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Showing posts from 2017

Best Movies of Summer

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Technically summer (both the season and Box Office cycle) is still going. But, let's face it, the big blockbusters have come and gone. Now is a fitting time to take a moment, step back, and hail the best of summer. Below is my favorite films from this summer season, which also happen to be some of the best of the year so far.

Blockbusters:
* Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (May 5): It's easy to forget this now, since it's almost September, but summer kicked off with this sequel to the best of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it was awesome. The soundtrack was great. The performances were great. The film was a fitting follow-up, albeit not quite topping the original.

* Wonder Woman (June 2): It's been rough for DC as they've tried to create their own cinematic universe. They have some great heroes and properties, but they hadn't really made the most of them in their new cinematic universe. That is until Patty Jenkins saved the day with "Wonder Woman," w…

Best of the Small Screen, No. 2

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Over the next 2 weeks I'll be taking a look at some of my favorite TV series, broken down into three groups (Limited Run Series, Comedies, and Dramas). In my post on March 1 I laid out the ground rules for these categories and this exploration, the biggest of which is no series that are currently airing. To read the whole thing, check out the post "Best of the Small Screen" from March 1.

Getting close to the top, and really, this one could have had that spot.

The West Wing (1999-2006)
Number of Seasons/Episodes: 7/155
Network: NBC
Starring: Martin Sheen, Bradley Whitford, Allison Janney, John Spencer, Richard Schiff, Dule Hill, Rob Lowe, Joshua Malina, and Stockard Channing
Creator: Aaron Sorkin
Favorite Season/Episodes: Season 1, 7; 1.01 "Pilot," 1.10 "In Excelsis Deo," 1.22 "What Kind of Day Has It Been," 2.01-2.02 "In The Shadow of Two Gunmen," 2.22 "Two Cathedrals," 3.21 "Posse Comitatus," 4.23 "Twenty Five&…

Summer TV Roundup, Week 14

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We're nearly to September, which means the fall TV Season. But before we get there, we have a few more weeks of summer, and that includes more new TV shows. In these weekly posts I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this summer. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Tuesday Nights:
Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on HBO (Premiered August 8)
About: This sports anthology series is in its 12th season, but each year is new because it follows a different team. We have had two other sports documentaries air this summer ("All or Nothing" on Amazon and "Last Chance U" on Netflix), but "Hard Knocks" is always the most anticipated lead-in to the NFL season. But it can be made or broken on how interesting the players and coaches are. Unfortunately in the season premier, it looks like there isn't much to work with in Tampa Bay. Dirk Koetter is by all accounts a good co…

Loyalty and a Dangerous Mission

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We have just two episodes left in this season seven before we settle in for the long night, and it’s fair to say things haven’t exactly gone the way I thought prior to the start of this season. Episode six will be 75 minutes, and episode seven will be the longest in the history of the series so far, but it might be more of a prologue of what’s to come than a wrap up of anything.
After the close of season six, it seemed clear there were two battles left to be fought. On was for control of Westeros, with Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) sailing for home and Cersei (Lena Headey) having taken control of King’s Landing. The other was the battle for humanity, as the army of the dead was marching on the living. My suspicion, with 13 episodes left, was that season seven would be that battle for Westeros and, when the dust settled, season eight would be the battle against the Night King.
The first four episodes of the season seemed to bear that out. After the premier set things in motion, episodes tw…

The End of Orphan Black

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"Orphan Black," the long-running sci-fi series on BBC America, wrapped up last night. The show spanned five seasons and 50 episodes, and became something of a cult favorite. And many wondered how it would end.

For me, the first season was an engrossing and nearly perfect mystery. The second season was solid, too, then I felt the show got a little lost. I stuck with it to see where it would go, but I thought the latter seasons waned in quality. Still, it was interesting to see how the series would wrap up.

The finale, like the last few seasons, was uneven. The first half hour was the climactic battle between Sarah and her creators and Neolution. Then, the final 30 minutes was a sort of personal wrap up on the characters that felt like it wanted to be more emotional than it was for me. It was OK, but it was a sort of quiet-open-ended, life goes on kind of feel. In this day and age of shows getting a second life, maybe that's for the best.

But here's my take aways from…

2017 Broncos Season, Tight Ends

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The Pre-Season began on Thursday, but much is left to do. I continue my look at position groups with tight ends. The Broncos completed 17 passes on Thursday night, but not a single one went to a tight end. In fact, as a unit, tight ends were only targeted two times. That continues the struggle in determining what to do with this position group.

On The Roster:
* Virgil Green
* AJ Derby
* Jeff Heuerman
* Jake Butt (Rookie)
* Steve Scheu
* Austin Traylor

A Look Back at 2016: The Broncos' offense wasn't great as a unit in 2016, but particularly disappointing was the tight end unit. The Broncos had expected greater production when the season began, and even made and in-season trade to acquire AJ Derby, hoping for more pass production. But it didn't really materialize. Virgil Green has never developed into a reliable receiver, and Jeff Heuerman, after missing his rookie year with a knee injury, played in 12 games in 2016 but recorded just nine receptions on 17 targets. Derby, acq…

2017 Broncos Season, Pre-Season, Week 1

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The 2017 NFL Season has officially begun. The Broncos have finally played an actual game (a pre-season game, but still a game).

Pre-Season Week 1: Broncos 24, Chicago Bears 17
Pre-Season Record: 1-0 (0-0 Home)
Key Play: In the fourth quarter, knotted at 17-17 with time running down and facing a third and 22 from the 41-yard-line, the Broncos handed the ball to rookie running back DeAngelo Henderson, who took the ball to the end zone for the lead. That proved the difference in the game.

Recap: Well, we've seen this before. A defensive score. Offensive ineptitude. Some trouble stopping the run. Penalties on the offensive line. Struggles on Special Teams. And just enough plays to squeak out a win. We've seen this formula before. Some of the faces have changed, and the coaches are new, but the Broncos looked an awful lot like the 2016 version last night. The defense is still great (Chris Harris, Jr. started the game off with a pick-six), but the offense isn't great. We continue t…

Now Playing

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

The Dark Tower
Starring: Tom Taylor, Idris Elba, and Matthew McCounaghey
Synopsis: Stephen King is a master storyteller who has a legion of fans. And his “Dark Tower” books have been among his most popular and highly anticipated as a film. On Friday, August 4, fans got that film. But judging by reviews and Box Office receipts, it might not be what they expected. The novel series is eight books, many quite dense. This first film, a 95-minute action story, was meant to serve as a franchise starter, but it also tries to pack a lot of dense mythology into a tight package. The result is something less than stellar. My biggest issue with this film, as a non book reader, is that it was a story that was hard to follow. The narrative, due in part to collapsing so much story into such a compact running time, cuts some corners. That led to more than a few questions. At the same time, the film is boring at parts. That’s also a problem. It’s short…

Best of the Small Screen, Dramas No. 3

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Over the next 3 weeks I'll be taking a look at some of my favorite TV series, broken down into three groups (Limited Run Series, Comedies, and Dramas). In my post on March 1 I laid out the ground rules for these categories and this exploration, the biggest of which is no series that are currently airing. To read the whole thing, check out the post "Best of the Small Screen" from March 1.

Today  I continue my countdown with a delightful sci-fi gem.

Fringe (2008-2013)
Number of Seasons/Episodes: 5/100
Network: FOX
Starring: Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Jasika Nichole, Lance Reddick, and Blair Brown
Creator: J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci
Favorite Season/Episodes: Season two; 1.20 "There's More Than One of Everything," 2.16 "Peter," 2.18 "The White Tulip," 2.20 "Brown Betty," 3.08 "Entrada," 3.15 "Subject 13," 4.06 "And Those We've Left Behind"
Synopsis: Of all the shows on this l…

Summer TV Roundup, Week 13

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It's August. We're a few weeks from fall premiers, but the new shows of summer keep on coming. In these weekly posts I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this summer. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Wednesday Nights:
The Sinner, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on USA (Premiered August 2)
About: This latest scripted series from USA is an eight-episode limited series starring Jessica Biel and based on a book of the same name. It's about a wife and mother who, one day, snaps and stabs a man to death while on a family outing to the beach. She's quickly taken into custody and confesses. But a detective (Bill Pullman) is convinced there's more to it than that. That pretty much covers the pilot episode, and the question moving forward is whether there's more to the story. Biel began her career on the small screen but quickly graduated to film. Her return here is with a very different kind of character and a very different kind…

Coming Home

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We are officially half way through this penultimate season. Actually more than half way through. Last night’s fourth episode means there’s just three weeks left before the long winter begins for Game of Thrones fans. And that’s not something we’re excited about.
A lot was made about last night’s episode, “The Spoils of War,” and the fact it was the shortest episode in the show’s history. In an already shortened season, that stung a little. Of course, at around 50 minutes, it’s not like it was drastically shorter.
But when you watched the episode, it was impossible to forget the idea that big things come in small packages. That might have been a shorter episode by Thrones’ standards, but it was a mighty episode. One that many are hailing a top-five for the series. I’ve seen it twice, and I’m not ready to make that bold claim yet. Partly because I want to see where it fits in the overall narrative, and partly to avoid recency bias. That being said, last night’s episode had me from the …

2017 Broncos Season, Offensive Line

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We're just five days away from the Broncos' pre-season opener. Today I continue my pre-season look at position groups with the most important group on the team, the offensive line.
On the Roster: * Matt Paradis * Garrett Boles (Rookie) * Ronald Leary * Michael Schofield * Max Garcia * Ty Sambraillo * Menelik Watson * Donald Stephenson * Dillon Day * Allen Barbre * Connor McGovern * Billy Turner * Cameron Hunt (Rookie) * Justin Murray * Elijah Wilkinson (Rookie)
A Look at 2016: This was not a great unit in 2016. Free agent signings of Stephenson and Russell Okung turned out not to be the answer. The team struggled to block, both for running and for the quarterback. In fact, while Okung graded out as average, Stephenson graded out as the worst right tackle in the league. That's not optimistic. This is a unit that failed Denver in 2016, and for the offense to get right it can't fail in 2017. And this is despite having the best center in the league, in Paradis, who played o…

Mile High Salute

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Today the class of 2017 has been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Among those inducted was Terrell Davis, running back for the Denver Broncos. It is a day years in the making, and one I thought might never come. But I couldn't be happier.

The argument against Davis has always been the length of his career. He played in just seven NFL seasons and 78 games, only playing 14 or more games in four of those seasons. Yes, that's a small sample size. But Davis didn't get replaced because his play fell off, or because he wasn't relevant, but because of injury. He played in an era where a significant knee injury was career ending, and for him it was.

Sure, he played parts of two seasons after his injury, but he was never the same and ended up having to retire. And because of that, many were prone to discount his claim to the Hall. I never did. And while I wasn't confident he'd get in, I always believed he should.

For a three year stretch, Davis was the best p…

2017 Broncos Season, Secondary

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We are less than a week away from the Broncos' first pre-season game. Today I continue my look at the position groups with arguably the best unit on the team, the secondary.

On The Roster:
* Chris Harris, Jr.
* Aqib Talib
* Bradley Roby
* Darian Stewart
* TJ Ward
* Lorenzo Doss
* Will Parks
* Justin Simmons
* Brendan Langley (Rookie)
* Chris Lewis-Harris
* Dontrell Nelson (Rookie)
* Nelson Rios (Rookie)
* Dante Barrett (Rookie)
* Jamaal Carter, Sr. (Rookie)
* Orion Stewart (Rookie)
* Dymonte Thomas (Rookie)

A Look at 2016: It is impossible to be better than the Broncos were in 2016. They had the No. 1 pass defense, and were nearly invincible. The defense as a whole was good, but the pass defense was great. Harris, Talib, Stewart, Ward, and Roby form the nucleus of the No Fly Zone, and are among the best in the NFL at their positions.

Changes in 2017: The biggest changes are the loss of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips (now with the Los Angeles Rams) and corner Kayvon Webster (als…

Now Playing

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

Atomic Blonde
Starring: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Toby Jones, John Goodman, Eddie Marsan, and Sofie Boutella
Synopsis: It’s been a good summer for the ladies. Currently, the hottest comedy in theaters, and the most successful this summer, is the female-fronted “Girls Trip.” And arguably the best and most successful film of the summer is “Wonder Woman,” the realization of a long-awaited solo film for the DC Comics hero. “Atomic Blonde” is a film that has similar ambition around doing something different with a female character front and center. The film is based on the graphic novel “The Coldest City,” and revolves around a female spy sent to find a missing list of spies in Berlin just prior to the wall coming down. Some early marketing likened it to a female James Bond, and the trailers featured the star Charlize Theron kicking a lot of butt. While the film has an interesting period setting, a great performance from Theron and so…

Best of the Small Screen, Dramas No. 4

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Over the next 4 weeks I'll be taking a look at some of my favorite TV series, broken down into three groups (Limited Run Series, Comedies, and Dramas). In my post on March 1 I laid out the ground rules for these categories and this exploration, the biggest of which is no series that are currently airing. To read the whole thing, check out the post "Best of the Small Screen" from March 1.

Today I continue my countdown with a beloved sports-related drama.

Friday Night Lights (2006-2011)
Numbers of Seasons/Episodes: 5/76
Network: NBC/DirecTV
Starring: Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, Taylor Kitsch, Zach Gilford, Aimee Teegarden, Jesse Plemmons, Minka Kelly, Adrianne Palicki, Scott Porter, and Gaius Charles
Creator: Peter Berg
Favorite Season/Episodes: Season 1, 1.01 "Pilot," 1.20 "Mud Bowl," 2.14 "Leave No One Behind," 3.12 "Underdogs," 4.05 "The Son," and 5.13 "Always"
About: "Texas Forever!" That was in honor o…

Summer TV Roundup, Week 12

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We've reached August. We only have about six more weeks before the fall season begins, but new shows continue to flood our airwaves this summer. In these weekly posts I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this summer. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Monday Nights:
Midnight, Texas, Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC (Premiered on July 24)
About: This series, based on the books from Charlaine Harris, is set in a small Texas town where the supernatural thrives. The pilot introduced a powerful medium, Manfred Bernardo (Fran├žois Arnaud), who comes to the town to escape some trouble elsewhere and ends up being drawn into a murder mystery. And something more nefarious seems to be coming, too. Those hoping this would be "True Blood" part two will be bummed. This series is a little more serious and a little less fun. I thought the pilot was kind of interesting, not great, but mildly compelling. The second episode felt a little less compel…

Crafting a Legacy

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Earlier this year a film called The Last Word was released in theaters. In the film, Shirley MacLaine played a woman near the end of her life who became concerned about her legacy. She brow beat the local obituary writer (Amanda Seyfried) into writing her obituary early and, after seeing it, decided she needed to work on crafting her legacy. She wanted to change her narrative.
But that desire to craft a legacy isn’t strictly the purview of those near the end of their runs. Lukas Graham, a group fronted by a number of 20-somethings, released a song called “7 Years.” In it, they opine about time, where they’ve been, where they are and where they might end up. It is, essentially, about legacy.
And by now you’re probably totally confused. Isn’t this a Game of Thrones recap? The thing is, while watching last night’s third episode, “The Queen’s Justice,” I couldn’t help but think about the idea of legacy. It seems all the decisions being made for the past few weeks have been about the futu…