HBO, Sundays, 10 p.m. ET/PT |
I have good news and bad news—but the bad news is mostly old news, so it counts a lot less. In season 2, writer-creator Aaron Sorkin's yakety drama about TV anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) is much stronger and more solidly entertaining. The main cause for improvement is a simple narrative device: Sorkin sets the season's real and imagined events (including Occupy Wall Street) within the framework of a big lawsuit brought against Will and his team. It's the same trick Sorkin used so effectively in his Oscar-winning Social Network screenplay: He can make even a deposition-prep meeting crackle with resentment and suspicion, and here he has Marcia Gay Harden as lead attorney Rebecca Halliday. She controls the conference room with the assured but bruising power of a dominatrix. Beyond that, Sorkin has dug deeper into his characters, making it easier for a viewer to tolerate (I didn't say forgive) the rich, butter-crumb dialogue and a tendency toward neurotic cuteness—as if these news pros had been mentored by Charlie Brown. Associate producer Maggie Jordan (Alison Pill) has often been insufferable, a sort of type A pixie, but this time she goes after a major story and stumbles into tragedy. Her near-breakdown is, as journalists say, powerful stuff.
CW, July 22, 9 p.m. ET/PT
Breaking Pointe, starting its second season, is an absorbing reality show about the backstage lives of young dancers with the Ballet West company in Salt Lake City. The scenes dealing with their romances feel a bit formulaic, but the details of the casting and mounting of a new production (in this case, Cinderella) have a nice, soft-spoken tension. It's sort of like Smash with mirrors, a barre and no belters.
COMMENTS? WRITE TO TOM: email@example.com
YOU'VE GOTTA SEE THIS ...
TOP CHEF MASTERS
Curtis Stone hosts a new season of the competition on which a baker's dozen of star cooks compete for charity. A baker's dozen is 13, right? Bravo, July 24.
Nutso, visually striking superhero cartoon with the voice of Nick Offerman. Part of a new late-night animation block. FOX, July 27.
IYANLA: FIX MY LIFE
Return of powerhouse spiritual fixer Iyanla Vanzant. First off she's helping R&B singer Syleena Johnson and her mom. OWN, July 27.
RED HOT HOST!
You began your career on Telemundo 25 years ago. Now you're back, hosting the kids version of The Voice.
It's like going home. I started as a weather girl. I always knew that I wanted to return, but it had to be the right project. And I've always loved The Voice. Blake Shelton, in particular. But that's a whole other interview!
Does working with kids make you want to start a family of your own?
I thought for the longest time that it would be something that just happens. As I've gotten older, I've realized it's not necessarily something that I need or want. It's unusual for women, but if it works for George Clooney
, it works for me.
Do you have a secret to staying in shape?
I owe a lot to good genes, but we all age. I'm going to fight it as much as I can. More than anything, you need peace in your life. Stress will make you sick. And it will make you ugly. That's not an option!
Web Therapy, Lisa Kudrow's comedy about an analyst whose empathy begins and ends with herself, is back and in fine shape. Fiona is romanced by an infatuated one-night stand (Steve Carell) who just smiles at her rudeness. She also manipulates the boozy composer (Megan Mullally) working on a musical of her life. The pleasure here is watching actors nail their roles with small, light
You show a lot of skin as Sookie's love interest Ben on True Blood.
I was incredibly nervous, but there's something raw and primal about it, which is what this show is about.
Did you have to work out more?
No. For [the new film Pacific Rim], I was 215 lbs. of pure muscle. That wouldn't work for Ben. Now I'm down to 190 and trying to get lean muscle instead of sheer bulk.
Was it an adjustment moving to L.A. after years on the U.K. hit EastEnders?
I didn't work for two years. It was a kick to the ego. I had lost motivation and had $3 to my name. But just waking up to sunlight makes your struggle that much happier.
Are fans different in the U.S.?
In England I'd be at dinner and they'd throw bread rolls at me. I hope that doesn't happen here.