Latest Blog Posts

<p>Damian Lewis in &quot;Homeland.&quot;</p>

Damian Lewis in "Homeland."

Credit: Showtime

'Homeland' - 'Pilot': Tie a yellow ribbon

What did everybody think of the new Showtime thriller?

I posted my review of "Homeland" on Friday, and I mostly want to use this post as an excuse to let the rest of you discuss the first episode, but I have a couple of specific thoughts on it that I'll give just as soon as I take off my engagement ring...

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<p>Ray (Thomas Jane)&nbsp;and Tanya (Jane Adams)&nbsp;contemplate a new business venture on &quot;Hung.&quot;</p>

Ray (Thomas Jane) and Tanya (Jane Adams) contemplate a new business venture on "Hung."

Credit: HBO

Season premiere review: 'Hung': The secret of our success

Ray and Tanya finally get their act together as the third season begins

"Hung" is back for a third season, and though I dismissed the show in the past, I have a few thoughts on the premiere coming up just as soon as I stigmatize the vulva...

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<p>A scene from Sunday's &quot;The Amazing Race&quot;</p>

A scene from Sunday's "The Amazing Race"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' - 'The Sprint of Our Life'

The teams hit Indonesia and reading proves to be a struggle
Sunday (October 2) night was apparently a big deal on "The Amazing Race," as the episode marked the first double-elimination in the show's history.
 
In honor of the occasion, you'd figure "Amazing Race" would whip out some devilish challenges to task the players mentally and physically, truly weeding out the two weakest pairings.
 
If you'd figure that, you'd be wrong, of course. Then again, if you're an "Amazing Race" fan, you never would have figured such a silly thing in the first place.
 
No, Sunday night's "Amazing Race" episode hinged on only one thing and taught only one meaningful lesson: 
 
Do *not* screw around with Phil Keoghan where Indonesian orphans are concerned. 
 
That's how Sunday's episode came down to simple literacy and cost the show the season's highest profile team.
 
Click through for a full recap...
 
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<p>Dexter (Michael C. hall)&nbsp;back in action for season 6.</p>

Dexter (Michael C. hall) back in action for season 6.

Credit: Showtime

'Dexter' - 'Those Kinds of Things': Stop. Hammer time

Dexter attends his high school reunion

A quick review of the "Dexter" season premiere coming up just as soon as I'm the future or boring...

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<p>Margaret (Kelly Macdonald)&nbsp;enjoys a nice meal on &quot;Boardwalk Empire.&quot;</p>

Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) enjoys a nice meal on "Boardwalk Empire."

Credit: HBO

'Boardwalk Empire' - 'Ourselves Alone': I can't get no satisfaction

Many people try to demonstrate their power, but only some actually have it

A review of tonight's "Boardwalk Empire" coming up just as soon as I fall into the shoe polish...

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<p>&nbsp;Damian Lewis and Claire Danes of &quot;Homeland&quot;</p>
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 Damian Lewis and Claire Danes of "Homeland"

Credit: Showtime

TV Review: Showtime's 'Homeland'

Damian Lewis and Claire Danes make this new thriller hum
For eight years, Jack Bauer fought terrorism in a fictional world in which the real world still resonated.
 
On FOX's "24," the terrorists were fake, the politicians were fake and the adversarial nations were frequently fake, but from its premiere to its finale, 9/11 and an actual War on Terror provided an off-screen backdrop for viewers. In an era of actual paranoia and uncertainty, Jack Bauer couldn't truly keep us safe, but every Monday night, he was the living, breathing, decapitating, gun-toting embodiment of the Patriot Act.
 
In contrast, Showtime's new drama "Homeland" is set in a version of the real world, but one in which the fictional world is constantly resonating.
 
Although nobody is mentioning "Barack Obama" or "George W. Bush," the "Homeland" backdrop includes 9/11, includes the dead of Osama Bin Ladin and doesn't feature a single country called Arabistan or Freedonia. And yet, for all of the tangible horrors "Homeland" is able to evoke, what it evokes most successfully is two versions of "The Manchurian Candidate," Showtime's "Sleeper Cell," a dozen edgy conspiracy dramas from the '70s and, of course, "24."
 
Premiering on Sunday (October 2) night on Showtime, "Homeland" is a taut, marvelously acted thriller that will make you think fondly of classics in the genre, even if it doesn't necessarily make you think that hard about anything of contemporary substance.
 
More after the break...
 
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<p>Gary Oldman and John Hurt as George Smiley and Control in &quot;Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.&quot;</p>

Gary Oldman and John Hurt as George Smiley and Control in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy."

Credit: Focus Features

Review: 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' brings superb suspense and style to the Cold War

Fantastic cast contributes to one of the best films of the year

LONDON - George Smiley is a loyal man.  A gentleman who has served his country's spy apparatus for decades.  Not only has he been loyal to the United Kingdom, under the stressful burden of the Cold War mind you, but to his fiery boss who simply is known as Control (John Hurt).  But, within the first 10 minutes of "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," Smiley finds himself without a job as he takes the fall after a mission in the Eastern Bloc goes terribly wrong.  Moreover, Control, who also resigns, doesn't give a reason why Smiley is being forced to depart let alone bother to say "thank you" or "goodbye" for all their years of service together as they depart.  And yet, Smiley doesn't rage.  He doesn't complain.  In fact, he doesn't say a word. He just tries to move on with his life even as his wife, Ann (purposely only seen in shadows), has left him.  That is, of course, until he's brought back to MI6 by a government minister (Simon McBurney) concerned that there may be a Soviet mole at the top of what they refer to as the "Circus." 

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<p>Tony Bennett&nbsp;</p>
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Tony Bennett 

Credit: AP

Music Power Rankings: Tony Bennett, J. Cole, Justin Timberlake and Adele

Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue

1) Tony Bennett: At 85, he lands the first No. 1 album of his career. Imagine what he’ll do to celebrate turning 100?

2) J. Cole: Rapper, whose mix tapes lead to his signing with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label, is a lock to see his label debut, the appropriately titled “Cole World: the Sideline Story,” bow at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. That hardly sounds like the sideline to us.

3) Spotify:
The music streaming service’s usage soars 50% after it integrates with Facebook. Looks like Daniel Ek has found a new friend in Mark Zuckerberg.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Melissa McCarthy</p>
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Melissa McCarthy

Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' - Melissa McCarthy and Lady Antebellum

Recent Emmy winner and Grammy favorites oversee the season's second episode

Melissa McCarthy is having quite the year. A breakout performance in the film “Bridesmaids,” an Emmy for her performance on “Mike and Molly,” and now this, her inaugural hosting appearance on “Saturday Night Live.” Will tonight just be a series of sketches involving her and Kristin Wiig? Will fellow “Bridesmaids” star/former “SNL” alum Mya Rudolph drop by? Will musical guest Lady Antebellum do me a favor and NOT play “Need You Now”? Because I only got that ear worm out of my head last week, and I’d prefer to have it stay that way. 

Only one way to find out. Onto tonight’s recap!  

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<p>The Doctor (Matt Smith)&nbsp;in the &quot;Doctor Who&quot;&nbsp;season finale.</p>

The Doctor (Matt Smith) in the "Doctor Who" season finale.

Credit: BBC

'Doctor Who' - 'The Wedding of River Song': All at once

The Doctor confronts the Silence with a little help from his friends

A review of the "Doctor Who" season finale coming up just as soon as I go out with you for texting and scones...

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<p>OK&nbsp;Go</p>

OK Go

Interview: Will OK Go make a full-length movie?

Damian Kulash explains what makes this video-making foursome different from Rihanna

Damian Kulash didn’t set out to have a band that dances on treadmills or invested part of its profits in color coordinated suits. But OK Go has become a brand, on top of an expression of the evolving nature of the music business. Their reputation for producing forward-thinking and fun-fashioned music videos has allowed them some rare opportunities, like re-making the “The Muppet Show” theme for the new movie, creating a fight song for hometown Chicago’s pro soccer team and penning “The Greatest Song I Ever Heard” for Morgan Spurlock’s “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.” 

The foursome was at first on Capitol records and now run their own show, label and publishing; they are their own A&R and advances, which has allowed them to collaborate with companies like Chrome and then turn around to engineers from MIT. Regardless of audiences opinion of OK Go’s variety of pop rock, it can’t be denied they’ve influenced music videos, “viral” videos (whatever the hell that means anymore) and independent marketing.
 
Late this summer I sat down with Kulash to discuss the band’s goals with the next record, their plans for more videos and what makes them different from Rihanna.
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<p>Michael C. Hall of &quot;Dexter&quot;</p>
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Michael C. Hall of "Dexter"

Credit: Showtime

TV Review: Showtime's 'Dexter' Season 6

After a promising premiere, 'Dexter' gets bogged down in religion
Quick: Without going through episode-by-episode in your mind, tell me the overarching theme that unified Season 5 of "Dexter."
 
If you ponder long enough, you'll see ideas of forgiveness and reinvention and finding new ways to see yourself, often through the eyes of others, but you'd never be able to respond to my challenge with an instant one-word answer.
 
Now that you're in the mood, quick: Without going through episode-by-episode in your mind, tell me the overarching theme that unified Season 4 of "Dexter."
 
Again, there's no way you're going to shoot off an instant answer, but if you ponder the whole John Lithgow arc, I'm sure you'd notice musings on assimilation, on how successfully or unsuccessfully any of us can cover our inner monsters with a facade of civility. Or something. [I would accept "Fatherhood" as the season's theme.]
 
I could go on, but these weren't meant as Zen koans or as trick questions. Some TV shows do brazen season-long thematic arcs quite well. I'd point to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" as a fine example of a show that, if you waited long enough, would always find a way to unify the Big Bad, Buffy's journey and many of the supporting journeys. But most shows, even highly serialized shows, either bury seasonal thematic arcs deep under the surface -- it's something that's on the board in the writers' room, but maybe not a literally articulated piece of every episode -- or they just don't bother at all. I'd generously say that "Dexter" fits into the latter category, especially since "identity" has always been the show's uber-theme, writ so large nothing else would even be necessary.
 
Well, somebody in the "Dexter" production team decided that this season would be a little different. They decided that the sixth season of "Dexter" was going to be about religion and not just in a casual way. "Religion" is at the heart of the core "Dexter" plotline for this season, but also at the center of the B-story and the C-story this season. It's been the center of the art/poster campaign and it's been the center of most on-air promotions.    
 
It's everywhere. 
 
And it's excruciating. 
 
"Dexter," as a series, does so many things so consistently well, but it turns out that bludgeoning viewers with issues of faith and spirituality isn't one of them. After a lively and appealingly hilarious premiere (airing on Sunday, October 2), "Dexter" goes entirely off the rails with two episodes hobbled by clumsy victims-of-the-week and then crushed with endless repetition of the core theme: Yes, "Dexter." We get it. This season is about religion, but if it's not going to be an intelligent or thoughtful treatise on religion, I'd kinda prefer the series return to just being gristly and entertaining, rather than ponderous and dogmatic.
 
More after the break...
 
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