Saturday, October 19, 2019

Around the Tubes: October 19, 2019

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 Dollface, Lord Huron, Hero The Band, Keb’ Mo’, Evie Irie, KIANA LEDÉ, Great Performances, Celeste Barber: Challenge Accepted, Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber, In Concert With CMS, Britain in Color, and A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish

- Kat Dennings stars as a young woman who, after being dumped by her longtime boyfriend, must deal with her own imagination when she literally and metaphorically re-enters the world of women, in order to rekindle the female friendships she left behind. The series also stars Brenda Song, Shay Mitchell, and Esther Povitsky. All episodes of Dollface will be on Hulu November 15.

- Having just wrapped up an 18-month tour in support of their album Vide Noir in Calgary, AB last week, Lord Huron and director Ariel Vida have announced today they are further exploring the world of Vide Noir with a feature-length film of the same name. By no means a mere visual album, Vide Noir is a neo-noir mystery film set in late-Sixties Los Angeles, chronicling a surreal, nocturnal journey through the lens of a space-and-time-bending drug. The film was directed by Ariel Vida and written by Lord Huron’s Ben Schneider, and features a score by the band with new arrangements of their music throughout. Lead by newcomer Victor Mascitelli and NOS4A2 and The Goldfinch star Ashleigh Cummings, the film will be released in early 2020 and serve as both a stand-alone exploration of and the final chapter in the story of Lord Huron’s Vide Noir.

- Decateur, GA’s very own Hero The Band reveal their new EP Back To Myself today via LAVA Records/Republic Records—listen HERE! The EP features title-track “Back To Myself” released earlier this summer, as well as new single “Trouble In My Mind” alongside four new songs. See the full tracklist below.

- With an iconic career spanning over a quarter of a century, four-time GRAMMY Award-winning contemporary blues and Americana artist, Keb’ Mo’ has released his first-ever holiday album, Moonlight, Mistletoe & You, via Concord Records. The 10-track album, produced by Keb’ himself and recorded by Zach Allen at Stu Stu Studio in Franklin, TN, is now available here.

- Sixteen-year-old Sydney-born singer/songwriter Evie Irie releases the official music video for “The Optimist” today. Watch HERE.

- Averaging 3 million monthly listeners on Spotify, breakthrough R&B starlet and one of 2019’s fastest rising artists, KIANA LEDÉ returns with a brand new single entitled “Easy Breezy” today. Get it HERE via Republic Records.

- Sam Moore and Dave Prater – the groundbreaking duo, Sam & Dave, who brought their gospel roots to Soul music, were one of the primary chart stars at the Stax and Atlantic labels in the '60s. Bringing the passion of call and response to their wailing soul side, the duo were honored by The Recording Academy™ as one of the recipients of the Special Merit Awards, The Lifetime Achievement Award in May in Los Angeles. As previously announced, in collaboration with PBS' Great Performances series, the Recording Academy™ presents "GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends ®," the fourth annual all-star concert offering a prime-time spotlight for the Academy's 2019 Special Merit Awards recipients. Recorded at the Dolby Theatre, the event premieres nationwide Friday, Oct. 18 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), and the PBS Video app.

- Celeste Barber comes to Showtime for her first network comedy special, Celeste Barber: Challenge Accepted, premiering Friday, November 1 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. In the hour-long special filmed at the Gramercy Theatre in New York City, Barber, hailed by Vogue Australia as “The Funniest Woman on Instagram,” exposes the stories behind some of her most famous Instagram celebrity parody images, her new relationships with famous people, the pitfalls of being married to someone so much hotter than her and what it’s like to be an Anti-Influencer.

- Showtime has announced the development of a new untitled limited series based on the bestselling book Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber, written by Mike Isaac. Brian Koppelman and David Levien (BILLIONS) will executive produce and write the series, as part of their overall deal with SHOWTIME. Isaac will co-executive produce the project. The limited series will be produced by Showtime. The announcement was made today by Gary Levine and Jana Winograde, Presidents of Entertainment, Showtime Networks Inc. Pivoting on Travis Kalanick, Uber’s hard-charging CEO who was ultimately ousted in a boardroom coup, the Showtime limited series will depict the roller-coaster ride of the upstart transportation company, embodying the highs and lows of Silicon Valley. Even amid the radical upheaval generated within the global tech capital, Uber stands out as both a marvel and a cautionary tale, featuring internal and external battles that ripple with unpredictable consequences.

- ALL ARTS is happy to announce a new weekly series titled In Concert With CMS that will premiere this Sunday, October 20 and air weekly on the ALL ARTS broadcast channel and be available to stream on the ALL ARTS app and website. The series was created in partnership with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, in celebration of its 50th anniversary season.

- This November, Smithsonian Channel will transform decades of black and white, bringing figures like Winston Churchill, Queen Victoria and Frank Sinatra – and events like the Hindenburg disaster – into the full-color world they lived. The network today announced the season three premiere of the critically lauded and audience-beloved series America in Color, as well as the launch of a new series, Britain in Color. Deeply researched to ensure accurate colorization, the six new episodes of America in Color explore rich themes that still resonate today, from the changing roles of the American worker to immigration and the enduring values of small-town America. The three-episode season of Britain in Color brings to life the full glory of the British Empire and the royal family as well as the iconic Prime Minister. America in Color returns on Sunday, November 17 at 8 p.m. ET/PT, and the season premiere will be available to stream on the network’s YouTube page beginning Sunday, November 10. Britain in Color premieres on November 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

- Break out the mistletoe and holly. The day is here - and it feels just like Christmas morning. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is excited to bring you the music and the magic of the holidays with the release of A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish – Available NOW on Digital, and on Blu-ray and DVD on October 29. Check out this exclusive clip from the film that will get you excited to relive the timeless tale of Cinderella with a modern-day, holiday twist! Iconic to the characters, the clip reveals Kat’s step-family making her feel unwanted, in true Cinderella fashion!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Previewing Looking for Alaska

The cast of looking for Alaska

Aww nostalgia, when we sit and reminisce about the good old days by blocking from our minds of all the horrible things that happen in our youth and just focus on the pop culture we loved. And I am all for the nineties nostalgia that is in full swing right now which I believe was started when Anna Kendrick reminded us how great a song No Diggity was (then in the second Pitch Perfect featured an entire 90’s Hip-Hop Jamz category during the Riff-Off). Since then Dave Matthews Band were an integral part of a critically acclaimed movie, a Lauryn Hill sample topped the Billboard charts, Friends is the most popular show on Netflix, Wonderwall has been on Spotify’s most streamed for eighty percent of the last year, most of the Roseanne cast is back on television while The X-Files and Twin Peaks saw new seasons recently, Hootie and the Blowfish has reunited and is touring with Barenaked Ladies.

But Hulu is really trying to start a 00’s nostalgia trend. Earlier this year they rebooted Veronica Mars and now they are launching a new series set a year after Veronica Mars launched on something called UPN. But now that I think about it, now that the nineties nostalgia is bringing back Beverly Hills 90210 and Billy Ray Cyrus has the biggest song of the year with a gay country rapper who samples Nine inch Nails and Nirvana while taking his name from one of the greatest rappers of the nineties, maybe it is time to start a 00’s nostalgia trend.

In 2005, a Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage were two years from essentially launching The CW as we now know it with Gossip Girl and now they are back together for another take on a literary work, Looking for Alaska based that year. And their new show looks like something that could have also fit in during those early days of the young network. Well, if The CW had a much bigger budget, better casting agent, and more money for bigger and better songs. After a teaser of what is to come, the show essentially opens with All These Things I’ve Done. What a great song, I am warming up to the 00’s nostalgia. There is also a bizarre Milkshake cover I did not even realize it was the song until it was over. They do seem to bounce between originals and modern covers from the era on this show mostly for the better.

In a measure of full disclosure, I have not read the John Green the book Looking for Alaska is based on or any of his books, or seen The Fault in Our Stars or Paper Town, the two movies that were based on his other books (a third is coming to a Hulu competitor later this year). I did scroll the non-spoilery parts of the Wikipedia page and was surprised how many accusations of pornography were leveled at the book as the show is something that could have very well aired on The CW aside from a couple naughty words and bizarrely an incident with a tube of toothpaste, but even then the camera cuts away really quick before becoming too graphic. In fact there is a scene in the first episode where a guy is told “You can let go now” which is very much like a PG-13 version, new millennium version of “You can blink now.” And since both Green and Swartz (who wrote the first episode) are my around my age, I am convinced whichever of those two wrote the line was influenced by Doc Hollywood.

Looking for Alaska stars Charlie Plummer (Boardwalk Empire) who plays the kind of kid who back in 2005 has no one but his parents show up to his birthday party, probably knowing copious amounts of famous last words is the greatest conversation starter. So he convinces his parents to send him to a boarding school in Alabama (though it took me about half the first episode thinking this was a summer camp). And wouldn’t you know it, he is able find plenty of friends there. There is Denny Love (Empire), his roommate that introduces himself as “The Coronal” (and dubs the new guy Pudge because… irony?), and his buddy Jay Lee (American Vandal). Dude even manages to catch the eye of a recent Romanian immigrant Sofia Vassilieva (My Sister’s Keeper). The Coronal also has a girlfriend played by Landy Bender (who I was surprisinged to learm she is played by the fowl-mount little girl with too much make-up in the criminally forgotten Jonah Hill comedy The Sitter) but I never quite understood that relationship. Oh yeah, and then there is Alaska.

Kristine Froseth plays the titular character. The only thing I had seen her in previous was The Society where she was pretty forgettable. Granted everyone on that show was pretty forgettable. It took me about four or five episodes to realize there were two douchebags with perfectly coifed hair. Then there were three or four brunette chicks that just blended together too. But as Alaska, Froseth is enigmatic; you can tell why clerk would sell her beer with a crappy ID or why Plummer would be so obsessed with her even though he can easily hook up with a cute Romanian.

There also two adults in the show both expertly played when they could have easily come off as clichés. Timothy Simons (Draft Day) plays the Dean of Students but manages to not come off as the completely buffoon who returns to the school he once attended nor an evil authoritarian, but plays the role with the right amount of strictness and empathy. Ron Cephas Jones (Mr. Robot) is the one lunged theology teacher who the perfect people to be around the end of the series.

Not knowing much about the show with a pretty unknown cast based on a book whose author I have never read but base his work, basically only wrote The Fault in Our Stars as a sad sack kids dying in love story based on the trailer. But Looking for Alaska is a witty coming of age story with an abundant amount of pranks between Plummer and the Weekday Warriors (basically the rich kids who go home to their big houses on the weekend) with a homicidal swan terrorizing anyone who comes near him. Looking for Alaska is a fun show about young love and school pranks… until it isn’t.

It is not a spoiler to say something bad ends up happening; the show starts off with a car crash and though the first few episodes are mostly light and low stakes as the pranks get more elaborate, there is a slow creeping dread that seeps into the show thanks to the place card at the end of each episodes that tells the number of days before… presumably the car crash. This ramps into top gear when “1 day before” starts an episode and then ends with one of the main character driving away angry. The next episode starts off with someone saying, “Something terrible has happened” and minutes later we see the place card that simply says, “After.”

Had they adapted the book when it came out, it likely would have been a movie. Thankfully the rights languished in development hell for a decade and a half, long enough for the proliferation of television outlets, some that are not afraid of shows that will not run for two-hundred episodes. So instead of a two hour movie, an hour dedicated “Before” an hour dedicated “After,” Looking for Alaska gets to sprawl to almost eight hours letting up live with characters, and the show is much better for it. Looking for Alaska is an expertly crafted show that touches on every bit of emotion you could possibly want from a television show. If you do cry sometime “After” (or three) or laugh hysterically during the one final prank, I worry for your soul.

If I have one complaint is that Looking for Alaska is only a limited series with these eight episodes being all the time we get with these characters. Had this gone multiple seasons (and the “After” does not happen until late in the run), Looking for Alaska could have gone down a one of the great high school dramas. I actually would not mind if Hulu pulls a The Handmaid’s Tale and go past the book (with one big retcon preferably). Instead it will just have to go down as one of the best limited series in the history of television.

All episode of Looking for Alaska are on Hulu today.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

57 Channels and Only This Is On: October 13, 2019

Supergirl: Somehow it seems like Brainiac 5 got more annoying in between seasons. But anyway. I seems like the show is going to just rip off the most recent season of Young Justice with people being brainwashed with VR. And did Lena already get brainwashed? It seems weird how upset she was that Kara did not tell her about Supergirl, Kara finally tells her, pulls the story about at the last minute, but then still seems mad? Huh? And did Lena send the new owner another story or just nothing at all? If Lena always keeps her promises, and then reneges to the new owner, she is just doing what Kara did to her.
You can download Supergirl on iTunes.

The Walking Dead: So were are just under a decade into the apocalypse and a Russian satellite is just now falling to earth? Not bad craftsmanship. Other than that, kind of a boring premiere.

The Affair: Gee, Whitney is getting married and yet, we get to see the set-up from Noah’s point of view even though the only thing he did without her was get poison ivy and visit an empty house. Though as we see future Joanie, I have been wondering what her relationship to the Soloway’s is and here we at least see Noah try to see her. And as we have seen very different versions of the same events, we actually her two people talk about one of them, Whitney says her mother save her sister while Noah thought it was Alison. But that was the very first episode and I vaguely remember it happened let alone what Noah and Alison’s versions played it out. Then we got a definitive answer of what happened to Alison, her boyfriend did kill her. Admits it to but then claims she is crazy… should have taken him up on the whole killing him offer.

Mr. Robot: Last season during the one shot episode, I felt this building dread that Angela was not going to make it out of the building. Once she did, I thought it would be smooth sailing for her especially after turning out to be the powerful dude’s daughter… and then she gets her brains blown out first thing in the last season. But what a weird scene, for a while I thought that was still part of the “Previously On” because I vaguely remember old dude telling Angela she was his daughter in a place like that but then the scene just kept going making me realize a minute later, oh, this is new.

But is Angela really dead? Eliot is not the best narrator. We have seen him shot in the head before during the season where he had been in prison without telling us for almost half the season. Darlene did see her, sure in a coked up haze. Or maybe she is dead-dead but she pops up in Darlene’s head much like Eliot sees Mr. Robot. Then there is a way she comes back in the way White Rose promised Angela that she could see her mother ago with the machine she was building. Either way (or even the fourth way where she is dead-dead and we never see her again), I am kind of dreading the finial season the way I dreaded the final season of Game of Thrones)
You can download Mr. Robot: on iTunes.

Wu-Tang: An American Saga: Thankfully they put the real music video in the end credits to save me a trip to YouTube afterward. Goodness that was bad, I cannot imagine a Denise Williams sample would have made it much better. Having that song flop may have been the best thing that could have happened to RZA. Also, kudos, to the description maker of the episode that simply read, “Industry Rule #4080…” To the kiddies unaware, that is a line from A Tribe Called Quest which finishes, “record people are shady.”
You can watch Wu-Tang: An American Saga on Hulu.

Survivor: Island of Idols: I am not sure what was dumber, the girl alliance who got rid of Vince who was a solid number for them or Vince not using his Idol even though it was only good for two weeks. Probably Vince because he just followed countless others who think playing their Idol is a sign of weakness. But everyone thinks you have an Idol because you went to the mysterious Island of Idols, you can only play it twice (and who knows if you are going back the next week), you play it just in case people are trying to flush it.

But the women were pretty dumb to. In modern Survivor, voting to keep your Tribe physically strong is dumb. One, puzzles are the great equalizer now. Two, you are three weeks in, there is a swap coming soon, maybe next week. You have to think to yourself, who would I rather be swapped with, Vince, or one of the other three dudes you are wary of?
You can download Survivor: Island of the Idols on iTunes.

The Challenge: War of the Worlds 2: Good riddance Bear, please never come back.
You can download The Challenge: War of the Worlds 2 on iTunes.

Almost Family: Thankfully that found a much better shade of red for Brittany Snow this week. And I laughed pretty hard when Roxy said she would look after her father. That should end badly.
You can download Almost Family on iTunes.

Stumptown: I did not care too much for the first couple episodes because I was unsure what the show wanted to be. But if the show ends up being Dax following around Donal Logue, I would enjoy that show. Unfortunately it does not look like it will be that.
You can download Stumptown on iTunes.

The Good Place: So who was the hooded figure at the end? My first thought was death. But selfishly I hope it is The Real Eleanor.
You can download The Good Place on iTunes.

Titans: So all that to have Superboy save Jason Todd even though everyone even vaguely familiar with the comics knows he is going to die eventually? Meh, but I did like Krpto (even though he basically killed a dude) and the drunken lady doctor. If only Cadmus Labs on Supergirl had anyone as entertaining as her.

The Blacklist: So Lizzy’s mother is moving next door. But doesn’t Red visit regularly? Seems like she should be caught soon.
You can download The Blacklist on iTunes.