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Robert Abele

Satirist in chief; Credit: Kevin Scanlon

Armando Iannucci: Political Satirist

When Glasgow-born, London-based satirist Armando Iannucci was assembling his knife-edged political comedy In the Loop, a fictionalized account of how bureaucratic folly and queasy alliances bring England and America stumbling toward a wretched military misadventure, he made sure to get all his research ducks in a row. Having grown up......
Mama’s got a brand-new bag: Brie Larson

Many Faces of Diablo Cody's Modern Housewife; Married Ladies of Big Love

Showtime’s United States of Tara, created by Oscar-winning blogger/ex-stripper Diablo Cody, comes to television with pedigrees and controversy. It stars Toni Collette as a suburban hausfrau with a misunderstood illness called dissociative-identity disorder, or DID, the more recently minted term for what we’ve long called multiple-personality disorder. But if Tara......

Counting the Seconds: The Return of 24 and Damages

Long waits for original episodes of beloved shows can be a perilous game in our short-attention-span era of ratings erosion and viewer fragmentation. But the new seasons of the Emmy-winning Damages, which began this week after a year away, and action stalwart 24, which kicks off with four hours Sunday......

Face Off: The PBS Documentary Helvetica

What do American Airlines, the New York subway system, ARCO, your tax forms and the TV show The Office have in common? The smoothly authoritative, calming yet assertive Helvetica typeface, a mid–20th century revolution in efficient, declarative lettering that has become so ubiquitous, it prompts one interviewee in the engaging......

The TV Crank's Wish List

With the horrible economy instilling in nearly everybody a crusty, befouled yearning for more prosperous times this holiday season, what better way to augment that national mood than the gift of a television DVD that suggests, “Wasn’t this long-gone show better than the crap that’s on now?” No one’s saying......

Bad Girls Club: Cheap Perfume and Boozy Breath

It is useless to ignoreThe Bad Girls Club, starting its third season on Tuesday. It is the crack cocaine of unhinged party-girl hatin’-and-disrespectin’ freakouts. It is the credit default swap frenzy before the meltdown. It is the meltdown, too. It is the cheap perfume, airless inanity and boozy breath in......

Political Theater

Somewhere between Barack Obama’s plan for direct YouTube communiqués to the people (“firewall” chats, you could call them) and Britain’s Question Time tradition of exposing the prime minister to scheduled, public, vigorous criticism from Parliament lies the strange, virtual spectacle that is Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez’s live weekly television program,......