Movies & TV / Columns

Two Tivos To Paradise 01.18.13: Fringe, Dexter, Homeland, The Walking Dead, How I Met Your Mother, and more!

January 18, 2013 | Posted by Al Norton

Hello friends. Winter finally returned to Boston this week, although it was only for about six hours and came less than two days after we hit 62 degrees, so I really can’t complain. I could complain about the lack of sleep I am getting because of the twins irregular sleeping patterns lately but I don’t see myself getting a heck of a lot of sympathy, so why bother.

History is counting on folks being familiar with the source material for their latest mini-series…

Here’s the latest look at Syfy’s Defiance

Are you ready for Celebrity Apprentice All Stars?!?!

Got a wife and news in Baltimore, Jack, I went out for a ride and I never went back.
I Can Hear You Coming, We Know What You’re After, We’re Wise To You This Time, We Won’t Let You Kill The Laughter
Fringe’s five season, 100 episode run comes to a close tonight with a two hour series finale.

I must admit to not being a Fringe fan; I watched the first six episodes when they premiered and it simply didn’t pull me in, so I gave up. This is not to say I thought the show was bad, it was simply not for me. Plenty of people who I know to be smart, free thinking adults LOVE the show, including a few who aren’t regular TV viewers but who go out of their way to watch this one show, which of course is high praise.

Fans should be thrilled that the show not only lasted as long as it did – 100 episodes is an AMAZING run for any show, let alone one that’s ratings were as low as Fringe’s were – but that the writers and producers got to craft the ending that they wanted; they didn’t just get to time to write a real finale, they got a 13 episode order to build to it, too. There has been this sentiment among some (very vocal) fans of the show that Fox wanted to kill the show and frankly that makes no sense. There is no such thing as a series that its network doesn’t want to be a hit. Yes, there are shows a network kills because of poor scheduling but that’s not the intent, it’s the result. And there are shows a network doesn’t think will be a hit, sure, but finding out that their wrong is an executive’s favorite kind of mistake.

An example of a show that didn’t have the full support of its network would be Bent; the pilot got picked up for the 2011-2012 season and was held as a mid-season replacement. By the time the spring of 2012 rolled around there were new folks in charge of programming at NBC who clearly didn’t think that much of the show so they burned it off airing two episodes together over 3 weeks with the idea of, “hey, we paid to make these episodes, we might as well air them.” They clearly didn’t think the show would do well or they would have given it a better marketing campaign, or a good lead-in, or had its stars do appearances on the network’s talk shows, but it if HAD turned out to be a hit they would have been thrilled to have been wrong.

Fox moved Fringe to Fridays not to kill it but with the idea that their Friday numbers were not great and Fringe had a small but very loyal audience that was larger than the network’s current Friday shows, so if those viewers followed the show to Friday nights it was a win-win; the network’s numbers go up on a weak night and fans get more episodes of a show they love. Also, Fox clearly understood that much of the series’ viewership came from DVR’s, so it really didn’t matter where they put the show. Seriously, Fringe fans, the network kept the show on the air for ONE HUNDRED EPISODES; what do you have to complain about?!?!

I’ve Never Been Too Good With Names, The Cellar Door Was Open, I Could Never Stay Away
Showtime announced plans to launch Dexter’s 8th – and likely final – season earlier than usual, premiering it on June 30th and using it as a lead-in for their new series Ray Donovan.

Homeland’s third season will start on September 30th, paired with new drama Masters of Sex.

The network also revealed they had won a bidding war to land the new series from Skyfall director Sam Mendes and the film’s co-writer John Logan, with a direct first season pickup (i.e. no pilot). Penny Dreadful, described in the press release as a “psychosexual horror series”, is set in late 1800’s London, featuring well known literary characters like Dr Frankenstein and his creation, Dracula, Van Helsing, and Dorian Gray. Logan is a three time Oscar nominee (Hugo, Gladiator, The Aviator) and Mendes won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for directing American Beauty. Production will begin in the second half of 2013, with an early 2014 premiere expected.

There seemed to be an initial response from some Dexter fans that the show deserved the fall spot it has traditionally occupied but that makes no sense to me for two reasons; first, you get new episodes of the show you love sooner than later, so isn’t that a good thing?, and second, at this point what time of year a show with as strong a following as Dexter airs makes no difference as its fans will be watching. And frankly there’s less competition in the summer anyway, so that opens the door for more casual viewers to jump on board.

While most are still assuming that the upcoming 8th season of Dexter will be its final one, the showing setting new series highs multiple times in season seven may have opened the door for a 9th batch of episodes, at least on the part of the network. Obviously the main reason they are breaking the two hit series apart is to use them to launch new shows, which is a TV tradition as old as Betty White.

Like A Coin In Your Mint, I Am Dented And I’m Spent With High Treason
For the past few months we’ve told you about new programming the big five networks have in development but now we’ve entered the next stage, with pilots being ordered for the 2013-2014 season. Any show listed below has been given said order…

About a Boy is an adaptation of the book and movie of the same name and is written and executive produced by Jason Katims (Parenthood, Friday Night Lights), his first half hour comedy…Joe & Joe & Jane is about a guy who is stuck in the middle between his wife and his best friend who he works with to write children’s books…I am Victor is a drama focused on a cynical divorce lawyer that is an adaptation of a novel by Jo Nesbo. Executive produced by Katie Jacobs (House), the script is written by Mark Goffman (White Collar, Studio 60, The West Wing)…

Andy Samberg stars in an untitled comedy about police officers from the Parks and Recreation team of Mike Schur and Dan Goor…

It’s Time To Play The Music, It’s Time To Light The Lights
The Muppet Show video of the week…

But You Were Up To Your Old Tricks In Chapters Four Five And Six
Ratings Notes From The Last Seven Days…

Good sign for Jimmy Kimmel Live; the show has increased its total viewers each of its first three nights in its new 11:35pm time slot, beating The Tonight Show in demos on two of those three nights (Tuesday and Thursday) and topping The Late Show in demos all three nights…The Big Bang Theory set a new series high in total viewers for the second week in a row, with 20 million tuning in, as well as a series high in demos as well…Scandal won 10pm in the demos again with its own series highs in total viewers and demos…Grey’s Anatomy was up double digits in totals and demos but still finished (a close) second to Person of Interest in those measures at 9pm…30 Rock was up 27 %…1600 Penn was down 10% from what Parks and Recreation had been averaging in the 9:30 timeslot…

As has become standard, Shark Tank won the night in the demos…Blue Bloods was the most watched show of the night with 11.1 million viewers while also hitting a season high in the demos, as did CSI: NYFringe was down 20% in the demos and dropped to a season low in total viewers…Last Man Standing (+7%) and Malibu Country (+17%) were up in the demos… Sofia the First got off to a huge start, the highest rated debut of a cable preschool series ever with girls 2 – 5 and women 18 – 49. Its 2.7 million total viewers made it the second most watched preschool cable series weekday debut in 12 years, behind only the 2.8 million who tuned into the premiere of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in 2006.

Ravens – Broncos double overtime thriller had a huge night; the 35.3 million who tuned in made it the most watched Saturday AFC Divisional Playoff Game in 26 years!… The Miss America Pageant had its largest audience in 9 years, with the viewership growing 43% from the opening half hour to the final half hour…The 30.9 million who watched the Packers – 49ers game made it Fox’s most watched Saturday divisional prime time playoff game ever…

The Golden Globes had a strong night, up 28% in the demos and 17% in total viewers…All of Showtime’s season premieres were up; Shameless +26%, House of Lies +15%, and Californication +41%…The Good Wife matched a season high in the demos…Revenge was down 15% to tie a series low while Don’t Trust the B- dropped 20% in total viewers and 10% in the demos, reaching a new series low…37.7 million tuned in to the Texans – Patriots game on CBS, with 32.1 million watching the Falcons – Seahawks…E’s Live from the Red Carpet Golden Globes 2013 special was up 12% from last year…

The 8pm episode of Bones hit a season high in both totals and demos, as did How I Met Your Mother and 2 Broke Girls (technically the latter hit a season high in total viewers and TIED a season high in the demos)…Deception lost 20% of its demos in week two, going from winning the hour in that measure for its premiere to finishing third…Hawaii 5-0 won 10pm in totals and demos…The Biggest Loser matched last Monday…The premiere of The Carrie Diaries was up 60% from what the last new 90210 did in that time slot…

BET was thrilled with the debuts of The Real Husbands of Hollywood and Second Generation Wayans, which are the # 1 and 2 cable comedy premieres of the season in total viewers and demos . Including the 11pm encore, 6.5 million watched Husbands, a VERY strong number, and 4.7 million combined watched the two showings of WayansNCIS pulled in 22.3 million, the second largest audience in its 10 season history, and was up 9% in the demos to a new season high…Parenthood, which seems to be a lock for renewal, once again won 10pm in the demos…NCIS: LA won 9pm in totals and demos…New Girl had the top demos of the nights 8 sitcoms…Private Practice was up 10% in the demos for its penultimate episode…

The American Idol season premiere dominated the night, winning in total viewers (17.8 million) and demos. The two hours were down 19% from last year but it did top The Voice’s most recent season premiere by more than 40% in both total viewers and demos…Criminal Minds set a new season high in total viewers to be the night’s most watched scripted show…CSI was up in totals and demos to win 10pm in both measures…Nashville was up in totals and demos, the latter being their best performance since the series premiere…Modern Family was down 9% but still easily won the night in scripted demos…

All The Young Dudes, Carry The News
Industry News, Notes, and Hot Rumors…AMC is replacing Glen Mazzara as showrunner for The Walking Dead with Scott M Gimple, who currently serves as the show’s supervising producer. Gimple’s resume includes writing and/or producing stints on Life, FlashForward, and DriveLeverage executive producer Dean Devlin told that they were not simply letting the show die after TNT cancelled it. “We’re going to try to shop it around now and see if there is any other interest elsewhere,” he said, including the concept of a big screen version. “Look, it’s a long shot but we have a lot of love for the show and the fans have been tremendously supportive. If we can find a way for it to continue we’ll pursue.”… NBC is developing a comedy inspired by the life of Jessica Simpson, a project she would also star in were it to get picked up. The script is being written by Nick Bakay, whose resume includes Till Death, King of Queens, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and In Living Color…AMC finally made official what had been reported for months, that they were bringing The Killing back for a 12 episode third season, with leads Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnman returning. The show picks up a year after the end of season two and the murder mystery that will be the focus of the episodes will have a definitive ending in the season finale…CBS revealed some of their summer plans today – new reality competition show The Great American Bakeoff premieres Wed 5/29 at 8pm; 13 episode first season of Under the Dome (adaptation of the Stephen King novel) premieres Mon 5/24 at 10pm; Big Brother will air three nights a week – Tue 9pm, Wed 9pm, Sun 8pm – starting the first week in July; season two of Unforgettable will air Sundays at 9pm as of 7/28… TBS has ordered first seasons of two new game shows; Howie Mandel is the executive producer of Deal with It (six episodes), where random folks are offered cash and prizes to prank their friends, and Trust Me, I’m a Game Show Host (10 episodes) is from Mark Burnett and finds contestants deciding which host is giving them the correct answer to the questions that will win them, well, cash and prizes…Season five of Golf Channel’s The Haney Project – where legendary golf coach Hank Haney helps a celebrity become a better golfer – premieres on February 25th, with Olympian Michael Phelps signing on to try to improve his handicap….Season four of Worst Cooks in America begins on Food Network on 2/17, with Chefs Anne Burrell & Bobby Flay coaching teams of amateur cooks…Season three of the American version of Top Gear kicks off on History on January 29th… Robin Roberts updated Good Morning America viewers on her health this morning, saying her latest bone marrow test was all clear. Her plans are to do an off-air but still in-studio test run next week to see how she responds to make up and lighting (the illness and treatments have made her skin significantly more sensitive than previously) and if all goes well she could be back on GMA in February…NBC will air 14 regular season NHL games during the upcoming shortened season, including games almost every Sunday afternoon from 1/20 – 4/21. NBC Sports Network will broadcast an additional 56 games…Travel Channel is staying in the Adam Richman business by ordering a 13 episode first season of Tailgate Takeover, with the former Man v Food front man visiting concerts, sporting events, festivals, and other places where people grill and party. The network will air a special one hour preview special – Super Bowl Tailgate Takeover – on January 30th, with the series beginning it’s run this summer…TNT has ordered a 10 episode first season of King and Maxwell (working title), a drama about two former secret service agents working as private investigators that is an adaptation of the book series by David Baldacci. NCIS: LA executive producer Shane Brennan wrote the pilot for the series, which stars Jon Tenney (The Closer) and Rebecca Romijn. The supporting cast includes TTTP faves Ryan Hurst (Sons of Anarchy) and Michael O’Keefe as well as Chris Butler (The Good Wife, True Blood). Look for the show, which is likely to get a new title, to premiere this summer…

Turns Out Not Where But Who You’re With That Really Matters
The Best of What’s Around AKA The Best Thing I’ve Watched In The Last Seven Days…
This Monday’s How I Met Your Mother was the episode fans have been waiting for all season, the one where it seemed the writers finally remembered that Ted is indeed a lead character on the show and the one where they remind us why and how much we care about him. Yes, the half hour had plenty of laughs – HUGE props to any show that gives multiple Rip Taylor shout outs!!! – but in some ways that was the least of the high points. Ted’s pitch of a DJ at the wedding was also pretty funny (“Do you want Kool and the Gang to play at your wedding?”)

The conversation between Ted and Lily on the roof, where Lily confessed the feelings she has about motherhood sometimes and Ted said he thought Robin should be with him and not Barney, was about as real life as sitcom writing gets, and both actors nailed their performances by going for emotional honesty instead of emotional histrionics. And it was because Ted was being honest, as opposed to whining as he has been known to do, that the moments that followed were so invigorating for long time fans of the show.

Not only did we get the return of Ted’s future wife’s roommate but the show 100% confirmed that Ted does indeed meet the Mother of the title at Barney and Robin’s wedding. On a show where Ted has frequently been an afterthought or silly comic relief, it was rewarding for someone like me, who has been watching since the pilot, to get the clearest view to date of her. This was the writers saying, “stick with us, Ted does end up happy”, which was pretty important considering the erratic nature of the current season.

It’s considered a foregone conclusion that HIMYM is coming back for one final season next fall and knowing the end is in site will make these last 30 or so episodes that much more fun.

People Say I’m Crazy Doing What I’m Doing. Well, They Give Me All Kinds Of Warnings To Save Me From Ruin
What’s flashed before my eyes the last seven days…The Golden Globe Awards were fabulously entertaining, with Tina and Amy providing more laughs from the host/hosts of an awards show than any in recent memory. The show moved at a brisk pace, there were some funny presenters (Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig were AMAZING), and some presenters so bad it was painful (every awards show needs those). My two complaints would be that I wish the awards were better organized, so there was some rhyme or reason to what came next, and I actually would have loved each winner to get a an extra minute or two if they wanted it; for many of these folks this may be the one win of their career so why not let them thank those who helped them along the way?!? Those are minor complaints as overall it was a great awards show…Watched Anthony Clark’s new stand-up special on Showtime and was extremely disappointed when 99% of the jokes in the first 15 minutes were the same material I heard him do at multiple clubs in Boston in the early-mid 90’s. I know there is always going to be some repeats but come on, man, it’s been 20 years… On the other end of the stand-up spectrum was Anthony Jeselnik’s new special on Comedy Central, which was as funny as it was incredibly inappropriate…Friday’s was the best Shark Tank of the season; all good products, lots of deals, some good competition among the sharks, and Lori’s great line about Mr. Wonderful being a golf ball! I did think it was interesting that the company currently making the most money was the one that didn’t get a single offer but sometimes when the sharks say “you don’t need us” they don’t take into account the power of the show and how many new doors it opens, even for very businesses that are already very successful…Last week’s 30 Rock was just about note perfect, with everything that has made the show great over the seasons; incredibly witty banter, celebrities showing just how non-seriously they take themselves, fantastic recurring characters, and Tina Fey taking something that many, many people can relate to and then blowing it up to absurd proportions to make it even funnier…It’s sad to me how far The Office has fallen; last week’s head lice episode was just ok but it felt Peabody worthy compared to the last season and a half…The season premiere of House of Lies was exactly what I came to expect from season one; a great cast making just decent material entertaining for a half hour…Sunday’s Once Upon a Time was the best of the season, with a heart breaking ending followed by an interesting new plot twist. Colin O’Donoghue’s Captain Hook has grown on me quite a bit, and Robert Carlyle continues to be among the top MVP candidates on all of TV; it’s a short list of actors whose shows simply wouldn’t work with anyone else in that part and he is most definitely on it…Speaking of that kind of thing, Ed O’Neill deserves that sort of “no one else could play this part” respect for Modern Family…Loved seeing Dennis Farina back on my screen on a very funny episode of New Girl this week; Robby and Schmidt teaming up – White Guy Power! – was a riot…I wasn’t particularly enamored with the 1600 Penn pilot but I gave it another episode and came away feeling the exact same way, so I am done…Being Human opened very strong; it’s as emotionally grounded, and therefore relatable, series about a vampire, ghost, and werewolf as you ever going to see…

TV Pick Of The Week
I am not sure how good I think The Following is after watching the first three episodes but I can say this with certainty; there is NOTHING like this on broadcast TV right now. It feels very much like a cable drama – something you’d find on FX or TNT – because of the pacing as well as the extreme subject matter, and Fox has got to be thrilled with that. Some of the traits attached to Kevin Bacon’s character seem pretty stock for the genre but, to no surprise to anyone, his performance rises well above that in no time, making his anger, frustration, fear, and determination palpable.

James Purefoy has the flashier role and he seems to be loving every minute of it, although careful to stay within the lines so as not to go over the top and sacrifice an ounce of his charisma and charm, both of which are necessary for the audience to believe so many would be inspired by him.

My one major issue with the pilot takes place in the opening segment, but I’ll address that next week. For now, get ready for a show that I am sure is going to produce both huge buzz and huge ratings.

Don’t miss the series premiere of The Following, Monday at 9pm on Fox.

Hope You Need My Love, Babe, Just Like I Need You
Most of the week’s major programming is covered about but here as some other noteworthy viewing options from the next seven days…

*Miami Heat star Chris Bosh guests on tonight’s episode of Jessie (8:30pm, Disney).

*The 11th season of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher begins this Friday night at 10pm, with Martin Short on the panel and former Senator Bob Kerrey is one of the interviewees.

*NBC’s coverage of the NHL season begins this weekend with Penguins/Flyers or Blackhawks/Kings on Sat at 3pm ET and Flyers/Sabers Sunday at 3pm.

*The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl is a college football all-star game (it’s open to all draft-eligible college seniors) that airs live on ESPN2 Saturday at 6pm.

*Ripper Street is a new period procedural from BBC America that premieres Saturday at 9pm…

*The 49’ers travel to the Falcons to play in the NFC Championship Game Sunday at 3pm on Fox, followed at 6:30pm by the Patriots hosting the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game on CBS. CBS is using the big numbers the game will draw to serve as a lead-in to a special Sunday night edition of Hawaii 5-0.

*Piper Perabo (Covert Affairs) begins a multiple episode run as a love interest for Matthew Perry on Go On (NBC) this Tuesday at 9pm.

*The excellent current season of Parenthood comes to a close Tuesday at 10pm. This would be more of a big deal but strong ratings as of late (I believe it’s won the 10pm hour in demos 3 weeks in a row) make it extremely likely this is ONLY a season finale.

*Private Practice brings its six season run to a close Tuesday at 10pm on ABC.

*White Collar airs its mid-season return Tuesday at 10pm, picking up where we left off, right after Neil found out who his Father is.

*Lords of War (Wednesday, 9pm) is National Geographic’s entry into the every expanding world of “how much is my item worth” programming…

*The recently renewed for a third season by USA Necessary Roughness is back for the second half of season two this Wednesday at 10pm.

*I’ll give ABC credit; they committed to showing all the completed episodes of Last Resort and that’s just what they’ve done, with the series finale airing Thursday at 8pm.

*In a guest spot that seems absolutely perfect, Stephen Hawking cameos on Thursday’s episode of The Big Bang Theory (8pm, CBS).

*Justified’s Timothy Olyphant is clearly working his way through all the FX series; after a very funny turn on The League late last year he now lends his voice to Archer (Thursday, 10pm.)

Two Tivos To Paradise
3 Days to Open with Bobby Flay, 24 Hour Restaurant Battle, 30 Rock, After the Catch, American Idol, Antiques Roadshow, Archer, Arrow, Around the World in 80 Plates, Auction Hunters, Baby Daddy, Ben and Kate, The Big C, Boardwalk Empire, Being Human, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers, Bones, Breaking Bad, Bunheads, Burn Notice, Cake Boss, Cake Boss: Next Great Baker, Chicago Fire, Chopped, Comic Book Men, Community, Cougar Town, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Deadliest Catch, Deception, Destination Truth, Don’t Trust the B- in Apt 23, Fact or Faked, Falling Skies, Family Guy, Fast Food Mania, Flipping Out, Food Network Challenge, Food Network Star, The Franchise, Ghost Hunters, Ghost Hunters International, Ghost Lab, Glee, Great Food Truck Race, Grey’s Anatomy, Happy Endings, Haunted Highways, Haunted Treasure, Hawaii 5-0, Hollywood Treasure, House of Lies, How I Met Your Mother, Inside Comedy with David Steinberg, Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis, Iron Chef America, Justified, Key & Peele, Last Resort, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Law And Order: Special Victims Unit, The League, Longmire, Lost Girl, Louie, Mad Men, Major Crimes, Men at Work, The Middle, Mike and Molly, The Mindy Project, Modern Family, Monster Man, Nashville, Necessary Roughness, New Girl, The New Normal, Next Iron Chef, The Office, Outside the Lines, Parks & Recreation, Private Practice, Project Accessory, Project Runway, PSYCH, Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook Off, Raising Hope, Real Time With Bill Maher, Restaurant Impossible, Revenge, Revolution, Royal Pains, Rules Of Engagement, Saturday Night Live, Shark Wranglers, Shear Genius, So You Think You Can Dance?, Sons of Anarchy, The Soup, Suits, Suburgatory, Supernatural, Top Chef, Top Chef Just Desserts, Top Chef: Masters, Top Design, Tosh.0, The Vampire Diaries, The Voice, The Walking Dead, Warehouse 13, Wilfred, Worst Cooks In America,

People Love You When They Know You’re Leaving Soon
Here ends another Two Tivos To Paradise.

We’ll be back next week with all the headlines from the last seven days!

Sources for this week’s column include Daily Variety, Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide, and Hollywood Reporter (plus the web sites for those publications) as well as, &


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Al Norton

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