Ken Tucker's TV Prime-Time TV commentary

Tag: TV Review (31-40 of 985)

A Jack Klugman appreciation: An unusual star, with Oscar and Quincy displaying his range

Jack Klugman, who has died at 90, was a TV-star anomaly — not conventionally handsome, with the jagged voice and hangdog demeanor of a character actor, and a performer who was as comfortable being part of an ensemble as he was a lead actor. His two signature roles — sloppy sportswriter Oscar Madison on The Odd Couple and shrewd medical examiner in
Quincy, M.E. — were as different as could be, yet Klugman was expansively comfortable as both of those men.
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Why isn't 'A Child's Christmas in Wales' available on DVD, online, or even on VHS?

One of the most lovely things you can watch during the holiday season is the 1987 film of Dylan Thomas’ “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” starring the late Denholm Elliott. It’s a faithful yet playful adaptation of Thomas’ work, a narrative poem conceived as a radio play, and the film is at once appropriately sentimental about Christmases past and tartly realistic about the Christmas depicted in the film’s present. It stands in contrast to so much Christmas entertainment that is either gloppy or pious; Elliott, as both narrator and lead actor, provides a vinegary crispness to the role of nostalgic grandfather.

But here’s the thing: A Child’s Christmas in Wales is difficult to find. READ FULL STORY

NRA president Wayne LaPierre on 'Meet The Press': 'Call me crazy'

He asked for it: On Sunday morning’s Meet the Press, National Rifle Association president Wayne LaPierre said, “If it’s crazy to call for putting police in and securing our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy.” Okay, Wayne. You’re crazy. And you kinda sound like a more militant Carly Rae Jepsen. 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

NRA's Wayne LaPierre attacks entertainment and news media for Newtown killings; makes bizarre claims; protests erupt: VIDEO

In one of the most bizarre press conferences held on live television, National Rifle Association president Wayne LaPierre launched a hostile, self-pitying attack on the media, the entertainment industry, and schools themselves for the killings in Newtown, Conn. His solution: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Interrupted twice by protestors carrying signs with sentiments such as “NRA: Blood On Its Hands,” LaPierre called for “armed security” in “every single school in America.” LaPierre said “the national media machine rewards” mass killers with coverage. He condemned “vicious, violent videogames” such as Mortal Kombat and showed a clip from a videogame called “Kindergarten Killers.” He bad-mouthed “movies such as American Psycho and Natural Born Killers.” He scolded “violent music videos” and scorned anyone who “has the nerve to call it entertainment.” Overall, the entertainment industry promotes “the filthiest form of pornography,” said LaPierre. READ FULL STORY

The legacy of 'Jersey Shore': How will cultural history judge Snooki and her spawn?

Jersey Shore signs off tonight, ending six seasons of drunken foolishness, its place in pop culture semi-secure. It is one of the most successful, and most controversial, pieces of programming MTV has ever devised (and that’s saying something, when you’re also the birthplace of A Shot at Love II with Tila Tequila, the crappiest piece of junk ever to deploy a Roman numeral). But what is Jersey Shore‘s lasting significance, its enduring impact? 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

'Homeland' season finale review: The revenge of Mandy Patinkin

Homeland concluded its season with an episode that gave the best lines to Mandy Patinkin’s Saul, and set the series spinning forward for another season. The question is: Are you going to go with it, given what’s now happened?

SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU’VE SEEN THE SEASON FINALE OF HOMELAND. READ FULL STORY

'Downton Abbey' cast performs exclusive 'Breaking Bad' scenes on 'Colbert Report': VIDEO

Last night on The Colbert Report, the host, fed up with the power of Michelle Obama to have already secured the upcoming season of Downton Abbey, exacted a kind of revenge of the polity. He got Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan’s permission to have the cast of Downton Abbey enact scenes from the upcoming season of Bad. READ FULL STORY

'Homeland' review: Death versus romance? 'It wasn't even close'

In a way, what this week’s Homeland was about was one of the most simple things imaginable for a complex piece of television: Allowing a love story to unfold. Which is a storytelling goal that will, I’m pretty sure, annoy nearly as many viewers as it pleases.

SPOILER ALERT: DON’T READ IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THIS WEEK’S HOMELAND. READ FULL STORY

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