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Showing posts from October, 2013

Now Playing

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

The Counselor
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, and Cameron Diaz
Synopsis: Cormac McCarthy has a pretty dim view of the world. You can see that from his writing, which inspired the incredible “No Country For Old Men” and the fascinating apocalyptic epic “The Road.” While his view of people and our world might be dim, it’s also illuminating and forces you to think. Likely that’s what McCarthy sought to do with his latest script, “The Counselor.” It had a lot of familiar tropes — a plot center on drugs, misdeeds and the traffic between Mexico and the United States. It had a strong director — Ridley Scott. And it had a fine cast — Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Brad Pitt and Cameron Diaz, among others. What it didn’t have was any pop. It was a story about misguided people engaging in evil deeds and paying high consequences. But it was missing the style, the depth of narrative enga…

'Revolution's' Sophomore Slump

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"I'm not Harry Potter, okay? I'm an agnostic Jew from Minnesota." — Aaron, "Revolution"

When "Revolution" premiered last fall it was to great fanfare. The show comes from J.J. Abrams and Eric Kripke, and had an interesting premise. I liked the pilot a lot, and I wasn't surprised that the show — which NBC wisely placed behind "The Voice" on Monday nights — did well in the ratings.

The rest of the first season was uneven. In the latter half of the season, the ratings swooned. I think it's in no small part to a plot that felt repetitive. Though this is a serialized drama, the plots felt a little too routine. A crisis would emerge, there would be some fighting, some people would die, the core characters would live, episode over.

The first season had another problem. While it provided some answers, it didn't do a lot to expand the world. That's a problem when you keep killing off your cast of characters. One of the wise thing…

Week 9 Picks

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Last week was a good step back on track. Another six teams are on a bye this week it's another tough schedule. There is no Bronco game this week, either, which means I'll have to adopt another team on Sunday... Lindsay's picks are in brackets.

Week 9:
Bengals -2.5 Over Dolphins (Bengals)
Panthers -7.5 Over Falcons  (Falcons)
Chiefs -3.5 Over Bills (Chiefs)
Vikings +10.5 Over Cowboys (Cowboys)
Rams +2.5 Over Titans (Rams)
Saints -5.5 Over Jets (Saints)
Chargers +.5 Over Redskins (Chargers)
Raiders -2.5 Over Eagles (Eagles)
Seahawks -16.5 Over Buccaneers (Seahawks)
Ravens -2.5 Over Browns (Browns)
Patriots -7.5 Over Steelers (Patriots)
Colts -2.5 Over Texans (Colts)
Bears +11.5 Over Packers (Bears)

Last Week: 8-5
Lindsay: 8-5

Season: 68-52
Lindsay: 63-57

Farmer Rick's Post-Zombie Apocalypse Oasis

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"For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." — Psalm 100:5

A lot of people watch "The Walking Dead," and most of them tune in for the carnage. After all, it's based on a popular graphic novel and it's about zombies. Carnage goes with the territory. Much like "Zombieland," recaps of "The Walking Dead" often include a zombie kill of the week.

I don't mind the zombie action, but that's not why I tune in. I have long been fascinated about the bigger moral and societal questions contained in the series. When it is at its best, I think "The Walking Dead" says something about humanity. And for three seasons, most of what it has had to say has been grim.

I was a bit thrown off when the fourth season premiered. The typical carnage sequence dotted the end of the episode, but most of it was spent showcasing a sort of utopia, in a prison, in the middle of the zombie apoca…

Fall TV Roundup, Week 7

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Here's a look at this week's New Shows. We are rounding through the fall, with four shows ("Welcome to the Family," "Ironside," "Lucky 7," and "We Are Men") having already shuffled off this televised coil. As always I review the first two episodes of new shows. If you don't see a show you're looking for listed here, please check previous weeks. I will have a full round up and recap of all the new fall shows in a couple weeks. By then half of them might have been cancelled.

Thursday Nights:
Reign, Thursdays at 9 p.m. on the CW (Premiered October 17)
I wasn't a huge fan of this pilot, and the second episode wasn't much better. I know this is a teen show on the CW, but still you could be more accurate. A show about Scots in the French court shouldn't have British and American accents. But I think the bigger issue is that I'm focused on their accents because the show isn't that compelling. It might work as a soap …

2013 Broncos Season, Week 8

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The bye week is here, and it's coming at the right time. Sure, the Broncos are 7-1 and put up 45 points yesterday. But the team is banged up and needs to dial it in a little better to get to the Super Bowl.

Week 8: Broncos 45, Redskins 21
Season Record: 7-1 (5-0 Home)
Key Play: With the score tied at 21-21 in the early fourth quarter, the Redskins had a quick three and out. Punter Sav Rocca shanked the punt, which went just 15 yards and set the Broncos up with a first down at the Redskins' 35 yard line. On the next play, Peyton Manning connected with Knowshon Moreno on a 35-yard screen pass for the touchdown, making it 28-21. The Broncos never looked back.

Recap: Don't be fooled by the final score, this was a sloppy game. It was particularly sloppy on offense. Part of that is due to the injuries the Broncos are dealing with. Julius Thomas, who has eight TD grabs and has been one of the best tight ends in football this season, was hurt early. Peyton Manning is dealing with a p…

Yearning for Eternity

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"We want more than this world's got to offer. We want more than this world's got to offer. We want more than the wars of our fathers. And everything inside screams for second life." — Switchfoot, "Meant to Live"

Sunday we talked about what comes after this life — heaven and hell. This is a challenging topic and a challenging concept. As Christians we know that everything about Jesus' life, death, and sacrifice points to eternity. Yet we spend seemingly little time talking about that eternity.

What's worse is that we get a lot of wrong messages about heaven. Most people think of it as a paradise, as their favorite place, or as the best vacation destination ever. Those descriptions, while comforting, miss the point.

"The critical question for our generation — and for every generation — is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activit…

Upcoming Releases — November

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Here's a look at the new releases coming in November. Releases this time of year can be fluid, as Oscar contenders shuffle around. We've already seen this with "The Wolf of Wall Street," which was supposed to open on November 15 and was pushed to Christmas Day. So these release dates are as they stand today...

Friday, November 1:
12 Years A Slave — This is one of the biggest Academy Award contenders. It got a limited release in late October, but it's supposed to go wider in this first Friday of November. The story and performances are rumored to be great. This is a must see film.

Ender's Game — This film has a high profile cast and looks like it wants to, like "The Hunger Games," be the start of a franchise. I'm just not feeling it. I didn't read the book, so I could be wrong, but something feels off about this movie.

Free Birds — This looks like one of the best animated films of the fall. The trailers are hilarious and the premise works per…

The Year's Best (So Far)

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As we wind up October, great releases are making their way out to the masses. Soon, after the slew of Oscar bait films that get released in November, December, and January, we will forget about the first 10 months of the year. But before that happens, I thought I'd offer a list of the Best Films of the Year to this point.

Still in Theaters:
* Gravity (Opened October 4) — This is a fascinating and fantastic film. Most of the time the Academy Award for special effects goes to a Summer blockbuster. Not this time. "Gravity" has the most amazing effects of any film this year, and it's also one of the most riveting. Director Alfonso Cuaron does a great job telling the story, and the performances from George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are amazing. There is a reason this has been at the top of the Box Office for three straight weekends.

* Captain Phillips (Opened October 11) — Another intense but well made thriller. Director Paul Greengrass does a great job telling this true…

Week 8 Picks

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Through four weeks I was seemingly on fire with picks, but the last three weeks I've come back to Earth a bit. It's time to get back on track. Part of the problem has been upsets (hello Jets over Patriots), and part of it has been the favorites failing to cover, something the Broncos have done for three straight weeks. Let's see how this week goes as we near the half-way mark in the NFL season. Lindsay's picks are in brackets.

Week 8 Picks:
Panthers -6.5 Over Buccaneers (Panthers)
Saints -12.5 Over Bills (Saints)
Chiefs -7.5 Over Browns (Chiefs)
Cowboys +2.5 Over Lions (Lions)
Patriots -6.5 Over Dolphins (Patriots)
Giants +5.5 Over Eagles (Giants)
Jaguars +16.5 Over 49ers (49ers)
Jets +6.5 Over Bengals (Bengals)
Raiders +2.5 Over Steelers (Steelers)
Falcons +2.5 Over Cardinals (Cardinals)
Broncos -13.5 Over Redskins (Broncos)
Packers -9.5 Over Vikings (Vikings)
Seahawks -10.5 Over Rams (Seahawks)

Last Week: 7-8
Lindsay: 8-7

Season: 60-47
Lindsay: 55-52

Fall TV Roundup, Week 6

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Here's a look at this week's New Shows. We are rounding through the fall, with four shows ("Welcome to the Family," "Ironside," "Lucky 7," and "We Are Men") having already shuffled off this televised coil. As always I review the first two episodes of new shows. If you don't see a show you're looking for listed here, please check previous weeks. I will have a full round up and recap of all the new fall shows in a couple week. By then half of them might have been cancelled.

Wednesday Nights:
Tomorrow People, Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on the CW (Premiered October 9)
This is a sci-fi drama on the CW that's a re-make of a British show of the same name. I haven't seen the original — which is from the 1970s — but I feel like this current show fits into a lot of the superhero stuff we see in movies, and now on TV with "Marvel's Agents of Shield." It has an affable enough cast, but I just don't feel a bit connection t…

2013 Broncos Season, Week 7

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You can't stay perfect forever. The Broncos found that out last night in Indianapolis.

Week 7: Colts 39, Broncos 33
Season Record: 6-1 (4-0 Home)
Key Play: Trailing 36-30 with about seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Broncos got the ball back and looked to drive. The team had bridged the gap from being down 36-17 by adding a pair of touchdowns. On the first play of the drive to potentially take the lead, the pocket collapsed and Peyton Manning's hand was hit as he attempted a throw. Colts linebacker Pat Angerer, who gave the Colts the ball at the Broncos' 20-yard line. The Colts later hit a field goal to make it a nine point game, 39-30, and all but seal the win.

Recap: It's hard to go back home. For Peyton Manning, Sunday was anything but another game. For 14 years he was the starting quarterback for the Colts. He led them to the playoffs 11 times, and won a Super Bowl title there. No one can forget his emotional press conference as he thanked the fans and bid…

Giving Generously

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"Prosperity hardens the heart." — William Wilberforce

This week was Commitment Sunday. That always brings up a myriad of issues for people. No one likes to talk about money in church. No one likes to talk about tithing. And I think the reason is that we don't really like to think about what God says about giving and how we live out that call.

I thought it was fitting that this week for Sunday School we were looking at chapter 5 of "Crazy Love."  It's entitled "Serving Leftovers to a Holy God." The crux of the chapter drives right at that idea of how we are called to give generously to God.

We are a wealthy nation, even if we don't realize it. Chan notes that 53 percent of the world lives on less than two dollars a day. If you make $4,000 a month, you make 1,000 times more than most people in the world. That's a striking thought. It's humbling, and it should be.

But we often don't think of ourselves as wealthy. And when you combine…

Don't Poke the Bronco

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This week the Colts, 4-2 and leading the AFC South, host the Denver Broncos, 6-0 and tied for the lead in the AFC West as well as one of only two remaining unbeaten teams in the NFL. For 14 years, Peyton Manning was the quarterback, driving engine, star, and beloved hero in Indianapolis. Now he comes back for the first time.

Previously Jim Irsay, the Colts owner who made the tactical decision to cut ties with Peyton two summers ago and draft Andrew Luck, said the team would honor Peyton upon his return. This week, with the game drawing close, Irsay took a chance to marginalize Peyton's legacy for the Colts, a team he put on the map, made a force in the AFC for year, and won a Super Bowl title with. The obvious question is why?

Many have theorized. Some think he's trying to get in Peyton's head. Some thing he's upset that Manning has done so well and healed so well following his release from the Colts. Some think it's sour grapes. Some think he's just crazy and…

Cast Your Cares Aside

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"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" — Matthew 6:25-27

As people, we are prone to worry, get pre-occupied, and stress about things that might happen, things we can't control, and general ideas. But that's not what God wants for our lives.

Sometimes there are a confluence of things in my life that make me stop and ask what God is trying to say to me. We have been studying the book "Crazy Love," by Francis Chan, it's a sort of kick in the pants in terms of faith and the way we live our lives. A couple weeks ago the chapter we tackled dealt with the lack of faith that stems from us making too …

Now Playing

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

Captain Phillips
Starring: Tom Hanks
Synopsis: Hanks is an incredible and decorated actor. He has won multiple Academy Awards and has helped bring some great projects to the screen as a producer. But it’s been a while, it seems, since he’s had a signature or defining role. In pairing with director Paul Greengrass on “Captain Phillips,” we get a performance that reminds of why Hanks is so great at inhabiting a role. We also get a brilliant film that explores a fascinating true-life story. Greengrass has delivered some exceptional films, and his pairing with Hanks here helps this film to soar. “Captain Phillips” is based on the true-life events that unfolded in 2009 with Captain Richard Phillips (Hanks). Phillips is a merchant captain from the North East in America two took a job on the Maersk Alabama as it made its way around the horn of Africa. It was while on that journey in international waters off Somalia that the ship encountered p…

Week 7 Picks

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After a couple weeks, Las Vegas usually figures out the point spreads. They want to make it challenging. The last two weeks have been incredibly challenging. I've been below .500 the past two weeks, and below Lindsay in week 6. Still up for the year, but it's time to get back on track and seriously consider these lines. Week seven picks are below with Lindsay's picks in ().

Week 7:
Seahawks -6.5 Over Cardinals (Seahawks)
Buccaneers +7.5 Over Falcons (Falcons)
Bills +8.5 Over Dolphins (Dolphins)
Bears +1.5 Over Redskins (Bears)
Bengals +2.5 Over Lions (Lions)
Cowboys +2.5 Over Eagles (Cowboys)
Rams +6.5 Over Panthers (Rams)
Patriots -4.5 Over Jets (Patriots)
Chargers -7.5 Over Jaguars (Chargers)
49ers -4.5 Over Titans (49ers)
Browns +10.5 Over Packers (Packers)
Chiefs -6.5 Over Texans (Chiefs)
Ravens +1.5 Over Steelers (Steelers)
Broncos -6.5 Over Colts (Broncos)
Giants -3.5 Over Vikings (Giants)

Last Week: 5-10
Lindsay: 6-9

Season: 53-39
Lindsay: 47-45

'Homeland,' Brody trapped in 'Tower of David'

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"You're like a cock roach...still there after the last nuclear bombs go off." — Dr. Graham, "Homeland"

The third season of "Homeland" has been uneven at best. It was hard to see where the show was going and, worse yet, hard to care through two episodes. Of course, through the first two episodes, a big part of the show was missing — Sgt. Nick Brody (Damien Lewis).

There are two schools of thought here. By now most people know the original plan was for Brody to die in season one. The show became a hit, Lewis won an Emmy, and plans changed. Now, even though it stretches credibility, Brody remains a part of the story the show is trying to tell. Some wish he wouldn't. Others think his return will help.

I haven't had a strong opinion one way or the other. So when Brody returned to season three in the third episode — titled "Tower of David" — I wanted to see what would happen. Turned out nothing happened, which is a big part of the problem…

Fall TV Roundup, Week 5

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Most of the new shows have debuted. Still not as many diamonds as there is rough, and we've already seen two shows cancelled. That won't be the end of the cancellations. Many of the traditional four networks are struggling. ABC's Tuesday night experiment is tanking, as are their new dramas. NBC's new Thursday night lineup is also cratering, as it the FOX Tuesday comedy block. This was supposed to be the fall for new comedy, but most have been so-so at best.

I review, and grade, the first two episodes of new shows. If you don't see one in this post, check previous weeks. They will be there...

Monday Nights:
We Are Men, Mondays at 8:30 p.m. on CBS (Premiered September 30)
It was two episodes and out for this series. CBS will actually run re-runs for three weeks until "Mike and Molly" returns just so they don't have to air this show. That's bad. This was one of the worst sitcoms of the season. I predicted before the season it would be the first new s…

2013 Broncos Season, Week 6

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On Sunday, the Broncos experienced the definition of a trap game. Luckily they didn't fall in.

Week 6: Broncos 35, Jaguars 19
Season Record: 6-0 (4-0 home)
Key Play: In the third quarter, leading 28-19 on the cusp of another three and out, the Broncos ran a fake punt which David Bruton took for 35 yards and a first down. The Broncos' drive continued and they were able to put in another touchdown early in the fourth quarter to go up 35-19 and put the game away.

Recap: I don't love playing Jacksonville. Some weird things have happened in Jacksonville games, not the least of which is the most depressing playoff loss in Broncos' history. So it was easy to be uneasy about Sundays game, and for good reason. The Broncos came in red hot — 5-0 — off an emotional victory over Dallas. The team has the Colts, and Peyton Manning's emotional return to Indianapolis next week. The Jaguars came in 0-5 and the game had the biggest line in NFL history, Broncos -28 points. Of course what…

Giving in Silence

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"As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” — Luke 21:1-4

I think we've all heard the story of the Widow's mite, or if you read the text, two mites. We know it's how we're supposed to approach giving. We know it's important. But I think we tend to gloss over it a bit. What I loved about our message today was the idea that it was silent.

Money in our world isn't silent. Sure, we all love the movies and TV shows where the billionaire is the schlub hiding in the corner. The person who isn't flashy and is just really down to earth. But that's not what we see in our world. More often, we see people like Jay Gatsby in the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. It's abou…

A Troublesome Name

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The Washington Redskins became a professional football team in 1932 — 81 years ago. They are a familiar, iconic franchise in professional football. But all that might be about to change.

The Redskins are hardly the only franchise in sports that has ties to Native Americans. Cleveland has the Indians, Atlanta has the Braves, Florida State is the Seminoles, and Chicago has the Blackhawks. But it is the Redskins that have drawn protests, criticism, and pressure to change their name.

Daniel Snyder, the owner of the team, has been emphatic that the name won't change. Many of the faithful in Washington, D.C. feel likewise. But the tide seems to be turning. Many in the nation have advocated change, sportswriters have refused to use the name, and even President Obama has publicly criticized the name.

Personally I'm torn on the issue. I see both sides. But, then again, Redskins isn't a racially offensive term to me. If it was, I would probably feel different. The fact is this has …

A Fitting Farewell

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I guess I kind of started watching "Glee" by accident. It premiered in May behind an episode of "American Idol." There was nothing on and I was flipping channels. What I saw in that pilot episode was something I'd never seen before.

After waiting through the hype machine all summer, I was excited when the show officially premiered the following fall. That first season was magical. When it was over, my sister and I spent an entire Saturday driving to Southern California to see "Glee Live" and driving back so I could be at work early on Sunday morning.

The music was great, the performers were affable, and it was quickly becoming my favorite show. Somewhere amid the second season, I started to grow apart with "Glee." I watched through the third season but gave up on the show after that. It wasn't what I thought it would be, and neither were the musical performances.

But this summer, when Cory Monteith, the 31-year-old star of the show, pas…

Now Playing

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

Rush
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde, and Alexandra Maria Lara
Synopsis: In America, when people think of auto racing the first thing that comes to mind is NASCAR. Outside of the NFL, NASCAR is probably our most popular sport. But as with so many things, Americans tend to by myopic when it comes to auto racing. Outside of America, the top form of racing remains Formula One. It presents a greater challenge, higher stakes and requires greater skill. That’s what makes “Rush,” a film about Formula One racers Niki Lauda and James Hunt during the 1970s, so fascinating. It’s an exceptional film, and a story more people in America probably aren’t familiar with. Director Ron Howard, who has shown his ability with a variety of different types of films over the years, delivers some exceptional racing footage while teaming with screenwriter Peter Morgan (“The Queen”) to deliver a fascinating story of two drivers on differe…

NFL Picks, Week 6

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After four strong weeks to start the season, it was inevitable that I would have an off week. It arrived. Last week was a paltry 5-9 week. Let's hope it gets better from here as the Broncos have set a record with their line against the Jaguars. Lindsay's picks are in brackets.

Week 6: 
Chicago Bears -7.5 Over New York Giants (Bears)
Cincinnati Bengals -7.5 Over Buffalo Bills (Bengals)
Detroit Lions -2.5 Over Cleveland Browns (Lions)
Baltimore Ravens +3.5 Over Green Bay Packers (Packers)
Oakland Raiders +9.5 Over Kansas City Chiefs (Chiefs)
St. Louis Rams +7.5 Over Houston Texans (Rams)
Minnesota Vikings -2.5 Over Carolina Panthers (Vikings)
New York Jets -2.5 Over Pittsburgh Steelers (Jets)
Philadelphia Eagles -1.5 Over Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Eagles)
Denver Broncos -27.5 Over Jacksonville Jaguars (Broncos)
Seattle Seahawks -13.5 Over Tennessee Titans (Seahawks)
New Orleans Saints +2.5 Over New England Patriots (Saints)
Arizona Cardinals +11.5 Over San Francisco 49ers (49ers)
Da…

The Sunday Chasm

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"I want you to know that what's going on here is not okay with me." — Quinn, "Homeland"

For a long time we, as TV consumers, have been conditioned to get excited about Sunday night. It's a prestige TV night, especially for cable outlets. It's the night that's been home to "The Sopranos," "Six Feet Under," "Dexter," "Mad Men," "Breaking Bad" and "The Wire," among others. We've come to expect quality offerings.

This season, through two full weeks, that just hasn't been the case. The Networks don't have much to offer on Sundays. CBS has "60 Minutes," "The Amazing Race," "The Good Wife," and "The Mentalist." Those aren't the draws they once were, and all are a little long in the tooth. ABC, similarly, has seen it's slate take a dive with viewers. "Once Upon A Time" feels a little less magical, "Revenge" has worn ou…

Fall TV Roundup, Week 4

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We haven't seen all the new shows yet, but already we've had our first cancellation. Wither "Lucky 7." As always, I review the pilot and second episode of each new show. If you don't see the show you're looking for below, check previous weeks. The shows appear in order of air date (Monday to Sunday) and time (8 to 11 p.m., EST).

Monday Nights:
We Are Men, Mondays at 8:30 p.m. on CBS (Premiered September 30)
Blech... This CBS comedy might have a nice cast — with Tony Shalhoub and Kal Penn among the core four — but it has little else to offer. The pilot was dreadful and it's hard to see this one lasting. Prior to the start of the season I picked this as my first new show cancelled. After an episode, we can all see why.
Pilot Grade: D

Mom, Mondays at 9:30 p.m. on CBS (Premiered September 23)
Many thought this was the cream of the comedy crop prior to the start of the season. I didn't feel it after the pilot episode, which felt way too stiff. This was the…