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Monday, July 14, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 62.0° F  Fair
The Daily

TELEVISION

Hell on Wheels is a ripping frontier yarn

Hell on Wheels is the rare contemporary Western that actually registers as credible. The subject is the construction of the transcontinental railroad after the Civil War. That may sound prosaic, but the production has the epic quality of genre classics like The Searchers and High Noon, digging into the blood-red guts of our frontier history. >More
 Wild boars get the upper hand in American Hoggers

Truth be told, the title American Hoggers didn't fill me with anticipation for this new reality series. But it turns out to be a fascinating look at boar hunters in Texas, where the feral beasts are terrorizing landowners. Veteran hog expert Jerry Campbell and his kids come to the rescue with horses, lassos and hounds equipped with GPS tracking systems -- and despite all the weaponry, it's still a fair fight. >More
 Pearl Jam is immortalized in a Cameron Crowe documentary

I prefer Nirvana to Pearl Jam, but now Pearl Jam have something their Seattle rivals don't: a career-capping documentary by a brilliant filmmaker. American Masters' "Pearl Jam Twenty" was directed by Cameron Crowe, known for Jerry Maguire and Say Anything, as well as his side career as a Rolling Stone music journalist. Crowe does justice to 1990s grunge with ferocity and wit, putting as much creative energy into his art as Pearl Jam do into theirs. >More
 Man Up gets modern dudes just right

I usually wince when a network sitcom panders to the 18-to-49 male demographic (see this year's Last Man Standing, last year's Traffic Lights). But the new Man Up hits this demographic where it hurts. It's a brilliant satire of male pretension and male pride, so painfully on target that it might drive away the very viewers it seeks to attract. >More
 Laura Dern finds intermittent serenity in Enlightened

Laura Dern joins the list of brilliant actresses (Edie Falco, Laura Linney, Toni Collette) who have made cable TV an exciting place to be. Dern created and produced Enlightened, a new drama about -- sorry, there's no other way to put this -- life. She stars as Amy, a corporate executive who spectacularly loses it in the office after her affair with a married coworker goes bad. >More
 Suburgatory sets out to destroy the suburbs

Suburgatory runs roughshod through the suburbs, laying waste to the malls and manicured lawns. This new satire stars Jane Levy as Tessa, a Greenwich Village wild child whose dad moves her to suburban hell for a supposedly more wholesome life. >More
 A would-be Eden goes awry in Terra Nova

At the beginning of Terra Nova, Earth is undergoing environmental collapse. So a couple -- doctor Shelley Conn and cop Jason O'Mara -- take their three kids on a risky trip into the past with a group of pilgrims. They wind up 85 million years ago, where an enigmatic leader named Taylor (Stephen Lang) sets up a colony amid the lush primordial forest. >More
 Bad parenting leads to good comedy in Up All Night

Up All Night offers an age-old sitcom premise -- a clueless couple who aren't ready for parenthood -- and makes it feel fresh and contemporary. Chris (Will Arnett) is an overgrown kid who stays home to raise the baby, Reagan (Christina Applegate) a former party girl who goes back to her old job. >More
 Ringer allows Sarah Michelle Gellar to flop in two roles

In Ringer, Sarah Michelle Gellar plays Bridget, a former prostitute/stripper/addict who goes on the lam rather than testify against a ruthless killer. Bridget hooks up with her evil twin sister, Siobhan -- also played by Gellar -- who conveniently disappears. >More
 How our leaders dealt with 9/11

There will be many documentaries about 9/11 over the next week as we mark the tragedy's 10th anniversary. I recommend 9/11: Day That Changed the World, which offers a minute-by-minute account of how the people in charge dealt with the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. >More
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