Friday, October 02, 2015

Around the Tubes: 10/2/15

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 Gorongosa Park: Rebirth of Paradise, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, Neighborhood Sessions, VH1 Best Music of 2015: You Oughta Know, Tay Beckham, The Last Man On Earth, Showtime, Dr. K’s Exotic Animal ER, Skee TV, Jo Frost: Nanny on Tour, Skin Wars: Fresh Paint, and Heroes Reborn: Enigma.

- On Oct. 6 at 8 pm EST, PBS will air the final episodes of Gorongosa Park: Rebirth of Paradise. Titled“Battle Lines” and “Roaring Back,” these episodes follow Joyce Poole as she makes a breakthrough with the elephants in Gorongosa, while her brother Bob spends a night chasing a group of crop-raiding elephants. A new lion arrives, sparking a conflict among Gorongosa’s dominant lions. Then, after many sleepless nights, the team is relieved to find a pair of lion cubs that had gone missing. These two are the future of lions in Gorongosa.

- Hailed as one of the most innovative and intimate documentaries of all time, experience Kurt Cobain like never before in the only fully authorized portrait of the famed music icon in Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck. Acclaimed filmmaker Brett Morgen expertly blends Cobain’s personal archive of art, music, never-before-seen movies, animation and revelatory interviews from his family and closest friends. Wildly creative and highly praised, the documentary follows Kurt from his earliest years in this visceral and detailed cinematic insight of an artist struggling to come to terms and make sense of his place in the world. Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, will be released by Universal Music Enterprises in multiple formats, including the Super Deluxe Edition as well as in Blu-ray, DVD and digital video formats. The soundtrack album, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings will also be released on CD and digitally on November 13, 2015. A 2LP vinyl edition of Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings will follow on December 4, 2015. In addition, a 7-inch Single featuring “And I Love Her” and “Sappy (Early Demo)” is also scheduled for release on November 20th.

- Toby Keith is heading to TBS this fall as part of Neighborhood Sessions, an ongoing series of music specials created by State Farm. The televised event will include an intimate performance that Keith gave to remarkable neighbors in his hometown area of Moore, Okla. in September. It will pair footage of the chart-topping star's rollicking local performance with powerful stories of perseverance and community from the neighbors who continue to impact his life and career. Neighborhood Sessions featuring Toby Keith marks the second special in the Neighborhood Sessions series, which gives the biggest names in music a chance to thank the neighbor s who inspired them, and who continue to inspire greatness in their communities every day. The special is slated to premiere on TBS on Friday, Oct. 16, at 10, in the midst of the network's Major League Baseball postseason coverage.

- VH1 will bring its entire 2015 You Oughta Know class of artists together on one stage for an unforgettable night of music with VH1 Best Music of 2015: You Oughta Know event live from The Armory Foundation in New York on Thursday, November 12 at 9:00. Since its launch in 2005, VH1’s “You Oughta Know” franchise has introduced talented new artists on the rise and serves as a barometer for what and who’s hot on the music scene today. The VH1 Best Music of 2015: “You Oughta Know” artists taking the stage live include: Hozier, Ella Henderson, George Ezra, Tori Kelly, James Bay, Nate Ruess, Rachel Platten, Elle King, Miguel and X Ambassadors.

- This week, The Voice alum Tay Beckham celebrated her 20th birthday with the release of her debut single Excuses – a sultry and soulful break-up anthem bringing a millennial singer/songwriter’s take on love and heartbreak. Think: Tori Kelly meets Alicia Keys.

- In a new deal with Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution, Hulu this week announced that it has acquired the streaming rights to all past episodes of FOX’s hit series, The Last Man On Earth. All existing episodes of the series are available to stream exclusively on Hulu now.

- This week, Showtime Networks announced that Amazon and Google are the newest platforms to launch the Showtime stand-alone streaming service available on Amazon Fire devices including Fire tablets, Fire TV, Fire TV stick, and Android devices, including Android phones and tablets and Android TV. Showtime has also added Android, iOS and web Chrome browser support for Chromecast, as well as other Google Cast-enabled streaming devices. The arrival of Showtime on Amazon, Android and Cast devices is in advance of the highly-anticipated season premieres of the Emmy® and Golden Globe®-winning series Homeland and the Golden Globe-winning series The Affair this Sunday, October 4th. Amazon and Android users are able to subscribe to SHOWTIME through the SHOWTIME app anywhere in the U.S., for one monthly price of $10.99, and new subscribers will be offered a 30-day free trial at sign-up. The announcement was made today by David Nevins, President, Showtime Networks Inc.

- There is no such thing as a boring day at Dr. Susan Kelleher’s exotic animal E.R. in South Florida, where she and her skilled staff treat every animal that will fit through the door, from big cats to hedgehogs, birds, reptiles, rabbits and every other animal imaginable. Everything but a dog or house cat! Follow the unusual and heartwarming stories these doctors face every day on Dr. K’s Exotic Animal ER, premiering Saturday, October 3 at 9:00 on Nat Geo WILD.

DJ Skee is back! On the season premiere of Skee TV, tonight at 10:00 on Fuse, DJ Skee sits down with “White Iverson” rapper Post Malone, actor Josh Peck from the new Fox show “Grandfathered,” and rising rap star Super Duper Kyle, whose new album “Smyle” drops Friday. Post Malone and Super Duper Kyle perform for a live audience at the historic Ivar Theatre in Hollywood, and SKEE TV presents an exclusive look at Ernest Baker, the NYC party legend who has been called “the last rockstar writer left” and who Drake recently credited for naming his new mixtape with Future.

- When it comes to fixing families in distress, only one expert has gained the respect of parents across the globe: Jo Frost. Now, Frost’s Nanny Jo Productions is teaming up with UP TV to produce a new original series, Jo Frost: Nanny on Tour, that will help families evolve through all stages of parenting from newborns and toddlers to tweens and teens. In the series, Jo will address many 21st century parental concerns, such as video game addiction, cyber-bullying, single parent stress, blended family feuds, and much more. Based on her highly successful international format, production has commenced in cities across the U.S. on ten one-hour episodes that will premiere on UP during the first quarter of 2016.

- GSN, the leader in game shows and competitive entertainment, plans to expand upon the popularity of its hit series Skin Wars, greenlighting an eight-episode order of the new one-hour series, Skin Wars: Fresh Paint, to be hosted by master of transformation, RuPaul Charles, who also serves as a judge on Skin Wars.

- Heroes Reborn: Enigma, the first of two HEROES REBORN games that immerse fans into the universe created by Tim Kring, will be available for mobile and tablet devices (iOS and Android) on Oct. 8, entertainment studio and game publisher Imperative Entertainment announced today. Serving as a prequel for the HEROES REBORN event series, HEROES REBORN: Enigma is a first person action puzzle game that has players become Dahlia, an evolved human with incredible powers, seeking to escape the clutches of a secret government facility known as The Quarry. Dahlia has to solve a series of brain-teasing puzzles in complex environments. Featuring stunning visuals from Unreal Engine 4, the game is produced by multi-platform studio Imperative Entertainment and developed by Phosphor Games.

Previewing The Affair: Season Two

There has been a trend recently to give each new season a new subtitle. The first time I remember this happening was with Spartacus which officially changed its title every year. Some network do it to re-brand shows like Gotham: Rise of the Villains. Others are just unofficial cheat attempt at social marketing (#BlackSwan). The new season of The Affair might as well have a new name because the titular affair is now out in the open they might as well call the new season The Affair: The Divorce.

The first season of The Affair was maybe the weirdest non-sci-fi series in the history of television though I am not sure if that is a good thing or not. Really my best recollection of the first season was when Bill Simmons (formally of The BS Report and soon to be host of The Bill Simmons Podcast) who countered a dissenter of The Affair saying "you are watching the wrong way." But even as the first season ended, I still was not sure I was watching the show the right way.

At its core, The Affair is an interesting concept with two different points of view which sometime slightly very and other times are completely different. Who is right and who is wrong? We may never now. And to make things more interesting or complicated depending on how you watch the show, the episodes ended sometime in the future with the police investigating a murder. It at first seemed like the two stories were being told to the police but that no longer seems like the case. The ended of the season ended with us learning that Noah and Alison were married with a child just before he was hauled away by the police in the murder of her former brother-in-law, the very one who knocked up his teenage daughter in present day and did not even bother to show up for the abortion.

If you did not like the duel storytelling of the first season, I got some really bad news for you (mild spoiler alert but the premiere is already online and On Demand if you want to watch it, and you may want to watch the TV-14 version on YouTube because the TVMA version features full frontal male nudity) because not only do we get the stories of Noah and Alison, the twist of the new season is after Noah's story, the second story is not Alison but of Helen, Noah's soon to be ex-wife. Like last season, they have slightly different versions of their run in with each other: he thinks their mediator is a overzealous douchebag and she sees him as a slimy douchebag.

And as you guessed it, the second episode starts off with Alison before we get Cole's point of view. So if this holds up, we may only get six days told four ways instead of two stories told twelve ways. But unlike Noah and Helen's slight difference, Alison and Cole's sole run in next week diverges quite differently. Who is telling the truth? I am beginning to think no one is and maybe the only thing we can believe as fact is the future scenes where we finally get to see future Helen and Cole for the first time.

I started to believe that none of the storytellers were being truthful in the first season because each person made themselves look better than they probably were. Noah viewed himself as the stoic superdad seduced by a temptress while Alison viewed herself as the grieving mother who finally gave into the advances of a cad. But this season, all four storytellers portray themselves as pretty horrible people. And they are all clearly kind of horrible people. So maybe this is the season where all the characters realize just how horrible they are and can finally admit it. But who they are admitting it to, nobody knows.

The Affair airs Sundays at 10:00 on Showtime.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Previewing Homeland: Season Five

The first time Carrie Mastiston and Saul Beariston see each other in season five of Homeland, which takesd place two years after the attack in Islamabad which seems to be around the last time the two talked, Saul tells Carrie, "You're being stupid and naive, two things you haven't been before." What? WHAT?!?!? Sure Carrie was the only one who correctly predicted that Brody was a terrorist back in season one, but since then she has only been stupid and naive, choosing her terrorist lover over her country and whose decisions led to the embassy being overrun last season.

But since Saul sold her out last season, Carrie has left the CIA to become the head of security for a millionaire in Berlin who Saul claims to be on the other team because his family made their fortune during World War II. And continuing the flip from last season, Saul is back in the CIA, but not as the head as he blames Carrie's bad recommendation as his being overlooked. Of course in the waning two years Quinn has been in Syria killing terrorists.

With the new setting is some new faces. Miranda Otto (I, Frankenstien) plays the Berlin Bureau chief, Sebastian Koch (A Good Day to Die Hard) is the guy who hires Carrie to protect him, while Sarah Sololovic is another American who works at the foundation. Alexander Fehling (Inglourious Basterds) is the legal council there and starts the season cohabitation with Carrie and Baby Brody (thankfully she finds herself back stateside early in the season).

The Foundation and the CIA naturally find themselves intertwined after a hacker attacks the Berlin Bureau's computers whose information shows up in the (virtual) hands of Sololovic. This brings Saul to Berlin and Quinn of course tags along to kill German terrorists. And before you think Homeland is morphing into a Mr Robot hacking show, Carrie and her boss travel to Syria where of course things start blowing up.

After three seasons of riding on the wildest roller-coaster ride possibly in the history of television with some of the highest highs, but lowest lows, Homeland managed to course correct with a more even keel with less mind blowing, and mind numbing, plot twists. That seems to continue in season five as the show does continue a more traditional pace. Though for those that do miss the early glory days, Carrie does go off her meds in episode three and it is awesome. And yes the crazy picture wall is back.

Homeland airs Sundays at 9:00 on Showtime.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 9/27/15

Masters of Sex: Andy Greenwald of Grantland has a yearly column where he "trades" characters from one show to another to make stale shows better. It is fun if not a little silly but I could not help but think of his column during this episode. Specifically can they trade drunk Judy Greer to Masters of Sex and Married can get back Libby (who I thought actually might be leaving the show until late in the episode when she realized she could not leave Bill after the accusations made this week). Greer was just on fire this week compared to Married where she seems stuck on a show like her character is stuck in the marriage. And while I am doing fantasy casting, how about Bill recruiting the woman's bathroom attendant to work for him back in Missouri? But back to the accusation, I do see both sides, yeah that is a bit weird what Bill did, but he is a doctor who specializes in the reproductive system so who better than him to talk about those issues? Being the time I have a feeling that Bill will be reprimanded to some extent, just what is the real question.

Ray Donovan: Wait, there is still another episode left because that felt like a season finale. finally dispatched Al Swearagen, Micky weaseled his way into staying in California. I guess this means something is really going to blow up in the actual season finale. Is Ray going to regret not killing former FBI guy? Is he going to kill Bridget's math teacher? Though they have not been mentioned for half the season, there are still Arayians out there that are still mad at Terry for killing one of their brothers in the beginning of the season.

The Strain: So the Nazi vampire loved a Jew. Who would have guessed. But kind of an uneventful episode. I was a bit surprised they were able to save Dutch, once she ran into the literal brick wall, I figured she was a goner. Gus's long goodbye was boring and what was not surprising was that the dude with the limp would stay and fight. Then the search for the book jut went around in circle when the owner would not give the old Jew the book only to sell it to the guy the old Jew has a deal with. But I guess the black dude will up his price when the old Jew comes collecting.
You can download The Strain on iTunes.

Gotham:That is two straight days where a show opened up with an ironic use of Perfect Day in a montage. Weird coincidence. I wonder if anyone at Fox watched Fear the Walking Dead and thought, frack, maybe we should change our premiere. But anyway. The big surprise of the new season is that Barbra is actually kind of enjoyable after being completely useless last season. And is Tigress building a Suicide Squad for the bad guys? If so I am guessing they will not call it that because of the movie.
You can download Gotham on iTunes.

The Voice: The Blind Audition is again proving it is the best part (and quickly becoming the only watchable stage) as we actually get some interesting song selection. Just in the firs four hours we get singer performing Blues Traveler, The Jeff Healey Band, Janelle Monáe, Cage the Elephant, Mute Math, Tegan and Sara (albeit via montage), and Hootie & The Blowfish for the first time ever on the show as well as the first Sarah McLachlan song not titled Angel (which is hopefully retired from the show). Okay, most of those performances were not good even though some inexplicably got all four coaches to push their buttons. But there was one audition that did actually catch my ear and, excuse my Carson Daly level of hyperbole, may be the most surprisingly great song choice in the history of the show (or at the very least since Lindsey Pavao turned a Trey Songz song into a haunting alt-rock song). Seriously Ellie Lawrence to the cheesily great eighties abstinence classic We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off into a sweet and sweeping Adele type ballad. Just give her the crown now. Of course she will probably have her Battle Round montage before losing to someone horrible in the Knockout Round. I have no faith in Gwen who had a disastrous first season (Ryan Sill: never forget). Maybe it would be best if Gwen dumps her because I would much rather see her on Blake's team, who surprisingly did not hit his button even though that is exactly the kind of artist he usually goes for.
You can download songs from this week on iTunes using the widget at right.

Life in Pieces: I was not expecting much from this show but it still somehow managed to slither under the low bar I had for it. It is trying way too hard to be Modern Family but fails massively because 1) four distinct family story lines is too many, 2) none of the characters are remotely likeable (there is huge problem when the ex fiance of the youngest brother is the best character), 3) sure Modern Family is rarely laugh out loud funny, but this was not even head laugh funny and downright disgusting in some of their "joke" (like any of the post-pregnancy stuff or the dad loosing his virginity), 4) Modern Family recruited Al Bundy and Carol Vessey, Life in Pieces has a bunch of actors who clearly have no idea how to act funny (seriously, did Colin Hanks not watch Busom Buddies as a child?), 5) and most importantly, there is no hot daughter.
You can download Life in Pieces on iTunes.

Castle: After watching The Walking Dead for so long, I have been mostly desensitized to television violence but holy frack the spider bag on the head scene freaked me out more than anything Hannibal ever did. I am shivering just thinking about it. But anyway. Holy Jackie Jorner Kersey sighting! Nice to see someone from The Neighbors can still find work. And I really liked her interactions wqith Alexis. Actually, I would like the show better if they shift away from NYPD and pull a Veronica Mars with Castle and his daughter working as private investigators.
You can download Castle.

Survivor: Second Chances: Twists galore! And I actually liked both of them. First they finally switched up the Hidden Immunity Idol which has been way too was to find going back about ten seasons now. This time around it is hidden at the reward challenge and I actually was beginning to think Kelley (not to be confused with Kelly; but who knew Kelley, with the extra E, was actually entertaining, I barely remember her from her season) was actually not going to go back for even even though everyone was focusing on the lock challenge. Though I do suspect the editors fudged that scene a little. I am too lazy to go back and watch but I am pretty sure the recycled her looking back multiple times making it seemed like she took longer to decide than she did.

The other big twist is that Probst went straight from Immunity Challenge to Tribal Council. This is something I thought they should have done for a very long time now especially in cases when the low person on the totem pole actually wins Individual Immunity. I am not sure how much effect this had on the voting as only two people got votes and I believe Varner even said it was likely everyone had already made up their mind. But in the end the right person went home because I am not sure I could watch any more of Vytas in his underwear. Seriously, how that not get blurred? I was actually thinking about switching over to my standard definition channel.

And though I think he made the right decision for my eye balls, I think Varner, who I assume was the swing vote along with Pei Gee, made the wrong decision. Instead of going with the hard workers, he sides with the strategists. The "Old Schooler" would have been easier to manipulate (and would be easy targets after the merge) where the New Schoolers will turn on him as soon as he is the only old guy left. Then you have the other tribe that is a bit more interesting. Jeremy is building his Alpha Male alliance but only has four people so far. Can he get two more? Keith may not be hard but who is number six. Or can Fishback, who got a really bad (but funny) edit in the premiere but his brains and get rid of the Alpha Males?
You can download Survivor: Second Chance on iTunes.

The Goldbergs: It is going to be a really rough season if we have to hear Adam's voice change the whole time. His squeaky voice in the first two seasons was annoying enough.
You can download The Goldbergs on iTunes.

Nashville: Yeah, it was obvious that the thing that went wrong in the season finale was not that Deacon died but it was his sister that was having the problems (I did like that they stalled the credits so the actor's name did not show up until after we learned he was still alive). Though I was a bit surprised that they did not kill of the sister. I really though there was going to be a code red moment when Scarlett started making out with the doctor right in front of her.
You can download Nashville on iTunes.