Here’s what we’ve been watching on television.
An American Christmas Carol
- Excerpt: Henry Winkler’s An American Christmas Carol is not among the best-known versions; and it doesn’t approach the heights of my favorite interpretations. Still, for a 1970s telemovie, this is surprisingly well-made, displaying unusual polish for its origins, adequate dramatic resonance, and suitable updates to the source text.
- Excerpt: Unable to secure funding for a more lavish and traditional adaptation, director Joe Wright and screenwriter Tom Stoppard have stripped the story down to its essence and delivered a truly new take on well-worn material. The end result is charmingly contradictory: by embracing its restrictions, the film frees itself from the equally limiting confines of the standard period drama.
Dallas: Changing Of The Guard
Doctor Who: “The Power of Three”
- Excerpt: For better or worse perhaps I should resign myself to the idea that Doctor Who is no longer going to be about an alien travelling through time and space with (mostly) humans. Instead, Doctor Who is about humans who bump into an alien travelling through time and space, go with him for a while, upset their personal and family lives, then get big send-offs.
- Excerpt: By reiterating what we already know – that The Doctor and Amy and Rory are all friends and it’s all swell – this episode was the worst example yet of the stasis that the series has fallen into this year as it waits for a big change to come. Unlike the other episodes, though, that sense of waiting wasn’t alleviated by an exciting episode of television.
- Excerpt: I’m guessing that all the malevolent aliens confer regularly, at least when they’re about to go after little ol’ planet Earth. They must: it’s the only way to explain why Earth never seems to suffer the same alien attack twice.
- Excerpt: While the alien invasion seems a little tacked on, to the point where it only seems to serve the final pun, The Power of Three is still a solid penultimate outing for this trio of adventurers.
Hammer House of Horror
- Excerpt: I can’t help feeling that the new DVD release of Hammer House of Horror must be one of the genre’s home video highlights of the season, maybe the year.
Magic City: The Complete First Season
- Excerpt: It’s easy to link “Magic City” to “Mad Men.” Set in Miami in the late 1950s, this drama takes its style, loose morals and mid-20th century setting from AMC’s (prior to last week, anyway) Emmy darling.
Portlandia: Season Two
- Excerpt: I had doubts that “Portlandia” could maintain its high quality, but Season Two of this delightful sketch comedy even improves upon the satisfying short first season. While I must reiterate that not everyone will enjoy this quirky show, those who do are likely to consider it one of the funniest things on television and fit for owning and frequently rewatching.