TV Roundup: Poor ratings for Prison Break, TiVo’s ratings plans and more

– The ratings for the return of “Prison Break” were poor, and TV By The Numbers says that it’s bad news for “Dollhouse.”

– One of my favorite shows, “The Unit,” is on the bubble, but the good news is that producer Shawn Ryan (“The Shield”) has been invited by CBS to present ideas for a fifth season.

– The NY Post says that Mary Louise Parker is thinking about leaving “Weeds” after next season.

– FOX’s “Sit Down, Shut Up” didn’t do all that well (ratings-wise) in its debut on Sunday, considering it was sandwich between stalwarts “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy.” I’m a fan of both of those shows, but I couldn’t make it through a full episode of “Sit Down, Shut Up.”

TiVo is continuing to move into Nielsen’s territory. They’ve been offering national ratings since 2007, but now plan to provide market-by-market ratings as well. It makes sense — the TiVo is essentially a computer that can track what a household watches (if they choose to opt-in).

– Variety compares “Heroes” to “Lost” in that both programs started off really strong before faltering a bit. The question is — will “Heroes” find its way like “Lost” did? (Methinks maybe an end date two or three seasons down the line would do the trick.)

  

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Bullz-Eye’s TCA 2009 Winter Press Tour Recap

Wait, didn’t I just go to one of these press tours…?

Actually, that was back in July, when the networks were busy pimping their new fall schedules; this time, they were presenting us with an idea of what we can expect to see on our favorite broadcast and cable channels from now until they premiere their next fall schedule.

Going out to L.A. in January was a new thing for me, though. It was my first winter tour since becoming a member of the Television Critics Association in 2007 – last year’s was canceled due to the writers’ strike – and, if the rumblings throughout the ballrooms at the Universal Hilton were any indication, it may well prove to be my last January tour. I’m hopeful that this presumption turns out to be inaccurate, but given the current economic climate and an increasing tendency for newspapers and publications to only send their TV critics out for one tour per year, there’s every reason to suspect that the networks will join suit and only be willing to pamper those critics once per year.

Sorry, did I say “pamper”? Of course, I meant, “Treat with the utmost respect.”

It feels a bit odd to be doing a wrap-up of my experiences at the tour before I’ve even had a chance to write up all of the panels I attended while I was out there, but, hey, when you get a good spot on the calendar, you make it work however you can. So still keep your eyes open for my ongoing pieces on the various shows you can expect to find on the broadcast networks during the next few months, but in the meantime, here’s a look at some of the best and worst bits from the January ’09 tour as a whole.

Most enjoyable panel by a cable network: “Rescue Me,” FX.

I’ve been a big Denis Leary fan every since No Cure for Cancer, so I knew the guy was inevitably going to go off on a profanity-filled rant before the end of the panel. What I didn’t expect, however, was that Peter Tolan – who co-created the show with Leary – would start the proceedings by telling Leary to watch his mouth, adding, “If you were going to say ‘cunt,’ don’t.”

From there, the two of them seemingly battled each other in an attempt to offer up the most memorable line. Leary complained about his salary. (“I had a crazy idea of getting paid, like, $250,000 an episode. They put limits on that, let me tell you. That’s Kiefer Sutherland money right there.”) Then Tolan claimed that he was at fault for the show’s fourth-season slump, blaming it on a drug problem and that “I was heavy into a kazillion hookers that year.” Then Leary bitched about how Michael J. Fox was going to guest on “Rescue Me” and get the Emmy that Leary himself has yet to earn. (“Five fucking episodes, he comes in. God damn, $700 million from ‘Spin City.’ He never asked me to do the show. He’s going to walk away with the fucking Emmy. That son of a bitch.”) Then Tolan started mocking Hugh Laurie’s American accent by talking about how he could do a British accent. (“Aye, pip, pip, mate, aye! ‘Allo, Mary Poppins!”) And…well, as you can see, there was really no contest: this may well have been the greatest panel ever.

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TCA Tour, Jan. 2009: “Sit Down, Shut Up”

Need a good reason to watch Fox’s upcoming new animated series, “Sit Down, Shut Up”? Hell, I’ll give you ten good reasons…with resumes that include “Pushing Daisies,” “SpongeBob Squarepants,” “Saturday Night Live,” “The Simpsons,” “Futurama,” “Arrested Development,” “Two and a Half Men,” and, uh, “Cavemen”…and they’re all labeled by name in the photograph below.

(L-R) Kristin Chenoweth, Tom Kenney, Nick Kroll, Will Arnett (who is standing in front of Cheri Oteri), Jason Bateman, and executive producers Josh Weinstein, Eric and Kim Tannenbaum and Mitch Hurwitz

Now, I ask you: how can you not want to watch “Sit Down, Shut Up”?

If you aren’t familiar with the concept of the show, it’s based on a live-action Australian sitcom about a bunch of cranky, obnoxious, irresponsible teachers but has, over the course of several years of evolution, found its way into an animated adaptation instead, albeit one with live-action backgrounds.

“It’s changed so much, I guess we’re really wondering why we are still paying royalties to Australia,” admitted Hurwitz. “But we’re in over our heads at this point. There is no getting out of it.”

But why did they decide to switch it from live-action to animated in the first place?

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