FTW vs. WTF: The TV Week in Review (August 4)

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Without light there can be no dark. Neither good nor evil cannot exist without the other. For every yin there is a yang. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Breaking Bad and, er, Under the Dome. The rules of the universe apply to the boob tube, too, and every Sunday we like to wrap up the good and the bad of the preceding seven days in television with a little ditty we like to call FTW vs. WTF. You know, just to keep our world from falling apart. Though with all that said, we hope you like gray areas, because we've got a record number (three!) of combo FTWTFs this week. Here we go.




Sundance Channel's The Writers' Room

Debuting with an episode featuring the Breaking Bad creative team didn't hurt—Vince Gilligan and his staff certainly are a charming, super-smart bunch, and Bryan Cranston even showed off his new BrBa tattoo!—but we can't wait to see more of insightful, how-the-sausage-is-made series (hosted by Community's Jim Rash!), which also plans to visit with the scribes of Parks and Recreation, Dexter, and more.



Fox ADHD's Axe Cop

Nick Offerman. Ken Marino. Stories originally conceived by a five-year-old kid. What more do you need?



More Whose Line Is It Anyway? on The CW

The return of Whose Line Is It Anyway? has been a welcome respite from the doldrums of summer TV, and so there was much rejoicing at TV.com HQ when The CW picked it up for an expanded second season of 24 episodes. Just one tip: Lose the celebrity guests next season. Random people from the audience are way more fun to watch.



FX's plan for The Strain

The network's upcoming adaptation of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hagan's trilogy of vampire novels is already pretty highly anticipated around these parts: Lost and Bates Motel showrunner Carlton Cuse is working with del Toro to bring it to the airwaves, and House of Cards' Corey Stoll is starring. But at FX's TCA executive session, network head honcho (and all-around smart guy) John Landgraf announced that they already have episode and season limits (39-65 and 3-5, respectively) in mind for the show. Pre-planning doesn't always work, but knowing end dates early, especially for high-concept series, is a really good idea.



FX and Showtime declare the end of anti-heroes

In another nugget coming out of the TCAs this week, the aforementioned John Landgraf agreed with Showtime's David Nevins that TV has perhaps reached the end of the anti-hero era that spawned Dexter Morgan, Tony Soprano, Nucky Thompson, and SAMCRO. The network bosses cited Breaking Bad's Walter White as the be-all, end-all, most ultimate darkest main character-guy ever... times infinity. Is this the real deal, or just a sneaky ploy to scare people away from writing more anti-heroes, leaving FX and Showtime free to rule the "compelling bad dude" roost?  



Billy Bob Thornton is gonna star in FX's Fargo miniseries

Yep, in the Coen brothers' TV adaptation of their 1996 film, Bad Santa himself will portray Lorne Malvo a "rootless, manipulative man who" according to the Hollywood Reporter, "meets a small-town insurance salesman and sets him on a path of destruction." According to Thornton's IMDB page, he hasn't spent this much regular time on the small screen since his roles in 1992's Hearts Afire, and 1990's The Outsiders.



Bryan Cranston got a Breaking Bad tattoo

Bryan Cranstons Breaking Bad logo tattoo

To commemorate all the melted bathtubs, Aztec murders, wheelchair explosions, bean-meth, and straight-up madness beneath the floorboards, the Walter White portrayer had the show's logo tattooed on himself by a member of the art department who also does that kind of thing. What a goof!



Adult Swim's secret ad buy during Fox's ADHD debut

Through some sneaky maneuvering, the genius interstitial writers at Adult Swim crashed the premiere of Fox's new Saturday-evening cartoons with the following message: "The preceding content has been a work of fiction. Any resemblance to networks, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Pay close attention to the label. Many suitcases look alike. You may find yourself at a beautiful network, with a beautiful suitcase. You may ask yourself, How did I get here?" Translation: Respect your elders, Fox!



Nike's new ad featuring dunkmeister Blake Griffin

This gem, which harkens back to the days of Michael Jordan and Mars Blackmon, hasn't hit televisions yet (or at least we haven't seen it), but it has debuted on the internet and it's a thing of beauty. Just like the Clippers forward's aerial acrobatics.





The trailer for Fox's MasterChef Junior

Assistant producer: "Should we, you know, lower the shelves so kids can reach plates and spices and stuff?" Executive producer: "You're fired." We're probably not supposed to be looking forward to this show, but we so totally are. 



Brooks takes a dump on The Bachelorette


Holy hell, Monday night's episode was one long, horrifying, crying jag, and we still do not envy Desiree one bit. But we kind of have to hand it to Brooks for exploding the show's very premise by thoughtfully considering the notion that a TV show might not be the straightest path to true love, and being honest about his uncertainty over whether Miss Hartsock is really THE ONE.



You get a baby! You get a baby! YOU get a baby! Babies for everyone!

The popular Pakistani show Amaan Ramzan did some good for its ratings by handing out abandoned infants to couples who could not have their own kids. We're happy these children will have homes, but is this display of altruism anything but a publicity stunt? "We were already top of the ratings before we gave away a baby," said the show's host, in response to such an accusation. So, uh, how long until NBC greenlights The Big Baby Giveaway?





Fox is planning its own Broadchurch

The critically acclaimed, David Tennant-starring British crime drama Broadchurch hits the states next week on BBC America and is already planning a second season, but that hasn't stopped Fox from developing its own adaptation. We know that American networks love lifting crime series ideas from far-away places, but this seems a little soon—and kind of odd, since Broadchurch will probably still be airing new episodes on BBCA when Fox's version debuts.



Arrow might become the vehicle for a fast-tracked The Flash series


We totally get that superheroes are big money-makers, and that Arrow was among the very few network hits last season, so it makes sense to want another superhero show on your schedule. We just think it's a little odd to spin out a show for The Flash, no matter what kind of "extraordinary event" the writers might have planned to suddenly justify superpowers in Arrow's universe.



Network and cable provider spats

This time the sparring parties are CBS and Time Warner Cable, and the latter has dropped the former in HUGE markets—including New York and Los Angeles—over increased licensing fees. How will Hollywood watch Under the Dome!?!?!? If cable companies are going to act like monopolies, can they at least be decent monopolies?



No more Ann and Chris on Parks and Rec



Even though they've been largely marginalized lately (especially Chris), it still feels kind of weird to know they'll be peace-ing out in the middle of the season. We don't like it.


What's on  YOUR list of TV loves and hates this week?

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