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Credit: NBC

As 'Parenthood' ends, will the network family drama end with it?

The wonderful, maddening, tear-jerking NBC series says goodbye

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.

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<p>The Americans</p>

The Americans

Credit: FX

Season premiere review: 'The Americans' - 'EST Men': The deep end

Philip and Elizabeth's old handler returns with an uncomfortable new assignment

"The Americans" is back for a third season. I had interviewed producers Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields, as well as co-star Holly Taylor, and I have a review of the season premiere coming up just as soon as we go get a non-beer...

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Credit: Pivot

Review: 'Fortitude' a thriller that depends on location, location, location

A murder mystery gets tons of mileage from its remote Arctic setting

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.

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<p>Holly TAylor in The Americans</p>

Holly TAylor in The Americans

Credit: FX

'The Americans' co-star Holly Taylor: 'Please right now initiate me into the KGB!'

What's next for Paige? Plus, why it's useful to have Felicity as your TV mom

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.

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<p>Garret Dillahunt in Justified</p>

Garret Dillahunt in Justified

Credit: FX

Review: 'Justified' - 'Cash Game'

In which we get to know our new villains a little better

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...

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<p>Retta on Parks and Recreation</p>

Retta on Parks and Recreation

Credit: NBC

Review: 'Parks and Recreation' - 'Gryzzlbox/Save JJs'

Will Leslie and Ron's reunion be enough to stop Gryzzl? And who is... Jonathan Karate?

A review of tonight's two "Parks and Recreation" episodes coming up just as soon as James Woods follows my niece on Twitter...

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Credit: HBO

HBO renews 'Togetherness' for season 2

Duplass brothers dramedy part of Sundance-esque Sunday lineup

HBO has ordered a second season of "Togetherness."

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<p>The Americans</p>

The Americans

Credit: FX

'The Americans' producers: 'We're thinking about a long story that we're telling'

Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg on weather, Paige vs. Henry, Margo Martindale and the series' endgame

From its first season to its second, FX’s “The Americans” went from being a very good drama to one of the very best things on television, a show I ultimately ranked #2 overall for 2014. I’ve seen the first four episodes of the third season, which debuts tomorrow night at 10, and while there hasn’t been a comparable huge leap in quality, the show also hasn’t backslid at all. The start of the new season feels very much of a piece with season 2, pushing forward the storyline about Philip and Elizabeth being ordered by the KGB to recruit their daughter Paige to be an asset, and finding creative new ways to portray the brutality of the spy trade in the early ‘80s. (There’s a scene early in next week’s second episode that you may need to “watch” from behind the couch.)

On an unseasonably warm day early last month, I paid a visit to the Brooklyn soundstages that play home to the show, where controlled chaos was the order of the day. They were simultaneously filming scenes from four different episodes; when I spoke with Matthew Rhys, he wondered if they were perhaps setting a record for cable drama production. Over the course of the day, I got to interview Rhys, Keri Russell, Holly Taylor, the show’s hair and makeup people, and showrunners Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields. Look for the Taylor interview tomorrow and Rhys, Russell and the hair and makeup people in later weeks, as some of what we discussed involves spoilers for upcoming episodes.

I had a good stretch of time to speak with Weisberg and Fields about the logistics of production — including how the first two seasons were impacted by, respectively, Hurricane Sandy and the polar vortex(*) — how they try to incorporate real events (and real TV footage) from the period into the show, why they’re yet another cable family drama where the teen daughter has a lot to do and the teen son doesn’t, early thoughts on the series' endgame, and a lot more.

(*) While the show had to that point dealt with a mild winter, it feels appropriate that this interview is publishing on the morning of Snowmageddon 2015, which forced the cancellation of last night's red carpet season 3 premiere, and at least temporarily shut down production... again. Ah well; as Weisberg and Fields note below, it'll probably lead to some gorgeous footage.

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Ask Alan, Episode 5: Can '24' be reinvented like cartoons?
Credit: Warner Bros.

Ask Alan, Episode 5: Can '24' be reinvented like cartoons?

And will a network like CBS go online-only anytime soon?

Happy Monday, boys and girls! Dan is still at Sundance, which means no podcast this week (we recorded both a podcast and a video show special while we were together in LA). So while the bulk of the HitFix staff is off in Park City, I figured I would record a new edition of Ask Alan — albeit a bit more lo-fi than usual, since the impending northeast blizzard meant I was working from home and using my iPhone instead of the usual camera.

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<p>Mad Dogs</p>

Mad Dogs

Credit: Amazon

'Mad Dogs' producer Shawn Ryan on his Amazon pilot

If Amazon orders a series, how will it differ from the UK version?

Amazon released its latest batch of pilots a couple of weeks ago, in the midst of press tour, so it took me a while to get to them, and I still haven’t had time to watch “Point of Honor.” But I saw all the other adult scripted series, and two clearly stood out as the ones I hope go to series: “The Man in the High Castle,” about a reality where the Axis powers won WWII, and “Mad Dogs,” about four middle-aged friends (played by Steve Zahn, Romany Malco, Michael Imperioli and Ben Chaplin) whose vacation to visit a fifth old pal (Billy Zane) goes terribly awry. Both are adaptations with top-notch U.S. producers involved: “Man in the High Castle” with Frank Spotnitz working from the Philip K. Dick novel, “Mad Dogs” with Shawn Ryan teaming up with “Mad Dogs” UK creator Cris Cole.

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