Saturday, March 21, 2020

Around the Tubes: March 21, 2020

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 One Day at a Time, Vice, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, The Weeknd, POV, Into the Dark, SHIVER TV, and Freakonomics Radio.

- Pop TV’s Emmy®-winning comedy One Day at a Time will be supersized in a simulcast event with ViacomCBS sibling networks TV Land and Logo on Tuesday, March 24 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT. The highly-anticipated new season can be previewed in a new trailer released today. One Day at a Time airs following all-new episodes of the final season of Schitt's Creek, and will move to its permanent time slot April 14th – Tuesdays, 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.

- Showtime has released the trailer for the Emmy®-winning documentary series Vice ahead of its premiere on Sunday, March 29 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The 13-episode season will deliver immersive reporting from the frontlines of global conflicts, civil uprisings and beyond, tackling complex geopolitical stories from all corners of the globe. Kicking off the season premiere, VICE's team gained unique access at Camp al-Hol in Northeastern Syria, where tens of thousands of women and children who once lived under ISIS are currently being held. Correspondent Hind Hassan investigates how a power vacuum has left brigades of radicalized ISIS women revolting against Kurdish security personnel, fighting for a resurgence of the terror group in the region. The debut episode will also give an inside look at the hidden arena of cell phone hacking, as correspondent Krishna Andavolu investigates how young video-gamers-turned-criminals are devastating their victims’ lives, stealing millions of dollars through an underground practice known as SIM swapping.

- Republic Records releases Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist: Season 1, Episode 6 (Music from the Original TV Series) in conjunction with the critically acclaimed new NBC television series Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, produced by Lionsgate and Universal Television in association with the Tannenbaum Company, Feigco Entertainment and Universal Music Group’s Polygram Entertainment. Get it via Republic Records HERE. New EPs will be released in tandem with each new episode of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, which will air weekly on Sundays at 9pm ET/ PT on NBC.

- The Weeknd has shared his highly anticipated new album, After Hours, out today everywhere via XO Records / Republic Records. The first two songs from the album, "Heartless" and "Blinding Lights", have already taken the world by storm, earning Platinum status and bringing The Weeknd into the Top 10 artists of all time for RIAA singles. In addition to acclaimed live TV performances on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel Live! - he made his fourth appearance on Saturday Night Live performing "Blinding Lights" and debuted new song "Scared To Live", along with the hilarious comedy skit "On the Couch". "Heartless" became The Weeknd's 4th #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, while "Blinding Lights" became his 7th #1 on the Hot R&B Songs chart, the most for any artist ever. Internationally "Blinding Lights" has been the #1 airplay song and #1 official single in multiple countries for several consecutive weeks, as well as Spotify's #1 Global Song for 30 days and counting. On Wednesday, After Hours broke Apple Music's all-time pre-add record with nearly 1,000,000 album pre-adds before release, surpassing the previous record held by Billie Eilish in 2019.

- You have never met her—or anyone quite like her—but she could be your next door neighbor, your best friend, or your new favorite artist. Hailing from a small town in Minnesota, her family eschewed social media and television, so she learned how to write poetry, play piano, and compose songs. Now, she says, “hello i am” on her debut single today. Get it HERE via LAVA/Republic Records.

- In a hidden safehouse in the Ghanaian forest, social workers help two children recover from a childhood enslaved to fishermen on Lake Volta, the largest manmade lake on Earth. But their story takes an unexpected turn when their rescuer embarks on another rescue mission and asks the children for help. Directed by Alyssa Fedele and Zachary Fink, The Rescue List has its national broadcast debut on the PBS documentary series POV and on Monday, March 23, 2020 at 10 p.m. (check local listings). The film is a co-production of Collective Hunch and American Documentary | POV. POV is American television’s longest-running independent documentary series now in its 32nd season.

- Looking for thrilling jump scares, feel-good moments, and everything in between? Into the Dark has got you covered! From Valentine's Day to Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve, celebrate 18 holidays with an edge-of-your-seat weekend binge! About 27 hours of episodes are now available to binge-watch at home for a terrifying marathon of suspense! You can also catch the series' latest installment, Crawlers, just in time for a belated St. Patrick's Day celebration.

- TERROR TV, the only streaming channel of the genre that focuses on independent fright films first, announces a new station: SHIVER TV. This sister-channel of TERROR TV possesses a stunning catalog of indie fright films – FREE! SHIVER TV is available via ROKU for Free. The flagship channel, TERROR TV, also features a podcast, a blog featuring reviews of the movies on the station, and at least one new film each week.

- In today's episode of Freakonomics Radio, several leading economists explain the guidance their research offers for the COVID-19 crisis, and what some of the less-explored implications of this situation could be. For instance:
· What do the data indicate might come of the sudden increase in working from home, in terms of worker productivity and the future of remote work?
· Will schools being closed lead to innovations in teaching, and could this finally be the tipping point for online learning?
· Is there a small environmental silver lining in the black pandemic cloud?
Listen to the new episode at

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Previewing Little Fires Everywhere

One thing that struck me while watching Little Fires Everywhere is the first shot of the series is that of one pretty forking big fire. Okay so it explained by the Fire Marshall that the big fire was started with little fires everywhere and accelerant. But of course being a television show, little fires everywhere is quite obvious a metaphor for probably a few different things. And is not just that someone burned down this house, they did it with someone inside. Then we promptly flash back four months where we are introduced to two very different families.

Reece Witherspoon spent a quarter century being a huge movie star but all of the sudden she has become the new queen of prestige television with what you can essentially call the Reece Witherspoon Book Club. Three years ago she turned Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies into an HBO smash hit. Last year she launch Apple+ with The Morning Show based Brian Stelter book. And now she is adapting the Celeste Ng book Little Fires Everywhere for Hulu.

Like Big Little Lies, Reece’s character in Little Fires Everywhere can best be described as grown up Tracy Flick. Again she is playing a very type-A personality trying to exude a very specific persona to the world, you know, the kind of person who weighs herself to the tenth but only has sex on certain day and does not even break that rule if it is just a little past midnight. But there is where the comparisons to her other show ends (well, okay, Joshua Jackson as her husband is as ineffectual as Adam Scott except for maybe one scene in a court room late in the season). The show, is set in 1997 mixed middle class Shaker Height, Ohio, and is really just two woman dealing with their families instead of the super-rich lives of five (six if you count Meryl Streep).

The other woman is played by Kerry Washington who is new to Shaker and needs a new place to stay with her and her teenaged child. A chance run in with Reece, who gets introduced with an Annie Lennox song, gives Kerry, who gets introduced with an Erikah Badu song, a place to stay and a new job. Needless to say there would be no show if these two strong willed women got along, but Reece’s trying so hard not to be perceived as racist, well, comes off as a little racist. Then Kerry is not very good at letting micro-aggressions go.

With only two families at the heart of the story, some of the heavy lifting is left to the five children in the two families and where Little Fires Everywhere fails to live up to Big Little Lies is that these kids are no Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, or Zoey Kravitz. The best of the bunch is Reece’s youngest of four who is just shooting daggers for the first couple episodes (and gets thrown under the bus by her siblings during the opening moments) but kind of just disappears before trotting down the hallway to 2Pac in the penultimate episode (the last of which I saw so I not sure how the season ends) in one of the show's more entertaining moments. While Reece’s two boys took me a couple episodes to tell apart. Then her eldest is trying way too hard to playing a mimi-Reese.

One person who actually does a good job playing mini-Reese is AnnaSophia Robb who shares an episode with The Chi’s Tiffany Boone who plays a younger Kerry in duel flashbacks. Robb’s performance makes me wonder why she only seems to be cast in Hulu award bait for other actors (like last year’s The Act). Please Hollywood, how about giving Robb her own show again instead of wasting her on bit parts. But this was a weird episode just because it also features Veronica Mars’ Alona Tal, Cloak and Dagger’s Aubrey Joseph, Grey Anatomy’s Jesse Williams, and Tomorrowland’s Britt Robertson all of which are in two scenes or less. Kind of a waste for actors whom I at least can recognize. I cannot imagine they will show up in the one episode I have yet to watch.

Despite opening up with arson, this really is not much of a whodunit. Reece’s youngest is an early suspect, but by the time you give episode seven, there really are not that many subjects. Really it is kind of obvious early on it will be kind of silly if it turns out to be someone else. The show actually turns into a court battle which actually is a bigger mystery of how the court will rule. But unless there are some big moments in the final episode Little Fires Everywhere will just turn out to be another in a long list of shows striving to be prestige TV that ends up being a solid B at best.

Three episodes of Little Fires Everywhere premiere tomorrow on Hulu with a new episode premiering every Wednesday after that.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

57 Channels and Only This Is On: March 15, 2020

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist: The cursing into the title screen has becoming my new favorite running bit. But I am sad that dude broke up with the weird baristas. I wish they could find a way to keep her on the show. The place where Zoey works does seem to have an overabundance of bars, how about a coffee bar?
You can download Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist on iTunes.

Dare Me: So we are not getting an ending? Kind of presumptuous thinking it will get a second season. But I have already seen them promoting the Netflix release. I wonder if it will get a bounce similar to You that went from a barely watched Lifetime show to a worldwide smash hit. But this ending was a bit confusing. So the coach and her husband were at army dude’s apartment, and then she came back with the black chick to have an alibi? That does not make much sense. But I did laugh at the completely inappropriate gun theme cheer.
You can download Dare Me on iTunes.

The Outsider: Um, so when did El Cuco scratch Holly. He was never near her in the cave. Did it happen before? They were never close before that scene. But that could explain why trigger happy neck guy decline to shoot her head out when he had the chance. I know it is required for horror movies, after the bad guy is vanquished, to tease that they are still around, but that mad no sense. At least make it the cop that smashed his head in, at lead there was a chance he was scratched first.

Homeland: Is it going to be that obvious that the 80’s action movie supervillain acting Pakistani Defense Minister was behind the president’s chopper being shot down? It cannot be that obvious. It did cross my mind that since the chopper disappeared for a couple minutes that it got swapped out; helping this theory is that the body got destroyed so they cannot confirm that it was him. It also crossed my mind that the Vice-President was involved but he seemed way too shook that this probably cannot be him, maybe he is a puppet and knew but did not think it would actually happen. Hopefully there is some sort of a twist soon.

Supergirl: So Andrea is now just realizing she had a super power? Kind of silly that this show is just kind of rebooting the first half of the season post-Crisis. But I guess I should not expect actual goo storytelling from this show.
You can download Supergirl on iTunes.

The Walking Dead: Was that supposed to be their version of The Long Night? Maybe not try that with tenth the budget. But at least I could tell what was going on.
You can download The Walking Dead on iTunes.

Good Girls: So it was the black chick who recognized the hockey jersey? Sure she did not realize it was a fake. But of course the gangsta wants a part of Beth money scheme more than he wants to kill her. And now it seems like we are right back to season one.
You can download Good Girls on iTunes.

Manifest: So the plane went back in time, freaked out a bunch of pirates, and then went into the future without any one aboard noticing? What the fork?
You can download Manifest on iTunes.

Project Blue Book: They finally caught the Russian spy. Now what? That part of the show was always a drag but know that everything is on the table, maybe it will get more interesting.
You can download Project Blue Book on iTunes.

Survivor: Winners at War: It should not have taken the merge to happen, but thankfully they finally got Rob out. Maybe this could be the best because now he has less time to amass Fire Tokens on Edge of Extinction. But they wasted way too much time on that boring buddy system. What they should have done was give us much more time with the Michelle / Wendell situation. Like, how exactly did that end. Clearly Wendell did something. Then my pre-season pick Adam, looked like a complete buffoon again this episode when he could not close the voting urn thing. Ugg, it is going to be depressing when he ends up winning.
You can download Survivor: Winners at War on iTunes.

Devs: So this tech firm cannot even make believable CGI flames? I get that it was probably rushed and they did not expect anyone to steal it so they could go frame by frame, but c’mon. If you can make a dead guy walk and set himself on fire, flames should be easy.
You can download Devs on iTunes.