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Web TV: The Scripted Shows of Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix

By on May 13, 2014 in Previews | 0 comments

With Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix establishing themselves as 21st-century television networks, a certain someone in my life thought it might be wise for me to make a guide to the programming available on those services. I’m only listing shows that are scripted, geared toward adults, presumably still in production, and produced (at least in part) by the service in question. (Hulu has a silly habit of labelling content produced by networks overseas as “Hulu Originals.”) AMAZON The After — A mysterious apocalypse unites eight strangers in this drama from X-Files mastermind Chris Carter. Starring Aldis Hodge, Andrew Howard, Arielle Kebbel, Jamie Kennedy, Sharon Lawrence, Sam Littlefield, Louise Monot, Jaina Lee Ortiz, and Adrian Pasdar. Alpha House — In this political satire from Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau, four senators share a house in Washington, D.C. Starring John...

Phil Robertson Is a Ducking Bigot

By on Mar 23, 2014 in Rants | 0 comments

I won’t mince my words: Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson is a bigot — a “forgiving” and “tolerant” one or not — and A&E is reprehensible for not taking his offenses more seriously and for kowtowing to its Phil-supporting viewership. I know this issue is months old at this point, but it seems to have washed out of the news cycle — and every day that Phil remains gainfully employed by A&E only adds to the injustice. Then again, Phil would likely surmise that I’m only commenting now because I’ve been too busy with acts of terror, hostility, and murder. Before continuing my “rage spiral,” I’ll back up and provide a little context. In an article published in the January 2014 issue of GQ, Phil defined sin: “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and...

Completion for completion’s sake totally sucks

By on Jun 16, 2013 in Inner Monologues, Rants | 0 comments

I have attachment issues — not with people, luckily, but with stories. I’m ashamed when I don’t make it to the last page or the final frame. But, in some cases, I stop right before the end and feel like I can’t proceed. Alex and I saw Cirque du Soleil’s Totem recently. No, I’m not citing it as an example — we loved every minute of it. Buoyed by its exuberance — and perhaps wanting to debunk what could only be described as theatrical and athletic magic — we started the Bravo series Cirque du Soleil: Fire Within, a documentary about the creation of Cirque’s Varekai. Surprisingly, the closer to opening night of Varekai the show’s chronology progressed, the less engaging the show became. Is it because we already know — as viewers in 2002 perhaps did not — that the production of Varekai was a rousing success? Is it because we were seeing the...

The Amazing Race: An amazingly nice finish

By on Dec 13, 2012 in Recaps | 0 comments

The season finale of The Amazing Race aired Sunday night, and Alex and I were riveted. We were rooting for Josh and Brent — partners, goat farmers, and subjects of the lifestyle show The Fabulous Beekman Boys — not just because they’re gay (though that’s a plus) but because they’re kind, moral people. That said, there wasn’t anyone in the final four teams whom we disliked: Chippendales James and Jaymes were charming and, bleach job aside, good-looking; twins Natalie and Nadiya were always good for a laugh; and Troy and Lexi were milquetoast and innocuous. But that changed in the first hour of the two-part finale. The latter three teams formed “the Dream Team” — an alliance against Josh and Brent. That alliance was mean, first of all — because the Beekman Boys had never done anything cutthroat or unsportsmanlike — and also fairly foolish — because, as...

TVs improbable seventh-inning stretches

By on Oct 13, 2012 in Raves | 0 comments

Seven seasons is an awfully long run for any TV drama, particularly a serialized one. Procedural shows like CSI and Law & Order shows have the privilege of a different storyline every episode, and even semi-procedural shows like Fringe aren’t required to serve an overarching narrative with every episode. The TV graveyard is littered with the corpses of series that exhausted their creativity before their episode order. One recent example of such a show on the comedy front is The Office: the producers and NBC announced that Season 9 would be the final season, but that decision came after we slogged through disappointing Seasons 6, 7, and 8. Some showrunners do the dignified thing and set a definite and unyielding end date for their series, like the masterminds behind Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Breaking Bad, and even the British Office. I can’t speak highly enough of this practice:...

Revenge: A series best served cold

By on Aug 5, 2012 in Raves | 0 comments

I shouldn’t have found Revenge enjoyable. It’s clichéd, it’s soapy, and its characters are not exactly diverse. And Revenge shouldn’t have been successful. It’s a complicated, heavily-serialized drama; and there are hardly any cops, doctors, or lawyers in sight. But if there’s one thing television has taught me, it’s that expectations and preconceptions mean squat. The story tracks the vengeance taken by Emily Thorne, (née Amanda Clark), whose father, David, was scapegoated for a terrorist-related money-laundering act by the wealthy Grayson family and later killed in prison. Years later, during her teen delinquent years, Emily learns of the framing and the coverup and enlists a Japanese sensei to show her the ways of revenge and uses the resources of a wealthy billionaire named Nolan (a former cohort of her father). After years of plotting, she...