Open Thread: Movies or TV? Or Both? Or Neither?

James Wolcott loses me in the first line of his much-discussed Variety Fair piece “Prime Time’s Graduation,” which is pretty impressive, as far as those things go. “After I fell out of love with movies,” he writes, and I’ve checked out already — even more so with the parenthetical that follows: “(new movies, that is — classic Hollywood I still adulate)”. Oh goody, he’s one of those, one of the overbearing boors who insists nothing worthwhile has come out of Hollywood since Jaws, or Ben-Hur, or (if you’re a real, Bogdanovich-style purist) since the takeover of the talkies. But no, it’s worse: Mr. Wolcott is one of these inexplicable “TV is better than movies” people, and because he’s writing for one of the few remaining major glossies (to-do: write my “movies are better than magazines” piece), we now have to have this whole cultural conversation about whether television has, in fact, “surpassed” the motion picture. … Read More

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The Year’s Most Underrated TV Actors

As last week’s Golden Globe nominations reminded us, our favorite entertainers don’t always get the recognition they deserve. So, as part of Flavorpill’s end-of-year extravaganza, we’re tipping our woolen winter hat to ten TV actors who did a fantastic job in 2011 but, so far, aren’t getting a lot of credit for their success. While some play minor characters who always shine, others have been overshadowed by famous co-stars or are standouts on shows most critics and awards voters don’t take seriously. Let us know which television actors you don’t think are getting their due in the comments. … Read More

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Golden Globe Nominations 2011: Who Got Snubbed?

So, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has announced its 2011 Golden Globe nominees. We’re happy to see The Artist, Midnight in Paris, and even American Horror Story getting the love they deserve. But it isn’t all good news. As usual, many of the categories leave something to be desired. And readers? There is a whole lot of New Girl. Follow along as we grouse over the year’s biggest snubs, and add your own gripes in the comments. … Read More

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‘Treme’ Actor Found Dead in the Mississippi River

The body of 45-year-old actor Michael Showers — who had a recurring role as Capt. John Guidry of the New Orleans Police Department on Treme — has been discovered by a steamboat captain in the Mississippi River near the French Quarter. Local authorities estimate that he had been there for at least two days. … Read More

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In Defense of Last Night's Harrowing 'Treme' Episode

Last night’s episode of HBO’s Treme was difficult to watch. For a show that is often criticized for moving too slowly (this, despite the jarring suicide of a main character towards the end of its first season), it packed quite a bit of action — of the heartbreaking, tearjerking variety. Today, Salon’s Matt Zoller Seitz is denouncing the episode’s most shocking story line as a “cheap, ugly showstopper.” As someone who found the same harrowing twist to be as effective as it was devastating, I respectfully disagree.

Warning: If you don’t want Sunday’s most recent Treme episode spoiled for you, stop reading now. … Read More

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Our Hopes and Dreams for ‘Treme’ Characters in Season 2

As early as the first few minutes of last night’s Treme premiere, we felt like we had never left David Simon’s post-Katrina New Orleans. The singular characters, the obsession with music (evoked, this time, by a boy who wanders the streets playing the trumpet when his mother shoos him off the stoop), the multi-faceted portrait of a city in crisis — yes, the show that (like its predecessor, The Wire) makes almost everything else on TV look hopelessly shallow and contrived is back. Much has changed in the half-year since we left our characters. After the jump, we share our hopes for the cast in Season 2. Add yours in the comments. … Read More

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TV Shows That Did Their Classic Predecessors Proud

Treme, the quietly brilliant HBO musical drama that examines New Orleans in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, debuts this week on DVD and Blu-ray, and if you haven’t seen it, you should rent or buy it post haste. (If there is one takeaway from this post, that’s it.) The series was co-created by David Simon, the journalist-turned-TV genius behind the show that launched a thousand blog posts, the late, great The Wire. And in addition to the many things that are somewhat miraculous about Treme, there is this: It is a rare case of a follow-up television show that measures up to its iconic predecessor.

TV is a tricky business, and more often than not, the creator or primary creative force behind a big hit will go into their next series, guns a-blazing, only to find that television audiences are more fickle than they thought. Steven Bochco followed Hill Street Blues with Bay City Blues; Garry Marshall and Thomas L. Miller followed The Odd Couple with Me and the Chimp; West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin’s next show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, was a costly one-season flop for NBC; M*A*S*H show runners Gene Reynolds and Larry Gelbart’s Karen folded after five months; Amy Sherman-Palladino’s Gilmore Girls follow-up The Return of Jezebel James lasted a mere three episodes; and Mitchell Hurwitz’s Running Wilde reunited him with Arrested Development stars Will Arnett and David Cross but ran only spottily on Fox last fall before disappearing altogether. However, there are occasions when a TV series manages to equal (or even surpass) the critical and popular success of its predecessor. Join us after the jump for a look at ten television shows where lightning struck twice. … Read More

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What’s On at Flavorpill: The Links That Made the Rounds in Our Office

Today at Flavorpill, we were happy to see Emma Donoghue, Julie Orringer, and Jennifer Egan among the talented authors on the longlist for this year’s Orange Prize. We were intrigued by the results of a new study that shows that having demanding job can be just as bad for mental… Read More

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What’s On at Flavorpill: The Links That Made the Rounds in Our Office

Today at Flavorpill, we marveled at Sam Havia’s culturally relevant cassette tape paintings and the trippy art of teenage drug rehab patients. We wished we could un-see these creepy videos of monkeys wearing human masks and working as waiters. We learned that Bob Dylan actually wrote every popular… Read More

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TV’s 10 Most Depressed Characters

Has anyone else noticed that there’s no shortage of depressed characters on television these days? The National Post‘s Robert Fulford wants to know why downers make for such good television in recent times, from modern sagas to historical retellings. Whatever the reason behind such writing and its success, there are certainly plenty of morose roles out there. Here are our picks for top 10 most depressed characters on TV today. Let us know who we missed. … Read More

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