<p>Josh Lucas as Mitch McDeere in the new &quot;The Firm.&quot;</p>

Josh Lucas as Mitch McDeere in the new "The Firm."

Credit: NBC

Review: NBC puts Josh Lucas in 'The Firm'

HitFix
C
Readers
C
Belated sequel to Cruise/Grisham legal thriller falls flat

Watching the two-hour pilot episode of NBC's "The Firm" (Sunday at 9 p.m.), my mind was filled with many questions, such as:

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<p>Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle)&nbsp;and his Anna (Joanne Froggatt)&nbsp;in season 2 of &quot;Downton Abbey.&quot;</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>

Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle) and his Anna (Joanne Froggatt) in season 2 of "Downton Abbey."

 

Credit: ITV

Review: 'Downton Abbey' returns to PBS for season 2

HitFix
B+
Readers
B+
Class barriers start to come down, but the storytelling gets soapier
It happens all the time: someone will ask me to suggest a new show to watch, and I'll name a title and start describing it, and about 10 seconds in, the other person's face will curl up and they'll say, "Oh, I'm sure it's great, but I don't want to watch a show about high school football," or "I don't want to watch a show about a guy who cooks crystal meth," or "I don't want to watch a show with spaceships and robots and clones." And I'll shake my head and lament that they won't be able to see what I saw in "Friday Night Lights," "Breaking Bad" and "Battlestar Galactica."
 
But even I'm not immune to that line of thinking, as I discovered last year when PBS' "Masterpiece Classic" debuted "Downton Abbey," a drama about the masters and servants at a large English country estate in the years leading up to World War I. The social mores and problems of the landed gentry have never held any interest for me, and when faced with a crush of other material to watch with more appealing subject matter, I passed on "Downton" and moved on. Even rapturous reviews from most of my fellow critics wasn't enough to sway me, and I imagine they would have looked at me the same disappointment I feel at the people who didn't want to get to know Coach and Mrs. Coach.
 
Then on a whim one sleepless night a few months after the series debuted in America, I put on the first episode just to see what I was missing. And I kept watching all through the night and into the next day, eventually coming to three conclusions:
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<p>Max (Adam Pally)&nbsp;wears an embarrassing outfit on &quot;Happy Endings.&quot;</p>

Max (Adam Pally) wears an embarrassing outfit on "Happy Endings."

Credit: ABC

Wednesday night TV open thread, pre-press tour edition

What did everybody think of Wednesday's sitcoms?

Last night was mostly devoted to packing for press tour, and the only TV show I even half-saw was "Happy Endings," where Max's outfit for the bet gave me a prolonged, loud laugh.

I'll have reviews of some upcoming shows posting throughout the day today, but if anybody wants to discuss last night's "Happy Endings," "Modern Family," "Suburgatory" or "The Middle," here is the place. Just do me a favor and mention the name of the show you're going to talk about before you start talking about it, for the benefit of people who might have seen some but not all just yet.

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<p>Emmy Rossum as Fiona Gallagher on &quot;Shameless.&quot;</p>

Emmy Rossum as Fiona Gallagher on "Shameless."

Credit: Showtime

Review: Showtime's 'Shameless' returns confidently for season 2

HitFix
A-
Readers
A-
Dramedy finds better balance while still making great use of Emmy Rossum and family
In one episode of the new season of Showtime's "Shameless" (it returns Sunday night at 9), Emmy Rossum's Fiona Gallagher finds herself on the run from someone who wants to beat her up with a baseball bat, and winds up cowering under a table next to her despicable alcoholic father Frank (William H. Macy). As Fiona realizes that she's now in the same position Frank has been in so, so, so many times in the past, a giddy Frank declares, "I have waited for this day!" And as much as he wants to just seem smug about the daughter who has lectured him so often in the past about his own bad behavior, there's a sense of perverse pride here, too - that this is the first time in a long time Frank has truly been able to relate to his eldest child.
 
And that, boys and girls, is "Shameless" in a nutshell. It is messy. It is vulgar. It is crude and loud and low-class. And it takes great joy in being all of those things.
 
It is also, despite being an hour each week and featuring dramatic moments - many of them heart-wrenchingly good - funnier than pretty much all of the half-hour shows Showtime tries to pass off as comedies, and it's a pleasure to have it back.
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<p>Among the questions I&nbsp;intend to ask at press tour:&nbsp;why would&nbsp;&quot;Scandal&quot; boss Shonda Rhimes make Henry Ian Cusick ditch his Scottish accent for the show?</p>

Among the questions I intend to ask at press tour: why would "Scandal" boss Shonda Rhimes make Henry Ian Cusick ditch his Scottish accent for the show?

Credit: ABC

A couple hundred TV critics walk into a bar...

The Television Critics Association winter press tour starts today
It's that time of year again, TV fans, when the a couple of hundred TV critics and reporters from the U.S. and Canada descend on a single Los Angeles area hotel for the Television Critics Association winter press tour.
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<p>Zeek (Craig T. Nelson)&nbsp;visits his mother Blanche (Frances Sternhagen)&nbsp;on &quot;Parenthood.&quot;</p>

Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) visits his mother Blanche (Frances Sternhagen) on "Parenthood."

Credit: NBC

'Parenthood' - 'Road Trip': Is it much further, Papa Zeek?

The Bravermans take a long drive together in one of the series' best episodes

A review of last night's "Parenthood" coming up just as soon as I give you some fuzzy dice and a switchblade...

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<p>Ben Koldyke and Amaury Nolasco in &quot;Work It.&quot;</p>

Ben Koldyke and Amaury Nolasco in "Work It."

Credit: ABC

'Work It' - 'Pilot': The crying game

What did everybody think of ABC's new cross-dressing comedy?

I posted my review of ABC's "Work Ityesterday, and Fienberg registered his own disgust this afternoon. Now it's your turn. What did everybody think of the gender-bending hijinks of the new ABC comedy? Is this more like "Some Like It Hot" or "He's My Girl"? Does Benjamin Koldyke strike you as a 21st century Tom Hanks? How about that nightclub set? And if you tuned in tonight, do you intend to ever watch it again? 

Have at it.

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<p>Jason Segel on &quot;How I&nbsp;Met Your Mother.&quot;</p>

Jason Segel on "How I Met Your Mother."

Credit: CBS

'How I Met Your Mother' - 'Tailgate': Where everybody knows you're lame

The gang ushers in the new year in different ways in a solid episode

A review of last night's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I open the kimono...

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 110: 'Work It,' 'Downton Abbey,' 'The Firm' & more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 110: 'Work It,' 'Downton Abbey,' 'The Firm' & more

Dan and Alan also review 'Shameless' and 'House of Lies' and answer your mail

The

Welcome to the first Firewall & Iceberg Podcast of 2012, and the last before Dan and I are hip-deep in the events of the winter Television Critics Association press tour. I apologize in advance for two things this week: 1)The audio's not great, as Skype was not our friend today; and 2)The sports talk segment at the end goes on for quite a while. As we've said before, we're doing those things in addition to the TV coverage (nothing was dropped so we could debate Rodgers vs. Brees), and there's no content after, so you don't have to listen to that if you don't want, but we may have gotten carried away nonetheless. (The Hall of Fame discussion alone is longer than any show reviews.) Before that, we do a bunch of reviews of new and returning shows, including an early contender for the worst of the year, and the return of one of Dan's favorites from last year.

The line-up: 

"Work It" (02:35 - 17:15)
"Downton Abbey" (17:20 - 27:20)
"The Firm" (27:25 - 38:20)
"Shameless" (38:30 - 47:55)
"House of Lies" (48:00 - 56:40)
Listener Mail - Reviewing shows projecting forward (57:00 - 01:04:10)
The NFL MVP Race (01:04:35 - 01:10:15)
The Baseball Hall of Fame (01:10:15 - 01:31:30)
 
As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.
 
And as always, feel free to e-mail us at sepinwall@hitfix.com and/or dan@hitfix.com if you have questions you want answered on the show. Please put the word "podcast" in your subject line to make it easy to track them down amid the hundreds of random press releases we get every day.
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<p>Ben Koldyke drags it up in ABC's &quot;Work It.&quot;</p>

Ben Koldyke drags it up in ABC's "Work It."

Credit: ABC

Review: ABC's horrible 'Work It' a drag in every way

HitFix
F
Readers
F
Cross-dressing has never seemed less funny
The new ABC cross-dressing sitcom "Work It" won't debut until tomorrow night at 8:30, but it's already been subject to protests from both GLAAD and several transgender activist groups. And while I would never deign to tell any minority group (particularly one I'm not a member of) what they do and don't have a right to be offended by, in this case, it feels like the offense being taken is too narrow.
 
"Work It" could be seen as an insult to the transgender community, sure. But it's also an affront to all women, and men, and thinking adults.
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