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BuzzFeed: "The Americans Season 2 Arrives Just As U.S.–Russian Relations Turn Icy"

After Sochi, the wolf, the bitter protests, and human rights violations, the second season of the FX Cold War drama arrives at the perfect time to look back at failed Soviet ambitions. Minor spoilers ahead. At BuzzFeed, you can read my latest feature, " The Americans Season 2 Arrives Just As U.S.–Russian Relations Turn Icy," in which I review the second season of FX's The Americans . With the closing of the Sochi Olympics earlier this week, Russia is on our collective minds once more: FX has rather cannily picked the perfect time to launch the second season of its gripping Cold War drama The Americans, which revolves around a set of married Soviet sleeper agents, Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys), in suburban 1980s Washington, D.C. Yes, The Americans has car chases and street brawls, silly wigs and costume changes (not to mention one scene in particular that pushes the boundaries of basic cable depictions of sexuality), but these elements

BuzzFeed: "Veronica Mars and 8 Other TV Shows You Can Only Stream On Amazon Prime"

Looking to get caught up on Veronica Mars before the movie comes out on March 14? Turns out, the only place you can do so now is on Amazon Prime Instant. At BuzzFeed, you can read my latest feature, "9 TV Shows You Can Only Stream On Amazon Prime," in which I run nine shows that you can only watch on Amazon Prime. 1. Veronica Mars A long time ago, we used to be friends… and you used to be able to stream Veronica Mars on Netflix. But those days are long gone and on Jan. 9, Amazon Prime Instant announced that it had secured exclusive streaming rights to all three seasons of the UPN/CW sleuth series. And what perfect timing to get caught up (or refresh yourself) on all of the intrigues in Neptune: The feature film sequel opens on March 14, marshmallows. 2. Downton Abbey Episodes of Julian Fellowes’ well-heeled period drama — which airs Stateside on PBS’ Masterpiece Classic and centers on the Crawley clan and their servants — can only be seen on Amazon Prime Inst

The Daily Beast: "The Bridge: FX’s New U.S.-Mexican Border Thriller"

FX’s The Bridge , about a serial killer investigation that entangles both sides of the U.S.–Mexico border, is very good. If you haven’t seen the Danish-Swedish series it’s based on, you might even think it’s great. At The Daily Beast, you can read my latest story (one of my very last ones, in fact), "FX's Border-Killer Thriller," in which I review FX's The Bridge , based on the Danish/Swedish drama Broen , which begins tonight at 10 p.m. on FX. Borders are complex signifiers, reinforcing both national and cultural identities as well as distinguishing between outsiders and insiders. Where you are, how you see yourself, depends largely on what side of the wall—visible or invisible—you’re standing on at the moment. Few modern-day national borders are as fraught or as psychologically charged as that between the United States and Mexico, a nearly 2,000-mile line in the sand that is the most frequently crossed international border in the world. It’s this internationa

The Daily Beast: "Joelle Carter's Ava Crowder: The Most Badass Woman on TV"

She’s wielded a skillet, a rifle, and—in last night’s episode of Justified —nearly ignited a man. Joelle Carter talks to me about the evolution of Ava Crowder, empowerment, and last night's explosive episode of the FX drama. One choice quote: “We wanted to see them on top of a mountain before the fall,” said Carter. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "The Most Badass Woman on TV," in which I sit down with Joelle Carter to talk about playing Ava Crowder, empowerment, and more. FX’s Justified, based on characters created by novelist Elmore Leonard, revolves around criminals and lawmen who collide in a never-ending bloody battle. Unfolding largely in the backwoods of modern-day Harlan County, Kentucky, the show is grounded in a rough-and-tumble man’s world, one containing a very specific code of honor among the hairy-chested set. It’s a show about how we often stumble upon the path of darkness, how violence defines our worldview, how a gun can re

The Daily Beast: "Keri Russell On The Americans, Sleeper Agents, Motherhood & More"

On FX’s The Americans , which begins Wednesday, Keri Russell plays a Soviet sleeper agent in 1980s suburban D.C. I talk with the former Felicity star about Russian spies, secret lives, and being a mom. At The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "Keri Russell On The Americans , Sleeper Agents, Motherhood, and More," in which I sit down with Keri Russell to talk about FX Networks's new 1980s espionage drama The Americans (and why it's perhaps the anti- Felicity ), motherhood, and more. In the opening scene of The Americans, Joe Weisberg’s tense new 1980s spy drama, Soviet sleeper agent Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) flirts with a middle-aged stranger in a Washington, D.C., bar. Donning a blond Pretty Woman-style wig and a short dress, Russell is nearly unrecognizable, convincingly transformed into a barfly who pretends to be turned on by a G-man’s security clearance. Elizabeth and her mark head to a hotel room, where she proceeds to seduce him in or

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: "Fall TV Report Card: The Winners and Losers"

With the 2011-12 television season in full swing and the cancellation orders stacking up, Jace Lacob rounds up the season’s winners ( Revenge ! Homeland !), losers ( Man Up! Whitney! ), and draws. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest story, "Fall TV Report Card: The Winners and Losers," in which I offer up not a critic's list, or a Best of 2011 TV list, but a business story selecting the winners and losers (as well as draws) for the first half of the 2011-12 television season. (Those selections are in the gallery.) With the 2011-12 television season well underway, it’s become increasingly clear that this isn’t the best fall the broadcasters have ever had. Back in May, when the networks touted their new offerings to advertisers, it appeared they were trying to take some risks with their programming. But the opposite is true: most of those shows featured what the networks hoped were built-in audiences for retro brand settings ( Pan Am ! The Playboy Club !)

The Daily Beast: "American Horror Story: The Craziest Show on TV"

The most divisive show on television is FX’s American Horror Story , a haunted-house drama created by Glee ’s Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, with viewers and critics loving it, hating it, or loving to hate it. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " American Horror Story : The Craziest Show on TV," in which Maria Elena Fernandez and I, in our latest He Said/She Said discussion, examine the show's merits and failings and attempt to come to something resembling an agreement about the show. (Spoiler: we don't.) What is your take on American Horror Story ? Head to the comments section to discuss, debate, and react. American Horror Story airs Wednesdays at 10 pm ET/PT on FX.

The Daily Beast: "Margo Martindale: Emmy’s Stealth Frontrunner"

Nominee Margo Martindale, in the running for outstanding supporting actress, may not be prepping an Emmy acceptance speech--but she should be, especially after her magnificently malevolent turn as Mags Bennett on FX's Justified this year. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "Emmy’s Stealth Frontrunner," in which I sit down with Martindale to discuss playing Justified ’s Mags Bennett, how she won’t be wasted on CBS’s A Gifted Man , and why she believes in ghosts. Justified returns for a third season in 2012.

Put an End to My Troubles: Getting to Know the Mystery on the Season Finale of Justified

If there is any justice in the world--our world, that is, and not the rough-and-tumble Harlan County--Margo Martindale will walk away with an Emmy nomination (and, one imagines, a win) for her jaw-dropping performance as Mags Bennett this season. Tough-as-nails and quick with her rapier wit, Mags was a top-notch schemer with the brutality to match her Machiavellian machinations, and Martindale brought her to life with all of the grit and dust of the Kentucky mountains intact. And if there was a highlight of the second season of FX's sensational and atmospheric lawman drama Justified , a season overflowing with dramatic highs and serpentine plot twists galore, it was Martindale's accomplished turn as the head of the Bennetts, a pot-growing clan that has been enmeshed in a feud with the Givens for seventy years. Would Mags and Raylan bury the hatchet? Or bury it in each other's backs? That was the question swirling around the season finale, one populated by several other com

Black as Coal, Dark as Sin: Quick Thoughts on the Next Three Fantastic Episodes of Justified

It's always gratifying when a fairly procedural show takes a serialized plot and runs with it. That's the case in the next three amazing installments of FX's Justified , which pick up the threads of last week's Winona-centric "Blaze of Glory" and several other ongoing storylines and take them to some truly remarkable places, including next week's "The Spoil," which might just be the strongest episode of the series to date. It's with these episodes, viewed individually or as a whole, that Justified not only reaches the heights of last season's Crowder storyline but overtakes it as well, transforming this season into an intoxicating blend of procedural cases of the week and a larger mythology for the series, one that entangles Raylan and Winona, Boyd and Ava, Mags Bennett and her clan... and a coal company with designs on the mountain and lands of both Harlan and Bennett counties. This last element introduces one of the season's mos

The Gunslinger Returns: An Advance Review of Season Two of FX's Justified

Lawman Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) is back with a bang as the gripping second season of FX's taut drama series Justified kicks off tonight. In the time since we last caught up with the beleaguered Raylan, this taut series hasn't lost any of its luster or its off-kilter nature. Season Two, which launches tonight, begins with "The Moonshine War," which picks up exactly where we left off at the end of last season as Raylan, Boyd (Walton Goggins), and Ava (Joelle Carter) attempted to fend off fire from the Miami drug cartel's hitmen. The action picks up moments later to reveal just how the three manage to live to tell the tale. But rather than sweep last season's plotlines under the rug, there are consequences to the shootout in Bulletville and to Raylan professionally. Will he be held accountable for the death of Bo Crowder? Will he stay in Harlan or return to Miami? Will he choose his ex-wife Winona (Natalie Zea) or Ava? Will Boyd choose the path of veng

Yup, Archer Is Back Tonight: Why You Need to Watch

FX's subversive animated comedy Archer returns tonight and not a moment too soon, for television needs the gonzo spirit and out-there humor of this Adam Reed creation. The first seven episodes of Season Two of Archer , provided to press for review, might be the strongest to date, offering up a virtual cornucopia of sight gags, double entendre, shockingly foul language, superspy hijinks, and one of the worst examples of humanity in HR executive Pam Poovey. To say that these memorable characters are flawed is an understatement of the highest order; they're so morally corrupt, so self-absorbed and tragically insane, that it makes for obsessive and unpredictable viewing. And that's perhaps the beauty and magic of Archer : in creating a cast of characters who are so reprehensible in every way, it's impossible to turn your eyes away from the carnage--both physical and personal--that follows in their wake. Along the way, Sterling Malory Archer and his covert cohorts at I

Year in TV: The 10 Best (and 5 Worst) TV Shows of 2010

It's that time of year when we bid farewell to the last twelve months and start looking toward the future, but it's also a chance to reflect, to catalogue, and to reminisce as well. My selections for the Ten Best (and, cough, five worst) TV shows of 2010 have now gone live over at The Daily Beast . The series selected represent the very best that television had to offer the past twelve months and include such shows as Mad Men, Community, Terriers, Parks and Recreation, The Good Wife, Fringe, Justified, Boardwalk Empire, Friday Night Lights , and Modern Family. It wasn't easy to whittle down the competition to just ten shows as, despite the overall drain in creativity this calendar year, there were quite a lot of fantastic series. (In fact, one of the very best of the year didn't even air on American television at all: Season Three of BBC One's Ashes to Ashes --including its breathtaking and gut-wrenching series finale --would have made this list if it had been o

Brilliant But Canceled: FX's John Landgraf on Terriers' Cancellation

Critics and audiences alike were disheartened--if unsurprised--by FX's decision to cancel the critically-adored but low-rated freshman drama series Terriers this morning. The announcement about the fate of Terriers , created by Ted Griffin and executive produced by Shawn Ryan, was made via a PR email to press members , which promised further information and a statement from FX president John Landgraf at an unprecedented telephone press conference later today. Many of us were curious to see just what Landgraf had to say about the network's decision not to bring Terriers back for a second season (and why he was willing to host this conference call), though the writing was on the wall for the drama, considering the ratings chart that FX sent out this morning, which compared Terriers 's thirteen-episode run with that of fellow FX series Dirt, Damages, The Riches, and Over There , all of which were canceled by FX yet all had significantly higher ratings than Terriers (more

Putting the Dog to Sleep: FX Cancels Terriers

It's official: FX has opted not to move ahead with Ted Griffin and Shawn Ryan's brilliant PI drama Terriers . The news of the cancellation was announced this morning by FX SVP of Media Relations, John Solberg, in an email to members of the press which invited us to participate in a conference call with FX president John Landgraf later this morning, in which Landgraf would discuss the network's decision not to order a second season of Terriers . The cancellation hits amid a fall season that hasn't generated too many hits, either critical or audience ones. (In fact, the only two new series that I fell in love with this fall season were Terriers and Boardwalk Empire , which should say something about the lackluster nature of the offerings this season>.) Hank and Britt's tagline may have been "too small to fail," but in the end it seems that Terriers itself was too small to succeed. Despite its creative triumph, the series was undone by low ratings, a

Don't Put This Dog Down: TV Needs FX's Terriers

"Which way will it be?" And now we wait. I'm not typically an optimistic person. My cynical worldview has served me well in my thirty-plus years on this Earth, but for some reason I'm holding out hope when it comes to FX's Terriers , which wrapped up its sensational first season last night and is currently on the bubble for renewal. It will take a bit of a Hail Mary for this remarkable if underrated series to avoid the guillotine and return to fight again. Too small to fail? You bet. But unfortunately the smallness of the ratings have made Terriers ' future less than certain. Which is a shame, really, because those of you who didn't give Terriers a chance missed out on what was easily the best new series of the fall season, a genre-busting crime drama about real estate swindles, brotherhood, secrets, and lies. It was humorous, heartbreaking, and human drama at its finest, the story of two men who try to do good yet usually wind up making things worse

The Daily Beast: "Twitter's TV War"

Twitter should be a tool for audiences to interact with the talent behind their favorite shows—instead, anonymous users heap abuse onto writer-producers for ruining "their" shows. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "Twitter's TV War," in which I speak to Community 's Dan Harmon, Bones ' Hart Hanson, and Grey Anatomy 's Shonda Rhimes about the complicated relationship between access, privacy, and angry fans on the social networking platform. I'm curious to know what your take is and whether you side with showrunners or fans. What happens when the dialogue turns ugly? Head to the comments section to discuss.

Biting Back: An Advance Review of the Final Four Episodes of FX's Terriers

I've been extremely forthcoming about my love for FX's brilliant drama Terriers . Scratch that. I've been gushing about the show --created by Ted Griffin and executive produced by Shawn Ryan--for months now and I wish that more of you were tuning in to this remarkable and unique series. The first of the final four episodes of Terriers ' season begins tonight with the sobering "Asunder," a major turning point for the season both in terms of the overarching conspiracy plot (yes, the shady circumstances of the Montague come back into focus)--which Hank (Donal Logue) and Britt (Michael Raymond-James) are dragged back into--but also the character-driven subplots that have been lurking beneath the surface all season. I ripped into these next four installments with my teeth last week, insatiable for more of this groundbreaking series, and I wasn't disappointed in the least. In fact, I think that they rank up there with the very best that the series has produced

An Open Letter to FX: Please Keep Terriers Around

Dear FX, This fall television network has been pretty lousy at the broadcast networks. Massively hyped series have fizzled and viewers seem largely turned off by the prospects for new offerings, with several series already cancelled. It's likely that the axe will fall on a bunch more before winter comes. Which is why your new series, Terriers , is such a breath of fresh air amid a what's largely a creatively stagnant landscape this fall. For some reason, viewers haven't flocked to this remarkable series. Perhaps it was the odd choice of title (it's not about dogs or dog breeders, despite the scrappiness of our protagonists) or the advertising campaign that played up images of snarling, biting, and scrappy dogs rather than focus on the beachy private investigator angle or series leads Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James. Or perhaps this would have performed better in the summer rather than competing against a crush of new series, all premiering at the same time an