Lie to Me review and thoughts at Seat42F

I’d actually be really interested in feedback you might have on this piece.

You can read it here: LIE TO ME Summer Preview Review

Posted under analysis

This post was written by Shawna on June 7, 2010

Tags: , ,

TV News for 5/12

Fox renews “Human Target,” “Lie to Me”; picks up “Traffic Light” “Keep Hope Alive” “Midland” and “RideAlong”

Fox picks up ‘Running Wilde’ – Was ‘Wilde Kingdom’, this is the Will Arnett pilot. I read it – it’s good.

Having read MIDLAND and RIDEALONG, I can say those were ones I was expecting.  Haven’t caught up on all the half hour shows, so not sure about those two.  Really surprised that both HUMAN TARGET and LIE TO ME got picked up, as most people were thinking only one of the two would live.  I guess losing 24 does leave an action gap.

FX picks up comedy pilot ‘Wilfred’

NBC picks up ‘Perfect Couples’- I won’t be watching this show for one reason: OLIVIA MUNN. Though you may watch it because of her.

NBC has already picked up “The Chase”, “Undercovers,”  “Love Bites,” “The Event” and “Outsourced.”   “Law & Order: Los Angeles” (LOLA) is pretty much a done deal too, from what I’ve seen.

ABC picks up “No Ordinary Family” - stars Michael Chiklis, written by Greg Berlanti and Jon Feldman.

ABC hasn’t announced any other pickups so far.

 “Hawaii Five-0″ appears to be a go on CBS, as does the “Criminal Minds” spin-off.  The CW has already picked up “Nikita.”

Upfronts are next week.

FINAL NOTE: I am now writing reviews/articles for Seat42F.  I’ll start linking you guys to my articles.  If anyone would help out the cause by starting/contributing conversation over there (even if you need to trash me) – feel free.  Need to earn my keep.

Okay UPDATE WITH FINAL FINAL NOTE: I’m posting this stuff primarily to keep everyone updated on shows coming back.  So, if you have a LIE TO ME spec, you’re good for another season.  HUMAN TARGET can now be specced (though its value as a spec is still somewhat debatable –is anyone in town watching it?)

Posted under tv news, watch list

This post was written by Shawna on May 12, 2010

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

“Glee”ful no more.

I’m done with GLEE.  This may be the most controversial thing I’ve written in awhile.

Yes, I started out on the train, right from last fall.  I was inspired by their rendition of “Don’t Stop Believin'” but since the break, I feel the show has gone 0 for 3 in making me feel as charmed as I did a few months ago.

Problem #1 TOO MANY SONGS

I know.  It seems blasphemous on the surface to even say that, but the last three episodes have been nonsensically stuffed to the gills with songs.  The Madonna themed episode can be somewhat excused, but really – what the hell did the “Vogue” video have to do with telling that story?  NOTHING.  It was there because the writers wanted it to be.

As we (should) all know, you don’t put things in a story just because you as the writer want them to be there.  It has to make sense for the story and for the characters.  The Sue Sylvester video, while cool and interesting, didn’t serve any real purpose for the show. 

I wouldn’t mind the number of songs per episode if they didn’t feel so obviously jammed in there now.  For some reason they’ve felt the need to really try to tie the songs together thematically much closer to the story, so now you get “here are some songs about saying ‘Hello’ while we are meeting new characters” or “here are some songs about ‘Home’ while our characters try to figure out where their homes are’ (metaphorically, of course.  Rachel didn’t suddenly get lost in town and couldn’t find her house).  The Madonna theme was even a stretch, though I understood why they did it.

Let’s break out the songs from one of the first episodes and compare with the songs in the most recent episode: 

Episode 2 (we’ll start with it, since it’s more indicative of the show I came to enjoy than the pilot):

“Say a Little Prayer”
“Take a Bow”
“Gold Digger”
“Push It”

That’s, on average, one song per act.  Yes, there are one or two other songs used in the episode, but not as full songs or only in the background.  Now, here’s what we got this week with Episode 16:

“A House is Not a Home”
“One Less Bell to Answer”
“Fire”
“Beautiful”
“Home”

On the surface this doesn’t seem like a big difference (only one additional song, right?) except that “A House is Not a Home” also got a HUGE reprise in “One Less Bell to Answer.”  Also, think about it from a number of minutes standpoint.  In episode 2, they spent, approximately, 12 minutes in songs.  Of course there’s some story stuff going on while they are singing, but at least two of the songs are just sung in the classroom or on the stage as show numbers, not as part of the narrative.  In episode 16, there was singing for nearly 18 minutes!  Out of 42 minutes, that is a HUGE chunk of time your characters are not talking or furthering the story.  There is so little dialog in fact, that the episode feels loosely strung together as opposed to intricately weaved.  Storylines which should all come together seem to wander off.  The strongest story for Episode 16 was regarding Kurt and Finn’s single parents dating each other (which, I like the idea of, in theory, but there being absolutely NO setup for this narrative thread was annoying and distressing).  That story kept getting bogged down with songs that really seemed to not deal with the issues of that story – that is, Finn moving on from mourning his dead father and Kurt feeling left out of the male bonding Finn has with Kurt’s dad.  Those are powerful, interesting character reactions, and yet they are given short shrift because, at least by the show’s logic, it’s more important that we find a way to work Kristen Chenowith back into the story (after her one and done episode felt pretty played out already), and allow her to sing 2 duets with Matthew Morrison.  Really?  I like the adults, but I thought this show was about the kids??

Problem #2 THEY HAVE FORGOTTEN WHO THEIR CHARACTERS ARE AND HOW THEY SHOULD BEHAVE

The bigger sin than there being too much singing, is that the characters aren’t acting like their established selves, and they haven’t actually been given good justification or reason to suddenly act differently.  Detailing all of the ways the characters have shifted in just 3 episodes could take all day, but I’ll just point out one: There is no way on God’s green Earth that Diana Agron’s Quinn would reach out to Mercedes.  Suddenly the evil cheerleader is nice to her?  NO. WAY.  They’ve established that Quinn’s a conniving itch with a B, and yet now she’s all sunshine and light because she’s pregnant?  What the hell planet are the (male) writers living on?  She may have some sympathy, but it’s almost character whiplash to change her so significantly so quickly.  If there hadn’t been a 3 month long break halfway into the season, I think the character differences would be even MORE noticeable.  Not to mention, there’s always been a certain level of silliness to the show (which I happily accepted) – like somehow Mr. Shue not uncovering Teri’s fake pregnancy for as long as that went on (I mean, come ON), but I gave the show a pass because it had been pretty entertaining anyway.

I guess I’m all out of passes now.

I like Sue Sylvester – she’s my favorite character of the show – the writers obviously love writing her lines, and she always has the best ones.  In fact, when they gave Shuster a “good” comeback for Sue, it actually felt out of character for him (worse they couldn’t settle for one comeback, they gave him two about her hair).  Worse, it didn’t work for HER character — she’s hurt that he made fun of her hair?? Seriously?  That is NOT how the character has been established.  I love the depth they’ve given Jane Lynch to work with, but the blackmailing story is so silly it isn’t even dignified for her to play it for more than one episode.

Problem #3 SOME CHARACTERS HAVE COMPLETELY DISAPPEARED (SO FAR)

Ken Tanaka?  MIA except for a brief mention in Episode 14, the first one back from the break.  The man was LEFT AT THE ALTAR!!  And they haven’t dealt with that?  This is the problem of not keeping track of all of your characters in an ensemble and giving them fair treatment.  What about Teri?  She was also in Episode 14, but nowhere to be found in 15 or 16.  That’s a long time to not have any contact with a character who played a pretty vital role in the first half of the season.  Even Emma (Jayma Mays) had no lines in Episode 16, and she has a pretty big story going on herself – she left Tanaka at the aisle and started (almost) dating Shuster.

On the flipside…

Problem #4 THERE ARE TOO MANY CHARACTERS

The mix they had going into the break was good.  The snarky cheerleader spies Santana and Brittany were great for small bits, but now they are getting expanded roles.  Why?  In part, because they were so great in the small bits, the writers want to use them more.  The downside is the more ‘gay shark’ lines you let Brittany say and the more you let Santana take over the Quinn bitchiness, the less time you have for all those other characters.  It’s no wonder they are starting to get lost in the shuffle.  Like the poor Asian girl (who, I actually couldn’t remember her name as I was typing this) – Tina!  She already has a tough time establishing herself as one of the ‘minor’ characters.  She certainly doesn’t need anyone else eating into her screentime.  The actress, Jenna Ushkowitz, was the one person on the Paley Festival panel WHO DIDN’T GET ASKED A QUESTION. AT ALL.  That’s just wrong.  You don’t make the person sit on the stage with 10 of your coworkers (or however many were there) and then not ask her at least one question.  I felt so bad for her.

Problem #5 STOP WITH THE TOKENISM

It’s one thing to have diversity.  It’s another to consciously choose that diversity so that those characters become emblems or symbols…poor Tina is ‘token Asian girl’ and as much as the show would like to say, ‘hey, she’s not REALLY the token Asian girl – look! We didn’t give her good grades or some other horrible stereotype!’ She’s still there to make use of the fact that she’s ‘the token Asian girl’ in stories.  It’s ridiculous.  It all needs to stop.  Focusing an episode on each person’s issues/problems/whatever is fine, but when it gets to the point that we don’t really know who they are and what they’re doing there, it just gets stupid.  Finn is a great character.  Did he have to be white to be that character?  Nope.  But that’s who he is.  But Artie? — so far, Artie is defined by his wheelchair.  What’s weird is that the characters sometimes know this about themselves (as do the writers – they put it into their dialog all the time).  In the Madonna episode, Mercedes felt she was only being given small solos in songs so she could sing the power notes at the end… AND SHE’S RIGHT!  She’s had one or two solos on the show now, but usually her singing is to hit a particularly bluesy/soul/ power phrase in a song.  So, if the writers know this is how they are using their characters, why do they keep doing it?

I think they want to stop.  I think that’s why they’ve started changing up the character reactions to things…but unfortunately, those reactions aren’t organic to the characters as they have been established (see Problem #2).  It’s just a mess.

Problem #6 SUBTLETY IS NOT AN OPTION

This show doesn’t know nuance.  It doesn’t know how to make a theme interesting and tie together multiple storylines without hammering you on the head.  As I mentioned earlier, the theme of ‘Home’, that is, finding your own sense of home was so muddled and weird and made no sense, the characters had to keep saying ‘Home’ in lines of dialog just so it would make sense.  The effect: Like someone striking me repeatedly with a SLEDGEHAMMER.  When your characters keep stating your theme, it is no longer interesting, clever storytelling.  It is insulting your audience.  I don’t care if the themes are good or powerful – I know the show wants to be a positive force for kids – but kids are smarter than this show gives them credit for.  Hell, Disney Channel shows do theme better than this!  Kids do not need to be texted (modern telegraphing) WHAT THE EPISODE IS ABOUT.  They’ll figure it out without the characters telling them.

I thought my annoyance at the first two episodes back was an anomaly, but when this week’s episode was EVEN WORSE than the two before it, I knew I was ready to jump off the GLEE train.  Which is sad, because I really enjoyed it, but I think they learned the wrong lessons as to what was making the show work and what wasn’t.  Maybe this will change in future episodes and they’ll find their rhythm again.  All I know is I’m not going to jump to watch GLEE on my DVR as I did before — it has moved down the priority list pretty far.

So, what say you?  Do you still love it?  Did you EVER love it?  Am I out of my skull?  Inquiring minds and all that.

Posted under analysis, writing

This post was written by Shawna on April 29, 2010

Tags: , , , , , ,

The first victim

Congrats to the CW for beating Fox to the (usual) punch of canceling the first show of the new season!  CW handed walking papers to “The Beautiful Life” on Friday.  I never read it.  I never watched it.  It had zero appeal to me.  Still not sure why CW greenlit it (was it just the Ashton Kutcher involvement?  It couldn’t have been Mischa Barton).

A&E has canceled “The Cleaner.”  TBS confirmed that “The Bill Engvall Show” is no more.

And “Dollhouse”… what shall we do with you?

Re-runs of two ABC sitcoms from earlier in the week had more viewers.  You barely beat “Smallville.”

Perhaps Whedon fans need to get off their computers for one day and watch some flippin’ TV.

Just sayin’.

Posted under tv news, watch list

This post was written by Shawna on September 26, 2009

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Upfronts 2009: Fox announces fall schedule

[This is the FOX press release.  My thoughts on this schedule are at the bottom]

FOX ANNOUNCES PRIMETIME SLATE FOR 2009-2010 SEASON

FOUR NEW COMEDIES, TWO NEW DRAMAS AND ONE LATE-NIGHT SHOW JOIN SCHEDULE

RYAN MURPHY’S NEW COMEDY “GLEE” TO PREMIERE IN FALL AFTER UNPRECEDENTED PREVIEW EVENT TOMORROW NIGHT

NEW COMEDIES “BROTHERS” AND “THE CLEVELAND SHOW” DEBUT IN FALL

NEW SATURDAY LATE-NIGHT ENTRY “THE WANDA SYKES SHOW” (working title) SLATED FOR FALL LAUNCH

NEW ACTION DRAMA SERIES “HUMAN TARGET,” MYSTERIOUS DRAMA “PAST LIFE” AND COMEDY “SONS OF TUCSON” DEBUT MIDSEASON

“SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE” Returns in the Fall

“HUMAN TARGET” and “24” Premiere Sunday, January 17 Following NFC Divisional Playoff Game

New York (Monday, May 18, 2009) Peter Rice, Chairman, Entertainment; and Kevin Reilly, President, Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company, today unveiled the FOX primetime schedule for the 2009-2010 television season to the national advertising community during its annual Programming Presentation at New York City Center.

“As the No.1 network for the last five years, FOX is the first place viewers go to connect with the stories and characters they love,” said Rice. “With next year’s slate of distinctive shows, we’re continuing to invest in creativity to give viewers the rich, emotional experience they can only get on television.”

Reilly added, “The strategic moves we made last year to build off of our biggest assets are paying off. We’ve created stability and consistently strong performance across the week. Next season, we’re bringing back two top-rated sophomore dramas and using our hits to introduce a broad and compelling slate of new shows that will make our air even more vibrant and alive.”

After a special preview event airing Tuesday, May 19 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT), GLEE, the distinctive new comedy from Ryan Murphy (“Nip/Tuck”) starring Jane Lynch (“The 40 Year Old Virgin”) and newcomers Matthew Morrison (Broadway’s “Hairspray”), Lea Michele (“Spring Awakening”) and Cory Monteith (“Kyle XY”), will enter its freshman year this fall. Combining biting humor with a soundtrack of hit music from past to present, the inventive series follows an optimistic high school teacher who against all odds attempts to restore McKinley High’s fading Glee Club to its former glory, while helping a group of underdogs realize their true star potential.

Two additional new comedies will premiere this fall. From the producers of FAMILY GUY, comes THE CLEVELAND SHOW. The new Sunday night animated comedy follows everyone’s favorite soft-spoken FAMILY GUY neighbor, CLEVELAND BROWN (Mike Henry), who moves with his son back to his hometown in Virginia and settles down with his high school sweetheart and her unruly kids. Copy/pasted from The Futon Critic BROTHERS, starring Michael Strahan (“FOX NFL Sunday”) and Daryl “Chill” Mitchell (“Ed,” “Veronica’s Closet”), is a new half-hour comedy about a former big-city NFL hot shot who returns home to his family and his mother’s house to get his life back on track.

On Saturday, Nov. 7 (11:00 PM-Midnight ET/PT), late night will never be the same when Emmy Award winner Wanda Sykes returns to FOX to host THE WANDA SYKES SHOW (working title). The irreverent Saturday late-night series will feature Sykes’ outspoken comedic perspective on current events along with topical, high-energy roundtable discussions.

The new event drama, HUMAN TARGET, premieres with a special preview Sunday, Jan. 17 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) following the NFC Divisional Playoff game. HUMAN TARGET is a full-throttle, action-packed thrill ride from executive producers McG (“Terminator Salvation”) and Simon West (“Con Air,” “Tomb Raider”). Based on the popular DC Comics graphic novel and starring Mark Valley (FRINGE), Chi McBride (“Pushing Daisies”) and Academy Award nominee Jackie Earle Haley (“Watchmen”), the series follows CHRISTOPHER CHANCE (Valley), a unique private contractor who will stop at nothing even if it means becoming a human target to keep his clients alive.

The other drama for midseason is PAST LIFE, a fast-paced emotional thriller inspired by the book “The Reincarnationist.” The series stars Kelli Giddish (“All My Children”) as a gifted psychologist and Nicholas Bishop (“Home and Away”) as a former NYPD detective who work together to explore and unravel mysteries that must be solved in both the past and the present.

One new comedy is scheduled to premiere in midseason. From three-time Emmy Award winner Todd Holland (“Malcolm in the Middle”), the non-traditional family comedy SONS OF TUCSON stars Tyler Labine (“Reaper”) as a charming but wayward schemer hired by three young brothers whose father is in prison.

Summer sensation SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE moves to the fall with its sixth season. Hosted by Cat Deeley and featuring renowned judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy, the original dance competition series will continue to inspire and amaze viewers as dancers skilled in styles ranging from hip-hop to ballroom compete to be named America’s Favorite Dancer.

It was also announced that the eighth season of 24 will return to the FOX schedule with a two-night, four-hour premiere as part of a special extended primetime on Sunday, Jan. 17 (9:00-11:00 PM ET/PT), immediately following the premiere of HUMAN TARGET. The next installment of the Emmy Award-winning series starring Kiefer Sutherland will unfold in New York City, amidst the shadows of the Statue of Liberty and the United Nations.

Other FOX series returning in 2009-2010 include: AMERICAN DAD, AMERICAN IDOL, AMERICA’S MOST WANTED, BONES, COPS, DOLLHOUSE, FAMILY GUY, FRINGE, HELL’S KITCHEN, HOUSE, KITCHEN NIGHTMARES, LIE TO ME, THE SIMPSONS and ‘TIL DEATH. Specials returning to the FOX schedule include: THE 41st NAACP IMAGE AWARDS, NEW YEAR’S EVE LIVE and TEEN CHOICE 2009.

Following are the FOX primetime schedule for 2009-2010 and synopses of the new series:

FOX PRIMETIME SCHEDULE: FALL 2009 (All Times ET/PT)

MONDAY
8:00-9:00 PM HOUSE
9:00-10:00 PM LIE TO ME

TUESDAY
8:00-10:00 PM SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Performance Show

WEDNESDAY
8:00-9:00 PM SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Results Show
9:00-10:00 PM GLEE

THURSDAY
8:00-9:00 PM BONES
9:00-10:00 PM FRINGE

FRIDAY
8:00-8:30 PM BROTHERS
8:30-9:00 PM ‘TIL DEATH
9:00-10:00 PM DOLLHOUSE

SATURDAY
8:00-8:30 PM COPS
8:30-9:00 PM COPS
9:00-10:00 PM AMERICA’S MOST WANTED
11:00 PM-Midnight THE WANDA SYKES SHOW (working title)
Midnight-12:30 AM ANIMATION DOMINATION ENCORES

SUNDAY
7:00-8:00 PM THE OT (NFL post-game)
8:00-8:30 PM THE SIMPSONS
8:30-9:00 PM THE CLEVELAND SHOW
9:00-9:30 PM FAMILY GUY
9:30-10:00 PM AMERICAN DAD

FOX PRIMETIME SCHEDULE: MIDSEASON 2010 (All Times ET/PT)

MONDAY
8:00-9:00 PM HOUSE
9:00-10:00 PM 24

TUESDAY
8:00-9:00 PM AMERICAN IDOL Performance Show
9:00-10:00 PM PAST LIFE

WEDNESDAY
8:00-9:00 PM AMERICAN IDOL Results Show
9:00-10:00 PM HUMAN TARGET (January) / GLEE (spring)

THURSDAY
8:00-9:00 PM BONES
9:00-10:00 PM FRINGE

FRIDAY
8:00-8:30 PM BROTHERS
8:30-9:00 PM ‘TIL DEATH
9:00-10:00 PM DOLLHOUSE

SATURDAY
8:00-8:30 PM COPS
8:30-9:00 PM COPS
9:00-10:00 PM AMERICA’S MOST WANTED
11:00 PM-Midnight THE WANDA SYKES SHOW (working title)
Midnight-12:30 AM ANIMATION DOMINATION ENCORES

SUNDAY
7:00-7:30 PM ANIMATION DOMINATION ENCORES
7:30-8:00 PM AMERICAN DAD
8:00-8:30 PM THE SIMPSONS
8:30-9:00 PM SONS OF TUCSON
9:00-9:30 PM FAMILY GUY
9:30-10:00 PM THE CLEVELAND SHOW

2009-2010 FOX PRIMETIME SCHEDULE

NEW SERIES SYNOPSES

The following new comedies will premiere this fall on FOX:

GLEE

McKinley High School’s Glee Club used to be at the top of the show choir world, but years later, it has turned into a haven for misfits and social outcasts. But at McKinley, things for the Glee Club are about to change. From Ryan Murphy, the creator of “Nip/Tuck,” comes GLEE, an uplifting comedy musical series with biting humor that features a soundtrack of hit music from past to present. The show follows an optimistic high school teacher as he tries to refuel his own passion for singing while reinventing the school’s glee club and challenging a group of underdogs to realize their star potential. WILL SCHUESTER (Matthew Morrison) has offered to take on the Herculean task of restoring McKinley’s Glee Club to its former glory with the help of fellow teacher and germaphobe EMMA PILLSBURY (Jayma Mays). It’s a tall order when the brightest stars of the club include KURT (Chris Colfer), a nerdy soprano with a flair for the dramatic; MERCEDES (Amber Riley), a dynamic diva-in-training who refuses to sing back-up; ARTIE (Kevin McHale), a geeky guitarist who spends more time avoiding bullies than chasing girls; and TINA (Jenna Ushkowitz), an awkward girl who needs to suppress her stutter before she can take center stage. Will’s only hope lies with two true talents: RACHEL BERRY (Lea Michele), a perfectionist firecracker who is convinced that show choir is her ticket to stardom; and FINN HUDSON (Cory Monteith), the popular high school quarterback with movie star looks and a Motown voice who must protect his reputation with his holier-than-thou girlfriend and head cheerleader, QUINN (Dianna Agron), and his arrogant football teammate, PUCK (Mark Salling). Driven by his secret past, Will is determined to do whatever it takes to make Glee great again, even though everyone around him thinks he’s nuts. He’s out to prove them all wrong from his tough-as-nails wife TERRI SCHUESTER (Jessalyn Gilsig) to McKinley’s scheming cheerleading coach SUE SYLVESTER (Jane Lynch) to an ber-hip world that thinks jazz hands and sequined tuxedos litter the road to infamy rather than pave the way to Hollywood dreams.

PRODUCTION COMPANIES: 20th Century Fox Television, Ryan Murphy Television

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Dante Di Loreto

CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Ian Brennan, John Peter Kousakis

DIRECTOR: Ryan Murphy

CAST: Dianna Agron as Quinn, Chris Colfer as Kurt, Jessalyn Gilsig as Terri Schuester, Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester, Jayma Mays as Emma Pillsbury, Kevin McHale as Artie, Lea Michele as Rachel Berry, Cory Monteith as Finn Hudson, Matthew Morrison as Will Schuester, Amber Riley as Mercedes, Mark Salling as Puck, Jenna Ushkowitz as Tina

THE CLEVELAND SHOW

THE CLEVELAND SHOW is a new animated series that follows everyone’s favorite soft-spoken neighbor, CLEVELAND BROWN (Mike Henry), to his hometown in Virginia as he settles down with his high school sweetheart, her unruly kids and his own 14-year-old son, CLEVELAND JR. (Kevin Michael Richardson). Many years ago, Cleveland was a high school student madly in love with a beautiful girl named DONNA (Sanaa Lathan). Much to his dismay, his love went unrequited, and Donna wound up marrying another man. Cleveland once told Donna he would always love her, and if this man ever done her wrong, he’d be there when she called. Well, this man done her wrong. Donna’s husband ran off, leaving Donna with a teenage daughter and a young son. Now she’s open to Cleveland and has offered him another chance at love. Unattached after the Loretta-Quagmire debacle and true to his word, Cleveland joyously reunites with Donna, and he and Cleveland Jr. move to Virginia to join their new family. Once in Virginia, there are a few surprises in store for Cleveland, including ROBERTA (Reagan Gomez-Preston), a rebellious new stepdaughter; RALLO (Henry), his new 5-year-old stepson who loves the ladies; and a collection of neighbors that includes a loudmouth redneck, LESTER (Richardson); a hipster wanna-be, HOLT (guest voice Jason Sudeikis); and a religious pair of talking bears, TIM (Seth MacFarlane) and his wife ARIANNA (guest voice Arianna Huffington).

PRODUCTION COMPANY: 20th Century Fox Television

CO-CREATORS/EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Seth MacFarlane, Rich Appel, Mike Henry

VOICE CAST: Mike Henry as Cleveland Brown, Rallo and others; Sanaa Lathan as Donna Tubbs; Reagan Gomez-Preston as Roberta Tubbs; Kevin Michael Richardson as Lester and Cleveland Jr.

GUEST VOICES: Arianna Huffington as Arianna, Jason Sudeikis as Holt

BROTHERS

Starring Michael Strahan (“FOX NFL Sunday”) and Daryl “Chill” Mitchell (“Ed,” “Veronica’s Closet”), BROTHERS is a new half-hour comedy about a former NFL hot shot who learns that even though you can always go home again, the trip back might be tougher than you think. MIKE TRAINOR (Strahan) seemingly has it all he’s a good-looking, wealthy and recently retired NFL player living the high-life in New York City, but he’s about to get sidelined. When Mike gets a phone call from his MOM (CCH Pounder, “The Shield”) who orders him home to Houston, he quickly realizes the more his life has changed, the more his family has stayed the same. His brother CHILL (Daryl “Chill” Mitchell), whose life was altered drastically after a car accident left him in a wheelchair, is struggling to keep his restaurant afloat with the help of his loudmouth associate, ROSCOE (Colton Dunn, “MADtv”). The dynamics between Mike and Chill are the same as when they were kids, and their sibling rivalry hasn’t lessened with age. If they can stop their bickering, put aside their differences and learn to be teammates, the brothers might just turn out to be each other’s biggest asset. Copy/pasted from The Futon Critic Wedged between Mike and Chill are their parents. Their father, whom everyone refers to as COACH (Carl Weathers, “Rocky”), is the local high school football coach and the conservative, opinionated alpha male of his clan. Coach thinks he runs the show, but really it’s Mom who calls the shots. Saucy, stern and a schemer, she is the mastermind of the family. And when she learns that Mike’s business manager took off with all his money, she orchestrates a plan to keep Mike in Houston, save Chill’s restaurant and bring the family back together under one roof again all without anyone realizing what she’s up to. Mom’s plan helps Mike realize that his family however dysfunctional they may be is the only family he’s got. And although he may not have a penny to his name, as long as he’s surrounded by people who love him, he’ll always be a rich man.

PRODUCTION COMPANIES: Sony Pictures Television; Tantamount Studios; Impact Zone Productions, Inc.

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Eric Tannenbaum, Kim Tannenbaum, Mitch Hurwitz, Don Reo

DIRECTOR: Ted Wass

CAST: Michael Strahan as Mike, Daryl “Chill” Mitchell as Chill, CCH Pounder as Mom, Carl Weathers as Coach, Colton Dunn as Roscoe

The following new late-night series will premiere this fall:

THE WANDA SYKES SHOW (working title)

Emmy Award-winning actress, comedian and author Wanda Sykes returns to FOX to host the innovative and irreverent new Saturday late-night series, THE WANDA SYKES SHOW (working title). The high-energy one-hour show will feature biting commentary on topical issues and heated panel discussions with recurring personalities. The series’ unique format will highlight Sykes’ outspoken comedic perspective on current events and will also allow her to leave the studio to shoot segments in the field.

PRODUCTION COMPANY: Fox Television Studios

HOST: Wanda Sykes

The following new dramas are slated for a midseason launch:

HUMAN TARGET

It takes a brave, selfless man to make himself a “human target” in order to save the lives of those in danger. Based on the popular DC Comics graphic novel, HUMAN TARGET is a full-throttle action drama centered on CHRISTOPHER CHANCE (Mark Valley, FRINGE), a unique private contractor/security guard hired to protect. Call him what you like, because for Chance, it’s about one thing only: saving his clients’ lives. When there is an unusual or imminent threat that can’t be solved through “normal” means of protection, Chance is hired to completely integrate himself into his clients’ lives to become the human target. If you’re a corporate manager whose disgruntled employee has gone violently off the deep end, Chance is your new auditor. If you’re the president of a bank who’s been tipped off to a potential heist, Chance is your unassuming bank teller. During each job, Chance, assisted by his business partner WINSTON (Chi McBride, “Pushing Daisies”) and hired gun GUERRERO (Jackie Earle Haley, “Watchmen”), puts himself directly in the line of fire as he races against time to save his client, while unraveling the truth behind the mission. With every new danger, Chance’s dark history will also unravel. Does anyone know who Christopher Chance really is, or what secrets lay buried in his past? What would make a man willingly become a HUMAN TARGET?

PRODUCTION COMPANIES: Bonanza Productions Inc., Wonderland Sound and Vision, DC Comics, Warner Bros. Television

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Jon Steinberg, McG, Simon West, Brad Kern

CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Peter Johnson

DIRECTOR: Simon West

WRITER: Jon Steinberg CAST: Mark Valley as Christopher Chance, Jackie Earle Haley as Guerrero, Chi McBride as Winston

PAST LIFE

Have you ever experienced dj vu or met someone you thought seemed familiar? Do you believe in karma, fate or love at first sight? From writer David Hudgins (“Friday Night Lights”), and inspired by the book “The Reincarnationist” by M.J. Rose, comes PAST LIFE, a new drama series about an unlikely pair of past-life detectives who investigate whether what is happening to you today is the result of who you were before. DR. KATE MCGINN (Kelli Giddish, “All My Children”) is not your typical psychologist. Confident, outspoken and highly educated, she works at The Talmadge Center for Behavioral Health in New York City, a world-renowned institute dedicated to the study of the science of the soul. After experiencing a past-life regression in her 20s, Kate became a believer in reincarnation. Using regression therapy and her natural gift for reading people, Kate helps solve the mysteries of her troubled clients who suffer from present-day problems caused by past-life traumas. She believes there are levels of consciousness and explanations for human behavior that science can’t begin to explain. Accustomed to skeptics, but not bothered by them, Kate is an unapologetic believer and a force of nature who marches to the beat of her own drummer. Her partner, PRICE WHATLEY (Nicholas Bishop, “Home and Away”), is a different story. A former NYPD homicide detective, pragmatic and cynical, Price is a damaged soul who constantly battles grief and guilt over the accidental death of his wife. Price feels that Kate, though not certifiable, certainly operates on the fringes of science. It’s a volatile relationship, but with Price’s solid detective skills, and Kate’s penchant for out-of-the-box thinking, together they make a formidable, if somewhat dysfunctional, team. A fast-paced emotional thrill ride, each episode finds Price and Kate working with their colleagues to unravel a new mystery involving the past-lives of their clients. DR. MALACHI TALMADGE (Richard Schiff, “The West Wing”) is Kate’s mentor and the center’s namesake, an avuncular but gruff elder statesman who is a legend in the field of cognitive research. DR. RISHI KARNA (Ravi Patel, “Scrubs”) is the rookie of the group, a baby-faced therapist from Calcutta who loves bad American TV, Cuban jazz and driving everyone crazy.

PRODUCTION COMPANIES: Bonanza Productions Inc., Warner Bros. Television

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: David Hudgins, Lou Pitt

DIRECTOR: Deran Sarafian

WRITER: David Hudgins

CAST: Kelli Giddish as Dr. Kate McGinn, Nicholas Bishop as Price Whatley, Richard Schiff as Dr. Malachi Talmadge, Ravi Patel as Dr. Rishi Karna

The following new comedy is slated for a midseason launch:

SONS OF TUCSON

In the tradition of “Malcolm in the Middle” and “The Bernie Mac Show,” SONS OF TUCSON is a family comedy about three brothers who hire a charming, wayward schemer to stand in as their father when their real one goes to prison. What begins as a business relationship evolves into something more complex and compelling: a family unlike any we’ve ever seen. The three brothers find their dad-for-hire, RON SNUFFKIN (Tyler Labine, “Reaper”), at the local sporting good store. Ron will be forced to draw on a wide array of skills and a vast bag of tricks as he steps into the patriarch role to take care of the boys of the Gunderson family. ROBBY GUNDERSON (Davis Cleveland, “How I Met Your Mother”), 8, is a loose cannon who doesn’t respond well to authority; GARY GUNDERSON (Frank Dolce, “Doubt”), 11, is a bright and street-savvy leader who is every bit the con man his father is; and BRANDON GUNDERSON (Troy Gentile, “Entourage”), 13, is a gentle free spirit who simply goes along for the ride. MAGGIE MORALES (Natalie Martinez, “Saints & Sinners”), Robby’s second-grade teacher and the object of Ron’s affection, might just be the only stable figure in the lives of this quirky quartet. While SONS OF TUCSON is grounded in the day-to-day challenges of a single-parent home, nothing in the Gunderson household is quite what it seems. An ongoing chess match between Ron and the boys will keep both parties on their toes, as neither side can afford to give up too much power or independence.

PRODUCTION COMPANY: 20th Century Fox Television

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Justin Berfield, Jason Felts, Harvey Myman, Todd Holland

DIRECTOR: Todd Holland

WRITERS: Tommy Dewey, Greg Bratman

CAST: Tyler Labine as Ron Snuffkin, Davis Cleveland as Robby Gunderson, Frank Dolce as Gary Gunderson, Troy Gentile as Brandon Gunderson, Natalie Martinez as Maggie Morales

My thoughts:

The Good: Dollhouse gets another shot at gaining audience.  Fox looks committed to keeping genre shows alive!  Shawn Ryan (The Shield) takes over showrunner duties on Lie to Me.  That is all kinds of good for that show.

The Bad: Goodbye, Sarah Connor.  You will be missed.  Til Death got renewed?  Really?

Bottom Line: This is a solid schedule for Fox.  They already had a pretty strong slate going into this season, and it looks like that strength will continue.  Of course, it would have been nice to see Fringe and Dollhouse on the same night, but it was assumed that Dollhouse would stay a Friday night show (and Fringe is most definitely NOT a Friday night show).  We’ll have to see how this schedule stacks up against the other nets as the week goes on.  The other networks can’t be happy that So You Think You Can Dance will be on in the fall…

New Shows to Spec: FRINGE, LIE TO ME, DOLLHOUSE

Still viable Specs: N/A

Possibly too old to start a new spec: Bones, House

Posted under analysis, tv news

This post was written by Shawna on May 18, 2009

Tags: , , , , , ,

Pre-Upfront News

The news has been trickling in all day…renewals, pilot pickups, etc.

ABC has renewed CASTLE and SCRUBS — both were considered bubble shows and Fox has picked up DOLLHOUSE for a second season.

I’ll cover the upfront news starting Monday with the schedules as they are released.  Should be fun!

Posted under tv news

This post was written by Shawna on May 15, 2009

Tags: , , ,

Fallout

The bodies are starting to pile up…at CW ‘Reaper’ is a goner.  NBC looks to kill ‘Life’, and the future of ‘Chuck’ is still up in the air.  CBS will pull the plug on one of its two long-term procedurals ‘Without a Trace’ or ‘Cold Case’ (my money is on ‘Cold Case’ getting the axe, since I have a ‘Cold Case’ spec.)  ABC still hasn’t decided whether to give ‘Castle’ a reprieve yet.

And should we really talk about Fox Friday?  No, let’s not…

What shall we spec, friends?  How much more dead skin will the networks shed, in the hopes of finding shiny new skeins for next season?

I’ll be updating the Watch List.  A blood-letting is coming.

Posted under analysis

This post was written by Shawna on April 20, 2009

Tags: , , , , ,

Mentalist gets a full season, ‘outsourced’ CW Sunday bombs

So, just a few quick updates — CBS has given The Mentalist a full season order on the strength of its ratings for its second episode. I think the show is a good time period filler for the network, and I like Simon Baker. Not sure how the show will develop, but at least we’ll find out. Bad news for CBS: The Ex-List did not premiere well, with lower numbers than last season’s Moonlight (I can hear the Moonlight fans victory cheers now).
Read More…

Posted under analysis, watch list

This post was written by on October 6, 2008

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Random thoughts on some of the new shows

FRINGE:

I’m probably one of the few people who disliked the second episode more than the first. I thought the solution was a total cheat. [SPOILERS] First they tell us the magic doo-hickey will show them the last image she saw before she died. Then once they get the magic doo-hickey they say ‘one of the last’ — well, which is it? You are telling me the freakin bridge was more memorable than her attacker’s (or plural, if she saw both of them) face(s)? I call shenanigans. I appreciate that they didn’t want it to be so easy (“oh look, that’s the guy! let’s get him!”), so they use the bridge angles to figure out what building she was in…but all that seemed silly to me.
Read More…

Posted under analysis

This post was written by on September 18, 2008

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Comic Con Analysis for TV Watchers and Wannabes Part One

You’ve probably seen all of the news smothered over the internet like Smuckers raspberry preserves (yum), and you may have even seen some of the panels.

Now I want to pick it apart and analyze it all. What does all of this MEAN?

The week before Comic Con a little event called the TCA Fall Press Tour happened…not that’d you’d know, because it got a thimble-size of the press Comic Con received. Anymore the networks realize that connecting with fans is as important (if not moreso) than chattering at TV critics and reporters who cover this stuff for a living. Granted, most critics are also TV fans, and it becomes evident as they pick good quality shows to support which just don’t get the ratings they need to survive. It happens every year.

Still, getting fans engaged, the kind who go to big events like Comic Con can be “make or break” for a film, and now for TV shows too. Lost set the precedent (though I’m sure other shows have visited before that show launched) for launching at Comic Con and getting fan support early. If the fans like you, buzz builds online and people get excited for the show.

The lesson learned in 2007 was it is not enough to hype the pilot. Too many shows (See: Invasion, Surface, Bionic Woman and Journeyman) placed too much emphasis on the pilot and not on the whole show. The good news, is that for the shows that approach the marketing of their shows with creativity and flair (and let’s be fair, we’re talking mostly ‘genre’ shows here), it can pay great dividends. Two years ago Heroes was the belle of the ball. Last year the big buzz was around Pushing Daisies and Sarah Connor Chronicles. All of those shows saw good sampling based in part on their launches at Comic Con.

So what about this year? Who has benefited the most from their appearances at Comic Con. Let’s give each network a grade.

ABC presented panels for Lost and Pushing Daisies, both returning shows. ABC hasn’t picked up their midseason shows yet, and their new fall shows don’t really qualify as ‘genre’. Both panels were packed and response was very positive. The “Lost” panel gave away some fun prizes to people who asked questions and showed a short teaser video tieing into the new ARG running this year. They put the panel in the largest room (Hall H) which shows just how much demand there is for the show at Comic Con. “Daisies” also got good buzz going again with some clips for next season (the benefit for returning shows this year is that most have already started shooting at least a couple of episodes, so there was stuff to show). ABC did a good job with their show promotion, though I think “Daisies” could have used a stronger push. Overall, a good job. Grade: A-

CBS had no presence at Comic Con this year. Their only new genre show is Harper’s Island which was nowhere to be seen. Viacom makes up for this shortcoming with its Showtime offerings, which we’ll get to later. Grade: D

Fox pulled out all the stops for its shows. Not only did the new J.J. Abrahms show Fringe get lots of viral marketing, a panel and a screening of the pilot, but Fox was there to strongly promote Season 2 of Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles and other returning shows. Offerings ranged from the obvious (The Simpsons, Family Guy, 24) to the surprising (Bones, Prison Break, American Dad. And then there was Joss. Of course, nothing could hold back the hordes of Whedonites who needed their fix of Dollhouse. The panels were all well attended (although Fringe was less full than I expected), the marketing was really great for the fall premieres, and definitely buzz was built for the new shows. I think Fox knows how to promote their genre offerings. Grade: A

NBC After mixed results from their Comic Con promotion last year, I was glad to see that NBC bounced back and charged ahead aggressively. They too presented some unusual offerings — The Office writers panel? (A dream for us!) But they were in full force for freebies and viral campaigns for Knight Rider, Chuck, The Office, and Heroes. They also did well to give lots of early info on midseason show Kings which got some good buzz and attention at the Con. Disappointments: No Merlin or Crusoe news. Their booth in the exhibit hall was similar to last year, but the giveaways were good, and the Comic Con exclusive merchandise was very popular. Grade: A-

The CW Okay, so I know Supernatural and Smallville were both there, but where the heck was Reaper?? Grade: C- (Kudos to WB for promoting their studio backed shows — they had the Nerd Herd car giveaway/drawing)

Hard to believe that was just the network presence! Next post: The cable nets, and how does this impact writing specs?

UPDATE: A myriad of panels!

NBC’s Show Panels

Posted under analysis, tv news

This post was written by Shawna on August 6, 2008

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,