Showing posts with label Previewing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Previewing. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Previewing Unearthed: Season Two



It is pretty fascinating that King Tutankhamun, one of the mot insignificant Egyptian Pharaohs, ended up becoming its most famous. Dying young tends to help. It also helps to be one of the few tombs in the Valley of the Kings that were not robbed long ago which has led to many of archaeologist wonder why. And why was his tomb smaller than the other kings? These are many unanswered questions asked in the season two premiere of Unearthed.

Unearthed utilizes the latest technology including LIDAR scanning, X-ray imaging, carbon dating, forensic microscopy, and 3-D imaging, and follows leading experts hunting for vital clues about these mysterious structures-- from engineers who have rebuilt obelisks, to scientists bombarding tombs with proton beams. Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat are among the epic sites also featured this season on Unearthed.

So why did King Tut go undiscovered for over three thousand years? There are plenty of theories and the more the experts dig, the more questions are asked. Why is tomb so unique? It is just a corridor that may have been extended. Could it have been made for someone else? All this and more are discussed on tonight’s premiere.

Unearthed airs Tuesdays at 10:00 on Science Channel.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Previewing Casual: Season Three



The end of the second season of Casual felt like a conclusion and not just a season conclusion. The series started with the funeral of their father, albeit a dream, and ended with the real funeral of their father. The show started with Valerie moving in with her bother and the season finale saw her move out into her own place. It would have been a very symbolic ending. Except television show do not end after two seasons, at least on purpose. So now we get a third season of the show, the first with Alex living on his own which should be interesting considering he is clearly codependent. Already in the first episode there are plenty of calls and texts to Val and Leon.

Oh yeah, and to cure his co-dependent streak, he has started to rent out his room and in the season three he gets a little too close to his new German roommate which of course includes making waffle. Later in the season he takes in a Midwestern couple which goes about just as well. But the good thing for his guests is that he still is a big fan of making waffles. He is also still using his sister’s neighbor as a free therapist a little too often.

On her own, life is not much better for Val, her kid is still pulling teenage stunts and her new place is not coming together like it should. Jamie Chung (Real World: San Diego) shows up as her landlord. Oh, and her mother drops a pretty huge bombshell at her father’s wake that pretty much changes the course of the whole season for her. And really, her daughter’s reaction to the news is the best.

New episodes of Casual are released every Tuesday on Hulu.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Previewing The Handmaid's Tale



“Better doesn’t mean better for everyone.” There are many striking things about The Handmaid’s Tale, but this quote sticks out more than them all. In our highly polarized society, it is surprising a politician has not come right out and said this while defending legislation like health care where there seems to be no good law that helps everyone in a fiscal way. Of course if any politician said that it would probably be a good way to not get reelected.

But that is a thing you can say in a totalitarian regime that is in control of the alternative timeline of The Handmaid’s Tale. It is a little unclear how he got here but flashbacks slowly put the puzzle pieces in place. At first this regime slaughtered Congress, blamed terrorists, and suspended the constitution temporary until it became permanent. Anchorage is now the capital and there are only two states left while there is still war going outside.

This unrest all started with a plague of infertility over the majority of women and much like the Biblical plagues, some religious types thought this was brought on by God punishing us for birth control and other immoral acts. And now this new world is being run by the Leaders of the Faithful who make the Westboro Baptist Church look like Sodom and Gomorrah in comparison. The abduct fertile women and turn them into sex slaves for Commanders whose wives cannot give birth resulting in maybe the creepiest sex scene you will ever see. But yet aside from being devotedly religious, these people seem to forget one of the Ten Commandments is Thou Shall Not Kill. And the whole thing about coveting your neighbor’s wife is mostly of broken by them too.

Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) plays the titular character and narrator who is taken prisoner because she had just given birth so the Leaders of the Faithful know she is fertile. It is a little weird seeing Peggy Olsen in modern time except she is quickly outfitted in a handmaid’s garb which looks straight out of the Puritan’s collection, a muted red floor length dress with a “winged” white hat. The Leaders on the other hand are always dressed like they are heading to the opera. Moss’s Leaders are played by Joseph Fiennes (FlashForward), who utters that first line, and Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck) who is really good in this Stepfordian role.

But it is Moss who is great here. She always seems to have this dead behind the eyes stares as the life has been almost completely sucked out of her in the two short months she has been a Handmaid. And the camera always seems to be in a close up shot of that black stare. Juxtaposed her creepy blank stare to her very lively narration where she plots a way to get back to her son. Alexis Bledel (Sin City) shows up as a fellow Handmaid, they are not allowed to travel by themselves, with a secret which gets very dark by the third episode.

And just when the show starts getting too dark, there are moments of levity, a quick quip from Moss as narrator, a random game of Scrabble, and most notably a weird and random musical cue that closes out the second episode. Really, the weirder the show gets the more I enjoy it. It has been a rough start for Hulu since it has flipped over to their pay only tier, but The Handmaid’s Tale is finally a new show worth paying for their service.

The first three episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale are now able to stream on Hulu with new episodes premiering every Wednesday.






Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Previewing Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman



Morgan Freeman has filmed fifty-eight episodes of Through the Wormhole and tonight premieres the one of the last four episode ever (or at least until it is rebooted because shows never truly die anymore). For seven years Freeman has been asking the hard questions like the existence of god, the science of racism, life on other planets, the future of robots and many others.

Tonight’s episode is dedicated to the fortieth anniversary of Star Wars this year by asking is there really a mystical “force” out there? On the surface kind of a silly question but there really are forces out there that we cannot see that are working in mysterious ways. Einstein even theorized that space is not truly empty. Other topics discussed tonight is the idea of entanglement, the double split where light can split in two to go into two different places, and can we send messages to our future selves through wormholes, because I guess a time capsule is just too easy.

Later this season Morgan will also be asking, can we cheat death? Death is life’s greatest certainty. But that may be about to change. Scientists have discovered an immortal animal that may hold the secret of endless regeneration. They’re on the brink of editing our DNA so that we can cure death like a disease. Or is dying necessary for the survival of our species? Can we hack the planet? Humanity is under threat – from storms that seem to get ever fiercer, earthquakes that seem ever more deadly, and killer viruses that are engulfing the globe. Some scientists think it’s time for us to fight back. Can we – should we –hack the planet? And is gun crime a virus? Every seventeen minutes in America, someone is killed with a gun. Politicians can’t seem to stop the violence. But epidemiologists, psychologists and big data crunchers are discovering that gun crime spreads like a virus –and science may be able to stop its spread.

Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman airs Tuesdays at 10:00 on Science.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Previewing Guerrilla




I am anti-spoiler, have not actively looked for them in over a decade, but there is something about historical dramas that make me want to at the very least go to Wikipedia to see what really happened. Luckily Guerrilla is more in the vein of The Americans where most everything is fiction instead of a show like Deadwood which was a mix of real and fake characters. Guerrilla is set in Britain 1971 where prison reform and immigration are hotly debated subjects, so yeah, kind of timely for current affairs too. A Character even says, “They’re changing the laws on us,” in the first episode.

Guerrilla comes from John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) who wrote, directed and executive produced most of the six episode limited series. Idris Elba (Luther) is also an executive producer who stars in the show. But the focal point are two lover Frida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) and Babou Ceesay who get caught up in the black radial movement after a friend is beaten to death by the police during a protest match. The question for the main characters is just how far they should go to get their message out. Even after actions are taken, there still a lot of debate.

While the main characters may never have existed, the target of these protesters, the Black Power Desk, a true-life, secretive counter-intelligence unit within Special Branch dedicated to crushing all forms of black activism was very real and sets an even more harrowing tale with some basis in reality. And what is fascinating having the show set in 1971 is the primitive detective tactics at the disposal of Scotland Yard. You think about the Boston bombing the police were able to catch the perpetrators in days. But four and a half decades ago there were no surveillance camera, no social media, cell phone camera, so criminals could almost walk around almost freely, while the police had to rely heavily on informants, either those that were doing it willingly or heavily coerced. There is particularly graphic interrogation scene later this season.

Guerrilla is billed as a “limited series” at just six episode which is nice as it can essentially be viewed as about a five and a half hour movie. But the one thing that gave me pause is the amount of “limited series” recently that got renewed for a second season, though most of those ended up being anthology series after the fact. There is finality to these six episodes and it will be fine as is, but there is a speech at the end of the final episode that definitely sound like this character looks to be returning at some point.

Guerrilla airs Sundays at 9:00 on Showtime (yes the season premiere is Easter night).

Monday, April 10, 2017

Previewing Angie Tribeca: Season Three




Oh yeah, Angie had a kid last season on Angie Tribeca. I completely forgot about it. So the season starts off with a retirement party so she can raise the kid. Okay, clearly the retirement does not stick (though that would be funny if the show just became a bad family sitcom for a season). The kids ends up getting shipped off to boarding school not to be seen for a while (ever?) so Angie can get back to her police work.

The first season was you token police procedural with the second taking a serial approach. Season three seems like a weird hybrid. A serial killer is introduced in the premiere (his victims are the most vulnerable in our society: rich white dudes). But it seems like every other episode they forget that is an open case and just do a random killer of the week episode. There also seems to be a joke where the team goes to a new city (Miami! Mardi Gras!!), but again it is not every episode.

Still the show remains dumb fun. My favorite case of the episodes I have seen revolves around a college badminton player and the best episode title is easily This Sounds Unbelievable, but CSI: Miami Did It. And like previous seasons there are plenty of familiar faces including Chris Pine in the Hannibal Lecter role of the serial killer storyline, Rob Riggle, Buddy Garrity, Natalie Portman, Michelle Dockery very different from her Downton Abbey/Good Behavior roles, and Heather Graham returns.

Angie Tribeca airs Mondays at 10:30 on TBS.


Friday, April 07, 2017

Previewing Beach Boys: Making Pet Sounds



The biggest eternal question in rock and roll history is “The Beatles or the Rolling Stone?” Syth rock band Metric even had a minor hit Gimme Sympathy based around that question. But whenever anyone asks be “Beatles or the Stone” my answers is always: The Beach Boys. Of all the classic rock era bands, the Beach Boys were always my favorite. And the thing about The Beach Boys is they are sneaky great, so you can instantly be attacked to their simple California themed songs as kids. Then as you grow you realize these simple songs when you listen to them very closely have very complex harmonies and musical compositions.

Those very complex harmonies and musical compositions all culminated with their album Pet Sounds (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) - The Beach Boys. Tonight takes a look at that landmark album with Beach Boys: Making Pet Sounds. Last year saw the fiftieth anniversary of the album and the documentary talks with the surviving members of The Beach Boys, (Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks) as well as musicians, writers and executives that helped shape the album. It also features exclusive interviews, classic archive and rare studio outtakes from the recording sessions

What is good about this documentary is it does not dwell too much on the Brian and Mike power struggle (there is a segment where Love defends the album and claims to have never hated like so many fans speculate). Other interesting aspects of the documentary are when Brian Wilson talks about the genius label and how the album featured a female bassist, something rare at the times. Making Pet Sounds should be something all Beach Boys fans, young and old should check out.

Beach Boys: Making Pet Sounds premieres tonight at 8:00 on Showtime.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Previewing Harlots




Prostitution has been called the oldest profession and brothels routinely pop up in prestige historical dramas (real or fake) from Deadwood to Game of Thrones. Yet despite being as populous as one in every five women in Victorian England in the profession, these prestige dramas usually just use them as gratuitous nudity and we rarely get to know many of these women. Until now. Harlots put these women up front. And not only are the women the focus of the show, they are also behind the scenes with all the producers, writers and directors being women too so the scene come off as less exploitative as those shows where these women are more background characters.

Harlots features two warring brothels in eighteenth century England. Samantha Morton (John Carter) is a madam of the people who goes up against Lesley Manville (Maleficent) who appeals to a more high class clientele who expect their companions to known an instrument and can converse in French. Morton has two daughters, Jessica Brown Findley (Downton Abbey) is the one who got out and is now not quick to sign a contract to be someone else’s wife. Newcomer Eloise Smyth (look out for her, she is going to be big) has yet to join the family business but there are plenty of suitors looking to be the highest bidder to take her virginity.

We have seen the spunky upstart vs. high class stalwart many of time before, but never like this. We have seen historical dramas set in 1700’s England, but never like this. Ever since The Handmaiden’s Tale trailer premiered at the Super Bowl, I have thought that show was going to be Hulu’s first great series, well, it looks like Harlots, which kind of came out of nowhere, may win that title a month sooner.

Harlots premieres today on Hulu.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Previewing The Arrangement



Full disclosure notice: I have not watched E! in probably over a decade. Sure I used to watch E! News Daily and Talk Soup occationally but the channel just got too trashy for me the more the focused on fake famous people. Now that content is king and future libraries are the key to survival and the shelf-life of red carpet coverage and trashy reality shows pretty much end the minute it airs, E! has finally realized that like every other cable network, it is time to start making their own content instead of just talking about every else’s.

E!’s first attempt at scripted programming was successful enough that The Royals is already on its third season and renewed for a fourth. It seemed apropos for the network to greenlight a trashy show about the British monarchy since they go wall to wall with every major royal event. And it also seems right up their alley that their second deals with Hollywood relationship, the kind they fawn about when they walk down the red carpet, but The Arrangement looks what happens when the camera are not on.

The Arrangement is a tale as old as cinema, for better or worse, waitress by day, struggle actress by night who can only seem to get work in vampire doctor shows meets the biggest actor in the world, fall in lust, and he asks her to marry him. Okay the show is not as fairy-tale as that as the title suggests the newly minted relationship has some string attached as the big actor seems to have some deep dark secret and likes to have all his bases covered. And no, it is not that, as he tells the actress, she is not his beard (though I cannot decide if the show would be better or worse had he actually been gay).

The young actress is Christine Evangelista who is a great find for the show as she just fills the screen whenever she is front and center. I was a bit surprised to see she does have a lengthy IMDB page, thirty roles in the past decade and yet the closest thing she has come to a big break so far is a trashy lead on E!. Well I guess there was a quickly canceled ABC show in there that I do not even remember. Really, her hip hop tribute to Shakespeare in a bikini is the single greatest thing I have seen all year.

Unfortunately that is followed up with one of the worst lines I have heard, “I have to kiss you now.” Ugg. Those words are spoken by Josh Henderson (J.R. Jr. in the Dallas reboot) who is about an unbelievable biggest actor in the world as the guy from Entourage. But the series going forward may hinge on Michael Vartan (Monster In Law) and Lexa Doig (Continuum) who play a married couple very close friends of Henderson and run some weird, possibly cultish, science institute. Really, the more evil they turn out to be, the more interested I would become. Well that and more hip-hop tributes to dead writers.

The Arrangement airs Sundays at 10:00 on E!.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Previewing Major Crimes: Winter Half of Season Five



It is always jarring whenever an episode starts with gun fire. After that we see the detectives of Major Crimes climbing the stairs of an office building as the employees there flee the scene. The thing is, the scene end up not having anything to do with the case of the week. That instead revolves around a woman being found by the LA River after rigorous has set in and bruising around her body. There is even one of the more shocking interrogation scenes I have ever seen on television.

After the case is closed, there is still some time for some personal time. Buzz has to decide whether to help out the family of the man who murdered his father. There is also a Philip Stroh update. Then the episode ends with a major life decision that we do not get as the elevator door closes before we the audience get to hear the answer. And just a reminder, as the second half of Major Crimes starts up, it was recently renewed for season six.

Major Crimes airs Wednesdays at 9:00 on TNT.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Previewing The Detour: Season Two




There was a point when watching the second season of The Detour, it actually crossed my mind to ask, does TBS actually deserve to be in the discussion for best network on television? It is an amazing thought considering people rarely talk about TBS except the, no really there is an actual great show on TBS piece and just two short years ago they were known as the channel that Conan when to die and Big Bang Theory reruns. Sure they tried a bunch of original programming, but they were all forgettable throwbacks to the time when sitcoms rarely left a work place, bar, or living room.

But since then they have diversified and have a comedy for every type of person that likes to laugh. There is the absurdist comedy of Angie Tribeca, the dark humor of Search Party, the dumb comedy Wrecked, the very weird People of Earth, for political junkies there is Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. Then there is The Detour, a smarter comedy. Oh yeah, and Conan is still there.

Sure, it would be easy to write off The Detour as a cheap Vacation rip off turned into a television show, but it turned out to be better than its concept. Sure most people would have to wonder how you take the Vacation movies and turn it into a full season, but they somehow did it. Then you have to ask, um, seriously, a second season? Are actually go on another road trip? Much like Christmas Vacation, no (though there is a fake out in the premiere where you may think they are about to have a wacky bus adventure).

Instead Nate has gotten a job at a shady bottled water company and the whole family is moving to New York City. Oh yeah, and there was that cliffhanger where we learn Nate in the future is actually not being detained by law enforcement because of all the illegal things he did last season, but because his wife may not be who he thought he was.

It has been one year since the last season (though the flashforwards still remain at some unknown time in the future but is so far ahead that Nate has had enough time to grow a beard). And of course just when things start looking up for Parker family, Robin’s real husband shows up to wreak havoc. And what may be the most amazing part of the show is the children remain funny, a rarity on family sitcoms. Really, one of the best parts of the early new season is when Delilah learns the incorrect definition of cockblocker.

The Detour airs Tuesdays at 10:00 on TBS, including back to back episodes tonight. You can download The Detour on iTunes.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Previewing Bates Motel: Season Five




I have a long standing theory that a character on television is not really dead until you see the body (and even then I am usually suspicious), but it became pretty obvious in the season finale of Bates Motel that Norma was dead as a doornail. That’s not to say that Vera Farmiga is leaving show, her name remain in the credits for the upcoming, and final season, and everyone who saw the final scene from last year can see how the actress stays around as a vision of Norman.

Yep, after teetering for the first four seasons, Norman has gone full crazy and now talks to his dead mother whom he has built a shrine to in the basement (you know, where Norman does his taxidermy… ew). Imaginary Norma even claims to be pretending to be dead as an excuse to not leave the house. And you have to feel sorry for the new young lady who runs the hardware store Norman meets early in the new season who looks very much like his dead mother, you know that relationship will not be ending very nicely.

It is unclear just how long it has been since the previous season, Dylan and Emma now have a baby to take care up while Dylan admits he doesn’t talk to his mother or Norman so he has not even learned that his mother is no longer among the living. After his perjury charge, Romero starts off the season in prison. While back in the titular setting, Norman is now the manager who is having increasing amounts of blackouts and ends the premiere answering a very interesting phone call.

The second episode starts off with a very interesting meeting between Norman and Romero in the prison meeting room. Season two also sees the return of Dylan’s creepy neighbor who has a proposition to Norman. New this season is the mayor’s son from The Walking Dead (as Sam Loomis, but he is not a doctor so this is not some Halloween crossover) and Supergirl’s Ms. Teschmacher. Not seen in the first two episode is Rihanna who is reportedly showing up in a famous role sometime this season.

Like most remakes and reboots, I found Bates Motel to be mostly unnessisay, but now in the final season, the show is now what it probably should have always been. Knowing what we always knew about Norman Bates and his relationship with his mother those first couple season drug on a little slow, but now that Norma is dead and Norman is in full split personality mode, the show has turned into a horror version of Mr. Robot. It is a shame they did not kill off Norma earlier in the show’s run..

Bates Motel airs Mondays on A&E. You can download Bates Motel on iTunes.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Previewing Billions: Season Two



I got a little depressed watching the new season of Billions. Not because of what I wrote last season about if Bobby was not thrown into jail by the end of the season, the thought of Bobby vs. Chuck going on seasons seemed like a drag. No, watching Bobby being all evil could not help me think, great, these are the people running the country right now. And then when Chuck popped up for the first time, I realized, well these are the douches that use to run the country for decades.

So Chuck starts the season under internal investigation after the aborted case against Bobby while Bobby steal reeling after Chuck got close to getting him behind bars. Bobby has gotten even more paranoid (remember the last episode where he ripped apart his whole office looking for bugs) and have even more strict rules for his employees when he gets his office back together.

If season one was about Chuck taking down Bobby, season two looks like it will be Bobby trying to take down Chuck. I would say, just like I hoped with season one, that season two ends with one of them taking down the other and moving on to something different, but I have a feeling just like every movie that followed this path, the third installment is always the two former antagonists joining up to fight a mutual adversary.

Billions airs Sundays at 10:00 on Showtime. You can download Billions on iTunes.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Previewing The Path: Season Two



I wanted to love the first season of The Path, I really did, everything was in place, produced by the Friday Night Lights guy, starring the guy from Hannibal. There was even a guest spot from Lyla Garrity. But the shoe just did not completely gel for me. I think maybe it is the whole cult theme but I spent most of the first season hoping for something more that never came. I still hold out hope the show can find its footing.

There are some changes in the second season, mostly by subtraction. Gone is Hawk’s high school crush which is understandable as the cult alienated her mother (Hawk gets a new love interest this season, a fellow level one rung member). Also gone is the hot blonde deserter. I vaguely remember her walking onto a frozen lake at the end of last season. I guess we are led to believe she fell in. Maybe? (I will say we do see one of these two ladies at some point in the second season.) On the bright side there is a new curly haired hot blonde this season to entice Eddie.

I guess the new season started off five months after the last season when Eddie went to Peru and saw the supposedly dying leader of the Mierist movement rising from his deathbed (there are flashbacks to that moment in the first episode. I guess five months because Mary is now five months pregnant and we are led to believed that the father can either be Sean’s (who has been promoted to the main credits) or Cal’s. There is a humorous scene early on where she asked Sarah’s adoptive Asian sister how likely her mixed raced kids look like her. Apparently she missed that day in biology class or has never heard Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Plant where they talk about the dominant and recessive genes.

That is about as entertaining a moment in the two episodes that are uploaded to Hulu today. Yes the show is sticking to its weekly schedule even though Hulu has since experimented with Netflix season dump with their latest show Shut Eye. Still the most interesting part of the show is the war between Cal, the true believer who wants more than anything to be the next leader and will do anything to obtain power, and Eddie, the nonbeliever who may actually be the chosen leader but wants nothing to do with it.

But the thing is, as the second season progresses, the most enthralled I got into it as it really build to something which was lacking in the first season. Okay, I did not care that much for the resolution of this build, but I will say it sets up an interesting plot for a potential season three.

The Path releases new episode every Wednesday on Hulu, the first two are available today.



Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Previewing Six



The Seals of Six on History

As it has been written many times before, we are truly in the era of peak television. There are hundreds of new scripted shows (352 in 2014 and probably rising) coming every year now so it is easy to miss them. Seriously, I have never even heard of The Crown until it won the Golden Globe for Best Drama (so good promotions dollars to whoever bribed the Hollywood Foreign Press for that award). So I have never even heard of Six until History made it available for me to watch the first couple episode. And to be honest, the only reason I watched was because Boyd Crowder was in it.

If you are like me and only hearing about the show now, Six is for Seal Team Six, led by Crowder back in 2014. For fans of action, there are two firefights in the first ten minutes, three in the first twenty-five. Not surprising, Crowder is kind of a psychopath who makes a question kill on the last mission we see with him as the team leader.

Fast forward two years, Crowder is now employed by a private contractor who is building a new school in Africa, right in the middle of Boca Haram country. Naturally Crowder gets captured setting up the season where his old team has to rescue him and the schoolgirls who were also taken. The team is still in tack sans Crowder and a newbie replacing him while the team is now being led by Barry Sloane (who I best know as the guy who ruined Revenge). The only other cast member I recognized is My Name Is Earl’s Nadine Velazquez as one of the team member’s wife who is a little irritated at her husband’s insistence that it is “one last mission.”

And that is kind of the downfall of Six, I really do not care when they go home as all the (ex)wives are kind of wet blankets. Sloane’s wants to have children while he is more reluctant. The only home storyline that is remotely interesting is that of the playboy who grown teenage daughter starts popping up all of the sudden much to his dismay. But aside from those home diversions, added to the race against the clock to save Crowder is unknown to the team, they are racing against someone else looking for Crowder, remember the question kill I mentioned earlier, that guy’s brother also learns of Crowder’s capture. Six should appeal to those who have enjoyed History’s first foray into scripted fair Vikings (even though Six is not actually based on real events and is not even that historic taking place three to one years ago). But I guess it makes more sense than the unscripted shows that History currently airs.

Six airs Wednesdays at 10:00 on History.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Previewing The Story of God with Morgan Freeman:Season Two



When Morgan Freeman talks, people listen (okay, we will forget the ads he lent his voice to last fall). And now it is time to listen to his golden voice as his show The Story of God with Morgan Freeman. Tonight’s premiere sees Freeman travel the globe to find “chose ones” of various religion. He starts off with probably the most famous living “chosen one,” the latest Dali Lama a nine year old who Morgan goes his first ever public speaking event since being declared the next Dali Lama at age two. From there Freeman talked to someone who was convicted in North Korea for “attempting to overthrow the government,” or just praying to God in North Korea.

For those who always wondered is the difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Freeman goes back in time to look at the split where the Shiites believe in a chosen one that the Sunni do not. Also in the episode are Thailand religious people mutilate themselves in the name of god with multiple piercing including swords and pipes.

Later this season, Freeman tackles how different faith look at Heaven and Hell and looks for proof of God. The series also visits some of the world’s most sacred places, including Angkor Wat in Cambodia, constructed in the 12th century as a model of Hindu heaven; Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, which the Lakota tribe believe to be one of the power points of their worship; the underwater caves, or “cenotes,” of the Maya in Mexico, which they believed were the entryways to heaven and hell; rare access inside the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, the holiest shrine of the Sikh faith; and the Meskel celebration in Ethiopia that commemorates the discovery of the true cross by Helena, mother of Roman Emperor Constantine.

The Story of God with Morgan Freeman airs Mondays at 9:00 on the National Geographic Channel.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Previewing Homeland: Season Six



At the end of last season of Homeland, it looked like this season would revert back to familiar time when Saul offered her a job back at the CIA with full autonomy of her team. But shockingly, she turned it down to continue working with her philanthropist fiancée. The other big new from the end of last season was Quinn pretty much dying after being the giunie pig for a chemical bomb Except the show left his death ambiguous as the season went to black, but basically he needed a miracle to survive,

I thought the show was going to tease out Quinn’s fate after the lack of a title sequence to see if the actor’s name was still in the credits, but it is easy to deduce his fate in the first scene of the season and confirmed in the second. At the start, Carrie has moved back to the United States (which means a return of computer guy Max), taking up roots in New York City still working for the foundation But instead of working for the poor like in the past, she has steered the new New York chapter towards unjust Muslim arrests.

Saul and Dar are still at the CIA and start the season meeting with the new Madam President Elect. Before you decry the presumptuous liberal Hollywood for already electing Hilary Clinton before the votes were cast, this female president is vert dovish whose one of the first questions she has is why do we just pull out of the Middle East completely? But what exactly does this have to do with Carrie who last we saw had no interest with the CIA. Well the first time Saul and Carrie meet this season, he points out the President Elect is friends with Carrie’s boss and point blank accuses her of being the president-elect’s secret council.

Okay, enough beating around the bush, I am going to talk about the fate of Quinn since the premiere has been on the internet for a while. So SPOILER ALERT if you have not watched it.

Brody should have died at the end of season one. Clearly in hindsight because of the horrible and eventual Carrie/Brody romance that completely ruined the show for a season and a half, but I think most people in the moment knew he should have exploded his vest at the end of the first season. I fear things will be repeating itself. Quinn should have died last season. It is completely inexplicable that he survive the chemical booth. And goodness is he annoying this year as a half dead person who still pining over Carrie. If they actually hookup it may be worse than Brody because that means the writers have not learned their lesson. But other than that, a female president elect… how novel.

Homeland airs Sundays at 9:00 on Showtime.


Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Previewing Shut Eye




Hulu is at a crossroads. It started out as a great way to catch up on last night’s television you missed with a few webseries quality shows, usually underwritten by a advertiser who put gratuitous product placements throughout. But it clearly became envious of Netflix and all its buzz and deep pockets. Hulu slowly started adding movies you have actually heard of and more credible original programming. It also started providing commercial free version and put most of the movies and original programming behind their paid wall.

They took a very huge step earlier this year eliminating their free tier leaving people like me who are not bothered by ads and primarily use Hulu for catch-up with the choice between ponying $7.99 a month (or an extra $4 to get rid of those pesky commercials) to continue using the service or go back to channel specific websites to catch up on what we missed last night. I chose the latter and really forgot how much I hate the other video players (especially ABC).

So now that you have to pay, Hulu really need to step its game up when it comes to original programming if it even want to get to Amazon Prime territory, let along Netflix. The Path was good but a little underwhelming and Casual was solid but will not be winning any awards or show up on anyone’s top ten lists. Hulu really stumbled out of the gate with their first post no free tier era with Chance which was met with a resounding meh. Personally I was not even able to make it through a full episode. And this is coming from someone who somehow watched every episode of Wicked City.

Now comes Shut Eye which seems like it want to be The Sopranos except instead of gangsters, the show focuses on psychics. And instead of seeing a therapist, the lead sees another type of head doctor after an angry boyfriend gives him a concussion after telling his girlfriend he was cheating on him. Oh, and we are led to believe this concussion may have also given him real psychic power that are triggered whenever he is around doughnuts.

Shut Eye stars Jeffery Donovan as the small time hustler who is looking for a big score after leaving Vegas and his cushy job as the guy who builds tricks from magicians. But in Los Angeles he has run into real gypsies who do not like people taking their business (Isabella Rossilini plays the matriarch) and expect their cut from any pretend psychic. Hey, selling $5,000 candles to simpletons can only get you so far.

So Donovan sees and opening when an obvious gangster (Dexter’s David Zayas) comes in seeing help for his kid with Asperger’s. Needless to say, when you get in bed with gangsters, bad things start happening. And there is the problem with Shut Eye, I actually had to put the phrase “needlessly to say” in a review. It is kind of easy to predict where the show is going from the opening scenes. And since the show is trying to be prestigious, the show is peppered with just enough gratuitous violence (someone gets dunked in a doughnut fryer), gratuitous sex (though not gratuitous enough because Emmanuelle Chriqui manages to stay pretty hidden during a lesbian sex scene in the first episode). And what want to be prestigious show be without a worthless teenage son who abuses drugs? Though it fell flat in places, The Path was a much more ambitious attempt for Hulu to get their named made. Shut Eye just seems to be recycling decade’s old attempts at making television.

All episode of Shut Eye are streaming now on Hulu starting today.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Previewing Vikings: Season Four, Part Two




One of the big advantage of cable shows (other than the lack of FCC regulation) is the shorten season. When you only have eight to thirteen episodes a year to fill than the network standard of twenty-two, you storyline can be more concise and can easily trim the fat. But for some reason, occasionally cable channels expand their shows episode number (okay, that reason is obviously money). The worst in memory was when Rescue Me went from thirteen to twenty-two one season and the show cratered creatively. It quickly went down to ten the next season.

So I am a little worried to hear History has boosted the number of Vikings episodes this season from ten to twenty. Okay, they did have a seven month break between episode ten and eleven. The voice over for the intro even says, “Last season on Vikings,” even though it is still technically still season four. But no matter how you cut it, there will be twenty episodes of the show that air over twelve months.

There was a very specific break in between blocks this season as the first half ended with Ragnor being humiliated in Paris only to desert his land. A teaser at the end of the last episode jumped ahead about a decade with a returning Ragnor placing his sword in the ground that as surrounded by a crows and shouted, “Who wants to be king?” Welcome back Ragnor.

The new half of the season starts with the same question that ended the last. Sorry to anyone hoping to learn what happed between Paris and the return, no flashbacks in the premiere? Instead we get reintroduced to Ragnor’s grown sons including Gimpy who has grown into a son that only Donald Trump could love. Seriously, that kid is all sorts of horrible even though he cannot use either of his legs but still manages to crawl everywhere to watch people have sex.

As you can expect from a half season that starts with a dude striking the ground with his sword, there is plenty of conflict this season. Ragnor wants to go back to England while in his absence, Bjorn has found a map of the Mediterranean with plenty of Roman outposts to plunder. Granted this path goes through France which means permission from Uncle Rollo. And while the guys are away, the women back home will play, and not nice as Lagertha seems to want her throne back. Here is hoping this is enough storyline to keep the show from dragging on now that it has doubled its yearly episode output.

Vikings airs Wednesdays at 9:00 on History.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Previewing Search Party




In the past couple years, networks have gotten creative rolling out new shown, but none was more bold when TBS debuted Angie Tribeca during a twenty-five hour commercial free marathon. The second season had a more traditional roll out, same for every new TBS show since. TBS has gotten creative again for their latest new show Search Party which premieres tonight with back to back episodes at 11:00. And then will premiere two new episodes every night this week (yes even Thanksgivings night; a marathon of the first four episode preceding it) with the final two episodes this season airing Friday.

It is probably for the best that they are airing Search Party over a short period of time because it feels more like a very long indie movie instead of an episodic series. The show focuses on a group of self-absolved millennials, one of which Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development) who becomes obsessed when a college acquaintance goes missing and is presumed dead while the other placate her new obsession.

Search Party is listed as a “dark comedy” but is pretty lite on the second half. Ironically the hardest I laughed all season was at the conclusion of the mystery in the season finale which may leave more people upset rather than in a laughing mood. But the adventure in the show is the mystery and the long line of interesting characters we meet why trying to find Shantel Witherbottom (yes that is the missing girl’s name) including a crazy real estate agent, an Inappropriate a capella group, a weird fetish model, a cult, and a shady zookeeper.

Search Party airs at 11:00 every night this week with back to back episodes on TBS.