Tag: HBO

The Best TV of 2010 – A Repeat Viewing Part 3


Without interesting characters there can be no compelling storytelling, and for me the most interesting characters are those with serious flaws. Some are repellent yet intriguing, some are absolutely villainous but possess such charisma that you can’t help but be enthralled and others live in a world where difficult decisions must be made and you can’t fault them for sometimes choosing the morally ambiguous action.

There were a lot of amazing characters on television this past year, but the ones below resonated the most and elevated their respective shows to a higher echelon of scripted fare.

Kenny Powers – Eastbound & Down – Played with delightful mullet-ed bravado by Danny McBride, Kenny “Fuckin'” Powers possesses the rare qualities of being boorishly self-deluded while also endearing with the ability to garner sympathy for his continued back-slide into life’s lowest points, even though his own actions are always the catalyst. Constantly inappropriate, whether in the halls of the middle school in season 1 or this past year when his tactless behavior found its way south of the border, he’s his biggest fan and is never afraid to show it with a flair all his own.
Russell EdgingtonTrue Blood – The third season of HBO’s Southern Gothic vampire series brought in the most nuanced and entertaining villain currently on television. Kudos to Denis O’Hare for imbuing depth into such a character who could’ve been written off as more flamboyant than fierce, his vampire King of Mississippi Russell Edgington was at turns a gentleman – most notably his entrance atop a beautifully groomed horse dressed impeccably as if on his way to a dressage – who could morph into a monster in a split second as seen near the end of the season when interrupting a news broadcast to announce his evil machinations to the world.
Gemma Teller MorrowSons of Anarchy – As matriarch of outlaw motorcycle club the Sons of Anarchy, Gemma holds court with the kind of strength and ferocity found in a Shakespearean leading lady thanks in large part to the stellar work of Katey Sagal. As the family drama of the show is loosely based on the plot found in Hamlet, she is at heart Queen Gertrude, but time and again she demonstrates the cunning, cutthroat personality of Lady MacBeth especially when it comes to matters involving her family. In season three’s antepenultimate episode “Bainne,” Gemma digs deep into her badass repertoire and goes so far as to hold a gun to an orphan baby’s head to extract information out of the nun who knows the whereabouts of her grandson. A shocking display that further cements her as someone not to be trifled with and never underestimate.

Honorable Mention: Ensemble Party Down (RIP) – The cancellation of this brilliant Starz comedy from Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas was heartbreaking as the exploits of this ragtag group of Los Angeles cater waiters looking for their big break in Tinseltown quickly became my favorite part of Friday night television. It was always hard to decide which character was the strongest in the bunch until I realized it was the combination of all the players that gave the show such verve. Even with the small cast change between its first and second year (losing Jane Lynch but gaining Megan Mullally!) everyone congealed in a way that made this series shoot to the top of my Brilliant But Cancelled list.

I Told You I Was Freaky

Jemaine and Bret - Who like to rock the party.

To commemorate the release of Flight of the Conchord’s newest album, a little video treat from the second season of their HBO series. One of the best moments in that season, both as a musical break and an episode (“Unnatural Love”) as a whole which was directed by the amazing Michel Gondry. For those uninitiated with FotC prepare to fall in love with this sedately zany New Zealand comic-folk duo.

Breakout Star Membership Has its Privileges

HBO and Bravo are both betting that a bevy of their breakout stars will shine on in new outings coming up in the next year.

Bravo announced they are developing three new projects starring some of their most recent reality stars: Bethenny Frankel (The Real Housewives of New York City), Christian Siriano (season 4 winner of Project Runway) and Fabio Viviani (Top Chef: New York).

The untitled show starring Frankel will showcase her career as a natural foods chef (side note: everyone who is a chocolate or baked good lover MUST try her Low Fat Fudge Chocolate Chip Muffins, seriously to die), as well as the Gotham socialite’s love life. The original fierce fashion-maker Siriano will be featured in his show as he sets up a new shop and markets his clothing line. Viviani will star in “Fabio: A Catered Affair,” which will chronicle the challenges he faces as he and business partner Jacopo Falleni look to expand their restaurant and catering business in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile on the scripted show front, HBO is beginning production on a new series collaboration with Australian comedian Chris Lilley, creator of Summer Heights High which the cabler launched to American audiences and strong critical reviews last November. That show, about life at a public school, starred Lilley as three different characters: Mr. G, a drama teacher; Ja’mie, a female exchange student; and Jonah Takalua, a dancing delinquent.

Unlike Summer, which HBO picked up as a straight acquisition, the channel will be co-producing the new series Angry Boys along with the Australian Broadcasting Co. Lensed in a mock-documentary style and revolving around what its like to be a male in the 21st century, Lilley, will again play multiple characters and promises “lots of surprises for the audience.”

Pre-production on Angry Boys, which will shoot 12 half-hour episodes, begins in Australia this month.

2009 61st Annual Primetime Emmy Winners

61st Primetime Emmy(R) AwardsOh, awards shows. You and I need to have a serious discussion because I can’t stand being the submissive in this kinky little relationship of ours anymore. Finding myself continually coming back to you each time with a deluded excitement that maybe this will be the year you surprise and thrill me, and after half an hour I cannot stay glued to my seat. Yet I stick with you to the bitter end, bad taste in my mouth with a sense of “meh” and “well, I could’ve just checked the IMDb live winner update feed.”

While this seems a backlash of a post, please read as a request for awards telecasts to step up the entertainment and for the various academies to change up the voting habits – not that I don’t love my 30 Rock or Mad Men (congrats to wins not only for best show in their respective categories, but writing too!) – because sitting through 3 hours of “announce list of nominees, open envelope, read winner, not-amusing-nor-poignant acceptance speech, rinse, repeat” gets a little taxing and I think more of us would welcome some upsets, blunders and outbursts once in awhile.

Tonight’s major category winners:

Drama Series: “Mad Men,” AMC

Comedy Series: “30 Rock,” NBC

Actor, Drama Series: Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad,” AMC

Actress, Drama Series: Glenn Close, “Damages,” FX Networks

Actor, Comedy Series: Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock,” NBC

Actress, Comedy Series: Toni Collette, “United States of Tara,” Showtime

Supporting Actor, Drama Series: Michael Emerson, “Lost,” ABC.

Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Cherry Jones, “24,” Fox.

Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: Jon Cryer, “Two and a Half Men,” CBS.

Supporting Actress, Comedy Series: Kristin Chenoweth, “Pushing Daisies,” ABC.

Miniseries: “Little Dorrit” PBS.

Made-for-TV Movie: “Grey Gardens,” HBO.

Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Brendan Gleeson, “Into the Storm,” HBO.

Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Jessica Lange, “Grey Gardens,” HBO.

Supporting Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Ken Howard, “Grey Gardens,” HBO.

Supporting Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Shohreh Aghdashloo, “House of Saddam,” HBO.

Directing for a Comedy Series: “The Office: Stress Relief,” Jeff Blitz, NBC.

Directing for a Drama Series: “ER: And in the End,” Rod Holcomb, NBC.

Directing for a Variety, Music, or Comedy Series: “American Idol: Show 833 (The Final Three),” Bruce Gowers, Fox.

Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special: “Little Dorrit: Part 1,” Dearbhla Walsh, PBS.

Variety, Music, or Comedy Series: “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” Comedy Central.

Reality-Competition Program: “The Amazing Race,” CBS.

Writing for a Comedy Series: “30 Rock: Reunion,” Matt Hubbard, NBC.

Writing for a Drama Series: “Mad Men: Meditations in an Emergency,” Kater Gordon and Matthew Weiner, AMC.

Writing for a Variety, Music, or Comedy Series: “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” Comedy Central.

Writing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special: “Little Dorrit,” Andrew Davies, PBS.

Host, Reality or Reality-Competition Program: Jeff Probst, “Survivor,” CBS.

Original Music and Lyrics: “81st Annual Academy Awards: Song Title: Hugh Jackman Opening Number,” ABC.

Hey Donkey, I’m Mark Wahlberg – I Produce Scorsese’s New HBO Series

Say "hi" to your mutha for me.Further cementing their relationship with HBO, after hit shows Entourage and In Treatment, Mark Wahlberg’s Closest to the Hole and manager Stephen Levinson’s Leverage production banners have finalized a deal with the premium net to bring the Martin Scorsese-helmed pilot for Boardwalk Empire to series. Scorsese will stay on board as a hands-on exec producer.

Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, Rise and Corruption of Atlantic City by Nelson JohnsonCreated by Sopranos alum Terence Winter, the period drama, based on Nelson Johnson’s book of the same name, is set during the early days of Prohibition in Atlantic City and revolves around the life of bigwig Nucky Thompson, who is described as “equal parts politician and gangster.” Steve Buscemi will star as Thompson. Co-stars include Michael Pitt, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon, Shea Whigham, Dabney Coleman and Stephen Graham.

HBO has ordered 11 episodes of the series which is expected to begin production in the fall in NYC, with the premiere targeted for next year.

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