TV Week May 31-June 6

Salt Lake City Weekly | May 25, 2007
Wife Swap

Pirates, starters, witches and Riches.

By Bill Frost

Pirate Master

Thursday, May 31 (CBS)

Series Debut: It's Survivor with a trendy pirate twist. Or gay porn. Might take about three episodes to figure it out, which is five more than I'm prepared to invest. At least it's not Rock Star: Stone Temple Pilots.

The Starter Wife

Thursday, May 31 (USA)

Miniseries Debut: If you haven't heard about this one, you don't have cable -- or TV, or sensory perception. The USA Network has never promoted an event as heavily as The Starter Wife, a six-hour-that-coulda-been-three miniseries starring Ned & Stacey's (sorry, Will & Grace's) Debra Messing as the just-dumped spouse of a Hollywood power weasel trying to find herself with the help of her friends (one cynical, one sweet, one gay -- bases covered) and zippy one-liners ("Of course I'm cranky! I haven't eaten for 12 years!"). The irony of 38-year-old Messing playing a 40-something in a pseudo-commentary on Hollywood's treatment of older women aside, The Starter Wife is hyper-colorful fun that nicely balances laughs and Touching Moments, even when you know exactly where it's headed (Will she find happiness with a younger/hotter man than her douchebag husband? Duh. Is the guy who played Will unemployable?). This may also be Messing's I'm-Not-Grace breakout role -- but she'll always be Stacey to me.


Saturday, June 2 (BBC America)

Season Premiere: It didn't make much sense, but last year's BBC America run of the addictive British supernatural series Hex at least kept you asking, "What's going to happen next? And what just happened now?" Nutshell: Unpopular schoolgirl gains witch-y powers, her lesbian roommate is killed by a hunky demon, said roommate remains as a wisecracking ghost, together they must battle the minions of Satan -- and possibly a cease-and-desist order from Buffy the Vampire Slayer's lawyers. In the second and final season, Unpopular Girl is dead and a centuries-old demon-hunting witch has taken her place; wisecracking and rampant sex (hey, it's cable -- and British) continue unabated.


Sunday, June 3 (HBO)

Season Finale: In a network first, HBO won't make you wait two years for the next season of a series: Entourage's fourth will begin on June 17 -- never mind the long-ass break in this third season and just go with it. That said, not much of a cliffhanger here: Does anyone really think Medellin is ever going to get made? And am I the only one concerned about how easy it was for Drama to storm into The Hollywood Reporter's offices a few weeks ago and confront a TV critic? No? Just me, then ... Drama rules!

The Riches

Monday, June 4 (FX)

Season Finale: FX has granted second seasons to Dirt (eh) and The Riches (woo-hoo!), but only the latter earned it—and with far less hype. The Riches, starring Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver as gypsy grifters posing as wealthy suburbanites living on the edge of being found out, has evolved quietly from quirky setup to societal-class study without getting (too) preachy about it. Izzard's Wayne/Doug, originally the optimistic Man With a Plan, has become a broken "lawyer," while Driver's Dahlia/Cherien, at first a druggy wreck, is looking more and more like the only "Rich" who'll be able to hold the family and the scam together. As with the first season of the like-minded Big Love, The Riches' first closes with the threat of exposure; also similarly, that's the least of their problems.

The Shield

Tuesday, June 5 (FX)

Season Finale: Don't we end every season of The Shield saying "the s—t's all coming down, man!"? Well ... the s—t's all coming down, man!

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