TCA Tour, Jan. 2009: “Clean House: Search for the Messiest Home in the Country”

As soon as I read about this series, I had two thoughts. The first was, “Oh, good, Niecy Nash had something to fall back on when ‘Do Not Disturb’ was canceled.” The second was, “Oh, God, I think my office alone could possibly get me on this show.” But as soon as the clips began, I realized that, despite our occasional moments of disrepair, there ain’t no way in hell that the Harris home could ever reach the deplorable depths of the houses that are spotlighted on this series. Some of them are so bad that you wonder how in God’s name anyone could stand to live in such conditions…which, of course, begs the question, “Is it possible that some of these people made their houses look this bad just so that they could get onto the show?”

“If they did, they had a lot to work with,” said Nash. “You know what I’m saying? It means that they had to get the clutter from somewhere. Even if they only pulled it out of the garage, it means that it existed somewhere in their space. The people who I know who did not manufacture their clutter is because it’s very difficult to manufacture clutter and filth on top of it. When it’s dirty and it’s borderline nasty, you say, ‘Baby, these people were already living like this.’ Another thing you can’t manufacture is smell. That will get you. It’s good thing we don’t have Smell-O-Vision; it’s hard on a sister’s nose sometimes.”

“Clean House” is preparing to celebrate its 100th episode (which surprises me a little bit, as I wasn’t familiar with the series until this panel), but as Nash acknowledged, not everyone is always excited about the job of spiffing up that’s been done by the show.

“One of the clients who I get asked the most about was my family where, after the reveal, the lady cried,” said Nash. “Her name was Judge Dragon, and she cried, and she carried on. But Mark Brunetz, my designer with the magic, who I work with, kind of saw that there was going to be a storm coming down the pipe, so we were kind of prepared for her to have a fit. I didn’t know it was going to be that big of a fit, but, you know we do our best, and you can’t make everybody happy all the time, can you? Anybody who’s a parent knows that. We take some bruises along the way, but it’s all right.”

The new season of “Clean House” premieres on The Style Network later in 2009.

  

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TCA Tour, Jan. 2009: Fox newsflash

Kevin Reilly, president of Fox Entertainment, just came onstage and announced:

* The scheduling process for “Dollhouse” was considered very seriously, and the thought is that moving “Sarah Connor” to Fridays as a lead-in makes a good combo; additionally, there’s a solid promotional platform the night before, with “Bones” being moved to Thursday nights. Long story short, they’re committed to 13 episodes, and they’ll see how it’ll play out.

* He confirmed conclusively that “Prison Break” will end after this season, but that “they’re gonna finish strong.” There are four episodes and are contemplating doing a few more, but no formal decision has been made on that. “We didn’t give it the hook,” he said. “It’s just played out.”

* He described “Fringe” as “a keeper,” though he also referred to it as “a bear, creatively, because it’s so ambitious,” and doesn’t really expect it to take off just because it’ll be airing after “American Idol.”

* “Moment of Truth” has a season’s worth of episodes – 24, he reckons – sitting on the shelf, and “we’ll come back to it at some point,” but “we had other options, and we had other things that we wanted to put on more immediately. We have it as a tool when we want to go for it.”

* The idea of doing a show about a high school glee club (“Glee”) was one that came about predominantly because of one reason: it was created by Ryan Murphy, of “Nip/Tuck” fame.

* He hopes to have Paula Abdul stay with “American Idol” for the long haul.

* He described NBC as “the crazy ex-wife I can’t get away from,” but gave them credit for signing up Jay Leno and described it as “a smart, strategic move for a troubled place.”

* “Bones” works everywhere they put it and has only been growing, thanks to its base. If it does what they hope it will do for them on Thursday, however, they’ll lock it down there.

* He smirked that “Do Not Disturb,” if nothing else, made a lot of lists this year, and that they’re mostly sticking with their animated sitcoms, though they’re ordering five half-hour pilots and will see whether or not one of them will end up on the fall schedule. “It doesn’t make sense to order comedy for the sake of comedy,” he said. “Even if I have a show that we love, if we don’t think it can be protected on the fall schedule, we won’t put it on there.”

  

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2008: The Year in TV – Will Harris

Once the writer’s strike was over, the television industry got back to business with a vengeance, offering up quite a lot of high quality material…so much, in fact, that my TiVo is STILL loaded down with shows I just haven’t had the time to watch. Seriously, I’ve got three episodes of “My Boys” that I’ve been sitting on since July. There just aren’t enough hours in the day…and I’m a full-time TV critic, for God’s sake! But here’s at least some of the stuff that I dug and despised during the course of 2008…and sometime around 2012, maybe I can offer up a complete picture of 2009.

TOP 3 SHOWS

1. “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS

No other sophomore series came roaring out of the gate like this one. Fears that the show had already jumped the shark by getting Leonard and Penny together were dismissing before the end of the second-season premiere, the addition of Sara Gilbert to the cast was an added bonus, and the suggestion that Sheldon is a sex object to physics geeks is almost too funny for words. Mark my words: this is the year that Jim Parsons earns his first Emmy nomination.

2. “30 Rock,” NBC
There’s no truth to the rumor that you can’t be a member of the Television Critics Association if you don’t like “30 Rock,” but, really, what’s not to like? Tina Fey is both gorgeous and hilarious, Alec Baldwin can’t open his mouth without getting a laugh, and, come to think of it, there’s really no-one in this ensemble who isn’t funny. So why do they keep bringing on all of these guest stars? Beats me. But since they incorporate them so well into the episodes, it’s hard to complain.

3. “Life on Mars,” ABC
When I did my 2008 Fall TV Preview, I hadn’t yet seen the pilot for this series, but if I had, it would’ve beaten out “Fringe” for the top spot on my list of new shows I was most excited about. Rising above its “based on a British series” origins, “Life on Mars” has one of the strongest casts on television (Jason O’Mara, Harvey Keitel, Michael Imperioli, Gretchen Mol, and Jonathan Murphy), a great premise (a police detective gets knocked unconscious in 2008 and wakes up in 1973), and – perhaps most impressively – managed to survive its network’s recent purge of quality dramas. For God’s sake, don’t let it go the way of “Pushing Daisies.” If you haven’t watched it yet, it’s not too late.

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The worst goes first

Say adieu to “Do Not Disturb,” Fox’s Jerry-O’Connell-starring sitcom. If The Gospel According to Michael Ausiello can be trusted, then the series has already bitten the dust, thereby making it the first casualty of the 2008 fall season…and the least surprising.

Still, you have to give the show’s producers credit for having tried to amuse the critics, sending out a missive that was, ironically, funnier than the series itself.

According to a piece on Variety.com, certain TV writers received a letter from the producers, saying, “We here at ‘Do Not Disturb’ agree that by airing the ‘Work Sex’ episode — before airing the actual pilot — we created much confusion and we deserve all the criticism, the bad puns (i.e. ‘an early checkout from the fall season,’ ‘Do Not Make in the First Place,’ etc.) and, yes, even the accusation that it very well could be the final nail in the multicamera sitcom’s coffin.” Attached to the letter was a DVD which contained an ostensibly funnier episode of the show.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of the critics who received the letter / DVD combo…which is a shame, as I’m skeptical that such a thing as a consistently-funny episode of “Do Not Disturb” exists, and I would’ve liked to have been proven wrong.

  

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Greetings to the New Show: “Do Not Disturb”

Back in July, when every broadcast network other than CBS was being stingier than Ebeneezer Scrooge about sending out screeners of pilots (or, in NBC’s case, first episodes, since they don’t do pilots anymore), I was pleasantly surprised when Fox stepped forward and provided us with the pilot for their new sitcom, “Do Not Disturb,” which focuses on the staff of a high-class hotel.

But then I watched it.

After enduring the viewing experience, I was still surprised that they’d provided us with the pilot…but, now, instead of being surprised that they had finished product with which to provide us, I was simply surprised that they felt like the show was worth showing to us, let alone put on the air. I don’t know if you remember my posting after sitting through the TCA panel for the show, but if you don’t, then this one sentence should provide you with sufficient insight as to my feelings on the pilot:

I was perhaps one of the few fans of Jerry O’Connell’s previous series, “Carpoolers,” and hearing that Jason Bateman directed the pilot episode of this hotel-based sitcom, I walked in ready to love it, but sweet Jiminy Christmas, this thing sucked so much that it might as well have been sponsored by Oreck.

Yes, it was just that good…and at least one other person agreed with me: my esteemed evil twin, Bill Harris of the Toronto Sun, who described it as the least funny sitcom pilot to cross his path in a couple of years. I think it’s safe to say that this dissatisfaction was shared by others beyond just writers named William Harris, however, since Fox soon made the decision to air an episode other than the pilot when the series premieres on September 10th. As a result of this move, the network proceeded to send us an advance screener of this episode as well…and after more than a week of having it sitting in my house and taunting me, I’m finally going to steel myself and watch it. But know this: I’m doing it for you, dear readers. People say that critics sit on high and look down at everyone else, deciding what’s good and what’s not, and maybe that’s true sometimes, but let’s not forget the sacrifices they make for the people who read their work…and while we’re at it, let’s not forget to ask God to have mercy on my soul for at least the next 22 minutes or so.

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