“Happy,” Pharrell Williams’ Oscar-nominated ditty remains No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for its fourth week, while the Top 10 welcomes some newcomers.
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Stop me if you've heard this one before: In elementary school at some point, we had to do extended book reports. I chose "Lord of the Flies," as you do. Well, part of the assignment was to select a character you liked at the beginning of the book and do a chapter-by-chapter diary from that character's point of view.
I sympathized and empathized with Piggy, so he was an easy choice for my diary-writing. For a couple chapters, I wrote lengthy entries about the challenges of being a pudgy, bespectacled outsider in a group of increasingly feral kids, discovering how quickly the trappings of civilization fall away. Then, of course, very bad things happen to Piggy and his beloved conch.
Briefly, I was crushed. Subsequently, I realized that my assignment had just gotten vastly easier. For the last chunk of the diary, I wrote nothing other than the chapter and "Still dead."
There are a variety of reasons why Piggy's death in "Lord of the Flies" is so shocking and powerful. You don't necessarily need to love the character. Frankly, he's a bit of a pill. Other characters want to be noble or savage. Piggy wants to be civilized and domesticated in exactly the way a grown-up would want them to be, not in any organic way. His death doesn't have subtle meaning. It has whack-you-over-the-head-with-a-mallet portentous meaning, but it still hits home. It hurts because you don't want the character to die, but you also don't want the idea that the character represents to die. And it kicks you in the groin because "Lord of the Flies" was written back in the days before "Hunger Games" and whatnot, back when the idea of killing off juvenile characters in fiction was something that writers didn't do haphazardly. Writers had to earn those deaths and they didn't make the assumption that they were being badass just because they offed somebody too young to buy scratchers at the 7-11.
The flipside of that coin might be The CW's new drama "The 100," which premieres on Wednesday (March 19) night in the protected 9 p.m. confines after "Arrow."
We've made a lot of jokes over the years about The CW's assembly line of hot young stars, with the punchlines peaking this fall when the network actually dipped back into the Amell gene pool to pair Robbie Amell's "Tomorrow People" with Stephen's "Arrow." We always suspected that CW stars were a renewable and somewhat interchangeable resource, often harvested and refined from Australia. But with "The 100," the formula has expanded to accentuate the disposable nature of these chiseled, all vaguely familiar thespians.
The CW once talked about doing a "Battle Royale" series, but the network seemed to realize that in a post-Columbine, post-Newtown, post-Aurora world, some tip-going was required. "The 100" isn't that "Battle Royale" remake, but it is a futuristic drama that revels in killing off young characters, sometimes with intended gravity, but usually with a cavalier shrug of disinterest. There's so much happening and so many characters moving around in "The 100" that it's impossible to care about anybody getting killed off, so you're just supposed to feel like the show is exhibiting braveness on principle.
Here's the weird and confusing and disappointing thing about "The 100": If I had reviewed it off of the first two episodes, I'd have been veering in the direction of a D/F-grade review and you'd have gotten to see Angry Dan. If I'd have reviewed it off of the first four episodes, I probably wouldn't have moved above a D+/C-. I've seen six episodes and my grade has inched up even more. I thought those first two episodes were awful -- Badly written characters being acted poorly and put through uninteresting pacts. I thought the next two episodes were bad -- Still badly written, poorly acted characters, but at least they were doing some unpredictably things.
The last two episodes I watched? I'm not going to say they're good. They're not. But there's a narrative that's finally taking shape and a few -- not close to all -- of the actors are settling in to their roles, correcting performances that were misdirected in the pilot. I'm still struggling to find a single character whose fate I'm even vaguely invested in, but my outright antipathy towards some of the characters had begun to fade.
In the end, that makes for a conflicted review on "The 100." I really can't recommend the show at all. But if you're intrigued by the premise and kernels of the pilot interest you, I can assert that "The 100" gets better. That's tepid encouragement in general, but it's more enthusiastic if you watch the pilot and you actually like it.
Honestly, that could probably be my review, but more detailed and show-specific thoughts are after the break.
On some level, I’m still having a hard time believing that Dan Harmon is back running “Community,” and that the show has been as good as it’s been for most of this season. Large entertainment conglomerates are not generally in the business of rehiring idiosyncratic creators whom they have fired, and TV shows that go off the rails as badly as “Community” did in the Harmon-less fourth season rarely return to former levels of glory.
As with Sunday night's "Lost" panel, I stepped in to do a little TV duty this week and attended tonight's "Parks and Recreation" panel at the PaleyFest.
I'm not sure there's a group of characters that I like spending time with each week as much as the "Parks" group right now. Pawnee has taken its place right alongside Springfield as one of the most fully-realized comedy communities in TV history. Each year, we learn more about the people of Pawnee and we learn more about the main characters and we just plain dig deeper into the roiling cauldron of weird that is headed up by the great Leslie Knope, played by the also-great Amy Poehler.
After a very spirited round of interviews on the red carpet, I headed upstairs where they were just starting to screen this Thursday's new episode, "Galentine's Day." After this, there are only six more episodes this year, and there was a fair amount of talk tonight on the carpet about how crazy the finale is going to be. Nick Offerman talked about trying to shoot a scene with Michelle Obama, but in the end honoring their mutual decision to always stay 250 feet away from each other so they don't make their respective spouses suspicious. Jim O'Heir talked about how he worked with Genuwine twice before learning that Genuwine is actually famous and not something made up for the show. It sounds like they've gone as big as they can, but week to week right now, I feel like they are just effortlessly knocking it out of the park. With characters this great and a cast this gifted, how can they do anything but make great TV?
"Soap" star Billy Crystal is returning to series television with "The Comedians," which has been ordered to series by FX.
The half-hour project stars Crystal as a superstar veteran comic who is paired with an edgier up-and-coming comic (Josh Gad), leading to "an unfiltered, behind-the-scenes look at a late night sketch comedy show where egos and generations collide."
As a professional film critic -- whatever that may be -- I have a handful of concrete rules by which I ply my ostensible trade, and not reviewing films by or heavily involving close friends is one of them. Which presents a bit of a problem when tasked with writing about any given Muppet movie.
No, I can't claim I've ever knocked back a beer with Kermit the Frog, gone shopping with Miss Piggy or got close to any of the cloth-skinned crowd without the dividing wall of a television screen between us, but damn it if I don't feel closer to them than I do to any number of human names in my address book. Growing up, I knew their vaudeville numbers inside out. I'd record the umpteenth rerun of even the Crystal Gayle episode with completist's excitement. And I treasured my Kermit toothbrush until the bristles began falling out, ignoring the fact that he wasn't the most dentally appropriate role model.
“SNL” books Anna Kendrick and Seth Rogen as hosts, Pharrell and Ed Sheeran as musical guests
Kendrick will make her hosting debut on April 5, joined by Pharrell in his first solo appearance as an “SNL” musical guest. Rogen will host the following week, with Sheeran as musical guest. “SNL” also announced Louis CK’s musical guest, Sam Smith, who will be making his “SNL” debut next week.
FX picks up Billy Crystal's "The Comedians," also starring Josh Gad
Crystal is returning to primetime in a comedy based on a Swedish show about a veteran comic who is reluctantly paired with an edgy, younger comic (Gad).
“Mad Men” unveils psychedelic airport trailer
“It’s All Up in the Air."
George R.R. Martin proposes ending “Game of Thrones” with a big-budget movie
"It all depends on how long the main series runs,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Do we run for seven years? Do we run for eight? Do we run for 10? The books get bigger and bigger (in scope). It might need a feature to tie things up, something with a feature budget, like $100 million for two hours. Those dragons get real big, you know."
“The Game’s” Brittany Daniel: I’m a cancer survivor
Daniel talks about learning of her non-Hodgkin's lymphoma while filming the BET series.
"Raising Hope's" Garret Dillahunt is headed to Amazon
He's joining "Sons of Anarchy's" Ron Perlman in Amazon’s drama pilot "Hand Of God.
Watch Jennie Garth & Tori Spelling as “Mystery Girls”
ABC Family has unveiled its first trailer for the drama reuniting the “Beverly Hills 90210” co-stars.
TV Land orders web comedy “Teachers” from producer Alison Brie
The “Community” star will helm the scripted comedy as the web show’s stars reprise their roles on TV Land.
Netflix is continuing its original programming onslaught with the new half-hour "Grace and Frankie," and this comedy comes front loaded with names sure to resonate with the Baby Boomer set. Oscar-winner Jane Fonda will co-star with Lily Tomlin in what Netflix promises will be a "very different kind of sitcom" from "Friends" creator Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris.
ABC has set its Spring 2014 finale dates, which include the anticipated early exit for the truncated season of "Scandal," plus a two-hour finale for "Once Upon a Time."
“Masters of Sex” returns this summer, paired with “Ray Donovan”
Both Showtime dramas will kick off their 2nd seasons on July 13.
Judd Apatow expects “Girls” to run 6 seasons, but an ending hasn't been figured out
"We've talked about doing six seasons," he says. "I guess that could change. It's not set. I think we're all committed that we'll do six.” Apatow also talks about “Girls” sex scenes, saying: "There have been things on ‘Girls' where HBO has said to us, 'If we put this on TV, we literally could lose our license to broadcast.’"
Check out CBS’ “Bad Teacher” starring Kristin Davis, David Alan Grier and Ryan Hansen
Here’s your 1st look at the sitcom based on the movie.
Alec Baldwin “nails” his “jerk role” on tonight’s “SVU”
"What is it they say about art imitating life? Well, blowhard Alec Baldwin is really good . . . at playing a jerk,” says the NY Post. That the media-hating actor can play a total tool so well — like the proverbial moth to the flame — in Wednesday night’s episode of 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit' should surprise no one who has witnessed Baldwin’s public-meltdown act.” PLUS: Producer says Baldwin’s role had nothing to do with his public life.
Dean Norris gets a new “Under the Dome” rival: Dwight Yoakam
The country singer will play a barbershop owner with a complicated history with Big Jim.
50 Cent's “Power” adds Victor Garber and “Lost’s” Sonya Walger
They’ll play husband and wife on the Starz drama, with Garber recurring as a renowned club owner.
Conan O'Brien announces his Dallas lineup
“Conan” will hit Dallas the week of May 31 for the NCAA Final Four with guests including Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and Charles Barkley.
Last year, Showtime's new dramas "Ray Donovan" and "Masters of Sex" each got to air after established hits in "Dexter" and "Homeland," respectively. This year, they'll have to support each other, as the two will air as a Sunday night bloc starting on July 13, with "Ray Donovan" at 9 and "Masters of Sex" at 10.
I didn't have much use for "Ray Donovan," either as a glib show about a Hollywood fixer or a more psychologically-fraught look at a violent, damaged family from Boston. "Masters," on the other hand, was one of my very favorite shows of 2013, and airing in the summer may give it a little more critical sunlight than when it was on opposite so many other notable Sunday shows in the fall.
Showtime's period horror series "Penny Dreadful," which is debuting in May, will have wrapped up by July 13, and "Homeland" will have a new companion, still to be announced, come fall.
ABC announces season finale dates: “Scandal” finishes April 17
"Grey’s Anatomy” bows out for the season on May 15 and “Modern Family” ends its 5th season on May 21.