Friday, September 30, 2011

Preview: Dexter

Michael C. Hall
Michael C. Hall returns for a sixth season of his career-defining role as Dexter Morgan, the murderous dad who kills with a mission. The new season of Dexter begins this Sunday on Showtime (9pm).

Dexter is on the hunt in the season opener, this time for his high school's prom king at their 20th H.S. reunion. Dexter faces inner turmoil, though, as spirituality and the legacy he's leaving his son make him question what he's doing.

Click Read More to watch a preview.

Preview: Doctor Who - Season Finale

Brace yourselves, kids. BBC America is wrapping up another fantastic season of Doctor Who (Saturday, 9/8c). Not a fan? We'll forgive you for now -- you'll come around.

And the best news, BBC America is airing a full-day marathon of Doctor Who. So, put your chores off to Sunday, sit down and practice saying, "tardis."

Click Read More to watch a preview.

Recap: The X Factor

Surly Simon Cowell heaped praise on an aspiring Brooklyn rapper Thursday night, calling the high school sophomore "one of the most talented young people I've heard in a long, long time."

Bedford-Stuyvesant's Brian Bradley, 15, who performs under the stage name "The Astronomical Kid," easily advanced to the second, "boot-camp" round of the Fox TV talent show The X Factor Thursday night - Mike Jaccarino in the New York Daily News.

Preview: Phil Collins: Going Back

British singer and musical icon Phil Collins is profiled on Smithsonian Channel's Phil Collins: Going Back to Detroit (Sunday, 8pm).

In this doc, Phil Collins goes to Detroit to rediscover the Motown Sound as he records his "Going Back" album. Next week, Smithsonian gives the doc treatment to Phil Collin's one-time bandmate, Peter Gabriel.

News: The Rosie Show

That crashing sound you hear is my interest level in OWN's The Rosie Show. The highly anticipated talk show from Rosie O'Donnell premieres one week from Monday (Oct. 10), along with Oprah's Lifeclass as the network's new primetime block.

The Rosie Show, which is being taped in the Chicago studio where Oprah transformed over the years from a local talk show to the cornerstone of a multinational empire, has been billed as, well, the next Oprah. This isn't a retread of Rosie's old, great talk/variety show, but a new, more serious Rosie.

Which is why the announcement of her first guest, subpar comic actor Russell Brand is so disappointing. Rusell Brand? Really, that's the best ya got?

Review: Homeland

Showtime's Homeland, which premieres Sunday (10pm), is not just the best new drama of the season (and would be, no doubt, even if the bar had been set higher than it has been this year), it's the first telling of a post-9/11 story that is all the things it should be: politically resonant, emotionally wrenching and plain old thrilling to watch - Mary McNamara in the Los Angeles Times.

Stats: TV Ratings Recap

The first week of the fall TV season (the week of Sept. 19) kicked off big, with the debut of Ashton Kutcher in CBS's Two and a Half Men ranking No. 1 with more than 28 million people checking it out, according to Nielsen. That kind of audience won't stick around, but in week two the show pulled in 20 million people - which will likely make it a top-3 show next week.
Ashton Kutcher

CBS also did well with NCIS and its spinoff, NCIS: Los Angeles, plus 2 Broke Girls and The Big Bang Theory. ABC's Dancing with the Stars took up two slots in the top 10 and NBC's Sunday Night Football was No. 3.

Meanwhile, cable TV networks were having their fun, too. Football on ESPN, Jersey Shore on MTV and the Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen all ranked in the top 5.

Check out Stats for detailed Nielsen ratings.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

News: Michael Jackson Manslaughter Trial - Day 2

The trial of Conrad Murray, the physician accused of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson, continues with CNN and other news networks devoting hours of coverage to it.

Today's testimony included what many Michael Jackson fans did not want to hear: His children witnessed the chaos unfolding in Jackson's Beverly Hills rental that day two years ago.

Preview: Private Practice

Private Practice (ABC at 10pm): Season 5 premiere. Benjamin Bratt officially joins the medical drama, playing Jake Reilly, Addison’s “mystery man” who becomes involved in Addison’s quest to have a baby - from the Washington Post. Meanwhile, Violet has gone missing after deciding to leave Pete and Los Angeles and is nowhere to be found, even after Pete suffers a heart attack.

Recap: The X Factor

The X Factor annoys me in only one . It's trying way too hard to prove that Nicole Scherzinger deserves to be at the judge's table and, more to the point, is worthy of having replaced Cheryl Cole, who show creator and judge Simon Cowell kicked to the curb.

Case in point, Nicole singing at that judge's table last night. Ugh. Really, the overdoing it is annoying, and so is she.

That said, in week two, The X Factor is more clearly differentiating itself from American Idol, particuarly with great tear-jerky stories from people auditioning. And, as Simon Cowell promised before The X Factor debuted last week, the show is seriously ramping up the talent. Sure, there are bad singers having terrible auditions.

But, mostly, major talents are being discovered, like Skyelor Anderson (see below). Newly discovered stars, even if they don't end up winning the $5 million prize.

News: Fox Gives New Girl Full Season

Zooey Deschanel
Fox isn't wasting any time solidifying New Girl's status as one of this fall TV season's first sitcom hit. The first-year show debuted strong a couple of weeks ago -- coming out of Glee -- with more than 10 million people tuning in. This week, it did well again with 9.3 million viewers.

Yesterday, Fox, which isn't exactly overflowing with live-action comedy hits, picked up the show for a full 24-episode season.

Preview: Home Takeover with Simon and Tomas

Rosie O'Donnell and Oprah Winfrey takeover primetime on OWN in about 10 days. Until then, the Oprah Winfrey/Discovery Channel network is working with what it's got -- some of it's pretty good, although the net has yet to find a big audience.

Case in point is Home Takeover with Simon and Tomas. It's cute but it may not be for everyone -- Simon and Tomas may be a little too European, a little too flamboyant and a little too much, period, for some folks. OWN, tonight at 9pm and 10pm.

Recap: Glee

Tuesday night's episode of Glee -- the second installment in the "back to basics" Season 3 -- gave us only three musical numbers (two solos and one duet, all show tunes, two of them from "West Side Story"); a lot of plot set-up for the season (along with some difficult-to-digest character choices); and a delicious dose of Brittany-isms (and some choice lines from other characters too) writes Amy Reiter in the Los Angeles Times.

Review: How To Be a Gentleman

In a spooky case of life imitating art, Kevin Dillon shows up as the bully who used to pummel Andrew in high school (though they are clearly a decade apart in age) and is now Andrew’s surest path to American male zeitgeist [in CBS's How To Be a Gentleman - premiering tonight at 8:30/7:30c) - Hank Stuever in the Washington Post.

It’s as if we’re watching an Entourage episode where Dillon’s Johnny Drama gets cast in a stinker sitcom; you keep waiting for a meta-reveal that never comes. Instead, you get this year’s “$#!* My Dad Says.” Grade: F

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Preview: Dance Moms

OK, Dance Moms fans, there are only two more episodes of the show this season (tonight, 10/9c). But, don't fret too much. Lifetime has already picked up the reality show, about this-close-to-crazy dance instructor Abby Lee Miller, for a second season. Shwew.

Check out a preview of tonight's Dance Moms here.

Review: Suburgatory

I'll say this much about Suburgatory (premiering tonight on ABC at 8:30pm - click Read More below to watch a preview). It's well made. The single-camera comedy is beautiful to look at -- every scene is bright, sunny and easy on the eyes.
Jane Levy and Jeremy Sisto

That doesn't mean it's any good. Suburgatory's two main offenses - the offenses that'll do it in in a few weeks -- is that its writers don't have the confidence in themselves to let the story unfold naturally and, worse, they use shorthand in the form of an overload of cliches to explain why the suburbs are to be hated (didn't hating the suburbs fade away in the 1980s?).

Preview: Luther

Actor Idris Elba is detective John Luther in BBC America's returning Luther. Tonight at 10pm.

Click Read More for a show description from BBC America.

Review: Happy Endings

One of two new comedy bright spots in an otherwise disappointing 2010-11 TV season (Fox's Raising Hope was the other winner), Happy Ending came on the air in April and seemed like yet another ABC, single-camera comedy being dumped onto the schedule in a rush before the end of the season, writes Rob Owen in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

We've seen plenty of shows meet the same last-minute scheduling fate but most of those were lame. Happy Endings was hilarious.

Preview: The Latino List

From the director of HBO's The Black List documentaries, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, comes The Latino List. It's a documentary that focuses on prominent and successful Latinos like actress Eva Longoria, rapper Pitbull and Supreme Court judge Sonia Sotomayor.

The Latino List debuts tonight on HBO Latino (9pm) and tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 29, on HBO at 8pm.

Preview: Japan's Killer Quake

PBS's fantastic Nova examines the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdown in March that, while fading in our collective memories, continues to wreak havoc on Japan. Japan's Killer Quake airs tonight at 9pm.

Watch the full episode. See more NOVA.

Stats: Terra Nova's Modest Debut

Fox's mega-priced, highly publicized Terra Nova -- from exec producer Steven Spielberg -- debuted on Monday to good, but not great ratings. The two-hour, sluggishly slow show was seen by 9 million people, according to Nielsen overnight ratings.
Terra Nova

The good news for Terra and Fox is that the audience was rock solid for the entire two hours -- just about 9 million people watched throughout the night, and against very tough competition. ABC dominated with a two-hour Dancing with the Stars and Castle, averaging 14.6 million viewers for the night.

CBS was No. 2 behind ABC with an average 13 million viewers. In fact, Two and a Half Men was the most-watched show of the night with an audience of 20 million people. NBC was way behind in fourth place with 4.2 million viewers for The Sing-Off and The Playboy Club.

Stats: The Chew Debuts to 2.5 Million

Mario Batali
ABC ended its long-running All My Children on Friday and replaced it this Monday with cooking/talk show The Chew, with five co-hosts, including Food Network stars Mario Batali and Michael Symon.

The Chew isn't putting All My Children to shame -- not yet, anyway.

The Chew debuted to 2.5 million viewers and 590,000 women aged 18-49, according to Nielsen. That is just a teensy bit more than All My Children averaged the past year (2.4 million people and 541,000 women 18-49).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

News: Michael Jackson Trial - Opening Statements

From CNN: Jurors will hear opening statements and the first witnesses Tuesday in the trial of Michael Jackson's doctor, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the pop icon's death.

But there are several things that Dr. Conrad Murray's lawyer will not be able to tell jurors.

Murray's lawyers will not be allowed to show video of Jackson's March 2009 announcement of his "This Is It" concerts in London, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor ruled Monday.

The video would show jurors "Michael Jackson's state of mind and demeanor" and support the testimony by his makeup artist that Jackson was furious the number of scheduled shows was increased from the initial 10 to 50, defense lawyer Nareg Gourjian told the judge.

Preview: The Man Behind the Mosque

You may not know the name Sharif El-Gamal, but you know what the man is up to. El-Gamal is the property developer building the controversial mosque a couple of blocks from Ground Zero.

Tonight on PBS's brilliant Frontline (9pm), El-Gamal -- a New Yorker who grew up Christian -- explains why this mosque, and why this location in The Man Behind the Mosque.

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

Stats: Pan Am's Big Ratings

From the Los Angeles Times: The skies really were friendly for ABC's Pan Am, which in its Sunday premiere was one of the few new fall dramas to show ratings promise.

The period piece about a 1960s-era flight crew jetted off with 10.9 million total viewers, according to Nielsen. That improved on the 9.8 million who turned out for the final season premiere of Desperate Housewives -- a strong sign that viewers at least wanted to take a spin on Pan Am.

Watch the entire Pan Am premiere here (it will go down as this fall TV season's best premiere episode).

Preview: 24 Hours in the ER

The U.K.'s most popular unscripted series, 24 Hours in the ER, debuts tonight on BBC America (9/8c). It's unscripted but it's definitely not a reality show - not in the sense of The X Factor or the Amazing Race.

This is a straightforward documentary with 70 cameras scattered around King's College Hospital in London capturing multiple trauma cases as they unfold during the same 24-hour period.

Preview: New Girl

Fox's new Tuesday night sitcom, New Girl (9/8c) generated big ratings for its premiere last week -- more than 10 million people tuned in, according to Nielsen.

But, with Glee as its lead-in and with an overload of pre-fall-TV season hype, is New Girl a hit or just a well-publicized show with a great lead-in that a lot of people checked out...once?

Working in its favor, New Girl is a critical darling (which means lots of press coverage). And star Zooey Deschanel is adorable, er, adorkable. Want to know how I know that? Fox says so. Hey, it can't hurt. But, most important, that Glee lead-in isn't going anywhere.

Check out tonight's episode and figure it out for yourself. Me? I say it's a pretty good show and a pretty decent-sized hit for Fox.

Recap: Dancing with the Stars

Ricki Lake and Derek Hough
It was a night of fast-paced footwork with the Dancing With the Stars celebs performing either the quickstep or the jive, writes Ann Oldenburg in USA Today. Who was able to cut it - and who just couldn't keep up?

Ricki Lake's jive rocked the ballroom, thanks to Derek Hough, who danced circles around the talk show host as she shimmied in a pink spangled outfit. It was too fun for judge Len Goodman, who grumped, "I didn't like it." Bruno Tonioli said she was the first person to do the kicks correctly, adding, "You did incredibly well." Noted Carrie Ann Inaba: "Best jive of the night so far!" Ricki, who danced 7th, didn't mention how much weight she has lost, but said she has lost "12 inches in three weeks." Scores: 8, 7, 8 = 23

Preview: Dreamliner: Inside the World's Most Anticipated Plane

From CNBC: Dreamliner: Inside the World’s Most Anticipated Airplane (9pm) takes a behind-the-scenes look at aircraft manufacturer Boeing as it scrambles to deliver its long-delayed and revolutionary new airliner—the 787 Dreamliner. With significant access inside the company, CNBC Correspondent Phil LeBeau brings viewers to the factory floor and inside the executive suite to follow the high-stakes story of one of the last great American manufacturing companies.

For almost a decade, Boeing has promised the Dreamliner would revolutionize the flying experience for millions of passengers frustrated with air travel. The plane will offer more humidity in the cabin, 65% larger windows that dim when touched, a quieter interior, and lighting that gradually adjusts during a flight. With the Dreamliner, Boeing is trying to accomplish a seemingly impossible feat: making flying enjoyable again. Airline executives and analysts say the new aircraft WILL be a game changer that travelers seek out when booking a flight. But skeptics disagree, arguing it all comes down to the service a passenger receives from the airline itself. Can the Dreamliner restore the luster of flying?

Preview: Workaholics

Comedy Central's fantastic Workaholics is two episodes into its second season tonight, 10:30/9:30c. Read our review from last week here. Tonight, the guys give sober living a shot. Check out this clip.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: Terra Nova

Jason O'Mara
Take away the time traveling, the dinosaurs and the jaw-dropping computer-generated special effects, and Fox's mega-budget Terra Nova might remind you of those good-hearted family dramas that used to air on the WB, writes Mark Dawidziak in the Cleveland Plain DealerThink 7th Heaven and Everwood.

Keep that thought, because behind all the considerable fantasy sizzle and science-fiction dazzle, what we have here are loving parents, troubled-but-deep-down-decent teens, and family bonds stronger than the forces threatening to tear them apart.

Preview: The Chew

There may be nothing more conducive to having a good day than getting a little bit of what we like to call "happy TV." Sure, sometimes drama and suspense and murder and mayhem are exactly what you're looking for onTV.

But, early in the day, for us, "happy TV" can make the difference between feeling grumpy and feeling fabulous. "I can change the world!"

Today, ABC launches "happy TV" with the new daytime show, The Chew. It replaces the long-running, beloved soap, All My Children.

The Chew melds the multi-host concept of sister show, The View, with the countless cooking/food shows on television. The co-hosts are Food Network chefs Mario Batalli and Michael Symon,  nutty-funny chef Carla Hall (from Bravo's Top Chef), plus Clinton Kelly from TLC's What Not to Wear and Daphne Oz - daughter of Dr. Oz and, as ABC describes it, "health and wellness enthusiast."

Preview: Mike & Molly

Fresh off her Emmy win, and the summer's biggest box office surprise, "Bridesmaids," Melissa McCarthy (and Billy Gardell) return for a new season of Mike & Molly (CBS, 9:30pm).

In the show, McCarthy is Molly, one-half of a plus-sized couple who are fast-forwarding their way to marriage (after tiptoeing into their relationship).

It's sweet, it's funny and Swoozie Kurtz as Molly's mom is insanely funny -- over the top, nutty, sassy.

Click Read More to watch a preview of tonight's season premiere.

Preview: The Bling Ring

Jennifer Grey may be best known these days for winning Dancing with the Stars last November. But she jumps back into her acting roots tonight in Lifetime's original movie, The Bling Ring (9pm).

The movie is based on the twenty-something bandits who stole more than $3 million worth of jewelry, clothes, you name it, from celebs like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan (check out the latest news on the real case here).

Review: Hart of Dixie

Hart of Dixie’s writers clearly have never been to a hospital, writes Lori Rackl in the Chicago Sun-Times. A heartbroken Zoe (Rachel Bilson, The O.C.) leaves Manhattan to accept an elderly physician’s offer to take over his medical practice so she can work on that rusty bedside manner in the backwater town of Bluebell, Ala.

What follows is a silly, youth-oriented CW drama packaged as a fish-out-of-water yarn.

Preview: Emeril's Table

Chef Emeril Lagasse returns to television with a new cooking show on Martha Stewart's Hallmark Channel daytime block. On Emeril's Table (weekdays, 11/10c), the chef cooks for five guests.

From Hallmark Channel:

Chef Emeril Lagasse invites viewers to join a group of five special diners at the chef’s table for an intimate shared experience that includes a cooking lesson and recipes geared toward their interests. Whether they are newlyweds, moms-to-be, fire fighters or vegetarians, the guests and viewers at home will benefit from breaking bread with the renowned chef each day. As Emeril inspires and engages them, even answering some of their most burning culinary questions and food dilemmas, he’ll also share fresh, fun ideas, recipes, tips and techniques.

Preview: The Martha Stewart Show

Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart's daytime block on Hallmark Channel launches a new season on Monday with the seventh season premiere of the daytime talk/cooking/crafts show, the Martha Stewart Show (10am/9c). On today's show, Martha unveils the show's new kitchen and makes chocolate cake (ooh) with chef Kierin Baldwin.

The daytime block also includes the new Emeril's Table and the returning (and quietly fantastic) Mad Hungry with Lucinda Scala Quinn.

Martha Stewart kicks off Hallmark Channel's new Martha-helmed lineup:

10am - Martha Stewart Show
11am - Emeril's Table (NEW)
11:30am - Martha Bakes (Mondays)
11:30am - Emeril's Table (Tues-Fri)
12:noon - Mad Hungry with Lucinda Scala Quinn
12:30pm - Petkeeping with Marc Marone

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Review: Pan Am

Pan Am takes place in New York, Paris and London, and practically every scene is shot in lush, golden light, writes Alessandra Stanley in the New York Times.

The series is a paean to a more prosperous and confident era; even an airline terminal looks like a movie dream sequence about 1960s heaven.

More Reviews:

"Sparkly and highly appealing..." Los Angeles Times.

"Pan Am is great but in a totally different way than Mad Men..."

Pan Am "is a study in perfect mediocrity..." Washington Post.