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Lucifer Season 4 Leaves Fans Wanting More

On May 8th, Netflix released the new season of Lucifer in its usual binge-worthy style of providing all ten episodes simultaneously. Not surprisingly, a mere 24 hours later, fans were taking to social media asking when the next season was going to happen (more on that later).

Last year, Fox cancelled the show about the fallen angel, Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis), who abandons Hell and descends upon Los Angeles to winds up running Lux, a sultry night club. He soon teams up with detectives as a consultant to aid in solving murder cases, utilizing his skill of forcing people to disclose their deepest desires, much to their embarrassment.
Shortly after Season 3’s cliffhanger, fans were devastated to hear that the series was not being renewed by Fox. With the future of Lucifer in limbo, fans rallied to save their beloved devil by creating the #SaveLucifer hashtag that quickly went viral. A month after being cancelled, Netflix announced it had signed the series for 10 episodes and Season 4 was officially given the green light.

I, along with many other fans, patiently waited for the May 8th release of the new episodes. I have no shame in saying that I too participated in the binge when that date arrived, watching the first six episodes the first night and completing the remaining four the next evening. So, what did I think about Season 4? Did it live up to the previous three seasons? Read on to find out.

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Lucifer – Season 4 on DVD (¡ê13.74 Free Shipping)
Lucifer – Season 4 on DVD (¡ê13.74 Free Shipping)

Lucifer – Season 4 on DVD

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For those familiar with the series, you will remember that at the end of Season 3, we saw Lucifer’s devil face return and it was finally revealed to Detective Chloe (Lauren German). If you were like me, you were blown away by that scene. We’ve been waiting a whole year to find out how the detective would handle that sight. Would she accept Lucifer or turn away?

Season 4 did revisit that moment, albeit quickly. The change of networks also brought on a change in effects, so if you were really paying attention, you would notice the devil face makeup was slightly different in this new season compared to the last, but it is still well done.

If you are curious if the move to Netflix had any influence over the quality of this season, don’t fret. Not much has changed. In fact, with the exception of a few additional swear words and scenes of nudity, including Lucifer’s behind within the first six minutes of the first episode (and multiple other times throughout the season), nothing stood out to me that they couldn’t have gotten away with if they had remained on Fox, but enough about networks, let’s get on with the review.

The opening sequence of the first episode set the tone in a great way. We find Lucifer at his piano at Lux, playing a slowed-down version of Radiohead’s “Creep.” If you are familiar with the series, you know that Tom Ellis is actually singing the musical numbers he performs. Season 4 picks up a month after Chloe has seen his true face and he is concerned that she may never accept him for being, well, the ruler of Hell.

The usual cast of characters that fans have grown to love make their return this season as well. Mazikeen (Lesley-Ann Brandt), Doctor Linda (Rachel Harris), Ella (Aimee Garcia), Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside), and Detective Dan aka Detective Douche (Kevin Alejandro). This season, we were given two new characters promising to spice up the story. Graham McTavish and Inbar Lavi join the cast as Father Kinley, who wants to banish Lucifer back to the depths of Hell, and Eve (yes, that Eve), who wants to rekindle her affair with her first true love, Lucifer.

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I thought the new faces and storylines were a refreshing addition to the series. We do see a few characters grappling with their religious beliefs moreso this season after the death of a couple key characters last time. While some are trying to find love, others are surprised with a new addition of their own.

Each episode still featured a new murder case for the group to investigate and solve, all while trying to defeat their inner demons in the process. Each episode flowed nicely into the next, not losing any momentum along the way or having the viewer wanting to tune out. As mentioned above, it was easier to accept this new style of watching all the episodes at once instead of having to wait for the following week’s episode.

We see the occasional moments of betrayal, lust, comedy, and violence, but that is what made Lucifer a series adored by fans. The witty comebacks by Lucifer are plentiful throughout Season 4, as are the playful interactions he has with the other cast members.

The addition of Eve (Lavi) brings a new side of Lucifer that we haven’t seen before, which is, of course, a wonderful surprise. She excels in her role and I’m hoping to see more of her in the next season.

There are moments that the storyline did drag a bit for me. The scenes with Father Kinley and Chloe seemed to be redundant at times, but fortunately the comedy and wittiness of other characters made it easy to overlook. A character that was more prominent in the earlier seasons was Trixie (Scarlett Estevez), Chloe’s daughter. Her chemistry on screen with both Lucifer and Maze is missed in this season. It would have been nice to have seen a storyline with her, now that she is a bit older, so maybe we will have that in Season 5.

By the time we approach the last couple episodes, we have some more new faces and even more twists. Those condemned to Hell have escaped to Earth to get their Prince of Darkness back. When he refuses to return, they begin to wreak havoc on those around him. The epic showdown comes in episode 10, where we not only see Lucifer’s devil face but his full body transformed to the evil being that was still inside him the whole time. It was quite exciting to see the people possessed by the escaped spirits all bow before Lucifer in his true demon shape, sharp talon wings and all.

yellowstone-season-2-dvd

Yellowstone Season 2 Episode 10 Review

“Don’t let ‘em take it away from you,” a dying John Dutton Sr. (Dabney Coleman) tells his son (Kevin Costner) in a flashback. “Not a goddamn inch.”

Many, many years later, the child-turned-patriarch sits on the porch of his massive Yellowstone Ranch home, reflecting on the recent kidnapping of his grandson and the ever-present fact that so many parties have been trying to take it all away for so long.

“My whole life is just a long series of losing things I love. I’m not going to lose this one, Rip. Not this one,” he tells his trusted ranch hand (Cole Hauser). And so begins “Sins of the Father,” final episode of Yellowstone Season 2 on the Paramount Network. Now that the Beck brothers have made their most desperate and damning play against the Duttons, the latter group is making preparations for revenge. So, with all the foreshadowing of a sorry fate for some that the past few episodes have performed, you can rest assured that yes, those very sins did catch up with a few people.

Like Dan Jenkins (Danny Huston), the local billionaire and John’s heated business rival who, after spending all of season 1 and the beginning of season 2 trying to take down the Dutton family once and for all, has found himself aligned with them and the local Native American reservation. After spotting an approaching assassin, Jenkins hides in a closet and takes them out first. A second invader catches him off guard and scores a few shots, but the target manages to take them out, too. Unfortunately, he’s not as lucky against the third killer.

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Yellowstone Season 2 DVD For Sale in UK
Yellowstone Season 2 DVD For Sale in UK

Yellowstone – Season 2 on DVD

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“I have a right to be here,” he stutters to himself while dying on his patio. “This is America!”

That it is, but in accordance with the neo-frontier philosophy that Yellowstone has espoused since day one, Jenkins’ enemies also have as much of a right to be there. This is America, after all, and in the modern wilds of Montana, the adept use of cunning and ruthlessness — along with access to some pretty massive purse strings — means that those with the more forceful approach will win.
This is something that John has known and expressed since the very beginning. It’s also something that his children, especially his sons Kayce (Luke Grimes) and Jamie (Wes Bentley), have had to painfully experience firsthand throughout these two seasons. His daughter Beth (Kelly Reilly), John’s fiercest defender, has always known this, but that doesn’t make her immune to the forces that would harm them. Literally, in fact, as she was roughed up and nearly killed by the Becks’ men a few episodes back.

Though that doesn’t stop John from ordering her to keep her hands clean of what’s about to happen — a decision that may very well plant the seeds for some new ills that the episode’s conclusion will preview. Before that happens, though, let’s get to the meat of “Sins of the Father,” which is the Duttons’ plot for saving Tate and seeking revenge against their enemies. This is what the past few episodes have been leading up to, and for anyone who’s familiar with just how gruesome and harsh Yellowstone’s world can get, they won’t be surprised by what happens next.

First, Kayce finds and shoots Teal Beck (Terry Serpico) in his own home. What’s more, the lesser of the two brothers is caught unawares while sitting on the toilet and reading the newspaper. The father of the missing boy, without the faintest hint of emotion in his face, then interrogates the bleeding man about his son’s whereabouts. When Teal exclaims he doesn’t know, Kayce shoots him in the leg. “There’s a lot of stuff I can shoot before you die,” he adds. This does the trick, because he then tells him that a local white nationalist militia is holding the boy for them. He even gives away their location.

“Don’t you know about my family? You didn’t think we’d fight back?” Kayce declares before leveling the gun at Teal one final time. Pleadingly, the latter cries, “Nobody ever fights back.”
For many (if not all) of the power brokers depicted throughout Yellowstone, including the Duttons themselves, this may very well be true. Most of their enemies, big and small, generally don’t fight back. And when they do, they find themselves bleeding to death on their own toilets, staring down the barrel of a gun. It’s an old formula for the kind of fictional fare that the series has been putting out since its first episode, but even at the end of season 2 and on the heels of season 3, creator Taylor Sheridan and company find themselves retelling the same stories.

Sometimes, it gets pretty ridiculous, like when John guns down Malcolm Beck (Neal McDonough) in the episode’s penultimate standoff. The latter repeatedly tries to shoot back at the patriarch, but with each attempted retaliation, he’s gunned down until not even his shattered wrist is physically able to lift a weapon. Then, as he struggles, John takes a seat next to him and pontificates about life and mortality. It’s a weird scene. It’s also a totally normal occurrence in this world — one that the millions of people who’ve been tuning in to watch it have endorsed with their eyeballs.

Overly wrought scenes like this one to the contrary, though, Sheridan and his team manage to eke out something utterly new in “Sins of the Father.” For starters, Kayce’s wife Monica (Kelsey Asbille) briefly abandons her characteristically moral high ground — a trait that even the malicious Beth recognizes and celebrates — and asks her boy’s father to kill the people who kidnaped them. Considering the circumstances, it’s totally understandable, but it’s also worrying. For if Monica is willing to let herself slip this once, what’s to say she won’t slip again in the future?

And then there’s Beth’s eerie proclamation to Rip, whom John adds to the property deed and gifts a home on the property to. The senior ranch hand has always been like a son to the patriarch and considering everything he’s done for the family (and for Beth) this season, it’s a nice touch. But she doesn’t see it that way.

“We’re gonna lose this place,” she declares. “I can’t fucking wait.”

the-billions-season-4-changed-the-direction

Billions Season 4 Review: Extreme Sandbox

Not only is Billions coming back for a fifth season, but co-creators Brian Koppelman and David Levien have signed a new overall deal with Showtime. This is great news for the pair, as it means they’ll have the creative freedom to create new, thrilling television for our seemingly unending age of “Peak TV.” It’s also good because, although we already knew that more Billions was on the way, now it’s practically guaranteed. This is great news because following the events of the season four finale Extreme Sandbox, and especially that episode-ending cliffhanger, audiences are going to want more from Koppelman and Levien.
From Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and Taylor Amber Mason’s (Asia Kate Dillon) ongoing battle of financial wits and war to the continued dissolution of Chuck (Paul Giamatti) and Wendy Rhoades’ (Maggie Siff) marriage, this season has been chock-full of deceptively wonderful goodies. We’ve seen apparently friendly, day-long excursions quickly turn into vengeful takedowns, the return of a fan-favorite antagonist, what could be a significant turn between three of the show’s biggest characters, and… chickens. Not all of these episodes and moments have been stellar, of course, but more often than not, Koppelman and Levien have been swinging for the fences and running home more often than not.

And then there’s Extreme Sandbox, which took everything that season four has done so well and turned up the volume.
On the lighter side of things, there’s the origin of the episode’s title – a recreational construction venture run by Mark Cuban – yes, that Mark Cuban – that lets clients operate heavy machinery for the sole purpose of destroying things. Cars, rocks, the very dirt beneath them – anything and everything can be a target. It’s all meant to be an outlet for aggression, and consider the sheer amount of crap that this season has dumped on Wendy and Rebecca Cantu (Nina Arianda), it’s no wonder that Bobby has decided to send them there for a playdate.

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Billions Season 4 DVD For Sale in UK
Billions Season 4 DVD For Sale in UK

Billions – Season 4 on DVD

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“One thing that’s come from this year,” Wendy later tells Rebecca over a beer, “I know I can handle f*cking anything. And Axe Cap? It’s mine. They really rallied around me in their own weird way. It’s the upside of being on a team, I guess.”

“I can see that,” says Rebecca. “It’s just not how I work. I like owning a team.”

Yay! People are having fun while the only thing that’s being destroyed is meant to be done in by construction equipment. This seems like a nice change of pace for Billions, no?

If you’ve been watching all of season four, let alone the three seasons that precede it, then you already know that Wendy and Rebecca’s day off isn’t long for this world. What’s more, you also know that it’s not just their happiness that will be utterly trashed by the episode’s end, but just about everyone else around them. The rest of the folks at Axe Cap, Rebecca’s efforts to take over and run the department chain Saler’s, Bobby’s ongoing battle with Taylor, Chuck’s squabbling to undo his enemies among the feds — it’s all going to be turned on its head when the credits roll and the screen fades to black.

Let’s get back to Wendy and Rebecca, then. One thinks that Bobby’s company is hers. The other believes that she’s better suiting for being in charge. As Extreme Sandbox plays out, however, the validity of these sentiments comes under intense scrutiny. For Rebecca, this arrives in the form of Bobby himself, the fellow hedge fund manager and entrepreneur she’s been dating this season. It turns out he didn’t send her and Wendy to Cuban’s venture out of the goodness of his heart. Instead, he removed her from the picture so that he could go behind her back and undo the handshake deal she made with Taylor behind his back. So instead of coming into the Saler’s board meeting as its assumed leader, she discovers that Bobby has undone all her hard work, won the board from her and, in the process, made a substantial amount of cash.

“You snake motherf*cker. You sent me off and you set me up,” Rebecca hisses at after the meeting. “I wanna run this business for real.’

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“This one wasn’t fit to run,” Bobby retorts after noting that, despite his deception, she’s still coming out on top with at least $1 billion following his snakey deal. “You climbed into bed and made a f*cking pact with my sworn enemy. But hey, as you once told me, ‘You’ll soon come to see the wisdom in this plan.’”

Needless to say, Bobby and Rebecca’s expensive, season-long flirtation is now dead. She hates him for sneaking behind her back, eviscerating her own deals and making his own. He hates her for having anything even remotely to do with Taylor.

As for Wendy, she finds herself on the receiving end of some unexpected leniency from the medical board, which had previously decided to revoke her medical license for three years. Instead, it seems they have decided to issue her a verbal warning – both because she decided to tell the truth at the hearing, and because they apparently received dozens of letters attesting to her character. That, and Bobby donated around $25 million to a medical charity to get on some of the board members’ good side. Her estranged husband Chuck also had a hand in these changes, and he willfully takes credit for them all, a move that briefly repairs their broken marriage. Once she discovers the donation and Chuck’s latest deception, however, Wendy leaves their home presumably for the last time… and heads straight to Bobby’s place.

It’s just enough to sour Chuck against Bobby yet again, inspiring the New York state attorney general to refocus his vengeful efforts on the manipulative financial guru. So while the formerly allied pair’s plans to do in Taylor and their company Mason Capital have resulted in that company’s dissolution and the return of some former Axe Capital employees to the fold, Chuck appeals to their good graces for a chance at revenge. So yes, season five will see Taylor and Mafee (Dan Soder) back under Bobby’s watchful eyes, they will also be working as sleeper agents for Chuck’s office.

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good-place

The Good Place Season 3 Is Still The Best

My friends, The Good Place is a beacon of light in this week of darkest timeline news feeds. In its third season, which premieres Thursday night, the NBC sitcom is still surprising, still meticulously plotted, and still hilarious at an extremely high velocity. It is, without question, television’s best philosophi-com, which is what I call a comedy that explores philosophical and ethical issues. I realize it doesn’t have a lot of competition in that regard, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s earned the title.

Actually, here’s a philosophical question for you: Does humanity even deserve The Good Place? Because I look around at people — yes, I’m including the individual on Facebook who suggested that everyone should donate to a GoFundMe for Brett Kavanaugh because people gave money to help Christine Blasey Ford pay for her security and it’s only fair — and I honestly wonder if we deserve this show.

Here’s another: What if the next huge twist on The Good Place is that the world is really the Good Place and we’re screwing it up? That’s kinda, sorta, but not exactly the starting point for the third season. As you may recall from the end of season two, recovering demon Michael (Ted Danson, still an utter joy in every scene) convinced Judge Gen (Maya Rudolph, also a joy) to let him send Eleanor (Kristen Bell, yet another joy), Chidi (William Jackson Harper — yep, a joy), Tahani (Jameela Jamil, who is — you guessed it! — a joy), and Jason (Manny Jacinto, who I’ll call “a constant revelation in idiocy” just to mix things up) back to Earth in order to determine whether it’s possible for flawed human beings to course-correct without the guarantee of a heavenly destination. It’s an experiment that is much like, you know, life.

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The Good Place – Season 3 on DVD (¡ê15.68 Free Shipping)
The Good Place – Season 3 on DVD (¡ê15.68 Free Shipping)

The Good Place – Season 3 on DVD

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Thanks to some nudging from Michael, all four of his lab rats wind up in Australia, where Chidi and Simone (Kirby Howell-Baptiste of Killing Eve and Barry), Chidi’s university colleague and possible soul mate, launch a study that considers whether near-death experiences lead people to behave in a more ethical fashion. Because Michael came to Earth and intervened, the incidents that initially caused the deaths of the show’s central characters were averted, making Chidi, Eleanor, Tahani, and Jason ideal subjects for the study. Even the study itself is sparked by a bit of Michael’s manipulation: He believes that none of them can reach their decency potential unless they remain in each other’s presence.

The problem for Michael — who’s aided in his efforts by Janet (D’Arcy Carden, a joy in her depiction of robot genius) — is that every time he leaves the netherworld to ensure that the foursome stays together, there’s a chance he will alter the master timeline and cause a ripple effect of unintended changes. This is basic Back to the Future stuff that Michael would understand if he hadn’t been working in the afterlife for hundreds of years and, presumably, learning nothing about McFlys and flux capacitors. In other words, spoiler alert: Michael’s plan goes more than a little oopsy-daisy. “Because of you,” Judge Gen informs Michael at one point, “Byron Allen owns The Weather Channel now.” What other show on television makes jokes about Byron Allen’s business decisions? No others — because they don’t have the guts.

Since season one, The Good Place has repeatedly rebooted its central narrative and shifted our understanding of its setting and what its characters are capable of doing within it. That it’s still able to do this so skillfully in its third season, without ever becoming remotely predictable, is an astonishing feat. After the season-two finale, the AV Club’s Dennis Perkins wrote that “lesser TV shows give you what you think you want,” while The Good Place “gives you what you didn’t know you needed.” That’s absolutely right, and still accurate based on the three episodes I’ve seen from this latest season.

The Good Place also serves up more ridiculously random gags per second than any other show on TV, with the possible exception of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but I think it’s even got that beat. This season has jokes that involve BuzzFeed Kim Kardashian quizzes, Spider-Man, Ted Danson wearing an array of ridiculous disguises, dank memes, a fourth Hemsworth brother named Larry, and, of course, Jason’s beloved Jacksonville Jaguars. Trevor, the especially evil demon played by Adam Scott, plays a key role in the second episode and is given a hilarious array of characteristics to highlight what a garbage person (demonic entity?) he is. Example: He gets very excited when he realizes that the theme of a trivia night is Logan Paul. There’s also an entire sequence that unfolds in an American-themed restaurant called the Cowboy Skyscraper Buffet, an absurd, reverse-Outback Steakhouse stuffed with details that absolutely demand to be savored.

The third episode ends on a cliff-hanging note that suggests The Good Place is about to swerve in yet another new direction. I look forward to the whiplash that will no doubt set in as it careens around that next corner. Not only is this a thought-provoking, supremely intelligent series, it’s one that keeps asking, over and over, what it takes to be an upstanding citizen, which is something we’re forced to consider every day as we digest the latest headlines. The Good Place may not have all the answers — at least not yet — but it compels us to ponder what it means to have moral fiber just as often as it cracks us up. It’s an ethics lesson and a brilliant piece of escapism at a time when this country desperately needs both.

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Game of Thrones Season 8 Exclusive Report on the Epic

Game of Thrones Season 8 Exclusive Report on the Epic

When Kit Harington entered the conference room, he had no idea what to expect.

The final season’s scripts had been emailed just a couple of days earlier, sending the Game of Thrones cast into a reading frenzy. Like millions of fans around the world, the actors had been waiting nearly a decade to learn their characters’ fates. The entire six-episode season arrived at once, protected by layers of password security.

Sophie Turner flew through her copies in record time, quickly messaging the producers her reaction. “It was completely overwhelming,” says the actress, who plays Sansa Stark. “Afterwards I felt numb, and I had to take a walk for hours.” Others, like Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), first had to hurry home to get some privacy. “I turned to my best mate and was like, ‘Oh my God! I gotta go! I gotta go!’” she recalls. “And I completely flipped out.” She then settled in for a reading session with a cup of tea. “Genuinely the effect it had on me was profound,” Clarke adds. “That sounds insanely pretentious, but I’m an actor, so I’m allowed one pretentious adjective per season.” Peter Dinklage, meanwhile, broke his years-long habit of checking immediately to see if Tyrion Lannister survives. “This was the first time ever that I didn’t skip to the end,” he says.

Even showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss were uncharacteristically anxious, wondering how the actors would react to the climactic twists. “We knew exactly when our script coordinator sent them out, we knew what minute they sent them, and then you’re just waiting for the emails,” Benioff said.

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Game of Thrones – Season 8 on DVD

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The cast then journeyed to Belfast to gather in a production office for the formal read-through. By then, everybody knew the tale that was about to unfold, with two notable exceptions: Davos Seaworth actor Liam Cunningham (“The f—ing scripts wouldn’t open, the double extra security!” he grouses) and Harington, who outright refused to read anything in advance.

“I walked in saying, ‘Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know,’” Harington says. “What’s the point of reading it to myself in my own head when I can listen to people do it and find out with my friends?” So, yes: Jon Snow, quite literally, knew nothing.

Benioff and Weiss opened the proceedings by asking the cast to refrain from doing anything during filming or afterward that might reveal even the tiniest spoiler (“Don’t even take a photo of your boots on the ground of the set,” one actor recalls being told). And then, seated around a long table scattered with a few prop skulls, the cast read aloud the final season of Game of Thrones.

At one point, Harington wept.

Later, he cried a second time.

After the table read, the Game of Thrones cast spent 10 months filming just six episodes of television. But the season actually took far longer to pull off. GoT’s final chapters have been in the works for years. To better understand what’s ahead, let’s first go back to EW’s season 3 set visit and this never-before-revealed conversation with Benioff and Weiss…

The production camper was like many others on the set — barren, cramped, cold, utilitarian, with dirt on the floors from muddy boots tramping in and out all day. The showrunners sat on the same side of a tiny dinette booth while the wind coming off the Northern Ireland bay howled outside. They were already thinking about their final season, and it worried them.

During its second season, the fantasy drama averaged 10.3 million viewers across all platforms. That was enough to ensure they were eventually going to finish the series, yet that inevitability was also the problem. Because when they first pitched Thrones to HBO, they hadn’t exactly been honest. And now they were working every day toward a finale that was impossible to make.

“The lie we told is the show is contained and it’s about the characters,” Benioff said, which was at best half true. The epic fantasy was very much about its ensemble cast, but it’s also the least “contained” series ever made. “The worlds get so big, the battles get so massive.”

Game of Thrones Season 8 Exclusive Report on the Epic

Author George R.R. Martin, whose series of novels forms the basis for Thrones, had revealed to the duo the broad strokes of how his Song of Ice and Fire saga secretly ends, including a description of an epic final battle that’s been teased from the show’s very first scene. But this climactic confrontation was miles out of reach for a series that cost about $5 million per episode. “We have a very generous budget from HBO, but we know what’s coming down the line and, ultimately, it’s not generous enough,” Benioff said.

So the producers had an idea: The final season could be six hours long and released as three movies in theaters — just like Martin’s best-known influence, The Lord of the Rings. It’s not that the duo wanted to make movies per se, but it seemed like the only way to get the time and money needed to pull off their finale. “It’s what we’re working towards in a perfect world,” Weiss said. “We end up with an epic fantasy story but with the level of familiarity and investment in the characters that are normally impossible in a two-hour movie.”

The flaw in this plan was that HBO is about serving its subscribers, not taking gambles at the box office. Behind the scenes, the network brass gently shot down the movie idea. But executives assured Benioff and Weiss that they would eventually have everything they needed to make a final season that was “a summer tentpole-size spectacle.”

Years later, the producers would strike a deal with the network to spend two years on a shortened season 8 that would cost more than $15 million an episode. You could say HBO made good on that promise from 2012, and the showrunners will happily give the network full credit. “They put their money where their mouths are — literally stuffed their mouth full of million-dollar bills, which don’t exist anymore,” Weiss quips.

But it’s probably more accurate to say that since season 3, Benioff and Weiss willed their ambitious final season into reality the hard way: by growing Game of Thrones into the biggest show in the world, a hugely profitable pop culture and merchandising sensation with more than 30 million viewers an episode and a record number of Emmys. Only with that kind of leverage do your towering ambitions begin to look like reasonable requests.

In fact, the GoT team was so successful that the biggest sticking point in the agreement was persuading HBO to halt the series. “We want to stop where we — the people working on it, and the people watching it — both wish it went a little bit longer,” Benioff says. “There’s the old adage of ‘Always leave them wanting more,’ but also things start to fall apart when you stop wanting to be there. You don’t want to f— it up.”

That concern — a constant desire to conclude the show on the strongest possible note — is something we heard over and over from the cast and crew when we visited the GoT set for the last time.

Game of Thrones Season 8 Exclusive Report on the Epic
Good Witch Series 5 Episode List

Good Witch Series 5 Episode List

S5, Ep0
Good Witch: Tale of Two Hearts

Cassie’s precious family heirloom- a beautiful ruby. The Heart of Middleton-goes missing from the History of Halloween in Middleton museum exhibit just in time for the anniversary festival and masquerade gala

S5, Ep1
The Forever Tree, Part 1

Cassie and Sam’s wedding is just days away in the season five premiere of “Good Witch,” and the town of Middleton prepares for this highly anticipated event in “The Forever Tree: Part 1.” As Middleton’s resident enchantress Cassie (Catherine Bell) works on last-minute wedding preparations, Sam (James Denton) looks for the tree that her ancestor was married under as a wedding surprise. Though skeptical of Cassie’s world-traveling foster brother Vincent (Gianpaolo Venuta), Sam invites him to be part of the search. Grace (Bailee Madison) becomes troubled when little …

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Good Witch Season 5 DVD For Sale in UK
Good Witch Season 5 DVD For Sale in UK

Good Witch – Season 5 on DVD

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S5, Ep2
The Forever Tree, Pt. 2

Cassie (Catherine Bell) and Sam’s (James Denton) long-awaited wedding has finally arrived in ‘Good Witch,’ and they take an enchanting walk down the aisle in ‘The Forever Tree – Part 2.’ As Middleton prepares for the most enchanting event of the season, Sam receives some magical help from Grace (Bailee Madison) in finding the Forever Tree. However, the wedding brings up complex emotions for Grace, who becomes nostalgic for her late father, while Cassie worries her foster brother will let her down and miss the nuptials. Abigail (Sarah Power) steps up into her mayor …

S5, Ep3
The Honeymoon

Cassie and Sam celebrate their honeymoon at a country winery, where they help their hosts deal with a dilemma. Grace encounters her first heartbreak and Abigail holds a joint fundraiser with Mayor Donovan.

S5, Ep4
The Prince

Cassie (Catherine Bell) hosts a royal guest at Grey House in ‘The Prince.’ When shocking news emerges about the visiting royal, though, he risks hurting someone he’s grown to care for. Sam (James Denton) gets a visit from an old friend in need of his medical expertise but soon discovers that his cure may lie in Cassie’s intuition. Grace (Bailee Madison) starts an internship for Abigail (Sarah Power) at City Hall and faces fierce competition from a fellow intern. Their competition benefits Abigail, who needs all the help she can get when the rival mayor’s family tries …

S5, Ep5
The Tea

Cassie’s enchanting powers have always helped her friends in Middleton and a special elixir gives her magical gift a potent boost in ‘The Tea.’ Cassie serves a special tea to help Abigail (Sarah Power) open up during a date with her former nemesis (Marc Bendavid), newly reinstated mayor Martha (Catherine Disher) share her opinions with an artist painting her portrait, and two guests at Grey House reconnect. Meanwhile, Sam (James Denton) looks for help teaching his new resident a lesson in bedside manner. Disappointed after her top choice college rejects her, Grace (…

Good Witch Series 5 Episode List

S5, Ep6
The Road Trip

Cassie, Grace and Abigail visit Cassie’s alma mater, which is on Grace’s list of top choice colleges. While there, Cassie receives an honor and helps her old college friend, Willow (Kathy Najimy) make a choice about her future, and Grace gets to know the school by connecting with her weekend host who’s homesick. Left to watch Grey House, Sam (James Denton) and Nick (Rhys Matthew Bond) try to channel Cassie when helping father-son guests to communicate better. Meanwhile, Martha (Catherine Disher) switches to a hard-hitting gossip format to improve her TV show’s …

S5, Ep7
The Grey-cation

Martha and her husband, Tom, visit Grey House. Cassie and Sam realize that they still have some things to learn about one another. Donovan’s overbearing mother complicates his and Abigail’s relationship. Grace and Luke go on their first date.

S5, Ep8
The Treasure

A long-lost map drums up some excitement in Middleton, as adventure seekers spring into action in “The Treasure.” After finding the treasure map, Martha (Catherine Disher) sends Vincent (Gianpaolo Venuta) on a treasure hunt – which leads to an unexpected competition between Vincent and another treasure seeker. After finding out that his wish as a teenager was to make a discovery, Cassie (Catherine Bell) encourages Sam (James Denton) to keep his eyes open for mysteries to unlock, starting with this newly discovered map. Grace (Bailee Madison) is hurt to discover that …

Good Witch Series 5 Episode List

S5, Ep9
The Comet

A wish-granting comet heads to Middleton, adding even more anticipation to the exciting graduation season in ‘The Comet.’ As the rest of the town thinks of their one wish, Cassie (Catherine Bell) just wants the best for Sam (James Denton) when he is offered a dream job across the country after successfully performing a tricky surgery. Grace (Bailee Madison) prepares for her valedictorian speech, while Nick (Rhys Matthew Bond) becomes unexpectedly nostalgic as high school wraps up. Abigail (Sarah Power) plans a trip to Europe to forget about her breakup with Donovan (…

S5, Ep10
The Graduation

Grace and Nick’s graduation day arrives and Cassie tries her best to make the occasion truly magical.

Fear the Walking Dead 5 Showrunners Promise 'a big change coming'

Fear the Walking Dead 5 Showrunners Promise ‘a big change coming’

The call for help has been placed. At the end of season 5’s penultimate episode of Fear the Walking Dead, Morgan radioed to adversary Virginia for assistance after they had exhausted every other opportunity for survival. But what will be the cost of that call?

We spoke to Fear showrunners Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss to get their insight and intel on what to expect on Sunday night’s season finale. What does the arrival of Ginny and the Pioneers mean? Where’s Dwight off to? Will things wrap up neatly or with a cliffhanger? Goldberg and Chambliss say to prepare yourself for a “game-changing” moment that could set the stage for a whole new show in season 6.

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Fear The Walking Dead Season 5 DVD For Sale in UK
Fear The Walking Dead Season 5 DVD For Sale in UK

Fear The Walking Dead – Season 5 on DVD

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ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Give me some words you would you use to describe the season finale.
IAN GOLDBERG: Western, Hope, Despair.

Andrew, what do you want to add to that?
ANDREW CHAMBLISS: Ah, Ian took all the good words. Let’s see: Soggy. I’m just going to go with soggy.

We saw Morgan place the call to Virginia at the end of the last episode, so what does that mean moving into the finale?
GOLDBERG: Episode 515 was a very emotional episode for our group, and in a lot of ways it was about them making a stand against Ginny, both in the documentary they were making, but also in the way they were going about getting to the Gulch. They took this detour in order to get medicine for Grace, which led to them having to cross that bridge. And then Tom ended up losing his life and there were all these sacrifices that the group made. Ultimately, they ended in a place where they got to the Gulch and it wasn’t the place that they hoped it would be. So it was a rather big defeat. It was the last thing anybody wanted to do was to have to call and ask Virginia for help. But it was sort of a born out of necessity for their survival.

So when we find a group in the finale, they’re going to be in a pretty despondent place because they’re kind of doing exactly what they’ve been hoping to never have to do, which to take help from Virginia and to accept what that help means on her terms. So that’s where we’re going to find them and we’ll see how that ends up playing out over the course of the episode. But it’s certainly not a great place to start from for them.

Fear the Walking Dead 5 Showrunners Promise 'a big change coming'

Andrew, what can you add to that?
CHAMBLISS:
I think we’re going to really see everyone question what they’ve been doing and whether it’s a path they’re going to be able to continue to walk down once Ginny arrives. And a lot of it feels like it’s kind of a calm before a storm, but it’s something that they’re definitely going to have to face and really reckon with.

Well, the one person that is not there is Dwight. Obviously, he broke off from the pack and we see that. So what can you say in terms of what the finale holds for Dwight?
CHAMBLISS:
Obviously, Dwight is really triggered by the idea of accepting help from someone who is going to impose their way of living, their values on you just because of the ghost of Negan and the Saviors that you can see in Ginny and her people in a group that really tries to control you and doesn’t let you value the things you may have value. And I think what Dwight is going to learn over the course of the episode is that perhaps the people he has been with care about him more than he thought. And maybe not just that they care about him more than he thought, but that maybe he cares about them in the same way. We’ll see Dwight come to an understanding of who he is in a bigger way than he may have realized.

What can you all say in terms of how the season will end? Are things going to wrap up neatly or are we going to have a cliffhanger?
GOLDBERG:
Well, I believe it was at Comic-Con where we kind of hinted at the fact that we were hurdling toward a bit of a game-changing moment at the end of season 5. And this is the episode where that’s going to happen. And the audience is going to start to piece that together as they watch the episode. But by the end of it, you’ll really see what we meant when we alluded to it being a game changer because this finale is going to be very emotional. There’s going to be a lot of surprises and it’s also going to set up where we’re headed in season 6 in a lot of ways and you’ll see sort of the scaffolding for how those stories might play out. And you know, the way that we leave everyone will start to set up what season 6 is going to look like and you’ll see that it’s very different than a how season 5 played out.

Fear the Walking Dead 5 Showrunners Promise 'a big change coming'

CHAMBLISS: It really is reinventing the show. We’re always looking for ways from season to season or every half season to change up the narrative. And what we’re doing here is really trying to fundamentally change these characters and allow us to explore new sides of them we haven’t seen before. There is a big change coming.

Chernobyl disaster: 'I didn't know the truth'

Chernobyl disaster: ‘I didn’t know the truth’

It was the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident. In 1986, a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in then Soviet-controlled Ukraine exploded, sending a radioactive plume across Europe.

The effects were devastating and the disaster’s impact was felt across the world.

The story of the accident – and its human cost – is being brought to the small screen in a Sky-Atlantic drama starring Jared Harris, Emily Watson, Stellan Skarsgård and Jessie Buckley.

Written by Craig Mazin (who also wrote the Hangover film sequels) and directed by Johan Renck (who also directed episodes of Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead), Chernobyl aims to “bring to life the true story of the unprecedented tragedy”.

The film follows the fall-out of the explosion and examines both the lives of those in power who tried to hide the truth and those on the outside who hoped to uncover it.

Oscar-nominated actress Watson portrays Ulana Khomyuk, a Soviet nuclear physicist intent on finding out how and why the Chernobyl disaster happened.

“She’s an amalgam of the [real-life] scientists who worked on the situation,” Watson explains.

“Her currency is she’s a brilliant scientist and if she can get the facts out, he [Soviet physicist Valery Legasov, played by Jared Harris] will recognise the truth. They [those in power] came close to annihilating the whole of Europe.

“[When] they sent me the script, I instantly thought, ‘This is brilliant, I want to be part of it.’

“It’s seen as an historical event but it’s still ongoing,” she says.

Chernobyl: The end of a three-decade experiment

Ulana appears fearless as she pushes for her voice to be heard amidst a cacophony of Soviet propaganda.

“Her character is from Belarus – they suffered terrible atrocities during World War Two, great swathes of the population were wiped out.

“She would have been a small child at that time and lived through some appalling things. She’s very tough and that’s made her very strong,” Watson explains.

“This is her moment, it’s a call to arms. She just takes the attitude that the science doesn’t lie.”

Buckley, who recently starred in TV drama War and Peace and the film Wild Rose, plays real-life character Lyudmilla Ignatenko.

As the wife of firefighter Vasily Ignatenko, she was one of the first on the scene when the explosion occurred.

Buckley also says that joining the cast was a no-brainer.

“I read the script and was completely blown away by it,” she says.

“You just want to do as honest a job as possible.”

Indeed, Lyudmilla’s anguish and panic as the drama unfolds makes for a harrowing watch.

Chernobyl disaster: 'I didn't know the truth'

The legacy of Chernobyl

According to the UN, the event affected more than 3.5 million people and contaminated nearly 50,000 square kilometres of land.

The number of people killed by the disaster remains disputed.

The first emergency workers rushed in as lethal smoke billowed out. Of 134 who were diagnosed with acute radiation sickness, 28 died within months. At least 19 have died since.

It is conclusive that around 5,000 cases of thyroid cancer – most of which were treated and cured – were caused by the contamination.

Many suspect that the radiation has or will cause other cancers, but the evidence is patchy.

Amid reports of other health problems – including birth defects – it still is not clear if any can be attributed to radiation.

The Irish actress hadn’t worked with Watson before but their paths had crossed.

“I had met Emily over a coffee through Bafta Breakthrough, they set up a mentor thing – and I just think she’s so fantastic. And I said, ‘I’m going to do this thing about Chernobyl,’ and she said, ‘I want to do that!’ So that was nice.”

Buckley wasn’t born when the disaster happened but she says she still “had a relationship with Chernobyl” through her memories of a Chernobyl charity which gives sick children from the area a chance to recuperate in Ireland with host families.

But Watson was a student when it occurred.

Chernobyl disaster: 'I didn't know the truth'

“I remember people at my college were studying in Kiev at the time but I really had no idea of the extent of it or the human sacrifice involved,” she says.

“An accident at Chernobyl is not convenient to the powers that be, hence they cover it up. Turns out there was a design flaw all along. There couldn’t be more of a warning from history.”

Buckley says she “was scared playing Lyudmilla because it’s so real and it’s so unbelievable what happened”.

In fact, she’s a revelation in Chernobyl, conveying the impending sense of doom, often with little dialogue.

Hers is the human face of the disaster, a symbol of the impact on ordinary lives – lives which are given little value as politicians and senior plant workers scramble to cover up the truth for their own ends.

Buckley didn’t speak to the real Lyudmilla as part of her research (“she wants to get on with her life”) but says: “Johan and Craig were so ruthless in making everyone aware of the truth.”

Watson concurs: “I have great respect for Craig and Johan… the amount of research was astonishing. I think it’s a brilliant piece of writing.”

Buckley also studied first-hand accounts and watched a documentary about her character.

“I felt a huge responsibility playing Lyudmilla, I wanted to tell her story as honestly as I could. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like but I really hope I have managed to be as honest and truthful as I can so everyone can realise that lives were lost because of lies.

“It’s not an historical event – it’s something that happened, that continues to happen. When I open my eyes to it, it’s terrifying.

“But also it’s [about] the complete sacrifice of these firefighters and [other] people made not to just save themselves but to save the world.”

Health Care in the Time of Grey's Anatomy Season 15

Health Care in the Time of Grey’s Anatomy Season 15

How medical television shows have shaped people’s perceptions of doctors and diseases.

It is hard to overemphasize how much I loved Grey’s Anatomy in high school. I loved it superstitiously. Due to a weird set of coincidences, I truly believed that if Grey’s Anatomy wasn’t new that week, I would have a bad week. At the time, it aired on Sunday nights, and I took it as an omen. I would show up to school Monday morning filled with dread after a rerun.

I don’t blame Shonda Rhimes for my misfortunes anymore. But hours (or, more accurately, probably days) of watching Grey’s, Scrubs, and other medical TV shows has still shaped my life, if research is any indication. Several studies have shown that people who watch a lot of medical shows are more likely to believe certain things about doctors, and about healthcare.

Admittedly, these medical shows provide a skewed image of the healthcare system at best. Surely no hospital has had as many romantic pairings as the doctors on Grey’s (whose 11th season starts next month), and I have to imagine bedpan racing in the workplace is … frowned upon.

Health Care in the Time of Grey's Anatomy Season 15

Though you might think that people are perfectly capable of separating television from reality, cultivation theory suggests they cannot, entirely. The theory goes that the social reality people are exposed to on TV shapes their attitudes toward real social reality, and it does so, of course, in subtle and complicated ways that are hard to nail down. Prevailing societal attitudes obviously influence what goes on TV, too, further complicating the relationship.

“Television, movies, books, all of these things, a lot of people like to believe they’re just fun and games, that they really don’t affect us, it’s just entertainment,” says Dr. Rebecca M. Chory, a professor in Frostburg State University’s business school who has studied TV’s influence on attitudes toward healthcare. “But the research consistently shows that’s not true.”

A 2005 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the majority of primetime TV viewers reported learning something new about a disease or other health issue over six months of viewing. About one-third of viewers took some kind of action after learning about a health issue on TV.

Many medical shows have physicians consult for accuracy, and an article in the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics notes that starting with ER in the ’90s, TV shows began using more detailed medical jargon to describe conditions and procedures. But there are still inconsistencies. Treatments for patients with seizures are sometimes downright dangerous, with doctors trying to hold patients down, or put things in their mouths (they could choke). Patients tend to survive cardiac arrest more often on television than they do in real life, making CPR seem more effective than it often is.

Health Care in the Time of Grey's Anatomy Season 15

“That can lead to a misunderstanding as to the likelihood of a patient or loved one surviving a cardiac arrest,” says Dr. David Brown, chair of the department of emergency medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. “But it isn’t really good TV if everybody dies, right?”

What does make for good TV: Rare diseases. Injuries. Natural disasters. Which means the amount of screen time given to different conditions isn’t proportional to how common those diseases are in real life, according to a new study published in Human Communication Research. People flock to these shows, after all, first and foremost to be entertained. So less sensational, more quotidian conditions like diabetes are underrepresented.

As a result, “a fan of medical dramas … can develop a skewed perception of what are more or less prevalent health issues in the real world,” study author Dr. Jae Eun Chung, an assistant professor in the school of communication at Howard University, told me in an email. Heavy viewers of medical dramas in her study were less likely to rate cardiovascular disease and cancer as important societal issues (when they are, in fact, the top two causes of death in the U.S.), and when it came to cancer, they were more fatalistic, “more likely to say that cancer prevention is uncertain and that the disease is fatal.”

On TV, the patients that have these compelling rare diseases are played by a revolving door of guest stars. The characters we really get to know are the doctors themselves. And the way doctors have been portrayed on television has changed markedly over the years. Medical shows in the ’50s and ’60s, like City Hospital, Dr. Kildare, and Ben Casey, showed doctors as noble, infallible heroes. These shows apparently received “creative input and guidance from the American Medical Association,” according to an article in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Review New Amsterdam Season 1 Puts Patients First Subtlety Last

Review New Amsterdam Season 1 Puts Patients First Subtlety Last

It seemed strange that, out of the billions of word combinations possible in the English language, NBC’s medical drama “New Amsterdam” chose the precise title used by another series, about an immortal police officer, a decade ago.

But after seeing the first two episodes, I can think of one reason: “The Good Doctor” was already in use.

While the series, beginning Tuesday, doesn’t borrow the title from ABC’s hit of last season, it seems to borrow a philosophy: that viewers are anxious about a health care system that is inattentive to individuals, and they’ll reward a show that tells them the simple answer is “putting patients first.”

Heartfelt, well-meaning and dull, “New Amsterdam” is determined to fill that prescription, however many tearful bedside scenes and Bon Iver montages it takes to do it.

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New Amsterdam Season 1 DVD For Sale in UK
New Amsterdam Season 1 DVD For Sale in UK

New Amsterdam – Season 1 on DVD

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The series centers on Dr. Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold), the idealistic new director of the title hospital, a public institution modeled on New York City’s Bellevue. He’s out to change things, fast.

He fires nearly the entire cardiac unit for “putting billing over care.” He pitches patient-centric ideas to a stone-faced hospital board. He advocates for a Haitian patient who wants a traditional “protection ritual” before surgery, over doctors’ objections. He asks the staff, repeatedly, in English and Spanish, “How can I help?”

He does it all with good will, self-sacrifice and a warm, stubbly smile. He may not be The Good Doctor, but he is The Goodwin Doctor.

Mr. Eggold has an easy charisma, but in the first two episodes, it’s all too easy — the scripts prove him right, over and over, and his staff, freed to act in patients’ interests, have success after success. It’s great for health care but less so for drama.

Instead, “New Amsterdam” piles on personal woes. Goodwin is diagnosed with cancer, on top of which he’s about to become a father, on top of which his marriage is in jeopardy — he’s been an inattentive husband to Georgia (Lisa O’Hare), because he cares so damn much about his work.

Review New Amsterdam Season 1 Puts Patients First Subtlety Last

There’s the expected drama among the supporting staff as well, like Dr. Floyd Reynolds (Jocko Sims) and Dr. Lauren Bloom (Janet Montgomery), whose budding romance is stalled because of his concerns about interracial relationships (he’s black, she’s white). The hospital’s public-service mission, plus an affiliation with the United Nations, provides a diverse rotation of patients, whose cases raise questions of how culture can affect treatment.

But it all feels too smooth and forgettable. The show is rooted in a serious concern — the health care system feels in many ways broken and defies easy answers — but it does all it can to simply say, yes, the answers are exactly this easy. All it takes is one guy who cares a lot to free up everyone under him who cares just as much.

As it happens, there’s a handy contrast, airing on PBS the same night “New Amsterdam” begins its rounds: “The Mayo Clinic: Faith – Hope – Science,” Ken Burns’s two-hour history of the “secular temple” of medicine (in the interviewee Tom Brokaw’s words) in Rochester, Minn.

Review New Amsterdam Season 1 Puts Patients First Subtlety Last

The documentary’s structure, jumping between history and contemporary patient stories, is a bit choppy, but the themes are timely. It deals with some of the same dynamics that drive “New Amsterdam,” particularly the tension between the business of medicine and the practice of it.

The Mayo Clinic operates on the same “putting patients first” mantra as Goodwin, but that requires a lot more than a slogan and good intentions. In large part, the film argues, it’s about money and institutional structure, in particular the medical center’s policy of putting doctors on salary, which eliminates financial incentives for using expensive procedures or spending less time with each patient.

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