Tuned In: 'Enlightened' a bit hysterical, not in a funny way
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HBO debuts another quirky-but-not-hilarious half-hour series Monday with "Enlightened" (9:30 p.m.), the story of a self-destructive woman, Amy (Laura Dern), who rages at her boss after he tries to transfer her to a different department following their affair. Amy's public meltdown prompts her to go away for a few months, getting treatment for her anger management issues. She returns, blissed-out, and blackmails her way into a new job with the same company using the threat of a lawsuit.
Despite efforts to curb her temper -- that could be the show's title: "Curb Your Temper" -- Amy resorts to raging again by the end of the episode. She's also delusional about the extent to which she can affect her workplace and the world.
Luke Wilson co-stars as Amy's ex-husband and series creator/writer/director Mike White ("Cracking Up," "Pasadena") appears as one of Amy's oddball new co-workers.
Fans of "Pasadena" -- all three of us -- will recognize the tinkling background music as familiar along with that show's dark humor. But like so many HBO "comedies," this one is really more of a drama with comedic elements than it is an out-and-out laugh-fest.
Whether viewers find "Enlightened" all that funny may depend upon whether they have a person similar to Amy in their lives -- and whether they want to spend time with an irrational, hysteria-prone fictional character, too.
As Comedy Central continues to celebrate "The Year of the Fan" for the 15th season of "South Park" (10 p.m. Wednesday), the network airs a one-hour, behind-the-scenes documentary, "Six Days to Air: The Making of South Park" (10 p.m. Sunday). It focuses on "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone as they write, record and produce an episode of the animated series in less than a week.
Filmed in March after the premiere of the pair's "Book of Mormon" on Broadway, "Six Days to Air" shows Mr. Parker and Mr. Stone brainstorming for episode topics in their writers' room with four other writers, including "Saturday Night Live" cast member Bill Hader.
Amusingly, the film also shows executive producer Anne Garefino, who seems to play the mom/adult in the room, discussing spring's disgusting "Human Centipede" episode in a phone call with standards and practices that ends with, "Happy Easter to you, too."
And there's a slight Pittsburgh angle: "South Park" supervising producer Frank Agnone is shown wearing a Primanti's T-shirt. Turns out he's not a Pittsburgh native but has family in the area and visits several times a year; he considers the city a "home away from home."
For fans of "South Park" and anyone interested in the TV production/creative process, it's a worthwhile film by documentarian Arthur Bradford ("How's Your News?").
No shock here: NBC canceled "The Playboy Club" earlier this week after three low-rated episodes. "Rock Center with Brian Williams," a newsmagazine, will fill the 10 p.m. Monday slot beginning Oct. 31.
NBC also canceled Wednesday night comedy "Free Agents," but gave a confidence boost to two other shows, ordering a full first season of "Up All Night" and "Whitney."
This week CBS also ordered a full first season of "2 Broke Girls," which is drawing strong ratings on Monday nights.
"Sesame Street" will introduce a new Muppet character, Lily, in the special "Growing Hope Against Hunger" (7 p.m. Sunday, WQED-TV). Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams Paisley will present several families' personal stories involving hunger in the United States. Muppet Lily's family also has struggles with hunger.
Behind the scenes at "Sesame Street," parent company Sesame Workshop named H. Melvin Ming as its new president and chief executive officer this week. Mr. Ming served as chief operating officer at WQED in the 1990s, departing in 1997.
The fifth season of "Primeval" will debut on BBC America at 9 p.m. Nov. 12. ... Jean Marsh, who plays Rose Buck on "Masterpiece's" "Upstairs Downstairs" has had to pull out of the start of the show's next season due to a slight stroke. The 77-year-old actress issued a statement through the BBC saying, "Unfortunately I won't be returning to Eaton Place quite as quickly as I had hoped. I am looking forward to spending time with Rose again, when I'm match-fit, and I miss the cast and crew tremendously." ... Ty Pennington ("Extreme Makeover: Home Edition") will join Tim Gunn as a host on ABC's "The Revolution," a new daytime health/lifestyle talk show debuting in January. ... Cinemax has renewed its Friday night action-adventure drama "Strike Back" for a second season to air in 2012. ... Ken Burns' "Prohibition" documentary on PBS averaged 3.9 million viewers in its debut Sunday, a good number for a PBS show.
Today's TV Q&A column responds to questions about "Law & Order: SVU," "Criminal Minds" and "Ebert's At the Movies." This week's Tuned In Journal includes posts on "Dance Moms," "Onion News Network," "Parks and Recreation" and "Breaking Bad." Read online-only TV content at post-gazette.com/tv.
This week's podcast includes conversation about "Pan Am," "2 Broke Girls" and "Dexter." Subscribe or listen at post-gazette.com/podcast.
First Published October 7, 2011 12:00 am