TIME Television

Mad Men Recap: ‘The Forecast’

Kiernan Shipka as Sally Draper, January Jones as Betty Francis and Christopher Stanley as Henry Francis - Mad Men _ Season 7B, Gallery _ Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC
Frank Ockenfels 3—AMC From Left: Kiernan Shipka as Sally Draper, January Jones as Betty Francis and Christopher Stanley as Henry Francis in 'Mad Men' season 7B.

Don asks himself some tough questions as Vietnam comes into focus

Mad Men returned for its final stretch two weeks ago with Peggy Lee’s classic “Is That All There Is?” but the song — which Mad Men creator Matt Weiner once considered making the show’s theme song — was even more suited for Sunday’s episode, “The Forecast,” considering how many times characters seemed to ask that question.

Don isn’t in great shape since Megan took all his furniture (and a million dollars) last week. Roger’s making comments about his appearance, and his real estate agent (whom you might recognize from ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat — don’t tell Jessica Huang she’s got some competition selling properties) is having trouble selling the place because it “reeks of failure” and sadness. That wine stain on the floor is the mark of a man who cares so little for himself that he doesn’t even bother to clean up.

When Roger tasks Don with writing a speech about the future of the company for a corporate event, Don uses the occasion to take stock of his life—and struggles to come to any conclusions. “It’s supposed to get better…” he trails off into a dictaphone during one brainstorming session. What, exactly, is supposed to get better? What should he be striving for at this point in life? He’s been pondering these questions since crashing Rachel Menken’s shiva. There, her sister told Don that his former flame had “everything” she wanted in life before her death. All Don knows is that whatever “everything” means, he doesn’t have it—or, at least, it wasn’t what he thought it was.

When he’s not helping Mathis navigate a pitch meeting gone bad, Don looks to his co-workers for clues about the meaning of life. Don inquires about Ted’s vision for the future, but he’s disappointed to learn Ted dreams of little more than landing pharmaceutical client. When Peggy asks Don for a performance review, he decides to pick her brain and see what he can learn from her goals. She wants to be the company’s first female creative director, but Don pushes her for more. She wants to leave her mark on advertising; she wants to create a catchphrase; she wants fame. She wants “to create something of lasting value,” she says, but Don isn’t satisfied with that answer as it doesn’t do anything to solve his own crisis. Peggy believes he’s belittling her dreams with his questioning, though, so she storms out. “Why don’t you just write down all of your dreams so I can shit on them?” she barks.

Don faces even harsher words from Mathis, who lashes out at Don after incorrectly following his advice and damaging the client relationship beyond repair. Mathis tells Don he lacks character, only gets by on his looks and doesn’t know when to admit he’s wrong. Don promptly fires him, but he also seems to actually hear him. The first words out of Don’s mouth aren’t a knee-jerk defense or an outright dismissal, but rather, an almost humble so-what: “Everybody has problems,” he says.

While Don continues his search, Joan gets what looks like the first happy ending of the finale episodes (though with four more to go, that’s obviously subject to change). While on a business trip to the West Coast, she meets a man named Richard who’s wandered in into the L.A. office by mistake. They flirt, and the charming encounter leads to a more passionate one back in her hotel room that night. The only problem is that Joan doesn’t mention her four-year-old son when she and Richard swap divorce stories. “So you have mouths to feed?” Richard asks about why she’s working. “No, I just finally got the job I’ve always wanted,” Joan grins.

It’s not exactly a lie—she is filthy rich, remember?—but Richard doesn’t take it so well when he visits her in New York and Joan decides to tell him the truth . Richard, you see, wants to travel the world and live his single-again life without plans or commitments—taking care of a small child stands in the way of that. Joan recognizes this the next morning, too, when she’s frustrated by a scheduling mix-up with the babysitter and shouts, “You’re ruining my life!” as she walks out the door. Ostensibly, the remark was directed at the babysitter, but the pause between the outburst and the sweet goodbye she gives her son suggests Joan wasn’t sure whom her anger was directed at. Fortunately, Joan doesn’t have to choose between romance and family, as Richard shows up at her office with flowers and the offer to be apart of her and her son’s life. Is that all it takes for Joan to find the love she dreamed of?

Back at the Francis residence, the Vietnam War comes into focus after being in the background so far this season. Betty and Sally are paid a visit by a grown-up Glen Bishop, who’s rocking some serious 1970 sideburns, as well as some serious sexual tension with Betty. But as Sally quickly learns, there is something more upsetting than the sight of your friend and your mom having a moment in front of you—having that friend tell you he’s enlisting in the army. Or worse—that your friend could be enlisting because of your mom. That’s what happens one afternoon when Glen appears in Betty’s kitchen to make a move on her and tell her she’s the reason he’s enlisting.

Their relationship has always disturbed me, and Betty takes a little too long to reject his advances on account of being married (come on, Betty, you can’t think of any other reasons to say no?). But it’s thanks to Glen that we get the episode’s most moving scene (Sally’s tearful goodbye phone call), so perhaps we should feel grateful to get something out of Glen that didn’t result in a hardcore case of the heebie-jeebies.

Thinking about whether Glen was going to live or die reminded me just how open-ended the fates of Mad Men characters might be in the end. Unless there’s a flash-forward in the works, we’ll never know if Glen survives the war and comes back for Betty. We’ll never know in what ways Sally will follow in her parents’ footsteps, as Don warns will happen in the bus station. Heck, we might not ever see Don figure out the questions he’s been wrestling with this whole time. The episode ends with Don coming home and walking in on his real estate agent, who has found a buyer for his apartment, to their mutual surprise. Just like that, the place is sold. Just like that, Don’s untethered from his belongings and his baggage with Megan. And just like that, he’s left with a look on his face that seems to wonder: Now what? Is that all there is?

TIME Television

Watch John Oliver Deliver a Trademark Takedown of Patent Trolls

"At least trolls actually do something," said Oliver

John Oliver used his Last Week Tonight soapbox to deliver a searing take down of the U.S. patent system. Patents, or as Oliver calls them “legally binding dibs,” are an integral part of business, at least according to the judges on Shark Tank.

While patents are an essential protection against theft for inventors, there are those who abuse the system — the so-called patent trolls who stockpile patents and threaten possible infringers with frivolous lawsuits. Oliver thinks calling them “patent trolls” is insulting to trolls. “At least trolls actually do something,” he quips, “they control bridge access for goats and ask people fun riddles.”

Patent trolls force businesses to shell out tons of money, which can impede innovation, particularly in the software industry. Large companies, too, can hinder the success of small businesses by charging them huge sums to license patents that cover very simple ideas.

“This system is insane,” ranted Oliver. As usual, he reserves some ire for lawyers, noting that letting trial lawyers make decisions about “more baseless lawsuits” was the equivalent of “letting raccoons make laws about trash can placement.”

TIME Television

Watch John Oliver Get Martin Sheen to Do a Doomsday Video

Talk about perfect casting

A few months ago it was revealed that CNN had made a tape to be played in case of the end of the world. The news network’s doomsday video featured a marching band playing the religious dirge of a song “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” a tune that was reportedly played on the Titanic when (spoiler alert) it sank.

Last Week Tonight host John Oliver was convinced that “French-Canadian space mermaid” Celine Dion’s heartfelt ode “My Heart Will Go On” was the last song heard on the Titanic and when he learned that was not the case, he decided to take matters into his own hands and improve CNN’s video for them.

Who ya gonna call when you need an end-of the-world video? Former West Wing Commander in Chief, President Josiah Bartlet, a.k.a. Martin Sheen, naturally.

“Hello, I’m Martin Sheen,” the video begins, “and I’m afraid if you are watching this the End Times are upon us. Whether because of war, disease or a genetically modified dinosaur, our world is now only moments away from total annihilation.” The video, posted above, goes on to celebrate the greatest things about humanity’s time on earth. Like, oh, shark tunnels and Segways.

TIME Television

Game of Thrones Watch: Making a List, Checking It Twice


Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but in Westeros it is a multicourse banquet.

This article contains spoilers. Click here to reveal them.

The following review discusses Game of Thrones, “The House of Black and White,” in detail:

“Cersei. Walder Frey. The Mountain. Meryn Trant…”

Arya Stark’s long list is getting shorter. (So long, Joffrey! Hasta la Vista, Tywin! See you in the Seven Hells, Hound?) But it is only a partial one, the opening bars to a long, long tune of vengeance awaited in Westeros. You want payback? Get in line, behind the slaves of Meereen, the Martells of Dorne, pretty much anyone who ever crossed a Lannister (especially other Lannisters). Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but in Westeros, it is a multicourse banquet.

Vengeance is a big theme in “The House of Black and White,” an ironic title since the moral question here is anything but. Westeros’ history, like most any other continent’s, is a chain of they-did-it-to-us-first stretching back to the mists of creation. Hardly a character on screen lacks just cause for revenge on someone. But while the quest may be thrilling, it’s never simple. Vengeance is sweet. But is it just? Is it right? Is it smart?

The episode starts its investigation with Arya, whom we’d follow to the ends of the Earth–and now we have, almost anyway, on a ship sailing underneath the dangly bits of the Titan of Braavos. Our first sight is her fixed, intent stare. Her anger and bitterness have honed her sharper than Needle, and she’s come in hopes of weaponizing herself, clutching her worried coin, seeking J’aqen Haghar. She’s rowed in, past the homey scenes of a beautiful harbor, hanging melons, frying fish, but the only tourist site she’s interested in is the massive building built entirely of cold rock and Manichean symbolism.

Her plan may be drawn from the Underpants Gnome school of retribution. (“1. House of Black and White. 2. ??? 3. Vengeance!”) But this is all she has left: a coin, a badass fighting stance and the name of a guy. Because there’s no good sensei story without a challenge, she’s met be a strange elderly man who turns her away. Later, he reveals himself as the face-shifting J’aqen, though he denies that name. He’s no one–he has many faces, but no identity–and if she enters the building that’s who she will have to become too.

Message: when you make a list of names for revenge, save a line at the bottom for your own.

If that’s some kind of cautionary parable, though, no one’s listening. Certainly not Cersei, who has issued a bounty that is reaping her dwarfheads by the bagful from opportunistic bounty hunters. Not Brienne, driven across the countryside by duty and unquenched fury of Renly’s murder. Not Stannis, of the inflexible code of justice, who tells Jon Snow that if you want to be followed, you need to be feared.

And it’s not long before we’re in our first new location, Dorne, which is beautiful and angry. Someone has FedExed Cersei a gorgeous hexagonal box with a snake–symbol of Dorne–and the necklace of her daughter Myrcella, living as a ward/hostage in the land whose prince, Oberyn, her champion the Mountain recently made into head-jelly.

It’s a threat, but not a certain one: back at the Water Gardens, Ellaria Sand is arguing with Prince Doran whether to punish Myrcella–an eye for Oberyn’s literal eyes. “We do not mutilate little girls for vengeance,” he answers. “Not here. Not while I rule.”

From the looks of things, the argument is not over. But he has powerful recent history on his side. The reason Oberyn came to King’s Landing at all, and accepted the battle with the Mountain so gladly, was vengeance for his own sister, brutally raped and murdered in the sack of King’s Landing. Does it do anyone any good to launch another round, paying it forward to another innocent and ensuring yet another reprisal, when the view of the gardens is so lovely?

It may be a moral question–turn the other cheek and all that–but because Game of Thrones is very much a political story too, it’s also a practical one. On the one hand, maybe you can reign more peacefully and prosperously if you’re willing to risk weakness and break the cycle. On the other hand, how do you do that without rewarding the very worst?

These are the irreconcilable questions facing Dany, in a conquered Meereen where everyone is keeping a list. The Sons of the Harpy are waging urban guerilla warfare in payback for the slave rebellion, and former slaves are paying back the payback. Ser Barristan counsels her that her father, the Mad King, acted out of a sense of cruel, deserved justice and it was his downfall. Her Meereen aides argue that the slave masters–the same ones who crucified children on the road–only understand cruelty. (Complicating everything is that the Harpy murderers aren’t the slavemasters themselves, but poor freedmen paid to do their dirty work. Vengeance, as so often in real life, really means taking the low-hanging fruit.)

They’re all right, and thus all wrong. And when Daenerys tries to balance the scales by using due process, that goes wrong too: the prisoner is murderered in custody, which finally pushes Dany to lose the moral high ground–and at least some of her subjects’ affection–by having him summarily executed.

So justice has been done. Payment has been exacted. The scales have been balanced. And everybody is better off–not least Dany, who alienated her “children” in Meereen, and ends the episode looking out on the landscape as her dragon-child Drogon flies off over the dusky horizon.

It’s as if she’s looking into the future, one in which all debts are paid, all grievances settled, a land where justice is so thorough and complete that there’s no one left to live in it.

Now for the hail of arrows:

* “But you forgot about…!” There’s a hell of a lot of story in Game of Thrones, and as in my reviews of past seasons, I can think of nothing more useless than trying to mention every last thing that happened in every episode. Each week, I’ll write about the stuff that interests me most. Feel free to take it from there in the comments!

* We got a whopping new diversion from the source books this week, which I’ll spoiler-blur for those of you who don’t want to know how things go down in the original:

Brienne finds Sansa! I didn’t have this one in my Game of Thrones betting pool, but not only does it make for the action sequence of the week–as Brienne is slyly rebuffed by Littlefinger, then goes berserker on his knights in her getaway–it also solves a couple of narrative problems from A Feast for Crows. First, we no longer need follow Brienne trudging, and trudging, and trudging, through the countryside before finally getting strung up by the (no longer on the scene) Lady Stoneheart. Second, we had just about exhausted the existing from-the-books Littlefinger and Sansa story by this point. Like other changes, this one is driven by efficiency: don’t keep people sidelined, don’t introduce new characters where existing ones will do. The result may be better or worse, but the storyline is riding fast into unknown woods, and I like it.

* So how cornball are the House of Black and White sequences? We’re treading perilously close to Yoda/Miyagi territory with the mystic Eastern music and a-girl-must-become-nothing-isms. (And though I’m being that guy, it’s a shame that when a show that’s created a very white Westeros casts an older black man, his face is literally wiped after two scenes.) On the other hand, I loved how Thrones physically represented J’aqen’s transformation, with the camera passing behind Arya’s head just in time to catch the barest glimpse of a skin being pulled to the side of J’aqen’s cowl. And who am I kidding? I’m a sucker for cornball sensei-learner sequences; there’s a good reason we see them so often.

* “We’ve already got a ruler. Everywhere has got a ruler. Every pile of shit by the side of every road has someone’s banner hanging from it.” I will happily take a full hour of the Varys and Drunk Tyrion show every week.

* I suppose I should mention that Jon got himself elected Lord Commander (albeit turned down becoming Lord of Winterfell), which I assume means that he just bought a bigger load of problems. Still the election was satisfying, if nothing else for Sam sending Janos Slynt straight to the burn unit for cowering in the larder during the battle with the Wildlings. And in scenes like this–the divided cliques, Maester Aemon slyly casting the deciding vote–The Wall reminds me of a really dark version of Hogwarts.

* “Jaime fookin’ Lannister!” Ah, I fookin’ missed you too, Bronn.


Five Fantasy Epics That Would Have Made for Better TV Than Game of Thrones

HBO A dragon from HBO's Game of Thrones

Not big on George R.R. Martin's mammoth creation? Here are five other series that deserve their own shot at television glory

When I bought A Game of Thrones in New York Penn Station about five years ago, I did not expect it to transport me on a journey of imagination spanning continents and dynasties. I did expect it to get me back to Washington.

Somewhere around Newark Liberty International Airport, I realized that I had started it before, more than a decade earlier. From the ages of about 13 to 15, I was rarely parted from the company of a paperback fantasy novel, usually one in a series of six or more volumes.

The ’80s and ’90s were a golden era for fantasy epics like A Game of Thrones, which was first published in 1996. I can still recall the aisle of the Barnes & Noble in Charlottesville, Va., appropriately placed directly between the rows of Fiction & Literature and the children’s section. One arrived there after the Narnia books (abandoned halfway through The Silver Chair) but before graduating to Bradbury and Vonnegut. Judging by the sheer volume of sex scenes, the audience was very clearly teenage boys.

The fact that I never got very far into Game of Thrones the first time around doesn’t say much for it, because my standards were not high in those days. But it was a late train, I was tired, and I thought I would give it another try.

By Philadelphia, there were three unrelated characters with grey eyes, but at least the plot was mildly engrossing. I got as far as this sentence:

The girl brushed her hair until it shone like molten silver, while the old woman anointed her with the spiceflower perfume of the Dothraki plains, a dab on each wrist, behind her ears, on the tips of her breasts, and one last one, cool on her lips, down there between her legs.

I read up on the rest of the plot on Wikipedia.

For a book categorized as fantasy, the book is surprising unoriginal. The dragons are generic, the magic is vague, and the politics are straight out of medieval Europe by way of Dungeons & Dragons. This is a charge one could levy against a good portion of the genre. But there were a few gems in that aisle that I still recall fondly. Here are five series that would have made for much better TV than Martin’s now very popular epic. (My memory is augmented in most places by Wikipedia.)

1. The Dragonlance Chronicles
Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Debuted in 1984 with Dragons of Autumn Twilight

A reunion of seasoned adventurers goes awry when they are attacked by minions of the Dragon Highlords. The first three novels center on this memorable set of characters, from the priestess Goldmoon of the Que-Shu tribe to Raistlin Majere, the secretive wizard who is drawn to evil and power even as his twin brother Caramon struggles to save his soul. Their conflicting agendas play out amid a continent-wide battle that includes awakening dragons and warring gods. For producers worried that three books aren’t enough, there’s a second trilogy focusing on the Majere twins, two final novels devoted to the second generation of the original companions, and at least one other trilogy written after I outgrew the series.

2. The Dragon Prince Trilogy
Melanie Rawn. Debuted in 1988 with The Dragon Prince.

I confess that I was drawn to the first volume of this series largely because of the cover, but if I came for the partial nudity–I was 14–I stayed for the sunrunners, a species of wizard who draw their power from sunlight to manipulate fire and commune with dragons (who have temperaments and lifespans similar to German Shepherds). Fans of George R. R. Martin’s palace intrigue will find a more satisfying and legible plot in the jockeying viceroyalities that Rawn imagines. The first series spans two decades and three generations, and is followed by a second trilogy that expands on the world of sorcery and introduces a new threat of invasion from across the sea. Sound familiar?

3. The Immortals
Tamara Pierce. Debuted in 1992 with Wild Magic.

“The Immortals” is actually the second quartet of novels that Pierce set in the world of Tortall. The first, “The Song of the Lioness,” told the story of a girl named Alanna who goes uncover as a boy in order to train to become a knight. That series is aimed at a slightly younger audience, if I recall. The world of Wild Magic, in which and older Alanna plays a small role, centers on an orphan named Daine who can speak with animals and shape-shift into their form. There is a particularly original and horrifying lineup of monsters in this one, including metallic vultures with human heads that eat the dead. The Alanna material would make for a solid prequel, and there are a bunch of other books set in the universe that I never read.

4. The Tribe of One Trilogy
Simon Hawke. Debuted in 1993 with The Outcast

The Tribe of One takes place in the long-suffering desert planet of Athas, a richly imagined world that originally served as the setting for the Dungeons & Dragons imprint Dark Sun. A novel based on a tabletop game does not sound like a recipe for entertainment, but the entire genre essentially owes its origin to the role-playing game whether sanctioned or otherwise. (The Dragonlance Chronicles also has a D&D tie-in). The trilogy focuses on Sorak, who enjoys a sort of psychic multiple-personality disorder that gives him powerful ESP. His journeys take him to Tyr, home to a clandestine order known as the Veiled Alliance that opposes the parasitic Sorcerer-Kings who are sapping the planet’s life. There are traces of Dune mixed with Jedi-like powers and a healthy side of murderous human-sized praying mantises.

5. The Wheel of Time
Robert Jordan. Debuted in 1990 with The Eye of the World.

I never actually got into these books, but they are probably the most popular epic in the teen-fantasy catalogue. A pilot of a TV series aired as sponsored programming on FXX recently, though possibly only as a means of prolonging the rights to the story. A serious attempt would surely find a wide audience.

Runner-up: The Sword of Truth
Terry Goodkind. Debuted in 1994 with Wizard’s First Rule.

In retrospect, this series, which appears to have gone on for ten more books after I stopped reading them, has a lot of the same repugnant sadism and ritualized sex as Game of Thrones. The plot of the first book is also almost a comical knock-off of Star Wars, from the discovery that the protagonist Richard’s old mentor is actually a powerful wizard to the twist in the relationship between Richard and the villain, Darken Rahl. (Take a guess.) But I remember enjoying the first three or four of them. An attempt to adapt the series for television already ran two seasons from 2008 to 2010. One imagines HBO would have more success with the material.

TIME Television

HBO Tells Brooklyn Bar to Stop Showing Game of Thrones

HBO reportedly said its content can't be shown in a public setting

The most pirated television show online is no longer welcome to be screened at a Brooklyn bar.

Videology, a bar and screening room in the borough’s Williamsburg neighborhood, was told by HBO to stop screening the hit show on Sunday nights, which it has done for the past two years. It’s the first time the establishment, which also screens Mad Men, has been asked to stop showing a particular program, bar co-owner James Leet told the Village Voice. He said it was unfair that only his bar was targeted when many others the area show the same program.

HBO reportedly told Leet that its content can’t be shown in a public setting, a decision that came in the wake of the recent leak of this season’s first four episodes.

“We’re sorry that our fans will not be able to see it in the future here,” Leet added, noting that some bar-goers had even shown up in costume. “We know they really enjoyed it, and we’re sorry we can’t do that for them anymore.”

[Village Voice]

TIME Television

Jon Stewart Explains Why He’s Leaving The Daily Show

Jon Stewart Portrait Session
Victoria Will—Invision/AP Jon Stewart poses for a portrait in promotion of directorial and screenwriting feature debut Rosewater on Nov. 7, 2014

Politics, in part

Among the reasons why longtime Daily Show host Jon Stewart decided to leave the satirical news program is the upcoming presidential election.

Stewart made clear to the Guardian that it wasn’t that his show wasn’t working anymore — “It was more, ‘Yup, it’s working. But I’m not getting the same satisfaction’” — but rather he just didn’t see an election that would be “wildly different” from any of the previous ones he had covered.

“Honestly, it was a combination of the limitations of my brain and a format that is geared towards following an increasingly redundant process, which is our political process,” he said. Another plus of leaving? Not having to watch the news to keep up: “Watching these channels all day is incredibly depressing.”

Stewart, who began hosting the show in 1999, announced in February that he would leave the show at some point this year. He has a 10-year-old son and a 9-year-old daughter, and said he would like to be able to spend more time with them.

South African comedian Trevor Noah was named Stewart’s successor.

Read more at the Guardian.

TIME Television

Anne of Green Gables Star Jonathan Crombie Dead at 48

Ahmanson Theatre Opening Performance Of "The Drowsy Chaperone"
Ryan Miller—Getty Images Jonathan Crombie during the party for the opening night performance of "The Drowsy Chaperone" held at the CTG Ahmanson Theatre on July 9, 2008 in Los Angeles.

The actor was best known for his role as Gilbert Blythe

Jonathan Crombie, the actor who played Gilbert Blythe in the CBC miniseries Anne of Green Gables, has died. He was 48.

His sister Carrie Crombie told CBC News that her brother died of brain hemorrhage in New York City on April 15.

Crombie’s best-known role was as Gilbert Blythe, the love interest and boy next door in the Anne of Green Gables TV movies. Cast in the first film at the age of 17, Crombie beat out many actors including Jason Priestley. Crombie was also the son of David Crombie, the mayor of Toronto from 1972 to 1978.

“He was funny, he was sweet, he loved acting, he loved comedy and singing and dancing. As a little kid, he just loved Broadway shows and all of that kind of stuff and would sing and dance in the living room,” his sister said.

TIME Television

Why Stephen Colbert Wouldn’t Want to Take Over The Daily Show

George Lucas, Stephen Colbert
Charles Sykes—Invision/AP George Lucas, left, and Stephen Colbert attend the Tribeca Talks: Director Series during the Tribeca Film Festival at the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center on April 17, 2015, in New York.

“I don’t want to be the guy who takes over for Jon Stewart"

Stephen Colbert had a quick response when George Lucas asked him on Friday why he wasn’t taking over The Daily Show from Jon Stewart.

“Don’t you think the perfect choice to replace that Jon Stewart fella would have been you?” Lucas asked Colbert at a Tribeca Film Festival panel, according to Deadline. “And now you’re working at Late Show where nobody sees you. Who stays up past 1 a.m.? Wouldn’t you say, I’m taking over the crown?”

Colbert replied, “I don’t want to be the guy who takes over for Jon Stewart. I’ve worked with him, and my memories of him is that he’s the keenest, most intelligent, most beautifully deconstructive mind—the clearest thinker I ever worked for. I would never get underneath his shadow. Someone else who doesn’t love him as much might have a better time on that show than I ever would.”

Stephen Colbert is taking over from David Letterman as the host of The Late Show on CBS, starting this fall. Comedian Trevor Noah is set to be Jon Stewart’s replacement on The Daily Show.


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How Ari Millen Learned to Act With Himself After Joining Orphan Black‘s Clone Club

BBC America Ari Millen in Orphan Black

Luckily, Tatiana Maslany was around to help

When Ari Millen signed on to play Mark, a clean-cut member of the extremist Prolethean religious sect on the electrifying sci fi show Orphan Black, he had no idea that by the end of Season Two he would be the face of a new line of militaristic male clones. “It wasn’t until two weeks before we shot the season finale of season two that they let me know,” Millen says. “It was a big surprise to me too!”

The surprise was made even bigger due to the fact that Millen had originally been told that his character was going to die. Instead, in the show’s third season, which launches April 18 on BBC America, Millen plays not only Mark, but also Rudy, an unbalanced soldier with a serious facial scar; Seth, a mustachioed piece of muscle; and Miller, a soldier with a prosthetic leg. And there could be even more characters bearing Millen’s face as the mysteries of the male clone program, Project Castor, are revealed.

For Millen, who previously had small roles on Rookie Blue, The CW’s Reign and SyFy’s 12 Monkeys, his one-season arc has transformed into what could potentially be the role of a lifetime. Getting your acting dream job means a lot of hard work, though. “To say it isn’t a challenge would be a lie, but it’s a fun challenge,” says Millen. “To get on a show and get to play one character is a successful moment in any actor’s career. To get to express yourself creatively in several ways on the same show is a dream.”

After producers told him that his role was going to be drastically expanded (or cloned, if you will), Millen had to figure out, logistically as well as artistically, how to make it work. “Luckily I had the whole off-season to formulate it in my head and figure out who these guys were,” he says. “I wasn’t thrown into the deep end right away.”

He’s also fortunate in that he’s walking a path trailblazed by Tatiana Maslany, who plays an evolving number of clones on the show with a seeming effortlessness. Millen seems poised to follow suit, thanks in part to Maslany’s guidance. “She’s one of the most supportive people you would ever want to be teamed up with,” says Millen. “For me, I do a lot of learning visually. So at the clone dance party, I went in and I watched her maneuver through some of the technical aspects. I saw how she moved from one character to the other and I got a little idea of how to do it. Through season three, whenever I got the chance I would just watch. If I saw something that I hadn’t thought of, I would try it out and see if it worked for me.”

Another difficult task facing Millen this season is that while Maslany’s clones run the gamut of personality types, Millen’s clones are all cut from a similar tightly-wound military cloth, making differentiating between them even more challenging. “The biggest challenge for me is, Project Castor grew up self aware. Because of that, they are a lot more similar than Project Leda. So I tried to find to find small little differences between the similarities,” says Millen. “Sometimes it was hard to switch between them, but luckily I had very patient screen partners, and if a scene came out too Rudy and I needed to make it more Mark, we would just do another take.”

In each scene, to determine how each of the clones he plays will interact with all the other clones he’s playing, Millen has to plan ahead. “Normally, I will approach a scene and think, ‘Okay, I’m this character and this where they want to go and this is what they want to get at.’ The huge challenge this season is planning both sides of the scene, making sure that both voices are heard, because when you shoot the scene, you can only do one character at a time. At the beginning, I would sometimes forget that in a few hours I would have to be on the other side, talking to myself,” says Millen. “I’ve had to learn to give and take with myself, which is really weird.”

Millen works with a body double, Nick Abraham, who stands in for him while he maps how he and his clones will act out a scene. “We would discuss the scene beforehand, run it with Nick, and run it again with the tennis balls,” says Millen. “That was really interesting. I don’t think you can prepare for acting, or reacting, to a tennis ball. It’s a really weird process.”

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