There's something exciting about a critic who challenges your perceptions in a compelling way. I love the movie American Hustle but when I read Willa Paskin's take-down of it in Slate, she really got me thinking.
Opening nights of new incarnations of late-night TV talk shows are good, mostly, for first impressions — or, in the case of Jay Leno, sometimes a second impression. It's not fair to make strong judgments on the content alone, because a first show always is top-heavy with ideas, special guests and nervousness. But it is fair game to judge the set, the environment, the overall mood, and how well the host fits into the history of late-night television.
We're starting out today with a segment about "Generation-Like," the media term media theorist Douglas Rushkoff uses for the generation of Millennials who live huge chunks of their lives on social media where they subsist on a form of metered approval.
I Love Lucy was one of the most popular shows in the history of television. Its stars, redheaded Lucille Ball and her Cuban-American husband Desi Arnaz, became TV icons — but they almost didn't get on TV.
Kathleen Brady is the author of Lucille: The Life of Lucille Ball. She says the network that wanted Ball to star in her own sitcom was not interested in her husband.
While tying together all the stories for today's session of the Nose, I keep hearing (in my mind) Charlie Seen say, "Winning!" We have a lot of stories about how people who try to win, often by following the logic of a game out to its extremes.
He’s being called the “Jeopardy villain,” but Arthur Chu of Broadview Heights, Ohio, considers himself more of a “mad genius.” The 30-year-old insurance analyst and voiceover artist has won three times since he came on the show last week.
Some say Chu is taking all the fun out of the game. He goes for the hardest questions first, slams down his buzzer incessantly and tries to get the host to speed up. It’s all part of his strategy inspired by game theory — a model of strategic, mathematical decision making.
The Danish television series Borgen about a female party leader who unexpectedly becomes Denmark's prime minister was a hit in its home country and in the U.K. It won numerous international prizes, and a cult following in the U.S. after its sporadic TV broadcasts — Stephen King named it his favorite piece of pop culture of 2012. The third and final season has just been released on DVD by MHz Networks, which also brought out seasons one and two.
Today on the Nose, we'll discuss one of those eruptions that happen in the digital world -- a frenzy of discussion and expressions of outrage over an essay on the site xojane, by a writer who tried to describe her reactions, as a skinny white woman, to the way she thought a heavyset back woman was reacting to her in yoga class.
As part of a new series called "My Big Break," All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click and people leap forward into their careers.
For about a decade, Bobby Moynihan lived a double life. By day, Moynihan says, he tended bar at a Pizzeria Uno in New York. By night, he performed improv comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.
But he says he always had one dream: to join the cast of Saturday Night Live.
Let us say this first: The Golden Globes are Hollywood culture at its most purely self-perpetuating. Given out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a small group of journalists so gleefully obscure that there is usually a joke about how gleefully obscure they are, the Globes lack the gravitas of the Oscars, which is really saying something, given the fact that the Oscars lack the gravitas of the Tonys and the Tonys lack the gravitas of a halfway decent episode of Law & Order: SVU.
This week the long-running comedy show Saturday Night Livehired Sasheer Zamata as a new cast member. The show had come under criticism for its lack of diversity, especially its lack of black women; Zamata will be the show's first female African-American cast member in six years.
When you think about what Downton Abbey has achieved, and is continuing to pull off, it's actually pretty remarkable. In an era when the most acclaimed TV series of the decade is an edgy cable drama about a dying, meth-making criminal, Downton Abbey draws similarly large audiences on broadcast TV — public TV, at that — with an old-fashioned soap opera about servants and household staffers and those they serve. As Season 4 begins on PBS, Downton Abbey is the most popular drama in the history of public television.
Today's show originally aired December 18 and 21, 2013.
From Faith Middleton: Our Food Schmooze crew decided to throw a Downton Abbey dinner party on the air to celebrate the return of our beloved PBS series, season four. As you can see, we've provided you with all of our delicious recipes, in case you decide to have your own Downton Abbey feast.
Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 8:35 am
Are we witnessing the twilight of DVD and Blu-ray?
Kinda-sorta. With the emergence of various digital distributions systems — streaming and downloading through your laptop, your cable system, your game console — it's easy to see how these discs will be the next physical media formats to fade away. DVD and Blu-ray could well go the way of CDs and vinyl, becoming a niche boutique market for collectors.
Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 11:00 am
Here's why picking a Top 10 list of best TV shows has become such treacherous work for critics this year: Quite simply, 2013 was the year quality exploded in the television industry.
Thanks to the simultaneous maturing of Netflix, AMC, FX, HBO, Showtime, Amazon, BBC America, Sundance Channel, iTunes and many more media platforms, fans of great television had more options than ever to find high-quality product whenever and wherever they liked.
Kevin Spacey (left) and Robin Wright star in <em>House of Cards, </em>directed by David Fincher. The Netflix series, which follows a Machiavellian politician, is an adaptation of a BBC series of the same name. <a href="http://www.npr.org/2013/01/31/170465471/spacey-and-fincher-make-a-house-of-cards">Hear an interview with Spacey and Fincher</a>.
Credit Patrick Harbron / Netflix
Bryan Cranston (left) stars as chemistry teacher turned meth dealer Walter White, and Aaron Paul plays former student and drug-dealing co-conspirator Jesse Pinkman in AMC's <em>Breaking Bad</em>. <a href="http://www.npr.org/2013/10/03/228813142/breaking-bad-writers-this-is-it-theres-no-more">Hear an interview with the writers of <em>Breaking Bad</em></a><em>.</em>
Credit Ben Leuner / AMC
Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan portray pioneering sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson in the Showtime series <em>Masters of Sex,</em> based on a book by Thomas Maier. <a href="http://www.npr.org/2013/07/30/206704520/pioneering-masters-of-sex-brought-science-to-the-bedroom">Hear an interview with Maier</a>.
Credit Craig Blankenhorn / Showtime
Taylor Schilling plays Piper Chapman in Netflix's <em>Orange Is the New Black</em>, which is based on Piper Kerman's memoir of her year in prison. <a href="http://www.npr.org/2013/08/12/211339427/behind-the-new-black-the-real-pipers-prison-story">Hear an interview with Piper Kerman.</a>
Credit Jessica Miglio / Netflix
Bob Stookey (Larry Gilliard Jr.), Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan), Tyreese (Chad Coleman), Beth Greene (Emily Kinney), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) on AMC's <em>The Walking Dead</em>.
Credit Gene Page / AMC
Carrie Underwood played Maria in NBC's live production of <em>The Sound of Music</em>. "If you give people reasons to watch live TV, or TV at the same time, they still will," says Bianculli.
This was a good year for TV, says critic David Bianculli, and that had a lot to do with two new shows from Netflix: House of Cards, the American adaptation of the BBC political thriller series, and Orange Is the New Black, a dramatic comedy which takes place in a women's federal prison. "I was very impressed with the overall quality of what Netflix gave us," Bianculli tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "... That was quite a string of good shows."
So, without further ado, here's Bianculli's top-10 TV list for 2013:
From Faith Middleton: Our Food Schmooze crew decided to throw a Downton Abbey dinner party on the air to celebrate the return of our beloved PBS series, Season 4. As you can see, we've provided you with all of our delicious recipes, in case you decide to have your own Downton Abbey feast.
Across America, fans of the show are getting ready with celebratory foods ranging from a simple bowl of popcorn to dinners worthy of the royal family.
Why should sex feel bad? It shouldn't, and Bill Gates is offering $100,000 to the inventor of a condom that puts the pleasure back in sex. And, it isn't just about pleasure. Scientists at the University of Manchester's National Graphene Institute say a "redesigned condom that overcomes inconvenience, fumbling, or perceived loss of pleasure would be a powerful weapon in the fight against poverty."
Nothing's sacred in <em>We Are Miracles</em> — but then as Sarah Silverman <a href="http://www.npr.org/2010/12/31/132489395/sarah-silverman-playing-the-dummy-for-laughs">told Terry Gross in 2010</a>, "there's a safety in what I do because I'm always the idiot. ... I'm always the ignoramus no matter what I talk about or what tragic event, off-color, dark scenario is evoked in my material."
Sarah Silverman is funny — sweet, bawdy, innocent, outrageous, Emmy-winning, milk-through-your-nose funny. And her new comedy special, We are Miracles, debuts tonight on HBO.
Performing in front of a live audience, the comedian takes on religion, pornography, childhood, politics and stereotypes, and no one's left standing. (No really: One punchline involves Hitler being assigned "Heil Marys" as penance.)
Silverman tells NPR's Scott Simon that she thinks good comedy comes from "some kind of childhood humiliation or darkness."
Shonda Rhimes says the Washington she's created for the political drama Scandal is a dark, amoral one — and "a little Shakespearean," in the way it's a place where big themes play out among powerful people who aren't afraid to make bold moves.
"In the world of the show, [our] America sees Washington as this fairy-tale-beautiful place, and everybody who works there is really helping keep that illusion alive," the series creator tells Morning Edition's Renee Montagne.