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Showing posts with the label Season Premieres

Butterfly Effect: The Series Premiere of The Killing

In my review of AMC's addictive new mystery drama The Killing , I compared the new series, which premiered last night with a two-hour episode, both to Twin Peaks in some of its underpinnings (save the presence of the supernatural) and to the work of mystery novelist Ruth Rendell. The comparison to Rendell--whose family, like Forbrydelsen , the series on which The Killing is based, hails from Denmark--is quite apt in certain respects. While some of Rendell's novels--particularly her Inspector Wexford installments--deal with crime investigation, the majority of them either delve into the pathology of the killer, exploring just what makes a person kill, or the way in which crime, particularly murder, affects everyone both before and after the perpetration of the crime. Of all crimes, murder is the one with the largest emotional fallout: not just to the victims but everyone the victim leaves behind; their secrets and those of the dead are forcibly brought out into the light. The

The Saints' Guide to Bottoming Out: An Advance Review of Season Three of Nurse Jackie

It's always rewarding--and exceedingly rare--to see a show have such a sense of itself right out of the gate and to continue to mine its central premise and its characters for new depths (and highs) as the seasons pass by. Showtime's dark and hysterical dramedy Nurse Jackie returns tonight for a sensational third season with its sense of self firmly intact. Revolving around in-denial drug addict Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco), her family, and her memorably offbeat emergency room co-workers, the show is a winning blend of emotional highs and lows. Jackie still can't function without the assistance of prescription painkillers, but the walls have closed in on her after the intervention at the end of last season, thrown on her by husband Kevin (Dominic Fumusa) and best friend Dr. Eleanor O'Hara (Eve Best). But rather than get the help we all know she needs, Jackie lashes out at those who would help her; there's a lesson inherent within her reaction that we can only help

The Gunslinger Returns: An Advance Review of Season Two of FX's Justified

Lawman Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) is back with a bang as the gripping second season of FX's taut drama series Justified kicks off tonight. In the time since we last caught up with the beleaguered Raylan, this taut series hasn't lost any of its luster or its off-kilter nature. Season Two, which launches tonight, begins with "The Moonshine War," which picks up exactly where we left off at the end of last season as Raylan, Boyd (Walton Goggins), and Ava (Joelle Carter) attempted to fend off fire from the Miami drug cartel's hitmen. The action picks up moments later to reveal just how the three manage to live to tell the tale. But rather than sweep last season's plotlines under the rug, there are consequences to the shootout in Bulletville and to Raylan professionally. Will he be held accountable for the death of Bo Crowder? Will he stay in Harlan or return to Miami? Will he choose his ex-wife Winona (Natalie Zea) or Ava? Will Boyd choose the path of veng

Yup, Archer Is Back Tonight: Why You Need to Watch

FX's subversive animated comedy Archer returns tonight and not a moment too soon, for television needs the gonzo spirit and out-there humor of this Adam Reed creation. The first seven episodes of Season Two of Archer , provided to press for review, might be the strongest to date, offering up a virtual cornucopia of sight gags, double entendre, shockingly foul language, superspy hijinks, and one of the worst examples of humanity in HR executive Pam Poovey. To say that these memorable characters are flawed is an understatement of the highest order; they're so morally corrupt, so self-absorbed and tragically insane, that it makes for obsessive and unpredictable viewing. And that's perhaps the beauty and magic of Archer : in creating a cast of characters who are so reprehensible in every way, it's impossible to turn your eyes away from the carnage--both physical and personal--that follows in their wake. Along the way, Sterling Malory Archer and his covert cohorts at I

Go Big or Go Home: An Advance Review of Season Three of Parks and Recreation

Last season, NBC's Parks and Recreation exploded into a bona fide comedy hit, a critical darling that had transformed itself from being in the shadow of The Office to outperforming it in terms of heart, humor, and brains on a weekly basis. It took the series, created by Greg Daniels and Mike Schur, a few episodes in the first season to find its footing but it came right out of the gate at the beginning of its sophomore season, with its tone, sense of humor, and characters just right. Over the course of the twenty-odd installments of Season Two, Parks and Recreation quickly established itself as the go-to workplace comedy, the sort of mockumentary show that had expanded upon its initial premise to become a series that combined the awkwardness of romantic life in Pawnee with the eccentricities of the Parks Department workers and the cockeyed optimism of Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), whose can-do spirit were often at odds with, well, reality. Despite the critical success of the s

The Magnificent Seven: An Advance Review of the Next Two Episodes of USA's White Collar

The wait is over: Neal Caffrey (Matthew Bomer) and Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) are back. USA's smart and slick series White Collar returns tonight for the back half of its sophomore season, following a cliffhanger that threatened the life of Neal's shadowy associate Mozzie (the always fantastic Willie Garson), even as the dynamic duo got closer to unmasking the conspiracy surrounding that omnipresent music box. When the series returns with the next two episodes ("Burke's Seven" and "Forging Bonds"), provided to press for review, there's a spirit of both righteous vengeance and calculated craftiness employed by Caffrey and Burke on behalf of poor Mozzie, gunned down by an unknown assailant, and some forward momentum on the music box storyline and just who is pulling the strings of the story's characters. I don't want to give too much away, but I will say that what follows are two fantastic installments, each with their own distinct point of v

Winter: Out of the Wilderness on the Season Premiere of Big Love

"I don't even know what the road in front of us is going to look like." - Bill In terms of the narrative of Big Love , which entered its last season with this week's evocative episode ("Winter"), written by Mark V. Olsen & Will Scheffer and directed by David Petrarca, roughly a week has gone by since the Henricksons publicly outed themselves as polygamists, joining together on stage in a symbolic gesture of unity. Finding them as the fifth season begins, the family has fled Sandy for the isolation of the desert, embarking on a camping trip together both as an act of escape and also one of healing. But the old slights still sting. The Henrickson family is in recovery mode, the wreckage from their act of courage still smoldering around them. Their trip to the wilderness is a reactive move, a reversal from their bravery in the face of those flashing cameras. The fallout has been severe as we see from this week's installment: Margene loses her job and

The Daily Beast: "Falling in Love with Big Love Again" (REVIEW)

Big Love returns on Sunday and I've already seen the first three episodes. (In fact, I've now seen them multiple times, including the season opener on the big screen last night at HBO's Big Love premiere.) Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "Falling in Love with Big Love Again," in which I examine why HBO's polygamist family drama Big Love is back in fine form for its fifth and final season. In addition to taking a critical look at the start of the fifth season, I also make some predictions about where the season--and the series as a whole--is ending. I'm curious to know: are you planning on watching Season Five of Big Love ? What was your take on last season? And how do you think creators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer are going to end the series? Head to the comments section to discuss. Season Five of Big Love premieres on Sunday evening at 9 pm ET/PT on HBO.

Soul-Searching: Alien Invasion Drama V Returns for Its Second Season

When we last saw the scaly-skinned aliens and human resistance fighters on ABC's invasion drama V , the Visitors' high commander Anna (Morena Baccarin) had unleashed a swath of red across the planet, offering a cliffhanger ending that placed every character in jeopardy. Just what was this so-called Red Sky? What did it symbolize? And had Anna's master plan for the human race finally come to fruition? When we pick up with V , which returns tonight after a lengthy hiatus with the apocalytpic "Red Rain," we're given some of the answers to those questions and a hell of a lot more over the next three episodes, which were provided to press for review. In fact, answers seem to be the name of the game, as showrunner Scott Rosenbaum has made it his mission to remove the cloak of mystery from around several long-gestating plots. Before these three episodes are over, viewers will learn just what the red sky phenomenon was all about, will get a glimpse at a Visitor san

Chopping Block: Knives Out for Start of Top Chef: All Stars

And that's how you start a season of Top Chef . While there was heated drama and some tears, the focus was once again on the innate talent and staggering skill sets of these fierce competitors. While I already shared my pre-air thoughts about the season opener of Top Chef: All-Stars , now that the episode ("History Never Repeats") has aired, we can discuss specifics of this fantastic installment, which saw some fan-favorites return for another shot at Top Chef glory and what might just be the very best Elimination Challenge to date (which is what I told executive producers Jane Lipsitz and Dan Cutforth when I saw them the other night). Forcing the chefs to redo the dishes that got them sent home the first time they were on Top Chef was a stroke of genius that played up to the chef's egos and their nerves. Would they be able to overcome what sunk them last time around? Would they redeem themselves or fail again? And which of the chefs would be forced to bear

The True Cutthroat Culinary Competition Returns: An Advance Review of Top Chef: All-Stars

Longtime readers know that I am obsessed with Bravo's culinary competition series Top Chef , but also that I've been disheartened by the last season (and the trainwreck that was Top Chef: Just Desserts ), so there was a lot on the line for tonight's season premiere of Top Chef: All-Stars , which reunites some of the fiercest competitors ever seen on the series for another shot at the title. Arriving as it does on the heels of Top Chef: Just Desserts , there hasn't been a lot of time to regain one's appetite for the franchise, thanks to a schedule that now sees three iterations of the Top Chef formula airing basically year-round. Which might be a recipe for brand awareness, but it doesn't quite keep the franchise at its freshest. Last season, which saw the competition move to Washington D.C., might is regarded by many as the worst season to date, saddled with some lackluster casting, some dull challenges, and some lazy editing. And Top Chef: Just Desserts , w

Of Lions and Lambs: Thoughts on the Season Premiere of Friday Night Lights

"I'm going to miss this." - Eric Taylor Those words, spoken by Kyle Chandler's Eric Taylor in the season premiere of Friday Night Lights ("Expectations"), written by David Hudgins and directed by Michael Waxman, are said as he looks over at the minor squabble developing between wife Tami (Connie Britton) and daughter Julie (Aimee Teegarden). But that simple sentence, offered in a sweet and rather sad tone, might as well encapsulate the overall feeling of the audience: we're going to miss this too. Even though the "this" in question might be yet flare-up of adolescence angst from Julie Taylor. But it's the fact that the Taylors are together, engaged in the regular rigors of daily life, that the entire declarative statement takes on bigger meaning. Change is coming for the Taylors, with Julie heading off the school. Their family is once again being split up and those breakfasts, those arguments, those stolen moments are soon to be a thing

The Last Waltz: An Advance Review of Season Five of Friday Night Lights

Well, this is it: the beginning of the end. After four seasons of emotionally resonant drama, a nuanced exploration of life in small town Texas, and one of the most realistic portrayals of marriage ever, television masterpiece Friday Night Lights is heading towards the its final days, beginning with this week's thrilling and evocative season premiere ("Expectations"), written by David Hudgins and directed by Michael Waxman. It's not surprising that "Expectations" had me getting choked up no less than four times over the course of 40-odd minutes, as characters made their farewells and prepared to leave Dillon behind. While their goodbyes might be temporary, it was a canny way of signaling to the audience that the final parting is still to come, that with just a dozen or so episodes left, there would be no going back to Dillon. The first two episodes of the fifth and final season--"Expectations" and next week's installment ("On the Outsi

Heading Off-World: An Advance Review of Season 1.5 of Caprica

I was planning to write a lengthy review of the first two episodes of the back half of Caprica 's first season, which returns to Syfy tonight after a considerable hiatus (one that was unexpectedly truncated), but AOL Television's Maureen Ryan did all of the heavy lifting yesterday and pretty much summed up everything I was going to say . I've found Caprica so far to be maddeningly frustrating, a series of false starts, lackluster characters, and thwarted intrigue. (I wrote about my feelings about the first half of the season here .) The two episodes provided to press for review ("Unvanquished" and "Retribution") haven't alleviated any fears I may have had about the series after its fantastic and thought-provoking pilot. Two episodes back and I'm already restless, already losing interest in the plights of these characters, who remain unsympathetic and icy. (I will say, however, that the second episode was significantly better than "Unvan

Crossroads: An Advance Review of Season Two of The Good Wife

Over the course of its first season, CBS' legal drama The Good Wife transformed itself from a legal procedural into a strong ensemble drama. Which isn't to say that it jettisoned the cases of the week, because, in the hands of skilled creators Robert and Michelle King, it managed to both deepen the characters without sacrificing the courtroom hook, pulling off the rare legal-focused series that actually manages to make us care about the the accused, the defense counsel, and the kids at home. Inspired by the slew of sexually-charged political scandals, The Good Wife 's first season also held up a mirror to our own society, giving us a female lead in Julianna Margulies' Alicia Florick who was determined, harried, and often second-guessing her own decision to stand by her man. In the process, the series posed questions about the choices we make, the value of honesty and fidelity (both in the bedroom and in the state's attorney's office), the plight of the working