The Playlist

Recap: 'The Newsroom' Halts Its Death Plunge With Its Least Terrible Episode Since The Pilot

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • July 23, 2012 10:03 AM
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  • 24 Comments
So far "The Newsroom" has had two major problems, sitting on top of a whole bunch of minor ones. Firstly, Aaron Sorkin's often-questionable approach to female characters has reached something of a zenith here. His shows have often featured strong powerful women undone by their love lives, but the leads of "The Newsroom" feel particularly and offensively bird-brained, and unlike CJ in "The West Wing," Sorkin's finest creation to date, haven't been shown to be particularly competent at their jobs either, mainly out of Sorkin's desire to show Will McAvoy to be right about everything. And some of them have been shown to be actively devilish, like Hope Davis' gossip columnist last week.

Review: Tabloid Journalism, Media Tricks & A Coldplay Montage...Yes, It's 'The Newsroom'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 15, 2012 11:00 PM
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  • 3 Comments
There is perhaps no better encapsulation of the many flaws and tremendous promise that Aaron Sorkin's "The Newsroom" contains than "I'll Try To Fix You." The last of the first batch of episodes sent to press, as the credits roll, it's easy to see why advance reviews were all over the map, because the show itself is an unwieldy mess of liberal politics, sitcom comedy, media commentary and genuinely affecting drama. And all of those thing swirl together in what is perhaps the most representative episode of the show so far.

Review: 'Breaking Bad' Is Back With Potent Season 5 Opener 'Live Free Or Die'

  • By Cory Everett
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  • July 15, 2012 10:12 AM
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  • 13 Comments
In four years “Breaking Bad” has become one of the most acclaimed series not just on television today, but of all time. Throughout its 46 episodes we’ve seen Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a mild mannered chemistry teacher turned crystal meth dealer, begin his transformation “from Mr. Chips into Scarface” as creator Vince Gilligan has been quoted as saying. While the show and its star are roundly celebrated today, back in 2008 when the series began, the actor was originally much more of a question mark.

Review: 'Hard Times: Lost On Long Island' A Narrow, Insubstantial Look At Unemployment

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 9, 2012 10:02 AM
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  • 10 Comments
The latest employment numbers in the United States came out on Friday, and they weren't great. In the month of June, a paltry 80,000 new jobs were created, with the national unemployment figure standing at 8.2%, more or less highlighting an economy that has made uncertainty the only thing you can reliably count on. There is a lot to talk about when it comes to those who are struggling to find work in the current landscape, but as you might tell by the title of Cannes- and Emmy-winning director Marc Levin's "Hard Times: Long On Long Island," his focus is on a very narrow and select group of people looking for work. And while the decision to try and sharpen the narrative makes sense from the perspective of wrangling such a wide-reaching subject, in execution, the documentary winds up touching on a number of relevant issues, but develops very few of them.

Review: Conspiracies Of The Heart, Ballot Box & Office Swirl In Wildly Uneven 'The Newsroom'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 8, 2012 11:00 PM
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  • 2 Comments
For those who have barely tolerated the (at times) strident idealism of Aaron Sorkin's "The Newsroom," the opening the season's third episode "The 112th Congress" may severely test your patience. The show opens with a clip of the (now former) National Coordinator for Counterterrorism for the FBI Richard A. Clarke, apologizing in 2004 to the American people, for the failures of himself and the government in being able to stop the attacks of 9/11. And in a brutal segue, Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) uses that moment to preface his own apology to his viewers for failing to "successfully inform and educate the American electorate."

Recap: Academy Award-Winner Melissa Leo Steals The Show In An Outstanding Episode Of 'Louie'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • July 6, 2012 10:00 AM
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  • 7 Comments
Plenty of movie stars, from Alec Baldwin to Dustin Hoffman, have been making their way onto regular TV gigs without the thought of harming their sheen of late, but even bigger names can also crop up for guest spots on shows, which allow them to upend their image, gain a little street credit, pay back some favors, or just have a little fun.

Review: 'Granito: How To Nail A Dictator' A Remarkable Tale About The Quest For Justice

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • June 28, 2012 6:00 PM
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  • 1 Comment
We're living in something of a golden era of documentary filmmaking. Whether on the big screen, and more frequently on cable -- where a plethora of specialty channels offer a variety of outlets -- documentaries can more easily reach an audience than ever before. But are they making an impact? It seems that every doc that comes along is pushing some kind of issue or agenda, but that little of that is felt once the credits roll ninety minutes later. But every now and then comes a movie that shakes the ground just a little bit, and not only opens eyes, but inspires action and "Granito: How To Nail A Dictator" is a remarkable chronicle of one film that did just that.

Review: While Hopelessly Drunk On The Ideals Of Bygone Journalism, ‘The Newsroom’ Is Still An Engaging Broadcast

  • By The Playlist
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  • June 24, 2012 10:48 PM
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  • 2 Comments
The longer Aaron Sorkin’s deeply-nostalgic-for-the-golden-age-of-news show “The Newsroom” goes on for, the more improbable the workplace drama (and dramedy), set at a fictional cable-news show, becomes. A complacent and apathetic news anchor known as the MOR Jay Leno of news anchor suddenly explodes with outrage and opinion. An old school news division president orchestrates a brilliant subterfuge in order get back to “real” journalism and an executive news producer genuinely believes that if you build it will they will come -- that the American public is starved for authenticity and will tune in for honest to goodness reporting instead of sensational TV journalism.

Review: 'One Nation Under Dog' A Heartbreaking Look At America's Relationship With Canines

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • June 18, 2012 11:58 AM
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  • 30 Comments
In the realm of relationships between humans and animals, there are few as rewarding or profound as that between man and dog. It's difficult to describe to those who've never had a pet, but a dog will give its loyalty and love wholly and without question. They see us at our best and worst, often remaining by our sides through moves, break-ups, marriages, deaths and more -- ever faithful, ever loving. Once a dog takes root in your life, that presence is one that benefits both and when it ends, that void can be as deep as losing a friend or family member, simply because, they are your friend and family. But unfortunately, America's relationship with canines is a troubled one, with overfilled shelters, puppy mills and abuse still rampant, leading to something of a crisis with millions of dogs put down each year. "One Nation Under Dog: Stories Of Fear, Loss & Betrayal" presents a triptych of stories, looking at these issues from various angles and coming to the conclusion that we need to do more to the animals that give us so much.

Review: Hannah Winds Up Right Back Where She Started In Solid Season Finale For 'Girls'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • June 17, 2012 10:30 PM
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  • 8 Comments
Suddenly, everything has changed. That might be the recurring theme of "Girls" across its first season, one that has seen Hannah (Lena Dunham), Marnie (Allison Williams), Jessa (Jemima Kirke) and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) navigate their early '20s and the curveballs that come with it. As we've said time and again, Lena Dunham's focus on character, combined with a willingness to allow them to be unlikeable, wrong, selfish or simply unsure -- as one tends to be at that pre-adulthood age -- has afforded the show a real resonance that belies its standard sitcom set up. Besides a couple mid-season episodes that wobbled, Dunham's instincts have proven right more often than not, with "Girls" delivering unexpected big laughs and tender moments in the unlikeliest places. And so it's fitting that the season finale reorients the lives of everyone. Well, almost.

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