TV Review: CBS' 'Three Rivers'

CBS brings Alex O'Loughlin back to primetime with a revamped medical drama

The original "Three Rivers" pilot sent to critics in May was not really a TV show. It was a premise -- organ transplant surgeons -- and the core of a cast -- Alex O'Loughlin and Katherine Moennig, mostly -- but no tone or pace or workable structure. 

When "Three Rivers" premieres on Sunday (Oct. 4), viewers won't see that original pilot. They also won't see the reshot version of that pilot. They'll see an entirely different episode and, even though they won't know it, they're also seeing an entirely different show.

The new "Three Rivers" has a little flash, a little style and some sense of where it fits in. Although it isn't produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and although it isn't part of the "NCIS" family, "Three Rivers" now actually feels like a CBS Medical Drama. And yes, that means it's resolutely procedural, somewhat surface-oriented and capable of being insanely manipultative. And no, this doesn't mean that "Three Rivers" is necessarily a show I think is very good. But this is now a show with a chance to succeed, which it was not before. 

My review of "Three Rivers" after the break...

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<p>Robert Carlyle of 'Stargate Universe'</p>

Robert Carlyle of 'Stargate Universe'

Credit: Syfy

Review: Syfy's 'Stargate Universe'

A great premise and a strong cast are wasted in a mostly leaden new 'Stargate' series

Sloppy execution cripples what ought to have been an extremely promising possibility for franchise reinvention in "Stargate Universe." The new Syfy series, premiering on Friday (Oct. 2), finds masterminds Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper determined to deliver the grittiest, darkest, most realistic "Stargate" to date, a worthy ambition except for when the result is also this dull and lugubrious. 

Full disclosure: Except for passing seconds here and there, the last "Stargate" I watched with any seriousness had James Spader, Kurt Russell and the chick from "The Crying Game." It was a movie I kinda dug, but I never really required an expansion for that work. But with MGM and Syfy so enthusiastic about "Stargate Universe" and so insistent that this was a "Stargate" that was intended to welcome fresh eyes, I decided to give it a shot. After all, a similar experiment served me well on "Torchwood: Children of Earth," which stands as one of my favorite TV experiences of the year, despite no interest at in "Torchwood" mythology. 

And "Stargate Universe" is loaded with actors I respect, including Robert Carlyle, Louis Ferreira, Ming-Na and Lou Diamond Phillips. What? You don't respect Lou? After "Stand and Deliver," "La Bamba," "Wolf Lake" and his week in the jungle with Spencer, the man deserves your admiration and he certainly served three television hours of my time. 

There's a very real chance that "Stargate Universe" will play totally differently for fans of the franchise and also that a certain subset of science fiction fans will embrace its bleak perspective. I can only share my side...

After the break...

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<p>David Letterman</p>

David Letterman

Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP

Analysis: David Letterman skips the apology, goes on the offensive

In getting laughter and cheers for some questionable behavior, Letterman may have rewritten the book on 21st Century Scandal Management

The news broke late Thursday (Oct. 1) that on "The Late Show," David Letterman was going to discuss an extortion attempt that led to the popular host's recent grand jury testimony and, earlier in the day, the arrest of a gentleman later identified as a "48 Hours" employee. 

A press release from Letterman's people acknowledged that the host had admitted to sexual relationships with members of his staff. The Internet was all a-buzz and I even put aside Thursday evening programming to watch "The Late Show" early, something I almost never do. 

But the episode began with Letterman's monologue. And a strange monologue it was for the many, many viewers expecting a candid confessional. Letterman made jokes about Mark Sanford, about Roman Polanski, about O.J. Simpson, about Sarah Palin. He covered 40 years of sex scandal fodder and tabloid favorites as if he had nothing to be ashamed of himself.

And possibly he didn't. 

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<p>Neil Flynn, Atticus Shaffer and Patricia Heaton in 'The Middle'</p>

Neil Flynn, Atticus Shaffer and Patricia Heaton in 'The Middle'

Credit: ABC

TV Review: ABC's 'The Middle'

Patricia Heaton, Neil Flynn and newcomer Atticus Shaffer star in a solid new ABC comedy

 

Since I dedicated a lot of time and brain cells to eviscerating "Hank," it gives me some minor relief to say that Kelsey Grammer's "Back to You" pal Patricia Heaton has a far better comedy also premiering on Wednesday (Sept. 30) night.

Since there are several thousand YouTube videos involving talented kittens and amorous pandas that are also better than "Hank," I don't want to damn "The Middle" with praise that faint. It's a decent family sitcom that plays, as the title suggests, right down the middle. Although it makes concessions to trendy industry preference by going single-camera, its values, storylines and overall sense of humor are familiar and comfortable enough that "The Middle" would have been right at home in a TGIF lineup, back when ABC had such a thing.

Having the toxic "Hank" as its lead-in won't help "The Middle," but it's a surprisingly solid match with "Modern Family," which attracted a big audience in its premiere. 

The rest of my review of "The Middle" is after the break. I'm going to keep using words like "solid" and "decent" and "respectable" and "amusing." That won't be the same as "brilliant" or "hilarious" or "Emmy-bait." But it's nothing to be ashamed of either.

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