Saturday, September 07, 2013

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 9/7/13

Quote of the Week: I think about her in a special way. (Steven Linder, The Bridge)

Song of the Week: James Franco – Hoodie Allen (Comedy Central Roast of James Franco)

Big News of the Week: James Franco gets Roasted: It became pretty clear that the reason why James Franco and his buddies agreed to this is because they thought with a name like “Roast” they thought there would be plenty of weed readily available. And clearly there was because half the dais seemed very high. Or maybe Jonah Hill really is a great actor because there is no way he actually thought all those jokes were that funny. There were a lot of high concept sets at this roast, of course Bill Hader did a character because I do not think he has ever delivered a joke as himself ever, Hill did a whole set of backhanded compliments, and Andy Sandberg was unfunny as usual but this time around it seemed to be intentional (but not nearly as entertaining as when Norm McDonald did it at the Bob Saget roast). Aziz Ansari probably had the bet set because he came late on the bill and seemed legitimately offended at all the jokes lobbed his way and hit back hard. But since the roasters were actual friends of the mark, this was much more enjoyable than the last couple Roasts. Hopefully Comedy Central continues this trend and does not go back to

Preview Picture of the Week:

"Straw" Sons of Anarchy

Under the Dome: As soon as Barbie said he was going to get the car, I thought to myself, “You moron, Big Jim is just going to kill the two.” And of course he did. Even worse, instead of shooting Barbie in the back when he had the chance, Big Jim waits until he is in arm length to tell him he is going to kill him, giving Barbie the chance to disarm Big Jim before pulling the trigger. I do not know if the writers are idiots for this or if they just think the people watching are morons. I guess that says something about me that I continue to watch.
You can stream Under The Dome exclusively on Amazon Instant Video, free for Prime members.

Siberia: Like every bad horror movie, they just had to go into the locked room where the weird sounds were coming from. It turns out there they are in some The Island of Doctor Moreau type place. While back at the original camp, the natives (I assume) are giving off a very The Others from Lost vibe. Of course that turned out to be completely anticlimactic. I take it whatever took down the beacon tower is their version of the Smoke Monster. Ug. This season has to be ending soon, The Blackllist starts up in two weeks. So I guess only two more episodes. Hopefully there is not a multi-hour finale because I am ready for this show to end.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Siberia on iTunes.

The Bridge: After the first scene, I was hoping for a full David Tate flashback episode to show us how he went from an FBI agent who just lost his wife and kid to this criminal mastermind. Unfortunately instead we got a couple more creepy scenes with Linder. For a second there, I though Marco’s wife was going to be killed with grenade in her hand, instead Marco was smart enough to take it from her and throw it away. And I wonder if Charlotte really thinks her tunnel ordeal is over. Clearly either that lady was not the top boss or there will be someone else who will quickly replace her, probably the dude with the crazy eyes.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download The Bridge on iTunes.

Free Download of the Week: Frog Trouble Fun Pack (Noise Trade): Cartoonist Sandra Boynton and songwriter Michael Ford have written and produced five book and CD sets and their latest is country themed Frog Trouble twelve songs from well know artists. You can grab this three song sampler from Kacey Musgraves, Ryan Adams, and Ben Folds. If you are feeling generous for the free, 80% of tips will go to St. Jude Hospital. This is a must download if you have young kids so you can indoctrinate them with some good music otherwise they may grow up and in around twenty-years may be seen grinding on Alan Thicke’s grandson and / or a foam finger on national television.

Deal of the Week: 100 Albums for $5: Amazon has another set of $5 albums this month including greatest hits albums from Stevie Wonder, N.W.A., Van Morrison and Jay-Z.

New Album Release of the Week: The Electric Lady - Janelle Monae

New DVD Release of the Week: Homeland: The Complete Second Season

Video of the Week: In most frat movies, the dean ends up being the antagonist, but it looks like in Neighbors, the frat will be the bad guys with Seth Rogan and Rose Byrne as the protagonists. As with most comedy trailers, this could be another case where all the funny jokes are in the trailer, but I did laugh pretty hard at the airbag gag.

Next Week Pick of the Week: Sons of Anarchy, Tuesday at 10:00 on FX: It is finally here, the return of fall television. Okay, it returns more like a drip for another two weeks until the bulk of new seasons starts on the 23rd. As for the penultimate season of Sons of Anarchy, I am hoping for a lengthy “Previously On” package because I am having a little trouble remembering what happening. I vaguely remember Tata getting arrested for helping Otto kill Donal Logue’s sister. Or maybe it was just heading that way. I am pretty sure Clay is still alive even though he should have died two to three seasons ago. Other that that it is a little fuzzy. Oh and as pictured above, Matt Sarasen's mom will be making an appearance this season.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Around the Tubes: 9/6/13

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 Sons of Anarchy, The Voice, Austin City Limits, Grace and Tony, Boardwalk Empire, Guinness World Records 2014, America ReFramed, and Enough Said.

- Sons of Anarchy returns next week and SAMCRO wants to hang with you. Join Theo Rossi and Kim Coates in the live SOA Google+ Hangout today at 11:30am PT/2:30pm ET. Submit your questions with #SOAFX for a chance to join them live, and hear what they have to say about the all new season premiering Tuesday, September 10 at 10p on FX.

- For those that that using Total Eclipse Of The Heart when The Voice introduced its new coaches last season was cheesy, well they went even cheesier when the four original coaches reunited. Yes, they used the Peaches and Herb song.

- Austin City Limits (ACL), the groundbreaking television music series, returns for its 39th Season this fall with a must-see line-up featuring indie stars, legendary artists and talented newcomers. The season premiere debuts Saturday, October 5th and features Latin icon Juanes in an electrifying return to ACL and introduces Latin music's rising stars Jesse & Joy. The complete line-up for the full 13-week season, including six new episodes to air beginning January 2014, will be announced at a later date. Check the news section of for additional episode updates.

- She played bluegrass. He played punk. When Grace Shultz and Tony White met, they fell in love and the music just followed after. Experimenting with an unlikely blend of genres (punk, folk, bluegrass and Texas swing) resulted in something new: “Punkgrass” was born. Grab Grace and Tony's Noisetrade Sampler for free before their November release of their debut album November.

- Season 4 of the highly-acclaimed HBO Original Series Boardwalk Empire is kicking off soon, and music streaming service Rdio has the second volume of music from the celebrated show for free streaming today! Check out the link and track listing below to listen to the Boardwalk Empire, Vol. 2 soundtrack to get excited for the premiere on Sunday, September 8.

- What do Hollywood icon Betty White and ‘drug lord Walter White’ have in common? They’re both in the new Guinness World Records 2014 edition! Arriving in stores on September 12th, the book features both legendary actors and young upstarts at the top of their game as they achieve unparalleled success in the film, television, and music industries. The inimitable Betty White has proved that ‘age is nothing but a number’ by earning the record for “Longest TV Career for an Entertainer (Female)” spanning 74 years of work in the industry. Making her debut in 1939, the queen of the small screen has appeared in some of television’s most popular shows, including The Golden Girls, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and The Carol Burnett Show. Currently starring in Hot in Cleveland, the legendary 91-year-old entertainer shows no signs of stopping!

- WORLD Channel's exclusive, independent film showcase America ReFramed kicks off its second season with a special presentation of Building Babel on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 (check local listings). Building Babel follows a year in the life of Sharif El-Gamal, developer of the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque," a Muslim-led community center two blocks from the World Trade Center. With unlimited access to his home and office, the film paints a portrait of a Muslim-American businessman up against impossible odds.

- I have mentioned Enough Said before, the Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini movie, and please not that the date of its release has been moved to September 18.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

I Want My Music Television: 9/5/13

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.

Holy Grail – Jay-Z featuring Justin Timberlake

Holy Grail was a perfect opening track for Magna Carter because it set you up for what was about to come: utter disappointment (see my review: Got Me Feeling Like Brody in Homeland). Not surprisingly Jay-Z tinkered with the song for the video, but was it wise to take the Kurt Cobain verse and move it up to the very beginning? Probably not.

Give It 2 U [Remix] - Robin Thicke featuring Kendrick Lamar and 2 Chainz

I did not have much of a problem when Robin Thicke blatently ripped off Got to Give It Up, Pt. 1, but how dare he co-opt Sir Mix-a-Lot’s giant posterior from his Baby Got Back video? That is unforgivable.

Bitter Rivals – Sleigh Bells

That opening had me worried that the Sleigh Bells were going full blown pop (complete with multi-colored wigs) on their upcoming album but quickly went back to their fuzzed out indie pop. Although the chorus ended up being the cleanest thing the duo has ever done. This is an interesting teaser to the album.

Garden’s Heart – Natasha Khan and Jon Hopkins

Natasha Khan is essentially Bat for Lashes and I am not sure why she is using her name here or who Jon Hopkins is but apparently this song is for the upcoming movie How I Live Now. I do not know anything about the movie aside that it apparently stars the girl from Atonement, but if these are actual scenes from the movie, that bathroom scene is freaking and may be worth the rental.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The Peter Bjorn and John Award for Catchiest Indie-Pop Song of the Summer of 2013

Two years ago on a whim I declared that Young Blood by The Naked and Famous would have won the Peter Bjorn and John Award for the Catchiest Indie Pop Song of the Summer had it not been for Pumped Up Kicks. I actually liked that fake award idea so much last year, I actually made it a real thing (and awarded it to The Lumineers). Now it is time to hand out the second official award. But before that, let take a look at some of the other contenders from this year.

Legacy Artist: Diane Young – Vampire Weekend: With a lackluster first couple months of the year music wise, Vampire Weekend was poised to finally break into the mainstream with their most accessible song yet, a cross between Buddy Holly and their usual Ivy League humor. Alas that sadly did not happen but those of us in the now had a great summer song to add to the playlist.

Honorable Mention: Get Lucky – Daughter: Daughter has made some great indie music but really is too depressing to be considered “catchy” but of the millions of Get Lucky covers that blanketed the internets this summer, their version is far and away the best, most interesting, and proved there are many different ways to get lucky.

5. The Wire – Haim: A late addition which came in at, dare I say, the wire (very bad pun intended). A great teaser for the group’s full length debut album coming out this fall.

4. Change – Churchill: Well, this is weird. The group was on the precipice of stardom with an absurdly catchy first single that could have made the band this years The Lunineers or at the very least Of Monsters of Men. Then out of nowhere the group dropped out of their tours opening up for Sara Bareilles this summer and the upcoming Pink tour this fall and broke up. I do not think this is going to be a The Civil Wars situation where they still end up recording an album full of awesome tension.

3. Torpedo – Jillette Johnson: This song is pretty awesome as it is, but it also gets bonus points for the Etch-a-Sketch themed lyrics video. Even more bonus points for putting DVD’s of Freaks and Geeks and The Virgin Diaries in the background.

2. Pompeii – Batille: Quite simply the best use chanting in a song since Hooked On a Feeling. (Sorry Enigma.)

1. Royals – Lorde: I may be the worst prognosticator of music on the internet so I rarely tag anyone with the “Next Big Thing” tag because it seems to be the kiss of death for an artist (see Churchill who literally died before they could break big). But let me hop into Scooter Time Machine back to June when I kind of hyperbolically called this song, “not only is it the best song of the year so far, but it is the best anti-materialistic song since Ante Up, the best song by a teenager since Genie In a Bottle, and the greatest song ever to come out of New Zealand.” Fast forward three months and the song is even out performing the new Lady Gaga song. It has become so popular; it is a stretch to even to still be calling it indie-pop at this point. But since I jumped on the bandwagon back in March when it was a weird pop song from New Zealand, I will give it the title.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Previewing Cold Justice

Yolanda McClary and Kelly Siegler of Cold Justice

Currently there are 200,000 murder cold cases that date back to 1980. Some of these will go unsolved, but in some cases, all that is needed is a new set of eye. The thing is, as smart as the detectives are on television, the real life cops run into budgets and other obstacles that keep them from tying everything up in a nice bow like their fictional counterpoints. That is where Cold Justice comes in where to pick cases they think they can solve, reopen the case, and see if they can get a resolution.

Cold Justice comes from a guy who knows a little about fictional Law and Order, Dick Wolf who created the long running drama and all of its spin offs. While one of the on air talents, Yolanda McClary, was the basis of Marg Helenberger’s character on CSI (ironically she chastises the show and its ilk at least once per episode). Her on screen partner is attorney and former Texas prosecutor Kelly Siegler. Although the true star of the show is their buddy Johnny Bonds (awesome name) who helps the duo out on their cases. Unfortunately Johnny Bonds is resigned to secondary status and it is unclear how often he will pop up.

Tonight’s case revolves around a twelve year old suicide that just does not quite end up as there are multiple statements floating around, some from the same person. When DNA comes back inclusive on the gun, McClary is quick to point out that DNA never solves a cold case. For next week’s episode, it is a bit surprising it is still a cold case because we learn early on that one of the main suspects left a paystub at the victim’s house and was caught a day after the murder power washing the inside of his car. His excuses were that someone planted the paystub there to set him up (which is plausible because how could be someone be so stupid to leave something that randomly incriminating at a crime scene) and that his boss told him his car smelled (as it turns out no one originally asked the boss if he had ever been in the suspect’s car and made such a claim).

The big problem with Cold Justice is there really is not a resolution. By the end of the episode all we know is if the two were album to cobble enough new information to arrest the main suspect. In one case we do not even learn if the grand jury ruled in favor of a trail. So each episode does feel incomplete without ever seeing any part of the trial (especially considering the ad campaign centered on Siegler bragging she has gone 68 of 68 on murder trials and we never get to see her in a courtroom). What the show does have going for it is that it is surprisingly compelling contrasted with the fictional versions where you know everything will get wrapped up by the end of sixty minutes (except one case that will haunt the team for a season or five), at the end of the episode, the case may very well go cold again.

Cold Justice airs Tuesdays at 10:00 on TNT.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

To Succeed in Life You Must Eliminate Everything in Your Path in a Blind Rage

Grand Theft Auto

I have never really been into violent video games (unless you count the old school hockey games where you could break open a dude’s skull and watch them bleed on the ice) and spent most of my time playing games like Mario Kart, Final Fantasy, and sports games. So I did not think much of the first two Grand Theft Auto games and even ignored the huge buzz around the third game which essentially invented the sandbox game (ironically instead I bought The Simpsons rip off game which thankfully was a lot more entertaining than their Double Dragon rip-off Nintendo game). But the ad campaigned for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City drew me in with its Miami Vice vibe and A Flock of Seagulls soundtrack which it is why the franchise is this month's induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame.

Forget the video game violence; Vice City was worth it just for the soundtrack along, I would have just been content with just driving around the sprawling faux Miami just listening to the awesomely eighties radio stations (Lionel Richie! Hall and Oates!! Squeeze!!!) and to those that always rag on the violent storyline, there is nothing making you going around shooting people and picking up hookers, you could steal a taxi and play Crazy Taxi style or earn a living hunting down criminals for the police or hijacking an ambulance to help people to the hospital on time.

Okay, I am not that altruistic, I also partook in the more violent storylines too. But the Grand Theft Auto games are just like playing a movie. III was basically The Godfather, Vice City is a retelling of Scarface, and San Andreas is like playing Boys in the Hood. Of course to the parents out there, if you do not let your kids watch those types of movies, you definitely should not let your kids play these types of games. And if you do let your kids watch those types of movies and play these types of games, you really need a visit from child services.

Even if you do choose the dark side (that is where the main storylines are anyway) there are consequences. If you kill someone, the police will come after you. And if you continue to kill people, the more the pursue you until the call in S.W.A.T., helicopters, and if you stay on the lamb long enough while you continue your killing spree they will even bring in an armored tank. And once you are caught, you have to pay your way out of prison or pay a hospital bill defending on how they get you.

As great as Vice City was, San Andreas was even better in almost every since way except maybe the soundtrack (it is hard to choose between cheesy eighties music and the mix of early nineties gangsta rap and alternative rock. The opening local, which was a fictional version of Compton was probably even bigger than Vice City then throughout the game you could travel to San Francisco and Las Vegas (where you can even gamble) surrogates. There was even the countryside, a mountain, a couple of small suburbs, and a desert with its own Area 51 type secret government facility where you could steal a jet pack. Seriously, how cool is a jet pack? Sure not all the additions were inspired, requiring players to eat was annoying, and then when you ate too much, you were unable to run and the weight training was just as silly.

Expectations were high when Grand Theft Auto leaped onto the next generation council and GTA IV more than lived up to the hype. Where the previous installments were clearly inspired by iconic movies, the new version followed an eastern European immigrant trying to find his way in the new world by any means necessary. And since this was he first in seven years to be set in current times and this time around you had access to a cell phone (complete with a camera) and if you stole a car that a soccer mom would drive it probably would be equipped with a GPS devise. And there were so many ways to get around Liberty City (basically NYC) with five distinctive boroughs, aside from the obvious car, there is the subway, boats, and you could even commandeer a helicopter, just remember to bring your parachute just in case you have to bail.

When you were done with the game, there were two downloads featuring new storylines for Liberty city. The Lost and the Damned has you as the leader of a biker gang who needs to keep its turf while The Ballad of Gay Tony saw you employed as a body guard for the titular nightclub owner who was just as ruthless as his female loving counterparts. Each game was almost as expansive as the original and actually managed to intertwine with each other. Then there was even more fun when you fired up the modem and go online for deathmatches, street races, and other fun game. You could still occasionally find me in a Turf War waiting room.

Much like many of Rockstar Games, little is known about Grand Theft Auto V out later this month (look for a list of The 100 Greatest Song from Grand Theft Auto coming from me around the release date, unfortunately that list will be instantly outdated the moment it is published as there is said to be 240 licensed songs for the new game). The game does return to San Andreas but consider how much Liberty City changed from GTA III to GTA IV, the fake west coast will probably look radically different than the PS2 game, it is said to be bigger and the original San Andreas and GTA IV combined, and even more ways to get around (ATV’s! jet skies!!). There will also be three lead characters you can toggle between, a first for the series. One apparently will even own a dog which, depending on your actions, can get lost or even die. While the online mode looks to be even more expansive. Grand Theft Auto V (as well as my list of The 100 Greatest Songs from Grand Theft Auto) comes out on the 17th.