(Ed. Note: I’m in a different time zone with laptop issues this week so Clarence’s take on the most recent episode of Turn was a bit delayed. My fault, not his)

Turn’s pilot episode had flashes of violence, borrowing the sounds of stabbed corpses from its gorier AMC cousin The Walking Dead. The subsequent offerings, however, have mostly relied on bloodless gunplay and spy intrigue for action. That practice ended as this week’s episode, Mr. Culpeper, provided Turn’s bloodiest hour to date.

We begin with a scene that confused some across the Internet. A man, later to be revealed as civilian strategist Nathanial Sackett (memorably played by character actor Stephen Root), devises “Scenario 37” during which we see our hero, Abe Woodhull, exposed as a spy in a botched intel exchange. He is shot and left to bleed to death. The scene then cuts to Sackett crumpling a piece of paper (the failed “Scenario 37”), revealing the Abe’s death to be the imagined outcome of a failed plan. A clever ruse on the part of the creators, but just an illusion nonetheless.

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Every year near Halloween, I make a pilgrimage to Universal Studios Orlando for their annual Halloween Horror Nights. Much more than your standard haunted house experience, the intoxicating and gory event frightens by using all of the senses to transport you to specific times and places. Well-trained actors jump at you from dark corners and from behind objects in unexpected ways. This past year, I was able to walk through The Walking Dead’s Woodbury, the English moors of An American Werewolf in London, and the titular cabin from Cabin in the Woods. Each experience feels brilliantly authentic… and scary as hell.

That’s what it feels like to watch Showtime’s new series Penny Dreadful.

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Ok Emmy, I’m giving you the chance to get on the Matthew Rhys bandwagon before it’s too late and you end up looking like a dumbass as usual. The thing is, you should’ve acknowledged him last year in the debut season of The Americans, but I realize there’s so much great TV now it’s hard to keep up with what’s what… oh, wait… keeping up with what’s what is your job? Oh yeah, it is and you blew it last year. Well, it’s not too late to correct that mistake this year.

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Season 2, Episode 10: The Immutable Truth (Season Finale)

Bates Motel wrapped up its uneven second season Monday night with an above-average season finale that focused largely on the Norma/Norman Bates dynamic, delivering at least one brilliantly cringe-inducing moment. It was a significant improvement over the first season finale, which meandered and only really delivered significant thrills in its final moments.

The dynamic duo of Sheriff Romero and Dylan (both saddled with material better suited to a different show) freed Norman from the metal box half-buried in the woods near White Pine Bay. Norma quickly took over by professing her deep love for son/nephew Dylan and by continuing to shelter Norman with the intent of pushing off as long as she could the polygraph test Romero demanded.

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“It’s me, BenDeLaCreme! I’m back!” said Michelle Visage at the beginning of the “Sissy That Walk” episode.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the real DeLa, much to the chagrin of many “Drag Race” fans, who took to Twitter last week to vent (we were on suicide watch). In terms of favorites, BenDeLaCreme was the great sickening hope of this season. Maybe it was because she had an uncanny resemblance to Michelle Visage. Maybe it was the way she shed campy fake tears as the mother of the bride at the drag weddings a few weeks ago. Whatever the reason, DeLa should be in the top four.

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FOX briefly interrupted your 24-gasm tonight to give you a taste of their upcoming DC series Gotham which traces the origins of Batman, Cat Woman, Riddler, Joker, Penguin et al. while apparently adding in a few new wrinkles.

I’m not sure the network can be trusted to do this right, and if they do to keep it on the air, but OK, the trailer has my attention. Check it out after the jump

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AMC’s Turn continues to downplay the major events of the American Revolution, focusing instead on the delicate details of the war’s supporting history. The human element is on display here, illustrating the evolution of America’s first spy ring and not the bloody battles somewhat foreshadowed in the series pilot. It’s an honorable intent, but I hope not one that robs this worthy series of viewers.

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HBO announced recently that it is officially reviving its early 2000s reality show Project Greenlight. Executive produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, the series first aired on HBO in late 2001 (later moving to Bravo for its third season) and initially provided a single screenplay contest winner the opportunity to direct his/her own work. Subsequent seasons split the contest into two categories, writing and directing, with camera crews capturing the filmmaking process as undertaken by inexperienced filmmakers. This move seemed to stem from the challenges experienced by first season winner Pete Jones as he struggled to bring his vision to screen. Continue reading…

“You thought there was going to be a big creative crisis and we’d pull you off the bench but in fact we’ve been doing just fine.” – Bertram Cooper to Don Draper in last night’s Mad Men

I’d been wondering since the end of last week’s episode how long Don would last under the new restrictions placed on him as conditions to his surprise return to work and, as it appears everyone at Sterling Cooper & Partners plans to make it as difficult on Don as possible, I would not have been surprised had he not made it to the end of the latest episode as a member of the firm. Anyway, I think there is still a hole in my head from the laser beams Don was shooting out of his eyes at Peggy during a key scene in last night’s show. Continue reading…

First of all, congratulations to television for offering a larger venue for more amazing female performances than one generally finds in movies, but shame on Emmy for repeatedly failing when it comes to nominations. The fact Tatiana Maslany, the star of BBC America’s Orphan Black was ignored last year despite playing multiple yet subtly distinct roles is a massive black mark on a group of awards that all too often rewards the safe and familiar while filing to recognize the new and interesting.

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