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New Shows: May 17-30, 2014

THIS WEEK: Return to Zero -- Maya Rudolph -- Gang Related -- Labyrinth -- Memorial Day Concert -- The Normal Heart -- Petals on the Wind -- The World Wars -- The Next Step -- The Night Shift -- The Wil Wheaton Project -- Nova's D-Day -- Don Rickles -- Undateable -- Crossbones

The New Shows color code: red means don’t bother; blue means maybe; green means good; magenta means great.

Return to Zero (Lifetime)
I rarely watch Lifetime movies, but the cast of this one was astonishing. Minnie Driver, Paul Adelstein, Alfred Molina, and Kathy Baker play the major roles. The story is about a couple who, after losing a baby, must find a way to move on. It becomes even more complicated when the wife gets pregnant again. It was a Lifetime movie, manipulative and silly with an ending that was so pat as to be absurd. Remind me to steer clear of Lifetime movies, regardless of the cast.

2014 Billboard Music Awards (ABC)
Coldplay: Ghost Stories (NBC)

The Maya Rudolph Show (NBC)
Maya Rudolph is ridiculously talented, but not enough to carry off a variety show. This one, while not horrible, felt like an episode of SNL. Some parts worked well; others, most assuredly, did not. There is talk of making this show a regular event. It needs to seriously consider both its content and its guest stars if it is to become something worth watching more than once.

Vegas Rat Rods (Discovery)

ACM Presents: An All-Star Salute to the Troops (CBS)
I Wanna Marry Harry (Fox)
Judge Judy Primetime (CBS)


Gang Related (Fox)
This could have been really good. A kid is rescued from harm by the leader of a notorious LA gang. Said leader becomes a father figure and implants the now grown kid into the LAPD. As I’m sure you have guessed by now, the kid grows to be a great cop and to respect the law. The problem is that this show includes every cliché I could think of with such horrible dialogue that, once or twice, I literally rolled my eyes. Not even Terry O’Quinn, who can save anything, can save this one. It’s a real waste of a good story and good talent.

Labyrinth (The CW)
I tried four separate times to get into this show. I failed. The story itself should have been great — two women, eight centuries apart, find themselves caught up in the same mystery. The first hour is plodding and dull, with dialogue that is laughably bad, villains that are too obvious, and two lead actresses who are so naive and helpless that I wanted to shake them. I gave up.

Reality Ex-Wives (E!)

Chrome Underground (Discovery)
Deep in the Darkness (Chiller)

Cesar’s Last Fast (Pivot)

National Memorial Day Concert (PBS)
This is a concert held every year in Washington to honor the men and women who have served. I don’t consider myself overly patriotic, but this really got to me. Stories of wounded warriors and the families of those who never returned. One woman lost both of her sons; her story put my whining about having a cold right into perspective. This was great. Catch it if you can.

The Normal Heart (HBO)
This adaptation of the Larry Kramer play is, in a word, excellent. The story is about the early days of AIDS when the vast majority of those dying were gay men. This film looks harshly at everyone involved, from the gay men to the people in government who ignored the problem for so long. It can be a bit of a tearjerker at times, but the emotion is earned. I highly recommend this show.

Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys (Animal Planet)

Petals on the Wind (Lifetime)
LaureMack reviewed this in a wonderful piece that had me laughing out loud. I was dreading watching this. It wasn’t as bad as I had feared, but it was very predictable, silly, and trite. The story is meant to be shocking and probably would have been with people who could act. The delivery of this dialogue was so appalling, I found myself giggling when I should have been astonished. Oh well.

The World Wars (History)
An outstanding documentary that shows what most historians now believe — that the first and second world wars were, in fact, one conflict. In honor of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the first war and the 70th anniversary of D-Day, watch this. You may not learn anything new, but the reminder is worth the six hours.

BBQ Pit Wars (Destination America)
Bomb Girls: Facing the Enemy (Reelz)
Men of the Strip (E!)

The Next Step (Hulu)
A scripted reality show (now, there’s an oxymoron) about a group of kids who dance. Think Glee, but with dancers. The script is done, the acting is terrible, the dancing is great. Like I said, Glee with dancers. If you still watch Glee, give this one a shot. If not, steer well clear.

The Night Shift (NBC)
If you have ever seen an episode of a medical drama, you have seen this one, a re-tread of every one I could think of from M*A*S*H to Grey’s. Even the two lead characters are based on Hawkeye Pierce and Meredith Grey.

This show also wins the prize for the most absurd publicity shot of the year, if not of all time. One or two reviewers have based their reviews around it.

The Wil Wheaton Project (Syfy)
Think The Soup for nerds. Wil Wheaton stands in front of a green screen and pokes fun at all things sci-fi, genre, and horror. Some of the jokes were all right, but none of them made me laugh out loud. Wheaton is obviously having a good time, but his delivery needs a bit of work. He keeps laughing at the joke before he delivers it, which is fairly annoying. Not bad, but it wasn’t enough to make me want to see it again.

Little Women: LA (Lifetime)
Sinister Ministers: Collared (Investigation Discovery)
World’s Strangest (Science)

D-Day’s Sunken Secrets (PBS)
A Nova program during which a group of scientists explored what lies under the sea at the Normandy beaches. Although interesting, the best part was listening to the stories of the men who fought. A tad long winded at times, the show could have used some editing. Interesting viewing, but only if you are a real history geek.

One Night Only: An All-Star Comedy Tribute to Don Rickles (Spike)
A very funny tribute to one of the funniest men there is. Tina and Amy were, unsurprisingly, the best. What was a surprise was how funny Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorsese were. Their bit about filming Casino with Rickles was simply hilarious. I enjoyed this. Watch it if you are a fan of Rickles or of comedy.

Big Ballet (Ovation)
World Music Awards (NBC)

Undateable (NBC)
It’s a shame that NBC is burning this one off; it has potential if one looks hard enough. The premise and the writing are a bit pedestrian, but the acting is wonderful. All of the main characters bring their own fun and joy and several times they made me laugh out loud. This is not one I will continue with as I am sure it will be over soon, but I did enjoy the two episodes I watched.

American River Renegades (Animal Planet)

Crossbones (NBC)
John Malkovich plays a pirate, Blackbeard to be precise. This is going to be fun! Unfortunately, it’s not. This show reminded me quite a bit of Black Sails and not in a good way. If we’re going to watch pirates, I want swashbuckling and bodice-ripping. I don’t want two men sitting around discussing whether or not one of them is God, especially when Malkovich’s version of God is just odd. Not horrible; not what it should and could have been.

Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars (WE)
Mystery Millionaire (WE)
No Limits (Animal Planet)

ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen or with a book in her hand.


  1. Kitty in a pirate hat! I hope Crossbones will be canceled quickly. I'm so sick of those promos.

  2. The plot of Gang Related sounds like at least half of it was taken from The Departed (which was based on Infernal Affairs anyway).

    I tried to read the book that Labyrinth was based on, and had exactly the same reaction you did to the show, Chris.

    Also, ditto on Will Wheaton.

    That kitty has a peg leg!

  3. There was nothing about The Night Shift or Gang Related that caught my attention. If anything, the premises for both shows sounded like the TV equivalent of reheated take out food.

    It's a shame that Crossbones didn't work. John Malcovich is one of my favourite actors so I'm thinking of checking the show out.

    Meanwhile, I'm very curious about the Wil Wheaton show. Hopefully, he'll polish the rough spots (such as laughing before he's finished telling the joke) soon.

  4. Thanks, Chris! As always, the joy is in the details - I was curious enough to look up "I Wanna Marry Harry" and found it was a reality show about a group of US women under the impression they are competing to marry Prince Harry. Words....they fail....

    I can recommend Big Ballet, though - I don't know if this is the UK show I saw or an American adaptation, but it was a very touching series taking a group of women who love to dance but think they are too big to do so right through to a performance of Swan Lake. It was fantastic.

  5. I really like the Wil Wheaton show. I thought he did a good job, for his first show. Of this type, I should say. I'm interested enough to watch more. I really like John Malkovich, but I would disagree slightly, with you Chris - I do think it was awful.

  6. Little Women: LA

    I hadn't heard of it before and thought this was going to be some kind of modern day adaptation of the novel. So I looked it up.

    I'm pretty disappointed.


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