Inside Television with Alan Sepinwall
How did the two dramatic heavyweights work together on horseracing series?
When I heard a couple of years ago that David Milch, Michael Mann and Dustin Hoffman had teamed up to write, direct and star in an HBO drama about the world of horseracing — the finished product, "Luck," debuts Sunday night at 9 — my initial reaction was that I was almost as eager to see a fly-on-the-wall documentary about the making of such a show as I was to see the show itself.
Timothy Dalton and Linda Hamilton join in the fun, and Chuck and Sarah get hitched and
"Chuck" airs its series finale Friday night at 8 on NBC, and it's time for the penultimate installment of our 5-part retrospective interview with creators Chris Fedak and Josh Schwartz, to discuss the show's fourth season.
Schwartz actually only cameos at the beginning of this one, as he had to leave early to attend a meeting for another show he works on. After he left, Fedak and I took a ride to the empty stage on the Warner Bros. lot that used to house the Buy More set, to get one last look at a place where so many crazy things (including shootouts, sexy entrances and the inaugural Jeffster! performance) had happened over the life of the series.
What did everybody think of Marg Helgenberger's farewell?
I don't write about "CSI" very often, but wanted to note tonight's departure of Marg Helgenberger from the cast after over 260 episodes. William Peterson's been gone a while now, and though Ted Danson has worked out quite well after the problematic Laurence Fishburne era(*), Catherine has been just as important to the show as the various leading men. Where Grissom exemplified the brains, Catherine (who was very smart in her own right) was where the heart was centered. Among the reasons I've always preferred original recipe "CSI" to the spin-offs is that I liked the characters better, and Catherine and the way she related to everyone else was a huge part of that.
What did everybody think of the new FOX drama?
I posted my review of FOX's "Touch" yesterday. Now it's your turn. How did you feel about Kiefer Sutherland in a slightly un-Bauer-ish role? Did you like the clockwork plot, or did it strike you as contrived? Did you feel moved or manipulated by the big closing moments? Did you enjoy the Kring-ian moments or did it feel too much like "Heroes" for you? Did you believe the way things turned out (particularly involving the Chris Rock fan)? And are you looking forward to seeing more episodes starting in March?
Have at it.
David Milch/Michael Mann drama brings the world of horseracing to life
One of the great things about art, if you're good at what you do — and few in TV history have been better at it than David Milch and Michael Mann, the chief writer and director, respectively, behind HBO's horseracing drama "Luck" — is that you can use your art to take something you care deeply about and make other people care deeply too, even if they never expected to.
I have no sentimental attachment to horseracing and could only vaguely follow many of the show's early storylines about Pick Six line-ups and claiming races. Yet I became caught up in the world of the track, and the passions of the people who gravitate towards it, thanks to the artistry of Milch ("Deadwood," "NYPD Blue"), Mann ("Miami Vice," "Crime Story") and their many gifted collaborators, including a cast headed by Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte.
Sherman has a bad day, Adams takes a dive and the precinct gets a new captain
A quick review of last night's "Southland" coming up just as soon as I shoot an old lady with a bean bag...
Chuck gets a nemesis, Sarah and Chuck get other love interests, and the series gets two different finales
comes to the end of its run on Friday night at 8 on NBC, and we're continuing our five-part retrospective interview with creators Chris Fedak
and Josh Schwartz
by discussing the unlikely Subway sandwich fan campaign (the brainchild of Wendy Farrington
) that helped the show get a renewal for the third season, and then the various ups and downs of season three itself.
(And it occurs to me in looking over this transcript that, while Fedak and Schwartz talked in an earlier part about how Chuck might have gotten the Chuck-fu powers at the end of season 1, I never specifically asked them about that decision and the ways it changed the show in the third season. Fortunately, Fedak and I talked about that at length after the season 2 finale, and that interview is still up on the old blog
'It takes two big men to fill Margo's shoes,' he says
On the last day of press tour, I sat down with "Justified"
showrunner Graham Yost
to talk about the show's third season. Given that the season was going to premiere two days later, I knew I wasn't going to have the time to transcribe the interview then, so I geared it to go after tonight's episode (you can read my review of that here
), which introduced Mykelti Williamson as the second of our two major new villains, Ellstin Limehouse, and guest-starred Carla Gugino as a U.S. Marshal who very closely resembled the one Gugino played on "Karen Sisco."
Yost and I talked about villains new and old — including the gaping hole that Margo Martindale left as Mags — about the show's evolution to be serialized even in episodes that might once upon a time have been standalone, and about Elmore Leonard's new book "Raylan," which is partly Leonard's adaptation of "Justified" season 2, and partly contains stories that Yost in turn adapted for season 3.
Carla Gugino and Mykelti Williamson stop by a packed episode
"Justified" just aired its second episode of the season. I interviewed Graham Yost about where we are at this point with our heroes and villains, and I have a review of this episode coming up just as soon as I need a spot...
Drama gets off to good start, but can 'Heroes' creator Tim Kring make it work long-term?
In the new FOX drama "Touch," Kiefer Sutherland plays a single dad whose son Jake — diagnosed for much of his life as severely autistic — is revealed to have a special, near-superhuman ability to identify and manipulate the patterns in the universe that appear to most of us to be a series of isolated, random events.
And if I were to look at the premiere episode of "Touch" the way everyone other than Jake views the world — and the way that FOX is treating it, by airing it after "American Idol" tomorrow night at 9, separated by almost two months from when the rest of the series will air on Mondays at 9 starting March 19 — then it's an interesting, emotionally manipulative but still effective hour of television.
But my job asks me to look at TV shows the way Jake looks at everything. There are almost always patterns and connections to spot, whether how some piece of a pilot episode may be tough to duplicate week after week, or how one writer may repeat the same tricks over and over from show to show.
And in that case, knowing what I know about "Touch" creator Tim Kring — and seeing the many commonalities between this show and his work on NBC's "Heroes" — makes me much less optimistic about the new series' future than I might be if I couldn't recognize the order lurking within the chaos.