Saturday, September 28, 2013

Best of the Week: 9/28/13

Quote of the Week: Here’s one I thought I’d take to the grave: a while back YouTube changed its user interface from a star based rating system to a thumbs up ratings system. I tell people I’m okay with it but I’m really not. (Sheldon Cooper PhD, The Big Bang Theory)

Song of the Week: Islands In the Stream – Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton (as sung by Wayne Brady and Wayne Brady, How I Met Your Mother)

Scene of the Week:

Big News of the Week: Power Rankings of New Fall Television: Television came back in full force this week with a slew of new shows. Surprisingly only one came D.O.A. (do not get too attacked to Lucky 7). Granted a lot of the more poorly reviewed show (We Are Men, Super Fun Night, Sean Saves the World, The Millers, Ironside, Welcome to the Family) do not premiere until next week. I did watch just over half of the ten new shows and here is absurdly premature Power Rankings:

1. The Blacklist
2. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
3. The Michael J. Fox Show
4. Back in the Game
5. The Goldbergs
6. The Crazy Ones

But who cares what I think. Here is how the shows stack up in total viewers in millions. As you can tell, it is very helpful to air after the two of the most watched shows on television like the top two shows here and not very helpful to air after another new show like the bottom three:

1. The Crazy Ones (15.52)
2. The Blacklist (12.58)
3. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (12.12)
4. The Goldbergs (8.94)
5. Back in the Game (8.01)
6. Mom (7.99)
7. The Michael J. Fox Show (7.50)
8. Hostages (7.41)
9. Trophy Wife (6.69)
10. Lucky 7 (4.43)

Although if you go by the ever more important 18-49 demo ratings, the rankings go like this:

1. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (4.7)
2. The Crazy Ones (3.9)
3. The Blacklist (3.8)
4. The Goldbergs (3.1)
5. Mom (2.5)
6. Trophy Wife (2.3)
7. Back in the Game (2.2)
8. The Michael J. Fox Show (2.2)
9. Hostages (1.8)
10. Lucky 7 (1.3)

Preview Picture of the Week:

“Wolfsangel” Sons of Anarchy, Tuesday at 10:00 on FX

Free Download of the Week: The Mother We Share – Chvrches (iTunes)

Deal of the Week: $3.99 Albums: Amazon is hosting a secret sale of albums that should be in everyone’s library including ones by Nirvana, Beastie Boys, The Police, and Boyz II Men. Update your library now on the cheap if there are holes.

New Album Release of the Week: Pure Heroine - Lorde

New DVD Release of the Week: This Is The End

Video of the Week: The triumphant return of Kenny Powers is tomorrow when the fourth and final season of Eastbound and Down premieres of HBO at 10:00. Check out a preview clip below:

Next Week Pick of the Week: Masters of Sex, Sunday at 10:00 on Showtime: Masters of Sex did not make my Power Ranking from above because it does not air until tomorrow, but if it was, it would have been number one with a bullet. To read more, check out my preview of Masters of Sex here.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Around the Tubes: 9/27/13

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 Homeland, Eric Clapton, Scarecrow, Guinness World Records® Unleashed, Tom Green Live, NCIS, A Shot to Save the World, and Troubadour, TX.

- In advance of the highly- anticipated Season 3 premiere of its Emmy® and Golden Globe® Award-winning series Homeland, Showtime will be offering a catch-up marathon of Season 2 on Saturday and Sunday, September 28th and 29th, starting at 12 p.m. ET/PT airing all twelve episodes back-to-back. Homeland stars Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Claire Danes, Emmy winner Damian Lewis, and Emmy and Tony® Award winner Mandy Patinkin, and premieres this Sunday, September 29 at 9 p.m. ET/PT only on Showtime.

- In early 1974, after a three-year absence that followed Eric Clapton’s major success with Derek and the Dominos’ seminal album Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs, which sealed his stature as one of rock's most revered guitarists, a rejuvenated and musically refreshed Clapton stepped into the recording studio and staged a massive resurgence with his 1974/1975 trilogy of albums—461 Ocean Boulevard, which featured his first No. 1 hit single I Shot The Sheriff There's One In Every Crowd and the live E.C. Was Here—standing as one of the most remarkable rebirths in rock's history. Those albums decisively cemented the guitarist as both a musical and commercial force, while successfully staking out an entirely new set of creative challenges. The 5-CD/1-Blu-Ray™ disc box set Eric Clapton – Give Me Strength: The 1974/1975 Recordings(6SHM-CD+BLU-RAY)(ltd.) is beautifully housed in a 60-page book and captures a full year’s worth of recordings, from April 1974 to June 1975. Featured are 88 remastered, remixed, rare unreleased and live recordings, including session outtakes, from his landmark studio albums 461 Ocean Boulevard and There's One In Every Crowd, and his legendary live album E.C. Was Here. Also included is a new 5.1 Surround Sound mix of 461 Ocean Boulevard and original quadrophonic mixes of two milestone releases. 461 Ocean Boulevard and There's One In Every Crowd.

- Get ready for the next Syfy original movie Scarecrow. The summery from Syfy: "An evil scarecrow scares the sh— Er..."stuffing" out of unsuspecting teens!" Yep, it is a Syfy movie. The movie starring Lacy Chabert airs October 5 at 9:00.

- Determined record chasers are gearing up to wow viewers and secure a place in the record books when truTV's hit series Guinness World Records® Unleashed returns this fall with all new episodes, beginning Thursday, Nov. 7, at 8:00. Hosted by Dan Cortese (Veronica's Closet, Surviving Suburbia, MTV Sports), the series features daring and fearless record hopefuls as they attempt to secure their place in history by breaking some truly outrageous world records.

- New media pioneer Tom Green will bring his one-of-a-kind wit, spontaneity and irreverent attitude to AXS TV with a new interview talk show, TOM GREEN LIVE, premiering on Thursday, October 3 at 9:00. Tom Green Live is part of the network's Thursday comedy block and will follow episodes of the docu-series Gene Simmons Family Jewels at 8:00 and precede standup comedy series, Gotham Comedy Live at 10:00.

- NCIS, one of the top rated shows on television today, premiered its 11th season with a bang last night, and to celebrate, the hit series just released its official television soundtrack entitled NCIS: Benchmark! Available exclusively on Rdio, the show’s stars Pauley Perrette and Michael Weatherly both curated brand new original playlists that are made up of some of their favorite songs that inspired them to write music. Fans can now listen to the new soundtrack and playlists for free on Rdio. Aside from an awesome collection of songs on the soundtrack, there are three original tracks, two of which are by Pauley and Michael.

- It was a disease that paralyzed America — a terrifying epidemic that shut down playgrounds, parks and public pools, while leaving tens of thousands of victims in wheelchairs, iron lungs… or dead. A vaccine, developed against all odds, gave new hope. And now a coalition of global health experts is determined to eradicate the disease from the planet. A new hour-long Smithsonian Channel documentary, A Shot to Save the World, premieres on World Polio Day, Thursday, October 24 at 8:00. This powerful program reveals the dramatic story behind one of the greatest feats of medical science, the development of the first polio vaccine. It features interviews with Bill Gates, who has made world polio eradication one of his main goals, with polio survivors and with members of Dr. Jonas Salk’s pioneering medical team. It is an extraordinary story that spotlights one of the most remarkable examples of how much can be achieved when a nation—and a world-- pulls together to defeat a common enemy.

- Texas singer-songwriter television series Troubadour, TX begins its third season on September 28 with new artists and special appearances. Kris Kristofferson serves as segment host and Stacy Dean Campbell is host of the award-winning, 22-episode series. Kristofferson offers personal stories throughout the series and his thoughts of what it is to be a singer-songwriter. Campbell gives viewers a unique perspective into the lives and behind the scenes of today's Troubadours. The show begins September 28.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Previewing Masters of Sex

Lizzy Caplan and Michael Sheen in Masters of Sex

Oh Showtime, when you announced that you were greenlighting a show called Masters of Sex; you had me at Lizzy Caplan. They could have filled the rest of the cast with the worst actors and hired the most inept writers, and the show still would have been highly watchable just because Lizzy Caplan was starring in a show called Masters of Sex. But they did hire one competent actor Michael Sheen to star opposite as the real life William Masters who pioneered research on human sexuality to Caplan’s Virginia Johnson who was his club singer turned receptionist turned assistant.

As for the writing, the show was created by Michelle Ashford who knows her way around a historical drama penning the HBO miniseries for The Pacific and John Adams. Masters of Sex pushes the subject matter closer to modern day in the late fifties when Masters decides there are enough books on how babies are delivered and decides to research on just how babies are made. It probably helps that he himself is having a bit of trouble making a baby of his own with his wife as the show starts up.

Masters of Sex is surprisingly funny. Despite wanting to explore new scientific ground, Masters is clearly still uncomfortable talking about sex especially around other people. And the way he collects data before he conducting his study at his university is humorous and involves a quick witted prostitute. But the funniest scene in the first episode involved Beau Bridges as Sheen’s boss watching a woman, um, achieve complication through a glass, um, self pleasuring devise. Oh science. Masters of Sex is far and away the best new show you will watch this fall.

Masters of Sex airs Sundays at 10:00 on Showtime.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Previewing Homeland 3.x

Homeland back to form

After a stellar first season, Homeland took a step back last season when the writers thought that the Carrie / Brody relationship was something the viewers wanted to see more of (and the less we talk about the Dana vehicular homicide storyline, the better). But the second season did end with a bang. Quite literally when a bomb exploded outside the CIA killing Director of the Counterterrorism David Estes and 218 others. Since it was his car, Brody had to go on the run and his leaked suicide confession he made when he was going to kill the vice-president makes it even harder to clear his name.

Season three fifty-eight days after the worst attack on American soil since 9/11 and Saul has taken over Estes’ job and is ready to go Munich on those that helped in the bombing with Peter Quinn playing the role of Eric Bana. One major snag is they still have not been able to find Brody, the face of the attack. Brody is so hard to find, he does not even show up in the first to episodes (he is in the season trailer so he will unfortunately show up at some point). Quinn's boss, F. Murray Abraham also seems to have an extended role this season but it is a little unclear if he is playing a little angel on Saul's shoulder or a little devil.

That is not to say the Brody clan is completely absent from the premiere. Dana has been given a much more interesting storyline than the other one that will not be spoken about. Needless to say life has not gone well these three months since learning their father is a terrorist and Dana is taking it the hardest and we first find her in group therapy. Chris Brody, ever so oblivious does not even seem to notice his father is even gone, but then again it is hard to get a read on him on just three lines of dialogue (granted that is two more than last season). At any rate, the aftermath of the Brody family is probably much more interesting than watching Brody run from the law which is probably why that started the season with them rather than him.

Despite all the other characters on the show, Homeland remains to be about Carrie Mathison. Thankfully without Brody around, there is much less to roll your eyes about this season. Best of all is that she is off her meds and seeking “alternative treatments” which are not having the best effects so far which may not be good for her long-term employment but makes for great television. There is even a return of a crazy wall map in her house. And it would not be Homeland without a massive plot twist and the one at the end of episode one is quite a dozy and sets up what looks to be a return to form after a sophomore slump. Of course that may all change when Brody finally makes an appearance this season.

Homeland airs Sundays at 9:00 on Showtime.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Musings from the Back 9: Music Edition XVII

It is easy to write off Jack Johnson as a modern day hippie or the beach bum equivalent of a beach bum, who is so mellow he can gets lampooned by Andy Sandberg on The Mellow Show sketch on Saturday Night Live. Sure Johnson got his revenge on Samberg in the hilarious At or with Me music video. If you have already dismissed Johnson, his latest From Here to Now to You is not going to change your mind as it is filled with another batch of sleepy acoustic song. Of course if you own all or most of his previous catalogue, you will be happy to know that the new album is filled with even more sleepy acoustic songs to play in the early evening be it around a bonfire on the beach or in your landlocked back yard.

From Her to Now to You gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

I usually start off my reviews for new albums from The Roots by saying how I thought their album releases would become far and few in between after signing on as Jimmy Fallon’s house band for Late Night, but this is actually their fifth album since taking the gig in 2009 (and there could be a sixth one coming as soon as later this year). Wise Up Ghost is their second collaborative album, but where the soul classic cover album with John Legend made sense, most people had to do a double take when it was announced they would do one with Elvis Costello. Wise Up Ghost (of which the title track is the best song on the album) continues the experimental sounds of Undun mixed with Costello’s voice and lyrics about urban decay. The combination is as weird as you would expect, but it will take many more listens before I decide if it is a good weird or a bad weird. Check back in December when I do my list of the best albums of the year to see where Wise Up Ghost lands to see where it falls.

Wise Up Ghost gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on Terror Alert Scale.

A year before Kimbra and two years before Lorde stormed the American charts all the way from New Zealand; fellow kiwis The Naked and Famous released their ultra catchy indie-pop anthem Young Blood that should have been as big as Somebody That I Used to Know and Royals. But now that their countrywomen pushed opened the door they cracked for them, The Naked and Famous are poised for their breakout moment. Except there is nothing as intrinsically catchy on their sophomore album In Rolling Waves like Young Blood from their debut. The closest is first single Hearts Like Ours which comes off like a more mature and pensive version of Young Blood. But overall the new album is just missing some punch.

In Rolling Waves gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Previewing Genealogy Roadshow

Geneology Roadshow

People have been bringing their family heirlooms to PBS’s Antiques Roadshow for years to see where they have been and what they are worth and I never thought about having the show about actually people and not their possession. But after they announced the spinoff Genealogy Roadshow, premiering tonight (check your local listings), I am surprised that did not think of it earlier.

If you have seen Antiques Roadshow then you pretty much know how Genealogy Roadshow will play out. The first stop is Belmont Mansion in Nashville (which gets its own backstory) when people show up to learn about their past, be it to confirm family legend or just learn about the family they never knew. There are two genealogy experts on the show who do their research before hand and are ready to give back their findings on the show.

As it happens in the south, there are more than a few unknown mixed raced backgrounds in Nashville and the show even connects a Caucasian and an African American who both showed up for the show to learn more about their families only to learn they are actually distant relatives when their great-great grand parents came down with a case of jungle fever. While another black family learns they are actually the descendant of the very white Tennessee governor. Other people show up hoping they were related to former presidents or other famous people are not as lucky, one family goes in thinking they are related to the Pointer Sisters but find out they are actually related to Amy Grant. But the thing about geneology, if you look long enough, you will find a famous, or infamous, character or two.

The show definitely saves the best for last on tonight’s episode when a woman shows up never knowing her father or even seeing a picture of him. And what the experts find will tug at your heart strings. Aside from Nashville, season one will feature three other cities: Austin, Detroit, and San Francisco.

Geneology Roadshow airs Mondays on PBS (check your local listing. Check out a preview below:

Sunday, September 22, 2013

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 9/22/13

Ray Donovan: My least favorite storyline was Bunchie and his abusive priest, so I really had to check out of this whole week. Wake me up when the next episode starts.

Under the Dome: As the show petered out at the end, at least it finished somewhat strong. We got the plot twist that it is Julia, not Barbie that is the monarch that is about to be crown. We learned that the dead lesbian was not actually a hallucination but an alien(?) taking her form to communicate. Okay we do not learn what they want. And it was disappointing that Big Jim ended the season still breathing after being teased to die a couple episodes ago. And I am never a fan of cliffhangers especially confusing ones like the dome turning white. But I am sure I will still tune in next summer because much like this summer, it is not like there will be much else on.
You can stream Under The Dome exclusively on Amazon Instant Video, free for Prime members.

Siberia: You would think after 95% of these sci-fi leaning post-Lost serial dramas get canceled in its first season, the creators would start writing these show with an actual conclusion for the season and if they are lucky enough to get a second season just go from there. But nope, they all have to end in a cliffhanger, never to be resolved. I actually thought that when the host walked into the apartment, he was going to say, “surprise, this was all fake, everyone who you thought were dead were just acting, c’mon in guys, see: still alive, alright Esther, you come in to and give these guys the split of the money.” And if they managed a second season, it could have been that leaving Siberia is not as easy as the producers thought and there really is something strange going on. But no, he just says, “You’re not supposed to be here.” Fade to black. No explanation of why there were not supposed to be there, where he has been the whole time, what happened to the producer’s camp. Nothing. Hurph.
You can stream recent episodes on Siberia on iTunes.

Sons of Anarchy: So Tara is ready to file for divorce. It is long overdue for to realize this is just not a healthy environment for her. That probably should have happened around the time her hand got broken in a car door. Or the time he drunk driving mother in law almost killed her kids. I am guessing that going to jail and Jax refusing to leave were the final two straws. Now the question is, will Jax, or Gemma, let Tara leave Charming with both boys?
You can download Sons of Anarchy on iTunes.

The Bridge: An interesting moral quandary, the snipers were ready to kill Tate, but one he wanted to be killed by Marco, no one would let him pull to the trigger to the point where Sonya shot Marco to keep him from ki8lling Tate. So we will kill people who do not want to die, but will spare the ones who openly try to be killed. So now that Tate is in custody and we still have two episodes left, just how does the ranch tie into everything? Tate did require that the ransom came from the owner so they are tied in somehow. And what about Linder? I completely forgot about him until he showed up in the promos.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu.  You can also download The Bridge on iTunes.

The Challenge: Rivals II: We saw it just an hour earlier with Gervase on Survivor (see my First Impression of Blood vs. Water here), but I am still shocked that Cara Maria would show up to a competition show that has used water quite frequently and no know how to swim very well. Shockingly she not only managed to move on to the next stage of competition but came in first. But really, it is hard to believe half of the contestants could not finish that puzzle in under an hour. Granted if you are not smart enough to realize the horseshoe would be the easiest to put together right off the bat, it makes a little more sense.
You can download The Challenge: Rivals II on iTunes.