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THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REVIEW
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Television
Friends are the New Family
September 22, 2014
Jake Martin
This month Friends turns 20. When I was that age, 20 years ago, I lay on the hardwood floor of my first apartment on Chicago’s North Side with my own group of friends and cynically watched NBC’s newest collection of beautiful people trying to be funny. As we made sarcastic comments to one another about how improbable it was that the characters were able to pay rent on such a large apartment while working as a line cook and a waitress in New York City, we...
Enraptured?
September 15, 2014
Jim McDermott
When HBO first announced that it had greenlit a television series about the Rapture, one would have been forgiven for assuming we were in for yet another twist on Hollywood’s seemingly endless obsession with the post-apocalyptic. Given the popularity of recent “scripturally inspired” projects like “Noah” or “The Bible,” some sort of high-profile, supposedly Christian pseudo-science fiction was inevitable. If anything, the only surprise was that it had taken...
A Broken, Humbled Heart
May 19, 2014
Jim McDermott
Last summer, Netflix released Orange Is the New Black, the based-on-real-events story of an upper-crust white woman sentenced to 15 months in a women’s correctional facility for her involvement years before in a drug-running operation. The show was created by Jenji Kohan, whose previous half hour dramedy “Weeds,” about a suburban mom who sells pot, began a cottage industry of shows about anti-heroines for Showtime, including “Nurse Jackie,” “United...
Beltway Shakespeare
March 31, 2014
Jim McDermott
I can’t tell whether I was actually sick the week season two of Netflix’s House of Cards dropped, or if I was glued to the couch because I just couldn’t stop watching. Based on a series of novels by Michael Dobbs, later turned into a three-season show on the BBC in the 1990s, the American version of “House of Cards” charts the Richard III-like course of Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), the Democratic majority whip in the House of Representatives, and...
He Who Is
Jim McDermott
Late on Sunday nights when I was a kid I used to sneak downstairs to our family TV room, where more often than not my father was asleep in his chair, the news or sitcom reruns droning on. I would do my best to slip the remote control from off his chair, turn down the volume and switch the channel. It was never easy—like fathers everywhere, he had a preternatural ability to awaken from even the deepest of slumbers when the remote left his immediate proximity or a show came on that did not...
Prisoners of War
November 11, 2013
Terrance W. Klein
Homeland entered its third season showered with awards and critical acclaim. The Showtime series is considered iconic of contemporary, post-9/11 America. It is replete with terrorist cells, drone strikes, wounded veterans and covert surveillance of civilians. Yet this icon unsettles rather than soothes because it raises the same question as Shakespeare’s “King Lear”: when the world turns to tempest, who is crazy and who is sane? That query is...
Superheroes, Sex and the Aged
Jim McDermott
Last year a number of critics complained that there are actually now so many good shows on television (mostly on cable) that they could no longer keep up with them all.
And yet they keep on coming. Over the next few weeks in Hollywood’s small screen version of Christmas dozens of new and returning shows will debut. Here are a few of the best and brightest.
ABC
“Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” (debuts Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m.)
The Way It Is
September 9-16, 2013
Jim McDermott
It is impossible to know what kind of coverage Walter Cronkite would have given to the Trayvon Martin case, which ended with a not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman after killing the 17-year-old Martin in Sanford, Fla.
Bastards and Broken Things
April 29, 2013
Jim McDermott
In the Bible, salvation regularly occurs by the most unexpected of paths. In a world that gave everything to the eldest boy, the Bible finds its heroes regularly in the younger son. In a society that rooted a woman’s status in marriage and children, Scripture turns to the barren and the widowed. And before a landscape of mighty powers, each more dangerous than the next, the Old Testament declares God has chosen for his own the tiniest of nations, while the New Testament proclaims liberation...
Home Alone
March 11, 2013
Jim McDermott
Odds are, if you have checked out the entertainment section of a newspaper recently, you have heard something about House of Cards, Netflix’s first major original series. Perhaps you have heard the fact that in February Netflix released all 13 episodes of the program’s first season at once; or that any number of people watched all 13 episodes in the first weekend (they are known by the flattering term “binge viewers”); or that the quality is quite...
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