SUNDAY, SEPT. 9
CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM
10 P.M. | HBO
New season for the bald guy (right, with Jeff Garlin). The show still gets laughs, but the setups are more broadly farcical (Larry takes in victims of a hurricane). That fine old fidgety anger is gone.
MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS
9 P.M. | MTV
This year the event is moving to the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, with much feverish speculation about whether Britney Spears will make a splash and perform (at press time, MTV wouldn't say). At the least, couldn't she usher?
MONDAY, SEPT. 10
THE PICK UP ARTIST
9 P.M. | VH1
Weird TV personality of the moment: a self-professed girl-magnet, Mystery, who makes geeks over into ladykillers. Yet he looks more like Willy Wonka's brother.
SYNDICATED | CHECK LISTINGS
A new season for the peppery home-entertainment host. The show's guest is Teri Hatcher of Desperate Housewives.
WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 12
10 P.M. | FX
The fourth season comes to a close for the tough but compassionate firehouse drama. Will Tommy (Emmy-nominated Denis Leary) ever stop trying to put out emotional fires?
FRIDAY, SEPT. 14
9 P.M. | FOX
Sort of like The Hills rolling into Opryland, with a group of young people trying to make it in country music. (One of them, third from left, is NFL Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw's daughter Rachel.) Everyone is good-looking, eminently datable and maybe talented. What's missing in the premiere episode is The Hills' cleverness at effortlessly laying out the levels of social interaction in the beehive.
LIVE WITH REGIS AND KELLY
SYNDICATED | CHECK LISTINGS
The show's 20th-anniversary celebration concludes with a special guest: former cohost Kathie Lee Gifford, who left in 2000. Oh, time! Oh, Reeg!
Tell Me You Love Me
HBO, Sept. 9, 9 p.m. ET |
This groundbreaking series is the most sexually explicit TV drama I've seen. It's about people driven by intimacy issues and tensions to seek the help of a couples counselor (Jane Alexander). A lawyer and her contractor husband (Sonya Walger and Adam Scott) are trying to conceive, and the show follows them both into the bedroom and quickly, nakedly, vigorously into bed. The show is startling (I recall murmuring, "Yow") but not erotic—just frank about stripping everyone bare, literally and otherwise. But be prepared for the unusually slow pace; and despite the sex (or because of it?), the show is shot with a documentary drabness. It's like Desperate Housewives by Edward Hopper. Yet you come to believe in the characters and find yourself thinking—identifying with their therapist, in a sense—oh, if only they could be healed! The show gets under your skin.
TOM'S EMMY PICKS
Critic Tom Gliatto tells who should win—and why—at TV's big awards event, airing Sept. 16 on FOX.
JAMES GANDOLFINI, The Sopranos
HUGH LAURIE, House
DENIS LEARY, Rescue Me
JAMES SPADER, Boston Legal
KIEFER SUTHERLAND, 24
Gandolfini already has three Emmys, but this final season he deserves extra thanks for not sentimentalizing Mr. Soprano. If anything, he was terrifying. The scene in which Tony calmly kills Christopher after a car accident was the sort of moment that crystallizes an entire drama: A flash of criminal intuition inspired a brutal man to do his worst.
ALEC BALDWIN, 30 Rock
STEVE CARELL, The Office
RICKY GERVAIS, Extras
TONY SHALHOUB, Monk
CHARLIE SHEEN, Two and a Half Men
As a corporate executive brought in to run network programming, Baldwin wears his business suits with an assurance that rivals Bill Clinton's and speaks in a voice of brushed steel. Yet he makes every line and gesture funny. The performance is beautifully measured in its irony and humor, and none of his competitors come close.
PATRICIA ARQUETTE, Medium
MINNIE DRIVER, The Riches
EDIE FALCO, The Sopranos
SALLY FIELD, Brothers & Sisters
MARISKA HARGITAY, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
KYRA SEDGWICK, The Closer
Sedgwick's performance as detective Brenda Leigh Johnson has been getting a bit showy lately—it's as if she wants to turn the kaleidoscope until we see every facet—but it's still a great, juicy turn on a top-notch vehicle. Runner-up: Minnie Driver with her Southern drawl and sad eyes on The Riches.
AMERICA FERRERA, Ugly Betty
TINA FEY, 30 Rock
FELICITY HUFFMAN, Desperate Housewives
JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS, The New Adventures of Old Christine
MARY-LOUISE PARKER, Weeds
When 30 Rock premiered, Fey struck me as being pinched, hemmed in. But she very quickly added all sorts of light, playful nuances to the role of comedy writer Liz Lemon, a woman who can be both mousy and sexy. Definitely the most improved in this group, and so most deserving.
This sci-fi adventure was a model of how to create an epic of comic book proportions: Keep things fast, funny, eye-catchingly freaky.
Re-watching Season 1 on DVD, I think this is a sitcom conceived in high definition: glimmering, smart, oh-so-sharp.
TWO AND A HALF MEN