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The Playlist

Recap: 'Veep' Again Chooses Lower Stakes Humor Over Richer Comedic Potential

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • April 21, 2013 10:30 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Having barely survived the midterm elections in the season opener, Vice President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) has now finally been granted a greater say in the West Wing, starting with a chair on Foreign Policy. So, would we finally see Armando Iannucci try and tackle some bigger political themes, and perhaps grapple with potentially richer comic material? The answer is: not really. Essentially, this episode is basically A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Meeting, detailing the wide range of mishaps and crisis management Meyer and her team have to undergo on the way to getting her to an important, key strategy deliberation regarding a hostage situation overseas.

Review & Recap: Khaleesi Fires It Up in 'Game Of Thrones' Season 3 Episode 4 'And Now His Watch Is Ended'

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • April 21, 2013 9:00 PM
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  • 6 Comments
Game Of Thrones - Daenerys Targaryen - Season 3
Hello again everyone. In light of this past week’s events, I have to just jump up on this soapbox for a hot minute, so please humor me. I think that it’s an unfortunate coincidence, but also a relevant one to consider, when last Sunday night we experienced the brutal amputation to close out “Game of Thrones,” and then on Monday afternoon were forced to grapple with the shocking reality of amputation in the wake of the tragic Boston Marathon bombing. The graphic images of the bombing’s aftermath shattered our screens, in Tumblr dashboards and Facebook newsfeeds, and offered a sobering reality to the images of gore we experienced the night before on HBO. I don’t condemn “Game of Thrones” for showing us violence and gore, because violence and gore confronts us on the news everyday. To relegate violence to a fantastical world of dragons and forests and 3-eyed ravens and magic can be a coping mechanism for an audience like us, who must reconcile horrific acts in our own world on a regular basis.

Review: 'Mary And Martha' Starring Hilary Swank Plays Like A Dramatized Charity Infomercial

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • April 20, 2013 11:56 AM
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  • 11 Comments
"Did you know, that if you take every single person killed in a terrorist act around the world in the last twenty years, and you add to that all the lives lost in the Middle East since 1967 -- the 6 Day War -- and you add to that every single American life lost in Vietnam, in Korea, and in every single American engagement since then -- Iraq, Afghanistan... If you take all those lives and you multiply by two, that's the number of children that die of malaria every single year," James Woods gravely intones in "Mary and Martha." That this audience educating factoid comes during one of the climactic moments of the movie should tell you everything you need to know about the intentions and storytelling choices in this sentimental, misjudged, one-note clunker, that's yet another wide misstep by two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank.

Recap: 'Veep' Returns With Lots Of Jokes, Little Characterization

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • April 14, 2013 10:30 PM
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  • 0 Comments
At this point you're either watching "Veep" to keep up with the endless one liners, in order to cherish the handful that make it through and result in a good belly laugh...or you're not. One complaint that we had following season one was that Armando Iannucci often put the gags in front of any kind of characterization, and he's not changing his game plan with season two. But if the season two opener is anything to go by, it results in another uneven mashup of sitcom setups in a show that always wants cut a slice through the absurd world that is DC politics.

Review: 'Mad Men' Returns With A Confident 2-Hour Premiere That Proves It's Still The Best Show On TV

  • By Cory Everett
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  • April 7, 2013 11:00 PM
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  • 16 Comments
At this point, few would argue that "Mad Men" doesn't deserve to be listed as one of the greatest television shows of the modern age, but what not many have considered until now (perhaps for fear of jinxing it) is that if it continues to be as strong as it has been, it may just top them all. Now entering its sixth season, fans of the show have been holding their breath wondering if creator Matt Weiner and co. can possibly keep this up. After all, not many shows have been able to maintain this kind of quality and consistency this far into their run. Even hall-of-famers "The Sopranos" and "The Wire" started to falter a bit by season 5, but so far "Mad Men" hasn't lost a step.

Review & Recap: ‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 3 Begins To Coalesce With Episode 2 'Dark Wings, Dark Words'

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • April 7, 2013 7:05 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Joe Dempsie, Ben Hawkey and Maisie Williams in Game of Thrones
After episode one, "Valar Dohaeris," reminded us of what half of our Seven Kingdoms are up to in “Game Of Thrones,” episode two, “Dark Wings, Dark Words,” catches us up with the remaining characters not featured in the inaugural episode and moves the story forward in a more decided fashion, introducing new, significant characters and teaching us a bit more about some of the more mysterious aspects of story.

Review: It Might Not Be Journalism, But You Won't Find The Stories On 'Vice' Anywhere Else

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • April 5, 2013 5:18 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Ah, Vice. The once long ago irreverent little zine out of Montreal and has grown into a globe spanning empire, with offices around the world, and an online presence that has expanded far beyond their still free, glossy monthly magazine. And while they may still be snarked at for their ongoing Dos & Don'ts, stunt like "reporting" which sometimes is as sophisticated as someone taking drugs and then writing about it (an approach spoofed by Lena Dunham on "Girls") and general tendency to stick to the kind of off-the-cuff, fratboy humor that made their name, if you look closer, they've matured considerably.

Review & Recap: ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 3 Slowly Rises From The Ashes of ‘Battle Of Blackwater’ In Episode 1, 'Valar Dohaeris'

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • March 31, 2013 8:58 PM
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  • 8 Comments
Sometimes you have to be a little nerdy to fully understand HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Or at least understand it more deeply than the average viewer. If Season 2 ended with the well-titled episode “Valar Morghulis" meaning, “all men must die,” in Season 3 we begin with the less ominous and more appropriate "Valar Dohaeris" -- “all men must serve.” As fans of Westeros should know, Season 3 falls roughly within the first half of “A Storm of Swords,” the third of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels by George R. R. Martin.

Review: 'Phil Spector' Killed Lana Clarkson, But David Mamet's Movie Presupposes, Maybe He Didn't?

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 22, 2013 8:56 AM
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  • 4 Comments
With production on the film starting all the way back in the summer of 2011, it's been a curiously long wait for David Mamet's "Phil Spector," and from the first moment, one gets the impression that HBO's lawyers were a bit nervous about the effort. Before we even see one frame of the picture, an opening title card insists: "This is a work of fiction. It's not 'based on a true story.' It is a drama inspired by actual persons in a trial, but it is neither an attempt to depict the actual persons, nor to comment upon the trial or its outcome." But frankly, it's a little hard to swallow, particular since the director himself has been quite clear about what he thinks about Spector's fate regarding the murder of Lana Clarkson.

Recap: After An Adventurous Season 2, 'Girls' Finale Plays It Safe & Conventional

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 18, 2013 9:56 AM
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  • 3 Comments
It has been a pretty adventurous second season for "Girls," and one has to look no further than the experimental, format-breaking mid-season episodes. The nearly standalone short film "One Man's Trash," the Staten Island-set "Boys" and Jessa one-off "Video Games" were all fascinating detours from the show's more traditional HBO comedy format, and often delivered bigger dramatic and emotional payoffs. But as the series wound down, the return to a more conventional approach has been less satisfying, and this weekend's finale is certainly a let down for anyone hoping that Lena Dunham might regularly be taking "Girls" into bolder waters structurally.

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