TV Junkie: Reviews of This Weekend's Premieres
The Weekend Edition
Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman star in AMC's "The Killing" which premieres Sunday at 9pm
Several huge production shows are airing this weekend, let's quickly review them.
"Chaos" - Tonight at 8pm on CBS - This is a pseudo comedy-drama about the CIA that we know nothing about as CBS, yet again, has yet to get us any screeners for the show. The one hands-down positive thing that we know is that Kurtwood Smith is in the cast and he is awesome.
"Camelot" - Tonight at 8:45pm on Starz. When I turned 13 in 1982, yes, I'm that goddam old, the most incredible thing that happened was a friend getting a Betamax copy of the rated-R version of Excalibur (1981). Watching this ornate fantasy film, complete with lots of broadsword fighting and various knights having fairly graphic sex while still wearing their armor, it was a year to remember. Starz' edition of the Arthurian legend immediately brought the 1981 film to mind. There's lots of bloody swordplay, but unfortunately, no sex while wearing armor. I did get to meet the lovely Tamsin Egerton who plays Guinevere (interview coming soon) who told us about some of the amazing locations the series was shot on, again in Ireland like Excalibur. The show is beautiful to watch and with many episodes to develop the characters, it could be a winner.
"The Killing" - Sunday at 9pm on AMC. This is the next new megaseries from AMC. In the dark, grey, wet Pacific Northwest, a girl's body is found. Everyone has secrets, from the parents who didn't report the girl missing, to a local political leader up for election, to one of the investigating officers. Every shot is atmospheric, as is the haunting music. Sound familiar? In many ways, AMC's "The Killing" is reminiscent of David Lynch's "Twin Peaks" but without one crucial facet: the surrealist sense of humor. This isn't mean to disparage the efforts - this is a great mystery and it simply looks amazing to boot. Shot in Seattle and Vancouver, the two episodes we watched could have been separate independent films. We talked with Joel Kinnaman who plays the investigating homicide detective, Stephen Holder, who told us that even though the first few episodes are stunning, the show builds to a fantastic momentum in the second half of the season. We can't wait. This show is definitely the Sunday winner.
"The Borgias" - Sunday at 9pm on Showtime. This historical drama by Neil Jordan has some incredible detail going for it, but I couldn't shake the feeling that this is becoming a formula for Showtime, think "The Tudors," etc.: ornate historical epics with one or two big name stars, Jeremy Irons (who I love) in this case, with lots of pointless sex scenes thrown in. I'd love to support everything Jeremy Irons does but "The Borgias" makes this difficult. Do we really need to see him mashing his grey pubes all over some young naked actress/model/whatever in every single episode? You could throw every single frame of that away and it wouldn't affect the plot at all. The 13 year old in me might leap at the chance to learn more about Pope Alexander VI because of those scenes but just about anyone with more maturity will start to find them boring after the 3rd, 4th, or 10th one. There is some good acting from what we've seen of the series and Jordan has appropriately tweaked the historical details sufficiently to emphasize the drama of the Renaissance era but faced with other options on Sunday, "The Borgias" is 2nd in line.
"Mildred Pierce" - Sundays at 9pm on HBO. Apologies for the late review of this but we didn't get a screener. Is Kate Winslet a committed actress? Absolutely. She does everything she can to make this extended soap opera/period miniseries work but halfway through the first episode, even her great performance couldn't keep our attention. As the ever-suffering, ever-put-upon title character, trying to support her family in (supposedly) Great Depression-era Los Angeles, Winslet fully embodies Mildred Pierce. But there's a reason why the 1954 adaptation of James Cain's novel starring Joan Crawford works: it's less than 2 hours long. There's only so much we can take of either Mildred Pierce or her ungrateful daughter Veda and to stretch a successful film of 111 minutes into a 5 part miniseries is asking too much of the audience. The setting of the story is supposed to be Southern California, with scenes taking place in Glendale, Pasadena, Hollywood, and Santa Barbara. For some reason the producers chose to shoot most of the series in New York so a lot of the series just didn't even ring true to this SoCal-bred boy. Also, for the show to be set during the Great Depression, everything was just way too shiny, bright, and well-kept to be believable either.
Our Big Moments This Week: Our Video Tour of LA with Comedian Bill Burr; Our Channel Zero Podcast with Tim Conway; Our Report From The Shorty Awards
The TV Junkie Must-Watch Plan: Tonight - "Real Time With Bill Maher," "Camelot," "The Soup" (The Annual Soup Awards), "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" (Actor Vin Diesel; actress Ashley Tisdale; Scissor Sisters perform), "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" (Former professional basketball player Magic Johnson; comedy troupe The Lonely Island; actor Joey Kola). Saturday - "Saturday Night Live" (Elton John). Sunday - "The Killing," "Body of Proof"
8:00pm Chaos CBS - Series Premiere. The CIA deputy director asks Rick Martinez to act as a mole in a team of unruly agents, then the team blackmails Rick into playing by its rules.
8:00pm Real Time With Bill Maher HBO - Author Randy Cohen; commentator Doug Heye; Sen. Bernie Sanders (Ind-Vt.); filmmaker Julian Schnabel; Special Olympics CEO Tim Shriver.
8:45pm Camelot Starz - Series Premiere.
9:00pm The Ricky Gervais Show HBO - Karl shares his thoughts about the two sides of the brain and sixth sense; Karl's diary reveals the story of how his mother asked him to track down a magazine about UFOs.
10:00pm The Soup E! - The Soup Awards Honoring the most-unintentionally funny people and moments in pop culture.
10:00pm Merlin Syfy - Arthur and Merlin retrieve a magic artifact and are then captured by a slave trader named Jarl; Gwaine rescues Arthur and Merlin
10:00pm Blue Bloods CBS - After Danny witnesses a murder, a member of his family is put in jeopardy in an attempt to stop him from testifying.
11:35pm Late Show With David Letterman CBS - Actor James Franco; Royal Bangs performs.
11:35pm The Tonight Show With Jay Leno NBC - Actor Vin Diesel; actress Ashley Tisdale; Scissor Sisters perform.
12:35am The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson CBS - Actor Paul Giamatti; actress Casey Wilson.
12:35am Late Night With Jimmy Fallon NBC - Former professional basketball player Magic Johnson; comedy troupe The Lonely Island; actor Joey Kola.
10:00pm The Stash PlayboyTV - Roasting all things naughty
11:25pm Saturday Night Live NBC - Elton John hosts and performs; Leon Russell also performs.
8:00pm The 46th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards CBS - Reba McEntire and Blake Shelton host the annual ceremony honoring achievement in country music at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas; performers include Rihanna, Jennifer Nettles, Eric Church, The Band Perry, Randy Houser, Little Big Town and more.
9:00pm Desperate Housewives ABC - Paul stands in the way of Susan receiving a kidney transplant; Tom passes up a lucrative job
9:00pm The Killing AMC - Series Premiere. Pilot; The Cage On her last day of work, homicide detective Sarah Linden is drawn into a new case; Sarah and Holder question a missing girl's parents, as well as her friends and a city councilman.
9:00pm Mildred Pierce HBO - Part Three In the wake of a tragedy, Mildred moves forward with preparations for her restaurant; Mildred hires a new piano teacher for Veda; Mildred faces off with Monty on New Year's Eve.
9:00pm The Borgias Showtime - Series Premiere. The Poisoned Chalice: The Assassin Rodrigo Borgia schemes his way into becoming pope and elevates his sons into high offices.
10:00pm Body of Proof ABC - When an interracial couple are found dead in their car, Megan's team finds evidence that sends the investigation in a shocking direction; Peter tells Megan to take it easy with Lacey.
11:00pm After Lately E! - Brad fires Chelsea's favorite cleaning lady.