Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dream Emmy Ballot: Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

My favorite television blogger (well one of them), Michael Ausiello always helps put together his dream Emmy ballot.  I am going to share my dream Emmy nominees in most of the major categories with you day by day.  I am going to start today, but I am also going to forewarn you I am going on vacation tomorrow so I will releasing my list of nominees and why once or twice a week.

Anna Gunn as Skylar White-Breaking Bad-One of the reasons this show has improved is that the show finally engaged the audience on all levels with not only Walter and Jesse but with Skylar too.  Gunn's Skylar moved beyond being the judgmental wife to the woman behind the scenes.  I have grown to love and fear her character in a brilliant way thanks to Gunn's performance.

Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris in Mad Men-Hendricks is a bombshell, but she also is one of the best actresses working on television.  Watching Joan fight for her marriage even though her husband had raped her.  Watching her confront her husband was brilliant.  Watching Joan give her body for the firm the firm was painful, but brilliantly acted.  I am always blown away by her.
Lena Heady as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones-You want to hate her yet you can't take your eyes off her.  Cersei's sparring with Tyrion has moved to utter brilliance; she was no better than when she was meant to be the beacon of strength as Stannis Baretheon lays siege to her kingdom, and she talks about her duties, and love.  This woman has grown by leaps and bounds.
Kelly McDonald as Margaret Schroeder in Boardwalk Empire-McDonald started the series on the road to a quiet life of unhappiness with a drunk husband.  In season two her relationship Nucky as a strong more vocally active woman has shown that McDonald is a force to be reckoned with, and she commands the screen on this male dominated series.

Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma in The Good Wife-Something great about this character is that even throughout three seasons we knew nothing complex about Kalinda, until the end.  Kalinda has realized her husband knows where she was, and the terror in her eyes showed us a whole new side to this complex character.
Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey-This sharp tongued older woman was and is still the best character on this show. Smith is a great actress, and has made this woman more than a one dimensional character; she has developed so much, and her witty one liners make her one of the most developed characters on the show.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

June Movies to See and Skip!

May was a bit of a bust, The Avengers is on track to beating The Dark Knight, and maybe even Titanic at the box office.  The perk was that it is a great film.  I wisely skipped Dark Shadows, Battleship, and a bunch of the other bland films.  Men in Black III was shockingly better than the preview made it appear to be, and I was glad to see Will Smith back in movies; he really is a great modern day star I enjoy watching.

June looks the be the most promising summer month.  There appears to be a great film opening every weekend, which makes incredibly happy.  Here is a week by week analysis with June's great prospects, and some of the future Razzie nominees, Adam Sandler will be back again.

June 1st 
Snow White and the Huntsman

With two movies about Snow White this year and the television series Once Upon a Time centering on the fairytale princess Snow White; she is seeing a lot of play this year.  I have to say the television show did not do it for me, and Mirror Mirror with Julia Roberts looked bland, but this version looks dark/fun.  I am not excited about Kristen Stewart as the the title character, but Charlize Theron as the wicked queen is enough to get me into the theatre. See it!

June 8th 
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted

I am beyond excited for Prometheus, this is the film I am most excited about this month (and there is a movie about male strippers).  The Prometheus trailer is one of the best for the year so far, it really builds a thrilling experience that makes the viewer want to see the film.  I am always baffled how these animated features make it to a third or fourth film.  The massive campaign in theatres is brilliant, and looks charming but the preview proves otherwise.

June 15th 
Rock of Ages
That's My Boy

I had no desire to see Rock of Ages on the broadway stage, but there is something about the preview and the cast that makes me excited about this film.  I have been singing 80s rock this past week.  Adam Sandler has made another crap film, and That's my Boy proves this "star" is on auto pilot; he will continue to isolate his audience and push people away.

June 22nd
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
To Rome with Love

Pixar has finally centered one of their films on a strong female character (it's about time), I am intrigued to see this film, and Pixar can usually do no wrong, but Cars and Cars 2 prove they have their duds.  Is this a dud?  The trailer reminds me more of Disney film than a Pixar film.  Another vampire film?  This one looks just plain bad, that's my simple analysis.  Woody Allen was on fire with Paris last summer, and Rome looks to be a fun adventure as well.  The Woodman is on fire (hopefully).

June 29th 
Magic Mike
Beasts of the Southern Wild 
Take this Waltz

What a week!  So much variety.  Magic Mike looks terrible, but a movie about male strippers, I hate to say it but i have to see it.  Seth McFarlene finally makes it to the big screen, and his first venture has Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis and McFarlene voicing a dark teddy bear, I am there.  Beasts of the Souther Wild is a Cannes favorite that looks beautiful.  Seth Rogen and the lovely Michelle Williams battle with a struggling relationship in this film.

See it: Snow White in the Huntsman, Prometheus, Rock of Ages, Brave, To Rome with Love, Ted, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Skip it: Madagascar 3, That's My Boy, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Tribute to Great Films: Alien and Aliens

The past few months I have paid tribute to three different television shows, Murder She Wrote, Friday Night Lights, and The Golden Girls.  Each tribute coincided with my re-watching each series. This month I have decided to pay tribute to two spectacular sci-fi/thriller films Alien and Aliens.  

My friend Eric got the idea when we went to see Men in Black III on friday and saw the trailer for Prometheus.  When many fans had heard about Prometheus their minds jumped to the conclusion that it was a prequel.  Ridley Scott who directed the first film and is directing Prometheus has stated openly that Prometheus "carries the DNA of Alien" and "Prometheus is an original piece of science fiction" about "biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and the origins of the destruction of man." Sounds epic.

Scott started the ball rolling within the quadrangle of Aliens films.  The brilliant thing about the all of the films (but in this case the first two films)  is that while they center around the same story the stylistic undertone of the direction changes the feel for each film.  The original film Alien was released in 1979, and was also re-released in 2003 with material that was found and not part of the original film.  I saw this film for the first time in theatres during the re-release.  No film had scared me as much as this film did in the theatre.  Sitting in the pitch black multiplex at 10 pm at night with a small crowd, the experience was worth it, and why I love going to the movies. I refused to scream out in terror.  Yet as the films tagline reads "No one can hear you scream in space."

As the mining ship Nostromo touches down on unknown planet for a distress call the terror builds and the audience is catapulted into following this crew as alien life form board their ship.  As the films intensity builds Jerry Goldsmith's score carries the suspense to a whole new level.  The music combined with Roger Christian and Leslie Dilley's art stark art direction, and Ridley's Scott's well paced directions creates this beautifully ominous tone.  There is no doubt that Scott's direction is brilliant, but he also assembled an impressive cast.

The cast of the film is impressive but the film, and this series centered around the new comer Sigourney Weaver.  Weaver's Ripley is an embodiment of something different; she is a feminist icon action hero who kicks ass instead of playing the victim.  Like Jaime Lee Curtis who was dubbed the scream queen, Sigourney Weaver is the queen of sci-fi films. While Ripley is a bit quieter in the first film, mainly because the films pacing is a bit more like an old school thriller where the pacing is a build up.  The sequel to Alien, entitled Aliens jumps right into the action.

After I had finished the first film I knew I had to rent the sequel (blockbuster still existed).  Aliens (1986) is a different film from the original, mainly because it was directed by James Cameron instead of Ridley Scott.  Cameron was a huge fan of the original and pitched the concept of doing a sequel to 20th Century FOX.  While Cameron was contemplating the tone for this film he was also working on The Terminator (1984).  The sequel was released so much later for two reasons, the first was that 20th Century FOX did not believe in a low budget film warranting a sequel (that has changed these days) and Cameron needed to prove himself, The Terminator was his staging ground.  The Terminator was a monster hit, and well reviewed, and Cameron's new script impressed 20th Century FOX and thus Aliens was born.

Cameron's script for Aliens had a much different tone.  The first film lead me on this terrifying journey, and was an all out thriller, while Cameron made the sequel more of an action film.  Ripley is brought back with a militaristic squad to the planet where Nostromo landed.  The team became a rogue squad battling and fighting for their lives against more than just one alien this time. There was incredible anticipation for this film because the original was so liked and the Ripley character was an incredible female character. Cameron knows how to blend the concept of the original with his own version of the story; he seamlessly blends the plot from the first film with his own while making this an incredibly great film.

Many people cite this as a sequel better than the original, but to me that's a Sophie's choice.  While two films are about the same character, and are part of a series the direction by these two master craftsmen makes them hard to compare.  Each film fits within a different genre.  The first film is an old school thriller, and while the second film has those elements Cameron makes his sequel more action packed, which works too.  Aliens was nominated for 7 Academy Awards including Best Actress, I think the first film deserved just as many accolades.  Both of these films are incredible pieces of work. and have only built up my excitement for Ridley Scott to come back to this world.

The slight edge may go to Aliens and the scene below "Get Away from her you bitch."

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Men in Black 3 Entertains While Getting Back to the Roots

Men in Black III (3 out of 5 Stars)
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black, RV, Wild Wild West)
Written by Etan Cohen (Tropic Thunder)
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, and Emma Thompson

The first Men in Black film was a terrific film about a secret agency that monitors extra terrestrial life on Earth.  The film brought together two opposites Agent Jay played by Will Smith and Agent Kay played by Tommy Lee Jones.  Jones nailed the crotchety older male role, while Smith did a great job as the hot shot agent.  The film received great reviews and became a beloved comedy.  The film also made a lot of money, so the studios made a sequel.  The sequel was poorly constructed and Men in Black II was a massive failure.  With the quality of the second film plummeting, who would have thought the third film could rebound, but it rebounded enough to save this series.

The film starts with a monster referred to as Boris the Animal escaping from a moon base jail.  With his arm missing he threatens to right the wrong of his missing arm and the agent who did this in 1969, Agent Kay.   The film then shows Jay and Kay preparing for the agencies leader Zed's funeral.  As Kay gives the eulogy for Zed its cold nature makes Jay assess the fourteen year partnership he has had with Kay.  With Zed dying O  played by the hilariously brilliant Emma Thompson tells Jay there are things that made Kay who he is today.  Boris the Animal launches the duo into a troubling situation where Jay has to travel back in time and work with a young Kay played by a very talented Josh Brolin.

The film is directed by Barry Sonnenfeld; he directed both the original and the second film, and a wide variety of other projects.  Sonnenfeld's best work includes the first film, and the terrific television series Pushing Daisies; he has also directed some real clunkers like Men in Black II, Wild Wild West, and RV.  Looking at his resume has a real yo-yo effect on my mind.  Combined with quality scripts this man appears to be able to construct entertaining fare.  This sounds simple, but in Hollywood nothing is simple. Etan Cohen who wrote Tropic Thunder should take most of the credit.  the script brought the film back the basics, and focused on the great relationship between Jones and Smith.

The dynamic duo of Jones and Smith are the best selling point to this film, they really know how to play well off one another.  This is one of the best on film pairings in film history for me.  They are the stereotypical odd couple, but they make it work so well.  Throw Josh Brolin in the mix as a young Kay, and he adds even more entertainment.  Together all of these things man an entertaining film that brings this franchise back to its roots.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Daytime Emmy Award Analysis (Outstanding Lead Actor)

I was chosen by one of my favorite website to view the tapes for two categories for the Daytime Emmy Awards.  I watched the episodes for Outstanding Lead Actor first.  Listed below is a summary of the actor's tape, and my own opinion of the performance.

Maurice Bernard as Sonny Corinthos on General Hospital 

Airdate: July 21, 2011; Runtime: 13:05


Brenda interrupts a conversation that Sonny is having with Carly because she needs to talk to him.  Brenda is planning to leave Sonny after learning about something he did to Jax to help Carly get custody of their daughter Josslyn back from him.  Sonny doesn’t want Brenda to leave, and asks if she would stay with him if he agreed to move away from Port Charles with her, to live in a nice house in California and hand over his dangerous business to Jason and commute to Port Charles to see his kids.  Brenda says that would be perfect, but Sonny says it would be a lie.  He says Brenda loves a version of him that she invented, that she’s never accepted that the ruthless and dangerous man she is seeing now is the same man he’s always been.  He says that his power is more important to him than anything, and he couldn’t give it up.  Since Sonny can’t change, the two share a sorrowful farewell.  Carly returns, and seeing Sonny drinking alone on the balcony, tries to comfort him, to cheer him up.  Carly can’t understand how Brenda can have known Sonny for so long and not get him, but Sonny defends Brenda, saying that she changed when she found her son.  He says he can’t guarantee the safety of Brenda’s son Alec, so she did what she had to do.  Later, he gets a call informing him that Brenda and Alec have left with Jax, and mobilizes his plane to leave also.

Analysis: I am not a huge fan of the Sonny character, this is a big reason why I never watch this show. I was pleasantly surprised by the storyline, and the way Bernard was able to have so much control, and to create beautifully subtle performance within this scene.  The scene is beautiful because Sonny plays off the two the women who are "the loves of his life" Brenda and Carly.  Bernard does a great job in a sense giving up his "power" by allowing himself to be more vulnerable than I have ever seen the character become.  Usually when I watch Bernard uses shouting to convey the most dramatic moments, but his subtlety shines through and proves to give on of the best performances has ever had.  I like this tape because the scenes feel cohesive short and emotionally to the point.  If size matters, voters could lose the emotional context, but that was another strength, you get pulled into the emotion right away.

Anthony Geary and Luke Spencer on General Hospital

Airdate: June 13, 2011; Runtime: 17:56


Lucky finds Luke with a pretty young woman and asks to speak to his father alone.  Lucky apologizes for how he handled finding out that Luke was the driver who hit and killed his son Jake, and for how aggressive his efforts to force Luke to get treatment for being an alcoholic were.  Lucky tells Luke that he should come home, for the sake of his kids and his wife Tracy.  Luke counters that he was a lousy father and husband, and those people who love him want him to be a version of himself that doesn’t exist.  Luke tells Lucky that Lucky doesn’t even know who he is, and he has no intention of going back to try to fit into Lucky’s mold.  Luke says that he never wanted to be a father or a husband, that he grew up learning to be practical and really all he ever wanted was the freedom to drink and lie and cheat, and have sex with the prettiest woman he could afford.  Luke says that he’s sorry that he killed Jake, but that the silver lining was that he felt liberated, having become so irredeemable that he no longer felt the pressure to try to live up to anyone else’s expectations.  Lucky leaves, and when the woman returns, Luke tells her that he’d put his son in an impossible position by killing Jake, for Lucky to have to love, to forgive, the person who’d taken his son away.  Luke says he freed Lucky from that by making sure Lucky would hate him as much as he would always love Lucky.


The scene builds to a slow start with Lucky doing most of the talking, and I was worried that Geary was going to be out acted, this is not the case.  Tony Geary is probably one of, if not, the strongest male actor in the genre of daytime drama; he knows how to deliver a scene, and does not fail here.  Geary unleashes this self loathing tirade, and boom, he becomes angry, heartbreaking, and easy to hate within the same breath.  Geary has won 6 Emmy Awards and been nominated for 15, for playing this character.  I think this is a great performance, and based on the wide array of emotions he leaves you feeling I can see him taking home his 7th trophy.  my only reason he may lose is you walk away disliking the character more than you like him; he killed his grandson while driving drunk.  I think voters will get past this, but I had a hard time sometimes thinking about this fact.  Great performance.

John McCook  as Eric Forrester on The Bold and the Beautiful

Airdates: October 13 and 14, 2011; Runtime: 14:31


Eric has set up a romantic surprise to celebrate the news that Stephanie’s latest test results show no tumors, indicating that she’s getting better.  Stephanie goes along with the dinner Eric has prepared, even though she is reluctant to celebrate or believe that she is really cancer-free.  Eric gives Stephanie a gift, a piece from the “Intimates” collection that he’s designed.  Stephanie has no interest in wearing this sexy ensemble, which segues into a discussion of their relationship, and the role that sex and intimacy play in their lives.  Eric wonders if Stephanie is somehow repulsed by him, as his very presence seems to make her feel more sick than she is when isn’t around, and feels she uses her sickness as an excuse not to be intimate with him.  Stephanie admits that, yes, she does sometimes use her charity work, meddling, etc., as an excuse to keep him at arm’s length, physically.  Stephanie says that Eric’s desire for sex has ruined their relationship in the past, like when he married Donna and Brooke.  Eric admits that things haven’t always been great for them, but he stands firm that he won’t apologize for being a sexual person and shouldn’t have to feel badly about wanting to be intimate with her.  Stephanie says that he deserves to have his desires and needs understood, but so does she.  Eric says that just means that she gets what she wants, and he doesn’t.

Analysis: Talk about a build up this tape started even slower than Geary's.  For most of the beginning I did not know where the story was going.  McCook and on screen partner Susan Flannery were talking about her recovery.  As the scene progressed Eric (McCook) fights to understand why his wife is being distant.  While McCook ends up giving a solid performance the disjointed tape and slow build up prevent you from fully investing in that build up.

Darnell Williams as Jesse Hubbard on All My Children

Airdate: March 30, 2011; Runtime: 12:01


Jesse tries to calm a very pregnant Angie, who is experiencing contractions and pains.  Angie is convinced that the baby is coming, and they won’t have time to get to the hospital, so Jesse will have to deliver it.  Jesse calls for an ambulance, but it doesn’t seem one will arrive in time.  Jesse pulls double duty keeping Angie calm and preparing as best he can for a home delivery.  Angie passes out during birth, but Jesse successfully coaxes the baby from the birth canal.  He is struck with horror when he realizes that their littlie Ellie, as they’ve decided to name her, is not breathing.  He tries desperately to revive Ellie, to no avail, as Brot arrives to help.  Brot tends to Angie, but there’s nothing to be done for Ellie.  Jesse begins to accept this awful truth when he hears a baby’s cry coming from a box that Brot brought in, which had been left in his squad car, and Angie begins to regain consciousness.

Analysis: Williams is great, as Angie is going to labor he rushes into concerned father mode.  Williams hits all of the right notes as he is trying to balance being the cool and calm for his wife, but not freaking out as she starts to go into labor.  After Angie gives birth she loses conscientiousness, and Jesse is left with his baby girl dead in his arms.  Jesse rages rocking the girl back and forth in his arms saying "We always loved you."  As he hears a baby crying in the room Jesse cradles his dead baby close to him once again rocking back and forth grief stricken by the thought he will have to tell his wife they lose their child.  I thought Williams was superb and there is a genuine sadness at the end of this clip; he makes you feel everything you are supposed to, and while it may be a bit showy, I think it works.

Robert S. Woods as Bo Buchanan on One Life to Live 

Airdate: June 14, 2011; Runtime: 6:26


Bo talks to Viki as he struggles to decide the best course of action regarding his comatose son and his ailing brother.  Matthew’s doctors are not optimistic about him ever waking up from his coma, and his heart is a match for Clint, who is in desperate need of a transplant.  Both Viki and Bo are still shocked by the terrible things Clint has done, but neither of them wants to lose him.  Bo doesn’t want to give up on Matthew, but can’t help feeling that if Matthew never recovers, he’s basically killed his brother.  Nora arrives and says that Matthew is looking better.  She says she confronted Clint about the situation, and he said he’d sooner die than have Matthew’s heart.  Nora says they’ll take him at his word, and Bo needn’t worry about it anymore.

Analysis: I miss Bo Buchanan.  Woods is so natural, and plays this character wonderfully.  Bo has to struggle with the grief of giving his son's heart to his ailing brother.  When Bo says "How do you let your child go" his eyes say it all, and you can see the strength in this performance.  The problem with this reel is that its incredibly short and choppy, which never lets Woods shine as much he could within this situation.

Personal Ranking/Predictions
1-Anthony Geary 
2-Darnel Williams
3-Maurice Bernard
4-John McCook
5-Robert S. Woods

I think this award follow my own personal rankings, as much as I would like to see someone new win, based on the material Geary deserves to win.  Williams and Bernard are neck and neck behind him, and they both have a great shot of taking home the trophy as well.  I think the race is only between these three I would be shocked if anyone else won.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Season (Series) Finales the Best and the Worst (Spoilers Inside)

Worst Reality Show FinaleThe Voice/American Idol (tie)-I only regularly watched The Voice, I never watched Idol, but all both shows have a hit a point where once the competition begins the excitement is lost.  As The Voice was narrowed down to fewer and fewer contestants the I got more and more bored because the show seems to focus more on the judges bickering.  Idol picked another white boy who plays a guitar?  Will this show realize there is a problem?  Jennifer Lopez is selfish and wants more money for doing nothing.  The problem with these shows and the reason they are bad is that the judges/hosts takeover. Time to go away, or re-tool, in a major way.

Best Series Finale

Desperate Housewives- I am only going to count the second part of the two hour episode (couldn't they have just split them into two different weeks?)  The show was fun, and ended perfectly, the same way it began, with friendship, poker, and mysteries of the suburbs.  There were a lot of great scenes referencing the first season/episode, and the last scene with Susan driving past the dead residents of Wisteria Lane, was haunting yet touching.

Biggest Letdown 

How I Met Your Mother-I love this show, but I am tired of the run around.  The show runners need to get their act together and just take a direct path to meeting the mother, which is the so called point of this show.  I get that they like to focus on Barney, because he became so popular, but honestly the ending left me unsatisfied. Throughout the whole episode I became comfortable in the fact that Barney was going to pick Quinn even though I figured it would be Robin.  I was happy Barney had moved on and of course the pull the old switcheroo.  This show needs to move forward I feel like I have been stuck seeing the same thing.

Best Musical Show Finale

Smash-The show got back to the roots.  The first few episodes of this show were good because they were about the production, the middle got bogged down in drama in everyone's personal, but the last few episodes did a boomerang to make the last episode the best of the season.  Smash had energy, and made things come together for the test run in Boston.

Worst Season Finale (Comedy)

30 Rock-This show has lost its spunk.  I am glad season seven is the last because this season has devolved into something I hoped it would not, something less funny.  Jack's story with Avery was awful, the live episodes was solid enough, but could not save the season.  I love you 30 Rock but this was your worst season, and the finale did not help.  This was the worst for me because the show proved that even their writing could not save their bad story lines (I love you Tina).
Worst Season Finale  (Drama)
Grey's Anatomy-The finale made me want to re-watch all of the seasons and catch up (but only because I missed Bailey and Christina).  The death of Lexie Grey was so quick and sudden I barely had time to process.  At the half  way point I said "Was that real? Did that happen?  Did she die that quick without any payoff?"  While I applaud Rhimes for making her death more realistic, in a television drama you can take some liberties; she was a major character in the shows history and I feel like her death was handled poorly.

Meant to Be

Best Season Finale (Comedy)

Parks and Recreation-The buildup for Leslie Knope's city council campaign was done incredibly well, and in the end she lost, but then won with a recount.  The episode was the perfect combination of humor and touching moments.  The characters have continued to develop and find their place, like Andy potentially being a cop.  I think this show has great character, and ended perfectly.

Best Season Finale (Drama and Of the Season)

Revenge-This is how you end a season!! This show slowed down a little in the middle and after the hiatus, but ran on full cylinders in the finale. Emily  and Daniel are done, look for her former best friend Ashley to knock boots with Daniel next season! Emily kicked some ass with the WHM, and thankfully saved Nolan.  Fake Amanda is pregnant with Jack's baby (I don't think its real or it's not Jack's baby).  Then to top it all off Queen Grayson (Victoria) and her friend Lydia get on a plane, and the plane explodes, was Victoria on the plane?  Charlotte sees the news takes too many pills and her father comes in to try and save her.  Then to top it all off Nolan shows Em a video and says her mother is alive...boom ends.  Jam packed action and suspense, way to go!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Best Title Sequences (TV Drama)

Last watching watching two shows made me think about just how brilliant and key a good title sequence can be to a television show, from the music to the imagery title sequences add something to the television show experience.  Last night watching Game of Thrones title sequence had me excited for what was to come.  The show's title sequence "changes" every week, the changes show you new places, or just places where the show is going to take place in tonight's episode, brilliant!  Then there is Mad Men's falling executive, and the brilliant score.  Together these are two of the most recent title sequences to grace television, and they are also two of the best of all time.

Most of the shows on my list are more recent television series.  Television dramas have evolved throughout the years, they are smarter, and sometimes (most recently) better than the films being released.  As the quality of television drama has evolved so has the title sequence for shows. The oldest show on my list is The X-Files, and the most recent is American Horror Story from 2012.  These title sequences feel a part of the show, the build up the intensity or are not to be missed.  These title sequences have become sleeker, prettier, and made the viewer remember just score without lyrics (for the most part) this is a rare challenge.  Here is a list of the best title sequences (in alphabetical order).

American Horror Story 



Game of Thrones

Mad Men

Six Feet Under 

The Sopranos 

True Blood 

The X-Files

The Wire 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is Entertaining, but at the end Feels like you Checked out too Late

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (3 out of 5 Stars)
Directed by John Madden (Shakespeare in Love, Proof, The Debt)
Written by Ol Parker (Imagine Me & You
Starring : Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Dev Patel, and Maggie Smith

Imagine a place in beautiful India where the elderly can go to find peace and relaxation for the remainder of their lives.  The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is far from the luxury in its advertisement.  The story centers on a group of elderly individuals who is looking to escape/leave behind some of the baggage they have unintentionally accumulated at the end of their lives.  

Evelyn's (Dench) husband kept secrets about their financial status leaving her strapped. Doug Ainslee (Nighy) and his wife Jean Ainslee (Penelope Wilton) have invested poorly in their daughters internet company.  Madge (Celia Imrie) has grown tired of living off her children and wants another rich husband.  Graham (Wilkinson) lived in India many years ago and has returned to find a long lost love and the passion India brought to his life.  Norman (Roman Pickup) wants youthful passion.  Murial (Smith) needs a hip replacement, and India provides her with the quickest opportunity to get the surgery.  Together this group along with the hotels manager Sonny (Patel) come together and find peace as they find their place in this foreign country at their age.

John Madden directs this all star cast, and creates a beautifully shot film full of great imagery, which helps speak the films central story.  The story is more about exploring the unknown elements of this foreign environment, and how stepping outside of your comfort zone forces a person to grow and develop at any age.  Parker's script aides in this process and creates some beautifully heartfelt stories, with some witty humorous moments.  The script also creates some problems for the film by focusing on too many characters and stories, which sometimes appears daunting for Parker to tackle.  With too many characters the film sometimes loses focus and over extends your presence as a guest into this dilapidated hotel. 

Even though the script is a bit long, the performances of a few actors bring back the heart and character of this story.  The standouts were Dench, Wilkinson, and Smith.  Dench is the narrator of the groups evolution and journey; she finds her place realizing she tackle working, loving, and finding the core of what it means to grow, and find ones self for the first time in her life.  Wilkinson acting is almost effortless,but he always challenges himself to get to the depth of a character.  As Graham Wilkinson battles his own fears and trepidation by returning to a country and a former lover whom he feels he has wronged, but on this journey he finally comes to peace with himself.  Yet within most films Maggie Smith is the scene-stealer; she is funny, touching, and shows so much depth in a woman who fears change the most.

The film is is entertaining, but at the end feels like you checked out too late, and Madden and Parker drown the message with sap.  The film feels prolonged and even though there are several enjoyable performances, and we get to see the beauty of India, the story suffers from a lack of focus. 

In Memoriam: Donna Summer

2012 has been a difficult year for many divas.  Earlier in the the the extraordinary female vocalist Etta James passed away, and then Whitney Houston.  Today the music community faced another great loss when the "Queen of Disco" Donna Summer passed away from cancer at the age of 63.  Summer was born in Dorchester, MA; she was raised with an incredibly conservative background, and struggled throughout her career to find the balance between her music and her religious upbringing.

Summer found the balance well using her mezzo-soprano vocal range to become one of the most successful female vocalists of her time.  Summer was given the title of "Queen of Disco" because in a way she elevated the genre of music to be more than it was, with an infusion of dance, funk, and R&B.  Summer's was an incredibly accomplished vocalist; she had 17 Grammy nominations, including one nomination for Album of the Year (the album was entitled "Bad Girls") in 1980.  Summer won five Grammy awards throughout her entire career.  This woman's vocal range was awe inspiring, and her voice will be missed; she was a living legend!

Here are some of Summer's best and most famous tracks:

"Last Dance" -This was the track that made her the most famous, and catapulted her career.

"Bad Girls" This was one of the tracks that was difficult for her to reconcile with her upbringing, but in the end she sang with grace and poise.

"She Works Hard for the Money" This is one of the earliest music videos, and has since become a classic for the iconic "working girl"

"Hot Stuff"-Another fun disco beat that made Summer a legend!

"I will go with you (Con te Partiro)- Original from Andrea Boccelli this dance remix brought  Donna Summer  fans on the dance floor in 2000

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

CBS Fall Schedule 2012-2013

CBS held pretty steady and had a few tweaks, but they also created a monster, a monster block.  CBS moved Two and a Half Men to Thursday after The Big Bang Theory.  Watch out Thursday night at 8 pm CBS is unstoppable!  2 Broke Girls received the coveted 9 pm slot on Monday.  The Mentalist was moved to Sunday at 10 pm, showing a weakening support for this show, which may be on its way out in a year.  CSI is now on Wednesday nights at 10 pm.  In announcing its Fall schedule CBS has cancelled the comedy Rob, while unlike any other network they left one show still on the bubble, Rules of Engagement (I do not know anyone who watches this show.)

CBS has added four new series to the mix of their weekly line-up, and here they are:

Partners which comes from the brilliant minds of Max Mutchnik and David Kohan, the creators of Will & Grace.  Partners centers on two best friends who own an architecture firm, of them gay the other straight although their friend seems more like a marriage. Starring Michael Urie (Ugly Betty), David Krumholtz (Numbers), Sophia Bush (One Tree Hill) Brandon Routh (Superman Returns).

Vegas is set in the 1960s and centers around the ling time rodeo cowboy and noted sheriff of La Vegas Ralph Lamb. Starring Dennis Quaid (The Rookie), Michael Chiklis (The Shield), Carrie Ann Moss (Chuck).

Elementary, should have been replaced with the BBC television series Sherlock, but this show is a modern take on Sherlock Holmes set in NYC, with a female Watson. Starring Johnny Lee Miller (Eli Stone) Lucy Lui (Ally McBeal), Aidan Quinn (Prime Suspect).

Made in Jersey is a David vs. Goliath law show about a woman who uses her street smarts to take on a big time Manhattan law firm.  Starring Janet Montgomery (Entourage), Kyle McLachlan (Twin Peaks).

Here is the weekly schedule:


8 pm How I Met Your Mother
8:30 pm Partners (new show)
9 pm 2 Broke Girls
9:30 pm Mike and Molly
10 pm Hawaii Five-O

8 pm NCIS
9 pm NCIS: LA
10 PM Vegas (new show)

8 pm Survivor
9 pm Criminal Minds
10 pm CSI

8 pm The Big Bang Theory
8 :30 pm Two and a Half Men
9 pm Person of Interest
10 pm Elementary

8 pm CSI: NY
9 pm Made in Jersey
10 pm Blue Bloods

Crimetime Saturday

7 pm 60 Minutes
8 pm The Amazing Race
9 pm The Good Wife
10 pm The Mentalist

At the middle of the year CBS will bring two reality shows, the returning Undercover Boss, and the brand new show The Job from Mark Burnett.  They also have one comedy and one drama.  The comedy is entitled Friend Me, and the Drama, Golden Boy (starring Kevin Alejandro, and he better not die in this show too!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

ABC's Fall Schedule 2012-2013

The mouse house ABC is the third network to announce their schedule, and they may have positioned all of their returning shows the smartest.  The big news is the move of Revenge from Wednesday to the coveted Sunday at 9 pm slot that was held by Desperate Housewives for their entire series run.  This is a major coup for this show and proves the network believes in the show a lot!  The other move was for Happy Endings and Don't Trust the B___ in Apartment 23.  As Penny Hartz would say they will form their own a-mah-zing comedy block on Tuesday after the Dancing with the Stars Results Show (smart move).

The new shows set to debut in the fall are listed below with details:

The Neighbors is from the mind of Dan Fogelman who wrote Cars, Bolt, Crazy Stupid Love, and Tangled.  The premis centers on a family who gets a house in an exclusive neighborhood, but they soon realize their neighbors are aliens from the planet Zabvron.  This is by far the stupidest pilot I have read about this fall, and doubt it will it will last. Starring Jamie Gertz (Still Standing), Simon Templemon (Just Shot Me).

Nashville comes from the writer, Callie Khouri.  Khouri wrote Thelma and Louise, Something to Talk About, and Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood.  The show is a "soap" with a family who is heavily involved in country music scene of Nashville, TN. Starring Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights), Hayden Pennetierre (Heroes), and Jonathan Jackson (General Hospital).

The Last Resort centers around a futuristic world and country is fractured.  The actual show focuses on a nuclear submarine who  become fugitives when they refuse to shoot missiles. Starring Andre Braugher (Homocide) and Scott Speedman (Felicity).

Malibu Country comes from Kevin Abbott who produced hit shows like The Golden Girls, Roseanne, Two Guys and a Girl, and Reba.  Abbott is teaming up with Reba again to make a show about a single mom trying to relaunch her singing career. Starring Reba McEntire (Reba), Lilly Tomlin (Murphy Brown), and Sara Rue (Less than Perfect).

666 Park Avenue comes from the adapted book series by Gabrielle Pierce.  The story centers around a young couple who runs an old school NYC apartment building, and supernatural stuff begins to happen that threatens the tenants of the building.  Starring David Annabelle (Brothers & Sisters), Terry O'Quinn (Lost), Vanessa Williams (Ugly Betty).

The fall schedule is here and listed below:

8 pm Dancing with the Stars
10 pm Castle

8 pm Dancing with the Stars Results Show
9 pm Happy Endings
9:30 pm Don't Trust the B____ in Apt 23
10 pm Private Practice

8 pm The Middle
8:30 pm Suburgatory
9 pm Modern Family
9:30 pm The Neighbors
10 pm Nashville

8 pm Last Resort
9 pm Grey's Anatomy
10 pm Scandal

8 pm Shark Tank
9 pm Primetime: What would you do?
10 pm 20/20

In November
8 pm Last Man Standing
8:30 pm Malibu Country
9 pm Shark Tank
10 pm Primetime: What would you do?

Saturday Night College Football

8 pm Once Upon a Time
9 pm Revenge
10 pm 666 Park Avenue

Spring will bring some new comedies and dramas to the network, and some old favorites will return.  The Bachelor will fill the 8 pm Monday night time slot for Dancing with the Stars. In the new department two comedies will replace the results show on Tuesday, How to Live with Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life at 8 pm and The Family Tools at 8:30 pm.

The other mid season shows (which do not have a time slot yet) are returning shows Body of Proof, and Wife Swap, and new shows Mistresses, Red Widow, and Zero Hour. While ABC did the most for their returning shows their new shows look very weak!