Liane Bonin has a more thorough recap of last night's "Top Chef" - plus a Padma bikini photo, for those who enjoy such a thing - up at our Monkeys as Critics blog, so I'm going to keep my thoughts brief this week, coming up just as soon as I shamelessly plug another NBC Universal reality competition from Magical Elves...
Is the show being too tough on the chefs this late in the game?
Winona gets in trouble, and Art chases an old nemesis
What happens if the service starts producing its own content?
During the brief, glorious run of the catering comedy "Party Down," I encountered very few people who actually watched the show on Starz. (Which is the reason the run was so brief, if glorious.) Most watched it via Netflix's streaming video service. One person I met was even surprised to learn that "Party Down" was available anywhere but Netflix.
That's an extreme case involving a microscopically-rated show, but the ubiquity of Netflix Instant - particularly for people who have Blu-Ray players, video game consoles or other devices that allow them to stream movies and TV shows directly to their TV sets - is becoming a real threat to the traditional TV business. Why bother spending a lot of money for a cable subscription - and/or why bother trying to watch any show live, with commercials - when there are thousands upon thousands of hours of fine shows available to stream on whatever schedule is most convenient for you?
Lights and the show try to move on without Ed Romeo
No Delroy Lindo, but a solid focus on our main partners
Isaiah Mustafa and Stacy Keibler return to join Casey's new team
How did TV's best comedy handle the transition into the "real" season 3 episodes?
It's Monday, which means it's time for a new Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, in which Dan and I preview this week's "Parks and Recreation" (the first one produced after the show returned from a long, pregnancy-related hiatus), talk about Pee-wee Herman's HBO special, and answer a bunch of your questions. The run-down:
Bill sticks to his guns in the series' penultimate episode
No apocalyptic AMC drama match-up, but some Elite 8 surprises
Two similar but effective films about early '90s hoops
One of the goals of ESPN's year-plus "30 for 30" documentary series was to break the sports documentary genre out of the effective but familiar rut it had been placed in by HBO, which had dominated the field for years. Each HBO documentary tells its story and tells it well, but virtually always in the same way. If you know a bit about the subject matter, you'll know going in exactly how the movie will unfold.
Not every "30 for 30" film managed to transcend the conventions of the form - talking head/talking head/archival clip/talking head/archival clip/sad music over B-roll footage/talking head - but the best ones did. But the first major post-"30 for 30" doc that ESPN is debuting (from many of that series' producers) is very much done in a conventional style - which is particularly striking as it debuts a night after HBO airs its own HBO-style film on a very similar subject.
Sunday at 9 p.m., ESPN presents "Fab Five," a two-hour film about the Michigan men's basketball team that famously started five freshmen - including future NBA mainstays Chris Webber, Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard - and lost the NCAA championship in back to back years in the early '90s. The night before at 9:30 p.m., meanwhile, HBO has "Runnin' Rebels of UNLV," about the basketball team that went to the title game in the two years immediately before the Fab Five debuted.