Netflix Pick: ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK

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With Netflix picking up 14 Primetime Emmy nominations on Thursday, all eyes are now on the Internet television production and streaming website – coinciding with the release of their newest episodic hit, Orange is the New Black.

The show follows Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), whose past relationship tangled her in a drug smuggling ring and caused her to self-surrender to an all-female correctional facility. Comprised of present day and flashback shots, this show brings a whole new meaning to a timeline dramedy.

The ensemble is propelled with former stars, like Laura Prepon (That 70’s Show) and Jason Biggs (American Pie), and introduces a bunch of new names – particularly, Uzo Aduba, a Medfield High School graduate, like myself. It’s nice to see a hometown girl make it big – especially with all the critical buzz around this show.

Jenji Kohan, the mastermind behind Weeds, is the showrunner for this innovative series that deals with the often-tabooed subject of the inner-workings of the prison system – specifically all-female correctional facilities.

The show has already been picked up for a second season, so it seems as though Piper will be sporting an orange jumpsuit for quite a bit longer.

Side note: the opening theme was written and performed by one of my favorite artists, Regina Spektor. Take a listen to “You’ve Got Time.” 

My Take on the 65th Emmy Award Nominations

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Earlier today, Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) and Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) announced the nominations for the 65th Emmy Awards. Like I tweeted earlier, nothing irks me more than Emmy snubs. Below is my reaction to the various categories from this year’s nomination list. Enjoy and argue with me. I dare you.

Outstanding Comedy Series

The Big Bang Theory

Girls

Louie

Modern Family

30 Rock

Veep

The nominations this year are exactly what I pictured. While I’m pulling for a Veep sweep, the voters made a huge mistake in passing on the three most talked about comedies of the year: New Girl, Parks and Recreation, and the Netflix Semi-Original Series, Arrested Development. All of these shows are CONSISTENTLY funny, where as the sloe of nominees have been spotty in their respective past seasons.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Laura Dern, Enlightened

Lena Dunham, Girls

Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie

Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

Tina Fey, 30 Rock

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

While Lena Dunham is coming off her Golden Globe win, I think the prize will once again be rewarded to last year’s winner, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, as a part of the Veep sweep. Dreyfus made history this morning by scoring her thirteenth nod, surpassing Lucielle Ball’s record of twelve, making her the most-nominated comedic actress at the Emmys. Although I’m content with this year’s crop of nominees, I would have liked to see a little loving for the FOX Tuesday girls, Mindy Kaling and Zooey Deschenel. Both of their shows WEREN’T canceled *cough* Laura Dern *cough* and they were both hysterical.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Jason Bateman, Arrested Development

Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

Matt LeBlanc, Episodes

Don Cheadle, House of Lies

Louis C.K., Louie

Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock

With the many snubs Arrested Development suffered this year, I’m pulling for Jason Bateman. Other than that, no real surprises or snubs here.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory

Jane Lynch, Glee

Sofia Vergara, Modern Family

Julie Bowen, Modern Family

Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie

Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock

Anna Chlumsky, Veep

My jaw literally dropped when I saw that both Jane Krawkowski and Anna Chlumsky were nominated, but, once again, I’m pulling for the Veep sweep. But where is The Office star Jenna Fischer? She did some of her greatest acting and really held the show together in its final season. And that monologue she had that closed the series? Beautiful, and nominated in the writing category. Also, what happened to everyone’s thought that Jessica Walter would for sure take the prize for Arrested Development?

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Adam Driver, Girls

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family

Ed O’Neill, Modern Family

Ty Burrell, Modern Family

Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live

Tony Hale, Veep

Is it really necessary to have all these Modern Family guys here? I think not. Again, I’m loving Tony Hale and I’m pulling for the Veep sweep. But it would be shocking and painfully awkward if the award went to Adam Driver, whose controversial sex scenes caused many to question the validity of Girls as a television comedy. The guys from New Girl, Jake Johnson and Max Greenfield, deserve some recognition for their roles, especially after the “TinFinity” episode. Also, where’s Will Arnett from Arrested Development?

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series

David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik, Episodes

Louis C.K. and Pamela Adlon, Louie

Greg Daniels, The Office

Jack Burditt and Robert Carlock, 30 Rock

Tina Fey and Tracey Wigfield, 30 Rock

I was shocked to see that Lena Dunham did not get the trifecta of nominations here, as she scored acting and directing nods as well. I’m pulling for The Office here – specifically for the final testimonials of the show. Grab a few tissues and watch the ending.

Outstanding Drama Series

Breaking Bad

Downton Abbey

Game of Thrones

Homeland

House of Cards

Mad Men

This is the first time I have seen all the nominated dramas in their entirety. I’m not sure if I’m proud of that or not, but, alas, I would have to say that Homeland will have a very tough time reclaiming their title. I’m thinking Game of Thrones may steal the crown. But what about The Newsroom and The Americans? There’s just too much good television, I guess.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel

Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey

Claire Danes, Homeland

Robin Wright, House of Cards

Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men

Connie Britton, Nashville

Kerry Washington, Scandal

Why did I just read Vera Farmiga’s and Connie Britton’s names on this list? Pissed. Anyway, it’s looking like another victory for Danes is slim and Robin Wright just might be the one to snag it from her. Regardless, I’m still rooting for Danes here.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad

Hugh Bonneville, Downtown Abbey

Damian Lewis, Homeland

Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

Jon Hamm, Mad Men

Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom

Jon Hamm FINALLY deserves a turn to take the prize, and if you don’t believe me just watch this clip.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad

Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

Emilia Clarke, Game of Throne
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Christine Baranski, The Good Wife

Morena Baccarin, Homeland

Christina Hendricks, Mad Men

I am ecstatic about Anna Gunn, Maggie Smith, and Emilia Clarke, but the other three need some replacing. The talented Michelle Fairley led the water cooler episode of the year, Game of Thrones’ “Rains of Castamere,” and her snub was just not “fair.” Also, Kate Mara’s eye-opening performance as a corrupt reporter in House of Cards definitely deserves some recognition.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Bobby Cannavale, Boardwalk Empire

Jonathan Banks, Breaking Bad

Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad

Jim Carter, Downtown Abbey

Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones

Mandy Patinkin, Homeland

Last year, Downton Abbey dominated this category and I am kind of upset that they didn’t do it again, given the amazing performances by Rob-James Collier and Alan Leech. Also, where are the Mad Men? John Slattery deserves better than this.

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

George Mastras, Breaking Bad

Thomas Schnauz, Breaking Bad

Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, Game of Thrones

Henry Bromell, Homeland

Much like The Office writing nod redeemed Jenna Fischer’s snub, the Game of Thrones writing nod redeemed Michelle Fairley’s snub. If the words “Rains of Castamere” or “Red Wedding” mean nothing to you, you should reevaluate your life by starting here. But Julian Fellows may take the prize for also killing off an important character… No spoilers, of course.

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie

American Horror Story: Asylum

Behind The Candelabra

The Bible

Phil Spector

Political Animals

Top of the Lake

Holler at AHS for collecting seventeen nominations, topping the list of nominated shows this year. Kind of upset that Parade’s End didn’t make the cut, but it is well represented elsewhere.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie

Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Asylum

Laura Linney, The Big C: Hereafter

Helen Mirren, Phil Spector

Sigourney Weaver, Political Animals

Elisabeth Moss, Top Of The Lake

This nomination should read, “Jessica Lange for The Jessica Lange Show,” because she truly stole the small screen as Sister Jude in American Horror Story: Asylum. Elisabeth Moss, a double nominee, took the prize from her at the Critics’ Choice Awards, so anything is possible.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie

Michael Douglas, Behind The Candelabra

Matt Damon, Behind The Candelabra

Toby Jones, The Girl

Benedict Cumberbatch, Parade’s End

Al Pacino, Phil Spector

The Internet’s Favorite Son, Benedict Cumberbatch is nominated once again, but has traded his get-up as a modern Sherlock Holmes for a World War I uniform in Parade’s End. He won’t win, but he should.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie

Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Asylum

Imelda Staunton, The Girl

Ellen Burstyn, Political Animals

Charlotte Rampling, Restless

Alfre Woodard, Steel Magnolias

Sarah Paulson must win.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie

James Cromwell, American Horror Story: Asylum

Zachary Quinto, American Horror Story: Asylum

Scott Bakula, Behind The Candelabra

John Benjamin Hickey, The Big C: Hereafter

Peter Mullan, Top of the Lake

Likewise, Zachary Quinto must win. Also the men of Top of the Lake took over the Critics’ Choice nominations, but only the Emmy voters only invited Peter Mullan to their show.

Rekindling My Love for LOST

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Yesterday, G4 played a marathon of the first six Lost episodes. Needless to say, I was occupied for those six hours, reliving the show that thrilled audiences like no other during its run from 2004 to 2010.

Regardless of whether you liked the ending (or the time-travel twists starting in Season 4) or not, there is something to be said about the show’s beautiful cinematography and lurid characters. Each of them provides an interesting vantage point on their past lives and on the moment of the plane’s fated crash.

Many shows and films in the post-9/11 world became very sensitive to race and religion, but Lost tackled the cultural barriers head on. From Sawyer accusing Sayid of being a terrorist to Jin commanding Sun to cover up in the presence of the other survivors – particularly Michael, a black man. (Also, I love the scene in Season 2 when Rose is reunited with Bernard and everyone is shocked that he’s an old, white guy).

The series also reinvented the “musical montage,” as the most powerful moments of the show were free of dialogue and acted brilliantly by the characters’ movements and facial expressions. In the show’s third episode, “Tabula Rasa,” the castaways finally take a breather after a few days of panic and chaos following the crash as Hurley listens to “Wash Away” by Joe Purdy on his walkman. Another great montage opens Season 2 and follows a mysterious man, who we learn to be Desmond, as he works out to the musical stylings of Mama Cass’ “Make Your Own Kind of Music.” The last notable montage opens the third season, and again it follows a mysterious character, who we learn to be Juliet, as she prepares for her book club while listening to Petula Clare’s “Downtown.” 

Again, I don’t care if you liked the ending or not (I personally loved it), but there is no denying that the Seasons 1-3 are some of the greatest achievements in television. Period. If you’ve yet to witness this amazing show, be sure to check out all six seasons on Netflix or the occasional G4 marathons!

Netflix Pick: HOUSE OF CARDS

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“Give and take. Welcome to Washington.” These words, uttered by the ruthless and cunning Congressman Francis “Frank” Underwood, the anti-hero of House of Cards, perfectly sums up the  first season of the political drama.

Congressman Underwood, played by Academy Award winner Kevin Spacy (American Beauty), and his wife Claire, played by Golden Globe nominee Robin Wright (Forrest Gump), are a conniving duo that plot to take the White House by any means necessary. But, of course, they have to use discretion in D.C.

The show also follows budding journalist Zoe Barnes, played by Kate Mara (American Horror Story). Barnes begins a work-and-play relationship with the Congressman, who toys her into leaking groundbreaking stories to advance his own career and eliminate his competition.

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On a separate, but related, note, they should cast Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) as Barnes twin sister, because the two are practically identical in appearance and demeanor.

One aspect I love about this show is the abundance of dark symbolism. From Frank’s rowing machine to Claire’s eye-opening encounters around the city (the homeless man giving her a paper crane made out of a $20 bill, the widow screeching at her in the cemetery, the older Starbucks employee who doesn’t know how to use the touch-screen register, Adam’s photographs of her, etc.) the cinematography is captivating and haunting.

House of Cards is a Netflix Original series, created by Beau Willmon. It is adaption of a BBC miniseries, which can also be found on the site’s “Watch Instant” feature.

Between this show, Arrested Development, and the newly buzzing Orange is the New Black, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Netflix crew representing at this year’s Emmy Awards in September.

Not a Netflix Pick: NOBODY WALKS

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My respect for the very talented and very funny Lena Dunham has turned a little sour after watching Nobody Walks, a film she penned about a young, struggling filmmaker, Martine, (Olivia Thirlby) who seeks the help of a middle-aged sound technician, Peter, (John Krasinski) to complete her project.

In typical Dunham fashion, she makes all the female characters into hardcore feminist figures, exposing their sexuality to their male counterparts with no intention of making a meaningful connection.

Martine comes from New York stay at the West Coast home of Peter and Julie (Rosemarie DeWitt) to work on her film. Julie, a semi-famed feminist and psychologist, has an interesting relationship with one of her patients, in that he has an unquenched attraction towards her. Similarly, her teenage daughter, Kolt, leads on three separate men in a sort of coming-of-age side story.

To be quite honest, I’m not sure how any of the characters truly change in this film. If anything, Peter and Julie’s marriage is damaged and Martine’s film is left unfinished.

What I do like about this film, which can be found on Netflix, is the cinematography and the attention to sound that it gives. Seeing as the central plot is about creating sound for Martine’s film, it was an interesting, almost introspective spin on this Sundance nominated movie.

If you, too, are a fan of Dunham and her HBO show Girls, I would suggest you check out Tiny Furniture, an oddly hysterical story of a college grad who tries to make something of her life. This, too, can be found on Netflix.

Netflix Pick: ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT

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After more than a month of fighting the urge to binge on the fourth and final season of Netflix’s “semi-original” series, I finally finished all fifteen new episodes of Arrested Development.

From mastermind Mitchell Hurwitz comes the final installment of the Bluth family saga, set five years after the show was “abruptly cancelled” by Fox, after winning multiple Emmy’s, including Outstanding Comedy Series in 2004.

Each of the fifteen episodes in this season follows a specific character, as Ron Howard notes in the opening credits, “It’s (insert character’s name)’s Arrested Development.”

Because this season spans five years and follows the separate journeys of all nine Bluths (and Fünkes) to their ultimate meeting point at the “Cinco de Cuatro” festival, it takes a few episodes to kick into the fast-paced gear that veteran Arrested Development fans are used to.

While Hurwitz brings back fan favorites like Lucille (II) Austero (Liza Minnelli), Berry Zuckerkorn (Henry Winkler), Ann Veal (Mae Whitman), and Kitty Sanchez (Judy Greer), he also added some scene-stealers in this new season. Kristin Wiig and Seth Rogen joined the cast as Young Lucille and Young George Sr. in this season’s many flashbacks. John Slattery (Mad Men) and Mary Lynn Rajskub (24) are hysterical as Doctor Norman and his spiritual partner, Heartfire, a mute whose thoughts float across the screen.

Likewise, the writers were able to incorporate the many recurring jokes from the original series, like “I’ve made a huge mistake,” “I’m afraid I blue myself,” and, my favorite, “…her?” While I was glad the writers continued with these jokes, it was clear that the new season did not use the first three as a crutch to get pity laughs.

Looking forward, both Hurwitz and Ron Howard have alluded to a possible Arrested Development film in the coming years. In the meantime, I’ll be reevaluating my life to the tune of “Sound of Silence.”

Netflix Pick: THE KILLING

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Recently, I’ve started to watch AMC’s critically acclaimed series, The Killing, which hopes to answer the question, “Who Killed Rosie Larsen?” Although I’m only five episodes deep, I have some strong feelings (both good and bad) about this drama.

Set in the dismal wasteland that is Seattle, WA, the show revolves around three intertwined stories – the police investigation, the Larsen family, and the Darren Richmond campaign for mayor. While I give the show credit for trying to give equal time to each of the three stories, I really only care about the police investigation.

The about-to-retire Agent Sarah Linden (Emmy nominee Mireille Enos) and her soon-to-be-replacement Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman) track down lead after lead to find who killed Rosie Larsen. Their relationship defies all previous cop partnerships, straying away from the clichéd “good cop, bad cop” mantra.

Linden, who is engaged to be married in sunny Sonoma, keeps delaying her departure to California to be with her fiancé, which gives her son some more time to spend in his beloved harbor. Her stone cold demeanor and judgmental eyebrow raises cover up her broken interior – which has been alluded to but not yet explained. Holder, on the other hand, is a goof. Never speaking with grammatical accuracy and dressing like a thug, nobody seems to appreciate his contributions to the investigation.

All the while, we get glimpses into the Larsen’s household and Darren Richmond’s campaign for mayor, neither of which I care about.

The Larsen’s have mourned for five straight episodes. I understand that the loss of their daughter must be tragic and induce perpetual grief, but after one bed-wetting and another uncontrollable crying fit, I’ve seen enough.

Similarly, Richmond’s mayoral campaign is very cyclical. So far, the only connection Richmond has to Rosie’s murder is that her body was found in the trunk of one of his company cars, which had been reported stolen days before the killing. However, his plot is centered on finding a mole in his office, which I, again, don’t care about.

Regardless, I continue to click “Play Next Episode.” Someone should look into Netflix addiction, because I think it’s a thing… but that’s a conversation for another day.

The Killing returns to AMC for its third season June 2, joining Mad Men to make an all-star Sunday line-up.