Web site TV for Jan 16–Jan 22, 2011
TV film fare -- week of Jan.16
The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television during the week of Jan. 16. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence and sexual situations.
Sunday, Jan. 16, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. EST (Lifetime) "Erin Brockovich" (2000). Fact-based tale of an earthy single mom (Julia Roberts) who persuades her litigator boss (Albert Finney) to pursue a class-action suit against a major California utility for contaminating local waters. As directed by Steven Soderbergh, Roberts vividly captures a foul-mouthed but good-hearted woman who makes something of herself in doggedly seeking justice for families beset by cancers. An implied affair, some profanity and much rough language. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Sunday, Jan. 16, 5:30-8 p.m. EST (AMC) "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" (2003). Lavish action film about an elite team of Victorian superheroes, led by Sean Connery, secretly recruited by the British crown to stop a madman from triggering a world war. Despite an intriguing premise and imaginative effects, Stephen Norrington's comic-book-inspired film is weighed down by tedious over-the-top action sequences that dissipate rather than enhance its otherwise escapist thrill-ride charm. Much action/adventure violence, some frightening supernatural effects with gore and a few instances of crude language with sexual innuendo. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Monday, Jan. 17, 6-7:45 a.m. EST (TCM) "The Green Pastures" (1936). Warmly sympathetic, gently humorous fantasy from Marc Connelly's Pulitzer Prize-winning play portraying stories from the Old Testament as imagined in the cultural idiom of black youngsters in a rural Sunday school of a long-ago segregated South. Directed by Connelly and William Keighley, the all-black cast carries off the narrative's mixture of whimsy and reverence in high style, with a commanding performance by Rex Ingram as De Lawd and appropriate gospel music by the Hall Johnson choir. Considered a positive portrayal of black folk culture and religious feeling by audiences of the time, the work still has considerable charm and emotional appeal today, especially for those interested in the history of the African-American community. Parents, however, should be sensitive that its picture of blacks may be misunderstood as patronizing or demeaning unless seen in historical context. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Monday, Jan. 17, 2:30-4:30 p.m. EST (Lifetime) "Akeelah and the Bee." (2006). Irresistible story about a South Los Angeles 11-year-old loner (Keke Palmer) who reluctantly agrees to compete in a national spelling bee -- under the tutelage of an emotionally fragile English professor (Laurence Fishburne) against the initial wishes of her hard-working mother (Angela Bassett), who worries that the endeavor will interfere with the girl's flagging grades in other subjects. Writer-director Doug Atchison handles Akeelah's journey of self-discovery and growing empowerment deftly and builds suspense on the way to a satisfying if unabashedly formulaic conclusion, helped by his first-rate leads, and inspiring messages about conquering fears, winning by honest means, the strength of community, and, above all, the beauty and potency of words. A few crass expressions and a single use of a four-letter word can't detract from an overall warm endorsement for all audiences. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
Monday, Jan 17, 10 p.m.-1:15 a.m. EST (TCM) "Camelot" (1967). Director Josh Logan's screen version of the Broadway musical on the King Arthur legend offers the charming Lerner and Loewe score and lyrics, luxurious fantasy settings and a grand cast (Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave, Franco Nero and David Hemmings). Emphasizing the human implications of the legend rather than its romanticism, the musical shows that power is not strength and that compassion is not weakness. Never has adultery carried so high a price -- the downfall of Camelot. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Saturday, Jan. 22, 8-10 p.m. EST (HBO) "Green Zone" (2010). Idealistic but raw combat drama, set in the early days of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, as a dedicated Army officer (Matt Damon) tries to discover why his unit's search for the Saddam regime's weapons of mass destruction continually comes up empty. He also finds himself caught in a power struggle between a Defense Department intelligence agent (Greg Kinnear) who's indifferent to the justification for American intervention and a rogue CIA station chief (Brendan Gleeson) who believes the whole operation rests on a foundation of lies and fabrications. Director Paul Greengrass' uneasy mix of political conspiracy yarn and action adventure, loosely inspired by journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran's 2007 best-seller "Imperial Life in the Emerald City," increasingly takes on the qualities of a personal crusade by its hero, thus blunting its ability to dissect larger questions of real-life morality. Considerable action violence, some of it bloody; torture; several uses of profanity; and frequent rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Saturday, Jan. 22, 8-10:15 p.m. EST (TCM) "The Sea Hawk" (1940). Classic Hollywood swashbuckler about an Elizabethan privateer whose raids on the Spanish Main end when its crew is captured and chained to the oars of an enemy galleon until their dashing captain (Errol Flynn) leads them to take over the ship and sail to London to warn the Queen (Flora Robson) of the impending attack by the Spanish Armada. Action director Michael Curtiz handles the swordplay and sea battles with gusto, abetted by a colorful host of Warner Bros. character actors (Alan Hale, Donald Crisp, Henry Daniell and Una O'Connor, among others) and a sweeping musical score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. First-class entertainment for action fans but its romanticized version of history with anti-Spanish stereotypes and sanitized violence need to be clarified for young viewers. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-I -- general patronage. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Saturday, Jan. 22, 9-11 p.m. EST (ABC) "Blades of Glory" (2007). Fitfully amusing buddy comedy about rival skating champions -- a macho ladies' man (Will Ferrell) and a former child prodigy (Jon Heder) -- banned from the world championships after fighting on the ice, who reluctantly become a team when they learn it's the only way they'll be allowed back to compete, while a jealous brother-sister act (Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) attempt to sabotage the duo. Will Speck and Josh Gordon direct the sophomoric proceedings capably, the skating stunts are well handled, the leads are well paired, and there are apt satirical barbs at the skating industry. The pervasive low humor and vulgarity preclude the younger viewers who would most appreciate the humor, even as predictable affirmations of friendship and good sportsmanship eventually prevail. Crude language, crass expressions, mild profanity, a couple of brief nongraphic sexual encounters, innuendo, comic violence and mayhem, including a decapitation, brief comic suggestion of incest and drug use. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Saturday, Jan. 22, 10 p.m.-12:10 a.m. EST (Cinemax) "The Blind Side" (2009). Inspirational family drama, based on real events, in which a wealthy white couple (Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw) in Memphis, Tenn., offer shelter to a homeless black student (Quinton Aaron) from their children's (Lily Collins and Jae Head) school and, as he becomes an increasingly integral part of their clan, help him to hone his football skills while also hiring a determined tutor (Kathy Bates) to raise his academic standing. Driven by Bullock's field-sweeping performance as the feisty, religiously motivated adoptive mother, writer-director John Lee Hancock's unapologetically Christian tale of human solidarity across racial and class divides, adapted from Michael Lewis' 2006 best-seller "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game," is funny, shrewd and ultimately uplifting. Brief nongraphic marital lovemaking, at least one profanity, a few sexual and drug references, and a half-dozen crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
TV program notes -- week of Jan. 16
Here are some television program notes for the week of Jan. 16 with their TV Parental Guidelines ratings if available. Most have not been reviewed and therefore they are not necessarily recommended by Catholic News Service.
Sunday, Jan. 16, 1:30-3 p.m. EST (EWTN) "In Concert: Popular Choral Classics." The Choir of St. John's College and organist Peter Davis perform favorite anthems and hymns by Mozart, Haydn, Brahms, Byrd, Grieg, Bruckner and Mendelssohn, among others. Christopher Robinson conducts this concert from St. John's College Chapel in Cambridge, England.
Monday, Jan. 17, 9-10 p.m. EST (PBS) "Dinosaur Wars." This episode of the series "American Experience" recounts how two paleontologists uncovered the remains of 130 species of dinosaur and collected thousands of specimens, putting American science on the world stage in the late 1800s; yet their professional rivalry left both men alone and almost penniless (TV-G -- general audience).
Monday, Jan. 17, 10-11 p.m. EST (NBC) "Harry's Law." Premiere of a new comedy-drama series about Harriet "Harry" Korn (Kathy Bates), a successful Cincinnati patent lawyer who abandons her lucrative practice to take on criminal defense work in a depressed neighborhood. Aided by her loyal assistant Jenna Backstrom (Brittany Snow) and by Adam Branch (Nate Corddry), another disenchanted legal eagle, Harry sets up her new offices in an abandoned shoe store. In this episode, Harry represents a drug-addicted college student whose conviction for buying cocaine from an undercover police officer would destroy his promising future. Adam, meanwhile, argues a self-defense case on behalf of a petty extortionist who shot a robber holding up one of the clients in his local protection racket. A subplot about footwear-savvy Jenna's attempts to sell off the remaining inventory is mildly amusing, but the sometimes wildly improbable -- and mostly mediocre -- proceedings otherwise unfold unremarkably. A touch of rude language and images of a gory gunshot wound suggest mature viewership.
Tuesday, Jan. 18, 8-9 p.m. EST (PBS) "Science Fiction." In its season premiere, the series "Pioneers of Television" looks at the formative years of one of the medium's most enduring genres, science fiction. Guests include William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. Kelsey Grammer narrates (TV-G -- general audience).
Thursday, Jan. 20, 8:30-9 p.m. EST (NBC) "Perfect Couples." Premiere of a new sitcom about the relationship ups and downs of three couples: stable, sensible Dave (Kyle Bornheimer) and Julia (Christine Woods), Dave's childish best friend Vance (David Walton) and his volatile girlfriend Amy (Mary Elizabeth Ellis) and the other pair rounding out their social circle, reformed playboy Rex (Hayes MacArthur) and relationship-advice-addicted Leigh (Olivia Munn). In the initial program, Dave and Julia find their plans for a quiet anniversary together threatened by a quarrel between Vance and Amy -- after which Vance moves in with them -- and by heavy drinker Rex's insistence that they spend the evening on a wine cruise with him, Leigh and some of his business associates. With the script making it clear that Vance and Amy are cohabiting -- the marital status of the other two couples is left ambiguous -- this morally distasteful premise kicks off relentlessly low-minded bedroom humor typified by Amy's public recitation of the long list of her former sexual partners. The occasional crass term and a scene of excessively passionate petting among the couples are further blemishes. Not recommendable for any age group.
Saturday, Jan. 22, 1-3:30 p.m. EST (EWTN) "Walk for Life West Coast (Live)." Father Mark Mary and Doug Barry host live coverage of the Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco. The program will be rebroadcast Sunday, Jan. 23, 9:30-noon EST.