Saturday, October 31, 2009

"MonsterQuest" Marathon All Day Today on History Channel!


Don't miss the terrific MonsterQuest marathon on History Channel today! In primetime they throw in an episode of Modern Marvels about Halloween, but mostly it's some great MonsterQuest episodes!


Monday, October 26, 2009

U2, YouTube and Millions of Fans Join for a Global Video Event

Nearly 100,000 fans gathered to watch Bono and the legendary rock band U2 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California last night. The concert made history in two regards; largest attendance ever at a Rose Bowl concert gathering and the first time that YouTube streamed an entire concert live. The latter is what I really want to highlight here, because it was utterly magnificent. Sound and visual was stunning from this (Time Warner Roadrunner high speed) customer's perspective. The option for either full screen or partial screen with a YouTube and Twitter comment section was available. This YouTube live stream was available in 16 countries including the US, UK, Canada, Japan and various South American venues. Watching the concert live with continuous comments from joyous fans around the world was truly an uplifting moment. If you missed the "live" version, YouTube will re-stream the entire concert on their page sometime today.Combined with the jaw dropping 360 degree set (pictured) which was patterned after the "Spider" theme building at the Los Angeles airport, the entire event felt like something out of a Sci-Fi movie. I also spent most of the concert texting friends and family, who were either at the Rose Bowl or watching it on YouTube, as well as adding my status updates about the whole thing to Facebook continuously. It was one big virtual concert blast for me.

It will be very interesting to see what kind of an impact this web event had in terms of grabbing eyeballs from Sunday night television. Video content continues to migrate from one medium to the next, (or occupy both spaces simultaneously). The YouTube U2 concert was thrilling and its execution was smooth and seamless. I would expect to see more splashy live video events on the web soon, since this one was such an amazing success.

Oh...yeah. Bono and The Edge were phenomenal too. Here's a taste of the boys from Ireland performing "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", while 100,000 adoring folks from Los Angeles sing along. Transcendent. Gorgeous.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I'm in Love with Ted Danson on HBO's "Bored to Death"!

Ted Danson racks up another of his impeccable performances in HBO's Bored to Death. If you aren't watching this show, start as soon as possible! It's delightful. Here's a little compilation clip, featuring Danson and his co-stars Jason Schwartzman and Zack Galifianakis.



(Danson also tends to show up as himself in Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm, new episodes also now on HBO. Don't miss either of these terrific shows!)

The Snazziest Soupy Sales Song Clip Ever!

I posted this on Facebook a couple of days ago, but it needs to be here on The Flaming Nose, too. This is undoubtedly the grooviest rendition of the late great Soupy Sales' wonderful novelty rock and roll song "Do The Mouse", seen here from a 1967 episode of Hullaballoo.

Soupy and the dancers are swingin'! It's adorable!



Is that not the greatest?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Saying Goodbye to Soupy Sales



Baby boomers are saddened to learn of the death of childhood comedy icon Soupy Sales, who passed away yesterday in New York. He was 83 years old, and certainly was a bright and beloved figure in the annals of television comedy and kid shows particularly, although as you can see from the clips below, his were the hippiest supposedly children's programs around (except maybe for Paul Winchell's.)

I'd like to think that there were kids who preferred the gentler kiddy shows, and then there were the rest of us who grooved to the craziness of Soupy and his ilk. How a talented little Jewish kid from North Carolina became the legendary Soupy Sales is a wild ride, and you'll enjoy reading about his accomplished career in several great articles, including a wonderful series of several pieces from TV Party, an affectionate tribute from Mark Evanier on POV Online, another from Craig on his Flexitoon blog, a really good obituary from the L.A. Times, one from USA Today, and on Soupy Sales' MySpace page.

You'll enjoy watching this selection of clips, including an appearance by Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. in one of them. There are lots of Soupy clips on YouTube and elsewhere, and there's at least one collection available for sale. Hip, handsome and hilarious, Soupy Sales was a boomer favorite who will be affectionately remembered as a television pioneer.







The Soupy Sales Show - Frank Sinatra & Sammy Davis jr

So long, Soupy! We loved you!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Are You Pythoning This Week?


We're a tad late with this, but we hope that you are enjoying IFC's six part, six night event this week, saluting the greatest comedy influence of the late 20th century, Britain's Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Please visit IFC's website for all the schedule particulars, but don't expect to be able to watch any of the clips if you are anywhere but in the U.S. of A. There's some powerful and tremendously rude IP geoblocking going on there. Horrible and so uninviting, IFC!!!

The new documentary and the ensuing Python reunion event earlier this month in New York are good news for Python fans everywhere! I fondly remember going to see them live at the Hollywood Bowl, and if you also hold them in high esteem, you will love the doc!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Nose Salutes the Macy's Commercial


From time to time The Flaming Nose likes to showcase great TV commercials. If you like big, emotional feel good spots (who doesn't?) this one's for you. Historical references and wonderful clips of old movies and television. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday's Rich Television Pageant

At the risk of repeating ourselves for about the hundredth time, Sunday completely rocks on television. Right now we are in the midst of returning seasons for three amazing Sunday night shows that we particularly love, plus a first round of a new series we've fallen for big-time.

On Showtime, the fourth season of Dexter has so far mostly avoided the dreaded domestic life doldrums -- he's now a suburban husband with a new baby -- though by a mile any scenes at home are a drag compared to the workplace goings-on. We long for more screen time for Keith Carradine as retired FBI man Frank Lundy, former amour of Dex's sister Debra, and we're totally creeped out -- deeply so -- by John Lithgow's chameleonic, hypnotic and horribly vicious Trinity Killer. (I think we're in for an awful Trinity kill very soon; last episode didn't Lundy mention something about a man being one of his victims? I've got a really bad feeling about this...Yikes. I think you know what I'm getting at.) If the show isn't perhaps quite as riveting as previous seasons, I'm blaming the homelife angle.

AMC continues the sublime television spectacle that is Mad Men. More a work of art than a traditional TV show, more suited to contemplation than mere consumption, this is one series that unfortunately suffers by its airing on a channel with commercials. They are intrusive and annoying, period. We realize many folks are recording and watching later, presumably whizzing through the breaks, but the exquisite and studied ambience of Mad Men deserves better than that.

However, we salute AMC for bringing us two of the very best series out there, the other one being Breaking Bad which they are replaying on Sunday nights, too. Breaking Bad has the most amazing generation-crossing friendship between its characters Walter and Jesse (Brian Cranston and Aaron Paul), second only to the considerably lighter but no less fascinating relationship between Jonathan (Jason Schwartzman) and George (Ted Danson) on HBO's Bored to Death.

Bored to Death has become one of our favorites around here, with every performance a gem and with a charmingly off-kilter sensibility that pulls you in without fail. The friendship we referred to is a lynchpin of the series, with Danson's overly-rich, amazingly vulnerable and ultimately totally likeable George the magazine publisher a perfect match for Schwartman's nerdish and earnest neurotic Jonathan, based on the real-life author Jonathan Ames' works and life. (Jane wrote early praise for the series here.) Along with Zach Galfianakis as Jonathan's comic artist pal, the trio copes with their combined neuroses, girl troubles and outlandish predicaments with unique aplomb and considerable imagination. Bored to Death is highly recommended, as is the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm which immediately precedes BtD on Sunday evenings on HBO.

Curb Your Enthusiasm is back to basics with Larry David preoccupied with a Seinfeld reunion show, trying to get back together with his ex-wife Cheryl, and the usual collection of phobias, behavioral tics and unusual beliefs which combine into a bewilderingly hilarious farce. (I've been immersing myself lately in Seinfeld reruns -- usually three a day -- and though I love some new sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory, everything else seems just a little one note after the Rube Goldberg-like perfection of the average Seinfeld episode.)

We were sad to see Entourage end their current run a few weeks ago, and especially so since Kevin Dillon was absolutely brilliant and moving in the last couple of segments as he faced crippling audition anxiety. Equally wonderful was Rex Lee as assistant-turned-agent Lloyd, as was Jeremy Piven spectacularly desperate as Ari Gold particularly in the last episodes, but once again I'm not sure I'd even call the best of this series anywhere near comedy. What Entourage gave us was skillfully nuanced drama with some savage comedy thrown in. Seems weird to have something like this show, and the actors on it, competing a Emmy time with things like The Big Bang Theory or Two and a Half Men. We really need a "Traditional Comedy" category and another for these more complicated hybrids -- think also Californication and Nurse Jackie.

Four great series, one super evening! Get set for the best night on television, coming up in a few hours! We can't wait!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Getting Ready to Flee from Glee

We're just barely dipping a toe into the Fall 2009 season, and one of the most promising new programs is starting to show signs of severe illness. Someone better grab the Tamiflu, this series has the television equivalent of H1N1. It's not just me either, I've read disappointed grumblings about Fox television's Glee all over the Internet.

What's the Problem?

Actually never mind the anti viral medication, what this show could have used a few weeks ago was birth control. There is a double pregnancy story line which is dull and off-putting. The teen pregnancy for Ms. Popular Cheerleader is forced, trite and utterly devoid of humor. The false pregnancy for teacher Will's deranged wife is just over the top creepy. Let's put it this way...when I playback my recorded episode of "Glee", I watch the commercials and fast forward through Terri the nutcase wife with the pillow under her shirt. Maybe it's a plot by the Fox Ad Sales department; let the conspiracy theories begin.

What's the Solution?

There is still much to love and much to salvage on this program. The musical numbers continue to be top notch and wonderfully choreographed. This week's final song (Keep Holding On) was a 10 on Jane's goose-bump meter, which I have borrowed from my American Idol posts and will now use to rate the "Glee" songs. The chemistry between high school singing rivals Finn and Rachel is
wonderful. Lea Michele, a Broadway singing veteran since the age of 8, plays Rachel to perfection. Last but not least, we have scene stealing and set chewing maven extraordinaire, Ms. Jane Lynch. She plays the formidable coach of the "Cheerios" drill team and lately she reminds me of the metal mouthed monster on the "Alien" trilogy. I mean that as a compliment. Never mind acting, I think Jane Lynch would make an awesome Secretary of Defense. She is the most fascinating TV comedy antagonist ever.

I hope the "Glee" writers and producers are listening to the drum beat on the web. At the very least, please make the weird Mrs. Schuester and her fake pregnancy go away and we can all settle down and sing along together again.

As proof that somebody has been loving Glee, the YouTube below (Slide show and audio only, Video disabled by Fox...but hey you can buy it on iTunes) has gotten over two million views. Another successful revival for an old Journey song! It's a great showcase for Lea Michele's powerhouse voice.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gavin MacLeod - The Interview

Gavin MacLeod is a true television legend. Obviously, he's had a long and successful career in the medium of television, but before his road to enduring icon status he enjoyed a career in both theater and film. I am honored that Mr. MacLeod has agreed to be interviewed by "The Flaming Nose." We here at "The Flaming Nose" have all enjoyed careers in television and it is a privilege to share this interview with our readers.

J: Gavin, thanks for taking the time to be interviewed here at The Flaming Nose. You and I discussed some time ago my own deep interest in Native American history and culture. You’re the son of a Chippewa descendant. As an actor, did you ever have an opportunity to play a Native American?

G: Check out my beautiful baby blues! Unfortunately, I never had an opportunity to play a Native American. That would have been intriguing casting!

J: Yes, I get the baby blues, but I thought with contacts and all… What was the driving decision that led you into acting?

G: My first play was when I was 4 years old. That was the start which became my passion, not the applause, but the acting. I won several awards in high school and then I received a drama scholarship to Ithaca College. I got a Bachelor of Fine Arts, an Honorary Doctorate of fine arts and a Lifetime Achievement Award ~ all from Ithaca.

J: Your first big break came in the Broadway show of “A Hatful of Rain.” After your first night on Broadway did you experience fear in thinking this might be it or were you energized and confident?

G: My first night on Broadway was a momentous time in my life - a goal realized! I was very confident and humbled to be included on stage with some of the best actors in the business.

J: You carved out a serious reputation for playing the “heavy” prior to making your mark in episodic television. How did that come about and how did you get out of it? Actors always say it’s fun to play bad. I assume you would agree.

G: I played "heavy" because I was a young man with a bald head, so what else could casting agents do with someone like that? I finally played leading men when I bought my first hairpiece. Eventually with age, I grew into my look without hair. Some of the "heavies" I played like the ones on The Untouchables, Big Chicken in Hawaii Five-O were delicious roles. They were great fun and I enjoyed every minute of those roles.

J: “McHale’s Navy” then came along. A regular paycheck with a well known cast! Did you feel you were on the proverbial cloud nine? Any funny moments you can share? Tim Conway had to be good for plenty of laughs. Ernest Borgnine played light in the show, but he was known for serious drama – his great Oscar-winning performance in “Marty” and his robust bad guy from “From Here to Eternity” wouldn’t lead one to believe he would have comedy chops.

G: Working with Ernie, Tim and Joe Flynn on McHale's Navy was a good two year gig with lots of laughs. I enjoyed the experience and they were terrific people and wonderful actors. I left the show to go to China to shoot “The Sand Pebbles” with Steve McQueen. Steve and I had previously played brothers on the New York stage and working on this Oscar nominated film was a wonderful ten month job. I continue to pinch myself when I realize how many of the show business icons I have had the pleasure and honor to work with. It still amazes me. I've worked with Bob Hope, Barbara Stanywyck, Orson Welles, Gregory Peck, Cary Grant, Charles Bronson, Bing Crosby, Clint Eastwood. It's been an amazing ride!

J: Did your own time in the military play any consequential part in your roles in the films “Pork Chop Hill,” “War Hunt,” “The Sand Pebbles” or “Kelly’s Heroes?’

G: Kelly's Heroes was a terrific experience! Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas and especially Donald Sutherland made this location and shoot an unforgettable career experience. Brian Hutton, our director, one of my all-time favorites had acted with me on the stage and in 1960 he directed Robert Blake and myself in a play about drugs called “The Connection.” Great memories.

J: You had the opportunity to work with Ronald Reagan twenty years before he became President? Did you ever give that a thought at that time? I wonder if he ever gave that a thought at that time? What were your impressions of the President? Did you have an encounter with President Reagan once he entered office? Were you ever able to reminisce?

G: Ronald Reagan was the president of the Screen Actors Guild and the producer of General Electric Theatre in 1960. When I worked with the future President and Peggy Lee (who appeared in the same program), he was very charming and he took me to lunch on my first day of rehearsal and we had a good shoot. Years later, I spent an evening with Nancy and him at the Beverly Hills Hotel when we presented Nancy Kissinger with an award. My wife Patti and I were guests of his at the White House when he was President. We met the number one chef at the White House who had previously worked on cruise ships. He requested a meeting with Captain Stubing and gave us cookies to take home. Cookies from the White House, what a memory! During President Reagan's two terms, I even traveled the nation for Mrs. Reagan's "Hugs, not Drugs" program.

J: Blake Edwards was one of the most gifted directors of the last 50 years. You worked with him. Tell me about that relationship.

G: Blake Edwards was instrumental in getting my career cooking. From the first Ivy League heavy in the “Peter Gunn” pilot to the naive Yeomen in “Operation Petticoat,” and then on the films “High Time,” “The Party” and TV's “Mr. Lucky.” A fun and brilliant director to work with!

J: Ok. You worked with my all-time favorite actor. Robert Redford! You worked with him on "War Hunt" and that was Redford’s first feature film. Any consequential or not so consequential moments with the Sundance Kid? Have you ever encountered him again on the pathway of life?

G: Yes, "War Hunt" was Robert Redford's first film. Redford and his first wife Lola, were a terrific couple. Redford, Tom Skeritt (they went on to work together years later when Redford directed Skeritt in "A River Runs Through It") and myself used to hang out together. One night at his rental home, Bob had six of us over for dinner and showed us a model of a ranch he wanted to build in Utah. Eventually, that model became Sundance. Redford, in addition to being a wonderful actor and director is one of the best story tellers around. He is a gifted wordsmith. Funny, bright and charming. He would visit my home and captivate my kids. Way back then in the 1960’s. Very pleasant memories of that time in my life.

J: My all-time favorite show is “I Love Lucy.” The Flaming Nose title comes from the classic William Holden episode from “I Love Lucy.” My second all time favorite show is “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Mary Richards is the single most admirable female character in television history. Strong, smart, independent and elegant. I can only imagine how many women wanted to be MTM. Plus, she had a great sense of style. She rocked every item better than any woman in show biz history outside of Audrey Hepburn. It is an honor to interview the man who brought Mar's friend, Murray Slaughter to my television screen! How did you get the role of Murray Slaughter? Have you remained close with Mary and the gang? Was there one relationship from the show that was stronger than the others?

G: M-T-M was the greatest! I had just returned from the former Yugoslavia and shooting "Kelly's Heroes" when I received a call to read a pilot. They wanted to see me for Lou Grant and I read two scripts and felt I was better suited for Murray Slaughter. It is a long story but you know the result. Seven years of pride and being a part of this incredible TV experience. Mary will always be the greatest to me. Ted, Ed and I were very close friends. Georgia is very dear and is special to me. "Love is all around!"

J: The Love Boat! Another big wow for your career! What an amazingly successful and iconic series. Seriously, did you have any idea what you were getting yourself into?

G: Even though I was aware that two previous pilots didn't sell I still felt The Love Boat would be a hit and that's why I selected it over three other shows I was offered. I never quite anticipated the effect it would have on the world travel industry. Now the word cruising is in everyones vocabulary. I have been working for Princess Cruises since1986 as their spokesperson and at that time we had two mini ships and we now have 18 mega ships. Jack Jones has always been a friend. I just spoke to him and his new bride last week so he is living our theme song, "Love, exciting and new." One of my favorite moments was during the last show when I had the opportunity to marry my dear friend, Marion Ross. Mrs. C from “Happy Days” has now become Mrs. Captain Stubing. Yes, many people address me as "Captain" - some call me "Murray" - my kids call me "Pop".

J: You have a new film out right now (it was released on September 18). The film is called “The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry.” I saw the film. What motivates you at this point in your career to accept a role? What was it about Jonathan Sperry that pushed you to say yes.

G: Jonathan Sperry is the most satisfying and important role I have ever had the privilege to play. To have the opportunity to speak God's word and see lives changed has been the highlight of my career. I am very proud to have taken part in bringing Jonathan Sperry to the general public and to have touched the lives of so many. Judith, my entire life has been a blessing - all my mistakes have been forgiven and I have become a new person in Christ. This is my life now.

J: I’m really excited about a project you are involved with – Character Classics. The concept is needed. It’s all about teaching young kids (3-8) about character. Respect, Obedience, Kindness, Thankfulness, Truthfulness. What led you to this project?

G: Character Classics is a product that is really needed, especially at this time in our world. We lack any sense of morality, respect and all of the rest of those traits that I find lacking in society today. Young children need to learn character! Obedience, respect, truthfulness, kindness and thankfulness are what they need to be taught. This content will change lives! That is why I wanted to be a participant in the Character Classics Project. I hope sales go through the roof, because it will bless everyone and enhance the chance to bring morality back into the daily lives of our children.

J: Gavin, thank you so much for sharing a bit of your career with me. I enjoyed our chat and I will continue to enjoy your work for many years to come. Love is all around.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mad Men Meltdown of the Week

How is it possible that a series as languid as Mad Men has already aired 9 episodes and it seems like they just started the new season a week or two ago? This program is more densely packed than a holiday fruitcake, and fortunately more easy to digest.

This week's episode ("Wee Small Hours"), sans the amazing force of nature Joan should have felt even slower than normal, but three story lines kept me on the edge of my seat. Don continued his jousting with Connie Hilton, who keeps calling him in the middle of the night to whisper ideas over 40 year old prohibition era moonshine. Don doesn't seem at all alarmed by Connie's suggestions which are apparently fueled by a direct pipeline to God and include a Hilton Hotel on the moon. Connie isn't nearly as nuts as he seems though, and he (quite correctly) tells Don that his creative effort for the Hilton world wide expansion campaign is "good but not great".

Meanwhile, Betty kicks her flirtation with Henry the governor's aide up a few notches and wins this week's "Meltdown" award, when she hurls a metal campaign cash box at Henry in a burst of childish rage. Betty Draper is becoming increasingly disturbed. Not to go all pop Psychology, but I think she's bipolar. The kids shouldn't be left alone with her anymore, thank God for Carla the maid.

Last but by no means least, closeted commercial producer Sal found himself out on the street this week when he rebuffed the advances of a Lucky Strike client. Drunk and angry, the client demanded Sal's head (so to speak) and Don gave in rather than lose a $20 million dollar account.

It would be very unlikely for Matt Weiner to jettison two powerhouse characters (Sal and Joan) so one would hope to see them brought back to the fold soon. Less crazy Betty and more Joan d'Advertising Agency would suit me just fine.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Flaming Nose 2009 Network Preview


They're Here! Is it Fall 2009 already? We're a little late with our Fall Preview -- sorry about that! We've been so caught up with HBO's TrueBlood, the return of Dexter on Showtime, and AMC's Mad Men that we almost forgot about the broadcast networks, and we're not the only ones, judging from the lack of buzz about most of the new season. But it's upon us, and here's our night-by-night rundown on what's out there this Fall.



Sunday


Not much new for Sunday nights, not on the traditional networks. CBS goes for a new hospital drama with Three Rivers, using the life-and-death world of organ donation medicine as the springboard for its stories. Naturally, the doctors are handsome -- Alex O'Loughlin (Moonlight) -- and multicultural -- Joaquim De Almeida (24, Crusoe), Daniel Henney (X Men Origins: Wolverine), and there is impressive distaff participation from Julia Ormond (Sabrina) and Katherine Moenning (hairstylist Shane on The L Word). I'd certainly prefer this over the fading Desperate Housewives on ABC, though the series seems like a tough sell out of the much lighter Amazing Race. Especially when you consider that cable puts its snazziest series on Sunday nights, Three Rivers might need to be put on life support, stat!

Fox offers a new animated series The Cleveland Show spun off from Family Guy, a move that seems guaranteed to work nicely in their popular Sunday animated block. Surprise strength might be seen from the CW's encore of their The Vampire Diaries, at 8pm.

Monday


Of course the big news is the 10pm M - F The Jay Leno Show, a much-debated move by NBC to transfer Leno's late-night audience to an earlier slot. Affiliates around the country are concerned about the lead-in to their newscasts, but everything is up for grabs right now and it will take a while before initial impressions settle into a consistent audience -- or not. Evidently it doesn't have to do much of a number to make plenty of money for NBC, and maybe that will be enough to give it a big thumbs up for a long run.

Earlier in the night NBC premieres a high-energy medical action drama Trauma, a San Francisco-set hour featuring the adventures of paramedics. It's got a good producer -- Peter Berg of Friday Night Lights -- and a talented cast: Cliff Curtis, the Maori actor who was great in The Whale Rider, Aimee Garcia (George Lopez), Anastasia Griffiths (Damages), Derek Luke (Antwone Fisher), Jamey Sheridan (L&O:Criminal Intent), Kevin Rankin (Friday Night Lights), and Taylor Kinney (Fashion House). Word is that one of the main characters will be gay, but other than that this sounds pretty traditional which doesn't mean it can't be terrific, of course. For us old-time TV fans, think of this as Emergency on steroids.

As ABC goes for the gold with their popular returning franchises and the second season of the Nathan Fillion series Castle, CBS adds to their successful Monday comedy block with their Knocked Up knock-off, Accidentally on Purpose, the new Jenna Elfman series about a near-40 successful newspaper film critic who ends up getting pregnant by a charming fellow many years her junior. The cast is good -- Elfman, Grant Show, Ashley Jensen (Ugly Betty, brilliant in Extras), Jon Foster as the young father-to-be, and various actors as his slacker-ish buddies -- and if you can accept the premise (and plenty did with Knocked Up) and think being pregnant is just the best thing ever, Accidentally on Purpose should work for you. There's no reason to think it won't fit perfectly into CBS' strong Monday.

Tuesday



ABC's Shark Tank has already debuted to not very positive buzz, but their new 10pm show The Forgotten has a much better chance to succeed. A Jerry Bruckheimer production, this is yet another crime procedural, this time the plotlines focusing on a group of amateur forensic enthusiasts who work together to name the unidentified victims of unsolved crimes. With a cast including Christian Slater (who unfortunately bombed out last season in his show for NBC), Michelle Borth (HBO's Tell Me You Love Me), and Rochelle Aytes (Madea's Family Reunion), The Forgotten appears like a can't-miss 10pm show.

In fact, The Forgotten sounds like a perfect lead-out for CBS' new 9pm spin-off NCIS: Los Angeles, and we would predict more than a few viewers making that connection. NCIS:LA stars Chris O' Donnell (who's moved easily between features and TV the past few years), singer/actor LL Cool J as his partner-in-crimesolving, and Linda Hunt. It's easy to predict that NCIS:LA will deliver the same solid entertainment package as its parent show. The lead-out is another rookie series The Good Wife, starring Julianna Margulies (still coasting on her ER popularity), Chris Noth (Sex and the City), and Christine Baranski. Margulies' husband is sent to jail after a nasty scandal, and she has to step back into her old life as a high-powered defense lawyer in order to support her two kids (in the manner to which they've become accustomed, no doubt). Certainly a showcase for the intelligent and bracing Margulies' intensity, The Good Wife will be a good test of the ability of a woman to headline a series on her own, a conundrum which has no consistently correct outcome.


Wednesday


ABC, despite the risky proposition of a night of all new programs, is off to a strong start with their 8p - 10p comedy block. Hank is Kelsey Grammer's new series, focusing on his once-rich CEO who suffers a reversal of fortune and returns to his wife's hometown to live the regular life. The Middle stars Everybody Loves Raymond alumni Patricia Heaton as a mother of a quirky-but-lovable brood in Indiana. Her husband is played by Neil Flynn (Scrubs), and her best friend by SNL veteran Chris Kattan. Modern Family is the critical darling of the bunch, centering around a trio of conventional/unconventional families and their domestic adventures. Married With Children vet Ed O'Neil is an older guy married to a sexy Hispanic divorcee (Sofia Vergara, Dirty Sexy Money). There's a more traditional two-parent family headed by Ty Burrell (Damages) and Julie Bowen (Ed, Boston Legal, Weeds), and the two-daddies family of Eric Stonestreet (CSI) and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (The Class).

The network's Cougar Town stars Courtney Cox (Friends) as the 40-something divorced mom of a teenage son who finds herself about to enter the dating scene again. Her ex is Brian Van Holt (Black Hawk Down), her neighbor is Josh Hopkins (Ally McBeal, Private Practice), and her assistant is Busy Phillips (Freaks and Geeks). ABC changes gears at 10pm with the hour Eastwick, based on the 1987 film The Witches of Eastwick. Rebecca Romijin (Ugly Betty, X-Men) stars as one of the ladies, along with Lindsay Price (Beverly Hills 90210, Lipstick Jungle), Jaime Ray Newman (General Hospital), the wonderful Veronica Cartwright (The Right Stuff, the Eastwick movie), and Sara Rue (Less Than Perfect). On the male side, taking the role of the Devil is Canadian star Paul Gross (Due South, Slings and Arrows), with Estonian actor Johann Urb and Jon Bernthal also co-starring.

CBS has no new shows on Wednesday, but NBC brings us hospital drama Mercy, standing in for the delayed Parenthood which has been pushed back due to the illness of star Maura Tierney.
Mercy is nurse-centric, featuring a trio of good young actresses -- Taylor Schilling, Jaime Lee Kirchner (Rent onstage, Rescue Me) and Michelle Trachtenberg (Buffy, Gossip Girl, Inspector Gadget).

Fox features its early starter Glee at 9pm. The show is becoming a fan favorite, generating much positive buzz and we'll see if it translates into lasting ratings strength. The CW has already cancelled This Beautiful Life and it's been replaced by an encore of Melrose Place.

Thursday


ABC hopes to create another Lost with Flash Forward, the intriguing tale of a catastrophic global mental blackout which confounds everyone on Earth, causing chaos and fear as people seem to have been shown parts of their own future while unconscious. The cast is excellent -- Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love, Elizabeth), Sonya Walger (Lost, Sleeper Cell), John Cho (Star Trek, Harold & Kumar, American Pie), Courtney V. Vance (ER, L&O:CI, The Tuskegee Airmen), Brian F. O'Byrne (Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Bug), among others. The network has been encoring the series hoping for sampling, and it looks so far like this will be a show with a future.

NBC brings in their new higher education sitcom Community, starring Chevy Chase, Joel McHale (The Soup), Gillian Jacobs (Choke), comedian Danny Pudi, Ken Jeong (The Hangover, Knocked Up, Pineapple Express), writer-actor-comedian Donald Glover, singer-actresss Yvette Nicole Brown and Allison Brie (Trudy Campbell in Mad Men). (Jane has sung the praises of Community here.)

Fox has a strong line-up of hour dramas with Bones and the sophomore thriller Fringe, making Thursday night not only a comedy powerhouse for viewers but also the home of some of the most interesting new dramas as well as returning favorites from several nets. The CW slots their new and so-far-doing-fangtastic Atlanta-filmed The Vampire Diaries in at 8pm, hoping to capture the television equivalent of Twilight's rabid teen fanbase. Nina Dobrev (DeGrassi, Away From Her), Ian Somerhalder (Lost), Paul Wesley (Wolf Lake), Steven R. McQueen (Everwood, grandson of THE Steve McQueen), Newfoundland native Sara Canning, Zach Roerig (Friday Night Lights), Candice Accola (Juno), actress-singer-songwriter Katerina Graham, dancer-actress Kayla Ewell, and Michael Trevino (Cane, The Riches) make up the attractive youthful cast, a CW trademark. The Vampire Diaries' lead-out is the returning chiller Supernatural which continues to deliver in its fifth season.


Friday

It's pretty much business as usual on Friday, though ABC throws Ugly Betty pretty much to the lions with its new Friday 9pm slot. It faces competition from CBS' new acquisition -- from rival net NBC -- of the Patricia Arquette psychic drama Medium which is paired up with the Eye's successful Ghost Whisperer (did you know that psychic James Van Praagh is one of the co-exec producers of the show?) in its fifth season.

Fox doesn't do new comedy Brothers any favors by sticking it in the 8pm slot here. Brothers stars former NFL star Michael Strahan (Pros vs. Joes) as a former NFL star, Daryl Chill Mitchell (Ed, House Party) as his wheelchair-bound restauranteur brother. (Mitchell is a former rap star turned actor who was paralyzed from the waist down in a 2001 motorcycle accident). Actress CCH Pounder (The Shield, ER, The X Files) co-stars, along with veteran actor Carl Weathers who plays the brothers' high school football coach father. Dollhouse is back at 9pm, somewhat surprisingly considering it never quite got off the ground last season, but you don't bid a casual goodbye to Joss Whedon or his talent.

On the CW, its longstanding quiet hit drama Smallville is relegated to the 8pm slot; this is one case of an abundance of riches in the same genre for the CW -- supernatural dramas -- and nowhere to put them all. Hopefully the show will survive this graveyard shift of a time period.


Saturday



Saturday is the comfortable home of the stalwart Cops and America's Most Wanted on Fox, and an assortment of encores of various weeknight dramas on the other networks. Fox also gives comedienne Wanda Sykes an hour-long 11pm comedy/talkshow beginning in November.


The Flaming Nose will be here to watch what happens as the season progresses. So far we're liking Community and Flash Forward, and more on these and the other new series coming soon!


Friday, October 2, 2009

"Community" Tries Hard to Please on NBC

A clever and mostly pleasant comedy premiered on NBC last week brought to us by Joe and Anthony Russo of "Arrested Development" fame. Airing Thursdays at 9:30pm, Community is an ensemble of quirky characters set at a local community college. The cast is mixed but interesting. Joel McHale anchors the effort as Jeff, the self centered smarty pants lawyer forced to return to college when his degree is discovered to be a sham. Simultaneously amusing and annoying is Dani Pudi as Abed, the Arab-American pop culture nerd with a serious case of ADD. The stereotypical angry middle aged divorcee (Shirley) is capably rendered by Yvette Brown. Chevy Chase stars as Pierce, a sage senior who is in every class and we are never really sure why. Chase is brilliantly underplaying his former star persona in this series. He is subtle, eccentric and a true team player. Last night's episode in which he tried to teach a fellow student how to "sneeze like a man" was genius.

One of the funniest characters in the series is Senor Chang, a Chinese American Spanish teacher played by Ken Jeong, who stole the show on the hit summer movie comedy, "The Hangover". Note to NBC---make sure Senor Chang is in every episode, he brings the most humor and energy.

Rounding out the cast is Gillian Jacobs as Britta, the obligatory pretty blond which, based on a 50 year old rule, must appear in every television sitcom. She's light as a feather and so far not especially memorable.

This series might be a diamond in the rough if the writing stays sharp. It's definitely a worthy lead-out for The Office and 30 Rock on Thursday nights.