Saturday, August 13, 2011

57 Channels and Only This Is On - 8/13/11

Quote of the Week: You know what's sad: him being gay is the least of our public relations problems. (Needles – Rescue Me)

Song of the Week: Sometime it Takes Balls to be a Woman – Elizabeth Cook (Weeds)

Big News of the Week: A Melancholy Happy Trails to Jani Lane: I missed the original Warrant run because at their height I was going through my hardcore gangsta rap phase, but I have to admit whenever Cherry Pie would come on MTV I would not change the channel for obvious reasons (or the vastly underrated Uncle Tom’s Cabin which featured banjo two decades before it became en vogue). Of course by the time I got back into rock music, grunge had come and swept hair metal bands off the charts, but I can still look back and call Heaven one of the top five greatest power ballads ever in the history of the world. Sadly the world last saw Jani Lane, a guy who at one post landed one of the hottest token hot chicks ever to appear in a music video, an overweight drunken mess on the second season of Celebrity Fit Club on VH1.

Pretty Little Liars: Aria kissing a dude who takes pictures of her while she is sleeping unbeknownst to her is still not as creepy as the writers trying to make us think that her affair with her teacher is some grand love story. You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Pretty Little Liars on iTunes.

The Nine Lives of Chloe King: So was the date that turned over the pictures a My turncoat or is dude going to show up dead soon because he made out with one? Seems weird for a My to give up the Uniter to someone with plans to kill her. But I was a little surprised that mom’s boyfriend did not turn out to be evil. They always turn out to be evil. You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download The Nine Lives of Chloe King on iTunes.

Rescue Me: They could have devoted a whole episode explaining all the dirt they could have dug up on the firehouse. You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Rescue Me on iTunes.

Also check out my season reviews of Falling Skies and Switched at Birth.

Apple iTunesFree Download of the Week: Invisible - Skylar Grey

Deal of the Week: Blu-Rays for Under $10 (The Dark Knight, Watchmen, Office Space)

New Album Release of the Week: Jeff Bridges - Jeff Bridges

New DVD Release of the Week: Dexter: The Fifth Season

Video of the Week: Next up on HBO’s summer documentary series id Gloria: In Her Own Words. The Gloria in question is feminist icon Gloria Steinem who in interviewed (natch) from her Manhattan apartment as well as archival footage of her being interviewed by Barbara Walters, Helen Gurley Brown, Phil Donahue, and Larry King. Check out a trailer below:

Next Week Pick of the Week: The Lying Game, Monday at 9:00 on ABC Family: Based on the books written by the same author of Pretty Little Liars, The Lying Game also looks to offer up some of its own teen intrigue of its own. Hopefully it does not follow its predecessor by taking a promising plot and make it cumbersome to watch at times. Two things The Lying Game has going for it is the highly likeable lead actress Alexandra Chando as twin sisters separated at birth (not by a hospital mistake, but by foster care) and the best use of music in a promo in recent memory when it used Adele’s Rumour Has It for its ad campaign. Take a look at an extended promo below.

The Lying Game: 60 Second Preview

Friday, August 12, 2011

Around the Tubes - 8/12/11

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 Strike Force, Haven, Weird Vibes, Pretty Amazing Contest, Teh Big C, Nurse Jackie, California DMV, and American Horror Story.

- Cinemax may be best known (well only known) for its late night programming but the premium channel is finally starting up an original program in primetime with Strike Force about charismatic former U.S. Special Forces operative joins forces with a stealth British military unit they stop a terrorist plot. The premieres tonight at 10:00 and you can check out the first six minute below:

- Also on tonight is a new episode Haven which promises to have the first fully integrated storyline with Twitter which will last for seven episodes. As the perss release says, “In the story, Vince (Richard Donat) and Dave (John Dunsworth), who run the newspaper in Haven, join Twitter as newcomers to the medium. Viewers who follow their characters (@VinceHaven, @DaveHaven) will see them interact with a mysterious Twitter user (@ColdInHaven) who knows more about Haven – and Vince and Dave – than anyone should.” But do not worry if you are like me and find Twitter a complete waste of time, viewers unfamiliar with the micro-blogging site will still be able to enjoy the episodes.

- MTV Hive yesterday launched a new internet only show Weird Vibes and the inaugural episode profiles the hardships of being in a buzz band and features interviews with Best Coast, Au Revoir Simone, Small Black, Tanlines, Beach Fossils, Frankie and The Outs; as well as music videos from Team, Friends, Wu Lyt, Shabazz Palaces, Grimes and Vivian Girls. You can watch the full episode below:

Get More: Weird Vibes, MTV Hive

- In other MTV news (you hear it da da da, da da da, first; sorry I watched too much of the MTV Anniversery special last week), the channel has teamed up with Seventeen Magazine to honor five young woman in a half hour special premiering Tuesday August 30 at 8:00. The winner of the Pretty Amazing content will land on the cover of the October issue of Seventeen.

- If you missed some or all of the new season of The Big C, you are in luck because Showtime will be airing all seven episodes back to back starting Sunday at 2:30. In other Showtime comedy news, Nurse Jackie will be welcoming Bobby Cannavale for its fourth season in all ten episodes as a hospital administrator. Look for the episodes to air in 2012.

- Just when you thought basic cable networks have run out of menial jobs to exploit for reality television, TruTV has announced they will be setting one in a California DMV. Keep in mind this is from the Ashton Kutcher production company so this may just be the most elaborate Punk’d ever.

- Last week I shared the first two “clues” for the upcoming American Horror Story, since then FX has released a bunch more, here are the links. And for anyone wondering who that is singing Tainted Love, her name is Hannah Peel.

Clue #3 – Couple
Clue #4 – Coffin
Clue #5 – Lying Down
Clue #6 – Fire

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Jay is Chillin’, ‘Ya Is Chillin’, What More Can I Say?

Download Watch the Throne by Jay-Z and Kanye West on iTunes

Jay-Z and Kanye West first teamed up when West produced Jay’s Izzo off the original Blueprint album and the decade long partnership saw West produce at least one track on all of Jay’s albums since while Jay has jumped on multiple of Kanye’s songs. This included four songs recorded for West’s recent My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, two that made the album, two relegated to the free G.O.O.D. Friday downloads on Kanye’s website.

The duo parlayed that output with a new group The Thone and the appropriately titled Watch the Throne album. If you forget the album title, do not worry, Kanye mentions it in about every other song. The collaboration continues that pattern of both rappers embracing indie rock, Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver), who was all over Fantasy contributes to one song on Throne. And it is also felt right off the bat with the menacing No Church in the Wild featuring an auto-tuned Frank Ocean, despite Jay declaring its death just two years ago. Ocean (no relation to Billy) also shows up for a heartfelt chorus on Made in America (which may or may not be a epilogue to West’s Who Will Survive in America that closed out his last album).

It is not all doom and gloom like their last solo albums; the duo goes old school, really old school, on Otis, which has less to do with the late singer than the pair trying to out-boast each other. Jay-Z starts things off by trying to convince us that he invented swag (a reanimated corpse of Frank Sinatra may have something to say about that) while Kanye thinks he is going to have a get out of hell free card because he performed Jesus Walks. Even with all that over the top braggadocios, the true star of the track remains the Otis Redding sample of Try a Little Tenderness that overshadows the two rappers and is automatically in the discussion of greatest use of a rap sample of all time. OF ALL TIME!!!

If Try a Little Tenderness is the best sample on the album, the weirdest goes to Will Ferrell, no, not Anchorman, or even Ricky Bobby, but (Expletive Deleted) in Paris lifts lines from the ice skating comedy Blades of Glory and Kanye places them over Dr. Dre style staccato beats. Really, the production is the all-star on the album. RZA flips Nina Simone’s Feeling Good into a haunting chorus on New Day. West and Q-Tip create some fuzzy drums out of the classic sample Apache from the Incredible Bongo Band for That’s My (Expletive Deleted) and is taken to another with a chorus from La Roux’s Elly Jackson. While Swizz Beats makes the most out of a weird “la la la” chant for Murder to Excellence. It is a shame the rapping does not live up to the production. Even the usually quoteworthy West seems to be overwhelmed to trade verses with his mentor Jay-Z who has been living mostly off of great production since his unretirement.

Song to Download – Otis

Watch the Throne gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I Want My Music Television - 8/10/11

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.

Cry Baby – Cee-Lo Green

My favorite part of the new Cee-Lo video: when not-Laura Winslow gets a befuddled, why did Urkel just break out in song and choreographed dance with a street full of people face.

Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera

When I first heard this song by Maroon 5 I thought do any chivks really want a dude with moves like Jagger? I always though why chick went for Mick Jagger was because he was rich and famous. I don’t Bob the bus driver who can move like Jagger is not getting many more chicks because of it. But anyway. For all the pervs out there that would get excited over a couple half seconds of naked women, there is an unedited version of this video.

Rise Above 1 – Reeve Carney featuring Bono and The Edge

The U2 Spiderman musical has been universally panned but you would figure at the very least the music would be good, but I am not sure if their collaboration with Spiderman himself Reeve Carney is even good enough to be on the Pop album. Hopefully their album with Danger Mouse comes out sooner than later so I can forget about this song.

Comeback Kid (That's My Dog) - Brett Dennen

Is it too late to nominate Comeback Kid by Brett Dennen the song of the summer? It is absurdly catchy and the video even features baseball. Plus how can you not get behind a white dude with thick read hair who turns That’s My Dog into a catchphrase?

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

This Is the Most Rocking Game of Charades Ever

The cast of Switched at Brith

Aw, summer television. When else can a show entitled Switched at Birth become a viable option to watch? The title alone makes it sounds like it would be better suited to be a Lifetime movie than an actual series. But considering that I am deaf and was switched at birth (okay, only one of those is remotely true) I felt obligated to tune in. Plus I wanted to see how, or even if, they would explain how someone did not realize that their kid was of a different ethnicity (granted I am still waiting Big Love to explain how the original Hendrickson’s managed to have three kids with three different hair colors).

As it turns out, at least one of the parents actually realize that the blonde kid may not actually be his which means the others are pretty much idiots. Not that I expect someone who tried to hook up with her son and JD McCoy’s father to be a MENSA members but just because a distant relative was Italian does not explain a half Italian half Hispanic daughter when you are both very WASPy.

Bad parenting aside, Switched at Birth managed not to so bad its good, or really even just plain bad at times. Sure there were some overtly primetime soap clichés like gambling additions, the warring mothers, the boy from the wrong side of the tracks, and the most egregious soap cliché which went into high gear in the finale and will no doubt carry into the next season: the love triangle between the girls that were switched at birth. But the show managed to find a heart that other new shows this summer never found (see yesterday’s Falling Skies season review). Katie Leclerc (who’s first acting gig was ironically on the episode of Veronica Mars where Mac learned she was switched at birth with Madison Sinclair) was a great find as the deaf Daphne and it is hard not to root for her on the show. While Vanessa Marano is, well, entertaining in a mini-Eliza Dushku kind of way. Hopefully ABC Family is smart enough to hold off new episodes until next summer because much like last year’s Pretty Little Liars, the show probably is not good enough to catch when it is up against real competition.

Switched at Birth 1.x gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Being the Leader of a Post-Apocalyptic Gang of Outlaws Has Been Exhausting

The cast of Falling Skies; just do not ask me their names

Spielberg! Aliens! The Dude from ER! It was hard not to get excited for the Falling Skies (well maybe not the Noah Wiley part) as producer Steven Spielberg made the most beloved alien movie of all time. Of course the aliens in Falling Skies did not come in peace or for Reese’s Pieces. But the problem with the television is that unlike the eighties movies, he was unable to create any likeable characters. Ten episodes later and the only one I can name off the top of my head is Pope (even worse, I do not even care enough to look the other ones up), yet almost thirty years later I can still recall Elliot and Gertie.

Where Falling Skies lacked in character development, it almost made up for with its sci-fi parts of the storytelling. The skidder upped the creep factor whenever crawled across the screen with their menacing four legs and only became creepier when we saw them cuddling with the children they kidnapped (which it looks like the harnesses that are put on the kids are turning them into skidders, which begs the question, will they grow two more legs or are the skidders a different entity). Then you had the nearly indestructible mechs with their sonic boomsticks. Although the aerodynamic aliens shown to be controlling the skidders like pets: not so scary looking.

Watching the final two episodes of the inaugural season of Falling Skies, I could not help but think about the first season finale of Lost where we spent two hour trouncing around the island looking for dynamite and kidnapped Aaron only for the episode to end with us not being able to see what was down the hatch. The first hour of Falling Skies seemed like a stall tactic while we are forced to watch a power struggle between Noah Wiley and the commanding officer while we are left screaming at the television, just bomb the alien structure already. And much like Lost, we leave the season with the biggest question unanswered, in this case why are the aliens here? I was expecting the chick from Veronica Mars to interpret their masterplan James Bond villain style in that last scene but it never came.

But it was that last scene which will be the reason to tune in next season (well that and much like this year, it’s not like there is anything much better on in the summer). What do the aliens want with Noah? How long do they plan to keep him? Will the resistance try to rescue him? Will they tell him their masterplan Dr. Evil style? Will we care about them more any anyone else in the cast? I am almost excited for next season. Almost.

Falling Skies 1.x gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.