Friday, June 19, 2009

Dutch gets evil; Sookie gets wooed and Tommy gets some tough love -- catching up with some of my favorite shows

So, I know it's been a while since I've posted anything and, I swear, I haven't forgotten you. I've just gotten a bit busy. But, as you already know, the newly-begun summer season has already presented us with some great TV. Though I reviewed most of these shows when they debuted/returned, I have since neglected most of them, which is a mistake I'd like to rectify. Let me take a minute to check in with some of the best new/returning shows of the summer season.
* Burn Notice: Most critics have declared this week's episode of "Burn Notice" the best of this season so far. I concur. This week's ep brought the return of evil gun runner Brennen, played by one of my favorite actors, Jay Karnes of "The Shield." On that show, Karnes played weaselly, yet ultimately decent, cop Holland "Dutch" Wagenbach. Karnes gets to show a completely different side as the gaspingly awful Brennen, and he's absolutely fantastic. I also always enjoy the episodes featuring Michael's brother, Nathan, as they bring out a different side of our favorite superspy. Around Nate, Mike is more vulnerable and human. It always serves as a nice reminder of Mike's humanity. And the moment at the end of the episode, when Mike realized just how hard it is for Nate to be his brother, was very touching.
We also got arguably the best scenes yet with Barry the money launderer, who has not only hired a life coach and an intern, but becomes fast friends with Mike's mom, Madeline. My only regret is that we never got to see the Madeline-Barry product party.
I did have one small quibble with the episode: when are they going to do something useful with the suspicious cop played by Moon Bloodgood? So far, her role has been limited to "Show up. Glower. Exit. Repeat." Sigh. This story line better be going somewhere.
However, that was a pretty small flaw in an episode that gave us Barry, Nate, Brennen and, lest I forget, the cantenna -- a nifty homemade hacking device. Overall, solid stuff.
* True Blood: HBO's vampire soap "True Blood" returned this week and, let me say that I've been a little amazed by the critics who have dismissed the Sookie-Bill relationship as the weakest part of the show. Yes, I find the character of Sookie Stackhouse a bit whiny and grating, and wish the TV Sookie was a bit more like the sassy, witty character in Charlaine Harris's novels. That said, I think Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer have fantastic chemistry, and that their love story is often quite sexy and touching. And I still say that this scene is one of the most romantic moments of the TV year.
Come on! How can you watch that scene and not get swept up in this relationship? Have you critics no soul?
* Rescue Me: I've written not a word about this season of "Rescue Me" since my initial review, but I really do think this is one of the show's best seasons ever. This week, we saw Tommy go even deeper into denying his alcoholism. In particular, the scene in which Tommy tells off his horrified AA group is one of the most powerful in "Rescue Me" history. Denis Leary is hitting all home runs this season. But mention must also be made of Robert John Burke, who plays Tommy's sadder, wiser cousin, Mickey. It's hard to believe that this is the same actor who portrayed ice-veined Bart Bass on "Gossip Girl." He's much different here, and his performance is every bit as good as Leary's. Maybe he should get his own show.
*Nurse Jackie: I'm really getting into this Showtime series starring Edie Falco, and I hope you are, too. I've seen the first six episodes, and it only gets better. This week, we learned a little more about the day-to-day anxiety of Jackie's job when an irate patient punches her in the face. I love the way that Zoey, the nursing student played by Merritt Weaver, was almost more horrified by that than she was by the ear bubbling up in the toilet. I'm also fascinated by the whole issue of Jackie's infidelity. We've yet to see in any real flaws in her relationship with her husband. He's sweet, helps with the kids and they seem to have a pretty hot sex life. So why is she turning to Eddie? Is it just because he gets her painkillers? I'm sure someone as clever as Jackie could find another way to procure them. Maybe she wants a part of her life that's secret; that she doesn't have to share with anyone. Maybe Eddie is how she blows off all the steam generated by being a dedicated nurse, mother and wife. It's wrong and unfair, but it's an interesting idea, narratively. My only problem with the episode was the Mrs. Akalitus story line. Really? We're going with the "Uptight boss is semi-accidentally drugged" story line already? Didn't "Taxi" fish this lake dry with Louie DePalma in the episode where Reverend Jim takes his driving test? I'm just sayin'.

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