'Tis the season for meeting TV dads, apparently.
Boobs + Christmas = Excellent Ratings
This was a hard one. Honestly, we could have probably done a TWoP 20. But the untimely demise of Pushing Daisies got us thinking about the most gut-wrenching cancellations -- the ones that we're still devastated about. And we're not talking about shows that went off the air after a nice long successful run, or shows that the writers opted not to do any more of (like Extras or Battlestar Galactica), these were shows that were unceremoniously ripped out of our hands during the midst of their all-too-brief lifespans. A cruel twist of the TV fates or TPTB who often only recognize ratings and not rare bits of genius in television form, leaving us still wanting more.
It has been far too long since Ian McShane was fronting a series. Instead he's been doing voiceover work (Coraline, Kung Fu Panda) and acting in such stellar movies as Death Race. Clearly, a fine use of his talents. Not to say that he doesn't have the perfect voice to bring an eerie lilt to animated fare, because he does. And not that he wasn't the best part of Death Race, because he was. But those of us who watched him on Deadwood, as the tough Al Swearengen, know that he can throw someone in a pig pen while rattling off a speech that Shakespeare would have loved. So we're glad that he's back on TV in Kings, a modern-day retelling of the David and Goliath story, with McShane in the juicy, slippery role of the commanding King Silas. While not a perfect series, it is a far better use of his time than any sort of Death Race sequel that might have existed. We got a chance to talk to Mr. McShane on a recent conference call about his new show (which starts on Sunday at 8 on NBC), and we're passing on the highlights to you.
I thought I'd made my peace with Deadwood being over. It ended two years ago and I was devastated by the unanswered questions and potential material still left to cover. (How the hell is the town going to change with Hearst gone, but with a new sheriff in town who doesn't want the job? Will Saul suck it up and marry Trixie already, or will he wuss out for his political gains?) I gave up on the long-promised TV movies a year ago when Al Swearengen told me that it was dead as a doornail. I was heartbroken. However, time has healed the gaping wounds that pained me more than Swearengen's knife twisting in a hooker. And while there is little else that comes close to this amazingly written and crafted show, I've learned to go on with my life. Mostly.
As The Wire comes to a close, three TV critics past and present discuss which HBO series is the best TV drama ever: Matt Zoller Seitz argues for David Milch's Deadwood, Time Out New York's Andrew Johnston for David Chase's The Sopranos, and the Star-Ledger's Alan Sepinwall for David Simon's The Wire. The podcast was recorded in a diner, so if you're listening on headphones, look out for the crashing-dishes background noise, but it's a fun eavesdrop on an argument many of us have probably had.
I've watched exactly one episode of Deadwood and didn't care about it one way or the other, so I can only speak to the other two, but I considered Sopranos the best show ever for years, and resisted watching The Wire because people tended to praise it in a way that suggested that I was bound to be disappointed. I started watching The Wire in November; I've now watched every episode except the series finale, and in my opinion it's the better show -- considerably. I still love Sopranos and always will, I defended that finale and will continue to, but I rewatched some S2 eps recently and I couldn't believe how slow they felt. Every ep of The Wire feels jam-packed with story, ten pounds of awesome in a five-pound bag.
Anyway, you can find the podcast here, or at Seitz's or Sepinwall's blogs. Feel free to step to the comments there to cast your own vote, or discuss it here on our forums.