Allison’s Top 12 Returning TV Series of 2014

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(Huge Understatement Warning): There’s a lot of great TV on right now.  And as yesterday’s list of the Best New Shows illustrated, there are always more being added to the pack.  To keep up with every year’s newest crop is a struggle, yet the shows listed here manage to do so with aplomb.  Many of these great returning series are old timers, bucking the trend of shows waning in their later years.  Others, though, are still relatively new, but have been able to avoid a sophomore slump by even improving upon their noteworthy first seasons.  It’s rare, and it’s also a wonderful thing for loyal fans.  Hit the jump for some unrestrained gushing.

HOMELAND Recap: “Krieg Nicht Lieb”

by     Posted 5 days ago

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Has any show had such a complete turnaround like Homeland has this season?  It has been unafraid to raise the stakes to the highest possible degree throughout the season, and yet, all of it has connected intimately with the overall idea of (as Dar Adal says in the promo for the finale) questions of “moral clarity.”  In “Krieg Nichy Lieb” (roughly translated to something to “War not Love”), Homeland is also seeming to consider the idea that maybe the bad guys win; and maybe that’s because the good guys let them.  Hit the jump for why,”there was a Taliban flag hanging over my head. I can’t let that go.”

2015 Golden Globe Nominations Announced; BIRDMAN Leads the Film Categories with Seven; FARGO Scores Five TV Nods

by     Posted 9 days ago

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It looks as though Alejandro González Iñárritu and Birdman could have quite the awards season.  Not only did the film earn the most SAG and Independent Spirit Award nominations, but now it’s got the most Golden Globe Nominations as well.  Birdman came in with a total of seven nods followed by Boyhood and The Imitation Game, both of which got five.  Fargo led the television series or program categories with five nominations while True Detective came in right behind with four.

I’m glad to see Reese Witherspoon getting recognition for her work in Wild, but I hope the film itself gets some attention down the line.  It’s also unfortunate that Channing Tatum’s work in Foxcatcher isn’t being honored.  And sadly Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany didn’t make this list, but I’ve got no problem rooting for Girls Lena Dunham or Orange is the New Black’s Taylor Schilling instead.  Hit the jump for the full list of 2015 Golden Globe nominees.

2015 Screen Actors Guild Nominations Announced; BIRDMAN Leads with Four Followed By BOYHOOD, THE IMITATION GAME and THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

by     Posted 10 days ago

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The 2015 Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations have been announced and, yet again, Birdman scored the most nods including Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role (Michael Keaton), Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role (Edward Norton), Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role (Emma Stone) and Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.  Boyhood, The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything all received three nominations.

On the TV front, I’m glad to see Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany snag her very first SAG nomination, but where’s Eva Green in the Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series category?  Her work on Penny Dreadful needs some recognition.  Hit the jump for the full list of nominees.  The 21st Annual SAG Awards will be simulcast on TNT and TBS on Sunday, January 25th at 8pm EST.

HOMELAND Recap: “13 Hours in Islamabad”

by     Posted 13 days ago

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Wow.  Homeland continues to find ways to top itself this season.  “13 Hours in Islamabad” was an unflinching and often harrowing coda to last week’s shocking ending.  What happened to the convoy wasn’t just a one-off attack, he was part of Haqqani’s ISI-backed larger scheme to get a top secret list of assets so he could kill them.  It also mean that “13 Hours in Islamabad” was part of a long nightmare that never seemed to end.  When it finally did, nothing was resolved.  But there’s still so much promise.  Hit the jump for why “I’m trying to kill the motherfucker trying to kill us!  What do you think I’m doing??”

HOMELAND Recap: “There’s Something Else Going On”

by     Posted 27 days ago

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“There’s Something Else Going On” was another incredible, tense, and twisted hour from Homeland that stuck to what the show does best: political posturing and CIA business.  It’s not surprising that almost all of this season’s best episodes have done away with the soap opera elements (Carrie’s “trip” through the city ignited a few, they were contained in her mind, so they get a pass).  “There’s Something Else Going On” showed just how difficult and sprawling this war has gotten, and that, as Carrie said last week, even the right choices are wrong.  Hit the jump for “what the fuck?  What the fucking fuck??”

HOMELAND Recap: “Halfway to a Donut”

by     Posted 34 days ago

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Things are both starting to come together and starting to fall apart on Homeland.  Though there wasn’t any trolling or dramatic meltdowns like in “Redux,”  “Halfway to a Donut” was a strong follow-up to that hour’s chaos.  What’s been really fun about this season of Homeland is that the major arc can never be fully predicted.  The detours and twists and resets have made this season an excellent showcase for Homeland‘s new dedication to the unexpected.  Hit the jump for why “they hate us.  Good luck finding common interest in that.”

Showtime Renews HOMELAND and THE AFFAIR for New Seasons

by     Posted 40 days ago

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Showtime has ordered new seasons of two dramas that are currently in the middle of their respective seasons on the network.  The pay cable channel announced today a 12-episode Homeland Season 5 will air on the network in 2015, while a 10-episode second season of the critically acclaimed new series The Affair will also debut next year as well.  Homeland has done a fine job of rebooting itself this year while also injecting plenty of those Homeland-esque twists (last night’s episode was particularly “WTF”-inducing), and so I’m pleased to here the further adventures of Claire Danes’ CIA agent Carrie Mathison will continue next year.

As for The Affair, I haven’t yet watched the show but have been hearing very, very good things—especially from our own Allison Keene.  The drama stars Ruth Wilson, Dominic West, Maura Tierney, and Joshua Jackson and revolves around the devastating effects of an extramarital affair.  The series is told in a uniquely structured fashion that presents two different points of view.  Both series are currently airing on Sundays on Showtime.  Read the full press release after the jump.

HOMELAND Recap: “Redux”

by     Posted 41 days ago

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First off … let’s take a deep breath.  In “Redux,” Homeland‘s writers succeeded in some major trolling that they did well to keep quiet.  But for the rest of the hour, “Redux” was full of suspense, not because of Saul’s capture and what might happen to him, but because of Carrie’s descent into mania and complete mood destabilization, thanks to friggin’ Dennis.  Hit the jump to visit “the graveyard of empires.”

HOMELAND Recap: “From A to B to Back Again”

by     Posted 48 days ago

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With its fourth season, Homeland has finally started taking some real risks.  It wiped out a character who had been central to the show, as well as all those associated with him.  It also totally realigned itself, meanwhile, in a new country and with a new set of targets.  While some of the things in this fourth season have felt recycled from seasons past, “From A to B to Back Again” proved that this really is a new Homeland, willing to make decisions that are best for the story and the characters, and not just about keeping viewers happy.  Hit the jump if you are resourceful.

HOMELAND Recap: “About A Boy”

by     Posted 55 days ago

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In “About a Boy,” Homeland seems to have settled on its main arcs this season, and many of them continue to surprise.  While Carrie continues to gain Aayan’s trust, Quinn and Fara are on a stakeout to learn more about the cleric who was harboring Aayan’s uncle, Haissan Haqqani.  As Saul is about to leave the country and head home, he keeps his eye on a target at the airport, and phones in the details just before the tables turn.  Secretly acting as the lynchpin to all of this is Martha’s husband Dennis, who ISI is using to gain further intel on the Americans.  Hit the jump for why “I don’t want to lie to you anymore.”

HOMELAND Recap: “Iron in the Fire”

by     Posted 62 days ago

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In “Iron in the Fire,” Homeland expanded on the conspiracy surrounding Sandy Bachman’s death, and brought it all back to Homeland‘s central theme of trust.  As Carrie builds her team in Islamabad, she also wrestles with the CIA operatives already in place there; though as she quickly discovers, she needs their help, too. (Although it isn’t, of course, that simple).  Homeland also snuffed out some of its own fire by revealing the identity of the confidential informant, but did so in a way that shows that arc is far from over.  Hit the jump, because “what I need is your help, not your goddamn foot on the break.”

HOMELAND Recap: “Shalwar Kameez”

by     Posted 69 days ago

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In “Shalwar Kameez,” Homeland made a decision that I predict will be divisive within the fandom.  There are always going to be messy personal relationships on Homeland — it’s part of what makes the show compelling — but the direction “Shalwar Kameez” started to take some of them is potentially worrisome, because it harkens back to one of the weakest aspects of the series from the past two years.  Hit the jump for why “once a scalp hunter, always a scalp hunter.”

HOMELAND Season 4 Premiere Recap, Part 2: “Trylon and Perisphere”

by     Posted 76 days ago

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The second hour of Homeland‘s new season didn’t let up at all from the powerhouse nature of its first.  It did, however, focus more on its characters, while also setting up the season-long arc (which is finding out who Sandy’s asset was, and unraveling that treasonous cluster).  One that that hasn’t changed since Season Three is the head of the CIA, Lockhart, being a total dickhead.  After the horrorshow in “The Drone Queen,” Lockhart recalled Carrie and wanted her grounded back in the U.S. as part of “accountability” (also known as scapegoating).  But nothing in Kabul could frighten Carrie as much as confronting her life back home.  Hit the jump for why “now, I fulfill freedom of information requests from conspiracy nuts in Ohio.”

HOMELAND Season 4 Premiere Recap, Part 1: “The Drone Queen”

by     Posted 76 days ago

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Everyone knows the story of Homeland‘s ups (its fantastic first season) and downs (the last two seasons), but its fourth season remained a big question mark.  “The Drone Queen,” the first of a two-episode premiere, should have assuaged any concerns.  The Brodys are gone – completelygone — and the show has found a way to totally revamp itself moving forward.  It may not capture the brilliant struggle of its inaugural season, but it may have just made a turn to being another kind of very compelling drama.  Hit the jump for more on Homeland 2.0.

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