Must-See: The Big C (Series Debut Monday, 8/16)

Expect The Unexpected

The very first thing you need to know about The Big C is that it is not a television series about cancer. Yes, The Big C refers to cancer, but the focus of the show is far more about how one woman reacts to her diagnosis than it is about the illness itself. The Big C is a dark comedy that will take you to surprising places with equal humor and poignancy. 

In Which My Praise For Laura Linney Knows No End

Laura Linney is perfectly cast as Cathy Jamison, a suburban school teacher who discovers that she has cancer. I have admired her work over the years, particularly in Tales of the City (1993), Primal Fear (1996), Absolute Power (1997), The Truman Show (1998), The House of Mirth (2000), You Can Count on Me (2000), The Life of David Gale (2003), Mystic River (2003), Love Actually (2003), Kinsey (2004) and Breach (2007). Although Linney received an Academy Award nomination for The Savages, I still feel as though she deserved an Oscar for You Can Count on Me. And if you did not see the HBO miniseries John Adams, add it to your queue immediately; Linney won an Emmy for her role as Abigail Adams and it was one of her finest performances to date. 

By the way, I highly recommend this this recent New York Times profile of and interview with Linney. 

Why The Big C Deserves a Season Pass

Because you will find some of Cathy Jamison’s reactions to be quite reasonable, and others to be rather shocking. Because the supporting cast is quirky without being stereotypical or grating. Because you will find yourself wondering what changes you would make in your life under the same circumstances. Because Laura Linney is a familiar, comforting face that will accompany you into potentially unfamiliar territory; a phenomenal actress who radiates warmth and strength on screen. Because we now have the opportunity to spend a half hour a week with Linney and her unparalleled dimples. And because short house robes are bound to make Entertainment Weekly’s sidebar column The Shaw Report as an “in” trend after an episode or two.  

Roll Credits

The Big C also stars Oliver Platt (Huff) as Jamison’s husband, Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) as one of her students, John Benjamin Hickey (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) as her brother, Reid Scott (My Boys) as her doctor, Phyllis Somerville (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) as her neighbor and newcomer Gabriel Basso as her son. Idris Elba (The Wire) also makes a guest appearance, and former Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon joins the cast later on in the first season. 

Series creator/writer Darlene Hunt is also an actress and playwright; she recently appeared on Hung and Parks and Recreation. Executive producer/writer/showrunner Jenny Bicks previously wrote and produced Sex and the City and Men in Trees. Executive producer Neal H. Moritz is primarily known for film but he also produced Tru Calling and Prison Break

The pilot episode of The Big C was directed by Academy Award winning screenwriter Bill Condon (Gods & Monsters), and future episodes are lensed by a few of my favorite cable television directors, Craig Zisk (United States of Tara, Nip/Tuck, Nurse Jackie, Weeds) and Alan Poul (Six Feet Under). 

DVR Details

Linney’s talent, the stellar cast and the subject matter, combined with the creative experience above, is exactly why you should tune in when The Big C debuts on Showtime next week (Monday, August 15 at 10:30pm ET) immediately following the season 6 debut of Weeds at 10pm ET.  You can also become a fan of the show on Facebook and follow series updates on Twitter
Of course if you don’t want to wait until Monday, you can watch the entire first episode right now on Showtime!

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Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going & What I’m Watching: The Future of This Site

As many of you have noticed, I have not posted on this site in two months. Because I am a freelance entertainment writer, my work has been appearing elsewhere – primarily TVovermind and AOLtv. Moving forward, I will still be posting here, especially when analyzing a film or a television series that I am not also covering on another site. And of course my archived articles will remain available here, including my very first batch of Lost posts from several years ago. 

Now that Lost has ended its six season run, I have no plans to start another site or focus that much time on one particular series. Although I will be starting Battlestar Galactica from the beginning later this week, I will not be writing about it other than reactionary tweets.

The new slate of Fall 2010 shows looks promising, and I will be posting a list of recommendations and trailers soon. In the meantime, please let me know which current or new shows you’d like me to cover! 

Here is an updated list of shows that I already watch, although I admit to being a season behind on a few:
  1. 30 Rock
  2. Bones
  3. Breaking Bad
  4. Brothers & Sisters
  5. Burn Notice
  6. Chuck
  7. Community
  8. Cougar Town
  9. Desperate Housewives
  10. Dexter
  11. Entourage
  12. Friday Night Lights
  13. Fringe
  14. Glee
  15. The Good Wife
  16. Grey’s Anatomy
  17. House
  18. Hung
  19. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  20. Justified
  21. Mad Men
  22. Medium
  23. Modern Family
  24. Nurse Jackie
  25. The Office
  26. Parenthood
  27. Parks & Recreation
  28. Private Practice
  29. Rescue Me
  30. Survivor
  31. Top Chef
  32. Treme
  33. True Blood
  34. United States of Tara
  35. V
  36. Weeds
I appreciate your patience and promise to keep you posted about where to find me and my perspective about the television landscape. If you’re not doing so already, I would love for you to follow me on Twitter and friend me on Facebook.

- Jo
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Nurse Jackie & United States of Tara: Spoiler-Free Second Season Previews


Nurse Jackie and United States of Tara return for their sophomore seasons on Monday night, March 22. While I did not find that either show needed to improve upon their very impressive debut seasons, I am pleasantly surprised by the slight changes and shifts that both series’ have implemented. 


In the first few episodes of Season 2, there are a few revelations on Nurse Jackie involving Jackie’s relationships with both her pharmacist boy toy Eddie (Paul Schulze) and her BFF, Dr. O’Hara (delicious & devilish scene-stealer Eve Best). 


Edie Falco is delivering an Emmy-worthy performance; her ability to transform and transition Jackie from infuriatingly immoral in one scene to commendably compassionate in the next is unparalleled. I enjoy her scenes with Akalitus (the great Anna Deavere Smith) more than any other character, especially in Season 2 thus far.

I have also grown rather fond of the fabulous Merritt Wever as Jackie’s fumbling, earnest sidekick Zoey, who amuses me to no end with her facial expressions and body language. Wever has a talent for subtle physical comedy, and this role appears to have been tailor-made for her.

Twilight fans simply seeking a weekly Cullen fix will be pleased to discover an entirely different side of Peter Facinelli. Unlike the strong women who surround and overwhelm him at the hospital, Dr. Cooper is a vulnerable and sensitive soul who cares what people think about him. His ideals will be tested early on in Season 2, and his inappropriate quirks come into play during a fantastic guest appearance by Barbara Barrie. 


On more than a few occasions just a few episodes into Season 2 of United States of Tara, my eyebrows were raised and my jaw was ajar. Toni Collette, who won the Emmy last year for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, remains on par with Edie Falco in that category. Her range is extraordinary, and that has never been more clear than right now; Tara delves deep into less familiar and uncomfortable territory this season, and Collette handles it beautifully and with ease.


The dynamic and dysfunction of the Gregson family is equally compelling and entertaining, and their interaction is one of my favorite aspects of the show. Disconcerting changes are in store for Tara, which obviously affects everyone in her life. I, for one, am looking forward to just how far her husband Max (John Corbett) will be pushed to and perhaps over the edge this season by her actions and personalities.

United States of Tara features a particularly strong supporting cast, including two of the most well-written teenagers on television. Siblings Marshall (Keir Gilchrist) and Kate (Brie Larson) face their own set of realistic challenges in Season 2, as does Tara’s self-centered sister Charmaine (Rosemarie DeWitt). 

Even if you have not watched the first seasons of either show, I highly recommend that you tune in tomorrow night and set your DVRs with season passes for both Nurse Jackie and United States of Tara. These are two examples of original programming at their best, with stellar scripts, casts and surprises that will keep you laughing and intrigued from week to week.
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Fringe & V Set Visits: Questions for the Casts?

I am heading to Vancouver to visit the set of V on Monday and Fringe on Wednesday, and will have the opportunity to interview members of each cast. 

If you’d like to follow along, all of my spoiler-free coverage will be on TVovermind (and of course I will be tweeting frequently). Please feel free to leave any questions you might have for specific characters in the Comments below!
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Hi Again: A Very Random Pop Culture Update

I owe you an apology, again. Every intention of updating this site on a much more frequent basis has fallen victim to time, travel and Lost over the last several weeks. But this site is my real baby; my original blog of almost 5 years, and what will continue to be home base once Lost ends forever in May. 

Because I have been negligent for far too long, I thought I would briefly address what has been going on in my pop culture world and provide appropriate links if you’re interested in additional details. 
  • I just returned from a weekend in Buenos Aires and week in Santiago, Chile (visiting family; see video at bottom of post). To escape thunderstorms one afternoon, we went to see An Education. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it, particularly the performance of Carey Mulligan. While I believe that she completely deserves her Best Actress nod, I don’t think that she stands a chance against Meryl and Sandra this year. And to be honest, I do not agree with the film’s inclusion as a Best Picture nominee. But don’t get me started about the fact there are now 10 in that category…

  • While on the red carpet, I had the opportunity to interview Michael Emerson’s wife, actress Carrie Preston. Stay tuned for audio from that conversation, as we discuss her role as Arlene in the third season of True Blood!
  • I am currently hosting a Haiti relief fundraiser on my Lost site, giving away memorabilia to those who donate $10 or more to Partners in Health (in conjunction with Mo Ryan from the Chicago Tribune, who is also auctioning off various TV items for the cause via eBay). 
  • In anticipation of new episodes of the stellar series Southland (beginning March 2 on its new network: TNT), here is a look behind the scenes of the show. I will be receiving a screener shortly and plan to preview it here for you before it airs. 

  • To celebrate the new movie The Crazies, a reinvention of the George Romero horror classic starring Timothy Olyphant (opening on February 26 in theaters), I will be giving away a set of limited-edition The Crazies comic books very soon!
  • One of my favorite new shows of the last several years, Nurse Jackie, returns for a second season on March 22. Here is the trailer. Jump on board; I guarantee you won’t regret it. Twilight fans, you will love Peter Facinelli in this series – check out Dr. Coop’s Video Diary.

  • And here is your first look at the sophomore season of my other favorite new show in recent memory, United States of Tara. Joey Lauren Adams joins the cast, and the series also returns on March 22.
Thank you for your patience, whether you are fairly new to this site or have been visiting for several years. I look forward to hearing from YOU; feel free to leave comments and/or feedback below!

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Secret Diary of a Call Girl, Season 3: Preview & DVD Giveaway!

Fans and new viewers alike, set your DVRs – the Showtime series Secret Diary of a Call Girl returns in just a few short weeks; Season 3 debuts on February 1 at 10pm ET/PT. 

I recommend that you also tune in on Monday, January 25 at 10pm ET/PT because Showtime will be airing an exclusive interview with actress Billie Piper and the recently revealed real Belle du Jour (Dr. Brooke Magnanti)!

Click here to take a look behind the scenes of the new season.

To celebrate the return of this entertaining and provocative show, I am giving away the following:
  • Season 1 DVD
  • Season 2 DVD 
  • Official Secret Diary of a Call Girl book (written by the real Belle du Jour)
  • A “Secret Diary” diary
To enter for a chance to win one of the items above, simply leave a comment with your name and email address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. only, and will run until Tuesday, February 2. Good luck, and thank you in advance for entering!

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