Ken Tucker's TV Prime-Time TV commentary

Tag: Dramas (21-30 of 564)

'Sons of Anarchy' season finale review: Bite your tongue!

The gentlefolk of Sons of Anarchy have long had difficulties with domestic and business relationships. It’s as though riding massive motorcycles, letting one’s hair become unkempt, and constantly being arrested were impediments to leading the sort of quiet, nurturing lives so many of the show’s central characters ardently desire. These difficulties played out rather dramatically during the Tuesday night season finale.


The 'Homeland' backlash: In defense of emotional truth

Wow, the internet is illuminated today with largely poor reaction to last night’s episode of Homeland. My colleague Adam Vary has done an excellent job in his recap of summarizing both the episode and the potentially objectionable plot twists. On Twitter, I made a joke — “If only Homeland was as plausible as The Walking Dead” — that was interpreted as being a slap at Homeland, when what I was really kidding was the “Homeland has become unbelievable” reaction. So I should make the case at greater than Twitter length here. READ FULL STORY

'Boardwalk Empire' season finale review: The blasting conclusion to an uneven season

Boardwalk Empire wrapped up its third season on Sunday night in a hail of bullets and a haze of sentiment. Both elements were frequently effective, even if they could not help but remind you just how uneven, how ungainly, much of this season of the series has been. Going out with Patti Smith singing a lovely, strong version of “I Ain’t Got Nobody” added a coda to the way the show’s talent is, with regularity, insufficiently as well-utilized as Smith was.


'Parenthood' returns: Kristina's cancer, how it affects her and the Braverman clan

Back after too long, Parenthood resumed on Tuesday night with an episode that typified what inspires such an ardent following for this series. The hour was filled with small moments — nothing big, grandiose, or excessively dramatic — that nevertheless added up to a meticulously moving hour.

The inescapable center of the series is now Kristina’s cancer diagnosis and how she and her family are responding to it. The episode was titled “Together” with some irony, since the urge to help Monica Potter’s character, a crisis that can bring a family together, is also what left her frequently feeling isolated, misunderstood, and with a desire to be left alone. READ FULL STORY

'Homeland': Love in 'The Clearing': 'Used and played and lied to'

Wanting someone who wants you, but it just can’t happen. Circumstances — marriage, family, professional responsibilities — keep you apart. Wondering what it would be like if you were together. Would the things that lend your attraction urgency — that tinge of crazy love, an edge of obsession — would those qualities become overwhelming if you spent all your time together? Does the danger that seems to sexy now inevitably lead to frustration, anger, even repulsion?  READ FULL STORY

'Dexter' review: Did the season jump the shark in the kill room?

The current season Dexter was going along pretty well for a while. The whole Deb-finds-out-Dex-is-a-serial-killer was the shocker it was intended to be, and Deb’s reaction was well-calibrated. The announcement that Chuck‘s Yvonne Strahovski had been cast as some sort of maybe-criminal, maybe-romantic, maybe-both new character seemed like a good antidote to what turned out to be the dim Lumen of Julia Stiles. But this week — hoo, boy… SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THIS WEEK’S DEXTER. READ FULL STORY

'Homeland' took a very big risk this week. Where does the series go from here?: A review

Homeland made a large leap in its storytelling this week, making an audacious move with Damian Lewis’ Brody and Claire Danes’ Carrie that swerves the series in a new direction. Speaking of swerves, Dana and her new boyfriend Finn did some swerving themselves, and not as skillfully as Carrie and Brody. SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ FURTHER UNLESS YOU’VE SEEN THIS WEEK’S EPISODE OF HOMELAND. READ FULL STORY

'Parenthood': Is this TV's most neglected drama?

Parenthood has been so good lately, it’s made me all the more worried about it. By which I mean, the introduction of Ray Romano as a grumpy photographer with a crush on Lauren Graham’s Sarah, along with giving Monica Potter’s Kristina breast cancer, has raised the stakes both within the series and for its audience.

How long can a big-cast, ensemble drama on network TV survive without larger ratings than Parenthood is attracting? And especially at a time when there are more reasons than ever to become invested in it? READ FULL STORY

'Nashville' review: Contracts, bribes, and broken hearts: The business and politics of Nashville

This week’s Nashville was the one that confirmed how complicated it’s going to allow its two main protagonists to become. Connie Britton’s Rayna is a torn soul now fully entering a mid-life crisis, not sure how she should present her music (to herself; to the masses) or her feelings (to her true love Deacon; to her husband, Teddy). Hayden Panettiere’s Juliette is a three-layered soul: all smiley and upbeat in public; all toughness and anger with her employees and family; and, down deep, aching for love. Love in the form of respect from her professional betters; from a mother she wishes was clean and sober; and from her true love Deacon. Whom she wants to put, natch, under an “exclusive contract” — in her band and in her bed. SOME SPOILERS AHEAD IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THIS WEEK’S NASHVILLE. READ FULL STORY

The distinctive storytelling pleasures of 'Homeland'

More and more frequently, when I ask friends, acquaintances, and strangers what they’re watching and enjoying on TV the most, the response is “Homeland.” And it’s often phrased in a surprised tone, as in, “You know, I didn’t think it would, but I’m really hooked on Homeland. I can’t believe… ” and then he or she will go on to describe some plot point that strikes this person as surprising.

One thing this response means is that people are marveling at how much plot development the show is giving us so early on in its second season. I think it’s safe to say that anyone who watches Homeland is sophisticated about the ways television usually doles out information, characterization, and revelations. Which is to say: more slowly than the way Homeland does it. Viewers know that, in the vast majority of other cable and network dramas, producers try to keep their audiences coming back by adding maybe one new detail per episode, dangling a new clue, often near or just after the climax of an hour. READ FULL STORY

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