The House


The Tudors

If you don't already know what to expect from The Tudors, the credits will tip you off. Closeups of characters staring lustily into the camera are intercut with romantic pursuits through opulent hallways and a hefty dose of violence and sex. It's grand history reimagined as borderline-tawdry soap opera. The images recall HBO's similar, superior Rome, which recently ended its run. But by the end of the Tudors pilot, you're used to the fact that this isn't the next great TV drama. It's just old-fashioned trashy fun—a bodice-ripper that aspires to more but never quite gets there.

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TAGS: planet earth, the tudors, this american life


Lost

"The universe has a way of course correcting and—and I can't stop it forever."—Desmond Hume (Henry Ian Cusick)

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TAGS: adam horowitz, Cynthia Watros, dominic monaghan, edward kitsis, exposé, Harold Perrineau, jorge garcia, josh holloway, kylie sanchez, lost, recap, rodrigo santoro, yoon-jin kim


BSG

One of the great pleasures of long-form serialized TV is an episode when a long string of seemingly unconnected plot threads tie together to reveal something approaching a grand master plan. The build-up to these moments is often frustrating, and it can make even the most stalwart viewer question what he or she is doing wasting their time with a show, but when the payoff comes, if it's any good, it can be an experience unlike any other in art. Certainly a well-crafted novel or film can have a twisty plot that resolves in unusual ways in the waning passages, but neither form requires the sheer investment of time that a television series does. A TV drama can take a whole season of 20-plus episodes to unfold a story (or, in the case of a very few, the course of a 100 episode-plus series itself). With a novel, you can skip to the end. With a film, you know it'll all be over in two-to-three hours. With a television series, you're along for the ride for months to years.

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TAGS: battlestar galactica, crossroads part 2, recap


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TAGS: kevin tighe, lost, michael emerson, nestor carbonell, recap, terry o'quinn, the man from tallahassee


Calvert DeForest

When television was young, its performers didn't just call it television. They called it "TV land," as if to invite us into a mythical place where people exhibit behavior that has no equivalent in life—a world of agreed-on fiction, a place that only exists in flashes of light. One didn't have to be on television to be a part of TV land; one became a part of it by watching it.

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TAGS: calvert deforest, Larry


On the Bowery

Lionel Rogosin's 1956 movie On the Bowery, an account of skid row life that screens Friday and Saturday in a new 35mm print at New York's Anthology Film Archives, is a rare work that hasn't aged in any way that counts. Shot on location in the East Village when it was called the Lower East Side and thought of as a wasteland of fringe-dwellers, the movie is tough to classify. I've read essays that call it, variously, a documentary, work of social criticism, a documentary experiment and a drama. It's no mere reported piece, no matter how urgent its depiction of the drinking life might have seemed at the time.

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TAGS: Lionel Rogosin, on the bowery


Premonition

Despite trailers that make it look like every other thriller starring an over-30 American actress, Premonition, starring Sandra Bullock as a suburban mom who prophecies and then tries to prevent her husband's death, is a surprisingly strong movie—raw and lived-in, and just intelligent and honest enough that I wish it were great, or barring that, European.

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TAGS: Julian McMahon, premonition, sandra bullock


The Earrings of Madame De...

The Earrings of Madame de... (1953) is a beloved period costume drama, but in terms of visceral impact and camera movement, it's an action flick. Director Max Ophüls translated emotions into not just dynamic motion but the tension between abruptly shifting speeds, rhythms and screen direction and a camera pushing to keep up. Many directors' storytelling shows all the grace of a street brawl; this fight moves like capoeira. Ophuls's camera never lurches or lapses in adjustment; it always rounds out its movements with momentous fluidity. In La Ronde (1950), the camera waltzed teasing circles around its succession of errant lovers. In Madame de... there's a lot of whimsical waltzing, but the camera (generally on a dolly but sometimes riding a crane) dances in a dizzying range of styles.

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TAGS: charles boyer, Danielle Darrieux, max ophüls, the earrings of madame de...


BSG

As hard as it can be to say anything substantive about any episode of a heavily serialized show like Battlestar Galactica, it's practically impossible to say anything substantive about part one of a two-part season finale without devolving into a series of unconnected bullet points about what worked well and what didn't work well. From the looks of the first hour, however, (and I haven't seen next week's episode, which many critics say is even better) the show will hopefully tie up what has been a fitfully frustrating season into a cohesive whole.

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TAGS: battlestar galactica, crossroads part 1, James Callis, Jamie Bamber, mark a. sheppard, Michael Hogan, recap


Heroes

When the fall season began, no one put much stock in NBC's Heroes. The pilot was dour and slow-moving, following lots of different people through an unwieldy number of storylines. It had pretensions toward grandeur, but too much of it was filled with people moping about having superpowers, as if this were a normal reaction. It had a good action sequence (Claire the indestructible cheerleader (Hayden Panettiere) running into a fire), an interesting twist for a cliffhanger (the guy who thinks he can fly finds out that, actually, his BROTHER can fly) and, in Masi Oka's Hiro, the only character who seemed at all interested in harnessing his powers to do the world some good. It didn't help that the writing was often pedestrian and that the show's cast, while good, couldn't compare to the similarly huge ensemble on Lost.

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TAGS: andy barker: p.i., Andy Richter, conan o'brien, eddie izzard, Hayden Panettiere, heroes, jonathan groff, malcolm mcdowell, Masi Oka, Minnie Driver, the riches







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