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Thursday, Nov 3, 2011
In a new series already packed to the max with confounding conundrums, these are the top tricks in need of treats sooner rather than later.

Love it or hate it, American Horror Story has our attention. Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s latest twisted television show to air on FX has drawn in solid ratings, mostly positive reviews, and even a national magazine cover story. It’s the season’s hottest show, sexiest show, darkest show, best show, or worst show, but it’s making an appearance on lists everywhere (citations certainly helped by its pre-Halloween arrival). The only thing talked about more than the show are the ever-growing number of questions surrounding its shocking plot lines. The pilot alone packed enough twists to last a whole season (maybe even a series), but Murphy and Falchuk just keep piling them on every week.


Read on, but prepare for quite a few SPOILERS.


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Monday, Oct 17, 2011
Come with us now (rattles chains, Marley-style) as we take a cautionary look back at the 10 most spectacular mistakes of TV executives past…

Congratulations, newly-fledged TV executive vice-president of programming! You’ve got the corner office, an assistant to take your calls from eager supplicants whilst you lunch with the hottest new faces in town, hot wannabes now approaching you at parties.


And sometimes, when you’re left alone with your Firefly promotional stress grips, you sit and dream of being the visionary who greenlights the next Simpsons—or maybe Mad Men—depending on how long it took you to get here. At any rate, you envisage the fond mentions from grateful auteurs in retrospectives years later, the Lifetime Achievement honours.


The thing is, Padawan, to achieve this pinnacle one must ever be alert to the Dark Side of your newfound power. Trend-spotting holds full as many pitfalls as it does rewards. Come with us now [rattles chains, Marley-style] as we take a cautionary look back at the 10 most spectacular mistakes of TV executives past…


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Monday, Aug 22, 2011
Several new series debuted in April 2011 to transform what had been a mediocre season into an exceptional one, including Game of Thrones. AMC, meanwhile, systematically abused three of its great series, calling into question whether the cable network is truly ready for the big time.

Highpoint Number 1: Game of Thrones and the Shows of April


On 31 March 2011, if asked to grade the 2010-2011 television season, I would have been hard-pressed to give it much above a C.  Perhaps a C+ at best. The season hitherto had not been without some highpoints, many enumerated in previous installments in this countdown. But all in all, it had been a fairly undistinguished season. Most of the new shows were not successful and several had been out and out disappointments. A couple had been outstanding newcomers, like The Walking Dead, Boardwalk Empire, and Raising Hope, while one of the very best new shows, Terrierson F/X, had been a ratings bomb of the first order. All things considered, on the eve of April’s Fools Day, the 2010-2011 season was more bust than boom.


Then came April. Several shows returned to start their new seasons (Treme and Doctor Who), which helped improve things a bit. Above all, though, it was a string of outstanding new series that elevated the television landscape: HBO’s Game of Thrones, Starz’s The Borgias, AMC’s The Killing, and HBO’s miniseries Mildred Pierce. As a group these shows raised the season’s grade up to at least a B+. Rarely have so many outstanding series debuted so late in a television season.


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Friday, Aug 19, 2011
The 2010-2011 TV season saw an unprecedented number of major film directors work in TV, while Charlie Sheen's meltdown was an embarrassment both to him and to those who fixated on his demise.

Highpoint Number 2: Film Directors Invade Television


Three television series and one mini-series debuted in the 2010-2011 season with executive producers who were also notable film directors: The Walking Dead (Frank Darabont), Boardwalk Empire (Martin Scorsese), The Borgias (Neil Jordan), and Mildred Pierce (Todd Haynes). Important directors working in television is not without precedent. Steven Spielberg, David Lynch, and James Cameron have all worked in television, but never before have four such important directors all invaded the medium at the same time.


The degree to which Scorsese is involved with the actual production of Boardwalk Empire is not clear. He did direct the all-important first episode, perhaps the only episode of any series in which the director plays a role as important as the writers. The director of the initial episode of any series is responsible for creating its shooting bible, which establishes the look and feel of a show. TV directors like David Nutter and Jeffrey Reiner are sought out to direct series’ pilots because they excel at creating the look of a show.


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Monday, Aug 15, 2011
To celebrate the debut of TeenNick's "The 90s Are All That" programming and its record ratings, here are some classic episodes that made you afraid of the dark.

At the same time a handful of friends Tweeted and updated their Facebook statuses to celebrate the premiere of TeenNick’s The 90s Are All That lineup recently, I was stabbed with my millionth pang of regret that I still can’t afford cable television. As a 23-year-old with an entry-level job, a loan repayment schedule, some credit debt, and a cat to feed, my budget simply cannot account for pricey cable television bills. Thus, I make do with Netflix and an Internet connection, having learned in college the key to any broke couch potato’s comfort in a cable-less lifestyle is to embrace a wireless router.


Although not currently airing during the midnight to 4AM block, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, easily the most iconic series from Nickelodeon’s golden era, is slated to return to the airwaves in a future cycle of programming. But take it from me, you need look no further than YouTube. Therefore, I invite you to join me in revisiting ten classic, creepy Are You Afraid of the Dark? episodes, if not from the comfort of a big orange couch in front of a television, then at least with the lights turned off (it aids the YouTube picture quality).


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