Chi McBride doesn't need to be reminded that positive buzz doesn't necessarily lead to success in network television. After all, he was one of the stars of the ABC series "The Nine," which had the best buzz going into last season. It was pulled after seven episodes aired, with the final six being burned off starting Wednesday.
As luck would have it, McBride stars in the adorable ABC fantasy-mystery-romantic series, "Pushing Daisies," from Bryan Fuller ("Wonderfalls," "Heroes") and Barry Sonnenfeld ("Men in Black") that is getting this year's best buzz. So, naturally, during a meeting in Beverly Hills, Calif., one critic asked McBride if the positive buzz concerned him.
"I would much rather be in a situation where there's a lot of positive critical buzz than not," said McBride. "I'd rather be on this show than to be in a room where people are laying odds as to when you're going to get canceled.
"I mean, I think a lot like Barry," said McBride. "Barry's the kind of guy that would say, 'You know some people see the glass half empty. Some see it half full. I see half a glass of poison.' "
The crowd roared at one of the best lines of the television critics tour. Now here are some more of the tour's best and worst moments.
Best Buzz: Besides "Daisies," the shows getting the most critical support include ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money," NBC's "Chuck," CW's "Reaper" and Fox's "The Return of Jezebel James."
Worst Buzz: The producers of CBS' musical-drama, "Viva Laughlin," based on a BBC series, will sing the blues when they read most reviews of this unusual, risky show set in the gaming business in a Nevada town hear Vegas. Many critics have been laying odds it will be the first show canceled.
Best Trend: The Brits are coming, the Brits are coming. And the Scots, the Australians and the Danes. All the new shows are loaded with foreign actors, who find it easy to imitate American accents. Since they can act, it's all good.
Worst Trend: Sex. The sexual talk and content isn't only on the rise at HBO and Showtime. CBS' "Big Bang Theory," ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money," the CW's "Gossip Girl" and even the old-fashioned Fox comedy with Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton, "Back to You," have their share of it, too.
Worst Casting Move: The CW unnecessarily recast D.W. Moffett as the father in the new series set in Africa, "Life is Wild." The original father, Brett Cullen, was very good and still appears in the promos for the show seen on WNLO-TV.
Best Examples of Too Much Information: Nikolaj Costas-Waldau, who plays an immortal character on a new Fox drama, "New Amsterdam," apparently hasn't heard of this little thing called the Internet. He got himself in some unnecessary trouble discussing immortality and love.
"You said something before about love, true love," he told one critic. "Isn't that the question that all of us ask? I mean, I'm married. Sometimes I love my wife to bits. Other times I go, 'This can't be it.' " He quickly added: "She's in Greenland. She's not going to read what you write."
He wasn't the only actor to step in it. Tyler Labine, one of the stars of a new CW show, "Reaper," about a 21-year-old slacker who discovers his parents sold his soul to the devil, was asked what his private hell would be: "Oh, I don't know. . . . I just got married. Ultimately rewarding, but yeah, there was some hell involved." After some laughter, he added: "My wife is going to [expletive] kill me."
Worst-Kept Secret: The hiring of Drew Carey to replace Bob Barker as host of "The Price Is Right" came a few days after CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler and Carey both confirmed negotiations were under way.
Best Controversy: Many critics were appalled by the idea of a new CBS reality series, "Kid Nation," in which kids ages 8 through 15 attempt to show they can do a better job than adults in developing a community. Mostly, critics wondered why any parent would allow their kids to be part of an experiment that might make them emotional wrecks on national TV. And it was filmed while they should have been in school, too.
Worst Spelling: Poor Julianna Margulies, the star of the Fox midseason legal series, "Canterbury's Law." Her first and last names are often misspelled and she was the victim of misspelling again. She became excited about doing the show because a cover letter sent to her dropped the O in Fox. She thought it was an FX series with a less demanding cable schedule.
Best Rookie: Ben Silverman, NBC's new entertainment president, was incredibly enthusiastic for a guy taking over the fourth-place network. But he'll need more than desperate announcements like the hiring of 85-year-old Norman Lear to help out on a show to save NBC.
Worst Line: Pressured by critics to give some news about "Lost," ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson cracked: "I started talking to him before he was available. I don't know what went on there, but I cast Don Imus on 'Lost.' " It was an inside dig at Silverman, who used similar language describing the hiring of Isaiah Washington for "Bionic Woman." It was so inside that most critics didn't even get it.
Best Interview: Margulies, who gave thoughtful answers, was funny and charming. Too bad her show isn't as good.
Worst Interview: David Boreanaz, the co-star of "Bones," claimed he read the books on which the series is based and talked about his character in it. Then the show's creator told him his character wasn't in the book. Boreanaz is an extremely appealing actor but he clearly benefits when writers put words in his mouth.
Worst Talker: The talkative Bonnie Somerville, one of the stars of the sexy ABC drama, "Cashmere Mafia," should have taken a sedative before the show's press conference.
Best Dressed: The young stars of the CW comedy, "Aliens in America," about a Muslim exchange student who bonds with a socially inept American teen-ager, looked sharp in suits and ties.
Worst News Conference: Things went so poorly for the creators defending "Cavemen" that I almost felt sorry for them.
Best News Conference: Thanks to Sonnenfeld and Fuller, the one for "Pushing Daisies" was almost as entertaining and magical as the pilot.