Back to You
Kelsey pulled the plug on Hank because it wasn't funny. That's according to an interview he did in which he claims that after the Thanksgiving episode, he returned to work and the show was just not getting any laughs. "Honestly, it just wasn't very funny ... We finished and I was like, 'Oh boy, there wasn't a laugh in the house on this one.' And I called the president of Warner Brothers ... and I said, 'Listen, when can we put a bullet in this thing?'"
I wasn't really prepared to like The Middle. I had no expectations, really, because aside from knowing that it was Patricia Heaton's latest sitcom, there had been very little scuttlebutt about it. So, when I tuned in, I expected the typical Patty Heaton I had seen for years on Everybody Loves Raymond or the upscale version I'd watched on Back to You.
Well, what a surprise when I saw her on The Middle. This is a Patty I had never seen before, and I not only liked her character, I admire her performance.
If you heard Grammer speak about it during the panel for his new ABC comedy Hank, it's not hard to connect the dots. "I had an event they thought was stress related. You can make of that what you will. It was a rough year," said Grammer, whose FOX sitcom Back to You was cancelled after its first season.
His beef was that he pitched the show to Reilly when the exec was still at NBC, and he passed. Then Reilly got the position at FOX after they bought Back to You. So, basically, the show was airing on a network whose entertainment head already passed on it somewhere else. That, according to Grammer, caused conflict between the network and the writers of the show.
Those of you who watched the short-lived Back To You may recognize Gad as Ryan Church, the news director. A few episodes are on Hulu, American readers, with the first episode embedded after the jump for your Internet-laziness/convenience.
Now they're both working on new sitcom projects and hoping for the best. Scrubs' Neil Flynn has joined Patricia Heaton in The Middles, an ABC sitcom pilot about a middle-class family living in middle America struggling in these tough economic times. They have three kids, too, just like the set up in Everybody Loves Raymond. Meanwhile, Kelsey Grammer's also doing comedy for ABC. The network has ordered a Grammer pilot about a corporate big shot who tries to reconnect with his estranged family.
Magic and the macabre, a recipe for a perfect Pushing Daisies episode. This one also had the virtue of Fred Willard doing a terrific guest star turn as "The Great Herrmann." Considering how misused Fred has been on some other shows (Back to You last season, for instance), it was refreshing to see him really shine here. His heart-to-heart with Ned, making Ned feel uncomfortable emotions because of the memories of his father's abandonment, was a high point of the show.
Ned accepts an invitation to watch his half-brothers -- Maurice and Ralston, the family Ned didn't know he had -- at The Conjurer's Castle. Their act is called "Two for the Show," and they're actually illusionists. Later on, their sleight of hand expertise helps solve the case.
The series, titled The Middle, centers on a family in the Midwest, and Heaton will play the mom. I know, that's a really generic description. I might as well say Heaton will play a human being in a comedy that will feature humor and talking.
Ricki Lake was originally cast in the role when the show was first developed a couple of years ago, but things changed later when the network wanted Heaton in the lead role and held the show until a deal with Heaton was finalized. That means the show has been on hold since even before Heaton starred in the short-lived FOX comedy Back To You with Kelsey Grammer. A lot of people thought that show would come back for a second season since it got OK reviews and had two big names attached. But FOX canceled it and now Heaton has a new job.
Lots of complete series sets this week, including two you probably thought you'd never see, Quark and Ultraman. I have no nostalgic memories of Ultraman, but Quark was a show I enjoyed. It's also neat to see shows like The Shari Lewis Show or DVD.
I wonder why the Back To You set isn't a complete series set instead of just Season 1? Maybe it was already in production before the show was canceled.
- Back To You - Season 1
- CSI - Season 8
- Charlie and Lola - Vol. 1-8
- The Deputy - Best Of
- Life with Derek - Season 1
- Lil' Bush - Season 2
- Lovejoy - Christmas Specials
- Nash Bridges - Season 1
- The Partridge Family - Season 3
- Quark - Complete Series
- Rules of Engagement - Season 2
- The Sarah Silverman Program - Season 2, Vol. 1
- Scott Baio is 45... - Seasons 1 and 2
- The Shari Lewis Show - A Shari Lewis Christmas
- SpongeBob SquarePants - Who Bob What Pants
- Survivorman - Season 2
- That 70s Show - Complete Series
- Ultraman - Complete Series
- The Unit - Season 3
- The Universe - Complete Series
Grammer was most likely enjoying a little time off before he returns to television this fall. His Fox sitcom, Back to You, was recently canceled but he quickly rebounded and took a role on an ABC comedy called Roman's Empire. He'll have the title role, actually, as Roman, the wacky patriarch of a wealthy and eclectic family. This new comedy is a departure, of sorts, for Grammer. Rather than the Frasier and Back to You-style sitcoms with multiple cameras, his new project is a single-camera venture.
Now, less than two weeks later, Kelsey Grammer has been cast in a new ABC sitcom called Roman's Empire. This is big news for a big star and he's the emperor in the title. He's playing Roman.
Roman's Empire is not a three-camera, traditional sitcom, which has been Grammer's playground since Cheers. Frasier may have been one of the best three-camera sitcoms ever. As an actor, Kelsey's accustomed to having an audience watching him work. Empire is a single-camera comedy -- like The Office or My Name Is Earl or Samantha Who? -- and revolves around a nice guy named Leo (Nick Thune), who's dumped by his heiress-like girlfriend (Christine Woods), but remains connected to her crazy family, the Prettys. That's especially true of Roman Pretty, the family patriarch, an outspoken, outrageous character.
When Kelsey phoned, Les took the call, and he even told Grammer that he'd "think about it," that is, moving Back to You to CBS. However, when Kelsey followed up with a call to Nina Tassler, CBS Entertainment prez, she dismissed it. There really was no room on the CBS schedule for another sitcom; even Rules of Engagement (which CBS has a vested interest in bringing back) won't be broadcast till mid-season next year. There's no mention of Kelsey calling ABC or NBC; perhaps they didn't take his call?
Returning: The Moment of Truth, So You Think You Can Dance, The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, American Idol, America's Most Wanted, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, Bones, Cops, Don't Forget the Lyrics!, Hell's Kitchen, House, King of the Hill, Kitchen Nightmares, MADtv, The Moment of Truth, Prison Break, Talkshow with Spike Feresten, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, 'Til Death
Out: Back To You, Canterbury's Law, K-Ville, Nashville, New Amsterdam, Next Great American Band, Return of Jezebel James, Unhitched
New: Sit Down, Shut Up; The Cleveland Show; Dollhouse (Midseason); Fringe; Do Not Disturb (formerly The Inn); Secret Millionaire (Midseason)
Schedule and detailed descriptions of the new shows after the jump.
- TNT has NBA Playoffs all night.
- At 8, ABC has a new Wife Swap, followed by new episodes of Supernanny and Boston Legal.
- CBS has a new Price Is Right Million Dollar Spectacular at 8, then new episodes of Criminal Minds and CSI: NY.
- FOX has new episodes of 'Til Death, Back To You, and American Idol.
- NBC has a new, two hour Deal Or No Deal at 8, followed by a new Law and Order.
- The CW has a new America's Next Top Model at 8, then a new Farmer Wants A Wife.
- There's a new Secrets of the Dead on PBS at 8.
- Also at 8: TCM has Frank Sinatra movies, including The Tender Trap and Marriage on the Rocks.
- At 10, Bravo has a new Top Chef.
- At 11, TV Land has a new Big 4-0.
Check your local TV listings for more.
I think Back To You producer Steven Levitan is echoing the sentiments of many TV viewers when he says about the show's cancellation, "we were surprised, but not shocked...nothing surprises me with [FOX Broadcasting] anymore."
As we told you earlier, FOX decided to dump Back To You but keep 'Til Death. This surprised many fans of the show, as they thought that out of the two of them FOX would probably go with the Kelsey Grammer/Patricia Heaton/Fred Willard show instead of the Brad Garrett/Joely Fisher show. Funny how Garrett played Heaton's brother-in-law on Everybody Loves Raymond and now it's his show being renewed while she is kicked to the curb.
Ok, it is after midnight here in the Jet City, and as I sit down to bang this post out on my beloved Model M it would appear that my tasty glass of juice is half empty. Maybe I'm just not in the right frame of mind to spin this news in a positive direction that will lead to a 2009 full of Dollhouse win.
Tucked away in a report on various network goings on over at Hollywood Reporter is a little line that says "Dollhouse is expected to launch mid-season." This is me shaking my fist in the general direction of Fox and screaming "Khaaaaan!" Just, because. Doesn't this seem like a road that has been traveled before? It's one that usually leads to a pretty disappointing destination. We haven't seen the finished fall schedule yet, but I would wager that most of us could easily find three or four hours where the network would be better served by inserting Dollhouse. Highlights of what the networks have planned are available after the jump.
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