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Sunday, October 26, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 50.0° F  Fair
The Daily


American Idol matters. No, seriously!

I used to be American Idol's biggest fan, but by now most of us know it's jumped the shark. After a string of bland winners -- Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze, Scotty McCreery -- we realize that the show will most likely disappoint us after its long process of sifting and winnowing. >More
 Battleground, Episode 13 recap: Did You Win?

Campaign manager Tak Davis steals the show in this finale episode. Davis shows both his most human side, the craven opportunistic side that means he'll never be a family man, and his most flawed side, in which he'll never be a really good campaign manager, either. >More
 Whoooo's Johnny? America's favorite late-night host was a mystery man

Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show for 30 years, inviting himself into American homes with the salutation "Heeeere's Johnny!" An American Masters profile begins with fellow stars praising Carson in familiar ways. He had the best jokes; he had a gift for making his guests look good; he had universal appeal. Well, okay. >More
 Battleground, Episode 12 recap: He's Better Than Television

When it comes to holidays in Madison, there's really nothing like Halloween. Nobody's out of town to visit family or on break, costumes abound among adults at work as well as with kids at school, parties are ubiquitous, football reigns supreme, and there's an air of mirth throughout. When it precedes a big Election Day, the atmosphere is even more charged, as the season of politics crescendos simultaneously with the fanciful revelry. >More
 Madison actor Sam White appears in Hulu's Battleground

Sam White is not a forgettable guy: Gray hair, stocky build, exceedingly friendly, with a decent-sized chunk of performing ham. He's been plying the theater trade in Madison for the last couple of decades, appearing both on and behind the stage with just about every company in town. >More
 Masterpiece Mystery makes Sherlock Holmes a hunk

Last year, Masterpiece Mystery's "Sherlock" did Sherlock Holmes a favor by plunking him down in our own time. The contemporary setting revived the detective franchise, rescuing it from period-piece quaintness. The new Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) is, in modern parlance, a hunk. ("Brainy is the new sexy," as a female admirer puts it.) He's become an Internet phenomenon thanks to a blog by sidekick Dr. Watson (Martin Freeman). And he's a recognizable 21st-century type: a jerk. >More
 The Borgias sets the standard for depravity

With their greed, brutality and lust -- not to mention their Italian Renaissance duds -- the Borgias make the Sopranos look practically modest. Neil Jordan's The Borgias, based on the powerful 15th-century family, wallows in deliriously bad behavior in season two. >More
 Battleground, Episode 11 recap: Nothing About Chile

A new WKOW poll puts Wisconsin State Sen. Deirdre Samuels (Meighan Gerachis) within three points of her rival, Gov. Creighton, in the race for U.S. Senate. This is great news for the feisty Samuels campaign staff, but it has a downside: increased attention from the Democratic National Committee. >More
 Game of Thrones has a taste for torture

Season two of Game of Thrones is in full swing, with five kings battling to claim the Iron Throne in fantastical Westeros. The series remains compelling and confusing, as a huge cast of characters jostle for survival in a realm of knights, savages and dragons. This universe is stunningly rendered, from the torch-lit castles to the wolf-infested woods. The actors give the antique dialogue the ring of authority, and they look striking both in and out of clothing. >More
 Battleground, Episode 10 recap: Flashback

The entire episode is framed as "Demo-Crazy '04," itself an episode of the fictional Reel Life, an MTV News-style documentary show from "Global Music Television." The host, a convincingly treacly reporter -- expertly portrayed by Dave Holmes, who actually appeared on MTV in the late '90s -- paces Bascom Hill in a down jacket throughout and frames the footage of the Makers and Thompson campaigns preparing for a debate in the 2004 campaign as a melodrama. >More
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