Latest Blog Posts

One on One with Jon Stewart: Taking the jump from 'The Daily Show' to 'Rosewater'

One on One with Jon Stewart: Taking the jump from 'The Daily Show' to 'Rosewater'

Only he could find an EPCOT analogy for the TV and movie businesses

TELLURIDE — Mr. Stewart, if you read this article I believe the first few paragraphs may make you chuckle. Now, it's not because I'm a master wordsmith or unheralded comedic voice waiting to be discovered. No, after saying goodbye after our memorable interview on the patio of a Telluride restaurant Sunday afternoon, I turned and walked toward the street with my iPhone in hand. I'd stopped the recording of our chat and two choices appeared before me: delete or save. And, perhaps like a crazy person, I hit delete.

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From John Oliver to Halle Berry: Winners and losers of summer TV 2014

From John Oliver to Halle Berry: Winners and losers of summer TV 2014

Where did 'Sharknado 2,' Every Simpsons Ever and 'Outlander' fall?

What a strange and often wonderful summer this was in television. It was a summer where Halle Berry couldn't find viewers on CBS, while NBC built a stable schedule out of discards, imports and long- discarded reality shows. HBO introduced a show that seemed to generate equal levels of adoration and scorn, while FXX finally found a purpose by making millions of "Simpsons" fans happy.  

Fall TV starts getting in gear next week with the returns of "Boardwalk Empire," "Sons of Anarchy" and more. So before we get too bogged down in fall premieres, Fienberg and I wanted to look back at the winners and losers of this unpredictable summer season.

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<p>&quot;The Simpsons&quot;</p>

"The Simpsons"

Credit: FOX

FXX's Every Simpsons Ever Marathon: Day 12 - HitFix Picks

What a long, strange trip it has been. The Marathon reaches its end.

[As you probably already know, starting on Thursday, August 21, FXX is running the Every Simpsons Ever Marathon, running through all 552 episodes of "The Simpsons," plus "The Simpsons Movie." To aid in your viewing process, Team HitFix is selecting our favorite episodes from each day, plus an episode or two that you can skip and use as a bathroom or nap break.]

It's all over!

Day 12 of FXX's Every Simpsons Ever takes us from "A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again" through "The Yellow Badge of Cowardge" and that's the end of the road for "The Simpsons," at least so far. 

To close things out, we have five Day 12 recommendations and only one to skip. And I'm probably going to be using this day to catch up on a few episodes I missed from last season when there was just too much TV on Sunday nights to catch "The Simpsons" every week. [I'd also add that "Bob's Burgers" has, for me, usurped "The Simpsons" as FOX's funniest Sunday comedy and the one I seek out first on Hulu or OnDemand. "Bob's Burgers" earned that Emmy this year. But let's see what "Bob's Burgers" looks like in Season 25.]

We've had a lot of fun going on this 12-day journey and I hope that these nightly collections of suggestions and highlights have been at least somewhat helpful or amusing for y'all as well. 

Check out our recommendations for Day 12 and chime in with your own favorites...

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<p>Michael Sheen and Christian Borle in Masters of Sex</p>

Michael Sheen and Christian Borle in Masters of Sex

Credit: Showtime

Review: 'Masters of Sex' - 'Mirror, Mirror'

Virginia and Bill begin exploring sexual dysfunction, while a figure from Bill's past returns

A review of tonight's "Masters of Sex" coming up just as soon as I try a special tonic straight from India...

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<p>Caleb of &quot;Big Brother&quot;</p>

Caleb of "Big Brother"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Big Brother' Sunday - Head of Household, Nominations and HOLLA!

After much slipping and sliding, a heroic HoH is finally crowned

When we left "Big Brother" on Thursday night, the hamsters were slipping and sliding around the backyard trying to fill snowmen with cloudy fluid in order to win Head of Household.

Thanks to a couple colleagues who think that because they watch the feeds, posting off-air results doesn't count as a spoiler, I already know who won HoH, but click through for the full live-blog as I pretend to be surprised.

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Maroon 5

Album review: Maroon 5's 'V' presents pristine pop

Adam Levine-led group works with Dr. Luke, Shellback, Sia, Nate Ruess

“The Voice” has probably helped no one’s career as much as coach Adam Levine and his band, Maroon 5.

While they certainly weren’t dormant, the NBC talent reality show revived the band and brought them back to a level they hadn’t seen since their breakthrough, 2002’s “Songs About Jane.” Ever since 2011’s “Moves Like Jagger,” featuring fellow sometimes “Voice” coach Christina Aguilera, Maroon 5 has seldom been of a pop or AC chart.

Just as Maroon 5 did on its last album, 2012’s “Overexposed,” for new set, “V,” the group also enlisted a phalanx of hit songwriters and producers —  Ryan Tedder, Shellback, Dr. Luke, Sia, Stargate, Benny Blanco— to come up with the poppiest of pop material. The result is a shiny, pristine album that sounds great, if a little anodyne and generic. Maroon 5’s self-penned earliest hits like “This Love” and “Harder To Breathe” were less well-crafted, but more distinctive. That said, there’s plenty on “V” to recommend it, even if it doesn't have anything quite as catchy as "Overexposed's" "Payphone."

Below is a track-by-track review:  

“Maps”: Tedder co-penned opening track and first single features Levine doing his best Sting imitation on this jaunty Police-lite tune about following your love. Already peaked in the Top 10. GRADE: B+

“Animals”: A little something different for M5, “Animals” boasts a heavy drum loop as Levine compares finding love to stalking prey, as he plans to hunt her down. “Baby, you think you can hide, I can smell your scent for miles.” Ew… GRADE: B-

“It Was Always You”: Again, something different from M5. An echo-y, electronic ‘80s track grounds a terrific in-your-face vocal from Levine about searching for what was missing to realize it was in front of him all along. Would have felt right at home in an episode of “Miami Vice,” and we mean that as a compliment.  GRADE: B

“Unkiss Me”: M5 takes on OneRepublic on this loping song about a cheating girl. Levine even sounds a little like Ryan Tedder as he sings in a lower register. Interestingly, this isn’t one of the tracks to which Tedder contributed. GRADE: B

“Sugar”: The best Katy Perry song she hasn’t cut. Actually, she did— it was called “Birthday.” Co-written by Dr. Luke and Mike Posner, among others, it’s combines acoustic guitar with punchy electronic instrumentation. Total earworm—despite your best intentions. GRADE: B+

“Leaving California”: Soaring ballad co-written by fun.’s Nate Ruess allows Levine to show off his fine-tuned falsetto. GRADE: B

“In Your Pocket”: Another mid-tempo track, built around a chugging drum loop, about mistrust as two lovers circle each other and each other’s cell phones. GRADE: C

“New Love”: Frenetic, drum-loop based song drowns under its own weighty production— one of the very few on the album where that happens. Probably because it’s not a strong song to begin with. GRADE: C-

“Coming Back For You”: Throwback ‘80s with synth and drum loops galore is bolstered by Levine’s strong vocal, but it needs a catchier chorus. GRADE: B-

“Feelings”: Fun, disco-oriented track about a lighthearted romance. Put on your boogie shoes and clap along to this one and don’t worry about the mindless lyrics. Just give yourself over to the rhythm. GRADE: B

“My Heart Is Open,” featuring Gwen Stefani: Levine and his fellow “The Voice” coach, Stefani, take what doubles as a promotional plug for the new season and turn it into a nice ballad, reminiscent of A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera’s “Say Something.” The Sia co-wrote sounds like a hit, even if it didn’t have a TV show connection. Grade: B+

 

 

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Ethan Hawke opens up about stage fright, Robin Williams and a current career high
Credit: AP Photo

Ethan Hawke opens up about stage fright, Robin Williams and a current career high

The actor has one film in Telluride and two more set for Venice

TELLURIDE — Actor Ethan Hawke is in the middle of a career high right now. In the space of a year he has been a part of two landmark films from director Richard Linklater, "Before Midnight" and "Boyhood," each of them the result of years and years of work exploring characters as they change across a wide spectrum of time. He has two films set to play the Venice Film Festival next week in Andrew Niccol's "Good Kill" and Michael Almereyda's "Cymbeline" and he's here in Telluride with his own directorial effort, an emotional documentary that is ostensibly a portrait of pianist Seymour Bernstein, but on a deeper level is an exploration by Hawke of finding satisfaction in one's art.

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Make way for Michael Keaton and 'Birdman' in this year's Oscar race

Make way for Michael Keaton and 'Birdman' in this year's Oscar race

Alejandro González Iñárritu's masterpiece deserves a serious spot at the table

Some are already trying to figure out the "Birdman" backlash after the film dropped to raves in Venice, but sometimes the hype is justified, and make no mistake about it: Alejandro González Iñárritu's manic dissection of an artist desperate for fulfillment outside of commercial success is an out-and-out masterpiece.

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Review: Fatih Akin's well-intended 'The Cut' does a disservice to a historical tragedy

Review: Fatih Akin's well-intended 'The Cut' does a disservice to a historical tragedy

Tahar Rahim is unfortunately restricted to a wordless performance throughout

VENICE — There's a piece of slang used on the website TV Tropes that regrettably applies to much of "The Cut." That word is "narm." Narm is defined as a moment that is supposed to be serious or tear-jerking, but due to poor execution becomes unintentionally funny. "The Cut" is unfortunately the narmiest drama I've seen at Venice.

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<p>Scott Cohen and Hope Davis in the pilot for NBC&#39;s &quot;Allegiance&quot;</p>

Scott Cohen and Hope Davis in the pilot for NBC's "Allegiance"

Credit: NBC

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

Just because it feels a lot like 'The Americans' doesn't make it bad

[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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Doctor Who - Into the Dalek
Credit: BBC

Recap: 'Doctor Who' - Take a fantastic voyage 'Into The Dalek'

If you stare into the Dalek, eventually it stares back.

I love “Doctor Who.” Ever since discovering it in my Netflix queue years ago (Christopher Eccleston is still my Doctor) this silly, sentimental show about a mad man in a box has enthralled me. But I — like many fans — worried that lately the wheels had been coming off. Too many cliches and consequence-free actions and terrible treatment of women. Not to mention an infinite number of reset buttons. But from the looks of tonight’s episode, “Into The Dalek,” it truly feels like writers heard the fans…and they’re beginning to patch up the holes this season.

*******************

We begin where we’ve begun before. The Daleks are in pursuit of a spaceship, intent on exterminating all those inside. Flying through an asteroid field, the human pilot desperately tries to keep the ship from crashing while also trying to keep her co-pilot conscious. In the end she fails, and the ship goes up in a blossoming fireball.

The pilot’s screams turn into confusion as she is very much not dead. Instead she is on the bridge of the TARDIS, with a very alien looking Doctor staring at her. I don’t know what it is about Capaldi but with his head turned just so, he looks more like a bird of prey examining a potential meal than the savior of the galaxy. 

Our pilot’s name is Lt. Journey Blue and she is not amused. Gun in hand she demands to be taken back to her ship. That co-pilot was her brother and he is dead. The Doctor is heartless, tells her to stop crying because at least she’s alive. He then pretty much refuses to return her to her people unless she asks nicely. They are really hammering home that Twelve is a dick. 

Upon returning Lt. Blue to her platoon, it seems they’ve caught themselves a Dalek. No one here knows the Doctor, seeming to think he is talking about his profession and not his status as most infamous of the Time Lords*. Not even the captured Dalek realizes who it is in the presence of. It’s too busy malfunctioning, believing in truth and and love and beauty and absinthe and destroying all other Daleks.

*So at least Eleven erasing himself from history seems to have stuck.

What the humans do know is that they want to shrink Capaldi down using a molecular scanner and send him in to see what exactly has turned this Dalek to the side of morality. Because when Daleks stop wanting to kill everything, obviously they’re very sick. This episode is literally going to pay homage to sci-fi classic “The Fantastic Voyage” and I for one, (and Twelve for two) couldn’t be more pleased.

As the “Whovian” music rolls, I wonder why this super science-y and tonally bleak episode feels familiar. A quick Google search turns up the answer. The writer of “Into the Dalek” is Phil Ford, who’s only other “Doctor Who” writing credit (for the show) is “The Waters of Mars.” That episode deals with an invasion of the body snatcher and the inevitability of fixed points in time despite good intentions. My hopes for this episode suddenly became much higher.

Back from the opening credits, we’re introduced to the newest character, Mr. Danny Pink. I’m starting to pick up on some “Reservoir Dog” undertones in this episode, but not one person makes the obvious joke. C’est la vie. From first glance, Mr. Pink is good with kids, bad with ladies, and just trying to make it in the civilian world as a math teacher. If only everyone from the students to Clara would stop making light of the fact that he killed people. It’s flaring up his PTSD.

Bringing on Mr. Pink — Danny from here on out — has the delightful side effect of continuing to morph Clara Oswald from living MacGuffin to human being. She’s an English teacher who has a well-meaning co-worker who is keen to set her up with Danny. There’s even the secretary who is really bad at innuendo. I hope shows up again.

It takes a minute for me to realize this is actually Danny and Clara’s meet cute, but once I do, I instantly ship it. He is endearing but awkward and she is charming yet abrasive. The show even lets Clara take the lead, prompting Danny not once, but twice, until he overcomes whatever fears he as about dating and accepts her offer for drinks. Watching Clara have a life outside traveling in a blue box as the Doctor’s Impossible Girl is truly fun to witness.

So of course, this is the exact moment the Doctor chooses to pick Clara up for an adventure. 

For some reason, the Doctor immediately cuts Clara down because we really need to understand he is not a nice person, I guess? He condescendingly tells Clara to keep her spirits up, she’s not that young anymore but maybe she’ll still find love. After shading the living hell out of her, he proceeds to ask if she thinks he’s a good person. Clara is the soul of discretion because she merely says “I don’t know” instead of “No, you’re a misogynistic jerk face who is way too cavalier with the lives of everyone around you.”

Yet the Doctor hears what she’s not saying and — bless him — actually seems to realize how hard it can be to put up with him sometimes. Then shock of all shocks, he introduces Clara to Lt. Blue and the rest of the platoon…as his boss. In one exchange, the dynamic is upended as the term ‘companion’ is shunted off stage and into the trash. 

Once introductions are out of the way, it’s time to get small and get inside this Dalek. We get some fantastic science mumbo-jumbo about remembering to breathe during the shrinking process or you’ll explode. They do away with the trope of an enforced time table before they return to normal size though. As the Doctor, Clara, and three soldiers are inserted into the eyestalk of the Dalek (a sentence I never thought I’d type), we’re treated to a full body scan of said Dalek…which might be our most complete look at their biology to date?

Safely inside, our team moves forward. I’m just gonna assume they don’t need suits for oxygen because Daleks are inherently more porous than humans. A short jaunt later and they’re standing in front of the brain. The Doctor explains the thing in front of them is an augmented memory storage. This feat of engineering filters out anything good and fuels the Daleks hate. So basically they’re Psychlos from “Battlefield Earth.”

But now this particular Dalek is malfunctioning. And they need to find out why. To do that, they need to get down to the bottom of this mystery…literally. The soldiers being soldiers, immediately start shoving grappling hooks into whatever crevice is available. Which brings out the Daleks antibodies in droves…droves of mini-Wheatleys from “Portal 2.” Man this episode is just overflowing with shout-outs to other sci-fi!

In another display of “I’m definitely not Matt Smith,” the Doctor pragmatically let’s the antibodies kill one of the soldiers so the immune system will think the threat is over. He sacrifices the only male soldier. Wait, what? He just had to pick someone to let die and it was the only other dude which means there are two lady soldiers, Clara, and the Doctor to save the day. And this is the moment when I realize that maybe, just maybe, this season is going to be different.

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<p>Katy Perry and the &quot;Simpsons&quot; puppets</p>

Katy Perry and the "Simpsons" puppets

Credit: FOX

FXX's Every Simpsons Ever Marathon: Day 11 - HitFix Picks

Sideshow Bob, Bill James and Simon Cowell lead the day's hits and misses

[As you probably already know, starting on Thursday, August 21, FXX is running the Every Simpsons Ever Marathon, running through all 552 episodes of "The Simpsons," plus "The Simpsons Movie." To aid in your viewing process, Team HitFix is selecting our favorite episodes from each day, plus an episode or two that you can skip and use as a bathroom or nap break.]

We're nearing the end!

Day 11 of FXX's Every Simpsons Ever Marathon takes us from "The Greatest Story Ever D'ohed" (mid-Season 21) through "Beware My Cheating Bart" (late-Season 23).

Personally, I was shocked to see at least one or two episodes in this period that I haven't seen, as well as a lot of episodes I haven't seen multiple times, which was almost unheard-of for the first eight or nine days of the Marathon.

But we still have preferences for you. Yup! We're gonna make it through this whole darned Marathon, for which we're unlikely to receive a prize. But we've got commitment. 

[Oh and the episode guest-starring Katy Perry is "The Fight Before Christmas," airing at 7:30 a.m. It was neither good nor bad enough to get mentioned here, but it makes for a good picture.]

Check out our recommendations for Day 10 and chime in with your own favorites...

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