Inside Television with Alan Sepinwall
What did everybody think of the new BBC America period drama?
I already offered up my review of BBC America's "The Hour," along with an interview with creator Abi Morgan. We'll see how the episode-by-episode reviews for this will work over the rest of the 6-episode run, but for now, I'm just going to say that the premiere was definitely the weakest of the 4 I've seen, but still interesting for the work by Ben Whishaw, Romola Garai and Dominic West.
Keeping in mind that the No Spoilers policy around here includes anything that has yet to air in the US - meaning discussion of the later episodes that have already aired in the UK is off-limits and will be deleted - what did everybody else think of the premiere?
Louis C.K.'s show now more drama than comedy, but incredible either way
When FX sent out the first four episodes of "Louie" season two for review, I couldn't help noticing that three of the four were fairly dark and/or serious, and that the one overtly comic episode also featured a storyline about Louie despairing over the meaning of life after watching a bum get decapitated by a garbage truck. At the time, I wondered whether creator/star/writer/director/editor/etc. Louis C.K. - whose comic sensibilities have never been all that sunny to begin with - had decided to deliberately take the series in a more sober direction, or if this is just the way the distribution had worked out. It was possible, I thought, that the next batch might have been much sillier, along the lines of Louie's trip to Alabama or bad marijuana experience from season one.
Instead, the episodes since then have involved, among other topics:
On 'Mad Men' comparisons, the end of empire, women in British '50s TV news, and more
Yesterday, I offered up my review of BBC America's "The Hour," a new six-part drama series about the launch of a new BBC investigative news show in 1956, and how the staff - specifically tough producer Bel Rowely (Romola Garai), her brilliant but impetuous sidekick Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw) and dashing anchorman Hector Madden (Dominic West) - get caught up in the Suez Canal crisis, a series of espionage murders and various romantic entanglements. As I said in the review, it's "Broadcast News" meets "Mad Men" meets Ian Fleming, and I rather liked it (albeit with some reservations about the spy material).
While I was at press tour, I got a chance to interview the series' creator, Abi Morgan, about her inspiration, her research into the period, the inevitable "Mad Men" comparisons, and more. We don't really get into any spoilers (especially since I'd only seen three of the six episodes at the time), but I imagine the interview may be more edifying to people who've already seen the episodes that have aired in the U.K.
(And that, in turn, allows me to remind you that the spoiler policy on this blog means plot discussion of anything that has yet to air in the U.S. is off-limits. Got it?)
My conversation with Morgan after the jump, and I'll have a post up tonight for people's reaction to the first episode (which airs from 10-11:15)...
Dan and Alan answer questions about the troubles at AMC, the 'Friday Night Lights' movie, beards and more
We promised two things in advance about this week's Firewall & Iceberg Podcast: that we likely wouldn't record it on a Monday, and that it would be almost entirely devoted to listener mail. Both of those promises came true, and though we start the show with low, post-press tour energy levels, things get snappy in a hurry. The rundown:
Recent AMC kerfuffles -- 01:30 - 14:00
Kurt Sutter Twitter kerfuffles -- 14:00 - 21:00
A new "Friday Night Lights" Movie -- 21:25 - 28:00
The greatness of the "FNL" pilot -- 28:00 - 36:40
Our own review-writing process -- 36:40 - 43:00
All-Star Beard Team -- 43:00 - 49:40
"Breaking Bad" -- 49:45 - 01:05:20
And as always, feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
if you have questions you want answered on the show. Please put the word "podcast" in your subject line to make it easy to track them down amid the hundreds of random press releases we get every day.
'Mad Men' meets 'Broadcast News' meets Ian Fleming in a sharp new series
Imitation is the sincerest form of television, but usually the shows being imitated are the biggest of hits. The thinking, after all, is that your clone won't get ratings as high as "Friends" or "CSI" or "Lost," but if you copy a show with a big enough base, the fall-off will lead to acceptable ratings. For some reason, though, this season ABC and NBC - two broadcast networks who are still, in theory, in the business of trying to get the biggest audiences possible for their shows - have scheduled a pair of new dramas ("Pan Am" for ABC, "The Playboy Club" for NBC) both very reminiscent of AMC's "Mad Men,"whose ratings would nonetheless have gotten it canceled by week 3 on a network.
"Mad Men" is an incredible show, and it's easy to understand why the big broadcasters might have some cable envy. But even if "Pan Am" has some promise ("The Playboy Club," much less so), it's hard to imagine either rookie succeeding commercially when they debut next month. If anyone should be trying out a drama set close to the "Mad Men" era, it should be a cable network even lower on the food chain than AMC, and/or the British.
And BBC America is about to prove this point with tomorrow's 10 p.m. debut of "The Hour," a winning new drama set only a few years before Don Draper would get a new secretary named Peggy Olsen.
Larry feuds with Ricky Gervais as the series moves to New York
A quick review of last night's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" coming up just as soon as I admire the view from Renny Harlin's apartment...
Jesse and Mike spend a day together, while Walt and Skyler celebrate
A review of tonight's "Breaking Bad" - which was just renewed for 16 final episodes - coming up just as soon as I break out the non-fancy liquor...
16 more episodes will end Walter White's story, but when/how they'll air is unclear
AMC has renewed "Breaking Bad" for a final batch of 16 episodes that will conclude the Emmy-winning series' run.
What did everybody think of Cinemax's new action series?
Because I've taken a short break post-press tour, I didn't have time to write a review of Cinemax's new original action series "Strike Back," but Dan and I did talk about it for a while on this week's podcast. As I said there, it's probably not any better than most of the straight-to-video action B-movies that Cinemax was already airing, but the writing (mostly by "X-Files" alum Frank Spotnitz) is crisp, the action scenes well-done, and leads Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton both convincingly kick ass.
For anyone who happened to watch the premiere, what did you think? Might you stick around for a while?
Rex, Esther and Gwen plot escapes, while Jack moves up the Phicorp ladder
I know I said I'm pretty much done on reviewing "Torchwood: Miracle Day," but with only five episodes left (including tonight's), I figured it doesn't hurt to put up a post each week for those of you who are sticking with it to talk about why.
So talk about more fun and excitement with Colin Maloney, the show's latest familiar American guest star, public reaction to the latest piece of news, and more.