Feature

Winter 2017 brings two high profile female-driven properties: Beaches and Big Little Lies

On our Thanksgiving podcast, both Joey and I offered our thanks for the broad diversity currently demonstrated on television, particularly with female-driven content. This isn’t a new trend. Television boasts the upper hand over film with fresh and intriguing female perspectives. Black MirrorCrazy Ex-GirlfriendVeepGame of ThronesThe Good WifeGilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Not all of these series necessarily provide positive female impressions, but all provide engrossing and unique experiences. The trend looks to continue into 2017 with two high-profile projects: Lifetime’s Beaches and HBO’s Big Little Lies.

Beaches

Based on the 1988 film and the novel by Iris Rainer Dart, Lifetime’s Beaches definitely provides the sudsier material of the two projects. The original film felt like a TV movie thanks to Garry Marshall’s benign direction. Still, that film feels like a product of a bygone era. The 1980’s produced a strong array of successful films aimed at and starring women. Beaches opened modestly but went on to gross 10 times its opening weekend. It also powered an enormously successful soundtrack.

Beaches
(Photo: Lifetime)
January brings the Lifetime remake directed by Allison Anders (Gas Food Lodging). The plot is largely the same: two girls meet and become life-long friends through success and tragedy. Idina Menzel takes the Bette Midler role of CC, an aspiring singer. Nia Long co-stars in the Barbara Hershey role of Hillary, an attorney jealous of CC’s success.

Lifetime released the first full-length trailer that, of course, features Menzel’s take on the infamous Grammy-winning anthem “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Things appear to have been modernized appropriately, and it’s nice to see a less “waspy” take on the material. The original film didn’t feature heavily in any awards conversation save the Grammys. Critics likely won’t help the remake, but audiences greatly embraced Lifetime’s similar remake Steel Magnolias, which received an Emmy nomination for Alfre Woodard. Idina Menzel would likely be the awards focus here should any heat exist. However, co-star Long has the more dramatic role. Still, if the below-mentioned Big Little Lies is as good as people want it to be, both actresses face an extremely uphill battle to an Emmy nomination.

We will know all when Lifetime unveils the project on January 21.

Big Little Lies

We’ve been anxiously awaiting this one since its initial announcement, and HBO just unveiled its premiere date. Based on the novel by Liane Moriarty, HBO’s Big Little Lies brings the more obvious pedigree over Beaches. Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers ClubWild), the film boasts a powerful, Emmy-bait cast with a script by David E. Kelley. Reese Witherspoon. Nicole Kidman. Shailene Woodley. Alexander Skarsgard. Laura Dern. Adam Scott. Zoe Kravitz. The dark comedy centers around three SoCal mothers whose deep involvement in their children’s school lives leads to murder.

This 7-episode limited series feels like the real deal on paper and in early material. Acting, writing, directing Emmy nominations all but seem assured. Assuming the quality is there, the only thing that stands in its way is HBO’s ridiculously full stable of quality limited series product (The Young Pope and The Night Of will also compete). There are only so many nominee slots to go around. Nowhere is this felt more than in the Limited Series Actress race where Kidman, Woodley, and Witherspoon could all compete. That all depends on category placement naturally.

When HBO announced the adaptation, many who’d read the original novel lamented the project’s relegation to television. In the right hands, this could have been a great film. Still, television provides the luxury to dive deeply into the characters so vividly brought to life in Moriarity’s novel.

HBO’s Big Little Lies premieres on HBO Sunday, February 19, at 9pm ET. Here’s the teaser released in October. Look for a full trailer within the next month.

November Netflix

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life has a full trailer but will Emmy care?

Full confession: I have never seen more than a single clip from Gilmore Girls. You can thank Megan and Thanksgiving for that. Lorelai. Rory. Luke. Sookie. These names reverberated throughout pop culture and Entertainment Weekly, but they never resonated with me. So, my reaction to the new Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life trailer isn’t quite as strong as many of yours may have been. And that’s totally fine. That’s the beauty of TV these days. There’s more than enough for everyone. Basically, if you can’t find something to watch, then you’re not trying very hard.

Anyway, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life arrives Thanksgiving weekend on Netflix after departing The CW in May 2007. Most of the main cast returns including Lauren Graham (Lorelai), Alexis Bledel (Rory), and Melissa McCarthy (Sookie). Edward Herrmann (Richard Gilmore) passed away on December 31, 2014. The new production chose not to recast his role, and his memory looms large (literally) in the trailer to some comic effect.

The new limited series reportedly gracefully continues from the Season 7 departure. It will consist of four, 90-minute episodes paired with seasons of the year – “Winter,” “Spring,” “Summer,” and “Fall.” Press notes call the return “a gift to the fans that have supported the series and made it clear they weren’t quite ready to say goodbye.” Just in time for the long Thanksgiving weekend, no doubt.

Trailer

Emmy Chances

The original Gilmore Girls run received a decent amount of awards attention from most major bodies – with one notable exception. Star Lauren Graham received nominations from the Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globe, Satellite, and Television Critics Association Awards. While Graham failed to win any of these awards, the series itself did win New Program of the Year from the TCAs. Emmy only recognized the critically acclaimed series once with a win in 2004 for Outstanding Makeup in a Series. That doesn’t bode well for A Year in the Life.

Category Placement

With the rebooted limited series, the first question is category placement. The X-Files, another sentimental cult favorite, recently rebooted itself with a series continuation earlier this year. Despite more favorable placement within the Limited Series categories, The X-Files 2017 run positioned itself as a 10th season, thereby meriting Emmy consideration for the overstuffed Drama categories. It received zero Emmy nominations.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life likely has an easier time with category placement. Nothing in press materials specifically calls this a “Limited Series” or “TV Movie.” In fact, they’re very cagey about how exactly they’re going to brand the series. Right now, they’re calling it an “event,” which doesn’t really clarify anything at all. Since it doesn’t unfold over the traditional hour-long format (as The X-Files did) and since it doesn’t offer a follow-up series (yet, as The X-Files eventually did), it’s likely that Gilmore Girls best fits in the Limited Series categories. That feels right honestly. Outside of that category, it would have to petition the Television Academy for placement in the Comedy Series category given the 90-minute running time of each episode. It wouldn’t stand a chance in Drama Series.

However, the Limited Series categories are incredibly stuffed already. Some early high quality entries include The Night Of, and upcoming presumably high quality entries boast HBO’s Big Little Lies, Ryan Murphy’s FeudFargo Season 3, and HBO’s The Young Pope. Will Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life stand with those high-powered entries? Will Lauren Graham break into the Lead Actress in a Limited Series category that potentially contains some of Hollywood’s most legendary modern actresses (Jessica Lange, Susan Sarandon, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, or Michelle Pfeiffer)?

Final Verdict

Critics will have to come through for this one in a really big way. Presumably they will given the series’ history unless the production pulls an Arrested Development Season 4 and tries to shake up the formula. The trailer indicates none of this, though. Golden Globe nominations will help and are much more likely as the Hollywood Foreign Press once recognized Graham. That was only once out of seven seasons, though. SAG nominations feel more likely to recognize the return of Lauren Graham to the role.

Right now, I’d say this “event” is strictly one for the fans, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It will be a different game completely if critics and awards bodies come through for the show.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life premieres November 25 on Netflix.

rocky horror 2016

Let’s get this out of the way first: I’m not a Rocky Horror Picture Show fan.

I made the mistake of watching the film—alone—before experiencing the theatrical production or watching it in a crowded theater, which is a mistake (and frankly, no fun). So my expectations for FOX’s Rocky Horror 2016 reboot, Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again, were pretty low.

Maybe it was my bleak antici-. . . pation. Maybe it was the fact that I felt like the real horror show happened the night before with the final presidential debates. But for whatever reason, I found FOX’s update to be a fun update on a cult classic. Sure, there are some awkward PC issues to deal with (will Middle America now confuse transgender actress Laverne Cox for a “transvestite?”), but overall, the two-hour movie celebrates the spirit and fandom of the original.

You can tell everyone in the cast is having a ton of fun, especially Cox. It’s nice to see her in a less dramatic role, as opposed to her darker Emmy-nominated turn on Orange is the New Black. She completely nails the voice of Tim Curry, who popularized the Dr. Frank-N-Furter role and also makes an appearance as the Criminologist Narrator in this version. Victoria Justice takes on the role of Janet, and while she gives her best Susan Sarandon, Ryan McCartan outshines her as Brad. Adam Lambert is a welcome cameo, filling the motorcycle seat of the ill-fated Eddie, who was played by Meatloaf in the 1975 film.

For devotees of the original, this version is not as gritty looking, more splashy and stylized, with an ending a little too drawn out to fill up that two-hour mark. It feels like one long music video instead of a bizarre sci-fi flick, which isn’t a bad thing. And while Rocky Horror 2016 has faced some criticism for looking like a filmed stage musical, director Kenny Ortega uses a lot of slick, interesting camera moves, as opposed to some of NBC’s productions, which just look like they stuck a camera on an on-stage turtle during a Broadway show. With Grease and now Rocky Horror, I would say FOX is seriously giving the Peacock a serious run for its money when it comes to the theatrical musicals.

Naysayers, give it a try. It’s just a jump to the left.

American Horror Story

American Horror Story shakes things up with ‘Roanoke’ Chapter 6… Spoilers ahead…

Proceed no further ye readers lest ye be spoiled of last eve’s American Horror Story: Roanoke revelations. Complain and ye blood be split to consecrate this land!

Ahem.

So, this season of American Horror Story differed significantly from previous seasons. It offered a toned-down, unplugged feeling. It offered a darker season that focused on real scares over scarily great costumes and set design. As a result to non-cynics, it’s felt like a complete breath of fresh air in a potentially stagnating series.

The one nagging question for many viewers was “What’s the point of the reality show structure?” At least one ADTV team member (Megan) felt the structure undercut the scares. If Lily Rabe and Andre Holland shared their story, then clearly they survived the events documented in “My Roanoke Nightmare,” the show within a show. But last night’s episode, “Chapter 6,” made clear the intent of the entire season, and now Roanoke becomes something completely different and potentially even more thrilling.

The action begins with reality producer Sidney James (Cheyenne Jackson in a role seemingly better suited to Veep‘s Reid Scott) proposing a sequel series to what was a huge hit in “My Roanoke Nightmare.” The new twist is that he proposes to ship the “real” players in the story plus their actor counterparts back to North Carolina to live in the same house during the blood moon. Cameras placed throughout the house would document their experience, jolted by a few purposefully placed fright triggers in case nothing happened. Seems that, when “My Roanoke Nightmare” filmed, nothing happened. Effectively, their guard is down.

This being American Horror Story, that is a foolish assumption. Carnage ensues. Think of it as a murderous Big Brother.

This twist, while somewhat predictable, does feel fresh and exciting. It gives the actors the opportunity to play their characters in a completely different light a la Vertigo or Lost Highway. The biggest beneficiary of this turn is undoubtedly Kathy Bates who layers a heavy degree of mental instability over her character who played the Butcher in “My Roanoke Nightmare.” But the entire cast feels jazzed by the shift, and it shows in their now more energetic performances. It does set up something of a high-wire act to balance scares with the logistics of having the entire house apparently wired and monitored by the unseen crew. Unless they’re all dead. 

But best of all, it’s really pretty scary. After a while, the scares of the first five episodes started to trend toward the hokey, particularly when Lady Gaga started running around the forest in that wild “woman of the woods” getup. Looking back, though, it all makes sense. I’d forgotten they were filming a hokey reality show. Now that the series approaches a linear timeline, the scares feel darker and more aligned with the best of American Horror Story.

Time will tell, but is Roanoke shaping up to be the best season yet? Early signs point to yes.

American Horror Story

Opinions are like a-holes, everyone has one. So here are our opinions on American Horror Story‘s first five seasons, ranked in order of greatness.

With the sixth and ever-so-mysterious season of American Horror Story starting tonight on FX (10pm ET), the team at AwardsDaily TV ranked their favorite seasons of the series. What will the team choose as their favorite season? Were we allured by the witches of Coven? Did we all want to stay with the residents and vampires of the Hotel Cortez? Were we sympathetic to Freak Show? Or, did we prefer checking in with the crazies of Asylum over Murder House? Read below to see our choices.

Murder House

Best In Show

Welcome to 2011 where producer Ryan Murphy unveiled a daring new horror anthology series called American Horror Story (the subtitle Murder House would come later after subsequent seasons were assured). It dug into horror tropes of the 70’s (female sexuality, fear of pregnancy, sex in general…) and meshed them beautifully with 20-century murder milestones. Black Dahlia? Check. Nurse murders? Check. Columbine? Check. Murphy penchant for kitchen-sink writing kind of worked beautifully here as we didn’t yet understand the rhythms he would undertake for the series. The cast is uniformly good with Connie Britton lending gravitas to the proceedings and, of course, Jessica Lange dominating with her Tennessee Williams-based Constance. Perhaps best of all, Murder House started in October and finished shortly before Christmas with a tight season. Whereas later seasons would drag out into the new year, this one is horror television for the ages. – Clarence Moye

Asylum

A worthy follow up

American Horror Story: Asylum aired back when audiences were super-intrigued, you might say hyper-actively committed, by the new franchise following the success of Season 1, Murder House. The second series got us hooked, confirmed our devotion. Set predominantly in a mental institution during the 1960s, the wacky characters this time fit the bill of the season’s premise: struggling inmates, evil nuns, twisted doctors, an angel of death, a horrific Santa, and even a certain Anne Frank makes an appearance. Tackling under eerie, gripping execution are themes of bloody murder, homosexuality, possession, amputations, and a whole host of fucked-upness. With 17 Emmy Award nominations, Asylum was a creepy blast with the awards bodies too. Performers like Lily Rabe, Emmy-winner James Cromwell, Zachary Quinto, and of course Sarah Paulson, particularly go for it – not to mention an unforgettable bout of the name game. – Robin Write

Hotel

Better than its reputation suggests

With Jessica Lange gone from AHS and Lady Gaga stepping in, there was going to be trepidation with the fan-favorite gone from the show after four seasons. Hotel returned the show to Downtown Los Angeles and ranks as our third favorite in the series. What did we love? Denis O’ Hare as Liz Taylor. Great as always, but the rebirth scene was such a wonderful send off for this loved character who had had such a heartwarming story arc. Sarah Paulson as Hypodermic Sally was a welcome addition but seeing her character Billie Dean Howard from Murder House was a giddy delight.

We all loved Emmy-winner Lou Eyrich for keeping the clothes off of Matt Bomer’s vampire Tristan, and we all loved that vampire orgy scene. In true AHS style, there was lots of blood and lots of sex. Finally, Lady Gaga as The Countess delivered a seamless transition from stage to TV and gave a stellar, Golden Globe-winning performance in her series debut. Each week, she donned those glam gowns and went for the kill in that Michael Schmidt glove, adding to the visual beauty of the show which remains outstanding season after season. – Jazz Tangcay

Quote of the season : ““Hack me, bludgeon me, surprise me!”

Coven

Eh…

If you were wondering what tone the third season of American Horror Story was going to have, look no further than the title of the first episode. “Bitchcraft” assures us that the scares will be aplenty but so will the toxic tone. Set in sweaty New Orleans, the season focuses on the small group of girls that attend Miss Robichaux’s Academy, and it’s basically a more violent, stylish Hogwarts. For the most part, the season tries to keep it light, but it falls apart by the end due to over-plotting and too many episodes. It’s the perfect example of how the holiday break ruins the momentum of this series. Despite a horribly villainous (and Emmy-winning) turn by Kathy Bates as slave owner Madame LaLaurie, the season really belongs to AHS newcomer Angela Bassett. Her voodoo priestess reminded us how much we missed seeing Bassett in a juicy role, and it proved that Ryan Murphy has a knack for reviving actresses’ careers. – Joey Moser

Freak Show

Worst. Season. Ever.

A lot of people love American Horror Story: Freak Show. It’s just that none of those people work at AwardsDaily TV. What started out so promising ultimately devolved into a plot-devoid, drawn-out, and exhausting mess. The major hook of the up-front ad campaign was the brilliant creation Twisty the Murdering Clown. But, as he often does, Ryan Murphy lost interest, and Twisty met a too-soon end in the series after being made something of a sympathetic figure. We want none of that. Instead, we’re given the good-looking monster Dandy (Finn Wittrock) who whined and pouted and bitched his way through the rest of the season. His personality was the biggest horror show of the whole season, nearly squashed a delicately beautiful performance from Sarah Paulson as Dot and Bette Tattler, conjoined twins. Then, there were the awful production numbers… We’re not actually convinced the Television Academy really watched the season. It garnered 19 Emmy nominations – a high for the series – but won only 5 awards in the Creative Arts categories. This was the first year the series failed to take home a major award. We think that’s because voters finally watched it rather than ticking off best friend Ryan Murphy’s name 19 times. Freak Show emerges as a sad, sad mess, and we welcome anyone to legitimately defend it. Razor-tipped glove thrown down. – Clarence Moye

American Horror Story: 6 premieres tonight on FX at 10pm ET. Check back for the full reaction from AwardsDaily TV later tonight. You can also follow @AwardsDailyTV for our AHS:6 live tweeting event.

The ADTV gang put their heads together and identified the new and returning 2016 Fall shows they’re most anticipating.

There’s a funny thing about covering the Emmys here at AwardsDaily TV… There is literally no rest for the weary. As soon as the curtain go down on September 18’s Primetime Emmy Awards, the 2016 Fall shows will kick into high gear. Recently, Megan lamented that the Fall season isn’t quite as spectacular as it once was because new television literally never stops. Programmers constantly seek the limelight for their newest series, and the Fall season isn’t quite the launching point it once was.

Still, there are several 2016 Fall shows that the ADTV team really anticipate, so we’re here to share them with you. Have some favorites of your own? Drop them in the comments.

Jazz Tangcay

American Horror Story: 6

American Horror Story Season 6 starts tonight, and, despite the teasers (we have had 25 teaser trailers), the Powers That Be at FX are keeping mum about what the next series is. So far, we’ve seen possibilities: spiders, aliens, cornfields, and the mist. OLV showed a house in Los Angeles asking what was shooting there, and it was instantly recognizable as the AHS Season 1 Murder House. Will we be revisiting the Murder House? Lady Gaga who played The Countess in Hotel will be returning for Season 6. Just after her brand new single “Perfect Illusion” dropped, FX released a new teaser with the cryptic tag “Has it all been a Perfect Illusion? The truth is revealed Wednesday. #AHS6.” We can keep on guessing, but all will be answered tonight when we find out just what this brand new season is about. Aside from Gaga, Evan Peters, Denis O’Hare, Matt Bomer, Angela Bassett, Leslie Jordan and Cheyenne Jackson will all be returning.

American Horror Story season six
Photo courtesy of Twitter/AHSFX.

24: Legacy

OK, technically, this is a February 2017 show, but the anticipation is still high. After leading a mission to eliminate terrorist leader Sheik Ibrahim Bin-Khalid, Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins), returns to the U.S. and finds out that he and his squad mates are targeted for assassination in retaliation for Bin-Khalid’s death. With nowhere else to turn, Carter asks CTU to help him save his life while also stopping one of the largest-scale terror attacks on American soil. The events will occur three years after the events in 24: Live Another Day and will take place in DC.

The show that already has a solid fan following is something I’m looking forward to. Hawkins was superb in Straight Outta  Compton. This role will give him a chance to play the hero, and that’s exciting and Homeland’s Miranda Otto appears. Kiefer Sutherland won’t be returning, but it still makes this show exciting. As with its predecessor, each hour will represent 1 hour in a 24 hour day. Its trailer was explosive!  The dying question we’ll be asking all season is, who is the mole?! Who’s going to betray Carter?

The Blacklist: Redemption

On NBC’s The Blacklist: Redemption, Undercover operative Tom Keen joins forces with Susan “Scottie” Hargrave (Famke Janssen), the brilliant and cunning chief of Grey Matters, a covert mercenary organization that solves problems governments don’t dare touch. While on the hunt for Liz’s attacker, Tom secretly discovered that Scottie is actually his biological mother. Now, as they team up to employ their unique skills and resources in a dangerous world of deadly criminals, Tom begins his own covert mission to find out more about his shadowy past.

If you watched Blacklist, this is its spin off. What is there to be excited about? Famke Janssen on Primtetime again following her stint on last season’s How To Get Away with Murder is one reason. But what about Tom working with his supposed biological mother? That’s going to add even more interesting plot turns to the show. The show already sounds like there’s going to be a lot of action filled with crime and plenty of thrills. Should we expect treachery? Yes! Fans of The Blacklist should hold on for an all new Blacklist adventure. The Blacklist: Redemption will now premiere in 2017, and not earlier previously expected. Yes, I’ve picked another 2017 show. Winter is the new Fall.

2016 Fall shows
(Photo: NBC)

Robin Write

Indian Summers

Having closely followed the first season, I somehow missed the second chapter of the colonial drama Indian Summers when it first aired here in the UK, so I’d be a plonker to neglect the opportunity to play catch-up. Lavishly shot throughout, the first season was a feast for the senses in many respects. Beautiful costumes, production design, and marvellous photography played a grand part in the show’s widespread appeal. As did the finely tuned characters and simmering story-lines over the 10 episodes. Set just about a hundred years ago in British-ruled India, the slow-burning drama portrayed the lives of the locals, as well as the English settlers, including an overly success-hungry businessman and his returning, troubled sister, complete with child but no husband.

Add to the mix a complex array of magnetic romance and family feuds. The first outing had plenty going for it – historical context, genuine drama, digestible politics, social issues of race and religion – and perhaps promised more, which kept you close enough to feed the audience anticipation. And for those still not wholly convinced, Julie Walters gets free reign to chew up as much scenery as she pleases.

Lucifer

There appears to be a box to fit everything these days when you turn on your TV (or should I say laptop, iPhone, or tablet?). The crime drama genre is one of the most flourishing, that’s for sure, and has been for decades now. The genre over the years has branched out into even more unorthodox crime-solving partnerships – the official law enforcers can’t do it all, right? With Fox’s comedic drama Lucifer, detective Chloe Decker, perfectly capable and tough-as-nails, reluctantly at first is lent a hand by none other than the sharp-tongued Lucifer Morningstar. That’s right, straight to the point, the devil himself conveniently clad in human form, is actually doing some good – and boy doesn’t his conscience know it.

Mortality and morality play their part in the show’s captivating narrative, but centrally the character of Lucifer, with all his suave and swagger, becomes more vulnerable as the good deeds mount up. The balance of the serious, the surreal, and the sustained wit is well-weaved and extremely effective here. Lauren German holds her own as a hard-shelled detective as the cracks emerge, but Tom Ellis as the super-charismatic, sarcastic, know-it-all runs the engine throughout, having tons of fun while showing depth of character. More of the same, please, after all the devil makes work for idle hands. Lucifer returns September 19 on FOX.

Joey Moser

Timeless

If you tuned into Hulu’s 11/22/63 and thought the James Franco-JFK time warp was lame, you have another opportunity to be entertained by a jump through time with NBC’s Timeless. Abigail Spencer, Malcolm Barrett, and Matt Lanter are recruited to stop a different disaster from happening every episode. The flashy previews show the historian, soldier, and scientist racing against time to stop the Hindenburg disaster, but can NBC keep this show from crashing and burning week after week? Unlike the Hulu streaming show, Timeless will jump from era to era, so we can look forward to Spencer, Barrett, and Lanter donning different period outfits and trying to prevent disasters from happening every week. If they succeed in changing history for the better, what type of repercussions will that have for the rest of time? The ripple effect could make for great television. Timeless debuts on October 3 on NBC.

Pitch

A woman has never played professionally in Major League baseball, but that all changes in FOX’s new drama, Pitch. Kylie Bunbury stars as Ginny Baker, a young woman who joins the starting lineup of the San Diego Padres as a rookie pitcher. Her entrance into the game causes quite the media firestorm, and all the attention and pressure looks like it makes Kylie questions her love of the game. Bunbury might be a new face, but she’s surrounded by television veterans. Dan Laurie plays the team’s manager, Ali Larter is Kylie’s manager, and Mark-Paul Gosselaar portrays the Padres’ catcher. Everyone loves an underdog story, and Pitch looks like it addresses that on multiple levels. Most men (and some women) consider the field sacred ground, and Kyle’s presence will no doubt shake that up. The trailers show she faces both disgruntled teammates and nonstop scrutiny from the press, so she has to play a game both on and off the field. Another reason to watch? The potential to see Gosselaar in a locker room. Pitch debuts on FOX on September 19.

Crisis in Six Scenes

Woody Allen has been involved with show business for over five decades. His work has received critical acclaim, countless awards, and an entire legion of haters. Hey, whether you love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Allen keeps himself busy. We don’t know a lot about Allen’s first foray into television, Crisis in Six Scenes, but people will no doubt tune in to see what he’s churned out. The casting is also quite interesting considering it stars Allen, Elaine May, John Magaro, Miley Cyrus, Becky Ann Baker, Michael Rapaport, and Christine Ebersole. According to the Amazon press release, the show is set in the 60’s, and a new visitor throws a wrench into a middle class family’s idyllic living situation. The only clip that has been released features Allen asking for a James Dean haircut, so there’s not much to go on. In traditional Allen fashion, he doesn’t think he delivered. A few months back, he told the LA Times, “It was a catastrophic mistake. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m floundering. I expect this to be a cosmic embarrassment.” Crisis in Six Scenes debuts on Amazon on September 30.

Clarence Moye

Westworld

My most anticipated 2016 Fall show is a bit of a cheat because I’ve already seen it. Membership has its privileges. Anyway, based on the trailers, HBO’s Westworld is a feast for the eyes and the mind. The setting is an adult Western-set playground where visitors pay mega bucks to interact with a series of extremely lifelike robots. The too-good-to-be-true mountain vistas and cool-blue interiors of the robotic lab are rendered with amazing vitality, and the screenplay provides a larger, fascinating spin on last year’s Ex-Machina. With a cast that includes Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Ed Harris, Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Wright, and Thandie Newton among others, Westworld feels almost too good to be true. Sure, there were production delays, but wouldn’t you rather have the writing team get it right rather than rush it. Vinyl anyone? Westworld premieres on HBO October 2.

Divorce

No, I’m not an HBO whore. I’m legitimately fascinated by two of their new 2016 Fall shows. Divorce is the other. Two reasons. One, it marks the great Sarah Jessica Parker’s return to HBO comedy. Now, let’s put the two Sex and the City films aside and focus on the TV show. Sex and the City was a very, very good show made great by Parker’s effortless charm and charisma. Here’s hoping she brings an ounce of that to Divorce. Two, Divorce is written by the great Sharon Horgan, recently Emmy-nominated for her brilliant work on Amazon’s Catastrophe, the best sitcom you’re most assuredly not watching. The combination of these two extremely talented women is irresistible. Divorce premieres on HBO October 9.

best tv second seasons

Many TV shows come right out of the gate in their first seasons as pop culture phenomenons (see: Desperate Housewives). But then there’s the elusive second season, which is more difficult to nail down in terms of story and maintaining the energy of the first season (see: Desperate Housewives).

Here are 6 Shows that Only Got Better in Season Two:

1. The Simpsons (FOX)

It started out as a sidecar on The Tracey Ullman Show, so when the first season of The Simpsons aired in 1989, it was a bit of an experiment. The first season was an achievement in its own right, but the second season is when Matt Groening’s pointy-haired baby really found its groove, with episodes like “Bart the Daredevil,” “The Way We Was,” and of course, the first Treehouse of Horror installment. The irony of the story: Tracy Ullman only had four seasons, and The Simpsons is the longest-running American sitcom.

2. Breaking Bad (AMC)

Breaking Bad is the little show that could. When it started in 2008, it was released with little fanfare. But soon Netflix binge-watching became a fad, and Breaking Bad only benefited. In Season 2, many important threads are planted, ones that don’t receive a proper pay-off until the final season (the ricin!). Jesse (Aaron Paul) starts dating landlord neighbor Jane (Krysten Ritter), and it’s also when audiences first get introduced to Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) in the aptly titled episode “Better Call Saul.” Finally, probably the biggest reason why Season 2 succeeds is that we finally get a taste of just how bad Walter White can be.

3. Arrested Development (FOX)

It’s no wonder the second season of Arrested Development received more Emmy nominations than any other season. This is when Mitch Hurwitz and company were done introducing these characters and really just letting their freak flags fly. Season 2 brings us Lindsey’s infamous Slut shirt, the introduction of Uncle Jack (Martin Short) and Franklin Delano Bluth, lots of chicken dances, and subtle references to the show’s episode order being cut from 22 to 18.

4. Big Brother (CBS)

CBS’s punching bag reality competition show probably didn’t make a massive shift in overall quality into its second season, but it did make a smart shift in its overall structure. In Season 1, contestants mugged for the camera while America voted on which house guest would be evicted each week. Given the sagging ratings of this experimental season, CBS smartly chose to employ a competitive edge on the show and force the contestants to vote each other out in its second season. Coupled with smarter, more “edgy” reality casting, Big Brother managed not only to avoid cancellation after its second season, but it also extended its run, as of 2016, to 18 seasons.

5. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX)

Two words: Danny DeVito. There was nothing wrong with Season 1 of FX’s “Seinfeld on crack.” Dennis, Mac, Charlie, and Sweet Dee all did fine on their own, but the added heat of DeVito in Season 2 (as Dennis and Dee’s father) definitely upped the funny factor. Want to see something especially hilarious? Watch DeVito’s Frank in his first episode, dressed in a suit and polished, and then watch a more recent episode, where he’s totally devolved into a degenerate. The more disheveled and gross he is, the longer the show has been on.

6. LOST (ABC)

Oh, if we could all go back and be a LOST fan in the second season, when there was still so much hope for answers and we were still so far away from the end. Season 2 of LOST gave us even more mystery and one of the greatest first episode cold opens ever, with the introduction of Desmond in the Hatch. We also got to meet the Tail section of the plane (that included Ana Lucia and Libby!). Go back and watch this season and pretend the writers knew what they were doing. Season 2 made it seem like they actually did.

RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars

RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars
(Photo: Logo)
RuPaul’s Drag Race is a favorite among a few of the AwardsDailyTV writing crew. Megan and I basically plan our entire year around the premiere and duration around the seasonal reality show, but this year we are treated to a second race. RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars starts its second season on Thursday night, and the anticipation is definitely revved up. In case you have somehow missed the first 8 seasons of RPDR, I am here to provide a crash course of all the contestants so you can become a superfan and join in on all the gaggery. Buckle up, hunty!

Adore

Queen: Adore Delano
Season: 6
Placement: Top 3
Most Known For: Pre-Drag Race, Adore was a contestant on season 7 of American Idol; performing a freakishly accurate Anna Nicole Smith dung Snatch Game; having the best hog body in Drag Race herstory.
Catchphrase: “Party!”
Post RPDR: She has released two albums since graduating, Till Death Do Us Party in 2014 and After Party in 2016
Number of Main Challenges Won: 3
Most Memorable Lip Sync: “Vibeology” by Paula Abdul; Adore sent Trinity K. Bonet home


RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars

Queen: Alaska Thunderfuck 5000
Season: 5
Placement: Top 3
Most Known For: Alaska was previously in a relationship with season 4 winner, Sharon Needles; the fiercest funky chicken dance you ever did see; can dress a family of 12 in a Party City tablecloth
Catchphrase: “HIIIIEEEE!!!”
Post RPDR: Alaska released her own album titled Anus; along with Drag Race contestants Willam and Courtney Act, Alaska was a model for American Apparel
Number of Main Challenges Won: 2
Most Memorable Lip Sync: Alaska is one of the only queens to never land in the bottom two. Werk, Pittsburgh queen

RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars

 

Queen: Alyssa Edwards
Season: 5
Placement: 6th place
Most Known For: Dancer extraodinaire; never being able to fully walk by a mirror; feud with Coco Montrese (but more on that later…)
Catchphrase: *mouth pop* (that I am still mad I can’t do!)
Post RPDR: Alyssa stars on her own vlog, “Alyssa Edwards’ Secret for WOWPresents
Number of Main Challenges Won: 1
Most Memorable Lip Sync: Well, damn, she was in the bottom two enough (SHADE!), but her best was against Roxxxy Andrews

RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars

 

Queen: Coco Montrese
Season: 5
Placement: 5th place
Most Known For: Feud with Alyssa Edwards; Janet Jackson impersonator in Vegas; accidental Doritos spokeswoman
Catchphrase: “I’M NOT JOKING BITCH!”
Number of Main Challenges Won: 1
Most Memorable Lip Sync: “Cold Hearted” by Paula Abdul where she sent Alyssa packing. Points for using those orange sleeves!

Detox

 

Queen: Detox
Season: 5
Placement: 4th place
Most Known For: Serving F-A-C-E and high fashion on the runway; silicon poster woman
Catchphrase: “I’ve had it! Officially!”
Number of Main Challenges Won: 1
Most Memorable Lip Sync: Detox is well known for her spastic jawline during lip syncs, but her best was when she sent Lineysha Sparx near the beginning of the season.

Ginger

 

Queen: Ginger Minj
Season: 7
Placement: Top 3
Most Known For: Being a glamour toad; having her basement flooded on multiple occasions; …probably the true heir of the season 7 crown…too soon?
Catchphrase: “I’m sweet, petite, and ready to eat.” “I’m a cross dresser for Christ.”
Number of Main Challenges Won: 3
Most Memorable Lip Sync: Ginger didn’t lip sync much, but she did have to face off against Trixie Mattel dressed as both man and woman.

Katya

 

Queen: Katya
Season: 7
Placement: 5th and winner of Miss Congeniality
Most Known For: Being completely and utterly unpredictable; can spread her legs quicker than any other contestant; having the best laugh
Catchphrase: Katya doesn’t necessarily have a catchphrase as much as she has random quips; “I don’t jump for joy. I frolic in doubt.” “I am my own worst enema.” “I’m not young. I’m just ignorant.”
Post RPDR: Katya is working on a one-woman show titled, “Love Stories from my Vagina” but she can also be found on WOWPresents vlog “UNHhhh” with Trixie Mattel.
Number of Main Challenges Won: 2
Most Memorable Lip Sync: I don’t want to talk about when she got eliminated, because I will get too emotional…but she did sent Sasha Belle home.

Phi Phi

 

Queen: Phi Phi O’Hara
Season: 4
Placement: Top 3
Most Known For: Being the first true bitch in Drag Race herstory? Making everyone in Pittsburgh angry when she yelled at Sharon Needles; being unbelievably hot out of drag
Catchphrase: “Go back to Party City where you belong!”
Post RPDR: Phi Phi is currently publishing “365 Days of Drag” on her Instagram (her drag has obviously evolved from spray tan, Trump chic), and everyone should be impressed by her jaw-dropping cosplay
Number of Main Challenges Won: 2
Most Memorable Lip Sync: Phi Phi and Sharon Needles faced off in one of the most spastic lip syncs of all time but the entire thing was moot since Willam was disqualified.

 

Roxxxy

 

Queen: Roxxxy Andrews
Season: 5
Placement: Top 3
Most Known For: Being juicy and not apologizing for it; mispronouncing “sequins” and defending it; having a wig underneath a wig…case closed.
Catchphrase: “Where my people at?!”
Number of Main Challenges Won: 3
Most Memorable Lip Sync: She. Had. A. Wig. Underneath. Her. Wig.

Tatianna

 

Queen: Tatianna
Season: 2
Placement: 4th
Most Known For: Pulling off an eerily good Britney Spears illusion and winning the first Snatch Game; sexiness for days; single handedly responsible for gay men questioning their sexuality
Catchphrase: “Thank you.”
Number of Main Challenges Won: 1
Most Memorable Lip Sync: Tatianna managed to send fan favorite Jessica Wild packing even though she was dressed like a sexy prisoner

Who are you rooting for this season? Are you thrilled that Ro-Laska-Tox is reuniting? Are you secretly hoping that Alyssa and Coco reignite their feud? If you need something to do while you watch the premiere, head over to Chad Sell’s website to download some coloring sheets of each queen!

Westworld controversy

TCA attendees were treated to a significant Westworld controversy after viewing two episodes

HBO held a large Westworld press screening at the Television Critics Association (TCA) on Saturday. There, TCA attendees were able to view the first two episodes of the twice-delayed futuristic Western series, based on the 1973 film written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton. The inception of the series has not been an easy one, but early looks have been dazzling. According to multiple news outlets, the presentation did not go without a Westworld controversy of its own.

As originally reported in The Hollywood Reporter, the series’ opening scene features Evan Rachel Wood’s android character dragged to be raped off-screen by the villainous Man in Black (Ed Harris). The scene perhaps provided the rallying cry that pressers needed to pounce on the project. After many delays and a heavy budget, it already feels like the press is pre-disposed to react negatively to the project. After 2014’s huge Game of Thrones rape storyline, this isn’t the kind of Westworld controversy HBO needed.

Set in a world where human appetite is satiated through an advanced virtual reality populated by androids, Westworld stars Anthony Hopkins, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Wood, Harris, among others. It’s the presumed heir-apparent to the Game of Thrones crown as that Emmy-winning series declared its end with Season 8 at TCA. HBO has publicly struggled to build the Next Big Thing after Boardwalk Empire ended and Vinyl crashed. It’s very fair to note that similar concerns over HBO’s future slate happened post Sex and the City and The Sopranos.

But the rape controversy hits particularly hard after the series already obtained a reputation for its vivid orgies and strong sexual content. The Hollywood Reporter mentioned HBO’s new programming chief was rattled by the reaction Saturday morning.

Sexual violence is an issue we take seriously; it’s extraordinarily disturbing and horrifying. And in its portrayal, we endeavored for it to not be about the fetishization of those acts. It’s about exploring the crime…” Lisa Joy, Westworld showrunner

Showrunner Lisa Joy indicated the series tries to illustrate the full human struggle – including sexual violence – against the android and virtual setting.

“It was definitely something that was heavily discussed and considered as we worked on those scenes,” showrunner Lisa Joy said. “Westworld is an examination of human nature. The best parts of human nature — paternal love, romantic love, finding oneself — but also the basis for parts of human nature —violence and sexual violence. Violence and sexual violence have been a fact of human history since the beginning. There’s something about us — thankfully not the majority of us — but there are people who have engaged in violence and who are victims of violence.”

“When we were tackling a project about a park with premise where you can come there and do whatever desire you want with impunity and without consequence, it seemed like an issue we had to address,” she continued. “In addressing it, there’s a lot of thinking that goes into it. Sexual violence is an issue we take seriously; it’s extraordinarily disturbing and horrifying. And in its portrayal, we endeavored for it to not be about the fetishization of those acts. It’s about exploring the crime, establishing the crime and the torment of the characters within this story and exploring their stories hopefully with dignity and depth and that’s what what we endeavored to do.”

No widespread Westworld reactions out of TCA yet, although one critic appeared to respond positively to the episodes on Twitter. She later went on to share that Episode 2 starts deconstructing the “rape implication/gratuitous tit shots” of the pilot.

Westworld premieres on HBO Sunday, October 2.

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