Film and TV

The Week in TV: Don Draper Lives

It's been a rough week for AMC. This was the week in TV Land:

• The storm of rumors and negotiations involving Mad Men seems to be settling for now. Jon Hamm has signed to stay with the show for three more seasons in a deal that will eventually bring him $250,000 an episode. That would keep him around through the series' seventh season, if creator Matthew Weiner keeps it going that long. As has been previously reported, though, these extended negotiations have played havoc with the show's anticipated return date: Don't look for new episodes before March 2012.

• While movies stick with classic comic book characters like the Green Lantern, TV seems happy to work with more specialized titles. Case in point: FX is rolling forward in its adaptation of Brian Michael Bendis' Powers, a detective series about a homicide cop tasked with investigating cases involving superheroes. Jason Patric has signed to play Christian Walker, the lead detective, while Lucy Punch (a British actress probably best known in the U.S. for Hot Fuzz) will play his partner, Deena Pilgrim. Per Entertainment Weekly, the series is still in the pilot phase and hasn't yet been given a series order, but here's hoping the show is good enough to succeed.

• In other comic news, Showtime is developing 100 Bullets with screenwriter David S. Goyer, whose c.v. is sprinkled with highlights (Batman Begins) and low points (Jumper, FlashForward). The basic premise of the comics involves a mysterious agent who presents people with the opportunity -- and ammunition -- to take revenge on someone who has wronged them. It's got plenty of potential as a cable series, loaded as it is with morally gray landscapes and high-impact violence. Plus, when's the last time Showtime made a drama and actually called it a drama? They've been churning out maudlin series like The Big C and referring to them as comedies, which they're definitely not. If nothing else, it'll be nice to get a straight-ahead sell.

• We all know how bad the season finale of The Killling was. Most viewers were probably hate-watching it out of sheer stubborn desire to see who killed Rosie Larsen. Showrunner Veena Sud, though, is adamant that she and her team are creating something amazing and not, you know, just throwing pointless twists at viewers to distract them from the fact that the show doesn't have writers so much as it has trained monkeys who assemble keywords into a vague order. Sud told The Hollywood Reporter that she feels like her show is now in the company of The Sopranos thanks to the level of passionate response it's inspired, which is the kind of hubris that's almost adorable. Whatever Sud's storytelling issues, though -- and there are many -- she's on the verge of becoming a PR problem for AMC, which is running the risk of losing its edge as a hip competitor to HBO now that they're trafficking in a show that's basically Cold Case plus Lady in the Water. AMC president and GM Charlie Collier spoke up last week defending Sud and trying to pin the blame for a bad series on the marketing. "We underestimated the passion our viewers have for closure within this season," Collier said. "It was never our intention to misguide the viewer. The audience has an important voice, we heard them and don't take them for granted."

I get what he's trying to do, but the ads aren't the point here. The problem isn't necessarily that the show didn't tell us who killed Rosie Larsen: It's that every character development and twist felt wild and empty, leaving us twisting in the wind. A friend of mine who's a TV writer out in L.A. hit the nail on the head when she said to me: "What has chapped my hide about all the back and forth over this is the suggestion that us viewers who felt the thing was poorly executed (partially or in toto) just didn't get it. That we were slaves to some formula. Poppycock. Hog wash. Balderdash." I'm not annoyed that Sud tried to do something different. I'm annoyed that she's equating "different" with "badly written." I happily turn the show over to its remaining viewers, wherever and whoever they may be.

• Ryan Murphy seems to be having a change of heart. The Glee creator recently said of the show's upcoming third season, "We're not going to have any guest stars. And we're going to do fewer songs." The Fox series began as a musical but then quickly devolved into a musical revue that hinged more on special guests and theme episodes than in finding interesting ways for the characters to express themselves musically. Murphy and his writers have almost started to view their characters as lifeless playthings instead of real people, assigning them different traits, motivations, and feelings from week to week as plots warrant. Based on that interview, though, things could be changing for the glee kids. Murphy also said, "We've decided it's a little tired for Sue to be constantly trying to destroy the glee club." Most viewers reached that conclusion halfway through the first season, but I'm glad Murphy's on board. Here's hoping this show comes back with a new focus. Done right, it could be like nothing else on TV.

• Comedy Central lowered the ax on Sports Show With Norm MacDonald and Onion SportsDome last week, ending its brief flirtation with sports before running back to the safe haven of Accepted reruns. It turns out that, on Comedy Central at least, nerds don't want to get sports mixed in with their comedy. Both shows posted low numbers, which never bodes well, since Comedy Central is pretty efficient at killing off low-rated shows after a season. (Sports Show premiered in April, while SportsDome bowed in January). If you want to make it on Comedy Central with an original show these days, your name better be Stewart, Colbert or Tosh.

• The premiere of Hey Dude happened closer to the Moon landing than to today's date. Also, you are old:

• Finally, here's a tip of the hat to Peter Falk, who passed away Thursday night from complications related to Alzheimer's disease and dementia at age 83:

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Daniel Carlson
Contact: Daniel Carlson