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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How Shameless spends its "Summertime"

     Showtime's Shamesless returns with "Summertime." The Gallaghers are busy earning money to get them through the year, including a scheme involving Kelvin's (Steve Howey) monster pot harvest. But the unexpectedly large electric bill from said crop, as well as V's (Shanola Hampton) disapproval threaten their plans. Then things get even dicker when Frank (William H. Macy) makes a big bet and loses, leading to the debtors holding Liam (Blake Alexander Johnson and Brennan Kane Johnson) hostage.

     "Summertime" finds the family almost exactly as they were last left, still getting into the same types of trouble, which is great for fans who love the snow's story structure. As such, it is easy to jump right back into the world without missing a beat, a must considering how long Shameless's hiatus has been.

     Frank has been having a run of luck since shacking up with Sheila (Joan Cusack), but that good fortune is about to run out. Sheila is making big progress in her therapy, making it a full 100 steps from her house. Her ultimate goal, since she loves Frank dearly, for unknown reasons, is to make it to the Alibi to spend time with her sweetie. That should be all it takes to end their relationship, as she will finally see the real Frank, and what everyone else thinks of him. To make matters even worse for Frank, he can no longer go home after the stunt endangering Liam, which infuriated his other children, so he will likely be let homeless when Sheila kicks him out. That is, until he comes up with another scheme.

     The character of Frank is a despicable lowlife, and he finds ways to be even worse on "Summertime." It's one thing to neglect himself, but it's quite another to endanger his children. The older ones have learned not to count on him, but again, letting a baby be kidnapped by gangsters takes things to another level. There isn't a redeemable bone left in his body now, and it will be interesting to see how Shameless tries to make him sympathetic now, if an attempt is even made.

     Besides Frank, the rest of the family is very loving, and willingly hand over all their hard earned savings in order to rescue the youngest member of their clan. It's just such a shame that they have to, considering how hard their lives are. They struggle, and are just seeking some happiness, which, once again, intentionally or not, Frank sabotages.

     Bad timing, too, as Fiona's (Emmy Rossum) is having fun being a player. Too hurt by Steve (Justin Chatwin) to consider anything serious, she finds sexual satisfaction in the arms of a hunk or two. At her age, she deserves some casual, entertaining rebound if she desires it. Hopefully she will get the chance for it without family responsibilities or a would-be commitment minded guy dragging her down.

     Poor Kevin. He has a great looking crop in "Summertime" until V rains on his parade. She is right to do so, though. Selling a little weed is one thing, but the legal consequences of following through with his harvest, should he get caught, are just too big to risk. With this in mind, he does the right thing in trashing most of it. But what of the two bags he secretly buries in the yard? V will be furious. And with a cop, Tony (Tyler Jacob Moore), as a neigbor, it's pretty dumb.

     Kash (Pej Vahdat, Bones) is also dumb. Not for leaving his bitch of a wife, Linda (Marguerite Moreau), as he should never have been with her on the first place. But for abandoning his kids. It may not be immediately obvious, but Cash is proving.extremely selfish and no better than Frank.

     What is going on with Lip (Jeremy Allen White) in "Summertime?" Sure, his friendship with Professor Hearst (Dennis Boutsikaris, W.) is proving beneficial, and the ice-cream truck he is running with Kevin should prove profitable. But what is he doing with Karen (Laura Slade Wiggins)? It's nice, though a bit naive to forgive her for Frank; it's foolhardy to try to carrying as normal when she is so obviously moving on. Things will never go back for them. Lip should either make a serious romantic play for her, a questionable move given their history, or just let her go.

     Ian (Cameron Monaghan) is lucky to have Lip. He is the supportive elder brother every younger boy wishes for. First with the coming out of the closet,.and now with the dreams of Westpoint, Lip stands by him. Lip may not be crazy with either thing, but that doesn't matter; this is what Ian wants, and Lip will work tirelessly to make it a reality. Sk what major bad circumstance will disrupt this great relationship?

     If one is looking for concrete proof that the children of Shameless have to act beyond their years, look no further than Debbie (Emma Kenney) in "Summertime." Still a young kid herself, she runs a daycare with close to ten tots! She pretends Fiona is in charge in front of the parents, then does everything herself as Fiona sleeps the day away. That's not a complaint against Fiona, who works hard, too. But for a little girl to step up and do so much, she deserves some serious credit. Debbie is minimized in season one to some degree, but if "Summertime" is any indication, she will not stay that way for long.

     Recasting sucks. It's wonderful that Jane Levy now gets to staring a major network sitcom, Suburgatory, but it's terrible that a different girl (Emma Greenwell) has to play Mandy. Couldn't she just have been written out? If the part is vital to Shameless, couldn't a replacement character be introduced instead? Very disappointed about this.


     Watch Shameless Sundays 1t 9 p.m. ET on Showtime.

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