The Carrie Diaries

CW, Jan. 14, 8 p.m. ET/PT |

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COMEDY-DRAMA

A teenage prequel to Sex and the City sounds inspired-maybe Clueless in Manhattan, with Carrie Bradshaw and the gang wobbling down the cobbled streets of Soho in platform shoes. Instead Diaries is lukewarm and earnest, like a Molly Ringwald movie that went straight to VHS. We're in 1984, the age of Culture Club and Dynasty, and Carrie (AnnaSophia Robb) is a suburban girl in mourning. Her mother has died, leaving behind a large closet filled with fabulous dresses and accessories. Soon Carrie is spending time in Manhattan as a legal intern, but-having inherited her mother's sense of style—she's also accepted in the clubs and gets to run around with fashionistas from Interview. Robb, who suggests Lindsay Lohan long before she played Liz Taylor, makes Carrie a nice, sensitive girl, but with none of the touchingly naive yearning that made the original such a romantic touchstone. This Carrie will never be Sarah Jessica Parker. Or even Molly Ringwald.

Girls

HBO, Jan. 13, 9 p.m. ET/PT |

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COMEDY

Writer-director-actress Lena Dunham, it turns out, isn't perfect. If the first season of Girls showed Dunham's remarkable ear for dialogue and acute sense of character, her work on these new episodes is initially clumsy and oddly hollow. She's plotting out the logistics of broken relationships and new roomie assignments in Williamsburg, her Brooklyn playground of the hip, and the strain shows. Donald Glover, for instance, shows up as Dunham's latest boyfriend. A black conservative, he's around just long enough to endure Daily Show zingers about Republicans and Ayn Rand. It's a disposable role. In the fourth episode, however, a string of hilarious social disasters and painfully intimate confessions surpasses anything in season 1. Fans will sigh in relief: Girls can still be Girls.

Real Husbands of Hollywood

BET, Jan. 15, 10 p.m. ET/PT |

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COMEDY

Billing itself as "the fakest reality show ever," Husbands is less a parody of the Bravo programming staple than a springboard off which hot comedian Kevin Hart (Think Like a Man) can bounce any gag that crosses his mind. Some hit the pool, some land on the concrete, but viewers won't care: The show is a loose, unambitious goof. At a backyard party, Hart introduces his costars, including the always terrific J.B. Smoove, Nick Cannon and Boris Kodjoe. Buddy Duane Martin shows off a six-piece suit of his own design-the legs and arms tear away to produce preposterous informal wear-and Hart picks a fight with a teenage caterer. The real joke is that this is probably no faker than most other reality shows.

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YOU'VE GOTTA SEE THIS ...

THE GOLDEN GLOBES

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey host the awards show, replacing Ricky Gervais and his snark. Expect bright, silly jokes. NBC, Jan. 13.

ANGER MANAGEMENT

Can we ever have too much of Charlie Sheen's edginess? Possibly, but his sitcom starts season 2 with a 90-episode order. FX, Jan. 17.

AMERICAN IDOL

Is new judge Nicki Minaj really feuding with Mariah Carey as season 12 launches? Oh, please, please let it be true! FOX, Jan. 16.

True to its title, FOX's Fringe has always had a dark, remote shimmer: TV's aurora borealis. Over the five seasons heading to its Jan. 18 finale, the show-about a team dealing with science at its most conspiratorially freakish-has evolved into a dark fantasy about moral responsibility in alternate realities. You can see why ratings went down the rabbit hole. But Fringe was always as strangely moving as it was challenging. A cult classic, it will be lovingly, obsessively dissected for years.

DOWNTON & OUT

WHAT WAS SHOOTING IN THE ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE LIKE?

The best and the worst thing was the weather. I couldn't get over how much I loved it yet how difficult it made my life. It's nothing to the English actors. A windstorm could come in and blow off their wig, and they will just keep going.

WILL YOU BE BACK ON DOWNTON ABBEY NEXT SEASON?

I don't know. I have no idea what [creator] Julian [Fellowes] is writing. I did suggest that he bring a few of them to America. I want to see the Downton group stateside!

YOU'RE 78 AND YOU'VE BEEN ACTING FOR 60 YEARS. EVER CONSIDER SLOWING DOWN?

Are you suggesting I think about quitting because of age? That's ridiculous! My goal is to be the oldest actor still working.

REVENGE'S NICK WECHSLER

As bartender Jack Porter on ABC's Revenge, Nick Wechsler is no stranger to slaps across the face, but offscreen the actor is more likely to be struck by dodgeballs. "It's the most fun I've ever had playing a sport," says Wechsler, 34, who rediscovered the schoolyard game in 2011 and now plays in several leagues around L.A. Katy Perry and Chris Evans have also played at the weekly matches that "get intense," Wechsler says. "As kids, it was just, 'Don't get hit in the face!' Now there's a lot more strategy."

BBC America's Ripper Street, premiering Jan. 19, is what last year's Copper wanted to be: an entertainingly sinister dip in the cesspool of 19th-century criminality. Jack the Ripper has vanished, but London police aren't done with vile murderers. As the chief detective, Matthew Macfadyen (Pride & Prejudice) has a low, soft voice and tired bedroom eyes that could have lured Queen Victoria out of widowhood. He's ideal.

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