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October 20, 2014

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Early Look: Kids in the Hall Are Creepy Funny in 'Death Comes to Town'

by Nick Zaino, posted Aug 20th 2010 4:30PM
Kids in the Hall present 'Death Comes to Town' on IFCWhen 'Death Comes to Town' debuts tonight on IFC, it will mark the first time in 15 years the Kids in the Hall have been together on TV. All five kids - Bruce McCulloch, Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson - went their separate ways after their feature film 'Brain Candy,' in 1996.

But they weren't able to stay away from each other for long, reuniting for tours in 2000, 2002, and 2008. The last tour happened to coincide with the writers' strike, which helped get the Kids writing together again. They were looser than ever on that tour, and obviously enjoyed each other's company. They even made a short film or two for the tour, and started thinking about working together on camera again.

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Early Look: Laura Linney Makes Quirky 'The Big C' Human

by Joel Keller, posted Aug 16th 2010 1:04PM
Laura Linney in 'The Big C' on ShowtimeCancer isn't exactly the best source of comedy in the world. Even if you can make the subject of your movie or sitcom a cancer victim who takes his or her diagnosis with humor, aplomb and resignation, you have to deal with everyone in that person's world falling apart as they see their friend or loved one get sicker and weaker as their time runs out.

But what if your main character is also so uptight that she doesn't want anyone to know? That's how we come up with the formula for 'The Big C,' which begins tonight at 10:30PM ET on Showtime. Laura Linney stars as Cathy Jamison, who's prissy and reserved until she finds out she has stage four melanoma. She then decides to take whatever time she has left and live her life the way she wanted to before marriage, kids and career made her into such a straitlaced adult.

That's all well and good, but here's the rub: she decides not to tell anyone about her illness. Weird, right? Somehow, though, Linney makes us believe that such a situation could exist in real life. The force of her charm makes us like Cathy even though it seems like she's making her friends and family think she's gone off her rocker, while using them to make her last months more amusing for herself.

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Early Look: 'Mad Men' Resets Itself in Season 4

by Joel Keller, posted Jul 19th 2010 1:00PM
Jon Hamm in the Season 4 premiere of 'Mad Men'
The longer 'Mad Men' is on the air, the tougher Matthew Weiner's job gets. As well as he knows the world he's created and the characters within it, it has to get tougher to keep the show from repeating itself. There are only so many cigarettes Don Draper can smoke, only so many whiskeys the staff can drink, only so many butts for Roger Sterling to pat before the show becomes a parody of itself. Even Draper's deep introspective moments have the potential to get old if nothing else is going on.

Perhaps Weiner sensed this as well; he made a smart move at the end of season 3 by throwing much of what viewers knew about the show and its characters out the window. Season 4, which debuts on AMC on Sunday, July 25 at 10PM ET, picks up that trend, and while the season premiere is entertaining -- and actually laugh-out-loud funny at times -- it leaves a viewer excited and a little scared at the same time.

(Minor spoilers ahead...)

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Early Look: 'Covert Affairs' Needs to Find Its Voice

by Joel Keller, posted Jul 13th 2010 5:03PM
Chris Gorham and Piper Perabo in 'Covert Affairs' on USA NetworkUSA Network's slogan is "Characters Welcome." In order to follow that credo, every original series they put on the air has to have a central character or characters who are quirky, troubled, or have a checkered back story. Most of the time, the character has all three. The formula has been mostly a success, as a fair amount of the shows they put on the air attract sizable cable audiences and usually go on multiple-year runs.

'Covert Affairs,' which debuts tonight, July 13 at 10PM ET, could be one of them. The show's lead, Piper Perabo, is appealing and brings more to her femme fatale role than most. But the pilot was crammed so much quirkiness into Perabo's character of newbie CIA agent Annie Walker that viewers don't have a good feel for what the show is going to be about by the time the 75-minute pilot is over.

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Early Look: Harmon and Alexander Charm in 'Rizzoli & Isles'

by Joel Keller, posted Jul 10th 2010 10:02AM
Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander in 'Rizzoli & Isles' on TNT
The first thing you notice about 'Rizzoli & Isles,' a new cop drama in TNT's cop-drama-heavy schedule, is that you're just dropped into the middle of the title characters' world without much of an introduction. "Show, don't tell" is a maxim that every screenwriter and novelist learns early in their careers; Tess Gerritsen -- on whose books this show is based -- and Janet Tamaro have followed this maxim almost to the point where there's no exposition at all.

And, while the concept behind the show -- a cop and a coroner who are polar opposites but are best friends and a crack crime solving team -- isn't revolutionary by any means, the show's leads, Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander, make it work by so thoroughly inhabiting their characters.

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Early Look: Frustrating But Hilarious 'Louie' Delves Into the Bleak Worldview of Louis C.K.

by Joel Keller, posted Jun 28th 2010 3:10PM
Louis C.K. in 'Louie' on FXIf you've ever listened to the stand-up comedy of Louis C.K. -- or read the hilariously epic interview I did with him -- you know that he's not exactly the world's most happy-go-lucky guy. Sure, he loves his kids and feels like it's the manly thing to do to step up and be a parent instead of someone who takes orders from their mother. Sure, he enjoys the fruits of his success, even if he feels guilty about doing it. But he also knows that there's a lot about life that's fruitless and ultimately frustrating; he's "seen too much," in his words. Even if you find the love of your life and have a happy marriage, for instance, the relationship will end when one of you dies.

But it's that kind of worldview that makes C.K.'s new show, 'Louie,' so provocative. In the show, which debuts June 29 at 11PM ET on FX, we see all of his guilt about being wealthy, his discomfort with being newly-single in his forties, his curiosity about what's offensive and what's not these days. But the result of all that exploration is a maddeningly inconsistent ride that makes you long to hit up the comedy clubs of New York to see more of Louie's stand-up.

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Early Look: 'Rookie Blue' is Bland but Harmless Summer Fare

by Joel Keller, posted Jun 24th 2010 3:00PM
Missy Peregrym in 'Rookie Blue''Rookie Blue,' which ABC debuts tonight at 10PM ET, is harmless, good for a summer night when all that's on is reality and baseball, and you're not in the mood to watch either.

Unfortunately, the harmlessness of the show is its biggest problem.

It's about a team of rookie cops that are trying to feel their way during the first days on patrol after graduating the academy. There are cases to break and perps to chase down, but the point of the show is more about how these rooks interact with each other, the skeptical veterans on the force, and deal with the stresses of their jobs. There's sure to be lots of romance going on, as even the show's star, Missy Peregrym, likens it to a cop version of 'Grey's Anatomy.' It's even in the same timeslot.

Except for Peregrym's character, though, there isn't enough there yet to muster up any enthusiasm from the viewer. At least not for this viewer.

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Early Look: 'Futurama' Returns with a Mixed Bag

by Joel Keller, posted Jun 22nd 2010 11:29AM
Scene from 'Futurama' - 'Rebirth'
When I talked to David X. Cohen, executive producer and showrunner of 'Futurama,' about what season the show is on, he had a very hard time coming up with an answer. Considering FOX used to air the show in an extremely disjointed manner, he decided to go by production seasons. According to him, this upcoming season, which debuts on Thursday, June 24 at 10PM ET on Comedy Central, is considered the show's sixth.

This included the series of DVDs that were broken up into the initial set of 16 episodes that ran on Comedy Central. And, just like those movies, the first two new standalone episodes were a mixed bag. The season starts of with a bang, and then continues with an episode that could have been better if it wasn't weighed down with trying to convey a message.

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Early Look: 'Memphis Beat' - Quirky Cop Overwhelms Standard Cop Drama

by Joel Keller, posted Jun 21st 2010 11:22AM
Jason Lee in 'Memphis Beat'It's been a couple of days since I saw the pilot of 'Memphis Beat,' and I'm still trying to figure out what the show wants to be. Does it want to be a gritty exploration of the criminal underbelly of Memphis, a city mostly known for its music, barbecue and easygoing Southern pace? Does it want to be a character study of a cop, Dwight Hendricks (Jason Lee), who's a bit on edge since his divorce and does things his own way? Or does it want to be a straight-ahead procedural?

Once the show figures out what it wants to be -- and I have some thoughts on what it should be -- it might prove to be successful in the drama-laden TNT lineup (the show premieres Tuesday, June 22 at 10PM ET). Until then, though, the show has the potential to painfully lurch around in search of that identity.

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Early Look: Retro Sitcom 'Hot in Cleveland' is Saved By its Four Leads

by Joel Keller, posted Jun 15th 2010 3:03PM
Wendie Malick, Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and Betty White in 'Hot in Cleveland'
If 'Hot in Cleveland,' TV Land's first foray into scripted comedy, feels like it's a throwback, that's because it is. Four veteran stars, an audience, multiple cameras, lines that are full of zingers and audience-pleasers. It's a model that has been derided in critic circles for years, even though when the writing and the acting is strong, it works like a charm. After all, the most popular comedies on TV -- 'The Big Bang Theory' and 'Two and a Half Men' -- follow this formula.

Most of the time, when the writing is bad, the show will be, too, no matter how good the actors are -- witness the god-awfulness that was ABC's 'Hank' last year. But every so often, the acting elevates the mediocre material and makes the show entertaining enough to keep people curious.

That's the case with 'Hot in Cleveland,' which debuts on June 16 at 10PM ET. Without the collective strength of the four pros that are the show's leads -- Valerie Bertinelli, Wendie Malick, Jane Leeves and the incomparable Betty White -- the pilot's implausible premise and eye-rolling dialogue would have been suitable for an episode of 'Three's Company' instead of a show debuting in 2010. But maybe it's that way on purpose. Read on to find out why.

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Damages season three -- An early look

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Jan 21st 2010 2:00PM
Glenn Close stars as Patty Hewes on the season premiere of DAMAGES airing Monday, Jan. 25th at 10 p.m. ET on FX.
When Damages burst on to the TV scene in the summer of 2007, it turned everything upside down. Creators Glenn and Todd A. Kessler and Daniel Zelman took a tired television genre and re-invented it so well that it became hard to pigeonhole Damages in the very category that spawned it. It was so much more than a legal thriller and the drama's tense plotting and unique time shifting storytelling technique made the show worthy of scholarly debate -- blink and you'll miss something important.

Now entering its third season, Damages is prepped to turn the legal world on its head again when FX's superb thriller returns this Monday night, January 25, at 10 p.m. ET. Based on the first two episodes, Glenn Close and the rest of the top-notch cast make the same case that they did the previous two seasons -- this is must see, can't miss television.

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24 season eight -- An early look

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Jan 14th 2010 10:00AM
Kiefer Sutherland stars as Jack Bauer in season eight of FOX's '24.'"WHERE CAN I BUY A METROCARD?!?!"

Though it's not something you'd expect to hear an angry Jack Bauer scream at an unsuspecting tourist, people familiar with New York City are going to be amazed that he doesn't need to.

Season eight of the real-time drama drops Bauer into the borough of Manhattan and when 24 returns in just a few days (it premieres this Sunday January 17 at 9 p.m. ET and Monday January 18 at 8 p.m. ET on FOX), it's almost comical how easy Bauer seems to get around the city. That's half the fun of it though -- eight seasons in and haven't the terrorists learned their lesson yet? Jack Bauer will always find you.

However, that doesn't mean Jack's alone in this. As many of the previews for the new season have pointed out, Bauer is a retired man, a grandfather to boot, and there's a whole new crop of CTUers ready to pick up the torch.

Details and spoilers on the new season after the jump.

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How I Met Your Mother's 100th episode -- An early look

by Joel Keller, posted Jan 8th 2010 11:06AM
HIMYM: Girls vs. Suits
If you're a fan of How I Met Your Mother -- and if you're reading this, you likely are -- the video preview of Monday's episode probably got you pretty excited. After all, it's Neil Patrick Harris and the cast, singing and dancing about Barney Stinson's love of suits. What's not to like, right? If you were wondering, though, how the rest of the episode was, I'm here to tell you that it's the best episode of the season, and maybe the best episode we've seen in a couple of years.

Come with me after the jump and I'll explain. No worries; there won't be any spoilers in this post.

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Chuck season three -- An early look

by Allison Waldman, posted Jan 7th 2010 1:02PM
chuck_sarah_NBC
This Sunday night, Chuck returns to NBC for a special two-episode, two hour jump start into season three. Expect to be dazzled. NBC was good enough to send an impressive press kit for Chuck's new season, including five episodes.

For those of you who were concerned about how the show would handle the many changes promulgated by the end of last season, you can relax. While it's no spoiler to reveal that Chuck now has the fully integrated Intersect 2.0 inside his head, complete with martial arts skills and other talents (Flamenco guitar?) it's also not a surprise that having all that in his brain doesn't mean that life is any easier for a simple, Burbank IT guy.

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Tracey Ullman's State of the Union, season three -- An early look

by Brad Trechak, posted Dec 27th 2009 11:03AM
Tracey Ullman's State of the UnionBritish female comedy impressionists like Catherine Tate should pay royalties to Tracey Ullman for copying her schtick. Ullman was the original and still remains one of the best, if not THE best, at what she does.

As with the first two seasons of her Showtime series Tracey Ullman's State of the Union, she pretends to be, or rather becomes, different personalities across the United States over a single day with an ubiquitous announcer informing us of who she is and where in the country she is located. She even impersonates various celebrities on the way, and sometimes she is more than one of them at the same time.

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