First, let's start with the bad news: The Mayan calendar (and, more importantly, a stellar John Cusack movie) have confirmed that the world is ending in a few weeks. I know, right? And we were all totally going to lose those 15 lbs and start journaling in 2013. Then there's the even worse news: You missed a lot of really good TV in 2012. So much good, in fact, that you have no hope of catching up before the end of days. That's where we (and the good news) come in — we've rounded up the best TV spoilers of 2012, so you can spend your remaining days with your family, or whatever. SPOILERS AHEAD, but sorry — no one will ever know who actually killed Alison DiLaurentis on Pretty Little Liars.
Let's start with the little guys:
How I Met Your Mother: Drama! It was eventually revealed that Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) is marrying Robin (Cobie Smulders). Also, Victoria (Ashley Williams) left her future husband at the alter for Ted (Josh Radnor), but they broke up afterwards because Ted wouldn't stop being friends with Robin. Those crazy kids!
The Office: Angela (Angela Kinsey) found out that her husband was cheating on her with Oscar (Oscar Nuñez). Way to be a good coworker, Oscar.
Parks and Recreation: Speaking of workplace comedies, Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Ben (Adam Scott) finally became engaged! It was adorable.
You still with me? Good. Because it all goes downhill from here. Time for some suicides and martyrdom:
Sons of Anarchy: The universally beloved Opie (Ryan Hurst) was brutally murdered early in the show's fifth season — sacrificing his life for the club in the most horrendous way possible (he was beaten to death with a lead pipe).
Mad Men: Then there was the tragic tale of Lane Price (Jared Harris), the British sap who hung himself in his office after he found himself in financial trouble, and was fired by Don. Not a dry eye in the house.
But not all major deaths on TV this year were via suicide — 2012 was huge for killing, or being killed by, children. Let's explore, shall we?
Breaking Bad: In the former category, the artist formerly known as Landry (Jesse Plemons) from Friday Night Lights (now known as Todd on Breaking Bad) murdered a small child after said child witnessed Todd, Walt, and Jesse robbing a train. It was probably the most disturbing moment on TV this year, which says a lot, given our next spoiler.
The Walking Dead: This one sounds horrific, but it actually made a lot of people happy — Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) died via C-section childbirth during a Walker attack on Walking Dead. Doc Herschel and the rest of the Grimes Gang were busy fighting Walkers in the prison, so Lori's son Carl (Chandler Riggs) had to watch while Maggie (Lauren Cohan) tore out her baby with a dirty knife. Then Carl shot her, before she rose again. It was a classic mother/son coming-of-age moment.
Downton Abbey: This one really hurt. Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) from Downton also died during childbirth — but she didn't become a zombie, so she should just shut up and count her blessings.
Those were all really depressing, so let's move on to justice — quite a few criminals were caught in 2012:
Breaking Bad: First and foremost there's Walter White (Bryan Cranston), the drug kingpin currently known as Heisenberg . We haven't yet seen the aftermath, but the first half of Season 5 ended with Walt's brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris) learning his dirty, methy secret. Dun dun dun.
Dexter: This was a long time coming — Deb (Jennifer Carpenter), the brilliant Miami Metro detective, finally learned that her brother is a serial killer. So far, she's been taking it surprisingly well.
The Killing: Oh, we finally found out who killed Rosie Larsen. It was her Aunt Terry, sort of. Then the show got canceled.
Homeland: Nick Brody (Damian Lewis) was found out and captured by the CIA much, much earlier than anticipated. He's now working with them as a double agent, which is never easy when your other agency is TERRORISM.
Enough with all the humans. Supernatural spoiler time:
The Vampire Diaries: Elena (Nina Dobrev) became a vampire at the end of the third season's finale. This season, she totally dumped Stefan (Paul Wesley) and slept with Damon (Ian Somerhalder). Bad girls do it well.
Fringe: Peter (Josh Jackson) willingly turned himself into an Observer after his daughter, Etta (Georgina Haig), was killed. It was horrifying. He's going bald!
True Blood: The newly single Bill (Stephen Moyer) willingly drank the blood of the ancient, evil vampire Lilith at the end of last season — rising as an evil entity, and effectively earning the nickname "Billith." Run, Sookeh!
Now let's move on to family drama:
Revenge: Season 1 of ABC's new(ish) hit ended with Emily (Emily VanCamp) learning that her long-lost mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) was still alive, while everyone else thought that Victoria Grayson (Madeleine Stowe) had died. She hadn't, and Emily's mother ended up being very, very boring.
Revolution: Meanwhile, over on NBC's latest hit, good-guy Miles (Billy Burke) was revealed to have started the evil Monroe Militia — the same militia that recently kidnapped his nephew. (And they still haven't turned the lights on.)
Game of Thrones: In a case of outright family treachery, Theon (Alfie Allen) betrayed the Starks by storming Winterfell, pretending to kill young Bran and Rickon, and slaughtering many of their people.
Oh, and Klaine broke up on Glee. Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna [PHOTO CREDIT: AMC, Showtime] MORE: Leanne's Spoiler List: 'True Blood' Wants Fresh Meat, 'Parenthood' Heads to Court, & More! Leanne’s Spoiler List: 'AHS: Asylum' Mommy Issues, Love and Loss on ‘Dexter’ Leanne’s Spoiler List: Love is Shaky on ‘Grey’s Anatomy,' ‘Vampire Diaries’ Gets Darker
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You love them, we love them, and it's high time Emmy recognized them. We're talking about the TV actors and actresses who have yet to be recognized by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, despite drawing us in week in and week out with their awe-inspiring ability to make us laugh, cry, or a weird combination of both. So every day here at Hollywood.com, we're going to be saluting those on the small screen who deserve an Emmy nomination, longshot status be damned. Today, we cast our ballot for Revenge's own Victoria Grayson, Madeline Stowe.
Just ask Joan Collins, Madonna, or Elton John — being bitchy isn't easy. Sure, everyone thinks having a harsh rejoinder, icy stare, and snarling rebuke ready at every turn is as easy as putting in a DVD of Mommie Dearest, but it is not. Do it wrong and you end up a camp caricature. Don't give it enough venom and you end up looking like a whiner. Too much awfulness and everyone wants to pelt you with cowpies like you're King Joffrey on Game of Thrones. But Madeline Stowe has found just the right combination of power, vitriol, control, and vulnerability on Revenge. And all without the use of her forehead muscles.
Yes, Victoria Grayson is the perfect character for the Botox age, a villainess whose lack of facial mobility doesn't hinder her reign of terror over the tony Hamptons party set. She has logged enough social capital that even a rich ex-husband, a crazy double-crossing billionaire next door hell bent on destroying her, and the world's worst party planner-turned-personal assistant can't take her down from her throne. All hail Queen Victoria!
Just consider this scene, where Victoria totally destroys her best friend Lydia (Amber Valletta, who is the best horrible actress on television). She does it right there in public with a smile on her face and a glint in her eye. She makes it look like Lydia has won and that everything is sunny and beautiful in their summer paradise, when Victoria is really banishing her from polite society forever. And she brazenly does it in public. Emily Thorne/Amanda Clarke could stand to learn a thing or two from her.
The great thing about the character over the course of the season is that she isn't just a hard-hearted woman out of evil. As we learn more about her thwarted relationships, reluctant participation in a terrorist cover-up, and just how far she'll go to protect her children, we're starting to see that there's something warm deep down in her insides. She has a strength that comes from within and sometimes it boils over as a pang of regret, even though more often you see it as a gloved slap to the face.
So often on television dramas you see the characters boiling over into histrionics and crying jags and pleading scenes where they're just asking for one man to love her. Never Ms. Stowe. It is all about control with her, not only of the other people around her, but over her own emotions. So often the Emmy goes to someone who is completely unhinged (congratulations on your inevitable victory, Claire Danes) but I think it's time that we bestow a trophy for the rarest of dramatic gifts: restraint.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
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James Purefoy vied for an ancient empire in the HBO series Rome. Now, he's making his way into the world of a modern day empire on the ABC series Revenge. Purefoy will guest star on the show as a love interest for one Victoria Grayson. Madeline Stowe, who plays Grayson, described her on screen relationship with Purefoy as "a big, passionate love affair," to The Insider, adding that fans might "see why she connects so peculiarly in such a strange way to people." All this comes just after the announcement that Courtney B. Vance would be visiting the series as the attorney overseeing the Graysons' divorce. Revenge airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. -The Insider
Last night, Parks and Recreation fans got our first taste of Paul Rudd as Bobby Newport, Leslie Knope's opponent in the race for city council. Rudd played the character with his usual flare for hilarious likability, even when he was being a total tool to the hardworking Leslie. Vulture reports that Parks and Rec co-creator/showrunner Mike Schur has confirmed that Rudd is on board for "a minimum of three episodes [total], and hopefully more." We assume this means he'll be around for the debate Leslie proposed last night...and maybe some other big political faceoffs. This is television history. Parks and Recreation airs Thursday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. -Vulture
HBO's original series Treme was set to enter its third season this coming April. However, the premiere has been pushed until the fall of 2012. Although no official reports have been given as to why HBO has moved Treme's season premiere, it is perhaps to make room for two of the network's incoming series: Veep and Girls. Treme, a drama set around the events of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, has earned quite a positive response from critics, which will hopefully translate to a sufficient stay on the network. -TVGuide
The Big C will return to Showtime in the spring, and will be bringing some notable guest stars along, one of whom is Victor Garber. He'll appear on the third season premiere. Garber is reported to play some kind of a nemesis for Cathy's (Laura Linney) troublesome brother Sean (John Benjamin Hickey), who is now living alone in the house across the street from his sister. Season Two ended with a pretty big cliffhanger, so whatever the writers have planned better bring along some answers. The Big C returns on Sunday, April 8. -THR
Kevin Nealon, who has spent his career bringing comedy to Weeds, Saturday Night Live, Happy Madison movies, and that annual marathon of funny commercials, will be joining a new NBC series: Isabel. The show is a supernatural comedy that centers on a middle-class family that is, in the tradition of TV families, particularly angry. In a less traditional vein, the family discovers that their young daughter, Isabel (Sophia Mitri Schloss) has magical abilities. Nealon and actress Marcia Gay Harden will play Isabel's father and mother, with the former being an insurance salesman—a role for which the character actor's talent for sleazy personas is tailor made. -Deadline
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.