NBC Universal Media
As Mindy Lahiri once said on The Mindy Project, "I have not yet tired of watching hot people fall in love." And neither have we. Among its new series debuting next fall, NBC has A to Z, a romantic comedy starring Mad Men's Ben Feldman opposite Cristin Milioti (the woman who stole our hearts as Ted's soulmate on How I Met Your Mother before she was so cruelly ripped away from us), as adorable singletons Andrew and Zelda. Get it?
They're going to miss each other a few times. Then they're going to meet cute. It will be charming. There will be shenanigans. And that looks like about it now. Since romantic comedy seems to be a dead genre as far as film is concerned, is television now where we can go to find our trope-y satisfaction? Mindy Kaling and her crew pulled it off with an excellent sophomore season of The Mindy Project. The show had struggled in finding its tone before dedicating all of Season 2 to bringing Mindy and Danny together. It worked. Audiences responded. The series was renewed. But now that Mindy and Danny are finally together for real, the show has no choice but to reinvent itself in its third season.
The "will-they, won't they" plot can be a huge boon to a series, keeping viewers tuning in and stirring up the online "shippers." But it works best on television when it's not the full focus. Ross and Rachel were a well Friends went back to again and again, but the show's appeal was far wider than that relationship alone. Those were mutilated bodies Mulder and Scully were exhanging loaded glances over. And Sherlock and Watson have solved many a case together — just not the Case of the Ambiguous Sexual Tension.
If A to Z were a limited series, we might be more confident. But we've seen shows lose steam when the same energy and creativity spent keeping characters apart isn't expended to keep them together. (Ahem: Nick and Jess.) Happy couples are boring. Struggling couples bum us out. Maybe we're all too fond of the chase. Still, A to Z is backed by Executive Producers Rashida Jones and her Celeste and Jesse Forever co-writer Will McCormack. So perhaps we'll give Andrew and Zelda the benefit of the doubt. So long as they can keep it interesting.
NBC Universal Media
When NBC released the gag reel from Hannibal's first breathtaking season, we were relieved to see the ensemble — especially Hugh Dancy, turning in a deeply unsettling performance as a profiler losing his grip on reality — laughing and goofing around. So, let's just say we're eager to get our hands on some behind-the-scenes footage of Michael Pitt putting in the hours as Mason Verger, a sadistic creep the likes of which Hannibal and Hannibal have never seen before.
It's almost impossible to picture Pitt, an actor with zero self-consciousness and 100 percent commitment, chuckling with his castmates or dropping four-letter-words after a failed take. He's a former teen idol, having romanced Michelle Williams back in the day on Dawson's Creek. He's a muscian with his own band. He's even been the face of Prada. But something about Pitt wholly defies the Hollywood scene as we know it. He disappears completely into roles — from ill-fated Jimmy on Boardwalk to Hedwig's lover in Hedwig and the Angry Inch to a preppy psychopath in Funny Games — and from the public eye in between them.
And all these qualities made him the perfect choice to embody Mason, a character adapted for the series from the Thomas Harris source material. Hannibal has gotten away with some of the most terrifyingly beautiful fever dreams ever shown on network TV, and Pitt melded flawlessly into that world. Verger is just as twisted as the show's namesake, but in a way that Hannibal finds "rude." And we know what he does to those he finds... uncouth. From his first appearance — wild-haired and clutched a piglet in a blanket — to his last — high on psychotics, feeding pieces of his own face to Will's beloved rescue dogs, Pitt was captivating and unnerving. Just what the doctor ordered.
ABC Television Network
It's been a rough year for freshmen comedies. Despite critical raves, loyal-but-tiny fanbases, and heavily orchestrated Twitter campaigns, we lost a lot of potentially great series this year. Trophy Wife showed us a new kind of TV family, but may have been crippled by its ironic title from the start. Enlisted won the hearts of its few viewers and the support of the U.S. military, but couldn't overcome a weak timeslot and wonky scheduling. And despite an A-list star in Robin Williams, advertising comedy The Crazy Ones never found its audience. But while we've had to say our farewells to these shows, we don't have to wave goodbye forever to the comic talents they introduced us to. Here are a few of this season's breakout stars who we know have illustrious careers in their future.
Parker Young, Enlisted
We're always surprised to find that someone so chiseled can be as funny as Parker Young is in Enlisted's first and only season. As sweet and sincere baby brother Randy, Young tempered the swagger and sarcasm of older siblings Pete and Derrick and brought some serious heart to the show. Before booking the military comedy and a role on the slightly longer lasting but also canceled Suburgatory, the actor's credits consisted of guest spots here and there and — obviously — several modeling gigs. Now that the world knows he's not just a pretty face, we're hoping for big things from Parker.
Albert Tsai and Michaela Watkins, Trophy Wife
If Trophy Wife left us with one gift, it was that of little Albert Tsai, who has the timing aspiring comics would chop arms off for. Bert worked in conjunction with any and every other character on that show, but we're especially fond of his scenes with loopy mom Jackie. Michaela Watkins isn't exactly a Hollywood newbie, but Trophy Wife reintroduced her to some viewers who hadn't seen her regularly since her single season as a SNL cast member. Watkins got to deliver some of the show's finest one liners ("Wait. Robert Downey had a son?") and we're dying to see her back on our TVs soon.
James Wolk and Hamish Linklater, The Crazy Ones
Wolk is no stranger to Mad Men fans, who know him as the mysterious (and, as of late, heartbreaking) Bob Benson. And Linklater is a veteran stage actor who also played a significant role in The Newsroom's second season. But The Crazy Ones got us to fall in love with the two of them together, and we just can't let go. Zach Cropper and Andrew Keanelly — or Zandrew, if you will — had a bromance that, given time, would have rivaled that of even Turk and J.D. Wolk and Linklater are both skilled actors in their own right, but we can no longer imagine them apart. Thanks, CBS.
ABC Television Network
ABC has invited Nashville back next year for another 22-episode season of country-fried drama. And we're all for it. More acoustic sets at the Bluebird. More of Juliette's glorious side-eye. And the series definitely can't end until Rayna is back together with Deacon — we all know that's where we're headed. They're soulmates, y'all.
Nashville is an ensemble series. And with a sizable stable of characters, it does a series good to let a few of them fade to the background for a while. For Season 3, we're nominating the show's perpetual wilting flower Scarlett O'Connor for that position. Clare Bowen has had the sad duty of playing Nashville's resident victim. Scarlett doesn't make things happen. Things happen to Scarlett. Throughout her arc, she's held on to that bewildered expression — the one that makes her look like every step she takes is against her will. Does someone have a gun to your head, Scarlett? Is a man holding someone you love hostage, thereby forcing you to take off your apron and sing a few bars?
What's worse is that, as an audience, we're told that Scarlett is a rare talent — the makings of a sensation — but clearly she doesn't have the verve or personality to back it up. No one wants to watch a dead-eyed girl halfheartedly strum a guitar while gazing longingly at her ex. That's what college open mics are for. The last straw was Scarlett's generic perscription drug meltdown — the kiss of death for many an inscrutably tortured artist character. The pressures of performing! A crazy mother! That kicky red tutu that was so not her! Scarlett just couldn't take it and overdid it with a bottle of tiny white plot devices. When last we left her, she'd quit on Rayna, who had already spent who knows how much of her label's money on producing Scarlett's album and promoting her, and picked up a few shifts at the Bluebird. Can that please be it? Nashville is a series about country music. It's time to cut the characters loose who want no part of that.
20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
Pretty soon, passengers on the Queen Mary 2's transatlantic route will set sail with director Wes Anderson and a few members of the Grand Budapest Hotel cast. According to CNN, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and Wes' afrequent collaborating screenwriter Roman Coppola will all be on board to attend screenings of Anderson's films and participate in audience Q&As. No word on whether the kitchen will be serving Mendl's Courtesan au Chocolat or if the concierge will be as solicitous as Gustave H. Still, this cinematic sail has us dreaming of themed cruises inspired by our favorite movies. Here are a few ideas.
1. Moulin Rouge!
Sumptuous, lavish, romantic. A few days living inside Baz Luhrmann's musical epic will have you feeling like you've danced with the Green Fairy. There might be a treacherous, possessive Duke on the loose, but the guest talent show on the final night would be a doozy.
Cruise ships have levels, and according to Christopher Nolan, so do dreams. What if you could play the Architect and design your own stateroom to full dream-like specifications? We'd be on the phone to our travel agent right now.
3. Gone with the Wind
The perfect trip for anyone who's ever been accused of being "over-dramatic," our Gone with the Wind cruise would be all sweeping scores and epic clinches. For obvious reasons, some basic elements of the Civil War era drama will have to be updated. And the diameter of the ladies' hoop skirts would probably cut our capacity in half.
4. Black Swan
Those who are only happy when it rains can go dark with a cruise inspired by Darren Aronofsky's trippy ballerina thriller. The line between reality and nightmare may get slightly blurred, but club night will definitely be interesting. And, like Nina Sayers' final dance, we're sure it'll all be perfect.
5. The Lego Movie
Lego ice sculptures! Lego towel animals! Lego deck chairs! All Lego everything! A whole ship of Legos! When do we leave?
Fox phenomenon Sleepy Hollow may be enjoying its first hiatus after a banner freshman season, but star Orlando Jones hasn't spent it hanging about. The actor and comedian has led the way in the show's online fan interaction, live-tweeting new episodes, tumbling fan art, and even recommending a few naughty pieces of fan fiction to his 114,000+ followers. Now he's doing his part to change the way we tweet and text.
Emoticons cover all manner of moods and activities and can be used to communicate anything from "I'm laughing at what you just wrote," to "I'm being chased by a headless horseman, please send help." But through his daily virtual interactions with friends, family, and an adoring fanbase, Jones noticed that the standard emoticon apps don't offer any racial or cultural diversity. So, to represent a wider range social media users and avid texters, Jones' company iROC Emoticons will produce smileys that deviate from the standard sunshine yellow.
Jones debuted a few of iROC's creations when he appeared on Arsenio. Rick James and Arsenio himself have been immortalized as emoticons, as has Miley Cyrus, who Jones notes once tweeted about the lack of diversity in the smiley library. The actor claims not to be an effusive emoticon user himself ("That ain't sexy for me."), but maybe iROC will change the mind of its own CEO. It's sure to be a favorite with Jones's daughter; especially since he took on the project to enable her to feel better represented in pop culture.
The app is gearing up for launch right now, but you can sign up to receive updates at the iROC Tumblr page.
Will you use iROC for your emoticon needs? Let us know in the comments!
Jordin Althaus/FOX Broadcasting Co.
Despite a small but passionate fanbase and critical support across the board, the Fox comedy Enlisted lost its Friday 9 PM time slot to Gordon Ramsay and his Kitchen Nightmares. And it doesn't figure at all into the network's summer schedule. There are four episodes left in the original order of 13, but when and if they'll see the light of day remains a mystery.
Despite the fact that Fox surely knew it was taking a risk on a heartfelt sitcom set at an Army base with no big names attached, Chairman Kevin Reilly pledged his support for the show. So then why in the name of the Rear D platoon would the network choose to air its episodes out of the intended order? We're stumped.
Another new Fox comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine came onto the scene with the caché of an SNL veteran lead, an Emmy-winning straight man, and the creative brains behind Parks and Recreation. Still, the series' character development and the escalating chemistry of the ensemble kept viewers engaged. Brooklyn Nine-Nine got a comfortable early renewal and a couple of Golden Globes for its troubles. Now, if the episodes had been shuffled as Enlisted's have been, would fans be as invested in the Jake/Amy relationship? What about Captain Holt's growing respect for his squad?
The Enlisted swaps confused viewers. In one episode, Derrick is dating dive bartender and single mom Erin. In the next, they don't speak. On social media, part of the show's potential audience knew of the shake-up and were vocal about waiting to be able to watch the series as the producers intended, harming the show's chances at getting a decent live tune-in crowd. (Also an issue? The way Nielsen inaccurately measures viewing in "group quarters" like, say, an army barracks.) We have to assume that Fox guessed that certain later episodes would capture viewers' attention better than the ones immediately following the pilot. But when a creative team is working to build a world and characters that an audience can connect with and follow, pulling a move like this is nothing but frustrating.
Game of Thrones fans know Dame Diana Rigg as Lady Olenna, the witty, worldly, and treacherous matriarch of House Tyrell. She's impossible to resist — a sharp old lady who spends her time teaching granddaughter Margery how to use her womanly ways to survive and thrive in the Seven Kingdoms. But this isn't Rigg's first trip around the King's Landing gardens. The actress has had a long and varied career, with credits ranging from stylish mod spy shows to enough Shakespeare to make Sir Patrick Stewart blush. Here are a few of our favorites.
Rigg's most enduring legacy might be that of sexy super-spy Emma Peel in this cult classic from the '60s. The Avengers was the first British series to be shown on prime time in the U.S., so ask your grandpa about Emma's signature catsuit sometime.
A Midsummer Night's Dream
In the 1968 film version of Shakespeare's most whimsical comedy, Rigg pines away as Helena. Yes, that's a young Helen Mirren you see playing Helena's frenemy Hermia. And now we're hoping that these two became lifelong friends and still trade showbiz gossip on the regular.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Maybe Olenna is fearless because even the Lannisters know better than to mess with a Bond girl. Rigg stars as Countess Teresa di Vincenzo in George Lazenby's single 007 outing. She was the first and only woman to ever tie the ultimate man-about-town down.
A Little Night Music
The multitalented actress' theatrical career includes several musicals. In this film version of the critically acclaimed Stephen Sondheim musical, Rigg shows off her pipes for the moviegoing crowd. The film's reception was tepid, but her performance was almost universally praised.
Ricky Gervais wooed quite a few heavyhitters over to his sophomore series effort, almost always to make fools of themselves. Rigg kills as herself in the Daniel Radcliffe episode. You've got to respect a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire who's still game to let the star of a children's franchise fling a condom in her face.
Rigg camps it up in seventh season episode "The Crimson Horror" alongside her real life daughter Rachel Stirling. To save the people of Sweetville, The Doctor takes on her Mrs. Gillyflower, a villainous Victorian with a dark (and super weird) secret. Watch it. Just trust us.
NBC Universal Media
As Season 5 of Parenthood cruised on with the usual mix of happy and sad tears, fans couldn't help wondering one thing: had Haddie Braverman (Sarah Ramos) just been a figment of our imagination? Adam and Kristina's eldest daughter got some serious screentime in the series as a high schooler, struggling with relationships, her parents, and the business of growing up in general. Then she went off to Cornell and was hardly even spoken of.
So the return of Haddie in the season finale was long anticipated and even a little enigmatic. Her absence set up a significant pay-off: Haddie shows up on her parents' doorstep with Lauren, who she at first tells her parents is her best friend at school. We learn that Lauren is actually Haddie's girlfriend, and Parenthood begins its first significant LGBTQ character arc.
The Bravermans are anything but conservative — they live in Berkeley, after all — but coming out is still a stressful thought for Haddie. Lauren, all support and understanding, encourages Haddie to tell her parents the truth. Her brother Max does half the job for her, walking in on Haddie and Lauren kissing in her room. "If two girls are kissing, does that mean they're lesbians?" he asks his mother while being fitted for a suit. Monica Potter plays Kristina's confusion beautifully and even comically ("Buddy?") — but there's a moment where she puts two (the way that Lauren and Haddie act around each other) and two (what Max just told her) together. Kristina reaches out to Haddie, because we know she's not the type of mother to patiently wait for an answer. When Haddie says that she didn't want to "scare" her parents with the news, Kristina looks shocked. "Scare me? How? No, honey, no. I would never be upset with you for following your heart. Never."
But we have to give Adam Braverman the Parent of the Year nod this time around. He somehow works out the change in his daughter's life on his own — we see the revelation when he talks to Lauren about their friendship. And instead of doubling down on the big "coming out" talk, Parenthood gives us a silent, poignant moment with Haddie and her dad, as if we're observing their conversation from across the backyard party.
Parenthood hit all the right notes here. Here's hoping that Haddie isn't as MIA in season six, so the series has a chance to continue her story.
Sure, it's a job. But it's a really, really cool one. We love Captain America: The Winter Soldier star Anthony Mackie for reacting to being a part of the Marvel universe the same way we would: with total geeky glee. Here are five times The Falcon's fanboy enthusiasm totally endeared him to us.
When He Did the Falcon Call
Mackie was so jazzed to play The Falcon that he undertook comprehensive research of the character's namesake bird. Conan O'Brien asks him what he learned, and Mackie responds with an impressive (and we have to assume, accurate) bird call.
On Demanding the Cheesiest Costume Possible
So there was at least one aspect of the film that disappointed Mackie: The Falcon's modern and stylized get-up. He was ready to slap on the spandex, even though the results might not have been pretty. "I wanted it to go all the way wrong," he says.
On Inspiring Kids
The significance of playing the first black superhero in the Marvel film-verse isn't lost on Mackie. "I'm looking forward to kids next Halloween putting on wings," he says.
On Leaving His Marvel Tab Open
"I kept open paperwork. Just, when you need me, call me. I can be anywhere in 12 hours." That's the spirit, Anthony. Maybe a dedicated Falcon movie might be in our future.
When He Surprised a Theater Full of Military Families
Mackie and his costar Sebastian Stan dropped in on a special screening of the film for families of service members. A superhero who makes house calls to his biggest fans? We're in love.