The Monday Night Dilemma

September 21, 2009

houseEach new TV season there is one of those nights; A night where the three hours that make up Primetime manage to include the vast majority of your favourite shows. The actual night in question is subjective, and depends on the TV enthusiast’s personal tastes, but Monday and Thursday are popular choices. These are the nights when the TV enthusiast may call to their spouse or parent “I’m not home!” if the phone dares to interrupt one hour of this sacred night, and when they refuse to leave the house because there is more to watch than their DVR is able to record. For this TV enthusiast that night is Monday, particularly this Monday when a pair of dramas return with competing two-hour premieres.

The dramas in question are Fox’s medical mystery House m.d. and NBC’s ailing Heroes. The former is entering its sixth season after a season finale that polarized fans. To recap, Dr. Gregory House, played by the four times a nominee never an Emmy winner Hugh Laurie, believed that he had detoxed from Vicodin and slept with his boss Dr. Lisa Cuddy, only to realize that he had hallucinated the whole experience and needed help. As Wilson took House to a mental hospital, ducklings Cameron and Chase finally got a storyline tied the knot in an outdoor ceremony. Although some criticized the reveal that the “Huddy”, as the fans have dubbed the relationship between House and Cuddy, sex never actually occurred, I thought it was fantastic. The quick detox and the relationship developed too quickly to have been real and I thought the episode was extremely clever. Tonight’s two-hour premiere, titled “Broken”, opens with House in the asylum making friends with his roommate Alvie (Lin Manuel-Miranda), after he is blackmailed into staying at the institution longer than he had originally planned. House m.d. airs 8:00-10:00 PM EST on Fox.

I’m less optimistic about the fourth season premiere of Heroes. In the confusing season finale the heroes saved the President, but were unable to save Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar) from Sylar (Zachary Quinto).  Angela (Cristine Rose), Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg), and Bennet (Jack Coleman), used Parkman’s power on the unconscious body of Sylar, mentally altering the killer’s mind and physically changing his appearance to look like and believe that he is Nathan. It’s one way to kill off a character without eliminating an actor, something the Heroes writers don’t seem to be capable of doing. Tonight’s episodes are titled “Orientation” and ” Jump, Push, Fall” and see Claire (Hayden Panettiere) adjusting to college life while Angela fears that Sylar will discover his true identity. Heroes airs 8:00-10:00 PM EST on NBC.

Barney and Robin on How I Met Your Mother.

Barney and Robin on How I Met Your Mother.

But dramas aren’t the only option tonight. CBS is calling its new line-up, which features three returning comedies and a new one, “Monday to the Max”. It all starts at 8:00 with How I Met Your Mother. In the season finale Ted (Josh Radnor) accepted a teaching job at a University and viewers were one step closer to finding out who the mother is as Saget!Ted revealed that the mother was in the classroom, and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin (Cobie Smulders) confessed to having feelings for one another. Tonight’s episode “Definitions”  features Robin and Barney avoiding “the talk” about their relationship while Ted begins his new job and releases his “inner douche”.

Accidentally on Purpose, starring Jenna Elfman as Billie, premieres at 8:30. The premise revolves around a film critic who sleeps with a young slacker named Zack and ends up pregnant. She begins living platonically with Zack but must also deal with her boss, who she recently broke up with. At 9:00 it’s the return of the popular Charlie Sheen vehicle Two and  Half Men then at 9:30 the night ends with the premiere of The Big Bang Theory, titled The Electric Can Opener Fluctuation“, in which our four favourite geeks return from the North Pole and Sheldon (Jim Parsons)  flies back to Texas, threatening Leonard’s (Johnny Galecki) hopes for a romantic encounter with Penny (Kaley Cuoco).

For the reality inclined there’s the beginning of an advertised “three night premiere” of ABC’s Dancing With The Stars, featuring an all new group of sixteen celebrities including Donny Osmond, Mya, Kelly Osbourne, and Macy Gray, at 8:00 PM. While the CW has the newest episodes of dramas One Tree Hill and Gossip Girl at 8:00 and 9:00 PM, respectively.

The charming Nathan Fillion stars in Castle.

The charming Nathan Fillion stars in Castle.

The 10:00 PM slot is less competitive. You have the choice of a charming, good looking, author who has witty banter with his daughter, mother, and police detective partner, or a detective I’ve dubbed “creepy” who seems to be very attached to his sunglasses. Personally I’m choosing Nathan Fillion in ABC drama Castle, the first season of which arrives on DVD tomorrow. In tonight’s season premiere “Deep in Death”, Castle attempts to fix his relationship with Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) after he looked into her mother’s death against her wishes in the season finale. If you’re really into CSI or sunglasses though, the Miami spin-off premieres tonight on CBS with an episode that reveals how the team was put together and, yes, how David Caruso’s Horatio got one of the most iconic pair of shades on television.

I’m obviously putting in a vote for Castle, but what will I be watching in the packed 8:00-10:00 PM hours? Well there are many wonderful reasons to be Canadian, among them universal healthcare and our reputation as peacekeepers, but a more shallow reason is Canadian broadcasting channels. With Canadian channels picking up nearly every American series, including those that compete against one another in the U.S., and also broadcasting Canadian content, not everything can be simulcast. As a result Global, which owns both Heroes and House, will be airing House from 8:00-10:00 PM and Heroes from 10:00-12:00 PM, leaving my DVR free for How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory. Whichever solution you choose to the Monday Night Dilemma, I wish you an interruption free night of great television.


TV on DVD (September 15th)

September 16, 2009

big bang theoryWith the vast majority of returning shows airing their season premieres next week, yesterday’s new TV on DVD releases offer a last chance to catch up on your favourite television shows.  My pick of the week is a comedy, but other offerings include a recently remade 80’s favourite, some gossiping surgeons, supernatural creatures, and even everyone’s favourite Canadian mutant, Wolverine.  Here’s a look at what’s out on DVD this week.

My Pick: The Big Bang Theory Season Two

The original premise of The Big Bang Theory, a brainy meets blonde odd couple scenario, didn’t sound all that thrilling and, for this TV enthusiast, the fact that it was created by Chuck Lorre, the man behind Two and a Half Men, did not bode well.  So when I caught an episode of the show during its second season, mostly because it aired directly after How I Met Your Mother, I wasn’t expecting much.  Imagine my surprise when the show turned out to be not just humourous but often laugh out loud funny!

The Big Bang Theory is certainly one of, if not the, funniest shows on television.  Although it was shut out of a Best Comedy Series Emmy nomination in a newly expanded category containing seven nominees, Jim Parsons has been nominated as Lead Actor in a Comedy at the awards, which air this Sunday.  The sitcom revolves around four brilliant but geeky scientists and their relationship with waitress/aspiring actress Penny, who lives across the hall.  While it is undoubtedly funnier if, like this TV enthusiast, you enjoy the “geeky” things in life and are able to pick up on the many references to Star Trek, comic books, and video games, even the scientific elements, which are unfamiliar to an English and History major like me, are humourous.  Each episode is titled in the form of a scientific theory, such as “The Fuzzy Boots Corollary” or “The Bath Gift Item Hypothesis”.

The second season builds on the relationships and sense of humour established during its writers’ strike shortened first season, and the show really hits its stride.  Jim Parsons plays the socially inept Dr. Sheldon Cooper, whose obsessive neatness, need for routine, and inability to get sarcasm and irony impair his interactions with his friends, while Johnny Galecki plays his roommate Leonard, the straight man role.  Kaley Cuoco (Penny), Simon Helberg (Howard), and Kunal Nayyar (Raj) also star.

So many brilliant shows are cancelled before they have the chance to fulfill their potential.  Luckily The Big Bang Theory isn’t one of them.  It has built an audience and the decision to try out the show in the 9:30 PM timeslot, after ratings hit Two and a Half Men, proved so much of a success that it will now regularly air at that time.  Last Spring CBS showed their faith in the show by giving it a surprise two season pick up, much to this TV enthusiast’s delight, so you can watch without fear of cancellation.

The third season premieres this Monday, September 21st.

Also on DVD This Week:

Kevin McKidd and Sandra Oh in Grey's Anatomy.

Kevin McKidd and Sandra Oh in Grey's Anatomy.

If you’re in the mood for something more dramatic, pick up the fifth season of Grey’s Anatomy on DVD.  Grey’s has never been must see TV for me, and this year the show had its issues.  New Lesbian character Brooke Hahn was abruptly written out of the show, and Sadie (Melissa George), Meredith’s college friend, was poorly received and departed Seattle Grace.  However, more successful changes included the addition of the brilliant Kevin McKidd (Owen Hunt), as an army doctor and love interest for Sandra Oh’s Cristina, and pediatric surgeon Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw), who will be a regular this season on the show.  Less successful was the plotline involving Izzy (Katherine Heigl) who has “ghost sex” with Denny (guest star Jeffrey Dean Morgan) before the long overdue revelation that he is a hallucination and a symptom of something larger.  The fifth season also includes the all important 100th episode of the show, which featured a wedding.

Grey’s Anatomy spin-off Private Practice, following Addison’s move to the Oceanside Wellness clinic in Los Angeles,  releases its second season on DVD today as well.

With a new movie remake due to hit theatres this Friday, what better time to release the first and second seasons of 80’s television show Fame on DVD?  The show followed the lives of the students and faculty at the New York High School for the Performing Arts and it was nominated for, and won, a number of Emmy Awards.

sunnyI don’t think I’ll ever understand people who watch and take CSI: Miami seriously, the first five minutes of David Caruso removing and putting back on his sunglasses is all I can watch without laughing, but for those who do enjoy the series, its seventh season arrives on DVD this week.  More traditionally comedic is the fourth season of It’s always sunny in Philadelphia.The show revolves around four self-centered friends who own an Irish bar and episodes deal with controversial subject matter, including racism and abortions. FX has ordered 39 additional episodes of the series, carrying it through a seventh season.  Less fortunate was NBC comedy My Name Is Earl, which was cancelled last May.  The sitcom starred Jason Lee as Earl Hickey, a petty crook who comes to believe in the concept of karma after he wins the lottery and is promptly hit by a car, losing his ticket.  He proceeds to create a list of the bad things he has done and to do a corresponding good deed for each item.  The fourth and final season of the show is out on DVD this week.

The second season of Canadian comedy Little Mosque on the Prairie is also out on DVD this week.  The Saskatchewan-set series begins its fourth season September 28th, with the third arriving on DVD in January 2010.  Although the series isn’t Canadian, its protagonist certainly is – Wolverine is one of the best loved Marvel characters and he arrives on DVD this week in the first season of animated show Wolverine and the X-men. This isn’t the only animated show to feature Marvel characters; In the early 90’s Fox aired X-men, which received critical and audience praise.  More recently X-men: Evolution, featuring largely teenaged versions of the characters, aired on WB kids for four seasons.   Wolverine and the X-men hopes to achieve similar success.

Amanda Tapping in Sanctuary.

Amanda Tapping in Sanctuary.

There are two science-fiction offering this week.  One is the first season Canadian series Sanctuary, a Syfy original series starring Amanda Tapping (Stargate SG-1) as Dr. Helen Magnus, a 157-year-old English scientist who seeks out non-human intelligent creatures (known as abnormals) and provides safe haven for them.  The series was well received, with its premiere drawing in 3 million viewers to become the highest rated original series premiere since Eureka in 2006, and will air a second season beginning in October.

Finally, the 2008 Doctor Who Christmas special “The Next Doctor” makes its North American DVD debut this week.  David Tennant makes one of his last appearances as the Tenth Doctor, while Dervla Kirwin plays the villainous Miss Hartigan, and David Morrissey appears as a strange man with a TARDIS and a companion named Rosita. Could he be the next doctor?

Summer Casting

August 15, 2009
Evan Rachel Wood as Queen Sophie-Ann in True Blood.

Evan Rachel Wood as Queen Sophie-Ann in True Blood.

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, then you already know that I’m one of many fans eagerly awaiting HBO’s Game of Thrones. Although it hasn’t yet been given a full season order or, for that matter, filmed the pilot episode, I’ve been following the development of this series from the beginning, and each new casting announcement renews my excitement. However, HBO doesn’t share this enthusiasm for casting announcements, mostly because they are being leaked by an inside source and not officially announced by the network. They are currently hunting for the leak(s) and have threatened to fire and muddy this person’s reputation in the industry. As a result, the leaks seem to have stopped, despite the casting of at least six more roles for the pilot.

What hasn’t dried up is George R.R. Martin’s desire to tease. He can’t announce the casting directly until HBO gives their go ahead, but what he can do is provide clues for fans. Cue the riddles and, in turn, the wacky casting theories. We do know that Jaime and Theon have been cast, and that three of the other roles are female, two of them children (most likely Arya and Sansa), but this is where the riddles come in:

Martin: One player has something in common with Ned. One has something in common with Harry Potter. One is not a boney pop singer. Shows can get cancelled and so can characters, but two of them have been seen on American tv recently.

In a second post Martin clarified that the two child roles have been filled by unknown actresses who are not on IMDB, but added:

That still leaves four adults you can try to figure out, though. And among the hundreds of theories and guesses, I’ve seen a couple of you getting it right… or coming close, riding the right theory to the wrong conclusion. So keep at it.

In the absence of an announcement, I’ll give you a few more clues. One cast member was played by a puppet. Another has been seen wandering a castle exclaiming about roses. A third is too good to be true. The fourth is the fifth. Esquire thinks one of them is hot.

Other possible clues come from the title of his posts “Dutch Treats and Casting Calls”, prompting some fans to wonder if one of the actors or actresses is Dutch, and his music selections “Too Good to be True” and “Alright, Still”.  Naturally the riddles without resolution, and the fact that we have no idea of when HBO will announce its casting decisions, is enough to drive a TV enthusiast/huge ASOIAF fan mad.  So taking a break from reading through the various fan theories, here is a collection of this summer’s other casting choices.  Don’t worry – there are no riddles to be found here, but there may be minor spoilers so if you really don’t want to know anything and even stay away from the TV guide descriptions of new episodes, turn back now.

Robert Knepper

Robert Knepper

Earlier this summer, Heroes announced a number of new additions for its fourth season.  Heroes is once again beginning the season with our heroes trying to live normal lives.  Somehow I doubt that will work out for them.  The season will introduce a group of carnies with abilities who have chosen to hide in plain sight by encorporating their talents into a carnival show, and if you’re getting images of HBO’s fantastical Carnivale right now, then you are not alone.

Among the new carnival folk are Ray Park, best known for playing Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode One, who will play knife-wielding Edgar, Dawn Olivieri, who has been cast as tattooed empath Lydia, and Robert Knepper, who played the always creepy T-bag on Prison Break, as Samuel, the show’s ringleader.

Outside the carnival, Deanne Bray (Sue Thomas F B Eye) has been cast as Peter’s deaf co-worker Emma and Ernie Hudson (Oz) has a recurring role as a Baltimore cop.  Tessa Thompson, who played Jackie on Veronica Mars,  has been cast as Becky, a fellow student who will clash with Claire, and Madeline Zima (Californication) will play Claire’s college roommate Gretchen who she – wait for it – ends up kissing!  I have a really bad feeling about this one.

Meanwhile, another Star Wars villain will be guest staring in House m.d. this season.  Darth Vader himself James Earl Jones is set to appear in the fourth episode as an African dictator who becomes a patient at Princeton Plainsboro.  House’s roommate in the institution will be played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote and starred in the Tony award winning musical In the Heights.  I’ve linked his rapped acceptance speech for best original score at the Tony Awards below.

Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse returns for its unexpected second season with guest star Jamie Bamber, who was in Battlestar Galactica with series star Tahmoh Penikett.  Fellow Battlestar alum Katee Sackhoff will join the cast of 24 this year as Dana Walsh, a CTU analyst. Her character will be in a relationship with new cast member Freddy Prinze Jr., also known as Mr. Sarah Michelle Gellar, and in keeping with 24’s tendency to cast Canadian actors, Callum Keith Rennie will play a Russian mobster.

Canadian actress Sarah Carter

Canadian actress Sarah Carter

Another Canadian is the newest series regular on CSI: New York. Actress Sarah Carter (Shark), who grew up in Winnipeg, will play a tech who aspires to work in the crime lab and who is hiding a secret.  Speaking of keeping secrets, there’s John Lithgow, cast as a serial killer who kills in threes in the fourth season of Dexter.

The Mentalist will make progress on the Red John case by bringing in Oz’s Terry Kinney as a CBI agent who heads up the division overseeing the Red John murders.  He also happens to be Lisbon’s ex, and the one person immune to the considerable charms of Patrick Jane.

With stars Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay signing new contracts to remain on Law and Order:SVU, the series has been continuing its usual parade of name guest stars.  In the season premiere, Prison Break star Wentworth Miller will appear as a cop who helps a rape victim, while Eric McCormack, whose show Trust Me was recently axed, has been cast as a sugar daddy in the second episode.  McCormack has also handed a recurring gig on The New Adventures of Old Christine as a potential love interest for Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ character.  Back on SVU, Christine Lahti will play the new ADA in the first four episodes before Stephanie March reprises her role as Alexandra Cabot.

Tyra Banks will appear on Gossip Girl.

Tyra Banks will appear on Gossip Girl.

Gossip Girl has also cast some high profile names, with Hilary Duff added in a recurring role this season.  Duff will play Olivia, a movie star who enrols at NYU in order to have the traditional college experience.  Tyra Banks will also guest star, playing an actress who co-stars with Duff’s character in a film.  Finally, Privileged star Joanna Garcia will play Nate’s new girlfriend Bree, who is from a conservative Southern family. Ugly Betty is re-casting the role of Wilhelmina’s willful daughter, which was previously played by Jowharch Jones. America’s Next Top Model runner-up Yaya Dacosta will be stepping into the part.

Smallville has cast British actor Callum Blue (Dead Like Me) as the villainous General Zod in its ninth season, while Mark Pellegrino, who played Rita’s abusive ex-husband Paul on Dexter and was more recently seen as the mysterious Jacob in Lost, is set to play Lucifer himself in CW series Supernatural.  He will appear in the fifth season premiere on September 10th.

Chris Vance will guest star on Burn Notice.

Chris Vance will guest star on Burn Notice.

I admit that I’ve never watched USA spy series Burn Notice, even though it looks like a lot of fun.  The news that Chris Vance (Mental) will guest-star in four episodes as a former MI-6 agent overseeing black ops is enough to make me give it a try though.   I also don’t watch The Daily Show, but I hear that Lewis Black is a great choice for a guest starring role on the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory. Black will play a Professor of entomology (which any good CSI: Las Vegas fan knows means the study of bugs), whose life is in ruins.

In the fourth and final season of The Tudors, Henry VIII marries his sixth wife.  Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck) has been cast in the role of Catherine Parr, who outlived the English King.

Most of these guest stars won’t appear until September or October, but Evan Rachel Wood will make her debut on True Blood at the end of August.  She will be playing Queen Sophie-Ann, the Vampire Queen of Louisiana, and will recur next year, since True Blood was officially renewed for a third season.

There’s some exciting casting news for fellow TV enthusiasts but I’m still waiting for HBO’s official announcement on Game of Thrones. Hopefully I won’t have to wait too long.

Television Critics Association Tour and Awards

August 3, 2009

battlestarWhile the rest of us are dreaming about summer vacations or watching our favourite summer reality shows wind down, journalists who cover television programming are attending the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour.  The Television Critics Association (or TCA) is a group of approximately 200 American and Canadian journalists who write about television in print and online outlets.  Each January and July they participate in a biannual Press Tour in Los Angeles, which takes place over two or three weeks and allows the major television networks and cable networks to present their upcoming programming to press writers through panels and interviews.

Each year, as part of the Summer Press Tour, the Television Critics Association Awards are presented.  Last Saturday the awards celebrated 25 years of honouring excellence in television in a ceremony at the Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa, which was introduced by Chelsea Handler, host of E!’s “Chelsea Lately.”  Although the awards do not indicate who will take home the trophies in September at the Emmy Awards, they do recognize shows sometimes snubbed by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, providing vindication for the creative team and cast.

This year SyFy’s Battlestar Galactica, which ended in March, was named Program of the Year, despite being snubbed by the Emmys.  The award should placate executive producer Ron Moore, who used the Battlestar Comic-Con panel to express his disapproval. The TCA continued to disagree with this year’s Emmy nominations, presenting the award for Outstanding Achievement in Comedy to deserving CBS series The Big Bang Theory, which was not among the seven(!) nominated comedies for this years Emmy Awards.  Similarly, snubbed HBO drama True Blood was named Outstanding New Program.

Yet there were some similarities, with Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons, a first time Emmy nominee this year, taking home a trophy for Individual Achievement in Comedy, and AMC’s Mad Men named Outstanding Achievement in Drama.  This TV enthusiast hopes that this is the only the first of many trophies to come for Parsons.

Also awarded were Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) for Individual Achievement in Drama, HBO mini-series Grey Gardens for Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Mini-series & Specials, and departing NBC drama ER, which received the Heritage Award recognizing “a long-standing program that has had a lasting cultural or social impact”.

For any interested parties, there’s a great article on the significance of the TCA Awards here.

With the awards handed out, it’s onto the broadcast portion of the Summer Press Tour.  This TV enthusiast will be getting her news by way of twitter, and following the blogs of members of the TCA, unfortunately, but I’ll post any interesting tidbits I come across here.

According to EW’s Ausiello, the schedule for the major network panels looks like this:

Today: CBS
Tuesday: The CW
Wednesday: NBC
Thursday: Fox
Friday: FX
Saturday: ABC

Anyone interested in getting the latest scoop right from the critic’s pen should bookmark The Live Feed, keep an eye on The Ausiello Files, and prepare to be flooded if you subscribe to TV Squad’s twitter stream.

Quotes from Comic-Con

July 27, 2009
Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco in The Big Bang Theory

Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco in The Big Bang Theory

As I’ve said before, San Diego Comic-Con is on my list of things to do before I die. Hopefully in a few years I’ll get the chance to experience all the madness and the joys of being there firsthand, but until then, this TV enthusiast is making do by reading everyone else’s tweets and blogs, and by enjoying the youtube videos of panels that inevitably emerge. For anyone else who didn’t get a chance to attend the event, or for those who don’t spend quite so much time gathering information and quotations from various television resources, here’s a look at some of the great quotes of Comic-Con this year.

One of the best comedies on television has to be The Big Bang Theory, so it comes as little surprise that their cast offered a number of memorable quotes.  Although this year the show will be moving towards Leonard and Penny in a relationship, a portion of the Internet community prefers the idea of Sheldon and Penny as a couple.  Personally I agree with the writers’ stance that Sheldon’s mistress is science and I can’t picture him in a romantic relationship, but one fan who felt differently asked if he would ever get a girlfriend.  Jim Parsons (Sheldon) replied, “Do you want me to sit here and prognosticate? Because you’ve got the writers.”  After co-stars Kaley Cuoco (Penny) and Johnny Galecki (Leonard) commented on his great word choice, Jim said, “Thank you.  I said I’m not dumb, I just don’t get the science.”

The idea of Sheldon and Penny as a couple did get an enthusiastic response from some of the attendees at Comic-Con, leading to this exchange:

Writers: Ten minutes and she’d shoot him.  She’s from Nebraska, they have guns.
Jim Parsons: I don’t know that Sheldon’s man enough for Penny.
Kaley Cuoco: She would eat you alive.
Jim Parsons: Uh huh.

Yet the most memorable moment came when one fan asked Jim Parsons, referring to the show’s Christmas episode “The Bath Gift Item Hypothesis”,  if he would use a napkin so that he could “grow his own Jim” for his little sister.  Kaley wiped Jim’s brow before handing the napkin back to the fan.

Although I don’t watch the show, I’ve heard a great deal of praise for Battlestar Galactica, which was recently snubbed at the Emmy nomination ceremony.  Executive producer Ron Moore had this to say on the subject, using the BG substitute expletive ‘frak’ while shouting to enthusiastic applause:

“It was a fraking crime that the entire cast of ‘Battlestar’ was never recognized for the performances they gave week in and week out.”

Tru Blood the drink will be available soon.

Tru Blood the drink will be available soon.

At the True Blood panel, series creator Alan Ball announced that the popular synthetic blood drink from the show would now be a reality.  The beverage will be available on HBO’s website as of September 10th, just in time for the second season finale.  But just what will the drink consist of?

Ball: We put together a nice little mixture of a kind of delightful Chateau, cabernet, with some actual blood of hemophiliac European royalty, a little vodka, a little vicodin, a little viagra, and ecstasy. Unfortunately it’s completely illegal.”

The label is an exact replica of those used on the show and the drink will actually be a blood orange soda.  The panel also announced that Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels that the show is based on, has signed a deal to write three more books.

Other big announcements at Comic-Con included the fact that Supernatural might get a sixth season.  Creator Eric Kripke has had what so many writers inexplicably don’t – a plan.  His five year plan for the show would have made this year the last hurrah for the Winchester brothers, but Kripke says that he is open to doing another year of the show and that stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki are signed for a possible sixth season.

Finally, Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse panel offered some insight on which Whedonverse stars would be appearing in the Dollhouse this season.  ‘If the stars aligned’ Summer Glau, of the recently cancelled Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, would guest star.  Felicia Day, who appeared in the unaired episode thirteen, titled “Epitaph One”, will also be appearing in the first episode of season two, while Alexis Denisof, known to Angel fans as Wesley, will put in an appearance this season as well.

Dollhouse creator Joss Whedon and star Eliza Dushku.

Dollhouse creator Joss Whedon and star Eliza Dushku.

Between offering hints of what’s to come, Whedon found time to quip, getting in some great quotes as follows:

When asked how he knew that Alan Tudyk was the right one to play Alpha:
“I met him.”

On what’s next for Dollhouse:
“We talked about a lot of ideas for going forward after we accidentally forgot to get cancelled.”

On his obsession with big corporations:
“Have you been in America?”

And finally, getting in a dig at Heroes:
“As long as we don’t send anyone back to feudal Japan we’re pretty much okay.”

With Lost entering its sixth and final season, the actors speculated on how they would like to see things turn out for the island’s characters.  Nestor Carbonell (Richard), Michael Emerson (Ben), and Jorge Garcia (Hurley) commented on the Sawyer/Kate/Jack love triangle in an interview with Michael Ausiello:

Michael: I think that Kate should find another man altogether.  I really do, there’s just so much baggage now.  It’s not a healthy triangle I don’t think.  It would be better if someone had the nerve to bust out.  It’s a large role, there are a lot of nice people out there.”
Jorge: Have Kate go ruin someone else’s life.
Nestor: I’d be happy if Kate ruined Richard’s life.

Josh Holloway, who plays Sawyer, had his own theory about season six:
“Me and Hurley will hook up and live happily ever after.”

Only executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse hold the answers and they presented a locked box at the beginning of the panel which they said contained the last page of the final episode’s script. They claimed that they would open the page on Jimmy Kimmel after the series finale aired. However, near the end of the panel Josh Holloway took to the stage with a taser and forced Cuse to open the box so the final scene would be revealed to Comic-Con.

Paul Wesley from the new CW series The Vampire Diaries commented on being compared to heartthrob Robert Pattinson of Twilight, “It makes me so uncomfortable.  9  of 10 girls in this room would throw me under a bus to get to Edward Cullen.”

While Freddy Prinze Jr., who is joining the cast of 24 this year, recieved a response for mentioning watching television with his wife, Sarah Michelle Gellar who starred in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  As the audience screamed, he snorted, “I forgot she’s big here.”

John Barrowman and David Tennant in Doctor Who

John Barrowman and David Tennant in Doctor Who

Some of the most eagerly anticipated panels were those for Torchwood and Doctor Who.  Introducing the Easter special Planet of the Dead to American audiences, star David Tennant said “Tonight you’re going to see the American premiere – the legal American premiere of Planet of the Dead.”

He also joked about American pronunciations telling the audience “I love America, you say premieres and awesome.  I’m taking awesome back to London with me.”

But the highlight for some was John Barrowman, there to introduce the screening of Torchwood: Children of Earth, reacting to David Tennant kissing him.  After Tennant planted one on him, he pretended to faint and let out a fangirl scream.  Recovering, he said “I’ve slightly gone all flustered, I really have.  I’ve been waiting for that for years, thanks David.”

At the Fringe panel, actor Joshua Jackson (who plays Peter in the series), talked about the revelation that his character was from an alternate universe, saying, “As an actor, you never want to read the line ‘And he looks at Peter’s grave’.”

Alexander Skarsgård of True Blood

Alexander Skarsgård of True Blood

True Blood‘s thousand year-old vampire Eric Northman, played by Alexander Skarsgård, received cheers at the HBO panel, and in an interview afterwards Skarsgård and co-star Deborah Ann Woll, who plays fledgling vampire Jessica, talked about what they would like to see for their characters.  Deborah hoped her character would get a little loving in the future, prompting the interviewer to ask if she was saying that she wanted Skarsgård to play her love interest.  Deborah replied, “Who wouldn’t?”

Fan favourite Johnny Depp even made a Comic-Con cameo, appearing to support Tim Burton at the Disney 3D panel, where he was previewing his live action ‘Alice in Wonderland’ adaptation.  Depp reportedly walked onstage to cheers, said “Hey. Happy to be here.” into the mic, and departed.  Burton quipped, “He was in the neighbourhood visiting Sea World.”

Dexter stars Michael C. Hall, Julie Benz, and Jennifer Carpenter were joined by guest star John Lithgow, who will play a murderer known as the “Trinity Killer” on the show, on the Showtime panel.  Referring to his popular 3rd Rock from the Sun character, Lithgow said, “On ‘Dexter’ I play a serial killer and his first victim is High Commander Dick Soloman.”

But it was Comic-Con favourite Robert Downey Jr., there to promote Iron Man 2 who arguably had the best quote of the event as he said had this to say about co-star Mickey Rourke, “And I thought I was eccentric.”

And the Nominees are:

July 16, 2009

It’s ten to nine this Thursday morning, which means that the nominations for this year’s Primetime Emmys have just been announced live.  Fortunately, I’m on the east coast so I didn’t have to worry about dragging myself out of bed at five-thirty a.m like presenters Chandra Wilson (Grey’s Anatomy) and Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory). The list of nominations offered many of the same programs that have been recognized before but there were a few surprises as well.  Overall I’m extremely happy with the nominations and hope that the ceremony will prove as interesting. Here are my thoughts on the nomination ceremony and a complete list of the nominees:

Drama Series

Big Love
Breaking Bad
House m.d.
Mad Men

The only surprise in this category is perhaps the inclusion of Big Love.  House m.d. and Lost are the only network dramas in the bunch.

Actress, Drama Series

Sally Field, Brothers and Sisters
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
Glenn Close, Damages
Mariska Hargitay, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit
Elizabeth Moss, Mad Men
Holly Hunter, Saving Grace

Another predictable category where the only surprise might be Elizabeth Moss over her Mad Men co-star January Jones.

Actors, Drama Series

Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Hugh Laurie, House
Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Simon Baker, The Mentalist

The big surprise here is, of course, a nomination for Simon Baker. Some have also noticed the absence of Kiefer Sutherland, who has been nominated every year that he has been eligible for his work in 24.

Supporting Actress, Drama Series

Rose Byrne, Damages
Sandra Oh, Grey’s Anatomy
Chandra Wilson, Grey’s Anatomy
Dianne Wiest, In Treatment
Hope Davis, In Treatment
Cherry Jones, 24

I’m certainly pleased to see both Chandra Wilson and Sandra Oh here for Grey’s instead of the expected Katherine Heigl. It was especially nice to see a spokesperson for CBS tell Wilson that she had received a nomination in this category as well as the one announced live for her work in a miniseries. I don’t think anyone had even considered Cherry Jones in 24 so this nomination is certainly a surprise. I’m just sorry there isn’t a nomination for the fabulous Elizabeth Mitchell’s work as Juliet in Lost.

Supporting Actor, Drama Series

William Shatner, Boston Legal
Christian Clemenson, Boston Legal
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
William Hurt, Damages
Michael Emerson, Lost
John Slattery, Mad Men

Although reporters did think that the departing Boston Legal would probably snag a few nominations, I think they expected Best Drama Series or Actor for James Spader. I’m a little disappointed to see Shatner here, but I have to admit that I’m glad Christian Clemenson gets a nomination. He was nominated for Guest Actor in 2007 but has never been recognized in the Supporting category. I’m also glad to see two-time nominee Michael Emerson here again.

Guest Actress in a Drama Series

Sharon Lawrence, Grey’s Anatomy
Ellen Burstyn, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Brenda Blethyn, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Carol Burnett, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
CCH Pounder, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Guest Actor in a Drama Series

Edward Asner, CSI: NY
Ted Danson, Damages
Jimmy Smits, Dexter
Ernest Borgnine, ER
Michael J. Fox, Rescue Me

Comedy Series

Family Guy
Flight of the Conchords
How I Met Your Mother
The Office
30 Rock

This is the big news category with four of the seven nominees new to the category. Family Guy‘s nomination makes it the first animated series to be nominated since The Flinestones in 1961! Weeds, Flight of the Conchords, and How I Met Your Mother are also first-time nominees. I’m just happy How I Met Your Mother received some much deserved attention. Unfortunately there just wasn’t room forThe Big Bang Theory among those newcomers. Still, no nomination for Two and a Half Men and that’s something.

Actress, Comedy Series

Julia Louis Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine
Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?
Sarah Silverman, The Sarah Silverman Program
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Toni Collette, United States of Tara
Mary Louise Parker, Weeds

Actor, Comedy Series

Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men
Jemaine Clement, Flight of the Conchords
Tony Shalhoub, Monk
Steve Carell, The Office
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

While returning nominees Charlie Sheen and Tony Shalhoub surprise no one, a nomination for Flight of the Conchords star Jemaine Clement is less predictable. The best news of this category is a well-deserved nomination for Jim Parsons though. As Chandra read the nominations for this category aloud, Parsons was visibly surprised, saying “that wasn’t there”, presumably because another name had been substituted in order to surprise him when the presenters received the list ahead of time.

Supporting Actress, Comedy Series

Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies
Amy Poehler, Saturday Night Live
Kristin Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Vanessa Williams, Ugly Betty
Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds

I’m extremely happy to see Kristin Chenoweth included in this category, especially since the cancellation of Pushing Daisies means that she won’t be eligible next year for playing Olive Snook.

Supporting Actor, Comedy Series

Kevin Dillon, Entourage
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
Rainn Wilson, The Office
Tracy Morgan, 30 Rock
Jack McBrayer, 30 Rock
Jon Cryer, Two And A Half Men

With How I Met Your Mother breaking into the comedy category this year and a deserved nomination for Neil Patrick Harris could it be his year?  A snub for Entourage actor Jeremy Piven, who Harris even thanked for not being nominated during his acceptance speech for ‘A-List Actor’ in Bravo’s A-List Awards, clears the way.

Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

Christine Baranski, The Big Bang Theory
Gena Rowlands, Monk
Betty White, My Name Is Earl
Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live
Jennifer Aniston, 30 Rock
Elaine Stritch, 30 Rock

Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

Beau Bridges, Desperate Housewives
Justin Timberlake, Saturday Night Live
Steve Martin, 30 Rock
Jon Hamm, 30 Rock
Alan Alda, 30 Rock

Variety, Music, or Comedy Special

The Colbert Report
The Daily Show
The Late Show with David Letterman
Real Time with Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live

Best Reality Competition

The Amazing Race
American Idol
Dancing With the Stars
Project Runway
Top Chef

Best Reality Show Host

Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol
Tom Bergeron, Dancing With The Stars
Heidi Klum, Project Runway
Jeff Probst, Survivor
Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio, Top Chef

After last’s disastrous Emmys, hosted by the five nominees from this category, it’s perhaps surprising that four of the five are nominated again. The only snub is Howie Mandel, who has been replaced by the far more deserving ‘Amazing Phil’ Keoghan, and Padma and Tom of Top Chef. I’m sorry to see that sweetheart Cat Deeley isn’t here but maybe next year, with So You Think You Can Dance currently having its strongest season to date, both the show and the host will be recognized.

Best Miniseries

Generation Kill
Little Dorritt

Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie

Chandra Wilson, Accidental Friendship
Shirley MacLaine, Coco Chanel
Drew Barrymore, Grey Gardens
Jessica Lange, Grey Gardens
Sigourney Weaver, Prayers For Bobby

Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie

Kevin Kline, Cyrano de Bergerac
Brendan Gleeson, Into The Storm
Sir Ian McKellen, King Lear
Kevin Bacon, Taking Chance
Kiefer Sutherland, 24: Redemption
Kenneth Branagh, Wallander: One Step Behind

I’m not going to go through all the behind the scenes categories but here are a few more nominations that interested me and that I hope might interest fellow TV enthusiasts:

Outstanding Choreography

81st Annual Academy Awards – “Musicals Are Back” – by Rob Ashford
Dancing With the Stars – “Jive/Great Balls of Fire” – by Derek and Julianne Hough
So You Think You Can Dance – “Bleeding Love” – by Tabitha and Napoleon D’Umo
So You Think You Can Dance – “Mercy” by Mia Michaels
So You Think You Can Dance – “Adam and Eve” by Tyce Diorio
So You Think You Can Dance – “A Los Amigos” by Dmitry Chaplin

Outstanding Special Class – Short-format Live-Action Entertainment Programs

Battlestar Galactica: The Face Of The Enemy
The Daily Show: The Daily Show Correspondents On Jon Stewart
Bruce Springsteen Super Bowl Halftime Show
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
30 Rock’s Kenneth the Web Page

I just had to include that one because I’m so excited that Dr. Horrible is up for an Emmy!

For a complete list of all the nominations click here

The 61st Annual Emmy Awards airs September 20th on CBS.

San Diego Comic-Con for the TV enthusiast (Sunday)

July 16, 2009

As I write the last of four articles on the panels related to television at this year’s Comic-Con, I can’t help but consider just how long it has taken me.  Scrolling through the list of Comic-Con programming nearly a week ago, I decided that, given the increased number of shows represented in San Diego this year, I would dedicate a few articles to summing up the events targeted to people more interested in television than comic books.  Yet summing up the event has resulted in three posts, this will be the fourth, all of which are over 1000 words.  This is a testament to the sheer size of San Diego Comic-Con 2009, and to the amount of television programming featured this year.

Writing these articles has certainly made me consider what I would like to see if I attended Comic-Con.  Even though I haven’t seen the third season yet (it will be released on DVD in mid-August) I would like to attend the Dexter panel.  Additionally, I wouldn’t want to miss the Big Bang Theory panel.  I’m hoping it will get some of the recognition it deserves during tomorrow’s Emmy nominations, although I wouldn’t put money on it.  I would even join the crowds to see TV Guide’s Sci-Fi Hot List and the Entertainment Weekly panel “Female Power Icons in Pop Culture”.  But the panel I would most like to see is Sunday’s panel on Doctor Who.


The big draw here is the combination of writer/executive producer Russell T. Davies and departing Doctor David Tennant.  Davies, the man behind such projects as Queer as Folk and The Second Coming, as well as new Who spin-offs The Sarah Jane Chronicles and Torchwood, has announced that he will be leaving when David Tennant regenerates, in the last of five specials set to air before season five.  Davies will be replaced by Steven Moffat, the writer responsible for some of the new series’ best episodes, which include Blink and The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances.

As for David Tennant, his boyhood fantasy fulfilling tenure as the Doctor will come to an end in 2010, when he will regenerate into his eleventh incarnation, played by relative newcomer Matt Smith.  Although Christopher Eccleston was the first Doctor for a new generation of fans, David Tennant has earned a place in the hearts of most as “their” doctor.  In 2006 Tennant even beat out favourite Tom Baker to be voted “Best Doctor” by readers of Doctor Who Magazine.

The Comic-Con panel, featuring Davies and Tennant, will also include director Euros Lyn and executive producer Julie Gardner.  BBC America reports that “David will travel to Comic-Con, fresh from the Doctor Who set, having shot his final scenes as the tenth Time Lord.  He and fellow panelists will discuss the latest incarnation of television’s longest running science fiction series and take questions from the floor.  There will also be exclusive sneak peeks from the upcoming specials”. (10:00-11:00, Ballroom 20).

If you’re not a big fan of Doctor Who, there are other panel choices, including a Q&A session on animated series The Spectacular Spider-Man. Fitting in nicely with the kid friendly theme to much of Sunday’s programming, the show follows Peter Parker as a 16-year-old struggling to conceal his secret identity and survive high school.  Cast and crew attending include supervising producers and character designers, as well as voice actors Josh Keaton, Kelly Hu, and Robert Englund (10:00-11:00, Room 6A).  Also kid friendly is the panel on Disney Channel’s #1 animated series Phineas & Ferb.  Creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff Marsh, plus Vincent Martella, who voices Phineas, will talk about what happens behind the scenes of the show (10:00-11:00, Room 6DE).

Although I used to watch Smallville, and I mean the first three or four seasons, I’ve abandoned it for better content.  It was a great concept, but the writers have long since broken their original “no flights, no tights” rule and even without watching the show I’m aware of how last season’s finale disappointed many a fan with the death of Jimmy Olsen, and subsequent reveal that he was not the Jimmy Olsen of Superman mythology, his younger brother was.   But with the show going into its ninth season, it’s clear it still has fans.  If you’re one of those still watching, this year’s panel includes cast members Alison Mack (Chloe), Erica Durance (Lois), Cassidy Freeman (Tess Mercer), Justin Hartley (Oliver Queen), and new series star Callum Blue (Zod), as well as the current showrunners.  The session will be moderated by Jeph Loeb, formerly of Heroes (10:30-11:30, Room 6BCF).

Back on the animated side of things are the panels Cartoon Voices II, featuring a gathering of the top cartoon voice actors (11:15-12:30, Room 6A), and “Nickelodeon Presents”, which will screen new episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants, Fairly OddParents, and The Penguins of Madagascar (11:15-12:15).  Additionally, American Dad showrunners Mike Barker and Matt Weitzman will join stars Seth MacFarlane, Wendy Schall, and Dee Bradley Baker for an inside look at how the show is made (11:15-12:15, Ballroom 20).  If you want to be one of those stars, be sure to attend the Business of Cartoon Voices panel, which gives you “a serious “how to” look at the business telling you what it takes to get in and how to avoid getting ripped-off.” (1:00-2:00, Room 2).

Ready for more science-fiction?  Start with the Supernatural panel featuring creator/executive producer Eric Kripke and stars Misha Collins and Jim Beaver.  With the show now entering its fifth, and possibly last, season, fans of the CW drama will be excited about the exclusive clips from upcoming episodes and the airing of special features that will appear on the soon to be released fourth season DVD set… even without the presence of Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki as the demon-hunting Winchester brothers (11:45-12:45, Room 6BCF).

Continue the supernatural theme by attending the Ghost Whisperer panel, where the cast and crew will present a first look at clips from the upcoming season.  Series stars Jennifer Love Hewitt and David Conrad will be present. (1:00-2:00, Room 6BCF).  Then attend BBC America’s back-to-back panels on Being Human and Torchwood. Being Human, about the lives of three twentysomethings, a werewolf, a vampire, and a ghost, will present a panel which features creator Toby Whithouse and stars Russell Tovey, Lenora Crichlow, and Aidan Turner.  The more interesting of the two, in my opinion, is the Torchwood panel though.  As I stated in my last article I may not have seen Torchwood: Children of Earth yet, but I have been spoiled enough to wonder how fans will react to the five episode series.  With the panel including the same people present at the morning’s Doctor Who gathering, but with the substitution of star John Barrowman for David Tennant, it’s certainly one to watch.  My only regret is that it doesn’t include more cast members.  Barrowman seems to enjoy innuendo more when it’s with his fellow actors.  Just check out the abundant Youtube footage of last year’s San Diego Comic-Con with Barrowman, Naoko Mori, and Gareth David-Lloyd (2:15-3:45, Ballroom 20).

If you’re a Whedon fan, spend the afternoon with some Browncoats, fans of Joss Whedon’s short-lived series Firefly who actively participate in the show’s fandom, for the Browncoats Fan Group Meeting.  According to Comic-Con, “Fans of Firefly and Serenity are welcome to join the California Browncoats. Get the scoop on upcoming ‘verse-related and ‘verse-friendly events and products that you’ll really love, learn about Waterkeeper Alliance, the charity the group is supporting this year. Drop by any time to join the fun and find out what the Browncoats are up to, but those arriving by 12:20 can enter to play Serenity Spin—put your ‘verse-related trivia to the test to win shiny (12:00-2:00, Room 24A).

Finally, finish Comic-Con with a screening of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode “Once More With Feeling”.  Fans are encouraged to participate by “singing and shouting and dancing in the aisles, with or without your dry cleaning!”  As a Buffy fan, I can’t imagine a better way to top off Comic-Con International.  I only wish I could be there to sing along (4:00-5:00, Ballroom 20).

Comic-Con International takes place at the San Diego Convention Center July 23rd-26th.

Full schedules of events and panel descriptions can be found here.