Tuned In: No. 1 CBS plans five new fall series

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- CBS was No. 1 in total viewers and in the key demo (adults 18-49) for the 2012-13 TV season, and it has had a successful summer thanks to controversy on "Big Brother" and high ratings for "Under the Dome," which has been renewed for a 13-episode second season to air in summer 2014 (Stephen King will write the season premiere).

For fall the network will launch five new series, including the Thursday night sitcom "The Millers" (8:30 p.m. Oct. 3), which should not be confused with the upcoming big-screen Jennifer Aniston film "We're the Millers," due in theaters Aug. 7.

"The Millers" executive producer Greg Garcia ("Raising Hope," "My Name Is Earl") said he chose the most generic name possible to get it through legal clearances and he wasn't aware of the movie title.

"I think we should do billboards that say, 'No, we're "The Millers," underlined "we're," ' " Mr. Garcia said. "Hopefully their movie is wildly successful but it's a movie. It's gonna come and go and hopefully we're on for a long time. But, look, 'Raising Hope' [followed] 'Raising Arizona.' Sometimes titles bump up against one another."

"The Millers" stars Will Arnett as Nathan Miller, a recently divorced local TV news reporter with a buttinsky mother (Margo Martindale, "The Americans") and a father (Beau Bridges) who seeks a divorce, forcing Nathan to take in his mom as a housemate.

Mr. Garcia described the show as a love letter to his parents, who remain happily married but do get on one another's nerves.

"I gave them cars for their troubles," Mr. Garcia said. "My sister looked at me and said, 'It's the least you can do.' "

Mr. Garcia defended a series of flatulence jokes in the pilot and the possibility that the show could get branded as a fart-joke sitcom.

"I thought about that but I think in the next eight-to-nine scripts, I don't think a fart joke appears, but I'm not saying it won't because fart jokes are funny," he said, before reminding TV critics of the campfire scene in the 1970s Mel Brooks classic "Blazing Saddles." "We're not going to do them every week but fart and [poop] jokes are funny, and they have their place on TV every once in a while."

Throughout the fart conversation, Ms. Martindale, 62, chortled. She has been a working actor for years but really gained notice in FX's "The Riches" and "Justified," for which she won an Emmy.

Ms. Martindale said the biggest change in her life since her Emmy win is an ability to be more picky about taking work.

"I get to turn down jobs now, which is something that didn't happen before," she said. "I've worked all my life. You just didn't notice me."

She's also on FX's "The Americans," and Ms. Martindale hopes to be able to continue that role simultaneously with "The Millers."

"I always wanted to be on a sitcom," she said, "and then I started killing people [on TV shows] along the way. [But a sitcom is] all I wanted to do. ... I loved that this was a multi-camera sitcom because it feels like a stage. It's a different muscle, an old muscle for me, and I think that will keep me on my toes more."

'Ironside' redux

Blair Underwood, a 1988 Carnegie Mellon University grad, stars in a remake of the 1970s Raymond Burr series "Ironside" (10 p.m. Wednesdays starting Oct. 2 on NBC).

Paraplegic actors were not considered for the lead role, producers said, because actors were needed who could walk in flashback scenes before Ironside was in a wheelchair.

Mr. Underwood said he trained with a 35-year-old paraplegic who's been in a wheelchair since he was in a skiing accident at 19, and Ironside's self-sufficiency is based on that man.

"The first thing I noticed was he had no handles on his wheelchair, so we cut those off, and he said, 'Why would I want them? Whatever I can do for myself, I'll do for myself,' " Mr. Underwood said. "That speaks to some of his independence. Ironside is like that in terms of his self-sufficiency."

Mr. Underwood said the new show only borrows the name, occupation and wheelchair; otherwise everything else is new.

"It's a crime drama wrapped in a character study," Mr. Underwood said.

Producers said they have not decided whether they will use the original show's theme song.

Spader on 'The Blacklist'

James Spader ("Boston Legal") returns to prime time in NBC's "The Blacklist" (10 p.m. Mondays starting Sept. 23), playing a member of the FBI's most wanted list who turns himself in and agrees to help the FBI but only if he can work through a rookie profiler, Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone).

It's a pretty entertaining pilot that begins light and then takes darker turns as it goes.

Mr. Spader's character, Raymond "Red" Reddington, has a close-cropped, almost balding hairstyle, something Mr. Spader himself wanted to, in part, distinguish the character from his past TV roles.

"He's an entirely different person and I wanted him to have an entirely different look to go with that," Mr. Spader said of his formerly on-the-run criminal. "He's moving from place to place very quickly and I thought he should have a haircut he can do himself or go into some barbershop in a little town in Cambodia."

Mr. Spader said he thinks it won't be difficult for viewers to accept him as this character.

"People seem to have short memories when it comes to pop culture, but I think it does help whatever you come up with next that it be a departure and that the world be very different," he said. "If the world is very different, then the inhabitants of that world you accept if they're well drawn. It's easier to accept those actors as those characters and the world is very different here."

The show does have a bit of a "Silence of the Lambs" vibe in terms of the relationship between Red and Elizabeth, although executive producer John Eisendrath said Red is not a psychopath.

"We are all fans of that movie," Mr. Eisendrath said. "And we'd be lucky in some ways to be compared to it. But there's a big difference between the characters on our show and Hannibal and Clarice. Is he good, is he bad? What's his journey? Is it a journey of redemption or a journey of revenge?"

'Broadchurch' answers

My review of BBC America's "Broadchurch" will run in TV Week on Sunday but -- SPOILER ALERT! -- I really liked it.

"Broadchurch" is a smart, moving murder mystery about the investigation of a child's death in a small British town.

And viewers, especially those who watched "The Killing," can take solace in knowing the killer will be revealed by the end of the first season.

"If this had a dot-dot-dot at the end, it would have cheated the audience," said actress Jodie Whittaker, who plays the mother of the murdered boy.

"If at the end I don't get [an answer], it annoys me enough to not bloody well watch the next one," said actress Olivia Colman, who plays detective sergeant Ellie Miller. "Eight hours felt perfect: Not too much, not too short."

Cast members were kept in the dark about who the killer was until they received scripts for the last three episodes. And although the series ends with no loose ends, there are plans for a second season.

"At the end of episode eight in the UK, it said on screen, ' "Broadchurch" will be back,' " Ms. Colman said. "We all went, how is that going to happen? It is going to go again and that's as much as we know really. The whole thing was shrouded in secrecy. The premise we're not sure about. Who's in it we're not sure about."

Local ID show

Investigation Discovery's "Evil Twins" aired an episode earlier this month, titled "Blood Brothers," about identical twins from Donora, one of whom was a suspect in the murder of his father. Brian Calzacorto was later convicted of killing a neighbor in Florida.

The episode will repeat at 9 p.m. and midnight Aug. 27 and at 6 p.m. Aug. 31.

Channel surfing

E! will televise seasons two and three of Web series "Bachelor" spoof "Burning Love" sometime this fall. ... Sort of a cross between "Kitchen Nightmares" and "Shark Tank," CNBC launches a new reality show, "The Profit," tonight at 10. In it, Camping World chairman Marcus Lemonis agrees to help rehab businesses in exchange for a percentage of the profits. ... Two Pennsylvania children are finalists in the PBS Kids Go! Writers Contest. Haruka Doi, 7, of Pittsburgh won first place in the second grade category and will receive an Apple iPad mini; Cricket Branstrom, 7, of Russell, Warren County, came in third place among first grade winners and will receive an iPod. Their stories will be featured in rotation at PBS.org.

Read more coverage from the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Tuned In Journal at post-gazette.com/tv.

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A portion of this column originally appeared online in the Tuned In Journal blog. Post-Gazette TV writer Rob Owen is attending the Television Critics Association summer press tour. Follow RobOwenTV at Twitter or on Facebook. You can reach Rob at 412-263-2582 or rowen@post-gazette.com.


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