Friday, October 14, 2011

Review: The Walking Dead

The off-season, off-camera drama that swirled around AMC's cult zombie hit The Walking Dead does not, at least in the first couple of episodes, appear to have compromised the quality of the show - David Hinckley in the New York Daily News.

Frank Darabont, show runner for the six-episode first season, was replaced this summer amid considerable consternation in the zombie blogosphere that this could drain some of the show's lifeblood.

Recap: The X Factor

[We've] reached the "Judges' House" portion of The X Factor, and this is where the show should really start to differentiate itself from its rivals, writes Laura Prudom on AOLTV.

Did it succeed? Partially. Whether any of the judges actually occupy these lavish abodes is questionable (I'm especially suspicious of Cowell), but it was a refreshing change to actually see the entirety of the contestants' performances (aside from Over 30 waiter James Kenney, who, I guess, the producers deemed too boring).

Preview: Hairy Bikers

Despite its stomach-churning title, History's Hairy Bikers (Friday, 10pm) is a food show starring a classically trained chef and a motorcycle mechanic as they travel the country in search of America's food - and its soul.

From History: Paul Patranella is a four-star, classically trained French chef who loves motorcycles. Bill Allen, a renowned motorcycle mechanic, is passionate about food. These two longtime friends know that food is the ticket to the American experience and that motorcycles are a traveling foodie’s best friend.

Preview: Our America with Lisa Ling

Oprah Winfrey's OWN cable network is starting to come together, after a decidedly (and continuing) bumpy start.

The fast-improving The Rosie Show in primetime is finding its footing. And the returing Our America with Lisa Ling - a quiet, thought-provoking documentary series - launches its second season on Sunday at 9pm with "Amateur Porn," a look into the lives of people who, literally, expose themselves to the world.

Preview: Margaret Cho - Cho Dependent

Did I just hear you groan?

I know, I know - Margaret Cho has been dragging the same, sorry jokes around the world for decades now. But, points for Drop Dead Diva, yes? On Showtime (Saturday, 10pm), Cho is in Atlanta for her Margaret Cho: Cho Dependent tour - you know, knocking the Palin family, sex stuff, Korean Mom jokes.

Preview: Craig Ferguson: Does This Need to be Said?

You've heard that expression, "You either love him or hate him," right? Well, in the case of Craig Ferguson, the host of CBS's The Late Late Show, You either really love him or you really hate him. Or, you don't know him, at all.

If you fall into the first or third category, good news. On Comedy Central this Saturday (10pm), Craig is working his standup routine - which, you may know, is kinda the only good part of The Late Late Show.

Watch a clip from Craig Ferguson: Does This Need to be Said?
Craig Ferguson - Does This Need to Be Said
JokesJoke of the DayFunny Jokes

Preview: Finding a Family

Kim Delaney
You know, there's nothing quite like getting lost in a Hallmark movie on a chilly Saturday night - a glass of wine doesn't hurt, either. On Hallmark Movie Channel (not Hallmark Channel), this Saturday at 8pm, Kim Delaney stars in Finding a Family - based on a true story.

Click Read More below to read a description from Hallmark Movie Channel. And watch the Finding a Family trailer here.

Preview: How to Make it in America

The unfamiliar could be forgiven for billing How to Make It in America (Sunday, 10:30pm) as the new Entourage. The HBO show, now in its second season, slid into Entourage’s old time slot. It also features a group of guys in a fast paced city and counts Mark Wahlberg as an executive producer.

But to HTMIIA star Bryan Greenberg, the two are as different as a red carpet and a factory floor.

“That show is about people living the dream and we’re just trying to pay our rent,” he said in recent interview with “You have a wish fulfillment show and then you have a grinding it out in real life show.”

Preview: iGenius: How Steve Jobs Changed the World

Discovery Channel remembers Apple's Steve Jobs in iGenius: How Steve Jobs Changed the World (Discovery Channel - Sunday, 8pm). The documentary is hosted by Mythbusters' Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

News: The Talk's Holly Robinson Peete to Guest Star on Mike & Molly

After being unceremoniously booted from its daytime talk show, The Talk, Holly Robinson Peete seems to have made good with the network as she’s returning in a scripted role.

A CBS spokesperson confirms to The Hollywood Reporter that Peete will appear on Mike & Molly in a multiple episode arc.

Review: Bordertown - Laredo

[Five] officers, all Mexican-American, seem to approach the job like volunteer doctors in famine-stricken and war-torn countries. They can't solve the big problem. Perhaps they can save the child in front of them, writes David Hinckley in the New York Daily News.

So Bordertown: Laredo (A&E, 10pm) gets us to focus not on some spectacular Hollywood-style bust, but on something relatively small, at least in the larger drug-smuggling picture. There's something appealing about life-sized good guys.

Watch a preview of Bordertown: Laredo here.

Preview: Wham! Bam! Islam!

Wham! Bam! Islam!
PBS's Independent Lens kicks off its tenth season tonight (10pm - check local listings) with Wham! Bam! Islam!, a documentary about the creation of - and reaction to - The 99, a comic book about a Muslim superhero.

Click Read More to watch a clip.

From PBS: In 2003, Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa — Kuwaiti psychologist, graduate of Columbia Business School and father of four young boys — had an idea: create a comic book series with roots in Islam and Islamic culture.

Preview: Selling L.A.

Despite price tags that range from, oh, $3 million to $25 million, HGTV's  Selling New York manages to rise above the "Wowks" factor to be a quietly sophisticated, endlessly interesting reality show.

Here's hoping that Selling L.A. (HGTV, 10pm) keeps that sophistication going.

From HGTV: From Beverly Hills to the Sunset Strip, Los Angeles is a place where the rich and famous live large, and everyone has a dream.

Preview: Gabriel Iglesias: Stand-Up Revolution

Hot stand-up comic Gabriel Iglesias hosts Comedy Central's Gabriel Iglesias: Stand-Up Revolution (10pm). It's pretty funny - check out a clip.

Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand-Up Revolution

Review: The Rosie Show

When The Rosie Show debuted on OWN (7pm) earlier this week, we said it was "terrible." That's true but harsh. And, in our defense, we noted that we felt confident that Rosie and her team would fix the show - which is, sorry, a clunker (and we're fans of Rosie O'Donnell).

Still, we heard from readers who said they liked The Rosie Show. And the fine folks at OWN noted that not all the reviews of The Rosie Show, like ours, suggested that it was a bomb!

News: CW Gives Full Season to Dixie, Ringer, Circle

From The CW: The network gave full season orders to its three freshmen series, Hart of Dixie, Ringer and The Secret Circle, it was announced yesterday by Mark Pedowitz, President, The CW.

“We believe in the creative strength of these dramas, and by giving them back nine orders we can give our audience the chance to enjoy complete seasons of all three of them,” said Pedowitz. “With compelling storylines, engaging characters and tremendous buzz, we firmly believe that Hart of Dixie, Ringer and The Secret Circle can become signature series for The CW, the kind of top-notch shows that are synonymous with our brand.”

Preview: Harvest

From History: Harvest (10/9c) follows three custom-harvesting crews as they dash from border to border on a six-month cannonball run, chasing crops...and millions in cash.

This year, the stakes are higher than ever as the one of history's deadliest drought and tornado seasons bears down on the heartland, killing more than 500 people and leaving behind billions of dollars in damage. As these hard-core harvesters, driving monster machines, dash from one job to the next, they are only one mistake away from losing a job--or their lives.

The clock is always ticking, and man, machine or Mother Nature could wipe them out at any moment, but like true American heroes, filled with courage and grit, they put their lives on the line every day, because they love what they do.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

News: HBO Gives Boardwalk Empire a Third Season

Steve Buscemi
From HBO: Following resounding critical approval for the series’ second-season debut on Sept. 25, HBO has renewed Boardwalk Empire for a third season, it was announced today by Michael Lombardo, president, HBO Programming.

“Following a triumphant first season, I was eager to see what Terry Winter, Martin Scorsese and the rest of their stellar team had in store, and they continue to surpass our highest expectations,” said Lombardo. “The response from the media and our viewers has been extremely gratifying.”

Stats: Last Man Standing Debuts to 13 Million

Tim Allen's return to the TV sitcom genre that made him a household name turned out to be a huge success, at least for its opening bow. On Tuesday at 8pm, 13 million people tuned into the premiere of Last Man Standing.

That makes it the most-watched 8pm sitcom premiere in seven years, according to ABC's analysis of Nielsen ratings. It was also the highest-rated 8pm sitcom debut among adults 18-49 since 2006.

Preview: Psych

The sixth season of USA's Psych premieres tonight (10/9c) with an episode titled, "Shawn Rescues Darth Vader."

From USA: While on a mission to retrieve a stolen Darth Vader collector's item from the British Ambassador's son at the British Consulate Residence in Santa Barbara, Shawn finds a dead body left in one of the rooms. In order to get the SBPD on the case to find her killer, Shawn tells Lassiter and Juliet that the image of a dead body at the British Consulate Residence came to him in a psychic vision. However, Shawn's credibility as a "psychic" could be placed in jeopardy if the SBPD finds out he actually witnessed the dead body in person and didn't "divine" the image of her murder.

Preview: Dance Moms - Most Outrageous Moments

Abby Lee Miller
Just when you thought Lifetime's insane - and insanely addictive - Dance Moms was finished until next season, well, Lifetime is no dummy - they've drummed up a special episode of the surprise reality hit.

Tonight at 10pm, Lifetime is rolling out the one-hour special, Dance Moms: Most Outrageous Moments. The show, if you haven't heard, is about Abby Lee Miller - a Pittsburgh dance instructor who trains top-tier young dancers. Abby is nuts and the center of a swirl of insanity. It's fun.

Watch a clip of Dance Moms here.

Stats: Rosie and Oprah - Decent Debuts

Rosie O'Donnell and Oprah Winfrey had respectable, not stellar, returns to television on Monday, with the premieres of The Rosie Show and Oprah's Lifeclass.

Spread across five networks the first night of the shows, which air weeknights on OWN, Rosie had an audience of 1.5 million viewers, according to OWN's analysis of Nielsen ratings. On OWN, Rosie was seen by just under 500,000 people - not a huge audience, but a 238% improvement from a year earlier.

Oprah's Lifeclass, which has Oprah imparting insights from her old daytime talk show, was seen by 1.2 million people over five networks. On OWN, its audience was 333,000 viewers - up 103% from the same time period on OWN last year.

Review: Work of Art

Bravo's Work of Art
The question is whether 14 aspiring artists and a half-dozen hosts, judges and mentors can create enough drama to keep us entertained once a week, writes David Hinckley in the New York Daily News.

This Work of Art (Bravo, 9/8c) season holds out some reasonable promise this can happen. The artists aren't a particularly loud, melodramatic or flamboyant crowd, and that's good, because once in a while even reality TV can benefit from understatement and focus on the task.

Preview: American Horror Story

Dylon McDermott
After seeing [American Horror Story's] second episode (FX, 10pm), I'm still not sure what to make of the series but at least episode two felt like a complete story, writes Rob Owen in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

In tonight's episode, viewers first see a flashback to a murder that happened in the house years ago and then a new horrific situation takes place in the home. It's scary and disturbing and at times darkly funny.

And also darkly twisted, particularly when viewers get introduced to the "Bad Girl Closet."

Recap: Dancing with the Stars

Cher in the DWTS Audience
Chynna Phillips had to endure an hour’s worth of being told she messed up and then was given the boot at the end of Week 4’s Dancing With the Stars results hour - Allyssa Lee in the Los Angeles Times.

“These things happen,” said an ever-consoling Tony Dovolani. “The thing is, she finished the routine.”
It’s too bad the Wilson Phillips singer couldn’t, ahem, hold on for one more day, because she really was an elegant dancer, and husband Billy Baldwin said he had wanted her to “stick the landing next week and wow the crowds again.”

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Stats: The Talk and The Chew -- So-So So Far

Sharon Osbourne - The Talk
Early into  the fall TV season, ABC's new daytime talk/cooking show, The Chew (ABC, 1pm), and the returning The Talk on CBS (2pm) are generating decent, if not great ratings, according to data from Nielsen.

ABC this season replaced the beloved and long-running soap, All My Children, with The Chew - with co-hosts that include chef Mario Batali. In its first week, the show averaged 2.1 million viewers, down 12%, compared to 2.4 million viewers, on average, for All My Children last season.

Preview: Republican Presidential Debate

Herman Cain’s newly energized candidacy is reshaping the Republican presidential primary race and creating a new hurdle for Texas Governor Rick Perry as he tries to catch frontrunner Mitt Romney -
Rick Perry and Mitt Romney

Those dynamics will be on display tonight (Bloomberg Television, 7pm Eastern) in a debate focused exclusively on the economy and jobs and to be held in New Hampshire, the first presidential primary election state.

A pre-debate poll of Republicans and Republican-leaning independent by Bloomberg News and the Washington Post, the debate sponsors, found that Cain, the former Godfather’s Pizza chief executive, has pulled almost even with former Massachusetts Governor Romney in appeal as an economic leader.

Recap: OWN's New Primetime Lineup

Oprah Winfrey
In hindsight, it is probably predictable that Oprah Winfrey would stumble in her move from daytime TV to her own network, which needs programming 24 hours a day - not just one hour.

Last night, Oprah's OWN network (a joint venture with Discovery) underwent its biggest overhaul, in an attempt to lure in viewers. First, Oprah's Lifeclass (8pm) - a show in which Oprah channels Maya Angelou to dispense her wisdom to the rest of us. Oprah looks back at old episodes of Oprah and tells us what she learned from each.

Review: I Used to Be Fat

You know, with Jersey Shore luring in millions of viewers each week with icky sex, drunkenness and craziness, it's easy to forget that MTV has aired some of the best documentary series ever for young people - like Made.

Its returning series, I Used to Be Fat (10pm), is in the Made mold - definitely not Jersey Shore.

Review: Last Man Standing

[Last Man Standing - ABC, 8pm is a] predictable sitcom with a stupid premise and bad acting, writes Tim Goodman in The Hollywood Reporter. Credit Tim Allen for being able to keep it afloat (and maybe even make it a hit). Shudder.

Review: Reed Between the Lines

Give credit to BET for making an effort. They've even brought in a bit of Cosby flavor, embodied by Malcolm-Jamal Warner, who played easygoing teen Theo Huxtable in the beloved classic, writes Chuck Barney in the Contra Costa Times. Here he's cast as Alex Reed, a college English professor blissfully married to Carla (Tracee Ellis Ross), a successful psychologist and mother of three. Together, they juggle their busy professional lives with their parental duties, while also making a valiant effort to keep the sexual fires burning. Cliff and Clair would approve.

Abstaining from edgy and overly broad humor, Reed Between the Lines instead takes a gentle, gimmick-free approach as it explores the dynamics of this household. Based on first impressions, it's certainly not fall-down funny, but the cast is appealing and the premise promising.

News: Roseanne Barr Lands NBC Sitcom

Roseanne Barr
Weeks after her reality show got canceled, Roseanne Barr is heading back to TV -- this time on a scripted series, according to the New York Daily News. NBC has picked up Downwardly Mobile, a multi-camera comedy about Barr's life in a mobile home park.

This marks the comedienne's return to network television since "Roseanne," which aired for nine seasons until 1997 and earned Barr an Emmy and a Golden Globe.

Preview: Women, War and Peace

Women, War & Peace (PBS, 10pm - check local listings) -- from PBS: A bold new five-part PBS television series challenging the conventional wisdom that war and peace are men’s domain.

The vast majority of today’s conflicts are not fought by nation states and their armies, but rather by informal entities: gangs and warlords using small arms and improvised weapons. The series reveals how the post-Cold War proliferation of small arms has changed the landscape of war, with women becoming primary targets and suffering unprecedented casualties.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Stats: The Talk Fans want Holly and Leah to Return

Julie Chen
When CBS's daytime talk show, The Talk, returned for its second season last month, it did so with the notable absence of co-hosts Leah Remini and Holly Robinson Peete. Sharon Osbourne returned, but only part-time. Co-host (and show creator) Sara Gilbert is back and so is Julie Chen (CBS president Les Moonves' wife).

Fans of Leah and HRP are decidedly unhappy. No, seriously unhappy.

Preview: TCM Classic Horror

Every Monday this month, Turner Classic Movies is airing Classic Horror (as in, old-old horror movies). Tonight's lineup:

8pm - The Wolf Man (1941)
9:15pm - The Uninvited (1944)
11pm - Dead of Night (1945)
1am - I Walked with a Zombie ((1943)
2:15am - Cat People (1942)
3:45am - Curse of the Cat People (1944)
5am - The Devil Bat (1940)
6:15am - Dead Men Walk (1943)

Preview: Oprah's Lifeclass

There was a moment on OWN's behind-the-scenes look at Oprah Winfrey's new show, Oprah's Lifeclass (OWN, 8pm), on Friday when one of the show's producers raises a concern with Oprah - the word "class." It sounds more like going to school (not so much fun) than sitting back and watching a talk show (fun).

Oprah thinks hard about it but decides the word fits with the show's mission - to teach viewers the lessons Oprah learned over 25 years of hosting the daytime talk show, Oprah. Sounds like school to us. On Oprah's Lifeclass, Oprah talks about old episodes of Oprah - like the time she wheeled out a barrel of fat, while she was wearing her skinny jeans.

Preview: The Rosie Show

About a year or so ago, when Oprah Winfrey's OWN network picked up Rosie O'Donnell's new talk show, The Rosie Show  (OWN, 7pm), it was billed as the next Oprah - a single-topic, sitdown show with a more serious Rosie than TV viewers loved on her old daytime talk/variety show.

It sounded like an uneasy fit, frankly: funny, controversial, loud, combative Rosie dishing out thoughtful Oprah-style life lessons. In fact, The Rosie Show is taping on the Oprah set in Chicago.

Talk shows tend to evolve and change quite a lot from the time they are annouced to the time they make it to the air. The Rosie Show is no exception -- on a preview show on Friday, it was clear that the new The Rosie Show is a lot like the old Rosie show - funny and loud with celebrities and confetti. It looks great -- we can't wait.

Review: Five

Take some celebrity directors, the Lifetime network and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and what do you get? A teary, perfectly tolerable collection of interlocking stories featuring lots of recognizable actors and two particularly well-etched segments, writes Neil Genzlinger in the New York Times.

The film, called Five (Lifetime, 9/8c) is being broadcast on Monday night and features vignettes directed by Jennifer Aniston, Alicia Keys, Demi Moore, Patty Jenkins and Penelope Spheeris Ms. Jenkins (“Monster”) and Ms. Spheeris (“Wayne’s World”) actually are directors, but, surprisingly, the pieces directed by Ms. Keys and Ms. Aniston are the strongest and most subtle.

Preview: Bored to Death

Monday’s season three premiere of HBO's Bored to Death, it's safe to say, probably won't make much of a dent in the ratings of CBS' Two and a Half Men, writes Jere Hester on But this quirk-fest, a mix of smart, neurotic neo-screwball comedy and occasional slapstick, offers what may be TV's best comic trio, if not since Moe, Larry and Curly, then since Jerry, George and Kramer.

For the uninitiated, the New York-centric show centers on Jonathan (Jason Schwartzman), a physically unimposing novelist haunted by a lost love and writer's block, who touts his services as a private detective on Craigslist.

Review: Enlightened

Enlightenment isn't easy. It's hard to achieve, hard to maintain and hard to share, writes Robert Bianco in USA Today. And the sharing is particularly tough when no one believes you've become enlightened in the first place — the problem facing Laura Dern's Amy in HBO's latest not-quite-comedy, not-quite-drama, not-quite-entertaining offering.

Still, as not-quite-there as it may sometimes be, Enlightened (HBO, 9:30pm) is interesting enough to avoid the increasingly common HBO curse of egregious self-indulgence.

Preview: Scare Tactics

Comedian and one-time Saturday Night Live regular Tracy Morgan is, of course, now starring in NBC's award-winning 30 Rock. What some people may not know is that he also hosts and produces Scare Tactics on Syfy.

It's a funny hidden camera show that revolves around people pulling scary pranks on their friends. The new season of Scare Tactics kicks off tonight (9pm), including one prank with Tracy and a mummy.

Preview: The A-List: Dallas

The Real Housewives franchise on Bravo is starting to wear thin - the D.C. version didn't even make it past season one. And the franchise's gay version on Logo, The A-List: New York, just wrapped up its brutally slow, mish-mash second season (Pt. 1 of The A-List Reunion airs tonight at 10/9c).

But, tired or not, a lot of people like these shows so, understandably, the networks keep rolling 'em out. Case in point: The A-List: Dallas debuts tonight at 11/10c on Logo.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Preview: Homeland

Showtime's new post-9/11 series, Homeland (Sunday, 10pm), with Claire Danes may just be this fall's best-reviewed new series. What do you think?

We're looking forward to the rest of the season to watch this finely drawn mystery unravel - Zap2It.

...well made and gripping... - New York Times.

One of the best new shows has sneaked onto our screens with the stealth of the espionage world it depicts - Entertainment Weekly.

Preview: The Real World of Peter Gabriel

Peter Gabriel has been an elusive figure in the world of rock music (and world music) the past couple of decades, despite a few brushes with tabloid magazine notoriety. Still, that may be for the better. He remains one of modern music's most respected musicians and, for his fans, one of the most fantastically peculiar and difficult to define.

Tonight, Smithsonian Channel (8pm), brings us up-to-date on the man, the musician and his music in The Real World of Peter Gabriel.

Preview: Making Monsters

Alice Cooper will be welcoming TV viewers to a literally larger-than-life nightmare this weekend, during a special episode of The Travel Channel's series Making Monsters (Travel Channel - Sunday, 8pm). The producers will go behind-the-scenes with the special effects team who designed the various creepy creatures and deadly devices that populate the stage during Alice's outrageous "No More Mr. Nice Guy" tour, writes Gregory Burkart on