Category Archives: Television

TELEVISION: Saving Grace Roars Back Onto TNT’s Schedule!

Saving Grace [TNT, Tuesdays, 10/9C] is what you might call a high concept show. Having self-destructive police detective Grace Hanadarko [Holly Hunter] be assigned a “last chance angel” – a rather redneck looking chap named Earl [Leon Rippy], thereby playing with all manner of expectations – is certainly not the most subtle of ideas. For two seasons, we’ve seen Grace inch her way toward some kind of redemption as she works on cases that have ranged from the peculiar to the mundane.

Saving Grace, S3

This season, Grace gets rolling quickly, with a dream sequence that plays back to some of the events of the latter part of the show’s winter season. You might remember a girl standing on a street corner, looking at Grace. That begins to play out this season – as Grace learns about Leon Cooley’s [Bokeem Woodbine] connection to her family. Grace’s partner, Ham’s [Kenny Johnson] divorce is finalized, creating a bit of weirdness between them.

In the first three eps of this new season, Grace deals with what could be a terrorist attack; determines that the girl on the corner has a last chance angel – her last chance angel – Earl, and is unexpectedly given the opportunity to change angels! Throughout, Grace is supported and/or chastised by the one person who give it to her without fear of reprisal, her best friend, Rhetta [Laura San Giacomo], who has continued to collect evidence of Earl’s existence – and is given an opportunity to succumb to temptation. Earl even learns about frustration – from personal experience, and not just from banging heads with Grace!

Saving Grace has never been subtle, but in its run so far it has taken a seemingly out there premise and turned it into a consistently entertaining series, with characters that we can recognize and with whom we can empathize. The three eps I was given for review purposes are all prime examples. They are loud and fast-paced, but have undercurrents that aren’t always readily discernable. They may or may not contain life lessons which Grace may or may not [mostly not], learn from – but whether the show is saying anything or not, it remains captivating and frequently compelling.

Final Grade: B+

TELEVISION: Hawthorne Serves Pinkett-Smith Poorly!

TNT’s new medical drama, Hawthorne [Tuesdays, 9/8C], features a strong central character in Christina Hawthorne [Jada Pinkett-Smith] – the latest empowered woman to come from Turner, and probably meant to complement its other female-centric series, Saving Grace and The Closer. Unfortunately, it can’t hold a candle, let alone a cotton swab to either of them.

HawthoRNe - Tom & Christina

Hawthorne is a widow [cliché] with a headstrong daughter, Camille [Hannah Hodson] [cliché] who blames her for her father’s death [cliché]. She’s also the Chief Nursing Officer at Richmond Trinity Hospital and has on her staff, among others, a blonde beauty named Candy [Christina Moore] who gives “special attention” to returned soldiers [cliché] and a male nurse, Ray Stein [David Julian Hirsch], whom almost everyone suspects is gay [cliché]. She and her mother-in-law, Amanda [Joanna Cassidy], have agreed to keep her late husband’s ashes each alternating year [kinda creepy]. Amanda is also on the hospital’s board [cliché]. The two of them… wait for it… don’t care much for each other! [Cliché!] In the opening ep, we also meet Christina’s best friend, Bobbie [Suleka Mathew – one of two reasons to check out the show] and Dr. Tom Wakefield [Michael Vartan – the other reason to check out the show], Chief of Surgery, apparently, the only the only doctor in the entire building who actually wants to be there [one doctor, played with withering sarcasm by Anne Ramsey, plays golf instead of doing her rounds and blows up at Ray when he follows her prescribed meds and the patient almost dies – and then blames him, to boot]. Then there’s the Japanese doctor who speaks a pidgeon English that only Bobbie can decipher [yikes!]… Christina winds up fighting for her patients, her nurses and herself on an hourly basis – but gets to turn on the tough love when Camille [her daughter, remember?] pulls a protest by handcuffing herself to a junk food dispenser the school is having removed – and she doesn’t even eat junk food! It’s the principle of the thing [cliché]! Sadly, for all the technical expertise that is poured into producing a very good-looking series, no one appears to have given much thought to the writing. [Fortunately, TNT still has Brenda Johnson and Grace Hanadarko…] Final Grade: C-

TELEVISION: Oscar® & Golden Globe® Nominee Viola Davis to Recur on Showtime’s United States of Tara!

When Showtime’s controversial United States of Tara begins filming its second season, Viola Davis will come aboard in the recurring role of Lynda B. Dozier, “an unconventional artist who plays a significant role in Tara [Toni Collette] and her daughter Kate’s [Brie Larson] lives. Davis, who – with one scene – practically stole Doubt out from under Meryl Streep, will appear in seven of the second season’s twelve episodes, beginning with the season’s second ep.

Viola Davis  - Doubt

Davis received Oscar® and Golden Globe nominations for her performance in Doubt [pictured]. On Broadway, she received the Tony and Drama Desk awards for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play for her work in King Hedley II. On film, she has had featured roles in Nights in Rodanthe, Disturbia, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, Syriana, Far from Heaven, Solaris, Traffic, Out of Sight and Antwone Fisher, for which she was nominated for an Indie Spirit Award. On television, she is best known for roles in the Andromeda Strain mini-series, Law & Order: SVU and several of CBS’ series of Jesse Stone TV-movies.

United States of Tara is about Tara, a suburban housewife struggling with Dissociative Identity Disorder, who goes off her meds to see if she and her family can learn the root cause of her multiple personalities, thereby allowing them to be re-integrated into a permanent whole.

TELEVISION: Digital TV Conversion happens tonight! Are You Ready ?

Digital Conversion

I’m sure that 100 percent of you savvy EM Readers are ready for tomorrow’s Digital TV Conversion. I’ve never really understood the point of this and why it’s being forced upon everyone, or even where this initiative started. But as of midnight tonight (I’m assuming it’s at midnight) Television will be all digital. So if your television uses rabbit ears you have to go out and get a Digital Converter box that cost $40 – $60. The govt provided two coupons per household to cover most of the cost of the new boxes, but then ran out of money early this year. I immediately thought about trying to sell my two $50 Govt coupons on eBay for several hundred dollars, but then realized it was a stupid idea. Maybe some idiot out there would buy it as a “collectible.”

Digital Converter Box

If you have Cable or Satellite TV then you don’t have to worry about it.  So I ask, are you ready or are you going to just start reading books starting tomorrow.  I say there’s a good argument to be made to take this as an opportunity to stop watching television. I know the only night my television is actually on is Thursday night for Burn Notice and now Royal Pains.

TELEVISION: Nurse Jackie Works a Double!

Nurse Jackie [Showtime, Mondays, 10:30/9:30C] has only just premiered and already the series, which stars Edie Falco, has been renewed for a second season!

Jackie

The darkly humorous series, which is centered around Falco’s “strong-willed and brilliant — but very flawed — emergency room nurse in a complicated New York City hospital,” has garnered almost universal acclaim [we gave it an A+ rating] — with USA Today proclaiming, “Here’s a cure for TV’s summer doldrums:  Take one great actress and one great role; repeat for 12 weeks,” and the Washington Post chiming in with, Nurse Jackie is one of the true choice cuts of the year.”

TELEVISION: Adam Lambert’s Big News Day, Shocks the World!!

Adam Lambert Rolling Stone Cover

Today is a big news day for Adam Lambert fans, he just signed a record deal with Simon Cowell’s recording company – as I’ve said numerous times Idol was FIXED this year, not that this particular news should be shocking or even that there’s something wrong with Cowell’s record company signing the deal. His new Album will be out this fall and he’s recording it while on the Top 10 Idol Tour – that I like to call “The Horror, the Horror…”  But the really, biiiiiiiiiiiiig, shocking news is that he finally admits he’s gay in the latest issue of Rolling Stone – which hits the streets June 12. I mean there are only a thousand photos on the Internets of him making out with guys while he’s in Drag. But the fact that he had the nerve to be “coy” about it when interviewed a few weeks ago was just, just…

TELEVISION: Sci Fi Channel Casts Bates, Scorsone as ‘Alice’ Leads!

The Sci Fi Channel today announced the casting of the leads for its four-hour movie event that is scheduled for a December, 2009, premiere. This updating of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland will star Kathy Bates [Charlotte’s Web, Revolutionary road] as the Queen of Hearts and Caterina Scorsone [1-800-Missing, the upcoming Edge of Darkness – pictured] as Alice.

Scorsone

In this take on Carroll’s classic, Alice is a fiercely independent twenty-something who finds herself on the wrong side of a mirror. As the press release pits it, “She is a stranger in an outlandish city of twisted towers and casinos built out of playing cards, all under the rule of a deliciously devilish Queen who’s not very happy about Alice’s arrival.”

Rounding out the cast of the mini-series, which has just begun shooting in Vancouver, B.C., are: Tim Curry [Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Colour of Magic] as Dodo, Colm Meany [The Commitments, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine] as the King of Hearts, Matt Frewer [Watchmen, Eureka] as the White Knight, Philip Winchester [Crusoe] as Jack of Hearts, Andrew Lee Potts [Primeval] as Hatter, Alessandro Juliani [Battlestar Galactica], as 9 of Clubs, Timothy Webber [Men in Trees, Taken] as Carpenter, Alex Diakun [Sanctuary, The X-Files: I Want to Believe], Zak Santiago [Driven to Kill, Young Blades], and Eugene Lipinski [Animorphs, Intelligence] as Doctors Dee and Dum.

The writer/director is Nick Willing, director of Sci Fi’s Emmy-winning Tin Man. Executive Producers for Alice are: Matthew O’Connor and Lisa Richardson from Reunion Pictures, Jamie Brown from Studio Eight and RHI Entertainment’s Robert Halmi, Sr. and Robert Halmi, Jr.

TELEVISION CLIP: Here’s a clip of A & E’s The Cleaner

Here’s a preview of A & E’s The Cleaner.

William’s (Benjamin Bratt) former sponsor Pauline Kmec (Whoopi Goldberg) resurfaces when he is called to help an addict she currently sponsors.  Davis (Gary Cole), a former friend and fellow program member, is a high-profile national news anchor and a spokesperson for recovery, but is struggling with his sobriety in the face of his wife’s (Jayne Brook) battle with cancer. William juggles the case while moving back in with his wife Melissa (Amy Price-Francis) to create a façade of happiness while her parents (Mariette Hartley and Barry Newman) are in town.

TELEVISION: Michael Shanks Online Launches Charity Auction!

Proceeds to benefit the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Title - Stargate SG-1

A second spin-off – “Stargate Universe” – due to hit the airwaves, with cameos and appearances by original cast members. A third DVD movie in the pipeline – and a DVD movie for the first spin-off, “Stargate: Atlantis” – also on the drawing board. A re-mastered re-release of its original series pilot. More novels from Fandemonium Books. More audio dramas from Big Finish Productions. What began back in 1996 as a spin-off from a feature film, a little series called “Stargate: SG-1” continues to make its mark on television history.

Continue reading TELEVISION: Michael Shanks Online Launches Charity Auction!

TELEVISION: Nurse Jackie Guarantees Your Recommended Daily Dose of Intelligence!

nurse jackie

Showtime’s new series, Nurse Jackie [Mondays, 10:30/9:30C], may be even darker in tone, and more grimly hilarious than Weeds, the show it follows on the network’s Monday night summer schedule. Jackie Peyton [Edie Falco] is a dedicated nurse who is not afraid to tear a strip off a young intern who thinks too highly of himself; mentor a new RN; lock horns with the bitchy ER administrator, or cheat on her husband. She loves her kids; needs pharmaceutical aid to get through her day [What do you call a nurse with a bad back? Unemployed.]; and somehow seems to be able to make all the various strands of her life wind together – or maybe not… From the six episodes that Showtime provided for review purposes, it’s clear that Jackie is simultaneously incredibly noble and horribly flawed.

Continue reading TELEVISION: Nurse Jackie Guarantees Your Recommended Daily Dose of Intelligence!

TELEVISION: Weeds – New Lows for Nancy and Celia; New Highs for Most Everyone Else!

After a lacklustre fourth season in which the world’s most selfish mother wound up pregnant by a Mexican drug lord to keep herself alive, Weeds’ [Showtime, Mondays, 10/9C] Nancy Botwin [Mary-Louise Parker] finds herself, once more, in potentially fatal circumstances – while her former best friend, Celia [Elizabeth Perkins], discovers that everyone hates her, a lot!

weeds S5 poster

Weeds’ fifth season premiere finds Nancy having to undergo another, witnessed, sonogram to convince Esteban [Demian Bichir] that she’s really pregnant – and getting a bodyguard to keep her company until he decides whether to kill her after the baby is born. Meanwhile, hijinx ensue when Andy [Justin Kirk], Silas [Hunter Parrish] and Doug [Kevin Nealon] decide to use San Diego County’s Cleveland National Forest as a place to set up a worry-free pot farm – and Quinn [Haley Hudson] has a conniption fit when she learns that no one wants to pay her mother’s ransom.

In Wonderful, Wonderful, series creator Jenji Kohan has crafted an episode that eclipses much of the fourth season in its wit and dark, twisted plotting. Scott Ellis brings out the best in his cast and returns the show to a deftness of performance and pacing that produce more genuine humor and drama than almost any part of last season.

There are many ironies that are almost playful in set up and yet, almost poignant in their unexpectedness. Celia is at the center of one of the best examples of this and Perkins is up to playing every note with an almost harrowing truthfulness. There are so many examples of why this one episode is so much better than anything in season four, but to say much of anything about them – beyond what I’ve already said – would be to ruin the surprises.

Weeds is back, baby! ‘bout time, too!

Final Grade: B+

Eclipse Review by Sheldon Wiebe

Posted June 7, 2009