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Masters of Sex - Parliament of Owls - Season 3 Premiere Advance Preview: "A Master Class"

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Returning to Showtime on July 12 is the third season of acclaimed period drama Masters of Sex.

The season 2 finale left things in the winter of 1961 with John F. Kennedy making his inaugural speech as Libby began an affair of her own and Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson admitting failure in treating a couple. The season 3 premiere, titled "Parliament of Owls" picks up around 4 years later, with Masters and Johnson enduring a rigorous press conference on the contents of an advance copy of their book due to be published the following year.

This premiere truly is a master class. It's a beautifully constructed, written and directed piece of television which, in its own way, keeps you watching right through to the end. It seems to be a dying art among creative teams in being able to keep the viewer captivated without having to use high speed or action, and writer Michelle Ashford and director Jeremy Webb have nailed this aspect.

The episode actually splits its time between two different time zones, with the interactions of the entire main cast the subject of well rounded attention during a summer vacation some months prior to Masters and Johnson's press conference. In other television series it's common to differentiate the use of unique time zones by adding a different color mix or putting dates on the screen, but this wasn't the case in this premiere, so it pays to be on your toes and paying attention.

The summer vacation was where the bulk of time was spent and where most of the action happened. We are reintroduced to Virginia Johnson's now teenage children, Tessa and Henry. The creative team initiated what looks to be an interesting season for them, with both children coming to terms with their teenage years, their future lives, and their associated sexual urges and desires. The Masters' own young family cause their own sort of chaos too.

Often on the sideline in season 2, William Masters' wife Libby gets significant screen time as her struggles with raising a young family and her battle with depression and anxiety crop up. George Johnson, Virginia's ex-husband, also makes an appearance. Only a few brief moments are spent in the office where Betty DiMello and Lester Linden are sighted. I'm looking forward to seeing more of that duo as the season progresses.

The acting performances in the season 3 premiere are also worth a mention. Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan were sublime as always, and performed brilliantly in scenarios not seen before on the series. Sheen picked up a nomination for Best Actor in the 2014 Golden Globes while Caplan received a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series last year also. With the possible storytelling avenues opening up in this third season, the pair will have a big opportunity to go one further in next year's awards. All of the actors playing the children, in particular the teenage Johnsons were excellent, and should be great to watch during the season. I'm also interested to watch Caitlin FitzGerald's work as she portrays a struggling Libby Masters through some tough times.

In all, this is an outstanding season premiere, and foretells just a little of what looks to be an exciting season ahead. Check out the 90 second promo for season 3 here, the press release here, and a bunch of promotional photos here.

Thanks for reading? Have a question or three? Drop a comment below and I'll try to answer them!

Masters of Sex premieres Sunday July 12, 10pm, on Showtime.

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