Over the past few seasons, <em>Breaking Bad'</em>s Walter White (Bryan Cranston) has changed from meek hero to forceful villain. TV critic David Bianculli says he isn't just breaking bad anymore — he's entirely broken.
Credit Gregory Peters / AMC
<p>In Showtime's <em>Homeland</em>, Claire Danes plays a CIA agent who suspects a heroic American POW is actually a double agent for al-Qaida<em>.</em></p>
Timothy Olyphant plays Raylan Givens, a present-day U.S. marshal with Wild West inclinations, on the FX series <em>Justified</em>.
Credit Mark Seliger / FX
Larry David returned for an eighth season of <em>Curb Your Enthusiasm</em> this year.
Filmmaker Woody Allen was given the <em>American Masters</em> treatment this year on PBS.
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 — 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."
New polls — both in Iowa and nationwide — show front-running GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich losing his edge. Over at the New York Times' blog FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver's latest forecast shows Ron Paul taking the lead in Iowa.
Hospitals across the country are trying to clamp down on frequent readmissions in anticipation of new penalties Medicare is readying. But it's a bigger problem at hospitals that treat lots of low-income patients.
Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 8:26 am
When it comes to a gift that embodies the warmth and sharing of the holidays, food wins every time. This week, millions of boxes of treats are jetting across the country, spreading cheer and calories. We asked the denizens of NPR's science desk what food they're hoping to find on their doorsteps this week. Here are their picks, from traditional to outré.
There was a 9.3 percent rise in "housing starts" last month vs. October, the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development just reported.
"Single-family housing starts in November were at a rate of 447,000," the agencies say. "This is 2.3 percent above the revised October figure of 437,000." The really big increase was in construction of buildings with five or more living units. Starts in that category were up 32.2 percent.
Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 12:23 pm
Update at 12:56 p.m. ET. House Rejects Bill:
Voting mostly along party lines, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to send a Senate bill extending unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut to conference. With the Senate in recess, the move leaves the bill in limbo and could mean that come January, 2 million Americans will lose their long-term unemployment benefits and 160 million workers could see their taxes rise by 2-percentage points.
Before the vote, Democrats and Republicans went head to head on the House floor.