Saturday, July 12, 2014

Best of the Week: 7/12/14

Quote of the Week: Eclectic car: I care about the polar bears. (Eleanor Nacht, The Bridge)

Song of the Week: Every Breath You Take – Denmark and Winters (Pretty Little Liars)

Big News of the Week: Apparently You Can Go Home Again: There is an old adage that you can never go home again, which of course is silly in the most literal since, but in reality that heart of the saying is that you should not go home again. Especially if you are LeBron James. But he announced his return to Cleveland and not surprisingly those who burned his Jersey and lionized owner Dan Gilbert’s open letter are welcoming him back. But to me it is like an abused wife taking back her husband who went on a very public four year affair that produced two children and is only asking to return because the mistress got old and ugly quick. And a returning LeBron is in no way an instant championship, which would be a first in my lifetime and the vast majority of Northeast Ohio. Sure the Cavs have an easy path to the finals with a now depleted Miami, and question marks for the two biggest challenges in Indiana and Chicago, but if Cleveland was in the West they probably would not even get home court advantage for just the first round of the playoffs. Of course if Kevin Love comes the Cleveland, go ahead and start measuring the banner then and get his Uncle Mike to perform at the championship parade. Oh wait, this Cleveland, someone undoubtably will get hurt first.

Preview Picture of the Week:

"Pilot" The Strain, Sunday at 10:00 on FX

Free Download of the Week: Wild One - Nikki Lane (Amazon Digital Music)

New Album Release of the Week: Mandatory Fun - “Weird Al” Yankovic

New DVD Release of the Week: Orphan Black: Season 2

Video of the Week: There is a show premiering Thursday called Dating Naked. For some reason it is on Video Hits One. The link to the video claims it is “uncensored” but any frontal shots are pixilated, but for the faint of heart, any backside shots are not. I am too much of a prude to embed the video, but you can watch it here. Yes it was a slow news week.

Next Week Pick of the Week: The Strain, Sunday (tomorrow) at 10:00 on FX: I was a big fan of the Buffyverse back in the early 00’s but by the end of Angel I was already starting to have vampire fatigue. Since then the only vampire themed entertainment I partook in was Let Me In. That all changes tomorrow when FX debuts The Strain. First off I am in on most anything the cable channel does (it landed three show on my list of the Ten Best Shows of 2013-14 for the second straight year). Add to that the show is created by Guillermo del Toro who know creepy (see Pan's Labyrinth). Sure the show is also being overseen by Carlton Cuse one of the guys behind Lost, but if a show must have a guy behind Lost on it, I would rather it be the guy who also did The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. than the dude behind Crossing Jordan. Plus Eli “Weevil” Navarro makes an appearance on the show.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Around the Tubes: 7/11/14

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 Sons of Anarchy, Cold Justice, Camp Stew, Survive the Tribe, Sharknado, Dirty Heads, Charlie and the Foxtrots, and You're the Worst.

- Ride straight to the gates. The final season of Sons of Anarchy is coming.

- TNT's real-life investigation series Cold Justice has helped secure three more arrests – including a double arrest in a 10-year-old case from Columbus, Ga. – in its ongoing quest to help local law enforcement officers in small towns across the country close long-unsolved cases. In tonight’s episode, airing at 9:00, former prosecutor Kelly Siegler and former crime-scene investigator Yolanda McClary help put two suspects behind bars in a case involving a messy divorce, a bitter custody battle and a cold-blooded murder. Cold Justice has also assisted in bringing about an arrest in a 39-year-old case from Vigo County, Ind., with that investigation currently slated to be featured in the show's season finale in August.

- Illusionist and magician Penn Jillette is teaming with Sportsman Channel, the leader in outdoor television for American sportsmen and women, for the launch of the network’s newest original program Camp Stew, exclusively premiering on Thursday, July 17 at 8:30. Camp Stew – a reference to a favorite hunters’ dish comprised of a mishmash of ingredients including ground beef, chicken, pork, beans, corn, tomatoes and other additions – on Sportsman Channel will comprise of a variety of clips from all facets of the outdoor lifestyle. The new and exciting 10-episode program will showcase some of the craziest outdoor videos ever recorded, with Penn adding his unique brand of commentary to these incredible clips. Each 30-minute episode will feature host commentary from Penn Jillette in front of clips of some of the wildest adventures ever caught on tape.

- Premiering Thursday, July 24, at 10:00 on National Geographic Channel, Survive the Tribe tracks wilderness guide and survival instructor Hazen Audel as he journeys to some of the world’s most remote and inhospitable places, immersing himself into local cultures to learn survival skills that have kept tribal people alive against the odds for thousands of years. He has 10 days to study each tribe’s skills before taking on the toughest tribal challenges that will force him to the very limit. In order to survive, Audel must rely on natural instinct, ancient wisdom and a high tolerance for drinking cow’s blood.

- Following the successful launch of Sharknado branded merchandise, Syfy and The Asylum today announced two new brand extensions of the global social media and pop culture sensation. Sharknado 2: The Second One premieres on Syfy Wednesday, July 30 at 9:00. Syfy and The Asylum have partnered with Three Rivers Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group at Random House, Inc., on the trade paperback original How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters: Fight Back When Monsters and Mother Nature Attack. On sale now, How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disaster is the first and only comprehensive guide to surviving the dangers of a post-apocalyptic world where Mother Nature is angry and monsters are hungry. Inside this life-saving reference book, readers will find vital information on everything from firenados and swamp volcanoes to arachnoquakes and piranhacondas.

- Syfy and The Asylum, through their licensing and merchandising agency Earthbound, are also partnering with game developer Other Ocean and publisher Majesco Entertainment Company to release Sharknado: The Video Game for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Designed in the popular ‘infinite runner’ genre, players assume the lead role as Fin as they race to destroy a series of shark-infested tornadoes threatening New York City. The game will release prior to the July 30 premiere of Sharknado 2. To learn more about Sharknado: The Video Game visit:

- Dirty Heads have released the official music video for the debut single "My Sweet Summer" from their new studio album Sound of Change. The video, conceived and directed by the band, can now be viewed below. Sound of Change is available in stores and online everywhere now.

- Golden is the first full-length from Nashville's neo-folk band Charlie and the Foxtrots. Intertwining poppy, energetic writing with country instrumentation, the band "combines alt-folk, bluegrass and rock elements with an Americana sensibility." (Groundsounds) Since their debut in January 2013, the seven members have wowed their listeners with their "Southern-fried slow burners" (Elmore) and Golden is nothing less of excellence. Watch the Big Bad Wolf video below.

- Sandra Bernhard will guest star in FX’s new comedy You’re the Worst. She will play herself in the episode titled Equally Dead Inside. You’re the Worst premieres Thursday, July 17 at 10:30) on FX following the series premiere of Married at 10:00.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Previewing Masters of Sex: Season Two

Back in the earlier days of the internet when message boards were a big part of going online, I was a big spoiler reader. That was up until the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when I was spoiled very early on that Willow would end up being the season’s Big Bad which ruined my enjoyment of that season as I waited for her heel turn (sorry to those not caught up, but the season aired twelve years ago and Evil Willow does appear on the DVD cover art). Since then I unbookmarked all the spoiler sites I subscribed to and pretty much stay out of comment sections of non-spoiler sites because there are always a few trolls. And I have been much happier watching television ever since. With one exception: historical dramas. It took a lot of willpower to not go to Wikipedia while watching Deadwood to see what exactly happened to the real Seth Bullock and Al Swearengen (it was somewhat satisfying when the show ended premature to see what really happened to the characters after the show ended).

So after William Masters got fired at the end of the first season of Masters of Sex for his graphic sex study, it again took a lot of willpower to not go to Wikipedia to see where he went next or if maybe he was able to get his job back. I did make it the six months without peaking (thankfully the show is premiering earlier this year, a trend I hope continues next year when it premieres during the spring). For the spoilerphobes like me, I will not tell you where he end up, but of course Dr. Masters does find a place to continue the sex study by the end of the season premiere.

This season Annaleigh Ashford, who was the best part of the early episodes as one of the prostitute Masters observed before moving his study into the hospital, has promoted to the main cast and surprisingly plays a role in Masters ability in continuing his study. Despite being stuck on crappy CBS sitcoms, Beau Bridges and Allison Janney managed to find time to film a couple scenes for the premiere so you will not have to wait long to see if Barton decided to go through electroshock therapy (the youngest Scully also returns for a couple episodes even though she also booked herself a zombie show on The CW which may be the worst fate of all the Scullys).

Aside from homosexuality, this season also tackles some other taboo subjects from the fifties, some that are still talked about only behind closed doors today including nymphomania, abortion and birth control, and ambiguous genitalia in a newborn. Television geeks will undoubtedly enjoy the third episode of the season which is a bottle episode. But really anyone who likes television should continue to enjoy the new season of Masters of Sex, the best new show of last season.

Masters of Sex airs Sundays at 10:00 on Showtime.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Previewing Ray Donovan: Season Two

The cast of Ray Donovan

Showtime had a lot riding on Ray Donovan. It was the next drama they launched after Homeland became the premium channel’s first show to challenge HBO’s prestige brand at award shows and year end critics list. To give it an extra boost, Showtime debuted it after the final season of its most successful show Dexter. And that worked as the first season became Showtime’s most watched new show ever.

The problem thought was that of all the people who watched it, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who thought Ray Donovan was great. And it lacked the critical acclaim though it did pick up two acting nominations at the Golden Globes, but those are really considered the drunk Emmy’s where nominations can be bought (you will have to wait until tomorrow to see if it gets nominated got any real Emmy’s, but do not hold your breath; it will certainly will not get any wins.)

Ray Donovan was good on paper, the show was created by the same person who did the critically adored (but little watched) Southland. Titular character was movie star Liev Schreiber while Jon Voight was hungry for a comeback. The cast was filled out by notable character actors Paula Malcomson (Deadwood) and Eddie Marsan(V for Vendetta) with appearances by Elliott Gould, James Woods, and Rosanna Arquette. But at this point it seemed like people were sick of antiheroes like Ray who are more “anti” than “hero.” Certainly no one wanted to relive the Boston area priest abuse scandal that more than one of the Donovan brothers were a part of and Ray’s cases were just extremely clichéd.

Without the Dexter lead-in, Ray Donovan is now tasked with anchoring its own night (this time with the show being followed by the second most watched debut in Showtime history, the vastly superior Masters of Sex which actually showed up on Best of the Year lists, including mine). Bu here I the thing, the second season is dramatically more entertaining than the first and that is because they actually brought in characters finally worth caring about.

First you will meet Hank Azaria (The Simpsons Movie) as the head of the FBI who wants to know just what happened on the docks when Sully Sulivan was killed and instantly has the best lines in the whole show and some extracurricular activities that, although are not the kind Ray can exploit, are extremely entertaining. Next up is Wendall Pierce (Treme) who pops up next week as Mickey’s parole officer and even though his easier to exploit extracurricular activities, Pierce continues to be great in everything he does, even if the material is not great.

Even the where has she been hiding the past decade Vinessa Shaw (Ladybugs) is a better addition than most of the original cast as a Boston Globe reporter who does not believe the FBI’s story of what happened to the West Coast to see how exactly the Donovan family is connected with the death. Not only has the guest stars been upgraded this season, Ray’s cases are more interesting including a singing competition contestant getting shot and a producer that will do anything to have sex with a porn show. The first season of Ray Donovan may not have made any Best Of lists last years, but for those that stick around and watch the second season just may find space for the second season on this year’s list.

Ray Donovan airs Sundays at 9:00 on Showtime.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

The Ten Best Television Shows of 2013-14

For my list of best shows of the year, I only consider shows that air a majority of their episodes during the past year so I did not consider the most recent season of Mad Men which stupidly was split into half season with the remaining episodes not airing until spring of 2015. Here are the ten best shows that aired their episodes in the same twelve month periods.

1. Hannibal, Season 2 (NBC)

2. Justified, Season 5 (FX)

3. Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (FOX)

4. Masters of Sex, Season 1 (Showtime)

5. The Blacklist, Season 1 (NBC)

6. Orphan Black, Season 2 (BBC America)

7. The Americans, Season 2 (FX)

8. Penny Dreadful, Season 1 (Showtime)

9. Parenthood, Season 5 (NBC)

10. Sons of Anarchy, Season 6 (FX)

And for fun, here are the shows that had the most Quotes and Songs of the Week from the past year.

Quotes of the Week:
Justified – 8
The Bridge – 6
Mad Men – 5
Homeland – 4
Shameless – 3
The Big Bang Theory – 2
Masters of Sex – 2
Once Upon a Time – 2
Orphan Black – 2
Penny Dreadful – 2
Pretty Little Liars – 2
Survivor – 2
The Challenge – 1
Community - 1
How I Met Your Mother – 1
King of the Nerds – 1
Nashville – 1
NFL Draft – 1
The Neighbors – 1
Ray Donovan – 1
The Sing-Off – 1
Tyrant – 1
Under the Dome – 1

Songs of the Week:
How I Met Your Mother – 6
Pretty Little Liars – 5
The Goldbergs – 4
The Americans – 3
Nashville – 3
Ray Donovan – 3
The Blacklist – 2
Growing Up Fisher – 2
Orphan Black - 2
Revenge – 2
Suburgatory – 3
The Big Bang Theory – 1
The Bridge – 1
Californication – 1
The Colbert Report – 1
Community - 1
Crisis – 1
Dominion – 1
House of Lies – 1
Mad Men – 1
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – 1
The Millers – 1
Perception – 1
Sons of Anarchy – 1
Tyrant – 1

Monday, July 07, 2014

The Tenth Annual Scooter Television Awards

Welcome to the 10th Annual Scooter Television Awards honoring show that aired a majority of their season between June 2013 and June 2014. Without further ado, here are the winners of the 2014 STA's:

Best Scripted Show: Hannibal

Best Sitcom: The Big Bang Theory

Best Sci-Fi Show: Orphan Black

Best Reality Show: Survivor: Blood vs. Water

Best Talent Competition: The Sing-Off

Best Talk Show: Pardon the Interruption

Best Talk Show Host: Norm McDonald

Best New Show: Masters of Sex

Best Mini-Series: Bonnie and Clyde

Guiltiest Guilty Pleasure: Pretty Little Liars

Best Awards Show: 2014 Grammy Awards

Best Hour of TV: Mizumono – Hannibal

Best Half Hour of TV: Goldbergs Never Say Die – The Goldbergs

Biggest Shocker: Hannibal Lecter leaves his house with everyone else near death

Worst Idea: The How I Met Your Mother ending

Worst Moment: Kat not making the merge on Survivor: Blood vs. Water

Biggest Disappointment: Homeland season three

Best New Title Sequence: Penny Dreadful

Best Song Placement: Ants Marching – Dave Matthews Band (Community)

Best Karaoke: Islands In the Stream – Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton (as sung by Wayne Brady and Wayne Brady, How I Met Your Mother)

Best Singing Competition Performance: The Scientist – Holly Henry

Best Dance Sequence: Bert Cooper’s exit (Mad Men)

Best Fight (Scripted): Dr. Hannibal Lecter vs. Special Agent-in-Charge Jack Crawford (Hannibal)

Best Fight (Unscripted): Nany Gonzalez vs. Camilla Nakagawa (The Challenge: Free Agents)

Hottest Token Hot Chick:

Chloe Bennet is hot

Chloe Bennet is hot

Chloe Bennet is hot

Best Character: Alison Hendrix (Orphan Black)

Best New Character: Raymond Reddington (The Blacklist)

Best Recurring Character: Dewey Crowe (Justified)

Best Guest Appearance: Nick Fury (Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)

Best Duo: Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)

Most Entertaining Reality “Star”: Ciera Eastin (Survivor: Blood vs. Water)

Most Annoying Reality “Star”: Brad (Not-Dante) Culpepper (Survivor: Blood vs. Water)

Best Quote: Spare us the wiener act. Bullying is a vital part of every ecosystem, it teaches kids resilience. The world is a rough place. Bullying is like getting inoculated: it’s a vaccine. And you little (expletive deleted), you got to learn to stay away from people like my son. That is what you learn when you get punched in the face by a bully. How do you think Steve Jobs turned out so great? Bullies. And I guarantee Junior here will be getting the hottest chicks when he’s thirty because he got bullied today. Do you want to peak now? My kid will be picking up roadside garbage in an orange jumpsuit in ten years and you’re kid will be in med school curing cancer and getting laid. You’re welcome. (Frank Gallahger, Shameless)

Best “Unscripted” Quote: Our relationship is just starting and now I've, like, embarrassed all his friends. Who wants to date someone that doesn’t make the merge? (Kat Edorsson, Survivor: Blood vs. Water)

Show That Should Be Brought Back: Suburgatory

Most Anticipated New Show of Next Season: Marvel’s Agent Carter

Biggest Question for 2014-2015: Can Homeland ever be great again?

Sunday, July 06, 2014

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 7/6/14

Penny Dreadful: We finally got to find out who was going to be Frankenstein’s Bride and not surprisingly it ended up being the prostitute with consumption. We also learned what Ethan’s deep dark secret is and not surprisingly he turned out to be the wolf man as that has been telegraphed all season. The only shock of the finale was that Sir Malcolm actually chose Vanessa over Mina. We did not get any conclusion in the Dorian Grey storyline and we never saw him again after getting rejected by Vanessa for what seemed to be the very first time ever rejected the man.

Switched at Birth: That is an interesting debate, is someone Hispanic due to their upbringing or should Daphne be disqualified since she was technically born a WASP. Does that make Bay more deserving since she was raised in a very posh lifestyle?
You can download Switched At Birth on iTunes.

Under the Dome: After a stellar first season, Lost inexplicably killed the Token Hot Chick early in the second season (for the second time, they killed her off during a dream sequence during the first season) starting a swift decline thereafter. I figured after that gaff, no show would be dumb enough to kill off their Token Hot Chick ever again. Fast forward to this week when Under the Dumb did not just kill off their Token Hot Chick, they killed off two of them. In the same episode. What the frack?
You can stream Under The Dome on Amazon Instant Video, free for Prime users.

Murder in the First: I cannot decide what my favorite part of the episode was, the octipi t-shirt or Steven Weber dancing at Burning Man.
You can download Murder in the First on iTunes.

Pretty Little Liars: After Alison returned to Rose4wood I was expecting a new change in the dynamics of the show but those changes have been as small and inconsequential as Hanna’s new hairdo. It seems like the show has been in a holding pattern since Alison’s return. Maybe they were holding anything exciting off until the 100th episode next week. Hopefully things pick up from there.
You can download Pretty Little Liars on iTunes.