Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 4:35 pm
I'm guessing that the first thing fans of Vince Gilligan's Breaking Bad want to know is whether its AMC prequel series, Better Call Saul, premiering Sunday and Monday,is anywhere near as good as the original β which was TV at its very best. And I'm also guessing that people who haven't yet worked their way through Breaking Bad -- and, really, by now, why haven't you? β are wondering whether they can enjoy this new series without having absorbed the old one.
As longtime PCHH listeners know, Stephen Thompson hosts a Super Bowl party every year that keeps him hopping and keeps us from discussing the game in real time as we otherwise would. Therefore, we sat down Monday morning to catch up about the game, including the phenomenon of concluding you've witnessed an inexplicable play call from someone who knows much, much more about football than you do. We also talk about the Katy Perry halftime show, the surprisingly sentimental ads and lots more.
The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) has yet to find its Mad Men or Transparent -- the show that will make it an instant player the way those shows did for AMC and Amazon. But today, they announced that later this year, production will begin on a scripted drama series inspired by the Natalie Baszile novel Queen Sugar, on which Oprah Winfrey will collaborate with Ava DuVernay, the director of Best Picture nominee Selma. The story is about a woman living in Los Angeles who moves to her father's 800-acre sugar cane farm in Louisiana after his death.
Originally published on Fri January 30, 2015 10:07 am
It happens at least once every episode: A scene in Parenthood carefully crafted to make you cry.
Like the moment when devoted parents Adam and Kristina Braverman try to console their son Max β who has Asperger's syndrome β after a school camping trip goes bad.
"Why do all the other kids hate me?" Max Braverman asks, voice wavering, just before telling his disbelieving parents a classmate relieved himself in his canteen during the trip. "Asperger's is supposed to make me smart. But if I'm smart then why ... why don't I get why they're laughing at me?"
Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 3:33 pm
This story begins an occasional series about individuals who don't have much money or power but do have a big impact on their communities.
Sometimes, the people you'd least expect are those who do the most. People like Tony Simmons, a homeless man in Baltimore who helps others get off the street. Simmons says he does it as much for himself as for anyone else.
Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 6:30 pm
Several years ago, when her father died unexpectedly, writer Marie Mutsuki Mockett became unmoored. Lost in a deep depression, Mockett turned to Japan's rituals of mourning for a way forward.
Mockett's mother's family owns and runs a temple just 25 miles from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The plant melted down after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Mockett begged her cousin, the temple's priest, to leave, but he refused β he said he needed to stay to care for the souls of the ancestors.
Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 6:57 pm
A few days ago, I entertained myself for a few minutes watching ESPN's Stephen A. Smith lose his cool β this time, over an "incompetent" NFL for not interviewing Patriots quarterback Tom Brady regarding the team's deflated-football controversy.
But what made this moment noteworthy, was where I was watching Smith: not on a TV connected to a cable box, but on my iPad. Thanks to Sling TV.
On this week's Pop Culture Happy Hour, we're joined from Boston by PCHH's official enthusiastic librarian, Margaret Willison. We begin with a conversation about Broad City, the Comedy Central show that recently kicked off its second season (you can see the event Stephen talks about right here). We talk about some of the show's influences, some of what makes it special, and some of the ways it pushes against the boundaries of typical television.
Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 8:56 am
The wedding of Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) and Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) was one of Parks and Recreation's greatest moments. So was the wedding of April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza) and Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt). But Tuesday night, Parks spent the second half of its hourlong double episode on its greatest love story: the friendship of Leslie and Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman).
Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 3:24 pm
It's perhaps not surprising that the strongest part of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore on its debut Monday was the part that looked the most like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, with which it shares considerable DNA. Wilmore opened with an observation that the Oscar nominations are "so white a grand jury decided not to indict them," acknowledged Selma and said the words "Eric Garner" and "Ferguson" in the teaser before the show open even rolled. (What was on Colbert's show the "pre-eagle" moment.)
Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 11:03 am
Broadway is New York's biggest tourist attraction and brought in $1.3 billion in ticket sales last season. But it's also a high-stakes gamble for producers, since only 1 in 4 Broadway shows turns a profit. This month, two of the fall's most highly anticipated musicals, a revival of Side Show and The Last Ship, with songs by Sting, have thrown in the towel β closing, having lost almost their entire investments.