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<p>Albert (Clarke Peters)&nbsp;and Delmond (Rob Brown)&nbsp;perform in the &quot;Treme&quot;&nbsp;season finale.</p>

Albert (Clarke Peters) and Delmond (Rob Brown) perform in the "Treme" season finale.

Credit: HBO/Paul Schiraldi

'Treme' - 'Do Watcha Wanna': Home is where the funk is

Everyone comes home for Jazz Fest in the surprisingly upbeat season finale

"Treme" just wrapped up its second season. I offered up a general overview of my feelings about the season on Friday, and I have a review of the finale coming up just as soon as the advance orders come in from Switzerland...

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<p>Fiona Shaw on &quot;True Blood.&quot;</p>

Fiona Shaw on "True Blood."

Credit: HBO

'True Blood' - 'You Smell Like Dinner': The naked time

Eric takes on the witches in the season's second episode

Once again, y'all should know the drill by now with "True Blood," where I provide these short posts for everybody who wants to discuss the episode immediately after it's over, rather than waiting for Leslie Gornstein's recap to show up at our Monkeys as Critics blog within a few hours (or for people who prefer to keep all their HitFix TV discussion in one place).

"You Smell Like Dinner" offered us more of Fiona Shaw as the leader of the local witch coven, finally crossing paths with Eric; it explained how Bill came to be in his current position; it let dud storylines like Jason and Andy's problems crawl along; and, for those who are interested in that sort of thing (not that there's anything wrong with that), it featured copious amounts of nudity from various guest stars.

What did everybody think of it?

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Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'Hart of Dixie'
Credit: The CW

Take Me To The Pilots '11: The CW's 'Hart of Dixie'

If you buy Rachel Bilson as an MD, there's fun to be had

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots.]

Show:"Hart of Dixie" (The CW)
The Pitch: It's less "Doc Hollywood" and more "Northern Exposure" in the South. Or maybe it's "Medically Brunette." See what I did there?
Quick Response: See, it's a Vocational Irony Narrative *and* a Nomenclatural Irony Narrative, because Rachel Bilson plays a cardio surgeon whose name is Hart, but who doesn't have enough heart herself. She's Christina Yang meets Summer Roberts, which is a little awesome and a little off-putting, depending on how quickly you buy into Bilson as a doctor. Willing suspension of disbelief, y'all! I bought in pretty quickly and just let Bilson's adorable charm carry "Hart of Dixie" over more than a few Southern cliches and Scott Porter's erratic accent. There are good supporting performances from the likes of Cress Williams and Tim Matheson and Nancy Travis (likely to cease to exist due to her "Last Man Standing" commitments) and if the universe is properly evolved, the backdrop could become the Alabama equivalent of Star's Hollow from "Gilmore Girls." I think there's a lot to work with within the premise, though I have some concern that after shooting the pilot on location, "Hart of Dixie" will move production to Los Angeles. Also a concern? "Hart of Dixie" is the latest in a string of CW attempts to channel the spirit of the old WB. It didn't work with "Privileged." It didn't work with "Life Unexpected." And I don't know that this show is really a great match with "Gossip Girl" on Monday nights.
Desire To Watch Again: At least for a while, I'll happily set my DVR to watch Rachel Bilson yield a stethoscope. See, it's like that brief time in "The O.C." Season One when Summer was a candy striper?

 

Take Me To The Pilots ' 11: ABC's 'Apartment 23'

Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'A Gifted Man'

All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots installments.

 

 

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<p>&nbsp;Beyonce Knowles performs live on &quot;Good Morning America&quot;&nbsp;on Friday, </p>

 Beyonce Knowles performs live on "Good Morning America" on Friday,

Credit: AP Photo/Charles Sykes

Billboard 200 chart preview: Does Beyonce or Adele rule the world?

Plus: Which two 'American Idol' winners may debut in the top 10?

Who rules the world?  Adele or Beyonce?  Well, next week, Beyonce’s “4” will be the runaway winner for the top spot as her fourth solo set is slated to sell around 300,000 copies. That’s three times what Adele’s “21,” which will likely land at No. 2, is expected to sell.

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<p>Krysten Ritter and James Van Der Beek of 'Apartment 23'</p>
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Krysten Ritter and James Van Der Beek of 'Apartment 23'

Credit: ABC

Take Me To The Pilots '11: ABC's 'Apartment 23'

Dreama Walker shines, but The Beek steals the spotlight

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots.]

Show: "Apartment 23" (ABC) [Note: I'm probably going to save most midseason shows for last, but "Apartment 23" has a semi-scheduled premiere and time slot after "Dancing with the Stars" wraps up, so I might as well.]
The Pitch:Nahnatchka Khan and Dave Hemingson's script is fairly hard to describe, at least in terms of other things. Normally my notes are awash in logical pop culture comparisons. In this case, it's a bit like "Friends" if Rachel and Monica were enemies, Joey was actually the successful former star of "Dawson's Creek" and nobody else existed.
Quick Response: I like Dreama Walker. She was very funny in brief moments on "Gossip Girl" and her scenes with Alan Cumming on "The Good Wife" this season were spectacular. Here, she has a solid vehicle as a wide-eyed Midwestern girl who comes to NYC and falls prey to The Bitch in Apartment 23 (Krysten Ritter), who brings in new roommates, scares them off and collects their deposits. It's an amusing conceit and the script is is a politically incorrect treat, full of well-constructed one-liners, insults and "Did they just say that?!?" toss-offs. I loved Walker and while I go back and forth of Krysten Ritter (mostly I'm not a fan, but she was so amazing on "Breaking Bad" that she's no longer the turn-off she was before) she's in one of her "good" modes here. I enjoyed the situation and the pacing and there are several background characters I could see wanting to be part of an ensemble in the future. What I didn't do was laugh. I smiled and I wrote down snippets of dialogue that I enjoyed, but I didn't laugh. And this isn't some kind of Showtime comedy that doesn't care if you laugh or not. "Apartment 23" wants you to laugh. Dunno what's up there. I'll try to figure it out by the time I do an actual review. Oh and people seem to be loving James Van Der Beek, playing James Van Der Beek Like You've Never Seen Him Before. I liked The Beek, but I've seen too many movies and TV shows with James Van Der Beek As I've Never Seen Him Before. After "Rules of Attraction," "Still Standing," "One Tree Hill" and a few other bits of semi-self-parody, The Beek didn't surprise me here, so that aspect of shock-humor fell short. But he's definitely good.
Desire To Watch Again: This is probably the best of the comedy pilots I've watched this spring? But again... no laughter. The minute Ritter's character gets softened -- and it's inevitable that Ritter's character is going to get softened -- a lot of fun of the premise vanishes and you're left with a single-camera Girls In The City sitcom and it could become interchangeable with CBS' "2 Broke Girls."

 

Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'A Gifted Man'

All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots installments.

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<p>Jennifer Ehle and Patrick Wilson of 'A Gifted Man'</p>
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Jennifer Ehle and Patrick Wilson of 'A Gifted Man'

Credit: CBS

Take Me To The Pilots '11: CBS' 'A Gifted Man'

Patrick Wilson is solid, but what will happen without Jonathan Demme?

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots.]

 

Show:"A Gifted Man" (CBS)
The Pitch: It's "3 Lbs" meets "Ghost" meets "The Doctor" meets "The Ghost Whisperer." Or maybe it's "Eli Stone, MD"? "A Gifted Man" is a lot like a lot of things.
Quick Response: Patrick Wilson channels a young William Hurt as a self-obsessed doctor who begins seeing ghosts or, more specifically, the ghost of his ex-wife (Jennifer Ehle). "A Gifted Man" has the potential to be excruciatingly treacle-y stuff, but for the pilot, it gets a huge boost from director Jonathan Demme, who makes terrific use of New York City locations and gives the entire episode a jittery immediacy -- lots of tight close-ups, lots of natural light -- that cuts through what easily could have been overbearing, New Age-y and hyper-emotional. Can I guarantee that any subsequent director will have the same touch? No. Almost the opposite, in fact. I like Patrick Wilson and have always thought he's been limited by casting directors stuck on his unavoidable WASPy-ness. He's good and Ehle is properly ethereal and empathetic. It's a great supporting cast as well, led by Margo Martindale. Six months ago, you wouldn't have thought this role was a waste of Martindale's talent, but now having seen "Justified," there's no double she could be doing more and hopefully the writers will realize this. You've also got a very cute and flighty Julie Benz and an interestingly balanced Paolo Schreiber, thankfully not hamming it up as the Whoopi Goldberg equivalent in this scenario. There are some moments where the theme is way over-articulated as Wilson's character lets us know that he's chosen his job over his happiness and everybody else lets him know that he's chosen his job over his happiness. There's also an astoundingly idiotic sequence in which New York's Most Successful Neurosurgeon has to *Google* potential causes for hallucinations.
Desire To Watch Again: I'm definitely curious. I want to see what happens when Demme isn't directing anymore. I want to see if there's an alternative direction the series can take other than having the ghost just be a bleeding heart catalyst in our hero's transformation from "A Gifted Man" to "A Good Man." Because if "A Gifted Man" goes down the predictable direction, I'll be tuning out fast.

 

All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots installments.

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<p>Britney Spears during the opening night of her &quot;Femme Fatale&quot;&nbsp;tour June 16 in Sacramento.</p>

Britney Spears during the opening night of her "Femme Fatale" tour June 16 in Sacramento.

Credit: AP Photo/Britney Spears Femme Fatale Tour, Roderick Trestrail II

Music Power Rankings: Beyonce, Justin Timberlake and Britney make the list

Music Power Rankings goes pop for the fourth of July

1. Beyonce: “4” looks like it will be Bey’s fourth solo album to hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Who says you need a hit single?

2. Justin Timberlake: He is one of the investors who purchased MySpace in a fire sale from News Corp. Man, he’ll do anything to keep from putting out another album, won’t he?

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<p>Taylor Kitsch and Derek Phillips on &quot;Friday Night Lights.&quot;</p>

Taylor Kitsch and Derek Phillips on "Friday Night Lights."

Credit: NBC/DirecTV

'Friday Night Lights' - 'The March': Breaking away

A lot of good news/bad news situations as we barrel towards a finale

(I originally posted this review back when "Friday Night Lights" was doing its exclusive DirecTV run. The comments from that period have been preserved. For the sake of people who are watching the episodes as they air on NBC, I will ask anyone commenting from this point forward to only discuss plot events up to the episode in question. Do not discuss, or even allude to, anything that has yet to air on NBC. Thank you.)

"Friday Night Lights" is almost done with its final season, and I have a review of tonight's episode coming up just as soon as I say "hoot"...

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TLC's "Four Weddings"

TLC's "Four Weddings"

Credit: TLC

Spin the Remote: 'Four Weddings' is all about the backbiting

A reality competition founded in the nightmares of bridezillas everywhere

Maybe it’s the only show on at 3 a.m. that isn’t an infomercial. Maybe it’s what the TV is set to at the gym. Maybe you’re just bored and it kinda looks good to you. There are a lot of reasons to watch shows you’d never otherwise watch. You call it random. We call it Spin the Remote.

Given the amount of wedding-themed programming on basic cable (if you include cake designs in the total, it may be close to 80 percent. Kidding. Sort of), it’s no surprise that someone had the bright idea to turn the most important day of a couple’s life (well, most important according to the wedding industry) into a money grubbing, backstabbing competition. Yay! Because when I think wedding, I think hateful women judging one another!
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<p>Tyrese seems reluctant to admit that this is most likely the last 'Transformers' film with this cast and with Michael Bay directing</p>

Tyrese seems reluctant to admit that this is most likely the last 'Transformers' film with this cast and with Michael Bay directing

Credit: HitFix

Watch: John Malkovich, Tyrese, and Josh Duhamel talk 'Transformers 3'

The military, the muscle, and the Malk all are represented in our last batch of interviews

Here's an odd trio of interviews, but that sort of sums up the casting of "Transformers: Dark Of The Moon" perfectly.  Michael Bay has repeatedly spoken in interviews about how much he loves the films of the Coen Brothers, and looking at his cast here, which includes John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, and John Turturro, it certainly seems like he at least loves the same actors they do.

But Bay makes crazy-ass action movies, so he needs guys like Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson as well, and one of the things that makes a movie like this so surreal is the way you've got such wildly different actors going head-to-head with giant robots kicking the crap out of each other to tie the whole thing together.

I find John Malkovich fascinating.  Here's a classically trained stage actor who has become a pop culture icon thanks to Spike Jones, Charlie Kaufman, and his own innate oddity.  He is urbane, charming, and if you want to talk about the craft of acting, he will absolutely meet you halfway.  It helps that my first question to him as we were sitting down was about his new clothing line, Technobohemian, an example of which he was wearing at the press day.

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<p>Adele</p>

Adele

Credit: AP Photo

My favorite albums of 2011 so far: Adele, Foo Fighters and a few surprises

Who has taken up musical residence in our head and who hasn't (Lady Gaga)

With the first half of 2011 officially in our rear view mirror as of yesterday, here’s a look at the albums released in the previous six months that were my favorites. Are they the “best?” Who’s to say. All I'll say is they’re the ones I’ve found myself repeatedly drawn to this year.


Adele, “21”:  Really, what more is there to be said. Just give her the Grammy for album of the year already. Soaring vocals and searing lyrics even if the whole album was just “Rolling in the Deep” over and over again it would get our vote.

The Decemberists, “The King is Dead.” 
After laying it on thick with the excellent “Hazards of Love,” Colin Meloy and friends dialed it back. Less ambition is not always a bad thing, especially when it results in something so catchy as “Down by the Water.”

Foo Fighters, “Wasting Light”:
Fifteen years in, the Foos score their first No. 1 album and they’re just as fierce, focused and passionate as the day they began. Rock with heart and soul and just the right amount of thrashy abandon.

The Head and The Heart, “The Head and the Heart”:
Originally self-released, this Seattle band's debut was  picked up for wider distribution this April by Sub Pop. It’s lovely, lilting pop that just skirts preciousness. “You’re already home once you feel love.”

The Low Anthem, “Smart Flesh”: Atmospheric folk rock that haunts and hypnotizes through the quartet’s fearless use of whatever instrument is nearby. There are at least two dozen played on this set, including some you’re never heard of.

Pitbull, “Planet Pit”:
The party album of the year for the song “Pause” alone. Don’t bring your head,  just your feet. If you don’t want to dance to it, it’s the workout album of the year too.

Paul Simon, “So Beautiful or So What”:
One of America’s greatest songwriters roars back with his best album in ages. Who else (except perhaps Randy Newman) could go from the biting commentary of “The Afterlife” to the sheer vulnerability of “Love and Hard Times.”

Eddie Vedder, “Ukulele Songs”: Sometimes albums are meant to whisper, not scream and yet they have just as much impact. Vedder’s gruff voice nestled against the inherently sweet ukulele is all you need to bring down your blood pressure and breathe.

What are your favorites so far? 

 

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Watch: Beyonce reveals how she created '4' and what terrifies her

Watch: Beyonce reveals how she created '4' and what terrifies her

Short documentary chronicles her struggles and growth

Want to see what it’s like to live in Beyonce’s rarified air? Take 20 minutes and watch “Year of 4,” a mini-documentary about the time Bey took off and saw the world without having to perform. The doc is airing in its entirety on MTV.

If nothing else, you’ll see her without any make-up and definitely more emotionally revealing than we usually see her. Of course, if she had cameras rolling during her whole year off, I don’t know how much of a break she really got. As she points out, she have been performing for a very long time and you get the sense that this is the first time, especially since she split with her father as her manager, that she has really been aware of her own power. She also reveals some behind-the-scenes at the creation of "4," including the difficulty it took choreographing the video for "Run the World (Girls)" and the extraordinary measures she took to get the dancing right.

[More after the jump...]

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