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GiveLife.ca

    
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PRINT EDITION
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Globe Columnists
Thursday, March 30




  John Doyle
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Television



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Home Fires and the death of cozy U.K. drama space
With Brexit in view, the British cultural conscious is changing. That might mean the end of series in the vein of PBS's Home Fires
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, March 30, 2017 – Page L2
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-- They make a lot of TV in Britain. Some of it is awful, some of it brilliant. A lot of it is in the middle - mildly entertaining, cozy TV.Right now, Britain is going through some kind of existential cultural crisis. It's about Brexit and Britishness. And television is part of that.  FULL STORY arrow
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With 13 Reasons Why, Netflix takes aim at coveted YA crowd space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, March 29, 2017 – Page L1
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-- There's a point, early in 13 Reasons Why (starts streaming on Netflix, Friday) that telegraphs where everything is going. Two teenage boys are leaving school, one giving the other ride home. One, Clay (Dylan Minnette), tells the driver, Tony (Christian Navarro), that he's impressed by the ''old media'' sound system in the car.  FULL STORY arrow
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What Would Sal Do? Be crude, dumb and very funny space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, March 28, 2017 – Page L1
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-- There is one particular strain of Canadian culture that thrives on TV. We don't make a lot of truly notable TV here, but much of what is memorable falls into this category - guys who like their beer and dope, swear a blue streak and generally appear to be as stupid as mud. They're not stupid, actually. But acting that way comes naturally.  FULL STORY arrow
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CBS illustrates the soul of Trump's America space
Indicated by a long list of series renewals, American viewers - and voters - want dependability, not diversity
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, March 27, 2017 – Page L2
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-- The other day, CBS announced the renewal of 18 returning series for the 2017-18 TV season.The network boasted it was ''displaying the programming depth and stability of America's Most Watched Network.''  FULL STORY arrow
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Why Canada: The Story of Us is anything but space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, March 25, 2017 – Page R1
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-- As even the cats and dogs on the streets of the country must know by now, Canada is officially 150 years old this year.There's a lot of Canada 150 stuff going on.  FULL STORY arrow
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No new hits, but network TV not dead yet space
Despite competition from Netflix and other platforms - including real-life politics - conventional broadcasting is still in the game
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, March 23, 2017 – Page L2
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-- A problem that comes with writing a column about television is that every now and then you feel obliged to act like you're addressing a public meeting. You should clear your throat, make a pronouncement and then use such phrases as ''further to my earlier point.''  FULL STORY arrow
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Hearing reveals reality of our post-truth time space
The real reason for Monday's hearing - Russia's meddling in last year's U.S. election - was obvious and laid bare rather quickly. What followed was an exhibition of obfuscation
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, March 21, 2017 – Page A9
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-- ''The committee will come to order.''It was 10:00 a.m. ET on Monday and that statement stopped the political punditry on TV. It takes a lot to stop the punditry on TV these days. A lot.  FULL STORY arrow
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Euro noir is alive and well space
The excellent Hotel Beau Séjour is a remarkably textured, slow-burning and compelling murder mystery from Belgium
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, March 20, 2017 – Page L2
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-- According to a chap writing for The Guardian the other day, ''Scandi noir'' is dead. That is, the genre that included The Bridge and The Killing, and inspired Broadchurch, The Missing and River, has deflated and is now just another style of TV that seems derivative of itself.  FULL STORY arrow
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Meet the most appalling people on Earth space
A recent BBC documentary about fraternities gives startling insight into aspects of a deeply unsettling portion of university life
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, March 18, 2017 – Page R3
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-- If you're so inclined, you can meet some of the most disgusting people on Earth this weekend. On TV. But you should be aware that these disgusting people are among the most powerful in the United States. Dismiss them at your peril.  FULL STORY arrow
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A sublimely reinvigorated Anne of Green Gables space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, March 16, 2017 – Page L2
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-- I am happy to report that Anne (Sunday, CBC, 8 p.m.), the new CBC/Netflix incarnation of Anne of Green Gables, is striking and fresh.Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne Shirley is one of the most appealing figures in literature, a girl who is so enamoured of imagination, words and wonder itself that you'd think it would be hard to go wrong with the story. She's a universally understood and adored character. But, in the Canadian context, there are issues. Mainly nostalgia.  FULL STORY arrow
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Amazing, mundane lives of Canada's keepers space
Ambitious production chronicles the daily routines of the country's 'everyday heroes' as they work to keep the peace
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, March 15, 2017 – Page L2
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-- ''Few things matter more to us than the safety of our families, our communities and our country.''That's the opening statement in the copious news release for Keeping Canada Safe (Thursday, CBC, 9 p.m.). It's true, that statement. And the series of eight half-hour episodes is one of those ambitious snap-shot productions.  FULL STORY arrow
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How television treats mental disorders, the good and bad space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, March 14, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Sometimes it seems that television is obsessed with afflictions, and the more lurid and eye-popping the better.Tomorrow and Thursday, TLC is offering hours and hours of My 600-lb Life. On Wednesday it's James K.'s story and it is three hours long: ''James becomes bedridden, unable to stand and can barely move his legs; Holly and Mark prepare for skin-removal surgery.'' I'm not sure who Holly and Mark might be, but on Thursday, James K.'s story continues for another two hours: ''James needs to find a way to get from Kentucky to Texas, then shed enough pounds to qualify for weight-loss surgery.'' The programs are offered ''with insider facts,'' according to TLC.  FULL STORY arrow
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Lithgow shines in cheeky mockumentary space
Trial & Error lightly spoofs true crime documentaries by going for jokes instead of the jugular, sprinkling in absurdism throughout
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, March 13, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Sometimes the gulf between network and cable, in quality and brazenness, is most glaring when a network attempts a sassy comedy. It looks a little lame, lacking a true cutting edge. But, then you throw in John Lithgow and it looks a lot better. A lot.  FULL STORY arrow
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And the award doesn't go to ... space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, March 11, 2017 – Page R3
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-- It depends on how you look at it.On the one hand, the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards (Sunday, CBC, 8 p.m. ET) is a whiz-bang idea and every Canadian should be ashamed if they don't watch it.  FULL STORY arrow
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The bizarre, bracing TV that is Russia Today space
Watching the Kremlin-backed news network is an odd journey into the mind of Moscow, with detours into Trump territory
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 – Page L2
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-- If you're wondering what Larry King is doing these days - and let's face it, somebody, somewhere might be wondering - he's on the channel RT (Russia Today).The 83-year-old King, still in his shirtsleeves and suspenders, actually has two shows on the Kremlin-backed RT channel.  FULL STORY arrow
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WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HOLLYWOOD PAIN? space
Ryan Murphy proved to be TV's saviour with The People v. O.J. Simpson. Now, he seeks to revive high camp with Feud, a tale of two divas. John Doyle reports from L.A. on the season's most vicious romp
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, March 4, 2017 – Page R1
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-- It was what you'd call an impressive lineup, by any standard. A new series on the FX channel was up for discussion at January's TV critic's press tour and along came Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange and Catherine ZetaJones. Also there was Kiernan Shipka, who played Sally Draper on Mad Men, and Alison Wright, who played Martha on The Americans. Judy Davis was supposed to be there, but sent apologies.  FULL STORY arrow
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Hollywood's enduring fascination with Jack the Ripper space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, March 2, 2017 – Page L1
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-- There are dozens of movies and TV series that feature Jack the Ripper. Hundreds of books.It's a continuing fascination largely because there is no answer to the mystery of who Jack the Ripper was. And the late-Victorian period in which he killed in the slums of London has its own fascination - the gothic arena of the grim, foggy streets of the Whitechapel district is compelling. The Ripper story is one that people use to project fantasies and conspiracy theories.  FULL STORY arrow
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Canada's insufferable smugness isn't funny space
International infatuation from liberal media outlets has amplified our sense of self-importance - and it's not healthy
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, March 1, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Some people are sick and tired of Canada. Can't blame them, really. We're a smug bunch these days.A lot of the world's major media has a crush on Canada, adding to the usual smugness that's in the air up here. The New York Times, the Guardian and the BBC have increased their Canadian coverage. Three outlets that are, by no coincidence, on President Donald Trump's hit list. And they take a dim view of him, while crushing on our Prime Minister, Justin the Good.  FULL STORY arrow
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True crime up north: Missing tourist poses great puzzle space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, February 28, 2017 – Page L2
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-- It is a common-or-garden observation that there are elements of some cultures that are impenetrable to outsiders. Attitudes toward death are on the list of unknowable mindsets in other countries and religions.  FULL STORY arrow
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What's hot now? Riverdale, gay rights and the real world space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, February 27, 2017 – Page L2
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TELEVISION -- You're probably wondering what's going on. Me, too.So much content, so little time.Possibly, you spend hours staring at CNN for the latest Trump-related outrage and eventually you speculate there are other things unfolding on TV you should know about. There are. Some Trump-related, and some not.  FULL STORY arrow
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Extraordinary doc about hunger strikes justifies public broadcasting space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, February 23, 2017 – Page L1
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-- First, public TV broadcasting is a necessary part of the culture both here and in the United States.One of the bedrock reasons why public broadcasters need to exist is to provide an alternative to mainstream commercial entertainment. (Let's leave CBC TV out of this right now. In TV it is a public/commercial hybrid and unrepresentative in this context.)  FULL STORY arrow
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Right-wing TV in the cards for Trump era space
From partisan-pundit romance to military dramas, networks are looking to reflect red-state values under the new administration
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, February 22, 2017 – Page L2
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-- A small tremor was felt in L.A. last week, and not the usual kind.The prolific and successful writer-producer Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story, The People v. O.J. Simpson) was appearing on a chat show and was asked about the setting for the next season of American Horror Story. ''Well, I don't have a title, but the season we begin shooting in June is going to be about the election that we just went through,'' Murphy said.  FULL STORY arrow
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Bellevue packs a full, and strange, punch space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, February 20, 2017 – Page L4
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-- The new CBC drama Bellevue (Monday, CBC, 9 p.m.) is a whodunit with a lot going on.That is, an awful, awful lot going on.It's very good, an atmospheric, well-acted drama. In its favour, it has a distinct Canadian gothic sensibility - it's about decay, a mining town gone to seed, and it's about hockey, religion, revenge, death, loss, the mystery held by the reservation outside of town, the mystery held by a closed mental-health treatment centre outside of town and the mystery held in the dense woods around town. Also, it's about transgender teens.  FULL STORY arrow
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Brilliant, brutal mystery entertainment space
A marquee cast makes Big Little Lies worth tuning into while its writing and direction give it a gorgeous but jagged sheen
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, February 18, 2017 – Page R3
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-- It's pulpy fiction but it's done with a smart, adult sensibility.Be warned about Big Little Lies (Sunday, HBO Canada, 9 p.m.) because nothing is quite what it seems, literally and figuratively.  FULL STORY arrow
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Better than Game of Thrones: the White House drama space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, February 16, 2017 – Page L2
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-- It was Tuesday, shortly after 1 p.m. On CNN, Wolf Blitzer was talking to Seth Moulton, a former U.S. Marine Corps officer and currently a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives.  FULL STORY arrow
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The Missing - a thriller about unbearable suffering space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, February 15, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Got a great one for you today.A sobering, haunting and profoundly complex, yet profoundly human, crime drama. It is recommended with a caveat - it is at times shockingly dark and will disturb you to your bones.  FULL STORY arrow
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Humans is a moral education on labour exploitation space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, February 13, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Let's not kid ourselves. Your job and mine could be done by machines. And, in the end, they probably will be.Why, not long ago, a TV executive informed me sarcastically that an algorithm could do what I do. (That's not original; most TV executives aren't.)  FULL STORY arrow
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Girls' final season: as real and riling as ever space
As HBO's millennial comedy enters the home stretch, viewers get a reliable mix of poignant humour and grating self-indulgence
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, February 11, 2017 – Page R3
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-- The return of Girls (Sunday, HBO Canada, 10 p.m.) is a bracing reminder that it is, and always has been, the most frustrating of cable-quality shows.First: There is a point in many careers where the energy of ego, reputation and self-aggrandizement outstrips the energy of creativity. Such seems to be the case with Lena Dunham and Girls.  FULL STORY arrow
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No fake news in late-night 'Trump bump' space
Younger viewers are still tuning in to the news at the end of the day, but they're doing it in a different way
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, February 9, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Yesterday in this space, I was writing about Saturday Night Live and the resurgence of TV satire. I'm not finished yet.See, there was an interesting development last week in the ongoing late-night wars of American TV. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS beat NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in total viewers for the first time since Colbert arrived in September, 2015.  FULL STORY arrow
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Fixed target of a Trump administration has satire soaring space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, February 8, 2017 – Page L2
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-- It's weird the way it works: TV satire failed to match the tumult of the U.S. presidential campaign and seemed to sag into irrelevancy, but now that Donald Trump is President the genre is essential, excoriating viewing.  FULL STORY arrow
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Let's all root for an amoral anti-heroine space
Imposters makes the viewer question who is worth cheering for: the streetwise con artist or her nice-guy victims
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, February 7, 2017 – Page L2
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-- ''Sometimes people fall out of love and do dramatic things.Especially Europeans,'' says the nice American blond lady. She's talking about Ava, the Belgian beauty who just walked on her husband, nice guy Ezra.  FULL STORY arrow
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Katie Couric walks the gender minefield space
National Geographic tackles hot-button subjects with the American Everywoman, exploring the identity revolution
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, February 6, 2017 – Page L2
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-- According to a bunch of pundits, the Democrats lost the U.S. presidential election in part because the party was more interested in talking about bathroom rights than the right of working people to a job and decent wages.  FULL STORY arrow
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After the Super Bowl, the real TV event space
Emerging from the snack wrappers and beer cans, audiences can look forward to 24: Legacy and the comic genius of Letterkenny
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, February 4, 2017 – Page R3
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-- First, there's the Super Bowl LI shindig (Sunday, Fox, CTV, 6:30 p.m.), which lasts, from preshow to postgame, about 14 hours.As the whole world knows, the game is an excuse to eat snacks and drink beer. There are so few opportunities to do that.  FULL STORY arrow
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On Netflix: gross comedy and lurid mystery space
Santa Clarita Diet mushes together droll satire and queasy gags; The Investigator: A British Crime Story stews in addictive melodrama
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, February 2, 2017 – Page L2
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-- So, the content keeps coming from Netflix. Some of it strange and bewildering. Herewith, the details on two new productions.Santa Clarita Diet (streaming Netflix Friday) has been heavily promoted and yet nothing seen in advance quite gives the true flavour of it. That's because it is both funny and repulsive - both deadpan and gross, a difficult combo to pull off.  FULL STORY arrow
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Steve Bannon was right - welcome to oppositional TV space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, January 31, 2017 – Page L1
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-- There were conniptions galore when Steve Bannon made this assertion last week: ''The media here is the opposition party. They don't understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the President of the United States.'' He also suggested that the ''humiliated'' media might do well to ''keep its mouth shut.''  FULL STORY arrow
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Moore and the influence of innocuous TV space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, January 30, 2017 – Page L2
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-- In this age of important TV, when so much serious meaning can be extrapolated, the importance of inoffensive and seemingly innocent series can be easily forgotten. I mean those series on network TV that most people grew up with.  FULL STORY arrow
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Young man makes good - from Toronto to Hollywood hit space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, January 28, 2017 – Page R5
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LOS ANGELES -- Television is a different country. They do things differently there. Getting to that country can be a strange and unusual journey.See, if I were to tell you that this story is about a thirtysomething man from Toronto, who went to Upper Canada College and graduated with a degree in environmental science and public policy from Harvard, you'd probably think it's about a rising captain of industry, an important civil servant or an entrepreneur with his finger on the pulse of the latest thing.  FULL STORY arrow
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The acceptable face of awards season space
The SAG Awards are fun, in a sleepy, relaxed manner, although the frock-opera element remains
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, January 28, 2017 – Page R3
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-- Awards season is under way. If that's your thing, and heaven knows there is an assumption that the world is gripped by a series of events that are both frock operas and prize-giving, note that there is one doozy this weekend.  FULL STORY arrow
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Mary Kills People is provocative, killer drama space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, January 25, 2017 – Page L1
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-- ''It's a lonely business, dying,'' says Mary, who is the title character in Mary Kills People (Wednesday, Global, 9 p.m.).Asked why she kills people, Mary says, ''I believe we should be in control of our life and death.  FULL STORY arrow
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A necessary one-hour primer on how Trump became President space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, January 24, 2017 – Page L2
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-- It only takes an hour. Eighteen months distilled to a one-hour narrative. It won't tell you why it happened. Not outright, anyway. It will remind you what happened step by step by step.  FULL STORY arrow
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Cardinal is landmark Canadian TV space
The six-part series is a good serial drama that aims for - and reaches - a much higher level
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, January 23, 2017 – Page L2
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-- It's there in the stillness, the cold and snow. It's there in the subtle emotional shifts and quiet intensity of the responses. It is there in the unsayable being left unsaid. The viewer is trusted to connect, to respond without being led by the hand through the tangled storyline about bereavement, brutality and anger that's as icily cold as the setting.  FULL STORY arrow
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A divided country severed by divided media space
Inauguration coverage is a reminder that world is still run by older white men with comb-overs and decades-younger wives
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, January 21, 2017 – Page A7
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-- It was, of course, a sort-of Rorschach test, the coverage of the Trump inauguration. Pleasing to some are the powerful images of pomp and circumstance as a new leader is installed. Unnerving to others is the reality that demagoguery put Donald J. Trump at the swearingin ceremony.  FULL STORY arrow
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Why so much depends on Samantha Bee space
Outrage drives the Full Frontal engine, and it's this outrage that is key to Bee, her show and her audience
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, January 19, 2017 – Page L2
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PASADENA, CALIF. -- Someone behind me said this: ''Sam Bee looks sad.''Indeed, she did look sad; a little worn, a little tired and she cut a wan, wee figure as she came, with her creative team, to talk to a gathering of TV critics to promote new episodes of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (Wednesdays, Comedy Network).  FULL STORY arrow
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The new late-night landscape space
Viceland's Desus & Mero stands out amid a sea of bland, conventional Jimmys, Colbert, bands and suits
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, January 18, 2017 – Page L2
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PASADENA, CALIF. -- You probably think that you know the late-night landscape: Jimmy this and Jimmy that, Stephen Colbert being painfully unfunny. Guys in suits with a band and some guests from movies and TV. The usual thing.  FULL STORY arrow
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Forget HBO, FX is the quality channel now space
An emphasis on patience and diversity is paying off in spades, as the network's shows continue to rake in awards hand over fist
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, January 17, 2017 – Page L2
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PASADENA, CALIF. -- ''Do you want it now, or do you want it good?'' John Landgraf asked a room full of TV writers and reporters here at the critics' news tour the other day.  FULL STORY arrow
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Of the monarchy and the maniacal space
A teenaged Queen Victoria trying to figure it out; an American pope trying to keep control; a CIA agent trying to catch a terrorist
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, January 14, 2017 – Page R6
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-- It's the first major weekend of television in 2017 and there are three shows you need to know about. Two are about leadership and power. And both of those are about hard-nosed but vulnerable leaders. The third is about a hardnosed but vulnerable spy.  FULL STORY arrow
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TV AND THE TRUMP CHALLENGE space
Television programmers face a unique dilemma in this new political era, John Doyle reports from Pasadena, Calif. Either they perpetuate liberal Hollywood stereotypes or build a bigger tent
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, January 14, 2017 – Page R1
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-- Early on the morning after Meryl Streep unleashed her scolding of Donald Trump at the Golden Globes, and then Trump, aided by his supporters, hit back at ''liberal'' Hollywood, the fight continued.  FULL STORY arrow
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A TV revival as strange as David Lynch space
The Twin Peaks co-creator offers a peek at the series' return - in his typical maddening yet hypnotic fashion
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, January 12, 2017 – Page L2
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-- About Twin Peaks, David Lynch has his own memories of what happened in 1991, most of which he's keeping to himself, in his inimitable way. I have mine.Around the time I started writing about television, along came Twin Peaks.  FULL STORY arrow
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Riverdale is a subversive, dark take on Archie Comics universe space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, January 11, 2017 – Page L1
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PASADENA, CALIF. -- It's hovering around 9 a.m. on Sunday. I'm in a room with a couple of hundred people who write about television. A man on the stage is jawing on about the importance of keeping critically acclaimed but low-rated series on the air. It makes sense, he says, because the acclaim eventually draws in viewers who might watch other shows.  FULL STORY arrow
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Workin' Moms? It reeks of entitlement and privilege space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, January 10, 2017 – Page L2
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-- The new and heavily promoted CBC comedy Workin' Moms (Tuesday, CBC, 9:30 p.m.) is not so much a comedy as it is a celebration of middle-class mothers going back to work after maternity leave. This is a tad confusing: See, it's not funny.  FULL STORY arrow
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Sex, drugs, Mennonites - good Pure drama space
The series, set in Southern Ontario, suggests from the get-go that there is something evil lurking under the bucolic landscape
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, January 9, 2017 – Page L2
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-- There's a scene early on in Pure (Tuesday, CBC, 9 p.m.), in which a kid taunts some other kids on a school bus about being Amish. A teenage girl in an oldfashioned dress and a bonnet replies, ''We're not Amish, you moron. We're Mennonite. It's different.''  FULL STORY arrow
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Hard Rock Medical is us: True North and fun space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, January 7, 2017 – Page R7
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-- You would be forgiven for thinking that this ''Canada 150'' motif is a President's Choice promotion, aimed at selling stuff in grocery stores by making us sentimental about Canada.  FULL STORY arrow
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Mind-boggling numbers behind Big Bang space
A decade on, comedy series continues to have core following - and rakes in millions and millions of dollars for its stars
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, January 5, 2017 – Page L2
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-- If The Big Bang Theory (Thursday, CBS, CTV, 8 p.m.) is your bag, enjoy tonight's episode. It's the last new episode for a while and, after that, you might be seeing less of it.  FULL STORY arrow
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The necessary education in Fox News space
I used to think the channel was hilarious. These days, not so much
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, January 4, 2017 – Page L2
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-- One night last week, after watching a few minutes of some people on CNN droning on in a despairing manner about the U.S. economy doing well but President Barack Obama failing to get credit, I turned over to Fox News. It was idle curiosity.  FULL STORY arrow
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Sometimes a bad show is just a bad show space
The Mick, Fox's cable-like excursion into raunchy comedy, is an insultingly bad effort that ultimately fails in attempts at satire
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, January 3, 2017 – Page L2
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-- In my most recent epistle, I was telling you about good and great TV arriving in early 2017. The high excitement of it all. The pleasure of anticipation.The dramas with great actors and nuanced scripts. The approaching phalanx of seriousminded shows that will be on Top 10 lists by the end of the year.  FULL STORY arrow
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Reasons to be cheerful - sizzling TV coming in 2017 space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, January 2, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Happy new year. This one will be better than the last.First, in consideration of your feelings and constraints on your time, and our shared hope that the new year brings a cornucopia of delights - mark Sunday, Jan. 15 in your calendar. Make a note to get your PVR in order.  FULL STORY arrow
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The year the viewer was king: 12 TV series that mattered space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, December 26, 2016 – Page L1
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-- In this year, of all years, trying to neatly summarize television is a fool's errand. Such was the sheer amount of drama, comedy and documentary from across so many platforms, that a best-of list is redundant. And then there is the startling fact that television played a vital role in the most extraordinary U.S. election in decades. Plus the often stunning spectacle that TV provided in coverage of the Rio Olympics, the Euro 16 soccer tournament and countless other and more local sports events. There is too much to remember.  FULL STORY arrow
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The top 10 most irritating Canadians of 2016 (TV-related) space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, December 20, 2016 – Page L1
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TELEVISION -- What a year, my dears. Are we jaded yet?Trump and Brexit, terrorist attacks and death. The endless deaths. All those celebrities passing away and, well, in case somebody feels like fixating on that, the countless dead in wars, bombings and shootings as the viciousness of human hatred was on full display. A year of hackers, hotheads and liars.  FULL STORY arrow
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The best gift this Christmas is the return of hilarious Letterkenny space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, December 19, 2016 – Page L1
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-- Let's talk Christmas gifts. Pitter, patter, let's get at ''er.Everybody's chirpin' about it right now. Half the TV schedule is treacly TV movies telling you that the only gift that matters is the holiday spirit of love. Or such like.  FULL STORY arrow
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Veil is lifted on Netflix's mysterious The OA space
The mind-bending, astounding drama is the online network's strongest and strangest original production since Stranger Things
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, December 17, 2016 – Page R3
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-- Not long ago, an invitation arrived from Netflix to watch a media-only link to The OA. The title meant nothing to me and Netflix PR didn't offer much information. A heavy-duty embargo had to be signed. That was some kind of hint. Access was duly given.  FULL STORY arrow
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If you like Nordic noir, here's a captivating new drama space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, December 15, 2016 – Page L2
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-- Call it what you want - Nordic Noir, ScandiNoir - but it's clear they make very good TV drama in Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Viewers around the world are now familiar with original, challenging and superbly crafted crime and political dramas such as The Killing, The Bridge and Borgen.  FULL STORY arrow
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Golden Globe nominations good, bad, strange as usual space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, December 14, 2016 – Page L3
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-- The great thing about the Golden Globes is that the awards shindig includes television. The even better thing is that the Golden Globes' TV categories are eccentric to the point of being bizarre. Monday's announcement was the usual puzzler.  FULL STORY arrow
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A great excursion into power and paranoia space
The War of the Roses, so exquisitely embroidered by Shakespeare's blank verse, resonates well in the era of The Game of Thrones
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, December 10, 2016 – Page R5
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-- Oh ye of little faith. No, you are not condemned to watch only treacly holiday movies and special episodes of standard series. No, you are not restricted to gormless but heart-tugging tales.  FULL STORY arrow
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Villain of the year: Negan on Walking Dead space
Repellent yet compelling character's mindset and strutting seem to capture the spirit of politics today
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, December 8, 2016 – Page L4
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-- It has been a year of politics and deaths. A year people believe will go down in infamy as, you know, the bottom of the barrel. So many beloved figures passed away; so much populist anger turning a familiar world upside down.  FULL STORY arrow
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Hairspray Live! aims to make America feel great again space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, December 7, 2016 – Page L2
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-- It has been been planned for many months. It's the fourth live musical that NBC has done.And you could say it's simply part of a TV-racket craze to capture the all-important live audience.  FULL STORY arrow
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It's here - Israel's latest TV sensation, Fauda, is a great thriller that rejects sensationalism space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, December 6, 2016 – Page L1
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-- Shows originating in Israel have had some impact in recent years. The drama B'Tipul was recreated as the HBO drama In Treatment and, famously, Hatufim was rebooted to become Homeland, and we've been witnessing Claire Danes as Carrie go on and off her meds while chasing terrorists and spies ever since.  FULL STORY arrow
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Theories about Trump's winning strategy space
Were media and TV outlets using the reality star for high ratings, or is the business mogul more cunning than we thought?
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, December 5, 2016 – Page L4
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-- For many years, a quote from author and screenwriter William Goldman has often been used as a handy way to sum up the Hollywood film racket.The phrase Goldman used was ''Nobody knows anything.'' It appeared in his 1983 book Adventures in the Screen Trade, about his experiences working on such acclaimed movies as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President's Men, and other films that never got produced. While it was repeatedly used to describe the organized chaos of the film industry, it specifically refers to Goldman's assertion that nobody really knows how a film will resonate with audiences and critics.  FULL STORY arrow
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Mariah's World - it's a whole bunch of laughs space
Amid winks and lunacy, the old-school diva's new show teaches us that money can buy you a lot of couches to lounge upon
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, December 3, 2016 – Page R3
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-- It would be easy to make fun of Mariah's World (Sunday, E!, 9 p.m.), so let's get started.Not that I'm familiar with Mariah Carey's body of work. She is known as the ''songbird supreme,'' I gather, from minutes of deep research. She has a remarkable voice, with incredible range. I know that for a fact. Also, it's my impression that her ostentatious style has been enormously influential and that about half the contestants on American Idol and The Voice are trying to mimic her. She does love songs, mostly - pining for some guy, that kind of thing. She has done carefully chosen duets with rappers. Her song All I Want for Christmas Is You is now considered a standard holiday tune.  FULL STORY arrow
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The Great Indoors is great satire of our strange time space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, December 1, 2016 – Page L1
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-- Most sitcoms go into the dustbin of history and deservedly so.That is a truism acknowledged by the general public and known all too well by those of us who write about television. Still, there are caveats. A new network comedy might offer its strongest, funniest material in the first episode and go downhill from there, after the pilot is overpraised.  FULL STORY arrow
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Dismantling the CBC is the most elitist position of all space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, November 30, 2016 – Page L2
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-- Me, I'm not sure that Kellie Leitch and her campaign are real. I think it's all part of this fake-news thing that's going around.Listen, the candidate and the candidate's positions don't sound authentic. It smells bogus.  FULL STORY arrow
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Netflix may no longer be a gold mine, but it still has gems space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, November 29, 2016 – Page L2
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-- Last week, Ovum, a Britishbased technology research and advisory firm ''advised'' its clients that, ''Netflix's current business model burns massive and increasing amounts of cash, which we think is not sustainable.''  FULL STORY arrow
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Paranoid is an ideal Brit-cop binge-watch space
What makes the show truly interesting is the ordinariness of the officers and the villain at the heart of the eight-part series
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, November 28, 2016 – Page L2
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-- On these cold, grey days, I know what you want. You want a good British thriller to binge-watch. I know what many of you are like - I'm aware of your tastes and inclinations.  FULL STORY arrow
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Baruchel bares his Celtic soul for the world space
The director's latest is a beautifully eccentric road-trip documentary on which he reconnects with his Irish roots
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, November 26, 2016 – Page R4
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-- There's no point asking Jay Baruchel what he is most proud of. It's not the movies or TV series he's written, directed or starred in. He's already blurted it out: ''It's the thing I'm most proud of is my family tree.  FULL STORY arrow
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The strangest tale of horror, forgiveness and love space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, November 24, 2016 – Page L3
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-- Look up the phrase ''We live in hope and die in despair,'' and you'll find it described as an old adage. Well, like a lot of old adages it isn't accurate or universally true. Most of us hope to never reach despair and we hope that even from bitter failure and loss, something positive emerges.  FULL STORY arrow
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Netflix gets lost in Stars Hollow space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, November 23, 2016 – Page L1
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-- Writing about Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (starts streaming Netflix on Friday) is a slippery task. There's a confidentiality/embargo agreement that precludes giving ''storyline information,'' so some specifics can't be revealed.  FULL STORY arrow
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The Trump era - is it both post-truth and postsatire? space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, November 22, 2016 – Page L1
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-- Larry Wilmore was right. It must be acknowledged now that some of what he was doing on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore - which ran on Comedy Central from January, 2015, until it was cancelled in August, 2016 - hit the nail on the head.  FULL STORY arrow
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You want horror? Here's more and more space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, November 19, 2016 – Page R5
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-- We are all a half-step ahead of something awful happening. And we all know that. That's one of the reasons why the horror category of entertainment and its many subgenres have an enduring appeal.  FULL STORY arrow
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What does it mean to give the gift of life? space
Canada's organ-donation rate is among the lowest in the industrialized world. CBC's Vital Bonds opens up the discussion
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, November 17, 2016 – Page L2
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-- In Denys Arcand's wonderful movie Jesus of Montreal, an actor, Daniel (Lothaire Bluteau), increasingly comes to resemble Jesus during a production of the Passion Play. Much of Arcand's witty and sensitive film is a commentary about the gulf between the true message of Jesus and how it is interpreted by the church today.  FULL STORY arrow
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For and against comfort TV in a time of woe space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, November 16, 2016 – Page L2
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-- If you wander around Toronto on foot, as I do, you often encounter some TV show or movie being made. The huge trucks, the army of people with electrical cords, no parking on this side of the street - all of us here know the routine.  FULL STORY arrow
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A drama that's an aphrodisiac for gun lovers space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, November 15, 2016 – Page L2
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-- ''My name is Bob Lee Swagger. I did not kill the president.''Okey dokey. That resonates these days. And who is Bob Lee Swagger? Well, we are informed by knowledgeable people that he's ''the deadliest sniper ever known.'' Also, when he was serving in Afghanistan, he held off 200 Taliban for 36 hours, on his own.  FULL STORY arrow
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A TV corroboration of legitimacy space
60 Minutes provides Trump a comfy platform for his first interview as president-elect, but the episode hints at the coming storm
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, November 14, 2016 – Page A4
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-- If you were fretful already, the alarm bells should be ringing loudly and incessantly now.The president-elect of the United States, after the campaign hurly-burly, still sounds like a narcissistic, boasting 15-year-old, with the vocabulary of a 12-yearold. And that is said with all due respect. The point of Donald Trump's one-hour interview on 60 Minutes on Sunday was to induce respect. That inducement was the engine that drove it.  FULL STORY arrow
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Trump's road from reality TV to president-elect, explained space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, November 12, 2016 – Page R1
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-- In the online version of The New Yorker on Wednesday, editor David Remnick wrote about ''Trump's world of vanity, hate, arrogance, untruth, and recklessness, his disdain for democratic norms.''  FULL STORY arrow
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Nov. 11 is now different, as we acknowledge what lingers space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, November 10, 2016 – Page L2
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-- We approach Remembrance Day a bit differently now.It's not that there is less respect and honour shown to veterans.It's a matter of better understanding what war does to the people who fight - the unseen psychological issues that linger, long after the fighting is done.  FULL STORY arrow
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Explained - how The Crown makes the royals sympathetic space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, November 9, 2016 – Page L2
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-- The lavishly made The Crown (now streaming on Netflix) is disconcerting from the get-go. In the opening scene we see George VI (Jared Harris) coughing up specks of blood into a toilet bowl.  FULL STORY arrow
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The war against the media will go on past this election space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, November 8, 2016 – Page L2
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-- You're nuts if you think it's over, this U.S. presidential election. What it has sown will be reaped. Apart entirely from the possible ramifications of Donald Trump braying about a rigged election, there is the matter of his poisonous position on the media.  FULL STORY arrow
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In a big week in politics, let's look at JFK Jr. space
It's a good time to think about the nature of political ambition and celebrity in the United States, and a new film does just that
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, November 7, 2016 – Page L2
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-- It's America's week. Tomorrow, the whole world will be gripped by the election of another Clinton or a rogue businessman. Either a dynasty being forged or a seismic shift in the history of presidential politics in the United States.  FULL STORY arrow
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Recommended: Frontier's yarn about Canada's fur-trade wars space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, November 5, 2016 – Page R14
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-- Canadian history is about cutthroat business. And greed, murder, rage, revenge and pillage. Mind you, it's mainly about getting on with the necessities of cutthroat business.Frontier (Sunday, Discovery, 9 p.m.) is a new drama about Canada in the 18th century, before it was Canada and was merely a disputed place to pillage and ravage like the bountiful, wanton place it was. It's a stunningly opulent, wildly entertaining romp, an action/adventure drama anchored in the savagery of the fur trade. Blink and you've missed some character being knifed, hung or beaten to death in the name of profit.  FULL STORY arrow
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Explained - why the mission to Mars is a dubious racket space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, November 3, 2016 – Page L3
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-- On Halloween night a young fella dressed as an astronaut came to my door. After issuing him his chips and candy I asked where he wanted to go - the moon or Mars? ''The moon,'' he said. He informed me loftily that the moon is only 384,400 kilometres from Earth. On the sidewalk, his mother beamed at his erudition. Mars, he informed me, was too hot and too far away.  FULL STORY arrow
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Whither Canadian Culture: Where's the Quality? space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, November 2, 2016 – Page L2
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-- In the matter of Canadian culture, we are eternally fixated on rational approaches and consensus. That's a problem. Since we already have an eternal identity problem, rational approaches are, essentially, mere time-wasting.  FULL STORY arrow
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Verbosity is undermining The Walking Dead space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, October 29, 2016 – Page R3
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-- He came, he saw and he bashed in two heads with a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire. The character Negan arrived fully on The Walking Dead (Sunday, AMC, 9 p.m.) last week and conquered the ragtag group of survivors lead by Rick Grimes.  FULL STORY arrow
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Diversity good, comedy mild and mediocre on Second Jen space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, October 27, 2016 – Page L1
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-- One approaches every new Canadian comedy or drama with trepidation. So many mediocre shows, so many outright failures and so few excellent series.Second Jen (CITY-TV, 8:30 p.m.) is a new comedy and it falls into the mediocre category. Nice try, though. As in trying too hard to be nice. It's a very slight comedy, and on the evidence of the first two episodes it's a one-note idea that is beaten to a near-pulp of puerility through endless repetition of the same theme.  FULL STORY arrow
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A tale of sugar daddies and transactional dating: so what? space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, October 26, 2016 – Page L2
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-- Who am I to judge twentysomething women who sell their bodies or their mere presence to older, well-off men for money? I don't judge. It doesn't bother me. It's their business.  FULL STORY arrow
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Trump TV would be mad, bad, dangerous space
There's nothing funny about a speculative channel fuelled by lunacy, acting in permanent, angry opposition to a Clinton presidency
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, October 25, 2016 – Page L2
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-- It is hard to keep track of all the developments in the frenzied circus of tomfoolery and gutter politics that is the Donald Trump campaign. But here's one that should be noted. In fact, it might explain the unexplainable. The Financial Times, an outlet not given to colourful exaggeration or to floating outrageous untruths, reported recently that Trump's son-in-law had met with potential investors to canvass the possibility of starting a Trump television network.  FULL STORY arrow
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Five can't-miss coming shows space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, October 11, 2016 – Page L2
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-- In this epistle, advance planning is the general idea. A bunch of programs you need to know about for the next two weeks. There's an explanation for that - keep reading. First, don't forget that the terrific and adorable Kim's Convenience (CBC, 9 p.m.) actually starts on Tuesday after being postponed from its original air date. Herewith, a list of five can't-miss (for the curious) programs of all types.  FULL STORY arrow
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CBC's Shoot the Messenger not grubby enough space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, October 10, 2016 – Page L2
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-- It starts with sexy stuff. Young woman on top of a guy in bed. ''You know we gotta stop this,'' he says. ''That's what you said the last time,'' she says with a smile, which is all she's wearing.  FULL STORY arrow
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HBO series offers up original, demented comedy about divorce space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, October 8, 2016 – Page R7
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-- In the annals of the popular culture's journeys into the matter of divorce, the work of the inimitable Tammy Wynette stands out: ''I love you both and this will be pure H-E double L for me/Oh, I wish that we could stop this D-I-V-O-R-C-E.''  FULL STORY arrow
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Who has the right to die with dignity? space
Road to Mercy is a powerful, philosophical film following patients and doctors through their struggles with physician-assisted death
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, October 6, 2016 – Page L2
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-- Let's get serious and put aside the comedy, drama and reality TV shenanigans. Let's talk about life and death.In June, the federal government's contentious assisteddying bill became law. It was a compromise bill, really. A government statement said the legislation ''strikes the right balance between personal autonomy for those seeking access to medically-assisted dying and protecting the vulnerable.''  FULL STORY arrow
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Why is the public subsidizing reality-TV drivel? space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, October 5, 2016 – Page L2
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-- Me, I have this theory - the Canadian TV racket is polluted by greed. Take The Bachelorette Canada, which airs on the Corus-owned W network.If you want to read the credits that arrive onscreen at the end of The Bachelorette Canada and The Bachelorette Canada After Show, you're setting yourself a hard task.  FULL STORY arrow
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Atlanta is the best show on TV you're not watching space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, October 4, 2016 – Page L2
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-- As I write this, Hillary Clinton has determined and declared that Donald Trump is ''unhinged.'' Apparently Trump stayed up all night and spent his time on Twitter making outrageous allegations about Alicia Machado, the 1996 Miss Universe winner whom Trump is accused of bullying because she gained some weight.  FULL STORY arrow
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CBC's big week starts with excellent Kim's Convenience space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, October 3, 2016 – Page L2
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-- It's a big week for CBC. New and returning shows galore. The Romeo Section returns on Wednesday, and the heavily hyped Shoot the Messenger arrives a week from today. Some big expectations.  FULL STORY arrow
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Complete Index of Today's Print Headlines
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