Girls, Boardwalk Empire, and Mad Men are just a few of the current series that push the boundaries of how we view television, but there have been numerous TV shows that stretched the limits of prime time. Controversy has followed trailblazing showrunners and writers who introduced graphic stories, radical characters, and uncomfortable subjects to an audience of millions watching at home. We’ve rounded up ten of the most controversial television episodes and found out what their creators had to say about them. … Read More
There must be something in the air this week, because on the same morning that Glee‘s flaccid attempt at Radiohead’s “Creep” did the rounds on various music blogs, World of Wonder reposted Barbra Streisand’s bewildering cover of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars.” This double dose of ghastliness got us thinking about the singular hubris of so many covers that purport to “improve” a song by removing exactly what made it special in the first place. The history of music is littered with these boring renditions of great songs, so for a laugh on a Friday afternoon, here’s a roundup of the most egregious. Try not to throw your computer out the window before you get to the end. … Read More
Sunday night, viewers of History’s hit miniseries The Bible (haven’t read the book; does the show work as a standalone?) were given their first look at Satan — and several immediately took to Twitter, pointing out what they saw as a marked resemblance to the President. Good ol’ Glenn Beck led the way, tweeting “Anyone else think the Devil in #TheBible Sunday on HIstory (sic) Channel looks exactly like That Guy?” (Beck apparently uses “That Guy” as a substitute for Obama, whose name he refuses to say, because Glenn Beck is a child.) Though the show’s producers have dismissed the connection, we’ve gotta say — he’s kind of a dead ringer. On the other hand, politicians are so ubiquitous that it’s pretty easy to find resemblances in pop culture. Don’t believe us? Here’s a few more examples. … Read More
This week, we read a great article over at Vulture on the state of the romantic comedy — or more specifically, its rapid decline in recent years. In the article, studio execs and directors throw around possible reasonings (they don’t have enough production values to justify a big-screen viewing, we just don’t care about love as much anymore), but as Vulture’s Claude Brodesser-Akner pointed out, “though the genre is suffering at the box office, it is hard to believe that the very idea of a romantic comedy is completely losing favor. After all, what are sitcoms’ “will-they-won’t-they” arcs other than long romantic comedies?” Indeed.
In fact, while there have always been “rom-com” sitcoms (Mad About You, Friends), we feel like we’ve seen an uptick in both the number and quality in recent years. We also tend to care about characters in TV shows more than we do for their film counterparts — after all, when you spend time with the same characters week after week, over months or years, you tend to be more invested in their exploits. After the jump, we take a look at a few TV shows that could be replacing our need to see romantic comedies in the theaters. Do you agree, or do you think that despite the current rocky ground, traditional rom-coms will always have a place in our hearts? … Read More
Are you as tired of lazy generalizations about musical theater as I am? With Broadway’s move onto both the cinema and television screen, these generalizations have only gotten sloppier. For starters, we could at least separate the films from the television series. Critics speak as if Glee, Pitch Perfect, and Smash were all the same thing – and that thing they condense them into is deemed, ultimately, pretty awful. With the heavy anticipation for Tom Hooper’s film adaptation of Les Miserables, I’ve only been reminded of how very boring the Broadway backlash can be. Over at Grantland’s 2012 Oscar Roundtable, we were told that, “Gloriously, there doesn’t even seem to be anything ridiculous in the running for a nomination at this point, unless the Les Mis hype is coming from the same unfortunate place that leads people to watch Smash.” I mean, I guess Les Mis and Smash are the same thing, and I guess their viewers can’t tell a star-driven remake of a famous rock opera apart from a television series about an unknown musical performed by unknown stars. … Read More
When Glee came on the scene in 2009, it ushered in a new TV business model, one predicated on mega iTunes, merchandise, and concert ticket sales. During the initial media blitz Fox said it hoped to keep the show’s original, quirky feel, and four seasons later it’s easy to see how that turned out. When the shiny parts recede into the background, when we snap out of Blaine Warbler’s entrancing rendition of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” it’s difficult to defend what the show’s become (empty, sloppy, and just way too big).
That said, Dexter’s recent late-in-the game surge reminded us it’s not impossible to turn things around, and in Glee’s defense it’s markedly improved from last season. Last week’s “Break Up” showed guts and delivered an emotionally satisfying conclusion to some pretty big story arcs. The show’s clearly made some positive changes, and if it can tighten up, remember some fundamentals from its incredible first season, and still move forward, we think it could get its mojo back. Below we’ve outlined some ideas to save the once beloved (and great) show, because as Mr. Schue taught us from day one, Glee Club is all about reinvention. … Read More
1. In case you missed Breaking Bad creator/executive producer Vince Gilligan on The Colbert Report last night, here’s the interview. While he refuses to reveal to Colbert how the show will end, their “meth off” alone makes this clip a must-see.
2. Apparently Julian Fellowes is thinking about doing a Downton Abbey prequel… Read More
Glee, whose fourth season premieres tonight, is at a crossroads. At this point, the once-revolutionary musical comedy-drama has alienated most of the critics (and, judging by its falling ratings, some of the viewers) who once rallied around its quirky storylines and underdog characters. Perhaps that’s why, during May’s upfronts, creator Ryan Murphy announced that the show will be a bit different this year, splitting its focus to both remain at William McKinley High and follow some newly graduated characters to performing arts school in New York. Whatever the cause behind the change turns out to be, the show is clearly experiencing some growing pains. So, while we hope Glee will get it together in Season 4, we think it’s only fair to provide viewers with a (spoiler-filled) guide to spotting a teen TV show that has exceeded its expiration date. … Read More
Each September brings a flood of new shows, the best of which let us inside the world of unique and fascinating characters. But before we meet such memorable casts as those that populate Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and Lost, the actors who play those iconic roles have to convince casting agents and producers that they’re the best women and men for the job. Although far too few audition tapes are made public, we’ve tracked down some of the most interesting ones out there, each telling in its own way. Now, if only we could get AMC to give us Jon Hamm’s Don Draper casting video, we’d be totally set. … Read More