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Showing posts from March, 2012

The Daily Beast: "Game of Thrones' Glorious Return"

Season Two of the Emmy-nominated fantasy series Game of Thrones begins on Sunday night. And it’s fantastic. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Game of Thrones ' Glorious Return," a review of the first four episodes of Season Two of HBO's superlative drama, based on the A Song of Ice and Fire novel series by George R.R. Martin. "Season Two of Game of Thrones is fantastic, overflowing with majesty and mystery," I write. "The night, we’re told, is dark and full of terror, and so is this provocative and enthralling show." After the ratings and critical heights scaled by the first season of HBO’s Game of Thrones , expectations are dangerously high for the launch of Season 2, which begins this Sunday. Based on the second volume ( A Clash of Kings ) in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, Game of Thrones has a lot to prove to fans of both the books and of the award-winning HBO drama. Can it top the addict

The Daily Beast: "Game of Thrones Season Two for Dummies"

HBO's fantasy series Game of Thrones returns Sunday for a second season with its jargon and (most of its) vast cast of characters intact. Who is the Red Woman? What's the significance of a white raven? What's the difference between the Lord of Light and the Drowned God? I've got you covered with a new glossary that breaks down the jargon of Season 2 of Game of Thrones , returning Sunday at 9 p.m. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Game of Thrones Season Two for Dummies," in which I break down who's who and what's what in the second season of HBO's sweeping fantasy drama. There are actually two features in one: an alphabetical glossary of terminology, places, and concepts within the second season and a gallery that breaks down the 15 new and newish characters (from Melisandre to Xaro Xhoan Daxos) that we meet this season. In its first season, Game of Thrones—based on George R.R. Martin’s behemoth A Song of Ice and

The Daily Beast: "Gillian Anderson is Back!"

Gillian Anderson, famous for The X-Files , stuns as Miss Havisham in Sunday’s Great Expecations . She tells me about turning down Downton Abbey , her British accent—and possibly playing Scully again. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "Gillian Anderson is Back!" in which I talk to the former star of The X-Files about whether she's open to reprising her role as Dana Scully, playing Miss Havisham, turning down Downton Abbey , her accent, and her new television project, The Fall . Gillian Anderson is no stranger to strange worlds. The former star of The X-Files, which became a worldwide hit and spawned two feature films, Anderson has, for now anyway, traded in Dana Scully’s FBI-issued handgun and severe suits for the tight-laced corsets and flowing frocks of such period dramas as Bleak House, The House of Mirth, Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, The Crimson Petal and the White, Moby Dick, and Any Human Heart, in which she played a delici

The Daily Beast: "Rewind: Rome Burns in I, Claudius"

Thirty-five years ago, PBS captivated audiences with the blood-and-sex-laden ancient-Roman soap I, Claudius , which is still influential. A new DVD version comes out Tuesday. Over at The Daily Beast, it's the first of a new series called Rewind, which will look back at a television show or film that has proven to resonate. You can read my latest feature, "Rome Burns in I, Claudius ," in which I take a look at PBS' ancient Rome-set drama, which celebrates the 35th anniversary of its U.S. broadcast this year. I, Claudius celebrates the 35th anniversary of its U.S. broadcast this year. A rapt and devoted audience consumed this spellbinding ancient-Rome period drama when it first aired in 1976 on the BBC in the U.K., and in 1977 on PBS’ Masterpiece Theatre. Starring Derek Jacobi as the titular character and featuring some of the best boldface names in British acting circles, the Emmy Award–winning show—which ran 12 episodes and is today being released as a remaster

Games People Play: Thoughts on the Fifth Season Premiere of Mad Men

"Nobody loves Dick Whitman." It's been seventeen long months since we last saw Mad Men and the breathless two-hour season premiere goes a long way towards curbing our addiction, quickly bringing us up to speed in the changes within the lives of Don Draper (Jon Hamm), Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss), Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks), Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser), and the rest of the ad men at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. If Season Four began with a provocative question ("Who is Don Draper?"), the fifth season opener ("A Little Kiss"), written by Matthew Weiner and directed by Jennifer Getzinger, begins with more than a few declarative statements, about both the characters and the era in which they live, and those four little words, uttered by Megan (Jessica Paré), speak volumes about the sort of relationship Don is enmeshed in when Season Five begins. For a man who cloaked himself with secrets as a woman might a mink coat, Don Draper is li

The Daily Beast: "What Happened to NBC’s Smash?"

While the pilot was a hit with critics, few have been happy with NBC’s Smash since. How could things have gone so wrong, so quickly? Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature , in which I offer my take on NBC's Smash , which started out with such promise but has turned into a head-scratching mess of a show. (Also, said story is being advertised on the site as, "A Jace Lacob rant." Ha!) What has happened to Smash? Despite a pilot episode that was praised by critics, Smash went from must-see TV to stumbling, face first, into the orchestra pit in a matter of weeks. While the show will be back next season after a renewal last week, the show’s creator, Theresa Rebeck, won’t be returning. That has to be a boon, given how uneven Smash has been. For every well-done and lavish musical number, there have been countless appalling elements each week. One of the concerns about Smash going in was that it would be too insular: that its depiction of the rush to

The Daily Beast: "Amy Poehler Talks to Rachel Dratch About Her Memoir"

If you're at all like me, you love Amy Poehler. And if you're at all like me and Amy Poehler, you also love Rachel Dratch. At The Daily Beast, I had a hand in today's interview feature, in which Parks and Recreation 's Poehler interviews her former Saturday Night Live colleague and long-time friend about her new memoir, out this week, as well as about motherhood, ghosts, the prairie, and more. In her new autobiography, Girl Walks Into a Bar…: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle , former Saturday Night Live star Rachel Dratch—the rubber-faced comedian behind Debbie Downer and Abe Scheinwald, to name two of her creations—comes clean about growing up, life behind the scenes on SNL , what happened with 30 Rock , dating possible cannibals, and her life now that she’s in her forties and a first-time mother. When Dratch was performing with improv comedy troupe Second City in Chicago, her understudy was an up-and-comer named Amy Poehler, who woul

The Daily Beast: "Mad Men: Where We Left Off"

Who remembers what happened 17 months ago? No one! Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Mad Men : Where We Left Off," for which I re-watched every episode of Season 4 of Mad Men (in a 36-hour period) in order to remind you where we left Don Draper, Peggy Olson, Joan, and the rest of the characters when the season ended. Television, like advertising, is typically a swift-moving beast. But it’s been a staggering 17 months since Mad Men aired its last episode. At the time, no one could have predicted that it would be March 2012 before AMC aired the highly anticipated fifth season of Mad Men , which returns this Sunday evening with a sensational two-hour season premiere. The reasons behind the delay are known far and wide, as protracted and very public contract renegotiations behind the scenes of Mad Men resulted in a longer than expected hiatus between seasons, and the show’s devoted audience is only too keen to catch up with the staffers of 1960s

The Daily Beast: "From J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Novels to Real Life: The Sport of Quidditch Takes Flight"

In the Harry Potter universe as created by J.K. Rowling, the sport of Quidditch plays an important and exciting role. On college campuses around the country, a generation of young adults who grew up reading about the exploits of Harry and his friends, have transformed the fictional sport into reality. At The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, entitled, "From J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Novels to Real Life: The Sport of Quidditch Takes Flight." While it's off my usual beat, I decided to delve into the real-world sport of Quidditch and attend the Western Cup last weekend (along with a practice or two with the UCLA Quidditch team beforehand) and write about this cult phenomenon, a blend of rugby, basketball, and dodgeball. (And, yes, a little bit of tag as well.) There's also a gallery-based second feature that includes photography from the tournament , as well as more details about the rules, players, and world of "Muggle Quidditch." The bone-cr

The Daily Beast: "HBO Axes Michael Mann/David Milch Drama Luck"

Nick Nolte in HBO's 'Luck', Gusmano Cesaretti / HBO After the death of a third horse on set, HBO has announced the end of Luck . Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my take on HBO's decision to cancel Luck , just weeks after a second-season renewal on the Michael Mann-David Milch horseracing drama. Luck has appeared to run out for HBO's Luck. Following a third horse death on the set of the racetrack drama, as first reported Tuesday by TMZ, premium cable network HBO today announced that it has decided to stop production on the low-rated show, citing animal-safety concerns. Luck, created by Michael Mann and David Milch, had already been renewed for a second season, despite meager ratings. “The two of us loved this series, loved the cast, crew and writers," Milch and Mann wrote in a joint statement. "This has been a tremendous collaboration and one that we plan to continue in the future.” The nine episodes comprising Season 1 of Luck were already

The Daily Beast: "Spring TV Preview: 9 Shows to Watch, 4 Shows to Skip"

With the return of Mad Men and Game of Thrones , spring is officially here. Over at The Daily Beast, I offer a rundown of what’s worth watching over the next few months, and what you can skip altogether. You can read my Spring TV Preview intro here , which puts the next few months into perspective, and then head over to the gallery feature to read "9 Shows to Watch, 4 Shows to Skip," which includes such notables as Mad Men, Community, Game of Thrones, VEEP, Girls, Bent , and others... and those you should just skip, like Magic City, Missing , etc. What shows are you most looking forward to this spring? And which ones are you pretending don't exist at all? Head to the comments section to discuss...

The Daily Beast: "The Good Wife: Robert and Michelle King on Alicia, Kalinda, Renewal Prospects, and More"

After a few missteps at the beginning of the season, Season Three of CBS' The Good Wife has settled into its groove. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " The Good Wife Gets Back on Track," in which I sit down with the show’s husband-and-wife creators, Robert and Michelle King, and discuss the highs and lows of the season, the Alicia/Kalinda dynamic, the handling of various romances, Will, Cary, Wendy Scott-Carr, Caitlin, renewal prospects, and what’s to come. (Along with much more, including the answer to "What ever happened to Imani?") Coming off of a taut and provocative second season, CBS’s The Good Wife reset itself in many ways when Season 3 began in September: pushing together prim Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies)—who had struggled to remain faithful to her husband, Peter (Chris Noth)—with her boss and former flame, Will Gardner (Josh Charles), while creating a chasm in what might be the drama’s most central dynamic, the f