Michael Arbeiter
Staff editor Michael Arbeiter’s natural state of being can best be described as “mild panic attack.” His earliest memories of growing up in Queens, New York, involve nighttime conversations with a voice from his bedroom wall (the jury’s still out on what that was all about) and a love for classic television that spawned from the very first time he was allowed to watch “The Munsters.” Attending college at SUNY Binghamton, a 20-year-old Michael learned two things: that he could center his future on this love for TV and movies, and that dragons never actually existed — he was kind of late in the game on that one.
  • 'Boardwalk Empire' Recap: Under God's Power She Flourishes
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 04, 2011
    S2E11: Well, it happened. That weird thing that everybody always knew was going to happen, but nobody wanted to believe might really happen on Boardwalk Empire, happened. But we’ll get to that. Basically, just about everything, for everyone, goes to hell this week—whatever hook a character has to hang his hat on is torn from his walls. Nucky loses the devotion of Margaret. Van Alden loses the safety in the secrecy of his Season 1 malfeasance. And Jimmy…poor, twisted, doomed Jimmy. “We began in sin. We’ll end in sin. Unless we change.” – Margaret These people and their parables. As her daughter struggles to build the strength to walk (with the aid of leg braces), Margaret is offered some enigmatic words by Father Brennan: the story regards two sets of dining tables, one in Heaven and one in Hell, at which the diners feast and starve, respectively, due to their handling of particularly long spoons. Brennan explains that the Heavenly diners can eat because they use the long spoons to feed one another, rather than feeding themselves. And somehow, this makes Margaret realize that she hasn’t been a very good person ever since she met ol’ Nucky. And this starts to lead her to wondering: has she cemented her daughter’s fate with her wrongdoings, and will she continue to condemn herself and her children by standing by Nucky’s side? Margaret is an interesting character in that she has evolved a great ways from when we first met her. She has developed confidence, irascibility and guile where there once was just timidity and reservation. And although the Margaret we see now is not much like the Margaret from the pilot, she is still rooted in this self. Nucky is, at the core, the man we see week by week. He is not an amoral man, but his practices are very much a part of him. Margaret, on the other hand, has strayed from her core nature—and this episode proves that, as she realizes that she must revisit her morality in order to save herself and her children. Of course, this comes as a shock and an affront to Nucky. When Margaret is subpoenaed by Esther Randolph, Nucky is appalled to realize that she considers actually testifying against him—and considering the torrential fight the two have as a result of this, it seems as though Margaret just may be taking the stand against Nucky soon. “He will still come. Jesus.” – Sigrid “Doesn’t that worry you?” – Van Alden The day starts out pretty nicely for good ol’ Nelson Van Alden. In fact, when his hired nanny Sigrid tells him that she thinks he is a good man, he even cracks a rare smile. In fact, Van Alden is feeling so good about himself this week, that he even decides to cut off all of his illicit ties to Mickey Doyle, deciding that he no longer needs back-alley funds and can lead his life nobly. And why shouldn’t he feel so good? He’s involved in a strong case against Nucky Thompson. He has a healthy baby daughter. Sure, he and his wife are divorcing (he finally signs the papers this week), but what does Van Alden really have to get him worrying? Maybe that time he maniacally murdered his partner in front of dozens of able-bodied witnesses? Yeah. Remember that? Well, someone is FINALLY willing to talk about it! Ep. 23: Clip - Nucky and Lawyer Fallon Has anyone else noticed the increased prevalence of Nucky’s servant Harlan lately? Here’s the deal with that: Harlan has been infused into our conscious with a few quick, unimportant scenes, so that his revelation this week might seem a bit less out-of-nowhere and convenient: Harlan tells Nucky and his lawyer Bill Fallon that he, along with many others, witnessed Van Alden murder Agent Sebso last season. Fallon brings this to the attention of Esther and her team, who confront Van Alden about it when he comes into work. As if to cement his guilt even further, Van Alden shoots Cliff (non-fatally, it seems) with his own gun and flees the office. So…things’ll probably be heading due south for him from this point forward. “You know what I was thinking on the train? I can’t ever get too sad, because no matter what, I have you.” – Gillian And here it is. The dark, demented elephant in the room on every episode of Boardwalk Empire, finally revealed. A quick summation: Jimmy’s storyline throughout the episode is a flashback to his college days, when he met, began dating and impregnated Angela. But more importantly than that—Jimmy has sex with his mother, Gillian. I don’t know how to tactfully address a subject like that, so forgive the abruptness. Basically, Gillian shows up at Princeton to visit Jimmy. She offers kempt hostility to Angela (their first meeting), and then subtly badmouths her when she is absent. Gillian flirts openly with Jimmy’s much-admired professor, and then retreats to Jimmy when he gets fresh—or so she says. We do not see the duo interact at all, but only a “frazzled” Gillian running to the comfort of her son, who then imparts a physical beating onto the professor, which Gillian watches, unblinkingly and, apparently, amorously. And then, a drunken Jimmy delivers his drunken mother to her hotel room, and she seduces him. I could go on for a few hundred paragraphs about how horrifyingly weird this is, but it all goes without saying. What’s more interesting is that everything Gillian does is part of this grand machination. She seduces her son (which happened long before we met either character, prior to the inception of the series). And this is what killed him, so long ago. This is what sent him from college to the army, and what robbed of him any capability to feel like or accept himself as a human being. Ep. 23: Clip - Police Question Gillian Back in the present, she attempts to usurp the role of Angela in the lives of Jimmy and his son, Tommy. Now that Angela is dead, Gillian explains to Jimmy that she will “be there” for them, gradually phasing Angela out of Tommy’s memory altogether. When this triggers a rage in Jimmy, he is attacked by his now more mobile father, the Commodore…but, of course, Jimmy has a bit of strength on him. And, at the behest of his mother, Jimmy kills the Commodore. Oedipus Rex, anyone? When he wakes up from a pretty understandable fainting spell, Jimmy watches a silent Richard cleaning up his dead father’s body. Afterwards, Gillian almost literally tells Tommy that she is his mother now, puts him to bed, and informs Jimmy that she will be waiting for him upstairs. In all fairness and honesty, Jimmy’s/Gillian’s storyline feels a hell of a lot more dense than the usual Boardwalk material. Gillian has been playing the demonic, almost Shakespearean puppet-master to her son for years, and her plan is nearly complete: she can have the life and family she never did—a son (her grandson), a “husband” (her son), and, perhaps, a kingdom to rule over. Now that Angela, the Commodore, and, potentially, Nucky are out of the way, the only question is whether or not Jimmy will fall victim to her spell.
  • Casting Roundup: Kate Walsh Returns to 'Grey's Anatomy', 'Chuck's' Mom is Back
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 02, 2011
    Ah, the "What might have been?" episode. It's a popular one in television. Friends did it. Community did it. And now Grey's Anatomy is doing it. In a February episode of the ABC series, characters will entertain fantasies of "what life would be like" given a slew of hypothetical circumstances. As the scenarios play out, we might be seeing a few familiar faces of Grey's Anatomy past: specifically, one Kate Walsh, who was a former series regular as Dr. Addison Montgomery, ex-wife of Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey). Walsh will find her way back on set, thanks to the dreamed up scenario wherein her character and Derek are still dating. In other words, shippers will have one more episode to rejoice the duo's romance. Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. -TVLine In other news about main characters' loved ones returning to the screen, Chuck will be welcoming back Linda Hamilton for its series finale. Hamilton has played the hero Chuck Bartowski's (Zachary Levi) mother, Mary, in a storyline that producer Chris Fedak refused to talk about, telling TVGuide, "If I said anything, I'd be ruining too many good spoilers. Chuck's two-hour season finale airs Friday, Jan. 27 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. -TVGuide Good Christian Belles, ABC's upcoming comedy (generally being referred to as GCB) has roped in two guest stars. The first is Sheryl Crow, who will play herself on the show's fifth episode, playing a guest star at the series-centric church social. Queen-of-the-guest-stars Sandra Bernhard, who is also renowned for her great work on Roseanne and The L Word, will also be stepping onto the GCB set, in an undisclosed role. GCB will debut Mar. 4 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.-TVGuide
  • Hulu Plus Now Offering All Three Seasons of 'Community'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 02, 2011
    The past couple of weeks have not been happy ones for Community fans...aside, of course, for the fact that the last two episodes of our show were unabashedly awesome—and in two very different ways. The unhappiness I'm talking about is of course resultant of NBC's action of benching the series for the midseason, which has stirred a great deal of anxiety over the possibility of Community not getting a fourth season. But there is a glimmer of good news for the lot of us devoted Greendale supporters: Hulu Plus has struck a deal to stream all three seasons of Community. Right now! For the lot of you out there who are Hulu Plus subscribers (which is rapidly becoming an increasingly promising membership to indulge) you, as of today, have every single episode at your disposal. You have the sweet and simple but retrospectively well-thought-out pilot. You have the entire first season's evolution from riotous character study to an examination of the mechanisms of film and television. And you have the second season, which further still expanded its range, knocking out the very idea of formulaic television, all the while really beginning to delve into its way-more-multifacted-than-we-thought characters. And now, its third season: perhaps the rockiest season, but a season with highs higher than its lows are low. A season that is really, unapologetically carving into its characters and the precious group they so toxically embody and rely on, delivering to its viewers a sincere (albeit, regularly hilarious) take on what it means to be a human among other humans. And, of course, it's still very much about television. So, basically, Hulu Plusers have quite a treat on their hands. For those of you in this category who are already fans of the show, there need be no explanation why this is such good news. For those who haven't yet given it your attention, I offer a personal recommendation. And if that's not good enough for you, the slight ratings boost that last night's heartwarming "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism" earned should rope you in! But who knows? Maybe Hulu Plus will help to spread the favor on Dan Harmon's work of art, roping more viewers and higher ratings in for the network broadcasts, and heightening our hopes for more Community to come. On behalf of the "Six Seasons and a Movie" movement, I thank you, Hulu Plus, and all your open-minded subscribers. Community airs on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. On Dec. 8, Community will air its third annual Christmas episode, which, if on par with its first two Christmas episodes, will be majestic. Source: A.V. Club
  • Will We See Felicity Jones Starring in Ralph Fiennes' 'Invisible Woman'?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 02, 2011
    Charles Dickens has been attached to a great deal of controversy. He's been called a racist. An anti-Semite. An adulterer. At least that last one can be romanticized. And it will, thanks to Ralph Fiennes! In his directorial debut Coriolanus, Fiennes celebrated William Shakespeare. Now, The English Patient star is working on a tribute to another great British writer in Invisible Woman, a story about Dickens' extramarital affair with a much younger woman. It has been announced that Felicity Jones, who recently reminded us all just what it is to be in love in Like Crazy, will star as Dickens' mistress in Fiennes' film. I'm not too certain what impact this woman had on Dickens' life, or his writing, but my initial reaction to this film isn't one of much eagerness. Sure, a great love story about the married, middle-aged novelist and an eighteen year-old girl could be interesting. But if you're going to explore a writer as brilliant as ol' Charlie D, then why focus on this aspect of his life specifically? Hopefully, the answer to this will be apparent in the film itself. This is just some premature skepticism. On the bright side, Jones is the tops, and everybody seems to know it: Drake Doremus has cast her in his teacher-student romance film. Warren Beatty has cast her in his Howard Hughes film. And Fiennes has cast her here. Jones is no longer an invisible woman. Her career is heating up. Like crazy. Source: Vulture
  • Does the Idea of a 'Starship Troopers' Remake BUG You?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 02, 2011
    In the 1980s and '90s, we knew a man by the name of Paul Verhoeven. We loved this man. This man was good to us. Among his contributions to society was Starship Troopers, a film that Sony producer Neal Moritz has taken on for a remake...probably to the chagrin of many a Verhoefan. Verhoeven showered us with films from a vast array of genres, ranging from science fiction to stories about mentally unbalanced women. Actually, those are the only two subject matters he really worked with...but that's fine, he did well with them. Verhoeven was responsible for dramas like Basic Instinct and Showgirls, and a collection of sci-fi classics, including Total Recall. Now, in the vein of the sentiment addressed above, some Total Recall fans have announced their displeasure with an upcoming new version of Total Recall, directed by Len Wiseman. But in all fairness, Wiseman's upcoming film, starring Colin Farrell, is in fact not a remake of the movie, but another (supposedly more faithful) adaption of the Philip K. Dick story that inspired Verhoeven's 1990 flick. But the Starship Troopers remake is straight from the source material of Verhoeven's 1997 man-versus-bug epic starring Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards and a pre-omnipresent Neil Patrick Harris. Attached to write the script are Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz, who have worked together on the scripts for X-Men: First Class and Thor, and on TV series Andromeda, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Fringe. As stated above, it's unlikely that a remake of Verhoeven's Starship Troopers will be undertaken without a great deal of hostility. A lot of people loved that movie, and a lot of those people probably wouldn't trust anybody to remake it. But a remake they shall we'll have to see how well it lives up to the original. Source: Vulture
  • 'Dexter' Writers Preparing to End Series in Season 8
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 02, 2011
    Let me be among the first to say: "Finally!" to the news that Showtime entertainment president David Nevins' proclamation that the network's series Dexter should be ending with its recently purchased eighth season. Now, this is coming from someone who was once an avid (and is still a pretty devoted) Dexter fan, so don't take my happiness over the series' conclusion as a statement of dislike for it. But Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) can't go along doing the same old routine, killing killers and hiding it from his coworkers and sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter), forever. The secret must come out. Dexter's two lives must collide; his Dark Passenger must invade the space of his "secret identity." Otherwise, this has all been for naught. But luckily, that seems to be the plan. In addition to Nevins' statement that the eighth season will likely be the last for Dexter, the Showtime entertainment prez also alluded to a long-running conclusive storyline, that should be set into motion very soon. And we mean very soon—as in, during the remaining episodes of the sixth season (for those not up to date on Dexter, I recommend avoiding the SPOILERS to come). This season, we've seen Dex on his standard style of rogue mission, tracking down a pair of murders whose kills, meant to trigger the apocalypse, are inspired by passages from the Bible. While this has been the primary focus of Season 6—which, by the way, is a big step up from the very subpar Season 5, but is still not quite comparable to the glory days of Dexter—an intriguing subplot has surrounded two lab assistants hired by Dexter's dirty-minded coworker, Vince Masuka (C.S. Lee). Early on in the season, Masuka hired an amorous intern named Ryan (Brea Grant), who feigned an attraction for her boss in order to get ahold of the Ice Truck Killer's (Brian Moser, Dexter's biological brother) colorful prosthetic hand, which was kept in the evidence room. She claimed to have sold the hand on eBay for some quick cash, and was promptly fired. But in the most recent episode, we caught a glance of the very hand in the possession of Louis (Josh Cooke), Masuka's replacement intern, who seems to have taken a very strange curiosity in Dexter. So, whatever it is that is really going on with these two, it certainly has a great deal to do with the conclusive storyline to which Nevins is referring. Could they be a pair of agents who are onto Dexter? Maybe a pair of killers with some twisted motive in mind? Whatever they are, things aren't going to just wrap up so nicely this season, and I'm very excited to see what is in store for everyone's favorite serial killer. Dexter airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime. Its season finale airs on Dec. 18.  Source: EW
  • Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton Are 'Hansel & Gretel' with Guns
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 02, 2011
    I think it's interesting to take a "Where are they now?" look at fictional characters—especially ones that we knew as children (children with some pretty traumatic youths, no less). I've always wondered what kind of person Boo from Monster's Inc. would grow up to be. Or what sort of adulthoods Wednesday and Pugsley Addams might lead. Luckily, we are getting this opportunity with two young siblings of classic lore: Hansel and Gretel, in the upcoming film Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as the titular pair. The well-known story about the impish German pair traveling into the woods only to get snatched up by a cannibalistic witch; versions of the ending have varied, but the one we're most familiar with in contemporary America has the children escaping the witch's clutches, and possibly throwing her into her own oven. The new film adaptationwill have Renner and Arterton playing the vigilante adult versions of Hansel and Gretel, on a constant quest through the fairytale forests in search of cannibalistic witches to bring to justice. Entertainment Weekly has premiered a new poster for the film, showing both stars touting the sort of daunting weaponry they will use in their witch hunt. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters reaches theaters Mar. 2. Source: EW
  • Dwayne Johnson, Vanessa Hudgens and Giant Bees in New 'Journey 2' Banners
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 02, 2011
    Now, I'll be the first one to hold up any stranded-on-a-supernatural-island film or series to the insuperable leader of the genre...but that being said, I'm partial to the idea of giant bees. In fact, of all of the giant animals depicted in the below banners for Journey 2: The Mysterious Island—the giant snake, the giant electric eel, the giant birds—it's the giant bees that really sell me on the fun.  Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson navigates the fertile nest of the slithering invertibrate: nothing. Josh Hutcherson swims desparately out of the reach of the electric sea creature: who cares? Michael Caine traverses the skies, fleeing from the clutches of some very angry birds: forgettable. But Vanessa Hudgens trying to avoid the wrath of a mighty giant bee? Nothing has ever been more consuming. In fact, I might be developing a new phobia. You know, as an homage. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island reaches theaters on Feb. 10, 2012. Bee there. Check out the trailer too! Source: Yahoo
  • Wolves Are No Match for Liam Neeson in New 'The Grey' Trailer
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 02, 2011
    A new trailer for the Liam Neeson "I'm going to survive, no matter what it takes" movie The Grey premiered over at Moviefone...and it looks phenomenal. If you like Taken, and you like Snow Dogs, you'll love The Grey. Neeson and a plausibly intoxicated Frank Grillo introduce the clip below, predating the intensity with a bit of silly merriment. The Grey follows the story of several survivors of a plane crash in the wild tundra. Neeson, a survivalist to some degree, becomes the leader of the group in an effort to travel south to safety. However, the torrential climate is not their only enemy: there are wolves. So, to everyone who has ever said, "I want to see Liam Neeson fight a wolf," (and I believe there are hundreds of you out there), you'll be getting your wish here. Like Taken, the movie looks to be so much better than its summary would suggest: yes, it might come of as a simple, actiony survival film. But Neeson inspires confidence that The Grey will be a superb, exciting story. Watch the first trailer here for some more assurance. The Grey, directed by Joe Carnahan, comes out Jan. 27, 2012. Source: Moviefone
  • Zooey Deschanel Thinks She Invented Mouthwash: Late Last Night
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 02, 2011
    Last night, fairy princess Zooey Deschanel appeared on Conan to tell adorable stories of self-inflicted injury, Depression-era dolls and childhood memories of eating raw hotdogs. It's all very precious.   Steve Buscemi stopped by Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to discuss his upcoming Saturday Night Live appearance, and how nervous he is for it. Buscemi also talked about performing onstage with Andy Kaufman for an audience of zero people, and the very strange question he ALWAYS gets asked about Boardwalk Empire. Melissa McCarthy to talk about her incredibly devoted family, which includes her sister who cried histerically at the Emmys (and had to be consoled by Kathy Bates), and her father who assaults people on the street and asks them if they watch Mike & Molly. Finally, Glee's  Matthew Morrison stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live! to talk about how he tricked Elton John and Sting into performing on his new self-titled album.