Jon Hamm, James Badge Dale
The times, they are always a changin' on Mad Men, but as often happens with this fascinatingly unpredictable series, the changes come where you least expect them. After the last several weeks of intense workplace drama, priming us for another game-changer in the wake of Don Draper's anti-tobacco manifesto, Sunday's thoroughly absorbing and entertaining fourth-season finale takes a startling hairpin turn back to the personal. Cut to the headline: Don's getting married. To Megan!
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The main action: While Peggy triumphantly lands a new pantyhose account, the first win for the troubled agency since the Lucky Strike defection, Don takes the kids to California, world of Tomorrowland (the episode's title), and has a personal epiphany about his own future — as it relates to his tormented and once-hidden past — in the lovely and toothsome presence of Megan, the ethereal secretary-turned-nanny who is every inch the anti-Betty...
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Question: I know that you and many others are loving this season of Fringe with the alt-world, Doublivia high jinks but I am a bit more, shall we say, off-put. One of my problems is that I'm getting a very Charmed vibe about the whole thing. Allow me to explain. I was a devoted Charmed fan (until the unfortunate last season), but one of the staples of that show which always bothered me were the possession/body-swap type episodes. One of the sisters would be overtaken or possessed or swapped out or what have you and the other sisters would take forever and a day to noodle it out. No matter how strangely or out of character they acted, they would sense nothing was amiss until the whole thing blew up in their faces. With Fauxlivia in the mix on our side, I'm getting that familiar feeling of "Really? Come on!" when it comes to the continued obliviousness of the rest of the cast....
Just six months ago, Bret Michaels was recovering from a near-fatal brain hemorrhage, a health scare that could have cast an ironic pall over the title of his new VH1 reality series, Life as I Know It (premiering tonight at 10/9c). Thankfully, the rocker survived, emerging with a renewed commitment to his career and to ...
Off the Map
"Grey's in the jungle!" That's the nickname the actors on ABC's new medical drama Off the Map have given their series, which will likely premiere in early 2011. But the producers, including Shonda Rhimes (who also created Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice), prefer to think of their new bush baby as "Indiana Jones with scalpels." And after getting down and dirty with the sweaty cast in Hawaii earlier this month, I can see why.
The story finds ...
How I Met Your Mother (Monday, 8/7c, CBS)
House's loss is Mother's gain, as Jennifer Morrison begins a recurring role as the new woman in Ted's life. Sparks fly when Ted encounters Zoey, an outspoken activist passionately committed to saving the landmark building that's slated to be torn down for the new GNB headquarters — Ted's architectural dream project. In other House news regarding a famous Jennifer, you're not seeing double, but ...
David James Elliott
One of CBS' biggest stars is coming back to the network! David James Elliott, who starred as Cmdr. Harmon "Harm" Rabb, Jr. on JAG from 1995-2005, has been cast on CSI: NY. And it's an awesome role.
David will play Russ Josephson, the ex-husband of Sela Ward's new investigator, Jo Danville. (Expect Jo to crack a joke about being Jo Josephson.) David will debut in an early January episode he is now shooting, and producers tell me there's a possibility he could come back for more...
Danny Pudi, Joel McHale, Donald Glover
A very selective look at the shows and various other TV odds and ends that stood out for me this week:
STUNT OF THE WEEK: Live from New York, it was 30 Rock. (And the following comments apply only to the early version. Couldn't really imagine sitting through it again to see how and where they tweaked it.) Much as I wrote many years ago when ER pulled off a similar stunt, I hope they take a nice bow and promise never to do it again. There were some inspired moments, as there usually are on this show — and I couldn't get enough of Julia Louis-Dreyfus' surprise cameo as "Flashback-Liz" (as real-time Liz notes, "My memory has Seinfeld money"). But most of what worked had little to do with the thinly sliced meat of the actual episode....
She's got nothing but man trouble! Brit actress Indira Varma — best known as the doomed wife Niobe in Rome — stars in BBC America's twisted crime series Luther (premiering Sunday, 10/9c), where she plays Zoe Luther, a top-flight attorney who is emotionally terrorized by her detective husband (Idris Elba). Varma is also joining the cast of Fox's Human Target (returning 11/17) as filthy-rich philanthropist Ilsa Pucci, a gig that finds her playing boss to the show's three morally dubious security guys...
Kelli Giddish and Eddie Cibrian
TV Guide Magazine has an exclusive first look at next week's episode of Chase, with guest star Eddie Cibrian (CSI: Miami). In an episode titled "Above the Law," sparks fly between U.S. Marshal Annie Frost (Kelli Giddish) and a bounty hunter (Cibrian) as they track down a white collar fugitive who's jumped bail...
"Who is Don Draper?" was the opening line of Mad Men this season. As it concludes, will dapper Don (Jon Hamm) be any closer to the answer? "Absolutely, conclusively," insists John Slattery, who plays fellow adman Roger Sterling. "Don came through his divorce, started the new business and survived his own personal cauldron. He ends the year transformed."