Showing posts from May, 2013

Upcoming Releases — June

We're into the heart of the Summer season now, which means predominantly action films, comedies, and lighter fare for the kiddos. Here's a look at what's coming. Enjoy!

Friday, June 7:
The Internship — In 2005, Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn had the comedy of the summer with "Wedding Crashers." Neither has done anything big since. Obviously they're trying to recapture some of that glory with this film. It looks like it could be mildly amusing... or a giant waste of time. Either way, you're probably going to see it if you liked "Wedding Crashers."

The Purge — This strange futuristic horror film was originally slatted for a May 31 release, but when "After Earth" moved up a week, this Ethan Hawke film slid back a week. I don't know what's more disconcerting — the plot for this film or the fact I could see our country going this route. I guess both. Needless to say, the creep factor will be high with this film.

Much Ado About Nothin…

Now Playing

Here's a look at the new movies I saw this week!

Behind the Candelabra
Starring: Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Dan Aykroyd, Scott Bacula, and Rob Lowe
Synopsis: While the movie theaters opened manly action movies and comedies, HBO appealed to a different demographic with its latest original film — a biopic of Liberace. The film is based on the memoir from Scott Thorson (Matt Damon), Liberace's companion, assistant, and one-time lover. Though the famous piano player denied he was gay his whole life — even going so far as to sue publications, and win, when they suggested otherwise — it was fairly well known by those in his inner circle that he preferred the company of men. Thorson was one of those who was with the flamboyant star for many years, and one whose parting was a bit ugly. After five years together Thorson was thrown over for a younger man, and he lashed out by suing Liberace. After a modest settlement, the two reconciled shortly before the performer died of complicati…

Trapped in the Glory of the Past

"Nostalgia is denial - denial of the painful present... the name for this denial is golden age thinking - the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one ones living in - its a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present." — Paul, "Midnight in Paris"

Change is hard. I have never dealt with change well — which is part of what made this year fun. I have a new wife, a new job, live in a new city, in a new state, in a new house we bought in March. For someone who isn't good at change, I've endured quite a bit of it the last 10 months. And I'd like to think I've handled it as well as I could.

But I still understand how hard change can be. I couldn't help but think about that as I was in a meeting this week with a group discussing how the group at church can deal with big change — the kind of change that comes with embracing the future.

As I was listening to others process t…

Summer TV Premiers

As we've entered summer, networks are foisting new shows upon us. I'm here watching a lot of them so you don't have to. Your welcome :)

The Goodwin Games, Mondays at 8:30 p.m. on FOX
About: It's somewhat hard to judge a sitcom on its pilot. You can get a feel for the tone and characters, but it's all about establishing a world. Some pilots that aren't great produce great shows. Some pilots that are great produce lousy shows. You really learn more about what a comedy is going to be from its second episode. That's probably true of "The Goodwin Games." I wasn't blown away by the pilot. I could see why FOX soured on the show and why it made its way to summer. In looking at the second episode, I saw more of what it could offer. The leads — Becki Newton and Scott Foley — are amusing and good in these roles. There are some chuckles and the show has some potential. It comes from the team behind "How I Met Your Mother," but it's not on t…

The Minor League Experience

"There are only two seasons - winter and Baseball." — Bill Veeck

Having lived in Colorado Springs for almost a year, it made some sense to embrace a little bit of our new surroundings. Over the Memorial Day weekend, lured in part by the promise of $.50 hot dogs, we decided to attend a Sky Sox game.

I like baseball, but I don't love it. It's probably my third favorite sport. I have, however, been to a few live professional baseball games. But I haven't been since college. And I've never been to a minor league game, so it seemed exciting to visit Sky Sox stadium. Even more exciting — the Sky Sox were hosting the Fresno Grizzlies, the AAA team from Lindsay's home town, this long weekend.

So Sunday, after church, we changed and headed to the stadium for an afternoon of fun. Here's some of my take aways from the first minor league experience.

1. The Sky Sox mascot is a Fox. This shouldn't really matter that much, but it was pretty cool and pretty fun.…

Going With Encouragement

"There are moments when troubles enter our lives and we can do nothing to avoid them. But they are there for a reason. Only when we have overcome them will we understand why they were there.” — Paul Coelho

Sunday's message spoke to us about encouragement. It's an important topic — and one I think we easily forget about. It's easy in this fast-paced life to get so focused on ourselves, on our own journey, that we don't see the whole picture.

Encouragement is a big part of faith, and it's a big part of what's needed to move forward. We need to be encouraged at times, and we need to give encouragement at times. That means being connected to those around us, and letting them connect with us.

This also means sharing the concerns of our heart with God, and turning to His word during times when we need to be encouraged. God is the ultimate encourager, and can be the ultimate place where our encouragement comes during times of need.

Then we can pass those things …

Lessons in Humility — The first year of Homeownership

"A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows." — Doug Larson

I bought a house in March, and as a first-time homebuyer I am learning a lot of things. From time to time, I will probably share thoughts on that experience in this space. Today's lesson comes in the garden, or yard, or whatever I'm going to call the wilds that surround our house.

For the last five years in Paso Robles, I lived in a small apartment. Technically I had a side yard, but mostly it was a square of rocks. There were occasional weeds, which I plucked once or twice a year. Mostly, I didn't think about my outdoor space.

When we moved to Colorado, Lindsay and I were in an apartment again. This time, our only outdoor space consisted of a patio with no greenery. I didn't think much of gardening — and judging by what I saw — neither did the management at our apartment.

Then our house hunt began. Somewhere in my mind I realized that we would g…

Summer TV Reviews

The regular season is over, so now networks are dumping special original programming on us for the summer...

Motive, Thursdays at 9 p.m, on ABC
About: This show premiered with a special sneak peak last Monday, and I reviewed it on Tuesday. The second episode aired in its regular Thursday time slot with fellow Canadian import "Rookie Blue." This episode was touted as being better. It was mildly more interesting, but still doesn't feel all that original. They are billing it as completely unique because all you want to discover is the motive. Again, in all crime dramas the detectives discover the motive, so I don't think this is something completely different. It's OK for a summer drama, but it's clear it wouldn't make it during the regular season.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

Save Me, Thursdays at 8 p.m. on NBC
About: This Anne Heche comedy was, like "The Goodwin Games," announced during upfronts in the summer of 2012. Despite the fact that a…

Now Playing

Here's a look at the best blockbuster so far this summer.

Star Trek Into Darkness
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Simon Pegg, and Karl Urban
Synopsis: “Star Trek” fans are passionate about the world created by Gene Roddenberry. While the cast and crew of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” may have provided the best series, there’s only one film that stands out as the best in the history of the franchise — “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” That film included some of the most resonant and emotionally powerful of the 11 films that have been made. It also featured the most memorable bad guy, Richardo Montalban as Khan. When J.J. Abrams was tapped to reboot the “Star Trek” franchise, beginning with his film in 2009, some wondered how it would work. But the rebooted “Star Trek” was a perfect blend of an homage to fans and the world that had come before while opening the door to a new set of adventures. With the follow up, “Into Darkness…

The hero in 'Star Trek'

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." - Spock, "Star Trek Into Darkness"

There is one seminal moment in all of "Star Trek" lore. It comes near the end of "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," when Spock (Leonard Nimoy) sacrifices himself to save the Enterprise and her crew. As Captain Kirk (William Shatner) comes down, they have an emotional moment. Spock, who seemed emotionless, turns out to care a great deal for Kirk, the Enterprise, and all his friends. In part, that scene is what makes that the best of the "Star Trek" films.

In the original series, and in the original films, Spock is a key figure. While he might be the favorite of some, or even most, fans, there was no doubt that the central figure was Kirk. He was the alpha male hero, and not just because of William Shatner's performance.

When J.J. Abrams rebooted the franchise and series in 2009, some of that began the change. The characters, and their roles in…

Summer TV Premiers

Though we're still in the midst of season finales from the regular TV season, some networks have begun to unveil their summer TV premiers. On Monday night, FOX premiered its comedy, "The Goodwin Games," while ABC offered a preview of its new summer drama, "Motive." Reviews of the pilots of both are below.

The Goodwin Games, FOX Mondays at 8:30 p.m.
About: "The Goodwin Games" was announced with much fanfare in May, 2012 as part of the mid-season offerings for FOX during the 2012-2013 season. It comes from the team responsible for "How I Met Your Mother," and was touted as a winning new comedy starring Scott Foley and Becki Newton. Soon, the show recast a main role. That's not a great sign. Later, FOX cut the show's order from 13 episodes to just seven episodes. That's not the kiss of death for a show, after all "The Office" only got a six episode order for its first season, but that's not good. Then mid-season turne…

A Lannister Always Pays Their Debts

"And so my watch begins." — Tyrion Lannister, "Game of Thrones"

When "Game of Thrones" began, it seemed easy to figure out who the heroes were supposed to be and who the villains were supposed to be. But much like life, people are more complex than that. While King Joffrey remains a villainous cad, many of the other characters who looked to be villains have become more sympathetic in this third season.

Jamie Lannister — the Kingslayer — has proven gallant on more than one occasion. Even the events that earned him his nickname — when the whole story is considered — may have painted him in an unflattering light. I'm not saying he's a hero, just that he lives in a world of grey.

Likewise, his siblings have become more sympathetic and more fascinating as this series has played out. Cersei Lannister has plenty of flaws, but she hasn't had an easy life. That she cares deeply for her children — despite one being an unrepentant monster — and her lowl…

Who Is Your Neighbor

" “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” — Luke 10:36-37

This week's GO considers how we show the love of Christ to others. By now, most Christians are familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan, but we don't always think of how to apply that lesson in our daily lives. The challenge in the story is to "go and do likewise."

The challenge is in how we treat others — particularly others that are different from us. There is a tendency in the Christian community to convey Christ's love to each other, but to sort of forget about the rest of the world. I think that misses the point.

One of the things that's always fascinated me is the way the Christian community in America has become cloistered. We create our own culture, we have our own schools, we have our own media, and we have our own gatherings.…

The End of an Era

"I think an ordinary paper company like Dunder-Mifflin was a great subject for a documentary. There's a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn't that kind of the point?" — Pam, "The Office."

In the film "Radioland Murders" a cryptic message says "Beginnings and endings are easy." With all do respect, when it comes to TV, that's just not the case. Pilots can be the most difficult episodes to write. How do you capture an audience? How do you draw people in?

And even if the pilot works, then you have to build a show that people care about. "The Office" was almost one of those shows that died before it began. It's first season — just six episodes — was a ratings disaster. But NBC — thanks to some strong iTunes numbers and a great cast — gave it new life.

On Thursday, after nine seasons, "The Office" came to an end. It never reached the heights of "Seinfeld" or "Friends," but it was the heir to …

Network Upfronts — A recap of the week

This week is network Upfronts — a time when the networks unveil their schedule for the fall, including what shows are returning, what new shows have been added, and where everything will run in the fall. Now that these presentations are over, it's time to take stock of what we learned. Bear in mind, all we've seen of these shows is trailers and written concepts.

When I did each network recap, I did it based solely on descriptions of the new shows. I've since watched all the trailers, and I have to admit some I wasn't wild about are growing on me. As we wrap up this consideration of the new fall schedule until, well, the fall when the shows debut, I will be looking at three areas: the most promising new comedies, most promising new dramas, and shows that are on the clock. These are, of course, gut reactions.

On the Clock: Each year in the run up to the Upfronts there is a lot of speculation about what current shows will return, and what will be given the boot. In terms…

Network Upfronts — The CW

This week is network Upfronts — a time when the networks unveil their schedule for the fall, including what shows are returning, what new shows have been added, and where everything will run in the fall. As these presentations are made, I'll be offering my thoughts on each network's offering.

Now we come to The CW, the little network that still can't find an identity. Once upon a time there were six networks — with the WB and the UPN vying for a slice of the pie. When the two combined to form The CW, it seemed like the perfect solution to capturing the youth demographic.

It hasn't panned out that way. While The CW has a couple shows that have found an audience — albeit an audience that would make a cable network beam but an actual network cry — it still lacks a coherent identity. The network appears to be aiming at the 13-24 demographic, but sometimes you wonder what makes them say yes to some of these shows.

Best Pickup: In this space, I'm going to give the netwo…

Now Playing

Here's a look at the second big offering of summer.

The Great Gatsby
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carrey Mulligan, and Joel Edgerton
Synopsis: Baz Luhrmann is a fascinating director. He has a unique and fascinating visual style, and his films always have a lot to wash over the audience. To me, the best of his films — 1996’s “Romeo and Juliet” — also had a rich source material to draw from that allowed him to put a glossy sheen over a story that works. When it comes to “original” stories, it’s a bit rougher. Many people were taken with the eye candy and pop sheen over “Moulin Rouge,” but I wasn’t one of them. Then few people were taken with his opus, “Australia,” which felt like three movies crammed into one. With Luhrmann’s latest — an adaptation of the F. Scot Fitzgerald novel “The Great Gatsby” — he again puts a gloss on a rich literary tale. But this time, it just doesn’t work. Luhrmann, whatever his faults, is a master at visual storytelling. The colors, the lo…

Network Upfronts — CBS

This week is network Upfronts — a time when the networks unveil their schedule for the fall, including what shows are returning, what new shows have been added, and where everything will run in the fall. As these presentations are made, I'll be offering my thoughts on each network's offering.

In the late 1990s, if you'd have told NBC that by 2013 they would finish fifth in sweeps — behind Univision — the network executives would have laughed you out of the building. But, after dominating for years, NBC fell, and it fell hard. So this year, that Univision thing really happened in February.

CBS has dominated in the ratings — not the 18-49 demographic, but the rest — for years. But that success hasn't allowed for much new or much creativity. Much like NBC in the late 1990s, CBS is a ratings juggernaut that's starting to show its age. "NCIS" may still be the most popular drama on TV, but it's been on for a decade. How much longer can it lead. Likewise, i…

Network Upfronts — ABC

This week is network Upfronts — a time when the networks unveil their schedule for the fall, including what shows are returning, what new shows have been added, and where everything will run in the fall. As these presentations are made, I'll be offering my thoughts on each network's offering.

Ah, ABC. The network has some strong shows and some strong points, but it's been in the middle of the pack for a while. If ABC wants to break out, it needs more than the aging "Grey's Anatomy" and a few reality shows to prop it up. It certainly hopes that eight new shows — that's right, eight — debuting in the fall will help.

Best Pickup: When ABC launched it's schedule last May, it touted "Nashville" as it's best new show. Critics agreed, and most figured a high class, country version of "Glee" season one would be born. It hasn't worked out quite like that, but ABC has seen the promise of the show, its potential, and has given it ano…

Network Upfronts — FOX

This week is network Upfronts — a time when the networks unveil their schedule for the fall, including what shows are returning, what new shows have been added, and where everything will run in the fall. As these presentations are made, I'll be offering my thoughts on each network's offering.

Today's entry is for FOX. The network is trying something different this year — going to more event TV, limited run series, and year round programming. FOX has tried that before, so we'll have to see how it works. Personally, I think it's a bold move that makes sense.

Best Pick Up: On paper, looking at ratings, it would have been easy to deem "The Mindy Project" a failure. It isn't great in the ratings, even in the 18-49 demographic. However, if you've been watching the show all season, you've seen growth and progress. Sometimes shows get lost in the shuffle but display enough promise to warrant patience. Networks don't usually show patience, but FOX…

Network Upfronts — NBC

This week is network Upfronts — a time when the networks unveil their schedule for the fall, including what shows are returning, what new shows have been added, and where everything will run in the fall. As these presentations are made, I'll be offering my thoughts on each network's offering.

NBC took some big swings with the schedule, but they needed to take some big swings. The question is whether it will work.

Best Pick Up: NBC really only has a few things going for it. NFL football is about the only thing that keeps the network afloat in the fall, then there's "The Voice" which draws an audience. NBC only had a couple new shows last year that hit, and while "Chicago Fire" didn't put up great numbers, nor was it a personal favorite, the show was quietly reliable. Pushing it to Tuesdays at 10 p.m., a timeslot that was wide open this spring, could help boost the show's ratings.

Oddest Move: "Parenthood" has never been a big hit, but …

Going With Others

"But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” — Ruth 1:16-17

Today the GO series continued with the idea of "Going With" others in their GO projects. I have been blessed to have the support of friends and family who have gone with me in m GO projects and callings in my life. One of the big blessings in this respect is my wife, Lindsay, who has gone with me twice in less than a year. She moved to Paso Robles then, before she even settled there, I got the chance to come to Colorado Springs and, two weeks after our wedding, she moved with me.

I can't imagine having adjusted to a new state, new city, and new job without Lindsay. She gave up a lot to be with me, and I couldn't help but reflect o…

The Season's Best New Show

"It's always good to have an old friend for dinner." — Hannibal Lecter, "Hannibal"

The biggest gamble of the 2012-2013 TV season was "Hannibal," a prequel to the movies and Thomas Harris novels about the cannibal serial killer Hannibal Lecter. Most wondered how it could work as a series — after all, we already know what he is — and how it could work on network TV.

The fact that the network that took a chance on "Hannibal" was NBC was viewed as odd and predictable all in one. Odd because "Hannibal" doesn't fit the NBC mold and predictable because when you don't have any viewers, you reach out to grab anything splashy.

Personally, I view "The Silence of the Lambs" as one of my favorite films and one of the best films ever made. That made me leery of the show. How would it work? How could it really be a weekly series?

But that's the brilliance of the show. It defies expectations, it's brilliantly written, an…

Southland reaches the end

"Most cops manage to stay sane despite the chaos all around them, but in their hearts they know, everyone has their breaking point." — Narrator, "Southland"

On Friday, TNT pulled the plug on "Southland" after five seasons. The show — which featured beat cops and detectives on the streets of Los Angeles — debuted to critical acclaim and fanfare on NBC during its first season. The show came from John Wells, who served as a producer on "ER" and "The West Wing," and held promise as a gritty drama.

NBC aired part of the first season then cut the show loose. When it was picked up by TNT, it found new life. And the show's quality continued to attract an audience — at least for a while.

But, much like the promise NBC once had when it produced shows like "Southland," the show went in some dark and confusing directions. The quality of the writing and story telling continued, even through the grim final season.

I have mixed feeling…

Swept Away

"Guess what? I have flaws. What are they? Oh I donno, I sing in the shower? Sometimes I spend too much time volunteering. Occasionally I'll hit somebody with my car. So sue me-- no, don't sue me. That is opposite the point I'm trying to make." — Michael Scott, "The Office"

We are in the midst of May Sweeps. This is one of three times a year (November, February, and May) where the networks compete to see who has the bigger audience. For NBC, this has been a year of highs and lows.

For the first time in a long time, and I do mean a long time, NBC was on the top of the heap in the key demographic (18-49 year olds) in the fall. It was an incredible stroke of good fortune. Then in February, NBC was fifth. There are only four major networks — NBC, ABC, FOX, and CBS — so that's not good. NBC actually finished below Univision, which is not a great sign.

Based on these May numbers, things aren't looking a ton better for NBC in the spring. With upfronts …

Now Playing

Summer movie season begins with "Iron Man 3."

Iron Man 3
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Don Cheadle, Ben Kingsley, Rebecca Hall, Guy Pearce, Jon Favreau, and Gwyneth Paltrow
Synopsis: Looks like the summer of 2013 has begun the same way the summer of 2012 did — with a film based on a Marvel comics property tearing up the Box Office. This time, instead of the group success of “The Avengers,” it’s back to individual stories with the third “Iron Man” film. This isn’t the first time that Robert Downey, Jr. has paired with writer/director Shane Black. The two had a ball, and created something memorable, with “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” back in 2005. Though an “Iron Man” film with its action, special effects and big budget would seem to have little in common with “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” the similarity is in the tone. There is an element of humor and fun to both films that is a hallmark for Black — who also wrote “Lethal Weapon” and “The Last Boy Scout.” That tone lends itself well to the…

Vacation's Over

I take pride in posting every day. I like writing, I like sharing ideas, and I like having this creative outlet. But sometimes it's just that life gets in the way. That happened last week when my birthday buddy, AKA my mom, and my dad arrived for a long weekend.

Let's look at some of the highlights:

1. The Broadmoor. I have lived here for nine months, I have driven past the Broadmoor a few times, but I have never been. Sunday, that changed. The brunch at the Broadmoor was all I expected and more. I also learned that there are so many choices offered it's best to go on hunger strike the three days before visiting...

2. Garden of the Gods. This is another site that I've driven by a couple times and through once, but I don't think I really stopped to appreciate this natural marvel. When you have folks from out of town visiting, you get that chance. Sunday I got to explore the visitor's center and drive through and get some pictures, and it was a blast.

3. House H…

Sputtering to the Finish

The two most interesting pilots of the 2012-2013 TV season were its most high concept. In the fall, it was "Last Resort." The show had a fascinating premise, great performances, and was really gripping. It also led the immediate question, where does the show go from here?

The following 12 episodes before it got cancelled failed to live up to that promise. You might have said that it was because it had to be cut short due to being cancelled, but really I think there was no way to sustain that pilot over a series.

In the winter, that hot pilot was "The Following." The show again had an interesting premise, great performances, and an engrossing pilot. And, again, one had to wonder — where does it go from here. On Monday night, after 15 episodes, the answer was clear — this is a high concept that would be great for a movie but falls apart as a weekly series.

The difference? "The Following" rode strong opening ratings and decent, albeit declining, ratings thr…

Now Playing

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

Mary and Martha
Starring: Brenda Blethyn, Hillary Swank, and James Woods
Synopsis: This film — written by Richard Curtis, directed by Phillip Noyce and aired by HBO — is about two mothers who, after losing their children to malaria, decide to do everything they can to fight the disease. I wrote about the movie briefly on Monday, and you can probably tell from reading that post why I found it moving and inspiring. Curtis has done some incredibly moving comedic films, but this is a film born of passion. He was passionate about the subject after learning how many young people die each year and how easily it could be prevented. Swank — who has won two Academy Awards — and Blethyn — a decorated British actress — are great in this film. Their passionate portrayals anchor the film and help give it the raw emotion that makes it pack a punch. I thought this was one of the best HBO films in recent years, and is a film that everyone should se…

Poor Timmy

"I will continue to work as hard as I can to make this organization proud. Every time I step on the field I will give everything I have and I will leave everything I have on the field every single Sunday." — Tim Tebow

Just about a year after they took him, the New York Jets sent Tim Tebow packing. It probably isn't a surprise given the way his run in New York went. He came in as part of a media circus, but he was never given an opportunity to do much for the Jets. Even when Mark Sanchez got the hook, Tebow wasn't the one that got put in.

His fate was sealed last Friday — though arguably it was sealed long before that. When the Jets drafted Geno Smith to be the quarterback of the future, it gave them a total of six passers on the roster. With their commitment to Sanchez being a block to releasing him, and with David Garrard and three others on the roster in addition to Smith and Sanchez, someone had to go.

That someone was Tebow.

No doubt he deserved better. You have…