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GiveLife.ca

    
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PRINT EDITION
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Globe Columnists
Thursday, July 27




  John Doyle
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Television



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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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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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