Inside Television with Alan Sepinwall
Have some laughs with three of primetime's funniest performers
"Community" co-stars Ken Jeong, Chevy Chase and Danny Pudi yukking it up at Comic-Con.
The Comic-Con video interviews I posted last week were fairly brief, done as part of the usual assembly-line process that takes place in the Con press rooms. With the "Community" cast, though, I got lucky. The cast (minus Alison Brie, who was still filming her movie "Save the Date") was in town a night early so they could see Donald Glover's House of Blues show, they had some time to kill beforehand, and so I got a good chunk of time with most of them in two groups.
The results will only occasionally offer insight into the creative process of making "Community" (most of that will come from Ken Jeong), but they will give you a very good idea of what makes the "Community" cast one of the funniest and quickest on television.
In the first of our two interviews, I was placed with Jeong, Chevy Chase and Danny Pudi. Chase has, at times, been disruptive at public events involving the whole cast (like last year's Comic-Con panel), but he was relatively subdued at this year's panel, and he, Jeong and Pudi played off each other extremely well that night.
I hope you like it, and that it helps tide you over a bit until the "Community" season 3 premiere on September 22.
With any luck, later today I'll be posting the second interview, with Joel McHale, Yvette Nicole Brown and Jim Rash. (Glover was prepping for his show, and Gillian Jacobs hadn't made it into town yet.)
A livelier-than-usual CBS exec session still wound up stable in the end
The new "Two and a Half Men" cast, including Ashton Kutcher, couldn't make it to press tour, but we sure talked about them a lot.
CBS has the most stable executive team in network television, with most of the key people at the network having been in place for 15-plus years. It has one of the most stable schedules on network TV. It has the most familiar ratings story on network TV, being the most-watched overall network every year but usually trailing behind in younger viewers.
It is reliable, dependable, always there - and for that reason, usually not the most exciting network to cover at press tour. There was a period in the mid-'00s where the most controversial question at each CBS executive panel had to do with whether "Joan of Arcadia" would ever come back. (Hint: no.)
This year, though, CBS was the stable network with a whole lot of crazy stuff happening.
What effect will Robert California have on the Scranton branch?
"The Office" showrunner Paul Lieberstein, Skype-ing with brother Warren.
The last time I ran into "The Office" showrunner Paul Lieberstein at an NBC press tour party, he couldn't say much of anything about the show's plans for life after Steve Carell. Last night, though, Lieberstein and I were able to talk openly about the hiring of James Spader and the role his character, Robert California, will play within the world of Dunder-Mifflin.
On the other hand, Lieberstein didn't want to discuss the other shoe that will drop with Spader's hiring, but we did talk quite a bit about what a Carell-less "Office" will be like, why certain characters went in the direction they did last season, the population boom at the Scranton branch, the cameo by Lieberstein's brother (and "Office" staff writer) Warren as Toby's brother Rory, and more.
How will Robert Greenblatt manage expectations and share timeslots?
NBC chairman Robert Greenblatt hopes "Community" will be around for many more paintball years to come.
Earlier today, I posted some thoughts on Robert Greenblatt's first press tour session as head of NBC entertainment. But there were certain topics that didn't come up during that press conference, and a few others I wanted to go into a little more depth on, including the future prospects of "Parks and Recreation" and "Community," juggling timeslots, "Parenthood," "Chuck" and more. So I sat down with Greenblatt towards the end of NBC's day here at the tour.
How will the Maria Bello version deal with the long shadow of Helen Mirren?
Kirk Acevedo and Maria Bello (with hat) in NBC's "Prime Suspect" remake.
NBC's "Prime Suspect" likely faced a tougher room from the TCA than they will from audiences this fall, when it airs Thursdays at 10. After all, if you were to do a demographic breakdown of the audience for the original British "Prime Suspect" when it aired on PBS in the '90s, a large chunk of it would be made up of TV critics. The vast majority of viewers sampling the new version, with Maria Bello as an abrasive New York cop battling sexism and her own personal demons, probably have no idea there was an earlier version starring the great Helen Mirren.
But American "Prime Suspect" showrunner Alexandra Cunningham is acutely aware, in part because she was an enormous fan of the various miniseries featuring Mirren as Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison.
"I have watched so many times I could act them out for you," she told critics.
Dan and Alan also talk about the latest episode of 'Breaking Bad'
Dan and I thought we might have time to do a Firewall & Iceberg Podcast midway through the first week of press tour, but things didn't work out that way. Instead, get ready for a packed edition in which we break down the most memorable cable and PBS panels, discuss the "Twin Peaks" season 1 finale, the latest "Breaking Bad" and review a show with a subject near and dear to Dan's heart in IFC's "Whisker Wars." The rundown:
"Whisker Wars" 01:45 - 11:20
Television Critics Association Press Tour - 11:25 - 53:50
"Twin Peak" - 53:50 - 01:02:45
"Breaking Bad - 01:02:45 - 01:12:40
And as always, feel free to e-mail us at email@example.com
if you have questions you want answered on the show. Please put the word "podcast" in your subject line to make it easy to track them down amid the hundreds of random press releases we get every day.
If 'Dexter' wouldn't work on a broadcast network, what will?
Maria Bello in NBC's "Prime Suspect" remake.
"I certainly don't want to turn NBC into Showtime," Robert Greenblatt explained at his first press tour session as chairman of NBC entertainment.
This may be disappointing news to those hoping that the man responsible for "Dexter," "Nurse Jackie" and much of Showtime's Emmy-baiting slate of shows would be attempting to turn NBC into the world's most prominent cable channel.
(Fienberg's live-blog has more details on all that Greenblatt said.)
Larry runs into a bunch of eating-related difficulties
Larry David and Harry Hamlin on last night's "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
Last night's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" wasn't one of the ones HBO sent out in advance of the season, so I watched it this morning on HBO Go while getting ready for the start of NBC's press tour day. A few quick thoughts coming up just as soon as I seem lugubrious...
Jesse and Marie are running in place, while Hank and Skyler make breakthroughs
Walt (Bryan Cranston) and Skyler (Anna Gunn) contemplate an offer on "Breaking Bad."
A review of tonight's "Breaking Bad" coming up just as soon as I get a lifetime supply of french manicures and enzyme peels...
Tommy learns a new shape, Jessica helps Jason and Bill makes a call
If nothing else, tonight's "True Blood" gave us a good scene with Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll).
You know the deal with me and "True Blood" by now: I watch each episode, then largely step out of the way so y'all can discuss it here at least until Leslie Gornstein posts her recap at our Monkeys as Critics blog.
If you've been reading what little I have to say about the show these days, you're probably not at all surprised that my favorite scene of the episode involved Jessica. Deborah Ann Woll remains a woefully underutilized resource on this show, and her conversation with Jason was a reminder of how good she can be, and how much better the show can at times be when it focuses on the handful of characters who aren't just completely ridiculous and stupid.
So talk about that, about witches and snakes and shifters and all the rest.