Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Let's Do the Time Warp! It's the Throwback Edition!

Even though most of us focus on the fabulous television shows of today, there are plenty of classic shows that took their final bow long ago. We've said goodbye to numerous TV friends, and we've sworn off networks when they cancel our favorites before their time. Television has provided us with so many moments over its more than fifty year history. We've laughed until we made our selves sick, we've cried until we were literally out of tears, and we've stared at the television with our mouths agape at the scene that just transpired. At its core, television is there to entertain us, and there have been many shows that have filled us with hours of entertainment through the years. Here are some of my favorite long gone shows.

NOTE: I'm going to list the shows by the decade they are most associated with.

Mister Ed - When I was a kid, I loved to watch this show on Nick At Night on Nickelodeon. It just doesn't get much better than a talking horse who out smarts the humans around him. Mister Ed made me laugh with all his silly tricks and dialog with Wilbur (Alan Young). Plus, you've got to give it up to a show that had a talking horse before the era of special effects. They actually had to make the horse move his lips without any digital enhancement!

The Brady Bunch - Yes, it was as wholesome as wheat bread, but there was something about watching a show that presented a family that really loved each other, despite their spats. Even in its cheesiness, was the realistic side including sisterly jealousy, the effects of blending families, and the everyday struggles that families face. As sugary-sweet as the show was, it had heart and some great characters.

Charlie's Angels - This show was a summer staple for me when I was younger. It aired in reruns every day on one of the cable channels. Talk about girl power! I wasn't a Farrah/Jill fan, so her departure didn't phase me. My favorite angels were Sabrina (Kate Jackson), Kris (Cheryl Ladd), and Kelly (Jaclyn Smith), but Kelly was my top angel. I loved how these women were out there fighting the bad guys and looking fabulous while doing it. It was a fun show, and somewhat of an earlier version of Alias.

Dallas - The mother of the night time soap opera is the still the best! This show had it all - murder, backstabbing, money, the once thought dead coming back to life, love triangles and everything else that makes a great night time soap. The show mirrored the opulence of the 80s with the Ewing family and their massive oil fortune. Characters came and went over the show's thirteen seasons, but one remained: J.R. Ewing. What more can you say about a show that basically invented the summer cliffhanger, and caused a national furry with its "Who shot J.R.?" season ender? Classic, indeed.

Remington Steele - What's a female private detective to do when she can't get any clients? Invent a male private detective boss and watch the business role in. Such was the case for Laura Holt (Stephanie Zimbalist), so she invented the name Remington Steele. But, it wasn't long before she needed to produce the elusive Mr. Steele, so she enlists the help of a stranger (Pierce Brosnan) to play the part. This was another girl power show, but it also had the will-they-or-won't-they element between Holt and Steele. The showed teased us for five seasons, until the two finally got together in the end. It was a fun show with plenty of great undercover scenes.

Full House - Like most seven year olds, I was totally into this show when it premiered. I could completely relate to the sisters because I am one of three girls as well. This is another one of those sugar-sweet shows, but it had some decent messages and lots of family values. I loved the comic relief of Joey (Dave Coulier) and Uncle Jesse (John Stamos). The ending scenes where everyone hugged were a bit much, but overall, the show was pretty good.

Picket Fences - Arguably David E. Kelley's finest show, Picket Fences was a quirky little program that followed the citizens of Rome Wisconsin. It had sex-change doctors, spontaneous human combustion, cows giving birth to humans, and an entire host of other oddities that gave the show its original flare. The show's crazy characters added the charm. Tom Skerrit was great as the town's sheriff, and Lauren Holly and Costas Mandylor had great chemistry. The show had a little bit of everything, and I do mean everything, and just the right amount of great characters and well written episodes.

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman - I was such a Dr. Quinn fan! I've always been a sucker for westerns and love stories, so this show was basically written for me. It featured a great lead character (Jane Seymour) who constantly proved that women were just as capable as men. I LOVED the episode where Michaela and the kids went to Boston to see her ailing mother. It was so great when Sully (Joe Lando) showed up and had her all torn between her old shiny life and her new frontier life. The running kiss scene was awesome at the end. The show started to show its age in its later years, but the early years were pure gold.

Seinfeld - One of the funniest shows to ever grace the television airwaves. What makes this show so unique (other than the fact that it was "the show about nothing") is the fact that every single character was funny. Even the smaller roles like Newman were hysterical. The show blended physical humor, smart dialog, and exaggerated every day situations into a perfect storm of comic gold. From Kramer's (Michael Richards) crazy entrances to George's hang-ups, this show was funny from top to bottom. I still laugh about Kramer adopting a highway!

So those are just some of my favs from yesterday. What are some of yours? What old shows cause you to stop channel surfing when you think there's nothing on? Leave me a note with your favorites.


*Brian Cox is joining the cast of HBO's Deadwood for its third season per zap2it.. He'll play a theater owner and producer who tries to impart a little culture on the town. He's signed on for at least seven episodes starting next year.

*The John Grisham best seller The Street Lawyer is coming to TNT. The cable network ordered the project as a pilot/miniseries. The story follows a lawyer who quits his big time firm to work in a legal aid clinic. Grisham is signed on to executive produce the pilot.

*And finally, it's Nielsen Wednesday. CBS finished out another stellar week atop the ratings heap. Led by CSI (#1), CBS had all five of the top shows with 60 Minutes (#2), Two and a Half Men (#3), Cold Case (#4), and CSI:Miami (#5). NBC and Fox split second place. For the full top 20, visit

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow as we prepare for an Invasion. Plus all the latest television news.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

What Lies Under the 'Surface'? Plus 'Prison Break'

When Desperate Housewives stormed out of the gate last season and helped ABC finish tied for second for the season, a lot of people thought that there would be a bunch of copycat shows on the fall schedule. Imagine everyone's surprise when the show's premise barely made a blip on the new shows' radar. So, why aren't there more copycats of a show that almost toppled CSI's number one ranking? Because everyone was too busy writing shows about the supernatural. It seems that Lost's mysterious ripples reached much further than Desperate Housewives' satiric soapy ones. Lost is a huge hit, especially for a network that, just one year ago, was circling the bottom of the barrel, but it's not as big of a hit as Desperate Housewives. So, why are show runners choosing to develop their own supernatural dramas and not satirical soaps? Most likely because there is a lot more room to be creative with the supernatural theme than the satirical soap theme. Housewives has been done, and done quite well, so followers would be held up to the standard it set. Creatively, there isn't a lot more that can be done to make a new show distinguishable from the original. But with the supernatural theme, there is a lot of room for creativity, and a lot of different premises that are completely different from Lost, but can still attract the show's large audience. In other words, there's a better chance of getting a good audience with the supernatural dramas. Like everything else, there is the fear of saturation, so show runners will have to be careful, but supernatural shows as mainstream hits is still a new concept.

One of the shows hoping to achieve Lost's success is the NBC drama Surface. Besides the supernatural themes, the two shows have very little in common. Instead of an island, Surface revolves around people from all over, including the South Antartic Sea, San Diego, Monterey, and the Gulf of Mexico. There isn't an unseen monster lurking in the jungle, but mysterious sea creatures. Series co-creator Jonas Pate tells that he understands the comparison to Lost, but he promises his show won't leave viewers hanging as much, despite the impression the pilot gives us. "Believe it or not, we're not going to be as coy with revealing things as you might expect, because there are many layers to the mystery [of the sea creatures]." He adds that "what you see in the pilot is only the opening salvo." But if the show comes off more in the style of an action/adventure show and less supernatural, that's because co-creators (and brothers) Jonas and Josh Pate designed the show more in the James Cameron's Abyss fashion and less in the Lost one.

The show has undergone some changes over the summer, most notable a name change from Fathom to Surface because of some legal tie-ups. But the premise has remained, and so do the over arching questions: What exactly are these new creatures? Are they good, bad, or a little bit of both? And how will the lives change for the people who come in contact with these creatures? The show stars Lake Bell (Boston Legal) and Leighton Meester (Tarzan). You can start finding the answers to the show's questions when it premieres September 19th on NBC.

Anyone catch Prison Break last night? The show seems to be off to a decent start. One thing I found difficult about the show is the leap of faith it requires the viewer to take in order to buy the premise. First, we have to overlook the fact that Michael (Wentworth Miller) would be placed into the same prison as his brother, and no one would realize this mistake. Second, we have to buy the whole Michael doesn't have Type I diabetes, but he's able to convince the prison doctor that he does. Wouldn't they do a medical history check? And then there's the over arching leap of faith that Michael studied the prison's blueprints well enough to know exactly what he needs to know (or check his body covering tattoo to find what he forgets), and the prison is exactly the same as the blueprints originally had it - right down to the screw used to bolt together the bleachers in the prison yard. But, I'm willing to take the leap because the show caught my attention. Is there some sort of Government conspiracy to make sure Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) is executed on May 11th? Or, is the Secret Service just making sure justice is served for the assassination of the Vice President's brother? And who shot the Bishop? Plus, Robin Tunney is fabulous as Lincoln's ex-girlfriend and Michael's help on the outside.


*Charlize Theron will guest star on Fox's Arrested Development. She'll play a British woman who dates Michael (Jason Batemen). She's signed on for five episodes, with the first episode airing on September 26th.

*It looks like Fox has another big hit on its hands. Prison Break opened to huge numbers last night and propelled Fox to the top finish in total viewers. The show also did well in the advertiser coveted 18-49 year old group.

*And finally, Rachel Bilson, Patrick Dempsey, Craig Ferguson, Jason Lee, Kyra Sedgwick, and James Spader have been added to the list of presenters for The 57th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. The awards air live from Los Angeles on September 18th on CBS.

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for a special "throwback" edition. Plus, all of today's latest television news.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Fox Makes a 'Break' for it! Plus TV on DVD Monday!

No one ever accuses Fox of not taking risks. It's certainly the most risk-taking network of the big four. Some of those risks fail (Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire? or Skin), and others pay off for the network (American Idol). If you can believe what critics are saying, it sounds like Fox's latest risk Prison Break will fall into the latter category. Risky because of its seemingly short ended premise, Prison Break follows the story of Michael Scofield and his desperate attempt at getting his brother, Lincoln Burrows, out of prison. Lincoln is sitting on death row and scheduled to be executed in a few months for an assassination that Michael is convinced he did not commit. In order to save his brother, Michael robs a bank and lands himself in the same prison as his brother (and it just so happens Michael had access to the prison's blueprints). The risk lies in whether viewers will tune in each week to watch the escape plans progress. And, if the brothers do escape, what happens then? With Lincoln facing execution in just a few months, it seems that the show either executes him or they escape. I suppose a possible Stay of Execution could slow things down a bit, but the premise leaves the writers with very few options.

Last year, the same questions hung over a little show called Lost, so much so, that critics raved about it, but concluded that it wouldn't last the season. Lost is set to start its second season, and it helped save a starving-for-a-hit ABC. One of the questions surrounding Lost is the same that surrounds Prison Break: Will audiences keep watching the same people trying to escape an island (or in this case a prison)? It worked for Lost, so why not Prison Break? Star and soon-to-be "it" boy Wentworth Miller stars as Michael Scofield. He tells that the show (like Lost) isn't entirely focused on the escape. "[Michael] is at the mercy of the other inmates in this deadly environment, and I think a lot of the tension of the show deals with him being in jeopardy and having to use his wits to elude the predators and antagonists." He also tells that the show touches on something else, "this is not just an action thriller, it's really a story about family: How far would one go to save a loved one? In Michael's case, it's all the way to the wall." Series Creator Peter Scheuring promises that the show isn't as violent as that other prison show from a few years back, HBO's OZ. He tells that "everyone asks about that, because OZ is kind of the last serial TV prison show." He adds, "this story is about hope. It's about the caper. It's about the mystery. It's all that stuff. So, this is not about the depravities of mankind."

The show's seemingly human element could make for some interesting characters that keep us tuning in each week (much in the same way as Lost), and then add in the whole thriller/suspense element of the two brothers and their escape plus the appeal of star Wentworth Miller, and it should make this show a must see addition to our TV viewing schedule. You can check it out for yourself tonight on Fox for the special two hour premiere.


*50s TV icon This Is Your Life is headed back to network television per ABC decided to resurrect the unscripted drama and give it a 21st century makeover. The 50s version found host Ralph Edwards surprising people with retrospectives on their lives including special guests. The network isn't releasing any details yet, but original host Edwards' son will serve as an executive producer.

*John Leguizamo is joining ER for a twelve episode run. Sources tell that he'll play a new doctor at County General. Producers had been looking for a well known actor to join the cast since Noah Wylie left and John Stamos had to back out after ABC renewed his show Jake In Progress. Leguizamo's episodes start airing in late October.

*Fox is extending the premiere of The Bernie Mac Show to one hour. The opener will feature guest star Anthony Anderson (The Shield), and the night's second episode will feature wrestler Steve Austin. The move pushes Malcolm In the Middle's premiere back to September 30th. The one-hour Bernie Mac block airs September 23rd.

*And finally, it's TV on DVD Monday. Look for House season 1, Curb Your Enthusiasm season 4, and Nip/Tuck season 2 all on shelves tomorrow. For a complete list of tomorrow's releases, visit

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for my impression of Prison Break. Plus, we go under the Surface with NBC. And as always, all the latest television news!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Women on Top! But Who Lands the Prime Position?

The ladies are certainly giving the men a run for their money. It used to be rare to find well-rounded, balanced roles for women in television, so the ladies didn't always get to show off their incredible talent. Now, women are commanding one hour dramas, and writers are writing more dimensional and dynamic roles for women. So, it is the time of the woman in television, and these incredible ladies prove it every week. As was the case with the men, there are far too many deserving females on primetime television, so we once again have a tie. Here are my favorite female television actresses.

5. Emily Vancamp (Amy Abbott, Everwood) - Amy Abbott hasn't had the easiest three years, and Emily has navigated through all of the ups and downs like a pro. She makes Amy real and very relatable. With just an expression or a look on her face, you know what Amy is thinking. With Rose's cancer this season, Emily showed us how strong Amy has become these last three seasons. Perhaps in was the death of her boyfriend and the depression that followed from it, or just the normal teenage perils, but Amy has become a strong, able woman and Emily has shown us the transformation. She manages to make us feel bad for Amy even when we don't agree with her actions. And when it came time for Amy to be there for Ephram after he had been there for her for so long, Amy stepped up. Emily showed us the complexity of the issue, though, because it involved a child Ephram had with someone else. Emily makes Amy the most realistic and relatable teen on TV while also taking us through Amy's difficult times earning her a spot on the list.

5. Yunjin Kim (Sun Kwon, Lost) - Yunjin blew me away this season on Lost! Like most of the cast, she was a relative unknown before the show premiered, but she made a huge impression right off. Part of the credit definitely goes to the incredible writing staff on Lost because they have given their actors so much brilliant material. But, a lot of the credit also goes to the magnificent cast, and Yunjin stands out against the other talents. She gives Sun heart, and we literally see the conflict between her and husband Jin (the excellent Daniel Dae Kim) with each delivery of her lines and every expression on her face. The season finale left me with tears in my eyes as I watched the poignant scene between the two of them as Jin leaves on the raft. Yunjin played that scene so well because we could see just how hurt Sun was and how much she was longing to reconcile with Jin. Just one of many well played scenes from Yunjin, and the reason she landed on my list.

4. Mariska Hargitay (Det. Olivia Benson, Law & Order: SVU) - Like her partner in crime Christopher Meloni, Mariska has the difficulty of showing us her acting chops on a show that allows for very little character development. But, for anyone who saw the episode "Charisma" from last season, you know that Mariska certainly has them. That episode alone should earn her the Emmy win this year. When Olivia hears the gun shots from outside the home, Mariska has a look that tells us all we need to know - the children in the cult were inside. The sad scene that follows in the house is overwhelming (and presumably why the producers left the scene silent with no underscore or dialog), and these are only the opening scenes. Mariska continues to take us through the gripping story of the charismatic cult leader and his control over a young girl. Mariska brings such compassion to Olivia and yet, such toughness, especially when Olivia is interrogating her suspects. It's a nice dichotomy and the reason Mariska ranks on the list.

3. Jennifer Garner (Sydney Bristow, Alias) - Jennifer is another deserving actress of an Emmy win this year. She always manages to bring her "A game" to Alias, which is a very physically demanding show. She gives Sydney a tough edge, but she's always sure to show us Syd's softer side as well. The role of Sydney Bristow is made even more difficult by the constant transformation the super spy has to make in order to fool her enemies. Sometimes Jennifer has to put on believable accents and other times she's seducing men for information, while never going too far. Jennifer easily moves between chasing down suspects and sharing a quiet, tender moment with Vaughn (Michael Vartan). Her impeccable range as an actress is amazing, and thus, why she lands on the list.

And finally, we have a tie for first place.......drum role......

Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars, Veronica Mars) - As I have stated many times before, I've only seen the four episodes that aired on CBS this summer, but I was instantly impressed with Kristen. So impressed, that I couldn't decide between her and fellow top spot holder Kathryn Morris. They are both talented actresses, and they both really showed their stuff this season. Kristen gives Veronica an edge, but still makes us want to have Veronica as our friend. Kristen could have easily played the character as the cute, popular type given the actress's cuteness, but she took the script and gave Veronica the tougher side that makes the character so appealing. She has great delivery, especially when she's giving us Veronica's more sarcastic replies. Kristen doesn't let the audience forget that Veronica has some issues from her past that she carries with her, but she also doesn't hit us over the head with it. Veronica is an extremely complex character, and Kristen's ability to play to all the complexities earns her the (shared) top spot on the list.

1. Kathryn Morris (Det. Lilly Rush, Cold Case) - Kathryn is coming off a very difficult season for Lilly Rush. She took Lilly through the sudden arrival of her troubled sister and the conflict that ensued, the realization that the team isn't going to get every murderer - some will slip through including a serial killer, the discovery that her partner and sister were sleeping together, learning that her sister is wanted in New York, and the final showdown between Lilly and serial killer George Marks. The last difficulty is what earned Kathryn the (shared) top spot on the list. In an emotional and demanding fifteen minute scene, Lilly tells George about what happened to her as a child. Kathryn handled the scene beautifully. She never let the audience feel that Lilly had lost control. Even during her sobbing scenes where she had to detail the attack that happened to Lilly when she was ten, you could tell she wasn't going to tell George everything he wanted to hear. And when push came to shove and George forced Lilly to shoot him, Kathryn told us all we needed to know about how Lilly felt with the expression on her face. It was just one of many of her amazing moments this season, and what earns her the (shared) number one spot.

So, those are my picks for my favorite television actresses. Do you agree? Disagree? What did you think about the week of favorites? Leave me a note with your thoughts and picks.


*Sean Astin is joining the cast of the Fox drama 24 this season. He's one of several new cast members including Jean Smart and Connie Britton to join the hit show's fifth season. Fox isn't saying much about Astin's role, other then that he'll be a part of the Counter Terrorism Unit per zap2it. For more information on the cast additions including spoilers, visit The Futon Critic. 24 premieres January 8th on Fox.

*TNT will air an extra ten minutes of their hit show The Closer for its first season finale. The special 70 minute episode will find Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) charged with "conduct unbecoming" an officer per zap2it. The show has already been picked up for a second season. The season finale airs September 5th on TNT.

*The people of Miami need to board up their homes and stay inside this weekend, and it's not just for hurricane Katrina. MTV's fashion challenged Video Music Awards air live from Miami Sunday night. Scheduled performers include Kanye West, Mariah Carey, Coldplay, and Kelly Clarkson. Sean "Diddy" Combs will host the show.

*Details about House's second premiere are leaking out. Fox released the episode description for the September 13th premiere. Visit The Futon Critic for all the details and spoilers.

*And finally, HBO's epic new series Rome begins its 12-episode run this Sunday. The show follows the lives of the citizens of ancient Rome back when it was the most wealthy city in the world. For a review on the show, visit

That's all for today. I hope you enjoyed the week of favorites! Be sure to tune in next week for a special "throwback" column about past great shows. And coming up Monday, the Fox show Prison Break escapes early! Also, all the latest television news all week long.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

It's the Men of Primetime! Who's the Finest of Them All?

There are definitely more than a few good men on primetime television, that's for sure (same holds true for the ladies, but we'll get to them tomorrow)! They move us, make us swoon, inspire us, and definitely leave us wanting more. They're the talented men who are lighting up our favorite dramas and comedies. I had a difficult time narrowing down my selections, and thus we have a tie. Anyway, here are my favorite television actors.

5. Christopher Meloni (Det. Elliot Stabler, Law & Order: SVU) - Although he's been overlooked year after year by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for their annual Emmy Awards, Christopher is definitely one of the best. He brings such raw and honest emotion to Stabler every week. Stabler is a hot-head, but Christopher allows us to see the motivation behind it. The character could easily be written off as a stereotypical male, but Chris brings heart and depth to him instead. It's difficult to stand out and prove yourself in a case heavy procedural, but Chris proves that it's definitely not impossible. He beautifully navigated through an especially difficult episode this season where an alleged rape victim accused Stabler of touching her inappropriately, and we learned that his wife took the kids and moved out. Two difficult blows, and Chris gave each of them a very human quality.

5. Michael Vartan (not? Michael Vaughn, Alias) - He provided us with the most shocking scene in primetime last season, but that's not the only impressive thing about Michael. He gives Vaughn a real, cool edge that allows him to work through the tense and demanding assignments of A.P.O. And when he's not keeping the country save from rogue organizations, he's romancing Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner). Michael easily moves between the intense scenes of searching for his father to the more tender scenes with Sydney. And then there's that ending scene where he tried to gently tell Sydney that Vaughn isn't Vaughn. It was a loaded statement that seemed to imply there's more to learn. Hopefully, Michael will be back next season to tell us all about it (even though rumors have him leaving the show sometime next season - most likely Alias' last).

4. Naveen Andrews (Sayid Jarrah, Lost) - Naveen burst on the scene this past season with the blockbuster hit Lost, but it's the simple nuances that he brings to Sayid that earn him a spot on this list. Considering that Sayid was a member of Saddam's Republican Guard, it would have been easy to make him a terrorist, but the character (thankfully) wasn't written that way. Naveen brings a quiet, gentle, and even-tone to Sayid, making him the most level-headed of the survivors. When it was time for Sayid's backstory to take center stage, Naveen did not disappoint. The way he played Sayid's heartache and turmoil was amazing. I hope we get to see more of his abilities this season as well. Naveen is nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Emmy.

3. Enrique Murciano (Danny Taylor, Without A Trace) - The procedural format is difficult to break out because very little emphasis is placed on the characters that enter into our living rooms every week, but Enrique is another example of an actor who is able to move around the boundaries and give a full, interesting character. He brings such compassion and serenity to Danny while also displaying his nice camaraderie with his fellow F.B.I Agents. Enrique carried his own episode this season when Danny's troubled brother went missing after supposedly getting his life together. It was a difficult and (obviously) deeply personal case for Danny because he had a hard time believing that his brother had cleaned up. Enrique took us through Danny's journey, allowing his faults to creep through and provide more insight into Danny. It was a well acted episode that cemented Enrique's place on the list. And just a programming note, coincidently, Danny's episode airs tonight on CBS.

2. John C. McGinley (Dr. Perry Cox, Scrubs) - When one actor single handedly makes a hilarious show even funnier, it really makes you wonder why the Emmy voters have never nominated him. Such is the case with the brilliant John C. McGinley. He has incredible delivery and comedic timing, and he makes it so I can't even imagine any other actor playing Perry. His funny quips and monologues keep me tuned in to find out what he'll say next ("Lady, people aren't chocolate. You know what they are mostly? Bastards. Bastard-coated bastards with bastard filling"). But it isn't just John's comedic side that place him on the list, he brings so many dimensions to Perry. It would be easy to make him a cold hearted cynic, but John doesn't let that happen. He brings a complexity to Perry, allowing him to show his true colors - that deep down he truly cares about the residents that work for him (he torments them so they'll do well), his wife/ex-wife Jordan, and even the patients that drive him crazy. John shows us that Perry's a cynical doctor with heart.

And finally...drum roll...

1. Tom Amandes (Dr. Harold Abbott, Everwood) - Tom's performance on Everwood is truly inspiring, and like most of the others on this list, he has never received an Emmy nomination. He gives Harold such depth, a feat considering all of the characters on Everwood are well-developed and multi-dimensional. Even from the beginning when Harold was written as the resident pain-in-the-behind, Tom gave him heart. Harold could have easily been a throw-away character, one you don't pay much attention to, but you found yourself rooting for him just as much as the other amazing characters in the town. Tom delivers Harold's lines with such ease and perfection, and he can make us laugh at Harold's anal retentiveness over a parking space or cry with him when Rose (Merrilyn Gann) can't make it to Amy's (Emily Vancamp) high school graduation because she is having one of those bad days that cancer can bring. Tom's scenes with Emily Vancamp are so moving and well-played you sometimes forget these two aren't really father and daughter. A truly incredible actor who deserves much more recognition that he receives.


*Donald Trump will make a cameo on the Martha Stewart version of The Apprentice per For his cameo, Trump will take a tour of the contestants' lofts. The Apprentice: Martha Stewart debuts September 21st on NBC.

*And finally, Charles S. Dutton, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ellen Pompeo, Jimmy Smits, and Sela Ward are set to present at the 57th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. The awards air September 18th on CBS.

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow as the week of favorites winds down with my favorite television actresses. Plus, all the latest TV news.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

You Gotta Have Character. But Who Has the Most?

Characters - the most essential part of any show. Without well written and well developed characters a show falls flat on its behind. It's the characters and their engaging stories that keep us coming back for more. We feel for Amy Abbott when we find out her mother has cancer and for Veronica Mars when we find out she was date raped. It's all part of the "human experience." There are numerous well written characters on television, so much so, that this list contains my top 10 favorites (however, I'll only be going into detail on the top five otherwise this entry is going to be way too long!). Before I start, you should know that I've only included characters from shows that I've seen enough episodes to get a good feel for the character and his/her development. As much as I enjoyed the few episodes of Gilmore Girls that I've seen, Lorelai is not on this list (although she is a great character). Anyway, here are my top television characters.

10. Allison DuBois (Patricia Arquette from Medium)
9. Danny Taylor (Enrique Murciano from Without A Trace)
8. Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay from Law & Order: SVU)
7. Syndey Bristow (Jennifer Garner from Alias)
6. Amy Abbott (Emily Vancamp from Everwood)

And now the top 5:

5. Hurley (Jorge Garcia from Lost) - So, you're trapped on, what you think is, a deserted island in the middle of nowhere after your plane crashes. Who do you want with you? Hurley of course! Who else is going to keep a positive attitude? Or make you laugh? If it weren't for Hurley, the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 would probably have started World War III by now. Thanks to Hurley's quick thinking, the gang is now involved in a very interesting game of golf. Of course, one could argue that it might very well be Hurley who got all of them into this mess since he used the "cursed numbers" to win the lottery. Poor guy has had nothing but bad luck since, including a hilarious scene (shown through flashbacks) where he raced through the Sydney airport trying to make his doomed flight. But it isn't just Hurley's knack for humor that places him on the list, it's his compassion and willingness to help out anyone anytime they need it, plus he managed to win over the French woman.

4. Vivian Johnson (Marianne Jean-Baptiste from Without A Trace) - Viv has had a rough year, but she managed to come through it with flying colors. First, she gets promoted to Jack's (Anthony LaPaglia) position, only to learn that he decided not to leave New York to follow his wife and daughters (although it was NOT his decision). Viv went from calling the shots on a few cases to being demoted back down to her previous position when Jack came back. Despite the harsh turn of events, she adjusted well and continued her dedication to her work. Then, she learned that she was suffering from a heart condition. She tried to keep it from her co-workers as she went to numerous doctors appointments for testing, but eventually everyone found out when she collapsed on a case. She soon learned that she would need to undergo risky surgery, but the season finale revealed that she made it through just fine. Viv always manages to stay level-headed while she searches for the missing persons, and she has a great way with witnesses and suspects.

3. Dr. Harold Abbott (Tom Amandes from Everwood) - Probably the character with the most development on this list. Harold went from nothing more than a town (and Dr. Andy Brown's (Treat Williams)) nuisance to a bonafide friend, father, husband, and colleague. Rose (Merrilyn Gann) is the foundation and rock of the Abbott family, but Harold is the glue that keeps it all together. When Amy (Emily Vancamp) moved out second season because she couldn't agree to her parents' rules, it was Harold who got her to come back. It is Harold who keeps his family together now that Rose is battling cancer. And, it is Harold who has been Andy's ear and shoulder through many difficult cases and patients over the last three seasons. Harold has also provided the show with some of its funniest moments, and funny moments are a welcomed addition to Everwood's heavy theme. Take the episode "A Thanksgiving Tale" from season 1. Harold thinks he might be dying so he pulls an Ebenezer Scrooge and tries to make up for all his years of being a nasty, difficult member of Everwood. During Thanksgiving dinner (in which the entire town is attending), he finds out there was a mistake on his tests, and he's fine. Harold being Harold, turns to everyone eating at his house and tells them all to get out. Classic Harold moment, and just part of the reason he makes the list.

2. Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell from Veronica Mars) - Veronica is one tough chick. She doesn't let the boys, the police, or her father's clients bully her, and she has a knack for getting to the bottom of things. She's been dealt a rough hand, but she forges on in exceptional style. Her mother left, her father lost his job as Sheriff during the Lilly Kane murder investigation, she was dumped by the only boy she loved, and she was dated raped by an unknown assailant. But Veronica doesn't wallow in her misfortunes, instead she's a fighter. She can intimidate anyone with her quick wit and fiery personality, and she does it all using her smarts and not her cute looks. You've got to admire a character like that!

And finally...drum roll...

1. Lilly Rush (Kathryn Morris from Cold Case) - Lilly is a mystery, and probably the most complex and interesting character on television. We know she doesn't get along with her sister because her sister has a history of getting involved in Lilly's personal life. We're not sure about the nature of her relationship with her mother, but we do know her mother wasn't around much when she was growing up because she was too involved with the bottle and men. But what about her father? And why was she unable to completely give herself to A.D.A Kite (Josh Hopkins)? She continued to bury herself in her work while dating him. Dedication is an admirable and necessary skill in detective work, particularly solving cold cases, but it seems that Lilly uses it to drown out her past and avoid a personal life. All of these questions make Lilly utterly fascinating. She can stare down a suspect in an interrogation room or put a sexist suspect in his place in mere seconds, but she can't bring herself to face the "bad thing that happened to little Lilly." She has a way with people, and she relates to each victim and yearns for their justice. Now, she's responsible for someone else's death after she shot and killed serial killer George Marks in the season finale. How will she adjust? Knowing Lilly, she'll probably bury it deep down inside with all her other bad memories. She wouldn't be Lilly if she didn't, and we wouldn't be as fascinating.

So, those are my picks. Do you agree? Disagree? Leave me a note with your thoughts.


*The WB released episode information for Gilmore Girls' 6th season premiere. Will Luke say yes? What does the future hold for Rory now that she left Yale? If you want the answers to these questions and more, click on over to The Futon Critic, but be warned the episode description is very spoilerish!

*Mary Tyler Moore is returning to television. She signed on for a three episode stint on Fox's That 70s Show. Moore will play a celebrated anchor of Point Place's daily program who also happens to frequent the hair salon where Fez (Wilmer Valderrama) works. Look for Moore's first appearance in 2006 when she returns to the same soundstage where she taped her famous show thirty years ago. That 70s Show premieres November 2nd.

*Former Entertainment Tonight correspondent Maria Menounos is joining Access Hollywood and NBC's Today Show. Menounos will be a special correspondent for Access and a West Coast contributor for Today. Both programs are produced by NBC Universal. Look for Menounos on both programs this fall.

*And finally, it's Nielsen Wednesday. CBS snatched another win last week in total viewers led by Bruckheimer crime dramas CSI (#1), Without A Trace (#2), CSI:Miami (#5), and Cold Case (#6). Overall, CBS claimed 8 of the top 10 spots. NBC and ABC split second. For the full list of the top 20 shows, visit

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow as I run down my favorite television actors. Of course, I'll also have all the latest television news.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

These Shows Bring the Funny. But Who's the Funniest of Them All?

I know it seems like there isn't a whole lot of funny on television lately, but the key is knowing where to look. Sometimes the funny is in the form of slapstick, satire, irony, quick quips, or all of the above. The sitcom has a history of bringing us hours of laughs, and for that, we are all very appreciative. I keep hearing over and over again that the new crop of comedies are hysterical (maybe this is the much anticipated comeback), but there are a number of quality, funny sitcoms currently on television. Here are my picks:

4. Arrested Development (Fox)- I've only seen a handful of episodes of this crazy show, but every episode I have seen has made me laugh out loud. It definitely has a humor all its own, which is why many people aren't tuning in. It's a smart show that employees sight gags and the assumption that the viewers will get a lot of its inside jokes. Take the episode where one of the characters literally "jumped the shark." A term that's used to refer to the moment when a television show crosses over into the ridiculous and no longer watchable territory. At the heart of Arrested Development is the off-beat Bluth family and all their unbelievable antics (like Tobias joining the Blue Man Group). The Bluth family is funny enough to keep me laughing for days!

3. Gilmore Girls (WB)- I know most people consider this charming show a drama, but it entered itself into the best comedy category for the Emmys, and it's definitely one of those "dramedies" I spoke of last week (the same holds true for my number two pick). Like Arrested Development, I've only seen a handful of episodes, but the show definitely had me laughing. Each of the characters in the quaint town of Stars Hollow has their hysterically funny moments as well as their more serious moments. It's a feat that the show's talented cast led by the brilliant Lauren Graham pulls off very well. Even when Gilmore Girls is having one of its more dramatic scenes, the show still manages to find the humor and make us laugh.

2. Desperate Housewives (ABC)- When Housewives is having a funny moment, it's the funniest show on television. Take the pilot episode: Gabrielle (Eva Longoria) hurries back to her house to mow the lawn in her evening gown just to prevent her husband from finding out about her affair with the gardener or Lynette (Felicity Huffman) walking into a swimming pool to fetch her unruly boys all while the neighborhood is gathered around to mourn the suicide of Mary Alice (Brenda Strong). This show manages to weave us through intensely dramatic moments and insanely comedic ones effortlessly. Even a dark moment like the funeral for Carlos' (Ricardo Antonio Chavira) mother turns funny when Gabrielle and Carlos fight. There are countless funny moments in Housewives, which is why this dramedy ranks on the comedy list.

And finally...drum roll....

1. Scrubs (NBC)- This show is the funniest show on television because it relies on satire, sight gags, hilarious dialog, and interesting characters. The antics of J.D. (Zach Braff), Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley), and Turk (Donald Faison) keep me in stitches (bad pun, I know). McGinley has the best comedic timing on television, and his monologues are jam packed with hysterical comments. Elliot (Sarah Chalke) is funny without trying to be, and Carla (Judy Reyes) keeps all of the boys in line. Janitor (Neil Flynn), Jordan (Christa Miller Lawrence), and Ted (Sam Lloyd) round out the talented cast. Scrubs is pretty much guaranteed to make you laugh, and it's a shame it has taken this long for the show to finally get some Emmy recognition.

Okay, so those are my picks for the funniest comedies. Do you agree? Disagree? Leave me a comment with your picks.


*FX wants another season of Rescue Me per The Dennis Leary drama about firefighters picking up the pieces after 9/11 earned two Emmy nominations this year. The third season is set to start filming early next year and will premiere next Spring or Summer. You can catch this season's remaining four episodes until the September 13th finale.

*Soap veteran Cynthia Watros is joining the cast of Lost per She'll play a mysterious passenger (aren't they all?) who might have been in the plane's tail section during the crash. Watros is best known for her stint on Guiding Light.

*Want to listen to what those Desperate Housewives listen to? Music from and inspired by the hit show will be featured on the soundtrack set to hit stores September 20th per Artists include Shania Twain, Liz Phair, Martina McBride, The Indigo Girls, and Joss Stone. Twain will contribute an all-new original song, while the others will sing covers of classic songs. The show's popular theme music will also be included.

*And finally, there's a whole host of premiere news today. ABC bumped Hope & Faith's premiere back to September 30th in order to air an extra episode of Super Nanny. Fox will hold off premiering That 70s Show and Stacked until after baseball season. Look for each show to premiere with a special one hour episode November 2nd and 9th, respectively. Finally, CBS has given a premiere date to its first Walker, Texas Ranger movie. Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial By Fire will debut on October 16th with show stars Chuck Norris, Sheree J. Wilson, Clarence Gilyard, and Judson Mills. Janine Turner will also star.

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow as I run down my favorite characters (oh, so many to choose from!). And as always, all the latest television news.

Monday, August 22, 2005

It's Drama Time. Who Tops the List? Plus it's TV on DVD Monday!

All hail the television drama. It can make us cry or laugh or both and sometimes at the exact same time. In its finest moments, the television drama can move us, inspire us, make us think, make us feel, or simply entertain us. As you can probably tell by now, drama is my favorite TV genre, which makes this list both easy and difficult. There are just too many excellent dramas on television currently, but alas, they must be narrowed down to the cream of the crop. Here are my top 5 picks for the best dramas on television.

5. Medium (NBC)- This show does an excellent job of blending Allison's (Patricia Arquette) home life with her ability. The realism in her marriage to Joe (Jake Weber) and day-to-day struggles with her three children doesn't paint life as a cake walk like many other shows. Allison has to make important choices between using her ability to help D.A. Devalos (Miguel Sandoval) solve cases and going home to tuck her kids in at night. Husband Joe is always there to pick up the slack, even if he feels neglected himself sometimes. Two stand out episodes: "I Married a Mind Reader" (Allison helps solve the old murder of a television star) and "Coming Soon" (Allison is convinced a good Samaritan is really a child murderer leading her to discover her dreams aren't always about the present).

4. Lost (ABC)- What more can you say about a show that helped save a network, inspired five supernatural new shows, and received 12 Emmy nominations in its first season? One of Lost's charms is its originality. It's difficult for a show that wants us to believe that there are polar bears on a tropical island, a heard but never seen monster, a mysterious set of numbers, the "others," and a host of other unexplainables - to grab a huge chunk of the mainstream audience and become a commercial success. But, Lost managed to do just that with its compelling storylines and fascinating characters, proving that good television is driven by good writing. I know I'm in the minority, but I wasn't expecting to learn what was down the hatch in the finale. I'm always up for a good cliffhanger, even if it pains me to wait all summer to get it resolved. Two stand out episodes: "Walkabout" (Locke's (Terry O'Quinn) past is explored and we learn he used to be in a wheelchair) and "Numbers" (Hurley's (Jorge Garcia) past is revealed along with the significance of certain numbers).

3. Veronica Mars (UPN)- This show would probably be higher for me if I had seen more than four episodes, but I think the same fact should give you an idea about the quality of this show. After only four episodes, scratch that and make it one episode, I was hooked. This is definitely the best show you're not watching, and one of the best shows on television. Veronica (Kristen Bell) is so well written and played by Bell that you can't afford to miss something this good. Seriously, it would be a crime. Even Buffy creator Joss Whedon is singing its praises. The dialog is smart and funny. Bell is a rare talent that doesn't let her undeniable cuteness get in the way - Veronica is one tough cookie! Two stand out episodes (keep in mine I've only seen four): "Clash of the Tritons" (Veronica must defend herself when she's accused of selling fake IDs - this episode is a stand out alone for the hysterical scene at the police station between Veronica and Sheriff Lamb) and "Ruskie Business" (Veronica works two cases involving matters of the heart while helping Logan (Jason Dohring) track his mother's credit card).

2. Cold Case (CBS)- Hands down the best procedural on television. It blends the gripping cases with the detectives' personal lives in a nice finely tuned balance. It's my personal favorite show, but the number one pick edges this show in the overall quality category. The cases are interesting journeys into the past complete with music from the year of the murder and excellent sets, costumes, make up, hair, and attention to time period dialog. One case from this season even dared to take us back to 1932 and the era of bootlegging. Kathryn Morris shines as Det. Lilly Rush giving her a believable tough edge despite her irrefutable cuteness. Stand out episodes: "Mindhunter" (Lilly tracks a serial killer whose trademark is to decapitate his all-female victims) and "The Sleepover" (Lilly opens the 1990 case of a young girl found dead after a sleepover party).

And finally.....drum roll please...

1. Everwood (WB)- This moving drama about the quirky characters that inhabit the fictional town of Everwood, Colorado never fails to move us and make us think. Even though the show started out focusing on Dr. Andy Brown (Treat Williams) and his relationship with his son Ephram (Gregory Smith), the show shifted to a more ensemble feel with interesting characters that don't always make the right decisions. Everwood is a family drama at its heart, but not nearly as afternoon special-like as old timeslot lead-in 7th Heaven. The show is driven by its real characters, these are people we can imagine getting to know. Sometimes we want to pull Amy (Emily Vancamp) aside and help her, and other times we want Dr. Brown to suffer for his bad decisions. These are not cookie-cutter perfect characters, they make mistakes just as we do - and therein lies Everwood's unmistakable charm. Stand out episodes: "Oh The Places You'll Go" (Amy graduates from high school while her mother battles cancer) and "Where the Heart Is" (Andy considers leaving Everwood to accept a position in Chicago).

Honorable mention goes to Alias, Law & Order: SVU, and Without A Trace. So, those are my picks. Do you agree? Disagree? Leave a comment with your picks.


*Mischa Barton, Matthew Fox, Debra Messing, William Petersen, and Quentin Tarantino are the latest additions to the list of presenters for next month's Emmy Awards telecast. They'll join Emmy host Ellen Degeneres when the awards air live September 18th on CBS.

*NBC's reality ratings stinker The Law Firm will finish out its run on Bravo starting August 30th. The show only aired a few times on the peacock network before it was axed. The full 8 episode season will run for six weeks on Bravo.

*ABC Family's newest summer hit Beautiful People is setting up a Melrose Place reunion. Grant Show will guest star as star Daphne Zuniga's (both of Melrose Place) estranged husband. Look for the reunion on the show's September 26th season finale.

*And finally, it's TV on DVD Monday. The cancelled ABC teen drama Life As We Know It's first and only season (and partial at that) will be on shelves tomorrow. Also, look for The O.C's second season and Six Feet Under's fourth season both out tomorrow. For more releases, visit

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow as I run down my favorite comedies. Plus, all the latest television news.

Friday, August 19, 2005

We Want the Funny! Plus a Week of Favorites

We've all heard it before, what happened to the situation comedy? Was Friends the last great one? Is the era of the comedy over? Before we start predicting the end of the situation comedy forever, I think it's worth pointing out that television (like everything else) moves in cycles. In the 80s, it was the night time soap opera. You had Dallas, Dynasty, Knots Landing, and so on. Viewers couldn't get enough. In the 90s, it shifted to comedies and medical dramas like Friends, Seinfeld, ER, and Chicago Hope. At the end of the 90s and the beginning of the millennium, viewers were consumed by reality shows like Survivor, Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?, The Bachelor, and Joe Millionaire. And now in 2005, we are officially attached to our procedurals, but these too will pass. The sitcom isn't dead, it's just waiting patiently for the right moment to pounce. The real question is, why aren't there more funny comedies on the air? Bring on the funny, and the viewers will follow.

There has been a lot of talk about the traditional sitcom (think Friends, Joey, Everybody Loves Raymond) being outdated and replaced by the non-conventional types (think Scrubs, Arrested Development, The Office). The single camera shoots with no studio audience or laugh track are popping up more and more. One of the new season's most critically acclaimed shows My Name Is Earl fits this bill. Critics say it has the quirkyness of Scrubs combined with the off-beat nature of Raising Arizona, and it could prove to be a big hit for NBC, a network that is starving for one. So, what does all of this mean for traditional sitcoms? Scrubs and Arrested Development, although huge critical darlings, are not exactly mega hits for their networks. Arrested won the Emmy last year for best comedy (most likely saving it from cancellation), and it, along with Scrubs, received a few more nominations this year as well, but neither show has achieved the success of the more traditional Friends or Everybody Loves Raymond. Both shows were very funny, but they're very different from one another, proving that it's not so much the concept as it is the amount of laughs you can pack in to the half hour format. If we sit down to watch a comedy, we expect to laugh. It's simple, make us laugh and we'll watch.

Along with the non-conventional sitcoms, there's also a trend toward the hybrid hour long comedy/drama shows that we'll refer to as the "dramedies." They include break out hit Desperate Housewives, Gilmore Girls, and Veronica Mars. They're shows that bring the funny (sometimes better than their half hour counterparts), but also hit us with a big dose of drama. Much has been made about Housewives' 15 Emmy nominations this year because all 15 were in the comedy category where the show was entered. Gilmore Girls also entered itself into the comedy category. So, are these dramedies comedies? Yes and no. They're a blend of comedy and drama and could have entered into either category. But, both had a better shot at collecting nominations in the comedy category because the competition has been weak as of late. The drama categories were overflowing with deserving contenders, so much so that many were overlooked. It stands to reason that showrunners want their shows entered into the category where they have the best shot, and thus, these shows were entered into comedy.

Coming next week!!! It's a week of favorites. I'll be discussing my favorite dramas, comedies, characters, TV actors, and TV actresses. I'll do a category a day starting with my favorite dramas on Monday. After you read my picks, feel free to leave a comment with yours. All next week, don't miss it!


*ABC has scheduled a dance off between Dancing With The Stars' Kelly Monaco and John O'Hurley. The show's inaugural run ended in controversy when the judges gave Monaco and her partner, Alec Mazo, a perfect 10 in the final competition. Monaco went on to win, prompting fans to cry foul. Well, now's the chance to right the wrong. The live dance off will include judges' comments but they will not score the contestants. Instead, viewers will vote over the phone and internet for two days to decide who has the better footwork. The special is set to air September 20th with the results show airing September 22nd.

*Six Feet Under ends its five season run this weekend. The critically acclaimed HBO drama focused on the Fisher family funeral home, which set the stage for its darker storylines including the recent shocking death of Nate. The show takes its last bow Sunday night on HBO.

*And finally, CSI: NY's first season is headed to DVD a little sooner than originally announced. Instead of the October 25th date, look for the title on October 18th. The seven disc set includes all 23 episodes plus the CSI Miami crossover and loads of extras. Visit for the cover art.

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in next week as I run down my favorite dramas, comedies, characters, actors, and actresses. Plus, all the latest television news. Have a great weekend and remember the official kick off to the new TV season is only a month away!!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

What Happens 'Over There'? Plus the Sudsy Side of Procedurals

Okay, how many of you are watching FX's Iraqi War drama Over There? Hopefully, many of you. I know what you're thinking, why would I want to watch a television show for entertainment that focuses on a real-life conflict that is ongoing? The answer is because this show is gripping, informative, beautifully shot, well written, and not at all what you're thinking. I had my hesitations before I tuned in to the premiere a few weeks ago, but they were quickly cast aside. The amazing thing about this show is that the pilot was the weakest outing so far because it was too war-focused. Since then, the show has shifted to the day-to-day (or in this case hour-to-hour) work that these men and women do over in Iraq while also giving us interesting characters that continue to develop. Sure, there are the conflicts that arise, but they are dealt with in an even and well-balanced manner. These soldiers strategize and they deal with the guilt and pain that comes with each loss of life on both sides. The show manages to paint the soldiers and the Iraqis as human beings, something that seems to be lacking in the constant media coverage. A recent episode focused on an Iraqi prisoner who seemed ready to risk everything (including causing the death of an older couple) just to carry out his cause, but when the Americans brought in his sister, he quickly changed and told them the whereabouts of the missing missiles. In last night's episode "I Want My Toilets," one of the soldiers wrestled with the idea that he was ordered to assassinate a man who they believed was guilty of signaling the mortar attacks that prevented supplies from reaching the camp. After he took the man out, he was shown with a tear rolling down his cheek. In the end, the man was guilty and the soldier's action allowed the tracker-trailer trucks to bring the necessary supplies through the town and into the camp.

But Over There is not just about what happens over there. Take the story of soldier Bo Ryder, a high school football stand-out that was headed to college on an athletic scholarship. In the pilot, he was wounded when the vehicle he was riding in rode over a land mind. He lost the lower part of his leg, his chance at football, and most likely the chance to finish what he started in Iraq. The last realization seems to have hit him the hardest, as he struggles with his wife and the base doctors in Germany over whether he'll return to combat or not. Bo insists that he will some day, while his wife and doctors assure him he will not. Back in the U.S., there are the family members left behind. One wife is cheating on her husband nightly while drinking and neglecting her son, another is readying her base housing for her husband's new handicap status by installing ramps and hoping he returns soon, and there's the husband who joins the base support group only to learn that he is the only husband in the group. It seems that everyone has their battles, whether on the front in Iraq or back at home. Over There has its flaws, but for the most part it's a well executed drama that, at its core, is about the characters and not the political sides of the current conflict, a feat in itself.

Shifting gears a bit to the soapy storylines that seem to be invading your favorite procedural. Without A Trace spent most of its third season tied down with these storylines. Sam (Poppy Montgomery) and Martin (Eric Close) were in a secret relationship together that became complicated by Jack's (Anthony LaPaglia) divorce, which in itself was triggered by Jack's affair with Sam. Once Jack was a free man, he went back to Sam, but she was with Martin. Then, there was the saga of Jack's divorce. An entire episode ("Malone Vs. Malone") was devoted to the legal meetings between Jack and his now ex-wife. Sounds like you're reading about a night time soap, right? But instead, it's a procedural crime drama, which begs the question, do soapy storylines belong on procedurals? Without A Trace has always been a more character driven procedural that the Law & Order franchise or CSI, but I'm not a fan of personal storylines getting in the way of solving the crimes. For me, season three of Trace was its weakest. Back in the first season (pre-soap), the missing persons cases were fascinating and the sense of urgency of racing the clock kept me at the edge of my seat, but lately the show has been slow and the cases underdeveloped. Perhaps pushing the personal relationship stories overtook the cases.

I like it better when shows hint at attractions ala CSI and Law & Order: SVU. It's a case of what you don't say, says more than what you do. Now, I like my procedural with a little personal thrown in. We need to learn about the characters in order to understand them better. I need to know why Lilly Rush seems colder than the cases she solves or why Olivia Benson sympathizes with rape victims so well, but I don't need interoffice affairs. I understand the need for conflict, and clearly it's not hurting Trace's numbers as the show had its most watched season so far and finally overtook perennial timeslot winner ER, but I'm not so sure about the soapy edge that some shows have taken. Well, with a new season brings new possibilities, so I'm hopeful that Without A Trace and others can shift their focus back onto their core - the excellent and moving cases they're there to solve.


*NBC has confirmed that Joey's getting a new friend. Miguel A. Nunez Jr is joining the cast of the Thursday night comedy. He'll play a fellow actor and friend to Joey (Matt LeBlanc) who has a knack for getting them both into trouble. Joey premieres on September 22nd.

*Bravo kicks off the sixth tournament of their popular Celebrity Poker Showdown tonight. Players this time around include Rosie O'Donnell, Michael Vartan, Kathryn Morris, Penny Marshall, Amber Tamblyn, and Caroline Rhea. The first round airs tonight at 8 p.m. eastern with a reality star theme.

*If you're looking for an early look at CBS's new line-up, here's your chance. The Eye Network is airing a thirty minute special with clips from their new shows. Charlie Sheen, Jon Cryer, and Angus T. Jones, all from Two and A Half Men, will host the September 14th special.

*UPN released information on the contestants competing to be America's Next Top Model. They include a delivery driver from Arizona, a Dairy Queen manager from Michigan, and a criminal defense investigator from Florida. The new season starts September 28th.

*And finally, NBC released information on the poor souls (I mean, contestants) competing on Martha Stewart Apprentice. The ten woman and six men include an internet company owner from Missouri, a television newscaster from Michigan, and a natural foods chef from New York. You can see all sixteen contestants when the show premieres September 21st.

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for a look at the network comedy. Is it a dying breed? Plus, all the day's latest entertainment news. And, I'll be announcing a special theme for next week.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Who Survived Without A Trace's Shocking Shootout? Plus Hot Scoop on Cold Case!

So, the last time we saw Without A Trace's Danny (Enrique Murciano) and Martin (Eric Close) they were being shot at while driving down the road. The season finale cliffhanger left us all wondering if Danny, Martin or both were going to survive. Shots were fired right into their windshield! Could they survive? Inside TV magazine has the answer. WARNING: STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE SPOILED. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. According to the August 1-7th edition of Inside TV magazine, both Martin and Danny survive the shootout. The magazine has pictures of both actors working on the streets of New York recently. Martin is a little worse for the wear. He's shown walking with the help of a cane. But Danny seems to have come through the incident unscathed. The magazine also reveals some scoop from actress Poppy Montgomery (Sam). She says not to look for Martin's injured state to cause Sam to go running back to him. "My take on it is my character is still very much in love with [Jack]," she tells the magazine. END WARNING

Without A Trace is not the only Jerry Bruckheimer crime series with some new season scoop. In a recent article from the AP posted on Netscape, Cold Case's Danny Pino (Det. Scotty Valens) reveals that his character is going to get some more personal story lines. WARNING: STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE SPOILED. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. According to Pino, the start of the new season finds Valens still questioning his dead fiancee's suicide. He believes it was a homicide. Pino promises that this is "going to be a very baffling year [for Valens]." Series creator and executive producer Meredith Stiehm says the show's story lines are playing to Pino's strengths. "We've realized there's no limit to his ability, so we've been writing more and more for him." END OF WARNING.

In other Cold Case news, the new issue of TV Guide has more information on Sarah Brown's new character Josie Sutton. According to the August 21-27th edition of TV Guide, Josie is a character with baggage. Sarah Brown tells the magazine that her character's father died in the line of duty when Josie was a child. Brown reveals that there is more baggage to Josie, but we'll have to stay tuned to find out. According to the Futon Critic, Lilly (Kathryn Morris) will mentor Josie when she comes aboard. It seems that Brown is adjusting nicely to the Cold Case set from new pictures of the cast and crew filming a scene in West Hollywood for season 3:

From left to right: Jeremy Ratchford (Det. Vera), Kathryn Morris (Det. Rush), Sarah Brown (Det. Josie Sutton), and Danny Pino (Det. Valens)

Kathryn Morris and Sarah Brown


*Director/actor Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Jersey Girl) is set to guest star on Veronica Mars' new season. According to zap2it, Smith will play a convenience store clerk, ironically, who meets Veronica (Kristen Bell) during one of her investigations. His episode is scheduled to air October 5th.

*If you missed any or all of Lost last season or in reruns this summer or if you just want a refresher, you'll have a chance to catch up before the premiere. ABC will air a one hour special on September 21st as a lead-in to the show's second season premiere according to the Futon Critic. ABC isn't releasing any details yet, but the special is understood to be a recap show.

*Janeane Garofalo will guest star in a three-episode arc of The West Wing. She'll play a controversial media strategist hired by Matt Santos' (Jimmy Smits) campaign as the new director of communications. Her first appearance is set for the October 2nd episode.

*And finally, CBS landed another first place finish in the Nielsen race with an average 7.3 million viewers according to zap2it. The Eye network had seven of the top ten shows last week led by most watched show CSI. NBC and ABC battled for second, but ABC had more total viewers. For the full list of the top 20 shows, visit

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow as we go Over There
and under the covers with the soapy side of procedurals. And as always, all the latest TV news.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Fire Up the TiVo! Plus Peeling Back the Yellow Tape on CSI's New Season

Do you ever feel like the network gods are out to get you? I mean, why else would they schedule Everwood up against CSI? Or why would they cram Lost, E-Ring, and Veronica Mars all together on the same night and same time!? It boggles the mind. Anyway, here's a look at some of next season's most atrocious scheduling conflicts and how to watch everything you need.

Let's start with Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. NBC has its staple Law & Order: SVU, a must see for us crime show junkies. Meanwhile over at CBS, the new Bruckheimer crime caper Close to Home launches. I've heard great things about this show, and we all know that Bruckheimer and crime go together like, well, David E. Kelley and law. Speaking of David E. Kelley and law, ABC moved Boston Legal to this exact time slot after it was shoved out of its Sunday slot by the more popular Grey's Anatomy. I've never seen Legal, so that narrows it down to the other two. So, I'll be firing up my TiVo and watching the other.

The next conflict arrives on Wednesday nights. Lost moves to its new 9 p.m. time slot as does Veronica Mars (from Tuesday nights). Two of television's best shows forced to go head to head. This just isn't fair. Then, you toss in the fact that another new Bruckheimer drama (E-Ring) airs at the same time on NBC, and it's just a huge scheduling mess. Never fear though, TiVo is here. I've heard a lot of people express concern about Veronica going up against powerhouse Lost, but each show seems to have its own loyal following. Plus, it seems that UPN (thankfully) believes in the show. I hope that continues. There are the crossover viewers, such as myself, who watch both, but I think they will still watch both thanks to our good friend TiVo.

Thursday nights are just one huge mess. You have Alias, Survivor, CSI, Without A Trace, The O.C., Everybody Hates Chris, and Everwood all airing on the same night! That much good television on one night should be illegal. Spread the wealth, people! I'm not too happy about Everwood moving to Thursdays. Although, I appreciate WB's confidence in the show. Looks like I'll be watching Everwood live and recording CSI.

All these conflicts beg the question, why would the networks take such huge risks and pile all of their best shows up against other networks' best shows? Because they want a good shot at getting a good audience in time slots that they are currently lacking one. Take Thursday for instance, Thursday is the highest grossing night in ad revenue because it's the night all the movie studios pay the big bucks to advertise their new weekend releases. It's also a good night for companies to advertise their weekend specials and sales. All of this adds up to prime advertising time. Plus, the most watched show in primetime, CSI, packs a heavy punch with 30 million viewers, if another network can get just a few of them, then they have made some progress.

Speaking of CSI, I've got some new season scoop as promised. Stop reading now if you don't want to be spoiled. You have been warned. In an article posted on, CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler confirms that the two shifts headed by Gil Grissom and Catherine Willows will reunite next season. There's no word yet on just when the reunion will occur. Also, actress Louise Lombard is joining the cast. She played recurring CSI Sofia Curtis last season, but she'll be a regular this season. Thanks to Tati at Look Again for the heads up on this scoop. Also according to, Lady Heather (Melinda Clarke) will be making another appearance. For lots of spoilers on CSI's second episode of the new season, visit


*The Amazing Race announced the new cast for their family edition. Each of the ten teams is made up of four family members, and half of the teams have at least one member under the age of eighteen. You can check out each of the families at According to USA Today, the teams will stick closer to home this time around and log fewer miles. There are less elimination rounds, but producer Bertram van Munster promises that the challenges are just as tough. The 8th season kicks off with a special two-hour premiere on September 27th.

*ABC Family renewed summer hit Wildfire for a second season. Production begins this fall on the 13 episode season. The show follows 18 year old Kris Furillo (Genevieve Cortese) who gets a second chance after taking a job at a horse farm. No air date yet on the second season.

*Ben Affleck is set to write and executive produce the pilot Resistance for ABC. According to zap2it, the show deals with "a near-future United States that has splintered into separate nations following devastating terrorist attacks." The ABC deal puts him at the same network as wife Jennifer Garner.

*Kristen Johnson of 3rd Rock From the Sun fame signed on for a recurring stint on ER. She'll play a nurse manager brought in to take control of the hectic department. Her first appearance is scheduled for October according to zap2it.

*And finally, a story that pains me to no end. Kathie Lee Gifford is returning to TV. I know, I thought there was some sort of law against it as well, but alas, there is not. She's joining the syndicated entertainment news program The Insider as a special correspondent. You can catch Gifford in action when The Insider starts its new season this September.

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for the latest scoop on Without A Trace and Cold Case. Plus, all the latest television news!

Monday, August 15, 2005

The 4400 in 'Lockdown'; Plus It's TV on DVD Monday!!

Welcome back everyone! I'm well rested and ready to start my first full week of blogging, so let's dig right in.

I hope everyone is watching the intriguing second season of the USA mini-series turned supernatural drama The 4400. I had my reservations after seeing the gripping and fascinating first "season" (I say "season" because USA planned on releasing the show as a mini-series, but after its smashing ratings run last summer, extended it). I mean, how could the show continue when the big secret (just who are the 4400 and why were they taken?) was revealed in the final episode last summer? By continuing to hit us with interesting, emotional, and enthralling story lines. I like the way the show has spent some episodes focusing on different 4400s and how they are adjusting to their lives with their special abilities. I loved the teacher who gave each of her students a unique talent, and the man who cured obesity only to learn the painful side effects. All memorable and all unique.

The two episodes that have stood out for me are "Life interrupted" where Tom found himself in an alternate reality in order to meet and fall in love with Alana (just loved the ending with Lifehouse's You and Me) and last night's episode "Lockdown." Although it has been done before, I really liked the opening scene that found Tom and Diana face to face and gun to gun. It grabbed me right away, and I just had to know what led up to that confrontation. Of course after the opening song and a short commercial break, we were taken back to earlier that same day. Turns out, one of the 4400 sent a deafening noise throughout the NTAC headquarters with her cell phone in some sort of pay back for Jordan Collier's death (she believed that NTAC dropped the ball on that one). The noise caused all of the men to operate on an extremely short fuse. After NTAC was locked down, the men turned on each other. Diana had Maia in for a doctor's visit because she wasn't feeling very well and she had a strange circular rash on her arm. Holed up in a gymnasium, Diana defended herself and the other women when Tom came crashing in gun blazing. Luckily, a quick thinking doctor (guest star Tom Verica from the dearly departed American Dreams) intervened and Diana smacked Tom across the face with a 9 mm! Never a dull moment. The ending left us hanging as we discovered that Shawn can no longer heal, and he's sporting the same circular rash as Maia! There are only two episodes to go, and I have the unsettling feeling that the finale is going to leave us hanging.


* The cast of the upcoming season of CBS's Survivor was announced last week on The Early Show. Included among the castaways is a zookeeper, ex-NFL quaterback, hotel doorman, and magician's assistant. You can catch all sixteen contestants when the show premieres September 15th.

* CBS decided to move King of Queens back to Monday nights after a two year run on Wednesday nights. The show will anchor the network's Monday comedy block starting September 19th at 8 p.m.

* Ellen Degeneres returns as host of the 57th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Degeneres last hosted the awards during the delayed telecast following the September 11th attacks in 2001. You can see Ellen in all her funny glory when the Emmys air September 18th on CBS.

* Balthazar Getty is joining the cast of Alias this coming season. According to the ABC press release posted on The Futon Critic, he'll play an agent with a lot of deep cover experience who joins Syd and her team at APO.

* Finally, here's a rundown of the shows coming to DVD this week. The third season of The Andy Griffith Show, the fifth season of I Love Lucy, the first season of the U.S. version of The Office, the sixth season of The Simpsons, and the fourth season of Will & Grace are among the DVD sets to hit shelves tomorrow (8/16). For a complete list, visit

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow as we discuss the new season's scheduling conflicts (thank goodness for TiVo and VCRs!!), scoop on CSI's new season, and all the latest TV news.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The More the Merrier? Plus Veronica on CBS!

Three Bruckheimer crime procedurals are adding new cast members this coming season. Actress Eva LaRue Callahan joins CSI: Miami, Roselyn Sanchez helps find missing persons on Without A Trace, and Sarah Brown tackles unsolves cases on Cold Case all this fall.

According to, Callahan's character on CSI: Miami is "a crime-lab specialist named Natalia Boa Vista who focuses on cold cases." It's being called a "recurring role" right now. I thought CBS already had a show that focused on cold cases? Speaking of that, soap veteran Sarah Brown will appear in the third season premiere of Cold Case, and stay on as a regular. According to TV Guide, she'll play a character named Josie Sutton who leaves the South Side detective squad and comes aboard to homicide. Finally, Sanchez's character will play a former cop who joins the FBI's Missing Persons Unit on Without A Trace according to USA Today. With all of these cast additions, you might be wondering what's going to happen on our favorite shows. Hopefully, nothing. Like many of you, I'd like to see the existing characters get more storylines. It seems that we barely know the characters we've grown to love (or hate) over the past few seasons. Adding another one seems to only make it more difficult. Hopefully, we'll all be pleasantly surprised, and the new characters will add to the show without taking anything away. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed!

Enough with the downer type of news, and on with the good. Hopefully, you all watched the Veronica Mars double feature on CBS last Friday, but if you didn't you can make up for it tonight. That's right, CBS is airing another episode TONIGHT at 8/7 pm. I have to admit, I had never seen this show until last week when CBS aired the pilot and "An Echolls Family Christmas", but I LOVED it. It's a well written, well acted, and overall well done show. It deserves a much bigger audience than it gets. If you haven't seen it, tune in tonight. You can also catch another episode next Friday on CBS, and of course it's running in reruns all summer on UPN on Wednesdays at 9/8 pm.

QUICK CUTS (note I'll be using this feature in most of my future entries. It's just a compilation of the news of the day, but less indepth)

*BRAVO decided to extend Being Bobby Brown's run. Seriously? Even stranger, the press release posted on The Futon Critic from BRAVO calls it "the hit show." I swear I didn't make that up.

*Jane Seymour of Dr. Quinn fame is joining the cast of the WB Bruckheimer comedy Modern Men. She replaces the departed Wendie Malick who left when Jake in Progress was surprisingly renewed by ABC.

*Madchen Amick signed on to the new Freddie Prinze Jr. comedy Freddie. We last saw Amick as Joey's love interest in, well, Joey. She must have a thing for self titled shows.

*ABC released some spoilers for Alias' upcoming season. And no, it's not the same old Sydney will be pregnant stuff. Visit Zap2it if you want to be spoiled.

That's all for today. Remember to catch Veronica Mars tonight on CBS!! I'll be off next week (I know, few days on the job, and I'm already taking a vacation), but I'll be back on Monday, August 15th with all the latest TV news and info. Be sure to tune in then!