Television

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‘Poldark’ Recap: Part 1

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We begin in America, with a group of soldiers taking a break from the Revolutionary War. But there’s a twist! Even though Part One of Poldark is being broadcast on PBS, our boys aren’t Americans, and fictional versions of the Founding Fathers are nowhere to be found. Instead, the fighters are none other than Redcoats, and our dashing hero Ross Poldark is one of them — until he gets knocked out by an ambush.
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Jack Black and Aasif Mandvi in "The Brink"

HBO’s ‘The Brink’ Is a Slow Boil, But Worth the Wait

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The odd thing about reviewing new television shows — which your film editor is occasionally lucky enough to do — is that you end up binge-watching shows that aren’t intended to be seen that way. Unless you’re reviewing the latest Netflix series, you’re not experiencing a new show the way most hesitant potential viewers will: one episode at a time, once a week, quite possibly resting the program’s DVR-or-not fate on how well its initial outing sits. Yet this massive dump of episodes can have a positive effect, and that’s the case with HBO’s new geopolitical comedy The Brink. It’s a show that starts uncertainly, wearing its influences a bit too starkly, before finding its particular groove and settling in with its characters. It’s a good show, but it takes a minute to get there.
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Even The Rock Can’t Save HBO’s ‘Ballers’

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It makes perfect sense that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is starring in a sports comedy from HBO. It’s a natural progression for the action star who has proven, time and time again, that he is a talented  actor with a preternatural knack for nailing every line he’s given (a skill wrestlers hone in the ring, due to the ridiculous promos they have to deliver with total seriousness). A sports comedy is right up his alley — he easily embodies the character of Spencer, a retired football player (like Johnson) currently working as a financial manager for athletes. It gives Johnson room to have a little more fun on screen and to show off his comedic timing. The problem is that the series, not Johnson, is incredibly disappointing. 
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‘True Detective’ Remains Addictive in Season 2 — Just Don’t Compare It to Season 1

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It seems like there is an unspoken rule that before we consider the second season of True Detective, we have to reevaluate the first, a tour de force that caught everyone off guard, and that either stuck or blew the landing, depending on who you ask. The bleak buddy cop show brought forth a (sigh) McConaissance, united the Internet in some of our favorite TV-related activities — predicting, theorizing over, and arguing about how it would end, and then continuing that argument long after we knew how it did end — and eventually even crashed HBOGo. So it’s only natural that this second season is one of the most highly anticipated follow-ups in recent memory. This means, of course, that it is also nearly impossible to live up to the hype — but the show does try.
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Colbert’s ‘Late Show’ Bandleader Jon Batiste on How Music Can Unite America Right Now

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Perhaps even more than Michael McDonald, Jon Batiste’s whole thing revolves around taking it to the streets. The Stay Human bandleader and come September, the official “musical friend” on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show has built his career around the kinds of performances that are common in his hometown of New Orleans. But his spontaneous shows aren’t not some flashmob gimmick: Batiste grounds his approach in pure humanism, so much so that it borders on political.
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Amazon’s Knocked-Up Romantic Comedy ‘Catastrophe’ Is Effortlessly Charming

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“A terrible thing has happened. Let’s make the best of it,” Rob (Rob Delaney) tells Sharon (Sharon Horgan) early in Catastrophe, and it’s a line that sets the tone for the rest of the series: bleakly funny, with a mixture of pessimism and optimism that deftly work together to boost the humor. In Catastrophe, which was co-created and co-written by Delaney and Horgan, two people meet at a bar, have sex “like, 25 times in a week” but use a condom “maybe only twice,” and, as sitcoms demand, find out that they’re about to be parents despite knowing nothing about each other. But this isn’t about growing up and accepting responsibility, it’s about coming together — albeit because of an impending child — with someone you’re growing to love.
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‘The Astronaut Wives Club’ Isn’t the Great New Period Drama ‘Mad Men’ Fans Are Waiting For

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The Astronaut Wives Club, premiering Thursday night on ABC, is the kind of TV show that is impossible to watch without starting to guess at how it was pitched. Mad Men meets Desperate HousewivesMasters of Sex, starring the Stepford Wives? Pan Am, but farther off the ground? Unfortunately, it isn’t just the past several years’ vogue for TV dramas set in the mid-20th century that prompts this inquiry — it’s also the fact that the series is a jumble of obligatory themes and half-baked characterizations cribbed from other shows to form something that feels simultaneously overstuffed and underwritten.
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COMPLICATIONS -- "Pilot" Episode 100 -- Pictured: Jason O'Mara as Dr. John Ellison -- (Photo by: Daniel McFadden/USA Network)

‘Complications’ Is More Than Just Another USA Procedural — But It’s Not as Smart as It Thinks, Either

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I love watching USA original series, even if I fully understand that some of them aren’t what you would call “good.” USA procedurals work because they are silly and repetitive enough for pleasant, background, doing-chores-around-the-house watching: current shows like Royal Pains or past shows like Psych, and Burn Notice are prime examples. There have been some departures from the formula — Suits is losing steam, but it often works best as a combination law procedural and serialized narrative; Satisfaction‘s first season seemed like it was aiming to be a character-driven series in the prestige-drama style — but USA has yet to stick the landing. Matt Nix’s (Burn Notice) upcoming medical drama Complications  is the latest example of an ambitious USA show that is admirably trying to do something different but that still doesn’t quite work.
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