Breaking through an early summer of weak ratings, Monday night actually offered many glimmers of hope for the five networks.
At the top of the heap were ABC, which won overall with the rising "The Bachelorette," while FOX scored a narrow win among young viewers with building episodes of both "MasterChef" and "24: Live Another Day."
But that wasn't the only good news.
NBC's "American Ninja Warrior" got a good week-to-week bump and actually ranked as Monday's top show in the key demographic.
The CW's impressively reliable "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" did good numbers in its summer premiere and boosted the return of the inexplicably renewed "Beauty and the Beast" to numbers that almost could explicate the renewal.
LONDON - The first thing that has to be said here is that Tom Cruise's suit from "Edge of Tomorrow" is heavy as heck. It's not just styrofoam or some space-age polymer and it certainly isn't Tom Cruise running around in a green leotard that will be replaced by CGI later.
It's metal. It's weighty. It's constricting. And it's really hard to breathe in, much less deliver a stand-up for HitFix, much less deliver dialogue or attempt to act.
Last week, on a rainy Monday outside of London (also known as "a normal Monday"), I was at Leavesden Studios where the bulk of "Edge of Tomorrow" was filmed and I got to try on Tom Cruise's actual suit from the movie.
One of the things FX's "Fargo" does best -- and it does many things well -- is taking disparate elements that, from the outside, don't seem like they ought to mesh and then folding them into the batter so fluidly that you can't believe you ever questioned their compatibility in the first place.
In this respect, "Fargo" is an expertly made frittata, somehow light and fluffy despite a seeming surplus of ingredients.
The ingredients added most recently were Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key, known to Comedy Central fans as Key & Peele. Peele and Key made their first appearance in last week's "Fargo" playing FBI agents Pepper and Budge, introduced sitting in a car outside of an office building that is soon to become the scene of a major massacre. Yes, the character names made me thing of East-West Bowl. Yes, I briefly flashed to other skits from their repertoire -- "Soul Food," their "Wire" parody -- but that flash was ever-so-brief. In no time, Peele and Key were just part of the "Fargo" universe.
The process of integrating Budge and Pepper into the "Fargo" world continues in this Tuesday's episode, as we see the career ramifications from what Lorne Malvo did under their watch.
I'm spoiling nothing when I say that this week's "Fargo" would be a good one to watch live.
With Key otherwise indisposed, I got on the phone this week with Jordan Peele to discuss how this paired role came about, their initial reservations and why "Fargo" is such a fertile space for acting experiments.
With Emmy season approaching -- Ballots go out next week! -- FOX is making a pitch to make sure that voters don't forget how much they might have liked "Sleepy Hollow" when it aired in the fall and early winter.
TV critics didn't forget. Last week, "Sleepy Hollow" earned a Best New Show nomination for the Television Critics Association Awards.
In advance of a big Monday (June 2) evening event at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, "Sleepy Hollow" stars Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie stopped by HitFix's offices to chat about one of the biggest pleasant surprises of the 2013-2014.
When I saw the pilot last summer, I liked its unrepentant craziness, but wondered about its ability to retain that crazy across 13 episodes. Not only did the mixture of witchcraft, pseudo-Biblical mumbo-jumbo, American mythology and American history maintain its lunacy, but it built on its character relationships in amusing and sometimes emotional ways.
A lot of the credit for the show's grounded appeal goes to Mison and Beharie, who had an instant rapport from the pilot on.
In this sit-down at the HitFix offices, we discuss the unexpected success of the first season, the shocking cliffhanger finale and the importance of keeping that momentum going.
Although "Sleepy Hollow" is three episodes into production on the second season, we barely talked at all about that, because I didn't suspect they were going to be forthcoming with spoilers. And that's not really what I care about anyway.
Check out the first half of the interview above.
And the second half below.
And look for "Sleepy Hollow" on Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX this fall.
NBC formally announced its fall 2014 premiere dates on Monday (June 2) morning and they're mostly in the officially Nielsen-dictated premiere week, with a few key stragglers including "Marry Me" and "Constantine."
Yes, that's pretty boring, but that's what comes from being TV's top-rated network. CBS has been hopelessly devoted to the official premiere week for decades.
There are a couple shows premiering early: Sunday Night Football kicks off on Thursday, September 4 and more linguistically appropriately on Sunday, September 7. And the 16th installment of "The Biggest Loser" starts on Thursday, September 11.
ABC's two-hour "Bachelorette" special was weak outside of the series' normal Monday home, but still helped the network tie "Cosmos"-fueled FOX for the Sunday night crown among young viewers. Overall, CBS led the way with "60 Minutes," which was Sunday's most watched show.
Despite an admirable guerrilla promotional campaign from the show's creator and stars, canceled-but-beloved "Enlisted" failed to make even a small ripple in its return to primetime, coming in below a repeat of "American Dad." [The "Enlisted" demo number was steady with its most recent Friday airing back in March. But that's not exactly good news.]
There was better news, not that it matters, for NBC's canceled "Believe" and "Crisis," which were both up week-to-week.
Scoot McNairy had a resume of TV guest spots and indie movie roles when he appeared as one of the two leads in the minimalist creature feature "Monsters." The low-budget film didn't exactly set the global box office on fire, but it served as a calling card for its director, Gareth Edwards.
It also positioned McNairy for a run of character actor ubiquity with memorable roles -- if you happened to see the films -- in "Killing Them Softly," "Promised Land" and "Touchy Feely." He has also become a Best Picture lucky charm with important parts in "Argo" and "12 Years a Slave."
McNairy transitions to TV leading man status in Sunday (June 1) night's premiere of AMC's "Halt and Catch Fire."
In the '80s-set computer drama, McNairy plays Gordon Clark, formerly promising computer wizard who has put many of his ambitions on hold to try to live a more stable life with his wife (fellow "Argo" veteran Kerry Bishe) and kids. Frustrated and disappointed at the direction his career has taken, Gordon gets recruited by newly arrived hotshot Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace) for an ethically problematic project that might be his second and last chance.
LONDON - My dad took me to see "Into the Woods" during its original run in 1988.
It was my first Broadway show and Stephen Sondheim's twisted take on classic fairy tales has been amongst my favorite musicals ever since. It's full of beautiful, complicated music and I notice new lyrical nuances every time I listened to the soundtrack.
So I wasn't just blowing smoke when I told Emily Blunt that I'm looking forward to Rob Marshall's big screen adaptation, which will premiere this Christmas.
I was talking with Blunt at a London hotel last week about her upcoming action film "Edge of Tomorrow" -- I agree with my colleague Drew McWeeny's enthusiastic review -- and I made sure to slip in an "Into the Woods" query at the end.
"I think we have been very, very loyal to the original musical," Blunt told me. She's playing The Baker's Wife, a role which won Joanna Gleason a Tony and Imelda Staunton an Olivier for the New York and London premieres.
In the snippet above, Blunt talks about Marshall's dark vision for The Woods and the musical chops for a cast that includes Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Johnny Depp, Chris Pine and James Corden.
It's clear that she's excited about the movie and I love the little grace note at the end with Blunt geeking out about her interactions with Sondheim.
Stay tuned next week for my full "Edge of Tomorrow" interview, in which Blunt talks about doing action in a weighty suit, killing Tom Cruise (not a spoiler) and her interest in sci-fi-tinged films about fate.
Bucking years of delayed gratification and withholding, CBS and "The Amazing Race" announced the show's Season 25 cast on Saturday (May 31) morning, just hours after the contestants left the starting line in New York City.
In recent years, it has become an annual tradition for "Amazing Race" enthusiasts to be able to cobble together the identities of between 85 and 100 percent of the teams based on purloined cell phone pictures snapped from airports and outside challenges around the globe, images that were then matched with cryptic tweets and obscure Facebook status updates to the point of near-certainty. Despite those reports, though, CBS reliably waited until weeks before premiere for a full, formal casting announcement.
The reason for the Season 25 deviation is simple: Rather than picking a starting line in a remote location or at a controllable venue like a stadium, the 11 participating teams left Times Square earlier this morning from the civilian-packed Times Square and there isn't much point in keeping up the pretense of secrecy when you begin the Race in front of thousands of picture-snapping tourists.