March 30, 2013 |
From the nation that brought you "Are You Being Served?" comes "Mr. Selfridge," a loose dramatization of the founding of a British retail institution, the Selfridge & Co. department store, familiarly called Selfridges. Its eight-part run begins Sunday, under the colors of PBS' "Masterpiece. " Starring Jeremy Piven as Harry Gordon Selfridge, the American who brought recreational shopping to Britain, it is neither a miniseries nor a biopic, but a full-on, open-ended TV series - a second season is already slated for 2014 - which, like "The Tudors/The Borgias," takes real people from a real place and time and embroiders their lives with the sort of things you watch television for. There are resemblances to "Mad Men," as well, in that it is a period piece about the business of selling and the dreaminess of buying; and of "Downton Abbey" because it is concerned with social mobility at the end of the Edwardian era and ... big hats.
March 2, 2013 |
To create a successful antihero, a writer must pull off a narrative sleight of hand, convincing the audience that black is white, or at least an acceptable shade of gray. The trick is to pull it off without getting caught, which is the first failure of ABC's high-aspiring but poorly executed "Red Widow. " In the series, which premieres Sunday, the antihero is Marta Walraven (Radha Mitchell) living the uber Mommy high life in Marin County until her husband is gunned down in her driveway.
February 19, 2013 |
No art form is more sensitive to social media than television. Over the years, shows as disparate as "Grey's Anatomy," "Mad Men" and "The Colbert Report" widened and intensified their fan bases through Twitter, Facebook, network websites and YouTube, making devotion just as important as ratings in defining a show's success. But there can be a dark side to this intensity; a fan's feeling of ownership can erupt in vitriolic hysteria when a beloved character is killed or an episode doesn't deliver - the social-media furor over the first season finale of "The Killing" almost got the show canceled.
February 8, 2013 |
"The Job," which premieres Friday on CBS, puts a reality-show spin on the hiring process - which is to say, it does explicitly what many reality shows do figuratively. Here, five "highly qualified candidates," a new batch each week, sell themselves to a tribunal of executives who will hire one for their company (also new each week) within the hour. Linking their series to the weak economy and job market, the producers (including Mark Burnett of "Survivor" and "Shark Tank" and "The Celebrity Apprentice")
February 1, 2013 |
For those who follow the Gospel According to Netflix, Friday is the day the world changes, instantly and forever. The day when viewers, too long oppressed by commercials, cliffhangers and increasingly erratic scheduling dictated by greedy network overlords, rise up in glorious revolution and seize the means of consumption. As of 12:01 a.m. Friday, all 13 episodes of the highly pedigreed "House of Cards" - Adapted from a British miniseries! Directed, at least initially, by "The Social Network's" David Fincher!
January 31, 2013 |
It's not surprising that the good folks at NBC decided to give a modernized Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde serial a go. Having made their way through vampires, zombies, werewolves and the occasional ghost/T. rex/space invader, network execs and television writers are banging up against the back wall of the monster cupboard these days, and Robert Louis Stevenson's "case study" of a physician who fatally attempts to isolate the good and bad portions of his personality remains a classic, regularly reprised in a variety of ways.
January 25, 2013 |
Loving Shakespeare with a love so immoderate it would take a Shakespeare to describe it, I was pretty well pre-sold on "Shakespeare Uncovered," a six-part analytical-historical gambol through several of his plays, beginning Friday on PBS. By the same token, I am liable to be more critical of the product; but as it turns out, it's a treat. Each episode has a different host, and each represents a personal journey through the play (or in some cases, plays), telling the story from beginning to end, but embroidering it with clips and commentary to explore the meaning of the work in its time and our time.
January 17, 2013 |
Australian comic Jim Jefferies, who worked for years out of England and is known in the U.S. for some HBO comedy specials and whatever else winds up on YouTube, is now the star of his own American situation comedy, "Legit," in which he plays Australian comic Jim Jefferies. It premieres Thursday on FX, which is home to the best television series starring a stand-up comedian as himself, Louis C.K.'s "Louie," and to "Wilfred," which, like "Legit," features an Australian (Jason Gann)
January 15, 2013 |
Kevin Hart's amiable, loose-limbed "Real Husbands of Hollywood," which premieres Tuesday on BET, is not so much a parody of the Bravo franchise, whose name it echoes and structure it borrows, as it is a kind of (mostly) black "Curb Your Enthusiasm. " As with Larry David's HBO comedy, the successful entertainers play themselves as unremarkable, petty, confused, obsessive, argumentative and rarely bothered with actual work. (Which does pretty much describe the cast of any "Real Housewives" series you might name.)
January 14, 2013 |
In 1982, Sarah Jessica Parker, who 16 years later would play Carrie Bradshaw on "Sex and the City," played a smart, suburban teenage outsider on Anne Beatts' paean to high school unpopularity, "Square Pegs. " And now Carrie Bradshaw is being played as a smart, suburban teenage outsider, in 1984, by AnnaSophia Robb, in a rather charming "Sex and the City" prequel, "The Carrie Diaries," premiering Monday on the CW. Apart from the hair (crinkly) and the height (short), Robb does not particularly resemble the young Parker, whom she is playing, in a sense, and whose features are delicate where Parker's are strong.