‘Gossip Girl’ a welcome break from reality (TV review)

I admire shows that address the recession — it’s part of the fabric of “Medium” and “Friday Night Lights,” and “The Simpsons” had a nice episode about it last year. But I also like shows that are completely oblivious to America’s economic meltdown, to the point where they flaunt how out of touch they are.

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They canceled ‘Privileged’ for this ‘Melrose Place’ relaunch? Really? (TV review)

In its large ensemble cast, “Melrose Place” (8 p.m. Central Tuesdays on The CW) has one likeable character. He’s a 25-year-old comic book fan and budding filmmaker. He asks his girlfriend of five years to marry him, but she’s not sure if she should, because, come on, he likes comic books. Obviously, that’s a sign that he’s not marriage material. Living together every day like a married couple is one thing, but going through the ceremony and ritual of it — that’s another.

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Fall TV 2009: 7 new developments on old shows (Commentary)

Here are seven plot developments I’m looking forward to on old favorites this fall season. (Technically, TV’s best show, “Friday Night Lights,” is a fall returnee — Oct. 28 on DirecTV — but I’ll be blogging about Season 4 next spring when I see the episodes on NBC. I’m very interested to see what Coach Taylor does with his new team.)

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Mystery, mysticism and politics: Denning’s ‘Abyss’ continues the ‘Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi’ series (Book review)

The early “Star Wars” novels — “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye” and the “Han Solo Adventures” — followed the lead of “A New Hope,” where adventure was the writer’s main concern. With “Heir to the Empire,” the tone shifted toward political and military maneuvering, and “Star Wars” became associated with those genres even more with the prequel films and “The Clone Wars.”

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Fall TV 2009: 6 new shows to watch (Commentary)

Here are six new shows you might want to check out:

1. “Community” (8:30 p.m. Central Thursdays on NBC, starts Sept. 17) — When I first heard about this show about a hodgepodge of students at a community college, I thought it’d be like a lower-class “Bedford Diaries.” It turns out, though, that it’s a half-hour sitcom, not an hour-long drama.

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What show will make Entertainment Weekly’s Fall TV Preview cover? (Commentary)

I’ve already picked up the fall TV previews from TV Guide and Sci Fi magazine (yeah, it’s still called that, even though the channel is called SyFy). It’ll be a couple weeks before I get my Entertainment Weekly Fall TV Preview (I haven’t even gotten this week’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm”/”Seinfeld” cover yet), but EW can afford to be last, because it has secured its place as the best.

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Preston & Child do their usual, compelling ‘Dance’ — this time with zombies (Book review)

I used to describe Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child as “like Michael Crichton, only better.” I now know that’s a simplistic comparison, but it’s still useful. The late, great Crichton’s “Lost World” came out in 1995, and earlier that same year, Preston and Child made their collaborative debut with “Relic.” Crichton’s book was a theme piece about dinosaur society; Preston and Child’s book was a wild ride about — as it turned out — a guy who basically turned into a dinosaur.

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