‘Breaking Bad’ Season 5 Premiere: The Beginning of How It All Ends

After last season’s finale — the Gus head and the flower pot reveal — how could the Breaking Bad season five opener (Sunday, AMC, 10PM ET) possibly live up to the expectations fans have for the final season of one of the best (the best, I’d argue) TV dramas of all time?

Yet, the first two episodes rate a five out of five stars, two thumbs up, 10 on a scale of one to 10 … by whatever rating system you use, the season premiere is flawless, picking up where season four left off and offering a hint into what I think is going to be Walter White’s downfall.

In short: his ego. Walt (Bryan Cranston) was feeling super badass after pulling off his Gus plot, but he’s not satisfied with being able to tell wife Skyler (Anna Gunn) that he won. Nor is he going to be satisfied with the fact that he did win. Without any major spoilers, there’s a moment in the season five premiere — the episode’s called “Live Free or Die” — where Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte) tells his dad that Hank (Dean Norris) is going to be hailed as a hero for being the only person to have been onto Gus’ real activities.

Walt’s reaction is priceless, and so telling. He bristles ever so slightly at the thought of Hank as a hero, or more specifically at the fact that Walt Jr. sees his uncle as one, and it’s not because Walt knows Hank’s ongoing investigation of Gus threatens to expose Walt’s own misdeeds.

It’s because Walt wants his son to know what a tough guy he is (or thinks he is). And more than wanting his son to know how tough he is, the things he’s gotten away with and the people who fear him, Walt wants Hank to know.

Hank, who’s been vulnerable and insecure himself since his shooting, spent years poking fun at Walt and his meek high school chemistry teacher persona. And now that Walt’s Mr. Chips-to-Scarface transformation — as Cranston and BB creator Vince Gilligan frequently refer to Walt’s journey — is near completion, Walt wants Hank to know he’s no longer the schlubby teacher.

Despite what it would mean if Hank (DEA officer Hank) found out, Walt is dying for him to know what he’s done, what he’s doing and who he’s doing it to/for/with/against.

And that, I’m guessing, is going to ultimately be the specific cause of Walt’s downfall (and no spoiler there, because Cranston and Gilligan have often said Walt is not going to get away with his bad works).

Speaking of … if you still had any smidgen of sympathy left for Walt after his plot with the ricin and kiddie Brock, a scene in the season premiere between an ever more manipulative Walt and a still too trusting Jesse (Aaron Paul) should take care of that.

There are a couple of little surprises in the first two episodes of the new season (“Live Free or Die” and “Madrigal” are the eps AMC provided for review), and a couple of much-welcome moments of levity (two words: truck and magnet), but the most chilling scene is the one in which Walt utters the words “I forgive you.”

Because he doesn’t, and the person he says it to is very aware of what that could mean.

And if that isn’t enough to get you jazzed for the new season, check out these Breaking Bad goodies:

The Hollywood Reporter‘s cover story on BB, with tidbits like the network that rudely rejected the show and the actors AMC initially wanted to cast as Walter White (John Cusack?!?!).

— Though he’s gone (and how), Gus Fring (Emmy-deserving Giancarlo Esposito) will certainly not be forgotten, and he continues to play a big role in BB events. In honor of his exit, AMC has a fun little “Go Fring Yourself” game, in which you put your head on Gus’ body and, well, a few “ding ding dings” later, you’re, ahem, facing off with Tio (RIP).

— The New York Daily News has an interview with the underrated Dean Norris, who plays Walt’s brother-in-law Hank. Norris, a Harvard grad, says playing the moral character isn’t as fun as playing the bad guy, and is often overlooked come Emmy time, but he’s giving a standout performance in a cast where there isn’t a bad performance.

— Dish subscribers who are freaking out about being AMC-less for Sunday night’s premiere can sign up to watch the episode live at AMCTV.com.

— You will love Aaron Paul even more than you already do after reading GQ‘s interview with him.

Bryan Cranston picks his 13 favorite Breaking Bad moments at The Daily Beast.com.

— The 27 best Breaking Bad memes (numbers 16 and 19 crack me up).

— 25 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Breaking Bad from Buzzfeed.com.

Aaron Paul in a Corn Pops commercial.

— A Breaking Bad A to Z feature I wrote for AOL before season 4 (so yes, it’s in serious need of an update, but still fun).

Talkin’ With … ‘Wilfred’ Star Jason Gann About Season 2

Charlie Sheen, Russell Brand and Louis C.K. are getting most of the attention, but I’m most excited that one of the best new shows of last TV season — Wilfred — returns for its second season on FX tonight (10PM ET).

Season one of the series ended with a cliffhanger — had Ryan (Elijah Wood) just imagined Wilfred and their pot-smoking bonding sessions in the basement? Last week’s pre-season episode answered that question, hilariously (short answer: no … probably), and season two kicks off with the maddeningly endearing, teddy bear-humping, Matt Damon movie-loving, manipulative Wilfie pledging his friendship and devotion to a surprising, non-Ryan character.

I chatted with series star and creator Jason Gann about the new season, donning that hot, itchy dog suit again, what mischief Wilfred will spark for season two and what he thinks of the new movie Ted, with its similarities to Wilfred.

Have you seen the trailer for the movie Ted?
I’ve seen a couple of trailers for it.

I can’t help but think of Wilfred when I see the trailer, which looks very funny …
Yeah, when you see Ted smoking the bong on the sofa with Mark Wahlberg, I guess, you can’t help but draw comparisons, but it seems different enough for me. I’m sure both worlds can exist side by side. It is very different as far as the premise, I think. Are you asking me what I think of it?

Well, are you flattered that people, especially Wilfred fans, are going to see that trailer and almost certainly be reminded of Wilfred, which came first?
Look, I think that that’s flattering that people might think that. I think that Seth MacFarlane is in his own stratosphere as far as success goes. He probably wouldn’t even be … I know he is aware of us right now, because he joked the other day to our showrunner that everyone is saying he ripped off Wilfred. But I don’t think he has. We didn’t create talking … teddy bears. I’m not even the first writer in a dog suit, and we didn’t invent bong smoking. When I did the original pilot, the Australian version, back in 2004, I was nervous then that someone would come out and beat us to the punch, and so I was just relieved then that we got it out, so we were the first ones.

For it to be 2012 and there to be finally something similar, I think we’ve done pretty well. I really think Wilfred has evolved far more and is far deeper than smoking bongs and putting on a dog suit, acting inappropriate. Because that would get really tired really quick. There’s a lot of layers going on in the show.

I haven’t seen anything like that, in the previews, anyway, for Ted. It seems kind of standard fare … a movie comedy … it’s funny, silly. It’s probably got a bit of pathos at the three?quarter mark, and then it ends happy. That’s not the kind of story we’re telling, so they’re very different.

You’ve already filmed the whole second season of Wilfred … how are you feeling about it?
I’m pretty proud of it. It’s just getting at the stage where we’re starting to get some feedback and I’m really enjoying it. And it’s good to be out of the suit. I’ve been out of the suit for a week now. On reflection it’s always … it’s a lot more fun once it’s all done.

I’m just looking at some stuff now at the office and picking up some things, some last minute things that I left behind. These studios we’re working in, they’re actually being destroyed and they’re making apartment buildings here, so it’s pretty sad. They’re called Centinela Studios, and they’ve been around a while. They shot 7th Heaven here and a bunch of other stuff.  It’s been a lot of fun shooting here. Last year, we shot on locations for (the whole season). But this year, we actually rebuilt the house in a studio, Ryan’s house.

It was great. I mean, it’s just so great to be able to walk 20 feet to your dressing room instead of getting in a minivan and driving up to location. Last year it was kind of like we were the TV show without a home. We were like gypsies going from place to place and annoying neighbors wherever we went, whereas now we had our own place. We built about four or five different sets in here, for different scenes, like the office stuff was here as well.

But it’s the end of an era, because there’s been a lot of stuff shot here. It kind of reminds me of old Hollywood.

Season one ended with a cliffhanger, which you wrapped up in a very satisfying way with the episode that aired last week. Did you know all last season how you would resolve the cliffhanger, which could have radically changed the direction of the show?
No, we didn’t. We were already shooting season one when (executive producer) David (Zuckerman) had the idea of the closet being sealed off. We weren’t really sure. We loved it, (but) then it was just a matter of whether FX would. They don’t traditionally do cliffhangers for their shows. That was the only thing, whether we would go with a cliffhanger. Then in the end, they liked the idea, and supported it. You take a risk when you do a cliffhanger. If you don’t come back for season two, you look pretty silly and you drive your fans crazy.

Aside from building the sets and shooting the show in the studio, did you make any other changes after having had the experience of doing a complete season?
Wilfred changed a lot in season one from the Australian Wilfred in that he would take on little characters within his character, like whether he was being possessed by Sneakers, the dog of Ryan’s childhood, or he was the scientist plotting to poison Ryan with chocolate, or the aristocrat who was just trying to seduce the giraffe.

It was so much fun. That was something we just discovered in writing season one, and so I’ve continued with that and just the lightness of the character. Wilfred’s light and fun and almost childlike and innocent in certain areas, so I’ve taken that a bit further in season two.

When you said that, it made me think of the scene, which is one of my favorites of the first three episodes, when Wilfred’s having the discussion with the pigeons about how much he was loved by Ryan’s co-workers at the office.
I love that because suddenly Wilfred’s a standup comic. You know what I mean? I like the bit where he’s like, “So, how many of you work here? Show of hands?” He’s got that, like a street performer. It’s like, well, they all work here. This is where they work. It’s fun watching Wilfred struggle at things, as well, because he’s so manipulative. When things don’t work out for him, that’s a lot of fun.

When I talked to you last season, you mentioned that the Wilfred costume was particularly hot. Did you find a way to deal with that for season two?
Actually, it even was worse this year because we were in the studio, a big warehouse. In the morning, it’s cold, but as the day goes on, it just heats up. The suit that I wore is a different suit. You know when he goes in season one to seduce Raffi and he’s groomed? Whenever Wilfred gets groomed, it’s a different suit. Basically, it’s the same material, but it’s never been washed, so it’s actually twice as thick. The material doesn’t breathe at all. I wore that suit for a couple episodes toward the end of the season. Basically, I cook in it so much that, after a while, I go past the pain threshold into euphoria.

They’ll say, “Jason, Jason, do you want to get out of the suit?” I’m like, “No, no, let’s keep going. Let’s do another one. Let’s do another one.” I’ll be standing crazed, and people are hearing me singing from miles away, and it would look really weird if you didn’t know me or didn’t know what show you were watching.

It’s kind of like hitting the wall when you’re running?
Exactly. That’s right, yeah. Because otherwise, putting that suit on and off, people would think, “So what? You’re just putting on clothes, taking them off.” But it’s like water torture. If it’s a couple of drops of water, no problem. When it’s a couple of hundred thousand drops over and over and over, and something finally snaps inside my brain.

There are so many great little touches that I’m sure fans of the show notice and love … in last week’s episode, Wilfred’s wheelchair, and the arm that became his bong. Whose idea was that?
(Laughing) That was my pitch in the writers’ room. Because someone had pitched in the story that maybe he was passing a joint. I’m like, “No, no. He’s got to … ” I just said, “If you just pulled the arm off of the wheelchair and turned it around, and it’s a packed pipe, and he lights it up and offers it to Ryan …” Everyone was, “Yeah, that’s great.” Then I turn up on the day of filming, and there it is. It looks exactly like what I imagined. That’s one of the most fun parts of the job, is when just a random idea like that can come up, then one day you turn up and someone’s made it real. Then it’s shot and edited, and now you’ve seen it. To me that’s still the most incredible, exciting part about this job.

Do you get feedback from fans about details like that?
Yeah. I think our show is one of those likely that people are watching over and over, and so we have the little scenes in there that we’re quite aware that you may not notice on the first viewing. But the fans will get it on the second or the third.

How did the Robin Williams guest appearance come about for “Progress”? Was he a fan of the first season?
Yes, he was. That was exactly what happened. He was working with Elijah on publicity for Happy Feet 2. Elijah sent me an email to tell me that he is a big fan of the show, and thought Wilfred was hilarious, and that he would be interested in doing a guest spot. I went back into the writers’ room and said to David, “Robin Williams asked to be in our show. We’ve got to find something for him.” David said, “Well, we’ve broken all the stories. There are not really any characters.” I said, “No, no, you don’t understand. We have to find something for Robin Williams.” He was such a hero of mine as a kid. We were able to isolate that character and say, “OK, how can we finally make this work if Robin was to play it?” But still, we weren’t sure that he would do it, because we didn’t know if it was big enough, or if it was funny enough, or worthy enough for him to do. We sent it off and just hoped for the best. He read it and said, yeah, he’d be glad to do it. I haven’t been so nervous about meeting someone, so nervous and excited at the same time, about meeting someone as I was him. You know, going up to him and just those two days that he was on the show … it was a real highlight.

Do you have a guest star wish list?
I do have a guest star wish list, a wish list of one, which is Matt Damon.

I think we’ve got to do everything we can to get him on the show one day. But, season two, it didn’t come up. I mean, we really do put the characters first and create the show that we want to create, and sometimes when we’re at work on a character, we’ll say, “Oh, such?and?such would be good for this role.” But it really is one of those things where … even with Elijah playing his role, we needed a certain actor to play Ryan, and he won that role with his great acting. We don’t really do any stunt casting for the gimmick of it. I mean, people have been suggested to us before, that definitely fit into that stunt casting category and we’ve said, “No.” Then we’ll get, “Are you crazy? Imagine the publicity you’d get.” We’re like, “Yeah, but at what expense?” You know? We’re setting up this world.

You have had so many great guest stars. Will Dwight Yoakam return as Bruce in season two?
Yeah, yeah. I think I tweeted it … I said I thought this show was fucked in the head, and then Dwight Yoakam showed up. That guy … oh man, he’s his own person. He has a lot of fun with Bruce, and he really had even more fun this year. We love having him on the show.

Bruce is one of the few connections to Wilfred’s past. Will we find out more about Wilfred’s pre-Ryan life in season two?
Yeah. That’s one of the great things about Wilfred … he could be 100 years old. Do you know what I mean? He just has this history that may be real or may be fabricated, but we have no choice but to take him at his face value because you’re talking to a dog. We find out his middle name in one of the episodes.

One day, I’m reading the script, and I see it, and I’m like, “All right, it’s as good as any.”

You didn’t come up with the name, then? It was a surprise to you?
I didn’t come up with that one. That one was a surprise to me and then once it’s said in one episode, before you know it, it comes up again later in another episode. Then it’s season three, if we have a season three, we might find out where he got the name from. You don’t know, but it’s funny how these little threads start and then you pull it out and it becomes this big, ongoing thing.

You mentioned Twitter … do you enjoy it? Some people love it, some people hate it, but it must be interesting to have that direct interaction with fans.
It took me a long time. I’ve had that account for a few years now and I think I tweeted like three times before FX asked if I’d like to tweet (more) for the show. I’ve enjoyed it, but I think I was thinking about it too much, like it seemed like a lot of work for me. But now I, just about two months ago, fell in love with Twitter, because I was always just a Facebook guy. Now I have really been enjoying tweeting more as me. I’m looking forward to tweeting during the shows again this year. I would think I’ll do it a lot more.

I saw that someone had tweeted you a photo of a tattoo they’d gotten of Wilfred and Bear. That’s real commitment. Are people still sending you a lot of drawings and things of Wilfred?
People do art. Someone painted an oil painting of me. That’s why I’ve actually stopped by the studio today, because of another painting that a girl did, and I have the whole wall just covered with prints of people’s artistic impressions of Wilfred, or Wilfred and Bear, or Wilfred and Ryan. They’re all so different, but they’re all so brilliant. The most humbling thing for me is that people are taking their time and creative energy, and it’s inspiring them to use their creativity to express their attachment to the characters. It’s just wonderful.

Do you have a favorite thing that someone has done?
No, I don’t have a favorite. Well, the oil painting, I just had it framed, and I’m going to actually get a fireplace to put under it (laughing) … to me, that was … I just love them all, but to me, that was when I looked at that and said, “Oh wow.” Like, that painting will probably live way beyond me. I was trying to imagine, like you see, oil paintings of people from hundreds of years ago. That’s when I thought about how Wilfred has existed. Wilfred is here. One day, it will be gone, so I’ve got to enjoy it. I was wondering if my grandkids are going to look at that and wonder, “What was he thinking?”

Can you imagine, can you look down the road and see, if you’re doing a fifth season of Wilfred, what that would look like? What Ryan and Wilfred would be doing at that point?
Sometimes when I’m in that delirious, euphoric state that I was talking about earlier, in the suit … I come up with some really crazy ideas. I pitched something the other day and David just looked at me …

What’s the craziest thing Wilfred does this season?
I just walked by editing and saw (a scene with) Wilfred, just being like Rambo. He gets so caught up in those characters.

Father’s Day Gift Guide 2012: Last-Minute Pop Culture for Your Pop

Breaking Bad: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray (Sony)
It is the best TV drama of all time, and this is the best season of it. Need more reason to gift it (and snag another copy for yourself)? It’s packed with great bonus materials like uncensored episodes, deleted and extended scenes, commentary from the cast and crew on all 13 episodes, a gag reel (levity is a big thing with the serious subject matter of Breaking Bad), “Better Call Saul” commercials with the scene-stealing Bob Odenkirk, karaoke with Gale (ah, Gale …) and, on the blu-ray set, 13 video podcasts. And with the show’s fifth, and final, season set to premiere July 15, now is the perfect time to finally catch up with BB.

Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter by Frank Deford (Grove/Atlantic)
Every sports fan has a list of favorite sportswriters, but if yours doesn’t include Frank Deford, it’s clearly because you haven’t read him yet. In this memoir, Sports Illustrated/NPR/The National (sigh … The National) legend Deford recalls his early, post-Princeton days at SI (which operated in a Mad Men-ish atmosphere), his friendships with athletes (like the late Arthur Ashe), covering the NBA in its early years, how sportswriting and the relationships between sportswriters and athletes have changed and how he juggled his career and his personal life. Deford’s writing transcends mere sports coverage, of course, and opening the book to any random section might leave you teary, as it did when I read the chapter on his long friendship with tennis great Ashe.

The Big Bang Theory T-Shirt (Entertainment Earth)
This cool shirt features a graphic of the entire cast … bazinga! It’s not the characters, but a graphic of their trademark outfits. Still a very cool tee.

Father’s Day: A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son by Buzz Bissinger (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
All great sportswriters are great writers no matter what their topic — think Mitch Albom, the aforementioned Frank Deford and Bissinger, who’s covered topics as diverse as Texas high school football (Friday Night Lights, of course), the Stephen Glass saga (in an article that was adapted into one of my favorite journalism-themed movies, Shattered Glass) and the Jerry Sandusky case. In this memoir, Bissinger writes about a road trip with one of his twin sons, 24-year-old Zach, a “savant, challenged by serious intellectual deficits but also blessed with rare talents: an astonishing memory, a dazzling knack for navigation, and a reflexive honesty that can make him both socially awkward and surprisingly wise.” Bissinger and Zach travel from their Philly hometown to Los Angeles, visiting places they’ve lived throughout the years as the Pulitzer-winning writer pursued his career. It’s a bonding trip, to put it simply, as Bissinger comes away with a newfound understanding of his son, their relationship and how his career pursuits have affected the rest of his life. Warning: It’s tough to get through the book jacket description without tearing up, so the story itself is an emotional one.

The Billy Bob Tapes: A Cave Full of Ghosts by Billy Bob Thornton and Kinky Friedman (HarperCollins)
Yup, he’s just as strange as you’ve heard he is, which he details himself in this colorful memoir (which includes a forward written by his blood vial-wearing ex-wife Angelina Jolie). He does have the weird phobias — real silverware skeeves him; he only likes plastic utensils, for example, and he refuses to say the phrase “tater tots”). But the book also showcases what a fantastic storyteller he is (something fans of Sling Blade already knew) and sheds light on some of his more interesting philosophies, like how too much liquor, Ding Dongs and sex being bad for you proves the existence of some sort of higher being.

Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Eighth Season (HBO)
Larry David at his Larry-est, with hilarious guest appearances by Michael J. Fox and Ricky Gervais, the instant classic “Palestinian Chicken” episode and bonus features including a roundtable discussion with David and the cast and a “Leon’s Guide to NYC” feature with J.B. Smoove.

Marvel Superheroes Spatulas (Williams-Sonoma)
In Spider-Man, The Hulk, Iron Man and Captain America versions, they’re perfecting for the grill or flipping Sunday morning pancakes.

The Truck Food Cookbook: 150 Recipes and Ramblings from America’s Best Restaurants on Wheels (Workman)
Food trucks are all the rage, from NYC to SF, and this photo-packed book collects recipes from some of the best, including such delights as Grilled Cheese Mac and Cheese Sandwich from The Grilled Cheese Truck in Venice, the Grilled Cheese Cheeseburger from Brunch Box in Portland, Oregon, Oatmeal Jammy Cookies from The Treats Truck in New York and Soft Serve Ice Cream with toasted coconut and wasabi pea dust from The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck in NYC. One you have to try: Elotes, the Mexican grilled corn on the cob with Cotija anejo, chili powder and mayonnaise.

Teen Wolf: The Complete Season One (MGM)
Yes, it’s a teen show on MTV, but it’s also a funny, suspenseful drama that’s better than several (most?) network dramas, and certainly worthy of primetime viewing by those of us post-MTV demographic. Season two just started, making this the perfect time to check out season one of the remake of the ’80s M.J. Fox flick and find a new summer TV pleasure.

The Last Great Game: Duke Vs. Kentucky and the 2.1 Seconds That Changed Basketball by Gene Wojciechowski (Penguin)
The story of — and the aftermath and everything leading up to — the shot, the 1992 NCAA tournament shot that Christian Laettner hit, with 2.1 seconds left in overtime, to give he and his Duke teammates a 104-103 win against Kentucky in the East Regional. The Blue Devils went on to win the national title, and, while the book is a must-read, watching Laettner make that shot after an inbounds pass from teammate Grant Hill again is a must-see, so click here.

Making a Difference: Stories of Vision and Courage From America’s Leaders by Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (HarperCollins)
From one great leader to some others: Capt. Sully interviews a lineup of people he considers great American leaders, to get the scoop on what has inspired them to such success. Among those he interviews: retired Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, Costco CEO Jim Sinegal, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, NYPD and LAPD chief Bill Bratton and first female governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm.

Seinfeld 50 References T-Shirt (NBC)
Puddy’s 8-ball jacket, the puffy shirt, the urban sombrero, Kramer’s Assman license plate, Jerry’s computer, muffin tops, toilet paper squares, the Kramer painting and George’s naughty photo are but a few of the Seinfeld references on this awesome tee, which includes the graphics and a key to their place in the series (as if anyone could forget how envelopes became a deadly weapon in season seven).

Sherlock: Season One and Two (BBC)
Forget the Robert Downey Jr./Jude Law movies (as they are quite forgettable) … this is the best Sherlock story being told. The British series stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Doctor John Watson, and is written by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, who conceived the series while working together on Doctor Who. To go into much detail would be to risk big spoilers, so suffice it to say that the show’s first two seasons have won BAFTAs and been nominated for Emmys and that a third season is scheduled to begin filming early next year.

Falling Skies: The Complete First Season Blu-ray (Warner Home Video)
Season two just began, making it the perfect time to catch up with ER alum Noah Wyle, who stars  as Tom, a history professor who’s become the leader of the human resistance after aliens invade Earth. Tom’s got an extra incentive to find out what the aliens’ real agenda is: among the people they’ve captured and are holding hostage is Tom’s teenage son.

Shut Up and Give Me the Mic by Dee Snider (Gallery)
5 quick facts about the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” singer: 1. His trademark look — with the wild fashions and hair — is courtesy of his wife, Suzette, to whom he has been married for 30 years; 2. Twisted Sister made him rich and famous, but by the ’90s, he’d lost all his money; 3. He wrote most of the songs on Stay Hungry, Twisted Sister’s breakout album, in less than an hour while his wife went to grocery store; 4. Animal House star Mark Metcalf‘s appearance in the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” video — one of the most memorable videos of all time — cost $1,000 and a round-trip plane ticket; 5. Snider’s wife helped their friend, Howard Stern, cultivate his rock star image (wearing sunglasses all the time, for instance), and Snider credits Stern with helping him realize he had talents outside music, which has led to his multi-hyphenate radio/TV/book/Broadway career (and comeback).

Game of Thrones Xbox 360 Game (Atlus)
The books, the HBO series and now, Game of Thrones is a 30-hour-plus RPG, where gamers play as one of two original characters who join the action in Westeros during the struggle for power of the Seven Kingdoms. The game’s story is unique to the world of Game of Thrones, as the two original characters — both former soldiers of Robert’s Rebellion — are enemies who must now work together against another common enemy. Should be a nice way to tide over the GoT fan ’til the third season of the HBO hit premieres next April.

Baseball’s Greatest Games: Collector’s Edition (A&E Home Video)
The collection of 10 classic baseball games comes with a bonus disc featuring additional footage, interviews from the games and an audio play-by-play track. As for the games, they include the 1960 World Series, game 7, with Bill Mazeroski’s game-winning home run; 1975 World Series Game 6, which was ranked number one on MLB Network’s 20 Greatest Games list; 1986 World Series Game 6 (Bill Buckner … ohhhh); and the 2004 American League Championship Series Game 4, with the Red Sox comeback after a 19-8 loss in Game 3 (and beginning their run to their first World Series win since 1918).

Doctor Who TARDIS Hooded Robe (Entertainment Earth)
Doctor Who fans will never get the chance to travel inside the TARDIS, but now they can lounge about in the soft, terry cloth comfort of this TARDIS-design robe.

Maverick: The Complete First Season (Warner Home Video)
For a fan of classic TV westerns, it doesn’t get better than Maverick, with James Garner playing the titular, wise-cracking cardsharp who, despite his high-stakes poker habits, often found the desire for a big payday taking a backseat to doing the right thing in a moral dilemma.

Episodes: The First Season (Lionsgate)
Matt LeBlanc plays Matt LeBlanc, or rather a version of himself, in this hilarious, underrated Showtime comedy. LeBlanc (the TV version of him) is itching to make a post-Friends and Joey career comeback, so he hooks up with a British duo (who are a personal and professional team) to make a new TV show. Various fun ensues, especially from LeBlanc’s complete willingness to poke fun at himself, and a season one cliffhanger adds a nifty little dramatic twist that will leave you anticipating season two, which premieres on July 1.

Sons of Anarchy Chucky’s Chili T-Shirt (FX)
Chucky’s Chili is “a head above the rest” the t-shirt says. HA! SOA fans will get the joke … everyone else should be busy watching the series DVDs so 1) they’ll eventually understand why it’s funny and 2) because it’s one of the best dramas on TV.

The Sarah Silverman Program: The Complete Series (Shout! Factory)
Whether annoying her sister (played by her real-life sister Laura) and her sibling’s boyfriend Officer Jay (Jay Johnston), hanging with her geeky gay neighbors Brian and Steve (Brian Posehn and Steve Agee) or plotting to marry Doug (her dog), Sarah Silverman has never been funnier than in this, her short-lived Comedy Central series. The DVD set collects all 32 episodes from the show’s three seasons, as well as animated shorts, behind-the-scenes videos, audio commentary, audition videos and the show’s 2007 Comic-Con panel.

History of the World in Two Hours Blu-ray (A&E Home Video)
Of course you are not going to learn in great detail everything you need to know about the Big Bang and the billions of years that have passed since, but this two-hour (actually, less than two hours minus the commercials that accompanied the network airing) History Channel special is still a novel and fun way to get an overview of, as the title promises, the history of the world, in 3D.

Titanic: The Complete Story (A&E Home Video)
The 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s journey has come and gone, but our fascination with the ship and its tragic ending lives on, and this collection of History Channel specials unfolds the ship’s complete story. Death of a Dream focuses on the ship’s storied unsinkable structure and the unheeded iceberg warnings that did it in; The Legend Lives On tells the story of the overpacked lifeboats and the passengers that were stranded and doomed to death, as well as the sea expedition to delve into the tragedy’s unanswered questions; and Titanic’s Achilles Heel, in which elite divers use CGI and other modern technologies to investigate the possibility that the Titanic had a fatal design flaw that caused it to sink.

‘Burn Notice’: Everything You Need to Know Before the New Season Begins

The sixth season of Burn Notice premieres on USA Network Thursday (9 PM ET), and for those who still haven’t checked out what all the fuss is about, USA has crafted this handy infographic to get would-be fans up to speed on all things Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan).

USA has also put all 18 episodes of the show’s fifth season online — FREE! — so there’s another way to find out how one of Michael’s BFFs (for those of you who haven’t watched season five yet) ended up in the hoosegow.

WIN THIS! ‘Common Law’ Communication Survival Kit!

HOORAY! We have our winner:

Ethan! Congrats, Ethan, and thanks for entering. Your awesome prize will be on its way to your mailbox shortly. Enjoy, and thanks again for checking us out at TV Screener.com!

And everyone, stay tuned to TVScreener.com … we’ve got lots more TV goodies coming your way!

The sixth season of Burn Notice premieres on Thursday, Psych returns with another season this fall and there’s yet another show to love on USA Network: the new cop dramedy Common Law (Fridays, 10PM ET/9PM CT).

Have you seen it? For the uninitiated, the show stars Michael Ealy and Warren Kole as Travis and Wes, a pair of LAPD detectives who are partners … and who can’t stand each other. Their LAPD captain’s (Rescue Me star Jack McGee) response: not to separate them, but to order them to couples therapy to work out their issues instead. Great premise, no?

The fun series also gets big points for filming in New Orleans (gotta love the production for pumping dollars into the NOLA economy), and Common Law premiered in May, so there’s plenty of time to catch up with the show. Video clips, previews and interviews with the cast are available at USANetwork.com.

And, to celebrate one of the network’s best new series, USA is giving fans the chance to win a Common Law Communication Survival Kit, valued at $155! Included in the kit:

A Custom Carryall: Make the most of your partnership with these communication-enhancing items conveniently packed in this sturdy canvas tote.

Tiebreakers: Flip these chips to settle a disagreement.

Do-It-Yourself Therapy Table Topics: Play your cards right to keep the conversation flowing.

POP Phone: To help you keep in touch when you’re apart.

Everlast Boxing Gloves: Duke it out when words just don’t cut it.

Now, for a chance to win the Common Law goodies package:
– Leave a comment on this post, with the name of your all-time favorite TV cop show, and an e-mail address to reach you
– Deadline to enter is June 22 at 8PM ET (according to recorded comment time)
– The winner will be chosen by random, using Random.org’s Random Number Generator
– The winner will be announced on the evening of June 22, as an update to this post
– For this content, U.S. residents only, please, and entrants must be at least 18 years of age

Good luck, Common Law fans!

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