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Showing posts from September, 2014

Fall TV Roundup, Week Four

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These weekly posts are the places where I offer reviews of the new shows this fall. I look at the premier and second episode of new shows. If you don't see a new show below, please check previous weeks.

Monday Nights:
Gotham, Mondays at 8 p.m. on FOX (Premiered September 22)
About: I love Batman movies, but perhaps the best were the Christopher Nolan films. Many people felt like this view of Gotham, and the characters that populate the world, would be served like the Nolan films in this new FOX series. It isn't. This is a gritty world, yes, but there's little of the trappings of the story here that works. When Rob Zombie re-made "Halloween," one of my chief complaints was the way he tried to psychologically explain Michael Myers. The film looked at Myers' childhood, tried to explain how he became the crazy killer he is, then re-told a familiar story. What made Myers scary, I thought, was the unexplainable menace. Adding stories of a terrible childhood and oth…

2014 Broncos Season, Week Four

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The Broncos didn't play on Sunday. This is their bye week, a time when they can focus on what they need to do to get better, and to get to where they need to be. Below are some thoughts on what I'd like to see from the Broncos beginning next week, as well as a quarter pole estimate of who will be in the playoffs.

Areas of Focus:
* Run the ball. Through the first three games, the Broncos' offense lacked balance. Montee Ball was supposed to have a break out year, but so far the Broncos have gotten little out of the running game. That has to change for this team to get where it needs to go.

* More consistency on offense. The first three games had some great moments and some poor moments. When the Broncos' offense is clicking, it looks great. But it only clicks at certain times. Demaryius Thomas talked about needing to improve, but he's not the only one. Getting Wes Welker back and in the fold should help, too.

*A complete game. The Broncos are 2-1, but they could be 3…

On free speech, Bill Simmons, and the price of fame

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"A case could be made that Simmons, who had done excellent work taking Goodell and the NFL to task up to this point, undermined ESPN’s solid journalistic efforts on the Rice story with some Grantland grandstanding. I don’t think that was his intent; Simmons tends to follow his passions as if they were truths, especially in podcasts, where he seems to act as if he is alone with a friend at the bar." - Robert Lipsyte, ESPN Ombudsman

When I first joined Facebook, I was only connected to a handful of friends. My first few posts -- while watching a Broncos game -- weren't exactly family friendly. They were hyper critical barbs at Kyle Orton. I followed a similar posting plan for a while.

Facebook was a place for me to share my opinions unvarnished. Then I got a job working for Highlands Church. I was connected on Facebook to a number of parishoners, and my posting style changed. It had to. My posts no longer just represented me, they represented my organization. That was my …

Upcoming Releases — October

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September is quickly fading away, and October is coming. With it comes more and more movies of substance. For those that have craved great stories, get ready for the start of the Golden Quarter.

Friday, October 3:
Gone Girl — David Fincher is a masterful director, and in adapting Gillian Flynn's popular novel, he's again in the zeitgeist. The trailer for this movie is incredible, as is the cast. It's looking like this could be one of the biggest movies of the fall, and a great chance for Ben Affleck to add to his improved resume the past few years.

The Good Lie — Reese Witherspoon hasn't been in big movies the past few years, but with her role as a plucky woman helping refugees in this film, that could change. This looks like a story with heart and a story that needs to be told. This could be another gem in October.

Annabelle — You may not be aware, but October is a big time for horror movies due to a holiday later in the month. The creepy doll Annabelle was a key elem…

Now Playing

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

This Is Where I Leave You
Starring: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll, Adam Driver, Jane Fonda, Timothy Olyphant, and Rose Byrne
Synopsis: Families are tricky. Your family members are often the people that know you the best, but they can also be the people that push your buttons the most. That’s what makes it hard to go home again as an adult. Those are the swirling issues undergirding “This Is Where I Leave You,” a family dramedy based on Jonathan Tropper’s novel. The film — directed by Shawn Levy (“Night At The Museum,” “Date Night”) — is a mixture of comedy and drama. It’s about adult siblings returning home, renewing old rivalries and examining their lives in the wake of their father’s death. It has an all-star cast, a quirky set of characters and plenty of story to latch onto. These type of introspective family sagas are common in our cinematic landscape. Last Christmas a similar set up was used for “August Osage County,” wh…

NFL Picks, Week 4

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Last week I redeemed myself in picks, pulling even with Lindsay once again. Now it's time to keep it going with week four picks. Lindsay's picks are in brackets.

Week Four:
Washington -3.5 Over Giants (Washington)
Texans -2.5 Over Bills (Texans)
Bears +.5 Over Packers (Bears)
Lions -1.5 Over Jets (Lions)
Titans +7.5 Over Colts (Colts)
Raiders +4.5 Over Dolphins (Dolphins)
Steelers -7.5 Over Buccaneers (Steelers)
Panthers +3.5 Over Ravens (Ravens)
Chargers -13.5 Over Jaguars (Chargers)
Falcons -3.5 Over Vikings (Falcons)
Eagles +5.5 Over 49ers (49ers)
Saints -3.5 Over Cowboys (Saints)
Patriots -3.5 Over Chiefs (Patriots)

Last Week: 11-5
Lindsay: 10-6

Season: 27-21
Lindsay: 27-21

Fall TV Roundup, Week 3

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Here's a look at the new shows I saw this week. In these weekly posts I review the pilot and second episode of new shows. If you don't see a new show below, check previous weeks.

Monday Nights:
Gotham, Mondays at 8 p.m. on FOX (Premiered September 22)
About: This was the show I was most excited to see. I'm a huge fan of Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" trilogy, and Batman is my favorite superhero. I realize this show is not about Batman, but I felt like there was a great opportunity to make a fascinating crime drama — which is essentially what the Nolan films were. The pilot for "Gotham" was moody and populated by good actors — many of whom were playing familiar characters. There were moments of it that I liked, but the pilot episode as a whole was a disappointment. It left me wondering if this show can really work long term. The whole time you're waiting for Batman, but he's a small child who has some interesting ideas about life. I like B…

2014 Broncos Season, Week 3

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Here's my Broncos recap for the week. It was better than the Super Bowl, but the Broncos still can't get by the Seattle Seahawks.

Week 3: Seattle Seahawks 26, Broncos 20
Season Record: 2-1 (2-0 Home)
Key Play: Facing a third and four in overtime, deep in Broncos territory, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson saw the play break down, broke containment, and scrambled for five yards and a first down. Marshawn Lynch plunged into the end zone two plays later to give the Seahawks a six-point overtime victory.

Recap: The shame of the Super Bowl last February has dogged the Broncos for months. Sunday was supposed to be a chance to get a measure of redemption — and a chance to see if the changes in the off season helped the Broncos stack up better against the defending champs. From that standpoint, it was a success. But in the end, it's a regular season loss. The Broncos looked tougher. The defense looked better. And the team was in the game until the end. That's all good. But not…

The question of suffering

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“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” — Romans 5:3-5

One of the interesting things about the current Sunday School material I'm going through is that it forces us to ask the big questions. One of those is how we reconcile a loving and benevolent God with the suffering we see in the world. This, I think, is one of the toughest questions for Christians and non-Christians alike.

On Sunday, our class looked at the way the culture responds to this question. I think there's three ways.The first approach is crying out or struggling with the world. One of the places that's captured best is in the movie “No Country For Old Men,” which is based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy. If you haven’t seen it, this is a movie set in the early 1980s and …

F/X Comedy Hit?

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It's been an interesting summer — and an interesting time — for F/X. The network did well in collecting Emmy nominations, thanks in large part to mini-series "Fargo" and "American Horror Story." Meanwhile some of its top dramas, "Justified" and "Sons of Anarchy," are entreating their final seasons. In other words, F/X will have some holes to fill, especially since we don't know if another round of "Fargo" will happen.

Like so many cable networks in a similar position, F/X has tried to find the next big thing this summer. But, despite a creative resurgence, viewers haven't flocked to the second season of "The Bridge." "The Strain," the network's answer to "The Walking Dead," has had passable ratings, but hasn't been great or drawn a lot of eyeballs. And "Tyrant," supposedly the next "Homeland," was critically savaged and didn't draw well — though it's gotten …

NFL Picks, Week 3

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It was a rough week picking for me. I was 7-9, which is bad. But Lindsay was 8-8, taking a one pick lead through two weeks. That seems worse. Here's to a better week three. Lindsay's (better) picks are in brackets.

Week Three:
Falcons -6.5 Over Buccaneers (Falcons)
Chargers +2.5 Over Bills (Chargers)
Bengals -6.5 Over Titans (Bengals)
Browns +1.5 Over Ravens (Browns)
Cowboys -.5 Over Rams (Cowboys)
Lions -1.5 Over Packers (Lions)
Colts -6.5 Over Jaguars (Colts)
Patriots -14.5 Over Raiders (Patriots)
Saints -10.5 Over Vikings (Saints)
Texans -2.5 Over Giants (Giants)
Washington +6.5 Over Eagles (Eagles)
Cardinals +2.5 Over 49ers (49ers)
Broncos +4.5 Over Seahawks (Broncos)
Chiefs +4.5 Over Dolphins (Chiefs)
Panthers -3.5 Over Steelers (Steelers)
Bears +2.5 Over Jets (Bears)

Last Week: 7-9
Lindsay: 8-8

Season: 16-16
Lindsay: 17-15

Laughs return to Tuesdays

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Danny: I would never let my woman plan a charity event with some guy. I would never do it.
Mindy: And I would never want to plan a charity event
- "The Mindy Project"
The Fall TV Season is just starting, but already people are bracing for the worst. According to a number of critics, this is the worst set of new shows in quite some time. And the shows that have premiered thus far haven't been killing it in the ratings.
Getting a jump on the new fall season was FOX's Tuesday night comedies — "New Girl" and "The Mindy Project" — which premiered a week ahead of most of the rest last night. When last we left them, "New Girl" — a once incredibly promising show — was mired in an uneven, and often unfunny, third season that saw its ratings crater.
"The Mindy Project" — a promising show that struggled to find the right combination of cast and tone out of the gate — bounced back from being benched during the early part of the winter to del…

Fall TV Roundup, Week 2

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In these weekly posts I look at the pilot and second episode for new shows. If you don't see a new show below, check previous weeks. Thanks to advanced availability, I reviewed pilots for "A to Z," "Selfie," and "Forever" last week. "Forever" premiers on Monday night, September 22.

Tuesday Nights:
Utopia, Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on FOX (Premiered September 7)
About: FOX was hoping this reality show — which airs on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. and Fridays at 9 p.m. — would be an addictive hit in the United States, as it is overseas. So far, that hasn't really happened. The idea is simple — 15 people leave their lives for a year, head to a compound in California, and are charged with creating their own society. On paper, this seems like a fascinating idea. And, it also taps into the kind of success shows like "Big Brother" have had in terms of offering a live feed for people to check in on between episodes. Again, this seems like a good marketi…

2014 Broncos Season, Week 2

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Below is my recap for week two. The good news is the Broncos are 2-0. The bad news is the team hasn't looked great in winning two games and now travels to play an angry Seahawks team…

Week 2: Broncos 24, Kansas City Chiefs 17
Season Record: 2-0 (2-0 Home)
Key Play: With 18 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and the Broncos up by seven points, Kansas City had the ball at the two yard line and faced fourth down. Alex Smith dropped back to pass and fired over the middle, but defensive tackle Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton got his paw up in the air, deflecting the pass, which fell on the turf. The Broncos offense came out and knelt down, ending the game.

Recap: Two weeks, two wins. Two weeks, two game-saving defensive stands. Two weeks, two mildly disappointing performances. There are a lot of ways to look at how the Broncos have started the season. They have battled a pair of AFC playoff teams and come away with seven point wins. At times they've looked great. At times…

Opposite of Heaven

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“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.” — C.S. Lewis, "The Great Divorce"

Sometimes you encounter a subject with such frequency during a defined period that you have to admit God must be telling you something. I felt that this week with the idea of hell.

First, Lindsay and I joined a GTW class about C.S. Lewis — this one studying "The Great Divorce." For those not familiar with the book, in it Lewis talks about Heaven and hell in the midst of telling a fictional story of a bus trip between the two. It's an interesting examination of the concepts, and what hell might be like.

For Lewis, the description is Grey Town — a town that seemi…

A Troubled League

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"I don't know what the point is of this, of democracy and freedom and patriotism if there are no white hats. If everyone is evil. If the deck is always stacked. If everyone I love is a monster. If no one is worth saving, what's the point?" — Olivia Pope, "Scandal"

This summer I have been catching up on "Scandal." I hadn't ever seen it before, but I have heard it's great. The first three seasons are on Netflix, so since the Fourth of July I've been making my way through the 47 episodes available. It's addictive, and it started with a flourish. But something has bothered me as I'm making my way through the third season — the characters aren't that likable. They've all done some good things, things that make you like them, but they've also all done terrible things. In other words, it's a mixed bag.

I like the show, I want to keep watching it, but the other day I turned to my wife and commented that the characters …

Now Playing

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

The Drop
Starring: James Gandolfini, Tom Hardy, and Noomi Rapace
Synopsis: In June 2013 the cinema world lost a great talent when James Gandolfini passed away. Though he’s been gone for more than a year, his legacy on screen continues to grow. Last summer, in the romantic comedy “Enough Said,” audiences saw a different side of Gandolfini. He was great opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfuss in a role that felt miles away from his iconic part on “The Sopranos.” This week Gandolfini’s final screen credit – the crime drama “The Drop” – features him in a familiar role. It’s a gritty crime drama based on an original script from novelist Dennis Lehane. Gandolfini is strong in the film, playing a familiar role, but this is really another great turn for Tom Hardy, who steals the film with his characters steely resolve. Bob (Hardy) is a simple man. He works as a bartender at a bar owned by the mob. It’s one of several in the city that serves as a drop…

Feeling Left Behind

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"It's easier to stay silent than it is to speak truth. Killing these people is pointless because they're already dead. What I want is to bring them back to life." — Matt, "The Leftovers"

Perhaps the most polarizing series of the summer has been "The Leftovers." The show, which debuted to much fanfare and promotion in June, went out rather quietly on Sunday night. It wasn't a big ratings hit — which HBO seemed to recognize too, as they waited a long time before issuing a second season renewal. That is unusual for HBO, which often renews shows after the season premier or even before the season premiers as a sign of confidence.

So why the struggle with "The Leftovers," which has a strong cast, a fascinating premise, and comes from Damon Lindelof, who was an executive producer for "LOST?" The simple reason is this is a hard show to watch. It doesn't just depict grief, it wallows in grief. It wants to be consumed by grief. …

NFL Picks, Week 2

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It's time for this week's picks. Last week I went 9-7. That's not great, but not terrible. It could be the year of the under dog, and week one proved that. Lindsay also went 9-7, meaning we're tied… On to week two! Again, these are picks against the spread, not just straight up and down winners and losers. Lindsay's picks are in brackets.

Week 2:
Steelers +2.5 Over Ravens (Steelers)
Falcons +5.5 Over Bengals (Bengals)
Dolphins -.5 Over Bills (Bills)
Browns +6.5 Over Saints (Browns)
Cowboys +3.5 Over Titans (Titans)
Lions +2.5 Over Panthers (Lions)
Vikings +3.5 Over Patriots (Vikings)
Cardinals +1.5 Over Giants (Giants)
Jaguars +5.5 Over Washington (Washington)
Rams +5.5 Over Buccaneers (Rams)
Seahawks -5.5 Over Chargers (Chargers)
Broncos +13.5 Over Chiefs (Broncos)
Jets +8.5 Over Packers (Jets)
Texans -2.5 Over Raiders (Texans)
49ers -7.5 Over Bears (49ers)
Eagles +2.5 Over Colts (Colts)

Last Week: 9-7
Lindsay: 9-7

Season: 9-7
Lindsay: 9-7