Saturday, October 31, 2009

What Does A Television Critic Watch When They Are Not Watching For Work?

So what does a professional television critic watch when they are not watching for work? Fun piece about family and adult choices of Los Angeles Times television critic Mary McNamara

"The problem with being a television critic is that you have to watch so much television you don't have time to watch television.

So when people ask, as they often do, what's good, I have a tendency to reel off the last few debuts or premieres that left an impression on me. But recently a friend asked, "Well, what would you watch if you weren't getting paid to do it?" A good question, and one easily answered, as it turns out, by a brief glance at my DVR list.

I was rather surprised to note that four of the 16 shows are brand-new. Conventional wisdom has it that network television is dead, and we've all grown accustomed to that sinking feeling when the hoopla surrounding a new season begins -- oh, the bitter disappointment when the shows finally air. This season, however, everyone's gaze was firmly pinned on the new Jay Leno show (which you will notice is not on this list). The rest of the fall entered on little cat's feet and delivered a slew of pretty terrific shows -- comedies, dramas and even a musical -- that might actually stick around."
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Friday, October 30, 2009

Sex Rehab With Who Else? Dr. Drew

Dr. Drew has by accounts done great work both treating and educating about various addictions but since it is on Mary McNamara's television she has to share:

"Of course, it's just the first episode, and Dr. Drew may well lead these eight people through voyages of self-discovery that will resonate with millions of Americans. But any show that opens with the discovery and confiscation of a sex toy named after famous porn star Ron Jeremy seems content with being part of the problem rather than the solution."
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Why "Dexter" Is "Can't Wait" Instead of "Must See" Television

Mary McNamara, television critic for The Los Angeles Times, tries to explain why Dexter is one of the best shows on television:

"It's difficult to explain to someone who has never seen Showtime's “Dexter” why it is currently the most riveting and addictive show on television. When you try, you tend to sound a tiny bit psychotic.

'It's about this guy named Dexter who works as a blood splatter analyst for the Miami Police Department but is also secretly a serial killer," you say, adding quickly, "except he only kills bad people, the kind the law can't touch. He has this code of honor and he's played by Michael C. Hall, who is just amazing because he makes Dexter kind of lovable and, well, you just have to watch it.'

You finish lamely, and your friend takes a couple steps back."

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The League

"There's nothing wrong with a show about lovable losers, but they have to be, you know, lovable. Here, the men seem to be products of their writers' contempt; they're such babies that even their profanity doesn't rise from the potty. Yes, their wives are awful, their lives are empty and the only thing that connects them is fantasy, but they don't seem to have an original thought among them and for that they've got no one to blame but themselves. And, of course, the Schaffers."

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Letter To The New Producers Of The Oscar Telecast

Well the Golden Globes snatched Ricky Gervais for their show this year. Who will the Oscar telecast tap? Some say a return Jackman but some like Mary are hoping for Emmy/Tony wunderkind Neil Patrick Harris.

A helpful letter to the new producers of the Oscar telecast from the television critic at The Los Angeles Times and author of the bestselling Oscar Season and the forthcoming novel The Starlet. One word: vampires.

"The gold standard for Oscar ratings is, of course, the year Cameron's "Titanic" swept. But even if "Avatar" is no "Titanic," the 82nd Academy Awards may be the first time teenagers and young adults have had any interest in the outcome since the glory days of "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King."

So if Shankman and Mechanic are going to go musical, they might want to set up a series of lunches with Ryan Murphy or at least start power-watching his new show "Glee." The Fox hit manages to do precisely what the Oscars should: achieve a tone that is saucy and sincere while honoring disparate forces -- in "Glee's" case, talents like Amy Winehouse and Stephen Sondheim or Journey and Jerome Robbins, often in the same breath. If someone is going to sing "Tonight" at the Oscars, oh, let it be Rachel (Lea Michele) or Kurt (Chris Colfer)."

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Endgame" On PBS: Drama Of The Last Days Of Apartheid

Can talking lead to peace? PBS's Masterpiece drama Endgame is reviewed in The Los Angeles Times by Mary McNamara.

"So the first remarkable thing about “Endgame,” which premieres on "Masterpiece" Sunday night, is how deftly writer Paula Milne sets up the action. We are in South Africa in the final days of apartheid and Michael Young (Jonny Lee Miller), who works for Consolidated Goldfields, is desperately trying to set up meetings between members of the African National Congress and members of the National Party to prevent the country from literally tearing itself apart.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Final Season Of Nip/Tuck Is Here!

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BBC's four-hour movie captures the horror of war and its effect on the soldiers that fight. Click the quote for the review in the LA Times.

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HBO: The Death Of The Garment Industry "Schmatta": Rags to Riches to Rags

Click the quote for the review in the LA Times by Mary McNamara.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

After The Most Important Balloon Flight Of Our Time Maybe Television Anchors Need A Timeout

Mary McNamara looks at the media response to a six-year-old boy's comment to Wolf Blitzer and an on-air puke on the Today Show. Time for a timeout.
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"30 Rock" Returns And Doesn't Disappoint

It's back! The long national nightmare of waiting for new episodes of 30 Rock is over. Mary McNamara reviews the new season in The Los Angeles Times.

"Because like every classic of the genre, "30 Rock" is not something you watch, it's a place you visit. Where everybody knows your name. And your withholding status. And your medical history. Where there's nothing wrong with being fun and popular and giving people what they want. Ladies and gentlemen, "30 Rock."
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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

David Letterman's Immaculate Confession

"Not that the guest choice happened by accident. The first 10 minutes of Thursday's show was one of the most masterfully produced bits of televised theater we'll see in a long time. Rarely has a public figure controlled the revelation of possibly illegal and at the very least surprising sexual escapades with such a velvet glove and iron hand."
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Thursday, October 1, 2009

"Three Rivers" Plus Alfie Woodard Equals Good Drama

"It is amazing how you can turn a truly terrible show into a very promising one if you add Alfre Woodard to the cast. Oh, it helps if you rewrite and reshoot the pilot too, but the addition of Woodard is key; somehow, she manages to lift the bar by just showing up."

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Oscar Season Now In Trade Paperback $14.00

The classic mystery novel and today’s paparazzi coincide in this engaging, insider’s look at Hollywood in the weeks leading up to the Academy Awards.

She is one of the very few reporters allowed to witness pre-telecast rehearsals and for years has covered Oscar night from the celebrity side of the red carpet and backstage during the show.

A recent recipient of an L.A. Press Club and American Association of Features Editors Awards for her industry coverage, she has interviewed innumerable stars and directors, and used her experience to craft this deliciously entertaining whodunit.

Wide audience: This novel will fascinate the many readers captivated by Hollywood and the celebrity lifestyle, while also appealing to mystery devotees and fans of smart, entertaining women’s fiction. It’s equal parts Jackie Collins, Michael Tolkin, and Sue Grafton.