What a week in TV: The ongoing presidential campaign, a combative vice presidential debate, incredible baseball playoffs and, yes, a handful of new fall TV shows rolling out almost every night.
Where to begin this week’s Top Five? Let’s go with Thursday night’s debate clash between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan.
1) Smokin’ Joe: Joe Biden was the consensus winner of Thursday night’s debate because he was feistier, more combative and more cutthroat than his opponent (at least that’s how the majority of pundits called it after it was over).
Truth be told, we found Joe to be just plain rude — with his smirks, gestures and off-camera expressions (all for the purposes of throwing off Ryan). The reaction of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow was typical of the pro-Biden praise that was showered on him in the wake of this “victory.”
2) The 800-pound bird in the room: The fall-out from the presidential debate a week earlier was still very much in evidence this week. The center of attention in the wake of the first Obama-Romney clash: Big Bird, and the appropriateness of the Obama campaign going after Romney’s threat to de-fund PBS (home of “Sesame Street” and Big Bird) if he is elected president. The Obama campaign used the Big Bird dust-up as the centerpiece of a new campaign commercial that accomplished the pretty neat trick of repelling pundits on both the right and the left. Two examples: Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly — both of whom decried the emphasis on Big Bird on their respective shows. And we have both videos for you to watch.
3) Schwarzenegger’s apology tour: The former California governor and action-movie legend didn’t deny that his current publicity swing in support of his new memoir, “Total Recall,” amounted to an “apology tour” as Jay Leno suggested this week on “The Tonight Show.” Schwarzenegger, who had an affair with a housekeeper that resulted in a son he kept secret from his family, said he still loves his wife and hopes she’ll forgive him. Our take: That’s about as likely as hell freezing over. But Schwarzenegger is nothing if not uber-confident.
4) & 5) A tale of two cities: Which cities? When you’re talking about the new fall TV season, they can only be Nashville and Las Vegas. (In fact, a friend of ours who lived in Nashville used to call it “Nash-Vegas”.) We’re talking, of course, about “Nashville,” which premiered this week on ABC, and “Vegas” on CBS, which had its third episode this week.
First, “Nashville,” a prime-time soap set in the country-music mecca — and starring two former stars from NBC, Connie Britton of “Friday Night Lights” and Hayden Panettiere, formerly of “Heroes.” Just in case you’ve heard everybody talking about it, and you happened to miss it, you can watch it right here:
If “Nashville” is targeted more at women, then “Vegas” is squarely aimed at men. It’s a brawny, macho cops-and-mobsters drama, set in the 1960s in the Vegas of the Rat Pack. Michael Chiklis stars as the mobster, and Dennis Quaid is the local lawman who’s taking him on. How can this show miss? Watch this week’s episode here: