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TV Review: Final Season of ‘Dexter’ Starts on Confident Note

Dexter S8 (cropped)

CHICAGO – The start of the eighth and final season of “Dexter” feels like a comeback album from a band that you used to love. There’s a blend of true happiness that this show looks, after four episodes, that it will end on a strong note, but also a bit of anger at the weak storytelling and stupid decisions that led us here.

DVD Review: First Season of Sundance Channel’s Riveting ‘Rectify’

Rectify

CHICAGO – As excellent as the current state of writing is in television, even our best programs often fit neatly into genres. It’s a three-party system — drama, comedy, and reality. And some of our most critically-acclaimed shows are so because of how they play within audience expectations (“Homeland,” “Parks & Recreation”) and not how they push them.

TV Review: TNT Spins Wheels with ‘Perception,’ ‘Rizzoli & Isles’

Perception

CHICAGOTNT brings “Perception” and “Rizzoli & Isles” back for new seasons tomorrow night, Tuesday, June 25, 2013, and the first episodes are unlikely to hook anyone new while also not annoying previous fans of either program. It’s the definition of playing it safe. With networks like AMC, FX, and A&E pushing boundaries, it’s beginning to get harder to make excuses for TNT, especially after they canceled their two most interesting dramas, “Monday Mornings” & “Southland.”

TV Review: Stephen King’s ‘Under the Dome’ Shows Promise on CBS

CHICAGO – Stephen King’s “Under the Dome” would have likely been a standard mini-series back in the day when such a thing happened on the networks in iterations like “It,” “The Stand,” and “Storm of the Century.” In a time when network mini-series are a lost form, CBS has taken the daring move of turning King’s book into a fully-formed, 13-episode Summer series, with the door apparently open for more beyond this initial arc.

TV Feature: If I Had an Emmy Ballot 2013

CHICAGO – With Emmy ballots due this Friday and the natural human tendency to procrastinate, I’m betting a lot of you Academy members are still sweating some tough decisions this year. Let me help.

TV Review: NBC Breaks International Quality Standards with ‘Crossing Lines’

Crossing Lines

CHICAGONBC’s “Crossing Lines,” premiering with a two-part pilot on Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 8pm CST, was blatantly created for an international audience. It’s a product of a French production company, filming largely in the Czech Republic with an international cast. Designed for sales in as many markets as possible around the world, it’s a financial consideration more than a creative venture, and it’s a boring one at that. Don’t bother.

TV Review: ABC Takes Reality TV Down Dark Road with ‘Whodunnit?’

Whodunnit?

CHICAGO – If you’re old enough, you may remember when murder mystery parties became a trend. Game stores would sell boxes designed to get people to gather friends and essentially host their own version of the movie “Clue.” One guest was the murderer, the other party goers had to solve the crime. Well, it took longer than expected but reality TV has officially run out of ideas and have decided to turn those murder mystery parties into a weekly series.

TV Review: Donal Logue Brings New Energy to BBC America’s ‘Copper’

CHICAGO – Barry Levinson & Tom Fontana’s very good “Copper” is even better in season two thanks to the inclusion of the always-great Donal Logue as a detective returned to New York City after serving in the Civil War. Logue’s General Brendan Donovan brings a new dark energy to a piece that seems to be getting denser and more engaging as it goes along.

Blu-ray Review: HBO’s ‘The Newsroom’ Rivets, Frustrates at Same Time

The Newsroom

CHICAGO – Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, drives me crazy. The HBO drama can be so thematically dense and brings up subjects too often missing from the national conversation but it can also be so frustratingly self-important and deluded in its vision of the way real people operate. Do you give it credit for the topics it raises or smash it for the heavy hand with which they’re delivered? I have high hopes that season two will iron out some of the problems (stories of reshot episodes indicate that Sorkin heard his critics) but I’m still torn on how to feel about season one.

TV Review: Third Season of FX’s ‘Wilfred’ Starts with Promising Shift

Wilfred

CHICAGO – Changing showrunners often proves the kiss of death for comedies. If you watched the Dan Harmon-less fourth season of “Community,” NBC owes you an apology. And so hearing that “Wilfred” was going to tweak its behind-the-scenes staff by moving David Zuckerman from showrunner to exec producer and sliding writer/producers Reed Agnew & Eli Jorne into lead roles, there was reason for concern. Don’t worry.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Not One Batu

    CHICAGO – The State of Hawaii may be one of the most misunderstood in America. Because of its reputation as a tourist mecca, the fact that native peoples live and work there like any other place is hard to imagine. Also unimaginable is the drug use of island residents, but playwright and Hawaiian native Hannah li-Epstein wrote about it in her stage play “Not One Batu,” now in its Premiere Chicago run at the Berger Park Coach House through July 28th, 2018. For more information, including tickets, click here.

  • Cher Show, The

    CHICAGO – Has anybody in show business had more “comebacks” than Cher… or if you added her many last names Cher Sarkisian La Piere Bono Allman? All of the triumphs and downturns are shoehorned into “The Cher Show,” now in Chicago in a pre-Broadway run through July 15, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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