Friday, October 24, 2014

Review: Alpha House

Garry Trudeau's DC Comedy Never Feels Quite As Good As You Want It To Be
San Francisco Chronicle

Watching and often laughing at four of the second-season episodes of Amazon Studios’ Alpha House (Amazon), available for streaming on Friday, I couldn’t quite shake a parallel sense of unease. At first, I chalked it up to two things. First, that as good as it often is, Alpha House is still an also-ran to HBO’s Veep. Second, some of the issues that creator Garry Trudeau skewers in the new season feel a bit out of date. Keep reading.

Review: Constantine

DC Comic's Hellblazer Is Turned Into A Not-Very-Good Grimm Lead-Out

Constantine (NBC, 10pm) - Matt Ryan is certainly appealing as the doomed-to-hell exorcist/demonologist, and the concept is perfectly positioned as a companion to NBC’s Grimm, premiering right before Halloween, no less. That said, the series — adapted by Daniel Cerone with an assist from genre specialist David S. Goyer — nearly chokes on its mythological mumbo-jumbo. Keep reading.

Preview: ART21 Art In The Twenty-First Century

PBS Goes Inside The Mind Of Artists On Peabody-Winning ART21

Getting up close to watch artists make their art adds some intangible something to the mysterious process of creating art. There's the creative skills you can see - strokes of paint or a thumb pressing and pulling a pliable piece of warm clay. But inside their minds, something else is going on.

PBS on Friday at 10pm kicks off its seventh season of trying to get inside those thought processes on its informative and award-winning ART21 Art in the Twenty-First Century. The first episode, Investigation, focuses on artists Thomas Hirschhorn, Graciela Iturbide and Leonardo Drew.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Preview: Inside The Actors Studio

Broadway-Bound Rock Star Sting Gets the James Lipton Blue-Card Treatment

Sting's musical The Last Ship is just days away from opening on Broadway, but the story of Sting's life growing up in the UK has already had a long, not-always illustrious history.

The show's pre-Broadway run in Chicago over the summer, for instance, was met with mostly OK reviews, like this from Tribune critic Chris Jones: "...The Last Ship is, undeniably, an original, dignified, modestly scaled, intentionally symbolic, unabashedly irony-free (and narrator-free) musical with a carefully plotted book by John Logan ..."

Since then, The Last Ship has been tweaked and tightened. So far, Broadway ticket sales are pretty good, according to Variety.

Tonight at 8pm, Sting sits down with James Lipton on Bravo's Inside the Actors Studio to talk about it all. And, for good measure, he'll also sing.

Preview: Surgeon Oz

The Off-Screen Side Of Dr. Oz (Now, On Screen)

When Dr. Oz's Mehmet Oz isn't in front of the camera hosting his daily daytime talk show - an Oprah spinoff now in its sixth season, he's a cariovascular surgeon at New York City's Presbyterian Hospital. Starting tonight at 10pm, Oprah's network OWN takes a close-up look at that side of Oz on the 10-part series Surgeon Oz.

Preview: Project Runway

Project Runway Season Finale Flows Into Threads

Project Runway's very good 13th season wraps up tonight on Lifetime at 9pm with a New York Fashion Week showdown among its final four designers. The stomping models, the pounding music, the perfectly tailored designs - all worth watching. Runway's finale tonight flows into Project Runway: Threads (10:30pm), a spinoff with kid designers judged by designer and Runway alum Christian Siriano.

Review: Instant Mom

Searching For A Good Sitcom? Scan Past The Broadcast Networks

If the fall TV season - like many before it is proving anything, it's that creating a from-scratch sitcom that's well made and funny is a pretty tough business. Maybe the toughest in TV. There are several case in point-s like ABC's just-OK Black-ish, Fox's under-loved Mulaney and NBC's horrific Bad Judge.

But, keep going down the TV dial and there are a couple of hidden and worth-finding sitcoms on cable, like Disney's silly-funny family comedy Dog with a Blog. And, perhaps less known, Nickelodeon's traditional, multi-camera family sitcom Instant Mom (Nickelodeon, 8pm) - it's not Shakespeare; it's funny.

On the show, Tia Mowry-Hardrict is former party girl Stephanie. When she marries Michael Boatman's Charlie, she's suddenly a mom to his three kids. She adds to the mix her mother, the fantastic scene-stealing Sheryl Lee Ralph.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Preview: Web Therapy

Lisa Kudrow's Other Great TV Comedy

While the world (or, at least a small group of devoted binge-fans) awaits Lisa Kudrow's return to HBO's The Comeback next month, after being gone nearly a decade, she returns tonight for a fourth season of Web Therapy at 11pm on Showtime.

On Web, Lisa is Fiona Wallice, an online therapist to the stars ... a reluctant, self-absorbed therapist to the stars.

Lisa is thoroughly spot on as a Lisa Kudrow-type character with her distinct quirks and eyes-askance puzzlement. Like no one else could do it.

The show is funny and entertaining. Tonight, the season kicks off with celebrity patients like Billy Crystal.

Preview: The Getaway

The Mindy Project's Adam Pally Is Your Drunk Friend In Vegas

Esquire Network, like its namesake magazine, is all about class and style: beautiful food, beautiful women and beautiful mixed drinks. And, at least on TV, drunk guys.

On each episode of the network's fantastic and reliably entertaining travel show The Getaway (9pm) from executive producer Anthony Bourdain, a celebrity sheds light on one of their favorite travel spots - the hidden, off-the-tourist-map-type places - while, equally entertaining, shedding light on their off-screen persona.

Tonight, that's The Mindy Project's Adam Pally in Las Vegas, where he and his friends dish on - among other things - pleasuring themselves on planes.

Review: The 100

CW's Uneven The 100 Admirably Zooms Into a Complex Season Two

Isaiah Washington
For a show that started its life in orbit, The 100 (9pm) clearly isn’t content just to go around in circles.

In fact, this CW sci-fi drama earns points strictly for forward momentum, launching into its second season featuring a fast-evolving narrative, with the space-faring human population returning to Earth and facing a new set of problems. Not everything works, and the performances remain a trifle uneven. But with so many post-apocalyptic cliches being juggled simultaneously, it’s certainly a watchable and ambitious undertaking, albeit one whose main job will be to defy gravity by not yielding too much of Arrow’s lead-in.

Keep reading.