Tuesday, September 27, 2011

TV Tuesday: Free Agents (review)

Hank Azaria headlines one of many new sitcoms this season. Is his wit and charm enough for me to buy in?


Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Movie Review: Moneyball

Is it possible to turn a movie about statistical analysis of baseball into an exciting film? Brad Pitt and Phillip Seymour Hoffman might help.


Monday Movie Review (bonus): Dolphin Tale

It's no secret this movie is looking to tug on your heartstrings, but what about your brainstrings?


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

TV Tuesday: Up All Night (review)

Will Arnett and Christina Applegate play new parents in the new TV show Up All Night. Here are my thoughts on whether or not they pull it off.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Movie Review (bonus): The Lion King 3D

My thoughts on the re-release of a Disney classic in three dimensions and on 3D in general.


Monday Movie Review: Seven Days in Utopia

Why do faith-based films torture me so? I feel torn between rooting on people who share my beliefs, and ranting about the low quality. Which side won out in this one?


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Star Tours: The Adventure Continues (review and walkthrough)

I finally got to ride the new Star Tours at Hollywood Studios in Florida. Does it live up to my expectations?


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

TV Tuesday: America's Got Talent Finale (rant and thoughts)

My annual rant about Americas Got Talent and why I have a love hate relationship with it. Also some thoughts on tonight's season 6 finale.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Movie Review: Contagion

Steven Soderbergh is trying to usher in Oscar season with "Contagion". Does he succeed?


Friday, September 9, 2011

21 Hours of TV 2011 Fall Preview (Weekend)

Uh oh, somebody changed my Friday.

In years past the weekend was the easiest because aside from Sunday networks considered Friday and Saturday a waste land.  Friday was the town dump where they would send shows to die a quick death and Saturday they all basically alternate between showing grass growing and paint drying. Sure, Sunday usually had a couple hours of stuff I enjoyed but as long as I kept the other days around 19 hours I could rest assured that I'd be able to keep it under 21 pretty easily (which is the point of this whole exercise after all, check Monday's post if you don't remember)

But then all of the sudden I look at the schedule and WHAT?! Friday has new shows AND shows I already love? When did this happen?  Keeping my list to 21 hours just got a lot tougher.

Let's go day by day and then get into the hard work.


I have to say I'll be sad to see Charles Bartowski and gang ride into the sunset this year, but it's really pretty cool that they got to do as many seasons as they did with mediocre ratings.  Plus, Zach Levi is quickly becoming a legitimate super star and I'd love to see him do some more movies.

Fringe is the riskiest show on TV now that LOST is gone.  It's no surprise that they both spawned from JJ Abrams brain with their willingness to take huge leaps into new territory in mere episodes.  Fringe's finale last season was possible the best finale on TV and I CAN NOT WAIT to see where that show goes next.

Add to those a couple new hours, I want to see and the return of one of the most underrated reality shows, "Shark Tank", and I have 5 hours of TV on Friday that I want to watch.  Considering I came into the weekend at 17, we are already over budget and as Carman once said, Sunday's on the way. (obligatory obscure reference free of charge.)

MUST:  Chuck, Fringe

The color coded breakdown:

Green = Will be programmed on my DVR
Blue = Not for me, but feel free. 
 = Move along, nothing to see here.


ABC - Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
CBS - A Gifted Man
CW - Nikita
Fox - Kitchen Nightmares
NBC - Chuck


ABC - Shark Tank
CW - Supernatural
Fox - Fringe
NBC - Grimm


ABC - 20/20
CBS - Blue Bloods
NBC - Dateline NBC



Bad shows, bad shows, whatcha gonna do?  Watcha gonna do when noone watches you?

TWO HOURS OF MUST:  extra hour of sleep?

The color coded breakdown:


ABC - College Football
CBS - Rules of Engagement
Fox - COPS
NBC - Repeats


CBS - Crimetime Saturday
Fox - America's Most Wanted
NBC - Repeats


CBS - 48 Hrs. Mystery



I bought the first 7 seasons of "The Simpsons" on DVD, not at once mind you, but as they came out.  I stopped after season 7 because I had a realization, they are NEVER ending this show.  I will never have a complete collection because by the time this show ends DVD players will be about as relevant as papyrus scrolls are today.  So I might as well save my money and spend it on something more important, you know, like Krispy Kreme doughnuts (Homer would want it that way).  The reason I stopped was NOT, however, because of quality.  The Simpsons has been herculean in the way it has continued to bring strong scripts and great satire year after year after year.  The emotional aspect of the show continues to impact me as well.  I'm of the opinion that the reason people truly believe the early seasons are better is a case of nostalgia more than truth. Thought I have to admit that season 4-8 run has some pretty incredible shows.

A couple of former Survivor contestants are running the Amazing Race. Worlds collide as they collide with the world,or something.  I always find those kind of things fun, and I love the race anyway, so I'm in.

I must say I do kind of miss watching America's Funniest Home Videos, simple, but so great.  I think maybe it's because Wipeout has taken over as my go-to people-fall-down-go-boom show, so my quota of human spills remains satisfied.

The color coded breakdown:


ABC - America's Funniest Home Videos
CBS - 60 Minutes
Fox - The OT
NBC - Football Night in America


ABC - Once Upon A Time
CBS - Amazing Race
Fox - The Simpsons


Fox - Allen Gregory
NBC - Sunday Night Football


ABC - Desperate Housewives
CBS - The Good Wife
Fox - Family Guy


Fox - American Dad


ABC - Pan Am
CBS - CSI: Miami

Weekend's Total:  Five 1 hour dramas, Two half hour comedies, Two 1 hour reality,  8 Hours
Final Total: 10 hours drama, 6 hours comedy, 9 hours Reality25 hours


Wow. 4 hours over.

Usually I would just say that I will give up on a few new shows to get the total down (which likely will happen) but that feels like a bit of a cheat.  I think I can cut out an hour right off the bat by eliminate the X-Factor results show (just tell us the result in the next performance show, we don't need an hour for you to tell us what should take 5 seconds.) I will also fast forward through most of The Biggest Loser since it's so bloated (ironic, right?) So that's a second hour right there.  That leave 2 more hours to cut and nothing left to cheat on.   I tell you what, I'll drop Shark Tank and A Gifted Man from the list (the two shows I'm least excited for and I have quite a bit of reality and drama already on) but not from my DVR, then if any of the new shows bomb I will go back and watch them.  If everything else succeeds, then I guess I'm just out of luck.

Gentlemen (and gentlewomen, gentlepeople?) START YOUR DVRS!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

21 Hours of TV 2011 Fall Preview (Thursday)

Thursday remains all about NBC making me laugh.  Community is a weekly tour de force and Parks and Rec has caught such fire that I'd now rank it above The Office.  Speaking of which, I think Spader is an interesting choice to join the cast and am excited for what he could bring.  But here's the thing I don't hear anyone talking about; no one is replacing Steve Carell! Spader is Kathy Bate's replacement as the CEO of the company and will probably be in about half the episodes.  This means they will be promoting within to fill that slot, a choice that though risky, could pay off greatly since these are the characters we already know and love.  The new dynamics will hopefully re-energize a cast that seemingly has been coasting for a couple seasons.  The new kid on the must see block is Whitney, who looks primed to fit right into the lol factory.

I'm also excited to see if JJ Abrams can deliver with "Person of Interest" especially since the abysmal "Undercovers" had his name on it last year and absolutely tanked.

There are also times I wish I still watched "Bones" and had maybe given "Big Bang Theory" a try.  But they both have a strike against them that I find hard to look past, one is a basic crime procedural and the other has a laugh track. I just got a giggle thinking that maybe Bones was the show with a laugh track and Big Bang Theory was the procedural. Sorry, I'm a simple man.


MUST:  Community, Person of Interest

The color coded breakdown:

Green = Will be programmed on my DVR
Blue = Not for me, but feel free. 
 = Move along, nothing to see here.


ABC - Charlie's Angels
CBS - Big Bang Theory
CW - Vampire Diaries
Fox - X Factor Results
NBC - Community


CBS - How to Be A Gentleman
NBC - Parks and Recreation


ABC - Grey's Anatomy
CBS - Person of Interest
CW - The Secret Circle
Fox - Bones
NBC - The Office


NBC - Whitney


ABC - Private Practice
CBS - The Mentalist
NBC - Prime Suspect

Thursday's Total: One 1 hour drama, Four half hour comedies, one 1 hour reality, 4 hours

Overall Total: 5 hours drama, 5 hours comedy, 7 hours Reality  = 17 hours

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

21 Hours of TV 2011 Fall Preview (Wednesday)

23 seasons.

This will be the 23rd time Jeff Probst and I have journeyed to a far away place met some strangers there and watched them try to not only survive off the land but outwit each other to win a million dollars.  And you know what?  It's still amazing.  Sure there is the occasional off season, but even when Survivor is not 100% it still offers more drama and excitement than most of what is on TV anyway.  And when Survivor is hitting on all cylinders (as it was last season when Rob Mariano played possibly the best game of Survivor in history) it is better than not only every reality show, but possibly ever show on TV period.  It remains one of my only "try to watch it live" shows still on my schedule.  Twice former contestants "Coach" and "Ozzy" are back to play this season, so if nothing else, we are in for some wonderful new proverbs for everyone's favorite dragon slayer.

I already to talked about "Up All Night", "Free Agents", and "The X Factor" in last week's post, so I won't go too in depth with them, except to say, fingers crossed.

"The Middle" is probably the funniest show you aren't watching and "Modern Family" is likely the funniest show you are.  My goodness, Modern Family is hilarious.  Perfect casting, perfect writing, such a great show.

Finally, has there ever been a show you were more sure you didn't want to see based solely on the title than "H8R"?  Seriously, CW, stop.... just.... stop.

MUST: Survivor, Modern Family

The color coded breakdown:


ABC - The Middle
CBS - Survivor
CW - H8R
Fox - The X Factor
NBC - Up All Night


ABC - Suburgatory
NBC - Free Agents


ABC - Modern Family
CBS - Criminal Minds
CW - America's Next Top Model
NBC - Harry's Law


ABC - Happy Endings
Fox - I Hate My Teenage Daughter


ABC - Revenge
NBC - Law & Order: SVU

Wednesday's Total:  Zero Dramas, Four half-hour comedies, Two 1 hour reality, 4 hours

Overall Total: 4 hours drama, 3 hours comedy, 6 hours Reality = 13 hours

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

21 Hours of TV 2011 Fall Preview (Tuesday)

Every time I think I'm done with you Glee, you pull me back in.  Just when I decided I could give up those amazing music pieces because the drama between them was just too much to deal with, you have to go and put out "The Glee Project".  Now I feel like I have to tune in to see how Lyndsay, Samuel, and most of all my boy Damien, do on the show.  I just can't quit you Glee.... ok, this is just getting awkward, can we move on?

Tuesday also all of the sudden might have some comedy to check out.  Zooey's "New Girl" and Tim Allen's "Last Man Standing" will both vie to tickle my funny bone.  I'll also invest in "The Biggest Loser" again.  Even if the shows are twice as long as they need to be, the season ending payoff is one of the best on TV.

FYI, CBS's NCISes are DOA IMHO (at least those are my initial thoughts).  And I'm still having trouble buying into the fact that we live in a world where 90210 needed to be a TV show once, let alone twice.

The only other show that I'm a tad curious about is NBC's Parenthood.  I've heard good things about it but just can see investing the time to get into it.  Maybe if we get to the end of the week and I have an hour to spare I'll throw it in.

MUST:  New Girl

The color coded breakdown:


ABC - Last Man Standing
CW - 90210
Fox - Glee
NBC - The Biggest Loser


ABC - Man Up


ABC - Dancing with the Stars
CBS - NCIS: Los Angeles
CW - Ringer
Fox - New Girl


Fox - Raising Hope


ABC - Body of Proof
CBS - Unforgettable
NBC - Parenthood

Tuesday's Total: One 1 hour dramas, Two half hour Comedies, One 2 hour Reality, 4 hours

Overall Total: 4 hours drama, 1 hours Comedy, 4 hours Reality, 9 hours

Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday Movie Review: Apollo 18

Apollo 18 joins the illustious ranks of movies based on "found footage". Movies like Blair Witch, Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity, and...uh... I think that's it. How does it stack up?

21 Hours of TV 2011 Fall Preview (Monday)

Welcome to the 5th annual 21 hours of TV Fall preview. Everyday this week we will look at the current day of the week and what will be on that night (Friday, we will look at the weekend). It's my self imposed task every year to limit my TV viewing each week to 21 hours (14 without commercials, just so you understand I'm not as addicted as you think.). In going through the daily schedules I will rate each show red, blue, or green. Green means I will be watching (at least initially), blue that I won't but I won't hold it against you if you do, and red that I refuse to believe anyone of sound mind could be interested. At the end of the week I will add my total hours up and cut what I need in order to get down to the required 21, which won't include the 3 hours every week I peek through my fingers to see if the Detroit Lions have learned what this thing called "Football" is supposed to look like.

Oh one more thing.  Each day I will pick one or two "MUST" shows that in my humble opinion should be an automatic DVR add for all members of the human race. 


The big news on Monday is the move of "The Sing Off" to a fall premiere show.  Personally I think this is a mistake even though I adore the show.  There is already enough "singing talent show" fatigue with The X-Factor debuting and slotting The Sing Off over the winter break seemed to allow it to stand out.  Maybe I'm just frustrated that it's only day one and I have to spend 2 of my limited hours on it.  But spend them I will, cause it's a killer show. Side Note: It's interesting that Nicole Scherzinger left judging Sing Off to judge for The X-Factor and now the shows will be competing.  Doesn't mean much to me anyway, I'll be watching The Sing Off for Ben Fold's observations, and The X-Factor for Mr. Cowell's.  Nicole was never part of the equation anyway.

Other than that the night has two of the best hours on TV with House and Castle, whose leading men (Hugh and Nathan) are a joy to watch (even if it does feel like House's trials and tribulations may be stretching the premise of the show thin very shortly.)

I should also admit I'm fairly curious to see how 2 and a half men handles having Ashton Kutcher around, but not curious enough to actually turn the channel there and find out.

One final note.  Can we please just all agree to change the name of Dancing with the Stars to something a little more intellectually honest?  I'm not sure which is more offensive, that they call these people "stars" or that they call what they do "dancing".  How about, "Dance Lessons with People Who You May Have Heard Of Once."?  No?  I'm open to suggestions.


The color coded breakdown:


ABC - Dancing with the Stars
CBS - How I Met Your Mother
CW - Gossip Girl
Fox - Terra Nova
NBC - The Sing-Off


CBS - 2 Broke Girls


CBS - Two and a Half Men
CW - Heart of Dixie
Fox - House


CBS - Mike & Molly


ABC - Castle
CBS - Hawaii Five-O
NBC - The Playboy Club

Monday's total: Three 1 hour dramas, zero comedies, One 2 hour reality = 5 hours today, 5 hours total.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The 2011 3 Ep Test

Sometimes things just don't work out quite the way you planned.

Last year, about this time, I released my annual look at which shows I felt were worth testing out for the new TV season. (2010 3 Ep Test)

The result?

Aside from me crying tears of anguish having to sit through a full three episodes of most of them (including my most anticipated "No Ordinary Family", which was inexplicably horrible.) I have once again lost faith in the competency of the US Network executive.  Of my list only Hawaii 5-0 is still on the air, and I quit watching that about the time I realized it was just another crime procedural with mediocre actors, but this time with beaches! (Wait, doesn't CSI: Miami have those?)

What's baffling is that the year before, the 2009 3 Ep Test had three legitimate home runs.  Modern Family, Glee, and Community are all shows that are still going strong.  I'm guessing at the end of the day the execs really don't know what will work so the just hope to get lucky.

With that in mind, I assume this year, like so many others (2008 3 Ep Test, 2007 3 Ep Test), will be a game of blind darts in which some shows will hit the bulls-eye (like Chuck, the longest living alumni of the 3 Ep Test) and some will miss the board completely, ricochet into a passerby, knock them into traffic causing a vehicle to swerve into a pet store releasing thousands of rabid animals into an unsuspecting public, resulting in a new strain of virus that will wipe out 90% of the population and possibly create a zombie like apocalypse (I'm looking at you "Outsourced")

Here are the 13 (yes, 13!) new shows that will get the 3 Ep Test this year in order from my least anticipated to my most anticipated.

Let's hope for the best.

Free Agents (NBC)
Premieres: Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 10:30/9:30c

Truthfully I'm just curious to see if Hank Azaria can pull off a sitcom.  I've enjoyed him immensely in smaller roles and thought he did great playing Mitch Albom in the "Tuesdays with Morrie" movie.  My guess though is that he should just stick with the litany of voices he does on the Simpson's and keep cashing that pay check for the next 20 years.

Allen Gregory (Fox)
Premieres: Sunday, Oct. 30 at 8:30/7:30c

Speaking of The Simpsons, there are two sections of the broadcasting week that get an automatic bid into the 3 Ep Test.  The first is any comedy NBC slots into a Thursday night, and the second is the FOX Sunday night animation. That doesn't mean they will be good (I fled Family Guy and American Dad pretty quickly) but it does mean the history of success is worth the risk (I still miss King of the Hill).  Allen Gregory appears likely to fall on the fail side of the line, but I'll give it it's shot.

A Gifted Man (CBS)
Premieres: Friday, Sept. 23 at 8/7c

It's not like we haven't seen the premise before.  Someone is dead and they are communicating with the living to find closure.  Sixth Sense comes to mind (spoiler alert) and my favorite example, the underrated "Frighteners" helmed by an at the time unknown Peter Jackson.  It's not even a new idea for TV (wasn't this the whole premise of Ghost Whisperer?) Point being, if this is to have any staying power, they better nail the character work, or it will seem all too familiar.

Grimm (NBC)
Premieres: Friday, Oct. 21 at 9/8c

Not sure how, or why, it happens, but the pop culture cosmos often emits things in pairs.  Volcano movies, asteroid movies, and animated bug movies are now joined by "TV shows about fairy tales being real" in the "we swear, it was our idea first" historical record.  Grimm would definitely be the darker of the two and looks to feel like CSI meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  The later part of that equation is no surprise as it comes from a couple of former Buffy producers.  Without Joss Whedon though, let's just say I'm intrigued but not hopeful.

Once Upon a Time (ABC)
Premieres: Sunday, Oct. 23 at 8/7c

The other fairy tale... uh... tale also has an interesting pedigree in that it is being written by some LOST alums. In this one famous characters are stuck in the real world and our heroine Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison who you may know as Cameron from House) must solve that mystery with the help of a 10 year old boy.  I have a 10 year old boy in my house, and unless solving the mystery involves covering the floor with strewn clothing or forgetting to do homework she may be in trouble.

Unforgettable (CBS)
Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 10/9c

This one centers around a woman who literally remembers everything she sees or knows.  If that gimmick is enough to set it apart from the glut of crime procedurals on the air then it might have a chance.  I have a feeling though that it will just make me miss "Lie to Me" even more then I already do.

Last Man Standing (ABC)
Premieres: Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 8/7c

I'm assuming the title Home Improvement 2 must have been taken.  Tim Allen is back on TV and if there is one thing that can make me grit my teeth and withstand a laugh track it's my nostalgia and love for Home Improvement.  If Tim brings back half the charm and fun of that show I'll stick around a bit.  On a side note, did you ever wonder if the reason Wilson (the Home Improvement neighbor) only showed half his face is because his lower face was disfigured in a freak microwave popcorn accident?  Yeah, uh...  me neither.

Up All Night (NBC)
Premieres: Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 10/9c

If Will Arnett isn't enough (and he apparently wasn't for last season's short lived "Running Wilde") then maybe Christina Applegate and Maya Rudolph will do the trick!  I know big names don't necessarily mean big laughs, but I'm hoping this one works out for Will.   I've been rooting for him to land since Arrested Development gave up the ghost, but if not, at least he has a great career ahead of him in voice overs.

Whitney (NBC)
Premieres: Thursday, Sept. 22 at 9:30/8:30c

I'm so torn on this one. Pro - Thursday night, NBC, good track record.  Con - appears to have a laugh track.  Pro - Whitney Cummings may actually be extremely funny. Con - Did I mention it might have a laugh track?

New Girl (Fox)
Premieres: Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 9/8c

"Zooey Deschanel is a cutie." I may or may not have uttered this sentence to my wife after watching her in "500 Day of Summer" or "Yes Man" or maybe it was "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy".  So now when her name comes up, my wife will say something like, "oh, you mean the cutie?" ...sigh... I just meant that she's got that girl next door, quirky, adorable thing going on.... I'm not helping myself here am I?  Also probably not a good sign that I just recalled her filmography off the top of my head.  OK, if anyone asks, I'm only interested in this show because it has Damon Wayans, Jr. in it.  And those Wayans brothers are hilarious.  Am I right?

The X Factor (Fox)
Premieres: Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 8/7c

Is there room for another singing competition on TV?  When it reunites Simon and Paula (somehow I actually am excited to see her) there will at least be a little bit of buzz.  I'm always up for a good singing competition (I still think "The Voice" was an ok show that missed being an amazing show because it didn't have enough confidence to follow through on its premise) and the fact that the X-Factor prize is a staggering $5 MILLION adds a little bit of oomph.  Reality TV is always a bit of a crap shoot, but I'm in for at least the first three episodes.

Person of Interest (CBS)
Premieres: Thursday, Sept. 22 at 9/8c

Are you for real?! J.J. Abrams is teaming with Jonathan Nolan (aka Christopher's brother) for a show with Michael Emerson (Ben from LOST) and Jim Caviezel (Jesus from the Bible) that is conceptually like Minority Report?! Does TV do call ahead seating?! DICER TABLE FOR TWO!!!! (breathe in.... breathe out...) Consider me interested.

Terra Nova (Fox)
Premieres: Monday, Sept. 26 at 8/7c

Jurrasic Park on TV, except the Dinos aren't coming to our world, we are going to theirs (and they don't seem happy about it).  With the Steven Speilberg name behind it and years of anticipation built up for it Terra Nova might be my most anticipated show since another show that shot on Hawaii started a few years ago.  That time the roars on the Island ended up being a shape shifting cursed man in black who wanted to escape the island and the teasing and endless board games with his brother, this time its dinosaurs.  Well, that's a bit simpler, huh?