Posts

Showing posts from November, 2016

Declining Ratings

Image
"If you keep thinking everyone's an enemy, then enemies are all you're gonna find." - Tara, "The Walking Dead."

Seven seasons is a long time for a TV series. It's understandable that audiences grow weary, characters leave the series and things can become stale. That, inevitably, leads to declines in ratings. It would be easy to look at "The Walking Dead," a series in the midst of its seventh season, and chock up some of the ratings decline to age and audience fatigue.

After all, this isn't a hopeful show or a hopeful world. It's essentially been doom and gloom for seven seasons, and that's not likely to change. There is no happy ending coming for these characters. Even survival isn't reason for rejoicing in the world of "The Walking Dead" because there is always something dire around the corner.

But I think there's more to it with season seven. This is a show that, for me, was top 10 through season six and now ha…

Fall TV Roundup, Week 12

Image
We're almost to December, but new shows continue to debut. In these weekly posts I look at the pilot and second episode of new series this fall. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Tuesday Nights:
Sweet/Vicious, Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on MTV (Premiered November 15)
About:
This series from MTV is about a pair of college girls with little in common who find common ground in a common mission to make campus rapists pay. Their initial meeting is fraught, as they commit a murder and have to cover it up. But they decide to press on with their crucial mission, doing their part to battle an epidemic. This is a real issue, and a real issue of concern on college campuses throughout the United States. Given the target demographic for MTV, this is a series that could be construed as educational in bringing this issue to light, in addition to being entertaining. Both the leads have been victims in their own way, too, and the show has offered glimpses in the first two episode…

2016 Broncos Season, Week 12

Image
November was a rough month. The Broncos went 1-2, lost a pair of division games, and find themselves in third in the AFC West and out of the playoffs at the moment. Bring on December.

Week 12: Chiefs 30, Broncos 27
Season Record: 7-4 (4-2 Home)
Key Play: In regulation, with the Broncos leading 24-16 and less than a minute left. Alex Smith completed a pass to Tyreke Hill that appeared to be just short of the goal line as time ran out. A review ruled he scored a touchdown, cutting the lead to 24-22. The Chiefs scored the two-point conversion and went on to win in overtime.

Recap: It's been a bad month for the Broncos, who now find themselves at 7-4, third in the West, just outside the playoff picture and needing to charge hard over the final five games. All hope is not lost yet, but the Broncos must play better. In last night's game there were some dubious calls, to be sure, but it was the defense failing to come through in the clutch that really cost the team the game. The defense…

Upcoming Releases — December

Image
We've made it to the final month of 2016, and as our reward we get three or four of the most anticipated films of the year. It's truly the most wonderful time of the year.

Friday, December 2:
Incarnate — A fantastic movie month gets off to a dreadful start with this low-budget possession horror movie starring Aaron Eckhart. In other words, you get an extra weekend to catch up on the November movies you might have missed.

Friday, December 9:
Office Christmas Party — This feels like the year of Kate McKinnon, so it's fitting that she's in the best looking Christmas comedy of the year. I like everything about this trailer and cast. I have high hopes for this film.

Miss Sloane — Some markets got this film in limited release in late November, but this tale of a lobbyist fighting against the gun industry gets a wide release here. It has a great cast, led by Jessica Chastain, but is probably a movie that you'll only enjoy based on your political leanings.

Nocturnal Animals — T…

A Return to Stars Hollow

Image
"I believe, in a former life, I was coffee." — Lorelai Gilmore

On May 15, 2007, "Gilmore Girls" aired its final episode. It was the end of a beautiful seven-season journey. But it didn't end the way Amy Sherman Palladino intended. She created the show, but she and her husband, Dan, producers on the series, left prior to the seventh season. And audiences, though they were taken with the journey, were always left to wonder what might have been.

I'm a 35-year-old male, definitely not the target audience for "Gilmore Girls," but it was a show I watched faithfully for seven seasons. And in the nine years since it left the air, the love for it hasn't waned. So when Netflix announced that they were bringing it back, with four 90-minutes episodes, I like so many in America were incredibly excited. The cast was coming back and Amy and Dan were getting to write and direct the episodes and tell the stories they wanted to tell.

The season dropped on Frid…

Now Playing

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

Edge of Seventeen
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, Kyra Sedgwick, Haley Lu Richardson, and Blake Jenner
Synopsis: Growing up is a strange and difficult time. "The Edge of Seventeen," a new dramedy from writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig and producer James L. Brooks, perfectly captures that. This is one of the funniest and most engaging films of the year, and that's a credit to Craig. She delivers a beautiful script and gets some pitch-perfect performances. Every year there's one or two movies that slide under the radar that I absolutely love. This year, "Edge of Seventeen" is one of those films. Steinfeld is great in the lead role. She has a perfect blend of comedic timing and dramatic chops, and she perfectly carries the film. But this is a great supporting cast, too. I liked Sedgwick as her overly emotional mother and Jenner as her brother. He has a couple great scenes that really flesh out a …

Thanksgiving

Image
"The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me." — Psalm 116:5-6

Thanksgiving is a time when we stop and remember what we're grateful for. Truth be told, we should do it more often. But luckily we have this day, part of a week, really, that's set aside to help us shift our focus. So many in our country and in our world don't have a lot to celebrate today. Those of us that do have even more responsibility to pause and give thanks.

I remember this time last year. My father had just finished a major heat procedure, and we were just grateful he was still with us. I look at where we are a year later, and it's amazing how the Lord has blessed our family. That, alone, is worthy of Thanksgiving and praise. But it's really just the tip of the iceberg.

I'm grateful for my wife, Lindsay. She's a partner to go through all of life's journeys — both the highs and lows. I&…

NFL Picks, Week 12

Image
We've reached the heart of the season. Lindsay and I are neck-and-neck, but thanks to a 12-2 week 11, I took a one pick lead. Let's see if it holds up. Lindsay's picks are in brackets.

NFL Picks, Week 12:
Lions Over Vikings (Lions)
Cowboys Over Redskins (Cowboys)
Steelers Over Colts (Steelers)
Falcons Over Cardinals (Falcons)
Bills Over Jaguars (Bills)
Titans Over Bears (Titans)
Ravens Over Bengals (Ravens)
Giants Over Browns (Giants)
Saints Over Rams (Rams)
Dolphins Over 49ers (Dolphins)
Texans Over Chargers (Texans)
Seahawks Over Buccaneers (Seahawks)
Panthers Over Raiders (Raiders)
Patriots Over Jets (Patriots)
Broncos Over Chiefs (Broncos)
Eagles Over Packers (Eagles)

Last Week: 12–2
Lindsay: 10-4

Season: 96–65
Lindsay: 95-66

NFL Picks Spread, Week 12:
Lions -2.5 Over Vikings
Redskins +6.5 Over Cowboys
Steelers -7.5 Over Colts
Cardinals +4.5 Over Falcons
Bills -6.5 Over Jaguars
Titans -3.5 Over Bears
Bengals +4.5 Over Ravens
Giants -7.5 Over Browns
Rams +6.5 Over Saints
Dol…

Fall TV Roundup, Week 11

Image
We have plenty of new shows still flowing, which means plenty of new options to consider. In these weekly posts I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted shows this fall. Don't see a new show below? Check previous weeks.

Monday Nights:
Mars, Mondays at 9 p.m. on National Geographic Channel (Premiered November 14)
About: This is one of the most inventive shows of the year. It's a mixture of live action and documentary. Part of it focuses on a fictional 2033, where we are watching the first manned mission to Mars. And part of it takes place in 2016, where interviews with real scientists on the cutting edge of space exploration talk about the race to get to Mars and what it would take to set up a human colony. It's a creative idea and fascinating at times, but also a little dry. This might be a show more aimed at those interested in space exploration.
Pilot Grade: B
Second Episode: B-

Search Party, Mondays at 11 p.m. on TBS (Premiered November 21)
About: This latest si…

2016 Broncos Season, Bye Week

Image
Week 11 isn't quite in the books, as the Raiders host the Texans tonight. So the outcome of that could change some things, but regardless of how the Raiders do, the Broncos will come out of their bye week in a dog fight for the AFC West title. The Broncos are 7-3, as are the Kansas City Chiefs, who lost on Sunday, at home, to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If the Raiders win, they'll maintain a one-game lead in the division. If they lose, we'll start Week 12 in a three-way free-for-all for the AFC West with six games to play.

In order for the Broncos to have a shot at winning, and for them to make hey in the playoffs, here's a few things they need to work on.

1. Offensive Line Play. This is the Broncos' single biggest issue, and it's been crippling. The line isn't pass blocking or run blocking well, and they've drawn plenty of penalties. Some of it could be health, but a lot of it seems to be a personnel struggle. That's got to improve. If they can't…

The nature of time

Image
"Yes my life is better left to chance; I could have missed the pain but I'd have had to miss the dance." — Garth Brooks, "The Dance."

SPOILERS AHEAD

The new film "Arrival" is about aliens making contact with earth. In the course of our interactions, they come to give us a gift. And that gift is a new approach to time. In other words, those like Amy Adams' character who can understand their language no longer are bound to linear time.

As part of the film, we see a timeline for Adams' character. She gets married and has a daughter. Her marriage breaks up, and her daughter dies of a terminal illness. It's a sad story we see play out before the rest of the story of the film. It's only at the end that we realize these are events that happened afterward and, being able to travel along the timeline at will, Adams' character knows this will happen if she follows a certain path.

In the end, she chooses that path anyway. Her decision is tha…

Best New Shows of the Fall

Image
We've come to the end of the fall, as many shows are on their winter break or soon will be. So it seems like a good time to look back at what have been the five best new shows of the fall.

1. Designated Survivor, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on ABC
About: This was a high-concept plot that could have gone a lot of ways. But I like the way it's developed. There's an interesting season-long mystery, and they show's done a good job of exploring the potential problems and pitfalls of an incident that wiped out the government, especially with the possibility of a low-level cabinet member ascending to the highest office. And when that low-level member is played by Kiefer Sutherland, it's a win.

2. Pitch, Thursdays at 9 p.m. on FOX
About: This has been the biggest surprise of the fall for me. When I watched the trailer for this series, I didn't really think it was something that would work, and it wasn't a show I was very interested in. But then I watched the pilot, which se…

Week 11 Picks

Image
We've hit week 11, with just seven weeks left in the regular season. Lindsay still holds a one pick lead, but I feel like my time is coming. Lindsay's picks are in brackets.

NFL Picks, Week 11
Panthers Over Saints (Saints)
Bills Over Bengals (Bills)
Giants Over Bears (Giants)
Steelers Over Browns (Steelers)
Cowboys Over Ravens (Cowboys)
Lions Over Jaguars (Jaguars)
Titans Over Colts (Titans)
Chiefs Over Buccaneers (Chiefs)
Vikings Over Cardinals (Vikings)
Dolphins Over Rams (Dolphins)
Patriots Over 49ers (Patriots)
Seahawks Over Eagles (Seahawks)
Redskins Over Packers (Redskins)
Raiders Over Texans (Raiders)

Last Week: 9–5
Lindsay: 9-5

Season: 84–63
Season: 85-62

NFL Picks Spread, Week 11
Saints +3.5 Over Panthers
Bills +3.5 Over Bengals
Giants -7.5 Over Bears
Steelers -9.5 Over Browns
Cowboys -7.5 Over Ravens
Lions -6.5 Over Jaguars
Titans +2.5 Over Colts
Chiefs -7.5 Over Buccaneers
Vikings -.5 Over Cardinals
Dolphins -.5 Over Rams
Patriots -13.5 Over 49ers
Seahawks -6.5 Over Eagl…

Now Playing

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

Arrival
Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Forest Whitaker
Synopsis: It would probably be easy to look at a movie called “Arrival” that is about alien visitors and boasts a strong cast and think you’re getting a certain kind of movie. But this isn’t the sequel to “Independence Day” we wish we’d gotten this summer. This is a heady piece of art that asks bigger questions about life and doesn’t particularly care how you feel about its plot. If you went to this movie expecting the typical story on aliens, it might be possible to come away somewhat disappointed. But if you wanted a fascinating movie that asks some hard questions about life and plays with our notions of time, you struck gold with “Arrival.” We are in a season where we typically get deeper and more introspective films, and this is a prime example of that. And it’s a movie that could easily come up again come Awards season. Last year director Denis Vill…

Decision Day plus seven

Image
"I see a colorful future Where skin don't define any human And stars are the only thing shooting Shooting Ooh, ooh Mothers who bury their child How can we sit there and hide Change comes when all take a stand now Stand up Stand up" - "Powerful," Empire
It's been a week since the aftermath of the 2016 election. I remember thinking prior to the election how glad I would be when November 8, 2016, finally arrived. I thought the election talk, which had dominated everything for 18 months, would be over.

Then election night came. In the wake of the surprise victory by Donald Trump, the election talk has only increased. There's been outrage on both sides. There's been vitriol on both sides. And it doesn't seem like it's going to end any time soon. It almost made me yearn for the mud slinging of the campaign trail in mid-August.

But I've been reading a lot, listening to a lot, and thinking a lot about what happened, and what may happen. It's clear to…

Fall TV Roundup, Week 10

Image
It's November, but the flood of new shows this fall has hardly slowed. In these weekly posts I take a look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this fall. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Monday Nights:
Mars, Mondays at 9 p.m. on National Geographic Channel (Premiered November 14)
About: This is the latest series on National Geographic Channel, and it comes from producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. It's an ambitious blend of scripted entertainment and documentary, and it just might be what we need to spark a national interest in space exploration again. And that's no small feat, to be sure. The series centers on a mission to Mars in the year 2033. That mission, portrayed by actors, is part of a fictional exploration of the topic that tries to be grounded in realistic scientific principals. The other half of the show is in 2016, where those on the cutting edge of science and technology are working to get us there right now. The …

2016 Broncos Season, Week 10

Image
Sometimes you just gotta get lucky.

Week 10: Broncos 25, New Orleans Saints 23
Season Record: 7-3 (4-1 Home)
Key Play: In the fourth quarter, with 1:28 left and the Saints Trailing 23-17, Drew Brees connected with Brandin Cooks on a 32-yard touchdown pass to tie the game. On the ensuing extra point, Justin Simmons jumped the line and blocked the kick, which was picked up by Will Parks and returned for two points, giving Denver the win.

Recap: The Broncos are a beat up team with a lot of holes. That's why it was important to get a win, to get the taste of that Oakland loss out of their mouths, heading into the bye week. But it didn't happen the way most expected, unless you had returned extra point as the winning score. And who didn't? The Broncos did some good things but struggled at times, too. But they won, moving to 7-3 on the season and remaining solidly in the playoff hunt. Since Denver has a tough closing schedule (including New England, KC twice and Oakland), the team …

Supplication

Image
"Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy." Psalm 86:1

Today we continued out look at prayer with Supplication, the act of bringing our needs before the Lord. This is the part that we most often think about when we talk about prayer, the part where we bring our petitions and requests before God.

But sometimes we don't really understand how it works.

I was watching an episode of "Mom" this weekend, and one of the characters faced a big decision. A friend urged her to turn to God for guidance. She got on her knees and, awkwardly, made her petition to God. She waited 10 seconds then looked to the sky and said, "I'm still waiting."

I think we see that a lot. People bring their prayers and petitions to God and expect and instant response. More than that, we expect to instantly get what we've prayed for. But that's not how it works. In fact, sometimes the answer isn't even yes. I love the way Pastor Tim challenged us, saying, &q…

NFL Picks, Week 10

Image
We're past the mid-way point, and Lindsay still has a lead. There's still time to mount a comeback. As always, Lindsay's picks are in brackets.

NFL Picks, Week 10:
Ravens Over Browns (Ravens)
Falcons Over Eagles (Falcons)
Bears Over Buccaneers (Buccaneers)
Broncos Over Saints (Broncos)
Packers Over Titans (Packers)
Chiefs Over Panthers (Chiefs)
Rams Over Jets (Jets)
Redskins Over Vikings (Vikings)
Texans Over Jaguars (Texans)
Dolphins Over Chargers (Dolphins)
Steelers Over Cowboys (Cowboys)
Cardinals Over 49ers (Cardinals)
Patriots Over Seahawks (Patriots)
Giants Over Bengals (Giants)

Last Week: 8–5
Lindsay: 9-4

Season: 75–58
Season: 76-57

NFL Picks Spread, Week 10:
Browns +10.5 Over Ravens
Falcons +.5 Over Eagles
Bears -.5 Over Buccaneers
Broncos +1.5 Over Saints
Packers -2.5 Over Titans
Chiefs +2.5 Over Panthers
Jets -1.5 Over Rams
Vikings +2.5 Over Redskins
Texans -1.5 Over Jaguars
Dolphins +3.5 Over Chargers
Steelers -2.5 Over Cowboys
Cardinals -13.5 Over 49ers
Seahawks +7.…

NFL Predictions at the Half Way Point

Image
We're half way through the 2016 NFL Season, so it seemed like a good time to re-visit my predictions and see what's changed. Below you'll see my pre-season predictions followed by my current predictions, and what's changed.

Pre-Season Predictions:
NFC Playoffs:
1. Arizona Cardinals
2. Green Bay Packers
3. Carolina Panthers
4. Dallas Cowboys
5. Seattle Seahawks
6. Minnesota Vikings

Wild Card Round: Seahawks over Cowboys; Panthers over Vikings
Divisional Round: Cardinals over Seahawks; Packers over Panthers
NFC Championship: Packers over Cardinals

AFC Playoffs:
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Kansas City Chiefs
3. New England Patriots
4. Indianapolis Colts
5. Cincinnati Bengals
6. Denver Broncos

Wild Card Round: Patriots over Broncos; Bengals over Colts
Divisional Round: Patriots over Chiefs; Steelers over Bengals
AFC Championship: Steelers over Patriots

Super Bowl LI: Steelers over Packers

What Went Wrong: A lot of teams just aren't who we thought they were. That begins in the NFC West, where …

Now Playing

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

Dr. Strange
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams, and Tilda Swinton
Synopsis: By now we all have a pretty good idea of what it means to be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What began with a simple movie — “Iron Man” in 2008 — has ballooned into a billion dollar Box Office industry each year. But that’s kept it interesting is the fact that each new hero feels unique, as does the world they inhabit. And that’s true of the latest Marvel film, “Dr. Strange.” Based on the comic book, and set up to be a part of the established cinematic universe, “Dr. Strange” manages to feel very different from what’s come before it. And that’s a good thing. With a strong cast and a film that explores different ideas, “Dr. Strange” is one of the best releases in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and might signal a slight shift in the focus, or at least open the door to something very different. Director Scott De…

Faith in Film, No Country For Old Men

Image
“The crime you see now, it's hard to even take its measure. It's not that I'm afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willing to die to even do this job. But, I don't want to push my chips forward and go out and meet something I don't understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard. He'd have to say, ‘O.K., I'll be part of this world.’” — Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, "No Country For Old Men."

Tonight we come to our final discussion and our final film, "No Country For Old Men." Of course this is a sometimes brutal movie that isn't easy to watch. It poses some hard questions and is ultimately a sad story.

It's set in America in 1980, and it's really a film that operates on two levels. On one level is the basic story, a crime story about a man who makes a discovery in the desert and it pulls him into something he never expected. That something includes being put in the crosshairs of a deadly assassin who won't quit in his …

Fall TV Roundup, Week Nine

Image
We're in the midst of fall, and that means plenty of new TV. It's the most wonderful time of the year, if you like to spend time watching TV, which I do. But I watch so that, most times, you don't have to. In these weekly posts I review the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this fall. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Wednesday Nights:
Stan Against Evil, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on IFC (Premiered November 2)
About: This feels like the kind of show that should have premiered just before Halloween, not just after. But, it's a comedy that's about a small town that has a dark history. The kind of history where 172 people were burned as witches, and someone cursed the position of sheriff forever. Until the last sheriff (John C. McGinley), who had a long career and life. It turns out that was thanks to his wife, a supernatural warrior. Upon her death, and his retirement, things start happening. That leads Stan (McGinley), the former sh…

2016 Broncos Season, Week 10

Image
The Broncos faced the Raiders with first place on the line Sunday. We're still waiting for them to show up....

Week 10: Oakland Raiders 30, Broncos 20
Season Record: 6-3 (4-1 Home)
Key Play: In the second quarter, leading 13-7, Raiders faced third and one at their own 34 yard line. Latavius Murray took the handoff and went 42 yards to the Broncos' 24-yard-line. Murray scored a touchdown from a yard out a few plays later to make it 20-7 in favor of the Raiders, who never trailed.

Recap: The Broncos hit a buzz saw in Oakland on Sunday night, a place they haven't lost since 2010. And, of course, the Raiders haven't played a meaningful game in more than a decade either — let alone one with first place on the line — so it was a historic night for them, too. It doesn't seem like this is a passing of the guard, but it is a sign the Broncos haven't faced this much serious competition for a division title or the playoffs in years. And it's also a sign that the Broncos …

Confession

Image
"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." Psalm 51:10-12

We continued our series on prayer today with a look at Confession. Confession is another part of prayer that we're apt to skip over because it's uncomfortable. It requires us to be vulnerable and to lay our selves bare before the Lord. But that's what makes in an invaluable part of building a relationship, which is ultimately what prayer is all about.

We also don't want to admit things to God. It's foolish if you think about it, because God already knows everything. He always has. But somehow we feel better if we don't have to admit it or talk about it. But that's because we miss the point of Confession. It isn't about us telling God all the ways we've stumbled. He already knows. It's about the …

Now Playing

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

Inferno
Starring: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Ben Foster, and Irrfan Khan
Synopsis: In 2006, Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard teamed to bring the popular Dan Brown novel “The Da Vinci Code” to life. It was a movie that was somewhat tepidly received, and earned a boycott from religious groups. But most of the talking points were actually about Hanks’ haircut in the film. Three years later, they brought another Brown novel — “Angels & Demons” — to the big screen. That film was reviewed more favorably but didn’t draw quite the same attention at the Box Office.  It’s been a decade since that first collaboration, but Hanks and Howard are back with a third installment of the adventures of Professor Robert Langdon. This time, in “Inferno,” he’s got to stop a virus from culling the world’s population before it’s too late. All of Brown’s novels that have been adapted center on clues in our historical past. This film is no different, save fo…

Joy in Wrigleyville

Image
"I would want to go to the future, 25 years in the future, and see if the Cubs ever win a World Series." - Jake Johnson

I'd like to say I was watching last night, but I wasn't. First, I've prematurely aged, so I was asleep when the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years. I'm not a die-hard Cubs fan, but as a sports fan I wish I'd been watching. Instead, when the rain delay came after the ninth inning, I fell asleep.

Second, I couldn't have watched if I wanted to. You see, my satellite dish is out and I won't have live TV until Friday. So I've missed almost all of the most important World Series, and most important baseball games, in decades. And it's a shame. But that doesn't stop me from reveling in this moment.

I have a co-worker who left last Thursday and drove to Chicago. When I asked why, since I knew she and her family weren't going to the games, she said, "just to be there." It's a feeling only…