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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

Nobody picked Jon Hamm on this ’90s dating show

- April 4th, 2014

Despite his luscious Zack Morris-style  locks, Jon Hamm was rejected for the douche-bro competition on the ’90s game show The Big Date.

The video, unearthed by Lighthearted Entertainment, shows the Mad Men star promising to deliver “fabulous food, fabulous conversation” topped off with ” a fabulous foot massage.” It sounds pretty effing fabulous to me.

But, alas, the contestant misses out on her chance to spend “an evening of total fabulosity” with the future Don Draper and instead chooses the stuntman who vows  to “treat her like a lady” (barf) and  show her his “flexibility” (barf barf).

Better than the Sugar Ray-looking dude whose date plans include a trip to Vegas followed by a series of extreme sports, I guess.

h/t Huffington Post

Lizzie Borden Took an Ax to Childrens Hospital in the Klondike? TV must-sees for the week of Jan. 19

- January 18th, 2014

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Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Jan. 19

1 The Following
Second-season debut: The story picks up a year later. Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) has tried to get on with his life. But he becomes obsessed with the notion that Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) is still alive.
When: Sunday on Fox, CTV

2 Klondike
Debut: Big-buzz mini-series about the 1897 gold rush airs three nights in a row. Stars Richard Madden, who is best known as Robb Stark on Game of Thrones. Um, guess he had some time on his hands.
When: Monday on Discovery

3 MasterChef Canada
Debut: A Canadian version of the international series that gives home chefs a chance to be tasty. The judges are Michael Bonacini, Alvin Leung and Claudio Aprile. Please make your own poutine jokes.
When: Monday on CTV

4 Rake
Debut: Greg Kinnear stars as Keegan Deane, a charming, optimistic and brilliant criminal defence attorney. The thing is, he rarely applies any of that trademark brilliance to his own stormy personal life.
When: Thursday on Fox, Global

5 Sleepy Hollow
Two-hour, first-season finale: Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and Lt. Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) uncover a secret in George Washington’s Bible. Wow, talk about sentences I never thought I’d type.
When: Monday on Fox, Global

6 Childrens Hospital
Fifth-season Canadian debut: I always have loved this hilarious series from Rob Corddry that spoofs the medical-drama genre. Guest-stars in the first episode of the new season include Mad Men’s Jon Hamm.
When: Wednesday on Much

7 NHL Revealed: A Season Like No Other
Debut: Of particular interest heading into the Sochi Olympics, as well as more NHL event-style games, this series follows two dozen top players in that “behind the scenes” style that’s all the rage.
When: Thursday on CBC

8 Looking
Debut: Jonathan Groff, Frankie J. Alvarez and Murray Bartlett star as a trio of San Francisco friends, exploring the varied personal and professional options available to a new generation of gay men.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

9 Brave New Girls
Debut: Reality series follows the glamourous life of transgender model Jenna Talackova, who became famous when she took on Donald Trump for the right to compete in the Miss Universe pageant.
When: Sunday on E!

10 Lizzie Borden Took an Ax
Debut: Christina Ricci plays the title character, who was charged with the gory murder of her father and stepmother in 1892. Her headline-grabbing trial made Lizzie the O.J. Simpson or Amanda Knox of her day.
When: Saturday on Lifetime

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

 

JFK was no Don Draper, and now Killing Kennedy’s Rob Lowe knows why

- July 26th, 2013

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Rob Lowe always wondered why John F. Kennedy never looked as spiffy as Mad Men’s Don Draper in terms of attire.

After all, even though one is real and one is fictional, JFK and Don Draper both were ladies’ men in the 1960s.

“I never understood why (JFK) didn’t have a more happening, Don Draper-type thing going on,” said Lowe, who is playing JFK in the upcoming made-for-TV movie Killing Kennedy. It will air this November on the National Geographic Channel, both in Canada and the U.S.

“(JFK’s) little kerchief, whatever the heck it is, pocket square, was always barely sticking out and sometimes smashed,” Lowe continued. “Like, ‘Dude, you are the president. Have somebody make you look tight.’ ”

Well, in researching the role and watching countless hours of JFK footage, Lowe found out some things.

“(JFK) used reading glasses always, but he was rarely, if ever, photographed (with them), because he thought it made him look old,” Lowe said at the Television Critics Association tour. “And he kept his reading glasses in his pocket.

“He had a nervous tic that he would take the glasses out, play with them, pull them out, play with them, and (when he put them back) it jammed the pocket square down into his pocket. That’s why you always see pictures of Kennedy with that little tiny (pocket square), because he’s got reading glasses in there.

“I mean, obviously we could go on and on, but I learned a ton, and I thought I knew a ton coming into it.”

Based on a best-selling book by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, Killing Kennedy chronicles the buildup to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, allegedly by Lee Harvey Oswald if you aren’t a conspiracy theorist, in November 1963 – 50 years to the month that Killing Kennedy will air. Besides Lowe in the title role, Killing Kennedy also stars Ginnifer Goodwin as Jacqueline Kennedy, Will Rothhaar as Lee Harvey Oswald and Michelle Trachtenberg as Marina Oswald.

So does Lowe think Oswald acted alone?

“I’ve been following the Kennedy assassination since I was in the first or second grade and read every conspiracy-theory book known to man,” Lowe said. “I actually started off as a guy who thought there’s no way a guy could do it, and I’ve come around to thinking that they got it right, that Oswald did act alone. That’s my personal belief.

“We all like to believe that there’s some big uber thing out there. Like, even on 9/11, you would have thought, ‘We can get those planes down in two seconds.’ Meanwhile, nobody knew what was going on, the president was flying around the country. You would have thought we’d have things in place for this.

“It’s always way simpler than we think, and I think it scares us to think that things can be that simple and huge, horrible things can happen by the act of one person. We like to think there’s a safety net. Most times there isn’t. And that’s, in the end, why I come back to thinking it was the act of a mad man.”

A mad man? Or Mad Men?

People will continue to have their own thoughts on who killed John F. Kennedy. But at least Rob Lowe definitely solved the case of the scrunchy pocket square.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

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

- July 17th, 2013

Patrick J

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