TV Diary

a) "Boardwalk Empire"
I love Steve Buscemi, but he's the exact kind of aging character actor who usually makes the jump to TV with something undignified like a "Law & Order" spinoff, so I'm really happy that he's the star of a hyped up prestigious HBO series. Not really sure how into this I am, though, it's definitely well made and there were some moments in the pilot that I really liked, but I'm not hooked on seeing this every week just yet, will have to stick it out and give it a chance.

b) "True Blood"
This definitely wasn't as good this year as it was last year, but the entertainment level is still pretty high with this show and there were some pretty fun moments and crazy scenes this season.

c) "Outlaw"
Watching Jimmy Smits and Jesse Bradford walk around in suits doing something noble and important makes this feel kind of like a bunch of deleted scenes from a later season of "The West Wing," but so far I kinda like this, if it doesn't get too stupid and/or boring and procedural, the turns the pilot took were entertaining enough.

d) "Big Lake"
A sitcom with Chris Parnell and Horatio Sanz is an easy sell to me, but the first episode scared me off a little bit because it's one of those shows with a really jarring laugh track and obviously no actual studio audience. But Parnell has a great classic Parnell scumbag character and the writing is occasionally sharp, if also occasionally corny and obvious, and the lead is kinda weak.

e) "Undercovers"
This is kind of light and fluffy and not much of anything, when really spy shows should at least give you a little bit of plot twists and intrigue, but I'll probably watch it anyway because Gugu Mbatha-Raw is gorgeous.

f) "Dad Camp"
I like the kind of self help-y angle VH1 is taking with some of its shows these days, and this one was really interesting for me to watch as a new dad, because even though I think I'm pretty good at it, fatherhood is a crazy thing to get your head around and some of these guys just needed more help with it and I'm glad they got it. It's almost like "Tool Academy" if things had to become a little more serious because there were kids involved.

g) "Last Comic Standing"
This was really good this season, enjoyed the new host and new judging panel, and was glad they dropped the format of having the finalists live in a house together, that was dumb. It was frustrating that a lot of my favorites (including a dude from Baltimore named Jason Weems) got knocked out early and I didn't love the guy that won, but really the field was surprisingly strong this year and there wasn't really anyone I was actively rooting against. Although every year on this show there are a couple people that audition that I've already seen on TV a bunch of times, like Jim David and Jordan Carlos this year, and I'm like get off the damn stage, let someone who hasn't made it at all yet get a chance.

h) "The Green Room with Paul Provenza"
I really loved this show and wish there were more than just a few episodes of it, because it really is just a bunch of comics sitting around bullshitting totally uncensored, and puts all those other cheesy shows with 'panels' of comics politely riffing on current events to shame. It didn't quite live up to the first episode, though, some of the other groups of comics didn't quite gel, but man I hope this comes back for another season.

i) "Louie"
This sort of completed my trifecta of summer shows that made me think a lot about standup comedy, but I feel a lot more ambivalent about it. Louis C.K. is a brilliant, brilliant comic, and he's just not a particularly great director or storyteller or actor, so the clips of him doing standup in every episode so far outshined the really hit and miss, sometimes painful not-quite-a-sitcom-not-quite-a-sketch stuff that made up the bulk of the show, and there were times when I really hated it.

j) "The Pacific"
I still haven't seen "Band Of Brothers" but it seemed important that I sit down and watch this. And I dunno, as much as I totally feel that people should keep making WW2 movies and shows as much as they can while there are still living veterans around to help tell the stories and watch them, there really is a certain point at which it feels like it's all been done and even something with a relatively new angle like this kinda goes through all the motions, where these real lives and real stories are reduced to numbing war movie cliches, which is sad on a whole other level.

k) "Persons Unknown"
Of all the wannabe "Lost" shows floating around network schedules these days, I thought this had potential just for being a summer miniseries with the promise that "by the end of the summer, there will be answers" or whatever, so that they're pinned to coming up with a satisfying 13-episode arc. But really the story was so convoluted and useless that I just never got pulled into it and sometimes catching up OnDemand I'd start watching the same episode a 2nd time or skip ahead to the wrong one, and it'd take me a while to notice because I just didn't care enough to follow the story closely. I always like to see Alan Ruck getting work, though. There was a really hilarious scene where a cab driver pulled up to 2 characters in the middle of nowhere, and it was the cab driver from "How I Met Your Mother," that cracked me up.

l) "Futurama"
I'm not the biggest "Futurama" fan in the world (that would be my wife), but I was happy to see this come back and even though it's sometimes noticeable that their animation budget is smaller and I miss the really dazzling visuals they'd occasionally come up with, there were a couple of really brilliant episodes this season.

m) "Scoundrels"
This show was a real wash, although Virginia Madsen's still hot.

n) Kids In The Hall: Death Comes To Town"
I kinda gave up trying to watch this online after a couple episodes, so I'm glad IFC finally started airing it, it definitely started to hit its stride after a while, although it's by no means KITH at their very best.

o) "Hung"
The show was good this season, I still feel like I like this more than most people, but it's definitely not a great show and I feel like there's more they could be doing with these characters.

p) "Entourage"
This has of course been terrible for ages, and if it's more tolerable lately it's either a dead cat bounce or just relief that the end is near. One of those Sasha Grey episodes was definitely one of the worst in the series' history, though, and the Turtle plotline was just painfully tedious.
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"Gugu Mbatha-Raw is gorgeous.
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