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Groundhog Night: The 66th Primetime Emmys

July 13th, 2015 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in Emmy Awards | Live Coverage - (Comments Off)

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.

 

“iZombie” Renewed for Season Two

May 6th, 2015 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in The CW - (Comments Off)


Here’s some delicious news: A week ahead of its official upfront presentation in New York, The CW has renewed  “iZombie” for a second season. That makes “iZombie” the latest addition to a long list of early renewals for The CW, which re-upped most of its current primetime schedule months ago.

Created by Diane Ruggiero  and Rob Thomas, the man who gave us “Veronica Mars,” “iZombie” stars Rose McIver as Olivia Moore, a medical resident who throws away her promising career after becoming a zombie.  Liv gets a job as a coroner to enjoy the easy access to brains, the eating of which allows her to retain her human qualities. But along the way she discovers that the grey matter she consumes also gives her temporary access to the memories and abilities of the deceased…which enables her to help the cops solve crimes.

Preposterous as the concept may sound, enough viewers bit to inspire The CW to stick with the show — for which we are grateful. Granted, “iZombie” is not a runaway hit on par with “Arrow” and “The Flash,” but it is a critical darling and among the network’s most-watched shows.

“iZombie” also stars David Anders, Robert Buckley, Malcolm Goodwin, Rahul Kohli and Aly Michalka.


The atmosphere hanging over London as season two of Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful” begins is not heavy with horror, or despair; rather, it’s loneliness that clouds the air. Loneliness haunts its streets and parks. It drags down Miss Vanessa Ives’ beautiful face as she comes to realize, in the aftermath of season one’s lost battle to save her best friend, that instead of ridding herself of the darkness, she’s somehow been pulled closer to its center.

Loneliness threatens the very life of Victor Frankenstein as his creation grows more desperate for some connection to another soul, or lacking that, some body. It offers Ethan Chandler a solution against the danger he harbors inside his own skin, and creates a vulnerability in Sir Malcolm Murray’s armor.

That’s the subtle trick of Showtime’s gorgeous horror piece, as loyal viewers of the first season soon discovered. “Penny Dreadful” is far less about the blood, gore and the specter of gruesome death than the sharp pain and exhilarating pleasure of living, and the terror of feeling alone even in close company.

“Penny Dreadful’s” creator and executive producer John Logan has transformed our idea of the typical Gothic tale populated with demons and the undead into a broader, heartfelt story about family, both the ones we’re born into – and, in very specific ways, fail – and the ones we create.

True, there is goriness… and a lot of it. More prominent, however, is the beauty of “Penny Dreadful’s” world. Decadent set design and costuming make the show a perfect visual dessert on Sunday nights, but the hook is in the subtlety of Logan’s writing, and the soulfulness he lends to each of his characters.

Vanessa Ives (Eva Green), Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton) and Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) are damaged people clinging to one another for comfort against the chilly darkness, each running from crimes against their own bloodlines. Each also remains desperate to exorcise the evils within, whether tangible or imagined, as the story resumes. For Chandler, that desperation has real world consequences, as he awakens from the season finale’s blackout as a wanted man.

But lurking in the shadows is an even greater danger to Ives and company than a few vampires: the mysterious Evelyn Poole, aka Madame Kali, played by Helen McCrory.

We only met McCrory’s character as Madame Kali for a few moments during season one. But it was always Logan’s plan to prominently integrate the actress into the tale, and we’re glad he’s done so. McCrory makes Ms. Poole magnetic and dangerous, the kind of woman that is interesting to be around even if truly knowing her could kill you.

Logan could not have written a better nemesis for Vanessa Ives than Miss Poole. Though McCrory and Green do not share any significant exchanges as the second season begins, one sequence shows how well their talents are matched, as Poole writhes and growls praises to the devil in her luxurious home while elsewhere, inside a sparely appointed bedroom, Ives desperately shudders on her knees, pleading in Latin to a heaven that doesn’t appear to be hearing her. Vanessa Ives is in for a wretched journey this season.

Potentially just as interesting is the quandary that Sir Malcolm’s medical consultant Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) finds himself in by making a new creation out of Ethan’s dying lover Brona Croft (Billie Piper), as a mate for his Creature (Rory Kinnear). That obviously is due to cause conflict between Victor, Ethan and The Creature, but tossing a more interesting twist into the mix is the unpredictability of Victor’s emotional ties to both his creations.

The secondary story of The Creature’s struggle to be in the world stood apart from the main tale of Sir Malcolm, Miss Ives and Chandler during the first season, but season two connects the plots more closely. The Creature is an angry soul, but also poetic, sensitive and, yes, lonely. Brona’s return to the story in a new form not only sets up the inevitable crossing of paths with Ethan but a clash of wills. Does “creating” a life also give a person the ability to shape and channel said creation’s will? The answer lies in the viewing.

With “Penny Dreadful,” that’s a simple proposition, pervasive loneliness and all. The frights are real, and the gore can be shocking, but the more profound seduction is the emotional connection these characters make with their audience. They battle the darkness and each other. They claw and bleed, and our hearts go out to them every week, bringing us back for more.

Penny Dreadfulpremieres at 10pm Sunday, May 3, on Showtime.

“Daredevil” Renewed for Season Two

April 21st, 2015 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)


A week and a half after its premiere, Netflix has renewed “Daredevil” for a 13-episode second season. The action drama’s sophomore run will helmed by new showrunners Douglas Petrie and Marco Ramirez , who will be stepping in for departing executive producer Steven S. DeKnight.

“Daredevil’s” success means Netflix’s planned launch of four different TV series based on Marvel characters is on track.  Coming in the future are dramas that will focus on the adventures of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, all of whom will join Daredevil in an event series about the superhero team known as “The Defenders.”

Created by The Sinister Six‘s director Drew Goddard and based on the classic Marvel comic book series, “Daredevil” follows the crusades of blind lawyer Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), who secretly fights crime as a masked vigilante at night, protecting those who live in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen.

“Daredevil also stars Vincent D’Onofrio as Murdock’s nemesis Wilson Fisk, as well as Deborah Ann Woll, Rosario Dawson, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Elden Henson, Scott Glenn, Toby Leonard Moore and Ayelet Zurer.

“Fargo,” “Inside Amy Schumer,” “Jane the Virgin” Win Peabody Awards

April 16th, 2015 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in Uncategorized - (Comments Off)


 

The George Foster Peabody Awards always presents a diverse mixture of honorees, and the entertainment winners who will be celebrated at the 74th  annual awards ceremony in New York this May are no exception. Joining FX’s “Fargo” and “The Americans” in the winners circle are Comedy Central’s “Inside Amy Schumer“; HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver“; The CW’s “Jane the Virgin” (which has now netted the channel two major TV awards within its first season); SundanceTV’s “Rectify“; BBC’s “The Honorable Woman“;  Cinemax’s “The Knick“; and “Black Mirror” from the UK’s Channel 4.

The 18-member Peabody Board has always taken pride at being ahead of the curve when it comes to recognizing the best of the best in electronic media, be it radio, Internet-based or on television.* As such, each year’s eclectic selection of victors includes a number of TV series that may never get within sniffing distance of the Emmys (Miss Schumer, we’re looking in your direction…but with fondness) as well as a few that certainly will.

News and radio winners will be announced on Monday, April 20 on the official Peabody website, while recipients in the areas of documentary, public service, education, and children’s programming will be revealed on Thursday, April 23.

These winners will be honored at the 74th annual Peabody Awards gala on Sunday, May 31, which marks the first time the Peabody ceremony will be held at night, and as a red carpet event. Previous Peabody honoree Fred Armisen will host the event, which will be broadcast June 21 on Pivot TV.

The Peabody Awards, based at University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, are the oldest and one of the most selective prizes in electronic media, recognizing the finest work by radio and television stations, networks, webcasters, podcasters, producing organizations and individuals.

Keep reading for the written descriptions of each winner, taken from the University’s press release.

74th Peabodys — The Short Citations for Entertainment Winners

The Americans (FX)

Fox Television Studios and FX Productions

In this ingenious, addictive cliffhanger, Reagan-era Soviet spies – married with children and a seemingly endless supply of wigs — operate out of a lovely 3BR home in a suburb of Washington, D.C.  Between their nail-biter missions (and sometimes in the midst of them), the series contemplates duty, honor, parental responsibility, fidelity, both nationalistic and marital, and what it means to be an American.

 

Black Mirror (Channel 4)

Zeppotron/Channel 4
This cinematically arresting, brilliantly written series from England is an anthology of dark-side tales – dark as a black hole. If its narrative shocks don’t wreck your sleep pattern, its moral conundrums will.

 

Fargo (FX)

MGM and FX Productions

“Fargo,” the series, boasts the same snow-swept backdrop and dark, deadpan ambience as the Oscar-winning movie but tells a different, more complicated story. Its villain, Billy Bob Thornton’s mischievous, murderous, charismatic Lorne Malvo, is a character worthy of Norse mythology.

 

The Honorable Woman (Sundance TV)

BBC Worldwide, Drama Republic, Eight Rooks Productions, Sundance Channel

A visually rich, densely-plotted thriller set against the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestine conflict, it suggests complexities and age-old vendettas that often escape even the best documentaries, to say nothing of the evening news.

 

Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)

Jax Media LLC

Schumer’s wholesome, disarming “Brady Bunch” looks belie and enhance a comic intelligence that’s smart, distinctively female and amiably profane, whether she’s applying it to sketch comedy, stand-up, or person-on-the-street interviews.

 

Jane the Virgin (The CW)

Eye Productions Inc., CBS Television Studios Inc., Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Electus; RCTV; Poppy Productions.

Immaculately conceived, it’s a smart, self-aware telenovela that knows when and how to wink at itself. Its Latina lead, Gina Rodriguez, is incandescent.

The Knick (Cinemax)

Cinemax Entertainment in association with Ambeg Productions, Anonymous Contend and Extension 765

Graphic, gripping, unapologetically grisly when it has to be, this lavish historical drama masterfully dissects surgical experimentation, doctors’ egos, race relations and socials mores in the New York City of 100 years ago.  It gives new meaning to the term “operating theater.”

 

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

HBO Entertainment in association with Sixteen String Jack Productions and Avalon Television

A most worthy addition to the news-as-comedy genre, “Last Week Tonight” doesn’t just satirize the previous week’s news, it engages in fresh, feisty investigative reports that “real” news programs would do well to emulate.

Rectify (Sundance TV)
Gran Via Productions, Zip Works

A powerful, subtle dramatic series about a death-row inmate freed after nearly two decades thanks to new DNA evidence, it ponders whether what’s been lost can ever be repaid, not just to him but to everyone he and his alleged crimes touched.

*Full disclosure: IMDb TV Editor Melanie McFarland is a Peabody Board emeritus.

IMDbTV Pick: BBC America’s “Orphan Black”

April 15th, 2015 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)


Orphan Black‘s” third season premiere opens in the midst of a sunny reunion, as four sisters — Sarah Manning, Helena, Cosima Niehaus and Alison Hendrix — gather to celebrate a milestone.  Most noteworthy about these siblings is how distinct they are from one another. Each moves in a different way. Each has a dissimilar accent, each her own unique personality. They’re so unlike each other that an outsider might mistake them for being friends as opposed to family… except for the fact that they share exactly the same DNA and the same face, belonging to the actress who portrays all of them: Tatiana Maslany.

Many a TV series has featured twins, clones, doppelgangers and the like. None could boast of having a cast as multifaceted as Maslany to carry the story. This is a woman who inhabits her various characters so completely that she can even pull off having one of her clones masquerade as another.  In Saturday’s premiere, there’s even a scene where she plays a clone disguised as one of her sisters, while facing down another sister clone who also is disguised as a yet another version of herself. Confusing? On paper, sure. But Maslany makes it  looks astoundingly effortless. It’s a tense, terrific scene even without this feat of acting acrobatics, but such detail on top of the wickedly bizarre storyline just takes everything up a level.

There’s too much going on in “Orphan Black” to catch a person up in a few short sentences, but all you really need to know is that in season two, the ladies we once referred to as the Clone Club discovered that their existence stems from a mysterious operation known as Project Leda, which is part of a much larger conspiracy still revealing itself. Season three adds a new wrinkle to the tale in the form of male clone counterparts, collectively known as Project Castor, all played by Ari Millen.  The Castor clones are violent and methodical, driven to hunt Sarah and her sisters, and they’re all part of the same crazy, lab-created extended brood.  Perhaps it’s worth mentioning that in Greek legend, Leda had two children by Zeus, one being Helen of Troy, and two by her human husband — one of them named Castor. In a series fond of mixing science fiction with intricately serialized mythology, this nugget could mean absolutely nothing, or everything. In any case, “Orphan Black” loves to redefine our idea of what a dysfunctional TV family can be, doesn’t it?

What’s abundantly clear is that the amped up action from season two is set to become even more heightened in these new episodes. In short order the various Castor clones demonstrate how driven and remorseless they are and, regrettably, how much catching up Millen has to do with Maslany in terms of showing off his dramatic flexibility. Aside from a few differences between the Castors — one has a pervy ‘stache! Another, red Xes over his eyes! — you never forget that it’s the same guy behind all of them. Perhaps that’s intentional, but it makes watching these new clones a little less of a treat.

“Orphan Black” is one of those shows that people loved discovering in season one before converting others into fans in the second season. Now that we’re in season three… well, to be honest, Maslany still isn’t one of the most widely recognized stars in television. But enough people know enough about the tremendous work that she’s doing on this show to get incensed on her behalf when she gets snubbed on Emmy nominations morning.

Those who still haven’t been initiated into “Orphan’s” growing following will have ample opportunity to catch up this weekend. On Friday, Amazon is making the entire first season available to stream for free in the U.S. starting at midnight PT and ending at 11:59PT, on Amazon Instant Video apps for TVs, on the web, and via mobile and connected devices.

Additionally, IFC is marathoning the first two seasons of “Orphan Black” beginning at midnight on Friday, running episodes back-to-back for 21 hours.

Season three of “Orphan Black” premieres at 9pm Saturday, April 18 on BBC America. In keeping with the sister act theme, the premiere also airs at the same time on AMC, IFC, SundanceTV and WeTV.

 

“True Detective” Gets a Premiere Date

April 9th, 2015 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in HBO | True Detective - (Comments Off)


We’ve been waiting so long for significant details about season two of “True Detective” that HBO’s release today, which includes the first trailer, four photos and a premiere date of 9pm Sunday, June 21, made us want to collapse on a fainting couch and light up a Morley.

Mind you, the trailer is just a tease. But the glimpse it affords of Rachel McAdams as Ventura County Sheriff’s detective Ani Bezzerides gives a person hope that season two’s female characters will be written with as much depth as the men. Vince Vaughn, Colin Farrell, and Taylor Kitsch all look dangerous and brood fabulously in this minute-long first look, but McAdams also carries herself like Ani can hold her own just fine.

Here’s the season two description, taken from HBO’s press release:

“A bizarre murder brings together three law-enforcement officers and a career criminal, each of whom must navigate a web of conspiracy and betrayal in the scorched landscapes of California. Colin Farrell is Ray Velcoro, a compromised detective in the all-industrial City of Vinci, LA County. Vince Vaughn plays Frank Semyon, a criminal and entrepreneur in danger of losing his life’s work, while his wife and closest ally (Kelly Reilly), struggles with his choices and her own. Rachel McAdams is Ani Bezzerides, a Ventura County Sheriff’s detective often at odds with the system she serves, while Taylor Kitsch plays Paul Woodrugh, a war veteran and motorcycle cop for the California Highway Patrol who discovers a crime scene which triggers an investigation involving three law enforcement groups, multiple criminal collusions, and billions of dollars.”

Season two consists of eight episodes, once again to be written by series creator Nic PizzolattoJustin Lin (Fast & Furious 6) is set to direct the first two.

Again, that premiere date: 9pm Sunday, June 21.*

Click here to see photos, and here to watch the trailer.

*This post has been updated to include the official timeslot, which was not revealed in HBO’s first announcement.


 

Kathy Bates is running the Hotel,” tweeted “American Horror Story” creator Ryan Murphy on Wednesday afternoon.

To which the only proper response is, “Of course she is.” Can you imagine anyone else playing the proprietress of an evil inn? We can’t.

Bates has been a force to be reckoned with on FX’s “American Horror Story” since she first appeared in season three’s “Coven” arc. Long before that, though, she redefined the concept of hospitality in Misery and broke our hearts in Dolores Claiborne as a stoic, misunderstood domestic with a steel will and devoted heart.  For Ryan and his co-creator Brad Falchuk, pop culture students to the core, she’s the best and obvious choice.

Plus, she’s clearly having a wonderful time on this show. Bates played Ethel Darling, the Bearded Lady, in the most recent “Freak Show” installment of “American Horror Story,” and she snagged an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for her portrayal of Madame Delphine LaLaurie in “Coven.” She’s the latest addition to “Hotel’s” growing guest roster, which currently includes Matt Bomer, Lady Gaga, and Cheyenne Jackson, as well as fellow “American Horror Story” alumni Chloë Sevigny and Wes Bentley.

No word yet on whether other stars from previous installments, including (but not limited to) Angela Bassett, Denis O’Hare, Evan PetersDanny Huston, Lily Rabe, Taissa Farmiga and Frances Conroy, are expected to check in to “American Horror Story: Hotel.“*

Jessica Lange, who starred in every season of the series since its debut, has confirmed that she will not be back.

Production on “American Horror Story: Hotel” begins this summer in Los Angeles. The 13-episode fifth installment is set for an October premiere on FX.

*UPDATE:  As of Monday, April 13, Sarah Paulson is confirmed to be participating in “American Horror Story: Hotel.”


Break out the kiddie pool margaritas, “The Last Man on Earth” fans! Fox has granted a second season to the quirky comedy starring Will Forte as Phil Miller, the titular last man… only, as recent episodes showed us, that designation isn’t accurate anymore.

As the series began, Phil discovered that he wasn’t really the last person alive on the planet — an annoyingly proper woman, Carol Pilbasian (Kristen Schaal) survived,  and persuaded Phil to commit himself to her because, well, she’s the last woman and he’s the last man, and… desperate times, etcetera, etcetera.

Fox showed critics the first few episodes of “Last Man” at the Television Critics Association’s Winter Press Tour in January, and at the time it was hard to imagine that this concept could be sustainable over the long term. However, a few twists in the story and the surprising addition of other characters, including the lovely Melissa Shart (played by “Mad Men‘s”  January Jones), into Phil’s tiny-but-growing social sphere quickly evolved the show into a wildly absurd comedy of manners. The laughs grow out of Phil allowing his desire to be liked to keep him imprisoned in horrible situations of his own making — mainly his relationship with Carol.

Forte, who created “Last Man,” admirably holds the center of this small-but-growing ensemble, and seeing him work with Schaal is a joy. But while “Mad Men” devotees know how funny  Jon Hamm and John Slattery can be, watching Jones show off her comedy chops after playing severe, uptight Betty Francis for seven seasons, has been a tremendous treat.

According to Fox, “The Last Man on Earth” is the top new comedy among adults 18-34 and men in the 18-49 demographic, and is the top-rated comedy in the Sunday 9:30pm time period among adults 18-49, 18-34, and teens. (Note that that Fox has been doubling up “Last Man” episodes on Sundays, so its timeslot actually begins at 9pm.)
Two new episodes of “The Last Man on Earth” air back-to-back starting at 9pm on Fox, and the only description that we’ve seen hints that Phil “finally has some good fortune headed his way.” Knowing that we’ll get a second season is probably enough of a boon to sustain its fans.

Wow, this is interesting. And awkward. And amazing… for Lifetime. Once famous for airing such woman-in-peril classics as Mother, May I Sleep with Danger? the cable channel is now the home of Grace of Monaco’s U.S. debut, airing 8pm on Monday, May 25. Yes, that’s Memorial Day. Starring Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly, this is the film that left Cannes moviegoers dumbstruck — not in a good way — after its world premiere there in 2014. Here’s one succinct verdict from Empire Online: “The toxic reaction in Cannes should offer fair warning: Weinstein’s glossbuster is a bust.”

So why not Lifetime? Why not, indeed? The channel doesn’t shy away from airing schlocky biopics, the most famous recent example being the bane of the Houston family’s existence, Whitney. Based on what we’ve read, however, we’re hoping “Grace” bears more of a resemblance to the fabulously awfulsome Liz & Dick which, in case you’ve forgotten, included a bevy of jaw-dropping dramatics courtesy of Lindsay Lohan.  Savage reviews for these movies usually translate to healthy ratings for Lifetime because, honestly, it’s not as if enjoying these cheese-fests costs us anything more than the effort it takes to live-tweet the lunacy. That, and time…precious minutes and seconds that we can never, ever get back.

Here’s the description from Lifetime’s press release:

“Set in 1962, six years after her celebrated “wedding of the century,”  Grace of Monaco is an intimate snapshot of a year in the life of actress-turned-princess Grace Kelly as she reconciles her past as a Hollywood darling and her present as Prince Rainier III’s wife.  Yearning for a return to her acting career, Grace finds herself plunged into a personal crisis to decide the fate of her marriage while her husband is at political odds with France’s President Charles de Gaulle.  With a French invasion impending for Monaco, Grace must make the difficult decision whether to stand by the side of her husband and newfound country, or return to the bright lights of Hollywood.”

Directed by Olivier Dahan, “Grace of Monaco” also stars Tim Roth, Frank Langella, Parker Posey, Paz Vega and Milo Ventimiglia.