Mobsters. Morticians. Carnival freaks.
HBO doesn't churn out your typical doctor/lawyer/cop show. So it's really not that big of a surprise that HBO's newest series is all about polygamy.
In "Big Love" (premiering Sunday at 10 p.m. on HBO), Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) lives in Utah with his first wife Barb (Jean Tripplehorn), his shopaholic second wife Nicki (Chloe Sevigny) and his insecure third wife Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin). The crucial problem with the series is that it does nothing to help the viewer understand why anyone would want this life. Led by Barb, the wives work out an elaborate schedule of Bill's time while the husband bounces from family to family trying to make everyone happy and trying even harder to pay for all their demands (from fancy birthday parties to brand new cars). Watching him is a little exhausting and watching the wives is a little depressing. Why would this be an ideal situation for anyone? Perhaps an explanation will come in time but viewers may be too disinterested by then to care.
As might be expected, in the first three episodes, the series spends a good deal of time on the sex life, obviously the most lascivious aspect of this set up. You'll see more of Paxton's bare behind than you ever have. Years before the series began, the Henrickson family left a polygamist compound. Now Bill is fighting the leader and Nicki's father (Harry Dean Stanton) for financial independence. I think this is supposed to be the overarching storyline this season. But not enough happens in the series. Once the viewer gets past the titillation factor, not that much is left.
I'm thrilled to see Goodwin, who I've liked ever since her days as Diane on "Ed" and who was fabulous as Johnny Cash's first wife in "Walk the Line," in such a high profile project. And in a fun turn of events, the series features three people from "Veronica Mars." Keep an eye out for Amanda Seyfried (Lily), Tina Majorino (Mac) and Kyle Gallner (Beaver). But other than that, "Big Love" is a big disappointment.
And I have to wonder if Sunday night will be a big disappointment for HBO in general. "The Sopranos" returns Sunday at 9 p.m. But in the 21 months since we last saw Tony and his familia, "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy" have staked their claim to Sunday night. Will viewers still be excited about a show that has been gone for nearly two years? We're about to find out.
What did you think about "Big Love?" Are you excited for the return of "The Sopranos" or have you lost interest? What did you think about the premiere of "The Sopranos." Talk about it on the TV Gal message board.
Where Have I Heard That Name Before?"
You all make me so darn proud. So many of you noticed that when Audrey gave a fake name on "24," she said she was "Jane Espenson from Accounting." Espenson was, of course, a writer on both "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel" with David Fury, who is now a producer and writer on "24." Coincidence? We all think not.
Quotes of the Week
"Oh, I do love that show. It's like they've been watching our lives and just put it on TV." J.D. to Elliot about "Grey's Anatomy" on "Scrubs." Thanks to Jason and Lily who were the first to submit this very popular quote.
"I miss the feeling of knowing that you did a good job because somebody has given you proof of it." Michael about being named Salesman of the Year on "The Office."
"Can we call you the Double Ds?" Tyler to Danielle and Dani on "The Amazing Race." For those of you who think perhaps I don't have that many male readers, please know that this quote was very popular among the boys. Thanks to David and Jeff who were the first to submit the quote.
"She's Anthony Michael Hall in 'Breakfast Club' smart." Lorelai to Christopher about Rory on "Gilmore Girls."
"We've been on this island for two months and no one has gotten sick." Jack to Claire on "Lost." Nothing significant about that quote except I can't believe they've only been on the island for two months. Doesn't it seem like forever?
"Careful." Simon to Paula when she said hello to Ace on "American Idol."
"What am I supposed to do? Beam myself to Boston every morning?" Denny to Bev on "Boston Legal."
Where Have I Seen Them Before?
Gina Torres, Anna Espinosa on "Alias," Zoe on "Firefly," Julia on season three of "24" and Jasmine on "Angel," is Kavanaugh's unstable ex-wife on "The Shield."
Jim and Bill were so excited to see Julie Benz, Darla on "Buffy" and "Angel," on "CSI: Miami" as the wife of the murderer.
Michelle recognized Jonathan Slavin, Jim on "Inconceivable," and Colby on "Summerland," as the nervous father of boy who injured himself in a little league game on "Grey's Anatomy."
And all of this week's bonus points have to go to Darcy who realized that Nick Jameson, currently playing Russian President Yuri Suvarov on "24" also played the psychic who told Claire she had to be the one to raise her baby last season on "Lost."
Highlights of the Week Ahead
All times listed are Eastern Time for March 6 to 12
Okay, is anyone else highly suspicious that Nina Myers was mentioned in last week's episode of "24?" (Monday, FOX, 9 p.m.) I also have to confess that I almost cried when I thought Secret Service Agent Aaron Pierce has been killed. Unbeknownst to me I've become quite attached to him. Kim returns this week (she's baaaack) along with my longtime secret boyfriend C. Thomas Howell. I've already told you how I'd like Kim's triumphant return to go (lots of "sweethearts" and tears and then we're done). But I'm on a "24" high right now (how awesome was last week's episode?) so I won't say a peep about her return until I see how it plays out. What I will say is that after my little warning to ABC, the network immediately scheduled the return of "Alias" on April 19. So it's best not to incur my wrath.
"Joey" returns to the schedule Tuesday at 8 p.m. on NBC. I would have totally bet against this ever happening. Especially since Andrea Anders (Alex) has already signed on for another series next season. I can't imagine that people will start tuning into this Friend now. While we wait for the show's seemingly inevitable cancellation, Joey becomes jealous when Alex dates Gregory Harrison.
Improvisation is all the rage these days. But "Sons & Daughters" (premiering Tuesday at 9 p.m. on ABC) from executive producer Lorne Michaels isn't nearly as much fun as "Free Ride." Two and a half stars.
Dennis Haysbert is back as Jonas Blane in "The Unit" (premiering Tuesday at 9 p.m. on CBS). The show has everything going for it -- Shawn Ryan ("The Shield") and playwright David Mamet behind the scenes and Haysbert, Scott Foley and Robert Patrick in front of the camera. So why was I so disinterested? But I will say that Regina Taylor gives a positively terrifying performance as Jonas' wife Molly Blane. This is such a different role for her and, even if the show doesn't take off, this should open up a whole plethora of new opportunities for her. Three stars. After you watch the show, let me know what you think.
While watching "Black. White." (Wednesday, FX, 10 p.m.) I became extremely frustrated with one of the participants. And I thought to myself any time I get that engaged in a reality show, that's a good thing. In this six-episode series from Ice Cube and R.J. Cutler, two families endure up to five hours of make up to go out into the world as a race that is not their own. I can only assume this show will foster a lot of discussion.
You know Paula can get as crazy as ever and talk about pizza, salads, moths and cornflakes. She can make no sense at all but I'm convinced the show will never replace her. They didn't last year so they sure as heck won't now. She'll always give viewers something to talk about and that's how the show likes it. But I would like Ryan to stop asking contestants if they think they're in the bottom three this week, it just seems cruel. After this Thursday (8 p.m. on FOX), we'll know who the final 12. Insert dance of joy here.
It's the season finale of "Beauty and the Geek" (Thursday, WB, 9 p.m.). Producers have promised that they're interested in doing a version with a male beauty and a female geek. I can't wait.
"The Cutting Edge" remains one of my all time favorite movies. So I'm thrilled that "Cutting Edge 2: Going for the Gold" premieres Sunday at 7 p.m. on ABC Family. Christy Carlson Romano stars as the daughter of Doug (D.B. Sweeney) and Kate (Moira Kelly). Unfortunately, new actors play Doug and Kate in this version, but if you want to catch the originals, ABC Family will air "The Cutting Edge" at 5 p.m.
"The West Wing" finally returns to the schedule Sunday at 8 p.m. on NBC. As the show heads towards its series finale, Rob Lowe, Mary-Louise Parker, Anna Deavere Smith, Emily Procter, Marlee Matlin, Gary Cole, Tim Matheson, Timothy Busfield and Annabeth Gish will all return. Let's have a special whoo and hoo for Lowe's return. Me thinks this means he could become the new vice president.
Unfortunately, I didn't get the review tape of "The Sopranos" (Sunday, HBO, 9 p.m.) in time for this week's column. But after you watch the show, you have to let me know what you think.
I've got to tell you that scene between Meredith and George was positively heartbreaking. I'm all for George to start going out with that new doctor. And as reprehensible as I found Meredith's behavior, I have to admit that it's pretty brave of the show to continue to have their protagonist make such bad decisions. It kind of reminds me of when Carrie cheated on Aidan with Big on "Sex and the City." And it makes the show a lot more interesting. One word of caution for "Grey's Anatomy" (Sunday, ABC, 10 p.m.), it would probably be a good idea for at least one person to begin dating outside the hospital.
That's all for today. I'll be back next week with reviews of the new series "The Loop" and "Modern Men." Plus, my thoughts on "Lost" (coming soon to your local town theater, the Others Community Players), "The Office" (you go Jim), "My Name Is Earl") and more. Have a question, seen a familiar face, have an inside scoop or want to nominate a quote of the week? Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org by clicking on my byline at the top of my column.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times