Happy Monday, boys and girls! It's the last Firewall & Iceberg video show of the year. After a week off due to technical difficulties, Dan and I are back to look ahead to some of 2014's most promising premieres before we get into specific talk about three premieres: "Community," "Downton Abbey" and ABC's "The Assets." (Aka, Firewall & Iceberg: Accent Cops!) Plus, we look back on some of our favorite episodes of shows that didn't make our respective top 10s.
The time breakdown:
- TV Previews 2014
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That the low-rated "Community" is returning to NBC on Thursday night at 8, for a fifth season, with creator Dan Harmon back at the helm a year after he was fired, defies all logic. But then, "Community" has never had much use for logic. The comedy — and the dysfunctional community college that provides its setting — has always operated by its own set of rules, consistently pulling off ideas that have no business working. At its best — and Harmon's first few episodes back get much closer to the show's peak than I was expecting — it is a marvelous contraption fueled equally by a love of pop culture and a commitment to character, that can do kitchen-sink realism one week and a stop-motion animated Christmas adventure the next.
HBO just aired the series finale of "Tremé" — you can read my review of the finale here — and as I often do when that show ends a season (or "The Wire" before it), I got on the phone with co-creator David Simon to talk about it.
But though we talked about a few specifics of the final season — for instance, what decisions he and Eric Overmyer had to make about how to work within a reduced budget that allowed them to make 5 episodes rather than the 10 or 11 of previous seasons — the conversation mostly veered into a discussion of where Simon finds himself at this stage of a critically-revered but commercially-unsuccessful career. As he notes at one point, he's now been a TV producer longer than he was a newspaper reporter, but he still isn't sure he quite belongs in the business — "I don't think I have demonstrated that I'm a particularly good fit for television" — and wonders if might leave HBO for another creative "insurgency," or leave the medium altogether.
So lots of that, and about the reactions to the series over the years, all coming up just as soon as I kill the rest of the day making myself pretty...
"Tremé" has come to an end. I had a lengthy interview with co-creator David Simon about the final season — but more, ultimately, about the past, present and future of his career — and I have a review of the series finale coming up just as soon as my shoes feel like science projects...
So remember how Fienberg and I spent much of 2013 talking about the very high-class problem of Too Much Good TV? Remember how each of us wound up having to do top 25 lists (mine & his), and at least one Best of the Rest list, in an attempt to recognize even a decent portion of all that quality?
Well, it looks like 2014 has the potential to be even stronger than this year was.
In a little over a week, the winter Television Critics Association press tour is starting, which means we've been deluged with screeners for many the notable network and cable shows debuting over the next month or two. It's an intimidating pile in terms of both quantity and quality. HBO's "True Detective" already feels like it has a very high position secured for next year's top 10 list, for instance. Had it debuted in the fall as planned, FOX's "Enlisted" would have put nearly all of the other first-year comedies to shame. "Community" is coming back with Dan Harmon at the helm again, and early returns are promising. "Justified" and "Shameless" and "Archer" are coming back in the next couple of months. Sundance is debuting another original series in "The Red Road." Netflix will give us new seasons of "Orange Is the New Black" and "House of Cards." "Sherlock" finally gives us its third season. "Hannibal" is back at the end of February, earlier than expected. The new seasons of "Game of Thrones" and "Mad Men" will presumably be on in their usual spring windows.
So even without "Breaking Bad," "Enlightened," or a few other shows that made one or both of our best-of lists for 2013, 2014 does not appear to be lacking for impressive stuff.
Dan, Liane Bonin Starr and I picked out some of the premieres — for both new and returning shows — we're most excited about, along with other notable premiere dates that we know about. We're not even really getting into shows for summer, or for next fall ("Boardwalk Empire" should be back then, for instance), but just covering the winter and what little we know about early spring. But buckle up and start carving out some time and some DVR space, kiddies. Looks to be a fun ride.
Back in mid-September, "Breaking Bad" gave us its best episode ever in "Ozymandias, on the exact same day I wound up in the hospital with a burst appendix and a bad infection. I watched, and wrote about, "Ozymandias" only hours after surgery, while very high on painkillers, and though my review was not full gibberish, it was gibberish enough that it's nagged at me ever since.
So the following is an attempt to get right what once went wrong, possibly "Quantum Leap"-style, by writing the review I wish I could have written back on September 15. I can't promise it won't be colored by things that happened in the ensuing "Granite State" or "Felina," so if you happen to be coming to this review years from now as a person lucky enough to be watching "Breaking Bad" for the first time, you may want to read the semi-coherent original review and return to this later.
A whole lot of thoughts on "Ozymandias" coming up just as soon as I remind you to put on your seat belt...
Perhaps the most notable aspect of the Great Quality TV Deluge of 2013 was how much of it came from brand-new series. It was an insanely good freshman class, not just from expected sources, like FX offering up another terrific prestige drama in "The Americans" or Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan's great partnership on "Masters of Sex," but from outlets that had never really made their own shows before. The year's most acclaimed new series was on Netflix — and it wasn't even "House of Cards," which got the most hype, but "Orange Is the New Black" — while channels like Sundance and BBC America alsogot in on the fun.
Happy holidays, Firewall & Iceberg fans! We didn't want to guarantee a Worst Of podcast, just in case there was not time to get it done before year's end, but it turns out that there was time! So Dan and I sat down for an hour and went back and forth on some of the worst and/or most disappointing television we watched in 2013. Lots and lots of Angry Dan in this one! Enjoy, and travel safe, everybody! The rundown:
TV's Worst of 2013 - 00:00:00 - 01:04:30
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A review of tonight's "Tremé" coming up just as soon as I open a Young Republicans club...