Evan Rachel Wood and Kate Winslet
It's the kind of role an actress would kill for — it won Joan Crawford a 1945 Oscar and is likely to reap Emmy and other honors for Kate Winslet — but I wish I could say HBO's deluxe but draggy miniseries redo of Mildred Pierce was to die for.
"From now on, honey, you're fast." So says a jaded neighbor lady (newly minted Oscar winner Melissa Leo) to Mildred, left by her failure of a husband to raise two girls alone in the Depression, as the unhappy Mrs. Pierce considers taking her hubby's lumpy business partner as a lover.
Mildred begs to differ. She's desperate, but not...
Fringe (Friday, 9/8c, Fox)
This entire season has been a tour de force for Anna Torv. Doing double duty as dueling Olivias from parallel warring universes, she most recently spent an episode channeling her inner Spock — aka Leonard Nimoy — as the ghostly soul of William Bell inhabited her body for a very clever outing. (In the climax, the dormant Olivia resurfaced briefly, freaking out Peter and the viewing audience.) This week, we're back in alt-world, as the pregnant Alt-livia faces mortal danger from several fronts. It's a very harrowing hour, deserving a far larger audience than it's likely to get, tucked away on Fridays. Fox, stand by this show!
Norm Macdonald: Me Doing Stand-Up (Saturday, 11:30/10:30c, Comedy Central)
The sardonic comic...
If HBO were to do a sequel to Big Love, it would have to be called something like The Three Sister-Wives. Not exactly Chekhov, but I'd probably watch. Barb, Margene and Nicki carrying on without Bill: That's already a home plus.
I had drifted a while ago from the flock of followers of this weird and lately quite preachy series about polygamy and family and faith, but did a marathon catch-up over the last week in time to watch the final chapter, which aimed for transcendence and at times achieved it. The hour-plus finale thankfully shucked much of the grotesque Utah-Mormon-Gothic melodrama (murderously mad prophet Alby was taken care of last week, shot down but not killed when he tried to storm the statehouse with the Henricksons inside) and stressed the themes of an unorthodox family and marriage unit fighting for acceptance and survival in a judgmental and often violently unforgiving world. (If you want to see this as a metaphor for the ongoing fight for gay marriage equality, I won't stop you.)
Dancing With the Stars (Monday, 8/7c, ABC)
Here we go again. Time to strap on the heels, attach the sequins and apply the spray tan. TV's giddiest dance competition returns for a new season, with the outrageous Kirstie Alley (paired with fan fave Maks) the highest-profile celeb in the cast. Her competition includes the usual suspects: athletes (Hines Ward, Sugar Ray Leonard), C-list performers (Ralph Macchio) a rapper (Romeo), a reality "star" (Kendra Wilkinson), a flamboyant talk-show host (Wendy Williams), a supermodel (Petra Nemcova) and a Disney personality few of the target audience will ever have heard of (Chelsea Kane). The mirrorball isn't the real prize for most of the contestants. Instant (if sometimes fleeting) stardom comes with the flashy territory.
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Question: What is up with Saturday Night Live? Who are all these people?? There are so many people in the cast that I simply can't connect to them. Back when SNL started, the Not Ready For Prime Time Players was a cast of 7 and you really "knew" them. You knew their characters, their skits, you looked forward to Roseanne Roseannadanna and Belushi's Samurai. Now with a cast of thousands (it seems), no one really cares. I, like so many others, watch the opening, fast-forward to the musical guest (maybe), watch the news, then erase. The best thing the PTB could do would be to trim the cast, keep the ones we really like (Wiig, Kenan, Samberg, Hader, Meyers) and start writing for them, not just writing to fill the time. — Deb
Hell to the yes!
We lead off this week's rundown with congratulations to New Directions for winning Regionals, but more to the point, to Glee for finally giving us something to sing about again, delivering an overdue winner of an episode that reminds us why we fell in love with this musical-comedy-fantasy in the first place. Seeing an episode that gets so many things right, after so many recent episodes that felt perilously off-key, has me wondering if Glee wouldn't be better off producing on a cable schedule of fewer episodes per season, allowing for more polish and less thematic incoherence. A moot point, because corporate greed and the show's own popularity would never allow it.
Give It Up For Greg Giraldo (Friday, 11:30/10:30c, Comedy Central)
Celebrity roasts just won't be same without him. In this affectionate tribute special profiling Greg Giraldo, the comedian who died last September at 44, Comedy Central celebrates one of its most familiar faces and voices, as comedy contemporaries including Conan O'Brien, Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman and Colin Quinn remember a good friend and colleagues. Lots of clips from career highs — and a few lows (including the short-lived sitcom Common Law).
The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway (Saturday, 10/9c, HBO)
The magic word is "FUN!" Feel free to scream along with the Broadway audience as...
"V" is for "vamping" — that's been the case for most of the life of ABC's re-imagined, if hardly re-energized, version of V. You know, the show where alien ships hover over Earth week after week, with nothing much happening as Evil Queen Anna coldly plots the destruction of humanity with all those pesky emotional souls while ...
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Question: Hoping you might have some thoughts on Supernatural this season. Like a lot of fans, I've been seriously disappointed by the fact my favorite show seems to be floundering without Eric Kripke at the helm. I'm finding season 6 to be an incohesive mess, with little apparent "through line" when it comes to plot and characterization, and disappointing underuse of both Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins. I'd love to know how you see things, and what your thoughts are for the show moving forward to a seventh season? As you know, the Supernatural fandom is very active online, and I'm getting the distinct impression from go-to fan forums that a good proportion of the fandom is underwhelmed by season 6, and have either jumped ship or plan to if things don't look up after the show starts airing again. — Kate
Matt Roush: I gather you weren't part of the crowd at Sunday's PaleyFest lovefest in L.A., huh? These are almost fighting words when you consider how passionate the fan base for Supernatural is. I can't speak for any fan consensus, because I rarely seek out those forums so as to keep my own perspective untainted. But I'm not surprised to hear this season has been a letdown to many — although it doesn't get better than the recent "meta" episode, which I enjoyed greatly, in part as a commentary on doing a "season 6" when the fifth season was for so long regarded as the show's likely endgame...
Inside the Actors Studio (Monday, 7/6c, Bravo)
Even in those moments when it succumbs to fawning self-parody, there's something about James Lipton's craft/career-focused Q&A's that I find irresistibly endearing. (May have something to do with my nostalgia for what Bravo was like before all of those heinous Real Housewives took over the network.) This week, this marginalized show — notice how it airs outside prime-time parameters — welcomes its first-ever graduate from the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University. Said successful alum being Bradley Cooper, beloved by TV fans for his work on Alias but now busy with a film career including The Hangover, Wedding Crashers and the new Limitless opposite Robert De Niro.