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GiveLife.ca

    
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PRINT EDITION
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Globe Columnists
Monday, October 23




  John Doyle
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Television



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A searing account of the battle for Mosul space
Extraordinary documentary follows four Iraqi soldiers in the long, bloody fight to regain the city from IS without losing themselves
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, October 17, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Consumed as we are by the local news and the latest about NAFTA or Trump, some conflicts fall off the radar. Few are talking now about Iraq and the retaking of areas once held by the Islamic State. It unfolds, it's over there, and best not to think about it is the gist.  FULL STORY arrow
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Rebooted Dynasty is camp, but less fabulous space
The blast-from-the-past soap revival is nutty and nastily cheap - and is bizarrely entertaining and wacko for 15 minutes
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, October 16, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Of all the possible shows to be revived and rebooted for the contemporary era, that old, overthe-top soap Dynasty seemed the least likely candidate. Oil tycoons, garish hair and ludicrous dresses, and Joan Collins, is all so 1980s and ridiculous.  FULL STORY arrow
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Netflix's Mindhunter: unnerving, brilliant TV space
If its first episodes - helmed by macabre master David Fincher - are anything to go by, this could be one of the series of the year
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, October 14, 2017 – Page R3
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-- You may have heard about Mindhunter, the new and highly anticipated Netflix crime drama. You may have heard that it's about cops trying to understand terrifying serial killers. In online promos and trailers you've seen you may have formed the impression, as you are meant to, that it's about appalling crimes.  FULL STORY arrow
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The Hollywood fable that enabled Weinstein space
Even as they confront the unnerving allegations against the movie magnate, many continue to cling to fairy tales about the business
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, October 12, 2017 – Page L2
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-- There are now so many unnerving allegations against and public stories about Harvey Weinstein that it's hard to figure out a context other than disgust.But here's one way of looking at the larger context - a problem with public perception of the allegations against Weinstein is that it fits into the public's imagination as a kind of perverse beauty-and-the-beast illusion.  FULL STORY arrow
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What to learn from Jerry Seinfeld's humour space
The funnyman's new special is the best kind of escapism because the comedy is, itself, an act of escaping morality and controversy
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, October 10, 2017 – Page L2
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-- The other day, Joe Biden, the former U.S. vice-president, issued a fierce and angry attack on Donald Trump. He said that the United States is on ''a very dark path'' and called on important people to take a stand.  FULL STORY arrow
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Forget TV, let's just watch the U.S. fall apart space
Now more than ever, Canadian television has very low ratings, taking second place to what emanates daily from the United States
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, October 9, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Yes, there is undoubtedly a connection between Netflix hiking its monthly fees and the company's commitment to spend $100-million a year on Canadian-made TV. If you are annoyed with the rate hike, your best bet is to take it up with Heritage Minister Melanie Joly. Apparently she's tight with Netflix.  FULL STORY arrow
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Beautiful, bittersweet tale of urban Canada space
A documentary on Montreal's Greek neighbourhood ruminates on the joys, pitfalls and sense of loss of a tight-knit community
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, October 7, 2017 – Page R7
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-- Urban Canada changes, rushing forward, all the time.That is how the fabric of it ages quickly and evolves. There is little thought for the past, especially the past of the working poor, those who lived in tiny homes and laboured in the traditional industries and trades.  FULL STORY arrow
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Escapism in a French frock opera space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, October 5, 2017 – Page L3
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-- What a time it's been. An alarming time of horror, strangeness and dread. Daily the bad news comes, drop by drop, of death and horror.Escapism is called for, and a perfect example of worthwhile escapism is on the horizon for this weekend. It's a frock opera with layers of intrigue about lies, betrayal, murder and more betrayal. It's a rich tale to bite into. Mostly, it's about fashion and frocks.  FULL STORY arrow
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The semiotics of Jagmeet Singh, the millennials' dreamboat space
New NDP Leader understands the power of images and the role of social media in a way few others do
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, October 4, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Jagmeet Singh is not very good on live TV. Yet.The newly and soundly elected Leader of the New Democratic Party looked a tad uncomfortable as the TV cameras focused on him and his family after his victory on Sunday. Just a teensy bit awkward. A confident man, he was, briefly, bashful. The thing about bashful is that a lot of people find it adorable.  FULL STORY arrow
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Where feel-good TV fails and flourishes space
Where Kevin (Probably) Saves the World turns a familiar premise into a refreshing hit, The Good Doctor struggles to revive viewers
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, October 2, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Let's talk about some of the new series arriving almost daily now. In particular, let's look at how familiar templates or conventional themes are handled. In one case, handled badly and, in the second case, with enough shrewdness to make the very ordinary very entertaining.  FULL STORY arrow
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The missing-child genre template: Two gripping takes space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, September 30, 2017 – Page R3
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-- The disappearance of a child.It is a haunting possibility, a shuddersome nightmare and the basis for numerous dramas. The emotional material and the tension are built in - the guilt of parents and others, the searing need of the viewer to know that the child is found and safe.  FULL STORY arrow
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Netflix deal is sweet for Netflix, not Canada space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Friday, September 29, 2017 – Page A11
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-- Last year, Netflix executives said they anticipated that the streaming service would increase its original programming lineup to more than 1,000 hours in 2017.That's a lot of TV content that costs an awful lot of money. It just got a helping hand from the Canadian taxpayer.  FULL STORY arrow
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Fahmy: Trapped in several circles of hell space
Filmmaker delivers an intimate profile of the Canadian journalist who spent 400 days in an Egyptian prison on terrorism charges
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, September 28, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Mohamed Fahmy is a man in a constant state of agitation. He's either brooding or on the move, finding it hard to be serene. You, too, would be in such a state if you had spent more than 400 days in an Egyptian prison and had your chance of freedom snatched away more than once.  FULL STORY arrow
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Let Mercer's exit end our cowardly comedy space
Bombshell announcement provides an opportunity for the type of savage indignation and biting humour that Canada needs now
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, September 27, 2017 – Page L2
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-- On Monday morning, Rick Mercer released an online video. He was back in the alley where he does his rants and he was promoting the new and 15th season of Rick Mercer Report (Tuesdays, CBC, 8 p.m.). Then he dropped a bombshell - it will be the show's last season. He reminded viewers of the time his show airs on CBC, including, per CBC tradition, the time in Newfoundland and Labrador. ''A place,'' the St. John's native concluded, ''Where I'll be spending a lot more time in the future.''  FULL STORY arrow
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Against all odds, Jimmy Kimmel is now essential viewing space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, September 26, 2017 – Page L1
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-- No one would have picked Jimmy Kimmel to be the most dangerous, angry comedian in the United States. But he's become precisely that.Night after night, Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC, weekdays at 11:35 p.m.) has become essential, galvanizing viewing. Not because of his interviews with actors or his surreally funny mockery of The Bachelor and Bachelorette franchises, but because he's in a personal war with a group of American politicians over health care. He's fiercely, authentically angry and he won't give an inch.  FULL STORY arrow
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An almost brilliant adaptation space
The CBC's six-part Alias Grace series is an ambitious but flawed drama about a fearsome female soul
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, September 25, 2017 – Page L2
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-- It is incumbent on anyone writing about the CBC adaptation of Alias Grace to mention the Hulu adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale. Not because the two productions are, necessarily, companion pieces adapted from the same author, but because the viewer is going to be thinking about the latter while watching the former. It isn't long before the viewer is disabused.  FULL STORY arrow
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Star Trek or Earth? Choose Earth first space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, September 23, 2017 – Page R3
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-- The alleged big event this weekend is Star Trek making a television comeback. It's so big I can't even think about it. Also, it's not available for review.  FULL STORY arrow
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Bad Blood is bloody good space
Mini-series about the Montreal Mafia moves along with a propulsive force
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, September 21, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Like most Mafia/crime family dramas, Bad Blood is about more than crime, corruption and mayhem. It's about peace and orderly government and it's about family dynamics. Little wonder that in the movie You've Got Mail, the Tom Hanks character suggests the answers to all life's questions can be found in The Godfather. And in this case, it is based on a true story.  FULL STORY arrow
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American Vandal: Rude satire is ridiculous fun space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, September 19, 2017 – Page L2
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-- First, there's the crime. Then a snapshot of the victim. Next, a short bit about the alleged perpetrator. And then, inevitably, the meat of the matter - the evidence against the suspect. Finally, there's the carefully accumulated new evidence - found by the filmmaker - that might exonerate the suspect.  FULL STORY arrow
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FALL TV: NEW COMFORTS AND OLD PLEASURES space
From a gripping Vietnam War documentary to Star Trek, the season's small-screen lineup is ready to give viewers an ideal dose of escapism, John Doyle writes, joined by strong returning summer shows of last year and a provocative slew of new material
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, September 16, 2017 – Page R1
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-- The concept of ''new fall TV'' is not what it used to be.And that's a good thing.There's fun to be had in the next quarter, but it's not the only period that matters. Long promised by networks beleaguered by the boilerplate plan of fall, midseason and summer TV schedules, the shift to allyear TV is emphatically here, being forced upon networks by streaming services and, well, technology that allows viewers to access TV series at any old time.  FULL STORY arrow
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Emmys are a battle between network, cable and Netflix space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, September 14, 2017 – Page L2
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-- The number of categories and awards associated with the Emmy Awards (Sunday, CBS and CTV, 8 p.m.) can seem bewildering. But here's an interesting figure: 15 - the number of Oscar winners nominated for Emmys this year. That tells you that prestige television is where the action is.  FULL STORY arrow
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Why The Deuce is about porn, capitalism and today's politics space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, September 13, 2017 – Page L2
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-- David Simon thinks Hillary Clinton was absolutely on point to emphasize that she was ''creeped out'' by Donald Trump looming behind her and stalking her every move during the second presidential debate last year.  FULL STORY arrow
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TIFF's TV program is a mixed bag of goods space
The festival's offerings this year are all good TV, but don't necessarily represent the pinnacle of quality or height of cultural relevance
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, September 11, 2017 – Page L2
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-- TIFF this, TIFF that. It's all TIFF in this neck of the woods, for the first few days of the film festival anyway. It seems so all-consuming in the media that it's inevitable TIFF will try to consume television too.  FULL STORY arrow
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The dangerous allure of disaster porn on TV space
Dramatic coverage of storms may be mesmerizing, but endless reporting of the destruction can be numbing
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, September 9, 2017 – Page A12
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-- Even since Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas and flooded Houston, all-news TV has been offering non-stop natural-disaster coverage. It's seductive, for both the viewer and the channels. On CNN and other outlets, we saw reporters and camera crews floating around on boats to individually rescue the elderly, the sick and the simply stranded.  FULL STORY arrow
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Outlander, the most brutally beautiful show on TV, is back space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, September 9, 2017 – Page R3
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-- There is nothing romantic or ethereal about the opening scenes of the third season of Outlander (Sunday, W Network, 9 p.m.).The series, which is probably the biggest drama in the world after Game of Thrones, has always defied convention and description. It is a love story, a historical drama, a feminist manifesto, a time-travel fantasy and, mostly, a fierce celebration of the sturdiness of true love and true love's transforming power.  FULL STORY arrow
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The Deuce: A portrait of lives in the grime space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, September 7, 2017 – Page L2
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-- It's the slow-burning story and the depth of the characters that matter in The Deuce. It's set in a formidably grimy world - New York in 1971, and among the sex workers, the pimps, the drug addicts, the bartenders and waitresses, the desperate and doomed. It is outstanding television drama and for all the surface raunch it contains, it is a work of tremulous intimacy.  FULL STORY arrow
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AHS's brilliant, unhinged reaction to Trump space
No one on either side of the divide gets out unscathed as Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk concoct a twisted take on the new America
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, September 5, 2017 – Page L2
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-- It is a testament to the creative power and ambitions of television drama these days that the new fall season kicks off early with a wildly imaginative horrorpolitical-satire series that is emphatically about the Trump era.  FULL STORY arrow
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Conventional TV is doing just fine space
Far from being the enemy, Internet streaming turned out to be the kick that networks needed to thrive
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, September 4, 2017 – Page L2
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-- It's Labour Day, so let's labour in the numbers game.You know how on Sundays, your local TV news always tells you about ''the weekend box office?'' There is some breathless report that a new movie grosses this much money while some other movie only brought in that much money.  FULL STORY arrow
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Narcos continues its brilliant epic about the drug trade space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, September 2, 2017 – Page R1
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-- The point of Narcos was never Pablo Escobar. For its first two seasons the series rooted itself firmly in the rise and fall of Escobar, the most notorious of maniacal drug kingpins, and a performance by Wagner Moura as Escobar was as emphatic as it gets.  FULL STORY arrow
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Disjointed's high humour merely burns out space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, August 31, 2017 – Page L1
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-- Exactly why Chuck Lorre would do a network-style sitcom for Netflix is a mystery.The man is the default king of conventional TV comedy. As producer and writer, he's had 12 seasons of Two and a Half Men, 10 seasons of The Big Bang Theory, several years of Mike and Molly and he's also got the coming Young Sheldon, the Big Bang spinoff.  FULL STORY arrow
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Money, not morals, is what matters in professional sports space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, August 30, 2017 – Page L1
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-- It is mildly astonishing that the CFL persuaded the Hamilton Tiger-Cats not to hire Art Briles.Mildly astonishing because professional sports is a strange zone, an ethics-free zone and a place where morals are missing in the action. Money matters. Winning matters. Nothing else matters.  FULL STORY arrow
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Anyone for Thatcher-era nostalgia? space
The comedy White Gold is a strange and often savage show, with eighties pop music as much a presence as its constant swearing
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, August 28, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Eighties nostalgia is arbitrary and peculiar. It must mystify millennials.A particularly peculiar emanation has just arrived here via the BBC and Netflix. Pining for the days of Thatcher's Britain and all the angst of that period?  FULL STORY arrow
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Red carded space
David Conn's investigation into corruption in soccer is a colourful, cautionary tale
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, August 26, 2017 – Page R11
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-- The Fall of the House of FIFA By David Conn Yellow Jersey Press, 320 pages, $35.99''The defendants fostered a culture of corruption and greed ... undisclosed and illegal payments, kickbacks and bribes became a way of doing business at FIFA.'' Those are the words of James Comey, former director of the FBI. The man eventually fired by U.S. President Donald Trump had, in his career, succinctly nailed the problem at the governing body of world soccer. But Comey only makes a fleeting appearance in this book. The story is truly one of vast international intrigue.  FULL STORY arrow
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Why do athletes cheat? Netflix's Icarus opens your eyes space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, August 26, 2017 – Page R1
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-- Remember the 2016 Rio Olympics? Sure you do if you think about it - Canada's large medal accumulation and the pleasure taken in that.But you may have forgotten that, before those Summer Olympics, there was considerable controversy about allowing Russian athletes to compete.  FULL STORY arrow
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Charting a new course for Ireland space
Leo Varadkar is a young, progressive Prime Minister who is pursuing conservative policies. For all his contradictions, he might well be the archetypal leader of the near future, John Doyle writes
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By JOHN DOYLE
Friday, August 25, 2017 – Page A1
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-- The Prime Minister of Ireland does not have an opinion on how many rounds Conor McGregor will last against Floyd Mayweather in Saturday's big fight in Vegas.I canvass his opinion, as one has to, in the circumstances. It is Ireland's UFC champ in his first professional boxing match against the top undefeated boxer.  FULL STORY arrow
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The Great British Bake Off is not as escapist as it seems space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, August 23, 2017 – Page L1
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-- There is a school of thought which holds that The Great British Bake Off is responsible for Britain voting by a slim majority to exit the European Union. And there is a corresponding view - not exactly a school of thought, but an attitude - that what later happened to the show is a lesson in how naive the pro-Brexit forces have always been.  FULL STORY arrow
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The Sinner is a superb new thriller space
Gorgeously made series is a gripping tale that is less about generating fear than it is about apprehension
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, August 21, 2017 – Page L2
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-- The first thing to remember about The Sinner (Monday, Showcase, 10 p.m.) is that although it is from a USA cable channel, it is of German origin.That is, this fabulously florid murder-mystery is based on a bestselling novel by German writer Petra Hammesfahr. It is reset in the United States with Jessica Biel playing the lead role, but there is a compressed exploration of abnormal psychology and perversion, which is German in tone. That means it is a seriousminded and a gripping tale, less about generating fear than it is about apprehension.  FULL STORY arrow
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This is no time for a vacation from the news space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, August 19, 2017 – Page A9
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-- On Friday morning, the news broke that Steve Bannon had been fired as White House chief strategist and, for the umpteenth Friday this year, a shake-up in Washington dominated the news.  FULL STORY arrow
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Netflix's grown-up dramedy about autism space
Skip the streaming service's Marvel Comics mash-up - there's a genuine kind of heroism at the heart of poignant, charming Atypical
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, August 19, 2017 – Page R2
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-- Another week, another launch of a new Netflix series. This weekend, it's the superheroposse show The Defenders, a Marvel Comics thing with lame quips and ludicrously staged posterior kicking of no-goodniks.  FULL STORY arrow
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The National's anchor-management problem space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, August 1, 2017 – Page L1
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-- Oh, just quit telling me that nobody cares who anchors the national news on TV. Just quit it. Diligent journalistic labour - reading the mail and listening to people who stop me on the street - tells me you are wrong.  FULL STORY arrow
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Soccer, sex, action and a very fine drama space
21 Thunder is a sleek show about the game, the guys, the women who must nourish or provoke them and the pressure to succeed
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, July 31, 2017 – Page L2
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-- TV dramas about sports are hard. For every Friday Night Lights, there are a bunch of failures. The material can seem invitingly rich in possibility - success and failure achieved by strength, or by tiny margins. Ego and bad attitude. Heroes exposed as weak, coaches illuminated as petty tyrants or motivational geniuses.  FULL STORY arrow
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A Canadian classic to savour on Netflix space
Intelligence is a funny, substantial series about organized crime and the cops who watch the criminals
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, July 29, 2017 – Page R2
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-- Your search for a good drama to binge on Netflix is ongoing? Understood. But here's vital information - a drama, not new but exemplary, just landed on the streaming service. It's an absolute classic Canadian series, up there with the best from anywhere.  FULL STORY arrow
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In defence of the proposed Confederate and alternative history space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, July 27, 2017 – Page L1
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-- Countries and societies that feel broken or damaged lap up dystopian fiction and alternative-history narratives. That's a fact.George Orwell's 1984 is again selling well in the United States. The adaptation of Margaret Atwoods's The Handmaid's Tale is, for many, the cultural event of the year.  FULL STORY arrow
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Netflix's Ozark is a fine summer thriller, but fatally empty space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, July 26, 2017 – Page L1
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-- First, the good news - Ozark (new and now streaming on Netflix) is an entertaining, energetic thriller and very bingeworthy. It's all twists and turns, high tension and is anchored in the fraught situation of a seemingly bland Chicago financial adviser who has broken bad - he's laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel.  FULL STORY arrow
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Your choice - bad horror or great horror on a small scale space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, July 24, 2017 – Page L1
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-- There's a new supernatural/ horror series starting on Monday and starring a fine Canadian actor. But it's so ridiculously bad it's barely worth telling you about. And then there's an excellent sort-of horror series starting later this week that you definitely need to know about. Stick with me here.  FULL STORY arrow
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The subversive pleasures of HBO's Insecure space
The show's second season is odd and bittersweet and outlandish and melancholy - and incredibly striking and funny
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, July 22, 2017 – Page R6
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-- When the Emmy nominations were announced recently, there was some consternation that HBO's Insecure and its star and creator, Issa Rae, were ignored.Insecure (returning for Season 2 on Sunday, 10:30 p.m.) earned some rave reviews when it debuted last year, and some critics and fans expected it to appear in the best-comedy-series category, and Rae to be a shoo-in for best comedy actress. Emmy recognition wasn't there. A capsule summary would say the show is a portrait of a young black woman attempting to manoeuvre work, friends, lovers and day-to-day life in Los Angeles.  FULL STORY arrow
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The Kids in the Hall debuts space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Friday, July 21, 2017 – Page A2
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-- July 21, 1989 Whether 1989 or today, a Canadian comedy troupe launching a show on HBO is a very big deal. Out of nowhere, it seemed - unless a person was deeply into the Toronto fringe comedy scene - five Canadian guys launched their brand of sharp surrealist sketch comedy onto a U.S. premium cable channel. The Kids in the Hall, featuring Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson, who all wrote and performed, would land on CBC later that year. The 1990s were their era, when the TV landscape was smaller and recurring characters often stole the show, especially McKinney as Chicken Lady and Cabbage Head played by McCulloch.  FULL STORY arrow
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Now a huge obsession: Who will anchor The National? space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, July 20, 2017 – Page L1
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-- Andrew Chang was only a few minutes into anchoring The National on CBC the other evening when readers were onto me with opinions: ''He seems very nice.'' And, ''He seems agitated.''  FULL STORY arrow
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Netflix's To the Bone is simply good fiction about anorexia space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, July 19, 2017 – Page L1
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-- The Netflix drama To the Bone has taken a hammering since it started streaming last week. In fact, it was taking a beating as soon as a trailer was released some time back.  FULL STORY arrow
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The endless hilarity of Trump's new TV defender space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, July 18, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Some people get a lot of their information from newspapers, whether they read it in print or online. Others get most of their information from TV. For such people, newspaper coverage doesn't really resonate until it's talked about on TV.  FULL STORY arrow
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The Emmys: You can't be serious space
Once again, outrage and bemusement over who was nominated - and, more so, who wasn't
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, July 17, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Outrage is the first reaction to this year's Emmy Award nominations. That is, industry outrage, and mine.Look at the list of the overlooked - The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Insecure, The Good Fight, The Big Bang Theory, Mr. Robot, The Leftovers and The Young Pope. Now, pick out what seems odd. Nobody can be surprised that Jimmy Fallon failed to get recognized. In a year of intense political comedy, Fallon largely stayed away from it. But HBO's Insecure, The Leftovers and The Young Pope, along with CBS's The Good Fight clearly belong in the category of excellence.  FULL STORY arrow
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A STARK CONTRAST space
As the penultimate season of HBO's Game of Thrones begins, coverage has drawn more comparisons than ever between Westeros and Washington, John Doyle writes. But the series reveals less about what's going on in the White House and more about the universal allure of brutal power
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, July 15, 2017 – Page R1
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-- Daily, for weeks now, the stars of Game of Thrones have been appearing on late-night chat shows and giving interviews to select newspapers and magazines. There have been pop-up Game of Thrones theme bars and there's a range of GoT wines being launched.  FULL STORY arrow
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What to avoid - Friends from College space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, July 13, 2017 – Page L1
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-- There's a moment in the middle of the first episode of Friends from College (streaming on Netflix starting Friday) when a character is having trouble with a car while arriving at a beautiful house that's all glass and steel.  FULL STORY arrow
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Salvation is summer's dumb and superfun doomsday drama space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, July 12, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Run for your lives! The sky is falling; the world and all its people and critters will soon be extinct! But first, check out the new doomsday sci-fi summer drama starting on Wednesday. It's loads of fun. Loads! Space stuff, car chases, conspiracy plots, tense Pentagon meetings and hankypanky.  FULL STORY arrow
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The erratic comedy of women on the verge of breakdown space
CBC's Terrific Women and Baroness von Sketch Show are wildly uneven and undisciplined - but both are fresh, funny and fearless
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, July 11, 2017 – Page L2
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-- If you check out Terrific Women, a new online-only comedy series from CBC, brace yourselves.There's a pregnant woman with a drink in her hand and smoking a cigarette. But, chill, girlfriends.  FULL STORY arrow
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Who will anchor CBC's The National? space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, July 10, 2017 – Page L1
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-- Sometimes a person - me, in this case - figures out what's going on and what obsesses people just by reading the mail.In recent weeks, I've been getting, without asking, reader views on who should replace Pastor Mansbridge on CBC's The National. People take the matter very seriously. They write detailed critiques of the potential candidates, outlining strengths and weaknesses. It's an obsession.  FULL STORY arrow
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A gritty trip into a raucous music racket space
The Defiant Ones is an eye-opening look into the rise and trials of two recording moguls and the industry they helped shape
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, July 8, 2017 – Page R2
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-- Perhaps you're an admirer of Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run album and you'd enjoy some intimate details about the recording sessions and what happened in the studio. Or perhaps you remember being astonished by the announcement that Apple was acquiring this company, Beats, for $3-billion (U.S.) and you're still wondering what that was all about.  FULL STORY arrow
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What really unites the United States - jokes about airports and fast food space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, July 6, 2017 – Page L1
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-- There is probably no meaning to the fact that Netflix made the 4th of July the debut date for its series The Standups.It's a set of recently taped half-hour comedy sets from six up-and-coming comics.  FULL STORY arrow
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Trump's sexist insults are about the culture, not just the man space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, July 5, 2017 – Page L1
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-- In the matter of the President of the United States hurling misogynistic abuse at Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC, the righteous indignation is misplaced.There is no end to the man's vileness and he is incapable of reform. It is far better to see the incident as an illumination of a mind and a culture, and to recognize that not everyone thinks of the man's actions as vile.  FULL STORY arrow
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A good and glossy Netflix near-miss thriller space
Gypsy is a rambly, psychological slow, slow burn that, while perhaps four parts too long, has pleasures for the patient viewer
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, July 3, 2017 – Page L2
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-- The other day, from this pulpit, I was pontificating about Netflix. The gist was that Glow, recently arrived on the service, is good, but the quality of Netflix original productions is so wobbly, it can be hard to discern the point of some content.  FULL STORY arrow
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Canada 150 on TV: Party on, or not space
The country's major broadcasters have lined up enough Canadiana to make you laugh and cry, for very different reasons
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, July 1, 2017 – Page R9
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-- Canada is a place with countless histories. The phrase ''Canadian history'' should probably be banned for a while because really it's just an invitation to an argument. And the arguments ensue because the truth is that Canada is an idea with many histories.  FULL STORY arrow
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Peter Mansbridge deserves great respect - maybe not reverence space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, June 29, 2017 – Page L2
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-- There is no shortage of drama in the media racket at the moment. In this neck of the woods, the attention-getting drama is the departure of Peter Mansbridge from CBC's The National. He will make his final appearance as a CBC anchor on Saturday, Canada Day, when he concludes CBC's coverage of the 150th birthday celebrations in Ottawa.  FULL STORY arrow
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The glow is off Netflix, but GLOW is a great show space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, June 28, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Netflix is now a mess. The streaming service currently has more than 100 million worldwide subscribers and has quadrupled the amount of original programming it creates and offers to subscribers. It's too much. It has finally started cancelling shows. But it keeps renewing shows that are very, very bad. It's starting to resemble old-school TV and that's why the mess looks familiar.  FULL STORY arrow
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A tiny park to mark what defines us space
Taking a trip through time, John Doyle explores a Toronto project honouring Dr. George Robert Grasett, who disregarded his own safety and died helping typhus- and cholera-afflicted Irish immigrants who landed in the city
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, June 19, 2017 – Page A8
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-- Imagine if an enormous surge of people, amounting to more than the city's population, many infected with the Ebola virus, arrived in Toronto today. It would be a colossal, harrowing crisis. Imagine that and hope, as human nature compels us to hope, that we would behave decently and take care of each other.  FULL STORY arrow
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Megyn Kelly and Alex Jones: The next level of anti-truth space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, June 14, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Even in the annals of the appalling right-wing news antics that characterize Fox News, Megyn Kelly just came up with a doozy. Thing is, she's not on Fox News any more. She's on the mainstream NBC channel.  FULL STORY arrow
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The cold rancour of a very angry Russian space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, June 12, 2017 – Page L2
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-- It was a match made in heaven. Oliver Stone, once a fine film director and now a kind of benign crackpot student of macho posturing in politics. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, macho as all get-out and not giving a rodent's posterior what anyone outside of Russia thinks of him.  FULL STORY arrow
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Orphan Black tries to end smartly space
The Canadian-made sci-fi series promised so much, set the bar high and then failed to deliver as it became a crock of indulgences
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, June 10, 2017 – Page R3
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-- The final season of the Canadian-made science-fiction series that made the world in awe of Tatiana Maslany starts by making sense. This is good.Somewhere along the way, the only thing that made sense was awe of Maslany in all her multiple roles.  FULL STORY arrow
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COMEY'S RIVETING TESTIMONY space
Thursday pitted a Boy Scout against a vicious reality-TV champ who knows his medium better than anyone
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By JOHN DOYLE
Friday, June 9, 2017 – Page A9
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-- It was promoted by CNN as a ''blockbuster Capitol Hill hearing.'' The same network suggested that it would bring all-news TV's highest ratings since election night. Bars opened early in the West to accommodate TV viewers who might want to watch sustained by booze. The main U.S. networks covered it live, start to end, not just the all-news channels.  FULL STORY arrow
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How Corden revolutionized late-night TV space
Talk-show host, who tapes his program in London this week, has carved his own niche in an often acerbic, politically charged genre
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, June 6, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Many showbiz careers have a strange, twisted arc. Such is the way with James Corden.The Late Late Show with James Corden (CBS, CTV, Monday to Thursday, 12:35 a.m.) is taped and broadcast from London this week, starting with Tuesday's show. (A promised highlight is a Carpool Karaoke session with Ed Sheeran, who is as big as it gets these days.) It's a homecoming for Corden, of course. He's a very English performer. His late-night show is a big hit in Britain and, unlike many of his U.S. competitors, it is easily available on TV there.  FULL STORY arrow
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One Love Manchester: a powerful, defiant act of joy space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, June 5, 2017 – Page A9
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-- Respect. Respect is due to the people of Manchester in England and to Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Coldplay, Usher, Pharrell Williams, Little Mix, Robbie Williams, The Black Eyed Peas, Niall Horan and all the popmusic stars that performed at the televised One Love Manchester concert on Sunday. Mostly, respect is due to Ariana Grande.  FULL STORY arrow
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Capturing the craziness of daytime TV space
Whether you enjoy daytime talk shows, Bravo's new The View-like satiric drama is an entertaining television send-up
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, June 5, 2017 – Page L3
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-- One recent lunchtime I went on TV for a few minutes.This isn't a regular occurrence.Television appearances are a cumbersome, time-consuming experience if you're a print journalist. But it can be an educational experience.  FULL STORY arrow
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A dark drama about the business of laughter space
The first episode of I'm Dying Up Here, a new series produced by Jim Carrey set in the golden age of comedy, is a tough act to follow
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, June 3, 2017 – Page R3
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-- Before there was a 500-channel universe, before the Internet and before Netflix, there was a culture-shaping little world anchored in the comedy clubs of Los Angeles.The year was 1973. An odd but critical moment in pop culture had just happened - The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson had moved from New York to L.A. and in the usual way of American culture, things drifted westward. In the mid-seventies in L.A., there existed what amounted to a golden age of standup comedy. In the clubs on the Sunset Strip you'd find George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, David Letterman, Albert Brooks, Jay Leno, Andy Kaufman, Robin Williams and others.  FULL STORY arrow
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Sympathy for Spicer is misplaced space
This isn't a cable drama, it's real life, and the media's recent compassion for Trump's press secretary is delusional
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, June 1, 2017 – Page L2
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TELEVISION -- At 2:10 p.m. on Tuesday, Sean Spicer bustled into the White House press-briefing room wearing a grey suit and a blue tie and began another of what is now among the most-watched and studied one-man dramas in U.S. history. About 40 minutes later, he left in a huff. That's why the drama has huge TV ratings.  FULL STORY arrow
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Scheer is naturally media savvy, but has no message space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, May 31, 2017 – Page L2
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-- You can probably see Andrew Scheer's grin from outer space. It's that lustrous.It works a charm, that grin. Certainly, on the evidence of the few hours after his shock victory at the Conservative leadership convention on Saturday, Scheer can charm and seduce big-shot TV anchors and reporters. He grins, goes all ''aw, shucks'' and stays positive. That's him on TV, but can he charm all the viewers and voters, too? That's a far more gnarly task.  FULL STORY arrow
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Does the CBC define Canadian culture? space
The broadcaster is obviously proud of its role in developing and promoting national content, but no one entity can 'define' a culture
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, May 29, 2017 – Page L2
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-- The shindig to announce a new season of CBC stuff is always a bit fraught. A person attending gets the feeling that the CBC does these events reluctantly. The people in charge would prefer if they were left alone to get on with producing CBC stuff, as though the CBC has a severe allergy to scrutiny.  FULL STORY arrow
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Shocking dog doc has politicians shaken up space
One of this week's highlights, focused on commercial sled-dog operations, has made a lot of people very angry. You should watch it
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, May 27, 2017 – Page R4
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-- Two challenging documentaries are the highlight this weekend. That is, they challenge accepted views. One is about animals and the other is about food. Both are a bit controversial and both are bound to enrage some viewers.  FULL STORY arrow
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Why are women disappearing from TV? space
The new season of mainstream television includes a long list of shows about white, middle-aged guys facing some sort of challenge
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, May 25, 2017 – Page L2
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-- The third season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is now streaming on Netflix. At this point, the series is a bit wobbly and repetitive, but it has its moments.Created by Tina Fey and 30 Rock writer Robert Carlock, the comedy is dopey and daft but remains focused, mostly, on heroine Kimmy (Ellie Kemper). She spent years trapped in a doomsday cult and once freed is largely clueless about contemporary life. What the show amounts to is her education in existence as a modern young woman - the pleasures and pitfalls. This means plenty of satire aimed at everything in this digital age.  FULL STORY arrow
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New Twin Peaks is a lavishly erotic return to original madness space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, May 24, 2017 – Page L2
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-- It's not for everyone, this Twin Peaks. It never was. It's too, too hallucinatory, disturbing and flawed. It always was.More than a quarter-century ago, David Lynch, auteur film director and established, lovable oddball, made a TV series for ABC: A demented, gorgeouslooking murder-mystery series, in which earnest, eccentric FBI special agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) investigated the murder of teenager Laura Palmer in the freakishly far-out, woodsy hamlet of Twin Peaks.  FULL STORY arrow
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The main reason for all the TV revivals - public appetite space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, May 23, 2017 – Page L1
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-- Recently, I watched an extended trailer for the rebooted version of Dynasty, which is coming this fall to The CW. Enjoyed it too. I was thinking that personally and professionally, I'd watch that. It's camp, outrageous and it seems there's a sharp satirical edge to its treatment of two Trump-like families.  FULL STORY arrow
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Wizard of Lies presents a chilling portrait of a monstrous Madoff space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, May 20, 2017 – Page R1
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-- The first thing we see in The Wizard of Lies is razor wire.Cold, dangerous, sinister razor wire. It's a view of a prison wall.The production isn't, mind you, about prison at all.  FULL STORY arrow
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The Keepers - Netflix's new true-crime series is an unsettling stunner space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, May 18, 2017 – Page L1
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-- It was 1969. The movie Easy Rider was in theatres and much talked about. It offered a counterculture perspective and it shocked and disturbed some people, especially people living traditional lives in traditional ways.  FULL STORY arrow
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Stuck in the past and hopelessly bland - that's us space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, May 17, 2017 – Page L2
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TELEVISION -- Well, would you look at us - 150 years old and looking spritely. Stuck in the past a bit, mind you. Still stuck in an argument with the U.S. about softwood lumber. The literary crowd and people who write columns of thunderous denunciations for newspapers are still arguing about cultural appropriation.  FULL STORY arrow
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Essential insight into Trump's triumph space
Get Me Roger Stone looks at the brash fixer who worked for Nixon and the Bushes, lobbied for dictators and got the President elected
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, May 16, 2017 – Page L2
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-- At the end of another extraordinary, shambolic week for the Trump administration, along comes a sizzling insight into all that cockeyed bedlam.Get Me Roger Stone (streaming on Netflix from Friday, May 12) arrives with exquisite timing. At any time it would be a political junkie's delight, a cornucopia of dope on campaigns and contradictions and inside information about dirty tricks in American politics. Right now, it is simply a mind-boggling dissection of an iconic political operative, a man who essentially created Donald Trump as a politician and had huge influence on his campaign.  FULL STORY arrow
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How Trump's TV obsession explains it all space
U.S. President has never stopped seeing himself as a reality-TV star, and his supporters are not so much voters as they are viewers
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, May 15, 2017 – Page L2
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-- We take you now to the White House where Donald Trump is talking to reporters from Time magazine. He's talking about his favourite subject: television.He's got something to say about Stephen Colbert, CNN's Chris Cuomo, whom he said looks like a ''chained lunatic,'' and CNN's Don Lemon, whom he says is ''perhaps the dumbest person in broadcasting.''  FULL STORY arrow
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Master of None stays true to form space
Ansari's show is funny, original and genre-defying, and the opening of its second season remains reliably honest and honourable
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, May 13, 2017 – Page R4
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-- The first episode of the second season of Aziz Ansari's Master of None (streaming on Netflix) is in black and white and set in Italy. Central character Dev Shah (Ansari) is living in Modena, learning to make pasta. Described plainly, it all sounds precious, this episode.  FULL STORY arrow
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The Comey firing on TV - fear, pity and such fun space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Friday, May 12, 2017 – Page L5
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-- Well, hello again, Kellyanne Conway! Jeeze Louise, we missed you.Tuesday night, the White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway turned up on CNN for an interview with Anderson Cooper, and it was mind-bogglingly bizarre. Just like old times. Conway, absent from TV for months and missed as much as she was mocked for her Pravda-like propagandizing for Donald Trump, kept insisting that President Trump fired FBI director James Comey on the sound advice of deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein. That's all.  FULL STORY arrow
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Norm Macdonald special is strange and fabulously funny space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, May 11, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Early in Norm Macdonald's new stand-up special, he talks about how he doesn't do well chit-chatting at parties. ''You know the way people have opinions,'' he says. ''Well, I got none.''  FULL STORY arrow
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There's a target on Colbert's back and it's not going away space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, May 10, 2017 – Page L1
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-- On Tuesday's The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (weeknights, CBS, Global, 11:35 p.m.)there's a planned Daily Show reunion, as Colbert is joined by Jon Stewart, Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Ed Helms and Rob Corddry.  FULL STORY arrow
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Casting JonBenét widens the lens space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, May 8, 2017 – Page L1
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-- The whole world knows the facts of the case: On Dec 26, 1996, the body of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was found bludgeoned in the basement of her family's home in Boulder, Colo.  FULL STORY arrow
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A way of life space
Debating the merits of the Beautiful Game
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, May 6, 2017 – Page R20
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-- Home and Away: Writing the Beautiful Game By Karl Ove Knausgaard and Fredrik Ekelund, translated by Don Bartlett and Sean Kinsella Knopf Canada, 412 pages, $29.95Here's the thing about soccer writing: Nick Hornby ruined everything. Hornby's Fever Pitch, first published in 1992, became genre-defining. His charming, lyrical style and self-deprecating defence of sports fandom came to determine what publishers wanted. They got it, too, and along came a stream of first-rate books about the culture of soccer, its allure and social meaning.  FULL STORY arrow
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Laurie's very good as another flawed doctor space
The actor famous for his role in House returns to television in Hulu's Chance, this time mixing noir mystery with the medicine
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, May 6, 2017 – Page R4
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-- Hugh Laurie is back. After eight seasons carrying the hit network drama House, Laurie did little of great consequence. Understandably. He did do a brief, exquisite turn on Veep for a bunch of episodes, which only reminded viewers how formidably compelling he is as a reprobate.  FULL STORY arrow
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Harlots is vigorously bawdy from the female perspective space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, May 4, 2017 – Page L7
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-- First off, if you're a Downton Abbey fan, note that the subject of today's epistle features the actress most famous for playing Lady Sybil.You'll remember Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) as the youngest child of the Crawley family. A rebel and politically conscious woman, she threw away her aristocratic heritage for love, to marry the family chauffeur Tom Branson. Well, in the production under discussion today, there are aristocrats aplenty but little love.  FULL STORY arrow
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Fuss over 13 Reasons Why is absurd. We're not primitives space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, May 3, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Me, I wonder how many parents bothered to read 13 Reasons Why when it just existed as a novel. Written by Jay Asher, it was published 10 years ago, was a No. 1 young-adult bestseller in the United States and has been translated and published in 34 countries. Many, many millions of copies sold.  FULL STORY arrow
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Bad news about Great News - it sucks space
Series set in a fictional television newsroom is bizarrely unpredictable, swinging wildly from satire to schmaltz
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, May 2, 2017 – Page L2
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-- Just recently I was watching the Toronto channel CP24 do an item about the constitutional referendum in Turkey and I realized that the beleaguered news anchor did not know how to pronounce ''Erdogan,'' the name of the Turkish President. It was painful to listen to her hesitant, multiple mispronunciations.  FULL STORY arrow
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Anjelica Scannura and all-fitness TV: There oughta be a law space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Monday, May 1, 2017 – Page L1
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-- This job I do here, keeping all of you happy and informed, is a sedentary one. There's no getting around that. Sit and watch TV. Sit and type stuff on a computer. That's the gist.  FULL STORY arrow
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AMERICAN HORROR STORY space
The new adaptation of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is a cautionary prophecy on fear and fascism. But, writes John Doyle, it is foremost a triumph of television storytelling
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, April 29, 2017 – Page R1
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-- T here are cranks everywhere.One of the few sniffy, snippety reviews of The Handmaid's Tale, which began streaming on Hulu in the United States recently, appeared in the Wall Street Journal. The reviewer seemed to take issue with the 10-part series departing, in scope, from Margaret Atwood's original dystopian novel. The hell with that.  FULL STORY arrow
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We Are Canada is just bafflingly bad TV space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, April 27, 2017 – Page L2
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-- On Tuesday, this newspaper reported that Heritage Minister Melanie Joly changed her mind about funding a Canada 150 TV series for the CBC called We Are Canada.The report said public servants urged Joly to reverse a previous rejection and emphasized that the series is ''important'' to the CBC and that the CBC is a ''major media partner'' for the government's 150th-anniversary celebrations. We Are Canada duly received $500,000 from the Canada 150 Fund.  FULL STORY arrow
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Dear White People isn't preachy - it's pretty sharp satire space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, April 26, 2017 – Page L2
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-- It is a stark truism that a good portion of the world outside the U.S. remains puzzled by the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.  FULL STORY arrow
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Genuinely good drama about that rascal genius Einstein space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, April 25, 2017 – Page L1
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-- Albert Einstein was a rogue and roue, a man open to a life of sensual pleasure.When we first meet him in Genius (starts Tuesday, National Geographic Channel at 9 p.m.) he is, shall we say, shtupping his much younger assistant Betty with gusto in an empty classroom in Berlin. It's the 1920s and Einstein is middle-aged and a very famous Nobel laureate. The most famous scientist on Earth.  FULL STORY arrow
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Still good, Veep is now less outlandish than real U.S. politics space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, April 22, 2017 – Page R1
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-- On Sunday's new episode of Veep (HBO Canada, 10:30 p.m.), former U.S. president Selina Meyer says to her daughter, ''I want you to tell your whore of a father that I fired the art skank'' The context isn't complicated.  FULL STORY arrow
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