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TCA Roundup: Joey Was the Setup, Here's the Punchline

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Though the Television Critics Association press tour approaches two weeks (and used to go on longer), some critics would save time and money by jetting in only for a few days of big-network presentations. The conglomerates who own those networks have learned to counter this by bundling their smaller networks’ dog-and-pony-shows in with their big sibs, giving them a captive audience. You want to find out what Fox is going to do with American Idol, you will damn well sit there and pretend to care about Fox Reality Channel! So TCA began with CBS Day, and continued yesterday with Everything Else CBS Owns Day:

* On which Showtime—which to be fair, has become a network critics are actually interested in—previewed season 5 of Dexter, whose theme will be “atonement.” And it previewed Episodes, an inside-TV satire starring Matt LeBlanc as a fictionalized version of himself, whose theme will be “atonement for having made Joey.”

* Episodes comes from Friends creator David Crane, who dismissed the big broadcast networks as being “ruled by fear and panic.” His most recent example of which was his experience making The Class. For CBS. Which is maybe the downside of having your cable properties present one day after you.

* Is a thin Drew Carey still Drew Carey?

* The CW brought out Maggie Q, star of its new action drama Nikita, and called her an example of “strong, empowering women who aren’t afraid to be beautiful.” Because, you know, being a gorgeous actress on The CW is freaking terrifying.

* Meanwhile, in returning CW series news, the network is gearing up to end Smallville, but is open to the possibility of more seasons for Supernatural and for One Tree Hill, so that it can follow its characters’ journey into grandparenthood and retirement.