So remember when I said the other day that all this drama about the "Mad Men" renewal negotiations between AMC, Lionsgate and Matt Weiner would only worry me once a deal officially was or wasn't closed, and that everything else was just negotiating through the media? Well, the deal has been closed, and it sounds like there's not a ton to worry about in the short term, at the very least.
In AMC's new long-form murder mystery series "The Killing," the eternally boyish Billy Campbell plays an idealistic local politician who becomes one of the many suspects in the murder of a teenage girl. At a "Killing" press conference in January, Campbell said he told the producers that he didn't want to know whether or not his character was the killer until they got to the point in the series where the audience would find out the truth. That notion of playing a character on a show like this - or on "24," where at any moment you could find out that you're playing the new CTU mole - without knowing that character's full intentions has always interested me, so - after doing interviews with producer Veena Sud and star Mireille Enos - I spent a few minutes chatting with Campbell about why he wanted to do things that way.
Still catching up on TV that I missed while flying to and from New Mexico. The "Top Chef" finale was going down when I was somewhere between Houston and Newark, and fortunately HitFix's Liane Bonin got her finale recap up quickly. I have a few belated thoughts on the finale, and the winner, coming up just as soon as I have a jet skiing appointment...
I spent a good chunk of yesterday flying home from New Mexico, where I'd gone to do a "Breaking Bad" set visit and some interviews. (Look for that stuff much closer to the show's premiere, on a date in July TBD.) My flights didn't have wifi, so my only chance to plug into the world was during a brief layover in Houston, in which I saw on Twitter that HBO had canceled "In Treatment."
"The Tudors" is dead, but its history-as-soap-opera style lives on with two new series debuting this weekend: Starz's "Camelot" (Friday at 10 p.m.) and Showtime's "The Borgias" (Sunday at 9 p.m.). "Camelot" borrows "The Tudors" creator, Michael Hirst, while "The Borgias" airs on "The Tudors" old channel, and both are very much in the same spirit, where history or mythology are largely excuses for whispered palace intrigue, love triangles and as much nudity and simulated sex as pay cable will allow while still leaving time for a story.
There's definitely an audience for that approach, but lord did I find both of these shows tiresome.
A review of tonight's "Justified" coming up just as soon as I need you to put on a dress...
I've been traveling the last couple of days and have largely been limited to pre-written reviews of stuff I'd seen before the trip. (And will be zonked enough when I get home that you shouldn't bank on, say, a "Top Chef" finale review anytime soon on Thursday.)
But I did get to watch last night's "Parenthood" while sitting in an airport departure lounge (thanks, cheap and legal downloads!), and I have a few brief, belated thoughts coming up just as soon as I get a raincheck...
Of all the many strong female performances on HBO's "Big Love," Mireille Enos's often stood out because it came in two parts. As the actress playing both identical Marquart twins, Enos got to alternately play sweet, open-hearted Kathy and cool, reserved Jodeen.
It was a performance that caught the eye of the "Big Love" casting directors, who were responsible for finding a strong actress to work at the center of "The Killing," AMC's new drama (debuting Sunday night at 9) tracking a single murder investigation over an entire season. Enos plays Sarah Linden, a Seattle cop caught up in the biggest case of her career on what's supposed to be her final days on the job.
It's a very quiet performance - Linden thinks a lot and tends to speak only when necessary - but a compelling one. I spoke with Enos about the part at the television critics press tour back in January.
CBS has a drama formula that's served the network very well for the past decade. It is the dominant home of procedural crime dramas on television: The "CSI" franchise. "NCIS" and "NCIS: Los Angeles." Now at least two "Criminal Minds" shows. Various non-franchised cop and FBI shows from producer Jerry Bruckheimer. It's who CBS is, it's what the network does. These aren't sexy water-cooler hits, but they get the job done and have made CBS a lot of money for years.
Clearly, though, the drama development people at CBS get itchy to try something besides the latest "Acronym: City" series. So every season, the network introduces at least one show that's pretty wildly off-brand. Some have been quite good, like "Joan of Arcadia" (teenage girl talks to God). Some have been absolutely terrible, like "Viva Laughlin" (musical casino soap opera). And many have fallen somewhere in between, like "Jericho" (post-nuclear war drama). But what they all have in common is that none perform remotely as well in the ratings, nor last nearly as long, as most of CBS' cop shows.
(Even "The Good Wife," which has very effectively married the format of a legal procedural with more ambitious, cable-like elements and is arguably the strongest drama on network TV at the moment, isn't a lock to return for a third season.)
So I never try to get too attached to CBS' various experiments, because they usually don't last long. That's why I don't have a ton of hope for "Chaos," a quirky drama about the CIA that debuts Friday night at 8. But it seems like it could be kind of fun for however long it's around.
"Lights Out" fans got some bad but predictable news last week when FX decided not to order a second season. (FX president John Landgraf offered some thoughts about why.) But we still have these last two episodes to watch and discuss, and I have a review of tonight's coming up just as soon as I find a little Long Island for my iced tea...