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GiveLife.ca

    
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PRINT EDITION
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Globe Columnists
Sunday, May 28




  John Doyle
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Television



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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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O'Reilly toppled by his own ego space
The biggest right-wing voice in the U.S. media, a money-making machine for Fox News, is done and disgraced
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, April 20, 2017 – Page A3
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-- What surreal and wonderful times we live in. The reality of the endlessly roiling U.S. political arena transcends any fictional satire that television might offer. You couldn't make up this stuff.  FULL STORY arrow
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Netflix's Girlboss: millennial bait about a business badass space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Thursday, April 20, 2017 – Page L3
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-- Netflix's ambition and drive to fill the streaming service with a constant torrent of original content has helped make this era an extraordinary time for television. There are so many series, documentaries and oneoff specials, the choices are bewildering.  FULL STORY arrow
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Fargo's Season 3 is another little masterpiece of storytelling space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Wednesday, April 19, 2017 – Page L1
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-- It's not for everyone, the latest little masterpiece to arrive on the FX channel. To convey how odd it is, here's a quote from the invitation to screen the first episode: ''Prepare yourselves for the ''unfathomable pinheadery' of ''pitchfork peasants with murder in their eyes.' '' It's Fargo (Wednesday, FX Canada, 10 p.m.) and as happened with the first and second season of this astonishingly good anthology series, it is a challenge to even describe the content, style, tone and ambition of the third season.  FULL STORY arrow
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Online and on TV, April is the coolest month space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Tuesday, April 4, 2017 – Page L2
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-- April is a packed month. Many new and returning shows are arriving on the schedules over the next few weeks.But first, let's look online, as everybody does. But at Web series, specifically. Two notable Canadian series debut this month. Both comedies. Well, one is a very dark comedy, and great, and has a small army of fine Canadian actors in it.  FULL STORY arrow
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Two series, two fine finales, lots of blood space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Saturday, April 1, 2017 – Page R1
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-- Two huge finales this weekend. Both blood-soaked, probably. Both of them tense, terrific, nuanced and both about power. And both - Big Little Lies and The Walking Dead - coincidentally about male power and violence.  FULL STORY arrow
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This is the no-excuses season for Toronto FC space
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By JOHN DOYLE
Friday, March 31, 2017 – Page S1
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-- Usually with Toronto FC, even at the start of the Major League Soccer season, there's an attempted alibi or a fishy story.The new players are still trying to fit in. The team played too many away games before the home opener. That big-ticket signing from Europe is a bust.  FULL STORY arrow
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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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