Entries in Drama (2)

Tuesday
Dec202011

HBO Cancels Three Fun Comedies, Keeps Awful, Unbearable 'Enlightened'; Ugh

 

REVIEWING THE NEWS: Bored to Death, Hung and How to Make It in America get the axe, while the pretentious, inane, low-rated Enlightened gets a second season. HBO, thou hast betrayed us.

By Kenny Herzog

Ugh, another season of dealing with TV's least likeable lead character. (Credit: Prashant Gupta/HBO)

It was inevitable that Bored to Death would be canceled. It was more shocking that HBO gave the always refreshing noir-buddy-comedy three full seasons. I'd made my peace with it, and the recent finale felt adequate for both its fall- and series-runs. Hung and How to Make It in America were harder to see coming. (Full disclosure: I'd reviewed How to Make It this past season for another outlet.) Enterting their potential fourth and third seasons, respectively, both had made tremendous creative strides and found their voice. The dips in ratings were all but a sure thing (both shows are low-key and have a steady but modest audience), so it's unclear why the network even allowed them to carry on through 2011 if the chopping block were looming. 

Meanwhile, Enlightened, which I'd shared my disappointment with several weeks ago, and which failed to impress me as it went along or surpass any of the aforementioned three comedies in the Nielsens, has been granted another shot in 2012. Not that I expect the world's foremost premium-cable provider to accomodate my subjective viewing habits, but this decision reeks less of commercial imperative than a decision to move back toward "prestige" programming.

Bored to Death is perhaps exceptional in all this. One of its stars (Ted Danson) has moved on to a full-time gig with CSI, another (Zach Galifianakis) is now a bankable film lead and, objectively, the original premise and characters' chemistry could only be stretched so thin without feeling dull. Hung and How to Make It, on the other hand, were just fomenting, but were also the source of presumptuous ridicule from network subscribers and critics who seemed intent on abolishing the airwaves of two shows that, god forbid, aimed to entertain the mainstream with something light and timely. Both series, at their essence, were comedies about friendship, trust and making the best out of bad times. Not, as naysayers would protest, just big dicks and fashion.

The first 10 half-hours of Enlightened, Laura Dern and Mike White's overly earnest meditation on the everyday fuck-up's pursuit of Zen happiness, were more explicit about their search for some kind of mushy, inspiring meaning to the big whatever. The price of admission? Shadowing Dern's deeply unpleasant, shallow, emotionally retarded airhead Amy as she vapidly crusaded and tritely voice-overed her way from stepped-on corporate drone to New Age savior of the environment, her strung out ex-husband (Luke Wilson) and her own intellectual and spiritual bankruptcy. 

Sound fun? Not really. But with Showtime and AMC nipping at HBO's heels for an air of legitimacy in original programming, and a new wave of Home Box Office's own dramas (Luck et al) around the corner, Enlightened suits a certain elite image more aptly than dicks and fashion. Even if most of us would rather watch 30 minutes of the latter than endure one more second of Amy and Enlightened's precious, humorless existential masterbation. 

 

IN OTHER WORDS: It's most definitely not TV, HBO.

BYE BYE TO BORED TO DEATH, HUNG AND HOW TO MAKE IT IN AMERICA: 2/10

ENLIGHTENED'S RETURN MEANING ONE LESS SHOW WE NEED TO DVR: Bright Side/10

WHEN'S TRUE BLOOD BACK AGAIN? Critic-Proof/10

 

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Wednesday
Dec142011

Chris Meloni on 'True Blood' = Best News Ever

  

REVIEWING THE TV-CASTING NEWS: Law & Order: SVU and Oz alum Chris Meloni has officially joined True Blood for Season 5, and all is well with the underworld.

 

By Kenny Herzog
Chris Meloni: From doing life to busting people for life to coming back to life. (Credit: HBO)

 

Hard as it is to believe, we here at REVIEWniverse occasionally contribute our editorial wiles to other media. Just last week, I'd helped report on breaking gossip for MSN TV concerning recent Law & Order: SVU defector Chris Meloni, and the possibility of him landing a featured role on the upcoming fifth season of HBO's True Blood.

 

Today, that rumor has become fact, and consequently, the most exciting news to hit Bon Temps since recreational V first rolled into town. Show creator Alan Ball has confirmed to TV Line (and True Blood's Twitter feed has dually validated the story) that Meloni will come on board as a powerful vampire capable of lording over both Bill and Eric.

 

Much as we all loved Denis O'Hare as aggro-pervert Russell, and Evan Rachel Wood as the now-deposed vamp queen, it doesn't get much better far as seductive, sinister badasses than Meloni. Anyone who watched HBO's brutal prison psychodrama Oz during its late-'90s-early 2000s run and remembers the actor's depitction of homicidal loon/perpetually nude sexual predator Chris Keller would agree:

 

 

IN OTHER WORDS: If Meloni's TB character is ostensibly a cross between Keller and his inspired Freakshow from Harold & Kumar, it could be the greatest casting ever.

CHRIS MELONI RATING: 9/10

CHRIS MELONI ON TRUE BLOOD RATING: 9.5/10

TRUE BLOOD'S RETURN MEANING IT WILL BE SUMMER AGAIN RATING: 10/10

 

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