Saturday, October 26, 2013

Best of the Week: 10/26/13

Quote of the Week: Our relationship is just starting and now I've, like, embarrassed all his friends. Who wants to date someone that doesn’t make the merge? (Kat Edorsson, Survivor: Blood vs. Water)

Song of the Week: This Town – Deacon Claybourne and Scarlett O’Conner (Nashville)

Scene of the Week:

And yes you can download If I Didn't Have You (Bernadette's Song) on iTunes

Big News of the Week: It’s the Start of the Jason Campbell Era in Cleveland: You want to know just how much it sucks to live in Cleveland, I actually got excited when I heard the Browns were benching Brandon Weeden after throwing two underhanded throws in consecutive weeks (in Weeden’s defense, only one of them was intercepted). Keep in mind Campbell will be the twentieth starting quarterback since the Browns returned in 1999.  That is two ahead of the Dolphins, the second most over that time period.  The league average is 11.3.  As Bill Simmons would say, God hates Cleveland.

Preview Picture of the Week:

“Death and the Maiden” Ravenswood, Tuesday at 8:00 on ABC Family

Free Download of the Week: Speak a Little Louder – Diane Birch (NoiseTrade): Earlier this week I reviewed Diane Birch’s latest album (see Musings from the Back 9: Music Edition) and if you want to get sense of the album you can download this three song sampler which also includes a fourth song, Nothing but a Miracle off her debut album.

New Album Release of the Week: Under the Influence: Holiday Edition - Straight No Chaser

New DVD Release of the Week: Springsteen & I

Video of the Week: Just in time for the next Thor to be released into theaters, the new Captain America trailer is out and Winter Soldier features some familiar faces (Nick Fury, Black Widow), some new ones (Robert Redford as one of the senior leaders of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Anthony Mackie as Falcon, a guy who can fly and talk to birds) and some dude with a mask (anyone who has read Winter Soldier knows who it is; or just anyone who recognizes him). Conspicuously absent is Emily Van Camp as another S.H.I.E.L.D. agent (she is not playing Kristen from statistics) or anyone from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which probably did not even start casting by the time Winter Soldier wrapped shooting (though maybe Steve Rodgers may show up on the television show in the future to promote their movies, or even better, Natalie Portman; but the best bet is Emily Van Camp, who is already on ABC television, will pop up in a cameo eventual). Captain America: Winter Soldier hits theaters in April which is around the time we will probably get our first trailer for Guardians of the Galaxies which will feature Vin Diesel as a tree and Bradley Cooper as a raccoon.

Next Week Pick of the Week: American Blackout, Sunday at 9:00 on the National Geographic Channel: It does seem like our power grid going down is not a question of if rather a question of when (remember when some downed trees took out the eastern seaboard all the way to Canada and Ohio a decade ago; it is as east to shut down the western seaboard and Texas). The National Geographic Channel takes a look at what very well might happen with cell phone footage to add to the realism. Check out my full preview of American Blackout here.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Around the Tubes: 10/25/13

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 Being Human, Springsteen and I, Zombie Night, Conan, The Pete Holmes Show, ABC Family premiere dates, Falling Skies, renewal news, Face Off, Wake up Call, and Opposite Worlds.

- Being Human may not return until January, but you can check out a first look now:

- Springsteen & I is a unique feature music documentary celebrating rock icon, Bruce Springsteen and his hordes of adoring fans. Filmmaker Ridley Scott says, “This beautifully crafted film provides a unique insight into the powerful bond between a recording artist and those who connect so profoundly with his music.” Inspired by Scott Free London’s (who served as executive producers) critically acclaimed feature film Life In A Day, fans around the world submitted clips sharing stories about their relationship to Springsteen and his iconic music. Filmmakers capture these moments & include never-before-seen archive footage of Springsteen’s performances throughout his career, and his incredible music. Directed by Baillie Walsh and produced by Ridley Scott Associates / Black Dog Films, this is the ultimate filmmaking experience. Springsteen & I is a film for the people, by the people – filled with beloved songs and the stories they lived. Tonight at 9:00 on Showtime, audiences everywhere will learn how the sound of Springsteen became the soundtrack of America and feel the impact he has had on fans worldwide for the past four decades.

- Don't miss Zombie Night on Syfy, tomorrow at 9:00, when two families meet an army full of zombies! Checkout the trailer below:

- TBS and Team Coco are inviting fans of Conan O'Brien to participate in a special celebration marking the host's 20th anniversary in late night. The Team Coco website is hosting 20 Years of Conan: The "Best Of" Fan Poll, which asks fans to choose their favorites from Conan's 3,300+ hours of late night madness. Fans can vote in four categories:Favorite Conan Character, Favorite Conan Guest, Favorite Conan "Desk Bit" and Favorite Conan Remote. Starting Monday, Oct. 28, TBS's CONAN will take a look back at Conan's late-night hosting career with memorable clips from the past 20 years.

- Conan is also getting a little company next week with TBS launching The Pete Holmes Show right after him at midnight. Here is the line up of guests for Pete’s first two weeks.

Monday, Oct. 28 – Kumail Nanjiani, plus Pete visits Jon Stewart in New York
Tuesday, Oct. 29 – Allison Williams
Wednesday, Oct. 30 – Jim Jefferies, plus Pete visits NBA All Star James Harden in Houston
Thursday, Oct. 31 – Chelsea Peretti

Monday, Nov. 4 – Ike Barinholtz
Tuesday, Nov. 5 – Anthony Jeselnik
Wednesday, Nov. 6 – Casey Wilson and June Diane Raphael
Thursday, Nov. 7 – Deepak Chopra

- I hope you already have your 2014 calendar because ABC Family just announced their winter premieres. On Tuesday January 8:00, Pretty Little Liars will return followed by a new season of Twisted. Then on Monday January 13 at 8:00, there will be a new season of Switched at Birth followed by new episodes of The Fosters.

- In casting news, Oscar winner Mira Sorvino will dropping into Falling Skies next season for a multi-episode arc.

- In renewal news, Showtime has order up a fourth season of Homeland and a second season of Masters of Sex while the fourth season of Franklin and Bash will be coming your way summer of 2014.

- Syfy announces that its critically-acclaimed hit reality competition series Face Off will return for a sixth season in January 2014, introducing 14 new makeup artists in what will be Face Off’s boldest season yet. In the new season the contestants will face extreme challenges that will inspire them to create the most magnificent characters and creatures in Face Off history. And coming this November, Syfy debuts two original Face Off specials –Naked and Painted and Judges’ Favorites.

- TNT has greenlit a new series starring and executive-produced by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who most recently headlined TNT's The Hero. In Wake Up Call (working title), Johnson will lend a helping hand to everyday people who are facing enormous challenges in their lives. TNT has ordered eight one-hour episodes of Wake Up Call. Wake Up Call is slated to premiere in 2014.

- Also greenlit, this time by Syfy, Opposite Worlds is an all-new reality competition series - with an interactive twist - from Eyeworks USA. Set to premiere January 21, 2014, Opposite Worlds will run for 12 episodes over six weeks (two episodes per week), with the second weekly episode featuring a live element (a first for a Syfy reality series). In Opposite Worlds, 14 people from all walks of life face off in opposing teams that live in a house separated into two distinctly different worlds: one past and one future, each with its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Adding to the drama is a glass wall dividing the house into the two environments, allowing the teams to watch, envy and dread each other's every move.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Previewing American Blackout

American Blackout on National Geographic Channel

Ten years ago one late afternoon I was playing video games when the power flickered off and back on. I did not think much to it, turned the television and Playstation back on, but about a minute later the power went out completely. Power outages happen way more often than they should around here, but if you wait it out, the power will turn back on within the hour. But this power outage was different. By nightfall, the lights were still out and did not come back on until much later that night. I was lucky because in places the power did not turn back on for two days and was up to that point the second worst blackout in history.

Considering this happened almost a year after 9/11, conspiracy theories quickly popped up suggesting terrorists attack on out power grid (R.E.M. even referenced this in their song, Bad Day: “The lights went out, the oil went dry, we blamed it on the other guy.”). They were wrong; it was a tree growth and computer glitch that brought down the deteriorating power grid. This was not much more reassuring that a terrorist attack.

But what if terrorists did launch a cyber attack on our power grid and it took ten days to find and fix the malicious code? That is the basis of American Blackout. The special looks like something National Geographic Channel would air after the fact with many eye witness accounts via cell-phone and various camcorders (note to self, get a solar powered battery to charge my portable devises if this were to really happen).

Though it features a lot of different culminated “footage” it focuses mainly on four different groups and how they survived the hypothetical ten day blackout. There is the couple who lives on the 24th floor of a Manhattan (please note you need electricity to get water above eight stories). There is a group of four students stuck in a dorm elevator and since it is the end of the trimester, there will not be many people around to hear their pleas. There is a resident NYC blogger who is left home alone because his mom is a nurse who cannot make it home. There is also a pregnant woman who is already two days late when the power went out. And being that this airing on the same channel that airs Doomsday Preppers, of course there is a family of preppers.

Each storyline could have been its own found footage horror movie because American Blackout gets dark, real dark, and I am not just talking about the lack of light at night. They go worst case scenario in many of the storylines, and then, when you do not think it cannot get any worse, it somehow does. What makes scarier than most horror movies is that everything that happens in the special is very plausible. And since neither President Bush nor Obama have really done much to improve our electrical grid, a major blackout may not be a question of if but when, and you definitely will want to check out American Blackout to see what may be ahead.

American Blackout premieres this Sunday at 9:00 on National Geographic Channel.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Musings from the Back 9: Music Edition XVIII

After being a critical darling for years, Kings of Leon shot for rock supremacy with their fourth album Only By the Night (okay, technically they tried with their previous album but failed) and became the biggest band in the land thanks to throbbing rock songs like Use Somebody and Sex on Fire. Like most rock bands, they did overindulge with their follow up (of course they brought in a black southern church choir for the album’s first single). Then on cue, like every other brotherly based band (see the Gallagher’s, the Robinson’s, the Davie’s et. al.), they imploded on themselves while on tour. After a three year layoff repairing those bruises, the Followill brothers (and one cousin) are back with Mechanical Bull. Sure it will not do as big as Only By the Night, and maybe not even Come Around Sundown, but it sounds like the most fun they have ever had. Case in point is first single Supersoaker: no “serious” rock band has been this silly and catchy since U2 released Discotheque. Songs like Family Tree are just as fun. They do occasionally try for stadium anthems again like Come Back Again, but the album is much better when they are clearly just sitting back and having some fun.

Mechanical Bull gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Diane Birch quite possibly made the best seventies blue eyed Philly soul album of this century with her debut Bible Belt. But that was four years and since then it sounds like Birch updated her sound by a decade because sophomore outing Speak a Little Louder is a decidedly more eighties shoe-gazing new wave sound which is more in the line these days with the music of Daughter than Mayer Hawthorne. Speak a Little Louder is a more synth driven, darker sound than her debut. Although the music of the title track is very reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s Stranger In Moscow (I would have never thought of Jackson as a shoe-gazing fan of synths, but after making this connection, it makes his sound more interesting than I first thought). The best song on the album Tell Me Tomorrow which is the most upbeat, and least synth dependent song on the album. There are a couple of other influences throughout the album, Love and War has a disco beat to it, Pretty in Pain is the closest she get to the sounds of her debut, while Frozen Over sounds like a long lost Pat Benatar song. I appreciate Diane trying to expand her sound, but I do prefer the Philly soul version. Now I wonder which nineties genre will inspire her for her third album.

Speak a Little Louder gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

The latest trend for legacy artists is to rerecord their biggest hits with the biggest stars in country today. Both Lionel Richie and John Fogerty have done so in the past year. The latest to do so is Willie Nelson. But do not expect Willie to just piggyback past artists. First off, as the title To To All the Girls... suggests, Willie only duets with the fairer sex. And do not expect Willie to bring out his biggest hits and just add a female voice to them, really aside from Always on My Mind there is not a massive hit of Willie’s on this album. Half of the songs on the album are written by other people like Bill Withers and even Folgerty’s own Have You Ever Seen the Rain, one of the album’s best as recorded with his daughter Paula. And though he brings out heavy hitters like Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood, most of his duet partners are his contemporizes like Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn as well as some newbies like Brandi Carlile and Melonie Cannon. All the songs are ballads and at eighteen tracks, that does drag on a bit. But like his fellow Highwayman Johnny Cash, Willie is still aging quite well.

To All the Girls… gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Previewing Trust Me I’m a Game Show Host

Michael Ian Black and D.L. Hughley of Trust Me I'm a Game Show Host

With a name like Trust Me I’m a Game Show Host you know the show will either be really good or a massive train wreck; really worth watching either way. Since the titular hosts are comedians D.L. Hughley and Michael Ian Black you can already tell is it much closer to the former. The show is quite simple, both hosts give a contestant a fact, one which is true and one that is not, and then the contestant has to decide which host to trust.

If there is a problem with Trust Me I’m a Game Show Host is for a quiz show, there really are not my questions. There are only six rounds in the half hour, compared to Jeopardy which can squeeze up to fifty-one questions in the same time period. Sure a lot of the time gets chewed up by Black and Hughley as they try to convince the contestants why they should trust them and not the other guy, usually in humorous ways. Plus when it comes down to it, the contestants have a 50-50 chance of getting the questions right.

Besides the host, another reason to turn into tonight’s premiere if the first contestant for the show Ambree who may be the most likeable game show contestant you will ever see. So likeable I spent most of the time hoping they invite her back as the show’s Vanna White later in the season (it has not happen yet in the episodes I have seen). Not that she would want to comeback because she uncomfortably laughed at all the sexual and racially tinged jokes (one of the first questions involves a, um… ladies first ever self pleasuring devise) the host lobbed at each other. That uncomfortableness continues next week with a youth pastor (who is overexcited as most youth pastors) who also had his fair share of religious jokes. If you did not know Black was Jewish prior to the episode, you will by the end.

Trust Me I’m a Game Show Host airs Tuesdays at 10:30 on TBS. Check out a promo below:

Monday, October 21, 2013

I Want My Music Television: 10/21/13

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.

Gorilla – Bruno Mars

I probably do not give Bruno Mars enough credit because I find the majority of his music bland and I really only have room for one animal sex song on in my library and that slot goes to Closer, but I have to take this time to thank him for casting Freda Pinto in his latest music video.

Submarines – The Lumineers

When I saw the dude drink the submarine, I could not help think of the scene in Poltergeist (or maybe one of the many sequels) where the dude drank the demon worm in the bottle of Tequila and very bad things started to happen to him. Thanks The Lumineers, now I will not be able to sleep again for days. I just got over watching that scene as a child.

If I Loved You – Delta Rae

C’mon chick from Delta Rae, you cannot just walk out on a dude after you get a puppy with him. That is just bad form.

Let Me Go - Avril Lavigne featuring Chad Kroeger

It was weird enough to hear Avril Lavigne and the dude from Nickelback got married and he was going to produce her latest album, but did they really need to record a song and creepy video together?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 10/20/13

Once Upon a Time: That was a weird scene with Mulan and Sleeping Beauty. Was Mulan coming back to tell Sleeping Beauty she loves her? That was just a weird scene to have between two minor characters on the show especially when one of them has a boyfriend.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Once Upon a Time on iTunes.

Homeland: Since he was in the season trailer, it was only a matter of time before Brody showed up. But did they really need to devote the whole first thirty minutes and about eighty percent of the whole episode to him? And I missed why the Guatemalans are helping him. They are not Muslim so it is not for religious fanaticism. They said it was for some sort of “favor” so it has to be one big favor if they are going to pass on the bounty on his head to protect him.

The Walking Dead: Poor Beaver Cassidy Casablancas, he just has a hard times around roofs. The show has come up with some creative zombie scenes, but raining zombies has to be near the top. Cassidy was not the only familiar face to pop up in the premiere, there was the chick from Rome, the dude from The Waterboy, and I am pretty sure that was the best friend from Everybody Hates Chris. Unfortunately only one made it out of the premiere alive. But I would not be too surprised if any of them quite literally come back to bite the group in the behind.
You can download The Walking Dead on iTunes.

Revenge: I was suspicious last week when Aiden showed up last week eager to help Victoria bring down Emily yet did not reveal the most damning secret about her, so it was not much of a surprise that it turned out that Aiden was planted there by Emily to stir things up.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Revenge on iTunes.

The Voice: When Nic Hawk got stolen, I thought to myself, wow that is the least deserving Steal ever. Fast forward an hour later and I am saying the same thing about Anthony Paul. And if it is like last two seasons where they front load the more noteworthy steals in the first week, it may not be the last time I say that. There is also an enthusiasm gap for the Steals this season. If you think back to the last two seasons, coaches were breaking their buttons trying to steal Amanda Brown, Sasha Allen, and Caroline Glaser, but this season the coaches are waiting for contestants to say their goodbyes to push their buttons.

There also seems to be an increase of co-ed battles this season. It seemed in the past there may only be one per team if the genders were unequal. If my eyes were right whole spotting them in the previews, all but two of Blake’s battles are co-ed and half of Cee-Lo’s are too. I bring this up because of the first six co-ed battles this week (including montages); the fairer sex won the first five with only Ray Boudreaux prevailing for the guys. The best of the bunch was Caroline Pennell vs. Anthony Paul, though it is not a good sign when the best performance of the week revolves around a Justin Bieber song.

You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download songs performed this week with the widget at right.

The Blacklist: Did the show really just completely rip-off Breaking Bad? And just how does one explain creepy chemical scars all over your body to one’s wife? Um… I am asking for a friend.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download The Blacklist on iTunes.

The Goldbergs: I cannot confirm nor deny I watched scrambled porn back in the day, but I will admit I would occasionally watch WWF pay per views.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download The Goldbergs on iTunes.

Sons of Anarchy: I do not know why, but I really enjoyed that last scene with Jax making the cops apologize to all the Sons. What I did not like was the return Boydette Crowder. Seeing her on screen just makes my head hurt. It was also weird that the district attorney telling the mirror she was going “hood” which only turned out to be her taking off her wig to show her braids. Alrighty.
You can download Sons of Anarchy on iTunes.

Survivor: Blood vs. Water: Wow, the Loved Ones actually won something. Way to slide down a giant ramp and throw a ring on one of four pegs. That challenge was extremely lame. Unfortunately we have not gotten much of Kat this season, but her closing her hoodie was the best part of the episode.
You can stream recent episodes on You can also download Survivor: Blood vs. Water on iTunes.

Nashville: When Rayna said she was dropping out of of Juliette’s tour my first thought was I hope her label makes Juliette take Layla out on the road with her. Thankfully that seemed to be the case. These two on the road together should be more entertaining than when Juliette and Rayna shared the bill.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Nashville on iTunes.