Acting quicker than I expected in many cases, the TV networks have already gotten back to business in starting to determine what the fall landscape is going to look like.
The big news in my little corner of the world is that ABC has indeed decided to give a 13-episode order to the delightful freshman series "Pushing Daisies."
What would be great now would be a proper re-launch of all nine previously aired episodes this summer, flowing freely into the new season and giving anyone who has missed out on this often-magical show a chance to catch up.
For anyone who hasn't tuned in so far, what you're missing is a true TV oddity: A prime-time fairy tale that's almost as clever as it is simply sweet. Leads Anna Friel and Lee Pace just have perfect chemistry, and the always welcome Chi McBride provides great comic relief as the money-grubbing P.I. Emerson Cod. Throw Broadway vet Kristen Chenoweth into the mix and make her prone to break out in song at any moment, and you've got a show that I'll tune in to week after week.
There were, of course, a lot of other shows that got either great or horrible news yesterday, and you can read the full list here.
In the much smaller subset of shows that I actually tune in for, CBS has thankfully given the greenlight for "How I Met Your Mother" to at least finish up Season three. The show had seemed to lose some of its most important component, heart, in the 11 episodes that had aired this fall, so here's hoping this series starring Willow, Doogie and Freak Nick Andopolis can find its footing whenever it manages to return.
NBC will obviously take more episodes of "The Office" and "Heroes" as soon as it can get them, but more murky is what will happen to the end of "Scrubs." It had already been announced that the interrupted and rather remarkable seventh season would be the last, and negotiations are now under way with creator Bill Lawrence to see just how many episodes it will get to complete its run. Here's hoping it gets the chance to go out on top.
Still also up in the air at NBC is the fate of easily network TV's best drama, "Friday Night Lights." Though the show had fared very well (by Friday standards) in its Friday night slot and, thankfully, managed to put out new episodes throughout most of the writers' strike, it's highly likely that last week's show will have to serve as a series finale.
As for the CW, that network may well be about to lose me for good. Already generating plenty of ill will by exterminating "Veronica Mars" after only a three-season run, it now may be about to kill the only two shows that still gave me any reason to tune in: "Aliens in America" and "Everybody Hates Chris."
The latter, which had managed to finish its third season in spite of the strike, is more likely to return, but "Aliens in America," which had gotten better with each show in its 18-episode run, may well be lost for good, which would be a real shame.
Two big questions, of course, still loom large: How soon will any of these shows manage to return, and will there be any new shows worth watching when Fall finally rolls around? About the latter I'm still extremely pessimistic, but here's hoping that I'm somehow wrong once again.
Coens getting "Yiddish" with Chabon
The only Michael Chabon novel I have yet to read (but just ordered used from Amazon) is now in the rather capable hands of the Coen brothers.
And "The Yiddish Policemen's Union," Chabon's 2007 novel, sounds like it's just tailormade for the Coens. Chabon sets up a contemporary scenario where Jewish settlers are about to be displaced by the U.S. government's plans to turn the frozen locale of Sitka, Alaska, over to Alaskan natives. Against this backdrop is a noir-style murder mystery in which a rogue cop investigates the killing of a heroin-addicted chess prodigy who might be the messiah.
The only possibly bad news in all this is that we might have to wait quite a while to see it. The Coens must be just about finished with "Burn After Reading," their CIA comedy starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt and set for a September 2008 release. After that, they are set to shoot something called "A Serious Man," for which I could only find this truly odd plot summary at Wikipedia (which, of course, never gets anything wrong):
A Serious Man will focus on Larry Gopnik, a Jewish college professor in the Midwest in 1967. Larry starts to question the value of life when he discovers his wife wants a divorce (and may be having a romantic affair with one of their neighbors). He also has trouble with his children stealing money out of his wallet (his son is buying marijuana, while his daughter is saving for plastic surgery) and his deadbeat brother, who has moved in because he neither has the cash nor the maturity to live on his own. Add to that the hostile anonymous notes he keeps receiving which threaten his tenure at school, the grad student who will get a passing grade from Larry by any means necessary (who may or may not be the person leaving the threatening letters) and the attractive neighbor who bedevils Larry with nude sunbathing, and there is little wonder why Larry seeks to solve his existential issues from men of God whom he hopes will help him to become an austere and devoted man.
All of which means the Coens won't be getting to Chabon's work until sometime in the fairly distant future. And in case anyone's keeping score, that means all four of Chabon's novels either have been or will be made into feature films: "Wonder Boys" is a wonderful little film, "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh" is apparently finished and may have already come out in some form, and "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" is being shot by Stephen Daldry and is set for a 2009 release. Add to that the fact that Chabon had a hand in writing the script for still my favorite superhero flick of all time, "Spider-Man 2," and you've got quite a run so far.
And now, so that I can get ready for what is still my only paying job, I'll leave you with, first, this plea that, if you live in the republic of Virginia, the great state of Maryland or the District of Columbia (respectively, where I was born [Blacksburg], grew up [Salisbury] and went to college [Catholic University]), please get out and vote today; and secondly with this clip of George Clooney and the boys performing "Man of Constant Sorrow" from what is still my favorite Coen brothers' flick, "O Brother Where Art Thou." Peace out.