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post #95431 of 95443 Old Yesterday, 10:39 PM
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TV Review
Syfy’s ‘The Almighty Johnsons’
By Brian Lowry, Variety.com - Jul. 10, 2014

Occasionally, a lack of resources breeds ingenuity, and so it is with “The Almighty Johnsons,” a Syfy import from New Zealand. The out-there premise — four brothers, each of whom, upon his 21st birthday, acquires the powers of a different Norse god — yields fewer pyrotechnics than one might expect, but creates intriguing discussion about the show’s peculiar backstory. Decidedly different content standards between American and Kiwi censors (there’s some obscured nudity and a lot of bleeped-out expletives) creates a bit of awkwardness, but here, that’s a quibble. While it’s popular for series to talk about their mythology, not many revel in the process with quite as much gusto as this one.

The introduction to this Asgardian birthright comes through Axl (Emmett Couling Skilton), who is just celebrating his 21st birthday. In the midst of his party, however, he’s dragged away from the friend who constantly looks longingly at him (“Whale Rider’s” Keisha Castle-Hughes, all grown up) by his three brothers, who fill in the disbelieving lad on the family legacy.

Not only do they each have unusual powers — diminished, admittedly, from what they once were — but Axl might be the reincarnation of Odin, which has enormous consequences. Simply put, he can either unite the gods and restore them to their lost glory, or, if he fails to achieve his destiny, lead to all of their deaths.

Written by James Griffin and directed by Mark Beesley, “Almighty Johnsons” contains only the smallest dollops of special effects, as the premiere relies on the characters talking about what might happen. Indeed, big brother Mike (Tim Balme) helps convince Axl — skeptical at first, but increasingly excited at the possibilities — by playing rock-paper-scissors, which, thanks to his god-like powers, he never loses. It’s about as low-tech a demonstration of magic as one could conceive.

And yet, it’s all strangely compelling and fun, if still a little half-baked, including what’s motivating the rival group apparently determined to prevent Axl from completing his mission by trying to kill the poor kid off.

Syfy has built international acquisitions of programs that fit its brand into the network’s programming — much of it from Canada, such as “Lost Girl” and “Continuum” — with mixed results.

By that measure, this Kiwi extract is certainly a cut above. And while the feeling isn’t quite like being struck by Thor’s proverbial thunderbolt, for a hardy few who don’t mind their gods in street clothes, it will be easy to develop a pretty sizable crush on “The Almighty Johnsons.”

Syfy's 'The Almighty Johnsons'
(Syfy, Fri. July 11, 10 p.m.)


http://variety.com/2014/tv/reviews/t...ns-1201259342/
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post #95432 of 95443 Old Yesterday, 10:45 PM
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Summer TCA Tour Notes
‘Naked and Afraid’ stars discuss surviving the wilderness in the nude: ‘The naked part just adds to the challenge’
By David Hinckley, New York Daily News - Jul. 9, 2014

BEVERLY HILLS -- Several survivors of Discovery’s hit reality show “Naked and Afraid” insisted to TV critics at the TCA Press Tour Wednesday that “naked” is the least significant part of the experience.

“You’re not thinking about being naked, you’re thinking about surviving,” said Jeff Zausch.

“Clothing offers protection, like from bugs,” said Dani Julien. “The naked part just adds to the challenge.”

The premise of the show is that a man and a woman – strangers – are sent into a wilderness environment with no food or water and must survive for 21 days.

It was Discovery’s all-time highest rated premiere when it launched last season, with four million viewers.

“The first half hour, when you meet, is as awkward as it looks,” said Zausch. “But you forget about the naked part pretty quickly.”

Executive producer Steve Rankin said stripping the contestants of their clothes does have a psychological impact.

“It adds to the vulnerability,” he said.

The producers pixilate frontal nudity for the contestants, a process Rankin said is handled by six graphic designers “who go frame by frame.”

He joked that some male contestants “want us to make them a bigger blur.”

The contestants said that while they were all experienced survivalists, they also did some preparation for the show.

“But no, you don’t walk around naked,” said Justin Bullard. “That just adds to the degree of difficulty when you get there.”

Julien said she walked barefoot for a month to get her feet in shape. She also said that unlike most TV performers who try to lose weight when they know their body will be exposed on camera, “I gained about 10 pounds to store more protein.”

Contestant Eva Rupert said that the nudity and the rest were entirely incidental.

“Being on this show was a life-changing experience,” she said. “Being naked was just one more way it brought you down to the core of your existence.

“It was an opportunity to grow as a person. It was an honor to be on the show.”

When the contestants were asked “what was the most messed-up thing you did in the wilderness,” Rupert said, “Nothing was messed up, really. It was all about what you had to do to survive.”

Zausch said “biting the head off a lizard” was “something I didn’t expect I’d be doing.”

Contestants don’t win a prize for surviving, but they do get paid for their filming time. The show has been shot in places such as Madagascar and Namibia.

The Discovery series' success has spawned other “naked” shows, including VH1’s upcoming naked dating show. The producers of “Naked and Afraid” downplayed any sense they had pushed an envelope or helped launch a trend.

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertain...icle-1.1861011
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post #95433 of 95443 Old Yesterday, 10:51 PM
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Summer TCA Tour Notes
New season of 'Masters of Sex' turns up the angst
By Ann Oldenburg, USA Today - Jul. 10, 2014

When last we saw sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, they were

sharing a moment straight out of a romantic comedy: It was raining. Bill had just arrived at Virginia's place. She opened the door. And he declared he couldn't live without her.

It was a sweet

ending for Season 1 of the Showtime drama.

So Season 2 (Sunday, 10 p.m. ET/PT) kicks off with Masters and Johnson happily in love with each other?

"Hardly," says executive producer Michelle Ashford. While much is known about the real-life careers and events in the lives of Masters and Johnson, Ashford says the series is creating much of the emotion and chemistry that sizzled — and fizzled — between the two.

"One thing we know for sure: They didn't spend a ton of time in any kind of romantic, blissful state," says Ashford. "They were a very curious couple. It becomes clear that they were never in the same spot emotionally at the same time. If one had just said, 'I love you and you love me; let's go forward happily,' the story would have been very different. They were very complicated."

One fallout of the complicated couple is that this season, which features new stars including Sarah Silverman, Courtney B. Vance, Keke Palmer and Danny Huston, might offer less sex.

Less sex?

"Someone on our crew said, 'I think there is less sex this year,'" says Ashford, who concedes the crew would know since "they have to stand all day and watch it."

Michael Sheen, who plays Bill Masters, says, "From my point of view, we see more. We certainly start to have more focus on what's happening between him and Virginia."

LIzzy Caplan, who plays Virginia Johnson, says it was easier to get into the "mind-set" of her character with a season under her belt, so to speak.

In "Season 1 we were figuring out who these people were, who we wanted them to be on-screen. Second season, even though there was almost a year between, it was easier to switch back into that mode."

But getting naked is never a breeze. "I feel as comfortable as a person can feel doing something so strange," says the actress. "There was only one moment this season where I was in my trailer thinking, 'I just don't want to do this. I want to run away.' It wasn't like I was hanging upside down from the ceiling. It was just fear. And I know I have to do it, and it's the safest possible environment. I let it pass and got it done."

Because Masters was kicked out of his hospital in the first season, his career is in flux, and that also affects their relationship, as she relies on being part of his work.

"Things get rough for Virginia," says Caplan. "The relationship between Bill and Virginia gets a whole lot darker. These are two people who really get to know the depths of each other in ways that nobody knows. He shares with Virginia stuff nobody has ever heard come out of his mouth before. They come tangled up with each other, and sometimes it's lovely and sometimes it's not."

While Masters is finding his way in the professional world, single mom Johnson has to bide her time. "She's a survivor, a bit of a cockroach, if you will," says Caplan. "Virginia is always setting up backup plans for herself." Some of those plans revolve around the story line between cancer-stricken Dr. Lillian DePaul (Julianne Nicholson). "It gets brutal," says Caplan, adding that those scenes are some of her favorites this season in a job she loves.

"I'm beyond happy," she says. "Happy doesn't even begin to describe it. I recognize daily how lucky I am that I'm a comedy actress that got a shot at a real dramatic role on a show that's rich and complex. The pinch-me moment has yet to wear off."

And maybe it won't for many years.

Season 2 covers 1958 into 1961, the beginnings of the sexual revolution. Masters and Johnson didn't marry until 1971. "Our show is going to change a lot every year," says Ashford. "It's because their lives changed very radically."

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/t...heen/12384237/
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Summer TCA Tour Notes
Dave Grohl Talks ‘Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways’ HBO Docuseries
By The Deadline.com Team - Jul. 10, 2014

Dave Grohl was TCA’s only one-person panel today as he took the stage to talk about his eight-part documentary series following himself and his band Foo Fighters as they record their 8th album in 8 different American cities. Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways debuts on HBO in October and the as-yet-untitled album will be released in November.

Grohl — also director of the feature film doc Sound City — said the idea for the series (coming on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the band) came to him when the last Foo Fighters record was being made in his garage. “I thought maybe we should do a documentary about the band, about the last 14, 15 years, that would explain why we were making a record in my garage,” he said.

He added, that while working on Sound City he learned that fusing music and documentary together could reach a whole new audience. “Music can seem a little one dimensional…but when you get a little deeper into the artist or the song, it creates this emotional connection,” he said.

Grohl spoke passionately about how isolated American cities and their modest recording studios played a role in developing an authentic, culture-based sound. “These studios, they are churches, monuments, history has been made in these shitholes all over the country,” he said.

Grohl took a good natured swipe at TV’s many music competition shows. Making music, he said, should not be about standing in a line-up to “have a bazillionaire tell you that you are a bad singer. Don’t get me started…” he joked.

http://www.deadline.com/2014/07/dave...ocuseries-tca/

* * * *

Summer TCA Tour Notes
HBO Reveals Details Of Mike Nichols/Meryl Streep ‘Master Class’, Queen Latifah ‘Bessie’ Project, Launch Date For ‘Boardwalk Empire’ Final Season

HBO parsed out some details on Mike Nichols directing of Meryl Streep in the network’s adaptation of Master Class, Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning play about Maria Callas. The project is a reteaming of Nichols and Streep, who worked together on the premium channel’s Angels In America nearly a decade ago. Master Class begins production in early ’15, depicting the master classes the operatic great gave to hand-picked students at the Juilliard School in the early 1970s.

During its day at the TCA Summer Press Tour, the network also reiterated that Queen Latifah will star in and exec produce HBO Films’ Bessie, about blues singer Bessie Smith, written and directed by Dee Rees, with shooting in Atlanta, debuting next year; Michael K, Williams, Khandi Alexander, Mike Epps, Tika Sumpter, Tory Kittles, Oliver Platt, Bryan Greenberg, Charles Dutton and Mo’Nique co-star. The project focuses on Smith’s growth from struggling young singer into “Empress of the Blues” and one of the most successful recording artists of the 1920s.

Boardwalk Empire’s eight-episode fifth and final season launches September 7, HBO said today. While the first four seasons of the series from Terence Winter and director Martin Scorsese were set during Prohibition in the ’20s, when Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) was the undisputed leader of Atlantic City, the fifth season is set in the depths of the Depression in 1931, with Nucky plotting a post-Prohibition future.

Jonah From Tonga, a new comedy series from Chris Lilley, debuts August 8. It centers on Jonah Takulau, whose father banishes him to the island of Tongapatu when he’s expelled from Summer Heights High, in order to spend time with his extended family and get his life back together.

The pay cable network, which recently announced a Monday night documentary block, confirmed its docu lineup for the second half of 2014. Among the new films to debut in the weekly slot are Kate Davis and David Heilbroner’s The Newburgh Sting (July 21), an inside look at the rarely told story of the FBI’s involvement in a homegrown terror case; Nixon By Nixon: In His Own Words (August 4), exploring Nixon through thousands of hours of recently declassified audiotapes recorded in the White House, with Peter Kunhardt directing; and Jeremiah Zagar’s Captivated: The Trials Of Pamela Smart (August 18), looking at the 1990 trial of the 21-year-old woman accused of plotting her husband’s murder, which was the first trial televised gavel-to-gavel. Steve Buscemi’s A Good Job: Stories Of The FDNY (Sept. 8) details life working for the New York City Fire Department; Hunted: The War Against Gays In Russia (October), is the story of a group of citizens who attack and torment gay men and women in that country; directed by Ben Steele. And Nancy Kates directed Regarding Susan Sontag (December), which profiles the life of the literary, political and feminist icon through archival materials and accounts from friends, family, colleagues and lovers, as well as her own words, as read by Patricia Clarkson.

http://www.deadline.com/2014/07/tca-...-final-season/
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Critic's Notes
False Starts Before Cable’s Golden Age
By Mike Hale, The New York Times - Jul. 10, 2014

In the golden age of the high-class cable drama, it’s easy to forget that no cable channel started its life with such fare. HBO and Showtime? Movies. AMC? Old movies. USA? Sports. ABC Family? Pat Robertson.

But over the years, these channels, and many others that began with just baseball games, infomercials, talk shows or network reruns, have found the new religion of original scripted dramas and comedies. It’s a trend that shows no signs of stopping. On Wednesday, WE begins its first scripted series, “The Divide,” a legal drama. Bravo, once an arts and film channel and more recently home of the “Housewives” franchise, is in production on its first scripted series, Marti Noxon’s “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce.”

With shows like “Breaking Bad,” “Game of Thrones,” “Masters of Sex” and “Louie” now defining excellence in prime time, let’s take a look at back at where some of today’s top cable channels got their start in the scripted-series business. It wasn’t always Emmy nominations and Top 10 lists. (A few of these shows, including “Faerie Tale Theatre” and “Hey Dude,” are available from major streaming-video services. Episodes of nearly all of them can be found on YouTube.)

Showtime, ‘Faerie Tale Theatre’ (1982-87)

Long before “Masters of Sex” (or “Gigolos”), the actress Shelley Duvall, fresh off “The Shining,” hosted, produced and occasionally starred in this great-looking, ambitious series of fairy-tale adaptations. The first episode featured Robin Williams as the Frog Prince and was written and directed by Eric Idle; later episodes included Francis Ford Coppola’s “Rip Van Winkle” starring Harry Dean Stanton and Roger Vadim’s “Beauty and the Beast” with Susan Sarandon.

HBO, ‘The Hitchhiker’ (1983-87)

“Fraggle Rock” began the same year, but we’ll give the nod to this noirish half-hour mystery anthology. The Hitchhiker (played for most of the show’s run by Page Fletcher), a self-righteous noodge in a weather-beaten jacket, narrates tales of moral perfidy with supernatural twists and tasteful nudity. Maybe things haven’t changed that much at HBO in 30 years.

USA, ‘Sanchez of Bel Air’ (1986)

“Monk,” beginning in 2002, set the pattern for USA’s current lineup of lightweight, amusing dramas. But the channel’s first scripted effort was this Hispanic family comedy starring Reni Santoni and, as the neighbor, the onetime pop idol Bobby Sherman. A promo clip on YouTube indicates why you’ve never heard of the show: “Look at the bright side. Your son isn’t gay, and your daughter’s not pregnant.” Pause. “At least not yet.”

Lifetime, ‘The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd’ (1989-91)

Jay Tarses’ show was ahead of its time in many ways — a single-camera sitcom without a laugh track, a forerunner of legions of romantic dramedies. It could set your teeth on edge with its forced whimsicality at the same time that it provided long stretches of sharp, funny writing and excellent performances by Blair Brown as Molly, a divorced woman trying to make ends meet in New York, and David Strathairn as Moss, the shy bookstore owner who gave her a job and became her lover. NBC gave it two partial seasons before canceling it; Lifetime picked it up in one of the first instances of a cable channel rescuing a network show.

Nickelodeon, ‘Hey Dude’ (1989-91)

Technically, the first Nickelodeon scripted original (in a schedule dominated by children’s variety shows) was “Out of Control” in 1984, but that was sketch comedy. This sitcom western set on an Arizona dude ranch was the channel’s first scripted narrative show, and set a durable pattern — cute teenagers taking pratfalls and learning life lessons — for the channel’s live-action programming. TeenNick will recognize the 25th anniversary of “Hey Dude” with a marathon on Monday.

MTV, ‘Dead at 21’ (1994)

This early move away from music videos (the channel’s logo still read “Music Television”) was a paranoid science-fiction thriller with psychedelic touches. The premise — that the 20-year-old main character had been subjected to a high-tech medical experiment that would kill him when he reached 21 — anticipated cyber-dramas like “Jake 2.0” and “Chuck” and may have been a perfect expression of the young-adult narcissism that has been the channel’s stock in trade. (Of course, the reality series “The Real World” had established that even earlier, in 1992.)

AMC, ‘Remember WENN’ (1996-98)

More than a decade before “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” made AMC cable drama’s heavyweight champion, the channel carried this much — much — lighter drama about the glory days of live radio (though darkness occasionally crept in, courtesy of World War II). Heavily nostalgic with a redeeming dose of astringency, it presented the lives and loves of a Pittsburgh station’s staff in the melodramatic and farcical styles of the programs we saw them producing.

Syfy, ‘Mission Genesis’ (1997)

Six clones, made from the cells of exceptionally accomplished people, are sent into space to reboot the human race on a new planet. Based on the “Deepwater Black” young-adult novels, this was the first scripted series for what was then the Sci-Fi Channel. Syfy would hit its heyday in the next decade with another space opera, “Battlestar Galactica,” but the channel has become more earthbound since then — none of its current dramas take place off the planet.

TNT, ‘The New Adventures of Robin Hood’ (1997-98)

This blissfully low-rent, amateurishly acted series, filmed in Lithuania, told new stories featuring a Robin and Marian with impressively styled and blow-dried hair. TNT continued in the fantasy-action genre with the better-known “Babylon 5” the next year, but now focuses on crime and legal dramas. The adolescent’s-adventure spirit of “Robin” continues, though, in the channel’s outlier series, the postapocalyptic war story “Falling Skies.”

FX, ‘Son of the Beach’ (2000-2)

Remember when FX was mostly a bunch of young people sitting in a room in the Flatiron district talking about pets or music or the news of the day? Oddly, it didn’t last. Beginning in 2002 with “The Shield,” the channel would become one of cable’s strongest, most interesting sources of drama and comedy. But before that came this sitcom, a broad satire of buoy-and-bikini beach-rescue shows.

ABC Family, ‘Wildfire’ (2005-8)

In the channel’s corporate history, which stretches back to Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, there had been earlier scripted shows, like “State of Grace” under the Fox Family label. But its modern era begins with this teenage drama about a troubled girl whose life is changed by a stint at a horse ranch. In the channel’s current roster, the earnestness of “Wildfire” is reflected in a show like “The Fosters” but not so much in its biggest hit, the dark soap opera “Pretty Little Liars.”

TBS, ‘10 Items or Less’ (2006-9)

We’re fudging a little here — in its TBS superstation days, when it was known for reruns, movies and Atlanta Braves games, the channel had some original nighttime soap operas. But on TBS proper, the first scripted show was this downsizing comedy about a family grocery store. Another comedy, “My Boys,” began the next night, and TBS has kept its focus on original sitcoms.

WE, ‘The Divide’ (2014)

WE began life 17 years ago as Romance Classics, a movie channel, before being re-branded as WE: Women’s Entertainment and then just WE. Before now, it has spent its money on reality shows aimed at women like “Bridezillas” and “Braxton Family Values.” A desire to draw in more men may have something to do with the channel’s surprisingly high-profile foray into scripted drama, which was created by the screenwriter Richard LaGravenese (“Behind the Candelabra”) and the actor and director Tony Goldwyn (“Scandal”). Marin Ireland plays a caseworker for an Innocence Project-like organization investigating whether a death-row prisoner was wrongfully convicted.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/ar...ref=television
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Originally Posted by aaronwt View Post
Then for not being a comedy I typically laugh alot during the episodes.
Surprisingly, I do too, Aaron. Based on comments here, I was all set to turn it off after a few minutes, but I don't see any reason for the disdain shown here. True, it's not close to reality, but I like the main characters together. I won't miss it when it gets cancelled, but I think it's a bit of fun to watch for a summer series.

Cheers, Dave
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Or why 'Fargo' is a "miniseries", but 'True Detective' is a series.

Yep, it's even more of a mess than usual.
True Detective may be rotating the players and decade but the storyline is still continuous and being told over several seasons.

Fargo was one story with a set of specific characters and done.

Plans for a possible season two are most likely going to involve different, unconnected stories and characters. Hawley said it would be silly to have the same amount of weird stuff happen to the same people in the same place. So as long as the show doesn't revisit the same characters and stories and since the nominations are announced before any real plans for a season two, then the first season exists on it's own as a miniseries.


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True Detective may be rotating the players and decade but the storyline is still continuous and being told over several seasons.
That's not as I understand it. That story, down in the bayou, is finished and they'll start over someplace else next season with new actors and a new location. Is that not the case?

Apparently, the reason those two shows were nominated in different categories in spite of being structurally similar is that the creator of TD got a type of credit that forced it into the "series" category.
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TV Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Jul. 11, 2014

THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL
Netflix, 3:00 a.m. ET

This new Netflix documentary – another move forward into HBO-type programming territory, with its first nonfiction effort – is a family affair all the way but a good one. The subject of The Battered Bastards of Baseball is a 1970s Class A baseball club called the Portland Mavericks – at the time they played, the only independent minor-league outfit not affiliated with a major league team. Instead of a farm team for the bigs, the Mavericks were an unruly bunch of mostly overage dreamers, castoffs and rebels (the movie’s title comes from a team description by its most famous player, former major league pitcher Jim Bouton, whose tell-all book Ball Four told enough to make the Mavericks the only team that would take him, at least for a while). The story of this team is worth telling because of how they played on the field, how competitors played against them, and what the team meant to the city, its players, and especially its owner, former actor Bing Russell. Bing’s much more famous Hollywood movie-star son, Kurt, is one of the people telling his dad’s story on camera – and the brothers telling the story behind the camera, as directors, are Maclain and Chapman Way, Bing Russell’s grandsons. Telling you why this documentary is so satisfying would ruin too many of the surprises – but do check out this very affectionate and entertaining tale of the best-named club in baseball – true Mavericks, who, according to one proud player, “led the league in stubble.” Available any time.

MOYERS & COMPANY
Public Television, Check Local Listings

The session of the U.S. Supreme Court that just ended wrapped up its latest round of rulings by making some important rulings on telecommunications, campaign finance reform, birth control and other hugely significant topics. Two-thirds of the Court’s rulings were unanimous, the first time that’s happened since the 1950s. What’s going on, and why? On this weekend’s new edition, Bill Moyers interviews two veteran Supreme Court watchers: Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times and Daliah Lithwick, a senior editor and columnist at Slate. For dates and times when this series runs in your area, check the Moyers & Company website.

FROZEN
Starz!, 8:00 p.m. ET

This 2013 Disney film now ranks as the world’s top-grossing animated movie of all time, and its soundtrack is, by far, the biggest-selling U.S. album of 2014. “Let It Go,” the anthemic power ballad driving much of this success, won the Oscar for Best Original Song – and tonight, Frozen premieres on Starz. Kristen Bell provides the speaking and singing voice of Anna, and Anna’s older sister, Elsa, the one who gets to sing “Let It Go,” is played by the wickedly talented, one and only Adele Dazeem. Well, that’s according to John Travolta, anyway. Actually, Elsa is played by Broadway star Idina Menzel, formerly the star of Wicked. That musical captured the imagination of a new generation of Broadway theatergoers – but Frozen captured just about an entire new generation, period. Tune in and see, and hear, why.

PATHS OF GLORY
TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Stanley Kubrick directed and co-wrote this intense, disturbing 1957 movie about soldiers who defy what seem to be recklessly risky orders in World War I, and are targeted for their actions. Kirk Douglas stars, and the actor was so impressed with Kubrick’s handling of this film that Douglas called in Kubrick to direct Spartacus three years later. This is less of a war film than an early anti-war film, and is all the stronger for it. And it’s followed, at 9:45 p.m. ET, by one of the earliest and best anti-war war movies ever made (also about WWI), 1930’s All Quiet on the Western Front.

CASTLE
TNT, 8:00 p.m. ET

Orange Is the New Black fans, take note: This 2011 outing of Castle features a very smart, pre-Orange turn by Laura Prepon, who guest stars as an actress named Natalie Rhodes. She shows up at the precinct to research a movie role – just as author Rick Castle (series star Nathan Fillion) did when he first met up with Det. Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) in the series pilot. But now, Natalie is there to research the role of Nikki Heat, the heroine of Castle's successful cop novel – and a character based on Beckett. So Natalie is shadowing Beckett, and absorbing more of her mannerisms, and looks, every time she shows up. It’s a cleverly written hour, and a very playfully performed one, especially by Katic and Prepon.


http://www.tvworthwatching.com/

* * * *

Emmy/Critic's Notes
66th Primetime Emmy Noms A Mishmash of Delivery and Categories
By Ed Bark, TVWorthWatching.com - Jul. 10, 2014

BEVERLY HILLS, CA -- Do you pay an extra premium for HBO? Is a Netflix subscription part of your monthly charge card bill? Do you even have cable -- or a satellite dish -- at your disposal?

If not, the top vote getters in television's four showcase competition categories have all managed to elude you. The 66th Primetime Emmy Award nominations, announced Thursday during the early stages of summer's Television Critics Association "press tour," were a bigger mishmash than ever of delivery systems and ill-fitting categories.

HBO, as usual, had the most nominations (99 this time). Its Game of Thrones led all drama series contenders with 19 nods, while The Normal Heart topped the made-for-TV movie field with 16.

FX claimed the most-lauded miniseries with Fargo, which notched 18 nominations. And Netflix's Orange is the New Black (right) outpaced all comedy series contenders with 12 nominations -- even though the hour-long "broadband" series is really no more a comedy than HBO's prison-set Oz was. Well, maybe a bit more of one.

Netflix's 31 nominations, more than double the 14 it had last year, ranked a heady seventh on Emmy's list of top performers. It has more contenders than Fox, AMC, Showtime or the Sundance Channel and is in the vicinity of both PBS (with 34) and ABC (37).

The conventional broadcast networks were led by CBS' 47 nominations, just one ahead of NBC. But CBS was a no-show on Emmy's elite list of programs with 10 or more nominations in major categories. And NBC's Emmy hopes hinge primarily on two series with double-digit nominations but little oomph on the big awards night. Saturday Night Live topped all "Variety Program" nominees with 14 while The Voice had 10 nods to lead the still relatively new "Outstanding Reality-Competition Program" category.

The Peacock had high hopes that its first-year success story, The Blacklist, would break through in a big way among the drama series contenders. But it had just one nomination, for "Outstanding Stunt Coordination." FX scored big with both Fargo and American Horror Story: Coven, which had 17 nominations. But the network's The Americans again was all but ignored, receiving a lone nomination for Margo Martindale's "guest actress" performance as the Communist agent, Claudia.

Perhaps The Blacklist and The Americans both should have entered what's now become the fraudulent "Outstanding Miniseries" category. That's how American Horror Story, HBO's Treme and BBC America's Luther got nominated, even though all three dramas have had multiple seasons on the air. It's also how Fargo avoided a direct collision with HBO's True Detective, which entered in the "Drama Series" category despite being no different than Fargo in its intention to introduce new characters and murder cases in its second season.

The "Best Drama Series" field still has a lot of juice, with True Detective going against Breaking Bad's last season in addition to fellow contenders Mad Men, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones and House of Cards.

The "Best Comedy Series" finalists are also an interesting group, with ABC's Modern Family again trying to defend its title against The Big Bang Theory, Louie, Silicon Valley, Veep and the pretender in the field, Orange is the New Black.

The showcase competition, though, may be in the "Lead Actor in a Drama Series" category, where Matthew McConaughey (top) seeks to follow up his Oscar win for Dallas Buyers Club with an Emmy for the role of detective Rust Cohle in True Detective. But can he topple Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad? McConaughey's True Detective co-star, Woody Harrelson, perennial nominee Jon Hamm of Mad Men, Kevin Spacey from House of Cards and the surprise in this category, Jeff Daniels of HBO's The Newsroom, round out the field.

This field would have been even spicier with Billy Bob Thornton in the mix. But his malevolent Lorne Malvo of Fargo instead is in the "Lead Actor In a Miniseries or A Movie" fold, where his main competition could be co-star Martin Freeman (with Thornton, left) or Benedict Cumberbatch from PBS's Sherlock Holmes movies.

The "Lead Actress in a Drama Series" category includes first-time nominee Lizzy Caplan for her role as sex researcher Virginia Johnson in Showtime's Masters of Sex, which will begin its second season on Sunday, July 13. But the favorite might very well be Kerry Washington of ABC's Scandal.

Whatever happens on the big night -- Aug. 25th on NBC -- the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences must do a better job of policing its categories. And as "broadband" providers such as Netflix continue to multiply, it also might be nearing the time to split the Emmys into separate divisions.

The sheer amount of quality programming has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years. That's a good thing. The problem now is how to deal with all the traffic jams without turning some of the categories into free-for-all farces.

A complete list of Emmy nominees are here.

http://www.tvworthwatching.com/BlogP...px?postId=7745
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TV Notes
Best tube bets this weekend
The top draws on broadcast and cable and in sports
By Louisa Ada Seltzer, Media Life Magazine - Jul. 11, 2013

FRIDAY

Best bet on broadcast
: NBC, “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” 11:35 p.m.
Live Schreiber, Rob Reiner and Gabriel Iglesias all guest.

Best bet on cable: Disney Channel, “Girl Meets World” 8:30 p.m. After a week off following its premiere, the new comedy returns to its regular timeslot.

Top sporting event: NBCSN, “Tour de France,” 8 a.m. Live coverage of the seventh stage, which goes from Épernay to Nancy.

SATURDAY

Best bet on broadcast
: CBS, “Bad Teacher,” 8:30 p.m.
Meredith tries to fix the school science fair after she enters a secret betting pool.

Best bet on cable: Animal Planet, “Bad Dog!,” 8 p.m. Season premiere. Videos include a dog that keeps escaping the backyard, and another that terrorizes a kitchen counter.

Top sporting event: ESPN, Univision, “Soccer,” 3:30 p.m. The World Cup third-place game between Brazil and the Netherlands.

SUNDAY

Best bet on broadcast
: ABC, “Rising Star,” 9 p.m.
The reality competition’s duels round begins.

Best bet on cable: FX, “The Strain,” 10 p.m. Series premiere. New drama opens with a mysterious virus related to vampires spreading through New York City.

Top sporting event: ABC, Univision, “Soccer,” 2 p.m. Germany takes on Argentina in the World Cup final for the third time (1986 and 1990).


http://www.medialifemagazine.com/bes...ts-weekend-40/
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TV Review
The Strain: Contagion of Evil
Its visual terrrors are nothing compared to the story's complexity and ambition.
By Dorothy Rabinowitz, Wall Street Journal - Jul. 11, 2013

Nobody repelled by the graphic ads for "The Strain"—there have been complaints—has cause to worry about worse to come. Once this thriller establishes itself as the complex and ambitious enterprise it is, the visual terrors, of which there are plenty, come to feel distinctly minor. That isn't to say that the special effects aren't dazzling in their grim way. What happens to the bodies and minds of those humans in the series who are afflicted by a strange biological entity that has rooted itself inside them becomes clear at first only in flashes that are all the more chilling for their brevity. But there is, surrounding the drama of these victims, another one: that of a mysterious circle of conspirators and their enablers—officials and workers who by ignoring strict security rules, accepting a little bribe money, have unknowingly made it possible to transport and spread the deadly elements into the country.

The consequences reveal themselves slowly as the story begins with an international airliner arriving at JFK Airport with a full load of apparently dead passengers. It will require the scrutiny of a top epidemiologist at the Center for Disease Control Canary Team in New York, Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll), to discover the cause—organisms concealed within a huge box in the cargo hold that have the power and, as we see, the implacable will to destroy every human they can reach. It's a process meant to begin in New York, according to the elaborate designs of the conspirators responsible for shipping the box.

Only one person has recognized instantly the significance of this piece of cargo and its resident evil. That's the elderly Manhattan pawnbroker Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley), whose ornate walking stick is equipped with a sword, and whose arm bears an Auschwitz number. Once this visionary with the haunted eyes arrives on the scene, there's little doubt of the large symbolic aspiration at work in this saga. Setrakian, survivor of a death camp, has reason to remember, to know intimately, the mind of the plot's smoothly diabolical—and unmistakably German—chief architect, Thomas Eichorst (Richard Sammel). Hearing of the strange airport event, Setrakian rushes to alert Goodweather to the cause of the passengers' deaths, the dangers of the box's contents—warnings, needless to say, the scientist dismisses. Until he becomes desperate enough to listen.

Time is everything in this 13-part series created by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan and based on their "Strain" fiction. Time that allows for depth, for the small novelistic details that distinguish the script, that creep in at the most surprising times to turn an encounter of the blackest violence into commentary, a moment's revelation. For instance, about the sort of thing a loving and deeply religious wife of one of the airplane victims is willing to do to a neighbor who's been vicious to her dog. This horror tale moves with a deliberation that pays off—that regularly dances away from its scenes of unspeakable mayhem to the quieter dramas of ordinary life. To an intense family dinner in East Harlem, for instance, or to a family-court hearing where Goodweather has taken time out from his battle against the deadly force about to destroy millions, if not everyone on the planet, to fight for joint custody of his son.

The payoff is a work powered by imaginative energy, intelligence and a skilled cast, all of it adding up to smashing entertainment.

THE STRAIN
Sundays at 10 p.m. on FX


http://online.wsj.com/articles/telev...-fx-1405035910
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Wow my Sunday nights are becoming crowded this Summer. Another show to watch .
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Critic's Notes
False Starts Before Cable’s Golden Age
By Mike Hale, The New York Times - Jul. 10, 2014

AMC, ‘Remember WENN’ (1996-98)

More than a decade before “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” made AMC cable drama’s heavyweight champion, the channel carried this much — much — lighter drama about the glory days of live radio (though darkness occasionally crept in, courtesy of World War II). Heavily nostalgic with a redeeming dose of astringency, it presented the lives and loves of a Pittsburgh station’s staff in the melodramatic and farcical styles of the programs we saw them producing.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/ar...ref=television
'Remember WENN' was a great show. We really enjoyed it and was bummed when it was over.
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