Saturday, February 22, 2014

Best of the Week: 2/22/14

Quote of the Week: Set phasers to fun. (Xander Jeanneret, King of the Nerds)

Song of the Week: Nothin' but Trouble - Lily Lane (Pretty Little Liars)

Big News of the Week: Blame Canada: Vladimar Putin said before the Olympics that if the Russians won gold in ice hockey, none of the other gold medals would matter. If the Russians did not win the gold, none of the other gold medals would matter. Of all the American disappointments this Winter Olympics, Shawn White, no figure skating medals since the thirties, three combined Curling wins, a short track shutout in medals, all would have been forgiven if we grabbed the gold in hockey. Unfortunately for the second straight Olympics, the Americans were eliminated by one goal by those darn dirty Canadians. Making things worse in the women’s gold medal game, Canada tied the game in the final minute (with the US hitting the post of an empty goal) and went on to win in overtime. It is enough that the banished Justin Bieber to our country, but could we at least get one hockey gold, something the men have never done on foreign soil, please.

Preview Picture of the Week:

“Raw Deal” Justified, Tuesday at 10:00 on FX

Free Download of the Week: A Nightmare Before Summer – Nicole Atkins (Noise Trade)

New Album Release of the Week: Morning Phase - Beck

New DVD Release of the Week: Thor: The Dark World

Video of the Week: After The Avengers collected almost all the money, Marvel got cocky enough that it started greenlighting movies and television shows for even some of their most obscure properties. First up is Guardians of the Galaxies which features a talking tree and a gun toting raccoon. The movie finally hits screens in August but we finally got to see our first official trailer this week in an effort for Jimmy Kimmel Live to pull some eyeballs away from the latest iteration of The Tonight Show (bad news for Jimmy Fallon, he pulled in around the same numbers as Conan did when he took over for Leno). The trailer makes it looks like the reject version of The Avengers, and I mean that in an entertaining way. Now if only Marvel can get characters as interesting as a gun toting raccoon or a talking tree on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. they will managed to collect all the money.

Next Week Pick of the Week: Hannibal, Friday at 10:00 on NBC: With the Olympics ending this weekend, there are a glut of new and returning shows premiering next week (not to mention most that took the last two weeks off) but one of them stand above them all, the second season premiere of the best new show of last year, Hannibal. When we left off, Hannibal Lecter so toyed with Will Graham, everyone thought Will was the one that was doing all of the killing, but in a moment of clarity, Will finally realized that his physiatrist was setting him up, just as he was committed to a facility for the criminally insane. Hopefully the show does not have a sophomore slump and can prosper now that it is paired with Grimm on Friday nights. Here is a list of other premieres next week worth mentioning:

The Voice, Monday and Tuesday at 8:00
Dallas, Monday at 9:00 on TNT
About a Boy, Tuesday at 9:00 on NBC (sneak peak tonight after the Olympics)
Growing up Fisher, Tuesday at 9:30 on NBC (sneak peak tomorrow after the Closing Ceremonies)
Perception, Tuesday at 10:00 on TNT
Survivor: Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty, Wednesday at 8:00 on CBS
The Americans, Wednesday at 10:00 on FX
Vikings, Thursday at 10:00 on History

Friday, February 21, 2014

Around the Tubes: 2/21/14

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 Penny Dreadful, Growing up Fisher, The Americans, Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge, Snake Salvation, Walking with Dinosaurs, AMHQ with Sam Champion, Live from Space, Mad Men, Shameless, House of Lies, and Syfy spring schedule.

- As the momentum and excitement builds in anticipation of the Sunday, May 11th premiere, Showtime has released the full-length trailer of its highly-anticipated drama series Penny Dreadful. Currently in production in Ireland, the eight-episode series stars Josh Hartnett (Black Hawk Down), Timothy Dalton (The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill) and Eva Green (Casino Royale). Reeve Carney (Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark), Rory Kinnear (Skyfall), Billie Piper (Doctor Who, Secret Diary of a Call Girl), Danny Sapani (The Bill) and Harry Treadaway (The Lone Ranger) also star.

- You can catch the series premiere of Growing up Fisher after the Closing Ceremonies of the Olympics Sunday before it settles into its regular timeslot Tuesdays at 9:30. Until then, you can watch the cast watching curling.

- The Americans return Wednesday at 10:00 on FX and here is a first look at the new season:

- This spring, ten aspiring creature creators will compete to join the ranks of the legendary Jim Henson's Creature Shop. Watch them compete for the job of a lifetime on Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge, premiering March 25 at 10:00, only on Syfy.

- National Geographic Channel (NGC) announced this week a special episode that will examine the life of Pastor Jamie Coots, who was bitten by a rattlesnake during church service this past Saturday and died that evening after reports that his family refused medical attention following his wishes. In practicing his religious beliefs, Pastor Coots’ unfaltering dedication to his faith was often tested by health and legal risks. Snake Salvation: They Shall Take Up Serpents, a compilation from the series, will premiere tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 20, at 10:00.

- Originally broadcast in 1999, BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs set out to create the most accurate portrayal of prehistoric animals ever seen on a screen. A near 15 years later, the dino-classic has been reimagined for the big screen with the help of BBC Earth and Animal Logic (300, The Matrix Trilogy), lending digital dino magic to bring these beasts to life once again in the 2013 animated feature. On March 25th the journey is migrating to Blu-ray/DVD and Digital HD from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, offering moviegoers the chance to bring the explosive visual experience home. Included with the 3D Blu-ray combo pack comes a special “Cretaceous Cut,” to pay homage to the original series in the sense that the characters exhibit relationships with each other, but do not talk, while also providing the theatrical cut (which includes voiceovers) to help tell a specific storyline.

- The Weather Channel, the world's leading weather authority, is set to premiere its new flagship live morning show AMHQ with Sam Champion on Monday, March 17. The series will air weekdays from 7:00-10:00 a.m. ET. The Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning weather anchor, who also serves as managing editor, will anchor the three-hour weekday show alongside a team of co-hosts that includes meteorologists Maria LaRosa and Mike Bettes live from The Weather Channel headquarters in Atlanta. Champion, who spent a combined 25 years at ABC’s flagship O&O WABC-TV and “Good Morning America,” will serve as a trusted source viewers can depend on to forecast the day ahead.

- National Geographic Channel also announced this week that celebrated journalist, producer and television host Soledad O’Brien ( @soledadobrien) has joined the network’s global television event Live from Space as host and co-executive producer. O’Brien will broadcast live from Mission Control in Houston during the program, taking viewers into orbit, literally circling the globe, to offer a unique perspective on astronaut life and work aboard the ISS. The program will air LIVE on Friday, March 14 at 8:00 on the National Geographic Channel in the U.S. and in 170 other countries, and on Channel 4 in the U.K. It will also simulcast on NGC’s Spanish-language network in the U.S., Nat Geo MUNDO.

- As cable television readies itself for the first half of the final season of AMC’s acclaimed period drama Mad Men, The Saturday Evening Post interviews Jon Hamm and five other key cast members as well as series creator Matt Weiner.

- Good news for fans of Shameless and House of Lies, both have been picked up for a fifth and fourth season respectively. In other Showtime news, Wendell Pierce has joined the cast of the second season of Ray Donovan which is set to premiere this summer.

- Syfy recently released their Spring schedule and here are the highlights:

Carvers (Original Special): Tuesday, March 4 at 10:00
My Big Fat Geek Wedding (Original Special): Tuesday, March 11 at 10:00
Foxy and Co (Original Special): Tuesday, March 18 at 10:00
Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge (Series Premiere): Tuesday, March 25 at 10:00
Continuum (Season 3 Premiere): Friday, April 4 at 10:00
Warehouse 13 (Season 5 Premiere): Monday, April 13 at 9:00
Metal Hurlan Chronicles (Series Premiere): Monday, April 13 at 10:00 and 10:30
Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse (Original Movie Premiere): April TBD

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Feed Your iPod LXXXII: Potholes in My Lawn

Earlier this week De La Soul celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of their debut album 3 Feet High and Rising by putting up their entire catalogue for free for twenty-five hours. De la Soul seems to be lost in the annals of time. Maybe because it was because they were never flashy, just good. Maybe it is because A Tribe Called Quest gets all the backpack rapper shine. Maybe it was because their albums did not make it to the digital age (at least legally) because of licensing issues. But going through their catalogue, especially those first three albums are worth rediscovering so hopefully you grabbed them when you could. When I think of De La Soul, my mind usually goes first to Potholes in my Lawn, a phrase to this day I still laugh at(at least until I found numerous potholes in my own lawn), which was the first De La song I ever heard and to day, remains one of their best.

Potholes in My Lawn – De La Soul

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Amazon 2014 Pilots Power Rankings

Amazon Prime started out as a service that would get you free two day shipping for a low yearly price. As an added bonus, eventually they let you steam free content from their site. Sure the content sucked and no one signed up for Prime other than those that wanted the shipping deal. Last year, Amazon dipped their toe into the Netflix market went they put up a bunch of original comedies with the two most well received being picked up to series (but unlike Netflix, you can purchase individual episodes and seasons). The problem was most of them ranged from mediocre to painful to sit through and looked like they were on a webseries budget, not which of something that would rival networks like Netflix’s original programming. Most notable was a serial version of Zombieland which replace Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and the future Lex Luther for a cast that seemed to be plucked from your local community theater (granted the only good one, Alpha House was greenlighted).

Apparently learning from their mistakes, this crop for Pilot Season was all at the very least watchable and also included two dramas this time around. They even cast recognizable actors in the shows instead of amateurs. It is curious that they released these Pilots the day of the Winter Olympics Opening Cerimonies though it did work as viable counterprogramming as almost everything went on Olympics hiatus (maybe not so coincidently these Pilots were released a week before Netflix’s critically adored House of Cards). And I was able to watch them all between curling matches. Here is how I rank them. (To watch yourself, click on the show’s image to be taken to Amazon Instant Video where you can watch all the Pilots for free.)

1. The After – It has been a while since we have seen anything from Chris Carter. The only thing on his resume after the end of The X-Files is as the producer of The X-Files: I Want to Believe. Of course back in The X-Files days, he was one of the few sci-fi shows on the dial along with whatever Star Trek spin-off was airing on UPN at the time. In the post-Lost era, now every station, network or cable has their own science fiction show (or continue to find one that sticks in many cases). The After features eight strangers (the dude from Heroes, the dude from Leverage, the white chick from Soul Plane, the chick from NYPD Blue, Jamie Kennedy in clown makeup among them) stuck in parking garage at the end of the world. Of course this is not a chance meeting otherwise this would not be a Chris Carter show (a surprise character at the end of the Pilot makes it very clear that it is a Chris Carter show). During the first hours it is hard not to think of Lost (strangers that happen upon something supernatural), FlashForward (this is missing time), and Revolution (power stops working, but not in a stupid way like Revolution). But this is the creator of modern day sci-fi, so this show has the most upside of all the Pilots.

2. The Rebels – This show is basically what Major League would be if they focused on the cheerleader turned widow of a profession sport team except it is the other owners who want her to sell and move the team. But what made Major League great were the wacky characters. The Rebels focus too much on the straight owner Natalie Zea (Raylan Givens’ baby mama) who biggest joke is wanting to change the team's "costumes" and her assistant turned general manager. The best parts of the Pilot are whenever the coked up, monkey buying wide receiver is on screen (well I do not remember if they stated his position, but he is clearly a wide receiver because they are all crazy). If they end up focusing on the wacky locker-room hijacks instead of the boardroom, The Rebels could have the most potential of all the comedies this season.

3. Mozart in the Jungle – Based on the cover image and the opening scenes, this show could easily be mistaken as a drama. There are a few dramas that have more and more effective laughs. Really Gael Garcia Bernal (I’m with Lucy) seems like he is acting in a farce about a conductor while everyone else seems to be starring in a Smash spin-off which goes behind the scenes of a prestigious orchestra.

4. Bosch: Titus Welliver may not be a household name, but if you have watched any dramas over the past decade, you have undoubtedly seen him as he has been in roughly fifty percent of them over the past ten years. Though despite in appearing in about fifty different shows in his career, he has only been in the main cast twice. Now he is the lead of Bosch which appropriately is littered with actors that you will recognize but may not know where from exactly with the exception of Herschel Green from The Walking Dead who is still sporting his post-apocalypse ponytail and straggly beard. Bosch is another cop show (Welliver is the titular character) with a gruff detective that gets the job done. The show starts off with Bosch on trail for shooting a perp while on the weekend he is investigation the murder of a young boy who was buried in the woods. It is clear that Bosch is connected to the case, be it involved himself or maybe he was beaten as a child, it remains unclear from the Pilot. But it feels like I have already seen this show many times before. It is surprising that the show is not already on TNT right now.

5. Transparent – Another comedy in the sense that it is only thirty minutes long, not in that you will spend much time laughing. This one is about three children of a man (George Bluth Sr. himself Jeffery Tambor) who seems to be going through a midlife crises when he calls his children over some big news (like probably most viewers, the children think it is cancer). There is a big plot twist halfway through that makes the title make complete sense. But none of it is funny at all, it does not even seem like it is trying to be funny. Really the only thing the show has going for it is that it looks like it is trying to beat Californication’s record for most nudity in a “comedy” title.

Though these Pilots were a vast improvement over the last bunch, Alpha House remains the best overall.   None this year would make me want to want to subscribe to Amazon Prime, especially if they are going to double the price of it in the near future.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I Want My Music Television: 2/18/2014

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.

Invincible – U2

U2 seemed a little too adamant that Invisible is NOT the first single of their yet to be announced next album (which looks like will not be coming out until summer now). Instead it was just released to remind people they are still around. Um, you guys just released a song for the Mandela soundtrack late last year. It was almost like Bono was saying, if you do not love this song, do not worry, there is a better song coming. It is wise because this would be a fairly uninspiring first single. But the light show going on the background of the music video is pretty cool.

Everything Is AWESOME!!! – Tegan and Sara featuring The Lonely Island

When you are on The Lego Movie Soundtrack, Tegan and Sara pretty much had to have a Lego themed music video. Though just putting Legos on pencils, that is a bit too lazy especially when you compare it to the Lego heavy White Stripes video for Fell in Love with a Girl.

L8 CMMR – Lily Allen

This is the weakest of the new songs we have gotten from Lily Allen over the past two months. Hopefully it is on the Girls Soundtrack because it just is not good enough to make it on her upcoming album. But as disappointing as the song is, the 8-bit themed lyrics video more than makes up for it.

I Need My Girl – The National

I probably should like The National more than I do, they are from Ohio and specialize in the sad bastard songs that I like to put on repeat. I think maybe the singer is just not palatable to me. But they have been putting out some interesting music videos lately. The most recent is for touching I Need My Girl which was appropriately released on Valentine’s Day.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 2/16/14

Shameless: That took long enough for the first Ian sighting of the season. I wonder if we will get a full back story of what happened since we last aw him. It is odd that they guy spent his whole life working towards getting into the armed forces and then screws it up so royally when he gets there. While it did not take long for Fiona’s world to completely fall down after having sex with her boyfriend’s brother. He breaks up with her; she gets transferred, brother leaves coke at the house which Liam gets into, which leads Fiona to jail. The Gallagher’s have gotten out of hairy situations before but it is hard to stay together after one of the kids ingests your Coke. Maybe Sheila and Chief Running Water adopts the kids is the only way I see that happening.

The Walking Dead: Whoever thought it was a good idea to spend most of an episode with Carl should be left for zombie food, or at the very least fired. Goodness that was a boring and annoying hour of television. At least Michonne when H.A.M. on her zombie doppelganger.
You can download The Walking Dead on iTunes.

House of Lies: So it looks like Clyde is getting back into the fold by bringing in Eliza Coupe (though Jennie may be counting that chicken long before it hatches) but is he also actually going to hire Monica? I could see Roscoe guilting his father into it. And it would be funny seeing Marty hire Monica as the lowest level associate. The only way it would be funnier is if Marty hired the person who stabbed her to be Monica’s direct supervisor.

Switched at Birth: Holy Wallace Fennel’s mom sighting!
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Switched at Birth on iTunes.

Pretty Little Liars: I usually hate dream sequences with a fiery passion, but the black an white noir episode was one of the better Pretty Little Liars episode in a while (although somehow Toby is an even worse actor when devoid of color). The show made it clear up front that it was all a dream and meant nothing else than it was the catalyst for Spencer to realize that A changed Alison’s diary which could be clues as to what he is hiding. She also came to the realization that now Erza knows that they know he’s A. This show may be ramping up again.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Pretty Little Liars on iTunes.

Justified: Poor Boyd, every time he tries to help Ava, she ends up in a worse situation. Considering how she has already taken a shotgun to one Crowder, I wonder how long she will put up with this one. But the worst of luck goes to Dewey. It always go to Dewey. He tries to sell the pool Raylan shot up, plots to kidnap Boyd only to get one of his henchmen and then, of course, the plot is happened across by Raylan.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Justified on iTunes.

King of the Nerds: Wow, is Zack actually going to win the whole thing? This is truly the origins story of a super-villain we are watching. I am guessing there is going to be a lab experiment gone wrong in the final challenge.
You can download King of the Nerds on iTunes.