Even though a large part of my job is guiding people to TV shows they might find interesting, I rarely find it easy to point my own kids to things I think they should watch — or, better, to things we can watch together. There's too much good adult TV for me to keep track of these days, so I'm virtually lost when it comes to children's programming. Every now and then I'll stumble into something current and fun, like "Phineas & Ferb," or I'll pick out a vintage show that seems kid-safe(*), but they often want to watch the things their friends are watching, or just rewatch the same episode or even scene a thousand times in a row. (I can't swear to it, but I'm pretty sure the two kids spent a week at home where the only words they said to each other were, "Is mayonnaise an instrument?") And sometimes I'll find something that seems perfect for one or both their age groups — and that I also would enjoy seeing with them — only for them to reject it for some kid logic reason there's no arguing with.
(*) Though this is not always fool-proof. For a while, we were working our way through "The Cosby Show" on Hulu. Now, we are not.
One of my biggest successes in recent years was Nickelodeon's "Avatar: The Last Airbender," and later its sequel "The Legend of Korra."
Though the Bravermans love them some baseball, "Parenthood" never had a regular sports component like producer Jason Katims' previous NBC drama, "Friday Night Lights." Perhaps to make up for this, "Parenthood" fans added a competitive aspect to their viewing: trying to outdo their fellow fans over how much a given episode made them cry.
The idea that the location of a movie or TV show is a character in itself has become so overused in recent years that critics were startled to hear "Togetherness" co-creator Mark Duplass say at press tour that Los Angeles was not a significant character in the show, which they could have really set anywhere. And even the grand champion of the Location As Character shows, "The Wire," could have probably been set in a lot of different American cities that had seen better days; Baltimore was just the one David Simon knew best.
With "Fortitude," a new thriller debuting tomorrow night at 10 on Pivot(*), the location is so unique, specific and important to the story that the show would have no reason to exist without it. At its core, the plot is a familiar mystery about murder in a close-knit community that isn't used to crime on this level (see also "Broadchurch"/"Gracepoint" and "Fargo," to name just a few recent examples). But when you take that story and set it in a physically remote island town in the Arctic, where polar bears are so abundant that even kids have to carry hunting rifles for protection wherever they go? Then you have something potentially very special.
No good usually comes from focusing on the teenage kids of cable drama anti-heroes and heroines. A notable exception: Paige Jennings, the eldest child of the KGB sleeper agents at the center of FX’s “The Americans,” which returns for a third season tonight at 10. “The Americans” actually got better in its second season by concentrating more on Paige, first with her investigating her parents’ odd comings and goings, then with her horrifying her secretly Communist parents by exploring Christianity, and finally with the KGB telling Philip and Elizabeth that they must recruit Paige as an asset to the cause of Mother Russia.
That last directive drives much of the conflict in the new season, and when I visited “The Americans” set in Brooklyn last month (the same day I interviewed producers Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields), I sat down with young actress Holly Taylor to discuss the challenges of playing an ‘80s teen, her reaction to learning that Paige might be recruited, and the advantages of having Felicity Porter for a TV mom.
A review of tonight's "Justified" coming up just as soon as we decide whether we're going to flapjack or short bus the bad guys...
A review of tonight's two "Parks and Recreation" episodes coming up just as soon as James Woods follows my niece on Twitter...
HBO has ordered a second season of "Togetherness."