The Week In TV: Boardwalk Empire And Bravo, Two Ends Of A Spectrum
• So, the World Cup started the other day. I was with friends at a Mexican restaurant when the USA-England game began, which meant I later had to pretend I'd paid attention when asked about it by others. ("Did you see Dempsey's goal?" one asked me. Not knowing what else to do, I nodded quickly, saying nothing.) I have nothing at all against soccer, but I do have a problem with people who suddenly act like soccer fans after years of never mentioning the sport or appearing to care about it in the least. They're hangers-on, the same type of people who bought Red Sox caps in November 2004. If you want to be a soccer fan, be a soccer fan. Don't trot out passion every few years and act like you know what you're talking about. For the latest World Cup info, head to FIFA, and for a helpful explanation of the sport, visit The Onion. And of course, don't forget these:
• HBO dropped a new trailer this week for Boardwalk Empire, their new drama series created by The Sopranos' Terence Winter and featuring creative input from Martin Scorsese, who directed the pilot. The clip is probably the first time I have ever believed Steve Buscemi as a badass. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for a glimpse Michael K. Williams, aka Omar:
• Bravo, a network once defined by its arts and culture programming and now best understood as a repository for the putrid filth that highlights the worst aspects of the human condition, had some success the other night with Bethenny Getting Married?, a spinoff of The Real Housewives of New York City, itself a spinoff of The Real Housewives of Orange County, which was in turn a spinoff of basic torture techniques used in Iraqi prisons. (The title of the show is meant to be read as a question asked with incredulity, as if the viewer were right to question why this wretched person was attaching herself to another.) The premiere episode drew 2.1 million viewers, which means that a group of people on par with the population of Houston decided that they had nothing better to do than spend an hour watching a whiny, uncompromising, worthless example of humanity spend frivolously and set a terrible example for everyone around her. Nothing better to do at all. Not read, or walk the dog, or take up amateur carpentry. Nothing better than to tell Bravo, "Yes, I will give of my time and heart to your vapid endeavor." This, ladies and gentlemen, is why they hate us.
• Glee wrapped its first season on Tuesday with solid ratings -- 11.1 million viewers, enough to rank as the best finale for this season's new shows -- and the same story you've now seen 22 times. Ever since Glee came back from its midseason break, it's been even more shallow and cartoonish, with too much emphasis placed on show-stopping numbers and not enough on the hearts and minds of the characters who find themselves compelled to sing them. It's also lazy plotting to keep acting like the club is constantly on the verge of being disbanded when the show's been renewed for another two seasons. Pick a new threat, guys. If you don't believe me, believe Pete.
• Another show also wrapped its first season last week: FX's Justified. This is easily one the most entertaining new shows of the year, and certainly the best new drama of the season. Timothy Olyphant's been great, Walton Goggins has been a formidable and eerie opponent, and the show found a nice balance of crook-of-the-week stories and season-long pursuits. It doesn't have the flash of Nip/Tuck or the over-the-top antics of Sons of Anarchy, and it surely doesn't have the preachiness and unlikable characters of Rescue Me. It's a smart, straight-ahead neo-Western, and the best thing on FX right now, period. I can't wait for next season.
• Glenn Beck, despite his substantial time commitments saving the world from commies and explaining conspiracy theories via chalkboard scribblings, has cobbled together something vaguely resembling a novel. Titled The Overton Window in hopes of confusing Tom Clancy readers into buying a new book, Beck's book deals with conspiracies, liberalism, book-learnin', and other threats to a vanishing America. It's also already garnering attention for Beck's way with innuendo. There's a scene in which the protagonist and the woman who will become his love interest share a bed for protection (or something), at which point she presses her feet against his legs, only to incur his righteous wrath when he tells her, "Don't tease the panther." This is both the weirdest way I have ever heard a man's sexual passion described, but it also makes sense that Beck, an unrepentant nutbar, would use such terrible imagery. It wasn't enough for him to confuse our elderly and poison the national issues debate; now he's fucking with literature. This guy has to be stopped.
• This is just sad: Fans of ABC's FlashForward, presumably unaware that there exist legitimately good TV series that would make for much better objects of their adoration, staged mass demonstrations the other day in which they all "blacked out" to mirror the flashforwards on the show in hopes of using their fandom to persuade ABC to un-cancel the show. People: FlashForward was terrible. Bad writing, acting, plotting, everything. The network did you a favor.
• Finally, I leave you with this recap of Futurama so you can relive the glory before new episodes start airing on Comedy Central on Thursday, June 24. Bonus: It's narrated by the one and only Zapp Brannigan.