Jun 292012
 
"Anger Management" Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen. The winner takes it all…

Last night FX shown double opening bill of Charlie Sheen’s new sitcom “Anger Management”, loosely based on movie of the same title with Jack Nicholson. 46 years old and earning considerably smaller salary than his last TV endeavour Sheen and producers of the show have managed to secure quite interesting  Debmar-Mercury syndication deal for this project guaranteeing them order of 90 episodes from FX if the show’s first 10 episodes is successful enough.

The series opening scene attempts brave bridge between the script and real life events of Sheen’s angry tirade against his “Two And A Half Men” producer Chuck Lorre and consequent raving meltdown in front of  media that spawned well known wave of internet memes and countless autotune remixes of his infamous “winning” interviews. The bridging itself was done quite well and raised a chuckle, but what followed for the rest of both episodes can only be described as very average test tape outtake material barely glued together by both leading actors.

Charlie plays Charlie (yes, again), Dr. Charlie. predictably an anger management therapist sidekicked in private life by his girlfriend, a psychologist, played competently by Selma Blair (“Cruel Intentions”, “Hellboy”) and professionally invested in a sofa full of stereotypical characters with mild anger issues, probably developed because they fail badly at comedy acting. Sheen’s safely scripted role and with Blair as second chair, the series is probably safe enough to run through all of the 10 ordered episodes, but there isn’t much going for it otherwise. This time around Charlie doesn’t have anyone to bounce his “cool kid” routine off, he looks incredibly tired and does his role on autopilot. But the sofa of highly predictable, high strung, miserable, megalomaniac, douche and bigoted patients delivered with the kind of skill and talent you would expect to find at the back of American Idol first auditions queue is an anchor to this boat. This format and topic almost immediately asks for one off celebrity guests and enough interaction between secondary characters to create secondary mini plots. None of which is delivered. Repeating the same jokes about narcissist, gay, voyeur and an old bigot,  just doesn’t make for good comedy these days and becomes very repetitive after 15 minutes. It’s not for me. I don’t think this series will survive season one without major cast reshuffle, but I wish Mr. Sheen the best at securing full 90 episode run.

 Posted by at 12:17
Jun 282012
 

The following is the list of completely new TV series premieres on US networks still to come this summer. Scripted stuff only – reality shows, kids programmes and game shows excluded:

Tonight, June 28 FXAnger Management” Charlie Sheen returns to screens as anger management therapist. With: Charlie Sheen, Selma Blair. FX 9:00/8:00c
United Kingdom In UK the show was picked by Comedy Central Canada In Canada broadcast was secured by CTV Australia 9 Network /Go acquired rights for Australia Germany Vox will broadcast the series in Germany All international premiere dates to be announced

July 9, Monday TNTPerception”  Neuroscientist assists the FBI on some of their most complex cases. With: Eric McCormack, Rachael Leigh Cook, Arjay Smith, Kelly Rowan. TNT 10:00/9:00c

July 15, Sunday USA “Political Animals” Miniseries following former First Lady in active duty as Secretary of State and her family. High profile cast. With: Sigourney Weaver, Carla Gugino, Ciarán Hinds, James Wolk, Sebastian Stan, Ellen Burstyn, Brittany Ishibashi USA 10:00/9:00c

The cast of "Political Animals"

Political Animals. From left to right:
James Wolk as Douglas Hammond, Sebastian Stan as T. J. Hammond, Sigourney Weaver as Elaine Barrish, Carla Gugino as Susan Berg and Ciarán Hinds as Bud Hammond

July 19, Thursday TBS “Sullivan & Son” Sitcom about corporate lawyer who takes over a bar in Pittsburgh owned by his father. With: Steve Byrne, Dan Lauria, Jodi Long, Owen Benjamin, TBS 10:00/09:00c

Aug 13, Monday TNT “Major Crimes” Spin off of “The Closer” with half the cast. With: Mary McDonnell, G. W. Bailey, Tony Denison, Michael Paul Chan, Raymond Cruz TNT 9:00/8:00c

Aug 19, Sunday BBC AmericaCopper” Keeping the peace in the Five Points neighborhood in 1860s New York City. With: Tom Weston-Jones, Kyle Schmid, Anastasia Griffith, Franka Potente. BBC America 09:00/08:00c 
Canada In Canada, the series will premiere on August 26, 2012 on Showcase.

Aug 20, Monday MTVThe Inbetweeners” US remake of the cult British comedy series about four dysfunctional teens. With: Joey Pollari, Bubba Lewis, Mark L. Young, Zack Pearlman, Alex Frnka, Brett Gelman. MTV Monday 10:30/09:30c Starts August 20, 2012

 Posted by at 18:19
Jun 252012
 
HBO's "The Newsroom" poster

Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” on Sundays on HBO

On Sunday, 24th of June HBO aired 74 minute pilot episode of Aaron Sorkin’s new drama “The Newsroom”. Similar to last decade “Sports Night” and recent “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” it’s a tv show about tv show, an area of almost speciality for Sorkin, which usually guarantees superbly developed stories and very entertaining viewing. Unfortunately it usually also guarantees that the show will go with a loud “woosh” high over the heads of standard polled US TV audience and their attention span, which in terms means shorter lifespan for TV series then we would like here in Europe (“Sports Night” managed just two season and “Studio 60” survived single season despite both being highly acclaimed, internationally syndicated, incredibly well written shows, if not the best in their broadcast years).

I am happy to confirm that “The Newsroom” is no exception to the rule and lives up to expectations. The pilot focusing solely on introduction of the new production team to an hour long news commentary program at the brink of one of the biggest news stories of 2010, is smart and witty, with bitter punchlines and excellent dialogue full of typical Sorkin machine gun fire banter between characters. Similar to early West Wing, the pilot script is right from the start openly obvious about its political stance and doesn’t wait more than 10 minutes to deliver preachy and condescending faux pass left hook right on the nose of  the star spangled flag waving, empty head saluting, middle American red state elephantism, which makes for entertaining viewing to anyone outside of U.S. but is guaranteed to create wave of negative press and slating reviews for the series on its own soil.

Where the pilot script defends itself with musketeerial flair and finesse, things are somewhat different when it comes to casting. It’s no secret that the casting in Sorkin series always ends up with unusual set of female leads and supports. Although Sorkin’s female leads almost never lack the talent, the way characters are usually presented to us, viewers, is quite a different story. Throughout most of his previous series we were treated to one of the two character types – either “looking too old for her age” dry, agressive, almost manly, raging “forever alone” or “easy on the eye, borderline psychotic complete basket case” female leads. And although in nearly all cases the female roles in most of Sorkin’s TV series were delivered brilliantly (who can forget C.J. from West Wing) very often though this pool of repetitive character types appears to be then slightly mis-casted, as if the part was written for someone else and given to another actress at the last minute. The talent is there, but it’s the character that doesn’t fit. As a result, quite often the script later force the characters rather unachievable tasks. Like Felicity Huffman vs Peter Krause in “Sports Night” for example. As Casey’s love interest Dana was out of her depth, out of her league and on top she looked at least a decade his senior. But the script made her behave as if her role was written for Amanda Peet vs Matthew Perry. , it was due to those constraints, that very often supporting female cast  of his series are much easier to warm up to than the leads. And “The Newsroom” is no exception. Continue reading »Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” – Stands Out… «

Jun 182012
 
Season 2 of "Falling Skies"

The cast of “Falling Skies” trying to shoot they way out of the set.

Last night second season of Steven Spielberg produced sci fi post apocalyptic series “Falling Skies” returned to the US TV screens with double bill of two separate episodes broadcasted back to back. Most of us can agree the first season of “Falling Skies” was a bit of a car crash even compared to previous low budget attempts at the subject such as Jeremiah or Jericho. And most of us were surprised when the network announced season two, especially when many of the much better produced and received series that year were canned. I didn’t set my hopes high for season two, but against all odds decided to take a peek at what it has to offer.

The good news is – the budget probably improved. Or special effects got cheaper. One of the two. The new season looks better visually. While Moon Bloodgood (“Terminator Salvation”, “Day Break”) and Noah Wyle (“E.R”, “E.R” and, probably “E.R.”) look less like they were in a queue to jobcenter and more like they are leading characters. So that’s improvement. The bad news however, is, that the pace, feel and script is still shocking bad. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but let me just reveal this: Double bill season premiere. 50% of which (and 10% of the entire season effectively) is spent on two handful of extras and a bus, crossing a bridge. Of course I am exaggerating slightly, there is a tad more to the plot than that. But it’s not far off. It’s bad enough that most of the time you have to watch the same group of people moving in front of camera over and over to create crowd.  One bridge. One bus. One handful of extras. One episode. Continue reading »“Falling Skies” returns for second season, no… «