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      • Why do Cowboy Bebop characters talk like they're in a Joss Whedon show?
        Source: VICE

        "What happens when fans of Joss Whedon grow up and start working in television and movies? Netflix’s remake of Cowboy Bebop," says Gita Jackson. "I can’t say for sure if the writers and showrunners on Bebop were, like I once was, huge fans of Buffy or Angel, the two shows that put Whedon on the map. Based on the way the characters speak, it sure sounds like it, though. Over the years, I’ve begun to notice more and more 'Whedonspeak,' as the phenomenon used to be called, in mainstream television and movies. Describing the qualities that make dialogue sound Whedonesque is now difficult though, because those qualities are ubiquitous." Jackson adds: "It’s difficult to overstate how influential that show has been, not just in terms of its portrayal of women in science fiction, but also because of the particular quirks of Whedon’s dialogue. Characters in Whedon’s shows talk a lot, and they talk in very particular ways. Characters are often imprecise in their language, letting sentences trail off as they struggle to articulate themselves. They turn nouns into verbs and vice versa. They say 'thing' or 'thingy' or 'stuff' in place of more descriptive terms. Often these characters metatextually comment on their surroundings or the environments they’re in, usually in a sarcastic or snarky way. The tone of this is pretty 'wink wink, nudge nudge,' as if the writers are speaking through the characters to the audience, rather than the characters commenting on the situation they are in...This is fine in Buffy, which is a show about teenagers in a heightened universe where vampires are real. When this style of dialogue shows up elsewhere, it’s not just incongruous, it feels lazy. The characters in Netflix’s remake of Cowboy Bebop talk in this way. It isn’t that the universe is more grim, it’s that the tone of the show, the actions of the characters, and the way that they all talk to each other don’t jive. Whedonspeak is all over Cowboy Bebop, especially whenever Faye Valentine talks. In particular, the scene when Faye is handcuffed to the Bebop’s toilet in its opening episode has that particular veneer of insincerity that is endemic to this style of dialogue, especially when it’s done badly. The characters aren’t talking to each other—they’re speaking in quips and asides, lines meant to make the audience laugh more than they’re meant to convey who these characters are."

        ALSO:

        • Cowboy Bebop isn't supposed to be good -- it works better viewed as a wacky fan fiction fever dream come to life: "Like many anime adaptations before it, Neo-Bebop’s sins are numerous, from the cringeworthy script to its awkward attempts at mimicking the animation’s original style," says Janus Rose. "Much of it is painful to watch if you’re coming from the source material, and you can find plenty of video essays on YouTube where fans dutifully pick apart the new series and compare scenes to their original counterparts. Everything is dissected, from the terrible writing and character backstories to the poor use of lighting during the iconic church duel between Spike Spiegel and his murderous former comrade Vicious. Like many anime adaptations before it, Neo-Bebop’s sins are numerous, from the cringeworthy script to its awkward attempts at mimicking the animation’s original style. Much of it is painful to watch if you’re coming from the source material, and you can find plenty of video essays on YouTube where fans dutifully pick apart the new series and compare scenes to their original counterparts. Everything is dissected, from the terrible writing and character backstories to the poor use of lighting during the iconic church duel between Spike Spiegel and his murderous former comrade Vicious. But decades after the original series left its mark, I simply couldn’t get mad at all these transgressions. I had a much better time watching the new Cowboy Bebop as a goofy, high-budget cosplay skit than wishing for it to be some high-minded and faithful adaptation. Instead of a slick and melancholy sci-fi tale, the new series is a wacky fanfiction.net fever dream come to life. At times this dynamic is so ridiculous it just works. John Cho and Mustafa Shakir have plenty of on-screen chemistry as Spike Spiegel and Jet Black, and their banter often manages to capture the original characters while punching through the tedious script. The 10 episodes frequently veer into 'so bad it’s good' territory, and I often found myself laughing through all the cringe and curious to see where the show would take my beloved space cowboys next. It’s not High Art, and I wouldn’t necessarily even call it 'Good.' But in its best moments, Netflix Bebop is a truly unhinged remix that puts classic characters through a nostalgic funhouse mirror you can’t look away from."
        • What Cowboy Bebop gets right (The Bebop Crew) and wrong (Radical Edward)
        • Cowboy Bebop showrunner André Nemec discusses the finale twist

        # TOPICS: Cowboy Bebop, Netflix, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, André Nemec, Daniella Pineda, John Cho, Joss Whedon, Mustafa Shakir

      • John Cho is not a "what if" story -- he's a bona-fide pioneer for Asian Americans in modern Hollywood
        Source: Mel Magazine

        In 2016, the Cowboy Bebop star was envisioned as the leading man in big movie roles in the 2016 viral hashtag movement called #StarringJohnCho. "His filmography isn’t a particularly dense one, in part because of what Hollywood has (or more importantly, hasn’t) sent his way, and his own choosy discretion in participating," says Eddie Kim. "All of this is strange because Cho has proven, again and again, his talent and versatility in everything from American Pie to 2018’s excellent Searching, in which Cho carries the film as the hurt, obsessive father of a missing teenage girl. Three years later, Cho is back in his newest leading role, as mercurial bounty hunter Spike Spiegel in the live-action adaptation of the beloved anime series Cowboy Bebop. The series’ debut on Netflix has been met with very mixed reviews, much of it critical of the shift in mood and tone from the original animation. But people are glowing about Cho’s performance, which melds whip-smart violence with a sardonic weariness that informs Spike’s worldview. There’s a gravity to his gravitas that helps pull together the story and his partners-in-crime, Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir) and Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda). In one sense, I’m not surprised by the lukewarm reception — live-action adaptations of beloved anime properties have failed over and over again, including the 2017 flop Ghost in the Shell. But more importantly, it feels like another 'what if' moment for Cho, who has been let down in his career by machinations that are out of his control. Consider the cancellation of Selfie, the well-received rom-com in which he starred alongside Karen Gillan. The underrated show allowed Cho to stretch his dramedy skills while also being the rare Asian man love interest, but was chopped short right as it was hitting its stride. Then there’s his exit from Alan Yang’s critically acclaimed 2020 indie drama Tigertail — an unfortunate consequence of editing out an entire timeline in the movie, despite Cho’s allegedly beautiful performance. Meanwhile, there are all the roles that Cho simply didn’t get, in an industry in which merely being Asian can relegate you to diversity hires...What’s become clear to me, as a fan of Cho, is that he is ready for the next generation of Hollywood — an industry that, when it comes to representation, will have evolved beyond the dichotomy of whether or not to write an Asian role for an Asian guy. It’s a kind of post-race utopia that seems yet impossible to attain, but it’s clear Cho craves it."

        # TOPICS: John Cho, Netflix, Cowboy Bebop, Selfie

      • The Grammys expanded the top categories 24 hours before nominations announcement, benefitting Kanye West, Taylor Swift, Abba and Lil Nas X
        Source: The New York Times

        "The organization behind the Grammy Awards decided at a meeting on Monday — just 24 hours before this year’s nominees were announced — that the top categories should expand to 10 nominees from eight, a last-minute move that added stars like Kanye West, Taylor Swift, Abba and Lil Nas X to the existing slate of potential winners," reports The New York Times' Ben Sisario and Joe Coscarelli. "When the nominations were revealed on a live webcast the next morning, Harvey Mason Jr., the chief executive of Recording Academy, hailed the surprise shift as a way 'to make room for more music, more artists and more genres, and to embrace the spirit of inclusion.' But among the added names were some of pop’s biggest stars and people who were already on the ballot elsewhere. For album of the year, the two contenders added to the ballot were Swift’s Evermore and West’s Donda,”joining titles by Justin Bieber, Olivia Rodrigo, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, Doja Cat, H.E.R., Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X and Jon Batiste."

        # TOPICS: The Grammy Awards, CBS, Kanye West, Lil Nas X, Taylor Swift, ABBA, Award Shows

      • Insecure has always been a sitcom about sitcoms, television about television
        Source: The New Yorker

        "There is Insecure the art work, and Insecure the phenomenon," says Doreen St. Felix. "The show benefitted from the chatter in the late twenty-tens about television undergoing a 'Black Renaissance.' It was true, for a time, that (Issa) Rae was the only Black woman with a premium-cable series. But that statistical fact obscured what made Insecure compelling: its sense of history and community and genre. The series has always been a sitcom about sitcoms, television about television. It was not radical; it liked tradition. There’s no Insecure without Girlfriends. Rae employed a retinue of primarily Black writers and directors who gave the show a house style. And every season, except for this last one, contained a satirical show within a show. References were made to Living Single, Martin, Scandal. These gags clarified the ambition of this suave experiment: to gussy up the familiar with the aesthetics of the new. At the end of the fourth season, there was a 'twist' that many viewers found intolerable. It was soapy, critics argued, to tease another reunion of Issa and Lawrence, and then to introduce an unplanned pregnancy. Fair, but Insecure never promised realism. It was a risk, and an admirable one, to refurbish the tropes of romantic comedy. Still, Insecure could surprise. Some of the best episodes were references to Richard Linklater’s  Before trilogy: long, meandering dates, with L.A. glittering behind the lovers. Insecure” filled the hunger we had for a low-key Black comedy of errors. It could have remained comfort food, but as the seasons went along the storytelling matured. The characters changed; aspirations to Black excellence were refreshingly disavowed. The shenanigans alternately vexed or tantalized you. Were you Team Nathan (Kendrick Sampson) or Team Lawrence? Was Molly ridiculous for shunning a lover because he had once hooked up with a man? (She was.) You became dedicated to Insecure as you might become attached to a sport. The theme of this final season is growth. The episodes I’ve seen are funny, melancholic, and not too ambitious plot-wise. The gentle momentum suggests that the series will give us an old-school, satisfying closure."

        ALSO:

        • Insecure cinematographer and director Ava Berkofsky on how the show changed how we view Black characters: "I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to help create the visual language and style for HBO’s Insecure," says Berkofsky. "From the beginning, I felt strongly that this show deserved a look and feel beyond a traditional comedy. The show is so specific, and its complicated relationships and grounded characters made me a fan in season one, before I even thought about joining the team. In my interview to take over the cinematography beginning in season two, I figured I’d be very frank about what I would want to do, and then if I didn’t get the job, at least it would be because my ideas weren’t the direction they wanted to go. But then I actually got the job. Conceptualizing what I would bring to the show as a cinematographer, the important elements to me were creating a look where at its core DNA, melanin is seen and celebrated through lighting and style, supporting the intimate exploration in the show’s relationships. Even little things like keeping the actors’ eyelines close to the lens were vital so you can feel immersed in a performance. Incorporating the personality of the show into the visual language should be as specific as the show itself. There should be awkwardness, imbalance and intimacy, and the character that is South Los Angeles should shine. For me, framing is everything. When the balance of a frame is right for the moment, I just feel a sense of immense joy, both as a viewer and as a creator. On the show, I wanted the framing to add to the viewer’s experience without them realizing it and to share some of that immersive joy. The story themes are around people doing the hard work of growing up, relationships breaking apart and sometimes coming back together. Making frames that bring you into these stories comes naturally, and it has become a part of how I think about the show."
        • Yvonne Orji on how Insecure and real life has intersected: "I just had a conversation with my parents about estate planning"
        • Lisa Joyce discusses playing Frieda, Issa' well-intentioned but sometimes oblivious co-worker

        # TOPICS: Insecure, HBO, Ava Berkofsky, Issa Rae, Lisa Joyce, Yvonne Orji, Cinematography

      • Christine Quinn's Mean Girls villainy in Selling Sunset Season 4 falls apart
        Source: TIME

        "The problem is Christine has neither the gravitas nor strength to be a believable villain or a victim. And this is where the season falls flat," says Morgan Jerkins. "There is no one to root for, no one to hate, but everyone is undoubtedly exhausting." Jerkins adds: "If you are going to be a villain, you have to be committed. Kristin Cavallari. Nene Leakes. Tiffany 'New York' Pollard. We may not have liked them at certain points of their reality TV show careers but they were memorable because they committed to an archetype. Even when they were wrong, they stood in that wrongness, no matter what. Christine flounders: one minute, she facetiously aspires to dictate to her colleagues what they should wear on certain days (a nod to Mean Girls); the next, she runs away from even the slightest bit of confrontation, sniffling with not a single tear to show for it. She’s too wishy-washy to be a villain and too polished to be a victim. What we are left with is a replication of high school politics without an ounce of grit, or, dare I say, true meanness with a purpose. What made season three of Selling Sunset so memorable was that alongside the drama, there were other subplots that kept viewers on their toes: Mary and Romain’s relationship, Chrishell’s divorce, Heather’s desire to get married. This season has none of that and in turn, everyone is cheapened. It would’ve been nice to see how Christine is managing new motherhood after experiencing a traumatic birth, how Romain is forging his independence from his older, much more established wife or how even Davina is learning more about dynamics and boundaries since her mouth got her in trouble last time. But no. All we get is a bunch of finger-pointing with no one really being able to see it through with words, which makes one ask: are they afraid of each other? And if they were, wouldn’t it be enlightening, or at the very least entertaining, to see where that fear might lead?"

        ALSO:

        # TOPICS: Selling Sunset, Netflix, Adam DiVello, Chrishell Stause, Christine Quinn, Jason Oppenheim, Reality TV

      • Original Annie star Andrea McArdle exits Annie Live! due to a family emergency
        Source: People

        McArdle had been cast to play First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in the NBC live TV musical airing next week.

        # TOPICS: Annie Live!, NBC, Andrea McArdle, TV Musicals

      • Tami Roman kept turning down The Real World Homecoming: Los Angeles until she realized her castmates “were really the pioneers of the genre"
        Source: Los Angeles Magazine

        “So I felt there was no harm, no foul in going back to finish what I helped start," says Roman, who revisits the David Edwards blanket incident on the Paramount+ series. Roman, 51, had previously retired from reality after appearing on Celebrity Wife Swap, Marriage Boot Camp and Basketball Wives. Roman says Season 2 of The Real World was, like Season 1, ahead of its time. “We did delve back into race,” Roman says. “We did delve back into the abortion situation. We did delve back into the issues with #MeToo and that particular incident with David. A lot of people saw me get my mouth wired and deal with bulimia, body dysmorphia, and eating disorders. We talked about all that this time around. But with a more respectful eye.”

        # TOPICS: Tami Roman, Paramount+, The Real World, The Real World Homecoming, Reality TV

      • Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives celebrates what it means to be situated in a given place
        Source: The Atlantic

        "The enthusiasms of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives can sometimes read, in that way, as elegiac. Many restaurants—the sites of first dates and fiftieth, of meetings and reunions—closed during the pandemic," says Megan Garber. "Triple D is a reminder of what’s lost when they go away. But it is a reminder, too, of how much life there is in the local. The show’s 14th year coincides with a moment when Americans are finding small ways to reclaim a sense of place. The pandemic has alienated people from one another; it has also brought local communities together. New TV shows (Mare of Easttown, Dopesick, and many others) are exploring, with rich specificity, how their locations shape their characters. Nonprofit journalism initiatives are attempting to bolster regional media coverage to ensure that people have news that speaks to, and convenes, local communities. Triple D anticipated some of those efforts. It celebrates what it means to be situated in a given place. The spots the show visits are not simply settings or backdrops or pin-drops on a map. They’re home." Garber adds: "I love that Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives isn’t actually about the food. It’s a travel show, an exploration of individual places, as seen through some of the restaurants that nourish the people who live there. Diners have long doubled as symbols of thrift, of simplicity, of community. Triple D takes the symbolism one step further. It explores what the art critic Lucy Lippard called 'the lure of the local,' the notion that locations on the map have depth as well as width, functioning not just as places in the world but also as ways of giving the world its meaning. In a moment when many Americans are renegotiating their relationship with their local community, Triple D is a wistful kind of paradox: It is a national show that celebrates local life. The series spotlights the quirks—the accidents of geography and history and culture—that make one area of the country just a little bit different from every other."

        # TOPICS: Guy Fieri, Food Network, Diners, Drive Ins and Dives, Reality TV

      • Saved by the Bell is still very funny in Season 2, but it struggles balancing "whatever the hell it’s supposed to be"
        Source: The A.V. Club

        "It’s hard not to watch and wonder, over and over, who it’s for," says Lisa Weidenfeld of the Peacock revival series. "Is it for aging millennials with fond memories of watching the original in reruns as a kid? Or is it for the teens of today, who are possibly less invested in what happened to Joss Whedon, whose travails are mentioned? These questions are a sign of how much this SBTB functions as a show with earnest teen-oriented plots run through a machine of ’90s and early ’00s references. By far, the characters that suffer most from this framing are the returning members of the original show. The actors are endearingly game, but the show leans on them too much in the second season, and they’re the most likely to be stranded with overly sincere plotlines. Worse, they’re stuck with the impossible juggling act of landing storylines about what it’s like to be middle-aged and still obsessed with your high school years, while simultaneously apologizing for the shortcomings of the original series and being semi-cognizant that they lived in a sitcom. It’s an emotional spectrum that often proves shaky territory, although it does offer the hilarity of A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez), incredibly disturbed, trying to piece together whether or not he had a mom, since the original show only ever mentioned his dad. But too often it means the wacky hijinks get stopped to build a slow-burn reunion romance between Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkley Lauren) and Slater. It’s hard to get invested in storylines like this when it means time away from Mac’s ability to bend space and time, or from a sweet exploration of one character’s first same-sex romance." ALSO: Elizabeth Berkley Lauren calls the Showgirls shout-out "a sort of healing, because comedy can help you reclaim a narrative of sorts.”

        # TOPICS: Saved by the Bell, Peacock, Elizabeth Berkley

      • How To with John Wilson Season 2 isn't as great as Season 1, but it's still a quirky and surprisingly emotional
        Source: The Hollywood Reporter

        "With 'How To Cook the Perfect Risotto,' the sixth episode of its first season, HBO’s How To with John Wilson made a transition from quirky, affectionate oddity to one of 2020’s best TV shows," says Daniel Fienberg. "Plenty have tried, but no installment of TV has so poignantly and amusingly captured the discordant jumble of communal alienation that emerged in the earliest days of the COVID pandemic. That episode and its effectiveness came organically from documentarian Wilson’s particular brand of meandering inquisitiveness, but I don’t think anybody, including Wilson himself, would tell you that it was reproducible. That makes it not a criticism, but an accepted inevitability, that the second season of How To with John Wilson doesn’t feature an episode intended to be or capable of being the new version of 'Risotto.' And once you accept — yes, this is sounding a little like John Wilson-style narration — that How To with John Wilson hasn’t miraculously cracked the code to making the year’s best TV episode every single week, it’s easy to still appreciate that the show’s second season is generally smoother and more confident in its storytelling approach than the first; it’s less an unexpected treasure, but still capable of surprising."

        ALSO:

        • How To with John Wilson is a bit different with HBO investing more money into the show: "Obviously, it’s great that HBO disagreed and invested in this second season," says Myles McNutt. "And there is evidence to suggest they did invest in it: There’s a slightly larger scale to the proceedings, whether in the accommodations on Wilson’s trips beyond New York or in the execution of episode-ending stunts that brings some stories like 'How To Remember Your Dreams' full circle. How To with John Wilson will never be a flashy show, or rely on spectacle to tell its stories, but there are moments where you’re reminded that this is not just a man and his camera, but rather a man and his camera with the expense account of AT&T. It’s a productive tension in most instances, though, and the show is largely the same as it was in the first season. If there’s a change, it’s that Wilson starts approaching the autobiographical nature of the series from a different perspective, occasionally moving away from the day-to-day to explore chapters of his own past—including a surprising connection with another HBO documentary project—within his storytelling. It would be wrong to say the first season wasn’t personal for Wilson, but it was a slow-burning self-portrait, an introduction to his psyche that saw us learning bits and pieces about him as he spun his mostly impersonal stories. This time, with Wilson already a known quantity for returning viewers, we get what amounts to origin stories, snippets of his past that become more foundational to the stories being told."
        • Season 2 showcases more of John Wilson: "We get to know the man behind the camera more this season, and come to understand not merely his personality — conveyed through Wilson’s excellent vocal performance as charmingly off-kilter, as well as open in a way that invites openness from his subjects — but his ambition and his fear," says Daniel D'Addario. "The Albany anecdote, in which Wilson has a close encounter with a widely-known monster of recent true-crime history, gives us a sense of Wilson’s observational skills, his stubbornness, and his flickering need for connection with others. An episode involving a terrible film Wilson made in his youth conveys, with depth and surprising power, the fear of not having created something worthwhile, of putting one’s energy behind something and coming up short. It’s a powerful bit of tape, as is what Wilson ultimately decides to do with the remaining copy of that awful movie he made, a statement of powerful and abiding ambiguity. And that this is conveyed through understatement in the midst of an episode notionally “about” far more pragmatic questions is impressive. Wilson is a collage artist: Through found stories and intriguing counterpoint, he creates images whose power depends on juxtaposition."
        • John Wilson says he doesn't want to "George Lucas my stuff": “It’s such a strange thing to be finishing something that is locked at a very specific point in a time line, chronologically, in my life,” he says. “But I don’t want to George Lucas my stuff and constantly revisit and update it. I’m glad that it’s a record of a specific moment, even if it’s painful to think about how far you’ve come since then.”
        • How did Wilson deal with all the acclaim for Season 1?: "I really try not to let it get to my head and my day-to-day, honestly, hasn’t really changed that much," says Wilson. "I am still just in my apartment. Like if I’m filming sausages in a frying pan, that usually doesn’t change. But I don’t know. I mean people that I talk to in season two; some of them have definitely seen season one. And it actually helped a lot of the time, because there’s almost like this proof of concept now and they understand what the tone is in a way that they didn’t in season one. Like in season one, I think some people were kind of suspicious sometimes because they were only familiar with the kind of Sascha Baron Cohen (style), you know? And even though Nathan (Felder, show producer) is a genius and involved, his show is tonally different than mine, so it’s like when they look that up, they just don’t really understand how they’re going to be treated. Yeah, (that familiarity) opened more doors this season than I ever thought it would."

        # TOPICS: How To with John Wilson, HBO, John Wilson, Documentaries

      • Black Native Americans call out Reservation Dogs for failing to include their lived experiences
        Source: HuffPost

        "FX on Hulu regarded Reservation Dogs as 'the first show on cable television in which all the writers, directors and regular characters on the series are Indigenous,'" says Ruth Etiesit Samuel. "However, Black Native viewers felt excluded from the series, spurring conversation across social media regarding anti-Blackness in Native American communities and the complexity of Indigenous identity. With Season 2 on the way, many Black Natives are hoping to see their lives accurately represented on-screen and their voices heard in the writers room."

        # TOPICS: Reservation Dogs, FX on Hulu, Native Americans and TV

      • Ms. Marvel facing criticism for changing her superpowers that are linked to race and identity
        Source: The Daily Dot

        "Based on some early promotional art for the show, Marvel fans are theorizing that Disney+ will reboot Kamala Khan’s superpowers," explains Gavia Baker-Whitelaw. "Instead of being able to shapeshift and change the size of her body (a power that falls somewhere between Ant-Man’s technology and Mr. Fantastic’s stretchiness), it looks like she’ll have energy-construct powers like DC’s Green Lantern. So far, two pieces of leaked Ms. Marvel art depict this new MCU power...To most viewers, this probably doesn’t seem like a major change. It just means that Ms. Marvel’s giant fists will be a CGI energy weapon instead of 'embiggened' parts of her actual body. The problem is, Kamala’s superpowers aren’t just about punching. Her origin story ties into the comic’s exploration of race and identity."

        # TOPICS: Ms. Marvel, Disney+, Marvel

      • Daniel Dae Kim considers Succession and Squid Game as companion pieces
        Source: CNET

        "I don't know what it says about us, enjoying watching people be savage, whether it's in the form of a suit and tie, or whether it's life-or-death games of red light, green light," The Hot Zone: Anthrax star tells Cnet's I'm So Obsessed podcast.

        # TOPICS: Daniel Dae Kim, Squid Game, Succession

      • Seth Rogen and Nick Offerman's Pam & Tommy mullets don't appear to be historically accurate
        Source: Jezebel

        Apparently, according to Gabrielle Bruney, the "easiest, most direct way to communicate that Rogen and Offerman are playing a couple guys from the morally questionable side of the ‘90s is to slap some mullets on them."

        # TOPICS: Seth Rogen, Pam & Tommy, Nick Offerman, Hair and Makeup

      • Every Marvel TV show ranked, from worst to best
        Source: The A.V. Club

        Hulu's Helstrom is the worst, according to The A.V. Club, while Disney+'s Loki and WandaVision are the best.

        # TOPICS: WandaVision, Helstrom, Loki, Marvel

      • Yes, Steven Yeun knew his new movie The Humans would reference The Walking Dead -- but he didn't know it would be in the trailer
        Source: UPROXX

        “I keep seeing these ads for that zombie show on TV. It’s awful,” one character says in the trailer for the new A24 movie. Yeun says he raised concerns that "this is kind of weird" with the director, but eventually to go with it. But he had no idea it would be part of the trailer.

        # TOPICS: Steven Yeun, The Walking Dead

      • Succession is becoming known for its MIA characters
        Source: Vulture

        Actors such as Rob Yang and Judy Reyes come and go on the HBO series.

        # TOPICS: Succession, HBO

      • Ranking the Top 25 best Thanksgiving episodes
        Source: Variety

        Bob's Burgers and Friends had some great Thanksgiving Day episodes.

        # TOPICS: Thanksgiving, Bob's Burgers, Friends

      • Tia Mowry-Hardrict on not being part of The Game revival: "I’ve done that already. I want to create and leave space for other inspiration"
        Source: TVLine

        The actress tells TVLine there have been no conversations to reprise her Melanie Barnett-Davis role, noting that's been busy with other work. “I don’t feel like there is much else for Melanie to do and say," Mowry-Hardrict adds. "She’s had such an incredible story… Everything I do has a beginning and an end, and once that chapter is over with, it’s time to start a new one.”

        # TOPICS: Tia Mowry, Paramount+, The Game

      • Squid Game's large-scale use of CGI is jaw-dropping
        Source: Gizmodo

        Hyungrok Kim, a CG supervisor on the show from Gulliver Studios, posted a video showing just how much CGI was used to bring the South Korean hit to life.

        # TOPICS: Squid Game, Netflix, Visual Effects

      • Nicholas Hoult says The Great fans have a love-hate relationship with his character because "he's childlike"
        Source: The Daily Beast

        “He’s obviously horrendous in many ways, but also at the same time has such a vitality and weird wit," says the actor behind Peter III of Russia. Hoult knows that his character, who spent an alarming amount of time in Season 1 trying to kill his wife, could easily become “an all-out villain.” He credits The Great creator Tony McNamara for creating something more complicated. He also credits having Elle Fanning as his co-star, whose Catherine is just as complex. “It’s so beautifully balanced, what she does with the character,” Hoult said of his co-star. “It’s fun to be there on set, but then also getting to watch it back afterwards," he says. "I’m always blown away by the work she’s done.”

        ALSO:

        # TOPICS: Nicholas Hoult, Hulu, The Great, Phoebe Fox, Tony McNamara

      • Batman: The Animated Series seems like the only superhero series to escape the inevitable back and forth of popularity and backlash
        Source: Paste Magazine

        "So why has BTAS eschewed this cycle?" asks Daniel Dockery. "Aside from the fact that it is, as anyone who’s seen it will attest, a really good show, it’s also the series that would blend the macabre Art Deco Gotham City of the recent Burton films with a film noir-ish sensibility, making it look unlike any other show on TV at the time. After the 1980s, a decade when most cartoons mainly served as extended commercials for corresponding toy lines, Batman’s adventures were pulse-pounding and iconic. Heck, it’s the series that made Mr. Freeze interesting, and the one that birthed the character of Harley Quinn, who shot up the ranks of identifiable DC Comics characters in a way not seen since the 1940s."

        # TOPICS: Batman: The Animated Series, Retro TV

      • James Andrew Miller's HBO oral history book Tinderbox doesn't offer much more than 1,024 pages of amusing anecdotes
        Source: The A.V. Club

        "The massive, 1,024-page book is built on interviews of dozens and dozens of key players in HBO’s past," Bradley Babendir says of Miller's Tinderbox: HBO's Ruthless Pursuit Of New Frontiers. "There’s Edie Falco and Laura Dern. Davids Chase, Simon, and Larry. There’s executive after executive after executive. Miller did an exceptional job getting important people on the record and at length. That, unfortunately, is only half the job, and often the better you are at it, the harder the other half of the job—putting the book together in a cohesive way—gets. There is so much ground to cover, from 1971 to the present day. Organizing it all so that it flows well and gives readers the context they need is a gargantuan task, and Tinderbox doesn’t come close to fulfilling it. There are a number of amusing stories for fans of HBO’s biggest hits. A standout is J.B. Smoove’s account of his Curb Your Enthusiasm audition. He recalls walking in and saying, 'Okay, Larry, let’s do this baby, and since this is improv, I might f*ck around and slap you in the face.' But that story is quickly followed by a section that exemplifies the book’s flaws. Less than a page later, there’s a quote from John McEnroe about his appearance on the show. 'When I saw the outline, I thought, "How the hell can somebody even come up with this? This guy’s out of his mind."' That is immediately followed by bolded, italicized transitional text about a former executive returning to the HBO building because they were naming a theater after him. If you’ve never seen Curb or perhaps don’t remember the plot of a television episode that came out 14 years ago, Miller won’t help you. He never explains it. This quick gloss is not in exchange for depth in other areas. Little in this book rises above the level of trivia."

        ALSO:

        • If you’re going to read Tinderbox, prepare for a landslide of corporate history: "Students of power will find much to interest them," says Dwight Garner. "HBO had many stepparents over the years. Following these deals is complicated, like following the lyrics to 'There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.' In reverse order, Miller describes how HBO — the fly, more or less, in this scenario — has been sequentially consumed from 1972 through today: 'Warner Bros. Discovery rescued it from AT&T, which had gobbled it up from Time Warner, which had saved it from Time Warner AOL, which had somehow abducted it from Time Warner, which had shrewdly outplayed Time Inc. for it, after Time had outflanked Sterling Communications long ago.'" Garner adds: "Oral history is a strange form. It gives you a staccato series of micro-impressions, as if you were looking through a fly’s compound eyes...Miller is a good interviewer, but a corny writer. His interstitial material is mugged by phrases like 'oodles of ambition' and words like 'ginormous.' These really bugged me at the start. But this book is so vast that, by the weary end, these pats of cold margarine slapping me in the face were the only things keeping me awake. There are a lot of winning moments in Tinderbox. But wading through its nearly thousand pages I often felt spacey and exhausted, as if it were 4 a.m. on the third night of one of those endurance contests and I had to keep my hand on the pickup truck."
        • Tinderbox delves into Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall's "ugly" Sex and the City feud
        • Tinderbox also examines how sports played a crucial role in HBO's early years
        • James Andrew Miller calls Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Crown "the big three" of hit shows HBO rejected: "The Crown was an obvious one, but Mad Men kept coming up," says Miller. "They had the opportunity to read Matthew Weiner’s pilot, and I get into the whole story of what happened. Nobody can be in a position where they buy every hit, of course. But I think all three of those could have been on HBO. It’s very frustrating for a network when they turn down a show and it becomes a huge hit. There’s a lot of finger-pointing." What was it like for Miller to report on HBO vs. his previous oral histories of SNL, CAA and ESPN?: "There were some similarities — particularly with ESPN in the sense that there were a significant number of people who have been there for 20, 25, 30 years, so long that when you’re trying to do a book of record, they warmed up and were incredibly helpful across the administrations," he says. "The second thing is that, much like ESPN and all of these places, HBO started from humble roots where they were the underdog. Now in this post-Netflix era, they’ve gone back to feeling like they are the underdog and some of them relish that. As a result, there’s a real fighting spirit."

         

        # TOPICS: HBO, Breaking Bad, The Crown, Mad Men, Sex and the City, James Andrew Miller, TV Books

      • The Great British Bake Off is finally delivering a new season that isn't disappointing
        Source: Pajiba

        "I do not think the last few seasons of GBBO have been great," says Roxana Hadadi. "There was the very young season, in which the baby contestants did not know what lemon curd was; get out of here with that. Come back to me when you can whisk egg yolks and citrus juice together into something tart and viscous and magnificent and not curdled! And then there was the first COVID-19 season, which suffered from both really goofily elaborate challenges (remember the caged tart?) and what I perceived as very inconsistent judging. I didn’t agree with the winner last year, which felt like a course correction for the preceding year rather than a genuinely judged final, and basically what I’m saying is: The casting has been up and down lately, and Prue and Paul have been a sometimes strange duo. It feels like the show is editing out portions of judging, so people are baking more elements than we see the judges actually tasting, and the Noel and Matt pairing continues to wound me. Like, what the hell is this, man? These sketches are AWFUL. BUT. BUT. BUT. This season has been so good from the very beginning, and it finally feels like things have clicked. Like Paul and Prue are complementing each other as judges, rather than constantly going back on things they’ve said or contradicting each other. Matt has calmed down a fair amount since last season."

        # TOPICS: The Great British Bake Off, Netflix, The Great British Baking Show, Reality TV

      • Tiger King 2 introduces a new breed of shady character
        Source: Slate

        "What the first season of Tiger King had to offer its pandemic-afflicted viewers was a queasy but colorful cornucopia of grifters, sleaze balls, blowhards, dirtbags, idiots, and narcissists," says Laura Miller. "So it’s no surprise that the documentary series’ second installment—despite much more limited airtime for its incarcerated central character, one-time animal-park owner Joe Exotic—dishes out more of the same, at least if you can stomach it. This mess has attracted plenty of flies, and Tiger King 2 continues to document the never-ending squabbles of a bunch of shady low-life animal collectors and the unfortunate dupes who come into their orbit, while also examining the parasites drawn by the attention the first season brought."

        # TOPICS: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, Netflix, Documentaries

      • Federal judge allows attorneys to view Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice outtakes
        Source: The Daily Beast

        Four entrepreneurs who filed suit in 2018, alleging the NBC reality show suckered them into joining a multi-level marketing scheme, will finally be able to see MGM's closely guarded unaired Celebrity Apprentice footage.

        # TOPICS: The Celebrity Apprentice, Donald Trump, Legal, MGM Television

      • America's Got Talent's Nightbirde says she's "getting a little better" after cancer treatment
        Source: Deadline

        Golden Buzzer winner Jane “Nightbirde” Marczewski had to drop out of the NBC reality competition in August because of her cancer treatments. “It’s happening slow little by little, day by day. I’m getting a little better,” she told CNN's Chris Cuomo on Tuesday. “I did get a scan result back and a bunch of stuff that was there disappeared. A bunch of the big stuff has gone down in size so we’re on the way.”

        # TOPICS: Nightbirde, NBC, America's Got Talent, Reality TV

      • Teri Hatcher got help in learning standup comedy from a pre-Ted Lasso Brett Goldstein
        Source: Variety

        The former Desperate Housewives star, who will appear on Showtime's Even More Funny Women of a Certain Age, has been honing her comedy act by telling funny stories at small shows for the past five years. At one show years ago, she met Goldstein. “I had come from the gynecologist’s office and I don’t know why, standing and talking to Brett Goldstein — who is this lovely man but I didn’t know who he is because it was years ago — I start telling him the story about how I hadn’t had sex a long time and how I was potentially meeting this guy who maybe I was going to get to be having sex with but I hadn’t had sex in such a long time I wasn’t sure if it all worked down there,” Hatcher recalls with a laugh. “I went to the gynecologist with that in mind and I didn’t really know how to ask the gynecologist that question and I finally just said to him, ‘Does it look like a guy would have a good time in there?’ I really said that and he really backed away from me and he went, ‘Teri, you have a totally average vagina.’ Brett fell out laughing and said, ‘That should be the title of your one-woman show.'” The idea led Hatcher to try longer form material.

        # TOPICS: Teri Hatcher, Showtime, Funny Women of a Certain Age, Brett Goldstein, Standup Comedy

      • Dickinson creator shares her biggest influences, from Mad Men to the Czech New Wave
        Source: The Hollywood Reporter

        Alena Smith cites Vera Chytilová’s 1966 film Daisies as one of her favorites for being "feminine and disruptive at the same time." As for Mad Men, Smith says: “It felt like the new frontier of what TV could be. There were so many different characters who all had their own point of view and perspective, and you could attach yourself to any of them. It really felt like a literary world populated with characters.” 

        # TOPICS: Dickinson, Apple TV+, Alena Smith

      • Hanna ends as it started
        Source: Indiewire

        The Amazon action drama, whose third and final season is now available to stream, set itself apart from the 2011 movie it is based on with "its ability to sit with what happens to everyone who gets caught in a thorny thicket of high-level assassins," says Steve Greene. "Even at the show’s outset, when Hanna (Esmé Creed-Miles) was deep into the training that swallowed her entire childhood, the goal was more than survival. Season 2 of Hanna was the show’s greatest magic trick, giving Hanna the high school experience she never had at the secluded facility The Meadows, even if her classmates were all elite killers-in-the-making like she was. Season 3 aims for a similar kind of subversion as Hanna and fellow rogue Marissa Wiegler (Mireille Enos) try to protect the targets on a secret list of potential subversives. With the Utrax program still operational (despite the dent the two managed to put into it at the close of Season 2), the collective power harnessed and fostered at The Meadows is still capable of ending many lives and ruining many more."

        # TOPICS: Hanna, Amazon

      • Netflix's Hellbound is a horror series about belief
        Source: RogerEbert.com

        Netflix may have another South Korean hit on its hands with Hellbound. "The wrath of God has been rendered, cinematically speaking, in many shapes and sizes," says Nick Allen. "Sometimes it’s a perfect storm; sometimes it’s Samuel L. Jackson’s Jules striking great vengeance down upon thee with furious anger in Pulp Fiction. “Hellbound, an ambitious new Netflix series from Train to Busan director Yeon Sang-ho based on a webtoon (The Hellbound), imagines the wrath of God as three smoky gray, towering Hulk-like beasts that appear out of nowhere and proceed to throw slam people into cars, walls, anything really, as if they were chew toys. They splatter a human being's blood everywhere, trashing the environment around them, and then torch said target to a crisp. We later learn that this first (known) victim was given a decree by a floating face in the sky, who told this poor guy exactly when he was going to die and be sent to hell. But in one of the show’s many exciting intellectual ideas, this highly bingeable series is not about the terror of the monsters, but what would happen next—how so many people would lose their minds and sense of self, especially if such a literal force of wrath were rationalized as vengeance for our sins. The terror here is people, the opportunists, cult leaders, and blind believers who follow fear to the point of shaming others, hating others, destroying each other for the goal of earning God's mercy. Yeon’s series mixes this grounded horror with thoughtful discussions about how we define a sin, and what we as human beings are deserving of from such a God."

        ALSO:

        # TOPICS: Hellbound, Netflix, Yeon Sang-ho

      • Daniel Dae Kim and Tony Goldwyn are compelling to watch in Nat Geo's otherwise drawn out and dull The Hot Zone: Anthrax
        Source: The A.V. Club

        "After tackling the Ebola crisis in its first season, Nat Geo’s anthology drama The Hot Zone returns to reexamine the investigation behind 2001’s Anthrax mailings, which killed five people and infected several more," says Saloni Gajjar. "The six-parter offers a cut-and-dried look at the heinous crimes which took place in the weeks following 9/11. But the narrow approach is drawn out and dull, despite captivating performances from lead duo Daniel Dae Kim and Tony Goldwyn. The Hot Zone: Anthrax makes an effort to touch on a monumental incident that usually gets overshadowed in 9/11 coverage, but it still doesn’t offer a lot of new information. This is a linear retelling of the case through the eyes of FBI agent Matthew Ryker (Kim), an amalgamation of the agents who actually investigated the letters. No time is spent fleshing out the lead character beyond his passion for finding the culprit. Dressed only in sharp suits and a perpetual furrowed brow, Kim can only do so much to save a relatively one-note script."

        ALSO: 

        • The Hot Zone: Anthrax is about the fear of the infection at all: "In fact, the disease itself feels cast to the side," says Kristen Lopez. "Sure, we see a man fall ill with it — manifested onscreen as a lack of consciousness and sweating — and other victims are stricken with large lesions, but the sense of terror just isn’t present. What is present is a lot of government types telling people how scared they should be, especially considering the events happening so close to 9/11, and that’s where the more complicated elements of telling this story pop up, or are discarded entirely."
        • The Hot Zone: Anthrax straddles the line as a piece of didactic entertainment and full sail cable TV thriller: The six-episode series is able to recapture "the psychological disposition of a post-9/11 America and submerging the viewer within a whodunnit format," says Katherine Smith. "Lost and Hawaii Five-0’s Daniel Dae Kim anchors the series as Special Agent Matthew Ryker, a lead investigator in the hunt to stop anthrax attacks, with Dylan Baker of The Americans and Homeland fame playing his boss, Ed Copak. The choice to ground this season’s point of view largely through the lens of law enforcement has its advantages. The ability of deputized characters to transverse rooms and labs with authority also grants access for the audience to come alongside them and glean otherwise unknowable details. However, there are also notable drawbacks."
        • How Harry Hamlin ended up playing Tom Brokaw: "I just got a call: 'You have an offer to play Tom Brokaw in The Hot Zone,'" says Hamlin. "I said, 'Really? Is it possible to even play Tom Brokaw?' I said to my agents that I had to consider it, because it felt like I would be walking a tightrope without a net trying to do something like that. He’s someone I respect so much and he’s such an icon. I said, 'Is it even possible to do this?' But I like doing things that are impossible, so I said yes." Hamlin adds: "It can’t really be anything but my own version of Tom Brokaw, because I’m not Tom Brokaw. I cannot become Tom Brokaw, but I can create an approximation, which I did. I mean, the dilemma that I had was, 'Do I just play him? Do I just be me? Do I have to be the best Harry I can be, and then pretend to be Tom Brokaw? Do I try to find whatever cadence I can access and get as close to a Tom Brokaw approximation as possible?'"
        • Tony Goldwyn says the pandemic makes The Hot Zone: Anthrax feel close to home: "When we are frightened, we crave closure," he says. "If there’s a wrong done, we want to find the bad guy, we want to punish people. We self-justify and want to fulfill our image of ourselves as safe and secure and powerful."
        • Daniel Dae Kim says playing an FBI agent carries special resonance: "It says a lot of positive things that when they think of (who can play) an FBI agent who is leading the charge against one of the most significant terrorist attacks on our soil, he looks like me," he says. "That's a testament to who we call an American, and what we consider an American to look like." 

        # TOPICS: The Hot Zone, National Geographic, Daniel Dae Kim, Harry Hamlin, Tony Goldwyn

      • Kevin Hart Netflix drama True Story has a lot of potential marred by pedestrian writing
        Source: Indiewire

        "Netflix’s limited series True Story is a departure for star Kevin Hart in his television drama debut, as he wrestles with material that’s darker than his usual schtick," says Tambay Obenson. "It’s a commendable risk on his part that doesn’t fully exploit its potential to be the thoroughly engrossing episodic with a profound message that it probably thinks it is. While Hart and co-star Wesley Snipes, in their first onscreen matchup, make for a high-octane duo, the script betrays that effort with uninspired writing from series creator, writer, and showrunner Eric Newman (Narcos: Mexico) that doesn’t quite make darkness its ally, and leans too much on plot conveniences and a predictability that mutes suspense." Obenson adds: "There’s a sharper series hiding in True Story’s script that assumes its audience is just as sharp, and would relish a puzzle, with a message about humbly facing the consequences of the choices we make; or a take that waxes economic on what unchecked capitalism breeds in a world in which each character is driven almost entirely by greed. But the desired message conveyed seems to be that celebrity isn’t easy. Or, to quote a Notorious B.I.G. single that’s surprisingly not included as a needle drop in this very on-the-nose series, 'Mo Money Mo Problems.'"

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        • Kevin Hart can't get out of his own way in True Story: "Many of our greatest comedians have something hard and unrelenting under the surface," says Daniel D'Addario. "The pursuit of laughs can be mercenary; there’s a reason that standups, on a good night, will say that they 'killed.' Kevin Hart, never shy about his ambition, now brings the subtext of a comedy career to the surface. His new limited series True Story, a violent scripted drama executive produced by Eric Newman of Narcos and made for Netflix, is practically glowing with anger. There’s invective directed at the public, at the hangers-on that come with fame, and especially at the character of his brother. These resentments consume True Story from the inside, resulting in a potent testament to self-regard." He adds: 'This show epitomizes the post-Breaking Bad tendency to mistake extremity for meaning. Hart, a committed but limited actor, tends to indicate Kid’s anger through screaming, replacing shades of meaning with decibels. His targets include his tormentors from the world of crime, fans who treat him with glancing disrespect, and his ex and co-parent (Lauren London). It can feel as though Kid’s stressful situation — one that we eventually understand was not his fault — is an excuse to allow the character to tell off figures in his life. None comes in for more continual critique than brother Carlton, whom Wesley Snipes very effectively imbues with a long-suffering mien and a sense of perpetual calculation. Good as Snipes is, seven episodes is a long time to make the point that everyone around a superstar is on the take, and the suspense sags as the show’s game becomes clear. Given Netflix’s ample resources, Hart decided to tell a story in which to be a celebrity is to be a perpetual victim of haters, users and those who just don’t understand. Perhaps, though, that’s the cost of being extraordinary: The most revealing touch is that Hart isn’t just playing a comic genius but also a dangerous fighter and skilled gunman. The only move he can’t execute on True Story, it seems, is get out of his own way."
        • It feels like Hart is messing with us: "Here he is playing this character that is clearly modeled after the actor himself, right down to the story's focus on a brother with a rocky past. In a project called True Story, no less," says Adam Rosenberg. "He does seem to tell on himself, in a way that may speak to Hart's thought process in taking on this job in the first place...True Story is really a tale about the commodification of celebrity. It's a running theme in every episode, where someone wants something that they need Kid to provide. That's what leaves him scrambling to plug leak after leak. Kid's fame, and the way people walk into his life as a result of that fame, is the fuel for his own potential undoing as he struggles to keep the truth from coming out. At times the performance feels downright personal for Hart, who has faced his share of backlash over the years. When he snarls at a super-fan (Theo Rossi, in one of the more memorable roles) during one particularly fraught moment, it's not a long leap to imagine a similar outburst from the real Hart (or any high-profile celeb, really). And when Kid later realizes that he needs something from the same fan, his sudden turnaround into magnanimous chum is smoothly slimy in that way of falsely congenial celebs working a room at a press or fan event. It feels like Hart has lived at least some aspects of this story, and he's injecting those experiences into his work. That's how acting works, of course. But there are little quirks to the performance that make it feel a bit more personal. A character twist that strangely parallels Hart's life here, a deadpan stare into the camera there."
        • True Story begs for too much empathy for a character who brings nearly all of his problems on himself: "Hart is a talented actor, but True Story feels like it wants to keep pointing a sign in every other scene saying, 'Look how talented an actor he is,'" says LaToya Ferguson. "Hart is tasked with a number of monologues in every episode, ranging from faux deep and existential to self-righteous anger and frustration. It’s not that Hart is unable to perform these monologues; he does so, competently each and every time, which helps. But they do all blend together — especially coming from as unlikable and entitled a character as Kid — and feel extremely self-indulgent. For its seven-episode run, True Story raises the question of whether Kid is a sociopath — and based on what Newman told Entertainment Weekly, the answer is yes — but it never actually tries to examine that idea at all. In the same EW interview, Newman said that Hart came to him with a pitch that was essentially, 'I want to kill someone,' calling the project 'Crazy Kevin.' And so True Story was born. That may explain why Kid is so close of a parallel to Hart himself, but the concept doesn’t quite work — and creates the lingering question of why Hart would want to be looked at as someone like Kid."
        • It’s hard to shake the feeling that True Story exists because of what happened to Hart around the 2019 Oscars: "If you remember, he was announced as the host of the event but then forced to step down after some homophobic tweets and stand-up bits surfaced," says Brian Tallerico. "Three years later, Netflix has launched a series about a fictional version of Hart who makes some much bigger mistakes than the real one, of course, but the show lands in a tone-deaf place about cancel culture and how we never really know what’s going on behind the scenes in a celebrity’s life. It almost feels like 'If you thought my tweets were bad ...' Worse than the funhouse mirror reflection of reality is the fact that this drama doesn’t have enough meat on its bones for seven (eight, really, since the first episode is double-length) chapters of television, and the story it does tell never once feels, well, 'true.'"
        • Kevin Hart says he always knew he had a dramatic performance in him: “I was so excited about doing this because I know I got it,” Hart tells Variety. “I know the world of drama is there for me if I want to take it. If I want to go and do it, I know I can do it well, and I think the baby steps that I’ve taken with Upside (and) Fatherhood, it was about just slow walking my audience into going, ‘Oh, my God, like Kevin can act. It’s not just being funny. We know in the world of comedy and action and comedy and adventure, he can act. He does that very well. But oh, my god, he can do this, too.’” Separately, he tells The New York Times: “When it’s all said and done with me and my career, people are going to realize that I’ve checked every box. This is just to simply show, I got that. This is in my bag. If I get the itch to do it, I’ll create the thing to scratch it.”

        # TOPICS: True Story (Netflix Series), Netflix, Eric Newman, Kevin Hart, Wesley Snipes

      • Disney+'s Hawkeye turns the weaknesses of Marvel's least exciting Avenger into its greatest assets
        Source: The Atlantic

        "This may sound harsh, but Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, was never the most exciting Avenger in the Marvel films," says Shirley Li. "Next to near-invincible heroes such as Thor, Captain America, and the Hulk, he just looked ill-equipped, wielding a bow and arrow against monstrous aliens and killer robots. One of the original six protagonists in 2012’s Avengers, the master archer (played by Jeremy Renner) gradually became an afterthought, not even appearing in 2018’s Infinity War. But Hawkeye, the new Disney+ series, frees him from the pressure of appearing alongside his flashier colleagues—and, more important, frees his narrative from Marvel’s universe-expanding ambitions. Set in New York City the week before Christmas, the show, which starts streaming tomorrow, follows Clint as he teams up with a young archer named Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld); together they try to solve a crime connected to his stint as Ronin, the katana-wielding, vigilante alter ego he adopted in Avengers: Endgame. Since that film was released, the franchise’s scope has exploded, exploring new realities and dimensions in projects such as Loki and Eternals. Yet in Hawkeye, there is no bending of space-time or pruning of multiverses. Nor is there any wrestling with the legacy of a fallen hero, as in Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Black Widow. This show, at least in the two episodes screened for critics, seems to be squarely about Clint and Kate, and how these two regular people with impeccable aim can untangle a local conspiracy in time to unwrap their presents. Hawkeye’s story is small-scale in focus, but not in ambition."

        ALSO:

        • Hawkeye is loose, amiable and downright chill: "In the Marvel series Hawkeye, the stakes are low. Comfortably so. Cozily so, even," says Glen Weldon. "The planet isn't in peril (well, any more than baseline), and the multiverse doesn't hover on the brink of extinction. Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), the sad-sack Avenger, just wants to get home in time to celebrate Christmas with his family. The six-episode series (the first two episodes of which were screened for press), is small in scope, and self-contained, and the conflicts take place at ground-level. Nothing is dire, nor fraught with peril. The tone, as a result, is loose, amiable, downright chill." Weldon adds: "For lovers of the comic, the series nails specific aspects — the ones that count. Clint's demeanor, for one thing. Renner captures the character's (literally) beaten-down quality, his willingness to assume the role of punching-bag, if it means protecting someone else. Clint spent so much time getting banged up in the comic that he sported bandages in every panel — that aspect gets a nice shout-out. The comic's standout character — a one-eyed dog who loves pizza — is brought over to the small screen and is, by any reasonable measure, a good boy. Most importantly, the relationship between in Clint and Kate is faithfully rendered. The chemistry Renner and Steinfeld share is palpable, but — importantly — it's not sexual in nature. For the story to work, their two characters need to meet at a place of mutual respect and understanding not clouded by desire, either requited or un-. In The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the banter between the two leads often — too often — felt forced and leaden; here it moves at a fast clip."
        • Hawkeye is Marvel filler, like cheap socks or oversized t-shirt stuffed thoughtlessly into your stocking: "Merely there to take up space on Disney+, the first two episodes are so low-stakes and nonsensical it’s hard to believe they’re backed by millions of dollars and one of Hollywood’s most successful studios," says Ben Travers. "But then again, we’ve been here before — all year, in fact. Throughout 2021, Marvel has stoked the inviting fire of hope only to douse it with inattentive execution. Why should a bit of holiday trimming change Marvel’s way of doing business?" Travers adds: "All I want for Christmas is for Marvel to stop treating its TV shows like filler. After an intriguing start with WandaVision, Kevin Feige’s debut MCU entries for Disney+ have been erratic, at best. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier dive-bombed from a missed opportunity to outright infamy, before the overstretched Loki offered a few enamoring moments amid an onslaught of over-communication. Debating what’s gone right and wrong with Marvel’s transition to TV has followed a similarly long-winded journey, but it’s hard to argue every episode so far is indispensable; fans will be able to follow the movies just fine if they skip the Disney+ originals, and what does get examined in each six-hour show hardly feels worthy of all that time — which leads us to today. Hawkeye, the fourth live-action MCU series to debut on Disney+, has all the trappings of a sought-after seasonal present: an O.G. Avenger at its center, three Oscar nominees leading the cast (plus Better Call Saul’s Tony Dalton!), and a genre at least as popular as superheroes laced into its six-episode season. In case its not clear from Disney’s marketing, the photo above, or this merry introduction, Jeremy Renner’s first standalone story as Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye) is also a holiday story, filled with steady snowfall, family bonding, and more gleaming evergreens than you can count. Yet anyone expecting to unwrap an adventure on par with any of Renner’s past outings as the bow-wielding sharpshooter will be in for a blue Christmas."
        • Hailee Steinfeld dominates Hawkeye: "She sells the frustrated teen aspects of Kate – always pushing at her would-be mentor’s boundaries – and scenes as a horrified and powerless bystander to her mother’s (an as-ever underused Vera Farmiga) relationship with Jack as well as she does the blockbuster action sequences," says Lucy Mangan. "If the plot isn’t up to much – what little happens in the first two episodes is erratic and riven with holes that leave you taking a lot on trust and hoping backfill will begin soon – the characters are credible and worth a little more emotional investment than usual. Or at least MCUsual, although we are not in Wanda and Vision territory either."
        • Steinfeld's Kate gets to be prickly and confrontational in a way female heroes rarely do: "But her rebellion isn’t the empty 'don’t tell me to smile' Captain Marvel version; Kate feels real and relatable," says Rosie Knight. "She cares about her mother even when her gut instincts revolt against Eleanor’s choices. She saves someone we saw her verbally spar with earlier — and who may be a huge danger to her — simply because it’s someone her mother cares for. There’s a messiness to her that feels right. Kate breaks into the MCU in a way that feels organic and groundbreaking. She sets a new precedent for a generation of heroes who lived in the shadow of the Avengers, whose lives and losses were shaped by them. The ease with which she enters the already-overstuffed Marvel Universe feels refreshing. And her inbuilt knowledge of the world — because she grew up in it — frees the audience of exposition. Steinfeld is charming and rude, funny and heartbreaking."
        • Steinfeld hits the target as Kate Bishop: "Kate is, to go for the obvious rhyme, great. She’s good at kicking ass and not caring about names, and she’s obsessed with bows and arrows," says Kimberly Ricci. "Kate’s also someone who has all makings of wanting to be a superhero. She’s an enormously cool character and worthy of taking Hawkeye’s place in the MCU, should the powers that be choose to go there. With all of that said, the way that these two meet, and the relationship that they develop, and the quest that they undertake results from some convincing timeline patchwork. As well, there’s a lot of humor in this show with Clint’s “I’m so over this” attitude mined for laughs. He is so frustrated that he’s in this world again. And that’s fun, especially when he realizes that someone does or does not recognize him. As well, the city transforms into a character, and it annoys the hell out of Clint while he fights his way back to his family (and away from his past), hopefully before Christmas."
        • Hawkeye is too wrapped up in the MCU to find its own voice: "Hawkeye takes place during the December holiday season in New York City, an absolutely irresistible setting that immediately makes the series feel like something a bit different," says Caroline Framke. “Hawkeye also, however, takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame, and therefore has to weave the catastrophic events of that entire saga into the series for at least continuity’s sake. This proves an especially heavy burden in the first episode, which has to introduce Clint’s eventual protégée Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), update us on the status of Clint and his family, and make clear the show’s ties to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The series’ opening is particularly clunky about this as it reveals Kate’s origin story, not trusting its audience to figure out that Kate seeing Hawkeye kick a** might inspire her to pick up a bow and arrow of her own when she could just literally say to her mother (an underused Vera Farmiga), 'I need a bow and arrow.' More frustrating still is that, as Kate and Clint get deeper into trouble in the first two episodes (premiering simultaneously Nov. 24 on Disney Plus), the show fails to capitalize on the fact that they’re both expert archers in any of its initial fight scenes. Instead, we get the same bland mishmash of rock ‘em, sock ‘em punching that most any other superhero show could’ve included." 
        • This is the best we’ve seen Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton in the MCU: "He’s able to play on all the vital parts of his character—the family man humanity, the old curmudgeon-y grunts, and the dad jokes—without having to get lost in the mix with the rest of his A-list costars," says Charles Barfield. "Just wait until you see grumpy Clint Barton interacting with LARPers in the park. It’s just so much fun, and something that couldn’t happen to any of the other Avengers. And because we don’t have world-ending stakes, Hawkeye is finally able to use his fighting ability and trick arrows in a way that feels appropriate and badass. Credit has to go to the creative team (directors Rhys Thomas and Bert & Bertie, as well as head writer Jonathan Igla) for also taking advantage of the Christmas setting in the best possible ways. Unlike the pseudo-Christmas vibe of Iron Man 3, it’s clear Hawkeye is embracing all the joy and wonder of such a classic film and TV setting. Christmas songs, cold weather, lights in New York City, all of it are just spot-on in creating the vibe that works for this story. This just makes Hawkeye the perfect holiday series to play during holiday family gatherings to please just about anyone."
        • Hawkeye is a refreshingly low-stakes Marvel series: "If you think of the Avengers as an NFL team, Hawkeye is the equivalent of the field goal kicker," says Richard Roeper. "He’s the small guy who has a particular and valuable set of skills that can be implemented at crucial times — but let’s be real, he’s no Thor or Hulk or Cap when it comes to getting in the trenches and throwing down with mega-villains from far-flung galaxies. The Avenging humans who remain human, e.g., Tony Stark and Spidey without their suits, Black Widow, et al., are of course the most vulnerable superheroes. (Rest in power, Tony Stark and Natasha Romanoff.) So it is with Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton/Hawkeye, the reluctant antihero who wants nothing more than to retire the bow and arrow and live out his days as a husband and father to his loving family — but we all know that ain’t happening. This is the refreshingly low-stakes, earthbound (at least in the episodes I’ve seen) setup to the new Disney+ adventure series Hawkeye, which favors a relatively light and even comedic touch between the occasional burst of violence, with Renner doing a superb job of adding colors to the titular character’s personality palette. Especially in the scenes with his accidental protégé Kate Bishop (a wonderful Hailee Steinfeld), Clint/Hawkeye proves to be a classic father figure mentor: all gruff and 'Leave me alone, kid' on the outside, but instinctively protective and caring. It’s a terrific formula, and thanks to the crisp writing and the easy chemistry between Renner and Steinfeld, Hawkeye could have the wings to fly for a long time."
        • Hawkeye is the Marvel show that feels the most like television: "While WandaVision was essentially about television and its value as a comforting balm as well as a nostalgic distraction, while The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki tried to be, Covid restrictions notwithstanding, 'cinema in six 45-minute episodes,' this latest MCU miniseries is structured and paced like an old-school television show," says Scott Mendelson. "Hawkeye is, thus far, an MCU equivalent of 1980’s adventure shows, most specifically MacGyver. No, neither Jeremy Renner nor Hailee Steinfeld defuse a bomb with chewing gum or escape from a prison with duct tape and a paperclip, but the small-scale, gee-whiz sensibilities, as well as the core plot (Barton reluctantly helps a young woman in over her head and targeted by bad guys), but Hawkeye is the MCU show which feels the most like, well, TV."
        • Hawkeye is the latest series named for or associated with alpha males being reforged as a female fighter's story: "In the same way that Netflix's Master of the Universe animated series was not, in fact, about He-Man and Mad Max: Fury Road stars Charlize Theron's post-apocalyptic Amazon Furiosa, Hawkeye introduces Steinfeld's heroine as a wealthy young woman with a vigilante's soul," says Melanie McFarland. As she notes, "Renner approaches the whole hero business with a resounding 'meh,' which is his prerogative. Along the way he's been dogged by ugly allegations surrounding a custody battle with his ex-wife Sonni Pacheco, which he's either refuted or refused to comment upon, and still doesn't leave the most flattering impression. Neither have we been trained to expect much from his solo efforts, like his very basic acid-washed jeans rock or his starring role as an organized crime 'fixer' in the Paramount+ series Mayor of Kingstown, a 2003-era brood fest that somehow time-traveled to 2021. What does all this have to do with Hawkeye? Simple – it explains why a show named for the least of the world's mightiest superheroes works best as an introduction to the wonderful Hailee Steinfeld and her character Kate Bishop, set up via this series to inherit Hawkeye's mantle."
        • Hawkeye is a bland show for a bland superhero: "Appropriately for the most basic Avenger, Hawkeye is a simple, conservative kind of superhero show," says Gavia Baker-Whitelaw. "Set during the run up to Christmas, Clint (Jeremy Renner) and Kate battle street-level villains while grappling with private family conflicts. Unlike WandaVision or The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, there’s no attempt at high-concept storytelling. If you already love Hawkeye, you’re probably fine. If not, the show does little to flesh out Renner’s characterization. So far, anyway...To accommodate Renner’s characterization, Hawkeye flips the dynamic between its two leads. Now Kate is the messy one, while Clint is a mature authority figure who tries to keep her out of trouble. In other words, they reverse the comic’s subversion of typical mentor tropes. Clint’s family complicates the situation further because, in order to tell a fun story about Kate and Clint fighting Russian mobsters, Clint must abandon his real kids in favor of this new kid. Will Hawkeye manage to wrap things up in time for Christmas?? Who cares! His family life always seemed highly unconvincing."
        • Hawkeye is welcoming to newcomers in a way that other Marvel Disney+ shows, like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, have struggled to accomplish: "Any necessary exposition is baked into the dialogue or the setting, and the main narrative prioritizes character development and chemistry over intra-franchise connective tissue," says Angie Han. "You could probably enjoy the buddy comedy action beats of Hawkeye without much caring about what’s happening in the rest of the MCU, though all those Easter eggs can feel like pointed invitations to start."
        • Hawkeye gets off on too slow a start: "Renner is often a bit flat as Hawkeye, but he’s actually not bad here—he just hasn’t been given much to do," says Brian Tallerico. "The Marvel Comics versions of Hawkeye often allowed for a more cynical, wise-cracking character—someone who was not only the best athlete in the room but one of the smartest guys too—and it's like the MCU has drained him of some of that 'Wolverine-esque' charisma. He has a couple of scenes here, mostly with his kids and later with Kate, that hint that he could become a more charming lead, but only time will tell. With the possible exception of the scene-stealing, one-eyed dog Lucky (who fans of the Fraction/Aja comic will remember fondly and be happy to see here), the show definitely belongs to Steinfeld. It seems like the Disney+ shows are being used to segue between character phases of the MCU. The action of WandaVision will undeniably influence multiple characters; Falcon and the Winter Soldier was really about handing Cap’s shield down to a new holder; Loki ended with the reveal of a villain that will certainly be seen again. But Hawkeye made me wonder how much these 'transitions' are going to hold up on their own. Steinfeld could play Kate Bishop in a half-dozen more MCU projects and become a fan favorite, but that potential doesn’t make this introduction rich enough on its own."
        • Hawkeye is fun to watch because it's a Marvel series that doesn’t take itself too seriously: The contrast "between self-serious, cynical Clint and his more energetic and charming counterpart is what makes the show work early on," says Andrew Webster. "It extends beyond the characters as well. There are times when Hawkeye looks and feels like a gritty drama, like during its Daredevil-style fight sequences or when Clint is exasperated dealing with fans trying to take selfies with him in the bathroom. But it’s balanced out nicely because of all the more lighthearted moments. Hawkeye is at its best when it’s putting Clint, in particular, in ridiculous scenarios; at one point, he’s forced to participate in a LARP despite very clearly not wanting to participate in the imaginary battle. My personal favorite moment was when a group of mobsters start bickering about NY real estate when someone makes fun of their warehouse hideout. There’s even a dog who eats pizza named Pizza Dog (just one of many nods to Matt Fraction and David Aja’s run on the Hawkeye comics)."
        • Inside "Rogers the Musical," which was shot over two days in front of hundreds of people, at a local Atlanta theater
        • Marvel searched far and wide before they found Native American deaf actress Alaqua Cox: “Alaqua is one of a kind, absolutely,” says Marvel casting head Sarah Finn. “She went through a large audition process. … We were all rooting for her, from the beginning.” Cox says the Hawkeye team made sure she was comfortable in her first acting experience. “They knew I was overwhelmed being on set for the first time and provided me a lot of support,” she says. Meanwhile, Cox was informed midway through filming that she would star in an Echo spinoff series. “Hawkeye is my first experience of acting. Now I’m going to get my own show in the MCU? It’s wild,” says Cox.
        • Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld compare Hawkeye with their other ongoing shows, from Mayor of Kingstown to Dickinson: "I mean, I think there’s some similarities to that," says Renner. "Maybe take out the adjective extreme, or whatever. It might just be, you know, grumpy and tremendous. I don’t know. Yeah, there’s some lines that blur, but not that many. She’s just great at her job, and I’m great at my job. And then it’s a great character mix up. I think that there’s a great, wonderful need for these characters to coexist." Steinfeld adds: "In fairness, I didn’t really know exactly what to expect. I was actually in the middle of another project when I got the call for this one. And I just knew that I was going from one to the other, and I knew it was going to be completely different — as far as the role in the world that I was living in, to what I was, to what I was going to be doing. That much I knew. But I don’t know that I really necessarily could have prepared myself for something like this. It’s on such a large scale. I mean it’s a whole universe, right, that I’m stepping into that is completely established. And there was, you know, part of me that was like, this can be a little daunting, but I had some wonderful support walking into this and felt very welcomed and supported. So I felt like it was a smooth entrance into the MCU."
        • Renner and Steinfeld developed a bond on set like their “problem-solving” characters: “When there was a problem or an issue, we found solutions instead of focusing on the problem,” Renner says. “And that happened very, very early on. So it obviously continued, and it was great to have an ally to move through any obstacles because there’s going to be a ton when it comes to this kind of stuff.” Steinfeld also notes that they bonded over their busy lives starring collectively on four shows: "It’s been busy. We had that to bond over," says Steinfeld.
        • Hawkeye director Rhys Thomas was always interested in Hawkeye as a character: “He’s kind of always been the underwritten, underdog character in the Avengers," he says. "The outsider. I liked that. It felt like a good way in. Also, his story is so compelling.” Thomas, who co-created Documentary Now!, noted that Kevin Feige is a fan of the IFC documentary spoof. “It was funny because Kevin is a fan of Documentary Now!, which is always surprising because I assume no one actually watches a lot of the shows that I’ve made,” Thomas says. “Hopefully, the surprising thing they got with me is that I get really hung up on story. Yes it’s comedy, but story and character—I do like to take that quite seriously.”
        • Hawkeye executive producer Trinh Tran on why the show is more lighthearted than previous MCU series: "Well, as we were brainstorming and talking about the story a couple of years ago, we were trying to figure out how we can set this series apart from Wandavision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki," says Tranh. "And one way was to set it around the holiday times. Out of all of the characters, it made sense for Clint Barton’s story to be told around this time of year because he’s a family guy. He’s one of the few Avengers with kids, and after the fallout of what happened in Endgame — where he lost his kids for five years, became Ronin and got them back — this is the first Christmas that he’s going to be spending with his family. And the big question of the series is if he’s going to be able to make it home in time in order to do so. So there’s that big weight that he’s trying to figure out as he’s stuck elsewhere. He’s trying to deal with something that has put him on this mission and he has to figure out how to get out of it. And in terms of the lightheartedness, we wanted to show a different side of Clint that we haven’t seen before, in comparison to all of the Avengers movies that he’s in. And I find it so much more interesting that there is a version of Clint that is a little bit more humorous from the Matt Fraction (comic book) run. So we wanted to pull a little bit of that into the series, and we thought that Kate Bishop, out of everybody, was the perfect candidate in order to do so."
        • Why Hawkeye went all in on the Christmas theme: “I don’t think that it occurred to a lot of the MCU veterans that it was an immovable thing, because they’re very much used to having that shuffle ability. I remember there was a moment where it was like, no, it’s going to go by this point, and this sort of look of panic,” says Thomas.. “The Christmas thing? It predates me. The (Matt) Fraction run has a little bit of that there. It was like this organic thing. I don’t know if it was released-oriented or what, but the six days before Christmas run up was like an early hook. It felt like a great way of heightening the stakes, and also it felt very grounded to our human character.”
        • Hawkeye definitely looked toward Die Hard and Home Alone for inspiration: “There’s definitely that style in there,” says Tran. “There’s Home Alone, that I really love as well, too. Die Hard obviously has the action, has that character. So we looked at a ton of them. We looked at different Christmas music as well, too. But most importantly was also, ‘How do we integrate it and maintain that feeling that we’re after in all the projects that we have created?’"

        # TOPICS: Hawkeye, Disney+, Hailee Steinfeld, Jeremy Renner, Jonathan Igla, Rhys Thomas, Trinh Tran, Marvel