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Downton Abbey is back, Louis CK got a new job, and a look at the rise of true crime TV.

Tuesday January 5th 2015

The Watercooler

“But we have to admit, it’s pretty clear that the fans of the show want to tune in every season to watch the Dowager be the Dowager or to see Carson in charge in perpetuity. Since Fellowes can’t make any of his characters immortal and since he burned through 14 years of story in 6 years, we either have to sit through the coming decline and a series of deaths and layoffs, or we can have one final spin around the ballroom floor before with every character. Guess which one Fellowes chose? Can you blame him?” Downton Abbey is back, (if you didn’t already download the episodes months ago) and Lady Mary is already dealing with blackmail. And as much as things are changing within the show, lots of things won’t be changing, because this is Downton Abbey.

Everyone will be glad to hear that the whole business of who killed Mr. Green seems to be FINALLY OVER.

The A.V. Club gave this week’s episode an A-

Aw, remember Isis the dog? Hugh Bonneville has the story behind the name, and why they switched dogs in the first place. 

 



“And from this perspective, “The Abominable Bride” suddenly starts to look like something else. It’s not just another installment of Sherlock; it is all of Sherlock crammed into a tiny special. It’s trying to be its own fanfiction, and its own reboot, and its own criticism (“Is this silly enough for you yet? Gothic enough? Mad enough?”), and its own response to criticism (the whole suffragette thing), and a character piece and a political statement, and a Sherlock Holmes mystery, all at the same time. If peak TV is more hours of television than any one person can watch, Sherlock is peak TV through the looking glass: more Sherlocks in an hour than any one person can grasp.The end result is, inevitably, a bit of a disaster.” Sherlock, and Steven Moffat, might have bitten off more than they can chew with The Abominable Bride.

The A.V. Club didn’t think much of the episode, giving it a  C+, which is still a higher grade than The Hounds of Baskerville, which I think most fans try to forget about.

“The special, entitled "The Abominable Bride," didn't just irritate me; it made me actively angry at how it wasted a great idea in the name of pointless complications and fan service. It could have been a lean and nimble little ghost story, a holiday treat. Instead, it was a self-indulgent mess.” Todd Van Der Werff was not a fan, and has five reasons why the show has gone off its track. I’m not sure I agree that any of these problems are new to this episode. This is a Steven Moffat show, there will always be things that are annoying and overly tricky, just like on Doctor Who

Fans in the UK clearly weren’t bothered by a messy plot, as the episode was the second highest rated of the show. Chinese and Korean fans went to theaters to see it, and it actually made quite a lot of money.  

 




I seem to be the only person who didn’t binge watch Netflix’s Making A Murderer over the holiday break, (true crime makes me too angry) so if you did here are some links.

Decider has your cheat sheet, in case you didn’t watch, but want to pretend you did, or you fell asleep mid binge (it happens) and are fuzzy on some details.

You probably went straight to Google after the first episode to find out the outcome, and what was left out. If you didn’t, Vulture has a series of posts about what was left out, or glossed over from each episode. The first one is here.

It seems lots of people have a crush on defense attorney Dean Strang. He says his wife finds this hard to believe.

But some people were just distracted by the “hot reporter guy.”

Late Night With Seth Meyers made their own quick parody, mostly just so they could make fun of the accents.

 

People Talking About TV

“The ascent of the ID channel mirrors the deep cultural appetite for true-crime media. The genre has been wildly popular for decades, starting with pulp fiction and continuing through America’s Most Wanted and beyond.  Beginning in the last few years, however, what was once largely the realm of low-brow entertainment has entered high culture—becoming precisely the kind of cerebral content, marketed to intellectual elites, that the Discovery-Times partnership sought to pin down.” Quartz looks at the rise of true crime TV, Serial and Netflix’s Making A Murderer.

“Traditionally, the male-dominated TV industry has been more inclined to show breasts, whether it’s mandated by the cable network or because “male showrunners like to watch boobs more than they like to watch male parts,” says Mark Duplass, star and co-creator of HBO’s Togetherness. “We would be ignorant if we didn’t at least raise that part of the issue.” But increasingly for both men and women on premium cable, the decision to feature nudity is one made by showrunners to serve the character, not the audience.” A look at why 2015 was a big year for male nudity on TV.

New Girl’s writers seemed to feel like they couldn’t go forward—but it’s hard to go back, too. Once upon a time, no one on sitcoms ever changed. (“No hugging and no learning,” Larry David famously said about Seinfeld.) But contemporary sitcoms have so thoroughly metabolized the seriality of dramas that now not changing is what feels odd, especially when it comes to romance. On shows from The Office to Big Bang Theory, 30 Rock to Mindy Project, romantic relationships are a signifier of a protagonist’s blossoming maturity.” Slate checks in on New Girl, who finally figured out what to do with Winston right around the time they ran out of ideas for what to do with everyone else.

“This perhaps speaks to the fact that television is no longer a 22-episodes-a-season-syndication-or-bust gamble, but a medium rich with adaptable approaches to format and distribution. It also points to the fact that as the talent coming to the small screen grows more and more high-profile, the potential for embarrassment is bigger.” After Cassius and Clay, Adam Reed’s pilot for FX got axed after producing a pilot, IndieWire looks at all the ways you can get cancelled these days.

 

The Business

Louis CK and Albert Brooks will be co-creators, co-writers and the executive producers of an un-named animated comedy for FX. They will also voice the main characters, but there aren’t any details on the premise yet. 

Adam Driver, whose arrival on-screen got an appreciative noise from the woman sitting behind me at The Force Awakens, will host SNL on January 16thRonda Rousey will host on January 23rd, with Selena Gomez as the musical guest.

David Fincher is working on Mindhunters, a serial killer drama for Netflix, and it's possible Charlize Theron might be the lead. Theron and Fincher are both credited as executive producers.

Guillermo Del Toro will make a series for Netflix called Trollhunters. I guess we’ve done everything we can with zombies, werewolves and vampires, so sure let’s switch to trolls.

Yahoo has shut down Yahoo Screen, and will be moving all their various video properties to separate parts of the site, which makes more sense. No word yet on what this means, if anything, for Community.

Casting: Kristen Bell is set to guest star on iZombie, and now almost the entire Veronica Mars cast has done a guest spot. Xander Berkeley, who I swear has never once played a good guy, will play yet another villain on The Walking DeadLily Collins has been cast as the female lead in The Last Tycoon, Amazon’s pilot that’s based on F. SCott Fitzgerald’s novel. Lost alumni Greg Grunberg and Harold Perrineau have both booked guest spots on Mysteries Of Laura. Victoria Justice and Ryan McCartan have been cast as Janet and Brad in FOX’s Rocky Horror Picture Show. I didn’t know that Reeve Carney was playing Riff Raff, but that is perfect.

Lifetime is remaking Mother, May I Sleep With Danger because somehow it’s been 20 years since this magnificently titled movie was released on the world. Tori Spelling will once again star, but this time she will play the mother.

ABC has ordered When We Rise, an eight hour miniseries about the gay rights movement from the team behind Milk.

Top Gear, this is the one Jeremy Clarkson got fired from, not the Amazon one, has some new hosts, and also some behind the scenes drama. Excited about Sabine Schmitz though. If you haven’t seen the video of her trying to do an under 10 minute circuit of the Nurburgring in a van, click here.

Carly Rae Jepsen is doing the theme song for Fuller House, which seems on brand.

Renewals: Amazon has renewed The Man In The High Castle for a second season. Syfy has renewed The Expanse for a second season. The Ellen DeGeneres Show  will be on NBC through 2020. Bad news for celebrities with phobias of people in animal costumes. E! has renewed The Royals for a third season.

Pretty Little Liars will reportedly end after season 7, but you probably already knew that if you went on Twitter over the break.

 

What To Watch

I hope you cleared out your DVR and your queue's over the break because there's a ton of new show just around the corner.

Showtime has released the season premiere of Shameless and the series premiere of Billions online. Billions got a good review from The Hollywood Reporter, and it sounds like Maggie Siff has found a role worthy of her talents as the woman caught in the middle.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine, a comedy that manages to be consistently funny, has moved to Tuesdays. Which means there’s a new episode tonight.

American Crime, not to be confused with American Crime Story (that's the one about O.J. Simpson) starts it’s second season tonight with a new crime, and a new location, but most of the same cast. This year's crime is set around an elite prep school, and it’s getting pretty good reviews. Season one was kind of a sleeper, but it ended up on quite a few end of the year lists.

Did you watch President Obama on Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee? Because that was the first episode of the new season and this week’s episode is with Steve Martin.

I always meant to start watching Happy Endings, but it was always on the edge of being cancelled. And then after it was officially cancelled, it wasn’t streaming anywhere. Until now that is. All 57 episodes are now on Hulu.

This is just a reminder that the very silly, but somehow totally charming musical Galavant is back this week. The A.V. Club has the recap here. I am really not a fan of musicals, but I have to say I quite enjoyed the ridiculous first season.

The final unaired episodes of Wicked City are now available on Hulu, if you insist on always finishing a season of a show you started.

Vulture has a list of everything that’s new on Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now and and Amazon Prime. Decider has everything that’s new on Crackle besides Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.

TV Line has a calendar of all your returning favorites, and a bunch of new shows, for the month of January. Deadline has when everything is returning, even reality shows about loggers, New York Area psychics and swamp people that I refuse to acknowledge. TV Guide has a list of the 43 winter shows to get excited about. 43!

Mark your calendars: The final episode ever of Gravity Falls is set for February 15th.

 

Odds and Ends

The Daily Show has a new version of the theme songand they caught us up on what we missed in the news over the break.

Just in case you missed the Christmas episode of SNL I want to make sure you see this very Tina Fey sketch, where a group of men meet their second wives. Everyone in this is so great. What will the show do when Kenan leaves? His reactions reliably make me laugh.

Bad news for Game Of Thrones fans who were expecting the sixth book to arrive early in 2016. The show will beat the new book, as George R.R. Martin missed his January 1st deadline.


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