Saturday, December 07, 2019

Around the Tubes: December 7, 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 Truth Be Told, Homeland, Consequence of Sound's Top 100 Shows of the 2010s, Hala, Apple Music Awards, The Weeknd, Oh Wonder, Chelsea Cutler, Don’t Be Nice, Disasters at Sea, and Shrill.

- When new evidence compels podcaster Poppy Parnell (Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer) to reopen the murder case that made her a national sensation, she comes face-to-face with the man she may have mistakenly helped to put behind bars. Based on the novel “Are You Sleeping" by Kathleen Barber, “Truth Be Told” provides a unique glimpse into America’s obsession with true crime podcasts and challenges its viewers to consider the consequences when the pursuit of justice is placed on a public stage. The series stars an award-winning cast, including Aaron Paul, Ron Cephas Jones, Lizzy Caplan, Elizabeth Perkins, Mekhi Phifer, Michael Beach, Tracie Thoms and Haneefah Wood. Beginning December 6, the first three episodes of Truth Be Told will be available to watch on Apple TV+ in over 100 countries and regions around the world. New episodes will continue to roll out weekly, every Friday.

- Showtime has released the official trailer and poster for the final season of its Emmy® and Golden Globe® winning hit drama Homeland premiering on Sunday, February 9 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Starring Emmy, Screen Actors Guild® and Golden Globe winner Claire Danes and Emmy and Tony® winner Mandy Patinkin, Homeland is the network's No. 1 drama series and one of the most acclaimed dramas on television.

- Rounding out their final "Top of the 2010s" coverage, Consequence of Sound has dropped their list of the "Top 100 Shows of the 2010s." With the launch of streaming services, ever expanding networks and series spin-offs, the 2010s ushered in a new era of television. Looking back at the decade, CoS has highlighted iconic period dramas including Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire, captivating shows like Breaking Bad and Making A Murderer, the absolute phenomenon that is Stranger Things and the undeniably unique Atlanta. Be sure to check out the full list at

- Seventeen-year-old Pakistani American teenager Hala (Geraldine Viswanathan) struggles to balance desire with her familial, cultural and religious obligations. As she comes into her own, she grapples with a secret that threatens to unravel her family. Written and directed by Minhal Baig and executive produced by Jada Pinkett Smith, Hala was an official selection of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.

- Apple Music closed out 2019 with a special performance by Artist of the Year Billie Eilish on Wednesday evening at the Steve Jobs Theater in celebration of the inaugural Apple Music Awards. In addition to receiving top honors as Apple Music's Global Artist of the Year, Billie also received the award for Top Album of the Year as well as for Songwriter of the Year with her brother FINNEAS. Billie performed this exclusive bespoke show for her fans to mark the occasion and Apple Music live streamed the event in 115 countries. When introducing Billie and FINNEAS to the stage, Apple Music global creative director Zane Lowe told a packed crowd at the Steve Jobs Theater: "There are amazing artists, there are amazing producers... but there are very few who can make us think different,

- The Weeknd just shared the stunning cinematic and psychedelic music video for his new song "Heartless". The Anton Tammi-directed piece shows The Weeknd and his producer / cohort Metro Boomin shutting down Las Vegas streets and the iconic Caesars Palace.

- Oh Wonder drops a surprise Christmas song “This Christmas”—listen HERE! The duo recently confirmed details of their third album, No One Else Can Wear Your Crown, which will be released on February 7th, 2020 and includes recent tracks “Hallelujah,” “Better Now” and “I Wish I Never Met You.” The duo has also confirmed international dates for the “Wear Your Crown Tour,” which is on sale now at

- Singer, songwriter and producer Chelsea Cutler drops “I Was In Heaven” from her highly anticipated debut album, How To Be Human, set for release on January 17th, 2020—listen to “I Was In Heaven” HERE! How To Be Human is now available for pre-order HERE. Of “I Was In Heaven,” Chelsea says, “As much as love is a part of the human condition, so is heart break. I wrote ‘I Was In Heaven’ at a point in my life when that’s exactly what I was going through. This song is really special to me because of how honest and raw it is, and I decided to keep the original demo vocals from when I wrote the song to really capture the raw emotion.”

- Encore Telecast of Don’t Be Nice, which had its World Television Premiere earlier this year as part of the Award-Winning Fuse Docs series. Documentary – directed by Max Powers and produced by Nikhil Melnechuk and Cora Atkinson – focuses on the journey of young poets as they head to the National Poetry Slam. Date: Saturday, December 7 at 11 p.m. ET/PT on Fuse. DESCRIPTION: A team of young poets from the Bowery Poetry Club have one month to compose their best work for the National Poetry Slam. Challenged by their coaches, the team must break through personal boundaries and explore issues such as family, race, relationships, sex, and bullying to create their most vulnerable and honest work yet.

- From a routine New York ferry trip that turned deadly to the mysterious loss of a fishing vessel in the Bering Sea, the question still remains – how and why do these maritime catastrophes happen? Smithsonian Channel will transport viewers to the scene of the accident in the second season of Disasters at Sea, revealing what went wrong on these fatal voyages. Using eyewitness accounts, archival footage and dramatic reenactments, experts search for answers and provide invaluable knowledge on how to prevent future fatal accidents. The new season of Disasters at Sea premieres Sunday, January 5 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel. Season two of Disasters at Sea continues to follow investigators as they uncover shocking revelations behind maritime disasters, and send Remotely Operated Vehicles equipped with cameras to the bottom of the sea floor to recover a ship’s black box – the Voyage Data Recorder – in order to piece together what happened.

- Hulu released the official teaser trailer for the new season of Hulu’s hit original comedy Shrill, starring Aidy Bryant! Shrill returns with eight all-new episodes, Friday, January 24, only on Hulu.

Friday, December 06, 2019

Previewing Reprisal

Since the last time I wrote about a new Hulu Series we got two new streaming services each with their own rollout for shows. Disney+ is just going to make everyone wait a week for new episodes while Apple+ dropped every episode of Dickenson when they launched but for their more adult fare they are dolling those out weekly. Which I guess makes sense if you do not stick to the every week like regular television or all at once like Netflix.

Hulu’s roll-outs still seem perplexing. It seems like they had decided on releasing their comedies all at once but then they released Four Weddings and a Funeral weekly. They release most of their older skewing shows weekly, but two adult shows with deep mysteries this year they released all at once. It was hard to avoid Veronica Mars spoilers the weekend after its release and Reprisal comes with so many twist and turns the screeners came with a list of plot lines critics are not allowed to bring up in their reviews.

Much like Veronica Mars, Reprisal is a noir story, but where Veronica Mars was an interesting take of the dark noir storytelling in sunny southern California, Reprisal is a hard noir chalk full of femme fatales and plenty of other very stylized characters and a whole lot of poetic license that will drive the people who got mad that Jack Bauer never went to the bathroom or got stuck in Los Angeles traffic extremely crazy. I first though the show was set in the fifties as plenty of the characters looked like extras from Grease but then someone checks into a motel and is mad there is no cable (which probably did not show up in some hotels until the eighties) and then another character uses a flip-phone (from earlier this century). So I am not sure when this takes place, maybe in it takes place in some alternative universe where even the gangs are racial diverse.

Reprisal stars Abigail Spencer (Mad Men) as the femmest of femme fatales who starts the series being dragged across a field and left for dead by her brother. He is played by Rory Cochrane (Dazed and Confused) who is the leader of the Banished Brawlers (symbolized with an upside-down skull with spider legs coming out) whom he punishes his sister for going against the gang. A decade later she is married, going by a different name and he is a recluse who is rarely seen at the gang ran Go-Go.

Surprisingly Spencer is not plotting her revenge the whole time despite saying they would meet again was the last thing she says to her brother; it takes her husband’s death and a couple pieces falling into space for her to find her way back to her former life. She has actually been working for her husband’s catering business, which has its own run in with gangstas (the physical embodiment being Ron Perlman) that want their cut after the owner’s death but Spencer wants the inheritance to bankroll her revenge. The weakest part of the show is that storyline just disappears and by the time it pops back up again you only vaguely remains.

The second weakest is the bloated cast, twelve in the Hulu press release (yet only eleven get a character description, sorry W. Earl Brown, one of the more recognizable members thanks to his turn on Deadwood). Some of the others worth mentioning are Rodrigo Santoro (300) as the defacto leader of the Brawlers with the actual leader rarely showing up anymore. Mena Massoud is the new guy to the club given the menial job on the scout crew for the Brawlers, The 3 River Phoenixes. Massoud earlier this week lamented that he has not had one audition since his billion dollar grossing film Aladdin had been released. Well, if he feared being type casted, this role is far from a Disney prince as you can get. Plus the best part of the Hulu upfronts earlier this year was when Spencer started singing A Whole New World during the Reprisal presentation.

The breakout star of the show is Madison Davenport (Sharp Objects) who seems like the only one having fun in this hard noir tale of revenge. She works at the Brawlers’ Go-Go, the awkwardly named Bang-a-Rang. She also has a little side hustle going on hoping to raise enough money to leave the place she grew up in. Of all the over-stylized moments in the show, her casually putting her shades on over a blood splattered face may be the most stylized. Really, for anyone into drinking games, drink whenever someone casually puts on the glasses walking away from something dramatic, make it a double if they are covered in someone else’s blood.

But Reprisal really answers the question of can something be too stylized? There are a lot of choices like Spencer’s voice or Santoro’s beard but sometimes I wished they spent more time developing a plot than developing a mood (two or three less episode could have made the season a little tighter). Still there are some great moments like a speech from Spencer about being underestimated during a Mexican Standoff, a great sequence set to Chicago's 25 or 6 to 4, and there is a random bored housewife that pops up to do something weird at just the right time. And, hey, if you need something dark to counteract all the holiday cheer coming the next couple weeks, you could do a lot worse than Reprisal.

All episodes of Reprisal premiere on Hulu today.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Previewing Into the Dark: A Nasty Piece of Work

Christmas horror movies are weird. This is supposed to be the most wonderful time of year (though why anyone would call a time which is sometimes thirty degrees and snowy “wonderful”) and yet some executives occasionally think movie goers want a little blood to offset the holiday cheer. Personally cranberry sauce is the only gooey red stuff I want to see in December. Yet the third Black Christmas is coming out on Friday the 13th and we are getting our second Christmas In the Dark episode.

Although A Nasty Piece of Work is one of those scripts that seem to be retrofitted to be holiday themed but really could have taken place any day of the year with a few minor tweaks. But as a holiday horror movie, a dark comedy tile this works better than a slasher bloodfest. A Nasty Piece of Work takes place at a firm that did not have a good year so no Christmas bonuses this year instead everyone will have to endure the shared sacrifice. But two promising executives do get an invite for a Christmas party where one will get a promotion while the other gets eliminated but you will be left wondering if they will be losing just their job.

Needless to say, the boss is the titular nasty piece of work who has some warped ways to determine who is the worthy employing. Or it could be his wife who may be even nastier than him. The respective wives of the employees also have some nastiness in them. Before long you will be left wondering what games are going on or if there is even a promotion to behave and these rich people are just getting their rocks off by all of this. I am not a big fan of being scared around Christmas but this may be close to a best case scenario for a December installment of Into the Dark.

Into the Dark Season Two Power Ranking:

1. Uncanny Annie (October)
2. A Nasty Piece of Work (December)
3. Pilgrim (November)

Into the Dark: A Nasty Piece of Work premieres tomorrow on Hulu.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Previewing Vikings: The Final Season

The one lasting memory of the last season of Vikings that stayed with me was that of Floki going into a cave and getting trapped when an earthquake blocked his exit. Now with most shows, I do not believe someone is truly dead until I see the body (and even then I am still sometimes suspicious) but being trapped in a cave on a barely populated island where no one knows where you are and your torch just went out seems is pretty dire.

There is no Floki in the two hour premiere but with Edge coming back to Kattergaurd, he is discussed. There is not even any Floki in the episodes I saw. There is not even any Iceland in the first couple episode. But there is one character that also seemed pretty dead the last time we saw them who pops up in one of the early episode (well two but one is very definitely a ghost). The bride that Ivar the Boneless turned on him and he strangled her in return shows up very alive… or at the very least the actress portrays someone who looks very much like his presumed dead wife.

Last season Ivar was ran out of Norway when his brothers banded together to exile. He takes to The Silk Road before taken in by a king he passes by. It is unclear what the new royal wants with Ivar but he does have roots in Norway and even knows the language. But I laugh at every time he or someone in his kingdom that they want to speak to Ivar in his language. But as someone who hates to read while watching television, I appreciate it.

Back in Norway, Bjorn is adjusting to his new life as ruler of Kattergaurd, but not all his brothers are thriving in the post Ivar rule. Bjorn’s mother Lagatha has moved to a small village to live out the rest of her peacefully, but that of course does not go all too well for the warrior. But the most interesting is Bjorn, now leader like his famous father. Will he be able to unite Norway like his father? Will he travel to foreign lands looking for better things like his father? Well this is the final season, so he has a lot to accomplish in a short amount of time.

airs Wednesday at 9:00 on History though it is taking Christmas Day off in three weeks.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

57 Channels and Only This Is On: December 1, 2019

Ray Donovan: So Micky was burned beyond recognition? Well at least they did not drag it out very long to reveal he was not really dead considering it was extremely obvious he was not. Now they just need to explain how he survived such a huge fireball. But hey, if Micky is “dead” Ray should easily be able to get his prints to take the fall for that murder.

Watchmen: Hooded Justice was black? Did not see that coming. Although I did see after the episode someone pointed out that Lou Gossett Jr. had the same color scheme early in the season so it is not that they did not telegraph it. I kind of wish that Angela was the POV the whole time, that would have been more interesting. I also wish we had gotten more of his life than just that short few months… Unless Angela is still under the Nostalgia and that ending was how Lady Truie met Hooded Justice. That would explain how she got out of police custody.

The Walking Dead: So Michonne is just going to leave her small children to help that dude back home? Huh? Almost a big question as how Daryl and everyone is going to get out of their predicament.

Shameless: So a week after shiving a dude in the sick ward, Ian is up for parole? Then to hurt his parole chances, he tries to shiv someone else? Although the best part of the episode was when I realized Debbie did not forget to load the debit cards but instead they were all garnished by the government for unpaid debt.

Mr. Robot: RIP Janice, but you really kind of annoying. Otherwise, felt like huge filler episode.
You can download Mr. Robot: on iTunes.

His Dark Materials: Wow, it just seems like Lin-Manual Miranda is on a completely different show. I mean, both his show and the main show are bad, but just a different kind of bad.

Castle Rock: Strangulation by stethoscope… had we not seen someone this season shove an ice cream scooper down someone’s throat, that would have been a pretty imaginative self-defense scene. Interesting the episode description said, “Annie sees things for what they are.” Considering she saw her long dead mother and a waterfall that came out of a mirror. But maybe it says that because she is the only one who is not under the cult’s spell as even Joy is not walking in step. But annie is legit crazy, I wonder what is so special about the doctor? Is it just that you have to see the statue to be enthralled by it? But a surprisingly short episode, about thirty-five minutes, even less than a network drama without commercials.
You can watch Castle Rock on Hulu.

Survivor: Island of Idols: Idols have been out of control for a while now and two of the last seasons featured someone who went on a three or longer Idol run until Idols were no longer available to play, but at this point I really hope Karishma somehow finds an Idol every week and somehow finds herself in the final (but I fear she will be more like Rick than Ben in the fire making challenge) and manages to win the whole things. Only her or Janet are the only ones from this season that would land them in the bottom five winners of all time list.
You can download Survivor: Island of the Idols on iTunes.

The Challenge: War of the Worlds 2: Poor Nany, Smashley gets lost and she still cannot solve a simple Sudoku puzzle. But I wonder if she would have turncoat because the Brits with only one actual Brit clearly look like the better team at this point. Of course it would serve Cara Maria and paulie right to get beat by people who they tried to get rid of.
You can download The Challenge: War of the Worlds 2 on iTunes.

Almost Family: What a nice treat of back to back episode. The Thanksgiving episode may be the best so far.
You can download Almost Family on iTunes.

Titans: When they said one Titan would fall, New Robin seemed obvious considering he famously “died” in the funny books. Except they already threw him out of a window to certain death only to be saved by Superboy in the next episode. Hawk seemed like the next most likely so he could be sacrifice himself and redeemed for his bad behavior. Why I put any thought into might happen because who actually died was completely outside the realm of reason. First of all it, it took forever for that pillar to fall, Lyla Garrity could not get two people out of harm’s way in ten seconds? Then, instead of using her super-speed to hold up the pillar, how about Super Girl using her super-speed to move people out of harm’s way instead of holding the pillar? And can a little electricity really kill an Amazon? Aren’t they Gods? Ugg, what makes things worse is she was the second best part of the show. But is she really dead-dead? Raven pretty easily healed Starfire and says her powers are evolving. And of course this is DC so I am sure there is a Lazarus Pit somewhere. Hopefully she shows up next season somehow.