RENEWED: ‘Homeland’ Picked up For A Second Season By Showtime

Here’s no real surprise, but Showtime has renewed their new, highly acclaimed, spy-thriller Homeland.  We gave it a perfect 100 out of 100 score.  Yeah… it’s that good.

Via Press Release:

SHOWTIME® ORDERS SEASON TWO OF HOMELAND

 

Network Greenlights Second Season of Its Highest Rated Freshman Drama Series Ever

Starring Claire Danes, Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin

 

 

LOS ANGELES, CA – (October 26, 2011) – On the heels of HOMELAND’s biggest numbers yet, for this past Sunday’s airing, SHOWTIME has ordered a season two, consisting of 12 new one-hour episodes. The announcement was made today by David Nevins, President of Entertainment, Showtime Networks Inc.  Developed for American television by executive producers Howard Gordon andAlex Gansa, HOMELAND stars Emmy® Award winner Claire Danes, Golden Globe® nominee Damian Lewis and Emmy and Tony®Award winner Mandy Patinkin. HOMELAND debuted as the network’s highest-rated freshman drama series ever, generating 4.4 million viewers across platforms in its first week. The series has continued to increase overall viewership since its premiere, with its most recent episode delivering the series’ best ratings to-date this past Sunday.  Season two will begin production in spring 2012.

“HOMELAND is just getting started,” said Nevins.  “Clearly, the overall audience growth from week one to week four demonstrates that this show is hitting a nerve in the cultural zeitgeist.  Alex and Howard have created a psychological thriller that holds special relevance in the post 9/11 world.  I’m quite confident that its passionate audience will be riveted as the season unfolds and people discover where this story is going.”

The countless accolades for HOMELAND keep coming as the show gets deeper into its debut season.  Newsweek calls HOMELAND “the most addictive show of the season.”  The New York Times notes “Homeland is well made and gripping…impossible to resist” andTV Guide says “Hands-down the best new drama on TV.” USA Today raves “Stands out as the season’s best new drama.”  “Grade: A” says The Boston Globe. The LA Times relays “It’s the first telling of a post-9/11 story that is all the things it should be: politically resonant, emotionally wrenching and plain old thrilling to watch.”

HOMELAND is a one-hour drama series that tells the story of Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), a CIA officer battling her own demons, who becomes convinced that the intelligence that led to the rescue of Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), a U.S. soldier who had been missing and presumed dead for eight years, was a setup and may be connected to an Al Qaeda plot to be carried out on American soil.  The series also stars Morena Baccarin, David Harewood, Diego Klattenhoff, Morgan Saylor and Jackson Pace. HOMELAND is based on the original Israeli series “Prisoners of War,” by Gideon Raff.   Along with Gordon and Gansa, the executive producers for season one are Avi Nir, Ran Telem, Gideon Raff and  Michael Cuesta. The series is produced by FOX 21.

Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of CBS Corporation, owns and operates the premium television networks SHOWTIME®, THE MOVIE CHANNEL and FLIX®, as well as the multiplex channels SHOWTIME 2, SHOWTIME® SHOWCASE, SHOWTIME EXTREME®, SHOWTIME BEYOND®, SHOWTIME NEXT®, SHOWTIME WOMEN®, SHOWTIME FAMILY ZONE® and THE MOVIE CHANNEL XTRA. SNI also offers SHOWTIME HD, THE MOVIE CHANNEL HD, SHOWTIME ON DEMAND® and THE MOVIE CHANNEL ON DEMAND. SNI also manages Smithsonian Networks, a joint venture between SNI and the Smithsonian Institution, which offers Smithsonian Channel. All SNI feeds provide enhanced sound using Dolby Digital 5.1. SNI markets and distributes sports and entertainment events for exhibition to subscribers on a pay-per-view basis through SHOWTIME PPV®.

REVIEW: Pan Am – ABC (Sunday, 10:00 p.m.)

Passion, jealousy and espionage… They do it all – and they do it at 30,000 feet. The style of the 1960s, the energy and excitement of the Jet Age and a drama full of sexy entanglements deliciously mesh in this thrilling and highly-original new series.

In this modern world, air travel represents the height of luxury and Pan Am is the biggest name in the business. The planes are glamorous, the pilots are rock stars and the stewardesses are the most desirable women in the world. Not only are these flyboys and girls young and good looking, but to represent Pan Am they also have to be educated, cultured and refined. They’re trained to handle everything from in-air emergencies to unwanted advances – all without rumpling their pristine uniforms or mussing their hair. There’s Dean (Jonah Lotan) – a cocky, charismatic and ambitious new pilot – the first of a new breed not trained in the war. On the sly against company policy, he’s dating Bridget, a stunning beauty with a mysterious past. A rebellious bohemian, Maggie (Christina Ricci) turns into a buttoned up professional for work so she can see the world. Rounding out the crew are flirtatious Collette (Karine Vanasse), the adventurous Kate (Kelli Garner) and, finally, Laura (Margot Robbie) – Kate’s beauty queen younger sister, a runaway bride, who recently fled a life of domestic boredom to take to the skies. – ABC

50 out of 100

Well, now we’re pissed.  We had very high hopes for Pan Am based on the buzz and the fantastic trailers we saw like this one.

Well, apparently those hopes were misplaced.  Pan Am  isn’t horrible it’s just not much of anything.

The biggest problem the show has is the plotlines.  There are just too damned many of them and none of them seem to have anything to do with each other nor are they particularly compelling. It’s like you are watching a bunch of different shows all at the same time and none of them are really going anywhere and every minute that they spend on an airplane is a minute we want to pull out our hair.  We’re claustrophobic just watching this.

Also, we expected this to be an exciting, fast-paced Cold War sexy, spy story.  Well, the espionage plotline is barely touched upon and when it is, it doesn’t hold your interest. Instead, we get hour upon hour of a bunch of whiny soap opera crap about sexual politics, young women with issues with their mothers, historical references squeezed into the story (they just couldn’t resist a Cuban airlift scene in the pilot), dull romances and stewardesses who unwittingly sleep with married men.

Worse, there’s nothing convincing about this show at all.  Period pieces are supposed to convince you that they are actually set in the period that they claim to be, like Mad Men or hell, even the horrific (and now canceled) The Playboy Club.  We have no doubt that this show is firmly planted in 2011 and this a big problem for a period piece.  Nothing looks like 1960 at all and they are using the worst CGI we have seen in years on television.  For crap’s sake, how expensive would it be to get an old plane and paint the Pan Am logo on the side of it?  For that matter, would it be so hard to find an old airport?

The only really redeeming factor about the show is the actors, themselves.  The show is well-cast and the cast does an excellent job with what comes down to very creatively-limited material.  The characters themselves are OK but they tend to come off as caricatures as does the show in general, which is bad when that’s not what you’re going for. The whole thing seems to be written by someone who wasn’t even alive in the 1960’s and they didn’t bother to consult with experts on the era.

At the end of the day, Pan Am isn’t awful but it’s not great, either.  Mediocre, Serviceable and Average; these are the words that come to mind for Pan Am and general audiences, very well may find it watchable… we didn’t. We got through the pilot, 20 minutes of the second episode and 20 minutes of the third episode and then subsequently removed it from the DVR schedule.

We really wanted this show to work.  It just doesn’t.

You can watch full episodes of Pan Am, here.

Hey, Fartknockers! Beavis and Butt-Head Return Tonight To MTV With All New Episodes… REVIEWniverse Called It!

Back in July of 2010, when the ‘Tastic was just a wee baby, we did a piece discussing a piece from REVIEWniverse that claimed, without verifying or confirming any sources, that Mike Judge was planning on bringing the 1990’s animated hit, Beavis and Butt-Head, back to MTV with 30 new episodes.

At the time, as excited as we were to hear the news, we were skeptical to say the least because A.) we don’t like anonymous, unconfirmed and unverified sources and B.) the details seemed just a little too perfect.  Well, after more than a year later, today we are glad to say that we were wrong and REVIEWniverse was absolutely correct.  New episodes of Beavis and Butt-Head will air beginning tonight on MTV at 10:00 p.m.  What’s funny is that Kenny Herzog of REVIEWniverse was so moved by our idiotic piece back from last year that last month he even made a point to rub our noses in it, and for that, we feel honored because he has a lot more street cred than we do.

Kenny Herzog:

Told you :)

-Kenny H./REVIEWniverse

So, we humbly concede to Kenny Herzog and Robbie Wolliver over at REVIEWniverse on this one. They were right, we were wrong and we couldn’t be happier.

And for the record, if this teaser is any indication of what to expect from the relaunch, it’s funnier than ever.

Snookie: I’m a whore… hello?

Butt-Head: That’s how she answers the phone… uh… huh… huh… huh.

REVIEW: A Gifted Man (CBS – Friday, 8:00 p.m.)

A Gifted Man is a drama about a brilliant, charismatic surgeon whose life changes forever when his deceased ex-wife begins teaching him the meaning of life from the “hereafter.”  Michael Holt (Patrick Wilson) is an exceptional doctor who lives a materialistic life of luxury thanks to his work-obsessed career and powerful and wealthy patients; however, Michael’s ordered world is rocked when his ex-wife, Anna (Jennifer Ehle), an idealistic free-clinic doctor and the love of his life, mysteriously appears to him.  Michael’s off-beat sister, Christina (Julie Benz), a single mom to her teenaged son, Milo (Liam Aiken), is thrilled that Anna’s back in her brother’s life, even as an “illusion,” because Michael was always a better person with her.  Curious about Michael’s sudden change in behavior is his efficient assistant, Rita (Margo Martindale).  When Anna asks Michael to go to her clinic to help keep it running, he meets Autumn (Afton Williamson), a volunteer carrying on Anna’s work with the underprivileged.  Touched by those in need and accepting of Anna’s compassionate “presence,” Michael’s attitude toward serving the rich and poor is turned upside down, and he begins to see that there’s room in his life for everyone. – CBS

88 out of 100

It’s rare that a show lives up to the hype generated by its trailer so completely that a critic could simply watch a trailer to do a review of the show and be spot-on.  What’s even rarer is when a show is actually better than the trailer and the network undersells it.  That’s what’s going on with A Gifted Man.

As noted in our Fall preview, we knew A Gifted Man looked like a winner, we just had no idea how charming it would be in so many ways.

Now, if you take away the ghost-of-the-dead-ex-wife scenario, the premise doesn’t come off as particularly original.  Successful and arrogant doctor who once was full of passion and had a heart of gold has dramatic event -“X” happen in his life and makes him re-evaluate his life and go back to his roots and work to do nothing but help people regardless of the bottom line, yadda, yadda.  Most recently, Everwood comes to mind (shoot, the wife dying was the dramatic event in that, as well) and in a non-medical scenario, the crappy Harry’s Law and Eli Stone come to mind.  Sharing a similar theme but going back two decades we have Northern Exposure and of course the 1991 film, Doc Hollywood (which The CW just couldn’t resist when they greenlit Hart of Dixie).

But Anna Paul (the ghost) is what sets A Gifted Man apart from its predecessors.  One thing to note is that despite the trailer, Holt isn’t as nearly as much of a prick as you would think he would be.  He actually comes off as a sympathetic lost soul more than anything else and Anna is there to give him the push he needs in the right direction.  He’s a man who’s lost his way and his sense of purpose and of course that brings us to the basic premise of this morality play that would be best suited to star James Stewart: success, money and power are fleeting and what truly matters is what we do for others while we are here during this very short time we have.

That’s pretty powerful stuff for the prime time television and more surprising, this is a very spiritual and – dare we say it – religiously themed show.  Think about it.  The premise of the show is that there is indeed an afterlife and what we do with the time we have determines where we end in that afterlife.  There hasn’t been this kind of in-your-face non-secular dramatic program on television since Touched By an Angel.  Sure, there have been shows like Medium and Ghost Whisperer but they really don’t deal with the fundamental issues of our existence like A Gifted Man does at its heart.

It is simply impossible not to enjoy this show.  It’s a wonderful break from the downtrodden premise of dramatic television in general.  It’s uplifting and although it has its fair share of dramatic scenarios, you get the sense that no matter what happens, it was kind of meant to be.  The spirituality of the show brings about a great sense of peace.

The show has been brilliantly cast (this has been a recurring theme for most of the shows this Fall) with everyone from 2010 Emmy Winner Margo Martindale (Justified) to Dexter’s Julie Benz to fantastic character actor Pablo Schreiber (The Wire, Lights Out).

Finally, and back to the spirituality theme, the show leaves the audience with more questions than it does answers which is probably the biggest litmus test for good story-telling.  When the audience is introspective after an episode, the writers have done their job.

You may see mixed reviews from other critics about A Gifted Man.  Ignore them.  Any disdain for this show is just the cynicism of the reviewer creeping in and the media’s general vitriol that they direct toward anything that has a spiritual context.  A Gifted Man is a wonderful show for the whole family.

You can watch full episodes of A Gifted Man, here.

OFFICIAL: Full Season Orders Placed For Unforgettable and Person of Interest… One More To Go For CBS.

As expected, Unforgettable and one of our favorite new shows, Person of Interest, have both been picked up for full seasons leaving Friday night’s new drama, A Gifted Man, as the only new show on CBS who’s fate is, as of yet, still undecided.

Both shows have been consistently strong in the timeslots with Unforgettable winning its slot in total viewers with against ABC’s Body of Proof and NBC’s ParenthoodPerson of Interest has been averaging 9.5 million viewers and a 2.8 rating in the 18 – 49 demographic and the most recent episode had 12 million eyeballs on it.

We’re thrilled about Person of Interest as it’s one of the best new shows of the season but we don’t really care about the schedule filler of a procedural, Unforgettable, however, once again, it is a very positive sign that the networks have committed to this many shows so early without hitting the panic button.

FOX Buys Marvel Comics’ The Punisher Series, Commits To Pilot

Deadline is reporting that FOX has handed a put-pilot commitment to The Punisher, a series based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name.  The series is from ABC Studios and (former Criminal Minds showrunner) Ed Bernero and marks the first time that Disney has ever sold a Marvel Comics series to anyone but Disney-owned ABC.  We think we know why.  As much as we hate to say it, this is going to suck and we’ll explain why.

From Deadline:

The Punisher is described as an hour-long procedural with a Marvel signature and a new take on one of the comic book giant’s iconic characters, Frank Castle, a rising star detective with the New York Police Department who moonlights as the vigilante Punisher, seeking justice for those the system has failed.

And there it is… the reason this show will not work.

We Need Less of This...

First, let’s be clear, this is not a new take on The Punisher.  This is the nearly the same premise as the 1989 film, The Punisher (and to a lesser extent the 2004 film of the same title where The Punisher is former Delta Force and currently an undercover FBI agent), starring Dolph Lundgren that is possibly one of the worst films ever made.  The major difference is that there is nothing to indicate that his family has been murdered by the mafia (wha???) and that in this bizarre universe, The Punisher actually keeps his day job of being a detective and goes out at night to fight crime, i.e., he’s every other comic book hero. Now, is the fact that the general premise is the same in and of itself what makes this “new” concept for television so bad?  Nope, the problem is that Frank Castle (a.k.a., The Punisher) does not work as a cop for numerous reasons, especially an active-duty cop.

...and More of This.

Frank Castle is a metaphor for the everyman.  He was originally an enlisted, highly decorated and patriotic soldier who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time when his family was gunned down after witnessing a mob hit.  He was never in a position of authority or power, and that’s why the character has had the appeal it has had for the last 37 years.  He’s one of us.  He’s the husband and father that was able to strike back against the criminals of the world and get the kind of retribution and justice that we would all seek if we had the ability and gestational fortitude. To put it simply, he’s NOT ‘The Man’ and a cop is ‘The Man.’

The truth is that people want their police officers to be police officers and their vigilantes to be their vigilantes. That’s true with comic book readers, television audiences and just people in general.  Is it any coincidence that Bernhard Goetz still has supporters to this day? Is it any coincidence that a show like Person of Interest continues to find success on CBS or how even twenty years ago The Equalizer found similar success.

The First Appearance of 'The Punisher.' The Amazing Spider-Man #129, February 1974

That being said, we may appreciate our citizen-vigilantes, but there has always been something very unsettling with the idea of a police officer taking the law into his own hands, even fictionally. American audiences don’t like corrupt cops, even if they are doing it for a greater good because we are brutally aware that any one of us on any given day could be at the other end of the actions of a corrupt police officers.  We’ve recently gotten hooked on AMC’s Breaking Bad  and in the third season, Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) brother-in-law Hank Schrader (Dean Norris), a DEA agent, viciously assaults Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) and there isn’t a person who’s seen that scene that doesn’t cringe with the notion of a police officer abusing their power in such a manner and even Hank himself takes full responsibility for what he has done and says, “We have to be better than that.”

So, the point is that there isn’t anyone that wants to see a cop as a vigilante on television, nevertheless the brutally vicious Frank Castle.  Below, is what the The Punisher is all about and that ain’t gonna work with the title “rising-star detective.”

WARNING: NSFW!!! BRUTALLY GRAPHIC!

REVIEW: ‘Person of Interest’ (CBS – Thursday, 9:00 p.m.)

Person of Interest stars Jim Caviezel, Emmy Award winner Michael Emerson and Academy Award nominee Taraji P. Henson in a crime thriller about a presumed dead former-CIA agent who teams up with a mysterious billionaire to prevent violent crimes by using their own brand of vigilante justice.  Reese’s (Caviezel) special training in covert operations appeals to Finch (Emerson), a software genius who invented a program that uses pattern recognition to identify people about to be involved in violent crimes.  Using state-of-the-art surveillance technology, the two work outside of the law using Reese’s adept skills and Finch’s unlimited wealth to unravel the mystery of the person of interest and stop the crime before it happens.  Reese’s actions catch the attention of the NYPD, including homicide detective Carter (Henson), and Fusco (Kevin Chapman), a cop who Reese uses to his advantage.  With infinite crimes to investigate, Reese and Finch find that the right person, with the right information, at the right time, can change everything. – CBS

85 out of 100

We have been enjoying Person of Interest on CBS, so far. It’s gritty, full of action, well acted… not to mention it takes place in the Big Apple.

Lost’s Michael Emerson, plays Mr. Finch, a very rich recluse who has developed a computer program that can identify the identity of persons that will be connected to violent crimes in the future. However, the program does have its limitations. For example it can’t distinguish between whether or not the person will be either the victim or the person committing the crime itself.

Finch hires John Reese (Jim Caviezel), a former Green Beret and CIA field officer who is presumed dead to help stop the crimes from taking place. He does this because he can’t do it alone.

The pilot episode explains that Finch originally built the machine for the government as a means to prevent mores 9/11-type disasters from taking place, but found that it was also foretelling many other crimes. Finch built a backdoor into the machine that, before erasing the “irrelevant data” each night, sends to Finch a list of Social Security numbers of those who will be involved in those crimes. Finch also establishes that the world thinks that Reese and he are dead.

The show is gripping and plays out very fast and furious each episode. I think that it should be a great hit for CBS. Time will tell. The show is Executive Produced by J.J. Abrams and Jonathan Nolan who also wrote the screenplay. Enjoy!

You can watch full episodes of Person of Interest, here.

FIRST LOOK: Touch – New Science Fiction Drama From Tim Kring Starring Kiefer Sutherland and Danny Glover

We’ve been looking forward to news about the new Tim Kring (Heroes) series starring Kiefer Sutherland, Touch since we first heard about it back in April.  At the time it seemed interesting, albeit a little vague so we didn’t know quite what to make of it.  Well, FOX has now released a first-look trailer and it looks fantastic.

Touch is set to debut in early 2012.

Show Description:

From writer/creator Tim Kring (HeroesCrossing Jordan) and executive producers Peter Chernin (TERRA NOVA) and Katherine Pope (TERRA NOVA) comes TOUCH, a preternatural drama in which science and spirituality intersect with the hopeful premise that we are all interconnected, tied in invisible ways to those whose lives we are destined to alter and impact.

Through masterful storytelling, the series follows a group of seemingly unrelated characters – beginning with a former firefighter tormented by his inability to save a dying woman, an Iraqi teenager who will go to great risks to help his family, a gifted singer whose actions at a karaoke bar save lives thousands of miles away and a British businessman desperately trying to retrieve a key piece of information from his lost mobile phone – who affect each other in ways seen and unseen. 

At the center is MARTIN BOHM (Kiefer Sutherland, 24), a widower and single father, haunted by an inability to connect to his mute, severely autistic 11-year-old son, JAKE. Caring, intelligent and thoughtful, Martin has tried everything to reach his son who shows little emotion and never allows himself to be touched by anyone, including Martin. Jake busies himself with cast-off cell phones, disassembling them and manipulating the parts, allowing him to see the world in his own special way. 

After multiple failed attempts at keeping Jake in school, Martin is visited by social worker CLEA HOPKINS, who insists on doing an evaluation of the Bohms’ living situation. Although new at her job, Clea sees a man whose life has become dominated by a child he can no longer control. She believes his attempts to communicate with Jake are just wish fulfillment, and determines that it’s time for the state to intervene. But everything changes when Martin discovers that Jake possesses a gift of staggering genius – the ability to see things that no one else can, the patterns that connect everything. Jake is indeed communicating after all. But it’s not with words, it’s with numbers. And now he needs Martin to decipher their meaning and connect these numbers to the cast of seemingly unrelated characters whose lives they affect. 

Along the way, Martin will be guided by BORIS PODOLSKY, a discredited aging professor who offers Martin a compelling but unorthodox theory about Jake and his rare ability. Whether it be chance, coincidence, timing, synergy or fate, there are events that touch us all, as part of an interconnected, dazzlingly precise universe. – FOX

RENEWED: A&E Picks Up The Glades For A Third Season

We’re pleased to announce that A&E’s The Glades has been renewed for a third season. The unique police procedural starring Matt Passmore increased its 18 – 49 audience by 12% in season two making it a shoe-in for renewal.  Unfortunately, we didn’t see a single episode of it because the damned DVR crapped out and we had to get a new one, thus losing the entire season. May the-powers-that-be at Netflix add season two to streaming, soon.

ROUNDUP! CANCELED: The Playboy Club, How To Be A Gentleman, Charlie’s Angels. FULL SEASON ORDERS: Revenge, Suburgatory, Ringer, MORE…

In news that makes us say, “Thank God,” because we don’t have to do reviews on these horrible shows that we actually did suffer through for our readers, How To Be A Gentleman and Charlie’s Angels have both been canceled by CBS and ABC, respectively. So, in lieu of the reviews that never happened, we will say that both of these shows were horrible and we will not miss them.  On the upside for fans of the moderately popular and successful Rules of Engagement (not us), it will not be airing on Saturday night as was originally planned but will be moving back to the highly coveted lead-out of The Big Bang Theory spot of Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.  As an aside, we don’t care about Rules of Engagement but seriously, how stupid was it to choose How to be a Gentleman over Rules of Engagement? That show was on its own level of horrible.

Also not surprising, last week the American adaptation of the popular BBC show, Free Agents was canceled by NBC, as well.  We liked Free Agents but we didn’t see it having much of a future after the first week’s ratings.  In related news, TNT has also canceled Memphis Beat after two seasons, The CW has mercifully canceled the repugnant H8R and NBC has ended the faux-controversial yet increasingly lame propagandist piece, The Playboy Club.

Now to the positives and we’re just going to list who the big winners are, so far (for right now, anyway, until someone decides to cancel them).  Unless otherwise indicated, all of the shows listed have received a full-season order.

  1. Up All Night  – NBC

    Strike Back Renewed For Second Season

  2. Whitney – NBC
  3. Revenge – ABC
  4. Ringer  – The CW
  5. Hart of Dixie – The CW
  6. The Secret Circle – The CW
  7. Suburgatory – ABC
  8. New Girl – FOX
  9. 2 Broke Girls – CBS
  10. Strike Back – Cinemax (renewed for second season)
  11. Boardwalk Empire – HBO (renewed for third season)
  12. Sons of Anarchy – F/X (renewed for fifth season)
  13. The Simpsons – FOX (renewed for two more seasons after current season)
  14. Prime Suspect – NBC (six more scripts ordered)
  15. Harry’s Law – NBC (six more scripts ordered)
  16. Happy Endings -ABC (six more scripts ordered)

We can’t say that we’re particularly surprised at any of the results right now except with the exception of Whitney which may be the second worst sitcom ever aired. What is refreshing, though, is that the networks seem to be committing pretty early and a lot more is being kept, at least in the short-term, than was last year.