“The Bridge” is awesome!

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The second season of the FX drama might be too ambitious for its own good, but the ride is still pretty thrilling.

In its freshman season last year, FX’s The Bridge was one of those series where you applauded the effort, knowing that its failure to live up to its potential wasn’t a real crime as much as a minor disappointment. It came from the FX stable — and no channel is even as remotely audacious these days. In short, it was a big swing that resulted in a long, majestic foul ball — if baseball metaphors are a thing that work for you.

As season two starts Wednesday, the appraisal of ambition has never been as difficult as this. Critics love ambition. The farther a drama wants to move itself from a rote Law & Order setting the better. Bold ideas, dark strands, thrilling creative reaches — that’s what we want to see. Not enough shows even try. Many that do, fail; some are applauded for their effort, others mocked for their lame-ass attempts.

The Bridge in season two is one of those shows where you want to sit down with it and have a talk. As in, “Look, we wanted you to aim higher and go bigger, but this is ridiculous.”

PHOTOS Summer TV Preview: 33 New Series on Cable and Broadcast [6]

Though, in season one, The Bridge stuck to the serial-killer template of its Danish inspiration (Bron/Broen) — about a murder victim left on a bridge that connects Denmark and Sweden — and admirably modified that for American audiences by setting the story on the U.S.-Mexico border, it seemed, even then, too murky and ambitious for its abilities. But unlike shows that clearly don’t have the talent to tell the stories they are interested in, The Bridge was a damned fine drama that worked on many more levels than it faltered, so each week was part impressive attributes and part failed dreams. In short, it was a series that was uneven but worth the investment, particularly because a course correction was assured.

Well, about that. Let’s discuss.

In many ways, The Bridge is better in season two than in season one, but for some reason it decided to triple down on the plot and make the whole thing a complex web of interconnected stories, with each story having its own dense motivations and only rarely — in the early going — having a clarity of vision that will appeal to viewers. That is to say that The Bridge is confusing, muddled, ambitious but stunted — a victim of the drive critics tend to applaud. There has been chatter that The Bridge is somehow like The Wire in that it wants to connect a vast and confusing world to a number of narratives that, though distant in concept, all relate back to the big picture.

One word about that: no.

There was never a moment in The Wire when the series didn’t completely and with full confidence know where it was going and what it wanted to say. That is not a series you compare others to without reservations.

It’s far more fair to The Bridge to say that it’s a series that means well. It wants to please. It wants to be A Show About Something Big. The performances of Demian Bichir as Mexican detective Marco Ruiz and Diane Kruger as El Paso detective Sonya Cross hold the show together — though last season’s ill-advised idea to not reveal that Cross was autistic made Kruger look, in the first few episodes, like she was over-acting. Still, the show works best when south meets north and the complexities of corruption and the will to prosecute intertwine. The Bridge also has decided to keep El Paso reporters Daniel Frye (Matthew Lillard) and Adriana Mendez (Emily Rios) heavily in the mix, because there are sub-stories to delve into there, plus Annabeth Gish. By making everybody relevant on some level, The Bridge can seem as complicated as Game of Thrones, but much of that is just trickery (or excessive plotting). Unlike Thrones, which manages to be compelling despite an ungainly cast, The Bridge seems to struggle more when it spreads out storylines. But that struggle isn’t readily apparent — meaning the notion is noble and the execution works to a point, until it doesn’t. You’ll probably come to a point in The Bridge where the subplots seem more burdensome than rewarding, but it’s easy to forget how many dramas take absolutely no chances. So, it’s hard to castigate.

All of this might sound like season two of The Bridge is some kind of mess to be avoided. But that’s not true. We are just beginning the second season of a very challenging series. It may not have the mix down just yet — and that constricts its success — but at this rate The Bridge will figure out what works and what doesn’t and then it may be able to ascend to the elite level it desires. Just because a show tries too hard doesn’t make it a failure. The Bridge may, in fact, pull off this crazy juggling act of storylines by the end of the season. Don’t sleep on something so audacious. But at the same time, hope for future days of clarity.

 

Original link here

Email: Tim.Goodman@THR.com [7]
Twitter: @BastardMachine

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Miss Breaking Bad? Try “True Detective” on HBO

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A southern noir serial killer murder mystery, following an odd couple of detectives who disagree about road trip philosophizing, and a story told by unreliable narrators, in two timelines, with meth dealers, satanists and some literary references, for good measure. So goes my attempt to sum up HBO’s True Detective in one sentence. It’s probably more useful to say that it’s a very good show.

Or more correctly, the first four of its eight-episode run have been very good. It is at once eerie, funny, occasionally frightening, a little obnoxious, strange and entertaining.

Our protagonists are two detectives, Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey), and the plot follows two mysteries, separated by 17 years. In 1995, Hart and Cohle team up to track down a serial killer with a penchant for occult spectacle, and the deeper they get into the case the more each man unravels.

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Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey play a pair of odd detectives in this southern noir serial killer murder mystery show

In 2012, Hart and Cohle, badgeless and battered, are interviewed separately about the events of 1995, and about each other. Two new detectives are investigating a new murder with similarities to the original case, but it’s obvious that they’re interested in more than comparing notes. The modern mystery is twofold: what happened to destroy Hart and Cohle, and what’s going on with this new investigation?

But neither Hart nor Cohle want to co-operate, exactly, and between their personalities, personal demons and the sticky plot, it becomes slowly clear they aren’t trustworthy narrators. Hart pretends to be a regular family man, abiding by the world’s boundaries. Cohle, who’s also a bundle of contradictions, has hallucinatory visions from a past of drug abuse and is obsessively self-controlled – even with his binge drinking, if that makes any sense. One plays dumb and the other plays smart. With each of them telling skewed stories, and the 1995 hunt slipping into the surreal, it becomes clear that there’s probably only one “true detective” meant to piece this puzzle together, and that detective is you.

And it’s great fun. McConaughey outdoes himself (again) at playing a captivating weirdo, and he makes his unlikely character convincing in all kinds of ways. His bleak, sometimes annoying proclamations (“We are things that labor under the illusion of having a self.”) are redeemed by brilliantly deadpan cracks (Hart suggests an evangelical tent congregation has moved, Cohle quips: “Tents usually do.”) and he plays a functional addict – hyper-self-aware and painfully tense – extremely well.

Harrelson, meanwhile, gets amusingly and understandably fed up with Cohle (“Let’s make the car a place of silent reflection”), even as he undermines his straight-man act. The banter is uneven and can verge on melodramatic, but Cohle’s witticisms and sheer awkwardness, along with Hart’s quiet moments of exasperation, usually make up for the flaws.

And like Cohle, the show itself can be delightfully and creepily weird. Director Cary Fukunaga lingers on bizarre bits of Louisiana’s landscape and finds clever ways to play with perception. (In one still scene, a ship, of which only the top half is visible behind a hill, slowly moves in the background, creating the illusion of the background moving past the foreground.) T Bone Burnett, master of Americana, provides all the right music: eerie drums in a desolate church, rangy guitar on the road and terrifying God-knows-what for a distant shot of a man in his underwear wandering the swamp with a machete.

True Detective may fail to reach the high bar its set itself – I didn’t even get to the allusions to Ambrose Bierce and Joseph Conrad – but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching. This story is a one-off for the writer, director and cast; no matter what, Cohle and Hart aren’t coming back after episode eight. Anything could happen.

But the show is really worth it for the tricky storytelling, the careful details and the strong performances (including from Michelle Monaghan, who does a lot with little as Hart’s wife). Don’t get me wrong, True Detective is grim, dark and occasionally pompous, but it earns every minute of the time you invest in it.

Orginal article here

Booyah! Craig Robinson is back on TV

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NBC has handed a series order to a comedy from “The Office” alum Craig Robinson.

Mr. Robinson” centers on a journeyman musician who gets a job as a music teacher at a middle school. While teaching the kids everything from rock to the blues, he simultaneously learns how to put the school’s rules to the test.

Peacock has given the project a six-episode order.

Robinson will star in the comedy, which was initially ordered to pilot in early 2013. “The Office” showrunner Greg Daniels was attached to the laffer last year but has since departed “Mr. Robinson,” Variety has confirmed.

 

Universal TV and 3 Arts Entertainment will project “Mr. Robinson,” with Mark Cullen, Rob Cullen, Howard Klein and Mark Schulman exec producing.

The Colors of Breaking Bad

The Colors of Breaking Bad

Graphic designer John LaRue has created an infographic that shows the colours worn by all the major characters over the first five seasons of cult AMC show “Breaking Bad”.
Colorizing Walter White’s Decay gives away a lot more about the characters’ moods than you might expect. Walt, for example, wears increasingly darker colours over the first two seasons, before moving on to more bold (or dare we say, confident?) colours.
While Skylar’s descent into her husband’s world is more than evident when you look at how her colours have evolved over time.

Click here for bigger image
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2014 NFL Wildcard Weekend is here!

The postseason is finally here. After 17 weeks the field is set, with the AFC Wild Card Round to kick off Saturday in the early evening. The Indianapolis Colts will play host to the Kansas City Chiefs, then give way to the NFC wild card opener between the New Orleans Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles beginning in primetime
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Breaking Bad’ creator Vince Gilligan on the finale

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2013 was the breakout year for Breaking Bad. The critically adored meth drama, which had enthralled a fervent yet modest-sized fanbase, went next level with its final eight episodes, rocketing to record ratings while dominating talk on Twitter and around watercoolers. Before the New Mexico dust had settled, the show also scored its first Outstanding Drama Series Emmy. For those reasons and more, Breaking Bad was named as one of EW’sEntertainers of the Year and EW critic Melissa Maerz’s No. 1 TV show of 2013, while season 5′s “Ozymandias” topped our Best Episodes of 2013 list. Series creator Vince Gilligan talked with EW about his year to remember,Breaking Bad‘s finale, the plans for spin-off prequel Better Call Saul, his upcoming guest spot on Community and the person he’s dying to work with.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Looking back at 2013, what sticks out as your most memorable day?
VINCE GILLIGAN:
 We were shooting on the To’hajiilee reservation, about 40 miles west of Albuquerque. I had finished directing the final episode the day before, so the very last day of shooting was a pick-up day, and [director] Rian Johnson was filming the [flashback] teaser for the third-to-last episode, “Ozymandias.” It would have been an amazing day regardless of the fact that it was the final day of 62 episodes, of six-plus years of shooting. Rian Johnson is an outstanding director, and he had a fantastic script written by Moira Walley Beckett, and the two of them knew exactly what they needed for the day’s work, and therefore I could relax. I could wander around with my camera taking pictures. As fans of Breaking Bad have seen, To’hajiilee looks a fair bit like a miniature Monument Valley. I spent a good chunk of the day climbing beautiful rock formations and shooting pictures of them. It was a very bittersweet day, because we all knew that was the end of an era for us. … It’s surprising how little I actually watched of the shooting that day, because I knew it was in good hands. But when I did watch Bryan [Cranston] and Aaron [Paul], it was a very strange experience, because we had been through more than six years with these characters, and the characters had evolved so much, and physically looked so different than they did in the beginning of it all. And we were shooting in a place we had shot in six years earlier on the pilot, and our characters were made up to look as they did way back when. It felt like we had stepped through a time warp. It really was an extraordinary experience for us, and I can think of no better day in any year that, without a doubt, has been my most special year of my life. I’ve never had a better year in my life than 2013. Thirteen is now my new lucky number.

Read more at Entertainment Weekly