Saturday, September 24, 2011

Best of the Week - 9/24/11

Quote of the Week: You can’t ruin a friendship with sex. That’s like ruining ice cream with chocolate sprinkles. (Raj, The Big Bang Theory)

Song of the Week: Let's Hear It for the Boy – Deniece Williams (Modern Family)

Scene of the Week:

Big News of the Week: Winners and Losers of Week One: The biggest loser has to be Simon Cowell who’s ego thought he was the reason that tuned into American Karaoke but his new show The X-Factor, which is basically his old show for older people, did not even come close to what his former show did without him last season. The big winner was comedy. After years of people talking about the demise of the sitcom, both Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory beat the heavily hyped X-Factor head to head while the Charlie Sheen-less Two and a Half Men pulled in the most eyeballs this week and helped 2 Broke Girls become the most watched sitcom premiere in a decade (to show you how bad sitcoms have gotten, the last show that premiered that high was Inside Schwartz), while over cable the Charlie Sheen helped his Comedy Central Roast to record breaking ratings. Cancel watch is out for NBC’s The Playboy Club and Free Agents while the surprise hit of the season goes to ABC’s Revenge, but one has to wonder how the rating will be next week when Happy Endings is its lead in instead of Modern Family.

Free Download of the Week: Love the way You Walk Away – Blitzen Trapper (rcrdlbl): Check out my review of their album American Goldwing: You Might Find it Cheap, but You're Never Gonna Find it Free.

Deal of the Week: The Big Bang Theory for $18.99

New Album Release of the Week: The Whole Love (Limited Deluxe Edition) - Wilco

New DVD Release of the Week: Married...With Children - The Complete Series (note that as I write this, the set is listed at $39.99 so if my math is correct, that comes to 15 cents per episode.)

Video of the Week: One of the great “insert name here” song in recently memories is Barbra Streisand and mash-up artists have take the Duck Sauce song and ran with it inserting everyone from Michael Jackson to Gerry Rafferty into the song. Now Luis Guzman has gotten into the action to promote the return of his show How to Make It in America (returning next Sunday at 10:30) complete with its own video with many see if you can spot them cameos. HBO has also released a mixtape in celeb ration of the new season which you can stream or download on the show’s Facebook page featuring artists like Little Dragon, the Joy Formidable and more.

Next Week Pick of the Week: Pan Am, Sunday at 10:00: Watching the first episode of Pan Am made me wonder air travel has actually gotten worse over the past forty years. If an airplane experience was more like it is depicted on Pan Am than it was today, maybe I would not have a B.A. Baracus affliction to flying. But anyway. You can check out my preview of Pan Am here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Around the Tubes - 9/23/11

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 Boardwalk Empire, Alphas, Weeds, The Big C, Troubadour, TX, Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura, What's Trending, RÖKK, Shape, Redbook, Klout, and the Smithsonian Channel.

Boardwalk Empire returns to HBO this Sunday at 9:00, here is what you can expect from the second season:

- The first season of Alphas comes to an end this Monday on Syfy. Here is a sneak peak of the team as they go up against Red Flag.

Original Sin

- In other season finale news, Weeds and The Big C wrap up their seasons this Monday on Showtime.

- New show alert! Troubadour, TX debuts September 23 and 24 on most CW stations (check local listings for times) which follows the lives and careers of most than a dozen singers and songwriters from the Lone Star State.

- For the third season of Conspiracy Theory, Jesse Ventura and his team will be hitting the road and will be joined by his son Tyrel as well as Oliver Stone’s offspring Sean this time around. Look out for the eight new episodes in 2012 (assuming that the conspiracy theory about the world ending turns out not to be true).

- Common recently went on What’s Trending to talk about his new book where he talked about his new book One Day It'll All Make Sense as well as his views on homosexuality growing up, how it's up to US to change the state of “political warfare” and what he's most proud of from Hip Hop. Check out the interview below:

- Because every rapper needs their own vodka, The Lonely Island Boys are now the creative directors for RÖKK. Check out a preview of their first video.

- In the October issue of Shape magazine, Erin Andrews from ESPN demonstrates the latest workout craze, CrossFit. Check out a photo of her below:

Erin Andrews in Shape

- Also on newsstands this October is Redbook which will feature an interview with Buddy Valastro of Cake Boss with topics like the funniest cake request and what his life is like off camera.

- With the new television season just started, has counted down the ten most influential shows (though it looks to have a big slant towards summer shows).

- October is music month on the Smithsonian Channel and here is a rundown of what you can expect:

PHIL COLLINS: GOING BACK TO DETROIT premieres Sunday, October 2 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. This hour-long special features the music from Collin’s first solo album in eight years. It recounts the major influence that Motown music had on a young Phil Collins as he was finding his musical voice, and follows him on a journey to rediscover the roots of the Motown Sound. Teaming up with The Funk Brothers, three original Detroit session guitarists, Collins records his new album of Motown hits "Going Back," featuring some of Motown’s greatest songs including Dancing in the Streets, Nowhere to Run, My Girl and Papa Was A Rolling Stone . The program shows exclusive footage of Collins preparing for the album's accompanying concert tour.

The hour-long THE REAL WORLD OF PETER GABRIEL, premiering Sunday, October 9 at 8 p.m. ET/PT , was inspired by the 20th Anniversary of Gabriel's Real World Records and the release of his collaborative album "Big Blue Ball." This record was a result of some of the legendary 'Real World Recording Weeks' which took place in the 1990s, where musicians from all over the world got together and made music. The film gives an insight into the extraordinary atmosphere in which these sessions were held and also Real World's process of recording with producers and artists who come from different cultural backgrounds. The filmmakers spent time at Real World going through the archives and filming interviews with key staff, including Gabriel.

The international explosion of hip-hop culture and rap music is explored in the award- winning HIP-HOP: THE FURIOUS FORCE OF RHYMES, making its INSIDE THE MUSIC premiere on Friday, October 21 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel. The film traverses four continents and six countries, looking at hip-hop as trans-national protest music. Rap has found kindred souls in people as diverse as African Activists, Israeli Jews, French Arabs and even German skinhead punks, all of whom share a common musical language. Recognizing themselves in the oppression of American blacks, people in various parts of the world have adapted the music born on the streets of New York to their own causes.


THE SWEET LADY WITH THE NASTY VOICE - Saturday, October 1 at 8 p.m. ET/PT - The story of the first lady of rockabilly and one of Elvis’s girlfriends – rock 'n' roll pioneer Wanda Jackson. As Rolling Stone said: "Jackson was the first to bring a woman’s intuition into the boy’s club of early rock-n-roll." The film follows the Grammy Award nominee and legendary singer as she performs in Maine, Austin, New York City, Oklahoma City, Washington, D.C., and overseas in Sweden and Finland.

THE ACCORDION KINGS - Friday, October 7 at 8 p.m. ET/PT - This is the story of the traditional beat at the heart of Latin America’s richest music, featuring an exclusive performance and interview with pop star and Grammy winner Carlos Vives as well as behind the scene footage of the legendary Vallenato Festival. In Colombia’s northern Magdalena Valley, "valley music" is the rage and the accordion is king. Even mega pop stars Shakira and Gloria Estefan have fused this rhythm into their songs. Every 10 years, Colombia’s top accordion virtuosi gather in the market town of Valledupar to compete in a fierce musical battle to decide who among them is the undisputed Accordion King.

ALL YOU NEED IS KLAUS - Saturday, October 8 at 8 p.m. ET/PT - A journey into the incredible life of Klaus Voormann. Respected as one of the finest bass guitarists of all time, Voormann is best known for his association with the most popular and most influential band in rock ‘n roll history, The Beatles. ALL YOU NEED IS KLAUS also features Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr,Carly Simon, and Randy Newman. Joe Walsh and Simon are also interviewed in the film, with Simon recounting Voormann’s influence on her big hit, You’re So Vain.

WORLDS OF SOUND: THE BALLAD OF FOLKWAYS - Friday, October 14 at 8 p.m. ET/PT - Folkways Records founder Moses Asch turned the music business model on its head. He avoided hit makers and catered to unknown musicians. He dug into vanishing traditions around the world to harness music and sounds that inspire people. Artists like Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly can still be heard on this original indie label.

ELECTRIFIED: THE GUITAR REVOLUTION – Sunday, October 23 at 8 p.m. ET/PT - Without it, there would be no Hendrix, Clapton, The Beatles or rock n’ roll for that matter. This 60-minute high-wattage history lesson salutes the inventors, pioneers and gods of the electric guitar. The electric guitar was invented to be heard among the brass instruments of the big band era, but it soon took on a sound and life of its own. From the early days of the Model U and the Frying Pan to the guitar wars of Fender and Gibson, experience its evolution through vintage footage, interviews with rock historians, and rousing live performances. Virtuosos like G.E. Smith of the Saturday Night Live Band bring to life the sound innovations of the electric guitar.

PLAY ON, JOHN: A LIFE IN MUSIC - Friday, October 28 at 8 p.m. ET/PT - Before Bob Dylan and the Band, there was John Cohen. Almost more than anyone else, he saved and celebrated traditional American Folk Music. Many believe that he is the inspiration for the Grateful Dead’s famous song “Uncle John's Band.” An American treasure, he is a musician, a painter, a documentary filmmaker, print maker and a photographer.

MAKING THE MONKEES - Sunday, October 23 at 8 p.m. ET/PT - Making the Monkees follows the story of four young men with varying degrees of musical talent who landed parts on a new TV series about a fictional band. That band went on to outsell The Beatles and Elvis Presley combined in 1967. But their success was short-lived, and their downfall was as fast as their rise to stardom.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Previewing Pan Am

The cast of Pan Am

After the ratings came in for The Playboy Club, I am sure there were many executives out there who thought to themselves, maybe it was not a very good idea to make a network television show inspired by a cable one that only gets about two million viewers per episode. And Pan Am, premiering Sunday, actually could have very well been a Mad Men spin-off from the episode where Don Draper nailed a stewardess from the airlines a couple seasons ago, the new show even features a character with the penchant of hooking up with the local Don Draper in-between flights.

Oh yeah, and imagine the stewardess Draper bedded also moonlights for the CIA, and then you have Pan Am. Before you groan implausibility; executive producer, and former Pan Am stewardess, Nancy Hutt Ganis says the airline employees as covert operatives contribute to the series’ authenticity claiming, “It was suspected but not discussed.” And do not think this plot twist will turn the series into Charlie's Angels in the sky because Kelli Garner (Taking Woodstock), the stewardess the CIA taps is no Sydney Bristow. She’s barely season one Chuck Bartowski.

This plot also looks to set up a Forrest Gumpian way the cast cross path with big moments in history, the crew even touches down in the Bay of Pigs in the first episode. I am guessing it is only a matter of time before we run into The Beatles, who famously used the airline on the first trip to the States and Frank Abagnale Jr., the real life character Leonardo DiCaprio played in Catch Me If You Can, who spent four years masquerading as a Pan Am pilot.

Margot Robbie fills out her Pan Am uniform nicelyAlso onboard for the ride are Christina Ricci (Mermaids), the rebel one who is reinstated in time for the show’s first flight after being suspended for forgetting to wear her girdle. One has to wonder, with Pan Am stewardess being forced into retirement from the profession when they get married or turn thirty-two, will this affect Ricci’s character since the actress turns that age next February in real life or will she be playing younger than that for the run of the show? The previously mentioned character who attracts Don Draper types in every new city is played by Karine Vanasse (Midnight in Paris) whose thick French accent may have reaching for the closed caption button. The token new stewardess and Garner’s younger sister is played by Australian Margot Robbie in her first job stateside and Margot rivals Amber Heard for the award of the hottest new token hot chick on television this season.

Unlike Eddie Cibrian who blatantly steals everything about Don Draper right down to his speech patterns, the men of Pan Am thankfully do not even try. Mike Vogel (The Help) is a new breed of pilot, the one’s that came before him all flew in World War II, on his first day as the first in command who is dating one of the stewardesses and hopes to get her to retire, and not because of her age. His second in command is Michael Mosley (Justified) who has a lot of fun at his new boss.

For those wondering the show starts to feel claustrophobic being featured inside an airplane, there is fair amount of flashbacks in the first episode though it is unclear if this will be a running theme in the show or just exposition into the background of the characters for the first episode, but considering flashbacks make up about forty percent of the Pilot, I am guessing the former. With the flashbacks and novice espionage angle, Pan Am has set up an interesting premise assuming they do not quickly devolve into a guess which famous historical figure show up this week type of show. Even then, seeing Margot Robbie in that uniform every week may be worth tuning in every week anyway.

Pan Am airs Sundays at 10:00 on ABC. You will be able to stream episodes after they air over at Hulu.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Musings From the Back 9: New Shows Edition

Amber Heard, Naturi Naughton, and Leah Renee fill outn their bunny costumes on The Playboy Club

The Playboy Club

When every critic bemoaned that The Playboy Club was simply just a simple Mad Men rip off, I came to the show’s (and the upcoming Pan Am, look for the review tomorrow) defense saying The Playboy Club was a rip off of Mad Men because they were set in the same time period would be like saying Mad Men was a rip off of American Dreams. But now that I have seen the first episode, Eddie Cibrian (Invasion) completely steal Don Draper’s cadence is really distracting and it is not a good sign for the show that Cibrian’s speech managed to be more distracting than Amber Heard (Hidden Palms) in, or out, of her bunny costume. Sure if there is anyone who can reach Don Draper level of douchebag, it is Cibrian who does not even need to act to pull it off, but he did not need to also copy his speech patterns.

It is also not a very good sign when Heard is your strongest actor on the show. The other bunnies range from bland to over the top to painful to watch. Jenna Dewan-Tatum (Melrose Place) falls in the latter category as a bunny that is dating the bartender who, surprise, is not happy that he has to watch his girlfriend get ogled every night. Laura Benanti (Starved) is the house bunny whose lip syncing was so distractingly bad, I thought I was watching an episode of Glee. Naturi Naughton (3LW) is simply the token black chick who says something sassy at the end of every scene.

Even though she came across as only a caricature of a Playboy bunny, Leah Renee (Runaway) started out by having the only interesting part of the first episode, hiding a deep dark secret from her co-workers. Was she some sort of Gloria Steinem undercover spy? Did she have some vendetta against Hugh Hefner and was using the job to get to him? Nope. Her husband is gay (and she may or may not be a lesbian, it is unclear at this point) and is the leader of some underground gay homosexual society. What?

The Playboy Club airs Mondays at 10:00 on NBC. You can stream recent episodes over at You can also download The Playboy Club on iTunes.

2 Broke Girls

Ever since they broke up How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory, neither has really shared a timeslot with anything else worth watch. 2 Broke Girls (when it moves to 8:30 next week) looks to break that trend. Kat Dennings (Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist) is the queen of snark and if Beth Behrs (American Pie Presents: The Book of Love) can find some subtleties in her socialite character could be the breakout star of the television season. And who knew Garrett Morris was still alive? But they need to find a new cook because dude got annoying quick. Is Vic Tayback available for the role? (Wait, unlike Morris, he actually is dead? Nevermind.) But I really like the running tally of money at the end of the episode and I have a feeling that number will go down almost as many times it goes up.

2 Broke Girls airs Mondays on CBS. You can stream recent episodes over at


Whitney Cummings (Comedy Central Roasts) created two shows on the schedule this fall and just based on first impressions only, she clearly chose to star in the wrong show. 2 Broke Girls was filled with laugh and set up an interesting premise for the future. Whitney is a bland relationship sitcom from the nineties that tries to update the format with unfunny crass jokes. The show is also reminiscent of crappy sitcoms that NBC usually orders for midseason but ends up burning off during the summer (100 Questions, Friends With Benefits). The only thing you can get coming away from the show is wondering just how bad is the Chelsea Hander sitcom that Whitney made it to air first is. A couple years back NBC tried to launch a Wednesday comedy block before it moved 30 Rock to Thursday about two weeks later and dropped the other one. I would not be at all surprised is either Up All Night or Free Agents (hopefully the latter) gets the Whitney timeslot before we start handing out candy to trick or treaters.

Whitney premieres Thursday at 9:30 on NBC. You will be able to stream episodes over at You will also be able to download Whitney on iTunes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sing Like We Used to, Dance When You Want To

The Reckoning - Needtobreathe

Had Jeff Probst not pulled the names Ozzy and Coach out of his hat as which former contestants would go for redemption on the new season of Survivor, the Bing Crosby / Davie Bowie Award for most random pairing may have gone to Needtobreathe who opened up for Taylor Swift on her latest tour. Swift is best known for her diary style lyrics set against shiny country-pop music while Needtobreathe leaned toward roots rock. But if you headed out to see the Speak Now Tour, before Swift brought out her Broadway style show there were just four dudes with nothing but the instruments they played.

You would think Needtobreathe would be more a fit to tour with fellow Carolinian sibling fronted band The Avett Brothers, but you cannot fault Bear (vocals) and Bo (guitars) for not passing on playing to packed arena across the country all summer even if over half the attendees were teen girls. The Brothers Rinehart are taking the momentum of the tour and putting it behind their fourth studio album The Reckoning

Though high on passion like The Avett Brothers both on stage and in the studio, Needtobreathe is a more traditional band with traditional instrumentation where banjo are usually used as song accents, not the lead instrument. The Reckoning actually starts out with one of their more adventurous tracks Oohs and Ahhs filled with distortion and the first in a minor key for the group before settling into their more rootsy songs.

Since they do not take as many chances as some of their contemporaries, there is not the high payoff like the recent Mumford & Sons album, Needtobreathe comes closest to them on A Place Only You Can Go but is much sweeter than any songs Marcus Mumford has written so far. Drive All Night gives me a classic Bob Seger vibe. Wanted Man sours with Viva la Vida style vocals that close out the song. While Maybe They Are on to Us may be the most haunting the band has ever been and stands out as one of the better tracks because of it. But the high water mark on the album is Able. The band has bad much of its success on the Christian charts even if their lyrics are not at all overtly religious, but Able is the closest the band has sounded in going to church, but do so in a way that a U2 song does (the title track comes in a close second in this category). But none of the songs really stick out too much like other bands that have taken the Americana flag in recent years and ran with it. But The Reckoning is a good placeholder while waiting on the next Avett Brothers or Mumford and Sons albums to be released.

Song to Download – Able

The Reckoning gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I Want My Music Television - 9/19/11

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.

What You Want - Evanescence

Rock is slowly dying to the point that I am almost looking forward to the new Evanescence album. And from the first single, it sounds like they are going heavier than their last one. But someone should have told Amy Lee in the five years since she last recorded an album, the raccoon eyes have gone out of style.

Body and Soul - Tony Bennett & Amy Winehouse

Is it wrong when I see Amy Winehouse in this video I can’t help but think she looks like an extra from Jersey Shore? Too soon?

Even if I Don’t – Rachael Yamagata

It is weird to think of her decade long career, Rachael Yamagata has yet to rack up a hit yet. Even though she makes solid videos, she has not made that one ultra catchy song that her peers manage to write. Of course if this were the nineties, this would be the type of video that would have gotten overplayed on MTV enough to make it a hit. Awe, I mss those days.

Young Blood - The Naked and Famous

I was going to post The Naked and Famous new video for The Sun but it lived up to at least half the band’s name and I could not find an edited so I will take this time to share their older song Young Blood which had it not been for Foster the People, would have won the Peter Bjorn and John Award for catchiest indie pop song of the summer. It is really hard to beat a song out for that award that features a whistle solo.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

57 Channels and Only This Is On - 9/18/11

Quote of the Week: I know there’s alcohol at high school parties, I watched Friday Night Lights. (Max, Parenthood)

Song of the Week: Everlasting Light / Tighten Up – The Black Keys (Free Agents)

Big News of the Week: The Fall Television Season Starts this Week: I am still trying to figure out how I am going to watch six hours of television on Monday alone. Here’s hoping something gets canceled.

The Lying Game: I guess it is not that surprising, I guessed it early on, but we actually got confirmation that the parents knew the twins mother who is now in some mental hospital. Now I wonder if maybe if Heroes guy or the other guy will turn out to be the father. You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download The Lying Game on iTunes.

Weeds: It has so long since they talked about him, I completely forgot Stevie even existed. But then again the show likes to randomly bring up characters they forgot about like when Heilia showed up a couple weeks ago.

Parenthood: I am not one to comment on people’s looks, glass houses and all, but whoever is the hairstylist on the show needs to be fired for whatever she put on top Haddie’s head. And if that was the actress’ decision, they should kill her off for that. There is no excuse for a bad perm mixed with a Jheri curl in 2011. You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Parenthood on iTunes.

Sons of Anarchy: Holy Machete sighting! The Sons better okay that deal because that is one dude I do not want on his bad side. Interesting both Clay and Jax are using the deal to get themselves out of the crew, even more interesting would be if the rest of the club kills the deal as I am not sure they have the votes right now. You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Sons of Anarchy on iTunes.

Survivor: South Pacific: Last season, Survivor brought back two of my least favorite contestants of all time and ended up with the worst season ever in the history of the show. So this season at least had to start out better, right? Except the brought in one of those hated contestants nephew and I could have listed a hundred Survivor contestants before I would have guessed they would bring Ozzy back. But I guess I have to admit this season got off to a more entertaining start even if the eye candy was significantly down this season. Unfortunately the focus was still focused on the returning Survivors with only the unlikeable pot dealer and Cochran, who tries way too hard the only ones sticking out so far. Them and Russell’s nephew who weirdly is holding a grudge against the lingerie football player (wait, did I really write that as a profession) simply for being hot. You can stream recent episodes over at

Survivor on iTunes

Free Agents: A solid start, but the show really needs more Giles in future episodes. As for the show that preceded it, I refuse to watch anything called Up All Night that does not involve Rhonda Shear. You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Free Agents on iTunes.

Free Download of the Week: Bonus EP - Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band (iTunes): Bob Seger is one of the last iTunes holdout, though only a pair of live albums are the only things available to download from him currently, there is also this free six song EP.

Deal of the Week: Wilco Albums for $5 Each: With their new album The Whole Love being released later this month, for the month of September you can get every previous Wilco studio album for just five dollars (even though A Ghost is Born is not on the page, it is also that price, you just have to search for it).

New Album Release of the Week: Pearl Jam Twenty (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

New DVD Release of the Week: Happy Endings: The Complete First Season: Since Sony Television was nice enough to send this set along, let me saw a few things about it. First, for those that watched the first season and wondered why Dave was still moving out of Alex’s apartment in the middle of the season, the episodes on the DVD are ordered the way they were originally intended to air including the mysterious thirteenth episode that did not air during the first season but ABC randomly aired a couple weeks ago. Extra include some pre-air specials from and about ten minutes of deleted scenes including one where it tells you why the wedding crasher showed up half naked and in rollerblade. Also the Osama bin Laden joke, that was removed when the episode aired a week after he was killed, has been restored.

Video of the Week: New episode of Border Wars tonight on the National Geographic Channel at 10:00. Check out a preview below:

Smuggler’s Tunnel

Next Week Pick of the Week: The Playboy Club, Monday at 10:00 on NBC: I recently received a press release claiming The Playboy Club is receiving the least amount of buzz of shows airing on network this fall (along with Glee and Charlie’s Angel; while Chuck, Supernatural, and Fringe are the most buzzed about according to this list, alrighty) so let me give it a little love before joining the long list of failed NBC shows. Though I do not know how a show that is probably going to be heavily promoted during Sunday Night Football the night before and features hot chicks in bunny outfits can fail. But then again NBC could not use SNF to turn Friday Night Lights into a hit, so it is possible.