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Showing posts from January, 2011

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 O╩╝Brien 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 strain

The Daily Beast: "Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men, and the Hollywood Machine"

Yes, Charlie Sheen, the troubled star of CBS’ Two and a Half Men , has finally entered rehab, amid a production shutdown on his CBS sitcom, produced by Warner Bros. Television. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, entitled, "Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men , and the Hollywood Machine," in which I talk to television industry insiders--from writer/producers to household name showrunners--about why the hell it took so long for Sheen to go into rehab. And I look at the self-perpetuating system that enables stars like Sheen to indulge in such bad behavior as showrunners and producers--speaking on condition of anonymity--discuss their own culpability in the issue.

Fringe Fridays: 140-Character Testimonials

I asked, you answered. To celebrate the arrival of another Fringe Friday, I took to Twitter to ask you to sum up why you loved FOX's Fringe in 140 characters or less . No small feat, given the rampant love for this mind-bending sci-fi drama, which recently moved to Friday evenings during its fantastic third season. The responses I got were not surprisingly impassioned and intelligent, and demonstrated why Fringe has struck a chord with its devoted viewers. (Among whom, I count myself as a member.) Curious to see just what Fringe -philes had to say about why they love the show? You can check out the responses below, which I will continue to update throughout the day. And don't forget: there's an all-new Fringe tonight at 9 pm ET/PT on FOX! Fringe in 140 Characters or Less : mtoddcohen: "I love #FRINGE b/c it's dynamic, intelligent, and perfectly blended with unexpected humor. In short, it's science with charm." SterlingCooper1: "I love Fringe b/c

Sick Day: Parks and Recreation's Cast Shines in "Flu Season"

"Stop. Pooping." The MVP award for last night's fantastic episode of Parks and Recreation ("Flu Season") goes to Rob Lowe, for his sensational delivery of the above two words as Chris succumbs to the virulent strain of flu infecting everyone in Pawnee. Chris' ouright outrage and horror, upon learning that the "microchip has been compromised," is transformed into self-loathing and ultimately a complete and utter breakdown as he vomits into a drawer, makes friends with the hospital room floor, and manages to make would-be girlfriend Ann at ease with him for the first time during their nascent courtship. But the heights that "Flu Season" reached (which, I might add, for all of their strengths are topped by other upcoming episodes this season) are due to the tremendous work being done by all of the members of Parks and Rec 's talented ensemble. For all of the scene-stealing done by Lowe here, there are standout moments for Aubrey Plaza (

Leave It, Ricky: What Did You Think of The Office's Scranton/Slough Crossover?

I'm of two minds about last night's crossover cold open on NBC's The Office ("The Seminar"), which, if you missed it, can be viewed in full below. Let's be upfront about this: I'm an obsessive fan of the original UK Office , so the chance to see Ricky Gervais don David Brent's goatee was absolutely priceless, but I've also given up watching the US version for a while now as, in the last few seasons, it's descended into a bit of a tired and humorless mess. Having said that, I thought that the chance encounter between Steve Carell's Michael Scott and Gervais' David Brent was a bit of a hoot at first, and easily the funniest cold open The Office has pulled off in quite some time (from what I remember of the last few seasons I watched). Seeing the simpatico spirit that exists between the two men, each versions of each other, was unexpectedly touching, even as the two joked around and David asked if there were any jobs going around at Dund

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 ISIS a

The Broken Door: The Price of Victory on Friday Night Lights

Each episode of Friday Night Lights brings with it the double-edged sword of satisfaction, delivering another impassioned and poignant installment but also bringing us ever closer to the precipice itself: the end of the line. This week's beautiful episode ("The March"), written by Rolin Jones and directed by Jason Katims, painfully reminded me of why I love Friday Night Lights in the first place, setting up conflicts both internal and external, transformative events and those quotidian moments that add up to a life in the end. For the characters of Friday Night Lights , victory on the field doesn't translate to personal glory, as this episode showed in no uncertain terms. The March of the title might be that towards the state championship, but it's also the march that each of us endures in our own way: one day turning to the next, a broken-down door, a conversation with a spouse, a misunderstanding, a tear-filled goodbye, a brawl between brothers. While life goe

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 furt

Don't Forget: New Fringe Tonight on Fox!

Attention, Fringe faithful! Beginning tonight, FOX's Fringe makes the move to its new home on Friday evenings at 9 pm ET/PT. Given this move and the, uh, traditions of this timeslot, it's safe to say that FOX will be paying particular attention to the ratings and how much of Fringe 's audience followed the shift in scheduling and stuck with the show. To this end, please tune in. And please remind everyone you know who loves the show to do the same. DVR numbers will definitely play a role here, just as they did on Thursday evenings, but it's essential that you watch this week's episode ("The Firefly") as soon as you possibly can. (Live ratings, after all, are still hugely important.) In the meantime, you can read my spoiler-light advance review of Fringe 's "The Firefly" here . It's truly a fantastic and emotional episode and sets up the back end of the season. Fringe airs tonight at 9 pm ET/PT on FOX.

The Globe-Spanning Adventures of a Round-Headed Man: An Advance Review of An Idiot Abroad

I have a soft spot for travel shows that offer a twist on the now ubiquitous genre, such as the snarkiness of Travel Channel's Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations . But it's rare that any of these actually make me howl with laughter. Which is very much the case with Science Channel's new travelogue An Idiot Abroad , which launches on Saturday evening here in the States after a successful run on Sky1 in the UK. This is one show that manages to successfully fuse together pretty pictures of exotic locales, staggeringly hilarious humor, and a round-headed chap with a host of xenophobic issues. Yes, it stars Karl Pilkington. If you're unfamiliar with the premise, An Idiot Abroad recounts the globe-spanning journeys of The Ricky Gervais Show breakout Karl Pilkington, here sent around the world to the locations containing the Seven Wonders of the World by close friends Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, who executive produce this series and apear on-screen (and on the ph

The Daily Beast: "Skins Is Not Kiddie Porn!"

There's been a lot of furor in the last few days about MTV's adaptation of British teen drama Skins , particularly whether the show crosses the line into "child pornography." Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, entitled " Skins Is Not Kiddie Porn!" As you might expect from the title, I examine, whether or not, despite the hype, MTV’s Skins breaks child-pornography laws. While I'm of the firm mind that it does not legally do so, I say that the show, a pale imitation of the original, still has plenty to be ashamed of. The conversation reminds me that just because you might disagree with something, or find it to be immoral, doesn't mean that it is in fact illegal. And that the parties who are throwing around the term "child porn" might actually have better things to do with their time: such as actually focusing on preventing and prosecuting distributors, producers, and suppliers of actual child pornography, rather tha

Homecoming: Where the Heart Is on Friday Night Lights

The end is almost here. While I've felt the looming end of Friday Night Lights throughout this season, never have I felt the urgency as keenly as I did with this week's eloquent installment ("Don't Go"), written by Bridget Carpenter and directed by Michael Waxman, which began to move the pieces in place for the series' ending in a few weeks. At times lyrical, at times somber, the sensational "Don't Go" had me wiping away tears freely throughout the episode as the concept of home was revisited several times throughout. Just what is home? Is it the place where we hang our hat? Is it the place where we're surrounded by our loved ones? Or is it the place where we choose to be, in spite of the opportunities elsewhere? This week, Coach Taylor considered a fantastic position in Florida, one that would give him free reign to recruit and a massive budget. After struggling to make ends meet with the Lions, it seemed like the answers to his prayers, an

The Firefly: An Advance Review of This Week's Episode of Fringe

Many viewers and critics--myself included--had a lot to say when FOX announced that it was moving its fantastic sci-fi drama Fringe to Fridays. After all, the series had hit new creative highs both last season and in the current third season, amid a storyline involving human nature, doppelgangers, alternate universes, and the consequences of a father's love. The series had successfully transformed itself from a science fiction-laden monster-of-the-week procedural into something more enduring and heartfelt, a drama that at its center was about a collection of very damaged individuals who had carved out something resembling a family even when facing down some fiendish plot to destroy the universe or science run amok on a weekly basis. At TCA's winter press tour last week, FOX entertainment president Kevin Reilly publicly declared his support for Fringe , amid increasing worry that the series was being put out to pasture on Friday evenings. Those concerned about the move should a

Go Big or Go Home: An Advance Review of Season Three of Parks and Recreation

Last season, NBC's Parks and Recreation exploded into a bona fide comedy hit, a critical darling that had transformed itself from being in the shadow of The Office to outperforming it in terms of heart, humor, and brains on a weekly basis. It took the series, created by Greg Daniels and Mike Schur, a few episodes in the first season to find its footing but it came right out of the gate at the beginning of its sophomore season, with its tone, sense of humor, and characters just right. Over the course of the twenty-odd installments of Season Two, Parks and Recreation quickly established itself as the go-to workplace comedy, the sort of mockumentary show that had expanded upon its initial premise to become a series that combined the awkwardness of romantic life in Pawnee with the eccentricities of the Parks Department workers and the cockeyed optimism of Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), whose can-do spirit were often at odds with, well, reality. Despite the critical success of the serie

Paley Festival Announces Full Line-Up: Community, Parks and Recreation, True Blood, White Collar, The Walking Dead, and Much More!

The moment many have been waiting for is finally here. The Paley Center for Media has this morning unveiled its full lineup for the 2011 Paley Festival, taking place March 4-17 at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, CA. (The annual festival moved to its new digs last year.) Among the offerings for the 2011 festival, which is always standing room only: Community, Parks and Recreation, True Blood, White Collar, The Walking Dead, American Idol, Supernatural, Eastbound and Down, Raising Hope , a Freaks & Geeks/Undeclared Reunion, an evening with Jimmy Fallon, and more. Tickets will go on sale to members on January 21st and to the general public on January 23rd at 9 am PT via Ticketweb. The complete Paley Festival 2011 lineup, with event dates, can be found below: March 4th at 7 pm: The Walking Dead March 5th at 7 pm: True Blood March 7th at 7 pm: White Collar March 8th at 7 pm: Hot in Cleveland March 9th at 7 pm: Parks and Recreation March 10th at 7 pm: Eastbound and Down March 11th

The Daily Beast: "Amy Poehler Curator: My Favorite Sad Films"

Attention: Parks and Recreation fans! Over at The Daily Beast, Amy Poehler picks her 11 favorite sad film scenes in a hysterical piece written by Amy, entitled "Amy Poehler Picks Her Favorite Sad Films" (the latest in our Curator series), that I wrangled into existence. Among the offerings: 11 of Poehler's favorite sad movie scenes, from You Can Count on Me and Pretty in Pink to--wait for it-- Dumb and Dumber . (Yes, you read that correctly.) In true Amy Poehler fashion, our latest curator discusses her topic of choice with flair, wit, and, above all else, humor. So grab a tissue and prepare to laugh until you cry. Season Three of Parks and Recreation launches Thursday evening at 9:30 pm ET/PT on NBC.

The Magnificent Seven: An Advance Review of the Next Two Episodes of USA's White Collar

The wait is over: Neal Caffrey (Matthew Bomer) and Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) are back. USA's smart and slick series White Collar returns tonight for the back half of its sophomore season, following a cliffhanger that threatened the life of Neal's shadowy associate Mozzie (the always fantastic Willie Garson), even as the dynamic duo got closer to unmasking the conspiracy surrounding that omnipresent music box. When the series returns with the next two episodes ("Burke's Seven" and "Forging Bonds"), provided to press for review, there's a spirit of both righteous vengeance and calculated craftiness employed by Caffrey and Burke on behalf of poor Mozzie, gunned down by an unknown assailant, and some forward momentum on the music box storyline and just who is pulling the strings of the story's characters. I don't want to give too much away, but I will say that what follows are two fantastic installments, each with their own distinct point of view.

Two-Buck Chuck: The Days of Wine and Roses on Chuck

Proposals are funny things. Pull off an entirely romantic marriage offer and you have a story that you'll be telling your grandchildren in years to come. Fail and it could be, for Sarah's parents, emblematic of everything that went wrong with their relationship. But whether it's an Italian restaurant, or the balcony of a posh French chateau, what really matters is the moment itself, something that Chuck finally grasps at the end of this week's sweet and funny episode ("Chuck Versus the Balcony"), written by Max Denby and directed by Jay Chandrasekhar. It's more about seizing the moment with the one you love than it is about balloons, string quartets, or carriages. Unfortunately, Chuck realizes this lesson too late. In true Chuck fashion, the course of true love never did run smooth and Chuck and his lady love, Sarah Walker, find themselves on opposite trajectories. As Chuck prepares to spend his life with Sarah, she's engaged on a dangerous mission, p