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Monday, Aug 16, 2010
If you want to know what’s new on primetime TV this fall, stop right here.

This is the time of year when all the broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and the CW) put out those cheap, cheesy “preview” specials. They often put them on at odd times, and mostly focus on what seems to be the worst of what they have to offer. Consider this as an improved version of that.


The following are previews of the new shows that will be airing on Monday nights, along with a little background information and some speculation on how long they might last.


At 9 pm time, FOX has the new Texas-based drama, Lone Star. It centers on a rich family who is about to be conned by another shady family.



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Thursday, Jul 29, 2010
As a fan of both Paul McCartney and the Beatles, I heard quite a bit about this special, and had low expectations. The event seemed focus too much on itself and its guests instead of the real reason they were there.

Forgive me for the vague title, but Paul McCartney: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, in Performance is an exceedingly long name for a TV special, even if it is on PBS. Unfortunately, its title wasn’t the only thing that needed a little more planning.


The special, which debuted Wednesday night, began with some behind-the-scenes footage of McCartney arriving at the capitol and meeting with some of the show’s performers, with concert footage from his Good Evening New York City DVD mixed in for good measure. Unfortunately, this interesting video was presented to us in black and white. This could have been a nod to A Hard Day’s Night, but I still think it would have been better in color. Fortunately, the rest of the event (except “Yesterday”) was in the type of clear, color film that really pops out in HDTV.


McCartney opened the festivities with “Got to Get You Into My Life”, and you can tell just from the way he said “white house” how important this was to him. A nice touch to the event was the fact that Paul’s own touring band provided back up for both him and most of the other performers. However, being broadcast from a rather small stage in what appeared to be a dining room, the acoustics seemed to be a little off throughout the night.



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Tuesday, Jul 27, 2010
These puppeteers of Tinseltown tomfoolery haven't just performed an architectural miracle in Brooklyn; they’ve also beaten the odds and (at least presently) put a previously cursed actor into a hit series.

There are few destinations in this world or any other that simply scream summer more than Greenpoint. Greenpoint, the Brooklyn neighborhood with hipster-lousy Williamsburg to the south and undeniably less hipster-lousy Long Island City to the north, is a sweltering morass of concrete and cacophony this time of year, with the relief of the occasional breeze offset by the stench of rotting garbage, human waste and cigarette smoke carried along in its dithering. Greenpoint, naturally, is where the iconic guest house on USA’s Royal Pains is located.


Okay, so that isn’t exactly true. I mean, yes, the guest house that’s larger than most domiciles in the neighborhood actually is in Greenpoint, but only the interior. Utilizing some terrifically (for television) Hollywood magic, the producers of Royal Pains have constructed a spacious Hamptons cottage complete with ocean breezes in a Greenpoint studio. It’s also my neighborhood, which meant I was able to walk there during a recent visit to the set as cast and crew worked on an episode of the show, currently in its second season. These puppeteers of Tinseltown tomfoolery haven’t just performed an architectural miracle in Brooklyn; they’ve also beaten the odds and (at least presently) put a previously cursed actor into a hit series. 


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Thursday, Jul 8, 2010
TNT's Memphis Beat blends local color and cop drama, but can it bring these two elements together for something we haven't seen before?

According to its slogan, TNT knows drama, and in the summer it does viewers a tremendous favor by producing new, original one-hour dramas. TNT’s dramas tend to cover known ground: crime procedurals, medical dramas, and tales of redemption. As an added bonus, these shows star relatively famous people – Kyra Sedgwick, Holly Hunter, Jada Pinkett Smith, Timothy Hutton – as captivating, specially skilled protagonists. Production values are relatively high, the acting is OK, and the stories are average, if generally unremarkable.


The newest addition to this family of dramas is Memphis Beat, a crime procedural that co-stars Jason Lee and the city of Memphis.Results, as they say, are varied.


There is potential here. While it’s certainly odd for anyone raised on Kevin Smith movies or My Name is Earl fans to see Jason Lee play a cop, he really is trying to bring Detective Dwight Hendricks to life. The problem is, neither Lee nor the audience seem to know who Hendricks is. Nor does anyone really seem to know what this show is or what it wants to be. This problem, which runs throughout Memphis Beat and works its way down into its core, is the key factor holding the show back from being good. When viewers don’t know why they should care, they generally don’t.


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Friday, Jul 2, 2010
Bravo's new competitive reality show brings art into our living rooms, but do we lose some of the romance of the art world when we see it on TV?

The phrase “the art world” can conjure vague, non-specific images: galleries, standing still and speaking in hushed tones, wine, pretension, and climate controlled rooms. For many, “art” in the “high art” sense is not a part of day-to-day life, except on the rare occasions a nearby city has an interesting or controversial exhibit, or when we’re invited to a friend’s art school graduation, and on such occasions, we take the time to browse and ponder art affixed to walls, pedestals, hanging from ceilings… 


Regular exposure to such “institutionalized” art requires, for many, the concentrated effort to go off the beaten path. Luckily for those whose museum attendance record is somewhat lacking, Bravo’s Work of Art: The Next Great Artist brings that world into our living rooms in a recognizable, Bravo-styled format (Work of Art follows the successful Project Runway/Top Chef reality competition template).  What results is an art competition that marries the highbrow world of finer things with the lowbrow world of reality television for a slightly dramatic, generally pleasant evening of television.


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