<p>Mary-Louise Parker of 'Weeds'</p>
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Mary-Louise Parker of 'Weeds'

Credit: Showtime

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 81

Dan and Alan talk 'Weeds,' 'The Big C,' 'Necessary Roughness' and more...

The

Happy Monday, Boys and Girls. It's time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
We did two installments last week. This week it's only one but, once again, it's a long one. [That's what she said.]
 
We're covering the returns of Showtime's "Weeds" and "The Big C," doing reviews of "State of Georgia" and "Necessary Roughness," answering a wee bit of Listener Mail and, of course, chattering about "Twin Peaks."
 
As a warning: Next Monday is July 4th. Next Tuesday is The Day After July 4th. We won't be podcasting either of those days. We will, however, return on either Wednesday the 6th or Thursday the 7th.
 
Here's the breakdown:
 
"Weeds" -- 01:00 - 10:25
"The Big C" -- 10:30 - 21:00
"The Voice" -- 21:00 - 28:10
"State of Georgia" -- 28:20 - 34:00
"Necessary Roughness" -- 34:00 - 44:20
Listener Mail: Peter Falk -- 44:30 - 50:40
Listener Mail: TV Directors -- 50:45 - 56:40 
"Twin Peaks" -- 56:45 - 01:11:10

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.]

 

 
And here's the podcast...

 

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<p>The 'True Blood' vampires are just vampires. That's all. Pretty, pretty vampires.</p>
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The 'True Blood' vampires are just vampires. That's all. Pretty, pretty vampires.

Credit: HBO

TV Review: HBO's 'True Blood' returns for Season 4

HitFix
C-
Readers
n/a
This season, it's witches stealing time from your favorite characters
In all of the frustration that some of my colleagues and podcasting partners have had with Veena Sud, AMC and the end of "The Killing," one of the most nefarious charges that's been thrown around is that viewers were lied to, either by the showrunner, the network or the promotion/structure/genre of "The Killing." They (we?) were allegedly sold a bill of goods and betrayed by a show that entailed a 13-hour investment of our hard-earned Sunday nights.
 
Leaving aside who did or didn't lie to whom in the "Killing" case, I want to make one thing clear here: Alan Ball never lied to me about "True Blood."
 
For years, Alan Ball has insisted that "True Blood" wasn't metaphorical or allegorical in any way and even if you felt that vampires were being used as vehicles to discuss any or all manner of potentially ostracized or misrepresented minority groups, they were just vampires to him. 
 
And for years, I always chucked and figured he was just being disingenuous or trying to keep from limiting the audience for "True Blood."
 
After all, I rationalized, how can a man who wrote the most over-literal critique of the sickening rot of suburbia in literary history -- Yes, "American Beauty," as much as I love it in places, makes "Stepford Wifes" and "The 'Burbs" look subtle in comparison -- and who tackled so many hot-button topics over the years on "Six Feet Under" be working in the horror genre without any attempts to create an undercurrent of anything meaningful within its storytelling?
 
I asked Ball about subtext on conference calls and on red carpets and I'll confess that I never actually believed his answers when he said things like "I think a lot of people read a lot of allegory into it that is not really that intentional."
 
After watching three seasons of "True Blood" and now the first three episodes of Season Four, I'm finally ready to tap out and give it up to Alan Ball...
 
"True Blood" really isn't about anything. 
 
Sure, characters may pop up on TV talking about vampire segregation or vampire/human marriage and you might be inclined to think, "That sounds like rhetoric borrowed from the Civil Rights movement or the Gay Rights movement." But that's all it is, borrowed rhetoric. Alan Ball isn't shy about stealing words and themes that have held political meaning for millions and slapping them glibly into the mouthes of vampires or werewolves as nothing more than disconnected, meaningless, fictional agitprop.
 
But Alan Ball never lied and claimed meaning where no meaning exists, intellect where no intellect exists, value where no value exists.
 
I am at fault for wanting "True Blood" to be more than it is. 
 
And maybe I've finally made my peace? Maybe I'm ready to stop trying to care about undead characters who can never be in any real physical or emotional jeopardy, because they're monsters. Maybe I'm ready to stop trying to care about human characters who, in almost all cases, are just repositories for abuse, sexual fetishism, violence and a never-ending string of stupid decisions. The vampires aren't anything more than vampires and the human characters aren't anything more than compilations of bad writing. 
 
And that's OK. 
 
Because "True Blood" is violent, gory, flippantly funny and a really great place for attractive actresses to go when they feel like a little on-screen nudity on a buzz-worthy show is worth permanent screenshot/mpg enshrinement in various corners of the Internet. It's a show that will never hesitate to sacrifice the integrity of any of its characters for a cheap punchline, a bit of torture or a relationship that only makes sense because the two characters haven't been paired up previously and don't immediately seem to share DNA. And it's a show that will never hesitate to abandon or abruptly jettison a plotline because things got too complicated or convoluted for the scribes to draft a plausible exit strategy. And it's a show that solves the problem of how to service a ridiculously good, ridiculously huge cast of talented actors not by becoming more focused and honed, but by becoming more and more populated and diffuse.
 
If I expect more than that, that's on me. If I dislike "True Blood" because it fails to live up to my hoity-toity ideas of what good television (or good fiction) should be, that's a problem with my standards and not with the show's ability to live up to its own aspirations. 
 
"True Blood" returns on Sunday (June 26) night with too many new characters, not enough time with the characters I like, a general evasion of the most prickly parts of last season's finale, some plodding hints at a lumbering dramatic direction for this season and some breasts. 
 
YAY!
 
[More after the break...]
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<p>Chris Evans of 'Captain America'</p>
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Chris Evans of 'Captain America'

Credit: Paramount

Set Visit: Helping 'Captain America' go to War

Details on the tone, costumes, effects and more from the next Marvel feature
"Reason for your visit?"
 
"I'm a journalist going to a movie set to observe production."
 
"On what movie?"
 
"'Captain America.'"
 
"I don't really know that one. And why is 'Captain America' shooting in London? You know what superhero movie I really like? 'Superman 4.'"
 
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<p>Chris Evans of 'Captain America'</p>
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Chris Evans of 'Captain America'

Credit: Paramount

Chris Evans and Hugo Weaving talk on the set of 'Captain America'

Who inspired the new Cap and Red Skull?
LONDON, ENGLAND. The casting short-list for "Captain America: The First Avenger" was an ironically long list indeed, as Marvel searched for many months to find the proper actor to embody one of the most venerable, upstanding characters in all of comic-dom.
 
Landing the role, practically at the last minute, was Chris Evans, who had already played a Marvel hero in two "Fantastic Four" movies and ventured into the world of comics for "The Losers" and "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World." In no time, Evans had to begin reshaping his body to match the iconic Captain America suit and then he was thrust into production, after only a brief visit to San Diego's Comic-Con, where he was greeted with enthusiastic approval.
 
My own path to the "Captain America" stages at Shepperton Studios outside of London last fall was a good deal less rigorous and met with absolutely no opinion from the fanboy community, but it was no less abrupt, a 36-hour turnaround tacked onto the end of a family wedding in Toronto.
 
[More after the break...]
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<p>Wilfred, Frodo and FIONA GUBELMANN!</p>
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Wilfred, Frodo and FIONA GUBELMANN!

Credit: FX

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 80

Dan and Alan review 'Wilfred,' 'Suits' and the new season of 'True Blood'

The

Happy Thursday morning, Boys & Girls!
 
Welcome to the promised bonus installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
Due to some peculiarities in my schedule this week, Sepinwall and I ended up recording one chunk on Tuesday evening, one chunk on Wednesday afternoon and we're finally posting it on Thursday.
 
That means that folks who listen to us promptly will get barely early reviews of USA's "Suits" and FX's "Wilfred," plus the returns of "Burn Notice" and "Louie." And then we also discussed Sunday's return of "True Blood" to HBO.
 
Here's the breakdown:
"Suits" -- 02:35 - 15:10
"Wilfred" -- 15:15 - 26:45
"Louie" -- 26:50 - 36:30
"Burn Notice" -- 36:40 - 42:30
"True Blood" -- 42:30 - 50:00

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.]

 

 
And here's the podcast...

 

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<p>Dia Frampton performs on Tuesday's &quot;The Voice&quot;</p>
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Dia Frampton performs on Tuesday's "The Voice"

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'The Voice' - Semifinals Performances

After a round of results, the Top 8 singers perform

It's time for another week of "The Voice." Semifinals, or something. Woot!

We've already separated a lot of the wheat from the people who can't sing, so maybe "The Voice" is on the verge of becoming truly entertaining again? Or, at the very least, maybe I can be a bit less "acidic" this week.

Click through to find out...

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<p>Jason Momoa and Emilia Clarke of 'Game of Thrones'</p>
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Jason Momoa and Emilia Clarke of 'Game of Thrones'

Credit: HBO

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 79

Dan and Alan discuss the 'Killing' and 'Game of Thrones' finales

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls. It's time for a slightly delayed installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast. 
 
It may not seem like the episode is that late until you realize that Sepinwall and I sat down to record at maybe 10 a.m. Pacific. Roughly 45 Skype crashes later -- to say nothing of a few tangential and non-tangential interruptions, we ended up with a podcast that was a bear to edit and which somehow ended up being nearly roughly 86 minutes. 
 
And we'd already planned on doing two podcasts this week for fear that we might go on forever.
 
This podcast is just "Twin Peaks," the finals for "Game of Thrones" and "The Killing" and a review of ABC's "Combat Hospital."
 
Geez.
 
Here's the breakdown...
ABC's "Combat Hospital" -- 02:00 - 10:10
"Twin Peaks" -- 10:15 - 33:10
The "Game of Thrones" finale -- 33:15 - 53:30
The "Killing" finale -- 53:30 - 01:25:00

 

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.]

 

 
And here's the podcast...

 

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<p>Noah Wyle and his TV kids on TNT's &quot;Falling Skies&quot;</p>
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Noah Wyle and his TV kids on TNT's "Falling Skies"

Credit: TNT

TV Review: TNT's 'Falling Skies'

HitFix
B
Readers
C
Solid alien drama is both familiar and distinctive
I suspect that one of the words you'll frequently see in reviews of TNT's "Falling Skies" is "solid."
 
That doesn't sound rhapsodic, does it? You'd never describe yourself as "solid" in an online dating profile. A publicist will almost never tout a new client as being a "solid" young actor. Even with things where you'd think "solid" would be the highest of compliments -- the foundation of a house, a well-boiled egg -- embellishments are still usually in order.
 
And yet... 
 
"Falling Skies" is a Frankenshow. My notes on the first seven episodes are filled with similarities and discrete nods to over a dozen different movies and TV shows and books, some so blatant as to be homages, some just the inevitable reality of doing a show that melds several well-traveled genres. Back in the early 19th Century, imitation may have been the sincerest form of flattery, but in the 21st Century, imitation isn't enough. Pastiche is the sincerest form of flattery and "Falling Skies" spreads its flattery around liberally. 
 
If you're a Frankenshow, cobbling together the pieces is the easy part.  The challenge is making them cohere. The challenge is crafting a spine or a through-line that's strong enough to hold all of the familiar bits together as something that probably won't be unique, but can still be distinctive. 
 
So for me, when I say that "Falling Skies" is solid, it's intended with a fair measure of respect. "Falling Skies" holds together and despite the myriad pieces you'll recognize from or associate with its predecessors, it stands on its own as a fun and, yes, solid summer action drama.
 
Click through for more...
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<p>It's a Skitter!</p>
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It's a Skitter!

Credit: TNT

HitFix Interview: Mark Verheiden talks 'Falling Skies'

Writer-producer discusses aliens, resistance and Steven Spielberg
It was a busy time for "Falling Skies" co-executive producer Mark Verheiden when I sat down with him last month in Beverly Hills.
 
The science fiction veteran had been linked to the TV portion of the ambitious plans to bring Stephen King's "Dark Tower" series to the big and small screen, though that project had just been put into possible turnaround by NBC-Universal (a month later, nothing has been settled). With that on Verheiden's plate, Remi Aubuchon had just been brought on as showrunner for a possible second season of "Falling Skies," which won't even have its series premiere until June 19.
 
Verheiden was already a late addition to "Falling Skies," coming onto the alien-flavored survival story after the Robert Rodat-scripted pilot was already shot. With credits including "Battlestar Galactica," the "Falling Skies" subject matter -- humans form a resistance against seemingly malevolent ETs -- was still familiar terrain for Verheiden.
 
Click through for our full interview, which touches on the drama's metaphorical value, his approach to the humans and aliens and the influence of executive producer Steven Spielberg...
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Noah Wyle
Noah Wyle
Credit: TNT

HitFix Interview: Noah Wyle talks 'Falling Skies'

'ER' veteran talks about talking control and fighting aliens

The Noah Wyle of "Falling Skies" is a Noah Wyle you've never seen before.

 
The "ER" veteran toplines the new TNT alien invasion drama playing Tom Mason, a history teacher who suddenly finds himself using guns as well as his brains to protect his family and fight off the vicious extraterrestrials.
 
But it's the Noah Wyle you don't see in "Falling Skies" who has changed the most. The five-time Emmy nominee came onto his new series determined to expand his horizons behind-the-scenes and from speaking to producers or co-stars, it's clear that Wyle's "Falling Skies" passions extended well beyond his on-screen performance, to working with the writers and helping to establish the tone on set.
 
Last month, I interview Wyle in Beverly Hills and came away with a clear sense of *his* clear sense about this heavily promoted new project.
 
Click through for the full interview, which touches on his new hands-on attitude, the challenges of finding TV projects post-"ER" and his ongoing relationship with TNT.
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