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Trailer – HBO’s 'THE PACIFIC'… I hope it is as great as 'Band of Brothers'

February 10, 2010 1 comment

I feel this Mini Series is going to be great. Band of Brothers is the best mini-series I have ever seen. I got lucky, some dummy put the DVD set in the $5 bin at Wal-Mart. I may sign up for HBO just so I can see this. You can tell they spent some money on this series. It looks amazing. Takes us back in time when Men were Men. They still exist, we just don’t see them very often.

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Categories: TELEVISION, TRAILERS

Collider Has Seen the 24 Season 8 Premiere Event

January 17, 2010 Leave a comment

slice_24_jack_bauer_keifer_sutherland_01.jpg

I am a huge 24 fan and have been since the very beginning of the series.  We’ve gone through some good times and some bad times together, as well as some embarrassing times.  From presidential assassinations, bio-threats, and nuclear bombs blowing up in Valencia; to the infamous cougar lurking in the woods, Teri Bauer’s amnesia, and basically anything involving Kim Bauer.  24 is by no means a perfect show, but what it usually delivers on is action packed seasons and cliffhangers at the end of each episode.  Season 8, which starts with a 4-hour premiere tomorrow night, has a lot to live up to after last year’s non-stop insanely good season.  Some critics would disagree, but I thought season 7 was pure 24 gold.  Although the premiere isn’t as intense as I had hoped, some great new elements have been introduced.  And let’s just say Renee Walker returns with a vengeance!  More after the jump.

24_redemption_image_kiefer_sutherland.jpgLast year 24 revamped itself by moving from LA to DC and bringing back Tony Almeida from the dead.  Sounds like a cheap plot device, but it actually panned out and Tony’s flipping back and forth from good to bad, kept me guessing the whole way.  Not to mention the season had more bad guys then Jack Bauer could shake his government issued handgun at.  Tony Todd took over the White House with an African militia, how awesome was that? So this season has a hell of a lot to live up to, season 7 raised the bar in twists and action, and they even poisoned Jack for the last third.  Which was actually the only thing I didn’t like about last season, Jack Bauer is only kick ass when you let him kick ass, not when he’s sick and having shaking fits.  So what hints can I give you about Season 8? Here goes.

In season 8 we are relocated to New York City where Jack has been living with his daughter and granddaughter.  He has retired from CTU and the government in general and is worn out. Jack needs a break.

President Taylor is still in office and in peace talks with the president of a fictional Middle Eastern Country, Omar Hassan (played by Anil Kapoor aka the game show host from Slumdog Millionaire, just some little obscure indie film).  CTU is up and running with a New York division and it’s super high-tech, to the point where Chloe (the only original member left) is falling behind and put in the underdog position.  There’s a new head of CTU Mr. Hastings (Mykelti Williamson of Boomtown) whose posture makes him look like he’s always ducking under a low ceiling, which drove me nuts and undercuts his authority.  Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) plays Dana Walsh, a new CTU analyst and clearly a really great actor burdened with a terrible subplot of a different identity and a nagging ex-boyfriend threatening to expose her (this is an example of bad 24 plotlines).  My biggest gripe is casting Freddie Prinze Jr., we fans have been very forgiving and tolerant, we went along and actually enjoyed Rick Schroder, we were totally cool with Lou Diamond Phillips, we even forgave how many times you brought Kim Raver back, but Freddie Prinze Jr.? I can’t deal with him being the new heroic CTU guy, but maybe given time my opinion will change (Stranger things have happened, I was impressed by Brian Austin Green’s turn on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles).

24_tv_show_image__medium_.jpgEnough about the characters, what about the plot?  I don’t want to give too much away, because half the fun of 24 is the “WTF” moments you don’t see coming.  What I will tell you is that someone, maybe of Russian decent and maybe a whole gang of them, are involved in a plot to take out President Hassan and foil the peace talks between the U.S. and the Middle East.  Already some inside people are brought to light and key players are exposed.  And of course Jack gets tied up in all this, when an ex-informant shows up at his door with a bullet in his shoulder.  Jack just can’t say no to saving America, no matter how many times he wants to and in this premiere it’s a lot.  In fact, it takes a bit to get revved up. Jack is very reluctant to get back into action and it almost feels like the creators are too.  As if they went all out last season and aren’t entirely sure where to take this year yet, or they could just be for once playing things slow, which in the land of 24 can prove deadly.

Don’t get me wrong; there is a good amount of action in these 4 episodes, but nothing above average or that we haven’t seen before.  The plot so far feels a bit recycled and meandering, with some great classic 24 moments, for instance an RPG and a helicopter say hello to each other.  The most promising aspect and the real treat is having Renee Walker back this season and she’s been through some shit since we last saw her.  Turns out she was running undercover with the Russian mob and let’s just say she may be even more Jack Bauer than Jack Bauer is this season, which if the creators keep pushing the limit and turning the tables on Jack, I’m all for it.  Let Jack play second fiddle to Renee, I think she can show him a thing or two and it will add a moral dilemma to the show when Jack is faced with someone as law-bending as he’s been.

For now, I just have to trust in a franchise that has only led me astray for brief moments, but always managed to get back on track.  I stand by 24 as an adrenaline rush that’s highly addictive with Jack Bauer being the greatest American hero since GIJOE and Rambo and dare I say it? Chuck Norris.  I’ve enjoyed every season so far, some way more than others, just please don’t fail me now!

Grade B

Don’t miss the 2-night 4-hour premiere beginning Sunday, January 17th at 9/8c!

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Categories: NEWS STORY, TELEVISION

Video – Kimmel Blasts Leno & Conan Sells The Tonight Show

January 15, 2010 Leave a comment

kimmel-leno

Earlier this week, Jimmy Kimmel hosted his show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, costumed as Jay Leno. He donned some Leno makeup (big chin, skunk hair) and proceeded to mock Jay Leno, his show, his jokes and his ability as a talk show host to last for an entire hour. While most would expect Leno to stay mum about such events, the geniuses at The Jay Leno Show thought that they’d made a “bit” out of it and invited Kimmel on (via satellite) for a 10@10 (10 questions at 10 o’clock). With Kimmel being up for anything, he quickly agreed and it’s safe to say… NBC had no idea it would turn out the way it did.

After the first three questions, “What’s the secret to doing a good Jay Leno impression?,” “What is the worst idea your writers have ever pitched you?” and “Who’s the worst guest you’ve ever interviewed?,” you could tell that Kimmel was getting bored of the fifth grader line of questioning and decided to spice up his responses for the last six questions.

 

It wasn’t until Kimmel answered the fifth question, “What’s the best prank you ever pulled?,” that you knew ABC’s late-night staple was pulling no punches. After giving a quick quip about painting his aunt’s house pink and green, Kimmel threw out this zinger…

“I think the best prank I ever pulled was; I told a guy that 5 years from now I’m going to give you my show and then when the 5 years came, I gave it to him and then I took it back almost instantly. It was hilarious.”

Leno attempted to laugh off the statement, but as the questioning continued with “Ever order anything off the TV?” and Jimmy countered, “like NBC ordered your show off the TV?,” Leno soon realized that maybe this wasn’t the best idea.

Still, the questioning continued and while Kimmel somewhat answered his questions, he never hesitated to stick it to the big-chinned host.

To give Leno credit, you could tell his writing staff thought up a “zinger” for the tenth question. In case you don’t have a chance to watch the video, I’d like to present the “zinger” to you as an example of the hilariousness that The Jay Leno Show creates.

(Multiple Choice) You came on to 10@10 because:

A. You’re a fan of innovative satellite technology
B. You’re promoting your own show
C. You want to keep me happy in case I switch to ABC

With a slide from the bass player, you could tell that was Leno’s punch line. Although, I don’t think Jay expected Jimmy to respond in the way he did.

What’s that? You want to know what he said?

Well, you’re just going to have to watch the video below.

While some are saying that Kimmel destroyed Leno, the only thing I’m saying is, “Why did this happen in the first place?” I don’t get why Kimmel was on Leno – sure, Kimmel did do a Leno impersonation for an entire episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, but that doesn’t really require Leno to have him on his show. Does it?

If it was so important to have Kimmel on the show, why was Leno asking him questions that nobody cares about? Leno could have done something hilarious or edgy, but instead he kept with his usual mediocre line of questioning. What’s your best prank? Really Jay? Is this some kind of small market morning zoo-type show where they “heard” that the person being interviewed loves to pull pranks on people?

It’s embarrassing, Jay. Not only for you, but for your audience. If this is what you think your audience likes and what you’re happy to give them, you’re going to have a shock when you return to The Tonight Show and find that the audience that was lost by Conan is never coming back.

Not to be left out in the cold, Conan is making his own “arrangements” for the future of his show by turning to Craigslist.

conan-craig

click for full-size

PHEWW… That’s alot of late-night drama. The crazy thing is that this is only the tip of the iceberg. As each day passes, the jokes between Conan and Leno get much more personal and with Conan’s last day looking to be next Friday, who knows what’s going to happen.

I’d love to write more, but I’m all late-night’d out. I’ll leave it up to you, in the comments. Did Kimmel go to far? Why did Leno have him on in the first place? If Kimmel didn’t stick it to Jay, would the bit have been interesting to you?

Let’s hear it!

Source: Hollywood Reporter & Craigslist

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Categories: TELEVISION, VIDEOS

It's Over! NBC to Pay Conan $30 MILLION

January 15, 2010 Leave a comment

This story was updated to add detail and amended to correct imprecisions at 5:30 p.m. from an earlier version.

NBC has its way out of the Conan Crisis.

The network has agreed to pay O’Brien $30 million to vacate the 11:35 p.m. “Tonight Show,” individuals involved in the negotiations have told TheWrap.

The deal, which may still be in the process of finalization, could be announced as early as  Friday. has to be formally signed,will be announced on Friday.

Individuals in O’Brien’s camp declined to comment. Update at 6:20 pm: O’Brien publicist Leslee Dart emailed “Nothing (is) signed yet. Those figures are not accurate.”

But others described the negotations in detail.

According to knowledgeable individuals, the deal was brokered by Universal COO Ron Meyer, who was brought in on Tuesday after talks had reached an impasse and both sides were threatening to bring lawsuits. Meyer, a former agent, brought both sides together in an attempt to reach a resolution to the programming crisis, having been sought out by Ari Emanuel, at William Morris Endeavor.

Key terms to the agreement – including the $30 million payout — were worked out between Meyer and Rick Rosen, Conan’s agent at WME, one knowledgeable individual said.

But many further details remained unresolved by Thursday. NBCU President and CEO Jeff Zucker, NBCU Television Entertainment Chairman Jeff Gaspin and Co-Chairman NBC Entertainment and NBC Televison Studio Marc Graboff were involved in the final, all-night negotiations with O’Brien’s representatives.

In his monologue on Friday, Conan sounded like he was out the door:

“Hi, I’m Conan O’Brien — future answer to a $200 “Jeopardy” question.
 
“Welcome to tonight’s show. By the time you see this, I’ll be halfway to Rio in a stolen NBC traffic copter.”
 
“In the press this week, NBC has been calling me every name in the book. In fact, they think I’m such an idiot they now want me to run the network.”
 
“According to the Nielsen Company our ratings are way, way up this week. And that’s nothing — wait till you see what we have planned for February.”

The deal came following a battle between the two camps over whether O’Brien’s contract specifically guaranteed that “The Tonight Show” must air at 11:35 p.m.

As TheWrap previously reported, Team Conan was insisting that NBC has breached O’Brien’s contract because, it argued, the deal had a timeslot guarantee.

NBC’s response: No, there is no such guarantee of a specific timeslot for “Tonight.” So as long as we keep something called “The Tonight Show” on the air, there is no breach.

If NBC had been in breach, it would have owed Conan around $40 million (and as much as $50 million, according to some reports), as a penalty.

People close to NBC insisted the network would not yield on this point– it wouldn’t admit it had breached O’Brien’s deal.

One solution that had been on the table Friday, according to TheWrap’s Josef Adalian: Agreeing to disagree over the timeslot issue and instead settling on a pay or play fee.

Under this proposal, the sooner O’Brien starts a new gig — if he starts one — the less money it would have to pay.

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NBC's Jeff Gaspin: 'Back to Basics' for the Network

January 10, 2010 Leave a comment

NBC was perhaps “a little too early” launching its revolution on the broadcast business model. That was the assessment of Jeff Gaspin, NBC Universal’s recently installed chairman of television entertainment, this morning when he unfurled his “back to basics” strategy for healing the wounded peacock network.

ReDOPOST

For years, his boss, NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker, has stressed that the broadcast business model was fundamentally broken and NBC had the smarts and the tools to fix it. But with NBC’s prime-time schedule in smoldering ruins and the network’s confirmed retreat of Jay Leno back to his longtime home at 11:35 p.m. — leaving gaping holes in the prime-time schedule — it is up to Gaspin to restore some of the glory, and the profits, that were once associated with NBC.

"For us right now, instead of trying to reinvent, going back to basics is probably the smartest play," Gaspin said.

The more modest Gaspin — in measured tones — said maybe the business wasn’t so broken after all. He made it clear that he was in charge now and that, under his watch, NBC would exhibit a dramatically different temperament and mentality from the tumultuous two years that Ben Silverman was at the network, when NBC burn through hundreds of millions of dollars in failed programming while Silverman developed a reputation for a short attention span and missing meetings. There were also the broad proclamations that NBC was less concerned about ratings than profit margins.

In the waning minutes of the 45-minute news conference at the Television Critics Assn. meeting in Pasadena, Gaspin was asked by a veteran reporter: “Whose fault is it that the network is in such sad shape in prime time? Is it Ben Silverman? Is it Jeff Zucker? Does the network as a company regret the arrogant pose that it has had over the years?”

The low-key Gaspin, perhaps only half-kidding, replied: “That’s an awesome question.”

The standing-room-only ballroom filled with reporters — and nearly as many NBC Universal staffers lined up against the walls — howled with laughter. It seemed the battle-weary NBC executives enjoyed Gaspin’s lighthearted response even more than the reporters from across the country.

Gaspin also exhibited more candor — and provided more information — than NBC executives have in the recent past. He explained the chronology of the decision to move Leno out of prime time. The discontent of affiliate TV station owners was building throughout the fall and reached a crescendo in December when smaller stations received their disappointing ratings from the November sweeps, he said.

“The drumbeat kept getting louder and louder,” said Gaspin, who took over all of NBC programming last summer. “Toward the middle of December, they [the affiliate stations] made it very clear that they were going to be more vocal about their displeasure. It was then when I realized that it was just not going to go well if we kept things in place. … They are our partners. Even though [10 p.m. Leno show] was doing OK for us, I just made the tough call.”

Gaspin was asked whether Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien were now "damaged goods" and, if so, how NBC was going to recover. Said Gaspin: "I think just time is the answer to your question."

— Meg James

Related posts:

NBC's Gaspin sets Leno's exit from prime and return to late night

Photo: Jeff Gaspin. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

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NY Times – NBC Tells Conan To Move Over For Leno

January 8, 2010 Leave a comment

leno-conan

For the past 24-hours I have been reading so many different stories relating to The Jay Leno Show and The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien and NBC. After sifting through all the rumors, gossip and alien conspiracies (I told you I read many different stories) I think I finally understand what’s going on and since it’s coming from NBC, I shouldn’t be surprised that it’s another horrible decision.

It appears that The Jay Leno Show’s ratings having been so mediocre that NBC is going to shorten the show to 30min and move Leno back to his previous 11:30PM time slot. Conan (and The Tonight Show) in turn will be pushed back to the midnight to 1AM time slot.

I can tell you that if I was Conan I wouldn’t be happy at all. In fact, I’d be so mad that I probably would have broken my Ecto-1 Hallmark ornament that I have on my desk. And I love my Ecto-1 Hallmark ornament. Good thing NBC brought the horrible decision makers with them to give Conan another option if he’s not up for the whole “bait & switch” routine; leave the network.

 

For someone that doesn’t really have time to watch Late-night programming, I shouldn’t care… but I do. A lot!

The only problem is that I don’t know who to be more upset with; Jay Leno or NBC. Obviously they’re both to blame, but Leno has been walking around like his “you know what” doesn’t stink for some time and NBC love standing right behind him telling him how wonderful the smell is back there. When will someone at the network finally wake up and realize that Leno, however great they may have thought he once was, has worn out his welcome.

leno-carWhat’s that? You sure it’s not Top Gear?

Let’s not even get into the whole Johnny Carson wanted David Letterman to take over The Tonight Show and not Jay Leno (which is why after leaving The Tonight Show Carson would only appear on The Late Show with David Letterman), The Jay Leno show is a huge failure. It seemed as if everyone outside of NBC knew it was going to fail in a big bad way and boy did it live up to everyone’s expectations.

Sure, when you look at it from a network point of view, the show somewhat succeeded. The cost of production was significantly less than what a drama would be in that time slot and the ratings weren’t too low in comparison to the price, but when you factored in the local affiliates… that’s when the game changes.

The local affiliates took the major hit. Across the country, ratings were down 30%-40% in local markets and while that’s never a good thing, the fact that The Jay Leno Show was the lead-in to the 11PM news means everything. The 11PM news cast is where the local affiliates receive their highest ratings and make all their money because unlike primetime programming (where they’re allowed to sell a certain number of commercial spots per hour), the affiliates are able to sell all the commercial spots for the 11PM news. Now, with 40% of your audience gone, guess where your all your ad dollars go? Exactly… down the Leno-bowl.

conan-faceConan also found out it’s not Top Gear.

The problem became so bad that NBC had to do something, but was this the right option? No, not at all. For some reason, NBC treats Leno as some type of savior figure which in turn has completely screwed up their network.

So, what’s going to happen now? I have no idea. Conan can’t be happy about this, but I don’t exactly see him just walking away. He literally relocated his entire show (staff included) to the west coast. Still, he can’t stand for that, but what other option does he have?

In the end, who wins in all this?

Is it the viewers who get to now watch a 30min version of a show they didn’t watch in the first place? Nope.

Is it Conan who specifically had a $40 million clause in his contract so this specific thing wouldn’t happen? Nope.

Is it Jimmy Fallon who people forget is also impacted by all this mess? Nope

So, who wins?

Well, the jury’s still out on that one, but what I do know is that a bunch of long-shot bets have just paid off. I should have listened to Vizzini when he said, “Never go in against a Leno when an 11:30PM time slot is on the line!”

vizzini

…or something like that. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen The Princess Bride.

I’m sure by now you know how I feel, but since I’m the romantic type, I want to know how you feel as well.

Don’t forget to catch the last of the hour-long The Jay Leno Show weeknights at 10PM on NBC and make sure to tune into The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien weeknights at 11:30PM because who knows that’s going to happen.

(Since this is still developing, we’ll continue to update this story as more information is it is released)

Source: The New York Times

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Decade in Review: The 10 Best TV Shows

January 7, 2010 Leave a comment

It was a great decade for television. It’s as simple as that. There was a renaissance of dramas, and enough brilliant comedies were around to balance out the fallow years of that genre. Best series of the decade would be impossible to hold to 10. After a lengthy and laborious (and fun and difficult) period of winnowing the decade, I came up with 25 series. The Top 10 follow. A discussion of Nos. 11 through 25 can be found on my blog at SFGate.com and TheBastardMachine.com. (A list of those titles, sans commentary, can also be found at the end of this column.)

1. “The Wire,” HBO. Ostensibly a cop series with a story to tell about the drug war in America’s inner city (Baltimore, in this case), “The Wire” over five seasons was really an insanely ambitious, intimately detailed historical document about institutional failure on all levels – cops, criminals, courts, politics, schools and newspapers. Dense, novelistic, painful, funny, real and transformative all at once. “The Wire” is the best television series ever made. Period.

2. “The Sopranos,” HBO. You can make an argument that “The Sopranos” is the most important television series ever. It made great television a mandatory requirement for any cable channel seeking an audience. It cemented HBO as a must-have pay channel. It fueled the creative renaissance of all dramas – cable and network. And it cleverly fooled people into thinking that they were watching a violent story about the mob when they were really watching a married couple come undone as they dealt with each other and their extended families. A neat trick, that. The writing, acting and directing set a standard still trying to be matched everywhere on the small screen.

3. “Mad Men,” AMC. The best series still in production (followed closely by AMC stablemate “Breaking Bad”), this drama about the existential angst of an early 1960s ad man, Don Draper, has exemplary writing and acting that is intimate, reflective, funny and shaded, and it boasts the most memorable premise and look in ages. It carries the torch of greatness into the next decade.

4. “Deadwood,” HBO. The classic Western turned foulmouthed, violent version of Shakespeare in the mud, “Deadwood” showcased the reason that television is a writer’s medium while film belongs to directors. David Milch’s ferociously original take on a well-worn genre was rooted in the raucous and hypnotic acting performance of Ian McShane, who made every word uttered sound like coarsely brilliant poetry. McShane’s magnetic personality turned Al Swearengen into one of television’s most memorable characters. “Deadwood” will also be remembered as the biggest blunder in HBO history, as Milch and executives agreed to end “Deadwood” prematurely after three seasons. Two promised follow-up movies never materialized.

5. “The Shield,” FX. After the networks did cop series as well as could be done with “Hill Street Blues,” “Homicide: Life on the Street” and “NYPD Blue,” cable stepped up and changed the game. This series was morally conflicted as the protagonist detective, Vic Mackey, played to perfection by Michael Chiklis, was a killer, thief and rule-breaker as well as a public guardian and seeker of justice. Swaggering, thrilling, filled with angst and bravado and pain and righteousness, “The Shield” was a series you couldn’t look away from as it crashed through boundaries.

6. “The Office,” British version, BBC America. Ricky Gervais created this superb, scathing series that later spun off a very good American import version. But the original is where all the genius was born, where Gervais as cocksure, befuddled and annoying middle manager David Brent created a character that simply can’t be forgotten. The faux documentary device is now overused, but it fueled the cringe-worthy humor of this series in an original, inspired way.

7. “Slings and Arrows,” Sundance Channel. Three smart, funny, subtle and emotionally rewarding seasons made this Canadian series one of those rare finds worth seeking out. Set at a troubled Shakespearean theater company, the literate and witty story lines revolved around not only the performers and their backstage antics and offstage personalities but also the overwhelming transformative power of the Bard himself, played by people who really felt the words. A gem.

8. “Arrested Development,” Fox. Comedy is far more subjective than drama, so the debate on what merits attention on these lists (and, in fact, what is actually funny or not) will rage on. “Arrested Development” was hilarious on so many levels. The writing was smart and funny; there were visual jokes, slapstick, absurdity and physical humor. The jokes were often four deep, which makes the series particularly cherished on repeated viewings. A fantastic cast and acerbic writers made it all happen.

9. “The West Wing,” NBC. We’ll probably not see another political series for ages – certainly not one this good. Aaron Sorkin not only made people believe in the power of the people and the presidency again, but he also made an intellectually stimulating, fast-paced series about politics when everyone in the business said it couldn’t be done. Plus, it was a hit. It had some weak years, but when it was at its finest, “The West Wing” was moving and aspirational.

10. “Breaking Bad,” AMC. One of only a few “young” series that made the cut, “Breaking Bad” is a series that has achieved greatness as fast as any of the most critically acclaimed, respected dramas on this list. When a high school chemistry teacher turns 50 and is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, he turns to making (and selling) methamphetamine to help his financially struggling family. Wonderfully original, daring and poignant.

The rest of the best series of the decade list: 11. “Lost,” ABC. 12. “Battlestar Galactica,” Syfy. 13. “Freaks and Geeks,” NBC. 14. “Six Feet Under,” HBO. 15. “The Daily Show,” Comedy Central. 16. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” WB, UPN. 17. “30 Rock,” NBC. 18. “Sex and the City,” HBO. 19. “King of the Hill,” Fox. 20. “Extras,” HBO. 21. “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” HBO. 22. “Dexter,” Showtime. 23. “The Office,” NBC. 24. “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” FX. 25. “South Park,” Comedy Central.

For complete commentary on these shows, check out Tim Goodman’s TV blog, the Bastard Machine, at www.thebastardmachine.com. E-mail him at tgoodman@sfchronicle.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/bastardmachine.

This article appeared on page F – 6 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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