Things I Loved This Year: Jeannie Berlin in “The Night Of”

Each day this month (assuming I don’t get busy or bored!), I’ll reflect on a tiny sliver of pop culture that I enjoyed or appreciated this year — scenes, shots, gestures, verses, sights, sounds, moments. Today: Jeannie Berlin’s performance on HBO’s The Night Of.

Berlin.pngEven if you’ve never seen Jeannie Berlin — and given her slim IMDb resume, it’s quite possible you haven’t — you instantly feel a connection with her when she appears onscreen. She’s a character actress in the most widely accepted use of the term, someone who inspires the reaction, “Oh, her!”

She only appears in seven of the ten episodes of The Night Of, a “limited” series (maybe) created by Steven Zaillian and Richard Price that unspooled on Sunday nights this summer on HBO. Her character, veteran prosecutor Helen Weiss, is a tough nut to crack. She carries herself with dignity and poise, but also sneers at her conversation partners and appears unmoved by appeals to her emotions. For a few episodes, she’s a background player, visible in one or two scenes only to disappear for most of the main action.

And then the trial of our protagonist, maybe-murderer Naz Khan (Riz Ahmed), begins, and Helen Weiss shines.

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The M&M Report Predicts the 2016 Emmys

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It’s safe to assume that Veep will be among the winners at tonight’s presentation of the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards. But who will join them? Below, my podcast partner Devin Mitchell and I offer our predictions, which range from bold to conservative, optimistic to resigned.

We’ll regroup on a new episode of The M&M Report later this week to discuss takeaways from the ceremony and the outcomes of our predictions. Subscribe to the podcast in advance!

(Note: Devin and I wrote these predictions separately and combined them into a single post. We differ a lot!)

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The M&M Report: “The Night Of”

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Devin and I took a look back at HBO’s summer miniseries The Night Of, a crime procedural embedded under a thick layer of ambiguity and eccentricity. Not everything about the show worked for us, but we found plenty to enjoy and even more to discuss.


Subscribe to our podcast on iTunes and download the feed directly into the podcast app of your choice. If you have the time, rate and review us on iTunes as well. We’d greatly appreciate your support.

The M&M Report: The Bill Simmons Empire

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Devin and I have long been obsessed with Bill Simmons, his various websites, his similarly titled podcasts and now his curious HBO TV show. On this episode of The M&M Report, we sort out our complicated feelings about all of those elements of Simmons’ wide reach.

Listen here.

Subscribe to our podcast on iTunes and download the feed directly into the podcast app of your choice. If you have the time, rate and review us on iTunes as well. We’d greatly appreciate your support.

The M&M Report: “Veep,” “BrainDead” and D.C. TV

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Devin and I welcomed returning guest Erin Vail for a discussion of D.C. TV shows, prompted by the series premiere of BrainDead and the excellent fifth season of Veep, which wraps up on Sunday.

Don’t forget, you can now subscribe to our podcast on iTunes and download the feed directly into the podcast app of your choice. If you have the time, rate and review us on iTunes as well. We’d greatly appreciate your support.

Drop a Pin on Sunday’s “Veep”

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This season of Veep has been outstanding from minute one, but Sunday’s penultimate episode “Kissing Your Sister” rose to the top of an impressive heap. Eagle-eyed fans of the show know that the ninth episode of each season takes an experimental left turn. Last year’s ninth episode “Testimony” marked the left-est turn of them all, with a full episode of the characters’ hearings in front of Congress presented C-SPAN-style.

It’s early, but I’m confident that “Kissing Your Sister” at least matches that all-time outing, and maybe even exceeds it. It had a higher bar to clear, for one — Catherine Meyer’s fly-on-the-wall documentary has been a throwaway gag since the season premiere, and the juicy combination of the Meyer administration’s antics and a video camera appeared too fruitful not to re-emerge at the season’s climax. “Testimony” extended directly from the events of the episode that preceded it, but “Kissing Your Sister” wove a more complex and intricate narrative that extended back into the events of the entire season, occasionally replaying scenes from previous episodes from different angles or with additional context. The clever conceit of “Testimony” relegated most of the fast-paced action to the background or offscreen, but “Kissing Your Sister” gunned the plot engine even as the jokes flew fast and furious.

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