‘Boardwalk Empire’ Season 5 Episode 2 Recap: “The Good Listener”

After last week’s premiere made it loud and clear that the final season of Boardwalk Empire is gonna be All About Nucky, the show had some extra groundwork to cover tonight. Nucky’s still around and very much in focus, hunting down legitimate business partners and ruminating on his terrible father figures. But virtually all of the supporting players from “Golden Days for Boys and Girls” have been swapped out, showing just how much pipe laying was pushed aside in favor of flashbacks and cute Cuban kids. Case in point: we’re a quarter of the way through the season, and we only just got to Chicago! … Read More

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Watch: Frances McDormand and Bill Murray Stare at Rural Things in HBO’s “Olive Kitteridge” Trailer

Rural New England! Gun! The weathered stares of Frances McDormand and Bull Murray! Moody Martha Wainwright song! The words “Pulitzer… Read More

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‘The Newsroom’, ‘The Comeback’, and ‘Getting On’ Premiere Dates

HBO announced premiere dates for three fall shows including the third season of The Newsroom, the return of The Comeback, and the… Read More

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‘The Leftovers’ Season 1 Finale Recap: “The Prodigal Son Returns”

Was The Leftovers worth it? I’ve been pondering this question for the back half of Season 1. I’ve mentioned the ups and downs of the season quite a bit and how a superb episode would sometimes be followed by a subpar episode that made everything unfocused. Mostly, however, I’ve been thinking a lot about the people (friends and critics) who have given up on the show because of the grotesque violence — the way the camera unflinchingly remained on Gladys’ beat and bloodied face or Patti’s fate in the woods. Outside of the violence is hopelessness, despair, and depression — not exactly things to cheer you up on a Sunday night — so the question is: Was the season good enough to justify sticking around and wading through the darkness? The finale makes a case for it. … Read More

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‘Boardwalk Empire’ Season 5 Premiere Recap: “Golden Days for Boys and Girls”

The fifth and final season of Boardwalk Empire begins with an epigraph of sorts, a treacly rhyme from the 1884 pamphlet that gives the premiere episode its title. “Be honest and true boys, whatever you do boys,” a woman’s voice intones. “Let this be your motto for life.” Nucky Thompson has good reason to return to the poem: he first read it in his final days on the straight and narrow path, a path he’s trying to get back on after decades of political corruption and bootlegging. Which is why an observation from the head of Bacardi, though it may not open and close the premiere, is a far better summation of the episode’s major theme: “It’s always wise to have an exit arranged.” … Read More

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‘The Simpsons,’ ‘The Wire,’ and Why You Should Care About Cropped TV Shows

“I hold this truth to be self-evident, that all movies deserve to be seen in their original aspect ratios,” Roger Ebert wrote in 2001, describing a Chicago outdoor film series where classic movies were being “cropped” to create a widescreen presentation — leading, he fumed, to a screening of An American in Paris where “the projector was cutting off, among other things, Gene Kelly’s feet” and a Top Hat presentation “cutting off of the even more sublime feet of Astaire and Rogers.” That series was presented by HBO, who elected to screen the films in widescreen “so that people will not think we’re showing television.” That was 13 years ago, before HDTV put a wide screen in everyone’s living room, and now even television itself isn’t safe. Hard on the heels of FXX’s Simpsons marathon, which cropped all of the show’s pre-2009 episodes, HBO has announced a “remastering” of The Wire, and rumor has it that show will be cropped to widescreen as well. We’re seeing a trend here. And it’s a genuinely worrisome one. … Read More

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‘The Leftovers’ Season 1 Episode 9 Recap: “The Garveys at Their Best”

There is an alternate world where “The Garveys at Their Best” would be the pilot episode of The Leftovers. It’s the penultimate of the season but the way it sort of reintroduces the characters — putting them into a different context: pre-Sudden Departure, vaguely happier though not explicitly content — and the way it shows the events leading up to October 14th would work as the first episode. Instead it’s snuck in between last week’s bloody cliffhanger and next week’s season finale. It’s a better decision (and we all know Lindelof is skilled at these sneaky flashback episodes) and the episode as a whole is fantastic. … Read More

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