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Showing posts from November, 2010

The Daily Beast: "Twitter's TV War"

Twitter should be a tool for audiences to interact with the talent behind their favorite shows—instead, anonymous users heap abuse onto writer-producers for ruining "their" shows. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "Twitter's TV War," in which I speak to Community 's Dan Harmon, Bones ' Hart Hanson, and Grey Anatomy 's Shonda Rhimes about the complicated relationship between access, privacy, and angry fans on the social networking platform. I'm curious to know what your take is and whether you side with showrunners or fans. What happens when the dialogue turns ugly? Head to the comments section to discuss.

Penalty Time: An Anger-Filled Amazing Race Watch

Must. Restrain. Myself. I was going to write a post about last night's episode of The Amazing Race ("I Hate Chinese Food") but I'm actually still too angry at contestant Nick to think clearly... and at the producers for keeping this buffoon around another week. Quick recap: after shouting at his asthmatic girlfriend Vicki all season, making her do just about every challenge, and managing to avoid elimination several times thanks to Vicki, Nick decides that he's going to take a nap rather than help Vicki look for a boat registration number in the dark, even though he spent several hours sitting in a chair while Vicki gorged on Chinese food and puked her guts out. Nice boyfriend. Nick had given up and wanted to walk off the race when they opted to take the six-hour penalty for not completing a Detour and simply walked onto the mat. It had to be over for them, right? They were so far behind the first place team--Nat and Kat--and had that penalty on top of it.

The Vanishing Act: Crimes and Misdemeanors on Boardwalk Empire

"You're so wicked." - Robert The sins of the past were on everyone's mind this week as tensions came to a head in every corner of the Emerald City: the tenuous relationship between Nucky and Margaret seemed to shatter like her looking glass; the uneasy past between Gillian and the Commodore was dragged out into the light; and Angela made a difficult decision, only to have her choice explode in her face. And then there was that baptism scene... This week's penultimate episode of Boardwalk Empire ("Paris Green"), written by Howard Korder and directed by Allen Coulter, gave us several displays of sleight-of-hand, intricate magic tricks designed to distract, to incapacitate, or simply to kill outright, an extravagant and riveting installment that pulled back the curtains to reveal the true face of Oz himself. Atlantic City exists because of the power structure that the Commodore built and Nucky Thomson finessed in his inimitable style. But the walls ar

Knife's Edge: The Spotless Mind on Chuck

Knock-knock. It's been a while since we've had an episode of Chuck that focused on Chuck Bartowski's better half, Agent Sarah Walker. We've been given slivers of Sarah's backstory--it was only last season that we learned her true name (that would be "Sam" for those keeping score)--but the enigmatic spy who has stolen Chuck's heart has remained largely an international woman of mystery, her heart encased in stone until Chuck came around. But does Sarah love Chuck for the man he is or the man that she thinks he could be? And with the Intersect out of commission for the foreseeable future, what does that mean for their own? This week's episode of Chuck ("Chuck Versus Phase Three"), written by Kristin Newman and directed by Anton Cropper, did not disappoint on that front, giving Yvonne Strahovski the perfect showcase for her skills, both in terms of silently emoting and kicking butt. While the action led Sarah (and Casey and Morgan) to f

Mermaid's Tale: The Mausoleum of All Hope and Desire on The Walking Dead

"I remember my dream now." - Jim Those of you who follow me on Twitter know that I've been watching screeners of AMC's zombie apocalypse drama The Walking Dead but haven't been as captivated as I was with the pilot episode. However, I watched the fourth and fifth episodes of the series over the weekend and found both of them to be on par with the harrowing atmosphere of the pilot, giving viewers an intense experience that shows the gripping struggle for and by humanity. In a land beset by demons, can the survivors of a global apocalypse retain their humanity? Or does killing monsters make you a monster yourself? Once you cross that moral line, can you step back over it? This week's sensational episode of The Walking Dead ("Vatos"), written by Robert Kirkman (who created the series' underlying material) and directed by Johan Renck, put the focus back on the human aspect of the drama, giving us an installment that largely revolved around fami

The Tin Woodsman: Storming The Emerald City on Boardwalk Empire

I find it depressing that some viewers are less than enchanted with HBO's soaring period drama Boardwalk Empire , which once again turned out a remarkable installment ("The Emerald City"), written by Lawrence Konner and directed by Simon Cellan Jones, this time about truth, consequences, and the lies we all tell ourselves. Every fairy tale, after all, has to come to an end, even for Margaret Schroeder. The parallels between Dorothy's visit to Oz within L. Frank Baum's novel, Margaret's discovery of her own artifice, and Richard Harrow's dream brought the lesson right out into the light. We can all dream and our dreams can be filled with beauty but eventually we all come crashing back down to reality, whether that be Richard's realization that he is once again disfigured (poor Emily screaming bloody murder) or Margaret catching sight of herself in a mirror. What we see looking back at us isn't what we expected. Whether she chooses to admit it or

Community Creator Dan Harmon Reacts to Idol Move

Fringe fans aren't the only ones concerned by the midseason schedule unveiled this evening by FOX, which includes the move of American Idol to Wednesdays and Thursdays in January . The move means that the reality juggernaut, which has seen its ratings deflated somewhat of late, will now air opposite NBC's cult comedy Community . But it's not time to send in the save our show letters just yet. Creator Dan Harmon, reached by Televisionary on Friday evening, had this to say. "My reaction: We have nothing to worry about," Harmon told me. " American Idol has a totally different audience. They like popular things." So there. Viva Greendale.

Fox Unveils Midseason Schedule: Fringe Moves to Friday, Idol to Wed and Thurs

Well, Fringe , it was nice knowing you. Fox has today announced that it is moving Fringe to Fridays at 9 pm (sound familiar, Dollhouse fans?) amid a series of scheduling moves that include reality juggernaut American Idol moving to Wednesdays and Thursdays this January. Fringe will make the move beginning January 28th and it's already potentially a sign that the writing is on the wall for the sci-fi drama, now in its third season. Traditionally the death slot for television series, Friday nights often signal that a series is on its way out the door. Whether this proves to be the case for Fringe remains to be seen, but it's not a promising move, even if the series has been underperforming on Thursdays. (Sigh.) The full press release from Fox can be found below. FOX ANNOUNCES 2010-2011 MIDSEASON SCHEDULE “AMERICAN IDOL” MOVES TO WEDNESDAYS AND THURSDAYS WITH TWO-NIGHT SEASON PREMIERE WEDNESDAY, JAN. 19 AND THURSDAY, JAN. 20 FOX TUESDAYS CONTINUE TO SING WITH DEBUT OF

AOL Television's Skype Second Opinion: Community's "Conspiracy Theories and Soft Defenses"

What did you think of last night's episode of Community ? This week marked another go on AOL Television's Skype Second Opinions, where I connected via Skype to ramble on for a few minutes about this week's episode of Community ("Conspiracy Theories and Soft Defenses"), which included a vast array of conspiracy theories, an incredibly sprawling blanket fort (village?), gunfire, confessions of true love, Dean Pelton, lessons, Professor S. Professorson, fake night school courses ("Learning!" "Reading?" "Introduction to Basics"), and more than I could possibly fit into this wee paragraph. (If you couldn't guess, I loved this week's episode.) You can watch the video in full over here at AOL Television or right below. In two weeks on Community ("Mixology Certification"), when the study group convenes to celebrate Troy's birthday, they realize he is actually turning 21 and decide to hit the bars; Jeff and Britta

Entrances and Exits: An Advance Review of the Next Two Episodes of Fringe

There's always a sense of walking a tightrope when reviewing a mythology-heavy installment of any series, but particularly with FOX's Fringe , which thrives on the unexpected and inexplicable. Revealing sensitive information or plot twists has the ability to take much of the fun out of the proceedings, really, especially when they're as well plotted as they are here. Earlier this week, I sat down to watch DVD screeners of the sensational next two episodes of Fringe ("The Abducted" and "Entrada"), the first of which airs this week while the second airs on 12/2, taking a turkey-based break of a week. Sitting comfortably within the grand design of the current third season of the series, the episodes split their time on either side of the dimensional divide as "our" Olivia Dunham attempts to find a way back through the invisible veil separating the two worlds. On the other side of the curtain, the "other" Olivia is making preparatio

Fathers and Sons: Conflict and Compassion on Friday Night Lights

After last week's Julie Taylor-related catastrophe, I was extremely pleased that this week's episode of Friday Night Lights ("Keep Looking"), written by Bridget Carpenter and directed by Todd McMullen, fell back into the pattern of greatness that the series is known for. This week's episode offered an examination of the often contentious relationship between fathers and sons, summed up in the juxtaposition of Vince's struggles with his ex-con father Ornette and Buddy's attempts to drum some tough love into his angsty teenage son Buddy Jr. In this case the dynamics were flipped on their head, with Vince struggling to determine whether he could trust his father, and laying down the law now that he's reentered his and his mother's lives. While his mom is happy to dwell on the more rose-colored memories of the past, Vince can't let go of what his father's absence meant to the family, the missed birthdays and moments, and the fact that he bl

Deck the TARDIS: Doctor Who Christmas Special Comes to BBC America on Christmas Day

It seems as though Doctor Who fans in the States are definitely on the nice list. BBC America has today announced that the latest Doctor Who Christmas Special--entitled "A Christmas Carol"--will air on Saturday, December 25th at 9 pm ET/PT. In other words, on Christmas Day itself, a first for the British sci-fi series. The Dickens-inspired installment, written by head writer/executive producer Steven Moffat, is described by BBC America thusly: "Newlyweds Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) are joined by Harry Potter ’s Michael Gambon and Opera diva Katherine Jenkins, for what may be the Doctor’s most Christmassy adventure yet." “Oh, we're going for broke with this one," said Moffat in an official statement. "It's all your favorite Christmas movies at once, in an hour, with monsters. And the Doctor. And a honeymoon. And ... oh, you'll see. I've honestly never been so excited about writing anything. I was laughing

The Daily Beast: "The Naughty Side of The Good Wife"

Yes, I'm in love with The Good Wife . Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, entitled "The Naughty Side of The Good Wife ," in which I speak to creators Robert and Michelle King and series lead Julianna Margulies about topical plots (masseuse scandal!), wonky cameos (Lou Dobbs!), and adult sexuality (oral sex on CBS!), all of which add up to The Good Wife being one of the best--and most consistently challenging--shows on TV. But that's not all. In addition to the in-depth interview/thinkpiece on the show, I also got the Kings and Margulies to offer character-specific teases (read: minor spoilers) about what's coming up for Alicia, Peter, Will, Kalinda, Cary, Blake, and more in the second season. (You can read their take here in the gallery .) What's your take on the show? Head to the comments section to discuss.

Chuck's Fear of Death Left Me Cold

I always find it disappointing when an episode of Chuck fails to live up to my expectations and this week's episode ("Chuck Versus the Fear of Death"), written by Nicholas Wootton and directed by Robert Duncan McNeill, definitely did not live up to the momentum created in the wake of "Chuck Versus the First Fight." I'm sure it wasn't helped by the fact that the series took a week off between installments but this week's episode also seemed all the more weak in comparison to the previous episode, which set up some new subplots and a potential new direction to the overarching mythology. This week's episode... felt more than a little like filler. Way too much weight given to a flimsy Buy More plot involving this week's Greta, Summer Glau, who had little to do other than prance around angrily, flick open a knife concealed in a thigh holster, and eat some product placement. If I'm being brutally honest: it wasn't a good use of Glau at

NBC Announces Midseason Schedule, Third Hour of Comedy, Return of Parks and Recreation

I just left the first post-merger bureau meeting to learn that NBC had announced its midseason schedule, complete with a few scheduling shifts (cough, Parenthood ), a third hour of comedy on Thursdays (along with a renewal for 30 Rock , when it all goes pear-shaped), and a few missing series as well. ( Love Bites and Friends with Benefits , I'm looking at you.) And, most importantly, a announcement about the long-delayed return of Parks and Recreation , which returns to the schedule on January 20th in a new timeslot of 9:30 pm ET/PT, right after The Office . (About time it got this plum timeslot as well.) I'm off to an interview but I'm curious to know what you think about the new schedule, the musical chairs, and the return to Pawnee. Head to the comments section to discuss. The full schedule can be found below, along with the official press release from NBC. NBC ANNOUNCES NEW MID-SEASON SCHEDULE UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – November 15, 2010 – NBC today made several mid

Monkey Business: Community's Bottle Episode Shines

If you missed last night's episode of Community ("Cooperative Calligraphy"), written by Megan Ganz and directed by Joe Russo, you missed out on not just a hilarious and accomplished installment but the very best bottle episode ever to air on television. The search for Annie's missing pen transformed the group into separate individuals, as paranoia and suspicion ripped our community asunder, accusations and frustrations rearing their ugly head as the gang shut themselves into the study room to figure out what fate befell that gel-grip purple pen. It wasn't about the pen, of course. It was, as I said in my glowing advance review of "Cooperative Calligraphy," about the way in which something insignificant can become something monumental, how a mountain can be made of an anthill, how a pen can become the thing that divides a group. The pen, in this case, is most definitely more powerful than the sword. (And especially scissors, proven here.) By strippin

Not So Lucky Four-Leaf Clover: AMC Cancels Rubicon

It's official: AMC has announced that they will not be renewing Rubicon for a second season. The series, produced by Warner Horizon Television, premiered in early August on AMC. AMC made the following statement about the cancellation: " Rubicon gave us an opportunity to tell a rich and compelling story, and we're proud of the series. This was not an easy decision, but we are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such a phenomenally talented and dedicated team." I do have to say that I'm surprised by the decision, given that when I met with AMC President and General Manager Charlie Collier and Joel Stillerman, senior vice president of original programming, a few weeks back for a feature for The Daily Beast , they seemed more positive about a possible pickup, telling me that a decision would be reached in the next few weeks. It was. Rubicon , despite its much publicized launch numbers (at the time the highest rated original series launch for the

Striving to Be Better: Expectations and Deviations on Friday Night Lights

I'm just going to say it upfront: I'm hating Julie's storyline. I always like to give Friday Night Lights the benefit of the doubt when it comes to storytelling (except, maybe, for the murder conspiracy storyline in Season Two ), but the weakness of the current college plot for Julie Taylor (Aimee Teegarden) was all the more apparent this week when it was juxtaposed with the strength and grace of the storyline for Vince (Michael B. Jordan). This week's episode of Friday Night Lights ("The Right Hand of the Father"), written by Patrick Massett and John Zinman and directed by David Boyd, attempted to balance the two plots, as well as a third about striving to be a better person in light of last week's disastrous party and the drunken behavior of Maura (Denise Williamson) but it didn't quite all come together for me in the end, due to the lackluster nature of that Julie subplot. Which is a bit of a disappointment, as Jordan's Vince delivered some