Friday, December 16, 2011

Of boardwalks, back braces and Globes

This week in I Screen land, I offer my thoughts on the finales of "Boardwalk Empire" and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," the sneak preview of "Luck" and the always amusing Golden Globe nominations. Read on if you dare.

Friday, December 9, 2011

OK, let's try this again!

As you might have noticed I have, once again, become massively negligent in my blogging. Fear not -- it's not that I love you any less or that my opinions on the TV landscape have become less fiery or strong. It's just that, well, I have a house now. And houses are kind of like kids -- they demand a lot of attention, and a lot of time, and, apparently, cleaning them is more important than writing about "Boardwalk Empire" (yes, even "Boardwalk Empire" episodes that include incest, murder and desperate flights from town -- all in the last 20 minutes).
But I've worked too hard on this blog to let it totally die, so I'm going to ease my way back into this, writing a blog column (blolumn?) once a week on Fridays. It might be more frequent once I get into a groove, but, for now, this is it.
So, this week, I'm going to do a bit of unpacking on this "Sons of Anarchy" finale and write about my massive disappointment with this season of "Dexter."
Spoilers below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"The League" continues to surprise in its third season

When FX's "The League" started a few years ago, it seemed like nothing more than the TV version of the zillions of raunchy bro comedies that have invaded movie screens. It was about a fantasy football league in Chicago and, though fitfully amusing, it was hardly must-watch TV. It wasn't quite sharp enough to be a satire of our sports-obsessed (and status-obsessed) culture. And it wasn't funny or focused enough to be just a buddy sitcom, either.
But, about midway through its first season, "The League," which returns for its third season tonight at 10:30, found its footing.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review: Welcome to "Suburgatory"

Is there a more enjoyable guide through the modern jungle of suburbia than the snarky teenage girl? I present that there is not, which is probably why I found myself oddly fond of ABC's new sitcom "Suburgatory," premiering 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

"Boardwalk Empire" still aiming for greatness in second season

On the surface, HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," which starts its second season tonight at 9, has all the earmarks of being a great HBO drama, in the vein of "The Sopranos," "The Wire," or "Deadwood." It's meticulously well-made, with great pains obviously taken to re-create Atlantic City in the 1920s. It has a capable cast of actors, playing complicated characters. There's also the typical premium cable shenanigans -- nudity, coarse language, a bit of graphic violence here and there.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Reviewing Fox's "New Girl": It's Zooey-rific!

Is there really any point to reviewing the new Fox sitcom "New Girl," which premieres tonight at 9 on Fox? It stars Zooey Deschanel and your opinion on the show depends almost entirely on how you feel about her.

My "Two and a Half Men" recap: Good Lord, do these people hate Charlie Sheen

Like most people who haven't watched the CBS sitcom "Two and a Half Men" in a while, I tuned into Monday night's premiere mainly out of morbid curiosity. Yes, I wanted to see if it really started with a funeral for Charlie Harper (formerly played by the not-so-dearly-departed Charlie Sheen). And, of course, I wanted to see how they introduced new star Ashton Kutcher, who plays a broken-hearted internet billionaire improbably named Walden.
After watching the show, three main things stood out to me:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My belated, sure to be wrong, Emmy predictions

So, the Primetime Emmy Awards air tonight at 8 on Fox. Yes, I realize that's just a few hours from now, but it's still not too late to make some last minute, sure to be wrong predictions. So here I go:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Is "Sunny" losing its mojo? Fat chance

 Actors are constantly gaining weight for dramatic roles.DeNiro in "Raging Bull." Charlize Theron in "Monster." The list goes on and on. As for those who gained weight to play comedic roles, there's Renee Zelleweger in "Bridget Jones's Diary" and .... well, that's about all I can think of. That's why it was somewhat shocking to hear that "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" showrunner and co-star Rob McElhenney had gained 50 pounds for the show's seventh season -- which starts tomorrow at 10 p.m. -- simply because he thought it was a funny idea.

I'm back!

OK, so, after a long hiatus, I think I'm ready to start blogging again. It's going to start slow (I'm hoping to have up a preview of the new season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia tonight, then I'll try to move on to some of the new shows), but we're now moved in, and I'd like to get back on the horse.

Monday, July 18, 2011

"Breaking Bad" season premiere recap: The Proustian box cutter

Spoilers for the season premiere of "Breaking Bad" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Friday, July 15, 2011

"Breaking Bad" returns for fourth season: Thank the freaking Lord

Rejoice, fans of dark, disturbing television: the amazing "Breaking Bad" final returns at 10 Sunday night for a fourth season after a seemingly interminable hiatus.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Emmy thoughts

Was hoping to post this earlier, but I had to run out right after the Emmy nominations were announced this morning. But I did want to comment on them because, as you might imagine, I had some thoughts. Overall, I was fairly pleased with this year's crop of nominees (particularly the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences wise decision to recognize the excellent work being done by actors on FX shows -- something it arguably hasn't done since the early seasons of "The Shield).
However, I do have some criticisms. Below is my list of the best and worst of this year's Emmy nominations.
"Friday Night" Love: Got love all the love for the low-rated but critically adored drama "Friday Night Lights," which wrapped up its final season this year. The show got a best drama nod and nods for best lead actor Kyle Chandler and best lead actress Connie Britton. The actors were nominated last year, but I don't think the show's been recognized, so yay!
"Justified" Actors: OK, no one was expecting Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins to get nods for their uniformly excellent work on this season of "Justified." NO ONE. But, hey -- the Emmys got it right, and gave them credit. Much deserved, especially the nod for Olyphant. I'm a little cheesed that Goggins is getting a nomination for this show, when he never got one for "The Shield," but I won't dwell on that.
Less unexpected -- but no less deserved -- was the nod for Margo Martindale's work as this season's big bad, Mags Bennett. Extra credit for nominating Jeremy Davies for best guest actor. I don't know what got into the Academy's water this year, but I say double the dose.
Louis CK: I guess it's debatable whether the FX sitcom "Louie" is REALLY a comedy in the traditional sense. It's dark and unconventional and doesn't always have a lot of laughs. But it was one of the most daring, and intelligent shows launched last year -- and that's almost solely because of CK, the show's star, writer, creator, and driving force. So it's nice to see him get a nod for best actor in a comedy. Not sure what his chances are -- especially since Steve Carell is up for his final "Office" season, but sometimes it really is just an honor to be nominated.
Martha Plimpton: I only watched a couple episodes of "Raising Hope," but, from what little I saw, it was clear that Plimpton was the best thing about it and a lock for a best comedy actress nom. Kudos to the Academy for agreeing.
No nod for William H. Macy: I was almost positive that beloved character actor Macy would get a nod for his work as an awful dad on Showtime's "Shameless." I didn't think he would have been a good choice, as I find his performance overbearing and shrill most of the time. But come on -- he's got movie cred and Oscar noms. Surely Emmy would take the bait. But they didn't. Good for them in picking much more deserving performances, such as those by Goggins and Peter Dinklage.
No nod for "The Killing": Though two of its actresses -- Mireille Enos and Michelle Forbes -- got (arguably deserved) nods for their work, the show as a whole got snubbed. Yahoo! I think the Internet might have exploded had the show with one of the most hated season finales of all time received a nomination.

As in most years, the "worst" category consists of two groups -- all the shows and actors that were snubbed and all the shows and actors that got undeserved nominations. So I broke them down accordingly.
Snubs:Maybe some of the most glaring snubs were in the best actress category. Not only was last year's winner Kyra Sedgwick omitted (I kinda understand that, actually -- she got her win, and she'll probably be back in this category before "The Closer" ends its run), but two other fine actresses from cable dramas failed to get a nod. To me, the breakout performance of the year came from Emmy Rossum on "Shameless." She was funny, moving, sexy and absolutely riveting. So, of course, she got snubbed so they could honor Kathy Bates's work on "Harry's Law" (more on that later). It's one of those moves that makes me want to slap the Emmys -- and that's not an easy thing to do in a year when I liked so many of the nomination choices. Also, while the third season of "Sons of Anarchy" was highly uneven, Katey Sagal continued to deliver strong work as Gemma Teller Morrow -- particularly in her scenes with Hal Holbrook, who played her dad. Sadly, she got snubbed for the third year in a row.
Other snubs occurred in the best supporting drama actor category, where not one of the excellent supporting actors named Michael from "Boardwalk Empire" got a nod (Michael Shannon would have been my choice). Also, as much as I hated what they did to his character in the season finale, Joel Kinnaman was often the best thing about AMC's "The Killing."
In the supporting drama actress category, I was annoyed, but not surprised, that the year's other breakout star -- Emilia Clarke of "Game of Thrones" -- didn't get recognition.
In the best drama series category, was surprised to see new hot thing "The Walking Dead" fail to get a nomination, and I was sad (but, again, unsurprised) that the otherwise honored "Justified" didn't get a series nomination.
As I don't watch many comedies, I can't speak as much to snubs there. However -- and I know I'm almost totally alone in this -- it totally bugs me that the Academy refuses to acknowledge Danny McBride's work as Kenny Powers on "Eastbound and Down." Yes, his character is abrasive, which turns a lot of people off. But McBride humanizes Kenny without compromising his nastiness -- a tricky thing to do. Also, he's hilarious. Why no love?
Undeserved nods: Though I'm one of the few people who actually kind of liked the fifth season of "Dexter," even I think it's ridiculous that the show got a nod, particularly since "The Walking Dead" and "Justified" got snubbed. Also, let's talk about Kathy Bates. I only saw one episode of "Harry's Law," so it's possible her performance got all deep and nuanced after the pilot and I missed it. But I don't think so. This seems like a clear case of the Emmys cozying up to an Oscar winner. Don't get me wrong -- I love Kathy Bates. "Misery" is an all-time fave of mine. But she didn't do anything I saw that approached the work being done by the likes of Rossum or Sagal. Also, let's talk about the nod for Jon Cryer as best supporting comedy actor on "Two and a Half Men," shall we? I like Cryer. He's funny, a good sport and acquitted himself well in some witty talk show appearances in the midst of Sheen-gate. But let's be honest -- he's not getting a nomination for his performance on his CBS sitcom. He's getting the nod for being an oasis of calm in a media firestorm caused by his co-star. That's not fair to other comedy actors, and it's not fair to Cryer.

What did you think of the noms? Let me know.

The Emmys air live on Sept. 18.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Rescue Me" gears up for its final season

I can think of few shows with higher highs and lower lows than FX's drama "Rescue Me." When it focuses on firefighter Tommy Gavin's (Denis Leary) relationship with the other guys in his house and the still-raw emotional wounds left behind by 9/11, it's great. When it focuses on Tommy's relationship with the women in his life, it's shrill and often unbearably so.
The seventh and final season of the show, starts Wednesday at 10 p.m. and, based on the seven episodes I've seen so far, it pretty much retains that pattern.

Monday, July 4, 2011

"Treme" season finale recap: "Do Watcha Wanna"

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

Friday, June 24, 2011

"True Blood," season four: 'Suck' is in the eye of the beholder

As a fan of both the HBO series "True Blood" and the Charlaine Harris novels the show is based on, it pained me admit that -- following a fun and crazy second season -- the show's third season was a bit of a mess. Yes, there were occasional bright spots, such as Dennis O'Hare's marvelously hambone performance as Russell, the vampire king of Mississippi. But, mostly, the season was a fairly drippy love triangle between telepathic Louisiana waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) and vampires Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) and Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard). Or rather, it was a square, introducing luscious werewolf Alcide (Joseph Manganiello) to the mix.
Whatever -- it was dull. And when a show with this much eye candy manages to be dreary, something it desperately wrong. The season finale was particularly boring, ending in a snoozy cliffhanger that sent Sookie fleeing her romantic troubles for an exile in fairy land.
I had hopes that the fourth season, which starts Sunday at 9 p.m., would clean up some of the mess left in the third season, and go back to being bizarre, silly, and oddly entertaining. Based on the three episodes I've seen so far, my hopes have dimmed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Game of Thrones" recap: "Fire and Blood"

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

Monday, June 20, 2011

"The Killing" season finale recap: "Orpheus Descending"

Spoilers for "The Killing" first season finale below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

TNT's "Falling Skies" a modestly successfully alien invasion drama

Though I admired many bits and pieces of TNT's "Falling Skies," premiering tonight at 9, while watching the pilot episode, one thought kept recurring in my head: it's sort of like "The Walking Dead," but with aliens. Not only does it have the same basic concept -- a ragtag band of survivors unite against a seemingly unstoppable force that's destroying the world -- it has the same earnestness and the same long-boring-stretches-of-dialogue-punctuated-by-tremendous-violence pacing.
And the musical score isn't nearly as good. Still, "Falling Skies" is a decent bit of summer entertainment, and certainly above other recent attempts at alien invasion dramas, such as "V" (which I checked out of after two episodes). 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

"Men of a Certain Age" returns

"Men of a Certain Age," that fine celebration of American male middle age, returns for the second half of its second season tonight at 10 on TNT, and it finds our three heroes -- played with rumpled charm by Ray Romano, Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher -- facing some important crossroads.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

'Franklin & Bash' a thin, but appealing, summer trifle

The chemistry between Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Breckin Meyer on the new TNT dramedy "Franklin & Bash," which debuts 9 p.m. Wednesday, is hardly on a par with the best buddy duos of pop culture. To put it simply, they're no Redford and Newman. Nor are they Lemmon and Matthau. Heck, they aren't even Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. No, if the bond between the actors resembles anything, it's the bromance between 80s mainstays Corey Haim and Corey Feldman. But you know what? For a lightweight summer series about a pair of wacky attorneys, the Gosselaar-Meyer team suits me just fine.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

"Too Big to Fail" captures the spirit of financial crisis

Some have criticized the HBO movie "Too Big to Fail," which debuts Monday at 9 p.m., as trying to cram too many characters and two much material into about an hour and a half. I say that somewhat overstuffed feeling is what makes the movie -- which depicts the Wall Street financial crisis of 2008 and Washington's response to it -- so effective. This, after all, was a major event in the country -- and one that many Americans might not have fully understood. So, if the movie, so packed with characters and well-known actors, feels a little chaotic and overwhelming, isn't that kind of appropriate?

My premature, mostly uninformed, picks for the best new network shows

Being a "small media outlet" (i.e. me and a laptop in the corner of my living room), I don't really have access to important events like the TV upfronts held last week. For those who might not know, upfronts are events where the networks show trailers of their new fall lineups to potential advertisers (and members of the media).
I might not have attended, but, thankfully, we live in an age where the majority of these trailers are posted online where anyone can access them.
So, of course, I spent over an hour yesterday looking at these trailers, trying to get a sense for the new season. It wasn't pretty. Most of the comedies seem, at best, a little too broad and, at worst, a waste of beloved talent.
Now, the trailers aren't always a good indicator of what a show will be like. A good pilot might not necessarily provide fodder for a good trailer. Likewise, an exciting trailer might simply be an artful combination of the sole strong moments of what is otherwise a weak show. But, with few exceptions, the trailers do usually give a good sense of the general feel of a season. And, so far, the season ahead looks bleak.
However, a few shows did look promising, if not a perfect. One or two of the comedy trailers did actually make me laugh, and there was at least one drama (unfortunately, a midseason one) that looks really interest. After the break, my picks for the shows to watch in the 2011-2012 season.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

"Justified" season finale recap: "Bloody Harlan"

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

Thursday, April 28, 2011

"Justified" recap: Oh, this is going to be very, very bad

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

Sunday, April 24, 2011

"Treme" returns for a second season tonight

One of the nicest pleasures of the past TV season was watching HBO's drama "Treme," which returns for its second season tonight at 10, evolve from something I found preachy and slightly off-putting to something I genuinely enjoyed.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Justified" recap: I will always tolerate you

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

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Justified" recap: The long ride home

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

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"Justified" recap: 'You pick the devil you run with

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

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"Lights Out" series finale recap: "War"

Spoilers for the final episode of FX's "Lights Out" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Likability only gets you so far: Review of Fox's "Breaking In"

I'll say this much for "Breaking In," the new Fox sitcom premiering tonight at 9:30: It has likability to spare.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Reviewing "The Kennedys": No, it's not horrible. Not great, either, though

Since I don't have a lot of time, I'm just going to offer a few quick words on the embattled eight-part miniseries "The Kennedys," which premieres tonight at 8 on ReelzChannel.

Every parent's nightmare: Reviewing "The Killing"

Given that its subject matter includes murder, political intrigue and youthful depravity, AMC's new drama "The Killing," debuting with a two-hour episode tonight at 9, seems curiously muted.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Justified" recap: Holding the bag

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

Monday, March 28, 2011

'Shameless' season finale recap: 'Father Frank, Full of Grace'

Spoilers for the first season finale of "Shameless" below - don't click through if you don't want to know.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Heal thyself: Reviewing the new season of Showtime's "Nurse Jackie"

I should probably be harder on Showtime's "Nurse Jackie." I should probably chastise it for its flaws, including characters who are constantly shifting personalities (is Anna Deavere Smith's Gloria Akalitus a pompous buffoon or a capable administrator? Is Paul Schulze's Eddie a decent guy or a borderline psycho?). I should probably argue that it's frustrating that we're at the third season -- debuting Monday at 10 p.m. -- and the title character, played by Emmy winner Edie Falco, has evolved so little. Yet, it's hard to bring myself to criticize the show.
That's because "Nurse Jackie," for all its flaws, is just terrifically entertaining. At some point, that might not be enough but, right now, it is.

Reviewing HBO's "Mildred Pierce"

While watching HBO's "Mildred Pierce," I made a mental list of all the things that could prevent Kate Winslet from taking home an Emmy for playing the title role in the lavish miniseries, premiering at 9 tonight. There are exactly three things on that list: committing murder, running a bum fighting ring, and starring in a British, female remake of "Norbit."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

"Justified" recap: Louder than a bomb

(Late) spoilers for last night's "Justified" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Monday, March 21, 2011

"Big Love" series finale recap: "When Men and Mountains Meet"

My recap of the series finale of HBO's "Big Love" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"Justified" recap: See Mullens run

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

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"Justified" recap: Mags Bennett is your number one fan

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

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A&E almost has "Breakout" success

There's a fine line between "good" and "entertaining." Certainly, a TV show can be both high quality and fun to watch. But sometimes the shows that are most enjoyable are weird guilty pleasures, like the defunct Fox show "Prison Break." What started out as a fairly sturdy action drama quickly became a distinctly odd piece of camp -- particularly in the series' third season, which took place in a lawless Panamanian prison.
Though I'd never really call "Prison Break" quality TV, I did love it, and weirdly miss it now that it's gone.
So, I was pleased to see that two of that show's writers and producers, Matt Olmstead and Nick Santora, had created a new show about cops and cons -- "Breakout Kings," which debuts at 10 p.m. Sunday on A&E.

"Breakout Kings" centers on a pair of U.S. Marshals (played by Laz Alonso and Domenick Lombardozzi) who enlist a bunch of convicts to help them catch the biggest and baddest prison escapees. The pilot is great fun and follows the tradition of "rag-tag gang of outlaws" classics like "The Dirty Dozen." We see the cons introduced in prison, get a rundown of their skills, and watch them stare bemusedly as their new bosses explain the rules. It's a winning formula, and the cons themselves are fairly likable, particularly Jimmi Simpson (best known as the most vocal of the creepy McPoyle siblings on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia") as a psychological genius whose gambling problem seemingly landed him in jail.
Now, it's not quite clear how the cons' skills as criminals make them good at catching other convicts. Sure, the Simpson character is brilliant and efficient, but the team probably could have a hired a real psychiatrist -- one who doesn't need to be returned to his cell at the end of each mission. And yes, there's a clever "entrepreneur" played by Malcolm Goodwin who knows how to get things, but I don't think those skills are that hard to find in the real world, either.
So, I'm guessing that the cons are picked less for their gifts as criminals and more for the fact that they require no payment other than time shaved off their sentence. OK -- I can roll with that, as long as it's fun.
And the pilot does have an infectious, sharp energy in the by-play among the cops and their quasi-unwilling new staff. It's neither the tight action of early "Prison Break," nor the anarchy of late "Prison Break," but it's entertaining nonetheless.
However, in the second episode I saw (actually the series' third episode), the funny, charming female con played by Nicole Steinwedell in the pilot has been replaced with a new character -- the dour Erica, played by Serinda Swan. Whereas Steinwedell's character, Philly, was light, bright and perfectly suited to a caper show like this, Swan's Erica is a pain thus far. She whines a lot and it doesn't help that Swan seems to be an even worse actress than "Prison Break's" Jodi-Lyn O'Keefe (who was at least transcendent in her badness, whereas Swan is just run of the mill wooden).
The rest of the cast is a bit hit or miss. Lombardozzi, of "The Wire," is likable as the more shoot-from-the-hip of the two cops, and Goodwin seems fine, though he has little to do, as the smart con Shea. But Alonso is saddled with that cop show cliche -- the by-the-book-cop who puts work before family -- and doesn't find any new notes.
The real standout here is Simpson, who raises the show's game much the way Stacy Keach and William Fichtner elevated "Prison Break" whenever they were on screen. It's a better show when we focus on Simpson's Lloyd Lowry, a creepy but sympathetic character who relishes his new role as crimefighter. 
However, even he can't cover up the show's flaws, which include the fact that the team apparently travels using the Insta-Go 5000, that magical invention that allows TV characters to travel from one area of the country to another in mere seconds. Look, I know a show like this requires a suspension of disbelief, but it also needs to be rooted in some kind of reality. Characters hop from Queens, N.Y. to Richmond, Va. to Boston like it's nothing. I'm sorry, but it can be hard to look past that.
There's also some clumsy dialogue and, thus far, the prison escapees being sought by the team aren't very compelling characters. Derek Phillips of "Friday Night Lights" brings a little humanity to a man arrested for child abuse in the later episode, but not enough to make me care what happens to him. 
All in all, "Breakout Kings" has potential, but it doesn't quite feel fully formed yet. It definitely is no "Prison Break" (a fact that, I'm sure, will be made painfully obvious by the upcoming return of that show's campy villain T-Bag, played by Robert Knepper). But it is fun and diverting in its own way, so I'll stick with it for a while.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"Justified" recap: He ain't a heavy, he's my brother-in-law

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

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"Justified" recap: As the Crowe lies...

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

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Justifed" recap: Not without my baby!

Of the three episodes I've seen in advance, this week's "The Life Inside," might have been my least favorite, which is why this post is so late (and will be so short). Still, I did enjoy it, and will offer a few bullet point observations after the jump.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Friday Night Lights" series finale recap: "Always"

Though I haven't written much (OK, at ALL) about "Friday Night Lights's" run on DirecTV this year, I'd be remiss if I didn't offer a few words on the show's series finale, which ran Wednesday night on the provider's 101 network. Spoilers ahead.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"Justified" recap: The Harlan Code

Spoilers for tonight's episode of "Justified" below. Don't click through if you don't want to know.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

'Mr. Sunshine' a bit brighter than it used to be

When I saw the original pilot for ABC's sitcom "Mr. Sunshine" back in the summer, I was deeply mixed on it.

'Justified' returns -- and damn, it's good

As far as I'm concerned, FX's "Justified" was one of the TV highlights of last year. A well-acted, tightly written, witty drama about a deputy U.S. Marshal in Kentucky who battles criminals and his personal demons, the show was something you rarely see this days: a truly adult drama, light on gimmicks and heavy on sharp dialogue and interesting characters. The series returns Wednesday at 10 p.m. and fans will be happy to hear that it's better than ever.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A brief review of "The Chicago Code"

Some months back, I wrote a "Not For Review" piece on a mid-season series called "Ride-Along." It was a cop drama from Shawn Ryan, mastermind of the great FX series "The Shield," and I really loved the pilot. Well, they say don't fix what ain't broken, but, since then the show has been re-named "The Chicago Code," and the pilot episode has been revised. The series premieres tonight at 9 on Fox and, though I didn't feel it needed changing, none of the changes destroy what I loved about the show in the first place.
It tells the story of prickly, but decent, Chicago cop Jarek Wysocki (Jason Clarke), who regularly alienates his partners, engages in quasi-reckless behavior, but fiercely loves the city he has sworn to protect. One of the few ex-partners who doesn't bear a grudge against him is Teresa Colvin (Jennifer Beals), who happens to be the city's new police superintendent. She's quietly raging a battle against a corrupt alderman, play by Delroy Lindo, and also trying to clean up her department. Into all this walks Wysocki's new partner, Caleb (played by "Friday Night Lights'" Matt Lauria), an ambitious sort who sees his partnership with the volatile Wysocki as a learning experience, not a burden.
As you might expect from Shawn Ryan, it's a muscular, somewhat dark drama with lots of strong performances. As much as I liked the original pilot, I actually prefer the one you'll see tonight, as it makes Lindo's character more of a complex anti-hero than the slightly cartoonish villain he was before. At any rate, it's a smart, entertaining drama, and I encourage you to check it out.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Shahi appeals on "Legal," but can't resolve show's problems

The actress Sarah Shahi is, as evidenced by the photo above, a beautiful woman. You might have noticed her before, as the female lead on NBC's short-lived series "Life," or on Showtime's "The L Word," or maybe as the young woman with whom Tony engages in a Las Vegas adventure in a final season episode of "The Sopranos."
She's also a fine actress with a lot of charm, which is amply displayed on her new USA series "Fairly Legal," which debuts tonight at 10.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Monday, January 17, 2011

Previewing "Harry's Law": The shoe doesn't fit

The new NBC series "Harry's Law," debuting at 10 tonight, should come with a warning: if you are allergic to wackiness, do not attempt to watch this show without an EpiPen nearby. Because damn -- does "Harry's Law" offer more hijinks than you can shake a stick at.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

'Big Love' final season off to a solid, if depressing, start

There are good things and bad things I can say about the new -- and final -- season of the HBO drama "Big Love,"  which starts Sunday at 9 p.m.

Monday, January 10, 2011

FX's "Lights Out" packs a major punch

In the opening minutes of FX's fantastic new drama "Lights Out," (premiering Tuesday at 10 p.m.) we're introduced to boxer Patrick "Lights" Leary (Holt McCallany) on a particularly tough day. His face has been broken and bloodied during a brutal fight, but Lights is less concerned about his injuries than the fact that he lost a fight that he should have won. He was robbed, he tells his wife, Theresa (Catherine McCormack) who is far more worried about the shattered state of his body. She can't go on watching him withstand this abuse. She won't watch him die. Either he quits fighting, or she quits him.
So he quits. It's a powerful, devastating scene and it automatically announces that "Lights Out" is something special.