Ken Tucker's TV Prime-Time TV commentary

Tag: Fall TV (1-10 of 159)

'Liz and Dick' review: Lindsay Lohan did Elizabeth Taylor wrong

Liz & Dick was a peculiar, drab, damp little TV-movie indeed, wasn’t it? The opening seconds flashed a “based on a true story” message across the screen. But the “story” – that is, the life that Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton shared, chronicled here primarily during the 1960s, after meeting during the making of Cleopatra (1963) – was so much richer in reality than it was in this dinky, tin-eared production. Instead, the primary interest in watching Liz & Dick was to behold Lindsay Lohan trying, with varying, wobbly degrees of effort, to make her own career comeback.

In other words, when it came to Lohan “doing” Liz: She done her wrong. READ FULL STORY

'Whitney' season premiere review: 'Provocative!' 'Insane!' But funny... ?

Whitney is taped in front of a live studio audience,” said Whitney Cummings at the start of Wednesday night’s second-season premiere of Whitney, apparently in an effort to prove that, yes, there really are human beings that laugh at Whitney. 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

'Last Man Standing' and 'Malibu Country' reviews: Voting for Romney, going to pot

Last Man Standing returned a series transformed on Friday night, while Malibu Country debuted as a new series with regressive tendencies. Clearly wanting to shake things up, get some attention and some ratings, Tim Allen’s character Mike Baxter has become a supporter of Mitt Romney, a mouthpiece for the Republican party, and perhaps something a bit more extreme. The strategy has worked, at least as far as attention: I probably wouldn’t be reviewing this show, were Mike not saying things like, “You voted for a guy from Kenya.” 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

'American Horror Story: Asylum' premiere review: Boo! As in, were you well-scared, or disappointed?

In part because it involves people associated with The New Normal and The Voice, the new season of American Horror Story, subtitled Asylum, is automatically scarier than the first one. Co-creator Ryan Murphy, the man behind the garish laughs of New Normal, has enlisted Adam Levine as one of his horror-show victims, and just watching the stubbly singer-scarecrow feign sex with his character’s new bride (Jenna Dewan Tatum) was effectively, thoroughly unnerving. READ FULL STORY

'The Walking Dead' premiere review: Back to the reason this show exists: Killin' zombies

The Walking Dead returned on Sunday night for its third season, and returned to its roots. By which I mean: Killing zombies. After a season spent largely squandered by debates about morality and the frailty of human existence, with lots of maundering soul-searching, The Walking Dead needed to realign itself. Similarly, viewers — including me — need to shake off the idea that there should be deeper character development. Just because it’s on AMC doesn’t mean it’s of Breaking Bad or Mad Men quality. We have to take The Walking Dead on its own terms. And those terms are, I repeat: Killing zombies.
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'Nashville' premiere review: The season's best new show, some sources of its music and its drama: 'What the hell was THAT?'

One of the great pleasures of Nashville is that it arrived fully formed, with a sure sense of what it wants to accomplish dramatically, and with a masterful command of atmosphere and setting. No other new show this season projects such effortless assurance, hits so many notes of emotion. Hell, no other scripted show hits so many just plain notes: Its music is as interesting as its storytelling. READ FULL STORY

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