January 2012 Archives
PBS's sudsy period soap Downton Abbey returned for Season 2 last night and we fell hard for this addictive upstairs/downstairs look at the goings-on in an early 20th century British manor house all over again. Granted, the season premiere was a more somber affair than much of last year, starting, as it did, in the midst of World War I. Downton's heir, Matthew Crawley is on the front lines, dug deep in the trenches at The Somme, as is the estate's former footman, the duplicitous Thomas Barrow. Back home, Matthew's mother Isobel is tending to the wounded soldiers that have been sent back from the continent and welcomes a new nurse into the hospital: the Earl of Grantham's youngest daughter, Sybil. Her sisters are asserting their independence in their own ways -- Edith is learning how to drive, while Mary tries to put her brief romance with Matthew behind her and finds a new man, newspaper magnate Richard Carlisle. As for the Abbey's staff, they're trying to deal with the loss of Lord Grantham's valet, John Bates, whose scheming wife blackmailed him into leaving the manor... and his One True Love Anna Smith. In Bates's absence, the butler Mr. Carson assumes too many responsibilities and overworks himself into exhaustion. Unfortunately for him, things are about to get even busier around the house thanks to Isobel's plan to turn Downton into a convalescence home for the returning veterans.
Normal is not a word ever really used to describe the AbFab ladies, but that's exactly what last night's reunion special felt like: normal... by their standards, at least. The ladies were up to their typical antics with Saffy shooting disparaging looks at her mother -- if it hadn't been for Bubble trying to use an iPad and jokes about Twitter and Dubstep, I would just have thought this was an ordinary lost episode, instead of the show's 20-anniversary special.
So, this episode of Saturday Night Live wasn't very good at all, a fact that revealed itself about three seconds into Charles Barkley's unintelligible monologue. I mean no disrespect to Barkley: the guy is extremely -- I'd almost say objectively -- endearing and it seemed like he was trying his best to apply his limited acting chops on each sketch handed to him. Given that this season of SNL has been uneven, an episode hosted by a person who can't carry a scene was just asking for trouble -- after all, there's only so many skits in which you can juxtapose Barkley with pint-sized Paul Brittain. Though, I've got to say, I think I've turned into a Cecil lover. Get that man some sweets!
This book and movie came out so long ago that I was still in college. So you know that it is old, but while this series is set a decade later, Mitch McDeere is still finding himself in a whole heap of trouble. You'd really think he'd have learned by now. There were elements of NBC's The Firm that I enjoyed, but those happened mostly at the bookends of the pilot while the stuff in the middle just wasn't enticing enough to convince me that this will be my next new legal addiction. I've already got The Good Wife to occupy my Sundays, and if I want more shady law firm drama, I'll just wait until Suits returns.
If you weren't particularly impressed by House of Lies' pilot episode -- what with its annoyingly exposition-heavy fourth-wall breaking, so-smirky-you-want-to-punch-them-in-the-face characters and sex scenes that try way too hard to be risqué -- trust us: it does get better. By the third episode of Showtime's newest comic serial, set in the high-powered world of management consulting, the writing has settled down somewhat and the main ensemble has developed a great rapport that helps overcome the at-times shaky material. Even then, House of Lies isn't smart or savvy enough to rank with cable's best comedies (like, say, Curb Your Enthusiasm or The League), but at least it develops into a decent half-hour diversion.
Welcome back to the Pan Am death watch. After a month off, the ABC series aired the first of its (likely) final five episodes ever, "Secrets and Lies." It was a strangely muted return, even though some pretty big things happened. For starters, Dean's ex-fiancée (and Kate's predecessor as an undercover CIA courier) Bridget returned, putting the kibosh on his fledgling romance with Colette. And speaking of Kate, the Agency finally agreed to let her go free of their clutches and return to civilian life, but at the last minute she seemed to change her mind (spy games are far more fun -- if also far more dangerous -- than simply serving drinks, after all). Elsewhere, Maggie continued her so-boring-nobody-cares romance with the pro-nukes congressman and Laura... took some pictures. That's right, it's always a thrill-a-minute ride aboard this show. No wonder it's about to get its wings clipped.
Jeez, you guys look like you're going to a funeral or something.
Here's the Situation... or actually not, since, surprisingly, his obnoxious behavior didn't even land him on the list this week. Try harder, Sitch.
VH1 has wisely decided to give Celebrity Rehab and Sober House an indefinite break. While the network claims that the shows could return at some point, it's about time that VH1 gave the Dr. Drew-led shows a rest. Maybe in a few years we'll be nostalgic for them (no we won't) and they can bring them back Fear Factor-style. Here are some other unscripted programs that could take a break for a season or two (or longer!) and then maybe come back when they've got something fresh to offer fans.
IFC is doing a serious media blitz for Season 2 of Portlandia and there's a good reason why: the Fred Armisen-Carrie Brownstein vehicle is pretty damn funny and only improving with time. Perhaps the campaign has drawn the attention of those who aren't usually fans of IFC shows or shy away from anything that looks this hipster-y. If you're amongst that crowd, I encourage you to give it a shot (new installments return tonight at 10 PM, and if you Like its Facebook page, you can even watch the full second episode for free, right now) , especially if you like, hate or have any kind of opinion on CBS' 2 Broke Girls. Here's why it's worth your time:
MOST RECENT POSTS
Warning: file(http://forums.televisionwithoutpity.com/index.php?app=core&module=global§ion=rss&type=forums&id=101) [function.file]: failed to open stream: HTTP request failed! in /var/www/mte41/mt41-blogs.televisionwithoutpity.com/telefile/2012/01/7.php on line 1328
Warning: implode() [function.implode]: Invalid arguments passed in /var/www/mte41/mt41-blogs.televisionwithoutpity.com/telefile/2012/01/7.php on line 1328
Warning: DOMDocument::loadXML() [function.DOMDocument-loadXML]: Empty string supplied as input in /var/www/mte41/mt41-blogs.televisionwithoutpity.com/telefile/2012/01/7.php on line 1330