On Showtime, Michael Sheen returns in Masters of Sex, which tells the compelling life and times of Dr. William Masters, a pioneer in the scientific exploration of human sexuality, a man decades ahead of his time. The coauthor of his landmark study, Virginia Johnson, played by Lizzy Caplan, is the emotional center of this series, especially after she and Masters begin a relationship, ostensibly to further their research. Returning for season two are Beau Bridges, as Masterss boss, deeply troubled by his closeted homosexuality; Allison Janney as his wife; and Danny Huston, the head of the hospital.

 Sheen depicts Dr. Masters as a focused but unpopular man, blunt to the point of rudeness, and an uncaring recent father. His wife is well played by Caitlin Fitzgerald. This St. Louis-set history-meets-soap-opera is intelligent entertainment.

Also on Showtime is the brutal, absorbing crime drama Ray Donovan, with the titanic actor Liev Schreiber as a Los Angeles trouble-shooter, a problem-solver who isnt afraid to use his gun or his fists. This graphic crime series has an incredible cast. Oscar winner Jon Voight is Donovans hard-living father, wanted by the FBI for murder. Elliot Gould is a nervous client with deep pockets. Hank Azaria is the head of the L.A. FBI office. British actor Eddie Marsan as Rays shady brother.

Schreiber is a complex actor who brings a believable back story to any role. Old pros Voight and Gould add grit. Even if you missed the first season, youll instantly be involved. These are not nice people, but theyre impossible to ignore.

Honeymoon starts out slowly; young newlyweds arrive at a family cabin deep in the Maine woods. Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway play the apparently carefree, deeplyin- love couple. The movie takes a bit too long setting up these characters, so that just when you begin to think, I get it, theyre in love, strange things begin to happen and you realize youre in a horror movie. But dont be quick to dismiss it as another slash and scream flick. Far from it. This turns into an intelligent study of growing terror, carefully crafted. She goes missing in the woods one night, and when he finds her, shes different. A mysterious light hits their room at night. She has strange marks on her body. He then tries to figure out whats happening, of course to no avail, and their isolation begins to seal their doom. Im not a fan of horror movies in general, but once in a while, I like to get scared, too.

Wetlands is a free-spirited, sometimes graphic, other times gross German film. It concerns a skateboarding nymphomaniac who breezes through life. Cowritten and directed by David Wnendt, the movie is of the same school, more or less, as Trainspotting: unafraid to offend, yet daring and challenging. Carla Juri is the principal character, unafraid to try anything in life, especially of a sexual nature; the more conventions she challenges, the better. She also longs to have her divorced parents reunite. Her best friends boyfriend is a drug dealer, and the girls think nothing of experimenting with his stash, mistakenly left behind, while hes waterboarded by his suppliers. The movie careens at a frantic pace, from a subway train to her hospital room, with the young protagonist unable to find a true focus to her life. Not for the squeamish, but often provocative and at times shocking.

The new season of Boardwalk Empire, HBOs riveting period crime drama, does presuppose a knowledge of several previous seasons initially to understand whos who. But even if youre a newcomer, youll be instantly mesmerized by the atmosphere, the men in shadows wearing fedoras and up to no good, the between-the-wars saga of gangsters in Atlantic City, a sinister Mafi a initiation ritual, a crooked Senator, a Southern chain gangall of this will quickly make you a devotee. But be warned: The violence is shocking and sometimes extremely graphic.

Brooklyn-born Steve Buscemi returns as Nucky Thompson, head of a criminal empire in Atlantic City. This season explores his childhood beginnings and how he began to set up his empire in Cuba. This series has lost none of its appeal.

Finally, and best of all, is My Old Lady, playwright / adapter / director Israel Horovitzs wonderful drama in which all three stars give perhaps the best performances of their careers. Kevin Kline plays a bitter, penniless novelist who comes to the Paris apartment his late father has bequeathed him. He hopes to sell it quickly and somehow restart his miserable life. But he finds a 92-year-old woman, played by Dame Maggie Smith, ensconced there with her adult daughter, Kristin Scott-Thomas. Theyre expatriates whove lived there for years and arent required to move out, under a quirk in the complex French legal system.

This begins a gradual unraveling of dark family secrets, raw emotions imbued with Klines characters continual barrage of sardonic humor. Horovitzauthor of plays like Park Your Car in Harvard Yard and the hilarious The Primary English Class and The Indian Wants the Bronxhas a wonderful way with words, and it translates well to the screen, theatrical but never stagy. The troubled characters are rich, the revelations shocking, the movie fulfilling.


Jeffrey Lyons, a movie and theater critic with 44 years of experience on TV, radio, and in print, is at work on his seventh book, Wasnt It a Time, and you can catch him on Lyons Den Radio, heard locally on WCBS Radio.