This has not been the most fantastic of seasons for TRUE BLOOD. There are too many storylines unfolding at the same time to give the show an incredibly chaotic feel… and not in the good sense. That said, last night’s may have been the best of the season, thanks in large part to the awesome and unexpected cliffhanger. Denis O’Hare’s Russell Edgington — the unapologetic vamp — is quite possibly the best character in the history of the show and he was, once again, used perfectly in the final moments. Another highlight of the past few weeks has been the relationship between Pam and her bratty bloodchild, Tara. The same can’t be said for the smoke monster — er, sorry, that was LOST — fire monster that is trying to kill Terry and his former army military buds. The story sounds like one of those things where someone in the writer’s room said, “Oh, hey, what about Terry and Arlene. We need something for them to do!” Oh, and for those who didn’t pick up on the fact the folks out killing “sups” were wearing Obama masks this week, Alan Ball (who scripted this week’s outing) had one of them shout, “Yes we can!” in what felt kinda like a desperate attempt to court controversy.

It took me about 15 minutes to “get” USA’s new sudser, POLITICAL ANIMALS. And that was partially my fault and partially the fault of the network. I’ll admit, I went into the series — as, I expect, many  post-WEST WING viewers did — with Aaron Sorkin’s famed version of the White House in my head. And USA, clearly wanting to make sure we got that this was cable, not network, threw me off by making sure that those first few minutes included a plethora of words you won’t hear on even their raunchiest of offers. (Yes, I’m looking at you, TWO BROKE GIRLS!) But once the show and I had time to feel each other out, I realized that I was watching one heck of a fun soap filled with sex scandals, addicts, bulimics and fantastic dialogue. The political storylines were, ironically, the weak spot, but if viewed as nothing more than a background against which to tell juicier tales — in much the same way the fashion industry does for THE BOLD & THE BEAUTIFUL or big oil for DALLAS — they’re innocuous enough. But how can I not love a show that gives me drunk Ellen Burstyn, KINGS break-out star Sebastian Stan and Adrian Pasdar as the President? This isn’t a great summer series… it’s a great series, period.

Throwing in four past-favorites to serve as coaches has given BIG BROTHER a new lease on life. Not only are they living in the house with their wards, but they’re also competing — against one another — to keep their teams safe. It also greatly helps having familiar faces on hand while we get to know the new houseguests, who at the moment seem like a mostly-forgettable lot… although there was a time when we probably would have said the same thing of Mike Boogie or Dan. If there’s a standout so far, it’s Ian… although not for reasons one particularly wants to be culled from the pack. That boy puts the odd in oddball, and his behavior is borderline creepy. Two things that baffled me about last night’s episode: Why Willie — a.k.a. the brother of SURVIVOR villain Russell Hantz —decided to reveal his secret so soon, and why Frank, when thrown under the proverbial bus by Willie at the nomination ceremony, didn’t immediately stand up and shout, “Liar, liar, pants on fire!” Of course, the fact that I’d do exactly that probably indicates I’d be the worst player in BIG BROTHER history.

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