Archive for the ‘FX’ Category

From Trump to Zorn, It Was Four Days of TV Fun

September 9, 2016


Four blogs for a four-day week: (top) New comedies on FX, "Son of Zorn" on Fox; (bottom) Trump-Clinton non-debate, 9/11 remembered. Read them all, below.

Four blogs for a four-day week: (top) New comedies on FX, “Son of Zorn” on Fox; (bottom) Trump-Clinton non-debate, 9/11 remembered. Read them all, below.


NEW YORK, Sept. 9, 2016 — In just four days, the MediaPost TV blog managed to review two new comedies on FX (they weren’t funny) and one new comedy on Fox (it was just weird); tried to make sense of the Trump-Clinton non-debate on NBC; and just said no to 9/11 commemorative specials. Read all four blogs right here:

Tuesday, Sept. 6: So-Called ‘Comedies’ On FX Contain No Laughs Of Any Kind

Wednesday, Sept. 7: In Fall Season’s Weirdest Show, Animated Warrior Takes Up Residence in California

Thursday, Sept. 8: Postmortem On Odd Non-Debate On NBC: So Who Won?

Friday, Sept. 9: Here We Go Again: Every Year At 9/11 Time, TV Overdoes It

Contact Adam Buckman:

Read Adam Buckman’s book: “JERK: How I Wasted My Life Watching Television” … Read a sample on his Amazon book page HERE … Then order it today!

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Where the Action Is: This Week’s MediaPost Blogs

February 5, 2016
All in one week: "Downton Abbey," O.J. Simpson, Bernie Madoff, "Grease" and a bearded foodie named Action.

All in one week: “Downton Abbey,” O.J. Simpson, Bernie Madoff, “Grease” and a bearded foodie named Action.


NEW YORK, Feb. 5, 2016 — It was a very action-packed week of TV with column topics ranging from “Downton Abbey” and O.J. Simpson to Bernie Madoff and an f-word spewing foodie named Action Bronson. Read all five of my MediaPost TV blogs from the past week, right here:

Monday, Feb. 1: The Fall Of The House Of Downton

Tuesday, Feb. 2: The Juice Is Loose: FX Makes A Great Miniseries About O.J.

Wednesday, Feb. 3: Weeknight At Bernie’s: ABC Miniseries Tackles The Madoff Saga

Thursday, Feb. 4: Regular Ol’ Commercial TV Took Center Stage This Week

Friday, Feb. 5: Viceland Title Continues TV’s Campaign To Mainstream The F-Word

Contact Adam Buckman:

Read Adam Buckman’s book: “JERK: How I Wasted My Life Watching Television” … Read a sample on his Amazon book page HERE … Then order it today!

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‘X-Files’ Redo, FX Clown Comedy Both Disappoint

January 22, 2016
This week's MediaPost TV blogs covered the annual NATPE programming conference, a new A&E reality show, Conan O'Brien, Zach Galifianakis and "The X-Files."

This week’s MediaPost TV blogs covered the annual NATPE programming conference, a new A&E reality show, Conan O’Brien, Zach Galifianakis and “The X-Files.”


NEW YORK, Jan. 22, 2016 — This week’s MediaPost blogs ranged from clowns (“Baskets,” Conan O’Brien) to outer-space aliens (“The X-Files”). Read all five of this week’s blogs, with these links:

Monday, Jan. 18: Syndicator-Station Relationship No Longer Center Stage At NATPE Show

Tuesday, Jan. 19: In New Show, Trainers Gain Weight Just To Feel Empathy For Obese Clients

Wednesday, Jan. 20: Rediscovering Conan O’Brien, The Last Real Late-Night Host

Thursday, Jan. 21: ‘Baskets’ On FX: The Clown Comedy That Forgot To Be Funny

Friday, Jan. 22: Was This ‘X-Files’ Reunion Necessary? The Answer Is: No, It Wasn’t

Contact Adam Buckman:

Read Adam Buckman’s book: “JERK: How I Wasted My Life Watching Television” … Read a sample on his Amazon book page HERE … Then order it today!

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‘Dancing’ to ‘Fargo’: This Week’s MediaPost Blogs

November 28, 2015
Presenting this week's MediaPost TV blogs: Read 'em all with the links, below.

Presenting this week’s MediaPost TV blogs: Read ’em all with the links, below.


NEW YORK, Nov. 27, 2015 — The MediaPost TV blog ranged widely this Thanksgiving week from outer space (“The Expanse”) to the high plains (“Fargo”). Read all four of this week’s blogs, right here:

Monday, Nov. 23: Space Show’s Online, VOD Premiere Is The Stuff Of Science Fiction

Tuesday, Nov. 24: Hey, P.R. People, Could You At Least Spell The Star’s Name Right?

Wednesday, Nov. 25: ‘Dancing With The Stars’ And The Triumph Of Uplifting TV

Friday, Nov. 27: Seven Episodes Into Season Two, ‘Fargo’ Is TV Storytelling At Its Best

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‘Fargo’ Is Year’s Best Show: This Week’s TV Blogs

October 16, 2015
From 'Fargo' to Trump: Presenting this week's MediaPost TV blogs -- links below.

From ‘Fargo’ to Trump: Presenting this week’s MediaPost TV blogs — links below.

NEW YORK, Oct. 16, 2015 — I’m usually much too jaded to declare a TV show to be “the best” of anything, but the new “Fargo” on FX was an exception this week — the best show I’ve seen so far this year. I reviewed the premiere on Monday, then previewed adman Donny Deutsch’s new sitcom (it didn’t fare as well), critiqued ABC Family’s name-change to Freeform, reviewed a new NBC sitcom and weighed in on Donald Trump. Read all five of this week’s MediaPost TV blogs, with these links:

Monday, Oct. 12: Extraordinary ‘Fargo’ Makes Case For Best Show Of The Year

Tuesday, Oct. 13: Adman Turns Sitcom Star: First Look At Deutsch’s New Show ‘Donny!’

Wednesday, Oct. 14: Anatomy Of A Name Change: ABC Family Goes ‘Freeform’

Thursday, Oct. 15: ‘Truth Be Told’: New NBC Sitcom Is The Bland Leading The Bland

Friday, Oct. 16: Trump On ‘SNL’: His Whole Life Is A Satire

— Adam Buckman

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Leno Rips Third-Place Kimmel: This Week’s Blogs

October 9, 2015
Another week comes to a close: This week's blog topics included Jimmy Kimmel, Jay Leno (twice), Lady Gaga in "American Horror Story" and a new musical comedy series on the CW. Read 'em all, below.

Another week comes to a close: This week’s blog topics included Jimmy Kimmel, Jay Leno (twice), Lady Gaga in “American Horror Story” and a new musical comedy series on the CW. Read ’em all, below.

NEW YORK, Oct. 9, 2015 — Jay Leno roared back onto TV this week with a new car show on CNBC and, in the process, he ran right over Jimmy Kimmel. Read all about that below. Also, Lady Gaga under-performed in “American Horror Story,” while Rachel Bloom gave the new season’s best performance in “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (premiering next week). Click on the links, right here:

Monday, Oct. 5: Kimmel Hides Behind Beard As NY Rivals Grab Late-Night Limelight

Tuesday, Oct. 6: On New Show, Leno’s A Comedian In Cars – But He’s Not Getting Coffee

Wednesday, Oct. 7: New ‘American Horror Story’ Is Meaningless Exercise In Gratuitous Bloodletting

Thursday, Oct. 8: A Q&A With Jay: Leno On Kimmel, Fallon, Colbert And Letterman

Friday, Oct. 9: CW’s ‘Crazy’ Idea: An Hour-Long Musical Comedy About A Stalker

— Adam Buckman

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From Disney to The Donald: This Week’s TV Blogs

September 18, 2015
From Walt Disney to Andy Samberg: Presenting this week's MediaPost TV blogs -- links below.

Presenting this week’s MediaPost TV blogs — links below.

NEW YORK, Sept. 18, 2015 — This week’s MediaPost TV blogs spanned the centuries — from the 14th (“The Bastard Executioner”) to the 20th (“American Experience: Walt Disney”) to the present day (“Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris”).

In between, there was time (and space) to consider NBC’s plan to replace Donald Trump with Arnold Schwarzenegger on “The Celebrity Apprentice” and to write a piece declaring the total victory of television on the eve of a new fall season. The thesis of that one: If TV is everywhere, then TV has won, right?

Read ’em all right here with the links below.

Monday, Sept. 14: Everyone In Media Should Watch This Four-Star Disney Documentary

Tuesday, Sept. 15: Middle Age Crisis: The Agony And The Anarchy Of ‘The Bastard Executioner’

Wednesday, Sept. 16: Your Show Of Shows: NBC’s ‘Best Time Ever’ Exceeds Expectations

Thursday, Sept. 17: You’re Terminated! Austrian Immigrant Replacing Trump On ‘Celebrity Apprentice’

Friday, Sept. 18: Smells Like Victory: On Eve Of A New Fall Season, TV Is Everywhere

— Adam Buckman

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Wide World of Television: From Caitlyn to ‘Daisy’

July 17, 2015
Caitlyn Jenner earned two blog posts (out of a possible five) this week. Read 'em both, and the other three, all available via the links, below.

Caitlyn Jenner earned two blog posts (out of a possible five) this week. Read ’em both, and the other three, all available via the links, below.

NEW YORK, July 17, 2015 — This week, the MediaPost TV blog ranged from Denis Leary’s new rock ‘n’ roll comedy on FX — “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll” (I didn’t like it so much) — to “Driving Miss Daisy,” starring Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones (I liked this very much). In between, two posts this week attempted to gauge the impact of Caitlyn Jenner on the rest of us, and one post reviewed “Tut,” the Spike miniseries that starts Sunday.

They were all part of the wide world of TV this week. Read all five of my MediaPost blogs from the past week, with these links:

Monday, July 13: Shock Volume Doesn’t Quite Reach 11 in Leary Rock-Star Comedy

Tuesday, July 14: From ‘I Am Jazz’ To ‘I Am Cait,’ It’s A Trans-Formative Time For TV

Wednesday, July 15: Walk Like An Egyptian: Spike’s ‘Tut’ Struts His Stuff

Thursday, July 16: Media Cheers Caitlyn, But Will Ad Biz Embrace Transgender Trend?

Friday, July 17: Don’t Miss ‘Daisy’: Sit Back And Leave The ‘Driving’ To PBS

— Adam Buckman

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Week in Review: MediaPost Rundown 3/23-3/27

March 27, 2015
From "Mad Men" (top left) to "My 600-lb Life" (bottom), that was the week that was.

From “Mad Men” (top left) to “My 600-lb Life” (bottom), that was the week that was.

NEW YORK, March 27, 2015 — Catch up with all of my MediaPost TV blogs from this past week (March 23-27) with these links:

Monday, March 23: First Impressions: Inside the Upcoming Season Premiere of ‘Mad Men’

Tuesday, March 24: James Corden: How’d He Do In His Debut on ‘The Late Late Show’ on CBS?

Wednesday, March 25: Famous People in Peril! Bill O’Reilly Tells Letterman that ‘Destroying’ Celebrities Is Popular ‘Sport’ in the U.S.

Thursday, March 26: FX’s ‘Louie,’ ‘The Comedians’ Are TV’s New Gold Standard Of Comedy

Friday, March 27: From Morbid Obesity To A Bearded Lady: The Weird World Of TLC

— Adam Buckman

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Lotta people getting their heads blown off on TV

March 18, 2014


NEW YORK, March 18, 2014 — It’s a sweeping generalization to be sure, but I’ll say it anyway:

When you get right down to it, TV today can be boiled down to this: It’s a lot of people getting their heads blown off.

Charlie Hunnam in "Sons of Anarchy."

Charlie Hunnam in “Sons of Anarchy.”

Hey, maybe I watch too many violent TV shows, but recently when I encountered yet another blood-splattered scene featuring a bullet administered to another person’s forehead, I had an epiphany.  The thought that occurred to me was this: I’ve seen so many of these forehead-busting gunshots on TV that I don’t even think about them anymore.

Of course, I was thinking about it then, but that’s the point.  I’ve seen so many of them that it came as a surprise to be giving the subject a second thought.  And I wondered: How many heads blown off have I actually seen in a lifetime of watching television?

The scene that triggered this line of thinking was one that occurred in a recent episode of “The Americans” on FX.  That’s the series about Soviet spies who are embedded in the Washington suburbs in the final years of the Cold War in the 1980s.  This particular skull-shattering pistol shot occurred after a mini-massacre in the back room of a restaurant.  The victim was a hapless busboy who had the misfortune to still be hanging around at work.  Well, the gunman — the spy named Phillip played by Matthew Rhys — took one look at this would-be witness cowering in a corner and without substantial hesitation splattered the poor guy’s brains all over the kitchen wall.

I don’t mean to pick on “The Americans” or even FX in particular, but it just so happens that FX is where these shots to the head seem to be administered the most frequently and, it bears mentioning, the most casually.  Jax Teller, the motorcycle club president played by Charlie Hunnam on “Sons of Anarchy,” has emerged as TV’s champion of the casual headshot.  Sure, Jax is an unpredictable character, but this was one aspect of his personality that became predictable last season: Often when you did not expect it, Jax would suddenly produce a gun and blow someone’s brains out, instantly solving whatever complicated “problem” he was trying to work through.

What’s the point?  Just this — and stop me if you’ve heard this one before (because I’ve written variations on it many times): Violence on TV has become so gruesome that frequently seeing people shot in the head (with the resultant gore blasting from the backs of their skulls and onto walls, lamps and draperies) isn’t even shocking anymore.

There has to be something wrong with that, right?

Contact Adam Buckman:

Hard at work, always, writing about television

July 17, 2012

L-r: Charlie Sheen, “GMA’s” Robin Roberts, Ann Curry, Anderson Cooper, Sigourney Weaver (Photos: FX, ABC, NBC, CNN, USA Network)

NEW YORK, July 17, 2012 — A note about TV Howl: Yes, I realize my contributions here are sporadic at best, but that’s because I do most of my writing for the Comcast Web site known as

My up-to-the-minute archive there can be accessed HERE, in case any visitor here at TV Howl is interested.

Recent topics have included Charlie Sheen, the “Today Show” mess, the USA Network miniseries “Political Animals,” NBC’s “Community,” Anderson Cooper and, well, just about everything that’s been going on lately in the TV biz.

As always, thank you for visiting TV Howl.  And now, back to work.

Adam Buckman

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‘Rescue Me’ finale: Leary series goes out on top

September 8, 2011

R.I.P. Lt. Lou Shea: John Scurti in “Rescue Me” — his character was eulogized, hilariously, on the series finale Wednesday (Photo: FX)


NEW YORK, Sept. 8, 2011 — Tommy Gavin didn’t die.  Instead, it was Lou, his best friend and perhaps the most likable of all the characters on “Rescue Me.”

A tragedy to end the firefighters’ series run?  Yes, but not completely.  Though Lou’s death was certainly tragic, leaving all of his surviving colleagues to question their futures in the New York City Fire Department, most of the one-hour series finale seen on FX Wednesday night played like a comedy.

That happened to be this show’s signature: Premiering in July 2004 and ending its run this week as the nation prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, “Rescue Me” at its heart was a drama about one New York firefighter’s reaction to the loss of 343 FDNY brethren in the collapse of the Twin Towers that day in 2001.  That’s a weighty subject, to be sure, but since that firefighter, Tommy, was played by comedian Denis Leary (who also co-created, co-wrote and co-produced the series), much of the series was given over to Leary’s dark sense of humor.

Such was the case in the finale Wednesday night titled “Ashes.”  The ashes in the title were all that remained of sweet Lou (played to perfection for all seven seasons by John Scurti) after he was killed a week earlier in a warehouse fire (the location recognizable to all who ride the New York subway system’s elevated No. 7 train through Long Island City in Queens).  The collapse of that building left the survival of any of the firefighters in question leading into the finale.

And as the final episode began, it seemed as if at least five of them had succumbed.  But no — it was a dream conjured by Gavin, a dream in which Lou was seen eulogizing the five men with a rousing speech about the nature of firefighting — a grand piece of screen-writing, by the way, as was much of this final episode.

Certainly, it had been speculated that Tommy himself would be among the dead — a novel and striking way to end a series: Having the all-important main character, who’d been seen in virtually every scene of the show for seven years, get killed off.

But it was Lou who died, and his sendoff was a masterpiece, particularly in the choreography of the sequence in which two windows in Tommy’s SUV were opened simultaneously — because Tommy ordered Franco and Black Shawn to toss out their chewing gum — and the sudden cross-ventilation caused Lou’s ashes to suddenly explode out of their box, covering driver, passengers and the entire interior of the vehicle with his earthly remains.

Then, in a perfectly balanced combination of sentiment and black comedy, Tommy poignantly read a letter left to him by Lou (in case of Lou’s death), and then tossed his “ashes” — actually a box of Betty Crocker cake mix that Lou’s brethren bought at the 11th hour to stand in for his ashes — over a cliff and into the sea (it looked like Long Island Sound).

Other scenes were laden with comedy too, such as the scene where Tommy, contemplating life as an FDNY retiree, battles with a group of parents at a politically correct playground (filmed in lower Manhattan’s Battery Park City, about half a block from the World Trade Center site) over the sharing of kids’ toys in the sandbox.  Forget about “Rescue Me” — that was like a scene out of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” only better.

In the end, Tommy didn’t retire, but nor did he assume Lou’s lieutenant’s role, which was his right as senior firefighter in the house.  Instead, he let the promotion go to the gung-ho Franco.

As the episode came to a close, Franco and Tommy were seen exhorting a group of new FDNY recruits on the meaning of belonging to a select group of people of run toward and into burning buildings when everyone else is running out and away from them.

In the show’s touching last scene, Tommy was seen behind the wheel of his SUV having a jovial conversation with an old friend seated in the passenger seat — the ghost of Lou.

This episode was one of the best-written episodes of any single TV show seen in years.  Our hope for Leary and his team is that they get recognized for it.

Dennis Leary in “Rescue Me” (Photo: FX)

Contact Adam Buckman:

Read Adam Buckman’s book: “JERK: How I Wasted My Life Watching Television” … Read a sample on his Amazon book page HERE … Then order it today!

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Hard-boiled hicks: ‘Justified’ and ‘Breaking Bad’

March 31, 2010

Timothy Olyphant plays an old-fashioned marshall in a new-fangled world on “Justified.” Photo: FX


NEW YORK, March 31, 2010 — It grows tiresome to watch all the cops, robbers, lawyers and doctors conducting their fictionalized business in the TV shows based in the big cities — L.A., New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, even Philadelphia (“Cold Case”).

So it comes as a relief when TV’s fictional crime wave spreads outward from the nation’s densest population centers to other areas that have long been under-represented in the cops-and-crime canon.

Two examples: “Justified,” which just started its first season on FX, and “Breaking Bad,” AMC’s homely series, now in its third season, about TV’s most unlikely hero, a low-paid schoolteacher with cancer who takes up a new trade as a methamphetamine manufacturer.

The two shows are exploring seamy underworlds rarely visited by TV show-runners and their production crews.  “Justified” (Tuesday nights at 10 eastern time on FX) brings the ethos of old movie westerns to the backwoods of rural Kentucky, where the bad guys are white supremacists involved in the drug trade.  And “Breaking Bad” (Sunday nights at 10 and 11 eastern on AMC) takes place in New Mexico, around Albuquerque, in suburban housing tracts where the primary color is brown — from the houses to the packed dry earth.

Bryan Cranston in “Breaking Bad.”

In fact, this season, the environs of “Breaking Bad” seem even browner than usual as if a decision was made to affix brown filters to every camera.  If the visuals seem darker, it might be because the show is exploring some dark dramatic territory — setting up the season’s storyline against the backdrop of a horrific airline accident that spread a grotesque debris field of airplane pieces and human flesh over the community where this show’s cancer-ridden anti-hero, Walter White (Bryan Cranston), lives and teaches high school chemistry.

As the season began, Walt’s meth business is on hold and he is estranged from his wife.  In addition, he is in the crosshairs of a pair of tough twin hitmen from Mexico who are apparently on a mission of revenge having to do with the killing last season of their cousin, the drug dealer Tuco.

Who needs big cities?  As they crossed the border into the U.S., the twins murdered an entire truckload of migrants and burned their bodies on a stretch of road in the middle of nowhere — demonstrating that the emptiest geography in the whole world, even baking in the glare of the daytime sun, can be a lot more menacing than a dark alley between city buildings at night.

Meanwhile, the rural Kentucky of “Justified” resembles the semi-lawless towns of movie westerns — the ones that always represented the borderline between unchecked savagery and civilization and were patrolled by a lone soul sworn to establish order.

While the U.S. marshall of “Justified” is not exactly on the job by himself (he’s a member of a well-staffed regional office of U.S. marshalls), he goes about his business as if he’s Gary Cooper in “High Noon.”   In the show, U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens gets reassigned, following a fatal shooting in Miami, to the rural region of Kentucky where he grew up.  Timothy Olyphant plays this guy in pretty much the same way he played a marshall on HBO’s “Deadwood” — as a man of few words, who engages his quarries with a piercing stare, and who has a tendency toward maneuvering bad guys into confrontations that usually end with him shooting them.

This kind of show lives or dies on the quality of those confrontations.  And so far, some of the confrontation scenes seem better choreographed than others, which is to say that these key scenes are not always providing maximum satisfaction.  Still, for reasons having to do with this show’s unusual locale and the hard-to-peg magnetism of its star, I have somehow become hooked enough to watch every episode that FX has provided so far.

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