TV Talk: “Glee” tribute to Monteith Disappoints

GleeAlright, I’m ready to talk about ‘Glee’s’ tribute episode. (note: spoilers abound) First off, it WAS difficult and emotional. Nearly lost it when Kurt wrapped himself up in Finn’s letterman jacket and wept. Nearly lost it when Finn’s mother had her meltdown. Nearly lost it when Rachel had to sing. And when Sue finally copped to being so mean to a “really good kid.”

But as touching as all that was, there were some horribly written scenes with some even worse acting to amplify the bad lines. Puck & Coach Beast’s locker room scene was uncomfortable to watch. Dot Jones has been so much better than that. Maybe it was the dialogue. Santana’s involvement, too, was awkward and much of what she said was unnecessary. In fact, I can’t help but wonder if her and Sue’s focus on Finn’s body image may have inadvertently played a role in Monteith’s substance abuse problems. And while we’re on Sue, the scene with her and Santana making nice left too much unsaid, still. Sue believed there were no lessons to learn from her experience with Finn, but there IS! “Don’t be so damned mean to ‘a really good kid’ if he/she doesn’t deserve it” is the lesson. “We aren’t guaranteed any other day but today to better our relationships with those we truly believe are ‘really good’ people” is another.

And the ending … could it have been ANY more “gay” than for Mr. Shue to have all along had Finn’s stolen letterman jacket in his satchel so he could have his own private moment to mourn? The writers should’ve instead focused on the rift between he and Finn, and the regret of not better mending that fence.

Last night’s episode had it’s “highs” and it’s “awfully lows” and I came away feeling that the “awfully lows” robbed “GLee” fans of a proper moment to mourn in earnest.

Your thoughts?

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‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ Earning Rave Reviews

TrekI’m about an hour from going to an 11:59pm showing of J.J. Abrams second go at directing a ‘Star Trek’ film, so I couldn’t HELP but gaze through Google, looking for any and every review I could find, to see what the critics are saying.  Well, before I, myself go “Into Darkness,” I go with high expectations; because the critics love this movie.

Currently, Rotten Tomatoes has a 95% favorability score among all critics measured, so far, with a 91% “liked it” score from early audience polling.

From the L.A. Times:

So many things are done right that even with the bombast, “Into Darkness” is the best of this summer’s biggies thus far. It’s a great deal of brash fun, and it should satisfy all those basic Trekkie cravings.

From Fox News: (entertainment; the only reason to tune in to Fox News, after all..)

“Into Darkness” eclipses the first film in a rare occurrence of a sequel bettering its predecessor, though missing are those sensations of grandeur and stargazing as Kirk, Bones and Spock experience space and the Starfleet for the first time. Having all of that already established, Abrams instead fashions a hardboiled action-thriller, putting the film in full-throttle from the get go, grabbing the audience by the jugular and refusing to let go until the end credits roll.

From the Screen Rant:
J.J. Abrams has delivered a true follow-up in nearly every way imaginable – successfully exploring the iconic characters and expanded universe of his alternate timeline. The film is bigger and more personal than its predecessor, presenting another fun Trek adventure with captivating character drama that draws from the foundation established in the 2009 reboot (not to mention larger Star Trek mythos). The result is another bold voyage for the Starship Enterprise – one that will likely wow most moviegoers (even if it irks a few die-hard Trekkies).
But Abrams’ second outing with the franchise, Star Trek Into Darkness, is, if anything, even more entertaining than the first one. Even as it calls back to Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (also the second film in the series), it charts new territory, utilizing old memes and new technology in a story that keeps unwrapping itself like a set of nesting dolls.
I’ll have my take tomorrow.  Until then, live long and prosper.  *wink*

NBC’s Fall Planning: Turning Around A Turn-Around?

NBC-MJFToday’s both an exciting and demoralizing day for those with jobs in network television; the major TV networks all roll out their upcoming Fall TV plans, letting entertainment media see what’s new on their programming grids,as well as what’s been whacked.

Today, we got a lot of “official word” we already knew from NBC: they cancelled a lot (when your ratings are as dismal as theirs, you’re bound to do that), offing “Smash,” “The New Normal,” “Go On,” the dreadfully bad “1600 Penn,” “Up All Night” and “Whitney” to name a few.  “Community” and “Parks and Rec” will be back, however, along with pseudo-sci-fi “Revolution.”  About the only programming that truly worked for NBC, though, was “The Voice” and Sunday Night Football.  So there’s a sense that NBC’s trying to “turn around” it’s “turn around” attempt from 2012-13.

The most-hyped newcomer on their fall grid is The Michael J. Fox Show – starring you-know-who, as a ‘forced into retirement’ stay at home dad/former New York city TV reporter dealing with his Parkinson’s disease.  The writers’ use (I hate that term, but that’s how it feels) of Parkinson’s comes off sort of awkward and uncomfortable when you watch the show’s teaser clip (below) and honestly, there weren’t many funny moments, so it’s hard to gauge how successful this show will be.  NBC has it slotted to air Thursday nights at 9:30pm EST, behind Sean Hayes (‘Jack’ from “Will & Grace”) new series “Sean Saves The World,” which leads many to wonder how confident NBC even is in the show they’re touting so mightily.

Then there’s the aforementioned Hayes’ project; when you watch the show pitch (below), do you not find yourself thinking about ‘Jack’ from “Will & Grace” …. a LOT?  Same actor, same demeanor, only slightly less dingy and dresses almost exactly like ‘Jack’ did in so many episodes of “Will & Grace.”  The highlight (for me, anyhow) was seeing Linda Lavin (aka ‘Alice’ from “Alice”) making her return to the small screen.  The clips’ actually pretty funny, but will this show be able to overcome the ‘Jack’ factor?

“Welcome To The Family” seems to have some promise, too; think of it as a more light-hearted “Parenthood” and go with it.  Actually, it would probably be a decent lead in for “Paernthood”  (but won’t be; memo to NBC execs).  Yes, that’s Kurt’s dad from “Glee,” by the way, playing the father of a recent high school grad daughter who’;s on her way to Arizona State before finding out she’s pregnant … thanks to her and her boyfriend’s extra-curriculars.  He, of course, comes from a Latino family (yawn: culture clash comedy), was valedictorian and on his way to bigger and better things before the young couple opt to try and tie the knot, bringing the two families together.

Then there’s the head-scratching decision to revive “Ironside;” Blair Underwood must be owed a “re-do” by the execs at 30 Rock after his last venture with them (“The Event”) went belly-up after one full season of mismanagement.  I don’t see this working (over-acting, quippy cop “tough guy one-liners” and worn out cop drama cliches can’t keep working forever.

If I had to give odds on what will work and what won’t, I’d say “Sean Saves The World” has the best shot, out of the gate, but the “Will & Grace” parallels won’t die easily until Hayes grows a goatee and/or tweaks his on-set persona a bit.  “The Michael J. Fox Show” feels like it’s already in trouble before it debuts, and I’ve got nothing to back that up other than ‘gut feeling.’  But I’m rooting for the guy; what better inspiration for people battling ailments like Parkinson’s than to see a high-profile celebrity doing just that, and succeeding by portraying a character who’s succeeding himself?

Let’s face it; NBC needs to taste success; to do that, they might be best served to stay out of their own way.  It’s my belief their scheduling “bipolar disorder” and quirky mid-season breaks ruined critically acclaimed and much-hyped projects like “The New Normal,” “The Event,” and honestly, I’m surprised “Revolution” is doing alright despite the same network treatment.  It’ll never escape my mind, either, that this was the network that passed on “The Walking Dead.” 

Movie Review: ‘Oblivion’

OBlivionMy better half and I stayed up late enough to catch the 12:01am showing of ‘Oblivion,’ starring Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko and (the very Adele-ish) Andrea Riseborough.  I’ll admit; I’m usually a sucker for a well-produced sci-fi film, and this was a well-produced sci-fi film.

That being said, I came away feeling that Cruise and Freeman turned in rather flat performances and failed to make it’s audience feel an emotional bond to their characters – which is CRUCIAL , particularly for Cruise’s character, Jack.  Freeman I can forgive, as his role was rather limited; but an actor of Tom Cruise’s stature shouldn’t be outperformed by a relative unkown in Riseborough, and yet she outshined him.

The story takes place about 60 years on a post-apocalyptic future Earth.  We’re led to believe that after an alien invasion and war, the human race had won but also to had flee Earth en masse because of nuclear radiation poisoning most of the world.  Apparently we had to nuke the “scavs” (the aliens) to chase ’em off.

So while almost all of Earth’s inhabitants have apparently relocated to Saturn’s moon, Titan, Cruise’s Jack Harper, paired with Riseborough’s Victoria, are the last humans on Earth, living on a futuristic home above the clouds on a platform, there to repair drones and pumps extracting the last of Earth’s resources for use elsewhere.  While they were assigned to work together, obviously a bond had developed between the two over the years they’d been assigned to do their job – which is to wind down, as the movie begins, in two weeks.

The problem is, Jack keeps having flashbacks that take him back to a time before the war – 50 or more YEARS before the war – and a woman’s face (Olga Kurylenko’s Julia)  – not Victoria’s – evokes emotions that he can’t figure out.  To top it off, on a mission to retrieve a lost drone, Jack stumbles upon humans living in a rather large enclave below ground – despite his being led to believe he and Victoria were the last humans on Earth.  That’s where we meet Morgan Freeman’s character, Beech.

That’s where I’m going to leave the synopsis, because there’s a few twists in the story that are worth you waiting for when you see this movie.

The bottom line?  ‘Oblivion’ is a great story on a well-designed canvas, but Cruise’s flat portrayal of Jack Harper doesn’t endear a viewer to riding the emotional highs and lows that would come with the story.  I’m gonna score ‘Oblivion’ with two and a half paws out of a possible four.  Not a “dawg” of a film, but not pure pedigree, either.

Denied: ‘Friends’ is NOT Coming Back To NBC

FriendsA website nobody’s heard of (StarMedia.us) whipped up many ‘Friends’ fans into a (in broken english, no less) “NBC network reportedly confirmed they will launch a new season of Friends on 2014, it was supposed to be about their story in a comeback reunion!”  OMG, right?

Not happening.  I mean, the same story mentions (later) that none of the six actors have even signed on to the project.  Can you imagine NBC re-launching the series without them?  Yeah, me either.  And good luck seeing it happen, anyhow; Courtney Cox, matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc currently HAVE shows they’re committed to, and Jennifer Aniston’s had a pretty productive movie career.  That leaves Lisa Kudrow and David Schwimmer, who HAVE to be behind this hoax, right?

If you’re looking for an OUNCE of hope?  NBC hasn’t commented on this one bit.  Which either means Star Media isn’t on their radar, or …

Smoking Is On The Rise … in Movies

SmokeImages of people smoking in youth-related movies are on the rise, according to a survey done by the anti-smoking group, Legacy.  The report says that, on average, there were 6.8 instances of smoking in youth-rated films in in 2010, a historic low point.  That average jumped to 13.5 in 2012.  That year, Regina M. Benjamin, MD, the U.S. Surgeon General, concluded that seeing people smoke in movies can influence young people to smoke.  According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, the number of smoking incidents per film in movies rated G, PG, or PG-13 in 2012 were up 54% from the year before.  The 2012 Surgeon General’s Report indicated that giving movies with tobacco images an R rating would cut down on youth smoking.  More from their report HERE>>

TV Bites: MTV cancels ‘Buckwhild’ while NBC sabotages ‘Smash?’

ShainTuesday afternoon, MTV announced it was cancelling it’s rural reality series, “Buckwild,” on the heels of Shain Gandee’s death on April 1st.  He was found in his vehicle, along with his uncle and a friend, while going “mudding” in West Virginia, dead from an apparent carbon monoxide poisoning after the Ford Ranger’s tailpipe becoming covered with mud when the vehicle slid into a ravine.  MTV was actually midway through filming the show’s second season, but opted to scrap their work after Gandee’s passing.

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Sources inside NBC’s halls say Alec Baldwin’s been in talks to join the network’s late-night lineup.  It’s been well-chronicled that the peacock execs want to move Jimmy Fallen into Jay Lenos’ “Tonight Show” lineup in 2014 onc, and with rumors surfacing that “Saturday Night Live’s” Seth Meyers being Fallon’s replacement, the focus has been on Carson Daly’s “Last Call.”

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Staying with NBC, “Smash” got moved to the ‘kiss of death’ slot: Saturday, 9pm, last week.  I finally got around to it on the DVR but couldn’t help but notice there were no clips from next week’s episode at the end of the show (as is normally the case).  I’m pretty certain this show is a ‘dead show walking,’ no matter what that absence means, but I at least hope they tie up loose ends in the show’s storylines before dropping the Broadway-based drama altogether.  I’m still not done being peeved with NBC for ending “The Event” at such a cliff-hanging finale.  The least they could’ve done was moved the show to their Syfy Channel and continued on; but NoOoOoOo…