<p>Bryan Cranston in &quot;Breaking Bad.&quot;</p>

Bryan Cranston in "Breaking Bad."

Credit: AMC

'Breaking Bad' premiere draws 5.9 million for a series high

Premiere more than doubles last summer's; 'Low Winter Sun' and 'Talking Bad' debut modestly

After "Breaking Bad" began its final batch of episodes with an audience more than double of last summer's premiere, can we call him The One Who Rates?

Sunday night's (mid)season premiere for the AMC drama drew 5.9 million viewers, by far the most in the show's history, and up 102% over the first episode from last summer, according to AMC. 3.6 million of those viewers were aged 18-49, making it the second highest-rated show on cable in that demographic, after fellow AMC drama "The Walking Dead" (which also happens to be the highest-rated entertainment series in all of television in the demo).

At 10 p.m., the new "Low Winter Sun" premiered to ratings — 2.5 million viewers overall — that "Breaking Bad" would have killed for in its infancy, but that don't seem quite as impressive in light of its lead-in. (And that number includes all the "Breaking Bad" viewers who stuck around for at least half an hour of "LWS" to see the previews for "BB" episode 2.)

And at 11 p.m., the first installment of the inexpensive, Chris Hardwick-hosted "Breaking Bad" discussion series "Talking Bad" averaged 1.2 million viewers.

The hype for "Blood Money" was higher than I've ever heard it for a "Breaking Bad" premiere, and clearly more people than ever before were interested. What I wonder is how many of the new viewers are people who caught up with the series in the year since we last had a new episode, and how many were brand-new folks who wanted to see what all the fuss was about. (And what, I wonder, did they make of trying to tread lightly into the story at this point?)

<p>Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer in &quot;The Newsroom.&quot;</p>

Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer in "The Newsroom."

Credit: HBO

Review: 'The Newsroom' - 'News Night with Will McAvoy'

An episode set in real time avoids most of the show's usual pitfalls

A review of last night's "The Newsroom" coming up just as soon as I scroll past "This Week in Nip Slips"...

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<p>Lennie James in &quot;Low Winter Sun.&quot;</p>

Lennie James in "Low Winter Sun."

Credit: AMC

Talkback: 'Low Winter Sun' - 'Pilot'

What did everybody think of the new AMC drama?

reviewed AMC's "Low Winter Sun" earlier in the week. Now it's your turn. For those of you who tuned in tonight, what did you think? Were you wowed by Mark Strong and/or Lennie James, or did you find the whole thing to be quality drama paint-by-numbers? If you watched the original British series with Strong as Frank, how did this start compare? Did you like the use of Detroit locations? Did the presence of James Ransone evoke "The Wire" in a good way, or invite unfair comparisons? (And ditto for David Costabile and "Breaking Bad.") And will you watch again?

I'm fairly lukewarm on the show, but will keep sampling it for a bit. If my opinion changes dramatically one way or the other later in the season, I'll check back in with another review. In the meantime, have at it.

<p>Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in &quot;Breaking Bad.&quot;</p>

Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman in "Breaking Bad."

Credit: AMC

Season premiere review: 'Breaking Bad' - 'Blood Money'

Hank puts the pieces together, Jesse tries to give some money away, and Walt visits the old homestead

"Breaking Bad" is back for its final eight episodes, and I have a review of tonight's premiere coming up just as soon as Scotty beams the pies into space...

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<p>Claire Danes as Carrie in &quot;Homeland.&quot;</p>

Claire Danes as Carrie in "Homeland."

Credit: Showtime

'Homeland' season 3 trailer catches up with Carrie, Brody and Saul

Who has a new haircut? Who is sorry, and why?

Last week, I wrote about the "Homeland" panel at press tour, and about producers Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon's thoughts looking back on season 2 and ahead to season 3. Today, Showtime released a trailer for the new season (it's the same one critics were shown before that panel), scored to The Cinematic Orchestra's "To Build A House." 

It gives you glimpses of what Carrie, Saul, Brody, Dana and others will look like this season, if not the exact context of where they are and what they're doing. If you don't want to know anything, obviously don't watch. The season premiere is on September 29 — aka TV Drama-geddon, a night that will also feature the "Breaking Bad' series finale, the "Masters of Sex" debut, "The Good Wife" premiere, a new "Boardwalk Empire," and more — at 9 p.m. on Showtime.

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<p>Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton in &quot;Strike Back.&quot;</p>

Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton in "Strike Back."

Credit: Cinemax

Review: Cinemax's 'Strike Back' returns, still ready for action

HitFix
B+
Readers
n/a
One of TV's most reliable pleasures is back with plenty of guns, ammo and angst

Some TV shows are rapidly evolving organisms. You come back for a new season to find new characters, a new workplace, maybe even a wildly different tone. That can be exciting — though if done wrong, it can strip away what the audience liked in the first place.

Some TV shows offer you roughly the same thing week after week, season after season. There's a danger in that, too, as stagnation can lead to boredom. But there are certain shows that do what they do so well that evolution seems to be beside the point. One of those is Cinemax's "Strike Back," which begins a new season tonight at 10, doing the same things it usually does(*), but with such a high level of execution and glee that I care not a whit about the formulaic nature of it all. A show that kicks this much ass doesn't especially need to stretch.

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<p>On &quot;Deadwood,&quot;&nbsp;Adams (Titus Welliver)&nbsp;gets a scolding from Al Swearengen (Ian McShane).</p>

On "Deadwood," Adams (Titus Welliver) gets a scolding from Al Swearengen (Ian McShane).

Credit: HBO

'Deadwood' Rewind: Season 3, episode 10: 'A Constant Throb'

Al protects Alma, and in the process stretches Hearst's patience to its limit

For the third summer in a row, we're revisiting David Milch's classic revisionist HBO Western "Deadwood," this time discussing the third season.

While I once upon a time posted two separate reviews so people who hadn't watched the whole series would have a safe place to comment, almost no one bothered commenting on the newbie reviews last year, and they've been ditched. If you haven't finished the series, just avoid the comments of this review and you'll be fine.

Thoughts on episode 10, "A Constant Throb," coming up just as soon as I'm in command of the all-whore detachment...

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<p>Lennie James and Mark Strong are Detroit cops in &quot;Low Winter Sun.&quot;</p>

Lennie James and Mark Strong are Detroit cops in "Low Winter Sun."

Credit: AMC

Review: AMC's 'Low Winter Sun' a dark cop drama, but is it a deep one?

HitFix
B-
Readers
n/a
Great performances from Mark Strong and Lennie James, but what's it all about?

The wave of quality cable dramas of the last decade has turned into a flood. Everyone's looking for their own "Sopranos," their own "Shield," their own "Mad Men." When you start factoring in streaming video services like Netflix and Hulu (which are both making their own programming and importing terrific shows from overseas), it's inarguable that there are more good dramas than at any point in the history of the medium.

But what's also become obvious of late is just how hard it is to make these shows work. Too many shows have been made under the mistaken belief that all you need to achieve greatness is to follow a familiar recipe. Take imposing character actors as leading men, add anti-heroes in a world full of moral ambiguity, a cinematic look, some colorful dialogue, and preferably some graphic violence, and your would-be "The Wire" will be baked in 35-40 minutes, right?

These shows have the appearance and texture of the greats of past and present, but there's something empty and unsatisfying about them. They tend to lack the ingredients you can't just buy at the store: a distinctive voice and a spark of mad genius. Sometimes, they succeed anyway (Showtime has already renewed "Ray Donovan" for a second season), and sometimes they fail (Starz just canceled "Magic City"), but their separation from the genuine article becomes unmistakable in time. They're the I Can't Believe It's Not Better dramas, and AMC may have another on its hands with "Low Winter Sun."

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<p>Kate Hudson, Larry David and Jon Hamm in &quot;Clear History.&quot;</p>

Kate Hudson, Larry David and Jon Hamm in "Clear History."

Credit: HBO

Review: Larry David in HBO's 'Clear History'

HitFix
B
Readers
B+
Jon Hamm, Kate Hudson and friends come along for what's really an all-star edition of 'Curb'

When each season of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" ends, executives at HBO, and fans of the show, wait in earnest for Larry David to decide when or if he wants to make another one. My belief is that the gig is too much fun for David to entirely walk away from, but for 2013 he passed on doing more "Curb" in favor of writing and starring in "Clear History," an HBO film that debuts Saturday night at 9.

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<p>Diane Kruger as Sonya Cross in &quot;The Bridge.&quot;</p>

Diane Kruger as Sonya Cross in "The Bridge."

Credit: FX

Review: 'The Bridge' - 'The Beast'

Calaca pays Linder a visit, and Sonya gets the killer on the phone

A review of tonight's "The Bridge" coming up just as soon as I get the Saran wrap...

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