Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fall 2015 Music Preview

It is a sad, sad day here on the 9th Green. For years I have been ending my seasonal music preview list by saying, "this may be the quarter that Dr. Dre actually drops Detox." No Dre did not actually let us hear Detox but announced the album was actually dead and released a completely different album Compton. Hurmph. I started out mocking Chinese Democracy and then moved to Detox when Alx rose finally stopped tinkering on his album. For years I planned if Detox actually got released I would move on to D’Angelo's long simmering album, but he had to go and surprise and release his album last Christmas. So I am left with nothing to mock at the end of this column because nothing really sticks out as being long delayed, at least not with a title (wow, has it really been seven years since Chinese Democracy). But then again just because Dr. Dre says Detox is dead does not mean we will never get to hear those songs. Just last year Bob Dylan did release The Basement Tapes almost fifty years later so maybe Detox does get released eventually, it may just take another thirty-five years.

All year I have talked about how bleak the releases are and assumed everyone was holding the biggest releases until fall. Well it is fall, and wow, the albums with release dates are still kind of unimpressive. The only two album that I am actually anticipating to come out before Christmas drop this week. First up is Ryan Adams track for track remake of Taylor Swift's 1989 in the style of The Smiths which I am more excited for than I was Taylor's originals which came out yesterday and it is awesome. Also out this week but on the new traditional Friday is the sophomore album by Chvrches which of the three prereleased tracks sounds as good as their debut.

This is not to say there will not be any big albums out this fall. Kanye West, Adele, and Rihanna have been teasing fans all year while Coldplay and Ariana Grande have names to for their next albums but now release dates yet. I have been theorizing it for the last two years but I think it is official that the Beyonce approach of just airdropping your album instead of a three month launch is now the new normal which is probably better for the consumer because I contend few things live up to the hype so just give it to us as soon as you can, but unfortunately it will make my music previews as about as boring as below. To pre-order the album, click its name to be taken to Amazon; click on the artist's name to go to iTunes.

September 25
1989 - Ryan Adams
Every Open Eye - Chvrches
Dodge and Burn - The Dead Weather
Music Complete - New Order
Cass County - Don Henley
Servant of Love - Patty Griffin
Once Again It's Christmas - Kenny Rogers
Better Nature - Silversun Pickups
b'lieve i'm goin down... - Kurt Vile
Phantasmagoric - Grace and Tony

October 2
Show Me Your Fangs - Matt Nathanson
Unbreakable - Janet Jackson
See What You Started By Continuing - Collective Soul
All Across This Land - Blitzen Trapper
Zipper Down - Eagles of Death Metal
This Is War - Emily Kinney

October 9
Revival - Selena Gomez
Florasongs EP - The Decemberists
If I Should Go Before You - City and Colour
Live In No Particular Order: 2009 - 2014 - Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros

October 16
Fading Frontier - Deerhunter
Get Up - Get Up - Bryan Adams
Today Is Christmas - LeAnn Rimes

October 23
Storyteller - Carrie Underwood
Another Country - Rod Stewart
Liberman - Vanessa Carlton
That Would Be Me - Harry Connick, Jr.

October 30
Wiped Out! - The Neighbourhood
It's A Holiday Soul Party - Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings
So Familiar - Steve Martin and Edie Brickell
Def Leppard - Def Leppard

November 7
7 - Seal

November 13
Heart Blanche - CeeLo Green
First Comes The Night - Chris Isaak

The Last Zulu - Q-Tip
Swish - Kanye West
Moonlight - Ariana Grande
A Head Full of Dreams - Coldplay
Return of the Tender Love - Babyface
Better - Brian McKnight
The Band Perry
Hailee Steinfeld
Kings of Leon
Meat Loaf

And of course maybe this is the quarter when Dr. Dre finally releases Detox.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Previewing Blindspot

NBC like to takes other people's ideas and then beat them into the ground. Last decade after the success of Lost NBC started airing similar sci-fi shows like Surface and The Event (The Event was another Earth!!!!!!!!! which they did not bother to reveal until the end of the season which was probably why it was also the end of the series too). This decade the network has been trying to chase political thrillers in the mold of Homeland with shows like Crisis and American Odyssey. They actually found success when they took that Homeland format and made it into a procedural with The Blacklist. Since The Blacklist has been its lone scripted success in recent years it is no surprise NBC is trying the political thriller in a procedural again this season with the premiere of Blindspot which also features an FBI agent assigned to babysit an unconventional asset.

Of course the concept of Blindspot predates even The Blacklist because when that unconventional asset the FBI is working with is covered with tattoos it is hard to to think of Memento, the pre-Batman Christopher Nolan movie about a person who tattoos clues to his wife's murder because he cannot remember what happened as the same event left him without any short term memory. When I first saw the Blindspot trailer I thought brilliant, why hasn't anyone made a televised version of Memento before, it is a perfect format for the small screen using each episode to figure out what another tattoo means.

Really, the only way to make it more perfect is to flip the lead character's gender and cast Jaimie Alexander (Marvel's Lady Sif) as the tattooed amnesiac. But unlike Memento Jaimie's Jane Doe has no memory at all to who she is, she does retain basic human skills so she still knows how to walk, eat, and speak English or whatever language her former self knows (her knowledge of Chinese comes in handy in a scene that invokes another NBC show Chuck; and just like that titular character of that show, Jane Doe is surprised to learn she also knows kung-fu).

On Blindspot, the FBI brought in to babysit Jane Joe is Sullivan Stapleton (300: Rise of an Empire) who is stuck with her basically because his name is one of the tattoos that appears on her body. It is actually, as far as I can tell, the largest on on the canvas. Rounding out the team assigned to Jane Doe include Marianne Jean-Baptiiste (Robocop) as an assistant director of the FBI and Ashley Johnson (yes, that is Chrissy Seaver all grown up) as the head of the forensic science division tasked to figure out what all the tattoos mean. There are a couple more of team members but none of them made much of an impression in the first episode.

There in lies the biggest problem with the Blindspot premiere, I came away not particularly caring about anyone on the show. That kind of includes Jaimie Alexander who spends most of the episode playing a scared little girl. Obviously what she goes through is traumatic, but we do learn that Jane Doe used to be a Navy Seal so it would not be out of the question that she could quickly adapt to her new situations without moping around. It also does not help that multiple times in the first episode the FBI tells Jane Doe to stay out of harms way only for her to demand to go with them, which of course she ends up winning the argument.

Going even deeper into the cast, you can also see clear parallels to The Blacklist, the white bread FBI agent who has to do everything by the book, the stoic FBI chief, the kind of interesting but not utilized enough teckie. But the one thing Blindspot is severely missing is a Reddington type character to spice things up. Sure James Spader can sometime chew too much of the scenery but he makes sure his show is never boring. Sure Alexander can be that for her show but she needs to do much less moping and more beating dudes up. The best part of the premiere is when she realizes she can fight and just goes to town on a couple of bad guys.

Coming out of Upfronts, Blindspot was number one on my most anticipated list and though the premiere did not meet my hefty expectations, there was enough in the first episode to made me think that with some small tweaks (most importantly find some comic relief) that it can get there sometime before the Christmas break. There did do a good job setting up the overall mystery of just who is Jane Doe. There is a shadowy figure who pops up a couple times in the episode as well as a flashback the ends the episode that reveals a big chunk of the mystery so this will not be The Event when you have to wait until the end of the season for any clues to what The Event (two Earths!!!!!!!!!) is going to be. Of course I knew I was going to be watching every episode the moment the cast Lady Sif in a Memento ripoff.

Blindspot airs Mondays at 10:00 on NBC. You will be able to download Blindspot on iTunes.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Five Most (and Least) Anticipated Question for 2015-16 Television

Tomorrow is the official start of Fall television with all four networks premiering new seasons as well as three new shows including Blindspot which tops my most anticipated list. Of course with a new season comes new questions and these are the five I am most interested in:

1. What exactly is the saturation point for comic book shows? Three years ago Arrow was the lone live action funny book on network television (and that is only if you consider The CW a network). Marvel got into the game two years with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Things exploded last year, both of those shows got a spin-off with The Flash and Agent Carter respectively along with Gotham, iZombie, and the only one that did not make it to a second season Constantine (but as a consolation prize the titular character is showing up on Arrow this season). That does not even include the five Marvel Shows that are planned to air on Netflix (Daredevil being the only one that has been released; Jessica Jones is getting released later this year). The networks have adding a couple more this season with yet another Arrow spinoff Legends of Tomorrow and not officially a spin-off but share the same showrunner so a crossover is possible Supergirl. Then on Fox they are adapting Lucifer coming mid-season.

On cable The Walking Dead has remained the lone comic adaptation despite being the biggest show on all television (okay technically that is a graphic novel if you want to split hairs). But that is about to change too and that is not even count The Walking Dead spin-off that is not based on a print version. AMC is developing a show based on the DC property Preacher (ironically starring two Marvel vets Dominic Cooper, the younger Howard Stark and Raina from SHIELD) while TNT is getting into the game with a live action Teen Titans. While over at Syfy they have two funny books in development including a Superman prequil set on Krypton (which will likely have nothing to do with the CBS show just to make things confusing). And in addition to the Netflix series, Playstation's first scripted show Powers was already renewed for a second season. So that is ten comic book adaptations this season on television, six on streaming sites with three coming soon to cable. Even if you only watch comic books adaptations, that is a lot of television to watch.

2. What happened to Gemma Simmons? Speaking of comic books, the biggest cliff hanger to come from one last season was what became of our favorite biochem scientist? A lot happened in the season finale of Agents of SHIELD, Coulson had his hand cut off, the Inhumans mist thing got turned into fish oil pills, Ward was recruiting his own supervillian team, The Avengers came in and saved the day (okay the last one did not, and will never happen), but I want to know is what happened to Gemma after getting sucked into Kree obelisk? I doubt she is gone from the show and snce the obelisk is supposed to destroy Inhumans I am guessing she come out with a new superpower and possibly a new desire to kill Skye Daisy. Of course being a Joss Whedon show, thoughts of Fred who had her body taken over by a God has also crossed my mind. Whatever it is, I am sure the scientist we knew and loved will be much different this season.

3. Will any new show be as good as Mr. Robot? The surprise hit of the summer was easily Mr. Robot who just owned the conversation on the internet. I certainly did not see it coming as I initally had no interest in another attempt at television for Christian Slater until I learned Dalia Royce was also part of the cast. Can anything premiering this fall garner as much attention? My guess is no. Blindspot will probably be the best new show by how long can a procedural that rips off Memento stay in the conversation. Maybe the best at reaching Mr. Robot type hype on network television could be Quantico which looks like it could at its best be Homeland season four. Granted worst case scenario the show devolves into Homeland season three.

4. How will Continuum end? Continuum was has been one of the quietly good shows on television for the past three years and the best time traveling show since Quantum Leap. Of course it got canceled but not before airing six final fourth season episodes (two of which already aired). Evil minions from a dark future timeline showed up in the season premiere and reeked havoc on Keira. Will she finally be able to back to her time? Is there a time for her to go back to now? It will be a fun ride to see if she does.

5. Will Ash vs. The Evil Dead be any good?: We have been inundated with Heroes Reborn promos for the last couple month leading to most people who watch the original wondering, why? The show was widely reviled with most people saying it went off the rails in the second season (I contend the first season pretty much sucked too aside from the one episode Bryan Fuller scripted). On the flip side there has been little press for a reboot that people have been hankering for decades. I remember seeing Army of Darkness in high school thinking it was the greatest thing ever (I eventually went back to watch the two horror Evil Dead movies but much preferred the campiness of the third movie). Pretty much ever since there have been talks of a fourth movie in the Evil Dead saga. The closest came about a decade ago when there was talks of an Ash vs. Freddy vs. Jason movie after the first two horror legends faced off (there have been a couple of comics and video games). There was also hope when the reboot of Evil Dead (which featured Bruce Campbell in a post credits teaser) was released two years ago with a sequel that would see the two franchises combining with both Campbell and Tessa Altman starring. Instead at Comic Con last year Sam Raimi announced there would be a television show to continue the original Evil Dead to air on Starz best known for... um, well, their aired Party Down foe two seasons a couple years ago. Will it be any good? Well it is written by the Raimi brothers (Sam is directing the first episode) and Bruce is staring. As of there there seems to be no ties to the reboot as there has been no announcement of Tessa Altman's involvement, instead Xena the Warrior Princess is in the cast. Since I do not have Starz I can hear what other people say about it and can temper my expectation whenever I get around to seeing it. But as of now I am hopeful. It certainly has to be better than the the Heroes reboot or the televised versions of Limitless or Minority Report which both look dreadful (though I am a bit hopeful the former is successful enough for someone to greenlight a televised Lucy show as that movie was significantly better than Limitless; Tyra Collett as Lucy).

As the great philosopher Butt-Head once pondered, “If it weren’t for things that sucked, how would we know if something was awesome,” so here are the five least anticipated questions of the new television season.

1. Who is going to win the worst reality show this season? No I am not talking about Dancing with the Has Beens and Never Weres or even the final season of American Karaoke but by far the worst reality show on television this season is the Republican Primaries. Four years ago we had the clown car of candidates where nut jobs like Herman Cain and Michelle Bachmann each got a week a top the polls before everyone realized just how crazy they were and just ended up nomination Mitt Romney, the human robot. Things were supposed to be different this time around after the Republican conducted an autopsy realizing they need to do a better job courting minorities and women after losing to Barack Obama again. Then Donald Trump got into the race by calling Mexican immigrants rapists and mad sexist statements about Megyn Kelly after she asked if he was sexist... and then went to the top of the Republican polls. He called war hero John McCain a loser for being captured... and rose higher. Most recently he insulted the lone woman in the race, Carly Fioarino's looks in a Rolling Stone interview... and still leads. NBC had and do the biggest troll in history by replacing him on The Celebrity Apprentice with an immigrant who fathered an anchor baby.

Or course this is not to say go ahead and pencil in a Democrat for 2016 because their nomination process is in as much chaos, it is just a lot less entertaining. Seriously, is there a more boring scandal than Hilary Clinton's e-mails? It makes Chris Christie's bridge problems look like a scene out of Wolf of Wall Street in comparison. Unfortunately the only other Democrat who decided to run (so far) is Bernie Sanders who just come across as your crazy Jewish uncle. He is just basically the socialist Ron Paul. How depressing we have to root for Joe Biden to get into the race as the best way to avoid a President Trump or Clinton Part Deux and as we learned from Bush, the sequel is always significantly worse than the original.

2. What happened to Becca in the Elevator at the End of Hindsight? After failing at her second chance in the nineties, actually making a bigger mess of it then she did the first time around, Becca rushed to the elevator that flashed her back to the last great decade, Numb starts playing again... and fade to black. Surprisingly VH1 renewed the lowly rated show thus making wonder where the show would go in the second season. Would it go back to present day? Go back even further? Flash forward to the 00's? Then out of nowhere, late last month VH1 sent out a press release saying "nevermind, Hindsight is canceled." What? If they wanted to cancel it outright after the first season, fine, whatever, but you cannot renew it and then renig later. Renewed shows have gotten shortened before and Southland got canned after getting renewed but that was instantly picked up by TNT, this is the first time I remember a renewed show getting canceled outright before (greenlighted shows get canned before making it to air occasionally, most recently the NBC Coach reboot). And to add insult to injury, days after canceling Hindsight, VH1 announced Black Ink Crew: Chicago, maybe the most befuddling decision by a network since The CW dumped Veronica Mars only to announce Farmer Takes a Wife shortly after.

3. Who is dumb enough to hire Carrie Mathison? I know this is a television show and it would be a boring show if Carrie was forced to get a job at the local mall because she could not get a job in defense again but no one has failed upward more than Carrie, not even Lane Kiffin or Ben Silverman. But on the new season of Homeland, Carrie finds herself with a cushy private contractors job in Germany for some millionaire.

4. Will Community be back for season seven? It was only five short years ago since DirecTV started the modern trend of saving lowly rated but beloved franchises. The trend continues this fall after Hulu saved The Mindy Project. But the big news last year was Yahoo Screen was going to get into the scripted forum by saving Community even though it lost yet another castmember when Shirley went to hang out with Matthew Perry (not to mention the Pierce replacement left to costar in the Breaking Bad prequil). New episodes debuted last spring, I watched the first couple the weekend they came out but eventually forgot about it and still have two or three to watch. Yahoo Screen had said they have interest in doing another season (their two other two original comedies have yet to set the internet aflame even though the one with the AT&T girl, Other Space, is kind of, almost watchable) except star Joel McHale has pretty much said they do not have enough money to pay the cast what they expect now that their contracts expire. I am fine with this because I really could not get up watching the show on the interest, seriously Yahoo Screen, if you want to be taken seriously, at least make a Playstation app so I can watch this on my television. Really, just make a crappy Community movie and be done with it.

Did Deacon survive his surgery? The big Nashville cliffhanger left with Deacon's life hanging in the balance in the balance. Did he survive? Of course he did.

Here is everything I plan to watch this fall and when they premiere (and one bonus question: why is there so much television on Mondays and Wednesdays and basically nothing on Thursday?):

8:00 - The Big Bang Theory (September 21)
8:00 - Supergirl (premieres at 8:30 on October 26, 8:00 the following week)
8:00 - Gotham (September 21, Fox)
8:00 - Switched at Birth (already started, ABC Family)
8:00 - The Voice (September 21, NBC)
10:00 - Blindspot (September 21, NBC)
10:00 - Castle (September 21, ABC)
10:00 - Legends (November 2, TNT)

8:00 - The Muppets (September 22, ABC)
9:00 - Marvel's Agents of SHIELD (September 29, ABC)
10:00 - Wicked City (October 27, ABC)

8:00 - Survivor: Second Chances (September 23, CBS)
8:00 - The Middle (September 23, ABC)
8:30 - The Goldbergs (September 23, ABC)
9:00 - Modern Family (September 23, ABC)
9:30 - Blask'ish (September 23, ABC)
10:00 - Nashville (September 23, ABC)
10:00 - South Park (September 16, Comedy Central)
10:30 - You're the Worst (September 9, FXX)

9:00 - The Blacklist (October 1, NBC)

8:00 - Last Man Standing (September 25, ABC)
9:00 - Grimm (October 30, NBC)
11:00 - Continuum (Already Bac, Syfy)

8:00 - Once Upon a Time (September 27, ABC)
8:00 - The Librarians (November 1, TNT)
9:00 - Homeland (October 4, Showtime)
9:00 - The Walking Dead (October 11, AMC)
10:00 - Quantico (September 27, ABC)
10:00 - The Affair (October 4, Showtime)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 9/19/15

Masters of Sex: Last week I pondered if Lizzie way actually leave Bill first and possibly turn into Betty Draper, and this week she gets engaged sort of (I am slightly vague on the timeline but I think Betty also got engaged before actually divorcing Don). Although Libby, do you really want to be the rebound for someone whose wife just died? Then there was the bigger plot twist of annoying Christian dude getting into Beth Greene's car. So is she just a spy that got too caught up in the surrogate program or is she really rebelling against the church as well as her parents?

Ray Donovan: So the whole Armenian gangster plot line was resolved by an Armenian pop star? Alrighty. I wonder if Bunchy did not get involved if Ray would have just let Micky get killed. Even worse is Abby not calling the cops on creepy math teacher. I never understand why television parents keep letting their children hook up with their teachers (even though the teacher's story in this case is mostly the truth). But at least former FBI guy was around this week to make things interesting. Oh, and Avi, that may be the dumbest blackmail ploy ever, but at least it is entertaining.

The Strain: So the show starts airing a title sequence randomly in the middle of the second season only to pull it the next week. Huh? But anyway. I never though Eph would actually kill the old dude but was deeply disappointed that he did get the hot French assistant. Shockingly the Master placated the old dude's temper tantrum and revived her. But judging from her reaction, she may not thank old dude for it. I do hope she ends up joining the good guys who may need a new hot blond in their ranks now that Dutch is is the Nazi Vampire's weird sex dungeon.
You can download The Strain on iTunes.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Around the Tubes: 9/18/15

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 Blindspot, The Muppets, Unity - The Latin Tribute to Michael Jackson, Baskets, EastSiders, Epix, Years of Living Dangerously, The Weapon Hunter, Dove Channel, Turner Classic Movies, Nature Cat, and Dating Naked.

- Jaimie Alexander and Sullivan Stapleton star in NBC's new action thriller Blindspot, premiering Monday, September 21 at 10:00 after The Voice.

- Television’s biggest night is a few days away and just in time for the 67th Emmy Awards, the Television Academy has released this funny celebrity-studded video featuring TV’s favorite ex-couple – Kermit and Miss Piggy – and Julie Bowen, Viola Davis, and Joel McHale! Watch as Kermit the Frog and the confident Miss Piggy meet up for the first time since their very-public breakup to discuss how they are going work together on their new show. The rendezvous quickly goes awry when insults start flying and the meeting turns into the ultimate Hollywood power lunch. Featuring cameos by some of this year’s most popular female Emmy nominees including Julie Bowen (“Modern Family”), Viola Davis (“How to Get Away With Murder”), and a hilarious appearance by Emmy-nominated Joel McHale (“The Soup”). The Muppets premieres on ABC Sept. 22.

- Iconic songs will be heard like never before – with inventive, energetic and distinctively Latin twists – when PBS premieres Unity – The Latin Tribute to Michael Jackson on Friday, October 9, 2015 at 9:00 (check local listings). Hosted by the legendary percussionist Sheila E., the concert special features 10 of Jackson’s greatest hits interpreted by award-winning Latin artists with a 37-piece orchestra, and kicks off the fifth annual PBS Arts Fall Festival.

- Baskets, FX’s new comedy created by Zach Galifianakis and Louis C.K., premieres in 2016.

- EastSiders, the critically-acclaimed dark comedy starring series creator Kit Williamson (Mad Men) and three time Emmy Nominee Van Hansis(As the World Turns) as a gay couple trying to stay together in the aftermath of infidelity, returns today for its second season exclusively on Vimeo On Demand.

- Premium entertainment network EPIX announced that it will offer subscribers the ability to download hit movies directly to their mobile devices, allowing them to watch where they want, when they want - even without access to an internet connection. A leader in multiplatform entertainment, EPIX will be the first network to deliver offline viewing directly from its mobile apps, available across Kindle Fire and all Apple and Android mobile devices and tablets including iPads®, iPhones®, and Samsung and Nexus devices. The new offering will be available this month to all EPIX subscribers, launching with a marketing campaign in partnership with affiliated distributors.

- National Geographic Channel (NGC) (@NatGeoChannel) and The Years Project announced today the return of the Emmy® award-winning documentary series Years of Living Dangerously, a thought-provoking and ambitious cinematic television event that will delve even deeper into the highly debated issue of climate change. The new season of the critically acclaimed series will air exclusively on NGC in 2016 in 171 countries and 45 languages. Years of Living Dangerously will once again feature some of Hollywood’s biggest influencers who are passionate about environmental issues, and will reveal emotional and hard-hitting accounts of the effects of climate change from across the planet. Correspondents will include Jack Black, Ty Burrell, James Cameron, Thomas Friedman, Joshua Jackson, David Letterman, Aasif Mandvi, Olivia Munn, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ian Somerhalder and Cecily Strong — with more names to be announced soon — all giving first-person accounts from locations, shockingly close to home, where the effects of climate change are most prevalent. They will cover crucial issues like severe hurricanes, historic droughts and the rapidly increasing extinction rate of our planet’s wildlife. The result will be a gritty and raw look at not only how our species has impacted our planet, but also how we can save it for future generations.

- History buff and restoration expert Paul Shull goes on a quest to get his hands on some of the world’s rarest and most remarkable pieces of military history in the new Smithsonian Channel original series, The Weapon Hunter. The six episode series chronicles Shull’s adventures as he finds, fixes, and fires the antique weapons that have been used throughout history. The Weapon Hunter premieres Monday, October 5 at 8:00.

- Family viewing just got a whole lot safer with today’s debut of Dove Channel, the new direct-to-consumer over-the-top (OTT) digital streaming subscription service.

- This fall, PBS KIDS will premiere Nature Cat, a new animated series that encourages children to explore nature. Through Nature Cat, co-creators and brothers David Rudman (SESAME STREET, The Muppets) and Adam Rudman (Tom & Jerry, SESAME STREET, CYBERCHASE) have teamed up to inspire viewers to get outdoors and develop connections with the natural world. Designed for kids ages 3-8, the multiplatform media property premieres this fall on PBS KIDS, along with integrated digital content and hands-on activities. Inspired by research on the health and educational benefits of spending time outside, Nature Cat will encourage families to get active and go on their own outdoor adventures. The series will air daily following its premiere (check local listings).

- Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is expanding its footprint with the launch on Amazon Fire TV this fall, making it the first network in the Turner Broadcasting portfolio to be available via the streaming service. TCM is also ramping up its digital efforts with enhancements to the Watch TCM App, the launch of a new emoji keyboard app, and hosting a dedicated “download week” on Sept. 14-19 leading into the networks dedicated “Let’s Movie” holiday on Sept. 19.

- VH1 has picked up a third season of the much buzzed-about reality dating series Dating Naked. The show aims to explore the art of romance, free of preconceived notions, stereotypes – and clothes. Fans who are ready to bare it all to find true love can apply for season three here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Previewing Live Free or Die

It was not long into the first season of Live Free or Die before I said, "Nope." For the past decade and a half I have watched Survivor thinking I could do that. But on that show, I would be with a tribe that could help build a living quarter, catch fish, and gather firewood. Not to mention all the various rewards as well as a medical staff within walking distance if something goes horribly wrong. Naked and Afraid is another show I have said, "Nope" to as I doubt I would make it a day, but even they get to put clothes on after a month and get to go back to civilization. The people on Live Free or Die are living on their own (aside from one married couple) before the camera arrived and will continue to do so after they leave.

If any of the people from last season would give up and go back to society it would be Colbert whose homemade house burnt down last season. Nope, he is back this season building a new place to live in. And where many people might complain about their local swamp flooding, Colbert sees it as an opportunity to transport large logs to his build sight. Also returning is husband and wife Tony and Amelia, Thorn who has wisely built a shelter to live in instead of the tent he spent last season in.

New this season is Derik Stevens a blacksmith living high in the Colorado Rockies. At the start of the season, snow forced him to house his three mules fifteen miles away in a friends covered barn and now has the task to bring the three wild beasts back home. Showing up next week is another newcomer Tobias Corwin, a desert nomad living in the Arizona wilderness who also teaches primitive skills at an outdoor survival school.

Live Free or Die airs Tuesdays at 9:00 on the National Geographic Channel.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 9/12/15

Ray Donovan: Holy former head of the FBI West sighting! I certainly did not see that coming but I am glad he is back because he was the best part of the vastly improved second season. He was pretty uneventful this week but hopefully he runs into Ray next week.And though the wedding went off without a hitch despite the groom being arrested, I still fear for the safety of the bride. A couple of weeks ago when I was surprised Chekhov's gun did not kill anyone even though I though Terry would accidentally shoot her, I still think she may not make it to the en of the season with the Armenians and Aryans still out there, someone has to pay for the aggrieved parties so every week she is still around, I will be shocked.

The Last Ship: Well I did not see that ending coming. Granted I would be almost as shocked if the good doctor does not survive being shot despite being at close range and her shooter passing right by here and could have easily put a bullet in her brain to make sure he finished the job. But it may be best if she did die, they really do not need that character anymore now that the cure is being distributed and having her on the show would just be shoehorning her in.
You can download The Last Ship on iTunes.

Masters of Sex: The thing about basing television shows based on real people, you go in knowing spoilers, this biggest with this show is knowing that Bill and Virginia end up getting married. So you have to feel sorry for Libby knowing she is kind of a lame duck waiting to get divorced and either be written off the show or turn into Betty Draper with people wondering why she is still on the show every time she pops up. Though I know their marriage dissolved, I do not know the circumstances around it, and just always assumed Bill leaves her for Virginia. I am starting to think Libby may actually be the one who leaves Bill. Which ever way it is I feel bad for which ever parent is stuck with the eldest Masters chick, wow, was he harsh this week. But my favorite part of the episode was Sarah Silverman announcement she was pregnant. Can we please get a Three's Company type spin off with all of them?

The Strain: Am I the least observant person in the world or was this the first time the show had a title sequence? Odd choice to include one half way through the second season. And it kind of hurt the episode. With the Jew and the Nazi vampire looking for each other for one last battle, I figured that it would end in a stalemate yet again because why create a title sequence with both of them in it only to kill one off the first time you use it? Same goes for Vampire Mom, I figured she would get away too thanks to vampire super speed. Which begs the question, why doesn't the Master give super speed to all his spawn? That would seem helpful as apposed to the almost zombie type movements of the lesser vampires.
You can download The Strain on iTunes.

Public Morals: I though it was a weird and poor idea for the show to put up the first four episodes for the bingewatchers after the first episode but the show went full Aquarius putting all ten episode On Demand over the extended Labor Day weekend. I am not sure how successful either attempts at nontraditional releases, we will have to see if the show is renewed or if TNT tries something like this again (it is premiering a new show late this fall and the bingewatching model would seem more successful during the Christmas break as opposed to summer). I am glad they did this so I would not have to wait until November to see the two episodes that were not part of the screeners. I do have some thoughts on the series as a whole so if you did not take advantage of the binge watch you will not want to continue reading. Spoiler Alert Warning If Drew Holt's college girlfriend did not want to become pregnant maybe she should have had that hideous hairstyle earlier in the season because less people would have tried to have sex with her wit that on top of her head. But seriously, that was kind of a weird season finale. Why not end on Patton's car getting blown up instead of Michael Rappaport storming out of the prostitute with the changing accent's apartment? That makes for a much better cliffhanger. And if you are not going end on the exploding car, why have Ed Burns say he is going to go to his aunt's, where we know Neil McDonough is hiding, and not actually have him go there? It kind of felt like a rushed editing job all around.
Public Morals on iTunes.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

The Peter Bjorn and John Award for Catchiest Indie-Pop Song of the Summer of 2015

Summer unofficially ended yesterday (but it is not going away quietly as it hit ninety here yesterday and looks the highs look to stay above eighty for most of the week). The last couple years I have commemorated the end of summer by crowning the Peter Bjorn and John Award for Catchiest Indie Pop Song of the Summer. Unfortunately this year has not been that good for indie pop music. Of Monsters and Men, Florence + The Machine and Death Cab for Cutie's albums were mostly meh, Nate Ruess solo work just made me wish Fun would get back together, do not even get me started on the Mumford & Sons album, Beck got fun again with Dreams but that sounded like paint by numbers indie pop and not as fun or weird as his great nineties songs. Things are looking up for the fall as Chvrches is releasing a new album early in the season.

Really this summer was all about annoyingly catchy pop songs with Tori Kelly, Rachel Platten, ZZ Ward, and The Weeknd made me hate myself for liking their hit songs. Ironically the person most responsible for the annoyingly catchy pop song trend, Carly Rae Jepsen quietly put out a surprisingly good indie pop album but stupidly made the first single I Really, Really, Really, Really Like You which managed to be more annoying but less catchy than Call Me Maybe and entitling the album E•MO•TION did not help either.

But there were some decent indie pop songs out there, Brandon Flowers second solo album had some gems (again, it was hurt by a weak first single), My Morning Jacket's Big Decisions was my favorite song the band has ever done. X Ambassadors had a surprising second hit as I would have guessed Jamie N Commons would be the one to do so with last year's Jungle collaboration.

But for me, there is a clear winner for Catchiest Indie Pop Song of the Summer goes to newcomer Alessia Cara (sadly no relations to Irene) with her breakout song Here. When Lorde broke through with a nineties aesthetics I thought we were entering a culture change yet two years later self empowerment songs like Fight Song still dominate. Hopefully Here changes that, the song is so rooted in nineties music that it samples the Portishead by way of Isaac Hayes sample Glory Box. And the lyrics are just a perfect representation of basically every house party I went to in college, may favorite part being when Alessia calls out someone talking about haters who does not even have one. Awesome

Saturday, September 05, 2015

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 9/5/15

Hannibal: I was unfamiliar with most things Hannibal before watching the show so they actually did fool me of the Red Dragon shooting himself in the face. But as we come to the end of the season and quite possibly the season I am almost glad it is over because they really laid on the homoerotic codependency way too heavy this season. The which side is Will on last season was fascinating but it was just eyerolling this season with Will flinging himself over the cliff in a loving embrace. An FBI falling in love with the serial killer he is trying to catch sounds like the conceit of a bad Lifetime movie. Still if Bryan Fuller manages to revive the series, I would still watch because I am still very interested to see where this is going especially if Will rides off into the sunset (though it sounds like Fuller plans to use Will if the show continues in any form) as I believe he is completely absent from future books. And of course what was up with Sully's leg on a platter after the credits?
You can download Hannibal on iTunes.

Ray Donovan: I usually complain about the "x amount of time" title card that start episodes because I find it lazy writing, but it actually worked in this case because it teased a murder mystery. Sure it was clear right off the bat that the red herrings were just that, I never thought that the government lady was going to die or that Ray would kill yet another priest, but it was shocking that Al Swearengen killed his son-in-law / lover. The show even upped that tease with the eventual inclusion of Avi. I am not sure if I can believe that Ray would finally accept his apology like that, but Ray has seemed to be a bit more forgiving this season.

Fear the Walking Dead: Okay, this show is just trolling us. One of the biggest complaints of the flagship show is they cannot have two black dudes on the show at the same time, they have to kill one before bringing on a new one. So the new show actually looks a bit more diverse, except the three black dudes they introduced in the premiere are (un)dead by the end of the second episode. Okay the boyfriend is not (un)dead yet, but he was just left to turn and we will probably have to wait for the girlfriend to bash his head in next week. But the most disappointing part of the episode was that the fat pimply kid did not go with Matt Saresen's mom he is the only person that has been on either show that apparently knows what a zombie is.
You can download Fear the Walking Dead on iTunes.

Masters of Sex: Holy Beth Greene sighting! After being the best part of The Walking Dead in the last season or two, it is nice she can still get work, even if it as just a sex surrogate who has to sleep in the surrogacy room at night. But with Virginia hooking up with the fragrance king I hope she does not become a personal surrogate for Bill even though it is clear she has a crush on her former neighbor (it would also be the second time someone way too young for him hits on him this season. But as usual, the episode belonged to the staff of the office be it Betty failed attempt to get her girlfriend pregnant or Lester being the lone male in the surrogacy program just to irk Jane.

Falling Skies: On one hand, the new queen was the creepiest of all creepy aliens in the history of the show, but on the other. that was a pretty anti-climatic ending with Tom just touching the bomb thingy and the queen dissolving like a vampire on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And of course Anne was not going to actually die after telling Tom she was pregnant again. Of course I was wrong to turn my back on my do not believe anyone is dead on television until you see the body (and even then am still a little suspicious) as I thought Pope was really dead last week. He might as well have been because their final talk was just as anticlimactic. And they must have spent all their CGI money on dissolving aliens because that crowd at the end looked about as really as crowds in Playstation 1 sports games. Oh well.
You can download Falling Skies on iTunes.

The Strain: Hopefully now that the young Goodweather saw his mother try to kill his father he can stop moping around because that kid is seriously dragging the show down. But at least we got a great passive-aggressive conversation between the old dude and the Nazi vampire this week.
You can download The Strain on iTunes.

Tyrant: Sure the first sixty minutes were boring but what a final scene. After actually seeming contrite and humbled by all he horrible past deeds, Jamal gets on camera and goes full Trump and denies everything and does not give an inch. And then it managed to get even more shocking when his daughter in law shoots him. Wow. Sure I am guessing he will survive (he did survive driving off a cliff while getting his manhood bitten off) but the fight for power has only begun (well if there is another season).
You can download Tyrant on iTunes.

Mr. Robot: What a bizarre way to start and end the episode. It opens with the cheater from the first episode taking about bringing down Elliot for his crime (and how he was part of the extremely timely Ashley Madison hack) and is not seen again in the episode, but I guess he is one of numerous people knocking on the door. Except that was not the end as we get a scene of (presumably) The Illuminati with the Evil Corp head and B.D. Wong. It took me a while to put two and two together and figure out that was also B.D. Wong that met with Elliot earlier this season (I was wondering why that scene was included in the "Previously On" montage). So are these two in cahoots and the Evil Corp dude condoned the hack? Mmmm. We may have nine and a half months to find out.

But the part that struck me the most coming out of the finale (other that how perfect playing Got Your Money at an end of the world party after a financial collapse is) is how I am starting to believe that Elliot and the American Psycho dude may actually be the same person. In a episode of bizarre things, Elliot talking with American Psycho's wife may have been the most bizarre. She seemed to know more than what she was letting on, so maybe she knows her husband has a split personality and known not to bring one up to another. To the best of my recollection, they only had three scenes together, American Psycho offering Elliot a job, the time they ran into each other at Steel Mountain (what a coincidence they were there at the same time), and last week when he barged into Elliot's apartment (again, conveniently waiting until Dalia Royce left). Of the big flaw in my theory is that Elliot could not have a job at All Safe and Evil Corp at the same time without anyone noticing. But maybe American Psycho never worked there and that delusion was just Elliot there in an All Safe capacity. Mmmm, I may have to watch the first season again looking for clues. I am still guessing the better theory is that everyone is a delusion inside Elliot's head and the real Elliot is staring at a snowglobe in some mental health hospital somewhere.
You can download Mr. Robot on iTunes.

Under the Dome: So the new queen is same actress as her mother but in a bad wig and blue contacts. This show is so horrible. Thank goodness CBS finally canceled it.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Around the Tubes: 9/4/15

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 Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, Hulu, You're the Worst, Helevator, Don Rickles, Graves, Billy on the Street, TNT, TBS, and Black Ink Crew.

- Samantha Bee goes Full Frontal:

- Hulu and the premium entertainment network EPIX have closed a landmark, multi-year digital SVOD deal that will bring new releases from Lionsgate, MGM and Paramount to Hulu for the first time beginning October 1st. Recent hits from EPIX including Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, Interstellar, Selma, Top Five and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, which have never before been available on a streaming SVOD service, will become available on Hulu in the coming months. Also Hulu is now offering a commercial-free option to subscribers. Viewers now have the choice to watch Hulu commercial free for $11.99 per month or with limited commercials for $7.99 per month. Current Hulu subscribers will maintain their existing subscription, but will have the choice to switch to the commercial-free option at any time for an additional $4 per month. For viewers who choose to watch content with limited commercials, Hulu will continue to show fewer commercials than scheduled television.

- Do you know someone who recently got engaged, hired, dumped or fired? Let Aya Cash and Chris Geere, stars of FXX’s acclaimed comedy You’re the Worst, respond for you by sharing “Worst Greetings” video grams on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. The short videos featuring Cash and Geere in character as “Gretchen” and “Jimmy,” full of their trademark wry, sardonic humor, are now available at TheWorstGreetings.com in advance of the second season premiere of You’re the Worst on September 9th at 10:30 on FXX.

- GSN, the leader in game shows and competitive entertainment, announced today the premiere of horror-themed game show Helevator on Wednesday, October 21 at 8:00. The terrifying eight episode genre-bending series from Blumhouse, the team that brought the world the “Paranormal Activity,” “Insidious,” “Ouija” and “The Purge” franchises, dares contestants to survive a series of challenges from the depths of an abandoned slaughterhouse.

- Whether you know him from his many appearances on "The Tonight Show", his uproarious stand-up, his decades on TV from "The Dick Van Dyke Show" to the '70s-era Navy sitcom CPO SHARKEY or his turn as Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story trilogy, Don Rickles is Hollywood royalty. Harkening back to a time, pre-Internet, when celebrities hit it big because of talent, not Twitter, the inimitable Rickles has enjoyed a legendary showbiz career that has touched seven decades and still continues today. This October 20, Time Life invites home audiences to front row seats for comedy greatness with Mr. Warmth! Don Rickles: The Ultimate TV Collection, an 8-disc DVD set featuring nearly 20 hours of some of Rickles' finest on-screen moments.

- Premium TV network EPIX® announced today that Skylar Astin (Pitch Perfect, Pitch Perfect 2), Chris Lowell (The Help, “Veronica Mars”) and Angélica María (“Qué Bonito Amor,” Sea of Dreams) have been cast alongside Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon in the EPIX Original Series Graves, a single-camera half-hour political satire produced by Lionsgate.

- truTV announced this week additional guest appearances for Season 4 of Funny or Die’s Billy on the Street. Sarah Jessica Parker, Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis, will join previously announced guests Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Anna Kendrick and Julianne Moore appearing on Billy on the Street, this fall. Emmy®-nominated comedian Billy Eichner makes his truTV debut returning to the streets of New York City to surprise unsuspecting pedestrians with quick-witted, rapid-fire questions on pop-culture. Season 4 will premiere on Thursday, Oct. 8, at 10:30 on truTV.

TBS and TNT are bringing the stars and producers of five of their most anticipated upcoming shows to New York Comic Con in October. The lineup includes panel discussions with Rashida Jones, star of TBS's upcoming series Angie Tribeca; Sean Bean, who returns this fall in TNT's completely reimagined spy thriller Legends; Jason Jones and Samantha Bee, the creative force behind TBS's new comedy The Detour; and Rebecca Romijn with the cast of TNT's fantasy adventure The Librarians. In addition, Jeff Hephner will introduce a sneak peek at TNT's upcoming action-adventure Agent X.

- The Black Ink Crew franchise blows into the Windy City as VH1 adds Black Ink Crew: Chicago to its fall slate. Premiering Monday, October 26th at 9:00, watch as several talented tattoo artists look to find success at “9Mag” – a tattoo mecca for hip hop elites, celebrities and athletes. The series, produced by Big Fish Entertainment, follows a passionate and ambitious group of friends through the unforgiving streets of Chicago as they band together to create new identities for themselves, their families and their business. VH1’s “Black Ink Crew: Chicago” premieres Monday, October 26th at 9:00.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 8/29/15

Aquarius: Even for the season finale and the most interesting part of the show did not happen on screen. It is a bit odd that they would preempt the show for gymnastics the week before the finale. And instead of debating what will happen on screen next season (I particularly do not care if the gay daddy or his buddy died in the car or what is going to happen to Fox Mulder's son) the big question is how NBC will release it. Will they again stream all episodes on line, if so does the show get a mid week timeslot or start out in the Saturday deathslot? Will NBC quietly dump it or move it to another network? Wait, I do care about one thing that happened on scree: what the frack happened to the chick with the historically bad accent?
You can download Aquarius on iTunes.

Hannibal: I was going to start off by saying poor Dr. Chilton but the dude is extremely slimy. Kurt Sutter on Sons of Anarchy is the only character I can think of that has been tortured more than Chilton. Except Sutter did that to himself. What did this actor do to Bryan Fuller to piss him off. Someone removed his organs in the first season, got shot in the face last season, and now was set afire. I guess it is good for him that the show was cancel because I do not want to think what else Fuller had in store for Chilton in the four other seasons he had planned.
You can download Hannibal on iTunes.

Ray Donovan: I am beginning to wonder who made the worse business partnership: Ray with Al Swearengen and family or Mickey with the Armenians (we soon may have to add Bunchy with his luchadora bride). But c'mon Mickey, bringing a lead pipe to a meeting with the guys that just pistol whipped your son (key word: pistol) was not the brightest idea. Unfortunately the rest of the episode dealt with Ray and his priest problem which has always been the weakest part of the show. Hopefully now that he has been excommunicated, there will be no more religious figures on the show, but sadly I fear we probably have not seen the last of that priest.

The Last Ship: Holy Ben Linus daughter sighting! Was she really just hanging out on an oil rig this whole time all alone? And is this going to be the every episode from now on? The navy rescues someone who bought into Immunes propaganda and bring them on the ship to show them they are the good guys?
You can download The Last Ship on iTunes.

Fear the Walking Dead: Well that was kind of boring.
You can download Fear the Walking Dead on iTunes.

Masters of Sex: As soon as you hear the female ape wrangler was given the boot, you knew what was coming, but, boy did Virginia cross the proverbial line this week made worse by Bill egging her on. But the most interesting part of the episode was Tessa's interactions with the scent guy. Interesting that she just outted the affair between her mother and Bill and nothing came about it.

The Strain: After all the trouble getting to Washington, it seemed like Eph had no problems getting back to NYC even with a bullet in his shoulder. Alrighty. And I have spent a lot of time making fun of the Muppet looking Master, but at least that was a distinct look, rocker star Master looks like every other cheap vampire on screen. And that was a weak attempt to kill the Master, c'mon Fett, if you are going to bring down the building, bring down the building.
You can download The Strain on iTunes.

Falling Skies: So no one thought to check to see if hot alien daughter had black blood like the army lady? That would have been high on my list if I suggested Lexi was a plant. And is Pope really die (I have said it before I never believe someone is really dead until I see the body and even then I am still a little suspicious; but this was the penultimate episode)? That was kind of an anti-climatic way to die. It seemed like the writers had this big story line for him this season but by the time they got to the finale they realize they did not have the time for it and just decided to blow him up a week before. They might as well just killed him off during the fight at Lois Lanes.
You can download Falling Skies on iTunes.

Murder in the First: Well the second season was better than the first but that was an odd ending. First I barely remember the head man up until this point. And the hypothetical scene was just silly. Then they kill some random black dude, wasting screen time, just to make us think that it was Sugar who just ended up on a beach with the hot cop. But hey, it is summer, I have watched worse this season.
You can download Murder in the First on iTunes.

Tyrant: It has been clear that the firs two seasons that Jamal was the titular character, but he cannot possibly end the season still in power. But who will? Barry seems like the obvious choice along with Ahmed and the illegitimate son. But my money is on his scheming wife. And if he is outted where does that leave Jamal, is he exiled (his adviser plated that seed this week), rots in prison, or executed, or "executed" like he did his brother.
You can download Tyrant on iTunes.

Under the Dome: Julia pushing down on Barbie's baby mama's stomach to force labor was probably the funniest thing on television this season. You have to wonder if the writers are even trying at this point or are basically seniors with just a week or two left of school assuming there is no way the show is getting another season. I am pretty sure I have caught some of the actors rolling their eyes at their dialogue this season.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Around the Tubes: 8/28/15

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 Homeland, Explorer, Austin City Limits, Epix, From Dusk Till Dawn, Skin Wars, The Missing Evidence, MTV VMAs, VH1 Family Therapy with Dr. Jenn, and American Dad.

- In advance of the highly-anticipated fifth season premiere of Homeland on Sunday, October 4th at 9:00, Showtime has released the full-length trailer for its Emmy and Golden Globe®-winning hit drama series. To watch and share the trailer, go to: s.sho.com/1JmXdHv.

- After a five-year hiatus, National Geographic Channel (NGC), in conjunction with National Geographic magazine (NGM) and National Geographic Studios, relaunches the critically acclaimed documentary series Explorer (natgeotv.com/explorer, #NatGeoExplorer) as a monthly series this August. The series opener, Explorer: Warlords of Ivory, premieres Sunday, Aug. 30, at 8:00, taking an in-depth look at the devastating effects of the global illegal ivory trade. And to continue National Geographic’s cross-platform commitment to this important cause, Nat Geo WILD premieres the one-hour special Elephant Queen the same night at 9:00, further reinforcing why these majestic creatures are so worthy of our protection.

- The television music series Austin City Limits (ACL) follows four decades as a music institution with more unforgettable performances as it gets ready to write its next illustrious chapter. Providing viewers with a front-row seat to the best in live music, ACL unveils Season 41’s stellar line-up of legendary artists, trend-setting innovators and many highly-anticipated debuts. ACL airs weekly on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings for times) and full episodes are made available online for a limited time at video.pbs.org/program/austin-city-limits immediately following the initial broadcast. Select tapings are also live streamed to enable music fans everywhere to experience the performances as they happen, live and unedited. Viewers can visit acltv.com for news regarding future tapings, episode schedules and live stream updates. The show's official hashtag is #acltv. The program returns on October 3rd with the 2015 ACL Hall of Fame Special, a special hour showcasing unique collaborations and tributes from this year’s induction ceremony and celebration, held June 18, 2015. Artists Lyle Lovett, Dwight Yoakam, Vince Gill, Gillian Welch, Jason Isbell and more perform in honor of the newest class of inductees: Asleep at the Wheel, Guy Clark, Flaco Jiménez, Loretta Lynn and Townes Van Zandt.

- Find all the stars in one place this September as EPIX kicks off Fall with lots of laughs and even more drama! Get a healthy dose of honesty from Craig Ferguson in the world television premiere of his latest comedy special Craig Ferguson: Just Being Honest, coming to EPIX on Thursday, September 10th, 10:00. Experience the thrill of Christopher Nolan's Interstellar all over again on Sunday, September 13th, at 8:00. Be moved by the gripping Selma, starring Golden Globe®-nominee David Oyelowo, on Sunday, September 20th, 8:00. See Mark Wahlberg put it all on the line in Rupert Wyatt's The Gambler on Sunday, September 27th, 8:00!

- Last year, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series premiered as El Rey Network/Miramax's first scripted drama and drew critical acclaim for the reimagining of Rodriguez's cult classic film From Dusk Till Dawn. On August 25th at (9:00), the sophomore season of this fan-favorite, supernatural crime saga returns with 10 new episodes that expand the universe of the story from Mexico to the edgy, tricked-out Texas of Rodriguez, who also directs the first episode. And on August 26, Entertainment One will begin to release each episode for purchase on all leading digital platforms.

- The “battle of the brushes” continues as GSN, the leader in game shows and competitive entertainment, announced today it has ordered a 10-episode third season of the top-rated original hit series Skin Wars, hosted by Rebecca Romijn (X-Men, The Librarians). The announcement comes on the heels of a successful season two finale, which drew over 1.1 million viewers.

- Smithsonian Channel tackles conspiracy theories and enduring mysteries in a new probing six-part series, The Missing Evidence. Each week, the series includes new insights from authorities, investigators, scientists and journalists, and uncovers new leads surrounding some of the most famous tragedies, unsolved crimes, persistent mysteries, and other phenomena that have piqued the public interest. The Missing Evidence premieres Sunday, August 30 at 9:00.

- The performer line-up for the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards just got MAJOR. Joining previously announced performer The Weeknd, MTV today unveiled that Pharrell Williams, Demi Lovato, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Tori Kelly, A$AP Rocky and Twenty One Pilots will perform on the LIVE telecast airing this Sunday, August 30 at 9:00 on MTV.

- From John Irwin’s Irwin Entertainment, the producers of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, new series VH1 Family Therapy with Dr. Jenn hopes to shed a little light on the complicated and often misunderstood world of celebrity families who still have to grapple with universal issues – but under a microscope. From the executive producers of VH1 Couples Therapy with Dr. Jenn, VH1 will premiere the new series VH1 Family Therapy with Dr. Jenn in early 2016.

- TBS is doubling down on American Dad!, ordering two more seasons of the top-rated animated hit from Twentieth Century Fox Television, ensuring that the Stan Smith clan will have a home on the network through 2018. An important programming initiative for the Turner portfolio, American Dad! also has a second home on TBS's sister network, Adult Swim, which presents an encore of each new episode after its TBS premiere. Today's announcement adds 44 episodes to the series – 22 each for seasons 12 & 13. It marks the second time in less than year that TBS has renewed the series. In November, the network announced a 22-episode order for season 11, which is set to air on TBS and Adult Swim in early 2016.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Previewing Public Morals

The good guys of Public Morals

2015 is the year network and basic cable channels have started to throw everything against the wall to combat the Netflix watch whenever you want format. NBC made big waves by releasing every episode of Aquarius to Hulu, On Demand, iTunes and the like (for limited time). Apparently this was successful for NBC to renew the show for a second season after breaking NBC.com streaming records. Of course weeks later the show was resigned to the Saturday burn off slot so it will be interesting t see how NBC releases season two... if at all. NBC's sister station USA also got creative with the release of season two of Playing House by releasing the next episode On Demand the night after the previous episode airs on the cable channel (sure Showtime has released episodes a week before for the last couple seasons of another David Duchovny vehicle Californication). FX also did something interesting recently to fight the lax standards and practices of streaming sites by uploading "Explicit" versions of episodes of Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll On Demand the day after the for basic cable version aired through to my best guess you just hear an extra F-bomb or two per episode and does not show the amount of skin you see on Netflix originals (there is an explicit version of Aquarius floating around but as for now it has just aired in foreign markets and now words when us more prudish Americans can see it).

TNT is getting into the experiment this summer with a different type of release for its sixties crime drama, Public Morals. After tonight's premiere, they are going to put the first four episodes On Demand for people to binge watch. Of the four new ways to release a show I mentioned so far in this post, the Public Morals release is the worst way to watch as a viewer. I always find it bad form to complain about receiving screener for television shows, but this complain is relevant to how TNT is releasing Public Moral. Really my biggest complain when it comes to screeners is that when a network makes available multiple episodes available to watch it is harder to get back into the show weeks, or months later when new to me episodes start to air. What makes this decision even more head scratching is that if someone were to take TNT up on its offer to watch the first four episodes this week, the first new episode not On Demand does not air until September 22, right dab in the middle of the network premiere week. This just seems like horrible planning in my view. And I have seen those first four episodes and there is really no big event or plot twist in episode four that made me go, "oh my goodness, I cannot wait until episode five." Really , if you decide to watch Public Morals, I highly recommend to just watch it week to week (which is how I ended up watching Aquarius passing on binge on it all in a month's time). And for those that prefer binge watching, you might as well just wait until the end of the season instead of watching four now and the last six sometime in November.

Of course how to watch Public Morals is completely moot if it is not worth watching at all. The show takes place in 1960's New York (Red Hook specifically) with Ed Burns, who also created the show, as a cop assigned with dealing with making the city look nicer by riding it of prostitutes and gamblers. Okay, the Public Morals division does not really get rid of these activities, they just make sure they happen in the shadows and get their cut of the take. The balance is threatened when some gets wacked at the end of the first episode. For those hoping for a good murder mystery, sorry, the viewers will know who did it by the middle of episode two even if most everyone on the show is still investigating the murder through episode four.

Elizabeth Masucci of Public Morals
Also working with Burns is his partner Michael Rappaport (The War at Home), Wass Stevens (Brooklyn's Finest) Ruben Santiago-Hudson (American Gangster) is the Lieutenant. There are also a bunch of twentysomethings on both sides of the law that just seem to blend into each other which may be the only reason to binge the first four episodes as it is easier to tell all those characters apart then having to try to remember who is who after waiting a week. As for the fairer sex, Katrina Bowden (Sex Drive (Unrated)) is one of the girls the cops bust who has an, um, interesting Brooklyn accent on the show (which randomly goes away about halfway through the season). Lyndon Smith (she was Drew's more fun college girlfriend on Parenthood) is one of the around the way girls in Red Hook who can play on both sides of the tracks. There is also Burns's wife who may be the greatest trophy wife on television since Betty Draper (but a lot less icy) played by Elizabeth Masucci (TNT's press lists her main credit as The Americans which I did not recognize her from; after some googling, it turns out she just dubbed "prostitute" in a first season episode so this is really her first recognizable role, but I will say her accent is much better than most on the show).

The show also has an impressive list of guest stars including Timothy Hutton as Burns's gangster uncle who's son chose to take after his cousin not his father. Hutton's boss is Brian Dennehy who also has children problem, Brian's comes in the form of Neil McDonough (the resemblance is uncanny). Kevin Corrigan (it is weird that both male leads of Grounded for Life have gone on to be strong dramatic character actors) is also part of the organization. Also hanging around is Robert Knepper who like Burns and McDonough starred in last year's TNT period cop show Mob City. I will say I have enjoyed Public Morals more so far.

But the thing is, the show does not pick up until the fifth episode when it becomes perfectly clear that the whole season is building towards an epic turf war following the death in tonight's episode. The longer the season progresses the harder it is for the people in charge and the police, who profit from the more salacious activities stay in certain areas and the more entertaining and interesting the show gets. This war spill over from the street and really says a lot about class in the sixties much better than the similarly themed sixties cop show Aquarius. It does help that the other show is spread out in the sprawling Los Angeles while this one is a more compressed area of Red Hook where one small spark could take out an entire city block.

If TNT really wanted to experiment with nontraditional roll outs, they really should have included the fifth episode which the version I looked ready for broadcast (which is not always the case with screeners, it was always weird watching Raylan Givens "drive" down a country road with only green screens in the background). It seemed like TNT wanted to release enough episode to get people hooked but not enough that they would not come back to come back to watch live when those episodes are done. But still, I recommend just watching week to week because I really do not see this experiment working well for either TNT or the viewers who choose to watch the four episodes all this week.

Public Morals airs Tuesdays at 10:00 on TNT. You can download Public Morals on iTunes.