Monday May 26, 2014

Happy Memorial Day.  Here's a brief holiday installment.

Mad Men wrapped up the first half of its final season last night on a high note as far as I'm concerned.  I'm not alone with that sentiment, evidently.  The episode "felt even more like a series finale than 'The Strategy' did. Another of Don's marriages has ended (and he was so busy worrying about his job that he didn't see Megan's decision coming, even as he understood it the moment it happened), Peggy has fully come into her own, as has Roger, Joan has the financial windfall she's been waiting for (and Harry the schmuck is once again denied his rewards), the agency's immediate future is secured, and Sally has learned to smoke just like her mother. Don has learned that his actions have consequences, and he has survived those consequences and become a better co-worker (and, to an extent, a better father), even if he's still a lousy husband. The End, right?"

Here's another take: "In this episode, our characters become the last people left standing up, and they start to put things into place for the future. Don yields his pitch to Peggy; Sterling Cooper & Partners yields its company to McCann. Roger realizes there’s no one left to be more adult than him; he’s got to be responsible for himself. Megan and Don let go of each other, and Cutler lets go of his dream of the future. And Bert yields to death, because that, and the moon, is the only thing that belongs to all of us."

HBO aired The Normal Heart last night.  It was well-done if not disturbing and uncomfortable, but something worth watching nonetheless.  Variety reviewed the film here and opines: "In its totality, this represents a powerful piece of work, with [Mark] Ruffalo overcoming the prickly aspects of his character to convey his pain, and Jim Parsons delivering a wonderful supporting turn, including a sobering scene in which he talks about eulogizing fallen friends.

"Politically, of course, anything that rehashes President Reagan’s failure to publicly mention 'AIDS' until his second term will raise hackles, but in a larger sense, the movie offers a pretty good road map for where the steadfast lobbying efforts of Kramer and others lead.

"Perhaps foremost, HBO once again straddles the cinematic line, providing a character-oriented drama with theatrical talent and values that would face challenges finding much purchase at the modern-day multiplex. And while there’s a premium-channel calculation in that strategy, the result is a movie, for mostly better and sometimes worse, that wears its heart on its sleeve."

Here's the trailer for a sneak peak:

I saw an amazing run of stand up comics this holiday weekend, including Marc Maron, Jeff Garlin and Chris D'Elia, who gave one of the best sets I've seen by anyone not named Louis C.K.  His new show Undateable, premieres this Thursday by way of reminder.

HGTV has canceled Design Star after 7 seasons.  Moving towards a more celebrity-centric lineup, the network sure seems to be shooting itself in the foot.  I know first hand what their new Ellen DeGeneres show is "trying" to be and mark my words, it will fail for a number of reasons, including casting, Ellen's very limited involvement, etc.

Per Deadline, here are your summer premiere dates, starting today:

May 26:
MasterChef (Fox, Season 5 premiere)

May 27:
America’s Got Talent (NBC, Season 9 premiere)
The Night Shift (NBC, series premiere)
The Wil Wheaton Project (Syfy, series premiere)

May 28
So You Think You Can Dance (Fox, Season 11 premiere)

May 29:
Our America With Lisa Ling (OWN, Season 5 premiere)
Undateable (NBC, series premiere; back-to-back episodes)

May 30:
Crossbones (NBC, series premiere)

May 31:
Bet on Your Baby (ABC, Season 2 premiere)

June 1:
Halt & Catch Fire (AMC, series premiere)
Food Network Star (Food Network, Season 10 premiere)
Return to Amish (TLC, series premiere)

June 2:
Mistresses (ABC, Season 2 premiere)
Beauty And The Beast (The CW, Season 2B premiere)
Longmire (A&E, Season 3 premiere)

June 3:
Famous In 12 (The CW, series premiere)
Top Gear (The CW, series premiere)

June 4:
Jennifer Falls (TVLand, Series premiere)
Through the Wormhole (Science, Season 5 premiere)

June 6:
Orange Is The New Black (Netflix, Season 2 premiere)

June 7:
Power (Starz, series premiere)

June 9:
Murder In The First (TNT, series premiere)
Major Crimes (TNT, Season 3 premiere)

June 10:
Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family, Season 5 premiere)
Chasing Life (ABC Family, series premiere)
Royal Pains (USA, Season 6 premiere)

June 11:
Suits (USA, Season 4 premiere)
Graceland (USA, Season 2 premiere)
Duck Dynasty (A&E, Season 6 premiere)

June 15:
Superjail (Adult Swim, Season 4 premiere)

June 16:
Switched At Birth (ABC Family, Season 3B premiere)
The Fosters (ABC Family, Season 2 premiere)

June 17:
Rizzoli & Isles (TNT, Season 5 premiere)
Perception (TNT, Season 3 premiere)
Rookie Blue (ABC, Season 5 premiere)

June 19:
Rectify (Sundance, Season 2 premiere)
Dominion (Syfy, series premiere)
Defiance (Syfy, Season 2 premiere)

June 20:
Cold Justice (TNT, Season 2B premiere)

June 21:
Almost Royal (BBC America, series premiere)

June 22:
The Last Ship (TNT, series premiere)
Falling Skies (TNT, Season 4 premiere)
Rising Star (ABC, series premiere)
Wipeout (ABC, two-hour Season 7 premiere)
True Blood (HBO, Season 7 premiere)
The Musketeers (BBC America, series premiere)

June 23:
Teen Wolf (MTV, Season 4 premiere)

June 24:
Makers: Women & War (PBS, first of six one-hour Makers documentaries airing through September 9)
NY Med (ABC, Season 2 premiere)
Covert Affairs (USA, Season 5 premiere)
Tyrant (FX, series premiere)
Sullivan & Son (TBS, Season 3 premiere)

June 25:
Young & Hungry (ABC Family, series premiere)
Mystery Girls (ABC Family, series premiere)
Big Brother (CBS, Season 16 premiere)
Taxi Brooklyn (NBC, series premiere)
Wilfred (FXX, Season 4 premiere)

June 27:
Girl Meets World (Disney Channel, series premiere)

June 29:
Unforgettable (CBS, Season 3 premiere)
Reckless (CBS, series premiere)
Last Tango in Halifax (PBS, Season 2 premiere)
The Leftovers (HBO, series premiere)

June 30:
Under The Dome (CBS, Season 2 premiere)
Penn & Teller: Fool Us (The CW, series premiere)

June TBA:
Return To Amish (TLC, series premiere)

July 6:
Vicious (PBS, series premiere)
Witches of East End (Lifetime, Season 2 premiere)

July 9:
Extant (CBS, series premiere)
The Bridge (FX, Season 2 premiere)

July 10:
Welcome to Sweden
 (NBC, series premiere)
Working the Engels (NBC, series premiere)

July 11:
Hemlock Grove
 (Netflix, Season 2 premiere)

July 13:
Ray Donovan (Showtime, Season 2 premiere)
Masters of Sex (Showtime, Season 2 premiere)
The Strain (FX, series premiere)

July 14:
Backpackers (The CW, series premiere)
Seed (The CW, series premiere)

July 15:
Matador 
(El Rey Network, series premiere)

July 17:
Married (FX, series premiere)
You’re The Worst (FX, series premiere)
Rush (USA, series premiere)
Satisfaction (USA, series premiere)

July 19:
Seven Deadly Sins (Showtime, series premiere)

July 21:
Hotel Hell
 (Fox, Season 2 premiere)

July 22:
Food Fighters
 (NBC, series premiere)

July 24:
The Astronaut Wives Club (ABC, series premiere)

July 27:
Manhattan (WGN America, series premiere)

July 31:
The Quest (ABC, series premiere)

August 1:
Masters Of Illusion (The CW, series premiere)
The Killing (Netflix, Season 4 premiere)

August 4:
Bachelor in Paradise (ABC, series premiere)
Partners (FX, series premiere)

August 9:
Outlander (Starz, series premiere)

August 13:
Legend (TNT, series premiere)

August 18:
Dallas (TNT, Season 3B premiere)

August 20:
Legends (TNT, series premiere)
Franklin & Bash (TNT, Season 4 premiere)

August TBA:
Doctor Who (BBC America, season 8 premiere)