Saturday, March 28, 2015

Previewing Killing Jesus

Killing Jesus

After the success of Killing Lincoln it was only a matter of time National Geographic Channel would commission Killing Kennedy and Killing Jesus, the next two books in Bill O'Reilly's assassination anthology, would follow. But not only have they have been done in successive year, they have also gotten bigger in scope. The first one was mostly focused on narrator Tom Hanks with Dateline type quality recreations in the background. For Killing Kennedy, they actually were able to recruit a name actor, Rob Lowe (okay, not the biggest get considering this is the same guy who said yes to a Lifetime movie about Scott Peterson) while the movie looked like a legitimate made for television movie.

National Geographic Channel raised the bar again for Killing Jesus. Sure it is no Ben Hur, but you can definitely check out the production value. Though they went unknown for the titular character (some dude named Haaz Sleiman... looking at IMDB, oh hey, he was in an episode of Veronica Mars), that are a few recognizable faces. Kelsey Grammer shows up as King Herod, the first person who tries to kill Jesus. Do not worry, this is not a full bio-flick on the life of Jesus (NBC's A.D.: The Bible Continues will probably go more in depth on that) as the film quickly fast forwards thirty years to Jesus first meeting Simon.

Getting the top line in the movie is Stephen Moyer (who really need to redeem himself in his first role since somehow being more stiff than Carrie Underwood in The Sound of Music Live) as the man who sentences Jesus to death (um, spoiler alert?) Pontius Pilate. Rufus Sewell (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) and Emmanuelle Chriqui (You Don't Mess With the Zohan) play characters in the shadows who put Jesus's Crucifixion into motion. And for anyone who wanted to know what Irisa from Syfy's Defiance looked like sans her alien makeup, she also makes an appearance in the film (weirdly as Chriqui's daughter despite their six year age difference).

The previous Killing movies focuses as much on the eventual assassins as it did the titular characters, but focus of Killing Jesus remains mostly on the Son of God despite the three hour run time. We have all heard the story of Jesus before and I assume it will be getting a large chuck of screen time during A.D. I was hoping we would be getting more information on the conspiracy happening behind the scenes that led to his death than the story of his life that everyone who had been to Sunday School already know. Still Killing Jesus will be a huge success, probably beating the previous two movies in viewers. Though he is the least know of the series, I am actually looking forward to the inevitable Killing Patton, because that is a story I really do not know much about and will probably learn a lot of new information, unlike the fairly predictable and already well known story of Killing Jesus.

Killing Jesus airs Sunday at 8:00 on the National Geographic Channel.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Around the Tubes: 3/27/15

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 Billions, Jim Norton: Contextually Inadequate, Rouge, Lincoln's Last Day, Shannon and Sophie, MTV Movie Awards, and Radio Disney Music Awards.

- Showtime has picked up the drama Billions to series for 12 one-hour episodes, it was announced today by David Nevins, President of Showtime Networks Inc. Starring Oscar nominee and Emmy and Golden Globe® winner Paul Giamatti and Emmy and Golden Globe winner Damian Lewis, the series is a complex and contemporary drama about power politics in the New York world of high finance. Billions is written and executive produced by Brian Koppelman and David Levien (Ocean's Thirteen, Rounders), and Andrew Ross Sorkin (Too Big To Fail). Beginning production later this year, the series will shoot in New York and is slated for a 2016 premiere.

Jim Norton: Contextually Inadequate is returning to the Somerville Theatre in Boston, MA, for his third consecutive EPIX special, Norton takes on the twisted state of the 21st century. With his customarily caustic point-of-view, Norton tackles everything from Bill Cosby to nude photos to the firing of his radio co-host Anthony Cumia. It premieres Friday April 24 10:00, check out a clip below:

- Undercover detective Grace Travis (Thandie Newton) crossed the line between right and wrong and her involvement with the city's most powerful and dangerous crime family caused her to pay the ultimate price - the loss of her son. This season, she's left undercover life behind to be a better mother to her daughter. She also has a new job as a handler for an FBI task force investigating corporate espionage in San Francisco. Recently separated, with the arrival of her estranged mother, she has plenty of drama on the job - and at home. But when her undercover operative goes missing, Grace is forced back into a world of lies and deceit, following a trail of dirty money and investigating four soldiers at the center of the drama. Rogue: The Complete Second Season; Street Date: May 19, 2015.

- Showtime has set the summer premieres for two of its critically-acclaimed and award-winning dramas – Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex. Both series will premiere on Sunday, July 12th at 9:00 and 10:00, respectively, and each will have 12 one-hour episode seasons.

- April 14th, 2015 will mark the 150th anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. This critical moment in American history will be examined in Lincoln's Last Day, an original one-hour Smithsonian Channel documentary that retraces the events leading up to the fatal shot, premiering on April 13th at 8:00.

- The new UP Original Series Shannon & Sophie (#ShannonandSophie, #smotherhood) explores and celebrates the close, funny mother-daughter relationship of Shannon Tweed-Simmons, actress, model and wife of KISS legendary bassist/co-lead vocalist Gene Simmons, and their daughter Sophie Tweed-Simmons, an actress, singer and fashion designer. Gene Simmons and son Nick Simmons also appear in the show. Produced by Force Four Entertainment, Shannon & Sophie premieres with back-to-back episodes on Thursday, April 16 at 9:00.

- MTV this week announced that award-winning actress and young Hollywood sensation Shailene Woodley will receive the fourth annual “MTV Trailblazer Award” during the LIVE telecast of the 2015 MTV Movie Awards on Sunday, April 12 at 8:00 from the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, CA. The coveted award will be presented to Woodley by her Insurgent co-star and fan favorite, Miles Teller.

Multi-talented actress and recording artist Zendaya will serve as host of the 2015 Radio Disney Music Awards (RDMA), music's biggest event for families, taking place SATURDAY, APRIL 25 at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles, it was announced yesterday by Phil Guerini, Vice President, Programming and General Manager, Radio Disney. Guerini said, "On stage and off, Zendaya brings intelligence, thoughtfulness and honesty -- and an effortless cool factor -- to everything she does, all qualities that are appreciated by generations of kids and tweens, and especially their parents. We join her legion of fans in welcoming her back to the RDMA stage."

Thursday, March 26, 2015

I Want My Music Television: 3/26/15

Famous - Charli XCX

Last year YouYube created their own award show which was widely panned as being unnecessary. Of course that did not stop them from doing another one. But they did change things up this time around. Instead of creating live music videos at the last awards and handing out fan voted awards, the winners got their own music videos as an honor, or at least I think, it is kind of hard figuring out what is actually going on with the YTMA's. All I know is because of it we get a new Charli XCX music video, a creepy-fun ode to our devotion to our mobile devises. I do wonder if having to watch an ad to get into a room is a not so subtle dig at the ads in front of YouTube videos.

Bloodstream - Ed Sheeran featuring Rudimental

Ed Sheeran also got the YouTube Music Award music video treatment but where Charli got a bunch of mobile zombies, Ed get Ray Liotta. So maybe not all YouTube Awards are treated equal. Is Ray playing old Ed? Am I supposed to think of Taylor Swift's Blank Space while watching (it takes place in a mansion, there is a random horse for no apparent reason, destruction of property). Whatever the case, the YTMA's are still pretty unnecessary.

Nobody Love - Tori Kelly

As a pretentious music blogger I have an image to uphold only only like the greatest most snobby music being made, but even us pretentious music bloggers have our guilty pleasures (Ariana Grande) and songs we like semi-ironically (Teenage Dream). Now I know this Tori Kelly song is not good, the singing like a baby girl in the pre-chorus is kind of embarrassing, there is an unnecessary Mariah Carey type vocal gymnastic as if she were trying out for some crappy karaoke show. But I have to admit it does not suck massively either. The verses give off a cool eighties RnB vibe to it like it could have been a hit for The Jets (which begs the question, whatever happened to The Jets?) three decades ago and following the unnecessary vocal gymnastic is a pretty awesome horn breakdown. Now I need to decide on whether this song deserves to be filed away in my guilty pleasure folder or like ironically.

Lampshade om Fire - Modest Mouse

Pretentious blogger confession number two: I have never been much of a fan of Modest Mouse. With that said, I do kind of like their new song (I really like the line, "this is what I really call a party now" line, but a party never really starts until someone starts fire to a lampshade and wild, ADD inducing new music video.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

2015 Spring Music Preview

The big news for albums this spring that it was recently decided that their will be a world album release date on Fridays. No word on when this switch is official but it looks like iTunes has some albums released on Friday and others on Tuesday while Amazon is stick with Tuesday for now. I was excited for the new Mumford and Sons album until I heard the first single and now I am kind of dreading it. Actually this list is littered with underwhelming first singles (Death Cab for Cutie, Alabama Shakes, Snoop Dogg, and Of Monsters of Men among them). But as D'Angelo and Kendrick Lamar have shown, album release dates are no longer fluid so maybe their will be more surpised album that will be coming in the next couple months that will be more enticing to earlobees than those listed below which may only be worth a spin on Spotify or two. If you are interested in preordering the album on Amazon, click on its title. Click on the artist's name to be taken to their iTunes.

March 23
Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit - Courtney Barnett
To Pimp A Butterfly - Kendrick Lamar
Short Movie - Laura Marling
Mr. Wonderful - Action Bronson
Toto XIV - Toto
Nothing But The Silence - Striking Matches

March 31
Kintsugi - Death Cab for Cutie
The Past, The Present, The Future - Jodeci
Southern Style - Darius Rucker
Carrie & Lowell - Sufjan Stevens
The Day Is My Enemy - The Prodigy
The Album About Nothing - Wale
Tokyo Dome In Concert - Van Halen
Ludaversal - Ludacris
Postcards From Paradise - Ringo Starr

April 7
No Pier Pressure - Brian Wilson
After It All - After It All - Delta Rae
Blow Up The Moon - Blues Traveler
Small Town Dreams - Will Hoge
New Glow - Matt and Kim
Clueless Soundtrack (20th Anniversary Vinyl Release)

April 21
Sound & Color - Alabama Shakes
Kindred - Passion Pit
Ten Songs from Live at Carnegie Hall - Ryan Adams

April 28
Jekyll + Hyde - Zac Brown Band
Sirens - The Weepies
The Magic Whip - Blur
Fly International Luxurious Art - Raekwon

May 5
Wilder Mind [Deluxe Edition] - Mumford & Sons
The Waterfall - My Morning Jacket
I Can't Imagine - Shelby Lynne
California Nights - Best Coast

May 12
Trust Fall EP- Incubus
Bush - Snoop Dogg

May 19
The Desired Effect - Brandon Flowers
Sol Invictus - Faith No More

June 2
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful - Florence + The Machine

June 9
Beneath The Skin - Of Monsters and Men

So Help Me God - Kanye West
Through the Eyes of Wonder - Stevie Wonder
This Is Acting - Sia
Clefication - Wyclef Jean
Ashley Monroe
David Gilmore
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Jill Scott
Kacey Musgraves
Nate Ruess
Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Band Perry

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Voice Season Eight Battle Round Power Rankings

During his long winded Battle decision, Pharrell gave us a huge insight into his decision making process. He said his decision boiled down to either pick the best, most polished singer or the one that needed his help the most. He ended up going with Lowell Oakley even though Kimberley was the clear winner. This, of course, was a horrible decision. Though not outwardly stated I am pretty sure Shakira went with the same philosophy her two season in the same chair and finished last both times. This philosophy is bad for everyone except the "winner" of the battle, the person who deserves it goes home, you lessen you lessen your chance of winning, and the audience has to endure lesser singers.

I pretty much disagreed with every decision Pharrell made this round with the exception of Anthony over Travis. Of course the difference between Pharrell and Shakira was that Pharrell actually had singers worth stealing and both Christina and Blake strengthened their teams with two Pharrell outcasts (okay, Blake's second steal was one of trademark Knockout Round fodder steals; whoever gets Travis next round will obviously be his favorite this season; it is a shame Blake wasted a Steal on him and did not have one for the vastly more deserving Noelle Bybee). It was not as if Adam had anyone worth stealing as half his team was montaged, something that usually happens to Blake.

1. India Carney (Team Christina)
2. Ashley Morgan (Team Pharrell Christina)
3. Hannah Kirby (Team Blake Pharrell)
4. Brooke Adee (Team Blake)
5. Rob Taylor (Team Christina)
6. Joshua Davis (Team Blake Adam)
7. Kimberly Nichole (Team Pharrell Christina)
8. Anthony Riley (Team Pharrell)
9. Meghan Linsey (Team Pharrell Blake)
10. Sarah Potenza (Team Blake)
11. Treeva Gibson (Team Christina)
12. Brian Johnson (Team Blake)
13. Tonya Boyd-Cannon (Team Adam)
14. Kelsie May (Team Blake)
15. Barry Minniefield (Team Adam)
16. Deanna Johnson (Team Adam)
17. Sawyer Fredericks (Team Pharrell)
18. Koryn Hawthorne (Team Christina)
19. Paul Pfau (Team Pharrell)
20. Mia Z (Team Pharrell)
21. Caitlin Caporale (Team Pharrell)
22. Nathan Hermida (Team Adam)
23. Blaze Johnson (Team Adam)
24. Cody Wickline (Team Blake)
25. Clinton Washington (Team Christina Adam)
26. Lowell Oakley (Team Pharrell)
27. Lexi Dávila (Team Adam)
28. Joe Tolo (Team Christina)
29. Jacob Rummell (Team Blake Pharrell)
30. Corey Kent White (Team Blake)
31. Sonic (Team Christina)
32. Travis Ewing (Team Pharrell Blake)

Looking over the teams, giving each an numerical value, here is how the teams stack up based on my list after the Battle Round:

Christina: 161
Blake: 129
Pharrell: 121
Adam: 117

Christina was the big winner of the Battle Rounds stealing two of Pharrell's strongest singers and managed to pick her strongest singers almost every Battle (she did shed one of her better iTunes compeditors Gabriel Wolfchild for the boring Joe Tolo). Blake was his methodical self taking his five strongest singer even if they were not actually the best in their Battle (both male country singers should have lost their Battles but are more likely to garner votes in the Live Rounds). Though he had one decent Steal, Adam is still the weakest and will need another great Steal in the Knockout Round to compete this season and not come in dead last. Of course this is entirely possible consider Pharrell picks singers based on who needs his help the most not who was best. But who cares what I think, here are how the singers ranked on iTunes at their highest peak over the past two weeks as well as a few Blind Audition still hanging around (although it seemed like less of those reentered the charts then have in past seasons).

1. Noelle Bybee and Sawyer Fredricks (13)
2. India Carney and Clinton Washington (60)
3. Brian Johnson and Joshua Davis (106)
4. Meghan Linsey and Paul Pfau (198)
5. Nathan Hermida (235)
6. Hannah Kirby and Sarah Potenza (246)
7. Saywer Fredricks (249)
8. Ashley Morgan and Mia Z (309)
9. Deanna Johnson (319)
10. Cory Kent White and Jacob Rummel (321)
11. Kimberley Nichole and Lowell Oakley (349)
12. Paul Pfau (411)
13. Cody Wickline (509)
14. Cody Wickline and Matt Snoook (510)
15. Briar Johnson and Caitlin Caporale (672)
16. Caitlin Caporale (725)
17. Jermery Gaynor and Rob Taylor (771)
18. Brenna Yeager and Kelsie May (819)
19. Ameera Delandro and Sonic (841)
20. James McNeiece and Tonya Boyd-Cannon (898)
21. Brooke Adee (961)
22. Travis Ewing (968)
23. Anthony Riley and Travis Ewing (1189)
24. Blaze Johnson and Michael Leier (1206)
25. Barry Minnifield and Jack Gregori (1296)
26. Joshua Davis (1377)
27. Michael Leier (1452)
28. Hannah Kirby (1472)

In previous seasons, this is where I would average the highest peak of the artists Battle and Blind Audition songs to see who is the clear frontrunner after two round (at least on iTunes). It is a little trickier now that they are selling Battle duets with both singers. For instance we are not sure if people bought Stay because of India or because of Clinton or maybe the duet would have outsold indiviual version of the song. It may become clearer after we check the charts when the Knockout Rounds. Until then here is hows each singer ranks when you average their Blind Audition with their Battle duet (for those that did not crack the top 1500 wit one of their songs I asigned them with 1500 and put an asterick by their name):

1. Sawyer Fredricks (19.5)
2. Joshua Davis (109)
3. India Carney (172)
4. Mia Z (284)
5. Meghan Linsey (290)
6. Cody Wickline (291.5)
7. Paul Pfau (304.5)
8. Brian Johnson (329)
9. Sarah Potenza (331)
10. Cory Kent White (372.5)
11. Ashley Morgan (478.5)
12. Lowell Oakley (504.5)
13. Jacob Rummell (530)
14. Travis Ewing (671)
15. Caitlin Caporale (698)
16. Anthony Riley (754)
17. Rob Taylor (775.5)
18. Clinton Washington (780)*
19. Deanna Johnson (799.5)*
20. Blaze Johnson (829)
21. Brooke Adee (828.5)*
22. Hannah Kirby (859)
23. Tonya Boyd-Cannon (864)
24. Nathan Hermida (867.5)*
25. Treeva Gibson (912)*
26. Kimberley Nichole (924)*
27. Kelsey May (942)
28. Barry Minnifield (1154)
29. Sonic (1170.5)*
30. Joe Tolo (1244.5)*
31. Lexi Dávila (1500)**
32. Koryn Hawthorne (1500)**

Wow, Pharrell is really dominating the iTunes charts, stupid decisions and all. Blake is not that far behind (it did not help that Brooke, who was one of the best sellers last round was montaged this round; another frontrunner, Deanna Johnson also lost a lot of steam after the montage treatment). Adam, who used to be the iTunes king, clearly had a really bad Blind Auditions because his top two iTunes composite were his two steals. #19 is the highest ranking singer who was orginally on his team. Christina looks just as bad once you get by India (of course, on this show you only need one). Her next highest is her steal of Ashley.

Prediction time, the preview did not reveal many match ups: Ashley vs. Sonic, Sarah vs. Brian, Meghan vs. Travis, and for the first time in Voice history, a three way Knockout between Sawyer, Mia, and Paul. Here is who I think will be in the Live Playoff, (though not necessarily on the same team on now) ranked by how confident I am that not only will the make it to the next round but how confident they will be one of the final three on their team.

Team Adam
(Clearly Adam has no one worth stealing so I gave Pharrell an extra singer because it is more likely he will have multiple singers stolen unless Christina starts making her usual stupid decisions again and she is due)

Team Blake
Brian (not beating Meghan but Stolen? maybe by Adam)

Team Christina
Kimberly (maybe stolen back by Pharrell)

Team Pharrell
Caitlin (I do not see him keeping her and Mia so maybe she goes to Christina where she probably rather be)
Jacob (I would put Anthony here but he is conspicuously absent in the preview and may be the reason for the three person battle; since Pharrell likes people he can help, no one on his team needs more help than Jacob; either that or Blake takes back Jacob or maybe Hannah for his Steal)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 3/22/15

Shameless: I was hoping for a Carl / Chucky juvenile spinoff but it looks like we will be getting that on the main show with both being sentenced to hard time. Of course Chucky ended up with the white supremacists while Carl ended up with the hood gang. Elsewhere I really liked the doctor story line, I just wonder how long it will last. On one hand, Frank needs a place to stay, on the other, the last time he took care of a dying women in hopes of being left her estate did not work out very well for him. But then again, nothing really works out for him except for his inability to stay dead.

The Walking Dead: A couple weeks ago I floated out the theory that it was not Rick and company who should be weary of the residents of Alexandria because they always run into evil doers, it should be Alexandria that should be hesitant of the new group. It looks like I am not the only one as the reverend also voiced his concern over Rick. With the death of the congresswoman's son, I am guessing the coup will be coming next week (or at the very least in two weeks for the finale).And poor young Chris Rock, but how do you let one person out power two in the revolving door? And speaking of those two deaths, the camera really lingered way too long on those death scenes.
You can download The Walking Dead on iTunes.

Bates Motel: So Norman maybe killed the token hot chick already? Bummer. But that was not her in the lake was it, it looked more like a dude, I first thought that was the creepy neighbor.
You can download Bates Motel on iTunes

Community: About a decade ago Arrested Development did everything it could to get a fourth season, they even slipped some in jokes about hoping to being picked up by HBO or Showtime into episodes. But alas, the show could not find a new home. Five years later, DirecTV saved Damages from cancellation opening up a flood gate an now five short years after that no beloved or cult television show is allowed to died because there are so many channels, band streaming sites looking for content. Even horrible shows that everyone hates like The Killing somehow manages a reprieve. Seven years later Arrested Development finally got its fourth season. So it is clear we are now living in an era when no media property will die as long as everyone involved wants it to live on (sorry Friday Night Lights fans, Kyle Chandler has no interest in reviving the series, probably for the best).

So when Community finally got the ax from NBC, the was little question on if it would get its prophetized six seasons a movie, the question would be where would it land. Hulu passed and surprisingly Yahoo! wanted to get in the streaming game. Even more surprising is that the show is basically commercial free and free to watch. I watched the first two episode and they only aired on ad before the first one. As for the content itself, it is still Community even though it is down yet another cast member (Shirley escaped to CBS multicam hell), it did not even relish in the lack of network standards and practices. Like always it is somewhat enjoyable but I really hope that this is it, well plus a movie. But even if this is it, it will probably be revived again in five years or so.
You can watch Community on Yahoo Screen.

Pretty Little Liars: I have been out on this show for a season or two now, but this episode finally pulled me back in with the characters acting like idiots (passing notes in jail with the lawyer calling them out for it; Aria's brother leaving the car after getting hit with an arrow... stay in the car and keep driving you moron, do not leave the car where there is not a windshield to protect you) and other characters just doing things for no apparent reason (Calab just sitting in the dark at the cabin) and a big plot twist: Alison gets convicted followed directly by all the Liars getting arrested. If only they had gone to the police after the first text. An let me predict one more time, a not so dead Mona will turn out to be the next A that will be revealed next week.
You can download Pretty Little Liars on iTunes.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: So the big secret Bobbi and Mack have is they are covert operatives for "the real SHIELD." Alrighty. At least they only drug that secret out two episode. Granted if Edward James Olmos is involved, maybe it is the real SHIELD. And let me guess, he is going to want to lock Skye up but over Colson's dead body.
You can download Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on iTunes

Justified: If you are dumb enough not to assume the evil crime boss lady does not keep a gun in her purse, you definitely deserve to die. The Ava finally tipped her hand and went with Raylan this week, unfortunately for her, Boyd did not get caught red handed as he did not make it through the bottom of the floor. Yeah, it probably was not the best idea to trust the crazy explosion expert.
You can download Justified on iTunes.

The Challenge: Battle of the Exes II: So Sarah has had two of her partners leave prematurely and was sent home too as a result; Leroy had two of his sent home and both times got a replacement partner. This time he got an upgrade right before the finale. Lucky boy. Why not just hand him the prize right then and there (well probably because Sarah ends up winning anyway). But the best part of the show was the After Show with Banana's saying he would never sell out a friend / cut to him selling out Paula. Did he forget all of this was on tape?
You can download The Challenge: Battle of the Exes II on iTunes.

Survivor: White Collar vs. Blue Collar vs. No Collar: Ask and you shall receive, just last week I was complaining about no Reward Challenges and we get two this week. The show flows a lot better with two challenges per episode. Then we had a Tribe Swap which could not have ended better for Blue Collar, a majority on one tribe and a swing vote on the other. Bearded dude brought up it ended up like the swap back in One World but it was also divided by strength back in the Fans vs. Favorites II season also. Maybe it is fixed.
You can download Survivor: White Collar vs. Blue Collar vs. No Collar on iTunes.

The Americans: Wait, is Martha really going to forgive Clark? Even more surprising, how does Clark kill Martha just in case?
You can download The Americans on iTunes.

The Blacklist: Wait, so they just let Tom walk after confessing to killing harbor master just to keep Lizzy out of jail even though the AG guy could have made the whole thing go away anyway? Maybe Tom should have been taken to a black site. I really hope he does not end up joining the team somewhere down the road.
You can download The Blacklist on iTunes.