Wednesday, September 29, 2010


FOX' "LONE STAR" has ridden off into the sunset. The low-rated drama had the dubious distinction of being the first show cancelled in the 2010-11 television season after only two episodes.

The show was about a roguish Texas hustler juggling two families while wheelin' & dealin' at a big oil company [think modern-day "Dallas"].

"Lone Star" had gotten mixed to good reviews, with TV Guide's Matt Roush telling an NPR audience that it was one of the show's to watch this season.

However, Fox executives didn't do the show any favors with its time slot: Mondays at 9 pm. This put it against two well-established ratings juggernauts: CBS' "Two and a Half Men" and ABC's "Dancing with the Stars". Good luck with that.

Further slicing up the ratings pie were NBC's ultra-hyped "The Event" and ESPN's "Monday Night Football".

Poor promotion and a highly competitive time slot were too much for a new series to overcome.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

HAWAII FIVE-0 **** 4 stars (out of 5)

HAWAII FIVE-O; CBS, Mondays 10 pm
Alex O'Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park

Couch Potato Cop is a traditionalist. I bristled when baseball adopted the Wild Card, realignment and inter-league play.

I prefer Classic Coke to New Coke.

When there's a remake of a classic TV or movie franchise, I almost always like the original better, almost on principal.

So I was ready to hate on the "Hawaii Five-O" reboot.

But I'm here to testify that the "HFO" pilot rocked.

Written by the folks who re-imagined the "Star Trek" mythos in the 2009 film, "HFO" is unrecognizable from the Jack Lord original that ran from 1968-80 and 279 episodes. The only things you'll recognize are the iconic theme song [played twice] and the characters' names.

"HFO" soars over the numerous other cop shows on the TV landscape with over-the-top action sequences that look more cinematic than small-screen. CBS broke the bank with an opening hostage-exchange gone bad set in South Korea [but also filmed in Hawaii] complete with state-of-the-art army tanks, black hawks and paratroopers.

The pilot breathes freshness in the time-weathered cliche of the newly partnered cops who can't stand each other but learn to respect each other. Alex O'Loughlin [McGarrett] has kicked around in a number of failed shows ["Three Rivers", "Moonlight"], but he's poised for stardom here. Scott Caan's Danno is a roguish New Jerseyite who moves to the rock to be closer to his young daughter.

Some might chafe at the notion of McGarrett & Danno being relative equals in this reboot--after all, Jack Lord was the man. But just go with it.

Daniel Dae Kim is Chin Ho Kelly, an ex-cop forced to resign under pressure after being falsely accused of taking a bribe. Few people know the island the way Kelly does, so McGarrett offers him his shield and a chance of redemption.

Side note: actor Daniel Dae Kim just spent 6 years in Hawaii filming "Lost". The guy literally can't get off the island.

Rounding out the cast is Grace Park, a tough and sassy rookie cop who could have been a champion surfer if it weren't for a knee injury.

Hawaii Five-O opened huge, with 14 million viewers for the pilot.

Those traditionalists who pine for the beloved original can take solace with a Netflix membership and the occasional marathon on Spike TV.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Thursdays @ 10 pm

Man, times are tough. I hear Johnson & Johnson just laid off a Johnson [rim shot].

The tough economic times are reflected in the new season of "The Apprentice", in which most of the contestants are either unemployed or working in jobs they can't stand.

Welcome to the first non-celebrity edition of "The Apprentice" in 3 years.

And just when we thought that we had our fill of The Donald & Co., the new season's pilot is chock-filled with enough conflict & hissy fits to keep us coming back.

The bad economy gives the reality show an added urgency; some of these contestants' lives are on the brink. But here's some bad math: 15 of the 16 will be fired.

In the pilot, among the first contestants we meet is David, an unemployed Sales Rep from Michigan. We really wanted to feel bad for him when we learned that he has 5 kids to support. And then his wife leaves him after he loses his job. David tells The Donald in the boardroom that one reason he wants to win The Apprentice is so that he could put his family back together. Cue violins.

But we quickly learn that dude has an anger management issue. Big time. David shocks his teammates by instigating two separate and silly confrontations. Things almost got physical, but don't worry, the season is still young.

Mahsa, an ADA in Brooklyn, is shaping up to be the Omorosa of the group. On the NBC website, she issues this challenge: "Bring it on, ladies. And yes, I'm referring to the male contestants as well." ooooooh

Mahsa challenges her Project Manager from the get-go and seems to relish in confrontations.
Even Ivanka was taken aback by Mahsa's aggression. Can't wait to see her lock horns with David.

Then there's Nicole, an unempolyed lawyer who was a runner-up in the Miss California USA pageant. Pretty but passive, Nicole was like a lamb being led to the slaughter in the boardroom.

The one notable thing about this season is how quickly things have turned nasty. There was no usual "feeling out" period. Hey, it took Joan Rivers and Annie Duke a good 6 or 7 episodes before their feud got festering.

Fans of "The Apprentice" can rest assured that the show still has the same zip. Uber producer Mark Burnett can edit footage from a State Fair pie-eating contest and turn it into a watchable hour of television.

The celebrity edition returns in the spring.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Two and a Half Men -- Season 8 Preview

Two and a Half Men; CBS Mondays, 9 pm

Charlie Sheen, Jon Cryer, Angus T. Jones, Jennifer Taylor, Holland Taylor

Season Premiere: September 20

WHERE WE LEFT OFF: Charlie's hope of reconciling with Chelsea crashes and burns when he's arrested for DUI. He's sentenced to community service picking up trash. Meanwhile, Alan entered a relationship with a frazzled single mom Lyndsey (Courtney Thorne-Smith), whose son happens to be a schoolmate of Jake's.

It's hard to believe, but "Two and a Half Men" is entering its eighth season. Despite Charlie Sheen's real-life legal woes--and threats to quit during hiatus-- it's the returning sitcom we're most looking forward to.

Credit the shows' writers for keeping TAAHM fresh and funny, even after 7 years and 161 episodes. Cleverly referencing Charlie Sheen's legal woes in last season's finale was a stroke of genius.

One major storyline thread that needs to be addressed: do Charlie and Chelsea get back together ? We're guessing 'no'. At least in the short term.

Is Alan the father of Judith's baby ? We're guessing 'yes'. [He seems to think so.]

The only thing we know for sure is that producers are looking to focus more storylines on Jake and that everyone's favorite stalker, Rose, will make some return visits.

That "Two and a Half Men" hasn't shown its age --let alone jumped the shark-- after all this time is a major accomplishment. We're hoping that the show doesn't become a victim of its own success, to wit: over-exposure. The show was recently picked up in syndication by FX, and has already been in reruns in most major markets for years. It seems to be always on.

Another possible concern is that Executive Producers Chuck Lorre and Lee Aronsohn are busy working on the new "Mike and Molly" and might be spreading themselves to thin. Hey, we wish them all the success with the new show, but guys, don't neglect your main franchise.

Monday, September 13, 2010

MTV Video Music Awards

MTV Video Music Awards
September 12, 2010 -- MTV

The MTV Video Music Awards are the one awards show where it doesn't matter who wins; it's all about the water cooler moments.

In that regard, last night VMA's were lacking: no one Kanye-ed the stage. There was no buzz-worthy moment, unless one took offense to Lady Gaga's Meat Dress.

But stand-out performances by Eminem & Kanye West, plus the anticipation of a never-to-materialize Kanye-Taylor Swift reunion, were enough to lure 11.4 million viewers.

We've never been big fans of first-time host Chelsea Handler, but she was on her game. She peppered the MTV reality stars from "Jersey Shore" with herpes and unwanted pregnancy jokes. Handler's best line of the night was when she pointed out that she was the first female host since 1994, "when 'The Situation' was just a classy way to refer to a teenage pregnancy & Justin Bieber's mom had just given birth to her 401K Plan."

Swift sang a song that supposedly was inspired by last year's Kanye acceptance speechus interruptus. Couldn't make heads or tails out of the song, except the chorus where she kept singing 'you're still and innocent' over and over. Cryptic and opaque.

It's been a year already, and Kanye has apologized 4,000 times. It's time for Taylor to let it go.

Lady Gaga won a bunch of awards, but we forgot which ones. We were too mesmerized by that darn Meat Dress.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


The Jets & Giants kick off the NFL season from radically different perspectives and it's kind of a role-reversal. The G-Men, as it seems to be forgotten, won an historic Super Bowl just 31 months ago. But that seems like ancient history as they creep into this season, seemingly in a Witness Protection Program. No one's talking Giants football.

Meanwhile, the Jets, who haven't won a Super Bowl in 41 years and who have broken their fans' hearts time and again--inspiring the phrase "same old Jets"--have become media darlings and kings of trash talk. A deep playoff run--even a Super Bowl appearance--seem a given.
And looking at the rosters, yeah, there's a reason for the team's respective expectations.

The Giants haven't been the same on defense since the loss of Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnola and the retirement of Michael Strahan. The pass rush that won 'em Super Bowl LXII has rarely been seen. The offensive line, so solid through the 2008 season, wilted last year. The vicious hit Eli Manning took in the pre-season opener vs. the Jets doesn't inspire confidence in the OL. Plus the G-men are playing in was is usually the toughest division in the NFL. There are those who suggest that Coach Tom Coughlin needs a winning season to avoid the hot seat. I don't think that's true as the Giants are a very conservative organization & Coughlin's Super Bowl ring has bought him some time and equity. He'll need that as it sez here that the G-men go 5-11.

Has any coach in pro sports talked more trash than Rex Ryan ? Obviously he doesn't subscribe to the theory "Speak softly and carry a big stick." While confidence is good, trash talk and guarantees never seem to work in sports. Remember Patrick Ewing ?
Of course, it all works out if the Jets win; not so much if they have an underwhemling 8-8 season. Rex kind of painted himself into a corner. Regardless of injuries or blown calls by referees, the Jets kinda have to win. The league is rooting for them to fall on their face, and their are no moral victories.

QB Mark Sanchez threw a ton of interceptions last year and will continue to chuck 'em this year. LaDainian Tomlinson has a ton of tread on his tires. But the Jets are not about their offense. Their defense aspires to be as good as the '85 Bears & the '00 Ravens. Both of those teams won Super Bowls.

We're picking the Jets defense to dominate enough games to take 'em to a 12-4 record and first place in the division. We'll make our playoff picks down the road.

A new era of sorts begins also with the first regular season game of the [still unnamed] new Meadowlands Stadium, which will host the Super Bowl in February 2014.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Review: CW's NIKITA: ** 2 stars

Thursdays @ 9 pm
Maggie Q, Lyndsy Fonseca, Xander Berkeley

The CW has been hyping Nikita for months, but the show's pilot has little zip & seems like something we've seen before. That's because we have: this is the 4th incarnation of the "Nikita" franchise in 20 years (2 films & a USA series).
The challenge to the show's producers was to come up with something fresh. The end result is something you'd likely see on the Syfy channel at 3 am.
The basic premise in this uninspired reboot remains the same: Nikita [Maggie Q] is taken into custody by a secret government agency that erases her memory and trains her to be a deadly assassin. Trouble is, no one knows if this agency [referred to as "The Division"] is good or bad.
Before the first commercial, Nikita goes rogue & now the Division is after her.
"Nikita" aspires to one modification in the franchise: more killing, less clothes. Indeed, there are about 15 or so kills, although we lost count. And in the "less clothes" department, Maggie Q sports a red one-piece bathing suit while snapping the neck of a bad guy in a jacuzzi. Don't know what the dude did to receive an "unhappy ending", but "Nikita" doesn't hammer you with exposition.
A subplot in the pilot is the introduction of Alex [Lyndsy Fonseca], a wayward youth who also is captured by the Division to become an assassin. The smart money is that Alex will serve as a protoge to Nikita in future eps.
Hawaiian-born actress Maggie Q [nee Margaret Denise Quigley] first came to our attention in 2007's ping-pong epic "Balls of Fury". At 85 pounds, some of the weaponry she uses in "Nikita" is half her body weight. But she looks good.
The production as whole looks like it was done on the cheap. Yeah, I mentioned it has Syfy network stamped all over it.
"Nikita" also loses style points for being shot in Toronto and trying to pass it off as New York.
Here's hoping that the producers offer fomer-Nikita Peta Wilson a cameo. She could use the work.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


ABC, Season Premiere: 20, 2010; 8 pm

ABC's paella of spray-tans, sequins and flop sweat returns for its 11th season. While this season's roster is clearly a notch or two less stellar than that of past season's, we still can't get enuf.

Here is a handicapper's guide to this year's field:

Bristol Palin with Mark Ballas; Vegas odds to win: 35-1.
Palin is neither a performer nor an athlete, and folks in that category don't usually excel. (Kate Gosselin's horrendous performance last season is the best example). And Couch Potato Cop was further disheartened to see Bristol display absolutely no rhythm during a guest spot on Jay Leno. Even during the ABC press conference announcing the new cast, she appeared stiff and uncomfortable. One bright spot: she was paired with two-time champion Mark Ballas, who is a master of hiding his partner's short-comings. It will be interesting to see if the voting falls under Red State/Blue State lines.

Kyle Massey with Lacy Schwimmer; Vegas odds to win: 30-1. Massey is largely unknown to anyone over age 12, as he appears on some Disney Channel Show. The kid displayed some moxie during the ABC press conference by throwing down the gauntlet and challenging Michael Bolton & David Hasselhoff. Hey, you don't hassle the Hoff !

Margaret Cho with Louis Van Amstel, Vegas odds to win: 25-1. Cho is easily the most fascinating member of the cast, filling the 'edgy comedian / Adam Carolla' role. It will be interesting to see if the outspoken, bisexual gay rights activist tones down her schtick in deference to the broad "DwtS" demographic. I'm guessing her introductory package in the premiere will downplay her edgy act and we'll get more wholesome clips from Cho's squeaky-clean '94 ABC sitcom "All American Girl". We're also guessing that Cho will present a PG-13 version of herself, much like Carolla did.

Audrina Patridge with Tony Dovolani; Vegas odds to win: 20-1. Patridge is known for MTV reality show 'The Hills' & a Carl, Jr's TV commercial. Oh, and there were a few nude photos that turned up on the 'net. Not quite a star, but 'DwtS' takes what it can get. Tony Dovolani has to be happy to be paired up with anyone not named Kate Gosselin.

Kurt Warner with Anna Trebunskaya; Vegas odds to win: 16-1. NFL stars have a better-than-solid track record: Emmit Smith, Jerry Rice, Warren Sapp & Jason Taylore all went deep into the competition. Warner himself acknowledged this, but noted that he is the first quarter-back on 'DwtS' and doesn't consider himself the athlete his colleagues were. Fair enough.

Florence Henderson with Corky Ballas; Vegas odds to win: 15-1. Seventy-four year old Henderson obviously fills the 'Cloris Leachman' role in the cast, with the obvious difference that Henderson has a song-and-dance background. Interesting to note is that Henderson campaigned for a spot on the show with 'DwtS' producers for several seasons before finally making the cut. It seems that there's a quota of exactly one senior citizen per season.

Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino with Karina Smirnoff; Vegas odds to win: 11-1.
Sorrentino, famous solely for "Jersey Shore", is extending his 15 minutes, which is absolutely the right play. Hey, the guy isn't an actor, singer, dancer or writer, so might as well grab anything while the iron is hot. His pairing with the sassy Karina Smirnoff is guaranteed to cause fireworks.

Michael Bolton with Chelsie Hightower; Vegas odds to win: 9 to 1
I had purged from my memory the fact that Michael Bolton ever existed; now I gotta wrap my head around the fact that he's still out there. yewww ! The fact that he'll be paired with the lovely & spunky Chelsie Hightower will make it a little less bitter pill to swallow.

Brandy with Maksim Chmerkovskiy; Vegas odds to win: 7-1. A musical background and being 30- to 40- years younger than her main competitors makes Brandy a clear favorite. Being paired with the Badboy of the Ballroom doesn't hurt.

David Hasselhoff with Kym Johnson; Vegas odds to win: 6-1
If Germany rocks the vote, the Hoff can walk off with the Mirror Ball Trophy.

Jennifer Gray with Derek Hough; Vegas odds to win: 5-1
I don't put too much stock in the fact that Gray starred in "Dirty Dancing" so therefore she has an edge. That was a quarter of a century ago. Plus, it was a movie -- multiple takes til you get it right. She does have a great partner in the tw0-time champion Derek Hough.

Rick Fox with Cheryl Burke; Vegas odds to win: 4-1
Fox has been deemed by Vegas as the favorite, based soley on his NBA career. But as we've seen with Clyde Drexler a few seasons ago, being a hoops star doesn't necessarily translate to the tango. Still, Cheryl Burke will be a drill seargent during rehearsals.