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TV Review: Charming Desiree Hartsock Becomes ‘The Bachelorette’

CHICAGO – I always say that reality TV is dependent on casting above all else and this is no more truthful than in the “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” franchises. Sure, the producers can do a lot in crafting narratives for their “stars” but if the lead isn’t someone we root for and his or her suitors aren’t equally entertaining, we’ll check out.

TV Review: A&E Mystery Series Return in ‘Longmire,’ ‘The Glades’

CHICAGO – A&E’s “Longmire,” returning tonight for its second season, can be a great show. It’s an underrated Western-mystery hybrid with a stellar lead performance from Robert Taylor and a heavy dose of “No Country For Old Men” atmosphere. “The Glades,” also returning tonight for its fourth season, is a more inconsistent program but has produced some solid episodes over its run.

TV Review: Michael Douglas, Matt Damon in ‘Behind the Candleabra’

CHICAGO – It could have been so awful. Liberace was such an over-the-top character that capturing his most extreme behavior in the form of a TV movie could have been the kind of campy thing that deserves comparison to “Showgirls.”

TV Review: FOX Launches Unique ‘Does Someone Have to Go?’

Does Someone Have to Go?

CHICAGO – They could have called it “Undercover No-Boss”. FOX’s very unusual “Does Someone Have to Go?” is a new, Summer reality offering about workplaces that need shaking up and get their upheaval by turning the employees into bosses. Every week, the staff will be empowered by a series of exercises, and, ultimately, have to answer the title question - Is the best route of action for the company to let one of their employees go?

TV Review: Confident Veterans Elevate ABC’s ‘Rookie Blue’

CHICAGO – Can it still be called “Rookie Blue” in its fourth season? Should they change it to “Experienced Blue”? The irony of the fourth season premiere of ABC’s strong Summer hit, a Canadian import like “Flashpoint” and “Motive,” is that the reason it works is because the cast seems so comfortable in these roles. They’re far more entertaining, likable, and believable than a lot of modern cop shows and I think it’s the people, not the situations, that has made “Rookie Blue” a hit.

Blu-ray Review: Final Season of FOX Hit ‘Fringe’

Fringe: "August"

CHICAGO – I find it fascinating that “Fringe,” the show that always seemed to be on the bubble for renewal and was always included in articles about low-rated programming, appears to be one of the most influential on the Fall 2013 season. FOX has two new dramas in the Fall and they’re both from “Fringe” alum — J.J. Abrams’ “Almost Human” and Robert Orci & Alex Kurtzman’s “Sleepy Hollow”. They’re clearly looking for, believe it or not, the next “Fringe.” For while the smart sci-fi drama never found a huge audience on TV, it found an incredibly loyal one on Blu-ray, On Demand, iTunes, etc. and those fans can now complete their collection with a bittersweet but complete fifth and final season release.

TV Review: Gordon Ramsay Returns with Nicer ‘Masterchef’ on FOX

CHICAGO – “Masterchef,” starring Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich, and Graham Elliot, returns tonight, May 22, 2013 at 7pm with a two-hour premiere that hints at a kinder, gentler season, in keeping with the general trend of these shows.

TV Review: ABC Gives Canadian ‘Motive’ to Mystery Fans

CHICAGO – I know — Another mystery show, right? When do we grow tired of mystery after mystery? Other cultures have to be amazed at our obsession with murder and the people who solve crimes. While I feel no genre is more glutted with filler than this one, ABC’s “Motive,” an import from Canada a la “Rookie Blue” and “Flashpoint,” isn’t half bad. It has a strong cast and decent mystery plotting.

TV Review: FOX Buries ‘The Goodwin Games’ For Good Reason

The Goodwin Games

CHICAGO – “The Goodwin Games” is bad, bad, bad. You know a show is likely to be awful when a network cuts back the order and buries its premiere in a time of year when most people are getting outside or going to see Summer blockbusters. While the networks are busy promoting Fall 2013 at Upfronts, who cares about a new show that won’t make it more than two months? And yet there is sometimes reason for hope that a network executive just missed the humor and is actually burying a hidden gem. Hope dies at “The Goodwin Games” and I wish they had buried it deeper.

TV Review: ‘Mel Brooks: Make a Noise’ Captures Comedy Genius

CHICAGO – I’m a huge Mel Brooks fan, one of those critics who bows at the altar of arguably the two best comedies of all time, “Blazing Saddles” & “Young Frankenstein.” I’ve seen them both a dozen times and can’t wait to watch them again.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Wonder Woman

    CHICAGO – There are few films in 2017 that are as historically important as they are cinematically well-crafted. Of those, there is only one I saw three times in theaters. That honor comes in the form of the revolutionary “Wonder Woman,” which not only shows huge promise for the future of DC Comics films but for comic book-based films as a whole.

  • Monica Raymund on set for 'Tanya'

    CHICAGOTV fans know Monica Raymund as paramedic Gabby Dawson on the long-running “Chicago Fire.” But the talented actor is expanding her range, debuting her first film as director, “Tanya,” at the Midwest Independent Film Festival on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017. The short film – written by Sam Forman – will be part of “Female Filmmakers Night” at the Midwest Indie, and is part of Raymund’s involvement with Hidden Tears Project, an organization dedicated to raising consciousness by creating media on gender inequality, sexual abuse and human trafficking.

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