Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 229
Credit: AMC

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 229

Dan and Alan discuss 'Mindy Project' and 'New Girl' finales plus 'Mad Men'

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Happy Wednesday, Boys & Girls! Time for another installment of the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.

On Tuesday's video show, we reviewed Showtime's "Penny Dreadful" and NBC's remake of "Rosemary's Baby" and we also started previewing next week's upfronts.

We do a bit more upfront previewing to start this podcast. We also answer a few emails, discuss Tuesday's "New Girl" and "Mindy Project" finales and chatted about Sunday's "Mad Men."

A reminder: Our schedule will be screwy next week because of upfronts. We still expect to do a video show next Tuesday, but I'm guessing a podcast won't happen before Thursday? Something like that...

Today's podcast breakdown:
Pre-upfronts update (00:00:50 - 00:07:20)
Listener Mail: "The Comeback" (00:07:30 - 00:13:25)
Listener Mail: Adaptations (00:13:30 - 00:17:30)
"New Girl" finale (00:17:40 - 00:28:15)
"The Mindy Project" (00:28:20 - 00:35:50)
NBC Gets the Olympics Through 2032 (00:35:50 - 00:40:05)
"Mad Men" (00:40:05 - 00:59:30)

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.

 

<p>L.L. Cool J and Chris O&#39;Donnell of &quot;NCIS: Los Angeles&quot;</p>

L.L. Cool J and Chris O'Donnell of "NCIS: Los Angeles"

Credit: CBS

TV Ratings: 'Voice,' 'Supernatural' dip while 'Mindy,' 'New Girl' rise on Tuesday

'NCIS' leads CBS overall and in the key demo

Fast National ratings for Tuesday, May 6, 2014.

CBS' hit drama procedurals swept Tuesday night overall and also led primetime in the key demographic on a night characterized by drops almost across the board.

Among the shows drooping on Tuesday were "NCIS," "Person of Interest," "The Voice," both NBC comedies, both ABC dramas and "The Originals" and "Supernatural" on The CW.

There were a few rays of sunshine. NBC's "Chicago Fire" got a small demo uptick, as did "NCIS: Los Angeles." And FOX got finale bumps for both "New Girl" and "The Mindy Project," which improved on its lead-in in Fast Nationals for the second straight week (though the two shows ended up tied in Finals).

On to the numbers.

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<p>Ken Marino and Casey Wilson of &quot;Marry Me&quot;</p>

Ken Marino and Casey Wilson of "Marry Me"

Credit: NBC

NBC starts series orders with 'Marry Me,' 'Allegiance' and Katherine Heigl in 'State of Affairs'

Casey Wilson, Hope Davis among NBC's new stars

Not content to let FOX hog the pre-upfronts series order merry-go-round, NBC started its 2013-2014 series pickups on Tuesday (May 6) afternoon.

Thus far, NBC has given series orders to the comedy "Marry Me" and the dramas "Odyssey," "Allegiance" and "State of Affairs," starring Katherine Heigl.

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<p>Terrence Howard</p>

Terrence Howard

Credit: AP

FOX orders 'Red Band Society,' 'Empire' to series

'Gotham' got a series order on Monday

For the second straight day, FOX has given an official series order to a high profile drama pilot, actually doubling down with drama orders on Tuesday (May 6)

One day after sending "Gotham" to series, FOX has done the same for "Red Band Society" and  "Empire," or "Lee Daniels' Empire," to avoid confusion with the 2002 John Leguizamo classic "Empire."

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<p>Chris Messina and Mindy Kaling of &quot;The Mindy Project&quot;</p>

Chris Messina and Mindy Kaling of "The Mindy Project"

Credit: FOX

Interview: Michael Spiller discusses the 'Mindy Project' finale and the job of directing producer

What was it like actually shooting 'Mindy' in NYC?

We're many years into the Cult of the Showrunner on TV and nobody would argue, I don't think, that in the vast majority of cases, TV is a writer-producer's medium. 

And nobody would argue, I suspect, with the notion that on FOX's "The Mindy Project," the driving creative force is Mindy Kaling, who is the creator and star and leads an extraordinary strong writing stuff of comedy veterans. 

With that focus, I've often felt that one of the industry's least understood figures is the directing-producer. Sometimes, like with a Pamela Fryman on "How I Met Your Mother," that person may end up directing ever episode of a series, so their name is easy to notice and retain. Other times, the directing producer may be a frequent director on a series, but they aren't behind the camera on every episode, which makes their involvement a bit nebulous in the mind of some viewers.

Michael Spiller is the producing director on FOX's "The Mindy Project." He didn't direct the original pilot and he's only the credited directed on maybe a third of the episodes, but he's been with the show since before it premiered and he's had day-to-day contributions ever since.

Spiller got his start as a cinematographer on Hal Hartley's '80s and '90s films and made the transition to directing on HBO's "Sex and the City." Since then, he has worked as a frequent director on some of the best single-cam comedies of recent years, including "Scrubs," "Better Off Ted" and "Modern Family," for which he won an Emmy.

"The Mindy Project" wraps its second season on Tuesday (May 6) night with a finale that continues the spring's on-and-off budding romance between Kaling's Mindy and Chris Messina's Danny. The finale even takes the show to a very unexpected place: New York City. Yes, "Mindy" has always been set in New York City, but it's a Hollywood Backlot version of New York City and it's almost shocking to see Kaling and Messina out in locations that couldn't have been faked in the Valley. It's a very satisfying conclusion to a season that has seen "Mindy" become an increasingly consistent pleasure within FOX's Tuesday lineup, if you've been able to keep track of when it's on.

Last week I got on the phone with Spiller to discuss the role of the director-producer, his part in the show's comedic evolution and the opportunity to shoot in New York City, if only for a single day. 

It's a different look at the inner-workings of "The Mindy Project"...

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<p>&quot;24: Live Another Day&quot;</p>

"24: Live Another Day"

Credit: FOX

TV Ratings: '24' return clocks in strong, while 'The Voice' leads NBC Monday

ABC leads overall, while '2 Broke Girls' finales weak

Fast National ratings for Monday, May 5, 2014.

Although it was below its Season 8 averages, "24" had a strong return for FOX on Monday, pushing the network close to "Voice"-boosted NBC among young viewers, though not especially close to "Dancing with the Stars"-boosted ABC overall.

The funny thing to remember is that "24" averaged over 9 million live viewers and a 2.8 rating among adults 18-49 in its final season, numbers that seemed a little sluggish, but still totally respectable at the time. Now, of course, those would be blockbuster numbers for a drama, especially the key demo figure. So the "24: Live Another Day" average of approaching 8 million viewers and a 2.5 key demo rating? Well, you can either view it as down from established "24" standards, or far better than any drama FOX has aired this season since the early "Sleepy Hollow" episodes. Maybe I'll do analysis when Finals come in.

When you look at other numbers, "Dancing with the Stars" was down steely from last week, while "The Voice" and "The Blacklist" were basically flat.

Presumably it was "24" that took a big bite out of "2 Broke Girls" and "Friends with Better Lives."

And over on The CW, "The Tomorrow People" rose for its first season finale.

On to the numbers...

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<p>Adam Goldberg of &quot;Fargo&quot;</p>

Adam Goldberg of "Fargo"

Interview: 'Fargo' co-star Adam Goldberg on ASL challenges and Calgary cold

Also, the "Midnight Cowboy" thing? Not intentional.

In March, I was on the Calgary set of FX's "Fargo" and I got to talk to most of the show's main stars, including Martin Freeman, Allison Tolman, Keith Carradine, and Colin Hanks and Joey King. I also chatted with producers Noah Hawley and Warren Littlefield and, before the premiere, I interviewed Billy Bob Thornton as well.

The characters on the reimagined take on the Coen Brothers' Oscar winner are compelling and that gives everybody involved plenty to discuss, so I hope to keep checking off members of the eclectic cast plenty to talk about.

Up next? Adam Goldberg, who was introduced in the second episode as a fiery hitman whose name has never been given. Official FX literature says that Goldberg is Mr. Numbers, while Russell Harvard's character is Mr. Wrench. Apparently, we aren't going to learn anything more than that.

Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench are intriguing because they're dressed an awful lot like Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight's characters from the classic "Midnight Cowboy" and because all of their dialogue together is delivered in often passionately delivered ASL. Goldberg's character also gets to talk in frequently irritated bursts of speech, but Harvard only communicates in sign language. It's a unique partnership. 

Goldberg is a master of frequently irritated speech in films like "Dazed and Confused" and on the small screen on shows like "Friends" and in the Hawley-created brilliant-but-cancelled ABC drama "The Unusuals." He's carried that over into his work as an indie writer-director, a gig that nearly prevented him from taking the "Fargo" role and reuniting with Hawley.

It's also a master of irritated speech in real life. The guy is NOT a fan of the cold weather in Calgary, it turns out. And he was really worried about his ability to do justice to the ASL dialogue. 

And it turns out that the "Midnight Cowboy" thing? Well, it wasn't a part of his thought process. 

Click through for my chat with Goldberg, which covers that terrain and more. And check out "Fargo" on FX on Tuesday nights.

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Our favorite season-ending TV cliffhangers

Our favorite season-ending TV cliffhangers

From near-assassinated presidents to intriguing time jumps, we celebrate finales

Cliffhangers aren't just for finales. 

Recent shows as different as "24" and The Collected Works of Shonda Rhimes have proven that if you drop a cliffhanger on a weekly basis, audiences will keep coming back, while soap operas have been doing almost daily cliffhangers for decades.

But the season-ending cliffhanger is a particular creature. Producers know that they have to drop narrative bombs big enough to carry audiences across not just a couple weeks, but several months of anticipation and speculation. 

There's a reason why "Who shot J.R.?" and "Is Buffy Dead?" and "Wait, that was a Flash-Forward?" are questions that instantly bring back memories of both the finales in question, but also the months of pondering and waiting.

With so many of our favorite shows signing off for the season, we put our heads together to list some of our favorite season-ending cliffhangers and pay tribute to them. 

OBVIOUSLY there are spoilers here, but mostly just for older shows and we didn't spoil how most of the finales resolved. 

Check out our list and chime in with some of your favorites!

<p>Sunday&#39;s &quot;The Simpsons&quot;</p>

Sunday's "The Simpsons"

Credit: FOX

TV Ratings: 'Resurrection' finale, '60 Minutes' lead Sunday split, 'Simpsons' gets a Lego boost

'Family Guy' is Sunday's top show among young viewers

Fast National ratings for Sunday, May 4, 2014.

ABC got a tiny bump for the "Resurrection" season finale and the network edged out FOX for victory among young viewers, while "60 Minutes" and "The Good Wife" helped CBS comfortably win Sunday night overall.

Although FOX couldn't quite beat ABC in the key demo, the network had a strong night, with a Lego-filled "Simpsons" episode rising and "Family Guy" actually doing Sunday's best young demo numbers. This animated comedies helped "Cosmos" to growth as well.

In terms of Sunday negatives, NBC's "American Dream Builders" hit another low, while "Believe" stopped several weeks of encouraging stability with a drop.

On to the numbers...

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<p>Leo struggles inside an inflatable bull</p>

Leo struggles inside an inflatable bull

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race: All-Stars' - 'Bull Down'

The teams head to Spain where another Double U-Turn awaits

I spent my day on the set of FOX's "Broadchurch" remake "Gracepoint" up in beautiful Victoria, BC, so I'm on my own race not-exactly-around-the-world, a race that left me unable to watch Sunday's (May 5) "The Amazing Race" until late, meaning that it's already after midnight as I start on this recap.

Fortunately, this is a really easy episode to recap.

In fact, there are really only two things to discuss about Sunday's episode, which doesn't mean it was a bad episode. In fact, thanks to one utterly bonkers Detour, it was quite fun. But Sunday's Leg was darned straight-forward and, once again, all came down to an over-reliance on the U-Turn for drama.

On to the recap after the break.

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