<p>&quot;Duck Dynasty.&quot;</p>

"Duck Dynasty."

Credit: A&E

'Duck' blinders: When sitcom tropes and reality TV characters collide on 'Duck Dynasty'

How much reality is required for today's biggest 'unscripted' hits?

It's a popular trope in science fiction to ask at what level of artificiality does a person stop being a person. If you have a prosthetic leg, you're still you, but if you're down to only a few original organs — or if your brain gets put into a robot body — is that still the case?

I've found myself thinking of those questions, oddly, while watching some recent episodes of "Duck Dynasty." The reality show about a Louisiana family who sell duck hunting merchandise is a monster hit, drawing ratings — last week's episode attracted 8.6 million viewers and a whopping 3.9 rating among adults 18-49 — that puts it in the same neighborhood as the most popular shows on the broadcast networks. NBC would kill to have a sitcom do 2/3 as well as "Duck Dynasty." In fact, the only comedies on any networks doing those kinds of numbers are "Big Bang Theory," "Modern Family" and "Two and a Half Men."

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 178: 'Rectify,' Amazon pilots, 'Mad Men' & more

Dan and Alan also discuss the 'Suburgatory' finale and answer your mail

The

After last week's longest-ever Firewall & Iceberg Podcast episode, Dan and I were back to a more normal length — and the new normal apparently means 90+ minutes — in what would have been a light week if Amazon hadn't suddenly decided to crowdsource 80-billion new TV pilots. So we talked about those, and "Rectify," and "Mad Men" as usual, and also found time to post-mortem "Suburgatory" season 2 and answer a few letters.

The lineup:

"Rectify" (00:00:50 - 00:14:55)
Amazon pilots including "Zombieland," "Onion News Empire," "Browsers" and "Alpha House" (00:15:00 - 00:43:15)
Listener Mail: Changing episodic structure (00:43:35 - 00:51:05)
Listener Mail: Successful summer dumps (00:51:45 - 00:57:00)
"Suburgatory" finale (00:57:00 - 01:12:35)
"Mad Men" (01:12:40 - 01:36:10)

 

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.

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<p>&quot;Happy Endings&quot; hero Max (Adam Pally) will get to compete in a gay pageant, after all.</p>

"Happy Endings" hero Max (Adam Pally) will get to compete in a gay pageant, after all.

Credit: ABC

ABC reschedules lost 'Happy Endings' episodes

Sitcom was one of many Friday shows bumped by news coverage from Boston

On Friday, developments in Boston were so crazy and fast-moving that it was unclear throughout the day which, if any, network primetime shows would actually air that night. For a brief window, it looked like "Happy Endings" was going to air another of its Friday double-features, and I posted a sneak preview clip (embedded again at the top of this post), but of course all the networks wound up pre-empting their primetime schedules to focus on what had happened in Watertown.

With the "Happy Endings" finale tentatively scheduled for this coming Friday, it was unclear what would happen to those two episodes set for last week. For a few days, the episodes were available on Hulu, iTunes, etc., and it looked like ABC might just skip airing them altogether. Today, though, it was decided to just slide the scheduling a week. So last week's episodes will now air this Friday at 8 & 8:30, and the season's final two episodes will air at the same time on Friday, May 3. Because of this, the episodes are no longer available online (though if you already bought them off of iTunes, score.) 

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<p>In &quot;Rectify,&quot;&nbsp;Daniel (Aden Young)&nbsp;faces the press after being released from prison.</p>

In "Rectify," Daniel (Aden Young) faces the press after being released from prison.

Credit: Sundance

Review: Sundance's 'Rectify' a slow but gripping story

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A Death Row prisoner readjusts to life after an unexpected release

"I hate to say it," Daniel Holden's stepbrother admits, by way of explaining why they've never gotten to know each other, "but we all thought he'd be dead by now, anyway."

This is the story of Daniel's life, and non-death, as depicted in the beautiful new Sundance Channel series "Rectify" (it debuts tonight at 9 with back-to-back episodes; the first three hours are already available On Demand). Convicted as a teenager for the rape and murder of his high school girlfriend, Daniel (played by Aden Young) has spent the last 19 years on Death Row, retreating further and further inward, preparing for the moment when he departs the earth once and for all.

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<p>Kristen Bell in the &quot;Veronica Mars&quot;&nbsp;episode &quot;A&nbsp;Trip to the Dentist.&quot;</p>

Kristen Bell in the "Veronica Mars" episode "A Trip to the Dentist."

Credit: UPN

Exclusive: 'Veronica Mars' movie brings in series veteran Diane Ruggiero

With Rob Thomas consumed with Kickstarter responsibilities, it helped to have a second voice

The "Veronica Mars" movie's reunions won't only take place in front of the camera. Rob Thomas needed help writing the script, so he recruited one of the show's original — and best — writers in Diane Ruggiero to do it with him.

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<p>Christina Hendricks as Joan in &quot;Mad Men.&quot;</p>

Christina Hendricks as Joan in "Mad Men."

Credit: AMC

Review: 'Mad Men' - 'To Have and To Hold'

Don and Pete go after ketchup, Joan hosts an old friend and Megan gets a juicy storyline (at work)

A review of tonight's "Mad Men" coming up just as soon as I imagine Joe Namath in a straw hat...

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<p>Emilia Clarke in &quot;Game of Thrones.&quot;</p>

Emilia Clarke in "Game of Thrones."

Credit: HBO

Review: 'Game of Thrones' - 'And Now His Watch Is Ended'

Daenerys, Varys and Jaime are all seeking revenge, but who actually gets it?

A review of tonight's "Game of Thrones" coming up just as soon as the shrubbery has ears...

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<p>Ray McKinnon on the set of his Sundance series &quot;Rectify.&quot;</p>

Ray McKinnon on the set of his Sundance series "Rectify."

Credit: Sundance

'Rectify' creator Ray McKinnon on his beautiful, contemplative Sundance series

A drama about a Death Row prisoner released into a world he no longer feels a part of
If you’ve been watching cable drama over the last decade, you probably know the face and rich as molasses voice of character actor Ray McKinnon. He was the joyful, doomed Reverend Smith on “Deadwood” and inscrutable federal prosecutor Linc Potter on “Sons of Anarchy,” among other roles.
 
But McKinnon has had a second career through these years as an independent filmmaker. He won an Oscar in 2002 for his short film “The Accountant,” which he shared with his friend and frequent collaborator Walton Goggins, and has written and directed several other films.
 
Starting Monday night at 9 on Sundance Channel, McKinnon gets to combine these two parts of his career with “Recitfy,” a new series that’s part of Sundance’s push to join the scripted drama big leagues with HBO, AMC, et al. The series tells the story of Daniel Holden (Aden Young), a rural Georgia man who spends 19 years on Death Row for the rape and murder of his high school girlfriend before being released through new DNA evidence. The six episodes of the first season (the first two air back-to-back on Monday) each depict consecutive days in Daniel’s new life after his release, as he struggles to adjust to freedom while his sister Amantha (Abigail Spencer) and others try to protect him from the many people in town who still believe he’s guilty.
 
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<p>On &quot;Happy Endings,&quot;&nbsp;Max (Adam Pally, right)&nbsp;tries to perfect his eye-roll.</p>

On "Happy Endings," Max (Adam Pally, right) tries to perfect his eye-roll.

Credit: Sony

HitFix First Look: On 'Happy Endings,' Max enters a gay pageant

Can he get his eye-roll perfect?

On what's been a strange, harrowing day of news from Boston, it's nice to have an occasional distraction. So if you'd like to turn away from the city on lockdown for a laugh, we've got an exclusive clip from the first of tonight's two "Happy Endingsepisodes.

In "The Ballad of Lon Sarofsky," the gang pushes Max to get a job so he can stop sponging off of them. His response is to sign up for the Mr. Super Gay Chicago pageant. As you can see in this clip (embedded at the top of this post), it does not go smoothly.

That episode is supposed to air at 8, followed by another new one at 8:30, but there's a chance one or both may be pre-empted by, naturally, news coverage from Boston. So enjoy the laugh while you can.

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<p>Mads Mikkelsen as &quot;Hannibal.&quot;</p>

Mads Mikkelsen as "Hannibal."

Credit: NBC

NBC to skip 'Hannibal' episode in wake of Boston tragedy

A sensitive decision, but prepare to be slightly confused on Thursday

NBC has decided not to air the fourth episode of "Hannibal" because it features the murders of children (by other children, no less) and would air not long after the tragedy at the Boston Marathon.

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