Monthly Archives: June 2011

News: An Idiot Abroad Season 2 to Premiere in September

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Everyone’s favourite “idiot” Karl Pilkington will be back on UK screens this September.

The Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant-produced SKY1 show has been a phenomenal success since it premiered last year.

It has been sold to many countries including the US and Australia where it airs on Ten’s multi-channel One.

It has become a cult hit around the world.

Karl Pilkington of course rose to prominence under the tutelage, or prodding, of Gervais and Merchant on their Xfm Radio Show. The trio then went on to record five series of their record-breaking (or should that be record “making”) podcast. They have also recorded two series of audio-books, or “Guide tos”, as well as charity specials.

In the first series of An Idiot Abroad, Karl visited the seven wonders of the world. In the second series, Karl will carry out various activities found on many people’s “Bucket list”, hence why it will be called “An Idiot Abroad: The Bucket List”.

There will be 8 episodes in this series – three trips have already been completed with four more to come. The last part will likely be another homecoming special.

Karl has been notorious for hating most of his trips, and this series has been no different, with Gervais making mention of Karl’s displeasure with various activities set up for him.

It took a great deal of persuading to get Karl to agree to a second series, so let’s hope this isn’t the last series, just the first of many more to come!

NOTE: If Ten have any sense, they will fast-track this to One ASAP!

See the TRAILER after the jump…

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Upcoming AFL Guests: Round 15

Source: AFL.com.au

Here is a guide to the upcoming AFL guests on Free to Air TV this week (Round 15 of the 2011 AFL Premiership Season).

Thursday June 30

The Game Plan (One, 8:30pm) will feature Luke Ball, who will hopefully give a further insight into the AFLPA’s pay negotiations. It will also feature Chris Judd.

The Footy Show (Nine, 9:30pm) will feature power forwards Travis Cloke and Jack Riewoldt on the panel.

Saturday July 2

Before the Game (Ten, 6:30pm) will feature Western Bulldog’s midfielder and Brownlow medallist Adam Cooney, as well as fellow Bronlow medallist Chris Judd.

Fraser Gehrig will also appear on Fitzy’s “Draft Camp” segment.

Sunday July 3

AFL Game Day (Seven, 10am) will feature Cameron Ling, Jack Trengove and Steve Johnson.

Monday July 4

One Week at a Time (One, 9:30pm) will have Mark McVeigh sitting on the panel – watch for his comments on the Bombers’ form slump, and whether he still deserves his place in the team.

Analysis: Some Breaking Bad S4 Questions

Breaking Bad is in that rare position that most shows never find themselves in.

It has built itself up for three multi-layered, multi-faceted seasons. All episodes are plot-heavy, character-driven masterpieces in their own way.

And arguably, each season gets better than the last…

… But if you disagree with that- which is fine- it’s hard to disagree with the fact that each season gets bigger and more explosive than the last.

And after watching this video featuring cast interviews promising a “bigger” and “darker” season, it is clear that this season promises to up the ante again.

However, it got me thinking- and this is more a philosophical question that a questioning of the show itself – will you be disappointed if the fourth season is not as good, if not better than the last, and the one before it?

That seems to be the unenviable situation the show is in; it has established a brilliant product, and if the show is only half as good as it was previously, there may be disappointment.

For evidence, I point you to the first three or four episodes of season three. For Breaking Bad standards, there was very little in the way of high-stakes tension. The lack of action and overt danger could well be symbolised by the presence of the non-talking cousins.

While it was clear that there something bubbling under the surface, many remarked about the increasingly domestic nature of the show, what with Walter being cooped up either in his apartment or his house.

The season more than compensated for the lack of action in the second half of the season, it made most people realise that it was all masterfully orchestrated, with every episode being vital to Walter and Jesse’s journey.

And here’s another one: The end-date has been flagged, in a way, by series creator Vince Gilligan as Season 5. This only leaves one more season after this one airs.

So here’s the question; Would you be disappointed if the series ends after only five seasons- yes, it’s great to end on a high, but is it too good a show to stop?

Yes, you might risk a “good” season six, but a “good” season of Breaking Bad would be still better than most other things on TV.

So, in other Breaking Bad words, would you prefer a diluted product than no product at all? Or do you prefer a pure, full-bodied hit of Breaking Bad.

 

News: Hung Season 3 To Premiere in October

HBO has finally released a trailer for Season 3 of Hung, starring Thomas Jane. Check it out above. It is typically raunchy and suggestive, but features no new footage. And “ready for more”? Could HBO be any more vague? Anyway, it’s something, and at least there’s some information about when it will premiere; sometime in October, according to HBO in this recent tweet.

Hopefully, Australian viewers will be able to see this series fast-tracked on to Seven’s digital channel 7mate- I feel saying it would be a perfect fit would be too lowbrow.

Review: Wilfred (US): Episode One

Wilfred recently premiered in Australia on Ten’s digital channel Eleven. It premiered in America last week on FX.

First of all, putting aside for a minute whether it was funny or not, or whether it “worked”, the fact that the US has gone and plucked a concept for a comedy from the lowest rating network in Australia, that most Australians have never heard of, let alone watched is symbolic of one of two things;

One: US comedy is reaching a crescendo, in an age of left-of-centre comedies such as Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock and Community not only breaking the mould but experimenting with new styles of comedy.

Or Two: US comedy has reached its nadir: shows like Outsourced are being commissioned (to no success whatsoever) while until Charlie Sheen’s demise, Two and a Half Men was the most popular comedy on TV. With such a dearth of new ideas, creativity and wit, it has turned to comedies in Australia.

But enough theorizing: it’s just fantastic to see a show which is just so bizarre and refreshingly different, in terms of its central conceit, at least.

In many ways, however, it plays out like a typical pilot; it is intent on getting every single story strand and obvious joke out on the table.  So, it runs through all the different doggy activities if you will, in order to wring every possibly comedic moment out of the show’s concept possible.

We saw leg-humping (including a stuffed toy getting rogered), face licking/kissing, belly scratching, urination, excretion, hole digging, protectiveness, ball-throwing, walking- you name it, it was all shoved into the very first episode in case at any point we missed the fact that Wilfred was a dog.

We also get to meet the supporting cast: there’s the controlling sister Kristen (Dorian Brown), who likely won’t be the source of many comedic moments, the requisite “hot” neighbour Jenna (Fiona Gubelmann), who likely won’t have her character developed much more than that, and the angry neighbour, played by Ethan Suplee (and for anyone who has ever watched a decent amount of My Name is Earl, he will always be Randy).

It all comes across as a bit high-concept, which is fine, however in terms of longevity it will struggle after it hits the third or fourth season mark (assuming it gets that far of course!).

But, after all that, does it work as a comedy?

Well, it won’t have you laughing out loud, that’s for sure. But it will take you by surprise, and it is amusing, in a very bizzare way. Maybe I was just smirking at the combination of Frodo trying to grow a half-beard and Jason Gann, presumably the least likely of Australia’s sizeable acting troupe to make it in America- let’s face it, his presence on Mark Loves Sharon and The Wedge didn’t exactly scream “destined for stardom”.

But back to this show. While Jason Gann’s dry, monotonous delivery seemed in keeping with the slow-burning tone of the Australian series, it serves a decidedly different purpose in this one.

He serves as a chilled, yet conniving sage, the antithesis to the hopped-up and paranoid, yet straight-laced lawyer.

Of course, I could get into all the psychological debate about Wilfred and whether he is a manifestation of Wood’s deranged mind or anything else… But I won’t. If you start analyzing it, you will find that nothing makes sense in the show. And when has that ever stopped… oh, I don’t know, every other show on TV? This show just presents a slightly more warped version of reality.

This seems to be one of those shows where you aren’t looking for a laugh a minute (like many were in Chris Lilley’s Angry Boys), and it doesn’t suffer for that fact – because it looks great, and is totally different to most other comedies you’ll see on the box.

The jokes in this episode aren’t structure in a sitcommy way, yet are set up as various stand-alone pieces- Wilfred rubs his face in a woman’s breasts, for example. It isn’t necessarily funny on paper, but it works in the way that you would never expect to see that imagery on TV, let alone in society. It also provides an hilarious commentary on the social norms allocated to animals, and those to humans. Ridiculous? Yes. Implausible? Yes. But funny.

While it’s not riotously funny, it’s not boring nor is it stupid (well, only briefly is it stupid- they do poo in a boot). It is sure to be an interesting ride, if nothing else.

Wilfred airs Tuesdays at 9:30pm on Eleven.

Opinion: Can of Worms: Will Denton open a Can of Beast, Tench or Gruen??

Another month, another “Zapruder’s Other Films” program premieres.

In recent times, Andrew Denton and Anita Jacoby’s production company has churned out shows including Hungry Beast, AFP, The Gruen Transfer and Gruen Nation, all to varying degrees of success.

On the whole, there is a consensus that shows that they formulate are new and inventive, if nothing else. Before their respective premieres, they are also shrouded in secrecy, with man of the key talent kept under wraps, as well as the format, premise and general feel of the show.

This is one of the reasons why it is difficult to predict the success of the show. Their policy of secrecy is a double-edged sword, as obviously not knowing anything about the show builds up a sort of mystique, and of course builds the curiosity factor. It also encourages people to watch the show for the central premise, rather than fob it off after seeing a personality one dislikes on the promo (Dicko is nowhere to be seen on the talking-head promos, despite the fact that he is the host).

On the other hand, the vague “Australia, we need to talk” tagline is not quite explicit enough for some people to feel an urge to tune in.

The “talking heads” that appear to discuss various issues which touch on “porn”, religion and the internet. So its clear that we’re in line for some modern, frank discussion. Presumably there is a newfound market for this kind of discussion, what with these type of discussions being brought up frequently on Q and A.

Obviously the show wants “Australia” to start talking. It wants families to start these type of discussions in their own house. This will create further word-of-mouth between friends, etc. etc.

Whether the show is aiming to set the agenda on new issues or rather react to issues in the news is unknown.

So, what do we know we can expect?

Read on to find out…

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Opinion: Can Nine Reclaim Some Glory?

Channel Nine is currently undergoing a resurgence of sorts, after a very lacklustre start to the year.

After heavily promoting the fourth series of The Block in its new 7PM timeslot, it has proven a decent new alternative in its first week on air.

Of course, its strong first week figures will be slightly inflated due to the massive publicity push, but it has arguably begun to turn around Nine’s fortunes.

And let’s face it, any old show that can pull half-decent figures for Nine (we’re talking over a million) will be more than welcome on its schedule, as its first half of the year has certainly been one to forget for the network.

After starting the year touting itself as the “Home of Comedy” it put forth its first offering in the form of Ben Elton Live From Planet Earth. And we all know how that one ended:

Low ratings combined with the worst critical reception to a show in recent memory made for a genuine, out-and-out stinker of a show.

Faced with failure, Nine felt it had no choice but to flog the hell out of its imports in Two and a Half Men and Top Gear, two programs that had done very well for the network in 2010.

However, repeating these “hit shows” ad nauseam led to viewer fatigue, and pretty soon they began turning off in droves.

Today, Top Gear is nowhere to be seen on Nine’s main channel, with Two and a Half Men pushed late into the night. You can find it now at 10:30PM on a Tuesday night.

Continue reading after the jump…

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News: James Spader closing in on The Office boss job

The long and arduous process of deciding who should replace Steve Carell in the hit NBC comedy The Office, and it’s firming as James Spader, who appeared as Robert California in the season finale.

However, it seems that he won’t be in the chair for long, as it is believed that he will talk his way to the top and become CEO of Dunder Mifflin-Sabre. This means the actor himself will likely not become a permanent addition to the cast.

So, what to make of this?

Well, many people will at first be disappointed that Catherine Tate will not become the new boss. Unknown to most US viewers, she is a proven comedic performer who became popular in both the UK and Australia for her Little Britain-esque show The Catherine Tate Show.

To many, she was the best- meaning funniest- part of a very dull finale, and many though she would add a different flavour to the show which would give the show- which is slowing in its old age- a new lease on life.

The addition of James Spader was one obviously made because of the fact he is a big name in the TV world thanks to his role in Boston Legal, hence he is also a recognisable face for new viewers to latch on to.

But the decision to only keep him on for a short time is an interesting one.

It has obviously been made due to a combination of factors; Spader may not want to commit to the show long-term. It is also a win-win for the show; as mentioned before, the familiar face, along with Spader’s good track-record will make it more difficult for the nay-sayers to criticize the addition of a new cast member. On the other hand, the flagged early exit will alleviate any of the doubts that Spader may bring. And if he does prove to be a phenomenal success, I’m sure NBC would have a clause in his contract allowing him to be kept on with a pay rise.

And the other reason for the rumoured short term? Possibly because the whole new boss experiment was largely a failure. The finale- despite its big names- was a fizzer. Even the David Brent/Ricky Gervais cameo failed to match the surprisingly brilliant Carell-Brent chance meeting earlier in the season.

Most of the guest stars supposedly in contention for the role were really never “in contention”; Jim Carrey? Ricky Gervais? Ray Romano? Puh-lease…

And now that Catherine Tate seems to have been ruled out – presumably the writers/producers couldn’t get her over the line with the network powers that be.

At least this way, Spader will be able to exit and wrap up that particular story arc without it looking like a cop-out. It will also leave a spot open for one of the established cast to move into.

For what it’s worth, it’s got to be between Ed Helms (Andy) and Craig Robinson (Darryl). Both have enjoyed considerable increases in fame since becoming major characters in the cast (Daryl has moved up from the warehouse while Ed Helms is now included in the main credit sequence).

They will both be looking for pay-rises for this reason, and making one of them the main man would allow for this.

I know it’s crazy, and I doubt they would go down the co-managers route again, but would the show even go with the both of them as bosses? It would certainly test their growing friendship (or “bromance”, if you prefer), and compare their contrasting characteristics well.

But again, they’ve already been down this path in the very mediocre season 6.

Which ever way it goes, it will certainly make for an intriguing season 8. And it will be interesting to see whether the show will benefit greatly from this shake-up or alienate its loyal fans.

News: Sting, Steve Carrell to appear on Life’s Too Short

Source: rickygervais.com

Today Ricky Gervais announced on his blog that his upcoming show for BBC2 and HBO “Life’s Too Short” will feature Sting and Steve Carrell.

Carrell, fresh from wrapping up his tenure on the US version of The Office after seven seasons with the show, is likely paying back a favour to Gervais and Merchant, who were responsible for providing the show which launched his career.

They are obviously good friends, with numerous skits being played out over the years, including this one

… And more recently, Gervais appeared on The Office. Once in person:

… and once via a pre-filmed clip.

However, this marks the first time that Carrell has appeared in a show that Gervais and Merchant have written exclusively.

It also adds to the sizeable role-call of celebrities lining up to be a part of Gervais’ new series, as it stands, the show will feature Johnny Depp, Les Dennis, “Cheggars” (Keith Chegwin) and Barry off Eastenders (Shaun Williamson). The last three appeared in Gervais and Merchant’s last series Extras.

Gervais also teases the possibility of more big-name guest-stars including “…another big face from The Office… And something for Dr Who fans.”

The series is certainly shaping up to be massive in terms of guest-stars, making it similar to Extras in that sense (Gervais has described it as a cross between Extras and The Office).

Extras was unique in its ability to take pre-conceived notions of how celebrities were meant to act and often presented inverted or exaggerated versions of them, to great effect.

However, Gervais maintains that the theme of that show was finding your true self and doing something in life which you felt proud of or gave you fulfilment, which certainly shone through.

Time will tell whether the pair will be able to create another similarly layered masterpiece.

The show will premiere later in 2011 on BBC2 and was recently picked up by HBO in the States.

News: Breaking Bad S04E01 Title, Synopsis revealed!

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With less than a month to go until the Season 4 premiere of Breaking Bad, the details for the first episode have been revealed.

The first episode will be called “Box Cutter”, not “El Topo”, as it was previously rumoured to be (it could possibly be the name of a later episode).

The official synopsis is: “Walt and Jesse face the deadly consequences of their actions. Skyler deals with a puzzling disappearance, as Marie struggles to help Hank with his recovery.”

Of course, the next two episodes are titled “Thirty-Eight Snub” and “Open House”.

AMC poses these questions teasingly regarding the above picture: “Why is Gus in the superlab, wearing a Tyvek suit no less? Why has Mike donned a chemical respirator? Why do Walt and Jesse look so uneasy?”

Here are some more pictures to tide you over until the premiere:

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So obviously this episode will deal with the aftermath of last season’s explosive finale.

Who knows how Gus will react to Jesse’s actions… Any guesses?