<p>Red of &quot;Utopia&quot;</p>

Red of "Utopia"

Credit: FOX

TV Ratings: 'Talent' leads NBC while 'Utopia' becomes Dystopia for FOX Tuesday

CBS' 'Fashion Rocks' special tanks

Fast National ratings for Tuesday, September 9, 2014.

"America's Got Talent" led NBC to easy Tuesday wins in all measures, with "Big Brother" performing well in its new temporary time period.

Tuesday's big story, though, was probably the dismal premiere for FOX's "Utopia," which got a reasonable sampling after football on Sunday night, but plummeted to essentially untenable levels in its first airing in what was supposed to be its home for an entire year.

Fortunately, FOX has nearly two weeks to reconceive its lineup.

Also doing dismal numbers on Tuesday was CBS' two-hour "Fashion Rocks" special, though fortunately CBS doesn't need to worry about airing this one again.

On to the numbers...

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<p>&quot;Utopia&quot; host Dan Piraro</p>

"Utopia" host Dan Piraro

Credit: FOX

Interview: 'Utopia' narrator Dan Piraro explains his bizarro journey to FOX reality

The syndicated cartoonist explains how he's a different sort of FOX host

After Sunday night's premiere of FOX's "Utopia" much of the conversation was about embarrassingly alcoholic contestants, poorly concealed pregnancies and pixelated nudity.

But garnering nearly as much conversation as Huntress Hex, Drunken Buffoon Josh and Polyamorous Dedeker was the show's on-screen narrator, the immaculately dressed, carefully mustachioed Dan Piraro.

I chatted with Piraro on Sunday afternoon after seeing only a few early minutes of footage, which was enough to know that he could hardly be more different from FOX's legacy of reality hosts ranging from Ryan Seacrest to Mario Lopez to Monica Lewinsky to Cat Deeley.

It isn't just the infinitely twirlable facial hair or the fact that "Utopia" enlisted a frontman who has passed out of FOX's coveted 18-49 demographic. 

Piraro arrives on "Utopia" with an established career in a field rarely mined for reality hosting gigs. Since 1985, Piraro's single-panel comic "Bizarro" has been syndicated in hundreds of newspapers, offering a wry, absurdist and often politicized glimpse at contemporary life. "Bizarro" has been reprinted in 16 collections, while Piraro has also written books of prose and traveled the country with a one-man comedy show. So even if aspects of "Utopia" feel like a marginally less raunchy "Paradise Hotel," Dan Piraro is no Amanda Byram.

In this Q&A, Piraro discusses the strange journey that brought him to "Utopia" and what he hopes to convey as the show's narrator and how he's different from Ryan Seacrest.

Click through before tonight's new "Utopia."

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<p>&quot;Friday Night Lights&quot;</p>

"Friday Night Lights"

Credit: NBC

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 245

Dan and Alan discuss 'Utopia,' 'New Girl,' 'Mindy Project' and the 'Leftovers' finale

The

Happy Tuesday, Boys & Girls!

After a couple weeks of Wednesday podcasts, it's back to Tuesday with a busy show. 

In this installment, we actually remembered to discuss the season's penultimate back of "Friday Night Lights" Season 2 episodes, we discussed the finale of HBO's "The Leftovers," we previewed next week's premieres of FOX's "New Girl" and "The Mindy Project" and we spent as much time on FOX's "Utopia" as Alan could stand.

Here's today's breakdown:
"Utopia" (00:00:50 - 00:12:40)
"New Girl" Season 4 (00:12:45 - 00:22:40)
"Mindy Project" Season 3 (00:22:45 - 00:30:45)
Listener Mail: "Veronica Mars" viewing and TV paintball (00:30:50 - 00:41:30)
"The Leftovers" finale including Listener Mail (00:41:40 - 01:07:30)
"Friday Night Lights" Season 2 (01:07:55 - 01:44:20)

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.

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<p>Monday&#39;s &quot;MasterChef&quot;</p>

Monday's "MasterChef"

Credit: FOX

TV Ratings: 'MasterChef,' football-skewed 'Bachelor in Paradise' finale lead Monday

NBC's 'Running Wild' and 'American Ninja Warrior' finales are solid

Fast National ratings for Monday, September 8, 2014.

A two-hour block of "MasterChef" led FOX to a Monday night victory among young viewers, while ABC is celebrating series highs for "Bachelor in Paradise," winning the night overall.

ABC is trumpeting those "Bachelor in Paradise" numbers, but also acknowledging that the numbers are fundamentally bunk, with the network no doubt receiving a rather huge boost from NFL preemptions in New York and Detroit. 

In short, don't expect "Bachelor in Paradise" to remain anywhere near these numbers when Final Live+Same Day figures come in. 

When it comes to other, less inflated, numbers, after last week's Labor Day-generated low, CBS' "Under the Dome" bounced back to its regular levels, as did NBC's season finale for "Running Wild with Bear Grylls."

On to the numbers...

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<p>The cast of &quot;Utopia&quot;</p>

The cast of "Utopia"

Credit: FOX

TV Ratings: Colts-Broncos action leads NBC past FOX's Sunday 'Utopia' premiere

CBS' 'Big Brother' beats 'Utopia' in 8 p.m. matchup

Fast National ratings for Sunday, September 7, 2014.

The Sunday night premiere of Sunday Night Football led NBC to a commanding primetime win, topping CBS' strong "Big Brother" installment, which in turn beat FOX's so-so debut for "Utopia."

"Utopia," a heavily promoted year-round reality experiment got a solid sampling among young viewers ahead of its Tuesday premiere, but FOX will have to wait and see how much of that carries over and how much was delivered courtesy of an NFL lead-in.

While the numbers are sure to change dramatically in Final Live+Same Day ratings, "Utopia" drew over 6.15 million viewers and a 2.6 key demo rating in its first half-hour and was down to over 3.8 million viewers and a 1.6 key demo for its last half-hour. The retention could have been better, but the drop could have been worse. We'll see what Tuesday looks like.

On to the numbers...

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<p>Anna Friel of NBC&#39;s &quot;Odyssey&quot;</p>

Anna Friel of NBC's "Odyssey"

Credit: NBC

Take Me To The Pilots '14: NBC's 'Odyssey'

'Traffic'-esque political thriller aims high, only sometimes hit

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

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<p>ABC&#39;s &quot;The Whispers&quot;</p>

ABC's "The Whispers"

Credit: ABC

Take Me To The Pilots '14: ABC's 'The Whispers'

Scary kids are scary, Milo Ventimiglia is mopey, but not much else is happening

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

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Walking Duh: AMC gives 'Walking Dead' companion series a pilot order
Credit: AMC

Walking Duh: AMC gives 'Walking Dead' companion series a pilot order

Dave Erickson and Robert Kirkman are writing the zombie spinoff

Guess what? AMC has given a pilot order to its currently untitled "Walking Dead" companion series.

What? You'd assumed the "Walking Dead" companion series had already just been given a series order? Well, not exactly.

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<p>Seahawks QB Russell Wilson</p>

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson

Credit: AP

TV Ratings: Packers-Seahawks NFL opener leads NBC Thursday

'The Quest' stays low against big NBC, CBS competition

Fast National ratings for Thursday, September 4, 2014.

The Thursday night premiere of NBC's Sunday Night Football -- program listings are silly -- pitting the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks against the perennially contending Green Bay Packers helped NBC dominate primetime in all measures.

While the Thursday kickoff was down a bit from last year's Ravens-Broncos opener, NBC is still calling this the third highest rated Thursday NFL Kickoff game ever in metered markets. And, of course, it goes without saying that these are preliminary ratings and will likely understate the numbers for the game itself.

Despite the football, the night only other piece of major original programming, CBS' "Big Brother," was actually up week-to-week, while ABC's "The Quest" was flat.

On to the numbers...

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<p>Richard Sammel of &quot;The Strain&quot;</p>

Richard Sammel of "The Strain"

Credit: FX

Interview: 'The Strain' co-star Richard Sammel on Nazis, vampires and how he's like Jean-Claude Van Damme

German actor also discusses Eichorst's makeup routine

For the past two months, viewers have been disturbed and unsettled by Richard Sammel's performance as Eichorst, the Nazi concentration camp guard turned vampire apocalypse facilitator, on FX's "The Strain." 

Playing both the human (but inhuman) Nazi version of Eichorst and his steely, arrogant contemporary incarnation, Sammel has given very different monstrous shadings to his role.

That's why it's a bit funny to Skype up with the smiley, voluble Sammel and have him immediately cackle in pleasure at being able to identify my mogwai avatar from "Gremlins,"  before he very politely asks me to switch on my webcam so that we can see each other as we chat.

Sammel is in a good mood because it's the first sunny day in Paris for a while. Or maybe he just genuinely enjoys talking about his part in the FX vampire drama, which was recently renewed for a second season.

"I think basically bad guys in TV or movies, mostly blockbuster movies, they often are very much reduced to their dramatic function, doing bad things so that the hero can shine. But a bad guy becomes interesting when you can follow his motivations," Sammel says.

When it comes to motivations, Sammel suggests that he has done nearly 100 movies and he's only worked in a Nazi context in 22 of them, a fact he accepts as "generational guilt."

Sammel, who speaks more languages than you do better than you do (or more languages than I do better than I do), talks in long, articulate bursts, giving answers that sometimes range over 1000 words. Fortunately, they're thoughtful and often funny words and in our 30 minute conversation, I found that he was anticipating my follow-up questions with some frequency.

Honestly, I could have talked about the "generational guilt" idea and how it relates to a show about vampires for the full interview, but I also wanted to talk with Sammel about Eichorst's complicated makeup routine and getting to do stunt work in recent episodes.

Sunday (September 7) night's episode of "The Strain" is a big one for Sammel. Check out the full Q&A below. And be sure to read it in your head using Sammel/Eichorst's German accent...

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