Mad man of Mad Men
As coarse, self-loathing, Don Rickles–ish comedian Jimmy Barrett, Fischler stole every scene he was in this season. And not only because he delivered his scathingly funny lines with the rat-a-tat furor of the best of the Borscht Belt comics, but because his seething hatred for uptight Don Draper was such a vicarious thrill for viewers. The casting was brave: Fischler was uncompromisingly abrasive, and yet that’s exactly why he was so good. Where has the actor been all these years? Mostly making limited runs on TV shows like Nash Bridges and Burn Notice (those eyebrows got him the role of Eugene Levy in a 2002 TV movie about Gilda Radner). If producers are smart, that will change.
Secret weapons of The Shield
Jay Karnes and CCH Pounder
Karnes’s portrayal of LAPD detective Holland “Dutch” Wagenbach—his almost schizoid mixture of humility and egomania, decency and depravity (he once strangled a cat, fer chrissakes!)—has unfolded, deliciously, over The Shield’s seven seasons. In Captain Claudette Wyms, Pounder has fashioned a moral center with teeth, who can communicate more with a look than most actors with an hour of screen time. Unfortunately, they play civil servants battling dark people doing dark, dark things. Happy endings are as rare as pathos and bikinis in their modern-day SoCal Fort Apache. Way to harsh the Academy’s bourgeois buzz.
Britain builds a better teen show
Skins, BBC America
Gossip Girl? A Mickey Rooney–Judy Garland musical compared to this randy import, which stars a posse of attainably attractive actors playing 17-year-old kids from Bristol who equally shock and amuse—or, as BBCAmerica.com puts it, “grab life by the balls and then give it a good twirl.” Unlike those anorexic poseurs on the new 90210, these adolescents are likable and believable—as people and as friends. And each episode wisely focuses on one character as they deal with, say, family conflicts (like Anwar and his traditional Muslim family), overdosing on Viagra, or eating disorders. More real than reality TV, with the heart of Party of Five and the wicked wit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it’s almost guaranteed to get no Emmy love.