CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.
CHICAGO – “I like you. You say what you mean.” Showtime’s brilliant new show, “Ray Donovan,” is titled after a straightshooter in a town where no one is honest; a problem solver in a place built on mountains of problems. Ann Biderman’s stunning drama (directed and produced by “Sopranos” vet Allen Coulter) is the kind of dense patchwork quilt of character and theme that separate great shows from merely good ones.
CHICAGO – There are reasons to worry about “House.” Let’s look at the symptoms. First, the temperature — the show’s ratings. They’re down nearly 50% from the season-three peak, averaging just under 10 million last year, down from closer to 13 million the year before. They’re still impressive numbers but when there were rumors of a network shift or even cancellation last year, no one was shocked.
CHICAGO – Last season of “House” opened with a divisive episode in which our beloved doctor (Hugh Laurie) spent some time away from Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital in a “Cuckoo’s Nest”-inspired tale of potential madness. Once again, the writers of one of the most successful shows of the last decade have chosen to start the new season of “House” with something a bit left-of-center in “Now What?,” premiering tonight on FOX, but this episode may have longer-lasting repercussions.