TV critic David Bianculli once stated, “It is easy, and not at all inaccurate, to divide dramatic series television into two eras: Before Hill Street Blues 1981-1987… and after.” He credits the NBC crime drama with two revolutionary innovations that would become the genre norm (although both had been staples of daytime soap operas for years). The first was to replace the single lead with an ensemble cast. The second is that it replaced the standard episodic plot line, where each episode told a single self-contained story, to a narrative arc that would go over an entire season. However, Bianculli leaves out perhaps Hill Street Blues’ greatest contribution to American television.
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Netflix really put their chips on the table by releasing Daredevil the same weekend as the Season Five premiere of Game of Thrones, and in the eternal war of watercooler-ready cultural capital, the only reason they’d be so bold is because they feel that they had something special on their hands ... and they do indeed.
Landing at a curious time in the television landscape where DC Comics is starting to pick up good will with their character-driven efforts Arrow and The Flash (although the less said about Gotham the better) and Marvel’s own Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is starting to pay off after finally breaking through the predictable “monster of the week format” part way through its first season, Daredevil is cut from a different bullet-resistant cloth altogether. Starring Boardwalk Empire‘s Charlie Cox as blind lawyer Matt Murdock, the show follows Murdock and his friend Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson of Mighty Ducks fame) as they start up their own law firm in Hell’s Kitchen, although Murdock, whose other senses have been trained to near-superhuman levels, goes out at night and seeks vigilante justice all his own, often fighting back the forces of ruthless business magnate Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) in a struggle for the heart of the city. (Note, this character is best known as the Kingpin, but in one of the show’s several well-thought-out decisions, he is never referred to as such.)
This may sound very by-the-numbers (and, to neophytes, remarkably Batman-esque), but the show carries off the premise remarkable style. Created by The Cabin in the Woods helmer Drew Goddard with Steven S. DeKnight serving as showrunner (both alums from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel), let us now break down the three absolutely extraordinary ways that Daredevil managed to become not just the hands-down best superhero drama on TV, but also one of the best new overall dramas this season.
The business of television is ever changing in the dog days of summer. Producers will jockey with network execs for renewal, showrunners will settle into the fateful writer’s room to shape their show’s future, and Jack Bauer is now opting to save England from annihilation—but still somehow doing it with only a flip phone and concealed pistol at his disposal.
Since giving birth to her son in 2011, actress January Jones has been the subject of a very popular guessing game. I don’t know if it’s going on in whispers in Hollywood, but it flares up from time to time in the tabloids and exists constantly on various snarky, Hollywood-related websites.
It has to do with the paternity of her child. Jones is the biological mother of her offspring but has never revealed the identity of the father. This, of course, has lead to a wild degree of speculation with potential guesses ranging from the possible to the completely outrageous.
The paternity of her child, of course, isn’t anyone’s business but her and her son’s but such high principals is not going to end this ad hoc, slightly unseemly, parlor game of guess the sperm donor.
Zooey Deschanel is the beauty queen of quirk. There are those who find it “adorkable”, and those who have disdain for the New Girl star’s overabundance of peculiarity. It’s true that the dial on the Quirk Meter is bent to full capacity and – oh wait - the springs have popped loose. Just watch her in interviews speaking in lilting stops and starts, or in the films (500) Days of Summer, Almost Famous or Elf where the line blurs between Deschanel the person and her characters; they are one and the same. With her trademark fringe of dark brown bangs, and round, blameless eyes she executes the weirdness well. Her delivery is deadpan but without the element of surprise because with Deschanel we know what’s coming: some declaration of what makes her atypical (Let me fill you in: it’s everything).
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