Latest Blog Posts

<p>Bryan Cranston as Walter White in the &quot;Breaking Bad&quot;&nbsp;series finale.</p>

Bryan Cranston as Walter White in the "Breaking Bad" series finale.

Credit: AMC

Series finale review: 'Breaking Bad' - 'Felina'

Walt returns to Albquerque to settle all family business

"Breaking Bad" has come to an end. A review of the series finale coming up just as soon as I compare pizza to Thai food...

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<p>Lizzy Caplan and Caitlin FitzGerald in &quot;Masters of Sex.&quot;</p>

Lizzy Caplan and Caitlin FitzGerald in "Masters of Sex."

Credit: Showtime

Series premiere talkback: 'Masters of Sex' - 'Pilot'

What did everybody think of the new Showtime drama series?

I published my initial review of "Masters of Sex" on Thursday (and an interview with Lizzy Caplan the day before that). Now it's your turn. For those of you who tuned in tonight (or who watched the streaming version Showtime made available over the last few weeks), what did you think? Did you buy Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan as people from the 1950s? How do you feel that the show handled all the sex and nudity in the pilot: with a snicker or with just enough restraint? Are you interested in the Masters/Johnson relationship (be it professional, personal, or both) as set up here? If you've been seeing lots of ads for "The Millers," was it strange to have both Beau Bridges and Margo Martindale in the pilot? And will you watch again? 

The plan, depending on how my health improves over the next few weeks, is to work this into a Sunday rotation with "Boardwalk Empire," "Homeland" and (eventually) "The Walking Dead." How much I write about any given Sunday drama will depend on time, emergy and how much I have to say about a given episode. But this show is very good and I want to keep the conversation going somehow over the course of this first season.

For tonight, though, have at it.

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<p>The start of the &quot;Amazing Race&quot; season</p>

The start of the "Amazing Race" season

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'The Amazing Race' Season 23 Premiere - 'We're Not In Oklahoma No More'

The 11 teams head to Chile for paragliding and rowing
Well, at least we know what the lesson of Sunday (September 27) night's "The Amazing Race" premiere was: 
Get your sorry butt off of Twitter, or else people will post "Breaking Bad" spoilers and you'll have no one to blame with yourself. 
What? That wasn't your takeaway? 
I'm sure you got something much simpler, but no less correct:
Just read the freaking clues.
Sometimes you can go on "The Amazing Race" without knowing how to drive stick and you'll squeak through for a while. Sometimes your fear of heights or inability to swim can be properly managed. But everybody has to read clues and as we were reminded on Sunday's season-opener, failure to read clues can mean the difference between first place and a major game advantage and second place, or between 10th place and still being in the Race and 11th.
More on Sunday's premiere, plus quick handicapping of the 11 teams, after the break. 
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Credit: ABC

'Revenge' season premiere recap: Big changes in the Hamptons

It's a fast forward reboot, but does it work?

We all knew "Revenge" was due for a reboot. After fans grumbled about the more ludicrous story lines that had developed (Ninja warrior training? Really?) and creator Mike Kelley was shown the door, there was definitely talk of the show narrowing focus and getting back to basics -- Emma's plot to destroy the Graysons. It's a 99 percenter fantasy! While that's clearly back on the table, there were quite a few other stories in play. Did they all work? That, of course, remains to be seen. 

We kick things off with Emily (Emily VanCamp) wearing a wedding dress and getting shot repeatedly, which gives us a rather lovely shot of her falling in slow motion off of a boat (God forbid she slump to the floor in a wad of white tulle). So many possible shooters! But no time to explore that, as we're soon jumping back in time to see what's been going on in the Hamptons. 

To start, Charlotte isn't pregnant anymore, so that happened. We've flashed forward six months, and apparently losing both Declan and the baby have made her a kind of grumpy that even a long trip to Paris can't fix. It's pretty clear that the show's writers just wanted to pretend Declan never happened, which honestly isn't the worst idea ever. 

One thing we find out about (as does Charlotte) is that the hunky guy Victoria has been stroking out in the country is actually her son. This would be reassuring if Victoria's version of motherly love didn't look so much like it was heading to hot sex. Anyway, Patrick seems nice, moral and far too good to be a Grayson, which either means he's going to disappear forever, change, or he's just a great liar (since it's out on the great Interwebs that Patrick Harper is a recurring character this season, I'll go with options two and three). 

Someone who is actually and truly gone is Ashley. Her brief flirtation with blackmail that leads to her hasty exit is pretty disappointing, and even though Ashley (Ashley Madekwe) has Tweeted she's done with the show, I can't believe that's a forever thing. She had become a bit of a plot device, but a plot device with a great pout and an English accent, and that's never a bad thing.

At the very end of the show we discover that Aiden is back, but I'm not sure what he's up to. If he's truly turned on Emily (which I don't believe), I can't believe he's going to make inroads with Victoria. As far as Emily sidekicks, I'm not sure she needs anyone other than Nolan. Even if he's reluctant to play computer sleuth this season, I'm okay with him parachuting into scenes and generally being Nolan. Given that too many of the characters on this show are far too serious about crazy, sudsy story lines, we can never have too much comic relief.

Alas, the big moment we've all been waiting for -- Jack kissing Emily -- was a bitter disappointment, as he claims he felt nothing, he hates her guts, and even though he understands her desire for revenge, he's giving her a time limit before he outs her true identity. Wha? I doubt he really didn't feel anything anymore, but I'd prefer straight mad Jack over "I get you but I hate you" Jack, as this strange middle ground screams "creating a ticking clock for the plot!" as opposed to logical emotion. Emily, it seems, isn't happy either way, and I'm already missing the sad, mopey scenes of desire derailed we had back in season one.

But the good news is that, as in that first, heady season, we're no longer worrying about the Initiative or Takeda or any of the other stuff that never made much sense. No, we're now getting straight-up revenge (the fake Huntington's diagnosis was TOTALLY illogical, but hey, this is still "Revenge," after all) and lots of backstabbing and frontstabbing and just... stabbing. That's good enough for me.

What did you think of the premiere? Who do you think shot Emily? Were you disappointed in Jack and Emily's kiss? 

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<p>On &quot;Boardwalk Empire,&quot;&nbsp;Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg)&nbsp;enjoys a card game.</p>

On "Boardwalk Empire," Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) enjoys a card game.

Credit: HBO

Review: 'Boardwalk Empire' - 'All In'

Rothstein loses big at the card tables, Van Alden works with the Capones and Dunn takes a trip to Harlem

A quick review of tonight's "Boardwalk Empire" — which HBO renewed earlier this week — coming up just as soon as I don't like pie...

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<p>Saul (Mandy Patinkin)&nbsp;testifies before Congress in the &quot;Homeland&quot;&nbsp;season premiere.</p>

Saul (Mandy Patinkin) testifies before Congress in the "Homeland" season premiere.

Credit: Showtime

Season premiere review: 'Homeland' - 'Tin Man is Down'

Carrie and the CIA are put on trial in the wake of Nazir's bombing

"Homeland" is back for a third season, and I have a review of the premiere coming up just as soon as I have immunity for overdue parking tickets...

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"Once Upon A Time"

 "Once Upon A Time"

Credit: ABC

'Once Upon A Time' season premiere recap: 'Heart of the Truest Believer'

It's off to Neverland, but it's not the one you might expect

"Once Upon A Time" has done a pretty great job of tweaking fairy tale convention and beloved children's lit. Some of these revisions -- Little Red Riding Hood as both the innocent little girl AND the wicked wolf is still on of my favorites -- have been truly inspired. Others, not so much (Prince Charming has an evil twin? What is this, "Sunset Beach"?). But this season, the show kicks off with one I think (and hope) will not only be great, naughty fun but will also help to aggregate storylines that started to feel scattered and rambling last season. Because, and this is a spoiler (actually, there are quite a few spoilers after this sentence, so don't read this before you watch)...

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<p>Michael Sheen of &quot;Masters of Sex&quot;</p>

Michael Sheen of "Masters of Sex"

Credit: Showtime

Interview: Michael Sheen discusses the delicate balance of 'Masters of Sex'

Actor discusses the process of crafting his version of William Masters
I've interviewed Michael Sheen twice in the past 10 months, but it also feels like I've interviewed two different Michael Sheens.
Last November, I sat down with a gregarious, mustachioed, wild-haired Michael Sheen, wearing a red smoking jacket, to talk about his final time playing Volturi ringleader Aro in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2." In that interview, Sheen was full of quips and laughter.
This August, at the Beverly Hilton, I chatted with a clean-shaven Michael Sheen, hair neatly coiffed, dark suit perfectly fitted. In this interview for Showtime's "Masters of Sex," Sheen was erudite, introspective and effusive on his craft. 
Probably it makes sense to find light amusement when you're talking about an ageless, telepathic vampire in a blockbuster YA franchise. 
And probably it makes sense to be thoughtful and, at times, fiercely protective when you're promoting a high-minded Showtime drama about pioneering human sexuality researchers William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson. In the drama, which dazzlingly avoids coming off as exploitative despite the titillating subject matter, Sheen plays the intriguingly internalized Masters opposite Lizzy Caplan's more outgoing Johnson.
For Sheen, it's a performance crafted from precise line-readings, precise mannerisms and brief moments of telling openness. In our conversation, Sheen sets me straight on the differences in playing internalized and externalized characters. He talks about the challenges of setting the right tone on the set and the role that he played in establishing that tone.
I think it's a fascinating interview, even when Sheen was telling me I was confused about things.
Click through for the full Q&A.
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<p>Fitz and Simmons!</p>

Fitz and Simmons!

Credit: ABC

'Sleepy Hollow,' 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' make big Monday/Tuesday Live+3 DVR gains

'Blacklist' rises for NBC, while 'Hostages' gets better news
The Live+3 Day DVR rankings are starting to trickle in and, like I promised, I'm going to start occasionally looking at those numbers, which make up a bigger and bigger picture of the TV landscape. The key problem is that while Fast National ratings come in with clockwork regularity each morning between 8 and 8:30 and are reported by each of the major networks simultaneously, the Live+3 figures may get to the networks at the same time each day, reflecting ratings for shows that premiered five days earlier, the networks have yet to get into a routine of transparency and spin when it comes to these numbers. So I'll be reporting them as I can, when I can and as things feel notable.
Certainly for Premiere Week, the numbers seem notable and so I'll give them some exposure.
Most figures are in for Live+3 DVR rankings for Monday, September 23 and Tuesday, September 24. And, if we're being honest, what we've learned isn't all that different from what we already knew.
To wit...
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<p>&quot;Boardwalk Empire,&quot;&nbsp;&quot;The Good Wife,&quot;&nbsp;&quot;Breaking Bad,&quot;&nbsp;&quot;Revenge,&quot;&nbsp;&quot;Masters of Sex&quot;&nbsp;and &quot;Homeland&quot;&nbsp;will be part of the many conflicts of Dramageddon.</p>

"Boardwalk Empire," "The Good Wife," "Breaking Bad," "Revenge," "Masters of Sex" and "Homeland" will be part of the many conflicts of Dramageddon.

Are you ready for TV Dramageddon 2013?

What will you choose to watch on the busiest TV night in forever?

Welcome to the most insane night of television that I can ever remember, in what I've dubbed Dramageddon 2013.

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<p>Arcade Fire</p>

Arcade Fire

Credit: NBC

Arcade Fire debuts three new songs in trippy, star-studded NBC special

James Franco, Bono, Michael Cera also on hand to promote upcoming 'Reflektor's' release

Following its appearance on the Season 39 opener of “Saturday Night Live,” hosted by Tina Fey, Arcade Fire kept the music going with “Here Comes The Night Time,”  a trippy, 30-minute special on NBC that aired immediately after “SNL.”

The double shot was in service to promote “Reflektor,” the band’s new album out on Merge on Oct. 29. It will be the Montreal-based group’s first set since 2010’s “The Suburbs,” which won the Grammy for Album of the Year at the 2011 Grammy Awards.

In addition to current single/title track, “Reflektor,” and “Afterlife,” which the band performed in “SNL,” Arcade Fire debuted three new songs from the forthcoming album during the special.

UPDATED: Arcade Fire has tweeted a link to audio of the three new songs

A bizarre trailer featuring paper mache versions of the band members that surfaced Friday set the tone for the equally strange, theatrical special that felt like a cross between a hipster’s Halloween and New Year’s Eve party. It opened with Arcade Fire’s lead singer Win Butler, clad in a red and white suit with a black bandit mask painted across his eyes,  leading a conga line, filled with costumed characters, including a bunny, from the “SNL” set to The Salsatheque  a club in their hometown. The show opened with new song “Here Comes The Night Time,” which exploded from a English Beat-like bouncy to a rave-up with Butler joining the dancing, costumed  crowd.

The club crowd line danced to new song, the new wave-y “We Exist,” as if they were re-enacting “The Time Warp” from “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

James Franco, Aziz Ansari, Ben Stiller and Bono—the latter two with the big paper mache heads featured in the “Reflektor” video— and a Spanish-speaking Michael Cera, posing as an irritated, Arcade Fire-hating bartender in the club, all made cameo appearances. In a oddly unfunny sketch,  Bill Hader and Zach Galifianakis posed as astronauts who beamed in with Butler wishing them a safe return because “we need another ‘Hangover’ movie.”

The band then changed gears and clothes and the millieu for an ‘80s vibe (intercut with the current club scene), with Rainn Wilson as their bearded, bandana-ed roadie named Carl and Jason Schwartzmann as a centaur for the chaotic “Normal Person.”

In addition to “Reflektor,” the band is also scoring Spike Jonze’ new movie, “Her.”

We'll post video of the special as soon as it's available, but in the meantime, enjoy AF's performance of "Reflektor" from "SNL." 

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<p>Michael, Trevor, and Franklin are the leads in 'Grand Theft Auto V' and you end up playing all three of them over the course of the game.</p>

Michael, Trevor, and Franklin are the leads in 'Grand Theft Auto V' and you end up playing all three of them over the course of the game.

Credit: Rockstar Games

Fifteen memorable moments from one week of playing 'Grand Theft Auto V'

I can't begin to review the whole game yet, but I've definitely got some first thoughts

LOS SANTOS - It seems strange to realize that "Grand Theft Auto V" may well be the final game I buy for the Playstation 3.

Shortly after "Grand Theft Auto III" was released, I was at the apartment shared by my friends Josh and Kevin, and they had the game on. I'd heard the title a few times, but I didn't own it, and I hadn't played it. Once I watched Kevin play for about ten minutes, I left their place, went directly to a store, and bought the game and a Playstation 2. I played it incessantly for a while, and when I finally set it aside, I felt like I'd gotten everything out of the mayhem and the free-roaming lunacy that I could get. It was depraved, it was ridiculous, it was damn near impossible to finish as a game, and I loved every bit of it. The game seemed like the sort of thing that the authorities were going to catch wind of and shut down as soon as possible, and that made it even more fun.

Morality in gaming is a funny thing. When I played "Mass Effect 2" and "Mass Effect 3," I found that I couldn't make the renegade choices, no matter what. The way the narrative worked and the way I played Shepard, I felt it necessary to try to be as moral and as compassionate as possible. It seemed like the only way to navigate the political landscape of the games and come through it with my crew intact. The same was true of "Skyrim" when I played that for a few months. I never even considered playing it as anything but a hero. Even when I digressed to finish missions involving the Thieves Guild or whatever, I found myself overcompensating to make sure I was as far on the side of right as possible.

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