Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Catching Up with Homeland: Season Four


There is an old saying among television writers that you do not save anything for the second season because you do not know if you will get one. The Homeland writers definitely used this philosophy writing a big plot twist with the emotional weight of a season finale every two to three episodes (even though they did not really need to do so because everything on Showtime gets renewed, and basically gets five to seven seasons). They burned through enough plots in one season many shows take three to five seasons to get through.

This was a double edge sword because as awesome and epic as the first season was, the second was a bit of a let down and lost more and more speed as the season progressed. Seriously, Brody killed the Vice President by hacking his heart monitor and no one noticed Brody enter or the leave the office in one of the heavily guarded residence in the nation.

But the second season was still watchable, the show completely came off the rails in season three when the writers gave us the love no one wanted to see. I had to rack my brains to think of a show that had fallen that far that fast, but the demise of most television shows are slow to the point you do not really realize until two or three seasons too late when you wonder why exactly are you still watching. The closest I could come up with was the Belfast season of Sons of Anarchy (also its third season), but that was not bad; it was just mostly boring and cumbersome to sit through.

Sons of Anarchy did rebound when the cast returned to Charming for the most part (it would have been better had FX kept Kurt Sutter’s hubris in check not allowing him to do ninety minute or even two hour episodes just so he could squeeze in a extra ten minute musical montage or three). So there was hope for Homeland, the show finally killed off Brody in the season finale even if it was two seasons too late and teased a move to the Middle East with Carrie getting a position in Kabul. Only Lane Kiffen fails upwards more often than Carrie Mathison.

Season four started off with a hard reboot, Carrie was now the drone queen in the Kabul station, Saul was in the private sector, Quinn was doing Quinn things in Pakistan, and not a Brody to be found, except Baby Brody on Skype. The only thing to stay the same was Lockhart still in charge of the CIA and as curmudgeony as ever. The season starts of with the Drone Queen doing what she does best, sending drones to kill terrorists even if they are at a wedding. Being this is Carrie, probably especially if they are at weddings.

The season really pick up with the death of the Pakistan station chief (after seeing him all summer with an Anime type wig, it was weird seeing Cory Stoll with the thin halo of hair and a dark beard). Then the show had to go back to America and baby Brody with Lockhart threatening to keep the Done Queen stateside. Thankfully Carrie wanted to spend as much time with Baby Brody as the viewers did and blackmailed Lockhart to give yet another promotion, this time as Pakistani station chief.

Where as the fist season burned off finale type plot twists every couple episodes, season four of Homeland seemed more tradition with a slow build to one big moment in the anti-penultimate episode when Haqqani’s plan was finally set in motion. Sure the first half of the season was rough in spots (Carrie sleeping with yet another asset, Quinn’s out of nowhere puppy love of Carrie, Saul’s private sector job being utter inconsequential, the mustache twirling evil female ISI agent, and basically every scene the ambassador’s husband was in) the show finally found it feet right around the time Saul got abducted (granted if former CIA directors are really allowed to walk around unintended in Arab country airports, they should really change that policy).

After the raid on the embassy, we got to finally see Quinn shake out of his season long funk and go full black ops rouge. Sure if this was season one, he would have been allowed to kill Haqqani even with Dar Adal in the back seat). And done it in the first five episodes of the season. But know it look like the writers are saving plot for future seasons. The season was so slow moving, Carrie did not bother to even confront Adal until the end of the finale, after driving cross country to confront her long absent mother and night lasagna with Lockhart, Saul and Quinn (one of the season’s best scenes.)

So at the start of season five it looks like Saul will be back as director of the CIA despite being forced out after the CIA building bombing and just being held capture by a terrorist. It is s sad to see Lockhart get forced out because him going HAM on everyone has been the most entertaining part of the last seasons (though I do not know why he wussed out at the threat of killing Farrah), but this is Homeland where everyone seems to fail upward, so he may be president by the start of season five. It will be interesting to see if Quinn and/or Carrie go rouge next season trying to finally get Haqqani. Or the writer will bring back Dana Brody and have her join ISIS with plenty of hallucinations of her father.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Catching Up with The Affair

It is hard to hear the description for The Affair and not think of last year's Betrayal which was one and done on ABC. That "one" was a season, but the show could have easily been pulled after one episode because it was a bit of a bore and it did not help that the lead's American accent came and went from scene to scene. Both shows followed the extracurricular activities of two married people; one seemed to be in the perfect married, the other q bit of a messy one. There is also a murder clumsily tacked onto the plot that just reeks of network meddling which was probably the case for ABC, Showtime seems more laissez faire).

Of course that is the biggest difference is that the same type of show is much more likely to be more watchable on premium channels compared to free television because Showtime can attract better actors, writers, it is easier to tell a concise story in ten episodes compared to twenty-two, and it is doubtful ABC could get Fiona Apple to write them a theme song. The biggest difference story wise is The Affair tells the story from the narrative view of each of the adulterers. Sure, again, ABC just did that again this season with yet another one and done series Manhattan Love Story but where that show just followed the inner monologue from the two leads, The Affair give each lead their side of the story of a single day during their tryst.

Before you have Lost flashbacks where that show would annoyingly re-film a scene from a different point of view, basically seeing the same scene from different camera angle up to four different times, the adulterers Noah and Allison had different recollections of how their dalliance happened. Sometimes it would be as minor as he would remember her hair down and she would have it in a ponytail. Sometimes it would be wildly different (the biggest of which comes in tonight's season finale) and in some cases, he would remember them hooking up in a field but when she retold the story, she was not even there. Really this has to be the best writing gig in town because any pothole or errors in continuity they can just blame the characters on miss remembering.

The most interesting part of this storytelling is just how Noah and Allison view each other and themselves. According to Noah, he is this noble super-dad and husband (well aside from that whole cheating thing), while his parents-in-law are the big bads despite providing his lifestyle probably even helped him transition into a man because his father is not even worth mentioning. To Noah, Allison is a flirty local who always makes the first step.

For Allison, she is the victim, taking no culpability in her son's death; it was either bad luck or her husbands fault. Noah is the emotional support that she can no longer get from her husband because talking to him would mean having to come to term with the death of her some even if Noah come across as a little sleazy, and of course he always makes the first move. Really all the guys in her life are kind of sleazy, her bothers in laws are drug dealers (of course she is an unwilling participant again refusing to admit her involvement), and her boss is constantly trying to have sex with her again for the first time in fifteen years. And again, her mother-in-law can be seen as the enemy even though she was there for Allison when her own mother was not.

The two even have two different views on the murder that happens sometime in the future, Noah thinks he went through a messy divorce while Allison thinks he has been happily married for over two decades. Are they juxtaposition their own realities on him or is the detective telling the two what they want to hear to make him seem more reliable. In the finale we get a third extremely different possibility to the detective’s love life when neither of the two leads is around.

Alrighty, this is the part I am going to get into a bit of the spoilers from the first season now, continue reading at you own risk.

Like I mentioned earlier, it seemed like ABC meddling when Betrayal inserted a murder plotline, but that does not seem like Showtime's MO. But the murder subplot seemed to be shoehorned into most episodes, given about a minute at the beginning or end of each act of the show. The murder victim seem like it was some big mystery, but halfway through the season, the detective just causally mentioned that Allison's bother-in-law Scott was the deceased. Up until that point the other time I remembered him was trying to sneak upstairs with Noah's daughter. Which of course put Noah high on my list of suspects (okay, he was basically the only one, aside from creepy diner owner and un-scene drug traffickers). Not surprisingly Scott turned out to be Whitney's baby daddy.

As I teased, tonight's episode features what is probably the most different retelling of a scene this season which features many of the show's main players finding themselves in the same place at the time. Where I tend to believe Allison over Noah, this scene is one of the few times I believe Noah's version more, plus his version of events may be the best scene this season.

Though it seems like an after thought in the first couple episodes, we do spend more time in the still undetermined future (unless I missed if they let us in on a date). But unlike Betrayal where we got the murder mystery wrapped up in a nice neat bow before the season series ended, The Affair leaves that a bit up in the air. But since this is a premium channel, even poorly rated series get at least a second season and The Affair has already been renewed And since the future seems at least five years away, it may take us a while to catch up.

The Affair airs its season finale tonight at 10:00 on Showtime preceded by the season finale of Homeland at 9:00.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Previewing Sleepless in America

A couple weeks ago, National Geographic Channel highlighted a task we all do and many of us take for granted when their aired their mini-series for eat. When it comes to eating, it seems like most of us do too much or too little of it. Tonight, the channel takes another deep dive in another task many of us think as mundane but everyone does it. But unlike eating, there are not two extremes, it seems like Americans only getting not enough sleep each night.

Sleepless in America takes a look at why forty percent of adults (and seventy percent of teenagers) are considered sleep deprived, some times with fatal consequences. It is theorized that not enough sleep led to the Exxon Valdez tanker cash, the Three Mile Island Meltdown, and most recently the Walmart driver who rammed Tracy Morgan's limo leaving one passenger dead and the comic in the hospital in a month and who is still undergoing treatment for traumatic brain injury.

Morgan is not the only one, the two hour special starts out with the story of a family torn apart by a doctor coming home from a lengthy rotation and veered across four lanes hitting a family of six head on with half not surviving and the other half spending months and years worth of rehabilitation. Drowsiness is not the only result of not getting enough sleep and it is also believe to cause mental health problems, as well as diabetes, heart disease, and an increase risk of cancer and Alzheimer's.

If you are in the forty percent, or have a school aged kid, Sleepless in America may be the most important special you watch on television this year. Over the course of two hours, it will give you warning signs that you are not getting enough sleep and more importantly how to get a good night's sleep if you are one of the millions of Americans dealing with insomnia.

Sleepless in America premieres tonight at 8:00 on the National Geographic Channel.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Previewing Eat: The Story of Food

Food: some think about it too much while others it is nothing more than fuel, something to power us through the day. But no matter who you are, you eat it and need it to survive. For me, I am more on the latter side of the equation and really have no interest in all the television shows on the subject. I never understood what the enjoyment of a cooking show is if you cannot eat the finished product at the end of the episode and watching other people "judge" the food even more cruel.

While watching other people cook food may not pique my interested, I am a bit fascinated by the science and history behind food. The National Geographic Channel is looking into those this weekend with their six part seriesEat: The Story of Food starting tonight at 9:00. The series conducted interviews with nearly seventy chefs, authors, food experts, and food scientists including Padma Lakshmi, Rachael Ray, and Anna Boiardi (her family's famous product is spelled more phonetically).

The first episode deals with the "Food Revolutionaries" from Julia Child to Christopher Columbus, yes the guy credited with discovering America. What is sometime forgotten is the very reason he sailed the ocean blue was to find an easier way to transport spices from India but ended up discovering a new spice in the new world: the chili pepper. Food historians also credit food with the creation of capitalism, New Amsterdam becoming New York, and World War II inadvertently launching Chef Boyardee into grocery shelves everywhere.

The second episode will hit close to every grillers heart (and will want to be avoided by vegetarians), "Carnivores." The hour looks into why we eat the meats we do and why we avoid some others most Americans would find disgusting unless maybe they were avid watchers of Fear Factor. The hour also delves into some "meats" me may be better off not knowing about like the hot dog and chick nugget.

Other episodes include "Sugar Rushes" looking at the history of one of our dietary obsession dating back 10,000 when the sugarcane was first farmed. "Sea Changes" looks at the food we fish out of the oceans. "Guilty Pleasures" at processed food and why we just cannot eat one Pringle at a time. The series closes out with "Staffs of Life" looking at the rise of grains that helped up ditch the hunter / gatherer era to a more stationary age.

Eat: The Story of Food airs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 9:00 on the National Geographic Channel. If that is not enough food on television for you, the National Geographic Channel is premiering two new series this Monday, Eric Greenspan Is Hungry at 10:00 followed by Chug at 10:30.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Previewing Live Free or Die

For the last fourteen years I have watched Survivor an thought to myself, sure, I could live on a deserted tropical beach for about a month living off fruit and rice for the chance of maybe getting a million dollars. Worst case scenario I get a bunch of nasty bug bites (well, that or fall face first into a fire). Then last year saw the premiere of Naked and Afraid and just the title alone made me think to myself, nope. Nope, nope, nope... no way. Since then a cottage industry of survivalist shows have popped up on the dial including Fat Guys in the Woods (another self explanatory title) and the O.G. survivalist Bear Grylls taking celebrities out into the wild.

One thing all these survivalist shows have in common is that at the end of every episode everyone goes back to their homes with central heating that are withing driving distance to grocery stores with packaged meats and beverages. When the cameras turn off on the new show Live Free or Die, the cameramen may go home to their warm homes, but the castmember stay out in the wilderness where they have lived for years without the trappings of modern technology. Well except for one who brought out his coffee machine out to the cabin he built by hand in the woods.

Live Free or Die, premiering tonight, follows five Americans (which includes one married couple) as they escape to the mountains and swamps of this county to live without electricity or running water. These are former schoolteachers and financial advisers who have left the buzz of the big city for a simple life which is not that simple without electricity and an easy place you can drive to to get food.. And the show has caught some of the survivalist in some hash conditions like the drought in California which is making wildlife scarce (no wildlife, no food) and single digit temperatures in the mountains of North Carolina.

Just because these people have left modern society does not mean they still do not have ties to that world, in episode two we meet one of the survivalists five year old daughter who spends every other week with her father. And just because they are living in the middle of nowhere, that does not mean they are immune to disaster as one of them learn very well at the end of the second episode that may very well threaten their survivalist lifestyle forever.

Live Free or Die airs Tuesdays at 10:00 on the National Geographic Channel.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Previewing American War Generals

As we gear up for yet another war in the Middle East (not that you will hear anyone in the Obama administration actually use the word "war") the National Geographic Channel is airing a very timely new special tonight entitled American War Generals. the two hours will feature new interviews from ten living generals who served during war time with names we have all become familiar with like Colin Powell, Stanley McChrystal, David Petraues, and Wesley Clark.

Those all of those generals severed during one of the wars in Iraq, the specials starts back in Vietnam where all but three of the ten generals got their start in the United States armed forces even if just part of basic training and never set foot in the foreign country. But many of those that did see time in the jungles saw eerie parallels to how the second Iraq war was ran.

Throughout the two hours, all the generals, especially the retired ones are very candid about their time on the ground and their time leading troops into battle; seemingly no topic off the table. General Petraeus talks about the "General Betray-Us" and while General McChrystal delves into the Rolling Stone article which led him to the Oval Office where President Obama said he would except the general's resignation.

They are all also very forthcoming on the failures in Iraq (Donald Rumsfeld looks really bad after multiple stories by the generals). One even goes as far to suggest that it was very possible that we could have last that war. Most of it had to do with the leadership trying to fight the way we should against an army, not an insurgency. Hopefully as we reenter the country, we finally learn from our mistakes.

American War Generals premieres tonight at 8:00 on the National Geographic Channel.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Previewing 9/10: The Final Hours

Everyone remembers where they were on September 11, 2001, we have all told the story and herd others over the past twelve anniversaries from the first responders to people who were supposed to be in the World Trade Center that day before fate intervened and have even heard President George W. Bush tell his tale of that fateful day. But here is a question that is a little harder: where were you on September 10, the day before our way of life changed? For me and I am guessing many others it was just like September 9, and 8 and many other days that preceded it.

One of the commenters for National Geographic Channel's 9/10: The Finals Hours describes the twenty months after the Y2K scare a "blissful ignorance." Really we lived in a world of blissful ignorance since the fall of communism with the occasional irrational panic over silly things like Y2K. The special features interviews with many New Yorkers talking about the calm before the storm and even finds some people in Portland, Maine who came into contact with suspected ringleader Mohammad Atta on his last day on Earth (his last meal: a vegetarian pizza).

Some of the people interviewed includes a bartender who worked on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center,a New York City newscaster (the big new on 9/10: all the rain that day) Mayoral candidate Mark Green (primaries were supposed to be held the next day), artists who worked on the 91st and 92nd floors, an NYU student who bought her first video camera that days and ended up using very frequently over the next 24 hours, and many others. As many of the interviews focus on the mundane and foreshadows the event to come it is interesting that the biggest event in New York City that night, Michael Jackson's all star tribute at Madison Square Garden is barely mentioned.

As the thirteenth anniversary approaches it is interesting to look back at the time before 9/11 and how hard it is to remember as it has turned into a dark and fading memory. Of course the special does not stay entirely on that Monday in September as all those New Yorkers eventually tell they stories on where they were when the towers fell, including a couple who just missed being in the buildings when the planes hit. But the first half of the special is just as powerful as we lived those last couple hours of blissful ignorance.

9/10: The Final Hours premieres tonight at 8:00 on the National Geographic Channel.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Previewing Dallas: The Second Half of Season Three

It is rare when I am truly shocked by a television show these days, but there was my jaw on the floor when Pamela surprised JR Jr. and Emma in their hotel room only to ask the party, not interrupt it. Things made a little more sense when Pamela started convulsing and it became clear she was overdosing and possibly wanted to implicate the adulterers. Hers was not the only life in the balance when Dallas went on hiatus back in the spring when a more tried and true soap opera cliffhanger of a fire left many under the roof in peril (as well as those that went in to save them) as well as leaving us with the question who started the fire.

Dallas returns tonight to finish off the last seven episodes of season three and though I cannot say who started the fire (other than the fact I can declare with complete certainty that it was not Billy Joel) I can say that by the end of the hour you will know who started the fire. There is even a flashback to confirm what exactly happened that started the blaze. And though I cannot say who it is, I can also say one person who was alive at the start of the last episode will no longer be breathing at the end of tonight's episode (okay, I can also confirm that this is not Billy Joel either).

Though the fire and Pamella's overdose were the bi cliffhanger from the last episode, there were a couple of little plots from the last episode that will shake up Southfork. There was the kiss between Ryland and Ann (which Judith saw, fact she will no doubt use to her advantage). Emma was banned from Southfork (granted no one will be living there was a while). There is the ranch hand's wife Christopher is hooking up with and is a prime suspect to be the arsonist. Then again Drew Ramos is still n the loose somewhere. Though most of tonight's episode takes place at the hospital, we do learn more about just why Nicolas is so ken to take over Ewing Global, and it is not just about helping Elena.

Dallas airs Mondays at 9:00 on TNT.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Previewing Wicked Tuna: North vs. South

When I first reviewed Wicked Tuna the majority of the post focused on my dislike of the city of Boston and how their accent boils my skin. The only thing that rivals my hatred of Boston is the enjoyment I get when I can watch them lose (unfortunately member of the city are prone to cheating leading numerous tainted championships in the past decade or so). Since the majority of the city's population are doushebags (or as they are commonly refereed to:massholes) I was not at all surprised when Wicked Tuna announced a spin-off where the massholes from the original series would sail south after the season on Boston was over to invade North Carolina to loot the tuna from local fishermen.

Wicked Tuna: North vs. South opens up with us getting to know the local fishermen , three boats that features one with a crazy first mate, another with a pair of brothers, and a third with a religious captain. But not long after the introduction they spot two rouge ships off in the distance a pair of boats that sailed down from Gloucester, Mass: the Hot Tuna lead by TJ Ott and Captain Dave Marciano of the Hard Merchandise (Tyler McLaughlin will complete the northern aggression when the Pin Wheel finally arrives in the second episode of the season). Making the invasion even worse have two more boats to fight fish for, North Carolina has a twenty-three ton yearly quota, which comes out to about two hundred bluefins.

Of course the massholes are on foreign turf and will have to learn a different way to reel in their catch. Back home they would sit in one spot waiting for a bite, but in southern waters the best way to catch a fish is greensticking, where you use an artificial squid on a thirty-foot pole in hopes to entice the bluefins to the surface. Then again the Boston guys will probably fin a way to cheat before the quota is filled.Here is hoping that when the twenty-third ton is reeled in, the south finally rises again, at least in the waters of North Carolina.

Wicked Tuna: North vs. South airs Sundays at 10:00 on the National Geographic Channel.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

57 Channels and Only This Is On:8/16/14

Ray Donovan: Kate is not actually going to believe that story? She seems too smart to believe that those three would come together and finally come clean. I have a feeling she is going to dig deeper into Sully's girlfriend before she is done with her story. And it looks like my Cochran is into wife swapping theory is going to be right even though they came just short of confirming that this week.

Masters of Sex: Oh snap, Virginia just completely put Bill in his place multiple times in the span of minutes. Libby could learn a lot from her because she failed miserably putting Coral's boyfriend in his place. And poor pretzel king, first his wife cannot give him a child, and this week we learn she is a lesbian, though unbeknownst to him yet. I wonder if he will ever find out or if Betty can keep her under wrap.

The Strain:Of course the Master vampire dates back to the Nazi. Television shows and movie rewrite that bit of history a little too often to make the bad guys look even more bad. But hey, at least we got some more vampire killing again this week. I am guessing the lead singer is up next. Now the question is when is the exterminator going to join the vampire hunters beause you know that is going to happen eventually.

Switched at Birth: So the big social episode of the episode was chicks wears tuxidos to prom?  Alightly.  I am with the school on this one.  Daphne finally gets her intervention but still gets one more bit of self destruction in before she realized she had gone off the deep end. It looks like rock bottom is going to follow and maybe we will get the Daphne in jail season that I thought might happen when she got caught blackmailing a State Senator.

Murder in the First: Say what you will about the show, but they definitely took a much different path than other season long murder mysteries. When the season began, Eric Blunt was the biggest suspect for both murders which may me think there was no way he did it (I was convince d that the perp would turn out to be Steven Weber in my the bigger star always does it in crime drama theory). But the show never did offer up any real red herrings so Eric Blunt was the only real suspect all season. Like every single mystery series before it, I am not sure it really work, but It was definitely an interesting try.

Under the Dome I did not really think Uncle Sam was dead and was convinced that the hole went somewhere after Barbie fell in, the only question was where it went. Apparently we did not have to wait long, it goes outside. The bigger question is how does Barbie get back in the dome because I am guessing that happens instead of the more obvious Barbie telling everyone jump in the whole because there would be no show if that happened.. Granted maybe that should be the case and end the snow there because it ran its course a long time ago.

Pretty Little Liars: Can they just give Hanna her own show at this point because she is the only interesting part of the show anymore. Or at the very least have someone really kidnap Allison because she is really sucking the life out of the show since she has come back.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Previewing Legends

After the out of the box success of Homeland, producer Howard Gordon became a hot commodity, even if it came at the cost of the show that put him on the map (season two of Homeland was a step back in quality while season three fell off the cliff). Now the shows he was able to sell after that success are finally hitting the small screen. FX won a highly contested bidding war for Tyrant which premiered about a month ago to a resounding meh by critics. Another highly coveted property, Legends premieres tonight on TNT.

When I first saw the previews for Legends my first thought was, "Great, this will essentially be a prequel to Taken where we learn just how Liam Neeson got his very particular set of skills with Ned Stark as Neeson." Okay technically the show is based on the award winning spy novels by Robert Littell. In his iteration, Ned reattaches his head to his neck to play Martin Odum, a undercover agent for the FBI's Deep Cover Operations (or DCO). And like every good law enforcement story, he is the best at what he does and is a loose cannon.

This of course means he butts heads with his team leader Ali Larter (Varsity Blues with who he has a storied past with . Their commanding officer Steve Harris (Justified) is a little more tolerant to Stark because he does get the job done. Their team is rounded out by new to the team Tina Majorino (Veronica Mars) who provides tech support, Amber Valletta (Revenge) also pops up as Stark's ex-wife but unless their kid gets kidnapped by Albanians and sold into the sex trade, I do not really care about that storyline.

Legends stars off with Odum deep undercover, off the grid for six months as he infiltrates a militia group thought to bomb a Wichita building and looking for bigger targets. Though it looks like Legends will primarily be a procedural (and a much better one than the last deep cover show TNT put on, Dark Blue) do not expect every episode to wrap up in a nice bow with each case closed in an hours time. The second episode abruptly ends just as Martin morphs into Dante Auerbach, a "Lord of War" who hopes to locate a Russian refugee kidnapped by Russian seperitists to make him build a bomb somewhere in Los Angeles.

More interesting than the procedural aspect is when Odum is attacks by a homeless man that tells him that Martin Odum is also a Legend just like Dante and Lincoln Dittmann, the unemployed construction worker who joined the militia. As death surrounded people connected to the homeless man, it becomes clear that this is not just the rantings of a crazy person. The death also piques the interest of Morris Chestnut (Boyz in the Hood) another FBI agent in a different department tasked with investigating the homeless man's death .

Of the two new Gordan projects, Legends is the better watch because Sean Bean is a vastly more interesting lead and this show actually seems like it knows where it is going (being based on a book probably helps). This show also seems to have a small bit of a sence a humor whir is vastly missing in Gordan's other two shows, there is a scene tonight in a strip club which particularly made me chuckle. Though the long term enjoyment of Legends depends on just where they are going with what Martin learns from the homeless man. Gordan once said of Homeland that you can no longer shock audiences with plot twists, you can only shock them with when you do them. I am guessing we not learn Martin Odum's true identity until the end of the season. Hopefully Gordon shocks me with when that actually happens.

Legends airs Wednesdays at 9:00 on TNT.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Previewing Franklin and Bash: Season Four

It seems like just last year I was calling Heather Locklear a television show fixer, someone brought in to help a struggling franchise.  Well, she is gone from the new season of Franklin and Bash.  She is not the only ones, as the new season starts, Carmen and Pindar are no longer employed by Infold-Daniels.  Technically neither is Carp, but that actor is returning to the series.

Which frees up some room for some new characters.  First up is a new creepy private investigator who also seems to know his way around a computer just in case the boys need Pindar-type assistance.  Also new is a fresh out of college lawyer who is extremely overeager to get first chair courtroom experience.

Cast overhaul aside, the draw to the show has always been the wacky court cases and the wacky antics of the titular characters.  Up first tonight is an archeology who does not care for Indiana Jones (of course the only one he likes is Crystal Skull).  Of course Stanton Infeld is still lurking around and had his lawyer licence revoke which seems to be a seasonal occurrence on the show.  This leads to some cash flow issues that naturally Franklin and Bash think outside the box ways to solve.

Franklin and Bash airs Wednesdays at 10:00 on TNT.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 8/10/14

Ray Donovan: It looks like we may have finally learned Cochran's vice, and, umm... does that mean his "Scrabble" parties are actually swinger's parties?  I really could not tell if the chick he groped was fazed or not.  If not, that lends to my swinger theory.  I also figured that Ray would bed the reporter eventually, just not after one episode.  Interesting that he would intercept her from meeting with Mickey knowing her life would be in danger if she really learned what went down on the docks the night Sully died.

The Last Ship:  Did no one really not think to have the captain disguise his voice or let a female talk on the com just in case the Russians were listening?  I have when I am much smarter that characters that are supposed to be the smartest people in the room.  But then again, just how smart am I for watching a Michael Bay show?

Masters of Sex:  I am glad I did not look up the William Masters biography in between seasons because I was extremely shocked that he ended up punching out his boss and then ended up at a black hospital.  Makes me wonder if his nanny will somehow end up in his study now.  You know Bill wants to know if races react differently to sex.

The Strain:  A couple years ago, it seemed like every show had someone getting eletroshock theraphy, this year it is vampire autopsy.  And this one ended up being grosser than the one on Penny Dreadful.  You would think that after seeing just how long that biting thing was, they would not enter a house where another suspected infected person was without a way to block it.  Well at least the CDC seems to finally be teaming up with the old vampire slayer.  Though my favorite part may be the vampire in the shed (how very Shawn of the Dead) and the wife willing to feed the annoying neighbors to him.
Falling Skies:  So Lexi spends all that time in the cocoon and come out virtually unchanged (except appently for her eyes which I would not have noticed had it not been brought up), well at least physically.  She is apparently telekinetic now.

Switched at Birth:  Wow, out of control Daphne went dark this week.  C'mon, you cannot try to make out with Travis on the Ferris Wheel.  I am guessing a mother / daughter trip to AA will be coming sooner than later this season.

Pretty Little Liars:  Well at least drunk Hanna is still entertaining.  Granted she has not gotten into cocaine yet like Daphne.  But the big new is that my lesbian Swimf@n dream may actually be coming to fruition.  Though it is unclear if the new girl likes Emily or like likes her.  But unsurprisingly we did learn she has a sordid past and of course it involves Jenna.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Previewing 7 Deadly Sins

Everyone knows that one guy who takes everything too far just to make a point.  Morgar Spurlock is just that guy.  We first met him with Super Size Me where he ate McDonalds every day and if the cashier asked if he wanted that supersized he had to say yes.  He continued this the full thirty days even when his doctor said it could have a lasting effect, even death (his wife was less than thrilled too).

Superlock would then expand that thirty day idea for an FX series where he lived on minimum wage for a month and worked in coal mine (other people took on tasks for the other episodes).  He would also be that annoying guy for documentaries where he tried to find Osama bin Laden and highlighted how saturated we are with advertising for The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (presented by POM Wonderful who paid a million dollars to get their name in the title.  Morgan also followed around somethings called bronies and One Direction.

Morgan Spurlock returns to the small screen tonight with 7 Deadly Sins.  Sure Super Size Me would make for an interesting episode for "gluttony" but Spurlock is not spending thirty days indulging in every sin (I am not sure if I wanted to know what he would have done for Lust).  Instead he is playing more of an Alfred Hitchcock role presenting every sin and introducing us to people that embrace each sin across the seven episode.

Tonight, of course starts off with the sin we know Morgan is very well versed in, Gluttony where we meet the owner of the Heart Attack Grill and it patrons, one of which had a triple bypass after eating a Triple Bypass Burger (a half pound of beef for each bypass, onions and a not so special sauce: it is chili).  At least he had the decency of heaving his heart attack at home, two people have had one right at the dining establishment.  Then we meet Darling Nikki, a seven hundred pound webcam model and her boyfriend.  We also meet what may be her fate in the form of coffin makers for the morbidly obsese.  Hearing what is done to you after death just may keep you out of the Heart Attack Grill.  And before you think about it as an alternative, cremation of the morbidly obsess may be even more disturbing.

Next week is Lust where we meet men who desperately want to be women (but may not have the money or nerve to go all the way) make themselves into living dolls and the people who make the full body suits.  There is also who identifies as being crippled and moves around in a wheelchair instead of his two able legs.  Lust of course heads to a brothel, an old folks home, and a female self pleasuring maker who specializes in, oh goodness, I cannot even bring myself to type how he makes his items.  I will say I was surpised to learn this is legal and PETA should get involved to get it outlawed.  But it is clear that there are plenty of people out there that can keep 7 Deadly Sins on the air for years to come.

7 Deadly Sins airs Thursdays at 11:00 on Showtime.

Monday, August 04, 2014

I Want My Music Television: 8/4/14

There have been a couple of videos that have caught my eye lately so I thought I’d give them some love since the death of Musical Television left a void for a forum on the art form. If you are interested in buying the video through iTunes, click the title link (where available). If you are interested in buying the song, look for a link in the analysis.

Heart Is a Drum - Beck

Beck’s latest album is a bit of a downer, but that does not mean he cannot still get a little weird in his music video for a song off the album. And it may not get more trippy than seeing current day Beck walk with his “Loser” self and other images from his very first music video from over two decades ago.

Rollin' and Tumblin' - The Gaslight Anthem

I am not sure if the chicks in the black leotards in the new The Gaslight Anthem video are supposed to be a warped homage to the Single Ladies video, but I am just going to ignorantly go ahead and believe so.

Electric Lady – Janelle Monáe

Do we really such a blatant commercial for some picture taking watch at the start of the video? As someone who proudly had a calculator watch, I do not see anyone buying that. I was under the impression the only people who still wear watches are douchebags who think flashing a Rolex will impress people. The only new product from the Janelle Monáe video I would think about buying is the singing wall pictures. I would take a Kimbra one when or if it hits the market. Maybe a T-Boz one too if they are cheap.

Did We Live Too Fast - Got A Girl

Love Mary Elizabeth Winstead and her new group with Dan the Automator, Got a Girl, is good enough, but their first video just comes off like a bad rejected Twilight Zone episode.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 8/3/14

Ray Donovan: To show just how more entertaining the second season is from the first, last year when Ray was trying to get Bridget into private and dour and featured Connor attacking someone for a reason that still was not completely explained other than he is turning into a hot head like his father. This time around the douchebag producer was even entertaining on his never-ending quest to have sex with his favorite pornstar. Sure it ended out exactly how I thought it would, with her getting a role in his movie, but it was still entertaining to watch. This is turning into one of the most improved seasons of television ever.

Masters of Sex: Why is it the smaller episodes (or what insiders call bottle episode) always reveal the most? The majority of the episode was just Bill and Virginia in a hotel room, but even role playing we learned so much about the two and how they view each other. This was an early contender for Best Episode of the Year.

The Strain: Finally, after three episodes, we finally got our first vampire kill. Well, maybe, as vampire lore, stake through the heart and decapitation is the only way to kill one; I am not entirely sure if bashes skull in qualifies as decapitation. Certainly at some point it does. But that was not even the big news this week, which was the full frontal male nudity on basic cable. That was not something I needed to see. Maybe I should not have asked what that thud was during his trip to the toilet.
You can download The Strain on iTunes.

Switched at Birth: I wonder if they added the weird Daphne / hooligan kiss to make the Toby / British chick kiss less awkward. Seriously, does the kiss a chick to get her to shut up and end a fight ever work in real life? I have only known it to end in a slap and more yelling.
You can download Switched At Birth on iTunes.

Under the Dome: So Uncle Sam killed the Token Hot Chick because she was one of the hands “holding up the dome,” what? Why start with her, why not off one of the annoying teenagers first, or his psycho nephew? This show is just infuriately dumb.
You can stream Under The Dome on Amazon Instant Video, free for Prime users.

Murder in the First: So Eric confessed after the trail that he did kill the stewardess and I am guessing he did not just say that sarcastically just to taunt the detectives. So I guess the final two episodes will be the detectives trying to get him on the murder of his father, whether he actually did that or not. Hopefully it solved and they do not save that trial for next season.
You can download Murder in the First on iTunes.

Pretty Little Liars: Let me preface this kiddies by saying do not drink alcohol, it is bad for you and makes you make bad decisions, with that said, drunk Hannah is becoming the best thing on the show.
You can download Pretty Little Liars on iTunes.

Tyrant: When the sheik got sick in the meeting I thought for sure someone poisoned him, be it the defense minister, or even his son or himself just to make Jamal look guilty. But I came away from meeting thinking there is no way he makes it very far, the only question is when and who is responsible. We actually got the answer to both at the end of the episode with Jamal in the bathroom with the toilet bowl. And for the first time, I am interested where the show goes next.
You can download Tyrant on iTunes.

The Bridge: I actually wanted to see Ray and Charlotte’s trip to Alaska. Oh well.
You can download The Bridge on iTunes.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Best of the Week: 8/2/14

Quote of the Week: He does other things for me: he takes me seriously. (Virginia Johnson, Masters of Sex)

Song of the Week: What Child Is This – The Rosewood High School Choir (Pretty Little Liars)

Big News of the Week: Your Next Peter Pan Is…: When NBC announced the casting of Christopher Walken as the first addition to their Peter Pan musical instead of the titular character, it singled to me, do not get excited to have a big name star put on the green leotard (granted I did get excited thinking that a capable though not big draw Brie Larson would have a chance). NBC finally filled the role and the announcement was a bit underwhelming. The role went to Allison Williams who stars on Girls, but that pretty much makes up her whole IDMB page (it should also be mentioned she is the spawn of NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams who gave a tongue in check announcement on the Nightly News saying, “family members confirm she has been rehearsing for this role since the age of three” which was accompanying the younger Williams in costume at the age). Again, not that this matters because unless she bombs worse than Carrie Underwood, most people will be talking about Christopher Walken performance the next day anyway. There is a reason why his name was announced first, he will be the star and the face of the show. Since NBC did not take my suggestion for Peter Pan or Captain Hook (I would have tried for Jack Black for the latter), maybe they will take my advice and cast Ramona Flowers as Tigerlily.

Preview Picture of the Week:

“It’s Not For Everyone” The Strain, Sunday at 10:00 on FX

Free Download of the Week: Keys - Hooray for Earth (Amazon Digital Music)

New Album Release of the Week: They Want My Soul - Spoon

New DVD Release of the Week: Community: Season 5

Video of the Week: In a story I broke a couple lines ago that Allison Williams will star in the upcoming adaptation of Peter Pan. Her acting resume is not very long, it is basically Girls and a bunch of web stuff, but her musical resume is actually smaller. But Williams did get her role on Girls when producer Judd Apatow saw her singing Nature Boy while being backed by musicians playing A Beautiful Mine (aka the Mad Men theme song) so she apparently has the pipes. There is also a scene from Girls where her character does a hilariously over the top version of Stronger and hilariously over the top is exactly what I look for in my musical theater actors. Really I did not know much about Williams prior to her casting but after watching these two and a half minutes I am one hundred percent all in on Williams as Peter Pan and really in general. Unfortunately, that video is un-embeddable (watch it here) so here is the A Beautiful Mind / Mad Men mash-up, but seriously, click the link to hear her singing stronger too.

Next Week Pick of the Week: L Word Mississippi: Hate the Sin: Friday at 9:00 on Showtime: Showtime ® gives viewers a look inside the daily struggles of a dynamic group of Southern lesbians in L Word Mississippi: Hate the Sin, a 90-minute documentary executive produced by filmmaker Ilene Chaiken (The L Word®, The Real L Word®) and the award-winning Magical Elves directing and production team of Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz (Top Chef, Katy Perry: Part of Me). The film spotlights the unique challenges of being lesbians in between the “coasts” in the religious, conservative deep South. Directed by Oscar® and Emmy® nominee Lauren Lazin (Tupac: Resurrection), the documentary looks at life outside more progressive metropolitan areas in America today where gay women endure hardships, bigotry, bullying, sexism and racism while trying to live among their predominantly straight neighbors. Featured stories include a newly out-and-proud former pastor banished from her church, but who later regains her self-esteem by launching a program to support her local LGBTQ community; a white mother who would accept her daughter’s black lover, if only she were a man; a couple grappling with both infertility and female-to-male gender transitioning; and a former life-long lesbian struggling to “pray the gay away,” and hoping to do the same for her openly gay son. The documentary is a continuation of Chaiken’s exploration of modern-day lesbian life: her groundbreaking Showtime drama series The L Word ran for six seasons on the network and followed a group of Los Angeles-based friends as they navigated careers, families, friendships, inner-struggles and romantic entanglements.

Friday, August 01, 2014

I Need to Be Myself, Can’t Be No One Else

Definitely Maybe - Oasis

The early to mid-nineties was a depressing time where there was not a less credible than actually caring. Which is what makes Oasis’s rise so remarkable. They wanted to be the biggest band in the world. They had the attitude of eighties Sunset Strip, riffs from the classic rock era of the sixties, mixes with a dash of the weirdness that alt-rock craze of the nineties. The first song off their debut album Rock ‘n’ Roll Star was a shot across the bow of the shoe gazers of the time. Hard partying, heavy drinking, and massive group infighting was back and for a brief moment, it was glorious. The band became so big, even a single of the brothers Gallagher charted in their native England.

Though the band did not become the global superstars until their second album, Definitely Maybe, this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame, was a great start with a few singles that should have broke the band stateside. There was plenty of cocksure in the rock anthem Supersonic which should have had a crossover with the Shawn Kemp led Seattle basketball team at the time. Second single Live Forever was more melancholy but still managed to rock hard. Though those two track stood out, there was not a skippable song on the album.

Oasis’s love of The Beatles is well documented and the influence is heard the most on Shakemaker which could have fit in their trippy period. And where the band showed they could rock hard (Bring it on Down actually would not have sounded out of place on the eighties Sunset Strip) the album is just as interested when the band slowed down; Digsy's Dinner is a fun jaunt though the British countryside. And while the Beatles influences are so abundant one can argue plagiarism at time, album closer Married with Children sounds like the best ballad the Davies Brothers of The Kinks never wrote.

Stuck between those two slower tracks is one of the great hidden gems of the nineties Slide Away, the most vulnerable the band is on the album but still exudes some English attitude on the track. There was plenty of hype surrounded Oasis when they came out, mostly created by the band itself, and the was finally realized with the release of the second album, most specifically Wonderwall, but you have to wonder if their hubris was also their downfall as went away Stateside as quickly as the conquered (though for those who stopped paying attention to the around the release of Be Here Now I highly recommend checking out Stop Crying Your Heart Out, the closest they got to recreating Wonderwall)but for one deleting moment everyone agreed with the Gallagher Bothers that Oasis, indeed, was the biggest and best band in the world.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Previewing Urban Jungle

We have all heard the urban legends of snakes coming out of toilets, seen on the news bears invading resort towns, and heard horror stories of coyotes eating household pets. All these stories are explored on National Geographic’s new three hour special Urban Jungle premiering this Sunday at 8:00 and will be simulcast o Nat Geo Wild. The event is hosted by big cat tracker Boone Smith who travels to big cities, the suburbs, and remote outposts to see how and why wild animals are invading human civilization.

he first hour of Urban Jungle focuses on major cities, coyotes in Chicago, leopards in Mumbai, bats in Austin, and yes, pythons lurking in the sewers on Bangkok that find their ways up through the toilets. Hour two moves out to the suburbs from the street dogs of Russia, boxing kangaroos on the golf courses of Australia, and of course those pesky raccoons. Be warned there is plenty of footage of wild animals on domestic pet violence in the episode (really on all three, there are wild bird on the prowl of small dogs in New York City). Finally, Boone heads to the outposts where towns pop up where the animals live like the tourist spot in Zimbabwe where people go to see Victoria Falls which just happens to be in the path of centuries old elephant migration path. The animals even take up in places where humans abandoned. It may still not be safe for humans to return to Chernobyl but wolves are enjoying the comforts of the abandoned buildings.

For the past century, humans have been building these sprawling cities to get away from the wildlife, but these metropolises end up enticing animals to leave the wild for a more dangerous area dominated by humans. The main reason aside from comfort (if you were a bear, would you rather hibernate in a cave or a heated basement in the suburbs) is Food. It is repeated multiple times how humans throw out half the food they buy and the wild animals are more than happy to finish off our table scraps and food left in the refrigerator long past the expiration date. So if you do not want Rocket Raccoon and his wild friends going through your garbage, actually eat everything you buy.

Urban Jungle premieres Sunday at 8:00 on National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

There’s a Little Bit of Magic, Everyone Has It

The Voyager - Jenny Lewis

Recently Jenny Lewis gave an interview with Grantland but the star of the podcast was not Lewis herself or even the interviewer Andy Greenwald, it was instead Ryan Adams who produced most of her new album The Voyager (you can download it on on iTunes). The interview started off in earnest with Lewis uncomfortably recounting the demise of her band Riley Kilo and her struggles with insomnia (ironically one of the better curse for insomnia may actually be hearing other people talking about insomnia) but the interview really picked up when Lewis started talking about working with Ryan at it Pax Am studio in Los Angeles.

As a long time fan of Adams I know the guy can be eccentric, this is a guy who started off his first solo album with an “argument with David Rawlings concerning Morrisey” and famously stopped a concert and would not continue until a fan who requested Summer Of '69 was removed from the building. In her interview told tales of how Adams refused to listen to playback (nor would let Lewis do the same) and when he told her to scream like John Lennon as he was leaving the studio for the day. This culminated with Adams adamantly telling Lewis to go home and write Wonderwall. The thing is I came away from the interview much more excited for Ryan’s upcoming self titled album coming out next month than the new Lewis album which came out this week.

That is not to say there is nothing worth checking out on The Voyager and it is hard not to see if Adams’ unorthodox recording techniques paid off. At first listen, The Voyager sound more upbeat and less folksy than her two previous solo albums and subsequent listens you can definitely tell the tracks where Adams contributes guitar like at the end of She’s Not Me. Slippery Stone even sounds like it could be an opening riff to an Adams song. It may actually be easier to pick out the non-Adams tracks for instance Just One of the Guys produced by Beck (yes that is him on backing vocals, the most overt indie-pop song which veers into annoyingly catchy with the oo-oo’s punctuated throughout the song. The better pop song may actually be the album opener Head Underwater.

The album closes with the title track which is also the song that came out of the Wonderwall request. It is an acoustic based ballad with strings, but that is as close to Wonderwall as her song gets (Lewis does point out in the interview if she could have written a Wonderwall she already would have done it). Nor does she find a way to scream like Lennon on the song as requested. It is the most different song on the album and actually does a good job wrapping up the album. Now I need to turn my attention for the release of the Ryan Adams album to see if there are any Wonderwalls or John Lennon screams. Okay, thinking about it, that would kin of make it li9ke every Ryan Adams album, one of which actually had a Wonderwall cover.

Song to Download – Head Underwater

The Voyager gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Feed Your iPod: LXXXV: Walls (Circus)

Tom Petty released a new album today and like his last couple it is good (granted the best new Tom Petty song out today is probably his contribution to Eric Clapton’s The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale), but he really has not done anything great for almost two decades. The mid-nineties was Tom Petty’s “weird period” (which was pretty weird because he has always been slightly left of center for classic rock acts) which ended with his album that served as the soundtrack for She’s the One. Maybe these songs got lost because it was a forgettable movie (Ed Burns wrote and directed the well received indie flick The Brothers McMullen and was given a bigger budget for his follow up with big name stars like Jennifer Aniston and Cameron Diaz and a soundtrack by Petty but made about as much money as his indie debut; since then Burns is forever the fourth lead in dramas but still occasionally makes indie flicks that you probably have never seen or even heard of). The standout on the soundtrack is Walls, a Phil Spector-ish song deep in layered vocals and a wall of sound (but no Indian influence despite the music video theme). After another straight rock album that was released today that was just okay, maybe Petty should get into another “weird period.”

Walls (Circus) – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Monday, July 28, 2014

I Want My Music Television: 7/28/14

There have been a couple of videos that have caught my eye lately so I thought I’d give them some love since the death of Musical Television left a void for a forum on the art form. If you are interested in buying the video through iTunes, click the title link (where available). If you are interested in buying the song, look for a link in the analysis.

URL Badman – Lily Allen

URL Badman was probably my least favorite song on the new Lily Allen album. As a wise man once said, you never beef down an d Lily going after lowly bloggers should be beneath her at this point. This is way I liked the more grown up Lily on Sheezus. But this may be the best music video with those freaky special effects.

Do You – Spoon

I am always fascinating with one-shot music video and the new Spoon one was looking like it was going to be one of the more boring ones (slow-mo also seems like creating in one shots). Then the Godzilla sized toddlers showed up at the end. Awesome.

Oblivion - Bastille

Who knew Sansa Stark could sing? Okay it is not the best song in the world. Bastille is pulling out the big guns in hopes of not being relegated to one hit wonder bin. I am not sure it will work, should have held out for Arya, but she is probably holding out for Coldplay to be in a brit-pop-rock music video.

Girl in a Country Song – Maddie and Tae

Country radio has never been that intellectually stimulating, but last year it came to a head at just how mind numbingly clichéd at just how the genre got when someone made a video how every hit talked about trucks, dirt roads to river beds at sunset, beer, and of course girls named “girl” in tight blue jeans (see Why Country Music Was Awful in 2013). To give you a sense of just how much Bro Country has taken control of country radio, there has not been a female to top the Billboard Country Airplay Chart by herself since November 2012 when Carrie Underwood did that (female featuring groups like The Band Perry and Lady Antebellum have topped the chart in the interim). Well, it took seven months after that video exposed all the clichés but the Bro Country backlash is finally starting. First in line are newcomers Maddie and Tae taking aim at the biggest country singers like Blake Shelton and Florida Georgia Line, not so subtlety referencing Bro Country’s biggest hits in their Girl in a Country Song. The song and video are fun, but not all together great or probably a game changer. But in its second week it did move up to number 45 on the Country Airplay chart.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 7/27/14

Ray Donovan: So the new FBI guy’s big deep dark secret is that he is in a Bob Segar cover band… awesome. I do have a sinking suspicion his wife may have a few bones in her closet that Ray will be able to find. At least Ray had better luck with the parole officer. It is going to be fun seeing him torment Mickey all season.

The Last Ship: Sure you have to go back and kill the drug kinpin, but at least go back to the ship, unload the monkeys, get some reinforcements, and gun power before you go back. Oh wait, this is a Michael Bay production, it is surprisingly that jut one of the soldiers was not able to take down all the drug lord stooges.
You can download The Last Ship on iTunes.

The Strain: It seemed to take the CDC a little too long to discover that all the “corpses” were no longer at the morgue. Did no one notice all those dead bodies up and leave until the CDC showed up? Oh well. At least we got one really creepy gross out scene with the little girl shooting some sort of sucker out of her mouth to kill(?) her dad Alien style.
You can download The Strain on iTunes.

Switched at Birth: I would like to preface this by saying drugs are bad, do not do drugs kiddies, but Daphne taking cocaine was the most entertaining scene in the show’s history. And at least Toby is rebounding well with a new neighbor who is shoehorned into the show as his neighbor and new, in the middle of the school year, teacher at Carlton. And you thought Tank being his new roommate was forced.
You can download Switched At Birth on iTunes.

Under the Dome: So we finally learn who killed the hot chick and it was… Junior’s uncle? Alrighty. The same uncle who made it seem like he did not recognized his former girlfriend who had not aged a day since he may have killed her too. Alrighty again. Wait does this mean we can flash forward twenty-five years and have the token hot chick resurrected?
You can stream Under The Dome on Amazon Instant Video, free for Prime users.

Pretty Little Liars: Okay, so who is this new swim team member exactly? Any new character is instantly suspicious but she got extremely fishier this week. Is she going to just turn into a new Shawnna, someone the show can claim is A only to expose a deeper conspiracy later?
You can download Pretty Little Liars on iTunes.

The Bridge: I have known that drug traffickers have been using humans as mules since Maria Full of Grace, but I was not ready to learn they are now sticking the drugs up horses to get the product shipped without detection.
You can download The Bridge on iTunes.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Best of the Week: 7/26/14

Quote of the Week: I don’t know. You believe that (expletive deleted)? I got ripped by a bunch of taco venders on bikes. (Ray Burton, The Bridge)

Song of the Week: Night Moves – Bob Segar (as sung by Ed Cochran, Ray Donovan)

Big News of the Week: Comic Con ’14: It is nerd Christmas when the meek who have inherited the cinema which is now 90% comic book adaption (and is quickly conquering the small screen numerous adoptions premiering this fall). Except Comic Con is all teases and trailers making it more like Christmas Eve where you can look at your wrapped gifts and shake them, but you do not actually get to unwrap and play with them for another couple months, or years in the case of many of the movies (coming in 2018: The Amazing Spider-Man 3, a sequel to a movie that no one liked a couple months ago!). No news that has come out of the Con has really piqued my interests yet, but still two more days to come.

Preview Picture of the Week:

“Bolero” Perception, Tuesday at 10:00 on TNT

Free Download of the Week: Break the Fall – Laura Welsh (iTunes)

New Album Release of the Week: Hypnotic Eye - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

New DVD Release of the Week: Noah

Video of the Week: Last fall ABC’s soapy new drama Betrayal failed miserably. Many people theorized that maybe it would have done better on a premium channel where they could show “the good stuff.” Well we may actually see if that is true when the similarly themed The Affair premieres October on Showtime. Instead of the big city, The Affair takes place in the vacation spot of the Hamptons and though the first trailer focus mainly on the titular deed, it does seem like there is a murder that is tied into the show (again like Betrayal). The big difference between the two shows is that, even though it is not explicitly expressed in the trailer, The Affair “will be told separately from the male and female perspectives – using the distinct memory biases to both misdirect and intrigue.” Oh yeah, and Showtime can show “the good stuff.”

Next Week Pick of the Week: Crossbones, Next Saturday at 8:00 on NBC: For those that watched the NBC mini-series, you will get to see the conclusion a little sooner than expected as the network is going to burn off the final two episodes next Saturday. Personally I found the show hard to get into because the lead on the show not named John Malkovich looked way too much like Kenny Powers to take seriously.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Around the Tubes: 7/25/14

I have gotten a plethora of cool press releases have been flooding my inbox recently that you may find interesting. This post will include blurbs on Running Wild with Bear Grylls, The Simpsons, MeatEater, PBS Arts Fall Festival, Conan, The Rossevelts: An Intimate History, The Strain, Aporkalypse 2014, FX and TNT renewals, Regal Cinemas, and James Garner.

- Here is a sneak a peek at Running Wild with Bear Grylls, premiering Monday, July 28 at 8/7 on NBC.

- Cowabunga! In celebration of its landmark acquisition of the exclusive cable and authenticated non-linear VOD rights to legendary animated comedy The Simpsons, FXX will launch a record-breaking marathon of the series on August 21, 2014. The marathon will begin August 21, 2014 at 10 AM and will conclude September 1, 2014 at 12 AM, making it the longest-running marathon in television history. For 24 hours a day, over the course of the 12 days, FXX will air 552 episodes of The Simpsons (through Season 25) as well as The Simpsons Movie (airing after episode 400), in chronological order. FXX will also launch “Simpsons World” - the ultimate Simpsons digital experience featuring enriched branded content through SimpsonsWorld.com and handheld/connected devices via FXNOW, the authenticated multi-network on-demand video service supporting FX, FXX and FXM - in October.

- Adventure, exploration and education are a few integral components that fuel the success of the award-winning program, MeatEater with Steven Rinella. Sportsman Channel, the exclusive network home for MeatEater, unveils a Season Four Recap week beginning Monday, July 28 at 7:00. The marathon leads viewers into the premiere of Season Five of MeatEater on Thursday, July 31 at 8:00.

- Entering its fourth season, the PBS Arts Fall Festival has become a Friday night fall tradition, reaching more than 33 million viewers since its conception in 2011, and underscoring PBS’ ongoing commitment to giving audiences a front-row seat and a backstage pass to the best of the arts on-air and online. The series will be hosted by Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress and accomplished singer Kristin Chenoweth beginning Friday, September 26, 2014 at 9:00(check local listings).

- TBS's late-night show Conan will welcome the cast of the Emmy®-nominated Netflix original comedy series Orange Is The New Black on Monday, Aug. 4, for their first ever late-night appearance as a group. Emmy®-nominated actresses Taylor Schilling, Laverne Cox, Uzo Aduba, Kate Mulgrew, Natasha Lyonne and series co-star Jason Biggs will all join host Conan O'Brien from Stage 15 at Warner Bros.

- Ken Burns’s 14-hour epic of an American political dynasty, The Rossevelts: An Intimate History, will premiere Sunday, September 14th from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. (ET) and run for seven consecutive nights at the same time. In addition, it will be repeated from 10:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. each night and will have a weekend, daytime marathon September 20th and 21st. Beginning on Monday, September 15th, the entire 14 hours will be available online to stream through PBS stations’ video sites, pbs.org/theroosevelts, and PBS station branded digital platforms, including ROKU, Apple TV and Xbox, and will be available for two weeks, through September 29th.

- FX’s newest hit series, The Strain, from acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro and executive producer Carlton Cuse, has a warning for the general public: They may be infected with The Strain. The Strain Transformation app is available as a free download in the iTunes and Google Play stores. Fans can discover what will happen when an ancient parasitic plague enters their system and transforms them into a monstrous vampire. From examination to diagnosis, they’ll see their transformation in seconds. The app enables the infected to quickly share photos of their results on Facebook and Twitter to inform and warn their friends of the spreading infection. It offers exclusive video and access to The Strain social media, including the official Strain Facebook and Twitter pages.

- When Brian “Pigman” Quaca decides to contribute to the eradication of the exploding feral hog population – few experts are better equipped. Beginning Monday, August 4 at 7:00, Sportsman Channel returns with a full-week of the award-winning programming stunt – Aporkalypse 2014. The entire week of expanded hog eradication takes a deep dive into the many issues associated with the feral hog epidemic. When Quaca goes airborne – the process is supremely efficient and effective. The action is unrivaled and the mode of transportation will leave viewers in shock and disbelief. With equal parts adventure and education, Aporkalypse 2014 leads into the anticipated premiere of Pigman: The Series (“Aparalypse”) on Sunday, August 10 at 8:00.

- FX has picked up a fifth season of the Emmy®-nominated comedy series Louie. The seven-episode new season from Creator/Executive Producer/Writer/Star/Director/Editor Louis C.K. will premiere in Spring 2015. In other FX renewal new, Fargo is coming back for a second season with a new cast.

- TNT has renewed three of its chart-topping summer hits: The Last Ship, Major Crimes and Falling Skies. All three dramas rank among basic cable's Top 5 scripted series this summer with total viewers and adults 25-54. They have also helped TNT score a significant lead as basic cable's #1 network in primetime for the summer-to-date.

- Let’s face it—we all love cheese and we all take selfies, so why not get some cheddar for it? From now until August 11th Regal Cinemas and Tostitos are searching for the cheesiest selfie to crown THE ROYAL CHEESIE and fly them out to Hollywood for a VIP weekend. Submit your cheesiest selfie and you'll also score free Regal Cinemas nachos, while supplies last. If we run out of free nacho coupons, don't worry, you'll still receive a coupon for $2 off free nachos. View contest details here.

- Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will remember award-winning actor James Garner on Monday, July 28, with an all-day marathon featuring 12 of his films. The lineup features Garner's performances in such movies as Toward the Unknown (1956), which marked his film debut; the racing drama Grand Prix (1966); the popular romantic comedy The Thrill of It All (1963); the Paddy Cheyefsky-penned The Americanization of Emily (1964); the groundbreaking drama The Children's Hour (1961); and the gender-bending Victor/Victoria (1982). The following is the complete schedule for TCM's tribute to James Garner.

6 a.m. – Toward the Unknown (1956) – starring William Holden, Lloyd Nolan, Virginia Leith and James Garner
8 a.m. – Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend (1957) – starring Randolph Scott, James Craig, Angie Dickinson and James Garner
9:30 a.m. – Grand Prix (1966) – starring James Garner, Eva Marie Saint, Brian Bedford and Yves Montand
12:30 p.m. – Cash McCall (1960) – James Garner, Natalie Wood, Nina Foch and Dean Jagger
2:15 p.m. – The Wheeler Dealers (1963) – starring James Garner, Lee Remick, Phil Harris and Chill Wills
4 p.m. – Darby's Rangers (1958) – starring James Garner, Etchika Choureau and Jack Warden
6:15 p.m. – Mister Buddwing (1966) – starring James Garner, Jean Simmons, Angela Lansbury and Suzanne Pleshette
8 p.m. – The Thrill of It All (1963) – starring Doris Day, James Garner and Arlene Francis
10 p.m. – The Americanization of Emily (1964) – starring Julie Andrews, James Garner, Melvyn Douglas and James Coburn
Midnight – The Children's Hour (1961) – starring Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine, James Garner and Miriam Hopkins
2 a.m. – Victor/Victoria (1982) – starring Julie Andrews, James Garner, Robert Preston and Lesley-Ann Warren
4:30 a.m. – Marlowe (1969) – starring James Garner, Rita Moreno, Sharon Farrell and Bruce Lee

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Musings from the Back 9: Music Edition XIX

Back in the early days of music, five years after a One Hit Wonder last made the charts they would be teachers, insurance salesmen, or other “real world” jobs. Thanks to the internet it is easy to prolong your fifteen minutes of fame as long as that one hit garnered you enough passionate fans. For those of us that did not become passionate fans, it is fun to give each new single a listen before going, nope; you are staying in One Hit Wonder land (Foster the People are on their seventh post Pumped Up Kicks single). It has been five years since La Roux notched their only hit Bulletproof (to be fair, In for the Kill was a hit in most of Europe) and lost half the group since then and now is essential a one person band, singer Elly Jackson. The result is a more danceable but not as interesting Trouble in Paradise. The album is more sexual with titles like Kiss and Not Tell, Cruel Sexuality, and Sexotheque. This continues on the albums best track Tropical Chaser which sounds like it heavily borrows that weird synth sound from Gorge Michael’s I Want Your Sex. Nothing on Trouble in Paradise makes me think La Roux will graduate to a two hit wonder, but will probably garner enough fans for her to try again on a third album.

Trouble in Paradise gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Common has been one of the most respected rappers in his two decade plus career but even when he aims for the pop charts like with his Be album he falls short never landing in the top 40. He is not trying on his tenth album Nobody's Smiling and as you can tell by the album title, this one is dark. This one hits hard, well as hard as an album that features Big Sean on a track. Nobody’s Smiling is reminiscent of the types of albums you would here blaring out of the windows of cars rolling urban areas around the time Common got his start of the game. The album may continue his Top 40 drought but the tenth installment fits nicely into his catalogue, Big Sean guest spot notwithstanding.

Nobody’s Smiling gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

It is a tale as old as pop culture; indie actress recruits a musician to make an album of indie pop songs. Mary Elizabeth Winstead met producer Dan the Automator (Gorillaz) during the making of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (she was Ramona Flowers, he helped with the score) and decided to start a group Got A Girl. Their debut album I Love You But I Must Drive Off This Cliff Now is heavily by French 60’s pop music which is why it has a very cinematic feel to it. Winstead’s soft and soothing yet unmemorable voice is well suited for the mellow song which would play more on an easy Sunday morning. But the best tracks are when the duo goes more upbeat like on tracks There’s a Revolution. In terms of indie actresses / indie musicians collaborations, Got a Girl falls in between Zooey Deshanel and M. Ward’s She and Him project and the album Scarlett Johansson made with Pete Yorn.

I Love You but I Must Drive Off This Cliff Now gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.