The list of potential new Daily Show hosts just got smaller.
Bee will host a new comedy series for the network that's described as "a platform for Bee to apply her smart and satirical point of view to current and relevant issues." The show is currently in the early stages of development.
Bee and Jones will both serve as executive producers on Bee's new series, the couple's second at TBS. They are also executive-producing the untitled scripted family comedy that Jones will star in, which was inspired by their own experiences.
"We're thrilled to have Sam join Jason at TBS and really make this a family affair. We actually have their kids coming in next week to pitch us animation," Brett Weitz, executive vice president of original programming for TBS, joked in a statement.
Bee has been with The Daily Show since 2003, and will continue to contribute occasional segments to the late-night staple until production begins on her TBS show.
As previously announced, Jon Stewart is set to step down from the anchor desk sometime this year.
Will you miss Bee on The Daily Show?
The small screen is about to get a big shot of adrenaline.
Fox is developing an event series based on the Expendables film series, Deadline reports.
The network has ordered a script for the project, which is described as "a fun action drama that unites iconic TV stars as a new team of highly skilled heroes who are on a mission to stop a dangerous terrorist," much like the three films that brought together former action stars like Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others.
Franchise writer and star Stallone is on board as an executive producer, but no roles have been cast. Greg Coolidge and Kirk Ward are set to adapt the films for TV, along with NCIS: LA showrunner Shane Brennan.
The three Expendables films have grossed nearly $800 million worldwide since the first one debuted in 2010. Two potential Expendables movie sequels, as well as a female-centric installment, are in various stages of development as well.
Which TV action stars of yesteryear do you think should join The Expendables? Mr. T? Chuck Norris? Leave your suggestions in the comments!
Totally Tubular Episode 018: American Crime, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, CSI: Cyber, and More (AUDIO)
Greetings! We're back with the latest edition of the Totally Tubularpodcast. This week, Tim and I are joined by managing editor Jen Trolio to discuss several new series, from CSI: Cyber and American Crime to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and The Last Man on Earth. Please be aware that for whatever reason, we experienced some moderate technical issues this week, so please forgive the occasional feedback (and the fact that the file runs a few minutes longer than it should). The heroes on CSI: Cyber were right all along: Technology is always going to stab us in the back! Click below to listen to episode 18 (or subscribe on iTunes, plz) and then hit the comments below to ask us all your burning questions about television.
Here's the segment rundown:
... 01:21 – 11:52 — CSI: Cyber
... 11:53 – 22:35 — American Crime
... 22:36 – 33:22 — Dig
... 33:24 – 45:35 — Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
... 45:38 – 54:40 — The Last Man on Earth
... 54:41– 01:01:15 — HBO NOW News
... 01:01:20 – 01:10:08 — What shows on your DVR do you actually look forward to watching? (thanks for the topic, @JT_Kirk!)
Mackenzie Aladjem is one of those young, up-and-coming actresses that we are going to be hearing a lot more from in the next few years. At only 13 years old she has already had major roles in television, film and theatre productions. For the last six years Mackenzie has starred as the daughter of troubled nurse Jackie Peyton on ‘Nurse Jackie,’ Fiona Peyton. I had the chance to speak with Mackenzie today about the upcoming seventh, and final, season of ‘Nurse Jackie’ and what lies ahead for her in her career.
TVRage: What were your feelings when you found out season 7 would be the last season of ‘Nurse Jackie’?
Mackenzie Aladjem: I found out at the airport when I was about to fly. It was embarrassing because I was crying and people were staring (laughs). It was very sweet, though. I grew up on the show, I did it for six years, so it was really sad to say goodbye. New beginnings are exciting though!
TVRage: You have grown up while on this series. When season one started you were only about eight years old. What is one of the biggest lessons you have learned through portraying Fiona?
Aladjem: One of the biggest lessons was learning how to carry myself professionally. As actors we don’t always get advice on how to do those things, but just watching people you look up to is a lesson. Just watching Edie Falco walk around on set is a learning experience. I have learned so much from her.
TVRage: What are you most excited about for fans to experience in season 7?
Aladjem: I can’t really say anything at all about season 7, but I am excited for the fans to see how the story wraps up, get excited about it, and say goodbye. Hopefully people react well, I think it is a really good ending, hopefully everyone loves it!
TVRage: Are you happy with how the series comes to a close?
Aladjem: For sure! I think it will leave ‘Nurse Jackie’ fans on their feet and I think it wraps all the characters up perfectly.
TVRage: How are Fiona and Grace going to react to Jackie’s arrest?
Aladjem: It is hard for Fiona, because she is so young, to be dealing with all of that. She keeps her head high and I think it is pretty inspiring to see how she does that and stays strong throughout everything else going on.
TVRage: What are some of your favourite television shows to watch right now?
Aladjem: I am really in to ‘Friends’ right now, it is my all-time favourite show. I am really in to comedy right now. I go back and forth from liking drama to comedy. I have been watching ‘Modern Family’ a lot too. ‘Friends’ and ‘Modern Family,’ those are my two all-time favourites.
TVRage: You have a lot of other talents, including singing and dancing. What kind of role would you love to tackle next now that ‘Nurse Jackie’ is coming to a close?
Aladjem: I would love to do Broadway. That has been a dream of mine since I did the national tour of ‘Annie’ when I was seven and eight years old. I kind of got the theatre bug while doing that and would love to do more with theatre. Hopefully that will happen!
You can watch Mackenzie in the final season of ‘Nurse Jackie,’ premiering on April 12th on Showtime. You can follow Mackenzie on Twitter at @mackieealadjem.
The long slow crawl toward the inevitability of Donna/Harvey continues! Oh, sure, Suits' latest cliffhanger would have us believe that the Donna is collating for Team Louis now, but I think we all know that's just one more snag on the way to Harvey and Donna getting their crap together and actually getting together.
The flashbacks required to explain Harvey and Forstman's history—with a side of Harvey/Donna goodness—were seamlessly integrated into the present-day storyline. Welcome to the early 2000s, kids. And before we all mourn Donna and Harvey's unfortunate hair, let's all be honest about how we were doing our own 'dos back in the day and accept the fact that the only character on this show who gets to remain flawless forever is Jessica, because even when Gina Torres was stuck rocking the tragic wardrobe choices in Cleopatra 2525 (ah, the future according to the year 2000), she was divine.
So, wait—is there really a lawyer in New York City who Forstman hasn't taken horrible advantage of in actual supervillain ways?
Actually, yes: Cahill. Strapped for time, Harvey's former headache reached out to Harvey and his wunderkinds to build a case against Woodall and Forstman, because after three months, he still couldn't find the money that connected the two. There's nothing like waiting until the last possible minute, right? And thank goodness for Rachel being able to out-think the sausage fest with her girl-feelings; although, honestly, she raised a brilliant point about family trees failing to address the complexities of the relationships we'd die or commit fraud for.
...and then Suits went ahead and added Rachel to Mike's family tree. Congrats, I guess? I always found Rachel's story more interesting when it focused on a young professional woman successfully proving her worth in the shadow of Harvey's favorite, and I'm worried that tossing an engagement into the show's current mix is just going to result in more heated versions of some of the same conflicts we've seen before.
Which is why, as much as it pains me to admit it, Donna's move to Norma's vacated desk (R.I.P., Norma!) is ultimately going to be a good thing. Right now, Donna and Harvey are in a painfully bad, unhealthy place. Those two are so stymied by their respective ideas of professionalism—which aren't exactly wrong, but are very rigid, and clearly making them both miserable—that I don't think they could possibly work all of their issues out as long as Donna is Harvey's employee.
Working with Louis will also gives Donna the opportunity to soak up some of the reverence and appreciation she's been missing out on at Camp Harvey lately. Harvey habitually represses and represses and then explodes with the right words at the wrong time (which is usually too late), and Donna is the one to pick up the pieces. The problem right now is that the pieces Donna needs to pick up are her own. Her relationship with Louis has been mostly positive throughout Suits' run. Louis and Donna support one another, and they can certainly help each other heal from their respective losses. Just please, for the love of Donna and Harvey's can-opener thing, don't turn it into a romantic storyline, Suits.
With Forstman and Woodall off the board, Cahill appeased, and, Mike's secret not threatening to destroy everything in its immediate vicinity (for once), Suits' slate has been wiped completely clean, giving the series free reign to do whatever it wants when it returns for Season 5. For all of its downer moments, Season 4 was ultimately a high point for the show, highlighting a return to the character-driven stories that made Seasons 1 and 2 so phenomenal. We'll just pretend that Season 3 never happened, okay? Okay.
– Rick Hoffman killed it as a Louis in subudued mourning. So did Torres as a Jessica whose confidence was shaken.
– Is there any hope for Jessica/Malone?
– Well, at least things worked out for Harvey's degenerate gambler of a brother.
– Flashback Harvey might be my favorite Harvey. Like, I get him.
– How insufferable is Mike and Rachel's engagement going to be?
– What's on your wishlist for when Suits returns for Season 5?
What did you think of Suits' Season 4 finale?
Murder mysteries have a built-in expiration date. The conventions of the genre generally require methodical movement toward one key plot point: the reveal of the killer's identity. Good murder mysteries certainly embed additional meaning within the proceedings via strong character work that buttresses the twists, turns, and red herrings that make the genre tick. But the fundamental nature of murder mysteries is that there's an ending, and presumably a satisfying one (unless you're The Killing). So what happens when the story continues, whether by choice or network mandate?
The second season of Broadchurch certainly promises to be an interesting experiment in displaying that the world doesn't just stop moving once a murderer is arrested. Whether or not it's an especially successful experiment? After one episode, that's more uncertain.
The first season of Broadchurch made it one of my favorite TV shows of 2013, but like many of you, I wasn't sure that I needed to see more of this story, no matter how great its performers were or how beautiful director James Strong could make the Dorset coast look. And while the Season 2 premiere didn't fully change my mind, I did appreciate the way in which Strong, writer Chris Chibnall, and the cast continued what, on the surface, seemed like a story with an ending.
The thing is, significant life events don't have endings, and that's especially true of tragedieds, as this first episode went to great lengths to illustrate. Joe Miller might have been arrested for his role in Danny Lattimer's death, but that's just an arrest. There's still a plea, a potential trial, and the boatload of tension, pain, and anger bubbling (barely) below the surface of all the people who were greatly affected by Danny's death. Episode 1 jumped ahead in time just enough to show us that Hardy (David Tennant), Ellie (Olivia Colman), and the Lattimers have tried and failed to move on, but then quickly ripped open all their old wounds when Joe decided to plead not guilty at the sentencing hearing. It was a destructive moment for everyone, and the episode treated it as such. People were losing their minds in that courtroom, not only because of how Joe's plea made them feel in that moment, but because of what it signaled for the future. There will be no "closure."
Of course, some of these people desperately needed—or at least thought they needed—that closure to make them feel as if their world was improving. Ellie, having watched her husband admit to killing their son's friend, is no longer working as a detective, and she no longer has a relationship with her son Tom. Her guilt over what happened is almost unbearable (and immaculately portrayed by Colman, who's still killing it), and it was only made worse by Joe's actions.
Meanwhile, Beth and Mark Lattimer are similarly guilt-ridden over their son's death, but for slightly different reasons. Beth seemed particularly damaged by what she could've done differently as a mother, while Mark appeared to feel more ashamed for everything he did to bust up his family, not to mention for keeping the town's gossip machine churning. Sure, they decided to keep the almost-here new baby, but that hasn't really solved their problems. Beth feels alone, and Mark is acting distant again—but now it's because he's hanging out with Tom in secret. That dude never learns.
And so Joe's plea is not the end; instead, it marks the start of a new era of pain, and a wave of hurt that was exemplified by the literal raising of Danny's body from his grave. They say burying your dead loved ones is a big step in the grieving process. What happens when that's all undone, basically in an instant? Maybe the exhuming of Danny's body was a little heavy-handed in terms of visualizing the suffering that Broadchurch's characters will to continue to face, but this is a show that trades in big, sweeping moments—completely scored to death—and it wasn't an entirely unreasonable move by the defense team, either.
To further underscore the continuous impact of the past on the present, Hardy's main story in the premiere concentrated almost entirely on his pre-Broadchurch life and the big, messy case that forced him out of his old job. We knew that Hardy was haunted by What Happened Before, but this episode pulled a lot of stuff out of the dark and into the light. Hardy hasn't just been hiding the wife (Claire, played by Eve Myles) of the accused murderer (James D'Arcy) in a nearby witness protection locale for seven months, but his unofficial Wit-Sec operation was the sole reason he came to Broadchurch in the first place. And honestly, that felt a bit like a retcon, given that I don't recall seeing any real evidence of Hardy going off to check on Claire in Season 1; I get the sense that Broadchurch was simply looking for another mystery to power its story engine. However, the hustling that Chibnall and company did to put the pieces together worked well enough for me. The development gives Hardy and Ellie an additional opportunity to work together, however unofficially, and further accentuates how much turmoil this type of case can cause—and not just for the families of the dead.
As an exercise in "What If" storytelling, Broadchurch's Season 2 opener was solid and compelling enough. For the sake of obvious comparison, The Killing continued its primary murder plot into its second season, but then relied far too heavily on the "mysterious" (read: stupid) circumstances surrounding the death of Rosie Larsen, eventually needling out the Larsen family in a way that limited the potential exploration of familial grief and troubled attempts to "move on." Broadchurch did a very fine job of depicting that kind of grief in Season 1, and this premiere simply felt like a heightened extension of that. The entire town is an open sore, and while the emotional tumult of the case might've produced less of an impact here because we already know who did what and have been through some of this, I appreciate the extended examination of loss that Broadchurch appears to be interested in.
The issue is, however, that Joe's case and the extension of the story will require Broadchurch to strain a bit with regard to its characters, both new and old. For a "small-town show," there are suddenly a handful of unfamiliar faces milling around who were apparently not involved in anything that we saw in Season 1, and some of them were introduced more effectively than others. The show can get away with that when we're talking about characters played by Eve Myles, James D'Arcy, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, and Charlotte Rampling (the latter two have signed on as the defense and prosecution lawyers, respectively), but that doesn't mean that it's a good storytelling strategy. Similarly, I can't say I really needed any additional stories about the press folks, Reverend Coates (Arthur Darvill), or hotel owner Becca. They aren't important enough to get too worked up about, but their inessential-ness only displays the challenges of continuing a story like this.
The Broadchurch package is appealing enough for me that I'm in for another season—even if I'm not convinced that it's necessary. The Season 2 premiere didn't quite shake that opinion one way or another, as it produced some really lovely moments and nodded toward what could be a fascinating follow-up investigation of grief. Yet, some of the mechanisms that the show employed to get to where it is weren't fully successful. If anything, the next seven episodes will be a cool experiment in how to keep a murder mystery going after the central case has been solved. We'll see if that makes for good TV.
– I gotta tell you: Watching the first season of Broadchurch and then all of Gracepoint and then coming back to Broadchurch was dizzying. It took me a while to remember what was going on, and which version of the story I was actually remembering.
– It's almost worth having the show back exclusively for the on-location shooting. I did appreciate that Hardy was forced to take a photo on the beach near the cliffs and simply hated it, almost as if to say, "This again?" before the audience could.
– Refresh my memory: Was Broadchurch so reliant on the score in Season 1? I felt like the music was working overtime to punctuate the emotion in the premiere.
– We won't be back with more review coverage until the finale, but I know the entire season has already finished airing on ITV in the U.K. Please keep spoiler chatter to a minimum in the comments!
Relationships y'all, how about 'em? Whether you're forming bonds with a noob cellmate, some lady you met in a self-help group, a 15-year old, or Jesus Christ himself, putting your trust and affection into someone is never easy. As “Born Again” illustrated, establishing new ties can allow one to be vulnerable as well as to exploit vulnerability in others. It was an hour simmering with the same uneasiness that we generally experience when deciding if a person is enemy or ally. P.S. Did I mention this was a DAMN good episode?
So the main threads this week included Philip becoming a real pillar in the community of Skeezeburg, Nina getting the deal on Evi, a reborn Paige receiving the vaguest of parental guidance, and Stan hooking up with a new fling. Meanwhile, Hans the Seeth Efreecan sussed out a mole in his college's anti-apartheid scene while Gabriel continued to sink his Red spindly fingertips into the brains and minds of the Jennings. I always get a queasy feeling with Gabriel because of how much Philip and Elizabeth
trust him—like a parent—and how willing he is to play them against each other. I don't think he values Philip and Elizabeth's relationship; to him, their marriage is still more a cover than something that brings
either of them human fulfillment.
Like, remember back in the day how Philip had a lovechild? Well, Gabriel just so happened to mention that the Center picked up the kid's mother and knows full well about young Mischa. One the one hand, their handler's just delivering messages, but come on—he also knows the tics and personal values of the Jennings as assets. All like, “Hey, I'm not saying something good or
bad will happen, but just know that they know, man. And there's only so much I can do. Plus wouldn't it be weird if Elizabeth knew...” It's during moments like those that I find Gabriel's insides to be as reprehensible as Philip's outsides when he's James.
I've been trying to pinpoint the most creepy aspect of James' look. Is it the tinted aviators, the
burns-bangs-n'-boots combo, or just his unwavering commitment to Members Only apparel? Either way, as a viewer I'm definitely feeling uncomfortable with Kimmie as an underage object of deception. I know that's the point, and that Philip is reluctantly doing his job every step of the way, but sometimes I find myself stepping back from the drama to the point where I stop rooting for Philip altogether. Like, this is a grown-ass man smooching an unsuspecting 15-year-old and seeing her naked. Moscow's really pushing it with him; poor Kimmie is being taken advantage of on a psychological level during a developmentally
sensitive time in her life, and the man's got a damn daughter. Sure, he's been trained to see sex as no more of a tool than a briefcase bug, but I don't know, where's the line for you all? I'm still with Philip
because he's fighting this mission every step of the way, but man do I get the squirms the further it goes.
Far, far away from Skeezeburg, Nina is straight-up acting colder than a Gulag in January. I don't know if I was just hungry or what, but I cried like a baby when Evi was dragged out kicking and screaming. Maybe it was the dorm talk that'd gone down earlier, in combination with Nina giving out true romance wisdom, that left me open for devastation. But I'm liking this interior version of Nina we're getting to see. Did she really have a husband? Back in the States, she was always behaving a little helplessly or being encouraged to fulfill her potential by her male cheerleaders. Here, she's proving that she can do it on her own. I'm sorry Evi was a casualty of this demonstration (because Manhattan's Katja Hebers was killing it), but damn Nina stared her right in the eye like a thug.
I'm hoping Nina that continues her "The One Who Knocks" streak and exacts revenge on Oleg or
Stan for their crimes of the heart that landed her in San Quentinski. Oleg must've been jogging this episode, but his American counterpart got even more in touch with his emotions... and helped himself to some self-help ass. What do you say, guys, do you care that much about Stan's divorce proceedings? I kind of just want him to let go of Sandra and let Tori teach him how to hear his heart song or whatever. I'm very happy that Matthew's back in the picture, though. I do love a distant square father and his cool '80s son trying to reconnect.
Maybe Stan could try getting high with the youngster? I'm sure the FBI has some killer confiscated herb. Better yet, get the Mail Robot baked! That was a fun scene where Philip and Elizabeth got high
together and laughed and laughed and laughed about Jesus Christ and everything their daughter holds sacred and dear in her life. I like how broaching the subject of becoming a spy was basically their version of the sex talk. It was more than I got—my parents just subscribed me to Cinemax and pointed out a Planned Parenthood on the way to Vons. Philip did what he could to give Paige the push she needed to go her own way, but Elizabeth went one step further by taking Paige to Gregory's old stomping grounds and revealing a bit about her past. In the end, though, I'm not sure Elizabeth really truly wants her daughter to take up the cause. Beliefs are one thing, but heaving her daughter into the line of fire could prove harder than she might imagine.
– Interesting stuff there about Reagan and South Africa
– I'm a huge fan of Henry telling it like it is. Could've used a Louis story or two, though
– Aderholt's doing a lot of research on Stan; is he going to discover the Nina connection, or will he be too smitten by Martha to think straight?
– “Jesus really came through for me tonight.” —Phil
– “Hey maybe we shouldn't talk about this.” —Stan
– I wonder if anyone has ever peed during a baptism
What did YOU think of "Born Again"?
American Crime Season 1
It's long been argued that one of the great things about television is that it's a "cultural forum," or a place where we work through our collective interests, issues, desires, tensions, and whatever else on an episode-by-episode basis. The cultural forum idea was a little more applicable back when there were just a few major networks and little else, meaning that viewers could rightfully assume that lots of other people were also watching their favorite shows. With today's seemingly endless array of programming options, we talk about TV more than ever, but that sense of our collective "working through" of stuff, however constructed, is less prominent.
Whereas the cultural forum idea suggests that TV simply produces its cultural forum-ness, this particular midseason has brought us a couple of series that are explicitly trying to "start a conversation" in a way that involves more than hashtags and live-tweeting. First there was The Slap, which really, really wants its audience to think about the corporal punishment of children and the context in which it might be acceptable (or perhaps slightly more acceptable); unfortunately, it has failed in that mission.
But this week, ABC takes a big swing of its own with American Crime. The 11-episode series, developed for television by Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley, utilizes a familiar set-up—a home invasion involving murder and potential rape—as the entry point to a much more ambitious and wide-ranging exploration of racial issues, from standard ugly racism to racial profiling to inter-race disputes. Much like The Slap, Ridley and ABC certainly want the audience to recognize that there are Important and Uncomfortable Things happening on the screen. After watching the season's first four episodes, I'm not sure American Crime is as powerful and challenging as ABC's promotional department would lead you to believe, but the show manages to examine contemporary racial politics in a way that is indeed interesting enough to convince me it has potential.
American Crime takes the tapestry approach to storytelling; the show introduces the audience to more than a dozen primary characters over the course of its first few episodes, all of whom are associated with the catalyzing crime in one way or another. Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton star as the divorced parents of the murder victim, a U.S. solider who'd returned home and seemingly developed the perfect life for himself and his wife. Huffman's Barb and Hutton's Russ have been estranged for years, and their son's death immediately reopens old wounds, many of which stem from Russ gambling his life away and leaving Barb and their two sons to make due. W. Earl Brown and Penelope Ann Miller play the parents of the deceased's widow, who has potentially been raped and remains in critical condition. Benito Martinez and Johnny Ortiz play a Mexican father-son combo who unintentionally get wrapped up in the case due to the latter's dealings with a gang member (Richard Cabral). And drugged-out, interracial couple Carter (Elvis Nolasco) and Aubry (Caitlin Gerard) play a key role as well. By Episode 3, Regina King and Lili Taylor are also involved in prominent roles.
The point is, it's a big, sprawling cast, and intentionally so. Ridley approaches the crime from multiple angles and levels, but smartly begins the story after it's already happened, forcing us to get to know and even sympathize with the characters before we truly begin to understand the role they may or may not have played in a heinous offense. Few of the central characters are 'likable' in the way that you expect characters to be, especially on broadcast TV, and they're not even unlikable in a 'cool' Walter White sort of way. These are all people who've made mistakes—and who continue to do so once the story gets cooking—but in a very a human way. Huffman probably gets the showiest material given that her character has an ambivalent and sometimes very troublesome outlook on race (once the police tell her that a potential suspect is Mexican, she immediately and continuously assumes that person is "an illegal"), but nearly everybody gets a chance to make an impact in important scenes.
The cast is boosted by American Crime's visual dexterity. Though Ridley is known primarily as a writer, the show's first couple episodes illustrate his talents as a director and showrunner as well. The show is very stylized, but not in the typical sleek ABC fashion. It's bright but not glossy, and there are quick edits that occur mid-scene, but there are also extended, lingering shots on people's wary faces (and their hands; John Ridley really finds meaning in clinched fits). And the score works well, but it's not obviously present in every scene, attempting to manipulate. American Crime is a very quiet show.
What's more, characters often speak over and across one another in a way you rarely see on network television. When the camera lingers on Hutton's face as his character zones out while the police explain the crime, you feel his shock, and when Martinez and Ortiz's characters are yelling at one another in front of a cop in an interrogation room, you understand the emerging confusion and anger. Emotions bubble up and fester on this show, and Ridley (and later directors) do an awesome job of visualizing that.
You're likely to see comparisons between American Crime and Crash because of the former's story and the way it's told, and while I don't think those comparisons are unfair, they also doesn't give American Crime enough credit. Whereas Crash was built almost entirely on constructed coincidences that were so shamelessly supposed to read as significant, American Crime seems to recognize that it needs to draw logical, thoughtful connections between the characters to make their interconnectedness more effective. The murder mystery part of the story dictates that some of those connections are bluntly explained instead of slowly revealed, but the inherent question marks surrounding certain characters' pasts or relationships mean that people are regularly presenting and/or disputing versions of the truth instead of stopping to express awe at the grand plan that the universe must have for them.
Where Crash and American Crime do relate are in their attempts to explore race with some purpose, but again, that comparison undersells some of the finesse on display with this show. The crime itself is so secondary here; you don't see a body, nor is there so much of a focus on the procedural practices of a police investigation. Instead, the crime is absolutely a jumping off point for what Ridley hopes to be a larger, more compelling conversation about race and prejudice.
The good news is that these early episodes do make an earnest and oftentimes successful attempt at embedding the racial tension into the storylines. While you can sense Ridley and the show inserting particular racially-charged conversations into the show that are there to jolt the audience a bit, the approach never turns too heavy-handed for very long. It helps that the first episode introduces you to the characters as people first, and not pawns in the murder mystery or constructions there to debate at one another about racial politics. But there's also a more casual racism on display here, where characters offhandedly show their prejudice or institutions express their inherent racism. That's not easy to pull off, but American Crime does it more successfully than not in these first four episodes.
Again, unlike The Slap and Crash, American Crime doesn't marvel in its own perceived sense of meaning. As a TV show, it is well-written, it offers really strong characterization, and it achieves surprisingly effective visual storytelling. However, I'm less confident in its ability to start a significant conversation about the tensions on display. While the series isn't subtle in its representation of racial tension, it's also not boisterous about it either. Will that register for viewers? I'm not sure.
ABC has given American Crime a plum timeslot—after Grey's Anatomy and Scandal—but I wonder how it'll play after two hours of fast-paced, soapy goodness. How to Get Away With Murder it is not. Throw in the fact that ABC debuted the much lesser but still sort of similar Secrets and Lies just a few days ago, and I can imagine a world where viewers assume that American Crime is just another murder mystery. It's not, and I hope people will figure that out soon enough. The show isn't quite there yet, but it has a boatload of potential, conversation-starter or not.
American Crime debuts Thursday, March 5 at 10pm on ABC.
What to watch on Thursday, March 5...
7:30pm, Cartoon Network
Fateful discoveries lead Finn and Jake down two very different paths in “Walnuts Rain.” If one of those paths leads to Laura Petrie riding a walnut cascade, I must admit I’ll be more than a little jealous.
The Big Bang Theory
Sheldon applies for a one-way Martian voyage in "The Colonization Application," perhaps seeking entirely new species to annoy and alienate. But Amy is none too pleased at the prospect of losing her beau to the Red Planet. In other relationship pickles, Leonard surprises Penny within a ribald gift and Raj goes a-snooping in Emily's pad.
A gallery full of doctors watches Amelia and Stephanie operate on Dr. Herman in "The Distance," but honestly most of them are just there to see Katy Perry and Left Shark perform at halftime. With Dr. Herman under the knife, Arizona takes on one of her cases, much to Bailey's consternation.
Manolis is determined to pull the family back from the brink and persuade Aisha to forgive Harry. “Sometimes what you truly need to slap... is your pride,” he’ll solemnly intone, and then everyone will hug and we’ll all get out of this thing four episodes early.
The Odd Couple
After forgetting Felix’s birthday, Oscar hopes to make up for it with a last-minute bash in “The Birthday Party.” He also hopes to make a good impression on Casey, possibly with the help of guest-star Dwight Howard.
The nation is gripped by the latest Beltway calamity in “The Lawn Chair,” but the Fitz administration has its hands full figuring out what to do with the V.P. Is anyone else starting to suspect the Fitz administration is as bad at choosing vice presidents as it is at... well, everything else?
In "T. Earl King VI," Red is drawn into a treacherous game with a powerful family that obtained its vast wealth from the most sordid of enterprises. Huh, I had no idea The Blacklist was planning a crossover with Richie Rich.
When an ecoterrorist blows up an oil pipeline in Backstrom’s childhood hometown in "Enemy of My Enemies," the ornery investigator is forced to reconnect with his estranged father (Robert Forster), the local sheriff.
SERIES PREMIERE, 10pm, ABC
Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton lead the cast of this drama from Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley. The first installment begins with home invaders murdering a war veteran and badly injuring his wife. As the investigation begins, what appears to be a straightforward case soon reveals further questions and complications.
SERIES PREMIERE, 10pm, USA
Sadly not a gritty live-action adaptation of popular early '80s Nintendo game Dig Dug, this 10-episode series instead centers on a troubled FBI agent (Jason Isaacs) who investigates a murder and stumbles onto a millennia-old conspiracy in Jerusalem. And since it comes from Homeland’s Gideon Raff and Heroes’ Tim Kring, being capped at one season can only work in the show’s favor.
Dave and Kath hope to log some rehearsal time before a karaoke party in "You Can Call Me Al," but since the episode's guest list includes Paul Simon and Jeff Goldblum, I can't help but think they'll be a little outclassed no matter how much practice they get.
In "For All You Know," Sherlock is linked to a murder that occurred during the nadir of his addict days. As he learns more about his ties to the victim, his doubts about his own true character grow.
Slater tasks the gang with putting one over on a royal family in "Pocket Listing." After all, a successful con requires charm, grace, stealth, and flawless coordination, and I think we can all agree the ISIS crew possesses those qualities in spades.
The FBI suspects a mole is afoot, and they're almost surely correct since no law enforcement agency on a TV show is complete without a mole. Meanwhile in "Tipping Point," Victor cooks up a new way to keep the O'Connors on his radar, and Natalie screws the pooch in her search for a lead.
The new settlement sows its first harvest and greets the visiting King Ecbert in "Warrior's Fate," and the gracious monarch will politely ignore the fact that their welcome banner clearly misspelled "Ecbert" on like the first three tries. Back in Kattegat, Harbard's arrival in the Great Hall captivates Aslaug and Helga but triggers Siggy's Spidey-sense.
– Adam Sandler, Jonathan Banks, and BROODS on Conan, 11pm, TBS
– Journalist Gerald Posner on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, 11pm, Comedy Central
– TBD on The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore, 11:30pm, Comedy Central
– Hugh Jackman, Tiffani Thiessen, and Hozier on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, 11:35pm, NBC
– Naomi Watts, Reggie Miller, and Carly Rae Jepsen on Jimmy Kimmel Live, 11:35pm, ABC
– Jada Pinkett Smith, Ginnifer Goodwin, Robert Smigel, and Kate Pierson on Late Night with Seth Meyers, 12:35am, NBC
– Jane Lynch, biologist Dan Riskin, Ed Alonso, and guest host Drew Carey on The Late Late Show, 12:37am, CBS
WHAT ARE YOU WATCHING TONIGHT?
It feels like it was just yesterday that Clarke and Anya escaped from Mount Weather and yet somehow the end of The 100's meticulously plotted second season is already upon us. "Blood Must Have Blood, Part One," the shocking and devastating first-half of a two-part season finale, found Clarke back where she was at the beginning of the season, only this time she was trying to break in to Mount Weather, not out. To say that things did not go according to plan would probably be an understatement, as a last-minute betrayal from Lexa left Clarke stunned and alone by episode's end.
But let's back up for a second, because there was a lot that happened before Lexa destroyed the alliance. The episode opened with Clarke and Lexa preparing to attack Mount Weather's main entrance as Indra and Octavia led a group into the reaper tunnels beneath the mountain so they could aid the prisoners when they escaped. Meanwhile, Bellamy worked to free the Grounders locked in the Harvest Chamber, fulfilling the promise he made to Echo weeks ago while also simultaneously launching a second front from within. For their part, Raven and Wick infiltrated the dam's turbine engine room to shut down Mount Weather's entire power system for 60 seconds so Clarke and Lexa's warriors could infiltrate the mountain.
There were a lot of moving parts to this plan, and each was necessary for the next step of the plan to be successful. And despite several setbacks as a result of Cage's cunning tricks, the plan did work. Lincoln was ready to lead a group into the mountain until Lexa agreed to a deal developed by Dante after Cage begged him for his help that secured the release of the Grounders being held captive. Unfortunately, it meant that the 44 (45 including Bellamy) would remain to be used and abused and depleted of their bone marrow.
Lexa's betrayal, while shocking and hurtful—especially to those fans rooting for a relationship after Lexa let her feelings be known last week—probably shouldn't be too surprising. Lexa has always been straightforward with Clarke with regard to who she is as a person and what her priorities are as a leader. To Lexa, her people will always come first, personal feelings be damned. Of course, the keywords in that sentence are "her people." Despite the alliance between the Grounders and the Arkers, Lexa had no real obligation to the 45. She agreed to the alliance to save her people from a common enemy, and that's what she did. She was successful in her mission and although her betrayal stings, it's true to character and it meant fewer dead (Grounder) bodies.
Lexa previously warned Clarke after Finn's death that thinking with her heart and not with her head would eventually be her downfall. I don't know if that's completely applicable to the situation at hand since it was nothing Clarke did that put her in this situation—you could argue that Clarke was too trusting, but that still feels like a bit of a stretch after everything that's happened between the two women. Still, it's worthy of a mention since Lexa specifically said she made the decision with her head and not her heart.
By striking a deal with the Mountain Men—a deal which essentially ensured they'd leave the Grounders alone forever—Lexa burned a bridge, which could have consequences later on. She may be an intelligent woman and a fearless warrior, but she's not too skilled in diplomacy. Her actions this week saved her people from one enemy, but possibly created another. And I'm not sure it was entirely worth the cost for the character. In terms of the series itself, Lexa's actions created great drama and an exciting conflict leading in to the season finale next week, not to mention it stripped away everything Clarke had which means when she eventually overcomes the Mountain Men and rescues her people (that's totally what's going to happen, right?), her victory will taste that much sweeter. But still: WTF Lexa?
Clarke might allow her emotions to inform her decisions and she might be single-minded in her quest to save her people to the point she can't look beyond the task that's right in front of her, but Clarke would never sacrifice a group of people to save her own. She allowed herself to go along with Lexa's decision to sacrifice the people of Tondc because it arguably benefited the greater good, but it's obvious the decision has been weighing on her ever since it happened. To willingly and selfishly hand over innocent men and women to be slaughtered is not something Clarke would do, nor is it something she takes lightly. Clarke might think with her heart, but it's better than the alternative that says caring about people is a weakness, because that's a weakness in itself. Caring about people and showing empathy for them is what ensures they'll have your back when you need it. Even if Lexa was successful in her mind, it was still at the cost of an alliance and a friendship.
The name of this episode comes from a Grounder war chant that says blood must be answered with blood. Clarke joined the chant, which is just one example of how Lexa and the Grounders have changed her in a short amount of time. In a cruel twist, Lexa then solved her problem without spilling much blood at all. She may have sold Clarke and the 45 down the river after using the Arkers to take out the acid fog, and much, much more, but she did it using their own tactic: negotiation. There was little blood spilled in this battle, so even if Lexa used her head and not her heart, she still took a page from Clarke's book to do it. In the end, despite their different leadership styles, they ended up teaching one other quite a bit.
But as upsetting as Lexa's betrayal was, Clarke hasn't given up. The final shot of her standing alone before the door to Mount Weather as the Grounder army retreated was purposefully filmed to show how small Clarke is in comparison to the challenges she's facing. Likewise, Bellamy was alone gazing out at the Harvest Chamber after realizing the Mountain Men had taken captive the rest of the 42 (Monty and Jasper were both with Bellamy). Octavia, too, was alone by the end of the episode after she chose to disobey Lexa's order to retreat. Moments before Indra had told her she was a Grounder, but her decision to remain in the tunnels had her stripped of that honor and stripped of her title as Indra's second-in-command. No longer a Grounder, but no longer an Arker, either, Octavia doesn't really have a home. But she does have a family, and like Bellamy and Clarke she hasn't given up on them yet either.
– I didn't get a chance to talk about Raven and Wick this week, and I don't want to tell The 100's writing staff how to do their jobs, because I think they've done a fantastic job this season, but I do think the show needs more Wick. They should lock Steve Talley down for a good chunk of episodes next season, or sign him as a series regular. Raven and Wick's banter, which is wholly grounded in their emotions and respect for one another, was a highlight in this otherwise incredibly tense episode. Plus, Raven finally allowed herself to be vulnerable this week. To be honest, this is the first relationship I think the series has done remarkably well, probably because it feels adult and mature in nature.
– Wick also had his first taste of the harsh life on the ground when he had to kill a man. The shock and horror was written on his face, and Raven's sad reaction was perfect: "Welcome to the ground." It's a simple fact of life at this point.
– Midway through the episode Maya realized she wouldn't survive a radiation leak, nor would she be able to live at Mount Weather after aiding Jasper and the 44 for so long. She essentially saw herself as a dead girl walking, which was heartbreaking. I haven't given Maya enough credit this season, but she's been incredibly brave and selfless. It's a shame her father is dead, and I hope she lives beyond the second-half of the finale next week.
– But you know who's dad ISN'T dead? Miller's! I was really worried for a little while.
– Lincoln fought against his fellow Grounders when they were retreating because he's a much better human being than 90% of the characters on this show.
– Prior to her betrayal, Lexa asked Clarke to go to the Grounder capital following the battle. Is this the first time it's really been mentioned?
– "Catastrophic failure? That's your plan?!"