Saturday, July 05, 2014

Best of the Week: 7/5/14

Quote of the Week: I have a daughter. (Sir Malcolm Murray, Penny Dreadful)

Song of the Week: God's Gonna Cut You Down – Johnny Cash (Dominion)

Big News of the Week: America Goes Down: Le sigh. We should just be happy to survive the Group of Death and tie in regulation the team the traveled the least in the World Cup when we traveled the most, but being that close to the final eight still hurts. Oh well, there is always the Women’s World Cup next year in Canada. But it may be hard to remember since we have won every Olympic Gold medal in the sport except one silver medal in 2000; the American women have not raised the World Cup since 1999 coming in second last time and third the two before that.

Preview Picture of the Week:

“Young and Lesbian” Young and Hungry, Wednesday at 8:00 on ABC Family

Free Download of the Week: Sideways - Wrabel (iTunes)

New Album Release of the Week: Beautiful Goodbye - Richard Marx

New DVD Release of the Week: Bad Words

Video of the Week: The first Horrible Bosses was enjoyable enough like every other comedy, I am not sure we really needed a second one. Really, when was the last comedy sequel that was not a massive letdown? The Vacation movies is the first one that comes to mind and those were a quarter century ago. Instead of going The Hangover II route of making the exact same movie, the leads are not still trying to kill each other’s bosses, all who return except Colin Farrell (I had to check Wikipedia to be reminded that Kevin Spacey killed him, hence the prison brown in the new trailer), instead there are kidnapping Christoph Waltz for some unknown reason, maybe he is a new boss that is worse than the old ones combined. All I know is this is probably going to be bad and I will probably still see it anyway.

Next Week Pick of the Week: The Bridge, Wednesday at 10:00 on FX: With the single case season becoming a big trend, The Bridge did something very unexpected in its first season: it solved its case with multiple episodes to go, even arresting the culprit before the finale. Okay, it did not work completely, but at least they were trying. And almost as if they were advertising the new season, a new political hot potato broke out last week with thousands of kids detained at the border with no where to put them.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Previewing The 90's: The Last Great Decade?

After the success of The 80’s: The Decade that Made Us, the question was not if there will be a sequel, but what would be the subtitle. The National Geographic Channel decided on The 90’s: The Last Great Decade? and after watching last month’s VH1 special I Love the 00’s it is clear they could dump the question mark at least for now.

The mini-series follows the same macro take on the decade as the 80’s sometime time take ten to fifteen minutes on a segment tying in multiple decade touch points together (Roseanne Barr manages to take credit for the Clinton presidency) and show how those major milestones still effect us today. Many people may not have known Osama bin Laden’s name in the 90’s, but he is brought up multiple times during the miniseries as he spent most of the decade building up his terrorist network with smaller attacks.

Much like the 80’s, the 90’s is again narrated by Rob Lowe. He is still a solid narrator but it gets a little weird when he starts narrating himself as a talking head during The West Wing segment. Lowe is not the only one that gives new commentary, joining him are entertainers like Matthew Perry, Ice Cube, and Neve Campbell, politicians Newt Gingrich, Tony Blair, and Colin Powell (who explains his Macarena dance), the only in the 90’s celebrities Vanilla Ice, Jerry Springer, and two original cast mates of The Real World, the infamous Monica Lewinski, Christopher Darden, and Tonya Harding. They even get interviews from names you may not recognize but were at the middle of some of the biggest events of the decade like the man who helped Reginald Denny to safety during the L.A. riot, someone who worked at the federal building that was bombed in Oklahoma City, and the principal at Columbine High School.

Looking at those last two sets of interviewees does make you question if The Last Great Decade really that great at all especially when the miniseries spend a lot of time also talking about the first Gulf War, Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, Lorena Bobbitt, Jeffry Dahmer, and Kurt Cobain’s suicide. And those are just from the first episode, there are still four more hours left to talk about Waco, Black Hawk Down, the untimely deaths of 2Pac and Princess Diana, the rise of prescription drugs, the World Trade Organization riots, and Y2K.

With all the darker sides of the decade it is hard not to get behind a retrospective that starts off with the sounds of Unbelievable. If you enjoyed The Decade That Made Us, you will definitely want to carve time out in you television watching schedule for The Last Great Decade? And that is even considering that the best part of the 90’s, Beavis and Butt-head only get one full second of screen time.

The 90’s: The Last Great Decade? premieres Sunday at 9:00 and continues Monday and Tuesday.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Previewing Witches of East End: Season Two: A Dude's Review of Lifetime vol. VI

Witches of East End is back on Lieftime

In a time when zombies are all the rage, it should be commended that Lifetime went with a witch themed token sci-fi show instead of jumping on that bandwagon or even trying to restart the vampire era. (with that said, I am looking forward to FX’s The Strain, the first vampire themed form of entertainment I have watched since the series finale of Angel other than Let Me In.) But was Witches of East End any good? Not really, but again, I am just a dude, and the show does fit in well to the Lifetime esthetic and is back for a second season this weekend.

In the end of last season, the witches failed to keep the portal to Asgard from opening and the viewers last saw a glowing light on all of the titular witches. The new season starts off a couple days later and naturally everyone present lost their memories of whom, or what came through the portal. But do not worry, you will learn who, came through by the end of the episode and it will be exactly who you think it was (hint: it was not Loki).

Unfortunately the boring Abercrombie boy is back, but he is just slightly more entertaining the season after possibly killing off his brother at the end of last season, again, that mystery will be solved by the end of the episode and you will not have to wait long for that answer. Ingrid continues to be the most interesting part of the show (by most interesting, I mean only interesting except whenever Tom Lenk (who also appeared on the previously mentioned Angel) pops up which thankfully he does in the premiere). This season it sound like she is going to try to be more adventurous this season.

Witches of East End airs Sundays at 10:00 on Lifetime. You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Witches of East End on iTunes.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

How Long Shall They Kill Our Prophets While We Stand Aside and Look?

Legend - Bob Marley and the Wailers
There comes a time in every person’s life that there is music that is made that is never played on the radio and even more surprisingly there was music made before you were made and some of it great. Actually there is too much good music so it was much easier to pick up a greatest hit package than buy an artist’s entire catalogue (at least it was when I discover music older than me; today’s children can access almost all music ever recorded on Spotify or other nefarious means for little to no money). One album that seemed like it was handed out at freshmen orientation in high school because everyone had was Legend, the greatest hit package from Bob Marley and The Wailers, this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame.

Legend was released thirty years ago, three years after the untimely death of Bob Marley and a year after his final album was released. But in the ten years prior, Bob Marley and the Wailers released eight albums for Island Records. The set spanned a career that dabbled in political (Get Up, Stand Up), partying (Jamming), romantic (Could You Be Love), retrospective (No Woman, No Cry), storytelling (I Shot the Sheriff) the guy even wrote songs that could easily double as children’s songs (Three Little Birds) all the while presenting the reggae genre with pop sensibilities.

For my money, the best song on an impeccable album is just the best song on Legend, but one of the finest songs ever written, is Redemption Song. The simplest song on the album, just Bob and an acoustic guitar, is also the most impactful. It was also the last song on the last album Marley released while he was alive and a fitting epilogue to a great career.

Today also sees the release of Legend 30th Anniversary Edition with a new 5.1 mix including newly discovered early studio tracks. These tracks include the original, early studio version of No Woman No Cry, in lieu of the previous live version. Also featured are two, previously unheard alternate takes of Easy Skanking and Punky Reggae Party recently discovered in the Marley vault. Legend 30th Anniversary Edition will also be made available on tri-color vinyl (yellow, green and red) and pressed as a double gatefold LP allowing for a higher fidelity sound quality that is closer to the original source.

Monday, June 30, 2014

I Want My Music Television: 6/30/14

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.

Somethin' Bad - Miranda Lambert with Carrie Underwood

I have long lamented the slow death of rock and roll and a while back I read someone who said rock and roll is not dying, it just moved to Nashville. They had a point because you will see a few lengthy guitar solos if you went to an Eric Church or Keith Urban concert not to mention ZZ Top and Lenny Kravitz opened up the last two CMA Awards. And take the new Miranda Lambert song which sounds like it could have been produced by eighties uber-hair metal producer Mutt Lang if he was listening to We Will Rock You too many times in a row.

Hayloft – Nickel Creek

When I reviewed the latest Nickel Creek album, I pointed out Hayloft because it was a weird danceable country dance song (and I meant that in a good way, not a Cotton Eye Joe kind of way). Now the song gets its own weird animated video to go along with it.

Kingdom - Common

I just started playing Watch Dogs (which is your basic Grant Theft Auto knockoff except instead of working for a drug kingpin you play a hacker) set in Chicago and it is interesting to see some of the same sights in the new Common video that I have traveling around virtually. Well at least into the prologue, I have get to travel to the ghetto yet nor I have run into a strip club yet which there are plenty of in Liberty City.

Jungle – X Ambassadors and Jamie n Commons

Tomorrow is the half way point of the year which means we will be inundated with silly half year lists (I have already seen a few). But these got me thinking, where are all the new artists? This point last year we had very good albums, or at the very least EP’s from Lorde, Kacey Musgraves, Haim, Daughter and Chvrches. Broods released a decent EP but that is pretty much it. It is depressing to think Iggy Azalea may get a Best New Artist Grammy nomination by default (granted if Ed Sheeran could get a nomination, then maybe Lorde will get one this year along with four others we would have never thought were eligible). Jungle may be my favorite song of the year so far by a new artist, but it does not really inspire me to check out anything else. Plus I am not entire sure who is most responsible for the song: X Ambassadors or Jamie N Commons (I would be more inclined to check out the dude with the long hair, not the frat boy with the backwards hat). But anyway. The song should be required to be played at every sporting event for the next decade or so (it is about time someone replace Gary Glitter, for more reasons than one) even though there is a World Cup inspired remix with an unnecessary verse from Jay-Z. But that video / advertisement for Beats by Dre does feature Luis Suárez who probably is not listening to Jungle, but instead Maneater by Hall and Oates.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 6/29/14

Orphan Black: Oh no, I fear that we already seen the Jump the Shark moment. Most sci-fi shows with an extraordinary character usually takes a misstep when they introduce a second version of the special person and I was thinking the exact same thing when we learned there are a second set of clones. Surprisingly that set of clones was not based on Paul but instead the weird Prolethean dude. I will give the show the benefit of the doubt, but this type of revelation always seems to be the downfall of these types of shows.
You can download Orphan Black on iTunes.

Penny Dreadful: They have teased there is something more to Ethan than simply being American, I first thought he may be Jack the Ripper. Then it seemed pretty obvious that he was a werewolf. But after this week, could it be something entirely different, some sort of high priest, demon hunter? What exactly was he doing to Vanessa and why has he not done it sooner?

Crisis: Sure it had its issues and some back acting, but now that the season is over the show turned out to be the best case scenario for a network trying to rip off Homeland. It is a shame more people did not watch. But it is probably the best thing because that way it is now limited to just one season (though a second season manhunt for Gibson after breaking out of prison could have worked). Since the season was for the most part self contained, it is surprising that Amber did not learn that her aunt was really her mother; even more surprising is that we learned Gibson knew this and never used it to his advantage.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Crisis on iTunes.

Switched at Birth: The show’s writers really need to stop watching Catfish. The plot was silly enough when the dude was getting revenge on Emmitt for getting him suspended, but to now make him secretly in love with Emmitt is just silly.
You can download Switched At Birth on iTunes.

Pretty Little Liars: Please, please, please let the new hot Rosewood resident be part of some new lesbian Swimf@n storyline.
You can download Pretty Little Liars on iTunes.

The Challenge: Free Agents: Oh Nany, I am not sure out could have made up the extra time had you not, but you cannot get off the bike. Oh well, winner or second place, this was clearly the season of Nany: she somehow out-crazies Camilla in a passing of the torch moment, hooks up with another dude while flirting heavily with another, gets blown up by Cara Maria and still manages to win that Challenge. That is an all-time performance right there. On the flip side of the coin there was Zach who flips over his canoe in the first leg, does not figure out the tree puzzle is an actual puzzle, no geography knowledge needed (granted on Bananas figured that out), then almost died multiple times in the third and fifth legs. How are you in a final with Devyn and still manage the lead impressive performance?
You can download The Challenge: Free Agents on iTunes.