Saturday, April 16, 2016

I Want My Music Television: 4/16/16

Nutshell – Phife Dog

We lost the great Phife Dog recently but there is one last solo album coming soon. I kind of wish the part where they sample great Tribe classics was a bit longer.

New Romantics – Taylor Swift

In what seems to be a trend with Taylor Swift, her last music video off an album is just a tour retrospective. But that really should have come about two or three singles ago because she ran out of good songs a while ago.

Boy Problems – Carly Rae Jepsen

When Call Me Maybe was released, you could have told me Carly Rae Jepsen was as young as fourteen and I would have believed you (she turned out to be in her mid-twenties). With her new album it looks like she is aging five years with every passing video. Whoever told her that mullet was a good look should be fired. But at least she can no longer be confused with a teenager.

Moving Mountains – Skylar Grey

At the end of the end of the last big singer-songwriter era last decade there was a new artist named Holly Brook who put out a decent album. Then singer-songwriters went out of vogue, Brooke changed her name to Skylar Grey, hooked up with producers more known hip-hop music and started to make darker music. It is interesting that her new single sounds more like something that would have been on that single Holly Brooke album than anything under her new moniker.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Around the Tubes: 4/15/16

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 Dear Mama, Comedy Knockout, The Drew, Political Idiotest, Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah, Where Am I Now?, Haven, Ray Donovan, Episodes, and Tales from the Crypt.

- This Mother's Day VH1, Flavor Unit and Jesse Collins Entertainment will shine the spotlight on the most important women in the world -- our Moms. This is not a typical honors show though -- the stars will step aside and put their mothers center stage to celebrate the women who sacrificed so much for their success. VH1’s one-hour special event Dear Mama, will premiere Sunday, May 8 at 9:00. Anthony Anderson (ABC’s “Blackish”) will kick off VH1’s Mother’s Day celebration as this year’s host and will also honor his hilarious mom, Doris Bowman. The event will feature multifaceted superstar Queen Latifah honoring her mother Rita Owens, a single mother and former high school teacher in Newark, New Jersey. Trey, Jaden and Willow Smith will also join the mom-fest to honor Hollywood powerhouse Jada Pinkett-Smith. Additional honorary mothers will be announced soon.

- See below for the newly released trailer for truTV's new comedy competition series Comedy Knockout, hosted by stand-up comedian Damien Lemon, which premieres on Thursday, April 21 at 10:30pm ET/PT. Guest comedians this season will include Jim Norton, Sherrod Small, Kevin Barnett, Jamie Lee, Arden Myrin, Chris Distefano, Yamaneika Saunders and many more.

- Showtime will premiere The Drew, a film directed and produced by Baron Davis, that explores the history of a pro-am basketball league in the heart of South Central Los Angeles, on Friday, April 29 at 8:00. The Drew chronicles the unlikely rise of an institution, the men and women who made it possible, and the unifying, positive force it has become.

- GSN, the leader in game shows and competitive entertainment, announced today a new half-hour special event, combining its hit series IDIOTEST with America’s obsession with all things politics. Political Idiotest, produced in association with Popsugar, one of the strongest media brands among millennials, will air Wednesday, April 20 at 11:00.

- Exploring the French iconoclast’s arduous path to creating his nine-hour-plus masterpiece, Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah debuts Monday, MAY 2 at 9:00, exclusively on HBO. Academy Award®-nominated in the category of Best Documentary Short Subject this year, the film includes previously unseen outtakes and features the 90-year-old filmmaker’s modern-day reflections on key moments in his life, as well as his hopes for the future.

- has revealed the cover of writer and actor Mara Wilson's memoir, Where Am I Now?, coming out September 13th from Penguin, and now available for pre-order. The cover also features a glowing endorsement from Broad City's Ilana Glazer, who said: "Growing up, I wanted to be Mara Wilson. 'Where Am I Now?' is a delight."

- For the past five years, Haven, based on the Stephen King novella "The Colorado Kid" and starring Emily Rose, Eric Balfour, Adam Copeland and Lucas Bryant, has thrilled its legions of viewers with its supernatural storylines, VFX-fueled action and drama. And with plenty of dark secrets about to be revealed, along with new guest stars such as the inimitable William Shatner, Haven: The Final Season, out 4/19, is guaranteed to be unforgettable.

- Season four of the hit Showtime drama series Ray Donovan, starring Liev Schreiber in his three-time Golden Globe® and Emmy® nominated role, will premiere on Sunday, June 26th at 9:00 on-air, on demand and over the internet. That same night, Showtime will premiere the new one-hour ensemble comedy series Roadies from creator, writer, director and executive producer Cameron Crowe at 10:00. Check out the Ray Donovan trailer below:

- After four critically-acclaimed seasons, the hit Showtime comedy series Episodes begins production next week on its fifth and final season, it was announced today by Gary Levine, President of Programming, Showtime Networks Inc. The series, starring Matt LeBlanc in his four-time Emmy® nominated and Golden Globe-winning role playing a fictionalized version of himself, is created by award-winning writing partners David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik. Klarik will direct all seven episodes, which will film in London and premiere on the network in 2017.

- TNT, a division of Turner, and M. Night Shyamalan are ramping up TNT's new Tales from the Crypt horror block. The network has officially greenlit an initial 10-episode order of the fan favorite Tales from the Crypt anthology series, based on the original EC Comics. The anthology series will be at the center of each week's chilling lineup, guided by a newly reinvented Crypt Keeper, one of the most popular characters in the Tales from the Crypt universe. TNT's new Tales from the Crypt horror block is now slated to launch in 2017.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Previewing Second Chance Chihuahua

Laura Dash of Second Chance Chihuahua

After a successful inaugural Barkfest, Nat Geo Wild is having its second annual event dedicated to man’s best friend. One of the new specials airing this weekend is dedicated to the smallest of the species, Second Chance Chihuahua premiering Saturday at 9:00. The show follows Laura Dash and Jim Peterson (who claim to have gone on the first internet date back in 1996) who run Dolittle’s Ranch in Studio City, California where they have rescued over 2,000 Chihuahua over the past ten years. There moto is the four R’s, “Rescue, Remedy, Rest, and Rehome.” In the episode they add a bunch of new Chihuahua to their rescue list including one who was hit by a car and has been waiting surgery for two months since the shelter does not have the money to pay to fix the dog’s leg. There is another Chihuahua who was abandoned because of a skin condition and another is one found roaming the LA River. Then there is a pack living in an abandoned building that looks like something one of the Ghost Hunter type shows would investigate.

Barkfest starts Friday at 9:00 and runs all weekend. Other premieres include: World’s Funniest Dogs (Friday at 9:00): Whether it’s chewed up shoes, or an extremely excited dog that tackles you like a linebacker, these cute but mischievous dogs are making their owners ask, “Oh, what did you do this time?!” Welcome to World’s Funniest Dogs. This special features some of the most unbelievable videos of dogs doing hilarious mischief. We also meet the owners and dogs to see if these loving troublemakers are still up to no good, or if they’ve reformed their ways.

Who’s Your Doggie? (Friday at 10:00): Ever meet a dog and wonder what breed it is? Where it gets its looks or its non-stop energy? Every day dog owners across America speculate exactly what their mutts are made of. Who’s Your Doggie? finally has the answer. In this special we take six dogs and dig deep into their family roots. After owners explain their mutts’ curious behaviors and physical traits, we bring in a team of experts to do their own analysis. Then we settle the score… with a DNA test. Using one of the most reliable labs in the world, each breed is revealed – and the results will shock you. With an almost endless list of breed combinations, Who’s Your Doggie covers the big, the small, the cute, and the downright crazy.

How Dogs Got Their Shapes (Sunday at 9:00): Man’s best friend comes in many different shapes and sizes. From the three-pound Yorkie to the 200-pound Great Dane, from a wrinkled shar-pei to the super sleek greyhound, it’s hard to believe that these creatures are all the same species. How Dogs Got Their Shapes will look at dogs from their cute noses to their adorable paws, learning the amazing ways that different breeds’ shapes have changed over time. Not just for show, these specialized features help dogs work, hunt, swim, corral, protect, hear and track. In this special, we’ll use a mix of science, history, and surprising, weird facts to learn all about today’s modern dogs.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Voice Season Ten Knockout Round Power Rankings

I was planning to avoid the disaster that was Miley Cyrus as key adviser, and did for the first week. The show is really much more enjoyable taking eighteen minutes to watch the performances on YouTube then watch two hours. Seriously, what is happening in the other hundred and two minutes? Sure there are about forty minutes of commercial, which still leaves over an hour of non-performance time. Unfortunately there was no Supergirl, Gotham, or Lucifer Monday leaving me with nothing better to watch than The Voice. And Miley was as bad an advisor as I expected. She single-handedly ruined Abby Celso’s performance with her advice. The Knockouts are usually when people start to breakout, but there was not one this season and we may have to blame Miley for that. Instead we got a bunch of bad song choices that just sent people home (which is another Knockout staple, but multiple people advanced this season with bad songs) and a couple front runners just straight up bombed, I am looking at your Ryan, Emily, and Moushumi. Since he had previous good performances, I can see why Ryan got saved, but the other three Steals ranks as some of the worst reprieves in the history of the show. But anyway. Here is my most recent, kind of underwhelming Power Ranking.

1. Caity Peters (Team Pharrell) – Between this and her Blind Audition, it is clear emotional RnB is her sweet spot, no more fiftieth best song from eighties pop stars. Although she is the only person this season I call think can pull off a Amy Vachal / Hotline Bling that should not work but it shockingly does type performance in the Live Shows.

2. Owen Danoff (Team Adam) – I scratched my head when Pharrell drug out a Billy Joel song that may not even be in the top fifty, Always a Woman is definitely in the top fifty, probably in the top ten, and it definitely paid off for Owen making him a threat for the finale.

3. Adam Wakefield (Team Blake) – Another solid performance, but one small critique, go back to playing an instrument. He seemed to wandering around like a blind man.

4. Katie Basden (Team Adam Blake) - I wrote Katie off early, I was meh on her Blind Audition and thought she was just another in Blake’s long list of Stealing fodder for the next round. Apparently she took Adam’s advice of her and Ryan being Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham when he paired them in the Battle (and then gave them a Paul McCartney song) and it definitely paid off. It actually was the best of the two country-fied Fleetwood Mac songs this season. Who knew that band was big in the South?

5. Hannah Huston (Team Pharrell) – I really liked Hannah first two performances, they were weird and bold, but I really have no need hearing House of the Rising Sun again.

6. Brian Nhira (Team Pharrell Adam) – And we have already hit the wall, his performance was good and all, but I just come away thinking meh. And that was a running theme for the rest of the Power Rankings.

7. Paxton Ingram (Team Blake) – When I reviewed Adele’s sophomore album I mentioned how I wanted to like her debut but it was kind of a bore. That is kind of how I feel about Paxton singing a song off her first album, it was good, he deserves to be in the Live Shows (especially going against Angie who gave one of the worst Knockout Round bombs of a potential frontrunner since Ryan Innis), but… yawn.

8. Alisan Porter (Team Christina) – This was my favorite of her performances but I am still not sold on her inevitability. And the song ready did not the glory note she put in it.

9. Mary Sarah (Team Blake) – Much like the Battle Round, Mary sang a song with plenty o sass, but the performance was not very sassy. She just comes off as a Oklahoma beauty contestant type performer.

10. Moushumi (Team Pharrell) – Halsey was a bold choice, she was poised to be the next big thing last year but a hit never really materialized, but I found the performance a little subdued and lacked the excitement that picking a song like that should have brought.

11. Laith Al-Saadi (Team Adam) – I, much like Adam, have quite a few favorite songs and In Your Eyes is one of them. And it is such a great and simple song it is very hard it mess up. Yet Laith was not very great and his version just did not go anywhere. Adam’s critique was on point about just picking a song he thinks other people would like and nott doing what he does great.

12. Ryan Quinn (Team Adam Christina) – What happened to this guy? His first two performances were really good and this was just extremely bland. I am a little surprised anyone tried to Steal him.

13. Shalyah Fearing (Team Christina Pharrell Adam) I guess she should have won, but I was still a little bored.

14. Tamar Davis (Team Christina) – My eyes just roll over whenever sings Sam Smith anymore. I guess this was good and all but, ug, Sam Smith, just give him and Ed Sheeran a season or two off please.

15. Emily Keener (Team Pharrell) – It was interesting seeing “fun” Emily, but I do not think it really worked as a performance. Maybe Pharrell was going on past performances as to why he picked her, but those were not that great either.

16. Bryan Bautista (Team Christina) – Did no one learn from singing Justin Beiber last season. Nope, just nope. Really a Knockout pitting Justin Beiber against OneRepublic just screams, go watch wrestling for the next twenty minutes.

17. Joe Maye (Team Christina Blake) - Meh, never a good sign when your eyes glaze over just at the mention of their song selection. If this is the last time I ever hear Earned It, I will be a happy person.

18. Caroline Burns (Team Adam) – Poor Katherine Ho, I had a sinking suspicion after she won her Battle she would end up be on the losing end of the lone Knockout montage. The good news for Caroline is that the three previous Knockout montage victims all at least made the semi-finals (including one second place finish) and she is on the worst team this season. The bad news is she is one of the main reasons her team is so weak.

19. Lacy Mandigo (Team Christina Blake Pharrell): I said a I was a little surprised that Ryan got Stolen, but at least he had two good performances under his belt that you can talk yourself into as Stealworthy. Lacy’s Audition was montaged, she was Alisan’s backup singer in the Battles, and this fell in somewhere in between run of the mill karaoke and straight up bad.

20. Kata Hay (Team Christina) – Even though I do not like them, most of the time I understand why some contestants make the Live Playoffs, but Kata is this year’s Nic Hawk How the Frack Did They Make the Live Show Award Winner (and really Lacy and Caroline could have also easily won). The sad thing is, I do not put it past the country mafia to take her to the semi-finals because they have for the past five seasons just blindly voted for everyone with a hint of twang.

As I usually do, I have inverse numbers to the contestants based on their rank to see who has the strongest team and here is how they rank.

Blake – 65
Pharrell – 55
Adam – 55
Christina -35

And as it always seems to be the case, Blake comes out of the Blind Audition with a mediocre to bad team, makes the right decisions in the next two rounds (most of the time) and comes out with the strongest team going into the Playoffs. Where Christina made some iffy decisions and is mostly left with meh. But who cares what I think, here is who the iTunes buyers were spending their money on during the Knockouts:

1. Hannah Huston (35)
2. Alisan Porter (50)
3. Adam Wakefield (74)
4. Katie Basden (144)
5. Shalyah Fearing (155)
6. Caity Peters (174)
7. Alisan Porter – Blue Bayou (225)
8. Owen Danoff (250)
9. Tamar Davis (302)
10. Emily Keener (350)
11. Alisan Porter and Lacy Mandingo (452)
12. Adam Wakefield – Tennessee Whiskey (835)
13. Bryan Bautista (435)
14. Mary Sarah (605)
15. Laith Al-Saadi (668)
16. Brian Nhira (707)
17. Bryan Bautista and Malik Heard (959)
18. Kata Hay (1059)
19. Mary Sarah – Where the Boys Are (1074)
20. Lacy Mandingo (1244)
21. Paxton Ingrim (1258)
22. Ryan Quinn (1315)
23. Caroline Burns (1461)

If you take the average of the peak of all three performances, this is how the top twenty rank (if someone missed the top 1500, I gave them 1500 for that performance and put an asterisk for each time they missed the list).

1. Alisan Porter (52.6)
2. Adam Wakefield (197.3)
3. Hannah Huston (268)
4. Emily Keener (291)
5. Mary Sarah (332.3)
6. Bryan Bautista (372.3)
7. Caity Peters (537)
8. Ryan Quinn (572.3)
9. Owen Daniels (611)*
10. Katie Basden (654.6)*
11. Brian Nhira (663)
12. Laith Al-Saadi (684.3)
13. Shalyah Fering (727.6)
14. Paxton Ingrim (732.5)
15. Caroline Burns (834.3)
16. Tamar Davis (850)*
17. Moushumi (867)*
18. Lacy Mandigo (942.3)*
19. Joe Maye (1107.3)**
20. Kata Hays (1353)**

And putting this raking into my ranking formula to see who has the strongest team according to the iTunes buyers, here is how the teams rank.

Pharrell – 56
Blake – 55
Christina – 54
Adam - 45

The top three are really bunched up while not surprisingly Adam is at a distant last. It did not help that his best chance this season, Owen, got montaged in the Battles and failed to chart during the Battles hurting his number. Granted Moshumi got montaged that round and still managed to break the top 1500 (then inexplicably could not get that high when her Knockout was shown in full).

I have been mentioning how bad the iTunes numbers looked in the previous rounds, so I decided to look back at season nine and they are actually worse than I thought. Alisan is the only one this season to average in the top one hundred, three singers did last season (although Alisan has just slightly better numbers than Jordan Smith did). Then the further you look down it gets worse, Ivonne Acero, Playoff fodder for Blake last season and dead last on her team based on average, has a higher average than everyone on Adam’s team this season (479 to Brian Nhira’s 669). And when you look at the Knockouts, it looks even more worse. Last season, sixteen of the top twenty reached the top 200 on iTunes (Morgan Frazier just missed the cut with 204) with their Knockout song, this season, only six. Zach Seabaugh, who was montaged, charted the lowest at 373 which would have put him tenth on this season’s list, two performances shown in full, Joe and Moushumi, did not even make the top 1500. There is also a huge enthusiasm gap this year as previous round songs are just not reappearing. This season, three Blind Auditions and two Battle Rounds appeared during the Knockouts; last season nine Blind Auditions showed up again, and nine Battle Round. This season Alisan was the only person to have all three performances in the top 1500 during the Knockouts, Last season Amy Vachal, Jordan Smith, Barrett Baber, Korin Bukowski, and Viktor Kirby all did. And that does not include Ellie Lawrence and Andi and Alex who were eliminated but still had their two previous performances charting.

Last year The Voice introduced the Coaches Comeback a great idea in theory to right the many bad coaching decision except the coaches mostly made head scratching bring backs. Gwen was the only one who actually brought back someone who deserved it. Pharrell brought back someone he dumped in the Battle Round (and not even Sydney Rhame who had a very high charting Blind Audition), then Blake and Adam just brought back obvious fodder. In Blake’s defense, with Barrett, Emily Ann, and Zach, anyone he would have brought back would have looked like fodder and he brought in some diversity in what was a very white washed and dude heavy top twenty. Adam for some reason did not bring back Andi and Alex, who had the highest charting Blind Audition and Battle round songs in favor for the person they beat in the Battles and gave a horrendous Knockout performance after being Stolen by Blake.

So I am not expecting much this season. Personally I would bring back Peyton Parker, Kristen Marie, Abby Celso, and… um, goodness, Adam does not even have anyone worth bringing back. Maybe they should let him bring back someone else’s castoff instead like Brittany Kennell. Unfortunately supposed spoilers can be found on the internet and I would be 0 for four with three of the four ranked in the bottom six of my Battle Round Power Rankings (the fourth rumored singer did not even make it out of the Battles). Remember how I said Blake bringing back Najah Nicole was much needed for diversity sake last season because the Top 20 was so white and dude heavy. Well apparently this season is not white or male enough because reportedly (keep in mind from not entirely reliable sources) all four are boring white dudes. Really?!? After last year’s debacle of six of the eight singers people America saved last season were boring white dudes (which is worse when you realize Madi Davis only advanced because her team only had one boring white dude and of course the eight person saved was a country female because the country mafia just blindly votes for anything with twang), you get an actual diverse Top 20 (an Indian! Two black dudes on Blake’s team!! An all-female Parrell Team!!! Even one of the four boring white dudes has a Muslim sounding name!!!!) only to let the bored housewives a chance to whitewash another season? Seriously, they are doubling the number of boring white dudes with the Coach's Comeback if the spoilers are true. Ugg. One I am pretty sure will advance, two I give a punchers chance, Adam, I will say it again, has just completely given up on this season. Oh well. Here are my predictions:

America Saves: Owen, Laith; Adam Saves: Shalyah
America Saves: Adam, Mary; Blake Saves: Paxton
America Saves: Alisan, Ryan; Christina Saves: Bryan
America Saves: Hannah, Supposed Bring Back Contestant; Pharrell Saves: Emily

Finals: Adam beats Alisan, Mary, and Owen

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Previewing The Detour

The cast of The Detour

For years I have been questioning networks for greenlighting dramas that sound like they would make a good movie but how are they going to stretch the premise across ten to twenty-two episodes. Pretty much every one of them did not make it past their original run of episodes. Now TBS is airing the first half hour comedy which makes me wonder, so where do they go after the first batch of episodes? Really, the best way to describe The Detour is to call it Vacation: The Television Show. And if the viewers are lucky, it will be much more the Chevy Chase version than the Ed Helms reboot (spoiler alert, thankfully it is closer to Chase than Helms).

The Detour was created by The Daily Show vets and married couple Jason Jones and Samantha Bee. Jones plays the father on the show but since Bee has her own weekly political show on the same network, Natalie Zea plays the mother figure. Samantha really drew the short straw in that relationship; at night she has to talk about whatever stupid thing Donald Trump said that week and during the day watch dailies of her husband fondling Raylan Givens’ absurdly attractive baby mama.

Along for the ride are twins played by surprisingly not horrible child actors. The male half is the kind of person who is super confident that they are the smartest person in the room but is extremely uninformed about basically everything (can we officially call this the Donald Trump Syndrome). The female twin is the closest thing this family has to a voice of reason as her mouth is almost constantly a gasped to the stupid things her brother said and just straight up bad parenting by her parental figures.

National Lampoon was able to create about ninety minutes of entertaining road trip shenanigans, which comes out to about four episodes of televised comedies these days without commercials. Add the sequel, that is eight episodes. The big question is can The Detour keep it up for ten episode and beyond as the show has already been picked up for a second season. There is a The Affair type plot twist at the end of the first episode. Spoiler Alert, it does not involve any of the characters having an affair. Actually there really is no reason to have a spoiler warning for the first episode because the Pilot has been on YouTube for a couple days now; I have even embedded it below. If you prefer to watch it on your big screen television (and do not have the YouTube app) it is also available On Demand.

So the big twist (again, scroll down to watch if you do not want to be spoiled first) sees Jones being grilled by the FBI at the end of the episode for an undisclosed reason sometime in the future; far enough for him to grow a pretty thick beard, maybe a month or two. But before that Jones needs to get his family from Syracuse to Fort Lauderdale for a family vacation / work retreat (or so his family thinks as he gets fired right before the trip). And as you can tell by the title of the show, there are plenty of unexpected stops along the way, no dead aunts or backwoods cousins (there is a trainwreck of a sister left behind in Syracuse to cat sit; though she ends up having more to do as the show progresses), but still plenty of new hijacks including poor hotel accommodation in Pennsylvania (you do not want to know what the idiot son thinks it is spelled if you are native of the state; granted if you are annoying enough to root for the Steelers or Phillies, you probably have already thought of the joke before), a drunk tank, a culturally insensitive dining establishment in the south, a Bed and Breakfast run by Dr. Harold Abbott (like you have never seen before, and kind of hope to never see again), and of course they arrive in Florida just to run into a massive traffic jam which gives the parent enough time to tell their children the very inappropriate story of how they met.

For a show that is kind of a rip off of a thirty year old movie which already had a horrible reboot last year, The Detour is surprisingly not horrible. Sure TBS’s previous new comedy Angie Tribeca was significantly funny and it probably would only be the fourth funniest family comedy if it aired on ABC. But I did laugh plenty of times throughout the first few episodes, and funnier than the much critically adored Modern Family, even if some of it was uncomfortable laughter; the high point, or low depending how you look at it, comes in the two episodes Dr. Abbott shows up in.

The Detour airs Mondays at 9:00 on TBS. You can go ahead and watch the premiere now commercial free below or download it for free on iTunes or steam it on Amazon Instant Video.