Modern Family

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What happens when you’re the loudmouth who spoils an episode of Breaking Bad for President Obama? Recently, The New York Times did an oddly in-depth piece on the viewing habits of the 44th President of the United States, and though I’m disappointed he’s not working his way though the Mystery Science Theater 3000: 25th Anniversary Edition box set, as everyone should be, his list of series he’s keenly interested in is a solid one nonetheless.  Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad is a series the president is late to the game on, where, as noted above, there appears to be a standing order not to spoil his early entry into the world of Walter White. On the opposite end of that spectrum, the entire Obama clan likes to catch episodes of Modern Family and NBC’s Parks and Recreation, thought the president himself has noted that his alone-time viewing habits tend to go a bit darker. Political thriller Homeland, led by Claire Danes’ oft upset and cry-faced CIA operative Carrie Mathison, political drama House of Cards, of which Obama was invited to cameo by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, fall under his must-watch list. I’ll leave other journalists to pick apart any subtle associations between Mr. Obama’s viewing habits and his current occupation. Also, the guy loves HBO’s The Wire, calling it “one of the greatest shows of all time,” which is fine, and pretty standard. Like, I’m almost certain it’s a requirement for sealing the Presidential deal, like taking the oath of office.

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Boiling Point

Depending on your position in life, you most likely fall into one of three camps regarding DVR service. If you’re a user of it, you think it’s one of the greatest inventions of all time. Way better than sliced bread. If you’re someone who has their livelihood tied to commercials, you probably hate it. After all, we use it to skip that shit. The third camp is people who don’t have DVRs and thus don’t really care. Regardless of what camp you fit into, we must all acknowledge that the DVR is here and here to stay. No take-backsies! We have to learn to live with it – well, no, I love to live with it, it frees me up and lets me watch TV on my schedule, but I can understand why some studio people don’t like it. So knowing that a DVR is running in tons of houses, I have a message to Cable Companies: get your shit synchronized!

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Channel Guide: A Column About TV

Ah, the Golden Globes. The redheaded stepchild of award show season – a veritable island of misfit toys in terms of pop cultural offerings. Ridiculous as they oftentimes may be, the picks of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association are now among us, and up for the inevitable scrutiny of the Internet as a whole. Film nominations aside, the small screen selections for this year’s statuettes are as random as ever. With regular contenders ineligible for nomination (Mad Men), and former heavy-hitters now struggling to stay relevant (I’m looking at you, Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy), the pool of nominees is a hodgepodge one – often seeming as shallow as Paris Hilton. So just which shows should take home the statues when the Golden Globes are telecast January 15th? Here’s my breakdown of the nominees – from the way-to-go to the WTF.

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This Week in DVD

Welcome back to another jammed to the gills edition of This Week In DVD! Once again there’s a lot to love hitting shelves today including new movies like Bridesmaids and Bride Flight, TV on DVD releases like Modern Family, Castle, and Happy Endings, a new Bruce Willis movie that never saw the inside of a theater, and even a few re-issues of older movies you may never have heard of before… like the one starring a young Charlie Sheen as a mass murdering punk from the Midwest. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. HitRECord Recollection Volume 1 Joseph Gordon-Levitt is well known and well liked as an actor from TV and films like Third Rock From the Sun and 500 Days of Summer, but he’s interested in more than just a life in front of the camera. HitRECord.org is his web-centered creation that sees projects small and smaller develop from the ground up as collaborative efforts with friends and strangers alike. Everything submitted is up for remix and recreation. One person’s short story can see pictures, animation, voice-overs, a score, and more added by any number of people. It’s an intriguing concept, and while some of the end results have premiered at Sundance and SXSW, this collection is the first retail release. The book itself is very McSweeney’s-ish, which is awesome, and includes a wraparound half-sleeve, creative text and artwork, a CD, and a DVD of short films, videos, and more. […]

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Editor’s Note: This article will be updated in real time as the winners come in during the Primetime Emmys broadcast. Winners will be highlighted in bold and you can check out the winners that were already announced at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. The very first Emmy Award was given to a ventriloquist named Shirley Dinsdale who worked with a puppet called Judy Splinters. Is that significant? Of course it is. That fact coupled with the design of the award itself – a woman holding an atom – represent the true heart of television’s most significant celebration: artistic inspiration, scientific technology, and wooden humanoids that only talk with a hand shoved up their back. Ponder that while you bask in the glory of the victorious. Here are the winners of the 2011 Primetime Emmy Awards.

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Guess what everyone, the Emmys are back in town! Aren’t you excited?! No, that’s okay, neither am I. Just another night for some of Hollywood’s biggest talents to pat themselves on the back for making pretend (really good pretend, though). But you know what, we here at FSR will treat this with the utmost respect that we do all awards ceremonies. That said, before we get to the predictions, let’s take a look at some of the top winners from the Creative Arts Awards portion of the Emmys which were awarded last week: Futurama walked away with the top honor for animated program based on the episode ‘The Late Philip J. Fry,’ beating out front runners South Park and The Simpsons who dominated the category between 2000 and 2009. This also marks the second time Futurama has won the award for Best Animated Series. Maurice LaMarche also walked away with the award for Best Voice-Over Performance for his work on the series as Lrr and Orson Welles. Gwyneth Paltrow took the award for Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Holly Holiday on Glee. Game of Thrones took the award for Best Title Sequence. Boardwalk Empire took the win for Best Visual effects beating out the likes of The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. Deadliest Catch won the award for Best Reality Series (a win that is more than acceptable in this category). Okay, now that we got that out of the way, let’s move on to […]

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This week begins what will be a host of premiers over the next month for all the new and returning shows of the fall season. Regardless of what your thoughts may be on this year’s crop, one can’t deny that the main theme across the board seems to be diversity. Shows from all walks of life are dancing (sometimes with stars) around the schedule this year, and perhaps it would be a good idea to pick out some favorites that you should definitely give at least a DVR record. So here are five new and five returning shows that you should be checking out.

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Normally when you her the phrase “TV movie” images of poorly made, poorly funded schlock dance through your head. But when HBO makes a TV movie, what you get is name talent like John Adams’s Kirk Ellis writing the script and Hollywood veteran Barry Levinson sitting in the director’s chair. That’s exactly the case for the upcoming HBO biopic The Day the Laughter Stopped, which will be a look at the life of film star Fatty Arbuckle as based on a book by David A. Yallop. This one seems like it’s going to follow that classic rise and fall story that many biopics do, as it follows Arbuckle from being one of the most loved screen personalities on the planet, to becoming a pariah after getting accused of the rape and murder of Virginia Rappe. Ellis says of Arbuckle, “He was the biggest and most loved star of the time, bigger than Chaplin, especially with children.” But he then goes on to explain how the accusations against Arbuckle got out of hand and managed to sink his career, even though he was later acquitted of the crimes, “It was the first trial by media of the 20th century … [and] there was a call to clean [Hollywood] up. Arbuckle became the sacrificial lamb. They decided to kiss off his career rather than risk the government coming in.” Certainly Arbuckle’s life story is filled with enough intrigue to anchor a film, but that movie being successful is going to hinge largely […]

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Culture Warrior

Episodes and seasons and weeks after its inspiration and its humor have peaked, I still continue to watch new episodes of The Office week in and week out. I don’t know why – I never do this with dramatic shows, only with comedies – but I tend to stick with comedy shows whose legacy I appreciate even if their time has passed, either out of respect, blind hope, or simply the desire to have some noise in the room while I take a break to eat a meal or fold laundry. While The Office certainly isn’t what it used to be, even before Steve Carell left, it’s still an inoffensive and enjoyable way to pass some time. I can’t deny that the affinity I developed for the show’s characters early on in the series has carried me through a lot of its creative droughts (in other words, I hardly watch it only for its comedy) even as more recent network sitcoms like Modern Family, Community, and (especially) Parks and Recreation have made me LOL significantly more often. But in the bizarre cameos leading up to a strange and dry seventh season finale, The Office seems to have encountered much greater problems than a rudimentary lack of inspiration typical for the (possibly cyclical) lifespan of a long-running television show. The Office seems to have rejected the defining characteristics that made it unique in the first place.

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Like NBC & FOX, ABC cleaned house last week by canceling pretty much every under-performing show that was on their schedule. But today they have released the schedule that will be filling all the gaps. Unlike NBC & FOX there is nothing really eye popping or exciting. However, there were some oddities: – The new Tim Allen series Last Man Standing will be leading off Tuesday nights at 8pm – The Middle is being pushed to Wednesday lead off at 8pm – Charlie’s Angels will lead off Thursday nights at 8pm Basically the oddities are that ABC is over-selling their shows. Need I remind everyone about the scheduling disaster that was FlashForward? Fine show, but it was never meant to lead off the night in its first season. And the general rule is you never put a new show as your lead off (even if it is produced by Steven Spielberg, FOX). But why listen to me when you can look at ABC’s schedule and the clips for yourself:

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Every TV season there are a select group of people that really stand out above the rest. People that really push their shows to a place that no one expects. People that take the medium of television and spin it on its head. And that’s why sometimes they need the love that the Emmys just refuse to give. And with that, I bring you The Top 10 TV Big Shots of 2010-2011. Let’s celebrate these creative minds and their teams in no particular order.

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It’s that time of the year again: that brief span of time in between Christmas and New Year’s when journalists, critics, and cultural commentators scramble to define an arbitrary block of time even before that block is over with. To speculate on what 2010 will be remembered for is purely that: speculation. But the lists, summaries, and editorials reflecting on the events, accomplishments, failures, and occurrences of 2010 no doubt shape future debate over what January 1-December 31, 2010 will be remembered for personally, nostalgically, and historically. How we refer to the present frames how it is represented in the future, even when contradictions arise over what events should be valued from a given year. In an effort to begin that framing process, what I offer here is not a critical list of great films, but one that points out dominant cultural conversations, shared trends, and intersecting topics (both implicit and explicit) that have occurred either between the films themselves or between films and other notable aspects of American social life in 2010. As this column attempts to establish week in and week out, movies never exist in a vacuum, but instead operate in active conversation with one another. Thus, a movie’s cultural context should never be ignored. So, without further adieu, here is my overview of the Top 10 topics, trends, and events of the year that have nothing to do with the 3D debate.

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This Week in Blu-ray

Even in the midst of the madness that is Fantastic Fest, I’m here to bring you the best high-definition disc buys, rents and well… avoids in This Week in Blu-ray. I wouldn’t miss another opportunity to write about my own favorite super hero, Iron Man, or the chance to talk about the feel-good movie of the year (Babies). And perhaps throw in a few titles from last week’s selection, including that big mess of a film that Ridley Scott put out earlier this year and something about a family, modern or otherwise. It’s a big week in Blu-ray, so lets get started… …right after the jump, that is.

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With premiere week over I’ve compiled a list of the week’s top premieres from each night. The winner of each night is based upon the quality of the writing, the shows entertainment value and if it’s a new series, the shows sustainability. This year had some extremely heavy hitters and some of the best performances we have seen on the small screen. So without further ado, here are the winners of the FSR Fall 2010 Watch List (please note that this list only applies to shows that started before or during the week of September 19th). Sunday: Boardwalk Empire In what should come as no surprise, Boardwalk Empire was top dog on Sunday. I’m not big into period pieces which is why I really never got into Mad Men, but Scorsese has made me fall in love with the 20’s and Atlantic City. Steve Buscemi is a great lead and a guy I can’t wait to watch every week. If only Scorsese could direct every episode and not just the pilot.

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Well, we’ve reached the middle of the week. Wednesday night has been home to many beloved series over the years. A night filled with shows that range from the hysterical to the dead serious, Wednesday is one of the best nights for television. This year is no exception. With more of the same coming down the pipeline from all networks. So put the kids to bed, break out that week old Outback Steakhouse left over, and refresh the DVR batteries because here comes Part IV of the FSR Fall 2010 Watch List.

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Join us each week as Rob Hunter takes a look at new DVD releases and gives his highly unqualified opinion as to which titles are worth BUYing, which are better off as RENTals, and which should be AVOIDed at all costs. And remember, these listings and category placements are meant as informational conversation starters only. But you can still tell Hunter how wrong he is in the comment section below. This week sees an abundance of TV shows hitting DVD in preparation for the new Fall season including Modern Family, Spartacus Blood and Sand, Community, Castle, and more.

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Every year, we TV people gather around the idiot box to see what shows were the best of last year. Well, at least what the Academies thought were the best, anyway. And, no, the irony of watching a television show about television shows isn’t lost on us. Last night was a gala night for the small screen featuring a few surprises, a few snubs, and Jimmy Fallon in an Elton John suit. Here’s a break down of what went down at the 2010 Emmy Awards.

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Culture Warrior

Amongst the universal critical applause currently being bestowed upon Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right, one bit of praise seems to connect them all: that the film isn’t didactic or preachy regarding the same-sex couple at its center. In other words, it’s a film about a gay couple but doesn’t overtly shout that it’s about a gay couple; the premise isn’t addressed as if it were unique, exceptional, or odd – nor is it, arguably, a major source of the film’s comedy – rather the film proceeds without seeming intent on making a statement on gay couples or gay child-raising in contemporary society.

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One of the principle directors behind ABC’s break0ut hit Modern Family is moving up in the world quickly, signing on to take the reigns of the upcoming remake of Arthur, the story of a boozed-up rich kid who falls in love with a plebe, putting his inheritance at risk.

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