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The first season "The Returned" just finished airing on Sundance, though international viewers of course saw it a while back. You know how much I liked the show when I first reviewed it (having seen all the episodes), and now I want to open up the discussion with no worry about spoilers. Keeping in mind that there will be another season, how did y'all feel about the first?
As I noted in that review, "The Returned" does a lot of things that would drive me nuts in a sci-fi/fantasy series that wasn't this good at characterization, tension and mood, but I'm curious whether any of you wanted to throw up your hands when Adele's cop boyfriend just kept staring at the surveillance monitors, or when other characters showed such a lack of curiosity into what was causing this phenomenon, or when so little was explained at the end. I don't think answers are necessary with this kind of show — often, trying to explain the mysterious does shows more harm than good — but not everyone feels that way.
So did you feel hypnotized by "The Returned" or hustled? Did you come to feel for Victor or just find him the creepiest child of all time the whole time? Do you remain as amazed as I was by the casting of the two redheaded sisters? And are you looking forward to the second season, whenever Sundance winds up airing it?
Have at it.
Looking for something to cheer up your day? The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Paul Feig and Ellen DeGeneres have something that just might do it.
ABC orders "How to Get Away With Murder" from Shonda Rhimes
The proposed series will revolve around a law school class and their professor who get caught up in a murder plot.
David Mamet is developing a "7 Deadly Sins" limited series for Fox
Each of seven episodes will explore one of the deadly sins (wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony).
Ellen DeGeneres dances in the streets in her 1st Oscar promo
Watch Ellen in tuxedo with "SYTYCD" backup dancers in a video directed by Paul Feig.
"Duck Dynasty" already filmed most of the season's remaining episodes with Phil Robertson
The A&E hit returns Jan. 15, and the "Duck Commander" is a major part of the storyline, so it's unclear how suspension will affect the show. PLUS: Why A&E can't back off the suspension, what about Robertson's controversial comments on race?, Robertson publicly bashed gays for years, PETA wants "Duck Dynasty" canceled, Sarah Palin wants "Duck" moved to Sportsman Channel, GLAAD is reeling from its biggest backlash in years, Aziz Ansari has an alternate theory, Under Armour is sticking with the "Duck" stars, A&E's suspension was a "confused knee-jerk reaction," Robertson was suspended for staying in character, and the family says: "We cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm."
Why a show about the birth of Twitter is doomed to fail
TV is already littered with failed shows about web culture.
Nickelodeon teams with Garry Marshall on "Crime Procedural," a comedy starring kids
The sitcom will be like "Bugsy Malone" in that children will play grown-up roles in a crime-ridden city.
How Donna Martin lost her virginity on "Beverly Hills 90210"
Read the oral history of that very special episode.
"A Charlie Brown Christmas" comes to life in a NYC flash mob
What happens when you bring the iconic dance scene from the "Peanuts" classic to life?
"Community's" Season 5 premiere will be like the pilot -- but it won't pretend Season 4 was a dream
Dan Harmon says he and writers nixed the dream idea. "We decided that it made the most sense for us to pretend that we were writing a new pilot for a new show about a lawyer who had once gone to a community college," he says, "but was a very poor community college, with a bunch of people that he loved a lot."
"HIMYM" co-creator defends March 31 series finale date
Says Craig Thomas: "It's a change - but fewer repeats, promotion during March Madness, and we get to do our finale not up against any other finales... upsides!" PLUS: "How HIMYM saved me and my dad."
"SNL": What's right, what's wrong with this transition season
What's wrong: Lorne Michaels can't stop letting celebrity friends and "SNL" alumni make cameos, says Hank Stuever. What's right: "The women in the cast, especially, are harnessing a long-overdue interest in post-feminist comedy; they are beneficiaries of the work (Tina) Fey, (Kristen) Wiig, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph (among others) did in the 2000s." PLUS: Will Ferrell reveals his least-favorite host: Joan Allen.
Did Cartoon Network cancel a show because it was too appealing to girls?
The creator of "Tower Prep" says Cartoon Network had trouble monetizing female characters, so it wanted to go after boys, who are more likely to buy toys.
Surprising facts about 2013 TV ratings: "The Good Wife" ranks No. 106 in all-important 18-49 demo
Of "The Good Wife's" 11.7 million viewers, just 259,000 are men under 35.
Whatever happened to Kel from "Kenan & Kel"?
Kel Mitchell would prefer not to talk about Kenan Thompson, who beat him out for the "SNL" job.
Shonda Rhimes' color-blind casting: Is this how to solve Hollywood's diversity woes?
Rhimes' casting director says: "When I cast the pilot of 'Grey's,' Shonda didn't give anybody a last name. She just said, 'Linda, I want you to cast it the way you see the world.'" That eventually led to Chandra Wilson beating out Kristin Chenoweth for a role on the ABC series.
Women on TV had a good year
Female-driven shows like "Orange is the New Black" and "Orphan Black" were all the rage in 2013.
Here are the 12 objects that defined TV this year
From "Breaking Bad's" Stevia packet to "Girls" Q-tip.
It's Jimmy Kimmel as a baby
Celebrating his first Christmas.
Rhea Perlman is coming to "The Neighbors"
She'll guest as Debbie's mom.
BBC has commissioned a radio documentary on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"
BBC will post the retrospective, featuring fresh interviews with Joss Whedon and his writers, on its website on Dec. 26.
Harry Connick Jr. on judging "American Idol": "It's not rocket science, right?"
"It's a very simple concept. They hired us to judge, and all these young performers sign up to be judged. That's it. They sing, we judge, it's pretty easy." PLUS: "Idol" is getting a new, very experienced live TV director.
Chalky White's "Boardwalk Empire"-themed children's books: The perfect Christmas present
Michael K. Williams introduces the most inappropriate children's present.
Watch the promo for Tim Gunn's "Under the Gunn"
The Lifetime reality show debuts Jan. 16.
"Breaking Bad's" Walter White is Santa Claus
Check out Santa Heisenberg.
"Cougar Town" pays homage to "A Christmas Story"
TBS is using the 24-hour "A Christmas Story" marathon to promote Season 5 of the Courteney Cox comedy.
Ryan Seacrest: "I am a Food Network junkie"
Seacrest talks about what he likes to watch, besides his own shows.
11 criminally underutilized TV actors
From Julie Benz to Lamorne Morris.
Video store warns of "'Firefly' addiction"
"'Firefly' addiction is a serious thing..."
Check out the "Game of Thrones" 4D Puzzle Map
You can now build Westeros from the ground up.
Marie Osmond becomes a grandma
Osmond, 54, is a grandmother for the first time after her son welcomed a baby boy.
"You can't go home again," wrote Thomas Wolfe, and that much-worn phrase echoes mournfully in the mind as one observes the chilly corridors and gaping personal distances of "The Past," Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi's first feature since winning the Oscar for his crisp, complex and universally acclaimed marital drama "A Separation."
An elegantly turned melodrama, detailing the terse emotional warfare that ensues when an Iranian man travels to Paris to finalize his divorce from his estranged French wife, it might well have been titled "Another Separation": Farhadi's fascination with the politics and shadow structures of marriage and family -- within and without Iranian tradition-- is a binding element of his filmography.
We're only two hours away from the conclusion of Season 3 of "The X Factor."
And, sadly, we're down to the last two hours of Demi Lovato's run as "X Factor" mentor/judge. I hope they replay her performance rapping along to "Baby Got Back" as a tribute.
In previous recaps, people have accused me of being biased in favor of Alex & Sierra, as if they're not in some way biased toward whoever they happen to be rooting for. Since there are only two hours remaining in this season, I'll just own it: If Alex & Sierra don't win tonight, I'm burning this whole thing to the ground. [Disclaimer: I'm not sure that Alex & Sierra are going to win and I'm unlikely to burn anything to the ground.]
Click through for my full finale live-blog, as we spend quality time with Pitbull and Lea Michele and wonder if this is the last time we'll see "X Factor" or Simon Cowell on our TVs.
Okay, before anyone starts commenting, "What about 'The Amazing Race'?" or "This isn't a complete list without 'Survivor'!" or whatever variation you might be contemplating, let me clarify that my top 10 list of reality shows doesn't encapsulate all of the broad and varied spectrum of reality TV. For my own sanity, I've been limiting the parameters of my top 10 to the realm of basic cable (although I am thinking next year I might change the focus simply to the content itself as opposed to where you find it, such as "so bad they're good" shows or competition reality or something like that, just to keep it interesting). There is one notable exception this year, but I'll get to that in a moment.
"Hannibal" returns Feb. 28
Season 2 of the NBC series will air on Fridays in the spring.
Michael Peña joins Fox's "Broadchurch" remake
He'll play the father of the dead child in "Gracepoint."
TLC picks up "My Five Wives"
A special on the polygamous Williams family will become a regular series after attracting 1.9 million viewers in September.
Ellen DeGeneres responds to Marine's death skydiving while on a trip from "Ellen" show
Ellen said in a statement she's been in contact with the wife whose husband died during their trip to Australia.
Preview "Community's" new animated Christmas short
Jeff Winger is alone for the holidays in "Miracle on Jeff's Street."
The Black Film Critics Circle has named "12 Years a Slave" the best film of the year. Steve McQueen's drama won five prizes, but the group eschewed the usual bandwagon in the Best Actress field by finding room to recognize "Short Term 12" star Brie Larson. Check out the full list of winners below and remember to stay current with the season's goings-on at The Circuit.
The Alliance of Women Film Journalists has crowned "12 Years a Slave" the years Best Film and given Ridley Scott's "The Counselor" a shellacking. The latter film "won" three awards: the AWFJ Hall Of Shame Award, the Actress Most in Need Of A New Agent award (Cameron Diaz) and the Movie You Wanted To Love But Just Couldn’t Award. Well, then. Check out the nominees here and the full list of winners below. As always, keep track of it all via The Circuit.
Richard Sherman and his late brother Robert wrote some of the most beloved songs in movie musicals, including “Trust in Me” from “The Jungle Book,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” from the musical of the same name, the theme to “Winnie The Pooh,” and “Bedknobs & Broomsticks’” “The Age of Not Believing.” But it is for their work on “Mary Poppins” that they are most remembered through such songs as the Oscar-winning “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” “A Spoonful of Sugar” and “Feed The Birds.”
“Saving Mr. Banks,” which opens wide Friday (20), tells the true story of how Walt Disney spent 20 years trying to woo “Mary Poppins” book author P.L. Travers into signing over the rights to create a movie about the beloved nanny. More specifically, the film deals with a two-week period in 1961 during which The Sherman Brothers (played by Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak), writer Don DeGradi, and British author Travers struggled to come up with a story line for the film that would meet her approval.
“Those two weeks I would hate to go through again,” Sherman, 85, says. Even though he loved “Mary Poppins,” working with Travers was even worse than it appears in “Saving Mr. Banks,” he says. “Mrs. Travers was very, very difficult.”
He adds that neither he nor his brother knew anything of her backstory that the movie lays out: that she was raised in Australia as Helen Gough and that she spent much of her young life dealing with her charming, yet alcoholic, father.
In addition to handling the taciturn, stubborn Travers, the Shermans, Disney, and DeGradi had to deal with the fact that her book didn’t have much of a plot. “When we first read the books, we thought ‘There’s no story here. We have to tell the story,” he says. “There’s a reason Mary Poppins comes. It’s because it’s an unsettled household. The father’s paying no attention and the mother is off with the suffragette movement. This is stuff we trumped up.”
Disney loved the plot twists that the Shermans help devise, as well as their songs for “Mary Poppins,” but he was often spare with his compliments to their faces. “He never said anything was great,” Sherman says. “Behind our back, he’d say he loved our songs, but [to us], he’d say, ‘That’ll work.’ That was his praise. That’s what he said to everybody.”
Sherman, who worked as a consultant on “Saving Mr. Banks,” told screenwriter Kelly Marcel such nuances, which found their way into the script and then into Tom Hanks’ portrayal of Disney. Of the fact that his brother, Travers, DaGradi, and Disney have all passed, leaving him the only one with first-hand knowledge of the story, Sherman ruefully says, “I’m the last one standing.”
For Sherman and his brother, Disney “was like a second father. We both loved him.” In fact, he quickly rises to Disney’s defense when reminded that Disney’s legacy has been tarnished by accusations of racism and anti-semitism. “Let me tell you something, a lot of people talk about Walt in negative ways. There was nothing negative about Walt Disney,” he says. “He was dedicated to doing great things. He reached for the stars all the time. He was a wonderful, wonderful boss.”
“Mary Poppins” blew the Sherman Brothers’ careers wide open. They became staff writers as Disney and worked on dozens of projects for both the Mouse and other studios over the decades. Sherman continues to write, often feeling his brother’s spirit with him. But he often thinks back to “Mary Poppins.” “It meant so much to us,” he says. “We knew this would be the doorway to our success as songwriters because we had been writing songs and had a couple of hits, but nothing huge. This was a huge thing for us.”