<p>Thursday&#39;s NCAA Tournament action</p>

Thursday's NCAA Tournament action

Credit: AP

TV Ratings: CBS' NCAA Sweet 16 coverage leads Thursday, lowers 'Blacklist'

'Scandal' also slips, while 'Bones' has an OK return for FOX

Fast National ratings for Thursday, March 26, 2015.

Round of 16 coverage from the NCAA Tournament helped CBS score Thursday victories overall, in the key demographic and in all male demographics. 

While "Scandal" was down, "Grey's Anatomy" ticked up a hair and helped ABC win most of the female demos for the night, though usually these stories don't break down the ratings numbers like that.

Basketball helped eat into last week's bump for NBC's "Blacklist" and probably prevented "Backstrom" from getting any bump from an OK return for "Bones."

Oh and expect these ratings to shift, of course, due to the nature of live events.

On to the numbers...

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<p>Haaz Sleiman of &quot;Killing Jesus&quot;</p>

Haaz Sleiman of "Killing Jesus"

Credit: National Geographic Channels/Kent Eanes

National Geographic's 'Killing Jesus': Tales from the Morocco set

HitFix was on the Morocco set with Haaz Sleiman, John Rhys-Davies and more

OUARZAZATE, MOROCCO. Officially, the Moroccan city of Ouarzazate is nicknamed "The door of the desert," resting south of the High Atlas Mountains and on the edge of the Draa Valley.

Thanks to the presence of Atlas Studios, though, Ouarzazate is perhaps more appropriately known as The Hollywood of Central Morocco, or perhaps even The Hollywood of Morocco.

Ouarzazate has a population of just over 50,000, but in late October of 2014, that population includes a disproportionate number of Jesuses, Judases and an absurd number of Marys, both Jesus' mom and of the Magdalene variety. 

It's late October of 2014 and Ouarzazate is the beating heart of TV's Biblical world.

"It's a very holy town right now," laughs Haaz Sleiman, one of the Ouarzazate Jesi -- Yes, that should be the name of a fantasy baseball team -- specifically playing the title role in National Geographic's "Killing Jesus," the project that has brought me to this region.

The check-in desk at the Kenzi Azghor hotel, my primary residence for three Moroccan days, is littered with maps of the city and basic tourist information, but also call-sheets for "Killing Jesus," as well as the myriad competing productions.  There's "Bible" sequel "A.D." There's a Jesus-based television documentary that's shooting reenactment footage. And then there's Spike TV's "Tut," which isn't Biblical. A lot of the casting revealed on the call-sheets hasn't even been reported in the Hollywood industry press, but somehow nobody at the Kenzi Azghor is worried about scooping Deadline on the secret identity of Mark Burnett's Caiaphas.

It creates strange circumstances.

"I dined, had lunch with one of them," Sleiman says of rival Jesuses. "I've laughed with another. I never met the third one. Maybe he's not real, I don't know. Maybe he doesn't exist."

And it creates an odd and inevitable competition that Sleiman insists isn't a competition at all.

"Definitely not competition," Sleiman insists. "I mean, you know, I was not in competition but I've seen other people, like producers, who say, 'Our Jesus is better than their Jesus.' I was definitely not part of that competition because that's not very Jesus-like of me.."

For me, there's no competition either. "Killing Jesus," based on the book by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard, is the project I'm in town for. 

The film premieres on NatGeo on March 29, 2015.

What follows are notes from three days on the "Killing Jesus" set, during which time a small group of reporters -- four, including HitFix, representing "secular" press, another 10-ish writing for various religious sites -- talked with Sleiman and fellow stars including Eoin Macken (Antipas), Kelsey Grammer (Herod), John Rhys-Davies (Annas) and Joe Doyle (Judas Iscariot), as well as director Christopher Menaul.

Insights and hopefully amusing tidbits -- plus some pictures, both mine and NatGeo's -- follow...

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<p>Craig T. Nelson</p>

Craig T. Nelson

Credit: NBC

'Coach' follows 'The X-Files' and 'Twin Peaks' to primetime resurrection

Craig T. Nelson will be back as stay and EP. And yes, this is real.

Once upon a time, TV shows died and people were sad, but they moved on. 

But then peanuts earned "Jericho" another season and Deadline.com earned "Breaking In" another season and Netflix got all resurrection-y with "Arrested Development" and "The Killing" and "Longmire."

Then FOX gave "24" new life as a limited series and audiences were like, "What a glorious age we live in."

And Showtime got David Lynch and Mark Frost to say they were going to do more "Twin Peaks" and TV fans danced around with their favorite log.

And earlier this week, Chris Carter, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson decided the time was right to do another six episodes of "The X-Files" and we all kneels and declared, in the words of Wayne and Garth, that we were not worthy.

On Thursday (March 26) afternoon, NBC announced that the magnificent Lazarus machine that is TV 2015 had given new life to...

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<p>Kerry Bish&eacute; of &quot;Halt and Catch Fire&quot;</p>

Kerry Bishé of "Halt and Catch Fire"

Credit: AMC

'Halt and Catch Fire' sets a May return

AMC has set a Sunday, May 31 return for the second season of "Halt and Catch Fire."

As was previously revealed, "Halt and Catch Fire" will hop forward to early 1985 and will follow the development of Mutiny, the start-up founded by Cameron (Mackenzie Davis) and joined by Donna (the awesome Kerry Bishé) at the end of the first season.  Scoot McNairy and Lee Pace also star, while Toby Huss is awesome and will return.

But wait. No more spoilers. 

Not enough of you watched "Halt and Catch Fire," which went through some first-season growing pains last year, but matured into something really interesting by the end. If you haven't watched, episodes are available through Tuesday, April 7 on AMC.com and AMC OnDemand.

Then on Wednesday, April 8, the first season will go up on Netflix, making catchup even easier.

"To our passionate core audience and the critics who loved the show through Season One – we thank you sincerely for your support. Season Two won't disappoint. We're going to drill down even deeper into these characters we've created, to give you all the emotional and psychological depth you've come to expect from ‘Halt and Catch Fire,’ while at the same time evolving the show to be brasher and even more addictive," blurbs showrunner Jonathan Lisco in the AMC premiere release.

I actually have a really good Season 1 look-back interview with Lisco that I should post around that Netflix premiere, eh?


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Credit: History

'Vikings' raids and pillages a 4th season on History

History's flagship drama series "Vikings" has been renewed for a fourth season.

Including Live+3 numbers, the third season's first five "Vikings" episodes are averaging 4.3 million viewers, including 2 million in the 18-49 demo, making its renewal a no-brainer.

"'Vikings' has raided the hearts of both audiences and critics, establishing itself as one of the most compelling, visually stunning dramas on television," blurbs History EVP and General Manager Dirk Hoogstra. "We are so proud of our immensely talented cast and crew led by Michael Hirst, whose intriguing storylines and pivotal arcs have the perfect balance of scope, smarts and bloodshed to keep our loyal fans watching and wanting more."

The Season 3 "Vikings" finale will be April 23.

When I asked Michael Hirst in January if he was already looking forward to a bigger-and-badder Season 4, he quickly agreed.

"Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We haven't finished with Paris for a start. No, I do know," Hirst said. "It's just every season I have to up the ante and I have to figure out, 'Let's do a different kind of a battle.' That's one thing. If you're just getting these armies of CGI warriors going from left to right and then from right to left you actually, I think, have to have different kinds of battle experiences. So that's what I'm doing at the moment actually."

Revisit that Hirst conversation here.

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<p>Wednesday&#39;s &quot;Criminal Minds&quot;</p>

Wednesday's "Criminal Minds"

Credit: CBS

TV Ratings: 'Empire'-free FOX dips as 'Survivor,' 'Criminal Minds' top Wednesday

'Arrow' rises for The CW, while ABC and NBC see general declines

Fast National ratings for Wednesday, March 25, 2015.

The departure of "Empire" from the Wednesday landscape didn't drive audiences back to its 9 p.m. competition, but the spring juggernaut's absence did allow  "Survivor" to carry CBS to victory among young viewers, while "Criminal Minds" led overall.

"Criminal Minds" actually slipped slightly from its last original airing opposite "Empire," as did "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and "Modern Family," which returned from a couple weeks away to a big drops.

On the positive side, The CW's "Arrow" rose from last week, but didn't help "Supernatural."

Let's get to the numbers...

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<p>Sierra of &quot;Survivor: Worlds Apart&quot;</p>

Sierra of "Survivor: Worlds Apart"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Worlds Apart' - 'Odd Woman Out'

Good things always happen when you throw challenges. Right?

Pre-credit sequence. We begin at Nagarote, as I try to remember where we left off and what the names of the tribes were. Shirin is sad to have been blindsided and to have lost Max. "I don't know that I can trust you," Carolyn tells Shirin, further shunting her aside. Shirin protests that Max made her isolate herself, but Carolyn is being rough, making it clear that she wants no part of the newly solitary Shirin. "Is anybody left in this game willing to play with me?" Shirin ponders, wondering if this is a reflection on her. Hali levels with Shirin and tells her that Max had been annoying and that people felt like she was annoying as well. Ouch. This hits home for Shirin, who grew up rich, but not popular. So sad. I guess. Kinda. "I'm trying to do now what I was incapable of doing back then, which is deal with it, adapt, fix it," she promises.

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<p>The &quot;American Idol&quot; Season 14 Top 11 and Boy George</p>

The "American Idol" Season 14 Top 11 and Boy George

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' Season 14 - Top 9 '80s Night and Double-Elimination

After last week's Save, two people are definitely going home tonight

We're only two weeks into this season's "American Idol" Finals and The Save is gone. 

The "Idol" judges opted to Save Qaasim Middleton last week. Were they protecting the entertainment factor that Qaasim brings to the show? Were they rewarding Qaasim for bringing energy to an episode that had lacked energy? Were they recognizing that America's voting has, thus far, been wonky as heck this season?

Either way, Wednesday's (March 25) episode of "American Idol" is going to be a double-elimination episode, meaning that there are 11 remaining contestants, but presumably only nine are going to sing. This will change the entire architecture of the episode. Plus, FOX is boasting an appearance by Salt and/or Peppa, following last week's big Kenny Loggins appearance. Whee!

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<p>Willa Holland</p>

Willa Holland

'Arrow' star Willa Holland talks Speedy, pull-ups and on-set injuries

Where is Thea Queen in her grief cycle over Sara's death?

The "Flash"/"Arrow" PaleyFest 2015 purple carpet tip sheet contained the usual pictures of actors and a listing by name. In the cases in which alternate identities have been revealed, those were listed as well, so it was "Oliver Queen/Arrow," "Laurel Lance/Black Canary," "Roy Harper/Arsenal."

Poor Thea Queen's name was listed without an alter ego, even though Oliver's formerly bratty little sister has undergone a major change this season, going from whiny club kid to club owner/nocturnal butt-killer under the tutelage of her nefarious father Malcolm.

While an assortment of random references and traits have left many "Arrow" fans figuring that Thea's emergence as Speedy was just a foregone conclusion,  nobody is willing to make that pronouncement official, including star Willa Holland.

On the purple carpet, I talked with Holland about Thea's transformation this season and the guilt from Sara Lance's death that still drives her. We also talked about her own physical transformation that she says has her on the verge of a successful pull-up. But with great training and increased stunt responsibilities come hidden dangers and Holland also talked about her recent on-set injuries

Check out the full video interview above. And also watch my interviews with Katie Cassidy and Stephen Amell and, of course, Emily Bett Rickards discussing Felicity's Jewishness.

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<p>Tuesday&#39;s &quot;Person of Interest&quot;</p>

Tuesday's "Person of Interest"

Credit: CBS

TV Ratings: 'Voice,' 'One Big Happy' dips help 'NCIS'-led CBS win Tuesday

'Person of Interest' and 'Hell's Kitchen' don't drop on a sluggish night

Fast National ratings for Tuesday, March 24, 2015.

"NCIS" and "NCIS: New Orleans" led CBS' overall primetime rout, while "Person of Interest" toppled a special "Night Shift" to help CBS score a slim Tuesday win among young viewers as well.

"NCIS: New Orleans" was up over its last airing and "Person of Interest" added viewers.

Most of Tuesday's non-CBS offerings were down, including "The Flash," "iZombie" and "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." NBC's "The Voice" took a dip and the 9 p.m. comedy block of "Undateable" and "One Big Happy" fell accordingly.

One of the few shows to at least stay flat was FOX's "Hell's Kitchen," but even the season finale of "The Mindy Project" was down a hair from an already low point.

Let's get to the numbers...

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