Saturday, May 02, 2020

Around the Tubes: May 2, 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 RAMY, Trying, One Day at a Time, Oh Wonder, Shannon LaBrie, Noah Kahan, Ingrid Michaelson, The Clash, POV, Long Gone By, Basketball County: In The Water, and Batwoman.

- Check out the official trailer for season two of Hulu’s critically-acclaimed comedy series RAMY starring Golden Globe® Award-winner Ramy Youssef! All 10 episodes of RAMY season two premiere on Friday, May 29th on Hulu.

- All Jason and Nikki want is a baby. But it's the one thing they just can't have. Starring BAFTA nominee Esther Smith, SAG nominee Rafe Spall, alongside BAFTA Award winner Imelda Staunton, Trying is a new comedy series about growing up, settling down and finding someone to love. The complete first season (eight episodes) of "Trying" available now.

- Pop TV announced a first of its kind One Day at a Time animated special. “In my 97 years, I've never known of a multicam comedy to animate a single episode as a special. Even this I get to experience," remarked legendary producer Norman Lear. The critically acclaimed Sony Pictures Television series premiered in March and has grown its ratings week-over-week, setting a new season high with its fourth episode on April 14th . In response to COVID-19, production was put on hold so executive producer and co-showrunner Gloria Calderón Kellett landed on the idea of an animated special. Production will be completed remotely and will premiere later this spring.

- Oh Wonder releases “I Like It When You Love Me,” the latest installment from their Home Tapes series—listen HERE! Home Tapes sees the widely loved London duo write, record, produce and release brand new music direct from isolation. The band also shares the video for their recently released track, “Keep On Dancing” (a song inspired by Josephine having to cancel her birthday party), which once again sees the duo use fan-created footage of their own lockdown birthday parties from across the globe—watch HERE!

- Shannon LaBrie has released a new single, “Firewalker;” a powerful track about survival, co-written by LaBrie, Tia Sillers, and Joe Robinson. The new song, produced by multi-Grammy Award-winners, Brent Maher and Charles Yingling, is now available on all digital retailers and can be found HERE. “Firewalker” along with its quarantine versioned music video premiered with Guitar Girl Magazine (HERE) and was chosen as a Daily Discovery for American Songwriter (HERE).

- Singer, songwriter Noah Kahan surprises fans with a new EP, Cape Elizabeth, out now—listen HERE! Returning to his hometown of Strafford, VT during quarantine, Kahan recorded and produced Cape Elizabeth where his music career began. He enlisted his friend, Phin Choukas, to co-produce the project, as they worked out of the Choukas family home where Noah “grew up making music in the same house, same vocal studio and with the same guitar.” Within six days and “without overthinking anything,” Kahan completed the five-track EP.

- UMe, the global catalog company of Universal Music Group and Spirit Music Group, one of the world’s leading independent music publishing companies, today announced they have entered into a worldwide deal for the physical and digital distribution of the majority of acclaimed singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson’s catalog. Spirit Music Group acquired the majority of Michaelson’s publishing and masters in 2019. The distribution deal with UMe will encompass hits “The Way I Am,” “Be OK,” “You and I,” and “Girls Chase Boys,” as well as eight albums, including Girls & Boys (2006), Be OK (2008), Snowfall EP (2017), Everybody (2009), Human Again (2012), Lights Out (2014) and a corresponding deluxe edition, It Doesn’t Have To Make Sense (2016), and Alter Egos EP (2017). It also includes all of Michaelson’s non-album singles released during this period as well as her highly popular official music videos.

- Called “The Only Band That Matters” in the 1980s, it is only fitting that ABC-TV’s hit comedy The Goldbergs, a show about a suburban family growing up in the 80s, will pay homage to The Clash in an all-new episode entitled “The Fake Out” on Wednesday, May 6 at 8 p.m. In the episode Barry Goldberg, hoping to win the affection of Ren, the girl of his dreams, attempts to score tickets to see the Clash in concert. While he is unsuccessful, Ren presents Barry with a Clash T-shirt which he proudly dons for the episode. At the conclusion of the show, the two attend a Clash concert, dancing to their hit “Should I Stay Or Should I Go.” Formed in 1976 in the vanguard of British punk, The Clash would soon become the most iconic rock band of their era, a symbol of intelligent protest and stylish rebellion in the turbulent years of the late ’70s and early ’80s. Just as importantly, they were to become unflinching musical pioneers, integrating first militant reggae, then dub, funk, jazz and hip hop into their music, which has helped to make them one of the most respected and sampled bands by modern DJs and dance musicians.

- POV’s historic 33rd season kicks off with Linda Goldstein Knowlton’s We Are The Radical Monarchs on July 20 at 9 p.m., available to stream on all PBS platforms, including, the PBS Video App and The documentary, which debuted at SXSW Film Festival 2019, follows a group of young girls of color on the frontlines of social justice. Radical Monarchs co-founders Anayvette Martinez and Marilyn Hollinquest—two queer women of color and working mothers—share their journey as they grow the group in Oakland, a city with a deep history of organizing movements. “I think self-empowerment and self-worth for young girls of color is really critical, and it’s really lacking,” says Martinez. “How do we create alternative spaces where that can happen?”

- HBO is poised to premiere the feature film Long Gone By, starring Erica Muñoz who is also the associate producer, directed by Andrew Morgan and produced by Emily Morgan. The film will air on HBO Latino linear channel at 8pm, Friday May 1, 2020, and on digital platforms, HBO NOW, HBO On Demand and HBO GO. Origianally premiered at HBO's New York Latino Film Festival last summer, Long Gone By, tells the tale of Ana Alvarez, a single mother from Nicaragua living in Warsaw, Indiana with her teenage daughter, Izzy. When a routine check in leads to a deportation order, life as Ana knows it ends. The timing could not be worse as Izzy has just been accepted to Indiana University, a dream that becomes a nightmare when she discovers that because of her immigration status she will not qualify for the needed scholarships or federal aid. Faced with an impossible reality of a lifetime away from her daughter, Ana decides to risk everything in a last chance effort to leave Izzy's tuition paid before her time runs out. An intimately unnerving portrait of a woman willing to sacrifice everything to give her daughter the chance at a life she never had.

Long Gone By :: teaser from Untold on Vimeo.

- Showtime Sports has released the official trailer and poster for the upcoming documentary film Basketball County: In The Water, premiering Friday, May 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime. A collaboration with NBA star Kevin Durant and sports business executive Rich Kleiman’s Thirty Five Ventures, BASKETBALL COUNTY examines how Durant’s hometown of Prince George’s County, Md., has recently produced more elite basketball players than anywhere else in the world.

- The future of Gotham is in her hands with the release of Batwoman: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray and DVD on August 18, 2020 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Strap yourself in for an exhilarating ride with all 20 episodes from the first season, plus The Best of DC TV’s Comic-Con Panels San Diego 2019, deleted scenes and a gag reel. A limited-edition bonus disc featuring all five DC Crossover Event Crisis on Infinite Earths episodes will be available exclusively for fans who purchase the Blu-ray. Batwoman: The Complete First Season is priced to own at $39.99 SRP for the DVD ($44.98 in Canada) and $44.98 SRP for the Blu-ray ($49.99 in Canada), which includes a Digital Copy (U.S. only). Batwoman: The Complete First Season is also available to own on Digital via purchase from digital retailers.

Friday, May 01, 2020

Previewing Billions: Season Five

Did Billions tease us just how the show will end during the season four finale when Taylor said, “They’re both lined up to destroy each other. At the right moment, when both of their guns are raised, I’ll step out of the way and let it happen.” The first two seasons saw the U.S. District Attorney Chuck Rhodes and Hedge Fund manager Bobby Axelrod tried to bring each other down even through mutual assured destruction. They called a truce when their respective protégées tried to stop this war because they were losing site of everything else.

At the end of season four, the duo got Chuck’s protégé Brian Connerty to break the law in attempt to bring him down (which is ironic considering Connerty’s biggest gripe against Chuck was that he was willing to break the law to bring down Axe). While Axe’s protégé had to come back to his company after Axe crushed the fledgling new shop. Now with those problems vanquished, it is time to turn their sight back at each other and Chuck fires the first shot when asking Taylor to be a mole, who, as seen by the quote has plans of her own.

Axe on the other hand starts the new season acting like the truce is still going on. Granted he is too blind to see Chuck’s behind the scenes scheming because he has a new antagonist on the scene as he enters the Deca Club (for ten billion dollar club, although I am not sure how they distinguish between that and the ten million dollar club, or just billion because that is ten digits, I may have went with the Hendeca Club myself, but I digress). He is joined in the club by Corey Stoll (The Strain) who is the current face of the Deca Club who seems to be as worthy of an advisory as Chuck Rhodes.

Also popping up this season is Julianna Margulies (The Hot Zone) as a professor at the college Chuck decides to teach a class at. Sure it is a little weird that the sitting Attorney General of the state is teaching law, but hey, not the weirdest thing I have ever seen on television. Frank Grillo (The Purge: Election Year) also shows up as an aloof painter who finds himself in the middle of a feud between Axe and Stoll. Granted both guest stars seem to be brought in to help further separate the Rhodes marriage that was severely fractured last season. Granted the most interested guest stars are the random actors that are brought into a storyline involving Wags.

Will Taylor actually end this season standing over the bodies of Chuck and Axe? Sure, it will be a while until we find out because the Caronapocalypse delayed production so only the first seven episodes will air in this run with the last five will return (hopefully) this fall. It is teased, but five seasons in, it is hard to think anyone but Chuck or Axe will be the ones to bring down Chuck and/or Axe. The best Taylor can do is like she suggests, just step to the side when the guns do go off.

Billions airs Sundays at 9:00 on Showtime.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Previewing Normal People

When Hulu first announced an adaptation of Sally Rooney’s book Normal People, my first thought was cool, this kind of sounds like an Irish version of another literary adaptation they had just done, Looking for Alaska. The show based on the John Greene novel was a quintessential teen based television show by Josh Schwartz, the guy who pretty much invented the new millennium teen drama. That show started with a car crash before transitioning into The Killers’ All These Things I’ve Done and never let up with zippy dialogue, loud songs, and always something to catch your eye.

Normal People, it turns out, is the furthest thing from Looking for Alaska as you can get. Teen drama is about the only thing the two shows have in common. Where Looking for Alaska starts with a big set piece and a great pop song, Normal People just starts. The start is so subdued, a couple minutes into it I had to look to make sure I clicked the first episode to play. There are no big pop songs, or really songs at all in the series premiere except what sort of sounds like a muffled Chvrches song during a party. Music is used very sparingly throughout the season, there is not a proper montage set to music until the fifth episode. Then when you think they are going to do more traditional television music scene with Carly Rae Jepsen or Selena Gomez, those songs only last for maybe five seconds.

Instead the show starts what looks like in the middle of a school day. Maybe it was the first time Marianne (who could pass as a younger Anne Hathaway) catches the eye of Connell or maybe vice versa. He is a jock while she is a nerdy girl with an attitude, though still plenty pretty, this is not an absurd She’s All That story. Of course that was another flashy blockbuster teen movie; Normal People is much more of the indie film version of a television show. All the character are very subdued and quit except for Marianne’s bother that seems like he is antagonist from a Nicholas Sparks movie, but he is even in maybe five scenes throughout the season.

Normal People, for twelve half hour or less episodes, follow Marianne and Connell as they come in and out of each other’s lives over the course of maybe four years. Roles get reversed as the characters transition to college with Marianne, with a more flattering haircut, is now the popular one with Connell, no longer the sports star but a struggling writer is having troubles fitting in.

Oh, and then there is the sex. Lots and lots of sex. Half of the second episode is pretty much just the first sexual encounter. Sometime awkward, sometimes kinky when one of them starts dabbling in BDSM, but always a little too real. They do tease what I thought was going to tease what I though was going to be a Chekov’s threesome but clearly one of the leads is just not as adventurous as the other, which probably leads to them to drift apart.

While never flashy, Normal People is at the very least always compelling. They play with the limited time length very well, twelves half hour episodes does seem to work a lot better than had they tried six hour length episodes because any longer and I feel like I may had been tempted to peak at my phone. I liked it better when the characters left their native county to go to Italy and elsewhere but it is always at its best when the two main character are together.

All episodes of Normal People are available on Hulu starting today.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

57 Channels and Only This Is On: April 26, 2020

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist: C’mon, how are you gonna singe Here I Go without draping someone across the hood of a car? But anyway. I knew the title of the episode was Zoey’s Extraordinary Outburst, but oh my goodness did she go off on everyone harder than I was expecting. You just do not see a protagonist get that raw very often. Though very realistic because if you have to watch a loved one slowly die, you are about to explode eventally.
You can download Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist on iTunes.

Killing Eve: Oh hey, Yara Greyjoy. Weird her smile.

Homeland: Well, Russian dude just ramped things up really quickly. Now, I could see Carrie sell out Saul to get that asset to retrieve the black box, but kill Saul? Oh my. That would be going out with a bang in the final season. Though I could see Carrie killing Saul, getting the black box, and then the final shot being a not very dead Saul.

Good Girls: I have long thought they should have gotten rid of the gang banger and brought in a new big bad every season to freshen things up. I really hope the sniper actuvlly kills him and then they have to spend a season trying to pay off the rest of the bill. That guy was a hoot.
You can download Good Girls on iTunes.

Little Fires Everywhere: Well, that was unexpected. I believe the first line of dialogue was Lexi saying that Elena would find a way to blame this on Izzy. Well, of course, she was the one who dosed her stuff with gasoline first. I never really suspected the kids mostly because of that line. But the fire really took a back seat to the trial, but that ended anti-climatically as we did not even get to see the verdict being read, just the aftermath. I guess I should have seen the ending to that storyline coming as it pretty much line up with Mia’s story of stealing a child and living a life on the run. But what the whole, once a human touches a baby bird its mother rejects it, supposed to be a metaphor for Izzy with Mia and that is why Izzy bolted? Elena seemed to pretty much give up on Izzy long before Mia showed up. I wonder of Reece will try to squeeze another season out of this show like she did Big Little Lies. You could also have a search for Izzy and Maribelle but I am not sure how you can work in Mia and Pearl, cannot imagine they ever set foot in Shaker Heights ever again. Well, unless Pearl really did end up getting knocked up by Tripp and she felt guilty enough to keep the baby and did not want her kid to grow up without knowing her father. I am sure I would watch.
You can stream Little Fires Everywhere Hulu.

Survivor: Winners at War: We have had plenty of dumb player on the show that give up immunity, try to play fake Idols, vote for the wrong player which results them getting voted out but I figured on an all winner season we would not get many dumb movie. But I was shocked this week when not one, not two, but three people who somehow won this game gave a Fire Token to Tony. Okay, I could sort of get Jeremy who was in clear danger, but Nick and Ben have absolutely no reason to do this. I hope they at least got their tokens back that Tony then won.

Then Tony came up with the most convoluted plan. Instead of getting Kim and Denise who was with Jeremy the previous week, he goes with a three split vote to get out Sophie. Again, everyone he pitched it to were dumb enough to go along with it. Seriously, how did Nick win his season again? He has been nonexistent this season only to pop up to be creepy or make dumb moves.
You can download Survivor: Winners at War on iTunes.

The Challenge: Total Madness: Why was everyone ganging up on Ashley? It was Mattie who fired the first shot by saying Ashley had worse things in her mouth. That seems worse than what Ashley said. If you do not want people to bring up your prison time, do not do anything that will and you in prison. Mattie slut shaming was a lot worse in my book.

In the Dark: Oh yeah, I forgot about the blind chick’s other evil boyfriend. She sure knows how to pick them. I somehow think he will not be leaving Chicago. But I was surprised the Queen Pin did not ask for proof that the other guy took care of him. Aren’t you supposed to ask for a finger when you kill someone?

The Blacklist: There have been weirder Blacklisters, but a dude who inseminates prostitutes with dead men sperm to extort their family for money has to be pretty high on the list. Then the twist of actually keeping the babies made it even weirder. It looked like there was a teenager there which means he has been doing this for a very long time. But what is going on with Ressler? Have we met hi brother before? Do we know what he did?
You can download The Blacklist on iTunes.