Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 35: 'Boardwalk Empire,' 'True Blood,' 'Outlaw' and more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 35: 'Boardwalk Empire,' 'True Blood,' 'Outlaw' and more

Alan and Dan talk about the season's best new drama


The bad news for this week on the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast is that we had to wait until Tuesday again due to some scheduling conflicts. The good news is two-fold: first, Dan is back in the country, and on the podcast; and second, today's show is the first of at least two that we'll do this week, as we try to deal with the insanity of the TV season's launch on Monday.

Today was a more standard episode, bookended by our takes on Sunday night's "True Blood" and "Mad Men," and with reviews in between of "Outlaw," "The League," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and "Boardwalk Empire." The run-down:

"True Blood" finale -- 00:00 - 08:55
"Outlaw" -- 08:55 - 17:40
The returns of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and "The League" -- 19:50 - 31:00
"Boardwalk Empire" -- 31:20 - 40:45
"Mad Men" - 40:50 - 56:40

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.

We likely won't have time to answer questions on the next few shows, but just in case, you can always reach us at and/or

<p>Jimmy Smits in &quot;Outlaw.&quot;</p>

Jimmy Smits in "Outlaw."

Credit: NBC

Review: Jimmy Smits in NBC's 'Outlaw'

An improbable drama about a Supreme Court justice-turned-defense lawyer

“Outlaw,” the first new series to debut on any of the big broadcast networks this fall, is far from the worst rookie of the season (NBC's “Outsourced,” CBS' “(Bleep) My Dad Says” and ABC's “My Generation” are all duking it out for that honor), but it may be the silliest.

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<p>Marlene and Cathy enjoy some expensive champagne on &quot;The Big C.&quot;</p>

Marlene and Cathy enjoy some expensive champagne on "The Big C."

Credit: Showtime

'The Big C' - 'Playing the Cancer Car': Sticks and claws

Cathy and Dr. Todd go house-hunting

The network TV season starts on Monday, which means I'm going to have to start making hard decisions about what I have time to watch and write about. I had hoped that last night's "The Big C" might convince me to keep making the effort, but if Idris Elba wasn't about to show up, "Playing the Cancer Car" might have put the show into That's It For Me! territory. Some quick thoughts on why coming up just as soon as I focus on middle management...

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<p>Big damn hero speech time for Mal (Nathan Fillion) in &quot;Serenity.&quot;</p>

Big damn hero speech time for Mal (Nathan Fillion) in "Serenity."

Credit: Universal

'Firefly' Rewind - 'Serenity' (the motion picture)

A Browncoat-created miracle of a film

Time to finish up our summer-long journey through Joss Whedon's outer space Western series "Firefly" with a look at "Serenity," the feature film that Joss and company reunited to produce a few years after Fox canceled the TV show. My review coming up just as soon as I think you're going to start a fair fight...  

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<p>Shiri Appleby as Cate, Britt Robertson as Lux, Kristoffer Polaha as Baze in &quot;Life Unexpected.&quot;&nbsp;</p>

Shiri Appleby as Cate, Britt Robertson as Lux, Kristoffer Polaha as Baze in "Life Unexpected." 

Credit: Jack Rowand/The CW

Review: 'Life Unexpected' season two on the CW

Why the family drama has hit "That's it for me!" status

When "Life Unexpected" debuted on the CW last spring, I admitted that I liked the show as much for what it represented - the style of shows like "Gilmore Girls" and "Everwood" from CW parent the WB - as for the show itself, which told the story of 16-year-old foster kid Lux (Brittany Robertson) reconnecting with the birth parents (Kristoffer Polaha as Baze, Shiri Appleby as Cate) who had her after a one-night stand in high school.

But as that first season went along, I quickly realized that nostalgia wasn't enough - that too many parts of the show (particularly the repetitive nature of the stories) frustrated me for the "Gilmore" echoes to compensate. When the show moved to a more competitive timeslot midway through its run, I began skipping some episodes, and didn't even make an effort to see the finale, in which Baze was too late to stop Cate's wedding to radio co-host Ryan (Kerr Smith).

When the CW sent me a screener of the season two premiere, which airs tomorrow at 9, I figured I would give the series one last shot, only to realize that "Life Unexpected" had now come to represent a different kind of show altogether, and one I have little patience for.

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<p>Don takes a swim on last night's &quot;Mad Men.&quot;</p>

Don takes a swim on last night's "Mad Men."

Credit: AMC

'Mad Men' - 'The Summer Man': I demand satisfaction

Is Don the man who has everything, or nothing?

A review of last night's "Mad Men" coming up just as soon as I climb Mt. Kilimanjaro...

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<p>A new image from HBO's &quot;Game of Thrones.&quot;</p>

A new image from HBO's "Game of Thrones."

Credit: HBO

Who's in the mood for some 'Game of Thrones'?

HBO launches a behind-the-scenes site for the fantasy series

In the lead-up to the "True Blood" finale, HBO aired clips of a bunch of its upcoming shows. Most of those are set to debut very soon, like "Boardwalk Empire," but one won't be premiering until sometime in 2011: "Game of Thrones," the lavish adaptation of George R.R. Martin's fantasy novels. We saw two clips, and HBO also unveiled a new making-of website. For those who didn't have their HBO tonight, I'll have the two clips after the jump, along with a thought or three about "Game of Thrones" and how I may approach it.

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<p>Evan Rachel Wood in the &quot;True Blood&quot;&nbsp;finale.</p>

Evan Rachel Wood in the "True Blood" finale.

Credit: HBO/Doug Hyun

'True Blood' - 'Evil Is Going On': Break up the concrete

The finale, like the season, spends too much time on unnecessary subplots

I've done my best to take an "If you can't say something nice" approach to these weekly "True Bloodposts. It's clear by now that while I don't like the show, many of you do, and it didn't seem too complicated to put up a post each week so y'all could discuss the episodes.

But at the end of season three, I can't resist offering up one opinion on the finale, which is that even factoring in how little I care about the show as a whole, there was a spectacular amount of things I didn't care about in this finale. There was a time when it seemed like Alan Ball was using the supporting characters to lighten Anna Paquin's workload and help him deepen Sookie's world, but by now it seems that he views Jason, Tara, Sam, Arlene, etc. on a practically equal footing with Sookeh, Bill and Eric, and that just wrecks the momentum of the big story arcs.

But, again, I'm just your humble host on these "True Blood" posts. For those of you who are fans, what did you think of the finale? Satisfying? Frustrating? Are you more or less excited to see what's coming next season?

<p>Kale (Arliss Howard)&nbsp;has a chat with Ed (Roger Robinson)&nbsp;on &quot;Rubicon.&quot;</p>

Kale (Arliss Howard) has a chat with Ed (Roger Robinson) on "Rubicon."

Credit: AMC

'Rubicon' - 'Caught in the Suck': Cruel to be kind, in the right measure

Kale gets aggressive with Will and Maggie, while Miles and Tanya take a trip

On Friday, I wrote a kind of mid-season review about how "Rubicon" has managed to overcome the usual pitfalls of shows built around elaborate mystery plots. Many of those observations will be familiar to those of you who've been reading these weekly episode reviews, but I wanted to put them all together in a form where people who had perhaps dismissed the show after an episode or two could read them.

Because of the time I spent on that, this week's episode analysis will be a little shorter than usual. Spoilers for tonight's episode coming up just as soon as I become a pajama disaster...

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<p>Grant (Christopher Evan Welch), Will (James Badge Dale),  Tanya (Lauren Hodges) and Miles (Dallas Roberts) are the smart, damaged heroes of &quot;Rubicon.&quot;</p>

Grant (Christopher Evan Welch), Will (James Badge Dale), Tanya (Lauren Hodges) and Miles (Dallas Roberts) are the smart, damaged heroes of "Rubicon."

Credit: AMC

How 'Rubicon' became much more than a conspiracy thriller

AMC drama has strong performances, fantastic look

"I want to know what it all means," insists "Rubicon" hero Will Travers (James Badge Dale) late in the conspiracy thriller's next episode (Sunday at 9 p.m., AMC).

"It means you're getting closer," Will is told.

Ordinarily, that kind of exchange on a puzzle show like this would drive me nuts. (It reminded me of half the conversations Jack and Juliet had while he was a prisoner at the start of "Lost" season three.) The more we see of series that are built around withholding information from the main characters and the audience, the less patience I have for them.

And yet even though I'm still not sure if "Rubicon" knows where it's going, it's quickly become one of my favorite dramas on television. And before I get too bogged down in the launch of all the broadcast network shows, I wanted to throw a little love at "Rubicon" for the benefit of those of you not reading the weekly episode reviews (because you're likely not watching), after the jump...

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