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Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy Disappear into ‘Eleanor Rigby’

Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy Disappear into ‘Eleanor Rigby’

Screens: “If you’re going to start, you might as well start big,” an ambitious person once said. Ned Benson must have been paying attention, because for his first... By Cameron Meier 9/17/2014
The Permanent Gangsta Status of Mobb Deep’s Prodigy

The Permanent Gangsta Status of Mobb Deep’s Prodigy

Music: Prodigy, better known to ’90s rap aficionados as the prodigious half of Queensbridge duo Mobb Deep, has made a successful career operating on... By James Courtney 9/17/2014
Lt. Governor Race: the \'Luchadora\' vs. the Tea Party radio host

Lt. Governor Race: the 'Luchadora' vs. the Tea Party radio host

News: A few Saturdays ago, I spent several hours hanging around a Texas Realtors Association conference in San Antonio, trying to catch state Sen. Dan Patrick... By Alexa Garcia-Ditta 9/17/2014
Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
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Primal Screen

Fox's 'Touch' = A smoldering Sutherland, pseudo-religious hokum, and a 'magical Negro'

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Monster Man (9pm Wed, SyFy)

This delightfully sick reality series follows an old-school Hollywood special effects master — the go-to guy for movie monsters. Cleve Hall looks a bit like a monster himself, with his sinister black-rimmed eyes. He calls himself “one of the last of a dying breed,” meaning that he creates movie magic by hand in an age of digital effects.

Hall is the guy you seek out when you’re producing a horror movie about conjoined twins or a two-headed shark. He goes to work with fiberglass, silicone, foam, and spray paint, making subtle distinctions among his grotesque creations. “This is the kind of situation where I don’t want people to scream,” he says, pointing to a mutilated torso. “I want them to gasp.”

Yes, this is a man who takes his work seriously. And when everything goes right, he’s justifiably proud. Observing one of his monsters, a client says, “That’s a particularly nasty one right there.” For Hall, it’s the highest possible praise.

The Firm (8pm Sat, NBC)

This lawyer series premiered in January and lasted about a month in the prime Thursday night slot. An audience never materialized, so NBC moved it to the Saturday soon-to-be-canceled slot — “burning off the episodes,” in TV parlance.

I can see why The Firm didn’t catch on. We’d already read the 1991 book and seen the 1993 movie, so it felt like recycled material from a distant pop culture era. The tone is relentlessly tense as Mitch McDeere (Josh Lucas) defends clients while fleeing mobsters and jousting with cops. Who could look forward to a year’s worth of that anxiety-producing percussion on the soundtrack?

Then again, The Firm is perfect for an occasional lazy Saturday. If you’re sitting at home with nothing to do, the production will leave you thinking that you’ve had an intense evening of entertainment. In other words, while The Firm failed as a series, it makes for a strangely satisfying burn-off experience.

Mad Men (8pm Sun, AMC)

I smell liquor, cigarettes, and hairspray — it must be the long-awaited return of Mad Men after an 18-month hiatus. Season four ended with ad executive Don Draper (Jon Hamm) proposing to his young secretary (Jessica Paré) while 1960s Madison Avenue — with its sexism, infidelity, and alcoholism — found itself on the cusp of monumental change.

I’m pretty worked up about the season five premiere, but a couple of martinis and a smoke ought to calm me down.

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