Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 89: Listener mail & 'Breaking Bad'

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 89: Listener mail & 'Breaking Bad'

Dan and Alan answer questions about the troubles at AMC, the 'Friday Night Lights' movie, beards and more

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We promised two things in advance about this week's Firewall & Iceberg Podcast: that we likely wouldn't record it on a Monday, and that it would be almost entirely devoted to listener mail. Both of those promises came true, and though we start the show with low, post-press tour energy levels, things get snappy in a hurry. The rundown:

Recent AMC kerfuffles -- 01:30 - 14:00
Kurt Sutter Twitter kerfuffles -- 14:00 - 21:00
A new "Friday Night Lights" Movie -- 21:25 - 28:00
The greatness of the "FNL" pilot -- 28:00 - 36:40
Our own review-writing process -- 36:40 - 43:00
All-Star Beard Team -- 43:00 - 49:40
"Breaking Bad" -- 49:45 - 01:05:20
 
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 at sepinwall@hitfix.com and/or dan@hitfix.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.
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<p>Dominic West, Ben Whishaw and Romola Garai in &quot;The Hour.&quot;</p>

Dominic West, Ben Whishaw and Romola Garai in "The Hour."

Credit: BBC

Review: BBC America's 'The Hour' heads back to the '50s in style

HitFix
B+
Readers
B+
'Mad Men' meets 'Broadcast News' meets Ian Fleming in a sharp new series

Imitation is the sincerest form of television, but usually the shows being imitated are the biggest of hits. The thinking, after all, is that your clone won't get ratings as high as "Friends" or "CSI" or "Lost," but if you copy a show with a big enough base, the fall-off will lead to acceptable ratings. For some reason, though, this season ABC and NBC  - two broadcast networks who are still, in theory, in the business of trying to get the biggest audiences possible for their shows - have scheduled a pair of new dramas ("Pan Am" for ABC, "The Playboy Club" for NBC) both very reminiscent of AMC's "Mad Men,"whose ratings would nonetheless have gotten it canceled by week 3 on a network.

"Mad Men" is an incredible show, and it's easy to understand why the big broadcasters might have some cable envy. But even if "Pan Am" has some promise ("The Playboy Club," much less so), it's hard to imagine either rookie succeeding commercially when they debut next month. If anyone should be trying out a drama set close to the "Mad Men" era, it should be a cable network even lower on the food chain than AMC, and/or the British.

And BBC America is about to prove this point with tomorrow's 10 p.m. debut of "The Hour," a winning new drama set only a few years before Don Draper would get a new secretary named Peggy Olsen.

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<p>Ricky Gervais feuds with Larry David on &quot;Curb Your Enthusiasm.&quot;</p>

Ricky Gervais feuds with Larry David on "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

Credit: HBO

'Curb Your Enthusiasm' - 'The Hero': Coach-y and Mrs. Coach-y?

Larry feuds with Ricky Gervais as the series moves to New York

A quick review of last night's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" coming up just as soon as I admire the view from Renny Harlin's apartment...

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<p>Jesse (Aaron Paul)&nbsp;goes traveling on &quot;Breaking Bad.&quot;</p>

Jesse (Aaron Paul) goes traveling on "Breaking Bad."

Credit: AMC

'Breaking Bad' - 'Shotgun': Who's the guy?

Jesse and Mike spend a day together, while Walt and Skyler celebrate

A review of tonight's "Breaking Bad" - which was just renewed for 16 final episodes - coming up just as soon as I break out the non-fancy liquor...

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<p>No need to worry, &quot;Breaking Bad&quot;&nbsp;fans:&nbsp;AMC&nbsp;has renewed the series for 16 final episodes.</p>

No need to worry, "Breaking Bad" fans: AMC has renewed the series for 16 final episodes.

Credit: AMC

AMC renews 'Breaking Bad'

16 more episodes will end Walter White's story, but when/how they'll air is unclear

AMC has renewed "Breaking Bad" for a final batch of 16 episodes that will conclude the Emmy-winning series' run.

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<p>Sullivan Stapleton and Philip Winchester in &quot;Strike Back.&quot;</p>

Sullivan Stapleton and Philip Winchester in "Strike Back."

Credit: Cinemax

'Strike Back': Bad-ass buddies

What did everybody think of Cinemax's new action series?

Because I've taken a short break post-press tour, I didn't have time to write a review of Cinemax's new original action series "Strike Back," but Dan and I did talk about it for a while on this week's podcast. As I said there, it's probably not any better than most of the straight-to-video action B-movies that Cinemax was already airing, but the writing (mostly by "X-Files" alum Frank Spotnitz) is crisp, the action scenes well-done, and leads Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton both convincingly kick ass.

For anyone who happened to watch the premiere, what did you think? Might you stick around for a while? 

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<p>Captain Jack (John Barrowman)&nbsp;gets to work on &quot;Torchwood:&nbsp;Miracle Day.&quot;</p>

Captain Jack (John Barrowman) gets to work on "Torchwood: Miracle Day."

Credit: Starz/BBC

'Torchwood: Miracle Day' - 'The Middle Men': Broken news

Rex, Esther and Gwen plot escapes, while Jack moves up the Phicorp ladder

I know I said I'm pretty much done on reviewing "Torchwood: Miracle Day," but with only five episodes left (including tonight's), I figured it doesn't hurt to put up a post each week for those of you who are sticking with it to talk about why. 

So talk about more fun and excitement with Colin Maloney, the show's latest familiar American guest star, public reaction to the latest piece of news, and more.

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<p>Swearengen (Ian McShane)&nbsp;and Mr. Wu (Keone Young)&nbsp;cut a &quot;Deadwood&quot;&nbsp;deal.</p>

Swearengen (Ian McShane) and Mr. Wu (Keone Young) cut a "Deadwood" deal.

Credit: HBO

'Deadwood' Rewind: Season 1, Episode 10: 'Mr. Wu' (Veterans edition)

Al negotiates a crisis, while Reverend Smith's condition worsens

We're continuing our trip back through the first season of David Milch's epic revisionist Western "Deadwood," and we're continuing to do it with two separate but largely identical posts: one for people who watched the whole series and want to be able to discuss it from beginning to end, and one for people who are just starting out and don't want to be spoiled with discussion that goes past the current episode. This is the former; click here for the newbie-safe version.

A review of episode 10, "Mr. Wu," coming up just as soon as my cravate's in my bacon...

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<p>Swearengen (Ian McShane)&nbsp;and Mr. Wu (Keone Young)&nbsp;cut a &quot;Deadwood&quot;&nbsp;deal.</p>

Swearengen (Ian McShane) and Mr. Wu (Keone Young) cut a "Deadwood" deal.

Credit: HBO

'Deadwood' Rewind: Season 1, Episode 10: 'Mr. Wu' (Newbies edition)

Al negotiates a crisis, while Reverend Smith's condition worsens

We're continuing our trip back through the first season of David Milch's epic revisionist Western "Deadwood," and we're continuing to do it with two separate but largely identical posts: one for people who watched the whole series and want to be able to discuss it from beginning to end, and one for people who are just starting out and don't want to be spoiled with discussion that goes past the current episode. This is the latter; click here for the veteran-friendly version.

A review of episode 10, "Mr. Wu," coming up just as soon as my cravate's in my bacon...

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<p>One reader's take on what NBC's &quot;Smash,&quot;&nbsp;with Katharine McPhee, should look like.</p>
<br />

One reader's take on what NBC's "Smash," with Katharine McPhee, should look like.


See ya in the next life, Smash!

Taking a few days off post-press tour

Well, press tour is over. Comic-Con is over. My time in California is over.

And now it's time to take some time off.

I'll be off for much of the rest of this week to catch up on sleep, remind my kids what I look like and readjust to East Coast weather. (Rumor has it the humidity is kinda high.) With any luck, I'll be able to bang out my next "Deadwood" review on the flight home today, but that's about all you should expect from me between now and either Sunday night or Monday. (As I said in my latest "Breaking Bad" review, odds are high that I won't get that done til sometime Monday morning/early afternoon.) 

Have fun without me, kids. And if you want to see the full-sized version of that photo illustration of Katharine McPhee starring in "Smash: The Brian Williams Story," click here. Forearms aside, I think it'd make one hell of a poster for what should be the greatest show ever.

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