Inside Television with Alan Sepinwall

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Register at HitFix and you could win a Hodor t-shirt!

A few weeks ago, the prize for registering at HitFix (or updating your current registered account) was a copy of my book. (Signed paperbacks to the winners should be going out this week.) This week's prize is another one with What's Alan Watching? appeal: our very special Hodor-themed t-shirt (with a WAW logo on the back), which expresses a philosophy of life as only Hodor can.

Again, all you have to do is follow this link to either register for a new account or update your old one and you'll be entered for a drawing to win said t-shirt. It's fast, it's easy, it's Hodor.

Review: 'The Newsroom' - 'Red Team III'

The Genoa story is a big hit, and then a bigger fiasco

<p>Jane Fonda, Sam Waterston and Jeff Daniels in &quot;The Newsroom.&quot;</p>

Jane Fonda, Sam Waterston and Jeff Daniels in "The Newsroom."

Credit: HBO

A review of tonight's "The Newsroom" coming up just as soon as I spend $1000 to meet Daniel Craig...

Review: 'Breaking Bad' - 'Confessions'

Walt makes a video, Jesse checks his pockets and Hank and Marie have an awkward family dinner

<p>Aaron Paul as Jesse in &quot;Breaking Bad.&quot;</p>

Aaron Paul as Jesse in "Breaking Bad."

Credit: AMC

A review of tonight's "Breaking Bad" coming up just as soon as I tell you about the table-side guacamole...

What if NBC didn't cancel 'JAG' after one season?

Would 'NCIS' exist? Would NBC be doing better than CBS at this point?

<p>If NBC&nbsp;hadn't canceled &quot;JAG,&quot;&nbsp;would Catherine Bell have wound up on the show?&nbsp;And would &quot;NCIS&quot;&nbsp;exist at all?</p>

If NBC hadn't canceled "JAG," would Catherine Bell have wound up on the show? And would "NCIS" exist at all?

Credit: CBS

This week HitFix is revisiting some of the key turning points in recent entertainment history and considering what would have happened if history had turned a bit differently. What if...?

In the spring of 1996, NBC was at the peak of its Must-See TV period. "Seinfeld," "ER," "Friends," "Frasier" and "Law & Order" were  healthy and powerful, and there was a successful secondary tier of shows like "Wings," "Mad About You" and "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." The previous fall, the network had launched a new drama called "JAG," starring David James Elliott as a Naval officer and attorney who traveled the globe having adventures and defending sailors in court. By today's standards, "JAG" — which averaged 11.6 million viewers a week, despite airing on Saturday — would be a big hit, but that year it was the #79 show on TV overall, and its audience was on the old side, at a time when "Friends" and its imitators were pushing NBC ever-younger. The Peacock canceled "JAG," and CBS — which was in such dire straits that the network was happy to take any viewers, of any age — picked it up for the next spring. It would air 205 episodes over nine seasons for CBS, never a massive hit but a reliable performer and foundational piece as CBS dug itself out of a gaping hole. More importantly, when "JAG" was in its later years, the show's creator Don Bellisario pitched a spin-off to CBS about the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, aka "NCIS," which is entering its 11th season, is the most-watched drama on television and has spawned yet another successful spin-off in "NCIS: LA."

What if NBC didn't cancel 'JAG' after one season? 

Programming note: 'Deadwood' review delayed one last time

Just trying to hold off on saying goodbye to Swidgin, Wu and the rest

<p>Let's hug it out, folks, before we say goodbye to &quot;Deadwood&quot;&nbsp;next week.</p>

Let's hug it out, folks, before we say goodbye to "Deadwood" next week.

Credit: HBO

Hey all you hoopleheads, in what may be a familiar refrain at this point in the summer, this week's "Deadwoodreview has been delayed until next week at this time. The way I figure it, it just delays the amount of time until we're done discussing the show forever. Sigh...

While I'm otherwise occupied, I highly recommend going back to last week's review — specifically, to the run of comments by Jim Beaver and Keone Young that start right here. Each man contributes a long and extremely poignant memory about their time on the show, and both then follow that up with something more light-hearted. As always, I view whatever I'm writing as a "Deadwood" actor comment delivery system.

Sorry for one last delay, but we'll have much to talk about, vis a vis "Tell Him Something Pretty," in a week.

Review: 'The Bridge' - 'Destino'

Sonya and Marco get into trouble pursuing a new suspect, and Ray makes a deal with Graciela

<p>Diane Kruger and Demi&aacute;n Bichir in &quot;The Bridge.&quot;</p>

Diane Kruger and Demián Bichir in "The Bridge."

Credit: FX

A quick review of tonight's "The Bridge" coming up just as soon as I invoke the Three-Second Rule...

'Orphan Black' star Tatiana Maslany to guest on 'Parks and Recreation'

'Parks' co-creator 'extraordinarily gaga bonkers psyched' to have the versatile actress

<p>&quot;Orphan Black&quot;&nbsp;star Tatiana Maslany will be on &quot;Parks and Recreation&quot;&nbsp;this season.</p>

"Orphan Black" star Tatiana Maslany will be on "Parks and Recreation" this season.

Credit: BBC America

"Parks and Recreation" is about to be attacked by a clone: "Orphan Black" star Tatiana Maslany will be guest-starring in two episodes in the upcoming sixth season.

Maslany, who went from obscure Canadian actress to sensation playing multiple roles on the BBC America sci-fi series, will be playing a love interest for Aziz Ansari's Tom Haverford, whom "Parks" co-creator Mike Schur describes as "generally out of his league."

Schur added that he is "extraordinarily gaga bonkers psyched" about the casting, and said he was "tempted to have her play eleven individual characters, but it's probably best for reality to keep it at just the one."

Maslany will be one of many high-profile guests in the new "Parks" season (which debuts September 26 at 8, with an hour-long episode filmed on location in London), including Kristen Bell, Sam Elliott, Heidi Klum, Henry Winkler and more of Lucy Lawless. The series will also be saying goodbye to Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe midway through the season.

What if HBO picked up Winnie Holzman's show instead of 'The Sopranos'?

Would we have spent the last 15 years in a female-centric cable renaissance?

<p>How would TV&nbsp;history be different if HBO&nbsp;had passed on &quot;The Sopranos&quot;&nbsp;for a drama from &quot;My So-Called Life&quot;&nbsp;creator Winnie Holzman?</p>

How would TV history be different if HBO had passed on "The Sopranos" for a drama from "My So-Called Life" creator Winnie Holzman?

Credit: HBO/ABC

This week HitFix is revisiting some of the key turning points in recent entertainment history and considering what would have happened if history had turned a bit differently. What if...?

In the late '90s, HBO executives had to decide what original drama series would be selected to follow the prison series "Oz." According to HBO executive Carolyn Strauss, the choice came down to two ideas: David Chase's New Jersey mob drama "The Sopranos," and a drama about a female business executive from "My So-Called Life" creator Winnie Holzman. HBO picked "The Sopranos," which became an enormous commercial and critical hit, transformed the way we watched and talked about television, and inspired a wave of classic dramas set in a criminal world and/or about middle-aged male anti-heroes.

What if HBO had chosen Winnie Holzman's idea instead of "The Sopranos"? 

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 197: 'Breaking Bad,' 'Alias,' 'Felicity' & more

Dan and Alan also answer your mail

The

On last week's Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, we asked you for lots of reader mail questions, and you rose to the occasion, giving us many more good questions than we had time for, even in one of our longer shows to date — and the first one with Dan recording from the new HitFix offices in LA. Hopefully, we'll get some of the acoustic issues there licked, and soon. In the meantime, we answered lots of mail, discussed last night's "Breaking Bad" and did a J.J. Abrams pilot re-watch double bill with "Felicity" & "Alias."  (Up next, either next week or the week after: "Miami Vice," and watch both parts of "Brother's Keeper," please.) 

The rundown:

Listener Mail: Hamm/Cranston Swap (00:01:45 - 00:07:50)
Listener Mail: Gilligan/Weiner Follow-ups (00:08:00 - 00:15:05)
Listener Mail: OnDemand (00:15:10 - 00:20:40)
Listener Mail: ABC Segmenting (00:20:45 - 00:27:45)
Listener Mail: Podcast Show Selection (00:27:55 - 00:34:00)
"Breaking Bad" (00:34:00 - 01:07:15)
Summer Pilot ReWatch: "Felicity"/"Alias" (01:07:30 - 01:38:20)

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 questions for the podcast.

'In A World...' and my summer at the movies

Looking back on a mix of successful blockbusters and artful indies

<p>Lake Bell in her feature directorial debut, &quot;In A&nbsp;World...&quot;</p>

Lake Bell in her feature directorial debut, "In A World..."

On Saturday, I saw my sixth and almost certainly final movie of the summer: "In A World...," the indie comedy written by, directed by, and starring Lake Bell, about an aspiring voice actress trying to break into the male-dominated world of movie trailer narration. It is, as that description would suggest, a small movie, but also a smart, funny, and at times very poignant one. It also fits into a rich tradition of actors whom the business doesn't quite know what to do with — Bell tends to be cast as the strange woman the hero abandons for his true love interest — deciding that the best way to show what they can do is to write a showcase for themselves. Sylvester Stallone did it with "Rocky," Jon Favreau with "Swingers" (which was also showcasing his buddy Vince), Matt Damon and Ben Affleck with "Good Will Hunting," and here Bell has written the best part anyone's ever given her. There are the usual glitches of any first-time feature director, but Bell  demonstrates — and pardon the terrible pun, given the subject matter, but it's the best word that applies here — a real voice as both writer and director. It's a movie that's about something, in addition to having a lot of good jokes, a sweet romance, etc.

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