Summer 2010 TV Preview: What to Watch
All right people, pull yourselves up by your bootstraps. “Lost” is over, and it’s never coming back. Ever. You’re all going to happy lives without “Lost.” The best part is – you’re never going to get as “Lost” as they did! Hooray for you! And even if you did, you have six seasons of knowledge under your belt on how to purify water and kill genetically engineered polar bears. You’re set.
You’re also set because there’s a bunch of other good shows you can start watching this summer. We've rounded up a few series we think are emblematic of the season, based on their addictive and dramatic qualities. Some are new shows that are fresher and cleaner than a poolside Mojito, while others are the oldies we know we'd gladly sacrifice a day on the beach to stay inside and catch up on what we've missed. Let's put it this way -- summer is cause for outdoor celebration. But when that inevitably rainy day (or twister) comes, you'll be good to go if you set your DVR to record any one of these bad boys.
The Bachelorette (ABC, May 24th, 9PM)
This year, “Bachelor” Jake Pavelka-reject and Facebook employee Ali Fedotowsky will fight her way through swarms of eligible suitors on horseback and in hot tubs to find her one true love in the show’s sixth season. If you’ve never seen the show, it’s often so blissfully entertaining because at home, you immediately recognize the concrete flaws in the personalities of these people, yet the Bachelor (or in this case Ali) seems reluctant to name the flaws and eliminate the person with them. It’s a lot of screaming, stupidly romantic phrases, and unnaturally pretty lighting. If you’re looking to make friends with your lady coworkers, watch this show and you’ll have loads to talk about. But if you don’t have a job, your mother’s right in telling you you have better things to do than wait to see which set of washboard abs Ali chooses.
Losing it with Jillian (NBC, June 1st, 10PM)
One of the hard-bodied trainers from “The Biggest Loser,” Jillian Michaels, will be traveling the country and shacking up with families in an attempt to get them to clean out their peanut butter-stocked pantries, improve their health and lose weight. If you’ve seen her on “The Biggest Loser,” you know she’s been branded as a firm believer in “tough love” by making contestants pull her across the floor of the gym or use her in place of a barbell. Usually the contestants lose the weight (because they’re afraid of her), but it’ll be interesting to see how well Jillian’s hard-bodied mantras will hold up when she becomes attached to the families she’ll be working with.
Hell’s Kitchen (FOX, June 1st)
Almost everyone loves a cooking show, for one of two reasons: they’re hungry, or because they’re amazed with how the chefs can withstand the pressure of a dining room consisting of 100+ hungry/angry/cheap people. Chefs teach us lessons in assessing demands and managing them, which is terribly exciting for those of us who aren’t day traders. But by the standards of food show aficionados, Gordon Ramsey is not a “chef.” He’s a killer on steroids who can wake up one random morning and realize he wants to run in a triathlon. He can also make grown, educated, and muscular men weep with embarrassment and insecurity, which makes him the most badass food professional on TV. And in his kitchen (aptly called “Hell’s Kitchen”), two teams compete in different cooking challenges in hopes of winning their own restaurant. It’s a battle of sliced fingers, undercooked pasta, a perpetually dissatisfied cook each week, and very few intact egos. Which, let’s face it, makes us feel better about ourselves.
True Blood (HBO, June 13th, 9PM)
Like vampires, but want to go without the teen angst and transforming werewolves of “Twilight”? You’re not alone. For two seasons now, many of us have been enjoying this vampire-crazed world we’re living in by watching this bloody, sexy, magnet of a show. Based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries novel series by Charlaine Harris, the show follows the relationships between vampires and humans in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. More specifically, the show explores the often push-and-pull, “Romeo and Juliet”-esque of a relationship between human Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) and vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer). Since this will be the show’s third season, you should consider watching the first two seasons in the next month or so but even if you don’t get around to that, tune in on June 13th to see what’s with all the hype about fangs.
Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami (E!, June 13th, 10PM)
I know what you’re thinking: didn’t Kourtney and Khloe already "take" Miami? Indeed they did, but apparently they didn’t do it right because they’ve gone back to the home of the beaches and bodies to film a second season of the show. I don’t care who you are (a graduate student in physics, a tax lawyer, or Donald Trump’s personal architect), watching these two Kardashians eat a mundane meal on a Sunday night is addicting and joyfully entertaining. Last season, they covered so much ground (with Khloe bringing a vial of cocaine to her radio personality job and getting married to Lamar Odom, and Kourtney dabbling in lesbianism and having a baby boy with her unfortunate boyfriend, Scott) that it’s hard to imagine where their long dark tresses will go during this stint in Miami. But this season of "Kourtney and Khloe" will undoubtedly have even more family drama. It remains to be seen, however, if the new men in the girls’ lives will make them realize that Miami isn’t necessarily theirs for the taking.
The Real L Word (Showtime, June 20th, 10PM)
“The Real L Word” (based on the idea of Showtime’s scripted show, “The L Word”) follows six high-profile lesbians living on the west coast as they live playful, yet hardworking lives. The preview makes it seem a little “Discovery Channel” from the way it peeks into the world of women who date women with such caution, like a camera crew would observe a pack of lions in an African plain. But that doesn’t mean people won’t watch it. In fact, people will watch it because it takes two great things and mashes them together: reality shows and lesbianism. Though not entirely new to reality tv (“Work Out” followed fitness trainer Jackie Warner as she ran her own gym and struggled to make things work with her girlfriend), the idea of a show about lesbians being lesbians is intriguing, and viewers are sure to get hooked after just one episode of gay bar hopping, shopping, and getting tattoos. Of course there isn’t much difference between how lesbians and non-lesbians live their lives, and the producers will have done their job if they can recognize that while still keeping the show’s premise intact.
(HBO, June 27th, 9PM)
Entourage has been hitting the mark for years now (six, to be exact), and again, if you’re not watching it, you might as well be living in the Mesozoic era, without any of your most expensive and enjoyable possessions. The show is the brainchild of Mark “Marky Mark” Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson, with the premise of a young A-list celeb making it in Hollywood and bringing his childhood friends from Queens along on the journey. Entourage is big with the guys of the universe because it nails that “male camaraderie” thing that women hear a lot about but don’t seem to understand. So grab your summer girlfriend, plop her down on the couch with some Mallomars and in combination with a Venn diagram, explain to her the art of living by the “bros before hoes” mantra.
(HBO, July 25th, 10PM)
If you’re not watching “Mad Men,” you’re spitting on your mother’s history, not to mention all the time and effort your 8th grade history teacher spent teaching you about the 60s. This is one of the best shows on television right now, and I command you to stop thinking you’re too good for it, because you’re not. Revolving around an advertising agency on Madison Avenue, the show’s packed with tension, extramarital affairs, 10 AM glasses of rum and so many suits with handkerchiefs that you’ll wake up one morning at your local AT&T, demanding someone help you trade in your iPhone for a pack of Lucky Strikes. Of course, the good people at AT&T won’t help you on your quest, but it just proves how life changing this Matthew Weiner-created gem is. So grow a backbone and give this show a shot. I promise you won’t regret it. (That’s right! I INTERNET promised! Those are the most serious kind!)
(MTV, July 29th, 10PM)
You can’t enjoy summer without fist-pumps to house music and artificial tans, y’all! This reality show/documentary, about eight “people” living in a house on the Jersey shore nestled its way into our hearts and altered our existences last year when it premiered, like a fungus or a mutant strain of TB – but it’s like a form of TB that makes you stronger by killing you. This year, “The Situation,” Snooki, J-Woww, Sammi, Vinny, Pauly D, Angelina and Ronnie start wreaking their havoc on the beaches of Miami, but then they triumphantly return to their old stomping grounds in Seaside Heights. So even if you haven’t got any great trips lined up this summer and you’ll spend most of your time trying to cope with your boss’ outrageous opera playlists, you can still have a great summer if you check out the situation down at the shore. It only takes one episode to feel like you’ve got sand in your cracks and tequila in your eyes -- and it’ll sting so much you won’t even feel the need to go to the Hamptons for a weekend.
The Big C
(Showtime, August 16th, 10:30PM)
“The Big C” captured our interest a few months ago when we saw the trailer starring Laura Linney, Oliver Platt, and Gabourey Sidibe, and we found ourselves convinced this would be the show that dared to make cancer seem a little bit funny. Linney plays a suburban mom whose diagnosis of cancer makes her start living a life of excitement, humor, and doing exactly what she feels like doing. It looks like a very “grab life by the horns” type of show, which is nice because up until now our TV guides have largely been absent of them. But our intrigue with this show rests on the fact it seems to perfectly balance life’s comedy with life’s tragedy…which is why we have high hopes this first season is well received, and leads to a second, third, fourth and fifth.
Weeds (Showtime, August 16th, 10PM)
Even if your life is complicated, it’s not an iota as complicated as that of suburban pot dealer Nancy Botwin (sorry, but anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you to get in your pants). In the past five seasons of the show, we’ve seen her get tangled up with gangsters, mobsters, drive-bys, wildfires and nudie pictures hidden in old books -- not to mention crossing the Mexican border numerous times. It’s hard to imagine what other trouble she can get herself into because it seems like everything’s been done before, but once we dive head-on into the sixth season, we’re sure to watch in awe -- but not surprise -- as Nancy fearlessly continues to break laws and let her children find work for themselves in what has become the “family business.”
Some comedies fail because of poor execution their humor somehow lost in the transition from script to screen. Others like the Jennifer Aniston/Gerard Butler rom-com The Bounty Hunter are doomed from the outset lacking even the potential to be funny even in the best of circumstances. If you substituted Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in the lead roles and screened the film in a theater pumped full of nitrous oxide you would still hear nary a laugh emitted from the audience.
Continuing his tragic post-300 freefall Butler plays Milo a scruffy irascible cop-turned-bounty hunter with a pile of debt and a mounting drinking problem. The source of his troubles we learn is his pugnacious ex-wife Nicole (Aniston) a hot-shot investigative journalist who walked out on him a little less than a year ago. On the trail of a potentially explosive news story career-obsessed Nicole unwisely opts to skip a bail hearing relating to her accidental injuring of a police horse some months prior. When the fed-up judge declares her a fugitive a still-resentful Milo is only too happy to bring her to justice. Nicole unsurprisingly refuses to go quietly.
Aniston and Butler are both charismatic enough to form a decent screwball rapport (though Butler increasingly speaks as if his mouth is stuffed with peanut butter) but neither possesses the comic chops necessary to extract lemonade from the rancid lemons of The Bounty Hunter’s lifeless script which might as well have been sketched on a bar napkin the night before the shoot for all its imagination. Not helping matters is veteran rom-com director Andy Tennant (Fool’s Gold Hitch) whose most significant contribution is a handful of wacky chase sequences borrowed straight from Benny Hill (They leave one side of the screen then return on the other! Whoa!) set to the nu-metal equivalent of Yakety Sax.
This appallingly unfunny rom-com is a crime against comedy. Lock it up and throw away the key.
Cybill Shepherd, actress, model, spokeswoman, is giving new meaning to the term "tell-all." In her new Jerry Springer-style confessional, "Cybill Disobedience: How I Survived Beauty Pageants, Elvis, Sex, Bruce Willis, Lies, Marriage, Motherhood, Hollywood and the Irrepressible Urge to Say What I Think" (in stores today), the outspoken actress/model lives up (or down) to her rep.
To save inquiring readers the time of sifting through the tome's 294 pages, we've poured over the manuscript ourselves and highlighted the more lubricious moments below for quick reference and easy access. (Indexed by their corresponding page numbers, but of course):
Pgs. 43-44: Scene of deflowering with a Mick Jagger lookalike mop top named Mike at the nubile age of 15. Writes Shepherd of the experience: "I felt oddly detached from my first time, as if it were more a rite of initiation to be crossed off a list than a sexual epiphany." Scale of raciness: Low. Neither her age nor her subsequent disappointment in her first sexual experience constitutes any kind of revelatory surprise in this day.
Pgs. 47-48: A short (and essentially platonic) fling with upstanding Ivy Leaguer Joseph Graham Davis. Nicknamed Gray, the-then Columbia law student would go on to become the sitting governor of California, known as Gray Davis. Scale of raciness: High. Even though they never "did it," bedroom tales that involve a political figure still make for some jaw-dropping stuff. We put a call into Davis' office for comment, but they never got back to us. An oversight, we're sure.
Pgs. 49-50: A tepid account of two other trysts with college-age maletypes who were not and have never been famous or powerful. Scale of raciness: Low. Be warned, dear readers, this is the last sex-related entry until the fabled Bogdanovich affair some 30 pages later.
Pgs. 85-102: The aforementioned illicit affair with her "The Last Picture Show" mentor Peter Bogdanovich that began on, and outlasted, the film's shoot. Writes Shepherd of their first meeting: "The immediate attraction was so strong, I was flummoxed." Scale of raciness: Low. Despite the expository nature of the biography, this liaison is remembered with an exactitude and completeness that's strangely devoid of sexual details.
Pgs. 108-109: A rendezvous in 1972 with a pill-popping Elvis in his Graceland mansion where instead of "Love Me Tender," cunnilingus (yowza!) and an act of fellatio (hello!) were performed. Scale of raciness: High. Besides the innate humor in this whole scene, the incident also holds a mirror up to the somewhat sexist, peanut-butter-sandwich-chunking, drugged-up eccentric that the rock icon had become shortly before his death.
Pgs. 185-186: In the early 1980s, Shepherd came out of a post-divorce slump and had her first meaningful fling with "The Last Picture Show" co-writer and longtime friend Larry McMurtry. "Our friendship never faltered because we became sexual or because we stopped," writes Shepherd. Scale of raciness: Low. Frankly, not dramatic or titillating enough. And, anyway, does anyone even know (or care) who Larry McMurtry is? Pgs. 194-197: A menage-a-trois with two stuntmen subsequently known as "The Cybill Sandwich." This encounter is memorialized with an entire chapter -- dubbed, yes, "The Cybill Sandwich" -- and featuring excerpts such as: "'The Cybill Sandwich' turned out to be a positive sexual experience." Scale of raciness: Middling. Time's a changing -- a threesome just doesn't get the kind of head-shaking gasps that it used to.
Pgs. 203-204: The unconsummated sexual tension between her and co-star Bruce Willis on the set of "Moonlighting." Shepherd expounds, "[Bruce and I] never did finish what we started in private, but anytime we had a kissing scene, he stuck a big camel tongue halfway down my throat." Scale of raciness: Low. It would be infinitely more interesting if the Bruce Willis she was flirting with was the post-"Die Hard," Demi Moore-married mega-movie star.
Pgs. 214-215: A five-minute quickie with yet another one of her co-stars, this time Don Johnson, from the television movie "The Long Hot Summer." Scale of raciness: Middling. Yawn. The novelty is definitely wearing thin. We're just thankful that this is basically Shepherd's last conquest of the book. Besides, is it still news when somebody sleeps with Don Johnson?