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"Arthur" (1996) More at IMDbPro »


2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2003

6 items from 2016


PBS’ ‘Odd Squad’ Prepares for Toughest Mission Yet: A Cast Shake-Up

15 June 2016 6:00 AM, PDT | Variety - TV News | See recent Variety - TV News news »

When a show has a name like “Odd Squad,” viewers might expect to see unusual creatures and gadgets that bend the laws of science – all part of a live-action program that follows a team of kids who solve problems related to math and geometry while battling strange menaces. In a few days, fans of the series will see something even more off kilter.

The series’ two main cast members, hard-bitten Agent Olive and fun-loving Agent Otto,  will not check in for duty when the PBS Kids program returns for a second season June 20. It’s an eyebrow-raising technique to put in play on a network whose crop of stars changes very little from year to year. In the world of kids’ TV, where animation is a favored format, “Odd Squad” producers feel the series shake-up will keep things interesting for viewers and writers alike.

“It’s a new way to breathe life and get the writers excited,” said Tim McKeon, who co-created the show with Adam Peltzman. The duo face an unusual challenge: Unlike PBS Kids regulars like Curious George and Arthur, their cast can quickly age out of their roles. “These kids are going to grow up, and we want ‘Odd Squad’ to be a kid-run organization, not a teenage-run organization,” McKeon added.

The farewell to Agents Otto and Olive – played by Filip Geljo and Dalila Bela – probably won’t be as seismic as when Steve Burns parted ways with Nick Jr.’s “Blue’s Clues” in 2002,  but it adds new twists to a program already filled with them. “Odd Squad” isn’t your typical kids’ series. Each episode is graced with little touches that reflect the likes of a generation accustomed to “snacking” its way through YouTube shows and Vine videos. In one first-season episode, Olive and Otto are turned into puppets. In another, innocent townspeople are suddenly decked in plaid or stripes. A third episode boasts a hard-to-forget ditty about an agent who loves potatoes.

“Every new agent is another entry point, and kind of dovetails with a feeling about the show we’ve always tried to get across, which is a wish-fulfillment piece,” said Peltzman. “Any kid can potentially be an Odd Squad agent.”

That element is key to the series’ rise at PBS Kids, said Lesli Rotenberg, senior vice president and general manger of children’s media and education at PBS. “It’s really gaining a lot of traction,” she said, and its live-action format and diverse cast allows kids to see themselves in the cases the agents solve, whereas an animated series might not always ring so true. “It doesn’t have one star. It’s about collaborating, and we know humor is evergreen,” she said in an interview. “It’s really in step with kids today.” PBS said the show has reached 10 million kids in the past year and was streamed more than 600 million times on digital platforms.

Viewers will get a chance to meet more new recruits. Oscar, the bespectacled gadget-maker (if Otto and Olive are James Bonds, then Oscar is Q) is set to leave the series after a few new episodes. In his place: Oona, a female expert on the tools of the trade.  Two new agents, Olympia and Otis,played, respectively, by Anna Cathcart and Isaac Kragten,will join the team. Ms. O, the temperamental spy chief played by Millie Davis (pictured, above), will remain on the show. Coincidentally, she was the youngest of the series’ original four principals.

The series’ ability to adapt to the entrance of new agents puts it in interesting company. “Doctor Who” continues to attract legions of fans even though its central character, an alien time-traveler known as The Doctor, has changed its form multiple times over the years. The story device allows the show to use new actors every few years, keeping audiences chatting.  If PBS Kids wants more live-action series, the idea may be one to keep in mind: The network typically makes a heavy first season order –“Odd Squad’s” first production cycle contained 40 episodes –  then spends up to two years releasing the episodes before approving a shorter second-season run. By the time a new season comes around, child actors may look significantly older than their last appearance in a role.

Fans should not despair. New favorites and old will meet on August 1st in “Odd Squad: The Movie,” which will show Olive and Otto teaming up with Olympia and Otis to tackle a new threat known as the Weird Team. Jack McBrayer, known for “30 Rock,” and Hannah Simone of “New Girl” will appear in the project.

The series’ penchant for the bizarre masks one of its primary backers. “Odd Squad” is produced by the Fred Rogers Company, the organization responsible for “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” one of the most calm and least frenzied programs in the history of television. Underneath all the weird antics, said Paul Siefken, the company’s vice president of broadcast and digital media, are educational exercises that reflect new ways kids are learning math. “Here are cases that need to be solved, and you use your partner’s’ help as well as other kids in the agency to get to the solution,” he said.

Just as the cast is set to evolve, so too could the “Odd Squad” format. If the co-creators had their way, they would love to open new “Odd Squads” to tackle other educational challenges, like animals or science. “We look at shows like ‘Law & Order’ and all the ‘CSI’s’ and “NCIS’s’ and all of the spin-offs,” said McKeon. “We would totally go for that.” If you think that sounds odd, you haven’t been watching the show

»

- Brian Steinberg

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8 amazing British sci-fi novels of the 1950s

11 April 2016 10:33 AM, PDT | Den of Geek | See recent Den of Geek news »

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From Brian Aldiss to Arthur C Clarke, 1950s Britain was rich in fantastic science-fiction novels. Here are 8 of the best...

It seems that every few years somebody announces science fiction is dead. In 2007 it was the turn of Ridley Scott, who then went on to make The Martian, so perhaps these claims should always be taken with a pinch of salt, particularly when we look back over the history of Sf writing over the years and find that it is a genre that is as much defined by current events than by any singular vision of the future.

For that reason, British science fiction in the 1950s was incredible stuff. Anxiety over the powers scientists had unleashed after the dropping the atomic bomb at the end of World War II obsessed many novelists, but so did a sense of despondency at poverty and suffering within a community »

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‘Still Alice,’ ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,’ ‘Orange Is the New Black’ and ‘The Middle’ Win Humanitas Prize Honors

12 February 2016 2:18 PM, PST | Variety - TV News | See recent Variety - TV News news »

Still Alice,” “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” “Orange is the New Black” and “The Middle” won the top prizes Thursday at the 41st annual Humanitas Prize awards.

Still Alice” screenwriters Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer topped the feature film category, while “Me and Earl and the Dying Girls’s” Jesse Andrews nabbed the Sundance feature film prize. Jim Danger Gray and Jenji Kohan of Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” and DeAnn Heline and Eileen Heisler of ABC’s “The Middle” scored top TV hour and half-hour wins.

The $225,000 in prize money was divvied between a total of 21 film and TV writers, whose programs “entertain, engage and enrich the viewing public.”

“We are so proud and honored to add this year’s Humanitas Prize winners to the long list of writers whose work has both entertained and inspired us for the past four decades,” said Humanitas executive director Cathleen Young. »

- Alyssa Sage

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Netflix, ABC Score Multiple Humanitas Prize Nominations

7 January 2016 11:30 AM, PST | Variety - TV News | See recent Variety - TV News news »

The finalists for the 41st Annual Humanitas Prize were announced today, with the nominees encompassing television and film writers whose work “explores the human experience in a way that both entertains and enlightens.”

Thirty-eight writers were named finalists in ten categories. They will be competing for $225,000 in prize money during the gala held on Feb. 11.

Among those nominated on the film side are Wash Westmoreland & Richard Glatzer for “Still Alice,” Jesse Andrews for “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” and Laura Poitras for the documentary “Citizenfour.” TV series recognized include “Orange is the New Black,” “The Affair,” “Madam Secretary,” “Blackish,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “The Middle.

Presenters include Jane Anderson, Jenny Bicks, Liz Brixius, Cindy Chupack, Misan Sagay, Janine Sherman-Barrios and Pier Carlo Talenti.

“Good writing gets big actors attached, gets executives to give the green light, and keeps the audience tuning in week after week,” President Ali LeRoi said. »

- Jacob Bryant

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Netflix, ABC Score Multiple Humanitas Prize Nominations

7 January 2016 11:30 AM, PST | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

The finalists for the 41st Annual Humanitas Prize were announced today, with the nominees encompassing television and film writers whose work “explores the human experience in a way that both entertains and enlightens.”

Thirty-eight writers were named finalists in ten categories. They will be competing for $225,000 in prize money during the gala held on Feb. 11.

Among those nominated on the film side are Wash Westmoreland & Richard Glatzer for “Still Alice,” Jesse Andrews for “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” and Laura Poitras for the documentary “Citizenfour.” TV series recognized include “Orange is the New Black,” “The Affair,” “Madam Secretary,” “Blackish,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “The Middle.

Presenters include Jane Anderson, Jenny Bicks, Liz Brixius, Cindy Chupack, Misan Sagay, Janine Sherman-Barrios and Pier Carlo Talenti.

“Good writing gets big actors attached, gets executives to give the green light, and keeps the audience tuning in week after week,” President Ali LeRoi said. »

- Jacob Bryant

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8 original sci-fi films to look forward to in 2016

4 January 2016 9:25 AM, PST | Den of Geek | See recent Den of Geek news »

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Among the sequels and reboots, there are also some exciting-looking original sci-fi films to look forward to in 2016. And here they are...

Did you see Coherence? Or maybe Predestination? They’re but two examples of relatively low-budget, original genre films that were both beautifully made and endlessly watchable. What they lacked in expensive special effects they more than made up for in mesmerising concepts and superb performances, whether it was from a cast of relative unknowns in Coherence or the perfect pairing of Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook in Predestination.

Only time will tell whether 2016 will play host to films as good as those, but we have to say, there are some potentially great sci-fi films on the horizon this year. Some have generous budgets and top-line casts, others are independently produced. For different reasons, all look well worth keeping an eye on...

Passengers

Even in the distant future, »

- ryanlambie

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2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2003

6 items from 2016


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