Television

david mazouz and camren bicondova

Young Master Wayne and Selina Kyle, AKA Catwoman, have been chosen for Fox’s Batman prequel, Gotham. David Mazouz will play the tragedy-stricken Bruce, shortly after the murder of his parents and now under the care of Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee). Mazouz is best known for his role in Fox’s short-lived, ASCAP Award-winning sci-fi series Touch alongside Keifer Sutherland and Danny Glover. That show managed two seasons before being cancelled. Portraying pre-Catwoman Selina will be Camren Bicondova, a relative newcomer to Hollywood, whose major claim to fame is being a runner-up on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew with her group, 8 Flavahs. She has also appeared in small roles in the horror flick Girlhouse and Cinedigm’s dance drama Battlefield America. Bicondova’s role as Selina will be as another orphaned teenager, well on her way to master thief as an expert pickpocket living on the streets of Gotham.

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Girls Flo Episode

Fans of Oscar nominee June Squibb had a hell of a double feature last night, as the Nebraska star hit up the Academy Awards and co-starred on this season’s tenth episode of Lena Dunham‘s Girls, appearing as Hannah’s (Dunham) reportedly-near-death grandmother, Flo. Although some of the best episodes of the HBO series’ third season have benefitted from throwing the show’s entire cast together in one place, “Flo” mixed things up to its own stirring effect — removing Hannah from New York City and forcing her upstate to mingle with her mother (Becky Ann Baker), her crazy cousin (Sarah Steele), and her bickering aunts (Deirdre Lovejoy and Amy Morton). Sure, Adam (Adam Driver) made a quick visit, but this episode was all about the interpersonal relationships of the women in Hannah’s family, and man, are they messed up. With just one more episode to go, Rob Hunter and I turn our critical charms to this season’s latest episode of Girls.

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Game of Thrones season 4 art

Valar morghulis. All men must die. If you haven’t learned this much about Game of Thrones by now, then you haven’t been paying attention. If the third season of the runaway hit HBO series has taught its audience anything, it’s that no one character is safe from the death’s cold hands. This is something that readers of the A Song of Fire and Ice book series have known for a long time. George R.R. Martin likes to kill people in the most heinous (and thankfully literary) ways. With the fourth season set to begin in just over a month, the folks at HBO want us to remember that death comes for all men, women, children, babies, direwolves, giants, and whatever the hell those White Walkers are. In addition to the season four trailer and the epic 15-minute season four preview, HBO has now released 21 new posters for the upcoming season. One main poster featuring a three-eyed raven and some pointy iconography as well as 20 character posters featuring faces new and old, all of which simply state “Valar morghulis.” Because if it wasn’t clear enough yet, this show is about death.

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Game of Thrones season 4 - Tyrion

HBO gave us 15-minutes of preview featurette and one big season four trailer, but they still haven’t given us anything to preview the upcoming season of Game of Thrones quite like what you’re about to watch. Seemingly unimpressed with the current marketing plan for the show, YouTube user LadyDogTrailers took all the existing season four footage and made this wonderfully thrilling trailer. Set to Lorde’s cover of the Tears for Fears song “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” this trailer exhibits one thing that all previous attempts have not: that the stakes are even higher for everyone in season four.

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Breaking Bad art by 100Sons

“I think Netflix kept us on the air.” Breaking Bad creator and executive producer Vince Gilligan said that in September at the Emmy Awards, referencing the struggles his show endured following its second season. On the same night that House of Cards became the first web-only show to win a Primetime Emmy award, Gilligan told Mashable that streaming services such as Netflix have ushered in a golden age of television, allowing audiences to consume their favorite shows at their own pace. His creation, the story of cancer-stricken chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and his former student/partner Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), now lives on Netflix in its entirety. As of Monday, one of modern television’s great dramas can be watched end-to-end on your favorite streaming device, on your schedule. As Mike once told Walter in season three, “No more half-measures.”

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Girls Incidentals

Did you think that Lena Dunham‘s Girls was going to split up its various leading ladies and gents after yet another episode that tossed them together for maximum fun, drama, and dancing? Well, yeah, we did, too — fortunately enough, though, this week’s “Incidentals” rehashes some of the magic of “Beach House,” moving most of the main characters of the series into a limited space for a limited amount of time. This time around, the group takes up residence at the swanky Gramercy Park Hotel, where Hannah (Dunham) has been tasked with spending just one night in the hotel in order to write a listicle or something for her GQ gig. It’s nice timing, too, because Adam (Adam Driver) has just locked his first big Broadway role, and they have something to celebrate! That doesn’t quite explain why Hannah took it upon herself to invite the entire crew, including Shosh, Elijah, Marnie, and Jessa, but we’ll just go with it, because these bonkers weirdos are great together. Also in the mix? Jessa’s old rehab pal Jasper and Adam’s new co-star Desi. It’s like one big shaken cocktail of volatile personalities, and your own Rob Hunter and myself are here to sip deep.

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Vintage Test Pattern

Television is no longer television. At least, what we think of as “television” is no longer confined to whatever your cable box or bunny ears spit out on the boxed screen that sits on your Swedish-made entertainment center or hangs on your wall (you swanky person, you). “Television” as we recognize it now seems to fall under the extremely large umbrella of “continuing stories that are not movies.” While some constraints remain relatively constant (most “television” won’t premiere in a movie theater, though damn if any number of film festivals, especially SXSW, are turning that on its head), other rules are becoming increasingly more flexible (you might be able to watch all of a show in one sitting, or see it via DVD before it even bows on a small screen near you). But if “television” is now the kind of thing you can watch on a phone or on a computer or on an actual television set and that comes to you by way of “networks” that are also no longer confined to the traditional terminology that encompasses “network,” what should we be calling it? We’ve got some ideas.

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Jennifer Westfeldt Girls

Lena Dunham’s popular television series Girls has already advanced the careers of its four central stars – Dunham, Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet, and Jemima Kirke – but the HBO production has also dedicated plenty of screen time to a bevy of other talented ladies, even those not necessarily known for their acting work. Dunham’s series has long appeared to be compelled to cast the coolest female talents for a variety of guest roles that often quite handily subvert their public and professional personas. Kathryn Hahn had an arc back in the show’s first season as the mother of Jessa’s young babysitting charges who attempts to juggle her career and her family, Rosanna Arquette stopped by for an episode, comedienne Jenny Slate showed up for one, and even Dunham’s artist mom (and Tiny Furniture co-star) Laurie Simmons has played a named character in an ep. Elsewhere, Dunham’s childhood pal Audrey Gelman (who supposedly inspired the overachieving character of Marnie) is a political wonk by trade, but even she has shown up in three episodes of the series (remember her? she played Charlie’s just terrible new girlfriend in the first season?). 

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House of Cards

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Netflix gifted its subscribers with the full second season of its hit series, House of Cards, featuring a slam-bang season opener that left viewers reeling (and tweeting copious versions of “OH MY GOD”) and that pushed already-nefarious characters to new levels of both evil and unlikability. No, there’s no rule that characters need to be charming or likable or aspirational, but it sure is nice to watch a show that stars someone (anyone) whose actions you can respect and admire. The Underwoods and their lackeys have always been particularly underhanded, but the second season has already shoved them into new realms and practices of what is best described as over-the-top, unrelatable, and outsized evil. These are bad people doing very bad things, and as fun as it might be to watch them inflict their brand of political and personal striving on enemies, deserving or not, they are not the kind of characters anyone can actually root for. But if you can’t back the two lead characters of a series, who can you? Spoilers ahead for the first episode of House of Cards’ second series premiere.

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Girls Beach House

As our Girls girls continue to grow (marginally, at best) up, they are also quite markedly growing apart. This season has scarcely seen all four ladies in one room at the same time, and has instead been forced to rely on commonplace television tricks and tropes and prods to get every major character in one place, including staging a birthday party for Hannah earlier in the season and, in the seventh episode, shipping Hannah, Marnie, Shosh, and Jessa off to a somewhat secluded beach house. The point of the trip, at least according to Marnie (who organized the outing) is “to heal.” The other girls might not agree. Despite going out of her way to make a nice weekend for the ladies, Marnie (Allison Williams) gets kicked in the teeth at nearly every turn – her bedroom assignments initially ignored, her rigid schedule mocked, her dinner party dismissed – thanks to Hannah (Lena Dunham) and her obvious disdain for structure, the inorganic but still exciting injection of a newly-returned Elijah (Andrew Rannells), Elijah’s pack of wild friends (including new boyfriend “Pal,” played by Danny Strong, who wrote the film The Butler for chrissakes), Jessa (Jemima Kirke) and an apparent nudity clause, and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) and her deeply simmering resentments. Let’s go to the beach house! And eat and dance and sing and reveal how very, very much we hate each other. It’s Girls. It’s “Beach House.” It’s a glorious mess. And it’s Rob Hunter and myself, pulling every bit apart for mastication, just like Marnie’s literally cooked goose […]

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Downton Abbey Season 4 - Edith

If you’re living inside a soap opera, and your young daughter says she’s going away for 6 to 9 months on a holiday that seems both spur of the moment and devoid of details, rest assured that she’s getting rid of an unwanted baby. Maybe she’s having an abortion, maybe she’s putting it up for private adoption, but she’s definitely (not maybe) pregnant. Which leads us to Edith.

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Joffrey in Game of Thrones S4

Last week HBO put out a 15-minute season four preview for Game of Thrones, filled with promises for the future and a number of great GIF-able shots. This week they are keeping it simple and showing us a two-minute trailer. Labeled “Vengeance,” this one takes us through the state of revenge that is simmering in Westeros. Arya Stark has plans to kill some people, plenty of people want to kill Joffrey and Tyrion doesn’t look too happy about where he ends up. That and we get some strong ultimatums from Daenerys on the other side of the world. The entire gang’s back together — even Stannis — so without delay, let’s watch this trailer.

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It’s been a few weeks since Fox declared war on the long-held tradition of TV pilot season. And no, “declared war” isn’t really an exaggeration; Fox’s Kevin Reilly is quoted as saying “R.I.P. pilot season,” presumably with scythe in hand and an icy wind rustling his hooded black cloak. And in the weeks since, Fox has stuck to that audacious (and spooky) claim. They’re producing less pilots and developing full series orders without any kind of seasonal timetable, with Gotham and the Tina Fey/Margaret Cho joint Cabot College being the first to benefit from the new and improved network. And now comes a third: Last Man on Earth. Created by Will Forte, the series will see the Nebraska actor as, well, the last man on Earth. Originally, the series was meant to feature “two strangers who must ensure the survival of the human race,” but somewhere along the line, Forte must have figured out that you can’t call something Last Man on Earth when it has more than one person in it. Thankfully, the show is now being billed as having a single lead in Forte.

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Girls Free Snacks

After last week’s disappointing and choppy entry into the world of Girls lore, the venerable(ish?) HBO series returned with some bite – well, some snack-sized bites, at the very least. In “Free Snacks,” Hannah (Lena Dunham) finally lands a writing gig that allows her to quit her latte-slinging at Ray’s, though she’s soon taken down a peg or two, and all the free Sun Chips in the world can’t ease that pain. Installed at GQ, Hannah initially has some illusions about both the coolness and the value of her work at the magazine, until she is systemically alleviated of them – from Ray’s unpacking of what her job really is (let’s face it – the girl is penning an advertorial section about dudes for Nieman Marcus) to the revelation that all her cool new coworkers were once burgeoning writers just like her. Blame the snack room! Blame the cushy environment! Blame the cubicles! But don’t blame Hannah, because maybe she really is in over her head this time – or, at the very least, maybe she’s finally realizing some hard truths about grown up life. Elsewhere, Marnie (Allison Williams) and Ray (Alex Karpovsky) embark on a tempestuous friendship that, yes, involves sex (and also dumplings!); Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) finally admits that she’s put out by Ray’s new success (but is that jealousy or desire?); and Jessa (Jemima Kirke) uses her new job at a baby clothing store to bully full grown women. Oh, and Adam (Adam Driver) poked an acting […]

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The Red Viper in Game of Thrones

In a 15-minute preview special aired last night, HBO pulled back the curtain on the highly anticipated fourth season of Game of Thrones. And with it, we return to our wall-to-wall weekly coverage of everything happening in the land of Westeros. Yes, Blog of Thrones has returned and so has all the death and destruction we’ve come to expect as clans clash for that big, beautiful Iron Throne. This new featurette goes well beyond the season four trailer, exploring some of the sets and themes that will light up the screen when the show comes back on April 6. As Peter Dinklage explains, it’s time to “pick up the pieces and top” what has come before. In picking apart the new preview, I’ve found five promises that Game of Thrones has made to its audience this year. Will they come through on these promises? So far their track record is pretty solid.

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Downton Abbey - Charles Blake

The hate-romance between Lady Mary and Charles Blake this season has been as tiresome as it’s been obvious. Like an unlikable version of Matthew, Blake (Julian Oveden) has burst onto the scene as an aggressor building schoolyard chemistry even as both he and Mary proclaim their distaste for each other. It’s a repetition of the formula that makes sense for the character (apparently Mary has a type), but it’s been poor service for anyone hoping that the estate would prove to be a genuine focus. Here we are a brief time after Matthew’s death, and Mary has a gaggle of suitors. Because — what other story could there be for a well-bred woman of the 20th century? Fortunately, with the help of some ailing pigs, we’ve seen a new side from Blake. Or, at the very least, we’ve seen that he has a take-command brand of expertise. He’s slightly less unlikable, which is convenient since the story seems determined to focus on him as a Matthew-replacement. But it’s Mary who we’ve truly seen a new side from, and hers is covered in mud.

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LeBron James

When I think comedy and the Miami Heat’s big three, I’m generally looking at Chris Bosh interview-bombing Dwayne Wade and LeBron James, but James has bigger aspirations than fooling around between quarters. I mean, naturally. He’s the King. James, in association with Mike O’Malley, Tom Werner,  Maverick Carter, and Paul Wachter, now have a six episode series order by Starz for their basketball-centric half-hour scripted television project, Survivor’s Guilt.  To be written and executive-produced by O’Malley, the show will focus on young basketball prodigy Cam Calloway, who moves to Georgia with his cousin Reggie Vaughn after signing a multi-million dollar contract to play for their pro basketball franchise. They contend with his sudden fame and fortune, family hangers-on, and Cam’s struggles to hold on to the community from which he came.

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It couldn’t have been easy being Hayao Miyazaki‘s kid. Dad is heralded as an unparalleled genius; the pressure for a young Goro Miyazaki to do the same must have been astounding. It’s probably why, at a young age, he cast aside a career in animation for the completely unrelated field of landscape agriculture. Yet eventually the call of anime became too great (or he may have stumbled upon some mystical forest spirit that willed him to change careers), and about ten years ago Goro began directing animated features of his own. With the retirement of the elder Miyazaki, all eyes are on Goro. What will he do next? Where will he take Studio Ghibli? Now we know: a 3D CGI television series. Gasp and faint accordingly. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the younger Miyazaki will direct a series entitled Ronja the Robber’s Daughter, an adaptation of a similarly-titled children’s book by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. The protagonist, Ronja (obviously) is the daughter of a bandit chief (more obviously), and the series will follow her and her family’s adventures in their magical forest home.

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Girls Only Child 1

After starting off the third season of Girls with such a solid bang, it was perhaps inevitable that Lena Dunham‘s series would have to stall out at some point, and the fifth episode of the season (“Only Child”) is that stall out. While things start off extremely promisingly – with Hannah (Dunham) and Adam (Adam Driver) attending the funeral of her recently departed weirdo editor, David Pressler-Goings (John Cameron Mitchell) – things go downhill extremely quickly. Bugged out both by the appearance of a Mrs. Pressler-Goings (the divine Jennifer Westfeldt) and the news that all of her editor’s books are now “dead,” Hannah reacts, well, like Hannah – by pressing the widow for publishing contacts. Despite the interest of a new publisher, things aren’t exactly coming up Hannah, and when she kicks Caroline (Gaby Hoffmann) out of the apartment, it looks like a fight with Adam is on the horizon. Elsewhere, Marnie (Allison Williams) adopts a kitten, asks Ray (Alex Karpovsky) to detail her faults, and rewards him with some table-set loving. Jessa (Jemima Kirke) and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) continue to swirl around on the far reaches of the Girls galaxy, though Jessa’s newly hatched idea to work in a kiddie store just might thrust her back into the fray. As ever, your faithful Girls servants – myself and Rob Hunter – are here to pull this thing to pieces, cute kittens not included.

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Downton Abbey - Jack Ross Episode 5

As late as 2011, 23% of Mississippi voters thought that interracial relationships should be illegal. That’s an important (and disturbing) number to remember on the heels of last night’s Downton Abbey, where the attraction between Lady Rose (Lily James) and bandleader Jack Ross (Gary Carr) found a spotlight during a party before finding a dark corner downstairs. Essentially, a quarter of viewers in Mississippi might have had the same venomous response to Ross’ presence as a few characters who are meant to portray attitudes from ninety years ago. Probably not too surprising considering the invective that’s hurled online toward our President on a daily basis. If the leader of the free world can’t catch a break regarding his skin color, why should a croony jazz man trying to woo a ward of Downton get one? Knowing that Britain and the United States have different timelines regarding slavery and suffrage, it’s also interesting that this fourth season has featured so many side jokes that could be called “Mrs. Patmore versus The Machine.” Here’s a woman most likely born in the 1860s having to deal with electric sewing machines and the end of ice block delivery while the tuxedo-bound upstairs have to learn to react to a dark-skinned man. It’s also an episode that — through the lens of a century past –briefly explored animal rights and nodding yet again toward income inequality, proving dramatically how long the curve of history can be. To that end, it was thematically appropriate for all of […]

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