The Return of Appointment Television
Just when you thought there was nothing to watch on TV, something old and something new turned up on the small screen. The strange thing is the something old feels like new (The Wire, HBO), and the something new feels like a retread (Cashmere Mafia, ABC).
I have to admit to falling away from The Wire only because I'd convinced myself that it was better watched in one fell swoop on DVD. But I was curious about the new season, which takes a hard look at the role of the press. I also wanted to see if I could follow the show after a couple of seasons away. Thankfully, I was not disappointed. The story is so well-executed and the characters so well-drawn that, even if I had forgotten a certain character or plot point, I never lost my bearings. The Wire kept me riveted, reminding me of that glorious lost weekend when I watched the first season on DVD in its entirety. No doubt about it: The Wire is the must-watch series of Sunday night.
Not so glorious is Cashmere Mafia, which premiered this week on ABC. This hybrid of Desperate Housewives and Sex and the City (SATC's creator, Darren Star, is an executive producer) aims for the best of both but doesn't hit any marks with precision. Cashmere Mafia is high on appearance (the clothes, the parties, the texting) and low on content. Billed as a boy's club for women (led by Lucy Liu), this series heavily banks on the snappy retort and quick wrap-up, largely eschewing a substantive look at how successful career women survive in the multiple worlds – business, pleasure, parenting – that demand a piece of them.
The Wire airs Sundays at 8pm on HBO. Cashmere Mafia will regularly air on Wednesdays at 9pm on ABC. If you missed the pilot or sneak peek, find it online at ABC.com.
Comanche Moon premieres next week, and local actress Jessica Robertson wants you to see it. The Austin-based actress has a small role in the first episode of the six-hour miniseries, the prequel to the Emmy-winning Lonesome Dove miniseries based on Larry McMurtry's bestselling novel. Steve Zahn and Karl Urban star as young Gus McCrae and Woodrow F. Call, the roles played by Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones in Lonesome Dove.
To celebrate the premiere, Robertson is hosting a screening party on Sunday, Jan. 13, at J Black's at 710 W. Sixth, starting at 6:30pm. "All are welcome to celebrate this television event," Robertson says. "As a special nod to local actors, we will ring a bell every time a Texas actor comes on screen."
Comanche Moon airs Sunday, Jan. 13; Tuesday, Jan. 15; and Wednesday, Jan. 16, at 8pm on CBS.
The WGA Strike
The strike goes on, but late-night chat is up and running again. CBS' David Letterman and Craig Ferguson and NBC's Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien returned last week (the former with writing staff, the latter without). Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert returned to their respective shows on Comedy Central (without writers) this week. Real Time With Bill Maher returns, after a scheduled break, on Friday, Jan. 11, at 10pm on HBO.
Elsewhere, the plot thickens. After weeks of wrangling, the Golden Globes ceremony will go on, albeit not in the originally intended broadcast version. A press conference presented by NBC News (which has no Writers Guild of America affiliation) will announce the winners, to be followed by a clip show. This solution comes after a waiver to allow writers to participate in the show was denied by the WGA. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (which runs the Globes) then asked NBC not to air the show, apparently thinking that actors would attend the ceremony if it weren't televised. The Screen Actors Guild has stated that none of its actors will cross a WGA picket line, and WGA strikers are still going to show up whether or not cameras are rolling. The WGA presumes that NBC News is a cloak for the struck company (Dick Clark Productions) that is staging the event.
Maybe we will see The Golden Globes With Brian Williams or Meet the Winners With Tim Russert. No, serious news journalists have better things to do with their time, don't they? Isn't there some kind of election going on?
NBC's coverage of the Golden Globes airs Sunday at 7pm.
As always, stay tuned.