<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.

Read Full Post
<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):

Read Full Post
<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.
Read Full Post
<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:

Read Full Post
<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...

Read Full Post
<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):

Read Full Post
<p>You will believe a man can become a cop!&nbsp;Alfred Molina on &quot;Law &amp;&nbsp;Order:&nbsp;Los Angeles.&quot;</p>

You will believe a man can become a cop! Alfred Molina on "Law & Order: Los Angeles."

Credit: NBC

'Law & Order: Los Angeles' shakeup & other weird TV show revamps

In a world where Alfred Molina can go from DA to cop, what else is possible?

Yesterday was a day of group field trips to various sets, so forgive me for being late to the party on the news about the "Law & Order: Los Angeles" character changes, but I have to ask: what the hell is going on over there?

Earlier this week, "L&O" boss Dick Wolf decided to shake up his ratings-challenged spin-off by kicking lead cop Skeet Ulrich and assistant prosecutors Megan Boone and Regina Hall to the curb. The show still needs a new actress who can look good in a skirt suit while seeming plausible making arguments at a bail hearing, but the lead cop position has already been filled...

... by Alfred Molina, who was already on "LOLA" as one of the show's two lead prosecutors, rotating episodes with Terence Howard.

Excuse me? Huh?

Read Full Post
<p>If NBC had been more successful the last few years, would &quot;Chuck&quot;&nbsp;have stuck around long enough to give us Yvonne Strahovski as the Giant Blonde She-Male of Thailand?</p>

If NBC had been more successful the last few years, would "Chuck" have stuck around long enough to give us Yvonne Strahovski as the Giant Blonde She-Male of Thailand?

Credit: NBC

Press Tour: Why NBC's leadership vacuum has been a good thing

The network's a mess, but one with a bunch of great shows

Today is NBC's day at press tour, and a very strange thing is happening: NBC isn't doing any kind of executive panel.

Read Full Post
<p>Mamie Gummer, Caroline Dhavernas and Zach Gilford in &quot;Off the Map.&quot;</p>

Mamie Gummer, Caroline Dhavernas and Zach Gilford in "Off the Map."

Credit: ABC

'Off the Map' - 'Saved by the Great White Hope': Paradise found?

What did everybody think of the new medical drama?

I offered my take on "Off the Map- the jungle hospital drama produced, but not created, by Shonda Rhimes - yesterday. Now it's your turn. Whether you're a "Grey's Anatomy" fan or not, what did you think? 

Read Full Post
<p>Stephen Lang in &quot;Terra Nova.&quot;</p>

Stephen Lang in "Terra Nova."

Credit: FOX

Press Tour: FOX offers a tiny glimpse at 'Terra Nova'

Footage looks expensive, but can Brannon Braga run a good sci-fi show?

FOX's "Terra Nova" is more than four months away from premiering, and we have more than eight months until the second episode airs. Between the long lead time and the amount of special effects involved in creating a world where humans have traveled back in time millions of years to live among the dinosaurs, it's understandable that FOX didn't have much to show the critics at press tour beyond a three-minute sizzle reel.

Still, I have some absurdly preliminary thoughts on the footage (and you can see some early publicity stills of the show), but mainly on what was said at the press conference afterward, coming up after the jump...

Read Full Post