Saturday, June 25, 2016
Penny Dreadful: What is going on over at Showtime. About a month ago they announced House of Lies was ending with just episodes to go in the season. Then they announce the end of Penny Dreadful by added a “The End” title card to the end of the season finale, adding a press release saying yes this is the end the next day. Add that to the recent announcement of its flagship show Homeland will not be airing in its normal fall slot, instead being delayed to winter. I actually do like the surprise “The End” title card because sometime the anticipation of the final couple episodes of a series can really drag on the enjoyment of the show as you spend too much time worrying if the show will stick the landing.
Of course when the show ends, you still are left to decide if the show did stick the landing. The death of Vanessa did bring things full circle and it was probably for the best to put her out of her suffering. Same with Frankenstein’s monster who realized that it is for the best for everyone to let someone stay dead, no matter how much you loved them. Other storylines just kind of fell flat. Dorian was always the weakest link on the show and never really fit. Then I spent most of the season waiting for Mr. Hyde to show up, instead all we got was Lord Hyde who does not seem all that different from Dr. Jekyll. I guess you can say metaphorically that Lily was the split personally, or even Vanessa. But in the end it is probably the right call to just end the show here, it was enjoyable while it lasted but it was never going to be great. I will just be slightly disappointed the show did not last long enough to introduce the Invisible Man.
BrainDead: What a bizarre way to do a “previously On” package. I would expect it from a show like Galavant, but I wonder what possessed the writers on this show to do a musical recap about alien brain bugs and exploding heads. And I am not sure if it really exists, but sadly I can totally believe that there actually is a “Tax Prom” every year. But my big complaint with this show is I really do not understand what is going on with the aliens. Are half conservative and half liberal and just happen to inhabit different brains to continue their partisan war? Do they take on the traits of the brains they inhabit and just amplify those ideas? And why do some brains explode?
You can download BrainDead on Amazon Instant Video, free with a Prime membership.
Pretty Little Liars: There are few things I hate more than the “x amount of time earlier” title card at the end of the first scene of an episode. The only thing that is worse is when they do even resolve that scene until later in that season. So we start off the season with the Liars sans Hannah burying someone (or something, I am not entirely sold on them burying a dead body). The title card only said four days ago so hopefully we do not have to wait the whole season to get there.
You can download Pretty Little Liars on iTunes.
Casual: It only took four episodes, but I finally see what they are doing. The first season was all about casual romantic relationships and this season is all about casual friendships. Valerie has her work neighbor, Laura has her study group buddy, and Ale, well, he still has the British dude. But now that I realized that, I have to start wondering at which point do any of the friends try to make a romantic move?
A lot was made at all the women Don Draper bedded, but if we are talking quality over quantity, Pete Campbell had Don beat hands down: Alison Brie, Sarah Wright, Alexis Bledel, Jessy Schram. So I was expecting bit more with his finance on this show. Granted if she ended up stealing all of Alex’s lightbulbs later in this season, her stock will rise greatly. And if I were the Asian chick, I would be a bit offended by being called Bill Wennington. C’mon, at least give her Horace Grant.
You can watch Casual on Hulu.
The Challenge: Rivals III: Wow, that was cheap. Vince actually throws punches and gets off with a warning, Tony hovers over his parter and gets tossed. That is like in baseball where a pitcher throws at a dudes head as hard as he can, both teams gets a warning, then a couple innings later some middling reliever drills someone between the shoulder blades with a sixty mile per hour retaliation pitch and gets the boot. To add insult to injury, it was even Vince who basically instigated the whole thing by knocking Camilla to the ground making her go full drunken Brazilian mode leading to Vince and Johnny to wake up the blacked out Tony. Karma should dictate Vince should automatically go to the Junglee. And with a memory challenge, he may very well depending how attentive Jenna is.
You can download The Challenge: Rivals III on iTunes.
Aquarius: Not a good sign for the second week in a row I fell asleep while watching. I did wake up in time to see the chick with the bad accent turn on the creepy biker dude. Worse sign, I did not even bother to look up a recap to see what I missed.
You can download Aquarius on iTunes.
Friday, June 24, 2016
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 Ray Donovan, Difficult People, The Unknown Flag Raiser of Iwo Jima, Live at 9:30, Tesla, Tony Lucca, Josh Kaufman, One and Done, Casual, Penny Dreadful, and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.
- Showtime is giving viewers a chance to sample the season four premiere of its hit drama series Ray Donovan ahead of its linear premiere on Sunday, June 26th at 9:00. Ray Donovan stars Liev Schreiber in his three-time Golden Globe® and Emmy-nominated role as L.A.’s best professional fixer – the man called in to make the city’s celebrities, superstar athletes, and business moguls’ most complicated and combustible situations go away. The series is currently in production on 12 episodes in Los Angeles. Consumers who do not subscribe to Showtime can watch the TV-14 rated version of the season four premiere for free on YouTube and SHO.com. The episode is also available for download as a free video podcast on iTunes. Consumers can also sample the premiere of RAY DONOVAN for free across multiple television and streaming providers’ devices, websites and applications and free On Demand channels.
In season two of Difficult People, premiering Tuesday, July 12 on Hulu, Julie and Billy continue to search for fame, to diminishing returns. Billy embarks on the journey of finding a boyfriend while Julie tries her best to avoid a deeper commitment to Arthur and not become her mother. Julie and Billy continue to have contempt for the word around them while remaining loyal to each other, and, as they get in their own way, learn no lessons.
- For over 70 years, the iconic flag-raising photograph at Iwo Jima has been one of the most reproduced images in history, inspiring books, movies and the Marine Corps War Memorial in Washington, DC. In a new one-hour Smithsonian Channel special, the United States Marine Corps will confirm the identity of a previously unknown flag raiser on Iwo Jima. Forensic evidence provided by Smithsonian Channel and production company Lucky 8 TV reveals that unsung hero U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. and Purple Heart recipient Harold Schultz was one of the flag raisers in Joe Rosenthal’s famed Iwo Jima photo taken on February 23, 1945. The full forensic investigation unfolds with never-before-seen evidence in The Unknown Flag Raiser of Iwo Jima, premiering Sunday, July 3 at 9:00 on Smithsonian Channel.
- Live At 9:30 is excited to announce the launch of LiveAt930.com. Hosted by Squarespace, LiveAt930.com will be the exclusive online destination for the program and feature clips, behind the scenes blogs, and much more from the groundbreaking TV music variety series. Episodes of “Live At 9:30” began airing on public television stations earlier this month. Viewers should contact their local public television station to learn more about when “Live At 9:30” will air locally. After each episode has aired on public television, it will be available in full at LiveAt930.com.
- Tesla’s third album, Psychotic Supper, the band’s third studio album, released on August 30, 1991, was the follow-up to the live Five Man Acoustical Jam, peaking at #13 on the Billboard 200, featuring an aggressive change in direction from the previous disc, landing an impressive five songs on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, including “What You Give,” which went to #7 and even cracked the Billboard Hot 100 at #86. Other memorable songs include “Edison’s Medicine,” which spotlights how its subject received credit for harnessing electricity over the band’s own namesake, Nikola Tesla, which climbed to #20 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks, along with “Call It What You Want” (#19), “Song & Emotion” (#13) and “Stir It Up” (#35). Produced by Michael Barbiero (Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Anthrax) – who also helmed the band’s first two studio efforts -- the album was eventually certified platinum in 1993 by the RIAA, and was included in German magazine Rock Hard’s book of “The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time.” The band themselves have been quoted as considering Psychotic Supper their best record. To help mark the album’s 25th anniversary in August, UMe is reissuing the album for the first time as a two-LP standard issue vinyl set on July 22.
- Nashville-based singer-songwriter Tony Lucca is set to hit the road this fall for an extensive cross-country tour (see full tour schedule below). Lucca has planned a Southeast, Northeast and Midwest series of co-headlining dates with labelmate Alex Dezen (of The Damnwells) which they are billing as the “Heads or Tails Tour.” (Joining Dezen and Lucca on their run will be Christian Lopez.) Lucca also plans to head out after that with Tyrone Wells for a series of twelve West Coast and Texas shows. For full dates and ticket information, head over to TonyLucca.com.
Josh Kaufman, Season 6 Champion of NBC’s The Voice, releases his first self-titled EP today, now available on all music platforms. The EP features a total of six songs, including his first single “Truth Be Told,” which was released on May 27. Other songs on the EP include the soulfully upbeat “All I Ask,” powerful vocal ballad “Avalanche,” jazzy foot-tapper “Paycheck,” love-inspired “The World,” and catchy radio-ready hit “Digging Deep.”
- Conan O'Brien will once again be immortalized with a set of four Pop! Vinyl figures to be available this July, when TBS's late-night series Conan returns to San Diego for Comic-Con® International. Created by Funko for TBS, a division of Turner, this year's collectible figure designs include "Superman™ Conan," "Stormtrooper™ Conan," "Ghostbuster™ Conan" and "The Joker™ Conan." In addition, the world of Conan will be put on full display through a virtual reality experience at the TBS Comic-Con® booth on the convention floor. During the week of Comic-Con® International, Conan will be taped at San Diego's historic Spreckels Theatre on Wednesday, July 20 – Saturday, July 23, including two rare weekend shows. Episodes will air that Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 11 p.m. (ET/PT) on all TBS platforms and will be available across TBS and Team Coco's digital, mobile and VOD platforms the day after airing.
- Showtime Sports continues its expansion of unscripted, timely and compelling sports programming with a documentary film featuring projected No. 1 NBA Draft pick Ben Simmons. The network is collaborating with MAGGIEVISION Productions on the Simmons story and his journey to the NBA titled One and Done. The feature length film will premiere in October just prior to the start of Simmons’ rookie NBA season. The announcement was made today by Executive Vice President & General Manager of Showtime Sports Stephen Espinoza.
- The Golden Globe®-nominated Hulu Original and Lionsgate Television comedy Casual from Oscar®-nominated director Jason Reitman and creator Zander Lehmann - which just premiered its second season to critical acclaim earlier this month - will return for a third season in 2017. In addition, Jason Reitman has signed a first look deal with Hulu for all television related projects. This is Hulu’s first development deal of this kind.
- The critically acclaimed SHOWTIME drama Penny Dreadful has slayed its final demon – last night’s jaw-dropping finale marked the series finale of the three-season opus envisioned by creator, writer and executive producer John Logan, it was announced today by Logan and David Nevins, President and CEO, Showtime Networks Inc. This unique mash-up of literary horror has followed Vanessa Ives (Eva Green, in her Golden Globe®-nominated role), Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett), and Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) as they’ve worked together, at all costs, to vanquish the evil that relentlessly pursues them.
Thursday, June 23, 2016
Cop shows have populated television as long as anyone can remember. There would be a crime at the start of the episode and solved by the end and then repeat for a hundred episodes and then probably spin it off. About a decade ago shows became more serialized and we got a few cop shows that would take a whole season to solve… or two in case of the first high profile one The Killing. At least the first season of Murder in the First ended with the murderer getting caught. Then in the second season, the show got a little creative, there was a school shooting in the first episode, except by the end of the episode, one suspect was dead the other was in custody. The rest of the season followed that case to trail and there was a secondary plot about the murder of a cop that involved the drug trade in Los Angeles.
The third season of Murder in the First starts off with a dinner meeting involving the District Attorney who not so conspicuously gets up to “make a phone call” moment as the younger hot chick leaves the table. We do get a murder in the second scene at the birthday party of a star quarterback. Sure every cop show has done the celebrity murder episode, sometimes once or twice a season, but the second death of the episode is much more shocking, especially when it comes to who does it, which will likely be the more interesting storyline of the season.
One thing the season long cases do is allow the viewers to go home with the cops, for better or worse (I would argue the latter; there were fewer things I wanted to see on The Killing than the frumpy cop in the sweater spend an entire episode looking for her kid). It is a bit eye rolling when Hildy’s eleven year old gets caught with something you do not want your kid to have. But things get worse for her when she get a call from her doctor with news they do not want to share over the phone.
Murder in the First airs Sundays at 10:00 on TNT. You can also download Murder in the First on iTunes.
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
I am a Cameron Crowe loyalist. I really enjoyed Elizabethtown (hot take alert: the Freebird scene is better Tiny Dancer) and will even defend Aloha (c’mon people, it featured Emma Stone and Bill Murray dancing). But even the biggest critics his most recent work has to admit that Almost Famous is great. The film features a young writer who goes on the road with a rock band (based on Crowe’s time at Rolling Stone) so you have to get excited when Crowe’s first venture to the small screen sees Crowe get back on the traveling concerts business with Roadies.
As the title suggests, the new show focuses on the men and women who move tours from town to town and (hopefully) makes sure everything move slowly. The cast includes Luke Wilson (Legally Blonde) as the tour manager, Carla Gugino (Son in Law) as the production manager, Imogen Poots (That Awkward Moment) takes care of lighting, Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider), Ron White (Horrible Bosses) as the road manager, Richard Baker (Machine Gun Kelly) just wants any job on the tour (and gets a pretty humorous one). And since every show needs a little conflict, Rafe Spall (One Day) shows up as a financial guy who tries to make the tour run more efficiently (i.e. fire people), and when pressed about the type of music he listens to says Queen and The Mumford Sons.
Much like Almost Famous, the band on tour is fake, in this case The Station-House Band. It seems like the band was big last decade and can now live off touring, Kings of Leon being the best comparison I can think of. And wisely instead of trying to create fake hit songs for the band, we (as of yet) do not get to hear the band play a song. Though the headliners are fake, the opening acts are real. The Head and the Heart show up in the premiere, Reignwolf in the second, Lindsey Buckingham pops up in the third (those were all the episodes I have seen but I hope that the opening acts turn into a Spinal Tap drummer situation where the band just cannot seem to hold on to them).
Not only did Cameron Crowe create the show, he also wrote and directed the first episode (and third, he just listed as director for the second), for better or worse. The show has all the charm you get with his movies and you can add Imogen Poots to the long list of great female leads that Crowe was able to get a career defining performance out of. Even Machine Gun Kelly, whose music I find unbearable and despite not even being a good actor, comes off as a likeable goof reciting Crowe’s words. And of course the music curation is great, each episode even features a “song of the day” which is cool even if is just a cheap way to fit in a montage. But along with what is great about Cameron Crowe the show also includes its flaw like how he can be too earnest at time. What Poots goes on a diatribe about how fake climatic running scenes at the end of movies are, you just know she is going to break out into a sprint by the end of the first episode, set to Pearl Jam to boot.
Still with its flaws, Roadies is the best music themed show I have ever seen. Sure Cameron Crowe’s plots are not always coherent (what was Aloha about again) but the journey is always great. And what better journey than going town to town following a rock band. And even if you are not sold on the premiere (which you can watch for free below or check your On Demand channel for an uncensored version) I suggest at least give it to the third episode when Rainn Wilson (who played a Rolling Stone staffer in Almost Famous) shows up as a jaded rock critic who gave a negative review based solely on a fan’s YouTube video and Lindsey Buckingham who turns in his best work since his guest stint on What’s Up with That?
Roadies airs Sundays at 10:00 on Showtime.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
As it seems like every time I do a quarterly round up of albums coming soon, things just seem to be getting more and more dire. These are supposed to be the albums that will be the soundtrack to out collective summer, but most everything is a resounding meh to me. The only album I can even get a little excited for is the new Avett Brothers album. Everything else I will at least give a spin on Spotify hopping for a gem. In the past, at the "TBD" section was where a bulk of the anticipated albums landed before airdropping with little to no notice, but even that is getting thin. If you want to pre-order the album on Amazon, click on the album title, click the artist's name to be taken to their iTunes page.
The Getaway - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Johannesburg - Mumford & Sons
Undercurrent - Sarah Jarosz
The Joker Live - Steve Miller Band
True Sadness - The Avett Brothers
Moving Day - Meiko
Conscious - Broods
Caroline Glaser - Caroline Glaser
blackSUMMERS'night - Maxwell
Young In All The Wrong Ways - Sara Watkins
The Bride - Bat for Lashes
California - blink-182
King Paten - Holly Henry
Where the Light Shines Through - Switchfoot
Blank Face LP - ScHoolboy Q
Wildflower - The Avalanches
H A R D L O V E - Needtobreathe
Love and Hate - Michael Kiwanuka
Dress to Impress - Keith Sweat
Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not - Dinosaur Jr.
XX - O.A.R.
Home of the Strange - Young the Giant
and the Anonymous Nobody... - De La Soul
Stay Gold - Butch Walker
I'm Alone, No You're Not - Joseph
My Women - Angel Olsen
Signs of Light - The Head and the Heart
Away - Okkervil River
Three - Phantogram
50 - Rick Astley
12 Voices - Sum 41
Songs of Experience - U2
Cool Aid - Snoop Dogg
LP2 - Bastille
The Rolling Stones
The Stone Roses
Tears for Fears
And this may be the quarter when Dr. Dre releases Detox.
Sunday, June 19, 2016
House of Lies: I hate when episode start in the third act before a “x amount of time earlier” title card, this was weird because we did not get just one scene in the future before flashing back to the beginning, we got five (and really the whole episode just jumped back and forth in time), but at least that was worth it for adding Doug making out with the old lady at the end. I guess it was good the show ended because I am not sure a season with Marty and Jeannie blissfully married. But still a weird way to end it. Before the season Kristen Bell was cast in an NBC sitcom but they said it would not interfere with House of Lies. Which makes sense, ten episode of one show, thirteen of another; some sitcoms air twenty-four episodes a year. Except when the Veronica Mars movie was being made there was talk of a television reboot but they said that could not be done because Kristen Bell could not be the face of two shows at the same time. But then David Duchovny did it with X-Files and Aquarius so maybe in that time people were lax on that. But then two weeks before the finale, Showtime announced it would be a series finale, not season. Has Showtime just decided to get out of the half-hour business? Happyish was a rare one and done on a premium network. House of Lies is now done; Episode only has one season left. So that leaves Dice as only half hour on the air that has not been canceled. Except that has not been renewed either, and not getting a renewal a month after the season ended is not a good sign. And I am not aware of any new comedies in the pipeline. Not that I am complaining, Showtime’s drama are much better. House of Lie is the best I have seen on the network and it is not in the top five all all shows.
Preacher: Being able to get people to do whatever you say in the most literal way has to be one of the lames superpowers to have. That may take a while for Preacher to master in his advantage. Okay, the scene with the Irish Vampire was fun.
You can download Preacher on iTunes.
Penny Dreadful: When shows like Lost were on I obsessed on every little detail, noticed every callback, every Easter egg, just straight off the dome. Fast forward a decade and I do not even notice that museum guy and Dracula was the same guy. Getting old really sucks. At the start of the episode when museum guy lifted up the vampire I thought, oh, I wonder what Victorian monster this guy could be. It was not until it donned on Vanessa that she was hooking up with Dracula the whole time that the lightbulb slowly flickered over my head too. But what exactly does that ending mean? Dracula want to serve Vanessa but it was still him that drank her blood. Does that mean she is a vampire now too? The hot Mr. Lyle replacement said not to believe the mythology behind Dracula, so maybe not. She definitely turned evil. But we did learn from her phycologist that she has at least three distinct personalities so there is probably still a good version or two in there.
Speaking of split personalities, Lily may be getting one soon after Dorian turned on her to team up with Dr. Frankenstein and will soon get injected with Dr. Jekyll’s formula. I have been waiting all season for Dr. Jekyll to turn into Mr. Hyde, maybe it will be Lily who turns into Mr. Hyde. Well that theory does really work because Mr. Hyde is a hideous, evil creature without compassion or remorse and, well, Lily is already there.
BrainDead: Man, this show got killed by critics (and in the ratings) but I really enjoyed the whole sixties B-movie with modern day production feel to it. It is more enjoyable than the other Ramona Flowers show that aired earlier this year.
You can download BrainDead on Amazon Instant Video, free with a Prime membership.
Casual: Nice to see Pete Campbell is still an intolerable douchebag. Here is hoping someone on this show punches him too. And here we are in the third episode and Laura is on her third learning environment. During the meet and greet, right around the “good job” discussion (speaking of intolerable people) I thought she might be on a fourth one next episode but looks like she may actually be sticking around for a while. And apparently Alex’s phase three phase is officially over after bedding one of the annoying mother. Is he back to phase one or is there a phase four?
You can watch Casual on Hulu.
The Challenge: Rivals III: For years I have been advocating that Survivor poach The Challenge challenge makers. But maybe The Challenge challenge makers have finally run out of ideas because almost all of them this season have been horrible and this week’s grab a flag going off the cliff challenge may have been the worst yet. Then they stole that build something until it reaches a certain height Jungle challenge from Survivor, albeit adding a silly ice cooler bath component to it.
You can download The Challenge: Rivals III on iTunes.
Aquarius: I spent most of last season talking about what was happening behind the scenes than what was actually happening on screen. And that is continuing for the surprise second season. No binge watch option like season one where NBC released every episode On Demand after the premiere, but instead this year we get a two hour commercial free premiere. When they announced this I thought we would get two extended episodes. But when the credits ran I noticed writers and directors for “part 3.” So instead of two extended episodes, the two hour premiere was three shortened episodes (though not by much, most hour longs run forty-two minutes so we basically got two minutes less than usual). Did this stunt work? I cannot see how it possibly could. When Angie Tribeca ran its commercial free marathon, it still had a “presenting sponsor,” Aquarius did not even have that. On a personal level it was pretty much a failure because I found myself nodding off about halfway through. But I vaguely remember Denis Wilson showing up. And guess the people that are killed in the future are the Sharon Tate murders. Meh.
You can download Aquarius on iTunes.
Orphan Black: So before season finale we learned next season will be the last raising the bar for the episode. The big reveal is that Rachel will soon meet the person behind everything that apparently is too good for dying and has been around for over a hundred years. So have we met this person yet or is going to be someone new. My first thought was Leekie, or more specifically someone who looks like him, we really cannot rule out the big bad being a clone themselves. Or will it look like Sarah and the rest of the clones that we already know and this person is the real original clone?
You can download Orphan Black on iTunes.