Tag Archives: PBS

CNN Reimagined

AKIE BERMISS: I’ve recently adopted a new coping mechanism for all the terrible news programs out there.  I now categorized my news sources in three basic groups.  There is the “What Is Happening” category – which is purely informative.  No…

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Presidential Debate Moderators

AKIE BERMISS: Presidential election years are the World Cup of American politics.  For many people who don’t follow politics 75% of the time, it is the only year in which they really care about who is doing what.  Its when…

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Downton Abbey: Week 5

SONIA BRAND-FISHER Not one of my favorite episodes of “Downton Abbey” this week, for multiple reasons. It kind of felt like the second episode of the season for me, where plots were started and stopped, nothing really gets resolved, and we are all just left hanging until more chaos ensues and decides to further the plot.

ZOË RICE: My thoughts as Downton’s opening credits flicked from room to room ran along the lines of, “Please let Matthew have sex again!” And as the closing credits rolled, they turned more to, “Huh, okay…?” This week’s episode was something of a place holder – the set up for what we can only anticipate will be a whirlwind of tumult.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Oh, good. I thought I was the only one disappointed by this episode. Safety in numbers. Continue reading

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Downton Abbey: Week 4

SONIA BRAND-FISHER When scandal strikes on “Downton Abbey,” we are intrigued and enthralled to be caught up in the frivolous exhilaration. Even when something as wild as Branson’s attempted vandalism happens at the dinner table or when Thomas sobs at the suicide of a blind soldier, we watch from afar, curious yet hopelessly invested. Episode 4, however, brought us closer into the tragedies of the household that were articulated with so much intimacy and humanity that at times it was very difficult to be a part of. This episode took us out of our cozy roles as observers and into the depths of Downton, all the way to the end of the South Gallery, behind white curtains, and into the hearts of the inhabitants.

ZOË RICE: And so this week the camera doesn’t cut away when Matthew and William face their gravest peril yet. Instead we see them lying seemingly lifeless on the battlefield. With that, this season’s most gripping episode of Downton yet is underway.

MICHAEL CUMMINGS: I swear for a minute there I almost thought Julian Fellowes was trying out material for the tragically as-yet-unplanned Star Wars Episode VII post-quel. First, Lady Mary and Daisy started feeling disturbances in the Force when their men took shrapnel at the front. Then, the radical chauffeur reminded the cute daughter to be more mindful of her feelings. Later, Captain Crawley and William (requiescat in peace, by the way) threw down in an epic Darth Vader egg-off. At that point I was honestly expecting to see a 1138 Easter Egg pop up somewhere.

HOWARD MEGDAL: So much to love about this week’s episode. My fellow reviewers have touched on the larger points, and I largely agree. It is almost impossible to imagine that Matthew, whose entrances have provided so much of the show’s lifeblood, will now be a forlorn figure in a wheelchair. Perhaps they can split the difference and give him an FDR persona, but betting on a misdiagnosis seems wise. Continue reading

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Reflections on Go the Fuck to Sleep.. the Movie!

MATTHEW DAVID BROZIK: “Then the movie studios came a-calling, with Fox 2000 snapping up rights to the film version. Mr. Mansbach didn’t offer to write the screenplay, mainly because he has no idea how it could be done.”

CHRIS PUMMER: There’s probably no lack of possible directions for a Go the Fuck to Sleep movie. Nightly attempts to wrangle two toddlers into bed in my home sometimes turn out to be comedies, tragedies, action-adventure psychological thrillers. Continue reading

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75 Percent Involved in the Arts?

AKIE BERMISS: I love the National Endowment for the Arts. I have loved them since childhood. My home was an NPR and PBS-centric household. There was hardly a day that went by that I didn’t hear about how the National Endowment for the Arts was supporting something I watched or listened to. You could say that from an early age I was involved in the arts. Such was my upbringing. My parents emphasized not only core academics such as reading and arithmetic, but also an appreciation of various types of performance and fine arts. Also a hunger for knowledge (can’t tell you how many family dinners were spent watching NOT primetime television of the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour on PBS) and healthy debate. In the end, I became an artist. And, make no mistake, I give the NEA a ton of credit for it. But when a recent study from the NEA states that 75% of Americans feel that they “participate” in the arts — I have to question the evidence.

HOWARD MEGDAL: The answer here is simple: we haven’t seen a massive increase in arts participation. We’ve seen a systemic defining down of what constitutes arts participation. I mostly blame grandparents. Continue reading

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Downton Abbey Review

HOWARD MEGDAL: There was plenty to enjoy in the series premiere of Downton Abbey last week on PBS, though the program itself is less great art and more high-level soap opera, with the feel of “Big Love”, though with the accents, and occasionally the wit, of the far superior “The King’s Speech”.

ZOË RICE: What would the BBC and PBS do without British period dramas? I admit I have probably seen every single one. And here I see more in Downton Abbey than the plot intrigue of a noble family and its estate thrown into turmoil by the loss of its male heirs. The miniseries is Sense and Sensibility meets Upstairs Downstairs, and because it’s set in the 20th century, it’s also a peek into a different kind of turmoil for the landed classes: modernization. Continue reading

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Ken Burns’ The Tenth Inning

HOWARD MEGDAL: I’ve spent the past two days considering why, despite covering more recent territory, the latest edition of Ken Burns’ documentary Baseball felt more remote. And I think the answer is a change in the way he told the story.

THOMAS DELAPA: The extra inning of Ken Burns’ winning Baseball series felt less like a fall classic than a classic forties film noir: A foul sense of doom and gloom was ever lurking on-deck, despite the two decades of on-field drama and brilliant heroics. The lurking gloom, of course, was steroids, Major League Baseball’s crippling scandal that made the Black Sox cheaters look like bush leaguers.

STEPHON JOHNSON: We live in an era where everyone re-contextualizes an event within minutes of its occurence. Despite the obvious difficulties in painting a picture and telling a story, Burns succeeds with The Tenth Inning. Continue reading

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The State of TV

THOMAS DELAPA: Dazed and discontented viewers may well ask who took the “vision” out of television. It’s become our national id, where egos rule. But in an increasingly insular, home-theater society that wants its TV and MTV, nobody today is yelling “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going take this anymore.” Resistance seems programmed to fail. Like Chauncey Gardiner, the numbed voyeur of Being There, Americans like to watch.

NAVA BRAHE: Howard, I’ll give you The Daily Show, but I will not concede my belief that after The Sopranos finished, TV ended; at least for me.

JASON CLINKSCALES: I love television. I probably love it more because I’m the one who pays the cable bill, but I love it nonetheless. What I don’t love is how we talk about television. Continue reading

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