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The Daily Beast: "Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens! Lost, NCIS, Big Love, Veep Writers on His Legacy"

Happy birthday, Mr. Dickens. Over at The Daily Beast, we're celebrating Charles Dickens’s 200th birthday. You can read my latest feature, entitled "Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens! Lost, NCIS, Big Love, Veep Writers on His Legacy," in which I talk to TV auteurs including Lost 's Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, The Thick of It and Veep creator Armando Iannucci, NCIS 's Gary Glasberg, and others as they reflect on how Dickens’s work has influenced storytelling on television. Today marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens (1812–1870), but the popularity of the writer of such novels as Great Expectations, Bleak House, A Tale of Two Cities, and David Copperfield—to name but a few of his immortal works—hasn’t diminished in the time since his death. In the pantheon of great English-language novelists, Dickens reigns supreme for a number of reasons. He was a master storyteller who created unforgettable characters—a menagerie that included th

The Daily Beast: "Most Memorable TV Deaths of 2011"

Looking back, 2011 proved to be a particularly deadly one for television characters, whose bodies were stacking up even before the return of AMC’s The Walking Dead , which rather notoriously raises the body count each season. From Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones to Downton Abbey and Boardwalk Empire , TV-show creators this year proved that they were only too willing to kill off beloved characters or shock their respective audiences with deaths involving characters long believed to be “safe,” whether those were little girls, Halloween trick-or-treaters, or heroes. Safety, it seems, is an outmoded idea. Head over to The Daily Beast to read my and Maria Elena Fernandez's latest feature, "Most Memorable TV Deaths of 2011," in which we examine our choices for the most memorable TV demises this year, rounding up an unlucky 13 who left their fictional lives too soon. But beware : if you’re not up to date on the 12 shows discussed below, you’ll want to avoid reading any

The Daily Beast: "Becoming Chloë Sevigny"

Oscar nominee Chloë Sevigny may be the former star of Big Love on TV – but online, she’s developed a viral following at the hand of her drag-queen impersonator, Drew Droege. Over at The Daily Beast, Droege writes about his muse and inspiration, and how the two came face to face, in the hilarious first-person piece "Becoming Chloë Sevigny." (Complete with video from Droege's mordant and biting viral video series Chloe .)

Eternity: Thoughts on the Series Finale of HBO's Big Love

"I may not always love you But long as there are stars above you You never need to doubt it I'll make you so sure about it God only knows what I'd be with you." Saying goodbye is never easy, particularly when it's a series as deeply nuanced and as emotionally resonant as HBO's Big Love , a groundbreaking series that subtly shifted our perceptions of what the television family drama could accomplish. Over five seasons, the audience witnessed the struggles of the Henrickson clan as they attempted to seek out their own destinies, both as a group and as individuals. This was a series that was centered around hearth and home, sex and salvation, faith and family. It was at times hugely operatic (Season Four, I'm looking at you), Shakespearean, or pared-down (the final season). But what Big Love accomplished was to deliver a look into a family that was markedly different, perhaps, than our own, but which also had the same growing pains, the same fears, the

The Daily Beast: "Big Love Series Finale: Its 12 Most Memorable Moments" (UPDATED)

HBO's landmark drama series Big Love ended its run tonight with a fantastic series finale. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Big Love Series Finale: Its 12 Most Memorable Moments," in which I select the twelve best moments from Big Love 's entire run, including tonight's series finale, and allow you to relive these searing moments, thanks to our wonderful video team. Did your favorite moment make the list? Head to the comments section to discuss.

The Daily Beast: "Big Love Series Finale: Its Ten Most Memorable Moments"

HBO's landmark drama series Big Love wraps up its run tonight with a fantastic series finale. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Big Love Series Finale: Its Ten Most Memorable Moments," in which I select the ten best moments from Big Love 's run ahead of tonight's series finale and allow you to relive these searing moments, thanks to our wonderful video team. Be sure to check back after the episode when I unveil my two additional moments from the series finale, which is gripping and emotional, to say the least, as well as my thoughts about the show's end. Did your favorite moment make the list? How do you think tonight's series finale will wrap up the last five years of storylines? Head to the comments section to discuss.

The Nature of Sacrifice: Shots Ring Out on Big Love

"The age of false prophets is over." As we near the end of Big Love 's run next week, the notion of sacrifice hovers over the action, with each of the characters being forced to come to terms with their own personal divinity as they weigh the outcome of their actions. For every mother who strives to give their child a better life at the expense of their own happiness, there's another who puts their own insecurities and shame onto their offspring. It seems as though we truly can't even outrun out pasts, much less escape them. There's always a way that the past--whether it be a crazed gunman out for bloody vengeance, a corrugated iron washtub, or our formative experiences in childhood--manages to catch up with us. On this week's tension-laden episode of Big Love ("Exorcism"), written by Roberto Aquirre-Sacasa and directed by Adam Davidson, the past didn't so much as sidle up to the Henricksons as it did throw a bucket of acid in their faces

The Fugitives: Into the Darkness on Big Love

"Hold tight." While the walls have been closing in on the Henricksons for some time now (really, almost since the start of the series), the stakes have never been higher for the polygamist family, beset from all sides. It's impossible not to feel that the endgame is finally here as the countdown to the series finale begins. (Are there really just two episodes left?) On this week's episode of Big Love ("The Noose Tightens"), written by Seth Greenland and directed by David Knoller, the noose certainly did tighten around the family's collective neck, as law enforcement officials closed in on Bill and Barb, Margene took a stand against just about everyone, and Nicki came face to face with the madness that has overtaken her brother Alby. In a series that's been overflowing with twists and turns, this week's installment might rank up there with some of the craziest, most jaw-dropping episodes to date, a rollercoaster ride of betrayal, deceit, mur

Uninvited Guests: Til Death Do Us Part on Big Love

"We're on separate paths." - Adaleen While the Henricksons have overcome many huge obstacles over the last five seasons, it seems as though the thing that's tearing them apart might be themselves. Through thick and thin, through betrayal and compromise, Bill and his wives have always seen past the here and now to the eternal, to the celestial kingdom where their family would spend forever walking hand in hand. But that eternal happiness is now being called into question, as is their felicity among the quotidian existence of life on earth. This week's episode of Big Love ("Til Death Do Us Part"), written by Aaron Allen and directed by David Petrarca, found the Henricksons besieged on all sides: from Albert Grant's vengeful vendetta against Bill, to the LDS Church, and among themselves, as the paper wedding of Bill and Nicki fast approached. We've been told that their marriage is a legal formality, a means to an end as it would allow the two

The Stone Bench: The Special Relationship on Big Love

It's fitting in a way that the resolution to Barb and Bill's current problems--or, at least specifically, the question of Cara Lynn's protection--should occur at the spot where their relationship truly began: at the stone bench where Bill proposed to Barb all of those years ago. On this week's episode of Big Love ("The Special Relationship"), written by Patricia Breen and directed by David Petrarca, we witnessed what might just be the end of Bill and Barb's marriage, or at least the legal, paper version of it. While Bill reassures Barb that they would still be sealed for eternity, the sting of his suggestion is evident: in order to safeguard Cara Lynn's future, Bill would have to marry Nicki. Which means legally divorcing Barb. Let's be honest: Bill has always had a special relationship with his first wife and rightly so. Of all of his wives, Barb was the one with whom he has spent not only the most time, but also spent as man and (single) wife.

Age of Consent: Patriarchy and Polygamy on Big Love

"It's all been such a waste." - Lois Throughout its run, Big Love has sought to shine a light on the abuses of the polygamist lifestyle and belief system that the Henricksons adhere to, offering a spectrum of fundamentalism through which to see the center at its core. For all of the abuses at Juniper Creek, the old ways embraced by Roman Grant and his false prophet son Albert, they seem infinitely more sane than, say, the Greenes or Bud Mayberry. This prism has been useful in the past because it clearly establishes that the Henricksons don't walk the fine line that many other believers of the Principle do. In their vision of this religion, there is the semblance of free will: there are no forcible sealings, no teenage brides, no breaking of laws or inverting the beauty of the divine Principle. But that's not quite the case as we learned last week. Bill Henrickson, as we know, did take an underage bride in Margene, attempting to rationalize and sanctify that m

Indestructible: Truth and Consequences on Big Love

"We're not holy. We're all unholy." - Barb As dire as things have been for the Henricksons in the past, things looked especially bleak at Christmas, even as Bill noted that they had made it through the darkest day of the year and into the light. But that's the problem with the sunlight sometimes: in the harsh light of day, you can't avoid the seeing the truth right in front of you. Things are not what they seem: plum pudding contains no plums, after all. On this week's gut-wrenching episode of Big Love ("Certain Poor Shepherds"), written by Jami OʼBrien and directed by David Petrarca, the family has to contend that their own inner secrets may be the thing that destroys them in the end. Even as they make their way onto the ice--to the ironic strains of ABBA's "Knowing Me, Knowing You"--in a show of unity, Bill and his wives are anything but a singular unit, each concealing something in turn, a hurtful truth that puts further stra

The Dance: The Pursuit of Happiness on Big Love

"I'm trying to win a place at the table." - Bill Many mourned the loss of the original opening credits of Big Love . Set to The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows," it offered a look at the celestial family created by the Henricksons, a glimpse into the eternity offered to their family. But of late, the new credits, which hauntingly depict the various members of the Henrickson family in a state of freefall, seem all the more appropriate, as the clan continues to come apart at the seams. And as each of them searches for their own definition of "home." This week's evocative and powerful episode of Big Love ("A Seat at the Table"), written by Julia Cho and directed by Adam Davidson, found each of the wives grappling with their own inner compass in the wake of their public outing. Revealed to be "lying polygamists," each of the three wives attempts to find a new path for themselves. For Margene, it's the effort to prevent any f