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POSTED: Thursday, October 10, 2013, 10:16 PM
This photo released by Fox shows the McKinley family of the past and present joining together to remember and celebrate the life of Finn Hudson in "The Quarterback" episode of "Glee." The high school musical drama said goodbye to Finn, its beloved singer-quarterback, while paying tribute to Cory Monteith, the late actor who had portrayed him, in a much-anticipated episode that aired Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013. (AP)

It should be no surprise that "Glee" responded to the death of Finn Hudson the way it responds to everything: by singing, from the opening group number, "Seasons of Love," from "Rent," to individual performances that included "I'll Stand By You," "Fire and Rain," "If I Die Young" and "No Surrender."

But since Finn wouldn't be gone if Cory Monteith wasn't, the tears in Thursday's episode probably weren't just acting.

The surprise -- for those who hadn't encountered spoilers, at least -- was what the show that's converted nearly every imaginable issue, small, large and in between, into A Very Special Episode of "Glee" managed to avoid trying to construct an explanation for Finn's absence that would somehow mirror the sad truth of Monteith's death from an overdose.

POSTED: Monday, September 30, 2013, 2:38 PM

"Breaking Bad" went out with a bang for AMC, which was crowing Monday about the 10.3 million viewers Nielsen estimates watched the 9 p.m. finale Sunday.

That's a record for the series, whose 6.7 million viewers aged 18-49  also had it up 300 percent in that demo from last summer's midseason ender. (Those are the people advertisers were trying to reach with all those commercials.)

And despite a night of premieres on cable and broadcast networks that attracted nicknames like "Dramageddon" and Dramalanche," 4.4 million stayed tuned to AMC after the show ended at 10:15, to hear "Breaking Bad" Vince Gilligan explain himself in the post-show "Talking Bad."

POSTED: Sunday, September 29, 2013, 11:02 PM

"We knew we needed to dot all the i's and cross all the t's," "Breaking Bad" creator said Sunday night, in the AMC post-show "Talking Bad."

"It's a story that starts at A and ends at Z," he said. (Quote corrected from earlier version.)

Do tell.

POSTED: Wednesday, September 11, 2013, 4:27 PM

There's still no way to know if anyone will survive this season of AMC's "Breaking Bad," but it looks as if Bob Odenkirk won't be looking for work immediately.

AMC and Sony  confirmed Wednesday that they'd reached a "licensing agreement" for a one-hour spinoff of the show, starring Odenkirk's character, a lawyer who's been providing advice, legal and otherwise, to chemistry teacher-turned-meth mogul Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and his cooking partner Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul)  since Season 2.

"As conceived, the new series is based on the show’s popular Saul Goodman character with the working title 'Better Call Saul.' Plans call for 'Saul' to be a one-hour prequel that will focus on the evolution of the popular Saul Goodman character before he ever became Walter White’s lawyer," said the statement from AMC, which didn't specify whether AMC was ordering a pilot or going directly to series or to what extent "Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan would be involved.

POSTED: Tuesday, September 10, 2013, 1:11 PM
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“Back is beautiful,” declared Arsenio Hall Monday, and so are the first-night numbers for his return to late night TV after 19 years, with the debut of the syndicated “Arsenio Hall Show” beating every other late-night show on broadcast TV in the advertiser-targeted demos of 18-49 and 25-54 in Nielsen’s 25 “people meter” markets, which include Philly.

Because the Eagles and the U.S. Open overrun delayed both ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman,” Hall’s PHL17 debut at 11 p.m. went head to head here with only “The Tonight Show” (and only from 11:30 to midnight). In that half-hour, though, Arsenio beat his friend Jay Leno (who made a surprise appearance at the top of the new show). Locally, the show scored a 1.8 rating/4 share in households and a 1.8/5.7 among 25- to 54-year-olds. (Each local household ratings point equals 29,490 TV households. Share is the percentage of sets in use tuned to a particular show.)

POSTED: Tuesday, August 20, 2013, 1:04 PM
Author Elmore Leonard smiles during a 2012 interview at his home in Bloomfield Township, Mich. Leonard, a former adman who later in life became one of America's foremost crime writers, has died. He was 87. (PAUL SANCYA / Associated Press)

“I never thought of him as any kind of super-intellect...He likes what he does. That’s the main thing.”

That’s novelist Elmore Leonard talking about Raylan Givens, the character he created and that Timothy Olyphant brought to life in FX’s “Justified.”

But Leonard, who died Tuesday at 87 from complications of a recent stroke, might easily have been talking about himself.



POSTED: Thursday, August 15, 2013, 10:25 AM
Kevin McKidd before an ABC party in Beverly Hills earlier this month

One of his co-stars on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” has announced she’ll be leaving the show at the end of the coming season and another races cars to add some excitement to his life, but Kevin McKidd says he’s happy just where he is, thank you.

“I’m from the Highlands of Scotland...Istill can’t believe — I still pinch myself — that I’m living in like Hollywood, on a TV show, playing this great character, with these amazing actors around me,” said the Scottish actor at an ABC party in Beverly Hills earlier this month.

As the show returns Sept. 26, McKidd’s entering his sixth season as Dr. Owen Hunt and “I just feel very lucky,” he said.


POSTED: Monday, August 12, 2013, 3:05 PM
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, left, and Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in a scene from "Breaking Bad." (AP)

The return Sunday of "Breaking Bad" for its final eight episodes broke a ratings record for the critically acclaimed series, attracting 5.9 million viewers, a whopping 102 percent increase over last summer's Season 5 premiere, according to AMC.

(For those playing along at home: The fifth and final season has been broken up over two summers. For maximum agony.)

Of the 5.9 million who tuned in to see the latest adventures of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a high school chemistry teacher-turned-meth mogul, it's estimated 3.6 million were between the ages of 18 and 49 -- the sweet spot for most advertisers. That put the series, or a least this episode of it, just behind AMC's "The Walking Dead," which is No. 1 in that demographic among all cable networks.

About this blog
As the TV critic for the Philadelphia Daily News, I've always believed my job is less about thumbs -- up or down -- and more about the conversation. Because the more choices we have, the fewer people in our lives know what we're talking about when we say, "Did you see that?" And that's when television really starts to get interesting. Reach Ellen at graye@phillynews.com.

Ellen Gray Daily News TV Critic
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