Hey everyone, this is Ryan McGee filling in for Liane tonight. She’s off doing some deep investigative work about Operation Remington, and I’m holding down the fort in her absence…
A strong but imperfect hour shows some cracks in the show's seams
Is Fiona tough enough to stop a police investigation?
Dead is never really dead on "American Horror Story," and this witchy season is no exception. While you would think our sweet young things at Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies would be inclined to behave themselves and lay low after the bus-flipping incident last week, that wouldn't be any fun at all, would it? No, while Zoe and Madison are busy finding new ways to get into trouble, Fiona's stashing an immortal in her bedroom and Delia's having snakey baby-making sex with her husband Hank. Really, just about anyone passing by these ladies would have a hard time ignoring the weird thing going on in their orbits, but I guess that's why having the power of compulsion is so darn handy.
Two different versions of the same story yield very different results
Remember "Liz & Dick"? Oh, maybe you don't, and that is entirely forgivable. It was that tepid, sudsy Lifetime movie about the on-again-off-again-on-again-whatever romance of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Not even a year later, its only real relevance is twofold. One is its inability to deliver that comeback Lindsay Lohan still so desperately requires, and two is in giving critics like me a convenient comparison point for the BBC America's take on this epic romance, "Burton and Taylor" (airing tonight at 9:00 p.m.). Lifetime set a low bar, but the good news is that "Burton and Taylor" makes it abundantly clear how this story, unwieldy and ridiculous in the wrong hands, should actually be told.
One important element, of course, is the cast. Dominic West, while younger than Burton in the time period portrayed in the movie, ably captures the actor's heartbreak and struggle, while leaving the bombast we associate with Burton for the few scenes that take place on stage. Of course, as it was in real life, Burton was always overshadowed by the show pony that was Taylor, and to some degree that's the case here.
I was initially surprised that Helena Bonham-Carter was cast in the role of Taylor, simply because I associate her with quirky Tim Burton fare and period dramas. Taylor was such a memorable sexpot I wasn't sure I could see Bonham-Carter oozing sex in a negligee. Ironically, it was the one thing I expected Lindsay Lohan to deliver in ""Liz & Dick," but even then she seemed like a kid prancing around in her mom's sexy underwear.
Luckily, that isn't the Taylor we get in this movie anyway. "Burton and Taylor" wisely picks the most poignant part of the story and hones in on a short time frame in order to get it right. While "Liz & Dick" tried for epic sweep and ended up cobbling together cliches and pointless recreations of movie scenes, "Burton and Taylor" assumes we know the characters and their backstory, then digs into the deeper stuff.
The story revolves around Burton and Taylor coming together after five years for a Broadway run of Noel Coward's "Private Lives." It's a bald attempt by Taylor to reconnect, an idea both enticing and repellant to Burton. It's easy to see how Elizabeth Taylor in real life could be a handful; needy, manipulative, loyal, funny and acutely aware of how to make an audience happy. Burton was clearly troubled in his own way, a slave to his addictions and conflicted about fame. At this point in his life, he seems to have made peace with his problems -- he's found a new girlfriend, stopped drinking (more or less) and is focusing on a production of "King Lear" -- but Taylor, just by being Taylor, could easily destroy his fragile sense of balance.
We don't need a lot of flashbacks to see why these two love one another passionately -- and we don't need a lot of blustery dialogue to understand why Burton can't stay. What might be most remarkable about Bonham-Carter's performance and "Burton and Taylor"'s script is how it subtly shows us Taylor's loneliness. Taylor's not sitting in a room alone, watching TV and slinging back cocktails (though yes, there are many cocktails slung in this movie). It's in countless small details that add up to a crushing sense that the former child star whom audiences still adore has an aching hole in her heart, one she desperately hopes Burton can fill. When she angrily asks him, "Where's my Antony?" it speaks to how much she wants to live in the couple's past, white hot (and ultimately toxic) passion, and how Burton is slowly understanding he's grown past it.
It may be kicking Lindsay Lohan while she's down to compare these two movies, but I hope Hollywood (or at least Lifetime) does it, if only to get a clear picture as to what works in a TV biopic and what doesn't. Somehow "Liz & Dick" covered more of this relationship and showed less, threw suds at the audience and delivered less drama, and hit plot points with a hammer when only a gentle tap was needed. Biopics by their very nature are problematic; we know the ending, and we know too much. But somehow "Burton and Taylor" delivered surprises and careful insights, and whether or not any of it was technically true (though I'm sure it was), it didn't matter. At the end of the day, as a story about two people we thought we knew, it worked.
Are you going to watch "Burton and Taylor"?
Follow Liane Bonin Starr on Twitter @HitFixLiane
The anniversary special will be chock full of Doctors
While Whovians have been buzzing with excitement about Peter Capaldi being named as the new Doctor, at the end of last season people were just as excited to see esteemed actor John Hurt ("The Elephant Man," "Nineteen Eighty-Four") on deck as, ominously, the last Doctor.
While these new images from the 50th anniversary special are more fun than revealing (though we can Matt Smith and David Tennant are on deck, as is Jemma Redgrave as the new UNIT boss along with Jenna-Louise Coleman, who plays "The Impossible Girl" Clara), they are awfully exciting, aren't they? "The Day of the Doctor" airs Nov. 23 on BBC America.
Klaus and company begins stirring up chaos in New Orleans
After a lot of talking and plotting and talking some more, it seems as if Klaus' dastardly plan to take New Orleans back from Marcel is finally being put into action. While the Original bad boy's convoluted plot relies a bit too heavily on deus ex machina (even with that convenient compulsion trick), this episode delivered some gloriously devious twists and turns, however loosely based in logic they may have been. Best of all, Klaus and Marcel are fighting over more than just turf as a full-fledged love triangle has taken shape. To paraphrase Klaus, "Oh, to look (if not be) young and in love… what a tragedy."
They're gone but not forgotten...
It's hard to say goodbye, and when it comes to reality TV it's something we have to do pretty often. There's plenty of programming churn in the fast, cheap and often out of control world of reality, even when that means we're left with lingering nostalgia (FYI, Bravo is airing a "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" reunion Oct. 20 at 9:00 p.m.).
We rounded up a list of flawed but sometimes fabulous reality TV shows that have been taken off the air but might deserve a second chance. Some were great, some were weird, and some just had awesome potential. Here's our list -- and let us know yours, too.
Bill and Jen are about to add to their tiny family
It's time for the season finale of TLC's "Little Couple," and that can only mean one thing -- Jen and Bill are off to India to adopt their daughter, Zooey!
The 'Kill List' director is tacklin the first two episodes of season eight
It seems that "Doctor Who" is going dark for season eight. As suggested in the season seven finale, the future isn't looking so bright for the good doctor, plus the casting of Peter Capaldi to replace the decidedly bouncier Matt Smith only seemed to confirm that impression. Now comes word that director Ben Wheatley ("Kill List," "Sightseers") will be directing the first two episodes of the show. Given Wheatley's track record for dark comedy and horror, don't expect any cute aliens when new episodes start airing next fall.
For the first time ever, a 'Bachelor' wedding will be telecast live
And they said it wouldn't last (and it may still be too soon to say it will, as they haven't gotten down the aisle just yet), but "The Bachelor"'s Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudicie have set a date. They're so confident, in fact, they're letting ABC air their wedding live, Sun. Jan. 26 at 8:00 p.m. This is the first time ever that a "Bachelor" wedding has aired live. Can't wait to see what goes wrong!
Teresa and Joe Giudice talk about their legal troubles... kind of
So, this season of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" comes to an end, and, as usual, there's fighting, tears, and more fighting. Some things never change, do they? Even though Teresa and Joe Giudice are facing prison and everyone (except Teresa and Joe) seems terribly upset about this, that doesn't mean they behave themselves or that anyone else does. No, even the prospect of jail time doesn't inspire anyone to pull a punch. Hey, it's the Italian way! According to this very small subset of Italian-Americans who are by no means representative of an entire national identity!