With the season coming to a close, the networks are starting to look toward next season. In the case of 'Criminal Minds,' that includes exploring the possibility of a spin-off series. They ran an embedded pilot for it earlier this season, introducing the new cast, and they've already had tremendous success with both 'NCIS' and 'CSI' spin-offs. But whatever happened to the old-school way of creating spin-offs?
'Frasier' was a long-time cast member on 'Cheers' before he headed off to Seattle and sitcom super-stardom. 'The Jeffersons' spent time living next to the Bunkers ('All in the Family') before moving on up. Even as recently as 'Friends,' they spun series co-star 'Joey' off into his own series -- maybe that's when it all went so wrong.
The powers that be at ABC have good reasons to be feeling good about the network's success. They've had a really good year developing some new shows, like 'Modern Family,' 'The Middle' and 'Cougar Town' -- all of which have been given a renewal for next season. And today an established drama, 'Brothers and Sisters,' was given a fifth season pickup. You know what that means, don't you? Pop the cork! Let the merlot and pinot grigio flow, the Walkers and Ojai Foods are going to continue on for another year of whining and wining.
On the heels of Rob Lowe's recently announced exit, EW.com's Ausiello Files is now reporting that Calista Flockhart will see a reduction in her role next season. While the number of episodes she'll be absent from is unknown, a spokesperson for ABC said that she will remain a series regular.
So what will this mean for the Walker family, specifically Kitty and Robert? As we've seen this season, Kitty has been struggling with cancer, which has put a major strain on their at times tumultuous relationship. And while she's currently in remission, after Robert's abandoned his aspirations for Governor, we see this one of two ways: One is that Kitty's cancer could return, although we highly doubt that Robert would leave if that were the case.
We now know why Rob Lowe made the decision he did. His role is integrated into the Walker family through Calista's character, Kitty. If she was asking for a reduced presence, the ripple effect was clearly less screen time for him. Hence, his decision.
That's the charge more than 11 years after Time magazine put 'Ally McBeal' star Calista Flockhart on its cover as an "icon" of failed feminism, and it was a hot topic of conversation among Flockhart and the 'Ally McBeal' gang when they appeared on ABC's 'Good Morning America' Tuesday for a second day of interviews to promote the series DVD release.
I mentioned in my preview last week that Ally McBeal seems like a mix of The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd and My World and Welcome To It. Having reached the end of season one, I still feel that way, with maybe a little Buffy the Vampire Slayer thrown in (hey, don't throw things at me, Ally looks like Buffy).
Molly Dodd because Ally is funny, desperate, strong and cute. My World because of all her fantasies, though not always in cartoon form as was the case with John Monroe / James Thurber.
And it's very weird seeing Calista Flockhart, whom I mainly know from Brothers & Sisters, and all of her co-stars, whom I know from other current shows, on Ally McBeal. What's even more amazing is all of the musicians featured on this show: Elton John, Tina Turner, Mariah Carey, Al Green, and many more.
(S04E01) "William was a cheater. He had this bottle-blond tramp across town..." - Nora's mother to Holly
The dysfunctional Walker clan is back, and it didn't take long for the squabbling and worrying and break-ups and tragedies to surface. Things open right away with Nora's feeling of foreboding, and with this family, it's usually warranted. There's generally a nice mix of comedy and drama in Brothers & Sisters, and this episode followed suit.
Earlier, I shared my wish list for the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama nominations, and I mentioned that Chloe Sevigny from Big Love would be a deserving selection. A TV Squad reader let me know that Chloe has actually been submitted in the supporting category. Good to know, and with that in mind, I'll start my wish list by talking about that category. (Remember, there are six nominees per category.)
Seriously, Brothers & Sisters' star Rob Lowe has been ordered to stop tanning. Apparently, the actor just looks too good -- bronze and healthy and full of that Kennedy-style of vigor for the role he's playing. ABC brass, the president of the network no less, has told him to stay out of the sun. According to Lowe, he was warned that he is getting too dark and has to mend his ways now.
Do you have those things on your favorite shows that just make you smile when they happen? It's not like it's the highlight of the show or anything; maybe it's just giving you those warm fuzzies inside. Maybe it's when Earl crosses something off his list on My Name is Earl. Or maybe it's as simple as when Penny sits in Sheldon's spot on The Big Bang Theory. Those familiar moments somehow make us feel like we're with old friends.
I get those. Most recently, I've been getting them when the Walkers of ABC's Brothers & Sisters are all on the phone together in some kind of mass speaker phone teleconferencing chain from hell. I'd say I don't normally watch these family soaps, but I've always liked Sally Field, and when she was recast as the matriarch of the Walkers, I found myself tuning in. This despite the fact that Ally McBeal's lips looked even puffier and she's still way too skinny. But then she married Rob Lowe and I've always liked him, too.
(S02E16) Rebecca: "I don't know what to do next."
Justin: "Me neither."
I cried twice during this episode. Maybe more. I cried when Nora told Kevin he deserved to have a beautiful wedding just as much as anybody else. And I also cried at two more points, but I'll talk about them below the jump. This was a beautiful episode of television. Even though I don't know that I have written about the music used in episodes, I thought the use of "Can't Find My Way Home" for the last two scenes was profoundly moving. Last year, I thought the season finale was a disaster because it ended with grand hijinks and everybody jumping into a pool. This year's season ended quietly on a beautiful sunny hillside, and it just about broke my heart. I am going to go out on a limb here and hope that this show wins an Emmy, because when they do it well, they really nail it.
I am starting to feel like Siskel and Ebert every week. Oh, that was a great episode! Oh, that episode sucked! It doesn't seem like there is any in between with me. Does that mean I'm too picky?
You know, it's funny because sometimes I don't even know how I feel about an episode, really, until I start writing about it, so my actual experience with watching it isn't necessarily negative, even if I write up a critical review. But tonight, I am pretty sure I know how I feel about it: That was a great episode.
Lots of things going on this week: Things are definitely heating up and charging down the runway toward May Sweeps and the end of the season, but they are things that have been set up for so long and so well that their very inevitability feels natural, unhurried, unforced, like a cart careening down a hill, picking up momentum, and heading into rush-hour traffic. And I'm not going to talk about it before the jump, so let's get going, shall we?
Sometimes what I actually want to review is the scenes for next week's show, because it seems more interesting than the one I just watched. However, I know that many of you deliberately do not watch those clips, so we shall say no more on the subject. I am glad the Walkers are back, and I like how they have handled the time off due to the strike: they simply said, "Three months later," and picked up with events then.
Before that jump, though, we learned some important things: That Graham and Sarah are still dating, that Tommy and Julia are still happily together, and that Senator Robert McCallister loses the Republican Party's nomination for the Presidency, so Robert returns to the Senate.
"Yes." Sarah Walker to Kevin Walker
This was an immensely likable episode. If you have read my reviews from Season One in particular, you know that I tend to distinguish the episodes I like from the episodes I *really* like based on who wrote them. This episode was co-written by Cliff Olin, son of Patricia Wettig (Holly) and Ken Olin (David Caplan). Cliff has been writing for the show since its inception, and he is a young writer, barely in his mid-twenties. I have noticed an unevenness in his writings in past episodes, but I think he is finally starting to hit his stride.
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