Saturday, December 14, 2013

Best of the Week: 12/14/13

Quote of the Week: Nick, I don’t even begin to defrock until its 98 degrees. (Ben Folds, The Sing-Off)

Song of the Week: Hit Me With Your Best Shot – Pat Benatar (as sung by Haley Goldberg, The Goldbergs)

Scene of the Week:

Big News of the Week: Golden Globe Nominations Announced: Do not care. The Golden Globes are a sham. Moving on.

Preview Picture of the Week:

Free Download of the Week: 25 Days of Free - It is that time of year again when Amazon MP3 gives away a new free holiday song every day in December until Christmas day. Right now you can get one from Ronnie James Dio. Seriously.

New Album Release of the Week: The Voice concludes is second lackluster season in a row on Tuesday. But on the bright side the two most entertaining singers from those two season are releasing new music this week. Holly Henry from the most recent season has a five song EP hitting iTunes Tuesday which has a Bon Iver feel to it. On the same day, season four’s Caroline Glaser has a three sing EP which will be available on Bandcamp which you can bundle with a t-shirt or signed picture. Caroline’s EP features Money Tree which is super catchy while the more melancholy Rosalee was co-written by one of the Pistol Annies that is not married to her former coach Blake Shelton. There is also a cover of I Will Follow You into the Dark originally by Death Cab for Cutie. Both are available for pre-order now by clicking their names.

New DVD Release of the Week: Justified: The Complete Fourth Season

Video of the Week: The first two trailers for The Amazing Spiderman 2 were released in consecutive week. Both could have used more Emma Stone (granted everything could use more Emma Stone). The domestic trailer featured blink and you will miss them cameos from Doc Octopus and The Vulture (Sony announced yesterday they are moving forward with a Sinister 6 movie) while the international trailer, below, focuses more on Spidy’s witty dialogue.

Next Week Pick of the Week: Too Much TV Tomorrow: Fall television pretty much comes to a close tomorrow (there are still CBS comedies Monday a well as the conclusion of Mob City, and even more The Sing-Off with its finale next Monday) but is not going out with a whimper. Tomorrow sees the season finales of Masters of Sex, Homeland as well as the two hour finale of Survivor and its reunion special. Tomorrow also sees the fall finale of what may be the greatest night of hate watching of all time on ABC with the back to back to back episodes of Once Upon a Time, Revenge, and Betrayal. But can you really call something a “finale” when there will be new episodes in less than a month?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Around the Tubes: 12/13/13

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 Community, Haven, 24/7 Red Wings / Maple Leafs: Road to the NHL Winter Classic, Syfy holidays, 24 Hours of A Christmas Story, The Incredible Dr. Pol, Episodes, Califonication, ABC Family holiday movies, Julia McKinnis, and King of the Nerds.

- It looks like the darkest timeline will return when Community does January 2. Could season 4 just have been the darkest timeline?

- Tonight is the season finale Haven where William continues with his plan to turn Audrey back into her original self, meanwhile the rest of the gang find out that some doors are better left unopened. Check out a preview below:

- HBO Sports’ groundbreaking “24/7” reality franchise, which has captured 17 Sports Emmy® Awards, will again join forces with the National Hockey League for 24/7 Red Wings / Maple Leafs: Road to the NHL Winter Classic. Taking viewers inside a historic NHL matchup between Original Six™ rivals Detroit Red Wings® and Toronto Maple Leafs®, this innovative four-episode, all-access reality series debuts Saturday, December 14 at 10:00, exclusively on HBO.

- Syfy will celebrate the holiday season with a Christmas Day movie festival, a marathon of the hit series Being Human and the traditional New Year’s Eve celebration of Rod Serling’s iconic series The Twilight Zone, which will take viewers into a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. The Wednesday, December 25 movie festival, airing 9AM-3AM (ET/PT), will specialize in Christmas and wintry-themed films such as Snowmageddon, Ice Quake, Snow Beast and Yeti. The Being Human Season 3 marathon will run Monday, December 30 from 8AM-3AM. The popular series will return for its fourth season on Syfy Monday, January 13 at 9PM. The Twilight Zone marathon will start Tuesday, December 31 at 8AM, concluding New Year’s Day at 4:30AM. Fans can win fun Twilight Zone prizes by testing their knowledge of Twilight Zone trivia through the social media challenge at and @Syfy.

- One of television's most popular holiday traditions will be back this year as TBS presents the 17th Annual edition of 24 Hours of A Christmas Story, beginning Christmas Eve at 8:00. Making this a particularly special year, the movie A Christmas Story is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

- You would think that after more than 30 years of practicing veterinary medicine, raising three kids, maintaining a bustling practice, and eating all the fresh farm steak he can get, this senior would slow down. Nope, not Dr. Pol! He’s a rare breed that thrives on helping all creatures great and small. And lucky for us, he’s still going strong with his down-and-dirty approach to veterinary medicine. And we get to join him once again as Nat Geo Wind’s #1 series The Incredible Dr. Pol returns with an all new season Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, at 9:00.

- Season three does not premiere until January 12, but Episodes has already been renewed for a fourth season. Showtime also announced that the upcoming seventh season of Californication, to premiere sometime in April, will be its last.

- If you like ABC Family’s holiday movies but do not want to watch them on your coach, now there is an app for that. Get it here.

- Texas-born singer/songwriter Julia McKinnis releases her new single “Knack for Love”, which is the third track off her debut album The Good Has Won, which she plans to release on February 4, 2014. The 10-track album features Julia’s lilting vocals and ukulele that represent her upbeat outlook on life. Take a listen below:

- The King of the Nerds trailer for season two has finally arrived and let me go ahead and predict the token hot chick wins for the second straight season. To see iof I am right, mark your calendars for January 23 on TNT.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Previewing Another Day/Another Time: Celebrating the Music of “Inside Llewyn Davis”

Thirteen years ago, The Coen Brothers teamed up with T.Bone Burnett for the soundtrack for their film O Brother, Where Art Thou?. That album went on to sell almost eight million copies and picked up Album of the Year at the Grammy’s (along with two other statues for songs from that album) and some would argue launched the folk rock boom that has crashed the mainstream earlier this decade. So it was not surpising when the brothers wrote another music heavy script, T-Bone was their first call to produce the soundtrack.

The result is Inside Llewyn Davis, the titular character is a Bob Dylan type if Dylan had originally been in a Simon and Garfunkel type duo where the Garfunkel half died before they could break big. But unlike O Brother, where Dan Tyminski stood in for George Clooney in the recording studio, Inside Llewyn Davis actually features the cast including Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake, and Marcus Mumford as Davis’s dead partner.

Inspired by the film, T-Bone brought together a gathering of some of the biggest names in folk for a one night only concert performance which is documented for Another Day / Another Time: Celebrating the Music of “Inside Llewyn Davis”. The film, inspired by and including music from the forthcoming Coen Brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis, which is set in the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early 1960s was shot live and includes performance by legends and rising stars from both folk and contemporary music— including Joan Baez, Patti Smith, Jack White, Marcus Mumford (without his sons), the Avett Brothers, Rhiannon Giddens (lead sing of Carolina Chocolate Drops), Punch Brothers, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Willie Watson, The Milk Carton Kids, Colin Meloy, Lake Street Dive, as well as the star of Inside Llewyn Davis, Oscar Isaac. (Timberlake is consipciously absent; but then again, no one needs to hear a folk version of SexyBack). The soundtrack to Inside Llewyn David may never get the acclaim that its predisessor did, but he documentary is a must watch for anyone who enjoys folk music, or just good music in general.

Another Day / Another Time: Celebrating the Music of “Inside Llewyn Davis” premieres Friday at 10:00 on Showtime. Check out a preview below:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Previewing Ultimate Survival Alaska: Season Two

In the early days of Survivor, there were some people who suggested they should do Survivor: Antarctica. Twenty-five seasons in and the show has stuck to warmer climates for one simple reason: hot chicks will not wear bikinis in the arctic. For those looking for a competition series that took place at the 66 parallel or higher, you were in luck when the National Geographic Channel greenlit Ultimate Survival Alaska. Granted despite having a similar name with Survivor, the show is much more The Amazing Race: Alaska Edition. The big difference is that these are teams of three and there are not automatic eliminations for last place, you just have to cross the finish line in the allotted time.

In all the seasons of Survivor, Michael falling into the fire back in season two remains the closest anyone on the show has come to a near death experience. In just the first episode alone, there are three moments when I thought there was a legitimate chance one of the guys were going to die on camera, or in the case of a kayaker capsizing and swept underwater, happing off screen. Capsizing in your local creek can have fatal consequences, doing it in glacier water just add in the risk of hyperthermia. And just to just how dangerous this can be one of the contestants recalls the time of his buddies fell into a crevasse and though they could hear him, they never saw him again as they were unable to get him out.

Ultimate Survival Alaska consists of eleven legs and each team has sixty hours to make it to the extraction point otherwise are eliminated from the competition (unlike The Amazing Race, there are no instant eliminations if all the teams make it on time). The four teams this season are made up former military members, endurance athletes, mountaineers, and woodmens which have the lone female in the competition who would make Sue Hawk look like a Victoria Secret model in comparison. I probably should not second guess these people from my couch but I had to question when one team skips the dogsleds to compete on foot and in next week’s episode when someone shots a fish in their boat (I will say I was right about one of these and wrong with the other). Ultimate Survival Alaska is premiring just as the most recent season of Survivor is coming to an end and if you need another competition series to tide you over until the next season to start up; you should definitely give Ultimate Survivor Alaska a look.

Ultimate Survival Alaska airs Sundays at 9:00 on National Geographic Channel. You can stream recent episodes on Hulu (if you cannot wait until Sunday, the season premiere is available to stream in its entirely as well as every first season episodes). You can lso download Ultimate Survival Alaska on iTunes.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I Want My Music Television: 12/10/13

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.

Team – Lorde

Earlier this year Macklemore and Ryan Lewis broke big with the ode the frugality Thrift Shop and then broke the bank with their world traveling Can’t Hold Us video. Lorde also broke with an anti-materialism song, but now as the biggest new artist of the year got a sizable budget for her next video too with an urban Lord of the Flies type video with her playing the queen bee (natch).

Rap God - Eminem

A lot of reviews of The Marshall Mathers LP 2 focus on the retro feel right to the lyrics about Monica Lewinski. But considering that Eminem also on the album admits he does not know how to download Ludacris and get on social media maybe he is actually stuck in the last century where Max Headroom is still a thing. But as long as he can still slay futuristic beats like this, The Marshall Mather LP 3 may be worth looking forward to even if it does not come out unto 2025.

Just Another Girl - The Killers

C’mon Teh Killers, the reimagining the band’s history with a hot female lead singer was already done by Weezer. And if you are going to do it, you at least have to get an actress that will not get out acted by Elisha Cuthbert.

Instant Crush – Daft Punk featuring Julian Casablancas

Just the other day I was suggesting that someone should remake the Mannequin movies where the titular character comes to life but only in the eyes of one dude. I wonder if the Daft Punk video is the closest I am going to get.

Monday, December 09, 2013

The 25 Best Performances from The Sing-Off

After a year hiatus The Sing-Off returns tonight and not a moment too soon because everyone worth rooting for on The Voice is long gone. It may not get The Voice time rating, The Sing-Off is the vastly superior singing competition. Where the solo singing contest will have plenty of contestants that will have you reaching for the fast forward button, even the worst group on The Sing-Off is still entertaining. And where the wrong song on The Voice will have you sent packing, there are no such things as bad song choice on The Sing-Off (case in point on tonight’s premiere there is a group of old black dudes who makes a cheesy One Direction song awesome while another makes that horrible Cruise song listenable). So in honor of the return of The Sing-Off here are my favorite performances from the first three seasons (links will take you to YouTube and you can purchase each performance with the iTunes button).

1. Ignition (Remix) - Darthmouth Aires

2. Sledgehammer - Nota

3. Put Your Records On - Afro-Blue

4. Wake Up - Season 3 Contestants

5. Gernade - Delilah

6. King of Anything - Sara Bareilles featuring The Backbeats

7. Paradise by the Dashboard Light - Darthmouth Aires with Amy Whitcomb

8. Fix You - Streetcorner Symphony with the Season 2 Contestants

9. Queen Medley - Darthmouth Aires

10. Under Pressure - Season 1 Contestants

11. American Boy - Afro-Blue

12. Breakeven - The Backbeats

13. Motownphilly - Boyz II Men featuring Committed

14. Dream On - Delilah

15. The Lazy Song - North Shore

16. Sweet Caroline - Beelzebubs

17. Mercy - Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town

18. Poison - Urban Method

19. All Night Long - Season 3 Contestants

20. I Still Havn't Found What I'm Looking For - Season 1 Contestants

21. Down on the Corner - Streetcorner Symphony

22. If I Were a Boy - The Backbeats

23. Love the Way You Lie - Urban Method

24. Come on Eileen - Streetcorner Symphony

25. The Show Goes On - The Yellowjackets

Sunday, December 08, 2013

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 12/8/13

2014 Grammy Nomination Special: It is odd to have your nominations at 10:00 on a Friday considering the weekend tends to be a wasteland for news. But after the nominations I understand why they had it on a day when most people deliver bad news. After last year when I actually enjoyed all five Album of the Years and was content with most everything in the big four. Well except that Call Me Maybe was was nominated for a songwriting award along with Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) which re-appropriated the Nietzsche saying for the umpteenth time in song.

The biggest shock of the night was Sara Bareilles getting Album of the Year nod for the underwhelming The Blessed Unrest, her weakest album to date. She shares the nomination with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis who somehow ranked up the second most nomination with seven including three of the big four. Not bad for the second coming of Vanilla Ice.

As for the snubs, Lorde seemed like the biggest lock for Best New Artist, yet when the nominees were announced, not surprisingly Macklamore and Ryan Lewis were joined by Kendrick Lamar (who grabbed the same amount of nominations as the duo), and country upstart Kacey Musgraves. The other two were a bit shocking especially considering they took the spot of Lorde who was arguably the most buzzed about new artist of the year and was peaking as the nominations were being decided.

First there was James Blake who is virtually unknown stateside (or very well in his native England) and was getting no buzz at all during awards season. No shots at James Blake because Retrograde will probably make my Best Songs of 2013 list (okay, one irrational shot, whenever I see his name I think of James Blunt which is a big negative), but he does not belong here. But Blake is not even the least deserving artist in the category; that honor goes to Ed Sheeran. Ed even seemed embarrassed when the camera cut to him after announcing he was nominated. Again, no shots at Ed, but he is not new. And not even in the way that Kacey Musgraves is technically on her fourth album kind of way. The guy was nominated for Song of the Year just last year and even performed at the award show. This year, his is up for nothing else (same as James Blake; though technically Ed is nominated for being on the Taylor Swift album) while Lorde is up for four awards including Song and Record of the Year. But I guess you cannot get too upset for Lorde not also getting the Best New Artist nomination, she will probably get one next year.

Once Upon a Time: Thank goodness, we are finally out of Neverland (so what if they did not bother to explain how Prince Charming is allowed to leave without dying). Oh wait, Pan is now in Henry’s body so that storyline will continue. Ugg.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Once Upon a Time on iTunes.

Homeland: I actually cheered when the roadside bomb went off. I should have known Brody would crawl out, the guy is a cockroach.

The Walking Dead: My favorite part of the episode is everyone saw Rick skitter behind the bus, and yet the Governor’s whole army marched right past him without even bothing to look to see if he was still there so Rick could tackle the Governor after every passed. There is nothing more entertaining than television characters that are AI video game dumb. My second favorite part was the mom who was so fixated on the water even though someone told her that walkers avoid water, keeping her back on her child and the big wooded area that could actually have walkers in it.

But it is time to say R.I.P. to Hershel. When the Governor captured him and Michonne it was pretty clear one of them would be assassinated by the Governor if not both. And Michonne actually has both of her legs. The Governor also became zombie chow but surprisingly it was not at the hands of Rick, Michonne (though she did leave him for the zombies, presumable, when she had the chance to finish him) but by the mother who we just met two episodes ago. I do wonder if we will see her, or her sister, again. I think they were the only two of the Governor’s army who ended the episode alive. I would not be surprised if they were the ones that took the baby and will raise them as their own until Rick happens across them at some point.
You can download The Walking Dead on iTunes.

Masters of Sex: I was wondering when the study start if they were using any sort of contraception and finally got my answer: apparently only a diaphragm which only has about a 95% success rate. I am not sure I like those odds.

The Blacklist: In an interview with one of the dudes behind Homeland, I remember him talking about how smart viewers are now and you can never surprise them with what happens, you can only surprise them with when it happens. I think about that a lot when watching The Blacklist. Most people had Lizzie being Red’s daughter as early as when NBC released its first trailer. I began to think that maybe Red may be the father of Lizzie’s husband instead when it was revealed her father was alive and well (as far as she knew) in the series premiere. But as time went on, I went back to thinking that it was Lizzie who came from Red’s loins, a fact that was all but confirmed when Red killed Lizzie’s “father” when her “father” wanted to tell her some big secret. So the question is not if Lizzie is Red’s daughter but when the writers let us in on this fact.

Being one of those “smart” television watchers that the Homeland dude spoke of, the winter finale seem like the most logical. Lizzie’s “dad” was killed by Red two episodes and the last promo suggests that the baddie was going to assassinate Lizzie next if Red did not plead for his daughter’s life? Except that “fact” ended up not coming to light and Red got that other dude from Homeland to give up the code. But the evidence was mounting so high that even Lizzie started to suspect that Red was her father that at the end of the episode she straight up asks him if it were true. Her it comes, and his answer was… no. What?!?

So either two things are going on: 1) Red is telling the truth. Then what was this big secret that he killed her father over about (could she be Alan Alda’s kid and she is the big thing Red has over Alan for the last twenty years that has kept him alive)? Or 2) Red is lying and the writers are prolonging the obvious even longer. I am not sure I like either scenario going forward.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download The Blacklist on iTunes.

The Goldbergs: The second Legend of Zelda game was the bane of my existence as a kid and to this day I never finished it. Now in the age of YouTube, I may have to dig out the Nintendo and see if I can finally conquer it.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download The Goldbergs on iTunes.

Sons of Anarchy: I have this fear that the show is going to just reset and have Tara get back with Jax. But I really cannot see her go into wtnes protection because then we will just have another season with Jax trying to find his kid. They already did that back in season three which was the worst season of the series. Plus I have a feeling now that Jax has killed Clay, one of the few things the show has left to do is have Tara kill Gemma.
You can download Sons of Anarchy on iTunes.

Survivor: Blood vs. Water: Stupid promo monkeys ruined the surprise that the votes would be deadlocked but I was surprised as who it was flipped. I assumed it was Monica that Hayden got to flip convincing she was on the bottom, but nope, Ciera for some reason decided to flop after making a big deal about not turning on their alliance last week. So not only did she flop, someone she voted with someone who ended up drawing the short straw. Bad move Ciera. So that was only the second tie since the show went to picking rocks and I find it interesting this week Probst clarified on Twitter that at final four if there is a tie, the players make fire. I wonder if we get another tie this season.
You can stream recent episodes on You can also download Survivor: Blood vs. Water on iTunes.

Nashville: Layla is quickly moving up the Nashville Power Rankings with each passing episode and now has positioned herself at number three. And Juliette will probably not be very happy that she is close to being overtaken by Layla. The show this season has been at its best when one storyline focuses on their feud. Hopefully Layla gets upgraded to series regular soon. She could take the place of the gay cowboy who has been worthless since he has joined. Either out him to the general public now or just write him off the show (when Layla called TMZ I actually thought she was going to out him).
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Nashville on iTunes.

The Sound of Music Live!: About an hour in I wrote “I was not expecting Julie Andrews but wow, Carrie Underwood is getting out-acted by a bunch of minor. Hopefully someone falls down the stairs soon.” But really aside from the wooden performances from the two big named leads, it was an entertaining production. Sure I have some complaints: having a live production that is not in front of a live audience just felt weird. Same goes for the obviously taped orchestration. I was expecting applause in-between acts but you could hear a pin drop. It was also a weird that the cast did not get a curtain call (granted it would have been even weird to take a bow in front of an empty soundstage). And of course it would have been a lot more memorable had someone fallen down the stairs. But since it was a rating bonanza (it had two million more viewers than The Big Bang Theory during the same half hour), I suspect another live production will happen again next year and may I suggest A Christmas Carol. Just do it in front of a live audience. I even have the casting: Kelsey Grammar as Ebenezer Scrooge, Ted Danson as Jacob Marley, Neil Patrick Harris as Bob Crachet, and Emma Stone as the Ghost of Christmas Past (just without a bad eighty’s wig).