Ken Tucker's TV Prime-Time TV commentary

Tag: Television (71-80 of 1706)

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

'The Girl' review: Breaking news: Alfred Hitchcock abused Tippi Hedren, badly and melodramatically

The Girl, which premiered on HBO on Saturday night, played out like a bad Alfred Hitchcock movie — like, for example and in an unfortunate coincidence, Marnie, one of the films that’s prominent in The Girl. The Girl is a movie with an axe that is ground with less subtlety than anything Hitchcock himself ever made: It wants to humiliate the director of such great movies as Vertigo and Psycho, while adding luster to the image of actress Tippi Hedren. Any production with an agenda like this was bound to be jarringly didactic, a surprisingly crucial flaw for a TV-movie with such talented people in front of and behind the camera. 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

'Nashville' week two review: Pickin', grinnin', and skinny-dippin'

The second episode of Nashville kicked off a scene showing Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) filming a video for for new single “Telescope,” a bit of jaunty pop-country that’s been released in the real world as a single to country radio. It seems like a bit of a risky move: If the song as sung by Panettiere sinks without a trace, doesn’t it suggest that Juliette Barnes isn’t a powerhouse hit maker? Not really: The majority of viewers watching Nashville aren’t also keeping their eyes on the music charts. Nope, it’s the mixture of drama and music that’s going to make or break Nashville, and this week’s episode, written as last week’s pilot was by creator Callie Khouri, revealed more of the series’ strengths and weaknesses. 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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'Walking Dead' season premiere VIDEO review: It may be the best episode yet

The Walking Dead begins its new season tomorrow night with an episode directed by Ernest Dickerson that takes the show back to what it exists to do: Kill zombies. READ FULL STORY

Vice Presidential debate review: Joe Biden and Paul Ryan grinned like sharks, biting each other

It was a battle of smiles and smirks as Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan debated each other on Thursday night. Both men were eager beavers — beavers showing their choppers repeatedly, in often pained grimaces, condescending smirks, or incredulous glances — trying strenuously to provide a contrast to the first Obama-Romney debate. The words that emerged from beneath those grins were often contentious, frequently interrupting each other. And except for one big misstep in phrasing an important question, moderator Martha Raddatz was satisfyingly assertive in refereeing the squabbles and keeping the debate moving at a pace that allowed for many positions to be challenged and for drama to unfold. READ FULL STORY

'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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