James Badge Dale
(Friday, 9/8c, Syfy) Colin Ferguson directs this week's episode, which may explain why Sheriff Carter is off to Harvard to visit Zoe for the week. While he's away, the town celebrates Space Week—but as usual, things go awry. This week's culprit: guest star Jamie Kennedy, whose self-propagating oxygen device begins to affect the atmosphere, threatening to incinerate the put-upon town...
Huge (Monday, 9/8c, ABC Family)
In this episode, set on "movie night" at Camp Victory, Nikki Blonsky sings. (As any fan of the movie Hairspray knew she ultimately would — although some probably expected it to happen in the talent-show episode.) As the summer crushes escalate in this diverting series, Will (Blonsky) channels her jealousy over Ian's crush on Hayley into writing a love song. Will it be music to the campers' ears?
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Question: Just wanted to get your thoughts/reaction to DirecTV saving Damages from FX's cancellation fate. I am beyond thrilled one of my favorites and one of the best dramas on TV was rescued! (On a side note, I think Damages was robbed of a Best Drama Emmy nomination.) It will be a long haul to wait until summer 2011 for new episodes, but will be worth it to see Patty spar with Ellen again during a thrilling legal battle. — Kevin
Matt Roush: I'm always pleased when a show I like gets a new lease on life. Was overjoyed for Friday Night Lights when DirecTV came to its rescue (allowing the show to recover from a very flawed second season and move on to new heights) and feel the same for Damages, especially since the show regained its mojo in year 3. In fact, the season was so satisfying I would have been OK if that had been all we got. Still, two more arcs for Patty and Ellen? Who'd complain about that? But for the dark lining in this silver cloud, read on...
Matt Smith, Doctor Who
Even for a busy summer, this is one hectic TV weekend. (And that's true even if you're not at Comic-Con.) It kicks off with Starz's The Pillars of the Earth (see review here), a throwback to the classic historical-epic miniseries, and continues Saturday as the latest reboot of BBC America's Doctor Who comes to a spectacular season finish while making room for a new season of the offbeat Being Human. And the jewel in the crown: AMC's Mad Men, returning Sunday for a fourth season in sensational form.
Some thoughts follow...
The Pillars of the Earth (Friday, 10/9c, Starz) A throwback to the days when lavish miniseries ruled the airwaves, this eight-hour historical melodrama (airing over six Fridays) based on Ken Follett's best-seller juggles royal, religious and political intrigues that swirl around the building of a 12th-century cathedral. You'll meet a large cast of heroes (Donald Sutherland as an embattled nobleman, Rufus Sewell as a master builder, Matthew Macfadyen as a pious friar) and villains (most notably Deadwood's Ian McShane as a feverishly ambitious church official). Dig in...
Jennifer Love Hewitt
Maybe I just needed a brief respite from the summer glut of crime dramas, but what a relief to watch a few hours of guilty-pleasurable TV that takes itself the opposite of seriously.
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Fans of high-camp/big-heart TV are in for a treat Monday night, as Logo unveils RuPaul's Drag U, a garish yet unexpectedly touching spin-off of the similarly over-the-top gender-bending RuPaul's Drag Race, that America's Next Top Model clone (though much more entertaining) where drag divas claw it out for top honors.
Mike O'Malley, Glee
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Question: Mike O'Malley's Emmy nod as guest actor in a comedy for Glee is great, but what do you think about mostly dramatic parts being nominated in the comedy categories? — James (from Twitter)
Matt Roush: It's a good question. Some of the best work in the comedy categories is at least as dramatic as comedic. Mike O'Malley's poignant work as Kurt's father is a great performance but is more likely to elicit tears than laughs. He could be eclipsed by the more conventionally funny work being done by his fellow nominees (most notably Neil Patrick Harris from the same show, or Modern Family's Fred Willard, Jon Hamm's comic turn on 30 Rock, and so on). At the same time, the meatiness of the dramatic scenes in these comedy-drama hybrids (a list that includes Nurse Jackie, United States of Tara and even Monk) may give actors like O'Malley and especially Edie Falco an advantage at awards time. I'm certainly not opposed to honoring the dramatic highlights from comedy series, but it's true the line is very blurred in some of these categories...
Pretty Little Liars
RuPAUL's DRAG U (Monday, 9/8c, Logo)
What a drag — not! This spin-off of the giddy campfest RuPaul's Drag Race is not your typical makeover show. Each week, three women of a certain type—tomboys, plus-sized gals, supermoms — tap into their inner drag queen, with the statuesque RuPaul as headmistress and Drag Race alums as style mentors and confidence boosters. Celeb judges will help crown each week's "valedictorian." Sashay away! ...
DOCTOR WHO (Saturday, BBC America, 9/8c)
Matt Smith's crackerjack first season as the newest Timelord nears an end with the first of a two-part finale that once again confronts the Doctor and Amy with that pesky crack in the universe. Look for the return of the enigmatic River Song and several favorite guest villains as the Doctor grapples with the mysterious Pandorica, which legend says contains the most feared being in the cosmos. Hang on...