With TV upfronts just around the corner, broadcast networks have been scrambling to make some tough calls. Fox has now decreed the fates of its three freshman dramas, axing J.J. AbramsAlcatraz and its Bones spinoff The Finder while re-upping on Kiefer Sutherland‘s Touch. On the animated side, American Dad and Family Guy are slated to return while Cleveland Show and Napoleon Dynamite continue to await a decision.

Meanwhile, the network has been loading up on brand-new pilots, including a serial killer thriller starring Kevin Bacon, a comedy from Mindy Kaling, the inanely-titled Mob Doctor, and more. Details after the jump.

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This week, Dave, Devindra, and Adam argue about the quality of Gavin O’Connor’s Warrior, offer praise for this season’s Justified (check out the new JustifiedCast here!) and wonder what the hell the MPAA is doing these days. Special guest Joanna Robinson joins us from Pajiba.

You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Join us at Slashfilm’s Live page on Sunday (1/29) as we discuss The Grey.

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/Film headquarters received a mysterious package today from Alcatraz — the beginning of a viral marketing promotion for the JJ Abrams-produced tv series Alcatraz. Housed inside a worn metal lock box, are a bunch of different items including: A key to an Alcatraz prison cell, a flower, an Alcatraz tour book, a couple postcards (one with an inscription by a young girl named Susie to her “Nana”), a torn page from an “inmates of Alcatraz” guide book, a clipping from an old 1962 newspaper about “The Final Lockdown”, and a page from a magazine which features a look at Dr. Diego Soto’s (played by Jorge Garcia in the tv series) “Inmates of Alcatraz” book.

Letters on the magazine page are circled, which together spell “LEGENDS OF ALCATRAZ”. LegendsOfAlcatraz.com redirects to the official Fox website for the show, but I’m sure that will eventually change. I’m set to head to San Francisco tomorrow to visit Alcatraz and hopefully find out more. I’ve taken photos of all of the items in the package, and included them after the jump.

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The new J.J. Abrams show is Alcatraz. Like Lost, this one is set on an island and features actor Jorge Garcia, but this time the storyline is a bit different.

The show charts the mystery of hundreds of men, guards and prisoners, who disappeared from Alcatraz in 1963, and who are starting to reappear in our timeline now. After some trials and tribulations, the show is set for a January premiere, and you can check out a trailer for it below. Just so that there is no confusion about what’s going on, star Sam Neill is heard explaining “the worst criminals this country has ever known are coming back,” before actually welcoming us all to the island. Read More »

We’ve got a lot of the usual news bits about casting, renewals, and so on in today’s TV Bits, but first, don’t you want to read about a possible racial slur in a decades-old episode of Fraggle Rock?

After the jump:

  • A Texas man reports an offensive slur in a 1984 episode of Fraggle Rock
  • Fox’s J.J. Abrams-produced Alcatraz changes showrunners
  • NBC picks up Bryan Fuller’s The Munsters pilot
  • Comedy Central renews South Park for like the next million* seasons
  • Becki Newton heads to CBS’ How I Met Your Mother
  • Lone Star actor James Wolk lands on ABC’s Happy Endings

* And by “million,” I mean “five.”

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Though the small screen retains an unfair reputation as a lesser medium — think of all the snobby types who’ll brag about not owning a television, but would never be so dismissive about books or movies — the truth is that the medium varies as much as any other. Today’s TV Bits runs the gamut from highbrow (a literary adaptation on HBO) to lowbrow (a modeling industry reality show on The CW), with plenty of stuff in between. After the jump:

  • Noah Baumbach’s Jonathan Franzen adaptation The Corrections is a go at HBO
  • HBO will offer an early look at its highly anticipated Luck next month
  • Fox puts new eps of Alcatraz on hold while it goes back for reshoots
  • Burt Reynolds signs on to guest star on FX’s Archer
  • Summer Glau joins Tricia Helfer on TNT’s Scent of the Missing
  • The CW announces start dates for its midseason shows

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Welcome to another J.J. Abrams-produced mystery island show. Alcatraz was one of several new TV series premiered at San Diego Comic-Con Wednesday night, and it was by far the standout.

The series centers around a mysterious event in 1963 that made 302 Alcatraz prisoners and guards vanish without any explanation. For some reason we don’t yet know, a prisoner named Jack Sylvane (Jeffrey Pierce) appears in present day Alcatraz and makes his way to San Francisco to seek payback from those who’ve done him wrong. It’s up to a spunky young police officer (Sarah Jones), assisted by a geeky Alcatraz expert (Jorge Garcia), to stop Sylvane, all the while dealing with a mysterious federal agent (Sam Neill) who clearly knows more about the Alcatraz disappearances than he lets on. Read More »

Fox has finally released photos, a long-form plot synopsis and a trailer for the upcoming JJ Abrams-produced Elizabeth Sarnoff-written (Lost, Deadwood) television series Alcatraz. The “chilling new thriller centers on America’s most infamous prison and one-time home to the nation’s most notorious murderers, rapists, kidnappers and thieves.” Find out what the show is about, see some photos, and even watch a two and a half minute trailer after the jump.

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