The Voice

NBC, Mondays-Tuesdays, 8 p.m. ET/PT |

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  



REALITY

In season 4, the NBC hit has been smoothly riding out the challenge that rattled that other singing contest on FOX: bringing in new stars to oversee all the singing, dreaming and sobbing. Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green have been replaced in the big red chairs by superstars Usher and Shakira. If neither plays the team-building game with the glib confidence of veterans Blake Shelton and Adam Levine, that in itself is part of the game. Unlike the American Idol judges, who are accorded a degree of royal pomp rare on TV, Voice coaches are expected to banter, tease and get each other's goat. At the moment, I don't think Shakira quite knows how to get a goat. But it's a learnable skill and valuable—The Voice has made Shelton and Levine into major TV personalities, fun and approachable. As to the competition itself, we'll have to wait for the standout voices to emerge. Meanwhile, it's only fair to give Idol its due as it nears the end of season 12. The show has introduced a powerhouse talent: Candice Glover. And Nicki Minaj, stealing every camera shot she can with her large, rolling eyes, has obliterated the other judges. She's riveting.

Family Tools

ABC, May 1, 8:30 p.m. ET/PT |

bgwhite bgwhite   



COMEDY

Good comic performers far outnumber good sitcoms to put them into. They're cookies without jars, and sometimes you wonder how they don't go stale. Kyle Bornheimer, a nimble, likable actor who starred in the CBS sitcom Worst Week several years ago, plays Jack Shea, an ex-seminarian who takes over the family's handyman business after his dad (The Closer's J.K. Simmons) suffers a heart attack. Jack is a fumbling innocent, desperate for approval but not hard-headed enough to tackle real life, let alone run a business. Bornheimer plays him with a quick, gentle silliness that's very ingratiating. The show itself is standard construction, a framework of planks that will need more work.

The Big C: Hereafter

Showtime, April 29, 10 p.m. ET/PT |

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  



DRAMA

The series is ending, but what about Cathy Jamison (Laura Linney)? In The Big C's abbreviated final season—four hour-long episodes—her cancer has spread, steadily drawing her that much closer to the Big D of death. The show's tone still tends to the exasperatingly adorable (do we really need fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi playing himself?), but Linney's performance is focused, concentrated, free of histrionics and intensely poignant. A lovely piece of work.

COMMENTS? WRITE TO TOM: tomsreviews@peoplemag.com

YOU'VE GOTTA SEE THIS...

THE FOLLOWING

The entertainingly breathless suspense series reaches its season 1 conclusion with poor Natalie Zea still terrorized by her evil ex (James Purefoy). April 29, FOX.

PARKS AND RECREATION

Leslie (Amy Poehler), who's never lost that Pawnee pioneer spirit, celebrates a political milestone. Season finale. NBC, May 2.

VIKINGS

In the season wrap-up of the muddy, bloody hit, the peripatetic Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) wanders on over to Sweden. History, April 28.

SIXTIES CHICK

Has it been fun playing Jon Hamm's neighbor (and mistress) on the show?

After having a baby daughter Lilah-Rose last year, it's been so much fun to play such a sexy character! But being in front of the camera after giving birth was terrifying. I gained over 55 lbs. during my pregnancy, and I had about 7 months to lose it. One of the first things I did was go to Zumba!

You're almost unrecognizable decked out in your '60s garb.

I've been getting that a lot. The wig and the mole and the makeup—it's a different era and a different look for me. I look a little bit like my aunt.

Does your daughter recognize you when you are in costume?

She knew that something was off. She tried for about 15 minutes to pick the mole off my face. She was totally perplexed by the whole look.

Viewers who watched the flop sitcom Animal Practice may vaguely recall that, in addition to a monkey named Crystal, there were people. Actress Kym Whitley was among them. In her enjoyable but slight reality show Raising Whitley, she has just learned of Practice's demise while adjusting to her lifelong commitment to raise an abandoned baby, Joshua. The show is cluttered up with her entourage, but Joshua is cute.

bgwhite bgwhite   



HERO HEARTTHROB

You play a fearless warrior on TV. How would you describe yourself in real life?

I consider myself a sightly doddly diddly young English lad who enjoys acting and never really thought he could carve out a career for it. I'm fun-loving with a nice ounce of English pessimism.

Your chemistry with costar Rose Leslie sparked romance rumors. Are you dating?

We get on very well. I'm so lucky we have each other on-set, and we've become close off-set as well. But we're just friends.

What kind of girl would you ideally date?

I like to be taller than a girl, so I always go for a girl that's shorter than me. I also tend to go toward a girl that's got a sense of humor. And brunettes!

What would you consider a fun night out?

I like skinny-dipping. It's my favorite thing at a party. I don't go on my own, though. I'm not a naturist.

How do you feel about baring all on-camera?

It's a very exposing thing. But I'm not particularly prissy. You've just got to man up and do it. It's just your body, right?