ADVANCE REVIEW: ‘1600 Penn’ (NBC – Thursday, 9:30 p.m.)

EDITORIAL NOTE: To understand how we do our reviews, please refer to our review of Revolution, here.

1600 Penn PosterThe Gilchrists are just the average American family dealing with all the everyday issues – like a grown kid who’s forced to move back home, children who are smarter than their teachers and a stepmom (Jenna Elfman, “Dharma and Greg”) desperately trying to win over the kids. They’re loving, fun and a little crazy. In other words, just like everybody else. With one exception: they live in a very special house. The White House! Whether it’s entertaining foreign dignitaries, sneaking away for a night out, dealing with middle school crushes or putting out fires – figuratively and sometimes literally – there’s never a dull moment in the Gilchrist White House. For example, the First Son (Josh Gad, star of Broadway sensation “The Book of Mormon”) is one of the administration’s biggest liabilities, but also the glue that holds this family together. The President (Bill Pullman, “Independence Day,” “While You Were Sleeping”) knows too well that the only thing harder than being Head of State is being head of the family. Also starring are Martha MacIsaac (“Superbad”), Andre Holland (“Friends with Benefits”), Amara Miller (“The Descendants”) and Benjamin Stockham (“Sons of Tucson”).  “Modern Family” meets “The West Wing” in this election-year comedy from Emmy-winning executive producer/director Jason Winer (“Modern Family”). The executive producers are Winer, Gad and Jon Lovett (former White House speechwriter).  Winer also directed the pilot.  “1600 Penn” is produced by 20th Century Fox. – NBC

Score:     85 out of 100

Initial Impressions (May 22, 2012):  Yes!  Our prayers have finally been answered.  Bill Pullman is President of the United States, once again.  This is something we’ve wanted since Independence Day… we just weren’t expecting it to happen in comedy form.  Despite the limited information from the clip [above], just reading between the lines on this gives us a lot of insight as to the quality of this offering.  First, you’ve got two big leads in Bill Pullman and Jenna Elfman and you know they weren’t signing on to a crap show because they can be more selective with their roles.  More importantly, though, is the fact that the show is from the brains behind Modern Family which hopefully will mean nothing but good things.

Shawn: Yet another great new show from NBC.  Like I said initially, when you’ve got Pullman and Elfman leading the cast and the minds of Modern Family, that should really tell you what you need to know, and seriously, NBC, stop telling us about stars on these shows that were in Broadway hits.  Do you honestly think anyone watching a network television comedy on a Thursday night cares that Josh Gad was a star in The Book of Mormon?  I’ll give you a head’s up on this: they don’t and in fact most of your key demographic doesn’t even know what the holy-crap The Book of Mormon is other than in the context of the teenagers in matching short-sleeved, white dress shirts, bad ties and bicycle helmets that come knocking on their door on a Saturday afternoon.  The only reason I know what it is because I follow South Park and I know that it’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s baby.

All I need to know about Josh Gad is that he is flippin’ brilliant comedically and that is exactly what I was treated to when watching the pilot.  He’s so funny that if not for how good the other performances were, I would have had ignored them completely.  Pullman is fantastic, Elfman is fantastic as are the rest of the supporting cast and the show does an excellent job of portraying what appears to be just your average, typical middle-class suburban family who are now in the White House.  Seriously, it’s like watching the worst aspects of your own family dysfunction play itself out at the most famous address in the world.

And yes, 1600 Penn is absolutely absurd, but it’s done so cleverly and so heart-warmingly that you can’t help but to ignore the absurdity and appreciate it for what it is: just a great comedy.  Tim Goodman, resident hack at THR says that, “It’s obvious this is NBC’s answer to Modern Family,” but then again, that’s why I refer to Goodman as a hack. He just throws out whatever nonsense seems good on paper because he read the same show description we did.  The fact is, though, even with the creative talents of Modern Family behind 1600 Penn, it is NOTHING like it.

Again, it’s the absurdity factor that’s the big difference.  Modern Family works because of its mockumentary format in that the setup is that the Dunphys/Pritchetts are indeed a real family.  There’s none of that with 1600 Penn.  It’s pie-in-the-face, seltzer-down-the-trousers slapstick from the opening sequence.  There’s an immediate wink to the audience and we all get it… except for Tim Goodman.  Bravo, NBC.

Chance of Renewal:  80%

I seriously cannot fathom how anyone but the most tight-assed of newspaper TV critics wouldn’t like this show.  But then again, mid-season comedy replacements don’t have a good history.  I’m going with more likely to be renewed than not.

Watch the pilot of 1600 Penn, right now, ahead of the January 10th premiere, here.  Cable subscribers, you can also watch it OnDemand, as well.

Official Trailer For Upcoming Netflix Original Series, Political Thriller ‘House Of Cards’ (VIDEO)

We’ve been reporting to you for the better part of two years on the upcoming Netflix original series, House of Cards, based on the 1990 BBC miniseries of the same title and we finally have a trailer to show you and it certainly looks intense.  House of Cards, produced by David Fincher and starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, came to our intention last year as the first announced original programming for the streaming home video giant.  Netflix outbid several other cable networks, including HBO and AMC, in a deal worth a reported $100 million for 26 episodes of this new series.

All 13 episodes of season one will be available on Netflix streaming on Febraury 1, 2013.

More Details on BBC America’s New Crime Thriller, ‘Ripper Street’ MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD! (Character Guide, Episode Descriptions)

Via Press Release:

BBC AMERICA PREMIERES NEW CRIME THRILLER RIPPER STREET JANUARY 19 AT 9:00PM ET/PT

Dec 13, 2012 | BBC AMERICA

Can anyone bring order to the blood stained streets of London’s East End?

New York – December 13, 2012  In the aftermath of Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror, London’s Whitechapel sits on a precipice, and H Division – the precinct charged with keeping order – must work diligently to police the toughest district in the East End.  Welcome to Ripper Street, where fear lurks that each new murder could mark the return of The Ripper. As imitators emerge and feral gangs terrorize, Inspector Edmund Reid – one of the lead detectives on the Ripper case – and his teamare further drawn into the criminal underbelly of Victorian London. And their vigilance must be swift to stop those that threaten the calm of the city. Starring Matthew Macfadyen (Anna KareninaPride and Prejudice), Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones), Adam Rothenberg (Alcatraz) and MyAnna Buring (Downton AbbeyThe Twilight Saga) and loosely based on real characters and events, the eight-part BBC AMERICA co-production created by Richard Warlow, premieres Saturday, January 19, 9:00pm ET.

“BBC AMERICA is excited to present this latest quality offering from the BBC,” say Perry Simon, General Manager, BBC AMERICA.  “Ripper Street is an edge of your seat thrill ride through Victorian London, with a stellar cast and compelling stories that will send chills down the spines of our viewers.”

A compelling, zesty crime drama with an international cast, Ripper Street’s rich storylines meld with the intrigue of a criminal underworld. Through modern marvels of the time, including early forensic methods, moving pictures, the early typewriter and more, the H Division squares off against copycat killers, a mass murderer who unleashes biological toxins, gamblers and counterfeiters. But with a neighborhood stuck at a volatile peak, can anyone bring order to these blood stained streets?

Leading the battle is Inspector Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen), one of the lead investigators in the hunt to capture The Ripper.  A detective in the truest sense of the word, Reid’s calm and instinctive understanding is what the East End streets need to keep order in turbulent times. Haunted by his failure to capture London’s most evil killer, and by demons fiercely protected by him and his long suffering wife, Emily (Amanda Hale), Reid is driven by his belief that, through innovation and technology, the day will come where ignorance will never again stand in his way of apprehending a mass murderer.

Aiding Reid is his right-hand-man, Sergeant Bennet Drake (Jerome Flynn), a brute force of a man whose suit is the only thing that distinguishes him from the thugs he polices.  He’s loyal and protective of Reid, who believes in him and uses Drake’s ferocity to his advantage.  Scarred by war and longing for the simple life, Drake knows all too well the kind of ugliness men, including him, are capable of.

Rounding out the trio is Captain Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg), a free-spirited American expatriate enlisted by Reid for his forensic brilliance.  Reid is a staunch believer in technological innovation as a crime fighting tool and Jackson provides the science to back his beliefs.  But his vices are many and his secrets run deep. Jackson’s ties to an upmarket brothel-keeper, Long Susan (MyAnna Buring), creates an air of suspicion as to why they both decided to leave America for the lawless East End streets.

The series is created and written by Richard Warlow, showrunner and writer of the BBC One drama,Mistresses.  Richard began as a Development Executive at Pathe and DNA Films before embarking on a career as a screenwriter in 2003.

Ripper Street is the latest co-production to join BBC AMERICA’s stable of compelling programming including the award-winning Dramaville series The HourLuther and the upcoming mini-series, Spies of Warsaw.

CAST AND PRODUCTION CREDITS

Inspector Edmund Reid                      Matthew Macfadyen (Anna Karenina, Pride and Prejudice)

Sergeant Bennet Drake                      Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones)

Captain Homer Jackson                     Adam Rothenberg (Alcatraz)

Long Susan Hart                                  MyAnna Buring (Downton Abbey, The Twilight Saga)

Emily Reid                                             Amanda Hale (The Crimson Petal and the White)

Rose Erskine                                        Charlene McKenna (Misfits)

Deborah Goren                                     Lucy Cohu (Upstairs Downstairs)

Constable Dick Hobbs                       Jonathan Barnwell

Sergeant Donald Atherton                  David Wilmot (Anna Karenina)

Fred Best                                               David Dawson (Luther)

Chief Inspector
Frederick Abberline                             Clive Russell (Game of Thrones, Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows)

Created by                                             Richard Warlow (Mistresses)

Directed by                                            Tom Shankland (The Fades)

Executive producers                           Greg Brenman
 Will Gould 
 Polly Hill
   Simon Vaughan

Ripper Street is produced for the BBC by Tiger Aspect Productions, Lookout Point and BBC AMERICA.

EPISODE SYNOPSES

SEASON PREMIERE

EPISODE 1 – I NEED LIGHT

A young woman is found brutally murdered, the hallmark signs of the Ripper upon her. One time H Division boss, Chief Inspector Frederick Abberline believes it Jack’s return, but Reid – the precinct’s new man in charge – suspects a different evil at work. When Jackson learns that Long Susan’s girls have been drawn into the murky world of Victorian pornography, the team must use all of their brawn, brains and brilliance to track down the fiend responsible before another girl is killed. Written by Richard Warlow.  Episode 1 premieres Saturday, January 19, 9:00pm ET.

EPISODE 2 – IN MY PROTECTION

A beloved toy maker is beaten to death for a mysterious brass box and the coins in his pocket. The Whitechapel Vigilance Committee presents a 14 year-old culprit who refuses to deny the charge, leading Reid and Drake into the savage world of merciless child gangs. Jackson’s drinking and gambling have led to the loss of the pendant that ties him to his American past – a past that he and Long Susan fear will now be exposed. Written by Richard Warlow.  Episode 2 premieres Saturday, January 26, 9:00pm ET.

EPISODE 3 – THE KING CAME CALLING

H Division and the Independent City of London force are thrown together when the panic surrounding a sudden cholera outbreak leads them to scour both boroughs to find some underlying pattern amidst the rising tide of sickness and death. As Jackson’s lab fills with bodies – and with no clear correlation between the victims to be found – the team work against the clock. Meanwhile Emily Reid seeks patronage for her charity efforts, unaware of the resistance she will meet. Written by Declan Croghan and Richard Warlow. Episode 3 premieres Saturday, February 2, 9:00pm ET.

EPISODE 4 – THE GOOD OF THIS CITY

The brutal clearing of a local slum for the underground railway reveals an indecipherable murder scene and an unreliable slum girl witness. Lucy Eames, beautiful and disturbed, is the unlikely key to a byzantine web of conspiracy. As Reid closes in on the killer, it becomes clear that the condemned slum is home to dark secrets that someone is desperate to protect. Written by Julie Rutterford and Richard Warlow. Episode 4 premieres Saturday, February 9, 9:00pm ET.

EPISODE 5 – THE WEIGHT OF ONE MAN’S HEART

A string of brilliantly masterminded robberies draw the attention of Reid and his team. While Jackson works to trace the thieves’ hardware, Drake is confronted with a spectre from his past in the form of his onetime Colonel – returned to London to seek redress for the unjust treatment of the Empire’s soldiers.As Reid closes in on the brash robbers and their ultimate target, Drake finds his loyalties put to the ultimate test. Written by Toby Finlay. Episode 5 premieres Saturday, February 16, 9:00pm ET.

EPISODE 6 – TOURNAMENT OF SHADOWS

As the dock strike of August 1889 takes hold of the city, the killing of a Jewish anarchist leads Reid and the team into the merciless chicanery of the British government’s fight against distant empires and global terrorism. Written by Toby Finlay. Episode 6 premieres Saturday, February 23, 9:00pm ET.

EPISODE 7 – A MAN OF MY COMPANY

An international shipping magnate arrives in town with his Pinkerton retinue to complete the acquisition of an ailing London shipping line. Meanwhile, the murdered body of an engine inventor draws Reid’s attention just as Jackson and Long Susan’s past comes back to haunt them. Written by Richard Warlow. Episode 7 premieres Saturday, March 2, 9:00pm ET.

EPISODE 8 – WHAT USE OUR WORK

Reid is adrift.  His team is in pieces and Leman Street is shaken to its foundations following recent events. A kidnapping offers him cause to assemble his men and tackle the white slavery ring operating in their midst. But Reid is gripped by a growing obsession that leads back to a terrible secret from his own past. Written by Richard Warlow. Episode 8 premieres Saturday, March 9, 9:00pm ET.

CHARACTER GUIDE

INSPECTOR EDMUND REID (Matthew Macfadyen)

The boss of H Division, Inspector Edmund Reid was one of the lead detectives on the Jack the Ripper investigation (working side by side with the more historically celebrated Frederick Abberline). When the hunt for the killer was given up in early 1889, Reid stayed exactly where he had been for the last two years, policing the streets that would always remind him of his failure.

Reid is calm, meticulous and embracing of any innovation that will help him get his man. A brilliant investigator with an understanding of humanity, Reid has an analytical mind and years of hard won experience. As a committed technophile, Reid is led by his belief that the day will come when science and technology will aid him in apprehending the next Ripper.

Having experienced tragedy – the full details of which are known only to him – Reid carries a serious injury to his left shoulder. Only a very few know how he came by the wounds and none talk about it.

SERGEANT BENNETDRAKE (Jerome Flynn)

Reid’s right-hand, Sergeant Bennet Drake, is a hard man with some harder demons. Ex-army, his fists often deliver the blow needed to get a suspect talking.  But outside of his suit, Drake doesn’t have a lot to distinguish him from the thugs he polices. He is fiercely loyal to Reid, for it was the Inspector who saw the potential in him – beyond a supreme ability to crack heads.

What Reid saw is integrity and an affiliation to the streets. Drake – unlike many officers – does not see himself as morally superior to the populace he polices. He has known the horrors of war and knows of what monstrosities men are capable of. Above all else, Drake wishes to find a way to escape his thug status and the dehumanising memories he carries with him.

CAPTAIN HOMER JACKSON (Adam Rothenberg)

An American, a one-time Pinkerton detective and a U.S. army surgeon, Captain Homer Jackson is an expert in the world of early forensics. Enlisted by Reid for his unique skills on the autopsy slab, he is a free spirit – untrustworthy and brilliant by equal measure.  But his thirst for vice including women, booze and gambling leaves him hated by Drake and distrusted by the rest of the police fraternity.

Jackson has his secrets too. On the run from an ‘incident’ in America, he and brothel-keeper, Long Susan, have sought out the East End precisely for its chaos and lawlessness. Reid’s attachment to Jackson – and the friendship the two like minds inevitably foster – will eventually compromise this need for secrecy.

LONG SUSAN (MyAnna Buring)

Like Jackson, Long Susan Hart is also hiding out in the neighborhood, on the run from the same incident in America. Her past is a mystery, but her well-honed skills in business and self-promotion have given her one of the most salubrious brothels in the district. Brazen and quick to anger, Susan is also well educated and knows exactly how to manipulate the desires of men.

Though it irks Susan, Jackson comes and goes as he pleases through the brothel in which he keeps his shambolic rooms. The frequency and ferocity of their arguments often leads Susan’s girls to wonder just why they tolerate each other. But their passionate exchanges hide a shared affection that their exile hasn’t completely extinguished.

EMILY REID (Amanda Hale)

Inspector Edmund Reid’s wife, Emily, was once the happy spouse of a well-respected and ambitious young policeman, and a devoted mother to their beloved daughter. But her life has changed dramatically. While she and her husband still love each other, their life together has been irretrievably altered by shared tragedy – and their different means of coping with this loss.

Where Emily seeks solace in church, Reid chooses only denial. Before this pain separated them, however, they were ideally suited. Emily’s intelligence and curiosity challenged and complimented Reid. Now, with an emotional gulf between them, Emily finds herself searching for new ways to channel her energies.

BBC AMERICA delivers U.S. audiences high-quality, innovative and intelligent programming. Established in 1998, it has been the launch pad for talent embraced by American mainstream pop culture, including Ricky Gervais, Gordon Ramsay, Graham Norton, and successful programming formats including ground-breaking non-scripted television like Top Gear and top-rated science-fiction like Doctor Who. Owned by BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, BBC AMERICA has attracted both critical acclaim and major awards including an Emmy®, five Golden Globes® and ten Peabody Awards. The channel attracts one of cable’s most affluent and educated audiences and is available on cable and satellite TV in more than 80.3 million homes. It broadcasts in both standard and high-definition, with content available On Demand across all major digital platforms. Online, www.bbcamerica.com is the place to go to dig deeper into pop culture with a British twist. Find out more by visiting www.press.bbcamerica.com or follow us on www.twitter.com/bbcamerica.

BBC America Announces Premiere Dates For New Series Coming This Winter

Via Press Release:

BBC AMERICA ANNOUNCES PREMIERE DATES FOR NEW SERIES COMING THIS WINTER

Nov 16, 2012 | BBC AMERICA

Ripper Street, Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan and Spies of Warsaw

New York – Friday, November 16, 2012 –BBC AMERICA announces the premiere dates for three brand new series coming to the network this winter. BBC AMERICA co-production Ripper Street premieres Saturday, January 19, 9:00pm ET, original travel-adventure series Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan premieres Tuesday, January 22, 10:00pm ET and mini-series Spies of Warsaw premieres over two nights beginning Wednesday, February 6 and concluding Wednesday, February 13 as part ofBBC AMERICA’s Dramaville. 

Ripper Street

In the aftermath of the Jack the Ripper murders, can anyone keep order in the blood stained London Streets? The eight-part BBC AMERICA co-production created by Richard Warlow, set in and around Victorian London, stars Matthew Macfadyen (Anna KareninaMI-5, Pride and Prejudice), Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones), Adam Rothenberg (Alcatraz), Myanna Buring (The Twilight SagaWhite Heat) and David Dawson (Luther, Secret Diary of a Call Girl). Haunted by the failure to catch London’s most evil killer, Inspector Edmund Reid (Macfadyen) now heads up the notorious H Division, the toughest district in London’s East End. Charged with keeping order in the chaotic streets of Whitechapel, Inspector Reid is soon drawn deep into the seedy criminal underworld of Victorian London – where fear always lurks that each new murder could mark the return of The Ripper.  Ripper Street premieres Saturday, January 19, 9:00pm ET.

Ripper Street is produced for the BBC by Tiger Aspect Productions, Lookout Point and BBC AMERICA. The project is executive produced by Greg Brenman and Will Gould at Tiger Aspect and by Simon Vaughan at Lookout Point.

Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan

Wild Things with Dominic Monaghanis an exhilarating travel-adventure series that follows actor and wildlife enthusiast, Dominic Monaghan (Lost, Lord of the Rings), as he explores the remote corners of the globe in search of some the most badass animals in the world. In each episode of the eight part series, Dominic takes the viewer along on an intimate journey as he backpacks through the rainforests of Ecuador, the caves of Venezuela, the arid deserts of Namibia and many more exotic locales – to get up close and personal with some of the most dangerous and elusive creatures known to man. Along the way, he’ll encounter vibrant locals, quirky experts and a host of creatures that inhabit the strange and wonderfully wild places on our planet. Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan premieres Tuesday, January 22, 10:00pm ET.

Wild Things with Dominic Monaghanis a BBC AMERICA original production and is produced by Cream Productions and Wildfire Television in association with OLN and Channel Five. Executive Producers are Dave Brady and co-executive producers include Jenn Kuzmyk Ruch for Cream Productions and Philip Clarke and Simon Raikes for Wildfire Television. Paul Kilback serves as the series producer.

Spies of Warsaw

David Tennant (Single FatherDoctor WhoHamlet) and Janet Montgomery (Made in JerseyBlack Swan,Entourage) star in the new Dramaville miniseries, Spies of Warsaw, based on the New York Times bestselling author Alan Furst’s acclaimed spy novel.Adapted byrenowned Emmy®-winning writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, the miniseries follows Colonel Jean-Francois Mercier (Tennant), a decorated war hero of the 1914 war, in the years leading up to the Second World War as he’s drawn into a world of abduction, betrayal and intrigue in the diplomatic salons and back alleys of Warsaw. At the same time, the handsome aristocrat finds himself in a passionate love affair with Anna (Montgomery), a Parisian lawyer for the League of Nations. Their complicated love affair intensifies as German tanks drive through the Black Forest. Spies of Warsaw, set in Poland, Paris, London and Berlin, combines historical, intelligent narratives, interlaced with flawed, romantic and compelling characters.  Spies of Warsaw will premiere over two nights – Wednesday, February 6 and Wednesday, February 13 as part of BBC AMERICA’s Dramaville

Spies of Warsaw is a Fresh Pictures production, executive produced by Richard Fell for Fresh Pictures and Jamie Laurenson for the BBC, co-produced by BBC AMERICA, Apple Film for TV Poland in association with ARTE FRANCE and BBC Worldwide.

BBC AMERICA delivers U.S. audiences high-quality, innovative and intelligent programming. Established in 1998, it has been the launch pad for talent embraced by American mainstream pop culture, including Ricky Gervais, Gordon Ramsay, Graham Norton, and successful programming formats including ground-breaking non-scripted television like Top Gear and top-rated science-fiction like Doctor Who. Owned by BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, BBC AMERICA has attracted both critical acclaim and major awards including an Emmy®, five Golden Globes® and ten Peabody Awards. The channel attracts one of cable’s most affluent and educated audiences and is available on digital cable and satellite TV in more than 79.5 million homes. It broadcasts in both standard and high-definition, with content available On Demand across all major digital platforms. Online, www.bbcamerica.com is the place to go to dig deeper into pop culture with a British twist. Find out more by visiting www.press.bbcamerica.com or follow us on www.twitter.com/bbcamerica.

Game Of Thrones Season Three Premiere Date Announced by HBO

Season three of Game of Thrones will premiere on March 31, 2013.  If you watch other HBO series such as Boardwalk Empire or you have the Internets (thank you, Al Gore) then you probably already know this because although the premium cable network didn’t bother to issue a press release, they’ve been running this teaser trailer for about two months.  And, again, yes we know… we’re late.

Starz: ‘Boss’ Canceled, But May Not Be Completely Dead

Starz has decided not to renew its low-rated, albeit critically acclaimed political series, Boss, starring Kelsey Grammar as the terminally-ill, corrupt and ruthless mayor of modern-day Chicago, Tom Kane.  That being said, the word is that there are discussions currently taking place to wrap up the series with a two-hour (presumably television and NOT big-screen) movie.

From Starz:

“After much deliberation, we have made the difficult decision to not proceed with (a third season of) Boss. We remain proud of this award-winning show, its exceptional cast and writers, and are grateful to Kelsey Grammer, Farhad Safinia and our partners at Lionsgate TV.”

Mike Rowe: Discovery Channel Cancels ‘Dirty Jobs’

After eight seasons, Mike Rowe has confirmed that there will not be a ninth season of the fan-favorite, Dirty Jobs.

From his piece at The Huffington Post:

“It never fails. Whenever Dirty Jobs goes off the air for a few months, people start to wonder if the show has been canceled. Rumors begin to swirl, and questions about the show’s future fill my inbox. Over the years it’s been my pleasure to assure anxious fans that Dirty Jobs is coming back for another season. And indeed, we always have. Alas, this year, I’m afraid I cannot dispel the rumors. A few weeks ago, I was officially informed that Dirty Jobs had entered into a new phase. One I like to call, “permanent hiatus.” Or in the more popular industry vernacular, canceled.”

SyFy Announces Winter/Spring 2013 Schedule

Yes, folks. ‘Real Steel’ is a reality.

Via Press Release:

December 04, 2012
SYFY’S 2013 WINTER PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHTED BY SERIES PREMIERES OF GHOST MINE, ROBOT COMBAT LEAGUE, STRANDED AND CONTINUUM

SEASON RETURNS OF HITS BEING HUMAN, FACE OFF, TOTAL BLACKOUT, GHOST HUNTERS, LOST GIRL, HAUNTED COLLECTOR AND FINAL SEASON OF MERLIN

NBC Universal LogosNEW YORK – December 4, 2012 – Syfy will kick off the New Year with a robust winter programming slate of hit series and new programs led by the series premieres of unscripted shows Ghost Mine (January 16), Robot Combat League (February 26) and Stranded (February 27), and the time-traveling police drama Continuum (January 14).

The popular series Merlin (January 4), Being Human (January 14), Lost Girl (January 14), Face Off (January 15), Total Blackout (January 15), Ghost Hunters (January 16) and Haunted Collector (March 6) will all return for new seasons.

Highlights of Syfy’s 2013 Winter Programming Schedule (All Times ET/PT)

JANUARY

MERLIN (SEASON 5 PREMIERE)

Returns Friday, January 4 at 10PM — With Queen Guinevere and the Knights of the Round Table at his side, Arthur has never felt stronger. But even as Camelot flowers, the seeds of its destruction are being sown. Merlin returns for its fifth season and final season of 13 all-new episodes with its core cast of Colin Morgan, Bradley James, Katie McGrath, Angel Coulby, Richard Wilson and John Hurt, along with newest cast member Alexander Vlahos as Mordred. Special guest stars in season five include Lindsay Duncan (Alice in Wonderland), Janet Montgomery (Entourage), Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones), Josette Simon (Cry Freedom), Sophie Rundle (Episodes) and the return of Anthony Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as Uther Pendragon. Merlin is produced by Shine TV Ltd and BBC Wales, and distributed by FremantleMedia Enterprises. Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy are co-creators and executive producers.

CONTINUUM (NEW ORIGINAL SERIES)

Premieres Monday, January 14 at 8PM — The time-traveling police drama Continuum stars Rachel Nichols (Star Trek, Criminal Minds) as Kiera Cameron, a cop from the future who finds herself trapped in the present day. When a group of fanatical terrorists escapes their planned execution in 2077 by vaulting back in time to 2012, they inadvertently sweep along Kiera, a dedicated City Protective Services officer. With unexpected assistance from teen tech genius Alec Sadler, played by Erik Knudsen (Jericho, Scream 4), Kiera infiltrates the local police department and forms an uneasy alliance with her new partner, detective Carlos Fonnegra, portrayed by Victor Webster (Castle, Melrose Place). Though desperate to get back to her husband and son, Kiera concentrates on bringing down the terrorists before they change the course of history. Executive producers of Continuum are Simon Barry (The Art of War), Jeff King (Stargate SG-1, White Collar), Tom Rowe (Tin Man), Pat Williams (Smallville) and Reunion Pictures. Writer: Simon Barry. Director: Jon Cassar (24, Terra Nova).

BEING HUMAN (SEASON 3 PREMIERE)

Returns Monday, January 14 at 9PM – Syfy’s original series Being Human stars Sam Witwer as Aidan, Meaghan Rath as Sally and Sam Huntington as Josh with Kristen Hager as Nora, joining this year as a series regular. The season will consist of 13 episodes. In the Season 2 cliffhanger Aidan found himself six feet under after being banished and buried as punishment from vampire leader Mother. Sally became lost in a state of limbo and for Josh, events went horribly wrong when his plot to break the werewolf curse by killing his Maker Ray backfired, endangering Nora. Now, as the new season begins… be careful what you wish for! Season 3 also features a stellar lineup of new and returning guest stars including: Mark Pellegrino (Lost) as Aidan’s vampire mentor Bishop; Amy Aquino (Big Love, Harry’s Law, ER) as Donna, a witch whose supernatural spells are sought to help Sally; Xander Berkeley (24, Nikita) as Liam, the father of purebred werewolf twins who is intent on locating his missing children; Bobby Campo (Final Destination) as Max, a young mortician who develops a connection with Sally; and Kyle Schmid (Copper) returning as Aidan’s vampire protégé/”son” Henry. Season 2 of Being Human delighted both fans and new viewers, seeing its audience increase 10% over its first season. The second season averaged 2.115 million viewers per week. Being Human is a Muse Entertainment production in association with ZODIAK USA and is based on the acclaimed series created by Toby Whithouse and produced by Touchpaper. Executive producers are Michael Prupas (The Kennedys, Pillars of the Earth), Anna Fricke (Men in Trees, Everwood) who is both writer and showrunner, Jeremy Carver (Supernatural), and Rob Pursey and Toby Whithouse. Irene Litinsky (Human Trafficking, The Phantom) is series producer.

LOST GIRL (SEASON 3 PREMIERE)

Returns Monday, January 14 at 10PM — The victory in the final battle of Season Two has created new alliances for Bo along with reinvigorating old enemies, like “The Morrigan,” played by Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men, Human Target), whom Bo crossed in an attempt to bring peace to the Faedom. Now Bo, who until now has refused to pick a side, will be forced to make a deadly decision. Among the guest stars will be Linda Hamilton (“Terminator”). Joining the Lost Girl cast this season is Rachel Skarsten (The Vow; Flashpoint) in a recurring role as “Tamsin,” a thrill-seeking, sexy new Fae who ruffles many feathers. Returning for season three are Kris Holden-Ried (The Tudors, Underworld 4) as “Dyson”; Ksenia Solo (Life Unexpected; Black Swan) as “Kenzi”; Zoie Palmer (The Guard, Instant Star) as “Lauren”; Rick Howland (Billable Hours, Murdoch Mysteries) as “Trick” and K.C. Collins (Owning Mahowny, Doomstown) as “Hale.” Lost Girl is a Prodigy Pictures Production in association with Shaw Media. Executive producers are Emily Andras, Plato Fountidakis, Paul Rapovski and Jay Firestone. Co-producer: Vanessa Piazza

FACE OFF (SEASON 4 PREMIERE)

Returns Tuesday, January 15 at 9PM — Hit competition series Face Off returns for its fourth season with a special 90-minute premiere episode. The new season features guest appearances from notables including Bryan Singer and Lightstorm’s Jon Landau. Dwight D. Smith, Michael Agbabian and Derek Atherton of Mission Control Media will return as executive producers. Face Off is a competition/elimination series exploring the world of special-effects make-up artists and the unlimited imagination that allows them to create amazing works of living art. McKenzie Westmore hosts. Judging the Face Off competition are some of the most renowned names in the SFX world — three-time Academy Award winner Ve Neill, famed special make-up effects artist Glenn Hetrick and feature film creature designer Neville Page. In a surprising new twist, the contestants will have a mentor. Joining the series this season will be world-renowned Hollywood makeup artist Michael Westmore. Westmore is a member of a makeup dynasty that dates back to Hollywood’s golden age. Westmore has earned a record 42 Emmy nominations and nine wins. The Motion Picture Academy has honored him with four nominations and the Oscar in 1986 for his artistry on the film Mask starring Cher and Eric Stoltz. In addition, Westmore supervised 18 years of Star Trek. He is also the proud father of Face Off host McKenzie Westmore.

TOTAL BLACKOUT (ALL NEW EPISODES)

Returns Tuesday, January 15 at 10:30PM (SPECIAL TIME) — Hosted by Jaleel White (Family Matters), Total Blackout resumes its second season at the special time of 10:30PM after the 90-minute, season four premiere of Face Off. The following Tuesday, January 22, Total Blackout returns to its regular 10PM time slot. In the premiere episode of the half-hour extreme game show. four teams must overcome their imaginations as they attempt to identify four skin-crawling items placed in tanks, using only their sense of touch. Those who survive must move on to the Walk of Terror, where items below their feet aren’t always what they seem. The final two remaining teams are then tasked with collecting mouse traps hidden amongst unknown objects set inside creepy coffins in order to win the $5,000 prize. The international hit series is produced by FremantleMedia North America (American Idol, The X Factor) and was created by Henrik Nielsen (Can You Duet?, Danish versions of The X Factor, Got Talent and Pop Idol). Nielsen and Scott St. John (Deal or No Deal, America’s Got Talent, The Choice) are executive producers and Noah Bonnett (101 Ways to Leave a Game Show, BrainSurge) is co-executive producer.

GHOST HUNTERS (SEASON 9 PREMIERE)

Returns Wednesday, January 16 at 9PM — Ghost Hunters, Syfy’s longest-running unscripted series, returns for a ninth season. To kick off the 16 all-new episodes, TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) – led by Jason Hawes – heads out West to investigate some of the most (in)famously haunted locations in California and the Midwest. They’ll continue to travel around the country throughout the season, using their investigative expertise to bring aid and comfort to clients at both public institutions and private homes alike. Ghost Hunters is produced for Syfy by Craig Piligian’s Pilgrim Studios (Dirty Jobs, The Ultimate Fighter, Top Shot). Piligian and Thomas Thayer, along with Mike Nichols and Alan David, serve as executive producers.

GHOST MINE (NEW ORIGINAL SERIES)

Premieres Wednesday, January 16 at 10PM — Forgotten in the remote woods of Oregon is one of the richest gold mines in the United States that was abandoned 80 years ago when a series of tragedies gave it an infamous reputation for being haunted. Now, a new owner has decided to take on the notorious legend and reopen the mine, assembling a rag-tag group of miners – both seasoned and new – to battle the elements in hopes of finding their fortune and teaming them with a pair of experienced paranormal investigators. In each of the six hour-long episodes, this strong-willed and historically superstitious group of miners will face the day-to-day challenges of mining, aided by the paranormal investigators who unravel the mysteries surrounding the mine, including historic Masonic connections and a spirit who has been known to haunt the area for generations. Ghost Mine is produced by 51 Minds with Mark Cronin (Celebrity Paranormal Project, Flavor of Love, Rock of Love with Bret Michaels), Dave Caplan and Jay Bluemke (Ghost Hunters, Ghost Hunters Academy) serving as Executive Producers.

TASMANIAN DEVIL (NEW ORIGINAL MOVIE)

Premieres Saturday, January 19 at 9PM – In Tasmanian Devil, starring Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years) and Olympian medalist Apolo Ohno, a group of daredevil base jumpers in New Zealand confront oversized Tasmanian devils determined to kill them.

ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN (NEW ORIGINAL MOVIE)

Premieres Saturday, January 26 at 9PM – In Abominable Snowman, friends go on a snowy adventure and come face to face with a deadly creature. The movie stars Adrian Paul (Highlander) and Chuck Campbell (Stargate: Atlantis).

FEBRUARY

ROBOT COMBAT LEAGUE (NEW ORIGINAL SERIES)

Premieres Tuesday, February 26 at 10PM – Now, through ground-breaking engineering, the fusion of a human’s fighting spirit with a powerful machine built for destruction has become reality in Robot Combat League. This gripping new high-octane unscripted series puts a 21st century spin on gladiatorial combat with tournament-style battle between eight-feet tall, state-of-the-art humanoid robots whose movements are controlled by exo-suit clad human “robo-jockeys.” Twelve teams of two contestants – a fighter (the “robo-jockey”) and a robotics engineer (the “robo-tech”) – are paired with unique robots that clash in the ring for three rounds of intense action, with the winning team advancing in the tournament. Robot Combat League is hosted by Chris Jericho, the famed WWE wrestler and multifaceted performer. Mark Setrakian (Hellboy, Men in Black, The Grinch) created and designed the robots. Robot Combat League is produced by Smart Dog Media, with Craig Plestis serving as executive producer.

STRANDED (NEW ORIGINAL SERIES)

Premieres Wednesday, February 27 at 10PM — Ping Pong Productions (Destination Truth, Finding Bigfoot) joins forces with Josh Gates (star of Syfy’s travel-adventure series Destination Truth) and Jason Blum’s Blumhouse (Paranormal Activity, The River) to create Stranded, an all-new six-episode reality series that documents an unconventional – and terrifying – paranormal and psychological experiment. Each hour-long episode features the self-recorded footage of a diverse group of every-day paranormal enthusiasts – from newlyweds and a brother-in-law to a trio of roommates. Each team of three will be stranded at one of the most haunted locations in America and record the entire experience with hand-held cameras. The footage from the subjects’ cameras will be supplemented by strategically-placed security cameras at each location, creating a suspenseful, completely unscripted first-hand account of each group’s stay. Over the course of the confinement, the subjects contend with increasingly pervasive feelings of fear and desolation, resulting in an experiment that represents a unique combination of psychology and the paranormal. Stranded is executive produced by Brad Kuhlman, Casey Brumels and Josh Gates (who also serves as showrunner) for Ping Pong Productions and Jason Blum for Blumhouse (the production company behind the Paranormal Activity feature film franchise and movies like Insidious and Sinister). Gerard Bocaccio who heads up Blumhouse TV will be a consultant on the project.

MARCH

HAUNTED COLLECTOR (SEASON 3 PREMIERE)

Returns Wednesday, March 6 at 9PM — Haunted Collector, which demonstrated significant viewership gains during its second season by jumping 18 percent in Adults 18-49, returns with 12 all-new episodes in season three. Eminent paranormal collector John Zaffis and his team of investigators respond to SOS calls from around the country by individuals and businesses who’ve been terrorized by items that have been taken over by paranormal spirits and/or energy. Through careful research, Zaffis works with the owner to find the best solution to the ghostly problem, such as returning the item to its owner, burying the object in its place of origin or storing it in his paranormal museum in Stratford, Connecticut. Haunted Collector is produced by Gurney Productions. Executive producers are Scott Gurney and Deirdre Gurney.

Syfy is a media destination for imagination-based entertainment. With year round acclaimed original series, events, blockbuster movies, classic science fiction and fantasy programming, a dynamic Web site (www.Syfy.com), and a portfolio of adjacent business (Syfy Ventures), Syfy is a passport to limitless possibilities. Originally launched in 1992 as SCI FI Channel, and currently in more than 98 million homes, Syfy is a network of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies. (Syfy. Imagine greater.)

 

Merlin Canceled By BBC, Fifth And Final Season To Air On SyFy, Premiere Date Announced

Via Press Release:

December 14, 2012
MERLIN RETURNS FOR FIFTH AND FINAL SEASON ON SYFY WITH 13 ALL-NEW EPISODES BEGINNING FRIDAY, JANUARY 4 AT 10PM

SYFY VENTURES LAUNCHES MERLIN: THE GAME

NBC Universal LogosNEW YORK – December 14, 2012 – Syfy will say good-bye to Camelot when the fifth and final season of Merlin returns Friday, January 4 at 10PM (ET/PT) with 13 all-new episodes.

As season five opens, Camelot is at the height of its golden age. With Queen Guinevere and the Knights of the Round Table at his side, Arthur has never felt stronger. But even as Camelot flowers, the seeds of its destruction are being sown. As the forces of darkness gather, only Merlin stands between Arthur and a fate that has been written since the dawn of time.

Merlin returns with its core cast of Colin Morgan (Merlin), Bradley James (Arthur), Katie McGrath (Morgana), Angel Coulby (Gwen), Richard Wilson (Gaius) and John Hurt (Voice of the Dragon), along with newest cast member Alexander Vlahos as Mordred.

Special guest stars in season five include Lindsay Duncan (Alice in Wonderland), Janet Montgomery (Entourage), Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones), Josette Simon (Cry Freedom), Sophie Rundle (Episodes) and the return of Anthony Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as Uther Pendragon.

Merlin is produced by Shine TV Ltd and BBC Wales, and distributed by FremantleMedia Enterprises. Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy are co-creators and executive producers.

Syfy Ventures, in partnership with Bossa Studios, also announced the U.S. launch of the official Merlin game under the Syfy Games label. Merlin: The Game — syfy.merlingame.com — is an exciting role-playing game that enables viewers to aid Merlin and Arthur in completing quests, defending the realm and exploring the exciting world of Albion. Gamers can become engrossed in the Arthurian legend as Merlin commands them and six of their best friends to embark on a magical adventure to become the Heroes of Camelot.

Merlin: The Game is the latest addition to the Syfy Games portfolio of games targeting genre fans and core gamers.

Syfy is a media destination for imagination-based entertainment. With year round acclaimed original series, events, blockbuster movies, classic science fiction and fantasy programming, a dynamic Web site (www.Syfy.com), and a portfolio of adjacent business (Syfy Ventures), Syfy is a passport to limitless possibilities. Originally launched in 1992 as SCI FI Channel, and currently in more than 98 million homes, Syfy is a network of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies. (Syfy. Imagine greater.)

SHOCK! (Not Really) ‘Downton Abbey’ Renewed By ITV For Fourth Season

EDITOR’S NOTE: By the time this piece has been published, the first episode of the new season will already have aired in the U.K.  Since we in the U.S. are convinced that the rest of the universe revolves around us, this is irrelevant.  That being said, U.S. audiences will see season three to air in January and PBS is looking for ways to bring the season four premiere closer to its U.K. counterpart.

Via Press Release:

ITV Commissions a fourth series of Downton Abbey

Published: Friday, 23 November 2012, 4:43PM

23/11/2012

Laura Mackie and Gareth Neame talk about the phenomenal success of the drama, the Christmas Day 2012 extended special episode and the new series commission.

Downton Abbey will return to ITV1 in 2013 for a fourth series of the Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning drama.

Filming of eight new episodes for autumn 2013 plus an extended special episode for Christmas 2013 begins at Highclere Castle and Ealing Studios in February next year.

The opening and closing episodes will again be feature length with series four continuing the story of the Crawley family and their servants in the early 1920s.

Gareth Neame, Managing Director of Carnival Films, the show’s makers and Executive Producer of Downton Abbey said well-loved characters both above and below stairs will return along with the arrival of some new faces.

“Viewers can look forward to more drama, comedy, love, hatred, jealousy, rivalry, ambition, despair and romance.”

Laura Mackie, Director of Drama at ITV, said: “We’re thrilled to welcome back a drama series that has become a much anticipated part of all our lives every autumn and achieved success around the globe.

“Creator, writer and executive producer Julian Fellowes and the production team, led by Gareth and the producer Liz Trubridge, never rest on their laurels and have exciting plans for the fourth series.”

But first fans of the hit drama should prepare for both laughter and tears in a two-hour special to be screened on ITV1 at 9pm this Christmas Day.

“We hope the Downton family of viewers will gather together to watch this major TV event as a shared Christmas night experience,” said Laura.

“Last year’s special episode set the nation talking on Boxing Day and 2012’s Christmas Day episode is no different. As ever, Downton will take its audience through a whole range of emotions.  All of life’s experiences will feature in this episode.

“This is one episode you will want to see live with millions of others – and best have the tissues ready.”

It sees Lord and Lady Grantham and family heading for a summer break in The Highlands of Scotland, leaving most of their servants back at home.

The annual visit to his Scottish cousins at Duneagle Castle, where the piper calls the tune for breakfast and dinner, is the highlight of Robert’s (Hugh Bonneville) year.

Duneagle is the home of young, headstrong Lady Rose (Lily James), who was sent home in the last episode of series three after her dalliance with a married man.

The castle is a grander step up from Downton, with deer stalking and fishing also on hand in the stunning surrounding Scottish countryside.

During the special episode Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) discovers that newspaper editor Michael Gregson (Charles Edwards) also happens to be on holiday in Scotland and may not be there just for the sketching and fishing.

While Matthew (Dan Stevens) and Mary (Michelle Dockery) disagree about Mr Gregson’s motives towards unlucky-in-love Edith.

Personal servants John Bates (Brendan Coyle), his wife Anna (Joanne Froggatt), Molesley (Kevin Doyle) and O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran) accompany the family on their trip north.

O’Brien discovers a kindred spirit below stairs in the form of her opposite number, Susan’s lady’s maid Wilkins (Simone Lahbib).

But who will be left reeling at the Gillies’ Ball?

The Scottish scenes were shot on location at Inveraray Castle, the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell.

Meanwhile back in Yorkshire, estate land agent Tom Branson (Allen Leech) has stayed behind at Downton with young daughter ‘Sybbie’.

In spite of the family’s attempts to integrate the former chauffeur into their world, he continues to live between the Crawleys and the servants below stairs. He’s still grieving for wife Sybil, the youngest daughter, who died after giving birth to their first child.

Butler Mr Carson (Jim Carter) faces the task of keeping the household servants concentrated on their work polishing the silverware and cleaning the rooms.

But with the family away, minds begin to wander to other things – including the forthcoming Thirsk Country Fair.

“While the cat’s away, the mice will play,” explained executive producer Gareth.

“The Grantham’s do not live at Downton Abbey 12 months of the year. They would go to London for the summer season and also go away on holidays like this.

“And when that happens the domestic staff of Downton would remain. What will they get up to while the family is away?”

In a not to be missed special episode, wise housekeeper Mrs Hughes (Phyllis Logan) tells Mr Bates: “Life is full of surprises.”

And that is certainly true at the great house this Christmas Day.

Could there be romance in store for cook Mrs Patmore (Lesley Nicol)?

New housemaid Edna (MyAnna Buring) joins The Restless servants around their big table as they look forward to the country fair.

Downton Abbey has become a worldwide phenomenon screened in over 200 countries.

The third series, just broadcast in the UK, premieres on Masterpiece on PBS in the USA on January 6.

“Downton has a whole life beyond the episodes themselves. It has leapt out of the television set and become part of both the national and global conversation,” explained Gareth.

“It is now part of culture and society and that’s a very different experience for all of us involved in making the show.”

Both Gareth and Laura praised the “genius” of astute observer and master storyteller Julian Fellowes, who writes all the episodes.

“Not only is he a superb craftsman, he also has an extraordinary work ethic. It is a mammoth undertaking to write all those episodes,” said Gareth.

“The main credit for the success of Downton is by far and away down to Julian. I’ve not had the fortune to work with anyone else who combines so many talents.”

It is no secret that Julian is a lifelong fan of the Rovers Return regulars.

“He has learned an awful lot as a viewer of Coronation Street and has an extraordinary sense of serial drama writing,” explained Gareth.

“Julian knows that you want a core group of characters who almost become an extension of your family. But you also need new blood coming in to shake things up a bit.”

Laura pointed to the seamless introduction of new characters in the last series, including scullery maid Ivy (Cara Theobold), as well as Alfred (Matt Milne) and Jimmy.

“That is one of the reasons why we always feel confident about the future of Downton Abbey,” she said.

With consolidated ratings averaging 11.9 million viewers for series three which equates to a 40% share of the available audience, Downton Abbey is undoubtedly the most popular drama in recent memory.  The final episode of the last series also achieved over 12 million viewers, which was a fitting climax to such a globally successful series.
“We’re always very pleased with the audience reaction to the series,” said Laura. “From the very first series Julian created an ensemble of memorable characters. Of course there are some you may like more than others but they’re all incredibly well drawn.
“He knows them all so well and is able to quickly integrate new characters into the drama so you feel as if they have always been there. That’s a real gift.

“Julian, Gareth and the production team manage to keep the absolute essence of what people liked in the first place and yet they almost treat every series as though it’s a new drama.

“So each series feels fresh and yet it always delivers those things you love. As we move through the different eras there’s always more to enjoy.”

Added Laura: “Julian has also always had that ability to write a balance of the big story and the tiny little details. So in series three, for example, we saw a jazz club for the first time as part of Rose’s story – and also cocktails being served at Downton.”

With the announcement of a fourth series, Laura said there is plenty for the Downton audience to look forward to.

Gareth agreed: “Everyone who works to bring Downton Abbey to the screen is incredibly proud of the show and want to cherish it.

“We’re in rude health and have a long way still to go – starting with a not to be missed and truly memorable Christmas Day episode.”

Downton Abbey screens on ITV1 on Christmas Day at 9pm.