Tuesday, July 31, 2007
TV EYE-July 07
Big muscles, big head, small talkfest
Henry Rollins is just one of the guys, big muscles, big head and all, you just love or hate. I dug Henry as the lead singer for Black Flag, didn’t like ‘em as much as the main yowler for his own semi-metal band. I found Henry a bit tiresome as a spoken word guy, but I truly dig him as the host of his own quirky talkfest, The Henry Rollins Show (IFC Channel, Fridays at 11:00 PM). Henry,in the midst of his second season as an IFC host, always clad in black, muscles rippling, neck bigger than Kansas, begins the half hour show with some quickie pontificating and Bush-bashing, sometimes ceding a few minutes to Janeane Garofalo, then it’s an interview with the likes of Marilyn Manson, William Shatner, Joan Jett or Christopher Walken, and then a performance from (so far this season) The Stooges, Robyn Hitchcock, Bob Mould, Shane MacGowan, Billy Bragg. As much as a know-it-all that Henry is, his wit and smarts, combined with the rather amusing fact that’s he’s a true blue pop culture fan (and often a fawning one) make his interviews quite fresh and revealing. The show’s thirty minutes fly right by, with Rollins basically occupying the same seat as Mike Meyer’s fictional creation in Wayne’s World, just add in a bigger head, many more muscles, and an actual popcult track record.
The USA Network as added yet another crime-solver to it’s entertainment-light pairing of Monk and Psych with Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Western, a spy guy cast away by his government agency in Burn Notice (Thursdays at 10:00 PM). Set amidst the warm saturated colors and hard bodies of oh-so-familiar Miami, Burn Notice is a well-done bit of summer fluff, part MacGyver, part Magnum, a thoroughly tongue-in-cheek drama replete with bikini bottoms in the background and the bruised mock tough guy in the foreground.. Donovan, a GQ-type with a deadpan manner, is both disabled and abetted by ex-IRA member ex-girlfriend (the fetching Gabrielle Anwar), by a slightly over-the-hill ex-spy party boy (done up by cult fave Bruce Campbell), and a nagging Mom (inhabited by Sharon Gless in tough gal mode). Donovan’s burned spy delivers a steady stream voice-over ripostes, all wry eyewinks and spy-vs.-spy pearls of wisdom, and the show glides through it’s appointed time like a sweet summer cocktail, no hassle, no heavy lifting, just a touch of sipping and the resulting contented smile.
The tag line for the SCIFI Channel’s Eureka (Tuesdays at 9:00 PM, Wednesdays at 12:00 PM), “Small town, big secret”, sums up its whimsical tone adeptly. Starting up its second season, it’s small-scale shaggy dog tale with just the right mix of eye-winking drama and sci-fi humor. Following the well worn premise of the comic outsider, the show follows an everyman sheriff and his comely teen daughter who fall upon a hidden away Smalltown, USA, that is actually a government think tank peopled with science geeks and other geniuses all in the process of inventing invisibility rays and high-tech weaponry, in between chomping down corndogs in an erstwhile Rockwell setting. The straight guy is played by Canadian actor Colin Ferguson, and he does dramedy with panache, aptly sustaining the series’ overall tongue-in-cheek tone, sort of Bradbury-light.
TNT’s The Closer (Mondays at 9:00 PM) hits its third season in a nice stride—well oiled, easy watchin’, and effortlessly coasting on the acting fumes of Kyra Sedgwick’s buoyant, quirky, occasionally off-putting, and thoroughly hamboned personality. Sedgewick, as Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson, a southern belle three-quarters toasted serving as a squad leader and all-star interrogator for the LAPD, is a pussy cat on a hot slate roof, all neurotic tics, school marm attired, and honey-suckled-persona disguising a rock-hard cop’s persona, has the making of a TV icon located somewhere Matlock and Columbo. The Closer’s crimes don’t matter, the clues don’t matter, and the denouement is secondary, to Sedgwick-as-Chief Johnson’s interaction with her skeptical-but-competent crew (excellent ensemble cast, highlighted by G.W. Bailey and Anthony John Denison as the rough-edged coppers and Corey Reynolds as the right hand man) and her eventual psychological/verbal showdown with the villain-of-the-week.