Shea Whigham, Steve Buscemi
Board-Walking Dead Empire: Now there's a mash-up I'd like to see. Zombies vs. Jazz Age bootleggers. Period art, meet graphic pop art.
In terms of Sunday night buzz, the zombies have been winning lately, with the six concentrated hours of AMC's intensely compelling horror fest The Walking Dead somewhat upstaging the more languorous, layered storytelling of HBO's gorgeously engrossing Boardwalk Empire. Both will be back next fall (more or less, time-wise), and I will be eagerly awaiting their return. Especially after each wrapped their first seasons Sunday night with very powerful episodes...
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Question: I was wondering if you've seen the new Game of Thrones trailer that aired before Boardwalk Empire. It looks like HBO is putting a lot of promotion into the series, but I'm wondering if TV audiences will give a fantasy show, even on HBO, a chance. The series isn't fantasy in the Lord of the Rings style of high magic, magical races and so on, so I'm hopeful that many people who are turned off by classic fantasy tropes may give it a try. It seems like many people dismiss fantasy as a genre out of hand, which puzzles me, because isn't True Blood a fantasy series? Vampires, werewolves and fairies aren't exactly reality. Game of Thrones is a character-driven series with captivating characters, compelling story arcs with many twists and turns, and some fantastic acting talent including Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey and more. Do you think audiences will give it a chance? — Rob
Matt Roush: If the series is anywhere near as good as the books, I hope and trust the HBO faithful will check this out...
Men of a Certain Age
Some guys grow on you the better you get to know them. Take the three best buds of TNT's Men of a Certain Age. When I first met them a year ago, their midlife-crisis angst felt suffocating, the deck stacked against them in heavy-handed downer story lines. But as the first season progressed, it's not so much that life got easier but the shrill tone lightened up considerably (especially at home with Andre Braugher's sad-sack Owen). By the poignant end, I was looking forward to welcoming them back, and I'm happy to say the new episodes don't disappoint.
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Bear in mind that ...
As the TV calendar year begins to wind down, here's some of what got me wound up about TV this week.
FINALE WATCH: DOGGONE GOOD: And now the waiting begins, with these appropriately ambiguous final words as Hank and Britt reach a crossroads in FX's terrific Terriers season (hopefully not series) finale: "Which way will it be?" There's little doubt that Hank will deliver his partner and best bud Britt to prison to serve time for his jealousy-fueled assault on the guy-who-didn't-sleep-with-Katie.
We've been waiting all season — some I would imagine rather impatiently — for the worlds to collide on Fringe, and it finally happened in the last moments of the most recent (Nov. 18) episode, which is where this week's pivotal and please-don't-miss-it installment picks up.
To watch the awesome teaser, go here.
Saturday Night Live (Saturday, 11:30/10:30c, NBC)
You laughin' at me? Let's hope that's the case when revered Oscar-winner Robert DeNiro returns to host SNL for his third time, kicking off three weeks of new episodes. (DeNiro's Little Fockers, the third film in the Meet the Parents series, opens Dec. 22.) Musical guest is Diddy-Dirty Money, a group comprised of Sean "Diddy" Combs, Kalenna Harper and Dawn Richard.
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Questions: A couple of questions on NBC's Monday night lineup. First, what has your opinion been on Chuck this year? I never thought I would say this, but I find myself wishing they had tied up everything last year, when I thought Chuck was at an all-time high in quality. This season has seemed extremely uneven and uninspired to me, with the usually unbearable Buy More plotlines made even worse by the fact that there isn't a whole lot going on in the A-plot week to week either. Your thoughts?
Secondly, I have been enjoying The Event a great deal, but find myself not caring at all whenever the scene shifts to Sean and Leila. Everything they are involved in just seems so small and trite compared to the big conspiracy storyline, and I also don't find myself impressed by those actors' performances. I understand that since Lost and the brilliant work that show did with its characters, all of these high-concept shows have tried to incorporate the everyday hero to resonate with viewers, but the difference there (other than character portrayal) is that those heroes were thrust into the meat of the plot, rather than being relegated to the side plots we have seen in The Event. I just find myself thinking ...
Restrepo (Monday, 9/8c, National Geographic Channel)
Combat has rarely been captured with such authentic immediacy and gritty urgency as in this wrenching you-are-there Afghan War chronicle from Sebastian Junger (The Perfect Storm) and Tim Hetherington. Their cameras capture the near-constant tension of life (and, naturally, death) with a platoon stationed in a treacherous outpost — named for a beloved fallen medic — where the next firefight attack could come at any moment. There are moments of raunchy levity and rowdy rough-housing as the men settle in to this no-man's-land, but the overall impact is devastating. There's a reason this has already been short-listed in the documentary feature category at this year's Oscars. ...
Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv, John Noble
Before we settle in for a nice long Thanksgiving weekend, some thoughts on a few of the TV shows and headlines that caught my eye over the last few days—some of which makes me thankful, some not so much.
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THANKS to Fox for suddenly making the midseason interesting with its bold scheduling moves in the new year — though NO THANKS to some of the side-effects (especially involving Fringe) and NO THANKS to breaking the news late on a Friday night, as if we somehow wouldn't take notice...