The ex factor Dean Robbins on Friday 04/18/2008 The furor dies down in the final episode of John Adams (Sunday, 8 p.m., HBO). The British have been defeated, the United States has been created, and Adams' epic struggles as ambassador and president are behind him. He is an old man puttering about his farm with stringy white hair, bad teeth and an ever-present scowl. Very little happens over the course of the hour, and yet this is perhaps the richest of the seven episodes. >MoreOld Frankenstein Dean Robbins on Friday 04/11/2008 One of cable's deadliest traditions is the interview with a faded old star, conducted by a starchy James Lipton type. The only drama in such shows is waiting to see if either interviewee or host lapses into a coma. >MoreShake it up baby Dean Robbins on Friday 04/04/2008 In Step It Up & Dance (Thursday, 10 p.m., Bravo), 12 dancers face weekly challenges and eliminations, hoping to shimmy their way to a $100,000 prize. The host is Elizabeth Berkley, who became an international laughingstock for her role in Showgirls. But Berkley proves an appealing presence here, clearly relishing the chance to harshly judge others rather than be harshly judged herself >MoreDevil's food Dean Robbins on Friday 03/28/2008 Hell's Kitchen (Tuesday, 8 p.m., Fox) has always gone over the top, but the cooking show's new season finds a way over the top of the top. In the intro, mean English chef Gordon Ramsay is styled as "The Dark Lord" and the contestants as "warriors" who must battle him in the bowels of hell. Demonic music blares, and flames erupt on the TV screen. You'd never know that the series is really about seasoning veal correctly. >MoreTake the money and run Dean Robbins on Friday 03/21/2008 The Riches'
new season (Tuesday, 9 p.m., FX) is pure pleasure. Our heroes - if you want to
call them that - are a family of "Travelers." They're con artists who move from
place to place, fleecing the locals for as long as they can. Inevitably the
scams go sour, but that's when this crew are at their best. They improvise,
work the angles and squirm free. They're so good that we can't help but root
for them and against the innocent victims. >MoreFoundering father Dean Robbins on Friday 03/14/2008 I'm a major John Adams fan - one of those who think the brilliant revolutionary leader got cheated out of a spot on Mount Rushmore. So I'm the perfect audience for HBO's John Adams (Sunday, 7 p.m.), a seven-part dramatization executive-produced by Tom Hanks and based on David McCullough's biography. >MoreSex,sleaze, scandal Dean Robbins on Friday 03/07/2008 Dirt (Sunday, 9 p.m., FX) digs into the filth that covers us all. It's about our gossipy celebrity culture: the stars who misbehave, the press that glorifies and debases them, and the rest of us, who eat it all up. Lucy Spiller (Courteney Cox) is the hardball editor of Dirt Now, which gets its scoops by hook or by crook. She wears high-heel boots and a perpetual sneer, looking down her nose at the naughty celebrities who pay her bills. >MoreTV's sickest show Dean Robbins on Friday 02/29/2008 At first glance, Unhitched (Sunday, 8:30 p.m., Fox) seems like a standard sitcom. A guy splits up with his wife and awkwardly wades into the dating pool. He and his single friends have all sorts of wacky adventures. At second glance, Unhitched seems like the most depraved series ever aired in prime time. It's created by the Farrelly Brothers, specialists in gross-out films like There's Something About Mary and Dumb and Dumber. While outwardly following sitcom conventions, they throw in enough sick stuff to put Fox's Standards and Practices Department on red alert. >MoreActing like a fool Dean Robbins on Friday 02/22/2008 Millions of Americans were sorry they missed seeing Sean (Diddy) Combs star in the recent Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun. It would have been fun to watch the hip-hop mogul make a fool of himself in a classic play, but New York City is just so far away. Luckily, Diddy has executive-produced a TV version of his vanity project (Monday, 7 p.m., ABC), so now all of us have a chance to laugh ourselves silly. >MoreThe need for speed Dean Robbins on Friday 02/15/2008 I always bristle when TV tries to uplift me. If I want to be inspired, I'm not going to turn to a cynical medium that would do business with Satan himself if he had enough money to buy a prime-time ad. But Racing for Time (Saturday, 8 p.m., Lifetime) slipped past my defenses. >More