Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – A Pretty Little Teenage Mystery

Let me begin by saying that I have the best friend and writing partner in Amber West.  With the Kindle release of Football Sweetheart last week, Amber suggested that we use this week’s Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday to promote my book.  While I don’t want to force my story down everyone’s throats by talking about it every day, as a self-published writer it is my duty to market the book as much as I can.

First, a little something about Football Sweetheart

Aimee Freeman is looking forward to the start of her senior year.  She knows her best friend Ella has been keeping secrets from her all summer long, but with football season right around the corner, the student trainer decides not to worry about it—they’ll have plenty of time to catch up on the field.

Then Ella goes missing, and Aimee realizes those secrets might be the key to finding her.  As the case unfolds, Aimee discovers more than one person may have wanted to harm Ella.  Was it Ella’s current boyfriend, a social outcast the entire city seems intent on blaming for her disappearance?  Or her ex-boyfriend, the beloved star quarterback who has harassed Ella since their breakup?  The list of potential suspects continues to grow after Aimee reads Ella’s journal, but she must first break her best friend’s secret code to reveal their identities.

Unbeknownst to Aimee, her investigation has not gone unnoticed.  Ella’s abductor is watching and waiting.  Will he decide Aimee needs to be silenced—making her the next target?

So, which television series could Amber and I review this week where the specific TV audiences might actually enjoy reading Football Sweetheart as well?  Well, it’s Young Adult and a mystery, so Pretty Little Liars came to mind.  I’ve already reviewed PLL once on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday, but I enjoy the teenage drama so much that I selected it… again.

And for Amber?  Well, what says West Texas High School Football more than Friday Night Lights?  Yea, that’s what I thought…

So, sit back, relax, and enjoy our special Football Sweetheart edition of Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday…

*****

The insurgence of YA mystery on TV receives a DVR priority in this Young Adult mystery writer’s house.   Thankfully, ABC Family provides young mystery lovers (and some of us “old”) with a few great soap-opera style whodunits with Pretty Little Liars topping the list.

Alison DiLaurentis

The series begins when Alison DiLaurentis’ (Sasha Pieterse) remains are found a year after her mysterious disappearance in the fictional town of Rosewood.  This event brings together her four former best friends who had drifted apart following that fateful night.  Alison was the glue that held the girls together, the leader of the high school clique.  As the episodes progress, viewers see Alison’s viciousness and many of the secrets that she holds over everyone’s heads—is she not a nice girl, or is she simply misunderstood?

After attending Alison’s funeral, the four friends reunite outside the chapel when each of their cell phones sound—they’ve received their first threatening text message from “A”—a the mystery begins: Who killed Alison? And, who is “A”?

Aria Montgomery

PLL #1 – Aria Montgomery (Lucy Hale) returns home from a year abroad with her family, and forgetting she’s a teenager and back in America, goes to a local bar where she meets Ezra Fitz (Ian Harding).  The two immediately hit it off and share a kiss after connecting over their love for literature.  The next day at school, Aria walks into English class where she discovers Ezra is also her teacher.

Meanwhile, emotions erupt at home when her mother (Ella Montgomery, played by Holly Marie Combs) leaves her father after discovering the true reason behind the family’s extended absence from Rosewood—Aria’s father, a professor, had an affair with a teaching assistant at the local college.  Aria and Alison knew this secret prior to the Montgomeries’ extended vacation, having spotted Mr. Montgomery (Chad Lowe) making out with his TA in his car.  Whoopsie!

Isn’t it ironic that Aria now begins a torrid love affair and dates her teacher after torturing her father for a similar inappropriate relationship?  “A” won’t let Aria forget it…

Hanna Marin

PLL #2 – Hanna Marin (Ashley Benson) replaced Alison as the most popular girl in school following her friend’s disappearance.  “Hefty Hanna”—as Alison liked to call her—dropped her baby fat, partnered with her new BFF Mona (Janel Parrish) and took to a life of brattiness and shoplifting.

Hanna lacks the self-confidence a young woman needs, having watched her father walk out on her and her mother.  She spirals out of control, throwing herself at her boyfriend, only to be rejected.  Not helping matters, Hanna watches as her single mother (Ashley Marin, played by Laura Leighton) bails her out of trouble by bedding the detective on Hanna’s shoplifting case.

Hanna really has the worst luck—she wrecks her boyfriend’s car, and she is involved in a hit and run when she gets dangerously close to discovering “A’s” real identity.  When Mona throws her a surprise “glad you’re alive party,” someone steals all of the money (assumedly “A”) that Hanna’s mother stole from a client at the bank.  And, while following “A’s” sordid trail back to the money, Hanna falls for the wrong boy—who happens to be feeding information to the girls’ nemesis, Jenna Marshall (Tammin Sursok)—and who of course later turns out to be the right boy for her anyway (Caleb, played by Tyler Blackburn).

Spencer Hastings

PLL #3 – Spencer Hastings (Troian Bellisario) is the poor-little-rich-girl of the bunch.  Spencer’s successful parents push her to be the absolute best, much like they did with her older sister Melissa (Torrey DeVitto).  Spencer is brilliant, but plays second fiddle to her sister, always aware that her parents favor Melissa.  To retaliate, Spencer kisses her sister’s boyfriend and then later kisses her new fiancé.  Matters only get worse for Spencer when Melissa surprises the Hastings family by abruptly marrying her boyfriend right after calling off her previous engagement.

Spencer begins to investigate her new brother-in-law, and slowly uncovers an affair between him and Alison that happened just before Alison’s disappearance.  As she continues to investigate, Spencer believes that her new brother-in-law not only stalked her best friend but also killed her, causing the rift between Spencer and her sister to intensify.

Now a suspect herself in Alison’s murder, Spencer befriends Toby Cavanaugh (Keegan Allen) who also happened to serve time in jail briefly as the main suspect in Alison’s death.  Did I mention that Toby is also the half-brother of Jenna?  Toby knows just how deceiving and manipulative his sister can be….is Jenna “A”?

Emily Fields

PLL #4 – Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell) is the daughter of a military father always away on assignment who is confused with her own sexuality.  She starts the series with a boyfriend but then falls for the new girl in town, sending her mother (Nia Peeples) into a tailspin.  Making even more of a splash, Emily takes Toby Cavanaugh to the homecoming dance as her date trying to hide the fact that she’s gay.  The fact that Emily doesn’t totally believe in Toby’s innocence, like the rest of the town, leads to a dangerous encounter—only one of many.

After accepting that she is a homosexual, Emily is further devastated when her girlfriend is sent away to military school after marijuana is found inside her back pack.  Emily’s world continues to turn upside down when her mother announces that they’re leaving Rosewood to live with her father who is stationed in Texas.  Meanwhile, Emily holds the key to the photo evidence the girls have uncovered on her home computer (evidence they believe links back to Alison’s killer) which conveniently gets erased when the realtor shows the Fields’ house.

And the texts begin…

Each of the girls has oodles of conflict surrounding them individually, even without “A’s” threatening their every move (there’s so much more that I didn’t mention).  Throw in the suspicions the police and their parents have regarding their involvement in Alison’s murder, and the lies they continuously try to hide despite “A’s” best efforts, and Pretty Little Liars doesn’t bore its viewers—it has twists and turns week in and week out.

And the suspicions…

Season two ended with the huge unveiling of “A” — but is it really her?

I have my suspicions that the incorrect identification of “A” is just another twist masterfully planned by the real “A”—confused yet?

And the fear…

In my last Why It’s Worth a Watch review of Pretty Little Liars, I give the girls and the mystery a MacTV rating.  But after watching as many episodes as I have to date, I have to upgrade the review to a GTV rating.   Despite the fact that I’m in my thirties, I tune in every single week to watch these little teenagers scurry around playing detective, trying their best to solve their BFF’s murder, and discover the true identity of the creepy texter known only as “A”.   The on going, soap-opera style series is one of my favorites on TV today.  Open up a glass of wine, plate your perfectly cooked filet with a side of grilled veggies, and enjoy the mystery!

What do you think? Do you watch Pretty Little Liars?  How would you rate it?  Who’s your favorite character?  Have you read any of Sara Shephard’s books?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and see what she thinks about the hugely successful Friday Night Lights.  She’s not big on football; she’s not from Texas; and, yet, somehow she’s already on season three…  See, that Texas High School Football is big—regardless of where you’re from!

Come back next week when Amber and I begin the 2012 Tamberny Awards…

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

And if you watch Pretty Little Liars, or if the idea of a West Texas high school mystery appeals to you, be sure to check out my book, Football Sweetheartnow available on Kindle!

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Tele-Tuesday: Politics – Drama and Comedy

This weekend, I watched the pilot episode of USA’s new miniseries, Political Animals.  The word “politics” is a double-edged sword for me; I know that as an adult, understanding the politics of our respective countries is important, but mostly it does nothing more than frustrate me.  Maybe the networks recognize that politics upsets many viewers, thus the insane amount of police procedurals and medical dramas and lack of political series on the boob tube currently.  When I think TV and politics today, only one show comes to mind—Scandal—and its more drama than politics.

Until now.

If not evident from my earlier summer posts, I love the USA Network.  And when I saw the previews for the new miniseries, Political Animals, and saw the star-studded cast, I knew that I’d have to give it a try.  Now, I didn’t watch it live; I don’t really watch any TV live, unless it’s a sporting event.  But I did add the new drama to my DVR queue and watched it seven days after its original air date.

So what is Political Animals?  Let’s start with this question: who does everyone think of when we say former First Lady and current Secretary of State?  Did everyone answer Sigourney Weaver?

Secretary of State Elaine Barrish (with son Douglas in the background)

In the new six-part miniseries, Sigourney Weaver plays Elaine Barrish, a recently divorced former First Lady and current Secretary of State fighting to keep her family and her insane position in the U.S. government intact.  I think we all know who this sounds like, but let me add that Ms. Weaver herself has stated on talk shows that she is not playing Secretary Clinton.  Plus, the Barrish family is not the Clinton family, nor is it any one particular former President’s family.  Instead, the creators took bits and pieces from many different White House families, as well as created a fictional component, and the Barrish clan was born.

The USA network is known for its characters and Political Animals is no different.  Elaine Barrish is a strong, female lead.  She graduated first at her law school and received a ten-minute standing ovation after her commencement speech.  Despite her husband’s adulterous ways, she stood by her man throughout his political career (including his path from Governor to President of the United States).  And, most importantly, she more than challenged the Democratic male candidate throughout the presidential primary race before graciously stepping down.

Following her concession, Elaine asked her husband for a divorce.  It wasn’t until her separation from the former President that her popularity really soared with the American public, and the President-elect recognized this.  Secretary Barrish stated in the pilot episode that she did not want to be the country’s senior-most official dealing in foreign policies, but when the President of the United States calls for you, you answer.

Strengths aside, Elaine Barrish also has her flaws and weaknesses.  When in a stressful situation, the Secretary lights up a cigarette.  I can’t remember the last time I saw a character light up on screen.  In the “olden” days, characters smoked on television all of the time—but not today.  Additionally, despite her divorcing the former President, Elaine still has the rare tendency to run back to him when the going gets tough.  Sometimes a person needs the familiar warmth of a loved one, former or current—it’s a human response.

Secretary Barrish with Susan Berg (Reporter) – Will these rivals become the closest of friends?

In addition to Ms. Weaver, Political Animals also stars: Carla Gugino, a reporter who hasn’t been kind to the Secretary over the years; Ciaran Hinds, the former President and the Secretary’s ex-husband; Adrian Pasdar, the current President; Dylan Baker, the current Vice President; James Wolk, the Secretary’s son and Chief of Staff; Sebastian Stan, the Secretary’s other son and first openly homosexual child in the White House; and Ellen Burstyn, the Secretary’s mother.  Now that’s a cast!

Besides the cast and characters, the series also has drama.

From a political standpoint, the Secretary works feverishly to save three American journalists falsely imprisoned and convicted in Iran as spies.  As if the scandal wasn’t enough, she learns that the President and his sleazy Chief of Staff have known about the Iranian government’s requests and tried to handle it on their own, without giving into the demands of the Iranian President.  Keep in mind, I have only watched the first episode…

From a personal standpoint, the Secretary’s family is not-so-perfect either.  We all know her husband has flaws—her main reason for divorcing him was his many years of infidelity and his ego.  The Secretary’s one son, played by James Wolk, seems perfect—he’s clean cut, extremely intelligent, and engaged to a beautiful woman.  His fiancé also seems perfect, but she is secretly battling her own demons with bulimia and her infuriation with her future husband’s loyalty to his mother.  And the Secretary’s other son, played by the adorable Sebastian Stan, attempted suicide a year earlier and the family covered it up—or so they thought.  Anyone in politics should know nothing is sacred, not even the near death of a child—not to the media anyway.  Additionally, he is addicted to drugs.  He’s been to AA and has a sponsor, but the recent refusal of his parents to fork over the cash for him to open a restaurant/bar, and the national coverage of his suicide attempt, has pushed him over the edge.

Along with the drama, Political Animals also has moments of pure comedic genius.  Bud Hammond (Ciaran Hinds) and Margaret Barrish (Ellen Burstyn) have some of the funniest lines on TV.  I watched this episode with my parents, and even my father asked which network we were watching—not because we’re prudes, we’re Texans and language does not offend us—but because the dialogue was definitely unusual considering television sensors today.

And speaking of dialogue, here is my favorite line from the pilot:

“Bitches don’t like to be called bitches. Us bitches don’t like that.”
~Elaine Barrish to Susan Berg (Carla Gugino) AND Susan Berg to her boyfriend’s mistress/blogger at The Globe.

I also really enjoyed it when the Secretary told her husband’s Secret Service Agents that if she was going to kill Bud (her ex-husband), she would have done it years ago.  I don’t remember the exact quote, so I’m paraphrasing, but I think everyone will understand and appreciate it just the same.  This line was quite funny when used in the context of the scene.

Secretary Barrish – will she be the next President of the United States?

Lastly, I want to mention one final aspect of the story that I truly appreciate—the attempt at bi-partisanship.  Despite the Secretary’s obvious affiliation to the Democratic Party (her husband was a Democratic President; she ran for President in the Democratic primary; and her dogs are named Teddy, Bobby, and Jack), she and her sons constantly reference Elaine Barrish’s love of elephants.  C’mon, we all know what the Republican Party’s symbol is… the elephant.

So considering the network, the casting, the characters, the drama, the comedy, the dialogue, and the attempt at bi-partisanship, I can’t wait to check back in for the remaining five episodes.  I’m kind of sad this is only a miniseries…

What do you think?  Have you watched Political Animals?  Do you want to?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to check out my YA Mystery novel, Football Sweetheart… now available on Kindle!

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Suspense & Stilettos

This week, Amber West and I review two female-driven dramas on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday—the short-lived Whedon series, Dollhouse, and TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles

What do we get when a Boston detective and her best friend/medical examiner solve crime together?  Two strong, female characters and plenty of laughs.  To be clear, these women aren’t perfect—they both have issues and insecurities—plus they are nothing alike.  But regardless, they make for one fun hour of television viewing.

First we have Detective Jane Rizzoli, played by Angie Harmon.

Detective Jane Rizzoli

Rizzoli hails from a working class family: her dad’s a plumber; her younger brother (Colin Egglesfield) has just been released from prison; and her other little brother (Jordan Bridges), who idolizes Rizzoli, is following in his sister’s footsteps, much to the dismay of their overbearing mom (the fabulous Lorraine Bracco).  She has been stalked, tortured, and scarred by serial killers; she doesn’t have much luck in the love department; and she’s trying to fit into a man’s world.  I know, I know; it’s 2012 and there are plenty of female officers on police forces across the country; but in Rizzoli’s case, her squadron is full of men.

Rizzoli & Isles – Jane and lil’ bro’ Frankie

Then we have Medical Examiner Maura Isles, played by Sasha Alexander.

Dr. Maura Isles

Isles was raised by her adopted parents (her mother is played by Jacqueline Bissett), where she learned to focus on her studies and adapted a fabulous sense of style.   How many medical examiners do you know who examine dead bodies and perform autopsies in stilettos?  Her biological father (John Doman) is a Boston mafia boss, a fact she learns after discovering that a corpse on her morgue table shares her DNA and was later identified as her brother.  Her biological mother (Sharon Lawrence) is a world-renowned doctor, who has invented scientific techniques to help identify victims.  But here’s the kicker—Isles’ biological father told her biological mother that baby Maura died at birth.  Of course, he did it for their protection, but still…

Friends Forever…

Regardless of their differences, the girls have each other.  Or at least they did—season two ended with Rizzoli shooting Isles’ dad.  Even though Isles has a difficult time admitting her true feelings for her biological father, he’s still her father.  Will their friendship survive?  Of course it will… it already has.  Sorry for the spoiler…

Frost & Korsak in pursuit…

The series, based on the novels by Tess Gerritsen, also stars Lee Thompson Young as Rizzoli’s new partner, Detective Frost, and Bruce McGill as Rizzoli’s former partner/senior detective, Vince Korsak.  Frost and Korsak are like salt and pepper—they complement each other beautifully,  but like Rizzoli and Isles, they are nothing alike.  Here lately, Frost spends most of his time in front of the computer and leads Rizzoli’s little brother, Frankie, around (he’s dying to get out of the uniform and become a detective), while Korsak works most of the cases by Rizzoli’s side.  Throw in Dr. Isles and Rizzoli’s mom, Angela, and this group really meshes together well.

Mamma Rizzoli…

If you liked Crossing Jordan, you’ll also like Rizzoli & IslesIf you liked Angie Harmon on Baywatch Nights, Law & Order, and/or the short-lived Women’s Mystery Club, you will love her as Jane Rizzoli.  If she wasn’t an actress, I might actually think Angie was in law enforcement.

The episodes are particularly fun when Rizzoli & Isles go undercover together…

So how does Rizzoli & Isles officially rank?  If I were rating the show in comparison to Dr. Maura Isles’ lifestyle, I’d say GTV.   But Rizzoli isn’t fine wine and gourmet meals… she’s more of a beer and sandwich kinda girl.  So, I’m going with the MacTV rating—pop open a beer, make a pastrami sandwich with au jus on the side, and boil some Shells-N-Cheese.  It’s probably not great for our cholesterol, but it sure tastes good goin’ down.. am I right?

The girls like their rating…

What do you think? Do you watch Rizzoli & Isles?  How would you rate it?  Who’s your favorite character?  Have you read any of Tess Gerritsen’s books?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and see what she thinks about Joss Whedon’s short-lived series, Dollhouse.

Come back next week when Amber and I review something..it’s summer time and the heat is taking a toll on our planning ahead.

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

And, remember to check out my YA Mystery novel, Football Sweetheart… now available on Kindle!

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Closing Cases with Southern Charm

This week, Amber West and I review two crime dramas on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday—the BBC’s Luther and TNT’s The Closer. 

The Closer follows Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) and the Major Case Squad as they solve L.A.’s worst crimes, while her FBI-agent/husband (Fritzy or Fritz Howard, played by Jon Tenney) provides his and the Bureau’s expertise to her team.

Brenda Leigh hails from the south, if not already evident by her accent, and has a very hard time hiding her emotions.  When she’s having a really bad day, she opens her desk drawer full of chocolate and digs in.  She possesses that southern charm we’ve grown to love over the years, and having been born and raised in Texas, I can personally attest to what Brenda Leigh actually means when she says, “Thank you, thank you very much.”  Kyra Sedgwick perfects the sarcasm so many southerners use in our daily vocabulary.

So how does a southern belle from Atlanta score the lead of an all-male major crime squad in Los Angeles?  Of course, there’s the fact that she had an affair with her boss way back in the day (Chief Pope, played by J.K. Simmons), but I’d like to think it’s because of her skills in the interrogation room—tactics that have proven to be better than anyone else, but that have also gotten her into a bit of trouble here and there.

Speaking of trouble… a few seasons ago, the L.A.P.D. issued a new mandate written in Brenda Leigh’s honor called The Johnson Rule, which states that no witness or suspect can be released from police custody without the proper protection if it is believed that his or her life may be in danger.  This came after Major Case, specifically Brenda Leigh, dropped a gang member suspected of murdering a local business man off in front of his house.  Moments later, an angry mob of other gang members waiting on the street killed him.  The murder led to a lawsuit against Brenda Leigh and the City of Los Angeles, thus the creation of The Johnson Rule, and Brenda Leigh’s constant shadowing by Captain Raydor (Mary McDonnell).

Regardless, Brenda Leigh has proven herself in case after case after case.  No one can convince a criminal to confess the way that Brenda Leigh can.

In addition to the drama, each show promises humor, and I find myself smiling at each episode’s end regardless of how gruesome their case.  Most of the fun centers on the interactions of her team: David Gabriel (Corey Reynolds), Louie Provenza (G.W. Bailey), Andy Flynn (Tony Denison), Michael Tao (Michael Paul Chan), Julio Sanchez (Raymond Cruz), Buzz (Phillip P. Keene), and Commander Taylor (Robert Gossett).

So why are we reviewing and recommending a show that just aired the first of its final six episodes this week?  Because in the age of the digital world and specifically Netflix, The Closer is definitely worthy of a marathon-style viewing party.  And with what we’ve seen over the past seven seasons, I fully expect these closing shows to go out with a BANG!

Brenda Leigh has faced many a foe in the past, but only one has escaped her grasp—lawyer, Philip Stroh (played by Billy Burke).  She has already been ordered by Chief Pope to drop all investigations into the alleged rapist, but those of us who know Brenda Leigh know she’s not going to stop until she gets her man.  This may cost our favorite Deputy Chief her job—and with only five episodes left, maybe that’s exactly what will happen—but politics have never stopped her before… so why would they now?

Get him, Brenda!!

And let me just say the scenes between Burke and Sedgwick are intense—some of the best tension on television today.  I felt similar about the cat and mouse game between Sedgwick and Jason O’Mara (arsonist Bill Croelick) in seasons one and four.

Despite the fact The Closer will not be airing new episodes much longer, I can’t help but award the GTV rating to Brenda Leigh and her team—grill a filet; bake a potato; steam some veggies; and open a glass of Champagne—relish all of the flavors of your meal and The Closer characters at the same time.

I will miss the drama of the Major Case’s cases; I will miss the goofiness of Provenza and Flynn; I will miss the dry humor of Sanchez; I will miss the wittiness of Tao; I will miss Gabriel’s trying to keep everyone in line; I will miss Buzz and his electronic equipment;  I will miss Pope’s and Taylor’s tendencies to only cover their own butts; I will miss Brenda Leigh’s ability to close; and, lastly, I will miss Brenda Leigh and Fritzy—one of the best love affairs on television today.

The way Fritzy “gets” Brenda Leigh just melts my heart every time…

However, most of these characters and character’s traits won’t be missed for long…

Following the conclusion of Brenda Leigh’s story, Captain Raydor takes the lead in Major Crimes.  For the past few seasons, we’ve tolerated Captain Raydor while she terrorized Brenda Leigh, leading all of the officer-involved investigations (kind of like Internal Affairs).  But we’ve also witnessed a softer Captain Raydor who has stood by Brenda Leigh and done everything in her power to protect the Deputy Chief.  How will Captain Raydor do leading Brenda Leigh’s team?  That’s right – almost the entire cast of The Closer returns for the new series, including Provenza, Flynn, Tao, Sanchez, Buzz, Taylor, and even Fritzy on occasion.

So, here’s to The Closer *lifts Champagne glass*.  We will miss you and will forever recommend you to our readers…

What do you think? Do you watch The Closer?  How would you rate it?  Who’s your favorite character?  Do you plan to watch the spin-off later this summer?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and see what she thinks about the BBC’s Luther.  You know Amber loves her British television series…

Come back next week when Amber and I review something…  it’s summer time and the heat is taking a toll on our planning ahead.

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Tele-Tuesday: Summer Chaos, Part One

During the summer months, we are busier than usual.  Not only do we find ways to deal with the heat, like making frequent trips to the pool and water parks, but we also gather up the troops and travel to fun and sunny destinations.  All of these activities pull us outside and take us away from our televisions.  For our household, this leaves our DVR queue full.

One might ask, how in the world can your DVR queue be full right now?  Despite it not being the typical television season of September through May, we still find ourselves recording at least a few programs per night.  Most of the shows we are currently recording come courtesy of TNT and USA, but there are also a few others…

So, for the sake of today’s post, I’m going to share my absolute must see series in a special summer edition of a Pick or Two Per Night… okay, maybe three in some instances.

*****

SUNDAY

True Blood

This picture is missing the hotness of Alcide, but I think everyone gets the point.

But where I say True Blood, my guy would argue Falling Skies

And I must admit, the sci-fi hit about aliens invading our planet is growing on me.

And before we go to bed, we take a quick hit of Weeds

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun…

*****

MONDAY

The Closer

I started this series late and then went back and caught up courtesy of Netflix.  Having watched every single episode, I must say that I am VERY pleased The Closer is bringing back “the one” that got away… will Brenda Leigh finally find the evidence to arrest Stroh in these final six episodes?

Then, we end the night with an hour of Teen Wolf

Everyone knows there are werewolves in this series, but without giving too much away, I just want to add that I love the addition of the lizard-like thing this year.  Plus the battle between Scott’s “army” and Derek’s “army” only adds to this TV with bite.  Who will win?  Probably Scott, but as long as Derek gets lots of screen time, we’re all good!

*****

TUESDAY

White Collar

Neal Caffrey is hands-down my favorite con-man on TV…

Plus, I always have to find time to sneak in my teen mystery fave… Pretty Little Liars

And enough time for a quick set of laughs… and sometimes gore…

*****

WEDNESDAY

Necessary Roughness

You know… because it has football. 🙂

And then we go back a day and watch Tuesday night’s Franklin & Bash

They may be unconventional, but they are totally lawyers!

*****

THURSDAY

Burn Notice

I watch for Michael Westen; but I honestly love Sam, Maddie, Jesse, and Fi just as much… My guy can’t get enough of Sam Axe (he’s a big Evil Dead fan).

Followed immediately by Suits

Even though this would NEVER happen in “real” life… someone without a law degree working as an associate at a major law firm… when the managing partner knows his secret… but it’s great TV!

*****

FRIDAY

Common Law

Wes and Travis are really growing on me, especially when they role play…. and my guy laughs his rear off in every episode.

*****

Late Friday night and continuing through Sunday, we cram a lot more into our weekend television viewing.  Come back next week to see just how insanely long that list is… trust me, it’s long.

And in addition to the list of shows above that are or will soon be on my DVR queue, perhaps my favorite summer obsession starts this Thursday…

Big Brother airs one-hour episodes Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday nights on CBS, PLUS three hours of unedited and live footage every night of the week on Showtime.

Let the good times begin!

Do you watch any of these shows?  Which summer show/s do you absolutely have to find the time to watch?  I’d love to hear from you…

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Anger Management, Here We Go Again…

This week Amber West and I take on two new television programs on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday where two of TV’s funny men return, only with issues—TNT’s Perception and FX’s Anger Management. 

Before we get started, and for the sake of keeping all of the Charlies straight and less confusing, “Sheen” will refer to the actor and “Charlie” will refer to the character.

While I didn’t get a sneak peek at TNT’s Perception like Amber did, I have to believe that Charlie (played by, you guessed it, Charlie Sheen) has the most issues between the two.  Maybe not as far as the television series go, but considering the network and his production company took his “real” life issues and twisted them into a new sitcom, I have to say he’s WINNING as far as the issues component is concerned.

At first, I thought Charlie was going to be a member of an anger management group.  But instead, he leads a group as their therapist.  The group consists of: a grumpy, old man (played by Barry Corbin, Brenda Leigh’s daddy from The Closer); the token gay (Michael Arden, a young actor from my hometown of Midland, Texas); the angry, Latin-lover, who chopped off her man’s you-know-what (Noureen DeWulf); and another character that I honestly can’t even remember right now.

But then as the pilot plays out, viewers learn that Charlie is indeed a previous member of an anger management group.  I believe that following his days as a professional baseball player, he loses his cool and even breaks his knee when he attempts to smash a bat over his leg during a temper-tantrum.  I say “believe” because the series really didn’t leave that much of an impression on me and I’m having a hard time remembering the facts—bad for a TV reviewer, I know—sorry about that.

Charlie, the therapist…

Anyway, current events lead Charlie to believe he needs to get back onto a doctor’s couch.  The problem is, the only other therapist he trusts is the woman he is currently sleeping with (played by Selma Blair).  Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t this sound like something Charlie Harper (Sheen’s character from Two and a Half Men) would do?

In a twist that I wasn’t expecting, Sheen plays the role of an ex-husband and father, and I must admit that the scenes with the ex-wife (played by Shawnee Smith, from the Saw movies and TV show, Becker) and daughter (Daniela Bobadilla) are some of the best.  Despite the divorce and apparent anger issues Charlie has, his family loves him.

Charlie, the dad…

As I was with Selma Blair, I was excited to see Michael Boatman (Arli$$) in the role of Charlie’s next door neighbor and friend.  But after two episodes, it doesn’t appear Mr. Boatman has that big of a role after all—and that’s a shame.  And speaking of smaller roles that should have been bigger, Brian Austin Green played Charlie’s ex-wife’s boyfriend in the pilot… but the couple already broke up.  I would have watched more of Anger Management for 90210‘s David Silver alone!  Talk about missed opportunities…

As I said earlier, only two episodes of Anger Management have aired to date.  But the ads for the new comedy promise Charlie’s (either Charlie works in this instance) new show to be funnier than the current episodes of Two and a Half Men.  Having seen both, I must disagree.   My guy stopped watching after the pilot, and while I sat through the second half-hour, I’m not sure Anger Management will find a permanent home on my DVR queue.   For that, I must award the NIV rating—Charlie and his group might fit perfectly into the TV slot associated with our sleep-timers in bed.

What do you think? Have you watched Anger Management?  How would you rate it?  Do you feel FX is “beating a dead horse” giving Charlie Sheen a new show so closely related to his “real” life?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and see what she thinks about Will’s new role, I mean Eric McCormack, in TNT’s Perception.

Come back next week when Amber and I review something…  it’s summer time and the heat is taking a toll on our planning ahead.

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Men at Work… on Dating

This week Amber West and I take on two new television programs on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in our first Boys versus Girls post—ABC Family’s Bunheads and TBS’s Men at Work.

TBS, a channel we don’t usually watch in our house, has launched a new sitcom created by the great Breckin Meyer (Franklin & Bash).  Men at Work follows four friends who all work together at the same magazine as writers, photographers, and reporters as they help a buddy get back on the dating horse after a disastrous breakup.

The series stars: Danny Masterson (That ‘70s Show) as Milo, the recently dumped friend; James Lesure (Las Vegas – we are big fans of Mike Cannon here at The Ooo Factor) as Gibbs, the sexual and sensual best friend; Adam Busch (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as Neal, the only one of the four in a serious relationship; and Michael Cassidy (The O.C.) as Tyler, the beautiful and stylish one.

Rarely do we see a comedy centered around all men, about men.  Plus, Men at Work features four funny television character actors we’ve missed seeing around the TV screen for the past few years.  Add the funny-man creator to this, and we couldn’t help but think Men at Work could potentially be summer dynamite.

We weren’t far off—Men at Work is thirty minutes of fun.  I’d say it puts the “fun” in “funny,” but that might sound a bit cliché.  It’s nice having a comedy my guy and I both enjoy watching.  Not only are the relationships between the friends enjoyable, but the foursome introduces hilarious and spot-on new terminology for everyone to throw into their daily conversations with phrases like:

Heterotexual – a modern man who pleases a woman with his thumbs
HotZone
– things that pose the risk of infection
TruthBomb
– boom goes the conversation dynamite, or saying truths your friends might not otherwise want to hear
CrazyHot Paradox
– a woman who is easy on the eyes, but insane in the brain

And another one…

Honestly, these sayings remind me of “Barneyisms” from How I Met Your Mother, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate them just the same.

Men at Work’s humor is a bit on the raunchy side, but then again almost anything sexual anymore is considered raunchy.  Perhaps that’s why the new sitcom is on TBS and not the basic network channels, joining the ranks of FX (Archer), Showtime (Californication and Weeds), and Comedy Central (Workaholics).

And since TV ratings are all about the guest stars here lately, Men at Work has ‘em lined up as well: Amy Smart (Milo’s ex-girlfriend), Stacy Kiebler (a girl who likes threesomes), Kathy Najimy (a sex blogger), J.K. Simmons (the owner of the magazine and Neal’s girlfriend’s father), and fellow That ‘70s Show‘ers Wilmer Valderrama (Milo’s upstairs neighbor) and Laura Prepon (not sure yet about her role, I think she guest stars this week from the previews) to just name a few.

Oh, yeah… and the four friends like to have meals at a local diner. Kinda reminds me of the girls from Sex and the City…

So how does Meyer’s baby rank?  All in all, I’d say I must award Men at Work with the JFTV rating—it’s like that bag of potato chips that we know we should put away after a few bites, but can’t help going back for more.  The crunch of the chip and the explosion of flavors is just what the doctor ordered to accompany an ice-cold beer after a long day at work—technically a long week at work since Men at Work airs on Thursday nights.

What do you think? Have you watched Men at Work?  How would you rate it?  Do you have any phrases you’ve coined that you feel we should incorporate into everyday conversations?  I’d love to hear from you!

For more Men at Work’isms, follow @MenatWorkTBS or the hashtag, #MenatWork.  TBS also has four of the episodes available online.  Check them out!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and see what she thinks about ABC Family’s Bunheads.

Come back next week when Amber and I review something..it’s summer time and the heat is taking a toll on our planning ahead.

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Welcome back to Southfork!

After celebrating our one-year blogiversary last week, Amber West and I return to somewhat of a normal Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday review as we take on a web series, Leap Year, and TNT’s continuation of Dallas.

One of the most anticipated programs this year is the continued story of the duel between the members of the Ewing family.  And after only two-hours, the new Dallas does not disappoint!

TNT has successfully revived the popular soap opera that ran from the late ‘70s to the early ‘90s, even mirrored the original opening as best they could.

Back in the day, we watched the great sibling rivalry between J.R. and Bobby Ewing.   Whew!  Those two brothers never saw eye to eye…

They still look good, don’t they?

We had J.R. (Larry Hagman), the cut-throat oil-tycoon who would stop at nothing to earn his next riches, and Bobby (Patrick Duffy), the more family oriented and rule-following of Miss Ellie’s boys.  And because of these tendencies, Miss Ellie bequests Southfork to Bobby, leaving J.R. with a sour taste in his mouth.

In the new series, J.R.’s wife, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), has left him.  The Texas courts awarded her all of J.R.’s money, making her one of the most successful women in Dallas (and she may even run for Governor).   Since Bobby lives at and runs Southfork, J.R. has nothing.  These events cause him to fall into a deep depression and someone, we’re assuming Bobby, puts J.R. up in a nice retirement community.

Speaking of Bobby, he’s now married to Ann (Brenda Strong), and is suffering from a recent diagnosis of intestinal cancer.  He decides to sell Southfork—the only requirement being that whoever buys the ranch must continue with Miss Ellie’s wish to not drill on her property.  And like the “Good Ol’ Boy” he is, Bobby settles the deal with a handshake.

The new generation of Ewings… HELLO!

But what about these younger Ewing boys we keep hearing so much about?  Fast-forward twenty years, and the Ewing family is still going strong, bickering included, only with two new faces: John Ross, played by Josh Henderson, and Christopher, played by Jesse Metcalf.

Let’s start with John Ross…

While secretly drilling on Southfork, John Ross and his girlfriend/business partner (Elena, played by Jordana Brewster) hit oil.  But when Bobby finds out about it, he forbids anyone from drilling on his mamma’s ranch.  This prompts John Ross to act just like his daddy.  After all, “he’s a chip off the old block.”  Lying, cheating, and backstabbing seem to be John Ross’s methods of choice—but does he have what it takes to outplay J.R.?

And then we have Christopher, sweet and idealistic Christopher…

Christopher runs Ewing Alternative Energies where he researches and experiments with methane drilling.  Unfortunately, his work appears to have caused earthquakes off the coast of China, and while he commits to finding a way to protect the people and preserve the methane, John Ross is the first to point out his cousin’s failures.  Skipping his honeymoon with Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo), Christopher decides to change his daddy’s mind about selling Southfork—but will Bobby listen?

See now, “the fun is just beginning.”

I’ve used a few of the opening episodes’ one-liners above in this post, but I’m not done.  The writers and creators have definitely impressed me with some of the dialogue in these first few hours, especially when it comes to describing J.R. Ewing:

“Some people are just too damn mean to die.”
“It’s better to be old than to be the devil.”

Larry Hagman still has it!  There’s nothing quite as mischievous as J.R.’s smile…

Before we wrap, let’s not forget to mention the soap opera element.  First, we have the business partnerships between John Ross and Elena, Christopher and Elena, and Sue Ellen and Elena.  Surely one if not more of these are going to blow up in their faces, specifically Elena’s.

Let’s stay on the topic of Elena for a second.  Elena is the daughter of the Ewing’s long-time cook and Christopher’s former girlfriend/fiancé.  But when she received a supposed email from Christopher ending their relationship the night before their wedding, she ran away to Mexico and into the waiting arms of John Ross.

Oh, but it doesn’t stop there.  At John Ross’s suggestion, and knowing full well of Christopher and Elena’s past, Rebecca asks Elena to stand up for her at her and Christopher’s wedding.  That’s only the first sign we see that Rebecca may not be as sweet as she appears…  When we meet Rebecca’s brother, we deduce that they have been planning to scam the Ewing family for a few years now—but why?

TNT knows Drama, and the new generation of Ewings promises to bring us just that!

And what about the sale of Southfork?  Well, Bobby thinks he’s selling to the Del Sol Corporation on the promise that the ranch won’t be developed.  J.R. knows about this sale, but thinks the Del Sol Corporation is going to turn around and sell him the ranch thirty days after the sale closes, making him the rightful owner of Southfork.  But John Ross has an idea all his own—he brings in a fraud to play the part of Marta Del Sol, and unbeknownst to Bobby and J.R., John Ross plans to take the ranch as his own.

Dallas is definitely still a soap opera.  But how does it rank?  It’s still early, but I must award TNT’s Dallas with the MacTV rating.  The first two hours were definitely a guilty pleasure, and I personally can’t wait for more.

Bring on the oil fields, cattle ranches, cowboy boots, cowboy hats, and family feuds.  Dallas, we’ve missed you.

What do you think? Have you watched TNT’s Dallas?  How would you rate it?  Who do you think will win out in the long run—the good Ewings, Bobby and Christopher, or the evil Ewings, J.R. and John Ross?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and see what she thinks about the web series, Leap Year.

Come back next week when Amber and I review something..it’s summer time and the heat is taking a toll on our planning ahead.

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.

Last week, we offered a special anniversary giveaway where Amber promised one lucky commenter from my blog and another from hers to receive a red carpet event photo with the celebrity of their choice.  First, THANK YOU to everyone who participated!  But sadly we can only have one winner.

After using the random number generator at www.random.org, lucky #8 won here at The Ooo Factor.

Who is lucky #8?  That would be Andrew Mocete… 

Congratulations, Andrew!  Please email  me a photo where your face is quite visible.  The closer, the better… but Amber can work her magic with pretty much anything.

Andrew’s first choice was Spider-Man as his red carpet date, but being that might make Amber’s job a bit more difficult, he mentioned he also wouldn’t mind being seen with Shirley Manson from The Sarah Connor Chronicles.   Who will Amber choose for Andrew? Come back next week and see!

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Special Anniversary Edition

I know Amber West and I promised to review something new this week on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday, but we told a little white lie.  I know, there we go again with fibbing to our audience, but we have a good reason.  Amber brought something to my attention this week—something very important—it’s our anniversary!!

One year ago tomorrow, a friendly face on Twitter reached out to me and proposed we join forces and two of our favorite things—television and food—to help others know which TV shows were worthy of a watch.  Because let’s face it, not many people have as much time on their hands to fit in as much television as we do (okay, as I do; I don’t want to make Amber out as a crazy-television-obsessed-viewer like I am), so why not help the channel surfers in the world find that one perfect fit to fill their one or two free hours a night?

With that, Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday was born, and a great friendship blossomed with my girl, Amber.  I never really set out to blog three times a week, especially not about TV twice a week, but looking back I wouldn’t change a thing.

So in celebration of our blogiversary, we thought it best to offer up the Top Ten most popular reviews, five here and five over at Amber’s place.

Which TV shows brought the most people over to my WatchWed posts?

#5 –Bones

#4 –Burn Notice & Suits, a hot two in one special

#3 –Criminal Minds

#2 –Leverage & White Collar, another two in one special.  Obviously our viewers love a good con man, or team, whichever…

And, the number one WatchWed post of all time?

Grimm

I mean really, who doesn’t like the darker look at the classic fairy tale… my guy and I sure do!

Before we go, we want to send out a BIG THANK YOU to all of our viewers who have supported us over the past year!  None of this would be possible without you!  Amber and I love what we do, but it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without the great reader interaction we receive week in and week out.

And in staying in-tune with our viewers, what would you like to see as Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday embarks on its second year?  Leave a comment or stop by the Twitter hashtag (#watchwed) and let us know!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and see which of her WatchWed reviews cracked her top five.  Like me, her shows come with some very sexy arm candy…

Come back next week when Amber and I review something and return to our regularly scheduled reviews, even if we don’t know which shows just yet.  Hey, it’s summer… we’ve got fun in the sun on the brain.

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Tele-Tuesday: USA – Unique Summer (Television) Amusement

Last week we discussed all of the terrific summer nighttime television specific to TNT, but TNT is not alone.  The USA Network also has some of the best summer programming of any other channel today.

Last Wednesday kicked off the new USA season with the premieres of their Wednesday night hits, Necessary Roughness, an interesting look at the mind of professional athletes through the eyes of their therapist, and Royal Pains, where a medical doctor makes house calls for his rich and prestigious Hamptons’ clientele.  USA’s Friday nights have also already been filled with episodes of the returning favorite, Fairly Legal, a show centered on a mediator who can fix everyone’s problems but her own, and the new hit, Common Law, where two L.A. detectives love their job but not each other.

But the summer fun doesn’t end there!  Four returning favorites and a new limited series event also premiere over the course of the summer, keeping our TV schedules full of unique summer amusement.

*****

First up, what we already have the pleasure of watching:

Fairly Legal

Fairly Legal follows former attorney turned mediator Kate Reed (Sarah Shahi) as she tries to change San Francisco for the better.  On the exterior, Kate appears tough and callous, but anyone who actually knows her knows that she has a bleeding heart for those less fortunate—and by less fortunate, we only mean those that the rich can afford to beat down in a court of law.

Kate lets both sides tell their stories, and she typically sides with the underdog.  Actually, even though she works for a large and prestigious law firm, Kate doesn’t like much about Corporate America.  But Kate is good at what she does, and most of her cases are assigned to her by the courts and usually by a judge that keeps a stern fist with her.   Trust me; Kate needs someone to keep her in line…

One of Kate’s only confidants is her assistant, Leo (Baron Vaughn), because for the most part, Kate alienates everyone around her: her step-mother/partner/roommate/boss, Lauren Reed (Virginia Williams); her ex-husband/ADA, Justin Patrick (Michael Trucco); and the firm’s most recent addition, her partner Ben Grogan (Ryan Johnson).

Fairly Legal is unique; instead of the traditional TV police procedural or courtroom drama, we see a glimpse into the life of another legal aspect: mediation.  Plus there’s a love triangle.  What TV show is complete without the love triangle?  And why do I find myself pulling for the new guy, Ben, when most others hope Kate and Justin rekindle their romance?

The season two finale airs Friday, but Fairly Legal is still worthy of a nod here…

Common Law

Common Law follows two Los Angeles detectives with an immense love for the job—a job  they’re good at; they just don’t like each other very much.  When a new police captain moves in, he sends the seven-year partners to relationship counseling or couples therapy to use the term we’re familiar with today.

This brand-new series stars Michael Ealy as Travis Marks and Warren Kole as Wes Mitchell, two partners stuck in a “marriage with bullets.”

Viewers can also expect to see a few other familiar faces: Sonya Walger plays Dr. Elyse Ryan, the detectives’ therapist; Alicia Coppola plays a forensic pathologist; and Nora Zehetner is a new detective on the force, specializing in the digital world.

The USA Network is known for their fantastic original programs: the older and never forgotten Monk and The Dead Zone; the current and favorites Psych and Burn Notice; and the sophomore hits Suits, Necessary Roughness, and Fairly Legal.  After just a few episodes, Common Law falls right into line with the rest of the network’s hits.

The first season of Common Law airs Fridays nights.

Necessary Roughness

Necessary Roughness follows Dani Santino (Callie Thorne), a New York woman attempting to balance her family and her career following a recent divorce.  She accepts a position as a therapist for a professional football team, and is assigned to assist the team’s star receiver (Mehcad Brooks) in actually catching the ball.  She sees other clients, sometimes a new client per episode, but primarily Dr. D focuses her time and energy on the New York Hawks and T.K. (Terrance King, or King Terrance as he wants to be known in season two).

The series also stars Scott Cohen as Nico, the team’s head of security, and Marc Blucas as Matt, the team’s athletic trainer and Dani’s love interest.

As an added bonus, the show is inspired by a true story.

Season two started last week and currently airs on Wednesday nights.

Royal Pains

Royal Pains stars Mark Feuerstein as Dr. Hank Lawson, a former New York Emergency Room doctor dismissed after an alleged wrongful death case who moves to the Hamptons and begins making house calls to the rich and famous as a “concierge doctor,” and sometimes even to the less fortunate.  Hank’s company, HankMed, also consists of his brother/CFO (Evan played by Paulo Costanzo) and his invaluable assistant (Divya played by Reshma Shetty).

The series also stars: Henry Winkler as Hank and Evan’s father, Eddie Lawson; Campbell Scott as Boris Kuester von Jurgens-Ratenicz (isn’t that a great name?!?!), Hank’s first client and landlord of sorts; and Jill Flint as Jill Casey, Hank’s on again/off again love interest.

For a more in-depth look, visit Amber West’s Royal Pains review

Season four also premiered last week and airs on Wednesday nights.

*****

And in the upcoming weeks, we have more to look forward to on USA:

Burn Notice

Why is Burn Notice white hot? Sexy stars, massive explosions, and intricate plots combined with explorations of relationships between family members, best friends, and lovers make for some of the best programming on television today.

Burned by the U.S. government, former spy Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) wakes up bruised and sore in a run-down Miami motel with no memory of how he got there.   A burned spy has nothing—no job and no money.  It’s as if the last few years of Michael’s life didn’t even happen.  He takes on odd jobs as a private investigator to make some cash, and builds a team of former acquaintances, ex-girlfriends, and family to help him unravel the truth behind why the CIA black-listed him, and discover who was the mastermind behind his burn notice.

Michael’s team consists of Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell), a former Navy SEAL and friend who was forced to inform on Michael to the FBI; Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar), Michael’s ex-lover and current girlfriend, and a former IRA agent who doubles as an arms dealer and bounty hunter; Madeline Westen (Sharon Gless), Michael’s chain-smoking mother; and, the most recent addition, Jesse Porter (Coby Bell), a former counterintelligence agent that Michael accidentally burned while uncovering truths behind his own burn notice.

Every season answers a few more questions pertaining to Michael’s burn notice, but similarly adds even more fuel to the fire.  Last year ended with a big bang—Fiona being handcuffed and thrown into jail for murder.  Michael is smooth when it comes to his missions, but how will he handle this one?

Season six premieres this Thursday, June 14th.

Suits

Suits follows Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), a recently appointed senior partner at a Manhattan law firm instructed to find another brilliant Harvard Law graduate to work as an associate.  Enter Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams), a brilliant man with an eidetic memory (perfect recall) whose recitation of Bar review materials lands him a position at Harvey’s law firm despite the fact he never graduated college.

These two unconventional minds work together balancing the law and lying to everyone—now that’s conflict, right?  How long before the shunned junior associate (Louis Litt, played by Rick Hoffman), or the boss recently frustrated with Harvey’s refusal to follow her instructions (Jessica Pearson, played by Gina Torres) discover the truth?

Suits also stars: Meghan Markle as Rachel, a paralegal at Harvey and Mike’s law firm, also one of very few that actually know the two’s secret; Tom Lipinski as Trevor, Mike’s drug dealing best friend whose escapades landed Mike in front of Harvey in the first place; Vanessa Ray as Jenny, Trevor’s ex-girlfriend and Mike’s current flame, when he isn’t pining away for Rachel; and Sarah Rafferty as Donna, Harvey’s spit-fire assistant.

Last year when I reviewed Suits as a part of my Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday series, I ranked the then freshman series with a Mac TV rating (equivalent to three stars).  If asked to review again, I believe Harvey and Mike would find themselves upgraded into five-star status.  Here’s to hoping the new season doesn’t disappoint.

Season two premieres this Thursday, June 14th.

White Collar

White Collar follows Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer), a suave and sexy professional con-artist captured by the FBI, and the FBI agent responsible for Neal’s arrest, Peter Burke (Tim DeKay).  What’s interesting about this relationship is that Peter is also responsible for Neal’s release from prison, a special circumstance allowing Neal his freedom under the strict supervision of an ankle monitor and one condition:  Neal must use his criminal expertise to assist the White Collar division of the FBI in capturing bad guys.

Neal enlists the help of his fellow con-man, Mozzie (Willie Garson), who despite his distrust of the government, stands by his friend’s side and builds his own relationship with Peter and Peter’s wife, Elizabeth (Tiffani Theissen).  Each season focuses on a unique and on-going storyline in addition to solving a new FBI case each week.  But remember, Neal is a con despite how clean he attempts to live his life today.  Once a con, always a con—right?

White Collar builds fun and heartfelt character relationships: Peter/Neal, Peter/Elizabeth, Elizabeth/Neal, Elizabeth/Mozzie, Neal/Alex (another of Neal’s con-buddies played by Gloria Votsis), and Neal/Sara (insurance investigator/Neal’s current love interest played by Hilarie Burton), keeping with USA’s motto of character driven television.

The series also stars Marsha Thomason as Peter’s FBI right-hand, Diana, and Sharif Atkins as Special Agent Clinton Jones.  Both Diana and Jones trust Neal, as far as they can throw him; but they want to trust him one-hundred percent… as do the viewers.

Season four premieres July 10th.

Covert Affairs

Abandoned on a deserted island by her love, Annie Walker (Piper Perabo) joins the CIA and is immediately thrust into the world of undercover assignments.  With the help of her blind CIA tech expert, Auggie Anderson (Christopher Gorham), and the former CIA director’s son, Jai Wilcox (Sendhil Ramamurthy), Annie jumps into the toughest cases.  Her boss, Joan Campbell (Kari Matchett), and her boss’s husband, current CIA director Arthur Campbell (Peter Gallagher), constantly throw Annie into veteran situations, testing her abilities, and reviewing her loyalties to the CIA.

Annie also battles familial woes, living in her sister Danielle’s (Anne Dudek) guest house and playing perfect aunt to her two nieces, while keeping her cover story as a researcher at the Smithsonian Institution intact (until she chooses to tell her sister the truth, which doesn’t go over so well as one can imagine).  Living her double life, Annie showcases her kick-ass CIA training, and battles her insecurities one day at a time, making Covert Affairs a fun summer pick.

Despite her training and attributes, Annie isn’t superhuman.  Sometimes I think she makes the worst spy ever, sometimes even one of the most annoying characters on TV today.  But I still keep coming back for more.  Regardless of how I feel about Annie, I always find myself fighting alongside with her in her corner, and it has nothing to do with how adorable Auggie is.  Okay, so maybe it does…

Season three premieres July 10th.

*****

Now that we’ve been through USA’s returning favorites, how about a new miniseries?

Political Animals

Who does everyone think of when we say former First Lady and current Secretary of State?  Did everyone answer Sigourney Weaver?

In the new USA miniseries, Political Animals, Sigourney Weaver plays Elaine Barrish, a recently divorced former First Lady and current Secretary of State fighting to keep her family and her insane position in the U.S. government intact.  The special six episode program also stars: Carla Gugino, a reporter who hasn’t been kind to the Secretary over the years; Ciaran Hinds, the former President and the Secretary’s ex-husband; Adrian Pasdar, the current President; Dylan Baker, the current Vice President; and Ellen Burstyn, the Secretary’s mother.  Now that’s a cast!

Political Animals premieres July 5th.

*****

Whew!  That was a long post, but that’s what happens when one channel shines as USA does.

Do you enjoy any of the above USA original programs?  If so, who is your favorite or least favorite character, keeping in mind that USA thrives on being character driven?  Do you plan to watch Political Animals?  I’d love to hear from you! 

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