So much TV on Sunday - 'Chuck,' 'The Simpsons,' & 'Big Love'

thesimpsons_290.jpgForget programming your DVRs. You might have to clone yourself to keep up with all the TV happening Sunday night.

"Chuck:" There are a lot of reasons not to love NBC these days. The abrupt cancellation of "Southland." reality dreck like "I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here," and moving all their 10 p.m. shows to the 9 p.m. time slot to make room for Jay Leno. If I could muster up the energy to care about the current Jay Leno rumors, I would say that I kind of feel bad for Leno. The idea of a daily prime time talk show had "disaster" written all over it before it even premiered. But it's hard for me to care about the rumors when I didn't care about "The Jay Leno Show" in the first place.

So let's focus on a positive thing NBC has going on this week. "Chuck" returns with a two-hour season premiere this Sunday at 9 p.m. before moving into its Monday 8 p.m. time slot on January 11. And while I'm being positive about NBC, let me say how much I enjoy the "No More Mr. Nice Spy" tag line. It's nice to see the network actually promoting one of their good shows. When we last left our unlikely hero (played to geeky perfection by Zachary Levi) he had downloaded a super duper intersect that gave him all sorts of powers (remember he knows kung fu). And I know many of us were worried that Chuck's new abilities would change our protagonist. I'm happy to report that's not the case. Chuck is still the Chuck we have come to know and love. And the show still has that delightful balance of humor and drama (Chuck even makes being depressed hilarious in the first hour). Chuck new powers put him more in the center of the action which I think is really good for the show - it shakes up Chuck's relationship with Casey (Adam Baldwin), Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski). his friends, and his family.

I have only two quibbles (and they are really just quibbles). My first remains what I've talked about before - the stakes aren't high enough on the show. I never really fear that anyone is truly in danger. Throughout the episode, I'm confident that our heroes will save the day and live to see another episode. Of course, to raise the stakes, the show would have to kill someone off or seriously alter them (think Faux Francie on "Alias" or the many character deaths on "Lost"). I'm not sure such a dramatic turn of events would fit in tonally with the show.

My other quibble (and I alluded to this in Monday's column) is that I think the show should stop trying to keep Chuck and Sarah apart. To use one of my favorite phrases, I'm not necessarily picking up what the show is putting down about the couple. But all in all, four out five stars. After you've watched the season premiere, let me know what you think and talk about it below.

"The Simpsons:" "The Simpsons" airs its 450th episode this Sunday at 8 p.m. on FOX. It's a typically funny episode featuring Anne Hathaway, as Krusty's new girlfriend Princess Penelope. Hathaway is just as good at singing as she is at acting. You'll definitely want to DVR the episode so you can go back and watch the opening credits again and again - several references to previous episodes are embedded in the opening credits. After the episode, FOX airs the one-hour special "The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special: In 3-D! On Ice!" from documentary Morgan Spurlock at 8:30 p.m. As you might expect from Spurlock, the special is a quirky look at the impact the show has had on the culture worldwide - from extremely devoted fans to countries and organizations who aren't supportive of the show. I think it's a must-see for any fan of "The Simpsons."

"Big Love:" "Big Love" returns for a fourth season Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO. As the season kicks off, Bill (Bill Paxton) is about to open a Mormon-friendly casino and the federal authorities are searching for Roman (Henry Dean Stanton). Margie (Ginnifer Goodwin) finds that her burgeoning career on the home-shopping network may be in danger and Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn) is struggling to gain the respect of the Bill's Native American business partners. I know that so many of you are big fans of "Big Love" but I simply can't get into the show. I find so many of the characters off-putting, particularly Nicki (Chloe Sevigny) and Lois (Grace Zabriskie). What am I missing? Why do you love "Big Love" talk about it below.

Where Have I Seen Them Before?

Henry recognized Merrin Dungey, Francie on "Alias," as Sheila, the Veridian employee who accused of sexual harassment on "Better Off Ted." Dungey was also Kelly on "King of Queens" and, interesting fact, Naomi in the original pilot for "Private Practice."

Jessica Hecht was Marie Browning, the woman divorcing Glenn Childs on "The Good Wife." To me, Hecht will always be Susan, the woman who was married to Ross's ex-wife on "Friends." She was also Janeane on "The Single Guy" and was Gretchen last season on "Breaking Bad."

Kat Foster was the lawyer representing the cable network on "The Good Wife." Foster was Steph during the first season of "'Til Death" and Nicole last season on "The Unusuals"

Nadia Dajani was Denise, the new Mode creative director Daniel and Wilhemnia got fired on "Ugly Betty." She was Amanda on "Ned and Stacey" and Reilly in the extremely short-lived "Emily's Reasons Why Not."

Ryan recognized Marcus Giamatti as Victor Tillman on "NCIS." Giamatti was Amy's brother Peter on "Judging Amy" and we just saw him on "House" as the sleazy movie director the patient of the week idolized.

Ryan Devlin was Smith, the man who asked out Laurie on "Cougar Town." He was Mercer Hayes on "Veronica Mars." He'll be back next week.

Quotes of the Week - An all "Better Off Ted" edition because I am determined to give this fabulous comedy all the support I can

"I would like to unsubscribe to whatever you're doing right now." Veronica to Phil and Lem. Thanks to Lisa for the quote.

"Children, they have so many uses. They're like adorable swiss army knives." Veronica to Ted.

"So suck is okay to say now because I have some thoughts about the lunch you packed me today." Ted's daughter Rose to Ted.

"Ted, the company loves its' money. If they could , they'd go to strip clubs and throw women at money." Veronica to Ted.  Thanks to Joe for the quote.

Inside Joke of the Week

Tim noticed that when Phil and Lem went to the basement of Veridian Dynamics on "Better Off Ted," there was a great shout-out to "Dr. Who." Among the many robots and electronic gadgets was a Dalek.

Ask TV Gal

I just read at ew.com that the show runners at Ugly Betty are considering a Betty-Daniel romance. I was wondering about your take on that. For my part, I'm dead set against it. Betty and Daniel have always had a little sister/big brother vibe to me, and their friendship has consistently been one of the best parts of the show. There are so few shows out there depicting a sincere platonic relationship between the lead actor and actress that it seems a shame to spoil it with an unnecessary romance. What do you think? Abby

Abby I am so with you on this. It seems crazy to me that Betty and Daniel would start dating - even if that is what happened in the original show the ABC series is based on. It's not like on other shows, say for example "Bones," where the romance vibe always has been an undercurrent that the two characters have yet to act on. I haven't ever thought of Daniel and Betty as romantic. Have you guys? What do you think of a possible Betty/Daniel romance? Talk about it below.

That's all for today. I'm back on Monday to discuss the 100th episode of "How I Met Your Mother" (hooray!), "Southland" moving to TNT (double hooray!), the "Grey's Anatomy"/ "Private Practice" crossover, the new season of "Project Runway" and more. Have a question? Seen a familiar face? Want to nominate a quote of the week or a topic for discussion? Write me at amytvgal@zap2it.com or follow me on Twitter. Have a great weekend. Talk to you on Monday.

 

Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal

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