It’s as hard to keep a longform television narrative going as it is to raise a child. Sometimes shorter forms are tempting, with old-hat conventions like climax and closure. But these longform series now have a pressing ambition to be as good as the best modern novels. That raises an awkward question: Are we watching the predicament of the characters, or the cornered rat antics of the writers?
There’s a scene toward the end of the first episode of Showtime’s new drama “Masters of Sex” in which two test subjects embrace on a bed in a hospital laboratory. Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson, the real-life sex researchers from St. Louis’s Washington University who performed trailblazing studies on human subjects in the years before the sexual revolution, watch silently through a pane of glass. A scroll of paper charting the subjects’ heart rates unspools onto the floor nearby.
Robert Baer is a former CIA case officer who served everywhere from Iraq to the former Soviet Union. (The 2005 film Syriana, starring George Clooney, was an adaptation of several of his books about the intelligence world.) Who better, then, to discuss Season 3 of “Homeland,” which premiered last night on Showtime? Every Monday, Baer and New Republic Senior Editor Isaac Chotiner will chat about the previous night’s episode. The conversations contain spoilers.
The TV poster has evolved from marketing tool into artistic enterprise.
Showtime gives us a macho Olivia Pope and a new TV archetype
Ray Donovan; Olivia Pope; Michael Clayton. Why is pop culture so fixated on the professional fixer?
In a new documentary, Cheney gives a masterful performance
The World According To Dick Cheney, a documentary that airs March 15 on Showtime, includes so fine an acoustical solo performance by its subject that it could be titled Dick Cheney Unplugged. Listening to Cheney’s quiet, calm voice, Nicholas Lemann observed a dozen years ago in the New Yorker, was like