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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Greetings to the New Series: “Terriers”

One hates to fall back on the hoary old “if you looked up such-and-such in the dictionary, you’d find a picture of (INSERT NAME HERE)” cliche if it can possibly be helped, so rather than bringing up the topic of character actors and plugging the name “Donal Logue” between the parentheses, can we at least agree that there are precious few individuals who are so readily identified as “that guy who was in that thing we watched that time”?

I mean, seriously, God love you, Donal, but it takes a real character actor to be able to headline two seriously funny sitcoms (“Grounded for Life” and “The Knights of Prosperity”), one of which ran for five freaking seasons (that’d be the former), and still be known as “that guy who was in that thing we watched that one time.”

Still, my fingers are crossed that Logue’s latest series, FX’s “Terriers,” will be the one that finally cements his name in the collective consciousness of today’s TV viewers…and, for that matter, let’s hope it also helps out his co-star, Michael Raymond-James, because these two guys have got some great chemistry going on. Fortunately, with a trio of executive producers that includes Shawn Ryan (“The Shield”), Ted Griffin (“Ocean’s Eleven”), and Tim Minear (“Angel,” “Firefly,” and “Dollhouse,” as well as several series not created by Joss Whedon, including “Wonderfalls”), it was always a given that “Terriers” would capture the attention of the critics, and by virtue of being on FX, the chances of the show surviving long enough to build a decent-sized audience are pretty solid.

Oh, and did we mention that it’s also really, really good?

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“Justified” kicks ass

Pardon the crude title, but there just isn’t any other way to say it. After watching last night’s premiere, it’s clear that “Justified” is poised to become the next great FX series.

One part “The Shield,” one part “Sons of Anarchy” and one part “True Blood,” “Justified” follows Raylen Givins (Timothy Olyphant) a somewhat disgraced (yet badass) Deputy Marshall who is assigned to Eastern Kentucky (and his hometown of Harlan) after losing his plum assignment in Miami over a shooting he deemed “justified.” The series is based on a short story by Elmore Leonard.

The antagonist — at least for the first episode — is Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins, who you’ll recognize from his role as Shane Vendrell on “The Shield”), an Aryan criminal with a propensity for blowing things up.

There’s also Raylen’s ex-girlfriend, Winona (Natalie Zea), and Ava (Joelle Carter), who would like to be his new squeeze.

The first episode was about bad blood between Raylen and Boyd, but it looks like each week, Raylen will be working on a different assignment, ranging from witness protection to prison transfer to hunting down criminals. Olyphant was terrific in the role of sheriff on “Deadwood,” so he’s not going to have any problem carrying this series — he already owns this part.

If you miss “The Shield” and like “Sons of Anarchy,” give “Justified” a shot. It’s well worth the time.

  

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TV in the 2000s: The Shows that Defined the Decade

A recent issue of Time magazine has the phrase “The Decade from Hell” emblazoned across its front cover. It’s referring to everything America has gone through in the past ten years, and it’s difficult to argue such an assertion: it’s been a shitty decade on a national level. During such times of stress, people inevitably turn to entertainment as a form of release, and although the methods in which we’ve distracted ourselves over the last ten years have unquestionably diversified, television remains the most easily accessible outlet for most Americans.

Within the format itself, the whole concept of reality TV must surely have been the biggest revolution of the decade. It’s really easy to bag on reality TV – mostly because the bulk of it is so damned unreal – but anybody who spends any time in front of the tube has surely had at least a couple of reality series they consider appointment TV. The two concepts that paved the way for everything else are undoubtedly “Survivor” and “American Idol.” The former, of course, opened the floodgates for the genre, and while it’s seen a considerable dip in the ratings department over the years, 12 million viewers isn’t a viewing figure to sneeze at. The latter, despite all the bitching and moaning and cries of “it’s not as good as it used to be” that accompany each new season, remains one of the most watched shows on the tube, likely due to the fact that it’s strictly a talent competition.

On “American Idol,” the only backstabbers are the judges, and since they aren’t part of the competition, their amusing duplicity is championed. The contestants, on the other hand, are innocents, and once the competition is underway, we’re given no peek into any possible backstage drama, which is a good thing, because by the time the audition rounds are over, we’ve had enough drama to last the whole season. Everything that comes after is all about who can best transfix us for three minutes a week via one pop ditty. It actually says something positive about the U.S. that “American Idol” remains our #1 form of reality entertainment, even if the actual reality is that the vast majority of Americans couldn’t care less about buying the winner’s album six months after they’re crowned.

You might think reality TV is a bunch of crap, and in most cases you’d be right, but the whole idea of it, to my mind, led to an important revolution, and that is serialized nighttime television (the classic “soap” formula notwithstanding). Reality shows taught viewers how to become invested in characters, how to be concerned for their eventual fate, and, most importantly, how to pay attention to an ongoing storyline, and the need to tune in every week. It didn’t take long for the networks to figure out that there was an audience for shows that didn’t continually hit the reset button. “24” must have been the first successful show of the decade to embrace the serial formula, and it embraced it whole hog. It required you to tune in for every episode, because each installment was another hour of a single day in the life of Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer. That “24” premiered less than two months after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 was pure happenstance. That it became enormously popular with viewers? Probably not so much. America needed some fictitious reassurance that there were folks on the job who could get shit done, and “24” filled the prescription.

Strangely, “24” didn’t open the network floodgates for more such programming right away. It took a few years, and then “Lost” made its mark. The number of “Lost” episodes I’ve seen could be counted on two hands, but that’s not because I didn’t like it, but because real life got in the way of it being appointment TV. Yet I viewed the pilot for “Lost” several months before its 2004 premiere, and when it ended I was convinced that I’d seen the second best TV pilot ever made. (“Twin Peaks” stills sits at #1.) The fact that a show as intricate as “Lost” still has a hardcore, central audience is perhaps a testament to that pilot. “24” started a new story with each new season; “Lost” required that you tune in for every episode of every season.

Another sci-fi series that did just that was “Battlestar Galactica,” a show that, due it being on a niche network (Syfy), never amassed a huge audience yet snagged boatloads of publicity and awareness nonetheless. It was no small feat to take an utterly laughable short-lived series from the late ‘70s and re-envision it for modern audiences, but Ron Moore and company did just that…and they did it far more successfully that anyone ever guessed possible. Most amazingly, the show taught us a lot about ourselves, by thoroughly defining what it means to be human, and as the damaged ‘00s dragged on, there may not have been a more important lesson to be learned.

On the same day I saw the “Lost” pilot, I saw another pilot for a completely different kind of series. While I didn’t rank it as one of the greats, there was one thing I was sure of: it would be a massive hit…and it was. “Desperate Housewives” was precisely the sort of vapid, soapy fare that had been absent for far too long on American TV. It clued into the seemingly bland suburban construct which surrounds so many Americans, via the Lynchian notion that “all is not what it seems.” Most anyone who lives a suburban life can no doubt relate to that idea, because wherever there are groups of people, there are bound to be some of them that are fucked up. “Housewives” is littered with fucked up suburbanites of all shapes, sizes and types, but they’re kooky and funny and there’s always some twinkly music playing in the background that in the end makes everything OK. It is not great television, but over the years it has, for the most part, been immensely watchable in the most disposable sort of way.

Around the same time period as “Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” made some major waves. It’s a series I have never watched and never plan to, but I’d be foolish to omit it from discussion since it brought two annoyingly obnoxious terms to the TV table: McDreamy and McSteamy. I haven’t heard either in a few years, but there was a time when they seemed to define everything that was wrong with television. I assume “Grey’s” fans have grown out of it…or maybe the show killed one of those guys off? I’ve no idea and can’t be motivated to investigate. Presently, there’s a brand new version of it going around, through cinema, via Camp Edward and Camp Nimrod. People can be so easily distracted it makes you wonder why some shows actually try harder.

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Sons of Anarchy 2.13 – Na Triobloidi

If you didn’t know Kurt Sutter worked on “The Shield” prior to last night’s episode, you probably figured it out by the time it was over. All I have to say is that Shawn Ryan taught him well, because the season finale was just as heart-wrenchingly upsetting as any hour of television Ryan produced in the past. Let me explain. I don’t mean it was upsetting in the sense that I didn’t enjoy it, but rather that when it ended, all I could think about was the fact that I’d have to wait nine long months for its conclusion. Many critics have argued in the past that shorter TV seasons improve the quality of the show (and I agree), but if there’s any downside to that model, it’s that you have to wait even longer for their return.

Though the season finale left quite a few cliffhangers for fans to dwell on during the winter months, there was at least some feeling of completion with the death of AJ Weston. After the sheriff’s department was forced to let him go because Chucky’s testimony didn’t hold up, Weston is warned to get the hell out Charming as fast as he can. Before he leaves, however, Weston convinces Hale to set up a supervised visit with his kid, and when Jax catches wind of the news, he intercepts him to deliver his revenge. At least Weston took it like a man, because the same can’t be said of Ethan Zobelle. Of course, that’s because Zobelle is a different kind of monster completely. In fact, it turns out he’s an FBI snitch, which forces Hale to cut him loose as well, only for Zobelle to go run to the Mayans for protection.

sons_of_anarchy_2-13

While the Sons wait out a seemingly inevitable showdown with the Mayans in the middle of town, Zobelle plans his getaway to Budapest. His daughter wants to say her goodbyes to Edmond first, though, and it turns out to be an unwise decision, because Gemma follows her there and shoots her dead. What Gemma doesn’t realize is that Agent Stahl is also in the house – still trying to get her shit together after she killed Edmond during an attempted escape – and now Stahl has framed her for both murders. She’s nice enough to give Gemma a head start, but that doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. After all, regardless of when he gets caught, it’s going to be pretty difficult to prove her innocence when the only other witness in the room is not only the real murderer, but a federal agent as well. Getting the Sons out of those gun charges is one thing, but how are they going to get Gemma out of this mess? You’ve got me, but for the time being, Wayne seems content with the idea of running away with her.

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