Whither Darnell? A mystery about A&E’s “The Cleaner” is resolved!

Given that the A&E drama “The Cleaner” only lasted for two seasons, it’s probable that there aren’t a great number of people who are clamoring for the answer to this question, but for those of you who did watch the series throughout its run, I’d like a show of hands if you wondered what happened to the character of Darnell McDowell – played by Kevin Michael Richardson – after the first season.

Not that Richardson hasn’t got more than enough work to keep himself busy: he’s one of the most prolific voice actors in the animation business. At present, you probably know him best as the voice of Cleveland, Jr. on Fox’s “The Cleveland Show,” but he’s also the voice of Maurice on “The Penguins of Madagascar,” turns up with some regularity on “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” (he voices Black Manta, B’Wana Beast, and – yes! – Detective Chimp), and, on a related note, did an admirable job of stepping into Mark Hamill’s shoes as The Joker on “The Batman.” But, still, I love the guy, I thought his character on “The Cleaner” was interesting, and when Season 2 of the series premiered and he wasn’t on it, I noticed.

I ran into Richardson briefly last year at the TCA Press Tour, and I asked him what happened. In truth, he seemed pleased that someone had even noticed his absence, but as far as the reason why he’d been written out of the show, he didn’t really have much of an answer, short of saying that he’d gotten the impression that the writers had kind of hit a brick wall as far as knowing what to do with the character of Darnell.

Okay, fair enough: I understand how the business works, and I also understand that shows evolve and characters originally intended to be series mainstays unexpectedly become superfluous. While screening “The Cleaner: The Final Season” in order to write my review of the DVD set, however, I remembered the biggest reason why I’d been so annoyed with Darnell’s departure: not only was he written out of the show, but there wasn’t even so much as a mention of Darnell, let alone any sort of clarification as to his ultimate fate. Given everything that he went through with the team during the course of Season 1, this seemed like the kind of oversight that would really irk fans of the show…like, say, me…so I did what any self-respecting journalist would do: I went on Facebook, found the page for the show’s head writer, Jonathan Prince, and asked A) why Darnell was written out of the show, and B) why there was no reference to his departure from the show.

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Greetings to the New Season: Fox

The network upfronts roll on, this time with the fine folks at Fox trotting out their new fall schedule and revealing which new series have been selected to accompany those series which have survived. As of this writing, there are no clips to accompany the descriptions of the new shows, but I’m led to understand that we’ll be getting those in due course, so…oh, wait, scratch that: they just arrived!

Well, with that being the case, you can read the descriptions and check out the clips of what Fox has for us for the upcoming season. Just be sure to let us know what you think about what they’re offering up! Oh, and before you ask, we didn’t forget to include a clip for the last series. They didn’t offer a clip for the last series…but, hell, I don’t even think they’ve cast it yet, so at least they’ve got a good excuse.

MONDAY

8 – 9 PM: HOUSE

9 – 10 PM: LONESTAR: a provocative soap set against the backdrop of big Texas oil, from Chris Keyser and Amy Lippman, the creators of “Party of Five”; Marc Webb, the director of “(500) Days of Summer”; and creator Kyle Killen. Robert / Bob Allen (newcomer James Wolk) is a charismatic and brilliant schemer who has meticulously constructed two lives in two different parts of Texas. He’s juggling two identities and two women in two very different worlds – all under one mountain of lies. As “Bob,” he lives in Houston and is married to Cat (Adrianne Palicki, “Friday Night Lights”), the beautiful daughter of Clint (Jon Voight, 24, “Midnight Cowboy”), the patriarch of an ultra-wealthy Texas oil family. More than 400 miles away in the suburban west Texas town of Midland, he’s “Robert,” living a second life with his sweet, naïve girlfriend, Lindsay (Eloise Mumford, “Mercy,” “Law & Order: SVU”). In Midland, he plays the perfect boyfriend while secretly bilking local investors of their savings. In Houston, he’s a devoted husband, charming Cat and her family to cement his position in the rich family business he aims to clean out. Bob has lived both lives successfully for years without arousing any suspicions…so far.

While one brother-in-law, Drew (Bryce Johnson, “Popular,” “The Mentalist”), admires Bob, his other brother-in-law, Trammell (Mark Deklin, “Nip/Tuck,” “Desperate Housewives”), is suspicious of his motives. Bob begins to fear his secret lives may unravel. With the cons closing in on him, Bob is divided by his love for two women; his loyalty to his father and mentor, John (David Keith, “An Officer and a Gentleman,” “The Class”); and his respect for his father-in-law, Clint. Now as he tries to hold his two lives together, while fending off angry investors and the suspicions of those around him, Bob puts it all on the line hoping he can beat the odds, leave the schemes behind and keep two separate relationships afloat.

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A chat with Ted Lange…? You got it!

On Sunday, April 25th, TV Land will be airing its annual celebration of classic television known as the TV Land Awards. Our man Bob Westal was walking the red carpet for us, star-spotting and chatting with the occasional celebrity passerby, but as I’m ensconced here in Virginia, I have to make do with phoners. It was hardly settling, however, to have the opportunity to chat with an iconic figure of ’70s and ’80 s television like Ted Lange. Although he’s arguably best known for his role as bartender Isaac Washington on “The Love Boat,” it’s far from the only item on his resume, so I made sure to brush up on his list of credits on IMDb before getting on the phone with him. This proved to be a wise move, as it resulted in stories of a Shakespearean production and tales of working on “Wattstax,” “Friday Foster,” “Record City,” “Mr. T and Tina,” and, yes, “That’s My Mama,” too. But, of course, there was still plenty of “Love Boat” banter as well, since it was that very show which led Lange to attend the TV Land Awards and reunite with his former crewmates…sorry, I meant castmates.

Come aboard as we set sail for…

Ted Lange: Hi, Will!

Bullz-Eye: Hey, Ted, how’s it going?

TL: Good! How are you doing?

BE: I’m doing well. It’s a pleasure to talk with you.

TL: What city are you in?

BE: I’m in Norfolk, Virginia. Where are you? Somewhere on the east coast, I guess, given how early it is.

TL:West coast, actually!

BE: Wow, then it’s really, really early there. Are you in California?

TL: Yessir. Los Angeles, California, city of the angels! (Laughs)

BE: Well, one of our writers here at Bullz-Eye was actually at the TV Land Awards the other night…

TL: Oh, really?

BE: He did the red carpet thing, and then he headed into the bloggers’ room, so he wasn’t in there with the action, per se, but he said it was a good time.

TL: It was a good time. It was a lot of fun.

BE: So was the entire cast there for the reunion?

TL: Well, Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing) had a back operation – he hurt himself, hurt a couple of his discs – so he wasn’t able to be there. We really missed him, because, you know, he’s the anchor of the show as the captain. So I called him up and talked to him to see how he was doing, and he was a little weak, but he was recuperating well. But everybody else was there, and they all brought their kids. Fred Grandy (Gopher) brought his daughter, I brought my son…it was a lot of fun.

BE: I was talking to Bob, our man who was there, and he was quite pleased that he’d gotten to talk to Bernie Kopell (Doc) on the carpet. So do you guys keep in touch aside from these occasional public reunions?

TL: Oh, yeah, absolutely. We’re friends. The great thing about the show was that we made friendships, you know? We were acting buddies and everything, but off-camera…I mean, I learned how to play tennis on Bernie’s tennis court. I wasn’t really into tennis ‘til I met Bernie. He’s been a good pal, and Fred I see all the time whenever I’m out on the east coast, and Tewes…we’re all friends, and that was the wonderful ancillary benefit of the show: that we made some really lasting friendships.

BE: So how did you first come onto “The Love Boat”? Obviously, you were pretty well established on television already, thanks to “That’s My Mama.”

TL: Yeah, actually, I did two series. I did “That’s My Mama,” and I did another series called “Mr. T and Tina,” with Pat Morita. The network was aware of me, and they had done a pilot and…they had used the guy who played the postman on “That’s My Mama,” Teddy Wilson, on the first “Love Boat” pilot, and they didn’t like the chemistry of the crew, so when they did the second pilot, they kind of threw everybody out that wasn’t working and brought in some new guys…and they stuck with the “That’s My Mama” cast by bringing me in to play the bartender. (Laughs) So I was very fortunate!

BE: Had you worked with Aaron Spelling before “Love Boat”?

TL: No, I hadn’t, actually. Jimmy Komack was the producer of “Mr. T and Tina,” and he sat me down and said, “You’re going to go work for Aaron Spelling, so let me just tell you that he’s really a great guy.” And, of course, he was correct.

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Fox: What’s New for Fall 2009

Glee (Wed., Sept. 9 @ 9:00 PM, Fox)

The competition: “Modern Family” and “Cougar Town” (ABC), “Criminal Minds” (CBS), “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” (NBC), “The Beautiful Life” (The CW)

Starring: Jane Lynch, Jayma Mays, Corey Monteith, Lea Michele, Dianna Agron, Matthew Morrison, Jessalyn Gilsig, Chris Colfer, Patrick Gallagher, Kevin McHale, Jenna Ushkowitz, Amber Riley, Mark Salling
Producers: Bradley Buecker, Brad Falchuk, and Ryan Murphy (“Nip/Tuck”), Zachary Woodlee (“Eli Stone”)
Network’s Description: A one-hour musical comedy that follows an optimistic high school teacher as he tries to transform the school’s Glee Club and inspire a group of ragtag performers to make it to the biggest competition of them all: Nationals. McKinley High School’s Glee Club used to be at the top of the show choir world, but years later, a series of scandals have turned it into a haven for misfits and social outcasts. Will Schuester, a young optimistic teacher, has offered to take on the Herculean task of restoring McKinley’s Glee Club to its former glory with the help of fellow teacher Emma Pillsbury. It’s a tall order when the brightest stars of the pitch-imperfect club include Kurt, a nerdy soprano with a flair for the dramatic; Mercedes, a dynamic diva-in-training who refuses to sing back-up; Artie, a geeky guitarist who spends more time avoiding bullies than chasing girls; and Tina, an awkward girl who needs to suppress her stutter before she can take center stage. Will’s only hope lies with two true talents: Rachel Berry, a perfectionist firecracker who is convinced that show choir is her ticket to stardom; and Finn Hudson, the popular high school quarterback with movie star looks and a Motown voice who must protect his reputation with his holier-than-thou girlfriend, Quinn, and his arrogant teammate, Puck. Driven by his secret past, Will is determined to do whatever it takes to make Glee great again, even though everyone around him thinks he’s nuts. He’s out to prove them all wrong – from his tough-as-nails wife Terri Schuester to McKinley’s cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester to an über-hip world that thinks jazz hands and sequined tuxedos litter the road to infamy rather than pave the way to Hollywood dreams.
The Buzz: Crazy insane. (Insane? Crazy?) Fox’s decision to air the pilot for the show back in May and let it simmer for the summer was one of the strongest marketing moves in recent television history, as evidenced by the ridiculous amount of iTunes downloads of the songs from the show, and while having the cast turn up at Comic-Con might’ve seemed out of place at first, given how close the lines for “glee club members” and “comic book and sci-fi aficionados” lie on the geek flowchart, it shouldn’t have. And now they’re preparing to tour the malls of America…? The buzz buzz buzz you’re hearing in the drum of your ear is the sound of “Glee.”
Pilot Highlight: If you didn’t want to leap to your feet and applaud at the end of their performance of “Don’t Stop Believin’,” you are dead inside. Dead, I say.
Bottom Line: It’s going to be like having a new volume of “High School Musical” airing every single week, except with sensibilities falling closer to “Freaks and Geeks.” If it isn’t a huge hit, and if the soundtrack to the show isn’t one of the biggest selling albums of the holiday season, I will be shocked…and crestfallen, too, as I’m totally in the “Glee” club as well.

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Fox: The Fall Schedule

Fox has officially announced its schedule for the fall, but let’s lead with a bit of bad news: “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” is not on it. The network officially canceled the series, and while I’m still dumbfounded by that decision, you know they’ll double-back and find a way to get it back onto the schedule if “Terminator: Salvation” is a hit. Or maybe they’ll release a straight-to-DVD movie which picks up where the series ends. Either way, I just cannot imagine that this will be the complete and total end of Sarah Connor’s TV adventures.

Okay, onto what is on the schedule, along with a few editorial comments…

MONDAY

8:00 PM – House
9:00 PM – LIE TO ME

Looks like another year of having to watch “House” and “Lie To Me” as full-season sets when they come out on DVD, because I’m still going to be watching “The Big Bang Theory,” “How I Met Your Mother,” and “Heroes.”

TUESDAY

8:00 PM – So You Think You Can Dance

WEDNESDAY

8:00 PM – So You Think You Can Dance Results Show

9:00 PM – Glee

The distinctive new comedy from Ryan Murphy (“Nip/Tuck”) starring Jane Lynch (“The 40 Year Old Virgin”) and newcomers Matthew Morrison (Broadway’s “Hairspray”), Lea Michele (“Spring Awakening”) and Cory Monteith (“Kyle XY”). Combining biting humor with a soundtrack of hit music from past to present, the inventive series follows an optimistic high school teacher who – against all odds – attempts to restore McKinley High’s fading Glee Club to its former glory, while helping a group of underdogs realize their true star potential.

THURSDAY

8:00 PM – Bones
9:00 PM – Fringe

When my wife finds out that “Fringe” is going to be competing against her beloved “Office,” she’s gonna be so pissed…

FRIDAY

8:00 PM – Brothers

A new half-hour comedy about a former big-city NFL hot shot who returns home to his family – and his mother’s house – to get his life back on track. Starring Michael Strahan (“FOX NFL Sunday”) and Daryl “Chill” Mitchell (“Ed,” “Veronica’s Closet”).

8:30 PM – ‘Til Death

9:00 PM – Dollhouse

Really? They canceled “Sarah Connor” for this? And do they really think this coupling is going to help the “Dollhouse” numbers?

SATURDAY

8:00 PM – Cops

8:30 PM – Cops

9:00 PM – America’s Most Wanted

11:00 PM – The Wanda Sykes ShowThe irreverent Saturday late-night series will feature Sykes’ outspoken comedic perspective on current events along with topical, high-energy roundtable discussions.

12:00 AM – Animation Domination encores

SUNDAY

7:00 PM – The OT (NFL Post-Game Show)

8:00 PM – The Simpsons

8:30 PM – The Cleveland ShowEveryone’s favorite soft-spoken FAMILY GUY neighbor, Cleveland Brown, moves with his son back to his hometown in Virginia and settles down with his high school sweetheart and her unruly kids.

9:00 PM – Family Guy

9:30 PM – American Dad

MIDSEASON

MONDAY

8:00 PM – House
9:00 PM – 24

TUESDAY

8:00 PM – American Idol

9:00 PM – Past Life

A fast-paced emotional thriller inspired by the book “The Reincarnationist.” The series stars Kelli Giddish (“All My Children”) as a gifted psychologist and Nicholas Bishop (“Home and Away”) as a former NYPD detective who work together to explore and unravel mysteries that must be solved in both the past and the present.

Wow, that doesn’t sound at all like “Life on Mars.”

WEDNESDAY

8:00 PM – American Idol Results Show

9:00 PM – Human Target

A full-throttle, action-packed thrill ride from executive producers McG (“Terminator Salvation”) and Simon West (“Con Air,” “Tomb Raider”). Based on the popular DC Comics graphic novel and starring Mark Valley (FRINGE), Chi McBride (“Pushing Daisies”) and Academy Award nominee Jackie Earle Haley (“Watchmen”), the series follows CHRISTOPHER CHANCE (Valley), a unique private contractor who will stop at nothing – even if it means becoming a human target – to keep his clients alive.

Anyone else noting the irony that the director of the new “Terminator” movie is getting a show just as the “Terminator” TV series is getting canceled?

THURSDAY

8:00-9:00 PM BONES

9:00-10:00 PM FRINGE

FRIDAY

8:00-8:30 PM BROTHERS

8:30-9:00 PM ‘TIL DEATH

9:00-10:00 PM DOLLHOUSE

SATURDAY

8:00-8:30 PM COPS

8:30-9:00 PM COPS

9:00-10:00 PM AMERICA’S MOST WANTED

11:00 PM-Midnight THE WANDA SYKES SHOW (working title)

Midnight-12:30 AM ANIMATION DOMINATION ENCORES

SUNDAY

7:00 PM – Animation Domination encores

7:30 PM – American Dad

8:00 PM – The Simpsons

8:30 PM – Sons of Tucson

From three-time Emmy Award winner Todd Holland (“Malcolm in the Middle”), the non-traditional family comedy stars Tyler Labine (“Reaper”) as a charming but wayward schemer hired by three young brothers whose father is in prison.

9:00 PM – Family Guy

9:30 PM – The Cleveland Show

  

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