Movies & TV / Columns

Two Tivos To Paradise 02.08.13: The Walking Dead, NCIS, Super Bowl XLVII, Robin Williams, and more!

February 8, 2013 | Posted by Al Norton

Hello friends. If you’re in the northeast and reading this on Friday then you’ve likely spent some part of the last 24 hours at the grocery and/or hardware store making sure you ready for the big storm. As of this writing the forecast for Boston is 18 – 24 inches, with blizzard like conditions for almost a full 24 hours. Good times. I hope we get enough snow to have to stay inside for a while but not so much that we lose power so that way we can sit on the couch and burn through what’s becoming a very full trio of Tivos (yes, we now actually have three of them).

Here’s a look at HBO’s upcoming Phil Spector

And here’s a promo for The Client List that is likely to quicken the pulse of more than a few of you (And by “you” I mean “us”)…

We had two interviews run this past week – Constance Zimmer (Grey’s Anatomy) on Wednesday and David Costabile (Suits) yesterday, with my chat with Suits’ Rick Hoffman going live next Thursday.

Be careful making wishes in the news, news.

Melt Me Down Into Big Black Armor, Leave No Trace Of Grace Just In Your Honor
Mark Harmon signed a multi-year contract extension to stay with NCIS last Friday, which triggered CBS to make official what was already understood as an absolute certainty, a renewal for an 11th season. While specific numbers were not made public, the deal was reported to be in the $700K per episode range, or $16 million per season. NCIS has been the most watched scripted series on TV for several years but this year it topped Sunday Night Football to become TV’s most watched program. An episode several weeks ago had a Live + 3 Day audience of more than 25 million, the first time the show has reached that significant milestone.

It’s incredible to think that NBC cancelled JAG after one season back in 1996. What does that have to do with this story, you ask? Well, CBS picked up JAG (one of those rare times when a network grabs a competitor’s castoffs) as a mid-season replacement and turned it into a hit that ran for an additional 9 seasons and 200+ episodes. It was during the show’s 8th season that some of the characters of NCIS were introduced to the audience, getting an official spinoff in the fall of 2003. NCIS: LA came from NCIS, and the former is being used to introduce folks to yet another NCIS show that will air this September if picked up (and really, how bad would it have to be for CBS to pass?!?!?). You think NBC wishes it could have that cancellation back now?

Let’s be honest, it’s not like the NCIS formula is all the special – a team solves crimes together each week – but the genuine warmth and chemistry of the cast as well as the now legendary cool charisma of Harmon catapult it into another ratings stratosphere, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon, news that grandparents everywhere will be thrilled by.

Do Me Wrong, Do Me Write, Tell Me Lies But Hold Me Tight
The NBC drama Do No Harm premiered last Thursday to historically bad ratings, putting up the lowest demos in the history of the big four networks for an in-season premiere of a series.

Anytime a show performs at that poor a level it’s cause for a further look at what caused such a result. It’s easy to say that no one watched because the show was bad but a) there are plenty of bad shows that do well in the ratings and b) people would have to watch to know the show actually bad, and in this instance that did not happen.

What kept people from tuning in? Part of the problem is that NBC doesn’t have The Voice or Revolution on right now; the network’s top two programs come in handy as advertising new shows during those broadcasts reaches a much wider audience than, say, an ad during the low rated Deception. Secondly, Thursday at 10pm is a timeslot with two successful dramas already – Scandal is just about the hottest show on TV right now on the buzz scale and Elementary does quite well for CBS – so it’s not like folks were hurting for options in that spot.

For the more seasoned TV viewer/industry follower there was the knowledge that networks rarely hold shows they are really high on until mid-season. Doesn’t mean a show can’t succeed – Body of Proof and Happy Endings are two recent examples – but for the most part, people think that if a network really likes a new show, they are going to get it on the air sooner than later, so waiting until February to air a pilot they made in April of the previous year is hardly a ringing endorsement.

Was the show any good? No, not really. It wasn’t record settingly bad but the dialogue was pretty campy/over the top. I thought it actually had potential as a so-bad-its-good guilty pleasure but at this point we’re likely not going to see if that level of cheesiness can be sustained.

Episode two of Do No Harm aired last night and any drop in the ratings is likely to cause the show to be pulled, replaced by Rock Center with Brian Williams, which occupied that timeslot previously. The silver lining to the bad numbers is it means series lead Steven Pasquale will likely be available for the current pilot season instead of having to sit out a year.

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…FYI – Any show listed below has been given said order…

Patty Jenkins, nominated for an Emmy for directing the pilot of The Killing, will be behind the camera for Betrayal. As we mentioned last week, the show is an adaptation of a Dutch series where a woman begins a torrid affair with a man only to find out he is the defense attorney in a murder case where the prosecutor is her husband…Divorce: A Love Story is an adaptation of an Israeli comedy from Rules of Engagement executive producer Mike Sikowitz, about a couple that split up but can’t seem to stay apart…Thomas Schlamme is directing Doubt, the legal drama from House creator David Shore…TTTP fave Mercedes Masohn (The Finder, 666 Park Avenue) has landed one of the leads in Mixology, a comedy about 5 single men and 5 single women trying to find love in over the course of one night in an NYC bar…

Rob Riggle will star in The Gabriels, a comedy formerly known as House Rules about a family of neurotics living in a small Midwestern town where everybody knows everybody else – and everybody else’s business, too…Keith David has signed on to Enlisted, a comedy about three very different brothers who work on the same small Florida Army base. David will play their boss…

The Gates is fast becoming one of the more interesting comedy pilots of the season; the show is about the 15 minute drop off and pick up windows at an elementary school, where relationships and politics effect the parents as well as the kids. The cast includes Ken Marino, Kathleen Rose Perkins (Episodes, NCIS: LA), and Greg Germann. The project is written by Cathy Yuspa and Josh Goldsmith, who teamed up for the Mel Gibson comedy What Women Want as well as working together on King of Queens, Big Day, and Till Death…Blair Underwood has signed to star in the Ironside reboot…Echo Kellum, available because Ben and Kate got cancelled, and Linda Lavin will star opposite Sean Hayes in an untitled comedy directed by James Burroughs…Dave Annabel (666 Park Avenue, Brothers & Sisters) has joined TTTP fave Sally Pressman in the cast of the comedy Joe, Joe, and Jane…Ellie Kampler (The Office) will star in Brenda Forever, a comedy that looks at events in the life of a confident and successful 31 year old woman and how she got to be that way, with some of the stories going back to when she was a chubby 13 year old. Peter Tolan (Rescue Me) is executive producing…

Homeland executive producer Michael Cuesta and CSI showrunner Carol Mendelsohn have teamed up for Second Sight, an adaptation of a British series where the lead character is a police detective who contracts an autoimmune disease that gives him hallucinations from his subconscious, hallucinations that help him solve cases…Kevin Pollak and David Denman (The Office) have been cast CBS’ Beverly Hills Cop pilot, with Pollak playing the by-the-book chief counsel for the LAPD and Denman an nice but somewhat clueless cop (i.e. the Judge Reinhold part). Shawn Ryan (The Shield) is writing the pilot for the show, which the network is calling a dramedy, and Brandon T Jackson (Tropic Thunder) stars as Aaron Foley, Axel’s son. Eddie Murphy is executive producing and will appear in the pilot, playing Axel in a recurring role if the show gets picked up…Crazy Ones is a comedy written by David E Kelley and stars Robin Williams as an advertising executive who ends up partnered with his daughter… Fred Savage is directing The McCarthys, about an Irish catholic Boston family who is frustrated their gay son isn’t spending more time with them. Jack McGee (Rescue Me) has signed to the cast…Reckless is a legal drama from the creators of The Ghost Whisperer

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…

The Big Bang Theory topped American Idol in total viewers and demos in the half hour they went head-to-head…The 30 Rock series finale hit season highs in total viewers (largest audience in 2 years) and demos…Grey’s Anatomy hit a new series low in the demos, finishing second to Person on Interest in both measures…As is standard now, Scandal won 10pm in the demos…The first half of the interview with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo helped Dr. Phil jump 17% from its previous four week average…

Undercover Boss hit a season high in total viewers and tied Shark Tank for the demo win on the night…Blue Bloods won the night in total viewers and its time slot in demos as well…The NAACP Image Awards hit a four year high in total viewers on NBC…Nikita was down 10% from last week’s season high, although it was still the series second highest rated episode of the season…

3.54 million watched NFL Honors on CBS, with demos that matched last year…

Super Bowl XLVII averaged an audience of 108.41 million viewers, making it the third most watched program in TV history (behind only the previous two Super Bowls)…Downton Abbey was down a smidge from last week (to be expected with the Super Bowl as competition) but it was up 69% from the hour that ran against the big game last February and drew more total viewers – 6.6 million – than anything Fox, ABC, or NBC put on last night (actually, the next closest show was AFHV with 2.59 million).Puppy Bowl IX was a big hit for Animal Planet, with the overall audience over the course of the day being 12.4 million viewers, up over 40% from last year. The one hour show, which ran in a loop for 12 hours, had its strongest ratings for the premiere at 3pm, where the 2.6 million represented a 64% increase from last year. The segment that aired while the Super Bowl was delayed because of the blackout jumped 54% from the one that aired previously, so clearly some of the CBS audience switched over…Despite the (very) late start time, the post-Super Bowl episode of Elementary was watched by a series high 20.8 million viewers, with demos that were tops for the year in entertainment programming. On the other hand, the totals were down more than 40% from the season two premiere of The Voice in that same spot last year.

HIMYM won 8pm in the demos, hitting a season high in that measure…Rules of Engagement opened strong, up 29% from Partners’ premiere numbers…Hawaii 5-0 won 10pm in totals and demos…Deception finished a distant 3rd in totals and demos at 10pm and is essentially done (not saying it’s going to get pulled, just that it’s not going to get renewed, either)…The Carrie Diaries had a strong night; +12% in total viewers and hitting season/series highs in the demos as well as The CW’s target demos…The Following was down 12% but still finished second in the demos at 9pm; if these numbers hold the rest of the way than a second season is HIGHLY probable…Dallas dropped to a new demo series low for the second time in two weeks and the series premiere of Monday Mornings that followed lost more than 50% of that already low demo number as well as almost 40% of the total audience lead-in.

The season premiere of Smash was watched by a series low 4.5 million viewers, with demos that were down almost 40% from last season’s finale. The second hour’s demos were roughly 40% less than the season finale of Parenthood in that slot a couple of weeks back…The Taste was up in totals and demos…The Mindy Project was up 13% in viewers…NCIS won the night in totals (21+ million) and demos…Hart of Dixie hit a season high in target demos…The Emily Owens MD series finale was up a bit and for the second week in a row had more total viewers than its Hart of Dixie lead-in… The season finale of Hardcore Pawn last night was watched by 3.4 million viewers, making it the most watched broadcast in truTV history. Season six of the reality show was up 14% from the season five average. The episode of Hardcore Pawn: Chicago that followed was the second most watched ever of that series.

Just about every show was down…Modern Family won the night in scripted demos but did so posting a season low…CSI won 10pm in totals and demos…American Idol won the night in totals and demos, down 16% in the latter from last week…SVU was down 19% in total viewers and 12% in demos…Criminal Minds was the most watched scripted show of the night…Nashville finished last at 10pm in totals and demos, the latter being a season/series low…The night’s only two winners? Arrow (+10%) and Guys with Kids (+9%)…

All The Young Dudes, Carry The News
Industry News, Notes, and Hot Rumors…George R.R. Martin has signed a new two year deal with HBO that finds him continuing to co-executive produce Game of Thrones, which is based on his novels, as well as developing and producing new series for the network…Bravo trying to get into the scripted series game just got a lot more interesting with the news that they signed Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn to star in the dramedy pilot Rita, an adaptation of a Danish series about a Mother of three dealing with politics and crazy parents at the private school where she teaches. Krista Vernoff (Grey’s Anatomy, Wonderfalls) is executive producing…The great Lee Majors has signed on for multiple episodes of Dallas…Kevin Dunn, one of TV’s best character actors, has signed on for a major recurring role in HBO’s upcoming True Detective, which stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey…GSN is getting into the reality series game; Family Trade follows the day-to-day activities at a state of the art car dealership in Middlebury, VT and premieres on March 12th…Regis Philbin is in talks with Fox’s new Sports 1 channel to play the Barbara Walters role on the network’s version of The View, a daily round table talk show with the conversation topics being sports-centric. Fox hasn’t officially announced that they rebranding their current Speed network but most expect it to happen in August, with Sports 1 being their attempt to take on ESPN…TTTP fave Donal Logue will be a regular on season two of BBC America’s Copper…Bravo has picked up an 11th season of Top Chef…Reelz has acquired the rights to all six seasons of The Larry Sanders Show and will begin airing them in one hour blocks Mon- Thu at 1pm starting in March (with those same two episodes re-airing at 2am)… Courteney Cox will guest on an episode of Go On this May, creating a mini-Friends reunion. Even better, she plays someone who gets set up with Matthew Perry’s Ryan…Spike TV is getting in the Randy Couture business; tells us they’ve signed him to an exclusive development deal, including two new reality series he will be a part of Fight Master: Bellator MMA got a 10 episode first season order and is described as The Voice for MMA fighters, with Couture joined by Frank Shamrock, Greg Jackson, and Joe Warren as they each choose teams of 8 to coach, with the winner of the whole thing getting into the Bellator tournament plus a six figure cash prize, and MMA Rescue finds Couture doing his best Gordon Ramsay, helping struggling gyms get back on the path to success. Look for Fight Master this summer and MMA Rescue in the late fall/winter of 2013…The full list of competitors has been released for Splash, ABC’s celebrity diving series that premieres next month; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Louie Anderson, Drake Bell, Nicole Eggert, Rory Bushfield, Kendra Wilkinson, Chuy Bravo, Katherine Webb, Ndamukong Suh, and Keshia Knight Pulliam will all be hitting the pool when the show debuts on March 19th…The Bonnie & Clyde mini-series that Lifetime and History are developing together may not have its leads yet but has signed Oscar winners Holly Hunter and William Hurt to the cast, the former playing Bonnie’s Mom and the latter the Texas Ranger who tracked and killed them…ABC Family has given first season orders to two projects; The Fosters is executive produced by Jennifer Lopez and tells the story of a lesbian couple who are foster parents to a diverse group of kids and Twisted is about a teenage boy with a troubled past who returns to his hometown and immediately becomes the prime suspect in a murder…CSI executive producer Anthony Zuiker is behind Whodunnit?, a new reality competition series given a 9 episode first season order by ABC. 13 amateur detectives try to solve a series of murders that one of them committed (not real murders, of course)…Emmy and Norty winner Margo Martindale (Justified) will play Nick’s Mom on New Girl later this spring…Cedric the Entertainer has signed a three year deal to be the new host of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Meredith Vieira, who has hosted the show for the last 11 seasons, is leaving this spring, with new episodes with Cedric beginning to air in September. The new job will not impact his other gig, starring in the TV Land comedy Soul Man…TLC has picked up a 6th season of Toddlers & Tiaras while adding an additional eight episodes to Cheer Mom’s current freshman season…Oxygen has two new reality shows in development; Secret Celebrity (famous people put on makeup and disguises so they can find out what people really think of them) and This Week the Award Goes To…, a pop culture week in review show in the mold of The Soup and The Dish

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…
It’s pretty rare if not actually unheard of for the best thing I watched in a given week to be a commercial but the Dodge Ram “God Made a Farmer” ad that ran in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl…

It didn’t really matter so much to me that it was a car commercial since what stood out was the celebration of an iconic American figure, a celebration that did not seem manipulative or forced in any way. It’s the only Super Bowl commercial I have watched twice, and that’s high praise from someone with the jam packed Tivos that I have.

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…Grey’s Anatomy has been a lot of things over the years – funny, smart, heartwarming, heartbreaking, over the top, depressing, exhilarating – but the one thing it’s never been was boring…up till now. We did a mini-marathon last night to fully catch up and the whole “fate of the hospital” thing just isn’t resonating on any level. While it may or may not end up that the folks take their lawsuit winnings and buy Seattle Grace (or at least front a group buying it), no viewers even remotely buy into the idea that the hospital will actually close, and the ratings are proving that to be true; Thursday night was a new series low in the demos and they are now routinely beat by Person of Interest in that measure, something that did not happen last year…Mark Cuban is other people’s favorite Shark too, right? I just love the way he rolls his eyes at some of the other shark’s long windedness and he doesn’t waste time talking if he’s not interested in the product. And while it may sound strange to say about someone with as much money as he has, he seems to live closer to the real world than the other sharks, who frequently don’t understand what real people do and what they will and won’t spend money on… I really hope Fox gives The Mindy Project another season to develop; the overall quality is erratic but the show has some moments – like the end of last week’s episode with Mindy-ana Jones – that are really very, VERY funny and also endearing (the visual punchline at the end of that scene made me laugh so loud I thought I was going to wake up the twins)…I was highly entertained by the latest Robin Sparkles-centric episode of HIMYM and simply loved the Dobler – Dahmer theory from Ted. I also like anything that gets Abby Elliot on my TV screen more…Mark it down that it was week three of the new version of Best Week Ever where the show found its stride, making me laugh out loud with a killer opening segment. Yes, reality programming gave them a lot of material to work with but that’s what they get paid to do and they seem to be doing it (and doing it and doing it) well…This season of Justified has been very strong so far, giving us bits and pieces of the big mystery while introducing us to some great new characters along the way. I’ve laughed out loud a few times, been genuinely surprised at others, and think this is Timothy Olyphant’s strongest work on the show as he shows as a more vulnerable Raylan…I gave the 30 Rock series finale a solid B; it made me laugh and reminded me how much I am going to miss the characters, with the end being the sort of in-joke the series did so well over the years….The skill level on the current edition of Chopped Champions is amazing, with some of the best and most creative culinary artistry the show has ever showcased…

TV Pick Of The Week
I wrote about NCIS being the most watched show on TV above but in terms of the 18-49 demographic that advertisers truly care about, there is no show as popular as The Walking Dead. That’s impressive for any show, let alone one on cable, and somehow new episodes of TWD have maintained event status, generating the kind of buzz for a standard hour that most shows only dream of getting for their season premieres and finales. It also happens to be one of the best dramas on TV, one that works on multiple levels; it’s a character study, a way for the audience to think about the lengths they would go to to protect their families and loved ones, and a super creepy gore fest, too. It’s also an emotional rollercoaster as the show has clearly established the “anyone could die at any moment” tone that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.

Don’t miss the mid-season return of The Walking Dead, Sunday at 9pm on AMC.

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…

*Touch is back with a two hour premiere tonight at 8pm on Fox….

*ABC has an NBA doubleheader this Sunday, with Clippers – Knicks at 1pm followed by Lakers – Heat at 3:30pm.

*Syfy didn’t pick up Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome as a series but we can finally watch the two hour pilot as a standalone movie Sunday at 9pm…

*CBS goes from the Super Bowl last Sunday to The 55th Annual Grammy Awards this Sunday.

*A new season of Bizarre Foods America kicks off Monday at 9pm on Travel Channel.

*Showtime’s Inside Comedy (Monday, 11pm) was one of the best reality series of 2012 and it’s back for a second season, with host David Steinberg sitting down with some of the top minds in comedy – Carol Burnett, Robert Klein, Louis C.K. Bob Newhart, Tina Fey, Martin Mull, Betty White, Keenen Ivory Wayans, to name just a few – for quality conversations…

*The Face is a new reality competition series from Oxygen that premieres Tuesday at 9pm…

*President Obama delivers the first State of the Union Address of his second term this Tuesday at 9pm.

*A new season of Survivor begins on Wednesday at 8pm on CBS.

*The Valentine’s Day episode of Modern Family (Wednesday, 9pm, ABC) gives us the return of Clive Bixby.

*The Next Knuckler (Wednesday, 9pm) is MLB Network’s first reality competition series, with former NCAA Division 1 quarterbacks vying for an invitation to Arizona Diamondbacks’ spring training camp as a knuckle ball pitcher. Hosted by Tim Wakefield and Kevin Millar, those lined up to take part include Doug Flutie (BC), Josh Booty (LSU), John David Booty (USC), David Greene (Georgia), and Ryan Perrilloux (LSU).

*Southland, one of the best dramas on TV, is back for season five this Wednesday at 10pm on TNT.

*Will Will and Emma’s wedding go off without a hitch? Come on, folks, this is a TV show!!! Glee airs Thursday at 9pm on Fox.

*I’ll be honest and say I haven’t actually seen the pilot but Zero Hour (Thursday, 8pm, ABC) certainly wins the award for Most Ludicrous Trailer of the 2012-2013 season…

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, 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, 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, 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, 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! Be safe the next couple of days – it’s going to be some nasty weather and I can’t afford anything bad happening to my readers!!!

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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