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"While there was imagination to Swiss Army Man, I am on the hate side of it." -Chris

 "I watched 10 Cloverfield Lane on a long flight Tuesday. It felt like a cross between Misery, Room and an end-of-the-world sci-fi horror B movie. I liked it." -Paul

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Entries in TV (446)

Saturday
Jun112016

Swing, Tarzan, Swing! Ch.5: Mike Henry gets his 007 on in the "Valley of Gold"

As we approach the release of The Legend of Tarzan (2016) we're ogling past screen incarnations of the Lord of the Apes...

Tarzan aficianados will cry foul that I've skipped ahead to 1966 in this retrospective but the awesomely named actor Jock Mahoney wouldn't mind. He only made two Tarzan films in the mid sixties... and barely finished those. He got deathly ill on the second, lost 40 lbs during the picture, and couldn't get out of the jungle fast enough. The first of those pictures lost money, too.

You see, in the wake of the phenomenal success of Dr. No (1962), From Russia With Love (1963) and Goldfinger (1964), James Bond was the new #1 adventure hero and Tarzan was old news. The Tarzan franchise took note and tried to combine the two with Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966), introducing the closest thing they could find to Sean Connery's swarthy dimpled masculinity: Mike Henry.

Mike Henry was a professional football player with the Los Angeles Rams but he left sports for the actor's life and donned the Tarzan's loincloth.

...Or, should we say his suit.

In addition to introducing Tarzan as a jet-setting perpetually-endangered looker in a suit, this new 007 style adventure also begins with a kitschy mod score over colorful credits, an opening action sequence that's somewhat disconnected from the movie that follows, and an intelligent international criminal with a taste for booby-trapped gifts. So, you know, we're definitely in Bond territory...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jun102016

Emmy FYC: Supporting Actress (Comedy) - Constance Zimmer in UnREAL

Emmy nomination voting begins Monday. For the next week or two we'll be sharing FYCs of some kind. Here's Anne Marie...

If you've watched TV in the last ten years, you've seen Constance Zimmer. She was the snarky hot chick in Entourage, the snarky hot campaign spokesperson in The Newsroom, and the snarky hot secret agent in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Constance Zimmer has made a career using her trademark wit, smoked-three-packs-of-cigarettes voice, and deadpan delivery, but it took a role as a cruel, cold, and possibly murderous TV showrunner on Lifetime's surprise breakout hit UnREAL to show audiences Zimmer's full potential as a character actress.

 If you haven't seen UnREAL yet (in which case you should head to Hulu right now and finish this article later): Constance Zimmer plays Quinn King, the executive producer of a reality dating show called Everlasting a la The Bachelor. While most of the season revolves around the poor life choices of Rachel Goldberg (Shiri Appleby), Zimmer steals scenes with so-awful-they're-fun lines like:

Alright people! You get cash bonuses for 9-1-1 calls, nudity, catfights! Go!

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jun092016

Emmy FYC: Ten Nominees?

Emmy nomination voting begins Monday. For the next week or two we'll be sharing FYCs of some kind. Here's Daniel...

If you haven’t had a chance yet to read Debra Birnbaum’s shake-up Emmys proposal in Variety, I highly recommend you do. Her argument seems tailor made for feedback from passionate awards watchers (i.e. TFE readers) who have cultivated reams of opinions for how various awards bodies do business, nomination-wise, in an ever-changing marketplace of taste and broader appeal. Living in this age of television where high quality programs are on an infinity loop, she wonders whether the Emmys should consider expanding their Outstanding Drama and Comedy Series categories to ten nominees.

Sound familiar?

While there’s a certain integrity in maintaining a tradition of exclusive acclaim – after all, not every deserving piece of art can statistically make the cut – one wonders how a taboo-busting, conversation-elevating, and surprising comedy like the aptly named Broad City can so consistently take bong hits off the zeitgeist without seeing a few gold men women along the way. That aren’t hallucinations, mind you. Same goes for The Americans, which has been uniformly accepted by critics as one of the all-time greats and yet fails time and time again to nudge out a longstanding favorite like Downton Abbey. The Emmys notoriously pick their favorites and bitterly cling to them so could this be an inclusive measure to better reflect populist and critical tastes?

On the flipside, for every District 9 or A Serious Man, there’s a Blind Side amongst expanded groups. On the movie side, AMPAS has struggled to find clarity on this issue – abandoning the hard ten for a jostle between seven and nine. That's made some yearn for a time when five was fine. There's no guarantee that bigger sized envelopes equal 'pushing the envelope' in awards selections. After expanding their roster to seven nominees last year, perhaps the Emmys are better served to wait and see how their fresh shuffle deals in the long game. As Birnbaum touches upon, mainstays like Mad Men and Nurse Jackie have ended their runs and opened up space for new nominees. And, yet, the juggernaut that is Modern Family journeys on unchecked, save a Veep.

Should the Emmys take a page from the 2009-2010 Oscar playbook and expand their nominations in hopes of new players? Or will their fresh groceries go stale? How do you adjust an influx of quality with such limited quantity? 

Friday
Jun032016

Todd Field Finally Returns

It's been a decade since director Todd Field's masterful Little Children followed up his equally potent In the Bedroom, and we have been clammoring for his next effort since. After many close calls and proposed projects, his next literary adaptation is finally coming to fruition. Showtime has announced a two season, 20 episode order for Purity, based on last year's Jonathan Franzen globehopping novel. With the cable network throwing its weight behind the series, this is exciting news for those over us who have watched his many projects never get beyond the announcement stage.

This one comes with a high pedigree: Daniel Craig has signed on to play the central pseudo-WikiLeaks activist Andreas Wolf (sealing the final nail in the coffin to any Bond speculation), with Franzen and Oscar nominee David Hare sharing the writing duties with Field. The female lead has yet to be cast, but it's a strong role ripe for any number of younger actresses. Provided those Captain Marvel rumors don't materialize, might we make a suggestion:

 

 

It's quite an ambitious project for both Field and Showtime, hopefully stepping up their game in the coming years with this and the Twin Peaks revival. The novel is as expansive as Franzen's other praised works (curiously the more celebrated The Corrections and Freedom almost happened at HBO), with enough complex material for the planned two seasons and the thinkpieces that inevitably will follow. If nothing else, it should be a perfect fit to Field's intelligent sensibilities. The series will shoot next year, with both seasons airing shortly after.

Thursday
Jun022016

20 Years of TV History

what TVs looked like in the 90s (history of sets here)Here's a must read for the day. Over at HitFix, Alan Sepinwall has reached his 20th anniversary as a TV journalist/critic . It's a fascinating piece on 20 years of writing about TV and how much has changed in that medium since 1996. It's a fun history and nostalgia ride, particularly if you're interested in serialized TV (the best assett of TV but it took decades for TV to get there). I love most of the article and I'll save the highlights for your reading there.

But I do want to vehemently disagree with this statement I've bolded below even though the general idea now that "everything is better with TV" is totally true.

I can appreciate nostalgia for those days, if for no other reason than that the beat was easier to cover when there weren't 400+ original scripted series airing every year. But nearly everything about watching and writing about TV is so much better now than it was 20 years ago. The technology is better, giving us stunning imagery (imagine Lost or Breaking Bad shot for standard-def in the old aspect ratio) and easy access not only to the best of what's on now, but most of recorded TV history.

As someone who likes to curate my own viewing experiences, rather than leave the programming to the fancies of contracts/conflicts  between studios with both Netflix and Amazon, I am growing increasingly frustrated with acccess to both movies and television. It's getting worse not better (especially with movies) as everything splinters with "exclusivity" and things either stream or are  just not available since physical media is going the way of the dinosaur. Many TV shows I've tried to watch for research purposes or silly side pieces over the past few years have been unavailable to stream anywhere with prohibitively expensive DVD prices (if they're on DVD at all) like, oh, say Emmy favorite "Family" (1976-1980) or even something as recent as the failed CW show "Tarzan (2003)" which I had hoped to include in the Swing, Tarzan, Swing! series we've been doing on weekends. That's just two examples that have come up recently. But lots of times when we're considering a Centennial series on a famous star, their TV work is unavailable, period. Not one bit of it. That's especially true of telefilms which seem to evaporate as soon as they air, unless they were made in the last 15 years when everyone starting taking TV more seriously. When we were celebrating Mercedes McCambridge recently it felt like the exception and not the rule that I was able to rent her appearances on both "Bewitched" and "Charlie's Angels". Hell, even if you just want to watch something from last season (like "American Crime" S2) often streaming services will only let you watch the last few episodes aired and not the whole season, so if you're late to a show you probably have to wait a year or two until one of the streaming services picks it up.

But enough complaining. What are you most grateful in the evolution of this medium?

Wednesday
Jun012016

Hump Day Link Night

Vanity Fair Brie Larson reportedly frontrunner to play Captain Marvel. I'll believe that movie when I see it.
Boy Culture 90 things Marilyn Monroe would have done if she'd lived to be 90 today
The Playlist Susanne Bier, the Oscar winning Danish director of Brothers and After the Wedding fame, is rumored to be in the running to direct the next Bond film
Screencraft Do professional readers only read the first ten pages of each screenplay in their stacks? If you're an aspiring screenwriter you should read this.
Variety Jake Gyllenhaal to star in The Division, an adaptation of a video game

 

People Archives Mark Harris pointed us to this amazing profile of Sandy Dennis, Oscar-winner and crazy cat lady from 1989 
Vox has a detailed analysis and cool sortable list of all major TV characters who died this season, As per usual they're still killing off minorities in disproportionate numbers. Out of the 234 characters that died 29 of them were LGBT and 59 were people of color. 
Interview Mag Did you know that Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher are the stars of a new documentary? It'll play on HBO later this year
Towleroad President Obama issues 2016 Pride Month Proclamation. We'll be celebrating here to throughout the month 
Twitter so i played one of those "like this and I will" games and had to reveal 25 crushes from my life. It was fun!  

That Carney/Keira Situation
An update...
Directors and actors came forward to defend Keira Knightley after John Carney's recent remarks about herskill and their time together on Begin Again which we discussed on the most recent  Film Experience Podcast. John Carney has since issued this very self-deprecating public apology.

 

 

 

Tuesday
May172016

And the Season 8 Drag Race Winner is...

Last night, our favorite reality not-so-guilty pleasure wrapped up it's eighth season. RuPaul's Drag Race definitely came back strong this season after the underwhelming seventh stumbled. This crop of queens was among the most talented and dynamic, resulting in the show's best top three ever. Whether the eventual winner would be the boisterous Bob the Drag Queen, the heartwarming and inventive Kim Chi, or the glamazon Naomi Smalls, we the adoring audience could hardly complain.

After each of them performed fun lipsyncs to original tracks (available on iTunes *wink*), their individual interviews provided the night's best entertainment: Bob got a video message from Carol Channing praising her Snatch Game win to Bob's aghast tears; Kim dished on her relationship with her mother (who still has no knowledge of Kim's success) and delivered the night's best read aimed at the Pit Crew; Naomi gushed about the approval from her idol Naomi Campbell and shared hugs with her giant family.

But which queen is America's Next Drag Superstar? We'll avoid spoilers (if you haven't yet watched) and save the crowning for after the jump!...

Click to read more ...