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Pilot Review: Madam Secretary

Tea' Leoni stars as Elizabeth McCord in new Madam Secretary.  Source: Provided
Tea’ Leoni stars as Elizabeth McCord in new Madam Secretary. Source: Provided

I for one, love being able to say the words “starring Tea’ Leoni” when writing a review for a new show.  It’s been far far too long since Leoni last graced our screens, especially with me having recently come off a massive ‘The Naked Truth‘ binge watch last month (Leoni starred in the sitcom The Naked Truth).

That said, Leoni’s return to prime time TV is in a very different project that what some may be used to seeing her star in with Madam Secretary (premiering Thursday Oct 2nd on Channel 10).

Here’s the basic run-down of Madam Secretary… “Madam Secretary follows Elizabeth McCord, a former CIA analyst now working as a history professor who, after the Secretary of Defense’s plane goes down over the Atlantic Ocean, is tasked by the President of the United States to take his place. Two months later, while still trying to learn the job she’s accepted, McCord must deal with an international incident that sees two American teenagers taken into custody by the Syrian government, and are on the verge of possible execution by their captors.”

I’m just going to put it out there…..my experience with political themed shows goes as far as Veep so I entered Madam Secretary with some trepidation of being incredibly bored and unable to really follow what’s going on, but with Madam Secretary, instead of being bombarded with political jargon (it’s in there still), we’re given an insight into the rigors of Elizabeth McCord’s sudden and not-so-tender foray into the choppy waters of of the presidents cabinet.

Between being leashed by the president, dealing with an over eager stylist, remembering the names of all 7 wives of the King of Swaziland and maintaining a normal home and family life, Elizabeth has a lot on her political plate.

Having already mentioned Leoni above, what I can add is that while Madam Secretary is leaps and bounds away from the screwball comedienne we were first introduced to in the late 90’s, Leoni’s perfect comedic timing and natural energy allows her to bring some light to otherwise dull scenes.  Her on-screen husband played by Tim Daly is just as good as Henry McCord.  As a religion and ethics professor, Henry is sort of the show’s moral center and from what I’ve seen, there to fill the gender flip role we’re normally used to see being played by a female actress.  As per the norm with Daly, his on-screen chemistry with his leading ladies is second to none. From Laura Leighton in EYES to Kate Walsh in Private Practice and now Tea’ Leoni in Madam Secretary, Daly offers a flawless love-ability and strong companionship that plays well, especially with Leoni’s Elizabeth McCord.

The rest of the cast is filled with familiar faced actors including Bebe Neuwirth (Frasier) and Zeljko Ivanek (True Blood) who all help move the story along without too much fuss.

The pilot episode of Madam Secretary sets up what looks set to be a rather intriguing season-long arc (I won’t reveal what) with the mystery playing along-side weekly crisis that pop up for McCord to deal with.  If done right and Leoni’s given enough room to do what she does best, Madam Secretary could have the chops to be the next West Wing meets The Good Wife.

Madam Secretary premiere’s Thursday October 2nd, 9pm on Channel 10

7 star

The Blacklist Season 2 Begins on Monday

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The Blacklist returns for season 2 on Monday (Sept 29th) at 8:45pm on channel 7 and things heat up as people from Reds past arrive including the elusive Berlin and Red’s ex-wife and shock horror – Megan Boone looses the awful wig by the end of the episode!  Keep an eye out for guest stars Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds) and Krysten Ritter (Breaking Bad)

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Big Brother Australia Brings Excessive Humiliation to First Evictee

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Housemates Travis and Katie talk it out. Source: Provided

Wasn’t last night’s Big Brother Australia’s eviction of Gemma one of the most awkward and rage ensuring events to be ever be seen on a reality program?  The first housemate eviction for 2014 drew anger from viewers on social media after her ousting with the way it was handled compared to schoolyard bullying as Gemma found herself in a situation that is nothing short of humiliating.

After the announcement of the public vote which saw Jake and Gemma receiving the least amount of votes to stay, we were forced to endure watching the housemates, one by one and face to face, choose between the two, of whom they’d like to stay over the other.  The resulting effort was utterly painful for viewers and more so for Gemma with only Priya opting to stand behind Gemma – for which we can only assume was a strategy play on her behalf.

"The eviction process was horrible.": Gemma Kinghorn is booted out of Big Brother. Photo: Channel Nine
“The eviction process was horrible.”: Gemma Kinghorn is booted out of Big Brother. Photo: Channel Nine

While Gemma was clearly always going to be the first to be ousted (her strategy of trying to be polarizing like last years winner Tim played heavily against her), viewers stood behind the towering redhead with support after the way she was ousted.

What are your thoughts?  Do you agree with the way Gemma was evicted in Tuesday night’s eviction?

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Pilot Review: The Mysteries of Laura

Debra Messing leads the new series The Mysteries of Laura
Debra Messing leads the new series The Mysteries of Laura

1940’s DETECTIVE COMICS OR A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH?

Is it a comedy?  Is it a drama?  Is it a hard-edged police procedural?  These are the questions I found myself asking while watching the new The Mysteries of Laura starring Debra Messing and Josh Lucas.  Mysteries follows Messing as homicide detective Laura Diamond (we’ll get to the name later) who is a woman with a lot on her plate and not enough time to eat it all.

Laura’s juggling a busy work schedule as a detective trying to solve murders with mothering twin boys possibly possessed by an almighty demonic force and a soon-to-be-ex husband (Josh Lucas) who can’t bring himself to sign those darned divorce papers.

The mix of cop show meets family comedy meets personal life drama is an uneasy mix within Mysteries that often feels jarring and forced, not really knowing which direction it really wants to focus on.  One minute Detective Diamond is resolving a hostage situation by shooting off the perps ear the next she’s wiping blood up with a baby wipe and returning a worn bathing suit before arguing with hubby about how he is never around when it comes to her demonic brats who by the way spend time peeing on each other.

If you were to separate the genres smashed into this one show, some of it would work and some wouldn’t.  Frazzled and over worked mum juggling twin brats with a less than involved husband (who also cheated) sounds like a decent drama or even dramedy.  Homicide detective trying to solve murders – it’s been done a million times over so I get why the career was thrown in but as a whole, the murder case Laura and partner Billy (Laz Alonso) are working on and how it’s given to us is quite possibly a story line once featured in an episode of Scooby Doo and by the end, when the killer is revealed, the final result actually feels quite farcical and you’re left wondering why the need for so much focus on the cop aspect of Laura’s life, like are the writers so forced on trying to establish that yes, Laura Diamond, in 2014, is a mother and a woman with a career?

Stepping back, what does work within Mysteries is the chemistry between Messing and Alonso.  The two work great as a team and there is enough spark there to possibly push for a work romance story arc. Watching the two together felt like there could be a Castle meets Bones air about the show but that was destroyed when we were brought back into Laura’s world of cheating husbands and unruly children.

In the end, the problems seeping out of Mysteries is the tone of the show and what it brings to viewers.  Debra Messing…we all love her though is she believable as a hard-nosed homicide detective…I’ll leave that up to you.  The family drama with a side of murder solving and over-the-top hijinks…perhaps if Mysteries was more thrilling in it’s murder cases and less on the family life…or the other way around, there could be something to work with.

By the way, the name – Laura Diamond…pretty sure whomever came up with it was busy reading goofy 1940’s detective comics or there’s a play on the diamond in the rough quote…

Debra Messing is a win though the aimless script is a loss.

Rating score: 6 out of 10

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Premiere Date: Madam Secretary and Scorpion

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The Tea’ Leoni political drama Madam Secretary has been given an October 2nd premiere date on channel 10.  The drama sees Leoni as ex-CIA operative and college professor Elizabeth McCord, unexpectedly thrust into the position of Secretary of State, who must drive international diplomacy and wrangle office politics, all while balancing a complex family life.

Channel 10 are still the only FTA network offering up new programs from the up-coming US fall season premiere with Scorpion and Madam Secretary confirmed along with the new NCIS spin-off: NCIS New Orleans.

 Check out the trailer below:

Scorpion premieres Sunday, Sept 28th at 6:30pm

Madam Secretary premieres Thursday, October 2nd at 9pm

Katherine Hicks

Winners & Losers Mid Season Finale Info

Gabe and Jenny head for hard times
Gabe (Nick Russell) and Jenny (Melissa Berglund) head for hard times.  Source: Provided

Winners & Losers is steamrolling into it’s mid season finale (airing next Tuesday, Sept 23rd) and like usual, the show is goes out with a bang that will leave fans hanging.

Tonight’s episode fast tracks the time line forward one month after Jen’s double mastectomy and reconstruction and there’s tension in the air between her and boyfriend Gabe (Nick Russell) with Jen not wanting to accept that the surgery has changed things in her life. Sam (Katherine Hicks) is struggling living life without Cory (Jacob Holt) who has returned to the care of his mum Hayley (Anna Samson) while Sophie (Mellanie Vajello) decides to make amends with Luke (Nathin Butler) and attempts to rekindle their friendship.

But it’s next week’s finale that brings out all the drama with Frances (Virginia Gay) finally going into labour (hoorah!) that brings some of the funniest moments from the season to date while Doug (Tom Wren) and Carla (Sibylla Budd) come up against some unexpected closed doors while looking into the possibility of adoption leaving Carla’s sister Izzy (Laura Gordon) wanting to make a selfless offer. while Jenny and Gabe and Sophie and Jack find themselves in romantic messes trying to determine what they both want out of their relationships.

This mid-season finale’s biggest ‘OMG!’ moments however revolve around the Sam/Cory/Hayley story-line that has played  out over the first half of this season, finally coming to a very dramatic end that will not only leave you wondering who’s going to survive, but also grabbing the tissues!

Winners & Losers airs tonight, channel 7 at 8:30pm with the mid season finale airing next Tuesday night on 7.

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Cougar Town Final Season Twist: [Spoiler] to Exit Early

Originally posted on TVLine:

Cougar Town is losing one of its longtime residents.

TVLine has learned exclusively that Brian Van Holt — who has played Bobby “Penny Can” Cobb since the show’s launch on ABC in 2009 — will depart at the start of the TBS comedy’s sixth and final season.

RELATED Fall TV Spoiler Spectacular: Exclusive Scoop and Photos on 42 of Your Returning Favorites

According to a C-Town insider, Van Holt — who recently wrapped production on the Syfy limited series Ascension — is leaving early to pursue other opportunities.

The Cul-de-Sac Crew is set to bid farewell to Van Holt’s Bobby in the Season 6 premiere, which is slated to air in early 2015.

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Full Length AHS Freak Show Trailer Revealed

Sarah Paulson as Dot and Bette in a clip from AHS Freakshow
Sarah Paulson as Dot and Bette in a clip from AHS Freakshow

Roll up roll up, get your tickets here!  See the famous bearded lady, the mystical three breasted beauty, the strong man and the two headed woman!  Yes, the American Horror Story: Freak Show official full length trailer is finally here and it’s looking to be like everything we could hope for, for this new series!

Check out the trailer via Vulture.com

AHS Freak Show debut’s October 8 on FX in the US

Freak Show coming soon to Channel 10/Eleven shortly after

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GoT Season 5 Will Not Feature Bran Stark and Hodor

Kristian Nairn as Hodor in Game of Thrones
Kristian Nairn as Hodor in Game of Thrones

In a bit of rather interesting news from the world of Game of Thrones, it seems Bran Stark and loyal follower Hodor will be absent in the upcoming fifth season.

Speaking to Yahoo, Kristian Nairn who plays Hodor revealled neither he nor partner in crime Isaac Hemptead-Wright (who plays Bran Stark) will be seen in GoT’s season 5.  “We have a season off and we have a year’s hiatus, solely because I imagine our storyline is up to the end of the books,” he said. “So, I get my year off now to do Rave of Thrones and gallivant all over the world.

Bran and Hodor’s travels to beyond the wall played a significant part in season 4’s story to which we were left with them meeting the mysterious ‘children’ at the Weirwood tree beyond the wall with the three eyed crow who revealed more about Bran’s greensight ability.  

Game of Thrones returns soon on HBO

Friends+With+Better+Lives+James+Van+Der+Beek+(Will),+Zoe+Lister+Jones+(Kate),+Kevin+Connolly+(Bobby),+Majandra+Delfino+(Andi),+Rick+Donald+(Lowell),+Brooklyn+Decker+(Jules),

Friends With Better Lives Coming to Eleven

James Van Der Beek Stars in Friends With Better Lives.  Source: Provided
James Van Der Beek Stars in Friends With Better Lives. Source: Provided

The pulled-after-eight-episodes American comedy Friends With Better Lives (Or FWBL) is finally making is Aussie TV debut with Channel Eleven airing the series starting September 9th.

From the press release: Friends With Better Lives is a romantic comedy about six friends at different stages in their lives: married, divorced, newly engaged and single. They are all outwardly happy but are finding it tough to look at each other without wondering who really has the better life.

Central couple Bobby (Kevin Connolly) and Andi (Majandra Delfino) are married with kids with another on the way who are struggling to find a balance between being married with kids (and being pregnant) and keeping the romance alive in their relationship. Bobby’s best friend and co-worker Will (James Van Der Beek) has just moved in after finding his wife having an affair with their marriage councilor but he refuses to believe the marriage is actually over.

The beautiful Jules (Brooklyn Decker) has found herself a new boyfriend in free-spirted environmentalist Lowell (Rick Donald) who owns and runs a local organic health food coffee shop while Kate (Zoe Lister-Jones) finds herself more successful in her professional life than her romantic one.

Of all the characters, It’s Kate and Will, both steadfast and overtly determined to outdo the other, who bring out the biggest laughs, often finding themselves in a myriad of dating disasters while their happily co-joined friends natter among themselves about the troubles that come with coupledom.

Like most comedies that have come out in the past few years, the humor offered up by FWBL leans more towards the adult side (think Two and a Half Men, 2 Broke Girls and Mom) thankfully though, it’s not as crass as the aforementioned shows that seem to push the boundaries of what’s subtle and what would make one blush.  FWBL finds the right fit with it’s taste level resulting in a nice balance between comedy and sexual comedy – a certain scene (and very funny one at that) in the pilot episode see’s a surprise birthday party resulting in another surprise all on it’s own for married couple Bobby and Andi.

While Two and Half Men and 2 Broke Girls never appealed to me, FWBL fitted quite nicely into my viewing roster and I found myself looking forward to the next episodes and while the show itself is nothing really new, FWBL is just a fun show with a fun cast that offers up some fun laughs.

Yes, FWBL was pulled after just eight episodes in America.  As someone who was enjoying the series, I assumed everyone was watching it, so I was certainly surprised by the news of it’s cancellation (considering FWBL comes from the same network that brings us the god-awful Mom) but hopefully, Eleven will air the additional four episodes not aired in the US.

So here it is, I enjoyed FWBL, was sad to see it cancelled and can’t wait to see those missing last four episodes if and when they eventually air.  Give it a shot, see what you think, even if it’s just to see James Van Der Beek playing funny after his stellar turn in Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23.

Friends With Better Lives begins Tuesday September 9th, 9pm on Eleven.

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