Friday, September 23, 2011

Preview: Kitchen Nightmares

Just when you think you won't see chef Gordon Ramsay for a while, he's back. Which is a good thing. No, a great thing. Of the four Ramsay shows that I know of, including Gordon Ramsay's F Word on BBC America, Kitchen Nightmares is the best.

The show's new season premieres on Fox on Friday at 8pm.

In Nightmares, Ramsay visits struggling restaurants around the country and - after some vomiting, screaming and loads of crying - the restaurant, and the lives of the restaurant owners, is turned around. In the season premiere, that restaurant is Blackberry's in NJ. Hugs. It's great.

Click here to watch a preview.

Preview: Boardwalk Empire

Director Martin Scorsese snagged an Emmy Award on Sunday for directing last year's pilot episode of HBO's brilliant, moody, fantastic Boardwalk Empire. He deserved it, and the show -- about the mob in prohibition-era Atlantic City -- deserves whatever awards it's given.

The second season of Boardwalk, starring Steve Buscemi, kicks off on Sunday at 9pm. Check out the preview.

Review: A Gifted Man

In the wrong hands, this premise could turn laughable and mawkish, writes Rob Owen in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. But series writer/creator Susannah Grant and director Jonathan Demme ("The Silence of the Lambs") manage to ground the show in a way that makes it both believable and heartfelt.

A Gifted Man is the most romantic, emotionally resonant fall TV series pilot.

Fall TV Preview: Desperate Housewives vs. The Good Wife

Fridays this fall will be competitive. Fox's Kitchen Nightmares will likely to do well early in the eveving while CBS will appeal to an adult audience with CSI: NY, according to TV researchers Steve Sternberg and Shari Anne Brill.
Desperate Housewives

But the big battle is shaping up on Sundays when CBS's glorious The Good Wife moves to compete head to head with, ruh roh, ABC's Desperate Housewives. It may just be a draw with ABC attracting a slightly younger audience.

Click Read More for more of Steve and Shari's analysis.

This is an excerpt from Steve and Shari's Primetime TV Insight - Fall Preview Edition. For more information about the report, contact Shari Anne Brill at

Order by October 3 for a 20% discount for the five-report series ($1,440 with discount). Click here and use Discount Code SAB20.

Preview: Fox's Animation Domination Block

American Dad
For some reason, in the deepest, darkest days of summer, I start missing Fox's Sunday night animated shows -- more than pretty much any other TV show. It makes no sense, I know. Shows like American Dad and Family Guy repeat like crazy, and you can catch them on cable TV, too.

Still, I long for fresh animation meat and it's delivered this Sunday -- The Simpsons, The Cleveland Show, Family Guy and American Dad. And, I have to admit, while I still love Family Guy, it's American Dad that I miss most of all.

Preview: Placido Domingo - My Favorite Roles

Placido Domingo, the legendary tenor, looks back at his career in Placido Domingo: My Favorite Roles on PBS (Friday, Sept. 23 at 9pm). Click Read More below for a full description from PBS.

Watch the full episode. See more Great Performances.

Preview: All My Children - Series Finale

Susan Lucci
After 41 years, ABC's kicking daytime soap All My Children to the curb. Today at 1pm/12pm Central is the final episode, although the show will continue with new online episodes.
Still, that's not quite the same, is it? While I can say that I have never watched soap operas, it's sad to see them go. Why? Because soaps represent something about America that we will never have again. And that's sad, even though I'm all for moving along and getting on with things.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Stats: So-So Debut for The X Factor

The X Factor
Fox's The X Factor, the singing competition show that reunites judges Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul, got off to a strong start last night. But, so far, it's not a dominating smash.

Fox ranked No. 2 for the night with 12.1 million viewers on Wednesday, with the two-hour debut episode of The X Factor, according to Nielsen overnight ratings.

CBS ranked No. 1 with 12.3 million viewers. ABC was No. 3 with 11.4 million - ABC had season premieres of The Middle, Modern Family and the Revenge series premiere.

Among adults 18-49, The X Factor ranked No. 1 from 8pm-9pm, but trailed Modern Family at 9pm.

Recap: The X Factor

Before I get to a few complaints about The X Factor, I love this show. Hook, line and sinker. I'm sold. Now, my complaints. First, Cheryl Cole should have stayed, and a I want her back. Second, it was hard not to feel like I was watching American Idol.

Now, the real recap. The X Factor started a bit wobbly. The auditions felt a lot like the worst of American Idol, particularly when an elderly couple was the butt of the jokes. Ugh. The show worked, and much more so, when it was doing what creator and judge Simon Cowell has been saying it would - raising the bar on singing competition shows.

Preview: Fox News-Google GOP Debate

Tonight on Fox News (live, 9pm Eastern), the Fox News-Google GOP Debate has republican candidates for president answering questions from regular folks via YouTube.

Hosted by Fox News' Bret Baier, this debate could get interesting. Texas governor Rick Perry is scrambling to defend his record on immigration (see Hannity clip below). Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney--trailing Perry in the polls--is likely to come out swinging. And Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann--already a live wire--is very likely to lose it since her bid to become president is in free fall.

Review: Prime Suspect

Developed by Alexandra Cunningham and Lynda La Plante, [Prime Suspect - NBC, 10pm] doesn’t reach the heights of the British original, which doubled as a dark character study and an anatomy of criminal intent, writes Matthew Gilbert in the Boston Globe.

To do that, the Prime Suspect remake would probably need to be on cable. But it is a solid weekly procedural, with a bevy of strong performers in addition to [Maria] Bello.

Fall TV Preview: Thursdays Mostly Go to CBS and Fox

The Big Bang Theory
CBS and Fox will duke it out most of the night on Thursdays this fall, with Fox's The X Factor and CBS's The Big Bang Theory generating the night's biggest ratings, according to TV research vets Steve Sternberg and Shari Anne Brill.

ABC will do well with the long-running drama Grey's Anatomy and NBC will be competitive with Prime Suspect. But, in additon to Big Bang, CBS has other hits, including The Mentalist, and likely the new Persons of Interest, giving the net the edge.

Click Read More for more of Steve and Shari's analysis.

This is an excerpt from Steve and Shari's Primetime TV Insight - Fall Preview Edition. For more information about the report, contact Shari Anne Brill at

Order by October 3 for a 20% discount for the five-report series ($1,440 with discount). Click here and use Discount Code SAB20.

Review: Whitney

Whitney Cummings already has scored with viewers this fall as co-creator of one of the year's most promising sitcoms, CBS' 2 Broke Girls, which had a blockbuster (albeit Two and a Half Men return-inflated) opening on Monday, writes Robert Bianco in USA Today.

What a shame she felt the need to lessen our affection with Whitney.

Review: Person of Interest

Person of Interest, the new thriller from Jonathan Nolan and J.J. Abrams that premieres Thursday on CBS, proves, once again, that a great idea for a television show is not at all the same thing as a great television show, writes Mary McNamara in the Los Angeles Times.

The central conceit of Person of Interest, which smartly mines post-9/11 anxieties, is that crimes can now be detected before they are committed, as in 2002's "Minority Report," only without the damp and distressing pre-cogs. In their place is a computer program, designed by the mysterious Mr. Finch (Michael Emerson), a billionaire genius.

Stats: TV Ratings Recap

It doesn't seem like the summer TV season ended just a few days ago, does it? Not will all the excitement of the fall TV season getting underway, it doesn't.
Up All Night

Still, the last week of the summer season was exciting, too. NBC's Sunday Night Football crushed the competition with an audience of 23.4 million viewers, according to Nielsen. Plus, there were plenty of other shows that did well, too.

NBC's America's Got Talent ended its season with more than 14 million people tuning in. The Primetime Emmy Awards on Fox pulled in more than 12 million people. And NBC's new sitcom, Up All Night, impressed with just about 11 million people checking it out.

Click on Stats for detailed Nielsen ratings.

News: The Death of Michael Jackson: Dr. Conrad Murray on Trial

Conrad Murray
Photo: Jason Redmond/AP
HLN's exhaustive coverage of the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, who may have killed Michael Jackson, begins in earnest this week and reaches a frenzy next week, with virtually all-day coverage, when the trial begins.

From HLN:

Review: Charlie's Angels

Now Flower Films has teamed up with “Smallville” creators Alfred Goughz and Miles Millarz to launch the latest incarnation of Charlie's Angels on the 35th anniversary of its original debut, so says Matt Movieman in Too bad the ladies’ clipped wings already appear primed for cancellation.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Stats: 10 Million Watch New Girl

New Girl was seen by 10.1 million viewers [Tuesday] at 9 p.m. and delivered a strong 4.7 adults 18-49 rating, according to Entertainment Weekly.

That’s the highest-rated fall sitcom premiere on Fox since The Bernie Mac Show 10 years ago. What’s particularly impressive about this number is how much the comedy built from its Glee third season premiere lead in. Glee (8.9 million, 3.8) was down 32 percent from its first episode last fall, yet New Girl was up a whopping 52 percent from the debut of Raising Hope in its slot last year. Speaking of Hope (6.8 million, 3.1), the second season of the comedy successfully matched its first season premiere rating at 9:30 p.m.

Preview: The X Factor

The closer we get to the highly anticipated, highly PR-ed debut of Fox's The X Factor (8pm), the more it feels like Christmas in TV land. Sure, it may prove to be nothing more than American Idol in the fall. But that wouldn't be so bad, would it?

Creator and judge Simon Cowell is promising a higher caliber of performers, though. And, in fact, he's entangled in a legal dispuit with the team behind Idol, so he hasn't been shy about suggesting that Idol, well, is awful by comparion.

Joining Cowell are judges Paula Abdul (no drinky, Paula), L.A. Reid and Nicole Scherzinger -- she replaced Brit singer Cheryl Cole (who's fabulous...and angry! She recently blew up a Simon Cowell doll in the desert). Steve Jones hosts.

The two-hour premiere kicks off tonight and, here at TVFirstLook, the workday is turning into a blur that's just leading us to Fox at 8pm.

Preview: The Middle and Modern Family

Modern Family
A couple of years ago, when Modern Family (click Read More to watch a clip) was still finding an audience, I happened to be at a party in Las Vegas where the cast, led by Ed O'Neill, was trotted around by their people and pretty much touted as the saviors of the Great American Sitcom.

I scoffed. How could they possibly know what a show, then so young and still finding its footing, would become in the future? I hate predictions. They're never right.

Review: Revenge

Intriguing and genuinely fun – though you worry about its long-term appeal – is ABC’s Revenge, starring Emily VanCamp (Everwood, Brothers & Sisters) as a young girl who returns to the Hamptons to exact – you guessed it – revenge on all the people who wronged her father when she was growing up there -- Tim Goodman from The Hollywood Reporter.

Preview: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

The new season of CBS's long-running CSI: Crime Scene Investigation debuts tonight at 10pm. While it can be argued that, after 250 episodes, the show is struggling to remain interesting, it may actually be interesting again.

Ted Danson, who built up loads of credibility on Damages, joins the cast as D. B. Russell - a Sherlock Holmes-type investigator who has a knack for keen observation.

Preview: Pre-Season NHL Hockey

NBC's Versus sports network kicks off pre-season hockey tonight (7pm Eastern), with 100 regular season games set to launch later this fall. Check out the pre-season schedule below and click here for the regular season NHL schedule on NBC networks.

VERSUS NHL preseason schedule (all times ET and subject to change):

Wednesday, September 21 Toronto at Philadelphia 7 p.m.

Monday, September 26 Rangers at Philadelphia 7 p.m.

Wednesday, September 28 Detroit at Chicago 8:30 p.m.

Thursday, September 29 New Jersey at Philadelphia 7 p.m.

Fall TV Preview: Wednesdays Belong to Fox

The fall TV season gets really interesting tonight as Wednesday is easily one of the most competitive and unpredictable nights on TV. Most of America is waiting to watch Fox's The X Factor, from former American Idol judge Simon Cowell.

Will it be the gigantic hit that just about everyone is expecting? TV researchers Steve Sternberg and Shari Anne Brill think it will be. They are predicting that Fox will dominate on Wedndesdays, but with ABC competitive with its Modern Family-anchored comedy block. Plus, CBS will hold its own with Survivor.
The X Factor
As for NBC, well, it may just be curtains for Harry's Law. Click Read More for more of Steve and Shari's analysis.

This is an excerpt from Steve and Shari's Primetime TV Insight - Fall Preview Edition. For more information about the report, contact Shari Anne Brill at

Order by October 3 for a 20% discount for the five-report series ($1,440 with discount). Click here and use Discount Code SAB20.

Preview: Restaurant Impossible

Restaurant Impossible
Tonight is arguably the most competitive, most exciting night on television so far this year, with Fox's The X Factor debuting and ABC's Modern Family airing a one-hour season premiere.

So, no doubt, Food Network's ongoing Restaurant Impossible (10pm) will likey get lost in the shuffle. It shouldn't.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Stats: 28 Million Watch Two and a Half Men

Two and a Half Men
From CBS: The highly-anticipated season premiere of Two and a Half Men, featuring the first episode with Ashton Kutcher, delivered the series' largest audience and best adult 18-49 rating ever, leading CBS to a Monday win in adults 18-49 and adults 25-54, according to Nielsen preliminary live plus same day ratings for Sept. 19.

Leading off the night, How I Met Your Mother was first in adults 25-54 (5.3/13), adults 18-49 (4.7/13), adults 18-34 (4.3/13), second in households (6.9/11) and viewers (11.26m). HIMYM posted its best delivery ever with a season premiere in viewers, adults 25-54, adults 18-49 and adults 18-34.

Review: Workaholics

Comedy Central's Workaholics is one of those shows that you stumble upon, in a happy accident, on your way to, well, something else.

To appreciate Workaholics, it helps to have been a 20-ish-old guy at some point. But it's not a deal-breaker if you weren't. It also helps if, at some point, you lived in L.A. and realized that getting motivated to go to work when it's sunny and 78 degrees is sometimes a futile effort. Sitting on your roof drinking beer with friends can very easily sound like a better idea.

In Workaholics, Blake Anderson, Anders Holm and Adam Devine are three friends who work together--as telemarketers--and live together. At work, they do remarkably little, except annoy their boss. And, like in tonight's second season premiere (Comedy Central, 10:30pm), they leave work in pursuit of some high school kids who stole their dragon.

What follows is a serious power play, where the guys end up paying the guy who pooped in their pool $5 bucks to go a party in their own house. The show, at times strained by thin storylines, is witty, funny and a whole lot of fun.

Click Read More to watch a preview.

Recap: Hell's Kitchen

Fox's Hell's Kitchen, with chef Gordon Ramsay, wrapped up its ninth season last night.

The winner?

Paul Niedermann, the 26-year-old who was sometimes pushy, often arrogant but almost always a promising chef.

Review: The New Girl

Zooey Deschanel
From its infancy, TV has had funny ladies to help power its sitcoms, from Lucille Ball through such diverse talents as Mary Tyler Moore, Bea Arthur and Roseanne, all the way up to Patricia Heaton, Tina Fey and Julie Bowen, writes Robert Bianco in USA Today.

If tonight's New Girl debut is a fair indication, that list may add a name: Zooey Deschanel.

Review: Unforgettable

[Unforgettable], which has its premiere on Tuesday on CBS, is called “Unforgettable,” and because the structure and plot points are so familiar, whether it succeeds will depend largely on the appeal of its star, Poppy Montgomery, writes Neil Genzlinger in the New York Times. And she’s reasonably appealing, at least in the pilot.

Fall TV Preview: Tuesdays Belong to CBS, Fox and ABC

Tuesdays this fall will be great for TV viewers, no matter your age. CBS will attract the older audience with NCIS and Fox will do well among the younger crowd with Glee, according to Steve Sternberg and Shari Anne Brill.

The TV researchers are predicting that CBS will do best with the long-running hit, NCIS. ABC will do well, too, with Dancing with the Stars, while Fox has Glee and NBC has The Biggest Loser.

This is an excerpt from Steve and Shari's Primetime TV Insight - Fall Preview Edition. For more information about the report, contact Shari Anne Brill at

Order by October 3 for a 20% discount for the five-report series ($1,440 with discount). Click here and use Discount Code SAB20.

Click Read More to continue with their analysis.

Preview: Tosh.0

Comedy Central's Tosh.0 returns tonight at 10pm with a new episode. Daniel Tosh finally selects a college to visit -- he's been asking schools to submit videos all summer long.

The winner? Arizona State University, which submitted exactly zero videos. Daniel stops by and has, you know, thousands upon thousands of crazed college kids running after him, chasing him down, screaming, following his commands and, of course, watching funny videos.

Review: Raising Hope

Raising Hope
If you didn't watch Fox's Raising Hope last season -- and you really should have as it was one of the few bright spots in the otherwise disappointing 2010-11 TV season -- by all means get on board when the show returns for its second season at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, writes Rob Owen in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Not only does the season premiere offer a recap that restates the show's premise, it also serves as an homage to a sitcom titan.

News: Coldplay Live on Letterman

The fantastic Brit group Coldplay -- moody, piano-y, fantastic -- is playing a live set tonight at 8pm Eastern / 5pm Pacific on the Live on Letterman webcast.
From CBS: Fans can watch the Coldplay webcast live or on-demand at

In addition, the show is available live and on-demand through CBS properties, broadcast on select CBS RADIO stations, viewable live on CBS's JumboTron in Times Square, as well as via a live audio stream on's mobile applications. The webcasts are also offered through VEVO's website, mobile and connected devices and syndication partners.

Monday, September 19, 2011

News: 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards Winners

Jane Lynch
Last night's 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards on Fox, with host Jane Lynch, probably won't go down in history as particularly memorable or particularly terrible--despite a pretty bad (and long) opening number.

As it turned out, Jane Lynch is a decent host, although I wouldn't expect to see her back. And the show itself was slicker than slick. It sped by in a hurry and, awkward moments aplenty, it was quite entertaining.

Most important, though, the Emmy Awards reaffirmed that they get it right when it comes to rewarding the best shows on TV. The night's big winners: ABC's fantastic comedy, Modern Family, and PBS's incredible miniseries, Downton Abbey.

Check out the Primetime Emmy winners here.

Preview: Dancing with the Stars

Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke
There's nothing quite like Dancing with the Stars when it comes to having a fun, happy couple of hours in front of the TV set.

The Fall TV Season kicks off tonight with a slew of new and returning shows. But, here at TVFirstLook, we're most looking forward to a few of the celebs on the 13th cycle of Dancing, mostly Chaz Bono and Nancy Grace ("please have a meltdown, Nancy, please...").

ABC tonight at 8pm. Click Read More to see a rundown of this season's stars, plus a video preview.

Review: The Playboy Club

There is, no doubt, a tantalizing drama to be made about the early years of the Playboy Club, about the women who worked there and the men who patronized it, about Playboy's influence on the sexual revolution and the often very fine line between sexual liberation and sexual exploitation, writes Mary McNamara in the Los Angeles Times.

But NBC's The Playboy Club ain't it.

Fall TV Preview: CBS has the Edge on Mondays

CBS's Two and a Half Men
TV research veterans, Steve Sternberg and Shari Anne Brill, are making predictions about the fall TV season for TVFirstLook.
First up is Mondays. Serious competition is unfolding at 8pm, with ABC's huge hit, Dancing with the Stars, competing with NBC's underdog, The Sing-Off, and Steven Spielberg's highly anticipated Fox drama, Terra Nova (premiere: September 26).
Click Read More to see their predictions for which TV networks and which TV shows will do best on Mondays this fall. Hint: Charlie Sheen, you may not be winning.

This is an excerpt from Steve and Shari's Primetime TV Insight - Fall Preview Edition. For more information about the report, contact Shari Anne Brill at

Order by October 3 for a 20% discount for the five-report series ($1,440 with discount). Click here and use Discount Code SAB20.

Review: 2 Broke Girls

If CBS isn't breaking the mold with 2 Broke Girls, which gets a special preview Monday night at 9:30 before slipping back into its regular 8:30 slot next week — well, who really thought it would, writes Robert Bianco in USA Today.

This isn't a show designed, or a network inclined, to push envelopes. It's built to fit into an already solid lineup, and with some qualifications, that's pretty much what it does.

Preview: Dr. Drew's Lifechangers

The ubiquitious Dr. Drew Pinsky jumps into daytime talk with Dr. Drew's Lifechangers (The CW, 3pm). On the show, the good doctor helps people transform their lives.

Not sure when Dr. Drew's Lifechangers in on by you? Click here.

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Preview: The Sing-Off

Trust me, no one is more excited about Fox's The X Factor premiering this week than me. Let's face it, it's either going to be great or an epic fail (I'm hoping for great). It's going to be grandiose, huge, a spectacle.

Which, by comparison, makes NBC's third season premiere of The Sing-Off (8pm) so refreshingly, well, down to earth--just a capella groups singing. The groups are competing for $200,000 and a Sony Music contract. It's hosted by Nick Lachey.

News: All My Children - Final Week

From ABC: All My Children is ending its much-beloved 41-year run this month, and The View is sending the series off in style with an entire episode devoted to the show on September 23.
Susan Lucci as Erica kane

Susan Lucci herself will co-host, along with Whoopi, Elisabeth, Sherri and Joy. Also in attendance will be AMC's legendary creator Agnes Nixon and executive producer Julie Carruthers, Cameron Mathison ("Ryan"), Rebecca Budig ("Greenlee") and Vincent Irizarry ("David"), as well as numerous surprise guests!

There will also be exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of the final days of taping All My Children, so if you are a fan, this is an episode you're not going to want to miss.

Preview: Hell's Kitchen - Season Finale

If chef Gordon Ramsay didn't have countless shows on Fox and BBC America, I'd been mighty sad to report that Hell's Kitchen wraps up tonight. The two-hour blowout starts at 8pm.

No matter how many shows the shout-y Scottish footballer has, I never grow tired of him. Not because I am so amused by his screaming and his berating people (although, there is that). But because, ultimately, he's an extremely talented chef who knows how to coax the best out of up-and-coming chefs, and gain their respect and appreciation while doing it.

Review: The Strange History of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

A new documentary about the serpentine history of the [Don't Ask, Don't Tell] policy, airing at 12 midnight Monday and [8pm] on Tuesday on HBO, is valuable, writes David Wiegand in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Strange History of Don't Ask, Don't Tell details not only how the policy was implemented but also how much harm it caused individual lives and careers, and perhaps the military itself.

Although filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Wishful Drinking) present both sides of the debate over gays in the military, theirs is not an unbiased film - those who think gays have no business serving openly will probably remained unconvinced by Strange History.

Preview: Eureka - Summer Season Finale

The final season of Syfy's Eureka isn't over, yet (thankfully). But the second half of the season doesn't return until 2012.

Tonight's summer season finale (Syfy 8pm) finds Jack (Colin Ferguson) battling black holes and a mysterious energy over the Pacific Northwest town of Eureka--a secret government hangout for the world's most geniusy geniuses.