Category Archives: Television

Entourage loves me

I finally saw Sunday’s season premiere of HBO’s Entourage last night. Previously on Entourage, Queens boy made good Vinnie Chase won critical acclaim for starring in an indie flick called “Queens Boulevard.” Now Vince’s brother, Johnny Drama, has landed a leading role in a new NBC drama from Valley Stream native Ed Burns, “Five Towns.”

Is Entourage going to name a fictional project after every place I’ve ever lived? Here are some other names the writers might want to use for new TV shows and movies, and why they should seriously consider them:

Sutton Place. I got my apartment in this Manhattan neighborhood through New York real-estate monolith and serial gentrifier The Corcoran Group. Entourage star Adrian Grenier’s mother sells real estate for The Corcoran Group. Ergo, Adrian Grenier’s mother has probably sold real estate in Sutton Place.

Evanston. I went to college here, but Entourage scene stealer and critical darling Jeremy Piven grew up in this Chicago-abutting suburb, where his parents spent decades running a prestigious theater program that produced the Cusacks, among others.

Atwater Village. Vince and his pals undoubtedly spend some time in the celebrity-infused L.A. neighborhood of Los Feliz. Atwater Village is right next door, but grittier, and they totally go for that.

Also eligible: Greenwich Village, That Neighborhood in Brooklyn Where I Lived Until Age 2 and My Parents Can’t Even Remember What It Was Called, Merrick, Atlantic Beach (Little-known fact: Sonny lived there in The Godfather!).

Melissa on dumb commercials

COMMERCIAL: What’s worse than roots?
MELISSA: Oh, I don’t know, getting raped in a park?

On enjoying an episode of The West Wing

Everybody always assumes I must love The West Wing, but the truth is I never gave it a second chance after being bored sick during an episode about passing a crime bill years ago. But live excitement is live excitement and presidential debates are presidential debates, so I gave it another try last night, and I liked it much better this time, even if some critics seem to have disagreed. I thought the mock debate was legitimately good drama, I liked the admittedly kinda silly “let’s have a real debate, with no rules” gambit, and I thought Alan Alda in particular did a virtuoso acting job. (Honorable mention, surprisingly, went to non-actor Forrest Sawyer as himself.)

Unfortunately for NBC, this was far from a typical episode, so it wasn’t enough to convince me to watch the show on a regular basis. But it was a very nice try.

Searching for news on the debate episode today, I see it’s engendered some controversy about the lines between news and entertainment being blurred. The broadcast looked a lot like a real news broadcast, complete with an NBC News chyron in the corner. I’m someone who normally thinks about such things, and honestly, it didn’t even occur to me while I was watching. This was drama about news — nobody ever pretended it was news itself. The NBC News logo and use of an actual journalist as moderator were devices to induce suspension of disbelief, not indications that this was an actual news production, and they were effective ones. The West Wing no more blurred the line than Spinal Tap did.

Too Late With Adam Carolla

Watching this train wreck of a late-night show on Comedy Central, two things come to mind:

1. A lousy stand-up comic completely bombing on stage at a second-rate club as two or three people titter embarrassingly in the audience. (Hey, I’ve been there.)

2. The Magic Hour.

Seriously, it’s just that bad, and in just the same way. How long before Comedy Central pulls the plug? I give it a couple of weeks. Nobody can possibly be watching this. Plus I think it’s been on for upwards of a month — these aborted non-jokes might be acceptable from a novice host in the first week of a new show, but Carolla’s grace period has long ended.

What Carolla needs to learn — and maybe he would, given some time he obviously doesn’t have — is that jokes have to be jokes. They can’t just be observations delivered in an incredulous tone.

This guy definitely needs a more-talented co-host to carry him. Unfortunately for viewers of this episode, Jackass’ Steve-O is not it.

Office romance

This is just to say that I have decided the funniest show on television is NBC’s The Office. I watched two episodes last night, and man, that’s some entertaining stuff. It seems way too good to be on NBC. I wondered why HBO didn’t pick up on it, but Jim suggested that maybe it’s not enough of an “original series” for their taste. The cast is all perfect, and Steve Carell seems to have toned it down from last season, when I thought he was a little too over the top. Rainn Wilson deserves a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Yes, I know it’s TV, but he deserves one anyway, even if he did appear in House of 1000 Corpses. John Krasinski as the lovestruck cynic is really growing on me, as is Jenna Fischer, the object of his attentions.

Seriously, why are you not watching this show?

That smarts

I was actually pretty sad to hear that Don Adams died, significantly more so than I would have thought if you’d asked me last week, “How would you feel if you heard Don Adams died?” And sadder still, he’s not going to live to see next year’s Get Smart revival, with the almighty Steve Carell in the big-screen version. “Missed it by that much,” you might say.