Monday, June 25, 2018
TV and Media

'Nurse Jackie' season debut soars, 'Life with LaToya' crashes

The best thing about today's super-fractured media landscape is the vast amount of new TV shows available for us couch potatoes who can never see too much television. The worst: Quality varies wildly, from the heights of Mad Men to the depths of Duck Dynasty. Today, I'm making it easy by arranging reviews of four new shows from masterful to moronic. Save your energy for programming your DVR. Because this is just the beginning.


Nurse Jackie: fifth season debut at 10 p.m. Sunday, Showtime.

Ever since star Edie Falco accepted her 2010 Emmy award as best comedy actress by proclaiming "I'm not funny," the showbiz world seems to have slept on this quirky show.

Veering from wry comedy to heartbreaking drama in an instant, the series centers on Falco's Jackie, a drug addict and emergency room nurse who shines at work, but leads a disastrous personal life. As the season begins, Jackie is a tenaciously recovering addict, going through a painful divorce, unburdening herself only to the cellphone voice mail of a dead fellow addict.

Sounds like a laugh riot. Still, it's a measure of Falco's skill that we keep rooting for Jackie. She's helped by an ace supporting cast, boosted by Morris Chestnut as a super-competent ex-Army doctor, Adam Ferrara as the unlikeliest love interest of all and Anna Deavere Smith as a hospital administrator who may be slipping into dementia.

Once upon a time, with Weeds, United States of Tara, The Big C and Jackie, Showtime cornered the market on strong, quirky female dramedies. Check in Sunday to see once of the best – and last – left standing.


Veep, second season debut, at 10 p.m. Sunday, HBO.

As a vice president known for clumsy charisma and a long history of gaffes, Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Selina Meyer might seem like a character the real vice president would avoid.

Still, news that Joe Biden called Dreyfus with congratulations or her Emmy win mostly shows the vice president knows his TV comedy. And Veep's second season continues the same sidesplitting style, presenting Meyer as a self-obsessed, perpetually disappointed politician with a knack for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Meyer completes a series of successful stump speeches for midterm candidates, only to find her party crushed by the opposition in the actual election (by declining to name her affiliation, Veep deftly highlights the absurdity of the process, regardless of party leaning). Of course, she uses the opportunity to demand more visibility in the administration, making her the face of their massive failure.

If it sounds like that could be the pool report from an actual trip with the vice president, you're learning why Veep is a fun ride, indeed.


Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, debuts at 9 p.m. Sunday, CNN.

To ramp up Sunday programming, the newschannel hired bad boy chef Anthony Bourdain for a program that seems equal parts news feature and travelogue, exploring the world's hotspots through their food and lifestyles.

On Sunday Bourdain alights in Myanmar, also known as Burma, where the military regime has seemingly eased its oppressive controls after a 50-year run. In such a singular cultural moment, I couldn't decide if Bourdain felt like a dilettante or someone telling an important story in a new way, digging into a pile of chicken necks while joking with his dining companions about prison food.

There is much here which is interesting – including a ferris wheel powered by workers swinging from its buckets and an indie rock band dreaming of playing New York City -– but little that is truly compelling.


Life with LaToya, debuts at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, OWN.

This is the sad result of a celebrity freak cashing in the last card she has left to play: reality TV.

If that sounds harsh, I apologize. But an hour of watching LaToya Jackson refuse to take responsibility for the insane choices in her life, starring in a so-called "reality" series which tells you so little about her supremely damaged family, will do that to you.

The show follows Jackson as she moves into a hotel, festooning it with jewel-encrusted knick knacks and demanding her assistant wipe down every surface she might touch. ("I'm not a gemaphobe," LaToya chirps, displaying that grasp on reality for which the Jackson family is known.)

She starts the show blaming a controlling father and mob-connected ex-husband for most of her awful career and life decisions, hanging out with celebrity mom Kathy Hilton (Paris' mom) and a "business partner"/professional friend who pronounces his name Jeffrey but spells it Jeffre'.

Yeah. It's that kind of party.

She only briefly refers to the scandal when some family members spirited off mother Katherine Jackson, who now controls her dead superstar brother's estate, leading to suspicion she had been kidnapped. But we also learn Michael, Kathy Hilton and LaToya promised as childhood buddies to each name their first children Paris. One mystery explained.

I was just glad she hasn't yet hornswoggled her brother's surviving children to come on camera, too.


Sports on TV/radio for Monday, June 25

TODAYBaseballAngels at Royals4 p.m.MLBNationals at Rays7 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMDiamondbacks at Marlins7 p.m.FSFYankees at Phillies7 p.m.MLBCubs at Dodgers10 p.m.ESPNCollege baseball, World SeriesBest-of-3 championship, Game 1: Oregon St. vs. Mississippi...
Published: 06/24/18

Sports on TV/radio for Sunday, June 24

TODAYAutosFormula 1: French Grand Prix10 a.m.ESPN2IndyCar: Kohler Grand Prix1 p.m.NBCSNMonster Energy Cup: Toyota/Save Mart 3503 p.m.FS1; 102.5-FMNHRA: Summit Racing Equipment Nationals (taped)6:30 p.m.FS1BaseballYankees at Rays1 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMM...
Published: 06/23/18
5 recent shows to catch up on over the summer

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emember all those TV shows you’ve heard about but never watched, saving them for that proverbial someday? Summer is the best time to finally watch them — curtains drawn, A/C cranked down to 70. Quick, before fall gets here, and critics start insistin...
Published: 06/22/18
MegaCon Tampa Bay celebrity guests include ‘Walking Dead,’ ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘Doctor Who’ stars

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MegaCon Tampa Bay has announced a lineup of celebrity guests that will likely conjure a mix of excitement and nostalgia among local geeks.They include Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who currently plays Negan on The Walking Dead, Christopher Lloyd, best known f...
Published: 06/21/18
Miss Vanjie talks her ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ exit, memes, drag roots

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Published: 06/20/18
Updated: 06/21/18

Sports on TV/radio for Thursday, June 21

TODAYBaseballRed Sox at Twins1 p.m.MLBMets at Rockies (in progress)4 p.m.MLBCubs at Reds7 p.m.MLBBlue Jays at Angels10 p.m.MLBCollege baseball, World SeriesFlorida vs. Texas Tech8 p.m.ESPNUGolfPGA: Traveler’s Championship3:30 p.m.GolfHorsesRoyal Asco...
Published: 06/20/18

Sports on TV/radio for Wednesday, June 20

TODAYBaseballDodgers at Cubs2 p.m.MLBMarlins at Giants3:30 p.m.FSFMariners at Yankees7 p.m.MLBRays at Astros8 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMCollege baseball, World SeriesOregon State vs. North Carolina7 p.m.ESPNGolfPGA Professionals Championship6:30 p.m.GolfHor...
Published: 06/19/18

Sports on TV/radio for Tuesday, June 19

TODAYBaseballOrioles at Nationals7 p.m.MLBRays at Astros8 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMMarlins at Giants10 p.m.FSFDiamondbacks at Angels10 p.m.ESPNCollege baseball, World SeriesFlorida vs. Texas2 p.m.ESPNTexas Tech vs. Arkansas7 p.m.ESPNGolfPGA Professionals c...
Published: 06/18/18

Sports on TV/radio for Monday, June 18

TODAYBaseballYankees at Nationals7 p.m.MLBRays at Astros8 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMMarlins at Giants10 p.m.FSFDiamondbacks at Angels10 p.m.ESPNCollege baseball, World SeriesOregon State vs. Washington2 p.m.ESPNNorth Carolina vs. Mississippi State7 p.m.ESPN...
Published: 06/17/18

Sports on TV/radio for Sunday, June 17

TODAYAutosXfinity: Iowa 250 qualifying2:30 p.m.FS2Xfinity: Iowa 2505 p.m.FS1BaseballMarlins at Orioles1 p.m.FSFRays at Yankees2 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMAstros at Royals2 p.m.MLBRed Sox at Mariners (in progress)5 p.m.MLBCubs at Cardinals8 p.m.ESPNCollege b...
Published: 06/16/18