Category: Read Before Watching

Read Before Watching – Summer Special v4.0: Syfy Premieres

This is a big week for the cable network that began broadcasting on September 24, 1992, for on July 7th Sci Fi Channel becomes Syfy. Admittedly, I wasn’t too keen on the name change when it was first announced, but now understanding the reasoning behind it (giving the channel it’s own, unique brand) and having had time to let it sink in, I think it was the right move and I kinda like it. To go along with the name change, Syfy has two premieres this week. Hit show Eureka resumes it’s third season after a very long ten months on hiatus and new original series Warehouse 13 arrives with a two-hour debut.

Warehouse 13 – Tuesdays at 9:00PM
First up is Warehouse 13, premiering on July 7th and airing on Tuesdays. The series stars Eddie McClintock as Secret Service agent Pete Lattimer, Joanne Kelly as Pete’s fellow Secret Service agent Myka Bering, Saul Rubinek as Artie Nielsen, with CCH Pounder as Mrs. Fredric and Allison Scagliotti as Claudia Donovan on a recurring basis. Things kick off when off-the-cuff Pete and Myka, his by-the-book partner save the President’s life from a very unusual assassination attempt. As a reward for their unflappability in the face of something possibly mystical or supernatural the two are…recruited by the mysterious Mrs. Fredric who has them reassigned. The pair arrive at a location in the middle of nowhere where they find a nondescript warehouse. They also meet Artie Nielsen, the agent in charge of Warehouse 13. Artie shows Pete and Myka the real Warehouse 13, an underground bunker which houses all of the supernatural objects that the government has procured over the years. And that’s when the agents learn what their new assignment is, to find and take into custody like objects that are still in the wild. With no training, but some nifty equipment via Artie, the two agents set off on their first mission and thus begins the first episode.

Warehouse 13 is one of those shows that may vaguely remind you of other genre series, but it doesn’t pretend to be any of them. It certainly sounds a little X-Files-ish, but it far less creepy and more sure of its direction. It could be a successor to Middleman, but is much less self-deprecatingly campy and never knowingly winks at the audience. In the end, Warehouse 13 is its own show and starts off strongly enough that it doesn’t need t orest on the laurels of classics-gone-by. Besides, it stars Saul Rubinek, which is what sold me on the show sight unseen. The press screener the Syfy sent around did not have completed special effects, graphics or music, which is great as a reviewer as you can really see if the acting and characters can hold of the show without whiz-bang computer graphics. McClintock, Kelly and Rubinek are not rookie actors and they all show that they are more than capable of making their characters believable as well as not looking overly hokey when reacting to things that aren’t there. Rubinek is especially skilled at playing the eccentric Artie that may have spent just a little too much time in the Warehouse. McClintock and Kelly have some great, non-forced chemistry and it will be interesting to see how the their two characters develop together. That’s not to say this episode is without flaws as there are definitely some rough edges here and there. There is some stilted dialog, a convenience here or there in the plot and the main characters could use a little more development, but all those things would only be a deal breaking were this a middle of the season episode. Being the premiere, the roughness should be forgiven. It’s up to the cast and crew to follow this up by quickly cleaning things up and propelling us forward on an interesting ride. I think Warehouse 13 certainly will.

Eureka Season 3.5 – Fridays at 9:00PM
I can’t believe its been ten months, give or take a week or two, since the last new episode of Eureka season three, but Friday, July 10th finally sees the triumphant return of this sorely missed series. I really don’t understand why the channel put Eureka on such a long hiatus. It certainly can’t be good for its ratings or chances of coming back for another season. I sincerely hope these last ten episodes of the third are not the last of the entire series. But I digress (with apologies to Peter David). When last we left things, Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson) had been fired as sheriff of the town and Allison (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) revealed she was pregnant. The first new episode continues from there as Carter’s replacement shows up and Jack and his daughter Zoe face leaving Eureka behind. Of course, being Eureka, something goes scientifically awry and Jack Carter can’t resist getting involved. Those concerned about Carter being reinstated won’t get any confirmation from me, but bear in mind that the next episode, airing July 17th, is not only directed by Colin Ferguson, but the secondary plot heavily involves the former sheriff.

If Syfy had to give Eureka a rest, they at least mark the return with two incredibly strong episodes. Both weeks greatly showcase the things that make this show unique and interesting. Each has a central problem that is intriguing with a satisfying resolution. But what makes Eureka a unique show is that the central mystery is almost a MacGuffin that provides a template for the quirky humor and character interactions we’ve all come to love. The first eight episodes of this season went in a markedly soap opera-esque direction, but thankfully that as been set aside. Every character gets to show who they are and why they are important to the show and the scripts are as sharp, witty and clever as they ever have been. The July 10th mid-season premiere will quickly remind you why you love this show and is like a favorite friend stopping by for an extended visit. Eureka has hit its stride and I hope viewers haven’t forgotten it.

Read Before Watching – Summer Special v3.0

Today I give you a look at three new shows premiering on NBC this Fall, Parenthood, Community and Trauma. Next up is a couple of behind-the-scenes video diaries about The Philanthropist which premieres tonight, June 24th at 10:00PM. Lastly, but not leastly, are a couple of video tributes to Ed McMahon by Conan O’Brien. Check back later this week for another Read Before Watching special where I tell you about my set visit to TNT’s Leverage this week.

PARENTHOOD
Find out everything that makes Parenthood special.

COMMUNITY
Life is full of opportunities.

TRAUMA
Meet the people who run towards danger.

THE PHILANTHROPIST
Go behind the scenes on location for an exclusive look at the making of The Philanthropist.

Video Diary Part 1

Video Diary Part 2

CONAN’S TRIBUTES TO ED MCMAHON

Ed’s Perfect Timing

Quarters with Ed McMahon

Read Before Watching – Summer Special v2.0

Welcome back to another Summer Special edition of Read Before Watching. Today I’m taking a look at a couple of series that are debuting on NBC this week.

Merlin – US Premiere June 21st at 8:00PM
Starring: Colin Morgan as Merlin, Bradley James as Prince Arthur, Richard Wilson as Gaius, Anthony Head as Uther Pendragon, Angel Coulby as Guinevere, Katie McGrath as Morgana and John Hurt as the voice of the The Great Dragon

Synopsis: Merlin is a new drama series that updates the story of the infamous sorcerer of Arthurian legend for a new audience. The mythical city of Camelot, in a time before history began; a fantastical realm of legendary beasts and mysterious people; a dangerous world in which magic has been banned by the ruthless tyrant, Uther Pendragon. When Merlin, a young man gifted with extraordinary magical powers, arrives in the kingdom, he quickly makes enemies including the heir to Uther’s crown, the headstrong Prince Arthur. But guided by Uther’s wise physician Gaius, Merlin is soon using his talents not just to survive but also to unlock Camelot’s mystical secrets. As he does so he discovers that his destiny and that of the kingdom’s young leader in waiting, Arthur, are inextricably linked.

Joe’s Take: Yes, it’s terribly vogue right now, be it in books, film or television, to depict well-known heroes in their younger, formative years. Don’t let that deter you from watching Merlin. All the basics of Arthurian legend are here with a couple of twists here and there. King Uther has banned magic in the kingdom and anyone caught using it is put to death. Makes things slightly tricky for Merlin as he is prone to instinctively react with his innate magical abilities. Guinevere is Morgana’s servant and, at least so far, can’t stand the arrogant Arthur. The narrator and guiding force to Merlin is the Great Dragon, imprisoned beneath Uther’s castle and longing for freedom. The writing tends towards the light side and, of course, the language and concerns of the younger characters are very contemporary. Supported by acting heavy-weights Anthony Head and Richard Wilson (John Hurt provides voicework, thus does not interact with any of the cast, save for Colin Morgan) the younger cast gets to ramp up their own performances. The first two episodes both air on Sunday to make sure to block out two hours. All thirteen first season episodes aired last Fall in Britain to great acclaim and a second batch of thirteen is already well in to production. Look for familiar guest stars including a former member of the Heroes cast in a well-known role.

Bottom line, yea or nay: Joe says yes, definitely.

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The Philanthropist – Premieres June 24th at 10:00PM
Starring: James Purefoy as Teddy Rist, Jesse L. Martin as Philip Maidstone, Neve Campbell as Olivia Maidstone and Michael Kenneth Williams as Dax

Synopsis: The Philanthropist is an eight-part drama that follows the heroic adventures of Teddy Rist, billionaire playboy-turned-vigilante philanthropist. Teddy loves money, women and power, but following a severe flood in a Nigerian town, he is haunted by the memory of a young boy he rescued. Teddy is spontaneous and impulsive and quickly decides to channel his passion, power and money into helping those in need. The danger and risk to his life is the only way Teddy can feel genuinely alive and he’ll do anything in order to achieve his goals and keep the adrenaline pumping; putting his business head and money-making skills to good use through bargaining with the self-righteous, making deals with drug barons, and trading with the nefarious. But these actions are not just about helping others — Teddy is purging his soul to help exorcise the inner demons that have been festering ever since his young son died and he lost everything he truly loved.

Joe’s Take: Not just any show can competently take over the time-slot occupied by ER for a decade and a half, but The Philanthropist certainly has the quality to do so. With only one hour for the premiere I wondered how the whole premise would be properly set-up without being overly talky or lacking action, but the writer uses a clever, believable hook. Essentially, the story is told in flashbacks as Rist tells things to a barmaid over a few drinks. This works surprisingly well and provides a transitional device that cuts out any useless padding. James Purefoy is a very good actor and he is capable of letting you know how much the loss of his son has affected Teddy Rist without making the show dark. The rest of the cast mostly act as supporting roles in this first episode, but you won’t mind. The show is about Teddy Rist after all. The show also has a distinctly different look due to being filmed in South Africa, Mozambique and Prague. The locations, tight script and exceptional acting elevate this well above the usual redemption-premise fare. You’ll be glad you stayed up late for this one.

Bottom line, yea or nay? Joe says two yeses up!

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Read Before Watching – Summer Special v1.0

I have for you some sneak peaks at two shows premiering this Summer and one new Fall show on NBC. First up is The Philanthropist and a behind-the-scenes look at the premiere screening of the pilot in Africa. Next is a two-part preview of Merlin, the hit British series airing in the US on NBC, as well as some talks with the cast. Finally, there’s a preview of Community, a new comedy airing on Thursdays this Fall. Check out the videos and be sure to sound off about these shows in our forums.

THE PHILANTHROPIST – premieres June 24th
Returning to Khayelitsha – Executive Producer Peter Horton takes the team behind The Philanthropist back to Khayelitsha in South Africa for a screening of the Pilot episode.

MERLIN – premieres June 21st
A King’s Castle – The cast discusses the real-life castle that serves as Camelot.

Preview Part One

Preview Part Two

On The Set – The series’ actors and creators discuss the magic and mythmaking of Merlin.

COMMUNITY – Thursdays this Fall
Community – Welcome to the College of Second Chances. Community, coming Thursdays this fall on NBC.

Read Before Watching Extra – Networks Announce 2009-2010 Schedules


The broadcast networks announce their 2009-2010 programming schedules this week and we will be bringing you the announcements as we get them. This article will be constantly updated. For ease of navigation please click on the network logo of your choice below to view their particular schedule. Leave a comment with what you think about the new and canceled shows and we will be providing our take next week.

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FOX
MONDAY
8:00PM HOUSE
9:00PM LIE TO ME
TUESDAY
8:00PM SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Performance Show
WEDNESDAY
8:00PM SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Results Show
9:00PM GLEE
THURSDAY
8:00PM BONES
9:00PM FRINGE
FRIDAY
8:00PM BROTHERS
8:30PM ‘TIL DEATH
9:00PM DOLLHOUSE
SATURDAY
8:00PM COPS
8:30PM COPS
9:00PM AMERICA’S MOST WANTED
11:00PM THE WANDA SYKES SHOW (working title)
Midnight ANIMATION DOMINATION ENCORES
SUNDAY
7:00PM THE OT (NFL post-game)
8:00PM THE SIMPSONS
8:30PM THE CLEVELAND SHOW
9:00PM FAMILY GUY
9:30PM AMERICAN DAD

MID-SEASON ADDITIONS
MONDAY
9:00PM 24
TUESDAY
9:00PM PAST LIFE
WEDNESDAY
9:00PM HUMAN TARGET (January) / GLEE (spring)
SUNDAY
7:00PM ANIMATION DOMINATION ENCORES
7:30PM AMERICAN DAD
8:30PM SONS OF TUCSON
9:30PM THE CLEVELAND SHOW

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ABC
MONDAY
8:00PM DANCING WITH THE STARS Performance Show
10:00PM CASTLE
TUESDAY
8:00PM SHARK TANK
9:00PM DANCING WITH THE STARS Results Show
10:00PM THE FORGOTTEN
WEDNESDAY
8:00PM HANK
8:30PM THE MIDDLE
9:00PM MODERN FAMILY
9:30PM COUGAR TOWN
10:00PM EASTWICK
THURSDAY
8:00PM FLASH FORWARD
9:00PM GREY’S ANATOMY
10:00PM PRIVATE PRACTICE
FRIDAY
8:00PM SUPERNANNY
9:00PM UGLY BETTY
10:00PM 20/20
SATURDAY
8:00PM SATURDAY NIGHT COLLEGE FOOTBALL
SUNDAY
7:00PM AMERICA’S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS
8:00PM EXTREME MAKEOVER: HOME EDITION
9:00PM DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES
10:00PM BROTHERS & SISTERS

MID-SEASON ADDITIONS
MONDAY
8:00PM THE BACHELOR
TUESDAY
9:00PM SCRUBS
9:30PM BETTER OFF TED
WEDNESDAY
9:00PM LOST

NOT YET SCHEDULED
THE DEEP END
HAPPY TOWN
V

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NBC
MONDAY
8:00PM HEROES
9:00PM TRAUMA
10:00PM THE JAY LENO SHOW
TUESDAY
8:00PM THE BIGGEST LOSER
10:00PM THE JAY LENO SHOW
WEDNESDAY
8:00PM PARENTHOOD
9:00PM LAW & ORDER: SVU
10:00PM THE JAY LENO SHOW
THURSDAY
8:00PM COMMUNITY
8:30PM PARKS AND RECREATION
9:00PM THE OFFICE
9:30PM 30 ROCK
10:00PM THE JAY LENO SHOW
FRIDAY
8:00PM LAW & ORDER
9:00PM SOUTHLAND
10:00PM THE JAY LENO SHOW
SATURDAY
8:00PM DATELINE NBC
9:00PM TRAUMA (encore broadcast)
10:00PM LAW & ORDER: SVU (encore broadcast)
SUNDAY
7:00PM FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA
8:20PM NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

MID-SEASON ADDITIONS
(2010 WINTER OLYMPICS preempt regularly scheduled programming from February 12-28, 2010)
MONDAY
8:00PM CHUCK
9:00PM DAY ONE
TUESDAY
9:30PM 100 QUESTIONS
WEDNESDAY
8:00PM MERCY

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CBS
MONDAY
8:00PM HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
8:30PM ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE
9:00PM TWO AND A HALF MEN
9:30PM THE BIG BANG THEORY
10:00PM CSI: MIAMI
TUESDAY
8:00PM NCIS
9:00PM NCIS: LOS ANGELES
10:00PM THE GOOD WIFE
WEDNESDAY
8:00PM NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE
8:30PM GARY UNMARRIED
9:00PM CRIMINAL MINDS
10:00PM CSI:NY
THURSDAY
8:00PM SURVIVOR
9:00PM CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION
10:00PM THE MENTALIST
FRIDAY
8:00PM GHOST WHISPERER
9:00PM MEDIUM
10:00PM NUMB3RS
SATURDAY
8:00PM
9:00PM
10:00PM 48 HOURS MYSTERY
SUNDAY
7:00PM 60 MINUTES
8:00PM THE AMAZING RACE
9:00PM THREE RIVERS
10:00PM COLD CASE

MID-SEASON ADDITIONS
MIAMI TRAUMA
THE BRIDGE
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
UNDERCOVER BOSS
ARRANGED MARRIAGE

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The CW
MONDAY
8:00PM GOSSIP GIRL
9:00PM ONE TREE HILL
TUESDAY
8:00PM 90210
9:00PM MELROSE PLACE
WEDNESDAY
8:00PM AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL
9:00PM BEAUTIFUL LIFE
THURSDAY
8:00PM VAMPIRE DIARIES
9:00PM SUPERNATURAL
FRIDAY
8:00PM SMALLVILLE

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