Friday, June 08, 2018

Around the Tubes: 6/8/2018

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 The Challenge: Final Reckoning, Minding the Gap, QUEST, Ballet Now, Shameless, Kidding, BIG3, Roger Daltrey, Meg Myers, Alicia Witt, Mallrat, and The Fourth Estate.

- MTV today announced that The Challenge: Final Reckoning will premiere on Tuesday, July 10 at 9:00. Final Reckoning marks the conclusion of the series trilogy, which kicked off with XXX: Dirty 30 followed by Vendettas. The Challenge franchise is the #1 unscripted cable series on Tuesdays and is a top 10 unscripted property on all of cable (L3). The newest installation travels players to South Africa to face the consequences of their actions from the past two seasons. All of the recent betrayals, regrets and wrongdoings will rise to the surface as the competitors pair-off for their fiercest vendetta yet. Will they be able to put aside their issues, settle the score and work together to take home the $1 million prize?

- Hulu announced that the company has acquired the rights to Minding the Gap, a moving documentary from director Bing Liu about three young men who bond across racial lines to escape volatile families in their Rust Belt hometown. Ten years later, while facing adult responsibilities, unsettling revelations force them to reckon with their fathers, their mothers, and each other. The film will be released as a Hulu Documentary both theatrically across key markets in the US and on Hulu on August 17th.

- For his debut documentary, QUEST, director Jonathan Olshefski spent nearly a decade chronicling the daily triumphs and tragedies of the Raineys, a working class African-American family in North Philadelphia. The vérité film opens with a shot inside the family’s modest North Philly row home. PJ, who wants to follow in the musical footsteps of her Dad, is drumming on the windowsill. It’s election season in 2009 and while frying bacon for breakfast Mom Christine’a is telling the story of how someone in the neighborhood yelled out, “Vote for McCain!” “You know he didn’t say that around the polls,” she adds. Chris, on the phone with a friend, asks, “You vote for Obama? We know where you live at.” In the next scene, Chris is returning from the polls, and in another phone conversation he happily reports, “There was a line for the first time in umpteen years down here.” The acclaimed documentary feature film QUEST will have its national television debut on PBS series POV on June 18 at 10 PM opening the historic 31st Season of the longest-running independent documentary series on American television.

- Ballet Now will launch Friday, July 20, only on Hulu. Ballet Now provides a rarely seen, unfiltered glimpse into the world of ballet and what it takes to create a one-of-kind dance extravaganza. Featuring New York City Ballet’s Prima Ballerina Tiler Peck - the first ever woman to be asked to curate The Music Center’s famed BalletNOW program - and a diverse cast of world-class dancers from around the globe, the film follows Tiler as she tries to execute her groundbreaking vision of mashing together the worlds of tap, hip-hop, ballet and even clown artistry. With less than a week to pull it all off, Tiler faces the mounting pressures of not only dancing in multiple pieces, but also producing and directing this high profile event. The success of the performances rests squarely on her shoulders. Will she pull it off? Directed by Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-nominated filmmaker Steven Cantor, featuring New York City Principal Ballerina, Tiler Peck. Emmy Award-winning actress Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale, Mad Men) serves as Executive Producer.

- Showtime has announced its new fall comedy line-up with the ninth season of its hit series Shameless, starring Oscar® nominee and Emmy® and SAG Award® winner William H. Macy and Golden Globe® nominee Emmy Rossum, premiering on Sunday, September 9 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, followed by the series premiere of the new half-hour comedy series Kidding, starring Golden Globe® winner Jim Carrey in his first series regular role in more than two decades and reuniting him with Oscar winner Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), at 10 p.m. ET/PT. To watch and share the official trailer for Kidding, visit: For a special video announcement from the cast of Shameless, go to:

- FOX Sports exclusively presents BIG3, the highly anticipated professional 3-on-3, half-court basketball league founded by Ice Cube. The league's eight teams travel to 10 different cities including new stops at Houston, Oakland, Detroit, Miami, Toronto, Boston, and Atlanta. All stops will feature four back-to-back games on Friday evenings with star players including Amar’e Stoudemire, Baron Davis, Kenyon Martin, Stephen Jackson, Chauncey Billups, Metta World Peace, and Nate Robinson and legendary Hall of Fame coaches including Julius ‘Dr. J’ Erving, Gary Payton, Nancy Lieberman and George ‘The Iceman’ Gervin. Season two returns to FOX Sports on Friday, June 22 at 7:30 ET/4:30 PT.

- As Long As I Have You the critically acclaimed new album from legendary Who frontman Roger Daltrey is released today. During his career spanning five decade Daltrey has sold over 100 million records including 9 US & 10 UK top ten albums and 14 UK top ten singles. He’s played over well over 2000 gigs in a career spanning over 50 years including venues such as Woodstock, Monterey Pop, Glastonbury (twice), Hyde Park (four times), The Isle Of Wight (three times), Desert Trip, Shea Stadium, The Superbowl half time show and Live Aid to name but a very few.

- Meg Myers has released Take Me To The Disco, the haunting title track from her forthcoming album of the same name, out 7/20 on 300 Entertainment. The album opener is subtly arresting - a sweeping, ethereal song about feeling untethered and wanting to escape. Listen here.

- Accomplished Singer/Actress Alicia Witt announces 15,000 DAYS, her EP set for release on August 24. Billboard recently premiered Younger, the first single off the album. Witt reflects on the track, “When we are younger, when we are 17 or 18, we kind of know exactly who we are. I think I’m a much more similar person to that version of me now than I was a few years ago. So I wrote the song, thinking of how to appeal to that side in somebody else and to have that little child version of you connecting, and letting that be your authentic self, as you go out into the world as an adult.” Listen and purchase “Younger” here.

Having garnered attention from The New York Times and NPR, it’s quickly becoming apparent that 2018 is the Year of the Mallrat, with the release of her highly anticipated sophomore EP, "In The Sky" via Nettwerk Records. Her refreshingly honest observations of day-to-day life, her relatable and confessional lyrics, and her penchant for writing sticky melodies that you just can’t shake have all shaped 19 year old Grace Shaw into the kind of artist that is perfectly positioned to be Australia’s next big name in pop music.

- Turning to Charlottesville and its tragic aftermath, the next episode of the Showtime documentary series The Fourth Estate airs this Sunday, June 10 at 8:00 on Showtime.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Previewing Claws: Season Two

Claws was a pleasant surprise last summer with a decent mix of humor, action, and about one huge plot twist per episode. Seriously, do not ask me how Roller was able to survive being drowned, shot, set a fire, and being some weird od lady’s sex slave. But those elements did a good job at hiding some of its flaws like how Uncle Daddy goes way over the top every time he opens his mouth and maybe there was one too many plot twists. Sure, the funeral he arranged for Roller was great mostly because it was over the top but he could have toned it down in pretty much every other scene.

So the gist of the first season was Desna trying to get out from underneath the Dixie Mafia but ended the season under the thumb of the Russian mob. And if you thought the lady who was running the Russian mob last season was scary and ruthless, wait until you meet her family, notably Franka Potente (Run Lola Run) who wants to expand Desna’s opiate money laundering business and start a Magic Mike type review in South Florida. Oh yeah, and the season ended with Uncle Daddy buddying up to the Haitian mafia to battle the Russian mafia and the Haitian mafia just so happened to be run by Desna’s boyfriend.

And Desna is not the only one with problems, Desna’s autistic brother knocked up Virginia, Jennifer got caught hooking up with a rabbi, and it has not yet, but you know Polly banging the guy who runs the clinic will end badly. And things are set for a just as wild, or wilder in the seconds season. I am not sure what will make Desna go into a rage more, Virginia’s pregnancy or her boyfriend’s secret life (we do learn the answer to one of those pretty quickly and an annoyingly close call to the other). Then Potente just set everything aflame (literally in one scene) which just adds to the craziness. We even get a surprise marriage in the premiere (hint, it is not Virginia and Dean). The second season of Claws just may be wilder than the first.

Claws airs Sundays at 9:00 on TNT.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 6/3/2018

Patrick Melrose: Oh wow, Patrick has of his own now? He looks like he is trying very hard not to be his father but turns out he is damaging the kid in different ways than his father did. And I am surprised he did not get injured going to the liquor store.

Billions: I thought Axe finally (and probably wisely) upgraded from Lara, until I realized that he was playing Maria Sharapova. That would have been a massive upgrade. And I still am not entirely sure why Ben Kim did a strip tease in the elevator, I am just glad he did.

I’m Dying Up Here: Gee, Cassie really is trying for that second kid. Is she going to go back to Bill next episode? And just when is Ron going to get a comeuppance? Once you start burning money, it has to come pretty soon.

Supergirl: Mama El is still alive? What? And just what does the High Council chick know? Is she communicating with Reign on Earth or is that just a hologram like Kara’s mom she talks to? But how convenient for Alex that every assassination attempt had a lengthy delay? She was able to pick up a grenade and put it in some bomb resistant receptacle (seriously, what park has those?). Then the dude set her motorcycle explode except she had enough time to flee before that went off too.
You can download Supergirl on iTunes.

Lucifer: So the show filmed a couple episodes for season four after they were done with season three before going on break… except Fox decided to cancel the show anyway. Kind of weird to have a show on the bubble do that. I do wonder if the first episode was meant to be the season premiere because they did not touch on the cliffhanger at all. But if Ella’s imaginary friend was going to be a season plot point, I actually want to see that. It would be better than the Cain plot or Lucifer’s mom. But when they put Able in a quirky chick’s body, that only lasted one episode so maybe we would have not seen ReyRey again after this.

The Challenge: Champs vs. Stars II: What a silly way to split a tie. They should have said if you cannot agree, you would be sent into elimination. I would love to see who budged them. But at this point of the game, getting out the strong teams is the right strategy. They should target CT and Tony.
You can download The Challenge: Vendettas on iTunes.

The Handmaid’s Tale: There has been a lot of debate of if Hulu should follow the Netflix model and dump every episode at once or continue the television model of weekly episode. Last week is why it is right to do the television model because it is more impactful to have to wait a week to live with what the aftermath of the bombing meant (it has been months for me as that was the last screener I saw). If you could just press play for the next episode, then the explosion had little impact. Sure it was pretty obvious Waterford would survive but the big shocker from the fallout was that Rory Gilmore and One Eyed Offwillie were reinstated as Handmaids. And now we half to wait week to see what that all means which makes it more meaningful.
You can stream The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu.

The Americans: When the show started, it was weird watch because the protagonists were trying to bring down America. I figured the only way to have a satisfying ending would them being brought down or at the very least being flipped by the FBI. Neither of those happened because Philip and Elizabeth get to live happily ever after in Russia (or at the very least contently ever after). So I am a bit disappointed on that ending.

I did find it a bit weird Stan knew where Paige lived. Or did he call into the FBI to get that info? But how quick could they come up with that in the eighties? It was wise of him not to take a hard stand against them in the parking garage because he was out numbered. Though I was surprised he did not call it in later and feigned ignorance when his boss confirmed they were the spies. I kind of wished that was the climax with a five or so minute epilogue after that instead of another half an hour (without ads). As surprising as Stan letting them go was Paige staying. When she started talking about who would take care of Henry in her apartment, I thought she would make an argument of how she should, or just wanted to stay in America. So it was weird when she just left the train. But overall I guess it wasa show with watching.
You can download The Americans on iTunes.