<p>&quot;Mad Men&quot;&nbsp;creator Matthew Weiner is one of the &quot;Difficult Men&quot;&nbsp;profiled in Brett Martin's new book.</p>

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner is one of the "Difficult Men" profiled in Brett Martin's new book.

Credit: AMC

'Difficult Men' author Brett Martin on the era that gave us 'The Sopranos,' 'Mad Men' & more

What was it like to watch James Gandolfini act? Which creators were easier to get along with?

Over the years, it's given me no end of amusement to witness how often two different networks will develop what seems at first to be the exact same show in the exact same season, whether it's hospital dramas in Chicago ("ER" and "Chicago Hope" in 1994), adults traveling back in time to teenage years ("That Was Then..." and "Do Over" in 2002) or slackers with super powers ("Chuck" and "Reaper" in 2007). Even though many of these doppelgangers turn out to be fairly different in execution, something always seems fishy about the claims that the one show didn't know at first that the other existed, and that "there was just something in the air" that led to them both existing at the same time.

After recent events in my own life, I may have to start taking these claims at face value. As most of you know, I published a book last fall called "The Revolution Was Televised: The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever," about the transformation in television that happened as a result of groundbreaking new dramas like "The Sopranos," "The Wire" and "Deadwood." Very late in the process of writing it, I learned that another book about this same era, and many of these same shows, was in the works: "Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad," by magazine journalist and author Brett Martin.

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<p>Liev Schreiber is &quot;Ray Donovan.&quot;</p>

Liev Schreiber is "Ray Donovan."

Credit: Showtime

Review: Showtime's 'Ray Donovan' a fixer story with flaws

HitFix
C+
Readers
C
Liev Schreiber, Jon Voight and company star in an assembly gritty drama

The late David Mills wrote for some of the best dramas of the last 20 years, including "The Wire," "Treme," "NYPD Blue," "Homicide" and "ER." But before that he was a journalist and a critic, and he always had a tendency to look at his new industry from the viewpoint of his old one, and to have an unyielding standard for shows that aspired to play in the same ballpark as the ones he'd been lucky enough to work for.

When I was a younger critic, I would often grow enamored of some new show because of its creative pedigree, or an impressive cast, until Mills would cut through all of that and ask me, "Why does this show exist? What does it have to say about its premise that's interesting and distinctive? Why am I watching for anything besides the names and a few good performances?"

I have a feeling Mills would not think too kindly of "Ray Donovan," the new Showtime drama that's debuting Sunday night at 10.

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<p>On &quot;Raising Hope,&quot;&nbsp;Garret Dillahunt's Burt got bar mitzvah'ed this year.</p>

On "Raising Hope," Garret Dillahunt's Burt got bar mitzvah'ed this year.

Credit: FOX

If I Had An Emmy Ballot 2013: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Celebrating the men of '30 Rock,' 'Louie,' 'Raising Hope' and more

Part 8 of our journey through the Emmy ballot brings us to our final acting category, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. As always, Fienberg will attempt to rank the contenders from most likely to least likely to be nominated, throwing in a bunch of preferential wild cards along the way. And, as always, I will pretend that I am an actual Academy member who has a ballot and therefore has to narrow his choices down to six people.

Same rules apply: we are working off of the actual Emmy ballot, so we can't nominate people who didn't submit themselves (like if I wanted to nominate Tony Hale for "Arrested Development" rather than "Veep"), and we have to consider people in the category they submitted themselves for, even if that means supporting actors submitting as leads (Rob Lowe, every year, including this category) or vice versa (Amy Schumer as supporting for a show that's named after her). I also have to feel like I've seen enough of a representative sample to pick someone; Peter Capaldi has been brilliant on "The Thick of It," which is now Emmy-eligible due to its run on Hulu, but I haven't seen any of the Hulu episodes, so I can't consider him.

Dan's exhaustive analysis is here, and embedded below (click Launch Gallery to see it), and my picks are coming right up.

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<p>Laura Dern on &quot;Enlightened.&quot;</p>

Laura Dern on "Enlightened."

Credit: HBO

If I Had An Emmy Ballot 2013: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

The women of 'Parks and Recreation,' 'Enlightened,' 'Bunheads' and more

Part 7 of our journey through the Emmy ballot brings us to Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. As always, Fienberg will attempt to rank the contenders from most likely to least likely to be nominated, throwing in a bunch of preferential wild cards along the way. And, as always, I will pretend that I am an actual Academy member who has a ballot and therefore has to narrow his choices down to six people.

Same rules apply: we are working off of the actual Emmy ballot, so we can't nominate people who didn't submit themselves (like if I wanted to nominate Tony Hale for "Arrested Development" rather than "Veep"), and we have to consider people in the category they submitted themselves for, even if that means supporting actors submitting as leads (Rob Lowe, every year) or vice versa (Amy Schumer as supporting for a show that's named after her). I also have to feel like I've seen enough of a representative sample to pick someone; I'm too far behind on "Veep," for instance, to seriously consider reigning Emmy winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Dan's exhaustive analysis is here, and embedded below (click Launch Gallery to see it), and my picks are coming right up.

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<p>Dean Norris as Big Jim in &quot;Under the Dome.&quot;</p>

Dean Norris as Big Jim in "Under the Dome."

Credit: CBS

Series premiere: 'Under the Dome' - 'Pilot'

What did everybody think of how CBS adapted the Stephen King novel?

I published my review of CBS' Stephen King adaptation "Under the Dome" on Sunday. Now it's your turn. What did everybody else think of the pilot? Did a svelter Dean Norris work for you in a more prominent role than he usually has as Hank Schrader? Did you like Mike Vogel as the mysterious Barbie? Was Junior creepy or campy? And do you find this town and its inhabitants compelling enough to spend a summer watching? 

I understand Brian K. Vaughan and company have made some significant departures from the book. Nevertheless, let's keep any book discussion as vague as possible, if not ignoring it altogether, rather than let this turn into a "Game of Thrones" situation. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to cover this weekly; I'll have to see what I feel about the next few episodes, but I can try to at least put up brief discussion posts about them.

In the meantime, have at it.

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 188: 'Mad Men,' 'Under the Dome,' 'Hannibal' & more

Dan and Alan also pay tribute to the late James Gandolfini and Gary David Goldberg

The

Even before the tragic deaths of James Gandolfini and Gary David Goldberg, Dan and I were looking at splitting this week's Firewall & Iceberg Podcast into two installments. Once we lost those two TV giants, the decision to split was easy. So you get tribute talk, an "Under the Dome" review and finale discussion of "Mad Men" and "Hannibal" today, and later in the week you'll get "Dexter," "Ray Donovan" and our pilot rewatch of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." 

The lineup:

James Gandolfini & Gary David Goldberg (00:2:10 - 00:20:30)
"Under the Dome" (00:20:40 - 00:27:05)
"Hannibal" (00:27:10 - 00:47:50)
"Mad Men" (00:47:50 - 01:39:25)
 
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, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.
 
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
<p>On &quot;Mad Men,&quot;&nbsp;Bob Benson (James Wolk) was introduced as a foil for Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser). </p>

On "Mad Men," Bob Benson (James Wolk) was introduced as a foil for Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser).

Credit: AMC

'Mad Men' creator Matthew Weiner on season 6

What happened with Avon? Why did Don's ads keep omitting the product? And what was challenging about writing 1968?

The penultimate season of "Mad Men" has come to an end — and a hell of an end it was, as I discuss in my review of the finale. I also spoke with series creator Matthew Weiner about Don's choices (and their consequences), the secret origin of Bob Benson, the way history intruded on fiction like never before, and more, all coming up just as soon as I get to that sandwich on my desk before you do...

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<p>Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the &quot;Mad Men&quot;&nbsp;season finale.</p>

Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the "Mad Men" season finale.

Credit: AMC

Season finale review: 'Mad Men' - 'In Care Of'

Don has memories of chocolate, Ted makes a decision about Peggy and Pete takes a drive

And so another season of "Mad Men" — the penultimate, in fact — has come to an end. I have a review of the season finale coming up just as soon as I drive a Camaro through your lobby...

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<p>In &quot;Under the Dome,&quot;&nbsp;fiancees Natalie Martinez and Josh Carter find themselves on opposite sides of the barrier.</p>

In "Under the Dome," fiancees Natalie Martinez and Josh Carter find themselves on opposite sides of the barrier.

Credit: CBS

Review: CBS' 'Under the Dome' gets off to a good start

HitFix
B
Readers
C+
Brian K. Vaughan does a solid adaptation of the story about a town trapped inside an invisible barrier

As the last real broadcast network left, CBS doesn't need to experiment as much as its competitors. They're all trying to invent new rules for the business, while CBS still manages to make money and find big audiences under the old rules.

Every now and then, though, the good ol' Eye Network will try something different, and the premiere of "Under the Dome" tomorrow night at 10 seems like one of its more intriguing experiments of late.

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<p>In &quot;Crossing Lines,&quot;&nbsp;Tom Wlaschiha, Moon Dailly and Willam Fichtner are cops from Germany, France and America.</p>

In "Crossing Lines," Tom Wlaschiha, Moon Dailly and Willam Fichtner are cops from Germany, France and America.

Credit: NBC

Review: NBC's 'Crossing Lines' takes 'Criminal Minds' formula to Europe

HitFix
C-
Readers
C
An international cast and locations wasted on the same old, same old

In the new NBC drama "Crossing Lines" (Sunday at 9 p.m.), character actor William Fichtner plays Carl Hickman, a legendary former NYPD detective, whose career ended with a disability. He now lives in a trailer behind an Amsterdam carnival and has a job picking up trash with a stick, which seems about all he's capable of, physically or emotionally, until French colleague Louis Daniel (Marc Lavoine) recruits him for a new, extra-fancy international crime task force. This group, consisting of cops from France, England, Ireland, Germany and other countries, will investigate crimes that transcend any one jurisdiction, with each member providing both a different cultural perspective and their own unique skill set (the Irish cop specializes in weapons and tactics; the German one has lots of cool gadgets). And all they need to be complete is Carl and his gift for criminal profiling.

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