Archive for Wednesday, July 13, 2011

‘Damages’ returns, but only to Direct TV

July 13, 2011

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“Damages” (9 p.m., Direct TV’s Audience Network) returns for a fourth season. While Direct TV shared the production costs and broadcast rights of “Friday Night Lights” with NBC, “Damages” will air only on Direct TV, leaving nonsubscribers to wait until it is released on DVD or some streaming service.

Just as season three centered on the Madoff scandal, this year’s “Damages” tackles the thorny subject of private military contractors. Look for John Goodman as the head of a Halliburton-like firm who falls within Patty’s (Glenn Close) crosshairs. Her longtime protege Ellen (Rose Byrne) cultivates a friendship with a traumatized veteran of the private army, and Dylan Baker stars as a creepy agent with ties to the contractor and the Middle East. As always, “Damages” keeps audiences off balance with flashbacks and flash-forwards, asking us to anticipate events that we know about but don’t yet understand. Featuring one of the strongest and deepest casts on television, “Damages” is worth watching, however, wherever and whenever you can.

• John Goodman’s old co-star gets her own reality show, “Roseanne’s Nuts” (8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., Lifetime).

Arguably the best sitcom of its era, “Roseanne” featured so much great talent and launched the careers of so many young performers, including Johnny Galecki and Sara Gilbert of “The Big Bang Theory,” and Sarah Chalke ("Scrubs,” “Mad Love"). And wasn’t there a young guy named George Clooney on that show?

As these talents have thrived, Roseanne Barr never topped or even approached the appeal of “Roseanne.” While that character was clearly based on her own life and standup routine, it was buttressed by other great performers, scripts, production and set decoration. Like the reality stars that she in many ways anticipated, Roseanne Barr could play only herself. As she does tonight, on “Nuts.” Help yourself.

• “Rescue Me” (9 p.m., FX) enters its seventh and final season with Tommy (Denis Leary) anticipating one new bundle of responsibility while putting out the many figurative fires he’s set over the years.

While “Rescue Me” was always supposed to be Leary’s tribute to the blue-collar stiff, so many of its plot points (midlife male sexual escapades, self-indulgence, impulse and addiction management, and therapy) seem more inspired by Leary’s Hollywood milieu than the firehouse. And that’s what has always seemed slightly forced and phony about this series.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Diamonds are forever in the 2003 animated Peanuts special “Lucy Must Be Traded, Charlie Brown” (7 p.m., ABC).

• Seth Meyers hosts the 2011 ESPYs (8 p.m., ESPN).

• “The Curious Case of Curt Flood” (8 p.m., HBO) profiles the baseball star who changed the face of labor relations between players and team owners.

• A poisoned cleanser on “Royal Pains” (8 p.m., USA).

• Trouble behind the wheel on “Necessary Roughness” (9 p.m., USA).

• Backstage drama on “Dance Moms” (9 p.m., Lifetime).

• “The Franchise: A Season With the San Francisco Giants” (9 p.m., Showtime).

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