After five incredible seasons Breaking Bad reaches its climactic finish this Sunday. Will you be watching? Here's a rundown of this week's other highlights.
Breaking Bad, Series FinaleWill Walt be killed off? What will become of Jesse Pinkman? And who said Saul Goodman could star in his own spin-off? The last few episodes of Breaking Bad have been some of the most intense ever, meaning all these questions and more will be answered when the series comes to a close on Sunday. What can viewers expect? Hopefully it's nothing like the infamous "blackout ending" that riled up fans of The Sopranos six years ago. Worst. Finale. Ever! The final episode of Breaking Bad will air this Sunday, September 29 at 9 PM ET on AMC.
Modern Family, Season PremiereFresh off another Emmy win for Outstanding Comedy Series, the extended Pritchett family returns for a fifth season this week on ABC. Season five is usually a turning point for most successful sitcoms, with fatigued writers beginning to run dry of fresh ideas. Sometimes a series could squeeze out a few more solid seasons, as was the case with Seinfeld. Or the show's executive producer will push his staff to continue churning out more of the same, as Matt Groening has been doing with The Simpsons for nearly a decade and a half now. The fifth season of Modern Family premieres this Wednesday, September 25 at 9 PM ET on ABC.
Saturday Night Live, Season PremiereThe 39th season of SNL is one of the most widely anticipated in recent years, with Tina Fey hosting, cast member Cecily Strong joining the soon-to-depart Seth Meyers at the Weekend Update desk, as well as six new members joining the cast. Of course it's become somewhat of sport for those in the media to write off SNL every few years as being past its prime. Yet here we are, nearly 40 years later, and still talking about it. Lorne Michaels must be doing something right. Saturday Night Live kicks off its new season this Saturday, September 28 at 11:30 PM ET on NBC.
Eastbound & Down, Season PremiereYep – Kenny Powers is back for a final season, at least for now. HBO basically canceled Eastbound & Down last year, only to bring the show back for a fourth and (presumably) final season, which premieres this Sunday. Last year saw Kenny fake his own death, only to realize shortly after what a huge mistake he made. Hmm...kind of reminds me of something. Season four of Eastbound & Down premieres on Sunday, September 29 at 10 PM ET on HBO.
Master of Sex, Series PremiereShowtime is quickly proving itself to be a worthy competitor to HBO, with critically acclaimed shows like Dexter and Homeland, and now the widely anticipated premiere of the period drama Masters of Sex, all included in its increasingly watchable lineup. Cable may have at one time been the ugly stepchild of television. But now it seems almost regressive to watch serious television on any of the Big Four networks. Who knew? Masters of Sex premieres at 10 PM ET on Sunday, September 29.
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The Amazing Spider-Man would prefer if you didn't call it the fourth Spider-Man movie. See this ain't the Spider-Man your older brother knew from ten years ago — it's a reboot. The latest adventure to feature the comic book webslinger throws three movies worth of established mythology straight out the window swapping the original cast with an ensemble of fresh faces and resetting the franchise with a spiffy new origin story. "New" in the loosest sense of the word — the highlights of ASM mainly a sleek new design and spunky reinterpretation of Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and gal pal Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) are weighed down by overpowering sense of familiarity. Nearly a beat for beat replica of the 2002 original with some irksome twists of mystery thrown in Amazing Spider-Man fails to evolve its hero or his quarrels. The film has a great sense of cinematic power but little responsibility in making it interesting.
We're first introduced to Peter Parker as a young boy watching as his parents rush out of the house in response to a hidden danger. Mr. and Mrs. Parker leave their son in the care of his Aunt May (Sally Fields) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) who raise him into Andrew Garfield's geeky cool spin on the character. Parker's a science whiz but faces the challenges of every day life — passing classes talking to girls the occasional jock with aggression issues — but all of life's woes are put on hold when the teen discovers a new clue in the mystery behind his parents' disappearance. The discovery of his dad's old briefcase and notes leads Peter to Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) a scientist working for mega-conglomerate Oscorp and his Dad's old partner. When they cross paths Connors instantly takes a liking to the wunderkind and loops him into the work he started with his father: replicating the regeneration abilities of lizards in amputee humans (Connors is driven to reform his own missing arm). But when Parker wanders into Oscorp's room full of spiders (a sloppily explained this-needs-to-be-here-for-this-to-happen device) he receives his legendary spider bite that transforms him into the hero we know.
Director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) desperately wants Amazing Spider-Man to work as a high school relationship movie but with the burden of massive amounts of plot and mythology to introduce the movie sags under the sheer volume of stuff. Stone turns Parker's object of affection Gwen Stacey into a three-dimensional character. Whenever they happen upon each other an awkward exchange in the hallway a flirtatious back-and-forth in the Oscorp lab (where Stacey is head…intern) or when the two finally begin a romantic relationship the two stars shine. They're vivid characters chopped to bits in the editing room diluted by boring franchise-building plot threads and routine action sequences. Seriously Amazing Spider-Man another mad scientist villain who uses himself as a test subject only to become a monster? And another bridge rescue scene? Amazing Spider-Man desperately wants to disconnect from the original trilogy but it's trapped in an inescapable shadow and does nothing radical to shake things up. Instead it settles for the same old same old while preparing for inevitable sequels instead of investing in its dynamic duo.
There's a sweet spot where the film really hits his stride. After discovering his spider-abilities Peter hits the streets for the first time. He's superhuman but still a headstrong teen full of obnoxious quips and close calls with shiv-wielding thugs. The action is slick small and playful Webb showing us something new by melding his indie sensibilities with big scale action. If only it lasted — the introduction of Ifans reptilian half The Lizard implodes Amazing Spider-Man into incomprehensible blockbuster chaos. A gargantuan beast wreaking havoc around New York City promises King Kong-like escapades for the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man but the lizard man has other plans: to rule the world! Or something. Whatever it takes to get Lizard and Spider-Man fighting on the top of a skyscraper over a doomsday machine — logic be damned.
Amazing Spider-Man peppers its banal foundation with great talent from Denis Leary as Gwen's wickedly funny dad and the police captain hunting down Spider-Man to Fields and Sheen as two loving adults in Peter's life to Garfield and Stone whose chemistry demands a follow-up for the sake of seeing them reunited. But it's all at the cost of putting on the most expensive recreation of all time with new demands imposed by the success Marvel's other properties (except that franchise teasing worked). Amazing Spider-Man introduces too many ideas that go nowhere undermining the actual threat at hand. No one wants to be unfulfilled but that's the overriding difference between the original movie and the update. You need to pay for the sequel to know what the heck is going on in this one.
Here are the winners from tonight's SAG Awards show.
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
WINNER: The King's Speech
The Social Network
The Kid's Are All Right
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
WINNER: Colin Firth - The King's Speech
Jeff Bridges - True Grit
Robert Duvall - Get Low
Jesse Esienberg - The Social Network
James Franco - 127 Hours
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
WINNER: Melissa Leo - The Fighter
Amy Adams - The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter - The King's Speech
Mila Kunis - Black Swan
Hailee Steinfeld - True Grit
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
WINNER: Christian Bale - The Fighter
John Hawkes / Teardrop - Winters Bone
Jeremy Renner - The Town
Mark Ruffalo - Black Swan
Geoffrey Rush - The King's Speech
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
WINNER: Natalie Portman - Black Swan
Annette Bening - Black Swan
Nicole Kidman - Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence - Winters Bone
Hilary Swank - Conviction
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
WINNER: Steve Buscemi - Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Bryan Cranston - Breaking Bad (AMC)
Michael C. Hall - Dexter (SHOWTIME)
Jon Hamm - Mad Men (AMC)
Hugh Laurie - House (FOX)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
WINNER: Julianna Margulies - The Good Wife (CBS)
Glenn Close - Damages (FX)
Mariska Hargitay - Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC)
Elisabeth Moss - Mad Men (AMC)
Kyra Sedgwick - The Closer (TNT)
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
WINNER: BOARDWALK EMPIRE (HBO)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
WINNER: Alec Baldwin - 30 Rock (NBC)
Ty Burrell - Modern Family (ABC)
Steve Carell - The Office (NBC)
Chris Colfer - Glee (FOX)
ED O'Neill Jay Pritchett - Modern Family (ABC)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
WINNER: Betty White - Hot in Cleveland (TV Land)
Edie Falco - Nurse Jackie (Showtime)
Tina Fey - 30 Rock (NBC)
Jane Lynch - Glee (FOX)
Sofia Vergara - Modern Family (ABC)
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
WINNER: Modern Family (ABC)
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
WINNER: Al Pacino - You Don't Know Jack (HBO)
John Goodman - You Don't Know Jack (HBO)
Dennis Quaid - The Special Relationship (HBO)
Édgar Ramirez - Carlos (Sundance Channel)
Patrick Stewart - Macbeth (Great Performances) (Thirteen/PBS)
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
WINNER: Claire Danes - Temple Grandin (HBO)
Catherine O'Hara - Temple Grandin (HBO)
Julia Ormond - Temple Grandin (HBO)
Winona Ryder - When Love is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story (CBS)
Susan Sarandon - You Don't Know Jack (HBO)