<p>William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum in &quot;Shameless.&quot;</p>

William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum in "Shameless."

Credit: Showtime

Review: Showtime's 'Shameless' offers messy, engaging family antics

Faithful British adaptation strongly led by actress Emmy Rossum

Broadcast network shows have largely done away with opening title sequences. The artform still exists on cable, thankfully, because when done well, a title sequence tells you all you need to know about what a show is like. Think Tony Soprano driving from Manhattan to his McMansion, or Dexter Morgan going through his surprisingly violent-looking morning routine.

Showtime's family dramedy "Shameless" has a terrific opening title sequence - albeit one that you won't see on the pilot episode that premieres tonight at 10. (TV pilots are often title-less for some reason.) The sequence places a fixed eye on the lone bathroom shared by the sprawling Gallagher family. Alcoholic dad Frank (William H. Macy) has to be dragged out of there by eldest daughter Fiona (Emmy Rossum) so she can go to the toilet, and then we watch Fiona and her brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors and everyone's assorted boyfriends and girlfriends use the bathroom for both its intended purposes and many others, from sex to the toddler using the toilet to brush his teeth.

That's "Shameless" in 30 seconds or less: messy, overcrowded, unapologetically frank and, at times, darkly funny.

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<p>Holts McCallany in &quot;Lights Out.&quot;</p>

Holts McCallany in "Lights Out."

Credit: Frank Ockenfels/FX

Review: FX's 'Lights Out' offers compelling boxing drama

Revelatory performance by Holt McCallany as struggling ex-champ

We start "Lights Out," FX's terrific new boxing drama (which debuts Tuesday at 10 p.m.), in the dressing room after Patrick "Lights" Leary has just been dethroned as heavyweight champion of the world. He is unconscious and looks like his face just collided with a freight train that was covered in barbed wire, sandpaper and bits of broken glass.

His physician's assistant wife Theresa comes in and begins sewing up the hideous cut over his eye, and as Lights starts talking about how the rematch, she lays down the ultimatum:

"Please, Patrick, I love you too much to watch you die. Either you stop, or we stop."

So Patrick stops. For five years, he plays dutiful househusband. He puts Theresa through med school, makes breakfast and drives their three daughters to school, sets up his father in his own boxing gym, puts his brother in charge of managing his fortune, and tries to enjoy a life where he's not getting his brains beaten in.

But the ring has a gravitational pull on him, especially as his retired life falls apart. The economic crash wipes out most of his fortune. His brother's in a variety of jams. The gym is a sinkhole without a champion-level fighter operating out of it. The boxer who dethroned him keeps calling him out in public for a rematch.

And then there's this: though it's not polite to say in most company, Lights Leary enjoys hitting people.

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<p>Lena Headey in &quot;Game of Thrones.&quot;</p>

Lena Headey in "Game of Thrones."

Credit: HBO

Press Tour: 'Game of Thrones' ready for its HBO closeup

Producers and George R.R. Martin feel confident they got it right

"Fantasy and science fiction fans are very intense," said George R.R. Martin early in the press tour session for "Game of Thrones," the adaptation of his popular "A Song of Ice and Fire" series of fantasy novels. "I think part of it is the fact that there is relatively little of it out there. Television is full of lawyer shows and medical shows and situation comedies. Fantasy is something that has largely been restircted to books for a long time. The readers of those books, who have their favorite series, are really hungry to see some good fantasy brought to television."

David Benioff, one of the two writers in charge of bringing "Game of Thrones" to the screen, suggested Martin was selling himself short: "It's not just the genre, but it's George's books that are being brought to television."

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<p>Eve Myles will be back for &quot;Torchwood:&nbsp;Miracle Day.&quot;</p>

Eve Myles will be back for "Torchwood: Miracle Day."

Credit: BBC

Press Tour: 'Torchwood' on Starz gets a subtitle, a premise and some co-stars

On 'Miracle Day,' death takes a holiday

"Torchwood" has a new network, a new country and new castmembers, and on Friday at press tour, we learned that the new Starz version of the show has a different subtitle.

When Starz acquired the "Doctor Who" spin-off from the BBC, the new season (which is set to begin filming next week) was tentatively titled "Torchwood: The New World," but creator Russell T. Davies explained that that was always a working title. The actual title will be "Torchwood: Miracle Day."

After the jump, some explanation from Davies on what that title means, the plot of the new season, the roles for Mekhi Phifer and Bill Pullman, and other semi-spoilery things...

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<p>You'll almost certainly see Elisabeth Moss, Jon Hamm and Christina Hendricks on &quot;Mad Men&quot;&nbsp;again, but when?</p>

You'll almost certainly see Elisabeth Moss, Jon Hamm and Christina Hendricks on "Mad Men" again, but when?

Credit: AMC

Press Tour: More details on 'Mad Men' status, 'Breaking Bad' scheduling,' etc.

'Mad Men' renewal not official but close, scheduling still up in the air

AMC set off a flurry of good news/bad news discussion when the prestige cable channel opened its press tour session with vice president Joel Stillerman saying, "'Mad Men' is definitely coming back for season 5, but don't ask me when, because we're not sure yet."

The first part was reassuring, because oddly "Mad Men" had yet to be renewed, due to some contractual issues with the cast and creator Matthew Weiner. The second part was more concerning, since it doesn't look like AMC - which won't air "Breaking Bad" season 4 until summer, and will likely try to launch "The Walking Dead" season 2 around Halloween again - may have a Sunday window in which to air a fifth season until perhaps early 2012.

So after the panel for AMC's new long-form mystery "The Killing," I tracked down AMC president Charlie Collier to get a better sense of his thinking - and learned, among other things, that "Mad Men" is still not technically renewed.

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<p>Stephen Mangan, Matt LeBlanc and Tamsin Greig in &quot;Episodes.&quot;</p>

Stephen Mangan, Matt LeBlanc and Tamsin Greig in "Episodes."

Credit: Showtime

Review: Showtime's 'Episodes' has Matt LeBlanc and a lot of angry, unfunny satire

You can be mean about Hollywood, but you have to be better than this to do it

Showtime's new inside-Hollywood satire "Episodes" (Sunday at 9:30 p.m.) - about a pair of English sitcom writers (Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig) who have a nightmarish experience adapting their show for American TV - comes from a place of absolute, naked contempt for the television business. And even though that business has made its creators David Crane (co-creator of "Friends") and Jeffrey Klarik (former "Mad About You" writer and Crane's domestic partner as well as his current writing partner) a whole lot of money, that's fine. Some of the best satire comes from a place of intense anger.

But when you're attacking a big, fat target like the superficial, duplicitous nature of Hollywood, and being so relentless and bitter about it, you need to be much, much, much funnier than "Episodes" is. You need to be "The Larry Sanders Show" funny, or "Extras" season two funny. "Episodes" isn't even as funny as Crane and Klarik's last collaboration, the exceedingly mediocre short-lived CBS comedy "The Class" - and that's even considering that the new show features Crane's old "Friends" star Matt LeBlanc delivering a terrific performance as an exaggerated version of himself.

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<p>Oprah Winfrey had a lot to say at her press tour session.</p>

Oprah Winfrey had a lot to say at her press tour session.

Credit: AP

Press Tour: Oprah Winfrey talks and talks and talks some more

OWN Q&A session features marathon filibuster

"So how does this work?" Oprah Winfrey asked the critics as she took the stage for a Q&A about OWN, the new Oprah Winfrey Network she launched under the Discovery cable umbrella.

You can understand Oprah's confusion. Throughout her 25 years on the national stage, she's spent much more time asking questions than answering them. And though she's appeared at press tour on occasion, it's usually been to promote movies or miniseries she produced, and where there were lots of other panelists fielding questions right along with her.

But this was Oprah alone on stage for 50 minutes - a very strange, long-winded 50 minutes in which seven reporters got to ask questions, and in which the third reporter's question elicited an answer that the TCA historians in the room estimate was the longest in press tour history.

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<p>Stephen Merchant, Ricky Gervais and Karl Pilkington in &quot;An Idiot Abroad.&quot;</p>

Stephen Merchant, Ricky Gervais and Karl Pilkington in "An Idiot Abroad."

Press Tour: Karl Pilkington, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant bring the funny for 'An Idiot Abroad'

Beer + satellite delay + Brits = comedy

Under optimal circumstances, Karl Pilkington provides plenty of fodder for his friends/colleagues/tormentors Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant to mock him about. But when you put the two creators of "The Office" in a room with their round-headed kickball of a podcast partner, hand them all tall glasses of beer and tell them to answer questions via a long satellite delay, well... then you have A Very Special Episode in the ongoing comic saga that is the three men's friendship.

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<p>David Lyons is &quot;The Cape.&quot;</p>

David Lyons is "The Cape."

Credit: NBC

Review: NBC's 'The Cape' offers straight-forward but dull superheroics

Sincerity a plus, leading man David Lyons a minus

The superhero genre is so old, and the superhero movies and TV shows it spawned only slightly less old, that almost every live-action version these days has to be billed as a modernized, or even post-modern, spin on the familiar. No tights! No codenames! What does it really mean to have powers?

NBC's "Heroes" was so eager to distance itself from the tropes of the genre that it wouldn't even let its characters say the word "powers," preferring to use the term "abilities," as if that would somehow make indestructible cheerleaders and telepathic cops seem more palatable to the sort of people who don't ordinarily go for this stuff.

NBC's new superhero show, "The Cape" (which sneak previews Sunday at 9 p.m. before airing Mondays at 9 starting on January 17), doesn't feel the least bit embarrassed about any of the usual trappings. It's not post-modern, or even modern. It is proudly, almost defiantly old-fashioned. It's the sort of show where no one in the fictional Palm City is the least bit confused about why they're being menaced by a masked villain who calls himself Chess. It's the sort of show where the hero, having been trained by one of the world's greatest escape artists, is bound in chains by a bad guy, thrown into the ocean and asked to make like Houdini (or the '60s Batman) and free himself from the diabolical death trap.

I admire that about "The Cape." It is what it says it is, and finds no shame in that.

I just wish it was a better show.

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<p>A scene from tonight's &quot;Cougar Town.&quot;</p>

A scene from tonight's "Cougar Town."

Credit: ABC

'Cougar Town' - 'No Reason to Cry': This is what it sounds like...

What did everybody think of the cul-de-sac crew's latest outing?

I'm on the verge of starting press tour, so no time for a proper review of tonight's "Cougar Town," but I thought it offered more loosey-goosey fun from the cul de sac crew, particularly in Travis' failed attempt to keep Kirsten from becoming part of the cul-de-sac crew, Bobby's pre-meddling take on current events, and pretty much everything Laurie did.

What did everybody else think?

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