Tricia Helfer, Brian Van Holt
While a generation of kids in the '60s (me among them) obsessed on shows like Lost in Space, the U.S. secretly launched a mini-civilization of 600 pioneers into the cosmos on a century-long excursion to find a new world. That's the nifty high concept behind Syfy's potential backdoor-pilot miniseries Ascension, which begins a three-night run Monday (9/8c through Wednesday).
Marco Polo's instructions are clear enough: "Watch and remember what you see," commands the gouty but still formidable Kublai Khan (Benedict Wong), whose Mongol warrior hordes control most of 13th-century China. As if the handsome Venetian (suave Lorenzo Richelmy) would be likely to...
Valerie Cherish is forever seeking the most flattering light — from the cameras of the hapless reality-TV crew that surround her, from the two-faced Hollywood cronies who mock her, from life itself — and the tragic comedy of HBO's The Comeback, making its own most-welcome comeback (Sunday, 10/9c) after nearly a decade off the air, is that she so rarely finds it...
"All trench coat and arrogance" is how John Constantine describes his roguish, demon-fighting self. His business card reads "Exorcist, Demonologist and Master of the Dark Arts," though he cautions "petty dabbler" may be closer to the mark, as "I hate to put on airs." Wielding his jaded, sardonic attitude as a shield to cloak him from the worst the netherworld has to offer, the wearily witty Constantine (as embodied by the appealingly droll Welsh actor Matt Ryan) is one ...
Mort Pfefferman's entire life has been an identity crisis. A divorced dad of three grown, though not always grown-up, children, melancholy Mort is truly at ease only when in the heretofore secret guise of his feminine alter ego, Maura. In a flashback from 20 years earlier, Maura laments, "No one's ever seen me except me" — a situation that's about to change as the funky younger Pfeffermans slowly get to know the truth about their trans parent in Amazon's Transparent (get it?), creator Jill Soloway's deeply felt, intensely human comedy. This series (available on Amazon Instant Prime starting Friday) should do for Amazon, reputation-wise, what House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black achieved for Netflix. It's at least their equal, with the feel and tone of...
If Grey's Anatomy is an oversexed St. Elsewhere, and Scandal a frenzied object lesson on how to put the woo-woo in The West Wing, then the latest Shondaland extravaganza, ABC's juicy legal melodrama How To Get Away With Murder (10/9c), is The Paper Chase on steroids. This instantly addictive thriller appears to have been written on...
A week ago, I was raving about FX's inspired reinvention of Fargo from movie to TV series. But this week, we get a cautionary reminder that there are movies that just shouldn't be adapted for TV. Case in point: CBS's head-of-no-class version of 2011's Bad Teacher (Thursday, 9:30/8:30c) that flunks basic lessons of chemistry — starting with...
Emile Hirsch and Holliday Grainger
Imagine how thrilled Bonnie Parker would be to learn, nearly 80 years after her iconic demise alongside partner-in-crime Clyde Barrow, that their bloody legend is once again fodder for Hollywood, in a new miniseries premiering simultaneously on three — count 'em, three — cable networks. For a Depression-era would-be diva who thirsted for movie-star fame but had to settle for newsreel infamy, this is real staying...
Samantha Isler, Sean Hayes
This fall you can really feel the Modern Family influence in the development of most networks' new comedy slates, and it's especially noticeable on NBC's Thursday lineup. With the exception of the long-running Parks and Recreation, which until the double expectancy whammy of Ann Perkins and Ron's Diane had been curiously child-free for a show supposedly set in America's heartland, NBC's new sitcoms are very much in the family way, for better or worse.
One actually bills itself as Welcome to the Family (8:31/7:31c), and if familiarity is a prerequisite for your viewing patterns, you'll feel right at home here. This innocuous domestic farce pivots on a culture clash between...
Fans often feel burned when the final curtain falls on a favorite show — especially when it happens unexpectedly and without resolution (just ask fans of A&E's The Glades or, even more recently, AMC's The Killing, which at least solved its third-season case before the grim fadeout). This is not the situation with USA's Burn Notice, which has been leading all summer to a calculated big finish (Thursday, 9/8c) after seven seasons of...