CBS, Tuesdays, 10 p.m. ET/PT |
Julianna Margulies's legal drama is very much like her performance: sleek and confidently understated. The whole thing has the texture of an expensive photo shoot for a new line of women's power suits. Alicia Florrick takes up her long-abandoned career as a lawyer after her politician husband (Chris Noth) is jailed, disgraced by follies that include call girls. (Thanks for the premise, Eliot Spitzer!) The show is unusually nimble at cutting back and forth between Alicia's cases and the repercussions of her spouse-the-louse's behavior (which may turn out to be less criminal than initially thought). In a fine supporting cast, the standout has turned out to be Archie Panjabi as investigator Kalinda Sharma. Her sarcastic bite plays off Alicia's prudent reserve. This Wife isn't just good— it's closer to perfect.
Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space
NBC, Oct. 28, 8 p.m. ET/PT |
Spun off from the hit movie, this half-hour Halloween special has the frantic, hopping energy of a sugar high. But maybe that's the point. A story about alien pumpkins who aren't content to be jack-o'-lanterns, it's a cautionary fable about eating too much candy. The big plus is the voice work, particularly Seth Rogen's as gelatinously blue B.O.B.—the performances have a funny, off-the-cuff ease. However two Elvis jokes in a kids' special are two Elvis jokes too many. Whatever the season.
FX, Oct. 29, 10:30 p.m. ET/PT |
This slouchy series follows a bunch of guys whose keenest interest in life is participating in their fantasy football league. It celebrates male immaturity—what else is new? The jokes are suitably offensive (actually, quite offensive), but the cast isn't likable enough to make you enjoy, or at least forgive, the bad taste. The best performance in the premiere is from Paul Scheer as the richest yet arguably most pathetic member of the group. A guy who thinks it's cool to keep an old marijuana joint in a picture frame is such a loser, he's almost a winner.
Place of Execution
PBS, Nov. 1, check local listings |
This two-part British thriller about the small-town murder of a 13-year-old girl in the 1960s sprints down two parallel tracks. We alternate between a TV journalist (Juliet Stevenson) reexamining the old evidence of the case as she makes a documentary, and a flashback account of the original investigation into the girl's disappearance. The case is handled by a rather nervous young police officer (Lee Ingleby) determined to get a conviction of the girl's stepfather (Greg Wise), whose snobbery wins him no friends among the locals. A last-minute revelation makes for a genuinely novel twist, and the acting throughout—especially Stevenson's—is incisive, maybe a little melancholy. Good stuff, and very satisfying.
The Little Couple
TLC, Oct. 27, 10 p.m. ET/PT |
What promises to be a touching, entertaining Season Two begins with a thorny medical issue confronting the show's adorable couple, both of whom are under 4 ft. tall: Does Jen Arnold (a neonatologist) have lungs strong enough to bear the extra weight of a pregnancy? Her husband, businessman Bill Klein, seems the more risk-averse of the two: "I need Jen around if we have a baby. I need Jen around if we don't have a baby. I need Jen around, period." How nice to find such caring, sensible people in crazy Reality Land.