Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 179: 'Family Tools,' 'Maron,' 'Game of Thrones' & more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 179: 'Family Tools,' 'Maron,' 'Game of Thrones' & more

Dan and Alan also review 'The Good Wife' finale and last night's 'Mad Men'


The network TV season is almost over, but this week's Firewall & Iceberg Podcast is a mix of finale and premiere talk, as we see how "The Good Wife" wrapped things up while looking at the debut of two new comedies, in addition to checking in on the midpoint of "Game of Thrones" season 3 and our usual "Mad Men" analysis.

The lineup:

"Family Tools" (00:01:25 - 00:16:25)
"Maron" (00:16:30 - 00:27:55)
Listener Mail - "Hannibal" & "The Following" (00:28:20 - 00:39:15)
"Good Wife" (00:39:20 - 00:54:45)
"Game of Thrones" (00:54:50 - 01:11:05)
"Mad Men" (01:11:10 - 01:33:25)

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>Julianna Margulies,Josh Charlies and Christine Baranski in &quot;The Good Wife.&quot;</p>

Julianna Margulies,Josh Charlies and Christine Baranski in "The Good Wife."

Credit: CBS

Season finale review: 'The Good Wife' - 'What's in the Box?'

The Illinois voters make their choice, and so does Alicia

A review of "The Good Wife" season finale coming up just as soon as I watch "Hostel 3"...

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<p>On &quot;Mad Men,&quot;&nbsp;Don Draper (Jon Hamm)&nbsp;and Roger Sterling (John Slattery) go to an awards banquet.</p>

On "Mad Men," Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Roger Sterling (John Slattery) go to an awards banquet.

Credit: AMC

Review: 'Mad Men' - 'The Flood'

Peggy goes apartment-hunting, Don competes for an award, and tragedy strikes

A review of tonight's "Mad Men" coming up just as soon as I go to Harlem in a tuxedo...

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<p>Oona Chaplin and Richard Madden in &quot;Game of Thrones.&quot;</p>

Oona Chaplin and Richard Madden in "Game of Thrones."

Credit: HBO

Review: 'Game of Thrones' - 'Kissed by Fire'

Oaths are tested, names are changed, and the Lord of Light intercedes

A review of tonight's "Game of Thrones" coming up just as soon as I offer to scream loudly...

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<p>Ed Helms and Craig Robinson in &quot;The Office.&quot;</p>

Ed Helms and Craig Robinson in "The Office."

Credit: NBC

Review: 'The Office' - 'Paper Airplane'

Andy gets an acting gig, Nellie hosts a contest, and Jim and Pam talk it out

A quick review of last night's "The Office" coming up just as soon as I place an ad on Craigslist...

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<p>Gina Torres and Mads Mikkelsen in &quot;Hannibal.&quot;</p>

Gina Torres and Mads Mikkelsen in "Hannibal."

Credit: NBC

Review: 'Hannibal' - 'Coquilles'

Will chases an angel maker, and Lecter gets to know Jack's wife

A quick review of tonight's "Hannibal" coming up just as soon as I employ an ethical butcher...

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<p>Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza and Adam Scott in &quot;Parks and Recreation.&quot;</p>

Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza and Adam Scott in "Parks and Recreation."

Credit: NBC

Review: 'Parks and Recreation' - 'Swing Vote'

Leslie and Ron compete for Jamm's vote, Tom needs Ann's help with a break-up, and Andy quits the band

A review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as I jump out of a moving car to buy a Nikki Minaj poster...

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<p>On &quot;Community,&quot;&nbsp;Abed has a &quot;Freaky Friday&quot;&nbsp;moment.</p>

On "Community," Abed has a "Freaky Friday" moment.

Credit: NBC

Review: 'Community' - 'Basic Human Anatomy'

Troy switches bodies with Abed in an episode written by Jim Rash

A review of tonight's "Community" coming up just as soon as we have a murder mystery night during the day...

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<p>Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl)&nbsp;and Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen)&nbsp;in a &quot;Hannibal&quot;&nbsp;webisode created from the unaired fourth episode.</p>

Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl) and Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) in a "Hannibal" webisode created from the unaired fourth episode.

Credit: NBC

Controversial 'Hannibal' episode gets sliced into webisodes

NBC won't air episode 4, but key scenes are now available online

As we discussed last week, NBC is skipping the fourth episode of "Hannibal," and will jump straight to episode 5 tonight at 10. The official version of the story is that Bryan Fuller approached NBC and said he felt episode 4 — whose main plot involves Molly Shannon as a woman who trains children to kill other children — was inappropriate after the Boston bombings, though as Deadline pointed out, NBC had announced the scheduling change before the bombings, suggesting a pre-existing unease with the episode. (It's the only one of the first 6 that critics weren't sent in advance.) And as you'll see in the first video embedded below, Fuller says that the episode will be available in its entirety in other countries, but not America.

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<p>The cast of Amazon's &quot;Zombieland&quot;&nbsp;pilot.</p>

The cast of Amazon's "Zombieland" pilot.

Credit: Amazon

From 'Alpha House' to 'Zombieland': Will Amazon's crowd-sourced pilot experiment work?

Will this method be any more successful than the way the networks develop new shows?

Of the many dysfunctional, outdated aspects of the network TV business, the pilot process may be the most broken. Every year, dozens of very expensive pilots are produced in a short, identical window, with everyone fighting over the same tiny pool of actors, decisions being made in a rush based on limited data, often just on the gut instincts of a handful of people. Only a small handful will ever air, and only an even smaller handful of those will make it to a second season. It's an inefficient process in virtually every way.

Why do the network do it this way? Because, like so many other aspects of the business, this is how it's always been done, and it's hard to steer around this particular iceberg. The networks pay lip service to the idea of doing year-round development, for instance, to avoid the casting crunch, but it happens only in isolated cases.

One potential fix in the age of Hulu, iTunes, etc., would be to make all of the pilots available online for viewers to sample and offer feedback on. It's not an ideal solution — it would be a self-selecting sample that, by its very nature, would probably be more likely to watch shows online (where the networks don't make remotely as much money) than on TV — but it would still provide far more feedback than the networks get now, and possibly more useful feedback than the traditional network testing that inevitably give high marks to terrible shows featuring recognizable stars. But the networks can't or won't do that, because there are too many entities involved with too many egos to potentially bruise. Some pilots are so terrible they should never see the light of day, and no executive wants to be second-guessed if one of their pet shows gets lower marks than one they passed on.

Because Amazon hasn't spent decades making shows, it's not bound by tradition or unwritten rules. For some reason, Amazon chose to produce eight comedy pilots (six live-action, two animated, plus another six children's shows I won't be talking about here) at roughly the same time as the networks, and therefore had to draw on the same diluted talent pool. But once they were made, Amazon decided to open up the process to their potential audience, and crowd-source reaction to these pilots. You can watch all of them at, and then rate them and/or take a more detailed survey about what you liked and didn't like about each, which include:

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