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He'll never love us back.

By Gina Carbone
opus619@gmail.com

It’s the first day of spring and neither “Mad Men” nor “True Blood” is actually in season, so to speak.

There was a time when that would’ve stopped you from catching up. Not anymore.

In this lovely age of DVD and On Demand you can rent almost any show at any time, whether it has been off the air for years or not returning for several months. And sometimes at your local library FOR FREE!

Imagine that.

So you have no excuse but to catch up on these 15 shows, which are my current faves.

I’m only including series that are still running — so no “Northern Exposure,” “Six Feet Under” and “Father Ted,” which are my three favorite shows of all time.

Warning: I do love reality TV, including the heavy cheese, as #3 here will attest.

***

What Up With That?

15.”Saturday Night Live”

It’s not always good. It’s never consistent. This is far from the best season. And yet there are plenty of reasons to stay up for SNL every week, even now. There’s Jason Sudeikis in every skit, but especially dancing in his red track suit on Kenan Thompson’s “What Up With That?” BET show. If you watched Taylor Swift’s monologue, Jon Hamm’s “Sergio!” skit or any of Andy Samberg’s Digital Shorts, you were prepared for the Sunday Internet watercooler chatter. If you missed them, you missed out. And I defy you to find a more perfect thing to watch at 1 a.m. than this potato chip skit with Blake Lively.

14. “The Tudors”

This show ticks me off almost as much as it excites me. I’m still frustrated about the casting of beautiful Joss Stone as the “unattractive” Anne of Cleves. But there are just too many things that I love about it. (Starting with Henry Cavill.) I have always been a Tudor-phile and this is a rich, colorful, sexy, vibrant world to dive into. It’s a history lesson CW-style, but with Showtime sex and violence. We’re getting to the end years for Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and the fourth and final season starts April 11. I can’t wait to see this world come alive again. Long live the king.

13. “Project Runway”

My friend Trinh still finds it hard to believe I like “Project Runway,” since my fashion sense consists of wearing the same Walmart clothes I’ve had for 5-10 years — and Payless shoes. But I love the challenges on “Runway” — take a potato sack and make an evening gown. Go to the supermarket and use corn husks to make a cocktail dress. Use newspapers to make pants. It’s not just clothes, it’s art. I’m addicted to seeing creativity in action and that’s the show. I can’t even sew a button onto a jacket correctly (as my jackets know too well) but I find myself imagining how I would approach the challenges. It gets me thinking about color and fabrics and art supplies differently. It sounds girlie and I’m not usually girlie (then again, I love “The Bachelor” and “Project Runway”) but it’s fun.

She'll cut a bitch. Don't you forget it.

12. “Damages”

Season one was genius. Glenn Close scares the crap out of me and Tate Donovan plays wounded puppy so well. And Ted Danson! His best role in years. It’s not easy to make a corrupt CEO lovable, but he found the right balance of egomania and infectious optimism. Season two was disappointing, but it did manage to find a key role for Timothy Olyphant and for that I will be forever grateful. So far season three is amazing. I was worried it would be too gimmicky with its ripped-from-the-headlines Madoff plot, but it’s working. Very, very well. Props to Campbell Scott and especially Martin Short for playing so far against type. Keep it coming.

11. “Big Love”

I’m worried about “Big Love.” This was one of my favorite shows, but season four was all over the place. Too many plot threads, too many characters. And a Monty Python moment with a severed arm. I still have high hopes for this series and I have invested too much time and energy to give up on it, but GET IT TOGETHER. Please.

10. “Parks and Recreation”

Leslie and Ron make me smile.

Somewhere along the way, this show got as good as “The Office.” Then, for me, it got better. Mostly because I am not a fan of Jim and Pam and they dominate everything. So done with their smugness. “Parks,” on the other hand, is consistently warm, funny and uncluttered with self-congratulatory shmaltz. Special props to Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson. You will always be my Woman of the Year, man.

9. “House”

I get frustrated with everyone walking around psychoanalyzing everyone else’s reactions, but I’m a loyal Hilson (House + Wilson) fan and I love watching their bromantic banter. Now that we’re past the extended torture of House hiring his new team, and the old team is back in action, I am happy with “House” again. And the medical mysteries are still good after all this time. My friend Lisa has sarcoidosis and we like to see it make cameo appearances — alongside lupus — during the differential diagnosis. I know Wilson’s first wife is coming back into the picture and I am looking forward to House getting jealous, but please don’t break up my favorite couple for long.

8. “30 Rock”

I keep waiting for this show to run out of steam and stop being so sharply funny and on point. Guess I should grab a snack for that wait. Alec Baldwin is still the funniest person on television but the entire cast is right there with him. I laugh out loud — guffaw, really — at least twice an episode and I’ll never turn down a good belly laugh.

7. “Dexter”

Talk about season finales. Every Other Show, please take note: The way “Dexter” ended season four? That’s how it’s done. I can’t wait to see what happens next and that’s the sign of a good show. I get dizzy watching Michael C. Hall (forever part of my “Six Feet Under”

Rita! Dex! Sobs!

family) run all over the place lying to everyone, but the show always manages to figure out how to balance everything without drowning the important stuff in superfluous plot threads. There was always one overarching storyline tying everything together. That’s smart. Keep doing that and tell “Big Love” about it.

6. “Survivor”

I just get caught up in the drama. Every time. I want to scream at the castaways. Tear my hair out. Vote them out myself. And that’s just for Russell Hantz. Whenever you think you can see exactly where things are going, they take another turn. “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains” is one of my favorite seasons of all time. And it’s the 20th one they’ve done. That’s a good sign for the future … or a good place to stop. But look at the characters they’ve given us, just in this season alone: Evil Russell, Boston Rob, Coach, Colby, JT, Rupert. All brand names, thanks to the show. And that’s without even mentioning Captain Dimples himself, Jeff Probst. The single best host on TV. I mean it!

The Man!

5. “Lost”

I’m not one of those Losties who memorizes every little detail and keeps flow charts to catalogue the connections. I’m here for the human element. And the No. 1 human element on this island was, is, and shall always be Terry O’Quinn as John Locke (with or without Smokey). I have never — and I mean never — seen stronger acting from anyone on television than this man as this character in the six seasons of this show. O’Quinn has created an icon and he will be missed when this ends. Michael Emerson, you get the silver medal and on any other show you would be gold. That’s saying something, especially since “Lost” is known mostly for its trippy sci-fi plot, not the strength of its character acting. Humble actors doing crazy things without getting in our faces about it. Love it.

4. “In Treatment”

I don’t blame Gabriel Byrne for getting tired of sitting in that chair all day. That’s tough acting — just sitting there. (I mean it!) But

Mia Wasikowska was amazing as Sophie the gymnast on "In Treatment." Not so amazing in "Alice in Wonderland."

there is no other show on TV that gets under my skin as much as “In Treatment.” After listening to problems from a divorcing couple, a cancer-stricken college student, a lonely lawyer, an embattled CEO and a troubled teenage gymnast, among others, I turn off the TV and just soak everything in. What do I think is the root of their issues? What would I do? What would I suggest? I’m so glad there will be a third season. This is the most thoughtful and thought-provoking show on television. It hits a nerve and that’s an important part of life.

3. “The Bachelor”/”The Bachelorette”

If this is not your first time glancing at this blog (don’t worry, I’m not really expecting you to hang on every word) you know I am obsessed with the land of Chris Harrison and the most dramatic rose ceremony ever. If you can’t get past the cheese of this beautiful manufactured drama, take a moment and say your goodbyes. I accept this rose. Now and always. Especially for “The Bachelorette.” One woman. 25 guys. Nuff said.

2. “True Blood”

Yes, it’s campy. Yes, it’s soft-core porn. Yes, I’m incredibly grateful for that. Alexander Skarsgard. Ryan Kwanten. Stephen Moyer. Sam Trammell. Nelsan Ellis. Jim Parrack. And a few women. (Kidding. Love ya, Anna Paquin, Carrie Preston, Deborah Ann Woll and

Eric with long hair or short hair? Discuss.

Rutina Wesley.) This is how you tell a vampire story, y’all. Fresh, original, exciting, sexy as HELL YEAH, with the best opening sequence on TV right now. Season one was good. Season two was outstanding, except for the maenad junk. (Eric made up for it. More. Please. Now.) Season three is looking pretty jam-packed and I just hope Alan Ball remembers to stay true to the characters we’ve come to lust over care about. That’d be Eric as No. 1.

1. “Mad Men”

Season three started kind of slow and I was worried the most amazing show on television would slip down my rankings. But it picked up steam and ended with a perfect, caffeinated, plot-heavy episode of “Survivor: Sterling Cooper.” This is a perfect show. So much character development I feel like these people just have to be real. There’s no way Peggy Olson is not an actual person. I expect to find Pete Campbell still wandering around somewhere on the Upper East Side. And the Drapers … well, Don Draper never existed as we know him and Betty Draper is about to become someone else. I cannot wait to see what they do next. Literally. I’m angry that we have to wait for the summer. Jon Hamm has created a screen icon. There is no one else who could bring

Joan c'est magnifique on "Mad Men."

Don Draper to life and somehow make you not hate him. He’s so freaking suave. Women want him. Men want to be him. And I just love to watch the show around him. The best writing. The best ensemble. The absolute hands-down best production design on television. My eyes worship this show.

Maybe I'm sick, but I'd pick J.J. over Bill. Yeah, I'm sick.

By Gina Carbone
gina_carbone@comcast.net

Hard to believe we’re already so close to the “Big Love” season four finale.

HBO issued a press release on the big day and I’m nervous that the synopsis does not include anything specific about my compound peeps — Lois, Frank, Alby, Adaleen, Joey, Wanda, J.J., etc.

Before posting details on the finale, here’s a reminder of what we’ll see tonight and next Sunday:

**Update: I just saw “Blood Atonement.” Six words: “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Hollis Green just became the Black Knight. I’ll bite your legs off! Wow this show just went to a weird place. Did it jump the shark? Perhaps. It’s a real possibility.**

Episode #41:  “Blood Atonement”

Debut:  SUNDAY, FEB. 21 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)

Other HBO playdates:  Feb.  21 (11:00 p.m.), 23 (11:00 p.m.), 24 (10:00 p.m.) and 26 (8:00 p.m., 3:55 a.m.), and March 10 (8:00 p.m.)

HBO2 playdates:  Feb. 22 (10:00 p.m.), 23 (7:00 p.m.), 27 (2:30 p.m., 11:00 p.m.) and 28 (8:00 p.m.)

With a revenge-minded Joey (Shawn Doyle) in tow, Bill makes an emergency trip to Mexico after Lois and Frank’s latest smuggling escapade backfires.  Nicki is jolted by a doctor’s news, but even more flummoxed by Adaleen’s (Mary Kay Place) shocking revelation.  Margene offers up a novel remedy to keep Ana from leaving the country with her fiancé.  After a scare at the casino, Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and Tommy look for culprits – and find some disturbing answers.

Written by Julia Cho; directed by David Petrarca.

***

Episode #42:  “Next Ticket Out”

Debut:  SUNDAY, FEB. 28 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)

Other HBO playdates:  Feb. 28 (11:00 p.m.) and March 2 (11:00 p.m.), 3 (10:00 p.m.), 5 (8:00 p.m., 4:15 a.m.) and 10 (9:00 p.m.)

HBO2 playdates:  March 1 (10:00 p.m.), 2 (7:00 p.m.), 6 (2:30 p.m., 11:00 p.m.) and 7 (8:00 p.m.)

Sarah (Amanda Seyfried) shakes up the family with an announcement, while Nicki makes an all-out attempt to be the woman Bill wants her to be.  Margene is put on the defensive when Bill questions her real reasons for getting married.  An ill-timed remark at a ladies-only event puts Barb in an unwanted spotlight.  Marilyn looks to bring down Bill as his campaign winds down.  Barb jolts Nicki with news about Joey that Bill was supposed to deliver.  A suspicious Bill looks for clues about J.J. (Zeljko Ivanek) in Kansas, while Adaleen finds them closer to home.

Written by Patricia Breen; directed by David Knoller.

*****

And here’s the March season finale info:

Episode #43:  “End of Days” (season finale)

Debut:  SUNDAY, MARCH 7 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT)

Other HBO playdates:  March 7 (11:00 p.m.), 9 (11:00 p.m.), 10 (10:00 p.m.) and 12 (8:00 p.m., 4:00 a.m.)

HBO2 playdates:  March 8 (10:00 p.m.), 9 (7:00 p.m.), 13 (1:30 p.m., 11:00 p.m.) and 14 (8:00 p.m.)

With the State Senate election only days away, Bill (Bill Paxton) puts the squeeze on Paley (Perry King) in an attempt to protect his candidacy.  But Marilyn (Sissy Spacek) has an ace up her sleeve that threatens to wreck Bill’s chances, or so it seems.  At the casino, Jerry (Robert Beltran) and Tom’s (Adam Beach) tribal leadership is jeopardized by the illegal actions of family members.  Caught in a tangled family web, Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin) weighs her allegiance to Bill with her desire to keep Ana (Branka Katic) and Goran (Steve Bacic) in her life.  Desperate to get pregnant, Nicki (Chloë Sevigny) gets news from Dr. Roquet Walker (Eric Ladin) – J.J.’s son – that seems too good to be true.  A late-breaking polygamist scandal in Kansas becomes national news, forcing Bill and his three wives to rethink their bold post-election plans.

Written by Eileen Myers; directed by David Petrarca.

RELATED STORIES

Noooo! ‘Big Love’ shockers: Dale kills himself, Ana is pregnant, Nicki gets to be the hero

Dump Margene, not Ben! HBO releases info on ‘Big Love’ February episodes

I'll miss Dale and Alby -- the House and Wilson of "Big Love" ... except with real passion instead of just bromantic tension.

By Gina Carbone
gina_carbone@comcast.net

Actually, an ’80s side ponytail with raccoon eye makeup is a good look for Nicki … just saying.

For a show with “Love” in the title and a V-Day premiere date, there wasn’t much love in the “Big Love” season four episode “Under One Roof.”

There was, however, enough going on. It just happened to be pretty sad.

Especially since the most loving couple on the show was ripped apart — and creepy, loveless couplings grew stronger.

(Although there were some good online-liners, like perpetually not-pregnant Nicki snapping that she should just scrounge around a restaurant for a baby.)

***

Frank (Bruce Dern) and Lois (Grace Zabriskie) turned their family “vacation” to Mexico with Ben (Douglas Smith) and poor Jodean (Mireille Enos) into a Keystone Kops episode as they got dragged away by unfriendly old faces.

Way to try to make it right with Ben after screwing up Bill’s childhood!

Anyway, don’t expect to see Ben home anytime soon.

(I’m so tired of this “dad threw me out plot.” I saw that episode. Bill did not throw Ben out. Ben was already packing to leave. He told Bill he thought it would be best for him to go away for a while. Bill just agreed. Big, big, big difference between that and being dumped by the side of the road.)

On the creepy compound side of things, terrified Cara Lynn (Cassi Thomson) was about to be given away to a repulsive old man who told her they were both “lucky” that she would be his seventh wife.

This disgusting scene was salvaged by the heroic efforts of Nicki (Chloe Sevigny, proving why she won the Golden Globe) — in full tacky 1980s regalia in protest of her mother’s sealing to JJ (Zeljko Ivanek) — who stormed into their sleazy hotel room and dragged Cara Lynn away, screaming to the creepy man and JJ (Zeljko Ivanek) that if they ever touched Cara Lynn again she would kill them.

It was good to see Nicki get to play the hero. Usually she’s the whiny pill of the story.

***

Not so good to see JJ and Adaleen (Mary Kay Place) consummate their wedding. Talk about awkward. Not the sexiest honeymoon night. And the singing just made it worse.

***

Ana (Branka Katic) accidentally revealed her pregnancy while Bill (Bill Paxton) and Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn) were dining at the restaurant where she works.

Ana initially told the whole Henrickson crew to shove it, then reconsidered just to Bill. She’d let him be involved in the child’s life, but she didn’t want the full package. Just a la carte.

Bill said OK, which ticked Barb off. She talked to Ana directly and discovered Ana is — surprise! — engaged to someone else and — surprise! — the baby Barb wants to be involved with was conceived before Bill and Ana’s 48-hour marriage.

Stung, Barb decided to retaliate by making her own big decision behind Bill’s back — she let sneaky Marilyn (Sissy Spacek) sign her way into the casino world. (Bill on Marilyn: “She’s a shark, with a price tag of a whale.”)

It was interesting to hear Bill try to defend his pre-marital indiscretion to Barb. He did the same thing with Margene before they got married. I tell you, Barb is the most patient first wife of all time. She puts up with so much, especially since Bill’s response was basically that he’s not a perfect man and he’s been “tested.”

And failed every time!

***

The “tested” thing was interesting because it paralleled Dale’s personal struggle.

In this episode Bill learned about Alby’s (Matt Ross) affair with UEB trustee Dale (Ben Koldyke).

Bill got a little help with this intel, thanks to Alby’s scorned wife Laura (Anne Dudek, always down for some solid scorn).

Laura also paid a visit to Dale’s family.

Nicki knows about Alby’s homosexual feelings, too.

The saddest event of the episode came at the end when Alby held a bouquet of roses for his beloved Dale while he tried to reach him on his cell phone.

He ended the phone conversation with “I love you,” then opened the door to their secret apartment … and there was Dale, hanging from the ceiling.

Suicide is not good for the soul, man.

I’m heartbroken! I loved their love. They were the most affectionate couple on a show with many marriages and few love matches.

Dale’s inner struggle just consumed him. He couldn’t live a double life as easily as Bill.

I wish I could just grab these people smack them around and set them straight. Dale should’ve divorced his poor wife, who deserves someone who loves her, and Alby should somehow get unsealed from evil Laura.

Then Dale and Alby should move to the West Coast or Mexico or somewhere and just drink cocktails on the beach.

Pipe dream, I know, but it’s a more attainable goal than Bill actually coming out as a polygamist and living in that giant house in the open with Barb, Nicki and Margene.

Dale, I’ll miss you.

I love Zeljko Ivanek. Creepy and all. Here he is with Cassi Thomson, who plays his (and Nicki's) daughter, Cara Lynn.

By Gina Carbone
gina_carbone@comcast.net

Bill, it’s time to dump Margene as your third wife. She’s flighty, self-absorbed, epically childish and in love/lust/infatuation with your son, who reciprocates.

After all, you had Ben before you had Margene and if anyone should leave the house it should be the wife who kissed the son, not the son being led on by his sort of stepmother.

Ben & Margene

Just when you thought Nicki was the troubled one!

In fact, now might be the time to throw off the dead weight and stick with Barb as the one-and-only Mrs. Henrickson.

“Big Love” season four is already getting mucho complicated, which is fine, but it’s also spreading itself a bit thin.

Did Sarah have to take that baby from the reservation? Is this really the best time for Bill to run for office — when his always-falling-apart-life continues to fall apart?

Bill, Barb, Nicki, Margene and their nuclear family members — including Teeny (growing up fast!), Sarah and Ben — are the least interesting characters to me.

I want to spend more time on the compound with Alby and his adorable crush; Adaleen; Wanda; Joey; Frank; and God’s gift to the planet, Lois (Grace Zabriskie, you are a genius).

I am also excited to see more of the great Zeljko Ivanek as JJ, Nicki’s ex-husband and father to her daughter, and her mother, Adaleen’s new husband.

JJ is the kind of creepy, manipulative, universally despised loner I always love (see Ben Linus).

Stay here and focus on these people. They are exciting and crazy. Emphasis on crazy. (We can’t all be sane.)

As much as I love Adam Beach in anything (or nothing? suggestion?), having the casino element on top of everything else is starting to be a bit much.

So is Bill himself. I love Bill Paxton, but even he can’t get me past Henrickson’s hypocrisy, especially after having his loyal partner Don take one for the team on the allegations that HomePlus had polygamists on the payroll.

I thought Bill was going to have the family come out into the open after he became a state senator (not that that would make polygamy legal or anything). Now, after letting Don take the fall, he can’t. So now what?

Anyway, HBO issued a press release with details on upcoming episodes.

Enjoy!

BIG LOVE – FEB. EPISODES

Episode #39:  “Sins of the Father”

Debut:  SUNDAY, FEB. 7 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT)

Other HBO playdates:  Feb. 7 (11:00 p.m.), 9 (10:30 p.m.), 10 (10:00 p.m.), 12 (8:00 p.m., 1:35 a.m.) and 17 (9:00 p.m.)

HBO2 playdates:  Feb. 8 (10:00 p.m.), 9 (7:00 p.m.), 13 (1:00 p.m., 11:30 p.m.) and 14 (8:00 p.m.)

Bill (Bill Paxton) pulls out all the stops in his efforts to win Paley’s (Perry King) support for the state senate nomination, while Nicki (Chloë Sevigny) relishes her role as his campaign’s “secret weapon.”  Marilyn (Sissy Spacek) makes a pitch to represent the casino’s interests in Washington, but encounters resistance from Tommy (Adam Beach).  Frank (Bruce Dern) picks an inopportune moment to drop by the casino with Lois (Grace Zabriskie) and Jodean (Mireille Enos).  Bill absorbs a last-minute sucker punch from Colburn (Tom Amandes), but turns the tide by embracing the Lost Boy in himself.

Written by Seth Greenland; directed by David Petrarca.

***

Episode #40:  “Under One Roof”

Debut:  SUNDAY, FEB. 14 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)

Other HBO playdates:  Feb. 14 (11:00 p.m.), 16 (11:00 p.m.), 17 (10:00 p.m.) and 19 (8:00 p.m., 4:40 a.m.)

HBO2 playdates: Feb. 15 (10:00 p.m.), 16 (7:00 p.m.), 20 (2:00 p.m., 11:00 p.m.) and 21 (8:00 p.m.)

Ana (Branka Katic) resurfaces with a surprise revelation that shakes up the family.  Bill tries to get Tommy and Jerry (Robert Beltran) to rebrand the casino and expand its advertising into Idaho.  Lois and Frank take Ben (Douglas Smith) and Jodean south of the border to visit Don Dona (Mel Rodriguez), a bird vendor, at their collective peril.  Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin) worries about the impact of Bill’s future outing on her booming business.  With a flourish, Bill shows his wives the family’s collective future.

Written by Coleman Herbert; directed by Dan Attias.

***

Episode #41:  “Blood Atonement”

Debut:  SUNDAY, FEB. 21 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)

Other HBO playdates:  Feb.  21 (11:00 p.m.), 23 (11:00 p.m.), 24 (10:00 p.m.) and 26 (8:00 p.m., 3:55 a.m.), and March 10 (8:00 p.m.)

HBO2 playdates:  Feb. 22 (10:00 p.m.), 23 (7:00 p.m.), 27 (2:30 p.m., 11:00 p.m.) and 28 (8:00 p.m.)

With a revenge-minded Joey (Shawn Doyle) in tow, Bill makes an emergency trip to Mexico after Lois and Frank’s latest smuggling escapade backfires.  Nicki is jolted by a doctor’s news, but even more flummoxed by Adaleen’s (Mary Kay Place) shocking revelation.  Margene offers up a novel remedy to keep Ana from leaving the country with her fiancé.  After a scare at the casino, Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and Tommy look for culprits – and find some disturbing answers.

Written by Julia Cho; directed by David Petrarca.

***

Episode #42:  “Next Ticket Out”

Debut:  SUNDAY, FEB. 28 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)

Other HBO playdates:  Feb. 28 (11:00 p.m.) and March 2 (11:00 p.m.), 3 (10:00 p.m.), 5 (8:00 p.m., 4:15 a.m.) and 10 (9:00 p.m.)

HBO2 playdates:  March 1 (10:00 p.m.), 2 (7:00 p.m.), 6 (2:30 p.m., 11:00 p.m.) and 7 (8:00 p.m.)

Sarah (Amanda Seyfried) shakes up the family with an announcement, while Nicki makes an all-out attempt to be the woman Bill wants her to be.  Margene is put on the defensive when Bill questions her real reasons for getting married.  An ill-timed remark at a ladies-only event puts Barb in an unwanted spotlight.  Marilyn looks to bring down Bill as his campaign winds down.  Barb jolts Nicki with news about Joey that Bill was supposed to deliver.  A suspicious Bill looks for clues about J.J. (Zeljko Ivanek) in Kansas, while Adaleen finds them closer to home.

Written by Patricia Breen; directed by David Knoller.

Chloe must hate always being the "drab" one.

By Gina Carbone
gina_carbone@comcast.net

Bill Paxton’s a fox. He’s one of the only guys I can imagine pulling off the “Big Love” lifestyle, so kudos to him for somehow making this show heartwarming instead of full-on creepy.

HBO just issued a press release on season four, which starts Sunday, Jan. 10. Read on for details and get your DVRs ready…

***

For years, Bill Henrickson has battled Roman Grant, the corrupt “prophet” of Juniper Creek.  Now, with Roman dead and buried, Bill and his ever-growing family can breathe easy.  Or can they?

The critically acclaimed drama series “Big Love” kicks off its nine-episode fourth season with the episode entitled “Free at Last,” debuting Sunday, Jan. 10 (9-10 p.m. ET/PT), on HBO, followed by other episodes on subsequent Sundays at the same time.

Emmy-nominated for Best Drama series earlier this year, “Big Love” tells the story of Salt Lake City businessman Bill Henrickson, who balances the needs of his three wives – Barb, Nicki and Margene – their nine kids and three houses, and his own entrepreneurial ambitions.

Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny and Ginnifer Goodwin star in the series, which is executive produced by Playtone’s Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, David Knoller, Bernadette Caulfield and series creators and show runners Mark V. Olsen & Will Scheffer.

Having struggled to mend rifts that threatened the very existence of his family in season three, Bill Henrickson now faces a host of new personal and professional challenges.

Story lines in season four of “Big Love” include:  the launch of a Mormon-friendly casino with his Native American partners; the changing of the guard at the Juniper Creek compound; Bill’s potential candidacy for the Utah state senate; Barb’s controversial role at the new casino; Nicki’s stormy relationship with her ex-husband; and Margene’s career as a home shopping personality, as well as ongoing complications involving Bill’s daughter Sarah and his mother Lois.

Series regulars on the fourth season of “Big Love” also include Shawn Doyle, Mireille Enos, Zeljko Ivanek, Matt Ross, Amanda Seyfried, Cassi Thomson, Melora Walters and Grace Zabriskie.  Returning guest stars include Bruce Dern, Anne Dudek, Branka Katic, Joel McKinnon Miller, Aaron Paul, Mary Kay Place, Douglas Smith and Harry Dean Stanton.

New guest stars this season include Adam Beach (HBO’s “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”), Perry King (“Riptide”), Bella Thorne (“Dirty Sexy Money”) and Sissy Spacek (Oscar-winner for “Coal Miner’s Daughter”), who plays a conservative Washington, D.C. lobbyist intent on inserting herself into Bill’s professional and personal life.

***

Upcoming episodes:

Episode #35:  “Free at Last”

Debut:  SUNDAY, JAN. 10 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT)

Other HBO playdates:  Jan. 10 (11:15 p.m.), 12 (11:00 p.m.), 13 (10:00 p.m.), 15 (8:00 p.m., 1:45 a.m.) and 27 (8:00 p.m.)

HBO2 playdates:  Jan. 11 (10:00 p.m.), 12 (7:00 p.m.), 16 (1:30 p.m., 11:50 p.m.) and 17 (8:00 p.m.)

With the grand opening of the Blackfoot Magic Casino only days away, the Henricksons make last-minute preparations under the skeptical eye of Tommy Flute (Adam Beach), son of Bill’s (Bill Paxton) partner Jerry (Robert Beltran).  As the feds continue to probe unfinished business concerning Roman Grant (Harry Dean Stanton), Alby (Matt Ross) has a close encounter with Dale Tomasson (Ben Koldyke), the state-appointed trustee of Juniper Creek’s assets.  At the compound, Adaleen (Mary Kay Place) shares a shocking secret with Nicki (Chloë Sevigny), who’s under fire for opening a new bank account for Roman.  Though her home-shopping business is thriving, Margie (Ginnifer Goodwin) makes an on-air slip-up that prompts her boss Beverly (Katherine LaNasa) to voice concerns about possible burnout.  Worried for her safety, Lois (Grace Zabriskie) offers Frank (Bruce Dern) a piece of her fledgling bird-purveying business.  Bill and J.J. Walker (Zeljko Ivanek), Nicki’s unpredictable ex, work out an arrangement allowing Cara Lynn (Cassi Thomson) to stay at the Henricksons’ house while attending high school during the week.  Ben (Douglas Smith) lands a gig with his Christian rock band, and ends up being called into backup duty for another.

Written by Mark V. Olsen & Will Scheffer; directed by Dan Attias.

***

Episode #36:  “The Greater Good”

Debut:  SUNDAY, JAN. 17 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)

Other HBO playdates:  Jan. 17 (11:00 p.m.), 19 (11:00 p.m.), 20 (10:00 p.m.), 22 (8:00 p.m., 2:25 a.m.) and 27 (9:00 p.m.)

HBO2 playdates:  Jan. 18 (10:00 p.m.), 19 (7:00 p.m.), 23 (1:30 p.m., 11:35 p.m.) and 24 (8:00 p.m.)

Ignoring pleas from Nicki to become Juniper Creek’s next prophet, Bill contemplates running for the vacant Utah State Senate seat against ardent polygamy foe Roy Colburn (Tom Amandes).  Joey (Shawn Doyle) and Wanda (Melora Walters) return to Juniper Creek, but a suspicious J.J. is lurking.  Sarah (Amanda Seyfried) and Scott (Aaron Paul) decide to forgo a wedding in Bill’s church in favor of a civil ceremony, shocking Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn), who nevertheless takes steps with Bill to be re-admitted to the church that excommunicated them.  J.J., making his mark in a UEB satellite compound in Kansas, has a contentious dinner at the Henricksons’ with his cancer-ridden wife Malinda (Malinda Page Hamilton).  Barb confronts Nicki about her feelings for Ray Henry (Charles Esten), who’s moving away after losing his case.  A reform-minded Dale tries to keep Alby at bay, to little avail.

Written by Paul Redford; directed by David Knoller.

***

Episode #37:  “Strange Bedfellows”

Debut:  SUNDAY, JAN. 24 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)

Other HBO playdates:  Jan. 24 (11:00 p.m.), 26 (10:30 p.m.), 27 (10:00 p.m.) and 29 (8:00 p.m., 2:00 a.m.)

HBO2 playdates:  Jan. 25 (10:00 p.m.), 26 (7:00 p.m.), 30 (1:30 p.m., 11:35 p.m.) and 31 (8:00 p.m.)

Bill, Nicki and Cara Lynn travel to Washington, D.C., where Bill tries to land an endorsement from Congressman Clark Paley (Perry King) while repairing his relationship with Nicki.  First, however, he has to get past a faux pas he’s made with Marilyn Densham (Sissy Spacek), Paley’s political crony.  Back in Utah, Margene and her “Hearts on a Sleeve” line go prime time, but her on-air triumph is tempered by a case of mistaken identity.  Joined by Sarah, Barb leads a series of seminars on sensitivity training at the casino.  Fearing that Wanda spilled the beans about Roman’s murder to J.J., Joey goes to extremes to safeguard their dirty secret.  Barb and Sarah hit a young Native American woman with their car, prompting Sarah to personally compensate the victim and her baby.  Even as his affection for Dale deepens, Alby is tormented by reminders of his late father’s judgment.

Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; directed by Adam Davidson.

***

Episode #38:  “The Mighty and Strong”

Debut:  SUNDAY, JAN. 31 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)

Other HBO playdates:  Jan. 31 (11:00 p.m.) and Feb. 2 (10:30 p.m.), 3 (10:00 p.m.), 5 (8:00 p.m., 1:20 a.m.) and 17 (8:00 p.m.)

HBO2 playdates:  Feb. 1 (10:00 p.m.), 2 (7:00 p.m.), 6 (3:00 p.m., 11:30 p.m.) and 7 (8:00 p.m.)

When an audit uncovers insurance discrepancies at Home Plus, Bill takes drastic steps to protect his secrets and save his candidacy.  J.J. approaches Alby with a partial solution on how to dispose of a “flock cast adrift,” flummoxing Nicki.  Lois, Frank and Jodean (Mireille Enos) encounter a border scare in their quest for exotic birds.  Sarah gets a taste of motherhood, albeit with someone else’s child.  Alby is tormented by his inner Roman, and torn by what he sees as Dale’s betrayal.  Troubled by Tancy’s (Bella Thorne) surprising revelation about Margene and Ben, Bill decides that a change of scene might be best for his firstborn son.

Written by Melanie Marnich; directed by Dan Attias.

***

In addition to its Emmy nomination, “Big Love” just received three Golden Globe nominations:  Best Television Series – Drama, Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama (Bill Paxton) and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Chloë Sevigny).

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