Wednesday, December 11, 2013
In the early days of Survivor, there were some people who suggested they should do Survivor: Antarctica. Twenty-five seasons in and the show has stuck to warmer climates for one simple reason: hot chicks will not wear bikinis in the arctic. For those looking for a competition series that took place at the 66 parallel or higher, you were in luck when the National Geographic Channel greenlit Ultimate Survival Alaska. Granted despite having a similar name with Survivor, the show is much more The Amazing Race: Alaska Edition. The big difference is that these are teams of three and there are not automatic eliminations for last place, you just have to cross the finish line in the allotted time.
In all the seasons of Survivor, Michael falling into the fire back in season two remains the closest anyone on the show has come to a near death experience. In just the first episode alone, there are three moments when I thought there was a legitimate chance one of the guys were going to die on camera, or in the case of a kayaker capsizing and swept underwater, happing off screen. Capsizing in your local creek can have fatal consequences, doing it in glacier water just add in the risk of hyperthermia. And just to just how dangerous this can be one of the contestants recalls the time of his buddies fell into a crevasse and though they could hear him, they never saw him again as they were unable to get him out.
Ultimate Survival Alaska consists of eleven legs and each team has sixty hours to make it to the extraction point otherwise are eliminated from the competition (unlike The Amazing Race, there are no instant eliminations if all the teams make it on time). The four teams this season are made up former military members, endurance athletes, mountaineers, and woodmens which have the lone female in the competition who would make Sue Hawk look like a Victoria Secret model in comparison. I probably should not second guess these people from my couch but I had to question when one team skips the dogsleds to compete on foot and in next week’s episode when someone shots a fish in their boat (I will say I was right about one of these and wrong with the other). Ultimate Survival Alaska is premiring just as the most recent season of Survivor is coming to an end and if you need another competition series to tide you over until the next season to start up; you should definitely give Ultimate Survivor Alaska a look.
Ultimate Survival Alaska airs Sundays at 9:00 on National Geographic Channel. You can stream recent episodes on Hulu (if you cannot wait until Sunday, the season premiere is available to stream in its entirely as well as every first season episodes). You can lso download Ultimate Survival Alaska on iTunes.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
There have been a couple of videos that have caught my eye lately so I thought I’d give them some love since the death of Musical Television left a void for a forum on the art form. If you are interested in buying the video through iTunes, click the title link (where available). If you are interested in buying the song, look for a link in the analysis.
Earlier this year Macklemore and Ryan Lewis broke big with the ode the frugality Thrift Shop and then broke the bank with their world traveling Can’t Hold Us video. Lorde also broke with an anti-materialism song, but now as the biggest new artist of the year got a sizable budget for her next video too with an urban Lord of the Flies type video with her playing the queen bee (natch).
A lot of reviews of The Marshall Mathers LP 2 focus on the retro feel right to the lyrics about Monica Lewinski. But considering that Eminem also on the album admits he does not know how to download Ludacris and get on social media maybe he is actually stuck in the last century where Max Headroom is still a thing. But as long as he can still slay futuristic beats like this, The Marshall Mather LP 3 may be worth looking forward to even if it does not come out unto 2025.
C’mon Teh Killers, the reimagining the band’s history with a hot female lead singer was already done by Weezer. And if you are going to do it, you at least have to get an actress that will not get out acted by Elisha Cuthbert.
Just the other day I was suggesting that someone should remake the Mannequin movies where the titular character comes to life but only in the eyes of one dude. I wonder if the Daft Punk video is the closest I am going to get.
Monday, December 09, 2013
After a year hiatus The Sing-Off returns tonight and not a moment too soon because everyone worth rooting for on The Voice is long gone. It may not get The Voice time rating, The Sing-Off is the vastly superior singing competition. Where the solo singing contest will have plenty of contestants that will have you reaching for the fast forward button, even the worst group on The Sing-Off is still entertaining. And where the wrong song on The Voice will have you sent packing, there are no such things as bad song choice on The Sing-Off (case in point on tonight’s premiere there is a group of old black dudes who makes a cheesy One Direction song awesome while another makes that horrible Cruise song listenable). So in honor of the return of The Sing-Off here are my favorite performances from the first three seasons (links will take you to YouTube and you can purchase each performance with the iTunes button).
1. Ignition (Remix) - Darthmouth Aires
2. Sledgehammer - Nota
3. Put Your Records On - Afro-Blue
4. Wake Up - Season 3 Contestants
5. Gernade - Delilah
6. King of Anything - Sara Bareilles featuring The Backbeats
7. Paradise by the Dashboard Light - Darthmouth Aires with Amy Whitcomb
8. Fix You - Streetcorner Symphony with the Season 2 Contestants
9. Queen Medley - Darthmouth Aires
10. Under Pressure - Season 1 Contestants
11. American Boy - Afro-Blue
12. Breakeven - The Backbeats
13. Motownphilly - Boyz II Men featuring Committed
14. Dream On - Delilah
15. The Lazy Song - North Shore
16. Sweet Caroline - Beelzebubs
17. Mercy - Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town
18. Poison - Urban Method
19. All Night Long - Season 3 Contestants
20. I Still Havn't Found What I'm Looking For - Season 1 Contestants
21. Down on the Corner - Streetcorner Symphony
22. If I Were a Boy - The Backbeats
23. Love the Way You Lie - Urban Method
24. Come on Eileen - Streetcorner Symphony
25. The Show Goes On - The Yellowjackets
Sunday, December 08, 2013
2014 Grammy Nomination Special: It is odd to have your nominations at 10:00 on a Friday considering the weekend tends to be a wasteland for news. But after the nominations I understand why they had it on a day when most people deliver bad news. After last year when I actually enjoyed all five Album of the Years and was content with most everything in the big four. Well except that Call Me Maybe was was nominated for a songwriting award along with Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) which re-appropriated the Nietzsche saying for the umpteenth time in song.
The biggest shock of the night was Sara Bareilles getting Album of the Year nod for the underwhelming The Blessed Unrest, her weakest album to date. She shares the nomination with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis who somehow ranked up the second most nomination with seven including three of the big four. Not bad for the second coming of Vanilla Ice.
As for the snubs, Lorde seemed like the biggest lock for Best New Artist, yet when the nominees were announced, not surprisingly Macklamore and Ryan Lewis were joined by Kendrick Lamar (who grabbed the same amount of nominations as the duo), and country upstart Kacey Musgraves. The other two were a bit shocking especially considering they took the spot of Lorde who was arguably the most buzzed about new artist of the year and was peaking as the nominations were being decided.
First there was James Blake who is virtually unknown stateside (or very well in his native England) and was getting no buzz at all during awards season. No shots at James Blake because Retrograde will probably make my Best Songs of 2013 list (okay, one irrational shot, whenever I see his name I think of James Blunt which is a big negative), but he does not belong here. But Blake is not even the least deserving artist in the category; that honor goes to Ed Sheeran. Ed even seemed embarrassed when the camera cut to him after announcing he was nominated. Again, no shots at Ed, but he is not new. And not even in the way that Kacey Musgraves is technically on her fourth album kind of way. The guy was nominated for Song of the Year just last year and even performed at the award show. This year, his is up for nothing else (same as James Blake; though technically Ed is nominated for being on the Taylor Swift album) while Lorde is up for four awards including Song and Record of the Year. But I guess you cannot get too upset for Lorde not also getting the Best New Artist nomination, she will probably get one next year.
Once Upon a Time: Thank goodness, we are finally out of Neverland (so what if they did not bother to explain how Prince Charming is allowed to leave without dying). Oh wait, Pan is now in Henry’s body so that storyline will continue. Ugg.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Once Upon a Time on iTunes.
Homeland: I actually cheered when the roadside bomb went off. I should have known Brody would crawl out, the guy is a cockroach.
The Walking Dead: My favorite part of the episode is everyone saw Rick skitter behind the bus, and yet the Governor’s whole army marched right past him without even bothing to look to see if he was still there so Rick could tackle the Governor after every passed. There is nothing more entertaining than television characters that are AI video game dumb. My second favorite part was the mom who was so fixated on the water even though someone told her that walkers avoid water, keeping her back on her child and the big wooded area that could actually have walkers in it.
But it is time to say R.I.P. to Hershel. When the Governor captured him and Michonne it was pretty clear one of them would be assassinated by the Governor if not both. And Michonne actually has both of her legs. The Governor also became zombie chow but surprisingly it was not at the hands of Rick, Michonne (though she did leave him for the zombies, presumable, when she had the chance to finish him) but by the mother who we just met two episodes ago. I do wonder if we will see her, or her sister, again. I think they were the only two of the Governor’s army who ended the episode alive. I would not be surprised if they were the ones that took the baby and will raise them as their own until Rick happens across them at some point.
You can download The Walking Dead on iTunes.
Masters of Sex: I was wondering when the study start if they were using any sort of contraception and finally got my answer: apparently only a diaphragm which only has about a 95% success rate. I am not sure I like those odds.
The Blacklist: In an interview with one of the dudes behind Homeland, I remember him talking about how smart viewers are now and you can never surprise them with what happens, you can only surprise them with when it happens. I think about that a lot when watching The Blacklist. Most people had Lizzie being Red’s daughter as early as when NBC released its first trailer. I began to think that maybe Red may be the father of Lizzie’s husband instead when it was revealed her father was alive and well (as far as she knew) in the series premiere. But as time went on, I went back to thinking that it was Lizzie who came from Red’s loins, a fact that was all but confirmed when Red killed Lizzie’s “father” when her “father” wanted to tell her some big secret. So the question is not if Lizzie is Red’s daughter but when the writers let us in on this fact.
Being one of those “smart” television watchers that the Homeland dude spoke of, the winter finale seem like the most logical. Lizzie’s “dad” was killed by Red two episodes and the last promo suggests that the baddie was going to assassinate Lizzie next if Red did not plead for his daughter’s life? Except that “fact” ended up not coming to light and Red got that other dude from Homeland to give up the code. But the evidence was mounting so high that even Lizzie started to suspect that Red was her father that at the end of the episode she straight up asks him if it were true. Her it comes, and his answer was… no. What?!?
So either two things are going on: 1) Red is telling the truth. Then what was this big secret that he killed her father over about (could she be Alan Alda’s kid and she is the big thing Red has over Alan for the last twenty years that has kept him alive)? Or 2) Red is lying and the writers are prolonging the obvious even longer. I am not sure I like either scenario going forward.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download The Blacklist on iTunes.
The Goldbergs: The second Legend of Zelda game was the bane of my existence as a kid and to this day I never finished it. Now in the age of YouTube, I may have to dig out the Nintendo and see if I can finally conquer it.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download The Goldbergs on iTunes.
Sons of Anarchy: I have this fear that the show is going to just reset and have Tara get back with Jax. But I really cannot see her go into wtnes protection because then we will just have another season with Jax trying to find his kid. They already did that back in season three which was the worst season of the series. Plus I have a feeling now that Jax has killed Clay, one of the few things the show has left to do is have Tara kill Gemma.
You can download Sons of Anarchy on iTunes.
Survivor: Blood vs. Water: Stupid promo monkeys ruined the surprise that the votes would be deadlocked but I was surprised as who it was flipped. I assumed it was Monica that Hayden got to flip convincing she was on the bottom, but nope, Ciera for some reason decided to flop after making a big deal about not turning on their alliance last week. So not only did she flop, someone she voted with someone who ended up drawing the short straw. Bad move Ciera. So that was only the second tie since the show went to picking rocks and I find it interesting this week Probst clarified on Twitter that at final four if there is a tie, the players make fire. I wonder if we get another tie this season.
You can stream recent episodes on cbs.com. You can also download Survivor: Blood vs. Water on iTunes.
Nashville: Layla is quickly moving up the Nashville Power Rankings with each passing episode and now has positioned herself at number three. And Juliette will probably not be very happy that she is close to being overtaken by Layla. The show this season has been at its best when one storyline focuses on their feud. Hopefully Layla gets upgraded to series regular soon. She could take the place of the gay cowboy who has been worthless since he has joined. Either out him to the general public now or just write him off the show (when Layla called TMZ I actually thought she was going to out him).
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Nashville on iTunes.
The Sound of Music Live!: About an hour in I wrote “I was not expecting Julie Andrews but wow, Carrie Underwood is getting out-acted by a bunch of minor. Hopefully someone falls down the stairs soon.” But really aside from the wooden performances from the two big named leads, it was an entertaining production. Sure I have some complaints: having a live production that is not in front of a live audience just felt weird. Same goes for the obviously taped orchestration. I was expecting applause in-between acts but you could hear a pin drop. It was also a weird that the cast did not get a curtain call (granted it would have been even weird to take a bow in front of an empty soundstage). And of course it would have been a lot more memorable had someone fallen down the stairs. But since it was a rating bonanza (it had two million more viewers than The Big Bang Theory during the same half hour), I suspect another live production will happen again next year and may I suggest A Christmas Carol. Just do it in front of a live audience. I even have the casting: Kelsey Grammar as Ebenezer Scrooge, Ted Danson as Jacob Marley, Neil Patrick Harris as Bob Crachet, and Emma Stone as the Ghost of Christmas Past (just without a bad eighty’s wig).
Saturday, December 07, 2013
Quote of the Week: They were Kurdish , not to split hairs. But this is not something the president needs to know. (Dar Adal, Homeland)
Song of the Week: Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm – Crash Test Dummies (as sung by Alan Thicke and Wayne Brady, How I Met Your Mother)
Scene of the Week:
Big News of the Week: Veronica Mars Hitting Theaters: Forget Wonder Woman (she is moderately attractive, what more is there to say) because Veronica Mars finally has a release date. And it is not just getting your typical low budge limited theater run before being resigned to digital release, the movie will likely be coming to a theater near you. So mark your calendars for March 14, 2014 (for those that like counting down, that is only 96 days away). There is even a new clip featuring Ronnie’s first run in with Madison Sinclair for the first time in a decade over there. It also has an official name too, just simply Veronica Mars.
Preview Picture of the Week:
|Sons of Anarchy Season Finale, Tuesday at 10:00 on FX|
Free Download of the Week: This Christmas – Mary J. Blige (iTunes)
Deal of the Week: Greatest Hits as Low as $2.99: Get the best at a discounted price including Sarah McLaughlin, The Bangles, Harry Connick Jr., and Electric Light Orchestra.
New Album Release of the Week: Black Panties - R.Kelly
New DVD Release of the Week: Despicable Me 2
Video of the Week: Every year since 2007 DJ Earworm has taking the Top 40 from Billboards End Year list to create one huge mash-up of the year’s biggest song. He did it a little different this year, not waiting for Billboard and just going with his gut. This led to some omissions (Cups is the first to come to mind) and it is a bit surprising that the two biggest songs from the first half of the year, Blurred Lines and Get Lucky barely get any play yet the backing track is based on Don’t You Worry Child, one song I would never have associated with 2013 in either a good or bad way. The song does have a heavy dose Royals which give its this year's subtitle "Livin' the Fantasy".
Next Week Pick of the Week: The Sing-Off, starting Monday at 9:00 on NBC: The Sing-Off was a great winter break program for two seasons on NBC. It was on almost every day for two weeks and done. Then The Voice happened and NBC certainly wanted to have the show on fall of 2011 after its breakout season in the spring but since it would have been too much of a turnaround they instead expanded The Sing-Off into a weekly fall series and unfortunately it floundered. Then next spring, NBC announced The Voice would expand to two times a year while The Sing-Off was canceled outright and was not even put back to its previous pre-Christmas spot last year. Thankfully NBC had a change of heart (the surprise success of Pitch Perfect and its soundtrack last winter may have something to do with it) and The Sing-Off is getting rebooted starting Monday with the producer of The Voice, Mark Burnett taking the reins (which means the judges will take more of a m mentoring role like his other show, but no swiveling chairs… yet) and new judge Jewel (on her third reality show stint after Nashville Star and the little seen Platinum Hit) taking the spot of Sara Bareilles. Ten groups will be competing this season (same as season two) and unlike the last two season, it does not look like there will be any supergroups made up of past contestants. Here is the full schedule over the next three week and the themes:
Monday (12/9) at 9:00: Signature Songs
Wednesday (12/11) at 8:00: Party Anthems
Thursday (12/12) at 8:00: #1 Hits
Monday (12/16) at 10:00: My Generation
Wednesday (12/18) at 8:00: Movie Night
Thursday (12/19) at 8:00: Judge’s Choice
Monday (12/23) at 9:00: Finale
Friday, December 06, 2013
I have gotten a plethora of cool press releases have been flooding my inbox recently that you may find interesting. This post will include blurbs on Six by Sondheim, Guess Who's Coming to Christmas, The Velvet Underground, AV Club, Playing it Forward, Dominion, Inside Comedy, Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love, Fierce Bad Rabbits, Tess Druckenmiller, and Dallas.
- Directed by Tony Award-winner and frequent Steven Sondheim collaborator James Lapine, Six by Sondheim is a highly personal profile of a great American artist as revealed through the creation and performance of six of his iconic songs. Told primarily in Sondheim’s own words, this feature documentary weaves together dozens of interviews with the composer, rarely seen archival material spanning more than half a century (including newly discovered footage of Ethel Merman performing Gypsy) and re-stagings of three songs produced especially for the film. Executive produced by James Lapine and Frank Rich, the exclusive HBO presentation debuts Monday at 9:00. Check out the trailer below:
- UP, “America’s Christmas Channel,” presents the UP Original Movie Guess Who’s Coming To Christmas (#GuessWho), a funny, romantic holiday movie for the entire family, starring singer/actor/emcee Drew Lachey (98 Degrees, Dancing with the Stars) and actress/musician MacKenzie Porter (Christmas Rescue, Dinosapien). Kristoffer Tabori (The Carpenter’s Miracle, Judging Amy) directs from a screenplay written by Tippi and Neal Dobrofsky (Window Wonderland, Goodnight for Justice). Guess Who’s Coming To Christmas will premiere exclusively on Sunday at 7:00.
- Universal Music Enterprises and Burger Records have joined forces for the release of the 45th Anniversary of White Light/White Heat by The Velvet Underground with a tribute album featuring indie artists Gap Dream (“Sister Ray”), Natural Child (“White Light/White Heat”), Curtis Harding (“Here She Comes Now”), among others. Lou Reed famously said "No one listened to it. But there it is, forever – the quintessence of articulated punk. And no one goes near it." This partnership between UMe and Burger Records proves 45 years later, fans and bands of every age continue to listen and be inspired by this iconic album and is a true testament of the influence of The Velvet Underground.
- I will not start publishing my Best of 2013 lists for another two week, but those that want to start perusing others, AV Club has released their 23 Best Albums of 2013 list. Apparently do not care that Black Panties do not drop until next week.
- Crackle, the multi-platform entertainment network, announced today the launch of its first original music series, Playing It Forward. The special street performance-style follow-doc is produced by Team Downey, an entertainment company founded by Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey, alongside veteran music producer/composer Tony Berg and Kevin Lake. The Playing It Forward music movement will showcase surprise street performances by some of the world’s biggest artists in unplanned, unexpected environments across the country benefiting music education and charities of the artists’ choice. The first episode is at crackle.com/c/playingitforward and features a surprise show by acclaimed singer and songwriter John Legend. The Grammy Award-winning artist performed three fan favorites, All of Me, Ordinary People, and Shine to an unsuspecting and amazed crowd at the Culver City Town Plaza in Los Angeles.
- The ultimate celestial battle between good and evil will descend to Earth in 2014 as Syfy officially greenlights the scripted drama Dominion (working title) to series, it was announced today by Syfy President, Dave Howe. Based on characters from the hit theatrical film Legion (2010), Dominion is an epic supernatural drama set in the year 25 A.E. In this transformed post–apocalyptic future an army of lower angels, assembled by the archangel Gabriel, has waged a war of possession against mankind. The archangel Michael, turning against his own kind, has chosen to side with humanity against Gabriel. Rising out of the ashes of the 25 year-long battle are newly fortified cities which protect the human survivors. In Vega (formerly Las Vegas), the largest of these cities, two houses vie for control and the stage is set for political upheaval and a dangerous power shift. Meanwhile, a rebellious young soldier begins a perilous journey as the war between the human race and the fallen angels hell-bent on their domination escalates.
- Showtime has renewed its critically-acclaimed documentary series Inside Comedy for a third season, set to premiere Monday, February 3rd at 11:00. The ten, half-hour episodes from comedy forces David Steinberg and Steve Carell, will continue to feature one-of-a-kind interviews with some of the most respected entertainers who have shaped the genre over the last several decades, with Steinberg returning as host. In addition to Jimmy Fallon, Zach Galifianakis, Jonah Hill, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Bette Midler, the new season will also include Alan Arkin, Dick Van Dyke, and Richard Belzer, along with more names to be announced.
- Composer, conductor, genius, mensch: Marvin Hamlisch (June 2, 1944 - Aug. 6, 2012) earned four Grammys, four Emmys, three Oscars, three Golden Globes, a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize before his untimely death, making him one of only two PEGOT winners ever. Hit after hit - "The Way We Were," "Nobody Does It Better" and scores for The Sting,Sophie's Choice and the Broadway juggernaut A Chorus Line - made him the go-to composer and performer for film, Broadway, every U.S. President since Reagan and concert halls worldwide. With exclusive access to Hamlisch's personal archival treasure trove and complete cooperation from his family, Dramatic Forces and THIRTEEN's American Mastersexplore his prolific life and career in the series' Season 27 finale, Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love, premiering nationally Friday, December 27, 2013, 9:00 on PBS (check local listings).
- Westwood describes Fierce Bad Rabbit as, If the members of Modest Mouse and Arcade Fire joined ranks to record an AM Gold tribute to Wilco." I would not be able to come up with something more descriptive. You can check out Do You Want Me Now below:
- If traditional singer / songwriters are more your speed, check out Tess Druckenmiller.
- Three weeks until Christmas and the Ewings of Dallas have a season’s greetings for you:
Thursday, December 05, 2013
After the runaway success of Hatfields and McCoys, it was only a matter of time before History dug the depths of the underbelly of American history. They settled on the most infamous love story of all time: Bonnie and Clyde. Though set in the Depression era thirties, their story is as relevant today as it centers on three subjects that still fascinate Americans today: sex, violence, and celebrity. This is why their name still resonates today with even current hip-hop royalty Jay-Z and Beyoncé co-opted the duo just last decade (Eminem also had a song of the same name with his daughter playing the role of Bonnie). If Bonnie and Clyde were alive today they probably would leak a sex tape to TMZ.
But on film, it has been over a generation since the last Bonnie and Clyde movie when Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty took on the titular roles (unless you count Teenage Bonnie and Klepto Clyde starring a pre-fame Scott Wolf and a post-Out of the World Maureen Flannigan). This incarnation stars Emile Hirsch (Alpha Dog) and Holliday Grainger (The Borgias) as the lovebirds that set off on a crime spree throughout the South.
The Family Stone) plays the reporter who makes the duo a national headline and in a return, Bonnie sends them publicity photos. William Hurt (The Incredible Hulk) is the Texas Ranger who comes out of retirement to end the reign of terror. While Holly Hunter (Raising Arizona) pops up as Bonnie’s mother.
If you enjoyed the Hatfields and McCoys miniseries, History’s take on Bonnie and Clyde is a can’t miss television event. The theme of both miniseries are very similar though Bonnie and Clyde does sneak in some black humor, like when Bonnie sings at her father’s funeral (I would have liked more moments like this). The mini-series does take some silly liberties like how Clyde can see the future but for the most part it is as enjoyable as the channel’s last miniseries. Now the question is what miniseries will History plot next? I vote for Custer’s Last Stand.
Bonnie and Clyde premieres Sunday and concludes Monday both at 8:00 on History and will be simulcast on A&E and Lifetime.