THE AMERICANS Recap: “New Car”

by     Posted 13 hours ago

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The Americans continued to dissect its major theme of loyalty in “New Car.”  An early conversation between Martha and Philip/Clark set it all up: when she objects to continuing to spy on her co-workers, even though those were the circumstances under which they met, he replies, “don’t put me in a position of having to choose between the security of the country and you.”  But both Philip and Elizabeth have been dealing with these issues of loyalty and choice all season, not only in regards to their own family versus their job, but also within their job as well.  In “New Car,” they were confronted with difficult decisions that went against earlier choices, but all of which added to the complexity of the situation, and their emotional responses to it.  Hit the jump for why “it’s nicer, it’s easier; it’s not better.”

FARGO Recap: Series Premiere “The Crocodile’s Dilemma”

by     Posted 2 days ago

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Neither part of the term “original adaptation” fully applies to FX’s new limited series Fargo, even if it’s branded as such.It evokes a sense of the original Ethan and Joel Coen film without using the same characters, yet it’s full of callbacks.  There are currently many series on air that tie in with movies: NBC’s Hannibal (a prequel of sorts to Silence of the Lambs), A&E’s Bates Motel (a prequel to Psycho), and even NBC’s comedy About a Boy (like Fargo, it is “inspired” by the world of the movie).  What they have in common is that each series is at its best when its the farthest away from its source material.  Once it becomes its own interpretation of the world it’s using as a base, it gets stronger.  With Fargo, it may take a few episodes for that to develop, but once it does, there’s great potential.  Hit the jump for more.

BATES MOTEL Recap: “Presumed Innocent”

by     Posted 2 days ago

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Bates Motel has reached a point this season where it’s teetering on the precipice.  There are three episodes left now until the end of the season, but “Presumed Innocent” was too early to start the descent into what is sure to be the madness leading up to that finale.  So instead, it had a touch of strange world building, and then spent a lot of time loitering around the jail while Norman and Cody were being questioned.  Ultimately, even its final reveal didn’t reveal much.  For a season that has basically been on fire since its start, “Presumed Innocent” felt like like little more than stalling.  Hit the jump for what we did learn, and what it could mean.

MAD MEN Season 7 Premiere Recap: “Time Zones”

by     Posted 4 days ago

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Mad Men‘s final journey has begun.  Split into two seasons, the show will have fourteen episodes to say farewell, in detail, to its 1960s drama.  “Time Zones” spent most of its hour on Don and Peggy, the crux of the show, setting up where they are in terms of where they’ve been.  It’s not clear yet where they’re going, only that the struggle is not yet over.  There was a sense, with them and elsewhere (particularly with Joan and Pete) that change is in the air, and, dare we say, hope?  “Time Zones” was mired in a lot of bleakness, but all of the airplane imagery might be suggesting the only way forward is up.  Hit the jump for more.

SILICON VALLEY Recap: “The Cap Table”

by     Posted 4 days ago

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The most important element of Silicon Valley‘s “The Cap Table” was that it was an episode devoted to what most series would have made a montage.  The nitty gritty of Richard starting his own company, building it up from scratch, and getting his team in place (and using Wikipedia to find out about business plans) was something many would skip over.  But Silicon Valley is exactly interested in this minutia, following Richard’s journey from a start-up to either a global empire, or another tech gravestone in Palo Alto.  Hit the jump for why “that’s why he’s a billionaire.  He knows where and when to be an asshole.”

GAME OF THRONES Recap: “The Lion and the Rose”

by     Posted 4 days ago

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Game of Thrones’ most lasting impression may be its changeability.  No show has perhaps ever been so difficult to predict, even for those who have read the books.  The stories go in ways that are unexpected.  It’s what George R. R. Martin does so well: subverting fantasy tropes.  Last week, the theme was transformation, and it looks like it’s going to be a season-long motif.  “The Lion and The Rose” was also about a world in flux, and Game of Thrones continued to prove that it has the ability to change things up like no one else.  Hit the jump for more on “the dwarf, the cripple, and the mother of madness.”

HANNIBAL Recap: “Yakimono”

by     Posted 5 days ago

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While everyone else on Hannibal spins around in confusion and disbelief (or delusion), Will Graham has become the stoic.  “You changed me,” he tells Hannibal later, and the transformation is clear.  No longer a trembling and confused pawn himself, Will has emerged through the looking glass completely sure of himself, the facts, and his mission.  Though those around him continue to doubt, he betrays a confidence in his singularity of will that is so rewarding to watch.  Now that he’s free, he’s able to more effectively move against his foe.  But Hannibal has many other things in store, none of which phase Will, but they do complicate his efforts.  Hit the jump for why “he works in the shadows.  Deny him of that.”

THE AMERICANS Recap: “Arpanet”

by     Posted 8 days ago

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In “Arpanet,” The Americans really highlighted its time period, more overtly than perhaps ever before.  “Arpanet” itself references what’s considered “the first internet,” a Department of Defense project that used TCP/IP to create an information network for use by scientists, academics, and the military.  In The Americans, Philip uses “a bug the size of a rat” (also known as, essentially, a USB the size of a Mac LC) so that the KGB can monitor American communications, another clever way the show marries its fictional world with the real one.  Hit the jump for why you should always squeeze your anus before you answer a question.

BATES MOTEL Recap: “Plunge”

by     Posted 9 days ago

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In “Plunge,” Bates Motel starts the complicated unraveling of Norman.  There have been hints that have burst through the placid surface of how Norman would develop into the man known from Psycho, but the series has shown great restraint in keeping his weirdness present, without making it the only thing.  The expansion into the town of White Pine Bay continued this hour, with Dylan learning more about the business he’s a part of, and Norma making a play for the city council.  But the most shocking thing about Norman’s contribution to his own story this week was how it wasn’t shocking at all.  In a town like White Pine Bay, his actions (and reactions) should barely register.  Still, it makes his desire for anonymity that much harder.  Hit the jump for why, judging by the company you keep, I know all I need to know.

A&E Renews BATES MOTEL For a Third Season

by     Posted 10 days ago

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Halfway through its second season, Bates Motel has been renewed by A&E for another ten episode run.  The engrossing and underrated drama was developed by Carlton Cuse (Lost) and Kerry Ehrin (Friday Night Lights), and acts as a prequel of sorts to the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho.

The series’ greatest strength has been creating a world that leads up to, but isn’t dependent, on the story on which it is partially based.  Actually, scratch that — the series’ greatest strength is the Emmy-nominated Vera Farmiga, who plays Norma Bates.  Farmiga’s Norma is crafty, vulnerable, and hypnotic to watch — she’s completely unpredictable as the character and in the way Norma is portrayed.  Hit the jump for more on the series (spoiler-free), and its current ratings. 

SILICON VALLEY Series Premiere Recap: “Minimum Viable Product”

by     Posted 11 days ago

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Mike Judge‘s (Office Space) new series Silicon Valley is finely-honed satire.  It’s technically a comedy, but with so much to lampoon about the tech industry, the series shows restraint by taking its time and building in both visual and conversational jokes.  Comedy pilots can be a series’ weakest point, but “Minimum Viable Product” was (probably thanks to Judge’s experience and success) a strong start for a show that knows its purpose and the story it wants to tell.  Hit the jump for why you don’t even know the half of it (and neither does Congress).

GAME OF THRONES Season 4 Premiere Recap: “Two Swords”

by     Posted 11 days ago

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There’s a reason why HBO had a twenty-five-minute recap of Game of Thrones third season in preparation for the fourth: the tales have become more varied and twisted than the swords that make up the Iron Throne.  Picking up halfway through A Storm of Swords‘ story (the massive third book of the Song of Ice and Fire series), Game of Thrones‘ new season had a lot to catch up on, and a lot to explain moving forward.  The most powerful and meaningful sequence though was its first: the Lannisters are not just conquering their enemies, they’re gobbling them up and repurposing them.  Hit the jump for more.

HANNIBAL Recap: “Futamono”

by     Posted 13 days ago

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And then there was “Futamono.”  Hannibal‘s sixth episode this season served up everything the show has to offer.  Even Will’s dog pack made an appearance.  In many ways (mostly narrative), it was too scattered of an episode.  But per usual, its visuals saved it, and connected it even when there was no connection to be made.  Hannibal has been without surprises for a long time; as I mentioned last week, the show will always lack some degree of suspense because its eventualities are known.  But “Futamono’s” best quality was that of surprise.  There were a number of twists that made it as fascinating gnarled as a tree growing through a man.  Hit the jump for why you’re wearing your concentration like a brimming cup.

What to Watch Online: Streaming Recommendations Volume 5 – TV Catch-Up

by     Posted 13 days ago

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In such a crowded TV landscape, with so many great shows, only the strongest survive.  Even then, it’s hard to keep up with them all.  But, the only good thing about missing out on the first season of a great show is that you get to binge-watch your way to catch up.  Three series – Orphan BlackRectify and Moone Boy – are returning soon that flew under the radar when they debuted, but gained a lot of love, and a devoted following, as they wrapped up their inaugural seasons.  And luckily, they’re now all available on streaming, so there’s no excuse to miss out.

Hit the jump for why you should make time to catch-up with them before their second seasons start in Volume 4 of my streaming recommendations series.

Premiere Dates Set for HBO’s New Series THE LEFTOVERS and the Final Season of TRUE BLOOD; Teaser Trailer for TRUE BLOOD Released

by     Posted 14 days ago

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HBO’s much-anticipated drama series The Leftovers, from Lost‘s Damon Lindelof and novelist Tom Perotta, has finally been given a premiere date.  The series, which deals with The Rapture, will straddle the end of Game of Thrones and the beginning of True Blood‘s final season on the schedule.  Hit the jump for the exact dates, and more on both series (including a True Blood teaser).

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