thoughts on pop culture

2009 Fall Preview – Thursday

courtesy FX Network

courtesy FX Network


Much like Wednesdays, my Thursday schedule is packed full, with 12.5 hours of programming. Unlike Wednesday, I don’t expect many of Thursday’s shows to wither on the vine.

ABCGrey’s Anatomy and Private Practice stay in the same slots as last year, with Grey’s premiering tonight and Practice joining on October 1st. The new entry from the alphabet network is an apparent attempt to give us Lost fans something to care about until the final season premieres in January. Based on Robert J. Sawyer’s novel, FlashForward’s premise is certainly interesting–a shared vision of the future causes people to question the concept of destiny and whether or not they can change their paths. I’m mostly intrigued by the talented cast, which includes Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love), Courtney B. Vance (Law & Order), Dominic Monaghan (Lost), Sonya Walger (Lost), and John Cho (Harold & Kumar), to name a few. I’ve heard the show doesn’t delve quite deep enough for some early critics, but I think that means the show has a much better chance at winning a large audience than Lost ever did, with its complex mythology. Look for an in-depth review of the premiere episode that aired tonight once I get a chance to watch it this weekend.

CBS – A seriously awesome trio of returning series cover the CBS Thursday lineup including the 19th edition of Survivor, this time in Samoa. CSI keeps its standard spot on the schedule, and now The Mentalist joins in for its sophomore season. At first, I was pissed that they moved Jane and the gang to such a crowded night, but now I see the genius. Private Practice is no match for The Mentalist, FOX doesn’t play in the 10/9 time slot, and Leno doesn’t stand a chance. I can see the CBS press releases now, celebrating their huge ratings victory.

Comedy Central – My love of Tosh.0 is no secret. I’m thrilled Comedy Central ordered more episodes, and I’m confident that Daniel Tosh will continue to bring the funny. There certainly is no shortage of moronic web video to fill his show. New episodes begin on October 8th.

CWI hated Twilight. The only reason I watched the entire movie is so no one could accuse me of giving up before “the best part”. As far as I’m concerned, the best part would have been if vampire guy had let the girl get crushed in the school parking lot 20 minutes in. When I first read the synopsis for The Vampire Diaries, I thought it would probably just be Twilight: The Series, but I’m thrilled to see these vamps don’t sparkle or play baseball in the rain. The series premiered on September 10th, but it’s not too complicated to join midstream.

FX – What’s the funniest current show on television? That’s a tough question to answer, but for me I think the answer is It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which has now entered its fifth season. Based on the premiere last week, it’s lost none of its edge.  FX attempts to round out the rest of the hour starting October 29th, when The League premieres. I’m not sure what the title implies for you, but I was surprised to find out this show focuses not on superheroes or villains, but a group of guys and their fantasy football league. It certainly sounds more believable than last year’s Testees, and I have faith that FX wouldn’t buy into just any old sitcom.

FOXFringe baby! The first season left us wanting so much more, so I was thrilled when FOX had the brains to renew this kickass trip through the multiverse. If you’re interested in all kinds of details on the show, I recommend a trip to, While you’re there, be sure to keep an eye out for Adam Morgan’s weekly episode recaps, which are great for catching up if your DVR screwed you and you missed one.

LifetimeProject Runway premiered back in August, and continues airing its nearly-lost season on its new network. There are some seriously talented designers this year, and I would definitely recommend tuning in, especially now that some of the really shitty folks are gone. Personally, I’m looking forward to the next season, which will be able to air on time now that Lifetime is through with all the legal battles it took to win the show.

NBC – Joel McHale stars in Community, the only new show being added to NBC’s Thursday lineup–filling the hole left by last year’s dreadful Kath & Kim. The show premiered last week and my full review can be found here. Returning series include SNL Weekend Update Thursday, Parks & Recreation, The Office, and 30 Rock. Everything premiered last week, with the exception of 30 Rock, which joins the schedule on October 15th after SNL transitions off the schedule.

September 24, 2009 Posted by | Banished, Comedy, Drama, Internet, New Series, Premiere, Reality, Renewed, Scifi, Technology, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 2009 Fall Preview – Thursday

Thursday Premieregasm Tonight!

Just a quick reminder of tonight’s big premieres:

Survivor: Samoa
SNL Weekend Update Thursday
Parks and Recreation
The Office
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I’ll be recording them all, but I’ll probably only watch Fringe, The Office, Sunny, and Survivor tonight. The rest (plus a new Project Runway) will have to wait for this weekend.

September 17, 2009 Posted by | Comedy, Drama, New Series, Premiere, Reality, Renewed, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Thursday Premieregasm Tonight!

Cancellation Lament

Now that the networks have announced their fall schedules, we know which shows won’t be coming back. I think some obituaries are in order.

This list doesn’t contain every cancellation, but it does contain all the ones I care about.


Dirty Sexy Money – How many times will this network take a show featuring the incredibly talented Peter Krause, give it minimal support, and cancel it prematurely? Admittedly, this show suffered from a lack of focus, but I think it had a shot at being a modern day Dynasty or Dallas. I blame the writer’s strike for most of the ratings problems, since it never really had a chance to find an audience. The final handful of episodes will air Saturdays at 10/9 starting July 18th.

Pushing Daisies – I understand the stunning visuals were not cheap to create, but once again a truly unique show has been cancelled too soon. While I didn’t care for the Kristen Chenowith sing-a-longs, I loved the combination of fairy-tale and noir that filled each episode. Jim Dale’s outstanding narration worked perfectly with the subject matter, and the original plots allowed for some great guest appearances. The silver lining is that ABC has decided to air the three remaining episodes on Saturdays at 10/9 starting May 30th. Keep in mind though that these episodes aren’t expected to fully resolve the story.

Eli Stone – I realize I just finished saying I didn’t care for the singing on Pushing Daisies, but at least Eli Stone’s musical numbers were part of the plot. In fact, they acknowledged the absurdity of musical numbers in general by making them take place only in Eli’s aneurysm-addled brain. Sadly, this is the third member of ABC’s ill-fated ’07-’08 trio of shows with ratings that got decimated by the strike. Like the other two, the final episodes will be shown in the Saturday 10/9 slot, starting June 20th. As for the cast, star Jonny Lee Miller has gone back to his native England and will be in the BBC’s latest version of Jane Austen’s Emma, airing later this year. The excellent Victor Garber is headed to Fox’s new show Glee to play the father of Will, the glee club director, so I’m sure we can count on hearing his tenor again in primetime.


Worst Week – Based on the ratings, this show may have gotten tired for many people, but I thought it actually improved dramatically as the season went on. I recommend putting the complete series DVD set in your Netflix queue once it is released later this year. Also, since she was added for two episodes very near the end of the season, I’m starting to wonder if Rachael Harris is a black widow for new shows. (see In The Motherhood, Notes from the Underbelly, Pushing Daisies, Emily’s Reasons Why Not)

Eleventh Hour – Like Worst Week, this was another show based on a UK original that didn’t catch on with the American audience. The chemistry between Rufus Sewell and Marley Shelton took a little to long to develop, but I believe the real downfall of this show was the subject matter. In a grid full of procedurals, new shows have to stand out if they are going to stick around long. I enjoyed the show, in fact it reminded me a lot of the quickly-cancelled Medical Investigation from NBC a few years ago. Unfortunately, in a year where Fringe premiered, the mysteries on this show were just not ‘out there’ enough. And holding less than half of its CSI lead-in audience was just not good enough. I’m sure both actors will land on their feet, in fact they have both booked film gigs already.


Life – Granted, the second season was not as tight as the first, but Life had that unique quality that set itself apart from other shows. Crews’ zen approach to detective work was just as compelling for me as Bobby Goren on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. I can’t complain too much about this cancellation though, since I’m just now watching the final three episodes as I write this post. Ultimately, I think this is the kind of show that belongs on cable. The kind of season-long underlying plot lines Life showcased remind me more of Damages than CSI. Damian Lewis is a great talent who will have no problem booking other jobs, and I hope Adam Arkin finds a new home as well. Arkin had three movies slated for 2009 and actually directed two of the final episodes of Life, so his prospects would appear to be pretty good.

My Name Is Earl – I’ll be the first to admit that this fourth season hasn’t been even close to the quality of the first three, but I don’t think the reason is a big mystery. Starting at the end of the third season, there was a complete departure from the simple “do something from Earl’s list” premise. Creator Greg Garcia announced a return to the original formula for the fourth season, but there were still way too many episodes that focused on things like Darnell and Joy in Witness Protection, and the disappearance of Ernie, the owner of the Crab Shack who we have never previously seen or cared about. I’d like to see this get picked up by Fox, ABC, or TBS as rumored, just to see if they can right the ship by returning to what made the show great.

May 24, 2009 Posted by | Cancelled, Comedy, Drama, New Series, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Cancellation Lament

Fringe Season 1 Episode 20: There’s More Than One of Everything

I am thrilled that Fox has picked up Fringe for another season. If last night’s season finale had instead been the end of the series, it would have been cruel. We obviously have a long journey ahead of us, and I can’t wait.

The episode started with Massive Dynamic’s Nina Sharp being worked on at the hospital due to a gunshot wound. We find out that it’s David Robert Jones who’s responsible, and after some prodding, Nina reveals to Olivia and Phillip that Jones removed an extremely powerful power cell from her artificial arm. She also explains that it was William Bell who hid the power cell in her arm to begin with. Apparently Jones was once an up-and-coming employee at Massive Dynamic, but had a falling out with Bell.

Jones doesn’t waste any time putting the power cell to work. He finds a quiet street and uses the cell to power a device that opens up some kind of gateway to an alternate universe. The gateway is unstable though, and a most of a semi truck makes it through before the back end is sliced off, leaving a rather unique piece of wreckage. Once the FBI team arrives, we discover just how unique, when it is confirmed there is no record of any part of the truck being manufactured in our universe. 

While Olivia and her team are busy chasing down Jones, Walter and the Observer go off on a search of their own. The Observer escorts Walter to the shore, and to a beach house Walter spent a lot of time in many years ago. The Observer then explains he has already overstepped his bounds and can go no further. He hands Walter a silver dollar and asks if he remembers what he has to find. Walter does not remember, but goes toward the house alone anyway.

Back in the city, we see that Peter has truly come a long way from the first time we saw him–it is obvious that he truly cares for Walter, and we see Peter’s concern about the whereabouts and well-being of his father. Once Peter tracks him down to the beach house, a childhood memory of Peter’s helps Walter remember what he was supposed to look for. Some kind of strange telescope-like device that he and Bell used to use to connect to the other universe while tripping on LSD.

Ultimately we have a final showdown between Jones’s crew and Olivia’s. There is some serious ass-kicking, the opening of a pretty stable gateway between the two universes, and finally Peter uses the funny-looking telescope thing to close the portal just as Jones is passing through.  We end up with an awesome sliced in half version of Jones with a kind of “Are you kidding me?” look on his face.

I thought that was the big climax of the episode, but then Peter comes to the lab to find a note from Walter.

“Stepping out for a bit. Don’t worry about me son, I know where I’m going.”

Peter doesn’t seem worried, and we cut to Walter returning to the cemetery we’ve seen him at before. This time we get to see the tombstone he’s been crying over.  It’s Peter’s, and it says he was seven years old when he died. I actually had to pause the show for this complete “Holy fucking shit!” moment. So Walter’s Peter did drown, and somehow Walter brought the Peter from the other universe (with The Observer’s help?) back to raise as his own. This opens up a whole array of possibilities for the show that I hadn’t even considered.

Olivia then gets a call from Nina to schedule a meeting with Bell. Olivia goes to the destination and thinks she’s been stood up. As she gets on the elevator to leave the building, we see her skip between universes briefly, then the elevator door opens and she is greeted by name by a woman who leads her to an office. There’s a newspaper with the headline “Obamas set to move into new White House” lying on the desk. William Bell then enters. Olivia asks where they are and who he is. He introduces himself, but says the answer to her other question is more complicated. The camera backs out over Olivia’s shoulder and out of the office window–then backs out further to reveal that the meeting is taking place in one of the World Trade Center towers–END.

This took some massive balls, and quite frankly I’m thrilled someone has finally decided to slaughter the sacred cow of 9/11 on mainstream television. I can’t think of a more potent way to show the difference between two alternate versions of New York City than to use 9/11. I hope this is exactly the kind of bold storytelling we can expect when season two starts in the fall.

May 13, 2009 Posted by | Drama, Renewed, Science, Scifi, Season Finale, Technology, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Fringe Season 1 Episode 20: There’s More Than One of Everything

Fringe Picked Up for Season 2

I’m a little late on this one, but FOX announced yesterday that they have picked up Fringe with a full-season order for 2009-10.

The full press release at

May 5, 2009 Posted by | Drama, Renewed, Science, Scifi, Technology, Television | , , | Comments Off on Fringe Picked Up for Season 2