Showing posts from May, 2017

Best of the Small Screen, Comedies No. 3

Over the next 13 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.

And now a new wave classic from NBC

The Office (2005-2013)
Number of Seasons/Episodes: 9/188
Network: NBC
Starring: Steve Carell, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, Rainn Wilson, Ed Helms and Angela Kinsey
Creator: Greg Daniels, Ricky Gervais, and Stephen Merchant
Favorite Season/Episodes: Season 4, 4.07 and 4.08, "Money;" 4.13 "Dinner Party," 2.22, "Casino Night;" 3.23, "Beach Games"
About: Based on the popular British series, people didn't know what to make of "The Office" when it first debuted. The first season, a short six episodes, closel…

Summer TV Roundup, Week 3

We're in the midst of summer, which brings a plethora of different options. For networks, it's mostly game shows and scripted fare that didn't make the cut for the regular season. But will it make the cut for viewers? 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:
Still Star Crossed, Mondays at 10 p.m. on ABC (Premiered May 29)
About: This Memorial Day brought us a new drama on ABC, tucked behind "The Bachelorette." This series comes from producer Shonda Rhimes, and is set in the world of "Romeo and Juliet." You read that last part correctly. In fact, the pilot is "In fair Verona where we lay our scene." The whole point of the series is to explore what happens after the lovers kill themselves. I know, sounds riveting. It is actually a clever idea — at least potentially. This pilot picks up in the thick of the action of th…

Upcoming Releases — June 2017

We're into summer, and the blockbusters keep coming. Here's a look at what to expect this month.

Friday, June 2:
Wonder Woman — This is the latest entry in the DC Comics universe. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) made her debut in "Batman vs. Superman: The Dawn of Justice" last March, but now she gets her own solo turn. This is one of my picks for the top films of summer, and by early reviews that's holding true. Gadot is great as this character, and I think this might be the first entry in this DC Universe that lives up to the hype.

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie — This animated feature, based on the popular book series, will likely be a good family draw. Since May didn't yield much in the way of family-friendly entertainment, this will be a welcome bit of counter-programming.

Friday, June 9:
The Mummy — If you read this site regularly, you know I picked this as one of the bombs of summer. I stand by that. What's worse is Universal wants to use this to lau…

Holiday Movie Binge Watch

Sometimes when it's a long weekend, it's a time to check out movies you may have missed. Below is a recap of eight movies I checked out this long weekend.

Collateral Beauty
Starring: Will Smith, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly, Kate Winslet, Ed Norton, and Michael Pena
Synopsis: It would be hard to find a cast more loaded than this. Plus, I loved the trailer. But when it came out near Christmas last year, it was a packed cinematic landscape. That combined with middling reviews, and I let it slip by. But I really wanted to see what they would do with the story. Without giving much of the plot away, I'll say the trailer is misleading, and the way that our main character engages with the concepts of Love, Death, and Time is much less noble. He's a victim, both of his loss and of something else. I was engaged by the emotional journey in this film, and I appreciated Will Smith's performance in the lead role. But I thought there was a large element of the plot that doesn'…

The End Draws Near

"Look, death is easy. People just want finality, an end to their grief. But with Departures, there is not end, and if we indicated otherwise, just by saying we were able to communicate with those individuals? It made their loved ones very, very angry because they didn't want closure." — Laurie, "The Leftovers"

"The Leftovers" has never been an easy story to tell, or an easy show to watch. Heck, it wasn't an easy book to read, either. And it's far from a happy story. We all know this, at least all of us who've watched or read it.

But we hope.

I think there's something about the American culture that craves a happy ending. We like resolution. We like people to find meaning and what they're looking for. It's a condition that's reinforced by most of our mainstream shows and movies, which wrap up neatly and in a way that leaves us feeling good.

Damon Lindelof isn't that kind of writer. We saw that with "L.O.S.T." …

Now Playing

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

Alien: Covenant
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Cruddup, Danny McBride, and Demian Bichir
Synopsis: I wasn’t yet born in 1979 when Ridley Scott delivered his epic sci-fi film, “Alien.” But 38 years after its initial release, the film continues to inspire fans and admirers, and continues to be a relevant part of the culture. Though it wasn’t in a theater, I will never forget the first time I saw that little alien head and teeth emerge from the chest of John Hurt. In the 38 years since its release, “Alien” has inspired many imitators and five sequels. The most recent two films directed by Scott himself, who has said he’s happy continually revisiting this world through prequels. After the flop of “Alien Resurrection” in 1997, the Scott-helmed “Prometheus” in 2012 breathed new life into the franchise. But it wasn’t quite what audiences expected when they heard Scott was returning to the world of “Alien.” The script…

Best of the Small Screen, Comedies No. 4

Over the next 14 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 the countdown with a classic from FOX

Arrested Development (2003-2006)
Number of Seasons/Episodes: 3/53
Network: FOX
Starring: Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Jeffrey Tambor, Portia De Rossi, Michael Cera, Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat, David Cross, Jessica Walter, and Ron Howard
Creator: Mitchell Hurwitz
Favorite Season/Episodes: Season 2, 1.03, "Bringing Up Buster," 2.04, "Good Grief," 2.06, "Afternoon Delight," 2.18, "Righteous Brothers," 3.09 "S.O.B.'s"
About: I'll be honest right up front, when including this series and tal…

Summer TV Roundup, Week 2

We're just into Summer, but there are plenty of new shows to enjoy. In these weekly posts I look at the pilot and second episode of new shows this summer.

Downward Dog, Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on ABC (Premiered May 17)
About: When a new show appears on a network in mid-May after being announced at the previous year's upfront presentation, it's never a good sign. "Downward Dog" probably is a show that ABC executives had second thoughts about, so now it's getting a summer burn off. It got a start with the season finale of regular ABC comedies last week, and tonight it will get to go with the finale of "Dancing With The Stars," so it's getting every chance to succeed. I like star Alison Tollman, who was great in season one of "Fargo," so I was curious to see what the series would be like. It's about a woman trying to navigate life, and her dog, who is also trying to navigate life. Yes, that's right, the dog has one-on-one, &…

Going for the Three-peat

We appear to be on a collision course to see the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals for the third straight season. It's what people have expected since the season bowed in October. But is that a good thing?

While most pundits expected the Cavs and Warriors to make the finals, few expected the playoffs to be this flaccid. The Cavs won their first 10 games, including two blow outs to begin the Eastern Conference Finals. The Warriors have faced a similar lack of challenge in their run to the finals. Even their match up with the Spurs, predicted to be a good one, has gone flat thanks to an injury to the Spurs' best player.

Now, all people can hope is that the Cavs and Warriors play another epic series, one that can help salvage these playoffs. That's a good hope, and it will probably happen. But no matter which team wins the rubber match (the Warriors won in 2015 and the Cavs returned the favor last summer), there's a bigger question for the N…

Upfronts Week -- Time Slot Battles

The network schedules are out, and now it's time to prepare for fall. I looked at the roundups for each network earlier this week, and yesterday I looked at my picks for the best and worst new shows. Today, I'm looking at the biggest time slot battles on each day.

Monday Nights at 10 p.m.
Shows: "The Brave," NBC; "The Good Doctor," ABC; "Scorpion," CBS
About: "Scorpion" is the only veteran show in the time slot, but it hasn't been lighting up the ratings of late. And its lead-in is arguably the weakest. Elsewhere, two new shows are entering the fray. "The Good Doctor" follows "Dancing With The Stars" on ABC, while "The Brave" gets the plumb post-"Voice" slot on NBC. I've previously mentioned that I don't think "The Good Doctor" will be a good show, but it will likely get a decent number of viewers its first week. The key will be to see if any of these new shows resonate with aud…

Upfronts Week — The Best and Worst of the New Shows

We've come to the end of Upfronts Week, a time when the networks roll out their new fall schedules and showcase their new shows. Between the five networks a total of 20 new shows will air in the fall, with many more set for mid-season. But for the purposes of this coverage, we stay locked on the fall offerings.

The new shows break down as follows: NBC, 3; FOX, 3; ABC, 5; CBS, 7; and The CW, 2. I've sorted through them all and given you gems and mirages for each individual network. Now it's time to take them as a whole.

Below are the three shows I like the best, based on trailers and descriptions, and the three I like the least. Now we just have to wait until Fall and see how it all shakes out.

Most Promising New Series:
1. The Orville, Thursdays at 9 p.m. on FOX
About: First off, it has a terrible time slot. That's something I'll be looking at tomorrow when I consider battle points for networks. Second, it has a weird title that wouldn't tell you a lot about it. …

Now Playing

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

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Djimon Honsou, and Eric Bana
Synopsis: Summer is a wonderful time of the year. It delivers some of the most hotly anticipated blockbusters of the year. But, intermixed in that, is some of the biggest bombs of the year. And though this summer season is only two weeks old, we’ve gotten one of each already. Heading into this summer I made a short list of five blockbusters I thought could be potential bombs this summer. One of the films on that list was “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” which opened on May 12. It was a film that cost more than $150 million to make. It brought in a total Box Office of just over $15 million opening weekend, and it’s gotten middling reviews and terrible word of mouth. King Arthur is well-trod cinematic ground. In the 1980s we got “Excalibur.” In the 1990s we got Sean Connery and Richard Gere in “First Knight.” And i…

Upfronts Week — The CW's Fall Schedule

It's Upfronts Week, and the final "network" to unveil its schedule is the CW. Their propped up with an aging drama and superheroes. And they only schedule 10 hours of prime time a week. So how did they fare?

Network: The CW
Best Scheduling Move:
The CW wisely decided to cut its (ratings) losses with critical darling "Jane The Virgin," and move the series to Friday nights along with another critical fave, "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," which is itself ratings challenged. However, the two shows are compatible (something we saw during the 2015-2016 season), and should create a nice Friday night block of counter programming. Most of the other network lineups skew heavily male and heavily nerd, so this will be a nice change-of-pace by the CW.

Most Curious Scheduling Move:
Schedulers will say it's a misstep to move around an established show to a new time slot. It's best avoided. Yet, that's just what the CW is doing with "Arrow," the anchor of …

Upfronts Week — CBS's Fall Schedule

It's Upfronts Week, a time when hope springs eternal for all the networks, and their bevy of new shows. Today we turn our gaze to CBS, which remains the No. 1 network in total viewers. That's not to say there aren't some soft spots in the armor. There are. But CBS gets to schedule from a good place, and that's allowing them to swing for the fences some with new shows.

Network: CBS
Best Scheduling Move:
Stability is always the goal, and CBS really has more of it than any other network. Their Thursday night lineup and Wednesday night lineup have some new shows, but they're built around anchors. "The Big Bang Theory" and familiar comedies "Mom" and "Life in Pieces" provide a foundation for "Young Sheldon," a TBBT spin-off, and the new drama "S.W.A.T." And on Wednesdays, new drama "Seal Team" slides in between stalwarts "Survivor" and "Criminal Minds." The CBS Friday night lineup is also int…

Best of the Small Screen, Comedies No. 5

Over the next 15 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 the countdown with a comedy that some consider a successor to "Friends."

How I Met Your Mother (2005-2014)
Number of Seasons/Episodes: 9/208
Network: CBS
Starring: Josh Radnor, Neil Patrick Harris, Cobie Smulders, Jason Segel, and Alyson Hannigan
Creator: Carter Bays and Craig Thomas
Favorite Season/Episodes: Season two, 2.09 "The Slap Bet," 2.16 "Stuff," 3.09 "Slapsgiving," 3.13 "10 Sessions," 5.08 "The Playbook," 5.12 "Girl vs. Suit," 9.16 "How Your Mother Met Me"
About: Let's get this right…

Upfronts Week — ABC's Fall Schedule

We are in the midst of Upfronts Week, a time when networks unveil their fall schedules and new shows. It's a time of promise and hope. Today, we take a look at ABC, which could use a little of both. Its been mired in the middle for too long, and now it's hoping a revival of "American Idol" can be the answer. But that will come in January. First, we have to get through the fall.

Network: ABC
Best Scheduling Move:
ABC is shaking things up on Sunday nights. NBC has football in the fall, so you're never going to be in first place against that. But you can move up the ladder. Last fall, ABC tried to use dramas, including "Once Upon A Time" and "Quantico" to get a Sunday night audience. It hasn't worked. At all. But the other networks have had similar struggles. We haven't seen CBS's fall schedule, yet, but they haven't had a lot of luck on Sundays, either. So what is ABC doing about it? They're changing the formula. Gone are pric…

Summer TV Roundup, Week 1

The major networks are wrapping up the traditional TV season and presenting their new fall offerings, which is the biggest signal that we've shifted from the winter/spring portion of the schedule to summer TV. In these weekly posts I look at the pilot and second episode of scripted series this summer. Time to see if we can find some diamonds in the rough.

Streaming Series:
I Love Dick, Now Streaming on Amazon Prime (Premiered May 12)
About: This was one of the pilots that, when I watched it, I wondered why it was ordered. And now it's a full blown series. Yet, here we are. I'm sure part of the appeal is the outlandish comedy style and part of it is Jill Soloway, a co-creator and producer on the show who is also responsible for "Transparent," Amazon's biggest hit. For the record, I'm not a fan of "Transparent," either, so I may just not be the target audience for her style. "I Love Dick" has a strong cast, including Kathryn Hahn, who is g…

Upfronts Week — Fox's Fall Schedule

We've arrived at Upfronts Week, a time when networks unveil their new shows and fall schedules. The week kicked off with NBC's presentation and now we move on to FOX, the network with arguably the most work to do.

Network: Fox
Best Scheduling Move:
I'll be honest, I don't love FOX's fall schedule, nor do I totally see the wisdom in it. But if I was going to give out kuddos, I guess it would have to be the decision to move "Empire" forward an hour, and hope to use its audience as the rising tide that lifts all ships. The first ship to experience the presumed lift is "Star," the clone from "Empire" creator Lee Daniels that tried to fill the "Empire" void in the winter and didn't quite achieve its goal. Still, the move makes some sense for a couple reasons. First, "Empire" is the best thing that FOX has currently. "Empire" may have seen its ratings really drop off in season three, and it's possible the…

Upfronts Week — NBC's Fall Schedule

We've reached Upfronts Week, a time when the networks unveil their schedules for fall, complete with returning and new series. Today we look at NBC, first up to share their new fall schedule.

Network: NBC
Best Scheduling Move:
NBC dominated in the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s thanks to four simple words: Must See TV Thursday. Thursday is the premier night on the schedule, and NBC was master of the domain. But that feels like a long time ago. Now, ABC had its Shondaland Series and CBS has the night's top-rated comedy. But NBC started to make headway on Thursdays last fall, adding NFL games to part of the fall schedule to boost their ratings profile. But the network's other move, shifting "The Blacklist" to Thursdays, didn't pay off as expected. So the network is going a different way. It's shifting "This Is Us," it's best new series from the 2016-2017 season, and highest rated drama, to Thursday nights. And it's also adding a pair of new …

Now Playing

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

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Michale Rooker, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel, and Kurt Russell
Synopsis: Summer movie season is a time most people look forward to the most. It’s a time when we have blockbusters, comedies and a lot of big-budget fair to provide entertainment and refuge from long, hot summer days. And the season begins the first weekend in May. That first summer season release carries with it the weight of expectation, getting the season started right. And for the past few years, Marvel has leapt in to take that position. Last summer, it was “Captain America: Civil War” that bowed the first Friday in May to kick-off the summer season. It was about a superhero team that fractured. This year, Marvel offered us a superhero team that knows what it means to be family. “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which bowed late in the summer of 2014, was probably the biggest surpr…

Wasted Opportunities

While I'm a Broncos fan, and that's mostly who I write (obsess) about in this space, I'm also an avid fantasy football and NFL fan. In fact, I write about a lot of teams and players. So when stories break, I can't help but reflect.

Today the big news in the NFL was the fact that troubled Browns receiver Josh Gordon applied for reinstatement to the NFL, and was denied. This likely writes the end to a promising, yet troubled, career for Gordon, who hasn't seen the field in more than two seasons and seems unlikely to return in 2017.

The question for many might be why a guy with multiple drug suspensions who hasn't played in more than two seasons is of interest at all. The reason is simple: the talent and potential he flashed.

Gordon really broke out in 2013, when he had 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns in just 14 games and 87 receptions. He was nothing short of amazing, and explosive. But then the wheels fell off, as Gordon had multiple suspensions and, when he ap…

Best of the Small Screen, Comedies No. 6

Over the next 16 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 we look at one of the highest rated comedies of all time.

Seinfeld (1989-1998)
Number of Seasons/Episodes: 9/173
Network: NBC
Starring: Jerry Seinfeld, Michael Richards, Jason Alexander, and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss
Creator: Larry David
Favorite Season/Episodes: Season eight, 5.18 "The Raincoats," 5.21 "The Opposite," 7.06 "The Soup Nazi," 8.16 "The Pothole"
About: There are so many things to talk about when you consider "Seinfeld." First is the fact that if the show were introduced today, it probably wouldn't have gotten more than a sea…

Spring TV Roundup, Week 7

We're into May and approaching graduation. Summer is coming. Until then, we have the last new shows of Spring. In these weekly posts I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this Spring. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Tuesday Nights:
Genius, Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on National Geographic Channel (Premiered April 25)
About: This is a new docudrama about Albert Einstein. I thought the pilot, which split time between the famous adult Einstein (Geoffrey Rush) and the collegiate Einstein (Johnny Flynn) was a little dry. The second episode locked in solely on Flynn's version of the famous professor, showing how he lived and loved and learned as a young man in Europe. It was equally as dull. Einstein is one of the most famous and important people in history, and the idea of a docudrama is a strong one. But the series doesn't have a strong narrative flow, making it difficult to see where this is going. Storylines and threads from the pil…

2017 Broncos Season, Defense and Special Teams Questions

The Broncos are heading toward summer, mini-camps, training camp, and the start of the 2017 regular season. Yesterday I looked at the focal areas and questions on offense. Today I'll look at defense and special teams, which is a shorter list.

Depth in the back end
About: The Broncos have a great front line of linebackers and secondary with the No Fly Zone. Von Miller, Shane Ray, Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis are poised to start at linebacker. Chris Harris, Jr., Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby are the top corners, while Darian Stewart and TJ Ward man the safety positions. But the team needs to continue to build depth. Justin Simmons and Will Parks must continue to develop at safety, and the hope is rookie Brendan Langley can join with Lorenzo Doss and Taurean Nixon to provide some depth at corner. In the linebacking core, the Broncos have Shaq Barrett, but must continue to develop depth behind the starters, especially in the middle. Corey Nelson and Zaire Anderson have plenty of press…

2017 Broncos Season, Offensive Questions

We're past the draft, and free agency is in the rear view. So now it's time to look at some lingering questions. Tomorrow I'll look at defense and Special Teams, where it seems like we have more answers than questions. But today, it's offense.

This won't include the offensive line. I believe I've covered the fact that the Broncos need to improve on the offensive line, and it's possible that Garrett Bolles is the answer there. But no need to re-hash this subject. Instead, it's time to look at the skill positions.

On the Roster: Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, and Chad Kelly
About: The Broncos were content to roll with Siemian and Lynch as their passers throughout the 2016 season. Yet, as the off-season commenced, many seemed to believe the Broncos were desperate to upgrade at quarterback. John Elway never seemed to express that sentiment and, here we sit, with the Broncos locked into those two at QB. Siemian was the starter last year, played wel…