<p>Richard Hatch of &quot;Survivor&quot;</p>

Richard Hatch of "Survivor"

Credit: CBS

Waxing Episodic: The 15th anniversary of the premiere of 'Survivor: Borneo'

The game had fewer cameras, less strategy and less Probst... but it worked

In HitFix's new feature "Waxing Episodic," we reflect on an episode of television we'll never forget.

On May 31, 2000, I watched the premiere of "Survivor."

I was edgy. 

At that point, the "Survivor" audience was just me and 15.5 million of my fellow early adapters. The next week, the "Survivor" audience went to 18 million and then to 23.25 million. Before "Empire" made our minds boggle at the mere idea of a show actually gaining viewers each week, there was "Survivor," which started with a 6.1 rating among adults 18-49 and was at a 12.7 rating by its penultimate installment.

[I actually missed that first finale, which averaged nearly 52 million viewers, because I was in the process of moving to Los Angeles. Nobody tell me who won!]

Last week's 15th anniversary marked a good time to dust off my "Survivor" (or "Survivor: Borneo" or "Survivor: Pulau Tiga") DVDs and our frequent -- when we happen to have the time -- "Waxing Episodic" feature was a perfect time to reflect on how the game has changed and how it remains the same.

I contemplated doing a recap of "The Marooning" in the format that I've utilized, twisted and refined since Season 18 here at HitFix and in a scattered and inconsistent stretch of previous seasons at Zap2it, but I very quickly realized that that would serve no real purpose. "Survivor" as it began was an awful lot like the "Survivor" we know today, but not in any ways that would have benefitted from a traditional Fienberg-style recap touching on the major plot points, the strategic arcing and the Bottom Line take-aways.

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<p>&quot;T.rex Autopsy&quot;</p>

"T.rex Autopsy"

Credit: National Geographic Channels

Chainsaws, Bloody Boots and Dino-Hearts: Inside National Geographic's 'T.rex Autopsy'

HitFix was on the London set of NatGeo's dino autopsy special

LONDON, ENGLAND. Something horrible has happened on TV Stage 2 at London's Pinewood Studios.

Trails of sticky blood lead to and from the stage.

Lurid, red fingerprints spot the doors.

On the actual stage itself, the source of the carnage evident. A tyrannosaurus rex rests prone on a shiny metal platform, chest open. A sluice tray holds a stomach, curling innards and still more blood.

A pair of drenched white rubber boots sits gory and ensanguinated, vacated by their owner.

Science!

Boots

***
***

When a network known for fact-based programming ventures into the realm of the speculative, the slope is a slippery one. 

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<p>Game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals</p>

Game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals

Credit: AP

Thursday Ratings: 'Hannibal' return ties series low as Warriors-Cavs leads

'Aquarius' takes a steep dip in Week 2 for NBC

Fast National ratings for Thursday, June 4, 2015.

The first game of a marquee NBA Finals pitting the NBA's top two teams, led by two of the sport's biggest stars, lived up to its billing on Thursday with an overtime victory for the Golden State Warriors and a primetime victory for ABC.

Due to the live nature of the basketball, ABC's Fast National totals reflect only time period data and not ratings for the game, which is particularly notable in a game with one of the teams hailing from the West Coast. And with the game going into overtime, the climax was out of primetime for much of the country.

Per ABC, overnight ratings for the game itself were up 24 percent over last year.

With ABC drawing such big numbers, a lot of the air was taken out of the Thursday room, with NBC's "Aquarius" plummeting in Week 2 -- NBC's interest in live ratings may be limited since the series is available to stream in its entirety -- and "Hannibal" returning for a weak Season 3 launch.

Avoiding a big dip was FOX's "Wayward Pines," which only slipped 0.1 in the key demo against basketball and improved in total viewers, beating "Aquarius" in both measures.

Let's get to the numbers...

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<p>&quot;Sense8&quot;</p>

"Sense8"

Credit: Netflix

J. Michael Straczynski says viewers have evolved to be ready for 'Sense8'

'Babylon 5' vet created Netflix's new series with The Wachowskis

With its still-mostly-unique binge-centric approach to programming, Netflix is the sort of creative incubator that inspires writers to say that the story they're telling could only have been told at Netflix.

That's not always true. 

It is, however, probably true when it comes to "Sense8," an almost description-proof sci-fi drama from "Babylon 5" creator J. Michael Straczynski and "Matrix" masterminds The Wachowskis.

"You literally drop the audience into the middle of the story and because again we’re staying with subjective point of view, the audience only knows as much as the characters know," Straczynski tells me. "As the characters figure out over the course of the next X number of episodes what’s going on, like a mystery structure, the audience also figures it out. And we knew that that would be really, really difficult to pull off on a regular network."

Nearly every piece of that quote may be an understatement. With a cast of variably familiar international actors shooting in London, Mumbai, Mexico City, Berlin, Nairobi, San Francisco and Reykjavik, "Sense8" does indeed drop both the characters and viewers into intriguing an scenario that involves consciousness-sharing (and much more) and says, "OK. Stick with this until you figure it out."

Straczynski is confident that viewers will, indeed, be able to take this journey, which begins on Netflix at 12:01 a.m. PT on Friday, June 5.

"I think that we are looking at evolution that allows for more complex storytelling, more depth of characterization and more complexity than we’ve had in the past," he says.

In our conversation, we talked about some of the surprising and not-so-surprising challenges of the show's global scale -- Time-zones, for example, are a pain -- and just a few pieces of what sounds like a mighty complicated production. 

Straczynski also discusses his conviction that audiences are amenable to this kind of hard sci-fi and hints at the five-season plan he already has in mind.

Hopefully this interview and our podcast and review coverage of "Sense8" are at least conveying its ambition...

Check out the full Q&A below. 

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<p>Stanley Cup Game 1</p>

Stanley Cup Game 1

Credit: AP

Wednesday Ratings: Blackhawks-Lightning Stanley Cup opener leads NBC split

'The Briefcase' takes a big demo drop, but still helps CBS win overall

Fast National ratings for Wednesday, June 3, 2015.

Repeats of "Criminal Minds" and "CSI: Cyber" helped CBS win Wednesday night overall, but the Stanley Cup opener between Chicago and Tampa Bay gave NBC a commanding victory in the key demographic.

The hockey game was up a hair from last year's Game 1.

Remember that NBC's hockey is subject to change due to the nature of live events.

Results for Wednesday's originals were largely negative with small key demo drops for "MasterChef" and "Celebrity Wife Swap," plus a steep 36 percent key demo decline for "The Briefcase."

Let's get to the numbers...

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<p>&quot;T.rex Autopsy&quot;</p>

"T.rex Autopsy"

Credit: National Geographic Channels

'T.rex Autopsy' advisor John Hutchinson says 'T.rex was the Tony Soprano of the late Cretaceous'

The professor of Evolutionary Mechanics discusses NatGeo's dino special

LONDON, ENGLAND. Check out John Hutchinson's dissection-heavy website WhatsInJohnsFreezer.com for a sense of what it might mean for him to be a proverbial kid in a candy store.

A professor of Evolutionary Mechanics at University of London's Royal Veterinary College, Hutchinson served as an advisor on National Geographic's "T.rex Autopsy," which will air on Sunday, June 7 and shot in April at Pinewood Studios near London.

NatGeo had a number of reporters on-set for the "T.rex Autopsy" shoot, which featured a team of veterinarians and paleontologists going to surgical town on a bio-realistic tyrannosaurus rex constructed by Jez Gibson-Harris' Crawley Creatures.

This is pretty close to a dream for Hutchinson, who has written roughly a dozen papers on T.rex legs and locomotion and is also, for want of a better word, an animal autopsy enthusiastic, the more exotic and rare the species the better. 

For the purposes of the actual "T.rex Autopsy" filming, Hutchinson wasn't on the floor with the specimen, but he instead perched in an observation room above the autopsy floor with a group of reporters, answering a nearly non-stop series of questions over the course of over 10 hours, ranging from queries as simple as "So, is that what it would look like to remove a T.rex's stomach and plop it on a soundstage floor?" to far more specific and detailed discourses that the journalists from scientific publications understood and I did not. 

Hutchinson's excitement when the replica and its excavators got something right was matched only by his excitement and urgency when something wasn't entirely on-point and he was able to send frantic texts to the producers to get get on-the-fly corrections.

Before the actual autopsy took place, though, I sat down with Professor Hutchinson to discuss this autopsy project, the dangers of anthropomorphizing a terrible lizard, the lingering importance of "Jurassic Park" in this field and which parts of this speculative experiment he expects will be outmoded 20 years from now.

And you can also find out the context it took for Hutchinson to declare, "Yeah. T.rex was the Tony Soprano of the late Cretaceous."

Click through for the full Q&A and check out "T.rex Autopsy" on June 7.

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<p>Carla Gugino of &quot;Wayward Pines&quot;</p>

Carla Gugino of "Wayward Pines"

Credit: FOX

'Wayward Pines' First Look: Ethan's wife and former mistress have a chilly chat

The key fifth episode, 'The Truth' will air at the ATX Television Festival on Friday

If you're going to be in Austin this week for the ATX Television Festival, you should stop by the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz on Friday (June 5) afternoon at 2:30 for the panel for FOX's "Wayward Pines." 

I'll be moderating the panel, featuring showrunner Chad Hodge and other luminaries, and we'll be preceding the panel with a screening of "Wayward Pines" Episode 5, which is titled "The Truth" and delivers on that promise with 42-ish minutes of answers regarding the mysteries of the town of Wayward Pines. It'll be a fun opportunity to have your jaw dropped and then to pepper the people associated with the show for more details on what The Truth means for the show going forward. It's a pretty neat episode to get to show at an event like this and I'm pleased with the timing.

Of course, if you're gonna be there for the "Wayward Pines" panel on Friday, you'll want to make sure you watch Thursday's new episode, which is titled "One of Our Senior Realtors Has Chosen to Retire," which features a terrific turn from Justin Kirk. I'm not sure if it's entirely essential to the watching of Episode 5, but it couldn't hurt.

To get you started with "Senior Realtor," here's a HitFix exclusive clip from Thursday's episode,  in which Ethan Burke's wife (Shannyn Sossamon's Theresa) and former mistress (Carla Gugino's Kate) have a tension-filled interaction with several different forms of chilly subtext.

Check it out:

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<p>&quot;America&#39;s Got Talent&quot;</p>

"America's Got Talent"

Credit: NBC

Tuesday Ratings: 'America's Got Talent,' 'I Can Do That' cruise for NBC

NBC dominates primetime in all measures

Fast National ratings for Tuesday, June 2, 2015.

"America's Got Talent" and "I Can Do That" were both down from last week's premieres, but the three-hour reality block still had no trouble carrying NBC to a primetime sweep in the key demo and a comfortable nightly victory overall.

Most of Tuesday's originals were down from last week, including "Extreme Weigh Loss" and "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader," while "Hell's Kitchen" and "iZombie" earn credit for staying flat.

Let's get to the numbers...

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<p>&quot;Quantico&quot;</p>

"Quantico"

Credit: ABC

ABC moves 'Quantico' to Sundays, holds 'Of Kings and Prophets'

Priyanka Chopra drama will air after 'Blood & Oil'

Upfronts Week may be the culmination of development season and it may come at the climax of the official network TV season, but it's only the start of lengthy process of tweaking that takes place leading up to the start of the fall season in September.

We've already had a couple weeks of preliminary recasting -- so far we've mostly learned the actors departing new shows, but we have yet to get their replacements -- and now it's time to get down to the business of schedule shuffling.

ABC confirms news that was actually announced on the sly on the network's official website that the FBI drama "Quantico" is shifting from Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. to Sunday nights at 10 p.m. 

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<p>&quot;Hannibal&quot; Season 3</p>

"Hannibal" Season 3

Credit: NBC

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 287 - 'Hannibal,' 'Community' finale

Dan and Alan also review Netflix's 'Sense8' and discuss the 'Six Feet Under' finale

The

Happy Tuesday, Boys & Girls!

It's time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.

In this week's installment, we're talking about some unusual programming including the return of NBC's art-house thriller "Hannibal," the premiere of Netflix's art-house sci-fi-type-thing "Sense8" and the finale of Yahoo's always boundary-pushing "Community."

And then we discussed our first Summer Finale Rewatch, the "Six Feet Under" finale. 

Next week is gonna be a bit screwy because Alan's gonna be in town to moderate an event, so we're definitely going to do some sort of in-person video thing at some point, but that may prevent us from doing a formal podcast, but our next Summer Finale Rewatch is available on Hulu and Netflix so you can get started on it whenever!

So here's today's breakdown:
"Hannibal" (00:01:30 - 00:12:50)
"Sense8" (00:12:55 - 00:26:25)
"Community" finale (00:26:30 - 00:47:15)
"Six Feet Under" Finale (00:47:25 - 01:12:30)

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.

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