Saturday, October 26, 2019

Around the Tubes: October 26, 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 Lizzy Caplan, The L Word: Generation Q, The Toys That Made Us, Anna of the North, Oh Wonder, The Oak Ridge Boys, Ready for War, Pariah: The Lives and Times of Sonnny Liston, and Cats.

- Lizzy Caplan’s Meeting with President Obama Did Not Go Well from Late Night with Seth Meyers:

- Showtime as released the official poster and trailer for the highly-anticipated new series The L Word: Generation Q premiering on Sunday, December 8 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The sequel to the groundbreaking drama series The L Word®, which originally ran on Showtime from 2004-2009, continues to follow the intermingled lives of Bette Porter (Jennifer Beals), Alice Pieszecki (Leisha Hailey) and Shane McCutcheon (Katherine Moennig), along with new characters Dani Nùñez (Arienne Mandi), Micah Lee (Leo Sheng), Finley (Jacqueline Toboni), Sophie Suarez (Rosanny Zayas) and Gigi (Sepideh Moafi) as they experience love, heartbreak, sex, setbacks and success in L.A.

- What was your favorite toy growing up? If you know, or if you don't, set your schedule - Netflix's hit docu-series The Toys That Made Us is back with its third season on November 15th. Watch the trailer HERE and get the 411 at Den of Geek HERE. A nostalgic deep-dive into the legendary toys, action figures, and figurines that shaped America's childhoods, this season will tell the stories of Power Rangers, My Little Pony, Wrestling, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, following prior seasons' coverage of the likes of Barbie, G.I. Joe, LEGO, Hello Kitty, and more.

- Anna of the North releases her heartfelt sophomore album Dream Girl. With hypnotic vocals and relatable, genuine lyrics, the album is a tantalizing addition to Anna's newest chapter. Consisting of thirteen songs that nestle comfortably between electric pop and soulful harmonies, Anna is in full control as she cements herself as one of the most exciting and endearing artists out there. Adding to the celebration, Anna announces her biggest tour to date, a headlining tour hitting 15 cities including New York, Chicago, Denver, and Los Angeles.

- Oh Wonder releases their brand new track “Better Now”—listen HERE! The British alt-pop duo recently returned with their acclaimed single “Hallelujah,” which has already surpassed over 5 million streams within a month—watch a video of the stunning unplugged studio version HERE!

- GRAMMY® Award-winning and Country Music Hall of Fame members, The Oak Ridge Boys, have released their 8th holiday themed album yesterday, Down Home Christmas, available everywhere music is sold from Lightning Rod Records/Thirty Tigers. The new album marks the 3rd collaboration with famed Nashville hit-making Producer Dave Cobb. Down Home Christmas includes standards such as "Amazing Grace" and "Silent Night," plus new originals like "Don't Go Pullin' On Santa Claus' Beard" written by Americana hit-maker Anderson East and Aaron Raitiere, and "South Alabama Christmas," written by Jamey Johnson, Bill Anderson and Buddy Cannon.

- Showtime Documentary Films has announced that the acclaimed documentary feature Ready for War, which explores the phenomenon of deported United States military veterans, will premiere on the network on Sunday, November 22 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The documentary follows three green card holding soldiers at various stages in this process: one in Tijuana fighting to come home to American soil and reunite with his family; another in ICE detention in the U.S. fighting deportation; and a third, lost in the clutches of a drug cartel in Ciudad Juarez, waging a war that was never meant to be his own. Andrew Renzi (Fishtail, They Fight) directs the film, with multi-platinum selling artist Drake (Euphoria, Top Boy) and David Ayer (Fury, End Of Watch) serving as executive producers. Embedding with the dangerous cartels for two years, Renzi and producer Nick Boak envelop viewers in a world of life-or-death stakes from beginning to end. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and will have its U.S. premiere at AFI Fest in Los Angeles on Tuesday, November 19.

- Showtime Sports has released the official trailer and key art for the upcoming documentary film Pariah: The Lives and Times of Sonnny Liston, premiering Friday, November 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Written and directed by Simon George and told through original conversations with luminaries, historians and some of Liston’s closest friends and family, PARIAH chronicles the rise and precipitous fall of one of the most vilified and misunderstood sports champions of all time. To watch and share the official trailer for Pariah, click the link.

- niversal Pictures announced that global music icon Taylor Swift and legendary composer Andrew Lloyd Webber have collaborated on a new, original song written for Universal Pictures’ film Cats, based on Lloyd Webber’s record-shattering stage musical. The song, “Beautiful Ghosts,” will feature in both the film and in the end credits. Cats, in theaters December 20, is directed by Oscar®-winning filmmaker Tom Hooper (Les Misérables, The King’s Speech), and stars Swift, James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Rebel Wilson and Royal Ballet principal dancer Francesca Hayward.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Previewing ZOMBOAT!

They say you cannot judge a book by its cover, but I have long asserted that you can judge a television shoe by its title. Take the latest British import coming to Hulu, ZOMBOAT! Of course I will watch something called ZOMBOAT! I do not need to see a trailer. I do not need to know who is in it. I do not need to know who created it. All I need to know is that it is called ZOMBOAT! God bless whoever said, you know Zomboat is a good name for a show, but do you know what will make it better? All caps and an exclamation point. Awesome.

For those not sold on the title alone (fine, whatever), ZOMBOAT! stars two sisters Leah Brotherhead (White Gold) and Cara Theobold (Downton Abbey) who decide to escape the zombie by boat. Which seems pretty wise considering zombies cannot swim. I do believe Fear the Walking Dead tried that back in season one but evil humans foiled that plan. The Walking Dead and many other zombie properties exist in this world which is a nice change of pace from shows with people who are just clueless to the concept of the undead; but what they learned from NCIS New Orleans is hilarious. Although the boat they get on is a canal boat that is barely faster than the classic slow walking Romero zombies on this show.

Making things more complicated are two stowaways, two bros, one who likes to take his shirt off, the other who likes to complain about the how the other one still finds time to take his shirt off, even in the zombie apocalypse. So the four have to traverse the English waterways looking for a safe place, though they weirdly leave the safe confines of their boat a little too often. But I guess you need to have a reason to be sprayed with blood at least once in a zombie show.

ZOMBOAT! Premieres today on Hulu.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Previewing Castle Rock: Season Two

Though Stephen King himself was not involved, the first season of Castle Rock, based on King’s works with more Easter Eggs than most people could count, had the hallmarks of a Stephen King novel in that it had a very high concept, two outstanding episodes, some slow moving ones, and ultimately a pretty mediocre ending. One thing the first season was a true iconic King character, sure there was an old version of Alan Pangborn and Jack Torrance’s niece.

The show seemingly set up season two with an end credits scene with the niece heading out west, presumably to Overlook Hotel. Instead the show remains in the titular town though no one from the first season shows up in the second season (that I have spotted anyway, halfway through). Granted they did set up multiple universes in the first season, so we may not even be in one of the two universes we saw last season. But there are references to the Warden killing himself and fires that happened last year. But the setting is the same, we do see the bridge that Ruth jumped off and the bar Jackie Torrance hung out in. Though Shawshank Prison has been shut down.

So no familiar faces this season but there is one very familiar famous name: Annie Wilkes. Yes the main character of Misery and made famous on screen by Kathy Bates. Lizzy Caplain (Cloverfield) is a younger version of the character still rocking the same shoulder length hair cut (flashbacks shows Annie has been wearing the same hairstyle from grade school). Oh and she is also crazy with fits of anger.

We are introduced to Annie and her daughter Joy (I have a bold prediction about her at the end of the review) and they are running away from something with Annie taking temp nursing jobs along the way to get some money and steal some anti-psychotics to keep her sane. But a car crash in Castle Rock, now celebrating its four hundredth anniversary, forces the duo to stay a little longer than Annie would like.

Annie has multiple run in with Tim Robbins (The Shawshank Redemption) and his family while in town. Everyone calls him “Pops” though no children of his own, he did help raise two nephews and two Somali refugees who lost their parents to war. Paul Sparks (Boardwalk Empire) plays the nephew who rents out a place for Annie to stay and is in a blood feud with his “brother” who lives in Jerusalem’s Lot (Salem’s Lot is also a part of this season as well of the theme of rebirth… I think, Annie is not proving to be a reliable narrator) who both want a part of Pops’ minor crime racket and is portrayed by Barkhad Abdi (who utted the iconic line, "I am the captain now" in Captain Philips).

Season two of Castle Rock is a little more even that its predecessor which means there is nothing as great as the two stand out (though a fifth episode flashback comes close) but there are no boring parts that plagued parts of last season. The new season is missing a Jackie Torrance character; Jane Levy sure added some much needed levity to the show. But this is a very different type of story and different type of storytelling because it is at times if we are seeing Annie’s psychotic breaks or if what she (and the audience) seeing something that is actually happening. Still, Lizzy Caplan is great in the role as she knows she is slowly going crazy no matter how hard she tries to avoid it.

But here is my bold prediction; Lizzie Caplan is not the Annie Wilkes we read about in the books, after this Annie dies, her daughter takes the name and goes on to torture authors. Or maybe she will meet up with Jackie Torrance out west and we will eventually get a Castle Rock season populated by all relative of famous Stephen King characters.

The first three episodes of Castle Rock are on Hulu today with a new episode premiering every Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

A Long Time Ago We Used to Be Friends... And it Is Nice to See You Again

Full Disclosure Notice: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the DVD I reviewed in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.

Okay, let me get this out of the way first, this is a review of the DVD Veronica Mars: The Complete First Season (2019) which is kind of stupid and a little confusing. Yes this is the new season, listed as number four on Hulu and called season four by everyone except apparently Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. But it will not be too hard to tell apart from the original first season as Kristen Bell has long hair in the new season and is sporting a gun which she never used when she was on free television. The 2019 version with just two disks is significantly smaller and is as thick as the movie version of the show.

The first Veronica Mars first season launched the same year as this blog and topped my very first Best Television Shows of the Year… and the second… and the third. Unfortunately it was eligible for a fourth because The CW unceremoniously canceled it so they could air shows like Farmer Takes a Wife and Pussycat Dolls Present. By some miracle they were able to revive the show via Kickstarter which was a trial balloon that was not that successfully since no other major studio tried to revive a show or movie that way since.

Then last year I was scrolling Deadline when something popped out like a fever dream: a Veronica Mars reboot was coming. I had to read the article a couple times to make it sink it and realize just where it was being revived, which thankfully turned out to be Hulu, a streaming site I already subscribed to. Then it was a long wait until it debuted. Sure there was plenty of casting notices (it was weird that Dick Casabancas Sr. was announced before Junior), trailers and other cast interviews to pass the time.

And then it premiered and it was like seeing old friends again. Sure calling this season one was silly, but maybe Warner Bros. Home Entertainment because it is not the same show anymore, and really it should not be. With Veronica in thirties now, you cannot have silly high school cases like missing dogs and test cheats (though there is a new character who seems like a young Ronnie fill in if they chose to go that route later). Then with only eight episodes instead of twenty-two, gone are the cases of the week mysteries, replaced with one long case to take up Ronnie’s time.

Rejoining Kristen Bell is Enrico Colantoni as her father Keith and Jason Dorhing returns as the obligatory psychotic jackass turned beau Logan who has been dating Veronica since the movie. Those three are the only characters that get the main title sequence but we get multiple episode from Dick, Wallace, Weevil, and Deputy Leo who has gotten a promotion but will always be Deputy Leo to me. There are also plenty of cameos from the original seasons including a few that they could not quite fit into the movie.

Among the new cast are Oscar winner J. K. Simmons who plays an associate of Dick Sr. from his stint in Chino (we saw Dick Sr. flee the country because of SEC violations and turned himself in at the end of season three). Patton Oswalt plays a pizza delivery boy by say/true crime aficionado by night who gets caught up in the first crime. Bell’s The Good Place co-star Kirby Howell-Baptiste is a bar owns in Neptune. Then there are a few more recognizable cameos throughout the season including someone Dick unsuccessfully hits on who has spent the last decade on one of the most popular sit-coms.

The case in question is a serial bomber that has attacked Neptune at the height of Spring Break. The problem with a single case taking an entire season to solve is that many episodes that just devolve into a red herring of the week. There are multiple suspects that are fingered through the season but at the end, most just turned out to be insignificant.

Still, of all the single season to solve only one mystery shows, Veronica Mars is one of the best with its witty banter and the chemistry between the Mars’ who just continue to make their claim as the best father-daughter team on television. Veronica Mars also goes straight to the top of the otherwise lackluster best television show reboots of all time. The DVD is kind of bare bones in terms of special features; there is just the 2019 Veronica Mars Comic-Con panel that runs about twenty-six minute. But I believe this is the first time the show will be available to watch in Canada (sorry non-North Americans, you will still have to wait unless you have the right DVD player).

The show was on the bubble during its short run last decade but we are in different times and a show with a dedicated on a streaming site may have a better chance at renewal (Veronica Mars has been in the top five on Hulu’s popular tab for most of its run). We are also in a time when shows do not need to air once a year. So hopefully Kristen Bell, creator Rob Thomas, and Hulu will hopefully agree to give us a fifth season of Veronica Mars in a year or three (just do not make us wait like as song as we did for the movie or fourth season). Or as Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will likely call it: Season Two (2020ish).

Own VERONICA MARS (2019): THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON on DVD today (October 22).

Sunday, October 20, 2019

57 Channels and Only This Is On: October 20, 2019

Supergirl: So it was Lena who kidnapped Eve last week. Okay, that makes no sense. So what was the whole Leviathan thing that Eve was running from last season? And what the fork is going on with Lena? She just does not make any sense this season at all.
You can download Supergirl on iTunes.

The Affair: Noah is the protagonist of this show, but the way that reporter laid it out; Noah is a pretty horrible person. But the thing is, we do know he did not have sex with the publicist. Or did he as we have seen, how Noah’s scenes have shown up, they do not always line up what other people say it was. Could we get a flashback act from the publicist to get her side of the story? Or maybe the teacher’s assistant? I do vaguely remember thinking she definitely wanted to have sex with Noah. Or maybe that is what Noah though and her version could be completely different.

Mr. Robot: Wait, there is a third personality? People have long theorized that the American Psycho dude was also Elliot, and there were times I bought into it, but it just seems very unlikely at this point. But I did theorize that Darlene would start seeing Angela like Elliot saw Mr. Robot but she admits that she really does not see Angela. So maybe Angela is Elliot’s third personality. Seems plausible since she just died tragically. I kind of hope it is not someone we het that is still alive and the writers have to explain how Elliot was that person all along.
You can download Mr. Robot: on iTunes.

Wu-Tang: An American Saga: So dude is released from prison, commits aggravated assault on the guy who drove him home, shots his gun off when he arrives home, and starts killing people. I really hope that was some poetic license and not based on actual events because I really do not want to know people like that exists. But I am pretty certain this part was probably poetic license, but I liked how Ghostface’s little brother coins the iconic title, “Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nuthin’ ta fork wit.”
You can watch Wu-Tang: An American Saga on Hulu.

Survivor: Island of Idols: I have been harsh on the stupid Island of Idols twist this season, and it continues to be stupid, but at least Noura spending all that time practicing being the call only for her tribe to make here sit out meaning she loses her vote at the next Tribal Council. Or did she lose her vote at HER next Tribal Council? That was pretty unclear. Because if it was the former, it is kind of no harm no foul because her team won. Maybe this is why only someone from the losing tribe should be sent to the Island of Idols.
You can download Survivor: Island of the Idols on iTunes.

The Challenge: War of the Worlds 2: If the rest of the season boils down to Team Cara Maria vs. Team Georgia, consider me Team Georgia all the way.
You can download The Challenge: War of the Worlds 2 on iTunes.

Almost Family: Finally the guy Julia forked that might be her brother in the first episode is back. Thought I still find it weird that instead of finding out if they were related by looking at the DNA results, they just admitted it in that video. Also weird is that Brittany Snow is not the first Pitch Perfect actress to fork her half-brother on screen as Anna Kendrick already did that in A Simple Favor.
You can download Almost Family on iTunes.

Stumptown:So Donal Logue was evil… but not really. Alrighty. I still wish he was around for Dex’s 1500 hours. But I am sure he will pop up again eventually.
You can download Stumptown on iTunes.

The Good Place: Many people predicted that Vicky switched out Michael during the handover (I never bought it) but it turned out it was Janet that got kidnapped all along. So do they not really need Janet to keep the neighborhood together this whole time? That was just Bad Janet’s excuse to explain any hints that she was not Good Janet? I guess we should have all guess this when Janet rudely told Jason that the Jaguars traded Blake Bortles right after breaking up with him.
You can download The Good Place on iTunes.

Titans: Man, imaginary Batman was kind of annoying. If that is what Nightwing really thinks of him, no wonder he went to the other coast.

The Blacklist: When did Aram turn into James Bond? After he shot all the bad guys with their own gun and kissed the damsel in distress, I thought that was going to turn out to be a dream sequence and then Ressler and Lizzie would wake him up as they rush in to save the day.
You can download The Blacklist on iTunes.