Thursday TV: Dr. Oz With a Knife

surgeon-oz-series-launch-30-949x534He’s a favorite of afternoon TV and was guest star on the summer documentary “NY Med.” So now, Dr. Mehmed Oz has his own show following his work in surgery. “Surgeon Oz” (OWN, 10 p.m.), not surprisingly, finds a place on the network of his employer, Oprah Winfrey.

Sting goes “Inside the Actors Studio” (Bravo, 8 p.m.) to promote his musical “The Last Ship,” soon to open on Broadway.


Christian Siriano is judge of the new spinoff “Project Runway: Threads” (Lifetime, 10:30 p.m.), with teenage designers. It follows the 13th season finale of  “Project Runway” (Lifetime, 9 p.m.), with the final four — Sean Kelly, Amanda Valentine, Kini Zamora and Char Glover — presenting their collections during New York Fashion Week. Guest judge is Emmy Rossum of “Shameless.”

Too soon to invite a love interest to an aunt’s funeral? That’s the question on “A to Z” (NBC, 9:30 p.m.). I did an interview with the producer that appeared here.

No World Series tonight, but Thursday Night Football has San Diego at Denver (CBS, 8:25 p.m.). College football includes Miami at Virginia Tech (ESPN, 7:30 p.m.).

A new season starts for the spoofy “Newsreaders” (Cartoon Network, midnight) with Alan Tudyk taking over as head anchor Reagan Biscaine.  Read More »

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Wednesday TV: More ‘Web Therapy’

Episode 310It’s quite a few weeks for Lisa Kudrow. Just before her comedy “The Comeback” returns to HBO after nine years Nov. 9, here she is on the rival premium cable network, with the fourth season of another brilliantly nuanced nutjob — the online only therapist Fiona Wallace on “Web Therapy” (Showtime, 11 p.m.).

In the season premiere, Fiona is matched for sheer nuttiness on the premiere by another spiritual blonde, Gwyneth Paltrow, portraying a loopy healer. Kudrow seems to get bigger and bigger stars involved in her unhinged improvisations including Jon Hamm, Allison Janney, Matthew Perry and Billy Crystal as well as the recurring guests, including Victor Garber, Dan Bucatinsky and Lily Tomlin.

Royals fans were a little disappointed with Game 1 on Tuesday, here’s the second game of the World Series, with San Francisco at Kansas City (Fox, 8 p.m.). The anthem singer? Onetime “American Idol” winner Philip Phillips.

A new “Nova” (PBS, 9 p.m.) looks at the first flight of hot air balloons in Paris. Benjamin Franklin was there to watch the first launch in 1783.

There hardly seems a need to have a Halloween episode on “American Horror Story: Freak Show” (FX, 10 p.m.) — every week is meant as a scare. This week also sees the addition of Emma Roberts as a fortune teller.

With most of the cast transfered to Earth, where we finally see Mount Weather, “The 100″ (The CW, 9 p.m.) returns for its second season.

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Drew Imploded Before Tonight’s Tribe Switch on ‘Survivor: San Juan del Sur’

drew-christy-survivor-blood-vs-water-2-voted-out To look at it now, it would have been so easy for Drew Christy, the impetuous and outspoken dude on “Survivor: San Juan del Sur—Blood vs. Water” to have just laid low for one more week.

He could have made it to tonight’s buff-dropping  tribe switching.

But that wouldn’t have been Drew.

Instead, he threw the immunity competition, sending his previously unbeaten tribe Hunahpu to tribal council for the first time – where the long-haired Florida salesman was promptly voted out.

“I definitely went out with a bang,” Christy said in a phone interview Tuesday.  “Even though it didn’t work out the way I wanted.”

For a guy who was formerly so far under the radar he was often filmed snoozing while teammates worked, last week’s episode was all about Drew.

First he tried to bargain with Jeff Probst when he found the flint his tribe had formerly lost, trying to get back a fishing equipment prize they had bargained away for the replacement flint. “Maybe it was a little bit delusional,” he said.

Then he volunteered to go to Exile Island – mostly to strategize with Jaclyn, the boyfriend of his teammate Jon, with whom they had hatched a plan to align, along with Drew’s brother Alec.

“Once the merge happened, the four of us would be a strong alliance and a force to be reckoned with if we made it that far,” Christy said. “But obviously I did not. “

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Tuesday TV: World Series Plays Ball

Trisha Yearwood sings the National AnthemTrisha Yearwood sings the National Anthem for Game 1 of the Fall Classic, with San Francisco at Kansas City (Fox, 8 p.m.) for the World Series.

If it’s basketball you’re waiting for, the glory days of the early 70s New York Knicks, with Walt Frazier, Dave DeBusshere, Willis Reed and Bill Bradley are celebrated in Michael Rapaport’s documentary on “30 for 30” (ESPN, 9 p.m.) titled “When the Garden Was Eden,” based on a book by Harvey Araton.

A second season starts for “True Tori” (Lifetime, 9 p.m.), the Tori Spelling reality variation that centers on her problems with husband  Dean McDermott.

Like the U.S., the motorcycle club on “Sons of Anarchy” (FX, 10 p.m.) has to align with some unusual partners to take on an enemy.

Woman fight for the right to serve and protect their country in the “Women in War” segment on “Makers” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings) that is narrated by Christiane Amanpour.

It follows another session of “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr.” (PBS, 8 p.m., check local listings) in which he looks into the family trees of chefs Tom Colicchio, Aaron Sanchez and Ming Tsai.

They’re moving in together on “Marry Me” (NBC, 9 p.m.). In other new romantic comedies, Eliza tries to be a babysitter on a new “Selfie” (ABC, 8 p.m.). And an oyster bar reservation gets in the way of the first intimacy on “Manhattan Love Story” (ABC, 8:30 p.m.).

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Monday TV: Domestic Abuse, also Football

privateviolence02-thumbIt’s a dark irony that Cynthia Hill’s compelling documentary on domestic abuse “Private Violence” (HBO, 9 p.m.) is playing opposite the NFL, where a number of cases have been recently made headlines.

Her film, marking the 20th anniversary of the VIolence Against Women Act, concentrates on an advocate in North Carolina who works chiefly with a harrowing case of a young wife and mother who were kidnapped and beaten on a trip in an 18 wheeler in California on Halloween night 2008 before she finally was freed and sent to the hospital in Oklahoma.

The central question answered in the film is why women often return to their violent partners, showing how fear of brutal retaliation keeps them there. Statistics show 48 percent of women killed in domestic violence homicides are murdered after they leave or are trying to leave. There is an optimism in the film, as victims gather strength to testify and see their abusers jailed.

And the hitting in the field continues on Monday Night Football, with Houston at Pittsburgh (ESPN, 8:15 p.m.).

There doesn’t seem to have been too many changes of “American Dad” (TBS, 9 p.m.) as it moves from Fox to cable. It’s not any funnier, certainly. In the 10th season premiere, Haley dyes her hair blonde to get her causes across, but finds that famous people at fundraisers are pretty much hypocrites. Also Stan looks at a house in a gated community.

“The Millers” (CBS, 8:30 p.m.) returns for its second season, with that touch of sitcom desperation: Sean Hayes joins the cast.

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Sunday TV: Devilish ‘Treehouse’ on ‘Simpsons’

simpsons-treehouseThe 25th edition of “Treehouse of Horror” on “The Simpsons” (Fox, 8 p.m.) is not only a good one, it actually happens before Halloween (post season baseball has played havoc with the schedule in past years).

They pack more stories and gags into the Halloween edition and this year is no exception. In the first, Lisa and Bart travel to hell. In the well-realized second story is a fine homage to the films of Stanley Kubrick, chiefly “A Clockwork Orange” mixed with “Eyes Wide Shut.” Finally, to mark a quarter century of such celebrations, the original Simpsons meet the present day family for a showdown.

“The Walking Dead” (AMC, 9 p.m.) drew an astounding 17 million viewers for its return last week, beating even football. And the episode put the group on the move again, giving the story a little velocity. So it should do well again tonight, as Rick leads a mission to replenish supplies.

Producers of “Homeland” (Showtime, 9 p.m.) are always making Carrie Matheson do things that test our loyalty to her. She does something pretty shocking tonight as well.

Things are pretty explosive on “Boardwalk Empire” (HBO, 9 p.m.) as it approaches its series finale next week. Two main characters died last week and there may be more tonight.

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Mailbag: Mulling a Couple of Fox Shows

mulaney2A friend writes:

 I think I like ‘Mulaney’ better than I’m supposed to. I always felt not enough sitcoms really learned from ‘Seinfeld’ ‘s example, or maybe that all the ones that were sort of in its mold missed the important “No hugs, no lessons” rule. The only one I can think of that actually came close was ‘It’s Like, You Know …’ from 13 years ago now.

Of course, I’ve seen exactly one episode of ‘Mulaney’ at this point (and seeing a lot more, where it’s scheduled, is going to be highly problematic) but I don’t think trying (even almost slavishly) to be like ‘Seinfeld’ is a big problem in itself. More power to it.

“Mulaney” is certainly aware of how similar it is to “Seinfeld” with its standup starts, and its apartment building full of lovably nutty friends. But they also seem to take time in every episode to mention the similarity. Which doesn’t make it immune to copycat charges, but does show some self awareness. I still have hopes for it, even though Fox recently cut the original 16 episode order to 13 (“Seinfeld” had similar growing pains).

Another friend writes about “Gracepoint.”

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Saturday TV: Three New TV Movies

big-driver-tv-review-lifetimeWhile most networks have gotten completely out of the business of TV movies, a few places turn out new films week in and week out. Two of them have better than usual offerings tonight. “Big Driver” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.), based on a Stephen King story,  is the biggest departure, with Maria Bello playing a famed writer of mysteries and thrillers who is brutally assaulted after a speaking engagement.

Instead of merely calling the police, she is bent on revenge and follows a rabbit hole to get him. Along the way are some riffs on writing and the pernicious nature of disembodied GPS voices. Included in the cast are Olympia Dukakis and, in the must surprising turn, Joan Jett as a one-eyed barkeep.

“My Boyfriends’ Dogs” (Hallmark, 9 p.m.) is a little more expected fare, with Erika Christensen of “Parenthood” playinga young woman who is unlucky at love, but loves all of her ex-boyfriends’ dogs. Joyce deWitt is also part of the cast.

There is nothing out of the ordinary, though, with this week’s B-movie release from Syfy, a tale about an evil doll that had been left behind by a previous family, “Finder’s Keepers” (Syfy, 9 p.m.) with Jaime Pressly and Tobin Bell.

On a new “Doctor Who” (BBC America, 9 p.m.), Clary fights a menace from a different dimension as she tries to free the Doctor from a trap.

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Playlist 10-17-14

radioCPRIt’s Chuck Berry’s 88th birthday, so there was a lot of the pioneer of rock and roll and his wittily written songs.

Then there was a lot of Jayhawks, since they’re coming to town to play a couple of venues next week.

And with Halloween approaching, yes, there was time to dip into all things this side of “Monster Mash,” ending up with  Southern Culture on the Skids, which is also in town this weekend.

Here’s what I played on the radio tonight.

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Friday TV: Dave Grohl’s Rock Travelogue

Foo Fighters Sonic Highways: Trailer (HBO) (Screengrab)“Foo: Fighters Sonic Highways” (HBO, 11 p.m.) grew out of the band’s desire to do something different for an album marking its 20th year. Rather than go to one city to record, they’ll go to 10, and along the way they’ll try to soak up as much music history and lore in each one.

The travels begin tonight in Chicago, for the series whose each episode culminates in the recording of a track whose lyrics reflect what they’ve learned from their visit (each with Butch Vig, though they meet other producers along the way).

Why start in Chicago? Well there’s Buddy Guy and the blues legacy there, but it’s also the place he saw his first live show when his punk rock cousin took him to see Naked Raygun at the Cubbie Bear. They get Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick to play on the track they play in the studio of Steve Albini, whose impressive work is also noted, both in his band Big Black and as a producer, whose impressive roster of albums have included Grohl when he was in Nirvana.

Next week will be more nostalgic for Grohl, returning to his Washington, D.C. environs and recording at Shirlington, Va., Inner Ear Studio, which Grohl calls “the one studio that produced the entire soundtrack of my youth.”

Grohl cut his teeth in film doing his 2013 documentary “Sound City” and he’s turned into quite an effective documentarian with a lively eye. And few would have such a feel for his deeply felt subject. That each tour stop ends with a performance of the cut from the new album that they recorded in that city may seem self-serving. But it’s the best music series on TV in quite a long while. A story I wrote about the series earlier appears here.

Elsewhere tonight, Foo Fighters end a weeklong residency on “Late Show with David Letterman” (CBS, 11:35 p.m.), where they band has covered Black Sabbath, Heart, Tony Joe White and Cheap Trick mostly with members of those acts.

For music of another kind there’s “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess from San Francisco Opera” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings), starring bass baritone Eric Owens and soprano Laquita Mitchell with John DeMain conducting the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Francesca Zambello directs the production that includes such standards as “It Ain’t Necessarily So” and “Summertime.”

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