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post #33001 of 33429 Old 11-15-2019, 07:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Technology/Legal Notes (Retail)
B&H dodged millions in taxes, New York attorney general alleges
By Colin Lecher, TheVerge.com - Nov. 14, 2019

Photography and video equipment retailer B&H knowingly failed to pay millions of dollars in sales taxes due in New York, according to a lawsuit filed today by the state attorney general.

The suit alleges that, since 2006, B&H has offered “instant rebate” deals to customers. Under those deals, a manufacturer offers to reimburse a company that sells its products at a discount, but the company still has to pay taxes on the full, undiscounted price of the item.

B&H, according to the suit, offered instant rebates, but failed to pay taxes on the discount. Over 13 years, the suit alleges, B&H received at least $67 million in reimbursements on those deals, and didn’t pay more than $7 million in taxes it owed as a result.

The suit claims that the discrepancy couldn’t have been an accident. Prosecutors cite internal communications that they say show employees were aware they needed to pay the taxes. “B&H has a NYS Sales Tax issue with products for which a vendor-sponsored rebate or discount is offered since we are required to collect NYS Sales Tax on the total product price,” a B&H manager allegedly told executives in 2012.

The investigation started after a whistleblower brought the issue to the attorney general, according to the suit. Prosecutors are asking a court to force B&H to pay damages and penalties under New York tax law.

In a statement, a B&H spokesperson denied any wrongdoing and characterized its tax payments as “widespread industry practice.”

“B&H has done nothing wrong and it is outrageous that the AG has decided to attack a New York company that employs thousands of New Yorkers while leaving the national online and retail behemoths unchallenged,” the spokesperson said. “The Attorney General wants to charge New Yorkers a tax on money they never spent. It’s wrong and we won’t be bullied.”

“B&H proudly claims that it puts principles over profits, but for 13 years, the company actually chose profits over principles by defrauding New York taxpayers out of millions of dollars owed to the state,” New York state Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. “B&H deliberately chose not to pay the sales tax it knew was due to New York State in order to gain a competitive edge over companies that chose to follow the rules.”

https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/14/...new-york-state
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TV/Legal Notes (Streaming)
Mo’Nique Sues Netflix for Racial and Gender Discrimination
By Megh Wright, Vulture.com (New York Magazine) - Nov. 14, 2019

Nearly two years after calling on her fans to boycott Netflix for what she alleged was racial and gender bias, Mo’Nique is taking her case against the streaming network to court. According to NBC News, the comedian and actor filed a lawsuit against Netflix today, in which she accuses the company of giving her a “biased, discriminatory” offer for a one-hour comedy special back in 2017. Mo’Nique was vocal about the low offer at the time and even earned the support of fellow comic Wanda Sykes, who later had a Netflix comedy special of her own after, as she put it, Netflix “moved that comma.”

Mo’Nique confirmed the news of the lawsuit in an Instagram post today. “I had a choice to make: I could accept what I felt was pay discrimination or I could stand up for those who came before me and those who will come after me,” she wrote. “I chose to stand up.”

Mo’Nique’s lawsuit against Netflix cites the offers it reportedly gave to other high-profile comedians for specials, including Jerry Seinfeld ($100 million), Dave Chappelle ($60 million), Chris Rock ($40 million), and Amy Schumer, who retroactively negotiated her $11 million offer to, reportedly, $13 million. Mo’Nique, on the other hand, was offered a $500,000 “talent fee.” “Netflix reportedly offered or paid Rock, Chappelle, DeGeneres, and Gervais forty (40) times more per show than it offered Mo’Nique, and it offered Schumer twenty-six (26) times more per show than Mo’Nique,” the lawsuit notes. “In short, Netflix’s offer to Mo’Nique perpetuates the drastic wage gap forced upon Black women in America’s workforce.”

The lawsuit also says that Netflix has “historically lacked racial diversity,” noting that in 2018 and 2019 the streaming network reported only 4 percent and 6 percent, respectively, of its employees were black. Several examples of racial discrimination at the company are highlighted, including allegations of Kevin Spacey saying the N-word on the set of House of Cards and chief communications officer Jonathan Friedland also using the N-word in a meeting and later during an HR meeting about the incident, after which he was fired from his position. The suit also notes past instances of pay discrimination, including the news that The Crown star Claire Foy was paid significantly less than Matt Smith last year.

Update: A spokesperson for Netflix has responded to the lawsuit with a statement. “We care deeply about inclusion, equity, and diversity and take any accusations of discrimination very seriously,” the statement says. “We believe our opening offer to Mo’Nique was fair — which is why we will be fighting this lawsuit.”

https://www.vulture.com/2019/11/moni...imination.html
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Obituary
Lawrence G. Paull, Oscar-Nominated Production Designer on 'Blade Runner,' Dies at 81
By Mike Barnes, The Hollywood Reporter - Nov. 14, 2019

Lawrence G. Paull, the production designer and art director who received an Oscar nomination for his work on the Ridley Scott sci-fi classic Blade Runner, died Sunday in La Jolla, California, a publicist announced. He was 81.

Paull's distinctive design style also can be seen in director Robert Zemeckis' Back to the Future (1985) and Romancing the Stone (1984) and in Ron Underwood's City Slickers (1991), starring Billy Crystal and Jack Palance.

He also worked on Peter Fonda's The Hired Hand (1971); Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (1976), American Flyers (1985) and Another Stakeout (1993), all directed by John Badham; John Carpenter's Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992) and Escape From L.A. (1996); Jonathan Kaplan's Project X (1987) and Unlawful Entry (1992); Jon Avildsen's W.W. and the Dixie Dance Kings (1975); and Paul Schrader's Blue Collar (1978).

He shared his Oscar nom for art direction-set decoration with David L. Snyder and Linda DeScenna.

"Ridley really knew how to appeal to the art department, he was very wise about it," Paull once said in a rare interview. "What he would say, up in the art department: 'If you build it, I'll shoot it.' And who could resist the temptation of that? Because we've all suffered, making films with gigantic sets, and beautiful sets, and all that is shown are talking heads. And that was disappointing. But because [Ridley] was an art director, he knew he could hook us with that bait. And he did it — if we built it, he shot it."

Scott in a statement recalled that he was "always struck by [Paull's] staunch and faithful support of the strange plan for the unique world of Blade Runner." He continued, "Between Syd [Means, visual futurist on the film] and myself and Larry, it was a challenging, monumental task for him and against all odds — the proof is in his work in the film. So I guess we won. My hat comes off for him."

His film résumé also included Harlem Nights (1989), Predator 2 (1990), Born Yesterday (1993), Naked Gun 33-1/3: The Final Insult (1994), Sgt. Bilko (1996) and Light It Up (1999).
Born on April 13, 1938, in Chicago, Paull received a B.A. in architecture from the University of Arizona and began working in films as a set designer and art director before advancing to production designer.

His early career as art director includes more than 20 TV movies and feature films by such celebrated directors as Robert Mulligan, Delbert Mann and Lamont Johnson. He also designed the Emmy-winning Friendly Fire in 1979; Oprah Winfrey's ABC miniseries The Wedding in 1998; David Greene's Rehearsal for Murder in 1982; Burt Reynolds' Hard Time in 1998; and James Keach's Murder in the Mirror in 2000.

Following his retirement from the motion picture industry, Paull in 2004 joined Chapman University in Irvine, California, where he created and taught a new curriculum that is required for a masters of fine arts degree in production design.

Before Chapman, Paull was senior filmmaker-in-residence at the AFI in Los Angeles, creating the curriculum required for another masters in production design. He worked with the adjunct faculty on the format and content of each course. He also was a guest speaker at Harvard, USC, UCLA, Catholic University and the University of Arizona.

Survivors include his wife of 36 years, Marcy; his son, Michael, president of Disney Streaming Services, his sister, Lesley; and his brother-in-law, Craig. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made in his memory to the charity of your choice. There will be no services.

Darah Head contributed to this report.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/ne...was-81-1254951
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TV/Production Notes (Broadcast)
‘The Late Show With Stephen Colbert’ Sets New Head Writing Team
By Dino-Ray Ramos, Deadline.com - Nov. 14, 2019

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert has made a change on its writing team. Jay Katsir, who currently serves as head writer, will be joined by Ariel Dumas, who has been promoted as head writer after serving as writer and digital producer of the show. Katsir has also been upped to supervising producer.

Katsir and Opus Moreschi had served as Late Show co-head writers since the program’s 2015 launch with Colbert as host.

Supervising producer Moreschi will remain part of the CBS late-night show’s writing staff and will take on additional responsibilities including overseeing long lead projects for the show.

“I have worked with all three of these incredibly talented people since The Colbert Report,” host Stephen Colbert said. “I am thrilled that someone as funny and dedicated as Ariel will be my new head writer and that Opus and Jay will continue to be comedic Gibraltars, on which I can lean, and host donors, from whom I can harvest organs.”

Katsir won four Emmys for writing on The Colbert Report and Dumas has earned six Emmys. Moreschi spent more than 10 years writing for The Colbert Report and is a three-time Emmy winner and a Writers Guild Award winner.

Colbert, Chris Licht, Tom Purcell and Jon Stewart serve as executive producers for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

https://deadline.com/2019/11/the-lat...am-1202786219/
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TV/Critic's Notes (Retail)
The 10 Best TV Shows of the 2010s
By Judy Berman, TIME.com - Nov. 14, 2019

TV is, among other things, a way of marking time. Popular shows help to define their eras not just because they’re often topical, but also because they stick around long enough to evolve with, respond to and sometimes even change the world around them. Our cultural memory of the ’70s leans on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, All in the Family, M*A*S*H, The Jeffersons. The turn of the millennium conjures up The Sopranos, The West Wing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

But in the past decade, as viewing options exploded and audiences fragmented, most ratings juggernauts (The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family) lagged behind the times. The 2010s have instead been defined by the proliferation of smaller, stranger, more personal and diverse programs—not three or five standouts but dozens of them. All criticism is subjective, of course, and my list of the best shows of the last 10 years surely reflects the dearth of consensus picks. My hope is that it nonetheless represents some of the greatest cultural preoccupations of the decade—and some of the most resonant art to come out of the Peak TV glut.

Before we get started, I should mention that there are some rules for the list: Only shows that had run for at least two seasons by the end of 2019 (i.e., no miniseries, which will be covered in a separate list, and no Russian Doll, which has only had one season) and that were arguably at their best during the current decade were eligible.

Here are TIME’s picks for the best TV shows of the 2010s, presented chronologically based on the year of their series debuts. Also read TIME’s list of the best movies, movie performances, nonfiction books and fiction books of the decade.

Mad Men (AMC, 2007-2015)
You could argue that Mad Men—the sprawling period drama that, along with Breaking Bad, brought TV’s golden age to basic cable—made its greatest impact in the 2000s. Airing between 2007 and 2009, the first three seasons followed maverick 1960s ad exec Don Draper (Jon Hamm) as he blew up the seemingly ideal life he’d created for himself; along with charming viewers, the show started a vogue for mid-century retro style. Seasons 4 through 7 felt less consistent, as creator Matt Weiner faced the greater challenge of rebuilding Don while delving deeper into secondary characters like brilliant upstart Peggy (Elisabeth Moss), debauched dinosaur Roger (John Slattery) and perennially underestimated bombshell Joan (Christina Hendricks). But, spread out over a decade as tumultuous as the one we’re living through (the series finale aired in 2015), their triumphs and sorrows cut deeper the better we got to know them. And in its final moments, Mad Men encouraged us to meditate on the wisdom of devoting your life to creative work—or, in other words, whether it’s crazy to seek spiritual fulfillment in whatever it is that you do for money.

Enlightened (HBO, 2011-2013)
There are two ways to frame the story of Enlightened protagonist Amy Jellicoe: In one version, following a humiliating public meltdown and a stint in rehab, a former corporate executive attempts to exact revenge on the company that ruined her life. In the other, a woman endeavoring to become a better person risks everything to expose corruption in her workplace. What makes Amy (played by co-creator Laura Dern, in one of her finest performances) my favorite TV character of the decade is that both versions are equally true. She’s a naive narcissist with a messiah complex, spewing self-help jargon and carelessly putting her co-workers at risk. She’s also a hero with the courage to speak out when no one else will. Written entirely by Dern’s co-creator Mike White, Enlightened premiered in 2011 and was canceled after just two seasons. But the observant dramedy anticipated many defining themes of the years to come: “flawed” female TV characters, the crucial role of whistleblowers, #MeToo , the selfish undertones of wellness culture, Americans’ increasing discomfort with corporations and the superrich. Among Obama-era television, no series has held up better.

BoJack Horseman (Netflix, 2014-present)
No development has changed the 21st-century television landscape as profoundly as the rise of streaming—and, in particular, Netflix’s transformation into an original-content behemoth. But before the service started angling to replace, rather than merely supplement, cable, it endeared itself to TV connoisseurs by throwing money at prestige projects like Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards. So when Netflix announced the first season of BoJack Horseman in 2014, the show seemed like it would be a bit out of its league. Despite a stellar voice cast led by Will Arnett, BoJack was a cartoon from untested creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg about a gloomy talking horse who used to star in a hit ’90s sitcom. Little did we know, at the time, that it would soon evolve into not just a sharp parody of Hollywood, but also a bracing exploration of ambition, responsibility and familial trauma, as well as an empathetic portrait of mental illness. By season 3, Bob-Waksberg and production designer Lisa Hanawalt had given us a virtuosic, nearly silent underwater episode; two years later, BoJack’s emotional half-hour eulogy for his mother could make you forget you were watching anything other than a flesh-and-blood human. Midway through its final season, BoJack has become both Netflix’s masterpiece and the best animated series of its generation.

Halt and Catch Fire (AMC, 2014-2017)
“Computers aren’t the thing. They’re the thing that gets you to the thing.” So says tech entrepreneur Joe MacMillan (a wonderfully dynamic Lee Pace) at multiple points throughout the four-season run of Halt and Catch Fire. At first, in early episodes that tried too hard to make Joe the Don Draper of a Mad Men narrative transposed onto the 1980s personal computer revolution, it sounded like empty pitch-speak. But Halt came into its own once the characters around Joe—programming prodigy Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis), frustrated-genius engineer Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy) and Gordon’s visionary wife Donna (Kerry Bishé)—came into focus. “The thing that gets you to the thing” was about the power of technology, and creative collaboration in general, to forge interpersonal connections. It captured the way these sometime business partners made each other better, more genuine and fulfilled people—and it articulated the dangers of treating monetizable innovation as an end in itself. In the past decade, as we’ve suffered the consequences of a tech sector that can seem devoid of human insight and empathy, Halt dared to imagine an alternate history of the industry in which those qualities mattered most.

The Leftovers (HBO, 2014-2017)
What if we were living in the End Times? I don’t mean the apocalyptic headspace an increasing number of us occupy as the awareness that climate change or geopolitical mayhem could doom our planet in the foreseeable future spreads around the globe; I’m talking about the world of The Leftovers, the epic drama based on a novel by Tom Perrotta. Spanning seven years in the aftermath of a rapture-like event dubbed the “Sudden Departure,” in which 2% of Earth’s population vanished, the show began as a bleak portrait of collective mourning. But it soon blossomed into an exploration of faith and its relationship to love in a contemporary setting stripped of the certainty that has come with scientific progress—a context in which an inexplicable incident catalyzes brutal nihilism at one extreme, religious zealotry at the other and a whole lot of cultish mythologies in between. If 140 million people could simply disappear one day, what’s so far-fetched about miracles, resurrections and modern-day messiahs? With The Leftovers, Perrotta’s co-creator Damon Lindelof found the profundity that eluded him in an earlier mystery-box series, Lost. The result was the rare secular 21st-century narrative endowed with real spiritual resonance.

Better Call Saul (AMC, 2015-present)
Breaking Bad was appointment television: a tightly coiled, smartly written, virtuosically acted, artfully shot neo-Western that spent five seasons hurtling toward a foregone conclusion. It didn’t seem to demand a spinoff. And before the premiere of Better Call Saul, conceived by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould as a comedic prequel focused on Bob Odenkirk’s crooked lawyer character, Saul Goodman, the show sounded kind of silly. But Saul’s origin story, as the petty criminal turned repentant attorney formerly known as Jimmy McGill, turned out to be a serious (if also darkly funny) meditation on what it means to be a good person—an inquiry that weighs law against morality and hinges on the question of whether harboring pure intentions is enough to redeem a man who’s constitutionally incapable of playing by society’s rules. While Odenkirk’s heartbreaking tragicomic performance sets the tone, a cast of distinctive characters—from Jimmy’s ambivalent sometime girlfriend Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) to quasi-principled gangster Nacho Varga (Michael Mando)—illustrates just how sticky seemingly basic ethical dilemmas can become.

Atlanta (FX, 2016-present)
In 2009, 26-year-old 30 Rock writer Donald Glover was kicking off his acting career with a role in Dan Harmon’s rule-breaking NBC sitcom Community. Now he’s a cultural force, starring in Disney blockbusters (The Lion King) and releasing critically adored, platinum-selling R&B albums (as Childish Gambino); his music video “This Is America” dominated the cultural conversation for weeks in 2018. But the linchpin of his success was Atlanta, a restlessly experimental FX comedy about a broke Princeton dropout (Glover) who’s pinned his hopes to managing his up-and-coming rapper cousin Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry). Within that loose framework, Glover—who is also the show’s creator, frequent writer and sometimes director—has offered an episode-length parody of BET, complete with absurdist commercials; an extended riff on the Florida Man meme; and a short horror movie that doubles as a critique of the “black excellence” narrative. Often hilarious and consistently surprising, the show’s commentary on race, class and the entertainment industry is always on point. And along with rocketing Glover into the top echelon of artists in any medium, it helped launch visionary director Hiro Murai and co-stars Henry, Lakeith Stanfield and Zazie Beetz.

Fleabag (Amazon, 2016-2019)
After years of prestige dramas that captured the inner turmoil of straight, middle-aged white men, the flailing young woman finally snatched away the spotlight as Lena Dunham’s often irritating but undeniably groundbreaking Girls gave way to more lighthearted yet equally profound shows: Broad City, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Insecure, Jane the Virgin, Russian Doll. Fleabag, a raw, funny account of grief, guilt and sexual compulsion from British writer and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge, stood out from even that impressive crowd. Three years after its first season established the plight of Waller-Bridge’s titular heroine—whose professional, romantic and familial ties had all come undone since the deaths of her mother and best friend—the show returned with a surprising redemption arc. A new infatuation with a (hot) priest played by Andrew Scott offered a poignant and believable path forward for a self-sabotaging character whose prospects had seemed bleak. As millennials struggled through their first two decades of adulthood, Fleabag’s spiritual journey suggested how a lost generation might begin to find itself.

The Good Place (NBC, 2016-present)
It’s been a bleak decade for broadcast networks, which saw their audiences usurped by cable, streaming, social media and a rapidly expanding video-game culture. With just a few exceptions (Hannibal, The Good Wife, Community, black-ish, Bob’s Burgers, early Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder), broadcasters in ratings freefall started catering to the lowest common denominator. By the time The Good Place premiered, in 2016, it felt like a miracle that creator Michael Schur (The Office, Parks and Recreation) had managed to get such a smart, strange comedy on NBC primetime. As he’d done with Parks, Schur used marquee stars—in this case, Kristen Bell and Ted Danson—to smuggle in a fresh, diverse cast. But what really made the show unique was a surreal premise that placed four newly dead humans in an afterlife where nothing is as it seems. In order to save their souls, the characters embark upon a quest that doubles as a course in moral philosophy. With Donald Trump in the White House and mass shootings dominating the news, Schur’s central question of whether humans can change for the better took on new salience. Sadly, the question of whether network TV will ever produce such an ambitious show again remains unanswered.

Twin Peaks: The Return (Showtime, 2017)
Who could have guessed that the single best show of the decade would turn out to be a revival? Perhaps as compensation for deluging us with awful reboots and sequels—Fuller House, Will & Grace, MacGyver, Dynasty—the TV nostalgia machine offered up David Lynch’s first major audiovisual work since 2006’s Inland Empire: 18 new episodes of Twin Peaks. Title aside, Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost had far more in mind than a return to the show’s namesake small Pacific Northwest town, one still occupied by a handful of the lovable cops, diner waitresses and sundry eccentrics from the original ’90s seasons. Loosely structured around righteous FBI man Dale Cooper’s (Kyle MacLachlan) reemergence after decades stuck in the eerie interzone of the Black Lodge, The Return gave us an uncanny Cooper doppelgänger, weekly musical guests including Nine Inch Nails and a breathtaking experimental sequence that identified the atomic bomb as 20th-century America’s cardinal sin. Every episode was a mystery with infinite solutions.

For the purposes of this list The Return qualifies as the third season of Twin Peaks, but it was more of a remix than a sequel. Originally a simpler, semi-satirical mashup of horror movie, police procedural and soap opera tropes, the series metamorphosed into a funhouse mirror of such current fixations as screens and nostalgia. It was more than that, too—more, I’m afraid, than the blurb format can adequately cover: a series of vividly beautiful nightmares; a product of Lynch’s fascination with Eastern mysticism; a war between Cooper’s goodness and the evil unleashed by the bomb, with archetypal dead girl Laura Palmer’s (Sheryl Lee) anguished spirit hanging in the balance. A cryptic finale fueled debate over which side won out. I prefer to believe that for Lynch, just as it did in real life throughout this tumultuous decade, the fight for the soul of humanity rages on.

https://time.com/5722419/best-tv-shows-2010s-decade/
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TV Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Nov. 15, 2019

MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE
Amazon Prime Video, 3:00 a.m. ET
SEASON PREMIERE:
This drama was more dynamic and artistic when original series creator Frank Spotnitz was in charge – but its tale of alternate realities remains compelling, with Allies as the resistance, and the Germans and Japanese the victors, after WWII. The first season established the existence of films showing a different world, and world war outcome – and last season established a way to travel between those worlds. Now, as Season 4 begins, a year has passed since last season’s cliffhanger, and characters are beginning to travel between worlds. Some are escaping. Others are invading

FORKY ASKS A QUESTION
Disney+, 3:00 a.m. ET

This second episode of the new three-minute Forky Asks a Question series is called “What Is a Friend?,” and it should come with a warning: Beware of contagious catch phrases. Ever since Forky introduced his best friend, a ceramic Happy Face mug whom Forky introduces by the name of “Whaaaat?? Nooooooo!!,” I’m been unable to stop imitating that particular phrase. Watch and see, and hear why… Another instant Pixar classic.

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO JEFF GOLDBLUM
Disney+, 3:00 a.m. ET

Today’s new episode of this documentary series has Goldblum exploring his love of ice cream. He not only takes a ride on an ice cream truck, but at one point visits with some ice cream entrepreneurs, adding to a temporary trio called Jeff & Ben & Jerry.

HOUSE IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS
Various Networks, 9:00 a.m. ET

The second day of the House Impeachment Hearings begins at hour earlier, starting at 9 a.m. with today’s key witness: Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Wednesday’s opening session dropped a bombshell, which it wasn’t expected to – and today’s session may get personal, and emotional, because Yovanovitch was the diplomat removed from her job and essentially threatened by the President of the United States, allegedly because she refused to pursue or support certain non-official agendas regarding Ukraine. As established Wednesday, coverage of the hearings is widespread, and I suggest you hop from source to source to get flavors and tones from each. Start with C-SPAN 3, which will cover this governmental affair as it does all others, without comment. Then go to your favorite broadcast TV source, whether it be PBS, CBS, NBC, or ABC. Then, or in lieu of the broadcast networks, go to the cable news channels, such as MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN (across all its CNN family of networks).

BEING THERE
TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

This 1979 Hal Ashby film is one of my favorite movies – and it’s shown on TCM as what I arrogantly and erroneously consider a personal present to me, which I pass on as a personal present to you. Or at least I did yesterday, on TVWW’s video YouTube short, Best TV Tomorrow. Watch it, and join the party…


http://www.tvworthwatching.com/

* * * *

TV Review (Streaming)
Hulu's Latest, 'Dollface,' is a Surreal Sitcom
By David Hinckley, TVWorthWatching.com's 'All Along the Watchtower' - Nov. 15, 2019

Dollface, an odd and not uninteresting new sitcom that arrives Friday on Hulu, begins with the simple premise that guys are idiots.

It's what known in the production world as "high concept."

The marginally more subtle, unspoken question raised by Dollface is whether girls are smarter, or just more aware of the situation.

Dollface opens with a representative guy, Jeremy, your basis Everyman, casually telling Jules (Kat Dennings) over huevos rancheros that he doesn't love her anymore and they need to break up.

Next, they sit in the front seat of his car for a few minutes sorting out what this means for their upcoming social calendars and divvying up their joint possessions.

Jeremy gets their bulldog Johnny Drama, which is way better than their cat, which Jules gets. In fairness, Jules is operating at a bargaining disadvantage here since she's shellshocked, and he's not.

Perhaps tacitly acknowledging the familiarity of this setup, Dollface then adds its first twist.

Jules gets out of Jeremy's car, Jeremy drives away, and a bus pulls up even though they're parked on a dead-end next to a deserted stretch of water.

Jules climbs in and soon realizes all the passengers are women who have just been dumped by a guy. So we hear much wailing as the bus drives through Guy's Girl town, a stretch of desert populated by women who are still in relationships. They are all wearing cheerleader uniforms and doing just what their guys want them to do.

When the bus reaches its destination, Jules meets with an agent who looks at her records and tells her that because she's spent the last five years exclusively with Jeremy, all her former female friendships have expired.

Like Max, Dennings' character in 2 Broke Girls, Jules doesn't get discouraged. She gets plucky.

She sets out to resuscitate those relationships, beginning with her college roommate Madison (Brenda Song). Madison doesn't immediately forgive Jules for five years of total inattention, but she doesn't foreclose a shot at redemption.

Stella (Shay Mitchell) is a little easier, mainly because if you buy her a drink, she will follow you anywhere.

Other women join the posse, some of them utterly ridiculous, but all bonded and in some measure redeemed by the fact they aren't guys.

Show creator Jordan Weiss gives her women characters plenty of stupid. The difference is that female stupid mostly stops there, where guys barge right over the stupid line into oblivious and cruel.

Dollface does not, however, sell itself primarily as some sort of exercise in gender psychology.

It's a comedy, using Jules' sarcastic, dry wit, and every character lurches through life and relationships to inflate a somewhat thin premise into decent entertainment.

Dollface often settles comfortably into TV's sturdy and gratifyingly elastic tradition of female buddy shows, from Golden Girls to Sex and the City.

As with doctor shows and cop shows, there's always room for a new one as long as we care about the characters. Who can't relate to basically decent people defending themselves against a world run by idiots?

http://www.tvworthwatching.com/BlogP...x?postId=19126
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TV/Nielsen Notes (Analysis)
TV Long View: The Case for Same-Day Ratings
By Rick Porter, The Hollywood Reporter - Nov. 16, 2019

This week ABC announced that it would no longer send out daily reports on the previous night's ratings. It joins Fox — which mostly dropped the practice four years ago — and a number of cable networks in waiting for delayed numbers to tout how well its programming is performing (or spin the less-than-ideal numbers).

The network's reasoning is that same-day ratings, the ones that Nielsen releases every morning, only tell part of the story of a given show's audience — and an increasingly small part, at that.

That's empirically true. Nielsen also releases ratings after three, seven and even 35 days of delayed viewing. Just about every entertainment show on TV (i.e., not live sports or news programs) gets a good-sized ratings boost from delayed viewing. Viewing on digital platforms, which Nielsen doesn't measure but individual networks track, gives an even bigger boost.

For shows like NBC's comedy The Good Place and ABC's first-year drama Stumptown, the initial ratings can be only a quarter or a third of their eventual, all-in, five-week total. (Thirty-five days is as far out as Nielsen measures. Networks can keep tallying shows' digital performance for as long as they wish to do so.)

As ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke put it in a memo to her team announcing the change, "People used to plan their lives around television, now they plan television around their lives."

So, yes, the same-day ratings that appear on The Hollywood Reporter and scores of other places each morning are incomplete.

Even knowing all that, it's hard to make the case for completely disregarding same-day numbers.

For one thing, some of the biggest shows on TV — live sports telecasts and awards shows like the Oscars and Grammys — pull in virtually all of their audiences on the night they air. Burke acknowledged as much in her note, saying ABC would still report same-day ratings for live events (and did so two days after that for the CMA Awards).

Some of the allure of same-day ratings also comes from the twin forces of habit and need for information. It's only in the last decade or so that delayed-view ratings have even existed, let alone had a meaningful impact on the TV landscape as a whole. The numbers that came through each morning pretty well told the whole story. Even though they don't now, there's still a desire from a lot of TV watchers (professional and otherwise) to see those first results, compare trend lines and get a sense of how shows are stacking up relative to each other.

That is, to be sure, a habit borne of decades of the old practice. Advocates of not discussing same-day ratings often make a sports analogy, noting that games aren't called after the first quarter.

True — but there's a reason the score is on the screen in the first quarter and throughout the game. The same-day ratings are a starting point, but they also help provide context for all the data that comes later.

The shows that start out in front, the Masked Singers and This Is Us-es and NCIS-es, are usually among those with the biggest bumps in delayed viewing. The rising tide that is delayed viewing lifts all shows, but by and large, the ones that start near the top of the rankings stay there.

There are exceptions, of course, delayed-viewing stalwarts like Stumptown and The Good Doctor and shows that overperform on digital platforms, a la The Good Place, Law & Order: SVU (whose digital audience is nearly 20 years younger than its on-air audience) and Fox's animated comedies. Those things help fill out the ratings picture. The same-day ratings are the first strokes.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/li...atings-1255301

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TV/Business Notes (Streaming)
Hulu Raising Price for Live TV Service to $54.99
By Jon Lafayette, Broadcasting & Cable - Nov. 15, 2019

Hulu announced that it is raising the price of its Hulu+Live TV service by $10 to $54.99 a month for its base service.

The price increase will affect all plans that include live TV.

The move comes as analysts note that the growth of subscribers to virtual multichannel video programming distributors has slowed, even as cord cutting increases.

Last month Sony said it would be closing its Sony PlayStation Vue vMVPD and other services, including AT&T TV Now have increased their prices in order to improve profitability.

“The new price better reflects the substantial value of Hulu+Live TV together as the only offering that brings together live and on-demand television in one seamless experience,” Hulu said.

“The new price will allow us to continue offering all of the popular live news, sports and entertainment programming including in the plan.

Hulu has been aggressively promoting its live service as a way streaming viewers can watch live sports events.

https://www.broadcastingcable.com/ne...rvice-to-54-99
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TV Notes (Broadcast)
Hawaii Five-0/Magnum P.I. Two-Part Crossover Officially Set for January
By Matt Webb Mitovich, TVLine.com - Nov. 15, 2019

The time has come for McGarrett and Magnum to say aloha to each other.

TVLine has learned that a full-on crossover between CBS’ Hawaii Five-0 and Magnum P.I. is officially happening, on Friday, Jan. 3, 2020 in back-to-back episodes.

In fact, showrunner Peter M. Lenkov tells us that the Magnum half of the crossover has already completed filming, and the Five-0 half is nearly done.

Though this merging of the Aloha State-based procedurals did not come to fruition during Magnum‘s freshman run, as initially hoped, Lenkov had told TVLine over the summer that he was resolved to making it happen this TV season. Weeks later, he updated us, “We have narrowed down a story.”

That story will find “our Five-0 guys kicking down doors” to track down a POI at a hotel — unaware that private eyes Thomas Magnum and Juliet Higgins are surveilling the same room. “In a way, Higgins and Magnum become witnesses that Five-0 needs to help them,” says Lenkov. “And our two worlds collide!”

Specifically, Magnum, Higgins, TC and Rick (played by Jay Hernandez, Perdita Weeks, Stephen Hill and Zachary Knighton) will appear in that Friday’s Five-0 episode alongside McGarrett & Co., after which Five-0‘s Junior, Tani and Quinn (played by Beulah Koale , Meaghan Rath and Katrina Law) will continue on to Magnum P.I.

“It’s a big-stakes story that really feels like a two-hour movie,” says Lenkov. And while the series’ showrunner feared he would have a hard time convincing Magnum‘s much smaller cast that the “double-ups” (filming two episodes at once) were worth it, “That was not an issue at all.”

The awaited crossover comes in the nick of time, seeing as Lenkov’s MacGyver reboot will rejoin CBS’ Friday slate on Feb. 7, forcing Magnum to hit pause on its sophomore season.

Lenkov’s Five-0 reboot previously has crossed over with NCIS: Los Angeles (not a show he runs) and, more recently, MacGyver (in a March 2017 episode that saw Daniel Dae Kim’s Chin and Grace Park’s Kono giving Mac an assist). In addition, Lenkov’s Hawaii shows to date have enjoyed several micro-crossovers, with Five-0 characters such as Kamekona (played by Taylor Wily), Duke (Dennis Chun), Noelani (Kimee Balmilero), Flippa (Shawn Mokuahi Garnett) and P.I. Harry Brown (William Forsythe) popping up on Magnum.

https://tvline.com/2019/11/15/hawaii...-january-2020/
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TV/Business Notes (Streaming)
John Lynch Out as Head of Production at Amazon Studios
By Brent Lang and Matt Donnelly, Variety.com - Nov. 15, 2019

EXCLUSIVE: John Lynch is leaving Amazon Studios, the streaming service where he served as head of production and operations, Variety has learned.

Rumors began swirling earlier this week that Lynch was out at the company. Lynch has been with Amazon since 2012, according to his LinkedIn profile. Lynch notified staff of his departure on Friday. It’s unclear what led to his exit. A spokesperson for Amazon declined to comment.

Lynch isn’t the only high-ranking employee to leave Amazon Studios this year. In June, Bob Berney, a widely respected indie film executive, stepped down as head of marketing and distribution. The studio has yet to name a replacement. In 2018, Jason Ropell left as head of motion pictures. He was ultimately replaced by the tag team of Ted Hope, Julie Rapaport and Matt Newman.

The moves come as Amazon Studios is plotting a much different course on the feature film front than it was charting a few years ago. Roy Price, the previous head of Amazon Studios, was pushed out in 2018 in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal. His replacement, Jennifer Salke, is better versed in television, having spent seven years in a top executive role at NBC. Some of her moves on the feature film front have been met with skepticism. Under Salke’s direction, Amazon went on a spending spree at Sundance, snapping up the rights to such films as “Late Night” and “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” only to see them fail at the box office. Amazon maintains that it does not gauge a film’s success purely in terms of ticket sales. It also looks at how it performs with its streaming subscribers. The service says “Late Night” has been popular with customers.

In the ensuing months, however, Amazon has embraced a different strategy. The company once sought to distinguish itself from Netflix by embracing robust theatrical releases. Now, upcoming films such as “The Report” and “The Aeronauts” will only be in theaters for a few weeks before debuting on Amazon Prime, the company’s streaming service.

https://variety.com/2019/film/news/j...os-1203406483/
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Technology Notes (Gaming)
Nintendo’s Switch Lite Helps Capture New Audiences—Women and Families
By Lisa Marie Segarra, Fortune.com - Nov. 15, 2019

Nintendo's Switch Lite is still a pretty new player on the scene—but rather than being a cheap take on the original console, it's more like a Luigi to the original Switch's Mario. The Switch Lite is Nintendo's plan to reach every corner of the gaming market.

The original Switch has already been a commercial success and saw early buy-in, especially from the hardcore gaming market, which tends to skew male and falls within the millennial age range.

But the Lite has captured two new important groups: women and families. The Switch Lite retails for $200, $100 less than the original. It's a big enough difference to get players that weren't willing to purchase the console previously to finally make the leap. In the first ten days of the Switch Lite's release, 57% of customers were buying their Switch ever.

"We're seeing a higher percent of female consumers buying Nintendo Switch Lite than buy the flagship," Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser says. "We see Lite as a great opportunity for us to expand with that audience."

It's Nintendo's first holiday season with the Switch Lite on the market, and Bowser said offering two price points will help its overall strategy.

"Our intent with Nintendo Switch Lite is absolutely to reach a more expanded audience and to do so by offering a more dedicated gaming device for those that were really looking for that experience," Bowser told Fortune.

To further entice buyers this holiday season, Nintendo is also marking down a number of Switch titles for Black Friday. Bowser noted that the games on sale encompass a wide range of genres—from Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to Super Mario Party and Splatoon 2—ensuring that gamers of all kinds can take advantage of the discount.

"Our goal with Nintendo Switch is to have games for every type of gamer. As a result, we're working with a wide variety of publishing partners, and each partner's a little unique," Bowser told Fortune at the gaming convention E3 this summer. "Our goal is to help everyone get on the platform. We believe that's the way we can offer games to every gamer. We want to be a platform of choice."

https://fortune.com/2019/11/15/ninte...-friday-sales/
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Nielsen Overnights (Broadcast)
‘Thursday Night Football’ Ratings Surge With On-Field Fracas; Browns’ Myles Garret Suspended By NFL
By Dominic Patten, Deadline.com - Nov. 15, 2019

The blast radius from the chaos of last night’s Thursday Night Football grows as the NFL on Friday fined the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns and suspended a trio of players for a fight on the field in closing seconds of the Browns’ 21-7 victory. On the other hand, the ratings were a total touchdown for the league and Fox.

Coming off the brawl, the Browns’ defensive end Myles Garrett’s season is now over, and it remains to be seem whether he will be reinstated at all — which is what happens when you rip the helmet off opposing team’s QB and hit him repeatedly, on live TV.

Cleveland’s Larry Ogunjobi shoved another player during the altercation and was suspended for one game, while the Steelers’ Maurkice Pouncey laid into Garrett and is out three games. Both will have to pay fines, and both teams will have to pay fines for a pittance of $250,000.

Of course, with that fight blowing up on social media in real time, the Browns’ victory was a big hit with viewers. Snagging a 3.4 rating among adults 18-49 and an audience of just over 12 million, last night’s TNF wasn’t quite a season high, but it was close in more ways than one.

Surging 30% in the key demo over last week’s 26-24 West coast showdown between the Oakland Raiders and the winning Los Angeles Chargers, last night’s game was up 28% in viewers in the fast affiliates. That Raiders-Chargers game November 7 game ended up with a 3.9 rating and 13.5 million viewers in the final numbers – a result last night’s primetime-topping TNF is sure to beat.

Fast affiliates to fast affiliates, last night’s TNF is even with the comparable game of last year, when the Seattle Seahawks took down the Green Bay Packers 27-24. However, that November 15, 2018 matchup was down about 3% in total sets of eyeballs from last night’s game before being adjusted up to a 5.0 in the demo and 17 million viewers – which is what we could see today.

We’ll update with more TNF ratings as the come in.

In the meantime, there was other things on TV last night besides UFC … sorry I mean, the NFL.

For instance, Grey’s Anatomy (1.3 18-49 rating, 6.30 million viewers) retained its spot as Thursday’s top non-sports program, keeping its two-tenths gain from a week ago. It teamed with steady A Million Little Things (0.8, 4.61M) and How to Get Away With Murder (0.5, 2.33M), up a tenth, to give ABC the No. 2 spot for the night in the demo.

CBS was No. 2 in viewers led by Young Sheldon (1.2, 8.98M), which grew a tenth and kicked off a lineup that included comedies The Unicorn (0.7, 5.67M), Mom (0.9, 6.26M), both up a tenth, and Carol’s Second Act (0.6, 4.75M) dipping a tenth leading into a steady Evil (0.5, 3.28M) at 10 PM.

Law & Order: SVU (0.7, 3.76M) was NBC’s best performer, growing a tenth and leading the 10 PM hour. It capped a night that included steady numbers for Superstore (0.7, 2.74M) and The Good Place (0.6, 2.06M) but a tenth drop-off for Perfect Harmony (0.4, 1.86M).

On the CW, Supernatural (0.3, 1.32M) stayed even while Legacies (0.3, 880,000) ticked up.

https://deadline.com/2019/11/myles-g...on-1202787177/
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TV Notes (Syndication)
James Holzhauer wins 'Jeopardy!' Tournament of Champions, adds to streak
By Carly Mallenbaum, USA Today - Nov. 15, 2019

Back in June, she bested him. On Thursday, he was the victor.

"Jeopardy!" champ James Holzhauer, a professional gambler from Las Vegas, came out on top after battling Emma Boettcher again Friday in the quiz show's annual tournament of champions, and took home a $250,000 prize after a two-day final round.

It was a closer finish than some might have expected: Holzhauer, who led by $23,000 after Thursday's first round, finished with total winnings of $76,923, to Boettcher's $65,000.

There's some history behind that win: Boettcher ended Holzhauer's 32-game winning streak this summer, before Holzhauer earned about double Boettcher's score on Thursday, and then became the tournament champ Friday.

Boettcher, a user-experience librarian, placed second in the finale, earning $100,000. Teachers Tournament winner Francois Barcomb took third for $50,000.

“I’ve said all along that Emma is an all-time great player, and I’m proud it took that level of competitor to defeat me,” Holzhauer said in a statement. “Now the world sees that I wasn’t just making excuses. Francois certainly looked as dominant as either of us in his first two games, so I knew the finals would be a fight to the finish. But the whole point of the (tournament) is to play the best of the best, and Emma and Francois certainly proved that they belonged in the final three.”

With his latest winnings, Holzhauer’s haul totals $2,712,216, a figure that puts him behind only two other "Jeopardy!" contestants: Brad Rutter, whose $4,688,436 makes him the highest-winning American game show contestant of all time, and Ken Jennings, whose all-time earnings total $3,370,700.

The Final Jeopardy category was "international disputes," and the clue was: "A dispute over Etorofu, Habomai, Kunashiri and Shikotan has kept these two countries from ever signing a World War II peace treaty." (The correct response is below).

The tournament unfolded against the backdrop of host Alex Trebek's battle with pancreatic cancer. Earlier this week. "Jeopardy!" college champ Dhruv Gaur, a semi-finalist, wrote "We (heart) you Alex!" in place of a Final Jeopardy answer. Trebek choked up at the gesture.

The finalists organized a fundraiser for the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, encouraging viewers at home to donate $1 for each of their correct responses in the final round in honor of Trebek, 79, and Larry Martin, the 2018 Teachers Tournament winner, who died of pancreatic cancer in January.

As of Friday afternoon, the fundraiser had raised more than $30,000.

And the correct response for Final Jeopardy?: What are Japan and Russia.

Contributing: Bill Keveney, Andrea Mandell. Gary Levin

https://www.usatoday.com/story/enter...nt/4205190002/
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TV/Production Notes
'Sin City' TV Series in the Works From Legendary TV
By Rick Porter, The Hollywood Reporter - Nov. 15, 2019

Legendary TV has struck a deal with Sin City author Frank Miller to adapt the comics as a TV series.

The deal gives Legendary the rights to develop a series based on Miller's film noir-influenced comics, with the indie studio guaranteeing a first season for the show pending distribution with a network or streaming outlet. Robert Rodriguez, who directed the 2005 movie based on the comics, is close to a deal to executive produce.

The deal with Miller also calls for an animated prequel series based on the world of Sin City.

Miller and Rodriguez would executive produce the series along with Stephen L'Heureux, a producer of sequel film Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, and Silenn Thomas, CEO of Frank Miller Ink. A writer for the project is not yet attached.

Miller regained the film and TV rights to Sin City in 2018 following a settlement with Lantern Capital Partners. The latter had scooped up the rights to Sin City as part of The Weinstein Co.'s bankruptcy sale; Miller objected and worked out an agreement with Lantern to take back rights to a series and the first film (the settlement doesn't apply to A Dame to Kill For).

Should it go forward, the Sin City series would join a roster at Legendary TV that includes Amazon's The Expanse and Carnival Row, Netflix's Lost in Space and Hulu limited series The Looming Tower. The company is also behind HBO Max's Dune: The Sisterhood, an offshoot of the Dune film franchise Legendary will launch in December 2020. The series received a straight-to-series order from the WarnerMedia streamer in June.

Legendary has also recently signed a number of first-look or overall deals, including ones with Toby Jarold and Tory Tunnell's Safehouse Pictures, Elijah Wood and comics creators Ed Brubaker, Brian K. Vaughan and Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction.

Deadline first reported the news.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/li...ary-tv-1255283
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TV Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Nov. 16, 2019

FROZEN
Freeform, 8:00 p.m. ET

Disney’s Frozen 2 arrives in theaters next Thursday, a week after the company launched Disney+ and immediately amassed some 12 million subscribers to its brand new streaming service. (Not a bad month for Disney, or for anyone.) And even though Frozen 2 is an even surer bet as a major instant hit, Disney is sweetening the pot by using one of its cable entities, Freeform, to present a well-timed repeat showing of the original 2013 Frozen animated musical. If there’s a way to succeed, and to increase the odds of success, the folks at Disney will never, ever let it go.

DOG DAY AFTERNOON
TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

Frank Pierson won an Oscar for his screenplay for this fact-based 1975 film, and deserved to – but he had help from two significant directions. Al Pacino, as hapless bank robber Sonny, improvised the film’s most famous scene, in which he excited and incited a crowd of onlookers by screaming “Attica!,” as director Sidney Lumet brilliantly captured the ensuing mayhem. Then there’s the real story itself, based on the magazine article by P.F. Kluge. It’s about a man so in love with his trans partner that he attempts a bank robbery in hopes of raising money for his lover’s sex-change operation – with escalatingly absurd and unpredictable results. No one would have written this story from scratch, and few people, other than Pacino, could have carried it off so dynamically. John Cazale plays Sonny’s sad-sack bank-robbery partner, and Chris Sarandon plays Sonny’s lover, Leon.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
NBC, 11:29 p.m. ET

Tonight’s new episode is guaranteed to poke fun at the first week of House Impeachment proceedings – but otherwise, most of the show is likely to go in another direction. Make that One Direction, since a former member of that boy band, Harry Styles, is scheduled to show up tonight as both guest host and musical guest.

THE SEVENTIES & THE EIGHTIES
CNN, 11:30 p.m. ET

Yesterday on TVWW’s Best TV Tomorrow YouTube video short, I recommended this particular double feature as the evening’s best bet. It was partly, I admit, for the self-conscious irony of being on TV (okay, on YouTube), recommending myself on TV (okay, on CNN), as one of the on-camera interviewees talking about television in two different decades. All of CNN’s “Decades” documentary series to date, which span from The Sixties to the 2000s, begin with a scene-setting episode devoted to television. I’d recommend them even without my participation in them, and have decided to recommend them despite it. Tonight, CNN presents a double feature of two of the earlier entries. At 11:30 p.m. ET, there’s the “Television Gets Real” installment of The Seventies, which brings us the birth of cable TV and the rise of the television miniseries. Then, at 12:30 a.m. ET, there’s the “Raised on Television” episode of The Eighties, a decade that includes, among other things, the hugely popular finale of CBS's M*A*S*H. Oh, and by the way, when I recommended myself on Best TV Tomorrow, I was wrong. Maybe not about recommending myself on TV, but certainly about which decades were being covered. The ones I just described are the correct ones being shown tonight by CNN (unless, of course, breaking news wipes them off the rerun schedule). In the video, I identify the decades of TV being covered as The Eighties and The Nineties. Well, I was half right. That's what I get for not looking down at my note pad, which is just out of frame on my left leg. That's two mistakes this month on Best TV Tomorrow, and they're both my fault. Will I complete a hat trick before November runs out? I hope not. But the smart money bets in the other direction...


http://www.tvworthwatching.com/

* * * *

TV Review (Streaming)
The Final Season of 'The Man in the High Castle' Returns to Amazon
By David Hinckley, TVWorthWatching.com's 'All Along the Watchtower' - Nov. 15, 2019

The competition for the most disturbing show on television turned brutal some time ago, and no discussion about that designation should be held without Amazon Prime's The Man in the High Castle.

The Man in the High Castle returns on Amazon Friday for its fourth and final season, and the fact that the fate of the universe hangs in the balance is not the most disturbing part.

The really disturbing part is that even as the show has spun a sci-fi web of alternate universes, it has sounded ever-louder warnings about our modern-day, real-life world.

The complex story largely revolves around Juliana Crane (Alexa Davalos), a young woman we first met in 1962. She lives in what used to be the United States and for the past seventeen or so years has been the Greater Nazi Reich, ever since the Axis developed an atomic bomb and won World War II.

The former United States has now been divided into three zones, with the Germans controlling the Eastern half, the Japanese Pacific States established in the Western third, and the middle band loosely called the Neutral Zone.

The Neutral Zone is where the ragged people go, with few resources and fewer rules. It primarily keeps the Germans and Japanese, former partners and now wary rivals, from having too much close contact with each other.

Juliana, like most of her fellow Americans, was reluctantly keeping her head down and staying alive under the austere and menacing new regimes.

Juliana lived in San Francisco, where things were marginally less dire than under the Reich, whose rules were set by Adolf Hitler in Germany and enforced on the North American continent by a combination of Germans and converted Americans like John Smith (Rufus Sewell). Smith fought for America in World War II, but the Reich wanted at least one American convert in a prominent governing position, and Smith showed a level of cold-bloodedness that convinced the Germans he was their guy.

A series of intolerable events, which had become everyday occurrences in this new world, convinced Juliana she had to join the resistance, and that's where she has spent most of the show's first three seasons. Many of her colleagues have not survived those seasons, and viewers can be pretty sure the mortality rate will increase in the episodes ahead.

Neither the Germans nor the Japanese is much into "beyond a reasonable doubt" or "due process" when it comes to eliminating anyone considered a potential problem.

The resistance has a wild card, however, which is a scattered collection of what seem to be newsreel and documentary films showing that the Germans and Japanese didn't really win the war, that it was the Allies.

These films are collected and distributed by, yes, the man in the high castle. They confirm there are alternate realities – which is, as you might guess, the sci-fi part of Man in the High Castle. At this point, it's not a spoiler to report that the show's world includes multiple universes, often including the same people in different situations with different personalities and roles.

That gives hope to the resistance. It's inconvenient for the Germans and Japanese, who have made it a priority to confiscate and destroy all those films. If there is no awareness of history or other realities, only the present, the Axis powers could dominate all worlds.

As we enter the final season, Juliana and a ragged, dwindling band of fellow resisters are the last line of defense against murderous rulers who seek to "purify" the world, sparing only those of like image and mind.

That is to say, it's a world divided into "us" and "them," with the more powerful "us" feeling no responsibility to accommodate or even tolerate "them." You don't need to watch Man in the High Castle to see the seeds of that attitude sprouting these days.

Want to get more depressed? The show is based on a book written by Phillip Dick in 1962, meaning that much of what troubles us today was troubling people back then and has not been fixed.

It should be noted that it would be almost impossible to start watching The Man in the High Castle in its fourth season. Viewers should return to the beginning, which happily is easy with a service like Amazon, or much of what goes on will either not make sense or lack meaningful context.

That said, it's worth the effort. While the show plunges into the sci-fi weeds at times – and trying to explain all its twists would leave viewers and readers planted right in the middle of those weeds – it also has taken the time to give characters like Juliana, John Smith, and seeming Everyman American Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank) a continuing stream of moral choices, some of which they handle better than others.

Humor isn't a priority here, probably due to the seriousness of the story, but the writers have found ways to incorporate music. In the locked-down Reich, Resistance Radio spins Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land," while radios in one of the other universes play "Surfin' USA" and "A Wonderful Dream" by the Majors.

Not subtle, but appropriate.

Where the final season will take us remains ominously but fittingly unclear. The Nazis seem to have everyone, including the Japanese, outmanned and outgunned. The resistance, always fragmented, has shrunk, and as the Reich finds and burns more films, fewer and fewer people, especially young people, understand why it's so important not to let things derail our move toward the way things could be.

http://www.tvworthwatching.com/BlogP...x?postId=19132
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Technology/Critic's Notes (Mobile)
6 Foldable Phones That Show How the Future of Handset Design Is Unfolding
By JP Mangalindan, Fortune.com - Nov. 15, 2019

This fall, smartphones with large foldable displays finally made the leap from prototype to usable product in the U.S., with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Fold in September and the announcement this week of the new Motorola Razr. And while this new type of smartphone will set people back with prices well over $1,000—limiting their appeal to the choosiest of tech adopters, for the time being—there’s something novel about having a smartphone with a tablet-like screen that can easily slip into a pocket without a second thought.

Here’s a look at six foldable phones already available or on the horizon. They may make you appreciate your tried-and-true smartphone even more—or convince you that the future of the phone hinges on a new form factor.

Huawei Mate X
Huawei's Mate X, which launched in China on Friday, is the most expensive foldable phone so far, starting at 16,999 yuan in China, or roughly $2,400. Those who pony up, however, will find the Mate X offers a lot of bells and whistles.

Unfolded, the device acts as an 8-inch tablet. Fold the device, and you have two screens: a front-facing 6.6-inch OLED screen, complemented by a 6.4-inch OLED display on back. The Mate X also uses a Kirin 980 processor, with eight computing cores, wed to 8 gigabytes of RAM, and a trio of Leica camera lenses on the back with 40-megapixel wide angle lens, a 16-megapixel ultra wide angle lens, and an 8-megapixel telephoto shooter.

The feature-packed Mate X may never find its way to the U.S, given the Trump administration has officially barred U.S. companies from buying telecom equipment from Huawei. Likewise, the U.S. Department of Commerce forbids U.S. companies from offering hardware and software to Huawei without permission. So while the Mate X runs Android, it won't have any Google apps installed, similar to Huawei’s Mate 30 Pro smartphone. Still, despite those hurdles, the Mate X sold out online on Friday "within seconds," according to Huawei.

LG G8X ThinQ
Phone owners intrigued by foldable phones but put off by steep prices and technological bugs may find a great compromise in the LG G8X ThinQ.

The Android device, which went on sale in early November starting at $700, doubles its 6.4-inch screen size with the help of a special case that comes with the device and includes a second display. Simply drop the G8X ThinQ into the case, and you have a foldable phone with twice the screen size for easier multitasking.

Folded or not, LG's smartphone is no slouch, given its affordable price. The phone packs a Snapdragon 855 processor with eight computing cores and 6 gigabytes of RAM, 128 gigabytes of on-board storage, a 32-megapixel selfie cam on the front, and two wide-angle cameras on the back.

But there's a drawback to the ThinQ's unconventional form factor: Not all apps are customized to take advantage of LG's dual screen feature, which might make for some clunky moments using the phone. Also, charging the phone while its in its dual screen case requires a small, custom adapter that comes included—but is easy to lose.

Microsoft Surface Duo
At a company event this October, Microsoft surprised the world when it previewed the Surface Duo, a smartphone running Android—yes, Android— that sports a pair of 5.6-inch displays that fold out into a larger 8.3-inch screen.

Users will be able to flip around the Surface Duo's screens, which can rotate 360 degrees, to use the device either as a phone or tablet. And when the screens are side by side, the phone will be able to multitask with several apps at once, dragging-and-dropping between programs and displays, stretch one app across both screens, or simply using the second screen as a keyboard. Although a Snapdragon 855 processor with eight computing cores will power the device, little else is known about the Surface Due—including its price—which is expected to be released some time during the 2020 holiday season.

Motorola Razr
Smartphone users who fondly recall Motorola’s iconic RAZR flip phone from the early 2000s may be intrigued by the company’s new Razr, which the company announced on Wednesday. Available for pre-order on Verizon in the U.S. starting Dec. 26 for $1,499 and shipping in January 2020, the Razr marries the flip phone design that made original such a classic, with a 6.2-inch pOLED display that folds in half when the phone is closed. On the outside, a 2.7-inch gOLED display shows information like notifications, song tracks, and the time of day.

The Razr, which will run Android 9 Pie as its operating system, is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 processor with eight computing cores running at 2.2 GHz, paired with 6 gigabytes of RAM along with 128 gigabytes of onboard storage. According to Motorola, the Razr should get the average user “a full-day of use,” but the company would not further elaborate on that claim.

Fortune’s brief hands-on of the new Razr revealed a sturdy stainless steel chassis, a crisp display, and snappy performance, although the speakers at the bottom sounded below average for a smartphone at that price.

Royole FlexPai
Released in October 2018, six-year-old flexible display startup Royole—based in Shenzhen, China and Fremont, Calif.—put out the FlexPai, the world’s first foldable phone.

The FlexPai has a 7.8-inch OLED display and becomes two—not just one—Android phones when it’s closed shut. (According to the company, one of the two phones is the user’s primary phone, while the other is essentially a back-up.)

Buggy and reportedly more a proof of concept than a full-fledged product, the FlexPai starts at 8,999 yuan, or roughly $1,318. The Android-powered phone is powered by a Snapdragon 855 processor with eight computing cores, and has up to 8 gigabytes of RAM and up to 512 gigabytes of on-board storage.

Critics who have used the FlexPai were frustrated with the phone’s buggy software, which was problematic when the device performed even the most basic tasks, including being folded, unfolded and rotated.

Samsung Galaxy Fold
When Samsung announced the Galaxy Fold in February 2019, reactions were mixed. For a staggering $1,980—more than many computers—the device unfolds its 4.6-inch screen to reveal a 7.3-inch tablet with its “Infinity Flex Display.” Also, on-board: a 64-bit processor with eight cores, 512 gigabytes of built-in storage, and 12 gigabytes of RAM.

Samsung touts the Galaxy Fold’s multitasking chops for juggling three open apps at once, as well as a feature called “App Continuity,” the ability to start interacting with an app on the smaller front screen and continue using it on the larger screen inside. Yet even Samsung acknowledged the device was essentially a work-in-progress when the Galaxy Fold was announced, and the company expected to be “surprised” with how the Galaxy Fold is used day to day.

Some reviewers this April received a surprise of their own when they observed the device’s 7.3-inch screen breaking after just several days of use. The debacle forced Samsung to delay the Galaxy Fold’s release, and Samsung mobile boss DJ Koh even called the Galaxy Fold launch “embarrassing," acknowledging in an interview with The Independent in July he pushed for the Fold’s release “before it was ready.” Eventually the Galaxy Fold came out in September with a revised design and construction.

https://fortune.com/2019/11/15/folda...duo-lg-huawei/
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TV Sports
NFL Schedule (Week 11)
By Sportsmediawatch.com Staff

TEAMS : / TIME (Eastern): / NETWORK:

SUNDAY, NOV. 17:

--Houston-Baltimore / 1:00 pm / CBS
--Denver-Minnesota / 1:00 pm / CBS
--Jacksonville-Indianapolis / 1:00 pm / CBS
--Buffalo-Miami / 1:00 pm / CBS

--Dallas-Detroit (51%) / 1:00 pm / FOX
--NY Jets-Washington (11%) / 1:00 pm / FOX (Flexed from CBS)
--New Orleans-Tampa Bay (8%) / 1:00 pm / FOX
--Atlanta-Carolina (8%) / 1:00 pm / FOX

--Arizona-San Francisco (21%) / 4:05 pm / FOX

--New England-Philadelphia / 4:25 pm / CBS
--Cincinnati-Oakland / 4:25 pm / CBS

--Chicago-LA Rams / 8:20 pm / NBC

MONDAY, NOV. 18:

--Kansas City-LA Chargers
/ 8:15 pm / ESPN

THURSDAY, NOV. 21: (WEEK 12)

--Indianapolis-Houston
/ 8:20 pm / FOX, NFLN


https://www.sportsmediawatch.com/nfl...n-tnf-snf-mnf/
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Technology/Washington Notes
Supreme Court to hear copyright case pitting Google against Oracle
By Steven Overly, Politico.com - Nov. 15, 2019

The Supreme Court today announced it will take up the longstanding copyright dispute between Google and Oracle.

The decision to hear the case marks a temporary win for Google, which in January petitioned the court to intervene in the 9-year-old court battle.

“We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to review the case and we hope that the Court reaffirms the importance of software interoperability in American competitiveness," Kent Walker, Google's senior vice president of global affairs said in a statement. "Developers should be able to create applications across platforms and not be locked into one company's software.”

The dispute centers on Google using the Oracle-owned programming language Java as the backbone of its widely used Android operating system. Google has argued the language is considered "fair use" and thus exempted from certain copyright protections.

Oracle contends the opposite and wants Google to pay for using technology it owns. A federal appeals court ruled in Oracle's favor last year. Oracle is asking for $9 billion in damages.

"We are confident the Supreme Court will preserve long established copyright protections for original software and reject Google’s continuing efforts to avoid responsibility for copying Oracle’s innovations," Oracle spokesperson Deborah Hellinger said in a statement. "We look forward to presenting our arguments, which have been embraced by the Solicitor General and the Federal Circuit."

Google previously sought the Supreme Court's intervention in the case in 2014 after a circuit court ruled Oracle's code was protected by copyright laws. That request was denied.

https://www.politico.com/news/2019/1...-oracle-071170
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Technology/Washington Notes
Amazon will protest Pentagon's decision to award $10 billion cloud contract to Microsoft
By Clare Duffy, CNN.com - Nov. 15, 2019

The Department of Defense's decision last month to award a massive cloud computing contract to Microsoft was a huge loss for rival Amazon. Amazon isn't going down without a fight.

On Thursday, an Amazon (AMZN) spokesperson told CNN Business it plans to file a formal legal complaint protesting the decision. The company claims the deal was marred by "errors and unmistakeable bias."

Amazon Web Services "is uniquely experienced and qualified to provide the critical technology the US military needs, and remains committed to supporting the (Department of Defense's) modernization efforts," an AWS spokesperson said in a statement to CNN Business.

The contract — called Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI — involves providing cloud storage of sensitive military data and technology, such as artificial intelligence, to the Department of Defense, and could result in a payoff of up to $10 billion over 10 years. The Pentagon chose Microsoft's Azure cloud for the job, saying in a statement announcing the decision that Microsoft (MSFT) would help improve the "speed and effectiveness with which we develop and deploy modernized technical capabilities to our men and women in uniform."

Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, who recused himself from the final decision-making process, was asked about the JEDI contract and Amazon's challenge at a press conference in South Korea on Friday.

"I am confident that it was conducted freely and fairly without any type of outside influence," he said.

For Amazon, losing the deal could threaten its position as leader of the cloud industry, as well as its ability to land other potentially lucrative government deals in the future. AWS has long been the company's leading profit driver.

The JEDI decision process was long and contentious.

AWS had been considered the clear favorite to win the contract. The company had already been providing some cloud services to the Department of Defense, and in 2013 won a breakthrough $600 million CIA cloud contract. But that changed after President Donald Trump began raising questions about the evaluation process. Trump has long been critical of Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos, who owns the Washington Post.

A book written by the speech writer for former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says that Trump called Mattis in the summer of 2018 and directed him to "screw Amazon" out of a chance to bid on the contract, according to the website Task and Purpose. Mattis declined to do that, per the book.

This past June, Trump said his administration would carefully review the Pentagon's contract plan after he said Amazon competitors, including Microsoft, complained about the process. Then, in July, a document from tech giant Oracle alleging a large conspiracy to decide in favor of Amazon made its way to Trump's desk. Oracle was an early contender for the deal, but did not make it to the final stage.

In announcing the decision last month, the Department of Defense said the acquisition process "was conducted in accordance with applicable laws and regulations." Microsoft, whose cloud business has been growing faster than Amazon's in recent quarters, said the decision reflected the fact that it brought its "best efforts to the rigorous JEDI evaluation process."

But now, Amazon is calling for that process to be reviewed.

"We also believe it's critical for our country that the government and its elected leaders administer procurements objectively and in a manner that is free from political influence. Numerous aspects of the JEDI evaluation process contained clear deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias — and it's important that these matters be examined and rectified," the AWS spokesperson said.

CNN's Zachary Cohen and Michelle Toh contributed to this report.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/14/tech/...eal/index.html
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TV/Critic's Notes (Streaming)
'The Mandalorian' and When 'Star Wars' Is an Experiment
By Graeme McMillan, The Hollywood Reporter - Nov. 16, 2019

If The Mandalorian unconditionally succeeds in one thing, it’s something that Lucasfilm and Disney have already demonstrated in the current era of Star Wars — that the famous galaxy far, far away setting of the franchise allows for far more variety of stories to be told than would be immediately apparent from the early movies in the series.

The original trilogy of Star Wars movies is, for the most part, straightforward when it comes to genre, purposefully patterning themselves after adventure movies of old, with a purposeful mix of derring-do, sword fights and a dash of romance to keep the attention from wandering for anyone in the audience who’d prefer to see more of the kissing stuff. Despite the title, they’re pretty far from war movies, and for all the suggested danger of The Empire Strikes Back, there’s very little feeling of true risk on show: They are exciting — perhaps thrilling is a better word, more fitting with the movie serial of it all — but essentially safe viewing experiences, which is part of their appeal.

Given the many ways in which the first Star Wars movies are the model for the Disney era of the franchise, it’s somewhat of a surprise to consider that the Disney era has seen the franchise purposefully push itself outside of that genre comfort zone to the extent that it has with its primary output. (For ease of use, “primary output” here is defined as “Star Wars stories made by Lucasfilm, as opposed to farmed out to comic book publishers, video game companies or prose publishers.)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was, for all its faults, the first Star Wars movie to actually feel as if the second half of the franchise title wasn’t an exaggeration. Solo: A Star Wars Story had remnants of the comedy movie it could have been in what finally made it to the screen. And The Mandalorian is, very clearly, a western dressed up in the alien costuming of the larger Star Wars mythology.

It’s a curious thing to watch, and an exciting one to some degree, as the powers-that-be seem to be experimenting in front of the audience to see where the boundaries of Star Wars as a property actually are. Certainly, if Rogue One suggested one limit of what fandom would accept — especially in terms of just how dark the storytelling can actually go, with the entire crew perishing for the cause — then The Mandalorian feels like the slow discovery of another line, stripping the franchise of almost everything familiar with the exception of occasional visual cues, and seeing what’s left.

For a property as valuable as Star Wars, it’s been a surprise to see such experimentation done in public, not to mention presented as completed work, as opposed to happening in the background before being refined and reworked ahead of its on-stage debut. That everyone gets to watch the process unfold in real time, though, is an unlikely pleasure and a treat for those wanting to peek behind the curtain, even when the result is… well, Solo.

That, ultimately, makes an unexpected argument in favor of sticking with The Mandalorian as it continues. Even if the show didn’t necessarily wow you immediately, who knows where the show — and the franchise — is going to end up going next, and what new shapes it might twist itself in along the way? As Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ends one era of the property, viewers have the chance to watch the next one being build in front of their eyes, on a weekly basis. Really, what true fan could say no to that opportunity?

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/he...riment-1254931

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TV Notes (Broadcast)
Carol's Second Act: Two Writers Quit After Allegations Were Leveled Against Patricia Heaton's EP Husband
By Ryan Schwartz, TVLine.com - Nov. 16, 2019

Two female writers quit the freshman CBS sitcom Carol’s Second Act after allegations were leveled against executive producer David Hunt, who is married to series star Patricia Heaton.

According to The New York Times, writer Broti Gupta alleged that Hunt touched her inappropriately on two separate occasions. The first incident occurred at a cast and crew dinner in August, when Hunt allegedly hugged Gupta twice from the side, then complimented her pants and ran his hand up the side of her thigh. Later that night, Gupta discussed the incident with her boyfriend, fellow TV scribe Greg Gallant, and actress Dylan Gelula, who confirmed their conversations with the Times.

Weeks later, on the set of the Carol’s Second Act, Gupta was seated in a chair next to co-executive producer Margee Magee. Hunt, who was supposedly looking for something, approached Gupta, took her by the shoulders and jerked her forward — at which point Magee leapt up from her own chair and said, “Excuse me.” Hunt did not respond.

In statements provided to the Times, Hunt’s lawyer Bryan Freedman claimed that his client “does not recall rubbing anyone’s thigh or leg and he disputes that characterization of it.” Hunt also “does not remember the detail of touching anyone’s shoulders, and if he did that, it was not intended to be offensive,” Freedman said.

Following the on-set occurrence, Gupta told Magee about the initial inappropriate touching. Magee went with Gupta to discuss the matter with showrunners Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern, who subsequently reported the allegations to CBS Television Studios. During a follow-up meeting with an HR exec, Gupta was adamant that she did not want Hunt kicked off the show, but instead educated on harassment.

The following week, Gupta and Magee learned that they were barred from the sitcom’s rehearsal because the previous run-throughs were “too chaotic.” They were also informed that they would no longer be able to run revised jokes by Haskins and Halpern on tape night. Both Gupta and Magee believed that the changes were put in place to separate them from Hunt, while a letter from the showrunners’ attorney claimed that those changes were decided upon before Gupta’s complaint.

After speaking with Haskins and Halpern, Magee strongly believed that the changes had been put in place to separate Gupta from Hunt. Gupta subsequently quit, in part because the new policies had penalized her fellow writers.

“To be clear, we have never done and would never do anything to penalize or retaliate against anyone who raised these concerns,” Haskins and Halpern said in a statement to the Times. “We are devastated that many of the inflammatory claims that have been made about us are simply not tethered to the reality of what happened.”

When Gupta resigned, Magee met with HR brass to express her concerns, after which she was stripped of nearly all writing responsibilities and was led to quit as well. CBS maintains that there was “no evidence” that Haskins or Halpern had “retaliatory intent.”

https://www.usatoday.com/story/enter...nt/4205190002/
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TV Review (Streaming)
‘The Crown’ Season 3 is still gorgeous, even if the Queen is scarce
By Kelly Lawler, USA Today - Nov. 15, 2019

There is nothing uneasy about the new head that wears "The Crown."

In Season 3 of Netflix's Emmy-winning chronicle of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, Oscar winner Olivia Colman steps into Claire Foy's kitten heels to play the British sovereign, as the series moves into the 1960s and 1970s and Elizabeth matures from a young, unsure Queen to a fortysomething jaded monarch.

The big risk pays off, as the season (streaming Nov. 17, ★★★ out of four) is as fascinating and gorgeous as the first two: enough differences to add intrigue but enough familiarity to provide a continuing narrative. Season 3 maintains the sure-footed march through the major episodes in contemporary United Kingdom history.

Along with Elizabeth, the rest of the core cast also ages up with new actors, including Helena Bonham Carter, who steps into the role of Princess Margaret, Tobias Menzies, who takes on Prince Phillip, Ben Daniels as Antony Armstrong-Jones and Charles Dance, who offers a wizened performances as Lord Mountbatten. Next-generation royals Princess Anne (Erin Doherty) and Prince Charles (Josh O'Connor) are also now old enough in the series' timeline to have stories of their own.

Despite replacing its strong original cast, the new actors are so akin to their counterparts that "Crown" effortlessly transitions from the old to the new. A scene in the season premiere in which Elizabeth ponders her new portrait on British stamps to reflect her advanced age seems hardly necessary to remind the audience that she's the same character Foy embodied.

The new season covers Britain's rocky transition into the modern era, including Prime Minister Harold Wilson's (Jason Watkins) tenure, the devaluation of the pound, the Aberfan disaster and the 1972 mining strike. The royal family also struggles to reckon with modernity, as Margaret and Tony's marriage collapses, a documentary explores the Windsors' inner workings, and Charles meets his first love, Camilla Shand (Emerald Fennell).

As in the first two seasons, the acting, costuming and production design are highlights of the series. Bonham Carter is her usually delightful, whimsical self, and Margaret seems like the role she has been waiting her whole life to play. Menzies, who carved a niche as an odious and bumbling supporting character in historical fantasy series ("The Terror," "Game of Thrones") is the most accomplished at embodying his predecessor in the role (Matt Smith). Although the writers’ continuing fascination with Phillip (he is the primary focus of two episodes) remains an oddity that weakens the series.

The best addition is O'Connor, who nails a carbon copy impression of the Prince of Wales' accent and mannerisms, turning a public figure often portrayed negatively into a sympathetic (if incredibly naive) young man. The storyline of his heartbreaking romance with Camilla (which, as we know, takes decades to resolve) is a highlight of the season.

However, as good as Season 3 is, "The Crown" still faces a deep conceptual problem that's been put into stark relief in new episodes: Elizabeth is no longer the most interesting figure in her own story. Colman is conspicuously absent through much of the season, which focuses more heavily on Phillip, Margaret and Charles, and her role in her family members' stories is nominal at best. Despite the marquee position of Colman in the opening credits, "Crown" doesn't feel like her show.

That's less the fault of the actors or creator and writer Peter Morgan than of history. The simple fact is that the Queen is too good at being royal, bland, uncontroversial and dully inscrutable. Her family fills the gossip pages of British tabloids, but she stands stoically by in her charming suits and pearls clutching a handbag, and steadfastness doesn’t make for entertaining television.

Tinkering with the historical record and a bevy of seasoned British thespians can't change this fundamental aspect of the monarch. In any other series, this would mark a natural evolution of character and story as the show ages. But this isn't "The Windsors" or "The Crowns," and downplaying Elizabeth in this series is jarring and distracting. It’s a shame because both Foy and Colman are so deliciously well-suited for the role. Watching Colman passively sit by as Menzies waxes poetically about the moon landing feels so wasteful of an actress at the height of her career.

Even if "The Crown" can't pull Elizabeth back to the center of the narrative, viewers' fascination with the royals is unlikely to ebb. The series remains fully capable of making the family a little less mysterious and a little more entertaining. And as the timeline approaches scandals and romances we know and love (Princess Diana! The Royal Wedding! Charles' affair!), the melodrama from everyone but Elizabeth might be enough.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/enter...ix/4163317002/
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Nielsen Overnights (Broadcast)
Friday Ratings: ‘Hawaii Five-0’ Dethrones ‘WWE SmackDown’ From Night’s Top Honors
By Bruce Haring, Deadline.com - Nov. 16, 2019

Hawaii Five-0 has climbed off the mat and upset reigning Friday night ratings champ WWE Smackdown.

The long-running crimestopper show held its 0.7 demo rating for adults 18-49, while drawing 7.32 million in total audience, up slightly from the week before. That also boosted its trailing shows, as Magnum P.I. and Blue Bloods also held steady, with Blue Bloods capturing the night’s largest audience with 7.47 million viewers.

Despite losing the individual show honors, Fox was the overall network winner by a tick. Fox saw WWE SmackDown edge down with 2.61 million viewers and an 0.7, taking a dive from its previous tally of 0.9 and 2.61 million viewers.

At NBC, The Blacklist was down a tick to 0.5, while Dateline took the up elevator, up a tenth to 0.6 and gaining audience by enlisting 3.59 million viewers.

ABC saw American Housewife down after a week off, dropping a tenth to 0.6. Fresh Off the Boat held on to its 0.5, and newsmag 20/20 was up a tenth to 0.6.

The CW saw Charmed up a tenth, hitting an 0.2, while Dynasty held to its 0.1 from last week.

https://deadline.com/2019/11/friday-...mp-1202788035/
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TV Notes (Streaming)
After Backlash, Disney Plus Will Make ‘The Simpsons’ Available in Original Uncropped Format in Early 2020
By Todd Spangler, Variety.com - Nov. 16, 2019

Eep! After an outcry from “The Simpsons” aficionados, Disney has decided to offer classic episodes of the iconic animated sitcom on Disney Plus in their original 4-by-3 aspect ratio early next year.

The streaming service launched Nov. 12 in the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands with the full batch of “Simpsons” episodes in 16-by-9 HD format, which cropped out key details from older episodes — and angered many fans.

In a statement, Disney said it launched “The Simpsons” in 16:9 aspect ratio at launch “in order to guarantee visual quality and consistency across all 30 seasons.”

“Over time, Disney+ will roll out new features and additional viewing options,” the company said. “As part of this, in early 2020, Disney+ will make the first 19 seasons (and some episodes from Season 20) of ‘The Simpsons’ available in their original 4:3 aspect ratio, giving subscribers a choice of how they prefer to view the popular series.”

The problem with cropping older “Simpsons” eps in 16:9 format was that it literally destroyed some of the show’s jokes. In one widely cited example, Tristan Cooper of CH Media’s Dorkly and CollegeHumor pointed out this scene showing how Disney Plus users wouldn’t get the gag about how three varieties of Duff beer all come from the same source: [CLICK LINK AT BOTTOM]

The Mouse House announced earlier this year that Disney Plus would be the exclusive subscription VOD home of “The Simpsons.” That came shortly after Disney closed a deal to buy big pieces of 21st Century Fox, including “Simpsons” producer 20th Century Fox Television.

“The Simpsons,” from creator and executive producer Matt Groening, was renewed for Seasons 31 and 32 earlier this year by the Fox broadcast network (now part of the new Fox Corp.). At the end of Season 32, the show will have produced 713 episodes total. “The Simpsons” is the longest-running primetime scripted TV show in history, having surpassed “Gunsmoke” last year during season 29.

https://variety.com/2019/digital/new...ed-1203407099/
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post #33025 of 33429 Old 11-17-2019, 08:53 AM - Thread Starter
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TV Notes (Cable)
Mormon Alert! The Real Housewives Franchise Is Heading to Salt Lake City
By Devon Ivie, Vulture.com (New York Magazine) - Nov. 16, 2019

Time to brush up on the liquor laws pioneered by Utah’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. We’re quizzing you later! Andy Cohen confirmed on Saturday that Salt Lake City will be the newest city joining the esteemed Real Housewives franchise on Bravo.

Per People, Cohen announced the news at the network’s annual fan convention, where he was effusive in his praise of the beehive state. “I have to tell you, in Utah, you’ve got the majesty of the mountains, you’ve got the majesty of the Mormon religion, you’ve got an exclusive community of people who have very successful businesses who live in their own universe,” he said. “It is gorgeous and I think you’re going to be really surprised and intrigued by the group of women we’ve found.” Cohen added that the city was chosen due to being “unique” and a bit of a “curveball.”

RHOSLC (get used to that acronym, sorry) is the newest city for the franchise in three years. Back in 2016, we were blessed with Potomac and Dallas shows, while long-standing favorites Orange County, New York City, Atlanta, and New Jersey have all now reached double-digit season counts. But just answer us now, Bravo: How many polygamists are we getting?

https://www.vulture.com/2019/11/real...franchise.html
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TV Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Nov. 17, 2019

THE CROWN
Netflix, 3:00 a.m. ET
SEASON PREMIERE:
It doesn’t take long for Olivia Colman, who takes the baton from Seasons 1 and 2 star Claire Foy and inherits the starring role of Queen Elizabeth II, to hit the ground running. In fact, she establishes her royal command of the role instantly, in this new Season 3’s opening seconds. Foy was brilliant; Colman, as an elder version of the same complicated leader, is equally convincing and compelling. It may be the best tag-team acting since Robert De Niro and Marlon Brando played the younger and older Vito Corleone in the Godfather movies.

RAY DONOVAN
Showtime, 8:00 p.m. ET
SEASON PREMIERE:
This is Season 7 for Ray Donovan, and poor Ray (Liev Schreiber) has been having a very tough time of it. In previous seasons, he’s lost his wife, almost lost his daughter, and now, in a plotline with echoes of The Sopranos, this tough guy tries to work things out by seeing a therapist. But appointments are hard to schedule, because, once again, the police are after him. Something about a cop with a severed head…

SHANE
TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

“Shane! Come back!” And he has. Tonight, in prime time, TCM presents this wonderful 1953 Western, directed by George Stevens with one eye on character and another on mood and action. Alan Ladd is great in the title role – but equally great, playing the roles of leading lady and ruthless villain, are Jean Arthur and Jack Palance. And Brandon De Wilde, as the boy who begs Shane to return, is memorably effective as well.

WATCHMEN
HBO, 9:00 p.m. ET

Tonight, as tensions escalate between police and their elusive, menacing quarry, we get the origin story of Looking Glass (Tim Blake Nelson) – or, as Jean Smart’s Laurie Blake calls him, “Mirror guy.”

SHAMELESS
Showtime, 9:00 p.m. ET

Jeremy Allen White’s Lip has an even more weighty responsibility, as the father of a new baby. One Gallagher leaves on Shameless, as Emmy Rossum’s Fiona did at the end of last season, and another one, a very tiny and needy one, takes her place.

BACK TO LIFE
Showtime, 10:00 p.m. ET
Episodes 3 and 4.
Daisy Haggard continues her strong starring role here as Miri Matteson, who’s back in her small seaside town after serving 18 years in prison for a murder conviction. But did she do it? These episodes drop more insight into that question, as well as a lot more information about the people around her in this small town, and what they were doing, with and to Miri, all those years ago. And in the present, she encounters some niceness – but only between bouts of awkwardness and cruelty. And keep watching after the closing credits roll: Showtime is presenting this British import in double doses, so two new episodes are shown in the 10-11 p.m. ET hour.

MRS. FLETCHER
HBO, 10:30 p.m. ET

Given the relationship between Kathryn Hahn’s empty-nest mother and her new-to-college son, not to mention her new amorous relationship with one of the former classmates her son used to torment in high school, tonight’s episode title, “Parents’ Weekend,” promises a lot of conflict.

LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER
HBO, 11:00 p.m. ET

Impeachment hearings on Wednesday, more impeachment hearings on Friday, and John Oliver on Sunday. Three unmissable politically charged TV events of this week – but only one of them will make you laugh. Or should.


http://www.tvworthwatching.com/

* * * *

TV Review (Cable)
Liev Schreiber Returns For Another Brilliant Turn as 'Ray Donovan'
By David Hinckley, TVWorthWatching.com's 'All Along the Watchtower' - Nov. 17, 2019

It can happen to anyone, really.

You kill a corrupt cop, decapitate him, toss his head into the water and figure that's that.

Then suddenly his head bobs up to the surface, some fisherman hooks it, and you have to find an explanation. It's time-consuming and inconvenient, and it's just one more thing on the title character's crowded plate as Showtime's Ray Donovan starts its seventh season at 8 p.m. ET Sunday.

Sharp-eyed fans will note that this is earlier than Ray Donovan has aired in past years. This does not mean it has modified its content to fit the old "family hour" guidelines.

First and foremost, in the new season, Liev Schreiber remains terrific as Donovan, the unhappiest fixer/cleaner/hitman on television. It's one of those deals where he's excellent at his job and doesn't really like his job.

We all know people in that situation, right? Maybe not the hitman part, but the job frustration part.

Like many troubled TV characters who hold morally and legally marginal jobs – think Tony Soprano – Ray has always seemed to tell himself that he redeems his life because he loves and protects his family.

Equally true, his family is also a primary reason he's persistently unhappy in the first place. That unhappiness largely flows from his father Mick (Jon Voight), who Ray describes to his shrink Dr. Arthur Arniot (Alan Alda) as "a piece of s---."

Played beautifully by Voight, Mick doesn't have many redeeming traits. As this new season begins, he's about to go back to prison – part of the way Ray and the other Donovans are resolving that bobbing head problem. To be fair, there's an element of selflessness here, too, since he's doing it to shelter another son, the hapless Bunchy (Dash Mihok).

In fact, the whole Donovan family had a hand in that murder, plus another one that occurred in the same sequence of events. Mick, Ray, Bunchy, and the two other Donovan brothers, Terry (Eddie Marsan) and Daryll (Pooch Hall), had all joined forces to rescue Ray's daughter Bridget (Kerris Dorsey) after two corrupt cops very unwisely kidnapped her.

The Donovan posse, abetted by Bridget's naïve and appalled fiancé/husband Smitty Smith (Graham Rogers), ended up killing the two cops, while a third corrupt cop killed himself.

To open the new season, Ray must sort all that out, in addition to keeping up with clients like corrupt Mayor Ed Ferrati (Zach Grenier). Fortunately, he seems to have at least partly repaired his relationship with his essential investigative assistant Lena Barnum (Katherine Moennig), who has always been one of the best things about the show.

Over on the psychological side, Ray remains haunted by the unavoidable fact that his life decisions made Bridget vulnerable and now is leading her toward the same life he lives. He doesn't really want it for himself, and he definitely doesn't want it for her.

That's where Dr. Arniot comes in. Hey, Dr. Melfi worked wonders for Tony Soprano, right?

Meanwhile, Terry runs into a New Age-y woman who lures him to her place by suggesting she can help arrest his Parkinson's Disease, and Bunchy gets a new job that probably shocks the rest of the Donovan family because it's legitimate.

Family togetherness comes and goes on Ray Donovan, and all this latest activity seems to have swung the pendulum back toward harmony. They're still fractured and dysfunctional, but they're glad to have each other. "Strange how people who have suffered together," Bob Dylan sang, "have stronger connections than people who are most content."

Ray is terrific at solving other corrupt people's problems. He's not so terrific at finding a way to live with himself, which is one reason Ray Donovan remains an intriguing show to follow.

As with many of his fellow antiheroes, we don't want him to fail. At the same time, what he's doing shouldn't be earning rewards. When the severed head bobs to the surface, it's hard to say it's all good.

http://www.tvworthwatching.com/BlogP...x?postId=19150
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post #33027 of 33429 Old 11-18-2019, 10:14 AM - Thread Starter
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Media/Production Notes
Dave Franco, Bill Murray, and more to star in Farrelly brothers' Quibi series The Now
By Tyler Aquilina, EW.com

At last, more details are starting to emerge on the bounty of projects coming to Quibi.

Dave Franco, O’Shea Jackson Jr., and Daryl Hannah are among the main cast announced for The Now, a comedy series from Peter Farrelly and Bobby Farrelly. Bill Murray and Alyssa Milano will also appear in recurring roles. Jimmy Tatro (American Vandal), Rob Yang (Succession), and Lex Scott Davis (The First Purge) round out the announced cast.

The show, directed by the Farrellys and co-written by Peter, Steve Leff, and Pete Jones, follows Ed Poole (Franco), a man who resolves to “just live in the now” when a secret from his past emerges and seemingly wrecks his future. Further plot and character details are still being kept under wraps, though an earlier plot summary described the show as the story of a suicidal man whose brother and father have already died by suicide.

Quibi is set to launch on April 6, 2020, joining the ever-growing raft of streaming services on the market. The brainchild of former Disney and DreamWorks executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, the mobile-only platform will specialize in “quick bites” of content running 10 minutes or less. Among the many other projects in the works for Quibi are a court show starring Chrissy Teigen and a daily late-night recap show from EW.

https://ew.com/tv/2019/11/15/dave-fr...quibi-the-now/
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post #33028 of 33429 Old 11-18-2019, 10:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Nielsen Overnights (Broadcast)
Vanessa Bayer-Led Comedy Big Deal Scores Pilot Order at Showtime
By Rebecca Iannucci, TVLine.com

In case you hadn’t heard, Vanessa Bayer is kind of a Big Deal.

Showtime has handed a pilot order to the SNL alum’s comedy project, just over a year after it went into development, TVLine has learned.

Inspired by Bayer’s own past, Big Deal stars the actress as a woman who overcame childhood leukemia to achieve her lifelong dream of landing a job as a QVC host. Bayer will also executive-produce the half-hour comedy alongside SNL scribe Jeremy Beiler, while Michael Showalter (Search Party) will direct and Jessi Klein (Big Mouth) will serve as showrunner.

“Vanessa Bayer is such a sharp and joyful comic talent, and in Big Deal she mines the story of her own life to deliver hard comedy with deep resonance,” said Gary Levine, co-president of entertainment at Showtime. “In Jeremy, Jessi and Michael, we have a veritable all-star team who never fail to deliver smart, subversive and funny comedy — which Big Deal certainly promises to be.”

In addition to her seven years on Saturday Night Live, Bayer’s TV credits include Single Parents, Will & Grace and Drunk History. She’ll also guest-star in a Season 7 episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, where she’ll reunite with former SNL co-star Andy Samberg.

https://tvline.com/2019/11/18/vaness...rder-showtime/
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TV/Legal Notes
Ex-NBC correspondent Bruce Hensel arrested for asking 9-year-old for sexual photos
By Lia Eustachewich, New York Post

An Emmy-winning former medical correspondent for NBC was arrested for allegedly asking a 9-year-old girl to send him sexually explicit photos, according to new reports.

Dr. Bruce Hensel, 71, was charged Wednesday with asking the daughter of a friend through an online messaging app for the photos in August, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Hensel, who worked as the on-air chief medical correspondent for NBC New York and Los Angeles, faces one felony count of contact with a minor for sexual purposes.

The Los Angeles Police Department launched an investigation into Hensel after they learned he and the girl shared inappropriate messages and photos. Hensel’s home in the Pacific Palisades was searched on Oct. 16 as per a search warrant.

He was booked into the Los Angeles Police Department’s Metropolitan Detention Center and his bail was set at $5,000. His arraignment will be at a later date.

If convicted, he faces up to 18 months in prison.

His lawyer, Steve Sitkoff, said his arrest came as a surprise.

“We are cooperating fully with the authorities and we are looking forward to a speedy and complete exoneration,” Sitkoff told NBC4 in Los Angeles.

Hensel, who is board certified in internal medicine and emergency medicine, joined NBC4 in 1987.

He was the executive producer on the Showtime show “Beyond the Opposite Sex” last year.

https://nypost.com/2019/11/14/ex-nbc...sexual-photos/
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post #33030 of 33429 Old 11-18-2019, 10:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Technology Notes/Review (Gaming)
Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield Carry the Franchise to a New Plateau
By Patrick Lucas Austin, TIME.com

Since 1996, the Pokémon franchise hasn’t strayed far from its simple premise of capturing and battling colorful, cartoonish “pocket monsters.” But if you think you’re too old for the latest double-feature, Pokémon Sword and Shield for the Nintendo Switch, you’re missing out on one of the greatest entries in the franchise, one that delivers a wide-ranging adventure whether at home on your TV or on the go in your hands.

The franchise’s biggest challenge might be living up to the impossible task of being all things to all fans. After over 20 years of games, who is Pokémon really for at this point? For a new generation of children perhaps unfamiliar with its role-playing game aspect, Pokemon must be approachable and attention-grabbing. For veterans, the franchise must deliver on the promise of collecting them all, as well as showcase a steady stream of improvements in both gameplay, aesthetics and story. For everyone else, Pokémon must feature at least one sighting of the iconic electric mouse, Pikachu.

In Pokémon Sword, you assume the role of a budding Pokémon trainer exploring the bucolic, Great Britain-inspired Galar Region. You spend your time battling each city’s Gym leader to become the next Pokémon Champion. You’ll trudge through tall grass, caves and bodies of water to catch and train your roster, fighting with opponents and sparring with allies along the way.

Here, trainers are treated like athletes — sponsorships included — and battle in colossal stadiums, complete with cheering fans. Running out from the locker room to the pitch makes every major match with a Gym leader feel like a true sporting event. In these stadium matches you can use the new “Dynamax” feature to grow your Pokémon to gargantuan size. It’s a fun gimmick, but one you could easily avoid if you want to up the difficulty yourself.

The new Wild Area puts you in an open-world region where Pokémon roam freely in both tall grass and on the very trails you travel. Its changing environment means you’ll encounter different Pokémon depending on factors like weather. Entering the Wild Area while online will reveal (and let you interact with) fellow human trainers camping, looking for Pokémon or banding together to take down supersized Dynamax Pokémon. It’s a great addition to a game that’s always felt surprisingly solitary, even with the idea of meeting and trading Pokémon with people so ingrained into its gameplay for so long.

New mechanics like sneaking through grass or traveling the world have been expanded upon as well, and force you to stay aware as you make your way through a cave or forest. No longer will you have to deal with “random” encounters. In Sword and Shield, Pokémon sneak up on you. It’s a real treat, one that exhibits how alive the world feels.

While developer Game Freak has made strides in ensuring you can amass your collection of pocket monsters — Pokémon Bank functions as a cloud storage option for older Pokémon games — not every creature is in this iteration. Some fans of the company’s longtime “gotta catch ‘em all!” slogan may feel betrayed by the lack of an 800-plus roster of Pokémon to choose from, it’s been relatively impossible to amass the entire collection until quite recently anyway. Game Freak responded to the roster controversy, referring to the sheer number of Pokémon as a problem in terms of competitive gameplay as well as fidelity when it comes to making each included Pokémon feel like more than a static model.

That explains why almost everything in Pokémon Sword looks awesome, including the Pokémon. Developer Game Freak ditched the two-dimensional aesthetic in 2013 with the Nintendo 3DS’ Pokémon X & Y, and has gone on to offer even more refined versions of the game’s selection of creatures. The graphical overhaul encompasses everything from Pokémon (setting up a campground lets you play with, or cook for, your team) to your character (who can don new outfits and accessories).

But with that graduation comes a new set of challenges, challenges Pokémon Sword hasn’t yet mastered. Navigating menus still feels like an antiquated experience, and still occasionally frustrates despite welcome improvements to team management. In a game so full of well-implemented ideas, it’s a minor but persistent annoyance.

And then there’s the story. Pokémon has never been particularly strong in terms of its narrative — you are, for the most part, a young trainer capturing monsters, fighting fellow adventurers, and stopping the “villain of the week” style group or individual (in this case, the unruly “Team Yell” gang) from enacting their evil, clichéd scheme. Sword, unfortunately, doesn’t change much in terms of structure, and will leave you mostly nonplussed.

The low stakes, childish dialogue and lack of voice acting left a disappointing void where one would expect a character’s enthusiasm or personal mission to slot in perfectly. The more you play, the more you’ll wonder why they didn’t give all these beautifully rendered, eccentric characters dotting the region actual lines to utter. Even during the final encounter with the story’s antagonist, I longed for them to say literally anything instead of reading their monologue in a cutscene.

Minor missteps aside, Pokémon Sword does a formidable job of elevating the series, encapsulating what it means to be a Pokémon trainer. Toward the end of the story, as I approached the final series of battles for the title of Pokémon Champion, I grew surprisingly serious, a familiar feeling welling up after being dormant for over a decade. It was the anticipation of a difficult Pokémon battle, and the uncertainty it entailed. After my defeat, I chuckled aloud, processing what just happened and where I screwed up. You’ll lose more than a few matches if you’re not careful, if you’re unprepared or if you’re arrogant about your six-pack of pocket monsters. But when you play your cards right to send your opponents home, you’ll realize what separates the trainers from the masters, and what puts Pokémon Sword in a league of its own.

https://time.com/5730289/pokemon-swo...ntendo-switch/
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