Thursday, September 30, 2010

ABC's Detroit 1-8-7 - TV Review

Very impressed with the first episode. I liked Michael Imperioli anchoring the action as Fitch, who's actually a bit of an enigma to the rest in his department. May well be the best cop drama on network TV now. I liked it a little more than Hawaii Five-0. I liked it more than the CSIs or Law & Orders. Who else is there?

It started out as a faux-documentary-style show, and some of that flavor is still there, with the bleeped dialogue and one time a perp growling right at the camera.

Killers - DVD Review


Starring Ashton Kutcher, Katherine Heigl, Tom Selleck, Catherine O'Hara, Katheryn Winnick, Kevin Sussman, Casey Wilson, Rob Riggle, Martin Mull, Alex Borstein and Usher Raymond.
Directed by Robert Luketic.

Welcome to a movie with the unlikeliest assassin ever in Ashton Kutcher, and Katherine Heigl as yet another girly-girl who acts wacky when confronted with hijinks that need ensuing. If you want to see the least convincing scream of the year, see the scene when Kutcher and would-be rival-assassin crash through her living room window. A high-pitched five-second "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!"

How did Heigl become comedienne of choice in crappy romantic comedies the past two or three years? Was she funny on Grey's Anatomy? I never watched that show, but she struck me as one who could rival Rachel McAdams or Anne Hathaway if she strived for art in every other project. As such, she's currently doomed to follow the Kate Hudson path, but even Hudson was nominated for an Academy Award once (Almost Famous was ten years ago. Wow.)

So this movie has these two cute kids meet and get married and three years later, Kutcher learns he has a bounty on his head, $20 million to whomever can kill him. Then they learn a couple of their friends are actually moles, just biding their time until they can take him out. Different suburbanites wielding weapons reminded me of Hot Fuzz, a funnier movie.

I did enjoy Tom Selleck as Heigl's uptight, successful father. Selleck doesn't work enough, and I'm looking forward to seeing if his new TV show is any good. I can at least say I wasn't bored. It's a quick, fluffy 93 minutes.

The City of Your Final Destination - DVD Review


Starring Anthony Hopkins, Laura Linney, Omar Metwally, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Hiroyuki Sanada and Norma Aleandro.
Directed by James Ivory.

This is a movie based on a book where I imagine the book was well-written and interesting, but it doesn't lend itself well to the screen. The movie doesn't move.

It's about a young man who wants to write a biography about a recently deceased author, but he goes to Uruguay to get permission from his "eccentric" surviving family. Chief among the skeptical relatives are Anthony Hopkins and Laura Linney, and despite defined, measured performances, their presense isn't enough shield the inertia in the story.

Like most Ivory projects, it's pleasant to look at, solid in the art direction and cinematography areas. There were times where I just expected Hopkins to say, "I think I'll take a nap" and then look at the camera and say, "Feel free to do the same."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Monday TV Ratings

Channel - Title - Viewers in million / 18-49 demo


ABC - Dancing with the Stars - 21.09 / 4.6
FOX - House - 10.21 / 3.8
CBS - How I Met Your Mother - 8.97 / 3.8
- - - - Rules of Engagement - 8.14 / 3.2
NBC - Chuck - 5.37 / 2.0
CW - 90210 - 2.1 / 1.1

ABC - Dancing with the Stars - 23.41 / 5.4
CBS - Two and a Half Men - 13.86 / 4.8
- - - - Mike & Molly - 11.21 / 3.7
NBC - The Event - 9.06 / 2.9
FOX - Lone Star - 3.78 / 1.2
CW - Gossip Girl - 1.81 / 1.0

CBS - Hawaii Five-0 - 12.55 / 3.6
ABC - Castle - 13.5 / 3.4
NBC - Chase - 6.49 / 2.1

First off, it's no wonder Fox cancelled Lone Star. House is doing well, and maybe by bringing back Lie to me earlier than planned, they stop some of the viewer hemorraghing.

ABC's crown-jewel series Dancing with the Stars is keeping people fascinated, and Castle's retaining enough of the 18-49 demo to be considered successful.

NBC has what for them is a hit with The Event; it just needs better shows on both sides of it. I love Chuck, but it's looking pretty obvious this is its last season and it's a question of how many episodes this last season is going to contain.

CBS still holds the Midas touch.

CW remains irrelevant, regularly beaten by Univision.

Sunday TV Ratings

Channel - Title - Viewers in million / 18-49 demo

CBS - 60 Minutes - 14.3 / 3.0
NBC - Football Night - 8.68 / 3.3
FOX - The Simpsons (r) - 7.65 / 2.9
- - - - The Simpsons (r) - 5.35 / 2.4
ABC - Extreme Makeover: HE Hr 1 - 6.07 / 1.7

NBC - Sunday Night Football Hr 1 - 17.88 / 7.0
CBS - The Amazing Race Hr 1 - 13.58 / 3.5
ABC - Extreme Makeover: HE Hr 2 - 9.07 / 2.7
FOX - The Simpsons - 7.76 / 3.7
- - - - The Cleveland Show - 6.6 / 3.1

NBC - Sunday Night Football Hr 2 - 16.41 / 6.4
ABC - Desperate Housewives - 12.89 / 4.2
CBS - The Amazing Race Hr 2 - 11.25 / 3.7
FOX - Family Guy - 9.4 / 4.7

NBC - Sunday Night Football Hr 3 - 14.91 / 6.3
CBS - Undercover Boss - 11.16 / 3.7
ABC - Brothers & Sisters - 9.99 / 3.1

Football rules the night, as it does the day on Sunday. CBS should be able to shore up stronger ratings next week when CSI: Miami has its season premiere. ABC's EM: Home Edition franchise is starting to show weakness, but the relatively low cost of the show keeps it profitable. The animation line-up still works for Fox in the 18-49 demo.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Marmaduke - DVD Review


Starring Lee Pace, Judy Greer, William H. Macy and the voices of Owen Wilson, George Lopez, Emma Stone, Steve Coogan, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kiefer Sutherland, Stacy Ferguson and Sam Elliott.
Directed by Tom Dey.

I guess it's good for kids if they've never seen a live-action/CG movie that makes animals talk, but once you've seen Cats & Dogs and Beverly Hills Chihuahua, what does this really have to offer? Sure, Marmaduke was (is?) a newspaper comic strip, but how many people really remember anything about it? Is there a person on Earth outside the cartoonist's family who knows the names of the cartoonist? Or the family that owns Marmaduke?

It features a standard outsider-trying-to-fit-in story with Marmaduke (voiced by Owen Wilson) and family newly moved to California. Then at the dog park, the great dane Marmaduke runs into a rottweiler (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland) who doesn't care for him.

Marmaduke constantly talks to the camera and never says anything funny. Naturally there's a scene where he holds a party at the house and it gets torn to shreds. The film even features an obligatory obnoxious dance number with all the CG dogs. I can just say my six-year-old laughed at the fart joke at the end.

I fear a Family Circus movie.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

NBC's Chase - TV Review

The problem with this procedural is it gives us no characters to care about. I wanted the bad guy to get away since he had the most personality. I could tell Bruckheimer was behind it. It was nice to see Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break) get work, but this vehicle? Nah.

The Joneses - DVD Review


Starring Demi Moore, David Duchovny, Gary Cole, Glenne Headly, Amber Heard, Ben Hollingsworth, Lauren Hutton and Christine Evangelista.
Directed by Derrick Borte.

This satire of consumerism was enjoyable enough, but I do wish it had gone for the jugular.

This lesson would have been more timely in 2008 but here goes. A new family - the Joneses - has moved into an upscale neighborhood. They have the latest in everything - cars, decor, clothes, gadgets. They're the talk and envy of the neighborhood. They're also not real. They're professional envy-generators. They're stealth sales reps, out to show off new products in hopes word will spread and sales will go up.

The father of the group (David Duchovny) is new to the group, and he finds himself developing feelings for the mother, even though it's all supposed to be strictly professional.

When I think of the lasting satires, they had edge to them. Network, for instance, blistered the anything-for-ratings mentality of TV news. Here we get the four who are all deep down nice people. (Maybe not Demi Moore, but if I was doing this, I would have made her character ruthless). It made the ending feel like a wimpy way out, but what insights it does provide hit home, and it has a few laughs along the way.

Just Wright - DVD Review


Starring Queen Latifah, Common, Paula Patton, James Pickens Jr., Phylicia Rashad, Pam Grier, Laz Alonzo, Mehcad Brooks and Dwight Howard.
Directed by Sanaa Hamri.

The perfect film for insomniacs, especially if you've seen the preview. I did see the preview a couple times in theaters, and the movie hit every note at all the predictable moments down to the very end. Even if I hadn't seen it, I knew where everything was going. Now that's a familiar trapping of the romantic comedy, right? It's predictable and doesn't have to actually be funny, just pleasant?

Another problem I had with this is that Common is not that good of an actor. I guess it depends on his role. I didn't have a problem with him in Date Night, for instance, but carrying the lead role here, there were times he was trying too hard. I also didn't like the basketball. It's always cool to see real NBA guys show up and play themselves (okay not always), but the choreography of the game, Scott McKnight (Common) is a dribble-happy ballhog. Couldn't they have shown McKnight make a cool pass or two to justify his role as point guard?

My favorite part? Claire Huxtable herself, Phylicia Rashad, plays McKnight's mom. Other than that...

Tuesday's TV Ratings

Channel - Title - viewers in millions / 18-49 share

CBS - NCIS - 18.92 / 3.9
FOX - Glee - 12.28 / 5.5
ABC - Dancing with the Stars recap - 12 / 2.6
NBC - The Biggest Loser Hr 1 - 6.78 / 2.7
CW - One Tree Hill - 1.91 / .9

ABC - Dancing with the Stars results - 18.31 / 4.3
CBS - NCIS: LA Hr 1 - 16.08 / 3.5
NBC - The Biggest Loser Hr 2 - 8.04 / 3.5
FOX - Raising Hope - 7.47 / 3.1
- - - - Running Wilde - 5.87 / 2.5
CW - Life Unexpected - 1.51 / .7

CBS - NCIS: LA Hr 2 - 13.94 / 3.0
ABC - Detroit 1-8-7 - 9.75 / 2.5
NBC - Parenthood - 5.86 / 2.5

If ABC could figure out how to string Dancing with the Stars across three nights, they'd probably do it, but then they'd kill it like they did Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. Fox has to be thrilled with Glee, but disappointed in their comedies that followed. It also doesn't look good for Detroit 1-8-7 to lose so much of the DWTS lead-in. Meanwhile NBC isn't great with overall viewers but can take comfort their 18-49 demo isn't too bad.

Monday's TV Ratings

Channel - Title - viewers in millions / 18-49 share

ABC - Dancing with the Stars Hr 1 - 20.14 / 4.6
FOX - House - 10.54 / 4.1
CBS - How I Met Your Mother - 8.78 / 3.6
- - - - Rules of Engagement - 8.33 / 3.1
NBC - Chuck - 6.06 / 2.1
CW - 90210 - 2.16 / 1.0

ABC - Dancing with the Stars Hr 2 - 21.87 / 5.3
CBS - Two and a Half Men - 14.5 / 4.8
- - - - Mike & Molly - 12.24 / 3.9
NBC - The Event - 11.19 / 3.7
FOX - Lone Star - 4.06 / 1.3
CW - Gossip Girl - 1.87 / 1.0

CBS - Hawaii Five-0 - 13.83 / 3.8
ABC - Castle - 11.17 / 2.8
NBC - Chase - 7.94 / 2.5

Dancing with the Stars still dominates, House has slipped a bit, Two and a Half Men still rules, The Event had an impressive debut, Hawaii Five-0 was solid, Chuck's surely in its last season, and Lone Star is DOA. It might even be the first show of the season cancelled.

I tend to go to this site or that for TV ratings info.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Town - Movie Review


Starring Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Blake Lively, Pete Postlethwaite, Chris Cooper and Titus Welliver.
Directed by Ben Affleck.

Is it perfect? No. But it's the best bank-robbing procedural of the year. It pays homage to Heat without ripping it off, and Affleck's quickly establishing himself as one of the most interesting directors in Hollywood. He's doing for Massachusetts what Martin Scorsese did for New York. At least he's on his way.

Affleck plays Doug MacRay, a guy born and raised in Charlestown, a one-mile area in Boston that we're told has produced the highest per-capita amount of bank robbers in the Northeast. His mom disappeared when he was six, and his dad's doing a life sentence. So he was raised with the Coughlins, where we still see his best-friend brother figure Jem (The Hurt Locker's Jeremy Renner) and the sister Krista (Gossip Girl's Blake Lively), whose baby may or may not be Doug's.

The movie starts out with a bank heist, an intense well-choreographed kick-off, with Doug and his crew wearing skull masks. Jem decides to kidnap the assistant bank manager Claire (Vicky Cristina Barcelona's Rebecca Hall) just in case, and they leave her by the river. Turns out Claire just lives a few blocks from them, so Doug sets out to make sure she won't be able to recongize any of them, but especially so Jem won't decide to just "take care of her."

They bump into each other at a laundromat, and Doug takes a liking to Claire. He sees her regularly. This bank robber begins to wonder if he can finally get out of Charlestown and have a real crime-free life somewhere else.

Always circling though is FBI agent Adam Frawley (Mad Men's Jon Hamm). He didn't make me forget Tommy Lee Jones's Marshal Gerard, but he has two good scenes, one where he lets Doug know just how much he's going to enjoy taking him down, and another monologue where he surgically removes Krista's options until the last one is betrayal.

Affleck's a good actor, not great, and this is one of his best performances. (My fave of his is still Changing Lanes.) It's his directing, though, where he shines. I love the overhead shots of Boston, the authenticity of the atmosphere, the scenes where actors can breathe, especially each one Renner is in. He always has that hairtrigger edge to him, like Joe Pesci in Goodfellas. The bank robbery, the second act armored-truck job, and the final heist are all well-done, in staging and suspense. The action here was more satisfying than anything in, say, Iron Man 2.

With ten movies as possibilities, I could see this sneaking in for a Best Picture nod.

P.S. To the guy who kept texting in front of me, you were rude, but thanks for at least finally getting up and leaving to finish the conversation after your third message.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

NBC's Outlaw - TV Review

I like Jimmy Smits but this vehicle is another crash-and-burn. Remember Sally Field in The Court? Joe Mantegna in First Monday? Smits plays a conservative Supreme Court justice who quits so he can do high-profile politically-correct cases across the country. I didn't buy his character, I didn't buy his change of heart, just at no point did this feel based in any reality. Even shows like Heroes had some characters where you felt like a real person might react that way if they learned they had powers. This? No. It felt like they'd rewritten unused scripts from James Woods' Shark once they got their premise out of the way, with Aaron Sorkin soapboxing thrown in for his closing arguments.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Prince of Persia - DVD Review


Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Kingsley, Gemma Arterton, Alfred Molina and Toby Kebbell.
Directed by Mike Newell.

The marketers for this movie had a challenge, and they whiffed it. Sure, it's still the empty-headed wizz-bang adventure I figured it would be, but they could have disguised that a little more, made it seem like they were recapturing the Indiana Jones spirit. For one thing, the trailers reveal who the main villain is even though that's a twist that doesn't come for a full hour into the actual film. I hate it when they do that.

They could have taken the same cast and budget and set pieces and made a cool live-action Aladdin movie. Instead it's based on a video game I've never played and it centers on a dagger that can turn back time. This movie suffers from what most time-travel movies suffer from. If a protagonist has the power to undo any action by turning back the clock, then no action on screen has any consequence.

In fact it's only been hours since I saw it and I already can't remember most of it. There was an ostrich race. Alfred Molina paying homage to Hugh Griffith as a sheik...

Did someone use the dagger on me?

MacGruber - DVD Review


Starring Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Philippe, Val Kilmer, Powers Boothe, Maya Rudolph and Chris Jericho.
Directed by Jorma Taccone.

MacGruber is a one-note character, and this is a one-note movie. How many "homage to the 1980's movie cliches" movies do we really need? It started in 1993 with The Last Action Hero and they keep coming. I just saw Cop Out earlier this month. Enough! I imagine the inevitable Seltzer-Friedberg "Eighties Movie" is next.

Will Forte, one of the more versatile players on SNL (who also announced he won't be back this fall), plays MacGruber, a man really good at taking down bad guys. Actually he's terrible at it; he tends to accidentally get people killed and by sheer luck gets the job done. When arms dealer Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer) re-emerges, the rumored-to-be-dead MacGruber is pulled out of retirement to help bring him down.

The movie does have some laughs, which makes it better than Cop Out, and I enjoyed some of the straight-man reactions of Kilmer and new-recruit Ryan Phillippe to the beyond-clueless MacGruber. But yeah, it's 30 minutes of ideas stretched out to fill up movie space.

Monday, September 13, 2010

CW's Nikita - TV Review

I never saw the Peta Wilson series, but I did see the original French La Femme Nikita and the US remake Point of No Return. Maggie Q fits in nicely as the butt-kicking protagonist, a woman once trained to be an assassin who now wants to take down the covert department that made her that way. It's like a cross between Alias and Dollhouse.

My only real problem was they youthified too much. Would've liked to see the etiquette coach still be a woman older than Melinda Clarke (not that I don't like Clarke), and I've never been a Shane West fan so I wasn't thrilled to see him as the handler. West was in Whatever It Takes and played Tom Sawyer in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and so I was soured on him. I quit watching ER when he joined the cast (not solely because of him, but he didn't help).

If someone was paying me to watch and recap each week, I'd keep watching. I liked Maggie Q and it was nice to see 24's Xander Berkeley as the Big Boss. It just didn't hook me enough to get a reservation in my viewing schedule.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

CW's Hellcats - TV Review

Not bad, but not good. It's Bring It On: The Series. They even have the lead put in a Bring It On DVD to watch. A tough girl studying law finds out she's lost her scholarship so she desperately tries out for the college cheerleading squad in hopes of getting a scholarship there. I have no temptation to watch Episode 2 but I'm not its audience. High School Musical's Ashley Tisdale's gone brunette as a perky perfectionist caricature, and Battlestar Galactica's Aaron Douglas even walks through as the athletic director. Where did it lose me? When Tough Girl improvises her own dance moves during try-outs and the coach marvels like she's just discovered the next Janet Jackson. Teen girls should enjoy the drama. I wonder what my brother who was on a national cheerleading championship team would think...

Solitary Man - DVD Review


Starring Michael Douglas, Mary-Louise Parker, Jenna Fischer, Susan Sarandon, Jesse Eisenberg, Danny DeVito, Imogen Poots, Richard Schiff, David Costabile and Ben Shenkman.
Directed by Brian Koppelman & David Levien.

I don't know what happened to Michael Douglas. He lost his way somewhere back there and found himself having to take forgettable supporting roles in movies like You Me & Dupree, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and Beyond A Reasonable Doubt. But between this and Wall Street 2 he seems back on the right track.

He plays a total cad here, a man who learns he might be dying and so throws his life away by cheating on his wife and being dishonest at his business. He hits on college girls, thinking he's still debonaire enough that it'll work. Douglas is great at playing scumbags we still kinda hope will get redeemed. It's his best performance (and role) in years.

My only problem was the ambiguous ending. I just hope he's able to recover from throat cancer, that Wall Street 2 is good, and that he can keep working.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Who Turned Down Dancing with the Stars?

The highlight I got from this is how washed up Melanie Griffith must be feeling that she can't get on a reality show that is thrilled to land The Situation?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Martin Freeman as Bilbo?

Might Martin Freeman be the next Bilbo Baggins?

That's the rumor. The man best known for starring opposite Ricky Gervais in BBC's The Office also played Arthur in the big-screen adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and will next star in the BBC series Sherlock as Dr. Watson.

TV I'm Watching Now

AMC's Mad Men - A true watercooler show, if my office had a watercooler and two-thirds of the cubicles weren't empty.

CBS's Big Brother 12 - It gets boring once it's down to the final four. It's been an up-and-down season, but at least I don't think any of these contestants are going to use their fame to sell drugs like two from BB10.

ABC's Wipeout - Slapstick's still funny. Plus one of my kids told a classmate I'm going to try out, so I guess I'd better. Next year.

ABC's Bachelor Pad - I watch it with my wife. And my guess is this will be the only season. It's Big Brother with more hook-ups. Seriously some of these people have the morals of guinea pigs, but they dress nice so they don't feel as skanky as a VH1 show.

FOX's Lie to Me - I've been a big Tim Roth fan since Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead.

FX's Louie - It's a comedy about how depressing it is to be a divorced dad.

ESPN's Around the Horn, ComCen's The Daily Show, FNC's Red Eye - I'll DVR most episodes, watch about half of them.


TNT's Memphis Beat - I watched about five episodes. It's fine. It's a summer show. I think it already had its season finale.

TNT's Rizzoli & Isles - I like Angie Harmon, but I've only seen two of the episodes on my DVR and may or may not get to one more before I delete the rest to make room for fall.

AMC's Rubicon - Two and a half episodes in, but it's too cold and impersonal for me to care. I'll wait for The Walking Dead.

NBC's America's Got Talent - I tend to watch the first few weeks, but always drop it by the time we get to semi-finals. If I missed something really cool, I'm sure someone will point it out to me on YouTube.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The White Ribbon - DVD Review


Starring Burghart Klaussner, Christian Friedel, Leonie Benesch, Ulrich Tukur, Michael Kranz, Maria-Victoria Dragus, Levin Henning and Ursina Lardi.
Directed by Michael Haneke.

This 2009 nominee for Best Foreign Film lives up to the hype. It's all about quiet malevolence in a small Germany town in 1913. There are children around, but they rarely laugh. There are stern leaders in the town, namely the Baron, who owns half the land and who empliys most of the people. There is also the Pastor, whose harsh discipline he sees as cleansing. The children and the workers are being groomed to learn one virtue, that of submission.

But there are disturbing happenings around the town. Someone drew a wire between two trees that caused the Doctor to fall off his horse. A young boy is kidnapped and tortured. A worker dies in a mill "accident." No one knows what's causing these things, nor is it ever spelled out for us, but it is implied, and the viewer's allowed to draw his own conclusions.

Germany 1913. These children will be adults when Hitler rises to power, and while some have the seed of sadism planted, others have the seed of not rocking the boat, obeying whoever's in power. Negative actions have negative consequences. It's one I'll be thinking about for days.

Cop Out - DVD Review


Starring Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Seann William Scott, Kevin Pollak, Adam Brody, Ana de la Regeura, Guillermo Diaz, Rashida Jones, Michelle Trachtenberg, Susie Essman and Jason Lee.
Directed by Kevin Smith.

This is the first movie Kevin Smith's directed that he didn't write, and yet, a lot of it seems like he might have written it. I think it's due to a lot of improvising by the cast, giving it a Smith-ian spirit, seeing as how the screenplay was so thin to begin with.

It's a homage to 1980's cop movies, and if the soundtrack and parade of cliches doesn't tip you off, then Tracy Morgan quoting every movie under the sun in the opening scene will. Here's the thing. It's not like all the old-school cop movies were good. The Last Boy Scout, for instance, was terrible. Should it be resurrected?

Willis and Morgan are Jimmy and Paul, partners for nine years. I didn't believe it for a second. They had no chemistry with each other, and Paul is a man-child way too similar to Morgan's deranged 30 Rock character. Jimmy is trying to figure out how to pay for his daughter's wedding; Paul is worried his wife's cheating on him. Naturally they get suspended early in the film, but they press on to bust a drug case.

The film does pick up once Seann William Scott shows up as a burglar-stoner, the Joe Pesci in the Lethal Weapon trio. I even laughed a couple times. Unfortunately he's not in it as much as the previews suggested.

I haven't liked everything Smith has done, but I was relieved to learn he didn't actually write this. I hope this doesn't discourage him from directing others' work - that's what most directors do - but hopefully next time he'll be more discerning.

Nanny McPhee Returns - Movie Review


Starring Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rhys Ifans, Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes and Ewan McGregor.
Directed by Susanna White.

She's no Mary Poppins. For one thing, Mary would not abide so many poo jokes. The kids are on a farm, and therefore there is a lot of animal dung, but my goodness, when they make Maggie Smith sit on a cowpie, I'd about had enough.

This movie's fun for kids. It has that hyper acting-for-kids style from everyone. If the cast of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang waltzed in with a musical number, the tone needn't change a tittle to accommodate.

Emma Thompson's labor of love (she also wrote it) stays intact. Her McPhee is ugly and scary, but as lessons are learned, her moles melt away, and once she's normal-looking, we know her work is done.

We saw it for free, and that was great. It's more of a rental.

Fall TV Preview - Sunday


ABC - America's Funniest Home Videos
CBS - 60 Minutes
NBC - Football Night in America
FOX - The OT

ABC - Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
CBS - The Amazing Race
NBC - Sunday Night Football
FOX - The Simpsons
- - - - The Cleveland Show

ABC - Desperate Housewives
CBS - Undercover Boss
NBC - SNF Hour 2
FOX - Family Guy
- - - - American Dad

ABC - Brothers & Sisters
CBS - CSI: Miami
NBC - SNF Hour 3

No new shows Sunday night.

CSI: Miami's move to Sundays could shake Brothers & Sisters' control of the hour. Football's going to dominate the night. Fox is content with the stale ratings of The Cleveland Show and American Dad, since nothing else they've put in those slots have worked.

Fall TV Preview - Saturday


College football, repeats, Cops & America's Most Wanted.

Fall TV Preview - Friday


CBS - Medium
NBC - Who Do You Think You Are?
FOX - Human Target
CW - Smallville

NBC - Dateline NBC
FOX - The Good Guys
CW - Supernatural

ABC - 20/20

New Shows:

SECRET MILLIONAIRE - This show actually briefly ran on Fox about 18 months ago. ABC has resurrected the premise, where real-life millionaires go undercover in poor neighborhoods and find people worthy to give at least $100,000 of their own money.

BODY OF PROOF - Dana Delany left Desperate Housewives and now stars in this, as a sardonic medical examiner. It's supposed to contain a lot about her private life so it's not just a procedural each week. Jeri Ryan (Star Trek Voyager, Boston Public, Shark) also stars.

BLUE BLOODS - Tom Selleck plays a cop whose two sons are also cops (Donnie Wahlberg, Will Estes). Supposed to have as much family drama as crime story.

OUTLAW - Jimmy Smits plays a Supreme Court justice who resigns to go back into private practice to try controversial cases across the country.

My Prediction:

Well, it warms my heart that the networks aren't giving up on Friday the way they have Saturdays. The Good Guys is a fun show but its low ratings when it debuted tells me it won't survive too long in the fall. Low expectations abound on this night. I have faith Blue Bloods will stick. I do see this being Medium's final season, and CSI: NY's. Outlaw has a fantasy premise, but Smits might be the guy who can pull it off. I have no feel on ABC's slate. Overall it looks like CBS is #1, Fox is #2 (thanks to American Idol), and ABC is hanging on to #3 thanks to Dancing with the Stars, but NBC is poised to challenge them.

Fall TV Preview - Thursday


CBS - The Big Bang Theory
- - - - $#*! MY DAD SAYS
NBC - Community
- - - - 30 Rock
FOX - Bones
CW - The Vampire Diaries

ABC - Grey's Anatomy
NBC - The Office
FOX - Fringe

ABC - Private Practice
CBS - The Mentalist
NBC - The Apprentice

New Shows:

MY GENERATION - The premise is that a documentarian interviewed a group of kids from the graduating class of 2000, and ten years later, we see where they are now.

$#*! MY DAD SAYS - Based on the popular Twitter account, William Shatner is the politically-incorrect old coot who says outrageous things around his 20-something-year-old son who moves back in with him.

OUTSOURCED - Based on a little-seen movie, it's about an American who moves to India to train a new call-center. Culture clashes abound. I personally work with an office in Bangalore so I'm hoping I'll recognize aspects of it.

NIKITA - Maggie Q (Mission Impossible 3) stars in this reboot of the Peta Wilson series, which was based on the French film La Femme Nikita. It's getting good reviews.

My Prediction:

In the first hour I see Big Bang crushing everyone. Bones should continue to do well, and I don't think Community/ 30 Rock combo will do worse. That leaves My Generation in a precarious position, primarily if it has a poor lead-in to Grey's Anatomy, which may have been getting long in the tooth except it's opposite a longer, toothier CSI, minus William Peterson and now losing Marg Helgenberger this year. If Outsourced bombs, they have Parks & Recreation ready to come back. My hunch is Nikita will do well for CW standards.

No changes in the final hour. Nice to see a celebrity-free Apprentice return, but it and Private Practive will get stomped by The Mentalist.

Fall TV Preview - Wednesday


ABC - The Middle
CBS - Survivor
FOX - Lie to Me
CW - America's Next Top Model

ABC - Modern Family
- - - - Cougar Town
CBS - Criminal Minds
NBC - Law & Order: SVU
FOX - Hell's Kitchen


New Shows:

UNDERCOVERS - JJ Abrams is behind this new Mr. & Mrs. Smith style series, about a married couple in counseling who keep getting pulled back into the high-spy business. One of the rare network shows where the leads are non-whites. Fingers crossed it's a good show.

BETTER WITH YOU - One sister's going on nine years with her boyfriend, but her spotlight gets stolen by younger sister who's pregnant and engaged to her boyfriend of seven weeks. Hijinks ensue. Kurt Fuller (That's My Bush) and Debra Jo Rupp (That 70's Show) are the parents.

HELLCATS - Tries to do for cheerleading what Glee did for glee clubs. High School Musical vet Ashley Tisdale is part of the ensemble.

THE WHOLE TRUTH - Courtroom drama seen from both sides: the prosecution (ER's Maura Tierney) and the defense (Numb3rs' Rob Morrow).

THE DEFENDERS - Less serious lawyer show, looks like in the vein of Boston Legal. James Belushi and Jerry O'Connell are your stars.

LAW & ORDER: LOS ANGELES - The chung-chung lives, and with such names as Terrence Howard, Alfred Molina, Skeet Ulrich, Regina Hall, Teri Polo and Wanda De Jesus.

My Prediction:

ABC's comedy line-up could use another success to buoy the crown jewel Modern Family, and if BWY flounders, they have Mr. Sunshine in the wings, a midseason sitcom with Matthew Perry. I've heard good things, and by heard, I mean read. Wednesday's really wide open, unlike most nights where it looks like CBS will rule no matter what. Survivor's move is risky, but Criminal Minds tends to win the night. With three law shows at the 10/9 spot, it's up in the air. I can see The Whole Truth being the one that flounders.

Univision beats The CW many nights at this point; they're barely a network. But America's Next Top Model is still their biggest show for ratings, so if Hellcats is remotely good, it has a chance.

Undercovers... maybe the name "JJ Abrams" will get enough people curious. I think Lie to Me's going to get shredded. I like the show and have enjoyed it during summer, but I don't know how much longer it'll last.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fall TV Preview - Tuesday


NBC - Biggest Loser Hour 1
FOX - Glee
CW - One Tree Hill

ABC - Dancing with the Stars results
CBS - NCIS: Los Angeles
NBC - Biggest Loser Hour 2
CW - Life Unexpected

CBS - The Good Wife
NBC - Parenthood

New Shows:

NO ORDINARY FAMILY - Michael Chiklis (The Shield) and Julie Benz (Dexter) head a family that suddenly gain super powers. Sounds like a live-action The Incredibles. Sounds like it intends to be brighter than the now-axed Heroes.

RAISING HOPE - Blue-collar dark comedy about a 23-year-old who has a surprise baby daughter Hope left on his doorstep. Garrett Dillahunt (Terminator: TSCC) and Martha Plimpton (Goonies) are his parents, and Cloris Leachman is Grandma. Supposed to have a My Name Is Earl meets Arrested Development flavor to it.

RUNNING WILDE - Speaking of Arrested Development, Will Arnett stars as a lazy son of a millionaire who finds out his old high-school crush (Keri Russell) is single and he tries to win her over. She's an environmental activist (hopefully not to the James Lee level), so he has some work to do. Word has it they reshot the pilot after it scored lower-than-expected test scores.

DETROIT 1-8-7 - This drama about homicide cops in Detroit was going to be faux-documentary style, but they had to scrap that idea and now shoot it as a straight drama. Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos, Life on Mars) and James McDaniel (NYPD Blue) star.

My Prediction:

Tuesday's opening slot looks tough, but I can see No Ordinary Family defying odds and breaking out somehow. That'll mean either Biggest Loser or Glee has to slip. It also means the Fox sitcoms are in a high-risk/high-reward bind. Fox hasn't been able to get a sitcom to last for a while. (Til Death should have been cancelled two years before it actually was.) The Good Wife will continue to dominate, and it'll be up to Detroit and Parenthood to duke it out for second.

Fall TV Preview - Monday

New shows in All Caps.


ABC - Dancing with the Stars Hour 1
CBS - How I Met Your Mother
- - - - Rules of Engagement
NBC - Chuck
FOX - House
CW - 90210

ABC - Dancing with the Stars Hour 2
CBS - Two and a Half Men
- - - - MIKE & MOLLY
CW - Gossip Girl

ABC - Castle

New Shows:

MIKE & MOLLY (CBS) - Sitcom following the courtship between two overweight people. I've heard more good things than bad.

THE EVENT (NBC) - This treads conspiracy-theory waters and hopes to succeed where FlashForward failed. I do hear there's an assassination attempt and a CIA cover-up of... something. Cast includes Blair Underwood (as the Prez), Jason Ritter (The Class), Laura Innes (ER) and Zjelko Ivanek (Damages).

LONE STAR (FOX) - A man juggles two lives in Texas between a wife and mistress and hopes his powerful father-in-law (Jon Voight) doesn't find out. Supposed to be a less-cheesy Dallas. Zap2It named it the #1 must-see new show this fall.

HAWAII FIVE-0 (CBS) - Remember how CBS kept giving Simon Baker series after series until they found the perfect package in The Mentalist? They're hoping they've found the right vehicle for Alex O'Loughlin, late of Midnight and Three Rivers. His supporting cast includes Entourage's Scott Caan, Lost's Daniel Dae Kim, and Battlestar Galactica's Grace Park.

CHASE (NBC) - Show about U.S. marshals chasing the fugitive of the week.

My Prediction:

NBC is in a world of hurt this year. They have a lot of hopes on The Event, but Lone Star has a much stronger lead-in, and ABC and CBS's scheduling looks bulletproof. Then again, soapy dramas are as big a gamble as mystery series where viewers need to watch each week. I think the gamble of moving CSI: Miami to Sundays is a good one to help a new show. I see Hawaii Five-0 being a hit. I see Chase being the first NBC cancellation of the year, and The Event not being far behind unless word-of-mouth is really strong. But then again, it's NBC. If The Event can just improve on Chuck's lead-in, it'll be considered a hit.

Harry Brown - DVD Review


Starring Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Charlie Creed-Miles, David Bradley, Liam Cunningham, Iain Glen and Sean Harris.
Directed by Daniel Barber.

Michael Caine is great in everything he does, and when he's the lead, he really gets to show what he can do. I was excited at the prospect of him starring in his own Gran Torino, but that was my first mistake. Gran Torino was really good, and this one pales by comparison, though through no fault of Caine's.

Caine plays Harry Brown, a man living in a rougher, poorer section of London, and the gang violence is increasing around him. The cops don't seem to be effective and after a couple tragic events, Harry Brown decides enough's enough. The guy's a former Marine after all.

He wanders into the seedier parts of town and uncovers the tangled webs between gangs and the drug culture. Dead bodies of lowlifes pile up, and the local inspector (Emily Mortimer) is sympathetic but thinks it might be Harry behind the body count.

Caine's cool, but it really is just a cockney Death Wish.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Machete - Movie Review


Starring Danny Trejo, Robert DeNiro, Steven Seagal, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Don Johnson, Cheech Marin, Lindsay Lohan, Tom Savini, Daryl Sabara and Shea Whigham.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez.

I thought the two-minute fake trailer was great in Grindhouse (2007). For some weird reason I wasn't expecting this movie to still feel like a 90-minute trailer of itself, but it was.

The previews we had set the mood. The Town looks good, I'm hyped for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (kudos to the marketing guy who thought of using "Sympathy for the Devil"), and I'm tired of seeing the preview for Devil ("from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan.") We also had Saw 3D and Resident Evil: Afterlife, this decade's version of grindhouse.

Then the movie.

Trejo's got a very interesting face. It looks like it's made from granite after centuries of ocean splashed against it. He doesn't need to say anything; his intense physical presense commands the screen. He's also got an impressive body for a 67-year-old man. Here he's a federale in Mexico whose wife and child get killed by the local kingpin Torrez (Steven Seagal). They think they've killed him too, but he re-emerges in Texas, doing odd jobs. There we find an eclectic cast of characters. There's Robert DeNiro as Sen. John McLaughlin, running a hate-filled anti-immigrant re-election campaign. There's SHE (Michelle Rodriguez) who runs a secret underground operation treated with the reverance of Harriet Tubman. There's Don Johnson, having the most fun as the evil border vigilante.

The political undertones of the movie were weird, off-putting. The argument seems to be that there should be an open border between the US and Mexico, and sending anyone back to Mexico is cruel, unusual and inhumane. And anyone who wants a secure border is a racist murderer. I guess.

Lindsay Lohan does show up and at one point finds herself in a nun's habit pointing a gun. She actually wasn't very good in this movie. I'm one who keeps hoping she'll get her life cleaned up. She CAN act. Freaky Friday, Mean Girls, A Prairie Home Companion. But her performance here was one where I felt like her off-screen life is catching up to her.

Then there's Steven Seagal. He's best when he's in the teleconferencing scenes, where we only see his head. The guy is really out of shape. I don't know he's been seriously injured recently or what, but he can't move. He cannot do a convincing fight scene. I think they would have needed less tricky camera work if Trejo had been fighting DeNiro. I wasn't convinced Seagal could hold a sword for ten seconds. I don't know what it was.

The movie's full of posing, of allegedly iconic moments. When I was younger, I dug this stuff. I remember thinking how cool it was in Desperado that a guy's guitar case was actually a machine gun. I liked the Mariachi trilogy more. I think I even liked Planet Terror more. Machete is fine while watching it, but I felt like I'd eaten too much junk food the morning after.

I'm ready for Robert Rodriguez to put out his own Inglourious Basterds, as I see RR as QT's perpetual little brother. It may be, though, that Rodriguez is never going to be able to top what he did in Sin City, and this level is his future.

P.S. Kudos for having three LOST alum in the cast.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

AMC's Rubicon - TV Review

I have this on my DVR, and I watched two episodes, and I'm wondering if this is going to pay off. It's remarkably unsentimental about its characters. There is no expository dialogue; it's as though we're eavesdropping on morose code-breakers at the CIA and all their dialogue is in the natural short-hand you can have with co-workers you've known for years. So far it's dense and joyless and I'm just wondering if it'll be worth the time investment.

Dwayne Johnson joins Journey 2

I guess the spectacular success of Furry Vengenace has made Brendan Fraser a bit big for his britches. He will not be back for Journey to the Center of the Earth 2, though Josh Hutcherson will. Coming Soon reports that Dwayne Johnson has signed on to play his uncle and that it'll be loosely based on Jules Verne's The Mysterious Island, hence the official title:

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island