Television

Doctor Who Into the Dalek

This week, Doctor Who continued what may be the running theme of series eight: what makes Doctor Who Doctor Who. I’m not sure if that should be a statement or a question or both. Last week, the philosophical concern with his identity was a sort of “Ship of Theseus” paradox regarding his physical regenerations. Is he the same if so much of him is different? This time it’s the question of whether or not he’s good. And are any soldiers good, if they’ve killed? Is he any better than a Dalek if his hatred of them is as powerful an influence on one of them as is their intrinsic hatred of everything else? The episode, “Into the Dalek,” made me wonder about Peter Capaldi‘s casting and whether it is okay or expected that we think of the actor’s past work while watching this. Thanks to his well-known role as Malcolm Tucker on The Thick of It and in Into the Loop, he carries a bit of meanness on his shoulders that heightens the Doctor’s usually horrible bedside manner. There are a few deaths in this installment, and while they’re no more significant than so many in the past, his attitude towards them comes off crueler than usual. Particularly the darkly comic bit where he gets a soldier (Ben Crompton) to swallow a tracking device prior to his demise so that the Doctor can see where his remains will go.

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Full House

If you’ve already exhausted your syndicated TV options — heavy on the Friends, light on the Family Matters, some Seinfeld thrown in for good measure – we’ve got the throwback news you’re apparently pretty hungry for. New Full House. No, really. And, no, it’s not suddenly 1997, so stop shaking your calendar (and making that joke). TV Guide reports that “Warner Bros. TV is mulling a new take on Full House, with some of the original cast intact.” WHAT. Well, it turns out that Full House continues to perform exceptionally well on the syndicated market (it does seem to be on all the time) and that measurable audience interest, combined with the actual cast’s apparent desire to come back from some more family-friendly hijinks, means that little dollar signs are positively dancing in the heads of the Warner Bros. brass. Honestly, who could possibly blame them?

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Doctor Who Deep Breath

Would a Doctor by any other face smell so sweet? Not if he’s wearing a tramp’s coat, apparently. With the first episode of Doctor Who‘s Series 8, Peter Capaldi is a jarring presence as the Twelfth Doctor, mainly to companion Clara “Impossible Girl” Oswald (Jenna Coleman) but also to an audience used to younger actors in the role since its reboot almost a decade ago. It’s not just because he’s older, though; the thick, sometimes hard to understand Scottish brogue is as rough as his new “attack-eyebrows” appear to be. And maybe it’s an odd appearance because we’ve seen Capaldi on the show prominently before. Does the Doctor acknowledge this deja vu? Has he seen this face before, as he says in the alley to that tramp, in the same place we have? Is it just a coincidence that Capaldi played Caecilius in the 2008 episode “The Fires of Pompeii” and this new episode, “Deep Breath,” debuted on the same date as that earlier one took place, only 1,935 years earlier? This is one of the many things we’ll have to wait to see as the series continues. I also look forward to seeing if the show can quickly get over Capaldi’s distinction and offer up some truly entertaining installments. “Deep Breath,” written by showrunner Steven Moffat and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Ben Wheatley (Kill List; Sightseers), was not very interesting plot-wise. For one thing, there was the matter of Moffat bringing back the Clockwork Robots from “The Girl in the Fireplace,” […]

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John Cho and Karen Gillan in Selfie

I came very close to shutting off Selfie in the first few minutes. The new sitcom, which debuts on ABC at the end of September, is currently previewing its pilot episode on Hulu, and that could be a mistake. Watching TV on the Internet allows viewers to judge something super quick, and I foresee a lot of others being turned off by the opening scene, which introduces one of the most obnoxious characters ever to hit the small screen — and that includes a lot of awful reality TV stars. But anyone able to get through the first few minutes without closing their browser and throwing their computer out the window will find something genuinely charming and maybe even a little socially important. One episode in, Selfie is far from being a good show, but it has a cultural relevance that’s not unlike The Newsroom. Similar to Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama, the new sitcom, which was created by Emily Kapnek (a producer on Hung and Parks and Recreation) is founded in a great idea that unfortunately has to work too closely with the very thing it’s derisively commenting on. Here it’s social media addicts who can’t look away from their phones for a moment, and who don’t have any real friends or true social experiences despite their popularity on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Karen Gillan plays such a person, and it’s interesting that this new role is being unleashed the same week that her last series, Doctor Who, is kicking off […]

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The Knick

In the seven years since it debuted, there have been several constants in the reaction to Mad Men: the critics have loved it, everyone has nursed a crush on Jon Hamm, and viewers have asked where the black people are. The time span covered by the period drama, from early 1960 until (presumably) the end of 1969, was one of extraordinary shifts in race relations in America. This was the height of the Civil Rights movement, after all. But that’s only happening in the background noise on Mad Men. This is entirely intentional on the part of creator Matthew Weiner and his writing staff, who have made it one facet of the isolated world of Madison Avenue advertising movers and shakers in which the show dwells. It’s debatable whether that’s a justifiable excuse (I can see points both in and against its favor), but even accepting it, there are still times where it’s just odd to be viewing the ’60s through an almost entirely white lens (most notably in the episode that addressed the death of Martin Luther King Jr.). In any case, it might be easier to swallow had the myriad shows produced in the hopes of mimicking Mad Men‘s success not followed its lead on this front. The period piece genre, which gains traction each year, is one of the most lily-white milieus on American television, and that’s even by the standards of the already overwhelmingly white prestige drama herd. Pan Am, Vegas, Magic City, Halt and Catch Fire, Turn – all of them have little-to-no diversity […]

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The Leftovers

No, it wasn’t easy. My personal viewing experience of the first two episodes of HBO’s The Leftovers has stuck with me throughout the entire summer, and I have zero problem with telling people that watching two hours of Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta‘s series actually made me feel physically ill, it was just that heavy. The Leftovers may still not be binge-watch television, but it has finally become must-watch television. With just two episodes left, it was about time that some kind of tide turned. The HBO series, inspired by Perrotta’s novel of the same name, was never intended to be feel-good television, just by virtue of the fact that it’s entirely centered on a global-scale tragedy. The series picks up three years after some kind of “event” has whisked away 2% of the world’s population, enough time to sort of get things back to normal, but not long enough to really heal wounds. The lingering sense that something else is about to happen — and soon! — doesn’t help. Set primarily in the small town of Mapleton, New York, the series follows a medium-sized cast of characters as they (continue to) deal with the fallout from said event. Some people lost everyone that day, some people just lost one person, some people lost their loved ones later to outside forces. Still, the entire program is about loss. It’s hard to feel good about that.

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The Leftovers

Hey, there. How are you? Are you okay? How is HBO’s The Leftovers treating you? It’s okay to be tender about it! You can even get mad! Any emotions are welcome here. Since it debuted in June, the latest HBO series has garnered responses that run the gamut. Some people love it. Some people hate it. Maybe some people are in the middle there, but who knows! Some people have already given up on it. Some people continue to plow through. Here at Film School Rejects, we’re into completionism, so yes, we’ve (really, though, I mean me) kept up our watching. It’s gotten better. Sort of. Now the series, pulled from Tom Perrotta‘s novel of the same name and created by Perrotta and showrunner Damon Lindelof, will have another chance to win over viewers — a whole new season, actually. HBO has announced that it will be bringing back their summertime series for another season. There’s no word on when the Sunday night show will debut said second season, but we’re willing to bet we might have another summer of sadness to look forward to in 2015. Putting this thing in the winter might be a bit too much to bear anyway.

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Game of Thrones cast at Comic-Con 2014

Yesterday we brought you news from the big Game of Thrones panel that took Comic-Con by storm — the new casting for season 5 and season 4 blooper reel. Today the Lord of Light hath gifted us the opportunity to share the entire panel featuring cast and creators. Over 6,000 fans packed into the San Diego Convention Center’s monstrous Hall H for what has been called the most entertaining and epic panel of the weekend thus far. Fortunately for those of us who didn’t make the trip this year, we can relive the magic via Internet streaming video.

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Game of Thrones

As they’ve done in years past, the folks at HBO and show runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss used the annual Game of Thrones panel at Comic-Con to make a number of casting announcements. As we’ve talked about over the past few weeks, season five of Game of Thrones will spend a lot more time in the kingdom of Dorne, where the late Prince Oberyn (Pedro Pascal) was from. And a lot of the storyline will revolve around the fallout from his death, including the reactions of his older, calmer brother Doran and his significantly less calm and far more aggressive daughters, known as The Sand Snakes. With casting rumors swirling all summer alongside reports of new shooting locations in Spain, information was bound to be released sooner or later. Today was that day, with the panel showing a video of new cast members. We’ve got the breakdown after the jump, along with a wonderful season 4 gag reel.

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Sons of Anarchy

Spin-offs have been a part of television since the very beginning. These include not just those series that branched off from popular shows focusing on a favorite supporting character but also those that continued following the leads. The latter could be thought of as TV show sequels, like Archie Bunker’s Place. Prequels, however, have not been as big a part of television tradition. There were Saturday morning cartoons offering origins of live-action TV characters like Alf and the Muppets, as well as some jumping onto the “__ Babies” concept for classic animated series like Scooby-Doo and The Flintstones. Around the same time, ’80s drama Dallas got a legitimate prequel, but it was in the form of a TV movie. Outside of shows that were prequels to movies — a current trend in and of itself that has its roots in series like Freddy’s Nightmares (some of its episodes, anyway) and Young Indiana Jones Chronicles — the earliest American live-action spin-off of a live-action series to go backward in focus was probably Young Hercules, in which none other than Ryan Gosling portrayed the teenage version of Kevin Sorbo’s legendary hero for 50 episodes between 1998 and 1999. Unsurprisingly,  the Star Trek franchise eventually got into prequel territory with Enterprise. Later, another sci-fi series, Battlestar Galactica, tried it with the unsuccessful Caprica. 

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Fargo

Aw jeez, we didn’t think that FX’s hit series Fargo was really going to run for just one single season, don’t cha know, but it sure is exciting to hear that we’re getting more of the good stuff, you betcha! (End bad slang usage.) Hot on the heels of some major Emmy nominations — 18 total, the most for any FX series ever — the cable channel has renewed their beloved series, based on the Coen Brothers’ film of the same name, for ten all new episodes. And they really will be all new, thanks to a new setting, a new cast of characters, a new actual cast, and a new crime to follow. But, rest assured, this Fargo promises to still feel like both of its predecessors. So what does the second season of the series hold for us? Well, probably plenty more winter jackets. But this time, they will be vintage winter jackets.

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Game of Thrones: 409

HBO’s mega-hit Game of Thrones isn’t even currently on the air (we miss you so), but that doesn’t mean that there’s not plenty of information and buzz and chatter about George R.R. Martin‘s heartbreaking baby to share until the show returns for its fifth season sometime next year. Today, however, has brought us a pair of perfectly timed news items that center on the very same (hotly contested and debated) subject: just who Jon Snow’s parents really are. Wait, are you already shocked because you didn’t even think that was a thing? Oh, you’re not ready. So, what do you think you know about Jon Snow’s parentage? Hey, you might know something, but you’ll definitely know more than nothing after the break. [Possible spoilers ahead.]

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SNL Logo

Well, so much for my theory that the Saturday Night Live blood-letting (read: staff-letting) was over after Monday’s news that newbie featured player Brooks Wheelan had been fired after just one season on the sketch comedy series. Deadline reports that fellow featured players Noël Wells and John Milhiser will also not be returning for the show’s fortieth season come this fall, bringing the current axing total up to three. As Deadline reminds us, “the first year on SNL is considered a boot camp, in which new cast members have a season to make a mark. This past year was particularly tough.” The thirty-ninth season saw the addition of seven new featured players, bloating the cast and kind of making it seem like a real sink or swim situation for the new kids. Apparently, about half of them sank. The outlet also confirms news we’ve known for weeks, that star Nasim Pedrad will not be back on the show after five strong seasons, as the comedienne is dedicating her full talents to former SNL writer John Mulaney‘s new Fox show, Mulaney, which will debut this fall. (Fun fact: did you know that Mulaney’s little sister, Claire Mulaney, joined SNL‘s writing staff last year?) So we’re down four now. Will it ever end? 

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Ronia the Robbers Daughter Studio Ghibli

Because this is not a Japanese film site, Japanese film news tends to slip under the radar. So while Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter was announced in February as something new and sparkly and unique – a Studio Ghibli TV series, headed up by Goro Miyazaki (son of Hayao), to be done entirely in CGI – it was mostly forgotten about in the post-February world. Only now, several months later, has Ronia has peeked its head above the Tokyo skyline, and it’s here to show us what traditional Ghibli animation looks like when hauled screaming into the third dimension. The results? They’re OK, I guess.

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Saturday Night Live

Saturday Night Live is slimming down. With the show’s fortieth season set to kick off in September, NBC’s venerable sketch comedy show has apparently set about culling its cast, and single-season featured player Brooks Wheelan appears to be the first to go. Wheelan tweeted the news (which he seems to have a pretty good attitude about) last night: Had a blast and loved every second of it. I’m totally honored to be able to make this next joke… FIRED FROM NEW YORK IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT! — Brooks Wheelan (@brookswheelan) July 14, 2014 Perhaps Wheelan can get a pep talk from another one-season SNL star like Jenny Slate, who didn’t let her short-lived run on the series sink her career in the slightest. Sure, getting fired always sounds (and feels) bad, but it’s by no means a death sentence (also, Wheelan is just twenty-seven-years-old, he’s got lots of merrymaking to get to.)

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Obara Sand by Erik Wilkerson

I need my fix. Periodically throughout the Game of Thrones offseason, should you be interested in indulging me, I’m going to check in with a spoiler-intense look at some of the goings on behind the scenes of the show. Between casting, new locations added to the shoots and all kinds of rumors about what future books will contain (and heaven forbid another book get released), there seems to be plenty to talk about. Consider it a chance for all of us to keep the conversation going while I use it as therapy to help quell the sadness of not being on a weekly GoT podcast with Joanna and Dave. It’s something for everyone. Well, not exactly everyone. If you’re not a reader of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series, you may want to stop here. Passing beyond the next seal (a fortress held by Walter White Walker: Lord of Spoilers) puts you in grave danger of being spoiled. Everything is on the table: book spoilers, insider info, wild speculation and crackpot conspiracy theories. Consider yourself thoroughly warned.

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Catfish

MTV’s Catfish doesn’t always save the big catches for its season finales – the first season finale centered on a tale so classic that it seemed as if it should be served with a side of fries and some coleslaw, a genuine romance marred by one half of the couple sending pictures of someone else and lying about her life (they eventually worked it out, at least for a bit), while the second season ended with a somewhat similar storyline (though this one was elevated by the revelation that the Catfisher had already run this same game on the Catfishee before) – so while we’ve come to expect blockbuster season finales from most other shows, the reality program seems disinterested in delivering that kind of television. Unless, of course, there’s a supermodel available to assist hosts Nev Schulman and Max Joseph as they go about their searching (read: stalking, Googling, making that Spokeo money). For last night’s third season finale, Schulman and Joseph were joined on the road (and in their investigation) by supermodel Selita Ebanks, who apparently tagged along because she’s a big fan. No, really. Catfish, a show that has never really tried to deliver a truly shocking season finale, appeared to randomly do just that – but not because of the actual story at the show’s heart, but because an (obviously very nice) supermodel wanted to come to North Carolina and Iowa and watch two people be humiliated on camera. Let’s never do this again, okay?

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Sharp Objects

By the time 2014 closes out, fans of Gillian Flynn‘s uniquely thrilling (and, typically, totally dark) novels will be doubly treated to a pair of new films based on her works. For an author who has so far only penned three books, that’s pretty handy work, but for awhile there, Flynn was going to be three for three in the feature adaptation department. Last summer, all of Flynn’s novels were in various states of cinematic production, with David Fincher‘s Gone Girl enjoying the bulk of the hype (it’s certainly the most star-studded production of the trio), Gilles Paquet-Brenner‘s Dark Places secure in a very respectable second place position and Sharp Objects just sort of hanging out in vague pre-production land. Gone Girl will now hit theaters on October 3 (though the possibility that it will bow at TIFF in September seems like a safe enough bet), just a month after Dark Places releases (with a September 1 release date, it sure would be nice to see a trailer or something soon, cough cough), but what about that Sharp Objects movie? Turns out, there’s not going to be one — because it’s going to be a Sharp Objects television show. This is fantastic news.

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Game of Thrones

Editor’s Note: The following guest blog comes from Patrick Sponaugle, who blogs extensively about Game of Thrones on his own site, PatrickSponaugle.com. As we’re a big fan of his work, we asked him to share some thoughts about the recently concluded fourth season. Beware that this article includes spoilers for all of season four, but is also safe for those who have not read the books. Season Four of HBO’s Game of Thrones just ended, more or less wrapping up the adaptation of the first three books in George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire saga. I’ve been waiting a long time for this season to be presented because there were things that I really wanted to talk about. Not being able to do so was killing me.

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Community

  Granting the wishes of millions of fans who still believed in the power of the “six seasons and a movie” mantra, Community is indeed getting a sixth season (the movie is still, of course, a dream), though not in the way most viewers were probably expecting. When NBC canceled the series in May, outraged fans demanded answers, which came in increasingly more positive waves, thanks to the news that a number of on-demand services (from Hulu to Netflix) could pick up the series. And although neither of those names (or even Amazon and Crackle, which were also suggested) took the tantalizing TV bait, someone else did. According to an official press release and the gleeful howls of Human Beings everywhere, Yahoo! Screen will now revive the beloved television series (which, based on this news, is still a former television series, it’s all online now, baby!), news that probably requires the question: wait, what’s Yahoo! Screen?

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