Idina Menzel, Lea Michele
WHEN YOU'RE A GLEEK: (Apologies to the "Jet Song," as we prepare our audition for West Side Story — or in Kurt and Blaine's case, West Hollywood Side Story?) The best way to enjoy Glee these days is to accept and even when possible to embrace its imperfections. Kind of like the way the characters get past their own perceived shortcomings and insecurities to embrace their inner star. (Just watch Mercedes blossom this week into full-blown diva mode, for better and inevitably for worse. It's pretty thrilling.) You can tell, from last week's and especially this week's impressive "Asian F" episode (Fox, 8/7c), that Glee is trying awfully hard to improve from the mess of last season. The music is better integrated into story, the story is better integrated into character, and sometimes the characters even make sense.
Question: In previous years I followed CBS shows Shark and The Unit to their new time on Sunday evenings that ended up to be their last season. Because of the preceding football game, one never knows when a certain program will start, with delays that can last as long as an hour. This, of course, prevents one from switching to another network for a later program. Since we still have a video tape recorder that automatically fast-forwards over commercials (most of them), I would end up taping those shows, with an extra margin of half an hour. I don't know whether a TiVo type recorder can even adjust to such delays. It appears that The Good Wife will follow the same pattern. Perhaps this time I will watch it online, or On Demand. But I have to wonder how much this new time slot will affect its viewership (in addition to the new direction and hair style). — Hanna
Matt Roush: This is a perennial problem for viewers in the time zones where football overruns impact the start of CBS' prime-time lineup. (Rule of thumb: If you're not watching live, set the ...
Happy Early Halloween: Turner Classic Movies launches a month-long series of Monday night horror marathons with the special A Night at the Movies: The Horrors of Stephen King (8/7c), an enjoyable survey of the genre by one who knows. "Terror is something that lives in the head whereas the reaction we have to horror is ... visceral," the prolific author explains during a discussion of The Exorcist, one of many seminal movies featured here, including the original Cat People, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Night of the Living Dead and, of course, Halloween. Bela Lugosi's Dracula, however, never impressed the King: "To me, he looked like some kind of wacked-out concert pianist." Tonight's lineup of spooky classics includes the original 1931 Frankenstein and the notorious Freaks, plus in the wee hours the silent masterpieces Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu and Lon Chaney's Phantom of the Opera.
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Jail-House Rock: The eighth season of Fox's House (9/8c) begins with the imprisoned doctor imparting a little jailhouse wisdom: "Me and humanity, we got together too young." Sadly, House is showing its age, and watching the professional grouch alienate a new branch of a ...
Tonight's Top Pick: When worlds collide, Fox's cult gem Fringe (9/8c) is at the top of its game. You've never seen a murder-mystery manhunt like tonight's chilling and provocative episode, in which the Fringe team from the "other" world enlists "our" Olivia to cross over to track down a serial killer in the alt-universe — by bringing along the madman's doppelganger from our world, who happens to be a professor specializing in forensic pathology and profiling. The "what-if" vibes are fascinating as the professor — and by extension everyone in the dual-universe loop — considers the vagaries of fate and environment when confronted with "the path not taken." The story is suspenseful, poignant and wonderfully original. And in case you're wondering why Walter stays behind, surrounding himself with a cacophony of music: It may have something to do with that nagging disembodied voice he can't stop hearing. Hurry home soon, Peter Bishop!
Showtime is about to raise the dramatic stakes on Sundays, which were already plenty high. Network TV's finest adult drama, CBS' The Good Wife, recently moved to the night, ABC just launched a delicious piece of escapism in Pan Am, the second season of HBO's deluxe Prohibition period piece Boardwalk Empire is already underway, and in two weeks, AMC resurrects its terrifyingly graphic zombie ...
Amy Poehler and Adam Scott
It will be a sad day in TV land if (as Nielsen history suggests) the powerhouse of CBS' The Big Bang Theory helps deliver the abysmal new How to Be a Gentleman a ratings win over NBC's little-show-that-could-do-better Parks and Recreation.
Here's my Fall Preview take on How to Be a Gentleman (CBS, 8:31/7:31c), a misfire that almost makes me miss last year's Bleep My Dad Says, which wasted the same time period: "Felix and Oscar should sue. The overused Odd Couple premise gets one of its more cringeworthy sitcom workouts in the latest assault on the male mystique — caricatured as a squeaky-voiced priss and a bellowing gym-bunny boor. Actually, mankind should sue." To elaborate: David Hornsby plays a metrosexual metropolitan fusspot whose ...
Crime procedurals on TV are a dime a dozen (though often much more profitable), but BBC America's Luther is one in a million. Making Criminal Minds look like a romp in Disneyland, this twisted walk on the dark side earned an Emmy nomination this year for its powerful star, Idris Elba (The Wire), for good reason. Few things are juicier than letting an actor wallow in the most damaged corners of the soul.
And right away, as Luther returns for a second season (10/9c) comprised of two two-part thrillers airing over four weeks, we can see that John Luther's notoriety as London's most volatile and unstable detective is intact. Still grieving the death of his ex-wife (at the hands of a former colleague), Luther returns ...
A week ago, most critics couldn't stop gushing over how adorable (or "adork-able") Zooey Deschanel is as Fox's delightful New Girl, and judging from last Tuesday's opening-night ratings, which actually improved over its Glee lead-in, the TV audience would seem to agree. They won't be disappointed in tonight's charmer of a second outing (9:01/8:01c). What struck me as I previewed the episode is that as easy as it is to fall for Zooey's pixie-ish pizzazz as Jess, it would hardly matter if it weren't for her invaluable back-up crew of supporting players.
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Question: Last year the TV season came and went without a breakout hit, and with more cancellations than usual. I'm interested in the strategy that the networks seem to be going for this year to make up for the extremely lackluster last season, especially over at Fox. I don't know exactly what Fox's expectations for The X Factor were, but I'm guessing that they're somewhat disappointed today. 12.5 million seems a bit of an underperformance, especially given that Two and a Half Men had double that many viewers. I was really surprised that New Girl (which I found absolutely delightful) not only matched Glee's numbers, but in fact did significantly better. Given that New Girl had been available online for several weeks prior, I'm surprised that so many people tuned in. This is perhaps a bit reminiscent of Fox's bold move in previewing the pilot of Glee in the spring after Idol, which paid off ...
As opening nights go, last Monday's kickoff to the fall season was pretty spectacular. Now with the two Charlies laid to rest (and Sheen charred at the celebrity roast), we'll see how Two and a Half Men holds up, along with the rest of CBS' comedy lineup. Add some high-profile dinosaurs to the mix this week, and it should be another fascinating night.
First, the new shows ...