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Community leans slightly serious again to explore male bonding [Recap: season 5, episode 7]

The fifth season of Community isn’t breaking new ground, but it’s a perfectly satisfying addition to a catalogue of episodes that now breaks down into a number of categories. Right now, I think there’s a bit of a gradient along which episodes fall: Conceptually ambitious and serious (“Virtual Systems Analysis,” “Critical Film Studies”), the lightly serious (“Mixology Certification”), the lightly comedic (“Introduction To Teaching,” basically most of the first season), and the structurally adventurous joke factories (“Epidemiology,” “Paradigms Of Human Memory,” “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics”).

Episodes fall into or between those categories, but largely that’s what the show is working with at this point. “Bondage And Beta Male Sexuality” falls into that second list. It’s not structurally overambitious, nor is it a consistent laugh-fest. But it’s an earnestly serious episode with many laughs examining two male relationships—a pair of old friends out of touch and a student/teacher interaction—that haven’t been featured previously on the show.

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Justified’s fifth season reaches the midpoint by firing a round of narrative buckshot [Recap: season 5, episode 7]

As Boyd and Johnny Crowder sit outside of a Mexican cartel house south of the border, hands zip-tied behind their backs, Boyd’s “silver tongue” doesn’t talk his way out of the predicament he set up, but he does offer some sage advice about the criminal life he and his cousin have chosen. He says he made peace with the idea that his lifestyle wouldn’t allow for him to have a peaceful death at the end of a long natural life. That’s the risk entailed in attempting to make a better life through ill-gotten gains instead of working in the coalmines.

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Iconic film/TV characters 'shooped with tattoos

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Cheyene Randall's Tumblr of "Shopped Tattoos." (Thanks, Gil Kaufman!)

True Detective drops more hints about the possible identity of the Yellow King [Recap: season 1, episode 6]

Kevin McFarland reviews episode 6 in season 1 of HBO’s crime drama “True Detective,” starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. If you’re new to the show, start with our introduction here. This post contains spoilers.

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The sanitized "more killing, less gore" world of PG-13 remakes

Our standards betray us, leading to action movies (particularly remakes of Paul Verhoeven's) which "trade subversive carnage for sanitized violence that asks fewer moral questions." James Orbesen:

"Research has shown that depicted violence does not necessarily lead to real-world violence. But depicted violence can say a lot about the appetites and attitudes of audiences. The Verhoven approach—bloody, unsettling, and confrontational—seems more and more like a relic. What people want now is violence that is clean and quick, provoking no questions."

The evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing

Great stuff from Jimmy Fallon and Will Smith on the former's first time in charge at The Tonight Show. The best line from the new king: "I'll be your host ... for now." [YouTube]

HBO's 'True Detective' is getting weirder, and we are on it: intro to the series and weekly recaps at Boing Boing


HBO.

"What separates HBO's crime drama True Detective from other series that obsessively catalogue dead female bodies or attempt to find the human side of serial killers is the show's ambition in style and scope," writes our reviewer Kevin McFarland.

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True Detective barrels into the darkness of new cross-genre territory. TV recap: 'The Secret Fate of All Life,' S1 Ep. 5

Kevin McFarland reviews episode 5 in season 1 of HBO’s crime drama “True Detective,” starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. If you’re new to the show, start with our introduction here. This post contains spoilers.

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House of Cards, US vs UK editions

2013's House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey as a ruthless politician on his way to the top, was based upon 1990's House of Cards, starring Ian Richardson as a ruthless politician on his way to the top. They are both brilliant shows (catch a scene from the earlier version above), and an excellent illustration of the differences between American and British politics, drama and humor.

The comparison between the U.S. and U.K. versions of this program shows something about why I feel so profoundly American (rather than British), but also why the Brits excel at just this kind of thing. There are lots of tough breaks in Kevin Spacey's House of Cards, but in the end there is a jauntiness to it. People kill themselves; politicians lie and traduce; no one can be trusted -- and still, somewhere deep it has a kind of American optimism. That's us (and me). USA! USA! It's different in the UK version. Richardson's Francis Urquhart reminds us that his is the nation whose imagination produced Iago, and Uriah Heep, and Kingsley Amis's "Lucky Jim" Dixon. This comedy here is truly cruel -- and, one layer down, even bleaker and more squalid than it seems at first.

Both editions are on Netflix—the UK one is only a four-hour miniseries, too.

Justified cools off with an episode that moves in circles [Recap: season 5, episode 6]

Delaying the resolution of a cliffhanger can be tricky business. It risks rendering the previous chapter less enthralling, taking credit for a sometimes unexpected leap in the plot, and disappointing viewers by feinting one way then pulling back on boldness.

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Shirley Temple, RIP

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Shirley Temple Black, child movie star and adult diplomat, has died. She was 85. Above, Temple sings "On the Good Ship Lollipop" in the 1934 film Bright Eyes. (New York Times)

Star Trek Continues, episode 2

The fan series Star Trek Continues, well, continues with episode 2, titled "Lolani." Lou Ferrigno guest stars! "A survivor from a distressed Tellarite vessel pulls Captain Kirk and his crew into a moral quandary over her sovereignty." Below is episode 1, "Pilgrim of Eternity."

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A masterful long take brings True Detective to its midpoint [Recap: “Who Goes There,” S1 Ep4]

Kevin McFarland reviews the fourth episode of HBO’s crime drama “True Detective,” starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. Contains spoilers. If you’re new to the show, start with our introduction here.

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Here’s what you’ve been missing on HBO’s True Detective

What separates HBO’s crime drama True Detective from other series that obsessively catalogue dead female bodies or attempt to find the human side of serial killers is the show’s ambition in style and scope.

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A brilliant Justified strings together seemingly infinite conflicts in a pressure cooker [Episode 5 recap]

There are few shows that know how to tell an audience right off the bat they will not be messing around on a given night better than Justified. In the first four episodes of this season, Lee Paxton would have wondered about Boyd’s death, stewed about it for 10 minutes of screen time while other schemes commenced, leading up to a final turn that reveals Boyd is still alive—before kicking the narrative can down the road to another episode for the fireworks. But not this week; Boyd has decided to embrace the ego that says he’s still Boyd Crowder, the rightful criminal ruler of Harlan County, hangers-on and high-class pushers be damned. He’s ready for action, so when Lee Paxton pulls that lamp chain, there’s Boyd, sitting in a bedroom chair, a deadly snake with a venomous snake ready to deliver unto Paxton an impassioned final monologue:

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