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Mad Men and Orphan Black’s clones visit Fargo; must-sees for the week of April 13

- April 11th, 2014

Jon Hamm as Don Draper

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of April 13

1 Orphan Black
Season-two debut: Clone-based series sees Tatiana Maslany returning in her signature role as Sarah. And Rachel. And Cosima. And Alison. And on and on and on. I hope Maslany is getting paid accordingly.
When: Saturday on Space

2 Fargo
Debut: This is not a direct remake of the Academy Award-winning movie, but rather a new story, “inspired by” the original. Billy Bob Thornton stars as Lorne Malvo, a dangerous drifter with a cruel sense of humour.
When: Tuesday on FX Canada and FXX Canada

3 Mad Men
Seventh-season debut: This technically is the final “season” for this acclaimed series, but it’s airing over two years, just like Breaking Bad. Last we saw Don Draper (Jon Hamm, pictured above), he was out of a job. Poor ugly schmuck.
When: Sunday on AMC

4 MTV Movie Awards
Live: Conan O’Brien hosts yet another annual hardware handout. So does this officially bring an end to “awards season?” Regardless, scheduled presenters include Kate Upton and Mila Kunis, so count me in.
When: Sunday on MTV

5 Vegas Rat Rods
Debut: No, this isn’t about an infestation of rats in Sin City and the questionable methods used to control them. Rather, it focuses on a company called Welder Up, which specializes in crazy vehicles known as “rat rods.”
When: Thursday on Discovery

6 When Calls the Heart
Canadian debut: Family drama based on a book series by Janette Oke, this stars Erin Krakow as Elizabeth Thatcher, a 19th-century, high-society teacher suddenly living in a coal town. Also with Lori Loughlin.
When: Wednesday on Super Channel

7 Mom
First-season finale: Christy (Anna Faris) and Bonnie (Allison Janney) try to help an emotional Violet (Sadie Calvano) through labour. This series has been renewed, so time to buy some cutesy baby clothes.
When: Monday on CBS, City

8 Unusually Thicke
Debut with back-to-back episodes: This is a reality show with Alan Thicke, his young wife Tanya, and his three sons, including pop star Robin Thicke. I’ll bet Robin gets into more mischief than Kirk Cameron on Growing Pains.
When: Wednesday on Slice

9 Californication
Debut of seventh and final season: As usual, Hank (David Duchovny) is desperate to reunite with his eternal love Karen (Natascha McElhone), while Charlie (Evan Handler) is overcome by performance anxiety.
When: Sunday on The Movie Network, Monday on Movie Central

10 Nurse Jackie
Sixth-season debut: Jackie (Edie Falco) is “using” again. And lo and behold, she is getting her drugs at the gym. You know, this show seemed a lot more daring and shocking before Rob Ford dulled our senses.
When: Sunday on The Movie Network, Monday on Movie Central

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Honesty may be the best policy, but what would that mean to Suits in season three?

- July 17th, 2013

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Early in the new season of Suits, a suggestion is made that would solve everything.

If you’ve ever seen the show, you know that Mike, played by Patrick J. Adams (pictured above left), is a fraud. A smart fraud, yes. A good-intentioned fraud, sure. But still a fraud.

So Mike’s wannabe girlfriend and law-firm colleague Rachel, played by Meghan Markle (pictured above right), gives him some straight-forward advice:

Quit,” Rachel says bluntly. “Go in tomorrow and just quit.”

Easy, huh?

Of course, if that occurred, the whole setup of Suits – which returns for its third season, Wednesday, July 17 on Bravo – would fall to pieces.

But the Rachel character does hit upon something that has gnawed at me as a viewer since the beginning of Suits, which originates on the USA Network. Mike can’t possibly believe this can go on forever, can he? That he never is going to be found out?

Would it not be fairly intolerable living with such a big secret? Looking over your shoulder every day at work? And now that Rachel knows, isn’t she always going to be just one burst of anger away from exposing him?

Turns out Mike does not take Rachel’s suggestion lightly. At one point in the first episode of the new season, he has a letter of resignation typed up and ready to go. But as always in Suits, there are complications.

Mike was hired at the law firm by brilliant lawyer Harvey Specter, played by Gabriel Macht, because Mike is equally brilliant, although not quite as cut-throat. The secret Mike and Harvey share is that Mike actually has no qualifications for the job. He never graduated from Harvard, as he claims.

Harvey naturally figures that if nothing else, Mike’s loyalty should be assured. But at the end of season two, circumstances at the firm – which has been forced into a merger with a British company that now controls 51% – pulled them apart.

Mike got blackmailed and felt he had no choice but to do what he did. But Harvey feels betrayed.

So as season three begins, not only are Mike and Harvey at odds, but Harvey is trapped at this reconfigured, Brit-controlled firm that he doesn’t necessarily want to be part of, with a non-compete clause in his contract stopping him from simply bolting.

Mike, meanwhile, is desperate to regain Harvey’s trust. Is there a common enemy that could reunite them?

Some observers have referred to Suits as Mad Men in modern times. There is validity to the comparison – the ad firm in Mad Men was forced to deal with a “British invasion,” too – although the tones of the two shows aren’t the same.

Yet the main characters in both series are living with lies. Mad Men‘s Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm, isn’t who he says he is. In Suits, Mike Ross isn’t faking his identity, but he is faking his resume.

Rachel is right. Mike could just quit. But maybe that sneaky Rachel just wants more screen time for herself.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Mad Men season-six publicity pics released; Who’s in and who’s out?

- January 23rd, 2013

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AMC has announced that the sixth season of Mad Men will debut April 7.

Along with that news, the network has released four publicity pictures. It’s always fun to peruse such things, to see if you can deduce anything about the coming season. Who’s included? Who isn’t?

So here are the pics, one above and three below. Try not to be too distracted  by Pete Campbell‘s sideburns.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

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Mad Men’s Megan: Spoiled brat!

- June 11th, 2012

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Mad Men is the kind of show that usually requires deep analysis, but please allow us to be shallow as we make this observation:

Megan Draper – what a spoiled little brat!

(Spoiler alert – up-to-date plot points are discussed in the ensuing sentences.)

Mad Men wrapped up its fifth season Sunday night on AMC, and Megan – played by Canadian actress Jessica Pare – was not at her best, maturity-wise.

Remember back when we first met Megan last season? Even into the early parts of this just-completed season, despite her youth, Megan often was the calming voice of reason for her older husband Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm.

But consider what Megan did in the season-five finale.

Her acting career was tanking. An acting friend of hers asked Megan if she could influence Don to get her an audition for a commercial. But Megan didn’t ask Don on her friend’s behalf, Megan took that information and asked Don for herself. Then when Don correctly said that he didn’t think it was appropriate, Megan went into a major pout, lashing out at both Don and her mom, played by Julia Ormond.

In fact, Ormond’s Marie Calvet – who still seems as if she’s from France, not Quebec – had a couple of the best moments in the finale, first of all calling Megan an “ungrateful little bitch,” then commiserating with an agitated Don by saying, “I know it’s hard to watch, but this is what happens when you have the artistic temperament, but you are not an artist.”

So what happens in the end? Don caves, and the little princess gets exactly what she wants!

Hopefully Megan is seen as a representation of 1960s youth, and not Quebec youth in general. Then again, if Don and Megan ever had a daughter, and that daughter had a daughter, do you think Don and Megan’s grandkid currently would be on the streets with the students in Montreal, protesting against university tuition hikes that she surely could afford to pay?

Wow, how the heck did I work my way to that?

Back to the simple point: Grow up, Megan Draper. As her mom Marie observed, “Not every little girl gets to do what they want. The world cannot support that many ballerinas.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv