Friday, January 05, 2018

Around the Tubes: 1/5/2018

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 COVER STORY: The Press Your Luck Scandal, The Coronation, The Alienist, and The Circus.

- Hulu, Amblin Television and Warner Bros. Animation today announced a new deal to create and premiere a brand-new version of the iconic family friendly cartoon franchise Animaniacs. Under the two-season straight-to-series order, Steven Spielberg will return as executive producer of the series, with Sam Register, President, Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Digital Series, and Amblin Television Co-Presidents Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank also serving as executive producers. The series marks the first Hulu Original made for families, and with the legacy of these beloved characters, is intended to provide a co-viewing opportunity and experience for families to enjoy together. New episodes are set to premiere on the premium streaming service in 2020.

- Game Show Network, the leader in game shows and competitive entertainment, announced today the premiere of its new documentary special, COVER STORY: The Press Your Luck Scandal, premiering Sunday, January 14 at 7:00. Additionally, the original scandalous Press Your Luck episodes featured in the special will air following the show at 8 and 8:30 pm ET. The COVER STORY special will explore the story of Michael Larson, an air conditioning repairman from Ohio who cracked the game board algorithm and walked away with over $110,000 in cash and prizes. There was a one-in-six chance that each spin he took would erase his winnings, but Larson managed to evade the dreaded Whammy and accumulate the record breaking amount. Audiences went wild, but game show producers wanted to know how he did it. Had he cheated? Or did he simply outsmart the smartest minds in Hollywood?

- In partnership with the BBC and Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Smithsonian Channel shares the compelling story of the Crown Jewels and the ancient ceremony for which they are used in The Coronation. On June 2, 1953, after 16 months of planning, The Queen set out from Buckingham Palace to be crowned at Westminster Abbey, in a ceremony that was watched by millions of people throughout the world. A ceremony dating back more than a thousand years was to herald the dawn of a new Elizabethan age. As part of the film, to mark the 65th anniversary of Her Majesty The Queen's Coronation, The Queen shares memories of the ceremony, as well as that of her father King George VI in 1937. The special airs in the U.S. exclusively on Smithsonian Channel on January 14 at 8:00.

- The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills will take visitors inside the opulent Gilded Age of the new TNT series, The Alienist, through multiple costume creations, photography, illustrations, and more from award-winning costume designer Michael Kaplan, the visionary behind the Star Wars sequel trilogy, Blade Runner, Fight Club and Flashdance.
Visitors will have the exclusive opportunity to preview the series’ costumes and other artifacts before its TNT debut on January 22. An unflinching psychological thriller amidst the underbelly of New York City’s “Gilded Age,” The Alienist follows Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Brühl, Rush), a brilliant and obsessive “Alienist” in the controversial new field of treating mental pathologies, who holds the key to hunting down a never-before-seen ritualistic killer murdering young boys. Based on the award-winning, fan-favorite novel by Caleb Carr, with standout performances from Luke Evans (The Girl on the Train) and Dakota Fanning (American Pastoral), The Alienist is a gripping, turn-of-the-century murder mystery like none other: the story of the emergence of the world’s most powerful city that will stop at nothing to bury its darkest secrets.

- Showtime has ordered a third season of the groundbreaking political documentary series The Circus, returning on April 15 at 8:00 on Showtime, with a run of new episodes to air in the spring and another in the fall. Hosted by John Heilemann (NBC/MSNBC, Game Change,), Mark McKinnon, and Alex Wagner (CBS News and The Atlantic), who joins the show as a permanent host this season, The Circus will continue to provide viewers with the same fast-paced, real-time, backstage perspective and eye-catching production qualities for which the show has been celebrated. In the year ahead, the series will explore the stories behind the headlines and pull back the curtain on the behind-the-scenes drama unfolding in Washington and across the country in the run-up to the most consequential mid-term elections in our lifetimes.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Previewing The Chi

The Chi opens with a teenager strolling through his neighborhood and night until he happens upon a dead body. If I ever came across a dead body I like to think I would instantly calling the police but honestly, fleeing in terror is not completely off the table. But Coogie stares at the lifeless body before taking off its chain and sneaker and only flees when her hears sirens in the distance. Then he stashes his stolen goods before trying to blend into a crowd.

Of course I am just an old white guy from the suburbs and only read about the troubling times in Chicago. Despite all the statistics that come out of Chicago, life still goes on for the people surviving and trying not to become a statistic. The Chi follows four black males at various stage of life with nothing to tie them together aside from tangential relationship to that dead body that opens the show.

Kevin is in middle school and still has to deal with something all pre-teens obsess over: girls and grades. Granted these kids curse more in one scene than me and my friends did in all of middle school. Emmitt is a teenager with actual girl problems; one shows up with a baby she claims is his and bolts. Brandon, Coogie’s older brother, is a line chef on the nicer side of town with dreams of his restaurant and setting down with his real estate girlfriend but the city keeps pulling him back in. Then there is Ronnie, middle aged, who always seems to find a way to get by.

Each of the four have their own circle of acquaintances and rarely run into each other, but when they do, you know something important is happening and the show rarely falling into the problem where characters rarely runs into each other feels annoying. A fifth somewhat major character shows up in episode with an unknown agenda that also seems to tie into that original murder. There is also detective doing an official investigation and seems to be a stand-up guy even though none of the other characters trust the police. And maybe for good reason because there seems to be some of his co-workers have some shady objectives.

The Chi is a refreshing look at storytelling done much better than other shows that tried to tell stories by marginally related characters. Sure it can be frustrating at times as I sometimes ask, why not just go to the police (which may not be totally a race thing, I found myself saying the same thing to the dumb white girls on Pretty Little Liars). And the storytelling gets too cute at times too. The third episode ends in an annoying cliffhanger and then the fourth episode starts minutes later, missing the climax of the cliffhanger. And it is not until the end of the episode when you learn what exactly when down. But still, The Chi is the strongest start to a Showtime in a long time.

The Chi airs Sundays at 10:00 on Showtime.

Monday, January 01, 2018

The 10 Most Anticipated Moments of 2018

Before I get into the best things to look forward to in the next twelve months, let me highlight a few things not on my list. First off, there is the World Cup which will not be featuring the United States of America on account they failed to qualify this year. Then there is Marvel’s New Warriors that was supposed to debut on Freeform this year except they passed on the show. We may still get to see the show this year as Marvel is still shopping it around. Um, now that Disney who own Marvel and pretty much owns Hulu, after purchasing Fox’s shares, totaling sixty percent, seems like a good spot to me. They already have Marvel’s Runaway. Really, I just want to see the AT&T Girl and Squirrel Girl sooner than later.

Another possible event this year I have zero interest in is the potential reboot of the XFL. Recently Vince McMahon sold off a bunch of WWE stock and is reportedly going to use that money to get his failed football league up and running again. Hard pass. I, like much of America, watched the first game, laughed, and stopped after that. Why someone would think it could work a decade and a half later has to be senile. Sure some people have lost interest in the NFL, and I am one of them but my disinterest is in not wanting to watch people get brain damage anymore, a presumably more violent XFL is not going to help that.

10. Wako (January 22 on the Paramount Channel) – Poor Tim Riggins, he was pegged to be the breakout star from Friday Night Lights but followed the show up with being the lead in two historic bombs (and that does not include X-Men Origins: Wolverine where he was not asked back to be Gambit in future films). This will be his first major lead role since. Notorious Nineties nostalgia was big last year with OJ, the Menendez Brothers and Tonya Harding getting stories on the big and small screens, and now Riggins is playing cult leader David Koresh. Then there is also Michael Shannon as one of the Feds and Melissa Benoist as one of the cultist (yes Zod and Supergirl on the same show). Now I am sure your first question is, what the fork is the Paramount Channel? Now it is not a new streaming service, it is not really even a new cable channel, it was Spike, and before that Spike TV, and before that The New TNN, and before that The National Network, and before that The Nashville Network, which I believe was the last time I watched the cannel back when it aired Dukes of Hazard reruns.

9. Game Night (February 23) – Really any cast that boasts Rachel McAdams, George Bluth, and a Friday Night Lights reunion of Coach Taylor and Landry Clarke is must see in my book. But the trailer makes the movie look forking hilarious. From the trailer, it looks like an action comedy where a group of couples are brought together to solve a murder mystery, except the host gets captured for real (maybe), but everyone still thinks it is part of the game. Awesome.

8. Ruins - First Aid Kit (January 19) – Folk rock may be my favorite genre of the decade and First Aid Kit has had a few songs that have made my year end lists, but It’s a Shame released last year is by far my favorite from the band so far. Hopefully the album lives up to the single.

7. Titans (TBD) – Okay, we need a new streaming service like we need a hole in the head, but it seems like every content maker is going to have their own standalone service rather than selling it elsewhere. It started last year with CBS All Access. Next DC is starting their own. And Disney has one slated for 2018. But the DC streaming service will at least get me to do a free trial just to check out Titans whom are apparently not going to be teenagers (at least not most of them). But most importantly, Lyla Garrity was cast in a supporting role with potential for her own spin off. No word on when this will air or when the DC streaming service even starts, but the only other show announced, a Young Justice reboot, does have a vague release date of "Fall 2018".

6. Golden Hour - Kacey Musgraves (TBD) / Untitled Vampire Weekend Album – Kacey Musgraves released one of my favorite debut albums of the decade and my favorite country album in over a decade. There was a sophomore slump for the follow up but I am still looking forward to it. In other Musgraves news, lead singer Ezra Koenig said the next Vampire Weekend album is inspired by the country singer which made me that much more interested in a new album by the alt-rock band.

5. Women’s Royal Rumble (January 28) – I watched wrestling as a kid and then again in college, but again fell off slightly after that. Do not ask me why, but I started listening to the Grantland wrestling podcast, probably because I listened to them all. And when David Shoemaker bolted with Bill Simmons to the Ringer, I ended listening to two wrestling podcast. I did start tangentially following sports entertainment because of it. Then last year Alexa Bliss and I became instantly interested in the Women’s Division as she quickly became the second best bad guy ever (after the late great Rowdy Roddy Piper).

Growing up, women were just arm candy for the men. They started wrestling again in the nineties, but it was not much better as they just hired fitness models and actual models; Trish Status actually was the head of a team called T and A. WWE tried to legitimate them with the Women’s Revaluation, even retiring the Diva’s Title in 2015, but it was just the same three factions of three wrestling the same matches over and over again. But with the brand split, the two main shows need more bodies and Bliss was one of the call up.

After Survivor Series, the WWE called up five more women (along with the returning Paige) and now we are getting an all-female Royal Rumble, which was always my favorite match since WWE started it back in 1988. It is vague on the rules. The men’s is a thirty men over the top rope competition where a new competitor comes down to the ring ever two(ish) minutes with the winner getting a title match at Wrestlemania. The title match is the only stipulation. Currently right now, there are only eleven women on both Raw and Smackdown (but that is including Lana who has not wrestled in months and Nikki Bella who has not been seen since Wrestlemania). And wo of them are currently champions who are typically in the Royal Rumble. But there are ten women currently in NXT which brings you to 29 non champions’ women employed by the WWE. Of course the Royal Rumble is known for its surprise returns, you have to imagine, there are plenty of retired wrestlers who would like to be in a Rumble, and a few shocking debuts (Ronda Rosey has been teasing her involvement in the WWE for years). I may actually have to take the WWE up on their free trial to watch history.

4. More Marvel Movies (Various dates) – We are getting our fair share of Marvel movies this year but what makes things more interesting is Disney recently announced they are buying 20th Century Fox movie studios which means Disney now owns all things Marvel including X-Men and Fantastic Four (well Sony still technically owns the rights to Spider-Man but he has shown up in a couple Marvel movies after the last film reboot failed). Could those universes collide this year? Doubtful they will be included in the already bloated Infinity War, but maybe they add something to the end credit scene to tease their inclusion in Phase Four (which comes after the next Avengers movie next year). Here is the rundown of all eight (!) movies based on Marvel properties: Black Panther (February, 16), The New Mutants (April 13), Avengers: Infinity War (May 4), Deadpool 2 (July 1), Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 6), Venom (October 5), X-Men: Dark Phoenix (November 2), Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (December 14; note this is an animated movie that does not seemed to be tied to any live action universe). Oh yeah, they also have new television show Cloak and Dagger coming to Freeform sometime this year too while Runaways has its season finale next week and, again, there is a chance New Warriors finds a home this year.

3. Rise (March 12 on NBC) – They had me at from the producer of Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, but throw in a producer of Hamilton, a live action Moana, and, welcome back Marley Shelton. It seemed like she was the next big thing at the turn of the century but other than Sin City, it is hard to think of anything she has done since Sugar and Spice. I think there was a one and done Lifetime show.

2. The XXIII Olympic Winter Games (February 9) – It is the end of an era as for the first time since 1988, an Olympic Games will not be hosted in prime time by Bob Costas (unless you count when he came down with pink eye at the last winter event). Instead Mike Tirico will oversee the proceedings after being ESPN’s/ABC’s lead host. Ironically also absent these games will be the last Winter host Russia who was ban after state sponsored doping scandal (Russians not tested positive can participate under an independent flag). Also not taking the trip to South Korea will be NHL players who will not participate for the first time since 1998. But hey, it will be the only time in four years we get to watch curling on television and Costas may be gone but I am sure Mary Carillo, who only seems to pop up during Olympics, will have a special interest story or two.

1. Black Manta (in Aquaman, December 21) – I audibly laughed when I heard DC was making a live action Aquaman movie. Aquaman is lame and always has been (with the lone exception of the over the top version from Batman: The Brave and the Bold). The green and orange color palette is hard to look at. But then I got actually kind of excited because that meant we might get a Black Manta, my personal favorite supervillain, sighting. As some who grew up with a heavy dose of the Super Friends, I gravitated to the villain in the Legion of Doom who would beat the crap out of Aquaman. The problem is that Ocean Master was first announced as the film’s antagonist. But it was later announced Black Manta would also be in the film.

Of course Black Manta could play a bigger role moving forward… if there is a DC movie universe. Aquaman could be a make or break point. All the movies sans Wonder Woman have been received as mediocre at best while Justice League bombed at the box office. Then nothing after Aquaman has even started filming (yes, there are eight Marvel movies this year but only one DC movie) even though thirteen other films have been formally announced, If Aquaman under performs, that could be the end of the DC Movie Universe (for now at least). But if they do move forward, my sources tell me that Justice League teased the Legion of Doom while a Flashpoint movie is also on the DC docket and Black Manta is featured in the comic version of that. Plus Flashpoint could serve as a hard reboot to get rid of everything that has not worked (Batfleck, sullen Superman, Leto's Joker). But again, if Aquaman fails, we may just get Wonder Woman throughout history films for the next decade until DC can figure things out.

Since tonight marks the return of television (seriously, too soon networks, can we have more than a week and a half break?), here is what I will be watching while trying to avoid going outside in the cold. Seriously, I saw a few negative lows this week.

8:00 – Lucifer (January 1, FOX)
8:00 - Supergirl (January 15, The CW)
9:00 – The Gifted (January 1, FOX)
9:00 – The Alienist (January 22, TNT)
10:00 – Good Girls (February 26, NBC)

8:00 – The Middle (January 2, ABC)
8:00 – Shadowhunters (April 3, Freeform)
9:00 – Black’ish (January 2, ABC)
9:00 – Rise (March 13, NBC; first week at 10:00)
9:30 – The Mayor (January 9, ABC)
10:00 – The Challenge: Vendettas (January 2, MTV)
10:00 – Kevin (Probably) Saves the World (January, 2)
10:30 – The Detour (January 23, TBS)

The Path (January 17, Hulu)
Hard Sun (March 7, Hulu)
8:00 – The Librarians (Already Started, TNT)
8:00 - The X-Files (January 3, Fox)
8:00 – The Blacklist (January 3, NBC)
8:00 – The Goldbergs (January 3, ABC)
8:00 – Grown-ish (January 3, Freeform)
8:00 – Survivor (February 28, CBS)
8:00 – Modern Family (January 3)
10:00 – Waco (Paramount Network, January 24)


8:00 – Superstore (January 4, NBC)
8:00 – The Big Bang Theory (January 4, CBS)
8:30 – The Good Place (January 4, NBC)
9:00 – Nashville (January 4, CMT)
9:30 – Great News (January 4, NBC)

8:00 – Blindspot (January 12, NBC)
8:00 – XXIII Olympics Winter Games Opening Ceremony (February 9, NBC)
8:00 - Once Upon a Time (Match 2, ABC)
9:00 – Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (January 5, ABC)

9:00 – Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars (February 10, Showtime)

The Looming Tower (February 18, Hulu)
8:00 – Jesus Christ Superstar Live! (April 1, NBC)
9:00 – Homeland (February 11, Showtime)
10:00 - The Chi (January 7, Showtime)

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The 100 Best Songs of 2017

1. Bad Liar - Selena Gomez

2. Better Man - Little Big Town

3. Every Little Thing - Carly Pearce

4. Dog Years - Maggie Rogers

5. Sugar and Salt - Jillian Jacqueline

6. Want You Back - HAIM

7. The Fighter - Keith Urban featuring Carrie Underwood

8. Either Way - Chris Stapleton

9. It's a Shame - First Aid Kit

10. OMG - Vic Mensa featuring Pusha-T

11. Only Songs - The Wild Reeds

12. HUMBLE. - Kendrick Lamar

13. Alaska - Maggie Rogers

14. Perfect Places - Lorde

15. Dis Generation - A Tribe Called Quest

16. Chase Me - Danger Mouse feat. Run The Jewels and Big Boi

17. We Should Be Friends - Miranda Lambert

18. It Ain't Me - Kygo and Selena Gomez

19. Trainwreck - Banks

20. Back To the River - The Pretty Reckless featuring Warren Haynes

21. Sorry Not Sorry - Demi Lovato

22. Near To The Wild Heart Of Life - Japandroids

23. Undertow - Lisa Hannigan

24. Stuck - The Aces

25. Love - Lana Del Rey

26. Ain't Got It Like That - Earl St. Clair featuring PJ

27. Sway - Danielle Bradbery

28. Moonshine - Foy Vance featuring Kacey Musgraves

29. Selfish Love - Jessie Ware

30. Golden Dandelions - Barns Courtney

31. Feel It Still - Portugal. The Man

32. Midnight - Jessie Ware

33. Forgetting All About You - Phoebe Ryan featuring blackbear

34. Hate Me - Jillian Jacqueline

35. Little of Your Love - HAIM

36. Tin Man - Miranda Lambert

37. Hope the High Road - Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

38. 2 Lovin U - DJ Premier and Miguel

39. Reasons - Jillian Jacqueline

40. I Feel It Coming - The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk

41. Revolution - Van William featuring First Aid Kit

42. Safari Song - Greta Van Fleet

43. Bleachers - Jillian Jacqueline

44. May I Have This Dance (Remix) - Francis and the Lights featuring Chance the Rapper

45. Don't Believe - Slow Dancer

46. High Ticket Attractions - The New Pornographers

47. Alone - Jessie Ware

48. My Mind Is For Sale - Jack Johnson

49. 1 Night - Mura Masa featuring Charli XCX

50. Low Blows - Meg Mac

51. Green Light - Lorde

52. Do I Have to Talk You Into It - Spoon

53. Told You So - Paramore

54. HARD LOVE - NEEDTOBREATHE featuring Andra Day

55. Across the Room - ODESZA featuring Leon Bridges

56. Nothing Without You - Emma Blackery

57. Don't Love Me - Janine

58. Canyon - Joseph

59. Money - The New Respects

60. Hard Times - Paramore

61. Same Drugs - Chance the Rapper

62. He's Fine - The Secret Sisters

63. Physical - The Aces

64. So Tied Up - Cold War Kids featuring Bishop Briggs

65. Keep It Between the Lines - Sturgill Simpson

66. Shape of You - Ed Sheeran

67. Heavy - LINKIN PARK featuring Kiiara

68. California Numb - CLOVES

69. Up All Night - Beck

70. Can We Hang On? - Cold War Kids

71. Perfect - Ed Sheeran

72. Stand by My Girl - Dan Auerbach

73. Down Side of Me (Live) - CHVRCHES

74. Fake Happy - Paramore

75. Hot Thoughts - Spoon

76. Dear Life - Beck

77. Hungry Ghost - Hurray for the Riff Raff

78. The Blackout - U2

79. Hopeless Romantic - Michelle Branch

80. Time's Always Leaving - The Lone Bellow

81. Big Picture - London Grammar

82. Thunder - Imagine Dragons

83. Two High - Moon Taxi

84. Baby Who - The Aces

85. The Gold - Manchester Orchestra

86. Don't Look Back - Dia Frampton

87. On + Off - Maggie Rogers

88. Best You Ever - Michelle Branch

89. Hurt Somebody - Noah Kahan

90. The Sky Is a Neighborhood - Foo Fighters

91. Hard to Love - Kacy Hill

92. Holier Than Thou - Jillian Jacqueline

93. Waiting on a Song - Dan Auerbach

94. Maybe It's My First Time - Meg Mac

95. No Diggity - Alice Jemima

96. Right Now - HAIM

97. Shine on Me - Dan Auerbach

98. Run for Cover - The Killers

99. No Good At All - Lucy Rose

100. Split Stones - Maggie Rogers