Category Archives: US TV Shows

TV Stars on Talk Shows – July

Here is a guide to the TV stars appearing on talk shows in the US, as well as their Australian airdates.

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno – NBC

Tuesday 5/7

Lisa Kudrow promoting her new HBO show Web Therapy

Billy Gardell from Mike and Molly

Thursday 7/7

The winner of The Voice, Javier Colon

The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson – CBS (AU Eleven, around 10:30PM weeknights)

Tuesday 5/7 (AU Wednesday 6/7)

Ellie Kemper, who plays Erin in The Office

Monday 11/7 (AU Tuesday 12/7)

Elijah Wood from the new comedy Wilfred

Cat Deeley from So You Think You Can Dance

Wednesday 13/7 (AU Thursday 14/7)

Angela Kinsey, also from The Office

Thursday 14/7 (AU Friday 15/7)

Zooey Deschanel, talking about her new series New Girl

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart – Comedy Channel (AU Comedy Channel)

Monday 11/7 (AU Tuesday 12/7)

Denis Leary, promoting the final series of Rescue Me

Conan – TBS (AU GEM weeknights, late)

Monday 18/7 (AU 19/7)

Bryan Cranston from Breaking Bad

Thursday 21/7 (Friday 22/7)

Lisa Kudrow, again for her series Web Therapy

The View – ABC (AU Channel Nine, 1:00PM Weekdays)

Monday 4/7 (AU Monday 5/7)

Vanessa Williams fresh from her first season on Desperate Housewives

Friday 8/7 (AU Monday 11/7)

Bryan Cranston from Breaking Bad

Monday 11/7 (AU Tuesday 12/7)

Angie Harmon from Rizzoli and Isles

Tuesday 12/7 (AU Wednesday 13/7)

Denis Leary from Rescue Me

Read the rest of this entry

AU News: Misfits S2, Friday Night Lights S1, Miranda Coming to ABC2

A day after the Green Guide sung the praises of the “multichannels”, the ABC2 have made a slew of announcements letting people know why these channels have enjoyed a surge in popularity.

Over the next few months, people will be able to see some acclaimed dramas and comedies on ABC2. Some of them have aired before on different networks, but some are airing right from the beginning, allowing people to discover some real gems.

On Friday July 18 at 8:00pm, the second series of BBC comedy Miranda will premiere. Though it has received a somewhat mixed response, it is worth a look. The second series consists of six episodes.

From Friday July 29 at 8:30pm you will be able to catch Friday Night Lights right from the beginning. It has previously aired on Channel Ten in very late timeslots, so it is good to see it get a primetime run. It has recently wrapped up in the US after five seasons, with its fifth season airing on NBC.

Also on from Friday July 29 but at 9:30pm, the acclaimed British series Misfits will air from Season 2, forming a nice double-act.

And these are, of course, in addition to the great titles currently airing on ABC2 including Arrested Development and The Tudors.

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.

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: 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?

Analysis: Before the Game to be handballed?

Today network Ten stated that they would not buy any games off Channel Seven for the 2012 season. This leaves a number of shows and network personalities up in the air.

Many are writing off personalities such as Stephen Quartermaine, Robert Walls, Tim Lane, Anthony Hudson, Michael Christian and Malcolm Blight as being out of a job, however this is not entirely true.

Stephen Quartermaine will surely remain with the network
co-presenting the 5:00 news in Melbourne.

The rest of their futures at Ten look shaky, though.

But the big question mark lingers over Ten’s Before the Game. At this stage, it could go one of three ways;

One: it stays at Ten in its current timeslot- it will still be able to be called Before the Game, as it will air before the 7:30 match on Seven.

Any doubts of having an AFL show on a non-AFL network will surely be dispelled by the fact that Channel Nine has been able to maintain the success of the Footy Show despite not having AFL rights for many years.

It rates well for Ten, constantly challenging Australia’s Funniest Home Videos and often winning its time-slot, so they will want to keep it.

Two: it jumps over to Channel Seven. Seven are reportedly in talks with Roving Enterprises, and it would fit very nicely on their Saturday night schedule.

They would also be able to secure most of the personalities on the panel; Mick Molloy isn’t tied to Ten, nor is Anthony “Lehmo” Lehmann, Samantha Lane or Andrew Maher.

The problem lies in the fact that Dave Hughes is tied to the 7pm project, a now fixture of the Ten schedule, and he is one of the show’s main draws.

However, Seven could easily fill the void with Peter Helliar, the bloke they sacked last year as part of The Bounce- and someone who probably would like a high-paying regular commercial TV job again.

It would also give Seven that primetime AFL show that they have desperately wanted for so many years to complement their primetime AFL games.

And of course the third option is that Channel Ten lets the show go with the football rights, which is entirely possible. It has always advertised BTG in conjunction with the match following it, and it might see BTG as being an irregularity in its schedule.

After all, its focus now seems to be on news and semi-edgy current affairs, Masterchef, its stable of US dramas and serious Aussie dramas.

After all, it did ditch the concept of its digital channel One as a sports channel after abysmal ratings.

And speaking of One, it also brings up the point of its three other AFL shows; One Week at a Time, The Game Plan and The Final Siren.

Of the three, OWAAT has been running the longest- it is now in its third year and features Luke Darcy, Robert Walls and Stephen Quartermaine.

The other two shows have premiered this year, and while at the start of the year, it seemed as if Ten was beefing up its AFL content output, as well as adding more home-grown programs to One’s then sport dominated line-up, now pose an immense problem for Ten on both fronts.

Ten could- and probably will- cut all three very easily, and not many people would bat an eyelid, however they do offer alternative viewpoints and are mildly entertaining- there’s just nothing that puts OWAAT near Nine’s Footy Classified (both player, team and issue analysis shows), or The Final Siren near The Sunday Footy Show (both recap shows). The Game Plan is also only for extremely devoted footy fans.

But if its any consolation, OWAAT was the most entertaining of the three.

Of course, needless to say, the Fifth Quarter is done for (the show that aired after Saturday night AFL matches)… So say goodbye to the “Saturday Specials”.

So, I’m hopeful that Ten will hang on to Before the Game, but wouldn’t give much hope to the rest of them, as Ten would likely see this as an opportunity to make a clean break from the sports format of One (and possibly relaunch the Channel with a better, more distinctive logo).

And as for their hosts, I wouldn’t feel too bad for them, they all have second jobs either on the radio or in newspapers to fall back on (with people like Luke Darcy having not only a breakfast show but a weekend calling gig). If only we all had that luxury!

But I hope that this abrupt ending to Ten’s long commitment to AFL doesn’t undermine the great work it did over the years.

At least they broadcast some of their games live, unlike Seven, who try to delay airing their matches every chance they get. They also took their football seriously, and played up rivalries and big matches to great effect.

But most importantly, though it may be a contradiction, they never took the football too seriously, with the calling team establishing a good rapport over the years.

It will definitely be interesting to see how this one unfolds… Stay tuned… Play on…

News: Breaking Bad S4 “gets darker and deeper”, No Minisodes: Cranston

Bryan Cranston gave an exclusive interview with Collider which should be a must-read for any Breaking Bad fan. I maintain that there is no-one better at summing up the mood and plot direction of a show that the actual actors themselves. Here is what he has to say about the overall arc of the show;

The first season was all about the decision.  Here is where you were introduced to this man, this man’s life, this man’s plight, his limited decision, and he makes this decision.  The second season was “Oh, so this plan isn’t so simple?  There is a ripple affect and the ramifications from this decision. Aha!”  The third season was that there was no more fooling yourself.  That you have to embrace the fact that you have some criminal intentions and you better wise up and get a little street cred going or you are going to lose your life.  For a bright man he was naïve in many different ways.  So he had to embrace how to be a criminal, you know?  “Being a Criminal for Dummies” – he read that book.  Season 4 now opens it up.  It had to be and it is justifiable.  It starts out in season 1 with this single man with this dilemma.  Here is the condition and then it’s like a spring. All of a sudden now it’s a twig, now you have a bush, and now it is a tree.  The breadth of the story had to expand to introduce toes that he is stepping on like the cartel and all of these new characters.  The involvement gets more complicated.  It has to grow.  So now there are new shoots from this one tree that are all around.  As promised, this man’s life is getting more and more complicated and not simplified.  So his simple plan is anything but.  It just gets darker and deeper.  You used to say that he was on his way to this new persona, but he is here.  It’s just the fact that he needs to truly embrace who he is and what he is capable of in order to survive.

He also addresses the buzz surrounding “minisodes” that would be released to bridge the large gap between seasons three and four. Thankfully, Cranston admits that they were just rumours and nothing eventuated. There’s nothing I personally hate more than minisodes, webisodes, and even deleted scenes being released – I get that they are often used to bulk up the DVD extras in an age when less and less people are buying DVDs, or are used to maintain interest in a show, or even attract more people, but for TV purists, they add too much grey area in terms of plot, etc. (if a character says something in a deleted scene, did that actually “happen” in the fabricated world of a particular show?) And minisodes are often unsubstantial, and it would pain me to see anything Breaking Bad that was of little substance.

Anyway, check out the interview here, or you can even listen to it here, if you want to hear Cranston’s voice again.

Renewal and Cancellation Wrap: Jackie in, Tara out!

Today there’s two big stories when it comes to cult hit Showtime shows. It seems that overnight, they have flipped a coin; on one side Nurse Jackie, on the other, The United States of Tara. Both are in their Third season, both have strong female leads, and both have been well reviewed across their short lives as shows… But only one has been reviewed.

That show is Nurse Jackie, which will receive a fourth season.

This means that The United States of Tara has got the chop. You have to feel for Toni Collette, who has won praise (and awards) for her portrayal of Tara and her multiple personalities, however, hopefully it will open more doors for her in terms of movies.

I have watched both shows since season 1, yet gave up on Tara a couple of episodes into the second season- maybe it was just me, but I felt like the first season had already explored all the facets of the novelty of having multiple personalities, so I’d be happy to hear if you thought differently.

The overall arc of Nurse Jackie interested me more, though it has received slightly worse reviews than Tara for refusing to follow on from the shocking season 2 finale (Ie. Jackie covered over her drug-taking tracks and everything went back to normal).