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TV Review: NBC Wants You to Enroll in Likable ‘Camp’

CHICAGO – Here are a few words that adequately describe NBC’s “Camp,” a Summer series premiering this Wednesday, July 10, 2013 — “Likable,” “Amiable,” “Cute,” “Fun.” It’s not designed to challenge your dramatic expectations and delivers exactly what you’d expect it to deliver but the cast has some notable stand-outs and the whole thing has the feel of a long weekend away in the Summer — fun while it lasts if not overly memorable.

TV Review: FX Promises Dark Journey Across ‘The Bridge’

CHICAGOFX’s “The Bridge” bears undeniable resemblance to other recent cable hits. The quirky-but-smart female lead will remind viewers of Claire Danes’ award-winning performance on Showtime’s “Homeland” while the mystery structure of the piece and the dense atmosphere are undeniably reminiscent of AMC’s “The Killing.” And international audiences will know it’s a loose remake of a Swedish show called “Bron.”

TV Review: ‘Survivor’ Meets ‘LOST’ on NBC’s Strange ‘Siberia’

CHICAGO – Every Summer needs a guilty pleasure. (Anyone else watch “The Glass House”? Just me? OK. Moving on.) This Summer’s guilty pleasure could easily be NBC’s truly bizarre “Siberia,” premiering tonight at 9pm CST. This hybrid of “Survivor” and “LOST” has some truly rough edges but also contains an addictively strange premise that could separate it from a lot of the bland network offerings this season.

TV Review: Showtime’s ‘Ray Donovan’ is Next Great Drama

Ray Donovan

CHICAGO – “I like you. You say what you mean.” Showtime’s brilliant new show, “Ray Donovan,” is titled after a straightshooter in a town where no one is honest; a problem solver in a place built on mountains of problems. Ann Biderman’s stunning drama (directed and produced by “Sopranos” vet Allen Coulter) is the kind of dense patchwork quilt of character and theme that separate great shows from merely good ones.

TV Review: Final Season of ‘Dexter’ Starts on Confident Note

Dexter S8 (cropped)

CHICAGO – The start of the eighth and final season of “Dexter” feels like a comeback album from a band that you used to love. There’s a blend of true happiness that this show looks, after four episodes, that it will end on a strong note, but also a bit of anger at the weak storytelling and stupid decisions that led us here.

DVD Review: First Season of Sundance Channel’s Riveting ‘Rectify’

Rectify

CHICAGO – As excellent as the current state of writing is in television, even our best programs often fit neatly into genres. It’s a three-party system — drama, comedy, and reality. And some of our most critically-acclaimed shows are so because of how they play within audience expectations (“Homeland,” “Parks & Recreation”) and not how they push them.

TV Review: TNT Spins Wheels with ‘Perception,’ ‘Rizzoli & Isles’

Perception

CHICAGOTNT brings “Perception” and “Rizzoli & Isles” back for new seasons tomorrow night, Tuesday, June 25, 2013, and the first episodes are unlikely to hook anyone new while also not annoying previous fans of either program. It’s the definition of playing it safe. With networks like AMC, FX, and A&E pushing boundaries, it’s beginning to get harder to make excuses for TNT, especially after they canceled their two most interesting dramas, “Monday Mornings” & “Southland.”

TV Review: Stephen King’s ‘Under the Dome’ Shows Promise on CBS

CHICAGO – Stephen King’s “Under the Dome” would have likely been a standard mini-series back in the day when such a thing happened on the networks in iterations like “It,” “The Stand,” and “Storm of the Century.” In a time when network mini-series are a lost form, CBS has taken the daring move of turning King’s book into a fully-formed, 13-episode Summer series, with the door apparently open for more beyond this initial arc.

TV Feature: If I Had an Emmy Ballot 2013

CHICAGO – With Emmy ballots due this Friday and the natural human tendency to procrastinate, I’m betting a lot of you Academy members are still sweating some tough decisions this year. Let me help.

TV Review: NBC Breaks International Quality Standards with ‘Crossing Lines’

Crossing Lines

CHICAGONBC’s “Crossing Lines,” premiering with a two-part pilot on Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 8pm CST, was blatantly created for an international audience. It’s a product of a French production company, filming largely in the Czech Republic with an international cast. Designed for sales in as many markets as possible around the world, it’s a financial consideration more than a creative venture, and it’s a boring one at that. Don’t bother.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Prodigal Daughter, The

    CHICAGO – One of the open secrets of Chicago is its horrible racist past, which remains like an echo. Playwright Joshua Allen has been exploring this theme in his Grand Boulevard Trilogy – the last chapter talking place during the infamous 1919 race riots – in Raven Theatre’s “The Prodigal Daughter.” For tickets and info, click TPD.

  • Michael Shannon and Travis A. Knight, Red Orchid's TURRET

    CHICAGO – When in the presence of a powerful acting force like Michael Shannon, the depth of performance is emotional and passionately essential. He co-leads with Travis A. Knight in Red Orchid Theatre’s World Premiere of Levi Holloway’s “Turret,” just extended to June 22nd at the Chopin Theatre.

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