Ken Tucker's TV Prime-Time TV commentary

Tag: season premiere (11-20 of 98)

'Downton Abbey' season premiere review: A rich, dense fruitcake, with occasional creepy-Crawleys

As was made thumpingly obvious in its super-sized premiere, how much you enjoy Downton Abbey‘s third season is, more than ever for this series, predicated on just how much of an Anglophile you are. You have to be willing to go pretty thick into the weediness of British property rights and privilege, and to realize that as much as we have great affection for the Crawleys, they — like real people we love and put up with, such as family members — have their blind spots, their objectionable beliefs, their frustrating set ways. For instance, we don’t have to turn a deaf ear to anything as (to most of this family’s way of thinking) crassly complex as the struggle for Irish independence in order maintain the illusion of the Crawleys as a clan to care about. Me, I was amused as always, and was also perfectly content to feel irritation periodically mixing with my enjoyment of these toffee-nosed twits, these occasionally creepy-Crawleys. READ FULL STORY

'Buckwild' premiere review: Loud, crude, and kind of lovable?

Buckwild premiered on Thursday night, preceded by the usual this-is-the-end-of-civilization condemnation/hype that greets any well-promoted MTV reality series featuring youthful humans. But after watching the two back-to-back initial episodes, I’d say MTV’s main problem is that these West Virginia kids may be a little too likable to get all huffy and self-righteous about. READ FULL STORY

'1600 Penn' premiere review: It starts out slowly, but could you stick with it for a week or so?

Here’s the thing: You’re not going to laugh very much, I’m guessing, at the 1600 Penn that premieres tonight. The debut lumbers along like the pilot for a complex drama, as though it had to carefully delineate each member of a wacky White House family headed up by Bill Pullman’s President, Jenna Elfman’s First Lady, her stepson played by Josh Gad, and the family’s other kids. But the show gets better; by the third episode, I liked the characters and I was laughing. 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

'Hunted' premiere review: Bone-crunching fights, soul-crushing lies, lip-pouting action

Hunted stars Melissa George (whom some of us will always revere as Gabriel Byrne’s most pouty-lipped patient on HBO’s In Treatment) as Sam Hunter, employee of a private investigative company called Byzantium. The new series, which premiered Friday night, wants to be, as the company name suggests, a byzantine thriller about betrayal, deception, spying, fighting, and poutiness. Created by X-Files/Lone Gunman/Millennium writer-producer Frank Spotnitz, Hunted succeeds as a fun, junky thriller, just the sort of thing the current Cinemax directive (“We will make Strike Back a hit!”) exists to offer. 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

'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

'Last Resort' premiere review: Did it sink or swim for you?

Tense and well-acted by stars Andre Braugher and Scott Speedman, Last Resort is one of the most promising new shows of the fall season, as well as being one that carries a big risk of dropping in quality: It’s an absorbing curiosity.

The pilot that aired on Thursday night told a complex tale with swift efficiency. Braugher and Speedman head up a Navy ballistic missle submarine, the USS Colorado. As Captain Marcus Chaplin and XO Lt. Commander Sam Kendal, respectively, the ship receives an order to launch a missle at Pakistan. Something’s fishy about this drastic directive, however, and when Chaplin balks at firing, he’s relieved of command and his second in command (the “XO”) is put in charge. READ FULL STORY

'The Neighbors' premiere review: Why this is not the worst new show of the fall season

There are certain kinds of shows that invite automatic derision, none more so than the high-concept sitcom. From My Favorite Martian to My Mother the Car through Holmes and Yo-Yo and Work It to ABC’s The Neighbors, the intentional silliness of the premise is an automatic turn-off to a lot of people. The key word there, though, is “intentional”: You don’t make My Mother the Car thinking you’re creating a brilliant satire of man’s dependency on the automobile. And Bosom Buddies was a potentially awful idea (which Work It copped), but was redeemed by the budding talents of Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari, among others. Similarly if not as successfully, the knowing creators of The Neighbors clearly want their show to serve as something more than a series of sight-gags and verbal gaffes, this time from a bunch of aliens who’ve moved into a suburban enclave. READ FULL STORY

'Hawaii Five-0' season premiere tonight: Worth watching for its crazy energy

Just putting this on your radar in case it’s not already: It’s worth checking out tonight’s season premiere of Hawaii Five-0. It’s got a crazy energy to its pacing, it’s got Christine Lahti as Alex O’Loughlin’s mother, and it’s got a day-time street shoot-out that marshals more ammunition than any such scene this side of Michael Mann’s Heat. READ FULL STORY

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