You Can Put Down the Book Now
While you were partying, shopping, traveling, or avoiding the holiday season altogether, TV series particularly on network TV took a hiatus, resorting to specials and reruns to fill the prime-time hours. During January, TV goes from "pause" to "go" with several shows resuming their runs, the launch of new series, the return of old favorites, and one awards show.
First on deck, season six of 24 (Fox) and seasons two of Rome and Extras (HBO) return on Sunday. 24 comes on strong with two two-hour blocks on Sunday and Monday nights. Personally, I'm curious to see if last season's great finale keeps the momentum going. As for Rome ... eh. I can take it or leave it. The only thing I really like about this show is Atia, played with devilish glee by Polly Walker. And then there's Extras. Ricky Gervais fans, as well as those who are, or remember, paying their dues in theatre or film trenches should adore this little comedy, following the off-camera experiences of Andy Millman (Gervais) and his gal pal Maggie (Ashley Jensen, better known as Christina on Ugly Betty) as they go from one thankless gig to the next, all the while thinking their next big break is just within reach. Gervais has a real knack for what others have called his "theatre of embarrassment." I couldn't agree more.
24 returns Sunday at 7pm on Fox. Rome and Extras air Sundays at 8 and 9pm, respectively, on HBO.
On Monday night, the Golden Globes are handed out live on NBC. Yes, all the chatter is about film, but there is a TV component to this award show, too. The hoopla begins at 7pm.
You know you've been waiting, and now it's here: The sixth-season premiere of American Idol. Who can resist watching clueless no-talents with big egos strut their junk while the rest of us laugh with glee? Watch Simon and Paula spar! Hear how many times Randy can use the word "dawg." Place bets on Paula sober or bombed? American Idol kicks off on Tuesday at 7pm on Fox.
Several new series launched in the fading holiday glow. The best of these is Knights of Prosperity, a screechingly funny comedy starring Donal Logue (Grounded for Life), as the leader of a band of misfits eager for the good life. Their solution is to re-create themselves after the Ocean's Eleven gang. Their heist: to rob Mick Jagger. This would be a challenge for anyone, but for this group of preposterous boobs, it's like planning a space launch. And yet, you can't help but root for them. Knights airs Wednesdays at 8pm on ABC.
Not so endearing is In Case of Emergency. The premise is promising: Several high school friends separately, but concurrently, reach a crossroads and are forced to reassess their lives. This might work if any of the characters were likable. Jonathan Silverman (The Single Guy) plays the alpha male in this bunch and is the most sympathetic. But that's not saying much. His whining wears thin very quickly. A couple of chuckles courtesy of David Arquette and Greg Germann come up here and there, but frankly, it's hard to get behind any of these guys. Unlike the working joes in Knights, the burdens of these well-heeled overgrown boys seem less insurmountable. If taking a long hike around someone else's belly button is your idea of a good time, tune in. Otherwise, I'm sticking with Knights. And what's the deal with these gorgeous women (Sofia Vergara in Knights, Kelly Hu in In Case, and, for that matter, Nadine Velazquez from My Name Is Earl) hanging out with sorry-assed men? It seems to be a trend that is gaining traction. Who says Hollywood isn't a boy's club?
Over on cable, Mrs. David Arquette, otherwise known as Courteney Cox-Arquette stars in her own series about a driven tabloid editor on Dirt (FX), while IFC launched Gunslinger Girl. More on those next time. Dirt airs Tuesdays at 9pm on FX. Gunslinger Girl airs Fridays at 10pm on IFC.
This Old House (PBS) has a green project in Austin. Log onto www.thisoldhouse.com/blogs/oldhousemyhouse to check on its progress prior to official the February airdate... Speaking of houses, Trading Spaces is coming to Austin to shoot a new iteration of the popular series, Trading Spaces: The Next Generation... The Demetri Martin comedy show filmed at the Paramount Theatre last October airs Sundays at 9pm on Comedy Central.