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October 31, 2014

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EXCLUSIVE: A Clip from the Action-Packed 'Burn Notice' Mid-Season Finale

by Maureen Ryan, posted Sep 2nd 2011 10:00AM
There are a million things I'm trying to get done before the holiday weekend, but I wanted to offer a few brief thoughts on the fifth season of 'Burn Notice,' as well as this exclusive clip from the USA Network show's mid-season finale.

I've enjoyed how the show has mixed it up a bit in season 5, and I've especially appreciated the ways in which the continued presence of Jesse (Coby Bell) has allowed the show to vary its approaches to both weekly storytelling and the ongoing tale of Michael's dealings with the CIA and his rocky re-entry into the espionage world.

Creator Matt Nix explained his rationale for keeping Coby Bell's Jesse around this season in an interview earlier this year (you can find it here and here), and I can see now why it was a good idea.

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Catching Up With the Best New Comedy of the Year: MTV's 'Awkward.'

by Maureen Ryan, posted Sep 1st 2011 12:00PM
Surely this wasn't MTV's goal, but the network's excellent new(ish) comedy 'Awkward.' puts me in a nostalgic frame of mind.

Just as today's twentysomethings yearned to bask once again in the glow of the Nickelodeon shows they watched in their tween years (and that prompted TeenNick to unleash its successful "The '90s Are All That" rerun block two months ago), I've been missing the glory days of the WB and the early CW for a while now.

Back in the '90s and early aughts, those networks gave us plucky, verbally dextrous, sarcastic heroines in slightly dorky clothes who studied hard or solved crimes or fought vampires, young women who wanted the guy but didn't want to lose their self-respect and whose neuroses only made them more appealing.

And that's pretty much what 'Awkward' is, but in brisk, sitcom form and with more hilarious euphemisms for sex. It may not sound professional, but somehow it feels appropriate to say that I totally have a crush on 'Awkward.'

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EXCLUSIVE: 'Community' Star To Stop by 'Chuck'

by Maureen Ryan, posted Aug 30th 2011 9:45PM
'Community' plus 'Chuck'? Talk about a match made in TV heaven.

We can exclusively reveal that Danny Pudi, 'Community's' Abed, will have a cameo role in the fifth episode of the upcoming season of 'Chuck.' The details of his role are still under wraps, but really, what more do you need to know? Pudi is a very funny man and 'Chuck' will no doubt pull out all the stops to make sure his time in the spy world will be, in a word, awesome.

Of course, Pudi fans will recall that he made an appearance on 'Cougar Town' last season after Abed talked about the ABC comedy on 'Community.'

'Chuck' doesn't return with its final season until Oct. 21, but so far it's sounding like it'll be worth the wait.

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EXCLUSIVE: 'Mad Men' Star John Slattery Coming to 'The Simpsons'

by Maggie Furlong, posted Aug 30th 2011 8:00PM
John Slatter, 'Mad Men'Not everyone in Hollywood really knows each other, but it's pretty darn close. Take, for example, my day on the set of NBC's new sitcom 'Free Agents.' Knowing that they're shooting at the same studios where 'Mad Men' shoots was one thing, but the 'Mad Men' ties don't stop there.

I caught up with star Hank Azaria who plays Alex on 'Free Agents' (previews Wed., Sept. 14, 10:30PM ET), a PR exec whose unlucky-in-love personal life starts to bleed into his work life. We talked a lot about the show -- more to come closer to premiere -- but he also had a few tidbits to share about some of the 'Mad Men' cast.

In a brief moment of 'Simpsons' conversation, Azaria talked about guest stars for the show's upcoming season (premieres Sun., Sept. 25, 8PM ET on Fox). "We're actually recording our 23rd season now, and it's hard to remember anything, because we don't memorize anything, and we've done so many. I just assume every major recording and movie star and television star has been through there -- and they pretty much have -- but I run into John Slattery a lot, and I know he did a voice this year."

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Checking In on 'Alphas,' the Summer's Most Promising New Drama

by Maureen Ryan, posted Aug 30th 2011 3:00PM
In my 'Happy Endings' piece yesterday, I noted that I'm using this week to check in on shows I won't be able to write about during the September premiere crush. Today's program: Syfy's 'Alphas.'

The bad news is, 'Alphas' doesn't return until Sept. 12. The good news is, you have almost two weeks to catch up on this Syfy drama, which has turned out to be surprisingly good, especially in recent weeks.

I say "surprisingly" not just because much of Syfy's recent scripted fare has been lightweight, unambitious or slipshod (or all three), but because so much could have gone wrong with this particular show, which follows a team of investigators with superhuman abilities.

Not only has 'Alphas' successfully avoided many of the pitfalls that have bedeviled other superhero-flavored projects, it's done a good job of balancing character-driven moments with taut, well-paced storytelling. Not every episode has been an unqualified success, but the Aug. 15 and Aug. 22 outings, to name my favorites, were truly excellent, if not downright badass.

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'Sons of Anarchy' Season 4 Trailer: New Tensions and a Town Transformed (VIDEO)

by Maureen Ryan, posted Aug 30th 2011 1:35PM
The Sept. 6 season premiere of FX's 'Sons of Anarchy' is an exercise in intriguing contradictions.

As the members of the biker club emerge from 14 months in prison, there are lots of changes in the club's home town of Charming, but fans who watch the 90-minute episode will see a lot of familiar elements on display as well.

There's a new sheriff in town (Rockmond Dunbar), a man who would be quite happy to put the club behind bars again, and, as you can see in the clip below, there's also a new alliance with Danny Trejo's character, a representative for a Mexican cartel.

I'll post a full review of the first three episodes of the new season early next week, but I can say that after season 3's ups and downs, which included the Sons' trip to Belfast, things definitely appear to be centered on the 'SOA' clubhouse in Charming again. The solid season opener has made me very intrigued to see where things go next for Jax (Charlie Hunnam), Tara (Maggie Siff), Clay (Ron Perlman), Gemma (Katey Sagal) and the rest of the Reaper Crew -- all of whom may well have differing agendas as the season plays out.

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Judy Greer to Play Ashton Kutcher's Ex on 'Two and a Half Men'

by Catherine Lawson, posted Aug 30th 2011 8:00AM
Judy GreerIt's a 'Miss Guided' reunion on 'Two and a Half Men' this season as it's been announced that star Judy Greer has signed on for a recurring role on the comedy.

According to TV Guide, Greer will appear in several episodes playing Bridget, the soon-to-be ex-wife of Ashton Kutcher's character, Internet billionaire Walden Schmidt.

Greer previously guest-starred in Season 4 of 'Two and a Half Men' back in 2007. She played Herb's sister Myra, who memorably hooked up with Charlie Harper when Herb married Alan's ex-wife Judith.

She and Kutcher worked together on 2008's 'Miss Guided,' which was executive produced by his Katalyst Films production company, and he also guest-starred on an episode.

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Taking Another Look at ABC's 'Happy Endings'

by Maureen Ryan, posted Aug 29th 2011 2:30PM
We're in the dog days of summer -- the brief calm period before the fall frenzy begins -- so I thought I'd use this week to take another look at shows I won't be able to pay much attention to when new programs begin rolling out in a couple of weeks.

First up is ABC's 'Happy Endings,' an ensemble comedy that premiered in the spring and returns Sept. 28. You could almost say it's a summer show -- ABC, in its infinite wisdom, randomly aired a new episode Aug. 24, because that makes a ton of sense. Yeeesh. Thanks for the freebie, ABC, but I mainly used Hulu and iTunes to catch up on the show's first season in recent days.

The verdict? Late in its debut season, 'Happy Endings' was far less shrill and better calibrated than it was when it first premiered, and I could see why it got renewed.

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'Doctor Who' Mastermind Steven Moffat Talks River Song, Matt Smith and Time Travel

by Maureen Ryan, posted Aug 26th 2011 10:00AM
Who is River Song and what's her connection to other characters on 'Doctor Who'?

Why do stories have to be told in a linear fashion, and what does "linear" even mean?

Do you have to fully understand what's going on in a story -- any story, even one that doesn't involve alien incursions -- in order to enjoy it?

I discussed all those things and more with 'Doctor Who' executive producer and head writer Steven Moffat in anticipation of the show's Saturday return on BBC America.

Truth be told, I was a bit nervous to talk to Moffat. I'd read other interviews in which he seemed -- well, prickly is the wrong word, but (justifiably) unwilling to suffer fools gladly. And when it comes to timey-wimey stories and the kind of puzzle plots that he sometimes creates for 'Doctor Who,' I don't mind admitting that I can be a bit of a head-scratching fool.

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Talking TV Podcast Takes on 'Breaking Bad,' 'Doctor Who' and Listener Questions

by Maureen Ryan, posted Aug 25th 2011 1:00PM
The Talking TV with Ryan and Ryan podcast is back -- tanned, rested and ready to dive into the small-screen fray.

In this week's edition, Ryan McGee and I talk about 'Breaking Bad' and 'Doctor Who' from a couple of different perspectives -- we chat about how splitting seasons into half-seasons (or shortening TV seasons) affects shows creatively, and we also share our responses to each show at this point in their very different lives.

We also talk about some grim statistics that came out recently regarding women in Hollywood, we take on reader questions and we gab about our favorite pilots for fall. Speaking of that last topic, don't miss the fall preview roundtables that AolTV's Maggie Furlong and myself did with Hitfix's Alan Sepinwall, IMDbTV.com's Melanie McFarland and TV Guide Magazine's Damian Holbrook. I really think you'll enjoy this series of video chats (check back here Friday for the final installment).

The running times for the podcast are below.

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Check Out the 'Locke and Key' Trailer and Mourn What Could Have Been

by Maureen Ryan, posted Aug 25th 2011 11:45AM
You might not want to watch this TV trailer, because it might make you too sad about what could have been.

'Some Guy' recently uploaded a professional-looking trailer for the Fox pilot 'Locke and Key,' and the two-minute Vimeo trailer is more intriguing than many full-blown drama pilots for the new season (yes, 'Grimm,' I'm looking at you). Sadly, 'Locke and Key,' which is based on an acclaimed graphic novel series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, was not picked by Fox for the new season.

I was able to see the full pilot for the project at Comic-Con, and it was a bittersweet experience -- as a fan of the graphic novels, I thought the director, Mark Romanek, and writer, 'Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles' scribe Josh Friedman, did an especially sensitive and intelligent job of adapting this eerie haunted house tale. It was a drag to contemplate that this compelling project didn't get picked up to series.

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'Doctor Who' Star Matt Smith Previews New Episodes, Plus Lots of Intel on What's to Come

by Maureen Ryan, posted Aug 24th 2011 11:30AM
'Doctor Who' returns 9PM ET Saturday on BBC America. Finally.

It feels as though we've had to wait an eternity for the show's sixth season to recommence, and there were dozens of unanswered questions floating around by the end of 'A Good Man Goes to War,' the ripping mid-season finale that aired in June. The good news is, the show's executive producer, Steven Moffat, and star, Matt Smith, both said in recent interviews that all those big questions will be answered by the time the seventh season wraps up Oct. 1. My interview with Smith is below, and I'll post the interview with Moffat soon.

Many of the biggest 'Doctor Who' questions revolve around River Song, a.k.a. Melody Pond, who, it emerged in 'A Good Man Goes to War,' is the daughter of the Doctor's companions, Rory and Amy. Be assured that the interview with Matt Smith below doesn't contain any specific intel about what's to come. But after the interview with Smith, you'll get a River Song-style warning about "Spoilers!" which include the very interesting (and River-centric) title of the upcoming season finale.

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'Breaking Bad' and TV's Latest Trend: The Incredible Shrinking Television Season

by Maureen Ryan, posted Aug 23rd 2011 1:00PM
'Breaking Bad's' renewal is old news, of course, but I've been on vacation and haven't had a chance to weigh in.

In any event, the most noteworthy thing about the renewal isn't the fact that the show is going away. Vince Gilligan, 'Breaking Bad's' creator, has said for some time that he doesn't want the taut, terrific drama to overstay its welcome, and that's a laudable idea.

No, the most noteworthy thing about 'Breaking Bad's' exit plan is that it fits into a pattern I like to call the Incredible Shrinking Television Season. AMC hasn't confirmed this, but credible news reports have said that the final season of 'Breaking Bad' is likely to be shown over the course of two years, in chunks of around eight episodes or so.

If that happens, we'll be getting two semi-shrunken seasons, which fits in with what's been happening to a lot of scripted shows, mostly on cable but also on the broadcast networks. The standard episode order for a new or returning cable show used to be 13 episodes, but now it almost seems as though that's the exception, not the rule.

This concerns me.

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EXCLUSIVE: 'Battlestar's' Jamie Bamber Nabs TNT Role, 'Caprica' Vet Invades 'Alphas' & Intel on 'Blood and Chrome'

by Maureen Ryan, posted Aug 22nd 2011 5:00PM
Jamie BamberTwo veterans of the 'Battlestar Galactica' universe have landed upcoming guest roles on very different shows.

Jamie Bamber, who played Lee "Apollo" Adama on 'Battlestar Galactica' and went on to appear in 'Law & Order: UK,' will have a recurring role on the new TNT series 'Perception,' which stars Eric McCormack as Dr. Daniel Pierce, an odd neuroscience professor who helps the FBI crack cases.

Bamber will guest at least twice on 'Perception' as a new professor who catches the eye of Kate Moretti (Rachel Leigh Cook), Pierce's FBI handler and former student.

'Perception,' which also stars Kelly Rowan and Arjay Smith, premieres in the summer of 2012. And no doubt Bamber fans are aware that Bamber was also recently cast in a guest role on 'CSI: Miami.' (More nerd-bait casting: 'Star Trek' actor LeVar Burton will recur as a dean at Pierce's university.)

Another veteran of the 'BSG' universe, 'Caprica' actor John Pyper-Ferguson, will have a key role in the season finale of Syfy's 'Alphas,' a drama about people with extraordinary abilities.

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'Game of Thrones' Expands Its Roster of European Locations

by Maureen Ryan, posted Aug 22nd 2011 1:30PM
As is the case in the book series on which it is based, the world of 'Game of Thrones' is continuing to expand.

HBO has confirmed that parts of the upcoming season will be filmed in Croatia and Iceland.

Croatia will supply locations for some of the southern parts of Westeros, the fictional kingdom in which the drama takes place. Not surprisingly, the well-informed fan site Winter is Coming has extensive intel on the locations we can expect to see on the show.

The 700-foot Wall, the far northern Westeros location that is home to the men of the Night's Watch, was the setting of many of my favorite season 1 moments. As you'll recall, Jon Snow and the men who serve in the Night's Watch help protect Westeros from the fearsome creatures beyond the Wall's icy bulk. Some of the season 2 scenes set beyond the Wall will be shot in Iceland, HBO said Monday.

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