Monday, October 31, 2005

Spend Some Time in the Wonderful World of Neptune! Plus, TV on DVD Monday!

The lack of new television last night provides the perfect opportunity for my final impressions and thoughts on the first season of Veronica Mars. I completed the remainder of the episodes in a mini-marathon this past weekend on a football road trip (gotta love laptops!). I would be remiss if I didn't comment on my final thoughts now that I have completed the season, so this will be my final edition dedicated to the first season of Veronica Mars. Just so you know, I'm going to try to keep my review spoiler free so that those of you who still haven't seen it can do so without knowing all the answers. If I do include a spoiler, I'll mark it. NOTE: Photos are all from

There are very few shows whose DVDs I collect. In fact, there are only two, but I will be collecting Veronica Mars. Season one of this show is one of the rare television events that you can literally watch over and over again because it's that good. I don't think I have seen a new show burst onto the scene this strong right out of the gate with an almost flawless freshman year. And from what I have been reading, it's having an even better sophomore season. The most recent issue of PEOPLE magazine gave it four out of four stars, an extremely impressive feat since PEOPLE's critics rarely give three stars, let alone four. So, does Veronica deserve such critical praise? Simply, yes. It easily weaves between a mystery caper show to a high school drama show and every where in between. I found myself as wrapped up in finding out who killed Lilly Kane and who rapped Veronica as I am with who was stealing all the 09er's dogs or whether the school election was rigged. That's the charm of this show - it manages to get you involved in all of its mysteries. I love the way it easily weaves through smart witty scenes like Veronica breaking into her father's safe to find he was one step ahead to more poignant ones like Veronica learning the truth about her rape at Shelly Pomroy's party. More than anything, this show has heart.

As much as I loved the mysteries of the week (some humorous, others more serious), I was completely wrapped up in the season-long intrigues. One of the advantages to watching the show on DVD was that I was able to flow from one episode to the other without long breaks, and I found myself constantly wanting to watch more episodes because of the well written and executed clues for each of the mysteries that carried over from episode to episode. Another intrigue show that I love is Lost, but I know that some complain that the writers don't give us enough answers surrounding the island's biggest mysteries, and there's a feeling of frustration. Unlike Lost, Veronica Mars wraps up the big mysteries at the end of season one, but manages to leave just enough to keep us coming back for season two. We learn everything through Veronica as she learns it, and every episode seems to hold another clue, even if it's just a small one.

The most famous mystery from this show is the Lilly Kane murder. Lilly was Veronica's best friend and the daughter of software billionaire Jake Kane and sister to Duncan Kane, Veronica's ex-boyfriend. She was found bludgeoned on her pool patio. Veronica's father, Keith Mars, was sheriff at the time and strongly believed that it was Lilly's father Jake who killed her. With no evidence to prove his case, Keith is run out of office and opens a private investigator business where Veronica works as a receptionist after school. Eventually, the new sheriff arrested and convicted someone else in the Lilly Kane murder, but Veronica and Keith believe the police have the wrong man, and thus, we are off and running on season one.

There are many more mysteries to Veronica Mars, and like intrigue show Medium, there is no point in trying to solve any of them. The writers will always surprise you with their clever and creative plots. This show has everything: strong writing, clever wit, creative mysteries, excellent acting and a charming, flawed and wonderful protagonist. I watched the first two episodes of season two that I had saved, and things are looking just as strong. **SPOILER ALERT (First 2 eps of Season 2)** I'm not sure how I feel about Veronica not working with her dad or her dad's run for sheriff, but the show is so good that it really isn't bothering me! **END ALERT** If you haven't had the pleasure of spending time in Neptune with Veronica and all the other wonderful characters, then run right out to your nearest video rental place and rent it. Or better yet, just go ahead and save yourself the rental fee, because after you watch it, you'll be running out to buy it!

Stand Out Episodes: All of them! If I have to narrow it down, I'd go with "Meet John Smith," "Silence of the Lamb," "Clash of the Tritons," "A Trip to the Dentist" and "Leave it to Beaver." The pilot will always hold a special place in my heart as well because it is one of the most brilliant pilots I have ever seen. It's rare to find a pilot that is actually a stand out episode for the series. OVERALL SEASON 1 GRADE: A+

STARTING NEXT WEEK... I'll be discussing Veronica along with Lost when they both return with new episodes. Yes, I will finally be caught up with the rest of America and ready to watch the episodes live! That's next week on Pass the Remote.

About Last Night... ABC won the first hour of the night with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, followed by a rerun of Cold Case on CBS and NBC's The West Wing. At 9, a rerun of ABC's Desperate Housewives won the hour, followed by Law & Order: Criminal Intent on NBC and CBS's movie of the week Vampire Bats. The final hour of the night went to ABC's Grey's Anatomy, followed by Crossing Jordan on NBC and Vampire Bats on CBS. For more on last night's ratings, visit Zap2it.

~Primetime Pass~
@8 p.m. - Simon takes Sandy to the hospital after she thinks she's having labor pains and he learns the truth behind her betrayal on WB's 7th Heaven. NBC hosts a three-episode marathon of Medium (all episodes are repeats).

@9 p.m. - The escape plan gets put in jeopardy when Abruzzi finds himself demoted in the prison hierarchy and the inmates dig themselves into a hole on Fox's Prison Break. Over at the WB, freshman show Related moves to its new timeslot. Tonight, Rose stars in her first play, but she has to be nude.


*It's a Dukes of Hazzard reunion on the WB's Smallville. Series regular John Schneider will be joined by former Dukes co-star Tom Wopat on the November 3rd episode. Wopat will play a senator who comes to town to enlist campaign help from his old friend (Schneider). For more on the appearance as well as the antics the pair pulled on the set together, visit Zap2it.

*And finally, it's TV on DVD Monday! Look for Sex and the City on store shelves tomorrow. The set includes the entire series' 94 episodes on 20 discs! Also hitting shelves tomorrow, The Brady Bunch (season 4), Fame (season 1) and 21 Jump Street (season 3). For more on tomorrow's releases, visit

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for all the latest television news, Primetime Pass and find out About Last Night! Happy Halloween everyone!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Charlotte Unlocks a Mysterious Web on 'Alias,' 'Everwood' Weaves a More tangled One and the FBI Gets Caught in a Family One!

Despite the CSI rerun, it was still an overloaded night of television last night. Let's go ahead and dig right in with last night's Alias. You have to love the old Alias bait-and-switch. First they reveal the cryogenically frozen man, and we're left scratching our heads. Ok, you guys didn't think it was going to be Vaughn, right? I'll admit the thought crossed my mind, but I knew better than to expect the obvious with this show. Then, they tell us that the frozen man is Renee's father. He got involved in Prophet 5 after Renee's medical bills kept adding up (she was a sickly child). He allowed Prophet 5 to conduct their experiments on him in exchange for some serious cash. The last time Renee saw her father he was injected with something and dragged off. The heartwarming reunion between father and daughter was abruptly cut short when an observant Syd realized that "not-Dad" shouldn't have known about the beacon. And all the men dressed in black outside the building weren't trying to kidnap "not-Dad," but rather trying to rescue him. We learned at the end of the episode that "not-Dad" was actually Dr. Desantis, the man who conducted all of the experiments for Prophet 5. No wonder they wanted this guy back so badly! Just a side note, but am I the only one who wanted my very own "Charlotte?" I mean, this little mechanical spider could read documents through steel, allowing our favorite APO members to learn about Desantis' work! Marshall is just so crafty. Elsewhere, Sloane manipulated the only hold-out Senator on his clearance reinstatement for APO, so he's back. The only problem is that he has to work for Gordon Dean if he wants to help his daughter, so he'll be essentially spying on APO for Dean so Dean can be sure to stay at least one step ahead of Syd and co. I guess this is what APO gets for trusting Sloane in the first place.

Some of the best episodes of Everwood usually involve the hysterical interaction between Harold and Andy, so when I heard that these two, along with Bright and Ephram, would be taking a weekend camping trip, I was so there! It's so much fun to watch two very talented actors play off of each other the way these two do. Their exchanges are the best on television! I also loved the conversation between Bright and Ephram on whether or not Bright could deal with Hannah's assertion that she does not believe in having premarital sex "until after you're married" (loved that quote from Bright!). This conversation was especially great when you contrast it to the one Amy and Hannah had in the costume store. Hannah was gushing about Bright's no-big-deal attitude when she told him about her beliefs. Meanwhile, Bright makes the decision to break up with her as soon as he gets back, even though he realizes he's being a jerk. I really didn't think he would do it. Ok, for a moment or so I thought he would, but then when I saw him watching her through the window, I knew he was way past that stage. So, Ephram returned to Everwood because he's still in love with Amy. What a tangled web my dear Everwood weaves. Amy gets caught up in a charity haunted house debacle with Reid, and comes away thinking he doesn't have any interest in her. But Reid is a tricky one, and catches her off guard by kissing her the next day. Amy tells Hannah later at Nina's restaurant, Andy overhears it (and he knows about Ephram) and now it looks like my favorite teenage couple ever will not be getting back together any time soon. There's one thing I can always count on, though, and it's the guarantee that this show will always give me an awesome, first rate episode each week. The surprise this season has been that each week keeps getting better and better.

Go ahead and throw the tomatoes. I can take it, I swear. But, I will not bash Agent Delgado on Without A Trace. I'm really liking her, as in, she's quickly becoming one of my favs along with Viv and Danny. She's feisty, and that's something that this show was missing. I know I wasn't a huge fan of the new girl on Cold Case, but she was different. First of all, that show is supposed to focus on Lilly and her crusade to solve the unsolved and the new girl added zero, zip, zilch. Delgado adds something to Without A Trace, which is much more of an ensemble show than Cold Case anyway. She has an edge from working vice and, as we learned last night, she comes from a traditional family and she broke out of the mold. This experience was especially helpful last night when the team was searching for a young Korean woman named Wendy who went missing from her family's deli. Wendy was also raised in a traditional family, but, as she told her brother, she wanted more than that life now that she was an adult. She had gotten mixed up in an arranged engagement to a man who turned out to be gay. They even staged a break up scene for their families in order to protect his secret. She was also involved with some not-so-nice guys that she met through an internet dating service, one of whom, posted a nasty ad that instructed guys to climb through her window and they'd get whatever they wanted. Despite all the wrong men in her life, it ended up being her brother who was worst of all. In a fit of rage (and a page ripped right out of Cold Case's playbook), he killed her with a found piece of wood in an alley outside the deli because she was getting out of the traditional life all together and he was going to have to stay. It was a bummer to find out that the missing person was really a murder victim. A lot of the time on this show, they turn up alive. I guess it's a sobering reminder that many real missing persons cases don't end well. I thought this was a strong outing for this show, and further proof that it's back on the right track.

About Last Night... CBS once again dominated the night. At 8, the eye network's Survivor: Guatemala took the hour, followed by a tie between ABC's Alias and reruns of NBC's Joey and Will & Grace. At 9, a repeat episode of CBS's CSI easily won the hour, followed by NBC's The Apprentice and Fox's movie Maid In Manhattan. The final hour of the night went to CBS's Without a Trace, which had a larger audience than NBC's ER and ABC's Primetime combined. For more on last night's ratings, visit Zap2it.

~Primetime Pass~
@8 p.m. - Fox's The Bernie Mac Show airs a special Halloween episode. Zombies invade the Mac house after Jordan is left in charge of the babysitting. He watches a DVD and scares himself into believing zombies are attacking his house.

@9 p.m. - Marines serving in a unit that lost 48 men in combat get new homes in their special homecoming on NBC's Three Wishes.

@8 p.m. - It's do or die time for the candidates on NBC's The West Wing when they are both faced with the abortion debate.

@10 p.m. - Woody and Macy work an old missing persons case after the body surfaces in a park while Jordan struggles with her issues with commitment after a violent husband/wife murder case on NBC's Crossing Jordan.


*ABC is bringing back Dancing With the Stars at the beginning of next year. The celebrity dance competition will fill in for Alias while star Jennifer Garner takes her maternity leave from the show. That places the show on the Thursday night schedule at 8 p.m. EST. The competition will run 8 weeks through January and February starting January 5th. No details yet on any of the celebrity contestants, but there will be an American Idol-type results show this time around.

*Lifetime is pulling the plug on the longest running original cable series Strong Medicine after 6 years on the air. The show averages 2 1/2 million viewers and has aired 132 episodes. Lifetime feels that the program has run its course and it's time to send it off. The show stars Rick Schroder and Rosa Blasi. It will end its run early next year.

*And finally, you like her, you really like her!! That's right Wednesday's episode of UPN's Veronica Mars scored its largest audience ever! More than 3 1/2 million viewers tuned in the other night. That may not sound like a lot compared to timeslot rival Lost's more than 20 million a week, but it's a huge feat for a show that usually averages around 2 million. Veronica got an extra push this week because ABC aired a repeat of Lost. You go girl! In other ratings news, it was a different story for Fox's coverage of the World Series this year. The broadcasts received their lowest ratings ever for the network.

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in Monday for my final thoughts on Veronica's first season (I'll have the DVDs finished then) and Primetime Pass, About Last Night and all the latest television news!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Dust off Your Brooms, It's Time to Go Sweeping!

Yes, we are about to enter the first of four hectic, fun and stunt-erific television periods known as "Sweeps." Sweeps month is the term used to describe the four months a year (November, February, May and July) when networks and advertisers set their ad rates for all their current primetime timeslots. So, networks roll out the red carpet with specials, stunt casting, disaster flicks, major plot developments etc. To help you navigate this complicated and convoluted television jungle, I've compiled sweeps news on your favorite shows. As more information becomes available about upcoming episodes, guest stars and plot points, I'll be sure to update you here on Pass the Remote. Be sure to stay tuned! Here's the latest info, and let me warn you that only the MAJOR spoilers have warnings before them:

Alias - (ABC) New APO Agent Rachel Gibson gets sent on her first solo mission and Syd guides her through it. Also, **SPOILER ALERT** Look for Michael Vartan to possibly return for an episode or two next month according to Michael Ausiello at There's no word on who he'll play (don't assume it's Vaughn) or whether he'll appear in flashbacks or in the present. TV Guide is reporting that Vartan reached a deal with Alias and will return sometime this season. He was back on the set earlier this month. I guess we'll have to watch to find out just how and when he'll be back. **END SPOILER ALERT**

CSI - (CBS) Look for a special two-part episode to air the first and second weeks of November. In the two-parter, the Las Vegas Police Department is put under investigation after the shooting of one of its own. Grissom suspects it's a case of friendly fire. For more on this special two-part episode (including spoilers), visit CSI Files. In other CSI news, the New York and Miami editions will crossover November 7th and 9th. NY's Gary Sinise will travel to Miami to track an escaped serial killer with the Miami team. Two nights later, Miami's David Caruso will travel to New York to help Mac and co after the escapee takes a hostage and heads for the Big Apple. For more on this crossover (including some spoilers), visit Zap2it. Both episodes will feature the television debut of Madonna's new single "Hung Up."

Cold Case - (CBS) Lilly will revisit one of her first cases in homicide. A recent gang shooting victim turns out to be the brother of her first homicide she worked back in 1999. Also, Lilly reopens a case after a recycled computer yields an interesting diary belonging to a young woman who died from a stress-induced heart attack after her company crashed.

Desperate Housewives - (ABC) Looks like we're going to meet George the pharmacist's mother in the November 13th episode (tentative). Veteran soap actress Linda Dano will guest star as needy George's mother. According to Dano's official site, she comes to his need and tries to get George to confess that he wants Bree all to himself.

Everwood - (WB) This show has a lot of key plot developments in store next month, and if you don't want to know any of them, stop reading now until the end of this show's segment. Amy finally asks out med student Reid, Hannah leaves the town of Everwood after her father dies and Bright's left picking up the pieces and Jake reaches a turning point when a friend suffers a critical injury during a cycling event.

Gilmore Girls - (WB) **SPOILER ALERT** Jess comes back into town and makes Rory rethink her Yale drop-out decision, Rory's dad shows up for the Thanksgiving episode, Rory gets some unsettling news about Logan, someone from Luke's past shows up and throws a kink into his relationship with Lorelai and Rory and Lorelai work toward mending their strained relationship. For more on these upcoming sweeps episodes, visit Zap2it. **END SPOILER ALERT**

Las Vegas - (NBC) Look for one of the cast members to leave forever. Also, there's a 1962 "Rat Pack" episode and a comic book convention episode. The "Rat Pack" episode will feature all the characters dressed in 1962 attire. The comic book episode will morph in and out of comic book covers and live action scenes in a similar tradition to Sin City. For more on these sweeps episodes, visit Zap2it.

Law & Order: SVU - (NBC) One of the main characters will get shot in the November 8th episode according to Mike Ausiello at TV

Lost - (ABC) Charlie gets jealous when another castaway shows interest in Claire, Sawyer's wound becomes life threatening, we delve into what happened to the survivors in the tail section of the plane during their 48 days on the island, we learn some back story on Ana-Lucia and more on Kate and according to TV Guide, **SPOILER ALERT** one of the female castaways will die. **END SPOILER ALERT**

Medium - (NBC) A special 3-D episode is planned for November 21st. In the episode, Allison realizes that there is a new dimension to the way she views art. Viewers will receive 3-D glasses with their November 17th edition of TV Guide (also available on newsstands). And coming soon, you will be able to visit NBC's web site or TV Guide's to find out where to get a free pair in your area.

Prison Break - (Fox) Four new episodes, including the Fall finale on November 28th. Leading up to the big finale, Veronica and Nick get closer to the truth and the people behind the frame-up, Michael has a shocking conjugal visitor, C-Note finds his way onto the escape team and Lincoln's execution draws only minutes away when the team decides to make a break for it.

Two and a Half Men - (CBS) Martin Sheen will guest star along side his son, Charlie, in the November 7th episode. He'll play the father of Charlie's neighbor, Rose.

Veronica Mars - (UPN) Look for Joss Whedon (Buffy and Angel creator) to guest star next month. Whedon made some noise recently when he watched the show and called it, "the best show ever." Also on the guest star docket, Allyson Hannigan and Harry Hamlin return. Veronica further investigates the past when she stumbles upon her mother's old high school report and the results of the sheriff's election are announced. For more info on next month's episodes, visit the spoiler rich Spoiler Fix.

Without A Trace - (CBS) Look for a gluttony of guest stars next month on this show. Academy Award nominee Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio will begin a recurring role starting November 24th. She'll play an FBI Agent who enlists the help of Jack and co to find her missing husband, a fellow FBI Agent and friend of Jack's, who leaves a disturbing message for his wife (Mastrantonio) on their answering machine. The message alludes to the cold-blooded murder of his partner earlier that night. Other guest stars include Desperate Housewives' Andrea Bowen, Alex Kingston, Laurie Metcalf and Gordon Clapp. Also on tap, a November 3rd episode that finds Jack and Danny traveling to Mexico to track down a missing wealthy American tourist and an episode told entirely from the perspective of a missing child's parents.

So there's what I know so far. As I said above, I will continue to update you on all the latest and greatest sweeps news on your favorite shows. So stay tuned to Pass the Remote, your source for sweeps scoops.

About Last Night... Fox's coverage of the World Series dominated the night, winning all three hours of primetime. At 8, NBC's E-Ring landed in second, followed by ABC's comedy block of George Lopez and Freddie. The second hour of the night found CBS's Criminal Minds in second place behind MLB coverage, followed by a rerun of Lost on ABC. UPN's Veronica Mars beat out WB's Related. The final hour of the night went to MLB coverage, followed by CBS's CSI: NY and a repeat of Law & Order on NBC. For more on last night's ratings, visit Zap2it.

~Primetime Pass~
@8 p.m. - Sydney and Tom discover that Renee stole the cryogenic container and Sloane takes desperate measures to get reinstated at APO on ABC's Alias. Chris has to take his younger brother and sister trick-or-treating instead of going to a big Halloween party on UPN's Everybody Hates Chris (Sorry guys, I jumped the gun on this one last week. This is the correct episode summary for tonight's episode).

@9 p.m. - Ephram reveals the real reason he returned to Everwood while on a camping trip with Harold and Andy, and Amy goes to a haunted house with Reid on WB's Everwood. The episode was directed by series star Tom Amandes (Dr. Harold Abbott).

@10 p.m. - The team searches for a Korean-American woman who disappears while working the night shift at her parents' deli on CBS's Without A Trace.


*ABC is ordering scripts for a potential reality show called America's Next Muppet. The show would allow viewers to pick a new Muppet for the popular franchise started by Jim Henson in the same format as American Idol. Several current Muppets would serve as "judges." No official word yet on whether ABC will pick up the show or not.

*And finally, it seems that last night's episode of FX's Over There was more than likely its series finale rather than season finale. The show started out well, garnering 4 million viewers for its premiere in July, but it declined in subsequent weeks and was recently averaging around 2 million viewers. FX President John Landgraf says that he remains proud of the series despite its low ratings. For more on the show and it's up-in-the-air status, click on over to USA Today.

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

'The Amazing Race' is Panama Bound! Plus, Who Landed on Top of the Ratings Heap this Week?

Well, it has happened. The Amazing Race has finally left the USA and headed to Panama - the country, not the beach in Florida where you can see 16 year old girls, Linz family. I guess I can understand their confusion, though, considering they were most likely expecting to stay in America once again. As I've said before, I enjoyed the American tour, but it's good to see the teams forced to face the same obstacles as the regular edition. First obstacle: language barrier. Perhaps one of the most difficult elements of Race (second only to directions), the language barrier usually provides for some great moments. Last night, most of the teams were under the common belief that if they simply add the word "el" to the front of an English word and then add either an "O" or an "A" to the end, then they are instantly speaking Spanish. This "insta-Spanish" is common on The Amazing Race, and it led to Rolly Weaver's "el passo" direction to the cab driver. I'm not sure if he realized it or not, but he could have sent his team to Texas instead of getting the driver to pass the other vehicles! Luckily for Rolly and the Weavers, the cab driver simply drove on to the next clue location. This was when another common Race tactic was employed, teams arrived at the location only to find that it didn't open until the next morning. Everyone was caught up and back on even ground.

The next day, teams struggled to find the correct man sleeping in a hammock (there were several decoys just like the spy task in D.C.) and then were sent to the Detour. Here's where things got a little tricky because this Detour clue came with the first and only Fast Forward of the race. The Fast Forward instructed teams to travel to the Pacific side of the Panama Canal and bungee jump off a large, high platform. The Paolos decided to go for it, but so did the Gaghans, which I thought was a little rough considering Carissa is only 9 years old. At the FF, the Gaghans kept their fingers crossed that one member of the Paolo family would chicken out. Even height-terrified DJ completed the task, screaming the entire way down with his mother. In a rare Paolo moment, DJ actually hugged his mother and she seemed happy. The Paolos then continued on to the Pit Stop. They, of course, arrived first and won....wait for it....a trip for four to....wait for it again.....PANAMA!! I'm sure they can't wait to go back. Maybe DJ can do some more bungee jumping now that he has conquered his fear. The Gaghans hurried back to the Detour, which found teams either searching for fake birds strategically placed in a forest or searching for instruments at four different locations. All teams easily completed their respective Detour.

Next, it was on to the Roadblock. One team member had to get either a base hit or a homerun off of a champion little league Pitcher. The Bransens, Linzes and Gaghans easily completed the challenge, but Rolly Weaver struggled a bit and Sharon Godlewski almost had another Godlewski breakdown (see last week's crying scene) before she finally got on base. In the end, the Gaghans and the Godlewskis were vying for the fifth spot, with the Gaghans coming out on top. The Godlewskis sensed their impending possible elimination/non elimination round ending, and started piling on all the clothes they could fit on their bodies. When they rolled up to the mat like that and found out that it was indeed a non-elimination round, Phil couldn't help but give them a hard time. He told them that it was illegal in Panama to wear your underwear over your clothes with more underwear on top. Phil cracks me up! I think he was a little disappointed that someone finally pulled off this silly trick on a non-elimination round. So, the Godlewskis were stripped of all their money and any belongings not on their back, but they're still in the Race. Next week, it's another Weaver breakdown!

About Last Night... CBS started off on top with NCIS, followed by Fox's MLB coverage and ABC's special It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. The second hour of the night went to Fox's MLB coverage, followed by Commander In Chief on ABC and CBS's The Amazing Race. The final hour of the night went to Fox as well for its MLB coverage, followed by a tie between ABC's Boston Legal and a rerun of NBC's Law & Order: SVU. CBS's Close to Home finished last. For more on last night's ratings, visit Zap2it.

~Primetime Pass~
@8 p.m. - Politics mix with the capture/kill list and JT must get to the truth on NBC's E-Ring, which as I reported yesterday, will air in its normal slot tonight instead of Friday night. MLB coverage continues on Fox with the fourth (and possibly final) game of the World Series. The White Sox lead the series 3-0 over the Astros.

@9 p.m. - No new Lost tonight, but there is an all-new episode of Veronica Mars on UPN. Tonight, Veronica helps her rival find who stole her credit card for Wallace's sake. With the Lost repeat, this is an excellent time to check out the equally as brilliant Veronica Mars.

@10 p.m. - It's the finale of FX's war drama Over There. The show has had an impressive, if not highly watched, run. A dancer plunges from the sky to her death and a local fish merchant is impaled by a swordfish on CBS's CSI: NY.


*Jerry Bruckheimer and Seabiscuit writer/director Gary Ross are teaming up to develop a new series for NBC according to Variety via TV Guide online. The new medical drama will focus on a rogue researcher tracking a mysterious illness. Its working title is Invisible. So far, NBC has made a pilot commitment to the show.

*TBS will air an all-new digitally remastered version of the classic movie The Wizard of Oz next month. The airing comes just a few weeks after the movie's DVD release yesterday. The DVD version is the same as the one TBS will broadcast. Look for the movie to premiere November 11th with subsequent showings on the 12th and 13th.

*And finally, it's Nielsen Wednesday! CBS once again won both in total viewers and the 18-49 year old group. Fox and ABC split second, but the bigger story is the four week decline in viewers for ABC's Desperate Housewives. The show remains number 2, but it is losing its beginning of the season momentum. CBS was led by CSI (#1), Without A Trace (#4), CSI: Miami (#6), Survivor (#7) and NCIS (#8). ABC was once again led by Desperate Housewives (#2), Lost (#3), Grey's Anatomy (#5) and Commander In Chief (#10). Fox landed one top 10 spot with its MLB coverage (#9). For more on last week's ratings, visit USA Today.

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for the Sweeps Preview! I'll have the scoop on all the special episodes, guest stars and everything else sweeps related! Plus, all the latest television news.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

One Month Report Card...Who Makes the Grade?

We are one month into the new television season, so it seems fair to take some time and evaluate the new shows as well as all of our returning favorites. We've had a chance to view four or five episodes, decide whether we want to add any new shows to our repertoire and decide whether some of our favorites are still our favorites. So as we approach a little stop action in the new episodes before we reach the first crazy month known as sweeps, let's take a moment and evaluate this season's schedule. Here is my list of shows that I have been checking out, their status, how they can improve and their grade thus far starting with Monday and going through Sunday.

Surface - (NBC) This sea creature/sci-fi thriller made a splash with its debut, but has dropped off since the premiere, which is typical for new shows. The show definitely has its cheesy moments, but the underlying premise is intriguing. The show is at its best when it focuses on Lake Bell's character Laura. Room For Improvement...hire better writers who can write less cliche characters and plots (sea creature loose in the pool at a teenage party, girls in bikinis, the "mad" scientist, etc) and focus more on Laura's struggle to uncover the truth and less on Rich's quest for his brother. Status: Full season order. GRADE: C

Prison Break - (Fox) Intriguing show with great characters and an interesting plot, but the show's pacing is a little slow. Don't expect a lot to happen in regards to the great escape in an episode, and be prepared to suspend your belief. I had to drop this show because my plate was just too full. Room For Improvement... pick up the pace a bit. Status: Full season order. GRADE: B

Medium- (NBC) A highly creative show with original plots and surprise revelations that keep you on your toes. This is a well written show that has managed to hold on to everything that made it such a success last season. No sophomore slump here! Room For Improvement...right now, all cylinders are running smoothly, so if it ain't broke, don't fix it! Status: Full season order. GRADE: A

The Amazing Race - (CBS) I realize that the family edition is not very popular, but all the things that make this show the best reality program on television are still in place. I do enjoy the regular editions better, but the family style is a nice change of pace every once and a while. Room For Improvement... more challenges and greater distances (although, this is expected to return when the next edition starts later this season). Status: Full season order. GRADE: B+

Law & Order: SVU - (NBC) The best of the Law & Order franchise is back and just as strong as ever. This show is so successful because it mixes amazing writing, an extremely talented cast led by 2-time Emmy nominee Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni, and emotional crimes into a winning formula. Room For Improvement... fewer "divided" episodes where either Benson or Stabler is MIA (I know this is done so they can film two episodes at the same time, but it drives me crazy!). Status: Full season order. GRADE: A-

Lost- (ABC) This year's Emmy winner for best drama is living up to its name this season. The writers are giving us plenty of answers while also posing enough questions to keep us coming back. The hatch storyline is very creative and intriguing. Room For Improvement... less slow moving episodes like last week's journey through the jungle and more focus on the characters and how they interact on the island. Status: Full season order. GRADE: A

Veronica Mars - (UPN) I haven't been able to watch the second season yet, but it just got a Cheers in the TV Guide for its amazing second season. So, it sounds like all is well in Neptune. Status: Full season order.

Alias - (ABC) Yes, Vaughn is "dead," but that doesn't mean that the action spy thriller is as well. Syd and co are still in business, except this season they're training two new recruits and tracking down the man responsible for Vaughn's "death." Room For Improvement... more Syd-in-action scenes once she and star Jennifer Garner are no longer pregnant and more classic Marshall scenes. Status: Full season order. GRADE: B

Everwood - (WB) One of the best shows on television continues to live up to the moniker. This show has been even more character heavy this season than in the past, and it's allowing the viewers to see deeper into the characters that we already love. Bright and Hannah, Amy and Ephram, Harold and Rose, and Andy and Nina all show how complicated human relationships can be and in all different ways. Room For Improvement... I think I'm going to file this one under if it ain't broke, don't fix it! Status: Full season order. GRADE: A

CSI - (CBS) America's most watched television show is back, and this time, the teams are back together, Nick is still dealing with the after effects of his frightening experience during last season's finale (take notes Cold Case) and Warrick is married. The show just aired one of the strongest and most emotional episodes in the series' history last Thursday night with the triple murder of a family and the search for possibly still alive daughter. Room For Improvement... more emotional cases like last week's to balance out the usual campy fare. Status: Full season order. GRADE: B

Without A Trace - (CBS) The soapy-est of all the procedurals has been laying low so far this season. We've had more case-based episodes and less relationship drama, which is a very good thing for this show. The more it steers clear of love triangles and divorce episodes the better. I hope it keeps up its current pace. The show is still lacking the same emotional punch that it used to deliver, and the new girl (Roselyn Sanchez) seemed unnecessary last week. Room For Improvement... make more use of Sanchez's character (she seems like a firecracker and an asset to the show) and give us more deeply engaging cases. Stay clear of office romances and the so tempting Jack/Sam/Martin storyline. GRADE: B

Cold Case - (CBS) Easily the best of the procedurals, but this show has struggled a little so far this season. The addition of another character has thrown it completely out of whack, the characters are lacking their usual emotional edge, there's no follow up to Lilly's traumatic shooting last season and the cases, with a few exceptions, have not resonated emotionally like in previous seasons. I think (hope) this will all be fixed now that Josie Sutton is gone. Room For Improvement... more Lilly, more Lilly, more Lilly. I really can't say it enough. She's the heart and soul of this show and it's a big mistake to diminish her role or underestimate her importance. We need to see the after effects of her encounter with George before we grow more impatient, and more psychological cases where we explore why someone would kill and less cases with the least obvious suspect as the "doer." Status: Full season order. GRADE: B+

Desperate Housewives - (ABC) After a top notch first season and premiere this season, I have been the most disappointed in this show. I know creator Marc Cherry has said that he and his writers are going out on some limbs right now, but it's just not working. I'm losing interest fast in this show, and that's something that I didn't think would ever happen. Gabby and Carlos are the only bright spot this season. Room For Improvement... where to begin? We need to see the ladies of Wisteria working together instead of running their own separate storylines. Less George (like no more scenes with him) and Bree, more Gabby and Carlos and please give Lynette something to do other than feel guilty! Bring back the satiric element that's so sorely missing this season. Status: Full season order. GRADE: C

So, there are my thoughts and grades on the shows so far this season. What do you think? Are you loving new shows, hating old ones, or a combination of both? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

About Last Night... CBS started off the night on top with its comedy block of The King of Queens and How I Met Your Mother, followed by Wife Swap (football on the West Coast) on ABC and Surface on NBC. At 9, CBS stayed on top with comedies Two and a Half Men and Out of Practice, followed by Monday Night Football on ABC and NBC's Las Vegas. The final hour of the night went to CBS's CSI: Miami, followed by NBC's Medium and football on ABC. For more information on last night's ratings, visit Zap2it.

~Primetime Pass~
@8 p.m. - The Peanuts gang celebrates Halloween by looking for the Great Pumpkin on ABC's classic Halloween special It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. Rory celebrates her 21st birthday and receives a visit from guest star Madeleine Albright (as herself) on WB's Gilmore Girls.

@9 p.m. - The teams finally get the clue that takes them out of the USA on CBS's The Amazing Race. Mac decides to do things her way when a terrorist enters the country on Commander In Chief on ABC.

@10 p.m. - Denny Crane gets a sexual harassment complaint filed against him on ABC's Boston Legal. Annabeth prosecutes a case involving a woman who claims that God told her to murder her husband on CBS's Close to Home.


*NBC was just punking us when it said that E-Ring and Three Wishes would swap timeslots for one week. Turns out, the network thought better of the decision after both shows had their best showings yet this season. This means that E-Ring will air during its regular Wednesday slot this week and subsequent weeks and Three Wishes will do the same in its Friday slot. No word on why NBC orchestrated the switch to begin with, or why they decided to switch it back.

*The casts and crew members of several ABC and Disney series are auctioning off works of art to benefit children with special needs. Shows include: Alias, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, Lost and That's So Raven. Each show's cast and crew created wooden hearts that are be auctioned off through Disney Auctions, with proceeds benefiting The Help Group. The online auctions started yesterday and run through November 3rd. For more information and a description of the art, visit The Futon Critic.

*And finally, CBS's CSI crossover will feature the network television debut of Madonna's latest single off of her upcoming album. The CSI: Miami/CSI: NY crossover will feature the new single "Hung Up" in the beginning of both shows. Look for the single and the crossover to air November 7th and 9th on CBS.

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for thoughts on The Amazing Race and all the latest television news!

The Picture Edition (As Promised)!

As I was discussing earlier, Lilly from CBS's Cold Case had her hair down in last Sunday's episode. It's only noteworthy because the character has been ridiculed for her messy updo since the show premiered. I promised you guys some pictures, and here they are:

BEFORE (screen capture courtesy Kathryn Morris Online):


I think we can now officially put the hair thing to rest. Be sure to tune in later today for the regular edition with my one month report card! Which shows will make the grade? And be sure to leave comments with your thoughts.

Monday, October 24, 2005

'Cold Case' Lets its Hair Down ! Plus, TV on DVD Monday!

I missed a lot of TV Thursday night and last night and I still haven't caught up yet, so this edition is not going to be as jam-packed as usual. Nonetheless, last night's Cold Case had plenty to buzz about between Lilly's hair, Scotty's knack for falling for the wrong girls, information on Josie's past and an interesting case. I'm not going to say a lot about the case since there was so much other stuff worth buzzing about, but I did feel that it was one of the strongest of the season so far. I found myself very invested in these characters and their stories. Bettie's lobotomy and eventual death were heartbreaking, especially since she thought the procedure would cure her and she would be able to go back to her family. Even though I learned about such practices in history classes, it's still difficult to believe that we used to think lobotomizing people would actually cure them of their mental conditions. Amazing, since 1954 wasn't that long ago. I liked the ending in the art gallery with Otis and his daughter finding the painting of his mother because it brought the story full circle.

After reading Sarah Brown's statement on her official web site last week, I'm willing to forgive the rushed revelations about her character and her "conflict" with Scotty. I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that the producers and writers wrote in the silly, soapy storyline between Sutton and Valens simply because they were given a few hours warning before the read-through (according to Brown) about the network's decision not to continue with the character. Because quite simply, such a storyline is beneath this show and I really don't think that they were planning on hooking up these characters otherwise. I was glad to learn that Josie had been the victim of sexual harassment and not some sex scandal, and I enjoyed her stand with Scotty on her not having to explain herself to the men on the team. It reminded me of Joan Allen's character in the movie The Contender. She must be quite strong to hold her stance so firmly in the face of all those men on the team that assumed she was a "slut," as she put it. I do think that Scotty would have kissed her down in that case vault had she not stood her ground and asked him to step aside. He has a knack lately for entering into bad relationships. I'm glad the writers/producers didn't go there with these characters. I can only assume that this is the reason Josie leaves the squad. She can't work with someone so closely when she has feelings for him. Since Brown isn't in any more episodes, I guess her departure in the next episode will simply be a line or so explaining her absence. A big part of me is really relieved. Cold Case just hasn't been itself (with the exception of an episode a couple of weeks ago), and I really think her departure will put things back together.

And now to the most superficial buzz topic of last night, Lilly's new 'do. Let me preface this by saying that I was never one to harp on the whole hair hoopla because I've always felt that women on television take a lot of heat for their hair. Also, I never had a problem with Lilly's hair. I know they were going for a just-threw-it-up-and-ran-out-the-door look, and I always thought it worked. Lilly is a low-maintenance type of girl. I really liked her hair down, though. It was a lot less distracting. This new look is more glamorous, and more Kathryn Morris and less Lilly Rush, but I will adjust. After all, it's just hair! Hopefully, Morris will stop having to constantly hear about her hair, if nothing else! I know I promised a picture or two of the new 'do, so I'll post some in tomorrow's edition. What do you think? Do you like Lilly's hair better down, or was it better with the no-fuss look? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

About Last Night... The first hour of the night went to CBS with the last half of 60 Minutes (late due to football) and the first half of Cold Case, followed by MLB coverage on Fox and ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. At 9, ABC moved in front with the night's most watched program Desperate Housewives, followed by MLB coverage on Fox and the second half of Cold Case (late due to football) and the CBS movie Enough. The final hour of the night went to ABC with Grey's Anatomy, followed by MLB coverage on Fox and Crossing Jordan on NBC. For more on last night's ratings, visit Zap2it.

~Primetime Pass~
@8 p.m. - A secret is discovered and a scientist is killed on tonight's Surface on NBC.

@9 p.m. - The mystery woman's identity is revealed and Veronica and Nick get an explosive warning on Fox's Prison Break. Danny tracks down the identity of the woman in the photos with his father on NBC's Las Vegas.

@10 p.m. - Allison fears that her recurring nightmare of a massacre at the DA's office will come true on Medium on NBC.


*Mark-Paul Gosselaar is joining the cast of ABC's Commander In Chief. He'll play a slick media strategist. Gosselaar was last seen in a couple episodes of fellow Steven Bochco show Over There. He also starred in another Bochco show, the long running NYPD Blue. Look for his character to make his debut in this season's ninth episode.

*In the pick-ups/cancellations category, UPN is canceling low-rated Sex, Love & Secrets effective immediately. The Denise Richards-starrer failed to find an audience and the network halted production just a couple weeks ago. On the other side of the spectrum, ABC is picking up new show Invasion for a full season. The sci-fi thriller has held its own in a competitive timeslot.

*And finally, it's TV on DVD Monday! Look for Alias (season 4), Bewitched (season 2 in color), The L Word (season 2) and Little House on the Prairie (season 9) to all hit shelves tomorrow. For a full list of releases, visit

That's all for today. NOTE: Thanks to reader CJ, I have enabled the verification feature on the comments. This means that when you leave comments from now on, you'll have to type the word they display for verification. It should cut down on all the spam comments this blog has been receiving. I know they were a constant annoyance for you guys as well as for me. Sorry for the inconvenience. Anyway, tune in tomorrow for Medium and my take on the season thus far as we're about to head into the land of natural disasters, killed off characters and big named guest stars that we commonly refer to as "Sweeps." Plus, all the latest television news! And coming later this week, I'll have a special Sweeps preview! Don't miss it!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

'Lost' in the Jungle with the Others! Plus, 'Veronica' is Even Better than the Hype

It just isn't fair that two of television's best shows are forced to go head-to-head every week, but it is what it is and I continue to thank my TiVo every Wednesday evening for its noble service. I can not wait for the Thursday when I can bring you this blog filled with my ramblings from the previous night's Lost and Veronica Mars. It will be a glorious day for me, and it's coming soon, I promise. It has been so difficult trying to avoid spoilers for this show, but I've managed to do it. In the meantime, today we have last night's Lost and my impressions of Veronica's first season so far. First, last night's Lost. I love the episodes that explore Sun's and Jin's pasts , and last night was no exception. We learned how the two met when they literally bumped into each other at a park. But, it was Sun's heartbreak and Jin's humanity before their official meeting that really told the story. I really love these two, and I hold out hope that they can work through the resentment and find each other once again just as they did in the park that day. Sun's endless pursuit for her missing wedding ring gives me hope, just as finding it buried with the bottle full of messages that washed up gave her hope.

Onward to the jungle. I admire Michael's determination to find Walt, even if it is a little miss guided. Venturing into the jungle on an island where there are killer wild boars, polar bears, a heard-but-never-seen monster and, the seemingly scariest of all, "The Others" doesn't seem like the best plan, especially by yourself. Nevertheless, Michael set out without knowing where to look or what he would be up against. Luckily, Jin is a true friend and wouldn't press on with the other survivors without Michael. That meant a super close encounter with the creepy quiet "Others" on his way with Echo to find Michael. So, Jin, Michael and Echo are searching together. That left Sawyer to press on through the jungle with the survivors from the back of the plane. I can't wait to find out what happens when they meet up with the original group. We also learned that Jack did marry, but now his wedding ring collects dust in a drawer. What happened to Jack's wife? Will Michael find Walt? And what is going on in those previews for the next episode? And why do we have to wait three weeks to find out!!??

I'm not really sure why I didn't watch Veronica Mars last season. The only plausible reason I can come up with is it used to be up against The Amazing Race and Scrubs, so I didn't feel like adding a third show to the timeslot. I know, it's totally not an excuse. By the time I learned that it was an awesome show, I was too far behind. That's when I launched my master plan to catch up on the show over the summer and start watching it regularly in the fall. No such luck since the DVDs didn't hit stores until this month. Ever the steadfast one, I've been recording and saving the season 2 eps and having a mini-marathon of season 1. I've finished three discs, and I saw a few episodes over the summer on CBS, so I'm up to 13 episodes completed. For those of you who haven't seen this show and are thinking that it can't possibly live up to all the hype, then let me tell you that it easily surpasses it. This show is better than people say, and that's saying a lot because everyone from critics to Buffy and Firefly creator Joss Whedon (who will make his acting debut on the show next month) is declaring it one of the best shows ever. Veronica mixes together strong, well written characters, a procedural-feel with the mystery of the week, overarching season-long mysteries, high school drama and the perspective of one feisty, smart and interesting girl. Veronica isn't afraid to face the bad guys or the school bully with her biting wit and clever acts of revenge. She's the type of girl other girls, especially those younger, can look up to proudly. And she's played to absolute perfection by Kristen Bell. There's also an extremely strong supporting cast of characters led by Enrico Colantoni as Keith Mars, Veronica's caring and equally clever father. There are so many wonderful things about Veronica Mars that I could probably spend a week on it alone, but then I would be denying you the right to find out for yourselves when you spend some time in Neptune with the talented and wonderful characters.

A quick follow up to a story you read here last week. CBS is officially confirming that Sarah Brown's tenure at Cold Case is finished. Last week, I reported that the actress posted a message on her official web site saying that CBS let her go suddenly after shooting five episodes. Now, TV Guide. com is reporting that CBS is a little confused over Sarah's interpretation of the events. The network tells TV Guide, "Sarah was promised four episodes - as a recurring character - and she was in five." The network rep goes on to say, "we more than met our commitment to her." In a new posting on Sarah Brown's site, the actress writes that she is grateful for all the support she has received, and she takes a moment to clarify, writing, "I was hired after much ado as a 'Guest Start,' that would become a Series Regular after four episodes if everything worked well and all parties were happy." Later in her post she explains that she was written in to the fifth episode and beyond, so she was shocked when her manager called and gave her the bad news. She writes, "I'm not angry in fact. I'm just confused, like you. I wish I could tell you why I was cut from the cast so suddenly; I can't. I simply do not know. But, I can tell you how much I loved working with these people and how glad I am I got the opportunity to do so in the first place." You can read her full statement on her official message board.

About Last Night... Fox got off to a good start with MLB coverage, followed by a strong showing for NBC's E-Ring and ABC's comedy block of George Lopez and Freddie. At 9, ABC moved into the lead with Lost, followed by Fox's MLB coverage and CBS's Criminal Minds. UPN's Veronica Mars bested WB's Related for a fifth place finish. The final hour of the night went to baseball on Fox, followed by CBS's CSI: NY and NBC's Law & Order. For more on last night's ratings, visit Zap2it.

~Primetime Pass~ (extended edition)
@ 8 p.m. - Gordon Dean learns that Rachel is still alive and Sloane awaits his sentencing on ABC's Alias. Chris has to take his younger brother and sister trick-or-treating instead of going to a big Halloween party on UPN's Everybody Hates Chris.

@9 pm. - Ephram begins giving piano lessons to a young prodigy, Dr. Brown advises a brain tumor patient, Harold and Rose await the latest cancer results, and Delia decides she wants a Bat Mitzvah on WB's Everwood. A family of four is murdered and their bodies are no where to be found on CBS's CSI.

@10 p.m. - An old case is re-examined when Jack decides he might have contributed to a professor's wrongful conviction on Without A Trace on CBS. John Leguizamo joins the cast of NBC's ER.

@8 p.m - Vanessa buys her first car on Fox's Bernie Mac Show.

@9 p.m. - The Three Wishes team travels to Covington, Georgia on NBC.

@10 p.m. - Charlie breaks a code left at a crime scene that could lead to an assassination of a Colombian exile on CBS's Numb3rs.

@8 p.m. - Lilly re-opens the case of an elderly woman who died of natural causes, but had been using the identity of another woman who went missing in 1954 on CBS's Cold Case. It's also worth noting that this episode marks a change for our dear Lilly. She'll finally let her hair down at work (literally, we'll have to stay tuned to find out if she does it figuratively as well). It's only worth mentioning because Lilly's hair has been a popular topic of discussion and ridicule over the course of the show's two seasons. Tune in Sunday to see the change (NOTE: as usual, this show may get a late start due to football). I'll also try to post some pictures of her new 'do next week.

@9 p.m. - Susan encounters some problems with her book agent, Lynette's plan backfires, the police continue to suspect Bree, and Gabby hires the new lawyer on ABC's Desperate Housewives.

@10 p.m. - Jordan infiltrates a religious cult and Leslie Bibb joins the cast of NBC's Crossing Jordan.


*ABC wants more of Commander In Chief. The alphabet network picked up he new hit drama for a full season. It comes as no surprise considering Chief's ratings success so far this season. The show has been winning its Tuesday night timeslot, and it is a solid top 10 performer each week.

*Christmas is coming early for Monk and Dead Zone fans. USA ordered special holiday-themed episodes of both shows to air around Thanksgiving. Monk's episode finds the detective working to solve the murder of a cop who dies after drinking a poisoned bottle of wine. The investigation finds him undercover as a mall Santa. Look for Monk in a Santa suit on November 25th. The Dead Zone's episode will feature a return visit from psychic Alex Sinclair (Jennifer Finnigan), who helps Johnny solve the mystery of a lost and confused Santa. The episode airs November 27th. For information on both shows (and a few spoilers), visit The Futon Critic.

*And finally, the Parents Television Council (PTC) released its annual list of the best and worst shows for family viewing. Topping the worst list: Fox's The War at Home, Family Guy, American Dad and The O.C. Other shows on the dubious list include CSI, Desperate Housewives, and Cold Case. So what made the good list? ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and NBC's Three Wishes. For the full lists , click on over to Zap2it.

That's all for today. I'm off tomorrow, but be sure to tune in Monday for thoughts on Cold Case (it's Josie's last episode and hair-down-Lilly's first), Desperate Housewives, and quick musings on Thursday's line-up. Plus, all the latest television news!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

'Race' is all Work and No Play and 'SVU' Tracks a New AIDS Strain!

Nothing is going to make me dislike The Amazing Race. Not a tour of the USA, not teams of four family members, and not even the world's largest office chair! I love this show for good and bad, better or worse and all that jazz. Plus, we got a Phil promise in the previews for next week that the teams will finally leave the U.S., which I know made a lot of you jump for joy when you heard it. I, however, am enjoying the scenic route along this country's major highways and off-beat tourist attractions (like the aforementioned office chair) and even the more well traveled destinations (like the Space Center and Talladega). So, I will miss the look at Americana, but not enough to wish for the teams to stay here. Yes, I'm excited about the prospects that new countries bring. I have a feeling that our "new" country is probably going to be Canada, but new all the same. I guess we'll have to wait for the original format later this season to watch our ethno-centric selves struggle with language barriers and different paces of life. Last night's episode took us through Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Because of the path, we were greeted with a Phil-read message about Hurricane Katrina and its devastation to the region. The teams then made their way to Anniston, Alabama and the World's Largest Office Chair, which was exactly what it sounded like, but it was after the chair that things got a little dicey. Teams had to travel to Talladega Superspeedway, which left the Weavers in a bit of a bind since their father died in a racetrack accident. The kids didn't think that they would be able to get through it, but mom came to the rescue and pulled the team through. Luckily, a lap around the track was on something called a party bike and not a race car. The Weavers easily completed the task, and I couldn't help but get a little choked up over the whole thing.

This was not a good leg for the Schroeder family. They had a difficult time with directions and daughter Stassi had a breakdown at the Southern Colonel (pronounced "colonial" if you're the Godlewskis) mobile home retail lot (where teams spent the night) because her team decided just to take the 8 a.m. departure time (the latest of the three) instead of looking around for a better time. She kept insisting that every minute counts on the Race, and boy did she end up being correct! After a stop at a BP Station for a their next clue (yeah I know, but somebody had to pay for the Bransen's free gas for life prize last week and the umpteen BP ads during the commercial breaks obviously wasn't quite covering it), the teams headed to the Pelican State (that's Louisiana for the state nickname challenged out there) and a park where they found a Detour called "Work or Play." As usual, this Detour was a trick because "Play" seemed a lot easier with teams having to beat a dealer at Blackjack three times to receive a clue, but in reality, "Work" was easier because teams just had to saw off four chunks of wood from a log 12 inches in diameter. The Paolos easily completed the task and raced off to the next Pit Stop in the French Quarter of New Orleans. In their usual fashion, they ended up lost and finished second to the Bransens, who won a trip to Orlando to go with their free gas from last week. Other teams struggled with "Play," and some even switched halfway through. In the end bitter irony reared its ugly head as the New Orleans based Schroeder family got lost finding the park, never recovered, and were eliminated from the race in their hometown.

An intriguing hour of television last night on Law & Order: SVU as the detectives worked to find a killer based on a new, more aggressive strain of AIDS. The central question of the episode was whether Gabriel was justified in his killing of two members of the gay community who were haphazardly spreading the new strain through aggressive partying and methamphetamine usage (which affected everyone's judgment according to Gabriel and made them more likely to have unprotected sex). Gabriel's point was valid, but I just couldn't see a jury finding him not guilty of a double homicide. If we start justifying murder, then we begin a slide on a very slippery slope. Self defense is one thing, but like Casey, I found it difficult to connect Gabriel's actions to self defense. I thought her closing argument using the tobacco companies as an example illustrated the point well. In the end, the jury convicted him on both murders and the judge gave him the minimum sentence thanks to one of the victims' fathers. In a related storyline, we met Fin's son and learned (along with him) that he is gay. I thought Fin's final moment in the episode where he called his son was a nice ending.

About Last Night... CBS started off the night with a win with NCIS, which had a record setting number of viewers, followed by The Biggest Loser on NBC and ABC's comedy block of According to Jim and Rodney. At 9, ABC claimed first with Commander In Chief, followed by The Amazing Race on CBS and NBC's comedy block of My Name is Earl and The Office. The final hour of the night went to NBC's Law & Order: SVU, followed by Boston Legal on ABC and CBS's Close to Home. For more on last night's ratings, visit Zap2it.

~Primetime Pass~
@8 p.m. - Two U.S. Marines face a lynch mob amid allegations that they raped a young woman in Surinam on NBC's E-Ring.

@9 p.m. - Veronica poses as a sexy available coed to help a client while also dealing with her own relationship issues on Veronica Mars on UPN. Michael searches the jungle for Walt and finds that he's not alone, Sawyer and Jin are ordered to take their captors to their camp and Sun discovers that her wedding ring is missing on ABC's Lost.

@10 p.m. - A man collapses from a fatal wound to the heart during the San Gennaro Festival on CBS's CSI: NY. Russell questions the mysterious circumstances surrounding a fellow worker's death at Underlay's hands on ABC's Invasion.


*The WB is shuffling its schedule around, and no unfortunately, it's not moving Everwood back to Mondays. The network is putting Blue Collar TV and Living With Fran on hiatus. Blue Collar TV's Sunday night slot will be filled with Supernatural repeats. Friday nights will change more dramatically as the network starts the night with back-to-back episodes of What I Like About You, followed by Reba and Twins. New show Related will move to Mondays, with encore showings on Wednesday in its current slot. Some of the changes start as early as this week. For more information on the shuffling, visit The Futon Critic.

*CBS is releasing details on the upcoming CSI: Miami/CSI: NY crossover. Mac (Gary Sinise) from New York travels to Miami to track an escaped serial killer before he murders again on Miami. Two nights later, Horatio (David Caruso) will travel to New York to continue the search on CSI: NY. The crossover starts on November 7th and concludes on November 9th on CBS.

*Two shows are getting new episodes. First, Fox is ordering a second season of So You Think You Can Dance. The reality dance competition show will resume next summer. Second, ABC Family is picking up eight new episodes of Beautiful People. The summer drama's new episodes will be part of its first season and will debut sometime in 2006. Production begins this Fall.

*And finally, it's Nielsen Wednesday! Once again, CBS captured the most viewers last week and, for the first time this season, it also captured the most in the coveted 18-49 year olds group. ABC landed in second in total viewers. CBS was led by CSI (#1), Without A Trace (#4), CSI: Miami (#5), Survivor (#7), and NCIS (#8). ABC was led by usual powerhouse Desperate Housewives (#2), Lost (#3), Grey's Anatomy (#6), Commander In Chief (#9), and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (#10). NBC's highest ranked show was Law & Order: SVU (#15). For more on last week's ratings, visit USA Today.

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for Lost and my thoughts on my Veronica Mars season one marathon (HINT: I'm almost done, and I can't wait to start season 2 that I've been saving on TiVo!!). Plus, all the latest television news!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

New Sitcoms Make the Grade! Plus, Allison Learns Not Everyone Wants to be Found!

Just a few short months ago, everyone was ready to dismiss the network sitcom as a dying breed. Suddenly, they're hailing it as this season's biggest success story. Yes, it seems new life has been breathed into the genre this season. So far, the new comedies are benefiting the most from the resurgence. NBC's My Name Is Earl is holding its own in a tough, competitive Tuesday night timeslot, and it's faring very well in the 18-49 year old group. For the week that ended October 9th, the show was the top-rated comedy for that group. UPN's Everybody Hates Chris made a huge debut for the network, actually beating NBC's Joey in total viewers during the half hour the two went head to head. Since then, viewership has dropped slightly, but the show is still a big enough hit by UPN's standards that the network picked it up for a full season. Both these comedies fall into the non-traditional sitcom category because they are not filmed in front of a studio audience, they contain no laugh track and they are single-camera shoots (like a drama series and unlike your traditional studio set filmed sitcoms). But, the non-traditionals are not the only new comedies enjoying some early success. CBS's How I Met Your Mother builds on its lead-in's audience, King of Queens, each week. It has been returning solid numbers for the eye network, and it just earned a full-season pick up.

It isn't all good news this season for sitcoms, though. For every new comedy that is doing well, there are several older ones that are not. ABC moved According to Jim from 9 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays this season and it is off 26% compared to this time last year. Fellow ABC comedy and Tuesday night companion Rodney is down 22%. CBS moved its most watched comedy Two and a Half Men from 9:30 p.m., where it followed mega-hit Everybody Loves Raymond, to Raymond's old timeslot at 9 p.m. Although the show is doing well, the timeslot is down 20% from the numbers it used to get with Raymond. Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the season is NBC's Joey. The show was never a huge hit last season, but it's down 46% compared to last year. Even more troubling for NBC, the show leads off the network's "Must See TV" block, and Joey's troubles spill over to the rest of the Thursday night schedule. The once king of Thursday night has slipped in every hour of the evening, allowing CBS to easily step in and claim victory each week. The only returning comedy to make a big showing so far is ABC's George Lopez, which had it largest season premiere since 2002. Overall, viewers still seem to gravitate toward dramas more than any other genre as they composed 15 of the top 20 shows for the week ending October 9th. The highest rated half hour comedy landed in 16th (Two and a Half Men), but it does seem that the (new) comedy is slowly making its comeback.

Last night's Medium took us on a journey through Allison's past. She kept dreaming about her friend Lila and an earthquake. Meanwhile a councilman's 19 year old daughter was missing. In true Medium style, all three things were connected, but it's how they connect that makes this show so impossible to predict. We only see what Allison sees, and she only sees fragments at a time. It's up to her and the viewer to piece the fragments together into a completed puzzle. Lila had left for California just before she graduated from high school to build a career in show business, but she found herself in a bad situation with bad people. That was until an earthquake struck northern California and she was assumed dead along with her husband because their car went off a bridge during the strong tremor. Lila created a new identity and life through the help of a man who knows how to get the correct documents. Allison discovered all of this after thinking Lila had died because she turned on the news late at night to see if an earthquake had struck Arizona after a vivid dream. She didn't find an earthquake, but she did find a story on a teacher who saved a young girl's life - the teacher was Lila. Allison realized that the councilman's missing teenager had faked her death and contacted the same man that Lila had years before to start her life over again. Why? Because the councilman was sexually abusing her. Allison tracked her down, but realized it was better to let her follow through with her plans then to go back to her abusive father. I love how Allison's dreams lead her to the right places and people to solve the mystery of the week. They suggest where to look, and she has to figure out what it all means. There are no easy answers and no simple storylines on Medium, which makes it so intriguing.

About Last Night... ABC won the first hour of the night with Wife Swap and football (on the West Coast), followed by CBS's comedy block of King of Queens and How I Met Your Mother, and NBC's Surface tied Fox's MLB coverage for third. At 9, Two and a Half Men and Out of Practice moved CBS into the lead, followed by Monday Night Football on ABC, and on Las Vegas NBC. The final hour of the night went to CBS's CSI: Miami, followed by football on ABC, and Medium on NBC. For more on last night's ratings, visit Zap2it.

~Primetime Pass~
@8 p.m. - Rory makes a surprising confession to Logan, Lorelai learns that the Dragonfly Inn's street used to go by a disgusting name and Richard finally realizes that he shouldn't have let Rory drop out of Yale on WB's Gilmore Girls.

@9 p.m. - A close race to the pit stop fuels a rivalry between two teams and the Weavers come face-to-face with a tragic memory on CBS's The Amazing Race. Earl teaches an ESOL class to make up for making fun of people with accents on NBC's My Name is Earl.

@10 p.m. - CCH Pounder guest stars on NBC's Law & Order: SVU as the team investigates a string of murders linked to a mission of mercy. Denny Crane works on a case involving assault weapons while Alan Shore works to defend his former secretary on ABC's Boston Legal.


*The West Wing creator and former executive producer Aaron Sorkin is back at NBC. He and producing partner Thomas Schlamme will create a new show that deals with the backstage antics of a sketch comedy show (ala Saturday Night Live). The show, Studio 7 on the Sunset Strip, is guaranteed a slot on the 2006-2007 NBC schedule.

*And finally, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will make a cameo appearance on WB's Gilmore Girls. She'll play herself, and she'll give advice to Rory on the advent of her 21st birthday and her continued estrangement from Lorelai. The episode airs October 25th.

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for The Amazing Race and Law & Order: SVU. Plus all the latest television news!!