The Playlist

Preview: Stephen Merchant's Uneven, Unfunny HBO Comedy 'Hello Ladies'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 28, 2013 4:36 PM
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  • 10 Comments
After working together as writers, producers and stars of TV hits "The Office," "Extras," the underrated "Life's Too Short" and "An Idiot Abroad," the undeniably, comedically potent duo of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant has decided to split up for their latest TV ventures. Earlier this month, Netflix debuted "Derek," the latest from Gervais, while this weekend comes "Hello Ladies," produced, written, directed and starring Merchant, with assists in all departments from Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky (who helped make the U.S. port of "The Office" a success). Yet, despite a track record of success and the necessary ingredients for another hit, "Hello Ladies" is a surprisingly and disappointingly uneven effort, completely absent of the craft and precision of Merchant's previous efforts.

Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 4, Episode 3, 'Acres of Diamonds'

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • September 23, 2013 12:03 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Boardwalk Empire, Season 4
Another day, another chess piece episode of "Boardwalk Empire," a writing epidemic/phenomenon endemic to long form television of late and arguably one that affected last night's penultimate episode of "Breaking Bad" as well. A bridge building type of narrative, the worst example of "chess piece" writing is an episode wherein almost nothing really happens (all moves are lateral and almost never forward) and instead the seeds are sown for action down the road. Sure, something always happens, but the worst offenders are overt about the fact that every dramatic event that took place is simply in service for a bigger narrative beat down line -- episodes turn into a long lead ramp to the main event which renders middle episodes a type of slow-moving stasis.

Recap: Table Is Set For The Finale In 'Breaking Bad' Season 5, Episode 15 'Granite State'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 23, 2013 10:32 AM
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  • 17 Comments
What happens to a king when he no longer has a kingdom to rule? That's the central question in "Granite State," the penultimate episode to "Breaking Bad" that after some truly heart racing episodes from the rest of the season, is intriguingly subdued. It puts in the center a dying Walter White (Bryan Cranston), literally isolated, lonely and seemingly without options, left with a barrel of money and his destiny, which is presumably death from cancer, incarceration or if he somehow survives his disease and lays low, a chance to start over. But without Skyler (Anna Gunn), Walter Jr. (RJ Mitte) and Holly, everything he's done is worthless, and as we know, Walter is not a man known to travel down the easy road or give up without a fight. Though he comes very close it to it this time around.

Recap: Aaron Sorkin Finally Gets It Right With The Season 2 Finale Of 'The Newsroom'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 17, 2013 10:04 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Before diving in, a bit of a disclaimer and/or explanation is in order. Thanks to TIFF taking me away from the television for a couple of weeks, followed by some bungling couriers and concluding in massive fatigue upon returning from Toronto, "The Newsroom" slipped off the immediate radar. And a show you might have heard of called "Breaking Bad" took priority over the weekend. But with Walter White's latest adventures concluded for now, I finally got a chance to catch up with the last two episodes of "The Newsroom."

Recap: ‘Boardwalk Empire,’ Season 4, Episode 2, ‘Resignation’

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • September 16, 2013 11:02 AM
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  • 6 Comments
The point has been made, “Boardwalk Empire” can be a deliberately paced show, but on tonight's episode “Resignation,” it appears at least one of the fourth season’s key elements is in place. That would be Dr. Valentin Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright), the brewing antagonist, whose striking demeanor and decisive words cut to the core of every character. Narcisse, at the very least, would make a worthy adversary for any character on this show.

Recap: Harrowing 'Breaking Bad' Season 5, Episode 14 'Ozymandias'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 16, 2013 10:06 AM
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  • 18 Comments
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" goes the poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, and not only does it serve as the title of this week's episode, it also was the foundation of one of the more tantalizing teasers that was released before the start of the final season of "Breaking Bad." The entire brief poem evokes the imagery of a man surveying his crumbled empire, and by end of "Ozymandias," everything that Walter White has built up and battled for is obliterated, until even he says farewell to his own name and life.

Review: Documentary On Sports Broadcaster Marty ‘Glickman,’ Executive Produced By Martin Scorsese

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 26, 2013 4:01 PM
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  • 2 Comments
When the credits roll on James L. Freedman’s “Glickman” it may be somewhat of a surprise to see Martin Scorsese’s name as an executive producer. Why would the legendary filmmaker have anything to do with a documentary about a sports broadcaster? Well, it’s for the simple reason that the groundbreaking, tremendously popular Marty Glickman is as New York as anything in Scorsese’s films (or the man himself). Both Glickman and Scorsese have the same excitable patter, and it’s not hard to imagine that the filmmaker soaked it up when hearing that voice delivering commentary on Paramount’s newsreels when he went to the movies. Glickman’s story is also one that reflects the difficult journey that immigrants and people of color faced in America in the early 20th century, something that surely must have resonated with Scorsese, but it’s also a tale of triumph and success.

Recap: 'The Newsroom' Season 2, Episode 7 'Red Team III'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 26, 2013 10:56 AM
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  • 5 Comments
We've been pretty hard on "The Newsroom" this season, to the dismay of some readers, but it's simply because the show hasn't lived up to expectations. If the first season was rocky, there was lots of promise, much of which has evaporated over the course of the last six episodes, with Aaron Sorkin's work, at it's worst, delivering screechingly pointed screenplays, one dimensional characters and some truly egregious plotting. It has been reported that after the first two episodes of the second season were written and shot, Sorkin went back and redid them, and unfortunately, you can tell. So much of this season has been spent putting pieces into position, in a manner that in hindsight, seems both haphazard and particularly drawn out. Well, the good news is for all the flaws "The Newsroom" has show this summer, last night it delivered the best episode the show has had since the first season.

Recap: Breaking Bad, Season 5, Episode 11 'Confessions'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 26, 2013 10:04 AM
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  • 14 Comments
"My name is Walter Hartwell White. I live at 308 Negra Arroyo Lane, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87104. This is my confession." These are words no one would have thought they'd ever hear come out of the words of the mouth of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), but it sets up one of the most astonishing plot turns of the final eight episodes yet. Each week we're consistently thwarted by any expectations of where the writers of "Breaking Bad" will take the show, but the key twist of "Confessions" is a true jaw dropper.

Recap: 'The Newsroom,' Season 2, Episode 6 'One Step Too Many'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 19, 2013 11:21 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Yes, I know — I missed an episode last week. A dual combo of screeners not arriving in time and a brief vacation keeping me away from the television led to that one getting missed out on, but really, not much happened in season two's fifth episode "Will McAvoy's News Night." Oddly enough, for such a condensed season already (only nine episodes), it was something of placeholder. You've probably already caught up but in case you missed that one: Will's Dad died; Maggie has developed a drinking problem since Uganda, and it might be affecting her work; Sloan had some intimate photos uploaded to the web by a shitty ex-boyfriend, who she later kicked in the balls; Jim outsmarts a prank caller; and Charlie got his hands on a helo manifest which seems to indicate chemicals weapons of some kind were indeed brought along during Operation Genoa.

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