Pop Culture Gadabout
Friday, July 11, 2008
      ( 7/11/2008 10:37:00 PM ) Bill S.  

SUMMER TUBING: Since the writer's strike forced networks to use up many of their prime series reruns early, the need for a strong set of summer shows is greater than ever. (New teevee! We want new teevee! And none of this Big Brother shit either!) This week, USA's Burn Notice saw its season premiere - with two more of the network's sturdy performers (Monk and Psych) on the horizon. Burn's season opener had its moments (how could it not with Bruce Campbell still a solid part of the storyline?) But so far, the USA series that's truly captured my attention has been the Mary McCormack witness protection vehicle, In Plain Sight. Even when the plotlines have been less-than-gripping (e.g., an ep devoted to a gambling addicted basketball player), McCormack and her partner Marshall Mann (Fred Weller) have a neat chemistry between them that more than makes up for it. The episode guest starring Dave Foley as a smarmy witness in need of protection was particularly choice.

Haven't said much about NBC's summer anthology series, Fear Itself, though you might have expected me to – in large part because this toned-down retooling of Showtime's Masters of Horror series hasn't been that inspiring - though Stuart Gordon's most recent "The Eater" came close to matching the earlier series at its meanest. I'd hoped that mainstream network restrictions would've forced the show's creators to become more inventive with their scares, but, t'was not to be. Gotta admit it was fun watching John Landis put two actors from Psych (James Roday & Maggie Lawson) through their paces, though.

Over on Showtime itself, Weeds has returned strong with its new season, thanks to a guest turn by the incomparable Albert Brooks and two very funny sequences featuring our heroine Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) as a drug mule. And after watching his great weaselly Doug over the past three seasons, I hereby retract every snarky thing I've ever said in the past about Kevin Nealon. On the other end of the cable spectrum, ABC Family's The Middleman continues to prove amusing, though I absolutely refuse to watch the net's other big summer series, Secret Life of the American Teen. I'm not that desperate for new summer fare.

Which leaves TNT's big two summer shows, The Closer and Saving Grace. My taste in revelation television tends toward the goofier digressions of John from Cincinnati, so I tend to favor Kyra Sedgewick's series over Holly Hunter's angsty arguments with the angels. But I know we'll be watching both shows in our house, anyway. Still can't figure out if I wanna watch A&E's The Cleaner or not: the promos don't do a good job of swaying me in either direction. Did catch the first ep of CBS's S.W.A.T. updating, Flashpoint, this evening, though, and despite the reliable presence of Enrico Colantoni, I think I'm glad Monk and/or Psych are coming back to Friday nights next week. (Haven't yet gotten the hang of cable net scheduling in Arizona, so I haven't figure out which'll be on opposite the hostage negotiation show.) Wasn't a fan of S.W.A.T. when it ruled the air; don't see much in this largely indistinguishable group procedural that'll bring me back to it either.

Oh yeah, and new Eurekas come at the end of the month. You can keep your grim 'n' gritty Galactica: I'm heading for the quirky small town in the Pacific Northwest . . .
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Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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