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Oct 17, 2011

2011 TV Draft

by Tenessa Gemelke, Brandon Kruse, Joe Mulder, Jameson Simmons, & Mike Wagner

As you well know, for the past three years, around the time of the Academy Awards, we have held a Movie Draft where five of us pick actors from the pool of 20 Oscar nominees and then craft our own fake movies. It is both ridiculously fun and painstakingly arduous (to participate in and to read). Not satisfied with this annual endeavor, we (and by "we," we mean "Tenessa") suggested that we try our hand at a TV Draft based around the Emmys.

In the abstract, this appeared to be an excellent idea, and there was much rejoicing. In practice, this proved to be a little more difficult than we first imagined, as we soon realized the pool of Emmy-nominated actors was 48, not 20. And so, after a long, complicated series of brainstorms and arguments, during which time Mike may have died (we're still trying to get confirmation), we finally settled on a pool of 20 actors from which we could draft:

Alec Baldwin (30 Rock)
Julie Bowen (Modern Family)
Andre Braugher (Men of a Certain Age)
Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights)
Louis C.K. (Louie)
Steve Carell (The Office)
Jon Cryer (Two And A Half Men)
Mireille Enos (The Killing)
Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family)
Tina Fey (30 Rock)
Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory)
Michael C. Hall (Dexter)
Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)
Hugh Laurie (House)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
John Slattery (Mad Men)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
Sofia Vergara (Modern Family)
Betty White (Hot in Cleveland)

However, unlike the Movie Draft, this time around we did not also compile a list of fake titles to choose from. This may have been a mistake. And rather than picking actors for ourselves, we decided we should pick for others, with each person getting to assign one actor to each of the other participants over the course of the draft. This may also have been a mistake. But out of the ashes of mistakes can rise beautiful and glorious new ideas, and so, without further ado, we give you the first ever Poop Reading TV Draft...

Round 1, Pick 1: Brandon

I have no idea what to do here. There doesn't seem to be any clear strategic path. But I know how much Joe likes casting the sexy young starlets in his productions (they are the De Niro to his Scorcese, or, in TV parlance, the Fillion to his Whedon), so I guess I'll pick Betty White for Joe.

JOE: I'm very happy to have Betty White. One time, I ate a slice of her birthday cake. That's a true story. Although I think I'll probably plot out my show's story arcs in half-season increments. Just to be safe. She's not young, is what I'm saying.

MIKE: I thought you'd go with a "Brokaw taking vacation" tack and have her pre-tape a ton of stuff to use long after her death. I would love the episode in which Betty White dresses as Nixon's corpse and rises from the grave killing Gerald Ford.

JOE: This is definitely what we'll do. Or something very much like it. We'll make sure to bank a bunch of scenes of people saying stuff like, "Grandma, put down that vodka before you go skydiving," and Betty White screaming, "You can't tell me what to do!" before peeling out on a motorcycle. We'll shoot a few of those before we even shoot the pilot episode. Just in case.

MIKE: Give her two catchphrases and six blouses; you could go 200 episodes.

JOE: I've got a better idea: three catchphrases... NO blouses. Now THERE'S your show.

MIKE: (Throwing up in mouth but not looking away)

Round 1, Pick 2: Jameson

Christina Hendricks to Joe. Let's not give Joe a head start by assigning him all four actors before the rest of us even get our first, but still I couldn't resist adding Christina Hendricks to his already luscious cast. Not because of any bribes (though all of them were greatly appreciated), but because it's high time these ladies shared the screen (and, if we're honest, time is of the essence). I'm very hopeful they'll share a kiss in the pilot episode - one thing we know about Betty White: she's game for it.

And, in case you didn't know this about me and Betty White, I once ate a "slice" of her "birthday cake".

MIKE: I heard Joe's orgasm from here.

Round 1, Pick 3: Joe

Hm... Betty White and Christina Hendricks.

I don't want to give too much away, but... I think a certain down-on-her-luck call girl is going to have to move in with and care for her ailing, religious grandmother while trying to operate her escort business right under the old lady's nose. And this'll be a Showtime-y, Weeds-y edgy kind of thing, not some CBS sitcom.

(Wait; that gives everything away. Oh, well. So be it. It must be weird to have this thing already over and settled after the first two picks, but you guys have fun.)

Also, I will now immediately devote the rest of my life to inventing and perfecting time travel so I can go back, convince everyone to re-do our list of actors so that Kelly Macdonald is on it, and then give her to Jameson. That's how grateful I am for Christina Hendricks, and I think he knows that.

So... I'm not sure if this is in the spirit of the TV draft (although since it's a fake thing we just made up, and only started doing like 20 minutes ago, it could be argued that it doesn't have a "spirit" yet), but I'm going to reward him. And since simply asking him who he wants WOULD violate the nonexistent fake spirit of this enterprise, I'll play it relatively safe by giving him the universally-agreed-upon greatest person on earth: Alec Baldwin.

Enjoy him, Jameson. Do him proud. (By which I mean have sex with him, and be full of pride while you do.)

Round 1, Pick 4: Mike

I'm really moved by all of the lovely behavior. I was going to give Connie Britton to Tenessa, which would be like giving an iPad to my long-dead grandmother with the added benefit of crushing the rest of you, but I'm not going to do it. Instead, I think I'll do something kind but that also forces a hand a bit and give Eric Stonestreet to Brandon. We'll see if Brandon can do something with Stonestreet that won't relegate his show to The Michael Richards Show status with an iconic, but very specific kind of actor in his trust.

JAMESON: I'm very much looking forward to The Michael Richards Show with Eric Stonestreet as "Michael Richards", a hapless private eye who's embroiled in a decade-long lawsuit to win back the rights to his life story from the makers of The Michael Richards Show.

Round 1, Pick 5: Tenessa

Connie who?

I've known from the start that my first assignment would be Jon Hamm. You all think you want Jon Hamm, but now you'll be faced with this problem: "Oh, shit. Jon Hamm is in my show. Now I have to make sure I don't fuck it up, AND everyone else in the show will look like a pile of puke."

The question is, who gets Jon Hamm? It's tempting to pair him with Alec Baldwin just to see Jameson completely choke under the crippling pressure. And I like the idea of starting Mike off with only Jon Hamm on his canvas, but I don't trust the rest of you to finish that job properly.

I think we can all agree that it's virtually impossible to think of a palatable Jon Hamm/Eric Stonestreet vehicle. Jon Hamm goes to Brandon.

JOE: Brandon... Franklin and Bash, 2025: The Taller, Fatter Years. Feel free to use that.

BRANDON: Hamm and Stonestreet: Laurel and Hardy. You can get a new pair of underwear out of that bag over there.

MIKE: Do you know who young people love? Laurel and Hardy.

Round 2, Pick 1: Tenessa

And just to destroy the rest of you, Mike gets Louis C.K.

Round 2, Pick 2: Mike

By the way, Hamm to Brandon? HAMM TO BRANDON?? You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight? Connie Britton to Tenessa. Fuck everyone. (Though thanks for Louis C.K.!)

TENESSA: I may not have seen Friday Night Lights, but I've loved Connie Britton since Spin City. She was even good on 24, and female characters were almost never good on 24. Thanks for playing right into my hands, Mike!

MIKE: I can use IMDB too, Tenessa. You're screwed.

Round 2, Pick 3: Joe

Let's see... Julie Bowen is still out there... I can still give an actor to Brandon, or to Mike, if I so choose... What to do, what to do.

Gosh, you know, my feet feel kind of tired. It sure would be nice if somebody would rub them, while I think about whether to give Julie Bowen to Brandon, or to Mike. And I'm kind of thirsty. There's some delicious, cold beer in the fridge, but... the fridge is all the way over there. Alllllll the way over there...

If only there were something a guy could do, if he really wanted Julie Bowen...

MIKE: Funny, I just ordered 5 memberships in the Beer of the Month club in Joe's name. Lemme double-check that address...

BRANDON: Didn't I already give you Betty White, the gift that keeps on giving? Oh wait, no, the gift that keeps on giving is Christina Hendricks's breasts, and Jameson gave you those. Crap.

Mike gets Julie Bowen. I would have loved to have rewarded Brandon for his stoic dignity (I'll drink your beer, Mike, every drop of it... and I'm sure it'll have a nice, earthy, hoppy taste with lingering notes of desperation and shame), but, I flipped a coin. Mike was heads. It came up heads.

Blame Abraham Lincoln. (I was at a parking meter yesterday, so, I only had pennies.)

MIKE: And Joe, I know stuff about Tenessa. Probably enough to get her to pitch a show where Connie Britton makes out with chicks.

JOE: God, now I'm so glad that coin flip went the way it did...

Round 2, Pick 4: Jameson

This has turned out to be a lot more difficult than expected, because all of your shows have a lot of potential. Should I add Jesse Tyler Ferguson to Brandon's sausage fest and watch it become a sort of metrosexual-styled Men of a Certain Age? Should I pair up Connie Britton with Tina Fey (or maybe Jane Lynch) and see what kind of vagina-based humor our sole vagina owner can churn out? Or, since Mike is obviously making a real version of Oh, Louie with Louis C.K. and Julie Bowen, maybe they need Johnny Galecki as the stereotypical huffy teenaged son? I'd give anything to add Sofia Vergara to Joe's show at this point, but sadly the fate of his cast is in the hands of others now.

I am tempted to avoid actors I'm still hoping to get my hands on, but I also like the way the last three or four picks of every movie draft are this sort of joyless slog of parceling out people nobody has any use for (Galecki, Mireille Enos - is that a thing? - and, obviously, Steve Carell). So I'm going to split the difference and pick someone whom I don't want to fall to Round 4, but I am not dying to have in my show either: John Slattery.

It would be really fun to reunite Carol Vessey and Dennis Martino, and force Mike to create an Ed spinoff that takes place in an alternate reality where they get married (and then stranded on an island by a plane crash? inevitably?) but I can't live with the retaliation that will bring upon me so I'm going to give John Slattery to Tenessa. He and Connie Britton have both shown TV viewers that they can do serious drama and serious comedy well, so she should have a lot of interesting options with that.

JOE: Good luck with that cast, Tenessa. As we all know, Slattery will get you nowhere. BOOM! That's right. Slattery pun, bitches!

Round 2, Pick 5: Brandon

Jameson is the only one of us who has yet to receive a second actor, and given that he is in possession of a Weapon of Mass Baldwin, I think the next choice has to be made carefully, lest we allow his show to destroy us all. But looking over the remaining list, who do you pick to sabotage Baldwin? I thought long and hard about giving Jameson Tina Fey, with the idea that it would handcuff him because he would have to work extra hard to make his show NOT make you think of 30 Rock. But I can't in good conscience give someone else that much talent to work with. The trade-off wasn't worth the risk that he would come up with something of pure genius.

So instead, I think the best I can do here is try to chip away at his ability to use Baldwin for comedy. And the best choice for that assignment is clearly to stick Jameson with Mireille Enos, who, judging from her credits, has never met a procedural she didn't appear in. She was terrific in The Killing (even when the show was too busy pissing away all of its audience goodwill at the end of the season), but I don't see a single clear comedy credit in her filmography (and I know Jameson would never try to lobby on behalf of her tiny, one-shot appearance on Sex in the City, because he would never try to argue that that show was a comedy).

Round 3, Pick 1: Brandon

For my next pick, I must address this troubling regime that is gaining power in Nebraska. Louis C.K. AND Julie Bowen?? Good lord. That is dangerous. I don't even know if we can stop that at this point. The wheels are already in motion. All I can really do is throw the most useless person I can find at Wagner and hope maybe it trips him up, so... Johnny Galecki it is.

Round 3, Pick 2: Jameson

Now that this enterprise has "gone negative" I feel my only option is revenge. However, there is nobody left who would be particularly bad to saddle Brandon with (he took care of that!), so my best bet is to build up Mike's show and help it topple Brandon's weird topless Laurel & Hardy Revue.

It's hard to choose just one from the heavy-hitters still available to us, but given Mike's existing cast I think the best punch will come in the form of Ms. Emmy herself: Jane Lynch.

I hope Mike's show centers around Lynch and Bowen as sisters, with Bowen trying each week to extricate herself from a miserably dysfunctional long-term relationship with Louis C.K. and Johnny Galecki as the weird neighbor who wears his underpants on the outside.

Me, I'll be doing a meta comedy that takes place behind the scenes of Sex and the City and a lot of procedural dramas. Baldwin will play the slimy, lecherous talent agent. (There ARE other styles of Baldwin Comedy than Jack Donaghy, whether Brandon is ready to admit it or not. I'm thinking of combining Married to the Mob with The Cooler.)

BRANDON: Why eat hamburger when you can have steak? (Actually, depending upon the hamburger and steak in question, I'd probably choose hamburger over steak more than half the time, so now I just find this analogy confusing.)

JAMESON: If Jack Donaghy is steak and "Cucumber" Frank de Marco is hamburger, I'm dying to know what Canteen Boy's troop leader is. I'm hoping it's Slim Jim.

BRANDON: I don't know, what's the gayest meat? Pork tenderloin?

JAMESON: According to a Google search, it's a tie between this and this.

BRANDON: I see your corn dog and raise you this.

JAMESON: Looks like he's struggling to get into that baby. Perhaps the corn dog is trying to "pray the gay away"?

Round 3, Pick 3: Joe

I feel strongly that Brandon should be punished for taking this whole thing to an ugly, ugly place.

I feel more strongly, however, that Jon Hamm (as Laurel) and Eric Stonestreet (as Hardy) should be having a chat on a street corner, that Sofia Vergara should walk slowly by in a tight-fitting dress and a pair of high heels, and that Stonestreet should subsequently start blushing, saying "Hommina hommina hommina," fiddling the brim of his hat with his fingers, and biting on his tie.

So Brandon, in what I worry he can only conclude is positive reinforcement, gets Sofia Vergara. Use her wisely, my friend.

[It should probably be noted that I was generally going to stay away from pairing up people who were on the same show, just for variety's sake, but Cam and Gloria don't really have all that much to do with each other on Modern Family – apart from the occasionally shoe-horned in "Cam and Gloria don't really have all that much to do with each other, so let's give them something to do together" plot line – so I made an exception in this case.]

BRANDON: I will never get my comeuppance! You hear me? No comeuppance!!! (Sits and waits for his inevitable comeuppance.)

Round 3, Pick 4: Mike

Would it be worse to give Joe Jon Cryer or Hugh Laurie? I think that "Betty White, Christina Hendricks, and Jon Cryer" give the most According to Jim humor potential, which I suspect Joe is going for. But Laurie gives the possibility of Laurie shocking Americans with his non-House accent in real life. A British pimp would be pretty cool... Joe gets Hugh Laurie.

JOE: "Hey, Joe; do you want the most talented person in show business as part of your cast? Is that something you'd be interested in?"

"Uh... yes. Yes it is."

I'm thinking... scary town preacher. Maybe. Something like that. Hugh Laurie would kill it as a scary religious guy.

JAMESON: Fuck you fuck you fuckyoufuckyoufuckyou fuck YOUUUU!

MIKE: British Pimp! British Pimp!

JOE: Maybe I'll have him play the piano and sing. Maybe I'll have him do world-class close-up magic. Maybe I'll have him juggle...

I want him to play a small-town preacher. Mike wants him to play a British pimp. Maybe now, just to piss Jameson off, he'll play identical twins. Problem solved.

Round 3, Pick 5: Tenessa

You poor, dumb sonsabitches.

Joe had a chance to trap me in a hideous mess, but now the chips have fallen entirely in my favor. He and Brandon both have yet to assign someone to me, meaning I'll get two out of the last three actors standing. All I have to do is clear the decks of the actors who would truly crap up my show–and I have TWO consecutive chances to do so!

Sadly, the first one on my list is Tina Fey. She may be one of my favorite humans in television history. Still, for someone who can passionately declare that "Bitch is the new black," she completely lacks sincerity when she plays anyone other than herself. Date Night was a disaster in part because her lovable snark looked so empty next to Carrell's sympathetic earnestness. I can't bear the thought of putting her next to Connie Britton and making everybody feel sad for everybody else in all of humanity.

So, Tina, should I give you to Joe or Jameson? You would definitely distract from the Hugh Laurie-ness of Hugh Laurie, but there's too much potential for success in that cast. Let the Jack/Lemon chemistry live on! Tina Fey goes to Jameson. And I know we're all looking forward to seeing Mary Anus as the object of her disdain.

Round 4, Pick 1: Tenessa

While I'm tempted to give Joe Andre Braugher simply on the basis of his public racism, I have absolutely no use for Jon Cryer. Jon Cryer goes to Joe.

JOE: I also have no use for Jon Cryer... EXCEPT as the childhood friend of Christina Hendricks, who lived next door and always harbored feelings for her. Now she's back in town, he's devout and dorky and Jon Cryer-y...

As soon as I got Christina Hendricks and Betty White, I kind of thought to myself, "I don't want to get greedy, and I can't believe I'm about to say this... but I kind of hope I get Jon Cryer."

JAMESON: Oh, yeah. I said the same thing to myself about Meeirieierl Asspucker. Absolutely.

MIKE: It is my turn? I am assigning Jameson Michael Gross. Is that okay?

JAMESON: [470,000 simultaneous aneurysms...]

BRANDON: Well, at least Jameson died doing what he hates.

Round 4, Pick 2: Mike

In the event that Michael Gross is "against the rules" or some bullshit, I select Michael C. Hall for Jameson, only because, while he's great, I think he and Baldwin would have chemistry issues whereas Jesse Tyler Ferguson could take the "Jonathan/Donaghy vibe to more believable and more other-worldy places. And I kinda want Joe to get the black guy, even though he has said he thinks the one we have is awesome.

JOE: I don't think it. It's objectively true. Does no one watch Men of a Certain Age? (Actually, it got cancelled, so... I guess that answers that.)

Round 4, Pick 3: Joe

The question now is: does Tenessa want to do a comedy (Steve Carell), a drama (Andre Braugher), or a show on Bravo (Jesse Tyler Ferguson)?

She'll probably end up with Steve Carell, because nobody else seems to want him (too Michael Scott-y?), so I'll just make that my pick.

The PoopReading.com Pop-Culture Drafts: Saving Black People For Last Since 2009.

Round 4, Pick 4: Jameson

Yeah, I think that was one where people were holding out hope he'd fall to them? He's kind of a nice utility player, as opposed to Tina Fucking Fey who can only do comedy, or Michael Fucking C. Fucking Hall who can only do pay-cable drama.

I really don't feel like leaving Braugher for last, but I also think that having three Modern Family castmates together is the closest to "fucked" that Brandon is going to get – which isn't much, but considering he started with Jon Fucking Hamm, I don't think we had a chance of budging that needle very far toward the "fucked" end of the scale, no matter what we did. (Jesse Tyler Ferguson to Brandon, is what I'm fucking saying.)

Round 4, Pick 5: Brandon

I figured I was going to get the Modern Family trio treatment, and it does present some challenges. Still, I could always consider taking Charlie's Angels and turning it on it's ear, with Vergara as a female "Charlie" and Hamm, Stonestreet, and Ferguson as gay Angels. Not saying I will do that... but I'm also not saying I won't.

Tenessa, you get Andre Braugher blah blah excellent actor blah blah Homicide, Men of a Certain Something, blah blah we're terrible people.

THE SHOWS

Brandon: Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jon Hamm, Eric Stonestreet, Sofia Vergara

TITLE: Taking Flight
GENRE: 30-minute single-camera sitcom
NETWORK OR CABLE: Cable
EPISODES PER SEASON: 10

Taking Flight follows the lives of a flight crew based out of Los Angeles, with each episode exploring both the personalities of the crew and the dynamics of their work environment, as well as their absurd interactions with various passengers. The model here is very much Party Down. Since flight crews will often work together for a month, each season will cover a month or so of time, with episodes taking place at many different points in the flight process: there might be an episode set entirely around pre-boarding flight check, another during boarding, another in-flight, and also exploring delays, layovers, and security. Much like Party Down, each episode will start with a title card that gives the details of that day's flight or situation.

Captain Stan Thomas (Jon Hamm) is friendly, handsome, and great at his job, but completely incompetent when it comes to dealing with women. He falls apart in the presence of a woman he finds attractive, which is unfortunate, because lots of attractive women find him attractive. His First Officer and co-pilot is Joey "Bomber" Enbom (Eric Stonestreet), a big, foul-mouthed, crude hurricane of a man with no filter and a bit of a drinking problem. He's been reprimanded and even suspended over less-than-customer-friendly interactions with passengers in the past. He's also married with kids. The head flight attendant is Paulina Rodriguez (Sofia Vergara), who is as whip-smart as she is beautiful, which allows her to fend off the come-ons she receives from male passengers (and Bomber) with aplomb. In her spare time she's working on a novel. She has a crush on Captain Thomas, but is afraid to pursue it because of the complications of their working relationship, and is often confused by his uncomfortable behavior around her. Her second-in-command is Neil Etheridge (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), who is uptight, gay (okay, not everyone escapes typecasting), and a stickler for enforcing the passenger rules. He quietly resents Paulina's sometimes lax attitude, and would love to take her job. He puts up with all kinds of ball-breaking, offensive nonsense from Bomber, but the big shocker (that will revealed at some point down the line) is that they once had drunken sex with each other.

There will also be a Second Officer (flight engineer) and a third flight attendant, but those characters will change each season. There will also be loads of opportunities for well-known guest actors to portray passengers, mechanics, baggage handlers, rampers, TSA personnel, etc.

Tenessa: Andre Braugher, Connie Britton, Steve Carell, John Slattery

TITLE: The Mountain
GENRE: One-hour drama
NETWORK OR CABLE: Network
EPISODES PER SEASON: 22

Midlife doesn't have to be a crisis. It can be a fresh start. At least that's what Casper Jennings (Connie Britton) thinks. That's why she gave up her lucrative real estate career to build this place. At Reconsider Ranch in the mountains of Montana, people come to take stock of their lives. This isn't your typical rest-and-relaxation resort. Guests have to qualify by sending in a 500-word essay explaining why they've reached a healthy but difficult crossroad. Each episode begins with an arrival montage and voiceovers of three different guest characters reading parts of their essays.

The staff at the ranch consists of others who've already reinvented themselves. Jeff Jefferson (Steve Carell) is a juggling instructor, a pretty bad singer, and a therapist who offers private and group sessions to ranch visitors. Ernie Henderson (Andre Braugher) used to be a heart surgeon, but he's now the ranch's recreation director and resident cowboy. He offers sly but affectionate observations during horseback expeditions.

Will Seaver (John Slattery) is an unemployed landscape architect who arrives as a guest at the ranch in the pilot episode. Casper agrees to let him stay and work as a groundskeeper while he figures out what's next.

Written to be a family favorite in the tradition of The Love Boat, and Moonlighting, the show takes funny, sexy turns. Some episodes make you cry. Some make you shriek with laughter. And every episode makes you think about the unexamined possibilities in your own life.

Joe: Jon Cryer, Christina Hendricks, Hugh Laurie, Betty White

TITLE: Coeur d'Alene
GENRE: One-hour drama
NETWORK or CABLE: Premium cable
EPISODES PER SEASON: 13

Sylvia Samuels (Christina Hendricks) has just returned to Kellogg, the largest town (population 2,395) in Shoshone County, Idaho. She grew up there, and left as soon as she could. She made a small fortune working as an escort in New York, then Miami, then Las Vegas, then Seattle, always fleeing town one step ahead of serious personal and financial trouble. She spent a large portion of her earnings on clothes, booze, travel, and drugs; the rest she just wasted (an old joke, but it still gets the job done). When she gets word that her grandmother's condition is deteriorating, she senses the perfect opportunity to abandon the unsatisfying life she's made for herself without admitting defeat – make no mistake, though; that life has soundly defeated her – and she moves back in with fundamentalist Grandma Greta (Betty White).

Old habits die hard, however, and she soon finds herself "working" again, from the nearby resort town of Coeur d'Alene to neighboring Spokane to the Indian casinos dotting the northern Idaho landscape. She spends the rest of her time dodging the affections of childhood neighbor, lovesick would-be paramour, and all-around creep Lance Coopersmith (Jon Cryer), only to learn that he has grown up to become the sheriff of Shoshone County. Complicating matters are the constant visits of the judgmental, foreboding Reverend Lukas (Hugh Laurie) to Grandma Greta, his most devout parishioner, as well as the Rasputin-like sway that Reverand Lukas has over Lance, who is, in effect, the sparsely-populated county's only law.

Once Grandma Greta gets an inkling of what Sylvia is up to, in fact, she enlists Lance and Reverend Lukas to help straighten her out. Coeur d'Alene, Grandma Greta patiently explains as she is flanked by Lukas and Lance, translates as "the heart of an awl." French fur traders, she tells Sylvia, gave that appellation to the local Indian tribe, whom they found as sharp, hard and unyielding as the woodworking tool that would come to be their namesake.

That's where sinful big city life will lead you, Grandma Greta says. To a hard, unyielding heart. And so, with the help of Sheriff Lance and Reverend Lukas, Grandma is going to make damned sure that Sylvia stays out of Coeur d'Alene.

Mike: Julie Bowen, Louis C.K., Johnny Galecki, Jane Lynch

TITLE: Louie's La Realite
GENRE: Reality
NETWORK OR CABLE: Cable
EPISODES PER SEASON: 13

After reinventing late night on Conan O'Brien's staff and then owning the summer of 2011 with the comedy show he controls with impunity, the only genre left for Louis C.K. to conquer is reality TV. Of course, Louie's La Realite (French for "Louie's Reality") is a reality show that only Louis C.K. could put together. Louie is the only one who knows he's filming a reality show. Castmates Julie Bowen, Jane Lynch, and Johnny Galecki think they are filming the new season of Louie. C.K.'s Hollywood social experiment baffles Jane Lynch with his lack of preparation for a show he ostensibly controls, creeps out everyone with his constant inappropriate amorous pursuit of the married Julie Bowen, and creates his own personal "What Would You Do?" with Lynch and Bowen via his hilariously cruel treatment of Johnny Galecki.

The "confessional" aspect of the show for the other castmates is when they believe they are doing DVD commentary interviews with Louie, while C.K's own confessional typically has him pouring over the minutiae of his guilt for lying to Bowen and Lynch (though he actually kind of enjoys giving it to Galecki). Louie somehow turns the tables on himself halfway through the season and decides he can't keep showing Lynch and Bowen crappy scripts for the show they actually aren't making - so he starts working really hard to put together another hilarious season of Louie: a season that will never actually be televised, to win Lynch's respect and (he hopes, so it seems) Bowen's affections. Galecki's on his own...

Jameson: Alec Baldwin, Mireille Enos, Tina Fey, Michael C. Hall

TITLE: Jobs
GENRE: One-hour drama
NETWORK: Network
EPISODES PER SEASON: 22

Alec Baldwin plays Steve Mack, the brilliant, temperamental co-founder and CEO of the world's most profitable company. He has spent almost 40 years revolutionizing the computer industry and designing world-class tools for creative people and consumers. When health reasons cause him to step down from his leadership position, he expects to spend more time at home, relaxing and enjoying his family.

But he's a born innovator. He can't switch off his innate ability to look at something (a process, a product, or a situation) and see how it can be improved. He spends two weeks idle, just kicking back, and becomes restless and irritable. (Shots of him micromanaging the landscape crew, showing his daughter how to do her homework "more effectively", and wearing down the girl behind the counter at Subway with an exhaustive lecture on efficiency and resource management.) His down time has also enabled him to watch the news for the first time in years, and he's amazed by what he sees. He understands the economic crisis from a business perspective, but this is his first exposure to the personal stories of the frustrating job market. He decides to bring his natural innovative talents to bear on the problem (along with years of business experience, and connections in finance and politics), and devise a plan to create jobs for every American who wants one – a bottom-up process that will grow the economy and restore American prosperity. He knows the value of building things incrementally, so he posts anonymously to some online forums and waits for like-minded talent to find him.

Within a week, he's meeting with Michael C. Hall and Mireille Enos, a husband-wife team who have been running job counseling seminars at community colleges and homeless shelters, having success but struggling to reach a broader audience. Hall was a home builder before the crunch, and has experience with the working class jobs that represent the foundation of our economy and also provide the gateway to higher-paying opportunities. Enos acted in porn films for a few years before leaving to work in entertainment law when the transition to legitimate acting never panned out. They're creative, resourceful people with a strong work ethic, but it's getting hard for them to keep their family afloat on the money they make from job counseling. Baldwin's character funds the startup of a non-profit and brings them on as co-founders. They approach the problem from multiple fronts: community outreach and training, assistance in locating transportation and childcare, online job databases and resources including apps (one neglected segment of the jobs problem is moving white-collar workers into better jobs to create openings at the entry level), and lobbying for systemic reform. Before long, they're working with Senator Gretchen Ibex, D-CA (Tina Fey) to enact the tax and regulatory reforms that will help in their efforts.

Episodes of Jobs will strike a balance between West Wing-style drama about building the non-profit, making it successful, and negotiating the politics (season-long arcs) and the Quantum Leap/The Fugitive setup of meeting someone new each week and solving their problems in an hour (individual episode storylines).

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