The Playlist

Review: 'Breaking Bad' Season Premiere Promises All Bad Things Must Come To An End

  • By Cory Everett
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  • August 11, 2013 9:52 PM
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  • 8 Comments
Tonight "Breaking Bad" returned for the first of its final eight episodes which will bring the highly acclaimed series to its conclusion. Though the show has been on hiatus since last September, if you're like me, you've spent the last couple of weeks re-immersing yourself in the show, revisiting the previous five seasons, watching extended Q&A's with the cast and creator Vince Gilligan, reading Internet theories (Walt won't survive the finale? Walt is wearing a wire? etc.) and think pieces (see: Matt Zoller Seitz's excellent essays for Vulture), puzzling through the upcoming episode titles for clues and wondering just how it will all wrap up on September 29th. Despite the torrential downpour of hype surrounding the return of the show, the stellar premiere episode "Blood Money" (directed by star Bryan Cranston) does not disappoint. Rewatching last September's mid-season finale "Gliding Over All" just beforehand proved to be a wise decision as many of the cliffhangers from the finale are resolved in the premiere.

Review: 'Clear History' Starring Larry David, Jon Hamm, Danny McBride, Kate Hudson, Michael Keaton & Eva Mendes

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 9, 2013 11:44 AM
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  • 0 Comments
There are few people who have refined to hilarious perfection the intersection of circumstance, happenstance and neuroses quite like Larry David. As a writer/producer on "Seinfeld" and writer/producer/star of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," he has created two extensive catalogs to a body of work where anxiety, superficial concerns and selfishness are also instantly relatable, and often gaspingly funny. And while the future of 'Curb' remains in limbo—David has remained undecided on another season, though the door at HBO is wide open for him to walk through at any time—he's instead focused his energy on feature-length movie for the network, that on paper seems like a homerun. Reteaming with "Seinfeld" and 'Curb' writer/producers Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer, and lining up a staggering cast, the fact that "Clear History" misses the mark as wide as it does isn't so much a disappointment as a complete mystery.

Recap: 'The Newsroom,' Season 2, Episode 4 'Unintended Consequences'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 5, 2013 10:02 AM
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  • 6 Comments
If last week's "Willie Pete" was a narrative pit stop in an already shortened nine-episode season, "The Newsroom" kicked back into full gear on Sunday with "Unintended Consequences." Lawyer Rebecca Halliday (Marcia Gay Harden) returns to continue her deposition of the staff, with Maggie Jordan's (Alison Pill) life-altering Uganda story finally being told, the Operation Genoa investigation bearing more fruit and the organizers behind Occupy Wall Street once again getting kicked in the nuts. Basically, it's more of the same in a season that continues disappoint after a patchy but much more involving first season. As we hit the halfway mark of season two (with "The Newsroom" notably still not renewed for a third season), here's hoping the second half sees things turning around.

Recap: 'The Newsroom,' Season 2, Episode 3 'Willie Pete'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 29, 2013 9:56 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Occupy Wall Street! Operation Genoa! Uganda! Mitt Romney! Troy Davis! Netflix splitting into two companies! (Yep, a passing reference was made to that quickly aborted blunder). "The Newsroom" has had a lot going on across the first two episodes, so much so that Aaron Sorkin felt compelled to rewrite and reshoot large portions of them, as he got started on work for the third episode. And in many ways, "Willie Pete" does feel like a very conscious pivot point episode, one where the focus shifts primarily to the character relationships and ditches covering a breaking news story, a least for the moment. The result? Probably the weakest episode of the new season thus far, and one that strains to reshuffle the deck only to leave everything exactly where it was when it started.

Recap: 'The Newsroom' Season 2, Episode 2 'The Genoa Tip'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 22, 2013 10:03 AM
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  • 5 Comments
If last week's premiere was the small pebble, rolling down the mountain of the second season of "The Newsroom," you can start seeing the eventual massive snowball forming with the second episode. This new approach from Aaron Sorkin, with one large news story anchoring the narrative, is an interesting touch, but it doesn't get in the way of his usual combination of lefty liberal political posturing, speech-ifying, genuine drama and truly shameful emotional manipulation. And this week's "The Genoa Tip" has it in spades with a finale that nearly tips over into offensive bad taste.

Recap: 'The Newsroom' Season 2 Episode 1, 'The First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All The Lawyers'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 15, 2013 9:58 AM
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  • 6 Comments
After a rocky first season, both compelling and cringe-worthy in equal doses, and sometimes all at the same time, Aaron Sorkin's "The Newsroom" is back for a second season and it has undergone some significant retooling. The writers' room was given a shakeup, and even as production got underway, Sorkin seemingly changed plans midstream. After the first two episodes had been shot, and while Sorkin was writing the third, he realized his story wasn't going to play out way he wanted. So he went to HBO, asked to reshoot major portions of the first two episodes and rewrite the third, which they agreed to, though the cost was dropping the season order from ten to nine episodes. So, what was the result of all this overhauling? Well, mostly more of the same, outside of one key structural difference.

Review: 'Life's Too Short' Gives A Bittersweet Ending To An Overlooked Series

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 5, 2013 11:40 AM
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  • 2 Comments
After Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's groundbreaking "The Office," followed by the equally well received "Extras," it seemed that audiences began to cool on that particular brand of comedy. Rooted in vain, unlikeable, ambitious and curiously sympathetic characters, it's not clear where public opinion went, but "Life's Too Short" certainly deserved a better reception than it got.

Review & Recap: 'Game Of Thrones' Season 3 Episode 10, 'Mhysa' Draws Things To A Close (For Now)

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 10, 2013 10:02 AM
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  • 34 Comments
Well, after last week's horrible trauma, which I'm not sure everyone has gotten over, "Game of Thrones" returns with a final episode of the third season, "Mhysa," that lets us lick our wounds and offers some uplifting moments to temper all that violence and nihilism (don't worry, there's still plenty of violence and nihilism too). And we even get a few small moments of justice and a tiny bit of revenge on the part of one of the Starks. As for tying up loose ends, I didn't have high hopes for this episode's ability to draw all of its many disparate story lines to satisfying close, but, as directed by David Nutter, this episode addresses most of our characters and brings them to a place of certainty, at least, until the next season.

Review & Recap: 'Game Of Thrones' Season 3 Episode 9, 'The Rains Of Castamere' Is A Shocker

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 3, 2013 9:57 AM
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  • 50 Comments
So is everyone as horribly traumatized by episode 9, "The Rains of Castamere" as I am? We can work through this together. Recap therapy. We can do it. Yes, once again "Game of Thrones" lived up to its Penultimate Episode Promise of being bananas batshit crazy insane! We now must always fear episode 9, because you can't trust anyone in these games of thrones, especially director David Nutter, who helmed this truly shocking episode. Trying to look past the events of the plot though, it's an action-packed episode, as swords clash in Westeros, across the narrow sea and in the North. It's also an expertly plotted and paced episode, building to an unexpected and effective climax, with some unbelievably stellar performances to boot.

Review & Recap: 'Game of Thrones' Season 3, Episode 8, 'Second Sons' is Goin' To the Chapel

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • May 20, 2013 4:33 AM
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  • 15 Comments
"Game of Thrones" has two things on its mind this week: love makin' and procreatin', and the result is an episode that's operating at a very different speed than the rest of the season. We barely see any of our regulars both old and new, and got to see a lot more of Danaerys Targaryen (like, literally A LOT) and spend some time celebrating the kickoff of wedding season in Westeros. It's once again directed by the excellent Michelle MacLaren, who helmed last week's episode, and really has an eye for staging and an ability to play with pace and focus, resting on characters for an extended period of time, rather than hopping around, which serves the latter half of this season well (also sexy time. And ass). So let's pour some wine and raise a toast to Episode 8, "Second Sons."

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