Saturday, August 17, 2013

Best of the Week: 8/17/13

Quote of the Week: She trusts me. I’m a cop. (Sonya Cross, The Bridge)

Song of the Week: Ain't No Sunshine – Bill Withers (as sung by Bridget Donovan and Marvin Gaye, Ray Donovan)

Big News of the Week: The Return of Crappy Music: 2013 has been a bad year for music. And not only has there been a lack of great music, there really has not been any horrible music either. Unfortunately we will have to wait a bit longer for some more great music, but horrible music came back with a vengeance this week when both new songs from Katy Perry and Lade Gaga leaked last week and then both rushed to iTunes on Monday.

Both made grand preoccupations of growth and expansions of their sound, Perry even went as far as burning relics from her California Gurls days George Michael style, except when Roar came out, it did not sound all that different from Firework (or Sara Bareilles’s Brave as everyone has pointed). While Lady Gaga has spent the last month trying to out hyperbole Kanye West but where Yeezus actually pushed the envelope for better or worse (I would argue worse) Gaga’s Applause is a crappy disco song that sounds like it got rejected from her first album for not being good enough. It does look like Perry is easily winning the battle of bad music as Roar has kept Applause out of the top slot all week and by Friday Applause had dropped to four after Blurred Lines and some country song.

Thankfully there is some good music on the way to join the stellar album by The Civil Wars next month by Janelle Monáe, Jack Johnson, Elvis Costello & The Roots, and for those looking for pop music that isn’t cheesy and boring, Haim and Lorde are both dropping their full length debut album on the 31 of September.

Preview Picture of the Week:

“Bring Down the Hoe” Pretty Little Liars Tuesday at 8:00 on ABC Family

Free Download of the Week: Pilot - Veronica Mars (iTunes): For those that have wonder what the whole Veronica Mars thing is about since a movie got Kickstarted, you can now watch the Pilot for the low, low price of free. And once you get addicted by watching the first episode, iTunes also currently has all three season at a discount. There is plenty of time to catch up by the time the movie is released.

Deal of the Week: Get twenty-five debut album for a discount including the first albums from Beastie Boys, Counting Crows, Norah Jones, and The Black Keys:

New Album Release of the Week: Paradise Valley - John Mayer

New DVD Release of the Week: Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season

Video of the Week: This week TNT released its first trailer for the upcoming Mob City (formally Lost Angels), the first post-The Walking Dead show from Frank Darabont, which also stars that show’s Jon Bernthal. The fist look makes it seem very stylized, but I could not help but thinking about the underwhelming Gangster Squad while watching this. Still I am still skeptically optimistic. Mob City premieres December 4 on TNT.

Next Week Pick of the Week: Switched at Birth, Monday at 8:00 on ABC Family: It is wedding day on Switched At Birth and I put the odds at the wedding actually happening at fifty-fifty. Maybe the better question is who will be the one to call it off or who will be the people to finally reason with Toby or Nikki that getting married this early may not be the best idea. It probably will not be Daphne who is walking down the path of mutual destruction with Chip Coto. But what bomb could he lob at Daphne that could be as bad as knocking up with an intern? I am guessing her father's heart attack will be coming back into play.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Around the Tubes: 8/16/13

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 The Borgias, The Almighty Johnsons, Fangasm, Black Sabbath, Civil War 360, Jose Brown Group, Rachel Ann Weiss, In the Meantime, Trending Down, and TNT renewals.

- Neil Jordan, creator of the Showtime original series THE BORGIAS, has released a new e-book The Borgia Apocalypse: The Sscreenplay, based on his original, two-hour finale script for the critically-acclaimed period drama. Available via e-retailers now, the e-book provides fans with a final farewell to one of history’s most infamous families. You can download it now on Amazon.

- - Expanding its stable of international hits such as Lost Girl and Continuum, Syfy today announced it has acquired the first two seasons (23 episodes) of the popular New Zealand scripted series The Almighty Johnsons from independent television distributor ALL3MEDIA International. The action-packed comedy drama The Almighty Johnsons follows the Johnson boys, four typical fun-loving guys – who have inherited the power of Norse Gods. But these four brothers are no flashy superheroes. Everyday Gods have everyday struggles – searching for love, overcoming sibling rivalry and fulfilling their God-like destiny – while still enjoying a few beers with their mates. Season 1 of The Almighty Johnsons, consisting of 10 episodes, will premiere on Syfy in 2014.

- Syfy celebrates superfan culture with Fangasm (formerly titled Fandemonium), a new docu-series that follows seven very different people whose niche uber-obsessions run the gamut from comic books and collectibles to science fiction and fantasy to cosplay and live action role playing. Living together and working together at Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo, Los Angeles’ largest pop-culture convention, the cast must contend with each others oversized personalities and conflicting passions as they vie for a opportunities within Lee’s organization. Because when different passions come together – you get a real big bang. Fangasm debuts Tuesday, September 24 at 10:00 on Syfy.

- In celebration of Black Sabbath's nineteenth studio album, 13, Taylor Guitars is giving one lucky fan the opportunity to celebrate with an ultimate sweepstakes. One winner and a guest will fly from the domestic United States to see lead guitarist and Taylor player Tony Iommi and Black Sabbath perform in Las Vegas on September 1, 2013. Guests will enjoy accommodations at the MGM Grand, a Taylor GS Mini guitar signed by Iommi, a signed copy of 13, and a Taylor Guitars prize pack. Now through August 23, fans can enter-to-win by visiting the Taylor Guitars website.

- Smithsonian Channel is set to premiere Civil War 360, a powerfully moving three-part documentary miniseries that explores one of the most divisive eras in American history from multiple perspectives. Celebrity hosts Ashley Judd (“The Union”), Trace Adkins (“The Confederacy”), and Dennis Haysbert (“Fight For Freedom”) each helm an hour-long program that takes viewers back to a time when their ancestors – and those of many viewers -- were involved in the conflict. Through exploration of iconic and often poignant Smithsonian artifacts, the hosts gain insight into their own family’s experiences and uncover new dimensions of our nation’s history. The series debuts on Smithsonian Channel on consecutive Sunday nights at 8:00 beginning October 27, 2013.

- For anyone who likes the jazzy-pop of Harry Connick Jr. will want to give Jose Brown Group a try.

- While fans of female singer-songwriters may want to check out Rachel Ann Weiss.

- UP, America’s favorite channel for uplifting entertainment, presents the UP Original Movie In The Meantime (#InTheMeantime), starring Kali Hawk (Bridesmaids, Couples Retreat), Darrin Dewitt Henson (The Express, “Soul Food”), Terri J. Vaughn (Friday, “The Steve Harvey Show,” “Sugar Mommas”) and Grammy©-nominated artist Musiq Soulchild in his film debut. A romantic comedy with heart, In The Meantime will premiere exclusively on UP on Saturday, August 17, and Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 7, 9 and 11 p.m..

- Noted British actor and BAFTA Award winner Rhys Ifans (The Amazing Spider-Man, Notting Hill) is the most recent actor to join the cast of the SHOWTIME comedy pilot Trending Down. The pilot also stars Oscar® winner Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote) and acclaimed actress Kathryn Hahn (Revolutionary Road) in the lead roles of Thom and Lee Payne. Ifans will star as Thom Payne's (Hoffman) boss, Jonathan Clow. TRENDING DOWN is a blistering attack on our youth-obsessed culture, and centers on Thom Payne, a man facing his own obsolescence after his advertising agency is taken over.

- TNT yesterday renewed is summer programs Rizzoli and Isles, Major Crimes, and Perception (Falling Skies was also re-upped a couple weeks ago). So if you have been enjoying Maxwell and King, Franklin and Bash, and /or The Hero you may want to get prepared for a goodbye.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Previewing America the Wild with Casey Anderson 4.x

Casey Anderson, looking more and more like Jason Mraz these days, returns to Nat Geo Wild this Sunday for the fourth season of America the Wild at 10:00. And this Sunday Casey will be tracking an animal he knows oh so well as they left some teeth in his leg a couple years ago. But the difference between wolves in captivity, which gave Casey his stitches) and wolves in the wild is that the wild ones do not attack humans, they keep their distance from us. Except on Canada’s West Coast where wolf attracts are on the rise and Case and his America the Wild team head there to find out why.

Casey theorizes that these wolves are actually half wolf / half dog called, surprisingly wolf dogs, who are not as scared of humans as their canine ancestors (just think of what happens when you try to take Fido’s food bowl away mid meal). This leads Casey to visit some wolf dogs in captivity who humorous take the fuzzy part of the boom mike from the camera operator and uses it as a chew toy. It is almost as funny as the way Casey tries to obtain DNA, to confirm his beliefs, from what he thinks is wolf dogs in the wild.

Later this season, Casey travels to the American West to see if there is a way for the mountain lion and the bighorn sheep to make peace. Later Casey goes south of the border to the banks of the Rio Usumacinta in Mexico on the hunt of vampire bats in a cave that one caver has dubbed “the torture chamber.” Just the name alone is the reason Casey Anderson has a television and I am content with watching from my couch.

America the Wild with Casey Anderson airs Sundays at 10:00 on Nat Geo Wild. And if you want to go deeper into the show, Casey Anderson will be taking over the National Geographic Instagram account on Sunday to share his personal photos and behind-the-scenes anecdotes from his adventures while shooting the show, follow @natgeochannels to follow along. You can also check out a clip from tonight's episode below:

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Feed Your iPod vol. LXXIV: If its the Beaches

The last album from The Avett Brothers may have just come out last November but the group is gearing up for another release when Magpie and the Dandelion dropping the Ides of October and will be their third straight produced by Rick Rubin. The quick turnaround is not surprising because the album was recorded during the same sessions as The Carpenter. The first time I ever heard The Avett Brothers was during the second season of Friday Night Lights when Landry finally chose Trya over the weird math chick, which, let’s face it, was not much of a chose at all, with If it’s The Beaches playing in the background. (Jason Katims, who was the showrunner for Friday Night Lights also really likes The Avett brothers too because he has already put two of their songs on his other show Parenthood, I wonder how long until they show up at the Lunchenette). To this day, If it’s the Beaches remains my favorite song by the group (with The Battle of Love and Hate a close second, but that is a story for another day) and if you just discover The Avett Brothers when they started working with Rick Rubin, you should go back and check out some of their more passionate earlier work. And if you have never heard of them up to now, you will want to send the next day on their Spotify page. You will not be disappointed.

If it’s the Beaches – The Avett Brothers

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Very Spoilery Review of the Red Dawn Remake

Red Dawn

I have a kinship towards the alumni of Dillon High School so I will support their movies no matter how crappy they are (*cough*The Roommate*cough*). So this past weekend I had a Tyra Collette double feature of G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Red Dawn. I did not have high hopes going into either of them but G.I. Joe was enjoyable, it had Trya, The Rock, Channing Tatum died early on and there was a really cool fight scene on the side of a mountain, so it was an enjoyable two hours for the most part. Sure the film suffered from Blockbuster fatigue where every summer movie for the last five years has to feature at least one city blow up.

Full Discourse Notice: I should not before going into deal about the updated version, I have never seen the 1984 original of Red Dawn and really all I know about the film is from what I learned from the I Love the 80’s segment which was basically telling a story about how much Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey hated each other on that set and how ironic they went on to star together in Dirty Dancing. So if you have not seen the Red Dawn reboot (or The Avengers or Terminator 2), stop reading now or you are about to be spoiled.

Red Dawn started out enjoyable enough, it had Trya, Tim Riggin’s father, Thor, and some cool fight scenes. Sure the plot was flimsy, the way the North Koreans were able to invade an American city with no U.S. military backlash was a little silly and I never figured out why some Americans were in detainment camps while others were able to come and go in the city as they pleased.

But the movie moved into guilty pleasure territory when Jeffery Dean Morgan showed up with his Navy Seal buddies showed up and added some much needed comic relief. They also set up the climactic battle which came to a satisfying finale when Thor killed the big bad Korean who killed his father at the end of the first act with his father’s gun. So all is well, the Wolverines make I back to the base with the piece of technology that will help rid America of the Koreans, Thor goes over to Tyra for a celebratory make out session… and gets shot in the face. What the frack!?!

Obviously the writers wanted to go for a shocking ending and killing off the main protagonist does the twist. But where the surprise twist at the end of, say, Memento, makes you instantly want to watch the movie again as soon as the credits roll, the shock ending only makes people irate. It is bad to kill off the main protagonist just minutes before the ending but you certainly do not kill him off in a surprise attack, at least give him an honorable death like, well, I was going to say Agent Coulson in The Avengers, but he may not have actually died. The only example that is coming off the top of my head was the time The Terminator melted himself down for the good of mankind at the end of T2.

The writers apparently did this so Thor’s douchebag little brother would have this grand transformation from selfish douchebag at the beginning of the film to the leader of the insurgency at the end. But you know what writers; I still did not care about the douchebag brother by the end. If you really needed the douchebag brother to have some grand transformation, how about just shooting Thor in the leg? Then the ending is douchebag brother giving his big speech, then walk off the stage where Thor is in a wheelchair and says to his douchebag brother, “Dad would be proud of you. I am proud of you.” End Movie.

But no, you have to go with the stupid ending. There is a reason no other film kills off the main protagonist a minute before the credits run, because the audience does not want to see it. Instead of the audience telling their friends, “You should go see Red Dawn because of the surprise ending,” they are going to tell them, “Avoid Red Dawn at all costs, it has one of the worst endings of all time.”

Red Dawn gets a Terror Alert Level: Guarded [BLUE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Monday, August 12, 2013

I Want My Music Television: 8/12/13

There have been a couple of videos that have caught my eye lately so I thought I’d give them some love since the death of Musical Television left a void for a forum on the art form. If you are interested in buying the video through iTunes, click the title link (where available). If you are interested in buying the song, look for a link in the analysis.

Hopeless Wanderer – Mumford and Sons

It was a shame someone already told me the video featured Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman, Ed Helms, and Will Forte because I otherwise I wonder how long it would have taken me to realize it was not exactly Mumford and Sons. But I feel bad for the bassist, he just had brain surgery and then gets stuck with Forte, who I think is a full foot shorter than him, as his doppelganger. Was Rhys Ifans not available?

The One That Got Away – The Civil Wars

Just days after dropping their album, The Civil Wars finally got around to releasing a music video for the lead single and not surprisingly it features neither of them as they continue to be on non-speaking terms. But the visuals seems so disconnected from the song. It basically looks like they took outtakes from The Bridge and repurposed it as a music video.

Supersoaker – Kings of Leon

When I first heard that the first single off the new Kings of Leon album was entitled Supersoaker, I thought it was a joke. And when I first listened to it, the chorus was clunky with the silly word stuck in it. But it has grown on my, I do like the “sentimental girls” line, and looking at the beginning of the video, maybe they should have gone with Sentimental Girls as the title of the song instead.

Claudia Lewis – M83

A couple years ago MTV introduced the “Supervideo” to show they still care about music videos, but stopped after four or five and have not done one in a couple years (the last time I featured one in my I Want My Music Television series, a not so subtle dig at the network, was August 2011) but apparently they have relaunched the Supervideo for an M83 song which features some Ramona Flowers knockoff who glows when wet. Alrighty. Maybe MTV should have stayed out of the Supervideo game because not only does no one go to MTV for music videos anymore, certainly no one is going to to watch music videos either. If there is a video on the internet that is not on YouTube, it might as well not even exist.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 8/11/13

Falling Skies: Did they not just kill Karen two episodes ago? Being a sci-fi show I would not be at all surprised if we see her again. Maybe the Karen we saw die was not the real Karen and she was just some sort of real life robot the aliens were able to produce just to mess with the humans. I do not remember if it was ever explained why she still worked with the aliens without the harness on. And I wonder if there will be any resentment from Hal that Maggie killed Karen. Hall did seem shocked by the action even though that was the humane thing to do and really if Hal should be mad at anyone over Karen’s death it should be at his father.

And as creepy as baby Lexi was, school-girl Lexi is even creepier. I thought it was callous of Tom to shot Karen without trying to barter a way to get the bugs out of her, but I turned out Tom has his own creepy witch doctor in the family. I wonder if she will be a gull teenager by the start of next season. It may only make it even more creepy.
You can download Falling Skies on iTunes.

Ray Donovan: One of my longstanding pet peeves on television are dream sequences and drug trips are a corollary to that, but really, even I cannot hate a drug trip that features a monkey. But I was a bid disappointed that the cop that pulled him over did not morph into The Terminator as he was talking to the agent. And I did complain at the start of the show that I feared it would devolve into cheesy fake celebrity problems that Ray would have to solve every week (which thankfully for the most part it has not) that NBA lottery plan was disturbingly brilliant.

Under the Dome: So at the center of the town (which for some reason is a secluded wooded area, not downtown like normal cities) is a mini dome which encases an egg. Alrighty.
You can stream Under The Dome exclusively on Amazon Instant Video, free for Prime members.

Siberia: It is a little bothersome that the show does not notice the little things. There was an actual scene where the one chick is hunting for deer with the cameraman walking right in front of her. Seriously. No cameraman on a real reality show would walk directly in front of someone with a bow cocked back. At least the show moved the plot forward with the disappearance of everyone on the crew, aside from the cameramen on duty. But then that begs the question, what happened to the faux lesbian who “left” earlier in the day. Did she really make it out just before everything went down, or was she just wondering around for the day? Granted it is highly suspicious that we did not get to see her leave, so I have a feeling she may have been captured by the creepy kids lurking around.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Siberia on iTunes.

Pretty Little Liars: It looks like I was right, that Mona would essentially plea insanity and find herself back at the mental institution. I wonder if they will heighten security this stay after she admitting to sneaking out multiple times during her last stint.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Pretty Little Liars on iTunes.

The Bridge: Wow, that discussion on serial killers was profound. Too bad I had to read it. And as much as I find that Sonia lives somewhere on the autism spectrum, that meal with the family was actually entertaining in its uncomfortableness. Poor Marco, you really cannot come up with a good example as to why your wallet falls out of your pants innocently. The best thing I could come up with would be to cut a hole in your back pocket and hope she buys it just happened to bust while at the home of another woman to have her sign documents.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download The Bridge on iTunes.

The Challenge: Rivals II: The biggest problem with shows like this is that voting is extremely predictable (Survivor tried to shake things up with the addition of the Hidden Immunity Idol, but it really has only affected the outcome of a Tribal Council three or four times; I am pretty sure more people have gone home with an Idol in their pocket then have been saved by one) so it is always entertaining when a vote goes disastrously bad like when Teresa “threw away” her vote on her hook up LeRoy only for half the people after her following her lead and also voting for LeRoy, sending him into The Jungle. Not that it ended up mattering because LeRoy was saved by an even more rare occurrence with a disqualification in an elimination round (the only other time I remember this happening was to CT who crushed someone as he usually does, only to be sent home on a technicality).
You can download The Challenge: Rivals II on iTunes.