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The Playlist

Recap: Things Get Stitched Together In 'American Horror Story: Coven' Episode 2, 'Boy Parts'

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • October 17, 2013 12:08 PM
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  • 1 Comment
American Horror Story: Coven
If there's a downside to the spin-the-wheel, anything goes anthologized approach Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have taken with "American Horror Story," it's that the first episode of each new season has to cover serious ground. That initial episode has to act as a pilot of sorts to the whole new show that will unfold over the course of the season, burdened by lots of exposition and the introduction of a whole host of characters both human and supernatural. Last week's premiere of "American Horror Story: Coven," the show's new iteration, gave us witches, voodoo priestesses, murderous New Orleans socialites, rape, and a young girl who kills people with her vagina. Now that all of that is out of the way, on episode two, things are allowed to get really weird.

Review: 'Toy Story Of Terror!' Is A Hauntingly Great Halloween Special

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • October 14, 2013 11:04 AM
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  • 1 Comment
When development began on what would eventually become "Toy Story," back in the early '90s, the project was not envisioned as the first-ever fully computer-generated animated feature. No, back then Disney and Pixar's goal was more modest: it would be a television special, timed to Christmas and based in part on John Lasseter's Academy Award-winning short film "Tin Toy." The team at Pixar still wanted to do a feature, but a 30-minute television special would be the perfect in-between; these were filmmakers who had very limited experience actually hammering out the fundamentals of long-form storytelling. In Disney's estimation (particularly animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg), Pixar had to walk before they could crawl. Of course, that didn't happen.

Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 4, Episode 6 'North Star'

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • October 14, 2013 10:01 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Thematically, we’re following a “North Star” considering guiding lights reunite several estranged members of the “Boardwalk Empire” cast, even if it's a bit of a mid-season episode lull. Perhaps the writers had to give audiences a reprieve after the sad suicide of Eddie Kessler last episode. “North Star” takes Nucky (Steve Buscemi) back to Florida to finish his land deals with Bill McCoy (Pearce Bunting) from earlier in the season and meeting him in the Sunshine State are his new partners Meyer Lansky (Anatol Yusef) and Charles “Lucky” Luciano (Vincent Piazza). And so new alliances are formed, Nucky, McCoy and the new Italian man in Tampa, Vincenzo Petrucelli (Vincenzo Amato). But old alliances also crumble. Luciano gets spooked by Petrucelli as he has ties to his boss Joe Masseria (Ivo Nandi). If Joe were to find out that Luciano was making side deals on his own there would be hell to pay.

Recap: Things Get Witchy In First Episode Of 'American Horror Story: Coven'

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • October 10, 2013 11:01 AM
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  • 8 Comments
One of the things that has made the entire "American Horror Story" enterprise so exciting has been the promise of seemingly endless variety. Not only is each season in the spook-filled series a different beast altogether (supposedly one of the ways that co-creator Ryan Murphy got the series greenlit was his pitch to FX that promised at the conclusion of the first season's haunted house arc, "the house wins"), but each moment can play like its own self-contained genre exercise.

Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 4, Episode 5 'Erlkonig'

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • October 7, 2013 12:02 PM
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  • 7 Comments
"Boardwalk Empire" either canters or gallops, there's usually no in between trot, but we suppose we should accept it and be happy that things are moving forward at a nice gait (though pacing would be nice). The fifth episode of the fourth season, the German word "Erlkönig"—named after a thematic poem read during the episode—was about as explosive as it gets for a mid-season entry. Two characters died, one recently introduced and brimming with promise, the other a longtime character 'Boardwalk' fans recently grew to have tremendous affection for. But the episode could have easily been titled "Loyalty" considering how heavy the theme (and lack thereof it) hung over the proceedings.

Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 4, Episode 4 ‘All In’

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • September 30, 2013 12:29 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Boardwalk Empire, Season 4
It’s difficult (futile?) to write a “Boardwalk Empire” in the face of the “Breaking Bad” finale, one of the most talked-about, pored-over and beloved shows in recent TV memory. And ironically, “Boardwalk Empire” had its best episode this season so far last night. While a bulk of the show was still chess-piece writing, it felt more charged and alive than usual, especially the unexpected and magnetic face off between Atlantic City's Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) and the Big Apple's Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg).

Recap: 'Breaking Bad' Bids A Wobbly Farewell In Finale Season 5, Episode 16 'Felina'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 30, 2013 9:02 AM
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  • 121 Comments
And so "Breaking Bad" ends roughly where the season five began, with Walt celebrating his 52nd birthday and seemingly having all of his wishes come true. To say that excitement has been feverish coming into "Felina" would be an understatement, and expectations have been sky high for creator Vince Gilligan—who wrote and directed the finale—to the give the show a fitting sendoff. But the result is an effort that feels compromised to some degree, leaning a bit too hard toward fan service and winding up feeling thematically empty by time the credits roll. For all the hardship Walter White (Bryan Cranston) has faced in reaching his destiny, he ultimately gets it pretty easy here, with almost every part of his plan coming off perfectly, with the show nearly forgiving the monstrousness he's shown over the last two seasons.

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.

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