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    Masters of Sex, Ep. 1.11: “Phallic Victories” punctuated with incisive acting and writing flourishes

    Masters of Sex, Season 1, Episode 11: “Phallic Victories” Written by Amy Lippman Directed by Phil Abraham Airs Sundays at 9pm ET on Showtime As the first season of Masters of Sex draws to a close, it’s worth taking stock of the series’ considerable contribution to the televisual landscape, even for those among us (myself […] More

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    Homeland, Ep. 3.08: “A Red Wheelbarrow” – End of Phase Two

    Officially two-thirds through its current season, Homeland is pretty much back to where it was before a spiraling second season finish: some great espionage and character beats here and there, some questionable plotlines on the table and a whole lot of confidence that the story it is telling is something viewers are invested in seeing unfold. Of course, some viewers are not interested. Others have checked out completely. But for those who took the third episode from this season, “Tower of David,” with restrained optimism, maybe things are on the right track to getting paid off. It’s less of a stretch to convince us that Brody still belongs on this show than, say, to convince us that The Governor still belongs on The Walking Dead. And even though neither is particularly convincing given that each series can stand up without these characters, it’s at least interesting to see how Brody is being reintegrated and why. When Saul comes face-to-face with the man at the end of “A Red Wheelbarrow,” it’s less shocking and/or affecting than it probably should be. That said, the scene works on the level that Saul is owning up to his conceived mistakes and putting Carrie through hell, which adds more color to Saul in a season that has revolved around him. More

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    Masters of Sex, Ep. 1.07-08: “All Together Now” and “Love and Marriage” show off thematic breadth with mixed results

    Characters on Masters of Sex are prone to syntactically ambiguous pronouncements. In “All Together Now,” this one stands out: “I’m not discussing my sex life with you.” Those words pass between William and Virgnia, who quite suddenly fold themselves into their own study with little fanfare. Actually, no fanfare whatsoever: in the episode’s opening seconds, they are literally mid-coitus, and apparently not for the first time. The ostensible central couple of the series has made a serious move into practice, and though we see the moment they make that decision (the previous episode’s final scene), we skip the rest of the foreplay and get right in on the action. More

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    Masters of Sex, Ep. 1.06: “Brave New World” a touch too familiar

    As Masters of Sex continues to grow and evolve, what’s increasingly clear is its clear affection for (and sly subversion of) classic Hollywood melodrama. That connection is made very explicit in “Brave New World,” whose two key motifs are the theories of Sigmund Freud and the novel (and subsequent film adaptation) Peyton Place.
    If anything, “Brave New World” too prominently pushes those motifs. All of a sudden, every character is bringing up, questioning or outright mocking Freud’s theories on female and male sexuality. To make Freud’s work such a prominent issues only makes sense; after all, his influence had barely waned even two decades after his death, but the teleplay is a little too insistent on making that omnipresence clear. A little subtlety goes a long way, and the strangest thing about Masters of Sex is that it seems to understand that on a number of fronts, while being blaringly obvious on others. More

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    Homeland, Ep. 3.05: “The Yoga Play” – Phase two of the season

    After a mostly averse critical reaction to last week’s “Game On,” Homeland returns this week with a more recognizable entry in the series that looks and feels like it could have come from the earlier version of this series that viewers enjoyed for the first season and a half. There is the traditional espionage sequence – the Yoga Play that gives the episode its title – accompanying some smoke and mirrors fare surrounding our big bad (Javadi). Even though those familiar Homeland trappings are there, though, they mostly fall short because of how well the series has done this kind of stuff in the past. More

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