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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Winter TV Review: Shameless

Showtime strikes it rich with this new, admittedly risquee, look at a dysfunctional family in Chicago...well, at least the father (William H Macy) is dysfunctional. The kids, however, are smart and the money-earners. The show is definitely for adults as it shows full-frontal nudity, male and female, as well as drug use and ribald language. I love it! A-

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Winter TV Review: Perfect Couples

I'm not sure why NBC decided to include this boring and unfunny comedy on it's all-new 'Comedy Night Done Right' night when they also have, what I can only imagine would be better 'The Paul Reiser Show' and 'Friends With Benefits' on standby still. And I say this because you can't really get much worse than the pilot for 'Perfect Couples'. I only laughed, I think, once...and even then it was barely a chuckle. All 6 characters are loud and obnoxious. Needs to get better..fast. D+

Sunday, January 23, 2011

WINTER TV ROUND-UP 2011

Here are the rankings of the new shows airing on TV this winter, judged solely on the pilot episodes only. To qualify, I will be reviewing every new show on the Big Five, be it a drama, comedy or reality show. I will also be reviewing all new scripted fare on the cable nets, as well as select reality shows such as FACE OFF on SyFy.

BEING HUMAN (SYFY) A-
SHAMELESS (SHOWTIME) A-
FACE OFF (SYFY) A-
SKINS (MTV) A-
MR SUNSHINE (ABC) B+
HARRY'S LAW (NBC) B
THE CAPE (NBC) B
RETIRED AT 35 (TVLAND) B-
EPISODES (SHOWTIME) B-
LIVE TO DANCE (CBS) B-
WORKING CLASS (CMT) C+
PORTLANDIA (IFC) C+
OFF THE MAP (ABC) C+
LIGHTS OUT (FX) C+
SERIOUSLY FUNNY KIDS (Lifetime) C+
FAIRLY LEGAL (USA) C
PIER'S MORGAN TONIGHT (CNN) C
EBERT PRESENTS AT THE MOVIES (PBS) C-
PERFECT COUPLES (NBC) D+
LET'S STAY TOGETHER (BET) D+
BOB'S BURGERS (FOX) D-
JAMES ELLROY'S LA (Invest. Disc.) F
ONION NEWS NETWORK (IFC) F
ONION SPORTSDOME (COMEDY) F

Winter TV Review: James Ellroy's LA: City of Demons

The stories are lurid true-life snapshots of famous murder cases in la-la land. But author James Ellroy's line delivery is so annoying that I had to hit the delete button after 10 minutes. F

Winter TV Review: Portlandia

Here's an indie sketch show that has a slower pace than most, and would have scored higher if it's vignettes had better comedic payoffs. Still, it's great to see Fred Armisen of SNL doing his thing, and the opener has a surprise guest in his SNL co-star Jason Sudeikas. All skits center around characters in the Portland, OR area. C+

Winter TV Review: Retired at 35

Once again TVLand mines old-fashioned situation comedies like they did with HOT IN CLEVELAND, though this one doesnt have the charm of HOT's leading ladies...and no Betty White. But it is a pretty good companion piece about a guy who retires at the age of 35 and moves back in with his parents (George Segal and the excellent Jessica Walters) at their Florida house. Series has problems, but none that can't be worked out in time. B-

Winter TV Review: Onion News Network

Like ONION SPORTSDOME on Comedy Central, this IFC series has 'the look' of a CNN-like network news station that attempts comedy out of seeming to be real. But it's not real, and it's not funny. F

Friday, January 21, 2011

Winter TV Review: Pier's Morgan Tonight

As far as interview shows go, this one's just average, which is something of a bummer considering it is hosted by the second king of mean, Pier's Morgan. Then again, Oprah annoys me, so the debut interview had me less than riveted. Piers' show will do okay, but won't be the behemoth that CNN wanted. C

Winter TV Review: Harry's Law

Here's a shocker! I actually liked HARRYS LAW, the new law procedural on NBC starring Kathy Bates (THE OFFICE, MISERY). Honestly, I was fully prepared to give it a D based on critic reviews and my own unenthusiasm, but the pilot was surprisingly funny and moving, and had just the right dose of David E Kelly quirkiness. Hopefully the viewers will stick with it after its strong debut Monday night. B

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Winter TV Review: Bob's Burgers

Neither funny nor original, this show is anything but animation domination. Cruel and sad, actually. D-

Winter TV Review: Skins

MTV did a fantastic job with this Brit remake of the original, which made waves for being shocking in its depiction of teenage sex, drug use and foul language. But isnt that how teens actually ARE? Sorry 90210, but you don't depict realistically what's happening in America. Whether or not 'reality' should be shown on TV is up for discussion, I was simply entertained and thought the pilot moved briskly and made me laugh. A-

Winter TV Review: Being Human

Tonally, SyFy's remake of the British show BEING HUMAN doesn't match the original's humor; that being said, I did like the American remake as a whole and am anxious to see what happens in episode 2 (always a good sign for a show's pilot to leave that mark on me). I thought the show was moody, used its soundtrack better than any SyFy series to date, and did a nice suspenseful build at the end to hook me. If I was to complain I would say the show got a bit soapy in the middle, but all 3 leads (the vampire, the werewolf and the ghost) were all engaging and made an engaging ensemble. A-

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Winter TV Review: Onion SportsDome

Wow! This new sports show parody on COmedy Central really misses the mark...I didn't laugh once. SPORTSDOME does a good job of getting the vibe of the ESPN SPortsCenter, and in the process tries to be a funny (in a wink wink, nudge nudge way) like THE DAILY SHOW is with news parody. But in making the parody so realistic, the end result is way too bland and uptight. Snoooooze away. F

Winter TV Review: Let's Stay Together

BET's new, ahem, comedy reminds me of MAD ABOUT YOU and GIRLFRIENDS; and though the cast and clothes and HD transfer are gorgeous, the series just isn't funny. Too soapy and takes itself way too seriously. Enjoy THE GAME before it, but don't stick around for more laughs, because you won't find them here. D+

Winter TV Review: episodes

This is one of those Hollywood comedies that may be too 'in industry' for people outoside of the biz to 'get'. That and the jokes just didnt fly as fast as I would have liked. It's basically about two writers who find success in their native UK with a comedy that gets lost in translation and becomes dumbed down when adapted for a US audience. The hook is that it stars Matt LeBlanc as nastier version of himself. Unfortunately, in the pilot, he is seen in all of less than a minute. But next week things should take off once we are greeted to more of Matt than in what was essentially a cameo in the pilot. Let's also hope the laughs increase. B-

Winter TV Review: Off The Map

I give credit to ABC for trying something new with the tired medical drama genre with OFF THE MAP, a hybrid of Grey's Anatomy and Emergency filmed on the LOST island of Hawaii, though in the series its meant to be 'Somewhere in South America'. The best part about the show is the awesome scenery and unique ways of pitting people in danger. But the rest is stuff we've all seen before, including the grating dialogue so unique to GREYS. I'll pass on this one. C+

Winter TV Review: Lights Out

As much as I wanted to like the FX drama LIGHTS OUT, I just couldnt get past its slow pacing. About the only nice surprise was seeing the lead actor's bare buttocks in one of the opening scenes. From there it became obvious where this show is heading... a return to the ring to save his family's financial problems. Just about everything about this show felt cliched and unoriginal. C+

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Winter TV Review 2011: The Cape

The first scripted new show of the year is a cool-enough superhero series on NBC, the network that brought us HEROES. But whereas HEROES took itself way too seriously, often spilling blood in the process and making the overall arcs dark and gruesome, THE CAPE rights that wrong by embracing its superhero roots, even though the heroes and villains, ala BATMAN, don't have any true superpowers, per se (unlike NO ORDINARY FAMILY on ABC, which has come into its own as well). Whether or not people tune is is the question, but I found the witty dialogue and impressive action a nice fit to Monday nights after CHUCK (sorry, THE EVENT). B

Friday, January 7, 2011

WINTER TV ROUND-UP 2011

Here are the rankings of the new shows airing on TV this winter, judged solely on the pilot episodes only. To qualify, I will be reviewing every new show on the Big Five, be it a drama, comedy or reality show. I will also be reviewing all new scripted fare on the cable nets, as well as select reality shows such as FACE OFF on SyFy.

BEING HUMAN (SYFY) A-
SKINS (MTV) A-
THE CAPE (NBC) B
HARRY'S LAW (NBC) B
EPISODES (SHOWTIME) B-
LIVE TO DANCE (CBS) B-
OFF THE MAP (ABC) C+
LIGHTS OUT (FX) C+
PIER'S MORGAN TONIGHT (CNN) C
LET'S STAY TOGETHER (BET) D+
BOB'S BURGERS (FOX) D-
ONION SPORTSDOME (COMEDY) F

WINTER TV Review: LIVE TO DANCE

LIVE TO DANCE is the best new show of the year, which is easy to write since it's the only new show of 2011 to date. Another name for this Paula Abdul-judged show could have been AMERICA'S GOT DANCE TALENT, since it follows the same sort of format of having three judges who weigh in with a Gold Star (good) or a Red Star (bad). Two or more X'es (er, Red Stars) means the dancing act doesnt advance to the Short List, which is then weeded down to the Top 18 acts that will then perform live next week. The first episode had the same mix of good and bad auditions that make the trials of America's Got Talent so much fun. Unfortunately, the acts overall really werent all that impressive to me. I saw much better talent on AGT, and that will severely hurt LIVE TO DANCE in the weeks to come. Still, it's a amiable program, just not fantastic. B-