"The Vampire Diaries"

 "The Vampire Diaries"

Credit: The CW

'The Vampire Diaries': Are Elena and Stefan fanning the flames?

Will Bonnie's big secret finally be revealed?

A 2,000 year old witch and an amnesia curse may be a long way to go to make Elena and Stefan fall in love again, but really, who cares? The scenes in which Elena tries to jog Stefan's memory as to who he (and the two of them together) used to be are sweet, sad and capture the best and worst of their relationship more effectively than the old movie montages people slap together for their wedding receptions. Of course, all the sweet stuff between them kinda goes to hell pretty quick, but whatever. At least we had Paris.  

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"American Blackout"

 "American Blackout"

Credit: Nat Geo

Exclusive: Watch this scary scene from 'American Blackout'

Guess who Americans want to be with in a blackout? Not Miley Cyrus

Remember how scary "Contagion" was, and how you didn't eat pork for a few months after you saw it (if you ever ate the stuff at all)? Yeah, well, here's another movie to make you neurotic. National Geographic Channel and Kelton released today results from a new survey gauging the nation’s preparedness for impending disasters. Guess what? We're not prepared! And to really drive that point home, Nat Geo has made "American Blackout" (Sun. Oct. 27 at 9:00 p.m.), a truly terrifying two-hour movie that walks us through what might actually happen if the lights went out. In this HitFix exclusive clip, get a glimpse of just how quickly civilization starts melting down. Then get better locks for your doors and windows. 

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"American Horror Story: Coven"

 "American Horror Story: Coven"

Credit: FX

'American Horror Story: Coven' recap: 'The Replacements'

Can Misty really fix the many, many things that ail Kyle?

While this season's murdering vagina storyline does not rank as one of my favorites (though I do think it could be the basis for an awesomely twisted romcom), I'm willing to go along with the non-stop crazy in this season's "American Horror Story." Though the grab bag of horrors can often seem slapdash and strikes about as many discordant notes as a cat walking across a piano, the good news is it's a funhouse subway ride -- wait a few minutes, and chances are the next stop will be more to your liking. 

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"Once Upon A Time"

 "Once Upon A Time"

Credit: ABC

'Once Upon A Time' recap: Can Mr. Gold break 'Nasty Habits'?

Can Neal or Emma save the day?

While I see "Once Upon A Time"'s dark view of Neverland as rich dramatic terrain in which to thrust our main characters, I've been conflicted in how the show has handled the Peter Pan storyline thus far. While this episode delivered at least one gut-wrenching emotional payoff, there were plenty of false steps prior to it to take us out of the moment. Peter Pan may be able to entice a bunch of kids with his skills on the pan flute (nice touch, though), fans of the show may not buy into this storyline so easily.

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"Doctor Who"

 "Doctor Who"

Credit: BBC America

Watch: The teaser for 'Doctor Who''s 50th anniversary special

It's sonic screwdrivers and past companions, oh my!

"The Day of the Doctor" isn't until next month, but that doesn't mean it isn't time to get excited about the "Doctor Who" 50th anniversary special right now. The BBC announced today that the special, which premieres Sat. Nov. 23, will be 75 minutes long and will host a bevy of familiar faces. 

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"Project Runway"

"Project Runway"

Credit: Lifetime

Interview: Meet the latest winner of 'Project Runway'

This season's winner made history - and didn't realize it

That was a nail biter of a "Project Runway" finale, wasn't it? Alas, it wasn't one I was able to recap as I'm here in Dallas for a press event, but I cleared my scheduled to talk with the newly minted winner. Given that this season had lots of meltdowns, a returning contestant, and some pretty surprising eliminations (Helen and Kate, anyone?), there was much to discuss.

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"Bar Hunters"

"Bar Hunters"

Credit: Discovery

Exclusive clip: Watch 'Bar Hunters' get down and dirty in Tempe

Wannabe tavern owners hunt for the perfect venue

Are real estate shows about searching for a dream home too staid and domestic for you? Then maybe you want to sidle on up to "Bar Hunters" (premieres Mon. Oct. 21 at 10:00 p.m.), Discovery Channel's new show about the challenge of finding the perfect place for customers to get blackout drunk and puke in dark corners. Patio seating and stain-repelling furniture a must!

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Olivia and Jake reunite in tonight's 'Scandal'

Olivia and Jake reunite in tonight's 'Scandal'

Credit: ABC

'Scandal' recap - Olivia tries to defuse a situation in 'Mrs. Smith Goes To Washington'

A strong but imperfect hour shows some cracks in the show's seams

 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…

 
I’ve of two minds about tonight’s episode of “Scandal,” and the beauty of reviewing the installment instantly in the aftermath of it airing is that I can work out how to balance those two views in real time while I type. “Mrs. Smith Goes To Washington” was in many ways vintage “Scandal”: breathless pacing, plenty of twists and turns, and had progression on the latest serialized arc. On top of that, it featured at least two scenes that can go into the show’s all-time pantheon. So what’s preventing this episode from being an unfettered classic?
 
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"American Horror Story: Coven"

 "American Horror Story: Coven"

Credit: FX

'American Horror Story' recap: Will Zoe find 'Boy Parts'?

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. 

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"Burton and Taylor"

 "Burton and Taylor"

Credit: BBC America

Review: Lindsay Lohan's 'Liz and Dick' can't compare to 'Burton and Taylor'

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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

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