Category: TV

Justified and the limits of law

“Sometimes, we have to make deals with lowlifes because we have our sights set on life forms even somehow lower on the ladder of lowlife than they.” The above quote loses some of its charm in print, but when said by laconic Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), embodying a modern reincarnation of the Old West cowboy on FX’s Justified, it sounds like poetry. Raylan is the kind of…  [more]

Seeking agape in The Last Man on Earth

Most movies and television shows depict romantic love as an uncontrollable cosmic event. The “meet cute.” Love at first sight. Cupid’s arrow. In this way of thinking, love is a force of nature, powerless to resist. But believing in a star-crossed, chemistry-coerced, soul mate sort of love has an ugly, unspoken aftermath. What happens when that one special one doesn’t feel so special? What…  [more]

Is it a good thing that Jon Stewart’s minions are multiplying?

News broke earlier this week that Trevor Noah will be taking over The Daily Show when Jon Stewart steps down later this year. Although Stewart is stepping out of the limelight, numerous Daily Show personalities are stepping into it: Samantha Bee is developing a show for TBS; Larry Wilmore’s The Nightly Show has taken over Stephen Colbert’s time slot; John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight is a hit; and, of…  [more]

The Lutheran tragedy of Better Call Saul

If Breaking Bad takes the form of a Greek tragedy, then maybe we could call its new prequel series, Better Call Saul, a Lutheran tragedy. Set several years before the events of Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul is the origin story of Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), a scuzzball lawyer from the earlier series. Saul was once Jimmy McGill, a former scam artist from Cicero, Ill., who is trying his best to go straight in…  [more]

Colbert Catechism covers Lent and Pope Francis

Perhaps to help us bide time until he takes over as host of The Late Show, Stephen Colbert recently made a video (embedded below) for the Catholic magazine America that showcased the same comic-religious sensibility that defined the best episodes of The Colbert Report. Called “Colbert Catechism,” the video features a casual interview between a newly bearded Colbert and James Martin, editor-at-large of…  [more]

Birdman (or, the unexpected virtue of the Academy Awards)

Birdman won the Best Picture Oscar at last night’s Academy Awards ceremony, something I predicted partly because it’s a movie about making movies, a subject of which Hollywood never tires. The fact that it’s also about the artistic ego – and how pride goes before the fall – could be seen either as the icing on the cake or the definition of Hollywood hypocrisy. With the somewhat…  [more]

40 years of Saturday Night Live religious sketches

I grew up on the Church Lady, the Dana Carvey character whose “Church Chat” sketch was a staple of Saturday Night Live in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Most of the grownups around me would have considered it “sputton” (Dutch-American slang for sacrilegious), but revisiting “Church Chat” now, in advance of SNL’s 40th anniversary show, I was struck by how often the…  [more]

Arrow and The Flash: superheroes from the garden of good and evil

Any self-respecting episode of The Flash or Arrow centers on The Big Fight. It’s what superheroes are all about, verified by comic-book covers throughout history: Spider-Man vs. Doctor Octopus! The Fantastic Four vs. Galactus! Superman vs. Hitler! This clash-of-titans obsession is, for many sophisticated readers, what kept comics relegated to the category of juvenilia for so long. If the only thing you can…  [more]

The ascetic appeal of tiny living

We Americans love our stuff. No doubt about it. Consumerism is as American as supersize fries. Any excess naturally brings counter movements toward the opposite extreme. One recent response to wanton consumerism is “tiny living,” a philosophy that emphasizes environmental awareness, adventurousness, self-sufficiency, simplicity, fiscal soundness and - its most visible outward sign of the lifestyle - tiny…  [more]

Why I’ll miss the religious mockery of The Colbert Report

Nobody likes to be the butt of a joke. On the school yard, at the family dinner table - we like it when people laugh with us, not at us. Above all, we don’t like it when people make sport of what we hold dear. Like our faith. Christians complain about unfair portrayals of “people of faith” in Hollywood. We’ve come to expect ridicule from atheist comedians like Bill Maher or Ricky Gervais. But…  [more]

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