The fall TV season is officially upon us, the weather's still inexplicably hot, and we think you're a young Bo Derek stuffed with a Barry Goldwater. This was the week in TV Land:
• On Friday, Stephen Colbert gave everyone a reason to remember C-SPAN exists when he appeared before the House Subcommittee on Immigration to testify about his experience with United Farm Workers' "Take Our Jobs" initiative. He was invited to testify by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., though Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., tried to get Colbert to leave right at the beginning. Lofgren let him stay, though, and he went on to give an amazing, in-character testimony about his experience with the farmers that used satire and phony outrage to make his points with wit and eloquence. Colbert knows that he's not a politician, but he also knows that the line between public servant and trusted public persona doesn't even exist any more, and that any chance he has to get his sharply crafted opinion out there is worth taking. His entire performance is worth watching, as are his pieces about it on his show (here and here), but our favorite moment was when he broke character and spoke simply about how his morality and his faith were driving him to speak up for immigrant workers. Stewart/Colbert 2016!
• NBC's comedy block came back Thursday. We loved Community, but we also enjoyed 30 Rock and were even pleasantly surprised at The Office. The 30 Rock premiere was operating at peak performance, full of references to the series' own surprising longevity that feel earned after four full seasons. We liked seeing Matt Damon as the overly emotional pilot, and it's also smart to set his character up with a gig that lets him be a recurring presence with easily explained absences. We also enjoyed The Office, mostly because it moved away from the hate-fuck of last season and back into the absurdity of life at Dunder Mifflin. This is Steve Carell's last year, and we'd like to see him go out on top with a comedy that used to be so amazing.
• Fox announced last week the final piece of the puzzle that will
unleash Pinhead complete the new version of American Idol: Steven Tyler has been tapped to be a judge. Tyler, who is 62 and whose appearance falls somewhere between badly reconstructed burn victim and makeup test run for White Chicks, is best known to members of the Idol demographic as the guy who sang that song from Armageddon. This means that Randy Jackson, improbably, is the last remaining original judge on the show, and it also ensures that the upcoming season is going to be even more insane and train-wrecky than anyone could have imagined. The original dynamic made sense: Simon's caustic bluster came with spot-on musical insight; Paula was doped-up but personable; Randy was enthusiastic but willing to show his displeasure. Bt who knows how Tyler and Jennifer Lopez will play it? Tyler hasn't had a quality studio album since 1993's Get a Grip, and Lopez hasn't had one, period. They know sales, though; the only question is how inane they'll come off in the show. (Survey says: very.) American Idol isn't over yet, but this is the beginning of the end.
• It was a big week for Netflix. Blockbuster finally declared bankruptcy, clearing the path for Netflix's continued domination. But Netflix also got caught hiring shills to do press for its new Canadian service. Still, ups and downs aside, Netflix subscribers came out ahead when the company announced that they'd be getting a ton of TV series thanks to a deal with NBC. Included in the deal is every single episode of Saturday Night Live. Every one. Ever. SNL has released its first five seasons in their entirety on DVD, but their other releases have been scattershot best-of compilations revolving around certain hosts and cast members. Having every episode available on Watch Instantly will be a godsend for comedy nerds and series completists. What's more, new episodes will be added the day after they air for the next three years. The deal also includes all episodes of 30 Rock, The Office, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Psych, Monk, In Plain Sight, Friday Night Lights, Battlestar Galactica, and a couple others. Prepare for your workday productivity to drop completely.
• Speaking of NBC: CEO Jeff Zucker is leaving the network ahead of the merge with Comcast. Under his direction, the network went from first place to fourth, thanks in part to the we-told-you-this-was-dumb plan to put Jay Leno on five nights a week in primetime. For a more in-depth commentary on Zucker's general ineptitude, we'll turn you over to Chez Pazienza.
• NBC announced last week that they've grabbed a pilot that will reunite Lost co-stars Michael Emerson and Terry O'Quinn, outbidding ABC in the process. Tentatively titled Odd Jobs, the show started out as a wouldn't-it-be-funny-if idea that got a whole lot more serious when J.J. Abrams came on as executive producer. The rough plan for the show is for Emerson and O'Quinn to play former government agents who, I'm guessing, get called back into action from retirement, or decide to go freelance, or date flight attendants, or something. Whatever it is, you know you'll watch. This is the sideways-universe spinoff you've been waiting for, only without all the poor rationalization and plotting that ties up one season of plots instead of six. Because that would be lame.
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• Well, Lone Star is in trouble. The pilot episode drew 4 million viewers, which would make it a hit on cable but not on network air, especially if you're trying to appease the notoriously trigger-happy bosses at Fox. The network hasn't dropped the ax yet, but things don't look good. That's a shame, too: the show's not perfect, but the opener had plenty of promise. It would also be nice to see a show succeed that wasn't about cops, doctors, or lawyers. Then again, those shows do succeed, just not on network air. We hope Killen can pack up his crew and take them to FX, AMC, or a premium pay cable channel and tell his stories the way he wants.
• Speaking of Fox: Running Wilde was a lot better than we expected. The latest creation from the Arrested Development team of Mitchell Hurwitz and Jim Vallely, the series reunites AD stars Will Arnett and David Cross and also stars Keri Russell. Arnett is tailor made for the role of the rich buffoon who just wants to impress his childhood crush (Russell), but the script had quite a few more actual jokes than you'd expect from a Fox series. (Not to mention a wonderful AD shout-out to Arnett fearing he'd "made a huge mistake.") The show doesn't look like it'll revolutionize the format, but it's definitely worth watching for now.
• Katy Perry's breasts filmed a guest spot recently for Sesame Street. They were contained by a sheer mesh top and accompanied by Perry herself, but the breasts did the lion's share of the work during the music video, a reworking of "Hot and Cold" with Elmo that no doubt would have raised some questions for the young boys watching. The clip actually generated protest from people after they realized it was meant for kids, and as a result, the clip was pulled from the show. It remains alive online, where it will be safe from the curious eyes of children, who everyone knows never use the Internet for anything. In an even weirder postscript, Perry will appear on a Christmas-themed episode of The Simpsons as herself while surrounded by puppet versions of the inhabitants of Springfield. To top it all off, Perry appeared as the musical guest on the season premiere of Saturday Night Live and proceeded to bounce her breasts beneath an Elmo shirt, seemingly oblivious to the fact that this is the only reason people know who she is anyway. Are you even reading this anymore, or just waiting for the video? Here you go: