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Anna Torv's Olivia and Julianna Margulies' Alicia: My TV role models

One of my favorite things about Fringe from the very first episode has been the nuanced performance Anna Torv brings to her FBI agent Olivia Dunham. She’s a study in determination, bravery, and even restraint. Olivia’s got this delicate beauty that is offset by the severe ponytail she often wears and the purposeful stride she adopts in her workplace. She’s hardened because the circumstances (and her childhood) warrant it, but is undoubtedly feminine. We’ve seen her dedication to the job as well as her devotion to her loved ones.

After sitting back and appreciating Olivia’s role in the amazing winter finale of Fringe last night (read Ken Tucker’s very astute recap), I realized that my two favorite women on TV right now (Torv’s Olivia and Julianna Margulies’ Alicia Florrick on The Good Wife) have quite a few things in common. Alicia is a woman done wrong who’s figuring out how to do right by everyone, including herself. Like Olivia, her woman is that rare thing seen on TV: seemingly stoic while managing complex emotions. They don’t devolve into hysterics or wear their emotions on their sleeves or act self-destructively. Their ability to keep themselves composed can come off cold but they’ve both been written and played to show so many dimensions to their character. They are no-nonsense, capable women with really deep, complicated emotions who get things done despite the stressful situations they’re dealing with. They are extremely competent and compassionate, while being measured and thoughtful. It hit me: They’re my new TV role models!

No one’s beating out Claire Huxtable on my list of TV women I want to be, but who wouldn’t want to aspire to be like these two?  No, I don’t want to deal with alternate realities and freaky occurrences or a public-figure spouse who’s humiliated his family. But I do want to glean something from their examples of grace under pressure. That (along with the excellent writing and fine casts) is what makes these shows good TV and makes me show up week after week.

So who is your current TV role model? Should anyone else be on my list?


This week's cover: 'Fringe' and the Fall TV Preview!

EW-cover-1065-1066_lWith a long rerun-and-reality-packed summer behind us, the new TV season is finally here. And as always, Entertainment Weekly’s Fall TV Preview – on stands this week – has all the crucial info you need to navigate your remote control as television roars back. Amongst the early reviews, interviews, insight, and plot hints for shows both new and returning, our double issue takes a deep dive into the gory, witty world of Fox’s Fringe with Jeff “Doc” Jensen.

Last year’s most heavily hyped new drama, Fringe was engineered by creators J.J. Abrams and screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci to be a high-impact hybrid of The X-Files and CSI – a serious yet accessible sci-fi series. Though the highly anticipated thriller started shakily, making geeks wonder if Abrams and his reliably mind-bending production company had finally let them down, Fringe ended its first year with a finale filled with insane, chat-room-exploding twists that won over a skeptical fan base. Now Fringe will try to maintain its momentum in TV’s most competitive time slot, Thursdays at 9, against CSI and Grey’s Anatomy. But if Fringe is to thrive, Abrams’ team will have to apply the lessons learned from its rocky first season. Says Abrams: “It’s going to sound weird, but a show starts talking to you and telling you what it wants to be. It took us a while to hear it.” READ FULL STORY

J.J. Abrams: Pop-culture polymath

ewu_logoWelcome back to our EW University course on TV Auteurs — a look at some of the people who have had a major role in shaping the medium over the last 50 years. Today, Prof. Dan Snierson offers his overview of the work of J.J. Abrams.

If you had to sum up J.J. Abrams neatly in just one word, it would be …  kinda hard to do. He’s a cross-genre, multi-medium hyphenate who flies a geek flag of many colors. (The boy who grew up on The Twilight Zone, Mission Impossible, Get Smart, James Bond, and Star Wars has crafted a TV resume that boasts credits as diverse as Felicity and Fringe; his movie credits range from Regarding Henry to Cloverfield.) His projects tend to be smart, layered, splashy, angsty, laced with mystery and/or mythology — plus they just might contain an It Girl in the making (see: Keri Russell, Jennifer Garner). He’s also known for delving into virtually every part of the creative process. Not only does he write, direct, and produce, the guy has penned the theme music and designed the opening credits for some of his shows. (Heck, he’s even popped up a few times in front of the camera. Check out his decent acting chops in 1993’s Six Degrees of Separation). Fact is, he’s had Hollywood on the brain for a very long time: The son of TV producer Gerald W. Abrams, he started making little films on a Super 8 camera as a kid; while a student at Sarah Lawrence College, he co-wrote the treatment for what would become the 1990 comedy Taking Care of Business. While these days Abrams is a sought-after talent in the movie world — he recently helmed the critically and commercially successful reboot of Star Trek — we’re going to focus here on his notable television work. Herewith, a look at the four iconic TV creations of J.J. Abrams. READ FULL STORY

'Fringe' and 'Glee' getting 'tweet-peats' this week

fringe_lGlee and Fringe are jumping into the future (sort of) with “tweet-peats” this week, Fox’s cute idea to broadcast reruns with real-time commentary from the producers and stars, provided via everyone’s favorite social media blogging platform. Fringe‘s Josh Jackson and John Noble will be tweeting up a storm on Thursday @FringeOnFox), discussing last season’s penultimate episode, and on Friday, Glee‘s Kevin McHale and Lea Michele will be tweeting a director’s cut of the show’s pilot (@GleeOnFox). READ FULL STORY

Must List Live!: Anna Torv of 'Fringe' is loving a co-star's former show, and it's not 'Dawson's Creek'

Poor Pacey. Joshua Jackson may have a resumé that includes Dawson’s Creek, but it is the work of another Fringe co-star that has Anna Torv currently obsessed. Who’s the lucky soul and what’s the lucky show? Well, let’s just say Anna has very good taste. All will be revealed on this special celebrity edition of Must List Live! It also turns out that Ms. Torv has a hankering for a certain Denis Leary drama. Confused? (Good, that’s how I often feel watching Fringe!) The video below holds all the answers.

The Great Sci-Fi Divide: Why don't we want science fiction on TV?

Johnconner_lTwo weeks ago, Fox aired what was probably the final episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, a pretty solid sci-fi show which nevertheless suffered from guttery ratings. Two weeks from now, Terminator Salvation will premiere in theaters — where it will likely make somewhere in the vicinity of $90 million in its first weekend, regardless of how "good" it is. Two separate extentions of the same franchise: one will be labeled a failure, the other a ginormous hit. Why?

Why don’t we want science fiction on television anymore?

addCredit(“Timothy White; Dekker: Frank Ockenfels/Fox”)


Leonard Nimoy and 'Fringe': A match made in geek heaven?

Leonardnimoy_lMany, many moons ago, I was waiting anxiously for the elevator here at the L.A. bureau of EW. When the doors whooshed open, I nearly crashed into the person who was trying to exit. That person was none other than…Leonard Nimoy! He proved to be a delightful gentleman, especially given my poor elevator etiquette. I guess what I’m trying to say is: I should get used to seeing Nimoy pop up in cool, unexpected places. As my esteemed colleague Michael Ausiello has learned, J.J. Abrams will beam up the Star Trek vet to his Fox drama Fringe.

Nimoy — who also appears in Abrams’ big-screen reboot of Trek — will play the role of…William Bell. Yes, that oft-referenced founder of the shady corporation Massive Dynamic who used to be lab buddies with Walter Bishop (John Noble). Now, I’ve been wondering who might wind up in this role (Donald Sutherland? William Devane?), but Nimoy wasn’t on my guess list. But you know what? I’m in. I can see Nimoy infusing William with an air of reserved mystery that could provide a nice counterbalance to the freaky, filter-free Walter. The opportunity for a geektastic showdown on this increasingly addictive sci-fi drama also looms large. But enough of my conjecture — what do you think, PopWatchers? Will you tune in to see the joining of forces between Nimoy and Fringe?

addCredit(“Todd Williamson/FilmMagic.com”)

Ausiello TV: Scoop from 'Bones,' 'Fringe,' and '24,' plus: Annie acts like a total idiot!

You may recall how I valiantly stripped professional hack Michael Ausiello of his own EW.com video series back in December. We’ve finally reached a compromise that I think works out well for everyone involved, but particularly me. The scoopy one and I are even on decent speaking terms. SPOTTED: M pitching in a quarter for A in the caf just now b/c she didn’t have enough $$ for yogurt-covered pretzels. XOXO. Press play below for ridiculata…featuring a J.J. Abrams cameo!

Blair Brown lends a solid supporting hand to 'Fringe'

Ninasharparm_lCall me an X-Files diehard with a soft spot for Alias, but Fox’s new series Fringe isn’t measuring up to either of those classic series. (And that bland Anna Torv—oh, do I miss Gillian Anderson’s Dana Scully.) Yet I’ll say one thing for J.J. Abrams: He does serve up a class-A roster of supporting actors. Kirk Acevedo from Oz, Lance Reddick from the dear departed The Wire, and most especially, the incomparable Blair Brown. Speaking of the erstwhile Molly Dodd, why has Abrams thus far relegated her to the show’s, ahem, fringes…and saddled her wily corporate COO with that hoary horror fixture, an artificial arm?

To give Abrams his due, prosthetic hands have clawed their way through pop culture from Peter Pan’s Captain Hook to many a film and urban folktale. James Bond fanatics will, of course, recall Joseph Wiseman’s deadly metallic digits in Dr. No. Barely a year later, Peter Sellers mock-choked himself on screen with an artificial hand as the wheelchair-bound Dr. Strangelove. In the ‘90s, slasher films like Candyman, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Urban Legend accessorized marauding madmen with prosthetic weaponry. Most recently, there was the murderous hook-handed T-Bag of Prison Break. Admittedly, not only mad scientists and killers have sported artificial appendages—witness William Devane’s Vietnam-vet vigilante in 1977’s Rolling Thunder.

With that history in mind, consider Brown’s Nina Sharp: Is her physical impairment a tip-off to her possibly villainous nature? Or, more hopefully, does her willingness to display it infuse this tough, steely survivor of cancer and corporate intrigue with a glimmer of vulnerability? Does her prosthetics portend future revelations about Massive Dynamics’ excursions into bionics, nanotechnology, and human enhancement? Is there a tie-in with the show’s theme of humanity enmeshed in technology gone wild, in a world blurring the boundaries of nature and artifice? Ponder this, PopWatchers, and set your fingers to talking…be they God-given or man-made.

More on Fringe:
Review: Fringe
PopWatch: Fringe Snap Judgment
Fringe premiere ratings
Fringe vs. Terminator: Which has the cooler office?

'Fringe': Which scene grossed you out most?

Afternoon, PopWatchers. Hopefully by now you’ve digested your lunch, because it’s time to play "What part of last night’s Fringe made you lose your dinner?"

Yes, I think it’s safe to say this episode topped even the face-melting pilot in terms of nastiness, what with all the bleeding eyes, exploding heads, and abundant skeeziness of Chris "Digger Stiles" Eigeman (in the form of villain Dr. David Esterbrook). I know I immediately regretted my dinner of spaghetti and meatballs after watching an entire diner full of patrons get their brains boiled by a human microwave. Then, one of the female customers went kablooey, and a few minutes later, we were treated to a nice, stomach-turning view of what remained of her head. Of course, seeing a poor rat (it didn’t even have hair!) suffer the same fate might have been worse. (I know, I know, it happened under a sheet. That doesn’t make it any better, and I’m sure PETA would agree.) So, since I can’t decide which scene was most vomitrocious, let’s put it to a vote. (And if you missed all the grossness, we’ve captured some stomach-turning screengrabs, which you can find after the jump!)


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