PENNY DREADFUL Recap: “Demimonde”

by     Posted 60 days ago

penny dreadful recap

In its fourth episode, Penny Dreadful does not cease to amaze in how it has drawn together and played around with, in a way that really resonates, these characters from classic horror literature (plus a few others).  One of the best things about a collaboration film like The Avengers, say, is seeing favorite characters come together and interact in new and unexpected ways.  And with Penny Dreadful, there’s plenty of time to explore the nuances of those relationships, as well as how they develop (or don’t), outside of the key mission.  Hit the jump for why “you are fucking a skeleton every night!”

SILICON VALLEY Recap: Season One Finale, “Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency”

by     Posted 60 days ago

silicon valley recap

What a fantastic inaugural season for Mike Judge‘s Silicon Valley.  The show fired on all cylinders through its run, and is probably the funniest comedy HBO has produced in years.  A lot of HBO’s recent comedies have been dark or subversive — Girls, Hello Ladies, even Looking (which was excellent, and never really a comedy).  Silicon Valley is very smart, very sharp, but never dark.  The season was tight, reflexive, funny, weird, and deeply satirical.  Hit the jump for more adjectives.

PENNY DREADFUL Recap: “Resurrection”

by     Posted 67 days ago

penny dreadful recap resurrection

First of all, no, I haven no idea how my insane brain made the connections it did regarding the end of Penny Dreadful‘s second episode, “Séance.”  (I’m off that cold medication now).  What I do know is that in “Resurrection” it was all made clear, or at least, as clear as Penny Dreadful ever is.  And in its third hour, the show continued the story of Victor Frankenstein in such a wonderful and emotional way that the entire series could really just be about him and his weird, created family.  Hit the jump for why, despite what the poets say, death is not serene.

HANNIBAL Season 2 Finale: “Mizumono”

by     Posted 68 days ago


Clean off your knives and have a rest, Fannibals — there’s a lot to unpack here.  Hannibal has always been about the monster within.  Throughout this second season, Hannibal himself has tried to cultivate that monster in Will like he did with Garrett Jacob Hobbs and others.  After Will was finally freed, though, he was ready to implement his master plan against Hannibal, which meant pretending to go along.  Except, as DuMaurier warned him as well as Jack, if you think you’ve got Hannibal cornered, it’s probably because he wants you to think that.  Hit the jump for why “we’re all desperate for a little hope.”

THE AMERICANS Recap: Season Two Finale, “Echo”

by     Posted 71 days ago

the americans season 2 keri russell matthew rhys slice

The Americans has had a fantastic second season, one that tied in its many plots together in emotional ways.  While the series was propelled by the gruesome murders of the Jennings’ fellow spies (and their daughter Amelia), as well as the roving wild card of Larrick, the season also never felt beholden to those things.  That’s what made “Echo” such an odd finale in many ways; it answered those questions (quickly), and then raised so many more.  Hit the jump for why “she belongs to the cause, and to the world.”

MAD MEN Recap: “The Strategy”

by     Posted 74 days ago


Mad Men is a tough show for me because at most I’ve respected it but never really enjoyed it.  Honestly, I would have bailed if we weren’t so close to the end, but I must say that this season has been quite good.  While season six was about how Don fell back into old habits (and the writer’s room looked like it had run out of ideas), the first part of season seven has done some really interesting things with its characters.  I lead with this disclaimer so you know where I’m coming from as I step in temporarily for Allison.

This week’s episode, “The Strategy” was another good step forward as Mad Men decided to show there’s really no going home again, no matter how much Burger Chef you order. Hit the jump for why “I’m just being realistic.”

PENNY DREADFUL Recap: “Séance”

by     Posted 74 days ago


In Penny Dreadful‘s first episode, “Night Work,” Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton) told Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) to not be amazed by what he sees.  Indeed, there were many monsters and horrors to be beheld by Ethan, and by viewers.  But the most amazing things Penny Dreadful has shown so far is a tenderness and attention to the emotional needs of its characters.  “Séance” had frights (not as much as the premiere), but it also had a number of truly beautiful moments.  Hit the jump for why “I never say no.”

GAME OF THRONES Recap: “Mockingbird”

by     Posted 74 days ago


I’m filling in for Allison this week, and to quote Oberyn, “I will be your champion!” Okay, probably not so much, but I will be going through this unusual episode of Game of Thrones [side note: I haven’t read the books].  When I watch Game of Thrones, I expect horrible things to happen, and so this episode threw me for a loop because it was primarily people being nice to each other.  Granted, the specter of death looms large (as always), but as our characters peer into the abyss, it’s a bonding experience…for the most part.  Hit the jump for why “a bit of comfort never hurt anyone.”

HANNIBAL Recap: “Tome-Wan”

by     Posted 76 days ago


Well Hannibal, that was a hell of a thing.  As Hannibal himself says to Will, the theme of hiding and revealing identity is a constant in Greek drama.  It’s also a constant in this show, as Hannibal chooses when and how to show himself to Will specifically and others generally, while Will illuminates certain aspects of his own personality to suit the situation.  Will is playing a game between Hannibal and Jack, but just as things seem clear-cut, the show finds a way to throw us completely off.  Hit the just for how “we’re maintaining our position on the event horizon of chaos.”

THE AMERICANS Recap: “Operation Chronicle”

by     Posted 78 days ago

the americans recap operation chronicle

Can we just talk about how great The Americans has been this season?  If the first season was setup, the second season has been payoff.  Although, within this second season, there have been so many additional interesting layers and threads; from Leanne and Emmett’s murder to start things off, to high-concept arcs like those involving loyalty and betrayal, The Americans has unfolded over the last 12 weeks beautifully and with great effect.  And as a bonus, while most series introduce kids just to have them in the background, The Americans has also used Paige and Henry’s own stories to act as foils, or to augment their parents’ struggles.  Hit the jump for why I think you have a very bright future (now take my money and run).

SILICON VALLEY Recap: “Third Party Insourcing”

by     Posted 80 days ago


In Silicon Valley‘s “Third Party Insourcing,” the satire and character-building were both exceptionally high.  It was also just a hilarious episode, and reminiscent of some of Mike Judge‘s other work (like King of the Hill in particular).  As the Pied Piper guys work towards the TechCrunch competition deadline, they’re forced to bring in a ringer (Austin Abrams) who can help Richard with his blind spot, programming cloud.  Truths are then revealed that bring everyone back to reality. Hit the jump for why a fetus is better than you (maybe).

MAD MEN Recap: “The Runaways”

by     Posted 81 days ago


The counterculture is in full swing, can ya dig?  If you come away with nothing else from this hour of Mad Men, “The Runaways” at least was very clear that things are crazy, man, and the times they are a-changing (and that’s where I’ll stop, I promise).  There are those who are left behind, and those are flowing with the change, and the chasm between them is growing wider.  For Don, though, it’s an opportunity.  This seventh season has shown the miracle of change for Don — but is it just adaptation?  Hit the jump, you bunch of flag-burning snots!

GAME OF THRONES Recap: “The Laws of Gods and Men”

by     Posted 81 days ago


The chaos of Westeros has always created interesting dynamics among its players, major and minor, but never more so than in a post-Purple Wedding world.   Game of Thrones revolves around a jockeying of power, but at the center of that are ideas of loyalty.  It’s of such importance because the wrong allegiances can (and usually do) get one killed.  Choosing sides and casting lots is like casting a die most of the time, but what makes episodes like “The Laws of God and Men” so good is that they take the time to explore more deeply the motivations and machinations of those torn between staying alive, and living with purpose.  Hit the jump for why it’s surprisingly comfortable in the kennels.

PENNY DREADFUL Series Premiere Recap: “Night Work”

by     Posted 81 days ago


Few locations and time periods have been the source of such constant fascination as Victorian London, the setting of Showtime’s newest drama series Penny Dreadful.  Though some recent series (mostly on PBS) have flirted with going on monarch further — Edwardian, that is — most series prefer to depict the gritty and somehow more supernatural time of the Victorians, the setting of so much horror literature.  This is Penny Dreadful‘s design, and writer/creator John Logan (Skyfall) uses it to its maximum, finding a way to make some of these very old stories feel new again.  Hit the jump for more.

THE AMERICANS Recap: “Stealth”

by     Posted 85 days ago

the americans recap stealth

In “Stealth,” The Americans got down to brass tacks.  The season’s biggest arcs are all coming together and, seemingly, coming to a close.  The stakes are actually starting to look a lot like those in Game of Thrones: you don’t just win or lose, you win or you die.  It’s easy to feel disconnected from that reality when watching The Americans, because the Jennings are not presumably going to suffer the same fate as Emmett and Leanne.  But that gruesome death, which set the tone for the season, also assured viewers that things are not going to be simple.  And at the very least, the amount of emotional carnage will be high.  Hit the jump, you young pioneer!

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