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REVIEW: ‘The Big C’

The Big C
Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Stars: Laura Linney, John Benjamin Hickey, Oliver Platt, Gabriel Basso, Gabourey Sidibe and Phyllis Somerville

The Big Idea: Uptight Minneapolis wife/mom/schoolteacher Cathy (Linney) finds out she has the titular “Big C” — stage four melanoma — and, instead of immediately seeking treatment, she decides to keep the diagnosis to herself and spend what time she has left getting her life in order, shaping her teen son into a good human being and having a little fun.

To Watch or Not to Watch: Go ahead and give it a season pass on your DVR, because The Big C not only starts off strong, but only gets better with each episode that follows.

The main reason: Linney is perfectly cast in the role. Truly, after the first few moments of the premiere, it’s impossible to imagine anyone else playing the role of Cathy, who could come off as prickly, over-the-top wacky or just plain grating and less sympathetic in the hands of a less talented, less likable actress. After all, she’s kicked her husband Paul (Platt) out of the house for reasons neither he nor their teenage son Adam (Basso, who joins the junior set on Modern Family and The Middle in making up one of the least annoying crops of TV kids ever) understand, and she’s keeping the news of her diagnosis from them.

But the fun (and the implicit nudge that we should all rethink our priorities, before some major life event forces us to) comes from what Cathy does do after getting the bad news, which includes hiring a contractor to install a swimming pool in her yard, cost be damned; telling off, and then befriending, the crabby neighbor (Somerville) across the street; reconnecting with her brother Sean (who chooses to be homeless); and trying to help one of her students, the irreverent Andrea (Sidibe, who makes up for her gig as one of the all-time worst Saturday Night Live hosts by proving she can pull off the funny), lose weight.

The show could have been subtitled How Cathy Got Her Groove Back. Sean (the scene-stealing Hickey) even tells her at one point, “You’re starting to get your weird back, sis,” and the weirder, and less uptight, Cathy gets, the more fun the show becomes. And yes, as unlikely as it might seem that a show about a terminal illness could be fun, or funny, The Big C is, and that’s the best reason to tune in.

TV Screener Tidbit: The star-packed first season of The Big C (and I’m guessing a second-season renewal will come pretty quickly for the show) will include guest appearances by The Wire/The Office‘s Idris Elba (as a love interest for Cathy); Brian Cox as Cathy’s dad; Cynthia Nixon as a friend of Cathy’s; Reid Scott (My Boys) as Cathy’s hottie dermatologist (who has some very flirtatious moments with her in the first few episodes); and Liam Neeson as a holistic healer Cathy seeks out.

The Big C premieres Monday, August 16, at 10PM ET on Showtime

‘Entourage’ Season 7: Video and 5 Things You Need to Know

Last season of Entourage? Meh. Not fun, and pretty forgettable.

But the new season, which premieres on HBO on June 27, looks to be a return to the Entourage of old, with Vince (Adrian Grenier, sporting a very becoming new, shorter ‘do) in the cast of a big-budget apocalyptic drama movie, Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) starting his own car service business, Ari (Jeremy Piven) heading what has become the most powerful agency in Hollywood, Eric (Kevin Connolly) planning his wedding to Sloane (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon), as always, looking to recapture the success he experienced with his show-within-the-show hit Viking Quest.

Check out the trailer below for a brief preview of the new season.

And here are five more scooplets on what to expect in season seven:

1 – Gary Cole returns as Ari’s fellow agent Andrew, Scott Caan joins the cast as Eric’s co-worker Scott, Beverly D’Angelo returns as Ari’s partner Babs and Debi Mazar is back as Vince’s publicist Shauna.

2 – Season seven guest stars include Nick Cassavetes, Stan Lee, Bob Saget, Jerry Jones, Jessica Simpson, Aaron Sorkin, John Stamos, Mike Tyson and Maria Menounos.

3 – In the season premiere, Ari and Eric wig out because the director of Vince’s new action flick wants him to do his own driving stunts, which leads to an accident and a new ‘tude for Vince.

4 – Vince gets a new girlfriend, played by porn star Sasha Grey.

5 – Season seven will include 10 new episodes, and following an additional six episodes that are scheduled to air in 2011, the series will conclude and executive producer Mark Wahlberg — whose life inspired the series — says a big-screen Entourage movie will follow.

Are you excited for the new season? Whose storyline are you most anxious to see unfold? Do you think E and Sloane will make it down the aisle? And are you still loving Ari Gold, or have his antics grown tiresome?

‘Modern Family’ Season Finale: The ‘Roseanne’ Rip-off

I love Modern Family as much as the next TV type. Well, maybe not quite as much … I actually think The Middle is a better show, but, memo to self, that’s a whole ‘nother missive for a different, post-24 and Lost series finales day.

Still, I do love Modern Family, and I enjoyed last night’s season finale (most of it anyway — the Mitchell/bird thing, not so much). But that final scene, which critic after critic has praised, the one where the family, decked out all in white, gets into a mud fight, relieving a tension-filled situation and turning it into sweet, silly bonding moment? I liked it, too. I loved it, in fact, when I saw it the first time … on Roseanne, season four finale, episode called “Aliens.”

Roseanne and her family were having a particularly tough time: Dan (the great John Goodman) was forced to give up on his dream when he had to sell his motorcycle shop; Roseanne was about to lose her job, as the Rodbell’s restaurant was closing down; and Becky (original Becky, Lecy Goranson) was ticked at her ‘rents because they hadn’t been able to save any money for her college education.

And that sets up this, the final scene, when the only thing the Conners have to celebrate is the fact that dorky son D.J. (Michael Fishman)Β  has won his school spelling bee. The fam is gathered around the table, toasting D.J. with bowls of ice cream, when Roseanne decides to lighten the mood by saluting her son, in true D.J. style: A food fight.

If you don’t want to watch the whole clip below, skip to around the 5:30 mark, to watch a scene that’s every bit as sweet and silly and smart and heartfelt as last night’s Modern Family season finale scene. Except, it came first.

Whatchu Talkin’ ‘Bout, Willis? When The Hoff & Classic TV Stars Met ‘Glee’

Here’s a preview of this Sunday’s annual TV Land Awards (9PM ET, TV Land), where the cast of Glee gets the Future Classic Award. As a nod to the show and the cast’s cover of Journey‘s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” the network has gathered a group of classic tube stars – lead by David Hasselhoff and Taxi star Marilu Henner – do put their own Glee-ful spin on the tune.

Among the other singers: Todd “Willis” Bridges, Joyce “Janet” Dewitt, Jamie “Klinger” Farr, Marla “Florence” Gibbs, Howard “Johnny Fever” Hesseman, Shirley “Shirley Partridge” Jones, Richard “Al” Karn, Richard “Bull” Moll, Marion “Mrs. C” Ross, Jimmie “J.J.” Walker, Marcia “Carol” and “Edna Krabappel” Wallace and Fred “Jerry Hubbard” Willard.

TV Land Awards Glee Club performs “Don’t Stop Believin'” featuring David Hasselhoff and Marilu Henner
2010 TV Land Awards 4/25 @ 9P/8
About the Awards The Honorees

Larry King’s Divorces: The Collectible Plates Video

Jimmy Kimmel, you’ve done it again. The late-night host has become the most reliable source of celeb-scandal spoofing, and he adds another clever jab to his collection with this LOL commentary on the Larry King divorce saga.

Not sure which is funnier: A set of collectible plates with photos of Larry and his ladies, or Billy Dee Williams – wearing an ascot! – pitching them.

Almost makes you wish they were a real offering.

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