Tuesday, March 25, 2014

'Masters of Sex' at Paleyfest and Other Great Television


Last night I attended the "Masters of Sex" panel at the Paleyfest, held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. The cast and creators are just as lively and provocative as the show itself, and I'm really looking forward to the upcoming season.

Cast members Michael Sheen, Lizzy Caplan, Caitlin FitzGerald, Annaleigh Ashford and Teddy Sears were in attendance with executive producers Michelle Ashford and Sarah Timberman. The cast talked about their experiences auditioning for the show, working with period costumes and hairstyles ("By period clothing, do you mean sweatpants?" cracked Caplan) and trying to fathom the unfathomable mysteries of sex.

It was delightful to see Sheen and Caplan jousting so playfully, comparing their pre-"Masters" credits — he onstage as Hamlet while she lit up the screen in Hot Tub Time Machine.

FitzGerald hilariously explained the length of time they spend in hair and make-up: "The truth is, women would run everything, but we're too busy getting ready." And Ashford described the joys of trying to use the bathroom while dressed in the clothing of the day. "You have to ask someone to help you pee. I haven't done that since I was like four."

Sheen talked about what a pleasure it was to embody a character that could grow and change over the course of seasons as well as with an ensemble that really clicked. And they do.

Caplan gave my favorite quote of the night. When an audience member asked a rather fuzzy question about being able to separate her work from real life, she quipped, "Some people flip burgers for a living. Some people get naked and grind against Michael Sheen," to which he responded, "Quite a lot of people, actually."


Spoilers here if you're not up to date. If you're a fan of A&E's "Bates Motel," then you must be as pleased as I am with the episodes that have aired thus far. Norman (Freddie Highmore) and Dylan (Max Thieriot) have helped Bradley (Nicola Peltz) "disappear" after she killed the drug lord who murdered her father. Norma (Vera Farmiga) reacts violently when her brother, Caleb (Kenny Johnson), comes to town, bringing to light a secret that sends Dylan in to a tailspin.

Meanwhile, some characters are starting to form new relationships. Divorcee George (Michael Vartan) has taken an interest in Norma while Norman's sometimes-crush Emma (Olivia Cooke) seems to be turning her romantic attentions to a pot-dealing bad boy, Gunnar (Keenan Tracey).

And sure, the hotel seems to be doing well, but black clouds are looming. Construction of the new interstate is going ahead as scheduled, which will cut them off from tourist traffic, and Norman is getting crazier than ever. In the latest episode, aired last night, he went to Caleb's motel room to persuade him to leave town, only to start speaking as Norma herself before brandishing a knife in an attempt to kill him.

Highmore and Farmiga continue to be the most watchable messed-up mother-son duo since...well, Anthony Perkins and Anthony Perkins. Thank God for DVRs so I can race through the commercials. I refuse to believe the audience for "Bates Motel" also watches the repugnant "Duck Dynasty."


As if her role in Bertolucci's nostalgic The Dreamers (2003) wasn't enough to win me over to Eva Green's offbeat charms, I just caught her performance as the wonderfully over-the-top villainess Artemisia in the crazy fun 300: Rise of An Empire. It's a performance that will live on and grow in the annals of cult history — and here in the Village.

So I'm looking forward to seeing her as the medium Vanessa Ives in Showtime's "Penny Dreadful," which begins airing May 11th. Created by John Logan (Hugo), it's kind of a monster mash-up series set in Victorian London at a time when the horror classics were being written. Green is joined in the cast by Josh Hartnett and Timothy Dalton. It's an intriguing if rather perplexing premise...and it'll be interesting to see how it's pulled off.


Mike Judge, whose Office Space and "King of the Hill" are highly-regarded cult favorites, takes another stab at television satire with HBO's "Silicon Valley," about a group of schlubs forming a start-up. I'm a big fan of Judge's films Idiocracy and Extract, so I'm anxious to see his skewering of this culture. It's based on his real-life experiences as an engineer in the Valley.

Explaining the show's premise, Judge told The Verge that people like Mark Zuckerberg wouldn't be the the most powerful people in the world a century ago; it was the time of alpha males like Rockefeller and Carnegie, not these introverted programmer types. It's these naive, socially-awkward nerds that are the targets of Judge's comedy.

But the big boys aren't spared, either — they're depicted as being so filthy rich they can only justify their wealth by claiming they're "making the world a better place." Yeah, I remember how unliveable the planet was before Instagram. And get ready to see some hilariously over accessorized "campuses" with every employee amenity you can possibly conceive of. The show starts April 6th.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This truly is the new Golden Age of Television!


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