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Canadian Football League makes a “guest appearance” on The New Normal

- November 18th, 2012

cfl

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Is someone associated with The New Normal a Canadian Football League fan?

In light of the CFL Eastern final taking place today (Sunday, Nov. 18 on TSN) between the Toronto Argonauts and the Montreal Alouettes, I thought I’d point out something odd that I saw in a recent episode of the rookie sitcom The New Normal, which originates on NBC and also airs in Canada on CTV.

In a scene during the Oct. 23 episode (titled The Godparent Trap), David (Justin Bartha, pictured above left) was sitting on a couch watching TV when his partner Bryan (Andrew Rannells, pictured above right) walked into the room. There was a quick camera cut to what David was watching on TV.

It was a football game. But not an NFL game, or an NCAA game, as one might expect because of the show’s California setting.

Rather, any Canadian sports person instantly would recognize that it was a CFL game, between the Argos and Als. It was seen just for a second or two, but it gave me a good chuckle.

That’s a pretty wide-sweeping cable package that David has!

From Made in Jersey to maid in Jersey; fall TV’s winners and losers thus far

- October 12th, 2012

Janet Montgomery of Made in Jersey

It’s pretty early to be analyzing the winners and losers of the fall TV season. Some of the biggest new shows just debuted this week, with still more to come.

But snap judgments are fun, so why the hell not?

Please note that any mention of ratings pertains to U.S. ratings. While the performance of these series in Canada obviously is very important to CTV, Citytv and Global, the survival or cancelation of American shows is determined only by numbers in the United States.

WINNERS SO FAR

Revolution (NBC, Citytv)
This has been a non-electrified bolt of lightning and was rewarded when NBC announced last week that it was committing to a full season. These “Lost wannabe” types of series have not done well in recent years, so there must be something revolutionary about Revolution.

Go On (NBC, Global)
I’m still debating how funny this new Matthew Perry project actually is. It’s charming enough, though, and NBC has committed to a full season.

The New Normal (NBC, CTV)
One of the biggest-buzz new sitcoms, individual episodes have careened from hilarious (Obama Mama) to uncomfortable (Nanagasm) to suffocatingly preachy (Bryanzilla). Nonetheless, this got a full-season order from NBC, too.

CONDITIONAL WINNERS

The Mindy Project (Fox, Citytv)
The other biggest-buzz new sitcom, I was a bit surprised when, earlier this week, Fox picked it up for a full season so quickly. The numbers aren’t great, but sometimes you gotta dance with who you heavily promoted.

Ben and Kate (Fox, Citytv)
I thought Nat Faxon would be carrying this show, but Dakota Johnson was really funny in the episode titled Bad Cop/Bad Cop. Again, the numbers are mediocre at best, and it was a surprising full-season pickup by Fox so early. But I’m happy about it.

Vegas (CBS, Global)
Often retro is no-go for viewers, but the numbers for this 1960s-set project starring Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis have held up nicely. The audience skews old, though, which doesn’t impress advertisers.

Elementary (CBS, Global)
As a modern Sherlock Holmes, Jonny Lee Miller needs to dial down his performance just a little bit. But the ratings have been acceptable, even though this is yet another older-skewing show for CBS.

LOSERS SO FAR

Made in Jersey (CBS, Global)
Star Janet Montgomery (pictured above) just applied to be a “maid in Jersey.” Okay, bad joke. This is the first show to get yanked from a network sked.

The Mob Doctor (Fox, CTV)
This series is getting roughed up on Monday nights in the States (CTV is airing it on Sundays). Many observers expect it to get whacked soon.

Partners (CBS, Citytv)
These dudes aren’t faring any better on Mondays. Moving Two and a Half Men to Thursdays has hurt the CBS Monday comedy block more that most people expected.

666 Park Avenue (ABC, Citytv)
The previous plum timeslot of Sundays at 10 p.m. has become problematic for ABC. Last season Pan Am couldn’t fly. Now this series appears to be trapped in the basement with the ghosts.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Ellen Barkin burrows into the (Archie) Bunker on The New Normal

- September 5th, 2012

Cast of The New Normal

Archie Bunker was not a stereotype, according to Ellen Barkin. And she is insistent that her character on The New Normal won’t be one, either.

“At the end of the day, Archie Bunker was a humane person,” said Barkin (pictured above, far right, with her cast-mates on The New Normal). “He was afraid of the other, and as you watched (All in The Family) progress, you saw why he was afraid and he became a very complicated character.

“I think all of our characters (on The New Normal) are complicated and deep. None of these characters are dummies, so that’s where a stereotype comes in for me.”

The New Normal, which premieres Tuesday, Sept. 11 on NBC and CTV (preview on Monday, Sept. 10) , is a big-buzz sitcom that comes from the creative mind of Ryan Murphy, whose previous series include Nip/Tuck, Glee and American Horror Story. So no real pattern there.

The setup is that Bryan (played by Andrew Rannells) and David (Justin Bartha) are a gay couple in Los Angeles and they want to have a baby. Goldie (Georgia King) is a Midwestern waitress and single mother looking to escape her dead-end life and her big-personality grandmother known as Nana (Barkin). You can see where this is going.

Broke but fertile, Goldie bolts to California and becomes a surrogate mother for Bryan and David. But eventually Goldie is tracked down by Nana, who has some strong opinions on what’s occurring.

“It’s not going to be a stereotypical representation of some un-P.C., uninformed lunatic,” said Barkin, a former Emmy and Tony award winner. “This woman (Nana) is passionate about her beliefs. That passion comes from her own life experience. It comes from fear.

“She is informed. Now, whether or not she’s misinformed by the media that she’s surrounded by, you’ll see. But the point is, she’s not someone who doesn’t read and she’s in no way an ignorant bigot. I take great offence at that.

“She’s very articulate. Whether she’s right or wrong, my job as an actor is not to judge her. My job is to put myself in her shoes and find the truth in this woman, and I’m finding it easy to do that.”

Easy in what way? Barkin’s personal politics couldn’t be further removed from her character’s, after all.

“The way I’m doing it, if that’s interesting at all, since I think my own personal politics are pretty clear, is by just flipping my own passion, and that’s not hard,” Barkin said.

“But this isn’t a stereotypical liberal’s version of someone who doesn’t agree with their positions. Like Ryan Murphy did, I would beg people not to judge this character until they get to know her, because they are going to be very surprised.”

Hey, Archie Bunker sure lasted a long time on TV, so if Ellen Barkin’s Nana can tap into any of that, well done.

“The appeal was great,” Barkin said. “I think any actor who wouldn’t be interested in bringing Archie Bunker types back into the conversation at this point in our history would need to have their head examined.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv