Joshua Alston

Stories by Joshua Alston

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    Can Spider-Man Be Black?

    The latest benefactor of the digital hive mind is Donald Glover, the African-American star of "Community" and former "30 Rock" writer who, through a series of comment discussions on a blog, found himself the people’s choice to star as Peter Parker in the forthcoming "Spider-Man" reboot from "(500) Days of Summer" director Marc Webb.
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    Gary Coleman of 'Diff'rent Strokes' Dead at 42

    Gary Coleman’s name became a stand-alone punchline, but that was no fault of his own. Granted, there was some unpleasantness later in his life by his own doing, but he had already made his biggest mistake, which was becoming a child star to begin with. Is there any other arc for child stars?
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    Jack Bauer’s Parting Shots

    A few weeks ago, Howard Gordon, longtime producer of Fox’s real-time thriller 24, said that audiences shouldn’t expect a happy ending for its central antihero, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland).
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    'Lost'-How Will It End?

    In “The Man From Tallahassee,” the 13th episode of the third season of Lost, tropical shyster Benjamin Linus (Michael Emerson) conducts a mental exercise with island devotee John Locke (Terry O’Quinn). “Picture a box,” says Linus. “What if I told you that somewhere on this island, there’s a very large box, and whatever you imagined, whatever you wanted to be in it…when you opened that box, there it would be.”
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    'Law & Order': A Show to Set Your Watch By

    And to think, they almost got away with it. Law & Order, Dick Wolf’s crime procedural, was canned by NBC last week, killing its chances of beating Gunsmoke for the title of longest-running prime-time drama.
  • Why You Aren't Watching BET's 'Sunday Best'

    As a general rule, American Idol seasons end up informally labeled with the names of their winners. Season one is the “Kelly Clarkson season,” season four the “Carrie Underwood season,” and season six the “Jordin Sparks season.” But for this, the current ninth season of Idol, I propose a break from tradition and submit that it be forever known as the “Murphy’s Law season,” because it seems at this point that any component of the Idol machine that can break down will do so, inevitably and catastrophically.
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    Warren Buffett's Animated Series

    When capitalists of every stripe descended on Omaha for the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, shareholders were treated to the premiere of Warren Buffett’s long-gestating animated series for kids, Secret Millionaires Club. In it, a multicultural trio of wealthy kids—Elena, Jones, and Radley—hang out with the Oracle of Omaha in an underground lair, talking strategy on earning and saving money.
  • Warren Buffett's Cartoon Money Tips

    Warren Buffett is trying to make frugal investing and thrifty living palatable to the Happy Meal set. A buy, sell or hold?
  • The Curse of ‘Twin Peaks’

    Twenty years after the David Lynch series debuted, ABC unveils ‘Happy Town.’ It looks familiar—and that’s not good.
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    Betty White's Triumph

    At 88, White is an unlikely candidate for Hollywood's buzziest actress, and yet here she is in the thick of an irony-free resurgence. Hot on the heels of her ballyhooed Super Bowl commercial for Snickers, she's got numerous film and television appearances lined up, including a hosting gig next month on Saturday Night Live and a starring role in a new sitcom, Hot in Cleveland. Based on recent interviews, White seems to be taking it all in stride, but her sudden cachet is pleasantly surprising. Her success subverts everything we think about the job prospects (not to mention life prospects) of aging women. It's a shame her new sitcom doesn't.
  • Why Shelving 24's Jack Bauer Is a Bipartisan Agreement

    On Friday, Fox announced that this season of the real-time thriller 24 would be the last. Immediately, the conversation seemed to turn toward whether the current political climate was too inhospitable toward 24's deeply entrenched Bush-era themes to last in an Obama age. Anyone who believes that also probably thinks that someone who gets killed off-camera is actually dead.The end of 24 has nothing to do with politics; it has to do with old age. 24 is in its eighth year, and after that many seasons, any show starts to reveal some fatigue. This is especially true for 24, a show with a basic premise so elaborate and limiting that critics once wondered how there could be a second season, let alone an eighth. But when it caught on, the writers made a way, as they so often do when they have a hit on their hands.Now that the show's ratings continue to sag, as the cost of making the explosion-heavy, ensemble-cast drama continues to rise, the time has come to retire Jack Bauer&apos...
  • Can Jamie Oliver Convince Americans to Eat Well?

    The toast of British food TV thinks he can revolutionize the way Americans eat with ABC's Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. Why his revolt has more to do with economics than Doritos.
  • TV Review: 'Who Do You Think You Are?'

    'Who Do You Think You Are?' NBC's new genealogy-themed reality show, dredges up details about celebrity's ancestors. How race casts a gruesome shadow on the results.
  • Skinheads on TV

    Harlan is not the charming, genteel Mayberry you'd expect from a small town in Kentucky with a population around 2,000. At least not in Justified, the new FX series starring Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens, a maverick U.S. marshal dispatched to Harlan after he gets trigger-happy on a suspect in a Miami restaurant. Raylan's boss thinks sending him back to his quaint small town will be the ultimate punishment. As it turns out, Raylan's childhood friend Boyd (Walton Goggins) now leads a white-supremacist group so brazenly violent, they fire rocket launchers at black churches and rob banks in broad daylight. Maybe it's just my naiveté, but having lived in cities large and small, both north and south of the Mason-Dixon, I can't recall ever having seen a skinhead wash his car, or eat an ice-cream cone, or even glower from a dusky corner.It turns out that Harlan's little local white-supremacy group is part of a real and growing problem. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center,...
  • TV Review: NBC Family Sitcom "Parenthood"

    Forget the Cleavers, the Tanners, and the Cosbys of yore: NBC's family sitcom Parenthood argues that normalcy isn't entertaining. Why we don't buy it.
  • Family Guy's Palin Lampoon: Not Funny

    'Family Guy' creator Seth MacFarlane is the latest TV personality to take aim at Sarah Palin. Why the jokes—and his brand of topical humor—fall short.
  • TV Review: 'How to Make It In America'

    On reality TV, mundane behavior nets you fame and fortune. When did scripted shows become the standard bearer for America's elbow-grease ethic?
  • TV's Newest Hero: The CEO

    Say what you will about CBS, but don't accuse it of safe programming. Sure, the network is overrun with middle-of-the-road fare such as Criminal Minds and Ghost Whisperer, but rather than give one of its highly rated dramas the benefit of the Super Bowl's massive lead-in audience, CBS chose a rookie: Undercover Boss, a new reality show starring well-heeled CEOs, which is perhaps the perfect postgame salve. Saints? Colts? Who cares? We can all agree on one thing: CEOs are losers.It's hard to imagine a more fraught time for a show about business bigwigs. CEOs sit at the bottom rung of favorability ratings, trailing even lawyers and—gasp!—members of Congress. In fact, Undercover Boss, in which CEOs surreptitiously work among their entry-level employees, is an extension of a recent trend in advertising to put head honchos in front of the camera. The CEOs of Sprint and Domino's Pizza have starred in commercials portraying them not as solemn stuffed suits but as everymen with jobs to do...
  • Jay Leno Does Damage Control

    How the besmirched dark knight of late-night television can regain his stature—and fans.
  • Why 'Lost' Is a Show About Faith

    In the beginning, Oceanic Flight 815 started shaking somewhere over the Indian Ocean. "My husband keeps reminding me that planes want to be in the air," Rose nervously tells the passenger sitting next to her, a levelheaded neurosurgeon named Jack Shephard. "Well, he sounds like a very smart man," Jack replies. Moments later, 815 is ripped into three pieces, emptying its contents onto a Chinese box of an island. Twenty minutes into the still-stunning pilot episode of Lost, the message was clear: there are situations in which book smarts are worthless, in which eggheads wind up with egg on their faces. Or, to borrow from the Book of Romans, "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." Lost is constantly alluding to the Bible: character identities (Shephard!), plotlines, explicit references to Scripture. As fans start speculating about the show's final season (set to launch on Feb. 2), they would do well to remember that more than anything else...
  • Can 'American Idol' Survive Without Simon?

    It's not just NBC struggling to keep its big stars happy. Fox made an equally risky move by letting Simon Cowell leave at the end of the season. Welcome to the new reality of network TV.