Enigmatic and deliberate Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy makes no reservations while unraveling its heady spy story for better or worse. The film based on the bestselling novel by John Le Carre is purposefully perplexing effectively mirroring the central character George Smiley's (Gary Oldman) own mind-bending investigation of the British MI6's mole problem. But the slow burn pacing clinical shooting style and air of intrigue only go so far—Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sports an incredible cast that can't dramatically translate the movie's impenetrable narrative. Almost from the get go the movie collapses under its own weight.
After a botched mission in Hungary that saw his colleague Jim (Mark Strong) gunned down in the streets Smiley and his boss Control (John Hurt) are released from the "Circus" (codename for England's Secret Intelligence Service). But soon after Smiley is brought back on board as an impartial observer tasked to uncover the possible infiltration of the organization. The former agent already dealing with the crippling of his own marriage attempts to sift through the history and current goings on of the Circus narrowing his hunt down to four colleagues: Percy aka "Tinker" (Toby Jones) Bill aka "Tailor" (Colin Firth) Roy aka "Soldier" (Ciaran Hinds) and Toy aka "Poor Man" (David Dencik). Working with Peter (Benedict Cumberbatch) a conflicted younger member of the service and Ricki (Tom Hardy) a rogue agent who has information of his own Smiley slowly uncovers the muddled truth—occasionally breaking in to his own work place and crossing his own friends to do so.
Describing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as dense doesn't seem complicated enough. The first hour of the monster mystery moves at a sloth's pace trickling out information like the tedious drips of a leaky faucet. The talent on display is undeniable but the characters Smiley included are so cold that a connection can never be made. TTSS sporadically jumps around from past to present timelines without any indication: a tactic that proves especially confusing when scenes play out in reoccurring locations. It's not until halfway through that the movie decides to kick into high gear Smiley's search for a culprit finally becoming clear enough to thrill. A film that takes its time is one thing but Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy does so without any edge or hook.
What the movie lacks in coherency it makes up for in style and thespian gravitas. Director Tomas Alfredson has assembled some of the finest British performers working today and they turn the script's inaccessible spy jargon into poetry. Firth stands out as the group's suave slimeball a departure from his usual nice guy roles. Hardy assures us he's the next big thing once again as the agency's resident moppet a lover who breaks down after a romantic fling uncovers horrifying truth. Oldman is given the most difficult task of the bunch turning the reserved contemplative Smiley into a real human. He half succeeds—his observational slant in the beginning feels like an extension of the movie's bigger problems but once gets going in the second half of the film he's quite a bit of fun.
Alfredson constructs Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy like a cinematic architect each frame dripping with perfectly kitschy '70s production design and camera angles that make the spine tingle. He creates paranoia through framing similar to the Coppola's terrifying The Conversation but unlike that film TTSS doesn't have the characters or story to match. The movie strives to withhold information and succeeds—too much so. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy wants us to solve a mystery with George Smiley but it never clues us in to exactly why we should want to.
Halloween has passed, but Gossip Girl has yet to experience its most horrifying moment this season: the return of Georgina Sparks, played to wicked perfection by Michelle Trachtenberg. The most recent Sparks developments saw her skipping town after leaving Dan (Penn Badgley) with the son that, at the time, he believed was his. The diabolical manipulator of the Upper East Side will return once more on the series' 100th episode, to air sometime in early 2012. Sparks' return to Gossip Girl will mark an expectedly heavy sum of trouble for all in her path. Gossip Girl airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the CW. -TVLine
Back when Kathy Lee Gifford left Regis Philbin as the lone Live! host, a series of guest hosts were invited onto the show until the producers chose a permanent replacement. Now that Philbin is leaving his seat, producers are bringing back that practice. The first guest host to sit beside Kelly Ripa on Live! will be Jerry Seinfeld. Over the past twelve years, Seinfeld has only been marginally busy: starring in the animated Bee Movie, co-creating and co-hosting the short-lived The Marriage Ref, and making guest appearances on Curb Your Enthusiasm, among a couple of other projects. Although Seinfeld is only slated for a guest hosting gig, he's certainly got the star power and the affability to take on a daytime talk show. Philbin's last episode will be Nov. 18. Seinfeld will guest host from Monday, Nov. 21 to Wednesday, Nov. 23. -AOLtv
Person of Interest has been flourishing in terms of guest casting. First, we got Linda Cardellini. Then, Breaking Bad's David Costabile. And last week, character acting legend Dan Hedaya. The newest entree to this amazing lineup is Bridget Regan, star of Legend of the Seeker. Regan will play a Brooklynite hairdresser who finds her way into the lives of John Reese (Jim Caviezel), Mr. Finch (Michael Emerson), and their omnipotent machine. Person of Interest airs Thursday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. -TVLine
This morning, on the fourth hour of the Today Show, Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford said that Whitney Cummings and her new show were the things that were going to ride in and save the network. I’m thinking those statements had something to do with the colorful cocktails in their hands because after watching the pilot episode of Whitney, I can resolutely say there’s no way it’s strong enough to carry an entire network, especially when the peacock has so many other better and more promising shows (Up All Night, Parks and Rec, The Office, 30 Rock – Whitney can’t compare). So what’s the problem? Well, there are a few.
First off, I really want to like Whitney. She’s got the down-to-earth girl attitude, she’s not about getting all dolled up all the time or perpetuating some unrealistic expectation of how a woman should behave. This notion is refreshing, it’s just too bad the show doesn’t deliver on that idea. Whitney is in a long-term relationship her boyfriend Alex (Chris D’Elia) who she lives with. They’re extremely comfortable and incredibly in love, but the constant barrage of societal pressures about how their relationship should progress or what their sex life should be like starts to get to her. She tries to spice things up with a nurse outfit and role-playing, but her little stunt lands her man in the hospital. She’s not allowed back because she’s only his girlfriend and the question of marriage comes up – it would solve everything in this situation. Too bad that question is answered by the time the tag hits.
Her friends consist of Lily and Neal (Zoe Lister-Jones and Maulik Pancholy), a new couple who can’t keep their hands off each other; the horndog cop Mark (Dan O’Brien) and a bitter, drug-addled divorcee named Roxanne (Rhea Seehorn). These are not only the exact cohorts we’d expect for a premise like this, but not a single one of them is likeable. They’re all obnoxious and not as a result of their most recent relationship status changes; their issues are inherent. It’s a bit of a bummer, since Lister-Jones is such a solid presence in indie films, but when she steps foot on Whitney, she loses her charm.
Finally, even if those characters worked and the pilot didn’t resolutely answer the only question it answered, the show would still be lacking a little something. Cummings has made a decent living as a stand-up comedian and that’s obvious throughout the show. Many scenes feel much like a stand-up routine instead of a conversation or an actual event. It’s not that there isn’t something funny about them, but in a sitcom setting we need more than just a good joke, we need it to fit in the story, be believable and still make us laugh. Whitney just doesn’t seem to accomplish that, and often it feels like the characters are explaining the situation just a little too much. This isn’t the set-up for your bit about anniversary sex, Whitney. Show us, don’t tell us.
There was one scene in the whole episode that gives me hope. Whitney gets a nurse costume for her anniversary with Alex and the whole awkward/sexy scene was charming and enjoyable. Whitney’s delivery wasn’t as stale as it is in the rest of the series and D’Elia’s dumb guy schtick is pretty cute and likable. We also get a spot of Jane Kaczermarek as Whitney’s mom, and despite the boring dialogue, the actress makes it work.
There are areas of the sitcom that work, but there’s so much that doesn’t. If the writers don’t adjust their supporting characters to be more likeable and Whitney doesn’t loosen up, I don’t see this series making it for very long. Then again, NBC needs a hit, so maybe shying away from the critically-acclaimed single-camera comedies for a typical, cute, multi-camera sitcom with a live studio audience is just what the doctor (Quinn medicine woman?) ordered. It’s hard to gauge what the American public will do, but Whitney sure doesn’t get my vote on a night when some of the best shows on television are competing for our viewership.