The Week in TV: NBC Just Going to Give Up Already
Happy Halloween from TV Land, where the costumes are always better than yours:
• In renewal news: Showtime has given a second season to Homeland, which stars Damian Lewis as a returned POW who might actually be a sleeper Al Qaeda agent and Claire Danes as the emotionally unstable CIA operative willing to break all manner of laws to catch him. Despite having some of the ugliest and least coherent opening credits in history, it's a solid show with a compelling story and great acting. There's no telling how the story will evolve over this season and the next, but it's been fascinating to watch Danes' character move closer to her mark as the network of homegrown terrorists grows larger. Also renewed: The Walking Dead, because zombies are big business, and Comedy Central's Workaholics, because you can never go wrong selling cheaply made stoner comedies to guys too lazy to look for the Xbox controller.
• NBC isn't having a lot of luck launching new dramas -- it's so bad they're probably going to miss Chuck when it goes -- so they're going back to the drawing board and rebooting an old CBS property in an attempt to rope in nostalgic older viewers with impressionable younger ones. Wiseguy was a groundbreaking drama when it hit the air in 1987, thanks to the heavily serialized storytelling and delineated arcs that wouldn't come into fashion in mainstream drama for years. The original series starred Ken Wahl as an undercover federal agent and Jonathan Banks (known today as Mike from Breaking Bad) as his supervisor. The new version will be written by Alex Cary (Homeland) and revolve around a former cop who goes to prison and agrees to work undercover in a deal to reduce his sentence. That's already a darker take than the original series, where Wahl was a straight operator who only pretended to be dirty. Of course, for this to work, NBC will need to take a risk on the kind of nuanced drama that's miles away from, say, The Playboy Club. Here's hoping it happens.
• Speaking of NBC: The network has halted production on Awake, its midseason drama about a cop (Jason Isaacs) who bounces between real life and a vivid dream world without knowing which is which. The series has shot six episodes, including the pilot, but producers say they're taking a four-week break to take a step back and better plan what the show will be and where its story needs to go. On one hand, this has to be a little scary for creator Kyle Killen, who was responsible for last year's Lone Star, which Fox led to the slaughterhouse after two episodes. On the other, though, it just might the thing that saves the show (or at least makes it better). As The Shield creator Shawn Ryan pointed out on Twitter when the news broke, this isn't an unusual thing in the TV world, and there's no reason to expect it will hamper the show's schedule or debut. Showrunner Howard Gordon told Vulture that he still expects a January premiere, but that he knows the show has a "narrow margin for error" and could use the time off to adjust its trajectory. As I wrote a few months ago, the show's concept is intriguing, and done right, it could be a really strong high-concept drama. Maybe this break will help the show stay its course.
• The World Series was a predictably huge ratings draw last week -- about 23 million people tuned in Friday to watch the Texas Rangers lose to St. Louis -- but the rain delay that bumped Wednesday's game wound up helping some struggling comedies. Fox, with no other programming lined up, aired repeats of Glee, which left the door open for ABC to hit with new episodes of Suburgatory and Happy Endings. Happy Endings saw a series high with 8.3 million viewers and a 3.5 rating in adults 18-49, which is good news. This is a wickedly fast and consistently funny comedy that deserves a much bigger audience. Glad that the foul weather could help it out, if only for a night.
• It's Halloween, which in TV Land means a boatload of themed programming to go along with the onslaught of trick-or-treaters (as well as the coworkers who insist on dressing up at the office). In addition to primetime series offering themed episodes, you can find plenty of holiday lineups on cable. TCM is airing Village of the Damned at 7 p.m. CT, followed by Night of the Living Dead. AMC is showing movies from the Halloween franchise all day (though not Rob Zombie's remake or sequel), but all you really need to see is the original, which airs 7 p.m. CT. And of course, for the ultimate horror, there's Dancing With the Stars on ABC. You will see things you can't unsee.
• Justin Timberlake popped by Late Night With Jimmy Fallon to record a third "History of Rap" performance. Yes, this is what he does now instead recording and releasing albums. Yes, it's still good:
• You wanna see Seth Meyers rest his tongue on another man's lips? Of course you do:
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