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  • Two documentaries: '1971' on PBS, 'Southern Rites' from HBO

    Two documentaries: '1971' on PBS, 'Southern Rites' from HBO

    Documentary film, as very much opposed to reality TV, continues to be one of the best things TV has to show you; indeed, it is for most people the only place to see this sort of work. PBS and HBO are the form's best friends; each has a worthwhile offering tonight.

  • On the morning after the end of 'Mad Men'

    On the morning after the end of 'Mad Men'

    There is a human need to account and sum up; to write the obituary on every completed life, an urge toward postmortem analysis that can apply even to television characters, especially now that every drama and most comedies have a serial backbone, an ongoing narrative thrust. "Mad Men," Matt Weiner's...

  • HBO's 'Bessie' offers a lesson in show biz and the blues

    HBO's 'Bessie' offers a lesson in show biz and the blues

    Early on in "Bessie," a new HBO biopic premiering Saturday and starring Queen Latifah as the singer Bessie Smith, Smith's about-to-be mentor, Ma Rainey (played by Mo'Nique), offers a musicological lesson in show business.

  • Fox's new miniseries 'Wayward Pines' is good, creepy fun

    Fox's new miniseries 'Wayward Pines' is good, creepy fun

    "Wayward Pines," Fox's rising-panic journey through a spooky town nestled in a spookier forest, offers many attractions, not the least of which is its format. As many have already noted with unabashed relief, "Wayward Pines," which premieres Thursday, is an actual miniseries — as opposed to a miniseries...

  • 'Game of Thrones' enters Season 5 at war with it all

    'Game of Thrones' enters Season 5 at war with it all

    It's always worrisome when a beloved show enters midlife. Giddy limerence gives way to the more critical eye of a long-term relationship, and even the most beloved characters or innovative worlds can seem overly familiar and irksome. The more acclaimed or popular a show is, the more tempted we...

  • Built for the binge: 'Daredevil' reveals the future of TV

    Built for the binge: 'Daredevil' reveals the future of TV

    Dim and steaming with urban grit, personal pathos and intense violence, Marvel's great new "Daredevil" series for Netflix proves, once again, that no one understands the multiple-platforming world better than the comic book company originally, and fittingly, known as Timely Publications.

  • 'The Comedians' works as star vehicle, 'Louie' as thought play

    'The Comedians' works as star vehicle, 'Louie' as thought play

    In a stroke of conceptual programming fit for the lead paragraph of a review like this, FX has scheduled two series in which comedians play versions of themselves one after the other on Thursday nights.

  • 'A.D. the Bible Continues' a Sunday school lesson in your den

    'A.D. the Bible Continues' a Sunday school lesson in your den

    Maybe the only thing more daunting than living up to the expectations of a miniseries called "The Bible" is making the sequel. After you've chronicled the birth, life and crucifixion of the only son of God, how do you top that? Add a talking cat?

  • An arresting presence in 'Wolf Hall'

    An arresting presence in 'Wolf Hall'

    Beginning Sunday and for the following five weeks, PBS' "Masterpiece Theatre" will be the home of "Wolf Hall." When I say that it is no "Downton Abbey," I mean it in the best way.

  • 'Big Time in Hollywood, FL' a weak shot at absurd comedy

    'Big Time in Hollywood, FL' a weak shot at absurd comedy

    Created by Alex Anfanger and Dan Schimpf, whose online series "Next Time on Lonny" was "discovered" by Ben Stiller, Comedy Central's new series, "Big Time in Hollywood, FL," chronicles the lives of two online filmmakers longing to be discovered by someone like Ben Stiller.

  • 'Full Circle's' in a sticky situation with Chicago cops

    'Full Circle's' in a sticky situation with Chicago cops

    The first season of "Full Circle," which returns Wednesday on DirecTV's Audience Network, was written by the playwright Neil LaBute and based loosely on Arthur Schnitzler's play "La Ronde." Each episode was an encounter between two characters, one of whom went on to encounter another character...

  • In 'Bloodline,' dark business is afoot in the sunny Florida Keys

    In 'Bloodline,' dark business is afoot in the sunny Florida Keys

    "Bloodline," whose first and probably not last season appears all at once Friday on Netflix, comes from Glenn and Todd Kessler and Daniel Zelman, creators of the celebrated FX/DirecTV Glenn Close legal thriller "Damages."

  • 'iZombie' is smart, scary and fun

    'iZombie' is smart, scary and fun

    It seems like you can't spit without hitting a supernatural crime fighter nowadays. But there is the herd, and there are those who stand out from the herd; there is the mainstream, and there is that funny little pond over there, full of its own kind of life.

  • 'Community' is back in session, this time on Yahoo Screen

    'Community' is back in session, this time on Yahoo Screen

    When last we saw "Community" nearly a year ago, Greendale Community College had narrowly missed being sold to Subway, the sandwich people. Typically, it was a metaphor for the show itself, which had struggled to survive throughout the years; "Save Greendale!" was the fifth season's hashtaggy theme.

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