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Showing posts with the label Summer Series

BuzzFeed: "Orange Is the New Black Continues The Dickensian Tradition Of The Wire"

The second season of the Netflix prison drama is a gripping, beautiful, majestic thing. Warning: Spoilers for Season 2 ahead! At BuzzFeed, you can read my latest feature, " Orange Is the New Black Continues The Dickensian Tradition Of The Wire ," in which I review Season 2 of Netflix's Orange Is the New Black , which returns June 6 on the streaming platform. There are the television shows that you love to watch but that drift from powerful and provocative to comforting background noise, and then there are those that arrive with the momentous force of a revolution, issuing a clarion cry that is impossible to resist. Women’s prison drama Orange Is the New Black , which returns for its second season on June 6, is most definitely the latter, a groundbreaking and deeply layered series that explores crime and punishment, poor circumstance, and bad luck. (At its heart, it is about both the choices we make and those that are made for us.) It constructs a gripping narrativ

The Daily Beast: "Ray Donovan: Is the Liev Schreiber–Led Showtime Drama The Next Sopranos?"

I review Showtime’s fixer drama Ray Donovan , which begins Sunday night and stars Liev Schreiber as a Hollywood fixer whose South Boston past creates present-day troubles. At The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Ray Donovan : Is the Liev Schreiber–Led Showtime Drama The Next Sopranos ?" in which I review Showtime's fantastic new drama Ray Donovan , which premieres on Sunday night at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The specter of HBO’s still-mourned organized crime family drama The Sopranos, which arguably kicked off the latest golden age of television, can be glimpsed in the foundations of nearly every cable drama that has come since, ushering in an era of the male antihero that has permeated the popular culture. The Sopranos’s mischievous, malevolent spirit flits through Showtime’s outstanding new drama Ray Donovan, which premieres Sunday night at 10 p.m. Starring Liev Schreiber as the titular character, the show—created by Ann Biderman, who also created the gripping

The Daily Beast: "Under the Dome Is One Eerie TV Show"

From Stephen King and Steven Spielberg comes Under the Dome, a weird, scary, and potentially great excuse to stay inside this summer. I dissect tonight’s premiere. At The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Under the Dome Is One Eerie TV Show," in which I review CBS's eerie new drama Under the Dome , based on Stephen King's 2009 novel of the same name, which begins tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT. In the not-too-distant future, the inhabitants of Chester’s Mill—a small and seemingly idyllic town in Anywhere, U.S.A.—suddenly discover their town is trapped inside an invisible barrier of unknown origin. Birds fall from the sky, numerous vehicles crash, and a blood-red handprint on this transparent dome becomes a sigil of awe and fear. This is the basis for CBS’s intriguing new “event” drama series, Under the Dome, which begins its 13-episode summer run tonight at 10 p.m. (While some have referred to it as a “miniseries,” it is most definitely an ongoing serie

The Daily Beast: "17 Shows Worth Watching This Summer"

Get out of the sun—there’s recovering zombies, addictive serial-killer mysteries, and the Breaking Bad finale on TV. My take on what not to miss for this cool summer season. At The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "17 Shows Worth Watching This Summer," in which I round up 17 shows worth watching during the sweltering months to come, from FX's The Bridge and BBC America's Broadchurch to ABC Family's Switched at Birth  and CBS's Under The Dome . (Plus, Showtime's Ray Donovan , which SHOULD NOT BE MISSED.) Summer isn’t the television wasteland that it used to be. While the broadcasters are still figuring out what to do with their real estate during these lazy months (original drama? reality competitions? burn-offs?), cable channels have long known the power of airing high-profile series throughout the heat, and there is quite a lot of original programming to be seen during these next sweltering months. CBS is launching the event ser

The Daily Beast: "Political Animals: Greg Berlanti on the Clintons, Fiction, and More"

I talk with creator Greg Berlanti about Political Animals , which begins Sunday, about whether his characters are analogs for Bill and Hillary Clinton, and more. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, " Political Animals : Greg Berlanti on the Clintons, Fiction, and More," in which I talk to Berlanti about USA's new soapy political drama, whether Sigourney Weaver's Elaine Barrish and Ciaran Hinds' Bud Hammond are stand-ins for Hillary and Bill Clinton, the future of the show, and more. It’s difficult to avoid the Bill and Hillary Clinton comparisons in Political Animals , USA’s ambitious and soapy six-episode miniseries, which begins Sunday. Created by Greg Berlanti ( Everwood ), the limited-run series’ plot revolves around Sigourney Weaver’s Elaine Barrish, a former first lady who becomes the U.S. Secretary of State after a failed presidential bid, and a highly public sex scandal involving her husband, Bud Hammond (Ciaran Hinds). Sound

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’

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

Day of the Dead: Thoughts on the Season Finale of HBO's True Blood

"I'll always be with you." I've been quiet about the last few episodes of True Blood , partly because I've had a massive amount of deadlines at work and am in the process of moving house (and taking time off as a result), but also because my enthusiasm for the series has waned considerably during the final few installments of Season Four. After a series of strong episodes, I felt the quality drop considerably out of the final third of the season. I will say, however, that I did quite enjoy the season finale ("And When I Die"), written by Raelle Tucker and directed by Scott Winant, which is a head-scratcher as I typically don't love the True Blood season finales as a rule, as they tend to be more about setting up the next season than wrapping up storylines. (I tend to think of them more as epilogues or codas than anything else.) Given how little I've liked the rally massacre/standoff at Moon Goddess storylines, I was surprised by how much ple

True Blood's Downward Turn (Or Why I'm Not Writing a Typical Review This Week)

Confession: I couldn't bring myself to rewatch last night's episode of True Blood . This hasn't happened to date. Typically, I watch the series via press screener a few weeks ahead of broadcast and then sit down on Sunday night to rewatch the week's latest installment in order to have it fresh in my mind so I can write my review. This was not what happened this week. In fact, I was so turned off by Sunday's episode ("Let's Get Out of Here"), written by Brian Buckner and directed by Romeo Tirone, that I couldn't actually force myself to sit through it again. Which is saying something, I think. Perhaps it was the overabundance of Emma (shudder), the hostage standoff/ Ghost Whisperer plot of Lafayette (double shudder), Sookie's intensely unerotic dream, or the irritating showdown at the Vampire Rights rally (yawn), this episode just got under my skin in the worst possible way. I've been able to rationalize a lot with True Blood and fin

Shot Through the Heart: Spellbound on True Blood

"She has a warrior's heart." - Eric Upfront: I haven't read the Sookie Stackhouse novels, so I approach HBO's True Blood from a very different vantage point than I do, say, Game of Thrones , where I'm familiar with the novels, the characters, and where the story is going several seasons down the road. Not so with True Blood , which means that I'm not approaching the material with any degree of anticipation of future events, seminal moments, or the infamous shower scene, which--as promised by yours truly several weeks ago--did play out this week, albeit in a vastly different fashion than many of Charlaine Harris' fans expected. They say that familiarity breeds contempt, but the reverse is also true: familiarity can breed passionate love, particularly where adaptation is involved. Knowledge of the source material can color one's perceptions of an adaptation, especially one which strays from the established for the new. I say this with no judgmen

Bright Light, Dark Star: Fun in the Sun on True Blood

Enter the daylight. Vampires, as we all know (or at least within the world of the Sookie Stackhouse novels and True Blood ), are denied the warmth of the sun and forced to spend their existence in the cold darkness of night. Sookie Stackhouse's faerie blood allows the user to daywalk, granting limited exposure to the sunlight for the vampire in question. But this is just a taste of the sun's light; it's far from permanent and it often leaves the user even more vulnerably cast back into the shadows. Sunlight, then, is deadly: the rays of the sun bring the one true death, a crispy, sizzling, burning one as a vampire is consumed from within, their blood boiling and their skin smoldering in the heat. It is not a pleasant demise by any stretch, which must be why vengeful spirit Antonia finds it so deliciously simpatico with her needs: bring the vampires into the one thing they all crave but cannot survive. Quite a lot happens in this week's episode of True Blood (&quo

Howling at the Moon: The Price of Being Special on True Blood

"There ain't no such thing as normal." As I said on Twitter last night, I thought that this week's episode of True Blood was the strongest installment the series has had in quite some time. Beautiful and emotionally resonant (as well as overflowing with plot), this week's thought-provoking episode ("I Wish I Was the Moon"), written by Raelle Tucker and directed by Jeremy Podeswa, revolved around the full moon over Bon Temps and found the sleepy (and yet supes-teeming) town coming to terms with themselves and their true natures. This thematically made quite a lot of sense with the use of the full moon--planted several episodes ago--bringing out the "special" in quite a few of the supernatural denizens of Bon Temps. But it was the sequence between Ryan Kwanten's Jason Stackhouse and Deborah Ann Woll's Jessica that stood out as the heart of the episode, as the two lay on their backs in the woods staring up at the moon. Would Jason t

The Daily Beast: "True Blood’s Scene-Stealer"

As Pam, True Blood 's resident bitchy vampire, Kristin Bauer van Straten has walked off with the drama’s best lines and many of its scenes. Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, entitled " True Blood ’s Scene-Stealer," in which I sit down with Kristin Bauer van Straten to talk about Pam, Eric, and Alexander Skarsgard, as well as her background and why she nearly quit acting. (Plus, Seinfeld 's "Man Hands!") True Blood airs Sunday evenings at 9 pm ET/PT on HBO.

Chains: Capture and Release on True Blood

"There's a light in you, it's beautiful. I couldn't bear it if I snuffed it out." - Eric Northman Imprisonment, both literal and figurative, seemed to be one of the underlying themes of this week's episode of True Blood ("Me and the Devil"), written by Mark Hudis and directed by Daniel Minahan, which found the various characters encountering their worst fears and darkest truths about their natures. Tommy Mickens began the episode wrapped up in chains, ensnared by his no-good mercenary parents, but his storyline in this week's episode closed out with Tommy victorious over them, though his sense of guilt caged him anew. (In literature, there is nothing worse than a kinslayer, a grievous sin that one of the worst that anyone can perpetrate. There are cosmic consequences that come from spilling one's own blood, after all.) Tara found that she had trapped herself by the lies she's constructed about her identity; Eric by the unexpected sh

The Way of All Flesh: Corruption and Decay on True Blood

"I'd never harm you." - Eric Northman In the world of True Blood , vampires may be a part of nature, but they also exist in their own unique sphere of the natural world. After all, their status quo is vastly different than anything else on the planet: they shun the light and their bodies retain their youthful looks after centuries--or even millennia--upon this earth. There's an unnaturalness to their very naturalness, even in Charlaine Harris' and Alan Ball's vision of the world. Which might explain why the vampires are so concerned about necromancy: it represents a real threat to the very balance of their existence. Vampires are dead, after all, and necromancers have an uncanny knack for controlling the dead. Which means that their very autonomy is at threat, and as we saw this week, necromancers like Marnie have the ability to remind the vampires that they are in fact the walking dead. On this week's episode of True Blood ("I'm Alive and