Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Still More Summer TV

Summer TV.

More Summer TV.

The Company: This six-hour mini-series on TNT has some damn fine actors (Alfred Molina, Michael Keaton, Rory Cochrane, and Natascha McElhone), and it's got what should be a compelling premise: a years-long story of several players in post-WWII espionage -- American, British, and Russian -- from the Cold War through the fall of the Berlin Wall. The major (but far from only) impediment to its success is the lead actor: Chris O'Donnell, who is the most uninteresting pile of bland ever to blunder his way into an acting career. Despite the wide array of plotlines and characters, O'Donnell really needs to carry the weight here, and he totally fails. Also, the intrigue is less than intriguing, there's too much time spent on lame romantic subplots, and it just feels like a meandering mess. This is only after watching the first two hours of the mini-series; maybe it gets better. Despite having already watched a third of its total runtime, I don't know that I'll stick around to find out.

My Boys: It looks like I never talked about this TBS sitcom when it debuted last year. I could've sworn I did, but... oh well. Its second season began last week, and I'm enjoying it even more than the first. I mean, it's got Jim Gaffigan as a castmember, so right there: sold. I'm in. I think Gaffigan is one of the funniest guys around, and he continues to prove it as Andy on My Boys.

But the show is really all about P.J., the female sportswriter (and Andy's younger sister), played by Jordana Spiro, who is a wonderful discovery. P.J.'s a tomboy, into sports and beer and poker; the "Boys" of the title refer to her little group of close friends, almost all male. Spiro is lovely, and funny, and believably rough and tumble when dealing with her lunkhead buddies. And the buddies are a very entertaining and genial crew, any of whom seems like he'd make an agreeable drinking buddy. Spiro is also adept at portraying the "girlier" side of her personality, which emerges mostly when interacting with her best (and apparently only) female friend, Stephanie (Kellee Stewart), and dealing with the various romantic entanglements in her life.

Stewart was the only weakness in the show last year, I thought, and even she's growing on me this year. It's not a groundbreaking milestone in comedy, but it's a very enjoyable way to spend a half hour, especially considering how very rarely you'll find a cable sitcom that isn't total crap (The Bill Engvall Show, anybody?). And I guarantee you, Spiro is going to have a big career; she'll be starring in a network show within four years, is my prediction. Hopefully, she brings Gaffigan with her.

The Bill Engvall Show: Total crap. Didn't we just cover that?

Power of 10: This CBS game show hosted by Drew Carey premiered tonight, and it was pretty weak. The premise: a few thousand Americans are polled on a variety of opinion questions, and the contestants have to guess which percentage of those polled answered in a certain way. Such as, how many people think they would lose to Dick Cheney in a duel? There was a bit of humor in some of the questions, like that last one, and I've always liked Drew Carey, though his unpolished, unrehearsed, perpetually self-amused style makes me wonder how he's ever going to anchor The Price Is Right. Still, since there's an online game in which you can win a chance to be a contestant on the show (next game begins 6PM Pacific time tomorrow, Wednesday the 8th), I guess I'll give it the benfit of the doubt. I'm willing to overlook a lot for a shot at $10 million!

I Hate My 30's: VH1's attempt at a sitcom is uneven at best, and that's being generous. It's mostly awful, frankly, and since I actually do hate my 30s (or 30's, depending on your opinion on the proper use of apostrophes, I guess, and it's entirely possible I'm the one in the wrong on this), I was hoping for something a bit realer and funnier. Why I would expect that from a sitcom on VH1, I have no idea. But there are a few moments of inspired silliness that make me wonder why they didn't try a bit harder to let the good show emerge from the dreck.

The Bronx Is Burning: I haven't been watching this ESPN mini-series, despite its excellent cast and intriguing premise -- following the turbulent '77 Yankees as they make their run at the World Series, as well as what's happening in the rest of New York at the same time (such as the Son of Sam murders). The reason I haven't been watching: I remember my soaring frustration at trying to watch ESPN's 2005 poker drama, Tilt, which was constantly running beyond its scheduled time period, or pre-empted altogether. I figured with Bronx, I'd just wait and rent the eventual DVD collection, and avoid the hassle.

Looks like it'll be pretty good -- from the snippets I've caught, John Turturro is tremendous as Billy Martin, and Oliver Platt, as George Steinbrenner, is awesome as always. (You may recall Ian challenging me when I once before asserted Platt's eternal greatness. I'm still a little hard-pressed to defend that assertion with concrete examples... but I stand by it nonetheless.)

Man, that's a lot of Summer TV. I'm just thankful it's helped while away the dog days until the regular Fall season begins. And hey presto, here we are only a month away! Way to serve your purpose, Summer TV!

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com