Stay Tuned
Reviews, previews and much more on "The Real Housewives," "How I Met Your Mother," "NCIS" and many more of your favorite shows. This is the place to talk about all of the things that make us "Stay Tuned"…

Thursday, September 30, 2010

In Today's H-D: Will the Real Horatio Caine Please Put On His Sunglasses?

If you missed it today, here's a link to my column in the "H-D" about my favorite cheesefest, "CSI: Miami."

Here's hoping it returns to the cheesefest it was meant to be...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Human Target" Gets Postponed

For those of you looking forward to the return of “Human Target” this week, you’ll now have to wait a little longer…

“Human Target” will not premiere Friday, and will instead premiere Wednesday, November 17th at 8 p.m. And you’ve got the cancellation of “Lone Star” to blame…

Ever since FOX announced the cancellation, the dominoes have been falling. First, it was announced that “Lie to Me” would take the Monday at 9 p.m. slot. FOX couldn’t go a week with a rerun, so they’re forced to premiere “Lie” this Monday with less than a week of promotion—which has led to a lot of publicist scrambling.

Then, something had to take the place of “Lie to Me,” and FOX has chosen “Target.”

The good news for “Target” fans is that I’ve seen the premiere, and despite a slight change in tone and the addition of two new cast members, “Target” is still the fun action show we know and love. AND, Jackie Earle Haley gets a lot more to do in the premiere, and that’s always a good idea since his Guerrero is one of the coolest characters on TV…

It’s just a shame that we have to wait until November to see him…

Photo Credit: Mathieu Young/FOX

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Superman/Batman: Apocalypse" Review: Wonder Woman Steals the Show

DC has been cranking out the DC Universe original animated movies since 2007. And over the past three years, they’ve given us a number of different stars playing the key roles of Superman and Batman.

Yet eventually they always bring it back to the voices we really want to hear—Tim Daly and Kevin Conroy.

Daly and Conroy reunite for another Superman-Batman team-up, “Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.” But the title is a bit deceptive because Wonder Woman is just as important to the plot. And in fact, it’s her involvement that helps set this one apart from the rest…

Based on the comic story by Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner, “Apocalypse” follows the action after a mysterious visitor shows up on earth—Kara, Superman’s cousin. Batman is completely distrusting of her, Wonder Woman wants to hide her from the world and Superman just wants her to be a part of it. But super villain Darkseid wants Kara under his control to help finally rid him of Superman.

The action will force the heroes to take the fight to Darkseid’s home of Apocalypse where they will have to face all of his evil minions.

The story is the most simple and straightforward one they’ve done for a DC Universe movie. There are no complicated side plots or characters that you don’t quite understand. It’s just Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman taking it to the bad guys. And honestly, isn’t that what we really want to see?

Conroy and Daly get solid support from the voice cast including Summer Glau as Kara, Andre Braugher, who is perfectly cast as Darkseid, and Ed Asner reprising his role as Darkseid’s henchman, Granny Goodness. Plus, Susan Eisenberg reprises her role from “Justice League”/“Justice League Unlimited” as Wonder Woman.

My only real problem with the movie is that the final fight scene lasts just a tad too long. We got the point after the first five minutes. And the ending is a little too schmaltzy for me, but it’s perfectly fitting with the characters, so I’m willing to deal with it.

And you’ll forget all about that ending when you check out the newest DC Showcase short, “Green Arrow.” Every one of these shorts has been solid and quite honestly are even better than some of the full length features.

In this one, Green Arrow goes to the airport to pick up the love of his life (Black Canary, for those of you who don’t know his story), but ends up being caught in the middle of an assassination attempt.

The story is solid, the action is solid and Neal McDonough is completely awesome as the title character. I hope they’ll use him in a future full-length movie…

I didn’t get to see the special features (I have got to get me a Blu-Ray player!) but as usual, the special editions are packed with documentaries and bonus animation episodes. Plus, you get a first look at the next DC Universe film, “All-Star Superman,” starring James Denton (“Desperate Housewives”) as the Man of Steel.

“Superman/Batman: Apocalypse” is available on DVD, Blu-Ray, and combo pack now…

SUPERMAN, BATMAN and all related characters and elements aretrademarks of and © DC Comics. (s10)

FOX Cancels "Lone Star"

A little over an hour ago, FOX made it official…

“Lonestar” has been cancelled.

The network broke the news through a press release announcing that “Lie to Me” would premiere Monday, October 4th at 9 p.m. and that “the new season of ‘Lie to Me’ replaces the previously announced episodes of ‘Lone Star.’”

“The Hollywood Reporter” reports that production has been halted on the show with only five episodes in the can. FOX gave it a second chance last night, but it again scored miserable ratings.

I’m disappointed because I thought it was a great show. I’m also disappointed because it looks like there’s no chance at it being resurrected on FX…

If you’re looking for the next shows to get the ax, look no further than ABC and “The Whole Truth” or “My Generation.” NBC’s “Outlaw” is also on very shaky ground…

Photo Credit: Patrick Ecclesine/FOX

Monday, September 27, 2010

"Astonishing X-Men Gifted" Review: Astonishing, Indeed

My name is Angela, and I am a comic book geek. It’s why I’m able to follow so many of the comic discussions on “The Big Bang Theory.”

Although I’m currently following the return of Bruce Wayne to the “Batman” universe and Wonder Woman in her new costume, it’s the X-Men that I keep the most tabs on. It is, after all, the title that first got me hooked. Although, I have to admit I’m a lot less hooked since the death of my favorite comic book character of all time, Jean Grey.

Which is probably why I avoided Joss Whedon’s 2004 run of “Astonishing X-Men.” The critics raved, but I never bit, still trying to deal with the idea of Cyclops hooking up with Emma Frost.

Now I see what I was missing…

Marvel Knights Animation and Shout! Factory have teamed up to present the first story arc of “Astonishing” through a motion comic on DVD. “Astonishing X-Men: Gifted” is literally the actual pages come to life, as opposed to an animator interpreting the pages in his own way. And it works very well. Plus, the voice cast does such a great job bringing the characters to life, you completely forget they’re not moving in the normal animated way you’re used to. It is astonishing, indeed...

For those of you not familiar with the story, “Astonishing” focuses on the team of Cyclops, Emma Frost, Beast, Wolverine and Shadowcat. The “Gifted” arc finds the team facing a new threat—a possible mutant cure that could change their lives forever.

The writing is just as good as advertised. The dialogue absolutely crackles and the action pops off the screen—even in the motion comic format. It’s a great way to relive a good story, and at the retail price of $14.97, it’s a much cheaper way to follow it as well.

Plus, there are bonus features that shed more light on the whole motion comic process. And you get a sampling of the very funny “Marvel Super Heroes: What The—?” series featuring action figures in motion a la “Robot Chicken.”

The press release from Shout! promises this is the first title in the “multi-part ‘Astonishing X-Men’ home entertainment series.” The next part can’t come soon enough…

“Astonishing X-Men: Gifted” hits stores Tuesday, September 28th…

Photo Credit: Shout! Factory

Andy Cohen's Got the 411...on the Salahis

BIG news today from my friends at Bravo…

Michaele and Tareq Salahi will join Andy Cohen on “Watch What Happens Live,” Thursday, October 7th. The episode will air immediately after “The Real Housewives of D.C.” season finale, which will show the aftermath of the alleged White House party crashing incident.

If you’ve ever watched “Happens,” you know it’s a raucous half-hour with interviews, live call-ins, drinking games and anything else Andy can fit into 30 minutes. But I’m hoping he uses this episode to take the Salahis to task over their bizarre actions.

And honestly. Has Andy ever let me down before?

The Salahis’ appearance on “Watch What Happens Live” will air Thursday, October 7th at 10:15 p.m., following the season finale of “The Real Housewives of D.C.” at 9 p.m. on Bravo…

Photo Credit: Stephen Boitano/Bravo

"No Ordinary Family" Review: The Next "Heroes"?

A show about a normal family who suddenly develop superpowers seems right up my alley. Especially when the cast is led by the always solid Michael Chiklis. But I just couldn’t get excited about “No Ordinary Family” for one big reason—“Heroes.”

I know it’s unfair to compare “Family” to a previous show it had nothing to do with, but it’s impossible not to in this case. There’s a “Heroes” season one vibe all over “Family” as the show unfolds and the powers start to be revealed. And seeing how good that debut season of “Heroes” was, that’s actually a compliment. But we all know how “Heroes” imploded at the end of that first season. And for me, that disappointment loomed over every minute of “Family”…

Chiklis is Jim Powell, a police sketch artist who has become completely disillusioned with his life. He’s disappointed he can’t do more to catch the bad guys. And he’s having troubles at home with his workaholic wife, Stephanie (Julie Benz), a researcher. His daughter, Daphne (Kay Panabaker), is having boyfriend issues and his son, JJ (Jimmy Bennett), is struggling to succeed in school.

Jim decides they need a family vacation to bring them closer together. And when they barely escape death after their plane goes down, it appears his plan has succeeded (although not the way he was expecting). However, by the time they get home, everything has gone back to normal. Or so they think…

Soon, they each start showing signs of a super power. Jim is able to do more to catch the bad guys. Stephanie suddenly has the extra time she’s been looking for. And the kids develop their own powers as well. But this is not “The Incredibles” here. The quartet does not immediately suit up and start fighting crime. These are ordinary people discovering they can do extraordinary new things.

And as if that didn’t make the show enough like “Heroes,” a serial element is added in the premiere’s closing moments that comes right out of the “Heroes” playbook. I was actually disappointed in myself for not seeing it coming.

“Family” is a good show with lots of potential. But for those of us still stinging from the brutal rise and fall of “Heroes,” it will be hard to get invested. For those of you who didn’t watch “Heroes,” you’ll totally enjoy it. But don’t get too sucked in. A show like this can totally knock the wind right out of you before you know it.

Unfortunately, I speak from experience…

“No Ordinary Family” premieres Tuesday, September 28th at 8 p.m. on ABC…

Photo Credit: Bob D’Amico/ABC

Can "Dancing" Still Score Without The Hoff?

During Friday’s episode of “The Soup,” host Joel McHale said the elimination of David Hasselhoff on “Dancing With the Stars” made him cry. No doubt, he wasn’t alone…

In years past, “Dancing” has gone through the first week without an elimination, giving the audience more time to get to know the contestants. I’m thinking maybe that was in order for this season as well. Because now, the show has lost its guaranteed train wreck—the one contestant that would have everyone talking.

I’m a little surprised that more viewers didn’t rally to The Hoff’s cause. After all, Kate Gosselin got to stay longer than him. Maybe the audience was expecting a non-elimination week as well.

However, ABC is probably not losing sleep over the elimination just yet. Monday’s ratings were very strong and the network most likely credits that to Bristol Palin or The Situation more than The Hoff.

But I still can’t help but think the ratings will go down this week—now that the trainwreck has already been cleaned up…

“Dancing With the Stars” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. and Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC…
Photo Credit: Adam Larkey/ABC

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pick of the Week: A Triple Threat

My Picks are all about telling you the shows you absolutely should not miss this week.

And this week, there just happens to be three of those…

My Picks of the Week are: “How I Met Your Mother,” “Inside the Actors Studio,” and “The Real Housewives of DC.”

“Mother” got us one step closer to learning the mother’s identity last week when it was revealed exactly where Ted (Josh Radnor) met her. But that’s not the reason to watch this week. The reason to watch is the return of Barney’s (Neil Patrick Harris) brother, James (Wayne Brady). Barney’s mother, Loretta (Frances Conroy), is also back as Barney learns some things about his past. Also guest starring is Ben Vereen as one of Loretta’s former flames. I have no idea whether the three showmen—NPH, Brady and Vereen—will break into song or not, but I’d like to believe “Mother” wouldn’t waste such an opportunity…

“How I Met Your Mother” airs Monday, September 27th at 8 p.m. on CBS…

James Lipton’s interviewing style always makes “Inside the Actors Studio” interesting viewing. But when he sits down with Betty White, you just can’t miss it…

“Inside the Actors Studio” airs Tuesday, September 28th on Bravo…

Then, it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for on “The Real Housewives of D.C.” We finally go behind the scenes of the alleged White House party crashing with the Salahis.

I know a new book is out that paints the Salahis as victims of the media, but if the promos from Bravo are correct, my Stepford Wife theory is a little more accurate as the previews show Tareq telling Michaele they don’t need to have the invitation with them.

If you’ve been watching “D.C.,” you know the story of the Salahis just keeps getting more and more bizarre, so this will just be the icing on the cake for all of us…

“The Real Housewives of D.C.” airs Thursday, September 30th at 9 p.m. on Bravo…

Photo Credits: Adam Taylor/CBS, Isabella Vosmikova/Bravo & Stephen Boitano/Bravo

This Week's Fall Premiere Schedule

Although there will be some stragglers here and there, the premieres pretty much end this week.

Here’s this week’s fall premiere schedule…

Tuesday, September 28th
No Ordinary Family—8 PM—ABC
The Good Wife—10 PM—CBS

Wednesday, September 29th
Law & Order: Los Angeles—10 PM—NBC

Friday, October 1st
Human Target—8 PM—FOX

Sunday, October 3rd
American Dad—9:30 PM—FOX
CSI: Miami—10 PM—CBS

Photo Credit: Justin Stephens/CBS

Friday, September 24, 2010

In Case You Missed It...

If you missed this Wednesday, here's a look at Joaquin Phoenix's return to "The Late Show With David Letterman"...

And once again, Dave gets the upper hand...

"Top Chef All-Stars": Is it December Yet?

When the Bravo promos started promising a shocking announcement about the new season, I was really hoping that meant we would finally get an all-stars version. So I was thrilled when Andy Cohen confirmed that at the beginning of the “Top Chef: DC Reunion.”

I was even more thrilled when Andy announced my two favorite cheftestants of all time would be participating—Season 4’s Richard Blais and Season 3’s Dale Levitski.

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, it did…

Two words: Bourdain, baby!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Anthony Bourdain has signed on to be a judge along with regulars Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons and host Padma Lakshmi.

Is it December yet?

If you missed it, here are the chefs who will compete on “Top Chef: All-Stars”:

Elia Aboumrad; Season two, final four

Stephen Asprinio; Season one, top five
Richard Blais; Season four finalist

Jennifer Carroll; Season six, final four
Tiffany Derry; Season seven, top five

Tiffani Faison; Season one finalist
Carla Hall; Season five finalist

Mike Isabella; Season six, top seven
Jamie Lauren; Season five, top seven
Dale Levitski; Season three finalist

Antonia Lofaso; Season four, final four
Spike Mendelsohn; Season four, top five
Angelo Sosa; Season seven finalist
Dale Talde; Season four, top six
Casey Thompson; Season three finalist and fan favorite
Marcel Vigneron; Season two finalist
Fabio Viviani; Season five final four and fan favorite
Tre Wilcox; Season three, top eight

I’m a little disappointed that Angelo is back because I was never a fan (How in the world did he place second in the fan favorite voting?). And I’m always disappointed to see Marcel since he always finds a way to make everything about him. And, it’s sad to have Carla and Fabio without Stefan.

But overall, this is an outstanding cast and I am SERIOUSLY looking forward to what’s going to happen.

Let the flames begin…

“Top Chef All-Stars” premieres December 1st at 10 p.m. on Bravo…

Photo Credit: Matthias Clamer/Bravo

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Blue Bloods" Review: A Welcome Return

Is it just me or have I spent a lot of time this week trying to differentiate between the new police/legal dramas on your fall TV schedule?

So let me tell you how CBS’ “Blue Bloods” is different: It’s about family AND it has Tom Selleck…

Selleck is Frank Reagan, the New York City Police Commissioner. His father, Henry (Len Cariou), was also Commissioner, but his brash personality clashed with the politicians. Frank’s oldest son is Danny (Donnie Wahlberg), a detective who sometimes crosses the line to close his cases. Frank’s daughter, Erin (Bridget Moynahan), is an Assistant DA, while his youngest son, Jamie (Will Estes), gave up the possibility of a successful law career and joined the NYPD as well. The death of Frank’s other son looms large over the family since he was killed in the line of duty.

In the premiere, a young girl is missing and Danny pulls out all the stops to find her, while Frank must deal with the political fallout from the case’s media attention. But then it’s Erin who has to deal with the case when Danny violates a suspect’s rights. Meanwhile, Jamie has to deal with his police trainer, his father dating, and an invitation to participate in an investigation that could change his family forever.

Family is the key to this drama and the chemistry of the cast really helps to sell it. Selleck is great as usual and this is the best performance I’ve ever seen Moynahan give in anything. And I still adore Estes from his “Reunion” days.

But it’s Wahlberg who is the real star here. He played a grizzled cop before in the short-lived “Boomtown” and he is as good here as he was in that show. Sooner or later, one of these shows is going to catch on and he will become the TV star he is meant to be…

If you like family dramas and procedurals, then “Bloods” is the perfect hybrid for you. Plus, there’s a mystery simmering in the background for those of you who like that sort of thing.

And isn’t the return of Tom Selleck to weekly TV everybody’s thing?

“Blue Bloods” premieres Friday, September 24th at 10 p.m. on CBS…

Photo Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/CBS

What is The Event? How About a Big Old Mess

Of all its new shows, NBC hyped none more than “The Event.” And Monday night, its efforts paid off as it scored nearly 11 million viewers.

The success already has NBC working on a marketing plan to keep the momentum rolling. Personally, I think instead of working on a marketing plan, they need to be working on the show itself…

For whatever reason, NBC completely ignored me and didn’t send me any screeners—the only network to do so. So I was left wondering whether “The Event” would be more like “24” or “Flashforward.” Now I know it’s more like a big mess…

If you missed it, the show focuses on a handful of characters and their connection to an assassination attempt on the President of the United States (Blair Underwood). The central character is Sean Walker (Jason Ritter), who somehow finds himself right in the middle of the plot. How he got involved has yet to be seen, although we get some bits and pieces in flashbacks. There’s also Sean’s girlfriend, Leila (Sarah Roemer), a group of detainees led by the mysterious Sophia (Laura Innes) and some other people I have no idea about. It’s all so confusing that it’s hard to keep track. I fact, I completely missed one character’s pretty important connection to everything until I read it in a magazine.

The confusion stems from the time jumps. Flashbacks are a common dramatic device and when they’re used to build drama, I don’t mind them. But when you jump back hours, and then days, and then months with three different stories, it gets extremely hard to follow.

Especially since the Sean Walker storyline is fairly compelling. There are some nice dramatic moments that work very well. But you’re so whiplashed by all the movement, you’re unable to get engrossed.

It’s quite possible I was turned off from the very beginning when I saw that the show was using the “24” font for its titles (Bank Gothic, in case you’re curious). It felt like the show was trying to already adopt itself as the new “24” by stealing one of its more subtle signatures (The split screen would have been too obvious.). Executive Producer Evan Katz, a longtime “24” producer, really should have known better.

And then there was that ending. Do we really want to see a plane being used as a weapon? Even after nine years? And then the plane just disappeared, giving the show a sci-fi aspect we not only didn’t see coming, but also didn’t want. I mean, haven’t we experienced enough of that?

I may give “Event” one more try before I write it off completely, if for no other reason than morbid curiosity about how episode two begins.

But it there’s more than one time jump in the first 15 minutes, I’m jumping out myself, I can’t handle another hour of brain whiplash…

“The Event” airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on NBC…

Photo Credit: Patrick Ecclesine/NBC

The Death Watch Begins For...

It’s only week one, but the death watch has already begun for one new show. And it’s a bit of a shocker…

It’s the new FOX drama, “Lone Star”—yes, the very same “Lone Star” that I and just about every other critic in America heralded as one of the best new shows of the fall. But apparently no one was listening to us because the premiere only scored 4.1 million viewers. Even people who don’t know anything about ratings know that’s bad.

FOX has said it will air the second episode Monday as scheduled, but with all of the reports of its imminent cancellation, will anyone bother to watch?

There are a number of things working against “Lone Star” that caused the ratings disaster. First and foremost, it’s in a nasty timeslot. Mondays are ridiculously competitive with “Dancing With the Stars,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Monday Night Football” and now NBC’s “The Event,” which scored big ratings. After it got such glowing reviews from critics, I think I would have considered it—and still would—for another timeslot. FOX could have delayed its premiere, but with its baseball obligations, that would pose problems as well.

Then there’s the marketing. The print campaign concentrated on the two women, two lives aspect and that might have turned some people off. Not to mention that the show is way more complicated than that. A little more focus on the cons or the family oil business might have helped. And a little more promotion of Jon Voight’s role couldn’t have hurt.

I sincerely hope that FOX will stick with the show for a couple of weeks since I believe that “The Event” will start to slide in the coming weeks. But I also understand FOX might not have any choice…

If cancellation does come, I hope that the network will at least consider a move to FX. I think the show might fit in better there.

“Lone Star” airs Monday at 9 p.m. on FOX…

Photo Credit: Patrick Ecclesine/FOX

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"My Generation" Review: I Liked It, But Will It Break My Heart?

It seems like every year there’s a show with a novel concept that makes me fall for it hook, line and sinker. And then one of two things happens—the concept ends up contributing to the downfall of the show or no one else watches and it’s cancelled before it can go anywhere.

Either one of those things could end up happening to the new ABC drama, “My Generation,” which makes me a little tentative about throwing my full support behind it…

The show follows the lives of nine people. The novel concept is that we’re viewing their lives through a documentary camera crew. These nine people were the subject of a documentary in 2000—their senior year of high school. And now the camera crew has returned to see what their lives are like 10 years later.

Steven Foster (Michael Stahl-David), the overachiever, is now a surfer in Hawaii…

Caroline Chung (Anne Son), the wallflower, who gives Steven a shock when she reveals they have a child…

Kenneth Finley (Keir O'Donnell), the nerd, a schoolteacher who desperately wants a family of his own…

Dawn Barbuso (Kelli Garner), the punk, who is married to Rolly Marks (Mehcad Brooks), the jock, who is now stationed in Afghanistan…

Jackie Vachs (Jaime King), the beauty queen, who’s married to Anders Holt (Julian Morris), the rich kid…

Brenda Serrano (Daniella Alonso), the brain, who lives a high-powered life in D.C., but who still hasn’t recovered from her break-up with Anders…

And The Falcon (Sebastian Sozzi), the rock star, who takes time out from his flashy lifestyle to still hang out with his high school friends…

Though the nine begin the hour spread out, circumstances occur that end up bringing the group together again in Austin so that the real drama can occur…

I enjoy good soapy drama, and I can see the potential the show has for that, which is why I liked it. But it reminds me so much of “Reunion,” the show I fell so hard for five years ago that ended up breaking my heart when its clever premise ended up being its undoing. I believe that the same thing could happen here, as the documentary premise is bound to get old.

Then again, maybe “Generation” is a novel concept that will finally work. After all, if your try it enough, it’s bound to work eventually, right?

“My Generation” premieres Thursday, September 23rd at 8 p.m. on ABC…

Photo Credit: Bob D'Amico/ABC

"$#! My Dad Says" Review: Can It Get Past Its Problems?

Of all the new shows premiering this fall, no show has caused more problems for its network than “$#! My Dad Says.”

First, there’s that title, which is pronounced “Bleep My Dad Says.” That makes it pretty difficult to promote, write, etc. But now, the title has caused a problem with DVRs because of all of the symbols. In fact, CBS was forced to send out a letter through the media to tell people how to program their DVRs for the show.

But this show has bigger problems than just the title. The pilot was completely reworked and reshot after the initial one was sent out to the media. CBS promised that we would receive the new pilot before the premiere, but it didn’t happen (at least not for me). So there’s not a lot I can really say about this one.

Here’s what I can say. “Dad” is based on the popular Twitter feed, “S---t My Dad Says” by Justin Halpern. William Shatner stars as the dad, Ed Goodson. Jonathan Sadowski is the son, Henry. Will Sasso is Vince, Henry’s older brother and Nicole Sullivan plays Henry’s wife, Bonnie.

Ed is extremely opinionated and never misses the opportunity to embarrass his sons, which might explain why he’s all alone. Bonnie, a real estate agent, is trying to convince Ed it’s time to move out of the house and into a condo. But circumstances conspire that cause Henry to step up and move in with his dad.

The version I saw definitely needed work, but it had potential because it did make me laugh a few times. But those laughs mostly came from Sullivan (“King of Queens,” “Rita Rocks”), who steals every scene she’s in.

The biggest flaw of the show is its biggest asset—William Shatner. I love Shatner and think he’s absolutely hilarious. But in this show, he’s playing a character we’ve never really seen from him before—a curmudgeon. And in the pilot I saw, he didn’t always come across well. Since Shatner is so beloved, it’s hard to think of him as unpleasant. And in order for the show to work, he occasionally has to be.

Since the show comes to us from David Kohan & Matt Mutchnick, the people behind “Will & Grace,” I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt and believe they got all the pilot problems worked out. But we’ll all just have to see…

Because if they didn’t, Dad won’t be the only one talking $#!...

“$#! My Dad Says” premieres Thursday, September 23rd at 8:30 p.m. on CBS…

Photo Credit: Ron P. Jaffe/CBS

A Big Night of Reunions

Wednesday night, ABC brings us a big night of reunions…

No doubt you’ve heard that Jennifer Aniston is guest starring on Courteney Cox’s “Cougar Town.” And having seen the episode, I can tell you that the duo has not lost a step. They still have as much chemistry as they ever did and Aniston is funny in the episode.

But unfortunately for “Cougar,” she’s all that’s funny about the episode…

I haven’t seen “Cougar” since the first episode, but I could’ve sworn it was funnier than this. The plot of the guys staking out the bench with Jules’ (Cox) ad on it to see who is drawing on her picture is stupid. And why is Ellie’s (Christa Miller) husband (Ian Gomez) so obsessed with Jules’ picture anyway? That doesn’t make sense.

I am a big fan of Josh Hopkins (Jules’ boyfriend, Grayson), but it’s a little sad watching him be so unfunny…

The funniest reunion of the night is actually on “The Middle,” as Doris Roberts guests, reuniting her with her “Everybody Loves Raymond” co-star, Patricia Heaton. But in this case, it’s the story surrounding the reunion that’s funny and not the reunion itself.

Frankie (Heaton) realizes how unorganized her home is, so she decides to “get out in front of it.” That includes talking to Brick’s (Atticus Shaffer) teacher, Ms. Rinsky (Roberts) before she says anything to Frankie about Brick’s quirky behavior (I still don’t get him whispering to himself.). But Ms. Rinsky perceives it as going too far and she decides to take it out on Brick. This, of course, leads to a showdown between Ms. Rinsky and Frankie, but it’s a tad meaner than Marie and Debra ever got.

The real laughs come from the B story involving Frankie’s daughter, Sue (Eden Sher), and her pride over being a part of the cross country team.

It’s great to see both of these duos back on TV and doing their thing again. But you want these shows to be about more than just the reunions. You want them to be worth watching as a whole.

Sadly, only one of them is…

“The Middle” premieres Wednesday, September 22nd at 8 p.m., while “Cougar Town” premieres at 9:30 p.m. on ABC…

Photo Credits: Karen Neal/ABC & Michael Ansell/ABC

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"The Defenders" Review: Completely Harmless

There are some shows that I would just define as harmless. In other words, they’re not fantastic, but they’re not terrible either. You get some enjoyment out of them, but you’re not overly impressed. They’re just completely harmless.

That’s exactly how I would describe the new CBS drama, “The Defenders”…

Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell star as Las Vegas defense attorneys, Nick Morelli and Pete Kaczmarek. Pete is a total player, while Nick is trying to repair his fractured marriage and stay in his son’s life. But professionally, they’re on top of the world as they do whatever it takes to defend their clients. Joining them is new associate Lisa Tyler (Jurnee Smollett) and their assistant Sophie (Tanya Fischer).

In the premiere, Nick and Pete are defending an accused murderer in a case with a lot of special circumstances. The hour starts out pretty slow as the show hauls out every legal drama cliché in the book: Nick clashes with the judge (the great Stephen Root), Nick finds clever methods to discredit witnesses, and Pete is sleeping with a prosecutor (although on another case). But since that prosecutor is played by Natalie Zea (“Dirty Sexy Money”), I’m willing to forgive that last one.

Finally, though, the show hits its stride in the last 15 minutes as Nick’s methods go from clever to just plain risky as he pulls out all the stops to try and clear his client.

Belushi and O’Connell are a good team and have solid chemistry, but there’s just nothing that remarkable about what they do. As I said, the show is basically harmless—and that’s okay. But in all honesty, if you’re trying to decide which of the two competing new legal dramas to watch, I would go with “The Whole Truth”…

“The Defenders” premieres Wednesday, September 22nd at 10 p.m. on CBS…

Photo Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

"The Whole Truth" Review: A Fave Gone Too Soon Reincarnated?

In 2006, Jerry Bruckheimer brought an excellent legal drama to TV called “Justice.” It starred Victor Garber as a flashy, cocky defense attorney. Joining him was Kerr Smith, Rebecca Mader and the always electrifying Eamonn Walker.

The twist with “Justice” was that after the verdict was read, we got to see what really happened and whether the defendant was really innocent or guilty. It was an excellent show that just didn’t catch on, and FOX cancelled it after one season.

Now, Bruckheimer is trying another legal drama with the same twist. Only this time, in addition to finding out what really happened, we see the point of view of both the defense and the prosecution. In other words, we get “The Whole Truth.”

In this version, Rob Morrow plays the cocky defense attorney, Jimmy Brogan. He’s joined by his right hand man, Alejo Salazar (Anthony Ruivivar), and Lena Boudreaux (Christine Adams), a recent hire clawing her way up the ladder.

Maura Tierney is Kathryn Peale, a Deputy Bureau Chief in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. She is joined by junior ADA Chad Griffin (Sean Wing). And Bruckheimer wisely brings back the breakout star of “Justice,” Eamonn Walker, to play Kathryn’s boss, DA Bureau Chief Terrence “Edge” Edgecomb.

The show follows one side setting up their case, and then we switch sides. Then it’s the trial, the verdict, and then what actually happened. It’s a good formula that gives the show a uniqueness that other legal dramas don’t have.

I’m not a big fan of Morrow, but he works well here. We’re used to seeing him play more likeable heroes, but once you see this, you’ll wonder why he hasn’t played a jerk before (although I would call Jimmy a likeable jerk). Tierney is solid as always, and it’s great to see her back on TV. She and Morrow have great chemistry, which will help as the show continues since the characters clearly have a lot of history together.

But the star of the show for me is absolutely Walker. He doesn’t get that much camera time, but he makes the most of what he gets. His smooth voice and demeanor are just so awesome, you can’t help but get sucked in.

“Truth” is not quite as good as “Justice,” but it’s pretty darn close. Its biggest problem is that it gets a little too earnest sometimes. Both Kathryn and Jimmy have their sermons about the law and what they love about it. Plus, their constant jabs back and forth at each other during the case preparation can get a little annoying.

But overall, “Truth” is a solid, enjoyable hour. It’s nice to see Bruckheimer bring back his good idea. I’m hoping that people actually watch it this time—if only to keep Eamonn Walker on my TV screen…

“The Whole Truth” premieres Wednesday, September 22nd at 10 p.m. on ABC…

Photo Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Better With You" Review: The Next "Friends"?

Ever since “Friends” went off the air in 2004, the networks have been trying to find the next “Friends.”

And now ABC has found the closest thing I’ve seen yet in “Better With You.” It’s from Shana Goldberg-Meehan, one of the producers of “Friends,” so she knows good comedy.

But she also did “Joey,” so…

“Better” focuses on three couples at different stages in their relationships. Joel and Vicky (Kurt Fuller and Debra Jo Rupp) are a longtime married couple. Their daughter, Maddie (Jennifer Finnigan), has made a “valid lifestyle choice” to not get married to her boyfriend of nine years. Ben (Josh Cooke).

Then there’s their other daughter, Mia (Joanna Garcia), who has been dating her boyfriend, Casey (Jake Lacy) for two months. When Mia and Casey start talking marriage, it throws the others—especially Maddie—into a tailspin.

My description doesn’t sound like much, because “Better” is one of those shows that you just have to watch. The writing is smart and funny, and the cast is fantastic—especially the three female leads. Finnigan is most known for drama (“Coming Home,” “Crossing Jordan”), but she was made for a romantic comedy like this one. Garcia (“Popular,” “Reba”) is always a breath of fresh air and you can never go wrong with casting Debra Jo Rupp (“That 70s Show”).

If you’re a “Friends” fan, you’ll enjoy the pilot of “Better With You.” I’m just hoping that the rest of the episodes measure up. After all, I enjoyed the pilot of “Joey” too…

“Better With You” premieres Wednesday, September 22nd at 8:30 p.m.

Photo Credit: Bob D'Amico/ABC

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"Detroit 1-8-7" Review: Is There Room for One More Cop Show?

The problem with doing a top five (or any other number list) is that after you finish it, you see something else you wish you could have included.

Well the something I wish I could have included in mine is “Detroit 1-8-7”…

I know what you’re thinking because I thought the same thing. We need another cop show on TV like we all need holes in our heads. But then I watched the “Detroit” pilot and realized we do need another cop show if it’s like this one…

“Detroit” follows a Detroit homicide unit as they work to clear their cases. The unit is led by Lt. Maureen Mason (Aisha Hinds), but the unquestioned star of the unit (and the show) is Detective Louis Fitch (Michael Imperioli). He’s a well-respected detective, but he’s got quite a few quirks. And no one really knows anything about him. In the premiere, he’s paired with a new partner, Detective Damon Washington (Jon Michael Hill), who’s on his first day in homicide. Washington and Fitch clash instantly, especially when Washington gets all caught up in the impending birth of his first child.

Sergeant Jesse Longford (James McDaniel) is caught up in something else—his impending retirement. But in the meantime, he’s still solving cases with his partner, Detective Vikram Mahajan (Shaun Majumder). Also in the unit is Detective Ariana Sanchez (Natalie Martinez), who starts the pilot without a partner.

The hour follows the detectives as they work their separate cases with lots of interesting twists and turns that will eventually bring them together. But it’s that final twist in the closing minutes that will throw you for a complete loop.

The show is gritty and real, but it’s also funny and sad and shocking. The promos compare it to “NYPD Blue” and that’s an excellent comparison. In fact, I don’t think I realized just how much I’ve missed “Blue” until I saw “Detroit.”

And having already watched the first 10 minutes of the second episode, I can tell you that it doesn’t lose a step from the excellent pilot.

Yes, there are a lot of cop dramas on TV. But there is room for just one more…

“Detroit 1-8-7” premieres Tuesday, September 21st at 10 p.m…

Photo Credit: Donna Svennevik/ABC

Pick of the Week: The Best Show of the Fall

I’ve actually already told you all about this week’s Pick, but it deserves repeating…

My Pick of the Week is the premiere of “Hawaii Five-O.”

You can read all about it here.

Since I’ve already written about this week’s Pick, let me give you a bonus…

The incredible Betty White guest stars on the season premiere of “Community” as a slightly unhinged anthropology professor.

You just know that has to be funny…

“Community” premieres Thursday, September 23rd at 8 p.m. on NBC…

Photo Credit: Trae Patton/NBC

Saturday, September 18, 2010

This Week's Fall Premiere Schedule

This is the big week. 45 returning shows and 16 new shows are premiering between Monday and Sunday. Get those VCRs/DVRs ready…

Monday, September 20th
Dancing With the Stars—8 PM (2 hrs.)—ABC
House—8 PM—FOX
Chuck—8 PM—NBC *
*Linda Hamilton guests
How I Met Your Mother—8 PM—CBS
Rules of Engagement—8:30 PM—CBS
Lone Star—9 PM—FOX*
*New series
The Event—9 PM—NBC
Two and a Half Men—9 PM—CBS
Mike & Molly—9:30 PM—CBS*
*New series
Castle—10 PM—ABC
Chase—10 PM—NBC*
*New series
Hawaii Five-O—10 PM—CBS*
*New series

Tuesday, September 21st
Glee—8 PM—FOX
The Biggest Loser—8 PM (2 hrs.)—NBC
Raising Hope—9 PM—FOX*
*New series
NCIS: Los Angeles—9 PM (2 hrs.)—CBS
Running Wilde—9:30 PM—FOX*
*New series
Detroit 1-8-7—10 PM—ABC*
*New series

Wednesday, September 22nd
Hell’s Kitchen—8 PM—FOX
The Middle—8 PM—FOX*
*Doris Roberts guests
Undercovers—8 PM—NBC*
*New series
Better With You—8:30 PM—ABC*
*New series
Law & Order: SVU—9 PM (2 hrs.)—NBC
Criminal Minds—9 PM—CBS
Modern Family—9 PM—ABC
Cougar Town—9:30 PM—ABC*
*Jennifer Aniston guests
The Whole Truth—10 PM—ABC*
*New series
The Defenders—10 PM—CBS*
*New series

Thursday, September 23rd
My Generation—8 PM—ABC*
*New series
Bones—8 PM—FOX
Community—8 PM—NBC*
*Betty White guests
The Big Bang Theory—8 PM—CBS
30 Rock—8:30 PM—NBC*
*Matt Damon guests
S#*! My Dad Says—8:30 PM—CBS*
*New series
Fringe—9 PM—FOX
Grey’s Anatomy—9 PM—ABC
The Office—9 PM—NBC
*Justin Bieber guests
Outsourced—9:30 PM—NBC*
*New series
Private Practice—10 PM—ABC
The Mentalist—10 PM—CBS

Friday, September 24th
Smallville—8 PM—CW
Medium—8 PM—CBS
The Good Guys—9 PM—FOX
Supernatural—9 PM—CW
Dateline—9 PM—NBC
20/20—10 PM—ABC
Blue Bloods—10 PM—CBS

Saturday, September 25th
48 Hours Mystery—10 PM—CBS
Saturday Night Live—11:30 PM—NBC*
*Amy Poehler hosts with musical guest Katy Perry

Sunday, September 26th
America’s Funniest Home Videos—7 PM—ABC
60 Minutes—7 PM—CBS
Extreme Makeover Home Edition—8 PM—ABC
The Simpsons—8 PM—FOX
The Cleveland Show—8:30 PM—FOX
The Amazing Race—8:30 PM—CBS
Desperate Housewives—9 PM—ABC
Family Guy—9 PM—FOX
Brothers & Sisters—10 PM—ABC
Undercover Boss—10 PM—CBS

Note that pay cable is also premiering new shows this week. Dexter returns to Showtime Sunday at 9 p.m. and Bored to Death and Eastbound & Down premiere on HBO beginning at 10 p.m.

Photo Credits: Eric McCandless/FOX and Sonja Flemming/CBS

"Running Wilde" Review: Is it the Next "Arrested Development"?

“Arrested Development” was probably the most creative comedy to ever air on TV. So now its creator, Mitch Hurwitz, has reunited with one of its stars to try and create that same magic with the new show, “Running Wilde.”

They haven’t quite succeeded, but they’re working on it—if FOX will just give them the time…

Will Arnett stars as Steve Wilde, an immature playboy whose biggest concern in life is competing with his neighbor, Fa’ad (Peter Serafinowicz). But when he crosses paths once again with his one true love, Emmy (Keri Russell), he starts to realize that he might need to find more in his life if he plans to win her heart…

That’s because Emmy is a do-gooder living in the Amazon to try and save the rainforest. She loves the life, but her daughter, Puddle (Stefania Owen), wants to live like a normal kid. In fact, she’s stopped talking in protest. But when she meets Steve, she sees an opportunity to get what she has always wanted—and maybe help Steve get what he’s always wanted too.

“Wilde” is definitely quirky and reminiscent of “Arrested” in a number of ways—Puddle serving as the narrator being one of them—but it just doesn’t reach that level of humor in the pilot. Arnett is playing the same cocky screw-up he always does, which is a little annoying. But Russell is adorable and has great chemistry with Arnett, so that salvages things a great deal. Fa’ad and the other supporting characters need fleshed out a little more, but they’ve got potential.

In fact, I think the whole show has got potential. It’s just not showing it yet. It’s like…well…arrested development. But hopefully it will get past that and become the show it could be, which is the next…you guessed it…

“Running Wilde” premieres September 21st at 9:30 p.m…

Photo Credit: FOX

"Raising Hope" Review: Standing By My Words

There’s no doubt that being a TV critic can be a very subjective business…

Two weeks ago in my column in the “Herald-Dispatch,” I named “Raising Hope” the worst new show of the fall. Then, Matt Roush of “TV Guide” called it “rollicking” and “the fall’s boldest and wackiest new comedy.” Ken Tucker of “Entertainment Weekly” named it one of the five best new shows.

Maybe I watched the wrong show…

I admit I am not a big fan of crude comedy, but I can laugh at “Family Guy” as much as the next guy. I just don’t find “Hope” funny. And I stand behind everything I said in my column.

Here it is again if you missed it…

Every year there is a new fall television show that makes you wonder what in the world the network was thinking putting it on the air.

And even though I haven't seen every new show yet, I'm pretty sure I've already seen this year's worst.

It's called "Raising Hope," and it's one of two new sitcoms debuting this fall on FOX. It comes from the mind of Greg Garcia, who created "My Name is Earl," so it's not completely surprising to see a white trash element to the show. But where "Earl" could be endearing, "Hope" is just plain offensive.

Jimmy (Lucas Neff) is a 23-year-old who seems to be going nowhere until a one-night-stand with Lucy (Bijou Phillips) makes him feel a little better about himself. That is, until he discovers that Lucy is wanted for murder. Cut to Jimmy visiting Lucy in prison and discovering she's pregnant with his baby. Lucy is awaiting execution by electric chair but she's confident that no one will execute a woman with a baby. The very next scene shows Jimmy in the viewing area watching Lucy be electrocuted with the baby on his lap.
That sets up the premise of the show, which is Jimmy and his parents—who didn't really do all that good of a job with Jimmy—trying to raise the baby, which Jimmy's mom names Hope.

If the pilot had just focused on the idea of Jimmy raising the baby and Jimmy's mother (Martha Plimpton) realizing she can redeem herself for the mistakes she made with him, it might have been okay. But the set-up is such a turn-off, you don't really care once it gets to that point.

And then there's the grandmother character. Some senior citizens organization should sue for the offensive characterization of an elderly woman the show presents. I have no idea why Cloris Leachman would be remotely interested in a role like this, let alone take it. Seeing a legend like her sitting around in her underwear just makes you want to cry.

Even worse than FOX putting "Hope" on the air at all is that they're putting it on after "Glee," a show that appeals to young people. And there is nothing about "Hope" that any young person should be watching. I feel a little guilty for watching it myself.

My hope is that clearer heads will prevail and the show won't be around long, especially since it's the lead-in for the new Will Arnett-Keri Russell comedy, “Running Wilde,” which is actually worth watching.

“Raising Hope” premieres Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 9 p.m. on FOX…

Photo Credit: Matthias Clamer/FOX

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Hawaii Five-O" Review: My New Adrenaline Rush?

Sometimes you have to wonder why Hollywood keeps remaking old shows when so many of them are complete disasters.

I know there were plenty of groans at the announcement CBS was remaking “Hawaii Five-O.” But all of those groans will be drowned out by cheers when the best pilot since “Lost” airs Monday night…

Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) is a decorated Naval officer who returns home to Hawaii after his father is murdered. But his father’s funeral is not the only thing awaiting him. There to greet him is the governor of Hawaii (Jean Smart) with a job offer. She wants Steve to head up a special task force to wipe crime off the islands. His initial response is no, until he realizes the task force can help him find his father’s murderer.

Joining him is the detective in charge of his father’s case, Danny “Danno” Williams (Scott Caan). Danny is still trying to adjust to Hawaii after moving there to be closer to his daughter. Also helping out is Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim), a friend of McGarrett’s father, who was booted from the Honolulu police force when he was wrongly accused of corruption. And there’s also Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park), Chin Ho’s cousin, who is fresh out of the police academy.

Because the governor has given the task force no restrictions and complete immunity, they don’t really no any limits. And quite frankly, neither does the pilot. It reportedly cost $8 million and it shows big time. The direction is fantastic, the scenery is gorgeous and the stunts are amazing. My biggest concern is that the rest of the season won’t be able to live up to the premiere. If it can, the show could be a real adrenaline rush. And you know I’m looking for a new one of those…

O’Loughlin has had two failed CBS shows, but I can almost guarantee the third one is going to be the charm. As good as he was as a vampire, this role suits him much better…

“Hawaii Five-O” premieres Monday, September 20th at 10 p.m. on CBS…

Photo Credit: Mario Perez/CBS

"Mike & Molly" Review: You'll Fall In Love Too

If there’s any kind of comedy I am not a fan of, it’s fat jokes. So when I heard there was going to be a sitcom about two overweight people who meet and fall for each other at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting, I was instantly concerned.

But then, I also thought the premise for “The Big Bang Theory” was lame. Chuck Lorre proved me wrong then, and he has proved me wrong now. Yes, his new sitcom, “Mike & Molly,” does have its fair share of fat jokes. But they’re never cruel. And more than that, they’re actually funny…

Billy Gardell is Mike Biggs, a police officer who’s been looking more for the right diet than the right woman. But when he meets Molly Flynn (Melissa McCarthy), an overweight school teacher, at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting, sparks immediately fly.

Trying to help Mike navigate the world of romance is his partner, Carl (Reno Wilson). Annoying Molly more than helping her is her sister, Victoria (Katy Mixon), and her mother, Joyce (Swoosie Kurtz).

The mother and sister could definitely use some better things to do, but Mike and Molly are totally adorable. I watched the pilot twice (There were two versions.) and I laughed out loud both times when Mike talks to Molly’s fourth grade class. And Molly is pretty funny in those scenes too.

I’m a big fan of the traditional sitcom and this one is as traditional as it gets—and I mean that as a total compliment. We don’t know how long it will take Mike and Molly to actually fall in love with each other. But it will only take a few minutes for you to fall in love with them…

“Mike & Molly” premieres Monday, September 20th at 9:30 p.m. on CBS…

Photo Credit: Art Streiber/CBS

"Lone Star" Review: The Next Great Primetime Soap?

When the closing credits rolled across my computer screen for the new FOX drama, “Lone Star,” I wasn’t sure what to think. But the more thought I gave to it, I realized it had unlimited potential for soapy goodness…

James Wolk, who could easily pass for George Clooney’s younger brother, stars as Robert Allen, a salesman who lives a quiet, suburban life in Midland, Texas, with his girlfriend, Lindsay (Eloise Mumford). But Wolk also plays Bob Allen, a Houston businessman, who’s married to Cat (Adrianne Palicki), the daughter of a wealthy oil tycoon.

The big twist of the show is that Robert and Bob are the same person. You see, he’s a con man. Instead of selling people shares in oil wells, he’s actually milking people out of their savings. And instead of working his way up in his father-in-law, Clint’s (Jon Voight), company, he’s actually planning to wipe it out.

Leading Bob along the way is his father, John (David Keith), who cautions Bob to not get emotionally involved. But it’s too late since Bob is in love with both Lindsay and Cat. So when an opportunity comes up for Bob to go legit, he tries to convince his dad it’s time to give up the con. But can he become an honest businessman while still living two lives?

See what I mean about soapy goodness?

Some of the cons and business deals are a little hard to follow, but you don’t have to completely understand them to enjoy the show. You just have to understand that Bob is not everything he appears to be…

Except for a really good-looking and charismatic guy who’s is in too deep. He is definitely that…

The rest of the cast is great too—especially Jon Voight. It will be interesting to see where his character goes, since we’ve already seen what a great TV villain he can be. Mark Deklin and Bryce Johnson are Trammell and Drew, Cat’s brothers. Drew respects Bob, but Trammell is pretty wary—and pretty jealous—of him. So you just know he’s going to be trouble…

For years, the networks have attempted to find the next great primetime soap opera and it’s possible that FOX has finally found it—in the guise of a family drama.

“Lone Star” premieres Monday, September 20th at 9 p.m…

Photo Credit: Patrick Ecclesine/FOX

The Fab Five of Fall TV

In case you missed it in yesterday’s “Herald-Dispatch,” here are my picks for the five best new shows the fall season has to offer…

Thursday, September 16, 2010

TNT Renews "Memphis Beat"

Some good news for Huntington native Josh Harto…

TNT announced today that it has renewed “Memphis Beat” for a second season. The 10 episodes will air in 2011.

Photo Credit: Skip Bolen/TNT

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Top Chef: Just Desserts" Review: Is It Too Much?

When I first heard about “Top Chef: Just Desserts,” I got a little concerned. Was Bravo spreading its marquis property too thin?

And after watching it, my answer is maybe. But when it looks this good, who cares?

“Desserts” is exactly what it sounds like—“Top Chef” for pastry chefs. And these aren’t just any pastry chefs. They are extremely talented and have worked for some of the biggest chefs in the world. But more importantly, they have personality—more than the current crop of chefs on “Top Chef: D.C.” There’s Seth, the slightly strange one with the mega talent. There’s Morgan, who’s already starting to come off like the jerk. And then there’s Zac, who is just plain entertaining.

The judges are also interesting. Johnny Iuzzini acts like the Elvis of the culinary world with his looks and his strut. He’s not Tom Colicchio, but he serves the role of head judge well. Dannielle Kyrillos, the editor-at-large of DailyCandy, is a hoot. She clearly enjoys being there and that’s fun to watch. We don’t see Hubert Keller in the premiere, but having seen him on “Top Chef” and “Top Chef: Masters,” I know he’s going to be great.

And then there’s Gail Simmons. I’ve often referred to her as the Paula Abdul of “Top Chef” for some of the off-the-wall comments she’s made over the years. But in the last two seasons, she has really become the voice of reason on the judging panel. And here, she handles the job of host with a nice breeziness you don’t see from Padma Lakshmi. She’s a little stiff in the beginning, but she quickly gets into it.

But maybe the most appealing thing about “Desserts” is that for the first time since I started watching “Top Chef” in season three, I actually have a clue what they’re making. And that makes it easier to understand the winners and losers.

It also makes me want some chocolate really badly…

“Top Chef: Just Desserts” premieres Wednesday, September 15th at 11 p.m. on Bravo…

Photo Credit: Steven Schafer/Bravo

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My Rant Against MLB: When Will It Ever Be Enough?

Occasionally, I veer off topic in this blog and talk about something besides TV—usually sports related. I hope you can all forgive me as I do it again, because there is something I definitely need to get off my chest…

Saturday night, I was fortunate enough to be a part of something pretty special at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. I’m not talking about seeing the hundreds of camera flashes go off as Aroldis Chapman took the mound or Joey Votto’s walk-off homer in the 10th—although both of those were pretty special. I’m talking about the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Pete Rose breaking the all-time hits record.

As soon as I heard that Major League Baseball had given the Reds permission to honor Pete on the field, I bought tickets—upper level but right behind home plate so I’d have a great view of the ceremony. So when the ceremony started and the guests of honor began to take seats along the first base line where I couldn’t really see them, I was a little bummed. Why weren’t they sitting in the infield, just as they were during the Hall of Fame Ceremony I attended in July?

Then a video showing us number 4192 played on the videoboard. That was followed by a video of Pete speaking. As the video continued, I started to get more and more confused. Why were we watching him on a video screen when he was at the stadium?

Then, finally, Pete emerged from behind the outfield, riding in a golf cart. The golf cart took him around the outfield, stopping in front of the Reds dugout where the honored guests, including Tony Perez and Cesar Geronimo were waiting. After greeting his former teammates, Pete went over to first base and stomped on it as the crowd roared. He then went back to the guests to pose for some pictures. His family came out to greet him and pose for some pictures. Then, he was presented with a trophy to commemorate the occasion. He posed for some more pictures, got back in his golf cart and then rode away.

I don’t know why it happened, but from the minute Pete came into view, I got pretty emotional. I don’t know if it was the crowd cheering, or thinking about what he must have been going through at that moment, or if I was thinking about what a huge fan of his I was when I was a kid. Whatever it was, I had more than a few tears filling my eyes. And I wasn’t the only one…

But when it was over, I have to admit, I felt a little gipped. I mean, that was it? A video and a ride around the field in a golf cart? Some waves from the first base line that provided my camera no decent shots? I was expecting a full blown ceremony with Marty Brennaman hosting and introducing Pete to thunderous applause as he thanked the city of Cincinnati and its fans. That’s what Pete deserved. And maybe, more importantly, that’s what me and the 36,000+ other fans at GABP deserved,

But Major League Baseball had other plans. You see, we didn’t see Pete address the crowd because he wasn’t allowed to. MLB had to approve his comments beforehand—thus, the video.

Which begs the question: When will MLB finally decide it has obtained its pound of flesh from one Peter Edward Rose? It’s one thing to keep him out of the game. It’s another to keep him out of the Hall of Fame. But to deny him the ability to address his fans on the anniversary of his greatest achievement? I’m sorry, but I believe that’s gone too far.

Pete was not going to say anything bad about MLB or Commissioner Bud Selig. He was not going to use the opportunity to campaign for election into the Hall of Fame. He knows better than that. He would’ve just thanked the fans, which he called the greatest in the world on the video. And I can’t even describe how much that would have meant to them…to me.

I don’t think it would surprise any of you to know that I believe wholeheartedly Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame. But that issue, nor his banishment from baseball, had anything to do with last night’s ceremony. That was as much about the fans as it was Pete. And clearly, MLB forgot that.

But the Reds did not, and they should be commended for making the best out of what they were given. No doubt they would’ve liked to have given Pete a splashy ceremony too. It’s what we all deserved…

Pick of the Week: An Icon Begins Her Farewell

I don’t usually go with syndicated shows for my Pick, but when there’s one this big, I have no choice…

My Pick of the Week is “The Oprah Winfrey Show”

This week, Oprah begins her farewell season and all indications are that she’s got some pretty special things planned, starting with the premiere. John Travolta and a mystery guest will be there. Plus, the promos are promising “one of the biggest surprises in Oprah show history.”

The farewell season of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” begins Monday, September 13th. “Oprah” airs in the Huntington-Charleston market at 4 p.m. on WSAZ. Check your local listings for the time and station in your area…

You can see a preview of the premiere here…

This Week's Fall Premiere Schedule

Next week is the big premiere week, but some shows are getting a head start this week…

Here is your premiere schedule for this week…

Monday, September 13th
90210—8 PM—The CW
Gossip Girl—9 PM—The CW

Tuesday, September 14th
One Tree Hill—8 PM—The CW
Life Unexpected—9 PM—The CW
Parenthood—10 PM—NBC

Wednesday, September 15th
Survivor: Nicaragua—8 PM—CBS
Outlaw—10 PM—NBC*
*Special preview

Thursday, September 16th
The Apprentice—10 PM—NBC

Photo Credit: Monty Brinton

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Get Ready to "Stand Up 2 Cancer"

Just a reminder that tomorrow, all three networks will team up to “Stand Up 2 Cancer.” The big three network anchors—Brian Williams, Katie Couric, and Diane Sawyer—will host the hour-long telethon featuring a variety of stars including cancer survivors Christina Applegate and Michael C. Hall.

“Stand Up 2 Cancer” airs tomorrow at 8 p.m. on ABC, CBS and NBC.

For more information about “Stand Up 2 Cancer,” visit their website.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Billy Ray's Next Move

Billy Ray Cyrus is planning his next career move…

Billy Ray has signed a deal with Syfy to develop a weekly reality series, “UFO: Unbelievably Freakin’ Obvious.” According to the press release, Billy Ray and his 21-year-old son, Trace, will “investigate the conspiracy theories that abound around unexplained activity and paranormal phenomena. The project pairs the skeptical Cyrus with his conspiracy-theorist son, and together the two amateur sleuths journey to uncover hidden secrets and obtain untold firsthand accounts.

Each episode will feature the father and son on cross-country trips that will usually find them traversing America’s back roads on their quest for the truth. Trace’s best friend, dubbed ‘Silent Franky,’ will feed the father and son with important data from his computer workstation set up in his parent’s basement. Cyrus and Trace are going to need all the help they can get as they attempt to crack the government code surrounding a wide range of potential cover-ups, from political controversies to the existence of alleged creatures to eerie occurrences that have long been in question. The series will dig deep into the venerable mysteries of paranormal existence and try to uncover the facts – and perhaps finding the truth to be more obvious than one thinks.”

Billy Ray said in the press release, “The existence of paranormal phenomena is something I've always wanted to explore further," said Cyrus. "Getting the opportunity to take this adventure with my son, who has always had a keen interest in this area, is a dream come true. I hope this series can shine a light on some of the activities we have questioned, and the mysteries that have long inspired us.”

You might remember Trace as a founding member of the group Metro Station (“Shake It”). He is currently in the process of writing an album for his new project, Ashland HIGH.

No word on when production might be completed.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

"New Jersey" Reunion Part 2: How Funny Was That?

If my husband had been home, he would have no doubt asked what was wrong with me and why I was laughing so hard.

Because I’ll admit, it’s been a while since I’ve laughed that hard at anything. But then it’s been a while since I’ve seen anything as hilarious as the big moment on last night’s final part of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” reunion.

When the show began, Jacqueline was ready to take Danielle on. So much in fact that host Andy Cohen had to hold her back. But before the show went off last night, something happened and Jacqueline decided she didn’t like the person she was becoming. She decided that she was through trying to expose Danielle. I honestly have no idea what happened to give her such a change of heart, but the next thing you know Danielle is hugging Teresa and then Jacqueline. The expressions on Caroline and Andy’s faces were priceless as they watched the display. But then it just got awkward as Danielle seemed to hang on just a little bit too long. When Danielle returned to her seat, she was ready to let bygones be bygones, even shaking Caroline’s hand.

Thankfully, though, Andy gave Caroline the last word and she declared it was the biggest bunch of crap she’d ever seen. And I have to agree.

But it did raise some interesting questions. In all honesty, it looked to me like maybe Danielle’s feelings were a little bit stronger for Jacqueline than we thought and all of her insanity this season was almost like a spurned lover acting out. But that’s just my opinion. I have nothing to back that one up.

The Bravo promos promised us that one Housewife would be gone for good, but they didn’t tell us who last night. Andy Cohen announced it on the Bravo website, telling us that it is indeed Danielle.

Danielle told “US Weekly” that she left because she was tired of being used and that she is working on her own spin-off. No big shocker there…

Bravo has renewed “New Jersey” for another season. The question now is who will make up the cast. Kim G. no doubt heard about the renewal as she seemed to be lobbying pretty hard to be next season’s villain. Personally, I could do without her…

But as long as Caroline is still on the show, I’ll keep watching. In fact, I’m trying to figure out how Caroline can adopt me because I could sure use her in my corner…

If you missed last night’s big moment, you can see it here…

Monday, September 06, 2010

"Hellcats" Review: The Same Old Stuff

The world of college cheerleading seems like the perfect place to find some new drama and angst. But apparently, the writers of “Hellcats” just weren’t looking hard enough because they’re only giving us the same old stuff…

Disney vet Aly Michalka (“Phil of the Future”) is Marti, a student at Lancer University, a college football powerhouse. But she’s only interested in graduating law school and getting away from her mother (Gail O’Grady). However, when she loses her scholarship, she’s forced to jump into the sports world by auditioning to be a cheerleader and receive a cheerleading scholarship.

Of course she makes the team—the Hellcats. But in order to stay on the team, she has to navigate the world of cheerleaders, which, unfortunately for us, means both the annoyingly peppy girls and the way too familiar mean girls.

The annoyingly peppy girl is Savannah, played by another Disney vet, Ashley Tisdale (“High School Musical”). In fact, I’d say she’s playing her “HSM” character Sharpay with just a touch more heart (and as a brunette). The mean girl is Alice (Heather Hemmens), whose broken wrist created the roster spot for Marti. Now Alice is angry that the rest of the squad and their coach, Vanessa (Sharon Leal), is making a place for Marti and taking all of her ideas. And, of course, Alice is not happy that Marti has gotten the attention of her ex-boyfriend, Lewis (Robbie Jones).

I usually like watching the heroine put the mean girl in her place, but there is just no originality here whatsoever. It’s all been done before and done better. The show is completely lacking in the attitude department—which is especially bad for a show about cheerleading.

Michalka is good and I’m happy to see that one of my faves, D.B. Woodside, will be joining the show shortly. But it’s just not enough to keep me watching…

“Hellcats” premieres Wednesday, September 8th at 9 p.m. on The CW…

Photo Credit: Andrew Eccles/CW

Pick of the Week: An Idea Worth Revisiting

The CW rolls out two of its new shows this week and one of them is my Pick…

My Pick of the Week is “Nikita.”

When it was announced that The CW was updating the USA Network drama, “La Femme Nikita,” I was a little disappointed that the network seemed to be running out of ideas. But after seeing the premiere, I would say that it’s actually an idea that was worth revisiting.

Nikita (Maggie Q) was rescued from prison as a young woman by a secret government agency known as Division. They trained her to be an assassin. But Nikita escaped and after three years in hiding, she’s back to bring down the agency.

In the premiere, the hour is divided between Nikita’s story and the story of Division’s newest recruit, Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca), who is having trouble adjusting to her new life.

There’s just something about a sexy woman taking out the bad guys that just works. But this show also works because the butt-kicking woman is not the only appeal here. Q is great but she is surrounded by a first-rate supporting cast including Shane West (“ER”) as Michael, a recruit handler; Aaron Stanford (“Traveler”) as Birkhoff, Division’s computer expert; and the always welcome Melinda Clarke (“The O.C.”) as Amanda, a Division trainer; and Xander Berkeley (“24”), as Percy, Division’s director.

Although the comparison to “Alias” is obvious, I would say that it’s more like “Dark Angel” with Nikita trying to stay one step ahead of Division while also trying to expose its secrets. And although the show does have a certain mythology to it, it’s not nearly as complicated as “Alias” and the whole Rimbaldi thing.

Plus, there’s a great twist at the end of the hour that will absolutely have you wanting to come back for more to see where the show is headed. I know I will…

“Nikita” premieres Thursday, September 9th at 9 p.m. on The CW…

Photo Credit: Ben Mark Holzberg/CW

This Week's Fall Premiere Schedule

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s fall TV premiere time. And The CW is kicking things off this week.
Here’s a look at this week’s fall premiere schedule…

Wednesday, September 8th
America’s Next Top Model—8 PM—CW
*Hellcats—9 PM—CW

Thursday, September 9th
The Vampire Diaries—8 PM—CW
*Nikita—9 PM—CW

Saturday, September 11th
Cops—8 PM—FOX
America’s Most Wanted—9 PM—FOX

Sunday, September 12th
Football Night In America—7 PM—NBC
Sunday Night Football—8:15 PM—NBC

*Denotes new show
Photo Credit: Andrew Eccles/CW

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Who's "Dancing" With Who?

Yesterday, ABC announced the celebrity-pro pairings for “Dancing With the Stars”…

Here they are from the official press release:

* MICHAEL BOLTON, Grammy ® Award-winning singer, teams up with CHELSIE HIGHTOWER, who returns for her fourth season.

* BRANDY, actress and singer, joins MAKSIM CHMERKOVSKIY, who is back for his ninth season.

* MARGARET CHO, comedienne and actress, partners with LOUIS VAN AMSTEL, who returns for his seventh season.

* RICK FOX, former NBA champion, teams up with two-time champ CHERYL BURKE, who is back for her tenth season.

* JENNIFER GREY, beloved film and television actress, joins two-time mirror ball champion DEREK HOUGH for his seventh season.

* DAVID HASSELHOFF, international superstar, teams up with Season 9 champion KYM JOHNSON, who returns to "Dancing with the Stars" for her eighth season.

* FLORENCE HENDERSON, America's favorite mom, joins CORKY BALLAS for his second season on the show.

* KYLE MASSEY, television teen star, partners up with LACEY SCHWIMMER, who is back for her third season.

* BRISTOL PALIN, teen advocate and Alaska's first daughter, teams up with two-time champ MARK BALLAS, who returns for his seventh season.

* AUDRINA PATRIDGE, MTV reality star, joins TONY DOVOLANI, who is back for his tenth season.

* MICHAEL "THE SITUATION" SORRENTINO, Jersey Shore ab-man, teams up with KARINA SMIRNOFF, who returns for her eighth season of "Dancing with the Stars."

* KURT WARNER, former pro-NFL quarterback, joins ANNA TREBUNSKAYA, who returns for her sixth season.

If Jennifer Grey has got any of the moves left she showed in “Dirty Dancing,” I’ve got to believe she’s the favorite—especially with the fearless Derek Hough. And I still think Rick Fox is going to show us something—especially since he’s paired with Cheryl Burke, who has a knack for bringing the best dancing out of athletes.

“Dancing With the Stars” premieres Monday, September 20th at 8 p.m…

Is "Memphis Beat" Getting a Second Season?

Here’s some possible good news for Huntington native Joshua Harto…

“The Hollywood Reporter” is reporting that Josh’s show, “Memphis Beat,” has been renewed for a second season. There has been no official word from TNT…

If you missed it, here’s my interview with Josh that ran in the H-D last month…

"Food Revolution" Gets Another Season

ABC announced today that it is picking up a second season of “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.” The pickup comes on the heels of the show’s Emmy win for Outstanding Reality Program.

According to the official press release, in the second season, Jamie “will bring the revolution to the nation’s second largest city of Los Angeles, CA and take on his biggest challenge yet.”

The show will run for six episodes later this season…

Photo Credit: Holly Farrell/ABC

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

"Real Housewives of DC": Crazy Like We've Never Seen

So remember when I said that “The Real Housewives of DC” couldn’t sustain interest until the famous White House gatecrashing episode?

Boy, was I wrong…

Cat is shaping up to be one of the biggest witches in “Housewives” history. She’s not afraid to open her mouth and that’s usually a bad thing. And she never follows protocol or etiquette, ticking off every socialite in town. But she is not the reason to watch…

We’ve seen crazy on “Housewives” before. Just look at Danielle from New Jersey. But we’ve never seen crazy like Michaele and Tareq Salahi.

First, Michaele throws a lavish birthday party for her friend, Paul, that she shows up late for. Then, Tareq—who makes me uncomfortable anyway—completely steals the spotlight from Paul, by using a sword to slice off the top of a bottle of his winery’s wine. Then, the next day, the Salahis’ attorney calls Paul and says they’re not paying for anything and didn’t come in the doors to the party until that was made clear.

But last week, the crazy hit another level when the Salahis invited all of the other Housewives to a grape stomping at their vineyard. During the trip, it’s revealed that the Salahis crashed another function—the Congressional Black Caucus Dinner—with some friends (They say it was a ticket mixup.). Then, the Housewives are greeted at the winery by security because of some legal battle with Tareq’s mother. And when it comes time to stomp the grapes, it’s clear that the grapes were store bought and not from the vineyard.

What in the world?

It’s becoming more and more evident that there are some serious issues here. But it’s also becoming more evident why Bravo decided to keep them in the show even after all the controversy. They’re so bizarre it’s fascinating. Tareq loves the spotlight and he doesn’t care who he shoves out to get it—including his own wife. In fact, I think Michaele seems like a Stepford Wife following whatever her husband wants. And what her husband wants is to give the impression that he’s a high roller when it’s becoming more and more obvious that he isn’t…

And it’s also obvious that I’m becoming more and more hooked on a show I didn’t think was even worth watching…

“The Real Housewives of DC” air Thursdays at 9 p.m. on Bravo. New episodes will return September 9th...

Photo Credit: Stephen Boitano/Bravo

"Real Housewives of NJ" Reunion: Seriously Bringing the Crazy

I knew it would be crazy. But somehow it ended up crazier than I could have ever imagined…

I’m talking about part one of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” reunion. Host Andy Cohen had to know he was in for it when the cameras started rolling, but I don’t think he had any idea how bad it would be. Because when Teresa came out of her chair and got in Danielle’s face, I think he thought that he could just push her back to her place. He had no idea that Teresa would shove him back into his chair. And it was clear that Teresa’s a lot stronger than she looks…

I said before the episode aired that I couldn’t wait to find out what Danielle said that made Teresa scream “Do not break up my family!” I’m still waiting. Danielle merely mentioning Teresa’s nephew seemed to set her off, but why?

And the revelation that what Caroline was referring to in last season’s reunion when she said to Danielle, “You know what you did” was that Danielle tried to get Dina’s daughter taken away? Holy crap!

Plus, sweet Jacqueline came to play and at one time Andy even had to hold her back. But it’s Caroline that always comes out the most awesome as she declared, “You wanna go? We’ll go!” I’d like to find a way for her to adopt me…

Now there’s one more 75-minute reunion episode left to go and the promos promise us that one of the Housewives will be gone for good. I think we all know it’s Danielle because all the others will quit before they do another season with her. And you just know they’re thinking spin-off for her anyway. If Andy thinks he can survive it…

Part two of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” reunion airs Monday, September 6th at 9 p.m. on Bravo. Remember it will run until 10:15 p.m…
Photo Credit: Andrei Jackamets/Bravo