Knowing when to leave, and then executing that exit strategy with dignity and creative energy intact, is possibly the toughest task in all of TV. (Everybody Loves Raymond pulled it off better than most.) In the year ahead, quite a few longtime faves are heading toward the finish line, even if some — like the fading West Wing — have yet to make it official. Here's my take on how these swan songs are playing out. While watching them, I also started wondering which ones are most likely to live on in spin-offs and which are best suited for nostalgic reunions somewhere down the road.
The West Wing Sundays, 8 pm/ET, NBCSeason: 7Showing its age? By definition, a lame duck is no spring chicken. Moving this once-majestic show to Sund
Will & Grace's Eric McCormack and Debra Messing
Having successfully performed a live season premiere — even working around a last-minute and conspicuous injury to Megan Mullally — NBC's Will & Grace is ready to dip into that well again. On Jan. 12 the sitcom, now in its eighth and final season, will stage another live episode, in which Karen throws herself a lavish birthday soiree only to spend the evening crammed in the bathroom with her three buds. (And no, I don't mean Vicodin, Paxil and Xanax.)
CBS has picked up a D.C.-based pilot about thirtysomething staffers on Capitol Hill, tentatively titled Sex, Power, Love & Politics, by Will & Grace exec producer Greg Malins, who either has no problem conjuring up bad memories of UPN's Sex, Love & Secrets or just really likes ampersands.... NBC has made a script commitment to a fantastic and compelling — can't miss, if you ask me — one-hour drama about an expert in deprogramming brainwashed people; this show sounds fantastic and compelling — can't miss, if you ask me.
Zach Braff and Sarah Chalke, Scrubs
Question: I want to know your thoughts on NBC's mid-season moves. While Fox seemed to play into NBC's hand by not moving American Idol (and moving less-than-stellar comedies to the Thursday 9 pm/ET slot), NBC seems to have given us a mixed result. While I like that they're trying to rebuild the Thursday-night comedy block, it is obvious that they still don't respect what they have with Scrubs, particularly because they will probably be pairing it with Joey. While there aren't any real strengths in the NBC schedule, is this really a make-or-break time for both Joey and, as a result, Scrubs? Along the same vein, does this move really serve as a vote of confidence for The Office and Four Kings?
Answer: For a night-by-night breakdown of the mid-season shuffle, check out my recent Dispatch analyzing the various network moves in one of the most chaotic Januarys I can remember. This question presumes that NBC will pair Scrubs with Joey after the Olympics, but that hasn't been determined, and
Now that the dust has settled a bit on all the 2006 mid-season changes that will be kicking in as soon as the holidays are over, here's my night-by-night scorecard of the imminent battles we'll be covering a month or so from now.
The big news is the return of 24 on Fox, with a four-hour blast January 15-16, followed by all-new episodes through the rest of the season. For the first two months, Skating with Celebrities (a rip-off of Dancing with the Stars) will be 24's lead-in. But come mid-March, Prison Break will return. What a one-two punch that promises to be!
CBS will coast along by capping off its popular comedies with
Fox's announcement of its mid-season slate — namely, the fact that American Idol will not be moving its results show to Thursdays — has rivals scrambling to counterprogram. ABC, for example, may now air Season 2 of Dancing with the Stars on Thursdays, reports Variety, while NBC could be extra-tempted to... oh, never mind, just read the Breaking News item now at the top of this column!
Zach Braff and Sarah Chalke in Scrubs
NBC has announced its mid-season game plan, and it goes a little something like this: Effective Jan. 2, My Name Is Earl and The Office, as speculated, move from Tuesday to Thursdays-at-9, where they will follow a pairing of Will & Grace and the new sitcom Four Kings (starring Seth Green, Shane McRae, Josh Cooke and Todd Grinnell). Filling the Tuesday void are back-to-back airings of new Scrubs episodes, which will have Fear Factor as its lead-in. Succeeding The Apprentice: Martha Stewart on Wednesdays at 9 is The Biggest Loser: Special Edition, a series of standalone and themed spec
Question: My husband says that Karen of Will & Grace appeared in a Seinfeld episode as one of George's girlfriends. I don't think so. Can you verify this? Thanks.
Answer: Get ready to change that line of thinking then, Lili. Hubby's right on this one.
Megan Mullally, who picked up an Outstanding Supporting Actress Emmy in 2000 for her work as Karen Walker, snotty socialite and assistant to Grace (Debra Messing) on the hit comedy, did indeed lend her talent to the Seinfeld crew in a Season 4 episode. As hubby says, she played Betsy, one of George Costanza's (Jason Alexander) brief love interests (if the word "love" ever applied to him) in the episode "The Implant."
If you recall, the main story was that Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld) dumped a girlfriend (Teri Hatcher
Bobby Cannavale, who scored an Emmy for his role as Will's boyfriend on Will & Grace, has inked a deal to headline his own New York-based sitcom for NBC. Not unlike most of the sitcoms on the air today, the project is still searching for a concept.
Veronica MarsI know Clarence Weidman isn't technically bad, but I still wouldn't want to run into him in a dark alley. But actually I wouldn't want to run into Keith Mars in a dark alley either, if I had done anything to his daughter. He's so the dad of the year in Neptune... not that the sadly still-not-sheriff has much competition. Parental units are rapidly disappearing or becoming a thing of the past in this town. Veronica's mom skipped town, Logan's mom allegedly killed herself and his dad's in the slammer, Duncan's parents are hiding out away from the whole Lilly scandal, and now Dick and the Beav's dad has taken off to parts unknown. And while the Beav was thrown for a loop by his step mom's philandering with Logan, Dick had a totally different outlook. "Dude, my step mom? Better you