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Sunday, April 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 54.0° F  Overcast
The Daily

TELEVISION

Christopher Guest brings his patented style to HBO's Family Tree

Christopher Guest earned a place in my pantheon by pioneering the mockumentary with his script for 1984's This Is Spinal Tap. Since then, as a writer-director, he's perfected the style in one big-screen gem after another: Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind. His approach has been imitated on TV by the likes of The Office and Parks and Recreation. >More
 A teenager films himself in Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous

Viral-video star Bo Burnham is well cast as a would-be viral-video star in Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous. He plays Zach Stone, a motormouth high school dork obsessed with his post-graduation plan: making a reality show about his life. With a two-man video crew in tow, he puzzles his family and friends by playing to the cameras throughout the ordinary moments of the day. >More
 American Idol emphasizes silliness over singing

The American Idol season is heading into its final stretch, but it's not the must-see TV of yore. Ratings are dropping, rival singing competitions are coming on strong, and the last half-dozen winners have been nondescript. We've been around the block too many times to buy into the finalists' personal journeys, which we now know will likely culminate in touring Broadway musicals, at best. >More
 All the President's Men Revisited takes a fresh look at the Watergate scandal

You couldn't ask for a better reevaluation of the Watergate scandal than All the President's Men Revisited. Robert Redford narrates the story of President Richard Nixon's downfall, drawing on interviews with the journalists who broke the story (Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein), Nixon henchmen (Alexander Butterfield, John Dean) and media commentators (Rachel Maddow, David Frost). >More
 HBO's Which Way Is The Front From Here? profiles extraordinary photojournalist Tim Hetherington

HBO examines the all-too-brief career of a brilliant war photographer in Which Way Is the Front From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington (Thursday, April 18, 7 p.m.). Hetherington was a British journalist with movie-star looks who died covering the Libyan civil war in 2011. He packed a few lifetimes' worth of experiences into his 40 years, plunging into the white-hot center of conflicts in Africa and the Middle East. >More
 Alien races try to coexist in the post-apocalyptic Defiance

Syfy boasts that Defiance marks the first convergence of TV and online gaming. The drama will unfold as both a series and a multiplatform videogame, with connections between the two mediums. That's an intriguing gimmick -- but luckily there's nothing gimmicky about the TV premiere, which stands on its own as richly imagined science fiction. >More
 A brilliantly absurd sitcom explains How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)

How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life) is the rare sitcom where everyone in the cast is a great comedian, down to the child actor. Polly (Sarah Chalke) is a basket case who, nevertheless, wants to be a good mom to her young daughter. >More
 WYOU in limbo: The community-access TV station may collapse if it can't update its equipment

What is Madison's riskiest business these days, if by "risky" you mean "likely to disappear"? Traditional media outlets are top contenders. So are nonprofit organizations, especially those whose funding has been slashed. WYOU is both of these things: a nonprofit, community-access TV station that nearly vanished following the passage of the Video Competition Act in 2007. >More
 'Mr. Selfridge' turns a department store into the greatest show on earth

Jeremy Piven provides Masterpiece Classic with a jolt of American energy, rousing the series from its recent Downton Abbey lethargy. In the eight-part "Mr. Selfridge," Piven plays the real-life Harry Gordon Selfridge, a brash Chicago huckster who pioneered the modern department store in turn-of-the-century London. >More
 Phil Spector tries to humanize the notorious music producer

Phil Spector has a startling premise: that the freaky music producer might be a human being. Against the backdrop of his 2007 trial for murder, writer-director David Mamet tries to figure out what makes Spector tick. The movie forces viewers to confront their prejudices about the oddballs in our midst, especially the artist-oddballs. >More
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