New Shows (2013): June 24 - 30

Less is more. There were fewer new shows this week than there has been in quite a while; many of them were fun to watch. It made for a nice change of pace from the usual list of reality/reality competition shows I have been reviewing this summer. For clarity, I have listed the new shows more or less in the order they originally aired. As a reminder, red means don’t bother; blue means maybe; green means good; magenta means great.

Miss You Can Do It (HBO)
Abbey Curran is an angel. The first woman with a disability to participate in a major beauty pageant, she now runs a pageant every year called the Miss You Can Do It, solely for young girls with physical, mental and emotional challenges. I literally wept through all 85 minutes of it. The parents; the judges; the girls were all inspiring and just wonderful to listen to. I’m here to tell you -- if you think your life is tough, you’ll quickly get over yourself. Do whatever it takes to get your hands on this, sit down with at least five tissues and get up a better person for having seen it.

Under the Dome (CBS)
Josie wrote an excellent review of the pilot. I am interested to enough in this story to see what happens next, but am not in love with this show. At least, not yet.

Independence Day-Saster (Syfy)
If it is too wet or too hot to play outside on the 4th, I have a new drinking game for you. Pour your favorite beverage and plant yourself in front of this movie. Every time you see a hackneyed cliche or laughable CGI, hear wooden dialogue, appalling delivery of said dialogue, or soaring music badly designed to invoke emotion, take a very small sip of your beverage. Within the hour, you’ll be feeling so good, it won’t matter that your holiday was spent inside. If you make it to the end, you’ll wake up on the 5th with a hangover.

The Out List (HBO)
A wonderful documentary of LGBT people talking about their experiences. It is simply people from all walks of life talking to the camera, but I loved it. Interesting and uplifting, I recommend it, especially in light of this week’s Supreme Court DOMA ruling.

Annie: It’s A Hard-Knock Life, From Script to Stage (PBS)
A documentary about the young girls who play the orphans in the latest version of Annie. It is told from the perspective of the choreographer, director and costume designer along with interviews with the girls. It is exactly what you expect this to be. Mildly entertaining, but don’t drop everything to watch it.

Owen Benjamin: High Five Til It Hurts (Comedy Central)
I had never heard of this guy, but I am now a fan. His comedy is, wait for it, funny and he doesn’t feel the need to swear every other second to make his point. He is also a talented musician and does hilarious parodies of songs. If you’re looking for an easy hour of television, you could do a lot worse than this.

Anna Nicole (Lifetime)
Similar to the Josie Arias movie last week, we get another Lifetime movie that was inevitable. This one, however, is badly done. The dialogue is dire; the acting is horrible (save for Virginia Madsen as Smith’s mother who is excellent); the story is one to which you know the ending. Another tragic tale, this movie can’t even drum up the sympathy necessary to either root for or root for the downfall of this sad woman.

Banner 4th of July (Hallmark)
The Banner Project was, once upon a time, a successful singing group made up of Desiree Banner and her two brothers. They fell out when she wanted to do a solo album and they have barely spoken for ten years. Mom fakes a heart attack to get all three of them home again in time to do a benefit concert for their home town of Pine Hills, which is facing bankruptcy. Will the three reunite in time to save their town? Will they forgive Mom and each other? Will the two of the three who are unmarried and Mom who is a widow find life partners in the next three days? This is the Hallmark Channel. What do you think? I don’t usually mind Hallmark movies, but this one was particularly saccharine. Give it a miss.

Secrets of Henry VIII’s Palaces (PBS)
No secrets, but an interesting documentary about Henry’s palaces, of which he had many. The episode I watched was about Hampton Court. The historians who narrate the piece go into a fair amount of detail about the building and its history. I really enjoyed it, but I am an English history fanatic. If you are following sunbunny’s reviews of The Tudors, you will also enjoy this as a lot of what happens in the first season happened at this palace.

Ray Donovan (Showtime)
If you are looking for the next great drama, look no further. Liev Schreiber is marvelous as the lead character; Jon Voight gives the performance of his career as his father. Beautifully written and directed, this story is tense and moving. On the surface, it is about the struggle between good and evil; but, what raises this show to another level is that, after the first hour, I am not sure who is good and who is evil. The pilot is tough to watch. There were a few scenes that were very disturbing and there was a lot of backstory and exposition. The show did, however, make me wish I could immediately stream the next episode. Give this show a chance.

6 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Red white and blue kitten! Looks like more green this time than usual. I'll have to check some of them out. Great job as usual, Chris.

Josie Kafka said...

I think Uncle Sam wants that kitten.

I liked Ray Donovan, but not quite as much as I wanted to like it. It needs a bit more levity. Isn't an ability to grin wryly through the tears one of the cool stereotypes about being Irish-American? They've got all the other ones in there.

One part of Ray Donovan I did love: all the digs a Calabasas, the "Jersey Shore of LA." And who doesn't love Elliot Gould?

ChrisB said...

I HAD to find a 4th of July kitten. Was very pleased with my success. :-)

I agree with you, Josie, about Ray Donovan. It was bleak and hard to take, but it did intrigue me. I am very curious where they are going, especially with all the family stuff.

So -- question from someone who lives 3,000 miles away. What is the joke around Calabasas? As I had never heard of it, I looked it up on Google Earth. I recognized the names of all the areas surrounding it. Is that the joke?

Josie Kafka said...

Chris, Calabasas is where the Kardashians lives. (Or used to, when they were all under one roof.) It's where many participants in the Bling Ring lived, I think: http://articles.latimes.com/2013/may/24/entertainment/la-et-mn-bling-ring-20130526

I've never been there, but I have, on occasion, watched TMZ. (I was tired! I needed something mindless!) TMZ stalks many celebrities who live there. They are rarely A-list celebrities.

ChrisB said...

Thanks for the clarification. That actually helps explain all the stuff around the family moving. It was all a bit lost on me, I'm afraid.

sunbunny said...

Bieber lives in Calabasas too. I've never understood why anyone with as much money as these people would choose to live out there.