Wednesday, December 19, 2012

WHERE DO THEY GO FROM HERE?


The latest seasons of Showtime’s two biggest dramas—HOMELAND and DEXTER—ended on Sunday with a renewed sense of direction. One indicates that there’s a lot more coming, when the end already seemed near, while the other was terribly disturbing, but opens up doors to so much more that can happen. Read on and see if you’re thinking what I’m thinking.

DEXTER
One can undoubtedly say that this was one of the best seasons of the show yet, especially after the last season, which was rather disappointing. The season was completely focused on the central story arc—the repercussions of Deb finding out about Dexter’s secret. To make it more intense, they threw in LaGuerta looking into the ‘bay harbor butcher’ case again. The finale was a culmination of that, and the sight of Dexter being arrested and paraded through the station was something we’ve all feared right from the beginning. It was an effective way of beginning the finale, before all hell broke loose for Dexter and Deb. LaGuerta decided to start over by looking into Dexter and Debra’s involvement in the church fire, and that brought on all kinds of survival instincts in Dexter. I’m not so sure that where the writers took it from there was the best way to handle the storyline, because it messed things up completely. I’m sure there could have been another way to stop LaGuerta from digging further, rather than having Dexter make the hasty decision of taking her out with Estrada’s death as the cover story.
The last few minutes of the finale were tense as hell, making the climax even more chilling than when Deb walked in on Dexter killing Travis Marshall in the previous season’s finale. However, I wasn’t convinced with Deb’s impulsiveness when she finally pulled the trigger, because she had been standing there holding the gun for a while. It surely wasn’t a reflex action. But then, I wouldn’t know what it’d be like for someone to be in a situation as messed up as the one Deb was in, so I’ll give the writers the benefit of the doubt there. But it disturbed me to no end. To see LaGuerta dying like that was horrible. Apart from fact that I liked her as a character, she didn’t deserve it. And then the way Deb went and held her after shooting her was gut-wrenching. Dexter’s helplessness formed the perfect background in that shot.
The big question now is, where does it all go from here? An innocent person was killed. That even goes against Dexter’s code, and it’s Deb who killed her! How will she live with that? What’s it going to do to her? How will she go around catching murderers like Hannah McKay knowing that she’s a murderer herself? Answers to these questions will obviously provide the writers enough material for the next season, and it’ll be interesting to see how they handle this. Of course, an investigation into LaGuerta and Estrada’s deaths is bound to pose a problem for Dexter and Deb. And then Hannah’s also escaped, so there’s going to be more on her storyline as well. All said and done, the final season will definitely be explosive, but looking at things the way they are right now, I don’t see Dexter or Deb getting any kind of happy endings by the end of it all. I won’t be surprised if Deb eventually turns herself in or even ends her own life. I suspect Dexter will eventually get caught, or he’ll escape from Miami and disappear altogether.


HOMELAND
By the end of its first season, Homeland was already a huge success, and the second season couldn’t come soon enough. And it started with a bang. A few episodes in, Saul and Carrie and Estes had already found out the truth about Brody, and I wondered where it would go from there. They spun things around and made him a double agent, and that answered my question. The season saw a lull period, when things almost started to get boring, but when Abu Nazir showed up in the States, that turned around completely. I guess the writers are great with that, throwing in surprises every now and then to keep things interesting. Walden’s death was one of those surprises. It was an ingenious way to kill him, and I was actually happy for Brody to see him get some closure from the one thing that turned him against his own country—Isa’s wrongful death—even though I’ve always thought that the attack that killed Isa might have been orchestrated by Nazir himself, as part of a master-plan to turn Brody.
By the penultimate episode of the season, I was again surprised to see how much the writers were already doing. Nazir, who I’d always imagined as being this mighty terrorist like Bin Laden, was dead, leaving me to again think: where do we go from here? The finale started off quite slowly, and halfway through this episode that was over an hour long (with even the opening credits omitted), I was waiting for something explosive to make it season-finale worthy. And something explosive was just what I got. It was poetic to see Nazir’s body fall into the sea just as the blast in the CIA took place—like his final master-plan saw its climax just as he was being put to rest. And the blast also answered my question yet again. It opened up so many avenues to take the show forward. It was a brilliant way to end the season. The news playing the tape that Brody had made before his almost suicide attack in the previous season’s finale was shocking, especially because Jessica and the kids were watching it. No one would believe the guy who’s already cried ‘wolf’ once before; even Carrie’s immediate reaction was to suspect Brody. The next season will obviously be about Carrie proving Brody’s innocence, but given her personal involvement, there’ll obviously be a limit to her credibility.
I liked the subplot of Estes’ plan to kill Brody, keeping Saul quiet, and then how Quinn got involved. I wasn’t sad to see Estes die eventually. Among other characters, I enjoyed watching Quinn and Roya Hamad throughout the season. I hope they serve some purpose in the next season too. By the end, it was heartbreaking to see Carrie leave Brody as the fugitive he was. However, I don’t see how a fake passport or identity can get him very far, given that he’s now America’s most wanted. But let’s wait till next September and see what happens. There’s so much to look forward to from HOMELAND season 3!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

GOLDEN GLOBE & SCREEN ACTORS GUILD NOMINEES 2012-13


Here’s a look at the television nominees of the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards 2013, which were announcer earlier this week…

While the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will begin voting for the nominees of the 85th Academy Awards, the grand finale of the award season, all the other awards are have been gearing up to take us right into the season for the past few weeks now. From the Critics’ Choice to the Peoples’ Choice; from the Writers’ Guild to the Screen Actors’ Guild and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association… all the nomination announcements are pouring in, the latest being the SAGs and the Globes.

Mandy Patinkin is a new entrant for his role in HOMELAND
Now in television, a few major contenders and big winners of the past few years have been pushed out of the race, the biggest being GAME OF THRONES, which has only been nominated for the SAG Stunt Ensemble award. The Golden Globes have been quite welcoming of new contenders this year, much more than last year, even eliminating shows like MAD MEN and 30 ROCK from the Best Series race. They have acknowledged the freshman season of THE NEWSROOM for Best Series and included Mandy Patinkin (HOMELAND) in the race for Supporting Actor – TV. 

Hayden Panettiere & Connie Britton are both competing,
for their roles in NASHVILLE
The Globes have also acknowledged shows that haven’t quite seen the kind of critical acclaim that would have made their inclusion in the list inevitable. SMASH for Series – Musical/Comedy, NASHVILLE’s for Actress – Drama (Connie Britton) & Supporting Actress  TV (Hayden Panettiere), and POLITICAL ANIMALS for Mini Series/TV Movie and Actress – Mini Series/TV Movie (Sigourney Weaver). The surprise from SAG is their generosity in nominating six shows for Ensemble – Comedy/Musical, while otherwise ensuring that long-time favorites like 30 ROCK, GLEE and THE OFFICE stay in the race for Acting Ensemble – Musical/Comedy.

Among the biggest snubs are Elisabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks 
for their roles in MAD MEN
While the scope is wide in Series/Ensemble categories, for both the Globes and the SAGs, the individual acting categories for Primetime TV are very limited, as always. The Globes make drama, comedy and mini-series/TV-movie share the supporting acting categories, which makes it impossible to include everyone who deserves due credit. The most unfortunate exclusions this year are Julie Bowen & Ty Burrell (MODERN FAMILY), Jennifer Carpenter (DEXTER), Christina Hendricks and Elisabeth Moss (MAD MEN), Jane Lynch (GLEE), Mayim Bialik (THE BIG BANG THEORY), Peter Dinklage (GAME OF THRONES), Aaron Paul (BREAKING BAD) and Neil Patrick Harris (HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER). 


Eric Stonestreet (MODERN FAMILY) faces unfair competition among 
major lead performances at the Screen Actors Guild Awards
At the SAGs, it’s even worse, with no supporting categories at all. We’re talking about Ty Burrell and Eric Stonestreet’s supporting performances competing with Alec Baldwin and Jim Parsons’s lead roles, or Sofia Vergara competing with awards favorite Tina Fey. Of course the number of actors and actresses snubbed in the process is shocking. I think that if a set of awards are given only for acting, there should be as many divisions of the acting categories that seem fair instead of unjustly clubbing performances of completely different calibers into one category.

Freshman THE NEWSROOM deserves is nominations for 
Series - Drama & Actor Drama (Jeff Daniels)


The biggest snubs for lead actors/actresses, by both awards, are probably Hugh Laurie, for his final outing as Dr House in HOUSE MD, and Michael C Hall, for seeing Dexter through such intense vulnerabilities in the latest season of DEXTER. That’s not to say that any of the contenders for Actor – Drama in both the Globes and SAG (the lists are identical this year) are undeserving. I’m especially happy that Jeff Daniels is among them, but given the tight competition in this category this year, the HFPA and the SAG could surely have thrown in another nominee.

It's good to see DOWNTON ABBEY 
competing with regular primetime series


On the other hand, it’s good to see DOWNTON ABBEY competing with other regular series, as opposed to mini-series or TV movies. THE NEWSROOM deserves its Globe nomination for Series –Drama, and the SAG was right in nominating MAD MEN for Acting Ensemble – Drama in place of THE NEWSROOM (barring which, even that list is identical for both the Globes and SAGs).

All in all, despite the numerous snubs, the competition is tight, and it looks like there could be quite a few surprise winners, given the newcomers in the lists and the results of the recent Primetime Emmy Awards, if they’re anything to go by.


Watch this space closer to the awards dates, for a list of predictions. In the mean time, share your views on the nominee lists here. 

Saturday, December 01, 2012

COMING SOON – SHOWS TO LOOK OUT FOR

tvTALKsnips

As the winter finales have begun to leave everyone with much less television to watch during the holidays, there’s a lot of good TV coming up in the New Year—a few returning shows, and a few brand new ones. Some new shows have premiere dates as early as in January, while others are still being developed and/or are in production. Here are a few of them that I’m going to be looking out for…



THE FOLLOWING | FOX | Premiere: January 21, 2013
If you think there’s been enough crime on scripted television, think again. THE FOLLOWING, from EP Kevin Williamson (THE VAMPIRE DIARIES) gives us a view of serial killers, like never seen before. Kevin Bacon plays a retired FBI Agent, Ryan Hardy, who is called in to hunt down Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), a serial killer who escapes from prison, out to show the world a ‘sequel’ of his earlier killings. As he goes about creating a cult of murderers, Hardy gets consumed by his search for Carroll—a feat he’d pulled off about eight years ago, for which he’d sacrificed everything. The premise might not make as much of an impact as the trailer will (see below). Once you’ve seen it, you sure will want to know more about Joe Carroll and his end game. This show is bound to put a whole new spin on the cat-and-mouse genre, and give procedural drama a new meaning. This show seems to be the ideal ground for Kevin Bacon’s return to television. I suspect it’ll garner popular appeal as well as critical acclaim.



MONDAY MORNINGS | TNT | Premiere: February 4, 2013
It’s been a while since a new medical drama hit the tube (and stayed on the air). With HOUSE MD over, PRIVATE PRACTICE ending and EMILY OWENS MD canceled, MONDAY MORNINGS comes at just the right time. From David E Kelley (DOOGIE HOWSER MD, PICKET FENCES, CHICAGO HOPE, LA LAW, ALLY McBEAL, THE PRACTICE, BOSTON PUBLIC, BOSTON LEGAL, HARRY’S LAW) comes this medical drama that follows five surgeons’ careers, with their weekly morbidity and mortality conference as the backdrop. The surgeons of Chelsea General Hospital in Portland, Oregon, come together on Monday Mornings for a confidential review of complications and errors in patient care. Starring Alfred Molina, Ving Rhames, Jamie Bamber and Jennifer Finnigan, the series is based on a book by Dr Sanjay Gupta, who is also an EP for the show. The premise of the show is rather simple, but a medical conference as the setting could make it quite intense and gripping, which I say based on all the conference-based episodes of GREY’S ANATOMY that I’ve watched. Good actors among the cast are bound to make it worth watching for more than one reason.


THE AMERICANS | FX | Premieres January 2013

Production for this series began recently, and we already know that it’s going to premiere in January. Starring Matthew Rhys (BROTHERS AND SISTERS) and Keri Russell (FELICITY), this is a spy drama set in the eighties. Phillip (Rhys) and Elizabeth (Russell) are KGB spies, living undercover as a married couple in Washington DC. Their relationship becomes more intense through the Cold War, and also because of the presence of an FBI Agent who lives next door. From Joe Weisberg (FALLING SKIES) and Graham Yost (JUSTIFIED), this ambitious project has an intriguing premise, but with little known about what their story is, one can only wait and watch. It stars good actors and who doesn’t like a good spy drama!



DEVIOUS MAIDS | Lifetime | In Production
From Marc Cherry (DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES), DEVIOUS MAIDS was rejected by ABC, and then Lifetime ordered it to series. The show is based loosely on the Mexican telenovela THE DISORDERLY MAIDS OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD, and is about four ambitious housekeepers, who work in a rich neighborhood in Beverly Hills. Based on the promo of the show (see below), it seems like the pilot will feature a mysterious death, in true Marc Cherry style. The murder is bound to throw up several questions about the characters—the wealthy Beverly Hills residents and the maids. A premise like this has potential, but I sure hope Marc Cherry brings something fresh to the table, instead of revamping DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES-esque story ideas. The cast, comprising Ana Ortiz (UGLY BETTY), Judy Reyes (SCRUBS), Dania Ramirez (HEROES, ENTOURAGE) and Roselyn Sanchez (WITHOUT A TRACE), is impressive. I really hope this show doesn’t disappoint, especially after HOUSEWIVES’ successful eight-year run.




THE GILDED AGE | NBC | In Development
Julian Fellowes, the creator of critically acclaimed British series DOWNTON ABBEY, is developing this period drama for NBC. Being called ‘America’s very own DOWNTON ABBEY’, THE GILDED AGE will be set in a time, not far behind DOWNTON ABBEY. The show will be about the millionaires of the late 19th century New York City. Fellowes himself says, “This was a vivid time, with dizzying, brilliant ascents and calamitous falls, of record-breaking ostentation and savage rivalry; a time when money was king.” NBC describes it as “an epic tale of the princes of the American Renaissance, and the vast fortunes they made – and spent.” Period dramas sure have become a big trend in the last decade, with shows like MAD MEN, BOARDWALK EMPIRE, ABBEY, etc making a strong mark, and this one is definitely going to be one to watch out for. Incidentally, a show with a similar concept, called THE GILDED LILYS, from creator Shonda Rhimes—about the opening of New York’s first luxury hotel in the 1890s—was rejected by ABC earlier this year.

PAPER 
| HBO | In Development
Another intense subject like those covered by THE FOLLOWING and THE AMERICANS, PAPER will be about a former cocaine dealer and gangster, from Buffalo, NY, who decides to change his life by getting into business as a professional debt collector. As expected, his new job becomes as dangerous as his old one. The show, being executive produced by Wells Tower, is being developed by HBO, with Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B. At a very nascent stage, not much has been revealed about the project except that the series is based on an article about a drug-dealer-turned-debt-collector from Buffalo, where debt collection agencies and employees are in big numbers. The premise seems a little odd to me, but maybe that’s simply because I don’t know about debt-collection. But still, since it’s HBO at the helm, I look forward to learning more about the project and discovering its potential.


Which shows out of these are you most looking forward to? Do share your thoughts on these new projects below...