Hello Friends and Fellow TV Fans,
As of today, THE SURF REPORT is resuming as an email newsletter and blog. I’ve missed blogging and talking about TV with you and now that I’m a free agent again, I’ll be here to give you a heads up about the new fall season, as well as my usual adventures around town. I hope you’re as happy to see THE SURF REPORT again as I am to write it. Let’s jump right in.
This week: THE CLOSER finished its seven season run Monday and MAJOR CRIMES premiered starring most of THE CLOSER’s cast, with Mary McDonnell at the center of the show. Both showed attracted a ton of viewers; THE CLOSER got about 9 million viewers, MAJOR CRIMES got around 7 million viewers which is very strong. Also Monday, NBC rolled out a new reality competition show from Mark Burnett, STARS EARN STRIPES, followed by the early season premiere of GRIMM.
Here’s what I’ve been watching recently; my summer TV is monopolized by FX, USA, AMC with a splash of Bravo’s REAL HOUSEWIVES for spice.
POLITICAL ANIMALS: The season finale of this six-episode miniseries airs this Sunday. I’ve loved every episode and I watched my screener of the season closer today. I think there was some confusion when the series premiered about whether it was Greg Berlanti’s attempt to do a WEST WING-type show. In reality, the show is a well-crafted melodrama that takes place in D.C. politics and media. The entire cast is very strong, led by Sigourney Weaver as Secretary of State Elaine Barrish, Carla Gugino as reporter Susan Berg, James Wolk as Barrish’s ambitious, eldest son Douglas and Sebastian Stan (calling all KINGS fans!) as T.J., the family’s troubled, drug-addicted son who came out publicly when he was a teenager living in the White House when his father was president. Ellen Burstyn gets to be feisty and say “you little s–t” to a lot of people as Elaine’s mother Margaret. Finally, there’s Ciaran Hinds as Elaine’s ex-husband, former President Bud Barrish (think Bill Clinton). Hinds is a great actor but his southern accent left much to be desired. Happily, he tones it down in the season closer and the character is far more effective without the exaggerated southern drawl. What I love about this show and why I hope USA orders more episodes: the Bud / Elaine relationship is adult, contradictory, often contentious and combative yet I understand why they were attracted to each other and why their political ambitions complement each other, even after they’ve divorced. If you haven’t caught all six episodes, click over to Hulu.com and catch up: http://www.hulu.com/search?query=Political+Animals&st=0&fs=
SUITS: Talk about a show that exceeded my expectations – SUITS has become a far sharper, better written show in its second season. Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) and Mike Ross (Patrick Adams) not only banter well together based on their favorite movies and music, but Mike has picked up some of Harvey’s cutthroat habits with alarming ease. This season was really the season of Donna, Harvey’s all-knowing assistant, and special mention must be made of Sarah Rafferty’s performance as Donna, because she too suffered because of a decision she made as Harvey’s right-hand gal. The season is winding down now — there are two episodes left to air including tonight’s episode, and the good news is that it seems the Donna matter is not a done deal. The first four episodes of season two are on USA Networks site for easy viewing.
WHITE COLLAR: I’ve been touched by Neal Caffrey’s devotion to Peter and his efforts to adhere to the Feds’ rule book in his job. Like Peter, I’m not sure I completely buy Neal’s new attitude but I’m really enjoying the line between, “Is he sincere or is there a bigger con going on?” Could Neal really be trying to con Peter and to what end? Still loving Mozzie and really love how the writers have incorporated him into all the capers this season. Also, Rebecca Mader and Matt Bomer have great onscreen chemistry; maybe the show needs another thief to join the team? Mader is a plus whenever she turns up onscreen.
AWKWARD: I will stress to you again that AWKWARD is not just for teenagers. The writing remains smart, sophisticated and world-weary witty. Lead actress Ashley Rickards will impress you with her subtle, never-false performance as Jenna. Brett Davern as Jake and Beau Mirchoff as Matty are every bit Rickards’ equal in the acting department as their characters have progressed and there’s so much subtext since both Jake and Matty have dated Jenna. Tune in Thursdays at 1030pm on MTV.
LOUIE: This season has had a lot more sadness than last season. Not that I mind, I will follow Louis C.K. wherever he goes. I still can’t forget Melissa Leo’s outrageously bold performance as a woman Louie was fixed up with and wound up on a crazy date with. Robin Williams also did a nice guest turn as a mutual acquaintance of a deceased relative of Louie’s. And Parker Posey was a standout as one of Louie’s romantic interests. This show is a must every Thursday night on FX.
ROYAL PAINS: After my relief that Evan and Hank made up, I’m enjoying the oddness of Dr. Secani (Ben Schenkman) and that Boris tried to include Hank in his shadowy life. I think I prefer Hank as the friendly Hamptons concierge doctor who’s part MacGyver, but I’ve watched RP from the start so I’m happy to follow where they lead. Also a plus: Evan and Paige are still together and Type A Paige is now helping Evan run HankMed; very sweet and practical.
BREAKING BAD: More about this in tomorrow’s Surf Report.
THE NEWSROOM: More about this in tomorrow’s Surf Report. The show has improved and last Sunday’s episode was my favorite to date.
TRUE BLOOD: The show is still all over the place and has moments of fun, but it’s no longer a must for me. I’m far more interested in THE NEWSROOM.
I haven’t sampled the new TLC HONEY BOO BOO show yet because I’m not a TODDLERS AND TIARAS fan to start with and this little gal and her family seem especially white trashy. I’ll have to give in and take a look at some point but I’m not there yet.
IT’S SHARK WEEK! Discovery’s Shark Week started Sunday which means lots of shark-related shows, both informative and scary.
I’ve watched some episodes of CHOPPED on the Food Network and now understand why some of my friends are into the show. I still prefer TOP CHEF MASTERS on Bravo but I get the appeal of CHOPPED too.
FX: new episodes of WILFRED, LOUIE, TOTALLY BIASED WITH W. KAMAU BELL – Rachel Maddow is Bell’s guest.
USA: 10pm: SUITS
MTV: 1030pm: AWKWARD
Early heads up for Friday: REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER returns at 10pm on HBO. Just in time for election run-up fun and games. I’m really looking forward to his take on the Romney/Ryan ticket.
Tell me: what have you been watching this summer? BIG BROTHER? PROJECT RUNWAY? Are you watching more reality shows than scripted?
Also: I’m planning to talk about web series because I’m starting to watch more of those and want to make sure you know about the good ones.
Reminder: if you use twitter, follow me @thesurfreport.
That’s a wrap for now.