HBO cancels therapy drama, but may find 'another way' for series to continue
I spent a good chunk of yesterday flying home from New Mexico, where I'd gone to do a "Breaking Bad" set visit and some interviews. (Look for that stuff much closer to the show's premiere, on a date in July TBD.) My flights didn't have wifi, so my only chance to plug into the world was during a brief layover in Houston, in which I saw on Twitter that HBO had canceled "In Treatment."
Some fine actors, lots of nudity, and fairly dull shows
"The Tudors" is dead, but its history-as-soap-opera style lives on with two new series debuting this weekend: Starz's "Camelot" (Friday at 10 p.m.) and Showtime's "The Borgias" (Sunday at 9 p.m.). "Camelot" borrows "The Tudors" creator, Michael Hirst, while "The Borgias" airs on "The Tudors" old channel, and both are very much in the same spirit, where history or mythology are largely excuses for whispered palace intrigue, love triangles and as much nudity and simulated sex as pay cable will allow while still leaving time for a story.
There's definitely an audience for that approach, but lord did I find both of these shows tiresome.
All the major parties converge in Harlan in a memorable episode
Richard Dreyfuss and Minka Kelly stop by to offer some advice to the Bravermans
I've been traveling the last couple of days and have largely been limited to pre-written reviews of stuff I'd seen before the trip. (And will be zonked enough when I get home that you shouldn't bank on, say, a "Top Chef" finale review anytime soon on Thursday.)
But I did get to watch last night's "Parenthood" while sitting in an airport departure lounge (thanks, cheap and legal downloads!), and I have a few brief, belated thoughts coming up just as soon as I get a raincheck...
'Big Love' alum plays a strong and silent Seattle cop
Of all the many strong female performances on HBO's "Big Love," Mireille Enos's often stood out because it came in two parts. As the actress playing both identical Marquart twins, Enos got to alternately play sweet, open-hearted Kathy and cool, reserved Jodeen.
It was a performance that caught the eye of the "Big Love" casting directors, who were responsible for finding a strong actress to work at the center of "The Killing," AMC's new drama (debuting Sunday night at 9) tracking a single murder investigation over an entire season. Enos plays Sarah Linden, a Seattle cop caught up in the biggest case of her career on what's supposed to be her final days on the job.
It's a very quiet performance - Linden thinks a lot and tends to speak only when necessary - but a compelling one. I spoke with Enos about the part at the television critics press tour back in January.
Can a non-cop procedural succeed on the home of the 'CSI' and 'NCIS' franchises?
CBS has a drama formula that's served the network very well for the past decade. It is the dominant home of procedural crime dramas on television: The "CSI" franchise. "NCIS" and "NCIS: Los Angeles." Now at least two "Criminal Minds" shows. Various non-franchised cop and FBI shows from producer Jerry Bruckheimer. It's who CBS is, it's what the network does. These aren't sexy water-cooler hits, but they get the job done and have made CBS a lot of money for years.
Clearly, though, the drama development people at CBS get itchy to try something besides the latest "Acronym: City" series. So every season, the network introduces at least one show that's pretty wildly off-brand. Some have been quite good, like "Joan of Arcadia" (teenage girl talks to God). Some have been absolutely terrible, like "Viva Laughlin" (musical casino soap opera). And many have fallen somewhere in between, like "Jericho" (post-nuclear war drama). But what they all have in common is that none perform remotely as well in the ratings, nor last nearly as long, as most of CBS' cop shows.
(Even "The Good Wife," which has very effectively married the format of a legal procedural with more ambitious, cable-like elements and is arguably the strongest drama on network TV at the moment, isn't a lock to return for a third season.)
So I never try to get too attached to CBS' various experiments, because they usually don't last long. That's why I don't have a ton of hope for "Chaos," a quirky drama about the CIA that debuts Friday night at 8. But it seems like it could be kind of fun for however long it's around.
On the eve of the championship fight, Lights' mom comes home
"Lights Out" fans got some bad but predictable news last week when FX decided not to order a second season. (FX president John Landgraf offered some thoughts about why.) But we still have these last two episodes to watch and discuss, and I have a review of tonight's coming up just as soon as I find a little Long Island for my iced tea...
What did everybody think of Dana Delany's new drama?
How badly, if at all, would the show suffer with AMC's proposed changes?
Typical. I spend most of the day on airplanes, while the "Mad Men" renewal news went from slow-and-steady to apocalyptically bad, depending on what corners of the Interwebs you read.
If, like me, you've been away from your computer for a while today, here's the basic talking points being thrown around on various sites, starting with a Deadline.com report and Brian Stelter's comprehensive New York Times piece:
The deal was close to being done - with Matt Weiner set to make $30 million over the next three seasons - but talks have allegedly broken down over AMC's desire for three key changes: 1)Adding an extra two minutes of commercial time to each episode (they asked for this in the last contract extension, and instead compromised by letting each episode end at 11:02 p.m.), 2)Dropping at least two regular castmembers, and 3)More product integration in each episode. And because of the delay in negotiations, the series definitely won't return until 2012 (as I've been predicting for a while), probably March, and now there's a chance things could fall apart altogether - or that AMC and Lionsgate could try to do the show without Weiner.
“I don’t understand why, with all of the success of the show, they suddenly need to change it,” Weiner told Stelter, though later he said, "“I love the show; I have every intention of it working out."
I don't really want to talk about the negotiations themselves. A lot of this is just posturing for the media - first AMC, then Weiner, taking their case to the public to exert pressure on the other party - and I'll worry about things falling apart when they actually do fall apart.
A 'Cold Case' alum gets to stretch out with a 13-episode mystery
Veena Sud spent five seasons as a writer on CBS' "Cold Case," a solid, well-crafted example of the turn-of-the-millennium vogue for TV crime stories that provided a beginning, middle and end within the confines of each episode. Everything was about shorthand, getting the story points across as quickly and efficiently as possible.
As the lead producer on AMC's "The Killing," Sud gets to try out her longhand. The series (it debuts on Sunday night at 9) takes the sort of story Sud might have told in an hour of "Cold Case" - the murder of a teenage girl in Seattle - and devotes an entire 13-episode season to it. Sud gets to take her sweet time letting us get to know to the victim's parents (Brent Sexton and Michelle Forbes), the local politician (Billy Campbell) who seems an obvious suspect, and especially Detective Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos from "Big Love"), the veteran detective who winds up with the case on what's supposed to be her last day of work.
Shortly after a press conference for the series at the TV critics press tour in January, I spoke with Sud about adapting the original Danish series "Forbrydelsen" (which gave Sud a template and some characters, but which has a different resolution to the mystery than what Sud is planning), about what she wants the audience to know and when, and a lot about the value of having so much time to play with.
(And for those wondering - or who haven't heard yesterday's podcast - I quite like "The Killing," albeit with some reservations. Review coming later this week, along with a few more interviews.)