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Showing posts from March, 2013

He Is Risen!

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Happy Easter everyone!

Christ Is Risen, by Matt Maher


Beneath the weight of all our sin You bow to none but heavens will No scheme of hell, no scoffer's crown No burden great can hold you down In strength you reign Forever let your church proclaim
Christ is risen from the dead Trampling over death by death Come awake, come awake! Come and rise up from the grave
Christ is risen from the dead We are one with him again Come awake, come awake! Come and rise up from the grave
Oh death! Where is your sting? Oh hell! Where is your victory? Oh Church! Come stand in the light! The glory of God has defeated the night!
Oh death! Where is your sting? Oh hell! Where is your victory? Oh Church! Come stand in the light! Our God is not dead, he's alive! he's alive!
Christ is risen from the dead Trampling over death by death Come awake, come awake! Come and rise up from the grave Christ is risen from the dead We are one with him again Come awake, come awake! Come and rise up from the grave

Winter Is Coming

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"I will hurt you for this. A day will come when you think you are safe and happy, and your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth. And you will know the debt is paid." — Tyrion Lannister

When "Game of Thrones" premiered in April 2011, I didn't know what to think. I wasn't familiar with the books, Fantasy isn't  my favorite genre, and all I read was that it has lots of sex and violence. That seemed fitting to HBO, but I wasn't sure it was for me.

It turned out the show had a dense world, did have a lot of sex and violence, and was a fantasy epic. But it wasn't what I expected. By the time episode nine of the first season rolled around, I was hooked. Now all the books line my shelves and I can't wait for the third season to premier tomorrow night.

My guess is HBO is pretty excited too, as the show has fast become the signature show for the network. Here's a few reasons why it's one of the most fascinating shows on TV.

1. It defies expec…

Upcoming Releases — April

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Here's  a look at the movies heading our way in April.

Friday, April 5:
Evil Dead — Director Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead" and its two sequels are cult classics. They were made on the cheap — maybe less so for "Army of Darkness" — have a campy quality to them, showcase the wonder that is Bruce Campbell, and have a fun spirit. None of those things appear to be true of this ultra-violent looking re-make of "Evil Dead." Well, except maybe that it was made on the cheap. That could just be a matter of personal taste. Anyway, I like the original "Evil Dead" and I can't understand what they're going for with the new version. I could be wrong, this could be great. I just don't think so.

Jurassic Park 3D — I still remember my pre-teen bliss and wonder when I saw "Jurassic Park" in the theater. I read the book, I loved the movie, and it's one of my favorites of all time. While I'm not wild about the blatant money grab happ…

Now Playing

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Here's a look at my review of the new trip to "Oz"

Oz the Great and Powerful
Starring: James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, and Mila Kunis
Synopsis: “The Wizard of Oz” debuted in 1939, and it was a revelation. It still ranks among people’s favorite film because of the beautiful way the story was told. For its time, it was a technological marvel. Even today, it’s hard not to be drawn into the wonder of “The Wizard of Oz.” The film starts in stark black and white then explodes with color and a magical world full of adventure, wisdom and lessons we can all take back to Kansas, or wherever we call home. When watching “Oz the Great and Powerful,” the new prequel to “The Wizard of Oz” that tells the origin story for the great wizard, Glinda the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch of the West, you get the sense that director Sam Raimi was moved by his first “Oz” experience, too. He tries to painstakingly re-create that feeling with this prequel, but it just doesn’t quite…

Then Came Schmidt

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"'The Hobbit,' that wasn't very good. If I wanted to watch dwarves have a dinner party in real time I'd have gone to Korea town." — Schmidt, "New Girl"

Comedy is hard. While most of the dramas on TV that are successful follow a rigid formula, comedies don't have that luck. In the late 1990s came "Friends," which was a wildly successful comedy about young adults, their lives, and their struggles to maturity. Since it went off the air in 2004, people have been looking for its heir apparent.

Well, look no further. Now in its second season, "New Girl" is not only the best comedy on the air, it might be one of the best shows on television, period. And it just keeps getting better. Of course, a big reason for that is the strength of the ensemble cast.

When the show was first pitched, it was noted as a starring vehicle for Zooey Deschanel. It is that, and she is good as the titular "New Girl" Jess. But what's helped t…

A New 'Revolution'

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"We lived in an electric world. We relied on it for everything. And then the power went out. Everything stopped working. We weren't prepared. Fear and confusion lead to panic. The lucky ones made it out of the cities. The government collapsed. Militias took over, controlling the food supply and stockpiling weapons. We still don't know why the power went out, but we're hopeful that someone will come and light the way." — Miles Matheson, "Revolution"

"Revolution," otherwise known as the only show on NBC not named "The Voice" that draws a decent ratings share, returned on Monday. The show debuted in the fall, ran 10 new episodes, and took a break in November. It finally returned on March 25.

There are a few schools of thought on this. First, these kind of serialized shows benefit from no reruns. That's understandable. It is a problem many shows like this have dealt with in the past. Second, "Revolution" benefits from foll…

Merle, a requiem

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"I don't know why I do the things I do. I'm a damned mystery to me. But I know you, Rick. Yeah, I thought a lot about you. You ain't got the spine for it." — Merle, "The Walking Dead"

Redemption is an important concept in our faith, and an equally important concept in our society. We all want to think there is hope for us — no matter how far we've strayed from the path. Stories of redemption are powerful, galvanizing things in our world, no matter where they come from.

Sunday on "The Walking Dead," in the penultimate episode of the third season, we saw a story of redemption I never expected. It came in the character of Merle, and it wasn't some saccharine sweet story that couldn't be believed. It was somehow fitting for the character.

And like all characters who find a center, a purpose, or redemption in the world of "The Walking Dead," it ended with him departing. And that might have been the most surprising part. I saw…

Returning to the land of Oz

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"Aren't you the great man we've been waiting for?" — Theodora, "Oz the Great and Powerful"

I think everyone remembers the first time they saw "The Wizard of Oz." There is a great magic to the film — not just because it was unique for the time in terms of the way the film was put together, but because the story and characters jumped off the screen. That's one of the reasons it's become an iconic classic.

When I heard that Disney was putting out a prequel, I was excited and pessimistic. How can you recapture the wonder of a film like "The Wizard of Oz?" We've seen so many prequels — "The Hobbit," "Star Wars: Episode I, the Phantom Menace" — fail to match the quality of the film that preceded them that I wondered if the same fate might befall "Oz." Turns out that is the case.

My return to "Oz" was slightly more satisfying than the sequel Disney tried earlier — "Return to Oz" — b…

Expect the Unexpected

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"The closer you look, the less you'll see." — Thaddeus Bradley, "Now You See Me"

It happens every year. At this point, you'd think I would stop doing it. Every year I see Gonzaga as a decently high seed in my bracket. Every year I think, 'they won't advance, they always blow it; pick someone else." Then I pick them to win a few games, they don't, and my bracket looks like a hot mess by Friday afternoon.

This year Gonzaga entered the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament as a No. 1 seed, in fact the overall No. 1. They almost became the first No. 1 seed ever to lose to a No. 16 seed in the first round. They limped though that game only to get bounced by Wichita State on Saturday. I should have known...

But, then again, isn't that why we watch the tournament? There is nothing like the first weekend — as the field trims from 64 to 16 in four furious days. You start out Thursday morning with optimism and a pristine bracket. By dinner on the…

All Can Be Saved

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Palm Sunday is the start of Holy Week, one of the most important weeks on the Christian calendar. This is a time when we reflect on Jesus' ministry, His death, and the sacrifice He made for us. It's an important part of our faith — the idea that God came down, lived as one of us, and sacrificed Himself so we'd have a path to salvation.

That's what makes it heart-breaking when some people don't think they can be saved; when they think they're beyond salvation. This, of course, flies in the face of what we see in Scriptures, but it's a common part of our society.

As part of his Palm Sunday message, Pastor Graham shared a story about a woman who seemed to offer just such a question. It was hard not to be moved thinking about her, and so many like her that feel the same way.

One of my favorite songs is "Jesus Walks" by Kanye West. Some would probably take issue with that. It's not the most church-friendly song in terms of language, but the ideas …

Unnecessary Prequel

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"It's not like my mother is a maniac or a raving thing. She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven't you?" — Norman Bates, "Psycho"

Even 53 years after its release, "Psycho" remains a classic in the genre. It was a master work by a master auteur, Alfred Hitchcock. It was followed by several sequels, none of which matched the quality and depth of the original. Some of which even tried to explain how Norman Bates got to be the way he is.

"Psycho 4," which I accidentally decided to watch once, was depressing for this reason. Anthony Perkins was there to tie to the original, but most of it was odd flashbacks meant to show the terrible relationship between Norman Bates and his mother.

Into this void comes "Bates Motel," a new weekly drama on A&E that seeks to chronicle a young Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) and his mom (Vera Farmiga). On paper it seems like a good idea — to some — but it is w…

Now Playing

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Here's a look at the new movie I saw this week.


The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
Starring: Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, Steve Buscemi, and Olivia Wilde
Synopsis: Like most things in the entertainment world, magic has changed a lot over the past few decades. Illusionists are now more daring, more in-your-face and more crude in plying their craft. What used to be about simple illusions, slight-of-hand and mis-direction is now about something else. This is what’s at the heart of the new film, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.” It’s a film about magic, second chances and trying to make some people laugh. And, to some degree, it works. There was a time when a film headlined by Jim Carrey and Steve Carell would have been a huge draw. But this isn’t that time. Instead, the film fell a bit flat in both its execution and opening weekend Box Office draw. It’s not hard to guess where this film is going. It’s a pretty by-the-numbers approach to this type of story that hopes to draw you in with m…

Superheroes, Batman

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Our look at Superhero stories wrapped last night with Batman — specifically the incarnation of Batman from "The Dark Knight," the middle chapter of the Christopher Nolan trilogy on Batman.

Batman is one of the big properties for D.C. Comics. He was created by Bob Kane and first appeared in Detective Comics No. 27 in May 1939. A cultural icon, Batman has been licensed and adapted into a variety of media, from radio to television and film, and appears on a variety of merchandise sold all over the world such as toys and video games. The character has also intrigued psychiatrists with many trying to understand the character's psyche and his true ego in society. In May 2011, Batman placed second on IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Heroes of All Time, after Superman. Empire magazine also listed him second in their 50 Greatest Comic Book Characters of All Time. Over the summer, when Entertainment Weekly had a fan pole of the greatest superheroes, Batman ranked number one.

What mak…

Superheroes, Week 5

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Here's a look at the worksheet from tonight's final class.


Title: “The Dark Knight” (2008)

Starring: Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Michael Caine.

Synopsis: This starkly brilliant film from director Christopher Nolan serves as the second in his rebooted Batman franchise. Bale, as Bruce Wayne/Batman, delivers one of the best performances of his career, as does Eckhart as district attorney Harvey Dent. However, the film was largely dominated, and overshadowed by, the performance of Heath Ledger as The Joker. Not only is Ledger’s performance brilliant, the tragic circumstances surrounding how his life ended helped give it a new life and a new meaning for audiences.

“The Dark Knight” is the rare genre picture that transcends its genre in a revolutionary way. It would be a mistake to pigeonhole this as a comic book film, it is an incredibly deep, well-acted, and well-crafted drama. The film was not only worthy of Best Picture no…

An abundance of sex and violence

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"Children learn how to deal with relationships by what they see on TV. They see people having casual sex and using obscenity-laden language... I don't see how it could possibly be good for kids." — Faye Steuer, professor of psychology at Charleston College (Charleston Post and Courier, August 25, 2005)

Violence, and to a lesser degree sex, as depicted in media have been a hot topic this year. In the wake of mass shootings, gun debates, and the increasingly violent content in TV and movies is worth addressing. I think, in general, people go too far and creating a direct link between depictions on screen and horrors committed in real life. However, it's hard to argue with the idea that all this violence has been numbing us as a culture.

That's what makes "The Following" even more appalling. The show is a modest hit for FOX, has been the most successful new show launched on a network this winter, and has been picked up for a second season. The pilot had s…

An Outsiders' View of 'The Bible'

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"We may see more TV for religious believers as a result of [History Channel's] The Bible. What I'd love to see — but am not so sure we will — is more TV about religious believers. Religious faith (or the passionate lack thereof) plays a huge role in billions of people's lives. Primetime TV, however, has a habit of dealing with faithful characters badly or — more often — not at all. … The reason TV series should have religious characters and take them seriously is the same reason they should have racial and cultural diversity: not as an act of charity, not to pander to demographics, but because it makes for better stories. People who believe things are interesting. People wrestling with the big questions are interesting." — James Poniewozik, TV Critic

History Channel's take on "The Bible" has now had three airings, offering 60 percent of its content. So far we've made it through the Old Testament (five hours) and the beginning of the story of Je…

Making a Difference

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"I know we're all pretty small in the big scheme of things, and I suppose the most you can hope for is to make some kind of difference, but what kind of difference have I made? What in the world is better because of me?" — Warren Schmidt, "About Schmidt"

On Sunday we heard from Wess Stafford. Wess has been a part of the team at Compassion International since 1977, and has been President since 1993. He is preparing to step away, but before he goes he offered the message at First Pres.

We have been looking at the idea of Justice and Mercy as part of the run up to Easter. These are important parts of our faith, but probably things we don't talk about much. Still, I was struck as Wess noted that our congregation has adopted more than 1,000 children through Compassion International. As he put it, enough to fill our sanctuary.

A lot of the time I think it's easy to look at the problems in the world and feel overwhelmed. When Jim Martin spoke about human traf…

Mixed Returns

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The free agency period has begun. For Denver, this has meant some mixed results through the first week, or so. Today, I thought I would look at the good, the bad, and the unknown of this first flurry of activity.

The Good:
* Signing Wes Welker (2 years, $12 million). Not only is Welker a good receiver, this is a signing that weakens the New England Patriots, a rival. The Pats may have signed Danny Amendola, which could be good, but he will be new and Tom Brady loves Wes Welker. This will hurt the Patriots chemistry. But on the flip side, it will greatly improve the situation for the Denver Broncos. The Broncos have two great outside receivers — Demariyus Thomas and Eric Decker. But during last year's playoffs, it became painfully obvious we needed more of a threat over the middle. When Thomas and Decker were walled off by the Baltimore Ravens, Peyton Manning struggled to help the Broncos move the ball. With Welker and the two tight ends — Joel Driessen and Jacob Tamme — that will…

Superheroes, Superman

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"You say the world doesn't need a savior, but every day I hear them crying out for one." — Superman, "Superman Returns"

Superman is one of the oldest, most familiar superhero tales. He made his debut in "Man of Steel" in June 1938, but was actually created six years earlier, in 1932, by writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian-born artist Joe Shuster in Cleveland, Ohio. He was created by two men who were Jewish during the height of the Great Depression.

Those might not seem like important details, but I think that really informs the attributes of Superman and the way the character has been embraced and perceived in culture. In considering the aspect of their Jewish heritage, there is an interesting parallel to be drawn. One of the reasons many didn’t recognize Jesus as our Savior during his own time, and the reason Jewish people don’t recognize him as our Savior to this day is that they expected something different. They expected the savior to be a powerful,…

Superheroes, Week 4

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Here is a look at the worksheet for tonight on "Superman Returns." See everyone at 6:30 p.m.!



Title: “Superman Returns” (2006)

Starring: Brandon Routh, Kevin Spacey and Kate Bosworth

Synopsis: Though this film came years after the “Superman” films featuring Christopher Reeve, this is not a re-birth of the franchise. In fact, director Bryan Singer worked hard to make “Superman Returns” a sequel set square in the middle of that world. The idea is that the film is a follow-up to “Superman II” that ignores “Superman III” and “Superman IV” and reboots the franchise. That’s why the storyline picks up somewhat in an established world and has tangible ties to the original “Superman,” crafted by director Richard Donner in 1978. The new film was also made with Donner’s blessing and using archival voice recordings he made of Marlon Brando as Superman’s father, Jor-El. The film picks up approximately five years after the events of “Superman II” with Clark Kent (Routh) returning from an…

Finding Love at 'Parade's End'

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Recently HBO offered the American broadcast of the BBC mini-series "Parade's End." The five hour mini-series is based on the set of novels from Ford Maddox Ford that were collectively known at "Parade's End."

In December 2010, John N. Gray hailed it as "possibly the greatest 20th-century novel in English." Likewise, Mary Gordon labeled it as "quite simply, the best fictional treatment of war in the history of the novel." And the mini-series was solid, but might have been difficult to follow had you not read all three or four of Ford's novels.

I love Benedict Cumberbatch. He is great in "Sherlock," and he's really hot right now. He was great in this, too, as Christopher Tietjens. Rebecca Hall, who plays his vicious wife Sylvia, is great, too. The performances, writing, structure, and directing in this mini-series is strong. It's enjoyable and was engrossing to watch.

That being said, there are inherent problems in t…

Mercy

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"Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many." — Gandalf, "Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring."

This week we talked about mercy. This is an important topic, something we all need at some point, yet something it seems people are slow to provide. Mercy is showing kindness to those who are in a tough spot, even and especially when they don't deserve it.

I instantly thought of this quote from Gandalf in the first volume of "Lord of the Rings." It is a powerful sequence because Frodo sees Gollum as devious and believes he should be punished. Instead, Gandalf urges mercy, stating that we don't know how things are supposed to pla…

Redemption and Culture

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Even for Christians, redemption is a hard idea to wrap our minds around. Sure, we know that when we earnestly confess our sins, God offers us redemption through His grace and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. But even though we, as Christians, have all been offered this amazing gift, I've noticed we're a little stingy when it comes to seeing redemption with others.

So if it's that hard for Christians to live this out, is it any wonder that our society has so many confused ideas about this. I couldn't help but begin to muse on this when watching TV this week. What I was watching doesn't really matter in terms of the details of the plot, but it was the larger idea that it touched on without even really meaning to.

Basically, the show depicted someone who had done some horrible things in his past. Since, he had reformed, done good, and helped others and turned his life around. But the question was whether that eliminated his past misdeeds. This, of course, was something…

The Bible, Pt. 1

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The Bible is a big book. It's the best selling book of all time, but my guess would be a lot of people haven't read it. Still, it's hard to imagine fitting the thousands of pages of wisdom, stories, and theology into a 10-hour mini series for the History Channel. Yet, that was the task producers Mark Burnett ("Survivor," "The Amazing Race") and Roma Downey ("Touched By An Angel") took on.

The result of their work premiered on Sunday and will run in two-hour blocks until the end of the month — ironically Easter Sunday, March 31. And it was... interesting.

I have seen some people make jokes about the fact that Noah was Scottish, the mixed ethnicity of the actors playing the parts, and about some of the performances. Let's be honest, this isn't an Academy Award winning production, it's a labor of love. Some of those things are cheesy, but they aren't really worth criticizing.

Others have commented about the omissions. I had a cha…

Superheroes, X-Men

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Thanks for all the comments last night. I thought it was an interesting discussion of the material, and I appreciate all those that came out. Below is a few of my thoughts on "X-Men."

A lot of Comic Book properties seek to illuminate readers and the public on some issue or idea, but few are as politically charged as "X-Men." Since its inception in the 1960s, the comic has come to stand for a lot of different ways we look at the idea of acceptance, persecution, and the way our society reacts to things that are different.

In the past, "X-Men" has served as a social commentary on racial, ethnic, and cultural division in our country. Charles Xavier has been compared to Martin Luther King, Jr., while Magneto has been compared to the more radical Malcolm X. Those aren't perfect comparisons, but it's interesting to see how this has taken on life and been a part of a comic book and the film series that was made from it.

Throughout its history, the X-Men …

Superheroes, Week 3

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Here's the worksheet for tonight's class on "The X-Men." See you tonight at 6:30!


Title: “X-Men” (2000)
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Famke Jassen, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, and James Marsden
Synopsis: “X-Men,” directed by Bryan Singer, was one of the first big, modern blockbuster films to be based on comic books. We see comic book film adaptations all the time now, and after the past 13 years it’s hard to imagine them not being a part of the cinematic landscape. But this modern explosion of comic book films — particularly the works of the Marvel Comic universe — came on with the release of, and success of, “X-Men.” Superman was featured in a quartet of films from the late 1970s through the 1980s, and Batman was featured in four films — portrayed by three different actors — in the 1990s, but by the end of that decade the franchise had faded.
Singer, who had been best known for directing the Academy Award-winning film “The Usual Suspects,” took on the projec…

An invitation to un'Follow?'

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Arguably the most successful new show of the year — certainly of the winter/spring — has been "The Following." The show, from "Scream" writer Kevin Williamson, had plenty of promise in its pilot. It also went for shock value in terms of story and violence as a hook. It worked to a certain extent.

Now seven episodes into its initial 15-episode run, the show is still drawing strong ratings. It's earned a quick second season pick up and its starting to show where it's going. The question is, will the journey be worth it.

Initially, when considering this show, I questioned how it would stretch this conceit out for a full season, let alone multiple seasons. It seemed there were a handful of followers, a simple mystery, and not a lot of room for character growth.

Turns out the writers had a trick or two up their sleeves. For those that haven't seen Monday's episode, stop reading now. Well, Williamson and the team unveiled their plans for the show during …

Analyzing "Red Widow"

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This has been an inordinately poor year for new shows. I mean, can you think of any new shows on the networks that have been great? "Revolution" is decent, but that's not setting the bar high and the fact that the show has been off the air for four months might kill that momentum.

I personally have been a fan of "The Mindy Project," which started out as amusing and has improved steadily throughout the year. "Elementary" has been a strong new show for CBS and has gotten steadily better too, but that's about it. "Nashville" was critically lauded but has been sort of hit-and-miss for me.

But for as marginal as the fall was, this spring has been incredibly worse. Another prime example of that is "Red Widow," which took over the 10 p.m. slot on Sunday night beginning last week. The show comes from Melissa Rosenberg — a writer for "Dexter" and "The Twilight Saga" — and, oddly, it sort of feels like a mash up of t…

Standing Up

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"If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." That saying has been said a number of times by a number of people. The great preacher Peter Marshall said something similar. Malcolm X, the militant civil rights leader, said it. It was the through line of a recent film, "Sucker Punch." And now it's featured in a song from The Script.

I guess there must be something to it. If we don't stand for something — our values, beliefs, those we hold close — we will go with the flow. That is certainly a major concern given our society and our current culture. In fact, the cultural tide would have us flow in whatever direction is popular. That, of course, is not what Jesus tells us.

We know we are to "do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God." (Micah 6:8). But Jesus actually challenges us to be shinning examples in a world where such things aren't popular. In the Sermon on the Mount he says we are salt and light. Being a l…

New Show Roundup

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Spring has not brought a bountiful selection of new shows. With some more waiting in the wings, here's a look at a few of the new offerings making the rounds.

Monday Mornings
Mondays at 10 p.m. on TNT
About: Dr. Sanjay Gupta is a respected TV doctor. He does well on CNN, and his book is probably pretty interesting. The TV show based on that book — adapted by David E. Kelley — is not. The show wants to be compelling. It wants to be part courtroom drama and part doctor show. But the characters are somewhat insufferable, the tension is more than a little depressing, and the Monday Morning meetings are caustic. I tried three episodes of this show and just couldn't get sucked in by anything but some aspects of the medical cases. If it was summer and there were no other options, I might be willing to stick with this. As it is, I'm not.
Grade: C-

Zero Hour
Thursdays at 8 p.m. on ABC
About: Ugh, this was billed as an action thriller in the vein of "National Treasure" an…

Now Playing

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Here's a look at a surprisingly captivating film that rounded out February.

Snitch
Starring: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Michael K. Williams, Jon Bernthal, Susan Sarandon, Barry Pepper, and Benjamin Bratt
Synopsis: There is a tendency to look at a trailer for a film like "Snitch" and assume it will be an action film. After all, the film is marketed to fans of The Rock, who is a great action movie star. But going into "Snitch" and assuming it's going to be an action film would be a mistake. This is a drama — one that wants to look at some hard issues. Sure, there are some action sequences in it, but don't mistake this for a spin-off of the "Fast and Furious" franchise, it isn't. Co-writer/director Ric Roman Waugh was a stunt coordinator, and the action and stunt sequences in the film are done well. But that isn't the point. Waugh and his co-writer, Justin Haythe ("Revolutionary Road," "The Clearing"), want …