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post #100171 of 100176 Old Today, 08:32 AM
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TV Notes
Syfy to air five hours of Leonard Nimoy programming on Sunday
By Will Robinson, EW.com - Feb. 27, 2014

In the wake of Leonard Nimoy’s death, stars like William Shatner, to Patrick Stewart, and Spock successor Zachary Quinto have come forward to remember the Star Trek legend. On Sunday, Syfy will pay their tribute to the genre titan with a five-hour programming block.

Starting at 9 a.m. and running until 2 p.m., the channel will feature Nimoy’s appearance in the original Twilight Zone, his two-episode arc on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the final original cast Star Trek film, Star Trek 6.

Nimoy died Friday at his home in Los Angeles of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 83.

http://www.ew.com/article/2015/02/27...ramming-sunday
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post #100172 of 100176 Old Today, 08:36 AM
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TV Review
‘Good Witch,’ not likely to cast a spell
The greater risk is that the Hallmark series will induce stupors
By Tom Conroy, Media Life Magazine

When a TV series is spun off from a previous TV movie, reviewers will often say that it helps to have seen the original movie.

Since we haven’t seen the series of Hallmark movies that preceded the channel’s new series “Good Witch,” we can’t judge whether that would have helped, but we hope so, because it’s hard to imagine that anyone could enjoy the two-hour premiere as is.

An endless succession of weakly dramatic or weakly comical moments, the show seems to be trying to reassure viewers that nothing tragic will happen to their favorite characters by making it increasingly clear that nothing interesting will happen to them.

In the premiere episode, airing this Saturday, Feb. 28, at 8 p.m., the small town of Middleton is preparing a ceremony in honor of its former police chief, Jake Russell, who died in the line of duty.

Meanwhile, his widow, the show’s title character, Cassie Nightingale (Catherine Bell), is gently butting heads with the town’s handsome new doctor, Sam Radford (James Denton), who just moved in next door.

Most of the townsfolk rely on the traditional herbal remedies that Cassie sells out of her shop, Bell, Book and Candle. Sam, a man of science, suspects that Cassie’s treatments may actually be harming her father-in-law, George (Peter MacNeil), who has been having dizzy spells.

Cassie’s defense of her methods are so vehement that one starts to suspect the show’s producers have bought stock in an herbal-supplements company.

Cassie’s daughter, Grace (Bailee Madison), takes an immediate disliking to Sam’s son, Nick (Rhys Matthew Bond), a rebel who wants to move back to New York City. Then for no reason, she stops disliking him long enough for him to get her in trouble with the vice-principal.

Cassie’s stepson, Brandon (Dan Jeannotte), shocks the family by deciding to follow his father into police work. Despite the family’s misgivings, the only tough situation he faces occurs when he arrests the town’s mayor, Martha Tinsdale (Catherine Disher), for speeding.

Brandon got married in the most recent movie in the franchise, “The Good Witch’s Wonder,” which aired in 2014, but his wife, Tara (Ashley Leggatt), is written out of the series–at least temporarily–in a clumsy early scene.

Cassie’s powers are just barely supernatural. She helps Sam open a lock, lights a candle magically and has moments of unusually insightful intuition or premonition. Catherine Bell maintains a self-satisfied smirk that implies that she’s one step ahead of everyone else.

When people come to her for help or advice, Cassie tends to speak in platitudes that Hallmark would hesitate to put on its cards. For example, she tells her stepdaughter Lori (Hannah Endicott-Douglas), “I think knowing how to share our gifts with the world is as important as recognizing what gifts we have to share.”

Perhaps because they don’t want to get viewers too excited, most of the actors underplay. Catherine Disher, as the mayor, is a jarring exception, but her scenes are intended to be funny.

Sam, who is divorced, would seem to be an ideal love interest for Cassie, in an opposites-attract sort of way. But if the show is going in that direction, it’s taking its time.

Cassie says she’s not ready for a relationship. In any case, she and Sam have so little chemistry that the producers may have decided they’ll need a full season to get any heat going.

Since Hallmark has aired seven “Good Witch” movies, there must be an audience for this kind of uneventful blandness. But people who are coming to the franchise for the first time are unlikely to fall under its spell.

http://www.medialifemagazine.com/goo...-cast-a-spell/
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post #100173 of 100176 Old Today, 08:40 AM
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TV Review
CBS' 'Battle Creek' no 'Breaking Bad 2: Electric Boogaloo,' but that's okay
Vince Gilligan created it, but 'House' boss David Shore is running it
By Alan Sepinwall, HitFix.com - Feb. 26, 2015

CBS' promos for its new cop drama "Battle Creek" (Sunday at 10 p.m.) present it as a team up between "Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan and "House" creator David Shore. This is only partially accurate.

Gilligan wrote the "Battle Creek" script over a decade ago, but CBS passed on it during that year's development cycle. Then he went off and gave the world Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, and suddenly "Battle Creek" — set in the eponymous Michigan city, involving a local cop and visiting FBI agent who awkwardly work together — became a much more desirable property. But with Gilligan busy doing "Better Call Saul," Shore is the man in charge of day-today operations at "Battle Creek."

This isn't a bad thing, necessarily. "House" at its best was a terrific mix of standalone mystery stories (albeit medical mysteries), humor and complex characterization — the kind of thing so many network procedurals claim they're trying to be, but that so few of them can actually pull off. His sensibility isn't Gilligan's, but he's one of the first people I would call if I were mounting a show like "Battle Creek."

You just have to recalibrate your expectations if you're expecting an actual Vince Gilligan-style show — even on the level of his "X-Files" episodes (or the short-lived "Lone Gunmen" spin-off — rather than the solid cop show with a good cast and a quirky sense of humor that "Battle Creek" actually is.

As cynical cop Russ Agnew and Ken doll federal agent Milt Chamberlain, Dean Winters and Josh Duhamel make a good odd couple duo. Winters has plenty of experience in both crime drama ("Oz," "Law & Order: SVU") and comedy (his recurring role on "30 Rock" as beeper king Dennis Duffy, or his work as Mayhem in a popular series of Allstate ads(*)), and as the Battle Creek native frustrated with his department's limited budget and equipment, he nicely sets the tone for both halves of the show. In the early going, Duhamel is mainly asked to be someone whose perfection Winters can react to, but he has solid light comedy chops, and later episodes(**) allow him to have fun with the way Milt takes advantage of other people's assumptions about him.

(*) How strange that Winters and J.K. Simmons had their first big breaks together on "Oz" and two decades later are both spokescharacters for insurance companies. And when will Geico build a campaign around Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje?

(**) In a rarity for network TV, CBS sent critics all 13 episodes of this season in advance. I didn't have time to watch the whole batch, but saw the first three and then two later ones that make good use of guest stars Patton Oswalt and Candice Bergen.

It's not really a laugh out loud kind of show, but it's clever, understands the strengths of its actors — even if it doesn't always have room to give supporting castmembers like Kal Penn, Janet McTeer and Damon Herriman (Dewey Crowe!) enough to do — and lets its mysteries feel twisty in a fun way, rather than one just meant to string the audience along through the final commercial break.

CBS' long run of success over the past 15 years was built on the backs of smart procedurals like "CSI" and "NCIS" (and on their many less entertaining spin-offs and imitators). When the network deviates too much from that formula — with a "Joan of Arcadia," a "Chaos" or a "Vegas" — the audience hasn't gone along with it. "Battle Creek" is more of a compromise (in the way that "The Good Wife" was to an extent when it started): formulaic in the major details, but idiosyncratic in the smaller ones. If you go in looking for another "Breaking Bad," you'll be sorely disappointed — even if the second episode contains several visual nods to the work of Heisenberg — but if you're looking for a snappy cop show, you should do okay.

http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-wat...but-thats-okay
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post #100174 of 100176 Old Today, 08:45 AM
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TV Review
In ‘Last Man,’ nothing to do, no one to do it with
By Matthew Gilbert, Boston Globe - Feb. 26, 2014

We’ve been obsessing over doomsday and post-apocalyptic life in pop culture, not least of all on TV, with titles such as “The Walking Dead,” “Falling Skies,” “The Strain,” “12 Monkeys,” and “The 100.” Also on the list: The nightly weather reports, which love to jigger up a snowmageddon even when it’s really only going to be a wee little flurry.

Perhaps we are rehearsing for catastrophe, doing psychological preparation, what with the actual threats of global warming, nuclear arms, ISIS anarchy, germ warfare, and the deadly urge to keep up with Kardashians. They’re all pretty serious shows; we don’t tend to imagine much humor in our lives after the end, unless you find decomposition and supply hoarding a laugh riot. That’s one reason to like the new Fox sitcom “The Last Man on Earth,” which premieres with two episodes on Sunday at 9 p.m.: It’s all about the apocalaughs.

And there are other reasons to like the show, which stars Will Forte from “Saturday Night Live” as the titular figure, Phil Miller, living alone in 2020 in a world decimated by a virus two years earlier. The series serves as a great playground for Forte, who gets his glorious freak on to show what being alone can do to a person. With mordant wit, the script has him dragging around world-famous oil paintings, the ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz,” and a few Oscars as he drives a bus in search of other living creatures. He wears Hugh Hefner’s pajamas — “I washed them,” he tells God — when he’s not in his underwear blowing up cars and other sundry items for kicks.

Forte is excellent in the role, with a natural ability to evoke both gonzo absurdity and pathos, which creeps in at a number of moments — during his bashful flirtation with a mannequin, for example. He’s like a little kid with a bottomless arsenal of toys, but then he is also profoundly lonesome. At one point, Phil talks to the TV screen while watching Tom Hanks talk to a volleyball in “Cast Away.” “Balls aren’t people, dude,” he says judgmentally. A few months later, though, he is bantering with a large ensemble of balls, including a golf ball named Anton. He also takes refuge from his sense of isolation by relaxing in a Margarita pool — yes, a kiddie pool filled with Margarita ingredients, with salt around the rim.

Midway through the premiere, life changes for Phil. This is a small spoiler, so stop here if you’re a purist: But the twist involves the fact that while Phil may be the last man on Earth, he’s not the last person on Earth. He stumbles across a woman named Carol, who, alas, is not exactly his dreamboat. Played by Kristen Schaal, Carol is a persnickety lady who insists that Phil use proper grammar and who wants him to stop at stop signs despite the absence of other cars. Phil has gone primitive, but Carol is holding onto civilized ways. They don’t make a very promising Adam and Eve.

I was impressed by “The Last Man on Earth, and hope it can continue to spin stories and character development out of its somewhat narrow premise. How will Forte and the writers keep the story moving forward in such a static landscape? Like the epic Jenga tower that Phil is constructing, the show is really quite impressive, but it could all fall down just a little too easily.

THE LAST MAN ON EARTH
Network: Fox
Show date: Sunday, 9 p.m


http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/tele...nCI/story.html
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post #100175 of 100176 Old Today, 08:52 AM
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TV Review
'Secrets and Lies': Child killing in ABC mystery series
By Diane Werts, Newsday - Feb. 26, 2015

THE SHOW "Secrets and Lies"

WHEN | WHERE Premieres Sunday 9-11 p.m. on ABC/7

WHAT IT'S ABOUT
One thing you have to give "Dexter" -- Showtime's serial killer saga set much of its brutality against Miami's tropical sunlight. It's the exception that proves the rule demonstrated once again in ABC's 10-episode "event" series "Secrets and Lies" -- dark woods, dreary rain, Christmas lights piercing suburban quietude in eerie irony, punctuating a shocking murder that couldn't happen here, but does.

Two faces make their mark immediately -- Ryan Phillippe's genially relaxed movie-star good looks, poster boy for cool suburban dad, versus Juliette Lewis' sharp features, as unyieldingly tight as that bun clamped to her police detective head. She thinks he did something to that 5-year-old neighbor boy whose body he claims to have found during a pre-dawn trail jog. And we know he's innocent. He has to be, right? "Secrets and Lies" tells the story through his eyes.

And it comes through quick on those title enigmas. Phillippe's Ben and wife Christy (KaDee Strickland) are fighting. He'd been out drinking too much the night before, with live-in buddy Dave (Dan Fogler), who's vague on the details. Ben seems a little too concerned about the dead boy's devastated mom (Natalie Martinez). He isn't coming completely clean with the wife, and maybe not the cops, either.

Then there's that shockeroo at the end of the first hour. With another whopper wrapping the two-hour debut.

MY SAY What should seem spellbinding feels more like The Same Old. Of course the neighbors turn against him, and of course his adoring younger daughter still loves him, and there's that moody music, crescendoing to commercial again. The subtext seems to be heading somewhere -- the unstated tensions of the marriage, the family, the neighborhood, the media, even the Internet "kid killer" posts -- and then leads no place in particular.

Which is essentially where Phillippe and Lewis exist. Though one of the camped-out TV trucks is marked for a Charlotte station, "Secrets and Lies" fails to create much sense of location, or character, or even jeopardy after two hours and oodles of interpersonal conflict. It feels observed, rather than lived in. Enacted, rather than unfolding.

BOTTOM LINE The whole thing needs to let its hair down.

GRADE: B-


http://www.newsday.com/entertainment...ries-1.9976241
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post #100176 of 100176 Old Today, 08:56 AM
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Critic's Notes/In Memoriam
Remembering Leonard Nimoy’s Mr. Spock, One of History’s Greatest TV Characters
By Matt Zoller Seitz, Vulture.com (New York Magazine) - Feb. 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy, who died today at 83, had a long, prodigious career as an actor, writer, and director. Despite all his other achievements, he will always be known as Mr. Spock, the half-human, half-Vulcan first officer of Star Trek's Enterprise, and that's what I want to focus on here, because the pointy-eared Starfleet officer was one of the great characters in TV history. He was killed off and then resuscitated, not just officially (in the second and third Star Trek films, then in J.J. Abrams reboots, where he appears as young Spock's grizzled future self) but symbolically, in the form of new Trek characters who at times seemed like prismatic shards of Spock, and who all grappled with feelings of otherness (Geordi La Forge, Worf, Data, Seven of Nine).

From fairly early in the show's run, Nimoy seemed to realize the symbolic power invested in Spock, and perhaps to mistrust or fear it. "The network, and a good many fans, would have been happy if the show had been called 'The Mr. Spock Hour,'" confessed Star Trek writer David Gerrold in his book The Trouble With Tribbles. As a professional who prided himself on his versatility, he resisted being identified too strongly with a single role — it's the main reason he went on to play Paris, the "master of disguise," on Mission: Impossible from 1969–71 — and it was a long time before he entirely made peace with the legacy he'd done so much to shape.

After Star Trek got canceled, then became a surprise syndication hit in the early '70s — spawning a cartoon, several more live-action series, and a hit film franchise — Nimoy published a philosophical rumination on his acting career titled I Am Not Spock; 20 years after that, he published a sequel, I Am Spock. The second title was partly meant to quell fans' concerns that the first book's title meant Nimoy resented them for adoring the character. But anyone who's read both books can testify that his attitude was always conflicted and complex, mingling skepticism, gratitude, and fascination. The proof can even be seen in the books' choice of cover art: They don't signal "either/or," but "both/and." The first carries a black-and-white photo of Nimoy performing the character's split-fingered Vulcan salute, hardly the clearest way to isolate himself from his character. But while the second book's title affirmed Nimoy's basic allegiance to Spock, the cover showed him in an actor's head shot pose, with a neatly trimmed beard and close-cropped hair and a tasteful dark sport coat: civilian garb, as it were. Either volume could have been titled I Am and Yet Am Not Spock.

This was no coy actor's pose, though. Trekkers who met the actor will tell you that while he could be prickly about the character early on, Nimoy was always respectful of their love for Spock, because he realized how much he'd meant to them, and to him, over the years — how they appreciated him and identified with him because of Nimoy's lovingly detailed, obviously personal performance, which in some small way helped illuminate whatever struggles they were going through. Nimoy's attitude toward Spock warmed over time, eventually becoming something close to an unabashed embrace. While I never had the chance to interview him at length, I did speak to him briefly at a Los Angeles screening about 15 years ago, and he didn't scowl or flinch or otherwise recoil from my fanboyish eagerness to discuss the character. I asked, "Do you ever feel that in some ways the character was as much a curse as a blessing?" He said simply, "All actors should be so cursed."

As a former editor of mine said, "Grief for one who lived so long would be illogical, yet my human emotions demand it." Nimoy's talent, intellect, and moral compass demand it, too. The character was created by Gene Roddenberry and defined by many Star Trek writers and directors, including story editor D.C. Fontana, but it was Nimoy who incarnated Spock and breathed life into him, and he deserves credit for bringing so much of himself to the role, and using it as a tool to explore his own identity, and helping viewers to consider their own.

Nimoy was born in 1931 in Boston to a barber father and a homemaker mother. Both were Yiddish-speaking Russian Jewish immigrants, and his religious and cultural heritage informed many of his choices from the late '60s onward. This aspect of Nimoy's significance has barely begun to be appreciated. It wasn't until the 1970s, the heyday of stars such as Elliott Gould, Barbra Streisand, and Dustin Hoffman, that Hollywood started routinely allowing Jewish actors to read as something other than generically Jewish or ethnically indeterminate. Nimoy's performance as Spock served as a subtle bridge between eras of invisibility and assimilation, and transparency and pride. (Nimoy's stage roles after Trek's initial run included stints as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof and the widowed Jewish refugee in Robert Shaw's The Man in the Glass Booth.)

This is a big part of the reason why the character or Spock — a "half-breed," per Dr. McCoy's slur, in some ways passing for human while staunchly insisting on his cultural Vulcan-ness — made such a powerful impact on viewers who felt, in one way or another, like outsiders. Counterculture-minded whites adored the character, naturally, and the show clumsily tried to capitalize on this in a silly third-season episode, "The Way to Eden," wherein Spock was basically adopted as a harp-strumming mascot by space hippies. One of the infinite number of ways to read the character was as a person who had to tamp down his undeniable individuality in order to function as part of an institution with hard rules and hallowed traditions.

But he also became immensely popular with African-American, Latino, and Asian viewers (including Bruce Lee, reportedly a huge fan of Spock); all of whom had more than theoretical experience with trying to be — to paraphrase Groucho Marx — part of a club that wouldn't have somebody like them as members. The sense of belonging yet not belonging, to both the dominant culture and one's own, was especially acute among mixed-race viewers, and Spock struck a powerfully resonant chord with them. In More Than Black: Multiracial Identity and the New World Order, G. Reginald Daniel writes of his trepidation at contemplating his own mixed-race heritage while reading an Ebony article about "mulattoes … Like Mr. Spock on Star Trek! Like twilight, that zone between day and night that we all pass through at dusk and dawn."

Nimoy and Spock inspired many such "Eureka!" moments; this made him, in a strange but vivid way, as much of a "minority" character in the original cast as George Takei's Japanese-American Lt. Hikaru Sulu, or Nichelle Nichols's Swahili-named Uhura, a character so symbolically important that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King talked the actress into staying on the show when he learned that she was thinking of quitting. The show's affinity for Shakespearean flourishes is well-documented, but in in a sense, Spock himself might be the most Bard-like character of them all: He's a green-blooded Othello who has to be twice as good as the full-blooded human officers to earn their respect, and who must tamp down his natural passions despite constant racist needling and doubts about his loyalty. Part of this stemmed from his uncomfortably "devilish" appearance, which flirted with anti-Semitic stereotypes as well as intimations of some dark-skinned Other. The character was originally slathered in red makeup, which read as dark grey when the show was viewed on black-and-white sets. The book Star Trek FAQ says the makeup was discarded because Spock "came out looking like an African-American satyr."

In the 2005 book Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish, Nimoy talked about being typecast because of his decidedly non-Waspy looks. "“Guys like me were playing all the ethnic roles, usually the heavies — the bad Mexicans, the bad Italians. And those were the jobs that I took and was happy to get for a long time. I played Indians in Westerns many times. The first Indian role that I took was a role that a Native Indian turned down because the Indian character was so unredeemably bad. I was happy to get the work, thank you very much.” Nimoy created the Vulcan greeting — a forked hand with upraised fingers — based on his memory of "seeing the rabbis do it when they said the priestly blessing." Throughout the run of the original series, you can see Nimoy, Roddenberry, and the writing staff integrating more and more culturally specific touches; the apotheosis might be Spock's resuscitation at the end of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, which takes place amid slender, jagged What's Opera, Doc? mountain spires but features Dame Judith Anderson delivering fiery rabbinical incantations; the cognitive dissonance here is spectacular and delightful, as if Wagner had momentarily been claimed for the chosen people.

Trek and Nimoy built Spock, the Vulcans, and their entire history out of bits and pieces of lived experience, which is why their world continues to exert such powerful fascination. And on a more basic level, there's Spock's struggle to be that which he's not necessarily inclined to be: cool, rational, divorced from feeling. His mother is human, his father Vulcan; he is neither and both, a warrior who always reaches first for the peaceful solution, and who is in some way doomed, like The Searchers' Ethan Edwards, never to entirely belong to the civilization he's sworn to protect.

Six years ago, on the eve of the release of the first Star Trek reboot, I did a video (embedded below) that tried to get at Spock's eternal inside/outside status. I ended it with Nimoy, in one of his many rough but touchingly sincere musical performances, singing "Where Is Love," from Oliver! It's so easy to laugh at recordings like this one — like so many stars, Nimoy couldn't resist an ill-advised attempt to conquer one more art form — but if you think of Mr. Spock, the space hero whose coiled passions were rarely signified by anything other than a raised eyebrow, it's strangely moving. Where is love? Spock never really found it anywhere but on the deck of the Enterprise: in the job where he could be fully actualized, fully himself. The final frontier is contentment.

http://blip.tv/the-l-magazine/vulcan...-spock-2088135

http://www.vulture.com/2015/02/remem...-mr-spock.html
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