Saturday, March 08, 2014

Best of the Week: 3/8/14

Quote of the Week: Spare us the wiener act. Bullying is a vital part of every ecosystem, it teaches kids resilience. The world is a rough place. Bullying is like getting inoculated: it’s a vaccine. And you little (expletive deleted), you got to learn to stay away from people like my son. That is what you learn when you get punched in the face by a bully. How do you think Steve Jobs turned out so great? Bullies. And I guentee Junior here will be getting the hottest chicks when he’s thirty because he got bullied today. Do you want to peak now? My kid will be picking up roadside garbage in an orange jumpsuit in ten years and you’re kid will be in med school curing cancer and getting laid. You’re welcome. (Frank Gallahger, Shameless)

Song of the Week: Hungry Heart – Bruce Springsteen (Growing Up Fisher)

Scene of the Week:

Big News of the Week: Something Is Happening in the Ukraine: The Olympics are all about watching sports unite the world. Apparently Vladimir Putin was not paying close attention because just after the Closing Ceremonies, he was turning his eyes to invading former territory Ukraine. Despite spending the last week and a half of news on the subject, I am still not entirely sure what is going on because half of the talking heads are finding ways to blame this all on Obama while the other half are pointing out how crazy the other half is. Le sigh.

Preview Picture of the Week:

"Wrong Roads" Justified, Tuesday at 10:00 on FX

Free Download of the Week: Headfirst – Jillian Edwards (Noisetrade)

New Album Release of the Week: Veronica Mars: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

New DVD Release of the Week: Inside Llewyn Davis

Video of the Week: Last week at the end of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. we were introduced to Lorelei, an Asgardian temptress who finds her way to Death Valley and gets a newlywed to ditch his wife to drive her somewhere. Since Thor is too important to slum it on television and Marvel needs some extra promotion for his movie which landed on DVD two weeks ago (watch Thor: The Dark World now just in case their are spoilers even though the episode right after the movie hit theaters was fairly vague), the promos show that it will be Lady Sif that will come to battle the villain. Now I have had my issues with the show, but if they somehow manage to get Lady Sif and Skye is a wrestling match, it will likely turn out to be the greatest television episode ever in the history of television.

Next Week Pick of the Week: Once Upon a Time, Sunday at 8:00 on ABC: The show has left Neverland about ten episode two late and now, um, I cannot remember what happened last. (Heads to Wikipedia.) Oh yeah, Peter Pan’s unleashed a new curse that Regina negated by Regina when she un did her original curse. So Storybrooke is no more, all the fairy tale characters back in their respective world with Emma and Henry living together without any memory of what happened. Until Captain Hook started to bang on their door. Hopefully this new direction is a better course because Nederland was a massive drag. There will be a new antagonist in the form of the Wicked Witch of the West. No word yet if Dorothy, the Wizard, or the three other witches will make an appearance. But there better be bad CGI flying monkeys.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Around the Tubes: 3/7/14

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 True Detective, American Comedy Awards, Music Mavericks, On the Menu, Friends of the People, John Ashton, Karla Moheno, and Thick as Thieves.

- True Detective closes out its first season (and only one with the current leads) this Sunday at 9:00 on HBO and here is a clip to get you ready for the finale:

- NBC and Don Mischer Productions announced this week the nominations for the American Comedy Awards, airing May 15 at 9:00 on NBC. The “American Comedy Awards” is one of the only award shows in which the winners are determined through a combination of fan voting and voting among entertainment industry professionals. Voting is now open, and the public is encouraged to help pick the winners in all 19 categories by voting online at or on Facebook via the American Comedy Awards Facebook Voting App. Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. ET/8:59 p.m. PT on March 18. You must be at least 13 years old to vote.

- This Sunday, March 9th, Ovation is proud to present the latest episode of Music Mavericks, featuring Billy Joel. A hit-maker in the 70s, 80, and 90s, Joel has had a whopping 33 Top 40 hits, all of which he wrote. He’s won six Grammys, sold over 150 million records worldwide and has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. In 2013, he received the Kennedy Center Honor, the nation’s highest honor, for influencing American culture through the arts. This profile shows how a kid from the Bronx was influenced by the Beatles and went on to become one of the most-successful singer-songwriter-pianists of all time.

- Ty Pennington (Trading Spaces, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition) is heading to the kitchen to host TNT's new series On the Menu, with legendary Chef Emeril Lagasse (Emeril Live, Top Chef, Emeril's Florida) signing on as Menu Master. On the Menu is television's first cooking show ever to give viewers the chance to taste the winning dish after every episode, as well as give everyday cooks the chance to have their dish appear in dining institutions across the country.

- truTV has given the greenlight to its first-ever sketch-comedy series: Friends of the People. The series stars comedians Kevin Barnett (Sleepwalk with Me, Guy Code),Jennifer Bartels (In Living Color reboot, Broken Exes), Jermaine Fowler (the upcoming Comedy Underground with Dave Attell), Lil Rel Howery (In Living Color reboot,Variety's "10 Comics to Watch"), The Lucas Bros. (upcoming 22 Jump Street, Fox’s Lucas Bros Moving Co.) and Josh Rabinowitz (I Just Want My Pants Back, Comedy Central's Comics to Watch). The network has ordered 10 episodes, including the pilot, with plans to launch the series in summer 2014. Friends of the People is being produced by 3 Arts Entertainment and Marobru Productions (Chappelle's Show, Comedy Underground with Dave Attell).

- Guitar legend John Ashton and former member of the iconic Psychedelic Furs has announced an all-star project that involves a long list of admired musicians who have shaped the course of music. After years of producing, occasional cameos, and family time, Ashton is making his long-awaited return as an artist with a collection of songs on Satellite Paradiso. Ashton partnered with the PledgeMusic direct-to-fan platform so fans can have the unprecedented chance to be a part of the album-making process. All pledgers receive a digital download of the album once it's ready and access to exclusive updates which document the final journey to the completion of this project.

- New York City-based rock singer and songwriter Karla Moheno releases her new single, Blacked Out and Blue off of her debut album Gone to Town. The single, which premiered on ARTISTdirect, was inspired by Moheno's experience during Hurricane Sandy in the fall of 2012. "The song is about making the best out of a bad situation", Moheno explains, "In that case, it was riding out the storm with some booze and music making".

- LA Band, Thick as Thieves have released the video to their latest single Ghosts off their EP These Days. Ghosts is about the desire to suppress the longing for someone you can no longer be with, but fearing that the feeling will always haunt you. The video follows the downward spiral of a legendary gaming character after the split from his equally famous wife.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Previewing Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

Since everything from the eighties is getting rebooted these days it should not be that surprising that even nature shows like Cosmos is getting a new millennium version. But where the world did not really need a newer version of Endless Love, Cosmos actually deserved being updated because a lot has been discovered o the subject over the past thirty-four years. Plus, I for one, and probably everyone my age and younger than me, never saw the original.

Like the original, the updated series, this time with the subtitle A Spacetime Odyssey instead of A Personal Voyage, will air thirteen episodes. Stepping in for the dearly departed Carl Sagan is astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson who is probably best known to pop culture people for his cameo on the Big Bang Theory and his series of tweets last year criticizing Gravity (sample tweet: “The film #Gravity should be renamed ‘Angular Momentum’”). Near the end of first episode, Tyson gives a touching recollection of the time he met Sagan as a teenager.

Despite looking and sounding like one of the more interesting video your science teacher makes you watch when (s)he does not trust the substitute teacher to be competent, Cosmos is still a very compelling watch. First off we are introduced to Tyson’s “spaceship” (which looks like something out of the newer Star Wars trilogy) that will take us to the ends of the universe explaining our space “address” line by line giving the viewer of just where we are in the grand scheme of things.

Then we are transported back in time to the birth of Renaissance when Giordana Bruno first tried to suggest that Earth was not the center of the universe and that we actually revolve around the sun (which is with crudely drawn cartoons despite boasting Seth McFarlane as a producer). But the most fascinating part of the premiere is when Tyson has us look at the Cosmic Calendar which puts the Big Bang on January 1 and today on New Year’s Eve. Cosmos manages to take a very complex subject and put them in ways that the laymen should easily understand and should be appointment television for learners of all ages.

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey airs Sundays at 9:00 on Fox. You can also catch each episode the following day at 10:00 on the National Geographic Channel. For those interested in (re)watching the original Carl Sagan version Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, the National Geographic Channel will be airing all thirteen episodes this weekend, from noon to 6:00 on Saturday and will continue on Sunday from noon to 7:00.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Previewing Cesar 911

After over a hundred episodes, The Dog Whisperer came to an end two years ago. But Cesar Millan continued his relationship with Nat Geo Wild last year with the premiere of Leader of the Pack where Cesar would try to find homes for high maintenance dogs. Cesar is back with a new show this Friday, Cesar 911 which bares many similarities to the show that introduced him to the nation and will air six episodes this season.

For all intents and purposes, Cesar 911 is just The Dog Whisperer but instead of owners at their wits end calling on his help, it is neighbors, co-workers, relatives, friends, and significant others who call Cesar for essentially a doggy intervention. Then Cesar and the whistleblowers ambush the owners and their unruly dogs usually on walks to air their grievances with Cesar offering his services to help. This small twist does add the intrigue of if the owners are willing to take Cesar’s help. Of course they all do because there would not be a show, but it is clear that one or two are resentful of the ambush. There are a couple of employees that call Cesar on their bosses which could very well effect their employment down the road.

So Cesar is back to familiar territories helping dogs and their owners. Of course the pack and his Dog Psychology Center come back into play (have he always had llamas). This season he will run into a trio of terror who like to honk the horn when they are stuck in the car, a spoiled Chihuahua who likes to go after ankles at a dance studio, and many more. And since the owners are not the ones asking for help, Cesar also has to do much more work training the humans too. There is even one relationship this season where Cesar suggest that an owner should either choose her dog or her boyfriend. And she does end the episode separated from one of them.

Cesar 911 airs Fridays 9:00 on Nat Geo Wild.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

I Want My Music Television: 3/4/14

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.

Midnight – Coldplay

Usually when an artist drops a new song, it is accompanied by big fan fair, maybe a press release about a new album. But now we are living in a post-Beyoncé world where artists are getting more and more cryptic. Prior to releasing a new music video, Coldplay posted on social media that they would be releasing something, at midnight in the time zone local to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. The song ended up being entitled Midnight and is this weird Bon Iver meets Radiohead track with an even weirder accompanying video. A week later they did announce a new album coming in May with pre-order where the insta-download track being a more traditional sounding Magic (though it is more bass heavy than previous Coldplay work) which they are calling the first single instead of Midnight which is stuck in the very middle of the album.

Partition - Beyoncé

Speaking of Beyoncé, she just officially released a new music video (though if you bought the visual album, you have already seen it). It weird that after giving birth, her music videos have gotten more sexual between this and Drunk in Love as if she has something to prove. And she definitely is proving something. Why do I think this is just your average Monday in the Carter household?

If I Could Change Your Mind – Haim

Even though they are a band who play their own instruments, listening to their music, you can easily tell that Haim are heavily influenced by girl groups of the nineties and their latest music video is just a great throwback to that era. Of course the song itself is a throwback lamenting “lying eyes” which were a staple in lyrics back in the eighties and nineties (I guess songwriters today date people with better poker faces). And like I do whenever they release something new, it is time to update the Haim Sisters Power Rankings and after this video I have Alana in pole position.

Arabella – Arctic Monkeys

The golden age of music video nudity continues with Arctic Monkeys who latest looks like a mix between an old noir flick and old time peep show.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Previewing Bates Motel: Season Two

Bates Motel had the unfortunate luck of being the lesser of two serial killer prequel that premiered last spring because the better in almost every single way Hannibal (granted the other serial killer themed show The Following, which I did not bother to watch but hear mostly bad things, doubled their combined ratings). It also did not help that the show was created by Carlton Cuse in his first project after helming quite possibly the most divisive series finale in the history of television with Lost. So Vera Farmiga’s tour de force performance as Norma Bates went mostly unmentioned as the rest of the show failed to live up to her intensity.

Last season ended with Norman getting some sweet loving from the token hot chick at school and then killing his hot teacher in a blind rage. Alrighty. Bates Motel returns tonight (three days after the superb second season premiere of Hannibal) on the next day before quickly forwarding four months after the cold open. Business is surprisingly booming at the Bates Motel (and of course the surrounding pot economy around the city). But much like last season, there is still a dark underbelly to the town and someone is just getting out of a mental facility after what transpired four months ago.

I had some issues with the first season. Most it was boring and all of the characters not named Norma were fairly useless. But the show returns with a bang tonight. More specifically it ends with a bang, setting up a season that should easily surpass the underwhelming first. They even give the most useless of all the useless characters something very interesting to by the end of the first episode. Just based on what happened, the second season premier is a vast improvement over the first but still pails in comparison to Hannibal.

Bates Motel airs Mondays at 9:00 on A&E followed by Bates Motel After Hours at 10:00. You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Bates Motel on iTunes.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 3/2/14

Shameless: That was a lot more entertaining than last week’s mope fest. Who would have guess womb fratricide could be so funny? And they really should use Mickey more often. Sure he is not the best actor on the show, but he definitely delivers the funniest lines.

The Walking Dead: Where have the three amigos been all this time? As the show struggled to find characters worth caring about, these three show and are already high in the show’s power ranking (same goes with the lesbian tag along). We do learn who they are and what they are about this week. Well that is if we are to believe that the mulletted scientist (seriously, a mulletted scientist is awesome) actually does know what caused the zombie outbreak and how to cure it. Of course Glen and his irrational love ruined the trip to DC. Hey Glen, how about not attacking the military guy? That probably was not the smartest thing ever. I do wonder if Abraham is connected to the military guys The Governor killed a couple seasons back (probably not because I think that was two or three showrunners ago).
You can download The Walking Dead on iTunes.

Switched at Birth: Who knew you could mumble speaking in ASL? But enough about sign language quirks, Wallace Fennel’s mom stabbed a dude! Did not see that coming.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Switched at Birth on iTunes.

The Voice: Last year, Usher and Shakira were clearly overmatched with Adam and Blake running circles around them. I give Shakira a pass because no one great picked her over the other coaches aside from the three Latinas (none of which she took to the Live Shows). Usher on the other hand did pull in some ringers during the Blind Audition but managed to end up with a worse team than Shakira when the show went live due to some bad coaching decisions (like cutting Ryan Innes and Jess Kellner) and some horrible Battle Round pairings which led to some of the most painful to sit through performances ever (Josiah vs. Jeff may have been the worst non-montaged Battle ever).

So I was disappointed that Usher picked up four of my five favorite acts in the first week. Maybe they can be stolen before Usher ruins them. Then Shakira continued picking up the scraps with three uninspiring singers, none of which seems like Live Shows material. Since she is in his chair, Shakira really should go with the Cee-Lo philosophy of taking fliers on weirder contestants no one else wants. Adam may be the four-chair champion, but it is more impressive what Cee-Lo did when he was the only one to turn around (Jamar Rogers, Nicholas David, Amanda Brown, and Cole Vosbury among them). Shakira may have done better with Marina Mia and / or Keith Shuskie, both who seemed more promising than the three she did pick up who scream fodder to me.

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

The Blacklist: Was Red’s interpolation of a gay homosexual offensive? Maybe. Was it entertaining? Very.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download The Blacklist on iTunes.

Castle: After the second person came forward and confessed, I thought for sure that the killer was a hypnotist who convinced people they were the ones to commit the murder. That would be a pretty ingenious way of getting away with it.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Castle on iTunes.

Pretty Little Liars: Oh snap, Aria went H.A.M. on Ezra’s apartment. But I am wondering if Erza really is telling the truth about not being A and is just a very overzealous writer doing anything for a story. Then again it is also plausible that he is both and the person who tried to kill Ally is someone completely different. And just how many dudes is Hanna going to awkwardly kiss? Caleb is not going to be happy when he returns to Rosewood now that his spin-off has been canceled.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Pretty Little Liars on iTunes.

Justified: Even though it was basically a procedural its first season, it is weird now when they have a standalone episode in the middle of the season (at least I am assuming that this case will not have any bearing on the rest of the series). Of course there was plenty of humor in Raylan chasing down a one legged computer hacker who drained his bank accounts. Although with all that was going on with the Crowders, the Crows, and the brewing feud between Alison and Wendy, the case just seemed rushed.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Justified on iTunes.

Survivor: Cagayan: A couple seasons ago I suggested that Survivor should do a Morons vs. Masterminds season and though that was a conceit for an All Star version, Brains vs. Beauty vs. Brawn may be as close as they get (as log as you assume jocks and models are not very smart). When the show was announce I originally thought that the Beauty tribe would be at a distinctive advantage because Immunity Challenges are geared to brute strength and mental puzzles, but low and behold they won the first one and came from way behind on the Brains tribe on a puzzle in the second.

That sent the Brains to Tribal for the second straight time. It has become very clear extremely soon that all of them are just overthinking everything and it seems like every master plan backfired on everyone who thought they were in control. First David targeted Garrett because he was a threat later in the game instead of the easy vote of J’Tia. Then Garrett was paranoid to not let anyone out of his sight but was not paranoid to not play his Hidden Immunity Idol. And just like that J’Tia is the Ciera of this season inexplicably surviving two votes she had no business making past (hopfully she turns out to be as entertaining as Ciera). Seriously, how do you not vote off the chick that dumped out your rice when you did not even win the fishing supplies?

But the all-stars of the first two episodes was the new budding friendship of former Trailblazer Cliff Robinson and the guy who had his basketball cards Woo (well those two and Morgan’s overworked underwear; my first impression of the “Beauty” tribe was underwhelming but I was proved extremely wrong with Morgan who sure likes bending over). Hopefully Tony, who is targeting Cliff, overplays his hand like everyone on the Brains tribe and finds his torch being snuffed out with Immunity in his pocket. Cliff and Woo would make a solid final two (and Morgan as the third for other obvious reasons).
You can stream recent episodes on You can also download Survivor: Cagayan on iTunes.

The Americans: The first season really launched the type of great show that has everything you should want, great acting, great writing, but it was just missing some intangible that keeps me from getting too excited for the show (FX continued that trend with The Bridge over the summer). I do have a feeling that with The Americans, it is hard to root for a couple of communist especially since we know they lost the Cold War. I am still in on the show and though I am still not waiting breathlessly for a new episode, my excitement level has raised a little after the season two premiere. I do like Paige is starting to snoop around her parents and seeing how they deal with learning her parents are Russian spies. But is she going to continue to snoop after catching her parents in the act? And now the parents have seen firsthand what can happen when he walked in on his friends murdered along with their daughter. It will be interesting to see if they are most loyal to their children or their country when it comes down to it. But when it comes down to it, I still hope they fast forward to the end of the Cold War to see how the Jennings adapt then. But that is still almost a decade away on the show.
You can download The Americans on iTunes.

Nashville: When a producer called Juliet up I was thinking they were going to go in the way of The Dixie Chicks and Rick Rubin when they were shunned by Nashville. Nope, they went completely the other way with harps and weird goth photo shoots that in no way Rolling Stone would put on their cover. Oh yeah, and Lamar died. And Teddy let it happen.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Nashville on iTunes.

Hannibal: When NBC released a promo for the new season there seemed to be a very spoilery scene of Hannibal and Jack doing battle (or as spoilery as a prequel when you knew something like that would happen), except that fight scene surprisingly ended up being the very first scene of the new season. Of course we got the dreaded “12 weeks earlier” placecard in the middle of the fight. So it may take a while for us to see the conclusion of that scene. If the show takes place in real time, we would not see it until maybe the penultimate episode.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Hannibal on iTunes.