Showing posts with label First Impressions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label First Impressions. Show all posts

Friday, August 05, 2016

Around the Tubes: 8/5/16



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 Masters of Sex, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, All the Way, All Things Must Pass, Game of Thrones, Chuck D, Melissa Etheridge, Brian Posehn, Mars, Florida State football, Killing Reagan, 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards®, and Guerrilla.

- This week, released the key art and first footage from season four of its critically-acclaimed drama series Masters of Sex. Premiering on Sunday, September 11th at 10:00, Masters of Sex stars Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Michael Sheen and Emmy nominee Lizzy Caplan as real-life pioneers of human sexuality, William Masters and Virginia Johnson. Season four begins in 1968 and will take viewers into the “swinging ‘70s,” during which time the series’ characters will take on new partners both professionally, personally and sexually.


- Now in his third acclaimed season, John Oliver proves, each and every week, that he has his finger on the comedic pulse of America. The only news-oriented weekly comedy series to be presented on Sundays, Oliver's take on current events, honed at The Daily Show, is unique, biting and hilarious. And now, HBO is making it easier than ever to take Oliver wherever you go by making the S3 entire Season Pass of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver available for the very first time via Google Play!

- "Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men's skins, emancipation will be a proclamation, but not a fact." -- Lyndon B. Johnson. HBO Home Entertainment proudly presents the September 6th DVD with Digital HD and Blu-ray with Digital HD release of the critically acclaimed All the Way. Following its critically acclaimed, award-winning Broadway run, All the Way (starring four-time Emmy® winner Bryan Cranston who reprises his Tony Award-winning role, is a riveting behind-the-scenes look at President Lyndon B. Johnson's (LBJ) tumultuous first year in office in the wake of President Kennedy's assassination. Bonus material on both sets a Historical Featurette and Bryan Cranston's Transformative Video becoming LBJ. DVD with Digital HD & Blu-ray® with Digital HD will street
on September 6, 2016.

- Directed by Colin Hanks, and featuring music icons like Dave Grohl, Elton John and Bruce Springsteen, All Things Must Pass is a feature documentary film examining this iconic company's explosive trajectory, tragic demise, and legacy forged by its rebellious founder Russ Solomon. For seven years, Hanks took on the documentary that lamented and celebrated the Sacramento-based record store that grew from his hometown into an American retail powerhouse. The DVD can be ordered now at the MVD Shop.

- On August 1, in conjunction with the release of Game of Thrones: The Complete Sixth Season on Digital HD, HBO invites viewers across the land to the launch of a brand new political movement: The GoT Party! One party that everyone can get behind, TheGoTParty (GoTParty.com) is an unique, interactive and engaging online campaign asking the series' fans to help select the very first Game of Thrones Party ticket, pledge their support for their candidate and purchase of Game of Thrones: The Complete Sixth Season on Digital HD (or individual episodes) from all leading digital platforms.

- Chuck D on protesting at the R.N.C., revisiting “Fight the Power” and why Donald Trump is like an amusement park attraction at The New York Times Magazine.

- Melissa Etheridge has done some pretty gutsy things in her stellar career. She's shown no fear in forthrightly standing up for her truths, both in her songs and her life. But as an artist she's never quite laid it on the line like she does on MEmphis Rock and Soul, scheduled for release on October 7th, 2016 via Stax Records, a division of Concord Music Group. On MEmphis Rock and Soul, Etheridge brings her powerful voice and passionate vision to some of the era-defining treasures of modern music - the Staple Singers' "Respect Yourself," Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)" and "I've Got Dreams to Remember," Sam & Dave's "Hold On, I'm Coming," Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign," Johnnie Taylor's "Who's Making Love" - as well as some real discoveries she found in her explorations deep into the Stax catalog. Etheridge could not be happier with the results: an album that completely captures the spirit she felt as a kid hearing these songs. And now she's thrilled to share her MEmphis Rock and Soul. To pre-order MEmphis Rock and Soul, please visit: pledgemusic.com/melissaetheridge.

- Brian Posehn, best known for his roles in Mr. Show and The Sarah Silverman Show, is poised to release Criminally Posehn, an all-new comedy album out on Rooftop Comedy, available August 19, exclusively for streaming on Audible Channels. It will be made available for sale on all digital stores, wherever albums are sold September 23, 2016.

- Premiering on the National Geographic Channel in 171 countries and 45 languages this November, Mars — which is set both in the future and in the present day — will redefine television storytelling by combining feature-film-quality scripted drama and visual effects with best-in-class documentary sequences to drive forward a cohesive, edge-of-your seat story of mankind’s thrilling quest to colonize Mars. This epic six-part global event series tells the inspiring story from the vantage point of a fictitious crewed mission in 2033.

- Showtime Sports released the trailer for A Season with Florida State football, the all-access, season-long documentary series that chronicles the Florida State Seminoles’ high-stakes quest for the 2016 College Football National Championship.


- On March 30, 1981, at 2:27 p.m. six shots were fired from a .22-caliber pistol at the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. On one side of the gun was an aimless and deranged young man, misguided by an obsession with an American actress. His intended victim: the U.S. president. Though he failed in his assassination attempt, he succeeded in changing not only a presidency but a man and a marriage. On Sunday, Oct. 16, National Geographic Channel will go deep inside this harrowing moment in U.S. history, with Killing Reagan, produced with Scott Free Productions and based on the New York Times best-selling book by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. The two-hour movie event is the fourth in a successful partnership between NGC, Scott Free and O’Reilly, with the previous three collaborations — Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy and Killing Jesus — serving as the network’s three most-watched programs of all time and earning multiple Emmy nominations. The movie will air globally in early 2017 on National Geographic Channels in 171 countries and in 45 languages.

- Lily Tomlin – an entertainment maverick whose talents put her at the pinnacle of comedy, acting, writing and producing – has been named the 53rd recipient of SAG-AFTRA's highest tribute: the SAG Life Achievement Award for career achievement and humanitarian accomplishment. Tomlin will be presented the performers union's most prestigious distinction at the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards®, which will be simulcast live nationwide on TNT and TBS on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017 at 8:00. The SAG Life Achievement Award will join Tomlin's extraordinary collection of preeminent industry and public honors, which includes a 2014 Kennedy Center Award, the 2003 Mark Twain Prize for A merican Humor, two Peabody Awards, multiple Emmys® (including this year's Lead Comedy Actress nomination), numerous American Comedy Awards, two Tony® Awards, a Grammy®, a Writers Guild of America Award and both the Crystal Award and the Lucy Award from Women in Film. That Tomlin embodies the SAG Life Achievement Award’s "finest ideals of the acting profession" is amply celebrated by these and her numerous other professional and philanthropic commendations.

- Babou Ceesay (Getting On, Eye In The Sky), Laurence Olivier Award winner Rory Kinnear (PENNY DREADFUL, Spectre) and Daniel Mays (Line of Duty, Mrs Biggs) have joined the cast of the new six-part drama thriller Guerrilla. Also joining the cast are Nathaniel Martello-White (Deadmeat, Misfits, Trial and Retribution), Denise Gough (People, Places & Things, The Duchess of Malfi), Brandon Scott (Grey’s Anatomy), Zawe Ashton (Fresh Meat, Not Safe for Work) and Nicholas Pinnock (Fortitude). Set to air on Showtime and Sky Atlantic in 2017, Guerrilla, which begins production in London this week, centers on a politically active couple who set out to change the world. Academy Award® winner John Ridley (American Crime) will create, write and direct the series. Golden Globe® winner Idris Elba (Luther, Beasts of No Nation) will co-star and serve as an executive producer through his Green Door Pictures. Ridley will write the majority of the episodes and will direct the first two and the finale, with Emmy® Award nominee Sam Miller (Luther, Fortitude, American Crime) directing the remaining episodes.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

First Impressions: Survivor: Blood vs. Water




Before last season was over, there were rumors floating around the internets that this season of Survivor would be returnees vs. loved ones and with a name like Blood vs. Water, it made sense. So when the cast of Survivor: Blood vs. Water was finally unveiled there was little surprise (except no Rob Cesternino or RC who were on the spoiler list) to the people who saw the spoilers way back in May. It was also confirmed that the theme involves returning players taking on family members (sure half the pairs are not actually related by blood, but hey, it is reality TV, they take their fair share of liberties).

Headlining the returning players is the most entertaining former Survivor ever Kat from One World. But with the exception of Kat, Survivor is really doing its best to make this the worst season of the show ever (which is a tall feat after the Boston Rob debacle that was Redemption Island), instead of bringing in Kat’s awesome cousin, her “Blood” is her boyfriend who apparently won some other crappy reality show. Then most of the other returning players range from who would want to see them ever again to just who? Most notably on the former is gay Republican racist Colton also from One World (along with his fiancé) and the latter is Laura from Samoa who brought her daughter (who is quite attractive so that kind of makes sense as to why bring her back for this). They also brought back two of their most boring winners ever in Tina from Australia (and her daughter) and Aras from Panama: Exile Island (and his brother with an even more random name Vytas). What, was the porn star and the wife who beat him up not available to participate this season?

The most disappointing returnee after Colton has to be yet another One World cast member Monica Culpepper who was listed as “wife of NFL player” during her season, so initially I was excited to see her and her husband Dante on the show. Except she is not married to former Vikings quarterback Dante Culpepper, she is married to some dude named Brand Culpepper. He did start eighty-three games at defensive end in the league back in the nineties, but I still feel misled. Also returning to tie Boston Rob in all time appearances is Rupert Boneham (with his wife), while Tyson Apostol (with his girlfriend) and Candice Cody (nee Woodcock, and her husband) are both back for number three. The other former player is Gervase back for the first time since the very first season thirteen years ago. He will be playing alongside his niece.

But as unimpressive as most of the returnees are, the show is bringing back one thing that is actually worse than bringing back Colton: Redemption Island. And the new Redemption Island rules are so complicated. So two people were originally sent right off the bat (shockingly Colton did not get one vote), but then their loved ones can decide to replace them at Redemption Island if voted off their tribe. So Candice gets voted off the returning tribe while Rupert’s wife also got the boot but Rupert took her place. Wow, Candice for Rupert’s wife: that is a really bad trade off for the returning tribe.

And even with Rupert, the returning tribe was outgunned, the other tribe has a former NFL player, a winner of another reality show, all the girls are young and agile, and they got rid of their one weak link early. All the returners have are Tyson, the boring Aras, Kat, an aging Gervase, and they got stuck with Rupert’s wife. But the returners showed why they are veterans crushing their loved ones at the puzzle. Poor Marissa, her uncle clowning everyone after his win sent her packing to Redemption.

As much as I hated the new (and old) twists, it does set up some intrigue of who are willing to sell out their loved ones, and who will fall on the sword. Despite winning, the returners have two large pieces of dead weight in Rupert’s wife and Colton who is poised to sabotage his tribe from the inside. As for a prediction, I am going to go with my girl Kat.

Survivor: Blood vs. Water airs Wednesdays at 8:00 on CBS. You can download Survivor: Blood vs. Water on iTunes.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

First Impressions: Survivor Caramoan: Fans vs. Favorites II




When they announced that the next season of Survivor would be Fans vs. Favorites II my mind races with the possibilities: Kat or Tarzan from One World, Ralph from Redemption Island, Fabio from Nicaragua, oh goodness, I hope they do not bring back Colton. And when they finally announced who would be returning, it was met with a resounding “huh?” I had to Google half the cast (anyone actually remember Francesca, Brenda, or Corinne?) and the other half read like the Moron half of my proposed Morons vs. Masterminds season. It is clear why they titled this season Caramoan instead of Fans vs. Favorites II because there are few “favorites” to be found.

You had two of the three people who actually gave up their Immunity Necklace only to be promptly voted out in Brandon Hantz (seriously CBS, stop it with the Hantz family) and Erik Reichenbach (who is the lone returnee from the original Fans vs. Favorite). Then you had Phillip Sheppard who surprisingly managed to pass not one but two physiological tests to get on the show. When the first Fans vs. Favorites seasons were announced I thought the Favorites had such an unfair advantage for already have played, but not this time around. I have to feel bad for Andrea Boehlke and Malcolm Freberg for being played on maybe the most inept tribe ever assembled (which is doubly bad for Malcolm who tribe last season was just as incompetent).

Not surprisingly, Special Agent Phillip was once again pitted against his arch-nemesis, the hard to pronounce Francesca. The real question would be how the alliances would break down, would the few sane people team up? Just how many crazies could coexist in one alliance? Also not surprisingly the two of the most mentally challenged contestants of all time, Phillip and Brandon ended up on opposite sides. And just like the first season, Phillip does not have to spend much time trying to pronounce Francesca as he got her out first. Again. Which thankfully means Brandon is on the outs and looks to make a quick an exit his uncle did the last time Russell played.

But enough with the “Favorites”, unlike the first time around, they actually recruited some interesting “Fans” this time around. Unfortunately the two early standouts, former Marine, and surprisingly lazy Shamar Thomas and the very hairy Matt Bischoff went after each other on camp priorities. Really the only other glimpses we got to see of the fans tribe was a “High School” alliance form and just like the dumb jocks and cheerleaders, they apparently cannot count because an alliance of four can still get voted out quite easily (but that means Shamar and Matt would have to align with each other).

After losing the first Immunity Challenge and the promo monkeys making it look like they will head to another Tribal Council next week, it is safe to assume that one of the fans will be crowned the ultimate Survivor this season (unless the “Favorites can do some Jedi Mind Tricks after the merge like what happened to Erik the first time around) and I am going to go ahead and predict that Laura Alexander wins. If a favorite does somehow get the million dollars, my back up choice is Dawn.

Survivor: Caramoan airs Wednesdays at 8:00 on CBS. You can stream episodes on cbs.com. You can also download Survivor on iTunes.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

First Impressions: Survivor: Philippines



I never liked the concept of Redemption Island. Why does Boston Rob need redemption? Russell Hantz? Coach, Ozzy? None of them needed redemption other than being douchebags . I always thought if you are going to bring someone back for redemption either have it be someone that did something colossally stupid (like the dude who gave away immunity and was promptly voted out) or someone who was medically removed from the game. Well Survivor did the latter for its Philippines season bring back three contestants that were had to leave the game prematurely.

Thankfully none of the returning cast mates turned out to be Colton Cumbie, the gay homosexual racist Republican from last season whose appendix was about to burst. Instead, the first, and probably most (in)famous casualty Michael Skupin, who fell into the fire during the second season, swinging the season, is back a decade later. Also returning is Russell Swan, surprisingly because dude almost died the first time around with his eyes rolling into the back of his head. His exit also swayed power his season and was yet another absurdly lucky play that benefitted Hantz during his two seasons. Lastly is Jonathan Penner, who got a life threatening infection during his second time playing the game.

Those are not the only familiar faces in the Philippines as they brought in not one, but two celebrities that rival Jimmy Johnson as the most famous contestants ever. This includes fellow sportsman Jeff Kent, perennial All-Star baseball player for the Giants and Astros who just retired four years ago. Also joining him on the island is Lisa Whelchel who may better be known as Blair Warner of The Facts of Life. Unfortunately for next week’s preview, she may not be around long enough for Tootie to join her for the friends and family challenge.

It was apropos that they brought back three wounded survivors this season because there were already some injuries in the first three days. Right off the boat Jeff, who was injury prone during his major league career, tweaked his knee right off the boat. And we may have found out just how Michael feel into the fire after getting cuts on his head, hand and foot.

But the first episode belonged to Zane Knight who was quick to create an alliance with every single person on his tribe, and then told people he had alliances with everyone else. Then after putting up a pitiful performance in the immunity challenge, he stupidly offered himself up to be voted out. But here is the rub, Zane actually thought by putting himself on the chopping block he could Jedi Mind Trick people into voting for Russell. The force certainly was not with Zane who was prompted voted out which means I am going to have to update my list of the Dumbest Survivor Contestants Ever list.

Contestant I’d Most Like to Have Dirty, Dirty Sex with Even if She Hasn’t Take a Shower in a Month: Angie Layton

Winner: Roberta “R.C.” Saint-Amour

Back Up Choice: Michael Skupin

Survivor: Philippines airs Wednesdays at 8:00 on CBS. You can stream episodes on CBS.com. You can also download Survivor: Philippines on iTunes.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

First Impressions: Pretty Little Liars 3.x


The liars are back on Pretty Little Liars

After deciding to reveal the identity of “A”, Pretty Little Liars hit its stride again in the second half of its second season. It finally ramped up the tension that was missing in the previous episodes and brought back the intrigue and mystery that drew in viewers at the start of the series. Like the start of the season, each of the Liars were harboring a new lie: Emily became a blackout drunk, Hannah has been visiting Mona in the mental hospital, Spencer continues to go to the “A” den to figure out who the “Black Swan” was (um, don’t we already know it was her sister?), and Aria, well no new secret but she still continues to carry on her creepy affair with Ezra (I thought he could not get a job in the area, how is he still around, Ezra should have become the King of New Orleans when he had the chance). But unlike the first season where it took a couple episodes for the secrets to come out, they actually shared them with each other from the start. But much like the start of the show, the liars inexplicably still not go to the police when they are in trouble.

Emily has picked up a drinking problem since last seasonIn the five months that passed in Rosewood since the finale Garrett apparently did not just get pinned for the murder of Allison (which he denies even though I could have sworn he already admitted to it with Jenna) but also added another manslaughter charge (Mya’s) to his rap sheet. Mona has been in a catatonic state in a nut house only moving to acknowledge visions of Allison in a red dress (keep in mind the shadowy figure in the finale was also wearing red). Hermie the Hermaphrodite has gotten moody since the masquerade ball. And Jenna has still not been seen since we saw her seeing things unbeknownst to everyone else who thought her surgery failed.

Mona is still in a mental institutionOh yeah, and someone dug up Allison’s body and left Emily with the shovel. Of course that is only assuming Allison’s body was actually there to begin with (yes, I am still holding onto my theory I had from the series premiere that Allison is in fact still very alive). And thanks to the pictures in the car at the end, it is safe to assume “New A” is behind everything. And since she claims that unlike Mona, who plays with dolls, “New A” plays with body parts, there is a good chance (s)he is behind the missing Allison body and Mya’s death. Hopefully, unlike the first “A”, the writers do not wait a season too late to reveal who “New A” is.

Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays at 8:00 on ABC Family. You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Pretty Little Liars on iTunes.



Monday, March 26, 2012

First Impressions: Mad Men 5.x


All the pretentious Mad Men fans like to go on and on about the time jumps between season of Mad Men and how they are able to guess when the new season is taking place in no time, and this was actually the first time I actually cared enough to realize how far ahead the show went when I noticed that Baby Gene was still a baby. Although I almost thought the show went backwards in time after seeing Bobby Draper managing to get younger.

Megan Draper doing her Zoo Be Zoo danceSo here we are about six months later (I am still not pretentious enough to pin down the exact length of time) and apparently the new car smell might be wearing off the new Draper nuptials. As previous notch in his bedpost Dr. Miller so aptly predicted last season, Don only likes stuff that are new (she also correctly predicted he would be married within a year early last season). Note to any secretary who marries her boss who happens to have stolen someone else’s identify, throwing him a surprise party for his fake birthday may not be the best idea no matter how many awkwardly awesome Zoo Be Zoo dances you do for him at the party.

But more surprising than his party is that the marriage may actually work. Megan can play the mother that Don has be searching for all his life by monitoring his alcohol intake and she will even clean the apartment in her underwear (I bet she is up for punching him in bed too). You know that is something Betty (who thankfully was absent for the first two hours) would never do, mostly because that is something for the help and if she were to do it, she would dress in her Sundays best while doing it. Megan is Don’s mother, wife, and mistress all rolled into one. I may even take the under for number of women Don has sex with this season. Has Vegas even released their Mad Men prop bets yet?

I have long thought that Peggy Olsen would end up being the new Don Draper, she has her own secret life, but I am wondering if Pete Campbell may be filling those shoes who thanks to Peggy’s secret has his own (even if we have not seen or heard about him for about two season). And when he walked into him home in the suburbs, I actually had visions of his own Draper Manor and now has the same amount of kids as Don had during season one and even started feuding with Roger Sterling. All he needs now is his own unattractive bohemian mistress.

But the reason I continue to watch Mad Men after the boring first two seasons, is that around the third it surprisingly got funny. Well that and everyone could use more Annie Edison in their lives. There was plenty to laugh at. Bert Cooper arguing with Peggy’s hippie boyfriend, Roger and his teen bride ruining the surprise party, Lane continuing to be a creepy perv to poor effect, the unintended result of SCDP’s help wanted ad, the bean ballet, the partner’s meeting Pete’s office, Roger’s first meeting with his baby and how the baby got around, and Harry Crane’s recreation of Megan’s dance. Zoo Be Zoo indeed.

Mad Men airs Sundays at 10:00 on AMC. You can download Mad Men on iTunes. You can even buy the Zoo Be Zoo song sung by Megan Draper herself on iTunes.



Thursday, February 16, 2012

First Impressions: Survivor: One World


The cast of Survivor: One World

Just when you thought the idea of Redemption Island was the dumbest idea Survivor ever had, watching the subsequent seasons only proved that it was actually worse than you could have imagined. So last night when Jeff Probst said “Redemption Island…) I screamed at the television, “Noooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!” thankfully after a too long of a dramatic pause he finished his sentence “will not be in play this season”. Whew. But there is a new twist to the game: One World where both tribes live on one beach. A very interesting twist made even more interesting in that the two tribes set up separate camps very far apart and do not seem keen on sharing anything.

Colton Cumbie: yep he's gayThe other big twist is for only the third time in twenty-four season that they are dividing up the tribes and just like the previous two seasons, the guys have started out cocky and the women started out chirping at each other. Interesting enough, in the Amazon, the guys went into the merge with a majority but it was Jenna Morasca who was crowned Sole Survivor while in Vanuatu Chris Daugherty took the title when the women had the numbers. But this season for the first time the men actually won the first immunity challenge but much like Barry Bonds, put an asterisk next to the win because they only won because a woman got hurt (seriously, when Probst tells you to hold your hands to your chest, hold your hands to your chest). Even worse, Probst gave them the option to take the win or continue the challenge and even though they had a two person lead at the time, they still cowardly took the win. I cannot believe the Survivor Gods are going to be too happy by that decision.

Leif Manson
is almost as tall as a HantzLuckily the women were save from having to vote someone out because the woman that got hurt ended up breaking her wrist and was medically removed from the game (if I am not mistaken this was only the second time a challenge was ended due to injury and the player was removed from the game). But the bad news was they still went to Tribal Council giving Probst time to what he does best: stir the pot. And the ingredients inside the pot this time were Christina Cha and Alicia Rosa who pulled out the claws early with a hooded Kat Edorsson hilariously in the middle acting as Mills Lane.

Kat Edorsson: I'd hit thatOne episode, and I am back in. I love the possibilities that two tribes / one beach provides especially when they are segregating themselves: secret alliances, sabotage, theft. Hopefully these all come to fruition and just may thanks to gay homosexual Colton Cumbie who left no question to his sexuality with his jumping form who may just utilities all three. The other early standout is the very first little person on Survivor (or as Herc from Ain’t it Cool New Say, unless you count the Hantz family) who even got his head petted by Alicia, and if there is one thing I have learned from the little people I know (all two of them), never, under any circumstance, pet them on the head. Yeah Alicia is not making many friends. Oh yeah, and the guy’s tribe includes two guys named Tarzan and Troyzan. Fun times.

Contestant I’d Most Like to Have Dirty, Dirty Sex with Even if She Hasn’t Take a Shower in a Month: Kat Edorsson

Winner: Kim Spradlin

Back Up Choice: Jonas Otsuji

Survivor: Redemption Island airs Wednesdays at 8:00 on CBS. You can stream episodes on CBS.com. You can also download Survivor on iTunes.

Monday, October 24, 2011

First Impressions: Once Upon a Time


The cast of Once Upon a Time

It seems like every season there are a couple shows that share a premise and this year there were actually two competing shows on ABC and NBC with the same idea. ABC resoundingly won the first battle between the sixties era drama with Pan Am being a more critical and commercial success while The Playboy Club flamed out with both and did not last a month. This week sees the debut of two more similarly themed shows based around fairy tales, with Grimm premiering Friday at 9:00 (look for my review later this week).

Where Grimm is simply a procedural whose perps just happens to come from children’s stories, Once Upon a Time is all in with its fairytale theme with half the story set in the mythical land and the other in present day Storybrooke, Maine where the fairytale characters live your average human existence. Confused yet (the show does come to us from writers on the Lost staff)? As the story goes, the Evil Queen (of Snow White Fame) cast a spell banishing everyone in the enchanted forest to the worst place where there are no such things and happy endings without any knowledge of their fairytale past: present day America (or purgatory, these are the writers of Lost). And the writer really hit that idea hard repeating just how much this life sucks making you wonder how much they hate their own lives.

Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow WhiteBut wait, it has been prophesized, by Rumpelstiltskin of all people, that the offspring of Snow White and Prince Charming would come back on her twenty-eighth birthday to rescue them from this horrible place. And wouldn’t you know in present day Boston, Jennifer Morrison (Urban Legends - Final Cut) is celebrating that very birthday when she is visited by a precocious ten year old saying he was the son she gave up a decade before and is apparently the only one in Storybrooke aware of the inhabitant’s pervious lives (maybe it is because he looks to be the only one who is actually ageing in the city which is why Snow White and her daughter look the same age; though not explained is why they look nothing alike or why Morrison is wearing a jacket out of the Thriller collection). One has to wonder in the Evil Queen excluded herself in the amnesia curse.

Much like the upcoming Grimm, the big flaw (aside from the laughably bad CGI) is that both shows take themselves too serious for a show about fairytale characters. It is hard not to cringe as scenes like present day Red Riding Hood is a slut. But shows really need to learn to embrace the cheese factor when updating stories like these to be successful.

Other modern day counterparts include Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin, Ramona and Beezus) is now a teacher. Prince Charming (Joshua Dallas, Thor), who was fatally wounded before the curse was set in now a John Doe in a coma at the hospital. Jiminy Cricket (Raphael Sbarge, Vision Quest) is a children psychiatrist. Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle, Once Upon a Time in the Midlands) “owns” the town, whatever that means. And naturally the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla, Spin City) is in politics and the adoptive parent of Snow White's grandchild.

There are very few more likeable actors working today than Goodwin and Parrilla manages to make the real life mayor of Storybrooke scarier than the Evil Queen making modern day that much more interesting, but I am not sure how far the show can go unless it develops a funny bone.

Once Upon a Time airs Sundays at 8:00 on ABC. You will be able to stream episodes on Hulu. You can also download Once Upon a Time on iTunes.

Monday, October 17, 2011

First Impressions: The Walking Dead 2.x


Behind the scenes turmoil is never a good indicator of onscreen quality. Usually these problems stem from creative disagreements between the producers and the network. Though most is speculation at this point, what we do know about the second season of The Walking Dead is that creator Frank Darabont and AMC parted ways early into the filming and is was not a very amicable decision. The shakeup really puts the thirteen episode season set for this season in question as will it live up to the promise to the first season.

That is not to saw the first season did not have its flaws even with Darabont in complete control (even Frank may have seen the shortcomings, firing the writing staff in between seasons, starting off all the behinds the scenes gossip surrounding the show). The one minute recap at the start of the episode was so short but comprehensive it makes you wonder why it took seven hours to tell that story.

With the trip to the CDC a dead end (quite literally as it blew up), at the start of the second season, a band of not so merry men are heading out to an army base and naturally hit a road block where a disturbing about of people chose to die in their cars. Naturally a pack of Walkers were not far behind which makes you wonder where there were going. Do they have some natural instinct that is leading them somewhere or did they think they heard something and just went that way and did not stop?

The season premiere also broke down like one from the first; the cast is going nowhere and then they get sidetracked as a plot point, this time around the young girl goes missing in the wood and you really cannot go shouting her names as not to alert the zombies. And after an hour of searching, she is still missing. But we of course get a cliffhanger in that the young boy got shot while looking at a deer in a weird scene. Seriously, who goes up to pet a wild deer? But anyway.

The episode did show possibly the most gruesome scenes to date. Even though I had eaten dinner four hours earlier, opening up of the zombie to see what he had eaten earlier made me quite a bit queasy (and brought back flashbacks of biology class when we had to dissect animals to see what they had eaten). Also high on the creepy-meter was opening up the church to find three Sitters just at the pew staring at Jesus. Also cool and gruesome as these season are, much like season one I find myself wondering when The Walking Dead will kick into high gear.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9:00 on AMC. You can stream episodes over at amc.com. You can also download The Walking Dead on iTunes.



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

First Impressions: Last Man Standing


The cast of Last Man Standing

As a child of the late eighties and early nineties, naturally I was a big fan of ABC’s TGIF lineups: Full House, Family Matters, Boy Meets World, I even watched Just the Ten of Us. But at the turn of the century, the family sitcom seemed to die out or just were not funny (seriously, According to Jim ran for the entire decade). Now in a new decade, the family sitcom is making a comeback and naturally on ABC, although it is not their Friday lineup, but on Wednesdays with The Middle, Suburgatory, and Modern Family dominating in the ratings.

Oddly the comedy night is anchored by Happy Endings while new family sitcom Last Man Standing airs Tuesdays, with a similar man-themes show instead of a family block (what a great lead in for Dancing with the Has-Beens). Tuesday also happened to be the same day Tim Allen’s old show; the perennial top ten rated Home Improvement aired for almost a decade.

For Last Man Standing, instead of three boys, this time around Tim has three girls: the single mom (Alexandra Kronsey, Lost’s young Eloise Hawking), the whiny one (Molly Ephraim, Paranormal Activity 2’s adopted daughter), and the tomboy (Kaitlyn Dever, Justified’s Loretta McCready, who managed to go toe to toe acting wise with Timothy Olyphant and Margo Martindale despite only being in middle school). Patricia Richardson has been traded out for Nancy Travis (The Bill Engvall Show). Instead of a television show, this time around, Tim makes rants on the internet for his sporting goods store. No Al or Wilson equivalents, but some extra Y chromosomes are provided by Hector Elizondo (Valentine's Day) who show up as Tim’s boss and Christoph Sanders (Legally Blondes) as one of his employees who Tim accidentally set up him up with the wrong daughter.

For better or worse, Last Man Standing is basically what you would expect what Home Improvement would look like if Tim had girls instead of boys, there are plenty jokes about gender roles and how man no longer acting like men. The jokes are cheap, the situations cheesy, and the characters over the top and I laughed constantly. Last Man Standing may be a show straight out of the nineties, but I have absolutely no problem with that. Hopefully Loretta can get her buddy Raylan Gibbons to make an appearance sometime.

Last Man Standing airs Tuesdays at 8:00 on ABC. You can stream the show on Hulu. You can also download Last Man Standing on iTunes.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

First Impressions: The Lying Game


The cast of The Lying Game

I am probably too old and too male to be watching anything on ABC Family, but really, what else was I supposed to watch this summer: Breaking Bad? I have better things to do than watch the dad from Malcolm in the Middle cough a hundred times in the span of an hour (okay I obvious do not have better things to do because I still find time to watch ABC Family, I still choose not too).

Alexandra Chando may be the reason to continue watching The Lying GameThe latest show on ABC Family comes from the same pedigree from the channel’s biggest breakout hit. The Lying Game is based on the Sara Shepard books, who also wrote the series that Pretty Little Liars is based on, though The Lying Game got optioned as a television show before the books even hit the shelves.

The story follows twins that were separated at birth (not to be confused with the show whose timeslot The Lying Game took over), one who grew up in privilege, the other in foster care and both played by Alexandra Chando (Rockville, CA). They found out that each other exist when one went searching for their birth parents and circumstances brings them together when the one from the wrong side of the tracks gets in trouble and turns to her newfound sister to help. The rich one takes the opportunity to have the poor one take her place so she can follow a lead on their mother in Los Angles.

It's a bird, it's a plane, its Helen SlaterThings naturally go wrong when the rich twin does not return two days later like she said she would. And much like the pretty little liars who never bother to ask the police or even their parents for help with the crazy stalker, the poor one thinks it would be best to continue to poise as her missing sister. But at least her lie comes with a BMW.

Rounding out the cast include Chando’s adopted parents Helen Slater (Supergirl! Wow did I have such a crush on her in my youth) and Andy Buckley (The Office), and their bratty biological daughter Allie Gonino (10 Things I Hate About You). Then there are the rich girl’s rich friends Alice Greczyn (The Dukes of Hazzard) and Kristen Prout (My Super Psycho Sweet 16: Part 2) and rival Sharon Pierre-Louis (Fame). And what show would be complete without a secret boyfriend, this time played by Blair Redford (The Day the Earth Stood Still).

Alexandra Chando and Allie Gonino of The Lying GameIf you noticed, I did not describe any of the supporting cast members because none of them were even strongly written. Prout is apparently the quintessential dumb blonde, but the rest are really not given any insight of them from the writers who do not even bother to make any of them easy stereotypes, they all are just bland. But the biggest fail on the part of the writers is they did not set up a compelling mystery. By the end of the first episode of Pretty Little Liars, they set up a laundry list of questions that the viewers were left wondering, but there really are none there for The Lying Game. I guess I am supposed to wonder what happened to the rich girl, but I really do not. This is really poor writing because there is plenty of mysteries that could have been put in place even if they would have turned out to be red herrings. Luckily for The Lying Game, there is still a month left until the networks launch the fall programming giving it time to set up compelling plotlines. Because what else am I going to watch until then: Breaking Bad? I am not that pretentious.

The Lying Game airs Mondays at 9:00 on ABC Family. You can stream episodes on Hulu. You can also download The Lying Game on iTunes.