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Caryn James

TV Review, "Piers Morgan Tonight"

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 18, 2011 5:19 AM
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  • 1 Comment
After rivers of annoying self-promotion, Piers Morgan Tonight finally arrived on CNN to replace Larry King, and while there’s not a lot you can learn from one episode – especially when the guest is the thoroughly atypical Oprah Winfrey -- here’s what I do know. Piers was much less smarmy than his endless braggadocio had led me to expect.
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TV Review: Ricky Gervais' Golden Globes Implosion

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 17, 2011 6:58 AM
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  • 37 Comments
If you were watching Ricky Gervais host the Golden Globes on Sunday, for the first hour you could tell you were watching a go-for-broke performance that would become -- and I‘m not exaggerating – legendary, a benchmark by which other flameout hosting gigs are measured. In his opening monologue Gervais took on Scientologists and accusations of bribery in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the group that hands out the Globes.
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Well-Matched, Well-Played, Robert Downey: Watch Him at the Globes

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 17, 2011 6:10 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Ricky Gervais' monologue and Robert Downey Jr.'s comeback were the most talked-about moments at last night's Golden Globes, for good reason. While most of the audience seemed so flummoxed by Gervais' often brilliant skewering that they couldn't decide whether to laugh, Downey volleyed back with the same kind of mockery, sending up one of Hollywood's biggest cliches, sleeping with your co-stars.
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TV Review: MTV's "Skins" Takes on "Gossip Girl"

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 17, 2011 3:00 AM
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  • 1 Comment
MTV may have missed a marketing opportunity for its brash, engrossing American remake (yet another one!) of Skins, the hit British series about a group of teenaged friends who have sex, do drugs, drink and ... well, that’s pretty much what they do. The MTV slogan could have been: Come for the social anthropology, stay for the characters.
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TV Review. "Big Love" and Mormons, Mormons Everywhere

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 14, 2011 6:16 AM
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  • 0 Comments
As Big Love begins its final season (Sunday on HBO) we can see the influence of this series about a polygamist and his three wives all over the culture. In recent months alone we’ve had Brady Udall’s rich, grabbing literary novel The Lonely Polygamist and the reality series Sister Wives on TLC. The pattern is clear: not mainstream Mormons, but breakaway polygamists, feeding our voyeuristic interest in multiple marriage.
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TV Review. "Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides"

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 11, 2011 3:30 AM
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  • 0 Comments
While he was raking in awards for Crazy Heart last year, Jeff Bridges made a point of thanking his stand-in, Loyd Catlett. Now Catlett, who has observed Bridges at close range over four decades, offers one sly little comment in the American Masters bio Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides: "Rooster Cogburn is probably the Dude’s great-great-great grandfather.”
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TV Review. Off the Map, Where Grey's Anatomy Collides With Lost

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 10, 2011 3:00 AM
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  • 1 Comment
The promos for Off the Map, the new ABC drama about doctors in a run-down clinic in a remote South American village, look like Grey’s Anatomy meets Lost, but I never imagined this disappointing clunker would really be that mashup. The series is executive produced by Grey's Shonda Rhimes and created by one of its producers, Jenna Bans, and like that much more engaging medical soap opera, Off the Map features attractive young doctors among an experienced hospital staff. Love affairs! Jockeying for the bloodiest cases!
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TV Review: Shameless, Now With U.S. Welfare Fraud

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 7, 2011 3:21 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Can a falling-down drunk, single father of six, who pays his $700 a month bar tab – when he pays it at all – with his fraudulently-gotten disability checks be the hero of a series? Well, sure. It’s not easy. The original British Shameless, about an irresponsible father and his children, all of them resourcefully skirting the law, was about a family with accents that were sometimes hard to decipher, living in Manchester council housing. They were original, surprising, and they were Britain’s problem. The American remake follows the original almost to the letter, but the distance vanishes when the family lives in Chicago and is cheating the U.S. government.
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TV Review, Downton Abbey: Such Elegant Social Upheaval

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 6, 2011 2:56 AM
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  • 3 Comments
In 1912, the aristocrats and servants at Downton Abbey live in a world where bad news comes by telegram – like the one informing Lord Grantham that his cousin and heir has been lost with the Titanic. By the end of this sumptuous, endlessly entertaining miniseries, it is 1914, a new-fangled telephone has been installed, and we can see far better than the characters can that World War I is about to explode their stable world.
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TV Review, Showtime’s Episodes: Matt LeBlanc Outsmarts Joey

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 5, 2011 4:12 AM
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  • 14 Comments
Infotainment and the internet have created a country of show-biz insiders, shrewd about every Hollywood ploy. What dark corners are left after you’ve heard Mel Gibson rant? That makes satire harder to pull off than ever, and it doesn’t take much to see where Showtime’s new Matt LeBlanc series will go.
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