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donderdag 12 juli 2012

Charlie Sheen, 'American Idol' Judge? Yup, He's Up for It

Move over, J.Lo -- Charlie Sheen could be coming for your job.

Responding to a report on TMZ Tuesday that "American Idol" executive producer Nigel Lythgoe has expressed interest in bringing the "Anger Mangement" star aboard as a judge on the Fox reality competition, Sheen has told the site that he's totally into it.

If a couple of conditions are met.

First, Sheen noted, his "Anger Management" network FX would have to give its blessings to the deal.

Second, he said, the money has to be right -- and there has to be a charitable aspect to it.

"If the numbers move the needle and 'Idol' matches 20 percent of my weekly salary for Autism Speaks, [the diabetes charity] JDRF, and the Boys and Girls Club ... then the hell with it. As we say, pour the smoke."

Lythgoe has also noted that he'd love to have 86-year-old comedy legend Jerry Lewis as a judge on the show, though it wasn't clear how serious he is about pursuing either Sheen or Lewis about the prospect.

Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, the newest additions to the judges' panel, recently wrapped up their second seasons with the show. Neither they -- nor third judge Randy Jackson -- have yet re-upped for a third season.

In the past, Lopez has shown wobbly commitment to the job, noting that she had been "really on the fence" about returning for the second season.

Big Brother Conor McIntyre to Deana Uppal: 'You're two faced'

Conor McIntyre has lashed out at Deana Uppal, interjecting during a row in the Big Brother house between Deana and Shievonne Robinson.

Conor and Shievonne are the two housemates facing the public vote this week and the pair reacted angrily yesterday when they discovered the news.

The Northern Irish fitness trainer told Deana: "All people can see the way you are f**king going on. It's not just me... I personally don't like you 'cos I can't trust you and you're two faced and too sneaky."

When Deana claimed that Conor had never spoken to her, he replied: "Because I can see what you're doing! F**k me!"

Deana responded: "Why haven't I've gone then? From day one [Conor's] been trying to get me out."

Conor picked up three nominations this week from Becky Hannon, Scott Mason and Deana. Adam Kelly, Deana and Becky voted for Shievonne.

Food Network to serve up full-day schedule on Freeview

Food Network, the cookery channel owned by Scripps Networks interactive, is to celebrate completing its first year on Freeview by expanding its broadcast hours.

From July 20, Freeview homes will be able to watch the Food Network all day, rather than the previous four-hour programming block in the evenings. The channel is available at 49 on the Freeview electronic programme guide.

The Food Network UK launched on digital terrestrial television in July last year, joining its existing carriage arrangements on Sky and Freesat.

Owned by Scripps Networks, which also holds a 50% shareholding in pay-TV operator UKTV with BBC Worldwide, the channel offers a range of food entertainment shows, such as US programmes Drive-Ins and Dives, Man vs Food Nation, and Barefoot Contessa.

The UK network has also commissioned a range of more locally orientated content, such as Andy Bates Street Feasts and Reza, Spice Prince of India.

According to Scripps, the channel was sampled by more than 11m UK viewers on Freeview over the course of last year, with 3.3m tuning in each month.

"By expanding Food Network's on-air presence, we are not only providing viewers with round-the-clock food and lifestyle programmes, but we also enrich and strengthen the overall value of our subscription-free offer," said Guy North, the marketing communications director at Freeview.

Food Network Europe managing director Nick Thorogood added: "Today's news is a testament to the quality of our programming and Food Network UK's popularity and reputation amongst viewers.

"By extending our hours on this platform, all Freeview households will now be able to enjoy our great food entertainment all day, every day."

Big Brother creates Rules For Fools task

Luke Anderson, Adam Kelly and Luke Scrase have become wardens as part of Big Brother's latest shopping task.

The Rules For Fools task will feature the housemates obeying Big Brother's rules and facing penalties if the wardens fail to spot any rule breaks.

Big Brother made changes to the house overnight, which has included building barriers around danger zones and providing high-vis jackets for the housemates.

If the housemates fail to obey rules and warning signs or don't strap a seatbelt on when they sit on the sofas, the wardens must hand out tickets.

When a housemate gets two or more tickets they will be sent to the punishment zone. If a warden doesn't spot rule breaks, the group will pick up fails and potentially lose the shopping task.

Big Brother continues daily on Channel 5.

Starz Developing New Series From 'Spartacus,' 'Thor' Writers

Starz is developing "Vlad Dracula," a new take on the classic vampire tale with J. Michael Straczynski, the network said Wednesday.

The network is also developing  "Incursion," a new series from "Spartacus" creator Steven S. DeKnight.

Writer/producer Straczynski, whose credits include "Thor," "Underworld: Awakening" and "Babylon 5," is teaming with producer Roy Lee, a heavy hitter in the horror genre whose credits include "The Ring," "The Woman in Black" and "The Strangers" for "Vlad Dracula," which Starz says will offer "a unique spin" on the Dracula tale that blends "the historical facts of the 15th century Prince of Wallachia." The series will trace the prince's "evolution from a revered ruler to the world's most feared vampire, and his slow downfall as he struggles desperately to hang on to his humanity, his wife and his kingdom."

Producer Rob Tapert, who has worked on Starz's "Spartacus," as well as "Xena: Warrior Princess," "Evil Dead" and "The Grudge," is also on board for the project.

DeKnight's "Incursion," meanwhile, is being described as "an epic science fiction action-thriller that follows a squad of soldiers caught in a war against a hostile alien race. Each season the battle will be fought on a new, exotic planet as humanity punches deeper into enemy territory." The series is being developed as part of DeKnight's overall deal with Starz.

"Spartacus," created by DeKnight, will end its run after its third season, which is titled "Spartacus: War of the Damned" and will air in January. DeKnight said in June that choosing to end the show was "an extremely difficult and emotional decision for my partners and I."

The series had been troubled by the health woes of its original star, Andy Whitfield, who suffered from non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Whitfied was forced to drop out of the series after the first season. Whitfield, who died in Sept. 2011, was replaced by Liam McIntyre. 

Carmi Zlotnik, Starz's managing director, called DeKnight, Straczynski, Lee and Tapert "legendary talents, having created some of the most groundbreaking and iconic television series with incredibly passionate fan bases the world over.  We are thrilled to work with such sophisticated auteurs and producers as we grow the slate of unique Starz original series.”

'Falling Skies' Gets Third Season From TNT

"Falling Skies"  will land on TNT's schedule for a third season.

The Steven Spielberg-produced sci-fi series has been renewed, the network said on Wednesday. The renewal is hardly surprising; the first season was basic cable's top new series of 2011, while the currently airing second season is averaging 5.9 million total viewers and ranks as basic cable's top summer drama among the 18-49 demographic that advertisers care about most.  The show airs Sundays at 9 p.m.

"Falling Skies" stars "E.R." alum Noah Wyle as Tom Mason, a former college professor who leads a resistance group against an alien invasion.

Calling the series "television storytelling at its very best," Michael Wright, president, head of programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies, noted, "With all the memorable and surprising moments taking place during the second season of 'Falling Skies,' we can't wait to see what DreamWorks Television and 'Falling Skies'' terrific production team and cast members have in store for season three."

9/11 Attacks, Hurricane Katrina Top Most-Memorable TV Moments List

Nothing like a little trauma to make something stick to the memory.

A new study by Nielsen and Sony Electronics reveals the top 20 moments that Americans most remember from television, and the list is topped by a one-two serving of tragedy: The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged New Orleans in 2005.

The grim memories don't end there; the list is packed with them from the Challenger space shuttle disaster to the death of Whitney Houston earlier this year to the Oklahoma City federal building bombing of 1995.

Way to accentuate the negative, people.

The survey was conducted by questioning participants online in February. Respondents were given a list of major moments in history and told to rank them.

Not all of the moments that had an impact are of the tragic variety -- last year's wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton last year also found a place on the list, at No. 14, as did President Barack Obama's 2008 acceptance speech for the presidential nomination.

Read the full list below. Which events do you think should have made it but didn't? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

1. Sept. 11 attacks (2001)

2. Hurricane Katrina (2005)

3. O.J. Simpson murder verdict (1995)

4. Space shuttle Challenger disaster (1986)

5. Death of Osama bin Laden (2011)

6. O.J. Simpson high-speed car chase (1994)

7. Earthquake / tsunami in Japan (2011)

8. Columbine school shooting (1999)

9. BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (2010)

10. Funeral of Princess Diana (1997)

11. Death of Whitney Houston (2012)

12. Capture and execution of Saddam Hussein (2006)

13. Barack Obama acceptance speech (2008)

14. Prince William, Kate Middleton wedding (2011)

15. Assassination of President Kennedy (1963)

16. Oklahoma City federal building bombing (1995)

17. Bush/Gore election results (2000)

18. Los Angeles riots/Rodney King beating (1992)

19. Casey Anthony murder trial verdict (2011)

20. Funeral of President Kennedy (1963)

Five great dream TV episodes

Dream episodes can be many things: weird, wonderful, scary, silly, funny. They can embrace a completely different mood or even a different medium from the series’ norm and they can be a breath of fresh air in a long-running show. So what makes a great dream episode? A sense of threat and some level of logic to keep us grounded in some conception of reality help, but the most important thing is great character development. If you’re going to spend an hour inside your character’s heads, you’d better be doing something interesting in there.

Our psychoanalytic analysis of five good dreams takes in four categories. Two of these should speak for themselves. ‘Let’s consider who it was that dreamed it all’ is a quote from Alice Through the Looking Glass, as Alice ponders whether she dreamed the Red King or the Red King dreamed her. The category ‘That’s a giant floating banana’ is named for an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch called The Sandman, in which Freud helps Sabrina to analyse Harvey’s dreams, but notes that sometimes a banana is just a banana (cigars being banned from children’s television). It’s for recording the totally random elements that are not symbolic of anything and are just there because dreams are crazy. Though I have to tell you, I don’t believe Freud ever said anything of the sort – his ideas about either cigars or bananas would also not be suitable for children’s television.

5. Doctor Who, Amy’s Choice

Let’s consider who it was that dreamed it all: The Doctor, Amy and Rory.

Will our heroes die in their sleep? Possibly. The jury’s still out on how much danger they were in, I think.

That is a giant floating banana: The jumper Mrs Poggit makes the Doctor wear.

Is it worth staying up for? As well as being thoroughly entertaining, there’s some majorly satisfying character development in this episode. Amy realises she really does love Rory and the Doctor is reminded of his dark side, and the fact that said dark side doesn’t like the rest of him very much. It’s not perfect; when pregnant Amy decides to risk death for Rory, it’s all very sweet, but you’d expect her to at least mention the possibility that she’s killing her nearly-due unborn baby. But it does feature all the regulars in ponchos, so what’s not to love?

4. Star Trek Voyager, Waking Moments

Let’s consider who it was that dreamed it all: The entire crew and a whole planet of bumpy-headed aliens.

Will our heroes die in their sleep? Yep, everyone except the Doctor is in mortal danger.

That is a giant floating banana: Naked Tuvok! So even Vulcans have the naked dream.

Is it worth staying up for? I repeat: naked Tuvok! On a more serious note – OK, there’s nothing overly special about this episode. We see glimpses of character traits we were already very familiar with (Janeway feels guilty about numerous dead crewmembers, Kim fancies Seven of Nine) but overall it’s mainly the basis for Chakotay’s annual Native American mystical powers episode. It’s just really nicely done and put together. There’s plenty of humour (naked Tuvok! this never gets old), decent drama, a sense of threat, the Doc being the only crewmember unaffected by a nasty organic problem as he is every other week and that lovely recurring image of Earth’s moon to tell Chakotay he’s still dreaming. It’s just a really nicely put together episode of Voyager.

3. Red Dwarf, Gunmen of the Apocalypse

Let’s consider who it was that dreamed it all: Kryten, and the other three come and join in.

Will our heroes die in their sleep? If Kryten doesn’t beat the computer virus he’s infected himself with, Starbug will crash into a lava moon, so yes.

That is a giant floating banana: Pretty much everything is a logical component of either Kryten’s subconscious or the Western computer game the others are using to access it – he’s an android, he doesn’t have random thought patterns about bananas or cheese.

Is it worth staying up for? So much so, it won an Emmy. The combination of Western themes and a high gag rate ("That groinal attachment’s supposed to have a lifetime guarantee, you’ve worn it out in nearly three weeks;" "Twice in one lifetime? When you’re hot, you’re hot!") is irresistible, the production values are great and the triumphant ending is the icing on the liquor-flavoured cake.

2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Restless

Let’s consider who it was that dreamed it all: Our core four, Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles.

Will our heroes die in their sleep? That’s supposed to be the threat but Willow, Xander and Giles are all apparently fatally injured during the course of the thing and then at the end Buffy just… decides to stop paying the First Slayer any attention. For all that the spirit of the First Slayer is apparently trying to kill them, it doesn’t really seem that they were ever in actual danger, to be honest.

That is a giant floating banana: ‘I wear the cheese. It does not wear me.’

Is it worth staying up for? Despite the slightly underwhelming ending (see above) Restless is an absolutely brilliant episode of Buffy. A surprise season finale after the Big Bad was defeated an episode early, the episode explores the four core characters and how much they’ve developed since the beginning of the show, while dropping tantalising hints about the year ahead (which are clearer in hindsight, as these things always are). It’s also completely hilarious, and one of the only dream episodes to be truly surreal and dream-like.

1. Farscape, Revenging Angel

Let’s consider who it was that dreamed it all: Crichton, who is in a coma after D’Argo accidentally knocked a pile of boxes on his head.

Will our heroes die in their sleep? Crichton will if he can’t summon the willpower to pull himself out of the coma. Everyone else will die if they don’t find D’Argo’s qualta blade, but that’s not got anything to do with the dream sequences.

That is a giant floating banana: Crichton’s dreams take the form of Looney Tunes cartoons. Which is the whole point of the episode, really.

Is it worth staying up for? The amazing thing about this episode is that the writers randomly decided they wanted to do a Looney Tunes episode and then absolutely made it work. The episode falls between the death of Black T Crichton in Icarus Abides and The Choice, which focuses on Aeryn mourning him, so this burst of light relief is both welcome and very necessary. The reason for the cartoons seems completely logical, since we’re used to seeing Crichton and Harvey have conversations in Earth-popular-culture settings. Although there’s no external enemy, Crichton’s danger is real and since the only thing that can save him is himself, the decisions he makes in the dream-world have a real weight and consequence no matter how daft they appear on the outside.

The episode is very funny, especially when it shifts to live action but keeps up the Looney Tunes aesthetic, and it’s all capped off with a wonderful exchange between Crichton and D’Argo. D’Argo asks what death was like and assumes the answer, that Crichton couldn’t possibly explain it to him, is a deep metaphysical statement. In fact, Crichton simply has no way to explain Looney Tunes to D’Argo. Perfect.

Bubbling under: Doctor Who, The Mind Robber, which doesn’t really qualify but is brilliant and certainly dream-like; Fringe, Bad Dreams, which opens with an nice inversion of the dream-threat as it appears our heroine is the one killing people through their dreams (the same series’ Lysergic Acid Diethylamide is decent enough, but the only reason for the animation is Leonard Nimoy’s reluctance to appear in person – though it did give us a nice sequence in a zeppelin without breaking the budget); Xena, Dreamworker, which has some nice character development but is a bit too early in the show’s run for us to be properly invested in it; The X-Files, One Breath, which has some lovely dream sequences as Scully lies in hospital but not really enough of them to be considered a ‘dream episode’. Inception stretches the concept across a feature film, which is pretty impressive.

TV Tonight 12th of July 2012

The daily list in alphabetical order, of all the new episodes airing.

    Anger Management S01E04: "Charlie and Kate Battle Over a Patient"
    Auction Kings S03E17: "1955 Ford Thunderbird/WWII Gunner's Sight"
    Avondetappe, De S08E13: "Season 8, Episode 13"
    Awkward S02E03: "Three's a Crowd"
    Behind Mansion Walls S02E06: "Death Before Divorce"
    Bethenny S01E24: "Maria Menounos"
    Big Brother (UK) S14E40: "BB 13, Episode 40"
    Big Brother (US) S14E01: "Season 14 Houseguests are introduced"
    Big Brother's Bit on the Side S04E38: "Series 4, Show 38"
    Blockbusters (2012) S01E24: "Series 1, Show 23"
    Blood Relatives S01E06: "The Ties That Bind"
    Border Security S12E19: "Season 12, Episode 19"
    Brand X With Russell Brand S01E03: "Episode 3"
    Builder Boss S01E07: "Porch and Garden"
    Builder Boss S01E06: "The Bunker"
    Burn Notice S06E04: "Under The Gun"
    Cajun Justice S01E10: "Gator Man's Law"
    Cajun Justice S01E09: "Lost In The Swamp"
    Case Sensitive S02E01: "The Other Half Lives (1)"
    Chelsea Lately S06E110
    Come Dine With Me S19E23: "Series 19, Episode 19"
    Coronation Street S53E135: "Thu July 12, 2012"
    Country House Rescue S05E05: "Meldon Park"
    D.U.I. S01E11: "Chancellor & Ashley"
    D.U.I. S01E12: "Annie & Michael"
    Daybreak S02E218: "July 12, 2012"
    Days of our Lives S47E173: "Ep. #11883"
    Dead Boss S01E06: "Episode 6"
    Deal Or No Deal (UK) S07E287: "Episode 1967"
    Doctors S14E55: "Embers"
    Duets S01E08: "Superstars Choice"
    Dynamo: Magician Impossible S02E02: "Series 2, Episode 2"
    EastEnders S28E109: "July 12, 2012"
    Emmerdale S41E162: "July 12, 2012 [Episode 2]"
    Emmerdale S41E161: "July 12, 2012"
    Figure It Out S04E23: "Featuring Elizabeth Gillies"
    Four In A Bed S03E49: "Series 3, Episode 49"
    General Hospital (US) S50E72: "#12600"
    Hamish & Andys Gap Year S02E05: "Season 2, Episode 5"
    Hollyoaks S18E139: "July 12, 2012"
    Hollywood Heights S01E19: "Loren Gets Lost"
    Home and Away (AU) S25E124: "Episode 5559"
    House Hunters S50E14
    House Hunters International S34E09
    Impact Wrestling S08E93: "Season 8, Episode 93"
    Jeopardy! S28E214: "Show #6419"
    Jimmy Kimmel Live S09E278
    LA Hair S01E07: "Tick Tick Boom"
    Lab Rats (2012) S01E14: "Chore Wars"
    Late Night with Jimmy Fallon S02E302
    Late Show with David Letterman S19E100
    Live at the Electric S01E07: "Episode 7"
    Live with Kelly S29E227
    Louie S03E03: "Miami"
    Marco Pierre White's Kitchen Wars S01E06: "Episode 6"
    Masterchef Australia S04E59
    Men at Work S01E10: "Super Milo"
    Men at Work S01E09: "Inventing Milo"
    Mock The Week S11E05
    Motorcity S01E10: "The Duke of Detroit Presents…"
    Mountain Men S01E07: "The Final Stand"
    Naruto: Shippuuden S11E28: "Golden Bonds"
    Neighbours S28E134: "Episode 6444"
    On the Fly S01E13: "On the Edge"
    P.O.V. S25E04: "Guilty Pleasures"
    Question Time S32E39: "July 12, 2012"
    Rock Center with Brian Williams S01E33
    Rookie Blue S03E06: "Coming Home"
    Saving Hope S01E06: "The Great Randall"
    Secret Dealers S03E04: "Series 3, Episode 4"
    Shaun the Sheep Championsheeps S01E18: "Trampoline"
    Shaun the Sheep Championsheeps S01E17: "Hammer"
    Sket Dance S02E15: "Episode 15"
    Snooki and JWoww vs. The World S01E04
    Suits S02E04: "Discovery"
    Super Tiny Animals S01E02: "Episode 2"
    Swamp People S03E22: "Bayou's Best"
    Take Me Out (US) S01E06: "Season 1, Episode 6"
    The Block (NZ) S01E04: "Season 1, Episode 4"
    The Bold and the Beautiful S26E79: "Ep. #6363"
    The Chase (2009) S05E93: "Series 5, Episode 93"
    The Choice S01E06
    The First 48 S12E19: "Shattered"
    The Hotel Inspector S09E02: "The Oakland"
    The Jeremy Kyle Show S07E207: "July 12, 2012"
    The Midnight Beast S01E02: "Father's Day"
    The Project S04E165: "Season 4, Episode 165"
    The Real L Word S03E01: "Apples And Oranges"
    The Tonight Show with Jay Leno S20E117
    The View S15E201: "Bryan Cranston, Mario Cantone"
    The Young and the Restless S40E78: "Ep. #9947"
    This Week (2003) S10E34: "July 12, 2012"
    Tipping Point S01E09: "Episode 9"
    Tonight S14E24: "Olympic Winners and Losers"
    Traffic Cops S13E05: "Bash Cash"
    Tron: Uprising S01E07: "Price of Power"
    truTV Presents: World's Dumbest... S14E06
    Urban Secrets S01E02: "Episode 2"
    Volcano Live S01E04: "The Future"
    Watch What Happens: Live S07E15: "Donald Faison"
    Wilfred (US) S02E04: "Guilt"
    Wipeout (US) S05E12: "It's the John Henson Show"

Why you should watch Portlandia

A satirical take on hipster subculture in Portland, Oregon, US sketch show Portlandia is well worth a bit of your time…

Comedy and place often come tightly wound: The League of Gentlemen grew its twisted cabaret in Royston Vasey’s fetid soil, Fawlty Towers was rooted in the faded glamour of Torquay, and the Yorkshire Dales left their muddy footprints all over Last of the Summer Wine. No other comedy though seems quite as rooted in a specific place and population as the Independent Film Channel’s Portlandia.

Created by and starring Saturday Night Live’s Fred Armisen and former Sleater Kinney guitarist and singer Carrie Brownstein, sketch show Portlandia draws on the liberal whims and trends of Portland, Oregon. The Armisen/Brownstein partnership began with online sketch series ThunderAnt, a blueprint for the show, which takes aim at Portland’s hipster citizenry.

For those unfamiliar with the city (and grunge fans aside, that’s probably the majority of us outside the states), for the past couple of decades Portland, OR. has made a name for itself as a liberal, hipster hang-out, a place populated by low-ambition, organic co-op kids who ride bikes, make crafts, wear ironically outsized glasses, start bands, and enrol in clown school. According to the show, Portland is the place young people go to retire.

All comedies are staged in a parallel universe version of the place they’re set, whether that’s Friends’ version of New York, or Frasier’s Seattle, but Portlandia particularly takes place in a satirical mirror twin of its namesake. Like Family Guy’s Quahog, the fictive city has its own oddball mayor (played by David Lynch-regular Kyle McLaughlin), and a population of piously hip, pretentious characters who come in for an affectionate mocking.

Its writers’ pedigrees include credits on South Park, The Daily Show, Saturday Night Live, and The Colbert Report, which gives it as good a grounding in modern US satire as you could wish for. The arrival of Arrested Development staff writer Karey Dornetto for season two was a great fit with the show’s eccentricity, but it's Brownstein and Armisen's po-faced performances and absurd observations that make Portlandia so enjoyable.

Most episodes have an ongoing narrative thread dotted with standalone sketches, and are populated by a cast of one-off and recurring characters (the mayor, Peter and Nance - a couple so precious about being eco-conscious  it’s painful, feminist bookshop owners Toni and Candace, and many more…).

The show’s best-known sketches (the ones that show up near the top of a Portlandia YouTube search) are ‘Dream of the 90s’ a song that neatly sets out the show’s stall, Peter and Nance’s ‘Is it Local?’ food-mile obsession skit, and faux ads ‘Put a Bird On It’ and ‘We Can Pickle That’. Personal favourites also include a company that sources bad art for coffee shop walls, the über-competitive ‘Did You Read?’ pair, and an obsessive Battlestar Galactica marathon that destroys a couple’s life.

Portlandia can be seen as picking up the mantle of Canadian sketch show The Kids in the Hall for its bizarre snapshot of a specific time, place, and slice of the populace. This specificity does mean Portlandia episodes have a shelf-life, and if you’ve tried watching old episodes of Saturday Night Live, you’ll see what I mean. Topical gags about now-defunct campaign running mates or reality stars who’ve faded into obscurity lose their potency with each passing hour, so knowing jibes at the hipster trend for home-pickling aren’t exactly future-proof. Comedy doesn’t have to last forever though, and Portlandia's use-by date at least gives us a good excuse to inhale the existing episodes on Netflix at speed.

By its second season, Portlandia had a bigger budget and a sharper sense of what’s funny. It was able to take more risks in terms of style, including unpredictable treats such as a Wes Anderson-style Fantastic Mr Fox stop-motion animated segment, more songs (Brownstein and Armisen both being musicians, there are songs and fictional bands aplenty), and a brilliantly weird tale of a durian fruit from an organic home delivery box transforming a bungalow into a space-ship.

One thing that’s remained more or less constant over the two seasons is the calibre of guest stars, who are chosen from a different demographic than your average celebrity faces. Eddie Vedder, Johnny Marr, Joanna Newsom, The Decemberists, and more are just a few of the musicians who’ve popped up in various roles (Aimee Mann works as Fred and Carrie’s cleaner to make ends meet thanks to illegal downloading). Actors Jeff Goldblum, Tim Robbins, Steve Buscemi, Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudeikis and Edward James Olmos have all appeared, as have filmmakers Gus Van Sant, Penny Marshall, and Miranda July. If there was such a thing as a bingo calling card for indie lefty TV cameos from the entertainment world, then Portlandia fans would soon call house.

Being so tailored to a specific community and time though, is the show funny if you’ve never been to Portland? Yup, especially if you can recognise its satirical take in a Portland of your own - parts of Brighton perhaps, for UK viewers, or maybe Shoreditch. Anywhere the population contains more DJs than schoolteachers, where putting a bird on something counts as art, where restaurant menus come not only with the name of the local organic chicken you’re about to tuck into but also its taste in music, then that’s your version of Portlandia.

Just as Curb Your Enthusiasm is a chronicle of the absurdities, hypocrisies and petty frustrations of modern living, so is Portlandia, but with oh-so-precious subculture at its centre rather than an apoplectic millionaire. It pokes gentle fun at the humourless piety of 21st century do-gooders and exposes quite how dumb we twenty-thirtysomethings can be.

Importantly, it's not mean-spirited, and avoids that Little Britain sense of laughing at, rather than with the groups it mocks. It's a well-observed comedy of recognition, injecting some comic humility into the most cringeworthy trends in modern liberal living. Yes it's niche, but if you number amongst the niche it reflects, you'll find plenty to enjoy.

How have Portlanders themselves taken to the show? All told, pretty well. The real city’s incumbent mayor, Sam Adams, even pops up as assistant to Kyle McLachlan’s reggae roots bass-playing municipal official in a number of episodes, and named an official Portlandia day in 2011, with prerequisite decorative bird on the declaration, naturally.

First Look: "Arrow" (The CW)

The network's description: "After a violent shipwreck, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen was missing and presumed dead for five years before being discovered alive on a remote island in the Pacific. When he returns home to Starling City, his devoted mother Moira, much-beloved sister Thea, and best friend Tommy welcome him home, but they sense Oliver has been changed by his ordeal on the island. While Oliver hides the truth about the man he's become, he desperately wants to make amends for the actions he took as the boy he was. Most particularly, he seeks reconciliation with his former girlfriend, Laurel Lance. As Oliver reconnects with those closest to him, he secretly creates the persona of Arrow - a vigilante - to right the wrongs of his family, fight the ills of society, and restore Starling City to its former glory. By day, Oliver plays the role of a wealthy, carefree and careless philanderer he used to be - flanked by his devoted chauffeur/bodyguard, John Diggle - while carefully concealing the secret identity he turns to under cover of darkness.

However, Laurel's father, Detective Quentin Lance, is determined to arrest the vigilante operating in his city. Meanwhile, Oliver's own mother, Moira, knows much more about the deadly shipwreck than she has let on - and is more ruthless than he could ever imagine. The series stars Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, Colin Donnell as Tommy, Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance, David Ramsey as John Diggle, Willa Holland as Thea Queen, with Susanna Thompson as Moira Queen and Paul Blackthorne as Detective Quentin Lance. Based on characters appearing in comic books and graphic novels published by DC Comics, ARROW is from Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. Television, with executive producers Greg Berlanti ("Green Lantern," "Brothers & Sisters"), Marc Guggenheim ("FlashForward," "Eli Stone"), Andrew Kreisberg ("Warehouse 13," "The Vampire Diaries") and David Nutter ("Smallville," "Supernatural," "Game of Thrones"). Melissa Kellner Berman ("Eli Stone," "Dirty Sexy Money") is co-executive producer. The pilot was directed by David Nutter from a teleplay by Andrew Kreisberg & Marc Guggenheim, story by Greg Berlanti & Marc Guggenheim."

What did they leave out? The pilot will make its world premiere tonight at Comic-Con International: San Diego.

The plot in a nutshell: "For five years, I have had only one thought, one goal: survive," billionaire playboy Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) explains in the opening narration. You see, Queen was the only survivor of a shipwreck in the Pacific Ocean - one that also claimed the life of his father, Robert (Jamey Sheridan), and his latest conquest, Sarah Lance (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood) - and, until a fishing boat ran across his island prison a half-decade later, he was the only one who knew. Back home in Starling City, his mother Moira (Willa Holland) has since remarried to Walter Steele (Colin Salmon), a family friend from Queen Consolidated; while Oliver's younger sister Thea (Willa Holland) has taken up with a dangerous crowd. He's of course welcomed with open arms by said group, as well as his best friend Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell).

Collectively they expect Oliver to pick up where he left off: enjoying the fruits of his family's labor. He however has different - and much more secret - plans. His experiences of the island, fragments of which are relayed in flashback, taught him he could be and do so much more, not to mention crystalized a list of those responsible for Starling's woes. And with that, the Arrow is born. First up: Adam Hunt (Brian Markinson), a mogul responsible for swindling hundreds out of their savings. He's also the target of Sarah's sister Laurel (Katie Cassidy) - and Oliver's girlfriend at the time of his affair with Sarah - whose legal aid clinic is in a hopeless battle with him in civil court. Being a hooded, bow-wielding vigilante of course has its advantages and it just might be the edge to take Hunt down. Along the way we also meet Laurel's father Quentin (Paul Blackthorne), a detective who's skeptical of our hero; and John Diggle (David Ramsey), a bodyguard whom Moira assigns to Oliver; not to mention a few unexpected secrets.

What works: You couldn't ask for a better constructed, more slickly executed take on the TV superhero genre, one that's brimming with confidence about what's to come. Perhaps the most striking element is the pilot is an unabashed, 44-minute promise to explain how the island changed this rich layabout into a living weapon. It knows it's a leap but the way it's presented here is instantly believable and Oliver has the scars - both physically and emotionally - to bridge the gap. It helps that Amell is about as charming - and let's just come out and say it kids, dreamy - of a lead as you could ask for here. The above is a gauntlet of emotion and he pulls it off, well... as you'll see with lots and lots of sweat.

It helps that Kreisberg and company load the pilot with a bevy of conflicts beyond the obvious tentpole: Oliver has to atone for his sins against Laurel and watch over Thea - both of which may involve pushing them away - not to mention deal with his father's shamed legacy, Diggle's increasingly more watchful eye, keeping Quentin at bay, Tommy in the dark and find his place in the family business. All of the above - and then some - get enough time to marinate without seeming scattershot or confusing, and fill up the tank of the dynamics to come. What else can I say? It's a genuinely likeable show and easily one of the leaders of this season's freshman class.

What doesn't: There will certainly be those who cry foul over the assorted tweaks from the comics: Star City becoming Starling City, Thea being monikered as "Speedy" and so on, or the simple fact this doesn't fit in with the "Smallville" saga.

The bottom line: A top tier take on the superhero genre.

First Look: "666 Park Avenue" (ABC)

The network's description: "At the ominous address of 666 Park Avenue, anything you desire can be yours. Everyone has needs, desires and ambition. For the residents of The Drake, these will all be met, courtesy of the building's mysterious owner, Gavin Doran (Terry O'Quinn). But every Faustian contract comes with a price. When Jane Van Veen (Rachael Taylor) and Henry Martin (Dave Annable), an idealistic young couple from the Midwest, are offered the opportunity to manage the historic building, they not only fall prey to the machinations of Doran and his mysterious wife, Olivia (Vanessa Williams), but unwittingly begin to experience the shadowy, supernatural forces within the building that imprison and endanger the lives of the residents inside. Sexy, seductive and inviting, The Drake maintains a dark hold over all of its residents, tempting them through their ambitions and desires, in this chilling new drama that's home to an epic struggle of good versus evil."

What did they leave out? It's based on Gabriella Pierce's book of the same name. Plus, the pilot will make its world premiere tonight at Comic-Con International: San Diego.

The plot in a nutshell: If anything could possibly make architectural scholar Jane Van Veen (Rachael Taylor) and her lawyer boyfriend Henry Martin (Dave Annable) happier, it would be landing the resident manager position at the esteemed 999 Park Avenue building in New York City. And despite a somewhat rocky interview with its owner, Gavin Doran (Terry O'Quinn), they manage just that. Their bliss however is on track to be short lived as despite their elegant and generous facades, something's not quite right Gavin and his wife Olivia (Vanessa Williams). It seems that various residents have struck Faustian bargains with them, ranging from a talentless violinist asking for the skills to become a success to a widow wanting to bring his wife back from the dead. The price: well, it's called a Faustian bargain for a reason.

Jane and Henry of course are initially none the wiser to this, happily accepting everything from their invitations to the symphony to sessions at a high-end driving range. Along the way we meet a handful of other residents, including struggling playwright Brian Leonard (Robert Buckley) and his nagging photographer wife Louise (Mercedes Masöhn) as well as Nona Clark (Samantha Logan), a teenager who warns Jane about a petty thief in the building. It's Jane then who, after some "The Shining"-esque experiences, ultimately starts to get some perspective and asks what is exactly going on with the Dorans. The answer might lay in the history of the building itself (Jane being a trained architect and all), most notably an ornately tiled room in the basement.

What works: O'Quinn and Williams do restrained menace as well as anyone so it's nice to see all of their bugabooing with a minimum of mustache twirling. And aside from a few groaners - "As I understand it Mr. Hartwell moved someplace warmer...," doorman Tony DeMeo (Erik Palladino) notes about the previous resident manager. "Arizona." - the double entendres are likewise parceled out with restraint. As for our heroes, Jane and Henry, on one hand they're given enough smarts to ask questions when something doesn't add up but on another they'll charge into a dark stairwell alone and in their pajamas. Overall, it's not that there's anything glaringly bad with the show...

What doesn't:'s just collectively they don't form something great or memorable. The deals are just deals with the figurative devil, absent any kind of "Fantasy Island"-esque flair. Jane and Henry, despite Taylor and Annable's charms, are your standard aspiring yuppies. And the various subplots - Brian is intrigued by his gorgeous neighbor across the street (Helena Mattsson); Gavin strings along a particularly desperate resident (James Waterston) - add very little to the overall story. It's as ho-hum of a construction as you could ask for considering its theoretically fantastical potential. Even the closing moments, which should launch the audience into a hunger for episode two, just kind of say "we'll have more of this kind of thing for you next week." Not exactly a rally cry, but considering the bevy of missteps in the upcoming freshman class...

The bottom line: ...take the ho-hum while you can get it.

First Look: "Revolution" (NBC)

The network's description: "Our entire way of life depends on electricity. So what would happen if it just stopped working? Well, one day, like a switch turned off, the world is suddenly thrust back into the dark ages. Planes fall from the sky, hospitals shut down, and communication is impossible. And without any modern technology, who can tell us why? Now, 15 years later, life is back to what it once was long before the industrial revolution: families living in quiet cul-de-sacs, and when the sun goes down lanterns and candles are lit. Life is slower and sweeter. Or is it? On the fringes of small farming communities, danger lurks. And a young woman's life is dramatically changed when a local militia arrives and kills her father, who mysteriously - and unbeknownst to her - had something to do with the blackout. This brutal encounter sets her and two unlikely companions off on a daring coming-of-age journey to find answers about the past in the hopes of reclaiming the future.

From director Jon Favreau ("Iron Man," "Iron Man 2") and the fertile imaginations of J.J. Abrams ("Lost," "Person of Interest") and Eric Kripke ("Supernatural"), comes a surprising "what if" action-adventure series, where an unlikely hero will lead the world out of the dark. Literally. The series stars Billy Burke ("The Twilight Saga"), Tracy Spiridakos ("Being Human"), Anna Lise Phillips ("Terra Nova"), Zak Orth ("Romeo + Juliet"), Graham Rogers ("Memphis Beat"), J.D. Pardo ("A Cinderella Story"), Giancarlo Esposito ("Breaking Bad"), David Lyons ("The Cape"), Maria Howell ("The Blind Side"), Tim Guinee ("Iron Man") and Andrea Roth ("Rescue Me"). Kripke, Abrams, Favreau and Bryan Burk ("Lost," "Star Trek") serve as executive producers. "Revolution" is produced by Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Bad Robot Productions, Kripke Enterprises and Warner Bros. Television. The pilot was directed by Favreau."

What did they leave out? Elizabeth Mitchell will replace Andrea Roth as Rachel while Anna Lise Phillips's Maggie is being written out. Plus, the pilot will make its world premiere tonight at Comic-Con International: San Diego.

The plot in a nutshell: Since the trailer gives away just about everything, I guess it's safe to hit the broad strokes. "Ben, it's happening isn't it?" Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) asks her rattled husband (Tim Guinee) in the opening moments. "It" is a global apocalypse in which all forms of electricity abruptly (and mysteriously) cease to exist. Planes fall from the sky, power grids shut down, cars stall in their tracks, they all just stop working. 15 years later, Ben and his now grown children, adventurous Charlie (Tracy Spiradakos) and asthmatic Danny (Graham Rogers), have settled into the new status quo for life on Earth: living in small villages at the mercy of the various militias that have risen up in place of governments.

And despite its challenges - we're told mom Rachel died years ago - it's a decent existence, that is until Captain Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) of the Monroe Militia arrives demanding Ben come with him. A testosterone-fueled misunderstanding later, Ben is mortally wounded and Danny is taken in his place. Ben's dying wish: have Charlie seek out his brother Miles (Billy Burke) in Chicago, who can help rescue Danny. A tearful goodbye later, Charlie is on her way, joined by Maggie (Anna Lise Phillips), the town doctor who was involved with Ben; and Aaron (Zak Orth), the resident scholar whom Ben entrusted with a locket that may hold the secrets behind the blackout. Along the way they pick up Nate (J.D. Pardo), a dashing archer, and manage to track down Miles, who's anything but interested in helping. But that as they say, is just the beginning of the story...

What works: There's a lot of potentially fun concepts at work at there - from how swordfighting has become the de facto means of settling disputes to how young people have no concept of how life was with electricity - all wrapped in some genuinely stunning visuals of post-apocalyptic Chicago. It's a lush, beautiful show and one of the splashiest things you'll see on TV next season, all done in an ambitious spirit you can't help but root for. From a character standpoint, Burke's Miles and Esposito's Neville not surprisingly leave the biggest impressions as the former has a fun Han Solo-esque affability while the latter effortlessly radiates Southern gentile menace. It's a shame then they never meet as "Revolution" plays like three mini-movies - the prologue showing the blackout, life in the village and the journey to find Miles - all with their own distinct dynamics.

What doesn't: In theory that's a good thing - we don't know what's coming next - and yet it's almost disjointed to the point we don't really get to invest ourselves in what's going on (especially in its big reveals, which hinge on things from its previous iterations). Episode two then will presumably open up with a fourth set of dynamics, again resetting the show. As usual however the real challenge for a series like this is its incessant use of pronouns for things yet to be explained (oh the word "it," how you punish us) not to mention the general big bet that physics itself can be turned upside down like this without even more dire consequences to nature itself. (That and Wrigley Field is adorned with a "2012 World Series Champions" banner.) Still, "Revolution" should get an inordinate amount of credit for at least trying to set up such a world and proceeding to ask how humanity would respond to it.

The bottom line: It will probably frustrate you at times, but darn if it isn't a swing for the fences.

Fox Unveils Its 2012-2013 Primetime Line-Up

Two dramas and three new comedies, including one created by “The Office‘s” Mindy Kaling, will join Fox’s primetime schedule for the 2012-2013 season.

Kaling’s comedy,  “The Mindy Project,” (formerly known as “Mindy” and “It’s Messy”) will be paired with Fox’s comedy hit “New Girl” on Tuesdays, and new comedy “Ben and Kate” (formerly known as “Ned Fox is My Manny” — we know! Fox gets wacky with the title changes!) will be hammocked between “Raising Hope” and “New Girl” at 8:30. A third comedy, “The Goodwin Games” (from the executive producers of “How I Met Your Mother,” Carter Bays, Craig Thomas and Chris Harris) is scheduled to arrive in midseason.

As for the new dramas, “The Mob Doctor” will follow “Bones” on Mondays, with new thriller “The Following” — executive produced by Kevin Williamson, starring Kevin Bacon — sliding into the Monday night line-up in midseason. For details on Fox’s new shows, click here.

The public unveiling of these new series at the network’s Tuesday afternoon upfront presentation may have been somewhat eclipsed by the announcement that “Glee” is being bumped to one of the most competitive timeslots on the broadcast schedule: New episodes will air at 9pm Thursdays starting this fall. Midseason drama “Touch” will now be paired with “Fringe” on Friday nights.

According to a teleconference with reporters on Tuesday morning, the fourth season of “Glee” will feature a “show within a show,” with the plot following some of McKinley High’s graduates as they navigate a performing arts school in New York. Among the guest stars due to appear next year are Kate Hudson, who has signed on for a six-episode arc, and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Lastly, Fox executives confirmed the rumor circulating last week that Britney Spears and Demi Lovato will join L.A. Reid and Simon Cowell at the judges table on “The X Factor.” Yep, that’s really happening.

Cancelled series include “Alcatraz“, “Allen Gregory“, “Breaking In“, “The Finder“, “I Hate My Teenage Daughter“, “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Terra Nova” and “House.”

What follows is Fox’s complete fall schedule, taken from the network’s press release.


8pm “Bones”

9pm “The Mob Doctor” (New Series)


8pm “Raising Hope”

8:30pm “Ben and Kate” (New Series)

9pm “New Girl”

9:30pm “The Mindy Project” (New Series)


8pm “The X-Factor” (fall)/ “American Idol” (midseason)


8pm  ”The X-Factor: Results” (fall)/ “American Idol: Results” (midseason) 

9pm “Glee”


8pm “Touch”

9pm “Fringe”


7-10:30pm “Fox Sports Saturday” (fall)


7:30pm “The OT”(fall)/”The Cleveland Show”

8pm “The Simpsons”

8:30pm “Bob’s Burgers”

9pm “Family Guy”

9:30pm “American Dad”

ABC Sets Its 2012-2013 Line-Up

Emily Thorne’s “revengenda” now includes a move to Sunday nights. The sleeper hit “Revenge” will slide into the 9pm Sunday timeslot formerly occupied by heavy-hitter “Desperate Housewives,” which just ended its eight-season run on Sunday. The move was perhaps the largest shift evident on ABC’s 2012-2013 schedule, revealed Tuesday during the network’s upfronts presentation in New York.

While “Revenge’s” move to Sundays was unexpected, it is not entirely surprising, even though earlier this spring it seemed as if “GCB” was being groomed to pick up “Desperate’s” audience next season. Apparently ABC entertainment president Paul Lee has decided to take his network’s Sunday line-up to a new place: “Desperate” may be the series that lifted ABC out of its ratings pit eight seasons ago, but Lee has endorsed “Revenge” as the kind of show to move ABC forward.  (The aforementioned “GCB,” meanwhile, has been shuffled off to TV heaven.)

ABC has picked up 10 series for the new season, five of which will premiere on the fall schedule. Coming in the fall are the dramas “Nashville,” “Last Resort” (from executive producer Shawn Ryan) and “666 Park Avenue“. New comedies include “The Neighbors,” about a human family that discovers it is living among aliens, and “Malibu Country,” which will be paired with “Last Man Standing” when it returns to the schedule in November. You can view trailers for all of ABC’s new series, including its midseason comedies and dramas, by clicking here.

ABC also intends to strengthen its comedy presence across the schedule by moving “Happy Endings” and “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23“  off of Wednesday nights, and pairing them up in the 9 o’clock hour on Tuesdays.

Waiting in the midseason dugout are the comedies “How to Live with Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)” and “The Family Tools,” which will replace the Tuesday night results episode of “Dancing with the Stars” in January. Timeslots for midseason dramas “Mistresses,” “Red Widow” and “Zero Hour” are yet to be determined.

As for “Dancing with the Stars,” the coming season will feature an “All-Star” cycle populated with favorite contenders from seasons past. No word on casting at this point.

The list of the dead includes “Charlie’s Angels,” “GCB“, “Man Up“, “Missing“, “Pan Am“, “The River” and perhaps the most horrible series to appear on television this year, “Work It.”

Below is ABC’s official primetime schedule, taken from the network’s press release:


8pm: “Dancing with the Stars”/”The Bachelor” (in midseason)

10pm: “Castle”


8pm: “Dancing with the Stars: Results Show”/ “How to Live With Your Parents) For the Rest of Your Life” (midseason; new series)

8:30pm: “The Family Tools” (in midseason: new series)

9pm: “Happy Endings”

9:30pm: “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23

10pm: “Private Practice”


8pm: “The Middle”

8:30pm: “Suburgatory”

9pm: “Modern Family”

9:30pm: “The Neighbors” (new series)

10pm: “Nashville” (new series)


8pm: “Last Resort” (new series)

9pm: “Grey’s Anatomy”

10pm: “Scandal”


8pm: “Shark Tank”/ “Last Man Standing” (in November)

8:30pm: “Malibu County” (in November; new series)

9pm: “Primetime: What Would You Do?”

10pm:  “20/20”


8pm:  “Saturday Night College Football”


7pm: “America’s Funniest Home Videos”

8pm: “Once Upon a Time”

9 pm: “Revenge”

10pm: “666 Park Avenue” (new series)

CBS Presents Its 2012-2013 Primetime Schedule

When you’re winning, why change? That’s been CBS’s attitude for most of the last decade because it has had more series at the top of the Nielsen ratings, consistently, for nine years running. Mind you, nobody is going to call the bulk of CBS’s programming innovative — indeed, some embody the very definition of “killing time.” That is, they exist for the sole purpose of getting a person from the top of any given hour to the bottom with the speed and efficiency of a Japanese economy car.

Clearly there’s something to that, because people continue to watch by the millions — many more millions that most of its competition. Yes, CBS has a schedule that works, and not much room for additions or failures. But the network is not above a little tinkering from time to time.

This is why “Two and a Half Men,” the comedy that has served as the network’s Monday night tentpole since 2005, is moving to Thursday nights at 8:30pm, where it will hopefully retain “The Big Bang Theory’s” sizable audience.  “2 Broke Girls” will take over its 9pm Monday slot.  Meanwhile, “The Mentalist” is moving from Thursday nights to Sundays at 10pm.

CBS is going into the fall season with only four new series on the schedule, and two waiting in the wings for midseason. New series include “Vegas,” starring Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis; the perhaps unfortunately named “Made in Jersey” (although the original title was worse); and the Sherlock Holmes update “Elementary” starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu. The network is adding just one new comedy this fall, “Partners.” Click here to read descriptions of CBS’s new series.

Midseason will bring the drama “Golden Boy” and the comedy “Friend Me.”

Cancelled series include “CSI: Emoting With Sunglasses“, “A Gifted Man“, “How to Be a Gentleman“, “NYC 22“, “Rob” and “Unforgettable“. The fate of comedy pinch-hitter “Rules of Engagement” has yet to be determined.

Keep reading for the complete CBS fall 2012 schedule, taken from the network’s press release.


8pm “How I Met Your Mother”

8pm “Partners” (New Series)

9pm “2 Broke Girls”

9:30pm “Mike & Molly”

10pm “Hawaii Five-0?


8pm  “NCIS”

9pm  “NCIS: Los Angeles”

10pm “Vegas” (New Series)


8pm “Survivor”

9pm “Criminal Minds”

10pm “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”


8pm “The Big Bang Theory”

8:30pm “Two and a Half Men”

9pm “Person of Interest”

10pm “Elementary” (New Series)


8pm “CSI: NY”

9pm “Made in Jersey” (New Series)

10pm “Blue Bloods”


8-10pm “Crimetime Saturday” (Repeats)

10pm “48 Hours Mystery”


7pm  “60 Minutes”

8pm “The Amazing Race”

9pm “The Good Wife”

10pm “The Mentalist”

The 2012-2013 TV Season At First Glance

Welcome to the new broadcast television season, same as the old season…pretty much.

True, some 36 new scripted additions are due to join the primetime schedules of ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and The CW over the course of the 2012-2013 primetime season.  Fifteen of those are comedies, seven of which will be coming to us (assuming they even see the light of day) from NBC. Surely within those ranks are a few shows we’ll come to love.

As we compare and contrast the schedules of the Big Four, here are a few bright spots — and glaring problem areas — that stand out.

ABC Serves Up “Revenge” on Sunday Nights

Clearly ABC is done with housewives. “Desperate” is dead, and “GCB” has passed on. Instead, the sleeper hit “Revenge” is ABC’s new Sunday night anchor, followed by the devilish thriller “666 Park Avenue,” which could work beautifully together or come off as strangely as Emily Thorne attending high tea with the witches of “Eastwick.”

Tuesday Night: Comedy Feast, or Fustercluck?

Rare are the seasons when nearly every network does not have the same bright idea. And the big one for 2012-2013 appears to be Tuesday nights as a comedy destination. You can thank “New Girl” and “Glee” for lighting that candle.

Fox is capitalizing on that small victory by building a full night of comedy, slotting the new series “Ben and Kate” after the underrated “Raising Hope,” with Mindy Kaling‘s new comedy “The Mindy Project” following “New Girl” in the 9 o’clock hour, and shifting “Glee” to the Thursday night battleground.

ABC is offering some competition in the form of “Happy Endings,” switching from Wednesday nights to 9pm Tuesdays followed fellow Hump Day comedy “Don’t Trust the B—” at 9:30pm.  Like “New Girl” and “Mindy,” the ABC comedies are compatible, female-friendly and, even more daunting for “The Mindy Project’s” prospects, road tested.

Then NBC is jumping into the fray with the Matthew Perry vehicle “Go On” and executive producer Ryan Murphy‘s comedy “The New Normal.” Having Matthew Perry headline a sitcom does not guarantee success (“Mr. Sunshine,” anyone?), but what it and “Normal” have in their favor is higher testosterone levels. Something has to counteract all of that “adorkableness” (and yes, we’re as sick of that stupid pop-culture term as you are).

But Tuesday is not necessarily the new “must-see comedy” night. ABC has a full sitcom block on Wednesdays from 8pm to 10pm,with “Modern Family” at its core, and is adding “The Neighbors,” which gives us another round of “aliens next door” humor. “The Neighbors” is already looking like the show critics can’t wait to hate on. But remember, critics also hated “3rd Rock from the Sun” — which  aired for six seasons.

NBC still has brand-recognition its Thursday night comedy block, which continues to exist only because nobody can remember a time when it didn’t. Instead of giving up on sitcoms the network is doubling down for 2012-2013. The only nights on NBC’s schedule without any sitcom presence are Sundays and Mondays.

So yeah, lots of comedy options.  Maybe even too many. But we’re guessing the field will thin out by the holiday season. If not, you can color us pleasantly surprised.

The 10 o’clock Slots:  The most important timeslot for network affiliates, a badly-under-performing 10pm series can  be ratings poison for local newscasters. And while some networks have the 10pm slot locked down on most nights, others remain very much up-for-grabs. Keep an eye on these.

10pm Mondays: ABC’s got “Castle.” CBS has “Hawaii Five-O.” With crime drama territory thoroughly staked out here, NBC is going a different direction with “Revolution,” executive produced by J.J. Abrams. Counter-programming with a genre-flavored series that a network can pass off as a regular drama (with a twist!) so as not to scare off the average viewer seems like a smart move, on the face of it. And “Revolution” could also do a lot worse than having “The Voice” for a lead-in.

Then again, NBC has tried this tactic many times before with shows like “Journeyman” and “My Own Worst Enemy,” and both of those had more compatible Monday night companions than this new series.

10pm Tuesdays: A tough timeslot for several seasons now, 10 o’clock Tuesday is the home of the barely renewed “Parenthood” and that cancelled Poppy Montgomery show whose name we’ve already forgotten…what was it called…? (Just kidding, “Unforgettable“), and the place where ABC sent “Private Practice” off to hide.

“Parenthood” and “Private” will be back at 10, but are now going up against CBS’s new period piece “Vegas,” about a cowboy sheriff (played by Dennis Quaid) taking on the mob as the city began its rise in the 1960s. “Vegas” may end up being one of those series that only critics love, but count on it to make a noisy entrance.

10pm Wednesdays: Another soft night for any network who isn’t CBS (and even it needs to start thinking about a reasonable replacement for the aging “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation“), it will be interesting to see which series comes out on top in the battle between “Nashville,” which looks like ABC’s grittier answer to “Smash,” and Dick Wolf’s latest drama “Chicago Fire.”

10pm Thursdays: With “The Mentalist” leaping to Sunday at 10pm, the Thursday night pimp slot is anyone’s game again. Theoretically. ABC’s midseason keeper “Scandal” is remaining there, and its primary nemesis is the new Sherlock Holmes update “Elementary” on CBS. Tough to call a winner here, since both are fairly new and pretty much precisely the kind of shows that are evocative of their networks. Oh, and NBC? It has decided to roll over and play dead take a different approach by keeping “Rock Center with Brian Williams” in that hour.

And last but not least…

The Friday Night Conundrum

Other than CBS which, between “CSI: NY,” new show “Made in Jersey” and “Blue Bloods,”  has devoted its Friday nights to a version of New York that makes many a Midwesterner forgo a visit to Broadway for the safer streets of Branson, MO., nobody has figured out Fridays. Network executives may insist they have a strategy, but then, so do a lot of defeated and forgotten “Survivor” contestants.

Instead, Friday is the place where the networks decided to stick all of the shows with passionate audiences and low ratings, and “Whitney.” Will somebody please help them out?  Help them, and you’ll be helping all of us.

But don’t kill yourself over that project. Tuesday night alone ensures that our DVRs will be full of stuff to watch at the end of a long work week instead.

NBC Announces Fall (and August) Season Premieres

Once again, NBC is using the Olympics to bring as many eyes as possible to a few of its new series — specifically, freshman comedies “Go On” and “Animal Practice.”"Go On,” the latest Matthew Perry half-hour, premieres August 8 and will air commercial-free following Olympics coverage in primetime. “Animal Practice” also previews without commercials on August 12, following the Closing Ceremonies of the Summer Olympics.

Meanwhile, “Grimm” fans will be able to catch an early look at the season premiere on at 10pm on Monday, August 13, following the premiere of late summer reality show filler “Stars Earn Stripes.” The highly-anticipated drama “Revolution” debuts at 10pm on September 17, while Dick Wolf‘s new drama “Chicago Fire” joins the schedule at 10pm on October 10.

But, in a twist that’s bound to upset “Community” fans, the further adventures of the Greendale 7 won’t kick off again until October 19 at 8:30, likely due to behind-the-scenes upheaval that includes the ouster of the show’s creator and executive producer Dan Harmon.

Read on for NBC’s Fall 2012 primetime schedule, taken from a network press release. New shows are in bold.

Wednesday, August 8
“Go On” (sneak peek following Olympic Games coverage)

Sunday, August 12
“Animal Practice” (sneak peek following Olympic Games Closing Ceremonies)

Monday, August 13
8-10 p.m. “Stars Earn Stripes” (two-hour premiere)
10-11 p.m. “Grimm”

Wednesday, September 5
7:30-8:30 p.m. “NFL Kickoff Special 2012” (regular season)
8:30-11 p.m. “Sunday Night Football” (regular season)

Sunday, September 9
7-8:15 p.m. “Football Night in America” (regular day and time)
8:15-11 p.m. “Sunday Night Football” (regular day and time)

Monday, September 10
8-10 p.m. “The Voice”

Tuesday, September 11
9-9:30 p.m. “Go On” (time period premiere)
9:30-10 p.m. “The New Normal”
10-11 p.m. “Parenthood”

Wednesday, September 12
10-10:30 p.m. “Guys With Kids” (sneak peek after penultimate “America’s Got Talent”)

Friday, September 14
9-10pm – “Grimm” (time period premiere)

Monday, September 17
10-11 p.m. “Revolution”

Thursday, September 20
8:30-9 p.m. “Up All Night”
9-9:30 p.m. “The Office”
9:30-10 p.m. “Parks and Recreation”

Wednesday, September 26
8-8:30 p.m. “Animal Practice” (time period premiere)
8:30-9 p.m. “Guys With Kids” (time period premiere)
9-11 p.m. “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (two-hour premiere)

Thursday, October 4
8-8:30 p.m. “30 Rock”

Wednesday, October 10
10-11 p.m. “Chicago Fire”

Friday, October 19
8-8:30 p.m. “Whitney”
8:30-9 p.m. “Community”

The CW Sets Its Fall Premiere Dates

In the natural world, small creatures generally get out of the way when packs of big animals come charging through.

So it is with The (wee) CW, which has opted to kick off the majority of its 2012-2013 season in October, as opposed to its past practice of yelling “forward, march!” in September. With NBC hoping that its inflated tune-in for the Summer Olympics will yield higher ratings for new shows, and Fox planting its flag with a few pre-Emmys telecast premieres — the week following the Emmys marks the traditional start of the fall season — it’s not surprising that The CW is opting to sit out the September wave until the jungle has quieted down a bit.

“America’s Next Top Model” is the exception to this plan; its “College Edition” will premiere on August 24.

What follows is The CW’s fall 2012 premiere schedule, taken from the network’s press release.

Tuesday, October 2

8:00-9:00 PM                Hart of Dixie (Season Premiere)

Wednesday, October 3

9:00-10:00 PM              Supernatural (Season Premiere)

Monday, October 8

8:00-9:00 PM                90210 (Season Premiere)

9:00-10:00 PM              Gossip Girl (Season Premiere)

Wednesday, October 10

8:00-9:00 PM                Arrow (Series Premiere)

9:00-10:00 PM              Supernatural

Thursday, October 11

8:00-9:00 PM                The Vampire Diaries (Season Premiere)

9:00-10:00 PM              Beauty and the Beast (Series Premiere)

Tuesday, October 16

8:00-9:00 PM                Hart of Dixie

9:00-10:00 PM             Emily Owens, M.D. (Series Premiere)

Friday, October 19

8:00-9:00 PM                America’s Next Top Model: College Edition

9:00-10:00 PM              Nikita (Season Premiere)

CBS Releases Its Fall Premiere Schedule

In revealing its fall schedule to the world, CBS has declared that — drumroll, please — most of its shows are premiering exactly when one expects them to.  Which is to say that we’ll see them a) later than other big four broadcasters but not as late as the wee wee wee CW and b) during the week that marks the traditional start of the television season.

Yes, there is such a thing. Primetime television’s 2012-2013 season officially kicks off on the Monday after the Emmys telecast, which falls this year on September 23.  Over the past decade or so broadcasters have bucked that idea,  debuting some shows — mostly the newer ones — either before or well-after the fall season starting line in order to beat the season premiere traffic jam. The idea is to give said series a chance to stand out from the rest of the pack.

However, CBS has rarely engaged in that strategy because as the #1 network, it doesn’t have to get out of anyone’s way. Everyone else gets out of its way. Thus, it can premiere “Survivor: Philippines” on September 19 and call that an early start when, relative to the competition, it really isn’t.

Other noteworthy return dates: “How I Met Your Mother” is back on Monday, September 24 at 8pm, with the season premiere of “Hawaii Five-O” riding the wave on the same night at 10pm. “NCIS” makes its 10th season premiere on Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 8pm, the same night at the series premiere of Dennis Quaid‘s new period drama “Vegas” at 10pm.  “The Big Bang Theory” returns on Thursday, September 27th at 8pm, with the series debut of the contemporary Sherlock Holmes series “Elementary” at 10pm.  “The Good Wife” and “The Mentalist,” meanwhile, return on Sunday September 30 at 9pm and 10pm respectively.

Read on for the full schedule, taken from CBS’s press release.

Wednesday, Sept. 19

8:00-9:30 PM        “Survivor: Philippines” (25th edition premiere)

Monday, Sept. 24

8:00-8:30 PM        “How I Met Your Mother” (8th season premiere)

8:30-9:00 PM        “Partners” (Series Debut)

9:00-9:30 PM        “2 Broke Girls” (2nd season premiere)

9:30-10:00 PM      “Mike & Molly” (3rd season premiere)

10:00-11:00 PM    “Hawaii Five-O” (3rd season premiere)

Tuesday, Sept. 25

8:00-9:00 PM       “NCIS” (10th season premiere)

9:00-10:00 PM     “NCIS: Los Angeles” (4th season premiere)

10:00-11:00 PM   “Vegas” (Series Debut)

Wednesday, Sept. 26

9:00-10:00 PM    “Criminal Minds” (8th season premiere)

10:00-11:00 PM  “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” (13th season premiere)

Thursday, Sept. 27

8:00-8:30 PM     “The Big Bang Theory” (6th season premiere)

8:30-9:00 PM     “Two and a Half Men” (10th season premiere)

9:00-10:00 PM   “Person of Interest” (2nd season premiere)

10:00-11:00 PM “Elementary” (Series Debut)

Friday, Sept. 28

8:00-9:00 PM     CSI: NY (9th season premiere)

9:00-10:00 PM   “Made In Jersey” (Series Debut)

10:00-11:00 PM “Blue Bloods” (3rd season premiere)

Saturday, Sept. 29

10:00-11:00 PM “48 Hours Mystery” (26th season premiere)

Sunday, Sept. 30

7:00-8:00 PM    “60 Minutes” (45th season premiere)

8:00-9:00 PM    “The Amazing Race” (21st edition premiere)

9:00-10:00 PM   “The Good Wife” (4th season premiere)

10:00-11:00 PM “The Mentalist” (5th season premiere)

Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry considered to judge 'American Idol'?

Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry are reportedly in consideration to join American Idol's judging panel.

Adam Lambert responded to similar rumours on Monday (July 9) by telling Digital Spy that he would be thrilled to join American Idol, but reports suggest he is not the only star in the running if Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez or Randy Jackson do not return.

A production source has now told E! Online that American Idol bosses are interested in signing younger judges to attract a new audience.

"No one has signed any contracts yet and producers are currently putting out feelers and setting up meetings to see who they can get," the informant said. "We won't know if Randy [Jackson] and Steven [Tyler] are returning until they see who else is on board."

'Starships' singer Nicki Minaj, Fergie and The Voice UK coach are also apparently being considered by producers.

Fox declined to offer any comment on a potential shake-up to American Idol's judging panel.

Lopez has admitted publicly that she is unsure if she will return for a third season on the reality series due to her busy schedule.

"I love this show. I love it, I love it," Lopez previously declared. "We'll have to see how everything falls, but it's not because I don't want to be here."

American Idol returns to Fox in 2013, with open auditions currently underway across the US

'The Newsroom' review: Did you watch Aaron Sorkin's new HBO drama?

There is nothing journalists like more than talking about journalists, so when Aaron Sorkin decided to base his latest TV show in a modern TV newsroom, he was always going to be walking a tricky tightrope. The Newsroom is quite the opposite of an ego-boost for modern broadcasters and there's nothing old hacks hate more than being lectured to about their job and how they do it.

"It's nothing like a real broadcast newsroom," critics have moaned. "Sorkin is solving real news events with the luxury of time and hindsight," cried others. And that's not even getting started on those who have already branded him a socialist/liberal/dreamer on the right hand side of the political spectrum.

To say the response to his new show has been split would probably be putting it lightly. The show has already been handed a second series, but the critics have been having a field day, mocking Sorkin's scripts and characterisation, and attacking his portrayal of women. Is the critical mauling fair? Partly.

The Social Network and West Wing scribe has dabbled in similar behind-the-camera concepts in the past - the lost classic or terrible disaster (depending on who you ask) Studio 60 and the short-lived Sports Night - and it is clearly a set-up he finds easy to slip into.

A buzzing newsroom suits the classic Sorkin quickfire dialogue (we even get a little West Wing-esque corridor walk-and-talk), it allows him to dabble in big sweeping themes about the state of the nation, and it also leaves suitable moments for screamed lectures AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT which jolt the viewer into realising that SOMETHING IMPORTANT IS HAPPENING.

Most of the shouting in episode one comes from Jeff Daniels's pompous, desk-thumping, news anchor Will McAvoy, a man who has lost his faith in broadcast news and his country.

After causing a stir and suggesting that the USA isn't the finest Goddamn country in the universe at a university lecture, Will's boss Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston) attempts to grab hold of the dying embers of passion left in his employee and rejigs his news team.

MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) - an ex-lover of McAvoy and a superstar war journalist - is brought in to replace the whiny, instantly dislikeable Don Keefer (Thomas Sadoski) as exec producer. The love/hate romance, muddled relationship history and shout-offs between McHale and McAvoy looks destined to dominate the storylines.

Elsewhere, we have the cheeky rising star (John Gallagher, Jr's Jim Harper), the talented, attractive but badly treated new starter (Alison Pill as Margaret 'Maggie' Jordan) and a shy geeky kid who works on a blog (Dev Patel as Neal Sampat). The Newsroom won't win any awards for originality.

In fact, it probably won't win any awards full stop. Not if the first episode is anything to go by anyway. This writer's response was more sniggering and amusement than deep emotional stirring or thoughtful contemplation about the fourth estate.

Don't get us wrong, we really enjoyed The Newsroom. What with the shouting, the lecturing, the shouting, the laughable character tropes, yet more shouting, we were never bored. In fact, we're really looking forward to episode two. But Sorkin's desperation to say something serious and make statements are so ham-fisted and hackneyed that it will rub many up the wrong way and leave those that would normally sympathise with him feeling patronised.

With a great cast and a smoothing-down of Sorkin's lenthy shout-offs, there's potential for a decent show to emerge. However, knowing Sorkin and having read reviews of upcoming episodes, we won't be getting our hopes up.

Instead, we're going to settle down and look forward to some soapy will-they-wont-they office romances, a few snort-inducing hip references to blogs and Twitter, and some fantasy journalism that will crack open every case and story with a few quick phone calls. Oh, and some shouting. Lots of shouting.

'TOWIE' Gemma: 'Arg is more into me than I'm into him'

Gemma Collins has claimed that James 'Arg' Argent is more into her than she is into him.

The Only Way Is Essex pair have rekindled their relationship, and Collins recently told Digital Spy that their fling would "burst your screen" when the show returns.

"I obviously saw him talking about [Lydia Bright]," Collins told Heat.

"He's a typical guy, isn't he? But I know he's still dealing with stuff. The Lydia situation and all of that. But he's well more into me than I'm into him.

"Arg just called me 'cause he's got jel because he saw on Twitter that I had met Tamer Hassan. He just called, trying to be all cool, 'Oh, where are ya?'

"He knows exactly where I am! Treat Arg mean to keep him keen. He'll be worried now I'm getting cracked on to."

A supposed source told the magazine: "Gemma was paranoid about Arg's intentions, but he's proved to her that he does find her sexy and fancies her.

"Now she's just scared of him not being over Lydia. That could be a sticking point."

They added: "She desperately wants Arg to move on with her and has been really teary at the idea that it could be over.

"She thinks they've got something real, but at the same time she has come to terms with the fact that Arg and Lydia were together for four years."