Ken Tucker's TV Prime-Time TV commentary

Tag: Fringe (1-10 of 66)

'Fringe' series review: Darker than amber, lighter than air

In the end, Fringe — which concluded with a back-to-back, two-episode wallop on Friday night — fulfilled nearly every promise it made to its audience over the course of five seasons. It remained true to its core values: the primacy of family, the sacredness of trust, the joy of a good joke, the exhilaration of intellectual inquiry, and the jolting power of love. READ FULL STORY

Ken Tucker's Top 20 TV shows of 2012: Here are the second ten, from 'Parenthood' to 'Bent'

Here, as I do every year, I follow up my TV Top 10, which you can find here and in the new, print issue of EW,  with my picks for numbers 11 through 20. Some of you have said these are consolation prizes, but that’s not so. There’s so much good television, that for a few years, I was stuffing my Top 10 with entries that allowed for multiple shows (“Best Thursday-night sitcoms,” for instance, allowed me to sneak three shows into one number – those were the days, eh?) until that started to become unwieldy and ridiculous. (Besides, as a part-time music critic, I like the “Top 20” phrase, with its roots in pop-music radio.)

11. Parenthood (NBC) Monica Potter’s Christina cheating death; Ray Romano trying to get Lauren Graham to cheat on Jason Ritter – great stuff. Julia and Joel adopting Victor – not so great. A show like Parenthood is always going to have trouble juggling its subplots and servicing its large cast, but this season it came damn close to broadcasting its best season ever.
12. Luck (HBO) It got better with each succeeding episode; Dustin Hoffman’s was just one of many finely shaded performances (along with a couple of gleefully over-the-top ones). It’s too bad this series got sidelined; the Michael Mann-David Milch production seemed headed for a victory lap if it had had a chance to run for a second season.
13. Fringe (Fox) The alternate-universe versions of my beloved characters never grabbed me the way the originals did, but this season made a good, strenuous effort to return to the fundamental dynamic that made this series so close to great: Its abiding notion that you take family where you can find it, and that that connection is humanity’s greatest source of love, fear, power, and vulnerability.
14. Sons of Anarchy (FX) Kurt Sutter’s take on Shakespeare is becoming more rigorous, more true to its source, yet also more exaggerated, with each season. This time around, he grounded the inherent absurdity of bikers-with-a-conscience (well, a few of them) with imaginative touches such as a finely drawn character for guest star Jimmy Smits to play.
15. Archer (FX) Dirty, slapstick, suspenseful, complex – what started out as a cartoon of James Bond plus The Man from U.N.C.L.E. has become its own unique piece of animated art.
16. The Walking Dead (AMC) Killin’ zombies: The stripped-back new mandate for the series cut away virtually all of its ponderous, moralizing flab while leaving the heart of its reason to exist – to ask, what does it mean to be human? – intact, throbbing with life.
17. Southland (TNT) The police procedural as a series of morality plays, free of preachment as well as cynicism. Probably the action series most mindful of morality, and willing to dramatize examples of it.

18. Hunted (Cinemax) If creator Frank Spotnitz was going to make a spy series about a woman who could pass as both a nanny and a bad-ass, he certainly was a witty man to cast Melissa George, queen of the lippy pout, in the role. She dove right into this satisfyingly knotty series, executed the fight scenes well, and reminded us why they used to nickname this channel Skinemax. No mean feats at all. READ FULL STORY

'Made in Jersey' premiere review: Made with energy and Jersey soulfulness

You can be sure that a character made a Real Housewives of New Jersey joke during the premiere of Made in Jersey on Friday night. This was practically required, to prove that Made in Jersey‘s producers are aware of the reality-TV competition, and of its edited ethnic stereotypes. But rather than looking a though it’s pandering or surrendering to the Housewives franchise, Made in Jersey did something good — it created characters that humanize a certain kind of lower-middle-class Jersey citizen rather than monster-size her or him, and did its best to suggest that even not-great scripted television frequently proves superior to the pinnacle of “reality,” at least as it’s packaged on Bravo. READ FULL STORY

Emmy nominations tomorrow: Do ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox have a chance against AMC, HBO, and Showtime?

When the Emmy nominations are announced tomorrow, you can be sure of two things: The noms will be dominated by cable fare, and the howls you’ll hear from fans will be for non-cable network shows that got passed over.

So, if you’re a fan of Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Homeland, and Breaking Bad, you can be sure that your faves will be more than well-represented. But what are some of your favorite network series? Fringe? Community? Person of Interest? Ah, I would bet that you’ll be out of luck. (Not that I don’t hope I’m wrong about that.) This will also hold true in the TV-movie and miniseries categories. READ FULL STORY

Introducing 2012 Emmy Watch: Nominations I wish we'd see

The Emmy nominations are being decided even as I write this. Members of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences must hand in their ballots by June 28; the nominations will be announced on July 19. Why don’t we help out these folks and suggest worthy candidates?

That’s the thinking behind the long, carefully reasoned, highly passionate, sometimes stubbornly flukey list that follows. As EW’s TV critic, I tend to have some opinions not shared by the majority of official Emmy voters. I also suspect, however, that you, the reader, share some of my passions — such as Fringe, Girls,  and Community — that the Academy is unlikely to nominate. Which is one reason to agitate for them, right? READ FULL STORY

'Fringe' season finale review: Killing to live, living to die

Fringe closed out its season with an hour that wrapped up some of this season’s loose ends, settled some timeline hash, quoted some William Butler Yeats, answered a few nagging Observer observations, and rang William Bell to a fare-thee-well. READ FULL STORY

'Fringe' review: 'Letters of Transit,' agents of change

Fringe continued its poetic enterprise this week by leaping into a future overrun by Observers, where Walter was ambered, and the most Byronic of Lost cast members became a Fringe division investigator. On its surface, this Fringe episode was a departure from the usual unusualness of the series, yet it in fact continued the series’ ongoing project, which is to explore the ideas of identity, self, and image.  READ FULL STORY

Politics on Tuesday TV: Rick Santorum 'Breaking In' as Mitt Romney goes up 'The River'

While the broadcast networks were airing new episodes of The River and the return of Breaking In (hoo boy, even Megan Mullally came off badly in that Christian Slater-led stinker; poor her), the real fascination was in the tight Ohio primary fight between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, and President Obama’s press conference earlier in the day.

Both Fox News Channel and MSNBC said in various ways that the narrowness of the Ohio race was an important indication of problems for Romney going forward. Both channels pointed out the disparity in what the candidates had spent in the state — roughly $12 million by Romney; roughly $1 million for Santorum. Michael Moore, popping up on (where else?) MSNBC, asked what does it mean about Romney’s chances “if he can’t beat the guy who forgets to file the papers [in Virginia]?”  READ FULL STORY

UPDATE: 'Alcatraz' week 2, 'Kit Nelson': Why it's caught on with a large audience so quickly, and why it may deserve to

Alcatraz premiered last week with back-to-back episodes that lured more than 10 million viewers and bested the premiere of its time-period predecessor, Terra Nova. The show had two things going for it from the start: A catchy premise (Alcatraz prisoners from the 1960s are somehow transported into our current era) and fan-favorite Jorge Garcia. READ FULL STORY

Golden Globe TV nominations: Why some are great, and some omissions are ridiculous: VIDEO

The Golden Globes loom. The Golden Globes list. The nominations tilt toward cable TV, and away from network, at least in the drama category. READ FULL STORY

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