Friday, July 30, 2010

TNT Renews The Closer, Rizzoli & Isles, Leverage

Here’s the official press release from Turner Newsroom on the renewal of ”The Closer”, Rizzoli & Isles , and Leverage.

Release Date: 7/30/2010

TNT Orders New Seasons of Three Hit Series: The Closer, Rizzoli & Isles and Leverage

TNT has ordered new seasons of three of the network’s hit series. The Closer, which continues to rank as ad-supported cable’s #1 series of all time, will return for its seventh season. Rizzoli & Isles, which currently ranks as cable’s #1 new series for the year-to-date, will return for a second season. Leverage, which is performing exceptionally well in its new Sunday timeslot, will be back for a fourth season. TNT has ordered 15 episodes each of The Closer and Leverage, along with 13 episodes of Rizzoli & Isles, with all three slated to start their new seasons in 2011.

“TNT has enjoyed tremendous success on Sunday and Monday nights with Leverage, The Closer and Rizzoli & Isles,” said Michael Wright, executive vice president and head of programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies (TCM). “All three shows feature terrific casts, sharp writing and top-notch production teams. We look forward to continued success with new seasons in 2011.”

The Closer
The Closer, which is enjoying growth this year as it continues to rank as ad-supported cable’s #1 series of all time, stars Golden Globe® winner and current Emmy® nominee Kyra Sedgwick as Deputy Police Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, head of the LAPD’s Major Crimes unit. Through the show’s first five seasons, Sedgwick has garnered five Emmy nominations and five SAG Award® nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. The show has also earned three SAG Award nominations for Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series for Sedgwick, Corey Reynolds, G.W. Bailey, Tony Denison, Raymond Cruz, Michael Paul Chan and Phillip P. Keene, as well as Jon Tenney, J.K. Simmons and Robert Gossett.

The Closer is averaging 7.1 million viewers in its sixth season, up 7% compared to last season. The July 12 season premiere was watched by 7.7 million viewers and ranks as ad-supported cable’s top scripted series telecast for the year-to-date.

The Closer is produced for TNT by The Shephard/Robin Company, in association with Warner Bros. Television. The series was created by James Duff, who serves as executive producer with Greer Shephard, Michael M. Robin, Rick Wallace and Kyra Sedgwick.

Rizzoli & Isles
Rizzoli & Isles, which is based on the crime novels by best-selling author Tess Gerritsen, stars Angie Harmon (Law & Order) as Boston detective Jane Rizzoli and Sasha Alexander (NCIS) as medical examiner Maura Isles. These two close friends – and complete opposites – work together to solve crimes and bust some of Boston’s most notorious criminals. Lorraine Bracco co-stars as Jane’s demanding and intrusive mother. Rizzoli & Isles also stars Lee Thompson Young, Bruce McGill and Jordan Bridges.

With 7.1 million viewers, Rizzoli & Isles currently ranks as cable’s #1 new series for the year-to-date. The July 12 premiere of Rizzoli & Isles was watched by 7.6 million viewers and holds the record as cable’s #1 commercial-supported series launch of all time.

Rizzoli & Isles is produced for TNT by Warner Horizon Television, Janet Tamaro’s Hurdler Productions and Bill Haber’s Ostar Productions. Tamaro (Bones, Lost) and Haber (TNT’s Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King, TCM’s upcoming Moguls and Movie Stars: A History of Hollywood) serve as executive producers, along with Joel Fields (Ugly Betty). Michael M. Robin (TNT’s The Closer) is a consulting producer.

Leverage stars Academy Award® winner Timothy Hutton (Ordinary People), Gina Bellman (Coupling), Christian Kane (TNT’s Into the West), Beth Riesgraf (Alvin and the Chipmunks) and Aldis Hodge (Friday Night Lights). The fast-paced series follows the adventures of a highly skilled team out to settle scores against those who use power and wealth to victimize others.

Leverage is currently averaging 4.1 million viewers in its third season, showing growth among young adult demos when compared to the second season. The series boasts a loyal following, as indicated by its strong performance in time-shifted viewing. For the first five episodes this summer, Leverage has grown its total audience by 60% when compared to live viewing (33% compared to Live + Same Day). The growth is particularly strong among key demos, with adults 18-34 rising 101% vs. Live (45% vs. Live + Same Day); adults 18-49 up 77% vs. Live (41% vs. Live + Same Day); and adults 25-54 rising 72% vs. Live (39% vs. Live + Same Day).

Leverage is executive-produced by Dean Devlin (Independence Day, TNT’s The Librarian trilogy) and creators John Rogers (Transformers) and Chris Downey (The King of Queens). The series is produced for TNT by Devlin’s Electric Entertainment.

Artwork for each series is available for download from the Image page on TNT’s online pressroom:

About TNT
TNT, one of cable’s top-rated networks, is television’s destination for drama. Seen in 99.6 million households, the network is home to such original series as The Closer, starring Kyra Sedgwick; Rizzoli & Isles, starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander; Leverage, starring Timothy Hutton; HawthoRNe, with Jada Pinkett Smith; Memphis Beat, with Jason Lee; Dark Blue, starring Dylan McDermott; Men of a Certain Age, with Ray Romano, Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula; and Southland, from Emmy®-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®; and championship sports coverage, including NASCAR and the NBA. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament will appear on TNT beginning in 2011. 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

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Royal Pains “The Hankover” Recap & Review

Photo from NBCU

Light, no-brain-required summer television excels in the form of ”Royal Pains”(USA Network). which frequently asks viewers to suspend belief at how easy it is to get medical treatment and a diagnosis in the Hamptons. Well, that’s as long as one has Hank Med. But don’t take the fact that you don’t need to engage your brain when watching “Royal Pains” to mean that the show isn’t funny and engaging, because it is. The show’s lead cast - Mark Feuerstein, Paulo Costanzo, and Reshma Shetty have great chemistry which helps to keep viewer interest.

The episode “The Hankover” brings us closer to Divya’s (Reshma Shetty) wedding day. The episode opens with a peek into the future – and Hank (Mark Feuerstein) seems to have scored with his competing concierge Dr. Emily Peck (Anastasia Griffith); Evan (Paulo Costanzo) thinks he’s accidentally killed Divya’s fiancĂ©, Raj (Rupak Ginn) by pushing him off the balcony; Jill (Jill Flynt ) and Divya wake up in the back of a taxi, sporting new tattoos. Before we can ask “what happened here?” the episode moves back 24 hours.

The trip back 24 hours shows that not all we see in the first minutes of the show are what they seem. Hank gets two patients – one who is a former classmate who bullied Hank, Ken Keller (Michael B. Silver), and another, who goes by the name of “Karma” who is a pole dancer. While both characters arrive as patients – Keller with an apparent sinus problem and Karma with a dislocated shoulder – they come back into the story at an impromptu bachelor party that Evan throws for Raj. Evan’s intention is to expose Raj as a potential philanderer and not the best mate for Divya.

Meanwhile, Divya and Jill are at a formal tea given in Divya’s honor, with her mother and sister present. Later, when it is exposed that Divya’s sister is cheating on her husband in order to cope with her own arranged marriage, Divya starts to have doubts about her impending marriage to Raj. She and Jill decide to go out and party, bringing with them a taxi driver named Aristotle (Bill Bellamy) who takes them to all the hot places. Later, when Divya and Jill have fallen asleep in the back of the cab after a night of drinking, they find Aristotle is out cold in a diabetic coma and have him rushed to the hospital.

The real action, though, is at Boris’s mansion, where Evan's small bachelor party has turned into a big event with Boris’ blessing and the help of his aide, Dieter (Dieter Riesle). Evan has invited Karma to do some pole dancing and to entice Raj. But it doesn’t seem to go the way Evan expects and he doesn’t know if Raj has been unfaithful to Divya and Karma is keeping quiet on the issue. Later, Karma accidentally breaks Keller’s nose when he gets too close to her dancing. Hank manages to fix it – or so he thinks. Afterwards, Hank and Emily seem to have gotten very comfortable and cozy with each other.

When we get back to the time that the episode opens, Hank and Emily are laying in a hammock together while Keller approaches them, irate that his nose is still bleeding. It’s not a nosebleed, it’s spinal fluid. Before Hank can do anything more, Evan races up to them, saying that he thinks he’s killed Raj, believing he pushed Raj off the balcony. Hank races to investigate, and finds Raj is only passed out drunk and what Even recalls as him pushing Raj off the edge didn’t happen the way he thought – Evan passed out before he even got close to Raj. Later, when Hank puts Keller through a brain scan (at the guest house) it seems that a small sword from a toy has been stuck in his sinuses for years, since Keller was a boy, which has cause his years of pain.

When Hank gets Keller to the hospital, they find Divya and Jill there with Aristotle who is being treated. Keller later apologizes to Hank for his bullying days years ago, and Hank seems to feel good that he took the high road all those years.

Dieter has given Evan a copy of the surveillance recordings from the party so he can see what really happened with Raj and Karma. But Evan doesn’t look at it. Later, though, Diyva finds it and is watching it as Hank and Evan return. They all watch and find that not only was Raj faithful to Divya, he professed his respect, affection, and dedication to her. We also see a very drunk Evan attempting to pole dance, with the episode closing on that note.

If you are expecting to watch Royal Pains for deep and gripping drama, this is not your show. But I don’t think that is what the show intends to be that way. It’s supposed to be light summer viewing and it certainly fits this bill. Still, it’s easy to care about the characters and be interested in what happens to them. If you want some fun, this is an hour well spent.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Mad Men “Public Relations” Recap & Review

All photos from AMC

It seems like forever since the Mad Men season finale. When we last left the show in November in the season finale “Shut the Door, Have a Seat", Betty and Don’s marriage was on the rocks, with Betty Draper (January Jones) winging her way to Las Vegas with Henry Francis (Christopher Stanley) for a quickie divorce. Don Draper (Jon Hamm had left Sterling-Cooper, which was going to be sold by their British owners. Don and Roger Sterling (John Slattery), Bert Cooper (Robert Morse), and Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) all left the company to start their own ad agency, taking Joan (Christine Hendricks), Pete (Vincent Kartheiser), Harry Crane (Rich Sommer), and Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) with them. Things certainly were shaken up.

The season premiere, “Public Relations” cuts to the chase, opening about one year later from the time of the finale. That was a good thing, because we missed a lot of the initial mundane matters that go along with a marriage breakup and the start up of a new company. Moving the story ahead a year later gives Don’s company time to either be flirting with success – or failure. At this point, it seems they may be closer to failure.

The episode opens with Don being interviewed by Advertising Age, with Don seemingly caught off guard with the reporter’s unintended loaded question – who is Don Draper? Don gives and evasive answer, and, as a result, the ensuing article makes Don seem too mysterious. Bert Cooper is incensed that the article made the company look bad. It later costs them the Jai Alai when they also are incensed that Don didn’t mention them in the article. But Don could care less, thinking that Jai Alai had already run its course. Harry Crane, however, is most upset of all of them, having recently put a lot of work into the account, and storms out of the meeting room, wishing he could jump out of the second floor of the office - that they don’t have.

Roger, meanwhile, seems to take everything in his usual cynical, sarcastic stride, becoming the “Lennie Briscoe” of the show, with his frequent sharp one-liners. Peggy and Pete are working on a stunt to help improve the sales – and their standing – with Sugarberry ham and Peggy comes up with an idea to have two women fight over the hams. They pay two actresses to pull off the stunt, but things go bad when they really do begin to fight. Things get worse later when one of them presses charges against the other, Peggy must ask Don for $280 for bail AND to pay both women to keep them quiet. Don is not happy with Peggy and berates her for the stunt – he doesn’t resort to stunts.

Don has also moved into his own apartment at Waverly and 6th, which is dark and dreary, even with the blinds open. He also has a housekeeper, Celia. One quick glimpse of happiness is evident on Don’s face as he watches the “Glo-Coat” floor wax commercial that he had conceived. He goes on a date with Bethany (Anna Camp), arranged by Roger, and seems to think he’ll score, but his date isn’t making things easy for him, wise to all the tricks that men use to get what they want. On Thanksgiving, Don spends the time with a hooker who wants to cut to the chase as she has plans for the day. She and Don have sex and it seems Don wants her to slap him – hard – in the process.

Betty, however, still lives in the comfort of the Draper home with husband Henry and with her and Don’s kids, Sally (Kiernan Shipka) and Bobby (Jared Gilmore). Don’s attorney has been encouraging Don to get Henry and Betty out of the place and sell it – they were supposed to be out in October but Betty apparently has done nothing to find another place. It’s Thanksgiving, and besides Henry, Betty, Sally and Bobby, we have Henry’s grown children and his mother Pauline (Pamela Dunlap) also in attendance. It’s clear that Sally is not taking well to the whole matter, refusing to eat and then spitting out her food when Betty coldly forces Sally to eat it. When Betty takes Sally out of the room, we can hear Sally tell her mother to "stop pinching me." But Bobby, somewhat oblivious and apparently not as upset at his parents’ divorce, eats his dinner happily, saying he loves sweet potatoes. Later, when Sally tries to call her father, Betty puts a halt to it. Henry suggests that when Don takes the kids for the weekend that they leave the baby with Carla and that they go off to spend some time alone. The always selfish Betty of course goes for it.

When Don and the kids come back after their time together, the house is dark and Sally has to let them in. Don stays there until Betty and Henry return – and it’s obvious that Betty told Don one time to return the kids, and another time to Henry. Don basically tells her hurry up and get out of the place as their divorce agreement stipulated, and after Don leaves, Henry says that he thinks Don is right. Betty, the spoiled brat that she is, doesn’t appear to be in any mood to make an effort to get out, using her kids and their needs as an excuse. Later, when Henry is helping his mother clean up after Thanksgiving she says the children are clearly terrified of Betty (she scares me too), and she knows what he sees in her but wonders why he just didn't get it for free. She refers to Betty as a silly woman and asks Henry how he can stand living in another man's dirt. (Ouch.)

The next day, when Peggy brings Don a ham as a thank you from Sugarberry for the increase in their sales, he gets on her case again because of the stunt, and doesn’t want her included in the Jantzen campaign presentation. She thinks he’s being punitive but he just doesn’t want a woman in the room when he makes the presentation. And it’s clear why – his ad shows a woman clad in a Janzen 2 piece bathing suit – Jantzen doesn’t want it to be known as a bikini – and the top of her body has been redacted to obscure the bathing suit top, with the slogan "so well built we can't show the second floor" (Don must have been thinking about the company’s lack of the second floor and Harry’s urge to jump out of it). The clients are appalled. When their prudishness and lack of desire to take the risk to bring their company to compete with the bikini companies, Don leave the room and then quickly returns to throw the clients out. This seems to light a fire under Don, who tells his secretary to call Bert Cooper's contact at the Wall Street Journal.

At the end of the episode we see Don sitting down with the WSJ reporter and Don seems to be very happy in his own skin. He tells them the story of the creation of Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce, saying that "within a year we had taken over 2 floors of the Time Life building." Don seems to have finally come to the conclusion that he has to sell himself (maybe embellishing a little as well) to make him and the company look impressive in order to make clients desire his work. It also seems that Don now has a better idea of just who he really is.

This was an excellent season opener which makes viewers not really care about the one year period that the show glossed over. It brings everyone to a sort of jumping point – while Harry in his anger comments he wanted to jump out of a window when things went bad, Don instead seemed to use the adversity as a jumping point to reveal who he wants Don Draper to be. Henry’s mother Pauline may have put a thought into Henry’s head when she asks how he can stand living in another man’s dirt – and this may cause Henry to make the jump out of Don’s shadow when it comes to Betty and he kids. Sally, on the other hand, seems to be jumping into a funk of her own, clearly rocked by her parents’ divorce, showing outward discomfort with her new family and even showing some discomfort with her father’s affections. Betty seems to be jumping headlong into a disaster as she seems to hate Don more than she loves Henry, and loves herself more than everyone combined. Her lack of affection for her children is somewhat disturbing and it will only be a matter of time before Henry finds out that he married a spoiled brat and self absorbed Ice Princess.

At the end of the episode it was wonderful to see the very confident Don Draper speak about his company and his career, instead of seeing the Don Draper who figuratively - and literally – has beat himself up over his past life and his past failures. It makes me anticipate each episode of this season even more – and in my opinion cements Mad Men as the best drama on television today.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rizzoli & Isles “She Works Hard for the Money” Advance Photos

Here are a few advance photos from the new episode of Rizzoli & Isles titled “She Works Hard for the Money” which will air on August 2 at 10PM ET on TNT (check your local listings) and stars Angie Harmon, Sasha Alexander, and Lorraine Bracco.

All photos from TNT

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Rizzoli & Isles “Born to Run” Advance Photos

Here are a few advance photos from the new episode of Rizzoli & Isles titled “Born to Run” which will air on August 23 at 10PM ET on TNT (check your local listings) and stars Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.

All photos from TNT

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rizzoli & Isles “Sympathy For The Devil” Advance Photos

Here are a few advance photos from the new episode of Rizzoli & Isles titled “Sympathy For The Devil” which will air on Monday, July 26 at 10PM ET on TNT (check your local listings). It stars Angie Harmon, Sasha Alexander, and Donnie Wahlberg.

All photos from TNT

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Closer “Help Wanted” Recap & Review

All photos from TNT

Monday’s new episode of ”The Closer” (TNT), “Help Wanted,” started like a simple case of a missing person, but it turned into a murder case. Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) gets roped into a missing person case by her boss, Assistant Chief Will Pope (J.K. Simmons) who is doing it at the request of the mayor. Pope thinks and hopes he’s going to be named as the new Chief of Police, and wants to make sure that Brenda and her team do this favor in order to make Pope look good.

Brenda takes the case, but also has other baggage to worry about. Captain Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) is questioning Brenda as part of an Internal Affairs check for the Chief of Police opening. Raydor and Brenda have a strained history and it is clear that Brenda is not thrilled with Raydor’s personal questions, which dig into Brenda’s past relationship with Pope, who was married at the time. (McDonnell and Sedgwick play up the tension very well and it adds to the tension of the case.) Raydor also tags along to shadow Brenda and her work on the nanny case. Brenda thinks Raydor just wants to find a reason to disqualify Pope for the top spot.

As the Major Crimes team investigates the disappearance of the nanny, they find that she is not missing, she has been raped and murdered. The logical suspect is the husband of the couple who employed the nanny, Gregory Disken (Titus Welliver). I have to admit that I was also roped into the ruse that Disken was the guy, but then felt that was a little too easy, and I started looking at his wife, Melissa (Catherine Dent). This is one of those cases where the killer wasn’t obvious at the start, and I really liked that about this episode.

When more nannies turn up as being victims of rape, being tied through a DNA match from the murder scene, Brenda’s team focuses on another employer. Detective Sanchez (Raymond Cruz) seemed to have some very personal interest in this case. I am not quite sure if it was ever explained why, but Sanchez clearly seemed more driven than anyone else to solve it. Brenda and the team get a surprise when they find that a Homeland Security Agent Joe Meyers (Robert Neary) is behind the attacks and the murder. By the time they realize this, Meyers is already holding a nanny as hostage, and a standoff with Brenda and her team ensues. Since SWAT will take some time to get there, the Major Crimes team confronts Meyers with guns drawn. Luckily for Brenda, her husband, FBI Agent Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney), also helping with the case, gets out his rifle and approaches the suspect from behind. Brenda tries in vain to get Meyers to drop his weapon and let the nanny go, but in this case, Brenda’s power of persuasion don’t work and Meyers prepares to shoot at Brenda. Fritz fires and kills Meyers before Meyers can shoot Brenda. Fritz is angry with Brenda for her risky behavior, and I figure that this will translate to some wild romancing sometime later. They also find many more women in Meyer’s van and it’s clear he was the man behind all the rapes and murder.

Sanchez alsohas taken to a young boy whose nanny mother seems to have gone missing. He's worried about the boy getting into the system and I suspect that Sanchez will either take this boy under his wing or at least follow through to make sure he has a good home.

When the case is over, Raydor tells Brenda that the purpose of her questions weren’t to vet Pope, but to verify that Brenda has the chops to qualify for the position of Chief of Police. Raydor has even filled out the application for Brenda, and tells Brenda she has two weeks to think it over and sign the application. I suspect the next two episodes will have Brenda and Fritz talking this over – and I suspect that somehow Pope will find out about it too. My guess is that she won’t apply, or if she does, she won’t get it anyway, as it would change the dynamic of the show too much. It wouldn’t surprise me if somehow Raydor was also in the mix of candidates. In the end, though, I suspect they will give it to Pope.

McDonnell and Sedgwick play the testy colleagues very well, and McDonnell is great as the annoying Internal Affairs investigator who purposely leads Brenda to think her questions are focused on Pope and not on Brenda. And finally – finally! – they gave Jon Tenney something to do other than be Brenda’s whipping boy and cat watcher. ”The Closer” (TNT) excels on the chemistry of its cast, and it is enhanced by solid guest stars such as McDonnell and Welliver. The writers also weave in personal stories that don’t overpower and that easily carry into subsequent episodes. The Chief of Police opening will surely mean some lively interaction between Brenda and Fritz, and Brenda and Pope. Things could get interesting!

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Rizzoli and Isles “Boston Strangler Redux” Sneak Peak, Advance Photos

Here are a few advance photos and a sneak peak of tonight’s new episode of Rizzoli and Isles titled “Boston Strangler Redux” which airs on TNT at 10 PM ET (check your local listings). The show starts Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.

All photos from TNT

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

“Covert Affairs”: Entertaining, Alias Lite

Photo USA Network
”Covert Affairs” is a new spy drama on USA Network, and it is very reminiscent of the ABC show “Alias”. The only thing missing is Alias’ infamous “Rambaldi” conspiracy. The star of Covert Affairs, Piper Perabo, looks very much like Alias star Jennifer Garner, almost as if she could be her little sister. Despite the similarities, the show seems a fresh, new, and updated version, with “lite” tones and themes.

Since pilot episodes usually move quickly to establish the premise of the story and the lead character, Annie Walker's (Perabo) getting into the CIA seemed far too easy. This CIA is also seemingly staffed with mostly young and attractive people, the youth part explained by a hiring freeze after 9/11 and then a release of the freeze which allowed for an influx of young talent. This does not explain why everyone who works at the CIA seems very attractive.

Annie makes quick friends with another worker, CIA analyst Auggie Anderson (Christopher Gorham) who is the stereotypical television blind person who seems to have magical powers of seeing and understanding everything around him, able to read everything by smell and sounds and other mysterious ways. Auggie also seems to be able to read what is on his computer screen using some sort of Braille interface. This was a little hard to believe – not the Braille interface itself, it’s more of the volume of information that passes over the screen at the time he accesses the data that I can’t believe he can really absorb it all via Braille. He and Annie later share a drink at the local bar, where they also meet up with another worker at the CIA (his name now escapes me) who seems to pop up a little too frequently when Annie is around.

Annie is assigned a case of getting intel from a Russian spy, who is later killed in a spray of gunfire when Annie is in the hotel room making the exchange. Annie doesn’t get the intel and pretends to be a call girl to attempt to get the data a second time, right under the noses of the FBI and police. The intel turns out to be worthless and the dead Russian spy not who he said he was. The real Russian spy faked his death to allow him to proceed unimpeded to an assassination attempt, which of course Annie easily foils.

While all this is going on, we find that marital problems exist between CIA Director of Clandestine Services Arthur Campbell (Peter Gallagher) and his wife Joan (Kari Matchett) who also has a high level CIA job and is Annie’s boss. Arthur is also working to identify a leak within his organization, because every spy series has to have some sort of leak or mole in the organization. It’s an overused plot device and my guess it could very well be that annoying guy that works at the CIA (I also think he works for Arthur) who keeps popping up whenever Annie is around.

We also see a flashback of Annie with a lover who left her with a cryptic apology note after a whirlwind vacation romance. She later believes she saw him save her life from the Russian spy. Joan tells her it was someone else who saved her, but later we find that Annie’s lover is known to the CIA as Ben Mercer (Eion Bailey) and it seems the CIA is using Annie to draw out Mercer.

Annie also has a family life, living with a sister’s (played by Anne Dudek) family. Of course, every “spy” needs to have a family life that is unaware of her secret, double life as a CIA agent. My guess is at a later time, some family member will be in danger in the course of Annie's work, because families are usually there to be used as pawns to futher the spy story.

All in all, while the show seems a close copy of the ABC show Alias (sans Rambaldi) and has a lot of the same trite spy plot lines, the series provides plenty of action and mystery to keep viewers interested. Sure, it is lite viewing, but USA Network seems to be the king when it comes to creating shows that are easy to digest. It may take a few more episodes before I can decide whether this show wants to be a serious drama/action spy show, or more of a light drama/soap opera spy show. Regardless, I was entertained in this first episode and it left me with a feeling that this series has more to offer, and it may be another big win for USA Network.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Closer Returns with a “The Big Bang”

Photo from TNT

Last night’s premiere of season 6 of ”The Closer” (TNT) was titled “The Big Bang”, not just because the case involved the killing of a philandering stargazer, but because Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson’s (Kyra Sedgwick) comfort zone had exploded. Assistant Chief Will Pope (J.K. Simmons) has moved the Major Crimes division into a new building, and Brenda clearly was not comfortable with the new digs.

Brenda’s team gets called to work the case of a man murdered while he was taking pictures of the night sky, with his sophisticated camera equipment found pointed instead at the home of the woman with whom he was having the affair – and who was with him at the time of his death. Her husband seems to be the likely suspect. But, Brenda is off her game because she’s not settled at their new office and not all the amenities work properly or are suited to her manner of working. As a result, she makes a mistake when questioning the suspicious husband, and he lawyers up.

While questioning some of the employees who work with the murder victim, Paul and Melanie Ryder, Paul (Currie Graham) seems innocent enough, but his wife seems to be a little defensive of the victim. Since Currie Graham always plays characters that rank high on the smarm-o-meter, I figured that he was likely the killer. After Brenda has the cheating wife of the first suspect wired, hoping to trap him saying something incriminating, the team is barely able to stop him from killing her. Eventually Brenda and her team find their attention back on Paul, who killed out of jealously when he found his wife also had an affair with their philandering boss.

The case was entertaining but average at best – the real show was watching Brenda suffer a complete meltdown just by a change in her work environment. She also wonders why Pope was so intent on moving to what seems like a higher profile building, and she gets her answer at the end of the show when the Chief of Police (Played by Gil Garcetti, a producer of “The Closer” and also former LA District Attorney) has a press conference announcing his retirement. Brenda suspects that Pope thinks he’s next in line, but we never actually hear the Chief announce his successor.

Brenda’s home life still seems normal, with a new cat and her husband FBI Agent Fritz Howard (Jon Tenny) trying his best to keep Brenda grounded while she gets more frazzled with adjusting to a new workplace.

“The Big Bang” marked a good start to the 6th season. As always, The Closer entertains with a good murder case. The change in workplace will help keep the show fresh and energized, almost as if they’ve added a new cast member. It may also signal that the producers see a long life for “The Closer.” But the real draw for this show is the great ensemble cast with Sedgwick as the anchor, all who are well suited for their roles and make the characters believable. On a side note, congratulations to Kyra Sedgwick for her Emmy nomination; she certainly deserves it and I would be thrilled to see her win.

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Friday, July 9, 2010

“Covert Affairs” Preview Clips (Video)

Pictured: (L-R) Anne Dudek as Danielle, Sendhil Ramamurthy as Jai Wilcox, Christopher Gorham as Auggie Anderson, Piper Perabo as Annie Walker, Peter Gallagher as Authur Campbell, Kari Matchett as Joan Campbell Photo by: Robert Ascroft/USA Network

Please note: I am sorry, but this video is no longer available.

My recap & review of the “Covert Affairs” pilot episode can be found here.


A New Series From the Producers of “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and the Producer of the Bourne Trilogy

Continuing to deliver powerful weekday blocks of originals, USA Network promises to maintain its position as the Network with the most exciting summer shows when it presents the newest original series in the line-up, COVERT AFFAIRS starring Piper Perabo (“Coyote Ugly,” “Beverly Hills Chihuahua”), Christopher Gorham (“Ugly Betty,” “Jake 2.0”), Peter Gallagher (“The O.C.,” “American Beauty”), Kari Matchett (“Invasion”), Anne Dudek (“House,” “Mad Men”) and Sendhil Ramamurthy (“Heroes,” “It’s a Wonderful Afterlife”). COVERT AFFAIRS will premiere on Tuesday, July 13 at 10/9c. USA’s new hit series, WHITE COLLAR, will serve as the show’s lead-in at 9/8c. In COVERT AFFAIRS, we meet Annie Walker (Perabo), a young CIA trainee who is suddenly thrust into the inner sanctum of the agency after being promoted to field operative. While it appears that she has been hand-picked for her exceptional linguistic skills, it may be something from her past that her CIA bosses are really after. Gorham plays Auggie Anderson, a CIA military intelligence agent, blinded while on assignment, and Annie's guide in this world of bureaucracy, excitement and intrigue. Gallagher is Arthur Campbell, the formidable director of Clandestine Services for the CIA. Dudek plays Danielle, a married mother of two and Annie’s older sister who knows nothing of her life as a spy. Matchett plays Joan, head of the CIA’s Domestic Protection Division...and Arthur’s wife. In episode two, Ramamurthy joins the show as Jai Wilcox, an agent with a rich family history within the walls of the CIA. From Universal Cable Productions, COVERT AFFAIRS is executive produced by Doug Liman (the “Bourne” trilogy, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” “The O.C.”) and David Bartis (“The O.C.,” “The Heist”) through Dutch Oven and written and co-executive produced by Matt Corman (“Deck the Halls”) and Chris Ord (“Deck the Halls”). James Parriott (Grey's Anatomy," "Ugly Betty") executive produces. Jonathan Glassner ("Stargate SG-1," "CSI: Miami") is co-executive producer and director. Tim Matheson (USA’s BURN NOTICE, PSYCH, “Criminal Minds”) directed the pilot.

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Closer “The Big Bang” Season Premiere Advance Photos

TNT has provided several advance photos of the season premiere of “The Closer: The Big Bang” which will air on Monday, July 12, 2010 at 9:00 PM ET (check your local listings). It looks like many of the familiar faces are back, and the new office space looks great. Don’t forget to tune in!

All photos Karen Neal for TNT

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Check out my blog home page for the latest information, at I Like To Watch TV, here.