Lone Star Debuts: The Week In TV

So much happened last week in TV Land that I took an extra day to think about it all for this wrap-up. That's not actually true, but the real answer's less interesting. Onward!

• The best news out of the past week was the announcement of the twin rallies hosted by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, which will take place in Washington, D.C., on October 30. Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity is a response to the fear-mongering tactics of extremists of all stripes, and it will be paired with Colbert's delicious March to Keep Fear Alive, in which he'll (I'm guessing) cartoonishly preach the virtue of marginalizing outsiders.

After the myriad misguided Tea Party rallies, not to mention Glenn Beck's call to a vaguely defined gospel that feels cribbed from Kirk Cameron movies, it's fantastic to see the country's leading political satirists teaming up to call bullshit on all the yelling and use smart humor to puncture swelling egos. Dig it:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Rally to Restore Sanity
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party
The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
March to Keep Fear Alive Announcement
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election Fox News

• TBS canceled My Boys last week, and as with the show itself, it's hard to feel too passionately about the news one way or the other. The series was often enjoyable, with some of the most entertaining and realistic group-of-guys banter on TV, and it always boasted a proudly low-key production quality. Yet too many of the bigger stories -- you know, the reason most people tune in -- were just plain uninteresting. You rooted for PJ's love life, but only in a vague sense of hoping she does well. It was a comedy in the How I Met Your Mother vein: cute enough to make you smile, but not always funny enough to bring out real laughs. It was harmless and light, if only occasionally memorable. At least we'll always have the douchebag intervention.

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• After months of leaving literally tens of people on edge, Jennifer Lopez has descended from her gilded throne to officially bestow her presence on American Idol as a judge. The deal's been in the offing for months now -- I could look up the links, but really, there's not much else to know -- but it didn't become legal until last week. The contract locks her in for a year and is reportedly for $12 million, proving that talent and compensation operate on a hellish curve past which no amount of mediocrity can negatively affect you. I'll be honest: I don't know yet if I'll be blogging about Idol this season. I got the very distinct feeling last year that watching one season is just as good as watching another, and the potential very likely train wreck that will be the new season doesn't feel worth the psychic energy. We'll see.

• Joaquin Phoenix is returning to David Letterman's Late Show on Wednesday night. It's his first trip back since February of 2009, when he went publicly bananas in the name of propping up the documentary he was making with director Casey Affleck about his decision to become a hip-hop star. To the surprise of no one -- honestly, no one -- the whole thing was one big hoax, a piece of performance art that felt like watching a bad YouTube clip for 18 months. The not-a-documentary, I'm Still Here, is currently in theaters.

 

• Did anybody else catch the pilot of Fox's Lone Star last night? Looks to be a decent enough primetime soap, though that's like saying "this punch in the face only knocked out two teeth." Written by creator Kyle Killen and directed by (500) Days of Summer helmer Marc Webb, the show centers on Bob Allen (James Wolk), a con artist posing as an oil and gas salesman who's splitting his life between two women, one in Midland and one in Houston. The episode was kind of a grab bag. It was ridiculously over-tracked (is that even a real phrase?), clogged almost end to end with pop songs that all sounded vaguely familiar but ultimately indistinguishable in what you could call the O.C. formula. Yet the cast was charming enough. Wolk's got a great energy and seems honestly torn about being a horrible duplicitous cheat, and it's nice to get to see Adrianne Palicki play her actual 27 instead of the 17 she tried to pass for when she was breaking Landry Clarke's heart back in Dillon. Yet the show's morality is definitely shady. When Bob is approached by a woman at a hotel bar, he doesn't sleep with her, and Killen wants this to make his other adulteries somehow less bad, but I'm not quite sure it works. Bob means well, but he's also fantastically deluded, and for the show to have any real punch, there will need to be some emotional distance between the creator and his golden boy. For now though, interesting idea, if not riveting.

• On deck for the rest of this week, you've got a lot of new and returning series starting their fall runs. Tonight (Tuesday), there's Glee on Fox, as well as Running Wilde.

Wednesday is the return of Modern Family, for which I'm still on the fence, and the premiere of J.J. Abrams' spies-in-love show Undercovers.

Thursday is the return of NBC's comedy block, minus Parks and Recreation and plus the awful-looking Outsourced. That night you also get My Generation, a drama about a high school class reuniting 10 years later. It's my high school class, too (2000), so I am prepared to be equal parts mortified and angry. Over on CBS Thursday is the premiere of Dollar Sign Pound Asterisk Exclamation Point My Dad Says, which looks to have about the depth of a 140-character tweet stretched out over 22 minutes.

There are, of course, many more new and returning shows, so have a look at this schedule to see what else is on.


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