THE AMERICANS Recap: “The Deal”

by     Posted 20 days ago

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The season, The Americans has been setting up mirrors for Philip and Elizabeth in their personal and professional lives (often both at the same time, since they overlap).  They aren’t always liking what they see.  This complicated confrontation manifested in “The Deal” as a series of conversations Philip had with an Israeli Mossad agent, and some revelations Elizabeth learned about Philip through Martha about “Clarke.”  Often subtle regarding its themes of identity, “The Deal” went whole-hog in expressing the struggle to define it.  Hit the jump for why “we are better at vodka, they are better at tobacco.”

THE AMERICANS Episode Recap: “Safe House”

by     Posted 1 year, 12 days ago

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The Americans took a break last week — something FX never does with its dramas — because of filming delays, but “Safe House” was well worth the wait.  Things got messy thanks to one personal mistake that lead to a Cold War crisis, and it was handled with controlled chaos.  What was great about the confusion and fallout that happened throughout “Safe House” was that it wasn’t arbitrary.  On some series, miscommunication and mistakes happen because people don’t speak or are unwilling to ask basic questions or confirm anything (Lost comes to mind, a show where almost no one asked anyone anything obvious).  The Americans pulled off an amazing feat of plotting this week by allowing things to happen realistically in turn, and following a situation until its natural, though most extreme, end.  Hit the jump for more on why “we should have fried chicken every day!”

THE AMERICANS Episode Recap: “Mutually Assured Destruction”

by     Posted 1 year, 26 days ago

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The title for The Americans really said it all this week, didn’t it?  There is a secret war going on that no one wants to become full-fledged combat, regarding both the U.S. and the Jennings’ marriage.  Parallels!  That being said, the Jennings’ marriage (one of the strangest yet most honestly portrayed ones on TV) went to some dark, sad places this week whereas the rest of us got a history lesson.  I said early on in The Americans that the show presumed probably a little too much from the audience in terms of a deep knowledge / understanding of that time period and the political motivations within it.  This week, the show did a good job of having the characters ask some pretty straight-forward questions about why the U.S., if it knows but doesn’t “know” that the Russians are targeting the country, retaliate?  “We do not want to start a war,” was the straight-forward reply.  Hit the jump for why we just have to “act like nothing happened.”

THE AMERICANS Episode Recap: “Duty and Honor”

by     Posted 1 year, 33 days ago

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The subject and nuances of marriage were again at the forefront of this week’s The Americans, and this time it seemed to focus mostly on loyalty (and also, you know, “Duty and Honor”).  The Jennings’ uneasy marriage can sometimes be a reflection of their own complicated feelings about their lifelong mission for their country, of which their marriage is an integral part.  After several weeks of seeing Elizabeth’s side of things, from her affair with Gregory to hints from her childhood and her initial hesitations at being with Philip in the first place, we finally got to see some of Philip’s background, including a former love, Irina, with whom he is now reuniting.  The two were coming together to enact a scheme that would help to discredit a Polish resistance leader who was being sheltered in the United States during his Polish exile.  And that was just the beginning — hit the jump for more on why “I’m sorry I didn’t kill you.”

THE AMERICANS Episode Recap: “Trust Me”

by     Posted 1 year, 40 days ago

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Dobry den, my comrades – The Americans got real tonight, da?  Philip and Elizabeth’s story took a surprising turn (quite a few turns, though not quite how I expected), but even they were overshadowed by the tricks Stan pulled to keep Nina from harm, not to mention that haunting interlude where Paige and Henry decided to hitchhike.  This was a pretty flawless episode from top to bottom, building off of what we have experienced in the last five weeks (Elizabeth and Philip’s relationship, Stan’s protectiveness towards Nina) and rewarded us for staying true to the cause.  Things are coming together as much as they were split asunder this week, and per usual I’m not sure what to expect going forward (one of the series’ greatest traits).  But for now, hit the jump for why “I believe in God, not coincidence.”

THE AMERICANS Episode Recap: “Comint”

by     Posted 1 year, 47 days ago

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Another nuanced episode of The Americans this week, focusing on the tit-for-tat back and forth of intelligence and counterintelligence.  Just as the FBI found a way to not only encrypt but make portable its communication, the Russians (via Elizabeth and Philip) found a way to hear them anyway.  Within a day the FBI had adjusted the code to block out the Russians, and so forth.  The bigger revelation was not this cat and mouse game, though, but that the Russians discovered that there was a mole.  And, despite their Herculean efforts to keep their agent in the Department of Defense, Adam Dorma (who we meet briefly at the start of the episode), in the end he became as much of a liability to them as an asset because his loyalty was briefly questioned in his moment of distress.  In the spy world, the slightest hesitation could mean everything.  Hit the jump for why you shouldn’t ask questions, even for all of our 35 years and 8 months together!

FX Renews Spy Drama THE AMERICANS for a Second Season

by     Posted 1 year, 53 days ago

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Just four episodes into its inaugural season, FX has already granted its spy drama series The Americans a 13-episode order for a second season.  The show has garnered a lot of critical acclaim and is backed by strong performances from its leads, Keri RussellMatthew Rhys and Noah Emmerich.  According to the network, the series premiere was the most-watched debut in FX’s history, with 5.11 million viewers tuning in.  The network is also reporting ratings gains every week, making The Americans a bona fide hit.

The show, created by Joe Weisberg (a former CIA agent), takes place in 1981 just after Ronald Reagan’s election, and follows two embedded KGB spies, Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, (Russell and Rhys) who spent years preparing to become “typical” Americans so they could help out their government from U.S. soil.  Though Elizabeth struggles with the emotional aspects of assimilation, Philip seems to be developing some positive feelings for the land they were bred to hate.  In addition to the spy elements, the show also focuses on the newly budding relationship between the two leads, who were forced into a marriage for appearances sake, but have only now begun to see each other as more than business partners.  Hit the jump for more on the series, and click here to catch up on my recaps.

THE AMERICANS Episode Recap: “In Control”

by     Posted 1 year, 54 days ago

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I solicited a lot of feedback about The Americans this week because I was confused about how I could still be left so cold by a show that seems so beloved and full of things I should like (spies! Russians! Keri Russell‘s hair!).  It seemed I wasn’t really alone though, and there were plenty of people who felt like I did, that while the show was objectively good, it lacked a spark.  However, last week’s episode, “Gregory,” went a long way in repairing my feelings about the show, which is tough and can be difficult to follow.  It’s not a casual experience, but a deeply involved one that asks us to be completely engaged in it, with a fair amount of background knowledge.  It’s a show that, I know, will grow richer with repeated viewings.  Finally though, this week, I saw the light.  “In Control” was a very solidly entertaining hour of TV.  Hit the jump for more on why “one mistake is all it takes.”

Matthew Rhys Talks THE AMERICANS, Embracing the 80s, and His Character’s Journey in the First Season

by     Posted 1 year, 63 days ago

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The Americans is FX’s new period drama about the complex and complicated marriage of two KGB spies posing as Americans in suburban Washington, D.C., shortly after Ronald Reagan was elected President.  Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) have a network of spies and informants under their control, while their two children – 13-year-old Paige (Holly Taylor) and 10-year-old Henry (Keidrich Sellati) – know nothing about their parents’ true identity.  Even though Philip’s growing affinity for America’s values and way of life leads to tension with Elizabeth, the two must work together to keep their new FBI agent neighbor (Noah Emmerich) from discovering who they really are.

During this recent exclusive interview with Collider, actor Matthew Rhys talked about how he came to be a part of this show, his reaction to the material, the research he did to get into the mind-set of a guy like this, embracing the ‘80s, the journey his character will be taking this season, and working with co-star Keri Russell.  Check out what he had to say after the jump.

THE AMERICANS Recap: “The Clock”

by     Posted 1 year, 68 days ago

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There’s something missing in The Americans that I can’t quite put my finger on.  The concept is certainly compelling, and the pilot set up so much on both the KGB and FBI sides of the story.  The series is written by a former CIA officer, and the show is nuanced to a fault and is backed up by great casting.  But there is still something lacking in the execution of the material.  I wasn’t blown away by the pilot, though it did deliver a lot for the series to cover, and this second episode, “The Clock,” felt like it was a mid-season coaster rather than an early season episode that would really revved up viewers (particularly as a new show).  The Americans is not an easy series, but it may have great pay off.  Is it grabbing us enough, though?  Hit the jump for more.

THE AMERICANS Recap: “Pilot”

by     Posted 1 year, 75 days ago

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The Americans capitalizes on two great American loves: spy thrillers, and stickin’ it to our old Cold War foe, the former Soviet Union.  It’s not all as simple as that, though, since the protagonists are, indeed, Russian, and they are here to fight against all things Americans.  But The Americans combines elements from two of the best shows currently on TV, Breaking Bad (with the hidden darkness of seemingly vanilla suburbanites with close encounters with federal agents) and Homeland (embedded terrorist sleeper agents) yet comes up with a few twists of its own.  The show came out with a strong pilot that sets up much to come — hit the jump for more on the premiere and why “the moon is nothing, getting into space is the real accomplishment!”

FX Orders 13-Episode First Season of Spy Pilot THE AMERICANS Starring Keri Russell

by     Posted 1 year, 248 days ago

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FX has made a commitment to order the spy pilot The Americans to series.  The hourlong drama stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as two KGB spies posing as a married American couple in the suburbs of Washington DC in the 1980s.  Here’s how FX describes the show:

The arranged marriage of Phillip (Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Russell), who have two children who know nothing about their parents true identity, grows more passionate and genuine by the day, but is constantly tested by the escalation of the Cold War and the intimate, dangerous and darkly funny relationships they must maintain with a network of spies and informants under their control

The relationship between the two is complicated by Rhys’ growing affinity for American values, and the arrival of a new neighbor who is actually an FBI agent working counter intelligence.  FX has ordered a 13-episode first season of the show, which will debut in early 2013.  Gavin O’Connor (Warrior) directed the pilot.  Hit the jump to read the full press release.

TV Casting: Matthew Rhys Set Opposite Kerri Russel in THE AMERICANS; Yunjin Kim Joins ABC’s MISTRESSES

by     Posted 2 years, 28 days ago

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We’ve got a couple of television casting stories to share with you this weekend. First up, Deadline reports that Brothers & Sisters star Matthew Rhys has nabbed the male lead opposite Keri Russell in FX’s period drama pilot The Americans. The series centers on two KGB spies posing as a married American couple in the suburbs of Washington, DC in the 1980s. Complicating matters, the couple has two children who are unaware of their parents’ true identities and the husband grows an affinity for America’s values and way of life. This is one of the more interesting pilots in development this season, and while I’m unfamiliar with Rhys’ work, I’m eager to see how the series will play out. The project comes from Falling SkiesJoe Weisberg and Justified showrunner Graham Yost.

Hit the jump for casting news regarding Lost star Yunjin Kim.

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