Friday, April 29, 2016

Around the Tubes: 4/29/16

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 Team Foxcatcher, The Wallflowers, Mygrations, Amy Grant, Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah, Dear Mama, and Genius.

- The incredible true and tragic story of world champion wrestler David Schultz, the centerpiece of a national wrestling training program, comes to life in the riveting new Netflix original documentary feature, Team Foxcatcher. The acclaimed film recently had its world premiere during the Tribeca Film Festival, ahead of its global debut on Netflix today.

- With the release of The Wallflowers’ second album, Bringing Down the Horse, on Interscope Records, May 21, 1996, band leader Jakob Dylan transformed overnight from the scion of one of rock’s living legends to a presence in his own right (or write, as the case may be, as the chief songwriter). The album went quadruple-platinum, selling more than 4 million copies, and produced four multi-format hits in “One Headlight,” “6th Avenue Heartache,” “Three Marlenas” and “The Difference,” earning a total of five Grammy nominations and two Grammy Awards (for “One Headlight”) over two years. To help mark the album’s 20th anniversary next month, Universal Music Enterprises is reissuing the album for the first time on vinyl in a two-LP set on May 13.

- Each spring, in a desperate bid for survival, 1.3 million wildebeests race hundreds of miles north from the dry southern Serengeti plains to the lush grasses of the Maasai Mara in Kenya. It’s an incredibly dangerous journey through a landscape dominated by apex predators, including lions, leopards, hyenas and crocodiles. Tens of thousands of wildebeests won’t make it — so how will humans fare? Premiering Monday, May 23, at 9:00, National Geographic Channel’s new series Mygrations follows a team of 20 men and women in a feat that has never been attempted, as they set out on foot, unarmed and without a map or compass, to follow in the footsteps of the wildebeests. The human herd must cross hundreds of miles of scorched savannah — where water, food and shelter are hard to find but lethal predators roam unchecked — to reach the Mara River, the pinnacle of the wildebeests’ death-defying quest for life.

- Baby, Baby….can you believe it’s been 25 years since Amy Grant’s iconic album, Heart In Motion, was released?! Amy became the first Christian artist to score a #1 hit in the United States when the album’s first single, “Baby Baby”, took the country by storm. With over five million albums sold, five Top 10 radio hits and four GRAMMY(R) nominations, Heart In Motion secured Amy’s place in pop music history. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of this project, we are thrilled that the amazingly talented Tori Kelly has recorded a new version of “Baby Baby”. Hearing the timeless melody and lyric reimagined after all these years by one of today’s hottest voices is a fun and fitting tribute to Amy and the success of Heart In Motion.

- n 1973, Claude Lanzmann began work on a documentary about the murder of European Jews during WWII. Twelve years and more than 200 hours of footage later, he finished “Shoah,” a masterpiece widely considered to be the most important Holocaust film ever made. Exploring the French iconoclast’s arduous path to creating his nine-hour-plus masterpiece, Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah debuts Monday, MAY 2 (9:00-9:45 p.m. ET/PT), 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.

- VH1, Flavor Unit and Jesse Collins Entertainment add Grammy Award winning artist Alicia Keys to the lineup of heavyweight talent that will be honoring their mothers at VH1’s special one-hour event Dear Mama, premiering Sunday, May 8 at 9:00.

- National Geographic Channel announced today that it will go straight to series with the first scripted series in the history of the network, the global anthology Genius from Fox 21 Television Studios (“Homeland,” “The People v. O.J. Simpson”), Imagine Television (“24,” “Empire”), OddLot Entertainment and EUE/Sokolow. The straight-to-series order will mark the first scripted series for the network, and Academy Award winner Ron Howard will direct the first episode. Each season of the anthology will dramatize the fascinating stories of the world’s most brilliant innovators. The premiere season will focus on scientist Albert Einstein and will be based on Walter Isaacson’s critically acclaimed book “Einstein: His Life and Universe,” adapted by writer Noah Pink. The series will be executive produced by Imagine’s Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Francie Calfo, and co-produced by Anna Culp; from OddLot Entertainment, Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane will executive produce and Melissa Rucker will co-produce; and Sam Sokolow and Jeff Cooney from EUE/Sokolow will also executive produce. Pink will also executive produce alongside a showrunner soon to be announced.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Previewing Penny Dreadful: Season Three

At the end of the last season of Penny Dreadful, everyone seemed to be leaving Vanessa, Ethan turned himself in to the American lawmen who hunted him for the past two seasons, Sir Malcolm went back to Africa, even the Creature even boarded a ship to an undisclosed location. The only people left in London with here were Ferdinand and Dr. Frankenstein who experienced his own abandonment when Lily chose the company of Dorian Gray over his.

So it is Ferdinand who visits Vanessa at the start of the season while she is living in squalor who shakes off her cobwebs and sends her to a doctor specializing in alienism (the study of mental illness) played by Patti Lupone, just not as the same character she played last season on account that she got tarred and feathered. Across the globe we meet up with Ethan on a train in the New Mexico territory along with his captor and other familiar face. The Creature finds himself at the start of the season on the same boat but is now frozen still in the arctic.

Sir Malcolm meanwhile is in Zanzibar runs into an Indian who has a connection with Ethan. Dr. Frankenstein is also visited by an Indian but this one is from the Asian subcontinent not North American and has a name that everyone will know. Victor’s visitor is not the only new familiar Victorian literary name we hear except the second one we hear is the last word we hear in the season premiere and do not actually get to see the person who introduces himself to a new acquaintance of Vanessa.

The start of the new season is a bit of a slow burn with the main characters spread across three continents and one undisclosed arctic climate, and only two actually interacting with each other (Dorian and Lily are completely absent aside from a couple glimpses in the “previous on” package). But with the introduction of the two new Victorian characters and Lupone’s new creation, the new season looks to shake things up as Penny Dreadful looks to claim the title as best horror show on television.

Penny Dreadful airs Sundays at 10:00 on Showtime. If you can not wait for the premiere you can watch it below (albeit the TV14 version):

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

I Want My Music Television: 4/27/16

Vroom Vroom - Charli XCX

So exclusive music videos are becoming a thing (even though it did not work for MTV when they tried their Supervideos a couple years back). Beyoncé dropped her video album over the weekend but you need an HBO subscription or shell out twenty dollars a month at Tidal to watch. Pass. Apple Music is the only place you can see the new Charli XCX video but at least you do not need a subscription to their service to watch. On the negative side, the video was choppy for me, something I never have a problem with while watching YouTube. As for the song, I find it extremely annoying, and kind of catchy at the same time and cannot stop hitting repeat.

Move Me – Sara Watkins

Two years ago Nickle Creek had one of the rare comeback records that did not suck. It probably helped that all the members of the band had been steadily recording during the group’s hiatus. After thaaqt album Sara Watkins already released an album with her brother and later this year is putting out another solo record. Judging from the first single it is a huge departure from anything she has done before with her ditching the folk rock she has been known for with something more alt-rock. Move Me sounds like it could have been released during the mid-nineties at the height of the genre. And I kind of wish I was invited to that dinner party, everything on that table looks great.

A Change of Heart – The 1975

Are The 1975 officially in their pretentious rock phase? I mean, c’mon, dancing clowns in black and white for a video they are completely absent?

America’s Sweetheart – Elle King

It is time for one of my favorite running segment in One Hit Wonder Watch. Ex’s and Oh’s was an extremely catchy hit for Elle King last year (though it was only my list of the Best Songs of 2014). When her album came out I remember Ex’s and Oh’s sticking out not just because it was the best song but it was one of the few songs that did not sound like it was trying to be a cheap Adele rip-off. Apparently there was another rock tinged song on that album that I forgot and though I doubt it will have much dent on the pop charts, it could be a niche hit on adult contemporary stations.

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Meloncoly Happy Trails to Prince

For people my age, Prince was always there. 1999 and Little Red Corvette were radio staples when we started to listen to the radio. Sure it was not until college when I realized that Little Red Corvette was not actually about cars, but anyway. Then came Purple Rain. Since it was R rated and I was still in my single digits, I was not allowed to watch it, but after a lot of begging my parents did rend it, watched it one night, marked the music parts and I could watch them, turn it off, then flash forward to the next performance. Presumably Darling Nikki was the one performance from the film I could not watch as it has the distinction as being the song that prompted Tipper Gore to start her crusade to slap Parental Advisory stickers on albums. It was not until recent years when the film got played ad nausea by VH1 Classic did I finally get to see the non-music bits, and okay, maybe my parents did me a favor because that movie (along with pretty much every movie from that decade) does not really hold up aside from when Prince told Apollonia she needed to purify herself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.

Sure it was hard to be a Prince fan at times, his Symbol era was marred by a flood of mediocre albums as a way as the Artist Formally Known as Prince to get out of his record contract. And I cannot count how many times I went to YouTube to watch Batdance only to remember, oh yeah, Prince hates the internet. But both MTV and VH1 started playing Prince music videos again Thursday and I actually got to see Batdance in its entirety for the first time in maybe twenty-five year and it was glorious. His VMA performance also got heavy play and it is just as shocking today that it got play as it did back then. And watching these video blocks and it is just shocking just how much great Prince music there is. The Morning Papers came on and I completely forgot about, that is just how many great Prince songs there is. The Morning Papers is a great song but I am not sure if it is even one of his fifty best songs.

Like I mentioned above, Prince hates the internet so it is hard to find any of his video, and if you do, they are probably gone by the time you go back. Thankfully he does not own the rights to While My Guitar Gently Weeps which he performed with Tom Petty Jeff Lynn, Steve Winwood (Traffic was inducted that year) and Dhani Harrison (his father George was also inducted as a solo artist) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame put on their YouTube channel from the year he was inducted. Prince is barely seen almost completely off stage, but then he comes front and center and gives one of the most epic guitar solos ever. Seriously, you do not even need all the fingers on one hand to count the number of people who could do the Eric Clapton solo justice and Prince did it. And then when he was done he threw the guitar over his head and struts off the stage. Forget dropping the mic, that is how you end a performance.

Prince could have gone down as the greatest guitarist if he wanted to. He could have been the King of Pop if he wanted to. He was Hendrix, James Brown, and Michael Jackson rolled into one and I would argue better than all of them. Instead of one genre he just did everything great: rock, pop, RnB, funk, gospel, jazz, dance, Purple Rain was number two on my 100 Greatest Power Ballads of all time. The guy even ghostwrote a song for Kenny Rogers. He even created genres, seriously, how do you even classify When Doves Cry? Sign O’ the Times?

As I mentioned, being a Prince fan could be rough, particularly the Symbol years featured a lot of mediocre music, but once he got out of his Warner Brothers contract and returned to being known as just Prince, no silly symbols needed (wait, did Prince invent the emoticon?) the music was good again starting with Musicology and he kept popping up on my end year lists all the way to to 2013’s Breakfast Can Wait (I never got to listen to his most recent album because it was a Tidal exclusive and I have no desire to mess with Tidal; hopefully the Prince estate is a bit more relaxed on the internet). Sure nothing was Purple Rain great again, but it did not have to be, good Prince was still better than most acts in the past decade. Plus this was the guy that gave us the greatest soundtrack of all time (which featured the greatest album closing track of all time), the greatest Super Bowl Half Time show of all time, the greatest Chappelle’s Show skit of all time, and was the best part of the greatest Rock and Roll Hall of Fame all-star jam of all time. As he told us, there is something else after this, a world of never-ending happiness, and I am sure will be putting on massive concerts every night. I would say rest in peace, but Prince seemed happiest when entertaining people, so rock on Prince and thank you for some of the greatest music ever made.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 4/24/16

Once Upon a Time: When they said Dorothy did not have anyone to give her true love’s kiss, my first thought was, are they really going to turn red Riding Hood lesbian? But then I vaguely remember Mulan being into chicks, so maybe it would be her. For a fleeting moment I thought true love’ kiss would come from Toto, but no, they actually turned Red Riding Hood gay. Alrighty.
You can download Once Upon a Time on iTunes.

House of Lies: So did the cobra and lion fight or have sex? But they could have had a longer “previously on” segment because I barely remember who Steven Weber or that other guy talked to were. Then I completely forgot Clyde and the weird chick was still a thing.

Fear the Walking Dead: I am they guy who always thinks the people on these show should be more trusting and should be taking in as many people as they can to ward off the zombies, but even I would say no to taking in someone else’s kid. I may take kindness on an orphan but survivalist dad and grown son can take care of the two small children
You can download Fear the Walking Dead on iTunes.

Supergirl: This show is cheesy, and I am fine with that, but there is cheesy fun and eye rolling cheesy and Surpergirl being able to break the mind control with some speech about hope was eye rolling cheesy. But I did like that it did not work completely and Non still had the ability to explode every human’s skull even if they were no longer under his spell. Of course the big question was who, or what, was in pod at the end? I vote for Krpto.
You can download Supergirl on iTunes.

Gotham: So we actually learned who killed Bruce’s parents: Hugo Strange. Maybe it is because I have seen the Wayne’s die so many times in my life; the reveal was not the biggest reveal. The bigger Hugo Strange reveal of the week was he was finally able to resurrect someone and that someone was Theo Gallavan. Just how many more will he be able to resurrect before Jim is able to shut him down? I think we have seen bodies that liik like Fish and Jerome in those floating tanks.
You can download Gotham on iTunes.

Blindspot: Oh wow, what a great plan by Rich Dot Com. Get that guy his own spin off.
You can download Blindspot on iTunes.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Early in the series, Skye wad the clear weakest link in the acting department but over the seasons became more comfortable in the role. But goodness, evil Daisy was hard to watch. They need to cure her quick, or at the very least do what they did in those early episodes and have her jump in a swimming pool while wearing a red dress to distract from her acting.
You can download Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on iTunes.

The Path: So the cult may be a drug smuggling front, I guess that make the whole Peru trips make more sense. If true, the question is who knows? Will Eddie learn of the drugs when he gets to 7R? Is Cal one of the few because he is 10R? Are the drugs they get people off other drugs what they are smuggling or are they also smuggling other more conventional drugs. And I am starting to thinking the FBI guy might be buying into some of this. Mary’s story last week was convincing and itb is weird to open up about your real life problems while undercover.
You can stream The Path on Hulu.

Survivor: Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty II: When they introduced the SuperIdol I was a bit skeptical because someone only has two Idols at the same time about once every four seasons, and though it does not look like it will be used this season, the SuperIdol did play a huge part in the episode when Tai refused to Voltron his Idol with Jason’s to save Scot. We have had wild Tribal Councils but that was the first wild post vote Tribal with Hot Chick #3 imploring Tai to use his Idol to save himself, the two douchebags being over confident when Tai did not, then Scot gets the most votes, asks Tai for his Idol, and Tai was just like, “Nope.” And just when you think it could not get any better, in Scot’s goodbye at the end of the episode, he mentions he went home with Jason’s Idol in his pocket. Awesome. So Jason goes from thinking he has a clear path to the finale with an Idol in his pocket, his buddy has another that can form a SuperIdol and a mole in the other alliance to hiss only true ally getting voted out with his Idol in his pocket. I guess we are going to get more fires getting put out next week.
You can download Survivor: Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty II on iTunes.

The Americans: Leaving Martha along in a house with an old man and a cane was not the smartest idea the Russians ever had. So who is going to get to her first? Probably the Russians, but do not think she will be getting that trip to Moscow. Although that would have been a fun fish out of water story had Nina still be around to be Martha’s escort.
You can download The Americans on iTunes.

The Blacklist: Interesting the episode after they killed Lizzie (or so we are led to believe) with a very introspective episode with very little dialogue. And was the supposed to be Lizzie’s mother? With Red reenacting their first meeting? Or was she just a completely delusion?
You can download The Blacklist on iTunes.

Orphan Black: We did get some more Beth but they already got to the point where she steps in front of the train, or presumably the point where she left her apartment on the way to the train station. As much time they spent in the premiere, I thought we would get a full season of flashback. Back in present day, Sarah learns she has some biotech living in her check. Creepy. Just how many of the clones have that?
You can download Orphan Black on iTunes.

Vikings: So Ragnor was gone for “years” but looking at his eldest son’s hair, and his youngest sons who are now teenagers, it seems like he has been gone at least a decade. Which begs the questions just how long has it been since the first season. It seemed like they already jumped a decade when they first aged up the eldest son who went from pre-teen to twenty-something in between seasons. It has to be at least twenty-five years. And just where was Ragnor? I wonder if we will get flashbacks of his pilgrimage when the show returns.
You can download Vikings on iTunes.