Don’t overlook the second season debut of this dramedy that up to now has fallen through the cracks of more publicized cable fare like The Sopranos and Big Love. When we last left troubled shrink Hank Azaria, his marriage to Paget Brewster was on the rocks, he'd just discovered his best friend (Oliver Platt) sleeping with his mother (Blythe Danner), his schizophrenic brother (Andy Comeau) had driven off in his car, his bright teenage son (Anton Yelchin) was becoming increasingly troubled and his mother-in-law (Swoosie Kurtz) was dying of cancer in his living room.
This year’s cast additions include Sharon Stone as an alcoholic lawyer, redeeming herself from the Basic Instinct 2 bomb with a hilariously over-the-top sexy performance as the always-marvelous Platt’s latest client/love interest, with Anjelica Huston on deck as Huff’s new therapist. The outrageous situations are always tempered by completely believable acting, focusing on issues like dying with dignity, balancing work and pleasure, how to keep passion alive in a relationship, the demands of family and even how we treat people vs. how we treat our pets, that you don’t see anyplace else. There are all sorts of cross-references and allusions that make it a dense tableaux, but above all, there is a belief in the healing power of humor and faith that makes Huff TiVo-worthy.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Show Your Bones (Interscope)
Call me a philistine or a hopeless industry hack, but I kind of appreciate when a band is forced to find artistic solutions to its commercial situation. Like Woody Allen said in Annie Hall, love is like a shark - it dies when it’s not moving forward voraciously, and this post-post-punk downtown Noo Yawk trio takes the challenge and delivers in a way its peers The Strokes failed to do on their Xeroxed soph effort.
The opening song, “Gold Lion,” shows the way, a glistening piece of pop-funk that recalls the glory days of Athens, GA’s Pylon and the B-52s, with lead singer Karen O all sensuous ooze and animal lust over guitarist Nick Zinner’s sculpted metallic soundscapes and drummer Brian Chase’s tribal stomp. There are also stylistic forays into other genres, like the “campfire song” allusion to the folk standard “Mockingbird” interpolated into “Dudley” and the left-field moves into country rockabilly (“Mysteries”) and acoustic blues (“The Sweets”).
“You’re something like a phenomena,” chants Ms. O in the song of the same name, then “Well sometimes/I think that/I’m bigger than the sound” in “Cheated Hearts,” taking the piss out of their Next Big Thing status, but when she closes with “Hope I do/Turn into you” in the closer, it doubles as both a love song and an embrace of her fans. If rock indeed peaked in the 20th century, Karen O and the YYYs prove there’s still some life yet in the primordial beast.