John Leonard

  1. Let the Witness SpeakKen Burns returns with The War, fifteen hours on WWII. Does the Greatest Generation make for great TV?
  2. Slouching Toward La-La LandIn Californication, another cranky novelist goes Hollywood, bamboozled by sun and skin.
  3. Men Behaving BlandlyThe Company is a plodding look at the CIA, enlivened only by Michael Keaton as the spookiest spook.
  4. Mad MenJon Hamm stars as a hotshot creative director at a New York advertising agency that is equally eager, in 1960, to sell cigarettes and Richard Nixon.
  5. The Kill Point’The Kill Point’ bucks a trend. Hostage shows have not fared well as series television. The combination of claustrophobia and suspense seems t […]
  6. Have You Met My Guardian Angel?Two new shows saddle great female leads (Holly Hunter, Lili Taylor) with far-fetched premises.
  7. Watch This InsteadIt isn’t absolutely necessary to hide out all summer from your enemies, or abuse a guitar, or undergo major surgery. You can disappear with thes […]
  8. Heartland’Heartland’ asks us to sit still for a Treat Williams who, while once again practicing medicine, is even more of a noble noodle than he was on ’ […]
  9. Flight of the ConchordsThink of ‘Flight of the Conchords’ as Cheech and Chong in the East Village, or Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels in Alphabet City, or Vladimir and Est […]
  10. There Goes the NeighborhoodIn Meadowlands, a whole town is under surveillance— which doesn’t prevent some truly creepy behavior.
  11. Holy WaterJohn From Cincinnati, HBO’s new surf drama, offers an unlikely mix of salty spirituality and gnarly waves.
  12. Serious ReservationsHBO’s Western epic is thoughtful, gorgeous, well acted— and wearyingly familiar.
  13. An Extreme Danger to SocietyAmerica argues that no other country should lock up juveniles for life—which is ironic, given that we have 2,000 times more prisoners like that […]
  14. The Donk-Donk DynastyAs Law & Order founders, SVU still thrives, thanks to sex, sadism, and two very screwed-up cops.
  15. Not With a Bada-Bing, But a WhimperAmong returning dramas, The Sopranos hogs the attention. But though it started out great, it never got better.
  16. The Wedding BellsWhy executive producer David E. Kelley should be so hard on marriage is a mystery to me. After all, isn’t he married to Michelle Pfeiffer?
  17. Pilgrimage to KarbalaKarbala, in Iraq, is the site of the murder and butchering of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson in 680 A.D., in this remarkable Wide Angle documen […]
  18. Planet EarthSigourney Weaver, Discovery Channel, and the BBC have teamed up for a month of Sundays to show us what 70 camera operators spending more than 2, […]
  19. Watching the DetectivesRaines offers yet another quirky crime-solving cop. But Andy Barker, P.I. is the one worth investigating.
  20. Kings of South BeachNot even the considerable writing, directing, and acting talents of Nicholas Pileggi, Tim Hunter, and Donnie Wahlberg and Jason Gedrick can make […]
  21. Life SupportNelson George, who co-wrote and directs Life Support, is thinking about his real-life sister Andrea, a community health activist in Bed-Stuy who […]
  22. Suburban WarfareThe Riches features a family of grifters—and the most scathing take on class relations anywhere on TV.
  23. Barbarians IIAs if the Huns, Goths, Vikings, and Mongols of three years ago weren’t enough, the History Channel returns with four more hours of rape and pillage.
  24. Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?According to Independent Lens and filmmaker Frank Popper, who spent time in Missouri during the congressional elections of 2004 when a young Was […]
  25. Emerald IreThe Black Donnellys presents a smart—if familiar— take on Irish guts and guilt.
  26. The Ad Hoc Behavioral LaboratoryAbu Ghraib, from all the angles.
  27. Billy Strayhorn: Lush LifeFrom the Emmy-winning writer-producer-director Robert Levi comes this enthralling documentary film on the composer, arranger, and pianist that i […]
  28. DraculaWhile I can’t imagine why we’d want another Dracula, this one’s sturdy enough. Next time, though, how about a subtext that speaks to the feeding […]
  29. Down the HatchLost returns with more questions, few answers, and an audience whose patience is wearing thin.
  30. The Supreme CourtThis thoughtful, earnest, and perhaps a shade too on-the-one-hand, on-the-other mini-series, escorting us with many a wise talking head emphasiz […]
  31. Bad GirlsDon’t imagine you are tuning in to The L Word behind bars. Bad Girls is much better than that—it has a rough Oz edge and some of the feminist wi […]
  32. Marriage Is Easy. Comedy Is Hard.On his new sitcom, David Spade trots out old gags about couples, while 30 Rock’s leading lady frets that she’s not in one.
  33. Chinese Prison vs. Cell-Phone HellIt’s a new day for 24, but the show seems to suffer from even more credibility issues. And is Jack Bauer feeling guilty or what?
  34. You Watch That Trash?There is little new to stare at in Courteney Cox’s smooth Dirt—save for the show’s troubled paparazzo.
  35. The Year in TVSpike Lee’s Katrina documentary proved that not all tragedies are matters of foreign policy, a sci-fi show with robots taught us about Iraq, […]
  36. Tossed and TurnedThe mini-series Tsunami reveals what was lost, and what remained.
  37. Watch This InsteadIf you prefer television that puts something into your brain instead of cutting something out, there are three worthy documentaries all airing o […]
  38. It’s Not Exactly Brain Surgery3 Lbs. joins Grey’s Anatomy in the sexed-up hospital genre: plenty of sin, skin, and scalpels.
  39. Iron MaidenWith the final installment of Prime Suspect, Helen Mirren says good-bye to her greatest role.
  40. Things That Go Clunk in the NightHere come the TV screamies: quickie horror flicks that put the “low” in “Halloween.”
  41. Pearl Before SwineA documentary about Daniel Pearl and his murderer charts a tragic collision between two surprising men.
  42. HeroesIf they weren’t in New York to begin with, you can bet that this gang—the Japanese salaryman who teleports, the Indian genetics professor with a […]
  43. RunawayWe’ve been here many times before, with a whole family on the run, although this time, at least, it has nothing to do with the witness-protectio […]
  44. CasanovaWhen you’ve got Peter O’Toole in a Masterpiece Theatre mini-series, who cares how many liberties teleplaywright Russell T. Davies took with the […]
  45. Falling FlatMen in Trees is Northern Exposure Lite—and it’s not the only new comedy that’s depressingly familiar.
  46. Eyes on the PrizeThis glorious six-hour account of the civil-rights movement includes interviews, documentary footage, home movies, and period music, all of whic […]
  47. StandoffEven if every hour of Standoff doesn’t live up to the air-traffic-controller-gone-bananas episode that aired on September 12, at least once a we […]
  48. Six DegreesHowever much executive producer J. J. Abrams is actually involved in this tedious series of interlocking melodramas—and rumor has it that the ma […]
  49. Ugly BettyDon’t miss executive producer Salma Hayek’s hilarious guest appearance in the pilot, as a sexy maid in a Spanish-language telenovela.
  50. SmithSmith seems to be shot inside the head of Orson Welles, kaleidoscopically noir enough to frighten even the French.
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