Winter 2011 TCA Press Tour: Top 10 Quotes from Day 7

American Idol

1. Q: Are you going to have to put Steve on a five second delay on (‘American Idol’)?
Steven Tyler: Fuck, no. (Pauses) I question whether I should have done that just now.

2. Q: So how does it feel to be a Latina on (‘American Idol’)?
Jennifer Lopez: I don’t know how it would feel to be anything else.

3. “Having done ‘The Shield’ and ‘The Chicago Code,’ I’d feel much more comfortable being pulled over by the Chicago PD than the LAPD at this point.” – Shawn Ryan, “The Chicago Code”

4. Q: Can you talk about how you find the voices for new characters like this? Do you work with the producers and they say, “We kind of want this sound,” or do you look at the character sketch and say, “Hey”? How does that work?
Eugene Mirman: We went on a year long walkabout, and then it came to us.
Kristen Schaal: Trying to go get in touch with our, like, spirit animals. Like mine’s a tiger, and I studied tigers for a year.
Eugene Mirman: That doesn’t answer your question at all. We played around in the studio over a period of probably year and a half or two recording and rerecording stuff for this pilot, and sort of, with both us and direction from Loren and FOX, sort of, I think, found the tone and voice, but also I have a spirit animal too.
Kristen Schaal: What is it?
Eugene Mirman: I’m not telling anybody. No one cares.
Kristen Schaal: Sounds like a turtle.
Eugene Mirman: It’s a “minx,” if that’s an animal.

Eugene Mirman and Kristen Schaal, “Bob’s Burgers”

Bob's Burgers

5. Q: For the showrunners (of ‘Terra Nova’), I have a time-paradox question.
Brannon Braga: Oh, dear God.
Q: Aren’t the people who sent them back, who aren’t going back with them, worried about being fixed out of existence? And what exactly are they hoping to achieve by doctoring the past, and why are the people in the present not worried about being unmade by them?
Brannon Braga: I feel like we’re at a “Star Trek” convention.

6. Q: I have a question about the timeline (of ‘Terra Nova’). 85 million years ago, it seems to me 20 million years from then, there’s a giant asteroid that destroys all life on Earth?
Alex Graves: Yes. The series will not go 20 million years.
Brannon Braga: Let’s just say that they’re acutely aware of that fact and have a plan in mind.
Rene Echevarria: And they have 20 million years to effect that plan.

7. “I take the subway all the time, and when I go on, the first thing I do is I say, ‘Don’t everybody get up. It’s me. It’s Colonel Quaritch from ‘Avatar,’ but keep your seats,’ you know, because I really don’t want to be recognized by people.” – Stephen Lang, “Terra Nova”

Stephen Lang

8. “I had this idea where it was basically like…I’m pretty responsibile. I work hard at what I do, but I sometimes forget to return DVDs…back when you actually returned DVDs…or I forget to pay parking tickets. Then I realized that, if I just budgeted like $300 a year for the cost of being Bob, like a Bob Tax, that I wouldn’t beat myself up about it or whatever.” – Bob Fisher, “Traffic Light”

9. “(With ‘Lone Star,’) we made a show that we really loved, and we thought that the creators were very talented, and they made an excellent show. I think, for the most part, you guys really believed in the show and liked the show as well. And we put the show on, and not enough people showed up to watch it. And we were very disappointed in that. And it’s the reality of the business that we’re in. It’s intensely competitive. It’s always more competitive year after year. And you make the show — the best shows that you can. The truth is that it failed. It failed to meet the expectations that we had. It doesn’t mean that that we don’t like the show, that we don’t respect the people who made it. Kevin (Reilly) and I talk about this a lot. I’d much prefer to fail with a show that we’re creatively proud of than fail with a show that we’re — I guess ’embarrassed of’ would be one word — that we don’t believe in, that we don’t think has a level of originality and creativity.” – Peter Rice

10. Odette Yustman: I have a love interest (on ‘Breaking In’). I have a boyfriend named Dutch, who is played by the genius Michael Rosenbaum. He’s a supercool guy, and I think that they are going to try to bring him in more throughout the series, but he’s a very interesting fellow. He sells clean urine on eBay. Enough said.
Q: I’ve got to ask because I think this needs to be known: what on earth does anyone do with clean urine? Who would buy it?
Christian Slater: Drug testing.
Bret Harrison: To pass a drug test, yes.
Christian Slater: Drug testing. See, what you do is…well, we can really do a whole lecture here.

  

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2010 Year End TV Review: Will Harris

You’d think it’d be easy for me to pull together a “Best TV of 2010” list, given that I’ve attended two TCA press tours (one in the winter, one in the summer), participated in two editions of Bullz-Eye’s TV Power Rankings (one in the spring, one in the fall), and pulled together the site’s annual Fall TV Preview, but damned if that doesn’t somehow make the task harder. Nobody likes to feel like they’re repeating themselves, and given that there’s going to be some inevitable content crossover between all of these various pieces, I often find myself bouncing back and forth between all of these features, wondering if I’m subconsciously recycling a particularly nice choice of phrase. Hopefully, I’ve managed to make this sound at least somewhat original, but if for some reason you feel I’ve failed at that endeavor, please, for God’s sake, don’t take it out on the shows. It’s not their fault, and they shouldn’t be held accountable for my lack of creativity.

Oh, and one other note: in a further effort to avoid conceptual duplication, I’ve only written about each show once, so if you see a show’s title without anything written beside it, look back and you’ll find where I’ve already written about it. That, or I screwed up. Either’s possible, really. (I’m only human, after all.)

Best Shows to Come and Go within 2010

1. Terriers (FX) – It’s a testament to the quality of “Terriers” that FX president John Landgraf held a teleconference with journalists after breaking the news of the series’ cancellation in order to explain his actions, but I don’t think anyone really blamed the guy, anyway: the show’s ratings were as deplorable as the writing was phenomenal. Between the awful ad campaign for the show (no, it wasn’t about dogs) and the fact that many of the viewers who did tune in were kind of bummed out by too-real character traits and developments like alcoholism, infidelity, divorce, and mental illness, it’s not a surprise that it wasn’t a huge hit. But that doesn’t make it any less depressing.
2. Lone Star (Fox) – I’d like to think that this “Dallas”-esque series about a con man leading two lives would’ve been battling with “Terriers” for the top spot if only Fox hadn’t canceled it after only two episodes…but, then, if they can’t canceled it after only two episodes, then maybe viewers might’ve embraced “Lone Star” enough that it wouldn’t have been canceled at all. Oh, wait, never mind, I forgot: it was on Fox, so it probably still would’ve been canceled, anyway. Even so, Kyle Killen provided an intriguing concept and delivered it with the help of a top-notch cast. It’s just a shame we didn’t get to see more of it.

3. Warren the Ape (MTV) – So falls another network effort by one of our favorite fabricated Americans. Greg the Bunny couldn’t keep a show alive on either Fox or IFC, but it really seemed like a given that the shenanigans of Warren the Ape were tailor-made for MTV viewers. Not so, apparently. Frankly, the whole thing smacks of anti-puppetism. Warren himself has conceded that “fabricated Americans still have a very long way to go in this country, and I think it’s always going to be an uphill battle.” How right he was.
4. Happy Town (ABC) – Note to ABC’s publicity department: while I appreciate your intentions when you underlined the comparisons between “Happy Town” and “Twin Peaks” with a giant Magic Marker, you have to expect that “Twin Peaks” fans are going to offer up their equivalent of the old “I knew Jack Kennedy” line. Yeah, I know, you only meant it as a point of reference, and you never intended to imply that the two series were on even creative footing, but try telling them that. For my part, I thought it was a creepy little sleeper of a show…but, unfortunately, the other five people who agreed with me weren’t enough to keep it on the air.

5. Sons of Tucson (Fox) – I’m still not quite sure what Fox was thinking by trying to slot this poor live-action sitcom into the midst of their otherwise-animated Sunday night line-up. Maybe they’d hoped it would instill viewers with a bit of nostalgia for the days of “Malcolm in the Middle,” given the similarity in feel between that show and “Tucson.” If so, the plan failed miserably. In a perfect world, the network would raise the series from the dead and team it with “Raising Hope.” Now that’s a double bill I could get behind.

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First Blood for the Fall 2010 TV Season

“Lone Star,” we hardly knew ye…and we’ll never get to know ye: our ever-faithful friends at Fox have pulled the plug on the freshman series after a mere two episodes, slotting “Lie To Me” as its replacement starting next Monday.

One word, two hyphens, seven syllables: un-fucking-believable.

Except, of course, it really isn’t.

Even though I formally declared it to be the best drama of the fall season, I also made two separate proclamations within Bullz-Eye’s 2010 Fall TV Preview that there was little hope that the show would survive long enough to build an audience, let alone legitimately thrive:

*Critically, I feel like it’s tracking higher than anything else out there, but it’s a thinking man’s show and it’s on Fox. This is traditionally not a combination that equals ratings success…or a second season.”

*It’s an intriguing premise for a drama that takes a lot of interesting turns in its first hour, which is probably why it feels way more like an FX series than a Fox series. As such, it hasn’t much hope to make it to the end of the season, let alone beyond.”

You can’t say I didn’t call it. I just wish I hadn’t.

Gosh, it seems like only yesterday that I was sitting in a ballroom in Beverly Hills, listening to the head honchos at Fox talk about their enthusiasm for the series. Kevin Reilly praised creator Kyle Killen’s “singular voice and vision,” saying, “We could not be more impressed with him,” and when asked about the fact that “Lone Star” didn’t feel like a Fox series, Reilly was quick on the draw with a response:

“Well, I think it is a Fox show because I think it’s a noisy conceit. Although many of our biggest hits have had an action component, I mean, you certainly know as you break down our schedule over the years, there’s been plenty of big hits, from ‘Party of Five’ to ‘Ally McBeal.’ We can name many of them, particularly going on the comedy side. I don’t know how much action sustains ‘Glee.’ If you’re talking about just a level of octane, I think that there is a lot of octane in this concept because it is provocative. And it’s going to be provocative both in its central conceit and in terms of the character relationships that you see unfold. And I think they said it very well. It’s going to walk the line. This is not black or white. This is going to be an area of gray area and watching characters make decisions. And I think it’s going to keep people on their toes in terms of how the stories unfold, and that’s what’s going to be exciting about it.”

Hey, it sure kept me on my toes…for two episodes.

As ever, Fox, thanks for very, very little. Next time, maybe take some of that “American Idol” money you’re hoarding and give a show a chance to breathe, huh?

  

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Fox: What’s New for Fall 2010

MONDAY

Lone Star (Mon., Sept. 20 @ 9:00 PM, Fox)

* The competition: “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC), “Two and a Half Men” and “Mike & Molly” (CBS), “The Event” (NBC), “Gossip Girl” (The CW)

Starring: James Wolk, Adrianne Palicki, Eloise Mumford, Bryce Johnson, Mark Deklin, Jon Voight, David Keith

Producers: Christopher Keyser (“Party of Five”), Amy Lippman (“In Treatment”), Kerry Kohansky and Paul Weitz (“American Dreamz,” “Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist”)

Network’s Description: a sophisticated and provocative drama set against the sprawling backdrop of big Texas oil, about a charismatic and brilliant schemer who has entangled himself in a deep, complex web from which he can’t break free. He’s caught between two very different lives and two very different women.

The Buzz: Critically, I feel like it’s tracking higher than anything else out there, but it’s a thinking man’s show and it’s on Fox. This is traditionally not a combination that equals ratings success…or a second season.

Pilot Highlight: Ostensibly, the money shot is supposed to be when we realize that Bob has two families, but since there’s no way Fox won’t give away the premise of the show in the commercials, then it’s his reaction during a backyard barbeque when he has an abrupt attack of guilt over the hurt his actions are going to cause.

Bottom Line: It’s an intriguing premise for a drama that takes a lot of interesting turns in its first hour, which is probably why it feels way more like an FX series than a Fox series. As such, it hhasn’t much hope to make it to the end of the season, let alone beyond…and that’s a real shame, because – drum roll, please – “Lone Star” is the best drama of the season.

TUESDAY

Raising Hope (Tues., Sept. 21 @ 9:00 PM, Fox)

* The competition: “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC), “NCIS: Los Angeles” (CBS), “The Biggest Loser” (NBC), “Life Unexpected” (The CW)

Starring: Lucas Neff, Martha Plimpton, Garret Dillahunt, Cloris Leachman. Shannon Woodward, Skyler Stone

Producers: Greg Garcia (“My Name Is Earl”), Kim Hamberg (“The Middle”

Network’s Description: a sweet, offbeat comedy which follows Jimmy Chance, a well-meaning screw-up trying his best to raise his infant daughter with the help of the eccentric family who did a less-than-stellar job of raising him.

The Buzz: Not that the competition is all that strong, but most critics have pegged this as the best comedy of the season. Plus, while having Cloris Leachman in the cast isn’t quite as impressive as, say, Betty White, it ain’t half bad, either.

Pilot Highlight: The moment when Jimmy learns a very valuable lesson about his daughter’s car seat. Hand on heart, it has probably been two years since I laughed so hard at a moment in a sitcom.

Bottom Line: The ghost of “My Name Is Earl” seriously haunts the show, but the pilot has several laugh-out-loud moments, and a baby allows for a new spin on the sweet-natured white-trash comedy in which Garcia specializes.

Running Wilde (Tues., Sept. 21 @ 9:30 PM, Fox)

* The competition: “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC), “NCIS: Los Angeles” (CBS), “The Biggest Loser” (NBC), “Life Unexpected” (The CW)

Starring: Will Arnett, Keri Russell, Stefania Owen, Peter Serafinowicz, Robert Michael Morris, Mel Rodriguez, David Cross

Producers: Mitch Hurwitz and Jim Vallely, (“Arrested Development”), Eric Tannenbaum and Kim Tannenbaum (“Two and a Half Men”), Peter Principato and Paul Young (“Reno 911”), Will Arnett

Network’s Description: a romantic comedy series in which a spoiled filthy rich playboy desperately tries to win the heart of his humanitarian childhood sweetheart by helping raise her 12-year-old daughter.

The Buzz: Pretty crappy the first time around, actually, and it didn’t take long for word to get back to the show’s producers. As I recall, there was some serious squirming going on when Arnett turned up to welcome critics to the Fox day of the TCA tour and asked us what we thought of it. For my part, I didn’t have to fake appreciation, as I kind of liked it…but, then, I even laughed at Arnett in “Let’s Go to Prison,” so take that opinion with a grain of salt. Still, they’ve switched things up a bit since then, adding David Cross to the mix as a recurring character, which certainly increases the show’s value for “Arrested Development” fans.

Pilot Highlight: Peter Serafinowicz successfully steals every scene he’s in (though we should probably give his horse part of the credit of that), but the moment when Arnett’s and Russell’s characters are reunited – pay attention to the music playing behind them, as it’s a payoff to an earlier joke – is both sweet and silly at the same time.

Bottom Line: Don’t get too excited about Cross’s contribution to the pilot (it plays exactly like the last-second addition that it was), but casting Arnett as a spoiled man-child of a character certainly finds him playing to his comedic strengths. “Running Wilde” isn’t going to a rash of “The ‘Arrested Development’ magic is back!” headlines, but if Hurwitz and Vallely can quickly find the balance between the sweet / silly vibe that pops up in the scenes when the Arnett / Russell relationship is the focus and the poor-little-rich-boy aspect of Arnett’s character, things could start looking up.

  

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TCA Press Tour, Summer 2010: Day 7

Day 7 of the TCA Press Tour technically began on Day 6: just as the ABC all-star party wrapped up, Fox hosted a cocktail party which doubled as an early check-in for their day of the tour…and, better yet, it was hosted by Will Arnett and Keri Russell, the stars of one of Fox’s upcoming new sitcoms, “Running Wilde.”

You’ll get more details about the show in due time, since there was a “Running Wilde” panel as well, but for now, I’ll just mention that two other individuals affiliated with the show made unexpected appearances at the early check-in: executive producer / co-creator Jim Vallely and co-star Peter Serafinowicz.

I didn’t really get a chance to chat with Russell (she was pretty well surrounded from the moment she arrived), but I did talk to Arnett for a few minutes. Thanks to my wife, though, I ended up having a relatively lengthy conversation with Serafinowicz and Vallely. I knew I’d recognized Serafinowicz, and he quickly reminded me why: he had his own series in the UK, one which many YouTube clips reveal to be extremely hilarious. Indeed, he’s the one who told me I should check them out, particularly his Beatles-related parodies, of which he’s quite proud. No wonder he was cast to play Paul in Robert Zemeckis’s “Yellow Submarine” remake.

In a strange “small world” moment, I also learned that Jim Vallely is the father of Tannis Vallely, the actress who played Janice, the glasses-wearing, cello-playing prodigy on “Head of the Class.” She’s now on the casting side of the business, having worked on such films as “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” “Oceans’ Thirteen,” and “It’s Complicated.” Eventually, my wife and I grew tired and retreated for the evening, but it would only be a few hours until we were back in the thick of it again, this time for the real beginning of Day 7.

Breakfast was brought to us by the casts of “Human Target” and “The Good Guys,” shows which, back in the days when the networks weren’t too cheap to spread their series across a two-day period, would’ve earned their own panels. Instead, we had to settle for chatting with them over bacon and eggs, bagels or donuts, and that sort of thing. In truth, the only person I really had the chance to speak with was Jackie Earle Haley on “Human Target,” and that was mostly because I feel like I kinda sorta know him (he’s friends with Bullz-Eye’s own Ross Ruediger and, as a result, has come to recognize me on sight as “Ross’s friend”), but as you can see, everyone was in the house from both series.

Soon enough, the actors headed out to start their own days, and having finished our breakfast, we took our seats and prepared for the first panel of the morning to begin.

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