Jon Hein

Getting to the End of The Wire with Tristan Wilds

Tristan Wilds, The Wire

The best program that ever aired on HBO — and the best drama currently on television — is coming to a close this week. It's not Deadwood. It's not The Sopranos. It's The Wire (Sundays at 8 pm/ET), and we talked to star Tristan Wilds about the series' upcoming finale. Wilds, whose Michael Lee has become an integral part of the show since his memorable entrance with three other school kids at the beginning of Season 4, opened up about the tough decisions Michael has had to make, The Wire's smartest character and what it's like shooting on the streets of Baltimore. How did you end up on The Wire?
Tristan Wilds: I was sent out to audition for Randy, so I went to [casting director] Alexa Fogel's office and it looked like it was going great. I had two or three callbacks, an read more

Can Lost Live Up to the Hype?

Dominic Monaghan courtesy ABC

Nine months ago, I was almost convinced that Lost had lost its way and I chronicled my concerns right here in this blog. Meaningless peripheral characters, wimpy love triangles, and VW joyrides dominated the island landscape. The Dharma initiative was as confusing as ever, Mrs. Claus was annoying everyone but Jack, and I couldn't get my tailies, Others, parachutists, or any other new characters straight.But what a difference a final few episodes can make. The two-hour finale, which will re-air this Wednesday night, is almost as good as the original pilot. That's lofty praise. I pride myself on figuring out television's mysteries, but I didn't see that flash-forward coming at the very end. Lost did the impossible: It became exciting to watch again.And now the show couldn't ask for a better situation. When it comes to new scripted drama (or new scripted anything, for that matter), there's nothing out there to watch. Fan interest is climbing toward pre-hatch levels. Expectations are hi... read more

Upfront Thoughts: NBC

Here's my quick take on the Fall 2007 primetime schedule that NBC announced earlier today....MONDAY8 pm Deal or No Deal9 pm Heroes10 pm JourneymanMonday has the potential to be NBC's biggest night. DOND is a game show juggernaut. Heroes will have a make or break sophomore season and Heroes: Origins better not be too gimmicky. Journeyman will try to carry the futuristic vibe of Heroes, but will fare about as well as Studio 60 did.TUESDAY8 pm The Biggest Loser9 pm Chuck10 pm Law & Order: SVUHistorically, this is the night where NBC shows go to die. The Biggest Loser has a small but loyal following. Chuck will be this season's failed attempt at government geek gone good. SVU just rolls on.WEDNESDAY8 pm Deal or No Deal9 pm The Bionic Woman10 pm LifeHey, it's another non-scripted show at 8 o'clock for NBC! DOND on Mondays and Wednesdays will wear thin. The Battlestar Galactica team is involved with The Bionic Woman, so I'll give Jamie Sommers the benefit of the doubt. Life is this ... read more

Support Supporting Characters

When it comes to supporting characters, a little bit really does go a long way. A quick scene here, a subtle look there... Suddenly, we can't get enough of them.Be careful what you wish for. When these quirky cast members become featured players, that's when it's time to worry.It all goes back to Happy Days (what doesn't?). Arthur Fonzarelli was a minor character when the show began. The creators realized what they had in The Fonz and he natureally became more prominent in the series which initially was, uh, cool.The next thing you knew, full story arcs revolved around The Fonz and a guy we couldn't get enough of became the guy you couldn't get rid of.That was then. Let's talk about now.30 Rock — Alec Baldwin deserved the supporting actor award for his performance, but every story line now seems to focus on Jack Donaghy. He's much more effective randomly popping in and out during an episode. The same goes for the geeky page Kenneth, and Tina Fey's cleavage.Heroes — Hiro i... read more

Is 24 Shark Proof?

24 should have jumped the shark by now. Every season there's been a plot twist that's just... well... irresistible bait.Season 1 - Incredible, but Jack's wife Teri (may she rest in peace) gets amnesia. Season 2 - Not as incredible, and Jack's daughter Kim battles a mountain lion.Season 3 - Even worse as Tony and Michelle are newlyweds, Kim is now a computer genius working at CTU, Chloe finds a baby in the office, and Tony gets one in the neck.Season 4 - Still slipping as Jack robs a convenience store and, surprise, there's a mole in CTU again!As Jack took his David Banner-esque stroll at the end of this season, I was convinced that 24 was on the other side of the fin.Season 5 - It proved me wrong. Pivotal characters were bumped off in the pilot, President Logan and his wife were mesmerizing, and the show had a fantastic season. Jack was back, and I was never so glad to be wrong about a show.Now expectations are sky high as 24 returns with Emmys in hand. Jack needs a shave as the... read more

A Comedy Pulse Thursdays on NBC

Peter Boyle's death reminds me of something else that recently passed away... the sitcom."Hi honey, I'm home... " just doesn't cut it for today's audience. Everybody Loves Raymond is probably the last classic. 'Til Death certainly isn't.But don't mistake the death of the traditional sitcom for the death of comedy on television. Great comedy is alive and kicking.... The only problem is getting an audience to tune in regularly if it's not three cameras and has a laugh track.Arrested Development had brilliant acting, excellent writing, a good time slot and the Emmy for best comedy. It had everything except an audience. Why?If Arrested Development had been on HBO, would it be a glorified hit (a la Curb Your Enthusiasm) because ratings didn't matter? You bet it would.This season's Arrested Development is The Office. It has stellar acting and writing, the Emmy for best comedy, and it's an unconventional show. Unfortunately, the other thing it has in common with the former Fox comedy is it... read more

'Tis the Season

It took a while to adjust to holiday specials airing in November. I remember having only one chance to catch these programs as a kid, and that made them a little more special.As the flood of seasonal mirth begins, it's tricky to sift through all the different programs now available 24/7.When choosing what to watch, avoid any sequels or live-action remakes. They simply don't work.Also look for the four fundamental elements of any killer holiday special:1) Unique characters2) Memorable music 3) A lesson learned and4) A Santa appearance.Here are my top-five television holiday specials of all time.This list does not include any feature films. Miracle on 34th Street and It's a Wonderful Life do not qualify for this list.Honorable mention: Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town (1970).Major points for Fred Astaire, the Winter Warlock, Burgermeister MeisterBurger and "Put One Foot in Front of the Other," which almost made the list. Almost.5) Frosty the Snowman (1969)Happy birthday! Yes, it's fu... read more

Sunday, Monday...Happy Days

Thanksgiving is upon us, which means it's time to update my nightly viewing schedule. I record plenty of stuff, but these are the shows that I try to watch live.MONDAYS:8 pm/ET Deal or No Deal (NBC)As a student of Jeopardy! and The Price is Right, every logical fiber of my being tells me I should be repulsed by this brainless show. Yet I cannot stop watching, and actually look forward to it. Well done, Howie and crew.9 pm/ET Heroes (NBC)The only thing I'm tired of hearing is "Save the Cheerleader, Save the World." Can't wait to see how Peter gets a scar on his face.10 pm/ET CSI: Miami (CBS)I'll take Caruso's emoting over Sorkin's pontificating. TUESDAYS:8 pm/ET Friday Night Lights (NBC)Dancing with the Stars is gone and Idol is coming. In the meantime, I'll watch some fake football.9 pm/ET House (FOX)Great acting, good stories, and plenty of crotchetiness. Easily the best show of the night.10 pm/ET Nip/Tuck (FX)Yeah, it jumped the shark with the Carver, but it's still interesting to... read more

Forget the Cheerleader — Save NBC

NBC jumped the shark in 2004.The Apprentice was the hottest show on television. We're talking absolute must see TV that was oozing buzz. NBC tried to capitalize on the show's success and put all their eggs in the Donald's reality basket.I said it then, and I'm saying it now — moving The Apprentice to anchor Thursday nights sent the network right over the fin. ABC learned its lesson with Millionaire. CBS always had CSI and Everybody Loves Raymond to go with Survivor and The Amazing Race.Thursday nights belonged to NBC. It lost Friends and Frasier (which had jumped the shark years ago) and had nothing in the pipeline. First to fourth wasn't an "if", it was a "when".I understand how tempting it is to lead off each night with a game show or reality show (i.e. inexpensive show). It's also another big mistake. Deal or No Deal is getting pummeled into the ground as I type as the contestants get more and more "wacky".So you're Jeff Zucker... what do you do? Glad you asked.1. Pluck C... read more

My First Plea: Save Kidnapped

We're a couple of weeks into the new season, so naturally it's time to beg for a new series to be saved.This year's hard-luck case is... Kidnapped.The show airs Wednesday nights at 10 pm/ET on NBC. The pilot was very good. The second episode was even better.Yet no one is watching. Why?The competition: CSI: NY and The Nine. This crime thriller is battling a show too dark to see and a new series too painful to watch. Shouldn't be a problem here.The lead-in: The Biggest Loser. A newsmagazine or sappy soap should follow Caroline Rhea's two-hour weightloss reality show. It's a tough transition from scales of weight to the scales of street justice. The good news? Lost makes its return this week, so the perfect audience is ripe for the taking.The hype: It's not Heroes or Deal or No Deal. The mighty PR machine at NBC needs to crank it up here. You've got a creepy Timothy Hutton, a messed-up Dana Delany, an angry Delroy Lindo, a mysterious Jeremy Sisto, plus the streets of Manhattan. Who co... read more

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