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<p>The Leftovers</p>

The Leftovers

Credit: HBO

Series premiere review: 'The Leftovers' - 'Pilot'

The world struggles to move on from a Rapture-like event

"The Leftovers" debuted on HBO tonight. I published a review of the early part of the season on Wednesday, and an interview with creators Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta on Thursday, and now I have specific thoughts on the first episode coming up just as soon as I wonder how Gary Busey made the cut...

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<p>Sunday&#39;s &quot;True Blood&quot;</p>

Sunday's "True Blood"

Credit: HBO

Recap: 'True Blood' - 'I Found You'

This show is going to town on all the things that may be least important to the audience.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, “True Blood” would like to give you what you want from it. This is not a Brechtian experiment in raising awareness of the audience’s desire to have its feelings manipulated in the name of “entertainment” by frustrating and disappointing us at every turn; at its best, it’s a robust sexy horror comedy made by HBO pros. But it’s been having trouble being scary and funny—intentionally, anyway—because of creative exhaustion, or the contempt that’s bred by familiarity, or because Alan Ball has left the building. Or maybe its priorities are just screwed up. “I Found You” opens with a languorously paced scene in which Jason Stackhouse tracks down Eric, standing in front of a window with his shirt open, as if practicing his moodiness. “Why’d you come here, Jason?” asks Eric “I came because I knew you’d ask that f***ing question,” replies Jason, who accuses Eric of running away to escape their undeniable, unspoken passion for each other: “Ah cain’t get you out of mah head,” he drawls. “But you probably hear that a lot, don’t you?” The two end up in a fierce and shirtless lip lock. 

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10 deserving Oscar contenders from the first half of 2014

10 deserving Oscar contenders from the first half of 2014

At the year's mid-way point, we look spotlight some contenders we'd like to see in the race

Tomorrow, half of the year will officially be in the books. So far 2014 has been, well, sort of up and down — for me, anyway. There have been a few indie/specialty/prestige delights, though just as many have fallen short. The same disparity is evident in the on-going summer blockbuster landscape, where for every "Godzilla" or "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" there are the requisite stinkers keeping the year in perspective.

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<p>NBC&#39;s &quot;Constantine&quot;</p>

NBC's "Constantine"

Credit: NBC

Take Me To The Pilots '14: NBC's 'Constantine'

Neil Marshall keeps the DC Comics' pilot interesting, but is that enough?

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

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'Designing Women' star Meshach Taylor dies

“Designing Women” star Meshach Taylor dies
Taylor, who also co-starred on “Dave’s World" and other TV shows, died Saturday of cancer. He was 67.


Report: "True Detective" Season 2 will have just 1 male lead
According to The Wrap, the first script shows only one male lead, while there are additional male and female co-stars.


“Girl Meets World” debuts to 5.2 million
The “Boy Meets World” spinoff ranked as the No. 1 series launch this year among kids and tweens.

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<p>Elyes Gabel and Katharine McPhee of &quot;Scorpion&quot;</p>

Elyes Gabel and Katharine McPhee of "Scorpion"

Credit: CBS

Take Me To The Pilots '14: CBS' 'Scorpion'

'Katharine McPhee: Nerd Wrangler' gets a pilot boost from director Justin Lin

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

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Toughest Best and Worst ever: 'Transformers: Age of Extinction'

Toughest Best and Worst ever: 'Transformers: Age of Extinction'

We really had to search for some Best's with this one

"Transformers: Age of Extinction" is headed for one of the biggest openings of the year. Even with the worst reviews of the series to date, Michael Bay and Paramount's giant robot franchise has proved it has a ton of life left in it.

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<p>&quot;Black-ish&quot;</p>

"Black-ish"

Credit: ABC

Take Me To The Pilots '14: ABC's 'Black-ish'

Anthony Anderson comedy has things on its mind, no idea how to say them

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

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Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran takes 'X' to No. 1 on next week's album chart

Who else debuts in the top 10?

Ed Sheeran will land his first No. 1 album next week as “X” easily tops the Billboard 200.

It’s a good week to be a British singer/songwriter. Following Sheeran at No. 1 (with sales of up to 210,000),  Sam Smith’s “In The Lonely Hour” will hold at No. 2 (72,000).

The second of four debuts comes in at No. 3, as rapper G-Easy’s “These Things Happen” sells 48,000. Also bowing in the top 10 will be hard rock heavyweights Mastadon with “Once More ‘Round The Sun” at No. 8 (28,000), and Phish, whose “Fuego” swims in at No. 9 (28,000).

This week’s No. 1, Lana Del Rey’s “Ultraviolence” will likely drop to No. 4 (45,000). The unsinkable soundtrack to “Frozen” remains afloat at No. 5 (40,000). Miranda Lambert’s “Platinum” falls to No. 6 (30,000) and Linkin Park’s “The Hunting Party,” drops to No. 7(30,000). At No. 10 is “Now That’s What I Call Music 50” (24,000), according to Hits Daily Double.

 

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<p>&quot;Girl Meets World&quot;</p>

"Girl Meets World"

Credit: Disney Channel

'Girl Meets World' premieres strong on Friday, while 'Rake' limps off for FOX

'Crossbones' is now struggling for NBC

The long-awaited series premiere of "Girl Meets World" did big numbers for Disney Channel on Friday (June 27) night, but it still couldn't keep up with its lead-in, the original movie "Zapped."

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Barack Obama, John Singleton and the Academy toast 'Do the Right Thing'
Credit: Universal Pictures

Barack Obama, John Singleton and the Academy toast 'Do the Right Thing'

Remembering a masterpiece 25 years later

Yes, another day, another anniversary. But this one is quite noteworthy.

Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" turns 25 on Monday. It is a film I first saw when I was young, but I wasn't at all ready for it. I saw it again in film school and noticed I had grown with it, but it still whipped up complex feelings (as only the best films can). I've revisited it a number of times over the years and come to cherish it as one of the greatest pieces of cinema ever conjured, but the Academy frankly seemed like it was holding its nose just to give it the two nominations it received a quarter century ago.

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Review: 'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes" is a daring and dazzling accomplishment
Credit: 20th Century Fox

Review: 'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes" is a daring and dazzling accomplishment

This series is actually getting better from film to film

One of the words that was used most frequently when describing "Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes" was "surprise," and with good reason. After all, the previous attempt to bring the long-running science-fiction franchise back to life was a nightmare, a truly terrible film that is a narrative disaster even among the narrative disasters that mark many of Tim Burton's lesser films. It seemed like Fox had limped along trying to get an "Apes" movie made for so long that they were willing to try anything.

Scott Frank came close to getting a film make called "Caesar," and it sounded like he was on the right track. His basic idea started with a Fox-mandated remake of "Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes," but went in a very different direction. His film was designed to be a hard-science story about what might happen if we made the advance in genetic modification that would lead to apes that spoke and thoughts the same way we do, and he researched the state of the art of motion-capture and character animation.

This was around the end of 2008, the start of 2009, and when he moved on, Fox must have remained excited about the basic idea. Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver pitched their own origin movie, using alzheimer's research as the jumping-off point, and they ended up writing the film that Rupert Wyatt directed. That film, featuring a performance by Andy Serkis as Caesar, wasn't the biggest box-office hit of 2011, but it was a film that was respected and liked and that people were pleasantly delighted by, something that almost always ends up creating more passionate fans. It's one thing when we've all got some pop culture icon jammed down our throats. Even when it's done well, it feels pre-packaged. But when something that we aren't expecting wins us over, we tend to be much more passionate about it.

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