Film and TV

The Week in TV: Omar Comin' to Class

Comic-Con just wrapped, but don't worry: We won't be talking about it. This was the week in TV Land:

• Michael Kenneth Williams -- known to The Wire fans as Omar -- has been tapped to appear in at least three episodes of Community next season. He'll play a former convict who teaches the study group's biology class for a few sessions, though there's no telling how often he'll wind up appearing or what will happen to him in the long run. The number of possible cultural references for Dan Harmon and company to work into the scripts are staggering. Maybe he'll show up late to class and say he was with Muffy at the club. Maybe he'll tell his students to be honest because a man must have a code. Or maybe he'll show up in the next paintball episode to prove once again that it's all in the game. Harmon, the ball is yours.

• There's been a surprising amount of Stephen King news in the TV world in the past week, but the biggest is the announcement that Universal has passed on the epic adaptation of The Dark Tower that would have spanned film and television over several years. King's seven-volume opus was set to be turned into three movies and two miniseries under the aegis of Ron Howard, who would serve as producer and director working from scripts by Akiva Goldsman. The final decision was set to come down in March but was delayed, and the final word is that Universal doesn't feel like ponying up the likely insane costs to adapt the books across multiple media for most of a decade. Their reticence is understandable. On one hand, yes, King's a brand name who's had his stuff turned into movies for 35 years. But on the other, The Dark Tower is hardly a pop cultural force, and committing to a massive adaptation up-front is a huge gamble. These books aren't Harry Potter; the fan base, though passionate, is much smaller. Turning something like Game of Thrones into a TV show one season is a good business play; turning seven books into five projects at once, not so much.

In other King news: his 1998 novel Bag of Bones is being turned into a minisieres for A&E. Pierce Brosnan will star as Mike Noonan, a troubled author (King definitely likes to write for a type) dealing with the death of his wife, a process that gets a bit trickier when he sees her ghost. Production begins next month for an airdate toward the end of this year.

Lost's Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof want you to know that they hear your disappointment and will respond to it. (Spoiler: they will not respond to it.) Video:

• The (awesome) Breaking Bad season premiere from just over a week ago scored the series' biggest ratings ever, bringing in 2.58 million viewers. That's a 30 percent jump from the third-season premiere from March 2010, and the new premiere was also up 67 percent in the 18-34 demo. Here's the thing, though: I can't make those numbers make sense. Breaking Bad isn't CSI. This isn't a show you just pop in on and watch for a couple weeks. There are major story lines going on here that have been building since the first episodes. Maybe the higher numbers can be chalked up to excitement: I don't have any evidence, but it make sense that people would be so thrilled about the show's return that they'd be more likely to watch the episode live and less likely to DVR it or catch it later in the week. And maybe some of those numbers are new viewers like me: I didn't get into the show until this summer, when I spent a glorious four weeks watching the first three seasons via iTunes. But still, a 30 percent jump? What kind of viewers only watch the first couple episodes of a complicated serialized drama?

• Although not technically news, Comedy Central reminded everyone last week that Matt Stone and Trey Parker will be churning out new South Park episodes through 2013. The network likely made the re-announcement in the wake of the sober reactions to the midseason finale, "You're Getting Old," which dealt somewhat seriously with changing tastes and the costs of cynicism. Stone and Parker even said on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart last month that they had no plans to end the show yet and that they were still happy making it. I guess Comedy Central is just scared of getting burned again.

• VH1 used to be -- well, not great, but a whole hell of a lot better. Series like Behind the Music and Pop-Up Video cemented the network's place in TV musical commentary: dramatic but funny, semi-serious but in love with music of all kinds. But the network has long since stopped being anything but an ugly repository for atrocious programming that celebrates the worst impulses in all of us in our basest moments. VH1 is essentially Bravo but with pre-existing C-list celebs, while Bravo uses its own trashy shows to create said C-listers. VH1's latest show that no one should watch: Canz, a "reality show" (and those quotes are as ironic as I can make them) about the women who work at Canz, a Long Island sports bar staffed by girls in tight black tank tops. The show will, to quote its own shockingly un-self-aware press blurb, "feature a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to be a Canz girl," which one can only assume is a combination of bust size and a reluctance to press charges. For those who still watch VH1 and its programs: Why? What do you see in them? Why does unwinding with TV equate to watching awful people?

• Justin Timberlake stopped by Late Night With Jimmy Fallon again. You know what that means:

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Daniel Carlson
Contact: Daniel Carlson