For those of you who watched, what did you think? Are you likely to stick with it?
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.)
Standard crime procedural stories, but a fine star vehicle for the 'Desperate Housewives' alum
Dr. Megan Hunt, the heroine of ABC's new mystery series "Body of Proof," is a one-time neurosurgeon who now works as a medical examiner. She's prone to giving speeches about how she learns more now from the silent, still bodies of the dead than she ever did from conversations with the living - speeches that often invoke the show's very title.
"The body is the proof," she tells a bored cop early in the series' pilot episode, which airs tonight at 10. "It will tell you everything you need to know."
Given this philosophy, you would expect "Body of Proof" to be a show in which Dr. Hunt is mostly in the lab hanging out with the corpses, looking for clues as to how they lived and died. And there's some of that, sure. But because Megan Hunt is played by Dana Delany, and because a show about a character who silently studies dead bodies for an hour each week would be a tremendous waste of the superhumanly charming resource that is Dana Delany, Dr. Hunt spends a whole lot of time out in the world, gabbing with people of the non-corpse variety.
Diablo Cody puts the pieces in place in the third season premiere
A quick review of the "United States of Tara" season 3 premiere coming up just as soon as I go through life without the world's most misleading Pictionary artist...
What did everybody think of the season 3 premiere?
I offered up some very brief thoughts on the new season of "Nurse Jackie" in this morning's column. The show is what it is, and that's just good enough for me to watch from time to time but not good enough for me to make it appointing viewing and blogging. No point in making the same complaints over and over again. So I'll likely do what I did last year and just let the season play out and then check back in after the finale.
But for those of you who watched the season 3 premiere, what did you think?
Alan and Dan also review 'The Borgias,' 'Chaos,' 'Nurse Jackie' and 'United States of Tara'
It's Monday, which means it's time for a new Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, a particularly busy installment in which Dan and I review seven different series, including two Showtime veterans and a passel of new stuff. The run-down:
'Tara' wants to change and 'Jackie' doesn't
The entertainment media (of which I am an unapologetic member) loves its trend stories, and one of the popular trend pieces a few years back was about how Showtime had passed HBO as the standard-bearer for quality programming on pay cable. HBO was in its fallow post-"Sopranos" period, while Showtime kept rolling out one attention-getting new series after another, from "Weeds" and "Dexter" through to "Nurse Jackie" and "United States of Tara," which both begin their third seasons tonight at, respectively, 10 and 10:30.
Somewhere along the way, though, HBO mounted a furious comeback, thanks to the popular success of "True Blood" and critical acclaim for the likes of "Boardwalk Empire" and "Treme." And at the same time, the formula with which most of the Showtime series had been created - some combination of noted character actors plus high-concept premises, often placed in a half-hour format that somehow classified laugh-light series as comedies - has become to seem as conventional and tired as the stuff the broadcast networks churn out season after season. Most Showtime series burn hot, burn bright, then hang around for a very long time, flickering on and off, because it's bad business sense to let them simply burn out. (Case in point: "Dexter," which will never change a darned thing about its formula so long as it's the channel's biggest hit.)
That's not always the case, though, as demonstrated by the contrast between tonight's two returning shows. "Nurse Jackie" exemplifies the stuck-in-neutral, idea-over-execution problems that ultimately plague most Showtime series, while "United States of Tara" has found a way to transcend arguably the channel's most gimmicky premise.
Can nice guy Chuck take out serial killer Dexter?
And so it has come down to this in Hulu's Best in Show contest:Â "Chuck"Â vs. "Dexter"Â for the win.
In one corner, you have sweetness and light, nerds and the women who love them, comedy and pop culture references and unapologetic product placement. In the other you have darkness and dysfunction, a serial killer who can't find a place in this world, prominent guest stars and unapologetic repetition of the same plot structure year after year.Â IÂ wouldn't consider either one a serious contender for the best show on television right now (though I'd at least think about "Chuck"Â in that discussion), but it's a fairly interesting contrast in style as we get to the end.
At the same time, what those two shows have demonstrated that they have in common are fanbases who will vote early, vote often and knock out everything that gets in their way. "Chuck"Â was even able to overcome my vote for "Community"Â in the last round, staying neck and neck with the Greendale gang for most of the week before pushing ahead to a comfortable win over the weekend - and that was in a week when the show had aired an episode that (based on the comments in my review)Â many of you didn't like very much. There was definitely a sentiment among the "Chuck"Â fans that "Community"Â had already gotten renewed so their show "needed"Â the win more, and while IÂ think the impact this contest will have on renewal will be somewhere between slim and none, IÂ admire the commitment.
If you've been reading me for a while, you know my vote's going to "Chuck"Â here - and not just because of this awesome fan version of the credits, "Greatest American Hero"-style, that showed up on YouTube last week:
What did everybody think of the HBO miniseries?
I offered up my own review of HBO's "Mildred Pierce" on Friday. Now it's your turn. We're not even halfway through yet - there's still nearly four hours, plus the arrival of Evan Rachel Wood as an older Veda, to go over the next two Sundays - but I'm curious how y'all found the first two chapters, and whether you intend to stick around for the remaining three.