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TV Critics Tour: The next 'Fargo' will forgo big stars (maybe)

'Fargo' will be returning for a second season

Beverly Hills -- "Fargo" will return for a second season - no surprise - and will be written (along with assists by a number of top writers) by Noah Hawley - also no surprise - and will eventually be a huge magnet of commentary, bloviation and gaseous analysis by critics (like me.)

Again, no surprise. But here is the surprise: FX chief John Landgraf said Monday that fans should not expect...

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TV Critics Tour: Can 'Sons of Anarchy' be redeemed?

From left, Creator Kurt Sutter, Director Paris Barclay

(Credit: AP)

Beverly Hills -- As longtime fans know, "Sons of Anarchy" is one of TV's smarter series. It's an endlessly inventive plot pretzel that showcases writing, acting, and direction at a very high level and has done so more or less consistently for six seasons.

But "SOA" also has a deeply twisted soul. It doesn't celebrate violence, but it doesn't condemn violence either. Last season ended with...

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TV Critics Tour: A death in 'The Simpsons' family

Will Krusty the Clown die?

(Credit: Fox Broadcasting)

Beverly Hills -- Fans of "The Simpsons" learned some time ago that the show would "kill off" a key character this season -- "kill off" being but a transitory condition in the realm of animated series often but not always measured in episodes, or until the fan outcry is so annoying that the creators have no choice but to relent and bring the deceased back to life. 

 But that's beside...

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James Garner: An appreciation

James Garner, in character, on April 7, 1982.

(Credit: AP / Anonymous)

Combative, intelligent, sensitive, hard-driving, tough and above all talented, James Garner -- who died Saturday at the age of 86 -- did share one trait in common with so very many gifted people: He was complicated. He took a cauldron of life experiences and turned them into choices that defined to some extent what we see on television today, for the rootstock of Walter White is indeed, to some...

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James Garner dead at 86; a look back at his iconic roles

Actor James Garner, left, smiles as he holds

(Credit: AP / Lennox McLendon)

James Garner, one of TV's great and iconic actors, has died age 86 — and before we get to the appreciation, please appreciate these series of clips that illustrate Garner's natural ability to convey sex appeal, intelligence, authority and, above all, charisma in dozens of TV roles, and many, many movie ones as well.

As his old pal (and co-star) Julie Andrews has written of Garner, "he owns...

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TV Critics Tour: New Showtime series, 'The Affair,' to be shot on LI

British actress Ruth Wilson, who will star in

Beverly Hills -- "The Affair," a Showtime newcomer arriving in October and starring Ruth Wilson and Dominic West, will be shot over the full 10-episode season in Montauk, showrunner Sarah Treem said yesterday.

And yes - that is unusual because the Hamptons and points east are considered (in fact are) enormously expensive places to shoot a series, while other LI-based series, like "Royal Pains"...

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TV Critics tour: 'Homeland' arrives in October

This photo released by Showtime shows Claire Danes

(Credit: AP)

Beverly Hills -- "Homeland" will be back Oct. 5 -- a Sunday, so don't bother checking the calender. The return date was announced here Friday, and just to add a little salt with that pepper, Showtime also unveiled the first new season tease (see below).

This season -- by the way -- is currently in production in South Africa... South Africa? Yes, South Africa, and not because the storyline...

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TV Critics Tour: Wentworth Miller joins 'The Flash'

Wentworth Miller as Michael Scofield on Fox's "Prison

(Credit: Fox)

Beverly Hills -- CW's "The Flash" - easily one of the more enjoyable new pilots (and hopefully series) of the 2014 fall season - will add Wentworth Miller to the cast, as Leonard Snart, or perhaps better known to fans as "Captain Cold." Announced Friday by the showrunners, who already had strewn a handful of other Easter eggs throughout this newcomer, for fans of both the long-running DC Comics...

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TV Critics Tour: Mark Harmon to appear (sporadically) in 'NCIS: New Orleans'

Scott Bakula joins the new CBS "NCIS" spinoff

(Credit: AP)

Beverly Hills -- And now, "NCIS: New Orleans." Not to be confused with "Los Angeles" or simply "NCIS" - the mother ship that itself was spawned from a long-ago CBS procedural, "JAG," and which proved that there's no such as a good and well-executed idea that can't be repeated over...and over...and ...over again.

"NCIS" doesn't get a whole lot of critical love, or Emmy love, but both are utterly...

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TV Critics Tour: Morgan Freeman may join cast of CBS' 'Madam Secretary'

Morgan Freeman and Tea Leoni speak during the

(Credit: AP / Invision / Richard Shotwell)

BEVERLY HILLS -- Morgan Freeman, one of the greats, has not really spread all that much greatness to TV in recent decades, other than his ongoing role in "Through the Wormhole" (though not as an actor, but host). So that makes his presence at a "tour" for TV programming all that much more intriguing: As is, why exactly is Morgan Freeman here? 

He's here because he's one of the executive producers, along with Barbara Hall, of CBS' new drama, "Madam Secretary," starring Tea Leoni as secretary of State. Nevertheless, why? (Lori McCreay, Morgan's production partner at Revelations Entertainment, is also an executive producer of "Madam Secretary.") 

When asked whether he might have an on-air role, he said, "not at this point" -- "at this point" being one of those pregnant phrases chock full of ambiguity and promise.

He was earlier asked whether he might at one point play the president in this ensemble cast. (Keith Carradine is currently in that role.) Evoking the Shadow's old line, said he: "One never knows, do one?"

Well, the Shadow knows. Freeman hasn't spent a lot of his career behind the scenes in a production capacity -- but he has on occasion. For example, he was an executive producer of his film "Invictus." He also starred on "Invictus."  

Freeman was asked whether he watched much TV. He paused, thought, then noted that he loved "The West Wing" -- which isn't a CBS series. He then quickly added "The Good Wife" to that short list.

Otherwise, no he doesn't -- just news.

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