Two and a Half Men
This being such an epic week in the TV business, with the majority of new and returning shows premiering in the kickoff to the official TV season, I'm adjusting my "guide to the week" format all week to focus separately on each night as a whole: analyzing the programming strategies and showdowns while previewing the pilots and season openers I've seen in advance.
Monday in a Nutshell: ABC and CBS should continue to dominate. Dancing With the Stars has once again cast a buzz-worthy group — though some are wondering if they've overstepped and alienated their more mainstream fans with lightning-rod contestants like Chaz Bono and Nancy Grace. (Get over it, folks. It's a dancing show, all for fun.) And Castle makes for a fine nightcap. CBS' popular comedy lineup includes one new winner (Two Broke Girls) and one show in transition (Two and a Half Men) that's more talked about than almost any new fall series, while Hawaii Five-0 more than holds its own. Fox is shaking things up with its big-budget fantasy spectacular Terra Nova (which bows next week), which should open big at the very least. We'll see if its family-friendly tone attracts a broader-than-cult following. A Cuddy-free House (premiering Oct. 3) may be on its ...
The Emmys are the big draw this weekend — my predictions (a combination wish list/analysis) can be found here — but here's a look at some of the other TV this weekend that stands out.
Thomas Dekker, Britt Robertson
Just because a show makes good programming sense doesn't make it a good program. This week's case in point: the CW's dreary and laughably derivative teenage witch-centric The Secret Circle, designed as an overly compatible companion piece to The Vampire Diaries (inspired by a series of books from the same author of the Diaries best-sellers) and produced by the same brain trust led by Kevin Williamson. It's basically the same show, only substituting witches for vamps and lacking (at least initially) the sense of humor and pacing that makes Vampire such a treat most weeks.
You'd think while they were busy cloning, they could ...
Jon Hamm, Aaron Staton and Elisabeth Moss
It's always anyone's guess which shows and stars will reign at the Emmy Awards (airing Sunday on Fox, 8/7c). Repeat winners are all too common, but longtime also-rans can triumph at any time. Here's a look at the most likely scenarios — and our druthers — in some of the top categories, when appropriate factoring in the episodes the stars submitted....
In this year's mixed bag of a new fall season, I tend to find myself touting several of the comedies more frequently than almost any of the dramas, which is rarely the case. There are plenty of sitcom stinkers this fall — one of tonight's, actually, is at the very bottom of my must-flee (as opposed to must-see) list. But with New Girl, 2 Broke Girls, Suburgatory and (tonight's pick) Up All Night, there's reason to believe that network comedy's renaissance — reflected in the fact that all six of this year's best-comedy Emmy nominees are network shows — may be here ...
Michael J. Fox, Larry David
TV at its most extreme — HBO would have it no other way as it bid farewell to its Sunday summer tentpoles this weekend. Here's my take on each of them:
Extremely Bloody: That would be True Blood, which as usual wrapped its season with an orgy of extremely silly excess. The body (and bawdy) count was high as the episode reached more climaxes than the final reel of the last Lord of the Rings movie. When and how would it ever end? In a bloody mess, that's how. But I've loved most of this season ...
Sasha Alexander and Angie Harmon
It's not quite time to say goodbye for good to TNT's signature hit The Closer, which will return in November with new episodes, then finish out its run with a batch of episodes next summer. Tonight's "summer finale" (9/8c) is a potentially pivotal one, as Brenda awaits a judge's decision about whether to drop the charges in the civil suit that has been hanging over her and the department all season. The shooting death of a deputy sheriff provides some distraction. ... The popular, but by comparison ...
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Question: I was wondering what you thought of the civil suit arc on The Closer this season. It's an interesting juxtaposition of morality on the one hand, and rooting for the characters on the other. It also shows all the different shades of grey in the law. If I heard about an incident in real life where police just dropped off someone in a neighborhood when they thought s/he would be killed, I'd be appalled. Yet I understand these characters' motives in this case, like all of them, and want to be on their side. The part of this arc I do love is Mark Pellegrino as Brenda's lawyer Gavin. I love the character and the nuances Pellegrino brings to playing him. Having only seen Pellegrino previously on Lost, and noting how different Gavin is from Jacob, I really appreciate what a fine actor he is. He deserves his own show. Unlike most of the other lawyer shows in recent years on TNT or USA, which I've skipped, I'd definitely watch a show centered around this ...
Most everyone remembers where they were 10 years ago on September 11, as we watched the horrific images and stories unfold. A decade later, many will gather in front of the TV again to watch, remember, reflect — and the broadcast and cable networks are offering a wide range of specials to put the tragedy in perspective.
But there's plenty else happening on TV this weekend. Here's my take on some of the more notable highlights, including the major 9/11 programming:
Few things are more satisfying than watching a great episode of TV with an appreciative audience. Such was the case Wednesday night when FX screened the Rescue Me finale (my second viewing, but my first on the big screen) at New York's grand Ziegfeld Theater, a benefit for Denis Leary's Firefighters Foundation. Fittingly, a number of NYFD's finest were in the crowd, laughing at all the right places and cheering at many others (and maintaining a respectful silence when things got serious, which never lasted for very long).
It was a triumphant end to one of cable's most distinctive (if sometimes maddening) series, a well-timed tribute to ...