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Striving to Be Better: Expectations and Deviations on Friday Night Lights

I'm just going to say it upfront: I'm hating Julie's storyline. I always like to give Friday Night Lights the benefit of the doubt when it comes to storytelling (except, maybe, for the murder conspiracy storyline in Season Two ), but the weakness of the current college plot for Julie Taylor (Aimee Teegarden) was all the more apparent this week when it was juxtaposed with the strength and grace of the storyline for Vince (Michael B. Jordan). This week's episode of Friday Night Lights ("The Right Hand of the Father"), written by Patrick Massett and John Zinman and directed by David Boyd, attempted to balance the two plots, as well as a third about striving to be a better person in light of last week's disastrous party and the drunken behavior of Maura (Denise Williamson) but it didn't quite all come together for me in the end, due to the lackluster nature of that Julie subplot. Which is a bit of a disappointment, as Jordan's Vince delivered some

A Bird Without Feathers: Life and Death on Game of Thrones

"You may not have my name, but you have my blood." Matters of life and death hung over this week's episode of Game of Thrones ("The Kingsroad"), written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and directed by Tim Van Patten, in which Bran Stark--nearly killed from his fall--hovered uneasily after nearly shuffling off his mortal coil, thanks to the Lannisters. While Jaime and Cersei--so careful to protect their secret--didn't hesitate to silence young Bran, their treachery is now doubly dangerous as the fall didn't kill the little climber of Winterfell. But as Bran lies motionless in his room, change is taking place all around him: Ned leaves for King's Landing, where he will serve as the Hand of the King, and takes his daughters Arya and Sansa with him; Jon Snow heads north for the Wall, where he will take the black and become one of the sworn brothers of the Night's Watch; Robb steps forward and assumes the lordship of Winterfell in his father's

Super 8: Flock of Butterflies on The Killing

"The girl who made that wasn't the pink-bedroom type." - Sarah Linden How well do we know anyone? Can we ever truly know our spouses, our children? The Rosie Larsen that we seen illuminated in her bedroom--the pink walls, that butterfly motif--is dramatically at odds with the Rosie who shot the Super 8 video that Bennet Ahmed shares with Linden and Holder: it's a much darker Rosie, a truer Rosie. This isn't a little girl capturing the easiness of carefree youth. She sees the skull beneath the skin, even as we see a flock of butterflies connect with Rosie as one of their own. In this week's episode of The Killing ("Super 8"), written by Jeremy Doner and directed by Phil Abraham, we begin to see that Rosie may not have been as innocent and wholesome as her parents believe her to be. While her teacher Bennet maintains that their relationship wasn't sexual, that the letters were an "intellectual discourse," the possibility that Rosie ma

Outsiders: Cynicism and Optimism on Friday Night Lights

"State." Throughout the four-plus season run of Friday Night Lights , we've gotten quite a few inspirational speeches from Coach Taylor, spirit-rallying calls to action, soul-stirring St. Crispin's Day speeches intended to join men into a single unit, to merge them together into a single entity before they leap once more into the fray. Sometimes, however, all it takes is a single word scrawled on a dry-erase board. On this week's episode of Friday Night Lights ("On the Outside Looking In"), written by Kerry Ehrin and directed by Michael Waxman, a number of stories about isolation and unity tumbled together in an appealingly loose fashion. There was the nicely rendered parallel stories of Tami and Julie, each adrift in their own way, desperately seeking to fit into an environment that has them ill at ease. Despite the distance between mother and daughter, they're linked here by a taut thematic thread. For Tami, it's an effort to fit into her

Cowboys and Aliens: An Advance Review of Season Six of Doctor Who

"I wear a Stetson now. Stetsons are cool." Let's be upfront about one thing, shall we? While Doctor Who is often thought of as children's entertainment, the long-running and formidable science fiction program is anything but child-like. Yes, the show airs in a decidedly pre-watershed hour in the United Kingdom and, yes, the current Doctor, Matt Smith, has his face emblazoned on everything from sheets to trading cards, but under the aegis of head writer/executive producer Steven Moffat, Season Six of Doctor Who feels quite adult in the best possible sense. If there's a word to describe the first two episodes of Season Six, which kicks off with an astonishing and taut two-parter ("The Impossible Astronaut" and "Day of the Moon"), it's dark. If there was another, it would be trippy. This is Doctor Who at its mind-bending best, a mix of alien invasion intrigue, self-examination, and bizarro twists that unfurl themselves with insidious men

Winter is Coming (Back): HBO Renews Game of Thrones for Second Season

It doesn't take the greensight to know that HBO was going to issue a second season pickup for its fantasy series Game of Thrones , based on the "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels by George R.R. Martin, after the premium cable network touted an impressive 4.2 cumulative viewers for the Sunday broadcasts of the first installment. The announcement about the renewal was issued by Michael Lombardo, president of HBO Programming. “We are delighted by the way David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have brought George R.R. Martin’s amazing book series to the screen, and thrilled by the support of the media and our viewers,” he said in a prepared statement. “This is the continuation of an exciting creative partnership.” No word on when we can expect to see the arrival of Season Two of Game of Thrones or how many episodes the sophomore season will contain, though I'm hoping to see something closer to thirteen episodes as Benioff and Weiss begin to adapt "A Clash of Kings," the

Direwolves in the Woods: Thoughts on the Series Premiere of HBO's Game of Thrones

Winter is coming, as we're told several times throughout the first episode of HBO's lavish and gripping new series, Game of Thrones , based on the George R.R. Martin novel series "A Song of Ice and Fire." It's a belief that the halcyon days of summer will soon be behind us, that the icy grip of winter--true winter--will soon wrap its fingers around our throats. Those happy days are behind us. In the series premiere of Game of Thrones ("Winter is Coming"), written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and directed by Tim Van Patten, the signs and omens are gathering around us. A direwolf has been slain by a stag, in turn killed by the great wolf itself, her children spilling from her bellies as orphans. In a world that moving forward away from superstitions, it's a tableau that should give even the deepest cynics of Westeros pause for thought. Change is coming to Winterfell and, by the time the closing credits of this first episode roll, the Starks have b