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Matthew Gilbert
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  • Matthew Gilbert

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  • Ken Burns tightens his focus in 'The Address'

    Ken Burns's new PBS film, "The Address," is a bit off-brand. It's a tightly focused piece of cinema verite that's as much about a contemporary school for learning-challenged boys, the Greenwood School in Putney, Vt., as it is about the title, which refers to the Gettysburg Address. At 84 minutes, and narrated by seven of the students, the film is an often touching, sometimes dull, and always well-intentioned portrait of struggling kids and committed teachers. "The Address" tries to link the kids' ostracism to the equality message of Abraham Lincoln's speech, and we are given a few minutes of Civil War history along the way. But really, the documentary is all about the kids as they attend classes and meet with teachers. Ultimately, it is Burns's heartfelt tribute to the Greenwood School more than anything more thematic.(   04/15/2014 12:00 AM )

  • Don's soul is in the balance as 'Mad Men' returns

    About eight minutes into the seventh-season premiere of "Mad Men," Don Draper finally appears. With "I'm a Man" by the Spencer Davis Group building on the soundtrack, a tightly cropped shot gives us Don looking at himself in an airplane bathroom mirror. If you're a fan of "Mad Men," you'll probably view this as a richly symbolic opening statement of intent: We are reflecting on Don Draper, a man in flight, and so is he. And if you're a fan of "Mad Men," you'll probably find the next sequence -- dapper Don on a moving sidewalk at LAX, standing still but still in motion -- equally and thrillingly emblematic. And if you're a fan, you'll probably continue to get lost in the premiere's operatic, melodramatic, cinematic, and literary progress, scene by evocative scene.(   04/12/2014 6:00 PM )

  • The Ticket: TV

    Game of Thrones 9 p.m., HBO Yup, this is a great episode. If you're a lover of this show, you will remember this hour for the rest of the season. Then jump to "Mad Men" at 10. #GOT4EVER MONDAY APRIL 14 Friends With Better Lives 8:30 p.m., CBS Don't turn to this new sitcom for solace after the departure of "How I Met Your Mother." It's a forced attempt at an ensemble sitcom, with only James Van Der Beek standing out. TUESDAY APRIL 15 The Address 9 p.m., PBS This one-off Ken Burns documentary is about a small school in Putney, Vt., where students memorize and recite Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address every year. The 90-minute film also looks at the historical context and importance of the speech.(   04/12/2014 6:00 PM )

  • Stephen Colbert a wise choice to succeed David Letterman

    It's a testament to Stephen Colbert's great abilities that, when news hit Thursday that he would be succeeding David Letterman as host of CBS's "The Late Show" next year, many were mystified. Colbert is a character, the Twitter chorus cried out, not a talk-show host. He's a construct, not a real person. But of course Colbert is very real, not to mention personable and, occasionally, sincere, as anyone who has heard or seen him interviewed knows. He's just such a killer improvisational actor that he has been able to fool viewers into forgetting all about the actual Stephen Colbert. He has turned his right-wing blowhard character, host of Comedy Central's "Colbert Report," into a compelling national figure, and extended that parody seamlessly into the real world.(   04/10/2014 9:19 PM )

  • TV Critic's Corner for Friday, April 11

    The MTV Movie Awards Sunday at 9 p.m., MTV Conan O'Brien hosts this annual nothing-fest, which is just another excuse for Hollywood to reach the souls and wallets of the younger demographics, as if the kids don't already have enough corporate vultures circling them, eyeing them covetously. Shailene Woodley, Cameron Diaz, and Zac Efron, among others, will be presenting MTV's Golden Popcorns to actors who are already getting way too much attention. OK, breathe.(   04/10/2014 6:00 PM )