'Frasier' gets creepy
Published: November 9, 2011
Chuck (7pm Fri, NBC)
Despite its awesomeness, the comic spy series Chuck has been under threat of cancellation ever since it premiered in 2007, and NBC has finally decided to pull the plug after the current season. But until then, we can enjoy the adventures of Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi), the lowly retail clerk who became a superspy when an “Intersect” downloaded amazing skills into his brain. In season five, Chuck has lost the Intersect but started his own spy agency with wife Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski), National Security Agency honcho Casey (Adam Baldwin), and goofy friend Morgan (Joshua Gomez). In a twist, Morgan gets the Intersect, and his newfound powers turn him into an out-of-control egomaniac. In this week’s episode, Chuck tries everything he can to shame Morgan into being his old self, even resorting to pantsing him. As always, that kind of silly stuff melds seamlessly with poignancy and exciting action. Is there any way we can shame NBC executives into giving Chuck yet one more reprieve? Pantsing them, perhaps?
American Masters (9pm Fri, PBS)
Seven score and eight years ago, Abraham Lincoln was immersed in fighting the Civil War and freeing the slaves. If you had told him that one day an African American artist/intellectual would render his struggles in dance, he would probably think you were a Confederate spy messing with his mind.
In the documentary Bill T. Jones: A Good Man, we see acclaimed choreographer Jones grapple with the Great Emancipator’s legacy while creating a modern-dance piece for the bicentennial of his birth. But how “great” was Lincoln, really, especially from the perspective of a contemporary black man? Jones delves into the writings, the debates, and the biography to see if his lifelong admiration for Old Abe is justified. A Good Man affords us an up-close look at a genius’ artistic process, with all its doubts and discoveries. It’s not always pretty, but it’s never boring, and I know you will thank me for recommending this documentary. Unless you’re a Confederate spy messing with my mind.
Boss (9pm Fri, Starz)
I never thought I’d be scared of Kelsey Grammer. The genial sitcom comedian is cast against type in this well-written new series about hardball politics set in Chicago. Grammer plays the city’s mayor, Tom Kane, who works the levers of power with a well-practiced smile. Behind the smile is a ruthless player who gets what he wants, even if he has to resort to physical violence. Grammer deftly switches from public to private mode, offering a creepy portrait of a manipulative modern politician. As if that weren’t enough of an acting challenge, his character also suffers from a degenerative disease that affects the brain and muscles. Yes, Grammer makes that a believable part of his portrayal, too. Who knew the Frasier star had this kind of role in him?