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Ken Burns' Prohibition drinks it all in

It's harder and harder to believe that this era ever happened. Oh wait, we live in times when the Kardashians are all TV stars and Jersey Shore remains a runaway hit for MTV. OK, it's perfectly plausible that the U.S. once had a nearly 14-year ban on alcohol consumption. And Ken Burns has the pictures to prove it in his latest great documentary film, Prohibition. Our review is here.
Ed Bark

Dexter back on attack

Television's acquired taste serial killer -- but only of bad guys -- returns for Season 6 Sunday night, this time with an overriding religious motif. Our review of Showtime's Dexter is here.

Plus, the latest D-FW Nielsen ratings are glad tidings for both The X Factor and Revenge.
Ed Bark

Showtime's Homeland stakes claim as fall's best new drama series

It's been very much a so-so fall for new TV dramas. But that's because their purveyors are the traditional broadcast networks. Now come Showtime's Homeland, easily the best of show and virtually guaranteed to be an Emmy contender the next time around. Our review is here.
Ed Bark

Cuban onboard with Rentrak

Rentrak's ongoing effort to dethrone Nielsen Media Research as the longtime measurer of TV ratings has both an ally and a significant investor in Dallas Mavericks/HDNet owner Mark Cuban. Which gives D-FW's only Rentrak subscriber to date, WFAA8, a bit of the old happy pants. The story is on our Dallas-Fort Worth TV page.
Ed Bark

Fox's New Girl still the network's brightest new light


Occasionally happy together: Gillian Jacobs and Paul Rust of Love. Netflix photo

Premiering: All 10 Season One episodes begin streaming Friday, Feb. 19th on Netflix
Starring: Gillian Jacobs, Paul Rust, Claudia O’Doherty, Briga Heelan, Brett Gelman, David King, Dave Allen, Steve Bannos, Chris Witaske, Chantal Claret, Iris Apatow, Tracie Thoms, Jordan Rock
Produced by: Judd Apatow, Paul Rust, Lesley Arfin, Brent Forrester, Dean Holland

@unclebarkycom on Twitter
It’s been standard TV sitcom procedure for the loud, plus-sized guy -- OK, the blustering fatso -- to get the slimmer, pretty girl.

Jackie Gleason (The Honeymooners), Jim Belushi (According to Jim), Kevin James (The King of Queens) and Mark Addy (Still Standing) have been among the numerous beneficiaries.

Netflix’s Love, which begins streaming Season One’s 10 episodes on Friday, Feb. 19th, deals from the same playbook but sharply alters the male physicality. This time it’s a thin, plain-faced, bespectacled, soft-spoken nebbish with the full name of Gus Cruikshank (Paul Rust) who eventually becomes alluring to a messed-up beauty named Mickey (Gillian Jacobs from Community).

Their rather desperate lives and disparate dynamics, with a strong supporting cast in tow, make Love a consistently involving crash course. Netflix thinks so, too. It’s already ordered a Season Two of co-creator Judd Apatow’s (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up) first fully hands-on TV series since 2001’s Undeclared. His principal creative partner is Rust, whose witty, but wan 31-year-old Gus is dumped in Episode 1 by a girlfriend who just can’t take his supposedly “fake” niceness anymore.

Mickey has the opposite problem. An addict on several levels, she invariably ends up severing relationships by spewing venom. The extended first episode works hard at being off-putting with its fusillade of f-bombs and other unsavory moments. And while Mickey fires away, Gus screws up a gift, three-way bedroom scene that frankly strained credulity anyway. By the end of the opener, however, Gus and Mickey are chance-meeting at a convenience store. His act of benign kindness puts Love in motion as a study of two opposites who attract, repel and bring out the best/worst in each other.

“So in a year you’ll be as old as Jesus when he died,” Gus tells Mickey upon learning she’s 32. Woody Allen will be envious when he hears that line.

Gus otherwise is a tutor on the set of the cheesy supernatural TV series Witchita. His main pupil is 12-year-old Aria (Apatow’s daughter, Iris Apatow), who has him wrapped around her oft-petulant little finger. Mickey is a program manager at a satellite radio station, where she must endure taskmaster host Dr. Greg (Brett Gelman) and his phony Heart Work call-in show.

A major third wheel of Love is the chipper Australian Bertie (Claudia O’Doherty), who moves in with Mickey and her cat, Grandpa. Initially written as wide-eyed and naive, Bertie becomes something considerably more than that. Also written somewhat inconsistently is a knockout Witchita actress named Heidi (Briga Heelan). Her growing relationship with Gus seems to be grounded in genuine gratitude for his tip on how not to get written out of Witchita. But Love is too obvious in this respect -- and then too abruptly cynical down the stretch.

There are many little pleasures, though. Gus, an aspiring scriptwriter, has a group of friends who occasionally get together to improvise closing credit theme songs for movies that didn’t have them, including The Perfect Storm and Carlito’s Way. These particular scenes are a lot of fun, as is an Episode 4 segment in which Gus makes a winning impression despite himself by leading an impromptu party band in an exuberant cover of “Jet.”

Love for the most part loses it in Episode 6, though. The needless, real-life Andy Dick plays himself as a -- what else -- over-indulger in everything. Mickey is along for the ride on an impromptu binge that seems to go on interminably and for the most part, inconsequentially. But Episode 7 then fully recovers with Mickey’s and Gus’s excursion to L.A.’s The Magic Castle, of which he’s a devoted member.

The set of Witchita is pretty much a Hollywood cesspool epitomized by the show’s coldly efficient executive producer, Susan Cheryl (a very effective Tracie Thoms). But one saving grace is a true-blue craft services guy named Kevin (Chris Rock’s younger brother, Jordan Rock). “Nothing dries up a vagina more than a paragraph, man,” Kevin says in instructing Gus on the art of texting seductively. In his own way, he’s speaking from the heart.

Rust and Jacobs are the drive shafts, though, keeping Love on all fours with characterizations that likely will keep most viewers invested. Netflix made all 10 Season One episodes available for review, with the majority of them extending past the 30-minute mark. But I got sucked in, watched them all, and didn’t feel suckered in the end. Wherever Mickey and Gus are going seems worth the extended trip. Love is a many-spindled thing. But its smooth/sharp edges keep it in a groove.


Email comments or questions to: unclebarky@verizon.net

From Two and a Half Men to How to be a Gentleman

The address is CBS for odd couple comedies. Our review of How to Be a Gentleman is right here.
Ed Bark

Long Rooney era ending on 60 Minutes

Ninety-two-year-old Andy Rooney, a commentator on 60 Minutes since 1978, will make his last regular appearance on the program this Sunday. Details of the CBS announcement are on our Network News & Reviews page.
Ed Bark

Suburgatory commutes to ABC's Wednesday night comedy lineup

Jeremy Sisto plays a put-upon dad in the new Suburgatory. It's on a night when ABC already has kindred pops on Modern Family and The Middle. Our review is here.
Ed Bark

Cowboys again rock ratings while Terra Nova stands fairly firma

Yet another down to the wire Cowboys game --this one a win -- crushed everything in its path Monday night. The two-hour premiere of Fox's cost-a-plenty Terra Nova drew a small fraction of the Cowboys crowd, but fared fairly well against the competition from ABC, CBS and NBC.
Get all the details in our five-day catchup on the Dallas-Fort Worth TV page.
Ed Bark

D-FW news notes: WFAA8's Chris Flanagan hitting the road while TXA21's "First in Prime" newscast will soon be a goner

Chris Flanagan will be taking his talents to Cleveland after an abbreviated run at WFAA8. And TXA21's recently downsized "First In Prime" newscast is going to disappear all together. Get the details on our Dallas-Fort Worth TV page.
Ed Bark

The late Jerry Haynes leaves a happy trail as Dallas' foremost kiddies' pal, Mr. Peppermint

The closing hour of the Cowboys' final pre-season game, against Minnesota, went head-to-head Thursday night against Barack Obama's acceptance speech, also originating from a football stadium.

It wasn't much of a contest, of course. From 9 to 10 p.m., Dallas-Minnesota drew 280,094 D-FW homes on TXA21. In that same hour, ABC, CBS and NBC drew a combined audience of 263,045 homes for Obama's biggest political address.

Overall, the three-hour Cowboys game averaged an identical 280,094 homes, bludgeoning NBC's early-starting telecast of a Jaguars-Redskins yawner (53,583 homes). Meanwhile, here's our breakdown of the 9 to 10 p.m. audiences for Obama's speech on a mix of seven broadcast and cable networks:

ABC and NBC -- 94,988 homes each
CNN -- 82,810 homes
CBS -- 73,068 homes
FNC -- 68,197 homes
PBS -- 60,890 homes
MSNBC -- 48,712 homes

In the local news derby, the 10 p.m. competition was slightly delayed by network overruns. WFAA8 won handily in both total homes and with 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming.

NBC5 and Fox4 tied in total homes at 6 a.m., with the Peacock prevailing in the 25-to-54 demo.

WFAA8 swept the 6 p.m. competition and also won in total homes at 5 p.m. Fox4 took the gold at 5 p.m. among 25-to-54-year-olds.

Hart of Dixie gives CW a decent drawling board

Television's portrayals of the Deep South have not been known as towering intellectual exercises. The CW's new Hart of Dixie, set in Alabama, is down-home without unduly deep-frying its denizens. Our review is here.
Ed Bark

Terra Nova gives Fox a new/old world and a big price tag

The most expensive, ambitious series of the new season, Terra Nova, premieres Monday night on Fox. Our review is here.
Ed Bark

Fly them to the moon, because ABC's Pan Am needs something to keep it airborne

Set in 1963, ABC's Pan Am looks good for starters. But compelling storylines look as though they're going to be much harder to come by. Our review is here.
Ed Bark

That's the spirit: CBS hopes to finally launch a successful contemporary medical drama by adding an otherworldly touch

CBS hasn't had a successful medical drama since Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Now the crime-infested network is trying again with A Gifted Man. Its gimmick? A ghost. Because that has worked on CBS in very recent years. Our review is here.
Ed Bark

X Factor no blockbuster but still draws a pretty good crowd

Wednesday's opening night returns in D-FW for Fox's mega-promoted X Factor were only fair to middling, particularly for its second hour. See how it did -- and how other new and returning series fared -- in the latest "ratings snapshot."
Ed Bark

WFAA8 anchor-reporter Debbie Denmon files discrimination suit against the station -- and not on the usual grounds

Contending that her weight is being held against her by station management, WFAA8 anchor-reporter Debbie Denmon has filed a discrimination suit against the Dallas-based station. As expected, no one is talking. But we've pieced together some of the particulars. The story is on the Dallas-Fort Worth TV page.
Ed Bark

Angels wing it anew on ABC

Yet another version of Charlie's Angels is probably not what the world needs now -- let alone the continental U.S. But here it comes -- and our review is here.
Ed Bark

NBC's Prime Suspect manages to stand on its own

A new American TV version of Prime Suspect might seem like a capital crime to some. But it's all in the execution. Our review is here.
Ed Bark

CBS' Person of Interest preserves an endangered species -- the two-fisted man of action

Women are the drive shafts in this fall's crop of new broadcast network dramas. And most of the prominent comedies, too. That's fine. It's probably about time. But CBS still has a place for a hard-charging action male in Person of Interest, which premieres Thursday. Our review is here.
Ed Bark

New season, Night 2, is big boost for Fox's new New Girl

D-FW viewers instantly took to Fox's New Girl Tuesday night. It had an appreciably bigger overall audience than its Glee lead-in and also prospered with advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds. CBS' double dose of NCIS and its spin-off also did quite well, leaving ABC's Dancing with the Stars in wobbly shape. Get the details on our Dallas-Fort Worth TV page.
Ed Bark

NBC's new Whitney is a comedy with a nice bite

No. 4 NBC badly needs something to work this fall -- besides Sunday Night Football. And whatever its ratings, it at least has a winning new comedy in Whitney. Our review is here.
Ed Bark

Daybreak's Ron Corning gets a showcase spot -- and paints a picture, too

Dallas-based WFAA8's early morning Daybreak program still runs third on most days. But the ABC affiliate keeps trying to sell its team -- and teammates. And now, for the first time, full attention is paid to co-anchor Ron Corning. See it here, and get our comments, too.
Ed Bark

ABC's new fall line begins with Revenge

Madeleine Stowe makes for a pretty delish villainess in ABC's latest woman-powered serial drama. Otherwise, I dunno. Our closer look at Revenge is on the Network News & Reviews page.
Ed Bark

Gargantuan re-launch for Two and a Half Men

CBS couldn't have scripted this any better -- the ratings at least. The network's Charlie Sheen-less Two and a Half Men was a colossus Monday night in the D-FW Nielsen ratings while the premiere of NBC's The Playboy Club ended up a bust so to speak. Get all the details on the Dallas-Fort Worth TV page.
Ed Bark

Charlie Sheen fit for a Dustbuster in Two and a Half Men kiss-off

Two and a Half Men rid itself of Charlie Sheen in no uncertain terms Monday night. Our review is here.
Ed Bark

Memory serves in new CBS' crime drama Unforgettable

CBS doesn't go in for capes or physical super powers in its "procedural" crime series. Still, ya gotta have a gimmick these days. Our review of Unforgettable is right here.
Ed Bark

Fox hawks gawky in appealing new comedy New Girl

Zooey Deschanel, kid sis of Bones star Emily Deschanel, is still looking for a post-Almost Famous breakout hit. Maybe she has it in Fox's New Girl, but one never really knows. Our review is here.

Plus, the weekend D-FW Nielsen ratings "snapshot" has all the details on how the Cowboys game did, and whether the subsequent Emmy Awards on Fox were able to withstand NBC's Sunday Night Football.
Ed Bark

Friday Night Lights finally gets some Emmy love on a night when free TV scores big against cable

Sunday night's 63rd annual Primetime Emmy Awards put the made-in-Austin Friday Night Lights onstage for the first and last time while also providing a big booster shot to over-the-air broadcast TV. Cable won its share of Emmys, too. But very much unlike last year, it wasn't the lion's share. Get our complete report and review right here.
Ed Bark

Emmy awards nearing, and here are my picks

Sunday night brings the 63rd annual Primetime Emmy Awards, which of course will be trounced by Sunday Night Football. But I've gone ahead and tacked down some picks anyway, which you can slice 'n' dice on the Network News & Reviews page.
Ed Bark

Growing, growing gone: D-FW takes a body blow in latest Nielsen estimates after years of steady growth

D-FW television stations always could count on a little ratings inflation whenever Nielsen Media Research's yearly data was revised. That happens in September. And this time around, the nation's fifth largest TV market is showing across-the-board decreases, save for one lone demographic group that neither advertisers or TV bean-counters really care about at all. Get our detailed report on the Dallas-Fort Worth TV page, where Thursday's ratings "snapshot" also is available.
Ed Bark

Bunny ha ha: NBC's The Playboy Club sells pulchritude as "empowerment"

One of the showier new series for this fall, NBC's The Playboy Club, premieres Monday. Set in the early 1960s, it mixes gangland retribution with all those bosomed bunny buddies. Our review is here.
Ed Bark

Unclebarky.com hits milestone birthday, pats self on head, gets back to work

Launched on Sept. 17, 2006, unclebarky.com turns five Saturday on the eve of the Emmys and just two days before the official start of the 2011-'12 TV season.

So it's another busy time, but I just want to thank readers for their continued patronage and support. You're the reason this site is still in reasonable working order.

Thanks again, and we'll try to keep going for at least another few years as D-FW's only fully independent chronicler of both local and national TV.
Ed Bark

Talky waitresses on the menu in CBS' ribald 2 Broke Girls

A few new network series have gotten head starts this week. But the 2011-12 fall season officially begins on Monday. And the first show in view will be CBS' 2 Broke Girls. Our review is here.

Plus, Wednesday's D-FW Nielsen ratings show how three freshman series and a pair of "reality competition" finales fared in these parts. And on my home away from home, locatetv.com, there's a look at whether Eddie Murphy might matter as the latest Oscar host.
Ed Bark

The CW now has witches, too, in The Secret Circle

The network of Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries and those scary creatures on America's Next Top Model adds witches to its otherworldly mix in The Secret Circle. It's from producer Kevin Williamson, who really doesn't know any better at this point. Our review is here.

Plus, Tuesday's D-FW Nielsen ratings are a downer for Ringer, the new Sarah Michelle Gellar series.
Ed Bark

Free Agents gives NBC a grownup comedy built around adult neuroses

Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn make a winning duo in NBC's new Free Agents. It even compares favorably with the same-named British original, which BBC America will make available to U.S. audiences early next month. We compare and contrast on the Network News & Reviews page.
Ed Bark

Mmm mmm good/bad: The CW's H8R may be fall TV's guiltiest pleasure

It's all mostly contrived and not really believable for more than a second or two. Still, The CW's new H8R (short for "Hater") puts celebs and their detractors together in a way that's indescribably delicious -- as junk food, of course. Bonus: the first two celebs on the receiving end include Dallas' own "fame whore," who proves it anew. Our review is here.
Ed Bark

Monday Night Football doubleheader rules D-FW ratings; Krystle Gutierrez still with Fox4 news -- 4 now

ESPN's opening Monday Night Football doubleheader kicked all competition to the curb in the D-FW Nielsen ratings. Get the numbers here.

Plus, Krystle Gutierrez remains a contributor on Fox4's No. 1-rated Good Day. But she's no longer under contract and could leave the Dallas-based station any day now. Details are on our Dallas-Fort Worth TV page.
Ed Bark

The Peacock hatches a baby in new Up All Night

NBC and kids -- let alone newborn babes -- have very seldom mixed in prime-time sitcoms since The Cosby Show's glory seasons. That makes the new Up All Night an extreme rarity, even if a workplace also is heavily involved. Our review is here.
Ed Bark

First new series of the season offers double shot of Gellar in CW's Ringer

Sarah Michelle Gellar, who came to international fame as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, plays two hands in her prime-time series return. The CW's Ringer finds her as a recovering addict and former stripper with a twisted twin sister. See double on our Network News & Reviews page.
Ed Bark

Arrgh!!! Cowboys blow another Sunday Night Football opener while NBC sets another ratings record

The Dallas Cowboys cratered down the stretch against the Jets, but at least beat last season's ratings for their giveaway loss to Washington on NBC's Sunday Night Football. Our ratings breakdowns are on the Dallas-Fort Worth TV page.
Ed Bark

Starz network' original Spartacus dies of cancer; Emmys warm up with "creative arts" trophies

Andy Whitfield, who played the title role in the Starz network's Spartacus: Blood and Sand, has died of cancer at age 39. Also, the Emmy Awards' annual "creative arts" prelude to the Sept. 18th main event has some notable on-camera winners amid all the behind-the-scenes stuff. Details are on our TV Bulletin Board page.
Ed Bark

Packers-Saints game outscores Obama job speech in D-FW (and probably most other places, too)

All four of the major broadcast networks carried President Obama's early evening jobs speech Thursday. Only NBC had the Packers-Saints NFL Kickoff game. It doesn't take an unemployed rocket scientist to deduce who won. All the particulars are on our Dallas-Fort Worth TV page.
Ed Bark

And in the end . . . The Love We Make is an optimum way to remember Sept. 11

The Paul McCartney-led Concert for New York City is brilliantly seen from behind-the-scenes in The Love We Make, premiering Sept. 10th on Showtime. Our review is here.
Ed Bark

A ratings first for MSNBC -- at least in D-FW

Has this ever happened before? Not in these parts. At least not that I can ever recall. MSNBC's two-hour Republican debate Wednesday night, featuring the debut of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, won its time slot in competition with both broadcast and cable alternatives. Get the details on our latest D-FW ratings "snapshot."
Ed Bark

Perry puts giddyup in Republican debate, but may have bucked himself

Texas Gov. Rick Perry strode into his first nationally televised presidential candidate debate Wednesday night. He emerged with a Social Security "Ponzi scheme" target affixed to his back while former frontrunner Mitt Romney may have suddenly rebounded back to life. Get our blow-by-blow account on the Network News & Reviews page.
Ed Bark

Brightest colors of new fall season again elude washed-out broadcast nets

Television's latest big outpouring of new product is coming soon, with the broadcast networks again struggling to stand out while cable excels with both new and returning dramas. See what we mean right here.

Plus, a new TV Bulletin Board is stocked with more snacks. And D-FW had a surprise ratings champ Tuesday night in the key 18-to-49 viewer demographic.
Ed Bark

Ashes to "Ashes:" FX's Rescue Me puts out its last fire

The final episode of FX's Rescue Me is on Wednesday night, just four days before the 10th anniversary of 9/11. We take a closer look here without giving away too much.

Plus, Eddie Murphy gets the Oscar host gig, and Regis Philbin announces his goodbye date. Details are on the TV Bulletin Board page.
Ed Bark

Things that go clunk in the night -- among them Syfy's Paranormal Witness

Syfy's Wednesday night "paranormal block" now includes the new Paranormal Witness. The first episode made me shake -- with laughter. But perhaps you'll be terrified as intended. Our review is right here in plain sight.
Ed Bark

College football dominates, MDA telethon barely seen

The holiday weekend's D-FW Nielsen ratings had some surprises -- such as Baylor-TCU not being the most-watched college football game. Also, the debut of the Jerry Lewis-less MDA telethon Sunday night on TXA21 went virtually unwatched. Details are on our Dallas-Fort Worth TV page.
Ed Bark

TXA21 cuts its prime-time news in half as part of fall revamp; Sons of Anarchy returns with a vengeance

Low and continued stagnant ratings have prompted the halving of TXA21's First in Prime local newscast, which soon will air only from 7 to 8 p.m. Get the details and news of other notable TXA21 fall lineup adjustments on our Dallas-Fort Worth TV page.

Plus, the Dallas Cowboys final pre-season game, a thoroughly dull 17-3 loss, easily beat everything in its path Thursday night. But it also ranked as the least-watched by far of this summer's four pretenders. Both the Wednesday and Thursday D-FW numbers also are on the Dallas-Fort Worth TV page.

And on FX, Sons of Anarchy is revving up its fourth season. Our review is on the Network News & Reviews page.

Meanwhile, it's another new month, with August rolling over into the archives on some of unclebarky.com's pages.

The onset of September also prompts a friendly monthly reminder to first click on an amazon.com ad on any unclebarky.com page before making the purchases you were going to make anyway. That way, your friendly content provider gets a small commission. It all helps as we near our fifth-year anniversary.

Furthermore, you can follow me on twitter, if you'd like, at unclebarkycom. Thanks as always for your support and readership.
Ed Bark