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.
While we try to process those terrible images from the Japan earthquake/tsunami, a few thoughts on some of the highs and lows of the week in TV. (And when we speak of highs and lows, of course the subject is Charlie Sheen.)
REMEMBERING CHARLIE HARPER: Malibu is mourning the loss of one of its more colorful residents: jingle writer/children's music composer-performer Charlie Harper (aka "Charlie Waffles"). His passing was confirmed this week in the wake of the career suicide of his notorious alter ego, a self-described Hollywood "warlock" whose overexposed online rants (following a spate of reckless TV and radio interviews) have quickly degraded from the category of morbidly fascinating train wreck to the realm of sick, sad, no-longer-funny joke.
Battle of Los Angeles
Fringe (Friday, 9/8c, Fox)
Hard to imagine the show topping its most recent episode — the haunting "Subject 13" flashback into Olivia and Peter's childhood — but any story that puts Walter Bishop center stage is worth watching, and this week the mournful mad scientist is busy trying to delay the damage he's done to the wall between universes. Good luck with that. Meanwhile, the Fringe Team is on the case of thieves who defy gravity. Now let's see Fringe defy the gravity of those Friday night ratings.
Battle of Los Angeles (Saturday, 9/8c, Syfy)
Gotta give Syfy bonus points for cheekiness. On the same weekend the big-budget alien-invasion adventure Battle: LA hits the big screen, Syfy's knowingly cheesy...
Hugh Laurie and Lisa Edelstein
House (Monday, 8/7c, Fox)
To escape from a very unpleasant reality — the episode is titled "Bombshells" — Cuddy retreats into a dream world, with elaborate fantasy sequences teaming Cuddy and House in a musical number choreographed by So You Think You Can Dance fave Mia Michaels, as well as homages to the Western and classic sitcoms. It's no laughing matter, though, as Cuddy wonders if House will be...