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Wednesday, September 17, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 68.0° F  A Few Clouds
The Daily

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Hope for the Oscars

I'm trying to be optimistic about the Academy Awards. I hold out hope for an enjoyable ceremony even after last year's fiasco with hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway; even after Eddie Murphy dropped out of hosting this year's event in favor of the (too?) familiar Billy Crystal. >More
 Battleground, Episode 2 recap: Who Is Claire Villareal?

Battleground sinks its docu-dramedy roots into the soils of both story and Madison milieu in its second episode. While the pilot offered basic character introductions amid a war room setting, this slice of the primary campaign starts spinning a web of personal connections and conflicts among its young staffers. >More
 PBS chronicles Bill Clinton's soap-opera presidency

In 2008, American Experience presented a whitewashed portrait of President George H.W. Bush's presidency, presumably to avoid Republican charges of liberal bias. Bush's successor, Bill Clinton, gets a more balanced treatment in a new two-part documentary. I guess PBS doesn't worry about Democratic charges of conservative bias. >More
 Battleground, Episode 1 recap: Meet the campaign staff for Deirdre Samuels

A new online series from Hulu, Battleground proves itself worthy of comparison to The Office, Parks and Recreation and other sophisticated modern sitcoms. It's another droll one-camera workplace dramedy shot on film, with a faux documentary conceit. You may feel like you've seen one too many of those, but Battleground distinguishes itself with strong writing and acting, not to mention a distinctive setting. >More
 MLK: The Assassination Tapes re-creates a tragic event

MLK: The Assassination Tapes re-creates the days before and after Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination using contemporary TV and radio reports, most of them not broadcast since 1968. It gives you the feeling that you're living through the civil rights leader's last minutes along with the people from back then. >More
 The River discovers unnatural phenomena in the Amazon

The River is a new series that crosses Heart of Darkness with The Blair Witch Project, to good effect. Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood) was beloved for his TV nature series, in which he explored the world with his perfect family: son Lincoln (Joe Anderson) and wife Tess (Leslie Hope). As The River begins, Emmet is presumed dead in the Amazon, and Tess drags a reluctant Lincoln and a camera crew out in search of him. >More
 Luck struggles to be a good show about bad people

HBO specializes in making appealing shows about unappealing men, like Tony in The Sopranos or Nucky Thompson in Boardwalk Empire. Luck is the latest attempt -- a racetrack tale of crooks (Dustin Hoffman), horse owners (Nick Nolte) and assorted gamblers. The talent on board is impressive, from Hoffman and Nolte to filmmakers Michael Mann (The Insider) and David Milch (Hill Street Blues). But in the pilot, they can't get us to care about these awful people. >More
 Phil Ochs: Strumming for peace

Phil Ochs was a singer-guitarist at the heart of the 1960s protest-folk movement. "Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune" on American Masters explores his passionate commitment to peace and justice, as he strummed his way through endless anti-segregation and anti-war demonstrations. >More
 JD Walsh previews new Hulu political drama Battleground, shot in Madison

Madisonians are plugged in politically, but many of us were confused by the campaign bus that came to town last fall advertising "Deirdre Samuels for Senate." Who the heck is Deirdre Samuels? We'll find out on Feb. 14, when Battleground premieres on the popular streaming website Hulu.com. >More
 A hunky outsider gets his man in The Finder

If I had a dime for every pilot that failed at being simultaneously exciting, funny, sexy and poignant, I'd be able to finance my own series. (Title: Teenage Mutant Ninja TV Critic.) But The Finder actually gets the job done, thanks to a rare combination of great acting, writing and filmmaking. >More
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