<p>Sometimes stinks on Monday&#39;s &quot;Friends with Better Lives&quot;</p>

Sometimes stinks on Monday's "Friends with Better Lives"

Credit: CBS

TV Ratings: 'Dancing,' 'Voice' lead Monday, while viewers pass over CBS' 'Friends'

'Bones' dips a little on first Passover night

Fast National ratings for Monday, April 14, 2014.

Why was this Monday different from all other Mondays?

Actually, it wasn't. 

"Dancing with the Stars" kept ABC in its regular position as Monday's most watched network, while "The Voice" helped NBC maintain its supremacy among young viewers, as The Seder Effect [Not a real thing] had no particular impact on primetime ratings.

The first night of Passover saw "Dancing with the Stars" rise slightly and "The Voice" remain relatively flat, which was more a product of last week's NCAA Tournament Final competition than anything else. If you like, though, you can try to interpret the week-to-week drop for "Bones" as related to the Pesach observance. [Note: This probably is not the case.]

Monday's big notable was the premiere of CBS' slightly shuffled comedy lineup, which was predictably less impressive without "How I Met Your Mother," though "Friends With Better Lives" certainly wasn't an out-of-the-box failure, even though it was CBS' lowest-rated and least-watched comedy.

Meanwhile, over on The CW, "Star-Crossed" continued its recent erratic performance, falling behind "The Tomorrow People" for the night and, perhaps, in the race for a pity renewal.

On to the numbers...

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<p>Billy Bob Thornton of &quot;Fargo&quot;</p>

Billy Bob Thornton of "Fargo"

Credit: FX

Interview: 'Fargo' star Billy Bob Thornton discusses going dark for FX

Has the 'Slingblade' Oscar winner considered writing and directing for TV?

On the Calgary set of FX's "Fargo" last month, most of the cast was there either shooting or dropping by on an off-day to chat with a group reporters. Billy Bob Thornton couldn't make it, but sent his regrets and expressed the desire to talk to all of the assembled scribes pre-premiere. That's the sort of thing you hear a lot in-the-moment, but doesn't normally come to pass. Things slip through the cracks and nobody's really to blame. People get busy.

Billy Bob Thornton followed through. 

After a series of crossed wires and adjusted schedules, the Oscar-winning "Slingblade" scribe checked in last Sunday morning, delayed only because he got caught-up watching early baseball, which immediately gives us something in common.

"You can imagine what I think about your team," Thornton drawls. He's famously a Cardinals fan. I'm not-especially-famously a Red Sox fan.

"You guys just creamed us twice," Thornton admits, referring to a pair of Boston World Series wins. "But I respect the Red Sox organization. Really good organization."

Thornton could talk baseball all day. The game he's been watching doesn't even feature the Cardinals. It's a low-scoring early-season game between the Tigers and Orioles and even though Thornton knows former Tigers skipper Jim Leyland, that's his only rooting interest. He just enjoys the game.

Thornton also just likes FX's "Fargo." His enthusiasm was evident at the Television Critics Association press tour in January and three months later his love affair with the small screen continues. Thornton has been very frank about the current state of the film industry, especially when it comes to the understated, personal projects he's attracted to as a writer and director. The "Fargo" experience, his first prolonged TV work since "Hearts Afire" back-in-the-day, has opened his eyes to the potential of both cable work and the currently trendy "limited series" model. 

He also has one of his juiciest parts in years playing Lorne Malvo, a mysterious and sadistic stranger whose arrival in Bemidji, Minnesota sets in motion a 10-episode whirlwind of murder and chaos that are thematically and tonally inspired by the Coen Brothers' "Fargo," if only sometimes linked to the movie. Malvo is equal parts terrifying and hilarious and Thornton is having a ball playing that balance.

Once we stopped talking baseball, Thornton told me about playing Malvo as a force-of-nature, the pleasures of working in TV and whether he's now inspired to target the medium for future projects.

Click through for the full Q&A in advance of Tuesday's (April 2) "Fargo" premiere...

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Interview: Noah Hawley and Warren Littlefield bring 'Fargo' to the small screen
Credit: FX

Interview: Noah Hawley and Warren Littlefield bring 'Fargo' to the small screen

Coen Brothers-inspired FX drama premieres on Tuesday

CALGARY - As pages go, Warren Littlefield is slightly overqualified.

The Brandon Tartikoff protege spent 20 years as an executive at NBC, cultivating in a '90s run as NBC Entertainment President a gig that was, at times, rather wildly successful.

On this March day in Calgary, though, Littlefield is serving as a tour-guide for a group of reporters visiting the set of his FX limited series "Fargo." Just a 10 minute drive from downtown Calgary, we've left the urban center behind and we're at a facility that is doubling for the Bemidji Police Department, as well as several other rural Minnesota hubs.  Depending on which way you wander, there are interrogation rooms, a main squad area, portions of a local hospital and a middle school cafeteria, in which we're conducting most of our interviews next to a fine piece of juvenile art that has nothing to do with "Fargo," but I'm including it anyway. 

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<p>Bubba Watson gets his Masters green jacket</p>

Bubba Watson gets his Masters green jacket

Credit: AP

TV Ratings: Masters overrun, '60 Minutes' lead CBS Sunday while 'Once' and 'Cosmos' dip

'Crisis' gets a tiny bump, while 'Resurrection' slows its decline

Fast National ratings for Sunday, April 13, 2014.

With 11 minutes of Masters coverage overrun and a Pope Francis-centric installment of "60 Minutes," CBS' Sunday primetime got off to a strong start and then the network cruised to an easy overall win and a tight victory in the key demographic. 

A down week for "Once Upon a Time" pushed ABC to second in the key demo, leaving the network to take some solace in the smallest "Resurrection" drops to date. 

Speaking of declines, FOX's full lineup from "Bob's Burgers" through to "Cosmos" was down. 

NBC had slightly better news with week-to-week bumps for both "American Dream Builders" and "Crisis" and stability for "Believe," not that any of those numbers were actually especially good.

[As usual, ratings for cable offerings including the MTV Movie Awards and the "Mad Men" premiere will be available later in the day.]

On to Sunday's ratings...

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<p>Nobody was very excited about this Detour</p>

Nobody was very excited about this Detour

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race: All-Stars' - 'The Gladiators are Here!'

The teams head to Roman and face gladiatorial combat and stair-counting

Every once in a while, I like for somebody on "The Amazing Race" to really impress me. And I'm easily impressed. When the Hockey Brothers were throwing casks over their shoulders and running up hills? That impressed me. Heck, when Mark put together that car with the instructions in a language he couldn't understand? That impressed me. 

Sunday (April 13) night's confusing episode of "The Amazing Race" offered a low bar for achievement: I wanted somebody to know Roman Numerals. For what it's worth, *I* don't know Roman Numerals. Well, I know some Roman Numerals, but usually I know them if I can work backwards to some degree. Like if I'm looking at a motion picture copyright date, I usually have a vague sense of when the movie was released and I can figure out the actual date from that. So when it comes to Roman Numerals, I don't impress myself, but I would have liked to have been impressed by somebody else.

I was not.

It was a weird "Amazing Race" episode in which the majority of the teams picked what was clearly the wrong Detour, nobody succeeded in just doing the Roadblock on their own and the results of the Leg were determined partially by a couple cab errors I don't understand, partially decided by inexplicably altruistic teamwork and partially determined by a bizarre physical miscalculation.

So... Huh?

I guess I'm going to recap Sunday's episode after the break, as best I can, but I'm not sure I understood a lot of it. It's like it was ALL in Roman Numerals.

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<p>Martin Freeman in FX&#39;s &quot;Fargo&quot;</p>

Martin Freeman in FX's "Fargo"

Credit: FX

Interview: Martin Freeman compares 'Fargo' to 'Sherlock' on the set of the FX drama

'The Hobbit' star sits down for a five-minute chat

CALGARY - I've been on two Martin Freeman sets in the past year, so I'm prepared for his process. 

I can't tell you the details of what Freeman's Lester Nygaard is actually doing in the scene being filmed on this beautiful March day in the hills just outside of Downtown Calgary. "Fargo" is simultaneously shooting the seventh and eighth episodes of its 10-episode season and things are getting a wee bit climactic on the FX limited series. 

It's not spoiling much to say that Lester Nygaard is under pressure in this particular moment. Lester is under pressure for most of "Fargo," which draws inspiration, but very little plot, from the Coen Brothers' Oscar-winning film. From the beginning, Lester is a slightly-less-than-normal guy whose life is turned upside-down by a chance meeting with Billy Bob Thornton's appropriately malevolent Lorne Malvo. As befits what is now the "Fargo" franchise, this meeting leads to violence, murder, deceit, intrigue and frequent dark hilarity.

In the initial take of the scene, though, Freeman seems to be under no real pressure. It's a straight-forward and solid reading of a potentially emotional scene and, if you didn't know better, you'd think it was just fine. After a brief conversation with "Fargo" series creator Noah Hawley, Freeman settles in and although his scene partner delivers a performance that's nearly identical to the first take, Freeman's reading is now completely different. It's not just that the emotion has been dialed up, though. Emphasis has been put on a different assortment of words and without changing a breath of the dialogue, Freeman has shifted the heft of the scene. The camera and lighting set-ups change and, again, Freeman's co-star remains consistent -- And really good, don't get me wrong -- but Freeman again steps up the emotion and punches a different assortment of words, highlighting a different potential meaning. 

As I learned on the set of a different Freeman production last summer -- I'm not sure if I can say what it was, but it certainly wasn't "Sherlock" -- this is what the "Office" veteran does. He starts off with the basics, but builds with each take and tries to give directors as many choices as possible, tries to give himself as many choices as possible. After watching many actors on many sets, I can assure you that this isn't the case with everybody. Freeman is notable both for how responsive he is to direction, but also for the variations he imposes on himself.

While "Fargo" is a deep ensemble, with Freeman and Thornton joined by veterans like Keith Carradine, Bob Odenkirk and Adam Goldberg, as well as newcomer Allison Tolman, this is a long day for Freeman and, as I don't want to over-explain, this scene is intense and growing moreso with each take. 

As a result, though many of the "Fargo" stars are able to spare long stretches of time with a small pack of reporters visiting the set, Freeman's window is more limited. Between scenes, in the time technically set aside for lunch, he's able to carve out 30 minutes and there are five reporters. With a publicist closely monitoring a stopwatch, we each get five minutes with Freeman, who doesn't stay in character at all times, but does retain his slightly sing-song-y Minnesota accent.

It's like speed-dating I tell him as I sit down, wasting five of my seconds. 

"Only without the bell," he agrees, taking another five seconds.

Pleasantries dispatched, in this brief Q&A, Freeman discusses the initial draw of "Fargo," which premieres on April 15, both in terms of script and its limited nature. He talks about finding empathy and sympathy for a character who is something of a sad-sack. And he describes the on-set dynamic with the intriguingly eclectic cast.

Check out the speed-dating Martin Freeman interview below and stay tuned over the next week for "Fargo" interviews with Thornton, Tolman, Carradine, Hawley and a slew of others...

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<p>This is Tom Selleck from last night&#39;s &quot;Blue Bloods,&quot; not that you&#39;d know if it came from a different episode.</p>

This is Tom Selleck from last night's "Blue Bloods," not that you'd know if it came from a different episode.

Credit: CBS

TV Ratings: 'Blue Bloods' leads CBS to Friday wins with 'Shark Tank' dropping

'Hannibal' and 'Hart of Dixie' add a few viewers

Fast National ratings for Friday, April 11, 2014.

With "Blue Bloods" delivering Friday's top scripted numbers and "Shark Tank" hitting a recent low, CBS dominated primetime overall and also moved up into a tie with ABC among young viewers.

FOX was a close third in the key demo thanks to the two-hour premiere of "Kitchen Nightmares," which didn't draw an especially huge overall audience, but easily exceeded the numbers for "Rake" and various comedies. FOX notes that "Kitchen Nightmares" was up 33 percent from its October 2012 premiere.

Among other notables, The CW's "Hart of Dixie" added viewers from last week, but delivered the same low demo number, while NBC's "Hannibal" did the same.

On to the numbers...

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<p>Morgan McLeod of &quot;Survivor: Cagaya&quot;</p>

Morgan McLeod of "Survivor: Cagaya"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Morgan McLeod talks 'Survivor: Cagayan'

Ex-49ers cheerleader discusses her various 'Survivor' mistakes

Before we knew anything else about former cheerleader  and "Survivor: Cagayan" contestant Morgan McLeod, we knew that she was comfortable with her place on the Beauty tribe and that she was prepared to use her physical attributes to get what she wanted. 

Soon, though, LJ came to look at Morgan as a threat, because of a hot girl scorned and she became a target, stuck in a not-especially-successful alliance with the previously eliminated Brice. [Somehow I forgot that LJ picked Morgan for not-elimination in the very first seconds on the beach. I'd have asked about that if I remembered. Apologies!]

Morgan was never shy about saying what she thought of people. She called LJ old. She called Kass old and ugly. 

And it's a favor that was returned this week. Flip-flopping Kass compared Morgan to a useless old dog, while Tony said that because of Morgan's laziness, "you can't tell if she's a pillow or a person."

Morgan was never the biggest threat for... anything, but the members of the Brawn-y alliance decided that nobody would waste an Idol trying to save her. For her part, Morgan tried to defend herself by claiming that she would be a good and easily beatable person to take to the end. Morgan's argument didn't work and she was voted out.

In this week's "Survivor" exit interview, Morgan discusses her failures this season and owns up to how some of her catty comments looked. She also remains confused by Kass hated her so much and reveals what Kass told everybody she does for a living.

Click through for the full Q&A...

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<p>Mayim Bialik and Jim Parsons in &quot;The Big Bang Theory.&quot;</p>

Mayim Bialik and Jim Parsons in "The Big Bang Theory."

Credit: CBS

TV Ratings: 'Big Bang Theory' & 'Scandal' lead to Thursday tie

Fast affiliate ratings for Thursday, April 10, 2014.

Even with its lowest rating of the season, "The Big Bang Theory" was still Thursday's highest-rated show, and carried CBS to a tie for first among viewers 18-49 — and an easy win in total viewers — with "Scandal"-led ABC.

For the night, , CBS and ABC both averaged a 2.4 rating among young adults, with CBS grabbing 9.76 million viewers and ABC 7.92 million. FOX was third with a 1.4 rating and 5 million viewers, followed by NBC (1.0, 2.95 million) and the CW (.04, 1.05 million).

8 p.m. -- The combination of "Big Bang Theory" (4.6, 15.99 million) and "The Millers" (2.6, 10.24 million) easily won the hour for CBS, followed by "Shark Tank" on ABC (1.6, 6.57 million), "Hell's Kitchen" on FOX (1.4, 4.08 million), NBC's combo of "Community" (0.8, 2.62 million) and "Parks and Recreation" (1.0, 2.56 million) and a "Vampire Diaries" repeat on the CW (0.3, 906,000).

9 p.m. -- ABC pushed into first place in the demo with "Grey's Anatomy" (2.5, 8.09 million), though CBS' combo of "Two and a Half Men" (2.4, 9.62 million) and "The Crazy Ones" (1.7, 6.92 million) averaged a slightly larger overall audience. FOX was in third with the shrinking "American Idol" (1.7, 7.53 million) and "Surviving Jack" (1.2, 4.33 million), followed by a "Hollywood Game Night" repeat on NBC (0.9, 2.65 million) and "Reign" on the CW (0.4, 1.19 million).

10 p.m. -- The penultimate "Scandal" of the season easily won the hour (3.0, 9.08 million), followed by CBS' "Elementary" (1.7, 7.91 million) and NBC's "Parenthood" (1.1, 3.62 million).

All ratings information comes from preliminary Fast National Nielsen data, which includes live and same-day DVR viewing. All numbers are subject to change.

<p>Caleb Johnson on Wednesday&#39;s &quot;American Idol&quot;</p>

Caleb Johnson on Wednesday's "American Idol"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' Season 13 - Top 8 Results, Take 2

The Save is gone, so somebody's going home on 'Idol' tonight

Once again, the "American Idol" Top 8 performed on Wednesday night. And once again, they face an elimination.

Last week, the judges decided to say, "Whatever" to their lone save and they opted to protect Sam Woolf. I'm not convinced it was Sam Woolf they were saving so much as they were honoring the integrity of the season's best performance episode.

Tonight (April 10) the Save is gone and that's just as well, because Wednesday's '80s Night performances were weak. I don't think anybody fell flat on their faces, but there were only one or two standout solos amidst the mediocre morass. As long as Alex Preston, Jena Irene and Caleb Johnson are safe tonight, I'm not going to worry too much about who gets sent home.

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