Saturday, August 07, 2010

So What Is it Like to Be the Guy who Used to Be Tim Riggins

There is no better line that sums up season four of Friday Night Lights than, “What’s it like to be the guy who used to be Tim Riggins?” All the returning cast members seemed to be shells of their former selves (with the exception of Tami Taylor who looks will be making her downgrade next season). Tim was an all too familiar site in Texas high school football, they guy who peaks in high school and can’t seem to find his way without it.

Along those lines, Matt Saresen also stays in town only to get mocked by the guy who took his spot on the team when delivering pizza. While their former coach gets forced out of his cushy job of a perennial State contender to the other side of the tracks where he can barely field a team. And the only white students that end up in East Dillon just happen to be Landry Clarke and Julie Taylor, but all their friends graduated anyways.

With all the grand sendoffs over the last two seasons; Jason Street moves closer to his kid, Smash Williams gets a scholarship to play football, Tyra Collette emotional acceptance into UT (yet doesn’t even warrant a mention at her absence at Thanksgiving), Matt riding off into the sunset after the death of his father; it is striking how Tim gets his send off, walking into the sheriff’s office to take full responsibility for the chop shop, so his brother can stay on the outside and raise his boy.

Where most shows are not even able to integrate one new character into a show, Friday Night Lights managed to do just that with three new faces in Dillon. Becky Spoles started out as comedic foil with a sharp tongue to jab Tim Riggins at every turn. But the more we learned about her, the mother who isn’t there enough to the dad who isn’t ever there to her scenes with Tami, she brought the emotional weight I just was not expecting at the beginning of the season. Here’s hoping, even with Riggins in prison, she is brought back next season with something to do, and with Tami taking a councilor gig over at East Dillon, it shouldn’t be too hard to do.

On the field, there was Vince Howard, a boy on his last strike, given his last chance at life in exchange for playing football in the newly resurrected Lions. But Vince had a good reason to turn his life to crime, to support his mother who cannot support herself due to her drug habit. It was emotionally wrecking to watch him try to balance his former life of crime, his mother’s struggle with sobriety, being the guy that Coach expects him to be, as well as being the guy that his childhood friend Jess Merriweather can date. That is a lot of weight to put on the shoulders of a high school student and Vince was almost able to pull it all off.

Jess herself seemed to start off as a throwaway character, just an object of Vince and Landry’s affection. But she had her own demons to exercise in the form of her father; a former Lions star that no longer can even watch the game, not even his boys’ peewee games no matter how much Jess tries to persuade him but eventually finds himself rooting for the Lions and his boys with the help of Jess and Coach.

With everyone taken down a notch in the early episodes, redemption was a big theme of the season, most notably that of Coach Taylor. Just two seasons removed from winning a state champion, Taylor is pushed out by a wealthy booster and resigned to take the job at the newly opened East Dillon because the last time he took a job away from his family didn’t work out very well. The transition took him from coaching future college players to former convicts and the road was a bumpy one.

Just yelling “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts…” was not going to work and it took a couple weeks for Coach to realize this. But slowly he won people over, from couple coaches, to Buddy Garrity (who hilariously got the Lions games broadcasted on a Spanish language radio station) to finally the players themselves as coach himself learned that he could not put these players into his system, but to create a new system around them, managing to win a couple games, and the big win against West Dillon (with the Dillon mayor on the Panther’s sideline) with what may have been the first ever game winning field goal in the history of Hollywood created football games. But Landry needed some redemption of his own.

Friday Night Lights gets a Terror Alert Level: Severe [RED] on my Terror Alert Scale. You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Friday Night Lights on iTunes.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Around the Tubes vol. LXI

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 And Man Created Dog, My Child Is a Monkey, Eldebrock, Shaquille O’Neil, Pretty Little Liars, and True Blood.

- If you ever wonder how dogs became man’s best friend and went from wolves to the most diverse species on the planet will want to check out the very detailed explanation given by the National Geographic Channel on the special this Sunday at 9:00 called And Man Created Dog. Below is a clip:

The Start of the Domestic Dog

- For those that prefer monkeys over canines may instead want to watch My Child Is a Monkey on Nat Geo Wild tonight at 9:00. Here is a preview:

- For fans of Nickelback, Three Days Grace and Theory of a Deadman, you will want to check out new band Eldebrock. Their single Release Me is out on iTunes now and their self titled debute is out September 15. The band created the campaign, World War on Cancer, and will commit $1 per album (.10 cents per song sold) to support the UICC’s (International Union Against Cancer) fight against cancer.

- No athlete has exploited social media more than Shaquille O’Neil (who recently went to his Twitter page to challenge Jim Rome to a boxing match after Rome criticized Shaq on his show) and here is an interview of his on about the subject of social media.

- Others on the Twitter is Marlene King, executive producer of Pretty Little Liars will be participating on a Tweet-Chat next Tuesday at 7:00 right before the mid-season finale. Follow @ABCFamily, @ABCFpll, and use the hashtag #PLLchat to join the chat.

- New episode of True Blood this Sunday at 9:00 on HBO. Here is a preview:

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Most Anticipated Films of the Next Year

Last week’s Comic Con got me thinking of which movies I am most looking forward to and so I came up with this list. I did limit the list to movies with a release date within the next year (sorry Avengers, though it may not have made the list anyway because I have been more of a DC Comics guy, which begs the question, whatever happened to the Justice League movie). Here are the top ten I am most looking forward to (note release dates are subject to change).

10. Everything You’ve Got (December 17): I really do not know anything about this movie other than it reteams Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd. It’s only been twelve years since Overnight Delivery (everyone remembers that movie right?).

9. Green Hornet (January 14): Seth Rogan really would not be my first choice for any superhero, but let’s face it, Kato was always the star of the show anyway. And Michel Gondry (all the great White Stripes videos) directs.

8. Machete (September 3): The first two Grindhouse movies were cheesy, low-budget fun so expect much of the same from this one.

7. Let Me In (October 1): This isn’t you younger sister’s lame vampire flick. I have yet seem the Swedish movie this is based on due to my dislike of reading (though Let the Right One In is a much cooler title), but the critics raved about it and this version stars Hit Girl as the fanged one that requests the title phrase.

6. Easy A (September 17): Let’s go ahead and file this one under guilty pleasure already.

5. It’s Kind of a Funny Story (September 24): For those that jumped on the Zach Galifinakas bandwagon after The Hangover might be disappointed by this film (if so, wait for Due Date), but being a fan dating back to his VH1 show, I am much more excited about this that an overhyped blockbuster. Though Emma Robert’s hair looks way too good to be a mental patient (but not as egregious as Mila Kunis in The Book of Eli whose hair looked immaculate despite the lack of conditioner for most of her life).

4. Thor (May 6): As previously mentioned I do not care too much with the Marvel lineup of comic book heroes, but I was a fan of Adventures in Babysitters and the little girl (whatever happened to her?) was obsessed with Thor. Plus Natalie Portman returns to nerdom for the first time since Star Wars ended.

3. You Again (September 24): Sign me up for anything Kristen Bell does, no matter how cheesy it looks. And as an added bonus, Betty White, Kristin Chenowith and Victor Garber also star.

Sucker Punch (March 25): Hot chicks with guns in a mental hospital during the fifties? How exactly is this not number one? Oh yeah…

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (August 13): Every once in a very rare while does something come out that you feel was written specifically for you. For me that has only happened twice: High Fidelity and Wonderfalls. From the look of the trailers, this movie may be the third.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Previewing Dark Blue 2.x

Dylan McDermott and Tricia Helfer of Dark Blue

As the name may suggest, Dark Blue aims for the darker underbelly of police work. Where other cop shows of its ilk like to also play up the glitzier parts of cities like Las Vegas, Miami and New York City, Dark Blue stays on the grittier side of the tracks of Los Angeles for better or worse because even on basic cable, they still cannot cross that preverbal line that stories on the big screen can.

Season two opens up with a new player in town, Tricia Helfer (Canada’s Next Top Model) as a FBI Agent who pulls rank, much to Carter Shaw’s dismay, when their respected cases intersect leading to the two butting heads in more ways than one. Carter’s team remains in tack; Ty slips further away from his wife with her recent promotion who he cannot share his adrenaline rush.

In the second episode of the night, Dean gets a little too close for comfort to a mark’s daughter, the form of Fast and Furious star Jordana Brewster, which may hamper the case. Then in next week’s episode Jaimie gets to babysit an informant released from jail to help the team who, in a rare comedic moment in the show, seems more interested in scoring some conjugal time on the outside then helping her out.

Dark Blue airs Wednesdays at 9:00 on TNT. You can stream recent episodes on You can also download Dark Blue on iTunes.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Long Ago, in the Beautiful Kingdom of Hyrule...

Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Where most of the early Nintendo games were your basic side scrolling fair, Legend of Zelda was the first game I remember that seemed epic and even featured a sort of open world that many of the best games today utilize where you could go anywhere in the world to fight baddies and find hidden items and not take a linier path like other games at the time. The game was also one of the first with worth wild replayability where you can, once beating the game, play it again with a completely different map in the same game.

But much like the second Super Mario Bros., the second installment Zelda II: The Adventure of Link was a misstep as it moved from its predecessors patented bird’s eye view to a duel, role playing overhead map where enemies can randomly attack you, and the overused side scrolling for towns, battles and other dungeons and such. And the side scrolling was so frustrating I still, to this day, never conquered the game.

But all was forgiven with the first Zelda title on the Super Nintendo, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past which went back to the top down perspective of the first installment but utilized ever of the sixteen bits the console had to offer with its cartoony. And where in the original game, you had to defeat the game before you got a whole new world to play; A Link to the Past actually had two different playable worlds (the Light and Dark Worlds) that you had to navigate to beat the game.

As video games moved to the thirty-two bit version, I moved over to Sony’s Playstation console ending my run of the Nintendo exclusive Zelda franchise. But even in all its sixteen bit glory, A Link to the Past remains one of the best video games ever made and this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame.