Inside Television with Alan Sepinwall
Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys play KGB agents undercover in Reagan's America
The world is such a flaming hot mess today that you might think the Cold War era of FX’s “The Americans” — a new drama about a pair of deep cover KGB operatives living in Washington, D.C. at the dawn of the Reagan presidency — would feel almost quaint and reassuring. But what makes the series (it debuts tomorrow night at 10) so impressive is the way it treats the 1980s as its present, not its past.
Acclaimed director has toyed with television before, and now has Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright with him
David Fincher’s directing career was built on works that aired on television — just not the series kind. He made his bones as a director of commercials and music videos, before graduating to movies in the early ‘90s.
Now 20 years later (and after a few near-misses) Fincher is finally working on his first scripted television series, the political drama “House of Cards,” adapted from the acclaimed early ‘90s UK miniseries.Only it’s not technically a television series, but rather an original series produced for Netflix’s streaming video service, which will debut all 13 episodes of the first season (a second is already in the works) on February 1. It’s the approach Netflix used for a previous original series, “Lilyhammer,” and the way that Fincher has himself consumed the few TV shows he watches. But as an expensive production with big stars — Kevin Spacey plays the ruthless congressman at the show’s center, and Robin Wright his calculating wife — it’s something of a canary in the coal mine for this approach.
Earlier this month, another reporter and I sat down with Fincher to discuss the project’s origins, what he learned about telling a 13-hour story as opposed to a 2-hour film, and more.
One of Joe's disciples begins killing, and Ryan gets a new supervisor
A few quick thoughts on tonight's "The Following" coming up just as soon as I speak to people through Gothic Romanticism...
Dan and Alan also review 'Do No Harm' and the 'Parenthood' and 'Fringe' finales
Happy Monday, boys and girls! Dan is back from Sundance, which means it's time for our first Firewall & Iceberg Podcast in a while, a packed episode featuring discussion of shows new ("The Americans," "House of Cards," "Do No Harm") and old (the legacy of "30 Rock," the finales of "Fringe" and "Parenthood"), plus some other miscellany (Dan's thoughts on the films he saw at Sundance, and our reaction to the end of last week's "The Office"). The lineup:
Sundance (00:00:50 - 00:4:30)
"The Americans" (00:04:40 - 00:15:55)
"Do No Harm" (00:15:55 - 00:29:20)
"House of Cards" (00:29:25 - 00:51:30)
"30 Rock" Pre-Finale Retrospective (00:51:35 - 01:10:25)
"Fringe" Finale (01:10:50 - 01:21:20)
"Parenthood" Finale" (01:21:25 - 01:35:25)
"The Office" (01:35:30 - 01:41:50)
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
Alicia gets an offer, Louis Canning goes after his money and the firm battles Neil Gross again
A quick review of last night's "The Good Wife" coming up just as soon as I insist our children be raised Jewish...
Lip and Fiona set honey traps, Jimmy has a wedding and Frank hits new lows in a great episode
A quick review of tonight's "Shameless" coming up just as soon as I give you a coupon for a free ham...
Hannah and Elijah experiment with drugs, and Marnie learns about art
A review of tonight's "Girls" — which HBO officially renewed on Friday — coming up just as soon as I punch someone who's been on a Disney Channel show...
25 years after 'Wiseguy,' two-time Oscar winner stars in Netflix original drama
It’s been 25 years since Kevin Spacey was last in a weekly role on a television series, when he made CBS viewers sit up, take notice, and ask, “Who the heck is that guy?” with his performance as “Wiseguy” villain Mel Profitt, a charismatic crime boss with an unhealthy relationship with his sister and a drug addiction he hid by shooting up between his toes. (“The toes knows,” he would say while giggling, in a line I can still hear in my head a quarter century later.)
Technically, the two-time Oscar winner still hasn’t returned to television, as his newest role — as Francis Underwood, the ruthless, silver-tongued House Majority Whip in the new political drama “House of Cards” — is appearing exclusively as part of Netflix’s streaming video service. (All 13 episodes of the first season will be posted on Friday, Feb. 1.) But the series was made in the style of a premium cable drama, even though Spacey, writer Beau Willimon (adapting the early ‘90s British miniseries of the same name, which starred Ian Richardson as Francis), director David Fincher and much of the cast (notably Robin Wright as Francis’ calculating wife Claire) have little to no experience working in television.
I spoke with Spacey about his return to the format that launched his career, the advantage of playing the same character over a long period of time, and more.
Lena Dunham comedy will get 12 episodes next time around
It's official: HBO has ordered a third season of "Girls."
The comedy's producers have been talking for a while like the third season was already a done deal — earlier this week, star/creator/producer Lena Dunham told Alec Baldwin on a podcast that the third season would film in some of the studio space "30 Rock" was vacating — but the actual announcement didn't come until this afternoon.
By conventional ratings measures, "Girls" doesn't look so spectacular, as the season 2 premiere only drew 866,000 for its first telecast, and only 1.6 million viewers over multiple airings that night. But in total, across many platforms (including HBOGo), more than 3.8 million have watched that episode so far. Besides, HBO doesn't really rely on conventional ratings measures — or on ratings at all — but on things that will drive subscriptions, enhance the company's brand, etc. And "Girls" has been a huge critical success, has won several awards (including a pair of Golden Globes earlier this month) and is a show that people are talking about — whether they like it or hate it.
The third season will consist of 12 episodes, as opposed to the 10 for the first two seasons. The third episode of season 2 airs Sunday night at 9 on HBO.
Jim and Pam's argument leads to a major change for the series
A review of last night's "The Office" coming up just as soon as I crack the Dunder Code...