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GiveLife.ca

    
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PRINT EDITION
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Globe Columnists
Tuesday, June 18




  John Doyle
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Television



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The Raptors effect: Culture, sports and politics converge space
During Toronto's victory parade on Monday, the nexus between social identity and sport was laid bare: It's about us
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, June 18, 2019 – Page A21
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-- TELEVISIONThen there was a parade and a party, and most people went home happy.What concluded with the Raptors victory parade in Toronto on Monday was a wild and joyous ride. It lasted for weeks and its effect is not just the team being champions - at last - it's the communal spirit the event created.  FULL STORY arrow
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Breathtaking Canada wins again, needs only a tweak of boldness to beat everyone space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, June 17, 2019 – Page B12
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TORONTO -- There is nothing to stop Canada from going all the way to the final of this Women's World Cup. Nothing perhaps except a new dash of daring.A weekend of action in which several top teams competed, albeit against lesser opposition, did not put Canada in the spotlight, essentially because it remains bizarrely underrated. But it did serve notice that this is a complete team with arresting depth and assurance.  FULL STORY arrow
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Controversial Euphoria is as lurid as advertised, and a great trip space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, June 15, 2019 – Page A20
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-- Every now and then, along comes a TV series that attracts the shocked-and-appalled attention of right-wing conservatives in the United States. Often before it even airs.You can usually tell that controversy is being cooked up when coverage makes regular appearances on the online Drudge Report.  FULL STORY arrow
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Cautious Canada needs to stop passing and start scoring space
If the team doesn't find a way to create more excitement for fans, its group opponents are the least of its worries
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, June 15, 2019 – Page S11
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TORONTO -- The Canadian women's team will have its destiny at its own feet when it plays New Zealand in Grenoble, France, on Saturday. The other two teams in Group E at this World Cup, the Netherlands and Cameroon, will have already played earlier in the day.  FULL STORY arrow
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An obnoxious team? It's the American way space
U.S. showboating in 13-0 win over Thailand earned the typical tut-tuts, but nobody should be surprised
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, June 13, 2019 – Page B15
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-- We should be immensely grateful to the United States women's team for that 13-0 victory over Thailand, and the gross showboating celebrations after each and every goal.We should express gratitude because the game and the celebratory behaviour emphatically revealed the U.S. women's team to be what it truly is: overpoweringly good and obnoxious.  FULL STORY arrow
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Plot twist: Suddenly, U.S. TV viewers want to see the Raptors space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, June 12, 2019 – Page A19
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-- TELEVISIONOh, so now they're interested.Now we have their attention.Last week I was telling you about the fear and the handwringing in the U.S. TV racket about the presence of the Raptors in the NBA Finals.  FULL STORY arrow
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Canada wins a torrid World Cup opener space
Women's side beats Cameroon 1-0, but offensive issues may be a cause for concern
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, June 11, 2019 – Page B15
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TORONTO -- There are several stories that emerge from Canada's first game at this World Cup. The main one is a 1-0 victory: A hardfought one over a resilient, intense Cameroon on Monday evening in France. A vital step, but one that should make supporters nervous. The goals don't come easily to this team.  FULL STORY arrow
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Watch this: One unheralded horror classic on Netflix space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, June 10, 2019 – Page A16
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-- TELEVISIONI know, I know. As if you didn't have enough on your plate, with the Raptors, the Women's World Cup and a substantial batch of new and returning series arriving in June. And here I am suggesting another must-see series.  FULL STORY arrow
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This Women's World Cup is already gripping and contentious space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, June 10, 2019 – Page B10
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TORONTO -- The clamour of sports events is really loud right now: The NBA Finals, the golf tournament, the tennis, the show jumping, the baseball and there is probably some event not on this list but has people enraptured.  FULL STORY arrow
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Pulpy fiction goes for an exquisite second season space
Although Big Little Lies was originally meant to be a one-off series, the show's return is far from a misfire
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, June 8, 2019 – Page A20
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-- TELEVISIONThe first season of Big Little Lies in 2017 was more than a gem. It was a brilliant, beautifully made and crafted drama.Pulpy fiction of the highest order, it was set among well-off, smart but brittle people in beautiful Monterey, Calif. And it was mainly about the women. Its all-star cast of Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Alexander Skarsgard, Shailene Woodley and Laura Dern, drew attention to it but the attention was wonderfully rewarded.  FULL STORY arrow
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The ecosystem of women's soccer is still fragile and respect would help space
FIFA offers little more than grudging tolerance, as if it were making a charitable donation
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, June 8, 2019 – Page S3
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TORONTO -- The first Women's World Cup, then called the FIFA Women's World Championship, was held in China in 1991.Twelve countries competed and the United States won it.The U.S. magazine Sports Illustrated devoted a story to the victory that was less than one page in length. That two-thirds-of-apage piece appeared in print opposite a stunningly sexist fullpage ad. Two attractive women on a ski lift gaze out and the caption is, ''I just saw what I want for Christmas, and I bet he drinks Johnnie Walker Red.''  FULL STORY arrow
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Netflix revives culture-war target with Tales of the City space
Reboot of Maupin's LGBTQ stories is sweet, but unlikely to match original series' notoriety
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, June 5, 2019 – Page A16
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-- TELEVISIONOf all the revivals and reboots that Netflix has done, the one arriving on Friday is the one most steeped in controversy, culture wars and warped nostalgia. It's also the most fascinating because it's a reminder of how much and how little has changed.  FULL STORY arrow
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The Handmaid's Tale is as grimly alluring as ever space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, June 4, 2019 – Page A14
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-- TELEVISIONThere are several crucial scenes in the opening episodes of the third season of The Handmaid's Tale (returns Sunday, Bravo, 9 p.m., with two episodes). Some are visually important and some are important in shifting the plot forward. Yet, perhaps the most striking for viewers here is toward the end of the first new episode. This question is asked of a character: ''Do you wish to seek asylum in the country of Canada?'' Yes, the series picks up immediately after the events that concluded Season 2. That's when June (Elisabeth Moss) made the startling decision to pass up a chance to run toward freedom in Canada. Instead, she handed her baby to her friend Emily (Alexis Bledel) and remained in Gilead, for reasons that weren't clear.  FULL STORY arrow
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What a laugh: Fear of the Toronto Raptors sweeps the U.S. TV industry space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, June 3, 2019 – Page A13
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-- TELEVISIONThey don't like us. They wish the Toronto Raptors didn't exist.The ''they'' we're talking about here are the U.S.networks and the pundits who track the ratings.  FULL STORY arrow
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The most disturbing drama of this year space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, June 1, 2019 – Page A18
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-- TELEVISIONIt is unsettling to realize that many people looking for something new to watch on Netflix this week will actually be unfamiliar with what happened in Central Park, New York, on an April night in 1989. What happened was the rape and attempted murder of a young woman who was jogging there, Trisha Meili. The 28-year-old Meili was doing her usual evening run after a long day at work on Wall Street.  FULL STORY arrow
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This summer, expect mystery, politics, hot trash and suspense space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, May 29, 2019 – Page A20
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-- TELEVISIONAs I write this, there's light rain and a chilly wind blowing from somewhere. It's about 10 C. Eventually it will be hot. And this year's summer TV menu is especially hot. Herewith, a rough guide to what's coming and what's returning.  FULL STORY arrow
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A grim cerebral drama not often seen in Canada space
Set in a Mennonite congregation, Pure is a gripping crime show that explores social tensions surrounding greed, power and religious moralism
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, May 28, 2019 – Page A14
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-- TELEVISIONIn January of 2017, CBC TV aired a new original drama, Pure. It was an unusual kind of CBC drama - it didn't look like a U.S. network drama with a sprinkle of Canadian-ness added and neither did it seem derived from a successful U.S. cable series. It was starkly original.  FULL STORY arrow
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The Hot Zone: outbreak thriller with a cold set of scary facts space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, May 27, 2019 – Page A14
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-- It starts with a very graphic scene that lasts several minutes. It's a warning, that scene. If you don't have the stomach to see what a virus such as Ebola does to the human body, then walk away now.  FULL STORY arrow
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Outrageous show What/If is the new cheese that pleases space
Netflix's latest is a powerful hybrid of the old-school soap and a neo-tawdry mystery
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, May 25, 2019 – Page A20
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-- TELEVISIONTime was, a person could find a nice personal indulgence on TV; a potboiler soap opera with glamorous skulduggery, dramatic OMG twists and implausible but satisfying turns. Lavish sets and dark secrets were part of it. Watching competent actors eat the scenery was part of it, too.  FULL STORY arrow
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Reboots out, masked singers in space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, May 23, 2019 – Page A18
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-- Remember when there were actual seasons?Yeah, me too. You don't have to be a codger to be aware that, once upon a time, winter gave way to mild weather and nature's growth. Not flooding and grey skies.  FULL STORY arrow
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Raging and frothing at the Game of Thrones ending? Get a grip space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, May 22, 2019 – Page A17
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-- TELEVISIONGame of Thrones? Don't get me started. Disney's Aladdin is in theatres Thursday. Get your tickets now.Now, I tell you.It's hard to gauge just how much of the disappointment with the ending of GoT is real. I mean, there are people setting up a petition to have the final season remade by ''competent writers.'' That's mad. But take away the idiocy of raging and frothing at the mouth over the the ending - especially the penultimate episode - and there's still some serious sulking going on by people who should know better.  FULL STORY arrow
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Why George Clooney is back on TV in Catch-22 space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, May 20, 2019 – Page A13
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-- You can tell a lot about the circles in which George Clooney moves by what he's insistent on saying at the end of an interview, not the beginning. The thing he wants to leave you with.  FULL STORY arrow
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The unmissable Fleabag returns on Amazon Prime Video, but approach with caution space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, May 18, 2019 – Page A18
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-- TELEVISION''It's a love story,'' the young woman says in the opening scene, after wiping blood off her face while standing in front of a mirror in a bathroom. Thing is, she says it directly to the camera, with a cheeky smile that's almost a smirk.  FULL STORY arrow
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Chernobyl is an intense, tough and relevant miniseries space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, May 6, 2019 – Page A18
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-- TELEVISIONLook around and it's as plain as a poke in your eye. There is a weakening of rules and the truth is considered seditious. What was considered once-in-a-thousand-years flooding is routine while the root causes are argued from the vantage point of dry land in parliaments and other political assemblies.  FULL STORY arrow
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Dead to Me is alive with wit space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, May 4, 2019 – Page A20
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-- TELEVISION A lot of new and compelling content arrives this weekend. But first, let's go back in time to give context to the top item.It's been more than 30 years since Fox debuted the relentlessly coarse but sensationally popular Married ... with Children. Among its stars, and wildly ubiquitous for a time, was Christina Applegate, who played a character who wouldn't be tolerated now - the criminally dumb teenage daughter Kelly. And it's been 20 years since the vastly superior and short-lived Freaks and Geeks arrived on NBC. In the ensemble cast, the standout was Linda Cardellini playing the disillusioned teenager Lindsay Weir, a character who would become iconic.  FULL STORY arrow
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IRISH PARTITION space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Friday, May 3, 2019 – Page A2
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On Netflix, watch as a new - but not so new - American revolution unfolds space
The documentary Knock Down the House is at its best focusing on the seemingly one-of-a-kind rise of Congresswoman AOC - but it also tells us this wasn't a singular phenomenon in U.S. politics
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, May 2, 2019 – Page A14
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-- Doing the rounds of the latenight talk shows recently - an arena in which she is a muchprized star guest - Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told an interesting story.A Republican member of Congress had moseyed over to her and asked bluntly, ''Is it true you got $10-million from Netflix?'' Ocasio-Cortez told the story with a measure of disbelief. Yet she made her point - she spooks Republicans. They don't get her, don't understand why she was elected. And no, she didn't get $10-million from Netflix.  FULL STORY arrow
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The Move: CBC's little dance series deserves major attention space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, May 1, 2019 – Page A16
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-- TELEVISIONThe news that CBC TV plans to revive Battle of the Blades is hardly a big surprise. It's an obvious move for the new vice-president of English services - populist entertainment with an established title and it marries hockey with figure skating. Also, it's superpositive.  FULL STORY arrow
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From Trudeau to hockey, The Simpsons' lame Canada episode was all crude clichés space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, April 30, 2019 – Page A15
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-- TELEVISIONThere are several Canadians on the writing staff of The Simpsons. And from the vantage point of a writers' room in Los Angeles, their Canada recedes into crude cliche and stereotypes. In the end, they decide that the United States is a much more attractive place.  FULL STORY arrow
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Meet Mary Berg, your new TV cooking infatuation space
MasterChef Canada winner's focus on simplicity makes for delightful viewing
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, April 27, 2019 – Page A20
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-- There are more cooking shows than any of us could possibly watch. There are competitive shows, gimmick shows and oodles of other content that is either plainly silly or amounts to food porn. Do we need another one?  FULL STORY arrow
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Bonding on Netflix: Fun and filthy frolics in the dominatrix world space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, April 25, 2019 – Page A15
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-- Earlier this month I was invited to a special screening and after-party in Los Angeles for a new series on Netflix. Very glam. This seemed odd but nice.The invitation came from one of those top PR companies in L.A.  FULL STORY arrow
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Don't have a cow, man: Excitement about Simpsons ribbing Canada and Trudeau is sad space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, April 24, 2019 – Page A20
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-- Somebody needs a cold cloth on the head and a nap. That's us.There's been a severe outbreak of giddiness in this neck of the woods. Don't get me started.  FULL STORY arrow
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Why voters keep electing TV stars space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, April 23, 2019 – Page A18
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-- It's like Rick Mercer was elected Prime Minister.In Ukraine on the weekend, one Volodymyr Zelensky, an actor and comedian, was elected President by a landslide.Zelensky, 41, was previously known countrywide for his role in a satiric Ukrainian TV series, playing a high-school teacher who suddenly becomes President after a video of him denouncing corruption goes viral and inspires the nation.  FULL STORY arrow
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Special and Gentleman Jack are superb and disruptive space
Both series bring wit and humour to the real-life experiences of two queer protagonists
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, April 20, 2019 – Page A18
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-- There's a lot to be said for a long weekend. Especially a four-day weekend, as this one is for some people. Time to reflect, time to relax. Perhaps even enter into worlds that are far from everyday existence. There are two such worlds to explore on TV/ streaming. Both are funny and wise, and both are set in arenas we are lamentably ignorant about.  FULL STORY arrow
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Epic bursts of frustration, anger and glee on TV as Mueller report lands space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Friday, April 19, 2019 – Page A17
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-- Frustration, anger, bafflement and glee.That's what spread across U.S. TV news on Thursday morning as Attorney-General William Barr offered a good-news spin on the Mueller report - and then the actual report was released.  FULL STORY arrow
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To be or not to be afraid: Machines are coming for your job, not mine space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, April 18, 2019 – Page A15
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-- This newspaper puts considerable effort and resources into understanding what readers want and like to read. Not long after this column appears online I can see how many people have read it and how long they spent reading it. Drilling a bit deeper I can find out what story they read next. Essentially, computers do that and the information required from them is determined by human beings.  FULL STORY arrow
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Where American pop culture sinks: Glover's Guava Island space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, April 16, 2019 – Page A15
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-- Right now, American popular culture is a strange, multiheaded beast. Many of us had never heard of Nipsey Hussle until he was shot dead recently. The coverage suggested an interesting figure: rapper, entrepreneur, and social activist. Apparently he campaigned against gun violence and the gang-war culture of certain neighbourhoods in Los Angeles. And he was shot dead outside a clothing store he owned.  FULL STORY arrow
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Spies, lies, sex and the media: Three fine new thrillers on Netflix space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, April 15, 2019 – Page A14
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-- TELEVISIONSometimes it's a matter of mental heath. You need the distraction and relaxation of indulging - by bingewatch or otherwise - in a multipart thriller. You need a puzzle to solve; you need escape into another country or another period in time. Strong characters, a compelling story and occasional pauses for sensuality. Those are the ingredients.  FULL STORY arrow
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An epic alternative for Thrones-weary viewers space
Far from Westeros, British TV veteran Andrew Davies offers a blessedly non-musical adaptation of the Hugo classic Les Misérables
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, April 13, 2019 – Page A21
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-- If you've had it up to the eyeballs with the hype about the final season of Game of Thrones (Sunday, HBO, 9 p.m.), you have my sympathy. Some of us feel we dare not go out in public without a prepared statement on Jon Snow, the Iron Throne and the weather in Westeros.  FULL STORY arrow
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After Game of Thrones, what is HBO's next big thing? space
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Saturday, April 13, 2019 – Page R8
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-- It is truly remarkable what can be extrapolated from Game of Thrones. It is about climate change. It is about gender and sexual violence. It is about subverting male power. It is about the breakdown of traditional order and the rise of faux powers. It is about globalization. It is about everything you want it to be, largely because it is derived from countless existing narratives; some real, some fictional and some mythological.  FULL STORY arrow
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Jann Arden's foray into TV is fine, but far too frantic space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, April 11, 2019 – Page A15
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-- It was brave of CTV to build a show around Jann Arden.But, not all that brave. Arden is beloved, funny and wise and didn't start doing what she does today or yesterday.  FULL STORY arrow
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Why isn't Felicity Huffman's career toast? space
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Wednesday, April 10, 2019 – Page A15
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-- On Tuesday, Netflix announced it has postponed the release of the movie Otherhood, a romantic comedy scheduled on the streaming service for April 26. The movie features Felicity Huffman, Patricia Arquette and Angela Bassett.  FULL STORY arrow
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Fosse/Verdon is a great, ravishing drama about art, love and life space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, April 9, 2019 – Page A15
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-- Every now and then along comes a TV production that is great, has first-rate performances, looks gorgeous and has smarts in spades, but isn't an easy recommendation.Fosse/Verdon (starts Tuesday, FX, 10 p.m.) is one such production. It's gloriously good but demands a lot of the viewer.  FULL STORY arrow
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Mainstream U.S. TV is not dead, nor is it the husk of its former self as some claim space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, April 8, 2019 – Page A16
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-- TELEVISIONWith all the current fuss about the end of Game of Thrones and the weekly fuss about some new thing in Netflix, it's easy to forget that normal network TV is humming along. The Big Bang Theory, which has only a handful of episodes left in its long run, is still a ratings monster both here and in the United States. Grey's Anatomy, now in its 15th season, is doing just fine, thank you.  FULL STORY arrow
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Killing Eve returns with its wickedness and importance intact space
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Saturday, April 6, 2019 – Page A20
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-- Rather large claims have been made about the importance of Killing Eve, especially by those involved in it.Star Sandra Oh told us TV critics in February that the series is ''examining and taking the female psyche seriously.'' We'll get to those large claims in a minute. First, the main news.  FULL STORY arrow
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We need to laugh at our politics, and Veep shows us the way space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, April 4, 2019 – Page A19
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-- Right now, I'm guessing that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs a hug.Kidding. Who would even say that in Canada? Such is the state of national indignation that a dozen people probably abandoned reading this column after seeing the first sentence and have already sent e-mails expressing righteous fury.  FULL STORY arrow
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Amazon Prime Video's new series Hanna treats an empowerment icon as a commodity space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, April 2, 2019 – Page A17
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-- For reasons that are not quite discernible, Amazon Prime Video put a lot of weight behind the new series Hanna. The show was promoted during the Super Bowl and the first episode made available for the following 24 hours. As soon as the series began streaming last Friday, its promotion was inescapable on social media. Amazon has loads of money to toss around on projects and promotion, but why was this drama given so much attention?  FULL STORY arrow
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Devastating Netflix doc explains why the Irish border issue matters space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, April 1, 2019 – Page A15
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-- If you can figure out exactly what's happening in the ceaseless voting on, and rejection of, British PM Theresa May's Brexit plan, you're a better person than me.  FULL STORY arrow
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This weekend: One dark Brit drama and two great HBO comedies to savour space
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Saturday, March 30, 2019 – Page A19
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-- Get yourself ready. The spring saturation point of the peak-TV era is upon us. This weekend, there arrives a wonderful and uniquely sinister BBC drama, based on a story that is confounding because it is true. Also, two classic HBO comedies return. And that's just oldschool TV. If I told you what's on the streaming services, we'd be here all day.  FULL STORY arrow
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Netflix's Turn Up Charlie turns up a zany Idris Elba space
The actor, usually cast in serious roles, is in full-throttle comedy mode in this frantically paced new series
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, March 16, 2019 – Page A21
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-- It's a packed weekend of content, so let's get started.There's a lot of music and drama involved, with some comedy.If you watched Saturday Night Live last week, you saw first-time host Idris Elba deliver a heart-onmy-sleeve opening monologue.  FULL STORY arrow
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Losers on Netflix: A thrilling series about real sports heroes space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, March 14, 2019 – Page A18
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-- TELEVISION Let's talk sports today. Sports represent that great distraction from the mess and muddle of daily life, from the big catastrophes that dominate the daily news and the depressing polarizations that politics creates.  FULL STORY arrow
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A TV critic's guide to the SNC-Lavalin drama space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, March 13, 2019 – Page A19
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-- One recent evening I was just finishing a spot of ironing and about to tell my cat Rita what we were having for dinner when the phone rang.It was an inopportune interruption. Rita has finicky tastes and has been known to send back her dinner with the hauteur of the Queen. However, she has a fondness for chicken in whitewine sauce and I was about to announce that we were having chicken cassoulet in white wine and it was almost ready.  FULL STORY arrow
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Why the demonization of Fox News is a very big deal space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, March 12, 2019 – Page A15
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-- TELEVISIONYou can tell another election is looming in the United States. It's more than a year away and yet it feels like it's looming. And the evidence for that is not just the number of obscure Democrats who have already declared they are running for president. The key evidence is the fixation on Fox News.  FULL STORY arrow
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After Life from Ricky Gervais on Netflix: mad, melancholy and powerful space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, March 11, 2019 – Page A16
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-- There's an insane amount of sci-fi, fantasy and horror material floating round. And more paranormal drama than is healthy for any human being to consume. A robustly adult life should not include quite so much childish nonsense. As I see it.  FULL STORY arrow
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The Enemy Within: The bonkers pleasure of network TV space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, March 9, 2019 – Page A21
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-- TELEVISIONIf you've been watching non-Netflix TV over the last while, the promotion of two new network series has been inescapable. They are Whiskey Cavalier and The Enemy Within.  FULL STORY arrow
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Side benefit of too much TV: We live in literary times space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, March 7, 2019 – Page A18
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-- TELEVISIONFor all the moaning and wailing that is heard daily about this digital age and short attention spans, we live in literary times.On Wednesday, it was announced that Netflix will adapt Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude for TV.  FULL STORY arrow
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CBC's Diggstown is a charming, no-glitz legal drama space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, March 6, 2019 – Page A17
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-- TELEVISION A nother day, another new legal drama.It's an interesting twist that CBC TV premieres two legal dramas within days of each other, but before you assume it's a poverty-of-imagination issue, the rebooted Street Legal and the new Diggstown (Wednesday, CBC, 8 p.m.  FULL STORY arrow
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Does media consolidation mean the end of everything good on TV? space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, March 5, 2019 – Page A22
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-- TELEVISION A small earthquake struck the TV industry in L.A. last week. Richard Plepler, chairman and chief executive of HBO, announced he was leaving the premium cable outlet. He'd spent 27 years there, rising from the publicity department to become CEO, and under his tenure, HBO launched Game of Thrones, Veep, True Blood, The Newsroom and Girls.  FULL STORY arrow
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New Street Legal on CBC is old-school and overwrought space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, March 4, 2019 – Page A16
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-- TELEVISIONWhen CBC launched Street Legal in 1987, there were a lot of high-octane legal dramas on TV. Top of the heap was L.A.Law, a sexy, sizzling hit. And Street Legal was ours: Idealistic lawyers fighting the good fight in Toronto, dealing with Canadian law and Canadian issues. Downtown Toronto was front and centre.  FULL STORY arrow
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Watch this and gasp: Oscar-winner Free Solo is a stunner space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, March 2, 2019 – Page A20
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-- TELEVISIONThere was a little collective gasp when the winner of the Academy Award for documentary feature was announced last Sunday. It was a gasp of satisfaction because the winner is a stunner.  FULL STORY arrow
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A grim tale: Testimony that Michael Jackson was a child abuser space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, February 27, 2019 – Page A15
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-- TELEVISIONIt is nearly impossible now to understand the hysteria that surrounded Michael Jackson in the mid-eighties. Before social media and before smartphones, there existed a feverish intensity of interest in him. He was the biggest star.  FULL STORY arrow
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Netflix's fixation on dead women: Offensive or enlightening? space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, February 26, 2019 – Page A16
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-- TELEVISIONLast month's shiny new phenomenon on Netflix was the series You, about a stalker and his victims. This month, it's Dirty John (now streaming on Netflix Canada). It's an adaptation of the popular true-crime podcast, in turn based on a lengthy Los Angeles Times investigation, about an abusive relationship between a rich woman and a devious, dangerous male con artist.  FULL STORY arrow
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A bumper crop of spring TV: The shortlist space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, February 25, 2019 – Page A16
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-- TELEVISIONIt's going to be a torrid spring in the TV arena. And now that the Academy Awards are done and that awardsseason fandango has ended, it's time to look forward.  FULL STORY arrow
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Yes, there are TV alternatives to the Academy Awards space
Netflix's Paddleton and Ray Romano's stand-up special are great picks over this year's disorganized ceremony
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, February 23, 2019 – Page A20
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-- TELEVISIONIt is perfectly possible you are not that interested in the 91st Academy Awards (Sunday, ABC, CTV, 8 p.m.).There's no host. No, wait, there are presenters, but no actual host. No, wait, there's a rumour that will step up, last minute, to host it. Never mind. Some of the categories will be presented during commercial breaks. No, wait, all of the 24 categories will be presented live on TV. It will go on and on through the evening, moving very slowly to the climactic best picture award.  FULL STORY arrow
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Mr. Jane and Finch: A timely portrait of politics as it should be, but isn't space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, February 21, 2019 – Page A17
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-- At the moment, nothing incites intemperate hyperbole as much as politicians do. Politicians in power, that is.We get the picture: They stalk the corridors of power with blithe insouciance claiming to do good when in fact they are simply out for themselves, their friends, their moneyed backers or some other hidden agenda that must remain secret because voters would revolt if they knew what's hidden. Ask Andrew Scheer. He'll set you straight on this.  FULL STORY arrow
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Lorena Bobbitt: The infamous attack and what happened next space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, February 20, 2019 – Page A17
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-- TELEVISIONOne night in 1993, in Manassas, Va., Lorena Bobbitt cut off the penis of her husband, John Wayne Bobbitt, as he slept and left their home with it, later throwing the appendage from her car.  FULL STORY arrow
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Killing Eve: Prestige popcorn or cultural milestone? space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, February 18, 2019 – Page A15
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-- Explaining the impact of Killing Eve, let alone its unique quality, is a Herculean task.Somebody in the TV racket here coined the term ''prestige popcorn,'' not specifically to nail down Killing Eve but as a general idea. It would apply to premiumcable quality content that is not dead serious but fun while being incredibly smart.  FULL STORY arrow
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The Umbrella Academy on Netflix: maddening and lovely space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, February 16, 2019 – Page A22
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-- TELEVISIONIt's a guess but a fair one that a series about a dysfunctional family of superheroes is not normally your cup of tea, or mine.But The Umbrella Academy (streaming on Netflix) is a different kettle of cod. It's a different kind of take on the whole superhero thing. Also, there are, for you and me, a set of reasons to pay attention to it.  FULL STORY arrow
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Sexually speaking: The truth about Dr. Ruth space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, February 14, 2019 – Page A15
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-- TELEVISION PASADENA, CALIF.It was a lesson about celebrity power rankings.First, George Clooney was in the room, talking up the TV adaptation of Catch-22 that he has done for Hulu. He directs and acts in it. Clooney is beyond A-list.  FULL STORY arrow
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How to sell CBC shows: Add the sizzle of rock and fashion space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, February 13, 2019 – Page A20
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-- TELEVISIONWhat is that line from The Godfather? ''Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in...'' Mainly I'm down here in California to encounter and write about big-ticket or interesting upcoming TV from the U.S. cable and streaming services. You know, sizzling dramas and documentaries sure to be talked about in the coming months, from the likes of HBO and AMC.  FULL STORY arrow
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Henry Winkler: TV's most sweetly complicated man space
Just like the acting coach he plays, Winkler is still wildly enthusiastic
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, February 12, 2019 – Page A14
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TELEVISION -- It's midmorning on an unusually chilly day in Beverly Hills.A small group of journalists is in a room waiting. The muttered talk is of travel woes, cancelled flights, luggage issues and traffic.  FULL STORY arrow
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Big Little Lies: More lies, more female power than ever space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, February 11, 2019 – Page A15
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-- TELEVISIONThere was a major occasion of female power here at the mid-season TV critics press tour. It was cheerful, chatty and some awe was evident from the throng of quizzical journalists. It was the cast of HBO's Big Little Lies, Season 2.  FULL STORY arrow
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CBC's problem is complacency, not Netflix 'imperialism' space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, February 7, 2019 – Page A14
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-- In the matter of the CBC and its president talking about Netflix's cultural imperialism, the dust has now settled a bit. It is time for sensible talk.As a citizen, a consumer and a journalist keeping an eye on the Canadian TV racket, I sympathize with CBC boss Catherine Tait's expression of anguish. Netflix is rich, powerful and internationally renowned. It knows no boundaries and essentially it scoffs at international barriers. But if you want Netflix to take Canadian content with a seriousness that involves regulations and specific commitments of the kind familiar in Canadian TV for decades, take that up with the government. It is unwise and unfair to make the public feel guilty about enjoying Netflix.  FULL STORY arrow
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Russian Doll on Netflix: The most entertaining puzzle in ages space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, February 6, 2019 – Page A18
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-- It's fiendishly clever, the latest binge-worthy series from the alleged cultural imperialism monster that is Netflix. It's also very adult, full of salty language and takes a weighty philosophical turn.  FULL STORY arrow
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Strike while the gridiron is hot space
I'm not certain about the rules of NFL football, but watching the Super Bowl was a good opportunity to get some ironing done
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, February 5, 2019 – Page A14
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-- I''ve had afternoon naps more exciting. One time, I accidentally took a Microsoft Excel course that had more keenly felt drama.Look, it wasn't my idea to write about the Super Bowl. They asked me. They've been asking for years, so I finally mumbled ''yes.'' The Super Bowl is like an infectious disease - there is a long, hard battle to defend against it, and no matter your resources, you can succumb.  FULL STORY arrow
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Fear not - serious programs will counter the Super Bowl mania space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, February 2, 2019 – Page A20
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-- It's Super Bowl weekend and the entire TV racket is spooked.They back away from the ratings monster, assuming that every pair of eyeballs will be glued to the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots playing on Sunday (6:30 p.m., CTV, TSN and CBS). Such are the shivers of excitement rattling through all of the United States and Canada, nobody can concentrate on anything else. Or so they think.  FULL STORY arrow
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Why You on Netflix is a sensational hit space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, January 31, 2019 – Page A14
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-- TELEVISIONPerhaps with the intention of spooking competitors in traditional TV and cable, Netflix started 2019 by offering some viewer numbers. That is, projections on how many people in the United States and internationally actually watch at least a portion of a series on the streaming service.  FULL STORY arrow
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Kellyanne Conway: crucible of all meaning in the Trump era space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, January 30, 2019 – Page A17
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-- Last week on CNN, Anderson Cooper presented to viewers a short clip of Kellyanne Conway talking about Donald Trump's wall. Or refusing to say ''wall,'' to be exact. It was Cooper's ''Ridiculist'' segment and on that evening, he said sometimes the one-minute piece writes itself.  FULL STORY arrow
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Breslin and Hamill: a great celebration of old-school journalism space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, January 29, 2019 – Page A17
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-- A couple of months back, when this newspaper published my annual Top 10 Most Irritating Canadians (TV-related) list, an actor on a CBC show took to social media to complain. It's not that the actor was even mentioned in it. The gist of the complaint was that the piece was ''negative'' and the paper gave space to a person to write it.  FULL STORY arrow
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Coroner is typical CBC fare: nice, fake, forgettable escapism space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, January 28, 2019 – Page A15
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-- ''This was no accident,'' says the coroner after extracting a big slice of broken glass from the body of a victim. Well, no, obviously it wasn't an accident and somebody was really, really mad at the guy who is now dead.  FULL STORY arrow
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Black Earth Rising is a daring, weighty, disturbing thriller space
New Netflix series is far from popcorn entertainment, goes where few dramas nowadays would dare
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, January 26, 2019 – Page A20
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-- TELEVISIONFew dramas have the guts to present a counter-argument against the storyline right at the start. That is, however, precisely what happens at the beginning of the powerful and very pertinent Black Earth Rising (streams on Netflix Canada).  FULL STORY arrow
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Cardinal Season 3 is superb in its quiet intensity and mystery space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, January 24, 2019 – Page A14
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-- It's not big and cinematic. Neither is it surface gloss and routine characters spouting routine dialogue. Instead, it is subtly, quietly emotional while still being a gripping thriller.The third season of Cardinal (Thursday, CTV, 9 p.m.) is about a murder, a search for a killer. Or maybe several killers in cases that might be linked or might not. But at its core, it's about about haunting and the haunted. As with the superb first season, there is remarkable stillness in it, a quality of quiet intensity. As much as it is about a brutal murder and brutally evil intentions, it's about unspoken obligations. The six-part series is drenched in the muted colours of fall in Northern Ontario and the muted colours help illustrated the muted lives lived there: the despair and the lust for vengeance, or lunge toward nihilism, that despair can ignite.  FULL STORY arrow
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Keeping it short and sweet: How TV is fighting the Netflix bloat space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, January 23, 2019 – Page A17
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-- TELEVISIONBriefly: There's a lot to be said for short-form content. A lot.This column has complained before about the trend of bloated storytelling that Netflix has created: too many series that have too many episodes.  FULL STORY arrow
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Thank TV ratings for killing the increasingly irrelevant Oscars space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, January 22, 2019 – Page A16
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-- TELEVISIONYou must excuse my lack of sunny disposition about the Academy Awards. The announcement of the nominees is on Tuesday morning and I care about it as much as Doug Ford cares about Ontario postsecondary students: Not very much at all.  FULL STORY arrow
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A thousand feet beneath politics: The truth about a coal miner's job space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, January 21, 2019 – Page A15
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-- In the craven debacle that is U.S politics in the Trump era, coal miners played an important supporting role for a while.During the 2016 presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump pledged to ''get those mines open'' and bring back a lot of coal-mining jobs. Famously, at a rally in West Virginia, he put on a miner's helmet, imitated a miner shovelling coal and brayed: ''For those miners, get ready, because you're going to be working your asses off.''  FULL STORY arrow
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Brexit, the movie, is a terrifying lesson in populism space
Farcical TV drama puts focus on 'geeky analyst' who used social media to lead a 'Leave' victory
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, January 19, 2019 – Page A20
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-- Remember where you were when you heard in 2016 that Britain had voted narrowly to leave the European Union? If you remember at all - the referendum seemed like a mere sop to an anti-EU fringe at the time - you probably went ''uh-oh!''  FULL STORY arrow
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A true, uplifting hour about unlikely skating champs space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, January 17, 2019 – Page A13
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-- When I was in Dublin recently and crossing one of the bridges over the Liffey I saw the new ferry that carries people and cars to England. It is named ''W.B. Yeats.''  FULL STORY arrow
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Is Netflix phenom Marie Kondo most adorable or most annoying? space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, January 15, 2019 – Page A15
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-- TELEVISIONListen, you have too much stuff. I have too much stuff.We're all embarrassed about it. It's like being caught by David Suzuki when you're throwing an old toaster into the Green Bin. You could try explaining the other bins are full and besides, somebody must have a good-paying job extracting old toasters and such from the Green Bin stuff. It wouldn't fly. Suzuki would just give you this look.  FULL STORY arrow
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Good riddance to Criminal Minds and its female-subjugation porn space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, January 14, 2019 – Page A13
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-- Generally speaking, it ill behooves anyone to take great pleasure in the ending of a longrunning TV series. But in the case of Criminal Minds on CBS, it's perfectly legit.  FULL STORY arrow
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True Detective Season 3 goes back to basics space
The HBO drama series' latest season is done with precision, but lacks the ferocity of the first season
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, January 12, 2019 – Page A18
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-- TELEVISIONSometimes, to progress you must go back to your essence and channel it again.In the matter of True Detective, ain't it the truth: The first season arrived exactly five years ago on HBO with a bang. A murder mystery of grave intent and profound depth, it was immediately called the best drama of 2014, which indeed it was.  FULL STORY arrow
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Let's talk about Sex Education: Saucy, smart Netflix series is worth a spin space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, January 10, 2019 – Page A16
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-- Hello again and Happy New Year.January is just great, isn't it? Even in these times of populist nihilism and spite, a person can construct an air of optimism. New year, new beginnings and while it's chilly outside, we feel warm inside. It won't last, of course. By the time the slow, damp drip of April is upon us, we'll be cranky. You know I will.  FULL STORY arrow
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New year promises a smorgasbord of big-ticket TV space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, January 5, 2019 – Page R2
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-- TELEVISIONThe first thing to consider about TV content coming in 2019 is that there will be more. Literally, more content from more content-providers.Three new players are expected to enter the arena. Disney's acquisition of 21st Century Fox was the final brick in building Disney+, a new streaming service to launch in late 2019. Apple has spent about a billion dollars in creating original content in drama and comedy, much of it from established creators, to be launched in 2019. Warner Bros.  FULL STORY arrow
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Here comes holiday programming of joy, Royals and rabbits space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, December 22, 2018 – Page A16
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-- TELEVISIONFirst, important information for many of you: The Queen's Christmas Message airs on Tuesday, Christmas Day, at 10 a.m., on CBC News Network, noon on CBC TV and is repeated on CBC News Network, at 3 p.m. You may now be seated.  FULL STORY arrow
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, December 22, 2018 – Page R3
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-- One morning in January of this year, in a hotel ballroom near L.A., Roseanne Barr met a few dozen TV critics to talk up the revival of her sitcom Roseanne. It didn't go well. Surly and defensive, Barr engaged in passive-aggressive sniping at the critics.  FULL STORY arrow
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Farewell to CBC's Mr. D space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, December 19, 2018 – Page A16
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-- ''I m awesome!/No you're not, dude...'' That song by Spose was the perfect theme music for Mr. D (CBC, 9 p.m.) which ends its remarkable run tonight with a series-finale episode.  FULL STORY arrow
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Consider this: A classy drama about the brilliant Bronte sisters space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, December 18, 2018 – Page A15
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-- Let's shift away from silliness, shall we? There's a lot of it about, this time of the year, when substantive content is rare.So let's talk classy British drama. Literary drama, to be specific. First thing to do is consider BritBox, the streaming service established by the BBC and ITV for subscribers in the United States and Canada.  FULL STORY arrow
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Top Ten Most Irritating Canadians 2018 (TV-related) space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, December 17, 2018 – Page A17
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-- The Brother and the lads in his digs emerged from their lair recently to annoy me.There was an ill-mannered rata-tat-tat on my front door. I knew it was either the Brother or Doug Ford because my cat Rita, snugly ensconced on the windowsill and peering out, took off like a rocket. Rita can't stand Ford.  FULL STORY arrow
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Six unheralded TV gems you won't see on the best-of lists space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, December 11, 2018 – Page A17
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-- Lists, lists and more lists. Where does it end, at this time of the year?Such is the mania, a person would be tempted to make lists of TV types that won't be missed. Like, say, Les Moonves, previously the big boss of CBS. Or Megyn Kelly, whose strange, tortured shift from Fox News to more mainstream NBC has ended with fraught negotiations about her exit. Eventually, she will take her views about blackface somewhere else. But for now, who can be missing her?  FULL STORY arrow
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HBO's Room 104 delivers short, strange wonders space
The anthology series' second season contains little masterpieces of concise storytelling
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, December 8, 2018 – Page A20
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-- One of my counterparts who writes about TV in the United States recently came up with a plan. He describes it as, ''A new, recurring set of recommendations based on how much, or how little, time you have to watch.'' It's a great plan. In answer to the persistent question, ''What should I watch?'' the key is whether the questioner wants to see 12 hours, just six episodes of under an hour, or a 30-minute drama. At this time of the year we're all too busy. Too little time to do all that's required in the preholiday period, and never enough time to indulge in contemplation or entertaining drama or comedy that is substantial rather than slight. Here's a suggestion.  FULL STORY arrow
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The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is back with buckets of charm space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, December 5, 2018 – Page A21
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-- Cast your mind back to the Emmy Awards in September. The most memorable part of the broadcast was Amy Sherman-Palladino, got up in her personal version of top hat and tails, making Emmy history for her wins in both comedy writing and directing, making her the first woman to do so.  FULL STORY arrow
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