NBC Comedy Christmas: If You’re Going to Decorate the Drunks, Please Have a Fire Extinguisher Standing By


Who would have guessed that the entry in NBC’s comedy lineup that has put shards of glass in an old man’s eye and married a berry-addled guy off to a raccoon and used crotch-focused heat-vision cameras to catch cheaters would be the one that actually gets Christmas?

What did we learn on The Office this week? Angela is sleeping with Dwight (which the viewers knew) and you can’t check a drunk into rehab against her will. Given that I was in fact questioning the teachings of the Mormon Church (and every other major world religion) not after having a drink but while missing this Thursday lineup to see a surprisingly limp Christmas performance by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Princess Unicorn’s horn piercing the sky restored my faith in funny but did little to restore my faith in Christmas. What did we learn on 30 Rock? Lonely white ladies and traumatized executives will ruin Christmas every time (although they can try to make up for it by singing a boozy rendition of “The Christmas Song”). A Tracy Jordan reference to Basquiat will crack me up every time, but Jack deciding not to murder his mother isn’t exactly “The Gift of the Magi”. Both shows were funny, and 30 Rock even had as sentimental an ending as they ever will, but the cynicism I so appreciate the rest of the year clashes slightly with the season.

It was My Name Is Earl that really got into the Christmas spirit, even if they lit exactly as many drunks on fire as The Office did. They’ve had brilliant Christmas episodes (mostly focusing on reuniting feuding families before), but “Orphan Earl”‘s message that being generous to people who have hurt you is liberating cuts right to the heart of the season. The morality police often draw a bright line between “naughty” and “nice” TV by excoriating anything that addresses sex or incorporates swearing but giving a pass to empty sitcom garbage that tarnishes souls and makes people stupider just by shooting low. My Name Is Earl, which had a sex-for-money transaction as part of a scam last night, blows up that kind of simple-minded categorizing by keeping the Christmas spirit alive all year long (or at least from September through May).




The Writers Guild of America, West and the Writers Guild of America, East today announced nominations for outstanding achievement in television, radio, news, promotional writing, and graphic animation during the 2008 season. Obviously, we only care about television. And we’re excited, because finally someone has given The Wire and Friday Night Lights their due. And look, Burn Notice! Also, we’re loving the fact that the WGA isn’t afraid to nominate My Name Is Earl‘s hilariously titled episode “Vote for This and I Promise to Do Something Crazy at the Emmys.”

Although some of the WGA’s nominees do mystify us. Entourage? Fringe? True Blood? For real? You guys sure you don’t want to watch them again and reconsider?

Winners will be honored at the Writers Guild Awards on February 7, 2009, in Los Angeles and New York. A complete list of television nominees is behind the cut…

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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.

Thursday Night’s Alright (For Laughing)

All is right with the world once more. That’s right, after five long months of deprivation, we’ve finally got our Thursday nights back again. I’m referring, of course, to NBC’s comedy lineup–My Name Is Earl, 30 Rock, The Office and Scrubs–which is back tonight with all new episodes for the first time since the writers strike torpedoed the season.

It’s a rare convergence of television programming that brings four comedies of this caliber together in one block. Not since the Golden Age of Must See TV–dominated by the Holy Quartet of The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers and Night Court–have we had this much reason to look forward to Thursday nights.

First up tonight, Earl picks up where last week’s episode left off, with Randy taking over a comatose Earl’s list. Okay, Earl’s imaginary sitcom within a sitcom may be further evidence that the show’s gone a bit off the rails this season. But I’m willing to grant some leeway to any storyline that gives Ethan Suplee’s Randy a chance to step into the spotlight.

On 30 Rock, a throwaway line from earlier in the season becomes the focus of a whole episode, as Jack tries to figure out which TGS staffer has been badmouthing his reality hit MILF Island. Best Week Ever‘s Rob Huebel guest stars as the host of the fake show, described as “25 super-hot moms, 50 eighth-grade boys, no rules.” Look for it on NBC’s summer reality schedule.

The Office finally returns from hiatus with Michael and Jan hosting a dinner party that’s sure to be as appalling as it is hilarious.

And on Scrubs, Turk learns Spanish to celebrate his and Carla’s anniversay, Dr. Cox plays games with Kelso’s breakfast, and J.D. will probably have a daydream or two. Enjoy it while you can, because NBC won’t be bringing back Scrubs, and there are only a few pre-strike episodes left to air on the network before it presumably makes the jump to ABC.

In Which We Weep for the Future of Television


So, I’ve been scouring all the entertainment news the last couple of days looking for some good update fodder. And you know what? All the entertainment news this week is crap. Seriously. Unadulterated rubbish.

NBC announced plans for their summer schedule and it’s almost all reality dreck. More American Gladiators. The Baby Borrowers. Celebrity Circus. Nashville Stars. America’s Got Talent. Thanks, but I’ll pass. Oh, and apparently Paris Hilton is appearing on My Name Is Earl. It’s not enough that she contaminated Veronica Mars with her presence, now she’s got to get her bad acting all over our Earl, too?

And then I read that Adam Carolla says he’s going to be hosting the upcoming American version of Top Gear. (That sound you hear right now is Mikaela wailing and gnashing her teeth.) Cheese and crackers, have the suits at NBC ever watched Top Gear? The whole appeal of the show is that the that hosts are so lovable and hilarious that you can’t help but adore them, even if you don’t care a fig about the cars they wax poetic over. Adam Carolla? Neither lovable nor hilarious. See my previous rant on the Americanization of perfectly good foreign TV series for more invective.

But perhaps the most depressing news of all is that E! has greenlighted a reality show focusing on Lindsay Lohan’s mother. Because that’s exactly what the post-rehab starlet needs to ease her down the road to recovery: a reality TV crew following around her train wreck of a family. Sometimes I weep for the human race.

If anyone needs me I’ll be huddled in the corner watching the Doctor Who series four cinema trailer on a loop.

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.

2007 Golden Globes Television Nominees

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced its nominations for the 65th annual Golden Globes this morning and the biggest surprise among the television nominees was the head-scratching exclusion of The Office from the comedy series category.

The awards will be presented Jan. 13 and televised on NBC, although the ongoing writers strike could impact the telecast. If the WGA refuses to grant a waiver allowing guild writers to work on the ceremony’s script, it’s unknown how many presenters and nominees would be willing to cross the picket line in order to attend.

Look behind the cut for the complete list of television nominees… Continue reading

MY NAME IS EARL: The Score Is Orange to None


So sang the brave and generous Timothy Stack on last night’s rebound episode, “Our Other Cops Is On!” And the score really has been orange to none this season, with Earl and the storyline stuck in prison with a bunch of other people in incarceration-mandated jumpsuits (in all fairness, the miscreants in Earl’s prison tend to wear denim shirts instead, but you get the drift). The formal experiment to remove Earl from both his Camden surroundings and his list of wrongs to correct is a daring one, and some kind of shake-up is probably necessary in a show tied to such a strong formula. Admiring the pluck it took to try that experiment, unfortunately, hasn’t translated into loving the season so far.

Last night’s episode shows what we’ve been missing. While still incorporating the increasingly dirty jokes they’ve gotten away with in Season 3 (really, Joy and Darnell’s assignation as viewed through heat-detecting night-vision cameras? At 8pm, 7 Central and Mountain? Wow.), Earl got back to two of the basics that make it a great show. Camden County’s Fourth of July celebration seems like the perfect setting for Earl‘s social satire that, perhaps more than any other show, takes on issues of class in America (of course Camden cops can torture Earl in “a 9/12 world”). More than that, however, the nature of the episode allows the camera to weave through the lives of Earl’s friends, bad people who are trying, as best they know how, to be good (and then came Joy). For honk’s sake, these are folks who were featured on Cops not once but twice. We need Earl out of prison and back among his people.

In other words–Free Earl! <–link to clever music video redacted until the WGA has a contract that would pay writers for Internet-delivered content such as this.