Thursday, August 17, 2017

Previewing Episodes: The Final Season



There are many advantages to shortened seasons utilized by cable networks. But there is one huge disadvantage, where major network shows tend to only have three month breaks, when you are only airing ten episodes a year, that means you are off the air for forty two weeks a year, or a nine and a half month hiatus. And that is the minimum. Sometime it takes longer to come back. Case in point, they announced the last season of Episodes so long ago, Matt LeBlanc managed to air all twenty-two episodes of his next show, Man with a Plan. Seriously, the last episode of Episodes aired March 15, 2015.

Ten months is a long time to remember what happened on a television show, so what happened almost two and a half years ago is very vague. I remember the show within a show was canceled but not that much else. That, of course, makes me ask, if the fake show was canceled why not cancel the real show? What else is there possible to do?

The answer is quite clear at the start of the season premiere; Matt LeBlanc’s new fake gameshow The Box is great. They even spend the first eight minutes show up the fake game show where contestants are stuck in a box (natch) and can build up advantages within the game by answering trivia questions that they can use to make their experience inside the box better or the competitors lives worse to the point they quit the game.

Things are not as entertaining with Beverly and Sean’s new show which they pitched but then was turned over to different showrunner who is ruining their show. At least in their eyes. Yet like two ships passing in the night, the writing duo again crosses path with the former Friends star professionally, and again with mixed (but hilarious for the audience) results. The first couple seasons of Episodes were hit or miss, but the final season is firing on all cylinders, I kind of wish, this season was the starting point and we got four seasons after this premise. Especially a behind the scenes show about The Box.

Episodes airs Sundays at 10:00 on Showtime.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Previewing Dice: Season Two



Two years ago, networks were getting creative with rolling out new series kind of like NBC when they dumped the entire first season of Aquarius On Demand after the premiere. Showtime tried this out with Dice. But much like Aquarius which aired weekly in its second season, it looks like Dice will do just that even though Showtime cares more about subscribers who will watch whenever than appointment viewing.

But that really is the only change with the second season of Dice. Mr. Clay starts off the new season still paying off his gambling debt and even after playing a string of shows he is still owes the casino money. Then after a weird encounter with a rabbi, Dice wakes up in a parallel universe where he never became a comic and is now living as a salesman. And it is really disturbing just how much “normal” Andrew Dice Clay looks like most of my uncle’s friends. Then it dawned on me, oh my, if Andrew Dice Clay went into hedge funds, he may have ended up being The Mooch, the White House communication director for a week and a half Anthony Scaramucci.

I spent most of the first season of Dice wondering, just who is this show for. And it took the past election to realize, people who work for Donald Trump. The type of guy who still find jokes about sniffing underwear, use homosexual terms as an insult, wish they could still grab women without their consent, and vote for Donald Trump will love this show. I guess liberals who want to make fun of how sad these people’s lives are may also enjoy hate-watching Dice too.

Dice airs Sundays at 10:30 on Showtime.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Previewing Divided: Season Two


Divided

I used to watch a lot of game shows; The Price Is Right was one of the few things I watched in college. But as I grew older I moved into more scripted fare. But now that I grow even older and I have no idea what is going on from week to week and need a five to ten minute “previously on” package, maybe I should get back into game show. They even have their own network now. Okay, do not ask me if I receive GSN, if I do it is in the 100 tier I never scroll through.

But I did get sample one of their original programming, Divided, returning for a second season tonight with back to back episodes. The first episode features a “full time live streamer.” And no, one of the questions is not how exactly does she make any money (unless the live stream does not involve clothing). The show features four contestants who have to answer each question unanimously and the longer they take to agree, the less money they make if they get. And if they get it wrong, their bank is divided in half. There is also a “Takeover” button where one person can answer for the group.

Then halfway through the episode one person is booted by the group, but if three people do not unanimously, again they have to debate while losing money until they agree. Then at the end of the game, the final bank is divided into sixty, thirty, and ten percent and the remaining three have to agree who leaves with what percentage, and of course everyone’s cut goes down as they debate who gets what.

One of the first things I noticed about the show is how poorly the layout is. Just in the first episode one player said he was picking A but B showed up on the board because he pressed the wrong button. Then later, another player went to lock in his pick, but pushed the Takeover Button by accident. I also found the final dividing round unnecessarily evil. Although the episode I watch, they surprisingly can to a decision quite quickly. But the questions were interesting, I only got one wrong and I was kind of shocked how wrong they all were in the first question of the night dealing with how many vegetarians there are in the nation. But I clearly would be horrible on this show because I am not very agreeable or persuadable. I would probably burn the two Takeovers early which would leave me to getting booted.

The new season of Divided will feature a number of special themed episodes, including Baby Boomers vs. Millennials, Military Night (featuring representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines), all teachers, all lawyers, all poker players, and “Second Chance” episodes where contestants voted off the show early get a second shot at the prize money.

Divided airs Tuesdays at 10:00 on GSN.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 8/13/2017



Ray Donovan: At the start of every season these days I usually start with complaining about having no clue with what happened last season. The good thing about Ray Donovan is usually the wrap everything up in a little bow at the end of each season so you really do not need much of a refresher. So when they run their “previously on” segment to recap last season, I could go, oh yeah, Ray and the family took down that Russian oligarch (although they were a season early on doing an evil Russian businessman storyline), now there is a fresh slate for the new season.

It is still pretty vague what the big storyline for the season will be. Ray does see a story about a famous person whose personal pictures are released on the internet, presumably without her consent (I believe a starlet earlier in the series tried to release her own sex tape so you never know). The actress in question, does randomly show up in her underwear and runs away. There is also a scene with Susan Sarandon which will probably have a bigger impact later this season.

Then there was the big plot point (and the reason I am writing this now instead of my usually preview because Showtime said no pre-air reviews), they killed off Abby… Maybe. They heavily hinted at it but stopped short of explicitly saying she was dead or showed a body. They annoyingly do this next episode two until we get definitive proof in episode three. We do get to see a lot more of Lili Simmons next week who shows up in Ray’s office. Though again, you will have to wait until episode three to learn just why she was walking half naked in the middle of the road at night.

Claws: So Roller did know Desna tried to kill her. At least he let her call Dean before offing her. Sure, she did save him but that also saved her too so not really to make things square between the two. But overall the weakest episode this season.
You can download Claws on iTunes.

The Strain: Wait, why is Gus still on the show? His little raid on a bunch of cops surveyed absolutely no purpose. If you are not working to bring down the Master at this point, go away. And why did Dutch up the stairs? That is bad horror movie logic, go down and leave. As she planning on jumping rooftops to escape?
You can download The Strain on iTunes.

I’m Dying Up Here: Am I supposed to care about Bill because I really do not. Nor his dad. I actually cared more about the dog then either of them.

Shadowhunters: So Haley Dunfey has a English accent now? Awesome. This girl really likes work, she is on one of the biggest shows on television doing twenty-four episodes a year yet keeps on showing up in numerous movies and shows. And she almost made this show enjoyable.
You can download Shadowhunters on iTunes.

Preacher: So what happened with the dude with the eye? He had a big part of last week but did not show up at all this week.
You can download Preacher on iTunes.

The Challenge: Dirty 30: Boooo, Jenna is the best post-Nany contestant on the show. Hopefully she makes her way back on the show next week. Her and Darrell.
You can download The Challenge: Dirty 30 on iTunes.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Around the Tubes: 8/11/2017


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 Episodes, Dice, Major Crimes, Shameless, White Famous, SMILF, Louis Armstrong, Mondo Cozmo, The Band Perry, MTV VMA, and Six Words Fresh Off the Boat: Stories of Immigration.

- SHOWTIME is giving viewers nationwide an early opportunity to sample the season premieres of the network’s hilarious comedy series EPISODES and DICE for free, ahead of their debuts on Sunday, August 20th at 10 p.m. and 10:30pm ET/PT, respectively. Starting today, consumers can watch the series premiere for free on YouTube (EPISODES / DICE) and SHO.com (EPISODES / DICE). Consumers can also sample the premieres of EPISODES and DICE across multiple television and streaming providers’ devices, websites and applications and their free On Demand channels.

- TNT's Major Crimes faces its three most challenging cases, struggling to solve mysteries mired in complex political conflicts having little to do with identifying and arresting murderers. As Cmdr. Sharon Raydor (Mary McDonnell) grows accustomed to her new boss, Assistant Chief Leo Mason (Leonard Roberts), the detectives find themselves questioning their faith in the rapidly changing priorities of the justice system and their ability to reason through difficult changes in their personal relationships. Finally, they must accept the necessity of risk, in all its different guises, as they prepare to face the inexplicable but increasingly undeniable return of Phillip Stroh (guest star Billy Burke).

- SHOWTIME has announced the premiere dates for its fall comedy slate, including two new half-hour comedy series and the return of the hit hour-long comedy SHAMELESS. WHITE FAMOUS – starring Jay Pharoah (Saturday Night Live) and based on the personal experiences of Academy Award® winner Jamie Foxx – will debut Sunday, October 15 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, airing after the hit drama series RAY DONOVAN. SMILF – starring Frankie Shaw (Mr. Robot) and based on her Sundance Film Festival Jury Award-winning short film of the same name – will launch Sunday, November 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, following the 9 p.m. ET/PT season eight premiere that night of the hit series SHAMELESS. On November 5, WHITE FAMOUS will move to 10:30 p.m. ET/PT.

- In celebration of the late, great Louis Armstrong’s 116th birthday today, Verve Records/UMe have released the digital collection, The Complete Decca Singles 1935-1946, bringing together every single and B-side Pops released during his first decade on Decca Records. Totaling 136 tracks – with many available digitally for the first time – the comprehensive collection is now on all digital retailers and streaming services just as the annual music extravaganza Satchmo SummerFest gets underway in New Orleans’ historic French Quarter for three days and nights of contemporary and traditional jazz in honor of the legendary trumpet player and singer. The Complete Decca Singles 1935-1946 is available here: https://UMe.lnk.to/LouisCompleteDecca

- Taking a much-deserved victory lap as his full-length debut Plastic Soul [Republic Records] earns unanimous critical praise worldwide, “The Best New Rock Act of 2017,” Mondo Cozmo (who named his music after his dog) shares an incendiary live performance video of the record’s title track “Plastic Soul” (Live From Exit/In Nashville) on VEVO. Watch it here.

- Tune in to the AT&T* AUDIENCE Network concert special The Band Perry airing Friday, August 11, at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT via DIRECTV Ch 239, AT&T U-verse Ch 1114 and on-demand through DIRECTV NOW. In this episode, the Grammy® Award-winning trio The Band Perry perform fan favorites and sit down with series host Ted Stryker for an in-depth interview.

- MTV yesterday announced that platinum-selling, Grammy-award winning, Top Dawg Entertainment recording artist Kendrick Lamar, will take the “VMA” stage for the first time as a solo headline performer. The “VMAs” will air live from the “Fabulous” Forum in Inglewood, CA, on Sunday, August 27 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT. Lamar joins an extensive line-up of A-list performers for the show, including Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Ed Sheeran, The Weeknd and more, promising more music and unpredictable moments than ever before.

- Marrying the acclaimed immigration-themed ABC Television Network series Fresh Off the Boat with the New York Times bestselling Six-Word Memoir series by Larry Smith, Kingswell Press is thrilled to publish Six Words Fresh Off the Boat: Stories of Immigration, Identity, and Coming to America (on sale: September 5, 2017).

Monday, August 07, 2017

I Want My Music Television: 8/7/2017



Perfect Places – Lorde


Pure Heroine was a great album that I had on heavy rotation, I just realized that I listened to the new Lorde once when it came out and that is out. Perfect Places was my favorite track off that album, I may have go back and revisit it. I do really like the video; it reminds me a time when people actually spent money on videos by going to exotic locations. Just imagine how great those Rio-era Duran Duran videos would have looked in hi-def.


Bibia Be Ye Ye – Ed Sheeran


How do I put this nicely: Ed Sheeran is very white so it is weird to see a bunch of black people sing his songs. But I wonder if Ed has a Graceland in him, that could be interesting.


Boys - Charli XCX


Charli XCX can be very hit or miss for me and I am learning towards the latter for my early assessment of Boys. I like the chorus but the repetitive chorus may get very annoying.


Feels Like Summer - Weezer


Feels like Summer is another in a long line of underwhelming Weezer singles, but you gotta love the Guns N' Roses circa Paradise City send up.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 8/6/2017




Claws: So does Roller know who tried to kill him or does he really have selective amnesia? It is kind of a huge troll move if he does know at this point. Or he really fears the Russians and that he is throwing the scent that way?
You can download Claws on iTunes.

The Strain: Poor maid, Zach is totally going to get her killed soon.
You can download The Strain on iTunes.

I’m Dying Up Here: So the new guy pursues Cassie, gets a chance to nail her in the broom closet (because having sex apparently is the best way to end sexual tension), turns her down and then uses her as a wingman. Only on television or movies. But still, that is more believable than the other Boston guy banging the hot roommate in the baby’s room.

Preacher: So Preacher sinks the old cowboy in the bottom of a swamp and next week it looks like he will have another weirdo to deal with next week in the form of the dude we met this week.
You can download Preacher on iTunes.

Casual: I guess I was wrong that the season would end on a wedding. That is not to say we did not get any big news, Alex is going to be a father. Wow. That is a scary prospect. And his baby mama is not much of a responsible adult either. Should make for an interesting season four.
You can stream Casual on Hulu.

The Challenge: Dirty 30: That challenge was kind of disappointed. I think they have done ones like that before but it was much longer than one pass through. They should have done until one team had all the rings or the most rings after a time limit.
You can download The Challenge: Dirty 30 on iTunes.