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Thursday, Oct 10, 2013
It’s not too late to get all the information you need on all the new fall shows.

Thursday is home to the highest-rated and most heavily hyped shows on television. Because some of last year’s new debuts didn’t make it (The New Normal, Last Resort) and a few old favorites came to the end of their run (30 Rock, The Office), many new shows are competing for our attention on this night. There’s plenty of options and something out there for almost everyone.


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Monday, Aug 5, 2013
The announcement, surprisingly, was not a left-turn that many were expecting. Some are raising hell over his place in the canon. You know what? It's going to be really, really hard to top Capaldi.

So now we know: Peter Capaldi is going to be in the TARDIS, cursing up a storm.


Or not (it is a family program afterall). Yet for a man who so elegantly delivered the phrase “fuckity-bye” as the deliriously profane Malcolm Tucker in In the Loop, Capaldi is a rather interesting, some would even argue bold choice to play the 12th Doctor.


Now, let it be known, there are people who are bemoaning two very specific points (already) about the announcement of Capaldi. For one, the producers could’ve been a lot bolder. Rumors have circles for years about there being a black Doctor. A female Doctor. Anything to offset the onslaught of increasingly-younger white men who always seem to be on the holding end of that sonic screwdriver. While there certainly is some legitimacy to that claim, Doctor Who is also going with a very strong “if it ain’t broke…” modus operandi here.


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Wednesday, Dec 12, 2012
True Blood's Amy Burley (Lizzy Caplan) lives a life of paradox: corrupt hipster and a conscious preacher of environmental sustainability -- for vampires.

“I am an organic vegan and my carbon footprint is miniscule,” utters Amy Burley, as she embarks on her environmental cause. “Balance”, “Harmony” and “Beauty” are three signature words defining Amy’s cause in the HBO series, True Blood.  Amy, along with other True Blood women, does not represent a new wave of womanhood, but rather women’s participation in contemporary society as activists in their own right.


The character of Amy, played by Lizzy Caplan, is an eco-activist constantly preaching and guiding her partner, Jason Stackhouse, towards an organic lifestyle. She is the future of modern ecological consciousness in the small, dysfunctional town of Louisiana.


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Thursday, Aug 9, 2012
We talk about the Twitter Age the way we talked about the Nuclear Age. Like? Dislike? Doesn't really make a difference because once here, technology -- nuclear or cyber -- doesn't leave the room.

It’s the Twitter Olympics. Like? Dislike? The live feeds aren’t there or aren’t good, or, they’re spoiling the excitement of the evening TV replay. I’m panning wider: the Twitter Age. We talk about the Twitter Age the way we talked about the Nuclear Age. Like? Dislike? Doesn’t really make a difference because once here, technology—nuclear or cyber—doesn’t leave the room. A PDF is a most personally cherished possession as judged within a cultural mass psyche that cherishes all things personal. You have the power of personal choice, touch and response. Did I say instantaneous touch and response? And unlimited choices?


Is there a dark side? It begins not so dark, but if you think about it beyond a 140-character thought process, it all seems to be a burlesque ending to Enlightenment dreams so well lit in the mind that even postmodernity couldn’t dim them. But there’s a dimmer on now.


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Thursday, Nov 10, 2011
Nominally a kiddie series, the TV adaptation of Horrible Histories has a sharp comic intelligence. It might just be one of the most successful original comedy shows to appear in years.

The thing is, the British attitude toward how one might go about teaching history is a bit more… relaxed than most.


Not that this has traditionally trickled down to UK classrooms anymore than it has North American ones; only that it’s not surprising that when the floodgates did finally open, it happened in the land of 1066 and All That, et endless seq.. When once you’ve decided to adopt Rowan Atkinson as a media icon, there’s not much use trying to prevent children learning about the Renaissance from the perspective of a sewer rat.


Thus was enabled the origin story of the best-beloved Horrible Histories franchise. When asked circa 1992 by Scholastic Books UK to write an historically-themed joke book with a few factoids thrown in, British children’s author Terry Deary had traumatic flashbacks to his struggles to stay awake during middle school courses on the subject. Wouldn’t it be much more fun, Deary suggested instead, if he were to write a book of historical factoids with some jokes thrown in…?


As he delved into the ‘serious’ history texts, that quite naturally evolved into lots of jokes—in fact, into the entire grand gold mine of black comedy that is human civilization throughout the ages, just naturally packed full of the kind of bodily-fluid-filled gags that invariably set children to squealing happily. All of it underpinned by the particular sort of shrewdly anarchistic cleverness that the UK media have been on high alert for, oh, just about f40 years now. Hey, “Chapter One: The Dead Pirate Parrot Sketch” has a nice ring to it…


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