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October 23, 2014

Fall TV

Whoops! Changing My Tune on Fall's 'Best' and 'Worst' New Shows

by Maureen Ryan, posted Nov 23rd 2011 10:00AM
Reviewing television isn't like reviewing any other form of entertainment: Every show on the air is a work in progress and can go from good to bad (and vice versa) in a matter of weeks.

Assessing debut episodes is especially tricky, given that they have so much to accomplish and not a lot of time for all that set-up. Still, earlier this year, I felt confident enough about what I'd seen to make lists of the season's most promising and least promising new shows.

Did those judgments hold up? Did those shows fall on their faces after promising debuts, or get a lot better after wobbly pilots? Both things happened, as you might have guessed.

Below, I take a second look 'Grimm,' 'Ringer' and 'Once Upon a Time,' in addition to several other new shows, and I pay special attention to the ABC comedy 'Suburgatory,' the most improved program of fall's freshman class.

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'Dexter' Season 6, Episode 7 Recap: Road Trip to 'Nebraska' (VIDEO)

by Alex Moaba, posted Nov 13th 2011 11:45PM
Dexter and Brian went on reunion road-trip to in this episode, but 'Nebraska' was less about brotherly bonding and more about Dexter on the brink. With the ghost of his brother Brian, otherwise known as the Ice Truck Killer, acting as the devil on his shoulder, urging him to embrace his darkest instincts, we saw just how easily our dutiful serial killer of serial killers can devolve into an unhinged vigilante on a killing spree.

It was jarring how unstable Dexter seemed in this episode. Hearing voices in his head, he abruptly left his son, job and relatively stable life to drive across state-lines to avenge the double-murder of the wife and daughter of a man he himself killed, the Trinity Killer. Oh what a tangled web we weave when the Ice Truck, Trinity, and Doomsday Killers play crucial roles in the same 'Dexter' episode.

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'Dexter' Season 6, Episode 6 Recap: 'Just Let Go'

by Alex Moaba, posted Nov 6th 2011 10:15PM
First off, let me apologize for whiffing on a key plot-point in last week's recap, in which I wrote that Mos Def's Brother Sam character had been killed. I missed the 'Next week on 'Dexter...'" tease, where they revealed he would improbably live long enough to have a cathartic deathbed conversation with Dexter. As it turns out, Sam didn't die in the shooting, and opened 'Just Let Go' in intensive care after being shot three times. Sadly, he passed away in this episode, but not before making one last-ditch attempt to save his friend Dexter's soul.

'Just Let Go' was sad on several levels, and not just because we lost a character who was a source of wisdom and strength for Dexter. After Sam's death, Dexter was faced with a crucial turning point in his constant struggle between darkness and light. I don't know why I was disappointed that he chose the darkness, drowning Sam's killer Nick even after Sam begged him to forgive him. But it was a sobering reminder that our hero is also a murderous sociopath, just like Professor Gellar and the others he's obsessed with.

Then again, avenging the murder of his best friend, even if it was against his wishes, grounded the episode solidly in the gray area of moral ambiguity that 'Dexter' thrives in.

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'Once Upon a Time' Season 1, Episode 3 Recap

by Laura Prudom, posted Nov 6th 2011 9:30PM
Prince Charming and Snow White['Once Upon a Time' - 'Snow Falls']

For the hopeless romantics among us -- myself included -- tonight's episode of 'Once Upon a Time' was like a dream come true. We've grown up with stories of happily ever after and love at first sight, and 'OUAT' is at its most potent when it plays on those whimsical childhood memories, taking us back to a time when we truly believed that our soulmate was out there somewhere, just the other side of an evil witch's curse.

But, as the series has already demonstrated in its first two episodes, it's also surprisingly adept at taking the fairytales we know and love and turning them on their heads. Few who saw the Disney iteration of Snow White could possibly have imagined her as rock-wielding thief with decidedly messy hair, but 'Once' presented the idea so confidently, I couldn't help but prefer their version. (Snow White was always my least favorite Disney princess, anyway -- that voice was just too grating.)

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What to Watch: TV Picks for November 7-13

by Laura Prudom, posted Nov 6th 2011 2:00PM
Blair and ChuckMONDAY, NOVEMBER 7

'Gossip Girl' (8PM ET, The CW)

Blair makes all of her former minions and Charlie compete to secure the coveted bridesmaid spots in her upcoming royal wedding. Nate is tired of keeping his relationship with Diana a secret, so he decides to use Charlie to make Diana jealous. Serena's boss (guest star Michael Michele) is determined to acquire the film rights to Dan's book, so Serena must put her personal feelings about Dan and the book aside in order to close the deal.

'The Bad Girls Club' (9PM ET, Oxygen)
one-hour special presentation
Perez Hilton hosts the first of a two-part reunion special, wherein the bad girls reminisce about season 7.

'Castle' (10PM ET, ABC)
During the investigation of the murder of an Atlantic City casino owner at an abandoned warehouse, strong leads emerge for the team in both New York and Atlantic City. As Beckett and Capt. Gates work the New York leads together, Castle naturally chooses to join the detectives for the road trip to "America's Playground," hoping to help solve the case while throwing an impromptu bachelor party for Ryan.

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'Nikita' Season 2, Episode 7 Recap

by Laura Prudom, posted Nov 4th 2011 11:45PM
Nikita and Gaines['Nikita' - 'Clawback']

It feels a little like critical laziness when I find myself heaping praise on 'Nikita' week after week, but I'm not being hyperbolic when I say that 'Clawback' may have just replaced last season's Kasim episodes as my favorite of the series to date.

The plot was densely packed and yet maintained an energetic pace that kept me guessing, and the episode was replete with important character development to drive the emotional story forward right alongside the narrative.

And as for that twist ... midway through the episode, I wanted to hurl my laptop across the room in outrage, before the eleventh-hour reveal had me thanking the capricious televisual gods for their mercy.

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ABC Gives 'Once Upon a Time,' 'Last Man Standing' & 'Happy Endings' Full Season Orders

by Laura Prudom, posted Nov 4th 2011 7:15AM
Snow White and Prince CharmingThe fall has been kind to ABC; after recent full season orders for 'Revenge' and 'Suburgatory,' the Alphabet network is doubling down with pickups for two more of their freshman series, fantasy drama 'Once Upon a Time' and Tim Allen's 'Last Man Standing.'

Though 'Once' has only aired two episodes so far, it's already the highest-rated new drama of the season, managing an average 12.3 million viewers and a robust 4.0 rating in the coveted adults 18-49 demo. Allen's male-skewing comedy has seen some audience erosion since its premiere, but it's still performing well on Tuesday nights (12.7 million and a 3.7 demo), where ABC had previously struggled to make an impact.

Sophomore comedy 'Happy Endings' has seen series-high ratings in recent weeks, and finally seems to be catching on with viewers in its post-'Modern Family' slot, which has earned it a full 22 episodes. (Ah-mah-zing!)

Bad news for 'Pan Am' and 'Man Up' though ...

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'The X Factor' Top 12 Recap: Who Was Eliminated? (VIDEO)

by Laura Prudom, posted Nov 3rd 2011 9:05PM
The X Factor Judges'The X Factor' just got real.

After weeks of pre-taped auditions and having to abide by the judges' (sometimes questionable) decisions in regards to which acts progressed to the next round, America finally had the chance to weigh in on the top 12 performers.

Since we all know that results shows are 95 percent filler and five percent useful information, let's skip the formalities (except to say that Astro forgot his lyrics and LeRoy Bell was blatantly lip syncing in the opening medley) and get straight to the good stuff.

The first act to be eliminated by America's vote was ...

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'The X Factor' Recap: The Top 12 Perform

by Laura Prudom, posted Nov 3rd 2011 12:15AM
The X Factor JudgesAfter weeks spent shaking our heads at the judges' questionable contestant choices, the power is finally in America's hands this week, with the Top 12 'X Factor' finalists competing for your votes to remain in the competition. And, since the show was officially renewed for a second season earlier today, expect to see a whole lot more of those questionable contestant choices to come.

We got a taste of the production value and format last week, but that was just a dry run, and this week, a mediocre performance could score any act a one-way ticket back home.

Which acts brought their A-game and which were content to coast on audience goodwill in the first week of voting? Will Stacy Francis' negative press affect her chances, or are audiences more likely to target Astro for being the only rapper in a singing contest?

Join us after the jump for our verdict.

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Fall TV: A Mid-Season Report

by Stephanie Earp, posted Nov 1st 2011 11:47AM


It's always tempting at this time of year to look for patterns where perhaps none exist. With four confirmed cancellations ('Charlie's Angels,' 'The Playboy Club,' 'How to be a Gentleman' and 'Free Agents') and several on-the-bubble new shows ('Pan Am,' 'Prime Suspect,' 'Body of Proof'), the only real theme (besides being awful) is a tendency to take themselves too seriously. I do take some satisfaction from seeing all the nostalgia shows die an early death. Apparently the one thing 'The Playboy Club' team didn't look up about 'Mad Men' were the ratings -- a couple million viewers. It was also the only thing they were able to duplicate.

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'New Girl' is Back! Catch Up on Season 1 Here

by Chris Harnick, posted Oct 31st 2011 4:00PM
New GirlDid you miss the boat on 'New Girl,' one of this fall's best new shows? Don't worry, there were only three episodes and you can watch them below!

The show returns to Fox (Tues., Nov. 1, 9PM ET) after about a month-long hiatus thanks to baseball, but it's not too late to hop on Zooey Deschanel's adorkable train.

Deschanel stars as Jess Day, a quirky school teacher who moves in with three men after she catches her boyfriend cheating on her. Max Greenfield, Hannah Simone, Jake M. Johnson and Lamorne Morris also star.

Watch the first three episodes below.

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Q&A: Whatever You Do, Don't Offer 'Boardwalk Empire' Star Michael Shannon a Shot of Whiskey

by Alex Moaba, posted Oct 31st 2011 12:20PM
Michael Shannon's intense portrayal of the frightening, puritanical Prohibition agent Nelson Van Alden on 'Boardwalk Empire' reached a dramatic apex in Sunday night's 'Age of Reason' episode. Thrust into a state of anguish and guilt over an agent he thinks has been burned to pay for his sins, Van Alden watches his web of lies unravel as his wife discovers the twisted game of house he's been playing with Lucy.

We talked to Michael Shannon about the difficulty of playing such a deathly serious character and discussed whether the jig is up for Van Alden in Atlantic City. Shannon revealed that his biggest challenge as Val Alden wasn't whipping himself or drowning Agent Sebso but downing a shot of whiskey. The Academy Award-nominated actor also divulged his personal beverage of choice (yes, it contains alcohol) and shared the key to ID'ing Van Alden as the father of Lucy's baby. Read on for the full interview!

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'The Walking Dead' Season 2, Episode 3 Recap

by Mike Ryan, posted Oct 31st 2011 12:00PM
The Walking Dead RecapPoor Otis. Before we even begin to delve into Shane's actions to end the episode, there's something else that's been bugging me for now two episodes. Near the middle of last night's episode, when Shane returns to the house with the medical supplies, after explaining that Otis didn't make it (before we knew exactly why Otis didn't make it back), Rick tries to comfort the rest of the group by saying that Otis, "wanted to make it right." Make it right? This pisses me off.

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'Once Upon a Time' Season 1, Episode 2 Recap

by Laura Prudom, posted Oct 31st 2011 10:30AM
Lana Parrilla and Jennifer Morrison['Once Upon a Time' - 'The Thing You Love Most']

The effects might be a little messy and the sentiment might seem a little saccharine, but in its second episode, 'Once Upon a Time' continued to build on the whimsy and charm it exhibited in its pilot, proving that the entertaining first hour wasn't just a fluke.

Now that the premise has been established, the show is taking on the 'Lost'-esque formula of focusing on a specific character and their backstory each week, allowing us to learn more about their fairytale pasts and how those traits inform their current Storybrooke identities.

The Evil Queen took the central narrative this week, giving us some much-needed insight into her motivations for cursing the fairytale world, while simultaneously exploring Regina's relationship with her adopted son Henry in ours.

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'Dexter' Season 6, Episode 5 Recap: 'Angel of Death' (VIDEO)

by Alex Moaba, posted Oct 31st 2011 12:30AM
Earlier in the season, I found myself getting frustrated about the pacing of Season 6 of 'Dexter,' but 'Angel of Death' was the kind of stellar, fast-paced episode that Dexter can deliver when it's clicking on all cylinders. It covered a lot of ground and didn't waste any time. Dexter stacked clues in pursuit of Professor Gellar, but -- as has often happened to our morally ambiguous anti-hero -- lost someone close to him in the process.

As per usual, Dexter's off-the-books investigations found him several steps ahead of his colleagues in Miami Metro, the ones conducting the legitimate, lawful detective work. Dexter tracked Travis from outside the greenhouse crime-scene, connected dots from glue used in one of the horse's sheets and tracked him from there. He eventually staked out his car, ambushed him with the "wire around the neck from the backseat" trick, but concluded he was only a pawn in Gellar's game and kept him alive to get closer to the twisted Professor.

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