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Paul Levinson Paul Levinson
Starpulse Contributing Writer
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Paul Levinson, PhD, is Prof of Media Studies at Fordham Univ in NYC. His scholarly books include The Soft Edge, Digital McLuhan, Realspace, Cellphone & New New Media. His novels include The Silk Code, Borrowed Tides, The Consciousness Plague, The Pixel Eye, The Plot To Save Socrates & Unburning Alexandria. He appears on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News & BBC World. His 1972 LP Twice Upon a Rhyme was re-issued in 2010.

24 Season 9.7: Silent Clock in President Heller's Future?

June 9th, 2014 10:31pm EDT
24: Live Another Day
Another powerhouse episode of 24 tonight - 9.7 - featuring a wild car chase, with Jack behind the fleeing wheel, that would have made James Bond proud. What made this car chase different - what gave it a special edge - was that Jack (with Kate and Simone in the car) - was fleeing a drone missile launched on order of Margot. And he in fact successfully evades several missiles, by not only daring driving but setting forth a car with no driver or passenger, propelled by a big rock on the gas pedal.

Jack was also in peak form in the hospital scene, in which his quick action gets Kate, Simon...
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'Crossbones' 1.2: Wheels within Wheels

June 9th, 2014 5:48pm EDT
Crossbones
Crossbones put up a good second episode on Friday - good enough that I've decided to regularly review it here.

Blackbeard - he doesn't like to be called that, but it's a better name than "Teach" - pulled off a good play. Dissatisfied with his notable fellow-pirate's refusal to take part in Blackbeard's complex plan, he decides to kill him. But how, in a way that doesn't point to Blackbeard? He gets some guys to attack him, Blackbeard, so convincingly, that it easily fools the audience. And he's able to pin this attack on his uncooperative colleague.

Actually, we might have seen this co...
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'Turn' Season 1 Finale: Good Turns

June 9th, 2014 2:40pm EDT
Turn
Turn turned in its season one finale with still no word on whether it will be returning to AMC. I hope it does.

The finale was one of the best episodes of the first season, which admittedly was mixed, but managed to create some powerful characters and set in motion some subtle and historically interesting plot lines. Probably the single most significant of those last night was Robert Rogers' exit from his dressing down by the Crown's man, which I think leaves him wide open for joining up with George Washington and the revolution if there is a second season (even though there is no hist...
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'Game of Thrones' 4.9: The Fight for Castle Black

June 8th, 2014 10:32pm EDT
Game of Thrones
What a Game of Thrones 4.9 it was - an entire episode devoted to the battle for Castle Black, with scenes as sweeping and intense as those in The Two Towers Lord of the Rings movie of 2002. An impressive accomplishment indeed for HBO.

To get right down to the story, I wasn't all that upset to see Ygritte die. Chances are she would have killed Jon Snow - which would have been a far more grievous loss to the series - and even if not, her lethal arrows might well have won the battle on this night for the deadly hordes. True, she did hesitate for a moment to let loose her arrow on Snow, an...
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NBC's 'Crossbones': Slow Start But Possibilities

June 5th, 2014 6:42pm EDT
Crossbones
I like erudite pirate stories, so I took a look at Crossbones, which debuted on NBC last Friday. It seems to have a lot in common with Black Sails on Starz, except no nudity, no frank language - casualties of being on a broadcast network, unconstitutionally regulated by the FCC - and not much sex, either, explicit or otherwise. Still, those absences are not necessarily fatal to a TV series, and indeed network series still garner millions of viewers without those cable accoutrements.

But Crossbones directly stole a major part of the Black Sails plot - the ingenious idea to memorize vital...
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'Fargo' Season 1 Episode 8: The Year

June 4th, 2014 8:37am EDT
'Fargo' Season 1 Episode 8:  The Year
I've never seen anything quite like it on television. Fargo, about 2/3rds through episode 1.8, just skips a year. The show had some time passing in an earlier episode, but this was a whole year. Molly is pregnant - finally achieving the status the deputy began with in the movie version. Except she's happily married to Gus, who's traded in his badge for a postal delivery route, and Lester and Malvo both seem well out of range.

The two are in fact in Las Vegas - Lester, looking confident and great, to receive his insurance man of the year award, and Malvo who knows why. The episode began w...
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'24' Season 9.6: Expendable In-Laws

June 2nd, 2014 10:20pm EDT
24: Live Another Day
Another top-notch, jam-packed episode - 9.6 - of 24 just on tonight.

President Heller has finally come to his senses and entrusts Jack with saving London from the drones. But the Brits, unsurprisingly, don't share Heller's faith in Jack, especially since they know that Heller is not in the greatest shape mentally. Truth is, I was surprised that they allowed an American CIA operation on their soil last week, so their intrusion tonight ties up one important loose end, even as it spells trouble for Jack and Kate.

They're an excellent team, Jack and Kate. We of course already how good Jack...
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'Game of Thrones' 4.8: Beetles and Battle

June 1st, 2014 10:35pm EDT
Game of Thrones
A stunning Game of Thrones 4.8, with at least three game changing developments. In ascending order -

3. Mormont's exile by Daenerys: I figured Mormont's days with Daenerys were numbered in one way or another as soon as the new courtly old guy appeared on the scene, essentially duplicating Mormont's function. Not quite believable, though, is that Mormont, Daenerys's rock of Gibraltar, was a Lannister spy, or that Daenerys would let him go - not kill him - and give the Lannisters a much fuller rendition of her story. Perhaps Daenerys has some deliberate plan in mind. Meanwhile, it al...
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'Da Vinci's Demons' Season 2 Finale: Nobody's Business But the Turks

May 31st, 2014 10:27pm EDT
Da Vinci's Demons
Well, Da Vinci's Demons had a great surprise in store for the very last moment of its second season finale: Da Vinci at least sees his long sought-after mother - on the lead Turkish ship that Da Vinici has set his cannon to fire upon, in his attempt to save Italy from the Turkish invasion.

It's a nice irony indeed, in a season full of ironies and strange reversals, fortunately for the most part of the political not the supernatural kind. Last week we discovered that Cosmo's grandson was a bad guy. Earlier we learned that Lucrezia's truest allegiance was not to the Pope, but the Pope's impr...
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'Fargo' 1.7: The Bungling and the Brave

May 28th, 2014 2:14pm EDT
Fargo
Fargo continues to pick up steam, with its second exceptional episode - 1.7 - in as many weeks.

Last week, in the blizzard, Molly gets shot by Gus at the end of a literally blindingly harrowing scene. This week, we learn that the shot went "clean through," and caused no lasting damage. But the time in the hospital gives Molly and Gus some good time to draw closer together, as well as leaving Molly isolated from the ground-changing developments back in Bemidji, which sets her up for another evocatively symbolic frame of her face at the end of the episode.

The most important action - and i...
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