We pause for a few programming notes

Gugino and Duchovny in Californication

 PASADENA, CA–Press tour is so jammed-packed and intense it’s easy to forget there’s a whole world of television going on. This January seems particularly crowded with series premieres.
Showtime here in the States is running ads in high rotation for three shows starting tonight. They`re calling it their “Biggest Sunday ever.” All three can be seen tonight as well in Canada on The Movie Network and Movie Central.

First up is the fourth season premiere of Californication (9/8c). I loved this series when it first launched, not so much the second season, less so in the third. It seemed to be slowly devolving into porn, although the cast has been terrific throughout, especially Pamela Adlon and Evan Handler as an outrageous on- and off-couple of Hollywood misfits. Our hero, Hank Moody (David Duchovny), who can`t seem to ever turn down a drink or a chick, hit rock bottom at the end of last season.This season he`ll be trying to make his new lawyer drop her briefs. Since she`s played by the Next Mrs. Brioux, Carla Gugino, I immediately popped the screeners into the disc player prior to this press tour. Suffice to say the show seems to be turning the corner. Gugino is The Bomb. I was getting a tad queasy last season watching Kathleen Turner worker her man eater thing so far past her best before date.

Well that was uncalled for. Next up is Episodes, a new comedy starring former Friends lad Matt LeBlanc. Here he plays a guy named Matt LeBlanc, hired to star in a remake of a British hit. He also has grey hair, which he now claims he had all the time he was shooting Friends. He wears it well, but what’s up with that?
The British producers aren’t too keen on having this Yank dumb down their show. LeBlanc bravely takes the mickey out of himself. It`s better than Joey, but then what isn`t. Friends producer David Crane is behind this series. You can read more about Episodes and other actual Brit TV makeovers here at this feature I wrote for the january edition of Movie Entertainment magazine.

Showtime Sunday (or TMN Sunday or MC Sunday…damn this half country specialty split in Canada) ends with the premiere of Shameless, which stars William H. Macy as the drunken head of the Gallagher clan. Great, just what Showtime needs, another dysfunctional family. This one takes it to a ridiculous extreme sort of The United States of Jack Daniels. Macy is a great actor and almost pulls it off, whether he`s passed out on the kitchen floor or hanging with his hobo peeps. The six kids are the real stars, running around, changing diapers, paying bills, picking up the slack from drunk old dad. It`s like Party of Five only dad is dead drunk most of the time, not just dead.
This one really is based on a British show, but I`m guessing the original producers were pretty happy to land Macy. Shameless premieres tonight at 11/10c.

Monday is just as busy, especially in Canada. Talk show host Marilyn Denis (right) returns to her old City studio and 10 a.m. time slot with The Marilyn Denis Show (CTV). Denis was raring to go when I spoke with her two weeks ago, excited to be back after a two-and-a-half-year hiatus from television (she continues to co-host CHUM-FM’s morning show with Roger Ashby). She has a loyal army of followers; every time I type her name here traffic jumps four-fold (Marilyn Denis, Marilyn Denis, Marilyn Denis). Her first guest is that dude from Desperate Housewives, James Denton, with Josh Groban later in the week. Read more in this feature I wrote in today’s Toronto Star.
I have another Star story today on the Canadian launch of Covert Affairs (Sunday night at 10 p.m. on Showcase). This series shoots in Toronto (sharing studio space with Dan for Mayor) and has been running for several months on the USA Network. A second season has already been ordered.

It stars Piper Perabo (Coyote Ugly) as a young woman suddenly promoted to a full CIA agent. There’s something fishy about that, because she’s really not ready, and that’s where the fun starts. Peter Gallagher and Keri Matchett are also in on this spirited spy caper, with Toronto doubling for Washington, D.C. Some episodes are directed by executive producer Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity), who brings a rock and roll energy to the deal. I spoke with Perabo last summer in LA at that TCA press tour and she is easy to root for, very cheery and good natured. Check her out.

Finally, Bob’s Burgers premieres tonight at 8:30 p.m. ET on Fox and Global and it is one tasty little comedy. The animated sitcom is deliciously droll and outrageous. It’s not from either Matt Groening or Seth MacFarlane and has a distinctly different sensibility, which is refreshing to find on Fox Sunday night. Loren Bouchard (Home Movies, Dr. Katz) is the guy behind this series about a family run burger joint located next door to a funeral home and crematorium. Yum!  If you like your comedy well done and a little dark and saucy, you’ll like Bob’s Burgers. Tonight’s pilot episode had me laughing out loud several times.
A “May contain human flesh” sign is a bummer for Bob’s Burgers

One Response to “We pause for a few programming notes”

  1. Not sure what TMN is doing, but the three Showtime series will air on Moviecentral on Monday night, not Sunday.

    Reply

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