<p>Sam Huntington, Sam Witwer and Meaghan Rath in &quot;Being Human.&quot;</p>

Sam Huntington, Sam Witwer and Meaghan Rath in "Being Human."

Credit: Syfy

Review: Syfy's 'Being Human' & MTV's 'Skins'

Carbon-copy remakes of British shows where you wonder why they bothered

If it takes three to make a trend, then we have one in the TV business this spring: extremely literal, note-for-note American cable remakes of British TV shows.

Last week brought Showtime's bawdy family comedy "Shameless," in which that show's British creator relocated his original script to Chicago with only minor changes. Tonight brings two more: Syfy's "Being Human" (9 p.m.), about a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost who wind up sharing the same apartment; and MTV's "Skins" (10 p.m.), a raunchy high school soap about a group of hedonistic teenage friends.

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<p>William H. Macy in &quot;Shameless.&quot;</p>

William H. Macy in "Shameless."

Credit: Showtime

'Shameless' - 'Frank the Plank': Oh, Canada

William H. Macy gets more to do, but is that a good thing here?

My review of "Shameless" episode two coming up just as soon as I smell Drakkar Noir...

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<p>The wives aren't very happy on the &quot;Big Love&quot;&nbsp;season premiere.</p>

The wives aren't very happy on the "Big Love" season premiere.

Credit: HBO

'Big Love' - 'Winter': Actions have consequences

What did everybody think of the final season premiere?

I mostly said my piece on the early part of "Big Loveseason 5 in yesterday's review. Now the season premiere has aired, and it's your turn. For those of you who came back after last season's fiasco, did you feel that "Winter" was an improvement? How are you feeling about Bill Henrickson and company at this point? In particular, did you believe that Bill believes what he told Don near the end of the episode - and, if so, does that make up for any of the things he's done and said over the last year? Fire away.

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<p>Aml Ameen, Brittany Snow, Kathy Bates and Nate Corddry in &quot;Harry's Law.&quot;</p>

Aml Ameen, Brittany Snow, Kathy Bates and Nate Corddry in "Harry's Law."

Credit: NBC

Review: NBC's 'Harry's Law' a cartoonish mess from David E. Kelley

What show did Kelley and Kathy Bates think they were making?

Often, the most valuable part of going to the TV critics' press tour isn't interviewing actors, or even listening to network executives spin their latest mess, but simply getting to hear show creators articulate their vision. Sometimes, hearing about that vision can reinforce a critic's opinion of a show. Sometimes, it can make them reevaluate. And sometimes, it's just plain strange.

David E. Kelley came to the press tour on Thursday to talk about "Harry's Law," his latest legal drama (in a career that's included "LA Law," "The Practice," "Ally McBeal" and "Boston Legal," among many others). He described it as a series about class disparity in America. As he sees it, "Harry's Law" is a fairly nuanced show about how more and more, the law has been designed to protect the haves while betraying the have-nots.

He described, in other words, a radically different show from the one you're going to see Monday night at 10 on NBC.

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<p>Happy times aren't here for the Henrickson clan at the start of the final season of &quot;Big Love.&quot;</p>

Happy times aren't here for the Henrickson clan at the start of the final season of "Big Love."

Credit: HBO

Review: HBO's 'Big Love' returns for final season

An improvement on season four, but still many problems for Bill and family

We open the fifth and final season of "Big Love" (Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO) with the whole world mad at Bill Henrickson, who outed himself as a polygamist at the end of last season. His new colleagues in the state Senate view him as radioactive and try various measures to boot him out of office. The employees at his chain of hardware stores feel betrayed by the man who talks so much about family values. A constituent spits on him, one of his sons is bullied at school for having three moms, and his wives - none of whom wanted any part of this political campaign, nor of coming out of the closet - find themselves just as hated as Bill.

And that feels like an appropriate place to start, given that the fans of "Big Love" were as mad about the fourth season as the people of Utah are about Bill.

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<p>David Duchovny and &quot;Californication&quot;&nbsp;will be back for a fifth season.</p>

David Duchovny and "Californication" will be back for a fifth season.

Credit: Showtime

Press Tour: Showtime renews 'Californication,' partners with SF Giants and more

'Nurse Jackie' & 'United States of Tara' return in March, 'Borgias' debut in April

"It's interesting coming into a network that is healthy," Showtime president David Nevins said at the start of his first press tour executive session. "That's not often how regime change happens in television."

Nevins (a producer with a distinguished track record on shows like "Friday Night Lights" and "Arrested Development") is five months into the job - having replaced Robert Greenblatt, who's expected to take over NBC once the FCC approves the Comcast merger - and oversees a pay cable channel having itself a pretty good run. "Dexter" is still a hit, Showtime got more series Emmy nominations than rival HBO, "Shameless" was the channel's biggest series launch in the last seven years, etc., etc.

So - outside of a few random questions about "The Kennedys," a miniseries that History Channel recently dropped and Nevins declined to pick up - his first exec session was devoted to announcements, other bits of good news for the channel and/or fans of its shows, and questions about Nevins' programming philosophy (most of which led to answers that praised Showtime's current shows):

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<p>Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski on &quot;Chuck.&quot;</p>

Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski on "Chuck."

Credit: NBC

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 55: Press tour, 'Big Love' and 'Chuck' creators Josh Schwartz & Chris Fedak

More TCA anecdotes and a very long interview with Team 'Chuck'


It's been a while since we had a guest interview on the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, and since I'm still in California for the TV critics' press tour, Dan and I decided to do the latest one in person. So Thursday afternoon we broke away from a series of TCA field trips in order to visit the office of "Chuck" co-creator Josh Schwartz, who joined us and co-creator Chris Fedak for a long, strange, at times informative, at times hopefully funny interview as "Chuck" prepares to return with new episodes on Monday. If you're a "Chuck" fan, hopefully you'll enjoy it, but it's also entirely possible that it has destroyed our relationship with the show. We really don't know.

In addition, Dan and I shared more anecdotes from the second half of press tour, and also offer a review of "Big Love" season 5. The run-down: 

Press Tour Rundown - 00:00:00 -  00:20:40 
A candid conversation with Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak - 00:20:40 - 01:09:20
A review of the "Big Love" S. 5 premiere - 01:09:45 - 01:21:10
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>The head of CBS is concerned personally, but not professionally, about &quot;Two and a Half Men&quot;&nbsp;star Charlie Sheen.</p>

The head of CBS is concerned personally, but not professionally, about "Two and a Half Men" star Charlie Sheen.

Credit: CBS

Press Tour: CBS' Nina Tassler shuts down Charlie Sheen talk, all other controversy

A brief, uneventful session about America's most-watched network

CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler is known for having one of the better deadpan senses of humor in the TV business. So when her press tour session (Fienberg has a full recap in his liveblog) opened with a question about "Two and a Half Men" star Charlie Sheen's latest widely-publicized shenanigans, it wasn't surprising - but was still funny - when she replied, "Boy, I really didn't expect that question this morning. So I'm really taken by surprise."

Tassler's response to the question was prepared, but it was also remarkably frank:

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<p>The cast of &quot;Community&quot;&nbsp;and creator Dan Harmon came to press tour.</p>

The cast of "Community" and creator Dan Harmon came to press tour.

Credit: NBC

Press Tour: 'Community' stars and Dan Harmon on high-concept shows, Abed, relationships and more

A funny, thoughtful panel from one of TV's best comedies

The cast of "Community" (minus Chevy Chase, who wasn't feeling well) and creator Dan Harmon rolled into press tour at the end of a long day, near the end of long tour, immediately following a panel for "Harry's Law" that sucked all the energy out of the room. Fortunately, when you have one of the smartest, most tightly-knit, genuinely funniest ensembles on TV, as well as a creator who has thought at great length about every detail and layer of his show and can articulate that to you, you get a session lively enough to overcome both general tour fatigue and the particular brand of despair that the "Harry's Law" panel(*) gave us.

(*) I'll explain a little more about that in my review of the show in a day or two, but it mostly involved David E. Kelley sounding eminently reasonable as he described a vastly different show from the one any of us had seen.

Some highlights from the panel after the jump, and in the very last paragraph I'll include Harmon's teases of a few upcoming stories, so you can stop reading before then if you don't want to know...

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<p>Steve Carell will leave &quot;The Office&quot;&nbsp;a few weeks before the end of this season.</p>

Steve Carell will leave "The Office" a few weeks before the end of this season.

Credit: NBC

Press Tour: Steve Carell's 'The Office' departure plan takes shape

Internal candidates down to three, Michael Scott has a farewell date, and a lot more

At the summer press tour, I talked with "The Office" showrunner Paul Lieberstein about the plan for Steve Carell's final season on the show and choosing his replacement. At that time, he knew very few concrete details, and could share even fewer. But when he tracked me down at NBC's party tonight, he had more information to offer. The party was too noisy and crowded for me to be able to pull together a coherent transcript, but here are the salient points, paraphrased (and if you want to know nothing about how the season plays out, don't click through):

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