TCA Tour: “Three Rivers” set visit

Hey, everybody, Alex O’Loughlin’s back!

Oh, how I’ve missed Alex O’Loughlin. I can’t even begin to tell you how much abuse I had to deal with during his days on “Moonlight,” all because I thought the pilot for that series was just okay. My dissenting opinions immediately made my article “B.S.,” according to some readers, and I was subsequently forced to endure all manner of commentaries about how gorgeous O’Loughlin was, even though I kept assuring them that I’d probably be more interested in revisiting the series if they’d be willing to praise other aspects of the show that didn’t involve his hotness quotient. The irony…? When I reported how, after the show was canceled, CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler admitted that “the response to ‘Moonlight’ was actually more actor-centric,” I was buried in responses from readers who seemed shocked and offended that she would say something so patently ridiculous.

Well, for what it’s worth, Tassler did at least want to keep O’Loughlin within the CBS family, and she’s gotten her wish by handing him a plum part in the network’s new medical drama, “Three Rivers” (yes, it takes place in Pittsburgh), where he’ll be working within an ensemble which includes Katherine Moennig (“The L Word”), Daniel Henney (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”), Justina Machado (“Six Feet Under”), Christopher J. Hanke, and…Alfre Woodard?

Yep: Ms. Woodard came aboard the series mere days ago, so recently that, when O’Loughlin responded to his first question in the on-set press conference for the TCA members, she did a double-take.

“Let me just say how freaked I am to hear you talk like an Aussie,” she said. “I’m, like, ‘What is he doing faking over here?’ He’s such a believable Pittsburgh boy!”

If you haven’t heard about “Three Rivers” yet, it’s being described by the network as “a medical drama that goes inside the emotionally complex lives of organ donors, the recipients and the surgeons at the preeminent transplant hospital in the country where every moment counts.” We’re being forewarned, however, that “dealing with donor families in their darkest hour and managing the fears and concerns of apprehensive recipients takes much more than just a sharp scalpel.” Pardon me for a moment while I groan at that line, but kudos must go to the series for taking their subject seriously enough to work directly with the organization Donate Life, a national movement to inspire Americans to register as an organ-and-tissue donor.

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A Chat with Antonio Elias

Can you imagine being an actor who’s worked in TV for the past few years and, when you finally score your first movie gig, it’s “Star Trek”? Nice work if you can get it, as the song says, and Antonio Elias – who plays one of the officers of the Kelvin in the opening sequence of the film – will be the first to tell you that the work was very nice, indeed. We chatted with Elias about how he got into the acting game, got the story on how close he came to picking up a series-regular gig with Dylan McDermott a few years ago, found out a bit more about how “Star Trek” originally would have opened, and learned about his next film, “Spoken Word.”

Stay tuned for…

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Moonlight: The Complete Series

“Jericho” fans seemed bewildered when, after all the hype their show received upon its last-second reprieve from cancellation, its second season didn’t find a huge surge in viewership. They shouldn’t have been. There have been precious few occasions when series have been saved from oblivion and suddenly had the masses respond by saying, “Wow, you guys were right! This is awesome!” That’s just not how the mind of the average TV viewer works. They’re not thinking, “Say, if all these people like the show that much, there must be something to it.” Obsessive fans freak out the average TV viewers, and their actions generally only serve to convince Joe Average that this show, whatever it may be, can’t possibly live up to the hype that’s being heaped upon it, and since it can’t, then why bother tuning in?

But here’s a dirty little secret for you: the minds of critics have been known to work the exact same way.

“Moonlight” seemed like a perfectly viable concept when it was originally pitched by CBS. Certainly, “Angel” fans were immediately on edge when word got out about this new series about a vampire private detective…and so, for that matter, were the rabid “Forever Knight” aficionados… but, still, it was going to be produced by David Greenwalt, who had actually worked on “Angel,” so there was hope that the vampire mythos would at least be done right. But then things got a little dodgy on the creative end, with cast and creators being switched out left and right, including the aforementioned Mr. Greenwalt, and critics were left lingering in wait for a pilot episode that took forever to come to fruition. Once it did, we were grumpy and, frankly, we just couldn’t see what all the fuss was about…but, dear God, those Alex O’Loughlin fans sure as hell could. They attacked in droves, criticizing my opinion of the series while invariably finding a way to mention how incredibly hot O’Loughlin was in the role of Mick St. John (the aforementioned vampire), yet they rarely offered much in the way of reasons beyond his sex appeal for me to give the show a second chance.

So I didn’t…until now.

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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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