Monday, September 08, 2008

New Site Now Working

OK, it's finally working now.

Say good-bye to this site and go to for all the new posts.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

'Blood'-y Good Fun

I'm reposting this here, because the new blog isn't working yet.

Anyway, one of the most interesting new shows on TV kicks off Sunday night with the debut of "True Blood" (HBO, 9 p.m.), the new series from "Six Feet Under" creator Alan Ball.

Based on the series of Southern Gothic vampire novels by Charlaine Harris, "True Blood" posits what would happen if a new synthetic form of blood was developed and vampires decided to come "out of the coffin." Ball isn't particularly subtle about having the attitudes toward vampires reflect real-life attitudes towards gays, such as having a vampire advocate debate a Jerry Falwell-type minister on a "Nightline"-style show.

The plot centers around Sookie (Anna Paquin), a waitress born with the ability to hear everyone's thoughts. This isn't as cool an ability as one might think, since it drives her batty (so to speak). Her life is turned upside down when she saves the life of a vampire (Stephen Moyer), who is being drained of his blood. (Vamp blood is a very valuable narcotic on the black market).

Sookie becomes fascinated with the vampire and his lifestyle as her small, Louisiana town becomes more divided over the bloodsuckers. Are they evil or just misunderstood?

"True Blood" isn't "Buffy," "Angel," "Moonlight" or any of the other recent vampire shows on TV; while there is action on the show, it's not an action-adventure every week of people fighting each other and facing monsters.

It's more of a social commentary, mixed in with a lot of humor (mostly from a scene-stealing Rutina Wesley, who plays Sookie's BFF Tara). Being an HBO series, there's also quite a lot of sex.

Is "True Blood" the next "Sopranos" for HBO? Probably not. But it does compare pretty favorably with "Six Feet Under," and that isn't bad.

Also of note: Macon actress Carrie Preston is a series regular, playing a waitress at the same bar that Sookie works at. Also, Chris Offutt, a writer who taught a semester at Mercer University, is one of the show's writers, as is Oscar nominee Nancy Oliver.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: Normally, I don't promote game shows. But tonight's installment of "Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?" (Fox, 8 p.m.) should be a lot of fun, since the contestant is Georgia Secretary of Education Kathy Cox. Considering the state of Georgia's public schools right now and the controversy Cox has brought with her to the job, this could be pretty interesting.

Time flies when you are having fun: "Monk" (USA, 9 p.m.) celebrates its 100th episode with a lot of returning guest stars, including John Turturro as Monk's brother and Sarah Silverman as his No. 1 fan. Interestingly, they didn't bring back Sharona (Bitty Schram) as film producers do a documentary about Monk's life. It's followed by a new "Psych" at 10 p.m.

ABC Family is getting into the action-adventure gig with the six-part miniseries "Samurai Girl," which runs each of the next three nights from 8-10 p.m. This comes on the heels of "The Middleman," it's well-regarded superhero/spy show.

All of the Big 3 networks are running "Stand Up To Cancer" at 8 p.m. On CBS, the network is airing a preview show of its new fall series at 9 p.m., followed by a new "Swingtown" at 10 p.m. Having seen some of CBS' new offerings, it's a bit of a mixed bag.

Saturday features a new episode of "Primeval" (BBC America, 9 p.m.) as well as college football. Georgia faces Central Michigan (Fox SportsNet, 3:30 p.m.), and Georgia Tech visits Boston College (12 p.m., WPGA), while Morehouse visits Fort Valley State on Sunday (ESPNU, 2 p.m.)

On Sunday, there's a new "Mad Men" (AMC, 10 p.m.) while the season premiere of "Entourage" (HBO, 10 p.m.) follows "True Blood."

The new Fox game show, "Hole In The Wall" (Fox, 8 p.m.) debuts. It involves people jumping through a weird-shaped hole in a wall that is moving towards them. I'm not making this up.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Aloha, Blogger

The transition I mentioned a couple of weeks ago from Blogger to is complete.

This is my last post on Blogger, though the site will still be active for a while should anyone want to look through any of the other 529 posts I've put up.

Anyway, the new blog is, so make that your new bookmark and please continue to check in and leave your comments.

The first post is already online, previewing the HBO show "True Blood," (though the link still has a bug or two to be worked out; it may not be viewable until this afternoon).

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Still A Letterman Fan

David Letterman sometimes comes off as acerbic on his "Late Show," but I've always been struck by his graciousness.

Some examples:

-The way he celebrated his medical team after his heart surgery.

-His standing up for Ted Koppel and "Nightline," even though the show appeared on a rival network during the same timeslot.

-His loyalty to sportscaster Marv Albert, a longtime Letterman friend who was involved in a humiliating sexual harrassment case several years ago. While other comics took plenty of shots at Albert, Letterman never did once and later had Albert on as a guest.

-His post 9/11 show celebrating New York's cops and firefighters is still one of the great moments in TV.

-Inviting Conan O'Brien on shortly before he took over "Late Night," and appearing as one of Conan's early guests.

I bring this up because in the newest issue of "Rolling Stone," Letterman has taken the NBC brass to task for their treatment of "Tonight Show" host and longtime rival Jay Leno.

In the interview, Letterman said: "Unless I’m misunderstanding something, I don’t know why, after the job Jay has done for them, why they would relinquish that. ... I guess empathy is the right word. It’s hard to know what he felt about it. I have to believe he was not happy about it."

Letterman said he would love to have Leno as a guest after his stint on "The Tonight Show" is over.

Letterman also had kind words for Conan, who will be taking over "The Tonight Show" for Leno and be Letterman's new competition.

"It will be weird to see Conan at 11:30, don’t you think?" he said in the interview. "Which is not to say he can’t succeed, but, no, I don’t know what the competition will be like. I hope we’re able to do OK."

Letterman was less clear about his own future about whether he will continue to do "The Late Show" after his contract is up in 2010.

"The way I feel now, I would like to go beyond 2010, not much beyond, but you know, enough to go beyond. You always like to be able to excuse yourself on your own terms," Letterman said. "If the network is happy with that, great. If they wanna make a change in 2010, you know, I’m fine with that, too."

Here's one fan hoping he sticks around a while longer.

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: Wow, you TV viewers really, really liked the next generation of "90210," didn't you? It became the highest-rated series debut ever for The CW, and set records for several key demographic groups. Of course, if the same numbers were on, say, ABC, we wouldn't be writing about this, but CW is so happy that it will repeat the two-hour pilot tonight at 8 p.m.

Giving equal time to both conventions, tonight marks Republican presidential hopeful John McCain's keynote speech at the convention tonight. Coverage of the convention begins at 8 p.m. on PBS and on cable, but you can catch his speech on any of the networks when their coverage picks up at 10 p.m.

The NFL kicks off tonight with a matchup of the Super Bowl champion New York Giants hosting the Washington Redskins (7 p.m., NBC) On the college side, you have the classic SEC matchup of Vanderbilt and South Carolina (ESPN, 8:30 p.m.)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

'Anarchy' Is A Good Thing

FX has been pretty hit-and-miss with its series over the years. For every "Rescue Me" or "The Shield," you also get the likes of "Dirt" and "The Riches."

Fortunately, "Sons of Anarchy" (FX, 10 p.m.) is in the former category. In fact, comparisons to "The Shield" and "The Sopranos" are pretty apt. Though "Sons" doesn't rank yet with those two series - two of the best ever on TV, IMHO - it does show a lot of potential early on.

Think "Sopranos" redone as a biker gang, shot in a style reminiscent of "The Shield." (Not surprising, since the show was created by "The Shield's" producer, Kurt Sutter.)

Ron Perlman ("Hellboy") leads a biker gang that runs the crime in a Southern California town. With snitches among local law enforcement and dealing with all the rival gangs, the Sons of Anarchy are kind of the flip side of the coin to the strike team on The Shield.

In tonight's episode, the Sons must get back a warehouse full of guns stolen from them by a rival gang in order to fulfill the terms of a contract with a third group. Meanwhile, Jackson (Charlie Hunnam), the gang's annointed leader-to-be and son of the gang's founder, must deal with his ex-wife's (Drea De Matteo) drug habit that has put the life of their unborn son in danger.

The standout here is Katey Sagal ("Married With Children"), Perlman's wife and Hunnam's mother. As the matriarch of the gang, she channels both Carmela and Livia Soprano and is a forced to be reckoned with.

As FX series goes, "Sons" lacks the wit and emotional impact of "Rescue Me" and the adrenaline-induced shock value of "The Shield," but with the latter's exit at the end of this season, "Sons" has shown the potential to be a worthy replacement.

Note that the pilot runs 78 minutes, so like every other FX show, set your recording device of choice to run long.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: "Bones" (Fox, 8 p.m.) returns for Season 4 with a two-hour premiere that finds Bones (Emily Deschanel) and Booth (David Boreanaz) lecturing in London, only to be drawn into a case.

"Bones" has a lot to make up for with last season's less-than-stellar finale, in which team member Zach was shown to be the ally for the serial killer Gormogon. Though some of the blame lays with the WGA strike that shortened the season, the storyline was borderline ludicrous. In fact, "Bones" in general is plagued by somewhat silly weekly plots; what makes it worthwhile is the chemistry within the cast, especially the Deschanel-Boreanaz dynamic, one of TV's best non-couples.

"America's Next Top Model" (CW, 8 p.m.) kicks off a new seasons, while "Greatest American Dog" (CBS, 8 p.m.) continues to wind down.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Return Of 'The Shield'

Just before "The Shield" (FX, 10 p.m.) debuted in 2002, I saw the promos for it on FX. While they looked interesting, I was worried this would just be another "cop on the edge"-type series.

Then I watched the pilot. In that first episode, creator Shawn Ryan created an unforgetable character in Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis), the very definition of an anti-hero.

Mackey has done virtually anything and everything you can think of on both sides of the law, taking gangs down when he needs to but more often than not using them to try to keep the peace on the streets. While taking money, he still works to enforce the law. While he loves his family, he has no qualms about cheating on his wife.

When we last left Mackey, he had just come into possession of a load of blackmail material being used by Mexican gang members to pressure public officials. Facing losing his badge, Mackey now had an arsenal of weapons that should help him keep it.

If he can use it. His partner, councilman David Aceveda, his former captain who tried to get him fired, has forged an uneasy alliance between the two, and doesn't want to use the blackmail material.

Meanwhile, Mackey must deal with a renewed threat from the Armenian mob, from whom he and his strike team stole $2 million.

Having watched the first eight episodes of "The Shield's" final season, the producers are throwing in everything but the kitchen sink. Mackey and his partner, Ronnie (David Rees Snell), must deal with team member Shane (Walton Goggins), who killed the fourth member of their team.

Meanwhile, Mackey is continuing to have problems with his daughter, growing more rebellious by the day.

Other storylines include precinct Capt. Wyms (CCH Pounder) dealing with lupus; officer Danny Sofer (Catherine Dent) dealing with being a single mom after a fling with Vic; a detective (David Marciano) suing the precinct; and a federal agent (Laurie Holden), who might be playing both sides of the fence.

While consistently one of TV's best shows, "The Shield" has often been overlooked by the Emmys despite Chiklis winning Best Actor during the first season. Former guest star/cast members Glenn Close, Anthony Anderson and Forest Whitaker turned in fantastic performances that were ignored by the Academy. The turns by regulars such as Goggins and Pounder have been equally overlooked.

The fact is, "The Shield" is still one of TV's top 10 programs, essentially "The Sopranos" told from the law & order point of view.

Fans of the series will be happy to learn that the quality that was present during the first six seasons is there in abundance during the final year.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: I don't think a single new show has been as hyped as much as the next generation of "Beverly Hills, 90210" (CW, 8 p.m.) I was never a fan of the original, and to me it's only noteworthy because it's being produced by Rob Thomas ("Veronica Mars"). I'd love to be able to tell you it's worth the hype, but the CW refused to send out screeners to the critics, which tends to be a bad sign. On the bright side, in keeping with the CW tradition, everybody on the show seems to be really, really pretty.

"House" (Fox, 8 p.m.) repeats last season's stellar two-hour season finale, as House (Hugh Laurie) himself is the mystery - after hitting his head during a bus crash, he can't remember why he was meeting Wilson's girlfriend Cutthroat Bitch at a bar. Though some criticized the show as being uneven last season, the finale was definitely one of the high points.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Welcome To The New Stuff

It's appropriate that with Labor Day marking the end of summer and the beginning of fall, several new and returning shows are hitting the air tonight.

Perhaps the most intriguing is "Raising the Bar," (TNT, 10 p.m.), which will be taking over "Saving Grace's" timeslot for a few weeks.

It stars Mark-Paul Gosselar ("NYPD Blue") as a public defender and Gloria Reuben ("ER") as his boss. Jane Kaczmarek ("Malcolm In The Middle") plays a judge.

The series was created by Steven Bochco, who has produced some of the great TV of our time ("NYPD Blue," "Hill Street Blues") as well as some of the most forgettable ("Cop Rock"). Where will "Raising The Bar" fall on the Bochco scale? Early reviews have been mixed, so we'll wait and see.

COMING TUESDAY: The Telegraph's Charles E. Richardson reunites with Kenny Burgamy for the debut of the "Kenny B. and Charles E. Show" on WPGA-FM 100.9 from 6 a.m.-9 a.m., with the first hour of the show being aired live on WPGA-TV.

The talk show will provide a contrast to WMAC-AM 940's recently debuted talk radio program, hosted by Chris Krok.

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: I gave up on "Prison Break" (Fox, 8 p.m.) at the beginning of last season as the show went ridiculous beyond even its own standards, but evidently someone is still watching it, so he or she will be up for tonight's two-hour debut. I'm still wondering how they will explain away how Michael's decapitated girlfriend is back to being a series regular.

A new "Saving Grace" (TNT, 9 p.m.) leads into "Raising The Bar."

To give equal time, I should note that the Republican National Convention kicks off tonight. You can catch the action at 8 p.m. on PBS and cable, or the key speeches at 10 p.m. on the networks.

Check last week's postings for "Reel Fanatic's" review of the season premiere of "Gossip Girl" (CW, 8 p.m.), followed by the season premiere of "One Tree Hill" (CW, 9 p.m.) as the network looks to get out of the gates early.

Finally, CNBC didn't do a good job of promoting it when it debuted last week, but "The Apprentice UK" (CNBC, 8 p.m.) airs its second episode as contestants face off for the opportunity to get a job with British tycoon Sir Alan Sugar. If you want a better version of "The Apprentice" franchise, check out the BBC America series "Dragon's Den" on Thursdays, in which would-be entrepreneurs seek backing for their projects from five UK millionaires. It's a much more interesting format than the artificial tasks contestants are given on "The Apprentice."