New Season: Denis Leary’s New York firefighter saga Rescue Me has never been better—at least judging by the first nine episodes (of 22, up from the usual 13) FX sent in advance for Season 5. The introduction of estranged wife Janet’s new boyfriend, a wheelchair-bound extreme sportsman (played hysterically over-the-top by Michael J. Fox) who’s even more of a bastard than Leary’s Tommy Gavin, alone could fuel half a season. Add the guys buying a bar (which may or may not have bad “pussy feng shui”), more comedy and drama from Sheila (if Callie Thorne doesn’t win an Emmy soon, the Academy should just be burned down), Franco’s 9/11 conspiracy theories (who knew?) and Tommy falling hard off the wagon (unfortunately, as Lou observes, he’s more fun when he’s drinking), among myriad other new twists early on, and it’s clear that no other TV series does on-a-dime funny-to-heartbreaking smarter than Rescue Me. Oh, and there are plenty of new dick jokes, too.
Series Debut: It’s from the producers of The Office, it stars Amy Pohler (Saturday Night Live) and Rashida Jones (The Office), and the 30-second previews are pretty damned funny (Pohler screaming at a raccoon = Comedy Gold). So why only a blue thingy for Parks & Recreation? Because those previews are all I and most “TV critics” have seen, though we have read the leaked test-audience results that rated the first cut of P&R as “forced,” “derivative” and “offensive to raccoons.” The retooled final product could suck, anyway—but remember this: “Audiences” drool like idiots over dancing and karaoke shows. They are not to be trusted.
Season Finale: So it turns out that moving the best network sci-fi (not “SyFy,” thank you) series in years to Fridays was a bad idea—and it hasn’t worked for Dollhouse, either. In all of the advance hype/hope for Eliza Dushku’s wiped brain and tight yoga pants (guilty!), everybody forgot that Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was already delivering deep, dense science-fiction TV a whole season before that first geeky trouser-twinge for Dollhouse. T:TSCC’s wild Season 2 has ultimately been leading up to a face-off between Team Connor and Terminator Catherine Weaver (Shirley Manson, still acting a little too robotically); whether it’s a showdown or letdown makes no difference if tonight’s is a series finale rather than a season finale. I’d like to trust Fox to do the right thing, but …
Season Finale: … we all know they’d rather have a zero-budget “reality” hit like Bret Michaels’ continuing quest for True Poon, er, Love. It’s been opined by smarter folk than I that VH1’s Rock of Love series is the vehicle that’s finally thrust porn deep into the mainstream (or at least basic cable), and it’s hard—turgid, even—to dispute said penetration: A semi-attractive assortment of surgically-enhanced fluid receptacles engage in a random series of cheaply-shot “dates” with an ugly dude wearing a bandana (hair conveniently attached) before disappearing and/or moving on to the sequel (like VH1’s upcoming Daisy of Love, which promises to really make the network No. 1 in Vile Horror). Anyway, tonight, Bret chooses between the mouse-faced whiner and the Penthouse Pet (oooh, tough one) before beginning work on Rock of Love Prison Camp.
New Season: Anne Boleyn is gone, new queen Jane Seymour is a bore, King Henry still isn’t fat. Season 3 is going to need a lot more sex and/or violence to keep my interest …