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FX at TCA: More Louie, Wilfred, Philly. Less Pants.

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The Rescue Me Panel, including Tolan (second from left), still with pants. / FX

Saturday is my last day at TCA TV critics’ press tour in LA (my colleagues will have to soldier on without me for ABC’s final presentation), and the network of the day was FX, which updated us as to what’s going on in the worlds of tortured male antiheroes and raunchy comedy. Some of the highlights:

* In the last year, FX was the bearer of bad news in canceling first-season shows like Lights Out and critical favorite Terriers. Today, FX president John Landgraf got to play good cop, with plenty of happy news for fans of existing FX shows. Happiest for TV land, Louie is getting picked up for a third season–great news, but not surprising given that (1) the show’s ratings are dramatically up, (2) it’s getting awards nominations and insane critical love and (3) it costs about as much as five seconds of CGI dragon on Game of Thrones.

Wilfred, which Landgraf called the channel’s most successful comedy premiere ever, will get a second season, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia an eighth and ninth, with an option for a tenth. As for future projects, Landgraf sounds high on superhero drama Powers, which he hopes will be the first TV drama to treat its subject as serious adult drama rather than escapism. (He also sounded positive about Southern-crime dram Outlaw Country.) Finally, Canadians take heart: you will soon have your own FX! FX Canada will carry FX American originals, but is intended to make some co-productions as well. I can’t wait for It’s Often Overcast in Winnipeg and Canadian Horror Story!

* Speaking of which, producers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk showed up for a panel with the cast of American Horror Story; for half an hour, reporters dutifully asked questions about that show, then swarmed them post-panel to ask them to comment on the recent cast squabbles at Glee. They refused comment. So just get that out of your head! As for AHS–which I shared my first impressions of the other day–Murphy and Falchuk promised that several mysteries and/or cliffhangers set up in the (extremely busy) pilot will be explained within the first few episodes. (Including, they say, that classic of horror movies: “Why the hell don’t they move out of the haunted house?”)

Meanwhile, star Connie Britton cheerfully confessed that she is perhaps the least appropriate actress to play the lead in this show, not because of her work on the not-at-all-horror Friday Night Lights, but because she says she’s terrified of horror movies and can’t stand to watch them. As for Ryan Murphy’s previous work, Britton said, “I could never watch Nip/Tuck because it was too gory.” Shame she won’t be able to watch her new show, then!

* Most of the leads of Sons of Anarchy appeared with creator Kurt Sutter and its new executive producer, legendary TV director Paris Barclay, to talk season 4. The new season–SPOILER ALERT for the wary–takes place 14 months after the end of season 3, which saw much of the SAMCRO crew off to jail after a victorious return from Northern Ireland. I’m loath to discuss much plot detail (critics screened the very good season premiere here at TCA), but Sutter addressed a controversy of his own: his colorfully vituperative remarks on Twitter after SOA was shut out of the Emmys. Sutter downplayed any actual animosity, saying, “My tweets are more about my bad relationship with my father than about the Emmy nominations.”

* And Denis Leary and Peter Tolan, creators of Rescue Me, showed up for a valedictory session about the end of that series, coinciding with the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the show’s impetus. The two recalled a sobering moment recently when the Smithsonian called them to Washington to induct Tommy Gavin’s firefighter gear into its permanent collection; “This is really serious,” Tolan recalls Leary whispering to him. But they also said that they believe part of the reason the show stayed around for so long is that it’s as intensely commited to comedy as it is to its drama. As proof of which, perhaps, after some especially slaphappy riffing with Leary, Tolan stood up and dropped his pants to gets critics’ attention, displaying his striped blue bikini underwear.

Leary didn’t follow suit, claiming a commando situation, but waxed nostalgic on the end of the series: “We had a fucking blast for seven years. We got to do pretty much everything we wanted to do. … This has been the greatest show business experience, besides Operation Dumbo Drop, of my career.”

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