Parallel Universes: Repeat Emmy Winners among Supporting Acting Nominees

Over the past couple of days, we’ve been exploring the question of how Emmy voters’ love affairs with a handful of shows or actors might create a sort of Emmy carousel, with the same few favorites winning over and over while others are forever kept off the ride. While there have been a lot of repeat winners over the past two decades, nine different women have won the Emmy for Lead Actress in a Comedy in the last nine years. Does this signal a new dawn of diversity for the Emmys?

We’re especially curious about how these patterns work for supporting categories. Not only are ensemble shows where all of the actors submit in supporting categories common (think Modern Family, for example, where everyone from Ed O’Neill to Nolan Gould submitted in the supporting category last year), but shows that center around a lead character, such as House or The Closer or The Office, are often successful because of the strength of their supporting casts. There are so many supporting roles and so many excellent performances in them that we often have great difficulty narrowing down these categories to just a few nominees. With so many possible nominees, repeat winners might be an even bigger problem in supporting categories. So–are they?

Supporting Actor in a Drama: 5% repeat winners, 5% multiple winners

I would have sworn on my grandmother’s grave that William Shatner had won multiple times, but nope–only Ray Walston for Picket Fences all the way back in 1995 and 1996. We have tons of complaints about who doesn’t get nominated, but the wealth certainly gets spread in this category, at least in terms of wins. And last year’s winner, Aaron Paul, can’t repeat this year because of Breaking Bad‘s broadcast schedule. So much variety might point to the popularity and quality of ensemble shows, with many deserving performances from which to choose. But since the Academy shows here that they can be eclectic, why aren’t they in other categories?

Supporting Actress in a Drama: 10% repeats, 15% multiple winners

In fairness, this is probably less balanced than it seems, as Allison Janney might have dominated for years if she hadn’t started entering in the lead category after winning here twice. Still, it’s much more balanced than the lead category, where 65% were multiple winners. I blame Blythe Danner, who won in 2005 and 2006, for blocking CCH Pounder, Chandra Wilson, and Sandra Oh, but mostly I blame her for foisting Gwyneth Paltrow on the world.

So far, it seems like things are looking up–there are many more winners in the supporting categories as compared to the lead categories, where more than three times out of five we’re getting repeats. Rather than greater numbers of terrific performances leading to greater numbers of actors left in the cold, the ensemble shows are producing a greater variety of winners. This might be plain old common sense, since there should be many more supporting performances to choose from than there are lead performances. That doesn’t mean the Academy would have to use common sense, though, so hooray for them. It’s all good from Diego to the Bay, right? Right?

Supporting Actor in a Comedy: 25% repeats, 65% multiple winners

Really? Really. Puzzling. This category is regularly at least as difficult to narrow down as the supporting actor in a drama category–let’s examine the possibilities this year. Aziz Ansari. Ty Burrell. Chris Colfer. Ted Danson. Charlie Day. Garrett Dillahunt. Peter Facinelli. Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Zach Galifianakis. Donald Glover. Ian Gomez. Neil Patrick Harris. Ed Helms. John Benjamin Hickey. Josh Hopkins. Ken Jeong. Nick Kroll. Stephen Mangan. Rob McElhenney. Nick Offerman. Ed O’Neill. Oliver Platt. Danny Pudi. Stephen Rannazzisi. Paul Scheer. Adam Scott. Atticus Shaffer. Eric Stonestreet. Brian Van Holt. Rainn Wilson. I know I watch too much TV, but that’s 30 excellent actors in excellent performances of excellent roles just this year–just off the top of my head. That doesn’t count previous winners who just aren’t to my taste (Jon Cryer and Jeremy Piven, for example), or probably good performances on shows I just don’t like (the Big Bang guys or the great Weeds ensemble), or good actors I just don’t think are getting good enough material (former nominees Tracy Morgan and Jack McBrayer, or Cory Monteith), or the fourth person from the same show who is great but doesn’t rank quite as highly as his brethren (Chevy Chase or Mark Duplass), or actors and performances I like that I’ve just never thought of in terms of Emmy quality (the guys from Chuck and Psych, for example). Add those in, and you’re up to around 50 actors off the top of my head who could have a justifiable claim on a nomination this year…and yet a handful of winners take home the hardware over and over (and over).

David Hyde Pierce won four times for his role as Niles Crane on Frasier, and Michael Richards, Brad Garret, and Jeremy Piven won three Emmys each. During those same years, actors who didn’t win included Jeffrey Tambor, Phil Hartman, Peter Boyle, John Mahoney, Bryan Cranston, Will Arnett, Rainn Wilson, and Neil Patrick Harris. Shoot, I can’t stand Seinfeld and I still feel sorry for Jason Alexander. And that’s just among the actual nominations, which also tend to circle around the same people over and over. With so many worthy performances to choose from, why is this category so stuck on the same winners over and over?

Supporting Actress in a Comedy: 25% repeats, 65% multiple winners

The same as their funny brethren. Double winners include Bebe Neuwirth, Kristen Johnson, and Megan Mullaly, while Laurie Metcalf and Doris Roberts won three apiece. While there has been more variety recently, nominees who never won in those repeat years include Faith Ford, Estelle Getty, Rhea Perlman, Janeane Garofalo, Jennifer Aniston (who finally won in lead), Kim Catrell, Wendie Malick, Cheryl Hines, Vanessa Williams, Amy Poehler, Elizabeth Perkins, and Jessica Walter. (And, again, that’s just among the nominees, most of whom were nominated multiple times.)

So…what the what? The idea that Emmy voters just get stuck on the same few winners, whether that’s because of buzz, comfort, or plain old love, makes sense, as the supporting comedy numbers are similar to those in all four lead categories. But then why are the supporting drama categories so different? The theory that the wealth will be better spread in supporting categories makes sense, too–the numbers for the drama categories suggest that when there are lots and lots of great possibilities, Emmy voters are capable of enjoying a large variety of performances. But then why are the comedy supporting categories so much different than the dramatic categories? Friend O’ Bacon Bgirl suggests that people who make TV have little time to watch TV and tend to vote based on buzz and social networks. Even though voting panels change annually, there’s probably not a huge shift in the overall population of Academy members from whom those panels are drawn from year to year, so that explanation makes a lot of sense for the categories that are stagnant–people vote for their friends or what they hear is good year after year without seeing other notable performances. But if that’s the case, why doesn’t it hold true for the supporting dramatic categories? We’d love to hear your explanations.

Sunday: Is this a problem? I mean, it’s not like According to Jim ever won for Outstanding Comedy. Maybe Academy voters just recognize the best quality, and quality doesn’t go away from year to year. But if stagnation is an issue, or if there are lots of high-quality programs and performances that could be equally honored, are there solutions to break away from repeat winners and spread the wealth?

Squee! It’s…

Squee! It’s Andre Braugher on the two-hour season premiere of House tonight. If you’re mourning the overlooking of Generation Kill a bit today, you’re probably already familiar with Braugher’s Emmy-winning role in David Simon’s previous work (with Paul Attanasio and Tom Fontana, of course), Homicide: Life on the Street. If you’re not familiar with said work, get thee to the DVD-rental service of your choice immediately, because Braugher’s Frank Pembleton is one of the greatest TV performances of all time. You may also have seen Braugher in the recent miniseries Thief, the short-lived Practice spinoff Gideon’s Crossing, doscudramas like The Tuskegee Airmen, Soldier’s Girl, and 10,000 Black Men Named George, and shows like Hack and, of course, Law and Order. You could watch Tom DeLay on Dancing with the Stars; or the season premieres of Heroes, Castle, the CBS comedy block, or CSI: Honey Barbecue; or the kickoff of Accidentally On Purpose (unintended pregnancy–always hilarious!)–but why would you when Andre Braugher will be on your screen? While I’ve been a leetle less enchanted with House lately, Braugher is an irresistable force–putting him up against immovable object House (and to-date still-Emmyless Hugh Laurie)? Can’t. Wait. House, longer than usual and hopefully with less Thirteen, tonight on Fox at 8pm Eastern.

Is There An Awards Show Tonight? 2009 Emmy Awards Allegedly Given

We’ve been trying to think of something to say about the Emmy awards–we supposely think about TV a lot around here–and we’ve got nothing. Susannah’s a lot better at accepting this than I am, but we’re just not well aligned with the Academy. We realized last year that we agreed with about 25% of the official nominees, and…that was apparently a good year. This year is no different: the lead actress in a drama category, for example, is just embarrassing, and expanding some of the major categories hasn’t expanded my affection for the possible winners (Simon Baker? Really? Really.). I’ve heard people say that the people who make TV don’t have time to watch it, and I’ve wondered if those busy voters just float toward the general zeitgeist. In the end, however, it may just be a difference of taste, and the Emmys don’t reflect mine.

Then again, Mariska Hargitay could win an Emmy tonight. Another one. So I guess the jury is out on that taste thing.

I just can’t get worked up about the Emmys, then, not even with the wondrous Neil Patrick Harris hosting (I’d call it a boycott, but I can’t care enough to work up that kind of umbrage). I hope Harris wins his category, and I hope he kills as host, but as soon as Kristin Chenoweth wins for supporting actress in a comedy–AND SHE HAD BETTER–well, the Giants and Cowboys are on NBC tonight. Who would you have preferred to see nominated?

Golden Globe Television Nominees Offer Few Surprises

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The 66th annual Golden Globe nominations were announced this morning by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Although the televised ceremony (AKA the drinky Oscars) is generally a rip-roaring good time due to the mingling of film and television stars and the copious amounts of alcohol consumed by attendees, the awards themselves are invariably somewhat dubious, given as they are by a small group of irrelevant journalists known for being easily swayed by studio marketing campaigns. Still, they’re awards, so we’re gonna talk about ’em.

For the most part the nominees this year are exactly who think they are: 30 Rock, The Office, Mad Men, Dexter, House, etc. Once again we are bored to tears by been-there-done-that nominations for Tony Shaloub, Mariska Hargitay and anyone connected with Entourage. There is some pleasure to be gained by the nods for Cranford, January Jones and Neil Patrick Harris. On the other hand, multiple nominations for Californication and True Blood just go to show that absolutely anything can get nominated for an award if it airs on premium cable, and the total exclusion of Pushing Daisies suggests the HFPA doesn’t even watch TV.

A complete list of television nominees is under the cut…

Continue reading

Emmys with a Side of Bacon

Susannah and I have been kicking back at the Emmys for a good long time now. We’ve wept. We’ve wailed. We’ve gnashed our teeth. Personally, I’ve worn sackcloth and ashes, but that’s just my general fashion aesthetic.

Part of the issue is that we can’t put our finger on what the problem is–something’s wrong (really, Academy–Entourage? Really?), but what is it? We’re inclined to blame the Emmy categories–is Pushing Daisies really the same kind of beast as Two and a Half Men? Should Dirty Sexy Money–or Boston Legal, for that matter–really be considered a drama? We’re embarrassed to admit, however, that every new categorization scheme we tried went exactly nowhere.

We considered doing away with “Drama” and “Comedy” and going instead with “Half-hour”/”Hour” or “Single-camera”/”Multi-camera”, both of which are already used in the technical and animated categories. In today’s television landscape, however, that left us with a couple of strong contenders and a couple we could argue about in the half-hour or mutli-camera categories while overloading the hour/single-camera even more than the current drama category already is. We toyed with the idea of honoring more actors by creating lead, supporting, and ensemble categories. These might allow for, say, Hugh Laurie (lead), Robert Sean Leonard (supporting), and Omar Epps (ensemble) or Steve Carell (lead), Rainn Wilson (supporting), and Ed Helms (ensemble) to be nominated for the same show, or for the large ensemble casts of, say, Lost or Friday Night Lights to be considered separately from shows that focus on true leads, like House or Life. The details necessary to make that work, however (“if the character appears on-screen for less than 30% of the broadcast…”), both felt arbitrary and were, frankly, nearly impossible to hammer out. We played with the possibility that there just aren’t enough slots available to honor all of the great performances out there, so we tried adding and dividing up categories differently–“Classic Sitcom”! “Workplace Drama”! “Speculative Fiction”! “Human Interest (read: Soap Opera”)! Each of those seemed just as arbitrary as “Comedy” and “Drama,” though–is Grey’s Anatomy a workplace drama or a human interest show? You could argue either category for Mad Men. We were stumped.

And then it occurred to us: maybe the categories are the problem–and maybe that means there shouldn’t be any categories at all. This was a strangely liberating idea. We kept the sex split, both because it seems less arbitrary than the above and because we feared our lists would be swamped with male roles otherwise (try filling out the female comedy roles under the traditional categories–brutal). We limited ourselves to people on the official Emmy ballot, which meant excluding favorites because of production-based eligibility problems (goodbye, British-based Doctor Who crew), because of genre (sorry, Venture Brothers–we’ll catch you next time), and because they simply didn’t appear on the ballot for reasons beyond our understanding (who dropped the ball on submitting Dan Byrd from Aliens in America?). We began with a list of 40 actors of each sex, then narrowed the list to 30 and ranked them. By assigning points to those rankings, we were able to compare and combine our lists to create a category-less Bacon Emmys. After complaining that there just weren’t enough spots to honor all of the excellent performances out there, we were pretty surprised to find that in the end we shared 21 ranked male actors and 21 ranked female actors–with one tie in the Lead Actor in a Drama category leading to 21 official male Emmy nominees in the “major” acting categories this year, that means our numbers are pretty much right on the real numbers. Some other patterns surprised us, too:

Male actors (in alphabetical order):

  • Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
  • Steve Carell, The Office
  • Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights
  • Gaius Charles, Friday Night Lights
  • Henry Ian Cusick, Lost
  • Glenn Fitzgerald, Dirty Sexy Money
  • Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
  • Ed Helms, The Office
  • Michael Hogan, Battlestar Galactica
  • Hugh Laurie, House
  • Robert Sean Leonard, House
  • Zachary Levi, Chuck
  • Damian Lewis, Life
  • Zeljko Ivanek, Damages
  • Jack McBrayer, 30 Rock
  • Chi McBride, Pushing Daisies
  • Lee Pace, Pushing Daisies
  • Wendell Pierce, The Wire
  • Andre Royo, The Wire
  • Michael K. Williams, The Wire
  • Ray Wise, Reaper

Female actors (in alphabetical order):

  • Julie Benz, Dexter
  • Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights
  • Rose Byrne, Damages
  • Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies
  • Glenn Close, Damages
  • Tina Fey, 30 Rock
  • Anna Friel, Pushing Daisies
  • Ellen Greene, Pushing Daisies
  • Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
  • Holly Hunter, Saving Grace
  • January Jones, Mad Men
  • Angela Kinsey, The Office
  • Swoosie Kurtz, Pushing Daisies
  • Mary McDonnell, Battlestar Galactica
  • Elizabeth Mitchell, Lost
  • Adrianne Palicki, Friday Night Lights
  • Amy Pietz, Aliens in America
  • Jamie Pressley, My Name Is Earl
  • Sarah Shahi, Life
  • Sonja Sohn, The Wire
  • Natalie Zea, Dirty Sexy Money

For the record, Susannah’s top two ranked actors I didn’t list were Lost‘s Michael Emerson and FNL‘s Jesse Plemmons, while my top ranked she didn’t list were Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia‘s Charlie Day. For the women, her top two ranked picks I didn’t list were The Riches‘ Minnie Driver and Lost‘s Evangeline Lily, while my top picks she didn’t list were Tricia Helfer of Battlestar Galactica and Sunny‘s Kaitlin Olson.

These 42 actors represent 17 shows, which isn’t as many as the real nominees (24 shows). So maybe the Emmys do a better job of spreading the wealth than we would. On the other hand, they spread that wealth by nominating Charlie Sheen and Mariska Hargitay, and…yeah, we’re not going to apologize for not spreading the wealth quite that far. In fact, TV Bacon and the Academy agree on slightly fewer than 25% of the nominees (ten out of 41/42). It’s a supporting-heavy list, although that’s slightly skewed by self-submissions we’d place elsewhere (in what universe is Connie Britton supporting?)–that may reflect the current popularity of the ensemble shows we had such a hard time categorizing. It’s a very, very white list, especially for the women. Thank goodness for The Wire–if we remove their four candidates, 35 out of 38 of the remaining nominees are white. We’re still doing a little better than the real Emmys, who, including The Wire (from which they chose zero nominees), had four minority nominees out of 41 total. While we’ve both had America Ferrera and Edward James Olmos on our lists in the past, even including them wouldn’t hide the whitewash that is American television in 2008.

Perhaps most interesting, however, is that after all our complaining about the traditional categories–and we’re still plenty irked about several exclusions among the real nominees–it wouldn’t take us long to declare winners in each of those. Adding together our rankings to create a “winner,” we’d have to go exactly four names down our list of female actors to fill the four traditional categories, as our top four were Connie Britton (supporting actress in a drama), Glenn Close (lead actress in a drama), Kristin Chenoweth (supporting actress in a comedy), and Anna Friel (lead actress in a comedy). The pattern for the men isn’t nearly so clear, since we’d have to go five whole places down our list to declare winners in the four traditional categories: Andre Royo (supporting actor in a drama), Lee Pace (lead actor in a comedy), Alec Baldwin (lead actor in a comedy), Kyle Chandler (lead actor in a drama), and Jack McBrayer (supporting actor in a comedy). If we’d hewn even more strictly to the Emmy rules and judged a single episode the actors submitted, Baldwin’s tour de force journey through 70s sitcoms might well have pushed him over the top. So after all our complaining and rearranging–are the categories really the problem after all?

What do you think? How would you have rearranged the Emmy categories? Who do you think was robbed? Are you coming after me with pitchforks because it was my list that kept John Krasinski out? Will the Emmys ever get it right?

Handy Dandy Guide to Returning Fall Television 2008

Suffering from Olympics withdrawal? Burned out on election coverage? Not to fear, my friend, because the new fall television season is upon us. That’s right, all (well, some) of our beloved TV shows are coming back to us. Below is a list of premiere dates for all our favorite (and some not-so-favorite) returning series. And stayed tuned, because coming soon, look for our guide to all the new fall series.

Tuesday, Aug. 26
Greek (ABC Family) 9 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 1
Prison Break (Fox) 8 p.m.
Gossip Girl (CW) 8 p.m.
One Tree Hill (CW) 9 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 2
The Shield (FX) 10 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 3
Bones (Fox) 8 p.m
America’s Next Top Model (CW) 8 p.m.
Top Design (Bravo) 10 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 4
Kitchen Nightmares (FOX) 9 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 5
Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? (Fox) 8 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 7
Entourage (HBO) 10 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 8
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Fox) 8 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 10
‘Til Death (Fox) 9 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 12
Don’t Forget The Lyrics (Fox) 9 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 13
MadTV (Fox) 11 p.m.
Saturday Night Live (NBC) 11:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 16
House (Fox) 8 p.m.
The Biggest Loser (NBC) 8 p.m.
Lincoln Heights (ABC Family) 8 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 18
Survivor (CBS) 8 p.m.
Smallville (CW) 8 p.m.
Supernatural (CW) 9 p.m.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX) 10 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 22
Dancing With The Stars (ABC) 8 p.m.
The Big Bang Theory (CBS) 8 p.m.
How I Met Your Mother (CBS) 8:30 p.m.
Two and a Half Men (CBS) 9 p.m.
Heroes (NBC) 9 p.m.
Boston Legal (ABC) 10 p.m.
CSI: Miami (CBS) 10 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 23
NCIS (CBS) 8 p.m.
Law & Order: SVU (NBC) 10 p.m.
Without a Trace (CBS) 10 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 24
The New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS) 8 p.m.
Criminal Minds (CBS) 9 p.m.
CSI: NY (CBS) 10 p.m.
Lipstick Jungle (NBC) 10 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 25
Ugly Betty (ABC) 8 p.m.
Survivor (CBS) 8 p.m.
My Name is Earl (NBC) 8 p.m.
The Office (NBC) 9 p.m.
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) 9 p.m.
E.R. (NBC) 10 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 28
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (ABC) 7 p.m.
The Amazing Race (CBS) 8 p.m.
The Simpsons (Fox) 8 p.m.
King of the Hill (Fox) 8:30 p.m.
Desperate Housewives (ABC) 9 p.m.
Cold Case (CBS) 9 p.m.
Dexter (Showtime) 9 p.m.
Family Guy (Fox) 9 p.m.
American Dad (Fox) 9:30 p.m.
Brothers & Sisters (ABC) 10 p.m.
The Unit (CBS) 10 p.m.
Californication (Showtime), 10 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 29
Chuck (NBC) 8 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 1
Private Practice (ABC) 8 p.m.
Pushing Daisies (ABC) 9 p.m.
Dirty Sexy Money (ABC) 10 p.m.
Friday Night Lights (DirecTV 101) 9 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 2
Tim Gunn’s Guide To Style (Bravo) 10 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 3
Wife Swap (ABC) 8 p.m.
Ghost Whisperer (CBS) 8 p.m.
Everybody Hates Chris (CW) 8 p.m.
The Game (The CW) 8:30 p.m.
Supernanny (ABC) 9 p.m.
Life (NBC) 10 p.m.
Numb3rs (CBS) 10 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 5
America’s Funniest Home Videos (ABC) 7 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 6
Samantha Who?
(ABC) 9:30 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 9
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS) 9 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 10
The Starter Wife (USA) 9 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 14
Eli Stone (ABC) 10 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 30
30 Rock (NBC) 8:30 p.m.

The Future Looks Bright for Barney and Robin on HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER

Don’t expect to find out who the mysterious mother is when CBS comedy How I Met Your Mother returns for its fourth season this fall. Guest star Sarah Chalke, the center of much recent speculation, will be returning for at least four episodes at the beginning of the season, but co-creator Craig Thomas isn’t ready to make the big reveal yet.

“I am not prepared to say either way whether (Chalke) is the mom,” said Thomas. “But I will also say we’re not antsy to tell people who the mom is in the premiere of season four. We have a little mystery going.”

But he did promise that the premiere will address the two cliffhangers from the finale–Ted’s proposal to Stella and the sudden emergence of Barney’s feelings for Robin. A wise strategy since, at this point, the show’s audience is far more invested in the burgeoning potential for a Barney/Robin romance than they are in the yet-to-be-revealed mother of Ted’s children.

The series seems to have been building towards the Barney and Robin storyline ever since the season one episode in which the two characters bonded over laser tag and cigars. “There will never be a more perfect woman for Barney than Robin,” Thomas said. “I think the audience will see very quickly that we’re not defanging Barney. We’ll see a guy who has these feelings and has no clue what to do with them.”

And apparently Lily will have an important role in the storyline as well. “Lily’s going to play into it a bunch, as the only one who can tell something’s a little odd about Barney, something a little different than before the bus hit him. It’s fun to see her recognize him.”

Speaking of Barney, his words of wisdom will be captured for posterity and published in The Bro Code, set to hit bookshelves in late November. Co-creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas have signed a deal to write the book, along with show writer Matthew Kuhn, who has written Barney’s blog for the CBS web site for the past three years.

Barney’s “Bro Code” was featured in the season three episode “The Goat,” and includes such nuggets as, “Should a Bro pick up a guitar at a party and commence playing, another Bro shall point out that he is a tool.”

CBS Announces Fall Premiere Dates

There’s not a whole heck of a lot on CBS that I’m really anticipating this fall, but just in case ya’ll are dying to know when all of their eleventy hundred procedurals are premiering, here ya go:

Thursday, Sept. 18
8:00-9:00 PM SURVIVOR (17th Installment Premiere)

Monday, Sept. 22
8:00-8:30 PM THE BIG BANG THEORY (2nd Season Premiere)
8:30-9:00 PM HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (4th Season Premiere)
9:00-9:30 PM TWO AND A HALF MEN (6th Season Premiere)
9:30-10:00 PM WORST WEEK (Series Debut)
10:00-11:00 PM CSI: MIAMI (7th Season Premiere)

Tuesday, Sept. 23
8:00-9:00 PM NCIS (6th Season Premiere)
9:00-10:00 PM THE MENTALIST (Series Debut)
10:00-11:00 PM WITHOUT A TRACE (7th Season Premiere)

Wednesday, Sept. 24
8:00-8:30 PM THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE (4th Season Premiere)
8:30-9:00 PM PROJECT GARY (Series Debut)
9:00-10:00 PM CRIMINAL MINDS (4th Season Premiere)
10:00-11:00 PM CSI: NY (5th Season Premiere)

Saturday, Sept. 27
8:00-9:00 PM CRIMETIME SATURDAY
9:00-10:00 PM CRIMETIME SATURDAY
10:00-11:00 PM 48 HOURS MYSTERY (Season Premiere)

Sunday, Sept. 28
7:00-8:00 PM 60 MINUTES (41st Season Premiere)
8:00-9:00 PM THE AMAZING RACE (13th Edition)
9:00-10:00 PM COLD CASE (6th Season Premiere)
10:00-11:00 PM THE UNIT (4th Season Premiere)

Friday, Oct. 3
8:00-9:00 PM GHOST WHISPERER (4th Season Premiere)
9:00-10:00 PM THE EX LIST (Series Premiere)
10:00-11:00 PM NUMB3RS (5th Season Premiere)

Thursday, Oct. 9
9:00-10:00 PM CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION (9th Season Premiere)
10:00-11:00 PM ELEVENTH HOUR (Series Debut)

Sarah Chalke Signed for MOTHER Return

Forget Britney. Seriously, forget her. What we really want to know is whether Scrubs‘ Sarah Chalke will be reprising her guest starring role as Stella on How I Met Your Mother. And more importantly, is Stella the eponymous mother we’ve been waiting so long to meet?

According to TV Guide‘s Michael Ausiello, the answer is yes and probably. Er, maybe. Hopefully?

Chalke’s return is definitely good news for the CBS comedy, which has been on a ratings upswing lately (in part due to that other guest star we wish everyone would shut up about). The chemistry between Stella and Ted was crackling, and the March 24th episode proved she integrates easily with the rest of the ensemble.

This season HIMYM has finally given us a few meager clues about the umbrella-wielding mother, some of which seem to point to Stella. And after last night’s episode it looks like we won’t have worry about what will become of poor Robin once the love of Ted’s life shows up. (And lo, did the exaltations of the BroTPers ring out across the world! Hallelujah!)

What’s more of a mystery is what all this might mean for Scrubs, which is presumed be jumping to ABC next season. Let’s hope Chalke will be able to juggle both shows.

Picking Up the Pieces: What’s Left of the TV Season?

Assuming the outcome of today’s WGA vote is positive, we’re only hours away from an end to the strike. So, in the immortal words of President Josiah Bartlet, “What’s next?”

A number of showrunners have already gone back work, making plans for the remainder of the season and scrambling to figure out how many episodes they can throw together. The networks, meanwhile, are making their own lists, deciding which shows will go on the block and which ones will live to fight another day. ABC got the ball rolling today, announcing nine pickups for next season, and the other networks are expected to follow suit in the coming days.

To try and help you make sense of all of this, I’ve scoured the trades and entertainment sites and come up with a (mostly) comprehensive list of what’s coming, what’s going, and what’s gotten stuck in limbo. Of course, a lot of this is still just speculation right now, and all of it is subject to change. But I’ll keep updating as new information becomes available, so check back for the latest–shows with new or updated information will be marked with an asterisk (*).

24 (FOX) – Jack Bauer’s seventh season has been completely torpedoed by the strike and will most likely be postponed until January 2009. Yeah, you read that right–2009.

* 30 ROCK (NBC) – Look for Liz Lemon and crew to return in on April 10. NBC is hoping to produce five additional episodes this season, depending on the availability of Alec Baldwin, who’s scheduled to start work on a feature film.

ALIENS IN AMERICA (CW) – Eight pre-strike episodes (bringing the season total to a respectable 18) will air starting March 2, but no more will be produced this season. The show is still considered to be in contention for renewal next season, though.

* ARMY WIVES (LIFETIME) – A mini-season is planned to air in June, with a full second season premiering in December.

* BACK TO YOU (FOX) – Will return Feb. 26 with three pre-strike episodes followed by eight additional episodes.

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (SCI FI) – Season four will debut April 2, with the first 11 of the show’s final 20 episodes already in the can. Production on the second half of the season may resume in March, but it’s unknown exactly when they’ll air.

* THE BIG BANG THEORY (CBS) – Will return on March 17 for the first of nine new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

BIG LOVE (HBO) – Production on season three begins in March, and the premiere date will most likely be pushed back to the end of the year.

BIG SHOTS (ABC) – It’s unlikely we’ll be subjected to any more episodes of this testosterone-laden flop. Hurrah!

BIONIC WOMAN (NBC) – Say goodbye to this expensive disappointment, which won’t resume production and won’t be back next year. RIP Jaime Sommers.

* BONES (FOX) – Will return with four pre-strike episodes on April 14, and may produce 2-6 additional episodes, although the airdate for those is still undetermined.

* BOSTON LEGAL (ABC) – Two pre-strike episodes remain and eight more are already slated for production. The series is expected be one of the first dramas to resume shooting post-strike and given Kelley’s notoriously quick turnaround time it looks like they might actually complete their entire 22-episode order. But the legal drama wasn’t included on ABC’s list of pickups for 2008-09, so this season may be the last.

BROTHERS & SISTERS (ABC) – One pre-strike episode remains and 4-5 more episodes are expected to be produced for airing in April and May. The series has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

BURN NOTICE (USA) – Production on season two is expected to start in late April, with new episodes airing this summer.

* CANE (CBS) – No new episodes will be produced this season and it wasn’t included on a recent list of pickups for 2008-09, so the future is looking dim for this stinky soap.

CANTERBURY’S LAW (FOX) – This Julianna Margulies vehicle from the producers of Rescue Me will premiere April 14 for a six-episode run.

* CHUCK (NBC) – The bad news is that the good folks at the Buy More won’t be back this season. The good news is that they will be back–NBC has ordered 13 episodes for 2008-09.

THE CLOSER (TNT) – Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson should return for her fourth season in June, about three weeks later than originally planned.

* COLD CASE (CBS) – Will return on March 30 with five new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

* CRIMINAL MINDS (CBS) – Will return on April 2 with seven new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

* CSI (CBS) – Will return on April 3 with six new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

* CSI: MIAMI (CBS) – Will return on March 24 with eight new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

* CSI: NEW YORK (CBS) – Will return on April 2 with seven new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC) – Expected to return in April with 4-7 new episodes. The ladies of Wisteria Lane have also been picked up for a fifth season.

DIRT (FX) – Returns for a seven-episode sophomore season on March 2.

DIRTY SEXY MONEY (ABC) – Three pre-strike episodes have yet to air, but don’t expect to see them until the Darling family returns to ABC’s schedule next fall.

ENTOURAGE (HBO) – The new season has been pushed back to fall, rather than the summer return originally planned.

* E.R. (NBC) – Yes, this fossil will actually be coming back on April 10 with six new episodes. And the network is reportedly in negotiations to bring the dang thing back for yet another season. Will it ever die?

EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS (CW) – Will return March 2 with 12 pre-strike episodes to bring the season total to 22. Still in contention for renewal next season.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (NBC) – Last week’s episode may very well be the last we’ll see of the mighty Dillon Panthers, as the forecast is grim for this critical darling (which has been on Ben Silverman’s hit list all season). Apparently clear eyes and full hearts can lose. No less than three different fan ventures have been launched in an attempt to save the show–one involves sending mini footballs to NBC, another is sending light bulbs, and a third group is sending Clear Eyes eye drops. So clever, those fans.

* THE GAME (CW) – Will return on March 23 with nine new episodes.

GIRLFRIENDS (CW) – This long-running series was expected to end after this season and it’s unlikely any new episodes will be produced, but the CW is reportedly working with the show’s producers to bring some closure with a retrospective or clip show of some kind.

* GHOST WHISPERER (CBS) – Will return on April 4 with six new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

* GOSSIP GIRL (CW) – Will return on April 21 with five new episodes. It’s also rumored the network may expand its order and bring the series back over the summer.

GREY’S ANATOMY (ABC) – Expected to return in April with 4-7 new episodes. And yes, the docs at Seattle Grace will be back for a fifth season.

HEROES (NBC) – Won’t be back until the series returns with 22+ episodes next season.

* HOUSE (FOX) – Our favorite cranky doc won’t be back until late April or early May, but Fox may extend the current season into summer. David Shore says the storyline originally planned for the second half of the season will most likely be thrown out altogether.

* HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (CBS) – Will return on March 17 with nine new episodes. The comedy wasn’t included on a recent list of pickups for 2008-09, but sources say it still has a good chance of renewal.

JERICHO (CBS) – Returns tonight with the first of seven new episodes (and in case you’re looking to jump in, EW has a handy cheat sheet to catch you up). No more episodes are expected to be produced this season, and as for next season… well, I guess it depends on the ratings tonight.

LAS VEGAS (NBC) – Two pre-strike episodes remain, but no more are expected this season. The show’s fate next season is uncertain.

* LAW & ORDER (NBC) – Will be back on April 23 with seven pre-strike episodes. It’s unclear how many additional episodes will be produced this season.

* LAW & ORDER: SVU (NBC) – Will return on April 15 with 4-6 new episodes.

LIFE (NBC) – Won’t be back this season, NBC has ordered 13 episodes for 2008-09 and plans to give the struggling show a proper relaunch. Let’s hope people actually start watching.

LIFE IS WILD (CW) – I’ve never even heard of this show, but apparently it’s a moot point now, as it’s not expected to return. Ever.

* LOST (ABC) – Six pre-strike episodes remain and five more will be produced in order to finish out the fourth season properly. That’ll make for a 13-episode season–three short of the 16 originally planned. Carlton Cuse says he hopes to incorporate the three “missing” episodes further down the line somehow. He also predicts there will be a four-week gap between the airdate of the last pre-strike episode and the first post-strike episode, rather than the uninterrupted season they were hoping for.

* MEDIUM (NBC) – Six pre-strike episodes remain in its current run and seven more are expected to be produced this season.

MEN IN TREES (ABC) – Will return Feb. 27 with 11 pre-strike episodes, but the series was not among ABC’s pickups for next season.

* MOONLIGHT (CBS) – Will return on April 11 with four new episodes. The vampire drama wasn’t included on a recent list of pickups for 2008-09 so its future is still up in the air.

* MY NAME IS EARL (NBC) – Earl Hickey will be back on April 3 with an hour-long episode, the first of 8-9 new episodes to be produced.

* NCIS (CBS) – Will return on April 7 with seven new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

* THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE (CBS) – Six pre-strike episodes remain, but CBS is reportedly waiting to see how it performs before deciding whether to produce any more. The comedy also was left off a recent list of pickups for 2008-09, casting more doubt on its future.

NEW AMSTERDAM (NBC) – This mid-season drama will premiere March 4 for an 8-episode run.

NIP/TUCK (FX) – Will complete its fifth season on Feb. 19. Production is expected to resume on season six this summer.

* NUMB3RS (CBS) – Will return on April 4 with six new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

OCTOBER ROAD (ABC) – Four pre-strike episodes remain, but the series was not among ABC’s pickups for next season.

* THE OFFICE (NBC) – Expect to see our favorite Dunder Mifflin employees back at work on April 10. Greg Daniels has confirmed that they’ll be producing six new episodes, though they “might be able to squeeze in seven if NBC asks for them.” The first episode will be “The Dinner Party,” a script that was about to start shooting when the strike interrupted production. Another pre-strike script, this one for the annual Christmas episode, will likely be tossed. The writing team is meeting this week to decide how to advance the show’s storylines, but Daniels says he’s “tempted to just leap ahead to where we would have been.” What I want to know is how they’re going to deal with Angela Kinsey’s baby belly.

* ONE TREE HILL (CW) – Six pre-strike episodes remain and six more will be produced this season.

PRISON BREAK (FOX) – About to complete its scheduled 13-episode season. The future of the series beyond that is unknown.

* PRIVATE PRACTICE (ABC) – Won’t be back this season, but has been given a 13-episode order for 2008-09.

PUSHING DAISIES (ABC) – Won’t return until the fall. But we can rest easy in the knowledge that our favorite piemaker will definitely be back.

QUARTERLIFE (NBC) – Will premiere Feb. 26 for a 6-episode run.

* REAPER (CW) – Will return March 13 with three pre-strike episodes, and five more have been ordered for this season.

* THE RETURN OF JEZEBEL JAMES (FOX) – Instead of the previously planned post-Idol preview on March 12, the mid-season comedy will debut with a one-hour premiere on March 14.

THE RICHES (FX) – Season two, which has been downsized from 13 to seven episodes, will premiere March 18.

* THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT (CBS) – Expected to return on April 14 with six new episodes. The comedy wasn’t included on a recent list of pickups for 2008-09 so its future is still up in the air.

SAMANTHA WHO? (ABC) – Three pre-strike episodes remain and are expected to air in the spring, along with several new episodes, in the post-Dancing with the Stars time slot. The series has also been picked up for 2008-09.

* SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE (NBC) – Will be back on the air Feb. 23 with host Tina Fey. SNL plans to push out four straight weeks of shows (Juno‘s Ellen Page has committed to host on March 1), a tall order for the live series, which rarely goes more than three weeks in row without a break. NBC is keen to catch up on all the ripe political fodder that’s gone un-lampooned during the strike. Maybe now we’ll all finally be able to stop watching that Sarah Silverman/Matt Damon video.

* SAVING GRACE (TNT) – The series is expected to return in June, about three weeks later than originally planned.

* SCRUBS (NBC) – The docs at Sacred Heart will be back on April 10 with four pre-strike episodes. The real question is whether NBC will let Bill Lawrence make the 3-5 additional episodes he needs to give the series a proper send off in its last season. If not, there’s a chance that ABC/Disney will let him produce them for the DVDs. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.

* SHARK (CBS) – Things are looking up for this series–CBS has ordered four more episodes this season, which may bode well for its chances for renewal.

* SMALLVILLE (CW) – Four pre-strike episodes remain and five more have been ordered for this season.

* SUPERNATURAL (CW) – Two pre-strike episodes remain and four more have been ordered for this season.

SWINGTOWN (CBS) – Only a couple of episodes of this mid-season drama have been produced and CBS is still deciding what to do with it.

TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES (FOX) – Four pre-strike episodes remain. What happens after that is still up in the air.

* TWO AND A HALF MEN (CBS) – Will return on March 17 with nine new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

UGLY BETTY (ABC) – Expected to return in April with 4-7 new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

* THE UNIT (CBS) – No new episodes are slated to be produced this season and it wasn’t included on a recent list of pickups for 2008-09, so its future chances are looking thin.

* WITHOUT A TRACE (CBS) – Will return on April 3 with six new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB (ABC) – It’s looking like it may be the axe for this newcomer.