Ken Tucker's TV Prime-Time TV commentary

Tag: HBO (1-10 of 17)

Good night, and a few more opinions and recommendations

Here’s the way I began this blog in 2008:

“Hello. I’ll use this space to: talk about what I watched last night
 (strong opinions guaranteed); what I think you shouldn’t miss tonight; and
 what’s coming up that you should set your DVR for. Absolutely anything is
 open for dissection, celebration, criticism, and discussion, from an actor’s 
great performance, to a story-line that’s starting to stink, to championing 
TV shows both obscure and famous. I watch TV, you watch TV: Let’s share our 
thoughts and passions, OK?” 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.


'Boardwalk Empire' review: The tedium of shock

Boardwalk Empire, with its handsomely burnished fixtures and darkly lit rooms, has always traded on the fiction-based-on-research that its dandy-fied bootleggers are capable of wanton acts of violence to keep the employees and customers in line. But Sunday night’s season-three premiere upped the ante in this area by introducing Bobby Cannavale as Gyp Rosetti, and I don’t care how much proof the producers muster that a guy like Gyp could be/would be/was this psychotic, I’m not buying the character — and this aspect of the series — as being much more than an example of a cable show using its freedom to portray some of its acts of violence as quick dramatic shorthand for daring, or seriousness of intent. READ FULL STORY

'The Newsroom' season finale review: All's well that ends where it all began

The Newsroom wrapped up its first season with a timely nod to Republican voter suppression laws and a whole lotta symmetry to bring the finale full circle, back to the key events of the series pilot. READ FULL STORY

'The Newsroom' review: Killing Osama bin Laden, committing screwball comedy, and bullying a flight attendant

So last night we saw how the ACN news staff would have covered the killing of Osama bin Laden on The Newsroom: With an anchor who by his own admission was “wasted … completely baked,” and in the midst of a newsroom romance that dares not speak its name. READ FULL STORY

Why did 'Political Animals' get better reviews than 'The Newsroom'?

On Sunday night, the first installment of the USA network miniseries Political Animals premiered opposite the fourth episode of The Newsroom. Both offer big-canvas portraits of workplace environments that fascinate the media (politics and, well, the media); both star actors who normally don’t “do” television (Sigourney Weaver; Jeff Daniels); both come from producers who’ve done interesting TV work in the past (Everwood and Jack & Bobby from Greg Berlanti; The West Wing and SportsNight from Aaron Sorkin). While no one would argue that Sorkin’s resume doesn’t carry more weight (a feature film career that includes The Social Network, A Few Good Men, and Moneyball — of which I really liked two out of three — will do that for a fella), Berlanti’s work here feels fully up to the level of Sorkin’s latest as fast-paced entertainment. It’s also received better reviews in the most prominent outlets.

Which leads to the question: Why? 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

'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

'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

'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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