Matt Roush


Weekend TV: FX's Creepy Strain, Return of Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex

Mia Maestro

"It's not for everyone," growls the grizzled, sword-wielding Armenian pawnshop owner (Game of Thrones' David Bradley), whose unromantic notion of vampire slaying includes mass decapitations and body burnings. Likewise, FX's deliciously freaky and gruesomely graphic The Strain (Sunday, 10/9c) won't be for all tastes. But the network is betting, probably correctly, that a midsummer popcorn feast of classic monster-movie horror, served without apology and blessedly free of irony, will resonate with fright fans eager to jump out of their seats, which turns out to be a Strain specialty. This could, and deserves to be, FX's Walking Dead-sized blockbuster.

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Critic's Notebook: The Emmy Nominations

Lena Headey

No one expects the Emmy nominations to please everybody — there's simply too much TV these days, including on unconventional platforms like Netflix, and there are always going to be shows and performers that won't make the cut, however deserving. But even when the Emmy voters get something right, like adding HBO's freshman hoot Silicon Valley to the best-comedy contenders, we still find ourselves griping over where they stumbled, nowhere more glaringly than in the drama-series race. (For a list of nominees in the major categories, go here.)

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Review: Extant and New NBC Summer Comedies

Greg Poehler

In space, no one can see you conceive. That appears to be the weird but intriguing premise of CBS's high-profile summer fantasy drama Extant, a show put into play after last year's successful summer run of the network's increasingly absurd Under the Dome. While Wednesday's pilot episode (9/8c) of Extant (all that was available for review) lacks the sort of unforgettable "wow" moment provided by the severed cow in Dome's opener, the new series also seems less likely to lapse irrevocably into silly hysteria.

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Ask Matt: Orange and the Emmys, Leftovers, Last Ship, View Shake-Up, and More

Christopher Eccleston, Justin Theroux

Send questions and comments to askmatt@tvguidemagazine.com and follow me on Twitter!

Question: With Emmy nominations coming up, I had a few questions about Orange Is the New Black. What effect if any do you think Season 2 airing just around the time of Emmy voting will have on the show? Thankfully, Season 2 seems to have lived up to its predecessor in the eyes of the critics (I thought the season overall might have even been better than the first), and performances by cast members like Uzo Aduba (Suzanne "Crazy Eyes") and Samira Wiley (Poussey) blew me out of the water, but if the season didn't live up to expectations, could it have possibly hurt the show in the nominations process this year as well as next? And do you think the fantastic performances by Aduba and Wiley this season could potentially help them as they try to get nominated for their work on the first season? — Kevin

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Weekend TV Review: Leftovers, Reckless, a Derek Jacobi Double Bill

Christopher Eccleston and Justin Theroux

"Everybody's ready to feel better," says the mayor of a suburban Anytown that acts as a microcosm of a shattered world in HBO's existentially bleak The Leftovers (Sunday, 10/9c). And chances are you'll require your own pick-me-up after sampling the darkest and most problematic of a new wave of end-times summer series that includes TNT's gung-ho hit The Last Ship and FX's upcoming vampire-virus horror-show The Strain (July 13). With Leftovers, it's a morose case of... read more

Review: FX's Tyrant and the Return of Covert Affairs

Tyrant

The sins of the father weigh unusually heavily on the privileged but conflicted sons at the core of FX's contrived and not very convincing new drama Tyrant (Tuesday, 10/9c) — but what do you expect when not-so-dear old dad is an honest-to-badness Middle Eastern dictator and the family is "in the oppression business," which is how estranged scion "Barry" (born Bassam) Al-Fayeed dourly looks upon his unhappy heritage.

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Monday TV Review: Fighting for Their Rights

The Case Against 8

Watching history repeat itself can be thrilling. In a neat juxtaposition, two stirring documentaries about historic civil-rights campaigns — one fresh in memory, the other marking a 50th-anniversary milestone — are airing on consecutive nights this week, a galvanizing reminder of the personal stakes in the ongoing struggle for individual freedoms.

HBO's The Case Against 8 (Monday, 9/8c), a film-festival favorite, is an intimate, exhaustive account of last year's legal battle to overturn California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage. Freedom Summer, from PBS's acclaimed American Experience series (Tuesday at 9/8c, check tvguide.com listings), recalls the selfless efforts of hundreds of college students from across the country who descended on Mississippi in the sweltering summer of 1964, facing violent resistance in their determination to challenge the segregationist establishment and register African Americans to vote.

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Ask Matt: 24, Game of Thrones, Louie, Summer "Burn-Offs," TV Pirates

Keifer Sutherland, William Devane

Send questions and comments to askmatt@tvguidemagazine.com and follow me on Twitter!

Question: Let's talk 24: Live Another Day. What are your thoughts on the season so far? I have to say, I'm loving it! The two-hour opener wasn't the best, and I'm not thrilled about the Chloe with the dragon tattoo, but it's been getting progressively better each week, and it's starting to feel like the 24 that I used to love (i.e., up to Season 5.) By the end of the original series, they had lost what made it great: the intriguing peripheral characters, politics and side-stories, and completely focused on indestructible Jack and his band of disposable supporting players. But this season he's found a worthy sidekick in Kate, we have all the drama around Heller and his team, the Russians lurking in the background, and I'm really digging where they're going with the hipster CIA tech. (Could we have a new Chloe on our hands?) read more

Critic's Notebook: Summer TV Comings and Goings

Tatiana Maslany

Forget the old Rodgers & Hammerstein song about June. TV is busting out all over, and what a remarkable week it has been. Starting with HBO's Game of Thrones wrapping another astounding season last Sunday — this run of episodes blessed by being able to dramatize so many, though not all, of the climactic events of book 3, A Storm of Swords, the best in George R.R. Martin's "Song of Ice & Fire" series — ending with a... read more

Ask Matt: Fargo, Glades Rage (and Other Cancellations), Case Histories

Billy Bob Thornton

Send questions and comments to askmatt@tvguidemagazine.com and follow me on Twitter!

Question: I am shocked how some of your readers think Fargo should have been just a follow-up to the movie with let's see how Marge is doing since everyone else involved in the movie was either dead or in prison. I agree that the show is terrific. The episode last week was one of the most amazing episodes of TV I have ever seen.

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