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Thursday, December 23, 2010

The 10 Best Shows of 2010

When it comes to TV, 2010 was really a mixed bag, wasn't it? Yes, it was the year that gave us "The Glades," "Bridalplasty" and scads of fairly worthless freshmen series on the broadcast networks. It was a year when one of the few promising network series, "LoneStar," died a quick death, and when one of the more promising cable series, "Terriers," died a slightly longer death.
It was year when some dear old friends left us, including "Lost" and "24," creating a bit of a gap in the TV landscape.
Yet this was also the year that gave us the best season yet of AMC's "Breaking Bad." It was the year that gave us perhaps the best "Mad Men" episode to date, "The Suitcase." It was a year in which we were introduced to some fine new cable shows, including the nifty "Justified" and the elegant "Boardwalk Empire."
It was, as I said, a mixed bag. But there was plenty to be happy about. Below is my list of the 10 best shows of 2010. Some are what you would expect. Some aren't (I'm as surprised by my number 10 choice as you are). But all represent some of my best TV watching experiences of the year.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Best TV Lines of 2010

We all know the end of the year is a prime time of "Best of" lists. And yes, I am prepping a "Best Shows of 2010" list (hopefully coming next week -- stay tuned).
But this year, I thought I'd mix it up and do a best quotes of 2010 list. I asked for suggestions and got almost nothing from you people. So, I was left to my own devices to come up with a list of the verbal highlights of 2010. I tried my best, but I know there are many things I forgot (my failure to come up with a single memorable line from either "The League" or "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" shames me to no end).
Still, here is my sure-to-be-imperfect-but-complete-to-the-best-of-my-abilities list of the best quotes of 2010.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"Dexter" season finale recap: "The Big One"


Spoilers for the season finale of "Dexter" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Boardwalk Empire season finale recap: "Return to Normalcy"

Spoilers for the first-season finale of HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

"The Walking Dead" season finale: "TS-19"

Spoilers for the season finale of "The Walking Dead" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Terriers" season finale recap: "Hail Mary"


Recap of the season (and hopefully not series) finale of FX's "Terriers" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Soliciting your help...

As 2010 comes to a close, many TV writers are preparing their lists of the year's best shows. I am no exception, but this year, I wanted to add another year end "best" list.
So many of the shows I love are made special by their dialogue. After all, what would "Mad Men" be without the wit and wisdom of Roger Sterling? Would "Glee" be as gleeful without the lacerating put-downs of Sue Sylvester? And would "True Blood" be as much fun without the reliably dumb observations of Jason Stackhouse?
So I'm asking you to help me put together a list of the best quotes of the year. Feel free to post your suggestions below, or e-mail them to me at iscreenyouscreen@gmail.com. I have ideas of my own, but I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Walking Dead" recap: Road trip (again)

Spoilers for this week's episode of "The Walking Dead" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"Walking Dead" recap: Get your guns and grab your hat

Spoilers for this week's episode of "The Walking Dead" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Letting go: An interview with "Finding Lost: Season 6" author Nikki Stafford


For most  fans of ABC's twisty sci-fi series "Lost," the show ended in May, when it aired its polarizing two-hour finale. For some fans, it might have ended a few days, or even weeks, later, when they finally stopped dissecting every minute of its final episode, trying to figure out how it meshed with the rest of the series.
For Nikki Stafford, the show didn't truly end until a few weeks ago, when "Finding Lost: Season Six" -- the final installment of her "Finding Lost" series of books -- was released.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Walking Dead" recap: This is my brother, Darryl

Spoilers on this week's episode of "The Walking Dead" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Burn Notice" still entertaining, but enough with the mythology





Show of hands: how many people still give a fig about who burned Michael Westen?
I mean, since the first episode of USA's TV series "Burn Notice," we've been handed red herring after red herring about who sent Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) off the grid. And while it's brought us some interesting actors and storylines, it's kind of all gone nowhere.
That doesn't mean that "Burn Notice," which returns for its new season tonight at 10, is no longer watchable.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bitter and sweet: My review of TBS's "Conan"


With the possible exception of David Letterman, it's hard to think of any entertainer who's gotten more mileage out of a raw deal than Conan O'Brien. Months after being booted from "The Tonight Show" (and uncermoniously quashing the suggestion that he move to midnight), O'Brien's new show, "Conan," debuted on TBS Monday night. And, judging from the clever cold open, he's still a wee bit bitter about how things ended at his former home:

Monday, November 8, 2010

"30 for 30" preview: "The Best There Never Was"

"Are you who they say you are?"
That's the question asked of an unassuming truck driver at the start of "The Best That Never Was," ESPN's latest offering in its excellent "30 for 30" series of sport documentaries.
The answer to the question is yes: the burly but quiet guy behind the wheel of that truck is Marcus Dupree, who, in 1981, was football's next big thing. How the one-time high school phenom went from being bound for football greatness to driving a truck is the focus of this fascinating documentary that debuts Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"Walking Dead" recap: Smear campaign





Spoilers from this week's episode of "The Walking Dead" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A zombie thriller with brains...and entrails...and lots of other gross stuff


Full disclosure: I am not a horror fan. I'm just not. Believe it or not, despite my ability to watch such violent and disturbing shows as "Breaking Bad" and "The Shield" without having my sleep disturbed (much), I am totally squeamish and jittery when it comes to things that go bump in the night. That's why I've stayed away from horror classics like "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Exorcist." Hell, I can't even watch the original "Stepford Wives" all the way through (sorry -- robot Paula Prentiss creeps me out like nobody's business).
And don't even get me started on the current genre of torture porn. I've never seen a "Saw" movie; will never see a "Saw" movie -- end of discussion.
So why, you may asked, am I excited about "The Walking Dead," the new horror series that premieres tonight at 10 on AMC?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A virgin weighs in on "The Rocky Horror Glee Show"


Spoilers on "The Rocky Horror Glee Show" after the jump.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Mad Men" season finale recap: "Tomorrowland"

Spoilers for the season four finale of "Mad Men" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Caution flags: "30 for 30" focuses on Tim Richmond's wild ride

Though I have great admiration for ESPN's "30 for 30" documentary series, which highlights a wide range of extraordinary, sports-related stories, I don't write about it much, for a few reasons. For one thing, though I have some rudimentary sports knowledge, I can't speak with great authority on most of the topics covered in the films. Thus, I'm worried I'll look like a moron if I write about them.
Also, I simply don't always have time to write about them before they air. But I have made an exception in the case of this week's offering "Tim Richmond: To the Limit," which airs 8 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Justified" to return in February

So, I just recently saw the trailer for the second season of FX's awesome drama "Justified," which was one of my favorite new shows of 2010 ("Terriers," "Boardwalk Empire" and AMC's upcoming "The Walking Dead" are in spitting distance, but "Justified" is the sentimental fave thus far).
You can watch the trailer below. Mostly, it looks like recycled clips from last season, but it does offer the tidbit that the new season starts in February. And, truth be told, any footage of Timothy Olyphant as trigger-happy lawman Raylan Givens is welcome, even if it is old.

Monday, October 11, 2010

"Mad Men' recap: Hell hath no fury like Don Draper scorned

Spoilers for this week's episode of "Mad Men" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Monday, October 4, 2010

"Mad Men" recap: The troubled vessel

Spoilers for this week's episode of "Mad Men" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Monday, September 27, 2010

"Mad Men" recap: Do you promise not to tell?





Spoilers for this week's episode of "Mad Men" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Blood, grief and baby-sitters: Reviewing the new season of "Dexter"





Note: Please don't click through unless you've seen all of season four of "Dexter." There are spoilers below.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Why I love Danny McBride





When HBO premiered its foul-mouthed dark comedy "Eastbound & Down" a few years ago, I wasn't sure how I felt about it. Yes, it was original. It had moments of true hilarity. But it was so mean! And its main character -- the superhumanly obnoxious former ball player Kenny Powers -- was so unlikeable in so many ways.
Yet, I stayed with it for two reasons. For one thing, its raw, anarchic spirit was kind of intoxicating. But its main draw is star Danny McBride, who plays Kenny. A protegee of Will Ferrell, McBride isn't just funny. He's also a pretty good actor, and one of the few performers who can manage the delicate task of getting us to laugh at an oblivious jerk like Kenny, while also making this larger than life buffoon seem like a real human being.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Raising Hope" debuts tonight


In addition to "Glee" and "Running Wilde," Fox is also debuting its new comedy "Raising Hope" tonight at 9 p.m. Since the opinions I laid out in my original Not for Review piece on the show back in July pretty much still stand, I won't say much more on the show here. It's still a little too goofy for its own good, and I still don't think the Cloris Leachman character works. However, Lucas Neff is likable as the lead, and his dedication to raising his newfound baby comes off as sweet and endearing (it could have been really creepy, so kudos to Neff).
I also still love the work of Martha Plimpton and Garrett Dillahunt as Neff's parents. And, actually, I will probably continue to watch the show just for them. Plimpton in particular is hilarious as the sort of no-nonsense white trash matron who hasn't fixed the hole in the bottom of her car in the course of 20 years. There are also some fairly funny lines (Dillahunt and Plimpton's exchange about Charles Manson was revealed in the pilot, but it still made me laugh, even though I saw it coming).
So, overall, I still think the show needs work, but it's promising enough to warrant a look.

"Wilde" not "Arrested," but still worth a look

A few weeks back, I wrote a Not for Review piece on "Arrested Development" mastermind Mitch Hurwitz's Fox series "Running Wilde," in which I stated that the show was promising, if not as good as "Arrested." Well, the show premieres tonight at 9:30. Many roles have been recast since the version I saw, and some of the rough edges of the early version have been smoothed out. With all these changes...my opinion is pretty much the same as it was when I saw the original pilot.

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Glee" second season off to promising, if slow, start


Along with all the new shows starting this week, a bunch of returning shows are also making their season premieres, including Fox's bright musical comedy "Glee." The new season debuts Tuesday at 8 p.m. and, while it's not quite as good as last season's best episodes,  it's a solid start.

Best bet for tonight


As you likely know, a bunch of new series are making their debuts this evening, including NBC's "The Event" (premiering at 9 p.m.), Fox's much-hyped "Lone Star" (8 p.m.) and CBS's "Hawaii Five-O" (10 p.m.). Though I've not seen the official review version of any of these shows, my tentative favorite of the bunch is "Hawaii," a lively reinvention of the classic series. Alex O'Loughlin is a touch wooden in the Jack Lord role, but Scott Caan is hilarious scene-stealer as sidekick Dano. Plus, "Lost" fans will be thrilled to see the return of Daniel Dae Kim, sporting his natural (and very American) accent. It's not a great show, but it's a solid cop drama, which I much preferred to the soap opera antics of "Lone Star" or the serial sci-fi nonsense of "The Event."
By the way, I'm going to try to review as many new shows as possible (I've already offered my takes on the odious Jimmy Smits vehicle "Outlaw" and the excellent new cable shows "Terriers" and "Boardwalk Empire"), but I haven't gotten a chance to see them all, which is why you haven't seen any "10 best" or "10 worst" lists. So far, I have been underwhelmed by many of the broadcast offerings, but hope springs eternal. Anyway, if you're interested in reading my early impressions on some of the new shows (including "The Event" and "Lone Star") check out my "Not For Review" pieces on the site.
And happy viewing!

"Mad Men" recap: Girls, Girls, Girls


Spoilers from this week's "Mad Men" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A fascinating look at 'America's Playground': Reviewing 'Boardwalk Empire'



It would have been easy to be disappointed by HBO's new drama "Boardwalk Empire," premiering Sunday at 9 p.m. After all, it has arguably the highest pedigree of any show -- broadcast or cable -- debuting this fall. It's created by Terence Winter, a writer and producer on "The Sopranos," co-executive produced by iconic auteur Martin Scorsese (who also directed the pilot) and stars a who's who of character actors, led the fantastic Steve Buscemi. It also tells a fairly riveting story, very loosely based on the non-fiction book by Nelson Johnson, about Atlantic City at the dawn of Prohibition.
Given all that, expectations were bound to be high. And high expectations are usually impossible to meet. Thankfully, "Boardwalk Empire" meets them.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Sunny" days return to FX

With shows like "Glee" and "Modern Family" heralding the return of the network sitcom, it would be logical to worry whether fine cable comedies, like FX's dark-hearted "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," might fade into the background. After all, "Sunny" rose to prominence during a time when quality network sitcom options were far and few between. But the series, which returns for a sixth season tonight at 10, seems as funny as ever.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"Outlaw" criminally squanders Smits


There's a handful of actors who can add spark and gravitas to nearly any project. I'd argue that Jimmy Smits is one of those actors. His galvanizing performance on season three of "Dexter" was the best thing about that uneven season, and his presence was the sole reason I managed to stay awake through the first episode of the short-lived CBS series "Cane."
So it's doubly disappointing to see him slumming it in "Outlaw," a fairly rote, cheesy legal drama that premieres Wednesday at 10 p.m. on NBC (its regular time slot this fall will be Fridays at 10 p.m.).

Monday, September 13, 2010

"The Closer" season finale recap: "Executive Order"

Spoilers on the summer finale of "The Closer" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

"Mad Men" recap: Can't get no satisfication

Spoilers for this week's episode of "Mad Men" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

"True Blood" season finale recap: "Evil is Going On"

Spoilers for this week's episode of "True Blood" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"Food Wars" host traverses culinary battlegrounds


Camille Ford has always loved a good food fight.
No, not the kind that involve flinging a cream pie across a crowded cafeteria. Ford, a New York City resident for the past eight years, is the host of "Food Wars," the Travel Channel  series that finds cities in which two restaurants serve the same signature dish, then pits the proprietors against each other to determine who does the dish the best.
The show recently started a new season, which has already found Ford helping to determine (among other things) who has the best Coney dog in Detroit, and who has the best ribs in Kansas City. It's a fun concept but, during a recent phone interview, Ford said the competitors are usually dead serious in their quest to be the best at what they do.
 "You always want to be a little bit better," Ford said. "It's human nature. These people live in the same town. They serve the same food. They have the same clientele." Thus, being judged the best "is a big deal."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Good dogs: Reviewing the new FX series "Terriers"


When NBC proposed a remake of the classic series "The Rockford Files," many balked, but I thought it could be interesting. After all, what better hero for these down-trodden times than Jim Rockford, a scruffy yet resourceful private investigator, who plugs along against foes who are often stronger and better funded? The original attempt to remake that show faltered, though a new one is in the works.
However, if the remake never happens, that's now just fine with me. After seeing FX's new series "Terriers" (premiering tonight at 10 p.m.), I've decided that the show's protagonist, Hank Dolworth (Donal Logue), fills this generation's need for a scruffy but scrappy P.I. better than any revamped Rockford ever could.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Playing catch-up: "Sons of Anarchy"

I try my best to stay current with TV's latest offerings, particularly when the shows in question develop feverish fan followings. But sometimes -- more times, in fact, than I like to admit -- shows fall through the cracks. That's what happened, initially, with FX's biker drama "Sons of Anarchy," which premiered roughly two years ago.

"Mad Men" recap: Happy Birthday, Peggy Olson!

Spoilers for this week's episode of "Mad Men" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"Rescue Me" season finale recap: "ADD"


Spoilers for last night's season finale of "Rescue Me" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Monday, August 30, 2010

"True Blood" recap: Sun, sun, sun -- here it comes


Spoilers for this week's "True Blood" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

"Mad Men" recap: It's an honor just to be so drunk you black out and lose your award


Recap of this week's "Mad Men" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My Emmy picks


I think we can all agree that this year's Emmy nominations, while overlooking a lot of great shows and performers, were a bit better than normal. After all, the academy finally gave nods to eternally snubbed "Friday Night Lights" leads Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler, and gave lots of love to some promising newbies, like "Glee" and "Modern Family."
But, no matter what they say, it's the win that matters. When the awards are handed out on Aug. 29, who will win? Here are my predictions on who will win in the major categories -- and my thoughts on who SHOULD win in the major categories.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mad Men recap: Flora and bladed weaponry

Roger Sterling expresses some mild displeasure over WWII with Mr. Saito.
 Spoilers for this week's "Mad Men" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"True Blood" recap: Sookie's a ... what? Really?

Hi, I'm Mike Calia, the special guest blogger who's filling in for "TV Writer" on this week's "True Blood" recap. If you like what you read here, I invite you to stop by my site, cynicbytrade.blogspot.com, where I blog somewhat occasionally. And if you don't like what you see here, then I still encourage you to stop by my blog to berate and badger me.

Okay, now that I'm through with the shameless self-promotion part of this post, it's time for the obligatory Spoiler Warning. So, unless you want this week's episode of "True Blood," entitled "I Smell a Rat," spoiled for you, don't read beyond the jump.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A matter of housekeeping

Just wanted to let you know that I'm taking a much needed week's vacation, during which I will be more or less blog free. Don't fret, though -- I've already assigned a pair of dogged guest bloggers to write this week's "True Blood" and "Mad Men" recaps, and I've loaded up a piece about my Emmy predictions, which will run next Saturday. I should be back on the blog in time to write next week's recaps.
In the meantime, please go enjoy the rest of your summer.
Oh! And go vote in the I Screen You Screen alternative Emmy poll if you haven't already!

Monday, August 16, 2010

"Mad Men" recap: Good news, bad news

Spoilers for this week's "Mad Men" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

"True Blood" recap: Bring me the fangs of Russell Edgington!


Spoilers for this week's episode of "True Blood" are below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Winning Linney makes "C" worth seeing


Could anyone other than Laura Linney make us love Cathy Jamison, the tightly wound heroine of Showtime's new dramedy "The Big C," premiering Monday at 10:30 p.m.? 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Reminder: PLEASE vote in the I Screen You Screen Alternative Emmy Poll

Only one more week to vote in the I Screen You Screen Alternative Emmy Poll, folks -- and it seems as though virtually no one has voted.
Come on! You know you have an opinion about which shows were cheated out of a nomination! So go click some buttons!
You can vote in the poll by clicking here and feel free to list any write-in candidates below. Go!

Monday, August 9, 2010

"True Blood" recap: Love shouldn't have to hurt


Spoilers on this week's "True Blood" below, so don't click through if you don't want to know.

"Mad Men" recap: Rediscovering Godzilla


Spoilers for this week's episode of "Mad Men" below. Don't click through if you don't want know.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Not for review: ABC's "No Ordinary Family"



"Not for review" is an occasional series of pieces in which I offer my thoughts on the pilots for this year's new shows. These are not reviews, as many of the pilots sent to press aren't final versions. Roles can be recast; scenes can be re-edited and many other changes can be made. These are simply my first impressions based on watching early versions of the shows.

Friday, August 6, 2010

"Friday Night Lights" season finale recap: "Thanksgiving"


After a sabbatical from the "Friday Night Lights" recap, I'm making a grand -- albeit brief -- return to recap the fourth season finale, "Thanksgiving."
Spoilers below, so don't click through if you don't want to know.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Not for review: The CW's "Nikita"



"Not for review" is an occasional series of pieces in which I offer my thoughts on the pilots for this year's new shows. These are not reviews, as many of the pilots sent to press aren't final versions. Roles can be recast; scenes can be re-edited and many other changes can be made. These are simply my first impressions based on watching early versions of the shows.

Monday, August 2, 2010

"Mad Men" recap: Merry Christmas? I don't think so.


Spoilers for this week's episode of "Mad Men" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

"True Blood" recap: Kicked in the face by love

Spoilers for this week's episode of "True Blood" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.