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Tuesday Morning Notebook: "Saving Grace," "The Closer," "Skins," "90210"

By admin Published: August 19, 2008

The fall season is looming, though not as much as I would like. The CW says the new "90210" will not be offered for advance review, a pretty definite sign that the premiere stinks. Looks back at the original "Beverly Hills, 90210" will continue in this space.

KJ

That said, other shows are trickling in; today's mail included the season premiere of "Heroes." But I would be much more excited if summer TV hadn't been on such a good roll lately. I've already sung the praises of last Sunday's "Mad Men" (see below), and last night's "Saving Grace" kicked, too. And if you didn't recognize what a good actor Kenny Johnson, above, from his work on "The Shield," last night's "Saving Grace" provided ample evidence. More, with spoilers, after the jump.

I know, it was a deliberately powerful episode; you're not laying back when your main case involves a kid whose father has set fire to him. And both Hanadarko and Earl had great moments because of that case. But the show did not settle for just that plot. There was Ham dealing with his brother's death, and Bobby's sending his wedding ring to his wife because he couldn't wear it while undercover. Good one. And Johnson's performance of Ham's pain is quite effective; he even staggers well.

"The Closer" also tried to wrench us, with its tale of a missing (and later murdered) kid who was quite monstrous while alive. But while it was reasonably well acted, the plotting was pretty obvious; the bride and I were suspicious of the kid's parents pretty much from the first time we saw them.

And am I the only one expecting Fritz to break up with Brenda sometime soon? While his anger from a couple of episodes back was put aside, last night's show indicated still more tension between them over the question of having children. I don't think Fritz gave up freely -- there was a lot of discomfort in the silence following Brenda's not wanting kids.

And aren't Fritz and Brenda a little old to be having the kid conversation? According to IMDB, Jon Tenney is 46 and Kyra Sedgwick turned 43 today, and I don't get the impressiont their characters are supposed to be significantly younger.

Getting back to teen dramas, I caught the first hour of "Skins," the British series that premiered on BBC America over the weekend. It was controversial not only because the kids are substance-using horndogs, but because the show is pretty explicit about nudity and language (and the BBC America deletions have left in quite a bit). Still, by the end of the first hour, I was less interested in the graphic material than in the young people themselves. The characters arrive fully realized, and complicated, and I'm curious about where they will go next. But I could have done without some of the teen-tale cliches, including the party that turns into a house-trashing.

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