Monday, September 30, 2013

R.I.P. - Breaking Bad

Now THAT's the way to end a TV series!


One of the most consistently brilliant, shocking, appalling, stunning series in television history came to an end last night.  There were no loose ends, no unanswered questions (unless you really nitpick to find one), nothing left unresolved.  The journey of Walter White came to a logical end that was satisfying and realistic, fitting and natural, and felt right and justified.

For Walt to have gotten revenge against the people - Jack and Lydia included - who'd screwed up everything he had planned for after he was gone was very satisfying.

And for Jesse to be set free, get his own vengeance against psycho Todd and get closure with former partner and recent nemesis Walt was a moment to cheer for.  Jesse's the only one who actually gets a happy ending - of course not without tremendous scars, trauma and loss that he will carry with him the rest of his life - and  you can't help but hope he at last can have a life.

Vince Gilligan, BB creator and executive producer who wrote and directed the finale, said that it was the absolute right choice for Walt to die next to his "precious" (re: Lord of the Rings): a meth lab whose layout he original designed and product he'd perfected.  The final shot of him lying on the floor, bleeding out, seemingly dead, was a moment that finally allowed us to breathe after weeks of high tension and unpredictable choices and let Walt go.  Whether in the end you loved him or hated him, cursed him or tentatively rooted for him, I think the quiet schoolteacher-turned-meth kingpin had to die, and the writers sent him off perfectly.

One of the greatest moments of the finale (there were SO many) was when Walt finally admitted to Skylar - and to himself and to us - the real reason he lived and thrived as Heisenberg.  Through the whole course of the series, he justified his horrific actions by saying he was doing it all for his family, to provide them with financial security for life after he was gone.  But at last he confessed what his real motivation had become ...

"I did it for me.  I liked it.  I was good at it.  And I was really ... I was alive."

BREAKTHROUGH!  And you could tell Skylar was thankful for the revelation.  I think it added to her release from the hell she'd been trapped in for so long.  You have to wonder what she and Walt, Jr. - a.k.a. Flynn (don't think he'll be using his given name any time soon, if ever again) will do when the $9 million+ money arrives in 10 months on Flynn's 18th birthday thanks to Elliott and Gretchen (love that Walt finally figured out a way to get his money to the kids without tying it to himself).  Sky and Flynn will no doubt figure out the true source of the windfall ... but will they take it and use it?  Intriguing dilemma.

I am also thankful that Hank and Steve will be found and properly put to rest.  I hated that they were possibly going to be left in that hole in the desert, lost forever.  But for Walt to give Skylar the lotto ticket and leave it for them to be retrieved was great.

So, in closing, allow me to give a standing ovation and honored salute to all the people behind bringing this groundbreaking, momentous series to us for five captivating seasons, particularly Gilligan, Bryan Cranston (Walt), Aaron Paul (Jesse), Anna Gunn (Skylar), RJ Mitte (Walt, Jr.), Dean Norris (Hank) and Betsy Brandt (Marie).  This show has some of the best acting, writing, cinematography, directing, characters and storytelling you'll see on TV and it more than deserved the Emmy win this year and next.

If you haven't seen Breaking Bad, ask anyone and they'll tell you DO.  It is not to be missed.  It's available on DVD, it's streaming on Netflix and the entire series is coming in a fantastic collector's case next month (Christmas, anyone?).

Bravo and adieu, Breaking Bad and rest in peace, Mr. White.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Review - The Goldbergs and Trophy Wife

ABC has introduced two new comedies into its Tuesday night lineup, The Goldbergs and Trophy Wife.  With a tremendously strong lead-in - Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - we'll have to see how much of the audience they maintain.  For me, these are going head-to-head with my beloved Supernatural (CW), and both will battle CBS' NCIS: Los Angeles and NBC's The Voice's result show, but since I don't watch the latter two shows, I should be able to tune in to these newbies.  Question is, will I want to?


The 80s are back!  Going in, this sounded like it could be the new The Wonder Years - following the ups and downs and all the growing pains of a young boy, Adam (Sean Giambrone). Adam's family - a.k.a. the Goldbergs - are loving just like any other ... but with a lot more yelling. There's mom Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covey, Rules of Engagement, Reno 911!), overbearing and authoritative; dad Murray (Jeff Garlin, Arrested Development) is gruff and hot-tempered; 17-year-old sister Erica (Hayley Orrantia) is hot and not to be messed with; 16-year-old brother Barry (Troy Gentile) is overly emotional and suffers severe middle-child syndrome; and grandpa Al “Pops” Solomon (George Segal, Retired at 35, Just Shoot Me) is wild and shameless and enthusiastically schools 11-year-old Adam in the ways of love.

The opening moments of the show made me smile as they showed a montage of images from 80s TV and pop culture - The Karate Kid, Diff'rent Strokes, Knight Rider, Alf, the Rubik's Cube, Back to the Future ... totally awesome! (I was so, like, an 80s kid, totally!) - but absolutely this show is heir-apparent to The Wonder Years, complete with voice-over commentary from now-adult Adam.  What is different is that we are treated to family moments captured by young Adam on videotape (no DVD back then, young ones) interspersed with the regular story, providing a visual record of his point of view in addition to the audio.

Also different is, where TWY mostly focused on telling Kevin Arnold's (Fred Savage) story and touching less on the rest of the family except when they directly affected his life, The Goldbergs takes time to tell each character's story equally.

It's strange to watch a show that features no current tech - no laptops, no internet, no cell phones - things that have become such staples in TV today (hell, the cell phone is practically a whole character on Pretty Little Liars)  And the fashion - oh, the horror of 80s fashion!:  fringe jackets, colorful track suits, leg warmers, big hair, overly done pastel eye shadow (*shudder*). Gave me a warm sense of nostalgia, but I wonder how young viewers will receive the references ... if it'll be at all funny to them since they have no frame of reference. For certain the show can't rest on that element alone; the writing and situations have to have good comic substance, which for me, eh.

The characters are very over-the-top, and while the show absolutely established that this is a family of yellers, I gotta say the screaming got old real quick.  Not sure I could take it week after week.

The Goldbergs fits right in to the family of ABC's other misfit family comedies - Modern Family, The Middle - but I'm not sure it's a winner.  Nothing made me laugh out loud and, again, the constant screaming was hard to take.  It doesn't have the heart and sentiment that The Wonder Years did, at least not right off.  But if nothing else, I might tune in just to get a little 80s nostalgia fix (I mean, young Adam had a Voltron shirt! How awesome is that?).  Rad music soundtrack, too.

One thing I did love:  The show was created by executive producer/writer Adam F. Goldberg and during the closing credits, we were shown the real-life inspirations for the show: his actual family.  First they showed a clip from the pilot, then split-screened actual video footage of the real person - his parents and siblings -  doing exactly what had been re-created in the episode.  Very cool.

BOTTOM LINE:  Probably not for me, but didn't hate it.  The Wonder Years is better.

The Goldbergs airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC.


Reformed party girl Kate (Malin Akerman, Children's Hospital, Burning Love) has become the third wife of Pete (Bradley Whitford, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, The West Wing).  Taking on an instafamily complete with three stepchildren and two ex-wives, she is determined to make her challenging new home life work.

Also in the cast are Marcia Gay Harden (The Newsroom) as ex-wife #1 Diane, intense, overachieving and mother of twin teenagers Hillary (Bailee Madison) and Warren (Ryan Scott Lee);  ex-wife #2 Jackie (Michaela Watkins, Enlightened, The New Adventures of Old Christine), free spirit and mother to adopted son Bert (Albert Tsai); and Natalie Morales (Parks and Recreation, White Collar) as Kate's best friend Meg.

I liked this pilot, a lot, actually.  Ackerman is very good in the role of Kate and is very natural with the comedy.   The episode succeeded in setting up the family dynamic very well.  When, in one of the first scenes Whitford's entire brood, exes and all, is thrust upon her in a chaotic fashion, you wonder how Kate ever considered dating him, much less marrying him.  But she did, and it works.  The chilly relationship she has with Hillary, the judgment cast down on her by Harden (deliciously cold in her role), her trying too hard to be the perfect stepmom ... it all plays out with comfortable realism.

The show does include a voice-over by Ackerman, which, in following The Goldbergs seems so overdone, but that's a small annoyance.  I like how Ackerman and Madison play off each other.  Their animosity works much better here than, say, the tense relationship established between Anna Faris' Christy and Sadie Calvano's Violet in CBS' Mom. Having had a stepmother of my own who had no interest in being any sort of a mother, I appreciate that they've made the character of Kate put in so much effort and be likeable without being fake.  She and Whitford make a nice couple, too ... good chemistry there.

BOTTOM LINE:  Award Trophy Wife a spot in your viewing lineup.

Trophy Wife airs at Tuesdays 9:30 p.m. on ABC.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Review - Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

It's here!  New TV from Joss Whedon (and brother Jed and sister-in-law Maurissa Tancharden)!  More marvelous Marvel action!  Agent Coulson lives!  In case you didn't pick up on it, I'm so excited for this new series.  Whedon has been behind some of my favorite shows, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Angel.  And The Avengers is one of the best superhero movies ever.  So anticipation for this new series for me is very high.  Did the pilot deliver?


The beloved Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg, The New Adventures of Old Christine, The West Wing), who died in last summer's blockbuster hit The Avengers, has been "resurrected" (great little story of his ... but is it the truth?  DUM DUM DUM!) and now heads up a specialized team of individuals - Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division, a.k.a S.H.I.E.L.D. - to brave the post-Battle of New York world, believing a small team of regular humans, when working together, can make just as much of a difference as those with superpowers.

Fellow S.H.I.E.L.D agents include Grant Ward (Brett Dalton, Army Wives), an expert in combat and espionage; pilot and martial artist Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen, Eureka, ER); Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker, Lip Service), a brilliant engineer; Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), genius bio-chemist; and new recruit Skye (Chloe Bennet, Nashville), a computer hacker.

I smiled right away when the opening scene showed glimpses of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and the Hulk, followed by a display of their action figures in a local store under the banner "Heroes of New York."

What followed was a whole lot of fun.  Pilots have to include exposition since you are walking into a story that you don't often know much about, but Whedon shows does expo so very well - short, succinct and engaging.  Right off the bat we are told in a briefing - with Avengers' alum Cobie Smolders - with Agent Ward what the organization is from his perspective:

"It means we're the line between the world and the much weirder world. We protect people from news they're not ready to hear, and when we can't do that, we keep them safe."

Gregg is as quietly and subtly humorous as ever, soft-spoken yet so authoritative.  There are familiar Whedon-verse alums present - Angel's J. August Richards and Firefly's Ron Glass.  Skye is a Whedon trademark character - fast-talking, quippy, sassy and quite the smart ass, and Bennet plays her well (can't help but think Eliza Dushku may have been up for the role - she and Bennet could be sisters). Fitz and Simmons - rather Fitz-Simmons - provide fast, fun silky (they're British) banter and everyone plays off each other smoothly, like they've been working together for a while.

There's a decent diversity of ages in the cast - Glass at 68, Gregg and Wen in their early 50s (though man, they don't look it, and Wen is a bad-ass!) and the others in their mid-to late 20s - and good racial representation, too.

There's a lot of cool tech (check out the bitchin' plane and command center above!), special effects and stunts featured and the show looks and feels sleek and modern without being obvious.   The soundtrack is awesome and the whole show doesn't feel like a TV show, but a mini-feature that will happen to be on TV every week.

I really liked the pilot and I think it's a very strong start to a series I know ABC is greatly counting on to be a hit.  Already it has a better chance - after all, it ain't on FOX, which previously cancelled Whedon's Firefly and Dollhouse - and with the combined pedigree of Marvel and Whedon (Yes, I'm a fan, okay?), S.H.I.E.L.D is destined to have a long and prosperous run.

And by the way: Best. Ending. Ever. (Well, one of, anyway ...).

BOTTOM LINES.H.I.E.L.D. a spot in your Tuesday night viewing for this terrific adventure series.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Review - Mom

CBS' new comedy Mom comes from creator Chuck Lorre, whose shows I've had a love-hate relationship (love The Big Bang Theory, hate Two and a Half Men). So I went into this show - which is part of a great night of current comedy with How I Met Your Mother and 2 Broke Girls (Mom's lead-in) - not knowing which way it would fall.  But I like the cast - Anna Faris, in her first TV series aside from a guest stint on Friends, and Allison Janney, a four-time Emmy winner for her role on The West Wing - so I just had to see.


Christy (Faris) is a newly single mother raising her two children.  In addition to the challenges brought on by that, she is also 118 days sober and faces many temptations and pitfalls. Testing her sobriety is her formerly estranged mother Bonnie (Janney), now back in Christy's life and eager to share passive-aggressive insights into her daughter's many mistakes.

Right off the bat, Faris, who is 37 and definitely old enough to have a teenage daughter and does so on the show (Violet, played by Sadie Calvano), still seems so youthful, so it was hard for me to accept her as such.  She just doesn't pull off "parental authority" for me. (A similar mother-daugther relationship that worked so much more realistically was that of Lorelei and Rory (Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel, respectively) on Gilmore Girls).  It's easier to by Faris being the mother of her TV son, young tyke Blake Garrett Rosenthal.

What I do buy is Faris as a woman on the edge, juggling a great deal of stress (an affair with her married boss, a sexually active daughter, an unreliable ex-husband) and emotional issues, along with the very combative relationship she has with her mother.   Faris puts her all into her character and sells the role well, her comedic timing sharp as a tack.

Janney is dry, droll delivery is terrific and she, too, brings her character very realistically to life.  She and Faris play off each other nicely, even if they don't physically look much like mother and daughter.  Their chemistry is the important thing, and they have it.  Jokes about pot and sex seemed obvious and obligatory, but it's a modern sitcom, so ... whatever.

Mom has a nice supporting cast:  French Stewart (3rd Rock From the Sun), Nathan Corddry (Harry's Law) and Matt Jones (Breaking Bad).   And I think the show is a nice fit for the net's comedy line-up (the male-centric We Are Men premieres next week).

BOTTOM LINEMom is decent enough, nothing outstanding, probably worth a second-ep viewing.

Mom airs Mondays at 9:30 p.m. on CBS.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review - Dads and Brooklyn Nine-Nine

FOX premiered two new comedies this week: one had received early critical acclaim, the other ... not so much. Let's get to it!

Co-executive produced by Seth MacFarlane, Dads stars (above, L-R) Martin Mull (Roseanne), Giovanni Ribisi (Friends), Seth Green (Family Guy, Buffy, The Vampire Slayer) and Peter Riegert (The Good Wife, The Sopranos). Pretty impressive cast with a lot of comedy experience.  So how is the show?


Green and Ribisi play Eli and Warner, two successful guys and life-long best friends who have to adjust to drastic changes caused when their politically incorrect fathers (Riegert and Mull, respectively) move in with each of them.

Co-stars Vanessa Lachey (True Beauty - she should stick to hosting ... acting is not her forte) as Warner's wife Camilla, Tonita Castro (Go On) as Eli's housekeeper Edna, and Brenda Song (New Girl, Scandal) as co-worker Veronica.

Because of conflicts on Tuesday night when Dads actually premiered, I had to wait for the re-airing on Thursday.  That gave me plenty of time to inadvertently hear a lot of comments about it.  Pretty much a pan across the board.  But I like the cast, so I reserved my own judgment.

It's not good.  Very much hit-and-run comedy.  The pilot rips right in from the jump, taking no care to introduce you to anyone or set up what's what - imagine reading a book starting with chapter three ...). I'm not saying we need a lot of exposition or hand-holding, but something!  Jokes - many incredibly un-PC - were set up, executed and often not even completed.  Example:  Eli and Warner ask Song's character Veronica, to ...please? ... a group of Chinese investors by dressing as a sexy anime schoolgirl (see above), capping it by asking her to do a very improper, stereotypical shy-girl giggle.  Better shows would give her a snappy or witty comeback.  Dads immediately cuts to the next scene. I guess they justified it by having her self-promote herself to VP and declaring she's taking the next week off ... feminism at work?

The show also referenced characters by name and tied jokes to them before even clarifying who anybody was!  Example: Eli's dad called him to talk about Warner's surprise birthday party ... but unless you'd read about the show ahead of time, you probably didn't know which actor was Warner... up to that point he'd been referred to as "honey" or "son".

Then there's just the plain, bad, obvious comedy:  Castro's heavily stereotyped Hispanic Edna; a related joke of Riegert's character referring to the Filipino Lachey as the maid; eye rolls, over-the-top reactions ... bad, just so bad. A shame, too ... they do have a great cast.  Ribisi especially has nothing to do here, playing the uptight, anal guy - in no way a showcase for his terrific character ability.  And Green is pretty much doing his Scott Evil character from the Austin Powers movies, so no new ground there.

BOTTOM LINE Dads is a dud.

Dads airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on FOX.

The net's other new comedy of Tuesday night is Brooklyn Nine-Nine, starring Andy Samberg (Saturday Night Live) and Andre Braugher (Men of a Certain Age, Homicide: Life on the Street), a pseudo-workplace comedy series - here, a police precinct (hey, remember Barney Miller?) - from writers/producers Dan Goor and Michael Schur (Parks and Recreation).


Samberg plays Jake Peralta, a detective whose unmatched arrest record has afforded him the luxury of never having to work too hard or follow the rules too closely. That all changes when the precinct gets its new commanding officer, Captain Ray Holt (Braugher), a man who lives for rules and regulations.

Co-stars Melissa Fumero (One Life to Live, Gossip Girl), Terry Crews (Everbody Hates Chris), Joe Lo Truglio (Burning Love), Stephanie Beatriz (Modern Family) and Chelsea Peretti (Parks and Recreation).

This show got a great deal of positive chatter before it's premiere, landing on many critics' top new shows list.  I was skeptical, since I am not really a fan of similar single-camera sitcoms of this type (The Office, Parks and Recreation) and this has that look without the documentary-style commentary, but I immensely enjoy Braugher in this role.  His delivery, so dry and straight ... his tone stays the same even when he's being sarcastic - a nice touch.  His character is gay, and I appreciate that he is not working in any of the usual go-to traits.  I loved him on TNT's Men of a Certain Age (which was cancelled so before its time) and never saw him in Homicide, but to see him in a comedy is a nice change.

Braugher's portrayal plays very well against Samberg's snarky, man-child antics.  I think without it, Samberg's character could grate on you quickly.  The supporting cast helps lessen its impact, making for a nice balance of personalities.

I liked the show and am willing to watch it more (after ABC's Marvel's Agents of SH.I.E.L.D., of course, its direct competition in the 8 p.m. hour).  This single-camera, no laugh track sitcom is a very hot trend right now (others include Suburgatory, Modern Family, The Middle and new shows Trophy Wife and Super Fun Night) and I think this one has a future.

BOTTOM LINE:  Not completely arresting for me, but likeable enough to continue watching.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine airs Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. on FOX.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Review - Sleepy Hollow

It's here, TV Tourists!  My first review of the new Fall Season!  Here we go!

I've never been drawn to the legend of Sleepy Hollow, I wasn't a fan of the Johnny Depp movie and I didn't plan on making watching this pilot a priority, especially since I can't commit to it - it will soon go against How I Met Your Mother, which I've watched from day one and is heading into its final season, and Dancing With the Stars, which I don't normally watch but is boasting a pretty decent cast this season, with Valerie Harper, Elizabeth Berkley, Jack Osbourne and Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi.

Then I found out the force behind the series: executive producers (and co-creators) Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, the duo behind the reboots of Star Trek on the big screen and Hawaii Five-0 on the small, as well as past shows Alias and Fringe - all of which I love with a passion.  So I knew I had to give this pilot a look.


(L-R: Katia Winter, Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, Orlando Jones)

This mystery-adventure drama brings Washington Irving's classic into the modern era as Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) is resurrected 250 years after his death, awakening in 2013's Sleepy Hollow, a town now completely foreign to him.  He ain't alone ... seems his legendary foe, the Headless Horseman, has also been resurrected and somewhat promoted from the original story:  he's now one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  Crane, along with new partner, Lieutenant Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie, The Good Wife), now have to protect the town - and the world - from this formidable enemy (and others, too).

Co-starring in the show are Katia Winter (Dexter) as Cranes wife Katrina and Orlando Jones (Tainted Love, MADTV) as Mills' police captain Frank Irving.  Notable guest stars include John Cho (Star Trek) and Clancy Brown (Earth 2).

The show has chosen to make Ichabod Crane a soldier during the Revolutionary War instead of the schoolteacher he was in the original story.  An interesting choice, as it allots the character to be more adept at action and fighting.  FOX certainly likes its mystery-solving duos (X-Files, Bones, Fringe, Alcatraz) and I do like Mison in the lead.  He's dashing, snarky and pretty good with sarcasm ... given that's he's from 1776 (were they very sarcastic back then?).  Beharie, in the cynic's role here (re: Scully to Mulder), is fairly likeable and the pair antagonize each other well and humorously enough (though they ain't no McGarrett and Danno (H50) or Castle and Beckett (Castle)).

The pilot, which included some fairly cool camera angles and stylized flashbacks, had a decent, go-for-shock sequence early on (plus a very wicked shot of the Horseman), but after CBS' Under the Dome's kick-off episode, which shocked me in a way that hasn't happened in a long time, other shows have big shoes to fill when offering jaw-dropping, holy s**t moments.

Old Headless is awesome and quite the bad-ass, wielding a mother of an axe - as well as a shotgun - and letting plenty of heads fly.  His only weakness so far seems to be daylight.  I've no doubt he and Crane will have spectacular confrontations as the series goes on

Will Sleepy Hollow fill the void for those of us missing the brilliant Fringe, which departed the FOX airwaves last May?  There's definitely a supernatural element here - and witchcraft, which fits into the hot trend of the season (Witches of East End, American Horror Story: Coven, The Originals), and I'm always for that.  Like the twisted humor, too (upon confronting the Horseman, a deputy asks simply "think he can hear us?").  The pace picked up and drew me in more as the episode went on and ended with a good fight and an exciting preview of episodes to come, so I'll have to see if I can make the effort to watch it later online - which I hate doing - to keep up.

Ultimately I see decent potential here, though the current TV season is saturated with quite a lot of this type of genre show old and new (Supernatural (AWESOME), Grimm (never seen), The Originals (I like The Vampire Diaries, so ...) AHS: Coven (in the past has been sick, twisted fun), Once Upon a Time (I like)).

BOTTOM LINE:  "Head" online now to catch the pilot and judge for yourself.

Sleepy Hollow airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

New Fall Shows on My Radar

The new fall season is upon us!  In just a couple of weeks the networks will be rolling out many new shows.  Some will succeed, many will fail ... it's just the way of it.

As always, I am going to do my best to watch all of the pilots, but admittedly there aren't too many that I can say I'm truly excited for.  I am more anticipating the return of my favorite shows.  But there are a few shows that I am looking forward to somewhat:

Okay, REALLY looking forward to this one.  C'mon, it's JOSS WHEDON!  It's connected to The Avengers!  Did I mention it's from Joss Whedon (though he's only producing, not running day-to-day ... bummer)?  ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is sure to be a wild ride.  Granted, the last TV show from the genre god, Dollhouse, I didn't love.  But some of my all-time favorite series have come from him, including Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.  And of course, that was that little superhero movie that kicked ass!  Clark Gregg is so great as Agent Coulson and I'm dying to see how he is resurrected in the new show, which will focus on the human - a.k.a. superpowerless - agents of Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division (yeah, that's why it's called S.H.I.E.L.D.).  Not to mention it's going to make my Tuesday nights even better - Supernatural is on at 9 p.m.  Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premieres Sept. 24 at 8 p.m.


Speaking of Buffy, The Crazy Ones is a new comedy on CBS. I'm always curious to see a return of Sarah Michelle Gellar (she played Buffy).  I actually enjoyed Ringer and would have watched a second season.  I am very curious to see how (and if) she'll hold her own against Robin Williams.  Let's face it:  he's an attention-hogger.  This is his first TV series since Mork and Mindy, which went off the air in 1982.  Pam Dawber did what she could opposite him, but let's be honest ... it was a vehicle strictly for his manic but brilliant talent.  A fourth camera was actually needed on that set just to remain solely on him to capture anything and everything he might do.  He's of course older now, more seasoned, but from the few previews I've seen, he is not immune to riffing.  And I wonder how Gellar, who does not have a background in improv (that I know of), will fair.  I was also surprised to learn this is only a half-hour show, technically making it a sitcom.  I also wonder what it was about this show that coaxed Williams back to the small screen after over 30 years.  Granted, movie stars are all over TV these days.  So is it scheduling, money, or the actual material?  We'll have to see.  The Crazy Ones premieres Sept. 26 at 9:30 p.m


Another CBS show that is getting a lot of buzz is Hostages, starring Dylan McDermott (American Horror Story) and Toni Collette (The United States of Tara).  It looks like it's going to be a very tense psychological thriller with plenty of action and edge-of-your-seat moments.  Not sure how a show with this premise can go on beyond a single season (new hostages each season?  revolvong cast?).  I'm also hesitant to get sucked in to a series like this.  A few years ago ABC had a show called The Nine, about a bank robbery that, over the course of the season, would cover the time spent in the siege by - ironically - nine hostages.  The show was cancelled after only a handful of episodes aired, leaving viewers completely hanging, never knowing how the crisis was resolved.  It's not like this doesn't happen on SO many other cancelled shows.  But this particular kind of drama warrants big commitment, and I'm not entirely sure what I'll do.  But the pilot episode may change my mind.  Hostages premieres Sept. 23 at 10 p.m.

Here's another sitcom that is getting a lot of great buzz:  FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine.  Not the catchiest title.  Not the biggest Andy Samberg fan, though I did often enjoy his Saturday Night Live video shorts.  What I am looking forward to most is seeing Andre Braugher do comedy.  Supposedly he completely dead-pans the funny, but look at him ... it's destined to be hilarious!  Is this poised to be the new Barney Miller (yes, a show from the '70s, but it was about humor within a police station, hence my reference.)? That show was highly acclaimed, so we'll see. Brooklyn Nine-Nine premieres Sept. 17 at 8:30 p.m.

Short Bites:

Witches rule!  American Horror Story: Coven (FX, Oct. 9), Witches of East End (Lifetime, Oct. 6), The Originals (CW, Oct. 3).

We have Revenge and we have Scandal ... do we really need Betrayal? (ABC Sundays starting Sept. 29 at 10 p.m.)

I like Once Upon a Time but not really feeling the need for a spin-off so soon, but feel free to check out Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (ABC Thursdays at 8 p.m. starting Oct. 10).

Couple of new horror shows that may be hit or miss for me (never did take to Grimm):  Dracula (NBC Fridays at 10 p.m. starting Oct. 25) and Sleepy Hollow (FOX Mondays at 9 p.m. starting Sept. 16).

Congrats on the return of Michael J. Fox!  May he take down the truly awful Two and a Half Men once and for all.  The Michael J. Fox Show on NBC Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. starting Sept. 26.

The parents have it?  There's Dads (with the eternally-youthful Seth Green) Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on FOX starting Sept. 17, and Mom (starring equally eternally-youthful Anna Faris) on CBS Mondays at 9:30 starting Sept. 23.

Keep checking back for all my coverage of the new and returning shows this fall!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Bingeworthy Show - Orphan Black

Though summer is quickly dwindling, there's still time for a good binge, and this show is very worthy of a day's viewing.

I had heard so many great things about this show - another BBC America winner, along with Doctor Who, Sherlock and Broadchurch - both from critics and by word of mouth, and its incredibly talented star, relative unknown Tatiana Maslany, and my verdict is in:  this is a gripping, addictive, well-made program.

THE LOWDOWN (minor spoilers)

Sarah Manning (Maslany) - orphan, hustler, single mother - clone?  Always an outsider, Sarah's life drastically changes after she witnesses the suicide of a woman, Beth Childs, who looks just like her. Exactly like her, actually.  Seeing an opportunity to start a new life and reunite with the daughter she left behind months earlier, Sarah assumes her doppelganger's identity (she was a police detective), her bank account and her relationship with boyfriend Paul (Dylan Bruce, As the World Turns).

But instead of solving her problems, she is thrust into an impossible mystery. She makes the dizzying discovery that she and the dead woman are clones .. and not the only ones. Sarah quickly finds herself caught in the middle of a deadly conspiracy and must race to find answers about who she is and how many others there are just like her.

Co-stars Jordan Gavaris (Degrassi) as Sarah's foster brother Felix; Kevin Hanchard (Suits), as Detective Art Bell, Beth's partner on the force;  Maria Doyle Kennedy (Downton Abbey) as Mrs. S, Sarah and Felix's foster mother; and Skylar Wexler, Sarah's precocious seven-year-old daughter.

The rest of the cast consists primarily of Maslany - the chameleon actress to date portrays/has portrayed six different characters - above, L-R Sarah, Helena, Alison, Cosima, Beth - with at least three more to come.  Each "clone" has their own personalities, quirks, and voices ... different accents included. For example, Maslany is Canadian and so is the Beth character, but Sarah is British, so as Sarah, Maslany has to speak with a Canadian accent and subtly sound like someone who is faking an accent well enough to be believable to those around her - I know, it's mind-boggling.

Maslany adeptly brings each woman to life and easily makes viewers distinguish between them, clothing and hairstyles notwithstanding.  To watch her act in scenes opposite herself - or multiple versions of herself - is masterful.  She thoroughly makes you believe these are all different women ... she's just so good.

I easily made it through season one's 10 episodes in a day, as the pacing and storylines move along at a terrific pace.  There's a lot going on, but you never get lost in it.  There is a great supporting cast and you can't wait to see what happens next.  A particularly fantastic episode is "Variations Under Domestication," where there are so many "Gonna get caught! gonna get caught!" moments, you are on the edge of your seat the whole time.

There is plenty of action, great twists, a compelling conspiracy and a season finale to leave you craving so much more.  We have to wait till 2014 (gorammit) for season two, but it will SO be worth the wait.

Bottom Line:  Adopt this Orphan immediately!

BBC America will air all ten episodes of Orphan Black starting September 14.  Season One is also available through Amazon Instant Video and on DVD.