Inside TV+Movies with Daniel Fienberg
Vicious killing machine or tragic victim of his family's legacy?
The NCAA basketball tournaments are less than a month away. Because it's obviously never been done before, HitFix is going to host its own tournament, but this battle won't take place between teams on Tobacco Road. We've got something more exciting in mind. In our competition, the greatest Heroes from the worlds of television and movies will face off versus the greatest Villains.
The committee is currently mulling over the brackets, but we need your help. There are six characters who some would consider anti-heroes, but we know then need to part of the battle royale. Do they fall in the Heroes bracket or the Villains bracket?
You decide. You have 48 hours. Choose wisely.
Sepinwall started things off this morning with Walter White. That was a no-brainer. No matter how cool you think Heisenberg was, once he let Jane die and poisoned Brock, he was already way to the "Villain" side of the scale and once he orchestrated a jailhouse massacre, I think the conversation was over. In fact, those of you who called Walter White a "Hero" scare me a little. He's a "Protagonist," but he's not a "Hero."
In fact, Walter White's orchestrated assassination of myriad incarcerated witnesses is pretty much a straight-up homage to Michael's orchestrated decimation of the heads of the other New York crime families in the first "Godfather" movie. And that's after he personally kills Sollozzo and McCluskey at a restaurant. Michael goes on to order the killing of his poor, spineless brother and instigate a number of murders that probably goes into the "countless" range. Oh and he closes the door on Kay. That's pretty evil and sad.
But it's not like he *wanted* to do any of this. I mean, Vito and Sonny? They're the venal villains of the Corleone clan. Michael's a war hero with no interest in joining the family business. He just wants to go to Dartmouth and marry Kay and be happy. And even after all of the stuff he does in the first movie, he has a plan to make the Corleone family entirely legitimate, but nooooooo. Every time Michael gets close, somebody else screws things up. As he famously puts it in "Godfather III," just when he thinks he's out, they PULL him back in. Sonny wanted to be a crime lord. Michael just wants to do what's right for his family.
So the question, as with many or most anti-heroes, becomes: Do we judge Michael Corleone on the sum of his actions or on the sum of his aspirations? If you go with the former, of course he's a villain. If you go with the latter, he's a tragic hero, laid low by the elusive boundaries of the American Dream.
VOTE NOW, BELOW!
Randy Jackson makes his triumphant return and the Women sing
It's time for Rush Week on "American Idol."
No. I don't know what "Rush Week" means either.
Apparently it will involve live performances and it will involve Randy Jackson and it will also feature the judges eliminating people even before they perform?
I'm confident that whoever the judges send home early from the Top 15 Women, Briana Oakley is going to perform. So she's my picture here.
Beyond that, click through and we'll experience this together.
Karen Gillan will topline the Emily Kapnek pilot
Karen Gillan, a Scottish actress so appealing she *almost* got me to watch "Doctor Who" regularly, is eying her first American network TV series gig.
Gillan has been cast in the lead role in ABC's comedy pilot "Selfie," which comes from "Suburgatory" creator Emily Kapnek and from Warner Bros. Television.
The audience is more than Conan's premiere, lower than Jay's exit
Airing in a special midnight time period after a wildly successful night of Olympics coverage, the debut of "The Tonight Show
Starring Jimmy Fallon" got a reasonable strong sampling.
Ratings for a single night, especially a night with an Olympics lead-in and an atypical air-time, probably aren't especially meaningful and can be spun any number of ways, so take all of this with shakers full of salt.
Per Fast National Nielsens, "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" averaged 11.31 million viewers and did a 3.8 rating among adults 18-49.
That key demo rating matched the number for Jay Leno's February 6 "Tonight Show" departure, but that episode aired at 11:35 also after a night of Olympics coverage. Leno's "Tonight Show" farewell also drew 14.64 million viewers. In the key demo, it tied the Leno exit for the top "Tonight Show" performance since Conan O'Brien's last episode in January 2010, which did a 4.4 key demo rating.
It was certainly Fallon's best performance, rising 71 percent overall and 73 percent in the key demo over his last "Late Night" episode.
The early numbers put Fallon right in line with Conan O'Brien's 2009 "Tonight Show" premiere in the key demo and ahead of the 9.2 million viewers who watched that Conan debut.
Check out our gallery of the Fallon "Tonight Show" highlights below:
'The Following' and 'Almost Human' are steady for FOX
Fast National ratings for Monday, February 17, 2014.
With bobsledding and the finals for ice-dancing, NBC's Monday Olympics coverage was up from recent nights and dominated primetime in all measures.
For some reason, each of the networks decided to put up a fight on Monday, which featured plenty of new programming, including one series premiere.
That premiere, The CW's "Star-Crossed," wasn't huge, but it improved a hair on recent "Hart of Dixie" audiences, which is probably all The CW could have expected going against the Olympics.
Also oddly, after taking last week off against the Olympics, a new "Castle" returned to ABC and drew lowish numbers, but also took a bite out of the audience for CBS' only new show of the night, "Intelligence."
Finally, FOX's dramas were consistent with last week's numbers. "The Following" was up a tiny bit in total viewers, while "Almost Human" was up a whopping 0.1 in the key demo.
On to the ratings...
Come for the seasons, stay for another charming Maisie/Sophie/Isaac commentary
The primary reason to get Season 3 of "Game of Thrones" on DVD when it drops on Tuesday (February 18) is, of course, Season 3 of "Game of Thrones."
HBO's George R.R. Martin adaptation has made my annual Top 10 list each year since it premiered and came in at No. 7 for 2013 in what was probably its strongest season.
Most of the Season 3 hype surrounded the long-awaited Red Wedding, which viewers were able to celebrate -- in a manner of speaking -- in the penultimate episode, "The Rains of Castamere." But that was hardly the only shocking standout in an admirably consistent season. There was the epic Daenerys-centric conclusion to "And Now His Watch Is Ended," the icy scaling of The Wall on "The Climb," long stretches of awesome scenes with Arya and The Hound, long stretches of awesome scenes with Brienne and Jamie, at least one epic butting-of-heads between Peter Dinklage and Dame Diana Rigg, several wargs, three dragons and one bear. And *then* there was The Red Wedding, which might have been the centerpiece of 2013's single best episode of television, were it not for "Breaking Bad."
If you skipped the season on HBO, either because you aren't a subscriber or you were waiting to binge, it's great stuff. And if you're already a fan of "Game of Thrones" and you like owning DVDs still -- there are a few of us out there -- you know that you probably want this one already and that's especially true if you're a Blu-Ray user, because the show's cinematography and visual effects look rather gorgeous in the format.
That makes the DVD bonus features truly that: They're bonuses and after spending a day making my way through a slew of commentaries and behind-the-scenes featurettes, I'll just say that nothing here is essential, but there's an awful lot of good stuff that will supplement your enjoyment of the series, whether you're a fan of Martin's novels or you're choosing to experience Westeros primarily as a TV experience. At the very least, a deep dive into the bonus features will have you champing at the bit for new episodes, which are still a month-and-a-half away.
Click through for my review/overview of some of the bonus features. I'm going to probably spoil some things, so if you haven't watched Season 3 yet, you should just watch the season and then maybe check back here, if you happen to care still.
Dan and Alan talk 'About a Boy,' 'Star-Crossed,' 'Growing Up Fisher' and more
Happy Monday, Boys & Girls!
We interrupt your holiday for an hour of Sepinwall coughing!
No, I kid. Alan has a cold, but he set aside its ravages for a thrilling podcast covering this week's new shows -- "Star-Crossed," "About a Boy" and "Growing Up Fisher" -- plus some Listener Mail and other stuff.
Next week, the video show will return and the podcast will shift back to Wednesday. Unless Alan breaks something else.
"Star-Crossed" (00:01:50 - 00:13:50)
"About a Boy" (00:14:15 - 00:27:00)
"Growing Up Fisher" (00:27:05 - 00:39:20)
Listener Mail: Late-Night transition and location (00:39:45 - 00:48:15)
Listener Mail: Crossovers (00:48:20 - 00:56:10)
Greta Gerwig and "How I Met Your Dad" (00:56:10 - 01:02:20)
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.
Sunday's skiing and skating were way below last week's numbers
Fast National ratings for Sunday, February 16, 2014.
NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics from Sochi was down significantly from last Sunday, despite significantly less network competition, though the coverage was up from a sluggish Friday and Saturday.
Facing a combination of skiing and ice dancing, the other networks mostly punted on Sunday with "60 Minutes" the only non-repeat competition.
There was ample competition of cable, of course, and it seems inevitable that AMC's "The Walking Dead" easily beat the Olympics overall, not that we'll know for sure for a few hours.
On to the numbers...
Prison dramedy was No. 2 in HitFix's Critics' Poll for 2013
Viewers who marathoned "House of Cards" on Friday and Saturday got a special unannounced surprise courtesy of Netflix.
Slipped in at the end of the "House of Cards" run was the first formal reveal of a second season premiere date for "Orange Is The New Black."
'Enlisted' repeat outdraws last week's original
Fast National ratings for Friday, February 14, 2014.
Was NBC's Sochi coverage sluggish on Friday night because the men's figure skating competition yielded an American-free medal podium?
Were ratings low because Friday was also Valentine's Day?
Or was Friday slow just because it was Friday?
The answer is probably "All of the above."
No matter where you put the blame, Friday night yielded NBC's lowest numbers of the 2014 Olympics, even with normally reliable figure-skating as a centerpiece. Still, NBC beat the combined totals for the other four networks in all measures.
Thanks to the Olympics and Valentine's Day, the other networks took Friday off, basically, so there aren't any other real notables, though you may be interested that an encore of the "Enlisted" premiere outdrew last week's original?
On to the numbers.