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Showing posts from June, 2012

The Daily Beast: "Comedy Clash: Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management & Louis C.K.’s Louie"

Tabloid fodder Charlie Sheen returns to TV with FX’s lazy Anger Management , which feels out of place on the cable network, particularly when it sits beside FX’s more experimental and daring fare. I compare Sheen’s new show with Louis C.K.’s Louie , which returns for a third season on Thursday. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "Comedy Clash: Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management & Louis C.K.’s Louie ," in which I compare and contrast the new Sheen comedy vehicle, Anger Management , with the similarly themed Louie . Both shows revolve around middle-aged men, both air Thursday on FX, and yet that's when the similarities stop altogether... Charlie Sheen returns to television with FX’s Anger Management , beginning Thursday. If that statement fills you with dread, we’re simpatico in our TV-comedy leanings. Putting aside the fact that Sheen is a thug with a penchant for substance abuse and violence against women, Anger Management —developed by Bru

The Daily Beast: "The Rise of Nordic Noir TV"

The Duchess of Cornwall is just one obsessive viewer. Nordic Noir—embodied in Scandinavian dramas like The Killing, The Bridge , and Borgen —have become cult hits in the U.K., and are about to become the go-to formats for American TV pilots. I explore the genre’s appeal, its breakout female characters, and why audiences in the U.S. are unlikely to see many of them in their original form (but it is possible to see them!). Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "The Rise of Nordic Noir TV," in which I explore why these Scandinavian dramas have become cult hits in the U.K., how they are ripe for American adaptations, and their universal appeal. While AMC’s The Killing has been dumped in a trunk to die like Rosie Larsen, its progenitor, Denmark’s Forbrydelsen, continues to slay viewers around the globe on the strength of its moody wit and strong-willed protagonist. Forbrydelsen (in English, The Crime) became a cult hit in the United Kingdom when it air

The Daily Beast: "Liz & Dick: 8 Crazy Scenes from Lindsay Lohan’s Elizabeth Taylor Biopic"

The Daily Beast (or rather me directly) obtained a production draft of Lifetime’s Elizabeth Taylor biopic starring Lindsay Lohan. I pick out eight especially salacious bits from the script. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Liz & Dick : 8 Crazy Scenes from Lindsay Lohan’s Elizabeth Taylor Biopic," in which I read Christopher Monger's script and pick out the eight craziest, oddest, most salacious bits of Lifetime's upcoming Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton biopic, Liz & Dick , starring Lindsay Lohan. When considering actresses to play the late, beloved Academy Award–winner Elizabeth Taylor, the first name that comes to most people’s minds likely isn’t Lindsay Lohan. And yet the troubled, talented 25-year-old actress is currently playing Taylor in Lifetime’s made-for-TV movie Liz & Dick , about the tumultuous romance between Taylor and her costar/husband Richard Burton (played here by True Blood ’s Grant Bowler). Lohan is

The Daily Beast: "TV Preview: Snap Judgments of 2012-13’s New Shows"

Will the 2012-13 television season be a success or a snooze? Over at The Daily Beast, Maria Elena Fernandez and I offer our first impressions of 30-plus network pilots—from The Following and Nashville to The Neighbors and Zero Hour (and everything in between)—coming to TV next season. Head over to The Daily Beast to read my latest feature, "TV Preview: Snap Judgments of 2012-13’s New Shows," in which we offer our dueling he said/she said perspectives on all of the available broadcast network pilots. While some of you may have jetted off on summer vacations in the last few weeks, we’ve spent the first part of the summer wading through pilots for more than 30 new scripted shows that likely will be on the air next TV season. (Sometimes networks change their minds, and, if we’re honest, there are a few shows we’d love to see disappear altogether.) It was a Herculean feat to make it through the pile of screeners this year—it was not overall the best pilot season—to offe

The Phantom: Thoughts on the Season Finale of Mad Men

"Are you alone?" I had a feeling that there would be some discontent among the viewers of Mad Men when faced with the finale of Season Five, after such a breathtaking and momentous episode as last week's "Commissions and Fees," which saw the death of one character and featured startling and concrete change. Airing directly after, the season finale ("The Phantom"), written by Jonathan Igla and Matthew Weiner and directed by Matthew Weiner, could feel a bit anti-climactic. To me, however, "The Phantom" offers a necessary coda for the fifth season, paying off the season's diverse themes and allowing the viewer to see the after-effects of the suicide of Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) on both Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and the firm as a whole, exploring the ways in which we seek out what we believe will offer us happiness--however temporary or fleeting--in order to assuage the rot inside us. Once we achieve the thing that we dreamed about and want

The Daily Beast: "Mad Men Season Five's 13 Most Memorable Moments"

Troubled Don! Ascendant Peggy! Poor Lane! Following the finale of a controversial season of Mad Men on Sunday night, I examine the 13 most memorable moments from its fifth season. At The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Mad Men Season Five's 13 Most Memorable Moments," in which I explore and analyze 13 of the fifth season's most memorable moments, including two from the season finale ("The Phantom"). Mad Men’s fifth season, which came to a close on Sunday, began with the joy and optimism felt by newlyweds Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré), only to slowly let in a narrative darkness that manifested itself in squandered dreams, hopeless enterprises, larceny, and even the death of a major character. Husbands and wives warred, ex-spouses sniped, children grew into adults, and partners fell out. This all played out against a backdrop of monumental social and political change during which Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce hired its f

The Daily Beast: "True Blood Season Five: Has HBO’s Vampire Drama Lost Its Bite?"

HBO’s True Blood returns on Sunday. Over at The Daily Beast, I review the first four episodes of the fifth season and ask: what happened to the vampire drama? You can read my latest feature, " True Blood Season Five: Has HBO’s Vampire Drama Lost Its Bite?" , in which I examine the first four episodes of Season Five of True Blood and write, "The first four episodes of Season Five… reflect what’s wrong with the most recent seasons of the HBO drama: they lack focus." I also explore how the lack of baseline normalcy--and the sense that everyone in Bon Temps is somehow "special"--has robbed the show of dramatic stakes. HBO’s popular True Blood has never been known as a slow-burn drama. Instead of advancing the plot minutely from episode to episode, the Southern Gothic vampire drama has, during its four seasons to date, zoomed at a breakneck speed, hurtling toward its cliffhanger ending each year at a maximum velocity. While that can rev up viewers’

Elegant Exits: Commissions and Fees on Mad Men

"Everything you think is going to make you happy just turns to crap." If that's not a statement about Mad Men 's major themes, I don't know what is. While it's outsider Glen Bishop (Marten Holden Weiner) who utters those words at the end of the episode, they could be said by just about any character on the drama, offering a prism through which to see that our expectations are often dashed against the rocks when faced with the reality of our situations. Happiness, as Don Draper (Jon Hamm) would argue, just begets more happiness, but more importantly, the sensation of happiness demands further happiness. It's elusive and short-lived and, as one gets older, the simple things that might have once made us joyful--driving a car, an illicit cup of coffee with tons of sugar--turn to ash in our mouths. Happiness, it seems, is as much about anticipation as it is expectation. When things fail to match up to the ideal we set in our heads--an ideal established by D

Valar Morghulis: Thoughts on the Season Finale of Game of Thrones

Everything ends. Life, love, and even dynasties: nothing lasts forever. They all turn to dust, a charnel cloud of smoke, reducing even the stones of a fortress that has stood for thousands of years to ash. Everything crumbles, everything rots, and everything eventually ends. And even this, Season Two of Game of Thrones . The season finale ("Valar Morgulis"), written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss and directed by Alan Taylor, concluded the second season of Game of Thrones with a powerful episode that built up on the magnificent set piece of the Battle of the Blackwater that last week's episode provided. Despite the fact that, after such a momentous event, the final episode could have felt more like a denouement than a riveting installment in itself, "Valar Morgulis" instead further teased out more tension, drama, and dread, offering an ending to the season that was flooded with possibility, both of life and and of death... but ultimately of change. Whi