Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 12:48 pm
When I saw the first episode of BBC America's Orphan Black last year, I was convinced it was a crappy Canadian police drama.
That's because the set-up seemed like the oddest sort of crime procedural nonsense. A street urchin-style grifter sees a middle class woman who looks just like her leap in front of a commuter train, nabs her purse and climbs into her life – only to find her doppelganger is a troubled police officer with problems of her own.
Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 7:07 pm
The Ken Burns documentary The Address, premiering on most PBS stations Tuesday night, opens at the Greenwood School in Vermont, where students are being introduced to a longstanding tradition: studying the Gettysburg Address until they can recite it from memory in front of a large audience of students, staff and parents. If they succeed, they receive a special commemorative coin that is only given for this achievement. A first, second and third prize will be awarded — one for middle school, one for high school — for these performances.
Our SuperGuest on today's Scramble is Jen Doll, who has three topics that she wants to discuss:
The first is the return of Mad Men, a show in its final season and perhaps more than any other TV show, a driver of the phenomenon that utilizes the talents of many, many cultural commentators to analyze and debate the underlying themes in each episode. If you visited a site like Slate or Salon on certain Monday mornings, you might make the mistake of thinking this was a publication mainly, or entirely about, Mad Men.
This review discusses the plotline of Mad Men, up through the end of Season 6.
Matthew Weiner's Mad Men begins its seventh season Sunday on AMC. Every season, as this outstanding period drama has made its way through the 1960s, Weiner has been increasingly insistent about the things he doesn't want critics to reveal in advance. This year, that confidentiality wish list is almost laughably long, and includes not only the year in which the story resumes, but also specifics about certain relationships — both professional and personal.
Scientists say the papyrus that mentions a wife of Jesus is not a forgery. Stephen Colbert will take over when Letterman leaves. I'm not saying the two things are connected, but maybe our weekly culture roundtable The Nose will find a common thread.
It might seem like a small thing - the departure of Stephen Colbert from his late night role in which he depicts a strutting, preening, right-wing media star. In the last analysis, who cares who takes over the Letterman show?
Today on the Scramble, we get to spend some time with Frank Rich. Frank wears a lot of hats these days as both editor-at-large at New York Magazine and Executive Producer of VEEP on HBO. We're going to chat with him in both capacities and there is an interesting bridge between the two realms.
Originally published on Sun March 30, 2014 9:15 am
Doctors say children shouldn't log more than two hours a day of screen time, though what with phones, computers and TV most children put in much more.
But it may be that not all screens are equally evil.
Researchers from the University of Michigan found that sixth-graders who watched a lot of TV were more likely to eat junk food and drink soda than their peers who spent the same amount of time on the computer or playing video games, researchers from the University of Michigan say.
Call and tell us what you're watching on TV and at the movies.
Resurrection is a new TV series with enough highway billboard promotion to fund several small countries. (Dead people are returned to their stunned families and friends.) Veep starts on HBO, taking aim at ego-oriented politics in Washington. True Detective just ended, though it can be seen on HBO Go or On Demand. (Great moody acting, but not for the squeamish. The finale episode is a little cheap in the exploitation department. Still, it was irresistible.)
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.