Saturday, October 05, 2013

Best of the Week: 8/5/13

Quote of the Week: What is it you’re smoking Ms. Masterson? (Senator Andrew Lockhart, Homeland)

Song of the Week: Gonna Get Even – Layla Grant (Nashville)

Scene of the Week:

Big News of the Week: Believeland: Forget the government shutdown, there is bigger news this week: the Cleveland Browns are alone in first place for the first time in maybe two decades!!! Things looks grim here in Cleveland after the Browns traded away their top three pick from just last year (which also cost them another late round pick to boot) for what will probably be a draft pick in the teens next year signifying the sixth rebuilding year of the past fourteen seasons. Except after they traded Trent Richardson, the won two straight games to earn them a tie in the AFC Central and with a Thursday Night Football game could get them a sole place at the top with a win.

But this is Cleveland and nothing is easy. Brain Hoyer, who looked competent in his first two starts, made the most awkward looking slide ever in the first quarter which landed him a torn ACL and out for the season. So back in was Brandon Weeden, the sophomore quarterback who turns thirty later this year. Yep God hates Cleveland. Except the Buffalo quarterback got injured himself, and the Bill backup managed to be worse than Brandon completing only around five passes, and one of those was to cornerback TJ Ward, cliching the Browns win. So seriously President Obama and House Republicans, if the Cleveland Browns can be in first place during the fifth week of the season, you can hammer out a way to get the government up and running again.

Preview Picture of the Week:

"Heavy Petting" The League, Wednesday at 10:30 on FXX

Free Download of the Week: Ribs – Lorde (iTunes): Get the fifth best song off of Pure Heroine for free. But really, just buy the whole album. You can read why in my review: I'm Kinda of Over Being Told to Throw My Hands in the Air.

Deal of the Week: 100 Albums for $5: This months discounted album on Amazon MP3 include Greatest Hits packages from Tom Petty, Boyz II Men, Bruce Springsteen, and DMX.

New Album Release of the Week: Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song - Amos Lee

New DVD Release of the Week: Lifeguard

Video of the Week: When I think of great reality moments, I always go back to the time CT wore Johnny Bananas as a backpack on The Challenge. This week’s Immunity Challenge on Survivor may make the list. Sure we have seen this exact challenge before on the show, the sumo pillow fight over the water or mud, but this is the first time we have seen it with relatives going against each other. There we only three same sex loved ones left on the show but they all went up against each other (I am glad Colton quit earlier in the episode, but I would have loved to see him go against Caleb, or even better NFL lineman Brad, in this). First up you have Vytas cheap shot his brother Aras and still lose, and then you had two mothers beat their daughters half their age. Laura beating Ciera was a bit understandable, Ciera is so small got knocked off the platform when Kat just sneezed on her, but Katie has over twenty-five years on her mother, a couple inches, and a quite few pounds on her mother and still lost. This was really the first time I did not hate the Blood vs. Water theme. For reference, to skip the less interesting undercard, the Ciera vs. Kat battle start at 3:00.

Next Week Pick of the Week: Once Upon a Time: Wonderland, Thursday at 8:00 on Thursday on ABC: The Once Upon a Time spin-off was originally conceived as a filler show for when the main show went on winter hiatus, but the people at ABC liked it so much that they gave it a full order and a spot on its fall lineup, one that is not even on the same night as the original show. Of course it did not like it enough to give it a better spot on it schedule than Thursdays at 8:00 where the network has failed to launch a new drama since Ugly Betty moved out of the spot in 2009. And the promos make me wonder what exactly what the execs saw because the CGI heavy sets do not look very good and instead of a Once Upon a Time spin-off, it looks like a television adaptation of Sucker Punch (which was conceived as Alice in Wonderland with guns but panned by critics).

Friday, October 04, 2013

Around the Tubes: 10/4/13

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 Valentine Road, Homeland, Austin City Limits, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Great Performances, 13 Nights of Halloween, The Incredible Bionic Man, Living Well with Montel Williams, and Musicwood.

- HBO Documentary Films presents a weekly series this fall, debuting provocative new specials every Monday from October 7 through December 9. The first documentary starting at 9:00 Monday is Valentine Road which explores a middle school murder and its complicated aftermath. Check out a trailer below:

- If you missed it when it aired, The season three premiere episode of Homeland can be seen on the Showtime website, on YouTube, via select television providers' free On Demand channels and websites, on Showtime on Demand® and Showtime Anytime®. The season three premiere is also available on Showtime apps on iPhone®, iPod Touch®, Android smartphones and tablets, Nook® and Kindle Fire tablets, and for download as a free video podcast on iTunes.

- Austin City Limits launches its 39th Season with two of the biggest acts in Latin music today, Juanes and Jesse & Joy. Colombian superstar Juanes headlines the episode, performing a thrilling high energy set, while Mexico City’s sibling duo Jesse & Joy sing a selection of their breakthrough hits. The season premiere—the first to feature Latin artists in the debut episode—airs Saturday, October 5th and showcases ACL's long-standing commitment to feature the best in music from around the world. ACL airs on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings for times) and the full episode will be made available online at immediately following the initial broadcast.

- Ever want to hang out with the gang from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia? Omaze and the cast of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia are teaming up to offer one lucky winner and a friend the chance to be flown into LA to visit the set, hang with the cast, watch an episode of the hit show, and of course, grab a drink at Paddy’s afterwards. The winner and their friend will learn how “The Gang” came to be, what it takes to launch and star in a hit comedy, and what it’s like to indulge in a little happy hour at an imaginary bar with real people. Roundtrip airfare and hotel arrangements are included, so all that is needed is a love for Los Angeles and a sense of humor (assuming some heroic efforts, wisecrack jokes, and Hawaiian shirts are included on set). The best part about this experience is that every entry helps the Wounded Warrior Project empower veterans recovering from combat wounds. You can enter HERE by October 18th, 2013 for their chance to win!

- The seven-week 2013 PBS Arts Fall Festival premieres Friday, October 18 with Great Performances “40th Anniversary Celebration,” a performance special that honors the iconic series with a star-studded concert at New York’s Lincoln Center. October 25 brings A Raisin in the Sun Revisited: The Raisin Cycle at Center Stage, which explores the impact of the groundbreaking play, as well as the onstage and backstage drama as Baltimore’s Center Stage company mounts two contemporary plays inspired by the original work. On November 1, Great Performances “Moby-Dick from San Francisco Opera” captures composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer’s acclaimed adaptation of the classic Herman Melville novel with Texas-born tenor Jay Hunter Morris as the obsessive Captain Ahab.

- ABC Family has launched the “Ravenswood Reveal” app, which will release exclusive Ravenswood content every day leading up to the series premiere on October 22 at 9/8c. Also, during the East Coast broadcasts of the “Pretty Little Liars” Halloween special and the “Ravenswood” series, star Tyler Blackburn will be answering fan questions on the Ravenswood Facebook page.

The special episode of Pretty Little Liars and the premiere of Ravenswood are part of ABC Family’s 13 Nights of Halloween and you can check out the full slate of programming below (click to enlarge):

ABC Family's 13 Nights of Halloween

- Smithsonian Channel is the exclusive U.S. television home to chronicle the behind-the-scenes story of the world’s first real Bionic Man – a 6-foot-tall robot built entirely from bionic body parts and implantable synthetic organs – complete with a functioning circulatory system. The result of billions of dollars of research and featuring components borrowed from some of the world's leading laboratories, The Incredible Bionic Man shows how far we’ve come in efforts to simulate the human body. A new one-hour documentary about the ambitious project premieres on Smithsonian Channel on Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 9:00.

- Popular, Emmy-winning author and motivational speaker Montel Williams debuts his uniquely inspirational/motivational new show Living Well with Montel Williams via an online portal, as VOD, utilizing new media as the platform to deliver high quality, subject specific content relating to health and wellness. What viewers will recognize as traditional daytime format will be paired with in-depth educational content designed to provide a more complete user experience on

Musicwood, an acclaimed environmental/music documentary directed by Maxine Trump, opens in NYC on November 1 at the Quad Cinema. The film will also have limited screenings in markets around the country including Seattle and Chicago (dates / times available here). Musicwood is an adventure-filled journey and political thriller with music at its heart. The film follows a group of the most famous guitar-makers in the world – Bob Taylor of Taylor Guitars, Chris Martin of Martin Guitars and Dave Berryman of Gibson Guitars – as they venture into the remote Alaskan rainforest on a mission to protect the Sitka Spruce tree. Essential for the creation of high-quality acoustic guitars, old-growth Sitka Spruce are disappearing at an alarming rate as Native American loggers are clear-cutting enormous strips of the Tongass National Forest.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Previewing Witches of East End: A Dude's Review of Lifetime vol. III

The cast of Witches of Est End
In a measure of full disclose, I should first state that I am male and thus outside Lifetime’s target audience, but since the channel was nice enough to let me watch their screeners, I feel obligated to do my due diligence to promote their new programs. There latest offering is Witches of East End (witches: another source of entertainment I do not fall into the core demographic for). Please note this is not another retelling of The Witches of Eastwick, the last of which did not last a full season on ABC just four years ago. This based on another book of the same name released just two years ago.

The show follows a modern day witch, Julia Ormond (last seen in a ballroom with Roger Sterling) who has been “cursed” with immortality. But the rub is that though she stays timeless, her children keep on dying as a part of the curse, the same two children are born again right after they die because as Salam taught us, no one likes witches. So in their most recent incarnation, Julie has decided not to tell her daughters about their supernatural gift.

And then in the span of days, one daughter Jenna Dewan-Tatum (the short-lived The Playboy Club) wishes her soon to be mother-in-law to chock on an appetizer only for it to happen making her think she has some special power, which she does. While the more skeptical daughter, Rachel Boston (American Dreams) jokingly performs a fertility spell she got off the internet to help a co-worker get pregnant, which shows up with a positive test the very next day. Oh yeah, and a dude crawls out a painting in their house. Things get more complicated and secrets harder to hide when Aunt Mädchen Amick (Dream Lover) the more wild-child sibling and has the more humorous “curse”, who has not spoke with her sister since the seventies, which was long before her niece’s latest incarnation

Rachel Boston is the best part of Witches of East End
It has to be said: Jenna Dewan-Tatum is not a good actress. I have to wonder how she even cast in this. My working theory is that the people who go to her husband’s movie are the network’s target demo so they hope older woman will see “Tatum” and hope she may be able to wrangle her husband for a guest spot. Rachel Boston is much better as the more comedic sister, especially when she starts going on about “goat orgies” and on the show does work in a library with Tom Lenk who was the best part of the later Buffy the Vampire Slayer seasons. He only gets a line or two in the Pilot but hopefully he pops up for longer in future episodes. As you may have not noticed, Lenk is the first guy I mentioned because like most Lifetime shows and movies, this one is populated with boring actors cast straight from the Ambrocrombie catalogue and as so boring they could very well just be reanimated poster cut-outs (this is a show about witches so it is possible).

But as the third Lifetime that I have given a try, Witches of East End was the most entertaining by far. And at its best it could rival Ironside for the best new hate-watching show of the fall. Unfortunately for both shows, there is plenty of good shows on this fall, there may not be any time to hate-watch anything unless you want to save it for the holiday repeats or next summer.

Witches of East End airs Sundays at 10:00 on Lifetime. You wil be able to download Witches of East End on iTunes.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

I’m Kinda Over Being Told to Throw My Hands in the Air

Pure Heroine - Lorde

“For so long, pop music has been this super-shameful thing, where people don't want to be associated with it, they want to be on Pitchfork. But the way I see it, pop music doesn't have to be stupid, and alternative music doesn't have to be boring; you can mesh the two together and make something cool.” Lorde ladies and gentlemen. The teenager from New Zealand slowly rose up the American pop charts with her song Royals until it hit number one on the iTunes charts where it has locked down for two straight weeks.

Royals is a sly song that draws you in with lyrics about Cristal and gold teeth but it is not until the third or fourth listen when you realize that it not just another song about wealth and greed but an anti-materialism song making fun of the people that glorify such things. Now one has pull off this switch-a-roo better since Rage Against the Machine attacked angry teenagers with loud guitars and lines like “(Expletive deleted), I won’t do what you told me,” before getting them to realize that some that work forces in fact do burn crosses.

Royals is the only holdover from her Love Club EP (which is a shame because Bravado may be the third best song she has done while and Million Dollar Bills, Love Club as well as The Replacements cover Swinging Party from the Tennis Courts single would have also been some of the better songs on the album but I am sure they will be added to the “Deluxe Edition” at some point) to be included on her full length debut Pure Heroine. Tennis Court, which was released as a single back in spring, is also on the album. As hinted at on those previous releases, the full length album features songs that sound like what Lana Del Rey wishes she can make: music that is sparse and epic at the time and sound like what The xx may sound like if they aspired for pop chart dominance. All with lyrics by someone who realizes there is no upward mobility for her living in a city you will never see on screens and she is fine with that with shot at people who foolishly aspire to that lifestyle but do not even want to work for.

The devil may care attitude does wane near the end of the album when she starts singing about Glory and Gore and putting White Teeth Teens on blast. But Pure Heroine does finish strong with A World Apart, the second best song here after the smash hit single. It is the most danceable track Lorde has done in her short career and the first time she features a song that has something that resembles a guitar. Though the subject matter is still the same as the previous songs on the album (“people are jerks”), it is much more fun as she starts dancing in the world alone. If Lorde can put out music this good as a teen, it is hard to think how good it will be when she gets some more experience under her belt. Or maybe this is it, and she will be starring horrible Syfy movies in twenty year (sorry Debbie Gibson). Here is hoping for that former and there are enough Lorde like singers to follow that will bump the Katy's, Gaga's, and Miley's off the pop charts for good.

Song to Download – If you already picked up Royals from The Love Club EP, gives A World Alone a download

Pure Heroine gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

This Year Halloween Fell on the Weekend

We Can't Be Stopped - Geto Boys

Okay, for anyone who has already flipped over their calendars will have noticed that this year Halloween actually falls on a Thursday. But in defense of the guy who first uttered that line, his mind was playing tricks on him. In fact in 1990, when Bushwick Bill rapped that line, Halloween also fell on a Thursday. Plus when he declared it was Halloween, later in the verse, it did not even turn out to be close to Halloween.

The line was the centerpiece of the seminal gangsta rap track My Mind’s Playing Tricks on Me by Geto Boys. At the time when west coast rappers were glorifying the gangsta lifestyle, these Houston boys were tapping into the paranoia real gang bangers had at the time having to constantly look over your shoulder for the cops and other gang members. To up the paranoia, the cover of the album We Can't Be Stopped, this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame, featured Bushwick Bill in the hospital after he shot himself in the eye.

The boys do not spend the entire album sitting in four cornered rooms starring at candles and go on the offensive, taking aim at Queen Latifah (I’m Not a Gentlemen, their answer back to her Ladies First), the Grammy’s (Trophies), and even their own record label who would not distribute their previous album (the title track). Though the Fresh Prince beat Bushwick Bill rapping about a horror film antagonist by three years, the Geto Boys’ Chuckie, based on the Child’s Play doll, is as scary as the actual movie. In another pop culture reference, Willie D recorded a song based on the Homey D. Clown catchphrase Homie Don’t Play That which was just as angry as The Living Color sketch.

Though this year Halloween does not fall on the weekend, every October is a good time to sit along in a four cornered room starring at candles while listening to the Geto Boys.

Monday, September 30, 2013

I Want My Music Television: 9/30/13

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.

Shot at the Night – The Killers

Their debut album does not turn a decade old until next summer, but The Killers are already to release their first greatest hits package with two new songs. Like pretty much every greatest hits album with new material, Shot at the Night really does not live up to the rest of the songs included (Mary Jane’s Last Dance is the rare exception). Their video does seem like the most Killer-y music video yet. It does make it very clear that Belle Heathcote needs her own television show on air by next fall.

Sirens – Pearl Jam

I know I have not been the most ardent follower of Pearl Jam of the last fifteen years, but this is the first time I can recall anyone in the band break out an acoustic guitar (not including their Unplugged performance of course). Considering they had a pure power ballad follow up the very agro Mind Your Manners, Lightning Bolt is shaping up to be their most eclectic album yet. I wonder if Eddie Vedder brought in his ukulele from him solo album.

The Heart of Dixie – Danielle Bradbery

Smart bit of marketing releasing Danielle Bredbery’s debut video the same day of the new season of The Voice. The video kind of reminds me a video version of the photo on Carrie Underwood’s debut album, another smart touch, it even had a twist ending (Dixie is the art teacher!!!). But the songs on the album will have to be better than this to have Carrie Underwood type success.

Wake Me Up (Acoustic) – Aloe Blacc

If you remember back to when Avicii released the original version of Wake Me Up I said I liked the song but wished Aloe Blacc would release an acoustic version of the song. Well ask and you shall receive.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 9/29/13

Ray Donovan: Of course the season ended with Mickey saving Ray’s life. Let me go ahead and predict next season will see the two reluctantly team up against a common foe. Ugg, at least the season is over and Homeland can start next week.

The Voice: It what seems to be my yearly, How to Fix the Voice rants, one of my bigger complaints was the recycling of songs and how they needed to retire a bunch of songs. This season did see the third straight performance of Back to Black and Too Close and a few others that got trotted out for a second try. But overall they include a bunch of new songs to the show including some surprisingly awesome song selections. After the first night I did not think someone would perform a song cooler than Keep Your Hands to Yourself, then the very next night someone broke out the most inspired song selection since Lindsey Pavao flipped a Trey Songz track when some dude sang The Theme to the Jeffersons. Boom. Then you also had a guy perform the lone Blu Cantrell hit, a Lynyrd Skynyrd song not named Sweet Home Alabama, a Jack White song, and surprisingly the very first song on the show by The Killers (not counting the time the band themselves performed). Overall I was happy with the song selection this season, hopefully when the coaches take the reins, their picks are just as inspiring. Of course Cee-Lo’s usually are for better or worse.

But the first week belonged to Holly Henry. A couple weeks ago when she appeared in an ad for this season I wondered if it is too soon to anoint someone after just five seconds. Now that I have heard the full ninety second performance the answer is a resounding yes. I am not the only one who thought this because her version of The Scientist cracked the top 25 on iTunes, only the second time I can recall that happening during the Blind Auditions (and it is more impressive than when Sarah Simmons did last season because Holly has to contend with singles from all the high profile fall releases; can anyone remember any marquee album released in the first quarter of 2013). I will not go into a full detail as to why because I have already written a lengthy write-up on Holly Henry for my upcoming Power Rankings that I will post at the end the Blind Audition. Basically if she does not get far this season, I will have to write another lengthy How to Fix The Voice post. Until then, just watch her performance and enjoy.
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download songs performed this week with the widget at right.

How I Met Your Mother: When the season started off with Wayne Brady singing Islands in the Stream, both the Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton parts, I thought the final season would be a return to form. Unfortunately the rest of the hour, what was way too long, fell back into the usual tropes that has brought down the show in the last couple seasons.
You can stream episodes over at You can also download How I Met Your Mother on iTunes.

The Blacklist: The problem with Pilots is when you see the extended trailers; you have pretty much seen the entire episode. So some of what should have been the best parts of the episode, when James Spader first walks into the FBI and when Elizabeth stabs him neck, were scenes you expected to happen. But there were a few things they saved for actual show. From the trailer, it was easy to guess that Spader would turn out to be Elizabeth’s father but since her parents became a central part of their discussion, that is probably not the case (though I would not take it completely off the table, she could be adopted or Spader had an affair with her mother unbeknownst to her or her “father”). After the discovery in the floorboard, the safer best is the husband could be Spader’s kid. Or maybe the husband is at the top of The Blacklist. How good this show is will be determine how they handle the storyline. Most shows would make you wait a couple episodes, or until the winter break to reveal his intention, but if Elizabeth does not confront her husband in the next episode, that will be a major flaw. I fear he may be in the hospital for the foreseeable future.
You can stream episodes on Hulu. You can also download The Blacklist on iTunes.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: It become clear pretty early on that it may not have been the best idea to do their casting from the Abercrombie catalogue. Most of the cast just does not know how to deliver a joke. Hurph. Hopefully they learn quickly because the ratings make it look like it will be around for a while. As for the actually show, the big reason of how Agent Coulson is not dead like we saw in The Avengers was that he held his breath for thirty seconds. Alrighty. Okay there is clearly more to this story as Maria Hill says that Coulson can never know what really happened in Tahiti. So is he a reanimated corpse? A robot with Coulson’s memories uploaded? Something completely different?
You can stream episodes on Hulu. You can also download Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on iTunes.

The Goldbergs: As a child of the eighties, I like a good retro show from the decade, I will even watch a crappy version. Unfortunately The Goldbergs is much closer to the latter. Hopefully it finds its footing and quick because I want watch for the soundtrack alone.
You can stream episodes on Hulu. You can also download The Goldbergs on iTunes.

Sons of Anarchy: There are fewer things in my life that I need to see less than Matt Sarasen’s mom having sex with Robocop. I really wish I could un-see that. And though it was teased in the promo, the scene with Jax talking to the formal marshal through the one way mirror was very powerful. But I was shocked that Jax actually gave up Tig. I figured after Pope died, no one would care about that debt anymore. But Tig cannot possibly be dead can he? This is not the kind of show that would have a death off scene. The writers would never pass off a chance to have emotionally painful death scene. And it would seem odd to start off an episode with a death scene. Maybe they will give him some sort of reprieve if Tig does something for them like they did with Clay inside.
You can download Sons of Anarchy on iTunes.

Survivor: Blood vs. Water: It only took two episodes and the old Colton is back and I am back to hoping he has another appendix left to burst. Either that or he quits as the promo suggest he might after Probst asks him if he wants too. I assuming him sitting on his fiancé’s lap is against the rules and hopefully him doing that s viewed as quitting. Then it would be funny if Colton quits and asks his fiancé to join him and he goes, you know what, I am going to go head and stay and play.
You can stream episodes on You can also download Survivor: Blood vs. Water on iTunes.

The Bridge: When they caught Drew Thompson with a couple episodes left on Justified last season, I wonder how they could possibly fill up the rest of the season. But the last couple episodes ended up being the best of the season. So when they caught David Tate last week I thought The Bridge could do the same. Um, no. It is probably not a good sign that my biggest question coming out of this episode was what exactly was on Sonia’s cassette tape?
You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download The Bridge on iTunes.

The Challenge: Rivals II: I really liked how they broke out the Pythagorean Theorem for the final challenge. Although I am shocked that everyone knew what it was (did they give them the equation on the board, I did not get a good look at the instructions). Granted none of them were smart enough to make an educated guess and instead tried to do the math in the dirt. But as great as the Pythagorean Theorem leg of the final challenge was, the gross food leg was very unnecessary. I really did not need to see people projectile vomit for ten minutes straight.
You can download The Challenge: Rivals II on iTunes.

The Big Bang Theory: The show has always been at its best when they find a way to get Penny and Sheldon together which is happening less and less as the cast expanded. But as the premiere showed, when they do, it is comedy gold. Kaley Cuoco showed up for a quick cameo on The Voice this week because her sister is auditioning later this season, here is hoping Jim Parsons pops up in the friends and family room. And since we already heard one television theme performed this season, maybe the other Cuoco will perform Big Bang Theory Theme.
You can stream episodes on You can also download The Big Bang Theory on iTunes.

The Crazy Ones: I had two thoughts while watching the premiere: 1) It is too bad Mork ages backwards because an ill conceived Mork and Mindy reboot would have been a better vehicle than this, and 2) Kelly Clarkson needs a much better agent.
You can stream episodes over at You can also download The Crazy Ones on iTunes.