A review of last night's "Modern Family" coming up just as soon as I cheat on you with choreography...
Season two gets its first standout episode as everyone races to Manny's birthday party
A dark and powerful flashback episode shows the beginning of the end of Hank's job and marriage
The action drama welcomes new castmembers Indira Varma and Janet Montgomery
In yesterday's column, I offered my thoughts on the revamped "Human Target" based on the new season's first three episodes. The premiere just finished airing on the East Coast, and while it's largely setting up new showrunner Matt Miller's altered status quo, it does give you a sense of how he wants the three original leads to interact, and also some of the dynamics between them and new regulars Indira Varma and Janet Montgomery.
So now that you've seen it, what did everybody think?
The late late talk shows have fun spending an hour on a single topic
This blog tends to focus on primetime scripted series because that's where my interest lies, but the two shows from yesterday's network slate that interested me most were in late night.
As I wrote about in my Conan pieces last week, the late night talk show is a format that I don't much care about anymore, even though I quite like all the current late night hosts other than Leno. But in the case of last night's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" and "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson," what we got weren't two traditional late night talk show episodes, but wacky, joyful single-topic theme shows - on, respectively, Bruce Springsteen and "Doctor Who." (And I hope you saw the "Doctor Who" Christmas news earlier today.)
Bruuuuuce was Fallon's only guest (other than a couch cameo by Steve Van Zandt). He joined him on stage for one of Fallon's Neil Young impressions, and even dressed as the '75 version of himself, did a long interview and did two songs with The Roots backing up him, Van Zandt and E Street Band keyboard player Roy Bittain.
Ferguson, meanwhile, had only two guests, and one of them was frequent collaborator Chris Hardwick to answer "Doctor Who" viewer questions, while the only traditional guest was Matt Smith, the current Doctor. Ferguson had a Dalek on stage standing next to his robot sidekick Geoff, carried a sonic screwdriver with him at all times, and even tried to open the show with an elaborate dance number scored to the "Doctor Who" theme, only for it to... well, you can watch the clip below to see what happened. (And at the end of the episode, he brought those same dancers out to apologize to them, and serenade them with "Rainbow Connection." A damn charming moment from the most charming guy in the field.)
Now, I'm a Springsteen fan, and a "Doctor Who" fan, so I got an added kick out of both of these, but what was great about both these episodes was that they did away with the all-things-to-all-people problem that often takes over talk shows. (Though Ferguson has mercifully always marched to his own drummer. And it's not surprising that the weakest part of Fallon's show was a straightforward, non-Springsteen-related monologue about the day's headlines.) Though Springsteen had a new box set to promote, there was never a sense that either episode was being done for business reasons; they were being done because Jimmy Fallon worships Bruce Springsteen, and Craig Ferguson frickin' loves "Doctor Who." Plain and simple.
So after the jump, I have the full Fallon show (if you just want to see the Neil Young duet, our own Melinda Newman embedded it on her blog), plus the first big chunk of Ferguson's show. Hopefully, they'll give you the same amount of pleasure they gave me.
US fans won't have to wait for (or illegally download) the next movie
I was in the middle of watching Craig Ferguson's all-"Doctor Who" episode of "Late Late Show" from last night (look for a post on that and Jimmy Fallon's all-Springsteen ep in a bit, schedule permitting), when my e-mail inbox got a good bit of "Who"-related news:
"A Christmas Carol," the next of the series' special Christmas films, will actually air here in the States at 9 p.m. on Christmas Day.
Usually, there's been a lag between when "Doctor Who" episodes and specials air in the UK and when we get to see them - a lag that only encourages the hardcore US fans to illegally download the episodes - where here the only lag will be about time zones.
As a guy who likes to write about this show on my blog, I can only hope this continues for the next season of the show, as well, since the gap between viewers watching US telecasts and those who were way ahead by legal or illegal means made it hard to have a good discussion.
The Dickensian "Christmas Carol" will be written by "Who" showrunner Steven Moffat, and pair stars Matt Smith and Karen Gillan with the great Michael Gambon. The BBC America press release describes it as "what may be the Doctor’s most Christmassy adventure yet."
Buddy detective drama boasts fantastic chemistry, mix of comedy and drama
I am too damn old and too damn cynical to get my heart broken by another brilliant-but-canceled TV show. But dammit if FX's "Terriers" isn't on the verge of doing just that.
The buddy detective series heads into the home stretch of its first season tonight at 10 with its 11th out of 13 episodes. Based on the absolutely embarrassing ratings - most recent episodes have averaged around half a million viewers, which is bad even by basic cable standards (in that same period, FX's biggest hit, "Sons of Anarchy," has averaged well over 3 million) - I would in no way be surprised if these are the last three episodes of the series ever made.
And I'm not ready for that to happen yet. "Terriers" is too good - the best new series in what's been an incredible year for new series (see also "Boardwalk Empire," "Treme," "Rubicon" and FX's own "Justified" and "Louie," to name just a handful) and a sparkling blend of wit and atmosphere and chemistry and gut-punching emotion - to be gone that quickly.
The search for Abel reaches a climax as Jax makes a tough decision, and then an easy one
The season's midway point brings a lot of potential breakthroughs
HitFix gets a facelift
In the time since my last post - appropriately enough, about the facelift "Human Target" got for season two - HitFix has had a few cosmetic changes of its own.
Our hope is that the new design is both easier to look at and to navigate. As with most software updates, though, there will inevitably be bugs at first. If you come across any problems, please put a comment here and I'll have our web designers look into it, ASAP.
That is all.
Has new showrunner Matt Miller improved the show, or just tweaked around the edges?
Late in an upcoming episode of FOXâ€™s â€œHuman Target,â€ master bodyguard Christopher Chance (Mark Valley) enjoys a bottle of aged Scotch with partners Winston (Chi McBride) and Guerrero (Jackie Earle Haley). Their little business has been through a lot of changes over the previous few episodes, including the arrival of a wealthy new owner whoâ€™s outfitted the office with expensive new gadgets.
â€œLook at this place,â€ Chance says.
â€œLooks a bit different than it used to,â€ Guerrero acknowledges.
â€œWorse?â€ asks Chance.
â€œToo early to tell,â€ Guerrero suggests.
Thatâ€™s more or less how I feel about the revamped â€œHuman Target,â€ which makes a belated season two debut tomorrow night at 8. During the long off-season, FOX hired a new lead producer in â€œChuckâ€ alum Matt Miller, and heâ€™s made a lot of changes to the show that havenâ€™t necessarily made it better or worse, but obviously different.