Fresh Air's TV critic David Bianculli liked so many shows this year that he says he couldn't pick just 10 favorites. Instead, he split his favorites into several lists, including best documentaries and best scripted comedies/dramas.
Bianculli also highlights some of the worst shows to hit TV screens this year â€” including not one but two shows featuring Snooki.
Despite his Snooki misgivings, Bianculli says it was a banner year for TV.
"There is more good television on a weekly basis than there has ever been," Bianculli says. "I am absolutely certain of it."
If you were a New York teenager who played an instrument and wanted to be in a band, and all of a sudden British groups were coming to town and attracting rioting mobs of teenage girls, you might feel a certain urgency to get something together. Tom Finn had already had a band, The Magic Plants, when he ran into a guy named Steve Martin-Caro, a Spanish high-school student who recently arrived in the city, as they attempted to navigate the scene outside the hotel where The Rolling Stones' members were staying in 1965. The two became friends and decided to form another band.
When filmmaker David Fincher asked Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor and his songwriting partner Atticus Ross to compose the music for his U.S. film adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Fincher had one request: for the music to sound 'textural.'
So Reznor and Ross, who won an Oscar for their score of Fincher's 2010 film The Social Network, experimented with sounds created by stretched-out bell tones, piano beds filled with nails and clothespins, and mixes of distorted instruments played imperfectly.
Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
The fourth Mission: Impossible picture is nonsense from beginning to end â€” and wonderful fun. The director is Brad Bird, of Ratatouille and The Incredibles and The Iron Giant, and there's no doubt now, in his live-action debut, that he's a filmmaker first and an animator second. Part 4, titled Mission: Impossible â€” Ghost Protocol, is in a different league from its predecessors.
When Elmo first appeared on Sesame Street, the little red monster had a deep voice and rarely laughed. But then puppeteer Kevin Clash started working with the furry red creature. Clash, now the senior puppet coordinator and Muppet captain on Sesame Street, further developed Elmo's lovable personality and started providing his trademark voice. Over the past 25 years, Clash has transformed Elmo into one of the most recognizable characters on Sesame Street.
Tikva Records was founded in 1947 as an independent Jewish record label. For the next 30 years, it would record an eclectic range of Jewish-American songs, including klezmer pop, cantorial singing, Catskills medleys and Israeli folk tunes.
Tikva Records folded in the late 1970s, but a number of singles on the label have been re-released by the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding and preserving Jewish music through museum exhibits, concert showcases and reissues of lost Jewish classics and compilations.
This interview was originally broadcast on December 13, 2010. Apollo's Angels is now available in paperback.
It is ballet season, which means many companies are performing The Nutcracker for the holidays and preparing their big shows for the winter months. Everywhere you turn these days, you can see toe shoes â€” but there is a deep and fascinating history to the art form that few people know.
This year-end list is dominated by fiction, but a couple of nonfiction titles also made the cut as well. Book critic Maureen Corrigan says that 2011 was a banner year for fiction â€” especially for several first-time novelists.
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There's a nice contrast among the three quintets heard on Dave Douglas' Three Views, sketching out some of his interests. There's no overlapping repertoire or personnel. The Orange Afternoons session features the elastic rhythm trio of pianist Vijay Iyer, Linda Oh on bass and drummer Marcus Gilmore.