Not seen since the pilot, Mike returned in an RV with another new addition ... or four. It was a fun bit of continuity for long-time fans of the show, as Mike was quickly written out after that first episode, and the show hasn't looked back.
Mary Lynn Rasjkub was vastly underused as Mike's wife -- actually, the husbands were under-used as well -- in an otherwise quirky episode, even by 'Hope's already bizarre standards. Still, just the idea of that five-way marriage has our brains all tied in a knot. Quite frankly, we're afraid to untie it.
Podcast Smorgasbord: 'Chuck' Convention News, Plus 'Raising Hope,' '30 Rock,' 'The Good Wife' and More
OK, so 'Spartacus' and 'How I Met Your Mother' are the exceptions in the mix -- those are shows we've talked about a fair amount in the past. But we also discussed what we're liking (or disliking) about '30 Rock,' 'Modern Family,' 'The Good Wife' and 'Raising Hope.' Most (if not all) of those programs are newcomers to the Talking TV podcast.
We kicked things off, however, by talking about a bit of fun news: I'll be moderating a 'Chuck' panel at Chicago's C2D2 convention March 19; it'll feature cast members Josh Gomez, Ryan McPartlin, Scott Krinsky and Vik Sahay, so come on by if you're a Buy More addict in the Chicago area.
I might as well get this out of the way first: Last fall, 'Raising Hope' was on my list of Worst New Shows. You could say I didn't much care for the show's blaring, over-caffeinated pilot, and I know, that makes me a mean old stick in the mud. What kind of crabbypants doesn't think a baby watching her prisoner mother being executed is hilarious?
Fortunately, 'Raising Hope' (which airs Tuesday at a special time, 9:30PM ET) has toned down a lot of the antic elements that grated on me in the pilot. Some of its characters don't quite work and the show's forays into gross-out humor are still not my cup of tea, but 'Raising Hope' has certainly raised its game. Last week's episode, which featured a fine guest turn from Amy Sedaris, was actually pretty entertaining.
This week we have spoilers for: '30 Rock,' '90210,' 'Bones,' 'Chuck,' 'Cougar Town,' 'CSI: New York,' 'Desperate Housewives,' 'Glee,' 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'How I Met Your Mother,' Parenthood,' 'Private Practice,' 'Raising Hope,' 'Smallville,' 'The Office' and 'Warehouse 13.'
The old band is getting back together, so to speak.
Jaime Pressly and Ethan Suplee, who costarred on Greg Garcia's 'My Name Is Earl,' are scheduled to drop by Garcia's new show, 'Raising Hope,' toward the end of the season, Entertainment Weekly reports.
The pair will play a married couple who lives down the street from the Chance family. "Burt and Virginia sort of become involved in their life more than they want to," Garcia told EW. "They become entangled in some drama that's going on at the Suplee-Pressley household."
In other TV casting news ...
• Jesse Metcalfe has landed a lead role on TNT's 'Dallas' reboot. The 'Desperate Housewives' actor will play Christopher, the adopted son of Bobby and Pam Ewing. [Deadline]
• Amanda Peet and Minnie Driver are in talks to join two different NBC pilots. Peet will likely join the cast of 'Bent,' a single-camera comedy about a single mom trying not to fall for her hunky contractor. Driver is in talks to join 'Free Agents,' the romantic comedy from 'Party Down' co-creator John Enbom. [The Hollywood Reporter]
• 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent' is getting a new boss for season 10. Jay O. Sanders is joining the final season of the show, which is scheduled to premiere on USA May 1. [TV Line]
In tonight's episode, single father Jimmy made a connection with a potential new guy friend, who's also a single dad. The problem is that much like making that first call to a girl, Jimmy didn't know what to say on the guy's answering machine.
"Hi-ho," he opened, but then immediately lost his confidence. "Hi-ho, what was that? I sound like a dwarf. Not that there's anything wrong with dwarves in case your son is a dwarf. I mean, he looked normal, for a baby, but you don't really know until they're like three."
According to TV Guide, Lane will reprise his role in a spring episode. "Mitch and Cam go out for a boys night with Pepper and a bunch of their other gay friends," according to Steve Levitan, executive producer of 'Modern Family.'
Look for Jay to wind up at the party. "We're having a lot of fun playing with Nathan, and this will be a very funny use of him," Levitan said.
In other casting news ...
• Jeffrey Dean Morgan is in final talks to star in Starz's 'Magic City.' The 'Grey's Anatomy' and 'Watchmen' actor will play the owner of one of Miami's famous hotels. [Deadline Hollywood]
• 'The View' co-host Sherri Shepherd will appear in a new pilot. Sadly, it's not '30 Rock''s fictional 'Queen of Jordan.' Shepherd will appear opposite Christine Taylor in TV Land's workplace sitcom. Shepherd will play the office drama queen. [Deadline Hollywood]
Of course, the Fox talent show will undergo a variety of alterations this season, and if 2011 doesn't bring a better season of 'Idol,' the new year will undoubtedly bring a different season of 'Idol,' at the very least.
At the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena on Tuesday, members of the media got to pose questions to a panel composed of 'Idol' judges and producers, and shortly afterward, Fox executives took the stage to answer questions about 'Fringe,' 'Lone Star,' 'Running Wilde' and various other Fox programs.
So what did Fox executives say about those shows and what 'Idol' developments can we expect? A bullet list of news and factoids from today's Fox panels is below.
"'Raising Hope' has emerged as a comedic standout: wickedly smart, hilarious and full of heart," said Fox President of Entertainment Kevin Reilly. "Greg Garcia and his great cast have established an appointment show on Tuesday nights this season, and we're confident it's just the beginning of great things to come."
This week we have spoilers for: 'Bones,' 'Castle,' 'CSI,' 'Fringe,' 'Glee,' 'Gossip Girl,' 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'Hawaii Five-0,' 'How I Met Your Mother,' 'Law & Order: SVU,' 'Modern Family,' 'NCIS,' 'Parenthood,' Parks & Recreation,' 'Raising Hope,' 'Supernatural,' 'The Big Bang Theory,' and 'The Defenders.'
Jimmy (Lucas Neff) is the first to notice the problem. " ... Um," he says. "These aren't cookies -- they're dirt clods ... with little rocks in them." Meanwhile, her indulgent granddaughter Virginia (Martha Plimpton) tries to smooth things over, via the time-tested "it's Christmas; everyone try to get along" excuse.
As the family members gaze upon the dirt/rock "snickerdoodles" in horror, Virginia provides some not-so-subtle encouragement: "Oh, let her her have this; it's the holidays." True: it is the holidays. And hey -- things could be worse. After all, in the spirit of love and joy, Maw Maw did use little rocks, not big ones. So she's trying, at least ...
"It's you!" squeals Virginia on 'Raising Hope' (Tue., 9PM ET on FOX). Floyd -- still holding fast to a big '80s 'do despite thinning gray hair and a receding hairline -- tells her, "Take some breaths, sweetheart. Shock will fade. But luckily, memory will last forever."
Burt, Jimmy and Virginia watch in awed silence as he eats breakfast. "He's eating the same cereal I pick," whispers an elated Burt.
Guest star Jason Lee -- who starred in creator Greg Garcia's last hit 'My Name Is Earl' -- is playing Smokey Floyd, a has-been rocker who also happens to be Burt's (Garret Dillahunt) musical idol. He's in town "headlining" Grocery-Palooza (Tues., 9PM ET on Fox), if that gives you any indication of how far he's fallen from fame. Need more proof? Just check out Lee's look: that tattered shirt, those python-print pleather pants, that receding hairline and mullet combo. He's almost unrecognizable, so it makes sense that he chose to do this interview in character as Smokey Floyd.
I caught up with old Smokey (who one star says "looks like Bon Jovi's grandpa"), Dillahunt and the rest of the gang at 'Raising Hope' to find out what Grocery-Palooza is all about and how the aging rockstar shakes things up.
"We can raise a baby far better than a man in suspended adolescence [and] his bipolar, alcoholic mother," Dale explains to Jimmy (though his own daughter ended up on death row).
Meanwhile, Jimmy's mother Virginia has sneaked into the house and knocked Grandma Margine unconscious with the corner of the TV. She scoops up Hope behind Dale's back, taps him on the shoulder and then bolts for the truck.
This fall has been a bit of a bump in the road for what was supposed to be a comeback of comedy on network television. The crop of sitcoms that bowed in September have been a mixed bag of quality and ratings.
'Mike & Molly' has done well since day one, and it's steadily improving from its fat-joke-laden beginning. '$#*! My Dad Says' may be steadying creatively, but less people are watching it every week. 'Outsourced' has its detractors and supporters, but it's being moved to 10:30PM in January. And 'Running Wilde' is about to disappear from FOX's lineup, despite the presence of Mitch Hurwitz and Will Arnett.
Only one new sitcom that has been consistently strong both creatively and in the ratings this fall: 'Raising Hope' on FOX. Creator Greg Garcia has managed to put together a show that seems to satisfy people who want gross-out humor as well as people who want to watch warm fuzzy family comedy, while throwing in some edginess from time to time.
Some reasons why the show has been fun to watch so far:
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