Ken Tucker's TV Prime-Time TV commentary

Tag: Dramas (71-80 of 564)

'Breaking Bad' season premiere review: Tense, funny, frightening, and 'free.' Plus, magnets!

The fifth season premiere of Breaking Bad, titled “Live Free or Die” and written by show creator Vince Gilligan, was satisfying and tense and funny and witty and ruminative. Plus, magnets! Among other things, the opening hour was a caper film as good as any you can see at the movies.

The new ad campaign for the show positions Bryan Cranston’s Walter White as a king — the king of the hill; the drug kingpin; the Scarface at the height of his paranoia and corrupt power, shortly before he tilts face-down into a mound of cocaine and comes back up looking like a clown. We know the ads are meant to be ironic, but the series itself avoids such easy irony. It’s not letting Walter, or anyone else around him, get off that easily. Breaking Bad is playing it dead earnest; the show, like the characters inside it, is a trap.


'Political Animals,' Sigourney Weaver, and Hillary Clinton: A video review

Political Animals begins its run tomorrow night on the USA network. It stars Sigourney Weaver as a very Hillary Clintonesque Secretary of State, complete with a randy Southern ex-President husband — or in the case of Weaver’s character Elaine Barrish, ex-husband. READ FULL STORY

'Perception' premiere review: Eric McCormack returned to TV as a schizo eccentric trying to warm your heart. Did he?

Perception, which premiered Monday night, is officially TNT’s umpteenth series about an eccentric crime-solver surrounded by skeptical colleagues who are invariably impressed with the weekly triumphs we can see coming a mile away. Eric McCormack is the star, his hair more tousled than it was on Will & Grace, but his fast-talking charm was intact. READ FULL STORY

'The Newsroom' review: Jane Fonda, radical politics, and 'We are the media elite'

Early on in The Newsroom this week, Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) delivered a manifesto detailing what his cable-news show News Night would stand for from now on. No more giving viewers what they think they want; the show will give them what Will McAvoy thinks they need. Why? Because, he concluded, “We’re the media elite.” READ FULL STORY

An Andy Griffith tribute: The gentle sheriff of Mayberry was a shrewd, brilliant performer

Andy Griffith was one of the greatest performers in television history. His portrayal of Mayberry, North Carolina, sheriff Andy Taylor is one of the most sustained feats of comic subtlety and grace in any medium. Griffith did a lot before and after The Andy Griffith Show, but that series will remain the cornerstone of his achievement. READ FULL STORY

'The Newsroom' week two review: Who knew Olivia Munn was shrewder than Ann Curry?

Airing at the close of a week with big news stories both heavy (the Supreme Court ruling on health care) and light (Ann Curry exiting The Today Show), The Newsroom’s second episode was both timely and windbaggy, to varying degrees of entertainment. The scene that might have echoed most ringingly in your ears was the one that introduced Olivia Munn’s character, financial news reporter Sloan Sabbith. She was interrogated and cajoled by Emily Mortimer’s MacKenzie about the former’s masterful command of complex issues and wonderment that she wasn’t making more money doing what attractive women on TV do, according to Mac: Go for a glossier TV show or into the private sector. Sloan replied that she was, indeed, “offered a morning show” but turned it down because “I’m not interested in cooking.” Ding, ding, ding!: There you had it — the Ann Curry imbroglio in neat reverse. READ FULL STORY

'Dallas' tonight: Daggers, deviousness, and dim-wits: A video review

I thought the new version of Dallas couldn’t get much better than last week, when J.R. scammed his way into a permanent berth in Bobby and Ann’s house, and put a razor to John Ross’ throat. Plus, 24‘s Carlos Bernard appeared to Tony Almeida it up with some suave villainy. READ FULL STORY

'The Newsroom' premiere review: Did Aaron Sorkin's new HBO series make you mad as hell, or happy as a clam?

The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin’s return to television, premiered on Sunday night, and let’s get ready to rumble. It’s a series that will serve as an escape-valve of relief, anger, and confirmation, articulating so many things that so many people feel about the frequently-pathetic state of the news media. (In a sense, it wants to be this TV generation’s equivalent to the 1976 movie Network, with the Paddy Chayevsky-written line, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”) It’s also a series that is going to drive some people crazy. For some, it will be because the show is frequently hectoring and repetitive, and it has storytelling problems with its office romances. But for others, it’s going to make them crazy because no matter how clearly Sorkin states the opposite (on-screen and in interviews), The Newsroom is going to strike them as one long liberal — or as Bill O’Reilly will doubtless label it, “far left” — screed. READ FULL STORY

'The Killing' season finale review: The murder of Rosie Larsen was solved

The Killing wrapped up its second season on Sunday night by solving the murder case that took about 26 days to solve in Killing-time, but seemed to take a lot longer to many of us who stuck with it. By the end, you may have felt like Mireille Enos’ Sarah Linden did: Like walking away in an exhausted daze.


'Girls' season finale: 'I'm very moved'

The arc of the first season of Girls was an undulating one. The Lena Dunham comedy-drama-mixology-experiment commenced, in its first two episodes, as an indie film in half-hour chunks, then ventured further into sitcom territory without dropping its thoughtfulness, and in its finale managed to balance the funny, the serious, the absurd, and the poignant in a strikingly surprising, effective conclusion. READ FULL STORY

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