From 'Smash' to 'Newsroom' - TV's Worst of 2012 from The Fien Print

From 'Smash' to 'Newsroom' - TV's Worst of 2012 from The Fien Print

Vampires, news anchors, thespians and aspiring stars make the Bottom 10
If you've listened to the Worst of 2012 Firewall & Iceberg Podcast that posted on Monday afternoon, you've heard several of these rants already and you also probably heard the rules that I set for my "Worst" lists.
 
The most important rule is that in order for a show to make my "Worst" list, I have to actually watch it. There's no point in me telling you that "Dance Moms" is awful, because what do I know? I've watched 10 minutes of "Dance Moms." That's not enough.
 
It's also not enough for me to have hated a pilot. The "Beauty and the Beast" pilot was the worst hour of TV that I watched in 2012, but five minutes into the second episode, I gave up. I understand that some of my colleagues don't play by these rules, but I've seen too many shows start off with awful pilots and then improve. "Neighbors" and "Chicago Fire" both were listed among my Worst New Shows of 2012. I kept watching "Neighbors" enough to see that it's an average and inoffensive comedy, not good enough for me to keep watching after four-ish episodes, but probably not bad enough to include in this gallery. And I actually found myself somewhat liking "Chicago Fire" after the first handful of episodes. It's not great, but it has a season pass on my DVR and I watch episodes while I'm folding laundry or building galleries like this one. 
 
Sometimes networks help me keep their shows in this gallery. If "Work It" had aired a full season, there's no chance I'd have watched it for long enough to justify its inclusion, but because ABC pulled the cross-dressing alleged comedy after the two episodes I watched, it has a place of dishonor here. CBS did roughly the same with "Partners," pulling the Monday dud just as it became too unbearable for me to watch.
 
Most of these are shows that I watch because I used to like them or shows that I regularly watch because they're simply too central to the ongoing dialogue in the industry that I cover for me to quit on them. And some of them are shows that I made sufficient commitment to that I figured I might as well see them to the end. 
 
There are three shows making repeat appearances from my Worst of 2011 Gallery. But there's only one show that's made my Worst Of... lists three years running.
 
Anyway... The gallery is below. Check it out!
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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 163 - Worst of 2012

Dan and Alan discuss their least favorite TV shows of the year

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls.
 
Last week, Sepinwall & I celebrated TV's Best of 2012
 
As Santa Claus would tell you, it's pleasant to put together a "nice" list, but it's MUCH more fun to penalize the kids who have been naughty.
 
That's why we're dedicating what will probably be our last Firewall & Iceberg of 2012 to handing out lumps of coal. And there are plenty to go around.
 
And because we recorded this podcast on Friday, pretty much at the second that AMC announced the Glen Mazzara-free renewal for "The Walking Dead," we talked for a bit about the potential ramifications for the zombie drama. Since very little has changed or evolved in that particular story, I doubt that the segment will seem too outdated. 
 
The breakdown:
"The Walking Dead" without Glen Mazzara (00:01:00 - 00:10:55)
The Worst of 2012 (00:11:00 - 01:11:00)

 

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.] 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

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Top 10 TV Shows of 2012 from The Fien Print

Top 10 TV Shows of 2012 from The Fien Print

Sports docs, meth cooks, ad men and more top Dan Fienberg's list
Assuming you're even a semi-regular reader/listener, my Top 10 TV Shows of 2012 list probably isn't a mystery to you at this point.
 
My Top 10 list was part of HitFix's First Annual Critics' Poll and then Sepinwall & I went over both of our Top 10 lists in our Best of 2012 Podcast on Wednesday.
 
So you know my Top 10 and you've heard me discuss it, but you've never heard me do voiceover for my Top 10 list over the terrifically edited clips courtesy of our ace HitFix video team!
 
As I said on the podcast, No. 1-8 was pretty solid. I knew the eight shows that were guaranteed placement in my Top 10. The last two slots? Well, that's a bit more slippery. I'm absolutely happy with No. 9 and No. 10, because they're two of my favorite shows, but if No. 11-15 from my Second 10 had taken those slots? That would have been fine, too. In fact, the shows in my Second 10 are pretty near-great themselves and I'll post that list next week, probably. Hell, the shows in my "Honorable Mention" field that'll accompany my Second 10 are very good as well. 
 
I say this every year and it's always true: If anybody tries saying, "There's nothing good on TV" or "TV is crap" or "All there is on TV is bad reality," they're morons. I don't know if the top tier of scripted television is as good as the "Golden Age" folks like to talk about, but in terms of sheer volume of reasonable quality? I'm not sure things have ever been better.
 
A case-in-point would be my No. 3 show. Not only did it not make a single other Top 10 in the HitFix Critics' Poll, but I'd wager that 85 percent of my colleagues never watched a second of it and at least 40 percent of them didn't know it existed. And it's GREAT.
 
So give my Top 10 video a watch. I'm not listing the shows here in text form, but I'll do that when I post my Second 10, plus it's available on the site elsewhere. This post is for the video.
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<p>&quot;Survivor: Philippines&quot; winner Denise</p>

"Survivor: Philippines" winner Denise

Credit: CBS

Interview: Denise Stapley discusses her 'Survivor: Philippines' win

The Sole Survivor talks about her path to the 'Survivor' million
We've reached the end of the "Survivor: Philippines" exit interview road, which means we've reached the peak.
 
In the past three days, you've read my interview with popular 4th place finisher Malcolm Freberg, as well as the conversations with Mike Skupin and Lisa Whelchel, who made it to the Finals, but received only one vote apiece. 
 
That brings us to the million dollar winner, Denise Stapley. Calm, analytical, tough Denise, who made an alliance with Malcolm on Day One and chose exactly the right moment to separate from that alliance and stand on her own, received six of eight Jury votes to comfortably take the title of Sole Survivor. 
 
A sex therapist from Iowa, Denise was strong in challenges and masterfully read the competition in her confessional segments. And if she was sometimes just a wee bit too blunt when it came to taking down lesser players -- Sorry, Abi -- it made her look decisive compared to the wishy-washy Tandang duo she faced at the Jury.
 
In her exit interview, Denise discusses that Jury, including the harsh reactions from Malcolm and Jonathan Penner (who both voted for her anyway).  She also talks about the "Survivor" advantage that came from her profession, as well as the difficult journey from a struggling early tribe to victory.
 
Click through for the final "Survivor: Philippines" exit interview...
 

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<p>The &quot;X Factor&quot; Season 2 Top 3</p>

The "X Factor" Season 2 Top 3

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Season 2 Finale - The Winner Is...

Carly Rose Sonenclar, Tate Stevens and Fifth Harmony spend two hours waiting on results

From now on, whenever a reality show features a contrivance that clearly hoses one contestant and gives a big boost to others, I'm going to refer to it Rimesing, in honor of "The X Factor" taking co-favorite Carly Rose Sonenclar and forcing her to perform with the desiccated remains of LeAnn Rimes on Wednesday's finale. LeAnn Rimes was so disconnected from reality and so musically dreadful that she dragged an amazingly young singer down with her and made Tate Stevens the prohibitive favorite going into Thursday's finale. And Fifth Harmony now seems like the plausible spoiler. And poor Carly Rose Sonenclar will always wonder if she could have won if she hadn't been Rimesed.

Or maybe I'm about to be surprised?

Click through for two full hours of live-blogging before we get to results...

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<p>Lisa Whelchel of &quot;Survivor: Philippines&quot;</p>

Lisa Whelchel of "Survivor: Philippines"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Lisa Whelchel talks 'Survivor: Philippines'

The former Blair Warner talks about her run to the Final 3
As befits her past as a child sitcom star, the beginning of Lisa Whelchel's "Survivor: Philippines" journey was a joke.
 
Best knew as Blair Warner on "Facts of Life," Lisa struggled to understand the facts of "Survivor" and coasted to the Merge seemingly at the bottom of a Tandang alliance, frequently uncertain and frequently in tears. Lisa seemed unprepared for the elements and also unprepared for the social aspect of the game and she remained around because her tribe was unbeatable. 
 
Then, something shifted. In a bold move, Lisa attempted to orchestrate a game-changing blindside on strong and popular Malcolm. The move failed spectacularly, but it displayed Lisa's willingness to play "Survivor." 
 
After a brief regression into regret, Lisa bounced back after a visit from younger brother Justice, as she began taking control of her own fate, aligning with and then backstabbing Malcolm and taking the most powerful player out of the game. In the end, Lisa and Mike Skupin finished tied for second behind winner Denise, but audiences respected the journey that Lisa took from meek to somewhat-mighty and gave her the fan-voted Player of the Game.
 
In her exit interview, Lisa talks about that journey, including the impressive fact that in 39 days only Jonathan Penner and Skupin recognized her from her sitcom glory. We discussed her strategy, the moment she realized she couldn't actually win and the faith that she demonstrated vocally in her last days in the game.
 
Click through for the full conversation.
 

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<p>Fifth Harmony</p>

Fifth Harmony

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' Season 2 Finale - Performances

Demi Lovato, LeAnn Rimes and Little Big Town join the finalists

If you can measure a reality show's clout or buzz by the acts clamoring to be involved with its finale, FOX has to be absolutely terrified by how chilly "The X Factor" is. 

It was previously announced that Thursday's whopping two-hour finale would feature performances by One Direction, who have already performed two songs on "X Factor" this season and owe their entire career to Simon Cowell and the show, and Pitbull, an artist so desperate for exposure that he'd probably appear at a well-attended bar mitzvah.

That was a bad sign.

Then came Wednesday's (December 19) announcement that finalists Carly Rose Sonenclar, Tate Stevens and Fifth Harmony would duet on tonight's show with LeAnn Rimes, Little Big Town and Demi Lovato, respectively.

That's right. Tonight's big guests are an "X Factor" judge who didn't have anything else to do, a country singer more notorious for tabloid exploits than anything in her recent music output and a reasonably successful country act with only moderate crossover appeal. That's... weak.

Why is Carly Rose Sonenclar being asked to sing with a less vocally gifted singer in a genre she's never displayed any interest in? Is Demi singing with Fifth Harmony because they did one of her songs once? And are they keeping Tate from doing a duet with a female artist because they don't want to alienate voters who think Tate only has chemistry with his wife? 

I'm very confused. 

On to tonight's recap!

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 162 - Best of 2012

Dan and Alan discuss their favorite TV shows of the year

The

Happy Wednesday, Boys & Girls!
 
With the end of the year rapidly approaching, it's time for The Firewall & Iceberg's Best of 2012 Podcast.
 
You may already know our respective Top 10s either from HitFix's TV Critics' Poll or from Sepinwall's Top 10 and Top 20 lists, but you haven't heard us chatter about them.
 
And yes, we're planning on doing a Worst of 2012 Podcast. It'll probably record this week and then post on Monday as a pre-Christmas treat for those who like that sort of thing!
 
Please note that I'm not doing a time breakdown for this podcast because it's more than 20 back-and-forth segments on various shows and I'm not eager to go insane. However, we were both fairly conscious of not spoiling plotpoints, particularly when discussing our favorite dramas (we spoil some comedy stuff, but that's probably OK...). I can't guarantee that you can listen to this podcast and remain 100% pure on spoilers on shows like "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men" and "Homeland," but I think we're close to 98 percent pure. Maybe 99 percent?

 

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.] 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

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Naomi Watts discusses the real life inspiration for 'The Impossible'

Naomi Watts discusses the real life inspiration for 'The Impossible'

SAG and Golden Globe nominee has praise for co-star Tom Holland
Naomi Watts has played her share of real people.
 
In addition to appearing in biopics like "Ned Kelly" and "J. Edgar," Watts starred as Valerie Plame in "Fair Game" and she'll be playing Princess Diana in a 2013 film. 
 
J.A. Bayona's new disaster film "The Impossible" tells the true story of a family of tourists who are separated from each other in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, with Watts' Maria and son Lucas (Tom Holland) split off from husband Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their younger sons (Samuel Joslin and Oaklee Pendergast). 
 
The real-life Maria Belon worked hand-in-hand with screenwriter Sergio G. Sanchez to bring the story to the big screen and took an active role in guaranteeing the story was told properly, making her perhaps the most invested and available of the actual people Watts has played over the years.
 
I sat down with Watts a couple weeks ago to talk about the role Maria Belon played in shaping her character, as well as the preparation that went into the harrowing film. [Check out the behind-the-scenes footage that plays with the interview. It's insane.]
 
Watts, who has subsequently been nominated for a SAG Award and a Golden Globe for her performance, also talked about her confidence in sharing most of her scenes with movie-acting neophyte Holland and with the challenges of crafting a character like this when working out-of-sequence.
 
Check it out...
 
"The Impossible" opens Friday (December 21) in limited release and goes nationwide on January 4.

 

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<p>Mike Skupin of &quot;Survivor: Philippines&quot;</p>

Mike Skupin of "Survivor: Philippines"

Credit: CBS

Interview: Mike Skupin talks 'Survivor: Philippines'

Returning player avoided falling into the fire and made the Top 3
More than any of the returning players on "Survivor: Philippines," Mike Skupin was an enigma. 
 
Jonathan Penner had played twice and we knew what to expect from him.
 
Russell Swan was a mystery, because barely anybody remembered him, but saying he was an enigma implies people had given him thought.
 
But Mike Skupin? He killed a pig. He fell into the fire. But for the full decade after his departure from "Survivor: The Australian Outback," he was always the show's great "What if?"
 
After seeing Skupin make it to the end of a "Survivor" season, some of the uncertainty has been cleared up. Even 11 years older, Skupin remains a formidable challenge force and a strong, uncompromising personality. And he made a strong alliance with Lisa Whelchel and knew when to break up his old alliance, which took him all the way to the finale. 
 
Something was still missing from Skupin's game. He and Lisa only got one Jury vote apiece, losing to Denise, who Skupin was determined to take to the end because he was sure she was more beatable than Malcolm. He misjudged the Final 3 strategy and based on some of the less-than-complimentary reactions from his fellow castaways, he misjudged several of parts of the social game.
 
In our exit interview, Skupin mostly filibustered. He didn't answer several of my questions and dodged a couple others. He was, however, very happy to discuss whether or not he's accident-prone in his everyday life [a question I rushed to when it became clear I wasn't getting anything on my original approaches]. So there's that.
 
Click through for the full interview...
 
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