AMC

Mad Men Split Season

This past week, AMC announced that it will split Mad Men’s seventh and final season into two 7-episode increments to air in 2014 and 2015, similarly to the way that Breaking Bad has been careening to its much anticipated yet seemingly breathless finale. On the one hand, this represents a business move that exists anywhere between shrewd and shameless, but one that is unlikely to anger fans who would be happy to follow Don and Roger well into the disco era, even if they’re ultimately only getting one extra episode as a result of the wait. But the decision has convincingly been perceived as an act of desperation on behalf of a network whose two brand-making critical darlings of original programming will soon see their end, with no surefire successor to take their place (perhaps Low Winter Sun should create a crossover story with The Killing). But what I find most striking about this decision is the fact that, perhaps more so than any recent quality cable show, Mad Men has done of great deal of work to identify itself through – and, in the process, help to define – what a television season means in the age of binge-viewing. By separating each season by discrete gaps in the historical procession of time, Mad Men has overtly defined each of its seasons as characterized through changes in its characters’ associations, lives, relationships, locations, business affiliations, etc. So, will each “part” of Mad Men’s final season take place in a separate […]

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C

Even before The X-Files ended its nine-year run, Chris Carter was dismissed as a one-hit wonder. It’s easy to see why. His subsequent efforts — the occult-themed Millennium, the virtual reality-centered Harsh Realm, even The X-Files‘ goofy nerd brother The Lone Gunmen, which was co-created by Vince Gilligan — found few fans. Harsh Realm lasted only three episodes. Twenty years after The X-Files suggested (but didn’t show) its first UFO, news came that Carter was ready to give TV-creating another try. After revolutionizing the television landscape with The X-Files‘ pioneering direction, cinematography, and unique will-they-or-won’t-they coupling, Carter is poised to enjoy the fruits of his labors: a cottage industry of prestige cable dramas that look closer to cinema than television and a new media setting where sci-fi/fantasy reigns supreme. In his sights are an AMC drama about anti-government paranoia (sound familiar?) and a hour-long thriller on Amazon called The After that begins with the apocalypse.

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The Walking Dead

According to the horror-obsessed fiends at Bloody Disgusting, there are whispers floating around non-substantially around the Walking Dead set that might mean a feature is on the horizon, potentially as a close-out to the series. As the article points out, there is nothing close to being official, not even the conversations about a movie. It raises an interesting possibility though. It wouldn’t be the first television show to go to the big screen, although the recent track record for shows making the leap is not great (especially for fans of The Sopranos or 24). Hell, even with more episodes coming, the Arrested Development movie still isn’t exactly a done deal either. Frankly, transitioning from television to theaters is difficult both artistically and logistically. The writers would need to craft the best possible 2-hour episode of the show, and they’d have to get as many or all of the main cast to come along for the project. There are a million steps to completing a film version, and it’s unknown whether AMC will even take the first one, but a movie could absolutely work. It wouldn’t be able to capture the long-form trajectory of the comic books, but since the show is doing that heavy lifting (when it cares to line up with the comic, that is), a movie could be free to take characters we’ve learned to love over many seasons and place them in the comforting familiarity of a zombie flick.

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Aural Fixation - Large

Breaking Bad has not only pushed boundaries through it’s no holds barred story lines and the stunning performances of its cast (most notably Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul), but it has also created a soundscape that has helped to shape the chaotic world of Walt (Cranston) and Jesse (Paul.) Unlike most shows where the score is full of rich instruments and emotion, Breaking Bad stands apart with a score that is certainly based in classic instrumentation, but infuses it with found sounds, design elements, and unexpected instruments to give it’s score an almost otherworldly feel. With the show set to return to our television screens this coming Sunday (July 15th) for it’s fifth season, I spoke with the show’s composer, Dave Porter, about how he has created Breaking Bad‘s distinct sound over the past four seasons and where he sees things going from here.

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Culture Warrior

Last week, Thomas Catan and Amy Schatz of The Wall Street Journal published an article about the Justice Department’s antitrust investigation into whether or not cable companies are manipulating consumers’ access to streaming competitors of television content in order to reduce competition. The investigation’s central question is this: are cable companies like Comcast and Time Warner setting data caps to limit download time, speed, and amount of content in order to stave consumers off from using alternatives like Hulu and Netflix? Furthermore, the DOJ is investigating whether or not selective data limits applied to certain streaming outlets (like the fact that Comcast’s data limits can apply to streaming Hulu, but not Comcast’s own Xfinity services) violates Comcast’s legally-binding oath to not “unreasonably discriminate” against competitors. According to the WSJ, “Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday suggested he had sympathy for those who want to ‘cut the cord’ rather than paying for cable channels they don’t watch. At a Senate hearing, Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) said cable bills are ‘out of control’ and consumers want to watch TV and movies online. Mr. Holder responded, ‘I would be one of those consumers.’” What’s most important about this story for TV consumers is not so much the specific outcomes of this investigation (though that will no doubt have wide-ranging but uncertain implications), but the fact that lawmakers, regulators, and the industry will continue to be forced to recognize new distinctions being made between cable companies, networks, and individual shows as citizens increasingly […]

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Boiling Point

AMC’s The Walking Dead and I have a strange relationship in that I watch it but don’t particularly care for it. I can’t really tell you why I tune in every week, but it has something to do with my great love for the comic books and a desire to see horror on television, mostly regardless of quality. The books by Robert Kirkman have always had a bit of melodrama about them, but the show has often taken that to obvious, soap opera levels. “The Walking Dead” comics feature a great cast of characters with complex motivations and relationships. Many of those characters made it to the television show – well, at least characters with the same names made it in. Things have changed so drastically from comic to screen that one has to ask – when does an adaptation stop being an adaptation?

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Channel Guide - Large

Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash—or simply “the Stash,” if you’re down—is a comic book shop in Red Bank, New Jersey. The sheer existence of the store when so many others are closing, in and of itself, might be noteworthy but what really gives this place some cachet is its owner: Kevin Smith. A comic book shop is a comic book shop, but when it’s in some way connected to the tour de force that I (and other people, probably) like to call Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, who isn’t going to want to visit? The new show Comic Book Men’s appeal is similarly tied to the Jersey Girl director—the unscripted series is set in the Stash and produced by Smith. I like Clerks, I like Chasing Amy, I like most of Dogma, I’ve gone to (and enjoyed) one of Smith’s live Q&A shows, so I think I fall within AMC’s target audience here. Despite being a part of this demographic, or maybe because I’m a part of this demographic, the network shouldn’t have put all of their eggs in the bespectacled, be-bearded, be-hockey-jerseyed filmmaker basket.

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Boiling Point

As much fun as it would be to pick on SOPA/PIPA some more and make some jokes about how “SOPA,” when said aloud, is Spanish for soup, this is something entirely different. Oh, it still has to deal with censorship, but this is some self-imposed completely idiotic and maddening censorship. On air, movies and television have to play by a set of rules. These rules aren’t totally set in stone, but basically there are some words you can say and some you can’t say. Then there are some you can sort of say, but mostly only in the right context. An example? Pretty much any show on at any time could say “bitch” meaning female dog, because that’s just the definition of the word. If you want to call someone a bitch, generally that’s kept to after 8pm. Cable gets a bigger break than network, as it’s a paid service, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune to fines and more importantly, advertiser backlash, so everyone kind of plays with kid gloves. Of course, it’s parents who should be responsible for policing the television. If a show wants to say bad words, let them. Put it on after 8pm, put a “Language” notice on it, and parents can set their TVs to block it. Easy cakes. I mean, I still don’t understand why HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax won’t show hardcore porn, because why not, amirite? But I’m getting distracted by the thoughts of boobies. This boiling point is specifically about language. […]

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Boiling Point

Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest. A day of laundry. A day of animation domination, not going to church, not doing a damn production thing, and so on and so forth. AMC’s The Walking Dead has ruined that. Well, actually it hasn’t ruined any of those things, but it has made Sunday a rather contentious day. On one side, the Walking Deadheads. Those who can’t get enough of the AMC television series. On the other side, people who just can’t be bothered to give a damn. Scratch that. They do give a damn. A negative damn. A “this show blows” damn.  And gosh darnit, neither side likes the other. While the two will probably never see eye to eye, you either dig the melodrama or you don’t, there is one argument that is thrown out over and over again: If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. Well that’s bullshit. Mostly.

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With massive ratings numbers, AMC has made the call to renew The Walking Dead for a third season. According to the press release, AMC President Charlie Collier was proud of the viewership records being set internationally by the show. That number includes more than 10m that watched the second season’s premiere around the world. Clearly, the zombie invasion is still going strong. This news comes as absolutely no surprise, but it does come with a challenge for showrunner Glen Mazzara to raise the stakes and improve on an already-strong formula for success. There were obvious storytelling differences between the first season and the start of the second, and Mazzara has to find a less ambling direction to drive the story. Not that walking around in the woods for two hours without development isn’t fun. With a third season in the bag, now is the time for them to start tightening up their scripts significantly in order to maintain the level of unease and drama that fans deserve. Taking a television show into a third season is always tricky, so hopefully they’ll get out of their own way, find some ripe stories, and deliver them without resorting to Sheriff Grimes waterskiing over a shark.  

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Boiling Point

So it’s October and that means only one thing – it’s Anytober at Subway, where any regular Subway sub is just $5. Wait, we’re not sponsored by Subway? Fuck that then, it’s October and on AMC that means the return of the critically acclaimed series The Walking Dead, based on the tremendous Image comic series. I say critically acclaimed because most critics don’t really enjoy horror movies and for some reason they can stomach The Walking Dead and are celebrating it. As a dyed in the wool horror fan (blood red), I’m not afraid to say that The Walking Dead on AMC is tremendously boring, not good horror, not good zombie action, and not even close to being a good adaptation. To fans of the graphic novels, what’s transpiring on the screen is bordering on being offensive. AMC has made a lot of great television, but this ain’t it.

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One of the most high profile shows to come out of last year was AMC’s adaptation of the hit Robert Kirkman comic book The Walking Dead. But depending on who you ask, the first season was either the greatest thing ever to grace television or an absolute waste of storytelling potential. This past Saturday, one of the two most highly anticipated panels of the day was for The Walking Dead, mostly due to the fact that the second season of the show premieres tonight on AMC at 10pm.

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*The following contains Breaking Bad spoilers in general and a major spoiler for the season four finale in particular. The Breaking Bad bandwagon is one that I avoided  getting on for a long time. After watching seasons one through three in a summer marathon, I found a lot to enjoy in the show, but there certainly wasn’t any drinking of the Kool-Aid being done. And while there still isn’t, I’ll be damned if the ending of season four didn’t at least tempt me to take a sip or two. This season started off rather lackluster compared to the high of the previous season. Sure, Gus slitting Victor’s throat and the cartel shoot-out were among some of the greatest moments of the show’s history, but they were scattered in a field with the likes of Hank’s self-loathing and distractingly annoying advertisements for Denny’s. But the final two episodes of this season made up for the majority of all that lackluster crap. What made the Breaking Bad season four finale special is that the immediate storyline involved is played out over two episodes instead of one. “End Times” is mostly set up for what we saw in “Face Off,” and that’s why “Face Off” is so fucking good. Imagine if the spinning gun scene in “End Times” had instead aired in the same episode as the final shot of the season. It wouldn’t have worked, simply because the final shot was one what required a moment of processing by the audience. Had everything been in […]

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Much talk has been circling Kevin Smith these days, especially now that his new film Red State is available to everyone (well, everyone in the U.S. for now) on VOD. And in addition to Red State, the man has successfully built his very own internet radio station (S.I.R.) and put two TV pilots into production, and today we get an update on at least one of them. Back in June it was announced that AMC had commissioned a “presentation” for a Pawn Stars style reality series set within Smith’s N.J. based comic book shop, Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash. The series was set to star Smith’s longtime friends Walt Flanagan and Bryan Johnson and would feature the day-to-day lives of the two (in addition to the other employees of the Stash) as they ran the shop. Today it was announced that AMC has indeed green lit the series, Secret Stash. The first season will consist of six episodes (as per usual with most AMC programming) and will begin airing in the first quarter of 2012. There is no word yet on what day or time the series will air, but if one were to make a safe assumption, it will most likely air on Sunday (which is the only night thus far that AMC has ever aired original programming) nights along with the returning Mad Men. Of course, it’s just as likely that AMC will want to create some competition for the likes of The History Channel or A&E with their respective similar type […]

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A couple days ago it was announced that a new startup called MoviePass would work as a sort of Netflix for seeing movies in theaters. For a $50 a month subscription, members of MoviePass could then see as many movies as they wanted. The problem with a service like this is that MoviePass would need the cooperation of all of the nation’s biggest theater chains in order to be a service worth using. I know personally that if a MoviePass-like service were adopted by both AMC and Landmark theaters, then it would be well worth my money to purchase a membership. A pretty big wrinkle in these plans has already surfaced, however, seeing as AMC has already officially announced that they won’t be taking part.

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Regardless of individual opinion, no one can say that AMC doesn’t have one of the most diverse line-ups on television. With the adult, contemporary drama Breaking Bad, the murder mystery The Killing, the horror/thriller The Walking Dead and the period drama Mad Men, there’s no doubt that the network loves their genre work. And they are about to make another addition to that slate with a western… yes, you read that right. AMC is doing a western titled Hell on Wheels. And here is the first trailer (via Screen Rant):

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Fans of excellent television can rejoice today. This is no April Fools’ joke. AMC and Lionsgate have announced to the world that seasons five and six of everyone’s favorite Madison Avenue soap opera (circa 1960) are a go, and series creator/beating heart Matthew Weiner is on board. After extensive negotiations that were reportedly slowed by Weiner’s desire for a bit more “credit” (read: payola), things have finally been smoothed out and the partnership can move forward on the thing that matters most: showing us what the hell happens to Don Draper next. You can read the entire press release after the jump, if you’d like. In it you will find a very cool bit about a possible option for a seventh season. Yes, you read that right. Seven seasons of Mad Men. Drool.

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Drinking Games

Zombie fans have been celebrating ever since it was announced that Frank Darabont was developing the graphic novel The Walking Dead into a television series. Some folks questioned the choice of AMC as the right network, but the bet paid off when The Walking Dead premiered last year. It’s the first television series about the zombie apocalypse, and it’s gotten some great reviews. Now, all six episodes of the first season are available on DVD and Blu-ray, and what better way to enjoy them than with a drink in your hand. Because, let’s face it, in the event of the zombie apocalypse, you’ll want plenty of alcohol available to take the edge off.

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Are you tired of watching Travis Bickle get angrier and angrier on that tiny 72” Hi-Def plasma TV of yours? Me too, and I only watch your TV when you’re not at home. Imagine how tired I’d be if I did it more often. Fortunately for both of us, AMC is bringing Taxi Driver to the big screen. It’s a consolation prize for Lars Von Trier not forcing Martin Scorsese to remake it, but it’s a consolation prize I’ll take any day of the week. You should too (unless you’re truly hung up on seeing it on a 4K digital projector, and if you are, it’s a completely legitimate hang up), and here’s when you can check out it: Saturday, March 19th @ 8PM and Tuesday, March 22nd @ 8PM. Where do you need to go? Any of these choice AMC Theaters that might happen to be near your home:

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Somewhere out there in the internet tubes, Eric Linn decided to splice together all the zombie deaths from the first season of The Walking Dead. Watch it with someone you love. [Daily What]

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