Friday, May 08, 2015

Around the Tubes: 5/8/15

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 Montage of Heck, Bob Seger, Safari Live, Tyrant, Big Blue Live, MetroPCS Friday Night Knockout, Conan, Ties that Bind, Brave New World, The Magicians, Chiller, and Red Nose Day.

- Hailed as one of the most innovative and intimate documentaries of all time, experience Kurt Cobain like never before in the only ever fully authorized portrait of the famed music icon. Acclaimed filmmaker Brett Morgen expertly blends Cobain’s personal archive of art, music, never seen before movies, animation and revelatory interviews from his family and closest friends. Wildly creative and highly acclaimed, the documentary follows Kurt from his earliest years in this visceral and detailed cinematic insight of an artist at odds with his surroundings. Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, will be released by Universal Music Enterprises on both Blu-ray and DVD formats in the fall of 2015.

- Capitol Records recording artist Bob Seger’s classic album, Night Moves, makes its debut on 180-gram vinyl on June 16, 2015. Seger’s breakthrough album, powerful and personal, is the newest vinyl reissue addition to the GRAMMY® Award-winning rocker’s extraordinary catalogue. Originally released in 1976, Night Moves was Bob Seger’s first studio album with the Silver Bullet Band. Much of the album was recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama with the incomparable Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. The album went on to garner overwhelming critical praise, as well as, the hit singles “Night Moves,” “Mainstreet,” and “Rock and Roll Never Forgets.”

- Need a Mother’s Day gift? Nat Geo WILD has you covered. We are bringing back our popular Safari Live event. A special Mother’s Day weekend treat the whole family can share and enjoy, Safari Live premieres Saturday, May 9, and Sunday, May 10, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET on Nat Geo WILD and online at Grab your mom and the family for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go on a live safari to see lions roar, hyenas fight for food and giraffes run wild — and, if you’re lucky, maybe even some mother-child bonding, wild style — in real time.

- Blood guarantees nothing. Tyrant returns to power Tuesday, June 16 at 10:00 on FX.

- Leading public service broadcasters BBC and PBS announced today a live television and multimedia event, Big Blue Live. Scientists, filmmakers and photographers, animal behaviorists and other experts will come together for two amazing live weeks in late August and early September to document the extraordinary rejuvenation of the once endangered and now thriving ecosystem of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in California. Some of the world’s most charismatic marine creatures – humpback whales, blue whales, sea lions, dolphins, elephant seals, sea otters, great white sharks, shearwaters, and brown pelicans – convene in this once-a-year confluence. Big Blue Live airs live on PBS over three nights, Aug. 31-Sept. 2, 2015, at 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET, with another live feed to the West Coast at 8:00-9:00 p.m. PT. In both feeds, as well as streaming online and in social media, viewers can watch one of nature’s great “reality shows” delivered through state-of-the-art filming technologies and live reports from air, sea, and below the waves. The multi-platform event will be anchored by four on-air correspondents from a reporting hub at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and from aboard NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Office of National Marine Sanctuaries’ research vessels. Leading scientists and other experts will provide additional insights. The week prior to the PBS broadcast, BBC will air its live broadcast in the UK, and will be streaming online and through social media for UK viewers.

- truTV and Top Rank will exclusively present the MetroPCS Friday Night Knockout on truTV, a live primetime boxing series tonight at 10:00 from Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. The new boxing series, produced in association with Turner Sports and HBO Sports, will feature two title fights this week headlined by Top 10 contenders Glen “Jersey Boy” Tapia (23-1, 15 KOs) from Passaic, N.J., and “Irish” Seanie Monaghan (23-0, 15 KOs). Tapia will defend his NABO junior middleweight title against Michel Soro (25-1-1, 15 KOs) from France, with Monaghan defending his WBC Continental Americas light heavyweight title against Cleiton Conceicao (20-6-2, 16 KOs) from Brazil.

- TBS’s late-night show Conan has set the dates for its upcoming episodes from San Diego during Comic-Con® International, including rare Friday and Saturday night episodes. Conan O'Brien will host the show from San Diego's historic Spreckels Theater, with the episodes slated to air on TBS Wednesday, July 8 – Saturday, July 11. This will mark the first time ever a late-night show has broadcast from San Diego during Comic-Con.

- Production began this week in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on UP’s first original scripted drama series Ties That Bind, a hybrid police procedural and family drama, starring Kelli Williams (“The Practice,” ”Army Wives”) Jonathan Scarfe (“Hell On Wheels,” “Perception”) and Dion Johnstone (The Tempest, “Defiance”), with special guest star Luke Perry (Black Beauty, “Beverly Hills 90210”). Created by Sheryl J. Anderson (“Charmed,” UP’s The Town that Came A-Courtin) and produced by Reel One Entertainment, this 10-episode, hour-long series is set to premiere exclusively on UP in August. The ensemble cast includes teen actors Mitchell Kummen (Horns, “The Tomorrow People”), Natasha Calis (The Possession, “The Firm”), Rhys Matthew Bond (The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story, “The Good Witch”) and Matreya Scarrwener (“Strange Empire,” “Once Upon a Time”).

- Adding to its growing roster of major productions featuring science fiction’s most acclaimed franchises, Syfy is reuniting with Emmy® Award-winning Amblin Television to develop a scripted series based on Aldous Huxley’s classic novel Brave New World. Syfy and Amblin previously collaborated on Steven Spielberg Presents: Taken, which won a 2003 Emmy® for Best Miniseries, as well as nominations in six other categories.

- Continuing its commitment to developing bold, high profile scripted dramas, Syfy today announced it has greenlit The Magicians to series. Based upon Lev Grossman’s best-selling books, The Magicians stars Jason Ralph (A Most Violent Year, Aquarius) as Quentin Coldwater, a brilliant grad student who enrolls in Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy, a secret upstate New York university specializing in magic. He and his 20-something friends soon discover that the magical fantasy world they read about as children is all too real – and poses grave danger to humanity. Stella Maeve (Chicago P.D.), Hale Appleman (Teeth), Arjun Gupta (Nurse Jackie) and Summer Bishil (Towelhead, Lucky 7) also star in this one hour drama.

- On the heels of its most-watched original movie to date (Animal) and the SXSW 2015 premiere of its original movie The Boy, Chiller announces new original content for 2015 and 2016, including its first-ever original series, Slasher, and two new original movies, Lifeforce and Siren.

- Today, NBC announced the second lineup of the biggest stars coming together to have fun, raise money, and change lives on Red Nose Day! On May 21, the UK’s biggest charity event will land in the US for the first time with a great night of comedy, music, and fundraising to help 12 charity organizations lift children and young people out of poverty, in the U.S. and throughout the world.

Stars in the TV special include: Julia Roberts, Coldplay, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Julianne Moore, Paul Rudd, Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch, Leslie Mann, January Jones and newly announced Neil Patrick Harris! If that wasn’t enough, NBC Entertainment announced today that they’ve launched its first-ever social good app in support of Red Nose Day that encourages social sharing and donations ahead of May 21 telecast. You can find it here.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Previewing Penny Dreadful: Season Two

The cast of Penny Dreadful

For years Showtime played second banana to HBO until Homeland came along and won all the awards and praise in its first season. Sure it was basically a one season wonder that burned out quicker than maybe any series in the history of television (even if it was almost able to regain its footing last season). Homeland did get an identity with Homeland, but in the years since has been chasing that critical and commercial buzz ever since with what I call post-Golden Age Television: shows with good acting, good premise, but something is just keeping it from being great. Showtime's post Homeland shows Ray Donovan, The Affair and Penny Dreadful all fit in this category (The only other new drama since then, Masters of Sex is legitimately great, but is in the same category as The Americans where it seems like only critics watch because no one else actually seems to talks about them). And the less we say about the Twin Peaks reboot right now may be the best because we may never actually get to see it.

One of my biggest problem with the first season of Penny Dreadful was it seemed very paint by numbers. All season long they teased Ethan was the Wolfman, and as the season closed out, he went all Beast Mode. From the moment Brona started coughing up blood, it was safe to assume she would end up being the Bride of Frankenstein which also came to fruition by season's end. Then there was Dorian Grey who seem utterly useless in the first season, only there to have sex with everyone else. That was not to say the whole season was completely predictable, Frankenstein's monster getting ripped opened by the original prototype early on was extremely shocking and I certainly did not see Sir Malcolm spending the entire season looking for his daughter to find her and kill her after telling her, "I already have a daughter."

But what may Penny Dreadful's biggest flaw is that it pales in comparison to Hannibal in the horror department even though the latter is hamstrung by the standards and practices of a network series. Sure Eva Green put on a very haunting performance, but I would be more frightened to see Mads Mikkelsen at the end of a darkened hallway than Green.

As season two starts off, it seems like Penny Dreadful and done better to quash my biggest complaints on the show. Now that we all know the real and new identities of Ethan and Brona, we can finally move on to new less predictable territories. It also looks like they are giving Dorian Grey something to do this season, tied in the season's big bad, and coven of witches than can transform themselves into something that looks like Marilyn Manson circa The Dope Show but sans any hair at all. And they are actually look more scary than Hannibal Lector himself and at the end of the second episode one of the witches does something as creepy as anything Hannibal has done on his show. Many shows have a sophomore slump in their second season, but Penny Dreadful may just be finding its footing in its second and may quickly become the scariest show on television.

Penny Dreadful airs Sundays at 10:00 on Showtime.