Movies & TV / Columns

Two Tivos To Paradise 12.07.12: The Simpsons, Family Guy, The Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy, Game of Thrones

December 7, 2012 | Posted by Al Norton

Hello friends. Not that my cold opens are ever all that engrossing but other than referencing the Red Sox spending some money on solid players who are excellent character guys or talking about the random nature of New England weather (from 60 to 30 in less than 24 hours), I am at a loss for this week. That’s not a bad thing as it means I am busy, and busy is, in a word, good.

Another week, another DVD giveaway; this week we’ve got a Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol set that includes both Blu-ray and DVD versions of the classic that was actually the first-ever animated holiday special created for television!!! Go to the Al Norton’s Two Tivos To Paradise page on Facebook, click “Like” if you have not already, and then post, “Oh TTTP, you’ve done it again” on our wall and you’ll be entered to win. Standard contest rules – one entry per person, one win every six months, only US or Canadian mailing addresses – apply. We’ll choose a winner on Monday so good luck!

I know lots of you are counting the days until the new season of Game of Thrones

Here’s the first full length trailer for Girls’ upcoming second season…

A quick update on our plans for our year end plans; the Best of 2012 column will run on Friday the 22nd, with the 2012 TTTP TV Entertainers of the Year going live on the site on Friday the 29th.

Let’s make it an HBO trifecta this week with a look at season two of Enlightenment

Don’t want to break your news, want to give your news a break.

Everyone Can See We’re Together As We Walk On By
Seth MacFarlane told a group of UCLA students during a Q & A session that a Family Guy movie was at this point, “a matter of when” and that he had the story for it all planned out in his head. Also during the week it was confirmed that MacFarlane would be doing a voice on next September’s season premiere of The Simpsons, playing a man trying to seduce Marge.

A Family Guy big screen movie would have been pretty big even before Ted’s record breaking summer but now it will be even bigger now since the audience will include at least a few people who only know MacFarlane from the massive box office of the live action comedy, not to mention the extra tickets sold if he does a good job hosting the Oscars later this winter. MacFarlane also said one of the keys to a successful leap to the big screen was telling a story that really couldn’t be told on TV, and he commented that while he enjoyed The Simpsons Movie quite a bit, he felt that lack of scope held it back a little. Realistically a Family Guy movie wouldn’t be coming to a theater near you until 2014 at the earliest.

There is no question the Fox hype machine will be in overdrive next fall to alert the world of the two biggest forces in animated comedies coming together for the first time. My guess is The Simpsons will enjoy its highest ratings in years as there are Family Guy fans who don’t want regularly but will tune in to appreciate the monumental occasion.

She Looks Good In Her Blue Jeans That She Bought In Mexico, And She Loves Wearing French Perfume Everywhere We Go
Howard Stern used his Sirius satellite radio show this week to announce that he would return for a second season of judging on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, with the reported deal matching last year’s $15 million salary. The show’s overall ratings were down a bit but it was once again the top performing series of the summer as it has each of the seven seasons it’s been on the air. With Sharon Osbourne leaving the show after her public falling out with the network, it was in NBC’s best interest to lock up Stern as quickly as possible to avoid a protracted contract negotiation and the risk of that much turnover on the panel. Fellow judge Howie Mandell is expected back, and host Nick Cannon has signed a deal to return as well. Names rumored to be in the running to replace Osbourne include Shannon Doherty, Carly Simon, Kris Jenner, Chef, and LeAnn Rimes.

This was a no brainer for Stern; where else is he going to get a gig that pays him $15 million for a few months work? While the ratings were certainly good last season, it’s not like him taking the job led to any huge (or even decent sized) increase in the ratings; the total view average was the lowest since season one and the finale was the least watched in series history. Stern blamed the Olympics wreaking havoc with their schedule as the reason but NBC had the Olympics in 2008 and the show did better then. All of this means that if Stern wanted to continue in the relatively cushy job as reality show judge, his best bet would be to stay on AGT since his ability to pull in new viewers is a lot more in question than it was at this point last year.

All of this is not to knock Stern’s performance on the show, which was strong; he was smart, funny, and most importantly, himself. It’s hard enough to find a reality competition show judge to be one of those things, let along all three. My issue with the show is that the auditions seem to take FOREVER, yet the performers get so little time to actually display their talents – even after they’ve made it past the initial TV cut – and I felt like I was watching a show starring Howard, Howie, Sharon, and Nick that happened to have some sort of competition involved in it instead of an actual competition with some noteworthy and interesting judges (as in, The Voice).

Hope In My Heart As A New Day Has Dawned, I See Your Light On The Wings Of A Dove
ABC announced their winter season/series premiere dates this week, with a mix of comedy, drama, reality, returning favorites, and new series.

*The Taste, Monday 1/22 8pm (two hour premiere); cooking competition show hosted by Anthony Bourdain.

*Body of Proof, Tuesday 2/5 10pm; season three of the Dana Delany procedural, with Mark Valley coming on board as part of a major cast overhaul.

*Zero Hour, Thursday 2/14 8pm; conspiracy thriller starring Anthony Edwards.

*Red Widow, Sunday 3/3 9pm (two hour premiere, regular timeslot of 10pm starting the following week); drama about a widow who takes over her husband’s crime business.

*Dancing with the Stars, Monday 3/18 8pm; stars dance.

*Celebrity Splash, Tuesday 3/19 8pm; celebrities dive.

*How to Live With Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life, Wednesday 4/3 9:30pm; comedy starring Sarah Chalke and Brad Garrett.

*Family Tools, Wednesday 5/1, 8:30pm; comedy starring Leah Remini, Kyle Bornheimer, and J.K. Simmons.

ABC has also decided that Mistresses will air this summer…

The CW got in on the winter premier act this week, giving their freaky new drama Cult a Tuesday, February 19th at 9pm premiere date…

And finally CBS released their winter plans yesterday..

*Rules of Engagement, Monday February 4th 8:30pm; the season seven premiere

*Golden Boy, Tuesday 2/26 10pm (airing in that slot for two weeks before moving to regular home of Fridays at 9pm; drama from Nicholas Wootton (Chuck, NYPD Blue) about a rising star in the NYPD who becomes the youngest police commissioner in the city’s history.

I am not exactly sure why ABC thinks that a complex conspiracy drama like Zero Hour will work in the same time slot that Last Resort just failed in, nor am I understanding of why they are launching a new series on Valentine’s Day (?!?!?!) but my biggest issue with Zero Hour is that the trailer is pretty much self parody; once you start showing the Nazi troops you have gone too far for me to care, and the show hasn’t even started yet.

Family Tools certainly has the cast to be funny, although at this point you’d have to be a true degenerate gambler to bet on a Kyle Bornheimer series getting a second season. How to Live With Your Parents also has a strong cast and I am hoping that the crude humor of the trailer is balanced with some semblance of warmth in the actual show.

Red Widow certainly has potential but it also appears to be taking itself very seriously. That’s not a bad thing but I am not sure it fits with any of the other ABC drama series right now.

On the reality side, I am a huge Anthony Bourdain fan and assume he wouldn’t do a show just for the paycheck, so I have high hopes for this show which finds professional chefs coaching amateur teams that face off against each other. I believe each chef chooses their teams based solely on how the presented dish tastes, which is why The Taste in some ways resembles The Voice.

The only thing more confounding to me than ABC ordering a season of Celebrity Diving is that Fox is following suit, with a special planned for this winter that will likely turn into a summer series if the ratings are decent. I suppose I get the base level appeal of seeing stars in bathing suits doing things that could cause them great bodily harm but because of the latter, who exactly is going to sign up for this? $25 says Dean Cain is on one of these shows!

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
All you need to know about the Nielsen’s for the past 8 days…

Scandal was up 10% and tied Elementary for the 10pm demo win for the first time this season…The Big Bang Theory easily won the night in totals and demos…9pm was as usual; Grey’s winning the demos and Person of Interest being the most watched…30 Rock hit season highs in totals and demos…The Vampire Diaries was up double digits in totals and demos…The Office & Parks and Recreation both hit series demo lows…Glee was up+10% in both totals and demos…

Nikita hit a season high on the first night back in last year’s 8pm timeslot…Last Man Standing was up 14% in the demos, with Malibu Country up 10+% as well…Undercover Boss won the night in demos and Blue Bloods was the night’s most watched show…

The SEC Championship tied the Notre Dame – USC game as the highest rated college football game of the season, up 35% from last year’s game…

The Walking Dead mid-season finale put up some crazy numbers, with 10.5 million watching live and over 15 million when the two replays were added in. That places it in second place in the series history for total viewers and it also tied for the show’s second best all-time demo performance with a rating that will top ALL non-sports TV for the week. The hour was up 58% in total viewers and 54% in the demos from season two’s mid-season sign off…Without a football overrun to help out other shows, Once Upon a Time once again won the broadcast network scripted series demo title for the night…Revenge was up 9% in the demo, with 666 Park Avenue up 17% (not often you see a show’s ratings go up after it gets cancelled)…Homeland hit a series high, topping lead-in Dexter for the first time in the show’s two season run…Shahs of Sunset hit a series high in total viewers and demos with its season two premiere…

With Extreme Makeover: Home Edition pulling in barely a third of DWTS usual demos, lead-out Castle dropped to a series low in that measure, finishing third at 10pm behind Blake Shelton’s Holiday Special (which won the hour going away) and Hawaii 5-0The Voice won the night in broadcast TV for total viewers and demos…Bones was down 25% in the demos, with lead-out Mob Doctor down 27%…All the CBS comedies were down; HIMYM -9%, 2 Broke Girls -15%, Mike and Molly -14%…Monday Night Football was the most watched program on all of TV Monday night with 16.2 million viewers and also won the night in demos…

The only two regular Tuesday series up from their last episodes were Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B-, both rising 10+% in the demos…The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show on CBS won the night in demos despite being down 24% from last year…Shark Tank drew its second largest total audience ever…Go On won the 9pm demos…NCIS was the most watched scripted series of the night despite being a rerun and airing in a different timeslot – Mark Harmon cannot be stopped…

All The Young Dudes, Carry The News
Industry News, Notes, and Hot Rumors… Leverage co-creator and showrunner Dean Devlin posted a letter on the show’s fan page saying that the upcoming season five finale was written as if it were the series finale as well. TNT has yet to make an official decision one way or the other but Devlin and the rest of the cast and crew didn’t want to run the risk of not getting a fitting sendoff so they wrote the final three episodes of this season as if they were the LAST THREE, including the finale he and co-creator John Rogers had in mind when they made the pilot. The letter also said everyone involved would love to come back for a 6th season if given the opportunity…Sean Bean, last seen on TV starring in season one of Game of Thrones, has landed the lead in the TNT pilot Legends, from Homeland executive producer Howard Gordon. Bean replaces Brendon Fraser, who left over creative differences, playing a government operative with a potentially too good ability to lose himself in deep cover assignments. The series is based on a Robert Littel novel…Covert Affairs star Piper Perabo will do three episodes of Go On later this season as a potential love interest for Matthew Perry’s character. She will play a former member of the support group who, upon returning to therapy, develops a relationship with Perry’s Ryan…Alec Baldwin has signed a two year development deal with Universal Television (parent company of NBC) with the idea of creating and potentially starring in new projects…Jamie Foxx is developing the buddy cop drama Hit for TNT, about two former high school football stars (one was the QB, the other the WR) who get recruited by the Miami PD to join their HIT (High Impact Team). Foxx is co-writing the pilot script with former Numb3rs executive producer Robert Port…In cool news for fans or those who missed the boat the first time around, DirecTV’s Audience Network will air 24 reruns Mon-Thu at 8pm starting January 7th. The deal includes all 8 seasons of the Emmy winning action drama as well as the two hour made-for-TV movie…Spike has renewed Ink Masters (13 episode third season) and Tattoo Nightmares (26 episode second season)…TTTP fave Jere Burns, one of TV’s top character actors these days, will do multiple episodes of A&E’s upcoming Bates Motel…S. Epatha Merkerson (Law & Order) has signed to play a recurring role on NBC’s new Deception… For those of you already going through Walking Dead withdrawal, the show returns for the second half of season three on February 10th. That 8 episode run will be teamed once again with The Talking Dead immediately following, although now Chris Hardwick and company will have a full hour to chat all-things-walkers…Michael Richards may be making a return to TV, signing to star in the TV Land comedy pilot Giant Baby alongside Kirstie Alley and Rhea Perlman. The story follows a Broadway star (Alley) who has her long lost (and now adult) son appear at her doorstep when his adopted Mother dies. Richard’s is playing Alley’s character’s limo driver and Perlman her manager/best friend. Giles Marini (Brothers & Sisters) is guesting in the pilot with a role that would likely become recurring if the show gets picked up…Shawn Ryan (The Shield, Lie to Me) is executive producing Badlands for HBO, a new drama series in development sent in the mining town of Tar River, Wyoming. The pilot is being written by Ron Fitzgerald, who works as an executive producer on Ryan’s current ABC series Last Resort…AMC has ordered a pilot from Alex Winter, best known for playing Bill opposite Keanu Reeves Ted. Rights of Bill follows a Wisconsin Sheriff who forms his own militia…ESPN2’s SportsNation is moving to LA in 2013 and getting a new co-host, with Marcellus Wiley replacing Colin Cowherd opposite Charissa Thompson…Will Gluck, who wrote and directed Friends With Benefits on the big screen, is developing Rookie for ABC, a comedy about a women in her 20’s who tries to reinvent herself and her life by joining the police force…John Kruk will replace Terry Francona (who left to manage the Cleveland Indians) as an analyst on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball…Just when you thought Food Network couldn’t get more in the Bobby Flay business, they go and give him ANOTHER series; Bobby’s Dinner Battle begins its 5 episode first season on Monday, January 16th and finds teams of home cooks – selected from the best of the best at open auditions across the country – competing with each other to see who can cook and host the best dinner party for Bobby and his guests (and their competitors).,, f you didn’t watch season one of Showtime’s Inside Comedy – executive produced by Steve Carrell and featuring David Steinberg sitting down and talking comedy with some of the best in the business – you missed one of the best non-fiction shows of 2012. Season two premieres on February 11th and the 10 episode season will include conversations with Steve Martin, Martin Mull, the late Robert Schimmel, Robert Klein, Jim Carey, Betty White, Louis C.K., Tina Fey, Bill Maher, Bob Newhart, Ben Stiller, and more. Seriously one of the best shows about comedy in TV history… Mindy Kaling’s former Office co-star B.J. Novak will join her for multiple episodes of her new Fox comedy The Mindy Project. Eva Amurri (Californication) will also appear during the storyline…Fox has scheduled Stars in Danger: The High Dive – their two hour celebrity diving special – for Wednesday January 9th and signed JWoww, Bethany Hamilton, Alexandra Paul, Kim Richards, Kyle Richards, Antonio Sabato Jr, Terrel Owens, and David Chokachi to take part…HBO has ordered a pilot for Silicon Valley, a new comedy from Mike Judge (King of the Hill, Beavis and Butt-Head, Office Space). Judge will direct the live action pilot from a script he wrote with his fellow KOTH executive producers Dave Krinsky and John Altschuler that follows a group of people experiencing huge success in the high tech world yet having no idea how to deal it…Fox has ordered a pilot for the reality dating show Babes on a Bus; based on successful series from Norway, 10 single women get on a bus and go from small town to small town, meeting local bachelors at the various stops. Each week the women must decide if they want to stay in the town or get back on the bus and keep looking. Last summer Fox tried two new reality dating series, neither of which did well enough to get a second season…ABC has given a 13 episode first season order to Weird Desk, a supernatural procedural series that will run this summer. Written by David Titcher (TNT’s Librarian movies) and Carl Binder (worked as a writer and/or producer on all the Stargate series), the show is about a mysterious government organization that takes the cases too freaky for the CIA or the NSA to handle. Desk will join fellow new series Mistresses and returning hit Rookie Blue as part of the network’s summer programming along with Wipeout

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 7 Days…)

I must admit to having some mixed feelings about Liz Lemon marrying anyone other than her true love, Wesley Snipes, but last Thursday’s 30 Rock was a bit of an instant classic, mixing pop culture references, sheer randomness, and characters the audience has grown to know and care for over the years into a 22 minute treasure that had me laughing out loud from start to finish.

Any episode with Dennis Duffy is a good one, and the introduction of his adopted son Black Dennis is the first time this season I’ve been sad 30 Rock is ending; I would 100% watch a spinoff show about the Duffys!!!

After the time I’ve invested in Liz I am happy she got the wedding she wanted, although her first marriage to Saul Rosenbear was the real high point, complete with the same Love Boat obsession I had when I was that age.

30 Rock’s final season has been up and down but I am glad to know that if the actual series finale disappoints, I can go back and watch this episode and think of it as the farewell.

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…

If the above video doesn’t get you in the holiday spirit, nothing will…Mixed feelings about the Sons of Anarchy season finale; don’t get me wrong, it was very, very good, with certain things coming together just the way Jax planned and others spinning out of control wildly, but I feel like we’ve had several season finales now where multiple characters were facing the very real possibility of extended prison time. Now, the show has established via Opie exactly what can happen behind bars, so the danger is real both for the viewer and the characters, it’s just like I feel we’ve kind of done this before. The acting over the 90 minutes – over the season – over the series – was excellent, especially Ron Perlman, Theo Rossi, Jimmy Smits, and of course Katey Sagal… It’s not that I didn’t enjoy Once Upon a Time – especially the scene with Emma and Mr. Gold at the end – but it’s an odd choice to have your heroes spend an hour with a specific goal to defeat the villains only to have a moment at the end that basically says, “oh, the bad guys found another way.” I blame the network’s new obsession with the “winter finale” concept, putting pressure on writer’s to create a cliffhanger, whether the story calls for it or not…Another week, another very strong effort from New Girl, this time taking the fact that they’ve spent so much time establishing exactly who the characters are using it to their advantage by putting them in some outlandish situations and letting the humor fly. On a show where the personalities were not so well defined it wouldn’t have worked anywhere near as well as the show would have relied on the situation for the humor but here the comedy came from the characters…This week’s “I Wasn’t Expecting To Be Emotionally Affected” moment was when Hope called Sabrina “mommy” for the first time. Raising Hope may be having its strongest season, as is evidenced by the laughs they can get from bizarre subject matter like a sexually aggressive squirrel; the comedy works because it’s more about the characters than the situations they find themselves in…Sad to see Amanda Brown go on The Voice but I am still Team Nicholas all the way…The Middle’s Christmas episode was a strong one, with Norm McDonald showing up once again. Speaking of the show’s recurring characters, I would totally watch a Rev. Tim Tom spinoff…The Mindy Project, Go On, and The New Normal seem to keep getting stronger as their first seasons continue. I had actually given up on Go On in week 3 or 4 but checked back in recently and have been impressed with how the writers have picked up on the strengths of the cast. Mindy is not fully there yet but this week’s episode was their most balanced one yet…

TV Pick Of The Week
You may have to been alive in the mid-to-late 80’s to truly appreciate both the greatness and popularity of Bo Jackson but 30 for 30’s You Don’t Know Bo will help if you weren’t. The award worthy documentary series ends its season with a look at one of the greatest athletes in history – that’s right, I said HISTORY – who also was a pop culture phenomenon in the pre-social media days when that phrase, “pop culture phenomenon” actually meant something.

Don’t miss You Don’t Know Bo, Saturday at 9pm on ESPN following Heisman Trophy Presentation ceremonies at 8pm.

Hope You Need My Love, Babe, Just Like I Need You
Other noteworthy viewing options from the next seven days…

*Joel McHale hosts the second annual American Giving Awards on Saturday at 8pm on NBC, honoring both individuals and organizations who exemplify philanthropy and caring for their fellow persons.

*I was talking on the TTTP FB page this week about how, to me, Miracle on 34th Street (Sunday, 8pm) is really the only acceptable choice as the best Christmas film of all time and now thanks to AMC you can judge for yourself. I do love that the second half of the movie will run in the timeslot occupied by The Walking Dead last week.

*Amazing Race crowns a new winner with a two hour episode this Sunday at 8pm on CBS.

*Syfy’s celebrates 20 years in the aptly titled Syfy’s 20th Anniversary Special this Monday at 9pm…

*Take It All begins it’s every weeknight for two weeks run on NBC this Monday at 9pm. This new Howie Mandell hosted game show is a mix of Deal or No Deal and Let’s Make a Deal. Monday it’s followed by the special Michael Buble: Home for the Holidays.

*Get out the hankies for the holiday episode of Parenthood (Tuesday, 10pm, NBC).

*12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief is running live on HBO, Showtime, AMC, and other cable networks and includes performances from Bruce Springsteen, Kanye West, The Who, Paul McCartney, Alicia Keys, and Jon Bon Jovi live from Madison Square Garden.

*TTTP fave Sarah Shahi begins her run on Chicago Fire (NBC) this Wednesday at 10pm.

Two Tivos To Paradise
3 Days to Open with Bobby Flay, 24 Hour Restaurant Battle, 30 Rock, After the Catch, American Idol, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, 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, 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 Academy, Ghost Hunters International, Ghost Lab, Glee, Gossip Girl, 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, 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, Texas Multi Mammas, Top Chef, Top Chef Just Desserts, Top Chef: Masters, Top Design, Tosh.0, True Blood, 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 our last regular news column of 2012, including a rundown of the Golden Globe nominations!

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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