When CBS announced it was developing a grown-up Nancy Drew series and that the titular heroine would not be Caucasian, people's ears perked up. When Sarah Shahi (born Aahoo Jahansouz Shahi, to an Iranian father and Persian-Spanish mother) was announced as the new Nancy, the buzz grew. But then CBS didn't order the pilot to series, allegedly because it "skewed too female for CBS’ schedule" (CBS Television Studios hasn't killed the show yet, though, and is shopping it to other outlets). The AV Club's Myles McNutt takes a look at why it feels like Drew was cancelled, despite never actually being a TV series in a look at how the Internet has made television development into a narrative of its own.
"Wayne Rogers, best known for playing Captain 'Trapper' John McIntyre on TV comedy series 'M.A.S.H.,' died Thursday in Los Angeles from complications of pneumonia. He was 82." [more inside]
"'I was reading an article in the Radio Times the other day,' says Andrew Davies. 'The journalist was asking, "Why have all these classic serials got to be about the male lead getting his kit off?" And I thought, 'Hey! I started that!'" - Pride and Prejudice at 20: The scene that changed everything, by Nicholas Barber for BBC Culture. [more inside]
Harry Enfield & Paul Whitehouse: Smashie and Nicey - The End Of An Era Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 (note: the very end edited out). [Previously: "Do you... do you like Tina Turner, Ted?"]
The Many Faces of Tatiana Maslany [New York Times]
In portraying a horde of clones on ‘Orphan Black,’ the actress has created TV’s strangest — and most sophisticated — meditation on femininity.Previously. Previously. Previously.
Empire is a Monster That Is Eating Network Television - Buzzfeed, Feb. 26, 2015:
"When it comes to ratings, Fox’s Empire is on a trajectory that’s unprecedented in broadcast television’s recent history, which has mostly been marked by — to appropriate a phrase from Hakeem Lyon (Bryshere Y. Gray) — drip drops, if not just plain old slaughter. As of last week, it is the No. 1 show on network television in the 18 to 49 demographic advertisers seek. And once again, the show built on its ratings this week."[more inside]
How Parks and Recreation Took Aim at Silicon Valley (Laura Hudson at Wired):
"Over the course of the season, Leslie remarks on how the character of the town has morphed since the arrival of Gryzzl, with juice bars, yoga studios, and pet hotels popping up across Pawnee. “Everything has changed. This town is going to be unrecognizable in 10 years,” she says wistfully. One episode revolves entirely around trying to save their perennial waffle hangout J.J.’s Diner; thanks to the surging housing market, the property has been bought out by a perfume magnate who plans to flip it for profit.[more inside]
"If that sounds reminiscent of the housing crisis that’s currently plaguing San Francisco—and displacing large numbers of long-time residents—it should. Rental prices in the tech hub city are currently in the highest the nation, with the median price of a one-bedroom apartment hovering at more than $3,400 a month. Meanwhile, local establishments like the Lexington Club (the J.J.’s Diner of lesbian bars) are getting sold to new owners."
"What was striking about the recent film The Imitation Game wasn't just the incredible story of Alan Turing, the man who helped the Allies win the Second World War by cracking Germany's Enigma code, only to find himself chemically castrated for being gay. It was the epilogue that informed us that the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act, criminalising homosexual activity, led to 49,000 gay men being convicted of gross indecency in the UK. If you subtract Turing and Oscar Wilde from that total, that’s 48,998 stories that still haven't been told." Why is television still ignoring gay lives? – Matt Cain for The Independent. [more inside]
"With the fifth series of Downton Abbey having recently drawn to a close, I have taken some time to consider why domestic service dramas fascinate me so much." [more inside]
ER One Shot (YT): one long opening shot from the Quentin Tarantino-directed episode of the TV series ER. Blog post | less bloggy, more pagey, format. [more inside]
"And yes, I get that sexuality is fluid and all of that, but honestly, can't they just do it and get it over with? Either that, or shut up about it." Are Sherlock and Watson Gonna Bone, or What? [more inside]
From AVClub's TV Club 10, Advanced Introduction To Community (in 10 [representative] episodes) [more inside]
Beware of fans influencing the TV they love. And casual fans are being alienated by shows with devoted fans (spoilers for Sherlock).
"To launch a science-fiction anthology series is to dare comparisons with The Twilight Zone. Happily, Welcome to Paradox is not unworthy to be mentioned in the same sentence as Rod Serling's classic show. The weekly dramas, all based on short stories, are set in Betaville [a nod to Jean-Luc Godard's 1965 dystopian sci-fi/noir film, Alphaville], a future city filled with ultrahigh technology and perennial human unhappiness.... Bottom Line: Makes the future look intriguing." The Sci-Fi channel only produced 13 episodes (archived view of their site; ep list on Wikipedia), letting the series end with one season. The show was only released on DVD in Australia, which now seems to be out of print. But fear not! You can watch the episodes on YouTube in a convenient playlist, or with separate episodes linked below the fold. [more inside]
The Victorian Kitchen Garden is a 13-part TV series that aired in 1987 on BBC2. It follows the month-by-month restoration of the Victorian walled kitchen garden at the Chilton Foliat estate in Wiltshire, England. Almost all the episodes are available to watch online. (via hark, a vagrant) It had three sequels - The Victorian Kitchen, The Victorian Flower Garden, and The Wartime Kitchen and Garden - and inspired more recent historical reconstruction programs: Tales From the Green Valley, A Tudor Feast at Christmas, Victorian Farm, Victorian Farm Christmas, Victorian Pharmacy, and Edwardian Farm. (Victorian Farm and Edwardian Farm previously.) [more inside]
At first glance, the new inside-the-CIA Showtime series Homeland looks like a cynical socio-political potboiler -- an attempt to exploit fears of a terrorist attack on American soil by Muslim extremists. In reality, the critically acclaimed show, about an anti-terrorism agent (Claire Danes) tracking a U.S. Marine war hero (Damian Lewis) who may now be working for what's left of Al Qaeda, is thoughtful and emotionally complex despite its airplane-thriller trappings. That's why showrunners Howard Gordon and his buddy Alex Gansa gave an interview to Mother Jones, a self-described "news organization that specializes in investigative, political, and social justice reporting." Reflecting on lessons they learned in the trenches of 24, they talk about Homeland's self-aware approach to paranoia as entertainment, and how "dangerous and politically incendiary" a TV show can be .
History and mystery wonderfully blended. Although doubtless well-known to UK Mefites, I was only recently directed to this marvelous and engaging TV series featuring Michael Kitchen as Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle. It's a refreshing change from American fare, entirely adult, with crisp dialogue and meticulous attention to detail and historic accuracy. Speaking as a Yank weary of plasticity, it's also wonderful to see actors with real faces. The series can be seen on Youtube in pieces that can be viewed fairly seamlessly: Series One: The German Woman, The White Feather, Lesson in Murder, Eagle Day. Series Two: Fifty Ships, Among the Few, War Games, The Funk Hole. Series Three: The French Drop, Enemy Fire, They Fought in the Fields, War of Nerves. Series Four: Invasion, Bad Blood. Series Five: Bleak Midwinter, Casualties of War. Series Six: Plan of Attack, Broken Souls, All Clear. [more inside]