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 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.