It amused me because, as most critics do, I judge each show independently and on its own merits; if, by law, I am required to review expensive HBO series favorably and basic-cable shows unfavorably, well, I didn't get that memo. And I'm fully willing to admit (as are most of people who make 'Spartacus') that the first couple of episodes of that show aren't good. But if you watched the Starz show until at least the midpoint of the first season, it became a gripping saga that worked as an action-adventure story, a soapy melodrama and a well-constructed, emotionally compelling drama.
And hey, guess what? George R.R. Martin, the man who created the books on which HBO's 'Game of Thrones' is based, is also a fan of 'Spartacus'! I would say "Nyah nyah" or "Oh snap!" at this point, but I'm far too mature and evolved to do something like that. Much.
In any event, Martin and I talked about much more that our mutual affinity for the gladiator drama in Part 2 of our interview (Part 1 is here, by the way). We discussed magic, "comfort fiction" and his approach to the next book in his 'Song of Ice and Fire' series, among other things.
But we don't have to wait for more episodes (Season 2 premieres Wed., Sept. 28, 9:30PM ET on ABC) to hear from the 'Happy Endings' gang -- you all had questions that you sent in via Twitter, and we've got their answers for you.
Check out these exclusive video interviews with stars Elisha Cuthbert, Zach Knighton, Eliza Coupe and Damon Wayans Jr. answering your fan questions, then tell us in the comments what you love most about the show.
If you haven't watched yet, hopefully these hilarious and adorably candid interviews will inspire you to catch up. [Watch full episodes here]
Below, watch the actress discuss what she loves about playing Maggie, a rebellious Pan Am stewardess, and why she decided to head to TV full-time for the project.
'Pan Am' premieres Sept. 25 at 10PM ET on ABC.
Below, watch Kitsis and Horowitz discuss how much 'OUAT' will resemble 'Lost' (they were both writers and producers on the show), and what they consider to be the scariest fairy tale of them all.
'Once Upon a Time' premieres Oct. 23 at 8PM ET on ABC.
In this week's podcast, Ryan McGee and I talk about TNT's 'Falling Skies,' which has its season finale Sunday, 'Torchwood,' which hits the midpoint of its Starz season tonight, and 'The Hour,' an interesting new drama that arrives on BBC America Aug. 17. I am not sure if I'll get a chance to write a full review of 'The Hour' this month, so if you're interested in the period drama, which stars Dominic West of 'The Wire' as a news anchor in mid-'50s London, you might check out our non-spoilery discussion of the show.
In the last segment, I talk about some of the things that have transpired at the Television Critics Association press tour, which I've been attending for the last two weeks.
I've got a bit more to say about the new season of 'Torchwood' further down in this post, and there are running times for the podcast below as well.
At week or two ago at Comic-Con, I spoke to 'Supernatural' star Misha Collins (that video interview is here, and all our coverage of the show is here). But Collins was the sole representative of the CW show at a Television Critics Association party on Wednesday, so I thought I'd grill him a bit more on where things stand for Castiel and what the actor wants to do now that he's not a series regular on the show.
At the end of season 6, when Cas became "this omnipotent megalomaniacal character, it does sort of wash away the old, naïve, dorky Cas that we've all come to love," Collins said. "And I have a fondness in my heart for that character and miss him and hope to see him again."
Before we get to the rest of the interview, here's a bit of good news: 'Supernatural' is among the shows that has had its episode order bumped up. Season 7 of the show will feature 23 episodes instead of the usual 22. (Other CW news from TCA press tour is here.)
As Don well knows, hitting the big time can create its own set of problems. As AMC has dealt with the challenges that success brings, it has endured a roller-coaster ride of conflict and controversy, especially in recent months.
Here's the short version of AMC's recent history, a companion piece to our interview with network President Charlie Collier.
June 25, 2006: The miniseries 'Broken Trail' debuts and garners a very impressive 9.7 million viewers for the channel.
July 19, 2007: 'Mad Men' debuts, goes on to win dozens of awards and reside at or near the top of most critics' yearly Top 10 lists.
Jan. 20, 2008: 'Breaking Bad' debuts, and after an uneven strike-shortened first season, eventually joins 'Mad Men' as one of the most critically acclaimed shows on TV.
Early 2009: In a ritual that would be repeated two years later, negotiations between 'Mad Men' creator Matthew Weiner and AMC become public and acrimonious, but he eventually signs on to do Seasons 3 and 4 of the show.
There's the casting of 'Matrix' star Carrie-Anne Moss in a multi-episode arc as Gertrude Verbanski, the head of a private espionage agency that competes with Chuck's new firm. A woman as tough, competitive and weapons-obsessed as Gertrude naturally appeals to John Casey.
"What we wanted to do this season is really kind of open up [Casey] to a new romantic relationship, and we thought we needed someone as badass as him," Fedak said. "Carrie-Anne seemed like the perfect fit."
But during the final season, there trouble among the Buy More staff -- Jeff and Lester, otherwise known as the not-quite-legendary rock band Jeffster, hit a rough patch in their relationship, and I learned that one of them even goes to jail. But could an 'Office' gig be in Jeffster's future? It's a long shot, but if it happens, it could be one of the funnest crossovers of the season.
The staples of the series were still there -- the gorgeous interiors and exteriors of the stately home gleamed, the starchy butler Carson disapproved of something being done by one of the aristocratic Crawley sisters, the snippy ladies' maid O'Brien looked down her nose at a cheeky new member of the below-stairs staff, and the relationship between Matthew Crawley, the man set to inherit Downton Abbey, and Lady Mary, an aristocrat with a scandal in her past, looked as complicated as ever.
But in interviews conducted before the panel, members of the 'Downton' cast said the war lent a new sense of urgency to the country house drama, which returns Jan. 8.
HBO executive Richard Plepler put it plainly: "We told George we would go as long as he kept writing."
George is George R.R. Martin, the author of the books on which the TV show is based. After the remarks from Plepler and fellow HBO executive Michael Lombardo below, I've got a long excerpt from an interview I did with Martin at Comic-Con last week. But first, there's more on what the executives said about 'Game of Thrones' future at TCA press tour.
The executives' positive statements are good news for fans of 'Game of Thrones,' but at the Thursday HBO session, critic Ellen Gray raised the specter of 'Deadwood,' a period piece with a fervent following that ended in a sudden and mystifying way well before fans (and possibly even creator David Milch) were ready to let it go.
But during the AMC panel this morning at the Television Critics Association press tour, which is taking place this week and next in Los Angeles, AMC executive Joel Stillerman also addressed the heated reaction to the network's crime drama, 'The Killing.'
"The major takeaway for us after the finale of 'The Killing' starts with the headline that, for everybody who was frustrated, we hear you," said Stillerman, AMC's senior vice president of original programming.
Stillerman said that the network's mistake with the show was to imply that the mystery would be solved in the first season.
Marshall, a busy actress who has appeared in everything from 'Cupid' to 'Californication,' will play Malificent, the nemesis of Sleeping Beauty. "She's a badass and she's also the rival" of Lana Parrilla's evil queen character, Kitsis said.
Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Jennifer Morrison, Robert Carlyle, Josh Dallas and Parrilla, Giancarlo Esposito of 'Breaking Bad' will also appear in the recurring role of the Magic Mirror in 'Once', as TV Line reported earlier this month.
UPDATE: ABC has confirmed that 'Vampire Diaries' and 'Alias' actor David Anders will play a doctor in an upcoming episode of 'Once Upon a Time.'
I spoke to Kitsis and Horowitz at length in their 'Once' office (where I admired the 'Lost' posters you see below), and I'll publish the majority of that interview closer to the show's Oct. 23 premiere date. But I can't resist sharing a little of what they had to say about the show's central concept, which features characters in a fairy tale kingdom where the evil queen is up to no good, and characters in a modern-day town where things are stranger than they first appear.
The first few minutes of season 4 were shown before the panel (by the way, spoilers ahoy). Would it surprise you to learn that the clip ends with club members on their motorcycles, flipping off the prison that they just left after 14 months of incarceration? No, I do not think it would.
The stars were, of course, willing to talk about 'Fringe''s excellent third season (check out the video interviews below for more on that), and the panel began with a funny video clip -- "auditions" for the role of Peter who, of course, is played by Joshua Jackson.
The actor wasn't scheduled to be part of the panel, but he turned up in an Observer suit and hat as the session was getting underway. So how will his character return when Season 4 begins? "All will be answered, we promise," executive producer J.H. Wyman said.
Just not right now.
Star Zachary Levi got choked up on stage as he recalled the show's first Comic-Con panel and as he talked about all that fans had done to keep the show alive for five seasons.
"This show would not have been here without you guys," he said, before his emotions overcame him and he stopped talking. Fans took up the slack by cheering and clapping.
The panel began with a video of Jeffster playing 'Eye of the Tiger' as Gomez did a 'Rocky'-style workout. Morgan is the new Intersect, after all, and as Ryan McPartlin said in the video, the former Buy More nerd has to be "ripped" for the new season.
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