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Culture Cafe

Movie, music, and television reviews from a select group of bloggers.

The Herman Melville book 'Moby-Dick' was adapted by director John Huston and writer Ray Bradbury for a 1956 film version starring 'Roman Holiday' actor Gregory Peck.

Herman Melville book 'Moby-Dick' on screen stretches from Gregory Peck to 'Futurama'

By Staff Writer / 10.18.12

You doubtless know the classic beginning line, "Call me Ishmael," and the Herman Melville book details that follow: the main character, sailor Ishmael; the ship he travels on, the boat known as the Pequod; the mysterious Captain Ahab and his obsession with capturing a whale known as Moby Dick.

With much of the story taking place on the ocean, a massive whale serving as one of the main characters and a whirlpool featuring as part of the story's dramatic conclusion, "Moby-Dick" doesn't exactly scream "movie adaptation," but that hasn't stopped Hollywood directors from trying.

The story's first appearance in theaters came in 1926 with the silent movie "The Sea Beast," a story which bore similarities to Herman Melville's tale but was in fact a loose adaptation. In "Beast," Ahab, played by Shakespeare legend John Barrymore, falls in love with a girl named Esther who is later repulsed by his peg leg when Ahab's right leg is lost after he falls into the ocean with Moby-Dick. To those familiar with the novel, "Beast" would feature a surprise twist ending – unlike Melville's story, Ahab returns safe from his quest. Barrymore returned for a 1930 version of the story titled "Moby Dick," which remade the story with sound but follows the same plot as "Beast."

A 1956 version of the story appeared next, starring "To Kill a Mockingbird" actor Gregory Peck as the vengeful Ahab and directed by John Huston, who was also behind the movies "The Maltese Falcon and the African Queen." Huston collaborated on the screenplay with legendary sci-fi author Ray Bradbury and the relationship between the two during production was apparently not good. According to an interview Bradbury did with the Paris Review, Bradbury told Huston that  he had "never been able to read the... thing" – meaning Melville's novel. And, Bradbury apparently felt that Huston bossed him around too much.

A massive prop whale was built for the production, clocking in at 85-feet long and weighing 12 tons. However, during production, it drifted away on the ocean, breaking free of its line, and was lost in the fog covering the sea at the time. The prop was substituted by attaching whale body parts such as a tail to a barge and filming miniatures of a whale as well as using a life-size version of the whale's head, complete with moving eyes, for close-ups, according to a Turner Classic Movies feature.

The relationship between Huston and his lead actor, Peck, was also reportedly less than cordial after Peck found out he wasn't Huston's first choice for the part of Ahab, and the two stopped speaking in later years. The production went over budget and, though it was a fairly faithful adaptation of Melville's novel and kept the original ending, the movie was considered a financial disappointment at the box office. Still, some reviews were positive, with the New York Times calling the film "one of the great motion pictures of our time."

A 1965 film moved Captain Ahab to the present day and retitled the story "The Bedford Incident," swapping in an American destroyer called the USS Bedford for the famous Pequod. In 1998, "Star Trek" actor Patrick Stewart appeared as Ahab in a made-for-TV movie which also featured Gregory Peck playing Father Mapple. In 2010, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" actor Barry Bostwick took on the role of Ahab for an adaptation titled "Moby Dick" which also updated the story – this time, to 1965 – and was released on video. The movie was criticized for giving the whale Moby-Dick unlikely powers, including the ability to crawl on land, and citing the whale as 500 feet, an unrealistic size.

Haven't read the book, but you're familiar with the details of the story anyway? Cartoon fans may have absorbed the story unconsciously by now, with every animated series from "Tom and Jerry" to "The Simpsons" referencing Melville's novel.

In the 1957 short "Woody Woodpecker: Dopey Dick the Pink Whale," Woody is brought onto a boat by a character, Dapper Denver Dooley, to help Dooley pursue a whale that bit him.

"Tom and Jerry: Dicky Moe," the 1962 cartoon, follows Tom as a hapless sailor who serves under the command of an unnamed captain with a peg leg who's obsessed with hunting a whale named Dicky Moe.

In "The Flintstones," a 1964 episode featured Fred sighting a creature he calls a "whaleasaurus." In 1967, the famous whale got his own show with the Hanna-Barbera series "Moby Dick and Mighty Mightor" as well as a personality makeover – in that version, the creature sometimes viewed as villainous rescues two young boys who ran into danger on the ocean.

Meanwhile, a little more recently, the Comedy Central series "Futurama" aired an episode in 2011 titled "Möbius Dick" in which the spaceship crew encounters a space whale that eats their engine, causing heroine Leela to swear revenge on the creature.

Jessica Sanchez will appear on multiple episodes of the Fox show 'Glee.' (Michael Becker/Fox/AP)

Jessica Sanchez: 'Glee' to open spot for American Idol runner-up

By Staff Writer / 10.18.12

American Idol” 2012 runner-up Jessica Sanchez has booked a recurring spot on Fox’s high school musical “Glee,” according to TVLine.

Sanchez, who came in second behind “Idol” winner Phillip Phillips in season 11 of the show this past May, will appear on multiple episodes of the show later in the season, and some fans are wondering if the singer will play a love interest for high school graduate Finn (Cory Monteith).

Glee” creator Ryan Murphy tweeted about a possible upcoming music theme for the show now that Sanchez is on board.

“With voices like Jessica, Lea, Naya, Melissa, Amber, and Jenna… Streisand episode?” Murphy wrote on Twitter.

Sanchez isn’t the first “Idol” runner-up to parlay her appearances on the hit Fox singing contest into success in other areas of entertainment.

Former season 3 contestant Jennifer Hudson went on to star in the 2006 film version of “Dreamgirls” and won an Oscar for her role, while season 2 runner-up Clay Aiken appeared on Broadway in “Monty Python’s Spamalot.”

Another Season 3 runner-up, Diana DeGarmo, made her Broadway debut in “Hairspray” and later starred in “Hair,” while Constantine Maroulis of season 4 starred in “The Wedding Singer” and “Rock of Ages” on the Great White Way. And Season 5’s Katharine McPhee is currently starring on the NBC behind-the-scenes Broadway drama “Smash.”

Joss Whedon announced that fan favorite character Agent Coulson will appear in the pilot of his ABC series based on Marvel comic books, 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' (Matt Sayles/AP)

Joss Whedon's 'S.H.I.E.L.D' TV show will feature Agent Coulson

By Andrew DyceScreen Rant / 10.17.12

It was the moment of The Avengers that fans never saw coming, and won’t soon forget. But while director Joss Whedon may have had Clark Gregg’s S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson pay the ultimate price to have the Avengers assemble, Whedon will be giving him a second life. Marvel announced at New York Comic-Con that Coulson will be returning in the pilot of the upcoming ABC series, S.H.I.E.L.D.

Details are slim beyond a presence in the first episode of the show, but that’s all fans need to have their faith in the surprise star of Marvel’s ‘Phase One’ restored. 

We won’t presume to question the decision to kill off one of the most beloved characters that Marvel had stumbled upon, since the scene served its purpose in uniting the Avengers with a dose of poignancy and genuine sadness. But what made the choice so strange was how Whedon’s “man crush” on Clark Gregg was cut so short, just as it was showing the most promise. Originally the embodiment of S.H.I.E.L.D. – a personality-less ‘man in black’ operating in secrecy – Coulson’s character had evolved into much, much more through Thor, Iron Man 2 and The Avengers, showing childlike adoration for Captain America, and romance with an unnamed cellist (Marvel Comics Easter egg alert!).

That character growth proved too good to say goodbye to just yet, as Clark Gregg made a surprise appearance during Marvel’s NYCC panel to discuss his work on the Ultimate Spider-Man animated TV show. A video was then shown in which Joss Whedon and Marvel studio head Kevin Feige announced that Gregg would be reprising his role in S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s pilot episode, previously confirmed to be written and directed by Whedon.

Exactly how the death and return of Coulson will be explained is still unclear. Nick Fury bent the truth of his passing at the hands of Loki to provide the extra “push” that Captain America and Iron Man needed to work as a team. Given that, it’s possible he was lying about the entire thing. If Agent Coulson were re-introduced under those circumstances (whether he was in on Fury’s plan or not) we’re confident that Gregg’s deadpan sense of humor and Whedon’s writing could make it believable. It would undercut the impact of his death scene in Avengers, but that’s a price fans would be happy to pay.

Of course, there is the possibility that Agent Coulson’s role in the S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot takes place before the events of Avengers, with the rest of the new agents and cast left to carry on the series. A longer look at the events leading up to Gregg’s demise would be a bittersweet story to see told, but would help legitimize the TV show as a canonical extension of the film universe, directly tied to the most successful Marvel movie to date.

In all honesty, we’d be fine with his death being explained away if it meant a continued role for the character in Marvel’s films and television shows. Gregg hasn’t just provided comic relief, but has shown he’s willing to back the studio in all its endeavors, and embrace the fan community. The affection he’s earned among hardcore Marvel fanboys and casual audiences is a powerful tool, but unfortunately, it also makes him the kind of character Whedon loves to kill. But will Marvel really let Whedon take that piece off the board this early?

Either way, fans haven’t seen the last of Phil Coulson. At least one more Whedon-spun story exists to be told about the enigmatic agent, but beyond that, who knows? The working relationship between Whedon and Gregg is just beginning (next demonstrated in Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing), so only time will tell.

Andrew Dyce blogs at Screen Rant.

Tamara Taylor (l.) stars with Emily Deschanel (r.) on 'Bones.' (L: Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters R: Chris Pizzello/AP)

'Bones' star Tamara Taylor previews upcoming episodes and her new love interest

By The TV Addict / 10.16.12

No BONES about it, we’re not exactly happy that Fox is benching their popular long-running “crimedy” until November 5th to make room for the annual Fall Classic better known as the MLB playoffs. Which is precisely why we thought now might be as good a time as any to spend a little one-on-one time with star Tamara Taylor. Who was only too happy to spend a few minutes at a recent Television Critics Association Press Tour Party to preview the exciting new journey that awaits Cam throughout BONES season eight.

Full disclosure: I thought that your character Cam a bit short-shifted last season in terms of screen time. Thankfully, in a recent interview Hart Hanson alluded to some big stuff in store for Cam this season. Anything you can tease?
Tamara Taylor: Well i know for sure she’s got a new love interest which is very fun. apparently someone that we already know. so it could be anyone.

Do you have a preference of any of the available bachelors on BONES?
It would be so hard to choose because I love them all. They all have their individual quirks and charms, so I guess thank God for the writers… they’ll choose for me.

Much has already been made about this season’s decidedly darker tone. Do you have a preference between BONES lighter and darker toned episodes?
I enjoy both. You know because there is gold to be minded on both sides and even when things are dark there is still that weird gallows humor that we get to sort of infuse into the episodes so I think it’s going to be an interesting season.

What would you say if I told you that Hart Hanson thinks BONES should run for a solid ten seasons?
WOW! I think all of us would be down as long as the writers kept on cranking out really great stuff.

And finally, aside from the obvious pay check (!) what keeps you excited going to work playing the same character day in and day out?
Do you know honestly, it’s the fact that I don’t know who my love interest is, I don’t know what my story lines are for this season, I have no clue and the writers do such a brilliant job of surprising us. They handle really really difficult issues with such a delicate finesse. We’ve hit a couple of walls. things that have been potentially dangerous and the writers have hurdled right over them and I think that’s what keeps us, as actors, excited.

The TV Addict staff blogs at The TV Addict.

'The Walking Dead' finds the group of survivors splintering off in different directions. (Russell Kaye/AMC/AP)

'The Walking Dead' season 3 premiere offers multiple intriguing plotlines

By Kevin YeomanScreen Rant / 10.15.12

After 2 seasons of watching Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) struggle to keep a petulant group of survivors alive in The Walking Dead, things are finally looking up for him from a leadership point of view – but decidedly down everywhere else.

So, in an effort to guide the remaining ensemble down the long road to ruin, season 3 kicks off ‘Seed’ by loosening the narrative’s grip on just how serialized the series needs to be, and by moving the episode along at a much more deliberate pace. This solves two of the show’s bigger problems, in that more progression is allowed to happen off-screen, and the things that are presented in the episode are considerably more interesting. There were glimpses of this in the last half of season 2, which was largely a march toward change for the better. The increasingly burdensome conflict between Shane (Jon Bernthal) and Rick was finally resolved, and the farm where the plot went to die was overrun by walkers and destroyed by fire.

As much as Hershel’s farm had drained the plot of its excitement, perhaps it had been designed as a means by which the audience could get to know and eventually care about these characters. It didn’t really work out that way, however, and by the end of season 2, all we really knew was that this group had a hard time getting along and that they were, more or less, looking for someone to lead them. But despite Rick’s best efforts, the group had largely decided Shane was the way to go. That, of course, was undone with Rick killing his former best friend, and adopting a no-nonsense attitude toward keeping these folks alive. Now, the season premiere sets out to show whether or not the whole Rick’s-way-or-the-highway approach worked out.

‘Seed’ gets underway by establishing that even though the prison was revealed to the audience at the end of ‘Beside the Dying Fire,’ the group has spent all winter jumping from house to house, more or less tending to the everyday requirements of survival. The jump in time works by granting the assumption that everyone has had sufficient time to process Shane’s death and to work out whatever problems may still linger between them – at least to the point that their squabbles are no longer as big a threat to the group as the walkers. It also makes Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) being pregnant a far more immediate issue to deal with, and helps explain why Carl (Chandler Riggs) appears to be two inches taller and can gun down walkers as efficiently as his father. Most importantly though, whatever happened during the winter made the group a far more cohesive unit, which is conveyed only by the fact that they’re still alive, but also by how quickly they make use of the prison.

The clearing of the prison yard and cell block, followed by the search for supplies, are the most substantial set pieces that ‘Seed’ has to offer, and they manage to provide plenty of gruesome moments and jump scares to keep things thrilling. The episode also establishes that the state of Rick and Lori’s relationship has been taxed to the point that he barely speaks to her, and when he does, it’s in a terse, matter-of-fact tone. Rick hasn’t gone off the deep end like he seemed he was about to while addressing everyone at the end of last season, but whatever transpired over the winter has earned him enough recognition that even Carol (Melissa McBride) mentions to Daryl (Norman Reedus) the group wouldn’t have survived as long under the guidance of Shane. It shows that although time has passed, the influence of Shane is still significant beyond more than the unasked questions about Lori’s pregnancy, and it also serves as a small victory for Rick, setting up a new direction for the series under his leadership that will hopefully consist of more than watching every argument as it unfolds amongst the survivors.

There are also a few moments that grant a clearer view of the characters’ state of mind, like the comfortable way Maggie (Lauren Cohen) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) look after one another during a rare moment of solace, and Lori’s feelings of regret about Shane and her husband, which are amplified by the fear that she’ll have to deal with a zombified baby, or worse, the group will be forced to put her down if she were to die giving birth. They’re short moments that flesh out where these characters have been, and how those events have shaped them into who they are now. It’s also a good starting off point for whatever drama is to come.

‘Seed’ also offers something the series hasn’t really done before; it’s allowed the main story to splinter off. At the end of last season, Andrea (Laurie Holden) was presumed dead, even though Michonne (Danai Gurira) had saved her in rather grand fashion. Here again, Michonne’s entrance grants the series some excitement and suspense, as she deftly deals with a store full of walkers in search of some aspirin to give to an ailing Andrea. Even though the episode doesn’t spend too much time with them, it establishes the pair has come to rely on one another, and the lack of medical supplies has begun to take its toll on the survivors. Most importantly, however, Andrea and Michonne’s storyline – though it will likely converge with Rick’s group soon enough – is a welcome break from the blow-by-blow account of what everyone else is up to.

This gives season 3 two distinct storylines to follow, which, if nothing else, should provide plenty of opportunities to keep the tempo from relaxing to the degree it has before. And with 16 episodes in this third season, the worry is that the prison will become as much of drag on the plot as Hershel’s farm was. So, in what appears to be another effort to combat the temptation of comfort that the prison represents, it turns out not all of the prisoners have succumbed to the walkers – and as far as introductions go, hacking off Hershel’s (Scott Wilson) infected leg is about as memorable as Rick & Co. can probably hope to get.

It may be too soon to say that ‘Seed’ is the episode Walking Dead fans have been waiting for since the pilot, but it certainly offered plenty of visceral excitement and intrigue to back that notion up. At any rate, since much of season 3 is supposed to deal with the threat humanity poses to the living, the surviving prisoners and the Governor (David Morrissey) will likely help keep the suspense above the threat of being kicked off a farm.

Kevin Yeoman blogs at Screen Rant.

Amanda Seyfried and other 'Les Miserables' stars sing in a new video

By Sandy SchaeferScreen Rant / 10.15.12

Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables stands apart from other movie musicals not only in terms of how grounded and tangible the setting feels, but also how the ensemble cast performed the original Broadway show’s tunes during filming – as opposed to either well-ahead of shooting or during post-production. The teaser trailer hinted at the results, with Anne Hathaway delivering an untraditional rendition of lyricists Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel’s song “I Dreamed a Dream.”

A new “extended look” at Hooper’s Les Miz highlights that aspect of the production via interviews with central cast members – Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe – as well as supporting players such as Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, and Samantha Barks.

Hooper’s approach with Les Misérables may prove somewhat divisive for musical theater lovers. On the one hand, as Jackman illustrates in the featurette, singing live does allow for more spontaneity in terms of performance; thus, the characters can behave in a more instinctive manner than they would striving to match pre-recorded vocals.

On the other hand, some hardcore Broadway fans prefer stage musicals that feature the talents of dedicated singers, rather than performers who are actors first and singers second. It’s for that reason that some music specialists take issue with films like Sweeney Todd and Mamma Mia!, where celebrities and acclaimed stars were cast over people with proven professional musician chops.

Les Misérables, however, has the advantage of a cast that includes a Tony-winner (Jackman) and a part-time professional musician with nearly three decades of experience (Crowe), as well someone who actually appeared in the original stage show (Barks). The majority of the rest of the cast has already demonstrated some musical prowess either onstage or onscreen, so they too seem worthy to tackle the challenge Hooper has set before them.

Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.

'Vampire Diaries' actress Claire Holt portrays vampire Rebekah on the show. (John Carucci/AP)

'Vampire Diaries' premiere: Executive producer previews season 4

By The TV Addict / 10.12.12

Looks like the supernatural baddies of Mystic Falls won’t have Elena to push around anymore… or at least, doing so won’t be so easy now that she’s a bloodsucker! With that shocker, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES took things to a whole new level. So what happens next? Let’s ask executive producer Julie Plec!

So has having Elena become a vamp been in the cards all along?
 JULIE PLEC: It was three years in the making, in that we knew when we started the series that we’d get there eventually. At one point, we thought we wouldn’t get there until Season 5, and then at one point contemplated getting there by the end of Season 2! We began Season 3 knowing how we were going to end it, so all the choices we made and everything that we did was all trying to very gently and quietly tee that up and put Elena in a situation where that was the biggest move that could happen in her life.

Is moving forward terrifying, given what a game changer this is?
 PLEC: It’s exciting, because it’s fresh, you know? It gets us jazzed every day, because we don’t feel like we’re just retreading the same old stuff. It’s daunting, because we think it’s awesome, but if nobody else likes it, there is nothing we can do. We have put the show on this course, and there’s no going back. So if it gets rejected, then we’re going to have to take a beat and think about what we’ve done. That said, I think people will like it, because it’s still Elena. It’s just Elena with a dozen, two dozen more layers to herself.

You’ve thrown everything but the kitchen sink at Nina Dobrev (Elena). How is she handling playing yet another version of the same character?
 PLEC: Nina is nothing if not a total champion, and she loves to be challenged as an actress. So far, so good! She’s finding all the nuances in the character that are different than Katherine and different than the human Elena. A lot of actors during Season 4 of a TV series don’t necessarily get to wake up and be somebody new, so I think she’s very excited about that.

So how does Elena being a vampire impact her relationships with the Salvatore brothers?
 PLEC: Ultimately, the pitch of the show back in the beginning was a love triangle between two vampire brothers and their love for the same girl, so it’s certainly something we’re not going to just lock up in a briefcase and put away. It’s always going to be there. What’s great about turning Elena into someone “new” is that it takes where she was with Damon and Stefan and puts it in a blender and spins it around. We don’t really know what’s going to come out of that. Because this is a new person, we don’t know how she’ll connect with them and how they’ll react to the changes in her. It adds a lot of fun, new dynamics to this triangle. 

One of the highlights of last season was Joseph Morgan as Klaus. A lot of people were surprised he managed to survive. Is there a danger of falling in love with your villain and, by keeping him around, turning him into less of a threat?
 PLEC: With Joseph, certainly our intention was to kill him. And then we changed our minds because he’s so good, and we felt it was too soon to say good-bye to that character. So a lot of what you’re going to be seeing at the beginning of Season 4 is him at his most devilish and darkest. He is such a magnificent, nasty villain! The last thing we want to do is cut his legs out from under him, so we’re going to get to see some of nasty Klaus in action.

With Matt Davis’ Alaric and Ganiel Gillies’ Elijah gone, any plans to bring characters in to fill the void?
 PLEC: Well, the good news is that both of them have the ability to return to our show at any time in their contracts. They love us, and we love them so much. With Alaric being dead, of course, we won’t see much of him. But we’ve definitely got some new faces. Some of them are more mysterious, some of them are younger. There’s a new character named April who is a high school student that returns to town after a couple of years away and kind of lands right in the middle of everything. And then there’s a new vampire hunter named Connor who comes to town. He’s no Alaric. He’s a hardcore, humorless, take-no-prisoners, get-it-done character, and he’s a bit of a threat for our heroes. More so than they expected to come across!

The TV Addict staff blogs at The TV Addict.

Hayden Panettiere (r.) and Connie Britton (l.) star in 'Nashville.' (Todd Williamson/Invision/AP)

Hayden Panettiere's new show 'Nashville': Is it worth watching this fall?

By Brian Ford SullivanThe Futon Critic / 10.11.12

 (written by Callie Khouri; directed by R.J. Cutler; TRT: 42:16)

The network's description: "Chart-topping Rayna James (Connie Britton) is a country legend who's had a career any singer would envy, though lately her popularity is starting to wane. Fans still line up to get her autograph, but she's not packing the arenas like she used to. Rayna's record label thinks a concert tour, opening for up-and-comer Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere), the young and sexy future of country music, is just what Rayna needs. But scheming Juliette can't wait to steal Rayna's spotlight. Sharing a stage with that disrespectful, untalented, little vixen is the last thing Rayna wants to do, which sets up a power struggle for popularity.

Could the undiscovered songwriting talent of Scarlett O'Connor (Clare Bowen) be the key to helping Rayna resurrect her career? Complicating matters, Rayna's wealthy but estranged father, Lamar Hampton (Powers Boothe), is a powerful force in business, Tennessee politics, and the lives of his two grown daughters. His drive for power results in a scheme to back Rayna's handsome husband, Teddy, in a run for Mayor of Nashville, against Rayna's wishes."

What did they leave out? Yup, it is indeed filmed in Nashville.

The plot in a nutshell: Rayna James (Connie Britton) is the reigning queen of country music. But between her flailing ticket sales and continued refusal to sing more commercial songs, there's more than a few cracks in her professional facade. Said developments cause her label to suggest merging her upcoming tour with that of auto-tuned heart-breaker Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) or risk playing to half-empty venues. Rayna is not surprisingly horrified by the offer (not to mention Juliette in general), despite promises of opening her up to a new generation of fans. But that's just the beginning of her problems. Her husband Teddy (Eric Close) is perennially emasculated by Rayna's time in the spotlight and frustrated by her refusal to dip into the trust fund set up by her manipulative father/business magnate Lamar Wyatt (Powers Boothe).

Meanwhile, Juliette sets her sights on Rayna's bandleader/torchbearer Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten, in a star-making turn) while Lamar himself conspires to get Teddy to run for mayor of Nashville in order to protect his own business interests. But that's - as they say - not all: Deacon's talented niece Scarlett O'Connor (Clare Bowen) and her boyfriend Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson) have their own dreams of stardom toiling away at the legendary Bluebird Cafe while another, Gunnar Scott (Sam Palladio), loves her from afar. Ultimately, all their destines appear to be intertwined. So goes another day in Nashville.

What works: There's a prevailing sense of authenticity you rarely see from these kinds of shows, one that gives "Nashville" an unexpected intimacy and thoughtfulness. It all of course begins with Britton's Rayna, who's every bit the shining beacon of talent as advertised, but also something of a short-sighted diva. It's a bittersweet flaw that applies to not only her career but also her choice in men. (Juliette: "Sometimes I wish I could just do everything all over again." Deacon: "What would you change?" Juliette: "Nothing... everything." Deacon: "That makes two of us.") The show likewise tasks Panettiere's Juliette as the destructive vixen - Juliette: "Rayna's not the only woman in the world, you know." Deacon: "You're a girl." Juliette: "That, too." - but not without giving her some redemptive qualities as well.

It helps that the show fuels its story engines with everything from political intrigue - Teddy will have to run against family friend Coleman Carlisle (Robert Wisdom); to familial discord - "Yeah it's a funny thing about dad," Rayna notes to her sister Tandy (Judith Hoag). "You know, he's always there when he needs you."; to romantic foibles - "You be careful," Deacon warns Gunnar. "She's got the family curse: we always pick the one that will break your heart." The end result is a compelling mix of soap and tragedy, not to mention a beautiful showcase of country music, whether it's the prerequisite needle drops - everyone from John Conlee to Will Hoge - or some truly inspiring original performances. The closing moments in particular are just plain revelatory, as Watty White (J.D. Souther), the town's oracle of sorts, stumbles across stardom in the making.

What doesn't: Nothing in particular worth mentioning as each potential pitfall - the triteness of the dual love triangles, the inherent aggrandizing of fame and fortune, characters being too perfect or too unlikable, etc. - is ultimately sidestepped when all is said and done.

The bottom line: A welcome surprise.

Brian Ford Sullivan blogs at The Futon Critic.

'Community' won the award for best comedy at the Critics' Choice Television Awards this June. (Vince Bucci/Invision/AP)

'Community' and 'Whitney': Is NBC bringing them back?

By Ethan AndertonScreen Rant / 10.10.12

This week NBC brought good news for fans of their new shows, when they gave full season orders to Revolution, Go On and The New Normal. But now the network has bad news for fans of a couple returning comedy series.

Today the peacock network announced that they would be delaying the season premieres of both Community and Whitney from their original scheduled air date of October 19th, and did not offer alternate return dates.

TV Line has a statement from NBC saying:

Given the success we’ve had for the past four weeks – including winning the first week of the season in [the] A18-49 [demographic] – we’ve decided to continue to concentrate our promotional strength on our new NBC shows that are scheduled Monday through Wednesday and have therefore decided to hold ‘Community’ and ‘Whitney’ from their previously announced premieres of October 19th.

Without having to launch these comedies on Friday at this time, we can keep our promotion focused on earlier in the week — plus we will have both comedies in our back pocket if we need to make any schedule changes on those nights. When we have a better idea of viewing patterns in the next few weeks, we will announce new season premieres of ‘Whitney’ and ‘Community.’

Now that end part does sound a bit suspicious – considering the already shortened 4th season of Community and its seemingly inevitable cancellation – but this might also be good news. Both comedies had been moved to Fridays, which doesn’t usually work out for shows (Fringe being the most recent exception to the rule). However, this statement seems to indicate that if schedule changes need to be made, likely with low-rated comedies like Animal Practice and Guys with Kids, these two shows could take their place on Wednesdays.

Either way, it’s sad news that the new semester of Community – and the second season of Whitney – won’t be coming as soon as fans expected.

 However, there’s good news for Community, as TV Line also has word that Brie Larson (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, 21 Jump Street) will guest star in season 4. Larson will appear in the seventh episode of the season, where Dean Pelton is holding a “Sadie Hawkins” dance at school. However, details on her character are currently being kept secret. Could she cause a love triangle between any of our would-be study group romances? We’ll have to wait and see.

Ethan Anderton blogs at Screen Rant.

'Revolution' follows people living in a world where electricity mysteriously shut off all over the globe 15 years earlier. (Brownie Harris/NBC/AP)

'Revolution' delivers a shocking death in its newest episode

By The TV Addict / 10.09.12

Miss last night’s episode? Here’s what you need to know about REVOLUTION’S “The Plague Dogs”

AIRDATE: 08/10/12

WRITER: Anne Cofell Saunders

DIRECTOR: Felix Alcala

SYNOPSIS: The search to rescue Danny Matheson comes to a screeching halt when Miles, Charlie, Nora, Maggie, Zak and Nate encounter a ravenous pack of dogs and one equally ravenous owner. Meanwhile, after a storm traps Captain Tom Neville under a roof, Danny must decide whether or not to save him, while Monroe’s interrogation of Rachel continues.

INTRODUCED: Maggie’s backstory, which involves her heartbreaking, not to mention unsuccessful attempt to reunite with her children in England after the lights went out fifteen years prior and features her first meeting with what would become her surrogate family in the Mathesons.

HISTORIC MOMENT: REVOLUTION’s first “major” character death. And while we aren’t going to pretend we didn’t see it coming from a mile away thanks to some very emotionally manipulative flashbacks, Maggie’s death still resonates. Particularly by reinforcing the idea that nobody in the increasingly addictive world of REVOLUTION — outside of perhaps Miles and Charlie — are safe!

NOTABLE QUOTABLE: Charlie slowly begins to piece together that travelling with Miles may end up doing her more harm than good. Observes our heroine, “Every person that we meet wants to capture you, kill you, kill us for knowing you or are flat out terrified of you.”

LESSON(S) LEARNED: While it won’t come as much of a surprise that the dearly departed Ben Matheson was much more than a simple teacher of Algebra, it did come as a bit of one that he moonlighted for the Department of Defence and had something called “Full SAP Clearance,” whatever that is! More interesting still — and something that will surely come into play at some point throughout the rest of the season — is that Miles, not Monroe may be directly responsible for Charlie’s mother’s current captive status. Also of note, there is something “important” about Danny.

CRITIQUE: REVOLUTION is on a roll! Peppered with — dare-we-say-it — the perfect mix of suspense, action and surprise, the hit NBC show’s fourth episode of the season continues to make the case for being considered the first flat-out successful mythological dense drama in a post-LOST world. Which, curiously enough, may not be the most appropriate of comparisons considering an episode like “The Plague Dogs” — complete with a stakes raising death, a slew of delightfully morally ambiguous characters, not to mention a carefully crafted universe that, like an onion, is slowly being peeled back by the REVOLUTION writers to reveal a world where there is a very fine line between right and wrong — played out much more like your typical episode of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. GRADE: B+

The TV Addict staff blogs at The TV Addict.

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