Showing posts with label Previewing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Previewing. Show all posts

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Previewing There's... Johnny! and GameFace

We have finally reached peak streaming because something called Seeso just folded before I ever heard of it. According to Wikipedia, it was basically an over the top channel from NBC Universal devoted to comedy with shows that had appeared on its network. It officially launched January 2016 and shit down earlier this month. I being this up because they had just started creating original content, much of which got moved to other streaming sites I have never heard of.

The most ambitious of the bunch had not even premiered when Seeso went under but was saved by a streaming service I have actually heard of, Hulu. There’s… Johnny! follows a Midwestern guy who travels to Los Angeles mistaking a stock response from the show as an actual job offer. When he shows up for work just shy of 11:30, the surprisingly understanding guard points out the show is not live and actually let him on the lot and a day later he gets a job as a goffer on The Tonight Show.

Ian Nelson (The Boy Next Door) played the doe eyed kid. The always good Jane Levy (Suburgatory) is an assistant talent coordinator who takes a shine to the kid. T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh (In Living Color) is the gatekeeper to Johnny. And Tony Danza (Who’s the Boss) does his best Mad Men audition as the executive producer. While minus the dirty stuff the ad men did and the creator of that show was alleged to do.

Really the tone of There’s… Johnny! is more Wonder Years than Mad Men in that it is a much idealized version of the time. One of the bosses is a black woman and George Carlin does not ask any of the pages if he could touch himself in front of them. Okay the writers do refer to one of their co-workers Joy as Joy of Sex, one of the ladies takes her shirt off in front of a guy the first day they meet, while the F-word gets thrown around a couple times.

The show is quant and nostalgic which actual scenes from The Tonight Show circa 1972 thrown in. Paul Riser (Mad About You) is the creator, producer, and even wrote the first episode. Sure these episodes will likely be the last as the original network folded and Levy has already landed two more shows (including the upcoming Hulu Steven King universe show Castle Rock) but it is something most of the family can gather around with Thanksgiving next week and remember or simpler time. Or just watch it while avoiding the family next week.

All episodes of There’s… Johnny! is available to stream now on Hulu.

English humour is an acquired taste. And it is one that I have not quite acquired yet unless it is delievered by Edgar Write with Simon Pegg starring. But I will admit to laughing more than I do to most Bristish shows when watching GameFace. The show was created and stars Roisin Conaty. Her Marcella reminds me a lot of SMILF’s Bridget. Both are struggling actors who are struggling even more to keep their lives together. Thankfully Marcella does not have a kid, but on the flipside she probably has a decade on Bridget.

Sure Marcella is trying to get her life together, she is learning how to drive (though regularly called by her teacher asking where she is), she has a life coach (though it was a gift from her mom), and can still book acting gigs every once and a while (if you consider children’s parties gigs). The show does have some dark undercurrents as Marcella walks in on a suicide attempt in the first episode and has to deal with the death of an ex-boyfriend mother in the second. If you do have the acquired taste of British humour, you may want to give GameFace a try.

All episodes of GameFace is available to stream now on Hulu.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Previewing Mythbusters and Street Science

Mythbusters seems like a show I would like, except it fell into that category of television show that aired on a channel never watched mixed with being too lazy to find it. But there is no way better to get me to watch a show than to send me a screener. So now I know that the show airs on Science channel (okay, I still have no idea what channel that is on my cable box. But again I thought I would like it because I am not a big fan of conspiracy theories and I am more a Occam’s Razor guy which states “that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected” which basically the most obvious answer is usually the right one.

Since I never saw the original I really cannot judge these new guys, who won some Mythbusters Search that I also did not watch. But my first impressions are these guys are overexciteable, the type of guys who think everything is awesome

But I am not here for the host, I am much more interested in the myths. In the first episode the new host test out if when you put your feet up on the dashboard, would deploying the airbags be fatal even at low speeds and can you cut straight threw the neck where the head dramatically stays put before falling of like in ninja and zombie movies? Um, did the bust all the myths in the first run? To me, Occam ’s razor would say, you may lose some limbs but you will not die and you are not getting a blade threw bone. Well, unless a zombie has been rotting for a while. But you will have to watch to find out. I will say it is very amazing how realistic crash test dummies are now.

Then next week’s episode they will be testing that if a burgle gets stuck in a fireplace and the unknowing owners like the propane fireplace with a leak, will he become a “rocketman?” The other myth says that a bullet that is log in a tree will shoot into a lumberjack when he tries to cut into it. In my opinion Occam ’s razor would say guy may not survive but he is not going airborne. Then in the other myth, um, who would ever think of this. I am not sure there is an Occam ’s razor for that.

Mythbusters airs Wednesdays at 9:00 on Science Channel.

Now I had heard of Mythbusters, but not only have I never seen Street Science, I have never even heard of it. But they had me at: a five found Gummy Bear, potassium chlorate, a concrete block, and a blowtorch. Science people. Fun times. It is just in its second season but this show follows a bunch of scientists who perform experiments, well, on the street. Yeah, the title pretty much sums the show up. Okay not all their science happens on the street like in the premiere where the boys try to create a fire ball thrower that comes out their wrist like Spiderman’s web thrower. There is even a running segment of “Will it Burn” which is a lot more entertaining than Letterman’s “Will it Float.”

If fire launcher is not cool enough for you, the guys create a person launcher in the second episode. And the professionals are not helping because they have no interest in sharing trade secrets so the scientist have to figure it out themselves and then test it even though thirty “cannonballers” have died. Street Science is one of those fun science shows that is fun for the whole family. Well unless a member of you family is quick to ignore the “Do not try this at home” warning and go around lighting everything in the house just to see if it will burn.

Street Science airs Wednesdays at 10:00 on Science Channel.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Previewing Future Man

It is interesting in the advertising of Future Man says it is from the same guys behind Sausage Party and This Is the End and not Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s other television show on right now. It is a smart move, not just because it would be kind to say that show got mixed reviews. But Preacher was based on nineties graphic novel and Future Man is from the brains of the writing duo like the previous mention mentions. And what makes those two movies stand out was that they were high concept movies with low IQ characters.

Future Man follows that high concept filled with stupid people as Josh Henderson (Journey to the Center of the Earth) stars as a janitor who spends all his free time playing video games. He becomes so obsessed with Biotic Wars he is basically the only one left playing while everyone has moved on to the latest one. So he becomes the first person to actually beat the game. And while celebrating the only way a guy who spends too much time playing video games can, two characters from the game show up.

It turns out the game was sent from the future to recruit the best fighters from our time to fight the real Biotic Wars in the future because the resistance has run out of fighters to help win the war. (Yes this is the plot of The Last Starfighter, but even the writer cop up to this and that is even part of the trailer.) Except videos games in the future are for training, unlike this time when it is played by the least athletic. See what I said about high concept, I just burned through two paragraphs just explaining the basic plot even though must network executives want you to be able to explain your show in one line. Of course maybe this is why most network shows are boring.

One of the soldiers from the future is Derek Wilson (Preacher) who may actually be dumber than Henderson because the latter at least has a basic liberal arts education; all Wilson knows to do it fight. And his commanding officer, Eliza Coupe (Benched) is not much smarter. Like I said, high concept, stupid people. And you also get a bit of wacky partners mixed in too. The future soldiers are quick to kill the guy who invented the Biotics where Henderson, who is only comfortable with killing cartoon characters on his television would like to change history in less violent way in hilarity, ensues because everyone involved is kind of incompetent.

Oh, and a lot of hilarity ensues. Be it in the past where they debate killing baby Hitler, or in the future where they break into a famous director’s house to get more time travel material. There is a very high laughs per minute ratio. Well that is if you really enjoy sophomoric humor. If you have not liked any of Rogan or Goldberg’s movies, this show will not change your mind about them. But I will be laughing all the way to the end.

Hulu might not be pumping out the content of other streaming options or networks are, but of the three new shows they debuted in 2017, Harlots was really good, The Handmaids Tale was great, and Future Man is already one of the funniest shows on television. Then next week, Marvel’s Runaways premieres and, well, no one bats a thousand. Which may end up being my official review because the screeners I watched of the first two episodes were not for review. Hulu took those two down a month ago and have not put any up for review.

All episode of Future Man are available now to stream on Hulu.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Previewing Ill Behaviour

Cancer is not funny. This is probably why there are not many comedies about the subject. Off the top of my head there is 50/50 where Joseph Gordon Levitt is diagnosed with schwannoma neurofibrosarcoma and Funny People in which Adam Sandler has acute myeloid leukemia. Weirdly enough Seth Rogan was the second lead in both movies coming out two years apart. Leave it to the British to turn tragedy into a television show with Ill Behaviour. Of course since this is an originally a British show, the series lasts just three hours which Showtime will be showing in six half hour episodes here stateside.

Ill Behaviour stars Tom Riley (Da Vinci’s Demons), father of two who has decides after finding a cancerous lump on his neck that he is going to forgo chemotherapy, with a ninety-four percent success rate, for more holistic treatments of acupuncture, enemas and juicing. This does not sit well with his childhood friends including Chris Geere (You’re the Worst) who, after some life changing news too, decide to kidnap their sick friend and force chemotherapy treatments on their friend.

To do so, first they need some chemo drugs, and those are supplied by a morally questionable oncologist in the form of Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex). Needless to say hijinks in sue and concludes is a surprisingly tense climax. Despite hiding behind some cringeworthy British humour and drugged out characters it does tackle some deep philosophic and moral question, most importantly should you and when should you step in when someone you love is doing something harmful to their being. And at just three hours, it does not stick around too long. I wish America would do more bite sized shows like this as there are too many shows on right now whose thin conceit is spread out amongst ten to twenty episodes.

Ill Behaviour airs Mondays at 10:30 on Showtime.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Previewing Shameless: Season Eight

It seems like every season of Shameless, something happens which I call the most shameless moment in the history of the show never to be topped… only for it to be the next season by something even more wild. That moment happens near the end of the third episode, and, oh my goodness, I doubt the writers can ever top that moment. But they will undoubtedly will somehow next season.

Shameless is predictable that way. Life in the Gallagher house sucks at the start of every season, things start looking up, then something horrible happens, and they are back at where they started by the end of the season. Then we get a couple month flashforward and a soft reboot every season. That is until now. All of the Gallagher love interests from last season are still around even if the couples crashed and burned last season. Ian’s ex-boyfriend who used to be a chick pops up a couple times in the first couple episodes. Lip’s ex-girlfriend is still working with him at the dinner as he offers to babysit. Her brother and Debbie are still a thing.

And though Fiona spent most of last season going from one Tinder hookup to the next, the first season involves her deleting the app because she wants something more. The person who went to the alter twice and averages a boyfriend per season is ready to settle down. Things are changing and growing so much, even Liam I think gets more lines in the first episode than he got in the previous seasons of the show combined.

But the biggest change of all this season may be Frank who, after the death of his wife has seen the error of his ways, is going around making amends and even goes so far to be a functioning member of society by actually getting a job. And not just to get injured so he can get more workmen’s comp. We will see just how long it last (I will predict it will last the season before he takes a copious amount of drugs and is back to his old degenerate self next season). Elsewhere this season, someone gets an unfortunate tattoo, Fiona runs into tenants in her new apartment who as bad as her father used to be (and some hot lesbians), there is a DUI, an ICE raid… of, yeah, and someone has a breast cancer scare. Never a dull moment on the South Side.

Shameless airs Sundays at 9:00 on Showtime.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Previewing SMILF

Showtime recently premiered White Famous loosely based on executive producer Jamie Foxx’s life as he transitioned from stand up to actor. I spend most of my time wondering just how loosely is it based on his life? Did he sleep with his agent’s ex-boss? What show is Angry Black supposed to be on his resume? Who is Michael Rappaport supposed to be? Or is basically, stand up turned actor with a baby mama trying to be white famous and basically everything else is made up?

Starting this week, White Famous is going to be paired with another semi-autobiographical show based on the creator’s life called SMILF. Okay, let us get this out of the way first: SMILF is a horrible name for a television right up there with Better off Ted as the worst of all time. Even the titular character knows how icky that name is when someone calls her that (for those that cannot figure it out, Eleanor from The Good Place would call her a “Single Mother I’d Like to Fork”). Okay, enough with that.

Where Jamie Foxx came up in the nineties where there is not much personal information readily available on the internet and any relation to Floyd Mooney; just a look at Frankie Shaw’s (Mr. Robot) Wikipedia page shows just how much she shares with SMILF’s Bridgette. They are both from Boston, and have a baby daddy who went on to date an extremely attractive Australian. So when SMILF’s Nelson (Samara Weaving, Ash vs. the Evil Dead) says she was named after the saintly Nelson Mandela, it could not make me wonder if Teresa Palmer happened to be named after Mother Teresa.

Yeah, I am not sure if Teresa Palmer, Frankie’s real life baby daddy’s now wife, will want to watch SMILF. In the first episode she is calls her by a name that references one of her amble body parts (only behind her back of course) and later during a Google session of the ex’s new beau, something we all have done, Bridgette goes somewhere I personally I have never gone while cyberstalking one of them. Then in the second episode we learn of Nelson’s irrational love of standing in line. Although, I have to say, no matter how bad she comes across, Nelson is by far my favorite character on the show.

And that really is because as bad as Shaw may make Nelson look; Bridgette comes off looking a lot worse. That post-college time is a time of trial of error and doing plenty of stupid kid, a time that can make for a funny television show. But when that twenty-something has a kid, it makes that moment more cringe worthy than funny. Especially when she covers up her kid in her studio apartment to have sex with a dude for the first time since having a kid. Which of makes this the perfect pair for Shameless (which premieres at 9:00 the same night), Fiona and Bridgette are essentially the same person in someone different situations. The only thing is the Gallaghers come off as cartoony but SMILF just feels a little more real despite about one dream sequence per episode.

Almost as depressing is Rosie O’Donnell (Exit to Eden) who definitely looks like a beleaguered grandmother from the lower middle class. Sure, she will probably get an Emmy for this role, but I think it will be more as a troll to the president than because she is the funniest supporting lady on television. Then the baby daddy played by Miguel Gomez (The Strain) who is a boring as the real life baby day who has an IMDB with movies I have seen but cannot place him in any of them. But he has hooked up with Frankie Shaw and Teresa Palmer so clearly he is doing something right.

SMILF airs Sundays at 10:00 on Showtime.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Previewing Major Crimes: The Final Season

Tonight started the end of an era with the final season premiere of Major Crimes as the unit will close it final case at the end of season six which will include its one hundredth episode which will air December 19. Of course this is after seven seasons and a hundred and nine episodes of The Closer. But the end is still thirteen episodes away.

Tonight they crew starts a multiple episode case of three young boys that is not your typical missing persons case. Well obviously or it would not be a major crime. One is a diabetic, one is a DREAMer, and the third has a step-father with ties to Mexican drug lords, and tangling the web even more, he died under suspicious circumstances not too long ago. Throw in a priest who is not quick to cooperate and a neighbor who probably owns a MAGA hat and a daughter who has eyes for one of the brown skinned boys and you have plenty of suspects but very few leads.

Which is probably this is one of the rare cases that do not get solved in one episode. Or even two. They even need to bring in a new detective to the case who is quick to introduce her fist to an unruly perp’s nose. And of course the early season gets plenty of Philip Stroh mentions too, a guy who was first season during season five of The Closer.

Major Crimes airs Tuesdays at 9:00 on TNT. The season starts with back to back episode and concludes with a two episode series finale January 16.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Previewing Too Funny to Fail

What if I told you there is a television show starring Steve Carrell, Stephan Colbert, Robert Smigel, the head writer is Louis C.K. while other writers include Charlie Kaufman and Robert Carlock whose name you may not recognize but who was in every title sequence of 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt as creator? You would probably think there will be the bidding war in the history of television between networks, cable, premium channels, and streaming services. But here is the thing, that is not an upcoming show, it already existed. And not only would all those future very successful people involved, the face on the marquee was Dana Carvey fresh off of Saturday Night Live where he was arguably the greatest cast mate of all time.

Except The Dana Carvey Show failed and it failed miserably. That was pretty much it for Dana Carvey the star. It was six years until he was allowed to star in another movie and nothing after that. Of course almost everyone else associated with the show went on to superstardom. The Office, The Late Show, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, Louis C.K. and Carlock have multiple Emmy’s, while Kaufman has an Oscar for writing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Two decades later many of the players get interviewed for the documentary Too Funny to Fail. Sorry, no Charlie Kauffman, but after watching most of his weird movies, maybe it is somewhat understandable his weird sense of humor did not fit in the same hour as Home Improvement.

With the talent involved, the documentary is plenty funny. You get to see Carvey’s Saturday Night Live audition (the bit ended up on the show) as well as an early burger ad starring Carrell, and a truly bizarre audition tape by Colbert that involved his daughter. Even the editor gets a few laugh in, be sure to read the descriptions under the talking head’s name. But maybe the funniest part of the whole documentary was a real ad for a very special episode of Home Improvement… followed by "The Mug Root Beer Dana Carvey Show." Yeah, okay, now I am seeing how this show did not work back in 1996.

The documentary is also littered with plenty of interesting stories like which future star Louis C.K. (who had plenty of hair back then) was very adamant they did not hire. They even shared a letter of an angry fan berating a critic who bashed the show in a review… read by that very critic. And you better bet they found the fan who wrote it too. And of course they show plenty of sketches and I have to agree, maybe not the best idea to start the series with Dana as Bill Clinton breastfeeding a dog. Also, there was a very racist sketch that would have made Twitter explode today and may have even gotten a few people fired today. Awe, the nineties. And there was even a sketch for The Dana Carvey Show that actually lived on after the show as a running bit on Saturday Night Live. The documentary actually made me want to go back and watch the show for the first time. And lo and behold, after you are watching Too Funny to Fail on Hulu, which is available to stream now, all eight episodes of The Dana Carvey Show, including the unaired episode, are also available to stream exclusively on Hulu.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Previewing George Michael: Freedom

Man, we have lost some all-timers recently. Just in the last two years we have lost Davis Bowie, Glen Frey, Prince, George Michael, Chuck Berry, and most recently Tom Petty. All at some point could be considered the biggest artist in the world. Michael is an interesting case because it is very rare for an artist to go from teen idol to a critically acclaimed all timer. It is basically him and The Beatles. But on the flipside, fewer one time biggest act in the world fell faster and harder out of public consciousness.

George Michael: Freedom is a film the singer was finishing at the time of his death last Christmas. But after his death there was no epilogue added mourning his death, just an introduction by Kate Moss explaining the circumstance of how the documentary was being made. George is the director and narrator for better or worse. Obviously when you have the subject so deeply involved you get the most accurate account, but then the subject can also gloss over event that an objective filmmaker knows is important.

First off, Wham! gets a very short shrift. Michael goes solo within ten minutes of the film (and that even includes credits and his early life) and Andrew Ridgeley is not even interviewed. Also George’s most infamous moment is not discussed. The only time the bathroom incident is even referred to was showing the Outside music video and an Extras cameo when George says, he is doing community service, but ”not for that incident.”

Even then, this still an intimate look at a guy who once refused to appear in his own music videos or really do much promotion of his music starting in the nineties. There is plenty of time devoted to his secret boyfriend who died of AIDS and was the inspiration of much of Older. There are also plenty of interviews from his influences (Stevie Wonder was shocked to learn he was white), contemporaries (Elton John, in true Elton John fashion is pissed he was not playing the piano on Freedom ’90), people he influences (unfortunately Liam Gallagher did not come with subtitles), and all the supermodels in the Freedom ’90 music video (one of which admits to throwing eggs at him when Wham! opened for Culture Club in their pre-fame days).

George Michael: Freedom may not be the bit of filmmaking ever which can be expected when it is being helmed by the singer and not an actual filmmaker. But he wisely picked plenty of good storytellers who sell his life and times well. My favorite parts are when they just drop the pin on the record and have the talking heads listen and comment on certain songs. This is a devise that should be used by all future music documentaries.

George Michael: Freedom premieres Saturday at 9:00 on Showtime.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Previewing Freakish: Season Two

I wrote off the first season of Freakish as a simple and cheap The Walking Dead rip-off for teenagers. It even had one of the members of The Walking Dead as the gym teacher until he was turned into a zombie like creature (granted more 28 Days Later than Walking Dead) because apparently there is a strict no one old enough to buy alcohol limit on the show. But the thing is, while watching the first couple episodes of season two; I started to realize I may actually be enjoying the show.

Where the first season felt very insular, the show never left the school grounds or introduced anyone who was not part of the initial detention group besides one person, the second season really opens up as it slowly starts going outside the walls of the school while the mystery and twist come fast. And they are much more interesting than the obligatory cliffhangers at the end of each episode in season one.

We even get to meet many different groups of people, some friendly, some not, and some yet to be determined and these additions are much better actors than the novices cast in season one. Well, they are mostly better actors and Jake Busy. Has that guy even worked since Shasta McNasty? (A scroll of his IMDB, oh my, he actually has been steadily working with 100 credits to his name. Sure less than ten I even recognize and most of those are one and done episodes on television shows, although I may have to check out Nazi at the Center of the Earth staring another what have they been up to since the nineties star, Dominique Swain who apparently has also steadily been working though the last thing on her IDMB I actually recognized was Alpha Dog in 2006. But again Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre may be worth checking out.)

The new season starts off letting us know where exactly LaShawn went after looking for help when their water supply got shot off and runs into the military that may not be that interesting in finding and helping survivors. Later in the season, a search supplies leads to a group holed up, some of whom are more than what they seem while another has a past with one of the original survivor. Then there is a mysterious third group. Oh yeah, and there is a new person who can walk outside without turning into a freak and has some weird thing on the back of his neck. In season two, Freakish finally has found its groove and if it can actually give competent answers to what is going on, it could turn into something worth talking about.

All episodes of Freakish season two are streaming on Hulu now.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Previewing Good Behavior: Season Two

One quote about television that has really stuck with me was an interview with the creators of Homeland when asked about why they packed five to ten season finale type reveals into the first season and they said (and I am probably poorly paraphrasing) audiences are too smart these days, you can no longer shock them with what happens, you can only shock them with when you do them. And that is true with most shows these days which you can tell exactly what is going to happen in the season finale from what happens in the season premiere.

One of the rare exceptions was the first season of Good Behavior. I remember really liking the first episode but did not care for what I thought was going to be the set up for the rest of the season. Except they wrapped that up storyline in two episodes and kept playing with my expectations and surprising me with where the plot was going all the way to the finale which saw Letty sell out Javier to get her child back and then double-cross the FBI and leave town with her son and Javier.

As exhilarating the first season was, I have to admit that I was not as entertained with the first couple episodes of season two. Of course suburban bliss is never that entertaining even if both Javier and Letty quickly go back to old habits with varying results. Really the only thing that kept me away in those first two episodes was the presence of a nosy neighbor and the occasional appearance of Letty’s step-father who stole every season. Then Letty shows up for Christmas in the third episode and things get interesting.

Obviously I cannot say what happens but it may be the biggest twist to date. Granted the twist in episode four kind of dampens my enthusiasm. But still, much like the first season which may not have been perfect, I am still very intrigued to see when the rest of the season goes.

Good Behavior airs Sundays at 10:00 on TNT.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Previewing White Famous

Saturday Night Live really needed Jay Pharoah. The late night show which relayed more and more heavily on political sketches as the show aged, had one lone black man at the time, and let’s say Kennan Thompson had a hamburger or a hundred too many to play Barack Obama, instead for three years Venezuelan/German/Korean actor Fred Armisen. And really, the best presidential sketch of his tenure was The Rock Obama when the Polynesian/Black wrestler took turns pretending to be the Commander in Chief. Pharaoh’s Obama actually looked and sounded like the president even though it took two years being in the cast to take over the role.

But the thing is, other than that, it is hard to think of another Pharoah sketch. Um, there were those horrible middle school dances where he played the principle. So when Barack got the boot, so did Jay. Though there are not many of them, black SNL cast members go into categories, the eventual superstars (Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock) and the ones who stay so long because they know there is nowhere else out there for them but bit roles (both Tim Meadows and Keanan Thompson have been in alumni monologue thanking them to come back for their triumphant hosting return only for the black guy sheepishly saying they are still in the cast).

For his first post-SNL gig, Pharoah teamed with another underutilized member of a sketch comedy show who himself who went into superstardom: Jamie Foxx who started on Fox’s In Living Color and was last seen on Fox’s Beat Shazam. The reason the game show was able to land an Oscar winner was because Foxx produced the show. Foxx is also the producer of White Famous based loosely on his life and makes a cameo in the premiere lampooning getting his start wearing dresses which his stand in Pharoah wants no part of.

The first episode is funny. Showtime has already released it so you can check it out at your lesure if you do not want to wait until it official airs this Sunday. Pharoah’s agent Utkarsh Ambudkar (Pitch Perfect) steals the show as an Indian Ari Gold doing whatever he can do to make Pharoah white famous even though the stand-up is content telling jokes on stage. Plus he want to stay close to his baby, and maybe even more so with his estranged baby mama Cleopatra Coleman (Step Up Revolution).

But as funny as that first episode is, I am a bit more dubious of the second episode when Michael Rapaport, who even managed to ruin my enjoyment of Justified, shows up as a director interested in casting. Future enjoyment of the show may hinge on just how long Rapaport sticks around. But at least Raylan Givins baby mama shows up in episode three as his agent's rival / former boss.

White Famous premieres Sunday at 10:00 on Showtime and moves to 10:30 November 5.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Previewing Mysteries of the Missing

There was a time when my biggest complaint about the cable news stations was they would get obsessed over insignificant stories like random dead white chicks and missing plains from halfway across the world with no Americans on board. Just wall to wall coverage despite no new news to report for days. Much simpler times. When Natalie Holloway’s dad popped up recently I thought, what a reprieve to what modern news has devolved into.

For those that miss these types of stories, Science Channel has a new show that will delve into stories that puzzled us all and still do with Mysteries of the Missing. Tonight’s premiere starts off with CNN’s favorite missing plain, Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. In a time of security cameras, satellites, and cameras in almost every phone, it is increasingly shocking how a plain leaving from Kuala Lumpur, traveling to Beijing could just disappear. The show goes over the various theories (a couple I never heard of before) as well as talking to aviation specialist as well as a hacker that has been banned from a couple airlines.

The series features other prominent vanishing acts including the three Alcatraz escapees who managed to flee the island fortress in 1962; the Lost Roanoke Colony in North Carolina; the unexplained cause of a 1908 explosion in an extremely remote part of Siberia that is said to have been the equivalent of a thousand atom bombs; and the notorious Bermuda triangle, among others. The series is narrated by Lost’s Terry O’Quinn.

Mysteries of the Missing airs Saturdays at 10:00 on Science Channel.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Previewing The Last Ship: Season Four

So The Last Ship found a cure for the outbreak in the first season, spread it across America in season two, and then shipped it across the globe in season three. So what is left for season four especially after Captain Chandler walked away from the ship in the season finally to raise his kids after his father died? Well apparently the virus, called Red Rust on account that is the color food is turning, that threatened humanity is now destroying the food supply. But fear not, there is a virus resistant strain, except it is being horded somewhere is Iran. Maybe. So on to Mesopotamia the Nathan James goes this season.

Civilian Chandler is still on the show, he and his brood has found their way to Greece (maybe no so coincidentally the Nathan James will be travelling the Mediterranean early in the season) and has found a hot Greek family to shack up with. Except with the food shortage, pirate have to taking food from local fishermen, including those Tom is cohabitating. And Tom thought his days of hero-ing were over.

It has been sixteen months since the events of last season and even early in the first couple episodes, the show visits, Nebraska, Morocco, Greece and Spain, with more foreign countries to come. And like past seasons, there are plenty of explosions and tense action that should keep you entertained for the rest of the summer.

The Last Ship airs Sundays on TNT.

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


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.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Previewing The Guest Book

Greg Garcia’s My Name Is Earl was the single funniest Pilot I have ever seen. I came away from watching first episode of Greg Garcia’s The Guest Book thinking, well that certainly was not the funniest thing I have ever seen. Actually I am not sure it was funny at all. But the thing is, The Guest Book is sort of an anthology with different people staying at a cottage. Sure the townspeople stay the same, but if you do not like one episode, the main characters will be gone by the next episode. Of course if you hate the townspeople, you are out of luck. The end of each episode even teases the next tenant involving a musical montage performed by a duo house band at the local strip bar. So when Rizzo talks about doing something to the chick from 24 that could land herself in jail, I figured, fine, I will give it another try.

The second episode opened with maybe the most creative “previous on” package that I can remember (except for Braindead’s musical recaps) which anyone who watches too much television and wants someone to talk about it with can relate to. Then what Rizzo ended up doing to the chick from 24 is something you will never guess. Then the episode end with, oh, hello Kellie Martin, where have you been? Becca Thatcher was a seminal figure of my youth, she then did ER. But where has she been since? (According to IMDB, she has basically been in made for television movie hell for almost two decades). Since she is the town’s cop, she is one of the few people who sticks around for the season. She sets a speed trap for the next group to stay at the cabin including the dude from Dexter, the chick from Casual, and the guy from You’re the Worst.

As you can guess so far, the weekly guests are a who’s who of actors you probably know but have no clue what their real names are: Abed from Community! Pam from The Office!! Mags Bennett from Justified!!! But it was not until the chick from My Name Is Earl shows up as a former porn star who is going on vacation for the first time with her new boyfriend and his kid that I realized I was really enjoying the show. That episode kicks off a string of great and weird episodes including an Alzheimer’s patient who new treatment goes to well and a guy who throws a surprise first date.

And maybe that is what I did not like about the first episode is that it was not as weird as the later episode in that it features the very worn out plot of guy and his overbearing wife. The final episode of the episode does not actually feature any new guests but the townspeople become front and center because of something big and shocking in the penultimate episode. But the ending left me hoping the Guest Book gets to get opened again for a second season. Hopefully Jason Lee can grow a bushy mustache by then for a cameo.

The Guest Book airs Thursdays at 10:00 on TBS.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Previewing People of Earth: Season Two

TBS used to be the place where multicam sitcom still happened. Then two and a half years ago it premiered Angie Tribeca, a weird show with a weird rollout (running a twenty-five hour ad free marathon). Since then it has debuted a string of offbeat comedies, each worth checking out (which continues next month with the premiere of The Guest Book). Of course as a fan of Power Rankings, something has to come last and in my TBS Power Rankings, I would have to put People of Earth last (Angie Tribeca, The Detour, The Guest Book, Wrecked, Search Party, People of Earth).

Still, People of Earth was a weird alien abduction story where the aliens may be more absurd than the humans they mess with. I forgot just how involving the show was until I watched the very lengthy “previously on” at the start of the season two premiere which went a full two minutes. So basically our group of alien abductees support group leaned of proof of aliens and Ozzie had a memory that everyone in the support group had been abducted as children. And the lone non-abductee in the group, Gerry finally got beamed up.

If the aliens in the first season were not weird enough, they get reinforcements in the new season in the form of a cube. Erik the Cube to be exact. He is a floating cube. And he is the new leader. Also joining the cast is Nasim Pedrad (Saturday Night Live) as an eager FBI agent who had an embarrassing moment that has kept her from being assigned her first case. But is now tasked to find Jonathan Walsh who has gone missing after his robot exploded which ripped off part of his human mask, revealing his reptilian face. People of Earth may not be the best show on TBS, but it is weird fun and it is only getting weirder in season two.

People of Earth airs Mondays at 10:30 on TBS. You can download People of Earth on iTunes.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Previewing Will

I have two lasting memories of William Shakespeare from high school. As a freshman, we watched an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet when we see Romeo in his glory when he exits the bed without any clothing. That would be scandalous by itself, but our English teacher, rewound the scene paused on Romeo’s bare bottom and singled out one of my female classmates and said this was for her. My other Shakespearean memory was when a substitute teacher was forced to show a documentary on the Baird where a literature historian called Shakespeare a “flaming homosexual.” I miss the nineties. There would be a couple fired teachers if that happened today.

The take on Shakespeare in TNT’s Will is definitely not a flaming homosexual (well someone says, “I have a queer feeling about you Shakespeare” so maybe just not yet), instead we get a father of three who, much like Captain Hook on Once Upon a Time, looks more like an like an Abercrombie model instead of the chubby balding guy we have seen in paintings. This actually a story of the struggling William as he tries to break into the playwright scene in London in 1589 while the wife and kids stay back in Stratford.

At times, the show reminds me of the definitive telling of Romeo and Juliet of my lifetime staring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes as the shoe occasionally places modern music into the show (and my modern I mean seventies punk). Except Will is on a television budget which means only one song per episode for the first three episode. They must have had some extra money lying around for the fourth as they have enough in the budget for three popular songs (including, welcome to the nineties!, a Beastie Boys song).

Watching the first couple episode I kept wondering, who exactly is this show for? Are there really that many Shakespeare heads out there wondering what the writer’s life may have been like? The kind of people who would be interested what inspired him to think of the line, “What light through yonder window breaks?” If you are one be sure to tune into episode two.

What I found most interesting in the early season was a C or maybe D plot involving the lead actor at the troop Shakespeare tries to join and the handmaiden of one of the local aristocrats. I think they may are supposed to be this show’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern comic relief. That is the show I want to see. But other than that, the most notable part of Will is it pushes the level of nudity way further than any basic cable show before it. The show at time pushes the boundaries so far that I wonder if there is going to be massive edit from the version I saw and the ones that air much like on Vikings where they cut the nudity from the American version but put them in the DVD’s and foreign broadcast. But at least Vikings was interesting even without the nudity.

Will airs Mondays at 10:00 on TNT. You can download Will on iTunes.