Various compromises are reached in a transitional episode
"How Catholic are you?" – Nucky Thompson
Nucky's question to Margaret was meant quite literally, as they both fretted about her first confession in many years, and what various sins she could possibly admit. But taken in the more abstract sense, as the small-c adjective "catholic" which means having a comprehensive and all-encompassing view of things, it was a question that could be put to almost all of the main characters in this very introspective episode. Not surprisingly, those people with the most open-minded views ended up in better shape than the rest.
Number one on that list is Jimmy Darmody, who took to heart the advice given to him in the first few minutes, by one of the Atlantic City power brokers (better know by me as Mutton Chop Uncle Junior). The older gentleman expresses sincere respect of Nucky's ability to play the long game, to see the bigger picture and set things up to go his way for a long and stable future. Jimmy is a different man than Nucky – more troubled and sullen, and much more comfortable with using physical violence as a solution to problems - but he is trying to learn the subtleties of wielding power. When faced with a long-term plan that entails a small loss now for a big win later, he decides to make it happen. By explicitly teaming up with his generational equals (Lansky and Luciano) to eventually topple the established powers (Rothstein and Thompson), he is thinking about the future, and making the necessary compromises to get there.
Of course, it is still probable that Nucky has some more tricks up his sleeve, but at least for this hour, he was experiencing numerous setbacks to his carefully laid plans. Daughtery, caught up in some plans of his own, is pressured by Nucky's old enemy Senator Edge into appointing a prosecutor for Nucky's case who might actually, you know, prosecute him. He is continuing to get the cold shoulder from the powerful George Remus, and (unbeknownst to Nucky) his bootlegging muscle men are all either dead or actively working against him. It is more evident all the time that Nucky's enemies are legion and even his allies are not truly friends, only gamblers deciding what horse is the best bet. He could stand to take a broader view of the world in order to see the best course for pulling himself out of his troubles.
But the dubious honor of most solipsistic behavior goes to Van Alden, who breaks down like a guilty child at the first hint that the badly burned Agent Clarkson knows his true nature. Interestingly, it is not clear what he thinks the dying man knows; is it the money skimming, the pay-offs to the bootleggers, the murder of his fellow agent from last year? Whatever it is, he verges on full confession in a telephone call to his long-suffering wife, and spends the entire day glued to Clarkson's hospital bed, while Lucy goes into labor back at their flat. Once it is clear that the dying man is simply delirious, Van Alden snaps back to his rigid self. But it's too late; Mrs. Van Alden has found out everything about the new baby girl, and she is, shall we say, the opposite of understanding about it. Please let this be the beginning of the end for Van Alden; even though Michael Shannon is an imposing and compelling presence, this storyline has become a dead end and a drag on the rest of this complex and mesmerizing show.
- Time is getting shorter for Margaret and Owen to knock boots, although now that she has admitted her attraction to both herself and her priest, she may be better equipped to fight it.
- "Why the f**k would anyone ever go to Cincinnati?"
- At least Nucky's federal prosecutor woes resulted in the abrupt and deserved dismissal of that loathsome defense attorney Chip, green shoes and all.
- I continue to covet every single one of Margaret's hats and dresses, particularly that pink and lavender number she wore in the scene with the priest.
- "Youse are broads now? We gotta walk you home?"
- Somehow, I think Manny's definition of what constitutes "treyf" may be overly broad.
Only 100 days until the premiere and the teams have been picked
"The Voice" doesn't return to NBC until February, but the competition has already begun. With an extended round of blind auditions completed, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton are gearing up for the battle round. MSN TV was hoping to find out how the coaches were stepping up their games this second time around, but it turns out it's the contestants who are changing things up this season.
"They've been pretty hard on us, now that they know the game." Christine Aguilera previewed. "They come back at us, when there's multiple button pushes. They're looking at you like, 'What can you do for me?' This undiscovered talent is in front of a panel of experienced, accomplished artists and they know how it works: the ball's in their court."
Some of the season 2 performers are even thinking a few moves ahead. "I had this one guy, I was giving him every reason why I should be his coach and he said, 'I already know you all like me. I want to know which one of you are going to keep me,'" Blake Shelton marveled. "He's already thinking about the battle round. He wants a commitment."
"They know our game, so we have to change it," Adam Levine added. "As soon as someone else pushes that button, we have to be in the position to sell ourselves. All the sudden, we're auditioning for them. It's bizarre."
Aguilera had to admit it's also a bit "nerve wracking," but all the coaches seem to enjoy the power shift, while Green even contends that in this case, knowledge equals more than just power.
"Their attitudes are a lot more open, optimistic and advantageous," Green said of the contestants. "The talent has been tripled and equaled out amongst us all. We all have very strong teams."
Which is turn means the coaches will have to step up their own games as they move forward, as well.
"We mess around, we have fun up here, but at the end of the day, it's about developing talent," Levine said of the show. "Because it has become something that can be a potential launch pad, that's an exciting prospect -- especially being in a business that's kind of like the Wild West, right now. We're passionate about it and can't wait to make it as good as possible."
In that vein, "The Voice" has answered the call of the fans and added "many more weeks" of blind auditions.
"This year, the bar's been raised," Christina Aguilera previewed, "We have to choose 12 people on our team, as opposed to last year, which was 8. That's an amazing part of the show. It keeps all of us on our toes, coaches, viewers and vocalists. It does get pretty intense. We're all fighting for that number one artist, and it's an interesting year."
While "The Voice" and the coaches are making adjustments for the new season, the show still prides itself on playing a positive game that features performers with serious skills.
"You're just sitting there wondering, 'Why don't these people have record deals yet?'" Aguilera shared. "We were all pretty much blown away, [and] the talent is very diverse. I have everybody from an incredible opera singer that makes you want to cry to a dynamic, incredible, powerhouse MC. You have your amazing soul singers and your power house vocals."
Speaking of power houses vocals, season two of "The Voice" will also see the coaches take the stage together again, with a "truly kickass opening performance" scheduled for after the Super Bowl.
Of course, most of us will get to see any of this until after the holiday season… In the meantime, the coaches are all still involved with their heavy hitters from last season and recommend "The Voice" fans keep their eyes out for new music from Javier Colon, Beverly McClellan, Dia Frampton, Sia Furler, Xenia and other players from season one.
"The Voice" returns to NBC on Feb. 5, immediately following Super Bowl XLVI
With a new night and time slot, everyone's favorite doofy secret agent gets one last hurrah!
O'Brien to officiate gay wedding on his show next week
It's part of a week-long celebration of O'Brien's one-year anniversary at TBS, which will see his shows tape at New York's Beacon Theatre.
Bing: More about Conan O'Brien
According to this report from New York Magazine, O'Brien will marry a longtime staffer to his longtime partner. The specific night hasn't been announced.
New York legalized gay marriage in June.
The last wedding aired in its entirety on late-night TV was that of Tiny Tim to Miss Vicki Budinger on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" in 1969, an event watched by a record-shattering 21.4 million viewers.
In related news, the year 2000 has apparently arrived. (Conan fans, please enjoy that joke because no one else knows what it meant.)
What do you think of Conan's plans? Connect with fans and sound off on Facebook
"Conan" airs weeknights at 11 p.m. ET/PT on TBS.
The gang tells some revealing scary stories in a lightweight episode
Whether you prefer gross-out "Re-Animator"- type humor about body parts being cut off and sewn back on in the wrong places, or a giddy send-up of the Christians who rise up in the rapture versus vile heathens (complete with Dean Pelton in a sexy Satan costume, threatening everyone with "Gay marriage!"), your sense of humor was probably represented pretty well. For my money, the most amusing sequence was Annie's florid "Twilight"/Grimm's fairy tale hybrid, which ended in a glorious insane monologue detailing all the disgusting things that the Annie-wolf did to the faithless Jeff-vampire. It seemed both perfectly (and terrifyingly) plausible that this was the place where she would channel all of her frustrated feelings for Jeff, and Alison Brie sold the heck out of the twisted tale. Maybe there were more pure laughs in the other vignettes ("Foot hands!"), but only a truly crazy person wouldn't feel just a little bit awed by the powerful emotions underneath that little cardigan.
- It's nice that there is continuity about Greendale's financial issues, with Pelton bluffing that he made the lights flicker on purpose in order to be scary for the holiday. ("So the lights will work on November 1st?" "ALL SAINTS DAYmonth.")
- Also extremely funny: Brita's lackadaisical storytelling coming through on the radio guy's voice, talking about "a thingie for his hand" and the killer "on the loose and stuff."
- Pierce is really just terrible.
- The whole Abed story was somehow deeply satisfying, particularly if you are one of those people who go nuts over lapses of logic in horror movies.
- Joel McHale could do Shakespeare. Not "King Lear" probably, but still.
- "I thought I heard something awesome out there."
- Naturally, in Shirley's world, the staff of NPR misses out on the rapture.
- Once again, just the right amount of Chang.
Missed this week's 'Vampire Diaries'? Here's what you need to know to get by at the water cooler
Jeremy’s ex Anna was still haunting him, and they were even holding hands. All of which was really pissing Bonnie off. “I went against the balance of nature when I brought Jeremy back to life and now I’m paying the price,” she told Caroline. Bonnie told Damon that ghosts weren’t supposed to be able to physically interact with people – which meant something had gone really, really wrong. But then her little magic book opened itself up to just the right page for a spell to reveal veiled matter – ghosts.
Elena, meanwhile, wanted Jeremy to get in touch with Stefan’s old pal Lexi to see if they could figure out how to stop Klaus. Stefan showed up and saw Elena checking out his old journals. He told her to give it up. Again.
Caroline and Bonnie went to the creepy old house where all the witches were burned so Bonnie could do the spell. The first ghost she brought back? Her grandmother (Jasmine Guy). “A fine mess you’ve made, honey,” she said. “You cracked open the door to the other side. There’s an old witch over here, and she took advantage of you. You upset the balance of nature. You need to set it right.” That meant destroying that old necklace Elena had.
But others showed up all over town, including Lexi, who got right to the point. “You’re off the rails,” she told Stefan, before knocking him out cold.
And Elena walked in on Jeremy and a now-visible Anna making out. Oops. But Elena had bigger worries – Lexi was going to give her a crash course on “Ripper Detox.” The process was painful – Lexi made him hallucinate he hadn’t had blood for two years, then stabbed him with a stake. “You have to make him see past the blood,” Lexi told Elena.
Mason wanted an apology from Damon. “You’re right,” Damon said, “I didn’t have to kill you. I do a lot of things I don’t have to do.” Close enough? Anyway, Mason knew how they could kill Klaus. He and Damon met at the Lockwood cellar, where they started digging for an old Lockwood weapon that could apparently kill an original. They headed deep into the cave, where Mason had a set a trap that sent several stakes right through Damon. Ouch. Except apparently he didn’t set the trap, the old Lockharts had, because Mason helped Damon pull them all out. “You know what the other side is like? We’re all alone, watching the people we loved making the wrong decisions,” he told Damon. “It’s too late for me, but maybe it’s not too late for Tyler.”
While Caroline spilled to Bonnie about the whole kissing dead exes thing, Anna and Jeremy were discovering that the spell had brought back many, many vengeful vamps – who strung up Founders’ Ceremony speaker Mr. Bell dead body just to make their point.
Jeremy called Caroline to tell her that the vengeful vamps were about to work their way through the founding families. But the girls couldn’t find the necklace – and they thought Anna took it. When she said she didn’t, Jeremy said he believed her.
“It’s not real,” Elena told him of his feelings for Anna. “Are you going to love a ghost for the rest of your life?”
And then Anna confessed: she did have the necklace.
Jeremy still couldn’t let go. “This doesn’t have to be goodbye,” he told Anna. “But it should be,” she told him. She took the necklace hoping to find her mother. “I don’t want to be alone anymore.” She gave him the necklace and sent him off to find Bonnie.
But Lexi still didn’t have the old Stefan yet – so she reminded him of the necklace, the one he’d found in his darkest period.
Jeremy brought the necklace to her, and she threw it into the fire, casting her spell, hand in hand with her grandmother. And all the ghosts disappeared, just as they were about to break through. But one did – Anna found her mother, just as they faded away, together.
And Bonnie’s grandmother told her: “You are stronger than all of this. I’m so proud of you.”
Still in the cave, Damon called Alaric, who was still pissed at him. “Sometimes, I do things I don’t have to do,” Damon said again, his same stupid half-assed apology.
Stefan was still tied up, and Elena was going to leave him there. “I was wondering when you were gonna give up,” he said.
“I still have hope,” Elena said, “but there’s nothing I can do until you get yours back. If you don’t, you’re going to lose me forever. I won’t love a ghost for the rest of my life.”
Bonnie couldn’t listen to Jeremy’s excuses. She told him to go. And then, in the fire, found the necklace, still intact.
And in the cave, Alaric found Viking markings, ancient ones, perhaps the key to killing the Originals.
What did you think of this week's "Vampire Diaries"? Are you going to miss the ghosts of Mystic Falls' past residents?
We go on set with Shonda Rhimes, Kerry Washington and the crisis management crew
There's a new drama coming out of the land of Shonda Rhimes. And when "Scandal" premieres Thursday, April 5, the high-stakes world of crisis manager Olivia Pope and her dysfunctional team is sure to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. MSN TV has the trailer, but also went on set for a sneak peak and chat with Shonda Rhimes, Kerry Washington and the rest of the "Scandal" crew.
Situated in the political hotbed of Washington D.C., the lawyers at Pope & Associates may not have a handle on their own lives, but they can stop a scandal in its tracks before it breaks.
"People deserve a second chance, and people make mistakes," Washington (Pope) sets up. "Justice is more complicated than the law, so Olivia and Pope & Associates are there to make sure that everybody [gets an] even playing ground and to be helpful to people who have nowhere else to go, if they feel that help is deserved and justifiable."
Olivia, the woman at the center of it all, is a former media relations consultant to the U.S. President (Tony Goldwyn), who sets out to make a fresh start, professionally and personally. A wildly efficient D.C. power player, she employs a "take-no-prisoners" attitude to get to the bottom of brewing scandals and crises, with the help of her quirky staff (Henry Ian Cusick, Columbus Short, Guillermo Diaz, Darby Stanchfield and Katie Lowes).
"Olivia is pretty rocking," Washington raved. "I'm constantly saying I feel like the luckiest broad in television -- in showbiz, period. I look at who she is with a great deal of awe. It's fun to play someone who is far more intelligent than I am, and whose life is far more complex and complicated than mine is.
"It's a challenge," she continues. "This is the hardest I've ever worked, without a doubt. It's the most challenging job I've ever had, and it's the most fulfilling, artistically and emotionally. I am madly in love with this cast and crew, and with this role."
Though Olivia is trying to make a break from her past, she can't help getting pulled back into the scandals of the oval office, due to her intriguing relationship with the President and his right hand man (Jeff Perry).
The series also moves at a pace reminiscent of "The West Wing," but Pope & Associates will take on more than just the political world.
"Crisis managers get to represent associations, corporations, individuals, politicians, celebrities," reveals real-life crisis manager and co-executive producer Judy Smith, on whom the character Olivia is based. "What they've done is take this world -- the things we deal with every day in an environment that's chaotic, hectic, high stakes and the strategy -- and dramatized it for television in an exceptional way."
At its heart, however, "Scandal" is as much about crisis intervention as Rhimes' "Private Practice" and "Grey's Anatomy" are about the medicine. "They're about people," Rhimes says of her series. "The medicine -- [and] the crisis -- is the backdrop."
"Scandal" has one other thing in common with Rhime's other shows: This capable, brilliant team of D.C. players may be able to save other people's lives, but they aren't always doing the best job at living their own lives.
"One of the things that's cool about all of the characters on this show [is that] people do things that somebody can judge in a very intense way, but it's [presented] with many different perspectives, not demonizing the character or letting him off the hook," Washington says. "We have battles in the hair and makeup trailer over President Fitz, with people throwing things about how they feel. Nobody's all good, nobody's all bad, which is always a gift when you're an actor, because human beings aren't that way."
Yes, there is something off about this President. But, no, MSN TV can't tell you more than that … yet! Get used to the feeling, if you plan to tune in to "Scandal." Each episode offers jaw-dropping character reveals and twists, and some of those will leave viewers biting their nails.
"We're telling a story where there's a little bit of a cliffhanger at the end of every episode," Rhimes previewed. "I got to do it like a British miniseries: It feels more like 'State of Play' than a regular network show, and that was my goal. The seven episodes work as a whole, and at the end of every episode, you're going to be going, 'Why don't I know what's happening next?'"
Rhimes isn't joking about those cliffhangers. MSN TV is actually steaming over our "Scandal" preview, because now we have to wait for the show's 2012 premiere to find out what happens in Episode 4!
"Scandal" is aiming to hit the air in March, but stay tuned for the final release date and, in the meantime, enjoy the "Scandal" preview clip above.
"Scandal" premieres Thursday, April 5 at 10 p.m. EDT/PDT on ABC.
Series scrubbing its character lines blurry
Forget the cougar. It's "Scrubs" town on an upcoming Season 3 episode of the Courteney Cox comedy, slated to return midseason to ABC.
The episode -- to air sometime early next year -- will also feature Sarah Chalke (down for multiple episodes as the new main squeeze of Brian Van Holt's Bobby), Ken Jenkins (returning as dad to Cox's Jules), and Sam Lloyd (back as a ukulele-strumming bum named Ted, who may or may not be his "Scrubs" character).
Braff's and Maschio's roles are being kept a secret, although Maschio did tweet: "Maybe I did shoot a cameo on Cougartown today as the Todd from Scrubs... Would you be all right with that five?!"
Other "Scrubs" vets who have cameoed on "C-Town" in the past include Scott Foley as Cox's boyfriend and Robert Clendenin as a neighbor. And Braff was heard, though not seen, as the voice of an app in Season 2.
What's with all the scrubbing in? Bill Lawrence, who created "Scrubs," is the co-creator of "Cougar Town."