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VIDEO ESSAY - MAD MEN Moments: The Sad Clown Dress

Selecting an iconic moment for Season Two of Mad Men, we focus on the idyllic domestic world of Betty Draper and how it all falls apart within a 24-hour span.
  • By Deborah Lipp and Kevin B. Lee
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  • March 22, 2012 8:08 AM
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  • 0 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY - MAD MEN Moments: The Lawnmower

Our iconic moment of Mad Men season three easily ranks as one of the most shocking of the entire series to date.
  • By Amanda Marcotte and Kevin B. Lee
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  • March 22, 2012 8:07 AM
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  • 1 Comment

VIDEO ESSAY - MAD MEN Moments: The Fight

There is near-unanimous consensus that 4.07: "The Suitcase" is the standout episode of Season Four of Mad Men, so we knew that our video essay on a singular moment from that season had to come from that episode.
  • By Serena Bramble, Deborah Lipp and Kevin B. Lee
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  • March 22, 2012 8:06 AM
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  • 3 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: A close analysis of the Season 1 title sequence from THE WIRE

Analysis of the opening credits of the first season of "The Wire," exploring how the images highlight the overall themes of each season and offer predictive snippets of future plot twists.
  • By Andrew Dignan, Kevin B. Lee and Matt Zoller Seitz
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  • March 11, 2012 1:40 PM
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  • 0 Comments

GREY MATTERS: The lunatics are in the hall! It's the top 10 films about mental illness

It’s been a good few years for crazy. "Homeland’s" made bipolar disorder a household ailment yet again. Sean Durkin’s "Martha Marcy May Marlene" located the goal posts between delusion and reality in its brainwashed hero’s mind and promptly moved them repeatedly (just like in real life!). And while William Friedkin’s incredibly distressing tale of mutually assured destruction, "Bug," may not have hewed to the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders," its claustrophobic form of poetic, post-"Repulsion" address captured essential truths about madness a supposedly reality-based film like "A Beautiful Mind" could never touch.
  • By Ian Grey
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  • March 6, 2012 2:04 PM
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  • 11 Comments

MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: What makes MAD MEN great?

We head into "Mad Men’s" fifth season knowing nothing about it. The on-air promos recycle moments from past seasons, and the teaser art has been cryptic even by this show’s standards: an opening-credits-styled image of a falling man that could be hawking any season, and a photo of hero Don Draper staring at two mannequins — a clothed male and a naked female* — through a dress-shop window. Matthew Weiner, who banned advance screeners after a New York Times review revealed innocuous details from the season-four premiere, has dropped a cone of silence over the production. We have no idea if Don went through with plans to wed his young secretary, Megan; if Joan had Roger’s baby; or if the new agency is still in business. We don’t even know the year in which this season takes place, which at least would prepare us for the wingspan of Roger’s lapels.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
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  • March 6, 2012 12:50 AM
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  • 1 Comment

GREY MATTERS: DOCTOR WHO's sublime study of grief, death and transfiguration continues to captivate its viewers

On a recent episode of "The Graham Norton Show," the genial goofball host was plainly delighted to have Karen Gillan—known worldwide as Amy Pond, the spirited, ginger-haired companion of The Doctor on "Doctor Who"—on his guest couch. Of course, Norton couldn’t pass up commenting on a rumor that Amy Pond would meet her maker on a coming "Who" episode, chiding her, “Everyone knows nobody on 'Doctor Who' dies!” The joke was that everyone on "Doctor Who" dies all the time and yet comes back to die yet again and again. Because dying is what you do on Who.
  • By Ian Grey
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  • January 19, 2012 11:30 AM
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  • 3 Comments

MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: The Failures, Successes, Possibilities, and Danger Signs of HELL ON WHEELS

Like a lot of people, I watched the first few episodes of AMC's "Hell on Wheels," Joe and Tony Gayton’s drama about the building of the transcontinental railroad, and then checked out. It wasn't awful, but a lot of it was weak, and even in its better moments it seemed not to have found its tone yet. The pilot and the next couple of episodes seemed stranded between grubby naturalism and slick, empty mythmaking. In one scene, the show would feel like a wannabe "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" or "Deadwood" muddy and lyrical and depressive. In another it would echo Sergio Leone or early Clint Eastwood ("High Plains Drifter" and "The Outlaw Josey Wales" especially). Yet another scene would feel anachronistic, glossy, and weightless. When I finally did catch up after the New Year, what I saw made me wish I'd been watching the show in real time. "Hell on Wheels" didn't turn into a great drama, but it settled into a distinctive groove, growing more relaxed and confident by the week, dealing with painful historical subjects and unique personal crises that most TV, even Western-themed TV, often ignores, and indulging in some of the most deliriously cinematic montages this side of "Breaking Bad." Some scenes and moments were flat-out amazing — so unlike anything else on TV that they made me want to forgive or forget the just-okay dialogue and production design and hit-and-miss performances.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
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  • January 16, 2012 8:38 PM
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  • 0 Comments

MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: ALCATRAZ should never have been freed

What if the prisoners of Alcatraz all mysteriously disappeared when the prison closed in 1963 and then started reappearing in the year 2012? And what if they hadn't aged a day and were set on finishing unfinished business, settling old grudges and the like? If that sounds fascinating to you, then you’ll probably give the new J.J. Abrams–produced series Alcatraz (Fox, Mondays 8 p.m.) more of the benefit of the doubt than I did. I found tonight’s two-hour premiere so listless that I’m having a hard time mustering the energy to pan it. And the second episode is only a slight improvement. My fascination with the real prison probably has at least something to do with my resistance. The place has such a rich history — one that has already been alluded to in such films asBirdman of Alcatraz and Escape From Alcatraz — that I’m not yet convinced that it should be reduced to a mere backdrop for sci-fi mythologizing by remnants of the Lost writers room and cast. But we’ll see.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
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  • January 16, 2012 8:24 PM
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  • 0 Comments

MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: PARADISE LOST 3: PURGATORY Offers Only a Fleeting Sense of Relief for the West Memphis Three

By all rights, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky's "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory" (HBO, 9 p.m. Eastern) should feel more triumphant than it does. It is, after all, about the release of the West Memphis Three, men who were imprisoned — wrongly, it now seems — for murdering and mutilating three young boys in West Memphis, Arkansas, nearly two decades ago. When convicted killers Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelly, Jr. were sentenced back in 1993, they were mere boys themselves, high school kids with pimply skin and uncertain voices.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz
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  • January 12, 2012 6:59 PM
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  • 0 Comments

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