All posts filed under: Television

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The Three Strike Rule: “The Bridge: The Complete First Season” and “Prisoners of War: Season One”

One of the most gripping mystery series of last summer FX’s The Bridge, now available in DVD and Blu-ray. Set on the U.S./Mexico border of El Paso and Juarez, the series begins with the discovery of a dead woman’s body on the bridge that connects the two countries. Compounding the lack of clues in the homicide is the fact that the body is half on the U.S. portion of the bridge and half on the Mexican side. The detectives who arrive to investigate are Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger), a smart, intense woman living with Asperger syndrome, and Marco Ruiz (Demian Bichir), one of the few honest cops working for Policía Estatal (the State Police) of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Cross and Ruiz butt immediately heads, especially when he allows an ambulance carrying a wealthy Texan to cross through the crime scene so that the man can get to a hospital. Besides threatening to write up Ruiz, Cross demands the case belongs to her. In a surprising move, Ruiz lets her have it. “We have …

Eden Sher as Sue Heck.

A belated love letter to Sue Heck

I have a sister-in-law who shall remain nameless who has unironically embraced a new life philosophy, which she has dubbed “WWSHD” – “What Would Sue Heck Do?” Several days into this endeavor she sat down at our kitchen table and declared, “It’s not easy being Sue Heck.” Kermit the Frog couldn’t have said it better. For the uninformed out there (whomever you are) Sue Heck is the daughter on the ABC sitcom “The Middle,” known for her unflappable cheerfulness and optimism in the face of adversity — things like none of her classmates knowing her name despite having gone to school with her for 10 years, or getting sunburn during a hand-touching-car endurance competition because her mother bought sunscreen at a garage sale. “The Middle” can be a downbeat show for such an over-the-top family sitcom — mom Frankie’s desperation in her attempts to create a happy familial atmosphere, played beautifully by Patricia Heaton, is ultimately pathetic and familiar at the same time, right up through when she invariably loses it and declares “This family …

This Thomas Land is at Drayton Manor Theme Park in the U.K., and it's coming to America next year, whether we want it to or not.

Thomas Land is coming! You’ve been warned

Yes, there were times as a toddler when my son Tim, now 12, would have fits in the supermarket, or demand to be carried for hours on end, or point at things and grunt and expect immediate service, like some rich mute person making demands of his butler. (Actually he still kind of does that last one, but I don’t hop to it like I used to. At least not as fast.) But one thing I still thank him for was his taste in children’s television. My daughter went through a Barney phase that I’m convinced left pockets of saccharine in my brain that exist there to this day — that show was a prime example of what happens when you let PhDs design a television show. (Spoiler alert: Nothing good.) But Timmy had good taste right from the start, almost immediately developing an affinity for Sesame Street and, even more so, the Henson Co.-produced “Bear in the Blue House.” Getting to watch those shows almost made it worth being his butler. Here’s a whole episode …

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The Three Strike Rule: “True Detective” on Blu-ray

The haunting and beautiful music of The Handsome Family’s song, “Far From Any Road,” serves as the theme song for True Detective, HBO’s much lauded TV series now available on Blu-ray. Coupled with the stunning imagery of the show’s title sequence, which features shots of flames, crosses, strippers and the tortured faces of the shows stars, Woody Harrelson, Matthew McConaughey and Michelle Monaghan, the mood of True Detective is established before a word is spoken by a single character. When they do begin speaking, though, you’re in for one of the most thought provoking and disturbing eight hours of your life. Told through multiple flashbacks and police interviews in the present day, True Detective takes place over a twelve year span, beginning in 1995. Harrelson is Marty Hart, who worked as a detective in the Louisiana State CID. Balding and packing some extra weight, Marty has been called upon to recall his partnership with Detective Rust Cohle (McConaughey), a tightly wound investigator nicknamed the “Taxman” thanks to the leather bound ledgers he keeps to write …

Hugh Jackman is the one in the middle.

The Tonys rock (and not just because of Neil Patrick Harris)

Thanks to my budding thespian daughter, I wound up watching the entire Tony Awards last night. Given that I can’t recall the last time I watched an entire anything, this is a big achievement. And when it ended I was left thinking that every awards show should do it exactly like this, even if it means having Broadway actors come in and play the movie actors during the Oscars ceremony. (Except for Jennifer Lawrence, so the world wouldn’t have to be denied her adorable-ness.) Five observations in support of that theory: 1) It’s almost shocking to see presenters and recipients who can actually, you know, speak, unlike some others I could mention. They’re all natural and funny, as if they’re used to being up in front of an audience or something. The only one who had any trouble was Clint Eastwood, who has an excuse because he’s old and he’s Clint Eastwood. Plus when we saw there wasn’t an empty chair next to him the entire country breathed a collective sigh of relief. 2) They …

If anyone knows talent, it's this bunch.

We come in praise of ‘America’s Got Talent’

I’ll say right off that I am not a fan of talent competition shows, with their rosy-cheeked overachieving would-be Mariahs and dysfunctional judges panels. But that’s not to say there haven’t been exceptions — one would be “The Sing Off,” because I’m a sucker for cheesy a capella groups covering classic pop hits, and I like hearing Ben Folds talk about music — it sounds like another language to me, but a soothing one, like Norwegian. And the other would be “America’s Got Talent,” because it gives the weirdos somewhere to go, other than armed into America’s shopping malls. In just the first two episodes of this latest season, I’ve already come across: 1) A small child who turns playing cards into deadly weapons, like Bullseye in the old Daredevil comics; 2) Two nerdy white guys pretending to do martial arts, one wearing what looks like a Mexican wrestler’s mask; 3) A 90-plus-year-old man who could pull a car — filled with his elderly friends! — with his teeth; 4) Motorcycles that I’m convinced must …

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Comrades Podcast: Episode 4, “The Walk In”

Welcome back to Comrades, a weekly podcast/discussion/ramblefest about the FX series, The Americans. This week’s stellar episode of the show was entitled “The Walk In.” It featured a distracted Elizabeth, Paige taking a road trip, and Stan getting a big reward. Okay, he slept with Nina again, but he’s also getting a medal! Do Jeff and Scott live up to the greatness of the episode. That’s for you to decide. In this week’s podcast we also discuss Peter Gabriel’s “Here Comes the Flood.”  The version used in “The Walk In” is from Gabriel’s 1977 self-titled solo album, often referred to as Peter Gabriel 1 or Car. Gabriel rerecorded the song twice, including this version that appears on Robert Fripp’s 1979 album, Exposure. Comrades is produced by Southgate Media Group, a website dedicated to podcasts. They’ve recently expanded beyond TV to include podcasts about comic books and sports. You can listen to Comrades three ways: through the SMG website, by subscribing to it on iTunes, or with the link below. However you choose to listen to …

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Comrades Podcast: Episode 3, “Cardinal”

Dinner plans and busy work schedules. These are the reasons for the delay in the latest podcast! Welcome back to Comrades, a weekly podcast devoted to the FX drama, The Americans. In this week’s edition, Jeff and Scott spend a late night discussing the many wonders of Bo Derek’s Playboy issue, look back on their hometown second-run movie theater, recall the highs and lows of working with model glue, and find time to talk about the most recent episode of The Americans, “Cardinal.” This episode was so tense with paranoia, Scott said that the only think missing was the era appropriate Kinks song, “Destroyer.” We included it here for your enjoyment. Thanks for listening to the podcast, and be sure to check out the Comrades Facebook page and all of the other TV centric podcasts at Southgate Media Group.  And remember, you can subscribe to Comrades on iTunes. Have a great week! Comrades Episode 3, “Cardinal”

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“Comrades” Podcast: Episode 2, “Comrades”

Welcome back for another episode of Comrades, a weekly podcast dedicated to FX’s The Americans. This week, Jeff and Scott discuss the season two premiere of The Americans, coincidentally entitled “Comrades.” Elizabeth is back with the family and discovering that her loyalties are shifting from the Motherland to her children. We learn that Phillip and Elizabeth have KGB friends, Emmet and Leigh Anne, who have children of their own. Paige’s suspicions of her parents grow, leading her to one of the most scarring moments in her life. Stan’s hunt for the KGB couple has gone cold, while his passion for Nina continues to gain heat (ugh, Malchus, did you really just write that?). And we learn that Claudia hasn’t returned to Moscow after all. Episode 2 of Comrades has all of this, plus Jeff’s history lesson on stealth aircrafts, Scott’s love for Doctor Johnny Fever and his favorite episodes of WKRP in Cincinnati, and tangent about key parties. You can listen to the podcast through this link for Southgate Media Group, by downloading it on iTunes, or by clicking below. See you …

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Comrades Podcast: Episode 1: Season One Rewind and Season Two Preview

Welcome to “Comrades,” a weekly podcast devoted to the FX series, The Americans. Our first episode takes a look back at The Americans first season (now on Blu-ray), previews the upcoming season (which premieres on February 26th) and features the usual tangents that Scott goes off on, such as the great use of Pete Townshend’s “Rough Boys” and how film editors accomplish the timing of image to music.

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Popdose Interview: Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields of “The Americans”

If you’re yearning for espionage intrigue and Cold War thrills, you can’t go wrong with The Americans, FX’s dramatic series about KGB agents living deep undercover in the United States. Set in the early 80s, when Ronald Reagan ratcheted up the tension between the U.S. and the USSR, The Americans stars Keri Russell (ah, Felicity) and Matthew Rhys (Brothers & Sisters) as Nadezhda and Mischa, two KGB agents posing as an American married couple in the Washington suburbs. Recruited as young adults, the two were smuggled into the U.S. and they assumed the identities of Elizabeth and Philip Jennings. Elizabeth and Phil have been “married” for 15 years, and in that time they’ve had two children, daughter Paige (Holly Taylor), and son Henry (Keidrich Sellati). They’re your typical American family, although Paige and Henry have no idea that their parents are the enemy of the United States. At the outset of the series, Elizabeth and Phil get new neighbors, the Beeman’s. Husband Stan (Noah Emmerich) is an FBI agent recently assigned to counterintelligence and helping …