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Outlander_S1_E4
Credit: Starz

Recap: 'Outlander' - It wouldn't be 'The Gathering' without family drama

Excuse me, where are all the Scottish Santas?

At the end of the last episode, Claire’s plan to secure her freedom by being the best prisoner ever blew up in her face spectacularly. Turns out when you act like you want to hang out with your captors, they are less likely to let you leave. Funny that.

But undeterred, Claire hatched a plan. A plan based on a folk song. A folk song that she disregarded pertinent information from (I blame the Rhenish). So, yeah. This should go well. Can Claire escape “The Gathering”?

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

As the credits fade, scaffolding appears. No, not quite. It’s men with guns in tree stands. Out in the open. Where any snipers in the opposing tree line could pick them off like fish in a barrel. Good job, guys. These astounding strategists are guarding Clan MacKenzie from all sorts of enemies…like giggling children. Calm down Trigger Jim, unless you really fear a gaggle of unwashed children and a lone time-displaced woman. Actually, I’ve watched “The Walking Dead.” Fear them.

Claire’s giggling on the ground while swarmed by plucky bairns is interrupted by an unwanted look up STILL not Jamie’s kilt. When the offending guard asks Claire if something caught her eye, she is forced to resort to basically saying “gross” because these miscreants wouldn’t get any insult involving magnifying glasses and toothpicks. The 18th century can take a lot of things from a modern woman, but relinquishing scathing insults is just too much to bear. Yet Claire soldiers on.

Turns out playing with children serves an ulterior motive. Our heroine has been scouting the terrain. Over the past few days (weeks?) she’s learned the lay of the land, finding not one but TWO possible roads to freedom. Smart girl. But she’s also been leaving behind bright white strips of ribbon to lead her back to the mapped out escape routes. Oh honey, no. 

After torturing her guards by keeping them away from the beer (by the way, these two have got to be wondering who they pissed off to keep having to watch this persnickety woman who doesn’t seem to grasp the prisoner/guard dynamic), they finally pout hard enough that we are taken to the Annual Gathering of Scottish Santas. I am so excited!

OH GOD NO, IT’S JUST CAMPING. I’ve been tricked. No one said anything about camping! And there’s not even a bevy of flowing white face-tresses. UGH.

Speaking of being tricked, Claire has realized she’s basically being babysat by Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Hagrid, which means she could pretty much escape at will. But instead of just throwing something sparkly in one direction and running in the other, she’s opted for an elaborate plan. Involving getting her guards distracted by sexy camp ladies and/or getting them exceptionally drunk. Preferably both. This plan has approximately 100% chance of working.

Just an aside here, exactly how worried should I be about inbred babies? Aren’t all these people related? The family tree needs to branch, y’all!

Once the Tweedle Twins are sufficiently diverted, Claire is off to the stables. Apparently Uncle Lamb taught her how to ride when she was a girl and dammit that was a great place for a flashback but no. Instead we get a dumb old stable guy who ALSO isn’t Jamie. But wait, do you hear that? The music changed to 1940s bluesy jazz. 

I’m so distracted trying to figure out the lyrics and why they’d add such an anachronistic mood now I almost miss that Jamie isn’t in the stables because he’s hiding from his family. What is he, the moody teenager avoiding Aunt Edna’s lipstick kisses at the family reunion? Claire — and the audience — are disappointed but at least Claire has her getaway horse. The plan is coming together.

The strains of 1940s pop music follow us all the way back to Claire’s dungeon/office. To be honest, I’m half expecting a radioactive wastelander wearing a human flesh mask to jump out of the shadows. “Fallout” truly ruined this era of music for me. 

Which is why Gilly should be grateful she scares the ever living hell out of Claire and not me because she’d be halfway into the fireplace before the Pavlovian response wore off. And then where would the port she brought be? In the fire, wasted.

The background music finally stops as Gilly starts in with another round of “Questions I Know The Answers To Just Tell Me You’re From The Future And End This Charade Claire.” But while our red-headed witch is asking things like “are you knocked up with Jamie’s lovechild?” and “what’s with all this food that looks like it’s prepared for an ill-advised escape?” and “so is your husband dead or what?” we find out a few interesting bits about Gilly herself. She came to this part of Scotland with nothing (obviously because time-travel stones don’t let you check bags) and married Arthur for security and plays him like a fiddle so she can do as she pleases. Claire is suitably impressed and I have suspicion whiplash over whether Gilly is trustworthy or not.

Also, poor Frank is totally Schrödinger's husband. 

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Report: Taylor Swift will be part of 'The Voice'
Credit: NBC

Report: Taylor Swift will be part of 'The Voice'

Report: Taylor Swift will be part of “The Voice”
Swift will join the NBC singing competition as an advisor for all four teams, serving in the same capacity as Chris Martin did last season, according to Us Weekly.


"Downton Abbey" unveils its first Season 5 trailer
Says Carson: "I feel a shaking on the ground I stand on."

 

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'Wild' director Jean-Marc Vallée related to Cheryl Strayed's story in a very personal way
Credit: AP Photo

'Wild' director Jean-Marc Vallée related to Cheryl Strayed's story in a very personal way

The project allowed him to 'play' and 'have fun with the medium'

TELLURIDE — When Fox Searchlight's "Wild" landed Friday afternoon in Telluride, the Oscar fuse was instantly lit for star and producer Reese Witherspoon. But as our own Greg Ellwood noted in his review, after last year's "Dallas Buyers Club," director Jean-Marc Vallée seems almost destined to again be the unsung hero of a film that leaves audiences talking about the power of its performances and the efficiency of its economy.

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Channing Tatum says he needed to learn more as an actor before 'Foxcatcher' clicked

Channing Tatum says he needed to learn more as an actor before 'Foxcatcher' clicked

The film saw its North American premiere Saturday morning in Telluride

TELLURIDE — In August of 2005, the Palm Theater in Telluride was inaugurated with the world premiere of Bennett Miller's Oscar-winning biopic "Capote." Nine years later Miller was back for the North American bow of his latest film, "Foxcatcher," which screened to a packed audience eager to get a look at this dark and mysterious story.

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Review: 'The Boxtrolls' delights with a witty script and superb stop motion animation
Credit: Focus Features

Review: 'The Boxtrolls' delights with a witty script and superb stop motion animation

Richard Ayoade's voice work is a comic highlight

VENICE - If you liked "The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists!," the "Wallace & Gromit" films, anything by Monty Python or just funny, witty movies in general, make sure you catch Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi's "The Boxtrolls." Based on the book "Here Be Monsters" by Alan Snow, I can't remember the last time I saw a family animation so visually rich, tightly scripted and charmingly performed which was also built on a sound and progressive message. It's unlikely to become a cultural juggernaut on the level of something like "Frozen," but I think it is as enjoyable.

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Review: Jon Stewart finds humor in the harrowing true story of  'Rosewater'

Review: Jon Stewart finds humor in the harrowing true story of 'Rosewater'

Gael Garcia Bernal delivers a strong performance as Maziar Bahari

TELLURIDE — In recent years, Journalists have come under siege all across the world from governments trying to minimize their influence either through subtle or not-so subtle means.  One of the more dramatic instances in recent memory was chronicled in Maziar Bahari's 2011 memoir "Then They Came for Me" which has been adapted into the new film "Rosewater." The film, with director Jon Stewart on hand, debuted Friday night at the 2014 Telluride Film Festival.

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Review: 'The Humbling' is an unnecessary adaptation of a bad book

Review: 'The Humbling' is an unnecessary adaptation of a bad book

Humbling indeed: Al Pacino stumbles with Philip Roth

VENICE — The first scene in "The Humbling" ends with a once great veteran actor falling flat on his face. Well, quite.

“Do you believe that? Was that real for you?” Oh, Al Pacino. Playing a formerly great, now floundering actor like a needy lover, the scene begins with Simon Axler (Pacino) monologuing to himself in his dressing room. He's due on stage any moment to deliver Prospero's closing remarks in "The Tempest" ("We are such stuff / As dreams are made on; and our little life / Is rounded with a sleep").

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Review: Slow-burn drama 'Manglehorn' gives Al Pacino his best role in ages

Review: Slow-burn drama 'Manglehorn' gives Al Pacino his best role in ages

Harmony Korine has fun in supporting role

VENICE — Yesterday's Al Pacino vehicle here at Venice, "The Humbling," was a disappointment: this is not the Pacino you are looking for. Thank goodness, then, for "Manglehorn", where the sure directorial hands of David Gordon Green know exactly how to unlock latter day Pacino's strengths while reining in his worst excesses.

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Telluride kicks off with a tribute to a masterpiece

Telluride kicks off with a tribute to a masterpiece

Breaking down one of American cinema's crown jewels

TELLURIDE — While press and patrons were hustling into gondolas and over to the Chuck Jones Cinema for the World Premiere of Jean-Marc Vallée's "Wild," the 41st annual Telluride Film Festival was kicking off with a bang at an over-stuffed Werner Herzog Theater for the lead program of this year's schedule: a tribute to Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now." The ticket was so hot that well over a hundred pass holders were turned away at the door.

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Review: Benedict Cumberbatch is the only puzzle worth solving in 'The Imitation Game'

Review: Benedict Cumberbatch is the only puzzle worth solving in 'The Imitation Game'

Does the film do the man's life justice?

TELLURIDE — There are two reasons Andrew Hodges' biography of Alan Turing references "The Enigma" in its title. The first is in reference to the Engima machine, the legendary secret code the Nazis used during World War II, which was solved by a secret UK military division lead by Turing. The second is Turing himself. 

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<p>&quot;Battle Creek&quot;</p>

"Battle Creek"

Credit: CBS

Take Me To The Pilots '14: CBS' 'Battle Creek'

We're on to midseason with CBS' new drama from Vince Gilligan and David Shore

[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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<p>&quot;That &#39;90s Show&quot;</p>

"That '90s Show"

Credit: FOX

FXX's Every Simpsons Ever Marathon: Day 10 - HitFix Picks

'The Simpsons' heads into HD as the Marathon nears the home stretch

[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.]

Day 10 of FXX's Every Simpsons Ever Marathon takes us from "Eternal Moonshine of the Simpsons Mind" (mid-Season 19) through "Stealing First Base" (mid-Season 21).

It's a reasonably good day, both because it starts with a near-classic, but also because mid-morning will see the show transition into HD, which will finally end those conversations about FXX's cropping decisions and whether they've hindered the comedy thus far. 

The shift to HD didn't reinvigorate "The Simpsons" back to its Season 4-ish peak, but it absolutely gave new juice to the storytelling, inspiring the show to take more visual risks -- the couch gags have never been better -- and to add more aesthetic depth. "The Simpsons" always had moments of beautiful animation, but they were usually wedged amidst plainer stuff. Since the HD transition, "The Simpsons" has been a consistently good-looking show.

If you're like a lot of the HitFix staff, you may have already stopped watching by this point, but that's a mistake and we have five episodes you should check out from Day 10. I also wrote up three episodes you can skip.

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

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