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Featured Recap: “Homeland” Season Finale

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 22 December 2014 3:46 PM, PST

TV Editor’s Note: This blog entry contains detailed analysis and a recap of  Homeland‘s” season finale, titled “Long Time Coming.” If you have an aversion to spoilers, please stop reading now.

Before we dive into the meat of “Homeland‘s” season four finale, written by IMDb User MikeSaros, let me just say that I would be perfectly fine with season five turning its focus from Carrie (Claire Danes) to Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend). Sure, we like Carrie quite a bit, and she’s our constant in this series, but at this point Quinn feels like an interesting character that I’d love to know more about. “Homeland” has already proven its ability to shed central characters in the name of moving forward with renewed focus on the next mission, so maybe it’s time give Ms. Mathison a rest for a while to explore what makes Quinn tick.

Am I alone in this?

Ponder that possibility after you’ve read the full blow-by-blow recap of this episode.


We open “Homeland’s” fourth season finale with Carrie back in the United States preparing for her father’s funeral at her sister’s place. Dar Adal shows up looking for Quinn. Carrie hasn’t seen him and assumes he’s still in Islamabad hunting down Haqqani. Adal tells her that Haqqani has disappeared, with full protection of the Pakistani military.

Saul is also back stateside, having been given a full year’s severance from his private sector gig. He wants back into the CIA but Mira doesn’t think that’s a possibility.

While at the park with Fannie, Carrie runs into a friend of her father’s. She learns that her father believed in her and always knew she’d return to take care of her daughter.

Carrie returns to her sister’s and is shocked to find her mother Ellen in the kitchen. Carrie wants no part of the woman who has been gone from their lives for 15 years and chases her off.

Saul has a meeting about perhaps getting back involved with the CIA. The biggest obstacle seems to be the video of him with Haqqani. The sense is that as soon as it surfaces Saul will be “persona non grata.”

Carrie gives a moving eulogy at Frank’s funeral. She talks about her father helping raising her daughter when she couldn’t be there. Outside the church she spots Quinn. They embrace. On the way to her house he said after Haqqani disappeared his German friend helped him get out of Pakistan. She tells him about having a shot at Haqqani and Khan stepping in. She tells him about the visit from Adal. They agree Quinn should steer clear.

Later Saul takes Carrie aside and says there was no official contact between the US and Pakistan. Saul never mentioned Adal by name and thinks the two of them should keep Adal’s presence in Haqqani’s vehicle to themselves for the moment.

After a night of cocktails and reminiscing, Carrie walks Quinn to his car. They kiss, but she immediately says she thinks a relationship would be a mistake, that she would mess it up somehow. Quinn has seen her at her very worst and wants to give it a shot. He says he needs her to help keep him away from the CIA and begin a normal life. She agrees only to consider the possibility of a relationship.

That night Carrie goes though some old pictures of her father. She has a revelation and the following morning tells her sister she’s going to drive to St. Louis and track down Ellen. She wants her mother to tell her face-to-face why she left.

A member of Quinn’s CIA group pays him a visit in person and tells him about a mission to get some IS agents. It leaves the following night. Quinn passes, but he gives him a pretty strong guilt trip about how the mission has a significantly reduced chance of success without him.

After driving all night Carrie arrives at Ellen’s door. She’s greeted by a teenage boy who tells her Ellen’s at her work. Carrie says only that she’s “a friend.” At her school Ellen tells Carrie the boy she met was her half brother. They agree to talk later that day when Ellen gets off work.

Saul and Adal meet. Adal says with Lockhart about to step down he think he can get Saul’s name to the top of the list as the next director. Saul doesn’t think it’s possible given the video. Adal hands him a copy of the video, saying Haqqani has given him the assurance it will never see the light of day. Adal says he “reached out” Haqqani. The deal was that if Haqqani didn’t harbor terrorists Adal would take his name off the kill list. Haqqani’s surrender of Saul’s video was a gesture of good faith. Adal asks him to “come back, lead us.”

Quinn calls Carrie, having heard she drove to Missouri. Carrie doesn’t give him an answer about a relationship, but when he offers to fly out and see her she says she has too much on her plate at the moment.

Ellen tells Carrie she left the family after becoming pregnant with Carrie’s half-brother, Tim. Frank didn’t know about the pregnancy, but Ellen admits she’d had several affairs and they ultimately ruined the marriage. She blames herself for what happened. Carrie tells Ellen about being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and not having a mother when she most needed one. She was under the impression Ellen left because people with the illness Carrie and Frank share are incapable of maintaining long-term relationships. Ellen assures her that’s not the case.

After the conversation with her mother Carrie is desperate to speak with Quinn. When she finds his phone has been disconnected, she calls Adal.

We see Quinn show up at the airstrip. He’s headed out with his team.

The following day Carrie drives to Adal’s home. She demands to speak with Quinn, but he tells her Quinn’s team has gone dark. The mission sounds dangerous and it’s unclear when Quinn will return. Carrie threatens to expose Adal’s meeting with Haqqani to the media if she isn’t granted access to Quinn. She thinks a deal with Haqqani dishonored those killed at the embassy and if Saul knew about it “he’d spit in your face.” Adal responds that she should asks him herself and takes him out back where Saul himself is sitting. Carrie looks absolutely stunned and leaves the house without another word. The season ends with Carrie driving away.

Exclusive Photo: “Better Call Saul”

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 18 December 2014 8:50 AM, PST

Before Walter White was merely a shade in Saul Goodman’s nightmares, Saul was a schlubby ambulance chaser named Jimmy M. McGill. In this exclusive photo from AMC’s upcoming series “Better Call Saul,” starring Bob Odenkirk, it’s clear that even though Jimmy wears a cheap suit and has an office in a strip mall, the man who will become Saul Goodman still cares about the details — right down to the monogram on his cheap leather briefcase.

“Better Call Saul” premieres at 10pm Sunday, February 8 on AMC. Are you excited to watch the “Breaking Bad” prequel?

Review: Syfy’s Miniseries “Ascension”

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 12 December 2014 5:46 PM, PST

In an industry where an 80 percent failure rate is pretty much the norm, every TV project is an experiment.

But a miniseries like Syfy’s “Ascension” is a grand experiment on several levels, from subject to the viewer’s interpretation. Especially this viewer’s interpretation — the first hour made me ask myself, many times, exactly what it was that I was watching. Was it supposed to look like the love child of “Mad Men” and “The Love Boat“? Did half the cast attend a workshop at the William Shatner School for Drama? Is this thing for real?

Yet I didn’t give up on the hour that Syfy made available to me, either. I saw it through to the finish and was glad for the payoff. The end of that first episode changed a number of my  initial impressions.

“Ascension” is a space adventure with a retro twist. As the story goes, President John F. Kennedy commissioned a classified military study called Project Orion, which examined the possibility of creating a gigantic vessel capable of launching into deep space and propelled by the force of detonated atomic bombs. It sounds interesting, if more than a little nutty, and apparently was never declassified.

In “Ascension’s” alternate reality the launch actually did take place, in secret, sending 350 souls on a deep space odyssey that began in 1963. The miniseries drops us into the journey more than half a century after launch, at the point of no return. The ship is populated by the children of the initial voyagers, and William Denninger (Brian Van Holt) is its Captain, with his wife Viondra Denninger (Tricia Helfer) serving as the equivalent of the ship’s first lady. Not an inaccurate description, considering the political nature of the ship’s social structure: Everyone is born into their roles. Pregnancies must be approved, marriages arranged.  This also means discontent boils beneath the surface; being a faithful spouse, for example, is less important than maintaining order and political supremacy. And the guys who do the dirty work understandably are not thrilled with their lot in life.

Ascension’s closed society works for 51 years until it has to deal with its first murder, spurring an investigation by First Officer Aaron Gault (Brandon P Bell), who has no idea of how to take on a homicide case. This is where “Ascension” gets interesting from both a performance and a storytelling perspective.  You see, the ’60s-era launch means the architecture, interiors and fashion on the ship are stylistically frozen in the mid-20th century. So, too, are Ascension’s inhabitants, to a certain degree; its society is multicultural, which is a science fiction ideal and a welcome aspect of this presentation, but perhaps not in keeping with the actual sentiment of the time period. This does not strain credulity any more than the idea that a gigantic ship propelled by nuclear explosion could launch secretly anywhere on Earth does.

But it bears pointing out because it’s obvious that other values and mannerisms on display in Ascension’s society evolved within a space that never witnessed the signing of the Civil Rights Act  or the Feminist movement, never experienced the end of the war in Vietnam or saw the Berlin Wall come down — and did not live through the cultural shifts that happened because of these historic developments.

And here’s the interesting idea within “Ascension,” one that might develop further over nights two and three, or might not.  What happens when a segment of the human population is encapsulated at a specific point in time and completely removed from a larger world? Is that a benefit, or to its detriment? At the very least, the visuals fascinate. As I stated above, some of the performances in the miniseries suffer from a pulpy flatness, which makes more sense when Gault turns to an old timey noir detective film to get tips on how to investigate a homicide. If they’re getting life instructions from old movies, it’s no wonder that the acting of everyone we see on Earth — yes, there’s an Earth-based contingent — comes across as more believable and lifelike than that of the wooden deep space folk.

Maybe this is one science-fiction fan trying to find excuses for flaws in a show that she really wants to love, and those flaws hold no deeper meaning. It could very well be that “Ascension” represents another of Syfy’s swings for the fences that ends up being a whiff. Or this three-night miniseries could ultimately be considered successful enough to launch into a fully-realized weekly drama. Like I said, it’s a tricky experiment.

Whether I’m on to something or just fooling myself,  it’ll be interesting to find out where this mission goes, and whether it sticks the landing.

Ascensionpremieres 9pm Monday, December 15, continuing at 9pm Tuesday, December 16 and 9pm Wednesday, December 17 on Syfy.

Featured Recap: “Sons of Anarchy” Series Finale

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 10 December 2014 1:02 PM, PST


TV Editor’s Note: This blog entry contains detailed analysis and a recap of the “Sons of Anarchy” series finale, titled “Papa’s Goods.” If you have an aversion to spoilers, please stop reading now.

The series finale of FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” is titled, prophetically enough, “Papa’s Goods.” The war within Jax Teller grew out of more than the pull of his moral and emotional obligations to his blood family and his patch. It also raged under the weight of striving to fulfill his father’s legacy. In the final episodes, all of this fell away as Jax realized the terror wrought from his misdirected, vengeful rage and how it endangered his SAMCRO family, and his sons. The ultimate truth Jax spoke of himself was that he was not a good man, and that he thought it best if his sons Abel and Thomas grew up hating the thought of him.

Papa’s Goods” was full of portent and Biblical imagery — bread and wine, Jax becoming shadow of death as he waited on the white steps of a courthouse to execute one of his enemies. Yes, Jax swept up his messes and secured what he believed to be a temporary peace for his club, and for Charming, by turning his gun on the men as bad or worse than he was. He left the club in the hands of an honest man and made one of his last acts patching in T.O. as the club’s first African American member.

But this series finale was not flawless. It was capped off by a long, indulgent final montage of Jax’s planned suicide by cop that, in the end, turned into suicide by truck completed as he spread his wings in a Christ-like pose. Jax’s death felt like an apt one; the computer graphics-enhanced garnish on the parade of state troopers following in the wake of his serene last ride — crows, and more crows in flight! — was a bit much.

In case all of the previous symbols and portents went over our heads, “Papa’s Goods” nodded at the show’s place FX’s history: series creator Kurt Sutter, who directed the final episode, cast “The Shield’s”  Michael Chiklis  as the truck’s driver — “The Shield” being FX’s first critically-acclaimed drama, a show Sutter was involved with. One can also credit Chiklis’s morally-conflicted cop Vic Mackey as the progenitor for SAMCRO’s dark hero Jax Teller. As such… Father, into thy speeding truck’s grille I commend my spirit. Amen.

But like all good car chases, we never turned away from it. Not once. And in case all of the Christ-like visual parallels seem odd or inappropriate considering Jax’s last road trip came after a murder spree, remember that “Sons of Anarchy” is Hamlet at its soul, and the Dane’s final act was to save Denmark. Jax may have done so if only for a day or a season; this world is too violent for Charming to see a lasting peace. With “Papa’s Goods,”  Sutter has wrapped up the series ably enough to satisfy fans, if not perfectly, and well enough to make us interested to go back and start the journey over at episode one. That’ll just have to do until Sutter’s next project, “The Bastard Executioner,” is ready to ride.

Keep reading for the full blow-by-blow recap of this episode, which was submitted by IMDb user DetectiveBriscoe.

“The final episode of “Sons of Anarchy” doesn’t offer many surprises, but it isn’t trying to. Instead, loose ends are violently tied up as the themes of family and fate that have run throughout the past seven seasons come to a head. Jax Teller found his revenge for his wife’s murder, now he’s just looking for peace. But what peace can there be for a man says of himself: “I’m not a good man. I’m a criminal and a killer”?
The final episode suggests that peace can be found by proxy as Jax strives to ensure that his own sons won’t live the life of chaos that he has. And just how does a murderous outlaw ride off into the sunset? On his own terms, of course.”

Jax wakes up in bed with Wendy and puts on his “SO” “NS” rings. He pulls out his box of journals, throws away his bloody shoes and says goodbye to his sons. He goes to the storage locker Gemma told him about and finds his dad’s manuscript, old family photos and stacks of memorabilia about the club. He burns it all.

He heads to TM and finds more documents there, including a quitclaim deed.

Jax heads to the cemetery and says good-bye to Opie. He leaves his rings on his gravestone. Then he visits Tara’s grave and leaves his wedding ring.

At Red Woody, Jax greets T.O. and promises to let him know how it goes. Jax says “I love you” to Lila, but it sounds more like good bye.

At church, Chibs reports that Tyler has left messages for Connor, but hasn’t heard back.

Then they turn to T.O. and Jax relays that Packer said everyone was in favor of opening the Sons up to black members on a charter by charter basis. Chibs nominates Taderious Orwell Cross and it passes unanimously. They agree to make him a full patch.

They break the good news to T.O. and present him with the cut. Jax announces change is good.

Nero comes by Jax’s, desperate for information about Jax and Gemma but not sure how to ask. Wendy can tell he’s climbing the walls. He hasn’t heard from Gemma.

The Sons check in with Tyler, who finally heard from Connor. He asked Tyler to double the order. Tyler feels the streets are turning his way after the Sons helped with the assault last night, but he’s worried about August Marks getting out this afternoon. Jax assures him it’ll be fine. They make plans for the Sons to join him when Connor shows, but those plans are quickly ruined when Connor shows up early to scope things out.

Connor leads Jax, Chibs, Tig and Happy on a chase down the docks and into a warehouse of doll parts, then back out onto an access road where Connor finally gets away when a dump truck pulls in front of the bikes.

Later, Tig calls Declan.

Nero goes to TM and pounds on Unser’s trailer. Chuckie tells him Unser’s not back yet and some sheriff’s deputies were looking for Gemma. Nero goes into Unser’s trailer and finds his evidence board on Tara’s murder. Nero’s heart sinks.

Jax summons Chibs to the roof of Red Woody. “I need to tell you some things you’re not going to want to hear. I need you to listen. Trust that what I want is the best thing for me and my family, for our club,” Jax says.

He tells Chibs he came clean to Packer about Jury and they recommended a mayhem vote.

Declan brings Hugh by Red Woody. Tig tells Lila to pack up for the day.

On the roof, Chibs tries to process whatever Jax has told him. “This is how you learn to be a leader, brother, doing s— that hurts the most,” Jax says. Chibs is near tears. Jax asks for his word that he’ll do as he asked and Chibs gives it.

Tig brings the Irish up on the roof: Hugh, Declan and a soldier. Jax asks Hugh to call Connor and say he got away. Hugh finds this totally implausible. But Jax explains by waiting for Tig and Chibs to shoot Declan and the soldier. Tig takes pictures for Hugh to send to Connor to sell the story.

DA Tyne Patterson (CCH Pounder) visits Althea Jarry at the substation. Patterson asks if Jarry has any idea why Jax set up an appointment with her in the afternoon. She suggests an APB on Gemma and tells Jarry she’s doing a good job navigating streets owned by outlaws.

Hugh waits for Connor to pull up to an old workshop then disarms him when the Sons come in. Hugh suggests Connor listen.

They’re interested in his access to all the AKs he wants. Connor freezes when Declan and his guys walk in, as expected by the Sons. But then the Sons turn on them and kill all the late-arriving Irish. Jax presents their new plan for Connor: Marcus Alvarez will distribute all the guns in Northern California for Connor while his guys back in Ireland work with the Sons there. Oso is with them and explains that Connor will distribute through Stockton ports now. The Mayans will protect him from the IRA blowback.

Connor tries to process the enormous bullet he just dodged. He agrees to the plan.

“Jackson, you just killed an IRA King. There’s no coming back from that, lad,” Connor says.

“My old man tried to sever that tie 20 years ago. Better late than never,” Jax grins.

Back at TM, Nero meets up with Jax. He asks Nero to handle some business for him — Jax is giving Wendy the garage and the houses to sell and he asks Nero to take her and the kids, and leave town.

“What are you doing here, Jax?” Nero says.

“What I should have done while my wife was still alive,” Jax says.

He’s giving his piece of Diosa and Red Woody to the club, to use the profits to buy Scoops and set it up as home base.

Nero asks where Jax is going. “I’m leaving, Nero,” Jax says.

“Why?” Nero says.

“You know why,” Jax says.

Nero knows. “Gemma.”

“I’m sorry. I did what I know how to do. What Gemma knew had to be done. The lies caught up to all of us, man. I tried to hide from it, make it legit, run away from it. This is who I am, I can’t change,” Jax says. He asks Nero to promise to make sure his boys leave this place, “so they don’t become what I’ve become.”

Jax says he’s not sure where he’s going. He tells Nero to tell Wendy everything, and that she should tell his sons when the time comes. “I’m not a good man. I’m a criminal and a killer. I need my sons to grow up hating the thought of me,” he says.

Wendy arrives with the boys. She catches Nero with tears in his eyes. Jax takes Abel’s hand and tells him it’s OK to call Wendy mommy. He tells him Nero is daddy’s best friend and to listen to him. Nero tries to keep it together as he watches Jax say what only he and Jax know is his last good-bye to his children.

Jax says good bye to Wendy, telling her she’s a good mom.

Jax watches them go, then gets on his dad’s old bike.

Jarry drops by Red Woody to talk to Chibs. She tells him about the APB on Gemma and ends things with him. He tells her it’s a mistake, because cops who land on the wrong side of the club “tend to go away.”

Tig and Chibs take a moment to steel themselves before coming clean to the club and Jax’s mayhem vote.

Jax reports to Patterson’s office. He thanks her for trying to help Tara then suggests she record what he’s going to say.

He tells her everything: That the Chinese didn’t kill Tara, Gemma did and Juice killed Roosevelt to protect her. They both admitted it.

When Patterson asks where Gemma is, he says she’s with Unser and gives her his grandfather’s address.

She asks about Henry Lin, he makes her turn off the recording. He tells her that everyone who will be impacted by finding out the truth of Tara’s murder is “either informed or has moved on. By the end of the day, the violence in Oakland and Stockton will be over.”

He won’t say more. “What happens at the end of the day?” she asks again.
“The bad guys lose,” he says.

Back in church at Red Woody, Chibs tells the Sons they can’t let their hearts be louder than their reason. He chokes back tears as he calls for Jax’s mayhem vote. They solemnly vote unanimously in favor.

Jax walks into Charles Barosky’s bakery in broad daylight and, without a word, shoots him through the head in front of customers, then he leaves.

Up in Oregon, police find Unser and Gemma and start cataloguing the scene.

Jax walks behind the courthouse and sees the homeless woman he sees everywhere. He stops and smiles at her. He finally asks who she is. She hands him her blanket and says only: “It’s time.” (We zoom in on a close-up of the crust of bread she leaves behind.)

August Marks walks out of the courthouse later, right past Jax shrouded in the woman’s blanket on the courthouse steps. Jax stands up and throws off the blanket and shoots the men with Marks. Then he unloads into Marks and races off.

Jax goes to meet his club at the abandoned shop where they took out the Irish. Without saying anything, he cuts the President patch of his jacket and gives it to Chibs. Chibs gives his VP patch to Tig.

Jax hugs Chibs and puts his cut back on. He puts down his gun and says he’s ready. Tig and Happy hold Jax by each shoulder as Chibs picks up Jax’s gun and faces him.

Then Chibs lifts the gun and shoots Happy in the arm, as he apparently expected. “I’ll tell Packer you laid down some fire and got away,” Chibs says.

“I would never put this burden on you….” Jax says. They know.

“I love all of you,” Jax says.

He hugs each man, saving Tig, then Chibs, for last. He goes to bike, then tells them all: “I got this.” He rides off.

At the station, Jarry orders an APB on Jax for multiple homicide.

Jax rides to the place where his dad crashed and talks about being crippled by fear and guilt and realizing, as his father must have, that a man can’t be a good father and good outlaw at the same time. He keeps talking as a Highway Patrol car pulls up behind him, promising his boys won’t know “this life of chaos.”

“I know who you are now, and what you did. I love you, dad,” Jax says.

He gets back on his bike without his helmet as the cop orders him off the bike. Jax fires wildly past the cop, not trying to hit him, then gets on his bike and rides off.

(Final closing montage to Eddie Vedder “Come join the murder/come fly with black, will give you freedom, from the human track”.)

Nero rides peacefully in the car with Wendy, Thomas and Abel. Tig seeks comfort with his love, Venus Van Damme. Jax rides serenely with the cop chasing him as more cars join the chase. Patterson joins Jarry at Barosky’s bakery. Chibs sits alone at the head of the table, the president’s patch in his hands. Deputies load Gemma’s corpse into a body bag. In the car with Nero, Abel wears the “Son” ring from Gemma.

Out on the road, a crow flies off a freeway sign as a Papa’s Goods truck driven by Milo (Michael Chiklis) passes by. A dozen cars and motorcycle cops follow Jax down the road as crows fly overhead.

Jax sees the semi round the corner and smiles. He guns his engine, then releases his throttle. He lifts his hands into the air and aims straight for the truck. He shuts his eyes. The last word of the series is Milo realizing what’s about to happen: “Jesus!”

The camera cuts away. Crows feast on the homeless woman’s crust of bread on the side of the road as blood slowly seeps into frame.

A quote appears:

“Doubt thou the stars are fire; Doubt thou that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar; But never doubt I love.” — Williams Shakespeare

R.I.P.: Top TV Character Deaths of 2014

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 9 December 2014 2:32 PM, PST

Death, be not proud…especially on television. When it comes to TV, death, try to have a point. Be exciting. Move us. Absent that, at least move the story along. Get us talking in a good way.

Death is a well-used plot device that can sweep through any kind of scripted series. Even “The Simpsons” has killed off characters over the years, with the latest one shuffling off his mortal coil in the 26th season premiere. But some deaths are more defensible than others…and we’ve even come to expect them.

I’m writing this a few hours before the series finale of “Sons of Anarchy,” an episode that is bound to lengthen television’s already sizable TV Characters In Memoriam list. At least 42 characters that we know of have journeyed into the mysterious beyond so far.  At least.  (For a more comprehensive list of character deaths, check out this one created by IMDb user dogdawgdogdawgdog.)

Several of them died after the creation and publication of this Year End list of the 10 most significant character deaths of the 2014, as did a few runners-up for good measure.  One of my featured runners-up (SPOILER ALERT: don’t click on that link if you don’t know to whom I’m referring) has inspired a petition urging the writers to bring the character back. Which, considering the way that person bit it, is wishful thinking of the greatest degree. Another that didn’t make onto the list may or may not be mentioned in our recap of “Revenge’s” midseason finale.

Click here to read the full list of Top TV Character Deaths of 2014. Then check out this week’s “Revenge” recap.

After that, go ahead and pour one out for our fictional homies who aren’t with us anymore.

Featured Recap: “Sons of Anarchy”

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 12 November 2014 12:37 PM, PST

TV Editor’s Note: This blog entry contains detailed analysis and a recap of the “Sons of Anarchy” episode titled “Faith and Despondency .” If you have an aversion to spoilers, please stop reading now.

Last night’s “Sons of Anarchy” makes one recall the dramatic rule commonly referred to as Chekhov’s Gun: If you put a rifle onstage in the first act, the thing absolutely must go off at some point before the final curtain drops.

You’ve got to hand it to series creator Kurt Sutter, though. The man presented viewers with the weapon in the first season and methodically prepped it to fire over the ensuing six. Actually, one might say Sutter dumped an arsenal on the stage, topped by one gigantic doomsday weapon in the form of Gemma Teller (Katey Sagal) and her mountain of secrets and lies. Smaller explosions have been going off throughout this series, but now it’s here, that terrible, explosive bang to which “Sons of Anarchy” has been building: In spite of her elaborate, deadly attempts at obfuscating the truth, Gemma’s most evil act came tumbling out of the closet when one of her greatest loves asked an innocent question. Read our recap to find out who let the birds out the cage.

The seventh season has been fraught with soul-rending agony on top of the usual over-the-top violence — and last night’s episode had heaping helpings of the latter — but ample tenderness in the quiet moments, too. Sex and death are tightly entwined on this series, but amidst the opening montage of the guys getting lucky, we saw more of Venus Van Dam (the always wonderful Walton Goggins) and were  granted a soulful look into the relationship between her and Tig (Kim Coates). In an emotionally raw conversation, their bond achieved a new level of openness and trust. That vulnerability that was rewarding to see as SAMCRO’s journey draws closer to an end.

Keep reading for the full blow-by-blow recap of this episode, which was submitted by IMDb user DetectiveBriscoe.

“As the series hurtles towards its conclusion, tonight’s episode features all the series’ hallmarks: murder(s), sex (sex, sex and more sex) and secrets. A utensil again plays a pivotal role in the exposition as Gemma’s chickens finally start to come home to roost and we make a return visit to Moses’ torture chamber, where we learn the perfect implement for removing an eyeball (hint: a utensil), although it’s later revealed there’s more than one way to skin that particular cat.

We begin with an everybody-getting-lucky montage. Jax works through his grief by taking Winsome the hooker to bed. Gemma is distant in bed with Nero. Tig works his magic on Venus the transgender escort. Jarry and Chibs make love — in a bed this time, for a change of pace. Rat relaxes as a woman who is not Brooke rides atop him. Happy works out his issues with a nameless blond on the hood of a car. Wendy and her motorized buddy have some quiet time in bed. In prison, Juice doesn’t resist as Tully exacts his price in the prison currency of man flesh.

Back with Winsome, Jax fights off tears. Winsome offers her condolences for his wife. She gets up and starts putting her clothes on, but he asks her to stay.

The next morning at Diosa, Jax admits to Nero that he’s not sure what SAMCRO looks like without Bobby. His death has really rocked Gemma. Nero hesitates then mentions his plans to get out, selling to Alvarez. “It’s time Jax, we both know that,” Nero says.

Nero does the math when Winsome comes out of a bedroom. Jax describes her as a smart girl, who’s just a little unstable. “That’s the way we like ‘em,” Nero says.

Jax is OK with Nero selling his Diosa share to Alvarez, he’s just not ready to lose his partner. Nero tells him about his hopes that Gemma and his boys will join him sometimes.

They both note Rat seeing the blonde escort out.

August Marks has been in county for three days, but they think “today” still makes sense. It involves Rat meeting with TO and Jax reminding Rat to be careful.

When Winsome returns, she checks in with Jax. She’s enjoying her new indoor job. “I like the girls. I think some of us are going to get a place together — you know, before we all get gunned down by Chinese gangsters,” she deadpans.

Jax laughs. She considers him for a second then thanks him for being so decent to her, just the latest in a series of people to tell the murderer of many that he’s a good person.

At Venus’ place, Tig is a mess, starting his day with a bottle in his hand and mixed messages for Venus.

At Gemma’s house, Abel comes to the breakfast table with a deep scratch on his face, which he says the baby did.

At the cabin, Loutreesha has talked to the DA and hired and lawyer and is ready to go home. But Quinn and Montez don’t think it’s safe yet.

Gemma drops Abel off at school. His teacher Mrs. Harrison (Courtney Love) notices the scratch and tells him if an adult hurt him, that person would get in trouble.

Jax meets with Tully, but they don’t know why Juice is in solitary. Tully says it might take him a day or two to arrange for Juice to get near Lin, but it’ll happen. Juice is meeting with Tully’s new No. 2, a guy named Otis who’s replacing Leland. Jax is unfazed when Tully essentially lets him know what he’s doing to Juice. “He could use a little lovin’,” Jax says.

Moses summons Tyler. He questions Tyler’s loyalties to Marks given his business ties to SAMCRO and tells him he needs to find out where the Sons are keeping the pastor’s family. Tyler considers his tenuous position and suggests TO with the Grim Bastards might know. Moses insists they track him down together.

At school, Abel locks himself in the bathroom and takes the metal fork out of his lunch box, seemingly intent on hurting himself, in a subtle callback to the carving fork Gemma used to finish Tara.

Out in the country, Jax, Tig, Chibs and Happy meet Otis and his crew at house. Otis has about a dozen guys and says more are on the way.

Leland hasn’t shown up yet but a few of his guys are not happy about the shift in management to Otis. One of them addresses Tig and calls him a “tranny humper.” He uses colorful language to elaborate and Chibs tries to keep Tig cool. Otis doesn’t have a problem with it, so Tig goes to the man and asks for an apology. When one is not forthcoming, Tig shoots the man in the balls. Everyone’s guns come out. Otis orders his guys to stand down. Jax sees another of Leland’s old crew eying him and shoots him in the head. Otis makes it clear that it’s over. The ball-less man writhing on the ground says Leland is on his way to kill Eglee.

Jax races off, but not before he orders someone to finish the man. Chibs calls Rat. He’s at a bar with TO and a few of the Bastards. When they step outside, Moses and his guys grab them and Tyler tries to act surprised that TO is with a member of SAMCRO.

Meanwhile, Leland walks into the hospital where Eglee is recuperating and waits for his moment.

The Sons tear down the road, racing there.

At the hospital, Leland sneaks past security and into a room. No one is in the bed, but he hears the shower running. Unser steps out with a gun on him. He gives Leland a chance to drop his gun, but Leland fights him instead. When Leland aims, Unser has no choice but to fire.

Later, Unser tells Jarry that he got a “heads up” from his favorite source, Anonymous. Jarry is annoyed. “I think your Anonymous friends are waiting for you in the lobby,” she tells him.

Unser talks to Jax. He’s not happy about having to shoot Leland. He never killed anyone on the job. There are broader implications to be drawn from that fact as they relate to the current violent climate, but Jax chooses not to see them. Unser checks that no one else is coming for Eglee. Jax says he owes him and Leland was the end of it.

Wendy calls Chibs, who tells Jax that Child Services was called to Abel’s school.

Back in the room where Bobby spent his last few days, Rat and TO are tied to chairs. Bobby’s blood still stains the floor. When they don’t immediately talk, Moses’s guys wail on them as Tyler watches helplessly.

In prison, a guard brings Juice a package from Tully: a prison sex kit (including Emily Bronte’s love poem, to set the mood). Juice realizes he has a big problem.

Jax arrives at Abel’s school to very little information. Gemma is also there. Mrs. Harrison joins them with Abel. He has deep bloody gouges on his arm. At his teacher’s prompting, Abel says grandma did it.

Moses returns to TO and Rat with a grapefruit spoon, explaining it’s the perfect tool for taking out an eye. TO isn’t inclined to lose his eye and tells Moses about the cabin.

Back at Gemma’s, Wendy insists that she dressed Abel this morning and there were no gouges. Jax looks to his mom and Nero for answers. He doesn’t seem to believe that Gemma hurt Abel. Nero suggests it’s about Tara and wonders if Abel thinks Gemma is trying to replace her. Jax agrees they need to get Abel some help, realizing the implications if he hurt himself. In the meantime, Gemma can’t be alone with him and Jax is taking both boys to his house.

As Moses and his guys reach the cabin, Tyler joins one of Moses’ guys bringing TO and Rat water. When the goon puts down his gun, Tyler picks it up and shoots him, then frees Rat and TO.

Meanwhile, TO’s directions take Moses and his guys straight to Otis’ country house, or cabin if you will. They’re suspicious when they don’t see any bikes outside, but a dozen guys with semi-automatic weapons get out to check. The house looks quiet. They check it and find it empty. Then they hear a phone ringing inside the camper out back. The dozen dudes converge on it with their guns drawn.

When they open the door, the camper blows and Aryan brothers pour out of the nearby woods. Jax, Tig, Happy and Chibs bust out of the storm cellar and join the massacre. Jax is careful to only shoot Moses in the knee. When everyone else is down, Jax grabs Moses and digs out his eye with his bare hands – no grapefruit spoon needed. Chibs performs the next act of torture in retribution for Bobby, sawing off Moses’ fingers.

With his eyeball hanging from a bloody cord halfway down his face, Moses manages to get up on his knees before Jax shoots him through the head, ending it.

Later that night, Jax thanks Otis for his help. Otis is happy to help dispose of the black bodies for the cause and appreciates that someone took out Leland.

Tyler drives up with Rat and TO. Rat wasn’t part of the plan, but was happy to go along. Jax is proud of him. Happy shows Rat one of Moses’s fingers. He’s keeping it as a trophy. They all celebrate their win.

Up at the actual cabin, Montez and Quinn break the news to Loutreesha and Grant that August’s hit squad has been dealt with. They get to go home, at least until August is released on bail.

In the hospital, Unser sits with Eglee.

In the prison, Juice snorts the drugs provided by Tully to prepare for their alone time. Tully reads him Bronte.

After the slaughter, Chibs returns to Jarry, who is full of angst and regrets after the foiled attack on Eglee. She looks to Chibs for convincing that she’s not crazy to be with him. He tells her he likes her, the sex is great and when she’s not all caught up in her head, she’s a lot of fun, but he won’t make up her mind for her. She stops him from leaving and shoves him. He shoves her back. She hits him, he hits her back. They tear each other’s clothes off.

Late at night, Tig comes home to Venus, who is sitting alone in the dark. She thinks that Tig is with her to prove that he’s a man who dances with the freaks. Through tears, she says she’s afraid she’s fallen in love with him.

Tig doesn’t know what to say. Venus explains she’s happy with herself as a man who knows she’s a woman. She wants to put some distance between them.

Tig tells her she’s right about him and gets the full unvarnished version of him and knows all his secrets, like no one has. To love him in spite of all that is something he’s never had. He wants to be as comfortable as Venus is and go places with her and not care what people think. They end up in each other’s arms.
Nero comes home to Gemma’s house to see Brooke patching up Rat. Gemma’s smoking furiously in her room. She asks Nero when he’s heading to his ranch and then offers to go with him. He’s thrilled. She’s near tears. “I don’t know why you’re still here, why you still love me,” she says. “I don’t know who I am anymore.”

At Jax’s place, Abel gets out of bed late and crawls into his dad’s lap across from Wendy. Jax takes the moment to try to talk to Abel seriously and gently tells him Wendy is his birth mother and they used to be married. He explains Wendy is there now to help take care of him now that he needs a mommy. “No matter what happens, you’re always going to have a daddy and a mommy that are going to do their best for you,” he says. Abel kisses them both good night.

Wendy is overwhelmed and hugs Jax and thanks him.

Jax goes to tuck Abel in. Abel has a question. “Is Wendy my first mommy because I came out of her tummy? Is that why Grandma killed my other mommy, so my first mommy could be here with me?” — DetectiveBriscoe



Featured Recap: “Gotham”

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 11 November 2014 3:53 PM, PST

TV Editor’s Note: This blog entry contains detailed analysis and a recap of the “Gotham” episode titled “The Mask.” If you have an aversion to spoilers, please stop reading now.

You remember the first rule of Fight Club, right? You don’t talk about Fight Club.

The second rule of Fight Club, “Gotham“-style, is… you’ll have to read the recap to find that out. First, though, a few observations about the show as it stands now.

“Gotham” is primarily about James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and his struggle to keep his moral compass from being overtaken by the magnetic pull of his city’s corruption. This requires Herculean effort, particularly considering that Gordon is partnered with Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), a “go along to get along” dirty cop.  Gordon and Bullock’s cases of the week move the plot along well enough, although some give us more filler than beef.  But “Gotham’s” main strength at this point in the first season is in its character development: Jada Pinkett Smith‘s Fish Mooney grows more appealing with each episode, but a more significant tip of the hat should go to Robin Lord Taylor, who has done what I previously believed to be impossible in making The Penguin into a believably frightening villain.

The drama’s key subplot, the molecular-level origin tale of the boy who will be Batman, is doing a decent job of slowly setting the groundwork for young Bruce, played by David Mazouz, to begin his heroic evolution. In “The Mask” we saw Bruce realize that his demon is anger, as James Gordon gave his version of the demon a workout — literally — to help put a case to bed.  Ultimately we know that Bruce channels his rage into a force for justice, just as we know Gotham will eventually crumble to the point that the city will need Bruce Wayne more than its hamstrung police force.

Before that call comes, Master Bruce must learn how to fight.

To get all of the details about this episode as submitted by IMDb user brayvalentine, keep reading.

“For reasons that will become clear later, a man is roaming an abandoned and trashed office space. He encounters another man and the pair fight, ultimately to the death, using various office supplies as weapons. The victor raises his hands towards a camera in the ceiling where someone is watching on a screen.

The next morning the dead man is found far from the scene. They notice ink and paint on the man’s clothes, which peg the guy as probably working in finance. They decide to canvas the area and Nygma asks if he should run prints. He asks if he wants to run them all, including the thumb he finds in the dead man’s mouth.

The Penguin encounters a wealthy woman on the street and steals her brooch, saying a friend he has would love it.

The Penguin presents the brooch to Fish when they have a sitdown. He hopes they can be friends. Maroni wants to clarify terms and he sent Penguin which burns Fish up. She says he has his businesses- drugs, the unions– will continue to pay tariffs on the ports, Arkham is still split 50/50 and if he needs favors from the mayor or the cops he has to ask Falcone. Penguin says there is to be no blood spilled, not a drop. Fish says, maybe a drop. She tells her right hand man Timothy that Penguin used to have his job. Penguin says things change. She opens his gift, extracts the letter opener from the brooch and promptly stabs Penguin in the hand with it. She tells him he betrayed her and when she orders people dead, she wants them to stay dead. She tells him to watch his back, since things do in fact change, and that he should pray for Falcone’s good health. Penguin says he does.

At the precinct Jim speaks to the victim’s mother, who said he worked in a coffee shop but was trying to break into finance.

While Gordon talks to her, Harvey and the captain talk about how angry Gordon is since all the cops ran out on him, and how they treat him like crap now because seeing him makes them know what cowards they are. The Captain says Gordon is lucky to have Harvey.

Penguin re-gifts the brooch to his bat-guano crazy mother, who notices his hurt hand. He says his enemies are jealous. She tells a story of a mean girl in school who she ratted out to the secret police. She notes that everyone has secrets. This gives the Penguin an idea.

Gordon and Bullock go to see a black market doctor who specializes in helping criminals. He admits a guy who had his thumb chomped off did come to see him that morning, and he dropped a business card of a financial firm that fell out of the guy’s pocket. Gordon brings in the doctor over Harvey’s objections.

When they bring him in, other cops voice their objections since this doctor is a good confidential informant for them. Harvey tries to persuade Jim to let him go, noting he was there for him with Falcone and he has to go along to get along, and that Harvey is on his side. Jim still says no, and the doctor stays locked up. Jim reiterates his dedication to cleaning up the city and the department at all costs.

Jim comes home to a drunk Barbara wielding his gun. She is clearly on edge since the run in with Victor Zaz and Falcone. He admonishes her for handling a gun while drunk and tries to reassure her that things will be okay.

A man in a mask at the abandoned office space approaches three men in cages. One asks when they will get out. The man says that is up to them.

The next morning Barbara apologizes to Jim about last night as he is taking his extra gun. She says it was just nerves and to leave the gun. He puts it back in the box and locks it up, and gives her the key. He says he wishes it wasn’t like this. “Do you really?” she asks, and then immediately takes it back and tells him to go and catch some bad guys.

Nygma is conducting his own unauthorized autopsy on the dead guy. He seems to have hit on something when the coroner enters and angrily shoos him out. It’s clearly not the first time he’s done this.

Liza meets Fish at confession and says she hasn’t learned anything interesting from Falcone. She cooks, cleans, and sings for him and they go on walks. Fish instructs her to drug Falcone and get a copy of the last two pages of a ledger in his office drawer. She wonders if the drug will kill him. Fish says no, but is worried Liza has caught feelings for Falcone. She says she hasn’t. Fish says she doesn’t want to kill him yet, just siphon his power. Liza wonders what happens if one of Falcone’s men catches her. Fish notes she will probably be dead then.

Gordon and Harvey go to the office on the card and see that many of the workers are bruised and injured. They meet the boss, Richard Sionis, whose office is littered with swords, masks, and other artifacts of war. Jim can tell he’s responsible for what’s going on. Richard tells him to prove it. They ask about the memorabilia. Sionis says business is war. Gordon says no, war is war. Sionis can tell that Gordon was in a war and really killed people, and says he must miss the battlefield. They don’t have anything on him so they have to leave. As they do, Jim notices a trail of blood going into the bathroom and bumps into the one-thumbed guy. They tussle, the man is only knocked out when Bullock opens the door into the guy’s head.

The Penguin kidnaps Fish’s right hand man Timothy and squeezes him for Fish’s secrets. He finally spills that he overheard that Fish has someone close to Falcone. He doesn’t know who. Penguin has one of his guys kill him, telling him the body can’t be found.

The guy flips on Sionis and says when people apply for a job at the firm the top three are brought to the abandoned office and told to fight and the last man standing gets the job. (He is clearly breaking the first rule of fight club.) Nygma says four more people were killed with office supplies in the last few years. Then the man’s lawyer shows up before they can get him to sign a statement so they need to figure out where the fights are being staged.

The Captain is freaked out and wonders what has happened to Gotham. He says the turning point into chaos was the Wayne murder, since they represented something decent and hopeful. The Captain apologizes for not staying with Jim when Zaz showed up.

Harvey gets a list of properties owned by Sionis and they split the list to start looking. Harvey says Sionis has Jim’s number, that there is a demon in him, that he likes to fight. Barbara calls to check in and Jim basically hangs up on her.

Liza makes the tea for Falcone and puts in the drug. She goes to Fish’s and hands over the copied ledger pages while an older black woman sings onstage. Liza says she wants out. Fish says that’s not possible. Liza wonders what Fish’s beef is since she is rich and powerful. She wonders why she is bothering. Fish spins a yarn in which as a poor child she would often hear her prostitute mother entertain men on the other side of a curtain in their small apartment. One night, one of Falcone’s men killed her. Fish stayed silent the whole night, two feet from her dead mother. She vowed to never let herself be powerless again or let any man be over her. Liza is duly moved by this story. Later, the older black woman comes to sit by Fish at the bar and says she overheard her “telling stories.” Clearly, Fish was lying and this woman is her mother. Fish shrugs and says a lie with a heart of truth is a powerful thing.

Jim finds the office and is promptly tasered by Sionis. He wakes up to hear Sionis telling the three others that instead of killing each other, their task is to kill Gordon. Gordon tries to persuade them to stand down since he’s a cop. Sionis throws in a million dollar signing bonus. Gordon knows his goose is cooked. Except, of course, it’s not — because he’s Jim Gordon. He takes on all three men and more or less handily dispatches them, while a crowd of people in another location watch the brawl on camera.

When Harvey hasn’t heard back from Jim, he starts to get worried. He asks the other cops to help him look into the addresses that were on Jim’s half of the list since he might be in trouble. He gets no takers. Bullock makes an impassioned speech to the precinct house, saying he knows that Gordon can be an asshat but he is still a cop and not one of them stood up when he needed it the first time and he won’t let that happen again. The captain steps up as do several others.

Not that it matters, because Jim has taken care of the three men by himself — and Sionis to boot when he attacks him. Jim gets the upper hand and is poised above Sionis with his sword but simply drops it. The Captain shows up, gun drawn, and just as Sionis is about to attack from behind, Jim turns and decks him. She is impressed. He thanks her for showing up.

Meanwhile, while all of this has been going on, Alfred has forced Bruce to go back to school where he is promptly pitied by the cute girls and bullied by the awful boys. When one of the boys goes too far and makes a disrespectful comment about Bruce’s mother, Bruce slaps him. The bully, Tommy Elliott, and his friends, retaliate. When Bruce emerges roughed up, Alfred isn’t having it. He gives Bruce his father’s watch and drives Bruce to the bully’s house, where Bruce unleashes a can of whup ass on him, using the watch to serve as brass knuckles. The rich brat Tommy complains to Alfred that Bruce tried to kill him. Alfred agrees, adding that Tommy should take note that Alfred did not try to stop Bruce. Later, Bruce tells Alfred that he is just so angry all the time, and asks Alfred if he can teach him how to fight. Alfred says he sure can.

At the precinct house Jim thanks Harvey for having his back and says he’s wrong, it’s not that he loves fighting but he’s not afraid to. And if they don’t, who will? He says he won’t stop until he has the mayor, Falcone, and all the dirty cops. As Jim is finally leaving for the day, the case closed, he calls Barbara and tells her he’s coming home and he loves her. We see her ignore the call and wheel a suitcase out the door, and a note addressed to Jim on the table.

After getting busted for shoplifting, Selina summons Gordon.”

Featured Recap: “Sleepy Hollow”

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 11 November 2014 1:16 PM, PST

TV Editor’s Note: This blog entry contains detailed analysis and a recap of the second season “Sleepy Hollow” episode titled “Heartless.” If you have an aversion to spoilers, please stop reading now.

Imperfect though it may be, Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow” remains one of my favorite TV series. I loved it when it premiered last year, and I still mostly enjoy it now. Mostly.

Like so many genre tales to which devoted viewers give their hearts, the second season adventures of Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) have had their share of sophomore stumbles. Even so, its central tale of a well-known historical character ripped out his era and resurrected in ours to battle the Apocalypse, partnered with a driven, principled detective, hasn’t gone off the rails to the point that I’ve fired it from my DVR.

“Sleepy’s” slip-ups are for the most part connected to characters and relationships that remain appealing. The duo Internet fans have dubbed Ichabbie still has my heart, and the conversations in which Abbie aids Ichabod in grappling with the mannerisms and innovations of the modern era are still hilarious. (I burst out laughing during last night’s episode when, as Abbie explained what getting lucky meant, Ichabod, at the moment of comprehension, says, “Ah! Macking! He was macking on a lady!”)

John Noble is a welcome addition to the cast as Henry, the formerly long-lost son of Ichabod and his wife Katrina (Katia Winter) and the  Horseman of the Apocalypse known as War.  That said, it would be great if Katrina and Ichabod stopped wrestling with the question of whether Henry has any good left in him; their emotional turmoil over that issue clearly has its place in the resolution of this story arc, but the push-pull of it all is becoming tiresome. So is the manufactured strain between Abbie and Katrina — which, thankfully, reached a place of detente in this week’s episode, “Heartless.”

Other more recent developments don’t quite make sense to me, including Katrina’s final strategic decision at the end of the episode. Honestly…why?

To see what I’m talking about, read the featured recap of the episode, submitted by IMDb user DetectiveBriscoe.

“Reunited with Ichabod, Katrina tries to give him room to trust her again. They’re interrupted by Abbie trying to track down Henry after a week of not hearing from him.

In his lair, Henry takes a human heart out of a clay pot and recites a chant to bring it to life. It starts beating an a gorgeous naked woman appears in front of him. Henry tells her it’s time to get to work.

In a club throbbing with music, a shy nerdy young man tries to get up the nerve to talk to a girl. Henry’s girl assesses him and quickly morphs into a librarian type then approaches him. Cut to them making out in a car and the guy stops to ask her name. Then she reveals herself as a firey red demon and sucks the soul right out of him.

Later, Abbie and Ichabod arrive on the scene. Crane is familiar with private dancing societies and coyly boasts that he and Katrina even did a Viennese Waltz a time or two. They see the body in the car, which looks deflated and desiccated, definitely the work of Henry. Abbie again questions Crane’s faith in Henry.

Back at his estate, Henry mirror-conferences with a very angry Abraham, who wants Katrina back. Henry relays that Moloch has forbidden Abraham from going after her. They have a new plan. The succubus arrives and expels the man’s soul into a glass jar for Henry.

In the archives, Abbie and Crane try to identify the creatures. Katrina sees the crime scene photos and notes that the puncture wounds are over a life force area and certain creatures target certain areas. Suddenly she has a flashback to a screaming baby in a crib. Crane worries over her. She asks for quince tea. When Abbie explains that doesn’t really exist, Katrina mentions that Abraham brought her some.

Abbie tries to make plans with Crane, but he’s distracted escorting Katrina out to get her home.

In a diner, a man tries to talk to his girlfriend’s friend, mentioning that she’s always hanging around him and imply she has a crush on him. Becky gets flustered and runs out. In the parking lot, the creature appears, dressed like Becky’s crush. She approaches and sweet talks her, then steals her soul.

Abbie calls Crane after getting the call. He thinks he’s narrowed down the creatures but Abbie wants to consult and expert.

At the bar, Abbie meets up with Hawley. He tries to talk her into a date but she shows him the crime scene photos. He doesn’t know anything that would desiccate the victim’s corpses like the creature did. After Abbie turns him down again he sees a hot chick at the end of the bar and excuses himself to salvage his evening.

Back at the cabin, Abbie is relaying Hawley’s distraction to Crane when she realizes the first victim was found in the back of a car, where he would be if he thought he was going to get lucky. Katrina joins them and they piece together that they’re dealing with a succubus. Katrina explains that they’re drawn to secret desires and can mimic the things people want.

At the bar, the succubus sits down with Hawley and buys him a drink.

In the cabin, Katrina recites a spell to try to track the succubus. She drips wax on a map and it encircles the harbor. Abbie recognizes the location.

Cut to Hawley returning to his boat with the succubus.

Later, Abbie and Crane race up to the dock and hear Hawley struggling with her. She’s in full demon mode , with red skin and horns (and a black teddy). Crane tries to knock her out with a nearby pole while Hawley grabs a crystal from his pocket and presses it into her skin. It burns her, but she starts sucking his soul anyway.

Abbie joins them and fires. Her bullets don’t hurt the creature, but they do scare her away.

While Abbie goes to call Katrina, Crane tells a wobbly Hawley that that the creature is drawn to those with secret desires. Then Crane sees the way Hawley is looking at Abbie. Hawley tries to play it off. Abbie reports that Katrina’s magic can’t track the succubus where ever she went.

In the car on the way back, Crane talks to Abbie about adjusting to new life with Katrina. He then awkwardly segues into saying he wouldn’t have a problem with Abbie pursuing a social relationship with Hawley. She claims not to have time for such a complication.

Back at the cabin, Crane wakes Karina up from a nightmare. She was seeing a crying baby in a cradle and Henry standing over it. She tells him it’s like a part of her is elsewhere and can’t let go.

Abbie joins them, reporting that succubi usually feed monthly. They wonder why she’s gorging. Katrina has a vision of the succubus over the cradle with Henry and his soul jar. When she describes Frederick’s Manor covered in vines, they tell her she’s seeing the present. Katrina tries to focus her vision and sees the contents of the soul jar being poured onto a writhing green slimy demon baby. She recognizes it as the one that was inside her — Moloch.

Henry summoned the succubus to complete the process that began inside Katrina. Abbie and Katrina start fighting over whether Henry can be saved and Crane has to intervene.

Back at the archives, they hit the books. Abbie finds a description of the succubus by the name Incordata. Crane finds a reference saying the Incordata’s heart is stored separately and she can be killed if her heart is destroyed. In the first century a roman priest defeated the first Incordata and gave the remains of the heart to the Emperor Claudius who immortalized the priest as St. Valentine, hence the custom of giving hearts on Valentine’s Day.

Katrina says the heart would have to be on consecrated ground or cemetery. Abbie pulls up Henry’s search history and finds he recently bought a plot at a cemetery. Crane suggests Abbie go with Katrina to protect her and Katrina notices Abbie rolling her eyes. She points out Crane doesn’t know what the succubus looks like, but Hawley does.

Cut to Hawley and Crane going into the club, where they plan to wait until Katrina and Abbie destroy the heart. Hawley gives Crane a mystical knife. Crane asks Hawley what his intentions are with Abbie. Hawley brushes him off, but then checks to see if Abbie asked about him. Meanwhile, the succubus enters the club and looks for her next target.

At the cemetery, Abbie and Katrina search for the heart. Katrina tries to talk to Abbie, who admits she thinks Katrina has been condescending. Katrina explains that so much of what she thought she knew is slipping away, so she holds onto what she believes in her heart is true. Abbie thinks that there are things that even a mother’s love can’t overcome, as in the case of her own mother.

They notice a hex over a crypt.

Hawley tries to remember what te succubus looks like, but says she’s more of a feeling. Then he spots her. She disappears and Crane and Hawley split up to follow her.

Crane follows her downstairs and into a storage room. Once he’s inside, she locks the door behind him.

In the crypt, Katrina finds the heart jar. When they take the lid off, Abbie sees maggot and Katrina sees rats, due to a perception spell to prey on individual fears. Abbie screws up her courage and sticks her hand into the jar. She pulls out the heart.

In the storage room, the succubus is dressed as Katrina and speaking in her accent. She tells Crane she can sense his desire and also his doubt.

Katrina begins her spell to destroy the heart. Abbie calls Hawley, who tells her he lost Crane.

In the storage room, the succubus approaches Crane and starts to make a move on him. He stabs her. Katrina isn’t finished with her spell and is thrown backward. Abbie notices the heart is still beating. The succubus is unharmed. She’s sucking out Crane’s soul when Hawley comes in and attacks.

Abbie picks up Katrina spell book and starts reading. The heart starts to smolder and finally bursts into flames, charring black.

The succubus attacks Hawley and he’s trying to fight her off when Crane reaches for the knife and drives it into her back. When she turns and charges him, Crane shoots her with Hawley’s revolver.

Abbie helps Katrina out of the crypt after getting knocked to her feet by the protection spell. Abbie tells her that Crane is right, that they are stronger with Katrina’s help.

Katrina knows Henry will try again. Abbie thinks that means she’s agreeing that Henry must be stopped, but Katrina says it means she has to destroy Moloch. She can sense his growing power, but he’s still vulnerable. She thinks she can convince Abraham to take her back, saying that Crane has moved on. She knows Crane will never let her do it, which is why she wants Abbie to tell him.

Back at the cabin, Abbie finds Hawley bandaging himself from the wounds from the succubus. She gives him what’s left of the charred heart for him to sell.

“Thanks. It’s not every day a girl just gives me her heart,” he says.

“I might have to punch you in the throat now,” she says.

Crane joins them and Abbie breaks the news about Katrina to him. He thinks it’s a bold move, but could pay off. He says Abbie was right about letting relationships evolve. He describes Katrina as the love of his life who is also a skilled operative.

Katrina returns Abraham, who goes to Henry to make the case for letting her stay. Standing over the crib in Frederick’s Manor, Henry agrees quickly and checks that she’s wearing her necklace. Henry lets her in to see Moloch in the crib. With the necklace on, Katrina doesn’t see the slimy green demon lord baby, but a cuddly cute baby boy.” –  DetectiveBriscoe

IMDbTV Pick: HBO’s Olive Kitteridge

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 30 October 2014 12:00 AM, PDT

While a person probably would not want to spend much time with a real-life version of Olive Kitteridge, a woman who sums up the state of her supposedly golden years by declaring that she’s just waiting for her dog to die so she can shoot herself, visiting her over the course of four hours in HBO’s superb miniseries “Olive Kitteridge” is a moving, unforgettable experience. This is particularly true if you’re in the habit of keeping track of award contenders; it’s nearly a guarantee that the dour and plainspoken Olive will have a heavy presence in upcoming awards shows.

Olive Kitteridge (Frances McDormand) is a stubborn woman, intolerant of impoliteness and bad behavior in children. She observes the goings-on in her New England town with the air of self-imposed exile; at times, she appears to be downright spiteful. But her husband Henry (Richard Jenkins) balances out his wife’s moodiness by overflowing with patience and a generosity that, in turn, magnifies the truth of Olive. She is, in fact, a deeply sensitive and caring soul masking her shriveled aspirations and broken heart with a permanent scowl.

Elizabeth Strout’s stunning Pulitzer Prize winning novel spun thirteen different narratives into one story, an ambitious feat by itself. But she also wove these tales through an initially unlikable character’s life, raising our estimation of Olive in the process. That’s a level of storytelling mastery that tough to replicate on the screen. Fortunately HBO and McDormand, who optioned the novel for the screen, made a terrific choice in director Lisa Cholodenko .

Cholodenko specializes in bringing uniquely complex character studies to life, as if opening tight shutter slats to allow the audience a peek into the minds and hearts of difficult souls. Her rendering of Strout’s creation is spare and unblinking, and as perfect as McDormand’s nuanced, tender portrayal of Olive. An eleventh-hour storyline featuring Bill Murray gives him the chance to flex his singular ability infuse deep pathos with light comedy, but watching McDormand and Jenkins together will break your heart, and mend it, over and over again.

Olive Kitteridge  airs over two nights, 9pm Sunday, November 2 and 9pm Monday, November 3, on HBO.

Exclusive Featurette: “American Horror Story: Freak Show”

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 2 October 2014 6:28 PM, PDT

One of my all-time favorite films is Tod Browning’s Freaks.  I watched it for the first time when I was around 15 or 16 years old, and it has remained part of my annual Halloween movie viewing menu ever since. My love affair for the 1932 classic was born out of equal parts pubescent artsy pretentiousness and a burgeoning fascination with outsiders. But I also loved the soul of its simple story, in which a vain trapeze artist schemes to marry a rich little person only to get at his fortune. In a kingdom full of characters whose appearance made them oddities, the real monster was the beauty queen. What nerdy kid wouldn’t cherish such a validating tale?

That theme seems to be woven into FX’s “American Horror Story: Freak Show,” based on what the cast is revealing about the series in an exclusive behind-the-scenes featurette shared with IMDb. We can also glean that from Jessica Lange’s presence; the actress is starring in “American Horror Story” one last time as the woman running the show. And once again, Lange sports the best wardrobe. (Has she ever played the nice lady in this anthology series? Nope.)  This being “American Horror Story,” the politics of the side show, set in 1950s-era Jupiter, Fla.,  is likely but a sliver of the plot. As castmember Denis O’Hare explains in the video, “The 1950s were such a period of behind-the-stage and in-front-of-the-stage, what people thought was normal behavior, and what was actually happening. And so, to have that be the period really is great with possibilities.”

So many reasons to get excited about “Freak Show”! There’s the wonderful Michael Chiklis has joined the cast as the strong man — and apparently, all he wants to do is love Angela Bassett‘s three-breasted woman — socially unacceptable, and not because she has extra assets.

The return of O’Hare, as well as Frances Conroy, Evan Peters, Kathy Bates, Gabourey Sidibe, Jamie Brewer, and Emma Roberts means the band is pretty much back together, and that’s a very good thing. In terms of continuity and story structure, the “Coven” season was a mess — but this is a cast that works so well together that one couldn’t help but return each week just to enjoy the sparky dialogue. My highest level of expectation leans on the shoulders Sarah Paulson, playing the dual roles of Bette Tattler and Dot Tattler, two distinct women with separate heads but sharing one body. If she can pull off this performance, she had better get an Emmy nomination. Honestly, what does that woman have to do to take home some hardware?

American Horror Story: Freak Show” premieres 10pm Wednesday, October 8. Click here to view the latest featurette.


Taking Aim on “Arrow’s” Third Season

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 29 September 2014 9:38 PM, PDT

All successful genre series are build on a strong foundation of deep character development and credible mythology. When a show does those things well and manages to survive its first two years, then everyone involved in making it can relax — theoretically — into a more adventurous third season.

The wise ones only relax a little, though. While a third season renewal usually indicates a certain level of confidence on the network’s part, it also means that the creative stakes are higher than ever. One imagines a sort of freedom in that; writers can swing for the fences by expanding into ever more complex storylines and stickier moral challenges. Consider that the third season of “Buffy” gave us Faith, the dark side of the Slayer personified. The third season of “Battlestar Galactica” explored humanity’s occupation on New Caprica. Season three of “The Walking Dead” introduced us to the prison, Woodbury and The Governor.

All signs point to The CW’s “Arrow” following a similar trajectory, thanks to the thoughtful stewardship of the Green Arrow’s origin story by executive producers Greg Berlanti,  Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg. They, and the rest of “Arrow’s” writers, have molded Oliver Queen into a believably human figure, albeit one with outstanding aim, near-superhuman fighting abilities and the kind of athleticism extreme sport champions would sell their souls to have. That’s all wonderful, and Heaven knows many a viewer drools during scenes that require star Stephen Amell (and his similarly sculpted co-stars David Ramsey, Manu Bennett and Colton Haynes) to go shirtless. But if “Arrow” relied on the eye candy of this world, allowing its characters to be rendered in the 2-D heightened emotional style of a comic book, we would be talking about what it might have been as opposed to musing upon what it is becoming.

Oliver is a tortured man — no shortage of those in the world of superheroes. He bleeds, he sweats, he is fallible. But he also learns from his mistakes in a way that the average soul watching at home can relate to.  That bears pointing out in a fall television season that will have three comic book-related titles on the schedule before Christmas (“Gotham” has already premiered, with “The Flash” and “Constantine” making their debuts during October) and another, “Marvel’s Agent Carter,” due in midseason. So many great options for superhero fans, and so many opportunities for the TV renderings of these characters to go wrong. Already I’m noticing evidence of directors nudging their actors to color their performances like the fantastical characters inked onto pages, tinging their dialogue with campy lilts that belong in quote bubbles.

Wrong.  Stop.

Take a page from “Arrow’s” playbook instead. Amell’s Oliver plays the arrogant rich boy as his mask, but there was an arrogance to his vigilante mission as well… until that quality lost him almost everything, Starling City included. Amell played out that struggle superbly in season two, which wouldn’t matter a bit if his co-stars Ramsey, Katie Cassidy, Emily Bett Rickards and Paul Blackthorne did match his even-keeled performance with their own. They make a world where villains in masks and thugs hopped up on a mystical drug from an island can terrorize the streets seem absolutely plausible. Why? Because although they’re in fictional Starling City, everyone acts as if they’re in any other real world urban environment… as if Starling City were just a short train ride away from, say, Boston.

Again, this is the foundation and the ground floor. In the story Guggenheim and Berlanti have been constructing, Oliver is still navigating the fallout from his failure to stop Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) in season one, and the near destruction of his city in season two at the hands of his former ally Slade Wilson (Bennett). Without spoiling the story for viewers who still haven’t watched “Arrow”, circumstances have forced Oliver to grow up and accept his family’s mantle as the head of Queen Consolidated, while his alter ego The Hood has established himself as the force of good holding Starling City together.

Oliver also may be looking to ditch his playboy image, if what Amell told reporters in July is true. “Oliver has one woman this year. That woman is Felicity,” he said, giving hope to ‘shippers everywhere who are rooting for the rich boy to finally give his heart to the very able but meek, bespectacled tech nerd on his team. Don’t get your hopes up too much — our understanding is most of what happens involves tying up loose ends from the season two finale. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll end up being together. “We talk about some pretty important stuff in the premiere, and if Oliver were to have a fling, it would undermine some of that,” Amell explained to reporters. “So I think that the cavalcade of women is going to slow down, or stop.”

But it’s not the heroes, or the ‘shipping, that makes “Arrow” and shows like it such fun to watch — it’s the villains. Already we know that Malcolm Merlyn is back and has taken Ollie’s sullen sister Thea (Willa Holland) off to places unknown to exert his influence over her. At Comic-Con, Amell teased that certain characters we’ve encountered in passing during seasons one and two (along the lines of Amanda Waller, known to DC Comics fans as the head of Project Cadmus) will return. We’ll find out more about the circumstances under which they crossed paths with Oliver.

The main lure for season three, however, is its Big Bad: The Arrow will be tangling with one of DC’s most fearsome characters, Ra’s al Ghul, memorably played in Batman Begins by the Liam Neesons.  Neeson is busy with other projects,  not to mention that he’s probably too expensive to fit The CW’s budget, so in “Arrow,” the role will be filled by Matt Nable. Amell hinted that a few unlikely alliances must be formed to defeat him. The writers obviously kept Merlyn alive for a reason, right?

This is the time of year when viewers get their hopes up for a lot of shows, both new and returning, only to have them dashed by November sweeps. Fortunately “Arrow” is one of the few surer shots on the schedule. Oliver Queen never fails his city, or his fans. We can’t wait to see what the show’s producers have built for us this time.

Arrow” premieres at 8pm Wednesday, October 8 on The CW.

First Look: Latest “American Horror Story: Freak Show” Teaser

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 23 September 2014 10:25 AM, PDT


People are looking forward to Halloween right now, but for IMDb’s Editorial department, the year’s creepiest holiday arrives a couple of weeks earlier in the form of “American Horror Story’s” season premiere.

The best part of waiting for the drama’s newest incarnation, “Freak Show,” has been watching all the great teasers. FX just released its newest one today, titled “Head to Head”. Fairly self-explanatory, and more fabulous than freaky. Love the dress, love the hair, love the fact that everything is twice as nice.  Check it out for yourself by clicking on the photo above!

American Horror Story: Freak Show” premieres 10pm Wednesday, October 8 on FX.

HBO Sets Premiere Date for The Comeback, The Newsroom & Getting On

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 9 September 2014 11:17 AM, PDT

Valerie Cherish fans, mark Sunday, November 9 on your calendar. That’s the date that HBO has set for “The Comeback‘s” comeback, as well as the premieres of “The Newsroom‘s” swan song season and the sophomore run of “Getting On.”

The final six episode season of “The Newsroom” will begin airing at 9pm that night, followed by the first of eight new episodes of “The Comeback” at 10pm, with the season premiere of “Getting On” at 10:30pm. “Getting On’s” second season consists of six episodes.

“The Comeback’s” last new episode aired in September 2005. Though the series did not receive overwhelming critical praise at the time, it has since been reconsidered as a cult favorite. With its theme of a fading starlet attempting to resurrect her career via a paint-by-numbers sitcom, the mortifying process of which was chronicled in her own  reality television, the comedy also has proven to be a bit prescient in its portrayal of the industry’s fame machine.

“The Comeback” is one of two series featuring Lisa Kudrow  on this fall’s schedule. She also stars in Showtime’s “Web Therapy,” which airs its fourth season premiere at 11pm on Wednesday, October 22.

Patti Lupone Joins “Penny Dreadful”

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 8 September 2014 12:21 PM, PDT

Patti Lupone is a legend of both stage and screen, although she may be on her way to establishing herself as a horror diva. Lupone has signed on to guest star in season two of Showtime’s gorgeous and addictive “Penny Dreadful,” playing a character described in the official announcement as “mysterious” and “of great importance in Vanessa Ives’s (Eva Green) past.”  Lupone’s most recent TV guest star appearance was on FX’s “American Horror Story: Coven.

Showtime also bumped Helen McCrory and Simon Russell Beale up to series regulars for the 10-episode second season, which will be written by the drama’s creator John Logan. Beale plays Egyptologist Ferdinand Lyle, whose interpretation of an ancient script gave viewers clues about Miss Ives’ powers and her possible role in the darker arcs to come. McCrory appeared briefly in the first season as Madame Kali (real name: Evelyn Poole), and has been announced as the second season’s main antagonist.

Also joining “Penny Dreadful” for season two are Tony Award winner Douglas Hodge as Scotland Yard investigator Bartholomew Rusk, who may prove to be problematic for Josh Hartnett‘s Ethan Chandler; Sarah Greene as Evelyn Poole’s daughter Hecate (and if you don’t know why that name is ominous, look it up); and Jonny Beauchamp, whose character is only described as “a young man with a singular past.”

Production on season two of “Penny Dreadful” begins this month in Dublin. New episodes are scheduled to premiere in 2015 debut on Showtime.

Groundhog Night: The 66th Primetime Emmys

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 26 August 2014 12:04 AM, PDT

Sons of Anarchy” executive producer and director Paris Barclay once observed, “The Emmys are very, you know, generally monogamous…They fall in love with people, and they stick with them until they die.”

Confession: I opened an old blog post about another awards show with that quote. That’s the height of laziness — I’ll own that.  But in my defense, that statement was proven utterly true yet again on Monday night. How could I not dig it up for another go-round? Besides, I’m just taking cues from the habits of Academy of Television Arts and Sciences voters, whose all-too-familiar selections were revealed during NBC’s live telecast of The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards.

Honestly, why even bother considering that maybe, in a few categories, Emmy would shock us by actually rewarding fresh work and breakout performances? For that matter, why I am even pretending to be upset? Emmy has a longer history of playing it safe and boring than it does in exhibiting boldness. Even Seth Meyers fired right down the middle last night; he wasn’t the worst host, but he wasn’t particularly remarkable.  On the plus side, the show ended with minutes to spare, making Meyers an effective train conductor if not the frontrunner for next year’s Emmy host campaign. But when the funniest moment of the night is a make-out bit planted by nominees Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Bryan Cranston, that doesn’t reflect well on one’s writers.

Give credit where it’s due, though: that smooch was priceless.

Considering all of that, when I previously entertained the thought that either “Veep” or “Orange Is the New Black” would take the Outstanding Comedy award this year, that was just silly. Why reward either of those tremendous new shows when one can grant “Modern Family” its fifth win in the category?

Or when my gut told me that  Jim Parsons would take home another statue for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for “The Big Bang Theory”, but surmised that maybe Emmy would recognize Ricky Gervais’s stretching in a different direction in Netflix’s “Derek,” I should have heeded that warning. Parsons is easy to vote for. All the voters really need to see is the name, and THUNK! Rubber stamp, he’s back in.

In fact, Emmy, you were on such a roll…why not just shut “Orange,” “House of Cards  and “Derek” out of the Primetime Emmy Awards completely? Who watches Netflix, anyway?

Emmy also renewed its vows with “Modern Family’s” Ty Burrell, “Veep’s” Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “The Good Wife’s” Julianna Margulies  and it popped its cork for multiple Emmy award-winner Allison Janney twice this year — once for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on “Mom”, and once for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her role in Showtime’s “Masters of Sex”. Of course, a number of those repeat winners turned in worthy performances.

“Breaking Bad” also happens to be an encore winner in Outstanding Drama. Anyone who watched the final episodes would have no quibble with it taking home the Emmy even though nearly a year has passed since those hours first aired. The same argument can be made for the drama’s Emmy wins in individual performance categories: Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn and Aaron Paul were unstoppable on Monday night.

Cranston’s win, actually, was something of a pleasant shock. His victory marks his fifth time taking home an Emmy for his portrayal of Walter White, but more significantly, Cranston bested “True Detective’s” Matthew McConaughey, who was presumed to have had a lock on this category. But old Rust Cohle said it himself: “You see, we all got what I call a life trap, a gene deep certainty that things will be different….” Emmy is nothing if not a trap for the hopeful.

Try looking at that particular turn of events, and Julia Roberts upset in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, in a positive light. There was a time that any A-list film actor or actress could descend from celebrity Valhalla and star in a worthwhile TV movie (or, nowadays, a series) and Emmy would fall all over itself to reward them for the favor. But both Oscar winners left empty-handed. That novelty has worn off, and the fact that Cranston has become a sought-after movie actor these days lends weight to the idea of TV’s elevated status as a place to do good work.

The true crime of Roberts’s defeat, however, was that it did not come at the hands of  “Fargo’s” Allison Tolman. Rather, Kathy Bates took home the gold for “American Horror Story”. Your guess is as good as mine as to how that happened. (Then again, let’s thank the Powers that Be that Emmy didn’t grant another kneejerk prize to Ellen Burstyn, nominated this time for Flowers in the Attic.)

Similarly unexpected were the multiple upsets provided by “Sherlock: His Last Vow”, including individual performance Emmys for Supporting Actor Martin Freeman and Lead Actor  Benedict Cumberbatch. Neither of them bothered to show up — probably because neither of them expected to best the presumed frontrunners in their categories, specifically Matt Bomer for The Normal Heart and — I’m sorry, but this is pure insanity –  Billy Bob Thornton and Mark Ruffalo. The Cumberbatch is to be adored, and “Sherlock” is still one of the best things on television, but season three was weaker in comparison to the first two and…really, Emmy? You thought The Cumberbatch was better than “Fargo’s” Lorne Malvo?

Thank goodness “Fargo” won Outstanding Miniseries. Yes, there’s that.

Including Steven Moffat’s win for Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special, “Sherlock” helped PBS’s “Masterpiece” win the most Emmys for any single program this year, raking in a total of seven awards between the Primetime and Creative Arts ceremonies.

On the network side, CBS, FX and AMC tied with five Primetime Emmys apiece. HBO went home with four on Monday night, while ABC got three (thanks to “Modern Family”) and Comedy Central walked away with one, for “The Colbert Report”.

If you missed The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards, you can check out our full list of winners as well as see photos from the show, enjoy the glamorous Red Carpet fashion and much more by visiting our Road to the Emmys section. You can also read our recap of the show to experience more highlights from the event.

Or just wait a year…odds are The 67th Primetime Emmy Awards will look a lot like this one.


Emmy Predictions and Awards Show Logic

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 21 August 2014 12:20 PM, PDT

Have you entered a betting pool for Monday night’s telecast of The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards? Good for you. I commend your bravery. If you haven’t, and are perhaps perusing this list in the hopes of gaining some sort of insight … good luck with that.

Oh sure, I’ve won a guessing game or two. Well, actually, just that one. But I will say it helps to apply Awards Show Logic to one’s choices. What is Awards Show Logic? It’s simple: Scan the nominees and look not at who deserves to win, but who voters might deem to be a safe choice to win in that particular round of awards. Sometimes those choices happen to be one in the same. In other instances, less so.

In still other cases, Emmy goes bananas and surprises us either pleasantly or… well, let’s just say there’s a reason “The West Wing” won 26 Emmy awards, including during seasons in which it probably would not have ranked among the best shows on television, while “The Wire” won exactly…zero. The point is, Emmy voters are not known for their sense of adventure. They tend get in a habit and stay with it.

Find out whether I’m right about any of this by checking out  The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards on Monday, August 25th on NBC at 8pm ET/5pm PT, which will be hosted by Seth Meyers. Watch along with IMDb’s Editorial team that night to enjoy the best red carpet glamour in our photo galleries. You also can get real-time updates on winners and highlights from the show by monitoring our homepage, by checking IMDb’s page on Facebook, or following @IMDb on Twitter for live results, and @IMDbMelanie for occasional snark. Until then, visit our Road to the Emmys section for the list of Creative Arts Emmy winners, photos from last year’s telecast and more.

Keep reading to see how Awards Show Logic informed my predictions of this year’s winners.

Outstanding Drama Series

Nominees: “Breaking Bad”, “Downton Abbey”, “Game of Thrones”, “House of Cards”, “Mad Men” , “True Detective”.

Who Should Win: “Breaking Bad”

Who Will Win: “Breaking Bad”. Those who have seen the final episodes of AMC’s landmark series know that this prediction needs little explanation. As for “True Detective”, if we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s a riveting drama that leaned heavily on cinematic style and the ferocious performances of its leads. If Emmy rewards those elements, that’s understandable. But an Outstanding Drama victor should be solid on every level, and “True Detective’s” fabric is a bit too frayed for me to call it for a win here.

Notable snubs: It’s a crime that neither “Masters of Sex” nor “The Good Wife” received nominations. I would trade “Downton Abbey’s” nod for either of these worthy contenders.

Outstanding Comedy Series

Nominees: “Louie”, “Modern Family”, “Orange Is the New Black”, “Silicon Valley”, “Veep”.

Who Should Win: “Orange Is the New Black”. Launched with virtually no fanfare during the summer of 2013, this series was all anyone could talk about in the months following. Emmy takes a while to follow cultural buzz and reach the same conclusions that viewers and critics do, however. While a win wouldn’t be out of the question, it would be a pleasant surprise.

Who Will Win: “Veep”. Helmed by multiple Emmy-nominee and winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus, this series spun out what may be its best season yet, and more viewers have been flocking to it. Plus, the shine may be fading on “Modern Family” in industry award circles…although Emmy does love repeat winners.

Notable snub:Brooklyn Nine-Nine” came up golden at the Globes, but was shut out here. But frankly its Fox counterpart “The Mindy Project” is just as deserving of a nomination. That said, I wouldn’t trade out any of this crop of nominees for either, so this observation is more emotional than practical.

Outstanding Miniseries

Nominees: “American Horror Story”, “Bonnie and Clyde”, “Fargo”, “Luther”, “Treme”, “The White Queen”.

Who Should Win: Don’t get me wrong, I loved “Luther” and “Treme”, and I watched “The White Queen” from start to finish. As for “Bonnie and Clyde”…um… anyhoo, scanning the competition there’s really one choice here.

Who Will Win: “Fargo”. One benefit of “True Detective” characterizing itself as a fully-fledged series opposed to a miniseries/anthology drama is that this excellent FX original isn’t going up against it. But Emmy is notoriously and astoundingly dense sometimes, so if it doesn’t win… there’s always next year.

Outstanding Television Movie

Nominees: Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, The Normal Heart, “Sherlock: His Last Vow (#3.3)”, The Trip to Bountiful, Killing Kennedy.

Who Should Win: The Normal Heart

Who Will Win: The Normal Heart. Because… HBO.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Nominees: Bryan Cranston for “Breaking Bad”, Jeff Daniels for “The Newsroom”, Jon Hamm for “Mad Men”, Woody Harrelson for “True Detective”, Matthew McConaughey for “True Detective”, Kevin Spacey for “House of Cards”

Who Should Win: Bryan Cranston

Who Will Win: Matthew McConaughey. Yes, Cranston’s final run on “Breaking Bad” was peerless, but Emmy loves A-listers – and who doesn’t want to see the man gives us a big speech that starts with “awright, awright awright”?

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Nominees: Don Cheadle for “House of Lies”,,Louis C.K. for “Louie”,,Matt LeBlanc for “Episodes”, William H. Macy for “Shameless”, Jim Parsons for “The Big Bang Theory” , Ricky Gervais for “Derek”

Who Should Win: William H. Macy for “Shameless.” Macy’s Frank Gallagher was even more of a mess this season and, in truth, not really funny. But he also served up remarkable work this season. Besides, in Emmy’s world, you don’t have to be funny to take home a statue in the comedy categories. Just ask Edie Falco.

Who Will Win: Originally I’d have said Jim Parsons for “The Big Bang Theory”, but Ricky Gervais showed a different, more poignant side with his performance in Netflix’s “Derek”. Emmy has a knack for throwing some dark horses into the winners circle. And I’ll admit it – I’m curious to see how naughty Gervais’s acceptable speech will be.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie

Nominees: Idris Elba for “Luther”, Chiwetel Ejiofor for “Dancing on the Edge”, Benedict Cumberbatch for “Sherlock: His Last Vow (#3.3)”, Martin Freeman for “Fargo”, Mark Ruffalo for The Normal Heart, Billy Bob Thornton for “Fargo”

Who Should Win: Billy Bob Thornton. In an ordinary season of television, there would be one clear standout in this category. But this year’s crop of actors in this category makes predicting a front runner a bit of an uncertainty…but only a bit. The real race is between Thornton and Mark Ruffalo, and in that match up our Monopoly money is on….

Who Will Win: Billy Bob Thornton.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Nominees: Lizzy Caplan for “Masters of Sex”, Claire Danes for “Homeland”, Michelle Dockery for “Downton Abbey”, Julianna Margulies for “The Good Wife”, Kerry Washington for “Scandal”, Robin Wright for “House of Cards”

Who Should Win: Robin Wright had a wonderful run in season two of “House of Cards.” However…

Who Will Win: Julianna Margulies has been nominated four times for her work on “The Good Wife”, but won only once. I’m betting Emmy voters will make up for snubbing the series in the Drama category by handing her some hardware for her outstanding performance over the most recent season.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Nominees: Lena Dunham for “Girls”, Edie Falco for “Nurse Jackie”, Julia Louis-Dreyfus for “Veep”, Melissa McCarthy for “Mike & Molly”, Amy Poehler for “Parks and Recreation”, Taylor Schilling for “Orange Is the New Black”

Who Should Win: Amy Poehler for “Parks and Recreation”. She’s been nominated five times in this category. Five! And she deserved everyone one of those nods.

Who Will Win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She’s been nominated too many times and won too few of those for Emmy not to step up, in my opinion. Not that she doesn’t deserve it; Louis-Dreyfus is the main reason “Veep” evolved from being a very funny comedy to one that’s not to be missed.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie

Nominees: Helena Bonham Carter for Burton and Taylor, Minnie Driver for Return to Zero, Jessica Lange for “American Horror Story”, Sarah Paulson for “American Horror Story”, Cicely Tyson for The Trip to Bountiful, Kristen Wiig for “The Spoils of Babylon”

Who Should Win: Helena Bonham Carter. Watching her in Burton and Taylor wasn’t just a delight. In a perverse way, her portrayal served as sort of a public tutorial on How to Play Liz Taylor that came too late to school Lindsay Lohan. I actually imagined HBC watching LiLo in her Lifetime pic while on a fainting couch and cooing, “Adorable. How darling. Now stand back and let mama show you how it’s done.”

Who Will Win: Cicely Tyson, who reprised her Broadway-originated role for The Trip to Bountiful.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Nominees: Fred Armisen for “Portlandia”, Andre Braugher for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”, Ty Burrell for “Modern Family”, Adam Driver for “Girls”, Jesse Tyler Ferguson for “Modern Family”, Tony Hale for “Veep”

Who Should Win: Andre Braugher for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”. Although Andy Samberg won the Lead Comedy Actor Golden Globe, Braugher’s deadpan Captain Holt is the ingredient that makes “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” so completely enjoyable. Plus, he’s won Emmys twice previously.

Who Will Win: Tony Hale for “Veep”. This is one of those choices that makes sense when you put Emmy’s goggles on. Who doesn’t love Buster Bluth?

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Nominees:  Jim Carter for “Downton Abbey”, Josh Charles for “The Good Wife”, Peter Dinklage for “Game of Thrones”, Mandy Patinkin for “Homeland”, Aaron Paul for “Breaking Bad”, Jon Voight for “Ray Donovan”

Who Should Win: Peter Dinklage for “Game of Thrones”

Who Will Win: Aaron Paul for “Breaking Bad”. This is a tough call… Dinklage took us through Tyrion Lannister’s toughest, most emotionally challenging chapter without losing the character’s soul in his performance. But Paul made our hearts bleed for Jesse Pinkman in those final episodes. In the end, this is the last time that Emmy can salute him for that role.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie

Nominees: Matt Bomer for The Normal Heart, Martin Freeman for “Sherlock: His Last Vow (#3.3)”, Colin Hanks for “Fargo”, Alfred Molina for Return to Zero, Jim Parsons for The Normal Heart, Joe Mantello for The Normal Heart (2014) (TV)

Who Should Win: Matt Bomer for The Normal Heart

Who Will Win: Matt Bomer for The Normal Heart. Because…HBO. Also, he was amazing.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Nominees: Mayim Bialik for “The Big Bang Theory”, Julie Bowen for “Modern Family”, Anna Chlumsky for “Veep”, Allison Janney for “Mom”, Kate Mulgrew for “Orange Is the New Black”, Kate McKinnon for “Saturday Night Live”

Who Should Win: Kate Mulgrew for “Orange Is the New Black”

Who Will Win: Allison Janney for “Mom”. This is a category where Emmy likes to surprise and shock us – remember last year’s Merritt Wever upset? Knowing this gives Mulgrew the edge…except for the fact that Janney is a five-time Emmy winner.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Nominees: Christine Baranski for “The Good Wife”, Joanne Froggatt for “Downton Abbey”, Anna Gunn for “Breaking Bad”, Lena Headey for “Game of Thrones”, Christina Hendricks for “Mad Men”, Maggie Smith for “Downton Abbey”

Who Should Win: Christine Baranski for “The Good Wife”

Who Will Win: Anna Gunn for “Breaking Bad”. Both have won Emmys once, although Baranski has been nominated 11 times (including her win) to Gunn’s three. Having said that, this is the last time Gunn can win for this role. Baranski will be back.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie

Nominees: Angela Bassett for “American Horror Story”, Kathy Bates for “American Horror Story”, Ellen Burstyn for Flowers in the Attic, Frances Conroy for “American Horror Story”, Julia Roberts for The Normal Heart, Allison Tolman for “Fargo”

Who Should Win: Allison Tolman for “Fargo”. She may be a newcomer, but Tolman’s turn in FX’s anthology series hit all the right notes and announced her arrival as a major talent. It would be quite a coup if she wins, and she’d have a fair chance at doing so if not for…

Who Will Win: Julia Roberts for The Normal Heart. A-lister. Celebrity. HBO branding. Emmy voters love all of those factors. And I hope I’m wrong with this call, because Tolman truly deserves the Emmy here.

The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards air at 8pm ET/5pm PT Monday, August 25th on NBC.

“American Horror Story” Sets Premiere Date & Other TV News

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 20 August 2014 2:43 PM, PDT

The next chapter of the “American Horror Story” anthology has an official premiere date. “American Horror Story: Freak Show” will make its debut at 10pm Wednesday, October 8. As previously announced, Jessica Lange is returning alongside her “Coven” co-stars Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, and Sarah Paulson who, like Lange, has been part of the series since its first season. Currently joining these stars for “Freak Show” is Michael Chiklis (“The Shield“, “Vegas“) and Jyoti Amge, also known as the world’s smallest woman.

Read on FX’s official plot description for the latest installment of the anthology series.

American Horror Story: Freak Show begins its tale in the quiet, sleepy hamlet of Jupiter, Florida. The year is 1952. A troupe of curiosities has just arrived to town, coinciding with the strange emergence of a dark entity that savagely threatens the lives of townsfolk and freaks alike. This is the story of the performers and their desperate journey of survival amidst the dying world of the American carny experience.”

In other news, Showtime has renewed “Ray Donovan” and “Masters of Sex” for third seasons, each consisting of twelve episodes. Production is scheduled to begin in early 2015.

AMC also announced that is has picked up “Halt and Catch Fire” for a second season, set to air in the summer of 2015.

FX Renews The Strain

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 19 August 2014 10:22 AM, PDT

In what could probably be considered a no-brainer type of decision, FX has picked up “The Strain” for a 13-episode second season.

Based on a series of books co-written by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, “The Strain” follows the Center for Disease Control’s New York-based Canary Team, consisting of Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll),  Dr. Nora Martinez (Mía Maestro) and Jim Kent (Sean Astin), as well as a pawn shop broker, Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley), an incredibly badass rat exterminator, Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand), and the streetwise Gus Elizalde (Miguel Gomez), as they battle an epidemic that is quickly threatening to transform the population into parasitic vampires. Executive producer Carlton Cuse (”Lost,”Bates Motel”) serves as the drama’s showrunner.

”The Strain” is the first original that FX scheduled in the highly competitive Sunday primetime slot, and according to the network, that gamble has paid off.  It currently ranks as the year’s #1 new series on cable in the key demographic of adults 18-49. Around 12.7 million Total Viewers tuned in to the premiere, making it the most-watched debut in the network’s history.

FX reports that “The Strain” also is averaging 11 million Total Viewers and 5.2 million in adults 18-49 tuning in each week, which includes stats from video on demand and online viewing. The Live + 7 ratings are much more down-to-earth, with an average of 4.5 million Total Viewers and 2.6 million in adults 18-49.

“The Strain” is not the only cable series that was renewed today. SundanceTV announced that its critically-acclaimed series ”Rectify” will return for a third season in 2015, and MTV has picked up its summertime hit “Finding Carter” for a 12-episode second season.

Comic-Con TV Round-Up: Farewell to “True Blood,” “Sons of Anarchy,” & More

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 27 July 2014 10:47 PM, PDT

What with all the hoopla surrounding new and returning TV titles at Comic-Con, it helps to be reminded that more than a few series made a splash here just once, never to return. I could list a few of those titles as examples, but I honestly can’t recall any off the top of my head because their lifespans were short and unsung.

I bring this up because on Saturday and Sunday, the casts and producers of “True Blood” and “Sons of Anarchy” appeared before their faithful viewers at Comic-Con for a final time. Tears were shed during each panel, and heartfelt moments brought attendees to their feet to give the actors and producers standing ovations.  These long-running series appeared regularly at Comic-Con through their runs, and each of their casts poignantly thanked the fans by acknowledging that they owe their long lifespans to their passionate viewers.

Fan favorite Kristin Bauer van Straten cried frequently during “True Blood’s” panel. By her report, she was one of the biggest weepers on the set whenever she experienced the “last” of anything. But surprisingly enough, on the “Sons of Anarchy” panel, the person who lost it was none other than the show’s hard-boiled creator and executive producer Kurt Sutter,  moved to tears by a heartfelt expression of gratitude by the series’ go-to director Paris Barclay  and a standing ovation by the fans in Hall H.

Saturday and Sunday also brought panels for “The Vampire Diaries” and “Supernatural”, the latter of which is entering its 10th season and will air its 200th episode. Each show has a reputation for drawing particularly enthusiastic, devoted fans to its panels. “Supernatural” usually panels at the end of Con, so the people who show up are not only deep fans of the show but Comic-Con diehards, which created the air of a particularly joyous family reunion on Sunday morning.

Keep reading for highlights from these panels and details about what’s in store during the upcoming seasons and episodes of these shows.

True Blood airs the sixth of its final 10 episodes this week, and Saturday evening’s panel had a uniquely celebratory vibe to it. Even Rutina Wesley showed up although her character, Tara, is officially among the dearly departed. Or, we should say, she’s left Bon Temps … but according to showrunner Brian Buckner, we have yet to see footage from the very last scenes Wesley filmed on the show.

However, both Buckner and Anna Camp teased that what’s in store for Sarah Newlin, one of the main figures responsible for helping to create and spread the fatal Hep V virus to vampires, will be particularly awful/awesome. “I think I get what I deserve,” Camp told fans.

Buckner added that the day that they shot Sarah receiving her “punishment,” Camp’s boyfriend was on the set and he had to explain to the man, “She deserves this, she deserves this!”  Oh dear.

Saturday’s vampire weekend treat began earlier that afternoon with The Vampire Diaries panel, which kicked off with a funny spoof video that picked up from the finale’s fade-to-white cliffhanger by showing Kat Graham and Ian Somerhalder, both of whose characters were presumably zapped out of existence, turning up on an empty soundstage with no clue as to what happened to them. Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley and Candice Accola, meanwhile, acted as Graham were huge divas behind the scenes and they were glad to have them gone.

Naturally, Graham and Somerhalder then took the stage to eardrum shattering screams because, honestly, did you really think they’d kill off one of the Salvatores? Executive producer Julie Plec confirmed that the pair would be back but, of course, did not say how that would happen.

What Plec and the cast did reveal is that the time jump between the finale and the premiere is four months, and that in the coming season Matthew Davis, who plays Alaric Saltzman, will return as a teacher at the university.

Sunday’s Sons of Anarchy panel did not offer many details about the coming season – Sutter likes to play his cards close to the cut – but those assembled in Hall H did get a first look at the opening montage of the season which included the usual riveting moments of beauty, brutality, tragedy and as the cherry topper, a little bit of D.I.Y. dentistry. “I think we’re gonna break a lot of hearts this year,” said David Labrava, who plays Happy. “Get your handkerchiefs ready.”

The end of the series does not mean the end of its story, however. A novel titled Bratva comes out this fall, with the action taking place during the events of season four, in which the club tangles with a Russian gang. Sutter also updated fans on the status of a “Sons of Anarchy” prequel currently being developed. He said that it could be a miniseries or a regular series commitment, and will explore the club’s origins dating back to John Teller’s era and his relationship with Piney.

One of Sunday’s top TV destinations at Comic-Con, “Supernatural,” opened with series star Jensen Ackles introducing the season 10’s version of the signature “The Road So Far” recap reel before treating fans to a scene from an upcoming episode he directed. After co-stars Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins and Mark Sheppard joined him onstage, Ackles and Padalecki told fans about the coming season’s central conflict between Sam and Dean… rather, Sam and Demon Dean.

Ackles explained that his demon version isn’t a meat suit, but a twisted, tortured version of his soul. In the clip, Dean taunts Sam with his past actions, asking Sam whether he is any less monstrous than his demon brother. Showrunner Jeremy Carver also said that in the first few episodes, Dean enjoys being a demon while Sam searches for a way to save him.

Season 10 also brings “Supernatural’s” 200th episode, which the panel teased would be the show’s version of a musical episode featuring “big hair bands.” In fact, Ackles said, we’ll discover that Dean enjoys karaoke.

Carry on, wayward sons.

Comic-Con TV Round-Up: “Big Bang Theory,” “The Walking Dead” and More!

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 26 July 2014 12:14 PM, PDT

Friday was busy for TV fans attending San Diego Comic-Con, with a schedule full of panels for “Orphan Black,” “Vikings,” “Outlander,” “Bates Motel,” “Arrow” and many more — far too many for one mere mortal to cover, largely due to the fact that the most popular ones happened to occur at the same time. It was a day of making all kinds of Sophie’s choices, if you will. In the end I focused my efforts on hanging with the folks who write for television’s favorite nerds; finding out a few details about what’s coming down the road for the citizens of Westeros and Banshee; and discovering whether our favorite gang of survivors will make it out of Terminus. Please bear in mind that this is a report from the heart of Nerd Central, so if you are SPOILER averse, please stop reading now.

Here are highlights from the panels for “The Walking Dead,“Game of Thrones,” “The Big Bang Theory”, and “Banshee“.

The Walking Dead’s cast and producers know that Comic-Con people are its biggest boosters, and executive producer Gale Anne Hurd took a moment to acknowledge that as they revealed season five’s premiere date – Sunday, October 12 at 9pm –  and unveiled the new preview trailer to the folks assembled in Hall H. If you haven’t seen it yet, ask yourself why you’ve decided to miss out on some of the finer things in life. Then have a look as soon as possible. It is perhaps the most spoiler-heavy trailer AMC and the show have released to date, but it’s also the most exciting one, featuring a newly invigorated, super bad-ass Rick Grimes.

“This is a very dangerous, very different group of people,” said creator and executive producer Robert Kirkman, explaining that now that the group has lost Hershel, all bets are pretty much off.

Among the things showrunner Scott Gimple teased are that we’ll see the story of how Terminus came to be, and the answer to the question of what happened to Beth Greene. Yes, Emily Kinney was present for the panel and assured us that Beth has gotten a lot fiercer. The time spent with Daryl (Norman Reedus, who is a Comic-Con deity at this point) helped her learn a new set of survival skills. “She’s taking a different kind of strength into season five,” Kinney said.

In casting news, Gimple joked that producers are committed to hiring as many of the actors who graced “The Wire” as possible (a nod to Chad L. Coleman, who plays Tyreese) before telling us that Seth Gilliam will appear in the upcoming season in the role of Father Gabriel.

“Game of Thrones” unveiled its lengthy list of cast additions, but mainly the panel served as an outlet for the actors to ham it up for the fans. (Behold the season four blooper reel.) The person who made the seating arrangements cheekily placed Rory McCann between Gwendoline Christie and Maisie Williams, also known as the woman who dealt the blow that would eventually end The Hound, and the girl who left him on a hillside to die. McCann playfully moaned about how brutally The Hound was beaten in his deathmatch with Brienne, to which Christie purred, “I thought he got off lightly.”

“Nasty b-tch,” McCann growled in reply, and without missing a beat, Williams asked, “Which one: Me, or her?”

Later, a questioner asked the panel to answer the eternal question of whether they’d choose direwolves and dragons. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jaime Lannister, answered “Direwolves.” An odd response, given the enmity between Houses Stark and Lannister. But then he added, “Easier to kill.”  But fan favorite Pedro Pascal, whose much-loved character Oberyn Martell met his demise last season, had the best answer when his time came: Asked to choose, he calmly answered, “Snakes.”

Every major panel includes a surprise guest star appearance or two; “The Walking Dead” brought out Chandler Riggs eating pudding from a giant can, while The Big Bang Theory‘s” writers and producers welcomed Wil Wheaton to the stage. But “Big Bang” provided an unscripted thrill for the fans attending its panel, though the larger shock was felt by moderator Craig Ferguson.  We’re not talking about the producers’ galaxy-shaking statement that when “Star Wars” icons James Earl Jones and Carrie Fisher met on the show, it was the first time they’d actually met in real life…although that fact is truly mind-blowing.

Instead, the moment came when a woman in the audience stepped up to ask the writers why they hated Aquaman so much. Mind you, “The Big Bang Theory” is not alone in maligning Aquaman; he’s been the butt of many a pop culture joke. Even Dave Chappelle knocked him in one of his earliest bits. So you can’t blame Ferguson for taking this opportunity to riff and running with it.

“BECAUSE HE’S NOT A REAL SUPERHERO! THAT’S WHY! THAT’S WHY THEY HATE HIM!” the comedian bellowed, making the audience erupt in laughter. The questioner was not pleased. Once the room died down a bit, Wheaton stepped in and asked the woman to reveal her identity. She calmly answered that she is the granddaughter of Aquaman’s creator, Paul Norris.

The audience lost it, and Ferguson looked appropriately horrified as he apologized profusely.

Later in the day, at the much more intimate panel for “Banshee,” fans queued up to ask questions of the castmembers present, including the very sweet and kind Geno Segers, a tower of a man who joins the show in season three to play the fearsome, vicious gang leader Chayton Littlestone.  But one questioner wearing a red fez stopped the discussion in its tracks as he asked about whether the gang of white supremacists featured in season two would return in season three.

Antony Starr  demanded the questioner remove his hat, and it turned out to be Demetrius Grosse, a central member of the cast whose character Deputy Emmett Yawners met his end in the second season finale. Starr descended from the dais to give Grosse a hug. Later fans lined up to take selfies with the man who played the dearly departed Deputy Yawners before everyone disappeared into the throngs filling the streets on Friday evening.

Friday bonus: A “Vikings” Food Fight. Part of covering Comic-Con includes attending a series of press rooms, which can be a challenge as tens of reporters fight to ask questions of the few actors assembled for a limited amount of time. Noise levels drown out many of the answers. This was particularly true in the press room for “Vikings,” which cultivated a party atmosphere by serving reporters fruit, beer and wine, and handing out drinking horns. After that, Katheryn WinnickClive Standen, Alexander Ludwig and Travis Fimmel were brought to the roundtables to chat. In theory. Mid-interview, Ludwig, who had poured water over Fimmel’s head prior to sitting down with Winnick, got biffed by a projectile thrown by Fimmel, who would later sit down with us and surgically aim green grapes at some poor soul at the table behind me. One should expect nothing less from a gang of Northmen who know how to party.

Comic-Con: Sand Snakes, Dornish Royals Cast on “Game of Thrones”

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 25 July 2014 2:04 PM, PDT

If you recall the events that transpired during season four of “Game of Thrones,” you probably may have guessed that the citizens of Dorne are a tad miffed at the Lannisters right now. Dorne intends to answer! As such, on Friday afternoon HBO announced a number of additions to the already-sizable “Game of Thrones” cast, many of them relative newcomers. After all, it’s not as if there aren’t spots coming open on a regular basis.

Among the better known actors joining the cast are Alexander Siddig, last seen guest starring on “Da Vinci’s Demons.”  Siddig will have a major story arc as Doran Martell, the ruling lord of Dorne and older brother to Prince Oberyn Martell.  (A moment of silence for The Viper, if you will…) Also joining the cast in season five is Jonathan Pryce as the High Sparrow. The press release describes the High Sparrow as a devout and pious man who came to King’s Landing to serve the poor, the downtrodden and the infirm, and has amassed a large following in the process. “His fellow believers have swarmed over the city, ministering to the lowest and decrying the corruption of the highest.” Look out, Cersei.

Season five also introduces Oberyn’s formidable daughters, known as the Sand Snakes. Rosabell Laurenti Sellers will play Tyene Sand, daughter to The Viper and his final paramour Ellaria. According to HBO’s press release, “Tyene is fiercer than she looks, especially with her twin daggers.” The role of fearsome warrior Obara Sand was won by Keisha Castle-Hughes, who earned critical acclaim and an Oscar nomination at a young age as the star of Whale Rider. Lastly, Jessica Henwick has been cast as Nymeria Sand, a.k.a. Nym. The press release describes her as the child of an Eastern noblewoman “who brought Nym up to be cultured, graceful and deadly with a whip.”

Additionally, Toby Sebastian will play Prince Doran’s son, Trystane Martell, who is betrothed to Myrcella Baratheon, the eldest daughter of Cersei Lannister and the late Robert Baratheon (wink, nudge), who will now be portrayed by Nell Tiger Free. Areo Hotah, recognizable to readers of George R.R. Martin ‘s novels as the captain of Doran Martell’s palace guard, will be played by DeObia Oparei. And Enzo Cilenti will fill the role of Yezzan, an extremely wealthy slave trader who may have issues with the changes Daenerys Targaryen has made.

The new season of “Game of Thrones” is scheduled to air in 2015.


Comic-Con: Fans Show Love for “Penny Dreadful” & Hannibal

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 25 July 2014 1:43 AM, PDT

Here’s how we know NBC’s “Hannibal” is doing something right. During the most gruesome parts in the highlight reel shown in Ballroom 20 at Comic-Con, people emitted “oohs” and “aahs”. Some even whooped with delight. Psychopaths? Hardly.  When the time came for people to ask questions of executive producer Bryan Fuller and members of cast, the tenor of the conversation was quite cerebral. If Dr. Lecter were on the hunt for rude people to eat on Thursday afternoon, he would not have found them in that room.

A huge part of Comic-Con’s thrill is to sit among scores of fans that think deeply about challenging shows like this and Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful,” which paneled directly after “Hannibal”. Both fit in the horror genre although surprisingly, the ballroom seemed a bit emptier during “Penny.” More’s the pity for those who missed that conversation. As the panel’s Dreadful of a moderator Aisha Tyler put it, “So many feels!”

If the “Hannibal” panel felt like an intellectual exploration of a television show, “Penny” struck emotional chords. Creator John Logan spoke about the heartfelt connections he had with the plight of the classic literary monsters whose stories he played with during the show’s first season. I could hear the people around me murmuring in empathy with his observations. Even when fans put him on the spot about the show’s depictions of sexuality (which, in the case of Eva Green‘s character Vanessa Ives, came across as troubling at times) his answers were profoundly thoughtful.

Another major reason people show up at these panels, though, is to get scoop on what’s to come in future episodes. So if you haven’t watched these shows, you might want to stop reading now because details that follow include spoilers.

You have been warned.

“Penny Dreadful’s” panel allowed Tyler to indulge her (and our) deepest questions about the nature of the relationships at play in the show, including the crazy, carnal love scene between Josh Hartnett‘s Ethan Chandler and Reeve Carney‘s Dorian Gray. Logan was very frank in answering that as a gay man, he wanted to deal with all aspects of sexuality in this show. “Let’s face it, it’s 2014. We can have people be true in a sexual way,” Logan said.

Beyond that, the majority of the questions had to do with the finale revelation that Ethan Chandler is, in fact, a werewolf. Logan said that season two would begin to explore Ethan’s background, much in the way viewers got a view into Vanessa’s past in the first season. Indeed, Logan says that the main relationship he is spinning out in season three has to do with the bond between Ethan and Vanessa, and that next season would also reveal more about the theological underpinnings that drive Ethan and influence other stories on the show.

But the biggest reveal of “Penny Dreadful” panel was that Helen McCrory‘s Madame Kali will be season two’s main antagonist. Logan showed a scene that was cut from season one which featured McCrory brilliantly delivering a monologue that hinted at her having wicked designs on messing with Miss Ives. It let us know just how devilish the dark Madame can be, and I can’t wait to watch.

Meanwhile, the “Hannibal” panel included Caroline Dhavernas, Scott Thompson, Aaron Abrams … and Raúl Esparza, whose character Dr. Chilton took a bullet to the face in season two. While it’s not uncommon for dearly departed co-stars to appear on Comic-Con panels to bid farewell to fans, in this case, Esparza was present because he’s returning in season three. We’ll also see Eddie Izzard, although he’ll be appearing in flashbacks because, well, there ain’t no coming back from what happened to his character.

Season three of “Hannibal” takes place a year after the events of the second season finale,  and will take its time letting us know the full extent of who lives and who died. We won’t get the full details of the fateful night’s outcome until episode four; Fuller explained that he wants to take time looking at Hannibal’s life on the run, and the development of his relationship with Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson). Fuller further pointed out that the blood red suit he was wearing was Italian — which was a clue about one of the settings for the next season.

The executive producer also let slip that Gina Torres‘s character Bella Crawford is returning, for what that’s worth. The new season also will introduce a number of new characters from Thomas Harris‘s novels, including Francis Dolarhyde in episode eight (which kicks off the Red Dragon arc of the story), as well as Inspector Pazzi and in episode three, much-loved character Lady Murasaki.  Fuller did not have any casting announcements to share for these upcoming roles, but he did say, “I think Murasaki is going to kick all kinds of ass.”

Missing from the panel were “Hannibal’s” central stars Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen, although both sent taped messages for the fans. Mikkelsen ended his with, “Hopefully next year I’ll see you for a quick lunch.”

In other Comic-Con news: MTV has picked up “Teen Wolf” for a two-part, 20-episode fifth season.

Elsewhere, Cinemax is getting in bed with Robert Kirkman, creator of “The Walking Dead.” Kirkman’s new comic Outcast has been picked up to pilot, and its story follows a man named Kyle Barnes, who has suffered from various instances of possession since he was a child. As an adult, he is on a search for answers and makes a discovery that could spell the end of life on Earth. Kirkman, who will write the pilot, tweeted the news thusly: “Demons are the new zombies. #Outcast pilot into pre-production @Cinemax.”

TCA: “Gotham’s” Ben McKenzie & Donal Logue Respond to Critics

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 23 July 2014 10:10 AM, PDT

Last week, reporters attending the Television Critics Association’s Summer Press Tour enjoyed a private screening of Fox’s “Gotham”. Based on the origin stories of a young James Gordon and a younger Harvey Bullock (played by Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue), “Gotham” is one of the most highly anticipated new shows on the fall schedule.

What the actors and series executive producer Bruno Heller probably were not anticipating was the reaction of some critics, that “Gotham’s” pilot is essentially a grim cop show missing the key element that makes this particular universe special: its headliner, Batman.

For the record, this writer disagrees with that assessment. Sure, the pilot isn’t perfect, but I found it to be true to the Batman universe and would confidently recommend it to fans of the Dark Knight. A full review of “Gotham” will post closer to its premiere at 8pm on Monday, September 22. In the meantime, I sat down with McKenzie and Logue at the Beverly Hilton earlier this week to find out what they thought about a few early and very vocal critical reactions to the pilot.

Spoiler alert — they were not amused.

IMDb: You two have fielded a lot of questions about how “Gotham” will work without a superhero.

Ben McKenzie: I’ll jump right in there, if you want.

Donal Logue: That’s absurd. Really? It’s uninteresting to see Gotham, Oswald Cobblepot, the development of all these people before they became villains? It seems like a tired kind of criticism.

McKenzie: It’s a strange criticism to me in the sense of, the people who are fans of Batman and the Batman world are incredibly passionate, and they’ve watched all of these different iterations of this universe, from the comic book 75 years ago, all the way through the Adam West TV show,  through the movie versions which – how many different versions of that have there been? Three or four different auteurs taking on this mythology. And throughout all of that, when we take a side angle at this universe, your criticism is, “Well, there isn’t a Batman”? Well, you must love these other characters too, right?

And there is a Bruce. You see Bruce when he’s twelve. We’re not going to jump forward. We’re going to take this one day at a time, and show how this city descends into the anarchy that ultimately manifests the need for a Batman.

Logue: As a fan of Tolkien, although I know he wrote it in order – if, say, for instance, Lord of the Rings came out and someone said, “Would you be interested in seeing The Hobbit, to see what happened before that?” I’d say “Hell yes!”

McKenzie: That’s what’s beautiful about our origin story. It allows us to mine the familiarity of these characters, for an audience that is predisposed to understand what we’re talking about, in terms of the broad strokes of who these characters are. But we’re not beholden to any interpretation, because this is 20 to 30 years before they are who they’ll become.

IMDb:  From my perspective, the cops are integral to this universe. There’s a huge political element to the world of Batman, with all the corruption within the police department. And then you have Carmine Falcone ruling the criminal underworld. All of these are elements, if you look at it, which would make a great procedural kind of show with an extra mythology layered in.

Logue: I thought they did an excellent job in the animated series.

IMDb:  I did too.

Logue: In a weird way, this is a bit of an homage to that, presented to a wider audience in a different kind of format. But always, to true aficionados, even those things of what Jim and Harvey went through early on are deeply important. To me, [the critical reaction] seemed a bit kneejerk…when I saw it in print I thought, “Man, some 13 year old smart ass is writing that. ‘Nope. Pass!’”

IMDb: You also have to realize that a number of people said that about “Smallville” too.

Logue: What I like about some of this stuff, like with “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, it is more difficult in some ways, in that you know that they exist but they can’t just walk into the room. That seems to handcuff them in a really hard way. But with us –

McKenzie: We show everybody. We can show Bruce, and Oswald, and Nygma — every single character, we have access to. The only character we don’t have access to is Batman, but that’s because we’re taking it 20 years before. Eventually he will become Batman, but at this point he’s a 12-year-old boy. You’ll see him struggling with all the issues, psychologically and otherwise, that will eventually compel him to put on the cowl… For people who aren’t familiar with David Mazouz’s work, he’s a great actor. And I think watching him process all of what he’s going through at such a seminal moment in his life, it’s just going to be riveting.

And the battle between Jim and Alfred over Bruce’s soul, the conflicting philosophies that they have – they’re both trying to steer Bruce down a path, but those paths differ – they’re trying to make Bruce not choose this path of vengeance and vigilantism. But they’re going to fail.

IMDb: Let’s take away all of those criticisms we talked about. What would you tell someone who is coming to this show, knowing what Gotham is, but otherwise coming in cold? Would you say “Gotham” is more like a procedural, or that it’s part of the Batman, comic book universe but without a superhero in it?

McKenzie: My answer that I would give to anyone on any show, even if I didn’t work on the show, is: “Watch the pilot. Just watch the pilot. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to watch it.” It’s such an easy answer.

Logue: Look, this is a group of people who are so actively engaged in [this universe] that of course there’s going to be criticism. It’s amazing, the confidence with which people have opinions and dismiss it without having seen it! But to me, per some of earlier questions that we had, it’s the absurdity of, for example, how satisfying could Chinatown be if the rich guy gets away with murder at the end? Well, exceedingly.

McKenzie: And this idea has been around for a while! Back to Oedipus Rex!

Logue: …And so, yes, there’s a procedural element to it, which I really like, and I think the crimes are really interesting.

McKenzie: Because it is a little noirish, the crimes are odd and they’re not…it’s not like we have to go through eight different procedural points to discover this huge reveal of who it could possibly be. It’s more about how bizarre, twisted and crazy the world that we’re entering into is. … It’s fascinating and [the crimes] all give you a small window into how completely compromised every aspect of Gotham is, from the church to the police force, to the political powers that be. Everyone is on the take, and so weird crimes manifest in strange ways, and people behave in a bizarre manner because they’re without hope. And Jim’s the only hope there is.

IMDb: Also, in the end, none of these people are metahuman. They’re all just people doing crazy, heightened things.

McKenzie: Yes!

Logue: I’ve always loved the DC world because it’s rooted in, like, a Jungian-style human psychology where people take actual masks to match their shadow. I think that really bodes well for us, because it’s rooted in this visceral part of human nature. So when you’re talking about, “How can you do a show that explores the darker side of human nature, and how it behaves in an overly urban environment?” If you can’t see that there’s no limit to the storylines there, then I don’t know what to say.

It’s OK. Look, we’ll take whatever criticism comes our way, and we’ll even take it before someone’s actually tasted the meal, but that comes a little with this universe, I think.

TCA: More Details on “Fargo’s” Second Season

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 21 July 2014 5:42 PM, PDT

Days before FX brought casts and producers from its shows before the critics assembled at the Television Critics Association’s Summer Press Tour, there was word of a super-secret “surprise” panel that, as many correctly guessed, ended up being for “Fargo.” FX announced Monday morning that it had picked up the critically-acclaimed limited series for a second season run consisting of ten episodes, which was probably shocking to absolutely nobody.

But it was a nice to have executive producer and writer Noah Hawley, and fellow executive producer Warren Littlefield, on hand to share details about the second season. Here’s what Hawley told us: Season two will be set in 1979 and follow Keith Carradine‘s character Lou Solverson, Molly Solverson’s doting father, says Hawley.  We’ll also meet Molly’s mom, and Molly (played in season one by Allison Tolman) will be four years old.

Hawley pointed out that during season one there were a lot of references to Sioux Falls. “That is not an accident,” he said. Indeed, the action will take place in and around mostly Laverne, Minn., Sioux Falls and, naturally, Fargo. Though the crimes will be different from year to year, Hawley insists that Fargo, the locale, must always be a main character. “The word itself is so evocative,” he said. “It’s a state of mind.”

As it currently stands, nobody from the season one cast is returning. Season two will introduce an entirely new cast.

According to Hawley, the story begins with 33-year-old Lou having freshly returned from Vietnam and wrestling with living in the pre-Reagan era, in a time the writer characterizes as “the best of America versus the worst of America.” In this past era, Lou Solverson is a state police officer and his father-in-law is Laverne’s chief lawman. As for the nature of the new “true crime” to be explored in season two, Hawley hinted, “The Vietnam War came home with people, and Lou Solverson thought he’d left the war behind only to find out that it has come home with him.”

Asked if season two would have a subtitle, ala “American Horror Story: Coven,  Hawley joked, “The subtitle will be ‘Fargo: Backlash,’ and I look forward to all of your reviews.”

The earliest the next season “Fargo” will launch will be in Fall 2015. Production will return to Calgary and is scheduled to begin in January and will wrap deep in May.

TCA: FX Renews “Fargo”, “Louie”

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 21 July 2014 9:28 AM, PDT

FX announced two welcome if entirely predictable pick-ups on Monday morning, renewing critically-acclaimed comedy “Louie” and limited crime anthology series “Fargo” for additional seasons.

The cable network confirmed that the ten episode second chapter of “Fargo” will debut an all-new set of characters portrayed by an entirely new cast. The second season also will take place in a new time period, and will be based upon an entirely new “true crime,” with executive producer and writer Noah Hawley returning to helm. The first season of “Fargo” garnered 18 Emmy nominations, including one for Outstanding Miniseries, Outstanding Lead Actor nominations for Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman, and an Outstanding Supporting Actress nomination for its female lead, newcomer Allison Tolman. The earliest the next season “Fargo” will launch will be in Fall 2015.

Louie” is returning for a fifth season consisting of only seven episodes, although FX CEO John Landgraf told critics assembled for the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour said that it could have seven or eight episodes.  In any case, the fifth season will premiere in Spring 2015. In comparison, season four of “Louie” had 14 episodes. Then again, creator Louis C.K. took a nearly two-year break between seasons three and four.

Update: Landgraf explained to IMDbTV that “Louie’s” shorter fifth season is  FX’s way of giving Louis C.K. the creative space he needs to make an independent theatrical film he’s been developing. Plus, Landgraf added, “He’s exhausted.”

Winners Announced for the 30th Annual TCA Awards

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 19 July 2014 7:11 PM, PDT

Maybe you haven’t heard, but Emmy has a tendency to nominate her favorites over and over again. When that happens, and it usually does, people who love television become apoplectic at the idea of outstanding performances going unrewarded, and brilliant seasons passing sans accolade.

This is why the TCA Awards are so satisfying. On the occasion of its 30th anniversary, shows that air on HBO, FX, AMC, CBS, Logo, ABC Family, NBC, Netflix and Fox received awards from the Television Critic Association on Saturday night.  This writer had the pleasure of handing the award for Outstanding Achievement in Drama to CBS’s “The Good Wife,” which was criminally snubbed by the Emmys.

On the other hand, Individual Achievement in Drama winner Matthew McConaughey showed up to claim his award and support “True Detective,” which also won for Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials. McConaughey is Emmy nominated and a favorite to win, as is “True Detective,” so we aren’t completely out of sync with the bigger industry award shows.

Other highlights: Logo’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race” sashayed away with the award for Outstanding Achievement in Reality Programming, while the excellent ABC Family series “The Fosters” won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming.

Additionally, “COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey” received the TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in News and Information.

You are likely to see Emmy recognizing one of these programs… never.

For 30 years, the TCA Awards ceremony has proudly rewarded TV greatness where the Globes or the Emmys have come up short. There’s no red carpet at the ceremony, but there’s an open bar – and everybody feels free to relax, since TCA only invites the winners. This time around, however, past presidents showed up to the ceremony as well as a few previous winners.  But all in all the awards show goes quickly and the host keeps the audience in stitches. This year “Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s” Terry Crews played emcee, and Miss Piggy popped in to thrill the attendees by performing a duet with him. Really, any awards show that includes a cameo by Miss Piggy is a winner in my (admittedly biased) opinion.

Below is the full list of winners 2014 TCA Award recipients. To see photos from the event, check out our gallery for The 30th Annual TCA Awards.



TCA: Sons of Anarchy Sets Final Season Debut Date

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 17 July 2014 1:29 PM, PDT

FX has set a date for the beginning of “Sons of Anarchy’s” long last ride.  The biker drama’s seventh and final season will premiere at 10pm Tuesday, September 9 on FX with an extended one hour and 45 minute episode.

FX also announced that new series “Anarchy Afterword,” FX’s answer to fan analysis shows in the mold of AMC’s “Talking Dead,” will debut immediately following the “Sons of Anarchy’s” season premiere. FX’s post-show will be hosted by Chris Franjola and will air live twice this season: immediately following the season premiere and immediately after the series finale.

“Sons of Anarchy”, a drama that follows the lives and exploits of an outlaw biker gang set in the fictional town of Charming, California, enjoyed its largest audience during the sixth season. Last year it averaged 7.48 million total viewers, attracting a season average of 5.11 million adults in the key 18-49 age demographic, according to Nielsen ratings.

A Look at “The Divide” & a Q&A with Marin Ireland

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 16 July 2014 9:53 AM, PDT

No longer content to be known as the “Bridezillas” channel, WEtv is making a strong entry into the scripted content arena with “The Divide,” a suspenseful drama that deftly balances issues of race, class, and wrongful incarceration in modern day Philadelphia.

Anchored by a solid ensemble cast that includes Nia Long, Damon Gupton, Paul Schneider, and Marin Ireland, the eight-episode series, which premieres 9pm Wednesday on WEtv,  does not soften its approach to the complexities surrounding the personal and public politics of exonerating the wrongfully accused.

As the series opens, we see the passionate efforts of Christine Rose (Marin Ireland), a caseworker with an agency that works on behalf of the wrongfully convicted (based on the work done by The Innocence Project). Christine pushes to re-open a 12-year-old case that nearly pushed the city to the brink of racial unrest, because in her point of view, something doesn’t add up.

Considering that the case involves two white construction workers found guilty of murdering a rich African American family, leaving only their youngest child alive, many in the city would rather let the convictions stand. But the impending execution of one of the incarcerated men, Jared Bankowski (Chris Bauer), adds a level of urgency to Christine’s actions, and soon emotions are running high again

In her efforts to secure a stay of execution for Bankowski, Christine opens a number of old wounds that threaten her career and that of her boss, Clark (Schneider), not to mention her personal safety.

Christine’s actions also deeply affect the lives of a family she doesn’t even know, headed by District Attorney Adam Page (Gupton), the man who built his career on the controversial case, and his wife Billie (Long), a successful corporate attorney.

Although “The Divide” sets the table as a powerful character study, and its cast ably dives into the story’s intensity, it also cleverly hints at how interconnected these apparently disparate parts of the community are.

Written by Richard LaGravenese and co-created by Tony Goldwyn ,  who directed the two-hour series premiere, “The Divide” was originally a project under consideration for AMC before migrating to its sister channel WEtv – a fortunate turn of events for the drama. On WEtv, “The Divide” does not have to compete with any other big brand titles on the network marquee.

Now that “The Divide” is starting to get the attention of viewers, it’s a safe bet that Ireland will as well; “The Divide” represents her first lead role in a network series. We sat down with Ireland at the Television Critics Association’s Summer Press Tour to talk to her about the series.

This is your first starring role in a series, right?


You play Christine, who is an interesting character. There’s a lot of toughness in her, as well as fragility. But at the same time, a little bit of humor shines through. How does she evolve as the season moves forward?

Without giving too much away, what I’ll say is that there are some very big expectations that she has that really get dashed. She has to change her plan a few times, and I think that she’s the kind of person who is always trying to be in control of everything. … So a few things have to go wrong with that plan for her to learn. Some things have to colossally fail that only she is responsible for. Some plans that she has about her personal life have to fail before she can understand that she’s not the one who can control what’s going on with her life, either. … Her whole thing is, “I can do it. Just leave me alone and I can do it perfectly.”

There are a lot of people in this world like that.

Right? She’s also very afraid of intimacy, which is why it’s nice to me whenever we see her alone … She’s sort of this, like, kid. This is not a girl who was raised by normal parents. She was raised by wolves. So she does things that you don’t quite do if you were raised by adults who care about you. … And that’s the badge she carries out in front of her. But that’s such an immature feeling in the world. I look forward to people seeing that, over the season, things happen to her that are out of her control. And she has to learn how to deal with those things, and learn that sometimes trying to grab it tighter isn’t the solution.

How much did you know about organizations like The Innocence Project, which your character’s work is based upon?

Before I started, I only knew what I saw from Conviction, from Tony’s movie. Then, for our pilot two years ago, I watched this documentary After Innocence, and then I read the book Actual Innocence.  Then Paul and I met for a day at the Innocence Project and talked to everybody there, all the interns and all the lawyers. Then, when we went back to shoot the series, I was an intern at the Innocence Project for four to six weeks.

I was working closely with this one lawyer… who was great. I was working with him on one case in particular and a couple of smaller cases as they came up. I learned a lot about the kind of day-to-day aspects … and the thing that was really special about it is that when something amazing happens, a cheer goes up. Everybody starts cheering.

… I do remember that one of the interns, when I was getting really overwhelmed emotionally, just from reading trial transcripts about the crimes that happened, she said, “Oh yeah, in your first two weeks you gotta take a lot of walks around the block.” Because you can’t really bring it home and talk to your family and friends … It was a special place to learn about.

This is such an interesting show for WEtv. To do a show about race, class, and the growing socioeconomic divide in a large city is a really bold choice for a first scripted series.

And I think that is the most thrilling thing about this move over to WEtv. When [the pilot] was with AMC, and they were looking for something to bring WE into the world of AMC and Sundance…the great Cheryl Bloch, the VP of Scripted, she fell in love with this show. She felt it was perfect,  because they didn’t want it to feel like “Bridezillas”. They wanted it to be taken seriously. … And to be the first one, it is a big risky move that excites me, and I support that. Tony in particular was really excited because being the first has a great energy behind it, in terms of the way that we’ll be treated by the network.

It’s been a journey, from when we shot the pilot for AMC two years ago. But the cast is so strong, and we’ve all become so close as a result. And Richie and Tony are these pillars for us.

Were the any films or TV shows that you were watching that influenced your performance in “The Divide”?

Oh, there were big ones. One was The Central Park Five documentary, which was major…and again, After Innocence was huge, I re-watched that. But while I was doing the show, I binged like crazy on “Damages,” which I had never seen. When it was airing was the time when I didn’t have these bingeing capabilities that we do now…I remember watching it and saying, “This is so great, because you’ve got these strong women.”

That one is much more obviously a legal show, but there are also so many out-of-the-box ways of doing things. It also has that thriller aspect without being too over the top… so that was kind of fun.

…Also, I watched “Nurse Jackie”. I was so fascinated by thinking about… the beginning of this whole wave of television. I was watching a lot of the beginnings of shows, those big shows that started it all, “The Sopranos,” and “Six Feet Under”, I was watching a lot of those. Because, frankly, I’ve done arcs on things, but to be in on the ground level, I was having conversations with Richie and Tony about what it’s like to make something. I was reading that book Difficult Men that came out a year or two ago, about David Milch, and Matthew Weiner, and Vince Gilligan. I was interested finding out about how these things happened. And then I was dying to watch more Edie Falco, just watching how she was able to maintain such an anti-hero female character. How do you maintain that? So that was my version of on-the-job training.

ABC Sets Fall Premiere Dates

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 15 July 2014 12:09 PM, PDT


On Tuesday ABC revealed its fall premiere dates to reporters assembled at the 2014 Television Critics Association’s Summer Press Tour, currently underway in Los Angeles. ABC officially kicks off its 2014-2015 scripted line-up on Monday, September 22, with a sneak preview of new supernatural procedural “Forever“, starring Ioan Gruffudd as a 200-year-old doctor who cannot figure out why he can’t die. “Forever’s” officially airs Tuesdays at 10pm, a timeslot in which ABC has had problems finding success for some time now. The network is hoping that the audience for week two of “Dancing with the Stars” will sample “Forever” that Monday, and return to watch it on Tuesdays.

Among ABC’s most popular returning series, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” kicks off its second season at 9pm Tuesday, September 23, while executive producer Shonda Rhimes‘s Thursday night power block premieres Thursday, September 25 with new seasons of “Grey’s Anatomy” at 8pm and “Scandal” at 9pm, followed by the series premiere of the highly anticipated “How to Get Away with Murder“  at 10pm.

Keep reading for ABC’s full premiere schedule:

Monday, September 15

8pm “Dancing with the Stars” (Two-hour premiere)

 Monday, September, 22

10pm “Forever(Special Sneak Preview)

Tuesday, September 23

9pm “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

10pm Forever(Regular Time Period Premiere)


Wednesday, September 24

8pm:  “The Middle

8:30pm: “The Goldbergs

9pm: “Modern Family

9:30pm: “Black-ish

10pm: “Nashville



Thursday, September 25

8pm “Grey’s Anatomy

9pm “Scandal

10pm “How to Get Away with Murder


Friday, September 26

8pm “Shark Tank

10pm “20/20

Sunday, September 28

8pm: “Once Upon a Time

9pm: “Resurrection

10pm: “Revenge



Monday, September 29

10pm “Castle


Tuesday, September 30


8:30pmManhattan Love Story


Friday, October 3

8pm “Last Man Standing

9pm “Shark Tank” (Regular Time Period Premiere)


Sunday, October 5

7pm “America’s Funniest Home Videos


Friday, October 10

8:30pm  “Cristela



TCA: NBC’s “Constantine” Casts Angélica Celaya As New Female Lead

Posted by Melanie McFarland on 13 July 2014 3:56 PM, PDT

Following the departure of its female lead, “Constantine” has cast Angélica Celaya in the role of Zed, who will be introduced after the premiere episode. Celaya has previously appeared in a number of telenovelas in addition to guest appearances on series such as “Dallas” and “Burn Notice“.

Celaya replaces “Constantine’s” former co-star Lucy Griffiths, although Griffiths and her character, Liv, will remain in the pilot. News of Griffiths’ departure broke days before NBC was scheduled to bring “Constantine’s” cast and producers to the Television Critics Association’s Summer Press Tour, currently in progress in Los Angeles.

Casting changes occurring in the months between a pilot’s official pick-up to series and its premiere are not unusual. However, it’s a little strange for a central character to be introduced in a pilot only to be written out by episode two.  Often budget constraints are the true culprit, but as “Constantine” executive producer Daniel Cerone explained, Liv did not fit the direction in which they wanted the series to go. He added that the writers felt “hamstrung” by her story, which would have made Constantine more of a guide and mentor as opposed to an independent hero. In contrast, Zed’s story is well established in the universe of Hellblazer, the DC/Vertigo comic upon which “Constantine” is based: She is an ally to John Constantine, not to mention a former lover of  who possesses psychic powers.

Hellblazer fans have long desired to see John Constantine receive a treatment that holds closer to the spirit of the comic book than the previous cinematic treatment that starred Keanu Reeves. This is a concern of which executive producer David S. Goyer seems to be aware. In his point of view, disappearing Liv after the first episode is consistent with Constantine’s existence.  “His friends drop like flies,” Goyer said. “He’s this classic noir character who often ends up alone.”

Currently “Constantine” is scheduled to premiere 10pm Friday, October 24 on NBC.