Saturday, January 14, 2012

Review: The Fades

Skillfully Made Horror Series Debuts Tonight

Created by Jack Thorne (British versions of Skins and Shameless), [The Fades - BBC America, 9pm] is a six-part horror series skillfully crosses "Superbad" with "The Sixth Sense" and just a drop of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's a funny, creepy, touching thriller that had me laughing one second and peeking between my fingers the next.

Friday, January 13, 2012

5Qs on Friday: Chris D'Elia

Whitney Co-Star is a Guy in the Year of the Female Comedy

NBC's Whitney (Wednesday, 8pm) got a lukewarm reception from critics when it debuted earlier this season. But, the great and funny comedy with Whitney Cummings and Chris D'Elia may just have the last laugh. The show is getting funnier and looser as the season goes on.

It's a romance, but with standup comedians delivering sardonic wit right alongside lovey-dovey stuff. The show's storylines revolve around friendships, awkward family relationships, and the genuine fondness they have for one another, all in a really cool apartment. Co-star Chris D'Elia, a standup comic best known for TBS' Glory Daze, spoke with TVFirstLook about the show, working standup and the 80s' vibe.

TVFirstLook: So, this is the year of the female comedy. How does it feel to be a guy on one of those shows?

Preview: The 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards

The Globes Dish Out the Best in TV and Movies
Ricky Gervais

The 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards, from the mysterious Hollywood Foreign Press Association, hand out their annual awards this Sunday (NBC, 8pm Eastern - live). The Globes set the stage for the Academy Awards, of course.

But, way more important than that, the show is hosted by the love-him-or-can't-stand-'im Ricky Gervais. And, even more important than that, the celebs will be boozing it up at their tables, so God only knows what's going to go down.

Preview: One Life to Live Finale

The View Bids a Fond Farewell to One Life to Live
Erika Slezak

The hosts of The View will commemorate One Life to Live with a special one-hour theme show, Friday (11am), hours before the show’s final broadcast.

The View Salutes One Life to Live will celebrate 43 years of love, passion, drama and intrigue of the generations of families from fictional Llanview, Penn. Erika Slezak (Viki Lord), the most honored actress in daytime television, the recipient of six Daytime Emmy Awards, will serve as the show’s featured guest co-host. Legendary creator Agnes Nixon is scheduled to appear.

Preview: The Graham Norton Show

Madonna the Director Talks About W.E.
photo: BBC America

Graham checks a huge name off his guest wish list, as the one and only Madonna makes her Graham Norton debut (Saturday, 10:45pm).

The Material Girl will be joined by Andrea Risenborough and James D’Arcy, the lead actors of her new Wallis Simpson movie W.E. Scottish soul singer Emeli SandĂ© — Simon Cowell counts himself as a massive fan — performs.

Stats: TV Ratings Recap

Fiesta Bowl
Football Dominates Nielsens for Week of Jan. 2-8

There may be no happier sound for broadcast and cable TV networks than the cheering crowds at NFL and college football games. The new year started off with gigantic audiences for football, pretty much dominating every TV platform, according to Nielsen.

Preview: A Taste of Romance

Teri Polo Stars in Hallmark Channel Romance

A Taste of Romance (Hallmark Channel - Saturday, 8pm) - Uptight French chef Sara Westbrook (Teri Polo) gets fired up when her upscale café, Chez Varenne, is suddenly overshadowed by a new restaurant moving in next door run by a group of rowdy firemen.

Led by handsome former fire fighter Gill Callahan (James Patrick Stuart) and his friend Danny (Rockmond Dunbar), The Five Alarm Grill is soon a big success while Sara and Patsy (Romy Rosemont), her pastry chef, struggle to bring in customers.

Preview: Frenemies

Disney Channel Movie with Shake It Up Starlets
Washington Post

A new Disney Channel movie called Frenemies debuts Friday night (8pm), casting real-life fashion fans and best buds Bella Thorne and Zendaya as style watchers who want to turn their blog Geekly Chic into a magazine. Of course, their friendship is put to the test when they have to compete for the editor job.

Review: Napoleon Dynamite

OK Movie is Not an OK Sitcom

Though the creators of Napoleon Dynamite (Fox - Sunday, 8:30pm), Jared and Jerusha Hess, believe that the movie was essentially a three-dimensional cartoon to begin with, animating it doesn't actually make it better (or even funny), even if you bring back the original cast to do the voice work. That's partly because Napoleon Dynamite already was an acquired taste.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

News: Madonna on Nightline

Madonna Talks Super Bowl and Scandal

Madonna sits down with Cynthia McFadden on tonight's Nightline (ABC, 11:35pm) to talk about her new music, her upcoming half-time show on the Super Bowl and her past scandals.

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Review: Rob!

Amusing Sitcom with a Strained Premise
Claudia Bassols, Rob Schneider

Rob Schneider, best known for his stint on Saturday Night Live and countless bit parts in Adam Sandler movies, is a likeable, goofy, peculiar guy - just like Rob, the character he plays in his new sitcom of the same name (situated in CBS's sweet spot - at 8:30pm tonight, right after The Big Bang Theory).

Rob! kicks off with a few premises, none of which is especially funny. Rob has OCD. Rob is married to a Mexican woman, Maggie (Claudia Bassols), who he met only weeks earlier. And Rob is short.

Review: The Finder

Bones Spin-Off About a Guy Who Can Find Anything
Boston Globe

The series comes from Bones' creator Hart Hanson, and The Finder (Fox, 9pm) operates in the same universe as Booth, Brennan and the gang, having originated as a backdoor pilot from that show.

Everything about The Finder is perfectly serviceable, right down to the cranky guy with a gift who solves the puzzle in the final act. It’s the type of PI procedural that seems more suited to the USA network, where Sherman would’ve fit right in with Florida neighbor Michael Westen of Burn Notice or the title character of Monk.

Preview: 30 Rock

30 Rock Finally Returns for Season Six
Lansing State Journal

In a year when female-driven comedy has thrived, 30 Rock (NBC, 8pm) has been on the shelf. For five straight years, it has drawn an Emmy nomination for best comedy series, winning three times; now - after pausing for Tina Fey's maternity leave - the sixth season begins.

Jenna (Jane Krakowski) gets attention as the hateful judge on America's Kidz Got Singing; Tracy (Tracy Morgan) is jealous of that, but can't seem to aggravate Liz.

Review: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

West Memphis Three Profiled in New Doc

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (HBO, 9pm) is the third documentary that filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky have made about the West Memphis Three. These young men — Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley — are shown being railroaded into the conviction for the murder of three little boys killed in 1993 in West Memphis, Ark. You don't have to have seen the other two films (made in 1996 and 2000) to become engrossed in this true-crime story.

Review: Have You Heard from Johannesburg?

The Fight to End Apartheid
Los Angeles Times

Have You Heard from Johannesburg? (PBS, 9pm) moves fast and stays gripping — I watched it all at a single sitting and never felt impelled to skip ahead or turn away.

Its several hours do not seem a minute too many: It records a long, long trip, from the legal enshrinement of racism in 1948 to the free elections of 1994, and details a movement whose scope was global and whose every tributary might make a film in itself.

Preview: Critics' Choice Movie Awards

Martin Scorsese and Bob Dylan Get Props on the 17th Annual CCMA

The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) has announced that Leonardo DiCaprio and Olivia Harrison will present Hugo director Martin Scorsese with the Critics’ Choice Music+Film Award, in addition to a special musical tribute from Bob Dylan at the 17th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards.

Hosted by comedians Paul Scheer and Rob Huebel, the show will air live for the fifth straight year on VH1 from the Hollywood Palladium (8pm).

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Preview: People's Choice Awards 2012

Kaley Cuoco
Kaley Cuoco Hosts 38th Annual People's Choice Awards

With more than 230 million votes logged on to, the 38th Annual Peoople's Choice Awards (CBS, 9pm) hands out awards for music, movies and TV. Tonight, live from from the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles.

The Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco hosts, with a slew of performers, including country singer Faith Hill.

Review: Are You There, Chelsea?

Laura Prepon is Chelsea Handler in Generic Comedy

Chelsea Handler is an acquired taste, but there's no particular taste that has to be acquired for this largely generic chickcom.

You've seen it all before, and in fact if you're a 2 Broke Girls fan, you saw it just this past Monday. With a laser focus on the male sex organ and the various double entendres and puns that refer to it, [Are You There, Chelsea - NBC, 8:30pm] faithfully services Handler's literary output -- or as faithfully as frayed network standards still allow.

Preview: Face Off

Syfy's Makeup Artist Competition Returns Tonight

Last season we got to watch some incredibly talented makeup artists battle it out on Syfy's reality show Face Off (Syfy, 10pm). Well, the show is back with a brand new season and it's got a whole new crop of body painters, special effects artists and wild personalities.

We've seen the first episode of the show and there is drama from the very first second. This promises to be an epic season. The first week, the competitors are split into two teams. The twist? It's men versus women.

Preview: True Life

MTV Puts a Spotlight on Chubby Chasers

MTV's great and long-running documentary series, True Life, profiles chubby chasers on True Life: I'm a Chubby Chaser. Tonight, 9pm. Click Read More below to watch clip.

Preview: Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy

Comedian Larry the Cable Guy Looks for America
Larry the Cable Guy

This season [on Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy - History, 9pm], the blue-collar comedian and his faithful television crew are on a coast-to-coast road trip hunting down all the things that make this country great—the people, the places and everything that makes you say, “Only in America!”

Whether learning moose mating calls in Alaska, pursuing a mythical beast with the Kentucky Bigfoot Research Group, interning with the infamous "Naked Cowboy" in Times Square or struggling through Army sniper school, each of Larry’s adventures shows that great things can exist in unexpected places.

Preview: Out of Character with Krista Smith

Krista Smith, Gwyneth Paltrow
Vanity Fair Editor Sits Down with Celebs

Vanity Fair's West Coast editor, Krista Smith, interviews celebrities in a one-hour USA special, Out of Character with Krista Smith (11pm). She speaks with actress Gwyneth Paltrow, designer Jason Wu and Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane.

Preview: Bombing Hitler's Dams

Daring WWII Attack on Hitler's Germany

Nova: Bombing Hitler's Dams (PBS, 9pm) - In 1943 a squadron of Lancaster bombers staged one of the most audacious raids in military history: destroying two gigantic dams in Germany’s industrial heartland and cutting the water supply to arms factories.

Their secret weapon? A revolutionary bouncing bomb invented by British engineer Barnes Wallis. Wallis and the pilots of 617 Squadron—a lively mix of Britons, Australians, Americans, and Canadians—were hailed as heroes who dealt a mighty blow to the German war machine.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Stats: 1.6 Million People Watch Oprah's Next Chapter

Encouraging OWN Ratings at Long Last

OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network scored its highest ratings ever with the second episode of Oprah Winfrey’s new primetime series Oprah’s Next Chapter on Sunday, Jan. 8 (9pm).

The episode, which featured a revealing interview with “America’s Pastor” Joel Osteen at his home in Houston, Texas, garnered 1.6 million total viewers and a 1.3 rating in the key women 25-54 demo, ranking #3 in its time period among ad-supported cable networks.

Review: Dance Moms

Abby Lee Miller is One of TV's Great Characters
Abby Lee Miller

No matter what you think of Abby Lee Miller, she's one of the most memorable characters to pop up on TV in a long, long time. Abby, a dance teacher in Pittsburgh, is loud, angry, big and scary - so scary it's hard to imagine being one of her young students.

Abby is the star of Lifetime's Dance Moms, which kicks off its second season tonight at 9pm.

Review: 24 Hour Catwalk

Stumbling Off the Catwalk

Lifetime's new fashion show, 24 Hour Catwalk (10pm), surely sounded good in its pitch meeting - Project Runway meets Food Network's Chopped. Four aspiring designers compete for a grand prize. They're chipped down to two designers who have 24 hours to complete a fashion line.

But, much like the gigantic shoes that are barely lifted off the ground by host Alexa Chung's spindly legs, 24 Hour Catwalk might sound like a good idea. But, in execution, it's a disaster.

Preview: Hidden City

Travel Channel Explores the Dark Side of San Francisco

Marcus Sakey examines the infamous murder of Harvey Milk, rides along with the San Jose police to uncover the fear and greed which created the Vigilance Committee during the gold rush, and gets inside the mind of the Zodiac killer.

Travel Channel's Hidden City, tonight at 9pm.

Preview: Tabatha Takes Over

Bravo's Tabatha Takes Over Everything
Windy City Times

Our favorite lesbian hairdresser from Queensland, Australia, is back with a new season on the Bravo Channel. Tabatha Coffey returns to reality television. This time, she just doesn't take over salons but small businesses from a yogurt shop to a bed-and-breakfast.

Being executive producer to the newly renamed show (Tabatha Takes Over - Bravo, 10pm) and running her own salon in New Jersey keeps Coffey one to watch.

Preview: Shipping Wars

On-the-Job Show About Guys Hauling Stuff

Each episode of Shipping Wars (A&E, 9pm) dives into the cutthroat world of these heavy-duty movers as they battle for the chance to transport the unshippable. The competition begins with uShip, the world’s largest online auction house for independent truckers. Every day, thousands of shipments are put up for auction.

The battle is fierce as the movers have only minutes to bid, and the lowest bidder gets the load. From oversized loads and bulky packages to the truly bizarre, these shippers will haul anything if the price is right. The high-stakes race is on as they set out to deliver the loads in time, and any setback can cost big bucks.

Preview: The Game

BET Sitcom Returns for Season Five
Sister 2 Sister

Brandy, whose recent return to acting includes a recurring role on last season’s Drop Dead Diva, the current season of 90210 and the upcoming season of BET’s The Game (tonight, 10pm), offered some info on her character on the hit sitcom, Chardonnay.

“She is a strong Black woman. She knows exactly what she wants. She’s feisty, sassy, and she has this dream, and that’s why she’s bartending and has her hustles on the side, just to get to that particular dream that will be revealed on the season,” Brandy said.

Review: Billy the Kid

American Outlaw is More Interesting in Myth than in Fact
Deseret News

In PBS’ American Experience Presents Billy the Kid (8pm), viewers learn the real story of Billy the Kid.
Filmmaker John Maggio has crafted an elegy to Billy the Kid by turning to little-known scholars and writers for this by-the-numbers, talking-heads documentary.

It's a tedious program, only of interest to diehard Wild West enthusiasts with a particular interest in notorious gunmen.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Review: First Week In

Discovery Channel Focuses on Inmates' First Days Behind Bars

If Discovery Channel's new First Week In (9pm) serves any greater pupose than providing a somewhat entertaining hour of TV, it's as a reminder that, in case you have doubts, you don't want to go to jail.

Unlike other shows about prison life, like MSNBC's Lock Up (from the same team that produces First Week In), which mostly focuses on prison culture, this show zeroes in on the most frightening aspect of going to jail - your first time in the slammer.

Preview: America's Money Class with Suze Orman

Financial Advice and a Chance to Win $50,000

Suze Orman is the most recognizable name in the personal finance biz.

She's been writing books about it for decades and hosting CNBC's Suze Orman Show for more than a decade. Suze, who spoke to TVFirstLook for an exclusive 5Qs on Friday Q&A, is kicking off a new show tonight, America's Money Class with Suze Orman (OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, 9pm).

Preview: BCS Championship Game

College Bowl Championship Series Pits Alabama Against LSU
Trent Richardson

It's the rematch everybody has been talking about since Nov. 5 when LSU squeaked past Alabama 9-6 in OT. The rest of the country might not be overly thrilled, but it's going to be one big SEC party in New Orleans on Jan. 9 (BCS Championship Game - ESPN, 8:30pm) with the two best defensive teams in college football slugging it out one more time.

Review: Caged

MTV Doc Series Profiles Aspiring MMA Fighters
Media Life Magazine

By focusing on a few amateur fighters and their girlfriends, [Caged - MTV, 10pm] provides some real human interest and sociological insights.

Although some of the scenes look like outtakes from the channel’s popular docuseries Teen Mom, the athletic angle adds a little suspense and cathartic violence. The subjects come off as real people, a rare thing in reality TV.

Preview: House of Anubis

Nickelodeon's Telenovela-Style Mystery Returns
Nathalia Ramos

Nickelodeon’s live-action telenovela-style series, House of Anubis, returns for season two (45 new half-hours) beginning Monday, Jan. 9, at 7pm.

House of Anubis follows a group of students who uncover and solve hidden mysteries at an English boarding school while dealing with the highs and lows of their teenage years. In season two, a new mystery unfolds as Nina (played by Nathalia Ramos) and her friends return for their second year at Anubis House.

Preview: The Baghdad Job: Iraq's Missing Billions

Saddam Hussein's Billions of Dollars Goes Missing

The Baghdad Job: Iraq's Missing Billions (CNBC, 9pm) - Beginning in the earliest days of the war in Iraq, the New York Federal Reserve in New Jersey shipped billions of dollars in physical cash to Baghdad.

The money came from Saddam Hussein’s assets frozen under global sanctions regimes and was sent to help restart the government and restore basic services.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Preview: The Firm

The John Grisham Reboot that Critics Love to Hate
Washington Post

TV critics tore apart NBC’s reboot of The Firm (Sunday, 9pm) at Winter TV Press Tour 2012.

The series continues the story from John Grisham’s book of same name, which was made into a Tom Cruise flick about hot shot lawyer Mitchell McDeere, who goes to work for the practically perfect law firm, only after which he discovers its mob ties.