The soundtrack for the last week in TV — and virtually every other medium — was provided by the late and lavishly lamented Whitney Houston. Her sudden, untimely death on the eve of the Grammys helped boost that annual spectacular to its highest ratings since the peak of the Thriller furor (a statistic reminding us of the equally resounding loss of Michael Jackson in 2009). LL Cool J, the Grammys' engaging host, opened the show with a prayer — when's the last time that happened? — as the proceedings took on the feel of a celebration and memorial, when they weren't busy crowning Adele the new Queen of Pop. (And how much fun was she on 60 Minutes?)
Art Velez and JJ Carrell
Where would TV be without The Simpsons? Thankfully, it will still be a while before we'll ever have to find out. With no end in sight, Fox's landmark animated hit celebrates "the most meaningless milestone of all!" — their words — with Sunday's 500th episode (8/7c), a remarkable run by anyone's measure. Even if you've been taking this show for granted the last few years, or possibly decade, you don't want to miss — though you might want to record — the dazzling opening sequence, a kaleidoscopic montage showing the Simpsons' evolution from no-def to Hi-Def, with more couch gags than the eye and brain can process.
Awake, which premieres March 1 on NBC (10/9c), is the sort of show I would happily lose sleep over. Hauntingly, daringly original, a psychological mystery that teases the mind while tugging the heart, this brave new series is so unconventional it feels like a dream. It's the sort of bold experiment you only find on a network that has no choice but to take risks.
The show opens on a nightmare: a terrible car accident with Detective Michael Britten (Harry Potter vet Jason Isaacs) behind the wheel of the family car. In the aftermath, Michael finds himself caught between two realities: one in which his...
Courtney Cox, Josh Hopkins
Now here's about the nicest Valentine's Day present anyone could hope for: the long-awaited return of Cougar Town, a show that's so much fun to love, you can't help but wonder if ABC kept it off the air so long just to make our hearts grow fonder.
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Question: I watched the first episode of Smash this week and I enjoyed it. I like the cast, the music and the dancing, and the overall "Broadway" feel of the show. I just can't find myself going along with what is apparently the central idea of the show, which is that Katharine McPhee would make a better Marilyn than Megan Hilty. Really? Don't get me wrong, I love ...
Let's start this week's roundup by blowing some Valentine's kisses to ABC's Wednesday night lineup. No tongue, and not on the mouth, because that would be rude! But also very funny, as evidenced on the night's standout comedies The Middle and Modern Family, in which Sue Heck freaks when her wrestler boyfriend Matt gets "international" with his tongue-wrestling and Claire Dunphy is seriously skeeved out by Greg Kinnear (a hoot as Phil's wealthy new client) as he plants kisses right on her mouth, while shirking an oblivious Phil's hugs. Turns out he kisses ...
Andrew Lincoln and Scott Wilson
"Ain't nobody's hands clean in what's left of this world." We probably don't need a new interloper (Terriers' terrific Michael Raymond-James) to deliver this message to the shell-shocked survivors of AMC's The Walking Dead, which resumes its second season (Sunday, 10/9c) in the immediate aftermath of the massacre of the barn zombies, which ended the fall run on a shattering note.
One of the better things about a good episode of NBC's stalwart Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is that you can rarely tell where it's headed. Is tonight's cameo-heavy hour (10/9c) the latest condemnation of reality TV's sordid excesses? Sure looks that way at the start, as we encounter an especially slimy Michael McKean (relishing his repulsiveness) as the predatory producer of a crap-tastic train wreck titled Showgirls, featuring young hopefuls who would do "whatever it takes" to land the starring role in a Broadway musical. (No small irony this is airing the week of the all-important-to-NBC Smash premiere, where such things could never happen!) As he liquors up a nervous contestant for her "audition," he leers for her to "seduce the audience. Let them know you want this." Doesn't take a genius to know where this is going.
If the notion of getting "Lost in the Amazon" and finding yourself in a weekly horror movie has any appeal, then by all means set your compass for ABC's The River, the most exciting thing to happen to TV's midseason since, well, Monday's premiere of Smash on NBC. If Smash is a show-stopper, The River is a terrifying heart-stopper, a cleverly cinematic supernatural adventure that takes us on a wild ride into an exotic heart of darkness. (It opens with back-to-back episodes Tuesday at 9/8c, and the second hour is even scarier than the first.)
Josh Dallas, Ginnifer Goodwin
Question: I've been watching Once Upon A Time from the beginning, and I thought by now, we'd start to see some real movement towards the present-day fairy-tale folks realizing that something was amiss. But it seems to be dragging and dragging, and while the "fairy tale" portions are fun to watch, there's nothing there that gives one hope that finally, someone other than Henry knows something's amiss. It's getting boring. Any tidbits as to when that ...