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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 137: 'Perception,' 'Hit & Miss,' listener mail & more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 137: 'Perception,' 'Hit & Miss,' listener mail & more

Dan and Alan also answer reader questions about 'The Newsroom' and 'Cheers'

The

Time for the first of two installments this week for the  Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, as Dan and I talk about TNT's "Perception" and the American premiere of "Hit & Miss," as well as checking in on a highlight and lowlight of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" season 1, and dipping into the mailbag to talk Aaron Sorkin and "Cheers." We'll be back on Wednesday or Thursday with another one of our wildly popular road trip podcasts, this time to discuss "Breaking Bad," USA's "Political Animals," and more.

The line-up: 

"Perception" (00:02:00 - 00:14:45)
"Hit & Miss" (00:14:45 - 00:27:25)
Listener Mail - Reviewing shows (00:28:00 - 00:33:15)
Listener Mail - Writerly tics (00:33:20 - 00:39:49)
Listener Mail - Why "Cheers" still looks good (00:39:50 - 00:48:00)
Two "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" episodes (00:48:15 - 01:12:50)
 
As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.
 
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
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<p>Beyonce's poem to Frank Ocean</p>

Beyonce's poem to Frank Ocean

Credit: beyonce.com

Beyonce, Jay-Z support Frank Ocean in open letters; R&B singer drops 'Sweet Life'

Outpouring of support from rising R&B star's 'outed' sexuality

After R&B crooner Frank Ocean came out as gay last week, there has been an outpouring of support fromt he urban music community, including some from another R&B pop star, Beyonce.

Bey posted an open letter -- OK, more of an open picture -- on her website to Frank Ocean with handwritten encouragements over his photo. Check the note below.

""Be fearless. Be honest. Be generous. Be brave. Be poetic. Be open. Be free. Be yourself. Be in love. Be happy. Be inspiration.," she wrote on Saturday.

Queen B's husband Jay-Z also wrote a note of support on his Life + Times website under the post "Thank You, Frank Ocean."

"Your relieving yourself of your 'secret' is as much about wanting to honestly connect as it is about exhibition. We are all made better by your decision to share publicly," the rapper wrote.

Another singer, Anthony Hamilton told GlobalGrind in an interview, "[Ocean's] creative, doesn't matter if it's his album or whatever album he puts his talent to, it'll be OK. I think he's creative enough and clever enough to go with what's needed - to adjust to whatever the climate is in the music business."

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<p>Steve Buscemi and the rest of the &quot;Boardwalk Empire&quot;&nbsp;gang will be back in September.</p>

Steve Buscemi and the rest of the "Boardwalk Empire" gang will be back in September.

Credit: HBO

HBO announces 'Boardwalk Empire' and 'Treme' season premiere dates

Both dramas to return in September

HBO has announced September premiere dates for the third seasons of "Boardwalk Empire" and "Treme."

"Boardwalk Empire" has aired on Sundays in the fall throughout its run, and that pattern will hold when the third season begins on Sunday, September 16 at 9 p.m. The major addition to the cast will be character actor Bobby Cannavale.

"Treme," meanwhile, aired both of its first two seasons in the spring, but HBO decided to shift it to fall this time around. It will debut on Sunday, September 23 at 10 p.m.

(Note that "Boardwalk" debuts a week before the Emmys and 8 days before the start of the network TV season, while "Treme" will premiere opposite the Emmy telecast.)

While "Boardwalk" has been a ratings success for HBO and seems likely to stick around for quite a while, "Treme" may or may not be entering its final season. Creator David Simon has pitched HBO on plans for a fourth season to conclude the series, but no decision has been made yet.

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<p>Cover art for the &quot;Margaret&quot; DVD/Blu-ray</p>

Cover art for the "Margaret" DVD/Blu-ray

Credit: Fox Home Entertainment

Lonergan's extended 'Margaret' is an even richer experience

How do you improve the year's best movie?

Two versions of Kenneth Lonergan's "Margaret" finally reach a large audience tomorrow as the film makes its way to DVD/Blu-ray. Included will be the theatrical cut of the film and an extended (not "director's") cut.

Speaking last week with Eric Kohn at indieWIRE (which will be hosting a special New York screening of the extended cut tonight), Lonergan said, "It was nice to have the liberty to explore and go into depth in certain areas I felt were interesting to touch on and suggest in the theatrical release…it's unusual to have the chance to do both of your ideas for a project instead of picking just one."

Indeed, the extended version was a way for Lonergan to explore his ideas for the film outside of the constraints of a 150-minute time limit he agreed upon with the studio. It doesn't turn the film into a new experience per se, but I feel like it injects more patience into the overall design and structure of the narrative. And to me, it's a better movie.

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<p>Ernest Borgnine in his Oscar-winning role as &quot;Marty.&quot;</p>

Ernest Borgnine in his Oscar-winning role as "Marty."

Credit: United Artists

On Ernest Borgnine's conflicted awards history

He won an Oscar for 'Marty,' so why does 'Brokeback Mountain' feature in his obits?

It was Walter Matthau who explained to Ellen Burstyn, upon handing her the Best Actress Oscar she hadn't been present to accept days earlier, that the chief difference the award would make to her career was this: "When you die, the newspaper obituaries will say, 'The Academy Award-winning actress Ellen Burstyn died today.'"

It's a famous quip, one that is proven true virtually every time a former Oscar-winner -- or even a nominee -- dies, even when their celebrity is such that a puny golden statuette hardly seems their most culturally significant achievement. In the case of a character actor like Ernest Borgnine, who passed away over the weekend at the decidedly ripe age of 95, that single Academy Award win is an essential elevating prefix: "Marty," the modest 1955 character study for which he won, may not be the most widely seen work of his career, but the Best Actor Oscar it reaped remains a validating distinction for the kind of valuable anti-star on whom obituarists don't always spend too much column space.

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<p>Breathe Carolina</p>

Breathe Carolina

Credit: Sean Hagwell

Song of the Day Exclusive: Breathe Carolina's 'Hit and Run' Wideboys remix

Monday morning dance-off

Over the last year, electro-pop rockers Breathe Carolina has made some huge strides. They earned a Hot 100 hit with "Blackout," made it to No. 2 on Top Electronic Albums with latest set "Hell Is What You Make It," joined the Warped Tour in a top spot and signed to Columbia.

Tomorrow (July 10), "Hell Is What You Make It" is getting a digital deluxe "Reloaded" reissue. Included in the set -- via iTunes -- is a hot revamp their dance floor banger "Hit and Run" by the Wideboys. For those playing at home, the British House collective Wideboys have left their stamp on remixes from Rihanna and Beyonce to Cascada and Eric Prydz.

Below, you can check out the exclusive premiere of the jam, which has adds more jagged edges and glittery stops to Breathe Carolina's wild-eyed formula.

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Nelsan Ellis in 'True Blood'

Nelsan Ellis is a lonely Lafayette on "True Blood"

Credit: HBO

'True Blood' recap: Death comes calling in 'Let's Boot and Rally'

A long-awaited return and a dramatic exit?

Is it wrong to feel a little bit excited we may have lost one member of the absurdly large "True Blood" ensemble tonight? Probably. But only because with the amount of fake outs and close calls on this show it's less likely someone was killed than just seriously injured.

Whoever did or didn't die this week, it was a typically busy, busy, busy episode with lots of movement on all story fronts, but little in the way of standout moments. Let's break it down...

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<p>Eric McCormack of &quot;Perception&quot;</p>

Eric McCormack of "Perception"

Credit: TNT

Interview: 'Perception' star Eric McCormack discusses his twisty TNT drama

'Will & Grace' veteran knows just how much to spoil
For months now, TNT has been urging critics to say as little as possible about the new drama "Perception," for fear of spoiling the show's various twists.
 
Because most of those twists center on Eric McCormack's character, Dr. Daniel Pierce, I was wary that when I got on the phone with the Emmy-winning actor he might be cagey or entirely silent about his new role. 
 
Fortunately, McCormack is a pro and he has found a very good approach to revealing and discussing certain aspects of the "Perception" backdrop without giving away the entire store.
 
"I would love the idea that I can tell people honestly that this is a show about a brilliant professor who gets involved with his ex-student and helps her solve crimes for the FBI," says McCormack, recently seen on Broadway in "The Best Man." "If that's all you know, I think there are some really fun, interesting, surprising things in store."
 
If that's all you want to know about "Perception," you probably don't want to read this interview before Monday's (July 9) premiere. 
 
If, however, you want to hear more about McCormack's approach to Pierce's eccentricities, his eagerness to serve as a producer on "Perception" and getting audiences to move beyond Will Truman, click through...
 
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<p>Sam Waterston in &quot;The Newsroom.&quot;</p>

Sam Waterston in "The Newsroom."

Credit: HBO

Review: 'The Newsroom' - 'The 112th Congress'

Will takes on the Tea Party

A review of tonight's "The Newsroom" coming up just as soon as the best analogy I can use is "Rocky II"...

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<p>Kristin Kreuk and Jay Ryan of &quot;Beauty and the Beast&quot;</p>

Kristin Kreuk and Jay Ryan of "Beauty and the Beast"

Credit: The CW

Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Beauty and the Beast'

The CW has given its best time slot to its worst new show

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show: "Beauty and the Beast" (The CW)
The Pitch: Unfortunately, the pitch isn't the problem, so I have nothing to say. They wanted to remake "Beauty and the Beast" for a new generation. I have no problems with that. But the pitch was probably "Let's do 'Beauty and the Beast,' but ours is gonna be more like 'Beauty and The Hot Guy With Anger Issues."
Quick Response: Like I said, the pitch wasn't the problem. The problem with "Beauty and the Beast" is the execution on absolutely every level. But even that, I can forgive. As I often say: Sometimes, pilots just don't work. It happens. And when a pilot fails as badly as "Beauty and the Beast" fails, you simply don't send it to series and you don't air it and you move on. In the pilot process, misses are part of the business. But I look at the "Beauty and the Beast" pilot and there's no element here that I can imagine future improvements being built around. I can't latch onto a source of hope. The adaptation of the basic premise is ludicrous and unimaginative: Something about military experiments and cross-species DNA and zzzzz. Kristin Kreuk, while unquestionably fulfilling the basic edict of playing the "beauty" in the title, is otherwise hilariously miscast. You know who won't laugh when her Catherine bursts through a door yelling, "NYPD. I've got a warrant"? Nobody, that's who. It's hilarious. And not intentionally so. And the interpretation of The Beast? Possibly even funnier than Kristin Kreuk as a badass Manhattan cop. As played by Jay Ryan -- yet another New Zealand actor with strong cheekbones and no clue how to do an American accent -- this alleged "beast" is basically unbeastly in every way. He has a scar, but not a scar that would impact his ability to be on the cover of Tiger Beat. Seriously, somebody with a bad haircut would be more aesthetically handicapped than this guy. Sometimes he kinda hulks out, but that's hilarious, too. The script is nothing but cliches strung together. A character actually walks in on a character believed to be dead and says, "You look pretty good for a dead guy." Ugh. If you're a writer in 2012 and you write a line like that without any irony or self-awareness... That's bad. And because nothing in the pilot really illustrates the story's core theme -- Because The Beast is a ripped hottie, Beauty hardly blinks before she starts getting naughty feelings in his presence -- somebody has to actually say, "Sometimes things aren't as they seem. You can't tell who the real monsters are." Does that mean that the hot vigilante hero might ACTUALLY turn out to be a beast, rather than just a misunderstood "Magic Mike" reject with some mutated genes? No. Probably not. The action in the present is cheap-looking and ridiculous. The mythology-driven stuff from Catherine's past (and Vincent's past) isn't involving in the slightest. I don't know what anybody involved, including usually sturdy director Gary Fleder and all of the top brass at The CW, were thinking here. Except that I do. They're ignoring the blunder and selling the brand. Yeah. That always works.
Desire To Watch Again: I watch a lot of bad stuff on The CW. I made it through a whole season of "Ringer" and all of the episodes of the new "Melrose Place." I'm also a faithful enough "The Vampire Diaries" viewer [and Phoebe Tonkin fan] that I stuck around after "TVD" to watch a full season of the generally average "The Secret Circle." I don't think I could watch another episode of "Beauty and the Beast." I guess I'll give "Beauty and the Beast" a second episode to see if there's any indication that anybody recognized the need for a massive overhaul, but that's it.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's '666 Park Avenue'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Chicago Fire'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Ben and Kate'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Elementary'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Arrow'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Neighbors'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Revolution'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots entries

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<p>Terry O'Quinn and Vanessa Williams of &quot;666 Park Avenue&quot;</p>

Terry O'Quinn and Vanessa Williams of "666 Park Avenue"

Credit: ABC

Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's '666 Park Avenue'

The supernatural meets real estate porn in ABC's newest guilty pleasure

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"666 Park Avenue" (ABC)
The Pitch: "Rosemary's Luxury Apartment Complex" or "Don't Trust the Demons in 666 Park Avenue" or "Dirty Satanic Money." Take your pick, really.
Quick Response: ABC's "666 Park Avenue" isn't a great pilot and it's unlikely to become a particularly good show, but it has a reasonably high quotient of proficiently handled goofiness and, at least for the first 44 minutes, I was content to giggle along with the derivative lunacy. On one hand, there's something to be said for mystery, mythology and obfuscation, but TV audience have been burnt so many times recently by TV shows that promise answers, but never get the chance to get out of the gate. With "666 Park Avenue" we establish within seconds that Terry O'Quinn and Vanessa Williams own a ritz Manhattan apartment and also possess a skillset of powers that almost certainly come either directly or variably indirectly from Satan or his Mexican Non-Union Equivalent [Either El Diablo or Senor Satano, I suppose]. It's "Needful Things" with Manhattan rent control and you don't waste time trying to get to the meat of the narrative. O'Quinn is, in particular, having a fantastic time with the lack of subterfuge. If he isn't twirling his mustache, it's only because creator Dan Wilcox wanted to leave some manifestations of malevolence to unfold in subsequent episodes. From Rachael Taylor to Dave Annable to Mercedes Masohn to Robert Buckley, the supporting cast is just full of actors and actresses whose strengths and limitations are perfectly designed for what is basically a real estate porn-driven supernatural soap opera. They all look terrific, but none of them is being asked to upstage the interior and exterior design, which get the true star treatment from pilot director Alex Graves. The address is the A-lister here and it's treated with every bit of the subtlety as its numeric associations imply. The "666 Park Avenue" pilot isn't full of genuine scares, but there are creepy things afoot. I guess my biggest reservation before crowning this as the season's best new guilty pleasure is that too much of what transpires will be familiar to anybody who has seen "Rosemary's Baby" or any of the countless films that have aped it over the years ["Devil's Advocate" would be a clear influence if "Devil's Advocate" weren't just a rehash of "Rosemary's Baby" itself]. The pilot is a *little* crazy, but I want it to be absolutely berserker. I want "666 Park Avenue" to follow the "Vampire Diaries" formula of eight-to-10 jaw-dropping surprises every episode. I want everything that transpires to make me go, "Did they really just do THAT?" as opposed to "Well sure. Of course that happened. Not bad." Even NBC's "Revolution," which I probably liked less than "666 Park Avenue" overall, had more moments that surprised me.
Desire To Watch Again: I think "666 Park Avenue" makes for a very compatible night of ABC programming with "Once Upon a Time" and "Revenge" and I'll say, without hesitation, that I preferred this pilot to last fall's "Revenge" pilot. It lacks the self-seriousness and literary pretense that irked me when "Revenge" rolled out. This is probably trash TV, but I think it ought to be fun trash and barring a real drop from the pilot, I'm assuming this'll be a Season Pass for me.

Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Chicago Fire'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Ben and Kate'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Elementary'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Arrow'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Neighbors'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Revolution'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots entries

 

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<p>Taylor Kinney of &quot;Chicago Fire&quot;</p>

Taylor Kinney of "Chicago Fire"

Credit: NBC

Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Chicago Fire'

Finally a drama for people who thought 'Rescue Me' was too complicated

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show: "Chicago Fire" (NBC)
The Pitch:"Let's do a network-friendly version of 'Rescue Me.'" "So 'Rescue Me' only without the mature themes, instantly vivid characters, boundary-pushing language and humor?" "Yup. Those weren't exactly essential, were they?" "As long as we've got fires, it's all good."
Quick Response: A couple years back -- I remember this and maybe one or two viewers do as well -- NBC had an EMT drama called "Trauma." It had strong production values and a very solid cast and it was the kind of show which, if it had had a cable show's interest in character, could have possibly worked. Instead, I tuned out after three or four increasingly generic episodes. [I heard "Trauma" got a little better towards the end, but I needed something sooner.] Well, the Dick Wolf produced "Chicago Fire" is like "Trauma," only even more desperately in need of a cable sensibility, especially given how well similar terrain was covered in "Rescue Me." Directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff, the "Chicago Fire" has at least one decently executed inferno sequence that might really be a nail-biter if you cared an iota about any of the characters whose lives are ostensibly in jeopardy. Dick Wolf dramas have often struggled with the need/imperative to display deserved respect for the people in difficult and honorable professions, while simultaneously capturing the colorful ways people in those professions act. Here, Michael Brandt and Derek Haas' script gets bogged down in firehouse jurisdictional squabbles and barely sketched character details and then wallows in an even more frustrating self-seriousness. Jesse Spencer, battling an accent that probably should be dropped entirely, suffers most from the pilot's earnestness, which allows him to be frequently upstaged by "Vampire Diaries" veteran Taylor Kinney, who has charisma to burn. Yeah. I went there. And i feel awful about it. Sorry. This will become The Taylor Kinney Show if Spencer doesn't watch out. I'd be OK with that, but I'd rather watch The Eamonn Walker Show and, as is the case in nearly everything he does, Walker is underserved in the pilot and destined to be underserved in the series. Inevitably. The pilot could also stand to get more use from the often interesting Monica Raymund and several other familiar faces. The pilot sent to critics was at least two or three minutes shorter than the usual network drama. The right two or three character-based minutes could actually make a huge difference.
Desire To Watch Again: Very little. Like i said, there are actors I like in "Chicago Fire," but not actors I like enough to weed through the generic procedural stuff in the hopes that the character moments are better done in subsequent episodes. The pilot isn't an exciting version on the Dick Wolf formula and the version of "Chicago Fire" that I'd watch regularly isn't the sort of show Wolf has ever wanted to make.

Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Ben and Kate'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Elementary'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Arrow'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Neighbors'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Revolution'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots entries

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