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Showing posts from May, 2012

Summer 2012 TV Preview: 14 TV Shows Worth Watching This Summer

Summer has arrived and you might be tempted to think that, with the departure of spring, anything decent to watch on television has evaporated in the warmth and sunshine. Not so. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "Summer 2012 TV Preview: 14 TV Shows Worth Watching This Summer," in which I offer 14 new or noteworthy television shows to hold your interest during the sweltering months ahead. With the imminent conclusions of the current seasons of AMC’s Mad Men and HBO’s Game of Thrones , it might look as though we’re heading into a television no man’s land this summer. Not so: while the broadcaster networks are airing their usual fare of reality competitions— So You Think You Can Dance, The Bachelorette, Hell’s Kitchen , and America’s Got Talent are all on the schedule—and second-rate fare (NBC’s Saving Hope , to name one), there is still a ton of original programming to be seen. AMC’s Breaking Bad returns for the first half of its final season

The Chain: The Other Women on Mad Men

"At last, something beautiful you can truly own." At what price are we willing to sell our selves, our souls, our bodies? Is there a price or, for some, can we walk away knowing that we weren't able to be bought, no matter how much money was thrown into our faces? Or, for women in the 1960s, was there always someone who owned you outright, a pretty jaguar to be possessed whether you were wife or mistress? This week's installment brought these issues to the forefront, rendering an episode that was largely about the heartbreakingly quotidian objectification of women in the 1960s, as Joan (Christina Hendricks) prostitutes herself for a shot at a named partnership at SDCP, Megan (Jessica Paré) is reduced to a piece of meat at an audition, and Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) manages to leave Don after he literally throws money in her face. These three stories are threaded around the pitch for Jaguar, which itself deals in issues of objectification, ownership, and an easy misogy

The Daily Beast: "Revenge: The 10 Most Memorable Twists in the Wicked First Season"

In its first season, ABC’s Revenge offered numerous twists and turns. With the first season ending tonight, I look at the show’s most memorable moments so far. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Revenge : The 10 Most Memorable Twists in the Wicked First Season," in which I offer up the most surprising, exciting, or upsetting moments in the wicked drama to date. The first season of ABC’s Revenge wraps up tonight, likely leading to a major cliffhanger that will propel the Mike Kelley-created drama into its second year of betrayals, bait-and-switches, and vengeance plots, as Emily Thorne (Emily Van Camp) continues her campaign of destruction against the mercenary and venal Grayson clan. Revenge itself can be looked at in several ways: a revenge fantasy for the 99 percent against the wealthy ruling class embodied by the morally corrupt Graysons, an ensemble drama set in the heightened reality of green-screen backdrops where the high cost of privile

Misdirection: The Prince of Winterfell on Game of Thrones

I wasn't all that crazy about this week's episode of Game of Thrones ("The Prince of Winterfell"), written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and directed by Alan Taylor, which felt more like set-up for the final two episodes of the second season, than it did a fully fledged episode of its own. Which isn't to say that there weren't any fantastic moments, because there were (the Theon/Yara scene and Tyrion/Varys exchanges being two standouts), but this week's installments was overflowing with comings and goings... and a hell of a lot of waiting around to see what would happen next. On the one hand, this is a natural function of the narrative here as preparation are being made by Stannis (Stephen Dillane) and Ser Davos (Liam Cunningham) as they prepare to lay siege to King's Landing with their formidable fleet of ships... while Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and the small council attempt to fortify the royal city and strategize. In other words: waiting for th

Enterprise: Dancing Around the Issue on Mad Men

"You used to love your work." One of the thematic ribbons running through Mad Men has been the notion of how one either balances their work and home lives, attempts to merge them, or jeopardizes one through the pursuit of the other. Work is, well, work. It's something that might define us--especially several of the characters on Mad Men --but is also a means to an end ("That's what the money is for!") in terms of both financial stability, security, and glory. The modern hero's quest, one could argue, is a capitalist one: the accumulation of wealth and fame the end goal, things like family and relationships the necessary sacrifices along the way. On this week's episode of Mad Men ("Christmas Waltz"), written by Victor Levin and Matthew Weiner and directed By: Michael Uppendahl, the entire episode largely revolved around the notion of enterprise, both in a literal and figurative sense, with several characters engaged in risky, speculat

The Darkest Timeline: Quick Thoughts on Dan Harmon's Firing from Community

On Thursday evening, NBC burned off the final three episodes of Community ’s third season, 90 minutes of the remainder of the season haphazardly arranged around the 30 Rock finale. These well-received episodes tapped into the heart of what makes the offbeat comedy tick: 8-bit video games, an elaborate heist, and a trial over ownership rights to a sandwich shop. If this all seems gonzo and out there, that’s the point: Community blazed creative trails that were largely heretofore unseen on American broadcast network television. If this had marked the end of Community , it would have gone out with a bang that was both joyous and triumphant. NBC had rescued the show with an eleventh hour reprieve, granting it a 13-episode renewal and moving it to the graveyard of Friday nights. But whether Dan Harmon, whose contract expired at the end of the third season, would be returning to the show he created was still very much unknown when the end credits ran on the final episode. It was report

The Daily Beast: "Game of Thrones' Wild Card: Esmé Bianco"

At the heart of the ‘Game of Thrones’ sexposition controversy is Esmé Bianco’s Ros. At The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Game of Thrones ' Wild Card: Esmé Bianco," in which I sit down with Game of Thrones 's Bianco to talk about Ros, a character not in George R.R. Martin's novels, sexposition, nudity, THAT scene, and more. Fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones who have read the voluminous novels in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series upon which the show is based often have an edge over non-readers, given that they’re only too aware of what’s to come. But, in adapting Game of Thrones from Martin’s work, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss at times shift away from the texts to explore off-camera sequences, insert new twists and turns, and create new scenarios for the characters to face. In Season 1, Benioff and Weiss went so far to create an original character just for the show: prostitute Ros, who quickly fell into bed with se

The Daily Beast: "Bring on the New Shows!" (Upfronts 2012)

Over at The Daily Beast, we're keeping you up-to-date with all of the news, renewals, cancellations, and series orders coming out of this week's broadcast network upfronts. You can read our Network Scorecard , which keeps track of all of the renewals and cancelations as well as reactions to the scheduling changes and check out video promos for all of the networks' new shows. And you can read detailed descriptions--as well as insider information--about all of the new series heading to your television in the fall and spring. Jace Lacob and Maria Elena Fernandez take a look at what’s coming up and what’s coming back on TV this fall as television's network upfronts week comes to a close. The CW moved Supernatural to Wednesdays, ordered five new shows, renewed Hart of Dixie, and canceled Secret Circle and Ringer. CBS moved Two and a Half Men to Thursdays and The Mentalist to Sundays, while The Good Wife is staying put. ABC renewed Revenge (moving it to Sundays at 9 p.m.

The Daily Beast: "How The Killing Went Wrong"

While the uproar over the U.S. version of The Killing has quieted, the show is still a pale imitation of the Danish series on which it is based. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "How The Killing Went Wrong," in which I look at how The Killing has handled itself during its second season, and compare it to the stunning and electrifying original Danish series, Forbrydelsen , on which it is based. (I recently watched all 20 episodes of Forbrydelsen over a few evenings.) The original is a mind-blowing and gut-wrenching work of genius. It’s not necessary to rehash the anger that followed in the wake of the conclusion last June of the first season of AMC’s mystery drama The Killing, based on Søren Sveistrup’s landmark Danish show Forbrydelsen, which follows the murder of a schoolgirl and its impact on the people whose lives the investigation touches upon. What followed were irate reviews, burnished with the “burning intensity of 10,000 white-hot suns

The Daily Beast: "Dark Shadows for Dummies"

Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows doesn’t require a deep knowledge of the '60s gothic-horror TV show, but it helps—and my glossary and character gallery explain all! Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Dark Shadows for Dummies," in which I offer a fairly comprehensive glossary of characters, terms, and places from 45+ years of Dark Shadows continuity, several series, films, and a plethora of other materials. What is Parallel Time? Who is Angelique Bouchard? What is Widow's Hill? It's all in here. In the more than 45 years since Dark Shadows first premiered as an afternoon soap opera on ABC in June 1966, the series created by Dan Curtis has spawned numerous feature films, novels, television series, comic books, and even hit singles. Evolving from a standard soap opera into a supernatural horror-fest—overflowing with vampires, witches, ghosts, and H.P. Lovecraftian ancient beings (remember the Leviathans?)— Dark Shadows was a forerunner for m

The Daily Beast: "The Woman Behind New Girl"

As the first season of Fox’s breakout comedy New Girl comes to a close, creator Liz Meriwether talks to me about the blowback over star Zooey Deschanel and her character Jess’s “adorkable” qualities, the show's handling of sexuality, and girl-on-girl snark. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "The Woman Behind New Girl ," in which I sit down with New Girl creator Liz Meriwether to discuss the show's first season as a whole, reactions to Jess and her "adorkable" qualities, the show's handling of sexuality, girl-on-girl snark (particularly surrounding New Girl and Girls ), and more. One of the few comedy hits of the season, Fox’s New Girl, wraps its first season Tuesday night. Created by Elizabeth Meriwether (No Strings Attached), New Girl revolves around a socially awkward teacher, Jess (Zooey Deschanel), who—after discovering her boyfriend has cheated on her—moves in with three guys (Max Greenfield, Lamorne Morris, and Ja

The Daily Beast: "The Enduring Thrills of Dark Shadows"

Nearly 50 years ago, Gothic soap Dark Shadows hooked audiences with its spooky storylines and before-its-time remorseful vampire. Ahead of Tim Burton’s movie adaptation, a new DVD version of the show--a limited edition $600 complete series containing all 1220+ episodes packaged in a coffin--comes out Tuesday. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read "The Enduring Thrills of Dark Shadows ," in which I reflect upon the enduring legacy of afternoon soap opera Dark Shadows and its influence upon popular culture today. I grew up watching both the 1991 revival series (which aired during primetime on NBC during the Gulf War) and the original, watching whatever scraps I could get my hands on from VHS tapes at Blockbuster and syndicated runs of the show. It remains a magical experience unlike anything on television to this day. In Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows , due in theaters Friday, Johnny Depp puts on the fangs of immortal vampire Barnabas Collins, awakened from his centuries-old

The Daily Beast: "The 13 Best Drama Pilot Scripts of 2012"

With the broadcast networks about to unveil their new lineups, I pick my favorite drama pilot scripts—from psychological thriller Mastermind to period drama Ralph Lamb . Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "The 13 Best Drama Pilot Scripts of 2012," in which I offer my takes on the best and brightest offerings at CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and the CW when it comes to their drama pilot scripts. At the network upfronts the week of May 14—when broadcasters unveil their fall schedules along with new programming and glad-hand with advertisers amid a series of presentations and parties—broadcasters will reveal the shows that might end up on your TiVo’s Season Pass in the fall. This year, nearly 90 pilots are battling for slots on the schedules of CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and the CW, all of which are desperate to replace aging hits and find those few breakout shows. This year’s crop is especially heavy on the supernatural, imported formats (especially from Israel),

Other People's Lives: Lady Lazarus on Mad Men

“You’re everything I hoped you’d be.” It's easy to construct an elaborate fantasy in our heads about who we are or what we want. It's even easier to apply that fantasy to the people around us, particularly our spouses, to imagine that they're the individuals that we believe them to be: glittering paragons of ideals and loyalty, intelligence and honor, determination and resolve. We see them as the best and most perfect aspects of ourselves because we want to. Those people shape our own perception of the world, existing as concrete foundations in our false notion of "reality," seemingly never shifting or changing. But when they do, when faced with reality and the knowledge that they're perhaps not the people we thought them to be, it's as much of an existential crisis as learning you're not who you thought you were or came from where you believed. In this week's stunning episode of Mad Men ("Lady Lazarus"), written by Matthew Weiner

Where The Wild Things Are: The Old Gods and the New on Game of Thrones

"You can't tame a wild thing. You can't trust a wild thing... Wild creatures have their own rules, their own reasons, and you'll never know them." This week's breathtaking episode of Game of Thrones ("The Old Gods and the New"), written by Vanessa Taylor and directed by David Nutter, is easily my favorite episode of the season to date, not least of which is because it departs significantly from George R.R. Martin's novel. While this may alarm some purists, the ability to inject surprise and shock in even the most knowledgeable readers is something to celebrate here; it raises the stakes significantly and allows writers like Taylor (who, it must be said, is delivering truly fantastic work) and David Benioff and Dan Weiss flexibility when it comes to crafting the story. Too often in adaptations, it's impossible to take meaningful detours on the way to their respective stories' ultimate destinations. Here such detours should be held up