TV Time: The Newsroom

The Newsroom is a hot, new, critically acclaimed television show that takes places behind the scenes of a television newsroom, reporting on actual news topics. The fictional ACN is home to a nightly broadcast featuring anchor Will McAvoy, played brilliantly by Michigan’s own Jeff Daniels. The prickly McAvoy returns to work after a hiatus to learn that his staff has left to work on another show. He and his new executive producer (also his ex-girlfriend) and the newsroom staff are the focus of the show as they produce a nightly news program under high pressure.

I’ll admit it took more than a couple episodes for me to get into The Newsroom, but I’m glad I stuck with it. Created and principally written by West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin, the show is an interesting look at what goes on behind the scenes and it’s a good group of characters to follow along with as they deal with their own personal dramas amidst the newsroom. There's some really great writing, and since it deals with real news topics it can get emotional at times as well. There have been two seasons thus far, and HBO has confirmed that there will be a season three.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #434

Conceived as an homage to his favorite author P.G. Wodehouse, Sebastian Faulks' Jeeves and the Wedding Bells * * * is the first new novel in nearly forty years to bring a welcomed return of Bertie Wooster and his unflappable valet Jeeves.

For almost 60 years, P.G. Wodehouse documented the lives of the inimitable Jeeves and Wooster, and built himself a devoted following. In the new episode, Bertie, nursing a bit of heartbreak over the recent engagement of one Georgiana Meadowes to someone not named Wooster, agrees to “help” his old friend Peregrine “Woody” Beeching, whose own romance is foundering. Almost immediately, things go awry and the simple plan quickly becomes complicated. Thanks to Bertie, the situation could only get more hilarious and convoluted.

"(This) P. G. poseur gets the plot right, but what about the all-important patter, the Bertie-isms and the priceless Bertie-Jeeves dialogue duets? But Faulksie nails it again, evoking rather than imitating, but doing so in perfect pitch." It proves that the Wodehouse estate chose well in authorizing Faulk to pen the first new Jeeves and Wooster novel since 1974.

A good excuse to revisit the Masterpiece Theatre adaptation of the original series, and to introduce a whole new generation to some of the finest British television comedies.

* * * = 3 starred reviews

Marcia Wallace, a.k.a. the voice of The Simpsons' Edna Krabappel, has died

Marcia Wallace, actress in stage, screen, and TV, and most recently the voice of 4th grade teacher, Edna Krabappel, on The Simpsons, died October 25th.

Ms. Wallace's acting gifts were apparent in high school, after which she won a full-ride scholarship to the now-defunct Parsons College in Iowa. From there, she moved to New York, performing in night clubs, on Off-Broadway, and appearing dozens of times on The Merv Griffin Show.

In 1972, after Ms. Wallace had moved to California, TV producer, Grant Tinker created a role for her on the sitcom, The Bob Newhart Show. She played the sharp-tongued receptionist, Carol Kester.

In 1990, she began her most notable career as the voice of Edna Krabappel on The Simpsons, which won her an Emmy in 1992. She charmed audiences with that role until her recent bad health caused the producers to decide to 'retire' Ms. Krabappel forever.

In 2008, Ms. Wallace was in the movie, Tru Loved, in which she played a high school drama teacher who helps students start a Gay Straight Alliance Club.

In 2007, The Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, awarded Ms. Wallace their Gilda Radner Courage Award for her tireless efforts educating American men and women on the importance of early detection of breast cancer, which she herself successfully beat for more than twenty years.

Ms. Wallace, who died of complications from pneumonia, was a week shy of her 71st birthday.

Call the Midwife Season 1 & 2

The winds are blowing colder, so as you're tucking in for winter and looking for new entertainment, take a look at the spectacular and riveting BBC/PBS production, Call the Widwife. The series, set in east London in the 1950s, is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth. Catch up with Seasons 1 & 2 this winter and you will be prepared for Season 3 when it airs on PBS in spring 2014.

The story follows new midwife Jenny Lee and the work of the midwives and the Sisters of Nonnatus House, a nursing convent that is part of an Anglican religious order. The women deal with the medical problems in the impoverished Poplar district of East London. Each episode includes the fascinating, sad, tragic, shocking, gritty and heartwarming stories of the pregnancies, births and challenges of the new mothers and their caretakers. As the series progresses, the friendships and relationships that develop between the midwives and the nuns pulls the viewer in as much as the complex stories of their patients. From Jenny’s culture shock upon arrival to London’s East End to shy, insecure Chummy and the glamorous Trixie, the midwives develop a closeness with the complex Sisters of Nonnatus House.

2013 Primetime Emmy winners announced

The 2013 Primetime Emmy winners were announced in a three-hour, star-studded extravaganza.

The Emmys, hosted by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, are the television equivalent of the silver screen's Oscars. The Emmys are a bit different than the Oscars in that there are several award ceremonies throughout the year. The Primetime and the Daytime Emmys are the most popular.

Some of the big winners are:

Claire Danes, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, for her role as Carrie Mathison, a brilliant volatile CIA agent who battles modern day terrorism in the series, Homeland.

Chelsea, MI resident, Jeff Daniels got the nod for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of acid-tongued news anchor, Will McAvoy in The Newsroom.

Breaking Bad captured Outstanding Drama Series. What's not to love (and fear) about a chemistry teacher whose diagnosis of terminal cancer inspires him to go on a crime spree to build up resources to take care of his family when he's gone?

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the new Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Veep. Her character, Vice President Selina Meyer, has a lot to juggle -- political land mines, a challenging relationship with the President, and a stressful personal life.

One of the big winners of the evening was the HBO movie, Behind the Candelabra, based on the tell-all book by the same name, written by Liberace's longtime lover Scott Thorson. Michael Douglas walked away with the award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie. Steven Soderbergh picked up the Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special, and the film itself was named Outstanding Miniseries or Movie.

For a complete list of the Primetime Emmy winners, click here.

TV Time: Fringe

Fringe gets recommended to fans of science fiction, police procedural dramas, and The X-Files. At first I ignored the recommendations due to the fact that the main actors were also main actors in Dawson’s Creek (Pacey), Lord of the Rings (Denethor), and The Wire (Daniels) and my brain couldn't handle it. Or the comparisons to The X-Files, which I love. Once I got past all that I was deep into the series and couldn’t stop!

Set in Boston, the show follows members of the FBI’s “Fringe Division” who, under the supervision of Homeland Security, investigate unexplained events using “fringe” science and experimentation that usually leads back to the fact that there are parallel universes and many dire consequences to the science behind their possible destruction. The show focuses on agent Olivia Dunham, former psychiatric hospital resident/scientist Dr. Walter Bishop, and Walter’s genius son Peter Bishop.

The early seasons of Fringe were mystery-of-the-week style, while later seasons focused more on the overall mythology that continues through the final 5th season. It’s fun to watch the relationships among the main characters as they evolve—Everything from the father/son relationship between Walter and Peter to Walter’s obsession with licorice and all things sweet. The show is intense and addicting, and you will see things in a different light while watching, because after all there are two of everything.

The X-Files turns 20!

This year marks the 20th anniversary of a cult favorite, The X-Files. Can you believe it?! In the fall of 1993 TV viewers were introduced to FBI special agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully and Sci-Fi television was forever changed.

Scully is assigned to work with Mulder on the X-Files, which works on unsolvable cases involving unexplained phenomena. Scully is sent to partner up with Mulder and use her medical and scientific background to keep “Spooky” Mulder’s conspiracy theories in check. His sister was abducted when they were children, and his belief in extraterrestrial life and her abduction haunts Mulder as he obsessively works to find answers to what happened to her, while also trying to solve day-to-day unexplained events. Scully gets more than she bargained for once she too has trouble explaining what she and Mulder uncover while working X-Files cases.

Hideous beasts? Check. Aliens? Check. Shape shifters? Check. Government conspiracy? Check. One of the biggest will-they-won’t-they questions in TV history? Check.

The X-Files featured the typical “monster of the week” episodes, as well as an overall mythology of a larger conspiracy that spanned the entire run of the show and was woven into many episodes. The show aired for nine seasons for 202 episodes, and eventually two X-Files films as well.

Last weekend some of the cast, writers, producers, and the creator reunited at the San Diego Comic-Con, and discussed favorite episodes, monsters, and the future of Mulder and Scully at a 20th anniversary panel. Their discussion begs the question: Will there be a 3rd film?!

Dennis Farina, cop-turned-actor, has died

Dennis Farina, a Chicago police officer for 18 years before becoming an actor, has died.

Farina picked up acting jobs on the side during his career as a Windy City cop. He had roles in several movies, including Get Shorty (1995), Saving Private Ryan (199), and HBO's Empire Falls (2005), based on the novel by the same name by Richard Russo.

But it was his role, for three season, as the crusty, snappy-dressed detective, Joe Fontana, that endeared him to the hit TV franchise, Law and Order fans. His years in the Chicago PD burglary division served him well and gave his performances wonderful authenticity.

Farina, who was 69, died from a blood clot in his lungs in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here!”

In the mood for a throw back cartoon that will transport you to your days of youth? “There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here!” Underdog is an American animated TV series that ran from 1964-1973. It featured the mild mannered Shoeshine boy (dog!) who transforms himself into a super hero canine by eating a super energy pill he keeps in his ring. (Incidentally, when the series re-ran on the Nickelodeon channel the network chose to edit out the pill popping part.) Revisit this gem and watch Underdog fight villains the likes of Riff Raff and Simon Bar Sinister, all in the defense of his love, Sweet Polly Purebred. For a more modern version, check out the 2007 live action movie released by Disney that features Jason Lee, Peter Dinklage and Amy Adams.

Meet Top Chef Season 10 Seattle Winner, Kristen Kish!

Sunday July 21, 2013: 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Spend the afternoon with Kristen Kish - the winner of Top Chef Season 10!

Kristen is the chef de cuisine at Menton Boston and is the second female winner in Top Chef history! Hear about her Michigan roots, her culinary journey, her Top Chef experience, and her chef career in Boston.

Born in South Korea and adopted into a family in Kentwood, MI, Kristen's love for cooking began at the young age of six years old as she watched Great Chefs of the World on the Discovery channel. While in college, her mother suggested she go to culinary school. She graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago and has never looked back.

After culinary school, Kristen worked for numerous world-renowned chefs, including Michelin-star chef Guy Martin, and she currently works for James Beard Award Winner and Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef Barbara Lynch. Most recently, Kristen took home the winning title of Top Chef on "Top Chef: Seattle," fighting her way back to the finale through the Last Chance Kitchen after elimination earlier in the season.

Do not miss this chance to meet the most recent Top Chef winner!

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