Tag Archives: Stephen Mangan

Frank confronts his mortality as Shameless returns

William H. Macy stars in Showtime's 'Shameless.''

As Shameless returns tonight to Showtime, Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy) is forced to realize his body is shutting down after years of nonstop abuse.

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.
'House of Lies' returns tonight on Showtime.

Kristen Bell and Don Cheadle return for a third season of comedy in Showtime’s ‘House of Lies.’

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.
'Episodes' returns tonight to Showtime.

Stephen Mangan, Matt LeBlanc and Tamsin Greig return for another season of frantic comedy tonight in Showtime’s ‘Episodes.’

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.

Douglas Adams lite, done (mostly) right

dirk dvd
The degree to which Douglas Adams fans enjoy Dirk Gently, currently making its U.S. debut on DVD via Acorn Video, is likely to be directly related to how well they manage their expectations. The two-disc set includes all four one-hour episodes of the short-lived UK series, which stars Stephen Mangan from Showtime’s Episodes as the title character, a “holistic detective” whose unconventional investigatory style is based, as he explains it, on “an almost unswerving belief in the fundamental interconnectedness of all things.” Following that logic, Dirk believes he can approach a case from virtually any starting point, since it inevitably will lead him to the solution for which he is searching – which explains why, in the series pilot, he starts out searching for an old lady’s missing cat and gets entangled in a double murder case.
Adams wrote two Gently novels, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, and was working on a third (The Salmon of Doubt) when he suffered a fatal heart attack in 2001 at age 49. Since these books, like his earlier best-seller The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, deal with such complex ideas and improbable, largely unfilmable plot bedazzlements, screenwriter Howard Overman sensibly opted to lift certain characters and situations from the Gently novels and build a similarly themed series around them.
For the most part, it works. Mangan has a tendency to mug too much, especially when the writing gets a little thin, as it does from time to time in this series, but mostly he makes a genial enough Gently (it helps that Dirk drives most of the people around him insane with his self-absorption, so we’re allowed to find him irritating, too). The smartest bit of casting finds rising British comedy star Darren Boyd (Spy) as Dirk’s hapless assistant/partner Richard MacDuff, the frequent target of the sleuth’s most outlandish demands. Helen Baxendale, who played Ross’s English fiancée Emily in several episodes of Friends, turns up here as Richard’s girlfriend, Susan, while Jason Watkins, the first-season villain in BBC America’s original UK version of Being Human, recurs as Detective Inspector Gilks, who regards Gently with barely concealed contempt.
In sum, Dirk Gently is likely to appeal to Adams fans, as long as they don’t expect all of the author’s incomparable wit, charm and originality to make the transfer to this new medium. You have to go back to the books themselves to fully understand why Adams’ sudden death at such an obscenely early age left his admirers feeling so bereft. But Dirk Gently does an admirable job of capturing the underlying spirit of Adams’ books.
Also, if you want to see more of Darren Boyd – and really, you should – Hulu Plus has the entire two-season run of Spy (which currently is being adapted for American television) available for streaming.