Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Casting News Is Crazy—But Is It Crazy Enough to Work?

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Photo by the CW

If you haven’t been watching Twitter today, you may have missed the big Crazy Ex-Girlfriend news. It turns out Greg will be making an appearance in the final season of the show—but not the same Greg we knew and loved. Skylar Austin (of Pitch Perfect fame) will be replacing Santino Fontana in the role.

In the few hours it’s been since I heard the news, I’ve had mixed emotions. I trust the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend writing team, sure, but Greg was a fan favorite. He was certainly a favorite of mine. And Fontana made that role come alive. Austin is talented, and no matter what role they put him in, I’m sure that he’ll do a great job. But Greg? That’s a tall order.

According to Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna, it was a creative decision. Bloom notes, “It’s not only a big leap and feels experimental and playful like our show, but as we’ll see when the show airs, it’s a great statement on how our perception of people changes, and Greg is sort of a barometer for how Rebecca changes.”

Keeping in mind that I don’t know much about what’s going to happen this season (and everything that I’m about to say is purely guesswork), my perception of Bloom’s quote is that Greg will turned up a changed man—literally. Or perhaps Rebecca just remembered him in a vastly different way than before. [Cue the many jokes about how “Gee, Greg, you look so different!” and “Wow, Greg, you’ve changed!”] Now, if this is the case, I could see how the writing team can make it work.

But should it?

I rarely criticize Crazy Ex-Girlfriend because it constantly exceeds my expectations and always surprises me. But in this case, I’m not sure the appeal of bringing Greg back. If you’re not bringing back the same actor, how will the fans feel—especially going into the final season of the series? It would change how we look at the character, for sure (perhaps that, too, is the point), but frankly, Astin will just have some large tap shoes to fill. He could be up to the task, but will fans see it that way? And even if the creative team wanted to make the point about changed perceptions, why does that require an entirely new actor?

Now, if you have had conversations with me about the show in the last two years since Fontana left, you’ll know I’ve been keeping my fingers crossed on a Greg return in the final season. But this isn’t what I was expecting. I can’t help but feel disappointed, which isn’t how I want to start the season. I’m trying not to bring myself too down already—again, the writing team always surprises and impresses, so I want to put my trust in them again—but I’m just not sure how I feel about this news. I would’ve preferred a surprise appearance from the original actor, rather than a surprise, head-scratching announcement. And, of course, I mean no offense toward Astin. He’s a talented actor and a fun one to watch (heck, I even watched him in Ground Floor), but it’s just not what I expected from one of my favorite series.

Keep in mind, I’m getting ahead of myself. When we last left Rebecca, she was headed to jail. So who knows what’s next for her. I certainly don’t. So I can’t say this is a bad call or a good one. It’s a creative decision.

But I, for one, miss old Greg. And for now, I stand to be convinced.

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NBC Gives ‘Timeless’ One Last Mission: A Two-Part Finale

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Photo by Justin Lubin/NBC

Well, it’s been an exciting day, hasn’t it, Clockblockers? Today, news broke that after cancelling the series last month after its second season, NBC is giving Timeless a two-hour movie finale to finish off the series. No specific date has been announced, but it sounds like it will air sometime this holiday season.

So, are you want to get Rufus back, or what?

Needless to say, I’m thrilled with this news. I was more than bummed when the series was cancelled, and after hearing that Sony had shopped the series around with no luck, I was keeping my fingers and toes crossed that we’d get this finale movie.

But of course, many fans did more than just cross fingers and toes. Fans raised money to fly helicopters—excuse me, “heliclockters”—over San Diego Comic Con advertising #SaveTimeless. They also tirelessly tweeted about the show, getting Timeless trending during the event, even though the show wasn’t even there.

There efforts were certainly noticed, and according to Shawn Ryan, they swayed the network. So certainly applause are necessary…in between your jumps for joy.

There’s certainly plenty of material that needs to be covered in a mere two hours: Will Rufus be saved? Will Lucy and Wyatt finally get together—or will it be Flynn who captures Lucy’s heart? How did the team somehow swing that visit from the future, when the time machine won’t allow it? And what happened to make Lucy and Wyatt look so…ready for battle? Can anyone stop Rittenhouse? Or Emma? And is Lucy’s sister a lost cause at this point?

I’m sure there are plenty more questions (add your own in the comments), and I have full faith in the writing staff to give us answers, now that they have the chance.

I don’t know about you, but the holidays can’t come soon enough.

‘Timeless’ Finishes Season Two on a Strong Note — and with One Hell of a Cliffhanger

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Photo by Eddy Chen/NBC

TIMELESS: 2.09-2.10 “The General”; “Chinatown”

Fate. Family. Two themes that have been ever-present throughout the second season of Timeless, and they were oh so prominent in the finale. Fate because, of course, we had Rufus’ future death awaiting us. And family, well, that came in all sorts of forms.

The two-parter conclusion of the series was especially strong. I’m not surprised. Every episode this season seemed to get stronger than the one before. (In fact, I’ve been wanting to commend this season on some especially great episodes—“Mrs. Sherlock Holmes” was a standout in my book, but hats off to both “The King of the Delta Blues” and “The Day Reagan Was Shot,” as well.) These two episodes highlighted what Timeless does best: meaningful historical storylines combined with action and advancement of the story arc.

We’ll start with Harriet Tubman—and let’s give a mighty round of applause to Christine Horn, who was incredible as “The General.” She captivated every scene and gave each one the weight it truly deserved, considering the weight of the Civil War. Unconvinced? Go back and watch the scene between her and Rufus when he admits that he’s always been a free man. Amazing. And kudos to the writers. I felt like I could quote her all episode wrong. (I tried. It was hard to keep up on Twitter while watching all the action.)

Meanwhile, we had Wyatt moping about everyone’s reaction to Jessica potentially being Rittenhouse—and questioning her pregnancy. To be honest, Wyatt did start to bug me in this episode. His reaction to Agent Christopher seemed a genuine and honest response to finding out his wife is pregnant and then hearing they want to banish her. (And Lucy’s reaction to hearing Jessica was pregnant? Perfection. If your heart didn’t break when you saw Lucy’s face and heard her faint, “She’s what?” you must have a heart of stone.)

But once he became Captain Sunshine in the past, pouting and stomping around, I was a bit tired of moody Wyatt. Perhaps it’s because there was so much more important things going on—or perhaps it’s because we, as viewers, were already suspecting Jessica—but I had a small amount of patience for it. I’m glad it passed relatively quickly, though I suppose not with the best of results.

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‘Timeless’ Visits a Dark Place in ‘The Salem Witch Hunt’

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Photo by Patrick Wymore/NBC

TIMELESS: 3.04 “The Salem Witch Hunt”

Ever since I heard Timeless would be visiting Salem during the witch trials, I’ve been waiting for this episode. This is a time period I’ve been especially interested in, and boy did they set up the atmosphere. From the moment they stepped into those deserted, foggy woods, you knew this would be a dark episode. And let’s be honest, I was sure Lucy would somehow be called out for witchcraft (she is a time traveler from the future, after all).

But I had no idea that the person to accuse her would be her own mother. Or that she’d be on the list of the eight—or as it turned out, nine—to be hanged on the darkest day. Add in the fact that Benjamin Franklin’s mother was also added to that list, thanks to Carol, and you have the setup for a really intense episode that has a lot riding on it.

As far as Rittenhouse plans go, this one feels like it’s the first that made sense. The last three episodes, with their sleeper agents, felt like lower stakes, compared to taking Benjamin Franklin out before he even had the chance to be born. That would truly change the shape of America. (I’d also argue that we’d run into a little bit of trouble technology-wise, since he was the man who also discovered electricity, but perhaps our WWI Rittenhouse guru doesn’t care about something as trivial as electricity.)

But let’s talk about Carol’s plan. Despite the fact that Carol was one of two existing Rittenhouse members who saved Nicholas Keynes from his death in the early 20th century, it seemed odd that she’d have to “earn her stripes” by knocking out Franklin. And her plan to “save” Lucy by essentially threatening her with hanging in order to get her to join Rittenhouse. That was harsh. Clearly, Carol isn’t thinking straight with this plan. And her desperation as Lucy declined, with her cold, “I’d rather be hanged”…wow.

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‘Trading Spaces’ Is Back — And Still Unwilling to Compromise

TRADING SPACES: 9.01 “Not Our First Rodeo”

There’s always room for compromise but not in this situation.

Trading Spaces is back on the scene after a ten-year break, and very little has changed. Paige is back as our host. Many of our designers and carpenters have returned. And neighbors still swap houses for two days, so they can redo a room in each other’s houses.

What has changed? The budget has doubled—they now have $2,000—and Wayfair has sponsored a tent, so couples can choose one item that must go in the room, whether the designer likes it or not. (At least, I don’t recall this freebie tent from the show of yore, but correct me if I’m wrong.)

But what makes a show like this entertaining (or annoying) is the one thing that will likely never change: The designers have a design in mind, and they’re unlikely to ever compromise that vision. It doesn’t matter if the couple balks, refuses, or simply runs out of time, the vision comes first.

In this particular case, we have Hildi, one of the original series designers, who—no matter what—will have a hideous design painted on a ceiling. Similar to how some of the designers operated on the original series, she came in with one piece of fabric as a focal point that leads the design for the entire series. The black, white, yellow, and blue design wasn’t terrible…until it was described as a “deconstructed penguin” and she said they’ll  be a painting the design on three out of four walls, as well as the ceiling. While my mind was screaming “accent wall!” they went on to paint it all, despite the homeowner’s sister’s reservations, creating what appeared in the end to be a clown’s worse nightmare. Certainly, if you visited that a guest room, you’d have your own set of circus dreams.

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‘Timeless’ Finds Romance And Surprises in ‘Hollywoodland’

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Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC

TIMELESS: 2.03 “Hollywoodland”

There was no new episode of Timeless this week, which finally gave me some time to wrap my head around what became a game-changing episode. Just to recap, what happened? We met legendary actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr. Rufus pretended to be Langston Hughes in order to save Citizen Kane. Jiya saw a doctor and turns out to be healthier than she’s ever been, despite her seizures and visions. And Flynn found his way out of jail. Anything else?

Oh yeah. Lucy and Wyatt finally got together, and JESSICA IS BACK.

Talk about a shocking ending (though, honestly, I predicted this result long before the season began). But we’ll get there. Let’s start back in 1941, where Rittenhouse has  another sleeper agent (played by one of my favorites, Teddy Sears), who is out to steal Citizen Kane in order to secure a column in the Hearst papers. It’s a little bit of an overcomplicated plan, but if the publication was as influential as Lucy claims, I suppose Rittenhouse can do a lot of damage with a few inches on paper. Like Wyatt, I have never seen Citizen Kane, nor do I know its sordid, secretive backstory, so I did feel like I was playing a game of catchup as the main plot details were being shared. But let’s be honest: Everything else in this episode was so much more interesting than the Rittenhouse plot that it didn’t really matter.

Starting with Hedy Lamarr. I ask this much too often when watching this show, but how have I never heard of this person before? She sounds amazing. One of the reasons I love Timeless is the fact that they bring these lesser-known historical figures to life, so it’s both educational and entertaining. She truly stole every scene, and I loved the dynamic between her and Rufus (particularly her curt response to his poorly shared riff of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme—though her explanation to Lucy about how anyone can be glamorous as long as they stand still and look stupid was also great). She was a divine addition to this episode. But now on to what everyone is talking about…

Lyatt fans were overjoyed to see Wyatt and Lucy finally get together. Starting with her adorable musical number. She was so playful and it was nice to see that side of Lucy again (and it was fun to see that side of Abigail Spencer, too). Not sure that final long look between Wyatt and Lucy really landed for me at the end (sorry), but it did lead to their cute banter before they finally kissed and slept together. Happy, happy fans everywhere.

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‘Timeless’ Has a Need for Speed in “The Darlington 500”

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Photo by Justin Lubin/NBC

TIMELESS: 2.02 “The Darlington 500”

Timeless went racing back to 1955 in another high-powered episode, this time chasing a Rittenhouse sleeper agent that has already changed history: Ryan Millerson.

While the show has done a relatively good job so far avoiding head-scratching time-paradox moments, this is really the first episode where we need to step back and understand what’s happened. We already knew that Rittenhouse was sending agents back in time, so they could influence history. In this particular case, we have race car hero Ryan Millerson, who Wyatt idolized as a child. Except he didn’t. Ryan was placed in 1946 only a few weeks ago and his impact there made such an impression that it rewrote history. Wyatt’s memories are not from when he was six years old. They’re actually new.

If that makes you get a headache and a panic attack at the same time, let’s take this a step further to try to understand Rittenhouse’s plan. Given that Emma and her lackeys then went back in time to meet up with Ryan in 1955, this means that it’s not simple enough for Rittenhouse to simply place someone in time and say, “Ok, when you get to the Darlington 500 in 1955, place a bomb in your car and kill the important auto executives.” Clearly, they need to see what effect their sleeper had on time, in order to then go back and execute their plan. After all, what if Ryan crashed his car in his first race, destroying any chance to be a famous race car driver? What if he was good, but never good enough to make it to Darlington? They need to know what could really happen. Which means, they essentially told Ryan, “We’re placing you in 1946. At some point, we’ll be back so you can take on this suicide mission, but in the meantime, become as successful as a race car driver as possible.”

This seems a little convenient for the show—otherwise, what’s the point of having anyone go back in time? We’d never know what Rittenhouse did or didn’t plan in our dark times of history—and a little overly complicated for Rittenhouse. And since good ol’ grandpappy Nicolas was the one who came up with this plan way back in the early 20th century, I think we’re starting to see exactly how crazy and/or brilliant he really is. And that was long before he painted a manifesto mural on a wall.

Is your head spinning? Because mine is a little. But let’s focus on a few other things that happened in this episode, beyond these big picture, world-changing, history-changing sleepers.

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