The Mindy Project, Season 3, Episode 1: “We’re A Couple Now, Haters!”

By Bizzy Emerson

via the A.V. Club

via the A.V. Club

Though it’s only been four months since we last saw “The Mindy Project”, it’s felt much longer for die-hard fans (especially after that finale!). Life without the sassy, smart TV romantic comedy has been pretty bleak. Fortunately, last night’s season 3 premiere did not disappoint, and was a perfect reminder of why “The Mindy Project” is one of the best sitcoms on network television right now.

At the end of season 2, Mindy (Mindy Kaling) and Danny (Chris Messina) were finally together – and for good — after a romantic kiss atop the Empire State Building. As we learned last night, the relationship is still going strong, and the episode kicked off with a mini love montage once again paying homage to the iconic rom-coms of which Kaling is a fervent student and fan.

The Mindy-Danny pairing was a little uneasy at first, and I was reluctant to see it take off as I worry the series is too young to resolve the central relationship. However, the characters are hilarious, genuine and complex individuals, giving the writers great mileage. The couple also has a lot of room to exist on this show without compromising the comedy, which is due to the writing but also to the developed chemistry between Kaling and Messina.

The first roadblock thrown at Mindy and Danny is their ever-conflicting personalities. Mindy wants the entire office to know about their sexcapades, while Danny wants the intimate details to remain private. Mindy eventually agrees to “change the very core of [herself]” in order to make the relationship work, promising to end the gossip. However, this eventually snowballs into Mindy discovering Danny used to be a stripper – “Diamond Dan.” A wildly unexpected development, this is easily one of the funniest avenues “The Mindy Project” has ever gone down, and it’s pretty clear that Chris Messina’s been hitting the gym for this plot point. He is the Italian Stallion of our dreams.

Meanwhile, there’s beef between Peter (Adam Pally) and Jeremy (Ed Weeks) as they both pine for the sarcastic brain surgeon, Lauren (Tracey Wigfield). In the end, it boils down to Lauren cheating on Peter with Jeremy, but to be honest this storyline felt inevitable and kind of boring. Pally is hilarious as Peter, and he’s being wasted in these muddled womanizing games. He’s at his best as Mindy’s confidant, and though it’s nice to see Peter transition from sleazy to soft, we’ve lost some of his spirit. It kind of seems like the writers are trying to find a place for Jeremy character, who has been in the show since its premiere, but who has been undoubtedly eclipsed by Peter.

Fan favorite Morgan Tookers (Ike Barinholtz) is back, and is serving up his usual comedy realness. This time, he’s bringing along his cousin Lou, played by the incomparable Rob McElhenny. This marks the second guest appearance by an “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” cast member, and I’m hoping that the trend continues. Sweet Dee would be hilarious as one of Mindy’s patients, no?

Nonetheless McElhenny delivered as a con after Mindy’s heart. At the height of Mindy and Danny’s trust issues, he’s also the voice of reason, telling Danny to “be open with the people you know.” This leads to the sweetest moment of the night – on her balcony, Danny reads Mindy a list of secrets he was ashamed to admit (like the fact that he became a stripper to pay for medical school and his mother’s mortgage – SWOON), and in turn, Mindy confesses that she gossips too much about their relationship because she wants to make sure it’s real. The episode closes with Diamond Dan performing his stripper routine to “American Woman” by Lenny Kravitz, and it’s hot, ladies.

Of course, as always there were some noteworthy style moments: I’m personally DYING to know who designed Mindy’s black, chandelier-esque dress, because she worked it. Likewise, Tamra (Xosha Roquemore) was not only on top of her comedy game, but was also looking fierce in her evening attire at the charity event.

However, the best moment of the night probably goes to Danny playing “Let it Go” from Frozen on the piano alone in his apartment. That’s going to be hard to top in subsequent episodes, but this premiere shows that “The Mindy Project” hasn’t skipped a beat and is back for another great season!

Bizzy Emerson is a contributing writer. Email her at entertainment@nyunews.com.

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Doctor Who, Season 8, Episode 4: “Listen”

By Nivea Serrao

via Metro

via Metro

Once you’re eight seasons into a rebooted series of a long-running franchise, it can be hard to keep a show like “Doctor Who” fresh – even if writers have all of time and space to draw on for storylines, not to mention the arsenal of villains the show has developed over time. Even more difficult, is the task of offering new insights into a hero that’s been fifty-one years in the making.

And that’s just what makes this week’s offering, “Listen,” so special. Not only does it pay off long-time viewers, but series showrunner Steven Moffat (the mastermind behind the episode) gives us a glimpse of something we’ve never seen before: the Doctor’s childhood.

However, the brilliance of the episode doesn’t just lie in its big reveal. Rather, it can be found in all the smaller parallels that litter the episode. Moffat has always been a clever writer and this episode proves his storytelling talent – and it doesn’t hurt that he’s combining his two favorite themes: childhood and fear. So of course this week’s Big Bad resides in “the scariest place in the universe”, a child’s bedroom.

But then the question becomes which child?

At first it seems like the boy in question is the young Rupert Pink. After all, it is he who the Doctor and Clara accidentally – or perhaps not so accidentally – visit, catching a glimpse of his particular monster sitting on his bed. (Side note: I love how Moffat takes a universal childhood belief, that blankets will keep you safe from anything and literally wraps the boy’s fear in it, instantly adding to the creepiness of the moment.)

This scene goes on to become significant for a number of reasons. In the past, we’ve seen the Doctor stand up to scary foes, but never has he seemed as fearful of them as whoever he’s trying to help that week. Here, as he talks Rupert and Clara through facing, or rather, embracing the fear and giving the shape in the sheet what it wants by not looking at it, it’s almost like he’s trying to soothe himself as much as his companions. The Doctor has always faced other people’s demons so they won’t have to, but as this episode demonstrates, who faces the Doctor’s fears when he doesn’t want to?

Well, as the big reveal shows, that would be Clara. Already interwoven in the Time Lord’s time stream, his latest companion is familiar with the many incarnations of the Doctor, so it’s only fitting that she would meet his youngest self. And the moment plays out quite beautifully as we see her draw on her familiarity with both children, as well as everyone’s favorite coffee thief, to reassure the scared Soon To Be William Hartnell Time Lord that, “It’s okay to be afraid.” And just like that, the true hero of the episode becomes Clara, as she fills a role the Doctor usually would. What makes it even better is that she does it the way the he would – talking the boy through his struggle, while giving him the strength and courage needed to face whatever is ahead. And how perfect that it comes from a teacher. After all, the best teachers inspire us and bring out the best in us. It’s nice to think that the Doctor had that too.

But Clara’s inspiring words in the barn – as well as her gift of a “A soldier so brave he doesn’t need a gun. He keeps the whole world safe.” – set up an important parallel with the other young boy in the episode (not to mention the other man closely linked to her time stream). At the end of the hour we see that Danny isn’t the only soldier Clara has inspired. As their date reveals, much like the Doctor, he doesn’t like to joke about the lives he’s taken, instead focusing on the people he’s helped (“23 wells!”). In fact, I’d go far as to say he’d also shrug off the title of “hero.”

Peter Capaldi’s Doctor has proved the most introspective yet. Four episodes in and we’ve already seen him question if he’s a “good man” or even a hero (he’s leaning “no” on both counts), so I’m assuming Danny’s eventual inclusion as a companion will serve as a launching board for an examination of how the Doctor feels about his role as a soldier, especially since the episode also gave us a glimpse at the War Doctor (?!). (Personally, I can’t wait to see the Doctor put two and two together with Clara introducing them to each other.)

On the whole, “Listen” is one of the strongest – and maybe the most memorable – episodes of “Doctor Who” in a while. Moffat finds several ways to spin assumptions on their head, filling the episode with many clues and bait-and-switches that definitely warrant an immediate rewatch – like mentioning some of the show’s scariest monsters, only to reveal there was never one. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one finds itself included in future “Best Episode” lists, after all, the best episodes of the show have a deeper meaning, not just for the Doctor himself, but for their larger themes. And “Listen” does both, telling us that fear is nothing to be ashamed of, while painting us a picture of the Doctor’s largely unknown past.

My only nitpick is of the build-up of Danny and Clara’s relationship, which has mostly been awkward rather than romantic. Now, we know Moffat is capable of writing a love story; one need only look at “The Girl in the Fireplace” for that. So it would be nice to actually see the pair actually have some chemistry, though I will say that I appreciate seeing Clara doing things not time and space travel related, and I like that she actually has a life outside of it all. (One clearly blooming with romantic possibilities if Orson Pink is any indication.) But if the rest of Season 8’s episodic offerings are anything like this week’s I can’t wait to see what’s in store. Hopefully, “Doctor Who” will be able to live up to the bar it has set with this entry.

Will you be adding “Listen” to your lists of “Top Doctor Who Episodes”? Were you on board with Clara and Danny’s romantic buildup? Do you think we’ll see more of the War Doctor? Sound off in the comments!

Nivea Serrao is a staff writer. Email her at entertainment@nyunews.com.

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Boardwalk Empire, Season 5, Episode 2: “The Good Listener”

By Jim Muntisov

Via AV Club

via the A.V. Club

In recent seasons, “Boardwalk Empire” has striven to be a show about crime in the 1920’s rather than just The Nucky Thompson show. This final season, however, is bringing us back to Nucky’s story, as “The Good Listener” reintroduces us to storylines that were seemingly dropped in the season 4 finale.

It’s confirmed. Meyer Lansky and Luciano orchestrated the hit on Nucky. They’re working with Bugsy Siegel (Michael Zegen), who hasn’t made an appearance for a while, so it’s good to see him back in the mix. Nucky is not happy about this, and leaves the body of their associate on their front doorstep. Nucky’s new hitman is a good substitute for Richard Harrow, but his fate isn’t looking too promising (Jimmy, Sleater, Harrow are all cold in the ground). Nucky is back in the game, and he ain’t going down easy.

His story this season is much improved, but what we really don’t need are the flashbacks. They’re well acted and they serve the purpose of revealing the whole man that is Nucky Thompson, but with only 8 episodes in the season, there isn’t time for them. We want less kid Nucky and more Narcisse.

Meanwhile in Chicago, Al Capone is king. His empire is at an all time high, just like the Capone we’re used to seeing in movies. Working for him is Nelson Van Alden, still under the alias of George Mueller. And now under Van Alden is Eli Thompson – a very broken man. He’s gone from Sheriff to mobster, and the toll it has taken on him is clear. But he is relentless, executing the goons that he and Van Alden rob.

Van Alden on the other hand is living a hollow lie of a nuclear family. He’s so socially inept but his heart is in the right place. In the robbery he and Eli undertake, he doesn’t shoot anybody, he lets Eli do the killing for him. He still has his morals, sort of…

And Gillian Darmody is back, everybody! But in a mental institution that looks more like a drug rehabilitation clinic than a psych ward. And the beautiful Gretchen Mol looks possibly younger than she did last season, maybe it’s seven years on psych ward baths. Anyway, she’s got some deal going on with “Nurse Ratched” so it looks like she’ll probably get out, otherwise we’ll have a very segregated storyline that will add nothing to the series. She’ll get out, I’m sure.

Otherwise, Eli’s son, Will, is leaving his criminal past behind him and aspiring to become a prosecutor in New York. Ben Rosenfield was an interesting addition last season as Will, and it’s good to see him promoted to a series regular. From his interactions with Nucky in this episode, It’s probable that that “poisoning” incident from last season will come back to haunt him now that he’s on the right side of the law.

Speaking of ‘right’ (don’t hate me), we still haven’t seen Jeffery Wright or Paul Sparks appear this season, but they must still be around due to their names still present in the opening credits. I never cared much for Mickey Doyle but Narcisse was one of Boardwalk’s best characters and there’s surely some great material in store for him in the upcoming episodes.

There were a few cameos in the form of Elliot Ness and Joseph Kennedy, two historical figures who probably won’t play a large part in the season, I suspect, but are there to help establish the new time period and the characters are entering.

Overall, it was a decent episode. Again, it was an establishing episode in some regards, but the progressing Nucky revenge storyline is probably what will carry this season, and that’s how it should be. Bringing it back to Nucky was the only way the creators could have approached a final season, and so far it’s been a smart move.

Jim Muntisov is a contributing writer. Email him at entertainment@nyunews.com.

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Born Cages take over and rock Third North basement

By Alex Loverich
Via All Music

Via All Music

Both musicians and avid music fans know that traveling as a band, booking shows, and writing and recording material is no easy task, and most artists must do all of the above for many years in order to get any attention. However, New York-based quartet Born Cages is exploding into the American indie rock scene, and makes the process look easy with their creativity, stage presence, and apparent passion for their art.

In 2012, Born Cages were the opening act for Guns & Roses in both Chicago and Maryland, and as of last week, NYU has been fortunate enough to add them to its growing list of entertainers. Third North’s lower level lounge was the stage that evening, and ended up being an impeccable performance space.

The band’s set included their strongest tunes, including the pop-rock anthem “Don’t Look Back,” and “Perfect Harmony,” in which lead singer-guitarist Vlad Holiday’s blazing guitar licks complement his warm, melodious vocals. The performance was only attended by a lucky few, as it was not vastly promoted, but those students who attended enjoyed the group’s presence and sonic energy.

Bands like Born Cages serve as a counterexample to the common belief that “no one can make it in the music industry.” The band will continue to work their way to a successful career as musicians. Students were fortunate enough to talk with the band after their performance in Third North. While they are such a friendly group of musicians, the members of Born Cages demonstrate the talent and dedication necessary to survive in a competitive climate, and with any luck, they may return to NYU once more some day.

Alex Loverich is a contributing writer. Email him at music@nyunews.com.

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“I Am Eleven” explores the wonder of youth

Via screendaily.com

Via screendaily.com

By Mary Ann Odete

When I was eleven I rode my bike without training wheels for the first time. Remember being eleven? It’s a time when you’re between childhood and becoming a teenager — the world is opening up for you. Director Genevieve Bailey, voted one of the ten best filmmakers in Australia, takes you to 15 countries to interview children of a certain age about what is important to them, what makes them special and what it is to be eleven. Touching on subjects like bullying and love, you’ll be surprised by what some of these kids have to say.

Bailey decided to make “I Am Eleven” because she wanted to make a documentary that would make people smile. So she got on a plane for the first time and filmed in each country she went to. She decided on the age of eleven because she remembered it as being a time in her life when possibilities were opening up for her. She felt a part of something much bigger than herself. Bailey wanted to see if eleven-year-olds today, in the information age, still had the same wonder she experienced when she was their age.

A delightful combination of awkward and awesome, each one of the kids featured brings their own uniqueness to the movie. “I Am Eleven” is happy, easygoing and comforting. It lets the audience know that just because you’ve grown up, that doesn’t mean you can’t recapture the feelings you once had — the wonder you once felt.

It’s a funny, sensational, exhilarating movie. If you would like to be a part of the fun you can go on the “I Am Eleven” tumblr page and post a picture of yourself and an anecdote about who you were when you were eleven. If you want to know more about the movie you can go to iameleven.com. The movie opens this weekend in NYC in select theaters including Village East and AMC Empire 25. A bit of incentive to go this weekend is you’ll be able to meet one of the amazing kids featured in the movie as well as the director. Take some time this weekend to remember childhood and give yourself that warm feeling inside. It’s most definitely worth it.

Mary Ann Odete is a contributing writer. Email her at film@nyunews.com.

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Alternative ending for “How I Met Your Mother” just what we needed

By Jack Barker

via CBS

via CBS

The alternate ending of the CBS sitcom, “How I Met Your Mother,” was recently leaked on the internet to the delight of many of the show’s most loyal fans and the possible chagrin of CBS execs.  The alternate ending of the show was intended to be released along with the box set of the entire series as an extra, but found its way onto the Internet before the September 23rd release. While most copies have been taken down due to copyright infringement, there are still a few videos of what looks to be a very legitimate alternate ending, although no one can be sure since CBS has yet to make a statement, according to The Independent.

Enough about the logistics of it. The fact of the matter is, any true HIMYM fan should rejoice in this ending. Most fans of the show were displeased with Carter Bays and Craig Thomas (to say the least) after the ending of the show last spring. When compared to this ending, a new level of anger erupts for this not being the chosen conclusion. However, a certain degree of solace also blossoms because now we all get to see a more preferable ending to the beloved series.

In the original ending shown on T.V. the mother dies and Ted gets back with Robin, and everyone who followed the show since its start face-palmed pretty hard. We’ve waited all this time to finally meet the mother, then we do, we fall in love with her, and then she dies. That was rough enough, but on top of that, we as an audience are sent back to the purgatory of the Ted and Robin’s on-again, off-again relationship. The uncertainty it provides for the future of the characters, since, throughout the series, Ted and Robin could never stay together, is no way to end a show.

The new ending, on the other hand, is much happier. It runs through the life of Ted and Tracy (the Mother, for all of you who aren’t avid watchers) after their fateful meeting over the yellow umbrella at the train tracks. The best part may be the kids’ reaction at the end of it all.  After Ted ends with “And that, kids, is how I met your mother,” the daughter utters, in the most annoyed intonation, “That’s it?”

And that is the beauty of just “it”. That’s all it was. He started talking to a girl while waiting for the train. There’s no big song and dance to it, though the show is no stranger to big song and dance, they simply meet and fall in love. That’s all anyone ever wanted for Ted. This ending provides the type of life every viewer knew nice guy Ted deserved.

If you’re a fan of the show who was disappointed with the “real” ending, scour the web for this one or buy the box set when it comes out, because this four minute clip arguably better captures what the whole last season spent trying to show:  Ted’s happiness.

Jack Barker is a contributing writer. Email him at entertainment@nyunews.com.

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Boardwalk Empire, Season 5, Episode 1: “Golden Days for Boys & Girls”

By Jim Muntisov

via the A.V. Club

via the A.V. Club

We are down to the final 8 episodes of “Boardwalk Empire,” a title for a show that spends more time in Chicago and New York than the titular Atlantic City. The final season takes place 7 years after the season 4 finale, which is initially jarring because there are a few things you have to immediately reconcile with: Nucky’s escaped to Cuba with Sally, Chalky’s a prisoner cutting stones in the woods, Margaret is still at that firm and Luciano is trying to work his way to the top of the Italian mob (I think).

If you remember how season 4 was structured, this new episode plays out in a similar fashion. The cast is so full that the supporting storylines progress every second episode. Notably absent from Episode 1 are Nelson Van Alden, Eli Thompson, Al Capone, Gillian Darmody and Valentin Narcisse, all of which were left in very different circumstances at the end of last season.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t mention Arnold Rothstein that’s because he died during that time jump. It seems silly, but Rothstein is one of the few characters that is actually a real person. The real Rothstein was killed in ‘29 due to a gambling debt (supposedly). Michael Stuhlbarg will be sorely missed. Rothstein was one of my favorite character’s who hadn’t been killed off, and to miss out on his downfall feels a bit like we’ve been cheated. That being said, the show does a pretty good job of keeping him relevant to the plot.

Nucky’s storyline in this episode was really just setting things up, but that’s hard to avoid when you jump so far ahead in time. We know he’s heading back to Atlantic City, but I guess that will happen in episode 2 or 3. Somebody tries to kill him, (most likely Meyer Lansky) so a revenge plot is also on the horizon. I wasn’t that impressed with last year’s Nucky story arc. He felt more like a supporting player in favor of Chalky and Narcisee’s rivalry, but it seems the writers are bringing it back to Nucky this season, which is really where the show lives.

Meanwhile, Chalky’s storyline in this episode was weak. It went for style over substance, and took it’s time to basically tell the audience that Chalky was prisoner, and now he’s escaped. Michael K. Williams is fantastic as Chalky though, so I’ll let it slide.

With the absence of Jack Huston and Michael Stuhlbarg to carry storylines, it allows other characters to develop further. Margaret Schroeder is back after being absent for a lot of season 4. It looks like she will be more prominent this season, as her criminal ties to Rothstein are coming back to haunt her. Lucky Luciano was another character who had minor screen time last season, but looks to be a major player now. His orchestration of Joe Masseria’s assassination got him into some Italian gangster club in New York (he did a blood pact with all the members so I think he’s in.)

What felt most out of place this episode was Nucky’s childhood flashbacks. The use of flashbacks at the beginning of the season wasn’t effective, especially after a major leap in time.  We’re eager to see where all the characters are at, not a subpar Nucky origin story. It wasn’t that it was uninteresting, it just wasn’t really needed yet.

Overall it was an episode to regain our bearings and in a way, start fresh. The problem is that there are only 7 episodes left and so many storylines to cover, so I hope the creators have some big plans to pull it off.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE EPISODE: Margaret’s boss getting everybody in the office together so he can blow his brains out in front of them. The recession hits hard, people.

Jim Muntisov is a contributing writer. Email him at entertainment@nyunews.com.

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