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“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.


 

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.

FX Renews “The Americans” & More

March 31st, 2015 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in FX | The Americans - (Comments Off)

Let us toast, comrades! FX has rewarded its creatively fierce if ratings-challenged drama “The Americans” with a fourth season, on the heels of airing the third’s final quartet of episodes. The season finale is scheduled to air at 10pm Wednesday, April 22.

This season’s of the ’80s-era spy drama has been particularly electric, what with Soviet intelligence agents Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) maintaining their mission to subvert America’s efforts to derail the Motherland’s interests, all while living in deep cover as a normal American couple and pushing back against the KGB’s desires to indoctrinate their daughter Paige (Holly Taylor) into the family trade.

Yet fewer people have been tuning in this season compare to season two, according to FX’s press release, with season three taking a 4 percent dip in year over year averages in total viewers and nudging downward by 6 percent in the 18-49 demographic. But FX seems to be pleased by the numbers in delayed viewing, boasting of its 147 percent lift between live numbers and Live + 7, which factors in DVR usage.

Season four of “The Americans” will air in 2016. The next new episode airs 10pm Wednesday on FX.

UPDATE: Minutes after this posted, Showtime announced its renewal of “House of Lies, ” starring Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell, for a 10-episode fifth season debuting in 2016.

Review: TV Land’s “Younger”

March 30th, 2015 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in TV Land | Younger - (Comments Off)


When TV Land announced that its tentpole comedy “Hot in Cleveland” was being cancelled, fans may not have understood the decision. “Hot” is a funny, well-written show that stars Betty White, for crying out loud. They cancelled Betty White’s show! Why?!

For the answer, take a look at “Younger,” premiering 10pm Tuesday, March 31 on TV Land.  The latest series from “Sex and the City” creator Darren Star is the prime example of the cable channel’s rebranding strategy: TV Land still is targeting 40-somethings, primarily women, but instead of mining the hoary idea that midlife is cougar territory, the danger zone between youth and decrepitude, the channel’s new vibe capitalizes on the more marketable concept that 40 is the new 20.

That’s “Younger” in a nutshell, with Sutton Foster (formerly of ABC Family’s “Bunheads” ) playing a newly divorced middle-aged mom with a kid in college, who restarts her once-promising career by lying about her age. For the record, Foster just turned 40…but you wouldn’t know it to look at her, which is this story’s hook. Foster’s character Liza is smart, self-assured and, thanks to leaving a promising career in publishing to raise a daughter, almost completely out of touch with social media and the evolution of her chosen field into fast-paced, technology-driven dogfight.

When a few humiliating interviews leave her with the impression that she’s aged out of publishing, Liza’s ready to give up…until she gets hit on by a much younger man at a bar. Egged on by her best friend Maggie (Debi Mazar), Liza decides to roll with that assumption because…why not? With an updated wardrobe and a few well-placed highlights, Liza ages herself down to 26, fumbling her way through understanding the online habits, casual dating practices, and depilatory requirements of millennials. A scene where two younger women react to seeing Liza’s bikini area which, shall we say, has never taken a trip to Brazil, is priceless.

It’s a ridiculous ploy, but somehow Liza is able to maintain the ruse, largely with help from Maggie and her new work friend Kelsey (Hilary Duff), who is in the dark about her new BFF’s true age. The contrast between Kelsey, a driven career woman in her twenties who often finds herself on the verge of numerous cringe-worthy mistakes, and Liza, who has lived through and learned from making similar mistakes (and many more), grants “Younger” a depth that defies its premise.

It probably helps that Star has explored this territory before in “Sex and the City.” In fact, one memorable episode posited that youth wages war on maturity: Charlotte –  only in her 30s at the time– was rewarded for lying about her age by scoring a roll in the sheets with a younger man, and a terrible case of the crabs.  Even this was overshadowed by Carrie’s revelation that her great love, Mr. Big, had found new love with a younger girl. Her age? About 26.

“Sex and the City” ultimately handled that story by making Natasha a graceful character, albeit one who Carrie utterly crushed.  “Younger’s” writing has a similar balance of give and take: Liza learns a great deal from Kelsey, and is never overtaken by envy at her colleague’s youth and success. At the same time, Liza also comes to realize that the wisdom gained by life’s experiences, particularly those born out of pain, has just as much value as youthful ideals and enthusiasm.

Liza’s playing at her twenties again may be a gambit to pay the bills, and creates a lot of reasons to laugh throughout the first few episodes of “Younger,” but it also reminds viewers of a certain age of the optimism and daring afforded by youth, and how it’s never too late to reclaim those traits. In that sense, this clever new TVLand series is as inspiring as it is entertaining.

Younger” premieres at 10pm Tuesday, March 31 on TV Land.

 

“Vikings” Renewed for Season Four

March 26th, 2015 | Posted by Melanie McFarland in History Channel | Vikings - (Comments Off)


One’s of TV’s great houses may be shutting down, but Ragnar Lothbrok’s Kattegat will remain open for another year. History has renewed “Vikings” for a fourth season, with production set to begin this spring in Ireland.

“Vikings’s” pick-up is a bit of a no-brainer for History, given that it has averaged 4.3 million viewers each week over season three’s first five episodes. The success of the channel’s first major scripted drama has inspired History to expand its slate to greenlight other originals, including the upcoming series “Knightfall,” co-produced by Jeremy Renner‘s company The Combine, which will dive into the world of the Knights Templar.

The news about “Vikings” arrives on the heels of PBS and Carnival Films’ announcement that “Downton Abbeywill end after season six.

New episodes of “Vikings” air Thursday nights at 10pm.