Julianna Margulies, Matt Czuchry
Just about the best news I heard all week: CBS's renewal of the splendid The Good Wife for a sixth season, among a ton of other pick-ups. If the month or more of special-Sunday distractions (Super Bowl, Olympics, Oscars) caused you to drift away, now's a great time for "Opting Back In." Which happens to be the name of a keynote speech Alicia (Julianna Margulies) is nervously preparing for the annual American Bar Association powwow in New York City — an occasion allowing for a terrific running gag involving new Mayor Bill De Blasio (Sunday, 9/8c).
Zane Holtz and D.J. Cotrona
With Cinemax's grungy cult hit Banshee preparing to close shop for its second season this Friday, fans of grindhouse pulp may want to go searching for the fledgling cable El Rey Network, where a 10-episode series version of the 1996 crime-horror hybrid From Dusk Till Dawn begins wreaking bloody mischief.
Robert Rodriguez, who founded El Rey, returns to his breakout genre roots, directing and writing the stylized pilot episode of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series (Tuesday, 9/8c), which reintroduces the bank-robbing Gecko brothers: the suave Seth (D.J. Cotrona) and psycho loose-cannon Richie (Zane Holtz), who's beset by monstrous visions during a routine stop in a dusty roadside liquor store in Texas, setting off a chain of violent events that will eventually include a run-in with vampires.
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Question: There have been quite a few resurrections from the TV graveyard as of late and I must say I love it, way more than Hollywood's obsession of making a sequel out of everything as well as making too-soon remakes. Firefly and Veronica Mars both have movie continuations, Dallas and Boy Meets World have spawned new series chronicling the next generation (I know you're not too big a fan of the new Dallas, but I have to say I welcome the return of Judith Light to the series), Netflix brought back Arrested Development for a fourth season, and Heroes is coming out with Heroes: Reborn next year. So I'm wondering what are your thoughts on this phenomenon, and are there any shows that you feel should be next in this craze.
Johnny Sequoyah, Delroy Lindo
It's hard not to want to believe in talents like Alfonso Cuaron (of the amazing Gravity) and J.J. Abrams (no TV explanation necessary). These two very busy visionaries lend their names, and Cuaron his directing chops (in the pilot episode, anyway), for NBC's otherwise painfully derivative Believe (Monday, 10/9c), which plays like one of those middling Stephen King melodramas about supernaturally gifted children on the run for their lives.
Cuaron elevates the stock clichés with visual motifs of a butterfly providing mystical guidance and a dizzying flock of pigeons (my idea of a living nightmare) subduing a Big Bad Female Assassin in a loft. It's a handsome looking pilot, even at its most predictably familiar. And as Bo, the spunky little girl whose psychic and paranormal gifts seem to have no end — or, maddeningly, definition — Johnny Sequoyah is agreeable company, never too cute even when the script calls for Bo to be cloyingly precious. Because believe it or not, Believe feels it necessary to squelch the chase-thriller elements with schmaltzy subplots reminiscent of Fox's short-lived Touch. Bo knows goodness, and in between close calls as she eludes her well-funded potential kidnappers, she somehow finds time to inspire a young doctor to get past his crisis of confidence.
Just try telling Carrie Watts that you can't go home again. This elderly Texan, determined to make her way back to a town that time and everyone but she has forgot, bristles with restless gumption, fueled by an indomitable spirit that erupts in hymns she can't stop humming — or singing, as in a memorable scene set in a deserted bus station after midnight.
On Broadway, where Cicely Tyson won a Tony Award last year for her luminous performance as Carrie in a revival of The Trip to Bountiful, audiences often joined in as she sang "Blessed Assurance" in the play's rapturous high point. And for a moment, in Lifetime's languid movie adaptation (Saturday, 8/7c), you might find your own living room transformed into a choir loft.
Michael Mosley, Kevin Bigley, Kevin Daniels
Sound the alarm. Someone has a bad case of FX envy — and it isn't pretty. The smarmy and sophomoric Sirens, about three obnoxious Chicago paramedics, is USA Network's awkward attempt to branch out into the bawdy world of dark adult comedy (Thursday, 10/9). Confusing tastelessness and cheap profanity with actual humor, this misfire from executive producer Denis Leary feels like a series of limp outtakes from the more daring Rescue Me.
Max Thieriot, Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore
A&E certainly has an eye for talent, with the brooding Chloë Sevigny joining the electrifying Vera Farmiga in back-to-back Monday psycho- (or Psycho) dramas. Unfortunately, the former Big Love scene-stealer is not nearly as well served by the unpleasant formula dreariness of Those Who Kill (10/9c), an adaptation of a Danish series that takes a by-the-numbers approach to some truly ghastly serial-killer action.
Question: When dealing with shows like House of Cards (in which an entire season is available at one time), what's your opinion on how spoilers should be discussed? Is every episode fair to be talked about as soon as the season comes out? Should no spoilers be talked about for, say, a week and then every episode is fair game? Or would you treat it more like a traditional series and discuss only one episode at a time? On the receiving end, do you just avoid all spoilers until you've finished watching the entire season? I'm mainly asking this because I'm only up to episode 6 of the new season of House of Cards and am avoiding any article with a spoiler alert, because I don't know just which episodes they may be spoiling. (Thankfully, so far the biggest spoiler I could have had ruined was a very shocking moment in the first episode. I don't gasp very often at a TV show, but I did then.) — Scott
Good to know I'm not the only one who needs pizza to make it through a long night at the Oscars.
With Ellen DeGeneres serving up laughs along with slices, disarming the starry crowd with stunts like a pizza delivery for the starving captive audience and a Superstar Selfie that temporarily broke Twitter (and during the taking of which Meryl Streep delightfully blurted, "I've never tweeted before!"), even the Oscars' inevitable dull patches felt less painful than usual.
Laurence Fishburne, Mads Mikkelsen
"I never feel guilty eating anything," purrs Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) as he serves up another portion of some erotically charged exotic delicacy. NBC's Hannibal (Friday, 10/9c), in its second season, is a feast of macabre freakishness, going beyond the realm of guilty pleasure in a sustained nightmare of horrific yet elegantly hypnotic design.