One of the highlights of the summer press tour for me was an unplanned one. I was coming back from a party, and Fienberg told me that PBS was doing a late-night screening of "Pearl Jam Twenty," the Cameron Crowe-directed documentary about the band's tumultuous two decades that debuted last night as part of the "American Masters" series.(*) I had writing to do, and/or sleep to catch up on, but I figured I'd go for a half hour, get a sense of what questions to ask at the press conference the next morning, and then call it a night.
What did everybody think of Cameron Crowe's rock documentary?
What did everybody think of Kelsey Grammer's new Starz drama?
I posted my review of Starz's "Boss" yesterday. (And Fienberg published his earlier this evening.) Now it's your turn. How did you feel about Kelsey Grammer's performance, Gus Van Sant's very stylized direction, the glimpses we saw of (fictionalized) Chicago politics, the supporting characters, the disease and all the rest? Too many speeches? Not enough speeches? How are you feeling about eyeballs right about now? And ears, for that matter?
Under more optimal circumstances, I would be doing full-length reviews of each "Boss" episode, but I think I'm at critical mass in that area right now (especially with "Chuck" returning on Fridays starting next week). So for the time being, the plan is to set up quick talkback posts like this one, perhaps touching on a specific part of the episode I'm curious about reaction on, but mainly a place where those who are watching can discuss it. The three episodes I've seen are very much of a piece, but if it turns out there's one coming that feels notably better or worse than the others, I might got a bit longer with that one.
Anyway, have at it, and we'll see how this goes over the coming weeks. What did everybody else think?
Snow White, Prince Charming and friends are trapped in modern-day America
ABC's "Once Upon a Time" (Sunday at 8 p.m.) is one of two new shows this season in which fairy tale characters start appearing in modern-day America, with NBC's fairy tale crime procedural "Grimm" debuting next Friday. Every TV season brings with it at least one set of weird dopplegangers like this - this one actually has several ("Mad Men"-era dramas, and sitcoms about the death of masculinity) - but the abundance of fairy tale stories seems less surprising than most.
Has the new status quo been worth the trouble to introduce and explain it?
We're at the start of that awkward post-premiere, pre-sweeps period of the TV season where networks start sprinkling in repeats(*), which means there's no new "Fringe" tonight. But that gives me an excuse to offer some overall thoughts on the first four episodes and how I'm feeling about the season to date, coming up just as soon as I get all my ideas from watching "The Matrix" fight scenes...
Sitcom alum goes very convincingly dramatic as corrupt Chicago mayor
Between "Cheers" and "Frasier," Kelsey Grammer spent 20 years playing pompous, erudite, clumsy psychiatrist Frasier Crane. In the history of live-action American primetime television, no one has ever played a character for more years (though "Gunsmoke" star James Arness, who shares the year record with Grammer, played Matt Dillon for many, many more hours). Television is a business where you tend to get typecast by executives and viewers if you play the same character for 3 or 4 years, and where the big stars are usually asked to play a similar character the next time they come up to bat. (Check out Tim Allen as a crankier, meaner Tim Taylor on "Last Man Standing," for instance.)
Given the staggering duration of the Frasier character, it would be easy for Kelsey Grammer to spend the rest of his career playing variations on that theme: Frasier is a librarian! Frasier is an overly-educated auto mechanic! And, in fact, that's more or less what he did after "Frasier" ended, first with "Back to You" (Frasier is a local TV news anchor!) and then "Hank" (Frasier is a destitute ex-CEO!), both of them canceled after a single season.
With "Boss," the new Starz drama that debuts Friday night at 10, no one will be having the Frasier is the mayor of Chicago! reaction. Same man, same familiar face and stentorian voice, but the performance and show are worlds removed from the role that made him rich, famous and a four-time Emmy winner.
And in this case, that's a very good thing.
How did last night's comedies work out?
Once again, mid-week seems a good time to offer brief thoughts on shows I've seen but don't have a whole post's worth of things to say about. Today, in order, quick reviews of "Up All Night," "Suburgatory" and "Happy Endings," coming up just as soon as I have full spa access for my birth...
'American Horror Story' - 'Murder House': Seriously, how stupid are you? Get out of the damn house already!
The Harmons find that moving out isn't as easy as they thought
Okay, we're now up to the third of three "American Horror Story" episodes FX sent out in advance of the premiere, and likely the last episode of the show I'll watch. But before I sign off, I'm again curious how people are finding the show.
Idris Elba continues to be great, but how did the four episodes stack up?
Because season 2 of "Luther" debuted on BBC America right in the middle of the network TV premiere crunch, and because the series ran here so far after it aired in the UK, I decided to wait until all four episodes had aired before weighing in on the season. That way, everyone's on the same page, no spoilers, and I actually had time to watch it all (which I didn't a month ago). Some quick thoughts on this season coming up just as soon as I roll my dice...
Sarah's support of Seth is controversial, and Crosby and Adam try to appease Cee Lo Green
A review of last night's "Parenthood" coming up just as soon as I invest in my family's future with Welsh spring water...
Juice and the other club members get squeezed in an outstanding episode
A review of tonight's "Sons of Anarchy" coming up just as soon as I embrace the stereotype...