Category Archives: Television

TELEVISION: The Unit: The Unit Has No Women!

As The Unit [CBS, Sundays, 10/9C] wraps up its latest mission overseas – with the help of an undercover female soldier [pictured below] – their wives are told to drop every connection they have to their everyday lives, send their kids off to distant relatives and repair to an unknown location.

The Unit, S4

The fourth season of The Unit, Sacrifice, finds the team attempting to thwart a terrorist attempt to assassinate the President-Elect Benjamin Castillo [Benito Martinez] – a task made more difficult because the men attempting the assassination are dressed in proper military garb and know the codes of the day.

Written by the show’s Co-Executive Producer, Frank Military, and directed by the show’s creator, David Mamet, Sacrifice is the show’s best season premiere since the first one. Military’s script is smart and manages to create an arc that allows The Unit and their families to become – in an unexpected way – connected, story-wise. With the seeming uprooting of the families, and a terrorist organization that has the funding and training to attack the United States President, Vice-President, President-Elect and Vice-President-Elect, this first part of a two-parter pretty much cooks from beginning to end.

And that unofficial rule that “The Unit has no women?” It appears that the knowledge of that rule may have given the team an unexpected advantage as they track down the group behind the assassination attempts. Between that twist and the upheaval in the lives of The Unit’s families, the show’s creative team is showing that they have no plans to let the series get stale.

I just wish my screener had both eps. I hate cliffhangers! Seriously!

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TELEVISION: Cold Case: Solid Procedural Enters Sixth Season

It’s hard to believe, but Cold Case [CBS, Sundays, 9/8C] has been setting the ghosts of the past to rest for over five years. The sixth season premiere, Glory Days, follows the familiar pattern – after we see the final moments of Michael “Bad Moon” McShane [Aaron Hill] in 1973, a piece of evidence is discovered in the present that suggests he was killed much later than was previously thought. Enter Lilly Rush [Kathryn Morris]  and her team of cold case investigators.

Cold Case, S6

“Bad Moon” was a football star who disappeared the night before the championship game. The investigation puts together a picture of how his last few days were spent by questioning various of his friends, coaches, tutors and such. There’s his teammate, Tom “The Breeze” Bernard [B.J. Britt/Clifton Powell], who lost his scholarship because McShane reported his ill health; Steve Pratt [Sean O’Bryan/James Karen], the alumnus who recruited McShane [and treated him to dinner once a week – and gave him extra spending money for books]; Assistant Coach Walters [Tom Griffin/M.C. Gainey], who was aware that the team’s unofficial, off-campus doctor was giving them steroids, R. Boretski [Justice Leak/James Read], McShane’s tutor, who, McShane threatened to reveal was cheating on class work for members of the football team.

With lots of suspects, there are lots of stories – some of them touching, some funny, and some false. The procedures through which the team solves the case may be familiar but the variations provided each new set of circumstances and suspects allow for enough variety to keep the series feeling fresh – especially when each ep is anchored by music of the period [here it’s by BTO and Steely Dan].

Another ep furnished by CBS, Wednesday’s Women, the third ep of the new season, deals with a group of women who drove from Philadelphia to Mississippi to help run Freedom schools under the cover selling Tupperware®. In it, what was thought to be a hit and run turns out to have far greater implications. The ep’s guest cast includes Olympia Dukakis and Carl Lumbly, among others.

The Cold Case ensemble [Morris, John Finn, Thom Barry, Jeremy Ratchford, Danny Pino and Tracie Thoms] is reliably together and between the regular cast, the guest stars and the consistent writing, the show remains one of the more watchable procedurals around.

Final Grade: B

TELEVISION: Dexter: Life Gets Interesting For Dexter!

A couple of interesting things happen over the first four episodes of the third season of Dexter [Showtime, Sundays, 9/8C]: Dexter [Michael C. Hall] commits a spontaneous act that calls into question Harry’s Code, and Dexter makes a friend in the person of an Assistant District Attorney named Miguel Prado [Jimmy Smits]. The spontaneous act is the murder of Prado’s brother, whom he thinks is a drug dealer named Freebo [Mike Erwin] – and the manner in which he has to cover up this act while dealing with the police investigation and Miguel.

GQ

Otherwise, Dex’s life is pretty good. He no longer has the FBI on his trail; he and Rita [Julie Benz] seem to be in a good place [and he dotes on her kids], and his sister, Debra [Jennifer Carpenter], seems to have sworn off men, drinking and smoking – if not cussing. The thing of it is he doesn’t refer to himself as a monster every so often, either. Somehow, while he would probably vehemently disagree, Dexter is becoming more human – maybe not much more, but enough that it is noticeable.

The Showtime series does continue to play with the idea of morality, though. Dex’s moment of spontaneity has him rethinking Harry’s code even further when he spies a creepy guy asking Rita’s daughter Christina Robinson] for directions in a supermarket. His fierce feeling of protectiveness for the kids is as human as anything he’s ever felt. Couple that with his growing friendship with Miguel, and there are moments that find him seeming practically normal.

Dexter continues to be one of the most compelling dramas on television. From its opening sequence that emphasizes the violence of the everyday, to the odd relationship between Dexter and Rita, to his day job as a blood spatter expert for the Miami-Dade Police, Dexter is an examination of all the kinds of violence that permeate our existence. It has some of the best dialogue anywhere and a cast that serves it up perfectly – and manages a perfect balance between drama, melodrama and gallows humor.

The exceptional ensemble also continues to warrant intriguing arcs as well. Angel [David Zayas] gets promoted to sergeant – and has to deal with the sometimes unhappy responsibilities that come with his new position. Vince [C.S. Lee] has an article printed in a prestigious forensics journal but can’t find a way to persuade anyone to help him celebrate his success. Debra finds her swearing off of men challenged by a most unlikely guy – and is harassed by Internal Affairs to spy on the new guy in the division, Quinn [Desmond Harrington]. The richness of the plotting and the depth of the characterization remain amongst the absolute best on TV. Even the jaunty theme music is oddly creepy and utterly appropriate.

Dexter may not be for everyone, but for those of us who are into it, it is a treasure.

Final Grade: A

Television: Promotional Stills for Supernatural 4.3 In the Beginning

Jared Padalecki & Jensen Ackles As Sam and Dean Winchester in Supernatural Season 4
Jared Padalecki & Jensen Ackles As Sam and Dean Winchester in Supernatural Season 4

Supernatural Season 4 is setting the pace with non stop action that began in the premiere episode Lazarus Rising, which garnered and 3.96 in the ratings and has continued on with the second episode, Are You There God? It’s Me Dean Winchester which garnered a 3.24 rating.

On October 2nd, at 9PM EST the hit Warner Bros/CW Network series Supernatural, which stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles as Sam and Dean Winchester, will air its third episode of season 4, titled In the Beginning.  The episode is centered around a storyline in which the angel Castiel (Misha Collins) mysteriously transports both himself and Dean Winchester back in time to 1973. 

While there, Dean meets up with younger versions of  his and Sam’s parents, John and Mary (Campbell) Wincester before they are married to each other. He also meets up with his maternal grandparents, Samuel and Deanna Campbell(guest stars  Mitch Pileggi and Allison Hossack).  The casting of Mitch Pileggi as the maternal grandfather Samuel Campbell is, to me, a very apt casting. In my opinon, Pileggi has the height, build and bears a strong enough resemblance to actor Jared Padalecki, who plays Sam Winchester to convey a sense of family continunity.

Eclipse Magazine has been provided with promotional stills for this next, exciting episode of Supernatural season 4 which airs on the CW Network Thursday nights and 9PM EST Continue reading Television: Promotional Stills for Supernatural 4.3 In the Beginning

ABC.com Introduces New Primetime Related Content!

Starting today, ABC.com begins rolling out a wide array of new interactive digital features for many of ABC’s most popular primetime series, including Dancing with the Stars, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy and Ugly Betty.

greys-anatomy-season-5

Site highlights include:

· Wisteria Lane Virtual Tour — Sponsored by Lexus, this interactive tour of the Desperate Housewives set allows fans to get an up-close peek into the homes of their favorite Wisteria Lane residents. Fans will be able to click on hot spots found throughout the houses, zooming in on certain features and objects to find details about the series’ characters and storylines, as well as information about Lexus vehicles featured on the show.

· Design a Dance Contest – This feature combines user-generated submissions and weekly polls to allow Dancing with the Stars fans to contribute to a special on-air dance segment based on viewer-selected elements including the dancing couple, style of dance, music and costumes.

· Mode Magazine Online – An online version of Mode Magazine (from Ugly Betty) that is updated with new content each week.

· Dr. Sydney Heron’s Healing with Love blog – Using submissions of the viewers of Grey’s Anatomy, this blog features “tongue-in-cheek” advice and self-help strategies from the Seattle Grace resident

· Life on Mars Interactive Poll – Fans place themselves in Detective Sam Tyler’s shoes when they’re confronted with a series of situations that test how well they would fare living in 1973 versus 2008.

· Life on Mars 1973 Computer Electronic Game – Fans play a vintage computer game that features segments containing trivia and factoids about the year 1973.

· How Well Do You Know Me? Quiz – Viewers of Opportunity Knocks have the opportunity to find out how well their friends, family and co-workers really know them – by challenging them to answer ten simple questions about their habits, likes and dislikes. Users can see which family members, friends and co-workers know them best on their personal leader board, and can compete to have the highest ranking on the ABC leader board by having the most people take the challenge.

· Personality Quizzes – Fans can learn which characters from their favorite shows they’re most like through a variety of quizzes. Shows include Brothers & Sisters, Desperate Housewives, Dirty Sexy Money, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Samantha Who? and Ugly Betty.

The site offers a multitude of other features, including games, trivia, message boards and a library of over 2,000 pieces of short-form content related to ABC’s popular primetime lineup. ABC.com is also home to a new Ugly Betty webisode series, Mode After Hours, featuring Marc (Michael Urie) and Amanda (Becki Newton) in different adventures at the Mode office after the work day is done and everyone has left. Original webisode series are also planned for Brothers & Sisters and Scrubs.

PIXAR’s Cars Spawns Multi-Channel Cars Toons Series of Shorts

Disney•Pixar’s Cars Toons, a new animated short series directed by Academy Award®-winner John Lasseter, and starring Lightning McQueen’s rusty but trusty friend Mater, will be presented on, Disney Channel, Toon Disney and ABC Family beginning Monday, October 27.

Mater

“Cars Toons” are directed by John Lasseter, (director on Cars, Toy Story 2, A Bug’s Life and Toy Story). Victor Navone (animator on Cars, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc.) and Rob Gibbs (story artist on Cars, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc. and Toy Story 2) are co-directors. Kori Rae (associate producer on The Incredibles and Monsters Inc.) is the producer.

The shorts premiere as follows on Toon Disney (all times ET/PT):

Monday, October 27 (6:56 p.m.)

“Rescue Squad Mater” — Mater is a fire truck that rescues Lightning McQueen from a burning building.  When McQueen is rushed to the hospital, he discovers that Mater is a doctor, too.

Tuesday, October 28 (6:57 p.m.)

“Mater the Greater” — Mater is a famous daredevil who does all kinds of stunts. And Lightning McQueen becomes an unwilling participant in Mater’s greatest stunt ever.

Wednesday, October 29 (6:57 p.m.)

“El Materdor” — Mater is a famous bulldozer fighter in Spain.  He’s so good, he’s able to fend off multiple bulldozers at once.  Lightning McQueen joins Mater in this Tall Tale just as things are at their worst.

Disney Channel will present all three shorts throughout the day on Saturday, November 1. ABC Family will present the shorts beginning Tuesday, December 23 during the network’s annual “25 Days of Christmas” programming event

Television: Supernatural-Are You There God? It’s Me, Dean Winchester: A Review

Last week’s season 4 opener of Supernatural, Lazarus Rising, garnered an impressive 3.96 rating; which is the highest rating the hit Warner Bros/ CW Network series has had since the first season episode ‘Devil’s Trap’ was aired on the now defunct WB Network. In Lazarus Rising viewers saw the dramatic resurrection of Dean Winchester (played by Jensen Ackles) by the Angel Castiel (played by Misha Collins). Castiel had yanked Dean out of hell and put him back into his body because God, who has work for Dean to do, had commanded it. This resurrection reunited Dean with his brother Sam Winchester (played Jared Padalecki) who, in his grief over the loss of Dean has turned to the demon Ruby (currently played by Genevieve Cortese) to help him learn to use his special powers to fight back against the new ‘big bad’ Lillith.

The second episode of Supernatural season 4 is titled ‘Are You There God? It’s Me, Dean Winchester. This rather lengthy episode title is a take on the title of a very popular Judy Blume teen novel, titled, ‘Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret’. Like the novel this episode derives it’s title from, the second episode of Supernatural season 4 deals with Dean Winchester’s questions about God and why God has chosen Dean to be yanked out of hell by the Angel Castiel and given the task of ‘doing God’s work’. Continue reading Television: Supernatural-Are You There God? It’s Me, Dean Winchester: A Review

Hollywood Insider:Supernatural’s Angel of Thursday – Chatting with Misha Collins About Castiel

“From what I’ve gleaned on the Internet, Castiel is the angel of Thursday. Thursday, as you know, is the day that supernatural airs on the CW. Castiel is supposed to help people on Thursdays and is supposed to be helpful in times of big changes.” – Misha Collins

Last Thursday night at 9PM EST, the hit Warner Bros/ CW Network series Supernatural – starring Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles as ‘supernatural hunting’ brothers Sam and Dean Winchester – rolled out its fourth season premiere episode, Lazarus Rising. By the time the ending credits finished rolling and the preview for the next episode had ended, two things became very clear: Season four had come roaring out of the starter’s gate with a winning episode and viewers/fans had become enthralled with the new recurring guest character, the angel Castiel, played by handsome thirty-four year old Misha Collins.

The season three finale, No Rest for the Wicked, saw Dean Winchester having to make good on his deal to trade his soul into hell to save his brother Sam’s life.  The consumation of this deal found Dean being turned into ‘a hellhound’s chew toy’ and his soul dragged from his mutilated body and down into hell.  Four months later an angel named Castiel was sent by God to pull Dean out of the pit and restore him back to life and healed body.

Eclipse Magazine had an opportunity to catch up with Misha Collins and talk about his role as Castiel and his work on Supernatural, which he says he had only watched a couple of times. “I wasn’t an avid watcher of the show until I was cast in it though. Does that make me a narcissist,” he asks mischievously in response to my question.

Naw, just makes you another fan of a really terrific show.

 

Continue reading Hollywood Insider:Supernatural’s Angel of Thursday – Chatting with Misha Collins About Castiel

TELEVISION: Criminal Minds: As Promised Someone Dies!

There are many reasons that I gave up on Criminal Minds [CBS, Wednesdays, 9/8C] – among them, a seemingly deliberate bad treatment of women and unctuous and predictable writing. Both are present in this season’s premiere, subtly entitled Mayhem. It’s the resolution of the terrorist investigation/car bombing cliffhanger that ended the show’s third season.

Criminal Minds, S4

You may remember the scene: members of the team moved to their various SUVs and one exploded. Turns out that in the case of the one that exploded, its passengers hadn’t quite gotten into it [can you say cheat?] and were blown back by the explosion, not instantly killed. Not only that, but a passer-by calls 911 – of course no one is allowed to approach them because it was established that the bombers were actually looking to follow up the initial bomb with one to take out the initial response team[s].

So, we’ve got a badly injured woman. How she survived being scraped along the street for twenty yards, leaving a trail of skin and blood, is beyond me [when we get a glance at it, her back is so much hamburger]. Meanwhile the male agent is blown into the air and comes down across the street and is only shaken up and cut from the SUV’s windows – or so it seems. Actually, it’s later shown to be bad enough to have both agents requiring emergency treatment.

In the meantime, we get a bunch of fairly predictable events – the injured agent driving the ambulance to a hospital that has been barricaded, another agent discovering the second bomb and appearing to die saving everyone… the usual – and the only member of the team that comes off well is, once again, Garcia [Kristen Vangsness].

Sadly, all of the episode’s major reveals were obvious to me well before we reached them [before the teaser was over, actually]. And the promised death once again put a woman through all kinds of agony – a Criminal Minds staple. Not that Mayhem was totally ridiculous – it was beautifully filmed [though the hamburger shot could have been briefer] and Vangsness’ performance was excellent. On the other hand, Joe Mantegna’s David Rossi was reduced to the role of bystander and Paget Brewster’s Emily Prentiss was little more than window dressing.

Overall, then, Mayhem reminded me why I seldom watch Criminal Minds. It was overblown fooferaw and pretty much a waste of my time. Don’t let it waste yours.

Final Grade: D

Television: The Mentalist: Simon Baker Sees Stuff You Don’t!

Have you ever wondered what the series Psych would be like if it had been played as a drama? It might well have looked like The Mentalist [CBS, Tuesdays, 9/8C], a series about Patrick Jane, a former fraud television psychic who makes a major career change after a performance on a talk show takes a nasty turn.

mentalist - baker & tunney

The premiere finds Jane, who is now working for the California Bureau of Investigation, solving a murder in the opening minutes by simply, as he puts it, “paying attention.” His methods, being somewhat unorthodox, his boss, Teresa Lisbon [Robin Tunney], suspends him – but a new set of murders appears to strike home to him and he goes over her head to get back on the case.

Judging by the premiere, The Mentalist is one of those shows that seem like it’s going to go one way and then, BAM! It’s snuck up on you and grabbed you by the throat! Unlike Psych, which places the humor upfront, The Mentalist seems like it’s going to be deadly earnest – and mostly, it is – but at key moments, shrewdly placed bits of gallows humor serve to both emphasize the drama and relieve the carefully built up tension.

David Nutter, a true king of the pilots [Millennium, Roswell, Dark Angel, Smallville, and Without a Trace, among them], really has a handle on Bruno Heller’s [Touching Evil, Rome] excellent script. Some of the key moments are [deliberately] predictable in order to set up the ones that aren’t – and he draws series defining performances from an ensemble that also includes Owain Yeoman [Kitchen Confidential, The Nine], Amanda Righetti [The O.C., Reunion] and Tim Kang [Third Watch, Rambo].

The Mentalist may be the series that gives Simon Baker the hit his talent and charisma deserve – and with its NCIS lead-in, it’s positioned well. The fact that it’s a police show – if not exactly a procedural – means that it takes a different tone than NCIS, but its quality should hold that show’s audience.

TELEVISION: Heroes Returns With a Bang!

Tim Kring and his creative team on Heroes [Mondays, 8/7C] have heard their show’s fans. Heroes returns with one helluva bang, giving us the answer to last season’s cliffhanger – who shot Nathan Petrelli [Adrian Pasdar] – inside of the first ninety seconds of the season three premiere. The premiere, The Second Coming/The Butterfly Effect, promises to be one of the more electrifying two hours of the new season [only the first hour was sent out for review].

S3 - Claire & Peter

One thing that remains constant is the show’s multiple character arcs that intersect in odd and unexpected ways. Thus, we find Matt Parkman [Greg Grunberg] in a desert; skip to a future confrontation from a very dark [brunette, actually] Claire and Peter, and meet a character named Tracey Strauss [Ali Larter] who looks exactly like Niki Sanders whom we were pretty sure had died in that exploding building in last season’s finale. Then there’s the character who returns from the grave; an encounter between the present-day Claire [Hayden Panettiere] and Sylar [Zachary Quinto] that doesn’t go the way anyone [except Tim Kring, who wrote the script] could have imagined. To cap it all off, there are the prisoners of Level 5 – and Noah Bennett [Jack Coleman] still channelling Steve McQueen in The Great Escape.

One of the things that Heroes does best – when it’s on form, and it’s on form here – is juggle multiple plot and character arcs. Volume Three: Villains looks to be the most complex volume in the series, thus far, and yet none of the characters seems to be short changed. Even odd pairings, like Suresh [Sendhil Ramamurthy] and Maya [Dania Ramirez] work – and it’s the first time since her introduction that Maya doesn’t drain the life out of her scenes. The show’s FX are in good form, too. Hiro’s [Masi Oka] arch-enemy. A young speedster named Daphne [Brea Grant] is handled extremely well by the FX team, and Grant brings an impish sense of fun to the character.

If you lost interest in Heroes last season, or stuck with it but thought it opened too slowly, you’ll find season three a real rush [and not just in the sense of Daphne’s superspeed]. If you need to brush up on what’s happened, so far, there is a special one-hour summary episode that immediately precedes the third season premiere.

Final Grade: B+