You’ll avoid doctors after watching
Ridley and the late Tony Scott have produced
an effectively creepy update of “Coma,” originally
a 1977 novel and 1978 film (Monday and Tuesday,
8 p.m., A&E). Lauren Ambrose is plucky and
smart as Susan Wheeler, a medical student at
Peach Tree Memorial Hospital. Susan notices
that an unusual number of Peach Tree’s patients
are slipping into comas, after which they’re
sent to a mysterious facility called Jefferson.
The production is blessed with aging character
actors with sinister roles: Ellen Burstyn is
Jefferson’s decrepit guardian; Geena Davis is
a seductive psychiatrist who’s a bit too obsessed
with money and power; Richard Dreyfuss and James
Woods show up as other suspicious authority
figures; and adding to your sense of dread are
doctors hanging themselves, employees disappearing
and strange men hissing “You’ll end up in Jefferson
Thanks, “Coma,” now I’m scared of hospitals.
Not to mention aging character actors.
Friday, 9 p.m. (Cinemax)
Cinemax’s series can lull you into thinking
it’s a serious look at Western counterterrorism
efforts with its fine acting, vivid locations
and nonstop intensity. The main characters,
a Brit (Philip Winchester) and a Yank (Sullivan
Stapleton), are nuanced, and individual scenes
can feel like cinema verite.
But, come on — this is Cinemax. Just when you
start to think “this is what it’s really like
to hunt down terrorists on their own turf,”
“Strike Back” goes pulpy on you. In this week’s
episode, the search for a fanatic with a nuclear
trigger occasionally pauses for soft-core sex.
We get multiple fight scenes, all of them an
excuse for square-jawed Anglos to strike heroic
Hey, I’m not complaining. “Strike Back” has
fun with the material, offering all the nudity,
violence and profanity we feel like we deserve
when we plunk down for premium cable.
“I do not want a firefight!” screams the commander
after her men locate their fanatic.
Sunday, 8 p.m. (TV Guide Network)
I’m surprised to see this reality series back
for a second season, detailing day-to-day life
in Katie Cazorla’s Hollywood nail salon. Katie
operates at such a heightened level that I imagined
she would have been led away by emergency medical
technicians — or police — after season one.
Katie is a bleached-blond social climber convinced
that the Painted Nail will be her ticket to
fame and fortune. You wouldn’t expect too many
fireworks in a nail salon, but things can get
pretty interesting when the boss is mentally
unbalanced. Katie laughs hysterically one minute
and cries the next. Then she starts singing
and talking in funny voices. Then she cusses
out an employee who has fed soap to a customer.
(Yes, she also tends to hire mentally unbalanced
“This year is just coo-coo crazy!” Katie shouts
into the camera.
Isn’t every year coo-coo crazy at the Painted
‘Married to Jonas’
Sunday, 9 p.m. (E!)
We’re used to reality series featuring loud,
obnoxious narcissists, particularly on The Kardashian
Channel (a.k.a. E!). But what if E! created
a reality series featuring a likable person?
Someone you looked forward to seeing because
she’s so pleasant, rather than so outrageous?
Folks, meet Danielle, the sweetheart married
to bubblegum pop star Kevin Jonas. Dani (I hope
she doesn’t mind if I call her Dani) is well
spoken, kindhearted and self-deprecating. She
admits to insecurity in the red-carpet world
but does what she must to make Kevin happy.
Call me jealous, but I really don’t think he
deserves her. Dani quietly stands up for herself
whenever Kevin behaves selfishly or impolitely
— which is way too often.
Depending on how the season plays out, I might
propose a new E! reality show to Dani, starring
her and me: “Married to Robbins.” Yeah, I think
that has a nice ring to it. CV