AMC renews ‘The Walking Dead’, CBS renews ‘Under the Dome’ & ‘Extant’ [Update: 'TWD' record ratings]

Posted in News,Television by Scott Meisner on October 9th, 2014

Days before AMC premieres the fifth season of its ratings juggernaut The Walking Dead, the network renews the zombie drama for a sixth season. It’s no surprise, really, since the show continues to perform spectacularly in the ratings and its popularity never seems to die down.

“We could not be more excited for October 12th as we share new episodes of The Walking Dead with fans around the globe,” said AMC President Charlie Collier in a statement released this past Tuesday. “In advance of Sunday’s season five premiere, AMC proudly confirms a sixth season order of this extraordinary series. Thank you to Robert Kirkman, Scott Gimple, the terrific executive producers, and the entire team who brings this compelling world and these rich characters to life. There’s plenty more Dead ahead thanks to their impressive, collective effort.”

At last, it seems as if the series has found a showrunner it’s sticking with. Following the abrupt exits of Frank Darabont and Glenn Mazzara, Scott M. Gimple is here to stay. Season 5 premieres this Sunday, Oct. 12 at 9pm.

Elsewhere, CBS is bringing back its summer dramas Under the Dome and Extant for a third and second season, respectively.

“We’re committed to delivering our viewers and advertisers year-round programming with a wide variety of storytelling,” said CBS Entertainment Chairman Nina Tassler in a statement today. “We continue to see summer as a great place for unique concepts, innovative business models, and passionate television audiences.”

Update (10/13): Following tradition, the Walking Dead season premiere opened to record recording on Sunday: 17.3 million viewers tuned into it (11 million of which are part of the 18-49 demo), making it the most watched episode to date. The previous record holder was the season 4 opener which drew 16.1 million viewers (10.4 million in the 18-49 demo). These are huge numbers for cable; not only do they rival network TV viewership, they exceed it. AMC might as well renew Dead, at this point, for life.

Catchy ‘Better Call Saul’ music video teases ‘Breaking Bad’ spinoff sensibilities

Posted in Music,Television,Video by Scott Meisner on October 6th, 2014

Saul, Saul, you better call Saul / He’ll fight for your rights when your back’s to the wall / Stick it the man, justice for all / You better call Saul!

The hype machine for Breaking Bad prequel-spinoff hybrid Better Call Saul is officially up and running now that a music video for it is out. Country musician Junior Brown belts out a catchy tune written by Saul co-creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould and series composer Dave Porter. This sure is a unique way to market a new show, and I’ve got to say they pretty much nailed it. Over the course of the song, a couple of fine ladies wheel out televisions featuring Walter White’s lawyer played by Bob Odenkirk and viewers will catch a handful of glimpses from the upcoming series.

Better Call Saul debuts in February on AMC, and it has already been renewed for a second season set to bow later in 2016.

TV reminder: 4 premieres to look out for in October

Posted in News,Television by Scott Meisner on October 5th, 2014

Now that the big four networks have open the flood gates to the new fall season, it’s prime time for cable to release its heavy hitters. Jump after the break to learn when Showtime’s Homeland, FX’s American Horror Story, and AMC’s The Walking Dead return to the schedule. (Click here for more…)

Eye ‘The Walking Dead’ season 5 poster; plus AMC orders companion series pilot

Posted in News,Television by Scott Meisner on September 5th, 2014

Here we have The Walking Dead‘s season 5 poster (or key art), and as is tradition, it features Rick Grimes alone: arriving, surviving, and thriving on his newfound confidence and brutality. I’m not sure which is more intimidating–his silver pistol or that ever-growing beard (didn’t Michonne find him a razor awhile back?). The season’s tagline: “Hunt or be hunted.” The Termites of Terminus are, in a word, screwed.

In other Walking Dead news, AMC has ordered a pilot episode of the Walking Dead “companion series” that was originally announced last September. Let’s not call it a spinoff because although the new series will take place in the same zombie apocalypse universe as the flagship series, it will not feature any characters from it. It will follow a completely different band of survivors in a different, still unknown location (read: not in Georgia where the current series takes place). The creatives behind the flagship, namely Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, and David Alpert, will also serve as executive producers of the companion series. Dave Erickson (Marco PoloSons of Anarchy), who co-created and co-wrote the companion series pilot with Kirkman, will serve as an executive producer and showrunner. The pilot is scheduled to shoot later this year, and if all goes according to plan the network will air a second Walking Dead show sometime in 2015. You want to know what I can’t wait for? Since the new series will take place in the same universe as The Walking Dead, you can bet there will be a crossover episode where Rick and co. intersect with the new survivors and that day will be epic. Jump after the break for press quotes from AMC head Charlie Collier, Kirkman, and Erickson.

The Walking Dead returns Sunday, October 12 at 9PM on AMC. Click here to watch the incredible season 5 trailer. (Click here for more…)

Renewals: AMC’s ‘Halt And Catch Fire’, FX’s ‘The Strain’ & Showtime’s ‘Masters of Sex’

Posted in News,Television by Scott Meisner on August 24th, 2014

Let’s start with the unexpected. AMC has gone ahead and renewed freshman series Halt And Catch Fire for a second season. Despite middling ratings and buzz, the 80s period drama about the PC Revolution will return next year. Star Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies) provided the initial draw and after a slow build the show became fun summer fare with its knack for capturing the exciting, experimental era it’s set in. From the technological jargon to the music, HCF eventually found its creative streak and has me yearning to see more in a second season. Props to Pace’s costars Scoot McNairy, Mackenzie Davis, and Kerry Bishé for their emotionally grounded performances that made it easy to get invested.

“This is a show about invention, experimentation and the inherent risks in trying to break new ground — themes that really resonate with us as a network and attracted a passionate audience,” said AMC president Charlie Collier. “We have a history of demonstrating patience through the early seasons of new shows, betting on talent and building audience over time. We see that opportunity here and look forward to a second season of Halt and Catch Fire from creators Chris Cantwell and Chris Rogers, and showrunner Jonathan Lisco.”

Elsewhere, FX renewed Guillermo del Toro and Carlton Cuse’s vampire horror fest The Strain and Showtime is bringing back Masters of Sex and Ray Donovan for a third season. No surprise here, really. Though I’m not the loudest Strain supporter (I have issues with the writing and acting) it’s the type of summer fare that just makes sense. As for Masters of Sex, this is the show that just keeps on giving. This season’s bottle episode “Fight” might be the series best thus far featuring phenomenal performances by stars Martin Sheen and Lizzy Caplan.

“We’ve never had any doubts about The Strain,” said FX Networks head John Landgraf. “It is thrilling when you have a show that is a creative and commercial hit, which is a rare accomplishment in this increasingly crowded marketplace. We look forward having it on FX for as long as Carlton, Guillermo and Chuck Hogan need to tell this epic tale.” Added del Toro: “I am thrilled! Another season to spread the virus! Working with Carlton, Chuck and FX has been immensely rewarding and we have such sights to unveil in the upcoming episodes — the blood hits the fan on this one, mankind becomes an endangered species.” Added Cuse: “I am grateful for all the blood, sweat and tears (but mostly blood) given to the project by all involved, and I could not be more excited to continue telling this epic story.”

“Both Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex are quintessentially Showtime: bold, provocative, premium television with production values at the top of the food chain,” said Showtime president David Nevins. “These acclaimed shows are filled with complex and interesting characters and settings that will no doubt give audiences compelling television to invest in for seasons to come.”

Mini teaser: AMC’s ‘Better Call Saul’

Posted in Television,Video by Scott Meisner on August 13th, 2014

Here’s your very first look at Bob Odenkirk as lawyer Jimmy McGill, the protagonist of Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s Breaking Bad spinoff/prequel series. As we already know, Better Call Saul takes place six years before the Saul meets Walter White; it will take time before McGill transforms into criminal lawyer “Saul Goodman” audiences have come to know and love. This is the teasiest of teasers clocking in at a mere 10 seconds, but the clip does just enough to remind viewers of Odenkirk’s magic plus we get premiere timeframe: February 2015. Let the countdown begin.

Update (8/24): Gilligan & Gould talk Saul in a new teaser embedded after the break. (Click here for more…)

Comic Con: ‘The Walking Dead’ season 5 trailer will blow you (and your brains) away

Posted in Image cache,Television,Video by Scott Meisner on July 29th, 2014

The Walking Dead knows how to cut trailer. Once again they’ve managed to top themselves with a brilliant season 5 trailer that only teeters on major reveals and still gets the job done. This pretty much confirms Rick and the gang will get out of Train Car A and face the Termites of Terminus. Gareth, their leader, appears to be a reasonable man here as he allows Rick and co. to leave his horror house and find a cure for the zombie apocalypse in Washington, D.C. That’s right–road trip! “When we get to Washington, we will make the dead die and the living will have this world again,” snarls Abraham Ford. And who took Beth? A tiny tease at the end reveals her imprisonment at some sort of psych ward (?); wherever she is she appears to be more badass than ever and ready for escape.

What looks to be the most ambitious season of The Walking Dead yet premieres Sunday, October 12 at 9PM on AMC. Skip after the break to view new key art made specifically for Comic Con. (Click here for more…)

More ‘Better Call Saul’ details emerge

Posted in Image cache,News,Television by Scott Meisner on July 19th, 2014

Breaking Bad‘s Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould showed up at this year’s TCAs to promote their next venture, spinoff Better Call Saul, and some interesting tidbits surfaced.

First off, the series is set in 2002; but like Breaking Bad, it will bounce around in time. “I think the best way to answer this is that you saw, from Breaking Bad, we like nonlinear storytelling,” shared Gilligan. “I would definitely point you in the direction of anything that is possible on Breaking Bad is possible on Better Call Saul. It’s fun for us to be as nonlinear as possible.” Also, when we meet Bob Odenkirk’s Saul Goodman in the pilot that won’t be his name; much like Walter White’s transformation into Heisenberg, viewers will witness Jimmy McGill’s transformation into Saul Goodman.

An official show description sheds some more light: “The series is set six years before Saul Goodman meets Walter White. When we meet him, the man who will become Saul Goodman is known as Jimmy McGill, a small-time lawyer searching for his destiny, and, more immediately, hustling to make ends meet. Working alongside, and, often, against Jimmy, is ‘fixer’ Mike Ehrmantraut, a beloved character introduced in Breaking Bad. The series will track Jimmy’s transformation into Saul Goodman, the man who puts ‘criminal’ in ‘Criminal lawyer.’”

Since the show will bounce around in time, there is a possibility for Breaking Bad favorites like WW to enter the fray. In fact, one Bad character in particular was discussed at the TCA panel: Giancarlo Esposito’s Gustavo Fring. On his potential to show up in Saul Gould said, “There’s always a chance, yeah…with Gus there is so much more to say about that character, and we certainly love Giancarlo. Having said that, we’re trying to make something that stands on its own that has an entertainment value that’s not just seeing a series of old favorites. It’s not the series equivalent of a clip show. So we try to balance these things out. But I agree there’s so much to be said about Gus — although in the series it always seemed to me that Saul didn’t know Gus directly. He knew a guy who knew a guy.”

Better Call Saul premieres on AMC in 2015. Eye two new images from the production above and after the break (below, that’s Odenkirk with Michael McKean who plays Saul’s brother Chuck in the series).

[Via Deadline; TVLine; EW] (Click here for more…)

‘The Walking Dead’ season 5 underaway

Posted in Television,Video by Scott Meisner on July 3rd, 2014

Production on The Walking Dead season 5 is officially underway and here’s a clip to prove it! In it you’ll hear from a number of cast members and show producers.

“It’s the most ambitious first episode I think we’ve attempted,” says Andrew Lincoln aka leader Rick Grimes. Adds Steven Yeun aka Glenn: “It’s a great welcome to the season.”

Lincoln talks about how the upcoming season is about hierarchy. “A lot of people are going to work out where they belong in the group.” That is, if they can find a way out of Train Car A…

The Walking Dead returns this October on AMC. And don’t forget to tune into a Talking Dead special airing Sunday, July 6 at 9PM; host Chris Hardwick, Dead showrunner Scott M. Gimple, and actress Aisha Tyler will discuss what’s in store for season 5.

‘Breaking Bad’ spinoff ‘Better Call Saul’ coming in 2015, renewed for season 2, may incorporate ‘Bad’ favorites

Posted in Image cache,News,Television by Scott Meisner on July 1st, 2014

Better Call Saul is coming soon and here’s your first look at the Breaking Bad prequel series starring Bob Odenkirk as the scheming lawyer Saul Goodman. Standing to his right are executive producer Peter Gould (a former Bad exec producer and the inventor of the Saul character) and Bad mastermind Vince Gilligan (who will serve as co-showrunner on Saul alongside Gould and direct the series pilot).

Some new information has surfaced since AMC announced the highly anticipated Breaking Bad spinoff. First of all, the new series was originally intended to premiere this November, but the network decided that more time was needed to prep so now Saul Goodman won’t return to our screens until early 2015. Such news typically stings, but AMC is putting a damper on that by greenlighting a 13-episode second season before the first 10 episodes even launch! That’s right–Bad fans who intend to flock to Saul are already guaranteed a healthy serving of 23 episodes of Gilligan and Gould’s next drama.

Also, there’s this: Jonathan Banks aka Bad‘s dearly departed Mike Ehrmantraut is joining Odenkirk as a series regular! And that’s not all. Gould recently spilled to The New York Daily News that “perhaps some of [Better Call Saul] takes place before Breaking Bad, during Breaking Bad, and after Breaking Bad.” So what does this mean? “That gives us the ability to bring back characters that were killed on Breaking Bad.” Boom. All hail Walter White and his prodigal son Jesse Pinkman?

As exciting as that may sound–Bad favorites, dead or otherwise, returning to the small screen–Gould assures viewers that his new show “stands on it own, is its own story, and is a brand extension” and will not rely on flashy guest spots from Bad alumni. Still, leaving the door open for Mr. White and Jesse “Magnets, Bitch!” Pinkman to return for more mayhem is an exciting proposition to say the least.

AMC president Charlie Collier said the following surrounding the news of Better Call Saul‘s premiere date shift and early season 2 renewal: “Production on Better Call Saul is underway and we could not be more proud of nor more excited about the work to date. We join the fans in eager anticipation for this series and today we happily confirm that our initial Saul order is for two seasons and a total of 23 episodes. When introducing any series, especially one with the DNA of Breaking Bad, there are countless factors to consider in making sure the show gets the launch it deserves. We have a strong history with Vince, Peter, Bob, the studio and so many involved with this production; we are enjoying the process on ‘Saul’ and all share a focus on making it a true television event. No half measures.”

TV reminder: 6 premieres to look out for in June

Posted in News,Television by Scott Meisner on June 1st, 2014

The summer months are upon us and though many of your favorites series are taking a break until September there are quite a few new and returning ones that premiere in June. See what’s coming up and worth checking out after the break! (Click here for more…)

TV reminder: 5 premieres to look out for in April

Posted in Images,News,Television by Scott Meisner on April 1st, 2014

JanuaryFebruaryMarch… April! Let’s take a look at five premieres airing this month. Jump after the break. (Click here for more…)

TV reminder: 9 premieres to look out for in February

Posted in Image cache,News,Television by Scott Meisner on February 9th, 2014

January has come and gone and as we fold into February it’s time to take a look at nine series/season premieres airing this month. Jump after the break for all the deets. (Click here for more…)

Stars & producers discuss what’s next on ‘The Walking Dead’

Posted in Television,Video by Scott Meisner on February 2nd, 2014

The Walking Dead returns next Sunday for the second half of season four and [spoiler alert] it’s time to deal with the aftermath of losing the prison and Hershel’s death.

“It’s going to be about how do you get everybody back together, how do we stay safe, and how do we find sanctuary,” says EP David Alpert in the first look video at the back eight episodes posted above. Showrunner Scott M. Gimple, producers Gale Anne Hurd, Greg Nicotero, and Denise Huth, and many of the show’s stars also talk about the upcoming batch of episodes here.

“Everybody’s been separated and it’s a terrifying world that we inhabit, again,” Andrew Lincoln warns. The series is “moving into a much more psychological horror” he says and with a smirk he adds, “we’re jumping off the cliff in this back eight.”

The Walking Dead is back Sunday, February 9 on AMC.

‘The Walking Dead’ season 4B teaser

Posted in Television,Video by Scott Meisner on January 20th, 2014

It’s not much but it’s something; here’s a tease at the upcoming second half of season four of The Walking Dead. The Governor’s gone and our band of survivors are displaced. The tagline: “Don’t look back.”

The Walking Dead resumes February 9 on AMC.

Preview ‘The Walking Dead’ 4B

Posted in News,Television,Video by Scott Meisner on December 8th, 2013

The Walking Dead went out with quite the bang last Sunday (respectively rest in peace and burn in hell to those we lost). The back-half of season 4 (or as we TV types like to call “4B”) premieres February 9 on AMC and you can preview what’s to come in the short yet tantalizing teaser embedded above.

[Spoilers!] During last week’s Talking Dead, creator and executive producer Robert Kirkman teased, “Not only have these people lost Hershel, they lost the prison, but they also lost each other. They’re out on their own, they’re in different groups. There’s going to be a lot going on with these different people as they try to survive in the next half of the season.”

Star Andrew Lincoln describes the next batch of eight episodes as “the boldest, bravest, and most exciting this show has ever attempted.

Squee.

AMC renews ‘The Walking Dead’ for a fifth season

Posted in News,Television by Scott Meisner on November 10th, 2013

After clocking in a record breaking 20.2 million viewers for its season 4 premiere, it comes as no surprise that AMC is granting The Walking Dead a fifth season.

“We are very happy to make what has to be one of the most anti-climactic renewal announcements ever: The Walking Dead is renewed for a fifth season,” said AMC president Charlie Collier. “This is a show that has erased traditional distinctions between cable and broadcast. Its expanding base of passionate fans has grown every season, most recently – and most notably – with the season four premiere earlier this month, which broke viewership records for the series and became the biggest non-sports telecast in cable history. On behalf of the incredible team on both sides of the camera, thank you to the fans and here’s to more Dead.”

As of now, Scott M. Gimple will in fact remain the showrunner for next season. But the current season is still young and there’s plenty of time for him to go the way of Frank Darabont and Glen Mazzara, though it’d be nice for Dead to hold onto its showrunner for once.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9PM on AMC.

TV reminder: ‘The Walking Dead’ premieres tonight (10/13) at 9PM on AMC [Update: record ratings]

Posted in Image cache,News,Television by Scott Meisner on October 13th, 2013

The highly anticipated season 4 premiere of The Walking Dead airs tonight, Sunday, October 13 at 9PM on AMC. When we last saw our band of survivors they let into the prison the straggling strangers from the defeated Woodbury. Trailers tease a mysterious danger from within that’s “not really walkers and it’s not other people.” Whatever it is, will it drive Rick and company out of their safe haven as alluded to in the prison break-out poster pictured above?

The premiere is called “30 Days Without An Accident” and its written by new showrunner Scott M. Gimple and directed by special effects specialist and executive producer Greg Nicotero. Following the episode is the return of Chris Hardwick’s after-show Talking Dead with special guests Gimple and Castle‘s Nathan Fillion.

Update (10/14): Another Walking Dead premiere, another series high ratings record. 16.1 million viewers tuned into the season 4 premiere last night; 10.4 million of them fall into the coveted adults aged 18-49 demographic. TWD reigns as the #1 show on TV in that demo. AMC proposes that after factoring in time-shifted playback (DVR, etc.), last night’s premiere should exceed 20 million viewers. The previously most-watched episode was the season 3 finale which attracted 12.4 million viewers, 8.1 million of which fell into the 18-49 demo. In other words, the Dead continue to rise…exponentially. Talking Dead also saw big gains; it too debuted to its biggest numbers with 5.1 million viewers, including 3.3 million in the 18-49 demo.

AMC President Charlie Collier commented on the expected yet still exciting news, as he does. “Sincere thanks to the fans, who have welcomed The Walking Dead back for its fourth season with the highest-rated episode in the show’s history. We could not be more proud of this show and everyone on both sides of the camera who work so hard to give life to this story of character, leadership and survival. It starts with series creator, writer and executive producer Robert Kirkman, show runner and executive producer Scott Gimple and the director of last night’s episode (and the man behind the make-up) executive producer Greg Nicotero, their fellow executive producers and an extraordinary cast and crew who are giving their all every day. So clearly, thanks to them, the dead have never been more alive.”

Update 2The Walking Dead season 4 premiere is now being hailed as “the most watched non-sports telecast in cable history” after factoring in Live+3 data; an additional 4.1 million viewers watched the episode in the three days following the live Sunday airdate bringing its total viewership to a whopping 20.2 million.

‘Breaking Bad’ goes out on top

Posted in News,Television by Scott Meisner on October 1st, 2013

And just like that, arguably the greatest show to air on television has come to an end. Breaking Bad went out on its highest note, both creatively and in the ratings. The finale–or should I say “Felina”–drew 10.3 million viewers, a series high spanning all five seasons. Among the coveted group aged 18-49, 6.7 million people watched the final episode live. Thanks to streaming outlets like Netflix and iTunes, the show was able to break out not only as a critical darling but also as a pop culture phenomenon.

In an informative interview with EW, mastermind creator/producer/writer/director Vince Gilligan shared his feelings about ending on top. “Every story has its running time, and it’s just hard in television to know what that running length should amount to, and I feel very happy and satisfied by the fact that we’re wrapping up now. I can’t even believe that the ratings have increased with each episode — I just think it’s wonderful — and people have asked me, ‘Does it make you want to go on and do a bunch more episodes now?’ Just the opposite. It makes me think, through quite a bit of good luck being involved, we really did pick the right moment to exit the stage, and I feel even more confident of that now than I did before.”

In a statement AMC president Charlie Collier expressed his gratitude to the successful series. “Breaking Bad is simply unique. It all starts with Vince Gilligan who really only ever asked for one thing – the opportunity to end the show on his own terms. That is exactly what Vince did last night and, as always, brilliantly so. Congratulations to Vince and to every single person involved in this remarkable journey. We’re proud that AMC will forever be known as the birthplace and home of this iconic show and, at the same time, we tip our Heisenberg hat to the fans who made this a truly shared experience.”

The final episode proved to be the perfect ending to the perfect series. In fine Gilligan fashion, all loose ends were neatly tied up; it was supremely satisfying. In a TV landscape where many shows these days like to leave things up to the viewer’s imagination, it felt so refreshing to watch a story close with all the i’s dotted and all the T’s crossed. It concluded unapologetically and peacefully and right. Rock out to Badfinger’s “Baby Blue,” the best song to come along since “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” and remember it was all in the chemistry. Bitch.

‘Breaking Bad’s final two episodes get supersized

Posted in News,Television by Scott Meisner on September 20th, 2013

There are only two episodes left of Breaking Bad. Now, what’s the best way to send off arguably the greatest show in television history? By super-sizing its remaining episodes, that’s what! Executive producer Peter Gould confirmed it in a tweet: the final two installments of Bad have a runtime of 75 minutes with commercials included. That’s tight, tight, tight, yeah!!

And if you’re up for it, AMC is airing a major marathon leading up to the series finale. Starting Wednesday, September 5 at 8PM through Friday the 27th the network will air all 46 episodes that make up seasons one, two, three, and four. On the 28th at 11PM the marathon will resume by showing all of season 5 leading up to the big series finale on Sunday the 29th.

A one-hour version of Chris Hardwick’s after-show Talking Bad will come on immediately after the final episode airs (Low Winter Sun will have to wait) with some really special guests like series creator Vince Gilligan, current and former cast members Aaron Paul, Jesse Plemons, RJ Mitte, Giancarlo Esposito, and Jonathan Banks, and “super fan” Jimmy Kimmel.

The end is upon us. Brush up on your Ozymandias and reminisce all the fun cooks we’ve been on by staring endlessly into the new promotional poster posted above. It was all in the chemistry.