Tag: Ted Danson

TCA Tour: Damages

I loved the first season of “Damages,” but time constraints kept me from following the second season of the series as closely as I would’ve liked. Still, my dedication to the show was such that, when I heard there was going to be a panel for its third season, I wanted to make sure that I’d checked out the screener of the season’s first two episodes before it took place, so that I’d be fully prepared for the event. What I hadn’t realized, though, was that I would be so caught up in those episodes that my first task upon returning home from the tour would be to immediately put Season 2 into the DVD player and watch it immediately. Yes, my love of “Damages” is back with a vengeance…which, given the theme of the series, is absolutely apropos.

There’s only one problem when it comes to discussing Season 3 of “Damages” and it’s this: a key event occurs in the season premiere that I can’t possibly give away. As such, I’m forced to dance around it…which sucks, because, man, I reeeeeeeally want to talk about it with someone.

What we can talk about, at least, is the general premise of the season, which revolves around a suspiciously-familiar concept: a high-profile financier who turns his wealth management business into a massive Ponzi scheme that defrauds thousands of investors of billions of dollars. But, c’mon, this panel took place before an audience of intelligent critics (and, no, that’s not a contradiction in terms, thank you very much), so no one was going to ask, “So, is it a coincidence that this resembles the whole Bernie Madoff situation?” The better question, obviously, was whether or not any other news stories were in competition for use as the thrust of Season 3.

“Well, I don’t know if I’d call it competition,” said executive producer Daniel Zelman, laughing. “But there were several stories we were looking at, not just the Madoff case. There was an attorney named Marc Dreier who fascinated us. You may have seen; he did an interview on “60 Minutes.” But he had perpetrated some $700 million con essentially. And also, a businessman named Allen Stanford had basically created a bank in Antigua that supposedly had billions of dollars in it, but had nothing in it. So we were really drawn to all of these stories, and we’re using elements of all these stories in the story that we’re telling, although coming through the front door, it’s sort of more around the Madoff scenario.”

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Greetings to the New Show: “Bored to Death”

You may recall that, during my TCA press tour wrap-up, I declared the panel for HBO’s new series, “Bored to Death,” to be the funniest of anything presented to us by any cable network. But in fairness, I also admitted during my coverage of the panel itself that, at the time, I still hadn’t actually seen the show, though I was still willing to take what I’d seen in advance clips and heard from the panelists and say, “Basically, if this show isn’t a hit, then it’s at least destined to be remembered as one of the greatest cult sitcoms of all time.” I think I’m still pretty safe in sticking with that theory, but now that I have seen the first few episodes of “Bored to Death,” I have to admit that, although it gets a good head of steam during the second episode, it’s rather slow-going when it comes out of the gate tonight.

HBO’s press release for the series summarizes “Bored to Death” thusly: “Jonathan Ames, a young Brooklyn writer, is feeling lost. Heʼs just gone through a painful break-up, thanks in part to his drinking, canʼt write his second novel, and carouses too much with his magazine editor. Rather than face reality, Jonathan turns instead to his fantasies – moonlighting as a private detective – because he wants to be a hero and a man of action.” That doesn’t really do tonight’s premiere justice, though. Things do kick off with Jonathan (Jason Schwartzman) watching his girlfriend move out of their apartment, but it’s in a moment of quiet desperation – and with a coffee cup full of white wine – that he spontaneously decides to put an ad on Craigslist, claiming to be a private detective. Despite admitting that he’s not licensed, he nonetheless gets a call in short order, and he’s off on his first case…though it’s probably not a good sign that his client, before their first meeting is over, has asked, “Are you sure you’re a detective…?”

As with all first episodes, we spend more time setting the stage than anything else. We meet Jonathan’s best friend, comic book illustrator Ray Hueston (Zach Galifianakis), as well as his boss, magazine editor George Christopher (Ted Danson), but the predominant purpose of tonight’s premiere (“The Stockholm Syndrome”) is to give us an idea who these guys are and what roles they play in Jonathan’s life. Rest assured that, in the subsequent couple of episodes, they will find a much larger place within his new profession…and also rest assured that, if the premiere of “Bored to Death” does indeed leave you feeling like its title, the odds of the sensation continuing next week are few.

TCA Tour, Day 3: “Bored to Death”

HBO’s “Bored to Death” panel wins the award for Most Likely To Make Me Want To Watch My Advance Screener When I Get Home, but, then again, it’s already a testimony to how freaking busy I was before I left for California that I couldn’t find the time to check out a series that features a triple-threat cast of Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson, and Zach Galifianakis. When the panel kicked off with this trailer, however, I knew that, even though much of my pre-TCA time was spent trying to help my wife put together our daughter’s 4th birthday, I’d clearly spent that time poorly.

By the way, that was obviously a joke about spending my time poorly (the party was a huge success), but I’m completely serious about wanting to watch the screener as soon as I get home. In addition to the trailer, though, every single person on the panel was hilarious…even Schwartzman, who appeared via satellite due to filming commitments on “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.”

HBO’s nutshell synopsis of the series…or, at least, the opening paragraph of the press release for the show, which generally tends to be about the same thing…reads as follows: “Jonathan Ames, a young Brooklyn writer, is feeling lost. Heʼs just gone through a painful break-up, thanks in part to his drinking, canʼt write his second novel, and carouses too much with his magazine editor. Rather than face reality, Jonathan turns instead to his fantasies – moonlighting as a private detective – because he wants to be a hero and a man of action.” The idea of Schwartzman as a man of action is funny enough in and of itself, but then you’ve got Danson as the aforementioned magazine editor, Galifianakis as Ames’s eccentric best friend, and a premise (and cast) which lends itself to high-profile guest stars. Basically, if this show isn’t a hit, then it’s at least destined to be remembered as one of the greatest cult sitcoms of all time.

Oh, and did I mention that Jonathan Ames is actually a real person? True story. He’s apparently a rather prolific author, in fact. (My apologies: I wasn’t familiar with him before this.) Having listened to him chat during the panel for “Bored to Death,” I think it’s fair to say that the stars of the shows are going to be in good comedic hands. Personally, I was convinced of this when he was asked to explain why the show – which would appear on the surface to be anything but boring – was given a name which so readily offers journalists a chance to fire back with snarky punchlines.

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Old Show, New Season: “Damages”

If we were to organize those readers of Premium Hollywood who’ve watched the entire first season of “Damages” into two groups – the ones who watched it when it originally aired and the ones who watched it when it came out on DVD – and took a quick poll about why the latter group watched it on DVD, I’d guess a sizable number of people would say one of two things:

1. I missed the premiere, and when I tried to pick up the series a few episodes in, I felt like I’d already missed too much.
2. I missed an episode during the season, and I knew I’d never be able to figure out what happened, so I just decided to wait for the DVD.

Yeah, it’s true: “Damages” is that kind of show…and I should know, having been one of the people who missed the premiere. But when I got the Season 1 DVD set, I blew threw it as quickly as my schedule allowed. It was an enthralling thriller which managed to be that rare breed of legal drama which almost never set foot in a courtroom, with gripping performances from Glenn Close, Ted Danson, Rose Byrne, and Željko Ivanek and many a moment that left you breathless. In the end, Ellen Parsons (Byrne) went through hell and back, leading her to declare war on Patty Hewes (Close) by teaming with the FBI to bring her down from the inside, all the while maintaining a front and pretending to be her number-one employee.

Season 2 begins in approximately the same chronological manner as Season 1, starting in the present with a jarring opening scene, then jumping back in time to begin the process of explaining how things got to that point in the first place. How odd it feels, though, for the initial flashback scene to show Patty Hewes making an appearance on “Live with Regis and Kelly.” Not that we haven’t gotten the impression that Patty’s a major public figure in the world of law, but it feels rather jarring to see her in the comparatively day-glo lights of the “Live” stage. Still, you can also imagine it setting Patty up for a big fall when she waves Ellen onto the stage and declares to the studio audience and the millions of viewers watching at home that she’d be lost without her.

But will Patty fall this season? Well, if she doesn’t, it certainly won’t be for lack of Ellen trying to make it happen. “You just want to arrest Patti Hughes,” she says to her two FBI contacts. “I want to destroy her.”

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Ten comments about the 2008 Emmy Awards

1. Call him a dick for saying it, but Jeremy Piven’s dismissal of the opening of this year’s ceremony during his acceptance speech was right on the money. After that brief montage of stars quoting classic TV catchphrases, Oprah killed the show stone dead with her opening remarks, and the never-ending sequence by the reality-show hosts was downright painful. It was the worst beginning to an Emmy broadcast that I can remember.

2. I liked “Recount” as much as the next guy, but Tom Hooper was robbed. He totally deserved to win the award for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Dramatic Special for his work on “John Adams.” That said, Jay Roach defused my anger somewhat when he thanked “my rock ‘n’ roll sweetheart, Susanna Hoffs,” in his acceptance speech.

3. Don Rickles can be funnier with one motion of his eyebrow than Kathy Griffin is likely to be in her entire career…and, indeed, he proved this tonight.

4. Bryan Cranston, God love him, only won his Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series because of the split-vote phenomenon.

5. I’m not saying Josh Groban’s TV-themes medley was great, but hearing him screech Cartman’s lines in the “South Park” theme was worth the price of admission.

6. Ricky Gervais’s bit where he demanded that Steve Carrel return his Emmy was brilliant…but with that said, I went to see “Get Smart” at the local discount theater this weekend instead of paying full price to see “Ghost Town.” I’m just saying.

7. As happy as I was to see “Mad Men” win Outstanding Drama Series, I think I was just as psyched that “Damages” got the love it did in the acting categories. I might’ve picked Ted Danson to win over Zeljko Ivanek, I admit, but I’m sure as hell not complaining. Season 2 of that series can’t get here soon enough.

8. It was totally an industry joke, but when Tom Hanks thanked Chris Albrecht during his acceptance speech for “John Adams,” then cupped his ear to see if anyone would applaud, I laughed out loud.

9. Although way too much was made of the whole Outstanding Reality-Show Host award (and giving the Outstanding Reality-Show Competition award to “The Amazing Race” for the sixth consecutive year was abso-fricking-lutely ridiculous), Jimmy Kimmel’s waiting until after the commercial break to announce the winner was truly inspired.

10. Tommy Smothers is my hero.

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