Inside Television with Alan Sepinwall
The English actress has to play a lawyer who grew up in the Garden State
Janet Montgomery, center, with her "Made in Jersey" siblings
Martina Garretti, the heroine of CBS' upcoming new drama "Made in Jersey"
(it debuts on Sept. 28) is a Garden State girl through and through. She comes from a big family in Clifton, and though she commutes across the Hudson every day to work as a junior associate at a fancy Manhattan law firm, she doesn't try to hide her accent, her days as a prosecutor in Trenton, or any of her other Jersey roots.
The actress playing Martina, on the other hand? She has quite a bit to hide, as CBS went way outside the state — outside the country, in fact — to cast English actress Janet Montgomery
to play the role. Montgomery has played Americans before, most recently as a San Francisco jewel thief on FOX's "Human Target," but never as the lead of a show, and never in an accent made so famous by Carmela Soprano and the women of "Real Housewives of New Jersey."
I sat down with Montgomery at the television critics press tour last month to ask about what she's learned about the region, whom her accent is based on, and more.
What did everybody think of the new NBC sitcom?
Andrew Rannells, Ellen Barkin and NeNe Leakes in "The New Normal."
I reviewed NBC's "The New Normal" over the weekend. Now it's your turn. For those of you who watched the premiere tonight, what did you think? Was it funny? Offensive? Both? Neither? Did you like the Andrew Rannells character, or did you feel the two baby-as-accessory jokes sold him out? Do you want to watch Ellen Barkin spew racist and/or homophobic slurs 22 times a season for seasons on end? Did the celebrity cameo delight you or just remind you of various "Glee" moments?
Most importantly, are you going to watch again? Unlike most premieres this fall, that choice comes upon you almost immediately, as the next episode will be airing tomorrow night at 9:30.
Have at it.
Showtime previews the first episode in advance of September 30 premiere
Mandy Patinkin in the "Homeland" season 2 premiere.
"Homeland" doesn't return to television until Sunday, September 30 at 10 p.m., but Showtime made the first 20 minutes of the season 2 premiere available online and On Demand, both to whet the appetites of subscribers and to convince other people to sign up before the month is over.
The preview is supposed to be available on Demand on over 40 cable and satellite providers, including Comcast, Cox, DirectTV, Dish, Time Warner Cable and Verizon, and it's also online right now, as you can see below. Enjoy, and we'll be back to discuss the full thing on the 30th.
Lots of great characters matched with lots of goofy plots for the motorcycle club drama
Jax (Charlie Hunnam) sits at the gavel on the new season of "Sons of Anarchy."
Creating television is not an exact science. For every show that debuts as a fully-formed entity ("The Shield," "The Sopranos," "Arrested Development"), there are plenty that struggle early on but improve dramatically over time, usually when they return for their second seasons, having had a few months to examine what worked and what didn't in the debut year. For some shows ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Breaking Bad," "Parks and Recreation"), that creative leap taken in year 2 is one that sticks, while for others (say, "Chuck") it represents an early peak, where all the elements consistently click in a way that didn't often happen before or after.
I had hoped "Sons of Anarchy" was one that made it to the next level and stayed there, but as the motorcycle club drama enters its fifth season tomorrow night at 10 p.m. on FX, it's clear that incredible second year was the exception and not the rule.
Rory's father tags along on a delightful space adventure
Karen Gillan, Matt Smith and Arthur Darvill in "Doctor Who."
A review of tonight's "Doctor Who" coming up just as soon as I have balls in my trousers...
Lots of attention-getting jokes, but not a whole lot of funny ones
Andrew Rannells and Justin Bartha want a baby in "The New Normal."
Every showrunner in the TV business can make a good pitch for his or her show. That's part of the development process where an idea becomes a script, and then a pilot, and then a series. If you can't sell your show verbally, chances are it won't exist, and I've sat through press conferences and interviews listening to producers enthusiastically, unapologetically sing the praises of absolute trash.
I'm not sure there's a wider gap between pitch and reality than the one I continually find with Ryan Murphy
, co-creator of "Glee," "American Horror Story," and now "The New Normal,"
an NBC sitcom debuting Monday night at 10 before moving to a regular Tuesday at 9:30 timeslot the next night.
Scott and Stonebridge are under attack on all sides in the start of a new two-parter
Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton in "Strike Back."
As I said a couple of weeks ago, "Strike Back" is one of those shows I deeply enjoy but don't usually have a ton to say about. But I thought the just-concluded two-parter with Stonebridge and Scott defending their shabby little fort against overwhelming odds was pretty splendid. And tonight's episode begins a new two-parter that puts the machinations of Tywin Lannister (or whatever name Charles Dance is going by in this series) more into focus while also advancing the character arcs for the revenge-fueled Stonebridge and for Scott.
I've got an exclusive clip of tonight's episode, with the guys trying to escape an ambush, but I also thought I'd use this post as an opportunity for the handful of "Strike Back" fans we have around here to discuss the season so far. Have at it.
Dan and Alan also review the new season of 'Parenthood'
It's a late-week Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, thanks to Dan's international travels (which we discuss briefly at the start), in which we start looking ahead to next week's premieres of "The New Normal," "Parenthood" and "Sons of Anarchy" while also looking back to the "Breaking Bad" finale and to pilots that recast performers — not always for the better. As we warn you near the end, the next podcast may also not be on Monday, but we'll get to "Boardwalk Empire" and friends eventually.
(Also, for those wondering, here's this week's theme song, which is damn catchy.)
"The New Normal" (00:03:40 - 00:22:10)
"Parenthood" (00:22:15 - 00:34:30)
"Sons of Anarchy" (00:34:30 - 45:50)
Listener Mail on pilot changes (00:45:55 - 00:56:25)
"Breaking Bad" (00:57:15 - 01:22:45)
How much do Gilligan and his writers know about the series finale? And was Mike too sloppy?
Anna Gunn and Bryan Cranston in a scene from the "Breaking Bad" mid-season finale.
There have been times when Vince Gilligan has known from the start of a "Breaking Bad" season exactly how it was going to end (the plane crash of season 2), and other times where he and his fellow writers have had to improvise (they realized midway through season 3 that the Cousins were too dangerous to plausibly hang around forever, and as a result killed them off and made Gus into the new big bad).
As Gilligan and his writing staff have begun work on the final 8 episodes of the AMC drama, they're taking an approach that's a little from Column A and a little from Column B, where they have an idea of what's going to be happen but are open to changing that idea if something better comes along.
I spoke with Gilligan about planning the ending of the series, and also about several of the key developments of the first half of this final season, up through the final images of Sunday's mid-season finale.
Kaling created and stars in the new FOX sitcom
Mindy Kaling in "The Mindy Project."
is not exactly Kelly Kapoor, the character she's played for the last eight seasons of "The Office" (where she also served as a writer over that time). She's much smarter and more articulate and, at first glance, less vindictive. Nor is Kaling exactly Mindy Lahiri, the OB/GYN character she plays on the upcoming FOX sitcom "The Mindy Project,"
which she created and stars in. (It debuts on September 25, but the pilot is already streaming on Hulu
.) But Kaling shares with her two alter egos an obsession with pop culture in general and romantic comedy in particular — she spends much of "The Mindy Project" pilot getting into trouble for assuming that life works exactly like a Meg Ryan movie — and an enthusiastic, fast-talking style.
I spoke with Kaling at the TV critics press tour about the new show, the old show, how "The Mindy Project" evolved from a "Bridget Jones"-style love triangle in the pilot to something else, being an Indian-American woman fronting (and producing) her own sitcom, and more.