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Showing posts from May, 2016

Summer TV Roundup, Week 2

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Summer is here, and so are new shows. In these weekly posts I look at the first and second episode of new scripted shows of summer. Don't see a new show listed below, check previous weeks.

Friday Nights:
Outcast, Fridays at 10 p.m. on Cinemax (Premiers June 3)
About: This is the latest new series for Cinemax, which has worked to re-shape it's image among the public in the past few years. It's also the new series from Robert Kirkman, who created "The Walking Dead." This series is based on another of his graphic novels, which focuses on a man who is drawn into the world of demon possession. The lead is Patrick Fugit, who does a good job of creating a character in the pilot. The pilot is available for free online right now ahead of its premiere. I wasn't sure what to make of this, but I loved the pilot. It was moody and stylized really well. I am not familiar with the source material, but you don't have to be in order to appreciate the storytelling in the pilo…

Daenerys the villain?

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"You are small men. None of you are fit to lead the Dothraki. But I am. So I will." — Daenerys Targaryen

This has been another momentous season for "Game of Thrones," perhaps its best yet through six episodes. In that, we've seen Daenerys take another big step forward. What at first seemed a dire situation — she was captured by the Dothraki, who threatened to imprison her or worse — turned into another win. She killed their leaders with ease and took command of another, even bigger, army.

As Daario said on Sunday night, she is a conquerer. And she's done so through some vicious means. It's easy to forget that, in freeing the slaves, she slaughtered plenty of masters. And in claiming the Dothraki throne, she slaughtered plenty of Khals.

So the question has been posed more than once, by many different pundits, is Daenerys the real villain of "Game of Thrones?" On the surface it seems absurd. She's a heroine we've been rooting for over t…

Generational Temptations, Pt. 2

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I'm reading a new book called "Generational IQ," by Haydn Shaw. It's about the four generations in the church and the strengths and temptations of each. I am technically a Millennial, which spans those born from 1981-2001. But those who are on the border of generations — as I am being born in 1981 — often vacillate between two generations. That's certainly how I felt in reading the book. I identified with traits of both Generation X (Born 1965-1980) and Millennials. Over the next two posts I'm going to look at the temptations of each generation and how I related.

Millennials (1981-2001)
Temptations:
* They Miss The Contradictions In Their Morality
* They Miss The Power and Importance of the Church
* Their Christianity Has Been Hacked

They Miss The Contradictions In Their Morality:
This is an off-shoot and growth of the Generation X danger of making their own truth. This is probably something I see in my generation a lot, and something that has led to people fallin…

Generational Temptations, Pt. 1

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I'm reading a new book called "Generational IQ," by Haydn Shaw. It's about the four generations in the church and the strengths and temptations of each. I am technically a Millennial, which spans those born from 1981-2001. But those who are on the border of generations — as I am being born in 1981 — often vacillate between two generations. That's certainly how I felt in reading the book. I identified with traits of both Generation X (Born 1965-1980) and Millennials. Over the next two posts I'm going to look at the temptations of each generation and how I related.

Generation X (1965-1980)
Temptations:
* They Build Their Own Truth
* They are Cynical

They Build Their Own Truth:
This isn't one that I've personally struggled with. I was blessed to have been raised in the faith — a conservative faith at that — and I have no trouble seeing the Word of God as the absolute truth. But I've seen this struggle plenty in some of my friends and peers. It's born…

Upcoming Releases — June

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We are officially in the midst of the summer movie season. Four weekends of summer blockbusters down, so many more to go. June has a full, and varied, slate that we can all start looking forward to seeing!

Friday, June 3:
Me Before You — I love Emilia Clarke, who is great as the Mother of Dragons on "Game of Thrones," so I was sold when I saw her in this trailer. Also, I defy you to watch the trailer without getting a little chocked up. Let's hope the movie is half as good as the trailer.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows — I'll be honest, the first movie was somewhat enjoyable as a summer popcorn film. This one adds Stephen Amell and possibly ups the action. It's summer, that should work well.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping  — This is the latest comedy from Andy Samberg and the Lonely Island. It looks pretty hilarious.

Friday, June 10:
Warcraft — True confession — I've never played this game. Based on the trailer, this feels like a "Lord o…

Now Playing

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

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Dave Franco
Synopsis: This is a sequel to the popular and hilarious "Neighbors," which debuted during the summer of 2014. It was about a couple (Rogen and Byrne), who are new parents, that are trying to survive when a hard-partying fraternity moves in next door. Their battle with the leaders of that frat — played by Efron and Franco — formed the basis of the comedy. In the sequel, the frat is gone and the couple is expecting a second child and planning a move to the suburbs, but they have to sell their house first. When a hard-partying sorority moves in next door, it poses some challenges. They are forced to contend with the ladies, this time with the help of their former nemesis. Rogen is great in these kind of films, especially since this one is a little more restrained than some of Rogen's other comedies. He is particular…

Superhero Movie Countdown — No. 15

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Superhero stories are everywhere. And it makes sense. In a lot of ways, superhero films are the cultural mythology of America. This year we've already seen three films released, with another three more — at least — coming as the year winds on.

That got me thinking, since it's summer, about what are the best superhero films. "Captain America: Civil War," which debuted in early May, got people talking about the best of the Marvel Films. So I started making a list of my favorite superhero movies. Over the next 15 weeks of summer, I'll be counting down my favorites.

Quick caveat — no movies released in 2016 will be included. I think you have to be out for at least a year to be considered so we don't get caught up in recency bias.

No. 15 — Batman Returns (1992)
Starring: Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Christopher Walken
Director: Tim Burton
Quote:  "I am Catwoman. Hear me roar." — Catwoman
About: Tim Burton is an incredibly unique filmm…

Summer TV Roundup, Week 1

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Summer officially begins in June, but the Summer TV slate began last weekend. In these weekly posts I will look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this summer. Happy watching during these dog days before the NFL returns.

Sunday Nights:
Preacher, Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC (Premiered May 22)
About: "Preacher," which is based on a comic book series of the same name, is the latest drama to premier on AMC. It's the network's latest and best hope to find ratings outside of "The Walking Dead." The premier launched after the summer finale of "Fear The Walking Dead." It will re-air next Sunday before the series resumes its first season on Sunday, June 5. It is getting the full treatment, too, with "Talking Preacher" going after the re-air of the premier and the finale later this summer. All of that sets up this to be a great series. The pilot — which is 90 minutes — has it's moments, but it is far from great. Part of it is be…

The Past is Prologue

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"Knowledge has made you powerful, but there's still so much you don't know." — The Red Priestess, "Game of Thrones."

This season of "Game of Thrones" has possibly been the best so far, but it's also been the most emotional. That was made abundantly clear on Sunday as (SPOILER ALERT) we lost a hero. It was a difficult and painful episode. It's left many feeling blue.

There have been a number of characters killed on "Game of Thrones" during its run. In fact, it almost seems like a weekly occurrence. But with Hodor, a gentle giant, an innocent, meeting that fate seemed almost more cruel. Especially in light of learning how he became the way he is.

Bran Stark (Issac Hempsted Wright) has learned the hard way this season that the past isn't always what it appears to be. When he saw the battle at the Tower of Joy he realized that the version of history his dad and others had always presented wasn't quite right. Their actions we…

Upfronts Week — New Shows to get excited about

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We made it through Upfronts Week, a time when the networks roll out their schedules for the fall, including the new series they hope will hit. NBC, FOX, ABC, CBS, and the CW rolled out their schedules, offering a combined 20 new shows for the Fall. 
I have been doing this for more than a decade, and this is about the least inspiring crop of new shows I've seen. This fall includes TV versions of movies — "The Exorcist," "Lethal Weapon," "Frequency" — and some dubious re-makes — "MacGyver" anyone? It also gives new sitcoms to Kevin James and Matt LeBlanc, as well as some other head scratchers.
But that doesn't mean there's no reason for optimism. Below I take a look at five I'm excited about and three I see as potential bombs. This is based solely on the show description and initial trailer. We'll see in September/October how it all pans out.
Five I'm Pumped For: Designated Survivor, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on ABC About: This …

Upfronts Week — The CW

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It's Upfronts Week! Each May, as one broadcast season ends, the major networks — NBC, FOX, ABC, CBS, and The CW — present their new fall schedules to the world. This includes changed time slots, new series, and what's been cancelled. Each day this week I'll be taking a look at the new schedules as they're released.

The CW
Best Scheduling Move: "Jane The Virgin" is arguably the most decorated show on the CW, with Gina Rodriguez winning a Golden Globe, the network's first award. But it's hard trouble attracting an audience. It's never had a good lead in, either. That changes next fall as "Supergirl," which will likely be a top three rated series for the CW, and is also female-centric, takes the Monday at 8 p.m. slot. This will give the best possible lead in for "Jane The Virgin," and might expose the show to a whole new audience.

Most Curious Scheduling Move: There really aren't any dubious moves here for the CW in terms of its…

Now Playing

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

Money Monster
Starring: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Dominic West, and Jack O'Connell
Synopsis: It’s getting impossible to ignore that our economy is out of alignment. By most accounts, we have the largest income inequality in our country since The Great Depression, and people in the middle and lower classes are feeling it. That comes on the heels of years of questions about the validity of the stock market and the house of cards upon which our economy is built. In the wake of the burst housing bubble in 2008 we’ve seen dozens of books and films about how it happened, and how it might happen again. Just last winter “The Big Short” was a film that earned a Best Picture nomination and posited that we are on the verge of another economic collapse. It’s into that frenzied state of confusion, anger and angst that “Money Monster” appears. It’s a film about a popular financial show host who is taken hostage by a disgruntled investor tha…

Upfronts Week - CBS

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It's Upfronts Week! Each May, as one broadcast season ends, the major networks — NBC, FOX, ABC, CBS, and The CW — present their new fall schedules to the world. This includes changed time slots, new series, and what's been cancelled. Each day this week I'll be taking a look at the new schedules as they're released.

CBS
Best Scheduling Move: In the past, CBS has scored with a solid comedy block on Monday nights. Last season, CBS dumped its Monday comedy block in favor of a trio of dramas. It didn't quite work how they planned, so now the Monday night comedy block is back! That gives CBS two nights of comedy, something the network has had some relative success with. They're also kicking off that Monday block with some familiar faces, Kevin James and Matt LeBlanc. That can't hurt.

Most Curious Scheduling Decision: CBS is the No.1 network for total viewers, and has been for some time. They don't make a lot of mistakes. That being said, I thought it was curiou…

Upfronts Week — ABC

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It's Upfronts Week! Each May, as one broadcast season ends, the major networks — NBC, FOX, ABC, CBS, and The CW — present their new fall schedules to the world. This includes changed time slots, new series, and what's been cancelled. Each day this week I'll be taking a look at the new schedules as they're released.

ABC
Best Scheduling Move: Comedy is something that has fallen away on networks. But one place where it's thrived is on ABC, which has created somewhat of a niche for itself with family comedies. Its Wednesday night block has been strong for a couple seasons, so wisely ABC is expanding to build a comedy block on Tuesdays for two hours, too. Mixed in are two new comedies, joining six existing comedies that have been shuffled a bit. It could end up helping to establish a stronger brand for ABC, especially since their schedules the previous few seasons have been such a mess on Tuesday nights.

Most Curious Scheduling Move: Thursday nights on ABC belong to Shond…

Upfronts Week — FOX

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It's Upfronts Week! Each May, as one broadcast season ends, the major networks — NBC, FOX, ABC, CBS, and The CW — present their new fall schedules to the world. This includes changed time slots, new series, and what's been cancelled. Each day this week I'll be taking a look at the new schedules as they're released.
FOX Best Schedule Move: Last year FOX broke up its Tuesday night comedy block and sent "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" to Sunday nights. It didn't work. Wisely, FOX has moved "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" back to Tuesdays, pairing it with "New Girl." FOX comedies haven't been stellar the past few seasons, but this is a move that make sense.
Most Curious Scheduling Move: FOX moved "Rosewood" to Thursday nights at 8 p.m. Much like NBC offloading "Blindspot" to a dead spot in its lineup, FOX moving "Rosewood" to the tough Thursday slot doesn't bode well. While the series was one of just a couple that made it to …

Upfronts Week — NBC

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It's Upfronts Week! Each May, as one broadcast season ends, the major networks — NBC, FOX, ABC, CBS, and The CW — present their new fall schedules to the world. This includes changed time slots, new series, and what's been cancelled. Each day this week I'll be taking a look at the new schedules as they're released.
NBC: Best schedule move: For years NBC was known for its comedies. It hasn't been recently, but when people think of Thursday nights they still think of comedy on NBC. It wasn't there last year, as NBC tried to launch new series around "The Blacklist" on that night, with poor results. RIP "Heroes: Reborn," "You, Me, and The Apocalypse," and "The Player." But with this schedule, comedy is back on Thursdays with "Superstore," a surprise hit from 2015, and "The Good Place" kick starting the night. They moved Chicago Med, which has relatively stable ratings, to the 9 p.m. slot and moved "The…

Generational IQ

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"How do you keep five generations happy? And since we're living longer, churches change more slowly because those in leadership positions remain in those roles longer than they ever have before. That people live thirty years longer than they used to is one of God's most amazing blessings. But it could also send millions of people to hell."  — Haydn Shaw, "Generational IQ"

The world has changed. In eras past, there were two to three generations sharing the same space. Now, there are six living generations, all that need to be serviced by the church. That creates some difficulty. The world is changing. What it takes to reach the younger generations — Generation X and Millennials — requires some different thinking. Sadly, churches can't always keep up.

And that's what Shaw's book, "Generational IQ," seeks to address. It looks at the four major generations needing to be services in the church — The Silent/Builder/Traditionalist Generation…

Fall TV in Review

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Each fall Networks throw out tons of new shows hoping to find a hit. Sometimes they find diamonds, other times they just find rough. In September, I looked at five that seemed promising in three to avoid. Now that the broadcast season is over, it's time to recap.

Picks for the Best:
1. Blindspot, on NBC — I loved the pilot for "Blindspot," and have continued to watch the whole first season. But it's gotten a little dry and never fully delivered on its promise.

2. Man in the High Castle, Amazon Prime — This actually did turn out pretty well. It was a somewhat uneven first season, but I'm excited to see where it goes.

3. Quantico, ABC — This was a big miss. The pilot and premise seemed interesting, but after a couple episodes I gave up. The series was renewed for a second season, but its ratings have been middling at best.

4. Code Black,  CBS — This was another miss. The series got a short season, is long off the air, and is likely not to be renewed. There was potentia…

2016 Broncos Season — Way too early season projections

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This week Football Outsiders posted their 2016 predictions for the AFC West. It went as follows: Chiefs 10-6, Chargers 8-8, Broncos 7-9, and Raiders 6-10. Obviously I'm not buying that. Neither is Broncos' cornerback Chris Harris, Jr., and running back CJ Anderson, both of whom poked fun of the prediction on Twitter.

The Broncos are the defending Super Bowl champions. They lost some pieces, yes, but gained some pieces, too. Reports of their demise are greatly exaggerated. But it got me thinking, post draft, what my predictions are. So, though it's early May and we haven't even had camps, here's my early predictions:

NFC:
West:
* Arizona Cardinals 12-4
* Seattle Seahawks 9-7
* Los Angeles Rams 8-8
* San Francisco 49ers 5-11
About: The thought here is the Cardinals are still great, the Seahawks have some holes, the Rams are always around .500, and the 49ers still have a poor roster.

North:
* Green Bay Packers 11-5
* Minnesota Vikings 9-7
* Detroit Lions 7-9
* Chicago Be…

Now Playing

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

Captain America: Civil War
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Don Cheadle, Paul Bettany, Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Holland, Jeremy Renner, Sam Mackie, Emily VanCamp, and Chadwick Boseman
Synopsis: In the 2002 movie “Spider-Man,” Uncle Ben offers some sage advice to a young Peter Parker, who is wrestling with his newfound abilities and what it means for his behavior. Uncle Ben says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” In other words, to whom much is given, much is expected. That idea forms Peter’s approach to becoming Spider-Man and to his mission in the world. But in the years since, it sometimes seems superhero movies have forgotten that. Sure, the heroes still battle the villains and save the world, but there’s a lot more collateral damage that comes along with it. It’s led some to ponder why we care so much for these heroes and so little about the everyday people that get caught in the crossfire wh…

Top 25 Countdown, a Recap

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Over the past 25 weeks I counted down my personal top 25 films from 25 all the way to 1. I'm sure there were some surprises, and I hope there were some movies that got you thinking. I want to recap the complete list again:

Top 25 Countdown:
1. A Time to Kill (1996)
2. The Dark Knight (2008) 3. No Country For Old Men (2007) 4. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) 5. Simon Birch (1998) 6. The Godfather (1972) 7. Jurassic Park (1993) 8. Jaws (1975) 9. Gettysburg (1993) 10. Up In The Air (2009) 11. Die Hard (1988) 12. Doubt (2008) 13. Way of the Gun (2000) 14. Heat (1995) 15. The Paper (1994) 16. Watchmen (2009) 17. LA Confidential (1997) 18. Serenity (2005) 19. Children of Men (2006) 20. Miller's Crossing (1990) 21. About Schmidt (2002) 22. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) 23. The Matrix (1999) 24. Independence Day (1996) 25. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
I like to go through the process of looking at my Top 25 every couple of years because it can be a way to see how my taste and apprec…

Spring TV Roundup, Week 11

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Spring is quickly transitioning towards summer. In a couple weeks, the first of our summer shows will be out. For now, it's the last of the "Spring" premiers. In these posts I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted shows. Don't see a new show listed below, check previous weeks.

Monday Nights:
Houdini & Doyle, Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX (Premiered May 2)
About: This latest mystery series centers on real life personalities Harry Houdini, the illusionist, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, writer of "Sherlock Holmes," as they explore supernatural cases. Doyle wants to believe and Houdini is more of a skeptic. I liked the pilot, the interchange between the characters and the general arc of the story. The second episode felt like a carbon-copy, and didn't give us much in a step up in the characters. It also wasn't that interesting of a story. I like the idea here, and I like the lead actors — Stephen Mangan and Michael Weston — but it feels a litt…

Are Superhero Movies Too Safe

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Steve Rogers: He's my friend.
Tony Stark: So was I.

Our heroes can't seem to get along. In March, Batman and Superman squared off. Friday, as the summer movie season kicked off, the Avengers were split in "Captain America: Civil War." There's been a lot of comparing these two films, but few have looked at one aspect in particular — do they take risks.

(Spoilers Below)

"Captain America: Civil War" is the better film. The acting and production was better. The writing and characters were better. And the story was better. In fact, I was thinking "Civil War" might be the best Marvel film — until we got to the third act. After so much emotion and build up, nothing happened.

Prior to the release of the film there was a great deal of speculation about who would die, and would it be someone significant. Most believed the answer to that was yes, one of the main protagonists would pay the ultimate price. The only ones that don't seem to agree are thos…

A people of Love

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"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing." — 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Chapter 13 of First Corinthians is referred to as the Love Chapter. It's often spoken at weddings. And it works in that context. But it's also a text that's about so much more — it's about what it means to be the people of God. This morning we heard a message that challenged us to start thinking about those words in that context. It's how we represent Jesus Christ to the world.

Or it's how we should. But it isn't always how we do. But as Rev. Dr. Tim McConnell said this morning, "The church that forgot to love just isn…

Faith Rewarded

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"Next time I have an idea like that, punch me in the face." — Tyrion, "Game of Thrones"

The second episode of season six of "Game of Thrones" will surely be remembered for one important thing — (Spoiler Alert) — Jon Snow lives. We knew he would, it was only a matter of time. I chronicled last week how Jon's fate was closely intertwined with the idea of hope.

What I was moved by in the second episode was the idea of faith — more specifically faith rewarded. It was something that ran as an undercurrent to many of the stories.

We got our first glimpse of Bran Stark since the end of season four. He has finally arrived at the place he felt drawn to go, and there his faith is being rewarded. He believed that making the journey was vital. That he had a role to play and would learn more there. And he is.

We, of course, moved to Sansa. Despite what he'd done, when Theon asked her to jump, she had faith in him and the plan. Now she appears on the road to s…

2016 Broncos Season - Quarterback Competition Taking Shape

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The Denver Broncos are the defending Super Bowl Champions. Normally when you're about to begin the season after you win the Super Bowl all the questions are about your chances to repeat and defend your title. Instead, the Broncos have a much bigger mountain to scale.

It all began on March 7, just one month after the Super Bowl, when Peyton Manning retired. To be fair, Manning struggled during his final season. In 10 games (nine starts) he posted a 59.8 percent completion percentage, just 2,249 yards, seven touchdowns and a league-leading 17 interceptions. But he also posted a 7-2 record as a starter in the regular season, going 3-0 in the post season, including a Super Bowl title.

It is fair to argue that the Broncos' defense won the Super Bowl, not Manning. There's a reason Von Miller was named Super Bowl 50 MVP. But all Manning had done in four seasons with Denver is help lead the Broncos to four AFC West titles, three No. 1 seeds in the AFC, two Super Bowl births, and …