By Mary McNamara
2:29 AM EST, January 23, 2014
"Rake." Greg Kinnear stars as scapegrace defense attorney Keegan Deane … and that's pretty much all you need to know. Who doesn't love Greg Kinnear? In just about anything?
This role, based on an Australian show of the same name, seems particularly well-suited to his talents. "Key" is a man of perpetual optimism and very little self control. He never met a dollar, or drink, he didn't think he could double, counting on his fast-talk and winning smile to get him out of all sorts of trouble. Which they have, and haven't.
Though perhaps a trifle tamer than his Aussie counterpart, Key is still on the frayed edges of professional society. Divorced, living on a friend's sofa, dodging creditors and at least one loan shark and bouncing between "borrowed" offices, he still believes he is one big case, or crap game, away from the big time. And even if it's mostly, and often dangerous, self-deception, his nonjudgmental and strangely sunny outlook pays off. In the court room, he takes on the cases no one else will touch, and in his life, well, many people are angry at Key, but few, including his ex (Miranda Otto) can bear to kick him completely to the curb.
Although this is very clearly a star vehicle, Kinnear is surrounded by a strong cast including Otto, John Ortiz as his best friend Ben, Necar Zedegan as Ben's prosecutor wife, and Tara Summers as Leanne, Key's long-suffering assistant, all of whom are equally quick and complicated. Key may be the punchline of his own joke, but you'll be very glad he shared it with you. Fox, Thursdays, 9 p.m.
"Sherlock." In an undeniably unusual episode, John (Martin Freeman) and fiancee Mary Morstan (Amanda Abbington) tie the knot, with Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) serving as best man. As one might imagine, things go terribly awry and not just because Sherlock does not know how to give a proper toast. Although not, perhaps, as narratively smooth as the almost universally perfect episodes that precede it, "The Sign of Three" does contain a number of truly splendid moments, many of them contributing to Cumberbatch's masterful ability to evoke a man using his brain to activate his heart. PBS, Sunday, 10 p.m.
"The Blacklist." One of the fall's biggest hits roared back from its holiday break to prove it's not all about seeing James Spader's Red, former rogue operative turned asset, drop clues, bon mots and bad guys. Most, perhaps, but not all.
Having identified Meera (Parminder Nagra) as the CIA mole (Who else in the cast can match Spader in intensity and multi-tasking motivation?) Red is clearly bent on cleaning house, and not just the Agency's. As Elizabeth (Megan Boone, who gets stronger every week) draws closer to becoming an adoptive mother, Red puts her on the trail of a shady adoption ring. NBC, Monday, 10 p.m.
"Parks and Recreation." Celebrate Amy Poehler's finally winning something -- a Golden Globe -- by keeping her very good and hilariously funny show alive for another year. Having been recalled from her dream job as City Council member, our man in Pawnee, Leslie Knope (Poehler) is trying to settle back into her old job as assistant Parks and Rec director while planning her future and everyone else seems to be in a similar state of flux. This week, Andy (Chris Pratt) apparently finds his true calling. Cannot wait to see what that is, and whatever else the gang is up to, because a week without "Parks and Recreation" is like, well, a week without parks or recreation. NBC, Thursday, 8:30
"Black Sails." Michael Bay's big-ticket prequel to "Treasure Island" gets off to a somewhat rocky start. Like "Deadwood," it attempts to balance historical grit with modern psychology (and certainly profanity) while capturing the high-seas romance that made "Treasure Island" the template for virtually every adventure tale that followed. (Wasn't Long John Silver the first sympathetic anti-hero?) Whether or not "Black Sails" finds its sea-legs and becomes the break-out hit Starz so desperately needs remains to be seen. But it's already been renewed for a second season, so it might be worth getting on board early. Starz, Saturday, 10 p.m.
"The Legend of Lizzie Borden." Why on earth hasn't Netflix or some streaming service procured the rights to this brilliantly creepy and historically evocative (Oh, that mutton stew!) movie starring Elizabeth Montgomery? The absurdly lifeless Lifetime remake, which premieres on Saturday at 8 p.m., reminds us not only that this Golden Age still has a long way to go when it comes to TV movies, but also just how fabulous Montgomery and her 1975 version (Fionnula Flannigan, Bonnie Bartlett! Fritz Weaver!) really was.
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