Tag Archives: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

(F)X Marks the Spot

Louis C.K. is back on television and thank God for that!

Lucky Louie, his prior cable show that infused his comedy writing into a lewd and hysterical sitcom, proved to be too much for people. Their loss! The cast (Pamela Adlon, Rick Shapiro and several great fellow comics) was perfect, and his knack for putting himself into extremely awkward situations was both bold and hilarious.

Louie, the new show, merges clips of his stand-up performance with related filmed set-ups, which is not a new idea (think Seinfeld if the clips were used within the show instead of just bumpers). But Louis is an extremely watchable actor who convincingly sells uncomfortable and cringe-worthy. The material is based on his own life;  I sure hope he’s embellishing the bad parts.

Great to see fellow comics like Jim Norton, Nick DiPaolo and Eddie Brill onboard as well (I could watch a “poker scene” every week just to let these guys riff) and Chelsea Peretti was great as the date from hell. But the better part of the show is simply Louis on stage, showing why he might just be the best stand-up comic we have right now. Not to mention prolific – this year should also see the release of yet another CD and DVD of fresh material.

Personally I enjoy the blend of stand-up and filmed segments – Louis C.K. writes, directs, edits and produces the entire thing, so it’s a pretty consistently funny experience. But if you’re the type who enjoys the stand-up routines but hates the vignettes that set them up, Videogum is the site for you – they’ve parsed the stage material.

Bonus: hearing “Brother Louie” as the theme song every week!

***

Rescue Me is also back for its final season, although the decision was made to split the episodes between 2010 and 2011, with the closing of the show set to coincide with the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

 The first episode picks up after the pseudo-cliffhanger from last year (did anyone really think they were going to kill Tommy Gavin?) and uses the hour to re-introduce most of the central and recurring characters, most of whom have finally had their fill of Tommy. Haunted by his personal failures – and still haunted by his dead cousin – Gavin is somehow still on the precipice of a further fall even when seemingly at rock bottom. His wife might be finding solace with one of his crew, his daughter might be following in his footsteps, and his workplace might be closing, the victim of budget cuts and politics.

When the show first aired, there was a solid dose of homage to the fallen heroes from 9/11 and an emphasis on what is was all about to be a firefighter. As seasons progressed it became more about the humor and pathos of the firefighters’ personal lives (much like The Job spent less and less time at the police station), but anyone who knows good television cans ee an arc of redemption on the way. Will Tommy Gavin have to sink lower before rising to the occasion? Do bears shit in the woods?

Leary has always been loyal to his friends and associates, so thankfully that results in a lot of face time for Adam Ferrara and especially the great Lenny Clarke, whose Uncle Teddy character has shown he’s not shy about firing a sidearm. Also great to welcome back the luminous Andrea Roth, note-perfect as his exasperated (and smoking-hot) wife Janet.

I like Denis Leary the stand-up, but I really like Denis Leary the actor/producer/writer a lot more. He’s two-for-two already and I hope he and partner Peter Tolan have more concepts up their sleeves for 2012 and beyond.

Just two more home runs for FX, arguably the best channel on TV the past couple of years. And only a couple of more months before It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and Sons of Anarchy return.

Louie

Rescue Me

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I Like To Watch

"Is there a TV upstairs? I like to watch."

So do a lot of people, apparently. Guess there is a bright side to an economic recession after all.

FOX is claiming its first-ever win in the Nielsen’s for the 4th quarter, as their viewership rose while CBS, NBC and ABC took a slight dip. Of course, FOX has a tendency to lie through their teeth stretch the truth on occasion, but with a lineup including heavyweights House and Bones plus the incredible success of Glee, I tend to believe this. (Plus the numbers came from the Nielsen Ratings…not that those or any other survey are any more accurate than an extrapolated small sample could be.)

And that’s before 24 starts revving its engine next month.

But almost as amazing is the rise in cable viewership and the number of channels setting all-time highs for ratings. FX lost The Shield and Nip/Tuck this year but has two big hits with Damages and Sons of AnarchyThe League also did very well, while It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia had its strongest season to date. AMC killed with Mad Men, of course, and has Breaking Bad coming back.

 USA in particular struck gold with The Closer and the final season of Monk, whose last episode now holds the record for the largest rating ever on basic cable. White Collar, the new series that rode Monk as a lead-in, seems to have charmed viewers as well.

But some disturbing news about one of my favorites, Better Off Ted, where ABC is burning off the remaining new episodes starting this Friday (a/k/a Television’s Graveyard) and then running double episodes on January 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th. Hopefully that’s just to clear the decks for Lost, which starts its final season February 2nd, and will occupy the same night and time slot. Glass half full over here.

Much more information at The Futon Critic.

30 years old this month; still prescient.

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Golden Globes Noms: Rusty

Ricky Gervais, save us!

The nominations for the 67th Golden Globes were announced this morning, and as usual it’s a mixed bag of deserving nods, payback to schmoozing favorites and a handful of glaring omissions. For now a quick look at the nominations for television: 

BEST TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
a. BIG LOVE (HBO)
b. DEXTER (SHOWTIME)
c. HOUSE (FOX)
d. MAD MEN (AMC)
e. TRUE BLOOD (HBO)

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
a. GLENN CLOSE, DAMAGES
b. JANUARY JONES, MAD MEN
c. JULIANNA MARGULIES, THE GOOD WIFE
d. ANNA PAQUIN, TRUE BLOOD
e. KYRA SEDGWICK, THE CLOSER

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
a. SIMON BAKER, THE MENTALIST
b. MICHAEL C. HALL, DEXTER
c. JON HAMM, MAD MEN
d. HUGH LAURIE, HOUSE
e. BILL PAXTON, BIG LOVE

BEST TELEVISION SERIES – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
a. 30 ROCK (NBC)
b. ENTOURAGE (HBO)
c. GLEE (FOX)
d. MODERN FAMILY (ABC)
e. THE OFFICE (NBC)

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
a. TONI COLLETTE, UNITED STATES OF TARA
b. COURTENEY COX, COUGAR TOWN
c. EDIE FALCO, NURSE JACKIE
d. TINA FEY, 30 ROCK
e. LEA MICHELE, GLEE

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
a. ALEC BALDWIN, 30 ROCK
b. STEVE CARELL, THE OFFICE
c. DAVID DUCHOVNY, CALIFORNICATION
d. THOMAS JANE, HUNG
e. MATTHEW MORRISON, GLEE

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
a. JANE ADAMS, HUNG
b. ROSE BYRNE, DAMAGES
c. JANE LYNCH, GLEE
d. JANET McTEER, INTO THE STORM
e. CHLOË SEVIGNY, BIG LOVE

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
a. MICHAEL EMERSON, LOST
b. NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
c. WILLIAM HURT, DAMAGES
d. JOHN LITHGOW, DEXTER
e. JEREMY PIVEN, ENTOURAGE

I have to remind myself that these nominations and awards, however prestigious, are the work of ninety reporters in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, it’s not an industry-wide tally. Some of these people don’t even review the work itself – they exist solely to hobnob with stars and create puff pieces for magazines and gossip columns. By comparison, the Online Film Critics Society has over one hundred forty reviewers

The awards hold merit despite the fact that most people realize it is a popularity contest; some favorites would almost have to commit a crime to not get a nomination. Remember that this is the same organization that accepted lavish gifts and bribes in return for naming Pia Zadora Best Actress. 

Whatever

As far as drama goes…I’m always glad to see Michael Emerson getting some love for Lost, but I thought the show made a major rebound this past season and deserved a nod. And how about FX’s Sons of Anarchy – not to mention Katey Sagal‘s bold performance? Breaking Bad (not to mention its two male leads)? Tired of the Hugh Laurie and House nominations, people – great guy but he’s sleepwalking in that character after so many years. 

Looking at the comedy nominations, I’m floored that freshman shows Glee and Modern Family both got nods, but equally stunned that It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia – the funniest show on television this past season – got blanked. Entourage is a joke; I think it gets nominated because of its subject matter. Far funnier shows include Better off Ted, Parks and Recreation and even Community

Lots of shows seemingly fall in the middle – there’s plenty of humor on Castle, Rescue Me and The Closer although I suppose all would be considered under the drama category…if anyone bothered to nominate them, that is.  Ditto a wealth of performers on those ensembles that aren’t getting the publicity or the nominations while Jeremy Piven gets rubber-stamped in yet again (albeit in a very tough category).

Oh well. At least I don’t have to puke in my mouth a little anymore, now that they’ve finally put Boston Legal in its grave. And each category, despite the omissions, does have someone I can truly root for. But it’s far too much hoopla for such a small return…and the over hype is just getting started. 

My five word summary: Thank God for Ricky Gervais

 

Full nominations here.

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Louie – Lucky Again

On a roll. Like buttah!

Louis C.K. is on fire this year. Still rolling through his most prolific period of writing and performing, he’s recorded a two-disc version of his 2009 show Hilarious earlier this year. That’s coming out soon even though people are still discovering 2008’s Chewed Up and 2007’s Shameless. That’s three solid new shows in three years while managing to juggle all his other activities.

And as previously announced, Louis signed a deal for a new show on the FX network. It’s never going to be as permissive as pay cable, where Louis was able to float scenes like this classic on Lucky Louie. But damned if FX hasn’t been pushing the boundaries of basic cable as far as they can stretch with Sons of Anarchy and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. (FX has to be my favorite network right now when you factor in Damages and six seasons of Rescue Me. Even The League is growing on me a bit, and the upcoming Archer looks great!).

And today, Louis launched his own plug for the show. This is just too funny. Warning: NSFW (of course).

HBO never should have cancelled Lucky Louie. But now that Louis C.K. is lucky enough to have another shot, here’s hoping FX has bigger stones than HBO did. I can’t imagine the new show having a better cast than he did before, but he has the golden touch right now and I would not bet against him.Watch for Louie in the Spring of 2010 on FX.

Three Men and a Babe

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Emmys: Feast or Famine

And you thought Justice was blind?

And you thought Justice was blind?

Trust me, I’m long past letting my blood boil over award show nominations, let alone winners. Whether it’s Al Pacino in Scent of A Woman, or handing over the Best Actor Emmy to possibly the worst lead performance on television for what – three times in four years? – I realize that my tastes do not coincide with the powers that be (especially #2). If they did, the only reality television would be the nightly news.

But since I have to wallow through Rock of Love and According To Jim and Project Runway and Jon and Kate plus Her Bodyguard and His Weekend Affair just to select a channel from the cable menu, I figured I’d let whatever bubble of bile I was able to generate subside and then pick out the biggest miss from the major categories.

Not that there weren’t some astute choices among the nominees Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad, for example – but it seemed like either feast of famine. I love 30 Rock; I think it’s a brilliantly written show and the ensemble cast is excellent. But twenty-two Emmy nominations? And not one single nomination for The Shield?

I’ve been watching television since I was a child, a longer time than I want to admit. And I can tell you without hesitation that Walton Goggins delivered one of the most searing performances I have ever seen – ever – on The Shield as doomed Detective Shane Vendrell. As great as he was for the first five seasons of the show, he raised the bar in the sixth as a man racked by guilt and pain. Then – amazingly – he raised it again for the final season as we watched him slowly disintegrate and implode before our eyes. It was a harrowing, frightening portayal that burned into your head week by week, yet addictively impossible to turn away from.

Hell, the entire cast was superb, led by Michael Chiklis as Vic Mackey (another oversight, and more deserving than Gandolfini in the Sopranos’ last season); several like  CCH Pounder and Jay Karnes got chances to shine and did. Bad enough that the actors got screwed over, but overlooking the writing? That might have been a more egregious omission. And I’m equally floored that not one actor from Friday Night Lights was named – are they that good at their job that you don’t think they’re acting?

Ah, crap…I feel the bile coming back.

Here are the nominations for the major categories, along with one I’d swap out in a heartbeat. (I’ll get to my picks for “will win” and “should win” prior to the actual awards.) You’ll probably recognize a lot of the names, since an Emmy nomination is like winning a Gold Glove in baseball; odds are you keep chugging along unless you really blow it.

Drama Series: “Big Love,” HBO; “Breaking Bad,” AMC; “Damages,” FX Networks; “Dexter,” Showtime; “House,” Fox; “Lost,” ABC; “Mad Men,” AMC. // Out: House. (no, that’s not a pun). Getting silly in its old age. At least I don’t have to choke on Boston Legal anymore…In: The Shield. See bulk of this essay.

Comedy Series: “Entourage,” HBO; “Family Guy,” Fox; “Flight of the Conchords,” HBO; “How I Met Your Mother,” CBS; “The Office,” NBC; “30 Rock,” NBC; “Weeds,” Showtime. // Out: Entourage. Past its shelf life…In: Better Off Ted. After an over-hyped and only-average first episode, it’s been about the funniest thing on television.

Actor, Drama Series: Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad,” AMC; Michael C. Hall, “Dexter,” Showtime; Hugh Laurie, “House,” Fox; Gabriel Byrne, “In Treatment,” HBO; Jon Hamm, “Mad Men,” AMC; Simon Baker, “The Mentalist,” CBS. // Out: Hugh Laurie. Like the show, beating a dead horse. In: Michael Chiklis, The Shield. Maybe his strongest season, and that’s saying something.

Actress, Drama Series: Sally Field, “Brothers & Sisters,” ABC; Kyra Sedgwick, “The Closer,” TNT; Glenn Close, “Damages,” FX Networks; Mariska Hargitay, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” NBC; Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men,” AMC; Holly Hunter, “Saving Grace,” TNT. // Out: Mariska Hartigay. Good, but nothing special…In: Katey Sagal, Sons of Anarchy. In as impressive of an about-face as Bryan Cranston on Breaking Bad, this is a bravura performance getting overlooked.

Supporting Actor, Drama Series: William Shatner, “Boston Legal,” ABC; Christian Clemenson, “Boston Legal,” ABC; Aaron Paul, “Breaking Bad,” AMC; William Hurt, “Damages,” FX Networks; Michael Emerson, “Lost,” ABC; John Slattery, “Mad Men,” AMC. // Out: William Shatner. Caricature, not character. In: Walton Goggins, The Shield – should not only have been nominated but should have won in a landslide. Am I the only person who gets the FX channel?

Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Rose Byrne, “Damages,” FX Networks; Sandra Oh, “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC; Chandra Wilson, “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC; Dianne Wiest, “In Treatment,” HBO; Hope Davis, “In Treatment,” HBO; Cherry Jones, “24,” Fox. //  Out: Chandra Wilson. Yawn, ywner, yawnest…In: Elizabeth Mitchell, Lost. Nuance on network television? I guess I should have known better.

Actor, Comedy Series: Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS; Jemaine Clement, “Flight of the Conchords,” HBO; Tony Shalhoub, “Monk,” USA; Steve Carell, “The Office,” NBC; Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock,” NBC; Charlie Sheen, “Two and a Half Men,” CBS. // Out: Tony Shaloub. How many do you need, anyway? I love the guy, and the character is great, but it’s a comfy shoe by now…In: Jay Harrington, Better Off Ted. Smooth and graceful with impeccable comic timing, including the asides to the camera. He makes it look so easy, but it’s an art.

Actress, Comedy Series: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” CBS; Christina Applegate, “Samantha Who?” ABC; Sarah Silverman, “The Sarah Silverman Program,” Comedy Central; Tina Fey, “30 Rock,” NBC; Toni Collette, “United States of Tara,” Showtime; Mary-Louise Parker, “Weeds,” Showtime. // Out: Sarah Silverman, and that’s without even seeing Toni Collette’s show. And I *like* Silverman!…In: Portia deRossi, Better Off Ted. Perfectly acidic opposite Harrington’s Cary Grant character.

Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: Kevin Dillon, “Entourage,” HBO; Neil Patrick Harris, “How I Met Your Mother,” CBS; Rainn Wilson, “The Office,” NBC; Tracy Morgan, “30 Rock,” NBC; Jack McBrayer, “30 Rock,” NBC; Jon Cryer, “Two and a Half Men,” CBS. // Out: Cryer, as much for the show being tired than his small arc of a character…In: John Scurti, Rescue Me. Yes, it’s drama, but it has enough structured comedy scenes to qualify, and Scurti is the perfect foil that all the other actors use as a springboard.

Supporting Actress, Comedy Series: Kristin Chenoweth, “Pushing Daisies,” ABC; Amy Poehler, “Saturday Night Live,” NBC; Kristin Wiig, “Saturday Night Live,” NBC; Jane Krakowski, “30 Rock,” NBC; Vanessa Williams, “Ugly Betty,” ABC; Elizabeth Perkins, “Weeds,” Showtime. // Out: Williams – even though Poehler and Wiig shouldn’t even be in this category – she and the show have flatlined…In: Kate Flannery, The Office. A fearless and hysterical performance; on a show that crosses the line she punts it from there.

I shouldn’t complain. Thanks to DVR and DVD I can ignore the glut of dross on television and savor It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia or Jackie Woodman rather than be subjected to most of what passes for entertainment. Hell, I’m no snob – I think Castle has taken over where Bones has slipped, and although I lament the loss of Life On Mars I am glad that we still have Fringe and Lost and 24 and other network shows to go along with the exceptional programs the smaller cable networks are churning out.

Ahh, but bitching about television is fun…and Jeremy Piven can’t win.

Keep track on Emmy site or the Awards Daily site.

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TV or not TV? Summertime…

Years ago I ran a nightclub, and like in most bars, Sunday night was death. Many places closed or suffered the losses. Me? I started Die Hard Happy Hour! Sure, the potential audience might have been smaller than a madhouse Friday or Saturday night, but since I was competing with no one else on Sundays I figured I’d nail my target demographic – music lovers who drank

Success? Let’s just say I underestimated the size of that fraternity.  By the second week there was a line out the door and a list of bands begging to play the new hot night in town. I reinvented the three day weekend. (You’re welcome!)

Well, it looks like some television executives learned this same lesson over the last few years, as the smaller cable networks now take advantage of the major network hiatus to air their programming to attract that hot new demographic – those of us too mature for Celebretard Programming who want something better. As in not reality television.

(Reality television?  Really? Don’t you encounter enough a-holes every day on your own? Why tune in to see more?)

Formerly known as Vast Wasteland, I now present TGIS  (Thank God It’s Summer). Three simple words: grill, beverage, DVR.

Bryan Cranston is awesome. Actually started late Spring but will re-run this Summer.

 

 Breaking Bad actually started late Spring but will re-run this Summer. Bryan Cranston is phenomenal.

 

 

rescue me

 

  I still like Denis Leary‘s earlier series  The Job better, but Rescue Me has yet to disappoint me.

 

 

the closer

 

  The Closer is not only one of the best shows on television, but the ensemble cast is loaded with wall-to-wall talent. G.W. Bailey and Anthony Denison could take their shtick on the road.

 

saving grace

 

  Saving Grace is also coming back to complete another round of episodes. Holly Hunter could kick my ass with one ripped bicep tied behind her back…or more likely one arm holding a beer.

 

 

 mad men

  I know AMC is supposed to be American Movie Classics – not new television dramas – but with Breaking Bad and Mad Men they are doing the job the majors are supposed to do. Kudos! 

 

 

sons of anarchy

  

Sons of Anarchy – FX deals an adult drama and helps fill the void of The Shield and The Wire.  The whole cast is great but Katey Sagal is fierce.

 

 

it's always sunny

 

 I pine for the return of the most irreverent show on television. FX strikes gold again!

 

 

jackie woodman

 

  But wherefore art thou, Jackie Woodman? Laura Kightlinger, you rule!

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