TV Reviews'Bag of Bones' dull; 'Appropriate Adult' gripping
By Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- December 9th, 2011
'Tis the season ... for a Stephen King miniseries? A&E
believes so and will debut the four-hour "Bag of Bones" at 9 p.m. Sunday and Monday
Once upon a time this miniseries would have aired on ABC, home to King-based projects for years. But as broadcast networks put their marketing dollars toward weekly series, miniseries like this one have to find new homes on cable.
Directed by Mick Garris, who previously helmed TV productions based on Mr. King's "The Stand" and "The Shining" remake, "Bag of Bones" rarely scares but frequently induces unintentional giggles.
Pierce Brosnan ("Goldeneye") stars as Mike Noonan, a successful novelist who grieves the death of his wife (Annabeth Gish, "The X-Files"). She's hit by a bus during one of his book signings. Noonan retreats to the family's lake house in rural Maine where he spends a lot of time being alone and sad. Then he's alone and terrified as he suffers nightmares and waking ghostly encounters.
You can imagine how an author's interior life might make a gripping read in book form but in a miniseries, it's too much of Mr. Brosnan reacting solo in long, slogging sections of the production.
Eventually Noonan acquires an adversary in town impresario Max Devore (William Schallert), which might have given "Bag of Bones" some life if the character wasn't such a stock villain.
If Sunday's episode is dull, Monday's conclusion is laughably bad as Mr. Brosnan's character suffers multiple indignities:
Attacked by a raccoon.
Vomits while feeling up a tree.
An old woman pushes him into a lake and throws rocks at him.
And then there's the finale that brings to mind the singing bush from "Three Amigos," which is never a good thing in a purported drama. Suffice it to say, this climax is worse than the spider at the end of "It."Superb 'Adult'
"Bag of Bones" may be a bust but Sundance Channel's "Appropriate Adult" (10 p.m. Saturday)
succeeds as a mostly taught psychological thriller. The three-hour film, a British import based on a true story, stars Dominic West (aka McNulty on "The Wire") as serial killer Fred West, who committed gruesome crimes with his wife, Rosemary, between 1967 and 1978.
Set in 1994 following West's arrest, the movie's title refers to a person appointed by the court to sit in during questioning to safeguard the interests of the accused. Emily Watson ("War Horse") plays Janet Leach, a mother of five and a first-time "appropriate adult" who's had training but is still unprepared for the mind games West plays.
In some respects "Appropriate Adult" brings to mind the Hannibal Lecter-Clarice Starling relationship from "Silence of the Lambs," although there's no edge-of-your-seat ticking clock element in this story. But it's still a gripping tale of police investigation and a criminal's mischief-making.
In describing one of his crimes, West calmly says he closed his daughter's eyes after killing her but before dismembering her body.
"You're not going to take a saw to your own daughter when she's sitting there looking at you, are you?" he says with chilling matter-of-factness. This is just a few minutes before he claims he made up the whole scenario and claims his daughter is working for drug lords in Bahrain.
Ms. Watson and Mr. West are well-matched and whenever they're on screen together, "Appropriate Adult" mesmerizes. But the film is overly long and runs out of steam about a half-hour before it ends after West and Leach are separated. It's a common problem with dramatic re-creations of true-life stories that don't allow the writer to concoct a way to keep the dramatic momentum alive throughout. A necessary allegiance to truth gets in the way of taut storytelling.
Check with your cable or satellite company for the Sundance channel position in your area.'Millionaire' rates
WPXI's decision to air "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" with news anchors David Johnson and Peggy Finnegan playing for charity may have frustrated fans of NBC's "Community," which was pre-empted last week and aired on Saturday, but it turned out to be a smart programming move.
On Dec. 2 at 8 p.m., "Millionaire" beat all the competition in the time slot, garnering a 10.4 rating and 16 share of the viewing audience in households, ahead of CBS's "The Big Bang Theory" on KDKA-TV (9.9/15) and ABC's "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" on WTAE (5.0/8). "Millionaire" also had double the rating of all the NBC shows that followed it on WPXI.
Even in demos, "Millionaire" did well, placing second (3.7/8) to "The Big Bang Theory" (4.6/11) in the adults 25-54 demographic.'Dance Moms' returns
Lifetime's "Dance Moms," filmed at Abby Lee Miller's Penn Hills dance studio, will be back for a second season at 9 p.m. Jan. 10.
The network touted the show as its youngest-skewing program with a median age of 37.Channel surfing
Bob Costas hosts "The American Giving Awards" (8 p.m. Saturday, WPXI) with musical acts Leanne Rimes, Rodney Atkins and Richland's own Jackie Evancho. ... Fox's "Bones" spinoff, "The Finder," debuts Jan. 12 and last season's "Bones" episode that set up "The Finder" will re-air at 9 p.m. Thursday. ... Showtime has renewed the Lisa Kudrow-starring summer comedy "Web Therapy" for a second season to air next year. ... ABC Family has ordered a third season of "Pretty Little Liars" to air next summer. ... Can't wait to see this one: Next June Syfy will debut the Saturday night movie "Jersey Shore Shark Attack," starring "Jersey Shore" regular Vinny Guadagnino. The movie also will have a character called "The Complication," not to be confused with "Jersey Shore's" "The Situation."http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11343/1195580-67.stm