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Friday, November 9, 2018

TV/STREAMING . . .

Modern Family Twist: Who's Pregnant? First a death, now a new life. Modern Family is clearly doing it all this season, as just a couple episodes after we learned that DeDe Pritchett (Shelley Long) had passed away, we've now found out that Haley (Sarah Hyland) is pregnant! The news came out after Haley got her lipstick stuck all the way up her nose during a round of bumper cars with Dylan (Reid Ewing) and had to go to the emergency room, all because they were trying to prove they were grown up, mature adults by being the oldest people playing games at the carnival. Haley and Dylan (the father? probably?) had to find out from the nurse, who was a little weirdly casual when she realized her patient had absolutely no idea what was going on. Haley had been feeling insecure after Luke (Nolan Gould) used his new psych class knowledge to assess his family's personality types and declared that Haley was a Peter Pan who didn't want to grow up, so she and Dylan were going to go to a 4 1/2 hour play before deciding bumper cars were a better, much more adult idea. As fun as it was to see Haley's eyes go real big there at the end when the nurse told her the news, we can't help but wonder what it would have been like to watch Haley figure out the pregnancy herself. She's not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, and we wouldn't have been shocked to someday see her on I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant. A true missed opportunity. But regardless of how she found out, this is going to be wild. Haley as a mother is one thing, but if Dylan's the father, that's like a whole show in itself. His solution to the lipstick up Haley's nose was to try and hit her from the other side! He's gonna break this child! And what will they name it?! Elsewhere Wednesday night, Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cam (Eric Stonestreet) had adopted a chicken, and while Cam pretended he loved the chicken, Mitch pretended he didn't love the chicken, and didn't love going to the feed store to pretend he was a farmer. Cam then got rid of the chicken by pretending a raccoon had gotten her, and then throwing her over the fence of a chicken farm, and honestly this made us a lot sadder than it should have. Jay (Ed O'Neill) and Gloria (Sofia Vergara) argued while trying to get Joe (Jeremy Maguire) to eat vegetables while Joe did his best to manipulate them both, but honestly the thing that killed us was Jay trying to referee a soccer game without a whistle, and just by yelling "Whistle! Whistle!" And finally, Alex (Ariel Winter) is up for a government job that requires a family interview, which obviously went very, very badly because Claire (Julie Bowen) wanted to fix the interviewer's notes and Phil (Ty Burrell) learned that he was a Russian spy (a Russian spy...named Phillip). Naturally. Modern Family airs Wednesdays at 9:00 p.m. on ABC. (Eonline)

American Horror Story: Apocalypse Explains a Lot But We're Still Confused. Dang it, nerds! American Horror Story: Apocalypse has been slowly shedding some light on exactly how the apocalypse came to be, and a few things made a whole lot of sense this week. After last week's strange and somewhat less-than-exciting episode saw Michael (Cody Fern) getting himself a new Kathy Bates from two nerdy engineers (Billy Eichner and Evan Peters in the worst wigs of all time) who build life-like female robots, this week showed us that the nerds could also control the robot. That meant that they could use it to put ideas into Michael's head -- ideas like "he should go back to the nerds and listen to them." So, he did, and they introduced him to "The Cooperative," also known as the Illuminati (LOL), and explained to him that as the Antichrist, he controlled the Cooperative, and he could end the world and destroy the witches. He then went to the Cooperative, made up of a whole bunch of masked rich people, and informed them that they and their families would be safe in a series of outposts, which they were also going to help build. Later, the nerds explained to their secretary, Ms. Venable, that they were going to build some outposts, and she could run one and make up all her own rules for the people inside it. So, we have two genius idiots to thank for all this, which is typical. Meanwhile, the witches tried to figure out what to do about Mr. Antichrist, especially after he attacked (with the help and encouragement of Dinah Stevens so she could get a talk show!) and murdered most of the coven. Cordelia had visions of finding her girls dead and not being able to bring them back, at which point Madison revealed that Michael can kill and completely erase people, to the point where their souls are just gone. That's when the witches decided to test out those powers Mallory has that people have been theorizing about. She can possibly reverse time, which could be extremely helpful in the face of Michael Langdon. They tested it by having her go back to Russia in 1918 and saving Anastasia. She didn't manage it, but she at least managed to go back to 1918 and almost save Anastasia, which was close enough to at least know she was capable of it. Now, in next week's finale, there are still quite a few questions to answer. What is the thinking behind sending Mallory and Coco to live in the bunker? Are the nerdy engineer versions of Billy Eichner and Evan Peters the same dudes who later end up in the bunker with their memories similarly erased? And also, why? Will they ever explain to us the point of those two starcrossed kids at the beginning of the season? Will we remember the rest of the stuff that happened at the start of this season well enough to even appreciate it if our questions get answered in the finale? All will be known next week! Hopefully! American Horror Story: Apocalypse airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX. (Eonline)

Why It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Finally Tackled Mac's Homosexuality (With One Spectacular Dance). It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a wonderfully bizarre show. The long-running comedy, which wraped up its 13th season on Wednesday, Nov. 7, is no stranger to, well, being strange. However, in "Mac Finds His Pride," the comedy went to another level -- poignancy. After years of jokes and innuendos, series creator Rob McElhenney's character, Ronald "Mac" McDonald, came out of the closet, and in "Mac Finds His Pride," he came out to his father through a rather stunning choreographed dancer number. It's a personal triumph and moment of growth for Mac, and surprisingly Frank (Danny Devito). During the episode, Frank and his increasingly disfigured and injured face, took Mac around to find his place in the gay community so he could be the token gay in the gang's pride parade float. They hit up an S&M dungeon and a drag brunch in an effort to make Mac more comfortable. Ultimately, Mac needed to feel comfortable with himself, embrace his sexual orientation, and confront the "storm" that was going on inside of him, all the while coming out to his dad. That storm was illustrated through an impressive dance routine with a female playing god. It took McElhenney roughly four or five months to learn with choreographers Alison Faulk and Leo Moctezuma. "Yeah, that took months. I don't really know how to dance. I've never really been a dancer. And I still can't dance. I can just do that routine," he said. The cast, which also includes Kaitlin Olson and Charlie Day, performed a table read of "Mac Finds His Pride" at the 2018 Television Critics Association press tour. There, McElhenney said exploring Mac's sexual orientation and this episode was something that slowly evolved over time. "And then, this year, Charlie and I decided that this was something we were going to focus on, at least for one particular episode," he said. McElhenney, whose mother came out as a lesbian when he was young, said he felt like the show handled Mac's coming out "pretty well," but "at the end of the day, it was still an episode of comedy and I just assumed that people were laughing along with us." However, that changed when he looked at social media. "And through social media, I had a massive response of our fans in the LGBTQ community that reached out and told me how moved they were and how important it was to them that they felt represented on a show that they loved. And I just was not expecting that," McElhenney said. "I mean, thousands and thousands and thousands of people. And I just didn't think that we were that kind of show, and it turned out that we were for people. And so we wanted to honor that and do something that, you know, felt very different from what we normally do, that we would create an episode that seems like it's going in one direction and then pull the rug out from underneath." Day, who wrote the episode with McElhenney, said over the years the show has been able to tackle a variety of different topics and genres. "I mean, one of the great things that we get to do is try different things with our episodes, and some of the uncharted waters, if you want to call them that, were genuine emotion," Day said. "And once we stumbled on the episode becoming more about Frank being more tolerant and accepting something, we thought, well, this is something we haven't really done, which is our characters rarely change or learn. And it was nice to tell a story that way. Maybe it's just because we're getting older, but and we still have most of the episodes are still pretty typical in the format of just they're there to be funny. But it was nice to try something, for lack of a better term, heartfelt." It's Always Sunny will return for season 14 on FXX. (Eonline)

Revenue Up, Profit Down as RTL Group Negotiates Digital Shift. The European giant, which controls 'American Idol' producer Fremantle, saw strong digital growth but weaker results in traditional TV. European TV giant RTL Group reported a slight revenue jump in the first nine months of 2018, even as profits slipped. The company, whose assets include production giant Fremantle (X Factor, American Idol) and dozens of TV and radio stations across Europe, posted revenues of $5.12 billion (4.468 billion) for the nine months ending September 2018, a 2.7 percent increase. Net profit attributable to RTL Group shareholders was down $11.5 million (10 million) over the same period to $486 million (424 million). RTL is in the midst of a major strategic shift as the traditional TV giant negotiates a move to an online, digital world. On the production side, Fremantle, a group built on entertainment shows like X Factor and American Idol, is pushing into high-end drama, with series such as American Gods for Starz and HBO's My Brilliant Friend. RTL Group's digital revenue was up 17.9 per cent to $756 million (660 million) in the first three quarters of 2018, while revenue from its online platforms grew 7.3 percent to $288 million (251 million). Major sporting events, including the Winter Olympics and this summer's soccer World Cup, hit RTL's traditional, free-to-air advertising-driven business and negative exchange rate effects cost the company $73 million (64 million) over the nine-month period. TV advertising is still RTL Group's core business, though it now accounts for 46 percent of overall revenue, with just under 20 percent coming from the content business and around 15 percent from digital activities. RTL Group's nascent platform business accounted for 5.6 percent of total revenue in the first three quarters of this year, with the remainder coming from radio advertising and other activities. "The mixed developments of the European TV advertising markets show that we are on the right track with our clear focus on two growth areas: building and expanding our non-linear streaming platforms, and producing local exclusive content," said RTL Group CEO Bert Habets. "We will substantially increase the content offers of our streaming services across all genres this includes showing programs online first and developing original productions for these services." RTL Group confirmed it expects to meet its year-end target of moderate (2.5 percent to 5 percent) revenue growth for 2018 and stable operating (EBITDA) profits of between plus 1 and minus 1 percent, compared to 2017. (Hollywood Reporter)

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