Ruh-roh! A resounding Scooby "Boo" to the annoying live-action film version of Scooby-Doo, which corrupts the tone of the original silly cartoon-many a boomer's first remembered guilty pleasure-by transforming it into an overproduced, underwritten, vulgar bore. The audience of mostly preteens at the showing I attended only perked up during a belching and flatulence contest between the (poorly) computer-generated Scooby and Matthew Lillard's Shaggy, who's twice as animated as the dog. Sarah Michelle Gellar looks the part of diva Daphne, but she's much better off with her Buffy "Scooby gang" on TV.
"It may look like a comic book, but it says something important about gay people." Dream on.
In the season finale of Showtime's Queer as Folk, professor Ben (Robert Gant) praises a gay superhero comic cowritten by boyfriend Michael (Hal Sparks), in the process revealing the show's greatest flaw. Queer thinks it's important, but it's now just a laughable sex cartoon, the worst kind of soap opera.
Once, the series at least pretended to exist in a real world. But that was before Ted (Scott Lowell) left accounting to run a porn Web site, turning his best pal, Emmett (Peter Paige), into an unlikely superstar.
Emmett caught the fancy of an elderly pickle magnate, who left him a fortune after expiring while they made whoopee in an airplane bathroom. Emmett, however, gave up the money rather than deny their relationship. When the show isn't being trashy, it's preposterousl
This summer, the line between network and cable TV is getting fuzzier than usual, thanks to the latest off-season boom in "reality" programming. Are you watching NBC or Court TV? ABC or TLC? Fox or E!? Who knows or (I suppose) cares?
You can't blame the major networks for scheduling something other than wall-to-wall reruns, which often send viewers scrambling to cable.
But I'm left queasy by the new trend of repackaging real-life courtroom cases and medical traumas into quasidocumentary entertainment, reflecting the cheesier aspects of the ubiquitous newsmagazine.
The slickest of these series, Crime & Punishment (NBC, Sundays, 10 P.M./ET), adapts Dick Wolf's now-classic Law & Order formula-complete with those "chink-chink" scene setters-into a glossy valentine to the San Diego district attorney's office. We watch young prosecutors debate strat
Watching Showtime's new drama Street Time (Sundays, 10 pm/ET), a bleak, rather dreary look inside the federal parole system, you can sense the network's aching desperation to score a gritty word-of-mouth hit like rival HBO's The Sopranos or even Oz.
Better luck next time. I watched the first three episodes of Street Time during what amounted to a mini crime wave of programming, and it paled in comparison to the last few hours of FX's bolder, more entertaining The Shield.
What both of these shows share is a toughness of spirit, an unwillingness to provide easy solutions to society's criminal ills.
Street Time is good at conveying the quiet terror and dislocation of new parolee Kevin Hunter (Northern Exposure's
Given how competitive Tuesday nights were last season, you'd think the networks would give us a chance over the summer to catch up on programs that some of us might have only heard about especially with a sleeper like Fox's 24 but also with unexpectedly resurgent series like ABC's NYPD Blue. Because so many dramas repeat poorly, particularly those with serialized stories, the networks have shelved them for now (not even cable's FX, which aired a second run of 24 during the season, plans to rebroadcast the show). But isn't it worse for these shows to lose momentum by disappearing for three or four months?
His name sells books, films and miniseries, so why not a Stephen King series? Or, given TV's copycat nature, why not several?
Sure enough, here's USA Network's The Dead Zone (Sundays, 10 P.M./ET). Sci Fi Channel plans a show based on its Firestarter: Rekindled miniseries. And NBC is remaking Carrie as a three-hour TV movie that could also become a series.
Judging from the first two Dead Zone episodes, an ingenious King premise is not enough to sustain suspenseful intensity on a weekly basis. This disappointingly routine series, starring an affable Anthony Michael Hall (Sixteen Candles), lacks the haunting fatalism of
I've received several recent queries from readers about the fate of some reality-TV participants whose low-rated shows were canceled midstream: the campers of WB's No Boundaries and CBS's gung-ho American Fighter Pilots. Unlike when a fictional series is jettisoned, the failure of a reality show seems to leave fans unsettled, wondering about outcomes involving actual people. So how thoughtful of ABC to revive The Mole II: The Next Betrayal for a summer run (Tuesdays at 8 pm/ET), following a brief fall underexposure on Fridays one of the network's many bungles. At last, those who care can see how it turned out.
Hope dies hard. So I was reminded as I walked past protesters gathered on a Manhattan street outside ABC's recent fall-season presentation to advertisers. Their demand: for Once and Again, the much-loved but little-watched romantic family drama, to return.
Bless their frustrated hearts. Surely they knew that ship sailed (or, rather, sunk) months ago, a victim of ABC's neglect and abuse. Judging from clips of new series screened by the networks, little on the horizon will fill the emotional void. I'm willing to be surprised, but not counting on it.
The focus for fall will be on retro, schmaltzy family warm-fuzzies and high-concept crime or medical dramas. A few gems may yet emerge from this ordinary-looking pile. We can always (gulp) hope.
But first, a survey of the year's ups and downs as the cycle of TV seasons claims fresh victims and shuffles the deck for the survivors.
Rest in peace,
Simply put, The Wire is the most intriguing and filling dramatic appetizer HBO has yet provided during our long national fast as we hunger for new episodes of The Sopranos.
This 13-episode series (Sundays, 10 pm/ET) returns us to the grim realities of writer-producer David Simon's Baltimore.
It plays like a complex mix of Homicide: Life on the Street (inspired by Simon's reporting) and his HBO miniseries The Corner, which also used the dehumanizing drug trade as a source for searing drama.
The Wire is engrossing and unpredictable after three hours, I have no idea how or even whether this politically charged investigation into a drug kingpin's operations will achieve its aims. Refreshingly adult and richly layered, it's free of the smug archness that typifies HBO's overrated (though brilliantly acted)
Since few outside New York City care whether Thoroughly Modern Millie or Urinetown will win the Tony for best musical in a lackluster Broadway season, wouldn't it make more sense for this consistently classy but low-rated prizefest (PBS, June 2, 8 pm/ET; CBS, 9 pm/ET) to underplay the awards say, issuing most of them on PBS and instead concentrate on presenting a great show? How fitting if the broadcast were to be devoted to a nightlong celebration of Richard Rodgers's centennial (his Oklahoma! is currently on Broadway). Wouldn't that result in the sort of valentine to the theater that the Tony Awards are supposed to represent?