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Showing posts from June, 2011

Time Flies: Thoughts on the Season Premiere of HBO's True Blood

I don't know about you, but I'm kind of sick of faeries, and it's only the first episode of the season... In my advance review, I was extremely upfront about my feelings about the handling of the faerie court and the opening sequence of the first episode of Season Four of True Blood ("She's Not There"), written by Alexander Woo and directed by Michael Lehmann, which depicted just what happened to Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) after she disappeared into the light at the end of last season. What we encounter is a seemingly, well, fairy tale kingdom where human-faerie hybrids snack on light fruits and hang out interminably by a lush fountain courtyard. Alas, nothing is as it seems and all that glitters is not gold... the tranquility that the tableau presents is once more a false front, a shiny facade concealing the waste and desolation of the faerie realm, which looks rather like the dusty canyons near Calabasas. What follows is a B-movie chase as faeries

Time Flies: Thoughts on the Season Premiere of HBO's True Blood

I don't know about you, but I'm kind of sick of faeries, and it's only the first episode of the season... In my advance review, I was extremely upfront about my feelings about the handling of the faerie court and the opening sequence of the first episode of Season Four of True Blood ("She's Not There"), written by Alexander Woo and directed by Michael Lehmann, which depicted just what happened to Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) after she disappeared into the light at the end of last season. What we encounter is a seemingly, well, fairy tale kingdom where human-faerie hybrids snack on light fruits and hang out interminably by a lush fountain courtyard. Alas, nothing is as it seems and all that glitters is not gold... the tranquility that the tableau presents is once more a false front, a shiny facade concealing the waste and desolation of the faerie realm, which looks rather like the dusty canyons near Calabasas. What follows is a B-movie chase as faeries

Faerie Tales: An Advance Review of Season Four of True Blood

We're heading back to Bon Temps at long last, as Season Four of HBO's libidinous and deliciously addictive vampire drama True Blood kicks off this weekend. When we last caught up with Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) and the other denizens of the sleepy Louisiana town turned supernatural hot spot, she had vanished into the light with her faerie godmother after learning that her vampire paramour, Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) had perhaps not been quite so honest about the circumstances surrounding their first meeting. In true, er, True Blood fashion, multiple characters were either placed into jeopardy or decided to flee Bon Temps altogether in the third season ender, which closed a creatively uneven season that overflowed with vampire kings, werewolves, drug-induced nightmare visions, and creepy baby dolls. With Season Four, showrunner Alan Ball has the opportunity to right the cart a bit, introducing an overarching storyline that involves witchcraft and some devious spirit

The Daily Beast: "Inside True Blood's Fourth Season"

True Blood withdrawal getting you down? Fret not, fangbangers. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, entitled "Inside True Blood 's Fourth Season, " in which I sit down with executive producer/showrunner Alan Ball about the fourth season of the HBO vampire drama at his Hollywood office to get some details on what's to come this season. If that weren't enough True Blood -related deliciousness for you, you can also check out "Nine Things to Know About Season 4 of True Blood ," in which Ball teases what's to come for Sookie, Eric, Pam, Tara, Jessica and Hoyt, the faeries, the witches, and more. And there might be a hint or two about what's to come in Season Five as well... Season Four of True Blood begins this Sunday evening at 9 pm ET/PT on HBO.

Underworld: Orpheus Descending on the Season Finale of The Killing

I'll admit that I was completely unprepared for the level of vitriol directed at last night's season finale of The Killing ("Orpheus Descending"), written by Veena Sud and Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Brad Anderson. It wasn't a perfect season finale (it was woefully clunky and odd at times), but I also don't think that the series ender--or the first season itself--are worthy of the amount of gasoline that is being poured on it. For some, it's one match away from becoming an incendiary, because it failed to answer the series' central question: Who killed Rosie Larsen? Which is where I feel as though I have been watching a completely different series than other viewers. I'm not going to try to convince anybody that they were wrong to hate the finale, because this level of anger doesn't vanish thanks to some talking points. Television is a hugely subjective medium and our personal experiences with shows are just that: personal. What I will

Throne of Iron, Throne of Dust: Thoughts on the Season Finale of HBO's Game of Thrones

When all we have in life is stripped away from us, what do we have left? What is life worth then? These questions hover over the breathtaking finale of HBO's Game of Thrones ("Fire and Blood"), written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss and directed by Alan Taylor, which depicts transformative moments in the lives of several characters, who must come to terms with not only palpable grief but also the realization that a brutal new status quo is upon them. It's a somber throughline that links the separate story threads of Daenerys, Arya, Sansa, and Catelyn, each of whom suffers a grievous loss and who must find their inner strength to face the day again. For a series that engendered some criticism at its outset from critics and viewers about its depiction of women, particularly the lead female characters at its center, it's a remarkable turning point. Each of these women has suffered at the hands of their enemies, losing the men in their lives, until they must st

Winter is Coming: Game of Thrones Live Chat Set for Monday at The Daily Beast

Just a heads up that I'll be conducting a live chat over at The Daily Beast on Monday at 11 am PT/ 2 pm ET time to discuss the season finale of HBO's Game of Thrones ("Fire and Blood"), airing Sunday evening. Join me and other television critics--including AOLtv's Maureen Ryan, Time 's James Poniewozik, and Cultural Learnings' Myles McNutt--and Game of Thrones experts (such as the brains behind Westeros.org and Winter is Coming.Net) and fans, as we discuss the end of the groundbreaking first season and the various twists and turns therein. You can enter your email address below for a reminder ahead of time as we move closer to the live event. <p><a href="http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php/option=com_mobile/task=viewaltcast/altcast_code=b4ba98ee43" >Live Chat: Game of Thrones Season Finale</a></p> The season finale of Game of Thrones airs this Sun

Poster Boy/Poster Girl: Orpheus Rises on The Killing

Sometimes, the answer is staring at you right in the face. Other times, the truth lies far deeper beneath the surface, submerged inside the trunk of a mayoral campaign car. On this week's stunning episode of AMC's The Killing ("Beau Soleil"), written by Jeremy Doner and Soo Hugh and directed by Keith Gordon, the truth about Rosie Larsen's killer finally seemed within the grasp of Detectives Linden and Holder, or at the very least the initial prime suspect in the slaying of the teenage girl came back into the frame once more. Given that there is still one more episode left--likely one overflowing with further twists and turns--it's possible (but not all that probable) that there's still more to the story than we're seeing, another layer that's again deeper down in the murky water. But for now it seems as though the killer may have been unmasked. So what do I think about the latest twist to hit the rain-soaked drama series? Read on... It'

The Daily Beast: "TV Preview: Snap Judgments of 2011-2012's New Shows"

Will the 2011-12 television season be a winner or another dud? Over at The Daily Beast, my fellow Daily Beast staffer Maria Elena Fernandez and I offer our first impressions of more than 30 network pilots--from Awake and Ringer to Alcatraz and Work It --coming to TV next season. You can check out our he said/she said-style thoughts in my latest feature, entitled "TV Preview: Snap Judgments of 2011-2012's New Shows." Which fall or midseason show are you most excited about? And which are you most dreading? Head to the comments section to discuss, and see whether you agree with our first impression take on more than 30 broadcast network pilots. Did your potential favorite make the must-see list?

The Daily Beast: "Super 8: Stop Being So Secretive, J.J."

J.J. Abrams' Super 8 falls into some of the same traps as his other projects, setting up expectations of mysteries it can't possibly fulfill. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, entitled " Super 8 : Stop Being So Secretive, J.J.," in which I offer a memo to Abrams and discuss why the director needs to move on. And, just in case you haven't yet seen Super 8 , I'll offer up the following caveat. WARNING: Contains spoilers! What do you think? Has J.J. Abrams outgrown the mystery box? Does he need to stop cloaking his projects in such shrouds of secrecy that audiences come to expect the delivery of a major twist or surprise reveal that he's setting himself up to fail? Head to the comments section to discuss.

Songs for the Dead: The Blade Falls on Game of Thrones

Fly, fly away, little bird. Just like that, the stakes of George R.R. Martin's world became even higher, the pain even more intense, and the searing sense of loss all the more unbearable. These are cruel times that the Starks and their enemies find themselves. The quality of mercy, as we know, is not strained... but there are often greater reasons to restrain oneself from enacting punishment upon others. Sometimes the open hand is the wiser council than the keen edge of a blade. The cost of life--and the folly of youthful, headstrong kings--is keenly felt in the latest episode of HBO's Game of Thrones ("Baelor"), written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss and directed by Alan Taylor, which depicts one of the most shocking moments within the first season of the adaptation. For those of us who have read the novels, it didn't come as a surprise, but I will say that I was watching this with my wife--who has remained wholly unspoiled about any plot developments wi

The Daily Beast: "Game of Thrones' Sexual Politics"

While HBO hasn't shied away from abundant sex in the Game of Thrones books (even amping it up), the presence of rape within George R.R. Martin's novels has been nearly eliminated. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, entitled " Game of Thrones ' Sexual Politics," in which I examine why sex and violence, but not sexual violence, has played out on the show—and why some viewers and critics are angry. Do you agree with the assessment? Head to the comments section to discuss and debate, but remember: keep it fair.

The Quality of Mercy: The Pointy End or the Open Palm on Game of Thrones

"When you look at me, do you see a hero?" - Varys William Shakespeare's Portia said it best in The Merchant of Venice : "The quality of mercy is not strained/It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven." That is, mercy can't be forced; it's either a natural inclination or it isn't. Do you lean towards the pointy end of the sword or the open palm of mercy? Do you enact vengeance or forgiveness? Do you tread meekly or engage your enemy? In this week's episode of Game of Thrones ("The Pointy End"), written by George R.R. Martin and directed by Daniel Minahan, the notion of mercy hovered over the action as viewers saw multiple characters grapple with the questions above. Daenerys attempts to stop her bloodriders from taking their spoils of war when they encounter the sheep people, preventing the women of the tribe from being "honored" by the Dothraki on the ground. Robb chooses to free a Lannister scout rather than redden his b