Inside Television with Alan Sepinwall
Dan and Alan also discuss 'Orphan Black,' the WGA top 101 list and the latest 'Mad Men'
Welcome to what is, for now, the longest Firewall & Iceberg Podcast ever, featuring exactly one new series ("Graceland") and no listener mail at all, but lots of segments that required lots of discussion, including the WGA list of the 101 best-written TV shows ever, the "Orphan Black" finale, a pivotal "Game of Thrones," a new "Mad Men," and the start of our summer pilot project with "The Sopranos." Speaking of which, next week's pilots are "Cheers" (on Netflix) and "Taxi" (on CBS.com).
"Graceland" (00:01:05 - 00:18:30)
WGA's Top 101 Shows (00:18:30 - 00:38:10)
"Orphan Black" (00:38:30 - 00:57:05)
"Game of Thrones" (00:57:05 - 01:15:10)
"Mad Men" (01:15:15 - 01:40:20)
Summer Rewatch: "The Sopranos" pilot (01:40:30 - 02:01:05)
'White Collar' creator pushes the USA formula in a more serialized direction
A successful undercover cop show, like a successful undercover police operation, requires patience. You need time to establish your characters, develop a relationship with their target, and plausibly get in deep enough for the real action to take place.
Most undercover cop shows — like most of the TV business in general — don't have that patience. They want instant gratification, and throw their heroes into new identities and operations with such speed that it's hard to believe in or care about anything that's happening. Every now and then you get a gem like "Wiseguy" (the '80s classic featuring lengthy guest arcs built around villains played by the likes of Ray Sharkey, Jerry Lewis and a young Kevin Spacey) or "Sleeper Cell" (the great but short-lived Showtime drama about an FBI agent infiltration an extremist Muslim terrorist group), but more often you get completely forgettable dramas like "Prince Street" or "The Handler" or "Dark Blue," where the cops tended to slip in and out of assignments so quickly as to not be worth the bother.
"Graceland," the new USA drama debuting tomorrow night at 10, is attempting to split the difference — just as it's trying to both embrace and expand upon the familiar USA "blue skies" formula.
The WGA includes many worthy series in its top 101, but makes some odd decisions along the way
Last night, the Writers Guild of America released its list of the 101 best-written TV shows of all time, a delayed follow-up to the WGA's 2006 list of the best-written films ever.
While Don and Roger go to California, Joan and Jim stir up revolutions at home
A review of last night's "Mad Men" coming up just as soon as I'm Vasco da Gama and you're some other Mexican...
A wedding doesn't go quite as planned, Bran discovers a new gift, and Dany's men make their move
A review of tonight's "Game of Thrones" coming up just as soon as I can always tell what's going on beneath a dress...
What did everybody think of the AMC drama's return?
"The Killing" returned from the dead tonight on AMC with another two-hour premiere. I published my review earlier in the week. Now it's your turn. For those of you who came back tonight, what did you think? Did it feel like Veena Sud and company learned anything from the problems of seasons 1 and 2? Or did it feel like she just embraced the serial killer zeitgeist to spruce up the show? Were you shocked to see the expression on Linden's face in her introductory scene? Did you like the stuff with Peter Sarsgaard at the prison? The teen runaways in the Jungle? Holder in a suit? And will you watch again?
Have at it.
A thrilling end to an out-of-nowhere great first season
Last night, "Orphan Black" wrapped up what turned out to be a terrific first season on BBC America. Liane Bonin Starr has been covering the series for us for a while (here's her take on the finale), but I caught up just in time for some thoughts of my own (on the finale and the season), coming up just as soon as I throw your felt Christmas angel in the garbage disposal...
Now that Sony is on the verge of rehiring the show's creator, what comes next?
Dan Harmon to the rescue?
A year ago, Sony declined to renew Harmon's contract as "Community" showrunner, for reasons the studio never clarified(*) — though even Harmon himself later acknowledged that he wasn't that easy to deal with, and maybe wasn't worth the bother on such a marginally-rated show. But after a season where "Community" newcomers Moses Port and David Guarascio tried — and often struggled — to continue the show in Harmon's image, the man himself is on the verge of returning. Harmon tweeted that he's coming back, and I'm hearing that the deal isn't officially closed (Sony had no comment), but that signatures are a formality at this point.
Hearst stages a gambit at the Gem, Seth vents frustration on E.B., and Alma feels faint
For the third summer in a row, we're revisiting David Milch's classic revisionist HBO Western "Deadwood," this time discussing the third season.
While I once upon a time posted two separate reviews so people who hadn't watched the whole series would have a safe place to comment, almost no one bothered commenting on the newbie reviews last year, and they've been ditched. If you haven't finished the series, just avoid the comments of this review and you'll be fine.
Thoughts on the season premiere, "Tell Your God to Ready for Blood," coming up just as soon as I tend bar and let people punch me in the face...
Will's mental problems get worse as he chases a killer who reminds him of himself
A quick review of tonight's "Hannibal" — which, in case you missed the joyous news earlier this evening, was renewed by NBC for season 2 — coming up just as soon as I'm officially concerned about you...