When last we saw him in the Season 3 finale of Shameless, the apparently irredeemable Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy) was slipping out of a hospital in a thin dressing gown and stealing away into a frigid wintry night in search of drugs and/or alcohol.
That little errand clearly did not end well, because as Season 4 of the Showtime drama premieres tonight, police raiding a filthy crack den find the Gallagher patriarch passed out and very near death. One of the cops, a Gallagher family friend, brings Frank home, but Fiona (Emmy Rossum) is having none of it, since Frank consistently has put his own addictive needs ahead of his children’s safety. When young Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) stubbornly insists the family take the dying Frank back in, Fiona relents only on the condition that Carl take care of him, like the filthy stray dog their father resembles.
Fiona is still fretting that longtime boyfriend Steve has gone missing without a trace, not knowing that he presumably has been executed by a South American crime lord. She’s also concerned with the whereabouts of her brother Ian (Cameron Monaghan), who has run away to join the Army to get over his breakup with Mickey Milkovich (Noel Gallagher).
There’s another empty bed in the Gallagher household as well: Oldest son Lip (Jeremy Allen White) finally is away at college, although he’s finding his classes quite a bit more challenging than he ever expected. Kid sister Debbie (Emma Kenney), meanwhile, has finally hit puberty and, with it, begun dressing and acting far more provocatively than her age would warrant.
Away from home, things continue to look brighter for Fiona. She’s swiftly advancing in her job at Worldwide Cup, where she has captured the attentions of her nice-guy boss, Mike Pratt (Jake McDorman, Greek). Meanwhile, neighbors Kev and Veronica (Steve Howey, Shanola Hampton) are in for the shock of their lives in their mission to become parents.
Yep, clearly another season of dark, dysfunctional fun is in store on Shameless, adapted from a long-running British comedy.
Tonight also marks the return of two other (more conventionally funny) Showtime sitcoms, both back for the third seasons. First up is House of Lies, the sharp, bitingly clever comedy set in the dog-eat-dog corporate world. Fans will remember that the jaw-dropping finale to Season 2 ended with Marty (Don Cheadle) going off to start his own agency, without the three other members of his “Pod” going along with him.
In tonight’s season premiere, Marty is indeed at his own shop, but Jeannie and Doug (Kristen Bell, Josh Lawson) are still at Galweather Stern and Clyde (Ben Schwartz), to his everlasting dismay, is now working for Marty’s rageaholic, drug-added ex-wife, Monica (Dawn Olivieri).
At home, Marty is supportive but confused when his sexually ambiguous teenage son, Roscoe (Donis Leonard Jr.) begins exploring a new relationship that could be a game-changer.
Right after House of Lies, the Emmy-nominated Episodes returns for a third season of sending up the insanity of life in the world of Hollywood network TV. In tonight’s premiere, married scriptwriters Sean and Beverly Lincoln (Stephen Mangan, Tamsin Greig) have at least tenuously reconciled in their marriage, but Matt (Matt LeBlanc) is still embroiled in a child custody battle with his ex-wife.
At the studio, the ambitious Carol (Kathleen Rose Perkins) sees her dreams of being named bead of the network cruelly dashed as the corporate brass decides instead to hire a newcomer. That would be Castor Soto (Chris Diamantopoulos), viewed by many in the industry as a creative genius. Only Castor’s shrink (John Ross Bowie, The Big Bang Theory) knows the truth: Castor is completely nuts, a full-blown schizophrenic who keeps hearing the furniture talking to him.
Showtime helpfully sent out the entire season of Episodes (unlike only the first couple of episodes for the other two returning shows), so I can tell you that while tonight’s premiere starts a little slowly (Sean and Beverly’s marital strain is really getting old as a storyline), series creators David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik have come up with some absolutely delightful twists and turns for this third season – and even, against all odds, contrived yet another finale at the end that both provides closure and also leaves a door open for a Season 4, if Showtime wants one.