Monday, June 28, 2010

“Mad Men” Returns for Season 4 (Photos and Video Promos)

Photos from AMC

“Man Men”, one of my favorite shows, is returning for its 4th season on Sunday, July 25th at 10 pm ET/PT on AMC. To get you ready for the new season, here are a few videos from AMC which focus on some of the key characters: Don Draper (Jon Hamm), Betty Draper (January Jones), Roger Sterling (John Slattery), Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks), Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) and Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser). I have also included a few photos from the season premiere episode, “Public Relations.”

At the end of the third season, “Putnam, Powell, Lowe” planned to sell Sterling Cooper and Don, along with some of his colleagues, break away to form the new ad agency: “Sterling, Cooper, Draper & Pryce.” Don’s marriage to Betty appears to be over and she is flying away with Henry Francis. If you love a good drama, you should not miss “Mad Men.”

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Leverage Returns to TNT June 20 with 2-Hour Event

TNT – the network that knows drama (remember, they saved “Southland” ) – will be starting season 3 of “Leverage” in its new time slot with a two-hour event on Sunday June 20, 2010 at 9:00 PM ET/8C. Back to back episodes will air, as follows:

“The Jailhouse Job” – Sunday, June 20, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT)
In order to save the life of an innocent inmate, Nate must bring down the corrupt warden of the Super-Max prison where he’s currently incarcerated and escape… whether he wants to or not. Elisabetta Canalis and Edwin Hodge (brother of LEVERAGE star Aldis Hodge) guest-star.

“The Reunion Job” – Sunday, June 20, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT)
To uncover a password, the team infiltrates the high school reunion of an amoral software magnate who’s the IT department for the Axis of Evil.

One of the stars of the show, Aldis Hodge, who plays Alec Hardison, resident computer expert and hacker, was available for questions about the show and this upcoming season. Here are a few excerpts:

When asked how Hodge avoids being the nerd on the show, Hodge responded “Because I'm a nerd in real life and I like think that I'm sort of cool. It’s a lot of, especially when it comes to TV there’s a lot of assumption that goes with playing a specific character. When your hear computers or geek or whatever you just automatically think pocket protector, glasses, not very social, always kind of clumsy. You think that kind of a - that kind of model. When it came to the pilot and when it came down to me and Dean Devlin, and John Rogers trying figure this character out, you know, we kind of wanted to throw a different spin on it because nowadays I mean computer nerds, we’re coming off kind of the shape of society but we’re not just one thing. And I don't want the audience to get what they’re already used to having and wanted to give them something different and something fresh. And it’s funny people say there’s a cool vibe there. I'm like I feel like I'm kind of dorky and corny sometimes but that’s just me. But if you all think it’s cool hey I'm thinking I'm going to keep giving it to you.

When asked about what this show is really about, Hodge explains that his “quick definition is, you know, a group of criminals who take down corporate bad guys in order to give back to those that they take advantage of. Now it may take a little figuring out but usually people end up saying Robin Hood. They usually say Robin Hood on the very first shot. But yes, you know, we are a lot of people said that of, you know, Oceans 11 with Robin Hood in there, a little A Team in there.”

“Leverage”, however, takes the “Robin Hood” theme and gives it a modern update, and Hodge’s role brings computers and technology into the mix, something of which Robin Hood couldn’t even dream.

If you need a refresher on where things left off at the end of Season 2, a short recap video is below, plus a short look at season 3. Don’t forget to tune in on Sunday June 20th for a new season of action!

“Leverage” season 2 recap

Behind the Scenes with the “Leverage” Season 3

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“Hot in Cleveland”: Typical Sitcom Fare

The sitcom is not a television genre that I like, with game shows and reality shows being at the bottom of my list. I only watched the premiere of TV Land’s “Hot In Cleveland” because I’ve lived in the Cleveland area all my life and I wanted to be sure this show was not going to trash talk the city. (OK, I also watched to see Betty White.) Since it is a sitcom my expectations were not very high, but the show did deliver a few chuckles. And it also was surprisingly respectful of Cleveland.

The series stars Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick, and is about three attractive single women from LA who are on their way to Paris for a vacation when their plane makes an emergency stop in Cleveland. During their stop they visit a local bar and are shocked to realize that the local men find them attractive, the women aren’t afraid to eat, and that real estate prices are very low. When Melanie (Bertinelli) thinks she’s found love, she leases a house, which comes with a cantankerous caretaker Elka (Betty White) and they decide to stick around. Sadly, the guy she hooks up with – a plumber who has a boat – turns out to be married.

The show is a typical sitcom – laughter cranked up in the appropriate places and dialog that requires no acting, rolling off the actors’ tongues just as if they are reading off the script. It’s nothing new. It does get some things accurate about the Cleveland area; for example, one can get beautiful, huge houses in the area for a reasonable amount and people do enjoy their food. It also gets some things wrong; for example, while we enjoy food, many DO watch what they eat, and since this is a big sports town, men don’t pay attention to women in a bar if there is some sort of sports playing on TV. But, like any sitcom, it relies on stereotypes, which may fit or not fit depending on the person viewing the show.

Betty White clearly has the best lines in the show, and the show should be grateful she’s on it. Without her, the show would be just another bad cookie-cutter sitcom.

The show is not Emmy winning material; in fact, it’s probably more suited for a high school production. Despite the show’s downsides, being a Clevelander, I feel compelled to continue to watch, even if it is to make sure they don’t diss my fair city. But, it’s a quick half hour and a nice time filler if you can’t find anything more challenging to watch, and you just make get a laugh or two that may make it worth your time.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Closer Returns on July 12, 2010

TNT has released information about season 6 of ”The Closer” (TNT) which premieres on Monday, July 12. 2010. The official release is below, and afterwards I have included TNT’s video recap of season 5, plus two promos for season 6(the quality of the promos isn’t great but it is the best I could find).

New Digs and Big Career Decisions on Tap as TNT’s THE CLOSER, Ad-Supported Cable’s #1 Series of All Time, Returns for Sixth Season Monday, July 12

A new multi-million-dollar headquarters and an internal political struggle over who will become the next police chief add a whole new set of challenges for Deputy Police Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson as TNT presents the sixth season of ad-supported cable’s #1 series of all time – THE CLOSER. Golden Globe(R) winner and four-time Emmy(R) nominee Kyra Sedgwick returns as Johnson, who heads up the LAPD’s Major Crimes Division.

THE CLOSER, which is set to launch its new season Monday, July 12, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT), features an extraordinary Screen Actors Guild Award(R)-nominated ensemble cast. The series stars Jon Tenney (Brothers & Sisters), J.K. Simmons (Juno), Corey Reynolds (The Terminal), Tony Denison (Prison Break), G.W. Bailey (M*A*S*H), Michael Paul Chan (Arrested Development), Raymond Cruz (Breaking Bad), Robert Gossett (Arlington Road) and Phillip P Keene (The DA).

As the new season of THE CLOSER opens, the squad is moving into its new high-tech digs. But it’s not long before they’re wishing they could be back in their old space, where a plain white board nailed to the wall was more practical than the troublesome sliding screens in their new murder room. But true to form, Brenda is determined to bend the space to her style.

With the LAPD on the hunt for a new chief of police, Assistant Police Chief Will Pope (Simmons) is among those in the running. Should he get the job, it could mean a promotion for Brenda. The political juggling around the office soon leads Brenda to do some career-minded soul-searching. It also has her colleague, Robbery-Homicide Commander Taylor (Gossett) smelling a possible promotion for himself, even though he can’t even seem to wrangle an office of his own in the new facility.

On the home front, Brenda’s husband, FBI Agent Fritz Howard (Tenney) has some career changes of his own in store. After turning down a promotion that would have sent him to Washington, D.C., he’s now in line for a job that could not only keep him in LA, but give him and Brenda the chance to spend a lot more time together.

This season, Brenda and her squad will tackle cases involving a sniper shooting in a posh neighborhood, a possible serial rapist who uses a stun gun to immobilize his victims and a drug-related custody battle that ends in two deaths. Meanwhile, Detective Sanchez (Cruz) will struggle to care for a young boy involved in a case the squad investigated last year. And Lt. Provenza (Bailey), Brenda’s second-in-command, will once again find himself in a professionally embarrassing situation when a one-night stand with a flight attendant leads to the discovery of a dead body in her bathtub.

Also this season, Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica) will reprise her role as Capt. Raydor, the by-the-book head of the Force Investigation Division who has butted heads with Brenda on several occasions. This time, her presence could have major implications for Brenda’s future in the department.

Since its premiere in 2005, THE CLOSER has earned numerous ad-supported cable viewership records, ranking as the #1 series of all time and scoring the #1 series telecast of all time. For its fifth season, the show averaged 7.7 million viewers.
THE CLOSER will be joined on Mondays by TNT’s newest crime drama, RIZZOLI & ISLES, starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander. The series centers on Boston Detective Jane Rizzoli and her best friend, Medical Examiner Maura Isles, characters created by novelist Tess Gerritsen. RIZZOLI & ISLES airs Mondays at 10 p.m. (ET/PT), beginning July 12.

THE CLOSER comes to TNT from The Shephard/Robin Company, in association with Warner Bros. Television. The series is executive-produced by Greer Shephard, Michael M. Robin, James Duff, Rick Wallace and Kyra Sedgwick. The show is produced by Andrew J. Sacks, and Gil Garcetti, Los Angeles district attorney from 1992 to 2000, serves as consulting producer.

TNT, one of cable’s top-rated networks, is television’s destination for drama and home to such original series as the acclaimed and highly popular detective drama The Closer, starring Kyra Sedgwick; Men of a Certain Age, with Ray Romano, Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula; Saving Grace, starring Holly Hunter; HawthoRNe, with Jada Pinkett Smith; Leverage, starring Timothy Hutton; and Dark Blue, starring Dylan McDermott; the upcoming Rizzoli & Isles, starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander; Memphis Beat, with Jason Lee; and Southland, from Emmy(R)-winning producer John Wells (ER). TNT also presents such powerful dramas as Bones, Supernatural, Las Vegas, Law & Order, CSI: NY, Cold Case and Numb3rs; broadcast premiere movies; compelling primetime specials, such as the Screen Actors Guild Awards(R); and championship sports coverage, including NASCAR and the NBA. TNT is available in high-definition.

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, creates and programs branded news, entertainment, animation and young adult media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.

Season 5 Recap

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Good Guys “Bait and Switch” Recap & Review

All photos from Fox

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch “The Good Guys” (Fox). I was a little worried that I wouldn’t like Bradley Whitford in another show that was so far removed from his role on “The West Wing.” But the fact that I always liked Bradley Whitford in “The West Wing” was what eventually compelled me to watch “The Good Guys” and I was not disappointed.

Whitford plays a Dallas, Texas cop, Dan Stark, who is partnered with a much younger detective, Jack Bailey, played by Colin Hanks. (Colin is the son of actor Tom Hanks.) Whitford steals the show, with a thoroughly enjoyable portrayal of the seasoned cop. (Personally, I found it even more enjoyable because Whitford closely resembled a guy I used to work for, down to the mustache and receding hairline, and who was also from Texas, but he was very straight-laced, not at all like Dan Stark.)

Jack and Dan are investigating what seems to be a simple case of vandalism – a rock thrown through the window of the home of two attractive girls. Dan recreates the scene by laying in bed with one of the girls and notices that the street light was also broken. He realizes that it was the light they were really aiming for. When he finds a vintage car was stolen in the area, he is able to make the connection that someone is actively stealing vintage cars. When they can’t get approval from Kiersten (Lauren Stamile) to get more resources to set up a sting, Dan sacrifices his own Trans-Am, using it as bait.

All their plans go wrong when their attempt to track the car using the ankle monitor on Julius (RonReaco Lee) - who is hiding in the trunk of the car – flops. But Julius, who escaped the car, knows where the car was taken and they all go to a warehouse and see several vintage cars in storage. When they get the license numbers and head back to the precinct, they confirm the cars have all be stolen.

But there is a wrinkle – it seems Kiersten is in on the stolen car ring, and she’s helping out the car thief, Nigel, who is played by Steve Valentine. There must be something in Valentine’s contract that says he must play a person named Nigel in every show he’s in, because I think he’s been in several shows playing characters of that name.

When Jack gets captured by Kiersten it looks like Nigel is going to kill him but of course Dan comes in and saves the day, and he saves his beloved Trans Am.

It’s not so much the case but the way they tell the story that is entertaining. They use flashbacks – sometimes only flashing back a few minutes – to tell the story as to how each character reached each point in the story. It’s a fun way to see the story unfold. But Whitford IS the show with his portrayal of Dan Stark. He’s fun, he’s over the top, he’s the perfect balance to the dry and dull Colin Hanks. “The Good Guys” is good fun and should be a part of everyone's summer viewing schedule.

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Lie to Me “Beat the Devil” Recap & Review

Photo from Fox

Lie To Me (Fox) returned for a new season with the same cast and interesting cases – one involving a UFO, the other, a serial killer. It made for a very enjoyable episode, with Tim Roth doing an excellent job as the human lie detector, Dr. Cal Lightman.

Lightman lectures for a college class at the request of one of his own teachers, Helen Dezekis (Rowena King), who Cal also had a relationship with when he was her student. During the lecture, one of the current students - Martin Walker (Jason Dohring) poses a question to Lightman, disagreeing with his methods. Lightman essentially challenges him to a dual of sorts – saying he can spot when Walker is lying. When Lightman loses his bet, he realizes that Walker is a psychopath. Lightman makes his concerns known to the school, saying that he bets they have at least one missing student case – they do - and Lightman works to pin it on Walker. Lightman’s trusty sidekick, Dr. Gillian Foster (Kelli Williams) doesn’t spot the warning signs with Walker, thinking Lightman is just rattled because he once had a relationship with Dezekis and knows that Walker is currently having a relationship with her as well.

Meanwhile, back at the offices of the Lightman Group, Eli Locker (Brendan Hines) and Ria Torres (Monica Raymond) are working to clear the reputation of a science teacher, Sam Hendricks (Howard Hesseman) who insists he saw a UFO. This case isn’t quite as compelling – frankly I find Torres annoying - but they both work the case and manage to clear the teacher, obtaining an acceptable answer from the military on what Hendricks saw (and that one of his student had captured video) in order to save Hendricks' job. But the acceptable answer is really a lie – it was crafted well enough to be believable for the teacher’s school, and allowed the military to keep their secret about whatever the UFO really was (if they even knew what it was).

Lightman continues to play cat-and-mouse with Walker posting photos of him around the campus and even trying to get personal information about him from his mother. Walker seems unflappable even when Lightman has him under the glare of the lights in the interview room at the Lightman Group. They also find that Walker had a sister who drowned at a young age, and Lightman thinks that it was at Walker’s hands. When Dezekis tells Walker their relationship is over – an action planned by Lightman – Walker doesn’t take it well and it seems they believe that Walker will go after Dezekis. They have Walker wired and under surveillance, but it’s Lightman who gets captured by Walker, who tortures Lightman by waterboarding. Later, when Walker has Lightman digging his own grave, Lightman gets him to admit he killed his sister and that bodies of other girls are nearby, and the police pounce. Clearly Walker didn't realize that Lightman planned for Walker to go after him, and Lightman was under surveillance.

Afterwards, when Lightman asks Foster out for a bite to eat, she blows him off in order to do paperwork. These two have the strangest relationship, with Foster being the one who seems to blow flaming hot one week and icy cold the next. If there is any big flaw with “Lie to Me” it’s the relationship between these two. I don’t see any chemistry and I don’t have any interest in them getting together in any shape or form. Besides, it’s a plot device that gets overused and I’d rather they’d either put them in a relationship, or just call it quits with the two of them. I don’t want to go through an on-again, off-again thing with these two every week, when I’m not interested in them being together to begin with.

”Lie To Me” is just different enough than other crime-drama type shows that it makes for an interesting hour. Tim Roth grows on me every week – although sometimes I still can’t understand every word he is saying. Still, he is perfect for this role and he creates an interesting character that viewers want to know more about. I’m glad the show is back for the summer.

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Friday, June 4, 2010

Royal Pains “Spasticity” Recap & Review

Photo from USA Network

Summer “lite” TV viewing returns with ”Royal Pains”(USA Network). The same cast is back, and thankfully there was a short recap before the show began to remind viewers what transpired last season. Dr. Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) finds that his brother Evan (Paulo Costanzo) has placed HankMed in dire financial straits by trusting their estranged father, Fonzie – er, I mean Eddie Lawson, played by Henry Winkler. Meanwhile, Divya (Reshma Shetty) is dealing with the fact that she’s engaged (it’s an arranged marriage). Jill Casey (Jill Flint) is now having problems at Hamptons Heritage Hospital when Dr. Elizabeth Blair (Marcia Gay Harden), who is also on the board of the hospital, wants to oust Casey for what Blair sees as bad judgment on Casey’s part. Jill also announces that she’s sent her now ex-husband packing and signed the divorce papers. And rich-guy Boris (Campbell Scott) gets a little pissy with Hank when he doesn’t seem to think Hank is handling his case with the proper attention and care.

Of course, there has to be a patient of the week, and in this episode, we get a guy called “Spencer the Spaz" who is a well known klutzy infomercial actor. Because this show seems to hinge on rich people AND rich people being a little stupid or clueless, Hank and his team have to save Spencer from himself several times before Hank is able to deduce that part of Spencer’s problem goes back to exposure to mercury. Like the other well-known medical TV series House(Fox), I don’t care about the patients too much because they seem to only serve as a backdrop to advancing the stories of the regular characters.

The episode centers on making amends. Hank convinces Boris he is committed to solving his medical problem and wants to be the “quarterback” for Boris' medical case and work with all Boris’ previous doctors to get a “big picture” look at his illness. Boris gives Hank the contact information for his first doctor on the case – Dr. Asseras in Cuba - and she has some connection to the Cuban roses in Boris’ rose garden. Evan wants to make amends with Hank for Evan's trusting their father with so much of their money, which he appears to have lost. Evan gets disappointed when his father seems to ditch him at a New York City hotel, and Hank is only more upset with Evan that Evan really thinks his father will repay them. With a little nudging from Divya to meet Hank halfway in making peace, Evan sells his prized sports car in order to pay back the debt. Hank seems to soften a bit, but at the end of the episode, when he and Evan are tossing around a football, it is clear that Hank is still stinging a bit. They all get a surprise when they get back to the house and find that their father Eddie is already there, and he has a big check to repay them. Hank hands the money to Evan and then Hank punches his father.

Just because I think this show is “lite” summer television doesn’t mean that this show is not entertaining. The cast has great chemistry and, for the most part, the characters are interesting. The only character that seems a little flat is Jill Casey, who seems to be all over the place. Her relationship with Hank is not very well defined and I find that I am not interested in whether they get together or not. The relationship that seems to be more compelling is Evan and Divya, with Divya announcing she will be getting married in 60 days and moving to London. I figure they will run this storyline out to the end of the season. Hopefully, Evan will continue in his “growing up” process, but not so much to the point that he becomes dull and boring. We already have that with Hank, who seems to be too squeaky clean and nice. I would be nice to see Hank with some sort of weakness or secret that can give his character some depth, because he seems a little too perfect right now, and perfect can get boring.

”Royal Pains” is not deep, dark, heavy drama, but it is an engaging series that mixes fun with drama, a combination that make for great viewing when you just want to sit back and relax. If you missed last season, don’t worry, there are no complicated story lines that will make you feel lost if you start watching now. So if you are looking for a cure to the summer TV doldrums, ”Royal Pains” may be the cure.

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