Televised tidbits from around the dial
Doctor Who?—Producers of the BBC’s revitalized “Doctor Who” series have announced their replacement for current star David Tennant. The 11th actor to take on the role of the time-traveling Doctor is 26-year-old unknown Matt Smith. The gangly, tousle-haired Smith looks like he’s in an emo band, and his hiring could be seen as a rather blatant move to court today’s tween-age Twilight crowd. Producers claim he’s the right man for the job, though, and the strength of the new “Doctor Who” has rested mostly on its clever, up-to-date writing. Unfortunately, the show’s executive producer, Russell Davies, will be leaving the show along with Tennant. Taking over is new head man Steven Moffat (who gave us BBC hits “Coupling” and “Jekyll”). Tennant and Davies took it pretty easy in their last season, delivering a handful of seasonal “specials,” which are expected to air stateside in 2009. The Smith-centric season of “Doctor Who” should hit our airwaves in 2010.
Who Needs Cable?—Showtime is jumping the gun on its new season. The series premiere of the Toni Collette-led comedy/drama “The United States of Tara” will be available to watch instantly on Netflix starting Thursday, Jan. 8—that’s a full two weeks prior to the show’s debut on Sunday, Jan. 18. “The United States of Tara,” about a suburban wife and mother struggling with multiple personality disorder, is written by Diablo Cody (Juno) and produced by Steven Spielberg. In addition to the “Tara” download, the final season premiere of the acclaimed series “The L Word” and the BBC import “Secret Diary of a Call Girl” will be available to Netflix subscribers day and date with their premieres (also Jan. 18). Of course, you’ll need a Netflix account, a computer or any one of several Netflix-enabled devices.
I’ll Drink to That—Indie icon Steve Buscemi (Reservoir Dogs) and “Dawson’s Creek” alum Michael Pitt have been cast in a new HBO pilot to be written by Terence Winter (“The Sopranos”) and directed by Martin Scorsese. Based on the book by Nelson Johnson, “Boardwalk Empire” revolves around the head of an Atlantic City bootlegging ring and his young protégé at the onset of Prohibition. The show is expected to air sometime this year.
A Match Made in Sweeps Week?—Did faux-Goth magician Criss Angel (star of A&E’s “Criss Angel Mindfreak”) ask Playboy model Holly Madison (star of E!’s “The Girls Next Door”) to marry him? Maybe. The two were spotted shopping for rings in Las Vegas on Christmas Eve. Could I care less? Definitely not. ... Except for the inescapable fact that it could lead to a whole new, thoroughly frightening reality show.
The Key Is D—A trailer for DreamWorks’ new animated film Monsters Vs. Aliens will air in 3-D on NBC during this year’s Super Bowl (Feb. 1). But that’s not the best part. The very next night, NBC will air a special 3-D episode of the spy comedy “Chuck.” More than 150 million pairs of 3-D glasses will be distributed for the events.