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Showing posts from May, 2011

The Daily Beast: "Summer 2011 TV Preview: 15 Reasons to Watch TV This Summer"

We’re starting our summer at a bit of a disadvantage: there is no new season of Mad Men to look forward to this year, as we’ll have to wait until March 2012 to find out what happens to Don Draper and the other staffers at Draper Cooper Sterling Pryce. It’s enough to put a damper on anyone’s television-viewing this summer, but there are still some bright points amid a series of repeats and burn-offs like NBC’s Love Bites . (Seriously, avoid that one like you would the plague.) Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, entitled "Summer 2011 TV Preview: 15 Reasons to Watch TV This Summer," in which I round up what’s new and noteworthy on the telly in the coming months, from True Blood and Torchwood: Miracle Day to British period drama The Hour and the return of Damages and Breaking Bad . All in all, 15 reasons to come in from the warmth of the summer evening and sit down on the couch for a few hours. What are you most excited about heading to the small scree

The Littlest Finger: More Than One Way to Skin a Deer on Game of Thrones

"I did warn you not to trust me." - Littlefinger The world of George R.R. Martin's novels depicts the internal landscape as much as it does the external and epic; the plots of "A Game of Thrones" and the subsequent books in the "A Song of Ice and Fire" novel series balances on a knife's edge between grand battles and stirring soliloquies enacted by the chapters' viewpoint narrator. In a television show, we're denied the ability to enter into the characters' minds, to slip away behind the eyes and see the truths that they keep hidden from everyone but themselves, to hear the words that they whisper as they fall asleep, to see the lies that they tell others. Instead, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have had to create ways of sharing information without it seeming obtrusive; the medium largely demands scenes of action rather than long drawn-out moments of inaction. And in this week's episode of Game of Thrones ("You Win

The Daily Beast: "2010-11 TV's Winners and Losers"

The dust has settled on the TV season— American Idol and The Good Wife are in, The Event and $#*! My Dad Says are out. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, entitled "2010-11 TV's Winners and Losers," in which I rate the hits and the flops of the 2010-11 season and take a look at the broadcasters' position going into and coming out of the 2010-11 television season. Brief caveat: please do remember (because I inevitably will receive something to this effect in the comments section), this isn't a critical evaluation. While certainly some shows I love (cough, The Good Wife , cough) did end up in the winners' column , this is more a look at how individual shows and networks fared in terms of series launches, ratings retention, and (to a smaller extent) critically.

The Daily Beast: "The Death of Will-They-or-Won't-They"

In recent years, it’s been a given that romantic pairs on television had to be subjected to the will-they or-won't-they dilemma—where couples as clearly in love as Ross-and-Rachel, Sam-and-Diane, or Jim-and-Pam were prevented from jumping into bed together for years, as the writers forced them through increasingly tight narrative hoops. These days, though, it seems like more and more TV couples just will. As writer-producers have sought to surprise the audience, they’re puncturing romantic tropes in the process. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "The Death of Will-They-or-Won't-They," for which I talk to Community ’s Dan Harmon, Parks and Recreation ’s Mike Schur and Greg Daniels, and Bones ’ Hart Hanson about how TV is throwing off that age-old will-they-or-won’t-they paradigm in the post-Jim-and-Pam era.

The Daily Beast: "Michelle Forbes' Good Grief" (The Killing)

Michelle Forbes has been a TV mainstay since the mid-'90s when she was on Homicide: Life on the Street —she's appeared on 24, Prison Break, Battlestar Galactica, In Treatment , and True Blood . But her role on the AMC mystery The Killing as the destroyed-by-grief mother of the dead girl at the center of the story has gotten her more attention than ever. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "Michelle Forbes' Good Grief," in which I sit down with Forbes (for a nearly four-hour-long lunch, in fact) and talk to her about her career, playing the anguished Mitch Larsen, and why committing to a TV show is like an arranged marriage. The Killing airs Sundays at 10 pm ET/PT on AMC.

As the Crow Flies, As the Lion Roars: A Golden Crown on Game of Thrones

"He was no dragon. Fire cannot kill a dragon." - Daenerys More than halfway through the season of HBO's Game of Thrones , we've come to what was arguably my favorite episode of the run so far (though, now that I've seen Episode Seven, I think I've changed my mind), which reveals several secrets lurking in the background of the series ("the seed is strong") and begins to move the players into place for the climactic gamesmanship ahead. On this week's episode of Game of Thrones ("A Golden Crown"), written by Jane Espenson, David Benioff, and D.B. Weiss and directed by Daniel Minahan, it's an installment that revolves around changes both great and small, about the way the scales can fall from our eyes and we can see the truth that has been standing in front of us for so long. For Ned, it's a realization of just why Jon Arryn died, of the terrible secret he had gleaned from the book of royal lineages, and just what this could mean

The Daily Beast: "Upfronts 2011 Full Report"

Television's upfronts week came to a close Thursday with the CW, which will bring Sarah Michelle Gellar back to TV with the thriller Ringer . On Wednesday, CBS presented J.J. Abrams' Person of Interest and five others, showed off new Two and a Half Men star Ashton Kutcher, and moved The Good Wife to Sundays. ABC, meanwhile, unveiled its schedule Tuesday; Fox and NBC did their dance for advertisers on Monday. Watch trailers of the networks' new shows, including ABC's Charlie's Angels reboot, Fox's supernatural drama Alcatraz , and troubled NBC's The Playboy Club . Over at The Daily Beast, we're keeping track of every renewal and cancellation (and which shows are still in limbo) and well as keeping an eye on the bigger picture issues facing the broadcasters this May. Plus, we've got the lowdown--in-depth breakdowns as well as information you can't find anywhere else--on the 44 (and counting) new series heading to the networks next season.

The Daily Beast: "Pregnant in Heels' Mama Drama"

While you’d think watching rich mothers outdo each other for luxurious maternity would be repellant, the star of Bravo’s addictive--and unexpectedly poignant--reality-TV series Pregnant in Heels , Rosie Pope of New York City's Rosie Pope Maternity, grounds it. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Pregnant in Heels ' Mama Drama," in which I talk to Rosie Pope about motherhood, demanding clients, IVF ordeals, and her alleged speech impediment, recently satirized on Saturday Night Live . Pregnant in Heels airs Tuesdays at 10 pm ET/PT on Bravo.

Crossroads: The Milk of Mother's Kindness on Game of Thrones

"Some doors close forever. Others open in most unexpected places." - Varys When it is wise to commit a horrific act in the name of the greater good? Does one life matter more than that of millions? Can you cross a moral line in order to keep a larger peace? Such questions of moral relativism hovered over this week's fantastic episode of Game of Thrones ("The Wolf and the Lion"), written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss and directed by Brian Kirk, which presented both King Robert and Ned Stark with a weighty dilemma: do they act to keep the peace and murder a pregnant girl? Is Daenerys' existence alone enough the shatter the tenuous union of the Seven Kingdoms? By employing an assassin, would they avert a larger war down the road? Should she and her brother have been murdered as children? By allowing them to survive, did they curse themselves to a potential Dothraki invasion from across the Narrow Sea? And if Robert gets his way and Dany is slain by some se

Paintball Battle Royale: Thoughts on the Season Finale of Community

If there's a show that knows how to throw a curveball (or a paintball), that seems to relish deflecting your expectations, it's NBC's Community . The delightfully absurdist comedy wrapped up its season tonight with the second half of a two-part episode ("For A Few Paintballs Or More") that continued the paintball assassin-exploits of last week's Sergio Leone-style spaghetti Western. In looking to top last season's jaw-dropping paintball-themed "Modern Warfare," executive producer Dan Harmon and Company have delivered an astonishing combination of Westerns and Star Wars , paintball and mind games, Stormtroopers, Black Riders, and, er, saloon dancers. (Yes, Vicki, I'm looking at you.) Tonight's season finale firmly embraces the gonzo style of those previous episodes, creating an episode that is both an absurdist adventure plot and the culmination of the entire season's overarching plotlines: Jeff's need to

Bridge to Nowhere: Quick Thoughts on the Third Season Finale of Fringe

It's no secret that I love Fringe . I've written numerous features and posts celebrating the way in which it blends science fiction with nuanced emotional drama, positioning the fractured characters of the Bishops and Olivia Dunham as a makeshift family studying the mysteries of the universe... and the human heart. Which might be why I was so monumentally disappointed with the Season Three finale ("The Day We Died"), which aired on Friday evening. After a season that was so tremendously emotional, which delivered a series of staggering performances from John Noble, Anna Torv, and Joshua Jackson in two separate, parallel universes, my expectations were extremely high indeed. But what I found with the future-set finale was that I didn't care about "these" versions of Olivia, Walter, and Peter and that the drama here felt entirely manufactured and without emotional weight, destroying the intense momentum established within the last few episodes. It was clea

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 blame

Put an End to My Troubles: Getting to Know the Mystery on the Season Finale of Justified

If there is any justice in the world--our world, that is, and not the rough-and-tumble Harlan County--Margo Martindale will walk away with an Emmy nomination (and, one imagines, a win) for her jaw-dropping performance as Mags Bennett this season. Tough-as-nails and quick with her rapier wit, Mags was a top-notch schemer with the brutality to match her Machiavellian machinations, and Martindale brought her to life with all of the grit and dust of the Kentucky mountains intact. And if there was a highlight of the second season of FX's sensational and atmospheric lawman drama Justified , a season overflowing with dramatic highs and serpentine plot twists galore, it was Martindale's accomplished turn as the head of the Bennetts, a pot-growing clan that has been enmeshed in a feud with the Givens for seventy years. Would Mags and Raylan bury the hatchet? Or bury it in each other's backs? That was the question swirling around the season finale, one populated by several other comp

Days of Future Past: Thoughts as the Season Finale of Fringe Approaches

First off, I haven't seen the third season finale of Fringe ("The Day We Died"), airing this Friday, so anything I say here is based purely on conjecture rather than inside information, spoilers, or pre-knowledge of the episode. Personally, I'm feverish with anticipation for this episode. (And, no, it's not just the flu-like symptoms I've come down with at the moment.) After pulling the rug out from underneath the viewer in the last episode--the doomsday machine seemingly sends Peter 15 years into the future (more on that in a bit)--this season finale arrives with a huge amount of momentum from this season's strong forward movement. The fates of two universes hang in the balance as Peter entered the machine--with Olivia's cortexiphan-derived help--at the end of last week's sensational episode, and seemingly chose "our" world to survive rather than the one "Over There." The promo shown at the end of last week's episode (as w

The Water Dance: Snow Falls on Game of Thrones

"Everyone who isn't us is an enemy." - Cersei The brutality of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros--and the vantage point of the Lannister clan--is eloquently summed up in Queen Cersei's words of advice to the young prince Joffrey: it's a paranoid and arrogant declaration of their family's separation from the rest of mankind, a testament to the roar of the Lannister pride and of Cersei's own suspicious nature. Trust no one, she tells her son. This is, after all, a woman involved in an incestuous romance with her twin brother, willing to conspire in the death of a ten-year-old boy in order to protect their dark secret. (It's also a creepy scene in which she instructs her son to sleep with "painted whores" or virtuous virgins if he wishes, in addition to bedding his betrothed when the time comes.) In this week's episode of Game of Thrones ("Lord Snow"), written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and directed by Brian Kirk, we're give

Six Feet Under: What You Have Left on The Killing

"Who you are is five words: 'dead girl in a trunk.'" - Jamie While The Killing is largely about the investigation into the death of Rosie Larsen, it's as much an investigation into the lives of those left behind, an existential discussion of the way in which death invades our lives and how grief, often the only thing you have left after a loved one dies, can transform into rage. That a loving couple can become squabbling rivals in an argument that no one wins, or how a father's love can become misguided vengeance. This week's episode of The Killing ("What You Have Left"), written by Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Agnieszka Holland, traces both ends of the spectrum, following Linden and Holder as they attempt to ensnare Bennet Ahmed, Rosie's teacher and currently the prime suspect in her murder, and the Larsen family as they bury Rosie and attempt to make their peace with her passing. Bennet's alibi is rapidly unraveling this week as Lin

The Daily Beast: "The 8 Best Pilot Scripts of 2011"

The network upfronts—when the broadcasters unveil their fall schedules, tout their new programming, and bring out stars to shake hands with advertisers—are the week of May 16, but it’s never too soon to take a look at which shows you might become addicted to next season. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, entitled "The 8 Best Pilot Scripts of 2011," in which I pick my favorite scripts--from the period dramas Playboy and Pan Am to the Sarah Michelle Gellar-starring noir thriller Ringer and Kyle Killen's mind-bending drama REM . What shows are you rooting for? Which will make the cut as the networks unveil their fall schedules in the coming weeks? Head to the comments section to discuss...