Submit a link Features Reviews Podcasts Video Forums More ▾

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.

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

Star Trek: TOS panties


Thinkgeek's Star Trek TOS panties are steeped in the romance of a bygone era of space-exploration (there's also matching boxers). The mix-n-match possibilities are endless: "doomed redshirt and sympathetic medical officer"; "arrogant captain and standoffish (but secretly intrigued) Vulcan science-officer) -- I could go on.

Star Trek TOS 3-pack Panties

Scalzi's Redshirts coming to TV

John Scalzi's Hugo-winning, existentialist comedy space opera novel Redshirts is being adapted into a TV series by FX -- it's a natural! This is just wonderful news -- intelligent, funny science fiction from a novelist who plays with the tropes of the field, it's just what TV needs. Congrats, John!

Here's my review of Redshirts: "Redshirts both realizes and transcends its premise, and is at once a tribute to, and a piss-take on, the best and worst that space opera has to offer. It's the sort of thing that science fiction is especially good at, and the sort of thing for which Scalzi is justifiably loved."

Read the rest

'H.R. Pufnstuf,' the complete 1969 television series

Sid and Marty Krofft brought us some of the best television ever. While we can debate which of their fantastic, trippy, off-beat explosions of color should be regarded as 'best,' H.R. Pufnstuf remains at or near the very top of any list.

Gullible 11 year-old Jimmy ignorantly gets in a strange boat with his magic flute. Lo and behold, who sent that boat his way? None other than that wacky old witch, Witchiepoo, that's who! With a wave of her wand, Jimbo's pleasure cruise is over, and the boat attacks him! Luckily, H.R. Pufnstuf, fashionable Mayor of the Living Island, is on the scene. With his reliable deputies Cling and Clang, Pufnstuf rescues Jimmy and a famous friendship is born.

Read the rest

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:

Read the rest

Entire run of Seinfeld: $59 for 33 discs


The 33-disc, nine-season box set of the complete run of Seinfeld is $59 on Amazon right now. (via Super Punch)

Community: “Analysis Of Cork-Based Networking” [Recap season 5 episode 6]

 

With Pierce’s essence preserved in an energon pod and Troy off circumnavigating the world in a sailboat with LeVar Burton, the cast of Community has thinned out. And instead of another madcap theme episode or a special meta-commentary on death or saying goodbye to friends, Community can now get back to its own special kind of normal. Too much philosophizing can get distracting, so it’s nice that this week shifts to the joke-a-minute pace within a plot that explores the Greendale underbelly as a reflection of the real-world political favors needed to accomplish even the simplest task.

“Analysis Of Cork-Based Networking” divides rather easily into three discrete plots with just a hint of overlap; so this review breaks down to follow that organizing principle.

Read the rest

Weatherman knees prankster raining on his parade

Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore takes care of a jokester attempting to disrupt his on-the-scene report. (Vine)

What do we always say is the most important thing on Justified? Family. [Recap, s5 ep4]

And so, without any immediate family left in town, Raylan Givens gets drawn back to Harlan because of poor, stupid Wade Messer. He’s one of the dumber men who tried to kill Raylan, but also one of the few who nearly succeeded, conspiring with Dickie Bennett to string Raylan up in a tree for torturing. So it’s not surprising that Raylan greets news that the U.S. Attorney’s office used Messer as a Confidential Informant with contempt, both at the choice and that he wasn’t told.

Read the rest

Community: Lava World confronts the imminent departure of Troy Barnes [Recap, season 5 episode 5]

How do you say goodbye to someone you love? Do you shake a hand, give a hug, and then get it over with? Do you write an epically long letter and leave it under the windshield wiper of a car and hope it’ll get read?  Or do you create an elaborate party game designed as a mental coping mechanism and stall tactic to deny that you ever really need to say goodbye at all?

“Geothermal Escapism” is essentially a Community paintball episode without the paintball, and without the external conflict of an invading rival school. In fact, it’s an even more juvenile version of those episodes, since “Hot Lava” is a game for little kids (and the occasional freshman dorm), and the logic behind the game starting stems from Dean Pelton’s affinity for the study group, as opposed

Read the rest

Animal Planet's "nature" shows: whistleblowers detail crimes, animal cruelty, fakery

Mike from Mother Jones writes, "Mother Jones' James West looks into the dark side of the network's turn toward wildlife reality TV, and uncovers some disturbing revelations about a hit show. It boils down to this, West writes: 'The raccoon incident is just one of numerous instances on 'Call of the Wildman' sets of alleged animal mistreatment and possible infringements of state and federal law, the result of what sources describe as cavalier and neglectful production practices. A seven-month Mother Jones investigation -- which drew on internal documents, interviews with eight people involved with the show's production, and government records -- reveals evidence of a culture that tolerated legally and ethically dubious activities, including: using an animal that had been drugged with sedatives in violation of federal rules; directing trappers to procure wild animals, which were then 'caught' again as part of a script; and wrongly filling out legal documents detailing the crew's wildlife activities for Kentucky officials.'"

Read the rest

On Justified, Raylan keeps causing more trouble than he fixes [Recap]

Raylan Givens has trust issues. I don’t mean that in the conventional sense, although he does seem to exist as an island too remote for any permanent bridge to reach. Raylan’s problem is that he’s tempted to trust too much, and the implications of his trust suggest that he’s waiting for people to disappoint him so that he can intervene in the most macho way possible that allows him to channel his innate anger and violence into his work.

Read the rest