10 items from 2015
“Battle Creek” is a new take on the buddy-cop genre, starring Josh Duhamel and Dean Winters. Hailing from “Breaking Bad’s” Vince Gilligan and “House M.D.” vet David Shore, the series bows March 1 on CBS.
The quirky drama is set in Battle Creek, Mich., population 50,000, where a jaded detective, Russ Agnew (Winters), reluctantly partners with charming FBI Agent Milt Chamberlain (Duhamel) to solve crimes. Shore, who serves as showrunner and exec producer, says the setting is one of the ways the show differentiates itself from others of its kind.
“In the writers room, if we came up with an idea that would be a great ‘Law & Order’ episode, we just didn’t do it,” Shore, who worked on the famed procedural show for two years, said on a recent conference call with Variety.
Shore explained that while the writers are looking for ideas more specific to a small community, that »
- Seth Kelley
Kal Penn is walking a different beat in the CBS police dramedy "Battle Creek," but this is in many ways a return for him. You might not necessarily remember, but Penn has been working in the CBS family steadily since he ended his sabbatical working for the White House. He followed a recurring arc on "How I Met Your Mother" with a regular role on the short-lived "We Are Men" before landing on "Battle Creek," which was created by Vince Gilligan, but is run by David Shore. Shore, of course, worked with Penn during his multi-season run as the ill-fated Dr. Lawrence Kutner on Fox's "House," a series that appears on the resume of many of the "Battle Creek" scribes. And when one of the first things we learn about Penn's Detective Fontanelle is that he's a user of medicinal marijuana, which ties Font in with Penn's long and beloved »
- Daniel Fienberg
Spin-offs are easy. Spin-offs are hard. Spin-offs get to use pre-existing characters from popular shows — or, at a minimum, get to introduce their new characters on a pre-existing show — and therefore have an easier time getting the audience's attention than some wholly original concept. But spin-offs also remove those characters from the context where people first liked them, and they can be unfairly held to the standards of the original show, whereas a brand-new series is only judged for being itself. And it's hard to know exactly what kinds of spin-offs will succeed, creatively or commercially. Frasier Crane worked spectacularly well away from the gang at Cheers, while Joey Tribbiani seemed much less lovable once he was 3,000 miles away from Chandler and the other Central Perk regulars. "The Simpsons" far outstripped the popularity of "The Tracey Ullman Show." Sometimes, audiences instantly take to characters introduced to a pre-existing show for »
- Alan Sepinwall
Bravo has handed a second season to its first original scripted series “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce,” the cabler announced Wednesday.
Currently in its debut season, production on Season 2 will begin this summer with 13 episodes.
The Universal Cable Productions dramedy from creator-exec producer Marti Noxon stars Lisa Edelstein (“House M.D.”) and Paul Adelstein (“Private Practice,” “Scandal”) as a newly divorced couple living an upscale lifestyle in L.A. Edelstein plays Abby McCarthy, a self-help book author who, with the help of her divorced girlfriends, navigates her newfound single life in her 40s, after her career and marriage fall apart.
“We’ve been excited about ‘Girlfriends’ Guide’ since the day Marti brought it in, and we were elated it became Bravo’s first scripted series,” said Jeff Wachtel, president and chief content officer, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. “Lisa Edelstein and the rest of the incredible cast have sparked fresh conversations about strong, complicated »
- Elizabeth Wagmeister
CBS has picked up two more drama pilots, “For Justice” and “Sneaky Pete,” both of which have big star power behind the camera.
“For Justice,” from CBS TV Studios, has veteran showrunner Rene Balcer of “Law & Order” at the helm as writer and exec producer. Robert De Niro is also attached to exec produce, along with Jane Rosenthal, James Patterson, Bill Robinson, Leopoldo Gout and co-exec producer Berry Welsh. The drama centers on a female FBI agent working in the Criminal Section of the Department of Civil Rights Division who finds herself caught between her radical real family and her professional family. The project is based on James Patterson’s novel “The Thomas Berryman Number.”
“Sneaky Pete” comes from “House M.D.” creator David Shore, who will pen the project, along with co-writer Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad.” The series follows a thirty-something conman who takes the identity of his past cellmate upon leaving jail. »
- Elizabeth Wagmeister
“I don’t see the worst in everyone. I see the everyone in everyone.”
For Detective Lt. Everett Backstrom, that’s all the justification he needs to act the way he does — that is, crass, blunt and totally rude.
In Fox’s new cop drama — created by Bones‘ Hart Hanson and based on a set of novels by Swedish criminologist Leif G.W. Persson — The Office‘s Rainn Wilson stars as the titular detective, who is admittedly excellent at his job.
He’s just not so great at the “people skills” thing.
Now, the 49-year-old actor is ready to put Dunder Mifflin Paper Co. behind him, and step into some new — and slightly more offensive — shoes as the star of Fox's mid-season procedural Backstrom.
"I'm sure we'll get a lot of complaints," Wilson said of his new button-pushing alter-ego Detective Everett Backstrom. "I hope Fox is ready to have people be really angry."
Watch: Inside the Secret Formula to Fox's 'Empire,' TV's Next Big Hit
Why the expected outrage? In just the first episode, Wilson's character displays racist, sexist, and homophobic behavior, all while sputtering politically incorrect jabs and borderline-offensive one-liners..
But it was these outrageous character faults that really drew Wilson to the role. "He's so fascinating and interesting and [has] so many facets and texture. I knew it »
Videos Is Fox’s Backstrom a Rat-Faced Podiatrist, or a Lesbian Terrorist?
“He so lives in the worst of himself, and in the worst of the human condition, that he’s able to see that in others,” Wilson says.
And while that makes him exceptional at his work, »
Fox has a daring bet it’s making on Backstrom, and though we might not like to admit to the pigeonholing it entails, a lot of people are going to have to take Rainn Wilson in exactly the right way for the show to take off. We’ll have to hope it works out, because this is the coolest show in a long time, and Wilson is perfect.
The trick here is that the show may need the help of Rainn Wilson as draw, but that audience also has to be able to distance themselves from Dwight Schrute. Wilson has obviously been around, but to a large percentage of people he is either no one, or Dwight, and you aren’t getting anything like Dwight here.
- Marc Eastman
Bravo likely won’t be breaking up with “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce” anytime soon.
The network’s first scripted series notched a ratings high with its most recent episode on Dec. 30, luring 824,000 viewers in the 18-49 demographic most important to advertisers, according to Live + 3 Day data, which takes into account viewers who tuned in for the initial telecast and over the following three days.
See photos: 10 Outtakes From Bravo’s EmmyWrap Covershoot
That number represents a 29 percent over the show’s performance in the demo for the prior episode.
The telecast, which was the series’ fifth episode, drew 1.4 million total viewers. »
- Tim Kenneally
10 items from 2015
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