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Christopher Meloni on Surviving Jack, Surviving Dinosaurs, and Why His Oz Character Was Revolutionary

The stone-faced countenance of Christopher Meloni peered out at Law & Order: SVU viewers for 12 years, but he’s known to many not for his intense dramatic glares but for his scene-stealing performances in cult comedies like 2001’s Wet Hot American Summer and 2004’s Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (not to mention an appearance on Wonder Showzen as the Cooties Spokesman). Those comedic roles showed that he had a funnier side than what you might expect from watching him on the gritty NBC spinoff and his recurring role on HBO’s brutal Oz. Now both sides of the Meloni persona have mind-melded into his character on his new Thursday night Fox comedy, Surviving Jack. As Jack Dunlevy, an ex-military man turned doctor turned stay-at-home dad, Meloni’s steely gaze is put to use teaching his two teenage kids right from wrong. Vulture recently spoke with the 53-year-old Meloni about his own high school years, David Wain’s genius, and whom he’d nominate for Man of the Year.

How his Oz character, Chris Keller, was “revolutionary.” »

Why the Next Season of Parks and Rec Should Be Its Last

For years and years, we Parks and Recs fans lived in fear that our beloved show would be unjustly canceled. It's always been delightful and hilarious, but the little comedy that could has never been a particular ratings success. Many season finales were written to also serve as series finales if need be — even Ben and Leslie's wedding was, at one point, a contender for the final episode. (That season, NBC asked for extra episodes. Go figure.) But now that the show's sixth season is drawing to a close, I'm struck by a feeling I didn't expect to have: I want next season of Parks and Recreation to be its last.

Dragging things out is bad for everyone. »

American Idol Recap: I’m Not in Love

Which one will you fall in love with tonight?

This is the question with which Ryan Seacrest opens Tuesday's American Idol, and not even he can hide the desperation within it. Four months and countless hours in, onto which of these six blank slates will you project some meaning? Will it be Caleb, “The Hard Rocker”? CJ, “The Roots Rocker”? Jessica “The Rebel”? Sam “The Heartthrob”? Alex “The Troubadour”? Or Jena “The Wildcard”? (Also, how much work did they put into these descriptors? Is Jessica a rebel because she has pink in her hair, or because she stubbornly refuses to look like she’s enjoying herself? Is Jena a wildcard because she got in as a wildcard, like CJ did, or is she a wildcard because they couldn’t think of a tidy noun for her, and “The Singer” or “The Person” seemed too vague?)

Tonight’s two themes are “country” and "rock." »

7 Things Space Ghost Coast to Coast Can Teach Stephen Colbert

Twenty years ago this week, as the dust of the late-night talk show wars between Letterman and Leno had finally begun to settle, a familiar face came on the scene: Space Ghost. In 15-minute episodes that would have gone viral had anyone known what viral was back then, the Cartoon Network series (which eventually became the linchpin of the channel’s late-night programming block, Adult Swim) cast the stiff-as-a-board 1966 Hanna-Barbera action hero as a talk-show host, interviewing a roster of celebrities — some in on the joke, some very clearly not — in awkward, unforgettable segments that anticipated everything from Jimmy Fallon’s flop-sweat interview with Robert De Niro to President Obama’s appearance with Zach Galifianakis on "Between Two Ferns." And the show’s name rhymed, which was important.

The show made all the talk-show tropes of the day its own »

Play Our Game of Thrones Name Spelling Quiz

Westeros is a crazy place for many reasons. One of those reasons is the names of its residents. Where some have silly names like Sandor Clegane, others have names like Robb Stark (or at least they did once). So, we want to see how much of a Game of Thrones fan you are, by giving you the hardest test we could think of: having to spell their names. Below, we'll give you ten names that you'll have to try to spell, hangman-style. But be careful one strike and you are out, like [redacted, for spoiler reasons].

Watch a Video of Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom ‘Apology’

That not-really-an-apology Aaron Sorkin gave for The Newsroom at the Tribeca Film Festival? You can now see how it went down. You see, he's apologizing for the misconception other people had about why the show was set in the present day. Not to insult the way journalists handled those stories, just so that we could all better relate: "I set the show in the recent past because I didn’t want to make up fake news." Good.

Lifetime Green-lights a Nun Reality Show

Lifetime has green-lit a reality show about young nuns, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The Sisterhood (oy), from the same production company behind the offensively phony Breaking Amish, follows five young women who are considering becoming Catholic nuns; they're each in the "discernment" phase, which is generally the first step in entering a religious order. On the show, the women are living in a convent, even though that's generally not part of the discernment process for most Catholic orders and is instead part of the later phase of candidacy. It's almost like this reality show is going to take some liberties with how things work ...

Watch ‘Stephen Colbert’ Tell Jon Stewart He’s Leaving His Show

Considering his endorsement the morning of the day it was announced that Stephen Colbert will be taking over The Late Show, we're sure Stephen Colbert told Jon Stewart that he was leaving The Colbert Report. But "Stephen Colbert," the character, hadn't yet. Last night, he interrupted The Daily Show to break the news to Stewart (who produces Colbert), play a tribute clip to himself, and call himself fat. It was all very moving. Everyone cried. (No one cried.)

The Americans’ Holly Taylor on Paige’s Church Problem, High-Waisted Cords, and Her One Tree Hill Obsession

Paige just wants to go to church. Why can’t she go to church?! Well, because her parents are undercover KGB spies, and Mother Russia isn’t down with the big JC. In last night’s episode of The Americans, poor Paige got read the riot act for donating $600 worth of babysitting savings to charity. Color her confused. (And has there been anything more terrifying than Philip screaming at his teenage daughter? I think not.) Vulture got ahold of Holly Taylor, the 16-year-old actress who plays Paige, to commiserate after a long day of exams (“I had four tests, and it was awesome,” she jokes). Fortunately, our discussion got worked its way around to One Tree Hill, and that perked her right up. 

“But I have worn the Felicity wig we have in the trailer, so that has to count for something.” »

The Americans Recap: With Contras and Christ

In episode nine of the first season of The Americans, Philip and Elizabeth announced to their children that they were separating. In last night’s episode, the ninth of season two, Philip and Elizabeth once again separated.

This time, that separation wasn’t related directly to the status of their marriage. They’re still living in the same Falls Church home with their two children: Paige, the generously donating Bible thumper, and Henry, the kid who has apparently replaced his obsession with playing Astrosmash on the neighbors’ Intellivision with good, old-fashioned card tricks. But in terms of where they are emotionally following their attempt to expose the U.S. Contra-training program dubbed Martial Eagle — an operation that gave this week’s hour its name — it’s clear that metaphorically if not legally, Philip and Elizabeth are pretty much divorced right now.

The infiltration of the military base did not go as planned. »

What the HBO-Amazon Deal Means for Netflix and 5 Other Questions Answered

It’s not TV. It’s not HBO. It’s HBO on Amazon! Yesterday morning, the pay-cable pioneer and the streaming giant announced a multiyear deal to bring many (but not all) of HBO’s older shows to the Amazon Prime Video subscription service. The agreement is obviously good news for Amazon subscribers and any other TV fans considering signing up, since it means access to more high-quality television programs at a relatively affordable annual price. But just how groundbreaking was yesterday’s news? Why did HBO finally agree to stream its shows on a platform it doesn’t own? And is this a death blow to Netflix? Vulture dug a little deeper into the deal and talked to our TV business sources to figure out What It All Means. Read on for the answers.

1. How unprecedented is this deal? »

Charlize Theron, Andy Samberg Will Host Last Two SNLs of the Season

NBC announced the lineups for the final two episodes of this season of SNL this afternoon: On May 10, Charlize Theron will host, with musical guest the Black Keys, and on May 17, Andy Samberg will host, with musical guest St. Vincent. This will be the Black Keys' third time on the show and Theron's second time hosting, though her first time was way back in 2000 — when she played a member of girl group Gemini's Twin on an episode that included a Mr. Peepers sketch. Fourteen years is a long time! The following week marks St. Vincent's SNL debut and Samberg's first time hosting, though he'll be the third former cast member to host this season (Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon). Ready yourselves for a digital short, friends.

The ’90s: The Last Great Decade? Coming to TV

The National Geographic Channel will air a miniseries in July called The ’90s: The Last Great Decade?, because that's a totally legitimate framing device for a talking-head show that's supposed to be more serious than I Love the ’90s. According to Deadline, Rob Lowe will narrate the series, just as he did for the network's The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us. Perhaps no one at the NGC is familiar with Betteridge's law of headlines, which we'll stretch here to apply to the title of a show: The law states that any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word "no." If the answer were "yes," you wouldn't need the question mark! One could simply write something declarative. Anyway, no, the ’90s were not the "last great decade," because who knows what the future holds? Maybe more great decades, maybe apes on horseback, maybe horses on apeback, as Conan once predicted. At best, the ’90s were the most recent great decade, and even that feels like a stretch. Time is not a contest.

Supernatural Recap: Mothers and Daughters

Did the planet just backflip off its axis? Are pigs doing cartwheels across the sky? Did Michael Jackson moonwalk out of his grave and buy a ticket to Shrek 5? Because something impossible just happened: Supernatural based a whole episode around female characters. Three-dimensional ones, even! None of them love interests. And with a recurring character to boot. What show was this? I know, I know, by now all complaints about Supernatural's casual misogyny — whether by omitting multi-dimensional females or simply fridging them — are admittedly tired by now. But "Alex Annie Alexis Ann" proved that perhaps the complainers were right all along. This was a heavy, thoughtful, and tremendously well-written episode of television, and it couldn't have been possible without strong female characters. Who knew! Oh, right. We all did.

Sheriff Jody Mills was back! »

The Real Housewives of New York City Recap: Baby, You’re a Fire Jerk

When the great spiritual songress of our time, Ms. Katheryn Elizabeth "Katy" Perry (née Hudson) sings about fireworks, they are figurative, people who are so inspiring that their light and hope explodes in the sky for all to see. When the Real Snail Shells of Clam Bake Fire Pit talk about fireworks, they are literal, the Chinese creation that takes off at least one drunken father’s ring finger every Independence Day. They do not have time for figurative language; they are too busy creating displays of attraction and noises of repulsion to really do anything else. And sometimes they mistake the figurative for the literal. Often it is funny.

Let's talk about the last fight right up here at the beginning. »

  • Posted 4/23/14 at 10:00 AM
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HBO Shows Will Stream on Amazon Prime

Amazon announced today that it will be the exclusive streaming home for HBO shows, and that HBO Go will be available on Fire TV, Amazon's recently released set-top box. Starting May 21, Amazon Prime will be streaming The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Wire, Rome, Big Love, Deadwood, Eastbound & Down, Family Tree, Enlightened, Treme, Flight of the Conchords, plus some seasons of Boardwalk Empire and True Blood, HBO original movies, HBO comedy specials, miniseries including Band of Brothers and Angels in America, and several documentaries. Girls, The Newsroom, and Veep will eventually make their way to Amazon, too. (The announcement does not mention two of HBO's notable series: Sex and the City and Game of Thrones. Hm.) "Suck on that, Netflix," the press release might as well have included.

Netflix has made no secret of its desire to be the new HBO; CEO Reed Hastings told GQ last year that "The goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become [Netflix]," and in yesterday's quarterly earning report, Netflix again reiterated the same idea: "We are approaching 50 million global members, but that is far short of HBO’s 130 million. We are eager to close the gap," the letter said. Now that HBO shows are going to be available to stream on Amazon, it looks like that just got a tiny bit harder.

Fargo Recap: Tutti and the Blowfish

Two-thirds into “The Rooster Prince,” a Bemidji police-department custodial worker shaves Vern Thurman’s name off his office door with a razor blade. Deputy Molly Solverson’s expression sinks. Her heart too. Not only is timid former Deputy Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk) the new chief, but her friend and mentor is both dead and displaced. Funny thing is, Bill’s not that bad a deputy, even if he’s over his head in the catbird’s seat. He suggests that Pearl and Vern’s killer(s) might be a drifter, or gang of them, which isn’t entirely untrue. When he disciplines Molly for harassing “poor Lester,” she’s reassigned to head an inquiry into the premiere episode’s frozen, boxers-preferring corpse. Odds are, that investigation will (much to her dad’s lament) bring her head on with their mystery man from the hospital. Nor is Chief Oswalt wasting anyone’s time or resources by contacting state police, lest any of them having recently encountered someone off-putting.

“Devils with dead eyes and shark smiles.” »

Watch John Oliver Tell Jimmy Fallon About How Jon Stewart Made Him Cry

Sometimes men cry. Sometimes it is during the ending of Frozen. Sometimes it is during the middle of Frozen, after Idina Menzel hits that big note in "Let It Go." And sometimes it's when you are leaving your dream job and your boss of seven years shows you how much he appreciates you. That's what happened to John Oliver, as he explained on The Tonight Show last night. Deal with it, America. Deal with it, Great Britain.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Recap: Shine on, You Crazy Supervillain

I'll say this for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: It knows how to do a cliffhanger. This week's "The Only Light in the Darkness" ratchets up the stakes with one pivotal plot development: Skye now knows that Ward is working for HYDRA — but if he figures it out, he'll kill her. It's a big moment for the series, and it probably could have been drawn out longer. But with just three episodes to go this season, it makes sense for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to stop dropping all its bombshells now — and after irritating viewers with a slow start, the series feels poised for a comparatively big finish. 

Adiós, Patton Oswalt. »

The Mindy Project Recap: A Mitzvah, Indeed

“From the tall and white to the short and white, I’ve sampled an eclectic range of men,” Mindy tells her young new patient in her opening voice-over/lampshade of the continuing criticism of her lack of diverse romantic interests. This precipitates her declaration that she’s planning to give up on love for now, which, you know, would probably be a good idea if she were a real person. Like, she was just totally decimated by the probable love of her life, Danny, five minutes ago, so staying home with the DVR instead of going out with more dudes sounds healthy to me. But I don’t want to watch that show, and this show is always better when Mindy is pursuing her romantic-comedy dreams, which is why this episode was so much fun. Because, of course, it was filled with hints of romantic intrigue despite her momentary dating hiatus. Mindy Project can pull off the occasional non-romantic week, but it’s just not as special when it’s in more traditional sitcom territory.

“You know what encourages sex? Alcohol, hotness, black music.” »