RAVE and WRECK of the week: Oct. 6, 2010

Matt Busekroos

RAVE of the week: “The Big C”

As one of the few success stories of the fall television season, Showtime’s “The Big C” is a worthwhile addition to the already dark comedy lineup, fitting in with “Weeds,” “United States of Tara,” and “Nurse Jackie.” “The Big C” stars three-time Emmy winner Laura Linney as Cathy Jamison, a woman who has been diagnosed with cancer and is trying to find the humor in the disease. It’s not until Cathy finds out about her cancer that she begins to live her life. As Dr. Todd Miller, Reid Scott has bubbling chemistry opposite Linney. Scott has more charisma than Linney’s on-screen husband, Oliver Platt, who is fairly stilted. “Precious” star Gabourey Sidibe appears on the show as one of Cathy’s students, Andrea. For every pound Andrea loses, Cathy is willing to pay her. The back and forth between the two is oftentimes hysterical, and Linney and Sidibe seem to be having fun playing off one another. The one downside to the series is Cathy’s homeless brother Sean (John Benjamin Hickey), who is far too bizarre and eccentric. Whenever he appears on screen, the show loses any semblance of reality it may have otherwise possessed. Still, Linney is transcendent here and enough of a reason to watch. Her performance every week makes one wonder why she isn’t receiving more interesting work in films.

WRECK of the week: 2010 Fall TV Season

Only three weeks into the new television season and there is not much for the networks to be excited about. Fox already canceled its frothy drama “Lone Star” after two critically-acclaimed but low rated episodes. ABC followed suit, canceling “My Generation” after two episodes as well. It’s not just the new shows, either, as some of the networks’ older shows are in danger with low ratings as well. CBS’ “Medium,” ABC’s “Cougar Town,” NBC’s “Parenthood,” “Chuck,” “Community,” and Fox’s “Fringe” are all teetering on the edge of possible termination with their numbers not delivering. While the networks are struggling, cable is booming with new hits like AMC’s “Rubicon,” HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” and the aforementioned “The Big C” on Showtime. Perhaps network execs need to reevaluate their development slate because something is clearly not working. Viewers have so many more options today with cable and the Internet that the networks are no longer the first place for bored Americans to turn to on a typical evening. CBS continuing to program procedurals and Chuck Lorre sitcoms works for them, but will not sustain them forever. “Lone Star” could’ve reshaped the landscape of the television drama with its scandalous plot lines and intriguing characters, but viewers would rather watch another crime procedural on CBS or NBC’s “Law & Order” instead.